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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Monday, July 29, 2019

Taking the current temperature

Starting a new thread, as it’s way overdue.  I’m not sure I have that many original thoughts, so I’m going to steal some comments from the last thread here.

First thing on my mind is the ridiculous home/road splits.  I haven’t updated these since I originally posted them before the Brewers series, but nothing has really changed and the 2 losses fit the general theme.  The Cubs are 10 under .500 on the road; if they were just .500 on the road they’d have a 5 game lead in the division instead of being tied with the Cards.

They hit essentially the same on the road as at home - .785OPS at home, .790 on the road - but the pitching is *significantly* worse, in virtually every way. I can never get these tables to look right, but:

HOME: 3.36 ERA, 1.185WHIP, 8.7k/9, 2.9bb/9, 1.1hr/9, .233/.300/.384 line against
ROAD: 4.86 ERA, 1.451WHIP, 8.4k/9, 3.8bb/9, 1.3hr/9, .266/.343/.448 line against

The Cubs do hit more HRs on the road than home (12 more in about 50ABs), but walk less to cancel it out in OPS. So I don’t think this is just a case of extreme park factors. I have no idea what would explain this (every team is stealing signs against them everywhere but Wrigley? the pitchers are always drunk on the road?).

Second, we’ve talked quite a bit about the holes on the team.  I never really considered “leadoff hitter” as a hole, or even a position, but I’ve been rethinking that quite a bit lately.  Cubs leadoff hitters this year are hitting a putrid .218/.289/.399; only the 9th spot in the order is hitting worse.  Some of that is because the Cubs really don’t have a typical guy to put there, though I’ve made the argument before that Heyward should go there.  Of course, he’s not really hitting this month again anyway (.282/.311/.705), so maybe that’s a bad suggestion.  I wonder why he hasn’t done it more (he’s done it 6 games, which is 6 more than I remember - and didn’t do #### in those 6 with a .383OPS), perhaps he just doesn’t like doing it.  Garcia is just as bad of a fit as Schwarber, and I understand not rushing to put Happ back up there so soon after bringing him back.  Maybe it’s time for Rizzo to spend a couple of weeks there again.

I’m glad Garcia is up and playing pretty regularly, but it’s also becoming clear that he probably isn’t an everyday guy.  His defense is only so-so at best, and he’s such a free swinger that he’s always going to struggle against certain types of pitchers.  If Bote were hitting lefties, perhaps that’s an ideal platoon.  Since he’s not, I’d guess the Cubs are still looking to add someone who can at least play there part time.  Walt listed a few guys*, but Sogard may have been the best option and he went to TB instead.  So now I’m eyeing Hanser Alberto; he’d be cheap, but the draw here is the multiple positions and he’s hitting .404/.413/.529 vs LHP.  That’s assuredly a fluke, but it kinda fits a need and he’s still likely to be better than Descalso the rest of the year.  I still would guess the Cubs end up with Castellanos for RF, just because there aren’t any other great option (Dyson would also be fine).  The problem here is that there really aren’t any great options that really move the needle.

*Rojas 2.4/1.2 88
Sogard 1.9/0.9 126
Dietrich 1.7/0.9 122
AFrazier 1.5/0.3 93
Galvis 1.5/0.2 98
Alberto 1.3/0.2 97 (on the O’s, 26 years old)
GGarcia 1.0/0.3 102 (on Pads)
Iglesias 1.0/-0.1 78

Which means, the Cubs probably do end up overpaying for another decent RP.  I also kinda think they have to, what with so many guy punch 7th/8th inning blown leads.  I’m not going to be happy about it, and maybe this team isn’t worth adding another guy for, but I’d hate to see what would happen if that’s the reason the Cubs lose a playoff game, or worse, series.

Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 29, 2019 at 11:03 AM | 387 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   201. Brian C Posted: August 16, 2019 at 09:42 PM (#5872045)
With 20/20 hindsight, of course let's stick with Wick.

No, hindsight's got nothing to do with it. I called it in real time in the omnichatter thread.

Wick's perfectly capable of going multiple innings - he'd already gone more than one inning 5 times in 24 outings previous to last night - and hadn't pitched in 4 days. He was not in over his head. Maddon just panicked.

I'm not wild about taking Ryan out of this game right now, either, after a squibbed grounder that Bote couldn't handle. Damn this infield defense for one thing, but bringing Kintzler in with a runner on in the ninth fresh off the DL seems sub-optimal to me.
   202. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 16, 2019 at 09:47 PM (#5872048)
Mother of mercy, these late innings are just brutal.
   203. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 16, 2019 at 09:48 PM (#5872049)
I'm not wild about taking Ryan out of this game right now, either, after a squibbed grounder that Bote couldn't handle. Damn this infield defense for one thing, but bringing Kintzler in with a runner on in the ninth fresh off the DL seems sub-optimal to me.


Yeah, I was not a fan of Ryan, but he's been solid for a while now. Just roll the dice. Can't be much worse than last night (or maybe even tonight).
   204. Brian C Posted: August 16, 2019 at 09:49 PM (#5872050)
Wick also averaged more than an inning per appearance in AAA this season (35 IP in 26 G). "Modern reliever", give me a break.
   205. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 16, 2019 at 09:50 PM (#5872051)
Jesus Christ.
   206. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 16, 2019 at 09:50 PM (#5872053)
Walking Bell seemed like the right move, but I assumed Kintzler would not forget how to throw strikes.
   207. Brian C Posted: August 16, 2019 at 09:51 PM (#5872056)
Oh look Kintzler blew it. With 20/20 hindsight, maybe we should have stuck with Ryan.
   208. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 16, 2019 at 09:51 PM (#5872057)
What a nightmare.
   209. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 16, 2019 at 09:52 PM (#5872059)
Seriously, walking in the tying run is bad enough, but it's a dude hitting sub .200.
   210. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 16, 2019 at 09:55 PM (#5872060)
Is there any doubt that this isn't either a walk-off walk or another walk-off grand slam?
   211. Brian C Posted: August 16, 2019 at 09:57 PM (#5872062)
Good lord.
   212. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 16, 2019 at 09:59 PM (#5872064)
Maybe this can be the end of Joe trying to mix and match his way to saves. That was absolutely brutal.
   213. Brian C Posted: August 16, 2019 at 09:59 PM (#5872065)
You know, I know it's crazy talk, but I'm almost starting to believe in magical closer pixie dust.
   214. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 16, 2019 at 10:00 PM (#5872066)
That's it, I'm done. Fire him now.
   215. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 16, 2019 at 10:01 PM (#5872068)
My thought is if there was a right-hander to be trusted in the pen, wouldn't he just be out there to start the ninth anyway?
   216. Red Voodooin Posted: August 16, 2019 at 10:02 PM (#5872069)
Wow. What is there to really say? Every button Joe pushes turns out poorly. I suppose if Kintzler pitches to Bell he would have homered so what does it matter? Ugh.
   217. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 16, 2019 at 10:02 PM (#5872070)
No, never ibb the winning run on base. Bell ain't bonds.
   218. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 16, 2019 at 10:05 PM (#5872071)
No, never ibb the winning run on base. Bell ain't bonds.


He's murdered the Cubs this year.

And the guys that followed aren't even capable MLB hitters. Kintzler walking the next two guys was inexcusable.
   219. Red Voodooin Posted: August 16, 2019 at 10:05 PM (#5872072)
That was absolutely my feeling at the time. Pitch around him maybe, but you can't put him on representing the winning run.

Cubs were one strike away several times for the second night in a row.
   220. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 16, 2019 at 10:06 PM (#5872073)
He's murdered the Cubs this year.


I don't believe in that. He also hasn't been the same guy in the 2nd half.
   221. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 16, 2019 at 10:07 PM (#5872074)
How different this division looks if the Cubs are even competent on the road.

We've only got six weeks left. I don't see how this isn't just one of those weird seasons where for whatever reason, they just ####### suck on the road. Like when a team just has a crazy good record in one-run games.

I still think they're better than St. Louis, but this team looks ####### dreadful away from Wrigley.
   222. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 17, 2019 at 08:38 AM (#5872102)
Every time the Cubs go on a road trip, I find myself thinking, "A team that plays this good at home has to start win eventually on the road." Every time another failed road trip finishes, I think instead, "A team that plays this badly on the road can't keep playing this badly at home." It's genuinely remarkable how the team's home/road divergence keeps increasing as the year goes around. It's like the season is one giant middle finger to the principle of things moving toward an equilibrium as the sample size increases.

In other news, while the bullpen's meltdown yesterday was the most obvious and dramatic problem, can I just say -- hey, offense, feel free to get more than 2 hits in the first seven innings against a crummy pitcher on a crummy team. Otherwise, you don't have to yank Hendricks for a pinch hitter after 7 innings and just 77 pitches thrown - because his AB took place during the team's only rally of the game.
   223. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 19, 2019 at 11:34 AM (#5872545)
How's everybody else celebrating the Cubs first road series win in 3 months (and first division road series win)? Me, I'm still stewing about the blown games Thursday/Friday that would have made it a winning trip/2nd consecutive road series win streak.

Let me expand on this a little. First, the Phillies blown game:

It's possible Strop is just done but I'll defend Joe there. Wick had faced 6 batters and 22 pitches -- that's usually about it for a modern reliever. And clearly not all his fault but he had given up 3 hits to those 6 batters. I'm not saying he made the right decision, I'm saying it's understandable that he didn't have a lot of faith that Wick's 23-30th pitches were gonna get us out of it. And of course maybe he should have gone to Phelps or somebody other than Strop. Joe kinda has to get Strop back on track or we probably don't win the division and probably won't go much farther if we do. With 20/20 hindsight, of course let's stick with Wick.

I've been complaining some time now about how Maddon takes both too long to put someone in the "circle of trust" (Wick, here; I also disagree with the idea Wick might have been done based on pitch count, but others answered that) and takes too long to take someone out (Strop). I 100% agree that Joe should be doing everything he can to get Strop right; bringing him in with 2 already on and to face the tying run is absolutely not the time to do it. I could have seen an argument for letting Strop get a chance to start the inning with a 4 run lead and facing the bottom half of the Phillies order, but understand why Joe let Wick keep pitching in the hopes he could finish it off. After Wick got 2 ground balls that should have ended the game (the Bote error and the Happ non-play), it was pure panic to pull Wick and replace him with a clearly inferior pitcher. At least he pulled Strop after it was clear he wasn't gonna get the job done (though again, it should have been obvious before) and the argument for Holland is that although he is a bad pitcher, he at least looks like he should be a decent LOOGY (of course, Joe hasn't really used him like that yet, though it appears Chatwood was ready to face Realmuto if Harper didn't do what Harper did).

The next night, Joe made the SAME ####### MISTAKE, plus more. This time, he didn't quite trust Ryan (I know a lot of us have been slow to trust him, too, but he's kinda earned it; in Joe's defense, Ryan wasn't sharp the night before but he'd only given up one single here), panicked and brought in Kintzler (now, he's earned his spot in the circle, but he was just off the IL and hadn't made a rehab start so assuming he'd be sharp was a mistake). I'd understand chasing the matchup advantage against Marte EXCEPT that Marte has actually hit RHP better than LHP this year (.871 OPS vs .732 - Marte has always hit RHP better than LHP but this year is more dramatic) *AND* Kintzler is better against LHP than RHP this year (SSS, I know) PLUS Bell is on deck who has an even more dramatic split as a switch hitter and you ALWAYS would rather him batting RH than LH. After Kintzler actually got Marte to ground out extremely weakly in front of the plate (and Kintzler made a great play to get him), it was beyond stupid to IBB Bell. Like I said earlier, I feel like a pretty safe hard and fast rule is to never intentionally put the winning run on base (and a close second is never put the tying one on either). I already dismissed the argument about Bell vs the Cubs (and now that I look up the number, he hasn't been killing the Cubs this year - .876 OPS) and pointed out he's been much worse in the 2nd half than the first (1.024OPS vs .712OPS*). Now, Kintzler absolutely can't walk the next couple of guys - that's totally on him - but it also was because he was in a situation he probably shouldn't have been in and it looked like he was going to be out there to see the inning through no matter what happened.

I can't decide which sequence bugged me more, but I do think Friday's was more preventable even with the smaller lead. Joe just doubled down on his strategy from the night before; he seems like a guy who doesn't take any sort of criticism well and wants to prove to you why he was right. He didn't exactly cover himself in glory Saturday either, though they got out of it (why the #### would Chatwood start the 9th unless you were gonna let him finish it? He at least brought in the right guy - Wick - though Joe made it harder than it needed to be, just let Wick start the inning clean).

*Yes, he's on my fantasy team, so I was acutely aware of this fact beforehand.
   224. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 19, 2019 at 11:53 AM (#5872549)
And that's not even mentioning last night, when Joe pulled Kimbrel with two outs in the ninth, a runner on first and a 7-1 lead. That's a signature moment in the Managerer of the Year race. Of course Strop, decked out with his Players' Weekend nickname, consisting of adding a "Y" to his last name on the back of his jersey, proceeded to load the bases before finally finishing it off. The Joe Madden Experience: Come for the wasted time, stay for the needless risk of a much closer game!
   225. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 19, 2019 at 11:56 AM (#5872552)
And that's not even mentioning last night, when Joe pulled Kimbrel with two outs in the ninth, a runner on first and a 7-1 lead. That's a signature moment in the Managerer of the Year race.

That one I'll defend - they pointed it out on the broadcast, but Kimbrel probably was on some sort of pitch count, seeing how he's just back off the IL and didn't make a rehab appearance. That also is a good enough time to bring Strop in - actually, not sure why Holland got the 8th instead of Strop cause that's what I would have done.
   226. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 19, 2019 at 11:58 AM (#5872554)
For some reason I wasn't getting the sound from the broadcast, but come on - a full inning is too taxing on a reliever's arm now?
   227. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 19, 2019 at 12:45 PM (#5872572)
It's not like Kimbrel is economical with his pitches, so if they're trying to keep him healthy and want to make sure he's around the rest of the year, I have no probably capping him at 20 pitches his first time back.
   228. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 19, 2019 at 10:05 PM (#5872756)
The Cubs are optioning David Bote to Triple-A Iowa and planning to activate Steve Cishek for the Giants series that begins tomorrow night at Wrigley Field.


Ok.
   229. Walt Davis Posted: August 20, 2019 at 04:29 AM (#5872788)
No, hindsight's got nothing to do with it. I called it in real time in the omnichatter thread.

Sorry, that wasn't meant as a comment on you.

Wick's perfectly capable of going multiple innings

Sorry, this is just wrong. With the possible exception of Josh Hader or the very occasional outing of a very top closer, no reliever should be trusted with multiple innings. If you want the level of effectiveness that modern relievers achieve, you need to keep them almost always to an inning or less.

Wick has had 5 appearances this year in which he faced 6+ batters .... 8 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 9 K, 7 R. We can add a 26-pitch, 5 batter performance (his 2019 debut) in which he gave up 1 R in 1 inning and a 28-pitch (!) 1.1 IP performance with no runs but 2 BB. As to pitch counts, after reaching somewhere around 20-22:

May 26, garbage time -- 5 pitch PA to strikeout Sean Rodriguez
Jun 22, garbage time -- 8 pitch BB to Dom Smith, 5 pitch single to Frazier, 5 pitch K of Conforto
Jul 1, garbage time -- single to Brault, double to Frazier, RBI groundout, groundout
Jul 27, hi lev -- 6 pitch K of Cain
Aug 11, hold/lev -- it took him 20 pitches to get 3 up, 3 down in his 1st inning of work, only 16 pitches giving up a single in his 2nd (his best outing)
Aug 15, the meltdown that wasn't really his fault but, as noted, he didn't top 22 pitches to those 6 batters.

So past 22 or so pitches, 5 of 13 batters have reached base.

He, like nearly all relievers, loses effectiveness the longer he's in there. The whole point of the modern bullpen is to push leveraged reliever ERA+ through the roof by limiting their outings to an inning. To say that he's not capable of going more than 5-6 batters 20-25 pitches is not a statement his arm will fall off, it's a statement that he will likely be a very average pitcher -- i.e. a seriously below-average leverage reliever -- past that point.

And note, he hasn't been pushed hard in the minors since May 26. They did use him very heavily early but since then his games in BF terms have been 3, 4, 3, 4, 4, 4, 3, 4, 1, 4, 3, 4, 3. That was quite possibly more about making sure he would be as fresh as possible when called back up. In those appearances, 12.2 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 0 R, 16 K. (in the 1 batter appearance, he got a DP) In only one of those outings did he allow two baserunners. He had a 23-pitch and a 25-pitch inning, otherwise 18 or fewer. That's the guy we want.
   230. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 20, 2019 at 10:51 AM (#5872844)
FG on Quintana.

---

We're not talking about Wick in a vacuum here. How would he compare in those next pitches to someone like Strop, who's been bad/hurt virtually the entire year? IOW, you have to compare him to the other options, and I honestly am not sure anyone else left in the pen that day would have been expected to do better than Wick even with a slight decline in performance.
   231. Brian C Posted: August 20, 2019 at 02:07 PM (#5872927)
Yeah, Walt's analysis in 229 is exactly the kind of thinking that got Maddon into trouble: "relievers have a strong tendency to get worse after X pitches and he's close to X pitches to I NEED TO GET SOMEONE ANYONE ELSE IN THERE RIGHT NOW."

So past 22 or so pitches, 5 of 13 batters have reached base.

Well, at least you're proving your point with a robust sample size.
And note, he hasn't been pushed hard in the minors since May 26.

Hmm, so he must have been really lousy up until that point for you to choose that very selective endpoint, right? Let's take a look:

ERA for Iowa as of May 26: 2.82, with a 4.1 K:BB ratio in a loony toons-crazy offensive league. Yeah, you're right, no way he could have gone any longer and been more effective than Strop.

   232. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 20, 2019 at 05:08 PM (#5872979)
Heyward
Castellanos*
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
Schwarber
Lucroy
Kemp
Hamels

I think the Cubs might be done with Happ as a 2b this year. Last time he started at 2b was the Phillies game and his lack of range was a big contributing factor to that loss**; maybe I'm jumping the gun, but Kemp hasn't hit worth #### here so far and Happ has (even if he's cooled off a bit) and Kemp has been pretty good at 2b from what I've seen so far. Lucroy and Caratini might be in a 50/50 job share right now, and Lucroy has hit a little since he's arrived and Caratini hasn't been hitting (basically a .650 OPS the last 2 months); I haven't really been able to judge how Lucroy has looked defensively so far but Caratini is still more of an offensive guy than a defensive one and if he isn't hitting...

Here's hoping Hamels has figured out whatever mechanical issues that have been bugging him for tonight. Giants have been better in the 2nd half, but are a terrible road hitting team so it's a favorable matchup for him.

*.348/.392/.710 as a Cub so far. So yeah, not a platoon guy.
**Cubs might not say it, but I have a feeling Bote is back in Iowa to work on his defense after also having some really rough games (and his power has kinda disappeared as well).
   233. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 21, 2019 at 11:16 AM (#5873169)
Well, Rizzo's power is back in a big way. If he just adds that to what he's already doing, he'll finish with his best year ever. Bryant looked very much not himself last night. Javy appears to be in another mini-slump, Kemp just can't hit at all. Hamels was a little better, but still not quite there yet (I'll be at the game Sunday, which looks to be set up for Hamels vs. Strasburg - save last night, the Nats offense has been fantastic lately). Joe used Ryan in the 7th (including against some righties, and didn't panic when he gave up a 2 out single), Wick in the 8th, and Kimbrel had a clean 9th (only his 4th 1-2-3 as a Cub). Cishek was warming in the 8th (along with Holland), but neither made it in (would have been highish leverage, which is maybe pushing it for his first game back).

The downside to Bote (and Almora) being in AAA, is that Happ is really the only good PH option, so when Happ PH in a close game in the 6th, it was too early to double switch him in to replace either of the corner OF for defense (and with Almora gone, than leaves Heyward in CF, and Joe had been closing a lot of games with Happ/Almora/Heyward as the OF defense) - that could come back and bite the Cubs at some point in a close game. They could have tried to leave Happ in a 2b for a inning or 2 until Russell appeared in an attempt to steal another AB for Schwarber or Castellanos. I guess this will be interesting to watch.
   234. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 21, 2019 at 12:07 PM (#5873176)
Oh, and in the year of the crazy home run, the Cubs are the first team to have 4 guys with 25HRs. I'm sure other teams will get there, maybe even pass them (I'm not gonna try to figure that out). The Cubs probably could finish with as many as 7; I bet they finish with just these 4 - Contreras probably won't be back long enough, I will never stop doubting Heyward so he won't, and Castellanos will come up just short with only 21 HRs as a Cub* (so he'll have more than 25 on the season when you count his Tigers HRs).

*based on his current pace which will absolutely not at all slow down. BTW, Castellanos really is pulling a poor man's JD Martinez here, isn't he? The parallels are numerous (poor defensive corner OF hits another gear after leaving the Tigers right before FA).
   235. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 21, 2019 at 01:18 PM (#5873202)
   236. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 21, 2019 at 02:29 PM (#5873219)
I figured Castellanos would see an uptick in homers once he was out of Comerica, but man, he's been pretty much the only Cub you can count of for some power in August, the last couple games (with Rizzo) notwithstanding.
   237. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 21, 2019 at 04:29 PM (#5873260)
Heyward
Castellanos
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
Schwarber
Happ
Caratini
Darvish

Looked like I jumped too quickly to the conclusion on Happ at 2b, though it is behind Darvish who is a groundball guy.
   238. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 21, 2019 at 05:58 PM (#5873274)
Theo: Morrow had another setback and is done for the season.


Shocking.

Ben Zobrist on schedule for Sept 1 addition according to Theo Epstein


Even rusty, he might be the best 2b option the Cubs have. I wonder if knowing he was likely coming back kept the Cubs from looking for a better 2b addition than Kemp.
   239. Red Voodooin Posted: August 21, 2019 at 07:25 PM (#5873290)
I'm really looking forward to Zobrist's return. Can't wait to see his first Wrigley AB ovation.
   240. Meatwad Posted: August 21, 2019 at 10:20 PM (#5873319)
I hope insurance covers all of morrows contract. What a useless signing.
   241. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 21, 2019 at 10:44 PM (#5873330)
I can’t imagine that any insurer would have covered Morrow given his history. This was entirely predictable,
   242. Brian C Posted: August 22, 2019 at 01:08 AM (#5873362)
So ... a lot happened in that game tonight. Decided to go at about 5pm and had a blast.

Didn't really have a problem with Darvish giving up the homers, it was just that kind of night. Wind was even blowing in a little bit after the first couple innings but balls were sailing. Frustrating but what can you do. I might not have left him in to give up the fourth one, but not a lot of good options for Joe at that point either, as we saw amply demonstrated anyway.

Speaking of, The Fantabulous Derek Holland Extravaganza has pretty much got to end now. I'm sure he's a nice chap and all but he's completely worthless, and he could hardly be any worse if he was throwing games on purpose while also trying to make it obvious enough to get caught doing it as a cry for help. I just can't see how rando AAA guy or scrap heap free agent would be worse.

Was happy for Bryant when he came through. Must have felt good.

I thought Schwarber was clearly safe at home, but as usual tag plays are often just not easily able to determine definitively on replay. I wasn't surprised that the call stood, but he looked safe live to me and he looked safe on replay to roughly 95% certainty. The Giants fans around me seemed surprised it wasn't overturned, and watching the vid now, it sounds like Jon Miller was pretty surprised too.

Overall, it was nice to see this team take some punches and keep coming back. They've had some bad pitching outings lately that ended up as blowouts. But tonight was different. Feisty crowd, too - it always helps to have a good smattering of traveling road fans around, IMO, and the Giants fans always represent.

   243. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 22, 2019 at 09:22 AM (#5873393)
At least 2 of the HRs were of the juiced ball variety, and a couple weren't on bad pitches. The 4th one was a mistake that felt inevitable, but he still had gotten ahead 0-2 and then just missed getting the pitch down - Caratini was clearly signaling for him to bury the ball in the dirt. Oddly enough:

David Kaplan @thekapman

We just did the research here in the studio
@NBCSChicago
. This season when he has any 2 strike count on a hitter,
@faridyu
is throwing nearly 80% off speed pitches. 3 of the HR’s he allowed tonight were with 2 strikes and those 3 all were off speed pitches. #YuTooPredictable

ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) @faridyu

Not including tonight’s game.
Against lefty after two strilke.
Off speed pitch .137AVG .205OBP .222SLG .427OPS
4 seam .350AVG .435OBP .650SLG .1085OPS

Which one is better choice
   244. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 22, 2019 at 11:12 AM (#5873421)
Is that Yu Darvish himself replying to Dave Kaplan's tweet?
   245. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 22, 2019 at 11:27 AM (#5873430)
Yes, it was. I think I also saw he's the first pitcher in MLB history to have 5 consecutive starts of 0BB and 8+Ks.

WTF, I actually had a lot more to that post that somehow didn't show up. I blame zonk.

Trying to remember...yeah, cut Holland loose. He was a potential LOOGY guy, but 4 of the 5 guys last night he faced were lefties. He throws hard, but it ain't fooling anyone. Cubs don't need a 9 man pen anyway, now that everyone else is back; even with only 1 lefty, they have righties who are plenty good against lefties.

It's not surprising Chatwood sucked, that's who he is, but I had been starting to believe he might be useful.

Lastly, Castellanos is now on pace for 25 HRs with the Cubs.
   246. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 22, 2019 at 11:34 AM (#5873434)
Wait, there's more...

David Kaplan @thekapman

Replying to @mhimes
Hmm, Kevin Pillar sure didn’t look left handed to me.


So, he took the coward's way and didn't respond to Yu, or tag him in it. Yu still saw:

ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) @faridyu

"Including" tonight's game
Splitter aginst righty's .030AVG .030OBP .121SLG .152OPS 20Ks.
So Pillar is first righty to hit my Splitter this season.
   247. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 22, 2019 at 11:48 AM (#5873439)
Same exact lineup as yesterday, which I like. Watch Happ's D at 2b though...
   248. Meatwad Posted: August 22, 2019 at 12:55 PM (#5873465)
I love darvish's responses to kaplan.
   249. Brian C Posted: August 22, 2019 at 01:30 PM (#5873496)
Yes, I agree - I think Yu won this argument even if it were to turn out he just completely made up his stats.

Also, I'm getting a good chuckle at Kaplan talking about sitting around doing nerd stuff like researching stats. "We" just did research, yeah I bet. He sure seems like the kind of guy who would call a lowly production assistant to his in-office tanning bed and order them to go get stats for him, while actually addressing them as "Lowly Production Assistant".

Then again, if his numbers are completely wrong, then I should maybe give him more credit for doing his own grunt work.
   250. Meatwad Posted: August 22, 2019 at 02:58 PM (#5873520)
After today the cubs play 35 more games, 17 road 18 home, only 12 are out of division games. 3 against the nats and mets. 2 against seattle and 4 against the padres. During this stretch they play 7 against the brewers 3 at home and 4 on the road. After this starting september 13th its pirates and reds for 3 each and st louis 4 games all at home with 3 agains the pirates and finishes with 3 against st louis.

I feel pretty confident that this team is going to win the division, but they need to make sure its out of reach by that last series, dont want to go to st st louis needing wins.
   251. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 22, 2019 at 03:09 PM (#5873530)
Wait, even more:

David Kaplan @thekapman

Yu Darvish vs RHB 2019
Fastballs Offspeed
BA .164 .231
OBP .259 .322
SLG .323 .423
OPS .582 .745
K% 31.3% 49.2%
HR% 3.5% 5.1%


ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) @faridyu

Also your number is wrong I guess.
Fastballs .250AVG .381OBP .489SLG .870OPS.
Off speed .137AVG .201OBP .261SLG .462OPS.
You can't win agains Cubs database.
   252. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 22, 2019 at 05:01 PM (#5873586)
Wick is quite impressive.
   253. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 22, 2019 at 07:57 PM (#5873615)
After June 26, the Cubs were 28-16 at home and 15-21 on the road for a weirdly pronounced home/road split.

Since then, they've gone 10-18 on the road and .... 16-3 at home.

Yeah, I know this is hardly news to anyone. I just find it impressive. I find their home record especially impressive over the last 8 weeks. For all the talk of why are they so bad on the road, their utter domination at home is also weirdly big.
   254. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 23, 2019 at 12:11 PM (#5873758)
Same order, except bottom 3 are Lucroy/Kemp/Lester
   255. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 23, 2019 at 12:17 PM (#5873759)
More on Brailyn.

“There were some changes to his natural arm stroke over time in the Dominican and it got really short and took his delivery out of sync,” Sagara said. “So we built his arm stroke back to what it was as an amateur when we signed him. We got his body to sync up and it created all this easy power. Last year he averaged 95 and this year with that plus some added physical development, he’s averaging 98-99 and touching 102 pretty regularly.”

Marquez has gone from completely off the radar, to a kid with raw stuff but middling results, to a force of nature over the last two years. According to Sagara, who’s in his second season with the Cubs, Marquez was sitting 88 with his fastball in 2016 and in the low-90s in 2017. Scouts can see the pure stuff.

He dominated in his final two starts with South Bend, allowing no runs and striking out 22 over 12 innings combined. Over his last five starts across the two levels, Marquez boasts a 0.33 ERA with a 39.6 percent strikeout rate and 5.2 percent walk rate. Marquez has been wowing with his velocity, and now he’s doing the same with the results.
   256. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 23, 2019 at 12:21 PM (#5873761)
An interesting note about that article is the coach who's molded him into a real prospect only joined the org last year and his first step was to undo all the changes his predecessors made to the kid's motion and get him back to square one.

I wonder if we'll ever know what was going on with pitching development in the first half decade of Theo's tenure. Did they try something experimental which failed? Did they hire conventionally incompetent people? Bad scouting? Bad luck?

EDIT: I wrote this before Moses put up the relevant excerpt.
   257. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 23, 2019 at 03:56 PM (#5873840)
So another pretty bad outing from Lester.
   258. Spahn Insane Posted: August 23, 2019 at 04:04 PM (#5873841)
And another (even worse) one from Strop.
   259. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 23, 2019 at 04:16 PM (#5873847)
Another time when the offense decides to not show up while the pitcher is also shitting the bed? Too familiar.

EDIT: Also, jumping the gun, but if the playoffs were starting now Strop likely isn't (shouldn't be) on the roster, and either Lester or Hamels is the 4th starter. I have more faith in Hamels at the moment, as Lester his ERA is 5.48 in his last 17 starts (and that'll go up after today), with him giving up at least 4ER in 8 of those.
   260. Brian C Posted: August 23, 2019 at 05:34 PM (#5873882)
Yeah Lester's been the weak link lately.

I feel like the Cubs generally struggle to score at home when the wind is blowing in, and that this has been true for a long time. I don't know if facts bear that out. But it sure seems like their hitters get more psyched out by the wind blowing in more than the pitchers get psyched out by the wind blowing out.
   261. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 23, 2019 at 05:42 PM (#5873888)
Another time when the offense decides to not show up while the pitcher is also shitting the bed? Too familiar.

Yeah, I can't even remember the last time they showed up to win a slugfest - OH WAIT - it happened two days ago.

Anyhow, is the offensive bedshitting on days when the team doesn't pitch well -- is that reality or is it perception?

Today was the 36th time in 128 games that the Cubs scored 0-2 runs in a game. They've allowed 8 or more runs in a game 21 times. Thus we should expect them to score 0-2 runs, 6 times in those poorly pitched games. In reality, they've scored 0-2 runs. ...7 times.

Lift it to 9 runs allowed (like they did today) .... Today was the 14th time they've allowed 9 runs or more. Should be four times where they score 0-2 runs. Today was the 6th time they've done it. So...that's a little over. (Then again, when Moses posted his comment, the team hadn't allowed 9 runs yet).

Anyhow, since I looked a bunch of stuff up, here's a data dump:

Here's how Cubs do when allowing various run totals:
0 runs allowed: They are 10-0, scoring 48 runs (4.8/g)
1 run allowed: They are 18-0, scoring 89 runs (4.94/g)
2 runs allowed: They are 8-4, scoring 47 runs (3.92/g)
3 runs allowed: They are 11-7, scoring 81 runs (4.50/g)
4 runs allowed: They are 6-3, scoring 63 runs (7.00/g)
5 runs allowed: They are 9-12, scoring 100 runs (4.76/g)
6 runs allowed: They are 3-11, scoring 74 runs (5.29/g)
7 runs allowed: They are 1-4, scoring 21 runs (4.20/g)
8 runs allowed: They are 0-4, scoring 17 runs (4.25/g)
10 runs allowed: They are 0-4, scoring 8 runs (2.00/g)
11 runs allowed: They are 1-3, scoring 27 runs (6.75/g)
More than that: They are 0-2, scoring 15 runs (7.50/g)

Adds up to 628 runs scored (4.91/g) and 563 allowed (4.40/g) - which is where they're at. So I did the math right!

Seven times they've lost a game by a score of 6-5.

I'd say their real problem is not scoring more often when the team allows 2-3 runs.


----

Here's the other end: How they do when scoring certain numbers of runs:
0 runs scored: 0-5, 38 runs allowed (7.60/g)
1 run scored: 1-11, 48 runs allowed (4.00/g)
2 runs scored: 7-12, 63 runs allowed (3.32/g)
3 runs scored: 4-8, 63 runs allowed (4.83/g)
4 runs scored: 8-8, 63 runs allowed (3.94/g)
5 runs scored: 7-9, 80 runs allowed (5.00/g) -- all those games lost 6-5
6 runs scored: 13-3, 71 runs allowed (4.44/g)
7 runs scored: 7-1, 29 runs allowed (4.14/g)
8 runs scored: 5-0, 17 runs allowed (3.40/g)
9 runs scored: 4-0, 20 runs allowed (5.00/g)
10 runs scored: 5-1, 30 runs allowed (3.00/g)
More runs scored: 9-0, 46 runs allowed (4.11/g)

So whenever they're shutout, it comes when the pitchers do poorly (6, 7, 8, 8, and 9 runs allowed in the five shutouts). But the team's runs allowed per game is better than normal in games where the offense scores 1 run, and the pitching has been great when the offense scores exactly two runs. (They've allowed more than five runs only twice in the 19 games the offense scored 2 runs).

   262. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 23, 2019 at 05:49 PM (#5873889)
Wait - the numbers are all off a bit from that last post. I missed the big 9th inning comeback. Add three runs to the Cubs offense and adjust stuff around as needed.

9 runs allowed: Oh, I left this out of the list altogether? Well, it should say:
9 runs allowed: 0-4, 20 runs scored (5.00/g - includes today's 3 runs)


0-4 when getting shutout (7.25 runs allowed/g)
4-9 when scoring 3 runs (5.53 runs allowed/g)


As for this:
Today was the 36th time in 128 games that the Cubs scored 0-2 runs in a game. They've allowed 8 or more runs in a game 21 times. Thus we should expect them to score 0-2 runs, 6 times in those poorly pitched games. In reality, they've scored 0-2 runs. ...7 times.

Well, they've not scored 0-2 runs six times in those six games.

Lift it to 9 runs allowed (like they did today) .... Today was the 14th time they've allowed 9 runs or more. Should be four times where they score 0-2 runs. Today was the 6th time they've done it. So...that's a little over.

Five times, due to the big rally.
   263. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 23, 2019 at 05:57 PM (#5873891)
Including today's game to Lester's his recent issues:

G: 18
GS: 18
IP: 99.2
H: 127
BB: 30
K: 95
R: 74
ER: 64
HBP: 4
HR: 19
TBF: 454

ERA: 5.78
RA/9: 6.68
WHIP: 1.575
BABIP*: .353
HR/9: 1.72/9IP

*(H-HR)/(TBF-HR-BB-K-HBP) - which I don't know if it's the official formula, but it's what I use.

Those 18 starts are also bookended by his two outings this year vs. DC.
   264. Walt Davis Posted: August 27, 2019 at 02:29 AM (#5874673)
We can quibble but I'll date the Yu Darvish (not as miraculous as we might like) miracle to May 15. Since then

Darvish: 107.2 IP, 132 K, 18 BB ... 22 HR, 4.10 ERA (just 2 UER)
Lester: 99.2 IP, 95 K, 30 BB, 19 HR, 5.78 ERA (and 6.68 RA thx to Dag)
Kyle: 93 IP, 91 K, 19 BB, 13 HR, 3.39 ERA (0 UER) -- but that's what he always does
Quintana: 100.1 IP, 88 K, 25 BB, 11 HR, 4.31 ERA (5 UER)

That's 92 BB in over 400 IP which is pretty staggering. It's also 65 HR so nearly 1.5/9; even Kyle is at 1.25 (not bad in today's game). It's also just over 9 K/9.

I'm always a bit fascinated by lines like Lester's. How can you K 9/9 and keep the walks down and get absolutely lit up? If the pitches are that easy to hit, how are you K'ing so many guys. It's probably not such a mystery -- Hottavy has gotten them to just pound the zone which was a lot more palatable in Fergie's day of 150-lb shortstops. Not that I'm complaining -- Hendricks is cruising, Yu's around a 110 ERA+, Q around 105 and, alas, Lester has turned into Dan Haren.

On the blowouts thing ... I suppose it's always the way but I think the perception may stem from those very early disasters that the starters have served up. Too many games when the Cubs are down by 7 before the catcher has had his first PA. Couple that with games like Hamels the other day where he's getting good results but the Cubs can't score ... it does seem a cycle of the pitching really doesn't show up or the offense really doesn't show up. That 7-5 loss almost felt like a victory.

Remaining schedule ... I think it will take some doing to play 500 the rest of the way.

Three at the Mets, three home to Brewers, 2 home to Seattle, day off. We'd better make hay but realistically I think it's hard to see better than 5-3.

day off ... for the arduous trip to Milwaukee ... then 18 straight games ...

4 at Milw
4 at SD with no day off before or after

I think 4-4 would be a minor miracle given how this team is playing on the road. 3-5 might be optimistic.

3 at home with Pitt (game at SD probably wraps up around 6:30-7 Eastern, back for a 3 pm start ... ugh)
3 at home with Cincy
4 at home with St L
day off

Again we have to win heavy at home but neither Cincy or St L is easy. Call it 6-4

Then 3 at Pitt and 3 at St L. We'd better win at least 2 of 3 at Pitt.

(Note, pretty much everybody has to play the same number of games in the same number of days so none of our competitors get much rest either. I don't know how many of them have to make a west coast swing with no days off though.)

Other grumblings: +58 run differential at the end of June, -5 since then. Of course it was +8 just a few days ago. At one point, we had 4 walk-off wins to one walk-off loss ... since then 2 walk-off wins and 7 walk-off losses. I know, it's still 6-8 on the season vs. an expected 7-7 but naturally we're wary in close games. In June, July, Aug, Javy has as many BB as he had in May alone. He seems in one of those ruts where he nicely lays off a pitch just outside the zone then swings at the next pitch 3 feet outside.

AAA report: Almora 6 for 31; Zo 2 for 16
SD report: Edwards 1.2 IP, 4 BB, 6 R (bummer)

One of the things I found difficult to understand in that PECOTA pre-season projection was that they projected the Cubs to something like -30 on defense which didn't make sense given the personnel and their history. By Rfield they are +20 ... which is basically the difference between the projection and the record. That is almost all Baez (+15).
   265. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 27, 2019 at 07:40 AM (#5874681)
Yeah, I can't even remember the last time they showed up to win a slugfest - OH WAIT - it happened two days ago.

Anyhow, is the offensive bedshitting on days when the team doesn't pitch well -- is that reality or is it perception?


That is obviously not what I meant - the idea that the Cubs aren't incapable of blowing people out. Or was I referring to a season (or longer) trend. I was specifically complaining about those games where the SP completely #### the bed and the offense just doesn't have anything, of which there's been too many lately. Friday should count, since all 3 runs were at the end. However, all the way back on the 15th of this month, I wrote:

The other problem, and the thing that prompted my comment about firing Maddon, was the 2nd blowout of the weekend; well, that's now 3 in the last 7 games (you can add another one on 8/1 against the Cards if you want). I get it that sometimes the SP just get rocked, but what really bugs me about all of those games is that that offense also completely no shows (anything they did offensively was late after the game was completely out of hand). It's a long season, again I get it, #### happens, and not every game is going to always be the best effort. But this often, this late in the year, during a close race? Unacceptable and infuriating.


If you count the Cards 8/1 game and Friday, that's 5 this month for a team fighting to make the playoffs. That's what's bugging me. And I highly doubt many good teams string together that many of those types of games this late in a year.

Having said that, I'm stubbornly optimistic and still think there's a better team in there somewhere. I think Walt is a little too pessimistic on his schedule stuff - maybe coming off the home sweep is the wrong time to say this, but they'll outperform his home predictions. I also think the road garbage is mostly fluky and the Cubs should play .500ish there. I'll finally concede 90 wins ain't happening.
   266. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 27, 2019 at 04:00 PM (#5874848)
Hamels to paternity list, Norwood recalled. Twitter says Hamels should still start this weekend.

Heyward
Castellanos
Bryant
Baez
Schwarber
Happ 1b
Caratini
Russell
Darvish

Happ looked pretty good at 1b Sunday, IMO. They were already hoping Rizzo's back would be fine to play tonight, so that's not particularly encouraging for him to be out again.
   267. Brian C Posted: August 27, 2019 at 09:54 PM (#5874948)
I'm always a bit fascinated by lines like Lester's. How can you K 9/9 and keep the walks down and get absolutely lit up? If the pitches are that easy to hit, how are you K'ing so many guys.

Part of the answer is that he's allowing a ton of baserunners, so his K% during that time (20.9%, better than he did last season but still well below the rest of the time he's been with the Cubs) isn't as impressive as his K/9 would suggest.

By comparison, Darvish has struck out over 30% of batters faced during that time. Even Hendo's at 21.4%.
   268. Walt Davis Posted: August 28, 2019 at 04:57 AM (#5874984)
#267 -- fair point, I do default to K/9 rather than % too often. Still, that K-rate seems to translate to about 8 K/9 under normal circumstances so it still fascinates me a bit.

I think Walt is a little too pessimistic on his schedule stuff - maybe coming off the home sweep is the wrong time to say this, but they'll outperform his home predictions. I also think the road garbage is mostly fluky and the Cubs should play .500ish there.

No particular disagreement as I think the road stuff has been mostly fluky too. But, until that sweep, the home stuff was looking kinda fluky. Since the end of May and including Mets' game 1, they're 39-37 with a +14 run differential. That's all consistent with a 500ish team and a 500ish team is (I'm guessing) probably usually something like 55-60% wins at home and 40-45% on the road. It's a reasonably tough schedule they've got left with an extra game on the road. It is pretty much in our hands with 13 games against the Cards and Brewers.

Note, I'm not sure there's much reason to expect the Brewers, Cards, Mets, etc. to play better than 500 ball down the stretch either so this is hardly damning for the Cubs. I'd just rather not go through last year's finish again. I'm all in favor of winning at least 5 of the next 7 games so we might have a bit of a cushion before hitting the road again.

And it's probably just my imagination or left-over dread from 84 but I can't remember the last time the Cubs went to SD and played well. (But b-r tells me they are 10-6 there over the last few years.)
   269. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 28, 2019 at 04:58 AM (#5874985)
Darvish finally threw a walk last night. Of course, he also walked (2nd walk since he stopped walking guys), so it all evens out.

I hadn't realized Javy hadn't homered since his 2 HR game against the A's (8/5). He had his 3rd walk in his last 7 games yesterday too.

Castellanos is starting to look more like the bad RF he apparently is, but I still wouldn't call him a disaster out there. He also is no longer on pace for 25 HRs with the Cubs.

Happ sure cooled off quickly, didn't he?
   270. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 28, 2019 at 05:01 AM (#5874986)
Jaffe/FG on the Cubs road problems, covering stuff I've talked about it a more formal and complete manner.
   271. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 28, 2019 at 04:43 PM (#5875149)
Happ sure cooled off quickly, didn't he?


Just something about Happ I don't really like in general. Seems like a fine fella, but he's one of the last guys I wanna see up in a key moment.
   272. Zonk Rocks You Like a Sharpiecane Posted: August 28, 2019 at 04:58 PM (#5875150)
Since everybody knows how enamored I get with switch-hitters who can play multiple positions and run a bit.... just want to say that it still breaks my heart that Happ isn't what I hoped he would be (i.e., Zobrist Jr).
   273. Red Voodooin Posted: August 28, 2019 at 09:23 PM (#5875195)
It's worth noting that Happ is still several years younger than Zobrist was when he turned intoBen Zobrist.
   274. Zonk Rocks You Like a Sharpiecane Posted: August 28, 2019 at 10:32 PM (#5875215)
You’re such a sweetheart, rv.... now tell me that schwarbs can still be Jim Thome and I’ll put you on my “sure, he was with me... doing whatever he said we doing” list.
   275. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 28, 2019 at 10:50 PM (#5875227)
Cubs got swept at home and are now poised to sweep on the road. Up is down, black is white, etc.
   276. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 29, 2019 at 03:37 AM (#5875247)
Cubs got swept at home and are now poised to sweep on the road. Up is down, black is white, etc.

Cubs are currently on a 4 game winning streak on the road, and a 3 game losing streak at home.

Road Hendricks showed up again yesterday, it would appear. Not including last night (as bref hasn't updated yet), he's got a 1.79ERA, 6.09k/bb, 0.72HR/9 at home and a 4.76ERA, 3.24k/bb, 1.46HR/9 on the road. I could do the math, but all of those road numbers got worse based on yesterday's performance (unrelated, but that's the type of game I don't miss when I can't watch while in Europe).

They were already hoping Rizzo's back would be fine to play [Monday], so that's not particularly encouraging for him to be out again.
Jordan Bastian @MLBastian

Anthony Rizzo says he’s going to take some swings today to test his back. Doesn’t think he’ll be back in lineup on Thursday.


I know it's his back, and he's had problems before, but here goes the Cubs again and their moving targets with injuries (it probably isn't that different with other teams, but I don't follow closely enough to know); then again, it's not like the fact that Rizzo has recurring back stuff isn't worrying on its own.

Jordan Bastian @MLBastian

Maddon said Contreras is "trending really well." No announced date for Minor League rehab, but this weekend or early next week is possible.


IOW, I'm not holding my breath here on whether he makes it on time back (which this soon rehab would be for his initial 4-6 diagnosis).

---

Jordan Bastian @MLBastian

Javier Baez leads the Majors with 14 opposite-field home runs this season. Kyle Schwarber is now right behind him with 13.

Schwarber had 10 oppo blasts in the 2017-18 seasons combined.


He also linked to this, where the Cubs lead all of baseball in oppo HRs (that doesn't include last night's).
   277. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 29, 2019 at 03:58 AM (#5875248)
I'm not totally ready to start talking about this offseason yet, since so much is yet to happen so it'd be foolish to assume too much, but...

Passan has some thoughts/rumors/etc:
Oh, and a number of executives are expecting monster names to be in trade talks.
...
Bryant is the wild card. A not-uncommon feeling inside the Cubs organization is the need for a big shake-up. Perhaps Maddon leaving would provide that. The sentiment among some extends to the players too. And with Javier Baez a reasonable bet to stick around -- more on that later -- and Bryant a Boras client more prone to testing free agency, the Cubs may see him as a combination of Betts and Lindor: a star with two years of control primed to hold out for free agency but capable beforehand of enriching a farm system in desperate need of help after years of dealing away its most valuable pieces.
...
Let's start with Cubs shortstop Javier Baez. There has been momentum in the past to keep Baez, 26, in a Cubs uniform well into his 30s. With Baez two years from free agency, it's the sort of deal that makes a lot of sense.


So, I do think it's much more likely Javy signs a pre-FA extension, and probably that deal would be less overall than Bryant's would be. Rendon is the big position player FA, and the Cubs have talked up spending a bunch when their network happens (and either him or Cole are the guys that look the most likely to be worth what they're paid), so I could imagine a scenario where the Cubs feel like it's worth going from Bryant to Rendon and using Bryant to get more young/cheap talent. They'd be locking up that position for longer, and would make 2021 feel a lot less like the end of this run (even moreso if they could extend Javy, and Rizzo*); I guess it's debatable who's really better - Rendon is 2 years older, and has been better this year/last (last being unfair to Bryant with his injuries) but Bryant has already had more 6+bWAR seasons (Rendon does have a 5.9 and will be 6+ this year; Bryant has the only 7+ during his MVP season). Rendon rates as a better defender (I didn't look at every metric), but Bryant is more versatile**. Rendon is a different type of hitter - much more contact so that's led to higher BA (recently) and fewer Ks - the Cubs might feel Rendon is a better fit around the rest of the offense. Also, whether it matters or not, there might be pressure again to make a big FA signing after everything that happened last offseason. Of course, the most likely scenario is Rendon gets more elsewhere anyway, but I guess it's a fascinating idea.

*Both Rizzo and Javy have talked quite a bit about being Cubs for a long time/their whole career - including this season - while that's something that's not been totally true with Bryant.
**If Maddon isn't back, that might not matter as much. There's also an argument you can sign Rendon and keep Bryant - just put him in an OF corner and leave him alone.
   278. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 29, 2019 at 10:19 AM (#5875272)
while that's something that's not been totally true with Bryant.

I think service time games crippled Chicago's chances of re-signing him. When it comes to a trade the Cubs should worry that Boras is going to wave the bloody shirt about the potential grievance in Bryant's back pocket.

Nobody wants to trade for him and then go through that process to ensure they're getting two years instead of one (even if the odds are stacked against Bryant there).
   279. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 29, 2019 at 11:30 AM (#5875300)
When it comes to a trade the Cubs should worry that Boras is going to wave the bloody shirt about the potential grievance in Bryant's back pocket.
There has to be some sort of statute of limitations-like provision on grievances, right? If Boras was going to file a grievance about the Bryant situation, he should have done so years ago.
   280. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 29, 2019 at 12:38 PM (#5875324)
Yeah, I don't think there's really anything he can do that wouldn't or shouldn't have been settled by now. There's been a few more situations since then that have also gotten attention. There has to be a reason we haven't heard anything more about that grievance. Obviously I'm just guessing.
   281. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 29, 2019 at 12:52 PM (#5875327)
I know it's his back, and he's had problems before, but here goes the Cubs again and their moving targets with injuries (it probably isn't that different with other teams, but I don't follow closely enough to know); then again, it's not like the fact that Rizzo has recurring back stuff isn't worrying on its own.


I get why they do it, but return dates for injured key players seem like something you'd want to undersell and over-deliver on. Target return dates coming and going with the player on the shelf still eventually creates an atmosphere of distrust for the fans.
   282. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 29, 2019 at 12:53 PM (#5875328)
return dates for injured key players seem like something you'd want to undersell and over-deliver on
"Good luck with that." -- B. Morrow
   283. Zonk Rocks You Like a Sharpiecane Posted: August 29, 2019 at 02:54 PM (#5875365)
I find the need to "shake things up" with some kind of big deal to be utterly dumb... Maybe it's the holiday weekend that has brightened me to sunny optimist -- but though this isn't the 2016 team anymore, there's still no reason beyond wanderlust to think about trading any of the foundations.

It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to just hang onto Bryant, keep attempting/attempt to resign him, and if he goes elsewhere, just pocket a draft pick (just draft better!).

We no longer have anything approaching a "Where will they all play in the IF?" problem anymore. Fine to hope Hoerner slots in 2B in a year or two, but David Bote has sort of shown that he's nice spare part - but not someone you turn 3B over to on a full-time basis.

...if the prospect hoarder thinks it's a bad idea to trade Bryant to replenish the farm - then let's face it.... it's a bad idea to trade Bryant to replenish the farm.

Getting back to 2016 levels really just requires better FA pitching signings.... or maybe start developing some.
   284. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 29, 2019 at 03:57 PM (#5875389)
Tonight's Cubs 9...

1. Heyward CF
2. Castellanos RF
3. Bryant 3B
4. Baez SS
5. Caratini 1B
6. Russell 2B
7. Kemp LF
8. Lucroy C
9. Lester SP


Against deGrom. Oy vey.
   285. Brian C Posted: August 29, 2019 at 10:24 PM (#5875463)
What a pleasant surprise of a win tonight. Good-enough Lester showed up, the bullpen locked things down, and Caratini of all people went off on DeGrom while filling in for Rizzo. I feel like they could have lost 5-1 tonight and I would have ... well, not been happy about it obviously, but I'd have understood and shrugged it off. But instead this happened. Baseball is just a cool game.

Regarding Rizzo, I understand why the shifting timelines are frustrating, but in this case it makes sense to me. Backs are unpredictable, and I don't see any reason to take this as a sign that they're hiding anything. If it turns out he has major back surgery in three weeks and we hear stories about how he couldn't even get out of bed, that'll be a different story, but we've been through this before with Rizzo and I don't see any reason at present to think things aren't on the up and up. Sometimes these things legitimately are day-to-day.

In other words, this doesn't feel like the whole Kris Bryant "he's definitely healthy, happy, and alive" routine from a couple years back.
   286. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 30, 2019 at 03:58 AM (#5875493)
Sure, but there's still a difference between "day to day" and "we expect him to play tomorrow". I understand you can't predict how the guy will feel the next day, and backs are tricky. However, the Cubs's default is the 2nd one, which they then repeat multiple days in a row. It just sounds worse when you say this:

Jordan Bastian @MLBastian Aug 25

Cubs moves:

• Bote recalled from AAA Iowa
• Holland to 10-day IL with left wrist contusion (hit by comebacker Wed vs SF)
• Hope is with off-day Monday Rizzo might be good to go Tuesday in NY

Jordan Bastian @MLBastian Aug 27

Notes from Theo:

• Zobrist facing live pitching while at home in Nashville. No more Minor games scheduled. On target for 9/1 return
• Contreras catching Lester bullpen today. No rehab games scheduled yet.
• Rizzo like out couple days. Thurs return most likely of games in NYM

Jordan Bastian @MLBastian Aug 29

Maddon said he “would be suprised” if Rizzo (back) is able to return to lineup for Friday’s day game in Chicago.


Just say "day to day".

---

Contreras will have a rehab assignment in AAA today. That's good.

---

“I’m not as worried about this as some other people may be worried,” Maddon said. “We have different candidates. We don’t have the prototypical guy. I will probably maneuver it a little bit more [after rosters expand], but for right now, I’m not running away from Jason.”

Before the role change, Heyward had a 37.7% pull rate, 40.2% up-the-middle rate and 22.1% oppo rate, with a 44.6% ground-ball rate. Heading into Thursday, he had a 48.5% pull rate, 32.4% middle rate and 19.1 oppo rate, plus a 55.2% grounder rate, going back to July 31.

Some of that has to do with the fact that pitchers have increasingly focused on attacking Heyward inside since he moved to the top.

Heyward went 0-for-13 at the top during the three-game sweep of the Mets, dropping his slash line to .176/.292/.341 dating back to July 31. In his 30 starts as the leadoff hitter, he’s hit .158/.257/.325.

But, BUT! The Cubs swept the Mets and Chicago now has a 21–9 record when Heyward starts in the №1 slot of the batting order. Yes, they’ve won despite Heyward’s poor offensive production, but know that — whether you like it or not — all those other intangible things are important to Maddon.

“We don’t have the prototypical guy, so it’s hard to just maneuver this around and say, ‘OK, it’s your turn to be leadoff,’” Maddon said. “I’m telling you, presence matters. … I believe in that. I believe in his presence on our team, his leadership.”


It's worth clicking on the link to see some of those charts. Some of Maddon's stubborness here surely is him sticking up for his guy publicly, and some is because other options aren't great either. I still don't like hearing him spot dumb platitudes like that though.

Regardless, that was a great sweep and bounceback after the Nats series. Let's see how they look Friday after having to play a night game in NY and a day game at home today (I though the schedule mostly tried to get rid of those); Brewers arrived on Thursday.
   287. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 30, 2019 at 11:42 AM (#5875594)
Happ CF
Castellanos
Caratini 1b
Baez
Schwarber
Russell
Lucroy
Bote 3b
Quintana

Oh boy. If Bryant needs a day off, he needs a day off, but man it sucks to do it against the Brewers this time of year. Also, this is day 6 of Rizzo not playing and really makes you wonder if they shouldn't have just bitten the bullet and put him on the IL* so the bench wouldn't be so damn short (well, it's already short, but it's shorter than it needs to be). Heyward probably was overdue for a day off, too, and that's one way to get him out of the leadoff spot.

Hamels back from paternity, Norwood back down.

*Although with the options only being Zagunis and Garcia, I can understand there's no one really pushing to be here (though I still obviously root for Garcia and surely both will be back with the extended rosters).
   288. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 30, 2019 at 12:04 PM (#5875609)
It amuses me that, after the exchange on page 2 of this thread, the team providing the Cubs with the wildly improbable road sweep was the Mets.
   289. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 30, 2019 at 01:02 PM (#5875634)
I didn't realize Milwaukee had fallen so far off the pace, but I guess St. Louis becoming unbeatable again hasn't helped that.

Anyway, I believe it was Labor Day last year when the Cubs started their really wobbly month of having a tenuous grasp on first place. It'd be really nice to see them stamp out a couple of wins this weekend and really put the pressure on the Brewers going forward.
   290. John DiFool2 Posted: August 30, 2019 at 06:02 PM (#5875767)
Had to LOL at how they pitched to Castellanos today.

1st HR, pitch is up and in, deposited into LC bleachers.

2nd HR, catcher sets up in the EXACTLY same spot, pitch is delivered to yes the exact same spot--and gone again.

You might want to try throwing it somewhere else.

   291. Walt Davis Posted: August 31, 2019 at 01:55 AM (#5875850)
Yeah, I don't think there's really anything he can do that wouldn't or shouldn't have been settled by now. There's been a few more situations since then that have also gotten attention. There has to be a reason we haven't heard anything more about that grievance. Obviously I'm just guessing.

The last few union grievances have (seemingly) been settled during CBA negotiations rather than official grievances. I think it was three agreements ago where all those OF who somehow all got $3 M offers received a payout. And I think it was two rounds ago that resulted in (short-lived) pressure on the cheap teams to up payroll. The union might be waiting for a pool to make it easier to say "c'mon, this is out of hand." But I kinda thought that might happen in the most recent one and will agree that at this point, it might at most amount to a few million extra dollars in these guys pockets and a new set of rules but there's no way anybody's getting an early FA.

On the offseason ... my 6th sense is that, barring a deep playoff run, the FO does want to shake things up. I'm just not sure how. The Bryant-Rendon swap seems like a tough maneuver to pull off. You'd have to move Bryant early -- if you signed Rendon then tried to trade him, you'll get crappy offers because you "have to" move him. But if you trade him early, you're taking a big risk that you will sign Rendon ... and Rendon's agent will know how desparate you are to sign him.

More likely might be Rizzo although that creates some similar issues. He is turning 30, you probably don't want to extend him for ages 32-34 (obviously there are prices at which that's attractive), you could then sign Rendon and move Bryant to 1B ... or at least have that as an option in negotiations with Rendon or with other teams about Bryant.

If he stays anywhere near this hot, I could see re-signing Castellanos and trading Schwarber. Castellanos is exactly 1 year and 1 day older than Schwarber, a better/more consistent hitter and probably not much worse as a LF. He is a Boras client so maybe not but I'm not expecting him to get huge offers. Alas, I doubt we can get much for Schwarber at this point. Castellanos, Rendon, Bryant, Baez, Willson would be an insanely RHB-heavy lineup so I doubt we'll see all 5 of them.

I suppose Q is a possibility but it doesn't make sense because they need some SP and they're not going to find anything better at that price. Cole is the obvious FA -- he's looking very Scherzer-y -- but (guess the agent) he's gonna cost a ton. I suppose if they do sign him then Q is a goner.

I can imagine some smaller moves that might count as "big moves" in the media or among fans. Schwarber might be gone regardless. I'm sure they'll try to trade Russell. Happ could move, I don't know if they can find a taker but eating 50%+ of Heyward's salary could happen. I suspect Theo/Jed are too "loyal" to Lester to eat salary to trade him (and of course he's been solid overall and might well not be any worse than a reasonable 5th starter next year).

The silver lining to Zonk's dark cloud is that at least none of our prospects are doing well enough that we can foolishly trade him away for a reliever. Anyway ...

100% Safe: Hendricks, Baez
Safe because nobody wants their contracts: Heyward, Yu, Kimbrel, Chatwood**
98.4% safe: Willson
96.8% safe: Q
Very safe: Bryant, Rizzo, Bote, Lester
Concern: Cishek, Kintzler and Strop are all FAs with little on the farm to replace them. (It's also $18 M coming off the books but let's start putting together our reliever shopping list.)

** As nearly always, if you eat enough salary, you can move them for nothing. I could see some tanking team rolling the dice on Chatwood at a price of $4-5 M with nothing of note coming back our way.
   292. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 31, 2019 at 01:55 PM (#5875933)
This could change when the production eventually declines, but I would really be bummed if Rizzo isn't a guy who spends most, if not all of his career as a Cub.
   293. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 01, 2019 at 11:11 AM (#5876082)
I have some thoughts and responses to your post, Walt, but easier when I'm at work Tuesday. In the meantime

Daniel Descalso, Albert Almora Jr., Taylor Davis, Robel Garcia, Duane Underwood, Alec Mills, Brad Wieck all added to active roster. Roster now at 33. #Cubs

Zobrist was added yesterday, with Bote going down. He had to be on roster by yesterday since he doesn't have options. I'm sure Bote will be back as soon as he can.

Yu Darvish will not start today with right forearm tightness. Tyler Chatwood will start today. He is expexted to miss just one start. Been dealing with it for about a month. #Cubs


Well that's discouraging.

Baez
Castellanos
Bryant
Caratini 1b
Lucroy
Almora
Russell
Happ
Chatwood

Hmmm
Anthony Rizzo is ok. Plan was start one then take one off etc. no setback

I'm skeptical.
   294. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: September 01, 2019 at 05:41 PM (#5876190)
Barring a pretty epic comeback, the Cubs will have missed a nice chance to more or less make it a two-team race in the NL Central this weekend. They're looking at back-to-back shutouts, at home, no less.
   295. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 03, 2019 at 01:32 PM (#5876455)
Maddon just said Zobrist is starting and hitting leadoff tonight, and that Contreras is back and will play. That 2nd part is a surprise, and even though Caratini did admirable in his absence (and Lucruy unsurprisingly didn't), it's great to have him back. And Javy out again.

Going back a couple games, it is really that surprising that lineup Maddon threw up on Sunday got shut out? Considering Rizzo pinch hit and stayed in the game, I really do wonder if this planned day off was really something the training staff pushed for or if it was just Maddon's idea and weird cover for something like Rizzo's poor history against Gonzalez (or, the opposite I guess is worse - Maddon overruling a training staff rest decision). Saturday, the Cubs hit the ball hard and just got unlucky, but Sunday they were just pathetic. Yesterday, they were hitting the ball hard again and finally got lucky with Schwarber's triple. For the life of me, I just don't understand this offense and the inconsistencies. On the other hand, I know I focus too much on the lineup stuff but Maddon just is out there this year and lately.
   296. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 03, 2019 at 01:47 PM (#5876457)
The Bryant-Rendon swap seems like a tough maneuver to pull off. You'd have to move Bryant early -- if you signed Rendon then tried to trade him, you'll get crappy offers because you "have to" move him. But if you trade him early, you're taking a big risk that you will sign Rendon ... and Rendon's agent will know how desparate you are to sign him.

I think the idea that teams will lowball the Cubs on Bryant if they have already signed Rendon a little overstated. For one, it's Bryant and guys like him aren't available that often. But the Cubs can very seriously say they're going to move Bryant to the OF full time (which is more credible and realistic than 1b, IMO).

Considering you hinted at Boras in the Castellanos piece, it's worth nothing he's also Bryant's (obviously) and Rendon's agent too. The Cubs do seem to have a good relationship with him - that doesn't mean I'm implying it would help them get Rendon or keep Castellanos, but I think it would mean that if the Cubs went down this (again, for the record, I think very unlikely) path that it would be a scenario that would be in everyone's best interest to work together so everyone benefits.

If he stays anywhere near this hot, I could see re-signing Castellanos and trading Schwarber. Castellanos is exactly 1 year and 1 day older than Schwarber, a better/more consistent hitter and probably not much worse as a LF. He is a Boras client so maybe not but I'm not expecting him to get huge offers. Alas, I doubt we can get much for Schwarber at this point. Castellanos, Rendon, Bryant, Baez, Willson would be an insanely RHB-heavy lineup so I doubt we'll see all 5 of them.

What type of offer is Castellanos going to get? He's not going to get JD Martinez's deal (not as good of a hitter), he's not going to get Lorenzo Cain's (though younger, he's nowhere near Cain's league in defense or overall value). Somewhere between Pollock (5/60) and McCutcheon (3/50) or a hybrid of the 2 (5/83)? I have a hard time seeing him having that strong of a market, even with the rest of the FA class being so weak. I agree resigning him would be the end of Schwarber here (and that would damper Schwarb's trade value; though like you said, it ain't much to begin with). I know I'm being influenced by how he's doing now, but there's something to be said for how he's fit in here so far. Also, I don't think Rizzo getting moved is in the cards anytime soon, but yeah, they could use another regular hitting lefty besides Rizzo and Heyward.

The silver lining to Zonk's dark cloud is that at least none of our prospects are doing well enough that we can foolishly trade him away for a reliever.

Maybe I'm reading too much Cubs-centric prospect stuff, but I bet the Cubs have 4 guys as consensus top 100 this offseason - Hoerner, Amaya, Marquez, and Davis. Maybe none of top 20 types, though Marquez and Davis are young enough they could shoot up those lists quickly.

   297. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 03, 2019 at 04:17 PM (#5876504)
Zobrist
Castellanos
Rizzo
Bryant
Schwarber
Contreras
Heyward
Russell
Lester

I like. When Javy comes back, he slides into the 5th spot and the next 3 slide down and it's a pretty dang good lineup (assuming Zobrist's bat isn't as dead as his old walkup music).
   298. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 03, 2019 at 06:02 PM (#5876524)
Well, Bryant scratched:

Zobrist
Schwarber
Castellanos
Rizzo
Contreras
Happ 3b!!!
Heyward
Russell
Lester

Happ is a much better 2b than 3b, so that could be interesting. The Mariners have a bunch of fast guys who can't hit, so I bet they can bunt and they should be trying to bunt down the 3b line the entire game with the Happ/Lester combo.

Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma

Maddon mentioned his knee in passing when giving KB a day off last Friday. He's slashing .227/.298/.375 since being removed from a game in SF with the knee on July 24.


So is Bryant more prone to getting hurt or is he just too stubborn to admit when he's hurt or is this all just a coincidence? He's had some really godawful ABs the last week or so.
   299. Brian C Posted: September 04, 2019 at 12:31 AM (#5876634)
Cubs trolled John Lackey on the LF video board when the game ended tonight, congratulating Lester "for passing John Lackey in career wins."

Then it switched to another screen with a career comparison:

Wins: Lester 189, Lackey 188
World Series: Lester 3, Lackey 3
Strikeouts: Lester 2337, Lackey 2294
RBI: Lester 23, Lackey 8
HR: Lester 3, Lackey 0

Not sure what brought that on, but I thought it was hilarious.
   300. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 04, 2019 at 09:39 AM (#5876668)
Ha. I approve. I think Lackey was at Lester's last start in NY.
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