If only Javy Baez took his own advice more often, maybe the Cubs wouldn’t be in their current quandary.
After Sunday’s loss in Arizona, Baez talked about swinging for singles and getting on base more in the second half of the season.
“I just get too excited, to be honest,” he said. “My legs are my power and once I control them and I control my timing, I see the ball good. But when I start jumping to the ball and trying so hard to hit the ball so hard and so far, in my case, I’ve just got to slow down and try to see the ball better.”
It sounds good, but even in the Diamondbacks series, Baez had some turns at the plate where he unloaded his patented 500-foot home run swing on a pitch that was nowhere near the strike zone.
The Cubs followed up the loss in Arizona with one of their most poorly played games in recent memory. Three errors in the fourth inning led to 4 unearned runs and the Cubs couldn’t compete in an 8-3 loss to St. Louis on Monday.
There’s plenty of sentimental value to the Cubs keeping the World Series nucleus together. There’s obviously been speculation Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo could be on the move before the July 30 trade deadline.
But games like this one are also reminders this group hasn’t won a playoff game since 2017. And there’s no correct answer to this situation now. Maybe trading some of the core guys will turn out to be the best decision for the future, maybe it won’t.
A New York Post column implored the Mets to make a trade for Bryant. Jon Heyman of mlb.com went on WSCR 670-AM on Monday and suggested it would take $200 million to get an extension done for Bryant.
Who knows if that figure is accurate. But it is probably safe to say there’s a sizable gap between what Baez, Bryant and Rizzo believe they are worth as free agents, and what the Cubs think makes sense for the future.
As far as trades go, the biggest question is what are teams willing to give up? The Cubs would surely appreciate a top 100 prospect or two to fortify their low-ranked minor league system. But would they make a move if the best offer was a basket of Class A players?
The Mets just had shortstop Francisco Lindor and ace pitcher Jacob deGrom go on the injured list. So maybe they are anxious to make a move, but it’s also possible the Mets decide it’s not their year, hang up the phone and hang onto their best prospects.
San Francisco might be a more likely destination for Bryant as a team that could believe it’s one player away from going back to the World Series with an even older nucleus than the Cubs.
Trailing 1-0 in the fourth inning Monday, the 3 errors pretty much put the game out of reach. Patrick Wisdom had the first miscue, then Baez had two in a row. First, Baez tried to grab a high-bouncer on a short hop and couldn’t make the pickup. Then with the bases loaded, Baez made a wild throw to the plate on a play where he had plenty of time.
Cubs starter Alec Mills walked in a run later in the inning. But thanks to the errors, he threw 81 pitches in 4 innings.
“I hadn’t seen a game like that in it feels like a while,” manager David Ross said after the game. “I thought Millsy made some really good pitches. He pitched really well in that inning, it’s kind of a shame. I feel like that was really uncharacteristic of this group as of late.”
Then in the top of the fifth, the Cubs loaded the bases with nobody out and pinch-hitter Ian Happ hit into an easy double play to end the momentum. Happ is now hitting .180 on the season and has gone 3 for his last 27. The Cubs may have to consider sending Happ to Iowa to clear his head.
One highlight for the Cubs was a home run and 3 hits by Wisdom against his former team. Dillon Maples came off the injured list to pitch for the first time since June 14.