Cubs

Why haven’t Cubs made a deal with Mets yet?

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Why haven’t Cubs made a deal with Mets yet?

Why haven’t the Cubs made a deal with the New York Mets yet?

It doesn’t necessarily even have to be a blockbuster, because these two big-market franchises look like such obvious trading partners after restocking their farm systems and reshaping their identities in different ways. The Cubs concentrated on building a powerful American League lineup while the Mets focused on designing a dominant rotation for October.

This doesn’t mean the Cubs are about to listen to the New York media and trade one of their shortstops (Starlin Castro, Addison Russell, Javier Baez). But it’s also not just connect-the-dots speculation on Twitter if you widen the angle.

“We’ve had conversations with them,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said before Monday’s 4-3 win at Wrigley Field. “We haven’t made a deal yet. But there’s been matches that made sense. And I’m sure we’ll talk to them in the future.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

“When you factor in the hitting and the pitching, I guess people think it’s unusual. But it’ll happen at some point.”

This dialogue is not unusual and the two Ivy League front offices actually see the game the same way. Hoyer pointed out that he used to work alongside Mets executive Paul DePodesta when they were with the San Diego Padres. Hoyer also said Cubs president Theo Epstein has a good working relationship with Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon came away with this impression of the first-place Mets: “Almost like looking in the mirror a little bit.”

The Mets have dealt with so many up-the-middle issues over the years that New York reporters swarmed Castro last year inside Citi Field’s visiting clubhouse. But he’s not exactly a “Moneyball” kind of player and the Cubs are not looking to move a three-time All-Star who’s 25 and potentially under club control through the 2020 season on a reasonable contract.

[MORE: Cubs take Round 1 vs. Mets in battle at Wrigley]

Castro made a spectacular diving catch to his left in the ninth inning to help preserve Monday night’s victory. His OPS has dropped to .652 but the Cubs are waiting for him to get hot and want to see how he responds in a pennant race.

The Cubs have essentially viewed Russell as untouchable and other teams are getting that message now that he’s playing second base at Wrigley Field. The Cubs are hoping Baez can get his game together at Triple-A Iowa.

It will be interesting to see if any good rumors come out of this four-game series at Clark and Addison – and how the young Cubs stack up against the emerging Mets.  

“You’re always curious, obviously, because you feel like you might be playing them in the playoffs,” Maddon said. “But my focus is so much on us, what we’re doing. I went through the same exercise in Tampa Bay, where you’re playing against a lot of really stern competition in that division. If you get caught up in trying to compare yourself to everybody else, I don’t think it really works.

“I really believe in comparing yourself to yourself first. And whatever everybody else is doing doesn’t really matter. I don’t mean to sound pretentious about that at all.

“It’s about us getting our program across, our players buying into our program, us playing the game we think is the right way to play the game. And then how everybody else wants to fit into that, that’s fine.”

Cubs still searching for answers for Tyler Chatwood's puzzling control issues

Cubs still searching for answers for Tyler Chatwood's puzzling control issues

Tyler Chatwood looked to be turning the corner with his control issues, but alas, he and the Cubs aren't so lucky.

After walking only two batters in a solid start in Atlanta last week, Chatwood had taken a big step in the right direction. It was, after all, only the third time he'd walked fewer than 5 batters in an outing this season.

Those control woes reared their ugly heads once again Tuesday night at Wrigley Field in a 10-1 loss to the Indians. Chatwood walked 6 batters and managed to net only 8 outs, getting hammered for 4 runs in the third inning.

"Ugh, it was tough," Maddon said. "The stuff was so good, we just couldn't get a strike."

"It's definitely frustrating," Chatwood said, "because one at-bat, I'll feel really good and the next one, I feel like I'm fighting myself.

"Last time [out], I was able to stay in the rhythm. Tonight, I was kinda battling, rushing rather than staying back, so it's just keeping that feeling and maintaining that."

His season ERA is only 3.74, which looks good until you consider his WHIP is 1.62 and he's walked 40 batters in 45.2 innings with only 41 strikeouts in the process. He now leads baseball in walks per 9 innings.

Chatwood said earlier this month in St. Louis that he's figured out what has led to the startling lack of control and while he didn't elaborate on the mechanical issue, he was working hard at correcting the problem in bullpens.

He's also used the term "fighting myself" at least a dozen times this month alone and it's become a common refrain for his explanation of what's going on. 

"He's got a busy delivery when he throws the baseball," Maddon said. "He's kinda busy what he does with his hands. It's not like he can just change it easily because that's how his arm works, how his body works.

"Sometimes, like you see him the other day, everything's on time and how good it can be and when it's out of sorts a bit, then all of the sudden it becomes shotgun. Ah man, you can see the movement [on his pitches] from the side, how good it is. 

"We gotta harness it somehow. I spoke to him briefly on the bench; I reassured him it's gonna be fine, it's gonna be really good by the end of the year. We gotta figure it out and he knows that. But man, that's good stuff. We just gotta get it in the zone."

Chatwood also admitted part of the problem is mental in that he's trying to force pitches rather than trusting his stuff. He's also gotten into the bad habit of drifting down the mound, though he's not sure when or where he picked up that hitch in his delivery.

Chatwood and Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey are working on slowing his delivery down to get his arm in the same spot on a more consistent basis.

When the Cubs signed Chatwood over the winter, it was easy to see why.

He just turned 28 in December, his peripherals and a move from hitter-friendly Coors Field foretold a potential leap in performance and his stuff is nasty. Plus, he signed a three-year deal at a relative bargain of $38 million.

Once the Cubs signed Yu Darvish in spring training, you could make the case that Chatwood could be among the best No. 5 starters in baseball.

Nine starts later, the honeymoon period is well over with Chatwood, as he threw only 30 of his 74 pitches for strikes Tuesday night and sent catcher Willson Contreras sailing all around home plate for pitches way out of the zone.

Still, it's clear to see there is some intriguing talent there and the season there is roughly 70 percent of the season remaining before the Cubs make what they hope is another run at the World Series.

"I have a lot of faith," Maddon said. "I know we're gonna reap the rewards, the benefits as he figures this thing out."

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Marlon Byrd discusses his suspensions for PED use and Ozzie Guillen offers a solution to the PED problem

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NBC Sports Chicago

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Marlon Byrd discusses his suspensions for PED use and Ozzie Guillen offers a solution to the PED problem

Ozzie Guillen explains why he thinks Manny Machado is a better fit for the Cubs than the White Sox. Plus, Guillen and Marlon Byrd react to 19-year-old Juan Soto hitting a homer in his first at-bat with the Nationals.

Later in the show the guys debate who had the better rants in front of the media: Guillen or Byrd?

Finally, Byrd opens up about his PED suspensions, relates to the guys caught using PEDs now and Guillen offers up a solution to rid baseball of PEDs entirely.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: