This is a tough area for Theo and Co. to assess because if they choose to make a move, it will, for the most part, be based on past history and not current results. Since the break, the Cubs starters have once again found their mojo and returned to the level they were at prior to the All-Star break. The two presumptive “weak links” — Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks— have pitched well and haven’t shown signs of dropping off–yet—in the second half.
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Hammel has dropped off in the past two years, and his career numbers indicate that (56-45 in the first half, 23-37 in the second half). More relevant than the record is the ERA that jumps from 3.99 to 5.05 for his career. Hammel has made adjustments to his delivery as well as to his physical well-being, so would it be worth writing him off just yet?
Jim Bowden of ESPN recently discussed the top five teams that have a chance to pry away Chris Sale from the White Sox, and he had the Cubs at the top of that list (Subscription required). The proposed package was Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber, Kyle Hendricks and Jeimer Candelario. Absolutely no way in hell is this trade reasonable. Look, Sale is a great pitcher, one of the best in the game. But Happ and Schwarber are two of the best finds in the draft offensively, and Hendricks only continues to get better. Team control at a great rate or not, that’s not worth giving up. On top of that? Sale is still beatable and his mechanics concern me more than his “jersey destruction” hissy fit.
Chris Archer is another name that continues to surface, but I don’t feel like the Cubs are as vested as they once were in Archer. At 5-14 it’s been a steady decline from where he was last season, and the is up from 3.23 to 4.42. One of the biggest issues has been the long ball as Archer has allowed 21 this season–two more than he allowed all of last year. It could simply be a hiccup in his career, but the Cubs will want to improve things for this year, not just for the future. I don’t feel Archer would be an upgrade at this point.
Next: Strengthen the offense?