Be glad the Chicago Cubs hit that cold spell prior to the deadline

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

We have finally reached a badly-needed All-Star Break. The Chicago Cubs have fallen off a cliff after a 19-8 record in May, after which the team found themselves in first place. Since then, they’ve gone 14-23 now trail Milwaukee by a full eight games in the National League Central.

The team has entered sell mode and the writing is on the wall for the Cubs as we know them. While things seem gloomy, it’s a good thing we bore witness to this brutal stretch now rather than later.

We know all too well the streakiness and volatility of these Cubs. In 2018 we watched them blow a six-game division lead in the second half which included a loss in game 163 to the Brewers and a Wild Card loss to the Rockies – both coming at Wrigley Field. We then watched this group in 2019 go 11-16 in September and miss out on a postseason berth entirely. And let’s not forgot 2020 when this team won the division only to get swept in a two-game Wild Card series to the Miami Marlins where they only managed one measly run.

These late season meltdowns have really exposed this team and it circles back to how it was constructed. A great deal of upside but a ton of feast or famine tendencies and not much consistency from a contact and on-base standpoint. When they’re on, there’s no one better but when they’re off, it’s tough to say it, but there may not be worse.

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Over the past 30 days, the Cubs are batting an MLB-worst .205 and also have the worst OPS at .626. They also have the 24th-worst team ERA at 5.17 these last 30 days. Everything that could be ‘off’ right now is for this team, evidenced by that brutal 11-game losing streak.

As bad as things are it’s actually a good thing we’ve hit this stretch prior to the end of July. Knowing this group isn’t any different than in years past saves us the expectation and another disappointing collapse that we’ve watched over the past three years. We can now gameplan for the future and the trade deadline at the end of the month gives Jed Hoyer a golden opportunity to get the ball rolling.

Had the Cubs stayed in first and ended up adding at the deadline, I believe it would have just delayed the inevitable. The starting pitching isn’t built for success, the bullpen had to come down to earth at some point given the insane workload they’ve carried and the offense has shown us a lack of consistency for years now.

As much as I would love for the Cubs to take a Rays-like approach where they do an excellent job of keeping one eye on the future and one on the present, the reality is we may witness a larger sell-off than fans have hoped for. Hoyer has made it clear this won’t be anything like 2014 and that it won’t be a rebuild so having the same mindset as the Rays could help this team get back to competitiveness quicker.

The Cubs can now trade Craig Kimbrel and get more back for him than they could have ever hoped for, along with other bullpen names like Andrew Chafin who are at a high point right now. They don’t need to blow this thing up but if Hoyer takes a realistic approach this team can sell while maintaining some sort of competitiveness.

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It’s an uncertain time for this organization and a lot of people feel uneasy right now. However, this is a good thing for the Cubs and their future. This stretch has given us all the chance to be honest with our expectations for this group and Hoyer can use this deadline to build for the future and set the stage for what’s to come. Let’s hope the front office finally makes some extension offers in the midst of all the madness as well.