The final five games of the first half should, in all honesty, be looked at by Cubs brass as 'must-win' affairs. As of this writing on Tuesday afternoon, Chicago is 7 1/2 games behind the first-place Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central - erasing all the gains made during their June hot streak over the last week-plus.
Cubs front office gets no love in this midseason breakdown
One of our fellow FanSided sites, Call to the Pen, is working its way around the league doing team-by-team midseason report cards and handing out grades to each front office. For their efforts, broken down, roughly, by free agent addition/subtractions, trades and farm system production, Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins are handed a resounding 'D'.
"As solid as the Swanson pickup was, and as borderline solid as the Bellinger signing has been, the work of Hosmer, Mancini and Taillon has more than undermined it. To date, the Cubs’ entire season can be summarized in the free agent work of Hoyer and Carter: two steps forward, three steps back."- Bill Felber on the 2023 Cubs
As Felber points out, the positive gains made in the Swanson signing have been negated by the disasters that are Eric Hosmer, Trey Mancini, Jameson Taillon (and, you might as well include Brad Boxberger on that list). Every time the Cubs seem to figure something out and the top of the NL Central is within reach, they go on a bender that drops them back toward the bottom of the pack.
I do take exception with Felber's assessment of the farm system, saying it hasn't produced a team leader because last time I checked, Justin Steele - a homegrown prospect - owns the best ERA in all of baseball and just earned the first All-Star selection of his career. He's definitely flying under the national radar, but he won't for much longer if he keeps it up.
The point he makes though, is solid. The work turned in by the front office - or at least the results yielded by their efforts - have been disappointing, at best, and have left Chicago spinning its wheels, stuck in limbo between buying and selling with less than a month to go until the trade deadline.