Not Every Game is a Referendum on the Buy-Sell Decision
When the Cubs lose a big game (and last night was a big game), we have a tendency to want to do more with it than we should. When the Cubs lose a game in ugly fashion (and last night’s loss was a little more concerning than a typical loss), we have a tendency to want to extrapolate a little too much. Last night was bad, but it was, as always, just one of 162.
I said at the outset of this Brewers series that I wasn’t ready to make any grand pronouncements on its basis, and I stand by that even after last night.
Yes, I do think the scales are tipped in favor of selling because of the makeup of the roster, the lack of extensions, the needs in the farm system, and the Yu Darvish trade that preceded the season. I think the presumption has always been – going back multiple years – the moment the Cubs show they are maybe not competing, the trades will come. But I don’t think the Cubs are there quite yet, mostly because of the calendar.
You would have liked to have known, for sure, what the Cubs were going to be doing in either direction by the end of June. But baseball is a dynamic thing, leaving you often to take it as it comes, critically evaluating your reality, again and again. This Cubs team has done enough to leave open the question of competitiveness for a while longer. The standings and recent performances and state of the rotation certainly sew a few more doubts than we’ve had in a little while, but the schedule is softening, guys are getting healthy, and things can change in significant ways in a week. What if the Brewers go on a losing streak and suffer a couple injuries? What if the Cubs get really hot when Nico Hoerner and Matt Duffy return? What if the Cubs finally get a decent run of starts from the rotation?
I’m not saying I’d bet on that stuff as I sit here today. Someone on Twitter asked me what I’d do if I were the Cubs and the Trade Deadline were today. I’d sell. But the Trade Deadline isn’t today. There is still more information to be gained by waiting, and almost nothing to be lost, because the market isn’t developed yet anyway.
So there are no buy-sell pronouncements from me, after last night’s loss, or probably even after the next two days.
The biggest pronouncement I’d make is, to me, not that big of a pronouncement at this point: being an early buyer is probably now off the table for the Cubs.
There was a time when I was banging the drum again and again for the Cubs to add a capable starting pitcher sooner rather than later, but that time has passed. It might not have matter anyway, and it’s not like the market for starting pitchers is moving at all, so whatever. Might’ve been the kind of thing you know you’d like to do, but just isn’t gonna be possible. But the point now is that, with the Cubs a decent clip back, and July about to arrive, they’re almost certainly gonna just have to hold pat for a while and see what shakes loose. Buying now means paying a premium, and I’m not sure the Cubs could justify the kind of premium necessary to acquire the kind of pitcher who could make enough of a difference between now and July 30. Plus, with Trevor Williams and Justin Steele on rehab assignments, the Cubs are going to have more innings on the way anyway.
Save your assets, and reassess in a few weeks.
To reiterate the theme here, that is not a meaningless truism. Chilling out, and getting a status check in a couple weeks is the right approach. For all we know, the Cubs will win the final two games of this series, the Brewers will have to play some actual baseball teams, and the Cubs tighten things up by late July. Maybe you wouldn’t bet on it, but look at the schedule and the guys getting healthy. It’s perfectly plausible.