MILWAUKEE – The Cubs woke up from the dream sequence.
While the Blackhawks go barhopping with the Stanley Cup and plan parade routes, the Cubs are preparing for the summer sell-off that could accelerate another 100-loss season.
Between team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, the Cubs have probably talked with every GM in the game within the past five days. That was Hoyer’s assessment before Tuesday night’s 9-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in front of 30,172 fans at Miller Park.
That became another reality check after the Cubs, team personnel and their fans imagined what Wrigleyville would be like celebrating the World Series: The mounted police force, the helicopters buzzing overhead, the bros bodysurfing over the crowd and blowing up live shots for television reporters.
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Manager Dale Sveum had watched Monday night’s thrilling Game 6 win over the Boston Bruins inside the Southport Corridor and watched some of the spillover after Blackhawks fans decided to Occupy Clark Street.
“It was the talk of the clubhouse,” Sveum said. “The guys understand that will probably be close to 10 times that if we ever won. That whole area and every street will look like that.”
Before the game, Sveum got nine Starlin Castro-related questions about giving the All-Star shortstop the day off amid the first real big slump of his career, ending his consecutive-games streak at 269.
The Hawks Hangover means it will be the Summer of Starlin.
After the game, Sveum was asked about bumping $52 million pitcher Edwin Jackson from the rotation (not happening) or skipping his next turn (not realistic) after giving up six runs in 4.2 innings to the Brewers (32-43).
The biggest free agent signed so far by the Epstein administration is 3-10 with a 5.84 ERA.
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The Cubs are 31-44 and alone in last place in the National League Central. They just got rid of a lightning-rod reliever (Carlos Marmol) and a Twitter punch line (Ian Stewart), setting up what should be a busy month-plus leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
“The phone calls really do ramp up this time of year,” Hoyer said. “This is definitely one (of those times) where people are on top of what’s going on. In some ways, it’s an invigorating time of year because there is a lot of action going on, a lot of things to discuss.”
Kevin Gregg and James Russell will be attractive to contenders looking for bullpen help. Alfonso Soriano is said to be more inclined to approve a trade now, but it’s not like playoff teams are clamoring for him, and he’ll need one of his hot streaks to draw more interest.
Scott Feldman is a nice piece for the back end of a rotation. Matt Garza is now looking much more like a trade chip than a building-block piece.
Garza has allowed one run across his last two starts, a 15-inning stretch against the New York Mets and Houston Astros that showed his elbow and lat problems are behind him.
“He’s a big part of this team right now,” Hoyer said. “I’m really happy for Matt that he feels as good as he does about how he’s pitching and how he’s feeling. Obviously, we have a clear idea of where we stand on that. But we’re not going to discuss right now if we’re talking about an extension or about trades.”
The Cubs still have 87 games left in this season before they get into another winter of rebuilding, when they might stop for a moment and dream about “The Blackhawks Way.”
“It’s a long ways to go,” Jackson said. “I’m sure there’s nobody in this clubhouse that’s lost confidence or anything, but it’s a tough game we play. You got a choice: Either you can give up and get buried or you keep fighting.”