I have been out camping this entire weekend, so I missed out on all the trade reactions throughout baseball, including those fans made about the ones the Chicago Cubs made. This is probably a good thing, as that allowed me to give you my unfiltered and unaffected thoughts. I know that the Cubs did not make that big splash fans were hoping for, but the deals that they did make were very productive.
While I would have loved to see the Cubs add a Cole Hamels or a David Price to really strengthen their rotation, I am more than happy with the addition of Dan Haren. He (like Hamels or Price), strengthens the rotation. He is far better than either Clayton Richard or Dallas Beeler. He might only be topping out at the mid to high 80s with his fastball, but he is an inning eater who can still get guys out. He is not a splashy move, but he is one that does make the Cubs better.
Then we have Tommy Hunter. Another good, yet seemingly underwhelming addition to the team. I would rather have Craig Kimbrel or Aroldis Chapman of course, but do not underestimate how good Hunter can be for this team. From the sound of things (again, I missed games Friday and Saturday night) he had a very impressive outing against he Milwaukee Brewers. He might eventually take over as the team’s closer; but if not, throwing in the upper 90s makes the back end of the Cubs bullpen devastating. Best part is, he did not cost nearly as much as Chapman would have; all he cost was Junior Lake who could not beat out Chris Coghlan for a starting job. Lake looks like a Major League player and has all the tools, but at 25 he has yet to put everything together. Perhaps a change of scenery will be good for him and allow him to be the player many thought he would be. I wish him luck.
While these trade deadline deals might not be eye popping, they are very good deals for the Cubs. The question you want to ask yourself, is how much of your future do you want to trade away for a one game coin flip? If the team was in contention for the division, that would be one thing, but the Cubs are just trying to get into a one game play in situation. You do not want to sell out tomorrow for a chance today. Look how things ended with the Oakland Athletics last year. Billy Beane destroyed his farm to improve his team, and went from best team in the Majors to hoping to win the play in game.
Selling out the farm on rentals is not how you build a consistent contender. However, sending out players who you do not see as a part of a future conder for those rentals are. I am sure that Ivan Pineyro and Elliot Soto are fine players, as is Lake, but Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer did not see them as key components to future team’s success so they became expendable to improve the team’s chances for today.
Let’s not kid ourselves though. The Cubs did not massively improve their ballclub to the point you thought they could compete with the St. Louis Cardinals for the division crown. That was never the goal when the season began, and became obvious that would not be likely when the season began. I am not sure there was a trade the team could have made which would have improved the team that much. What the Cubs did do though, was possibly improve themselves just enough to secure that one game play in game.
The team is playing better than anyone realistically expected going into the year, and might be a year ahead of schedule. Kris Bryant and Addison Russell are facing harder competition than they ever have before, and are playing far more games in a season then at anytime before in their careers. You can see they are wearing down, and hitting the “rookie wall”. If the Cub do miss the play in game, that might be the biggest reason why. Their young team, did not have the stamina to reach the regular season finish line. That is not to say they are not a good team, just young and inexperienced.
But the moves the team made should help the Cubs reach the finish line and give them a shot of making the playoffs. Epstein and Hoyer might not have gone all out to make the team better, but they might have done enough to get them there.