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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Thursday, August 31, 2017

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Should I just start every post from now on with a Javy play?  Ok.

First off, without looking, who’s 3rd on the Cubs in RBI?  Rizzo is first, Contreras is still 2nd.

If anyone missed it, yesterday it sounds like Russell had a setback in his rehab after 1 game in AAA, so he’s back in Chicago getting looked at.  That doesn’t sound good at all, especially since they were pretty vague about the initial timeline.  Zobrist played SS in the 9th yesterday, otherwise Javy’s been there every other inning since Russell got hurt.  The Cubs don’t have another SS on the 40 man roster, and really no one in AAA that makes sense to call up.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs tried to add someone before the trade deadline, just as a backup plan in September.  It’d probably be a Rene Rivera type - not someone like him physically, but a guy who’s been around and isn’t a threat to make any sort of postseason roster.

Lester’s simulated games have gone well, and he’s now scheduled to start Saturday against the Braves.  Montgomery is also still scheduled for his next start on Sunday, so that means at least one time through the Cubs will use 6 starters.  There was a recent thread about it, but for the record, I’m fine with this, as I actually think Monty has been pretty good in the rotation lately and is just as good a bet to have a good start as either Lackey or Quintana right now.

Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 31, 2017 at 11:15 AM | 142 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 13, 2017 at 06:15 PM (#5531168)
Jen-Ho Tseng will start tomorrow for the Cubs. Montgomery goes to the bullpen today.


Interesting. Tseng was just named Cubs prospect pitcher of the year.
   102. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 13, 2017 at 06:20 PM (#5531171)


The 22-year-old Tseng was 13-4 with a 2.54 ERA in 145 1/3 innings in 24 starts across Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa in 2017. That included a 6-1 mark with a 1.80 ERA in nine starts at Triple-A.


stats
   103. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 13, 2017 at 07:02 PM (#5531192)
Interesting. Tseng was just named Cubs prospect pitcher of the year.

Nice, I'm going to the game tomorrow with a work outing. More interesting to watch than Montgomery, for sure.
   104. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: September 13, 2017 at 07:55 PM (#5531210)
97 is great. If memory serves, "Cowgirl in the Sand" is around 10 minutes long, which I imagine is the point.
   105. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: September 13, 2017 at 07:57 PM (#5531213)
I'm curious to see what Tseng does. His AA/AAA numbers are nice, and it's not like next year's rotation's exactly settled.
   106. Walt Davis Posted: September 13, 2017 at 09:53 PM (#5531259)
Tseng's K-rate took a big jump this year, especially in AA. I'm not overly optimistic in the short term but nice to have Monty back in the pen. Saw a report that Pierce Johnson was DFA'd.

the team's depth has really been strong for them.

True ... but I tend to think strong enough they should be playing more and/or should have been all along. This is mainly a Baez thing -- and of course he's playing FT with Russell out but I'd have rather seen him in there more early and I doubt he'd have been getting close to this much time if Russell had been healthy. I had no major problem with the plan but Joe's really stuck with it even as guys struggled.

I know we can't just extrapolate these numbers but I'll repeat this little table for the non-C, non-Rizzo, non-Bryant Cubs (WAR, WAA), ordered by WAA

Russell 2.3, 1.2
Baez 2.4, 0.9
Happ 1.5, 0.3
Heyward 1.8, 0.4
Almora 0.8, -0.2
LaStella 0.3, -0.2 (never part of the rotation)
Jay 0.9, -0.3
Zobrist 0.9, -0.5
Schwarber 0, -1.4

I'd like to see PT distributed a bit more in that fashion, noting that Schwarber has hit reasonably well since the break and maybe is playing at an overall average level now.
   107. Walt Davis Posted: September 13, 2017 at 11:25 PM (#5531290)
By the way, when I say I've been disappointed in Almora's defense, I mean that as in I was impressed last year but this year he's looked average to me. He's made a couple of nice plays that I've seen but the fantastic ranged he seemed to show last year hasn't been there consistently. The same can be said of Javy who has still been good but not other-worldly.

FWIW, Rfield puts Almora at 0; UZR puts him at +2; statcast doesn't convert to runs but it's "star" catches don't show him as anything special this year; Inside Edge (at fg) puts him about 2 plays above average. Those are consistent with my impression this year.

   108. WKRP in Cincinnatus Posted: September 13, 2017 at 11:50 PM (#5531304)
97 is great. If memory serves, "Cowgirl in the Sand" is around 10 minutes long, which I imagine is the point.


Some of the live versions come in around 16 minutes!
   109. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 14, 2017 at 01:07 AM (#5531311)
Albert Almora Jr: first #Cubs player with 6+ RBI despite not starting the game since Mandy Brooks (also 6) 8/25/1925
   110. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 14, 2017 at 01:12 AM (#5531312)
By the way, when I say I've been disappointed in Almora's defense, I mean that as in I was impressed last year but this year he's looked average to me. He's made a couple of nice plays that I've seen but the fantastic ranged he seemed to show last year hasn't been there consistently. The same can be said of Javy who has still been good but not other-worldly.

Maybe he's had fewer chances or something but I'm not seeing him not making plays he should or did make last year. He's also clearly superior to both Jay and Happ. I think I remember a couple small misplays early in the year but again, I don't see the discrepancy year over year.

I also have been on record all year saying zobrist defensive numbers don't line up to what I'm seeing, regardless of position.

I also disagree on Javy, although his highlight package for 2017 will have more from the second half than the first.
   111. Covfefe Posted: September 14, 2017 at 09:51 AM (#5531409)
Tseng's K-rate took a big jump this year, especially in AA. I'm not overly optimistic in the short term but nice to have Monty back in the pen. Saw a report that Pierce Johnson was DFA'd.


Once upon a time - Tseng was a considered a pretty good international sign... and he is only 22 (he signed as an 18 yo out of Taiwan).

He was a Cubs top 10 guy a few years back, after a really nice break-in at Daytona but fell off the radar because his K rates really dropped as he advanced.

This surprising resurgence actually isn't his first resurgence -- a couple years before he signed, he was in the running as the top overall INTL signing based on his performance in an 18 and under league, flashing velocity that already in the 90s and a nice mix of secondary offerings -- and handcuffed South Korea's all-star pro squad in an Asian baseball championship tourney.... unfortunately, his last warmup before the signing period was a dreadful, disastrous run in the WBC -- where he not only got knocked around, but everything deserted him (including velocity).

Anyway, his BB rate has always been pretty solid - even when he fell off the radar, he was still generally throwing strikes. His velocity jumped back up this year - supposedly, he's back to working in the 90s and his secondary arsenal has likewise come back together. Based on nothing but the reports over the years - it sounds like he's might have a bit of Rich Hill in him... the sort of guy with very finicky mechanics who can be excellent when he's got it all working, but looks like a totally different pitcher when it's not. Based on this year's rocket ship -- it would seem like at the moment, he's got everything working.

Since my main man - Dylan Cease - is now on the south side and my other guy, Trevor Clifton, hit a friggin wall in the second half -- I should probably jump on the Tseng train.


   112. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 14, 2017 at 10:42 AM (#5531448)
Well, we're all on the Tseng train now like it or not, at least for today!

He really has had a nice year, and it seems like he transitioned very well to the PCL.
   113. Covfefe Posted: September 14, 2017 at 11:41 AM (#5531509)
Here's another story with a nice, full PA clip on Tseng -

I was thinking more of the finicky mechanics margin of error angle when I made the Rich Hill comparison, but Tseng also has one of those big, looping Rich Hill-esque 10-4 curves that scouts like to call a hammer... and like Hill, what makes it even more effective is that it comes in quite a bit slower than his FB, making it a really effective change of pace.

   114. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 14, 2017 at 12:46 PM (#5531570)
The flip side to the Tseng news is that Pierce Johnson was DFA'd, like Walt said. He used to be a bright spot, once upon a time.
   115. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 14, 2017 at 12:58 PM (#5531579)
Wasn't Pierce Johnson the guy I was asking about earlier this year as far as whether he might be able to help the bullpen? I guess the answer was no.
   116. Covfefe Posted: September 14, 2017 at 01:19 PM (#5531591)
Hey - Pierce had an eye-popping 18 K/9 ratio in the bigs this year!

It will be interesting to see if anyone bothers with a claim on him... his poor control only got worse when he moved to the pen, but the K rates are still probably interesting enough that I'd think someone might take a chance on him.

Somewhat surprised that they're still carrying Taylor Davis on the 40 man... I think the Cubs like him as a sort of Crash Davis sort, but with Rene Rivera around, doesn't seem like they really need him on the 40 man.

Freeman would also be a logical drop, except for the pressing need for someone who can actually play SS...

   117. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 14, 2017 at 01:37 PM (#5531599)
Not only is Davis on the 40, he's with the big league club now. So that's 5 catchers (6 if you count Schwarber)!

Speaking of the catcher glut and once again prematurely thinking about the postseason roster, I'm starting to wonder if the Cubs will carry 3 catchers in October. I even wonder if Maddon will give Contreras - once he's fully recovered - some more run in LF (or even RF) in the off chance he wants to start a game with Avila and Contreras to go offense heavy (and having that 3rd catcher would give him more freedom on switches, or even just using Avila a a PH).
   118. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 14, 2017 at 03:08 PM (#5531715)
Tseng has his own personal catcher too!

Lineup: Jay (CF)/Bryant/Rizzo/Happ(2b)/Scwharber/Baez/Heyward/Davis/Tseng

Finally Baez moves ahead of Heyward. I didn't mention it before, but 2 days ago Javy worked an unintentional BB after falling behind in the count 0-2. If I'm reading this right, that was the first time he's done that in his career.
   119. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: September 14, 2017 at 03:43 PM (#5531798)
Pierce Johnson was the guy the Cubs grabbed with their comp pick for letting Aramis go in free agency. Now you know.
   120. Covfefe Posted: September 14, 2017 at 03:49 PM (#5531806)
Don't get me wrong - I'm happy for Davis... like I said, what I've read about him tends to indicate that he's a Crash sort and such guys are fun to root for... I'm ready to cut bait on Johnson anyway, so I'm not suggesting I'd have necessarily DFA'ed him instead.
   121. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 14, 2017 at 05:33 PM (#5531934)
Mark Gonzales‏ @MDGonzales 51m51 minutes ago

Russell's return by Brewers' series looking more realistic
   122. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 14, 2017 at 05:44 PM (#5531942)
Coming off #Brewers sweep, Joe Maddon spoke with Wade Davis and told #Cubs closer to be ready for multiple innings/4-out saves when needed.
   123. Walt Davis Posted: September 14, 2017 at 10:32 PM (#5532139)
Not only is Davis on the 40, he's with the big league club now.

A nice thing for the Cubs to do for a long-time minor-leaguer -- health care for life. If he ever gets another stint in the majors, he might hit the 43-day vesting cut-off.
   124. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 14, 2017 at 10:48 PM (#5532163)
Absolutely. They probably shouldn't have played him tonight though.

As we talked in the chatter, Tseng has some decent stuff. Nerves and the defense (including by him, likely nerve related) helped do him in. I'm fine with him being a starting contender next year, though I wouldn't pencil him in quite yet. He could still be of use this year, though maybe just to mop up some innings (though I wouldn't complain too much about another start if necessary).
   125. Walt Davis Posted: September 14, 2017 at 10:57 PM (#5532169)
I would like to thank the NY Mets for bringing along their pitching staff.
   126. Covfefe Posted: September 14, 2017 at 11:04 PM (#5532174)
I would like to thank the NY Mets for bringing along their pitching staff.


And their mitts... or forgetting their mitts...
   127. Walt Davis Posted: September 15, 2017 at 01:10 AM (#5532222)
They probably shouldn't have played him tonight though.

I assume that's because Tseng has pitched to him before. Theo's said in the past that he doesn't like having rookies debut under the pressure of home fans. I'd imagine that's even more so in a divisional chase. This may have been their concession to making him feel as comfortable as possible. Pulling him when Tseng got pulled is a bit of a bush league move IMHO, especially since there wasn't a double-switch opportunity or anything ... but I can't argue too strongly against Joe trying to maximize every probability he can down the stretch.
   128. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 15, 2017 at 09:31 AM (#5532286)
I asked in the chatter but isn't it possible caratini caught him in AAA? Or are the Cubs really that down on caratini as a catcher? I agree that's probably why, but that's a lot to ask from a catcher also making his first ever start.

Not sure why you think pulling him would be anywhere near bush league though - he was only in there for tseng and he was obviously hurting them defensively.
   129. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 15, 2017 at 09:37 AM (#5532291)
Arrieta said he threw 25 pitches off the mound, will treat Saturday as normal side session. appears lined up for three starts


If Jake Arrieta keeps progressing, he's focusing on 3 more starts: at MIL next week, at STL and vs. Reds if it's must-win at end of season.


   130. Charles S. hopes his opening day is b4 opening day Posted: September 15, 2017 at 10:02 AM (#5532303)
I asked in the chatter but isn't it possible caratini caught him in AAA?


I think I heard Len say last night that Davis caught 25 of Tseng's 26 starts at Iowa, or something like that. They must be comfortable together. Still there was at least one cross-up, and Davis did not really shine at any aspect of the game.
   131. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 15, 2017 at 10:43 AM (#5532336)
Thanks, I missed that part I guess. Caratini was up and down to Chicago a bit in the 2nd half when Tseng was there, so it's possible. Davis is a perfectly fine story, but yeah, he's clearly not a big leaguer.
   132. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 15, 2017 at 10:48 AM (#5532341)
Lineup already up, and I think Joe agrees with me that Happ might be in a mental rut ever since his baserunning error (6 Ks in 8 PA - other 2 were reach on error and sac fly - but he looked pretty frustrated each of those K ABs).

Zobrist/Bryant/Rizzo/Contreras/Schwarber/Jay/Heyward/Baez/Lackey. Good weather, so the ball will probably be carrying, and the Cubs most likely need to outslug the Cards to win today. One game of Baez ahead of Heyward before they flipped back, why?
   133. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: September 15, 2017 at 11:03 AM (#5532358)
Sept. 15:

1902 2 days after their MLB debut, Tinker/Evers execute their 1st double play. Only 260 fans attend. CHC 6, CIN 3
1916 Cubs draft Dutch Ruether from Spokane (Northwestern Lg) in Rule 5 draft
1924 Frank Chance dies. Chronic beanings led to headaches & serious brain problem. He'd had brain surgery
1970 Joe Torre plays his last game at catcher CHC 5, STL 3
1971 Billy Williams hits his only pinch hit HR
1985 HOU trades Joe Niekro to NYY for current Cubs color guy Jim Deshaies. 2 other players involved
2015 Jon Lester, CHC, finally picks off a runner - first time since Aug. 2011

   134. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 15, 2017 at 11:09 AM (#5532365)
Mark Gonzales‏ @MDGonzales 4m4 minutes ago

Cubs notes: 1st time Cubs, STL play Sept. series with both teams either in the division lead or within 3 games since Sept. 1-5, 2003


And as I pointed out on the last page, the Cubs kicked their asses. Sequel time...
   135. Brian C Posted: September 15, 2017 at 12:30 PM (#5532421)
I don't get the "bush league" comment either. Taylor Davis just being on the roster in the first place is a sufficient goodwill gesture to him to cover any perceived slight. As noted, he's their fifth catcher right now, without a plausible case to get playing time over any of the other four. Although Joe has apparently decided that he sees Caratini mostly as Rizzo's backup at 1B. Speaking of which, here's a fun fact - Caratini actually has the second-most playing time at 1B on the Cubs this season.

Anyway, any playing time Davis gets in the first place is just icing on the cake for him. That he actually got to start a game under any circumstances is downright generous.
   136. Covfefe Posted: September 15, 2017 at 12:44 PM (#5532428)
The 2017 iteration has been missing its Kawasaki - that player that you know really doesn't have a place on the Cubs, but for whatever reason - has some manner of endearing quality that makes him fun to root for.

Kawasaki was more of a pure prankster/free spirit - though, Davis supposedly has at least a bit of that, too... but it's the same model, I guess.

So long as Davis isn't really preventing anyone that would be of more use from being on the roster - and he's not, as far as I can see - I have no problem with him sticking around.

It is somewhat ironic that actually - the Cubs could actually use Kawasaki given the depth problem at SS while Russell is out.
   137. Man o' Schwar Posted: September 15, 2017 at 06:28 PM (#5532755)
This was a big game. No matter what now, the Cubs will end the weekend alone in first place. Plus, we got a win with Lackey on the mound, and that's always a bonus.

Hendricks has pitched well lately. Here's hoping Joe doesn't get the itchy trigger finger and pull him in the 5th after he walks a guy up 3-0.
   138. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: September 15, 2017 at 06:46 PM (#5532761)
The Cubs have scored 355 runs since the All-Star break, more than any other team.

OPSs since the ASG (not including today's game):

Contreras: 1088
Jon Lester: 1078
Rizzo: 975
Byrant: 942
Russell: 903
Schwarber: 899
Baez: 879
Almora: 824
Avila: 788
Happ: 787
Zobrist: 781
Heyward: 712
Jay: 694

The overall NL OPS is 750. But I think it's 773 if you exclude pitchers. But, basically everyone but Heyward & Jay are producing above league average (without adjusting for park. Adjust for park - Wrigley has a big park factor this year, but the more smoothed out 3-year park factor is basically nil).
   139. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: September 15, 2017 at 09:11 PM (#5532829)
Lester being second from the top of that list is hilarious, but I think it's worth pointing out that he's been by far the Cubs' best-hitting pitcher this year. He's made nice progress on his all around game. Hell, he's even picked a guy off first, and gotten at least a couple 1-3 assists!
   140. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: September 15, 2017 at 09:18 PM (#5532830)
I only added Lester in because he's so high. I kept out all the other pitchers, and even bench players like LaStella. The guys above are the ones who've had more playing time. Or are Jon Lester.
   141. Andere Richtingen Posted: September 16, 2017 at 09:56 AM (#5532944)
   142. Walt Davis Posted: September 16, 2017 at 06:53 PM (#5533164)
It was a "bit of a bush league move" because in my 45+ years of watching baseball, I don't think I've ever seen a C (personal or otherwise) pulled after 3 innings except for injury. Like I said, if it had been a double-switch opportunity then it makes sense. This sort of move is pretty clearly saying "you're not good enough to play." That's likely true in Davis's case but the manager's not supposed to make that so obvious to everybody. Or, if you prefer, if the guy's such a detriment that he needs to be pulled there then he never should have been starting in the first place regardless of Tseng.
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