A plug here for Disney+ if you were thinking of watching ‘Black Widow’ when it releases on the Premier Access thing tomorrow. I’m still deciding how/when/where I want to see it, but it’s wild, man. It’s the first new Marvel movie release since the last Spider-Man over TWO YEARS AGO. Including ‘Black Widow,’ there will now be SEVEN new MCU movies over the next calendar year.
• It was undoubtedly a good feeling and a relief for the Cubs to win one and shake off the losing streak last night. Just exhale. It doesn’t change anything from my perspective on the plan for this month, but that couldn’t have been a fun two weeks. And Craig Kimbrel actually got to finish a game! It’s never a good sign when you have to remember what it feels like to wake up after a win.
• What happens now? Status quo, says Anthony Rizzo. “I think we just go out and play tomorrow and try to get another win and get on a little streak here,” Rizzo said, per Cubs.com. “Finish the half, finish it as strong as we can. Everything that’s going to be written is going to be written. And you guys are going to ask the questions and we’re probably just going to dodge them and avoid them and say it’s all rumors. You definitely hear it, but our job as baseball players – and I think most of us in this clubhouse have been around long enough to know that – you’ve just got to keep playing and whatever happens, happens.”
Rizzo, Mills on snapping losing streak. pic.twitter.com/3c7K66Bk4a
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) July 8, 2021
• Nico Hoerner sure seems to be picking up right where he left off, working great at bats, roping liners/hard grounders early in the count, and just getting the barrel on the ball for dunk shots when he gets behind. You’d love to see a little more elevation so he could be hitting for more power, but at the same time, you don’t want to lose what’s currently making him special. Despite the lack of ISO, the way he impacts the ball is still going to lead to defenses playing him straight up, and his discipline has been good enough for pitchers not to be able to just pound the zone. If all that holds, Hoerner could be that rare guy who hits well over .300 and also gets on base at a really sizable clip without necessarily hitting for a lot of “power.” You’d gladly take that.
• Either this is kinda bs, which is bad, or it’s true, and that’s also bad:
Arrieta’s right hamstring has been bothering him since late May, according to Ross, who said they didn’t consider not starting him last night. #Cubs
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) July 7, 2021
• Like I said about the IL move, I’m sure Arrieta really did have a tight hamstring or whatever, as virtually all players have something like that at this point in the season. So if that’s all Ross is referencing, then he’s basically just doing Arrieta a solid by creating the public possibility that he could be pitching much better if he just got some rest. I don’t think it’s going to ultimately impact the Cubs in any way, though, and I don’t think it’s really a case where Arrieta was “pitching injured” and that explains everything.
• Justin Steele was stretched out to over two innings last night at Iowa, though it seemed like he faded a bit as he got above 40 pitches. That’s to be expected, and I don’t know that I see him transitioning successfully back into a starter gig. But I do think it’s worth the try, and I don’t know that anything is lost in the effort – Steele still figures, when healthy, to be a very good and versatile reliever if nothing else.
• Your one small caveat with Steele: because of the timing of his hamstring injury and rehab assignment, we haven’t seen him pitch in the post-sticky-stuff-enforcement era. I’m not making any claims here, obviously! I’m just pointing it out because clearly there is a difference for some pitchers (and Steele is a super elite spin rate guy), so it’s handy to see the before and after for evaluative purposes. Since Steele has been in the minors, we don’t have that. We do know that he’s struck out only two batters over his 6.2 innings at Iowa, which is *really* weird, but sometimes you have stuff like that when a guy is just rehabbing. So again, no judgment or anything like that yet – just a note that we need to see how he looks when he returns.
• The Home Run Derby bracket:
MLB has set the bracket for Monday’s Home Run Derby: pic.twitter.com/7eoaHINmLs
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 8, 2021
• Please be Shohei Ohtani and Joey Gallo in the final. I kinda hate their first round match-ups, though, because I don’t really want to see Juan Soto (so much fun) or Trevor Story (hometown guy) bounced in the first round.
• Throwing it back to one of the most exciting trades I can remember experiencing:
𝐉𝐮𝐥𝐲 𝟖, 𝟐𝟎𝟎𝟖
The Cubs make a 5-player trade with A's, acquiring pitcher Rich Harden in exchange for prospects, one of which was Josh Donaldson! 🧐
In his time in Chicago, Harden went 14-10 with a 3.31 ERA.
He had 260 K's in 210 IP. pic.twitter.com/vn5byE7y2z
— This Day in Chicago Sports (@ChiSportsDay) July 8, 2021
• At the time, Josh Donaldson was not viewed as the lynchpin of the trade, or even one of the top three guys, depending on who you asked. Most writeups – like this one at ESPN – had the trade as netting the A’s young righty Sean Gallagher, former top prospect Matt Murton, big upside young outfielder Eric Patterson … and then also a catching prospect who wasn’t hitting at all in Low-A named Josh Donaldson. Everyone else in the deal got multiple paragraph mentions, while the entirety of the Donaldson discussion is this: “Donaldson, a catcher for Class A Peoria, was hitting .217 with six homers.”
• Random, and different front offices, but it’s interesting how many “big” very early trades the Cubs have been involved in over the last 15 years, from that Harden deal to the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel combo deal, to the Jake Arrieta/Pedro Strop deal, to the Aroldis Chapman trade, which wasn’t quite as early as those ones, but was still a week before the deadline. The Jose Quintana trade was at the All-Star break, too.
• Avoiding a potential conflict with the NBA Finals:
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) July 7, 2021
• Good for both Eloy Jimenez and the White Sox – that was a fast rehab:
BREAKING NEWS! Eloy Jiménez will begin his rehab assignment on Friday with Winston-Salem. pic.twitter.com/Unb9BxSVNf
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 8, 2021