After losing 5-4 against the Giants in San Francisco on Monday night, the Chicago Cubs have now dropped two games in a row. While they are still sitting a game and a half ahead of the Red Birds in the NL Central, there hasn’t been a whole to be excited about.
Sure, the North Siders have won seven of their previous 10 games. Even if the worst-case scenario happens and Chicago fails to win their division, they still would be in the Wild Card chase. But do they really want to go back to the Wild Card? Just how far should fans expect them to go into October?
It’s no secret. The Cubs offense is very streaky, at best. They definitely can get hot and put runs on the board. However, there’s also been plenty of games Chicago has failed to make solid contact with the ball, especially against left-handed pitchers.
There has been talk of talk about dealing with the Detroit Tigers for Nicholas Castellanos. Adding a dependable bat makes a lot of sense for the Cubs. As of Tuesday afternoon, Chicago was seventh in the National League with a .255 batting average. They were fifth in runs with 506 with 487 RBI’s.
Against left-handed pitchers, the numbers look drastically different. Kyle Schwarber is currently batting .230 against lefties. Addison Russell has been swinging .219 with Anthony Rizzo right behind at .218. Albert Almora has a batting average of .205 against southpaws while David Bote has an average of just .200.
Just in case you’re curious, Castellanos is batting .387 against left-handers this season. The 27-year-old is currently under contract for just under 10 million dollars at $9.95 million and could potentially be a free agent once the season is over. Through 92 games for the Tigers, the right fielder has hit 10 home runs, has 35 RBIs, and is batting .280 overall.
With only around 10 million dollars for the Cubs to play with, this could be quite a risk. Especially when you consider Castellanos isn’t exactly known for his work with the glove. Yes, his production with the lumber is much needed on the north side. This trade would more than likely push Heyward to center field where his defensive numbers aren’t nearly as good compared to playing right field.
I mention this trade idea, that’s getting serious attention, to bring up this: I think there’s a much better option that not enough fans are considering.
Before Chicago starts dealing away prospects to make an attempt at putting another bat in the lineup, why can’t Ian Happ have another shot?
One of the biggest surprises, when the season began, was the decision to send the switch-hitting Happ down to Iowa. In the previous two seasons, Happ played in a total of 257 games. No, he doesn’t have a career line to write home about. But at .242/.341/.459, he’s a solid bat that is more than able to play at center, leaving Howard at right and Schwarber at left. On top of that, the kid has plenty of power from the left side of home plate.
Yes, Happ was sent back to the dugout on strikes more times than I can count last season, especially after the all-star break. There was still plenty of struggle this year through Spring Training. All that being said, Happ wasn’t exactly going to see a ton of playing time this year. One benefit to being sent back down to Iowa is the kid has had plenty of time to address his swing and make some much-needed improvements on defense.
If you follow Chicago’s farm system, you’re probably well aware of the rocky start for Happ as the season got underway. There was a hideous stretch of 22 games from the end of May through mid-June where Happ had a .165 average with only three home runs. However, through the last 17 games, his extra work in the batting cage is starting to deliver some payback. During the span, Happ is hitting .319/.417/.583, while knocking the ball into the seats four times.
Throughout 97 games in Iowa this season, Happ is currently hitting .236 with 16 homers and 52 RBIs. During the previous 10 games, he has walked to the batter’s box 34 times. He has three home runs and five RBIs with a .235 average. And while he’s only facing minor league pitchers, he is batting .270 against lefties.
Before you run off to the comment section to let everyone know just how crazy of an idea calling up Happ would be, I want you to consider something.
Albert Almora Jr. has 280 at-bats this year. He’s hitting .239 with nine home runs and 27 RBIs. Danial Descalso has stepped up to the plate 159 times. He is currently at .182 with two home runs and 15 RBIs. Doesn’t Happ at least deserve a chance before the Cubs go making a trade for Castellanos who best serves at DH, a spot he can’t play in the National League?