Chicago Cubs’ young team were outscored 41-8 in three games. 21 extra base hits were allowed by their best three pitchers and support staff. And the best performance this weekend from the lovable Chicago Cubs’ stocked lineup came from catcher David Ross, who pitched an inning of relief then slapped a solo shot the very next inning on Sunday. Being no-hit by Cole Hamels probably stung the worst, although going two games down in Wild Card contention certainly won’t compel Theo Epstein to shop for playoff rentals any faster.
According to some sources, it’s probably too late to secure Hamels anyway.
With Scott Kazmir already 1-0 with his new team, Cueto set to join the Royals and few interested in eating large salaries or parting with major rebuilding blocks to secure playoff rentals, the weekend series in Chicago couldn’t have gone worse. They’ll certainly lose out on Hamels, effectively drove up prices on every Phillies player and put themselves two games behind the surging Giants with just one game over the freshly stocked Mets.
Dodgers are aggressively looking at Cole Hamels and David Price – two pitchers highly coveted by Chicago Cubs front office. Sure, weekend sweeps at the hands of 63-loss teams could happen to any contender. But given the magnitude of this weekend’s series, the scouts who showed up Saturday to witness Cole Hamels’ trade value skyrocketing by the inning and how close Chicago was to landing top-notching pitching help, speculation will arise regarding the Cubs’ need for another power hitter and marquee pitcher to contend.
As the Cubs continue to rack up losses, the need for positional players with several years of control trumps their need for rentals. That particular market is shrinking every minute, with teams either pulling back star players, upping the ante for those teams showing dire need. In fact, James Shields’ beefy contract and near 4.00 ERA along with B-grade talent like Mike Leake, Tyson Ross and Hamels pretty much round out the starting pitching market as of Sunday evening. This is assuming Texas and Philadelphia, who have dialogued extensively over the weekend, close their deal to move Hamels around.
There’s plenty of wiggle room for front office gurus excited to push their Chicago Cubs into the playoffs. What there isn’t plenty of room for is error, meaning signing big names must happen this week. San Diego will move Joaquin Benoit, although middle relief is pretty stellar in Chicago. Conversely, 2015 was supposed to be another year of learning and adding building blocks, so anything north of 80 wins should be considered spectacular.
Chicago Cubs fans shouldn’t overreact, but in terms of getting quality trades for quality prices, the ship left port Saturday afternoon.
[Photo by Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images Sport]