8:41 AM CDT, August 1, 2012
The Cubs traded pitchers and one regular, so how did they almost get no-hit on Tuesday night?
The Cubs still had their regular left-handed lineup available, the one they would’ve used at any other point in the season, so how did they almost get no-hit by right-handed starter A.J. Burnett?
Spoiler alert: The Cubs hitters’ mental and emotional response to the trade deadline looked as bad as Burnett’s curveball was good.
Maybe I’m just irrationally angry over a sorry act or maybe I have a point. You can decide, but --- another spoiler alert --- I’m going to rant some.
In less than 24 hours leading up to the trade deadline, Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer stripped the roster of Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Geovany Soto and Reed Johnson in exchange for what they hope is more than a handful of magic beans.
Dempster was scheduled to start Tuesday night, but was dealt to the Rangers before Wrigley Field boos could rain down on a guy who seemed to go back on his word. Amid all the tiring spin on the aborted trade with Atlanta last week, the one thing that isn’t in dispute is that Dempster said no to a deal in which the Cubs would’ve acquired a quality prospect.
After refusing to waive the no-trade right that he previously agreed to waive, Dempster seemed to be forcing a trade to the Dodgers, who weren’t forced to give up much because of Dempster’s actions. The fallout left the Cubs desperate to take a couple Class-A players from Texas minutes before the end of the non-waiver period.
If you favor baseball karma, then you might like this: Dempster will make his debut for the AL West-leading Rangers against the AL West rival Angels, who brought in Albert Pujols, who just posted his first multi-homer game this season and has more homers off Dempster any other pitcher.
I don’t know if I believe in baseball karma, but I believe a lot of Cubs fans will be pulling for Pujols on Thursday.
Anyway, back to Dempster’s former team and the near-no-hitter Tuesday hours after the trade deadline passed. Apparently, the survivors exhaled. Or took an extra day off. Or showed their relief at still being able to wear the colors of one of the worst teams in baseball by looking like one of the worst teams in baseball.
Too many of the Cubs hitters looked as if they were just happy to be there instead of grinding at-bats and working the game. I could be wrong. Burnett might’ve been a lot better than I think. But the plate umpire looked tougher on Burnett than the Cubs hitters, and I don’t think it hurts my contention that the guy who broke up the no-no was someone called up only hours before the first pitch.
This was not the kind of response you wanted to see. I understand that a lot of names got thrown around in trade rumors since Epstein came in. I’m aware he basically said that any player who was here before he arrived would be gone before he was done building the foundation for sustained success. I can see how that puts everyone on edge.
Ballplayers get paid well. Part of that compensation covers potentially being traded. Deal with it in an adult manner. The trade deadline is all about who got moved, but it’s also a chance to examine the makeup of those who didn’t, and the remaining Cubs did not distinguish themselves.
In another life, this would anger more people. This might turn into a referendum on the players’ mental state and emotional strength, but at worst, questions regarding the Cubs’ focus after the trade deadline would be a big deal if that game mattered.
Lucky for those Cubs players that no game will matter until, I don’t know, 2015. Lucky for Cubs fans that almost none of those players will be here then.
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