By Todd Johnson
The first half of the major league season concludes today. With an underwhelming record of 43-44, the Cubs are not in a free fall, but Theo Epstein was everywhere this week commenting on the state of the Cubs. While not necessarily damage control, it sure came across as such. Whether it was a press junk Thursday or appearing on Speigel and Parkins on the Score on Friday, Theo put forth the company line.
Here are a few excerpts from the two days.
- To pull ourselves out of it, we just need to play better.
- Look, if we can improve the club through trade, we will, but our biggest fixes are inside the clubhouse. This is a team that’s largely the same club that won 200 games, averaged 100 wins a year over the last two years.
- There’s not going to be a fundamental shift in the player personnel that we have. We like our club. We don’t like the way we’ve played to date.
- Guys need to continue the growth they’ve shown in previous years and get ourselves out of some of the disappointing performances that we’ve had so far. It’s as simple as that. The answer is not going to be with some crazy trades.
What does bode well for the Cubs in the second half is the Strength of Schedule. The Cubs have 74 games left to play after today. It is not a very strong schedule. Iin fact, in the second half, the Cubs only play teams with a +.500 record 21 times. 6 vs D’Backs, 10 vs Brewers, 3 vs the Nats, and 2 against the Rays. That’s just 3 games in July, 9 in August, and 9 in September. That is hopeful that the Cubs can make a run at both the Brewers and the Rockies.
July Series: Orioles, Braves, Cardinals, White Sox, Brewers
August Series: D’Backs, Nationals, Giants, D’Backs, Reds, Blue Jays, Reds, Phillies, Pirates, Braves
September: Braves, Pirates, Brewers, Mets, Cardinals, Rays, Brewers, Cardinals, Reds
Promotions and Movement
There were several minor league roster changes this week and I expect there to be even more next week as draft picks are assigned to a club. By rule, after the ink has dried, the Cubs have only 15 days to put the new Cub with a team.
To Iowa – P Jen-Ho Tseng, reliever Justin Hancock
To Tennessee – P Adbert Alzolay, P Zach Hedges
To Myrtle Beach – P Duncan Robinson, 3B Adonis Paula
To South Bend – 3B/1B/OF Joe Martarano for a few days, IF Austin Upshaw, C Tyler Payne, DJ Wilson
To Eugene – RP Casey Ryan. RP Brian Glowicki, RP Jacob Steffens, OF Brandon Hughes, 3B Austin Filiere, C Michael Cruz, 2B Jared Young, and IF Joe Martarano is back after a few days
More happenings will be coming this week as draft picks finish mini-camp.
The Draft Signing Period Ends
The Cubs officially signed a staggering 29 picks, the most in the Theo Era. The Cubs were able to ink first rounder Alex Lange, 6th round pitcher Jeremiah Estrada, and young Puerto Rican OF Nelson Velazquez on the last day. Here is the official list and who they signed are in bold. Later this week, I will be back with a post about who is where and how they are doing.
Other Posts Coming up this week on Cubs Central
Jose Albertos Debut in Eugene
Draft Pick Assignments
State of the Cubs Post: Dissecting Theo’s Remarks
Dylan Cease Review
A Top 21 List without Caratini
Around the Minors This Week
The Cubs named Thomas Hatch and Victor Caratini as the June Pitcher and Player of the Month. As a result, my streak of correctly matching with the Cubs ends. I had Bijan Rademacher as my hitter.
Iowa: 3-4; 38-48 – The bats went a bit silent this week. I did see the new guy, Carasiti, close. He looks like he could help as he throws in the mid-90s.
Myrtle Beach: 3-4; 6-10 – Eddy Martinez and Matt Rose are having great months and Dakota Mekkes still has not allowed an earned run at high A. The starting pitching that was so dominant in June has fallen off this month.
South Bend: 5-2; 7-10 – They look to be turning it around. The bats are waking up and Tyson Miller had his best outing of the year in a spot start against Dayton when he K’d 7. Draft pick Austin Usphaw looks like the real deal. If they can improve their defense and get somee stability in the bullpen, they could go on a run.
Eugene: 2-5 ; 13-11 – Tied for First
Lots of new bodies in town and it could change things as players now compete for playing time. Jhonny Bethencourt is having a nice run now in the leadoff spot and Jared Young is much bigger and better that I thought. He has a nice smooth stroke. I got to see Jake Steffens make his debut on Saturday in relief. He throws downhill quite a bit. He will be tough to square up. Manuel Rodriguez came in throwing 96 last night in relief. He struck out 9 guys in two games in relief this week. A
Mesa: 2-3; 5-7 – Not a good week for the bats to quiet down. The starting pitching is still a work in progress. Carson Sands had another good start in his rehab.
DSL 1: 5-2; 15-16 – They are finally getting some good starting pitching and had a good week.
DSL 2: 4-2; 16-15 – Alonso Gaitan continues to rake as this squad is now putting up some crooked numbers every day.
Players of the Week