McKnight: What the Cubs need is a pitcher
Watching the Cubs drop even one game to the Philadelphia Phillies this weekend was enough to make the most steeled fan wretch.
The stretch after the all-star break was supposed to be when the team fed on bums. It was supposed to be the cure for an offense that had struggled to score.
It was supposed to provide a more lucid answer to the question we've been asking for well over a month; How much should they spend?
Again, the cost isn't money. It's talent. Whether Cole Hamels, David Price or just Mike Leake is the target, there's a general manager waiting to extract chunks of talent from the Cubs' young core.
GM Jed Hoyer said Friday that any kind of offensive reinforcements would have to come from within.
That means Kyle Schwarber needs to keep doing what he's doing.
Same with Addison Russell. Since coming back from the all-star break, Russell's slash line is in the .300/.400/.350 range.
The average is great, the patience is spectacular, and no one should have any problem waiting for a 21-year old second baseman's power to come around.
Jorge Soler is a different story. His slugging percentage, which sits right around .360, since returning from injury on July 5 is worrisome. He's supposed to be providing pop but isn't.
Kris Bryant needs to get back on track. In his first 72 at-bats of July, Bryant slashed .194/310/.417.
In a way, it's the youth itself that creates the frustration. So many of the kids haven't gone through a full major-league season.
All the promise and potential in the world can't fight off attrition, aches and pains, inexperience and the inevitable dog days of August.
Still, the pieces are there. The pop can resurface. It will need to for the Cubs to make a push into October.
Even so, they'll need more pitching.
Since June, Jake Arrieta has been nothing short of an ace. Jon Lester, a notoriously slow starter, has righted the ship. Jason Hammel, balky hamstring aside, has done nothing but pound the strike zone. Kyle Hendricks has found some of the magic from last season.
With the possible exception of Lester, the top four in the Cubs' rotation are pitching as well as you could ask. The smart money is that it won't last -- at least, not at this high a level. Reinforcements are needed.
When the Astros picked up Scott Kazmir for two prospects (rated the 19th and 22nd in Houston's system by MLB.com), it shifted the perception on this year's deadline. The Astros didn't have to give much up for a starter who pulled their playoff odds up nearly 10 percent.
The Cubs being active on Price, Hamels or even Johnny Cueto look more realistic now than ever before.
What was once a sellers market now looks flush with starters. The biggest hurdle to a trade could be the sellers themselves, but in a market where prices have plummeted, there are steals to be had.
• Connor McKnight can be heard regularly on WGN 720-AM and is a co-host of The Beat, the station's sports talk show on the weekends. Follow him on Twitter @McKnight_WGN