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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Regrouping

I wanted to put up a new post yesterday, but I was sick - and not just from watching the Cubs (hey-o).  I think we talked quite a bit last year about how inconsistent the Cubs were, but this year seems even more extreme.  I don’t remember the worst series last year, but it would be hard to top losing 4 in a row to the Reds.  The Cubs had the lead in 3 of the games, but Sunday really was a masterpiece in blown games.  Montgomery pitched pretty good yet again - and then the wheels completely fell off after a missed strike 3 call (you can’t blame 7 runs on that, but it was a pretty big turning point when there was only 1 guy on and instead of 1 out, 1 on, it was 2nd/3rd no outs the next pitch).  Strop, who’d been pretty reliable all year then picked a pretty inopportune time to completely implode and that was that. 

I’d still argue the Cubs are a pretty deep team, but that depth is really being challenged right now with guys like Bryant, Morrow, and Edwards hurt.  Speaking of Bryant, I don’t think he has a concussion again, but this pre-game “he’ll probably be ok to PH tonight” followed after the game by “he was unavailable” is a lot like how they treated that mess.  Which makes me think he’s a bit more hurt than they’re letting on.  The results speak for themself:

The shoulder injury has been bothering Bryant for less than a week, but his struggles have been going on for much longer. Over his past 28 games, Bryant has posted a slash line of .241/.321/.336, with his lack of power the most concerning issue of late. A front shoulder issue can cause a drop in power. Part of how Bryant gets lift is with his follow-through with his left hand. If he were to have a left shoulder injury, that could sap a significant amount of impact from the follow-through, leading to a lack of lift and a drop in hard contact.

I pointed out near the end of the last thread, but Rizzo is also terrible right now.  For June, he’s hitting .238/.319/.425, and going into last night:

The reality is, the Cubs need Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to play up to their capabilities for this team to reach its potential. Rizzo entered Sunday’s game with just two extra-base hits and a .545 OPS in his last 62 plate appearances. He homered in Sunday’s loss, but that was the only time he reached base on the day.

This team was built around its offensive core, but a team-wide lack of power of late (the Cubs have a .138 ISO since May 14, 22nd in the game) has led to a good, but truly inconsistent offense.

The Cubs are second in the National League with 4.79 runs per game. They entered Sunday third in the NL in walk rate (9.8 percent), second in batting average (.257) and first in on-base percentage (.339). But this recent stretch of play has dropped them to ninth in baseball with a 102 wRC+ as a team. And they’re genuinely very inconsistent when it comes to putting up runs day in and day out.

Link

With Edwards and Morrow out, the middle of the pen has really #### the bed in higher leverage spots.  Strop and Wilson has the most higher leverage experience, and they’ve both blown up.  Duensing appears to just be garbage now, which means I was totally unfair to him last year when he was decent.  Rosario and Bass have had their moments.  Ferrell I guess had a moment, too, but overall I haven’t been impressed.  I don’t know that Montgomery was ever great in the pen, but he was fairly consistent, so even though he’s been good in the rotation I guess they miss his arm in the pen. 

Lastly, I think it’s pretty clear Gimenez isn’t a major league player anymore.  It’s only been a few games, but I’m not seeing any sort of unique pitcher or umpire whispering ability that could excuse him being a worse hitter (and bunter) than Lester.  Caratini has been raking in AAA (.337/.434/.517), so I wonder how much longer they keep wasting this roster spot.

Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 26, 2018 at 10:59 AM | 168 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 08, 2018 at 10:54 AM (#5706907)
I made a quick trip down to Wrigley from Milwaukee to see yesterday's game. That was without a doubt the most bipolar game from a fan perspective I've ever witnessed in person, transitioning from the absolute torture of watching Tyler Chatwood fester in his own filth for 120 pitches, to the big glorious comeback. Chatwood was booed early, which I do not support, but his little league nonsense is pretty demoralizing and you have to understand why people boo. Anyway, when the Cubs started getting things going in the 8th, I wondered if the crowd had it in them after the ugliness of the first two hours of the game, but they got into it and performed as usual.

I sat in the right field bleachers for the first time in many years. There was some good heckling of Scott Schebler after he lost two fly balls in the sun. He followed that up with a sliding catch (one that a better fielder might have caught remaining on his feet), and left a good sized divot in the grass. I yelled "replace your divot, Schebler" which got the crowd razzing him about the divot for the rest of the inning. He got a good "Dar-ryl" style razzing for the rest of the game, probably enough that it was audible in the broadcast.

The drive down afforded me the guilty pleasure of listening to sports talk radio. The question was raised about Javier Baez and the All Star Game, in particular whether he would, or should, participate in the HR contest. I hadn't thought about that and the idea of it fills me with dread. I don't want Baez anywhere near that stupidity. I mean, why not subject the pitchers to a fastball throwing competition? They should replace it with a pie-eating contest or something.
   102. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 08, 2018 at 12:16 PM (#5706915)
Kris Bryant and Brian Duensing heading to Class-AA Tennessee to begin their rehab assignments. #Cubs also call up pitcher James Norwood with Anthony Bass (illness) going on the 10-day DL.
   103. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 08, 2018 at 12:17 PM (#5706916)
Yeah I dread javy in the hr Derby no matter how fun it might be.
   104. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 08, 2018 at 01:25 PM (#5706924)
Yeah I dread javy in the hr Derby no matter how fun it might be.
Say what now? Are you guys saying that you think the 'HR Derby Jinx' is really a thing? Because the idea that a player changing his approach for a one-night BP session can actually screw him up for an extended period one the season resumes is...let's just say talk radio style 'analysis.'
   105. Brian C Posted: July 08, 2018 at 05:25 PM (#5706996)
Say what now? Are you guys saying that you think the 'HR Derby Jinx' is really a thing? Because the idea that a player changing his approach for a one-night BP session can actually screw him up for an extended period one the season resumes is...let's just say talk radio style 'analysis.'

That would not be my fear - my fear would be that, with the eyes of the world on him expecting to see 500-foot homers, he would finally swing so hard that the torque would actually separate the upper half of his body from the lower half. I mean, we're all semi-surprised it hasn't happened already, right?
   106. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 08, 2018 at 05:27 PM (#5706998)
I'd be more concerned about injury.
   107. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 08, 2018 at 06:08 PM (#5707019)
That would not be my fear - my fear would be that, with the eyes of the world on him expecting to see 500-foot homers, he would finally swing so hard that the torque would actually separate the upper half of his body from the lower half. I mean, we're all semi-surprised it hasn't happened already, right?
This is a fair point.
   108. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 08, 2018 at 08:36 PM (#5707046)
Yes, injury. He already said today he'd do it if asked.

He's a well deserved starter too. Willson earned a spot too even if he probably shouldn't start.

Bryant being hurt took him out of the running but it's also going to look silly in a few years that he missed it back to back years.
   109. Walt Davis Posted: July 08, 2018 at 11:29 PM (#5707092)
Are you guys saying that you think the 'HR Derby Jinx' is really a thing?

Put me down with #5. Also that, while it's true that he sees BP pitching everyday, I don't want to reinforce with Javy the idea that every pitch is hittable and should produce a HR. If it was some sort of punt, pass and kick style competition where they, I dunno, hit LDs to RF, bunt for hits, hit with power, make some defensive gems, then I'd sign Javy up in a second in hopes he concentrates on all of those things.

Meanwhile, to steal from myself in the Omnichatter, I've decided Javy has a magical ability to turn Major League into Little League. I mean c'mon, a seeing eye single that gets soft-tossed into second allowing Heyward to score with a terrible throw that allows Javy to go to 3rd.

On the Votto play, Len and JD and somebody in the chatter said they don't recall seeing a play like that before. I doubt I have either at 1B but recall that there was a runner on 3B that Votto had to worry about. That was a bit like a SS trying for the unassisted double play but losing the ball on the exchange before he gets to the bag and I'm sure I've seen that (not that I can prove it). Anyway, if Votto's not worried about that guy trying to score, he doesn't need to exchange and no error would have been made. And of course Votto isn't involved in that sort of play very often.

I didn't think of this in real time -- did he have enough time to re-tag the bag after regaining the ball? That's probably what happens most of the times a SS makes a similar mistake.
   110. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: July 08, 2018 at 11:51 PM (#5707096)
I didn't think of this in real time -- did he have enough time to re-tag the bag after regaining the ball?


No. He didn't regain control until well after Russell reached first.
   111. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 09, 2018 at 09:33 AM (#5707122)
Plus he had already run past the bag. I also wonder if players have adjusted to replay enough to realize that if they miss a tag or the base to go try again and not go into selling mode. Not that's what happened here but it made me wonder.
   112. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 09, 2018 at 09:38 AM (#5707124)
I know earlier in the year I complained some about the Cubs bad luck, plus them losing games they should have won. Well, even though they're 3 games behind their pythag I think this last week or so more than evened up their luck. There were some really clutch htf did they do that moments at just the right time.

I'm still optimistic on Bryant, whenever he comes back. But I'm starting to wonder if this just isn't going to be Rizzo's year - maybe his back just won't be right until extended rest - and I'm finally caving on the SP, meaning I no longer assume it'll sort itself out.

However, there's this:
Cubs through 87 games:

2015 47-40
2016 52-35
2017 43-44
2018 51-36


And overall there's still lots of room for internal improvement, or positive regression I guess.
   113. Brian C Posted: July 09, 2018 at 09:49 AM (#5707129)
Wow, I knew they were obviously well ahead of last year's pace but I didn't realize they were only 1 game off from the 2016 team. That team started and ended the season so well that I sometimes forget they hit a mid-season funk, too.
   114. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 09, 2018 at 09:56 AM (#5707131)
I'm finally caving on the SP, meaning I no longer assume it'll sort itself out

Come playoff time Chatwood and Montgomery will be irrelevant (assuming good health for others). I do think it's likely Hendricks gets himself sorted out. Darvish is the obvious wild card. But overall I'm not down on the SP situation. Maybe I would feel different if the bullpen weren't kicking ass.
   115. Zonk did it for the children of Russia Posted: July 09, 2018 at 10:03 AM (#5707135)
I have no opinions on the starting pitching.

Given my offseason Chatwood love, I clearly don't know what I'm talking about anyway.
   116. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 09, 2018 at 10:34 AM (#5707146)
Come playoff time Chatwood and Montgomery will be irrelevant (assuming good health for others). I do think it's likely Hendricks gets himself sorted out. Darvish is the obvious wild card. But overall I'm not down on the SP situation. Maybe I would feel different if the bullpen weren't kicking ass.


Right, I'm maybe just going to pretend Chatwood doesn't exist the rest of the season, since he wont exist in the postseason anyway. He had to go and pick Jason Marquis's number, and then pitch like he deserves it.

I do think Hendricks should be fine. I linked a couple pieces on him, and there's plenty of positive indicators. I'm less convinced on Quintana, and I am worrying about Lester more and more, and I think we're already seeing some of the correction he's due. That doesn't mean he'll be bad, and he does usually pitch fine in the playoffs, but.....

I expect either the best or worst from Darvish; if he comes back and is healthy, he'll be fine. I'm just not sure he will be healthy. Then that means there's a good chance we do have to consider Montgomery in the playoffs.

The other side is that if the SP keep struggling, the bullpen could be worn out again come playoff time. There's a ton more depth this year than last, but the Cubs are using a lot of that up right now. So I guess it's a good thing they're so cautious with Morrow now, but I worry about almost everyone else.
   117. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 09, 2018 at 10:49 AM (#5707155)
Also - and I don't mean to be unfair to the Brewers - but I think the Brewers are a lot more formidable this year than last. I don't think the Cubs are going to just blow past them again and coast in the playoffs. That likely means a lot more important games down the stretch than last year, which could mean a lot more to those bullpen arms.

I also fear the Brewers winning the Machado derby, because he would be a huge upgrade for them, even if his defense is really putrid.
   118. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 09, 2018 at 11:25 AM (#5707164)
Cherrypicking while bored (last month's worth of games):

Rizzo: 117PA, .228/.316/.327; 14/10 K/BB, only 2 HRs (last HR 6/24).
Heyward: 110PA, .307/.358/.465; 13/8 K/BB
Javy: 102PA, .383/.422/.628; 25/5 K/BB
Russell: 98PA, .299/.367/.460; 15/9 K/BB
Schwarber: 98PA, .235/.367/.481; 31/16 K/BB
Contreras: 95PA, .310/.372/.488; 22/8 K/BB
Zobrist: 94PA, .299/.404/.403; 12/14 K/BB
Happ: 94PA, .299/.426/.416; 27/17 K/BB
Almora: 91PA, .349/.363/.488; 13/2 K/BB

The first thing that jumps out at me there is how great of a job Joe is doing spreading around playing time. Bryant being out for half that time helps (only 59PAs), but day to day I know I get caught up in complaining about why a certain guys plays or doesn't. Heyward reverting back to a normal hitter has made a huge difference. I wonder if they've thought about giving Rizzo more breaks - he's the one guy really struggling and the only guy who really never sits (Caratini got the start at 1b the other day, but Rizzo still ended up playing the last few innings after PH).
   119. McCoy Posted: July 09, 2018 at 11:53 AM (#5707176)
Cubs have gone 5-1 so far in July and have picked up zero ground on the Brewers. Aargh.
   120. Zonk did it for the children of Russia Posted: July 09, 2018 at 12:05 PM (#5707185)
Also - and I don't mean to be unfair to the Brewers - but I think the Brewers are a lot more formidable this year than last. I don't think the Cubs are going to just blow past them again and coast in the playoffs. That likely means a lot more important games down the stretch than last year, which could mean a lot more to those bullpen arms.

I also fear the Brewers winning the Machado derby, because he would be a huge upgrade for them, even if his defense is really putrid.


The Brewers pen has also been excellent - and worked pretty hard, too.

My acknowledged stupidity on SP aside, I just do not see how a Jhoulys Chacin/Junior Guerra-led rotation gets it done either. They "get" Wade Miley back soon, but he should suck (and thus, probably won't... he'll probably end up getting CYA votes). Nelson's probably out for the year, Chase Anderson has come back down to earth.... though, that Freddy Peralta kid looks like the real deal.

Machado certainly makes them better, but it's awfully hard for me to see how they don't target pitching.
   121. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 09, 2018 at 12:29 PM (#5707194)
that Freddy Peralta kid looks like the real deal.
Is he the wiliest Peralta ever to pitch for the Brewers?
   122. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 09, 2018 at 12:34 PM (#5707199)
Oh, I hadn't seen the latest Nelson update. Yeah, they probably could use some help in their rotation too, but their rotation has been better than the Cubs so far and has a much smaller gap to get to their FIP. I doubt many people with non-Cubs tinted glasses think their rotation is a bigger concern/problem than the Cubs'.
   123. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 09, 2018 at 02:42 PM (#5707247)
It's hard to analyze the Cubs' pitching, because once again they massively overperform their FIPs, and their great defense is a big part of that.

The Cubs are second in MLB in team defensive WAR. Shockingly they are second to... the Milwaukee Brewers.
   124. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 09, 2018 at 05:28 PM (#5707317)
Almora
Russell
Baez
Rizzo
Contreras
Zobrist rf
Bote
Happ LF
Hendricks

Heyward and schwarber sit vs lefty.
   125. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 09, 2018 at 09:11 PM (#5707411)
Maddon says Bryant will play for Tennessee through at least Tuesday, then reassess. Duensing to pitch Tuesday for Tennessee


Bryant reached on error first time up, then single, then hr.
   126. Meatwad Posted: July 09, 2018 at 09:22 PM (#5707423)
Its nice that they were able to keep it going without him. Cubs teams of the before theo era would have cratered.
   127. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 09, 2018 at 10:28 PM (#5707462)
Those teams wouldn't have developed a single one of these position players so they're be little to crater from. Yes I'm exaggerating. A little.
   128. Walt Davis Posted: July 09, 2018 at 10:34 PM (#5707467)
Don't be too hard on yourself re Chatwood. Teams are only hitting 245/359 against him. How were you to know that he'd walk 70 in 79 innings (after 77 in 148 innings last year). His HR% and HR/FB are lower than his career averages, his K% is up. It just turns out a 19% BB rate is not helpful.

I suppose it's a question of whether I trust career or recent but, even with a LHP on the mound, I'd be tempted to start Heyward with that massive OF in SF.
   129. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 09, 2018 at 10:41 PM (#5707471)
Suarez has pretty extreme L/R splits so far, so I'm fine with that tipping the scales tonight. Plus Hendricks in theory is a ground ball guy, right? They do miss bumgarner, which is nice. I'm sure heyward makes an appearance tonight.
   130. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 09, 2018 at 11:22 PM (#5707503)
Through four shutout, Kyle Hendricks is looking a lot more like the good version. Two strikeouts, no walks, six outs on the ground and 7 swinging strikes (6 on the change) on 49 pitches.


He *looks* really good. Hitting all his spots.
   131. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 10, 2018 at 10:08 AM (#5707582)
Notes from Hendricks start:

-He didn’t walk a batter until the final hitter he faced and only got to a three-ball count three times.
-Hendricks threw 109 pitches and induced 16 swing and misses, 13 on his changeup – a high on the season. He threw 10 curveballs, just the second time this year he’s reached double digits on the pitch.
-And after throwing four four-seamers in his last outing, Statcast indicated Hendricks went to the pitch 32 times, and the sinker 29 times, the first time this season he’s thrown more four-seamers than sinkers in a start. He also threw the changeup 38 times, the first time this season he’s thrown it more than any other pitch in a single outing.
-On the season, opponents were hitting just .156 with a .241 slugging against Hendricks’ changeup and a 36.6 percent whiff/swing rate. Those numbers are just a tick worse than his Cy Young-caliber 2016, but better than last season’s numbers against the pitch. The problem was, hitters were chasing the change outside the zone just 38.6 percent of the time, down from 52.6 percent in 2016 and 46.4 percent last season. Hendricks said his fastball was working better for him Monday than it has all season long. In turn, that made his devastating changeup as effective as it’s supposed to be.


All very encouraging.

The offense and defense had an off night. The Cubs did announce their team psychologist had died, so perhaps something like that was on the players' mind (well, I'm thinking Rizzo specifically, as he had about as bad of a night as he'd had in a long time). Cubs had chances to push across another run multiple times and just couldn't get it done.
   132. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 10, 2018 at 10:34 AM (#5707604)
There don't seem to be a lot of solid trade rumors out there for the Cubs. Thed have tried to downplay it with quotes like "the answers are in our locker room", plus we all know the system doesn't have a lot of shiny trade chips at the moment.

However, I did see one that the Cubs were at least kicking the tires on JA Happ, with the Blue Jays scouting the AAA team (that rumor mentioned Zagunis, Tseng, and Bote). The Cubs always seem to be on the periphery of the Machado deal, but I don't see that happening with the way Russell is playing now. Just saw this one:

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman 11m11 minutes ago

Teams have been calling about Derek Dietrich, a good hitter with some versatility. Brewers, Cubs could have interest.


There's obviously no real fit with him on the Cubs now - he's similar to Happ and Zobirst in that he can play a few positions, but he's not as good as either IMO*, so the only reason he would make sense is if there were another deal with Happ going out. If I don't think the Cubs are after Machado, what other rumored player out there could Happ be in a deal for? The only one I can think of - and I haven't seen mentioned anywhere - would be one of the Mets SP - DeGrom or Thor. To get one of them, it would take a much bigger package. Considering how the Cubs are playing now, I really don't think they'd go the major change route, but you never know.

*he's probably better than Happ today, but that's probably just temporary

Lastly, I don't know what to make of this from Robothal:

The Chicago Cubs have held internal discussions about acquiring a veteran leader such as the Orioles’ Adam Jones or Toronto Blue Jays’ Curtis Granderson and also reached out to other clubs about the possibility, sources tell me and The Athletic’s Jayson Stark.

For several reasons, the idea is unlikely to come to fruition before July 31, if at all.

Cubs officials are unsure whether bringing in such a veteran at mid-season would create enough of an impact. The team also has carried 13 pitchers for much of the season, leaving little room for another position player. Tommy La Stella, the Cubs’ only true bench player, leads the majors with 52 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter, and is batting .304 with a .742 OPS in that role.

Thus, the only way for the Cubs to squeeze in a Jones or Granderson would be to trade one of their young outfielders — Albert Almora Jr, Kyle Schwarber or Ian Happ. Such a move would make sense only if it brought the Cubs a top starting pitcher with multiple years of club control. And even then, the Cubs might resist.

A trade for a Jones-Granderson type might be more suitable on Aug. 31, the deadline for teams to set their postseason rosters. The fit would be easier then, with regular-season rosters expanding from 25 to 40 the next day.
   133. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 10, 2018 at 11:12 AM (#5707632)
Yeah, what the heck does that mean? It could be that the Cubs aren't happy with the clubhouse vibe but it's probably not a coincidence the vets they are looking at would be OFs.

If the Cubs make an impact deal it would probably have to be from the 25 man roster - and OF is the obvious area to deal from strength. I just hope that they don't move one of those guys for somebody like J.A. Happ. Theo has a bad habit of paying retail + at the deadline.
   134. McCoy Posted: July 10, 2018 at 11:19 AM (#5707637)
Why in the world would the Cubs need veteran leadership? They've won the WS and have won playoff series in each of the last three seasons.
   135. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 10, 2018 at 11:33 AM (#5707650)
The only players on the team that really aren't veterans - in spite of how young they are, in the sense of experience and going through multiple playoff rounds - are Happ, Caratini, and the various RPs, right? Isn't a cut of Zobrist's deal for his veteranness? Is that comment a backhanded indictment on Rizzo - who everyone says is the dominant lockerroom voice? or Bryant, the best player, since he's not a "leader"? Is it a backhanded indictment on Javy and Willson and their version of baseall? Is this just David Ross - who I think is officially on the payroll - trying to continue padding his legend? Does it mean the new assistant coaches aren't clicking? Is LaStella going to quit again? Is it because Gimenez is a terrible baseball player? I can't come up with any more ridiculous possibilities, and I can't think of a logical one.
   136. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 10, 2018 at 12:03 PM (#5707685)
Personally, I think it's Rosenthal incorrectly reading between the lines as the Cubs are kicking the tires on some OF rentals. What those two really have in common is their teams are out of contention and they are free agents this offseason.
   137. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 10, 2018 at 12:31 PM (#5707714)
The offense and defense had an off night. The Cubs did announce their team psychologist had died, so perhaps something like that was on the players' mind (well, I'm thinking Rizzo specifically, as he had about as bad of a night as he'd had in a long time).
They need more cold, callous as*holes like Hendricks, apparently.
   138. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 10, 2018 at 12:39 PM (#5707727)
Isn't a cut of Zobrist's deal for his veteranness?
To say nothing of the veteranny leadershipping that kept Heyward in the lineup for two years.
   139. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 10, 2018 at 12:42 PM (#5707731)
Now that Heyward is hitting, he doesn't have any time to veteran.

I agree, Pops. But they still feel like backup plans, because they don't fit on the roster now unless the Cubs went down to a 7 man pen (unlikely) or traded someone currently on the roster in another deal.
   140. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 10, 2018 at 01:00 PM (#5707759)
If they really want veterans, Alfonso Soriano is available, and there's a certain "front office member" in Seattle who could lead if he wanted to.
   141. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 10, 2018 at 01:17 PM (#5707785)
   142. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: July 10, 2018 at 03:30 PM (#5707937)
Adam Jones makes $17M this year and has put up -0.1 bWAR. Granderson $5M and 0.7 bWAR. Neither are worth the Cubs time, though maybe they'd get a C+ prospect to take part of Jones' salary.
   143. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 10, 2018 at 06:57 PM (#5708036)
Rizzo gets day off as I suspected. Caratini at 1b.
   144. Walt Davis Posted: July 10, 2018 at 07:21 PM (#5708050)
Yeah, none of those rumored deals make any sense unless there's another player being traded out. Or unless Bryant is hurt more than they said but if that was the case, he wouldn't be re-habbing. That said, LaStella is always an easy player to drop if they really wanted to add a Dietrich/Jones/Granderson ... it just still makes pretty much no sense. In theory a lefty-killing corner OF would be a nice fit but there's still not much playing time there and no reason that has to be a starting vet like Jones. And Granderson/Dietrich just make no sense. Always liked Granderson though and it would be cool for him to come home.

And it would be a lousy trade but a Happ-Happ trade would be memorable.
   145. Brian C Posted: July 10, 2018 at 07:24 PM (#5708051)
I think 40% of trade rumors are just flat-out fabricated by writers*. I mean, even taken at face value, how vague is it to say "the Cubs have had internal discussions"? WTF does that even mean? Even if it's not fabricated, members of the Cubs' front office probably have completely mundane discussions about all kinds of things. How big of a priority are we supposed to think this is? And on top of it all, the writer walks it back in the next paragraph: of course, you know, probably not happening.

(* - Another 50% are misdirection by front offices. Probably about 10% are real actual news. But because of the other 90%, there's no way to know which ones are real until after the fact.)

Anyway, I love actual trades. But man, do I ####### hate the reporting this time of year - it's like every reporter gets license to be as irresponsible as possible. It's like the ####### purge for baseball writers - anything goes!
   146. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 10, 2018 at 10:01 PM (#5708123)
People, the Cubs winning percentage has declined 13.75% since David Ross retired. This glaring need must be filled.
   147. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 11, 2018 at 10:32 AM (#5708253)
Nice to see Quintana pitch well yesterday. He wasn't great, like Hendricks the night before, but still a very positive step for him. I think it's time they stopped running with Schwarber...

Edwards and Wilson looked great, so did Cishek. After the game, Maddon said he just wanted to give Morrow an extra day off because he pitched Sunday. I'm not sure what that's about, but since Morrow is important I guess I'm ok with that on occasion. I can't help but worry a little though.

Bryant is supposed to be back today. We'll see.
   148. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 11, 2018 at 01:08 PM (#5708382)
Zobrist RF
Heyward CF
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
Schwarber
Russell
Caratini
Montgomery
   149. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 11, 2018 at 01:44 PM (#5708402)
Wild speculation time with Bruce Levine:

How do the Cubs view the trade value of Addison Russell and Ian Happ?
— Tom

If the Cubs were to trade Russell now, their infield depth and quality would be impacted. Russell's value is underrated by many, in part because of some erratic throwing issues and because he struggled offensively in 2017. But his bat is starting to look like the 2016 version, and Russell has as much range as any middle infielder in the game. A trade of Russell would be more likely to happen after the 2018 campaign, not in season. All that aside, Russell and Happ would both be in play right now for a pitcher like Mets ace Jacob deGrom, who's under contract control through 2020. Any team looking to acquire deGrom now would be looking at having three playoff runs with him as a front-line starter. The Cubs brass may value Happ long term over Kyle Schwarber because of his speed, versatility and power from both sides of the plate.

Between the back end of the rotation/rotation depth/bullpen help, who would be among the Cubs’ wish list for trades?
— Brandon

The Cubs should and will pursue pitching help, as general manager Jed Hoyer confirmed on 670 The Score on Wednesday morning. And they'll have their sights on both starting rotation and bullpen help. Keep an eye on Orioles reliever Zach Britton, a power pitching who's back to throwing 97 miles per hour. The Cubs came close to picking up Britton last July before they acquired reliever Justin Wilson from the Tigers. Starters like deGrom will be on the Cubs' radar with the health of Yu Darvish up in the air. Theo Epstein and Hoyer have a track record of being aggressive, and the Cubs' window to win is right now. This time, the difference is that the Cubs will have to trade off their big league roster to make a big move.


This is really the first I'm seeing anyone linking the Cubs to DeGrom, but even then it's speculation. But I guess I could see how a trade like that would end up rippling down to other guys mentioned throughout the page. Were the Cubs struggling more, I could see something crazy aggressive like this, but I sure don't expect it.
   150. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 11, 2018 at 03:00 PM (#5708515)
I agree that it's speculation, but I think it's a sensible discussion. deGrom would be a terrific acquistion, and yeah, the Mets are going to want, and I predict will get, short- and long-term value in return.

That would be a very aggressive move, as you said. Definitely not one to make if there are any lingering concerns about Bryant's health.
   151. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 12, 2018 at 01:05 PM (#5709080)
Rizzo is broken. Joe says he's not hurt and it is all mental. Sigh.

Joe also just likes throwing there new RP right into the fire, doesn't he? Not that he had much choice yesterday.
   152. Meatwad Posted: July 12, 2018 at 03:42 PM (#5709173)
I might be the only one but I'm excited to see Javy and Kyle in the home run derby.
   153. Zonk did it for the children of Russia Posted: July 12, 2018 at 04:01 PM (#5709188)
BTW... Anyone heard any news on Smyly? He actually ought to be a few weeks away from throwing, if he isn't already, no?
   154. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 12, 2018 at 05:04 PM (#5709221)
The most recent Rotoworld blurb is that he's up to three innings in his simulated games and hopes to start a rehab assignment before the end of the month.
   155. Quaker Posted: July 12, 2018 at 08:08 PM (#5709308)
So what would you guys be willing to give for deGrom? I don't really want to mess with the offensive core, but I also find it hard to imagine the Cubs winning three rounds of playoff games (and potentially four) when their starters routinely only K 2 batters.
   156. Walt Davis Posted: July 12, 2018 at 09:02 PM (#5709327)
#155 ... Happ's an easy one to give up. But obviously it will take more than that. I like him but I'd be willing to start by putting Schwarber in for Happ. But the Mets are going to want some prospects too and we just don't have them. I don't see how it gets done. (Obviously I'll toss Bote in if that helps. Probably any of our young pitching prospects but I think they're too far away and not highly ranked enough to get anybody too excited.)

So I guess sure, I'll give them Schwarber/Happ, Bote, a pitching "prospect" or two -- I don't think that's gonna be anywhere near the top offer on the table. The Cubs are more likely to land a true rental like Happ I think. Also, like it or not, the whole rotation is still under contract for the next couple of years so adding deGrom either means eating Chatwood's salary or trading off somebody else. (Unless Chatwood is secretly a shutdown reliever.) Not to mention Monty.

As to a broader strategy, probably more for this offseason than this deadline, it depends a lot on whether the Cubs are going to sign Harper or Machado or ??? If we are "planning" (to the extent you can) to sign Harper, then we need to get value for Schwarber and probably Happ soon. I really don't think Machado is a great fit and I doubt he's a SS long-term but, sure, that opens the possibility of trading Baez or Russell.

On Rizzo ... no solutions but would somebody please buy Zobrist a 1B glove. If Rizzo is hurt or needs a mental health break or whatever, I think he's our best multi-week fill-in ... and even if we just want to give Rizzo a few extra days off, I'm pretty sure I'd rather have him there than Caratini.
   157. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 13, 2018 at 11:14 AM (#5709447)
Happ could fill in a little at 1b too. Would it be the worst idea to just give him the series in SD off (maybe even a fake DL thing, backdated) and just tell him to come back after the AS break with a clear head?

This is worth reading, and looks at some stuff in his slump.

Rizzo is hitting .223 against the shift this year, down from the .295 average he’s posted from 2014 to 2017. Is that drop in contact related? No. His hard contact into the shift during that span was at 30 percent and this year it’s at 30.9 percent. He’s hitting fewer ground balls into the shift than both of his previous two seasons (39.3 percent compared to 41.5 and 42.9 percent, respectively) and a lot more line drives (25.6 percent compared to 21.8 and 22.3 percent, respectively). But for some reason he’s posting a 24 wRC+ against the shift, the worst of his career. Rizzo is being shifted on more frequently, as he’s seeing a shift in 2.86 plate appearances per game, up from 2.69 in 2016 and 2.62 last year.

It’s certainly odd that Rizzo is hitting the ball harder and on the ground less often into the shift, but they’re turning into outs much more frequently, but perhaps that’s just as simple as him being shifted a bit more thus far.

There are more things that don’t add up.

Rizzo is striking out at a 12.8 percent rate, the lowest of his career. He’s walking less, but he’s chasing pitches out of the zone less than ever. And his contact within the zone is higher than ever.

The only conclusion I can come to from that is that either he’s getting horrible luck (which lines up with his .236 BABIP) or he’s swinging at pitchers’ strikes too often, leading to the fact that he’s matched a full-season career-low in soft contact, but it’s only led to a big jump in medium contact, instead of the hard kind. And perhaps it is as simple as just avoiding those pitches in the zone that aren’t the ones he can drive and making sure he draws more walks. Maddon loves to say that when a player is walking, they’re hitting, and that seems to line up for Rizzo this year.


Or he's hurt.
   158. Andere Richtingen Posted: July 13, 2018 at 11:48 AM (#5709462)
So I guess sure, I'll give them Schwarber/Happ, Bote, a pitching "prospect" or two -- I don't think that's gonna be anywhere near the top offer on the table.

I agree with all of this, despite my really liking Happ's prospects for developing into a real star. The Mets are generally not a fire sale type team, so they will be looking for top-shelf short- and longterm prospects in any offer, particularly for a great, consistent starter who isn't yet even arb eligible. Offer Happ and Schwarber and I think the Mets might start listening -- but the Cubs won't make that offer.

Regarding Rizzo:

Or he's hurt.

Maybe he is, but the information described in that paragraph does not suggest that. It may be a combination of things, but I would first blame it on luck, specifically regarding hitting into the shift. It seems to me that he's been hitting a lot of balls right at fielders. From May 1st through early June he was terrific, and I predict he gets hot again and we kind of forget about this, with his end of the year numbers being down a bit overall.

   159. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 13, 2018 at 11:51 AM (#5709464)
True, but I still think there's some lingering back issue or something because that the luck/shift doesn't explain the complete disappearance of his power. He's slugging under .400.
   160. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 13, 2018 at 05:07 PM (#5709652)
Len Kasper @LenKasper 48m48 minutes ago

Padres SS Freddy Galvis leads majors w/852 inn played. The Cubs don't have a player ranked in the top 50. Javier Baez is 72nd. That is incredible & speaks to how deep the roster is & how Joe has parsed playing time.
   161. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 13, 2018 at 05:27 PM (#5709660)
Silly Joe and his one slumpbuster move:

Rizzo
Almora
Bryant
Baez
Contreras
Russell
Zobrist
Happ
Chatwood

That lineup should do some damage to Clayton Richard, even if Rizzo does nothing.
   162. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 13, 2018 at 06:42 PM (#5709688)
Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 46s46 seconds ago

Duensing here, Farrell optioned


Hurray?
   163. McCoy Posted: July 14, 2018 at 09:04 AM (#5709823)
First place!
   164. Walt Davis Posted: July 15, 2018 at 02:02 AM (#5710117)
Checking in to see if Moses's head exploded with Heyward batting 3rd ... no post, I fear the worst.

I didn't see the game but Hendricks 102 pitches in 5 innings on just 5 hits, 3 K and no BB? That's a very strange line.

With the first "half" nearly wrapped up, can we start the Javy MVP campaign? 25 doubles, 19 HR, 71 RBI. No clear candidate in the NL.

Huh? Ian Desmond has 18 HR this year. And a 86 OPS+ and negative WAR.

Here's the even bigger shock -- 13 HR on the road, 5 at home. A 270 ISO on the road, 105 more points of OPS. He's almost not terrible on the road (the 290 OBP ain't ideal). If he can stay hot on the road and hit like a normal person at Coors, he might make 40.
   165. McCoy Posted: July 15, 2018 at 09:29 AM (#5710154)

Baez on pace to be a 30/30 player. He would be the first player since Sammy Sosa did it in 1995. He would also be only the second Cub to do it and it would be the third season ever for a Cub.

It's possible with the summer weather that Baez could get up to 40/40. He'd be the 5th player to do it and the first since Alfonso Soriano for Washington in 2006.
   166. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 15, 2018 at 01:08 PM (#5710250)
Yeah, Walt, I'm alive. I didn't see the lineup until I got home and turned the game on. It doesn't make any sense, he's cooled down some, but since everyone else is hitting it is what it is, you know? It's just the Padres.

---

Cubs’ notes: 28-16 (.636) run starting May 27, allowed Cubs to make up 6 games on Brewers, now hold season-high 1 1/2 game lead. Cubs will own the best record in the N.L. at ASB for 1st time in 10 years since being 57-38 (.600) in 2008


Always forget the like 1 week the Cubs didn't have the best record in 2016 was during the all Star break. Giants didn't keep it up.
   167. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 15, 2018 at 01:42 PM (#5710262)
Almora Jr. on family medical emergency leave list


Bote up.

Rizzo
Bryant RF
Heyward CF
Baez
Russell
Zobrist LF
Contreras
Bote
Lester

Heyward 3rd against a lhp?!?!?
   168. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 16, 2018 at 03:11 PM (#5710674)
All Star game lineup NL

Javy
Arrenado
Goldschmidt (DH)
Freeman
Kemp
Harper
Markakis
Crawford
Contreras

Sale is the SP, so completely makes sense for Javy to lead off.
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