Cubs

Cubs promoting Kyle Schwarber in response to Miguel Montero’s injury

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Cubs promoting Kyle Schwarber in response to Miguel Montero’s injury

Ready or not, the Cubs are about to find out if Kyle Schwarber can catch in the big leagues.

With Miguel Montero headed to the disabled list, the Cubs will promote Schwarber from Triple-A Iowa, fast-tracking their top prospect to Turner Field when the second half opens on Friday against the Atlanta Braves.

Montero is scheduled to see a hand specialist on Friday and will be sidelined for at least 15 days. The two-time All-Star catcher jammed his left thumb in the second-to-last game before the All-Star break. The Cubs had ruled out a broken bone after the initial MRI.

For now, the Cubs plan to rotate Schwarber with veteran catchers David Ross and Taylor Teagarden. But the buzz will revolve around Schwarber, the Futures Game MVP and last year’s No. 4 overall pick out of Indiana University.

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This is the damage Schwarber has done through his first 147 games in the minors: .333 average, 34 homers, 102 RBI and a 1.042 OPS. 

Maybe Schwarber’s left-handed bat can give a struggling lineup a lift. His presence already helped the Cubs as a designated hitter during interleague play. He went 8-for-22 (.364) with one home run and six RBI in six games last month, showing he could be a potential impact player for the stretch run.

[MORE: Schwarber feels he's ready to catch in the big leagues]

A move to left field would have allowed Schwarber to focus on his offense, and not worry about game-calling and pitch-framing while trying to handle all the egos and information overload.

Now, in the heat of a pennant race, the Cubs should get a better idea of whether or not Schwarber can be a long-term answer behind the plate. 

 

Cubs lead Bears, Bulls on Forbes' Most Valuable Sports Teams 2019 list

Cubs lead Bears, Bulls on Forbes' Most Valuable Sports Teams 2019 list

The Chicago Cubs tied the Washington Redskins for 14th on Forbes' Most Valuable Sports Teams 2019 list with a $3.1 billion valuation. The Cubs' valuation grew by 7% year over year.

The Cubs are the fourth-most valuable franchise in MLB behind the Yankees ($4.1B), the Dodgers ($3.3B) and the Red Sox ($3.2B). Only seven MLB teams made the Top 50.

Two other Chicago teams, the Bears and the Bulls, are tied for 19th on the list with a value of $2.9 billion. The Bears' value grew just 2% while the Bulls' valuation grew by 12% year over year.

The rise of the pro sports teams valued over $2 billion has been pretty meteoric over the past decade. In 2012, only Manchester United was valued over $2 billion and in 2019 that number has risen to 52.

In 2012, only the Knicks and Lakers made the Top 50 list but in 2019 the Bulls are one of nine teams to earn a spot. The Bulls were the fourth-most valuable NBA franchise in 2019 behind the Knicks ($4B), Lakers ($3.7B) and Warriors ($3.5B).

Forbes credits the NBA's international prospects and worldwide revenue growth for the league's rise in the list.

No NHL teams made the list, the New York Rangers were the most-valued hockey team at $1.55 billion, 72nd highest.

Road struggles continue for Cubs in late-game implosion against Giants

Road struggles continue for Cubs in late-game implosion against Giants

It’s no secret that the Cubs have had their fair share of struggles on the road this season. Entering Monday’s game the Giants – the first of a nine-game road trip -- the Cubs held an 18-27 road record, 21st in all of baseball.

Things took a turn for the worse in that department on Monday night.

Clinging to a 4-2 lead in the eighth inning, the Cubs called upon reliever Pedro Strop to shut down the Giants 3-4-5 hitters. Strop, who entered action with a 4.62 ERA in 29 appearances (5.40 in July), surrendered three runs on four hits – including three doubles. The end result was the Giants taking a 5-4 lead, ultimately the game’s final score.

While Strop’s outing will get the most face time due to it occurring in a high-leverage spot, the truth of the matter is that the Cubs struggled for much of Monday’s game. After taking an early 3-0 lead, they couldn’t pull away from the Giants, watching San Francisco slowly close the gap and cut the deficit to 3-2 in the fifth inning.

The Giants actually came close to tying the game at 3-3 in the seventh inning, though Steve Cishek was able to work out of a first and second, one out jam to keep the Cubs ahead. Plus, before consecutive two out singles in the eighth inning – one being an RBI from Anthony Rizzo to give the Cubs an insurance run, the Cubs offense went through a 1-for-15 drought that began with two outs in the third inning.

At the same time, Strop struggling again is quite concerning. The 34-year-old has been the team's most reliable reliever for the past five seasons, posting sub-3.00 ERAs in each campaign from 2014-18. However, he's in the midst of a forgettable month, allowing seven runs on 11 hits in 7 2/3 innings. Strop also surrendered a game-tying home run in the eighth inning Friday against the Padres, though the Cubs were able to bounce back and win. 

Between their road woes and Strop's rough July, Monday's game did nothing to alleviate concerns over two unsettling Cubs trends. If there's one positive to take away from the game, it's that the Cubs were six outs away from picking up their third road win in seven tries this month.

Moral victories count for little when a team is in a heated pennant race, though, especially since the Cardinals took down the Pirates Monday to cut the Cubs' lead in the NL Central to 1.5 games. The Cubs have to find a way to get better on the road, and they have to find a way to get Strop back on track. Fortunately for the Cubs, there's still time to do both, as Strop pointed out postgame.

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