For the past two weeks, the general atmosphere around the Chicago Cubs has been one of despair, shock, acknowledgement and, for some fans, maybe even depression. The focus has been on the maelstrom of losing games and the prospect of losing players as the inevitable “selloff” has finally gotten underway with the jettisoning of Joc Pederson to Atlanta.
The 11-game Cubs losing streak that went along with 13 Brewers wins in a span of 14 games certainly didn’t help matters, but since coughing up the division lead, things have stabilized and possibly changed a bit. Since July 3, the Brewers are just 4-6, perhaps giving the indication that they might not be running away with things as much as some may have thought just a couple weeks ago.
Meanwhile, the Cubs have now won three of their last four, including the first two out of the All-Star gate. So what, you say, right? We can still all count on Craig Kimbrel, Kris Bryant and Javier Baez getting traded in the next two weeks, yeah?
Well, maybe not so fast… Hear me out here.
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After letting Kyle Schwarber and Jon Lester walk in the offseason and then trading Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini to the Padres for prospects very few people knew or wanted, the general consensus was that the Cubs were starting to unload and rebuild during the winter and early spring. But, as Billy Joel once said, something happened on the way to that place. Miraculously, money was found and COVID-19 restrictions started to lift, allowing some in the Cubs’ business office and owner’s box to start opening up the coffers just a tad. Ironically, this is what led us to the Pederson signing.
What if the Cubs jumped the gun on a selloff yet again in this wacky season? What if, and i’m spitballiing theoretically here, the Cubs went on a run of winning their next seven of eight? What if, during that time, Milwaukee drops their next seven of eight? That would seat the Cubs in second place in the division, just one game behind the Brewers, heading into a four game series at home against the Reds on July 26th. How can you explain to fans and anyone playing on the field that the sell-off is necessary because the Cubs just aren’t in contention? How do you sell abandoning a possible run at the playoffs because trades, contracts, and possible extensions have been mismanaged for years?
How can the Chicago Cubs sell if they’re back in contention?
As it already stands, the Cubs just traded Pederson to a team with a worse record. Let that one sink in. Sure, you could say they’re closer to the Mets in the NL East, but honestly, with the Wild Cards and schedules the rest of the way, both teams are still in contention regardless what is happening at the top of the divisions (especially if one of the NL West teams drops off at some point).
I’m not saying the Cubs are going to miraculously turn into a juggernaut when we all know there are some large flaws and holes in our favorite team, some of which have been left untended for years. What I am questioning is how the ownership and front office can sell a complete teardown and selloff in the next two weeks if the Cubs are still in contention either in the NL Central or Wild Card standings?
The next couple days will be riveting as Cubs fans, especially if Chicago continues to win in Arizona and St. Louis this week.