While trying to stay cool on a scorcher of an off-day, let's try to radiate more light than heat about all things Cubs.
Manager Mike Quade took an absolute drubbing in every medium imaginable after Wednesday's postgame dress-down of Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney.
Quade had it partially right, but he went about it all wrong. So in that regard, the opprobrium Quade received was quite well deserved.
There's no doubt Quade's motives were well intentioned. Castro is the best player on the Cubs, and Barney figures to be a serviceable player, if not a star or even a regular starter, for quite some time.
The manager wants the two kids to play the game properly and stay away from bad habits.
That's all fine.
But Quade clumsily handled the small picture and the big picture.
With the small picture, Wednesday's game was not lost because Castro lost a pop fly in the sun in the first inning. It was lost because starting pitcher Ryan Dempster couldn't go more than 3 innings and the Cubs offense got outhit 12-4 by the Phillies.
With the big picture, this is the third time since Quade took over as manager almost a year ago that he has let his displeasure with Castro be known publicly. Other players, young and veteran, have been spared this treatment, and plenty of them have had it coming.
Speaking of veterans, I offered Quade an out during the postgame when I asked him if his general displeasure extended to those veterans as well.
What Quade should have said was: "You're darn right. This is a 25-man team, and I expect better from everybody, whether it's veterans running out balls, playing as if they care or young players developing good habits."
Instead, Quade buried himself deeper by saying his veterans were doing "a pretty (darn) good job."
Let's take a look at a couple of those veterans.
The expensive left fielder, whom the Cubs are trying to trade, is doing nothing to enhance his trade value.
His average/on-base/slugging line is 249/.291/.445. Soriano has 14 home runs, but he has not hit one since June 19. He is 1-for-21 on the current homestand, and his July hitting line makes anemia look red-blooded: 164/.193/.200. That's right, a slugging percentage of .200 in July, when the weather is most conducive to power hitting.
Good luck trading him.
With all the other stuff that's gone on, catcher Geovany Soto has flown under the "bad" radar this year.
Soto's line is .238/.326/.402 with 8 homers and 24 RBI. Soto parlayed a nice season last year (.280/.393/.407) into a $3 million contract for this year. Last season, he took 62 walks while striking out 83 times.
So far this year, he has 28 walks and 66 strikeouts. His walk rate has dropped from 16 percent last year to 10.1 this season.
Dempster has an ERA of 5.00. John Grabow is an expensive mop-up man. Carlos Pena and Aramis Ramirez have nice numbers now, but neither contributed early in the season.
Point is, Castro and Barney should be way down the list of people for Quade to single out.
This and that:
With the wind howling out at Wrigley Field Wednesday, the Phillies' Jimmy Rollins hit a pair of home runs while the Cubs hit none.
The wind has blown out 14 times at Wrigley Field this season. The Cubs are 4-10 in those games, and they've been outhomered by their opponents 29-12 when the wind has blown out.
Quade wouldn't go as far as to say Randy Wells is pitching for his job, but Wells hasn't won a decision since April 4, before he missed two months with a forearm injury. But Wells does appear to be on the spot as he starts Saturday.
He has a record of 1-3 with a 6.71 ERA and a WHIP of 1.74.
"I don't know about that," Quade said of Wells pitching for his job. "He needs to pitch. He needs to make progress, and I would love to see him pitch the way I've seen him in the past. I'm hoping for as good an outing as we've seen from him in quite some time."