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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Monday, May 06, 2019

That was fun

The first road trip of the season feels so long ago now, doesn’t it?  Coming into the season I was on the more optimistic side of people around here; I still overreacted a little to that piss poor start.  As plenty of people have said, teams are never as bad as they look at their worst or as good as they do at their best.  However, I see no reason to think the Cubs aren’t much more likely really this good - well, not .800 win percentage good, but 95 wins good.  The Cubs have the best run differential (and best on a per game basis by a nice margin); they’re just 0.01 r/g behind TEX for the ML lead (5.9 r/g), and are all the way back up to 3rd in the NL in ra/g (4.26, but it’s 2.77 since that 9 game opening trip). 

There obviously is plenty of offensive regression coming - Contreras, Heyward, and Bote are the obvious candidates, not to mention the utter unpredictability of the entire bullpen.  Javy is a different story, and I’m not going to even begin to try and predict what’s gong to happen with him; he has clearly made improvements yet again from last year (going the other way a ton more), but he’s basically a baseball wizard so he can just do whatever he wants I guess.  Rizzo has rebounded nicely (.340/.438/.774 last 14 games), Bryant’s also rebounding - though more quietly (.277/.444/.596 last 14), and even Schwarber looks better if you cherry pick enough (.320/.419/.560 last 9). 

On the pitching side, only Lester appears to be significantly out-pitching his FIP, but as I mentioned in a comment in the last thread his peripherals are much closer to his good 2016 than his luckier 2018.  Hamels and Quintana appear to be back to the solid, reliable selves and good for Pops giving Hendricks his vote of absolute confidence right before Kyle threw his Maddux.  Darvish continues to be absolutely maddening (is it me, or is he going really out of his way to try and completely avoid all contact?), but the stuff appears to be there - unlike last year, where it seemed like he never had it.  IOW, I think it might be mental with him, and I think the Cubs absolutely should be doing everything they can to try and straighten him out, as he has an upside none of the other SP options can touch.  I saw some conversation in the game chatter yesterday about either a 6 man rotation (wouldn’t be the worst idea, though no one has said anything about it yet) or either Chatwood or Montgomery taking his spot.  First off, I think the Chatwood suggestion is ludicrous; he’s closer to being just released than given a rotation spot again IMO (I’m not completely opposed to a spot start against the right opponent).  Montgomery is just a guy, and I’d only put him in over Darvish if Yu was hurt or completely worthless (and he’s not close to that yet; again, a spot start or 2 is fine).  I’ll be happy to change my mind if Davish doesn’t show any signs over improvement over the next 4-6 weeks. 

The bullpen has once again been a surprising strength.  Almost everyone has had a blowup or two, but everyone’s overall numbers look pretty good which means that they’ve been really good outside of the obvious hiccups.  Kyle Ryan is really flying under the radar, but he looks like he’s solidified a spot in the pen for the rest of the year to me; he’s not just a LOOGY either.  Strop is basically a metronome at this point, one that is consistently underappreciated.  Brach is another version of Cishek, and both have been solid.  Kintzler has bounced back nicely, and I’m inclined to believe what he’s doing is “real” as his bad stretch last year is really the outlier.  I’ll continue to dream on Maples, while also accepting it’s probably a long shot if we ever see Morrow in a Cubs uniform again. 

This team is the 2016 team, and isn’t approaching that level of domination.  But today, you can make a strong argument that the Cubs are in the discussion for the best team in baseball.  That’s about all you can really ask for, and so I’m going to enjoy this ride while it lasts. 

Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 06, 2019 at 10:11 AM | 126 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 06, 2019 at 10:49 AM (#5838739)
I'm not trying to call anyone out on the Chatwood thing, btw. I just can't fathom preferring him to, well, anyone.
   2. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 06, 2019 at 10:51 AM (#5838742)
   3. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 06, 2019 at 10:58 AM (#5838743)
This is a much better, professional version of my post (if you have Athletic).
   4. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: May 06, 2019 at 11:17 AM (#5838749)
As others mentioned, it's astonishing how differently the team has played since the awful start. We knew it couldn't stay that bad, but with the way both St. Louis and Milwaukee started, things had the possibility of getting out of hand quickly.

It's pretty crazy that a team that started out 1-6 now has the second best record and the best run differential in all of baseball. Granted it's not even mid-May, but it's been fun.
   5. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 06, 2019 at 11:20 AM (#5838751)
Jordan Bastian @MLBastian 13h13 hours ago

Cubs 13, Cards 5

Maddon: "Whenever I've been with a team that's gotten in a hole, I've always thought about one game a week. Try to pick up one a week. Then you get back to normalcy."

April 6: 5.5 GB (1-6)
April 13: 3.5 GB
April 20: 2.5 GB
April 27: 2.5 GB
Today: 0.0 GB (19-12)
   6. Brian C Posted: May 06, 2019 at 11:58 AM (#5838764)
I think the turnaround has really shown Maddon's strengths as a manager. I and everyone else knows that rationally, 1-6 to start the year isn't any different than 1-6 in early August. But it sure feels different and it sure gains a lot more attention when it's to start the year, and I don't doubt that the players feel a lot more pressure than during a mid-season funk. Sometimes Maddon is thought to be just a little too easygoing and a little too hands-off, but I think his approach is much more productive when a team's under fire than the more redass types. Sometimes you just need someone with authority in the room telling you to relax and stay the course.

Also, he and Hottovy have really figured out this bullpen after a bunch of head-scratching moves the first two weeks. Granted, their job has been relatively easy with the starters going deep into games and a ton of off-days. Still, though, this is a very unintimidating bullpen full of spare parts, and after some tinkering they've been really good. Although I hadn't noticed until just now how many guys Brach has walked. Yikes.

The starters have really gotten the walks under control, though. Lester and Quintana are both down almost a full walk per nine, and Hendricks is right at his usual rate after some issues early in the year (and early last year). Lester is overperforming his FIP, but his FIP is still really good (3.38), so even if he regresses towards that, he'll still be racking up wins.

Really not much to complain about, which I guess is obvious after a 16-4 stretch. They're on a 99-win pace. As long as the offense stays this productive - and they were productive even during the first road trip - then the pitching staff can slide a little bit and this team will still be really good.
   7. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 06, 2019 at 02:33 PM (#5838835)
I'm not trying to call anyone out on the Chatwood thing, btw. I just can't fathom preferring him to, well, anyone.


It's okay. It was me. Obviously, Darvish has the most upside of any Cubs starter. And with the way the offense and the rest of the Cubs' pitching staff is going, they can definitely afford to keep throwing him out there in the hopes that it clicks. And I'm completely fine with them continuing to do that as long as they think it makes sense. But as I said in the Chatter, at some point a 5 ERA is a 5 ERA, and the Cubs have options that can do better than that.

And as for Chatwood, if you're going to point to Darvish's pre-Cubs career as evidence that he's really a good pitcher going through a funk (and it's entirely reasonable for you to do so), I think it's only fair to do the same with Chatwood, who put up a 114 ERA+ in five years in Colorado (and has a 109 ERA+ this season) and is still only 29 years old.
   8. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 06, 2019 at 03:03 PM (#5838847)
Well, last year I think it's fair to point out Darvish was hurt, likely the entire time. This year I might call it more than a funk, but it's not like last year Chatwood (or frankly, even this year) is better. IOW, IMO it's a lot easier to look at Darvish as incomplete to failing while Chatwood is already clearly a failure. Hurt Darvish last year was still better than Chatwood. Darvish's ridiculous BB rate this year still isn't as bad as Chatwood's was last year.

Chatwood's FIP is 6.08, so no, he isn't a guy that's an option that will do better than a 5 ERA; Darvish is 6.82, so it's not like it's asking a lot to do better. Either you're putting an absurd amount of confidence on Chatwood's one fluke start this year or you just don't remember how terrible he's been. That current 4.11 ERA Chatwood is sporting right now is a total and utter fluke.
   9. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 06, 2019 at 03:29 PM (#5838859)
That current 4.11 ERA Chatwood is sporting right now is a total and utter fluke.


His ERA in his five years as a Rockie was 4.18.
   10. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 06, 2019 at 03:53 PM (#5838868)
And Darvish's was 3.30 in his 5 years as a Ranger. I don't understand what you're trying to get at, as a look at any other stat from this year proves Chatwood's been terrible this year too and quite lucky his ERA is still that low. But I'm not making that argument for Darvish over Chatwood. Even if I was, that's still not a point in Chatwood's favor or a reason to think he'll be better than Darvish this year.

Since the beginning of the year, my opinion of Darvish has greatly diminished, plus I now absolutely hate watching him pitch. I'm not arguing anything beyond the fact that Chatwood is not a better option than Darvish, today, based on both of their tenures as Cubs. I haven't brought up his pre-Cubs career until this comment right now, and I don't see what it has to do with Chatwood at all, since Chatwood has never been better than Darvish, up to, and including, today.

I don't see a lot of reason to be optimistic about Darvish, but his K rate has stayed high and his velocity and stuff both appear to be there. I see zero reasons to be optimistic about Chatwood.

As for Montgomery instead of Darvish, meh. If Darvish needs to go on the IL, I'd rather see Montgomery in the rotation than Darvish. I'd hope there's a better option in AAA, honestly, but can't say for sure if there is. I think Darvish is probably getting closer to maybe being thought about being bumped from the rotation. That'll open up add'l issues - like a contending bullpen can't carry both Chatwood and unstartable Darvish, but that's a bridge they'll have to cross when they get there.
   11. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 06, 2019 at 05:11 PM (#5838893)
Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma 31m31 minutes ago

Carl Edwards, Jr is back up, Maples down to Iowa. Victor Caratini will start a rehab assignment in South Bend tonight.


Hmmm, didn't see that coming this quickly. There's no reason not to bring some of these guys up and send em back down as needed. I don't know if they can really do that with CJ though, I think if he's back the expectation is that he's back for good. Regardless, I hope he's figured things out.

I know they'd have to lose Webster if he was sent down, but I honestly might prefer Maples to him. Montgomery is going to be back soon, not sure who goes down for him now (unless they start playing the IL game).
   12. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 06, 2019 at 08:28 PM (#5838936)
The last couple of weeks they've been pretty 2016-y. You can't judge a team entirely based on their best or worst two-week spurts, but overall I am much more optimistic about this team than I was a month ago.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: May 07, 2019 at 01:16 AM (#5839063)
Time to brush this one off:

Javy ages 23-26 (so far)
273/314/423, 94 OPS+, 14 HR
273/317/480, 102, 23
290/326/554, 128, 34
316/350/654, 154, 11 (50+ pace)
Total: 283/322/507, 114, 82 ... 26/5 K%/BB% ... 15.2% HR/FB

Sosa ages 23-26
260/317/393, 98, 8 (just 291 PA)
261/309/485, 112, 33
300/339/545, 127, 25 (strike year)
268/340/500, 122, 36 (shortened year)
Total: 272/327/490, 117, 102 (with 300 more PA) ... 21/7 K/BB ... 14.8% HR/FB

Sure, striking out more and even walking less than Sosa takes some doing but good defensive 2B/SS with those numbers compared with good defensive RF and it's 5.5 WAR per 650 for Javy vs 4.5 for Sammy.

Sosa had a lousy year in 97 then the big magic started happening ... but the first 3 years of that magic ... 305/383/639, 157, about what Javy has been doing so far this year. We can't expect Javy to keep it up for the rest of the year, I just thought that was an interesting coincidence too. If Javy could just get the wild swings a little bit under control, there are plenty of times pitchers would be happy to walk him if he's gonna ISO 300.
   14. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 07, 2019 at 10:01 AM (#5839113)
Last night was one of those games that's just incredibly annoying to lose:
-Cubs had 8 hits and 10 walks, but only scored 6 runs.
-The Kyle Ryan total brainfart in the 9th, which allowed what ended up being the deciding run to score (runners on 2nd/3rd 1 out, Ryan snares a comebacker and has the runner going home dead to rights, but inexplicably turns and throws out the batter at first).
-Strop having his worst outing, arguably ever. It was kinda obvious early on he had no idea where the ball was going, but that's not usually a problem for him so I don't really blame Maddon for not pulling him sooner.
-Having Almora PH against a RHP instead of Descalso with the bases loaded. At first, I thought it probably just meant Descalso wasn't able to go (he hurt his ankle Saturday), but then he PH in the 9th. Maddon may have been overthinking things there, looking ahead to double switching in Almora for defense. It was a real chance to blow the game open, and Almora K'd and then Zobrist grounded into a DP to end the inning.

On the good side, that was the hardest hit ball Bryant has had in years (literally). Javy took his 6th non-IBB BB. CJ had a clean inning in his first time back, in the 7th of a 1 run game, no less.
   15. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 07, 2019 at 11:07 AM (#5839162)
-Cubs had 8 hits and 10 walks, but only scored 6 runs.

5 runs
   16. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 07, 2019 at 11:11 AM (#5839166)
Even worse!
   17. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 07, 2019 at 11:13 AM (#5839167)
MAY 7 IN CUBS HISTORY:

1880 George Gore, CHC NL, gets 6 hits in a game
1906 Cubs select Jack Harper from Reds off of waivers
1999 WPA's favorite Barry Larkin game: 0.833 WPA. 3-for-4, 1 2B, RBI, 1 BB. Cin 3, ChC 2
2010 MLB debut: Starlin Castro, age 20. Hits 3-run HR in first AB, later gets bases loaded 3B. 6 RBI are modern record in MLB debut
2012 MLB debut: Jose Quintana
2017 NYY 5, CHC 4 (18). CHC score 3 in the bottom of the 9th to tie it. Tying run scored on a bases loaded HBP of Anthony Rizzo by Aroldis Chapman




   18. Walt Davis Posted: May 08, 2019 at 12:30 AM (#5839476)
So the Cubs were 1-6 back on Apr 5. Between then and today (not including today's results but obviously this got no worse):

Cubs 18-7, +63
Hou 18-9, +54
StL 18-10, +28
Yanks, Twins 17-10, +36 and +30
TB 16-10, +43

For comparison, Marlins 8-18 and -60 ... as long as we remain the mirror image of the Marlins, I like our chances.
   19. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 08, 2019 at 09:36 AM (#5839518)
MAY 8 IN CUBS HISTORY:

1850 Ross Barnes born
1899 Walkoff grand slam: Harry Wolverton: CHC 8, CLE 7
1902 ChC 10, NYG 5. But afterwards distance from plate to mound measured: 15 inches short. NYG protests, upheld & game (and 5/7) replayed
1926 Pete Alexander's last win as a Cub
1939 Phil Cavaretta breaks leg sliding into second base
1953 1,000 wins as manager: Charlie Grimm: 1,000-845 (not a Cub manager at the time, but whatever. Some others on this list weren't on the Cubs at the time of their event, but they're still associated with the Cubs)
1955 Last game: Phil Cavaretta
1973 Ernie Banks fills in as manaager for a few innings when Whitey Lockman ejected
1994 Andy Van Slyke goes 8-for-9 in doubleheader against the Cubs
1998 SFG pull off their first triple play in 18 years, but lose 5-4 (14) to Cubs at Wrigley
2004 2,000 strikeouts: Sammy Sosa. 2,042 games
2009 MLB debut: Chris Coghlan
2011 last game: Milton Bradley
2012 Kerry Wood, CHC, flingers glove & hat into the stands walking back to dugout after allowing 2 runs to ATL
2016 CHC 4, DCN 3 (13). Bryce Harper has 7 PA but no AB: 1 HBP, 6 BB (3 IW - including 2 in extra innings - w/ 2 runners on each time)


   20. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 08, 2019 at 12:28 PM (#5839619)
Cubs defense has had some bad/dumb hiccups the last couple of games - something that also happened a lot in that early bad stretch. Dropped catches (Schwarber's was error last night, Baez's wasn't), bobbled balls in the OF (Heyward), dropped double plays (Bote), throwing to the wrong base (Ryan)...stuff that will probably be cleaned up. But you can argue it cost them the game Monday and could have last night.

---

Jordan Bastian @MLBastian 14h14 hours ago

Since coming off the injured list, Jon Lester has allowed 1 ER in 18 IP with 19 K, 1 BB and 13 hits.


However, maybe he is still getting luckier that the H/K/BB rates might imply.

---

Jordan Bastian @MLBastian 13h13 hours ago

Bryant's HR came off a 98.7 mph pitch. Only two faster pitches had been hit for HR coming into today, across MLB this season. It's the 2nd-fastest pitch Bryant has homered against in his career (98.8 mph vs. Carlos Martinez, 9/15/17). h/t @AndrewSimonMLB


I think whatever was causing his problem early in the year (mechanics, lingering shoulder issues, bad haircut) has been addressed (his haircut is still awful, but it's no longer the source of his suckage).

---

Highlighting Kintzler's numbers so far: 16.2IP, 17K, 2 BB. Easily his best H%, K%, and BB% in his career (save some cups of coffee early on). I'm sure his BABIP will go up, but for now, he's fooling guys and making them miss.
   21. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 08, 2019 at 01:27 PM (#5839648)
his haircut is still awful
Heh. Spahn and I were texting about that last night. Somehow it's gotten even worse - the duck tail thing has grown out into a half-mullet. Just atrocious.
   22. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 08, 2019 at 01:46 PM (#5839656)
Heh. Spahn and I were texting about that last night. Somehow it's gotten even worse - the duck tail thing has grown out into a half-mullet. Just atrocious.

Middle aged guys with hair are so judgmental.
   23. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 08, 2019 at 02:42 PM (#5839692)
   24. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 08, 2019 at 02:46 PM (#5839696)
Russell is getting called up.
   25. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 08, 2019 at 03:10 PM (#5839709)
Zobrist was scratched yesterday, Descalso has a bad ankle, Javy hasn't had a break yet...I mean, I guess you could argue there's a need for him over say Happ. Blech.
   26. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 08, 2019 at 03:11 PM (#5839712)
I see this is all coming from Kaplan (he's the only one so far who's said anything):

David Kaplan @thekapman 39m39 minutes ago

Look for two roster moves from the Cubs today. I’m hearing Zobrist and Descalso to the IL. Addison Russell will be one of the players activated.
   27. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 08, 2019 at 03:38 PM (#5839726)
I am admittedly curious to see how warm his welcome is going to be. I doubt he gets a bunch of boos but I also doubt he's getting a standing O.
   28. Red Voodooin Posted: May 08, 2019 at 03:49 PM (#5839732)
I am admittedly curious to see how warm his welcome is going to be. I doubt he gets a bunch of boos but I also doubt he's getting a standing O.


I think stony silence would be the coolest crowd reaction (or the one that currently jibes most with my own feelings on the matter) and from there cheers or hisses based on his performance.
   29. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: May 08, 2019 at 03:50 PM (#5839733)
Anyone have any information on this?

Statement Issued by Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney Regarding On-Air Incident During NBC Sports Chicago’s Cubs Game Broadcast:

We are currently investigating an incident that occurred during the Cubs’ May 7 broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago while reporter Doug Glanville was on the air. An individual seated behind Mr. Glanville used what appears to be an offensive hand gesture that is associated with racism.



Cubs are playing the Marlins, so I am blacked out from the games and didn't see it.
   30. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 08, 2019 at 03:55 PM (#5839736)
an offensive hand gesture that is associated with racism
Trying to think of anything that would fit this description - a Hitler salute?
   31. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 08, 2019 at 04:35 PM (#5839753)
Ben Zobrist given a leave of absence for personal reasons, he's placed on the restricted list. Addison Russell recalled from Iowa. Zobrists's absence is indefinite.


I hope everything is ok.

Pedro Strop on 10-day IL with left hamstring strain (it was right hamstring in the spring). Mike Montgomery activated.


Damn hamstrings. Would explain his outing the other night.

...

Russell hitting 8th, playing 2b. Heyward at leadoff (like I said he should).




   32. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 08, 2019 at 04:37 PM (#5839756)


The Cubs believe a fan who made a hand gesture associated with racism in the background of a black reporter's live on-air hit during their game Tuesday evening did so with a full understanding of the symbol and malicious intent, and the organization is leaning toward banning him from Wrigley Field permanently, president of business operations Crane Kenney said on the Bernstein & McKnight Show on Wednesday morning.

"We reached the conclusion that it's more likely than not that this person was using that hand signal as a racist way of interfering with everyone's enjoyment of the game," Kenney said. "That investigation has almost reached its conclusion. We'll have more to say about that in a little bit.

"We'll be taking action as a result."



The Cubs were made aware of the incident by television viewers who then pointed it out to the team on social media accounts, Kenney said. A group of team officials then met after the conclusion of the Cubs' win against the Marlins, and the organization sent out a press release at 12:56 a.m. that it was investigating the incident and "offensive" gesture.

The incident occurred before the start of the bottom of the third inning, according to video from the telecast. A fan behind NBC Sports Chicago reporter Doug Glanville made an upside-down "OK" sign, a symbol that white supremacists have appropriated. The sign has also long been associated with what many call the "circle game," but the Cubs aren't buying that line of reasoning, Kenney said.

"Whether this person is going to ultimately say he intended it, that he was playing the circle game or some other stunt, the judgment to use that in connection with a respected reporter who happens to be African-American doing his job -- and we love Doug and he does an amazing job for all of us -- that connection ... coincidence is not going to fly here," Kenney said.

The Cubs believe the burden of proof is on the fan to prove he wasn't using the gesture with racist intent, Kenney said.

"It's a place of inclusiveness," Kenney said of Wrigley Field. "It's a place where everyone is welcome.
   33. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 08, 2019 at 04:38 PM (#5839757)
Trying to think of anything that would fit this description - a Hitler salute?

I'm sure there are a wide variety of things which would go unrecognized by most people but are well known to in-groups.
   34. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 08, 2019 at 04:44 PM (#5839759)
an upside-down "OK" sign, a symbol that white supremacists have appropriated
Apparently so, Pops. Jeez, white supremacists are dumb.
   35. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: May 08, 2019 at 04:46 PM (#5839760)
Thanks Moses. I figured that's what it was.
   36. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 08, 2019 at 04:49 PM (#5839762)
If there is convincing evidence that that is indeed what he was doing, ban that stupid schmuck from Wrigley immediately. Although I wonder how they would possibly enforce it.
   37. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 08, 2019 at 04:54 PM (#5839763)
That's what it sounds like they're gonna do. I always wonder about enforcement, for this plus the drunks, etc. Some of this lifetime ban stuff feels like the public perception as much as the actual ban.
   38. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 08, 2019 at 06:48 PM (#5839810)
Theo Epstein: “I hope Addison continues to grow. That’s what this is all about. He should expect to face adversity along the way. He doesn’t deserve to be met with an unconditionally warm welcome and with open arms.”

Addison Russell: “I’ve just improved overall, better relationships and better communication with my teammates and family and friends. Just overall, I feel like I’m a better person. Hearing from my family and friends and also teammates that I have improved is a lot of assurance."


Hmmm
   39. Walt Davis Posted: May 08, 2019 at 10:49 PM (#5839914)
Heyward's opt-out drive continues!
   40. Meatwad Posted: May 09, 2019 at 12:21 AM (#5839939)
I for one welcome Heywards opt-out drive. May it be successfull.
   41. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 09, 2019 at 08:39 AM (#5839993)
Saw a clip of Russell's first AB. I was surprised that there were as many boos as there were. I was expecting the typical tribal full fanbase cheer. Glad that didn't happen.
   42. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 09, 2019 at 10:58 AM (#5840058)
I was just about to post Heyward's recent numbers when he hit that walkoff. Regardless, including last night, he's slashing .224/.348/.379 his last 18 games, which is more in line with his overall Cubs performance. So, yeah, happy with the hot start and the walkoff, but I still would be surprised if he finished the year strong enough to even consider opting out.

And even if he did have a good year, can he really beat the 4/$86mil left on his deal? Last offseason Cain got 5/$80mil and this year Pollock got 4/$55mil. He'd be a yearish younger than both of them when they signed their deals, but would anyone really value him at Cain's level? Could he even get what Pollock got? If he got a longer deal that had more total money, he'd take it, but who is signing a 30yo corner OF (who can play CF, but still) to a contract longer than 4 years? I was thinking maybe the Cubs add on a year or two at the end at a smaller annual amount to lower his AAV, but why would they do that unless he was signing for like $10mil total extra (and even then, I wonder how that'd be looked at).

   43. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 09, 2019 at 11:00 AM (#5840059)
Even before last night's blown save, Sharma was saying the Cubs are likely to add a "proven closer" this year. I'd have to look around to see who'd even be available, but I'm already dreading trading another prospect when the Cubs could just suck it up and sign Kimbrel (maybe even wait until after the draft so they don't lose a pick; assuming the Cubs stay hottish and that remains a glaring need, maybe Theo can convince Rickets for some more dough).
   44. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 09, 2019 at 11:16 AM (#5840077)
I'm already dreading trading another prospect when the Cubs could just suck it up and sign Kimbrel

Don't get attached to Amaya and Hoerner. The Cubs do have the possibility of dipping into the Bote/Schwarber/Happ/Russell collection.

I wouldn't expect them to get an elite reliever, even if it's a "proven closer."
   45. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 09, 2019 at 11:35 AM (#5840107)
MAY 9:

1908 Billy Jurges born
1976 MLB debut: Bruce Sutter
1994 Minor leaguer (and future Cub) Neifi Perez (California League) achieves unassisted triple play
2014 future Cub pitcher Yu Darvish loses no-hitter after 26 outs for 2nd time in his career. BOX David Ortiz 1B. Big error earlier in the game, too
2015 Kris Bryant hit his 1st HR


   46. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 09, 2019 at 11:51 AM (#5840123)
I think I'd be surprised if they traded Hoerner, but I do think Russell and/or Almora could go. I also think Bote is gonna stick, but they're probably more open to moving Schwarber.

I did predict the Cubs would trade for a new starting position player, maybe there's a bigger deal out there for a corner OF/closer that involves Russell/Scwharber/whatever.
   47. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 09, 2019 at 12:04 PM (#5840134)
I hadn't noticed until I looked just now but Hoerner is doing quite well at the plate in his 69 PAs in AA. Perhaps the winning move is to part with Russell and hope Hoerner can you help at the major league level (if necessary). Rapid promotion isn't usually their style but Hoerner is basically insurance if you let Bote and Baez have the every day jobs.

I did predict the Cubs would trade for a new starting position player, maybe there's a bigger deal out there for a corner OF/closer that involves Russell/Scwharber/whatever.

If they do this, I have to think CF is most likely.
   48. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 09, 2019 at 12:12 PM (#5840140)
So:

It seems like an innocuous moment. A player breaks his bat and a bat boy brings him another one from the rack. But this time, instead of bringing Bryant a regular bat, the bat boy had grabbed an Axe Bat that Bryant had decided to bring out on a whim.

“It was just one day, ‘I’m going to bring this (Axe Bat) as my extra,’” Bryant said. “Usually when you break your bat, it’s when you put a ball in play and you’re out or get a hit or whatever. It’s not a foul ball. So the bat boy brings it to me and I’m like, ‘OK, I’m just going to use this.’ First swing, home run. And I was like, ‘Oh, OK, I’ll stick with it.’ And I have since then and I just feel really good about my swing.”

The results of the hard work and the bat change have been remarkable. While using the standard round handle this season, Bryant has a 102 wRC+ in 100 plate appearances. His 63 batted balls had an average exit velocity of 88 mph, went an average distance of 172 feet and just 30.2 percent of them were deemed “hard hit” (95-plus mph). Entering Wednesday, in his last 47 plate appearances, he boasts an eye-popping 213 wRC+. Over 30 batted balls, his average exit velocity has jumped to 94.9 mph, he’s driving the ball an average of 281 feet and his hard-hit rate is up to 60 percent.


My younger son (5) bought an axe bat for tball this year. Not for that reason, but because it was red and gold. I will say, just playing around with it, I really like how the handle feels and think it's something I would use were I playing. My older son will get a new bat next year, and I'll probably steer him towards one of those.
   49. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 09, 2019 at 12:19 PM (#5840144)
If they do this, I have to think CF is most likely.

That or 2b where really what I was thinking about before the season, but Heyward has played there quite a bit this year and I think they still like Almora (or I guess he could go in a trade, too). I think what I'm saying now is that those guys can probably handle CF, and then you have one corner to rotate Bryant/Zobrist/whoever is left of Happ/Schwarber, so you add a middle of the order (or maybe guy who goes leadoff fulltime) guy to start every day in the other corner; I'm also guessing it's easier to find a corner guy than a real CF. I think between what's left (and maybe Hoerner), 2b is probably fine for this year and maybe the hope is Hoerner is the long term answer there.
   50. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: May 09, 2019 at 12:21 PM (#5840145)
If they do this, I have to think CF is most likely.


Problem is, who? Looking at the teams currently out of contention, there's no one other than Trout who would be an upgrade. Billy Hamilton, Ian Desmond, Kevin Pillar, Juan Lagares, Jacoby Jones, whomever is filling the role for Miami, KC, White Sox, Bluejays. Nats won't trade Robles. Ditto the A's and Laureano. That's every team currently with a losing record. Maybe there's a contender with a need the Cubs can fill who has 2 CF quality outfielders?
   51. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 09, 2019 at 12:23 PM (#5840148)
I've seen a lot of talk about the Cubs going the other way (Javy's HRs in particular), so this shows how it seems to be a real point of emphasis for the whole team.

That piece doesn't point it out, but not only are they going the other way a ton, they're really, really good at it:
Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma May 6

And another opposite field extra-base hit for the Cubs as Javy goes to the right-center gap for a double. So much hard contact the other way for this team.

Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma May 6

They were up to .708 slugging to the opposite field after last night's game. Milwaukee is second at .636.
   52. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 09, 2019 at 12:27 PM (#5840153)
Problem is, who? Looking at the teams currently out of contention, there's no one other than Trout who would be an upgrade.
Well then, the choice is clear, isn't it?
   53. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: May 09, 2019 at 12:37 PM (#5840160)
Too late to edit #50, but it should read: whomever is filling the role for Miami, Orioles, White Sox, Bluejays.
   54. Spahn Insane Posted: May 09, 2019 at 12:41 PM (#5840166)
I have to say, I'm pleased with Chili Davis's absence.
   55. Zonk Totally Exonerated by Total BS Posted: May 09, 2019 at 01:33 PM (#5840207)
Problem is, who? Looking at the teams currently out of contention, there's no one other than Trout who would be an upgrade.


Well then, the choice is clear, isn't it?


Mike Trout is in the process of constructing a potentially historically great career.

Why you would want to sacrifice this bit of history that can be shared by all baseball fans for the brief, fleeting moment of "We got Mike Trout!" exultation before the Theo OF curse takes hold and he turns into Matt Kemp is quite beyond me.
   56. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 09, 2019 at 02:04 PM (#5840221)
I have to say, I'm pleased with Chili Davis's absence.

I am on that bandwagon, too. But let's not forget the Cubs started off very well under Chili.

Problem is, who?

I haven't looked around at the options much but I think they might be onto something with that Mike Trout kid.

Although not a CF, Choo is off to a great start. I'm sure he will be available.

Atlanta probably wouldn't mind putting Acuna in CF and trading Inciarte for major league pitching but I don't see how that matches up with the Cubs.
   57. Zonk Totally Exonerated by Total BS Posted: May 09, 2019 at 02:47 PM (#5840238)
Atlanta probably wouldn't mind putting Acuna in CF and trading Inciarte for major league pitching but I don't see how that matches up with the Cubs.


Tyler Chatwood is pitching in the majors.
   58. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 09, 2019 at 05:33 PM (#5840395)
I posted this in the chatter, but Montgomery looked absolutely fantastic today. His stuff is crisp, his velocity seems higher than normal (94ish). Very good to see.
   59. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: May 09, 2019 at 06:15 PM (#5840429)
If they do this, I have to think CF is most likely.


Problem is, who?


Whit Merrifield, if the Royals would give him up? He plays mostly second but has spent time in the OF, including 27 CF starts last year (and the Cubs have some experience with players splitting time between those areas.)
   60. Man o' Schwar Posted: May 09, 2019 at 07:28 PM (#5840444)
Merrifield feels like the kind of player Maddon would love to have, kind of a Zobrist-lite.
   61. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: May 09, 2019 at 08:02 PM (#5840454)
Merrifield would be really expensive. He's under contract for 4 more years for $25 mil total, and only $1 mil this year. He was a 5.5 WAR player last year, and is playing really well this year. The Cubs don't have the prospects for him.
   62. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 09, 2019 at 09:20 PM (#5840480)
Yeah, at this point, he’s Zobrist-heavy.
   63. Walt Davis Posted: May 10, 2019 at 12:11 AM (#5840518)
Yep, teams don't trade guys right after signing them long-term (barring change in ownership/GM). Merrifield isn't going anywhere. Inciarte is still under control for 3/$26 but many things have changed in Atl since that deal was signed so they might consider it ... alas, per bWAR, he's neither hitting nor fielding particularly well this year so it's not totally clear he's an upgrade on Almora (although, based on history, he probably is).

Choo is signed through 2020 at another $21 M, can't see the Cubs touching that with a 10-foot pole.

The Cubs I'm sure would be happy to trade Russell for a comparable but probably lesser (in the baseball sense) bit.

On Chili ... yeah, this seems a lot like what Chili was (supposedly) preaching. Go the other way more, make more contact, be aggressive in the zone.

2019 257/352/461, 5.8 R/g (34 games, not including today)
2018 265/345/426, 5.1 R/g (1st "half")
2017 255/338/437, 5.1 R/g (all season)
2016 256/343/429, 5.0 R/g (all season)

2019 302 BABIP, 23% K/PA, 11% BB/PA, 4.0 HR/PA
2018 319 BABIP, 21% K/PA, 10% BB/PA, 2.7 HR/PA (1st half ... 313 BABIP for the full year)
2017 302 BABIP, 22% K/PA, 10% BB/PA, 3.6 HR/PA
2016 302 BABIP, 21% K/PA, 10% BB/PA, 3.1 HR/PA

The 2018 Cubs (full season) hit 344/527 (RH) and 366/556 (LH) the other way with 15 HR. 2019 is rocking it at 369/621 (RH) but worse 318/554 LH, 7 total HR so far. 2017 was 315/511 and 357/539, 18 HR ... 2016 was 276/386 and 296/452 with 7 HR. The last numbers look fishy but the overall counts seem reasonably similar over the years so it's probably not a change in coding. Is this a league-wide trend?

Anyway, what does this have to do with Chili? Probably nothing. They did the job in the first half but the only real difference to the previous years was a jump in BABIP and a drop in HR ... which we all know was followed in the 2nd half by a bigger drop in power. The K-rate wasn't even really improved in the first half. So it could be that Chili had limited effect in the 1st half (mostly a continuation of the previous two years) then as his approach settled in, the scoring went down. But of course it could have just been a random terrible (nearly) team-wide slump in the 2nd half.

Anyway, so far 2019 is smashing 2016 and 2017 but early days of course. Hopefully Bryant is back, hopefully Contreras doesn't came crashing to earth too hard -- he had only 10 HR last year but he's also about 50% ahead of his career-best pace, hopefully at least one of Schwarber/Zobrist/Almora starts to hit. Bote has already turned back into Bote, Descalso back to Descalso, so I suspect we'll be struggling offensively at 2B all year. (Or SS if Russell and Javy switch.)

Given the scoring it doesn't seem possible but the Cub pos players are still a distant second in WAA to the Dodgers, barely ahead of the Brewers. Second is fine and all but it suggests we might be coming back closer to that 5.1 R/g we've been averaging when going well the last few years. This is impressive though -- Cub catchers 1.6 WAA; 2nd place Mia/Phi at 0.2 WAA. Contreras is on pace for about 9 WAR ... that would be pretty good. Also Javy's to nearly 2 WAA already (I didn't think he'd take to SS THIS well) but DeJong remains a bit ahead.

   64. Walt Davis Posted: May 10, 2019 at 12:14 AM (#5840519)
Oh yeah ... Heyward ... c'mon, there was an exclamation point. Clearly humorous. Maybe, maybe if he put up a 150 OPS+, he might think about opting out. But, unless he's got the worst agent in the world, he knows nobody would take any kind of offensive resurgence at face value after the last 3 years plus the defense seems to have slipped back to good/above-average. He knows he's not beating 4/$85 (or whatever).
   65. Walt Davis Posted: May 10, 2019 at 12:23 AM (#5840520)
The following is not a jinx because nobody believes it possible anyway (do you hear me baseball gods?!)

Top WAR seasons, at least 80% at catcher

Piazza 1997 8.7
Carter 1982 8.6
Bench 1972 8.6
Bench 1974 7.9
Mauer 2009 7.8
Posey 2012 7.6
Porter 1979 7.6
Carter 1984 7.5
Bench 1970 7.4
Fisk 1972 7.3

The Bench kid was pretty good.

Best pre-expansion is Campy 1951 at 7.1 ... he has the only other pre-expansion season in the top 20. Best pre-WW2 is Dickey 1937 at 6.8 ... biggest surprise in the top 25 is probably Rick Wilkins at 6.6 (Cub record) but arguably Hoiles at 6.8.

In case you were wondering (I was), Berra's best year was "just" 5.7 (but one of 4 seasons over 5) and Hartnett's best 5.6.
   66. Meatwad Posted: May 10, 2019 at 12:26 AM (#5840522)
He could have the same agent as acuna and make a really dumb decision.
   67. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 10, 2019 at 08:30 AM (#5840537)
MAY 10 IN CUBS HISTORY:

1910 Heinie Zimerman, Cubs, makes 4 errors in one game
1931 Freddie Fitzsimmons hits his only career grandslam & throws CG 4-hit SHO. NYG 5, CHC 0
1937 Jim Hickman born
1955 Cubs get only 1 baserunner vs. Don Newcombe: Gene Baker single in 4th, then CS. BRK 3, CHC 0
1956 Jimmy Slagle dies
1966 CG SHO by Bob Gibson and hits HR. STL 8, CHC 0. Gibson: 9 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K (does this 6 times, this is #4)
1967 Adolfo Phillips steals home for the Cubs, as they win 5-4 over SFG
1972 Reds steal 6 bases in 6 attempts off of Milt Pappas
1989 Jerome Walton injures hamstring on last play of game: tagged out as crawls to third in 4-3 loss to SFG. Miss a month
1997 Cubs pull off triple play against SFG
2007 KIA Tigers sign Hee-Seop Choi
2008 350 wins: Greg Maddux
2013 Jon Lester, BOX, retires 27 of 28 batters he faces, allowing one hit - a 6th inning double to TOR's Macier Izturis
2014 Cubs lose their 10,000th game in franchise history. ATL 5, CHC 2



   68. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: May 10, 2019 at 10:18 AM (#5840567)
The following is not a jinx because nobody believes it possible anyway (do you hear me baseball gods?!)


What are you trying to say here Walt?
   69. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 10, 2019 at 10:38 AM (#5840576)
Merrifield would be really expensive. He's under contract for 4 more years for $25 mil total, and only $1 mil this year. He was a 5.5 WAR player last year, and is playing really well this year. The Cubs don't have the prospects for him.

He was high on a bunch of our wishlists at the start of the offseason - I may have even been hoping for a Happ+ deal with maybe the Royals preferring the younger guy. Obviously, didn't happen, and like Walt said, yeah, he's not going anywhere now (and he's probably better at 2b than OF anyway).

Oh yeah ... Heyward ... c'mon, there was an exclamation point. Clearly humorous. Maybe, maybe if he put up a 150 OPS+, he might think about opting out. But, unless he's got the worst agent in the world, he knows nobody would take any kind of offensive resurgence at face value after the last 3 years plus the defense seems to have slipped back to good/above-average. He knows he's not beating 4/$85 (or whatever).

I know you were joking...
   70. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 10, 2019 at 11:16 AM (#5840611)
What are you trying to say here Walt?

He doesn‘t want to jinx Contreras who is off to an historic start.
   71. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 10, 2019 at 01:05 PM (#5840682)
Jordan Bastian @MLBastian 20h20 hours ago

Updated combined numbers for Bryant (1-for-2, HR, 2 BB) and Rizzo (2-for-4, HR) in their last 18 games (since April 19): .320/.451/.750 with 13 homers, 12 doubles, 37 RBI and more walks (25) than strikeouts (19) in 162 plate appearances.
   72. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 10, 2019 at 01:48 PM (#5840699)
an historic
Huh. Wouldn't have pegged you for a Brit.
   73. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 10, 2019 at 03:02 PM (#5840754)
I can always count on you for an humorous and colourful response.
   74. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 10, 2019 at 03:04 PM (#5840757)
Well-chuffed, I am.
   75. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 13, 2019 at 10:39 AM (#5841449)
It wasn't the prettiest or most dominating week* - especially the Marlins stretch - but still another very successful one.

Patrick Mooney @PJ_Mooney 11h11 hours ago

The first-place Cubs have won eight straight series for the first time since the middle of the 2008 season. Every opponent during that stretch – except for the Miami Marlins – was above .500 when the series began. The Cubs are now a season-high 10 games over .500.


Jordan Bastian @MLBastian 13h13 hours ago

Since returning from the injured list, Jon Lester has allowed 1 earned run (4 runs total) in 24.2 IP with 25 strikeouts and 2 walks.


Christopher Kamka @ckamka 12h12 hours ago

Kris Bryant 22-game on-base streak: .289/.450/.671, 21 Runs, 7 HR, 20 RBI, 22 hits, 21 walks, 2 HBP


*The Cubs have fallen well behind the Astros in the all important run differential title race; they're 3rd, but still have games in hand on TBR.
   76. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 13, 2019 at 11:49 AM (#5841484)
May 13:
1943 Pat Malone, Cub pitcher, dies at age 40
1982 Cubs' 8,000th franchise win: 5-0 shutout of Houston
1990 last game: Jody Davis
2009 Alfonso Soriano hits his 53rd leadoff HR, passing Craig Biggio for 2nd most
2014 Cubs lose 4-3 in 11 innings on bases loaded walk-off HBP to … an opposing reliever! STL wins
2015 Cubs beat the Mets 2-1 on a walk-off walk. Cubs tied it in the bottom of the 8th. Matt Harvey: 7 scoreless innings
2017 MLB debut: Ian Happ
   77. Brian C Posted: May 13, 2019 at 02:11 PM (#5841578)
The first-place Cubs have won eight straight series for the first time since the middle of the 2008 season.

Interesting, I'd have guessed they did this in 2015 or 2016, both of which featured extended periods when it seemed they hardly lost at all. And I know the 2008 was good but I wouldn't have guessed they did it that year.
   78. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 13, 2019 at 02:23 PM (#5841585)
In 2016, they started 25-6, but lost an early series to Colorado. Then a little later they split a two-game series to Atlanta. In the middle of May, they dropped three series out of four (sending their record hurtling down from 25-6 to a pathetic 29-13). They won six straight series, then lost a series. A week later, they began their only down spot of the season - losing 15 out of 20.

So they never did better than winning six straight series while vaulting out to a 47-20 start.

Now? They've won eight straight series and haven't lost any of their last 10 series. (The last series they didn't win was a two-game series they split). Not bad.
   79. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 13, 2019 at 02:50 PM (#5841602)
Also, this team isn't as good as 2016 and isn't blowing teams out of the water the same way that team did. It's more a quirk that I found interesting than a real comparison to that team.
   80. Walt Davis Posted: May 13, 2019 at 09:22 PM (#5841745)
By the way, I'm somewhat concerned about how far behind the Cubs are in games played. By end of today, we'll have 5 fewer than the Brewers and Dodgers and 3 fewer than the Cards. The schedule already has us playing 32 of the last 34 days of the season (including 18 straight in the middle) ... which might be true of the other teams too. The Angels cancellation has been rescheduled for June (poor Angels play in Seattle, fly to Chicago, fly back to LA) so if there are no other cancellations, that won't get worse. Between now and the AS break, we're scheduled to make up 4 games on the Brewers and 3 on the Dodgers so don't be surprised if we're dragging a bit going into the break (52 games in 55 days I think ... 16, 17, 17,2 ... we have Fri July 5 off?).

Anyway, it might behoove Joe to actually give Contreras a day off.
   81. Brian C Posted: May 13, 2019 at 09:35 PM (#5841747)
It's more a quirk that I found interesting than a real comparison to that team.

Oh sure, I didn't take it as a real comparison. I was just surprised because the 2015 and 2016 teams seemed so invincible at times.

I remember the 2015 team being near invincible in the second half, and they had a ton of winning streaks over the last 2 months of the season. After losing July 28 to fall to 52-47, they had streaks of 6, 9, 6, 5, 5, and 8. That's 39 of the 45 games they won after that point.

But somehow that never translated to more than a 3-series win streak.

At any rate, looking at the results from that season again, I'm remembering how fun it was. The 2016 team gets more love for obviously deserved reasons, but the 2015 team was very special in its own right. That's when it all came together, and all the promise of the rebuild finally manifested, seemingly all at once. That Giants series in early August that year still feels like a turning point for this franchise to me.
   82. Man o' Schwar Posted: May 13, 2019 at 09:38 PM (#5841748)
By the way, I'm somewhat concerned about how far behind the Cubs are in games played.

You're not the only one. I can't stop thinking about the end of last year, when they played something like 35 games in 35 days and really showed some wear in that last week of the season. They were flat against the Pirates as they let the Brewers get back into it, losing the first two of that series at home and almost dropping the third one.

I hope there's no weather troubles this summer, or we're going to be looking at the same situation again.
   83. Walt Davis Posted: May 14, 2019 at 03:53 AM (#5841781)
I'm partly noting that dragging might happen mid-season this time around** ... then maybe again at the end. If we're playing 52 games in the next 55 days while making up 4 games on the Brewers, then they're playing just 48 in the next 55 days -- a day off every week. Checking the Brewers close the season with 35 games in 38 days which isn't much different than 32 in 34 and they also have a run of 18 straight. With no changes, the Cubs and Brewers pull even on games on Aug 16 when both will have 41 to play in 45 days. (Season ends on Sept 29)

And of course if we don't drag midseason then those "extra" games give us a chance to pick up more ground. And of course possibly the Brewers are dragging now because of all the extra games they've played.

** Before looking at it, I just assumed (a) we had more rainouts this year than I remembered and (b) the 2nd half was gonna be brutal. Turns out the answer to (a) is "no" and (b) is "end of first half may be brutal."
   84. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 14, 2019 at 10:52 AM (#5841839)
Also, this team isn't as good as 2016 and isn't blowing teams out of the water the same way that team did. It's more a quirk that I found interesting than a real comparison to that team.


Saying a team isn't as good as a team that won 103 games, had a run differential consistent with 107 wins, and won the World Series isn't exactly controversial. But the thing is, the 2019 Cubs aren't that far off the pace.

In some ways, I think the slow start is still coloring peoples' perceptions. Folks still tend to do the "Since the Cubs started 2-7, they have ...." Which I think undersells this team a bit - it makes it look like you have to cherry pick and focus on their unsustainably hot recent play.

The Cubs now have the best record in the National League and are on pace for 102 or 103 wins - with a Pythag to match that. And that's not "since" anything except the start of the season. They have the fewest losses in MLB - due in part to Walt's point.

It's true that the Cubs aren't going to play .778 ball the rest of the season (their winning percentage since starting 3-6). But if they mix the clunkers in among the wins from here on out instead of concentrating them within a week like they did to start the season, the early indications are that the Cubs could well play at least .600 ball the rest of the way, maybe even the .630 they've done so far.
   85. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 14, 2019 at 12:55 PM (#5841885)
MAY 14:

1927 pitchers duel: Guy Bush (CHC) & Charlie Robertson (BOB) go distance: CHC 7, BOB 2 (18). Bush 18 IP, Robertson 17.3 IP
1928 John McGraw hit by car outside Wrigley while trying to hail cab. Takes responsibility for it & doesn't get the driver's name.
1941 Dizzy Dean retires
1978 Tommy Lasorda asked what he thinks of Dave Kingman's performance (3 HR in 10-7 Cub win) vs. LA. CLASSIC answer
1999 MLB debut: Ted Lilly
2000 MTL 16, CHC 15
2008 Cubs sign Jim Edmonds
2012 Starlin Castro, CHC, tries SH but hits into the rare 3-5-4 double play instead
   86. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 14, 2019 at 02:31 PM (#5841928)
Anyway, it might behoove Joe to actually give Contreras a day off.

Thankfully Caratini is rehabbing in Iowa. I'm guessing Davis might get one more start (he's caught Yu's last few games) tomorrow, and then maybe VC is back. But yes, I worry about Willson more than almost anything else related to this team.

Saying a team isn't as good as a team that won 103 games, had a run differential consistent with 107 wins, and won the World Series isn't exactly controversial. But the thing is, the 2019 Cubs aren't that far off the pace.

Even agreeing with your context, all I mean is that after 38 games, the 2016 was already 27-9, up 7.5 games and was +108 in run differential. FWIW, neither FG (92 wins) or BPro (86) are completely buying the Cubs as this good yet or that much better than the initial projections (I know they don't just throw the forecasts out the window).
   87. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 14, 2019 at 02:32 PM (#5841929)
Rizzo not in the lineup again today. They're saying his back acts up every year, but he was hitting so well I'm hoping this doesn't linger long.
   88. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 14, 2019 at 05:51 PM (#5842009)
Jordan Bastian @MLBastian 4m4 minutes ago

Updates from Theo...

1. Morrow will be evaulated this week, could resume throwing soon
2. Hoerner (hand) will head to AZ later this week to resume hitting program
3. Alzolay will start Fri for AAA Iowa
4. Barnette to throw in extended spring game Wed
5. Caratini coming back soon

Jordan Bastian @MLBastian 3m3 minutes ago

Still no timeline for Zobrist’s return to Cubs. Given as much time as he needs for undisclosed personal matter.
   89. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 14, 2019 at 05:58 PM (#5842011)
Jordan Bastian @MLBastian 5m5 minutes ago

There was a recent report indicating that the Cubs internally envision Russell at SS and having Baez moving around between 2B/SS/3B. Both Maddon and Epstein said today there is no truth to that report. The plan going forward is sticking with Baez as the everyday SS.


I saw a tweet yesterday about this; it appears it's something Karl Ravech said on the Waddle and Silvy show. It rang as BS to me from the start.
   90. Walt Davis Posted: May 15, 2019 at 12:11 AM (#5842164)
I do suspect Russell is the better SS but I'm sure the Cubs have no interest in starting Russell (nearly) every day ... and I'm sure they'd be happy to trade him should an opportunity arise. In that scenario, just keep Javy settled at short.

All that said, Descalso is down to a 76 OPS+, Zobrist still at 62 ... an injury or two, Bryant in the OF or 1B, etc. and my uncertainty that Russell can play 3B well (just cuz I don't think he ever has) and I can see some games with Javy at 3B and Russell at SS and Russell back as a near-everyday player.

On projections and such ... the Cubs have at least finally moved to the top of the NL WAA table at 6.2 (Dodgers 5.0) and that WAA corresponds to their win total. But we are below-average across the entire OF and at 2B ... and average in the pen. So it's really the rotation and the big 4 hitters. Given the projections this year were pretty unkind to Lester and Hendricks, I can see where the projections still expect the rotation to drop to average or worse.

Still, at this point, I'm expecting Hendricks to IBB a guy just to see if he can complete a game in fewer than 27 pitches.
   91. Spahn Insane Posted: May 15, 2019 at 12:41 AM (#5842167)
That's a reason to dislike the auto-IBB; it's possible, even if only in an absurd theoretical sense, that one could "pitch" a no-hitter without actually throwing a single pitch.
   92. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 15, 2019 at 11:56 AM (#5842292)
May 15:

1928 NYG turn 6 DP's vs the Cubs but lose 10-7
1960 Don Cardwell throws no hitter in his debut w/ the Cubs
1962 Barney Schultz, CHC, relieves his 9th straight game, tying Roy Face's record
1965 Dick Ellsworth 1-hitter could've gone better: 8th inning pinch hit HR gives opposing LA a 3-1 win over the Cubs
1989 Walkoff inside the park HR by Bob Dernier off Craig Lefferts
1996 last game: Scott Sanderson
1997 Cubs hits four triples, including 3 in one inning
2015 CHC 11, PIT 10 (12). Ends on bizarre walk-off trip by Gregory Polanco. 2 innings earlier, he threw Starlin Castro out at the plate

   93. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 15, 2019 at 01:22 PM (#5842343)
Hendricks has been unreal these last 3 starts (and actually 4 of 5, as his start before that DBacks stinker was also really good); even including that start he's gone 37IP, with a 1.95 ERA and a ridiculous 31/4 K/BB ratio. They've been so good, his season stats are already back to incredible and his FIP for the year is actually lower than it was during his incredible 2016.

Bryant's hot stretch already has him back up to 10th in all of MLB in fWAR; during his current 23 game on base streak, he's now hitting .309/.457/.679. That's the ridiculous type of performance I predicted for him this year (and last year, which he was doing before he got hurt).

I'm not exactly a fan of Maddon's Ryan as a LOOGY then go to Cishek to close out games. Mostly because it's multiple pitching changes and I wonder if either would be just fine if left in there.

Heyward's tumble back into Heywarddom continues unabated, but with his overall season line still giving the illusion of acceptability.
   94. noiseboy Posted: May 15, 2019 at 01:39 PM (#5842350)
ESPN reporting Zobrist personal leave due to divorce filings, no scheduled return.
   95. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 15, 2019 at 01:58 PM (#5842355)
Who gets custody of the walkup song?
   96. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: May 15, 2019 at 02:06 PM (#5842358)
Too bad for Zo. I guess no more National Anthems for soon to be ex-Mrs Zo.

Ugh, Darvish pitching tonight. Why couldn't he be going tomorrow or Friday when I can't watch anyway
   97. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 15, 2019 at 02:22 PM (#5842366)
Tonight's lineup is about as bad as you can get with this roster:

Heyward
Bryant
Baez
Schwarber
Bote
Almora
Russell
Davis
Darvish

Sub in Zagunis for Bryant and Descalso for Baez and you'd have the prototypical Dusty getaway day crew.
   98. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 15, 2019 at 03:08 PM (#5842406)
Just saw where Darvish has 8.1 BB/9. As you would expect, that’s easily the worst among qualifying pitchers. How bad it it? The second worst is 5.5.
   99. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 15, 2019 at 03:15 PM (#5842411)
FG just wrote about Darvish.

Just a reminder, Chatwood's BB/9 last year was 8.2. I'm still not buying "new" Chatwood, but maybe some combo/half½ starter of Chatwood/Montgomery will be less bad than Darvish. I still would wait and see a few more Yu starts (and by see, I really don't want to watch them, just look at the stats the next day).
   100. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: May 15, 2019 at 03:15 PM (#5842412)
Heyward
Bryant
Baez
Schwarber
Bote
Almora
Russell
Davis
Darvish


Double ugh.
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