Beaten up by Rockies, Cubs need more pitching by trade deadline


Beaten up by Rockies, Cubs need more pitching by trade deadline

The Cubs can’t keep giving away games like this.

The boos started in the first inning on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. Dallas Beeler had just given up three doubles and a walk to the first four Colorado Rockies he faced, the Cubs falling behind by three runs. 

Wait…aren’t the Rockies supposed to be feeling the hangover from trading face-of-the-franchise shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays? And didn’t the Cubs create all this feel-good momentum with Monday night’s dramatic walk-off win?

Whatever, this 7-2 loss again exposed how much the Cubs need to acquire a starter before Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline. Fans all over Twitter are already on Hug Watch, wondering why manager Joe Maddon double-switched shortstop Starlin Castro out of the game in the eighth inning, curious if the Cubs had a blockbuster deal brewing with the San Diego Padres.

[MORE CUBS: What’s next for Cubs after missing on Zobrist and Papelbon?]

Maddon explained his baseball reasoning in the interview room/dungeon. Castro, who’s normally available at his locker, declined to speak with reporters through a team spokesman, waiting to meet the media until Wednesday morning.  

“Conjecture is such a wonderful part of our game,” Maddon said. “It’s so interesting this time of the year. I understand that. But even if there was something that I knew, I wouldn’t say anything anyway.

“I think it’s great that the conjecture occurs right now. I think it’s good for the game.

“It’s tough for Starlin if his name’s mentioned that often. That’s where it becomes difficult – for the guy (whose) name is being bandied about.”  

It doesn’t even have to be Cole Hamels or David Price, a big contract or the hired gun that doesn’t seem to make financial sense for Theo Epstein’s baseball operations department right now, or would mean ripping apart whatever’s left of the farm system.

“I always believe you can never get enough pitching,” Maddon said.

Beeler came up from Triple-A Iowa to make his second spot start in a week and got four outs, giving up four runs before leaving it in the hands of a bullpen that appears to be in another skid. The last-place Rockies buried a Cubs team (52-47) coming off a weekend sweep by the last-place Philadelphia Phillies.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

The Cubs have now given 13 starts to Beeler, Tsuyoshi Wada, Clayton Richard and Donn Roach – and gotten two quality starts from that group.

“I don’t know” became Maddon’s answer when asked about the fifth spot in the rotation. (Richard threw seven scoreless innings for Iowa on Tuesday in Nashville.)

Maddon wouldn’t immediately rule out the idea of putting Travis Wood back in the rotation. Wood came in for Beeler and gave up one run in 3.2 innings, striking out six of the 13 batters he faced. But it’s not Maddon’s first choice, believing the lefty has become too valuable out of the bullpen.

Maybe the answer becomes going back to the Padres (Ian Kennedy) or making a deal with the Miami Marlins (Dan Haren) or hoping the Cincinnati Reds would trade within the division (Mike Leake).

A rental pitcher works if these are going to be the two most important months of the season. The Cubs hope the prices drop closer to the deadline. (Another soon-to-be free agent – Miami’s Mat Latos – is a gifted pitcher who comes with the reputation for being difficult, at times, in the clubhouse.)

The Cubs aren’t going to overreact, but they’re now 2.5 games out of the second wild-card spot, watching the San Francisco Giants surge back into the playoff picture.

“You can’t get too high when things are going well,” Epstein said. “You can’t get too low when they’re not. We were in a competitive race for the postseason a week ago, two weeks ago, and we still are today. We’re just in a little bit worse position than we were.

“It’s our job to pull ourselves out of it.”

Cubs fight back after Javy Baez ejection: 'We're not animals'

Cubs fight back after Javy Baez ejection: 'We're not animals'

If baseball wants stars that transcend the game, they need guys like Javy Baez on the field MORE, not less.

That whole debate and baseball's marketing campaign isn't the issue the Cubs took exception with, but it's still a fair point on a nationally-televised Saturday night game between the Cubs and Cardinals at Wrigley Field.

Baez was ejected from the game in the bottom of the fifth inning when he threw his bat and helmet in frustration at home plate umpire Will Little's call that the Cubs second baseman did NOT check his swing and, in fact, went around. 

Baez was initially upset that Little made the call himself instead of deferring to first base umpire Ted Barrett for a better view. But as things escalated, Baez threw his bat and helmet and was promptly thrown out of the game by Little.

"I don't think I said anything to disrespect anything or anyone," Baez said after the Cubs' 6-3 loss. "It was a pretty close call. I only asked for him to check the umpire at first and he didn't say anything.

"I threw my helmet and he just threw me out from there. I mean, no reason. I guess for my helmet, but that doesn't have anything to do with him."

Baez and the Cubs would've rather Little check with the umpire who had a better view down the line, but that wasn't even the main point of contention. It was how quickly Little escalated to ejection.

"We're all human," Baez said. "One way or the other, it was gonna be the wrong [call] for one of the teams.

"My message? We're not animals. Sometimes we ask where was a pitch or if it was a strike and it's not always offending them. I think we can talk things out. But I don't think there was anything there to be ejected."

Upon seeing his second baseman and cleanup hitter ejected in the middle of a 1-0 game against a division rival, Joe Maddon immediately got fired up and in Little's face in a hurry.

Maddon was later ejected, as well, and admitted after the game he was never going to leave the field unless he was tossed for protecting his guy.

"He had no reason to kick him out," Maddon said. "He didn't say anything to him. I mean, I watched the video. If you throw stuff, that's a fine. That's fineable. Fine him. That's what I said — fine him — but you cannot kick him out right there.

"He did nothing to be kicked out of that game. He did throw his stuff, whatever, but he did not say anything derogatory towards the umpire.

"...You don't kick Javy out. If he gets in your face and is obnoxious or belligerent or whatever, but he did not. He turned his back to him. That needs to be addressed, on both ends."

Maddon and the Cubs really want Major League Baseball to get involved in this situation. 

There are many other layers to the issue, including veteran Ben Zobrist having to come into the game as Baez's replacement. Maddon was not keen on using the 37-year-old Zobrist for 1.5 games during Saturday's doubleheader and now feels like he has to rest the veteran Sunday to lessen the wear and tear of a difficult stretch for the team.

There's also the matter of the groundball basehit in the eighth inning that tied the game — a seeing-eye single that just got past Zobrist as he dove to his left. It tied the game at 3 and the Cardinals took the lead for good the following inning.

Does Baez make that same play if he were out there instead of Zobrist? It's certainly possible.

"The dynamic of our defense was lessened by [the ejection]," Maddon said. "Again, listen, if it's deserved, I'm good. It was not. They don't need me out there, we need Javy out there.

"And it surprised me. I stand by what I'm saying. It was inappropriate. MLB needs to say something to us that it was inappropriate because it was and it could've led to the loss of that game."

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 37th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 37th homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa's 37th homer of the 1998 season was a big one, an opposite field blast off the front row of fans in right field and into the basket at Wrigley Field.

The eighth-inning 3-run shot gave the Cubs some insurance in a game they ultimately won 9-5 and the Wrigley faithful responded by throwing a bunch of trash on the field.

Earlier in the contest, Sosa tied the game with an RBI single in the fifth inning. He finished with 4 RBI, giving him 93 on the season with more than 2 months left to play.

Fun fact: Vladimir Guerrero was the Expos' No. 3 hitter for this game an dhe also hit a homer (his 20th). Now, Guerrero's son is nearing his MLB debut as a top prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays system.

Fun fact No. 2: Mark Grudzielanek - who later played for the Cubs in 2003-04 - was Montreal's No. 5 hitter for the game at Wrigley. He was traded 10 days later from the Expos to the Los Angeles Dodgers for another fellow Cub - Ted Lilly.