Jake Arrieta, Eric Sogard and Other Chicago Cubs Who Must Go

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The red, white and blue (literally) Chicago Cubs saw their 2021 season completely turned on its head during the span of time in between two super patriotic American holidays. On Flag Dlay, June 14, they were 38-28 and tied with the Milwaukee Brewers atop the NL Central division.

A 4-11 June swoon, including a sweep at those aforementioned Brewers, now has them riding a six game losing streak and six games out of first place entering Fourth of July weekend. Happy Independence Day Cubs fans! In a span of just over a fortnight, the Cubs have gone from likely buyers at the trading deadline to almost certain sellers.

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The Cubs entered this season as division title longshots, but early last month, it appeared that betting on them with a bet365 bonus would be a smart wager. A productive May saw the Cubs sitting in first place for much of that month and in June as well. They were, dare I say, maybe even favorites for awhile. Then manager David Ross fielded some highly questionable lineups, especially given how meaningful the games were with said lineups, and the results were to be expected.

And now here we are, so if the Cubs are going to be selling at the trade deadline, we should look at who needs to be jettisoned. Jake Arrieta tops the list.

He famously said that he doesn’t believe taking the covid-19 vaccine provides any kind of competitive advantage. There is a whole lot to unpack there with that statement, but we’ll just focus on the baseball component here. Given Arrieta’s performance this season, getting vaccinated certainly couldn’t hurt.

jake arrieta cubs

While it may not provide an advantage, what he’s working with right now certainly provides no advantage.

He lasted just 1.2 innings on Wednesday, giving up 6 runs, 3 earned to run his ERA on the season to 5.57. On the road, his ERA is now well into the 6s. Jake Arrieta had an 8.31 ERA in the month of June and opponents have a .913 OPS against him since May 14. The Arrieta nostalgia tour needs to get canceled now.

It was nice that the club gave him another shot, but this isn’t 2015 when he was as dominant a starting pitcher as they come. This isn’t 2016 when he helped win a World Series. Those years are actually further off then you might think. The last time he finished a season with an ERA under 4 was 2018. He might seriously be washed at this point, and it’s time Jed Hoyer realizes it.

Next is Eric Sogard, a man whose worldviews, or at least his wife’s worldviews (they’re not far off from Arrieta’s), provide so much controversy and distraction to the team that you better be very valuable in order for everyone else to put up with it.

He isn’t. In fact he actually has a negative WAR, and his OPS of .589 is laughably terrible. There are several members of the Cubs pitching staff with a higher OPS than that. What a waste of a roster spot. Send him away like a just lie bottle rocket this Fourth of July.

Cutting these two players might be enough to get the Cubs over the MLB milestone threshhold of 85%+ vaccinated. Same if you can somehow move out Jason Heyward. J. Hey, in addition to being a player who deserves a real good, legitimate nickname, is a guy who is just irrationally loved by a small subsection of the Cubs fanbase.

It’s a nice subset yet, but they are vocal about just how committed they are to him, even despite his lack of any presence offensively.

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His current slash line is absolutley abominable for a corner outfielder in .194/.286/.333/.619, and you have to wonder who would take him on, given his contract and wage demands

He does not have a negative WAR,  but one guy who does, and still gets a lot of at bats is David Bote. Yes, he has provided some big hits and memorable moments over the years, but he may near the end of his rope. His stats convey just how little he brings to the table these days.

Finally, I’m not saying it’s time to give up on Ian Happ, his stellar 3/5 of a season that was only 3/8 long (so if you’re good with fractions, you can figure out for me just what percentage of an actual season he was really good) bides him some time, but not too much more.

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It’s time to find a clear direction with this franchise. Eliminate the deadwood from the club, declare their independence from the roster, and that clear out could move us closer to the next rebuild.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank, partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the  Chicago Tribune.

Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

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