Competing Against a Real Big Payroll Club, Extra-Innings Fits, Double-Header History, PCA’s Day, and Other Cubs Bullets

The 2022 MLB Draft begins tonight at 6pm CT, and will feature rounds one and two. The Cubs pick at number 7 overall, and again at 47. I’m stoked. I just always get super into the draft, and this year it feels all the more exciting given the outsized importance of building the farm right now.

Ah, but about the big league team …

  • The losing streak has hit nine after yesterday’s double-header sweep, and while I agree with the sentiment of David Ross’s post-game comments, I think he said more than he intended with this one (via NBCSC):
  • “The effort’s there. That’s what I look for,” Ross said after the Game 2 loss. “These guys fighting to the end today after we didn’t play really clean baseball. Kind made some mistakes that gave that game away.

    “And still, these guys are fighting tooth and nail right to the last pitch — bases loaded, Wrigley Field on their feet, the back end of a doubleheader. It’s really impressive to me, the character of the group.

    “We’re going to find a way to win. These guys keep giving the effort every single day, day-night doubleheader against a first-place team with a $300 million payroll. These guys are fighting their ass off. So really proud of that. Really proud of that.”

  • First: yes, I do appreciate that the players keep pushing and keeping things close, even in the face of a terrible record and yet another ever-growing losing streak. There are some “winning” players on this team. I really believe that.
  • However … the MERE MENTION of payroll in this context is the kind of thing that opens your eyes. Yes, the Mets do have a uniquely large payroll this year, and yes, it’s a talking point totally unrelated to the Cubs. But you’ve got the manager of a bad team, in the middle of a rebuild, talking about how his team is competing – but losing – when facing the big-money-spending-aggressive team. There’s a point there that I don’t think Ross was making, but that is nevertheless impossible not to take away: the Cubs don’t right now have or deploy the same financial resources as the Mets (or Dodgers), and going forward – if it doesn’t change – that would be a factor in the team’s competitiveness.
  • Is all that in the back of Ross’s mind, as the losses pile up on his watch? As the Trade Deadline looms? As the uncertainty lingers about what the heck the Cubs will do to improve this roster for 2023? It’s gotta be a crap situation for a manager to be in, but again, I doubt *HE* was trying to send some coded barb to the front office and ownership. Instead, he was just making an accurate point … and then *WE* can take away something more from it.
  • The losses yesterday dropped the Cubs to an incredible 3-11 this year in extra innings, and the reason is not all that complicated: the Cubs have been abysmal at scoring the free runner. Last night, when Christopher Morel drove in David Bote in the 10th, it felt like the first time the Cubs had scored the free runner in forever. They still lost, of course, thanks to the even freer runs they’d given up in the top half (a bases-loaded HBP, and an errant pick-off throw into center field).
  • “Fun” historical fact about yesterday:
  • Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered, but this is how Nelson Velazquez struck out in the 10th:
  • What bothers me most is not just the clearly incorrect call – Velazquez never came remotely close to offering at the pitch, or going too far in his swing – it’s that the home plate umpire made it without just appealing to first base. There’s just no reason for that umpire, who also had the quick trigger finger on ejecting Ian Happ earlier in the game and also David Ross on Thursday, to make that call.
  • As discussed in the two EBS’s, the outings were decent yesterday from both Marcus Stroman and Drew Smyly, even as both were much less efficient than they probably wanted to be (just 4.1 innings apiece, despite getting upwards of 80 pitches).
  • From Stroman on where things stand, via The Athletic: “I’m too present to really look back and do that, man,” Stroman said when asked to assess the first half of this rebuilding season. “I’m headed in the right direction. I was on the IL 19 days with COVID (in May), so I don’t put too much into how I pitched after that. But, yeah, my body feels great, and I’m where I want to be mechanically, so just take this into each and every start.”
  • In something else more positive from yesterday, Pete Crow-Armstrong had a good Futures Game experience as the representative for the Chicago Cubs:
  • Also positive from yesterday, Scott Effross continues to make hitters so angry with his effectiveness:
  • Matt Mervis, man:
  • Show off:
  • This poor kid, but yes, this is hilarious:
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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