The 2018 season has been significantly more unpredictable than anticipated for the Chicago Cubs.
Due to a combination of injuries, less production than desired from a number of players, and the general randomness of baseball, the Cubs have had to improvise a lot.
At the end of the day, the goal is to be in first place at the end of August. Chicago is, so props to them. But, this team still hasn’t fully found a rhythm. The improvisation continued Tuesday when the Cubs acquired veteran second baseman Daniel Murphy from the Nationals for cash considerations and minor leaguer Andruw Monasterio.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) August 21, 2018
Considering Chicago has a plethora of capable infielders, this move initially may seem questionable. But, it shouldn’t.
First of all, it is not as if the Cubs gave up virtually anything significant in the trade. There really is no risk involved in taking a chance on 34-year old second baseman.
This trade also confirms that Addison Russell is playing through more serious of an injury than we thought. Before hurting his finger, Russell was finally putting together a successful season offensively. The shortstop hit .329 in June to raise his overall batting average to .285. Previously, this was unchartered territory for Russell. But, it appeared things had finally clicked for “Addy” at the plate.
Then, however, Russell entered one of the coldest streaks of his career that he is still in the midst of. Russell’s average now sits at .259 after hitting .202 in July and .231 so far in August. Russell has the same amount of hits as strikeouts over that span.
According to Joe Maddon, Russell has stayed in the lineup because of his fielding. But, now that Murphy has been acquired, I wouldn’t be surprised if Russell either heads to the DL or sits on the bench for an extended time. Murphy could play second and Javier Baez could be moved over to shortstop.
Also, who knows, maybe Theo and Jed are preparing for a circumstance in which Kris Bryant isn’t able to return this season.
Plain and simple, the move for Murphy is a low-risk high reward situation. Even if Murphy fails to produce and Russell has to be sent to the DL, Ben Zobrist and Tommy La Stella can eat up more time at second. Both of which have had solid years offensively.
The most intriguing aspect of Murphy is what he has done at Wrigley Field over his successful career. The three-time all-star made Cubs fans anxious every time he stepped to the plate at Wrigley as a member of the Mets and Nationals.
In 28 games played at Wrigley Field, Murphy has hit .413. Murphy went 7-12 at the dish when the Nationals visited the Cubs earlier this season. And I’m sure all Cubs fans remember what Murphy did against Chicago in the 2015 NLCS. Murphy went 9-17 and led the Mets to a sweep.
Daniel Murphy joins the Cubs.
Murphy has a .413 career BA at Wrigley Field (43-104). That's the highest BA in Wrigley Field history (min. 100 AB) ahead of Eddie Murray (.395). pic.twitter.com/3SGluqL9rx
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 21, 2018
Though Murphy has only played in 56 games this season, the veteran has still been able to hit .300. The power that we’ve seen from Murphy over the last few seasons doesn’t appear to be there yet. But, frankly, the Cubs just need hitting in general. There is no reason to think Murphy can’t provide that.
After all, Murphy has finished with the second-best batting average in the NL in each of the last two seasons. Murphy hit .347 in 2016 and then .322 in 2017. Murphy has hit at least .281 for seven consecutive seasons as well.
And now that Murphy is fully healthy, maybe he will start to drive in runs like he has over the past few seasons. Murphy clubbed 48 home runs and accumulated 197 RBI in 2016 and 2017.
Chicago is struggling offensively more than it ever has under Joe Maddon. Honestly, Cubs fans have to be happy that Chicago is still in first place despite the current slump. But, it’s tough to imagine the Cubs surviving another month of baseball if their bats don’t wake up.
With their loss to the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night, the Cubs set the MLB record for most consecutive games only scoring one run via a home run. It was Chicago’s fifth straight game doing so and their third loss in a row.
Obviously, the other big news is Yu Darvish being shut down for the season. We all know the pitching has been inconsistent. But, the Cubs need the bats too, even if the pitching bounces back. Well, maybe former Cub-killer Daniel Murphy can provide the jolt that Chicago’s bats are desperately searching for.
- Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Eddie Herz is a senior journalism major at Colorado State University. He has been a beat reporter for CSU's newspaper, the Rocky Mountain Collegian, since he was a freshman. Eddie has also contributed to the BTPowerhouse.com, a sister website of SBnation. Eddie will be the CSU Football beat reporter for the Rocky Mountain Collegian this coming Fall.
- NFC North2019.01.22Decisions for the Chicago Bears regarding players hitting free agency
- NFC North2019.01.12Remarkable progress shouldn’t deter fans from what the Bears squandered
- NFC North2019.01.03Everything you need to know before Bears Wild Card matchup with Philly
- NFC North2018.12.25What to keep your eye on as Bears close out regular season in Minnesota