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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 | 401 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 16, 2019 at 09:53 AM (#5842676)
Surprisingly that lineup got 5 runs, but the bullpen #### the bed. I'm also not sure of Maddon's exact plan last night - he's getting too LOOGYish with Ryan for my tastes, but it's not his fault everyone he brought in just wasn't sharp enough. OTOH, letting Brach hit for himself to lead off the 10th but PH for Schwarber with Contreras confuses me; it's one thing if he really wanted to give Contreras the whole night off (or at least off from catching), but then to change his mind mid inning? I'd rather Schwarber against a LHP than a RP against anyone. Oddly enough, the bullpen is 8 for 15 in save situations; well, not oddly, terribly even though overall they've been fine.

Heyward is 4 for his last 49; quite a bit of that has come since he was moved to leadoff (which I actually suggested before it happened).

   102. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 16, 2019 at 10:03 AM (#5842686)

Heyward is 4 for his last 49; quite a bit of that has come since he was moved to leadoff (which I actually suggested before it happened).


He took one for the team and volunteered to be a substitute host for whatever parasite Kris Bryant had to start the year.
   103. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 16, 2019 at 10:59 AM (#5842735)
I'm also not sure of Maddon's exact plan last night - he's getting too LOOGYish with Ryan for my tastes, but it's not his fault everyone he brought in just wasn't sharp enough. OTOH, letting Brach hit for himself to lead off the 10th but PH for Schwarber with Contreras confuses me; it's one thing if he really wanted to give Contreras the whole night off (or at least off from catching), but then to change his mind mid inning?
Joe's managering shat the bed last night. Wasting a LOOGY in a tie game in the 9th, then letting a reliever bat leading off the 10th?? That's dipshittery of the highest level.
   104. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: May 16, 2019 at 11:28 AM (#5842768)
May 16:

1942 2,000 hits: Billy Herman
1948 Reds take early 8-1 lead on Cubs, but blow it: 13-11
1949 Rick Reuschel born
1994 Sammy Sosa's last SH: 7,706 remaining PA in his career
1994 last game: Willie Wilson
1996 Sammy Sosa homers 2x in an inning
2000 Chad Kreuter hat night at Wrigley, jackass fan takes it and LAD players go into the stands
2001 400 homers: Sammy Sosa

   105. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 16, 2019 at 11:41 AM (#5842776)
Do you mean wasting Ryan (in the 8th)? I understand treating facing Votto as a LOOGY situation, but not quite sure why Ryan is the LOOGY and not Cedeno - I realize you're anti-LOOGY in general, so I won't belabor that point.

I think the first mistake was not double switching in Montgomery, because he should have gone more than just 2/3 of an inning. I'm not sure why he wanted/needed Brach to go a 2nd inning. I know the bench was short with Rizzo unavailable, but he still never used Zagunis, so that was mistake number 2 (or again, he could have planned ahead to double switch in when he brought Brach in). Maybe there were more pitchers unavailable than I realize (which would make the Monty move worse in retrospect), but I would guess all of Cedeno, Cishek, and Chatwood were available if needed based on recent usage.
   106. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 16, 2019 at 11:44 AM (#5842778)
Do you mean wasting Ryan (in the 8th)?
Yeah, sorry, I thought that was in the 9th. Even beyond the abomination that is the LOOGY in principle, it's just dumb to waste a pitcher on one batter late in a tie game, which becomes glaringly obvious when you then don't pinch-hit for the next reliever. I agree that he managered Monty out of the game, but at least that was earlier on when extra innings weren't staring him in the face.
   107. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 16, 2019 at 03:56 PM (#5842859)
The lineup randomizer is back, and its spectacular:

Jordan Bastian @MLBastian 13m13 minutes ago

Tonight’s Cubs 9...

1. Schwarber LF
2. Bryant 3B
3. Descalso 2B
4. Baez SS
5. Contreras C
6. Caratini 1B
7. Heyward RF
8. Almora CF
9. Quintana SP


Something tells me Joe didn't have that one ready before this series started.
   108. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 16, 2019 at 04:31 PM (#5842877)
Kyle's hitting for neither power nor average. OTOH, Rfield loves him. He's at +7 on the year.

This universe seems broken if he's going to SLG .388 and be a potential gold glover.
   109. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 16, 2019 at 04:36 PM (#5842883)
This universe seems broken if he's going to SLG .388 and be a potential gold glover.
Maybe it's just the introduction to the opposite sketches.
   110. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 17, 2019 at 12:33 PM (#5843111)
Michael Cerami @Michael_Cerami 7m7 minutes ago

Here are some FACTS.

Yu Darvish has the ...

- 18th best strikeout rate in MLB (28.7%)
- 4th lowest (best) hard-hit rate in MLB (26.7%)
- 22nd best GB% in MLB (49.5%)

If he can keep the command under control, he'll IMMEDIATELY become one of the better pitchers in baseball.


I don't know about his conclusion, and that's a big IF. He did look much better the other night (against another bad offense), but the 0 walks is the real takeaway. He still throws way too many pitches and tries to strike everyone out all the time.

Kyle's hitting for neither power nor average. OTOH, Rfield loves him. He's at +7 on the year.

He's had a few Schwarerrors recently, but a lot fewer assists (does he have any?). I thought a lot of his dWAR last year was due to those outs on the basepaths.

---

Last night was just bad offense. I mean, the Reds pitching was outstanding, seriously. Quintana wasn't bad, and had one bad inning again, but the Cubs were pretty lucky to get even those 2 runs (literally, that bounce off 3b was crazy).
   111. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 17, 2019 at 02:47 PM (#5843170)
Rizzo's back

Schwarber
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
Contreras
Descalso
Heyward
Almora
Hamels

I like seeing Almora out there just about every day now, if only for his defense. Doesn't help he's also hitting better than a number of other guys.
   112. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 17, 2019 at 03:30 PM (#5843191)
I like seeing Almora out there just about every day now, if only for his defense. Doesn't help he's also hitting better than a number of other guys.


I also like seeing Almora playing regularly and starting to hit reasonably well.

Meanwhile, isn't it getting to be about time to bring Ian Happ back up? Neither Schwarber nor Heyward are hitting all that well and, frankly, one of them should probably always be sitting against a lefty starter. Mark Zagunis has become the forgotten man - and it's hard to blame Maddon for not playing him; he's not really a major-league caliber corner outfielder. I know Joe's done some Bote-Baez-Russell with Bryant in the OF - and having to cover for Rizzo at 1B obviously shortened the bench a lot. But the Cubs kind of feel like they're an outfielder short right now.
   113. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 17, 2019 at 04:37 PM (#5843206)
For his season at AAA, Happ is hitting .228/.358/.368 with 4HRs and a 37/26 K/BB ratio in 165PAs. I do believe he got off to a horrible start*, so it's been better lately. I'm sure the Cubs asked him to work on specific things (ie cutting down on the Ks), but that doesn't scream like a guy who's ready to come back and get regular playing time.

*Nope, I'm wrong. He's been pretty terrible this month. He's been slightly better against LHP than RHP (which is the opposite of what he's been so far in his big league career). So everything about his year in Iowa looks weird and not good so far.

Phillip Evans, who had a nice spring, might be the guy who's bat might be worth a look: .282/.434/.496. He's 26, not really a prospect, but he's not on the 40 man so there'd have to be a corresponding move to get him up. Him, or Dixon Machado, who's in a similar boat as Evans. Of course, neither are OFs. Donnie Dewes and Johnny Field are only ok so far, but they're OFers. Considering the offensive surge in AAA and the facts the IA Cubs are in the PCL, it's actually kinda disappointing to not see anyone on that team having that good of a season hitting so far.

As I'm glancing at that page, I happened to see Duensing's numbers, and oh boy. I commend him for sticking it out, but kinda hard to not think he's just complete toast.

tl; dr, it's probably more likely the Cubs look outside the org than bring up anyone currently in AAA.
   114. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 17, 2019 at 05:24 PM (#5843227)
For his season at AAA, Happ is hitting .228/.358/.368 with 4HRs and a 37/26 K/BB ratio in 165PAs ... [and] [h]e's been pretty terrible this month.


Fair enough. It was more an observation that the Cubs feel like they're an outfielder short with Zobrist on the restricted list and Zagunis nailed to the bench (as he probably should be). I don't know what the deal is there, but yeah, that line certainly doesn't scream "promote me!"
   115. Walt Davis Posted: May 17, 2019 at 07:01 PM (#5843241)
the bullpen is 8 for 15 in save situations

Team save ratios can be misleading. If the pen loses the lead in the 7th or 8th inning, it's a "blown save" but if they hold the lead, it's a "hold". Given current pen strategies, the pen is liable for a blown save in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings but only eligible for a successful save in the 9th. Alternatively, if you're up 1 after 6, it takes 3 scoreless innings (or scoring some runs but not too many) to record a team save.

And whaddya know, b-r tracks "save situations" The Cubs have 35 save situations with 17 holds and 8 saves ... which is probably not great but probably not bad. Note, for reasons I don't understand, it's 35 save situations with 17 holds, 8 saves and 7 blown saves which adds up to just 32 ... ahh, you don't get a hold if you don't retire a batter so those are Ryan's and Cishek's failed LOOGy/ROOGy outings.

For comparison, Houston's pen has the most WAA so far. They have 33 save situations with 18 holds, 12 saves and 3 BS ... which is nuts, that would be a good save %age for a 1-inning closer. Also if have LOOGy'd/ROOGy'd, they've at least gotten an out.
   116. Meatwad Posted: May 17, 2019 at 11:28 PM (#5843334)
After tonight I hearby proclaim Kris Bryant as fixed.
   117. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 18, 2019 at 11:37 AM (#5843368)
Everything except the haircut.
   118. Walt Davis Posted: May 20, 2019 at 02:56 AM (#5843695)
Everything except the haircut.

Don't touch the hair! Probably one of those Dorian Gray things where the uglier the hair gets, the better the bat gets.
   119. Walt Davis Posted: May 20, 2019 at 03:00 AM (#5843697)
Sean Doolittle on Maddon and Saturday's kerfuffle ...

"It was kinda tired. Sometimes he has to remind people how smart he is."
   120. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 20, 2019 at 10:34 AM (#5843728)
I think Doolittle has a point - and a totally understandable reaction - but I also see Maddon's side of making a big show for CJ's sake. They're totally different moves, but Maddon is and always will be the rules stickler guy. Whatever. Doolittle is one of those potential "closers" the Cubs might try and trade for at some point though.

---

Sucks both Lester and Hendricks got semi-shelled. Neither are really a surprise considering how they really so much on control and deception. It was obvious Lester didn't have it from the start; Hendricks looked amazing first time through so his struggles appeared to come out of nowhere.

---

Fun with cherry picking:
Bryant's last 23 games: .318/.454/.753
Rizzo's last 23 games: .307/.415/.670
Contreras's last 23 games: .309/.389/.543
Baez's last 23 games: .323/.365/.552

Man, that's been a fun run.

Bote's last 23 games: .218/.303/.372
Heyward's last 23 games: .169/.237/.292
Descalso's last 23 games: .127/.197/.200

Yuck.

Almora's last 23 games: .320/.338/.573. That's fewer PAs that most everyone else, and not a lot of patience and probably lots of luck (he doesn't hit the ball in the air a ton). Regardless, he is the one OF that should be in the lineup every damn day at this point.
Schwarber's last 23 games: .254/.404/.423. I mean, that's basically a leadoff hitter.
   121. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 20, 2019 at 01:05 PM (#5843809)
When the Cubs are at their best, they’re doing exactly what Maddon said: going to the opposite field. It’s a thing of beauty to watch and after Sunday’s 6-5 win over the Nationals, they led all of baseball with a .702 slugging percentage to the opposite field. The gap between the Cubs and the second team, the Tampa Bay Rays at .599, is the same between the Rays and the 15th team on this list. In Sunday’s 8-5 victory over the Nationals, they delivered four extra-base hits, two to the opposite field.

But when the Cubs don’t stick to their approach with runners in scoring position, the offense wanes. Since May 6, the beginning of the Marlins series, the Cubs are 29th in baseball with runners in scoring position in wRC+ (39) and batting average (.159). They also don’t strike out much in those situations, just 16.2 percent of the time, which is 28th. So they’re putting the ball in play, but their .162 BABIP (28th during that stretch) is resulting in missed opportunities. And while that number is lower than it should be if they had even average luck, it’s not totally unearned. During that span, they’re 28th in hard contact (26.4 percent) and fifth in groundball rate (55.2 percent).

And, to prove Maddon’s point, they’re pulling the ball 51.4 percent of the time in those situations, which is tops in baseball.


good stuff
   122. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 20, 2019 at 03:34 PM (#5843878)
Sports Info Solutions @SportsInfo_SIS

Highest Hard-Hit Rate - Minimum 90 at-bats
Hunter Pence 43%
Christian Yelich 43%
Anthony Rendon 43%
Cody Bellinger 43%
Justin Turner 42%
Carlos Santana 42%
Tommy La Stella 42%
Yadier Molina 41%

Our hard hit rate is: number of hard-hit balls/at-bats


This TLS thing will never make sense to me.

---

I haven't seen anything about how Javy is feeling today, but he's not in the lineup:

Schwarber
Bryant
Rizzo
Caratini
Heyward
Almora
Descalso
Russell
Darvish

Oh, boy.
   123. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 20, 2019 at 06:59 PM (#5843999)
A more recent CT scan revealed a hairline fracture for Nico Hoerner in his wrist. He'll be in a splint for three weeks and out at least a month.


No chance of seeing him this year now, methinks.

Strop threw 25 pitches in a side today and will have another in a couple days. Morrow threw from 45-60 feet flat ground today and came out of it fine.
   124. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: May 20, 2019 at 07:02 PM (#5844000)
Morrow threw from 45-60 feet flat ground today and came out of it fine.


Except for a mild case of dropsy and acute hammer toes.
   125. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 20, 2019 at 07:58 PM (#5844012)
Schwarber
Bryant
Rizzo
Caratini
Heyward
Almora
Descalso
Russell
Darvish

Oh, boy.


Yikes! When Victor Caratini is your cleanup hitter - and Victor Caratini is probably your best choice for cleanup hitter - that's not ideal. Although Caratini is batting .471/.571/.824 this season so, maybe?
   126. Brian C Posted: May 20, 2019 at 09:47 PM (#5844029)
Sean Doolittle on Maddon and Saturday's kerfuffle ...

"It was kinda tired. Sometimes he has to remind people how smart he is."

I had no idea that Elroy was actually Sean Doolittle!
   127. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 21, 2019 at 11:32 AM (#5844185)
What a frustrating loss. The Cubs got pretty lucky on the Schwarber triple (that he eventually scored on) and the Descalso little league HR (for the other 3 runs), but terrible unlucky with a bunch of the Phillies hits - the game tying single, the triple that bounched on the top of the pad over Heyward, and most of all the blown check swing call that would have ended the game (that's especially annoying since the Cubs had that Angels game end on Schwarber's check swing that was more checked than that one instead of it being the game tying walk). Hopefully those 2 games don't come back to bite the Cubs down the stretch - or at least hopefully they get some good luck to cancel those out.

---

Also a shame for Darvish, since once again he was pitching so well. Unlike the last start, he was pretty efficient with his pitches for quite a while and it looked like he was going to go pretty deep. The offense couldn't push across more runs after multiple chances, and he unraveled a little at the end (again though, some of that was bad luck - but his control was really starting to go at the end).
   128. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: May 21, 2019 at 11:43 AM (#5844191)
(that's especially annoying since the Cubs had that Angels game end on Schwarber's check swing that was more checked than that one instead of it being the game tying walk)


I agree that check swing call last night was egregious, and Schwarber's was bad as well, but it would not have tied the game. The Cubs had runners on second and third at the time.
   129. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 21, 2019 at 01:22 PM (#5844261)
Damn, that's right.

---

Bruce Levine @MLBBruceLevine 6m6 minutes ago

Maddon still not sure where Baez is physically . He hopes to start him Wednesday


Uh, what? Let's recap this timeline again:
-Sunday: fine, removed to be safe, he can play Monday.
-Monday: just getting a day off, can PH, should be back tomorrow.
-Tuesday: Who knows, hopefully back tomorrow.

I'm surely overreacting, but I'm also having flashbacks to last year and Bryant's "concussion" and shoulder.
   130. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 21, 2019 at 01:26 PM (#5844267)
“Right on schedule,” Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said Monday during a wide-ranging interview about the team’s vision for Marquee. “We’ll be ready for February.”

Not only that, but Kenney said the Cubs’ payroll should immediately see a boost. After this season, there should be money for Theo Epstein and his staff to sign free agents or their own players to big-money extensions. That’s good news for the baseball operations department, which dealt with a well-publicized budget crunch this past winter.

“Those additional resources are available immediately next year,” Kenney said. “The team has a rights fee significantly higher than what they’re receiving today, so that’s from the start. Then there’s the question on the network side of what profits are enjoyed, if any, (so) they could also be used for investment in the team or other assets around the ballpark or other interests of the (Ricketts) family. That’s probably a little further down the road. But from the team’s perspective, the rights agreement that they’ve got in place with (Marquee) will give them more resources next year than they had today.”


That's quite the statement on the payroll. Too bad the FA class doesn't exactly line up that nicely; at least not as nicely as this past season. I'd love to see Bryant/Baez/Contreras extensions regardless.
   131. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 21, 2019 at 01:57 PM (#5844288)
That's quite the statement on the payroll.

I'm not sure about that.

After this season, there should be money for Theo Epstein and his staff to sign free agents or their own players to big-money extensions.


It's not an "and."
   132. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 21, 2019 at 02:21 PM (#5844307)
I didn't mean to imply it was - besides that's Mooney and not Crane there.

It's just interesting to hear the business side say flat out the payroll will go up, especially after everything they said this offseason.
   133. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 21, 2019 at 02:35 PM (#5844314)
“Those additional resources are available immediately next year,” Kenney said. “The team has a rights fee significantly higher than what they’re receiving today, so that’s from the start. Then there’s the question on the network side of what profits are enjoyed, if any, (so) they could also be used for investment in the team or other assets around the ballpark or other interests of the (Ricketts) family. That’s probably a little further down the road. But from the team’s perspective, the rights agreement that they’ve got in place with (Marquee) will give them more resources next year than they had today.”


Is there any chance they can start spending some of that money a little early and go get Craig Kimbrel?
   134. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 21, 2019 at 02:48 PM (#5844320)
Schwarber
Bryant
Rizzo
Contreras
Heyward
Almora
Descalso
Russell
Quintana

It just looks *wrong* without Baez again.
   135. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: May 21, 2019 at 04:26 PM (#5844352)
I know it's way too early to look at this stuff, however, the Cubs will see the following contracts expire after this season (2019 salaries are listed):

Hamels $20,000,000
Zobrist $14,000,000
Morrow $10,500,000
Cishek $6,500,000
Strop $6,250,000
Kintzler $5,000,000

That's $62,250,000 which is a lot of scratch. The notable Arb guys will be:

Bryant $12.9 and heading into Arb 3
Baez $5.2 and heading into Arb 2
Russell $3.4 and heading into Arb 3
Schwarber $3.4 and heading into Arb 2
Montgomery $2.5 and heading into Arb 2
Edwards $1.5 and heading into Arb 2
Contreras heading into Arb 1
Almora heading into Arb 1

Hendricks will get about a $5.0 raise due to his contract and Bote will get about a $2.5 raise but these are basically offset by Lester's $7.5 salary drop. There are a few other pay changes here and there or one or two million. There also will be some buyouts on guys like Morrow.

I haven't really looked into the option situations for guys like Quintana and Rizzo so I don't know what their pay will be next year. But the payroll situation looks better than I would have guessed before I took a peek.
   136. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 21, 2019 at 05:14 PM (#5844365)
Quintana has a $10.5mil option, then FA after 2020. That's the same salary as this year.
Rizzo has $14.5mil option for the next 2 years, then FA after 2021. That's a $3mil raise for Rizzo.

Chatwood is also a FA after 2020, and Lester has a $25mil mutual option (or $10mil buyout).

Obviously the Cubs gotta hope they don't have to keep paying retail for SP, but they're still probably going to be spending most of the FA money on pitching the next few years. Getting one or two (honestly, I hope for all 3*) of the big guns signed to extension would really help clarify the available money.

*I've now come around on thinking Javy should be the priority; KB is going to cost the most/least likely to sign an extension and Contreras is far enough away and at such an age I'm not sure there's a real rush to lock him up to big money.
   137. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: May 21, 2019 at 10:43 PM (#5844484)
-Sunday: fine, removed to be safe, he can play Monday.
-Monday: just getting a day off, can PH, should be back tomorrow.
-Tuesday: Who knows, hopefully back tomorrow.


The "available to PH" part seems to have worked out well today, at least.
   138. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 22, 2019 at 04:37 PM (#5844733)
Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma 26m26 minutes ago

Xavier Cedeño to IL with left wrist inflammation. Rowan Wick coming up from Iowa. Wick has a 2.84 ERA, 31.7% K rate and 6.3% walk rate in 19 IP at Triple-A this year


Cedeno hasn't been good at all yet, and was hurt all ST, so I guess this isn't surprising.

The pen has really looked bad lately:

Overall, the bullpen has a solid enough 3.97 ERA, 11th in baseball. But they’re only striking out 23.4 percent of batters (20th) and they’re walking an MLB-worst 13.4 percent. Like the struggles with runners in scoring position, that walk rate has been a consistent issue for Cubs relievers for years now and must be corrected. They’ve had strong ERAs over the years, but the free passes will inevitably catch up to them.

On Tuesday, Carl Edwards Jr. came in to hold a 1-0 lead in the seventh and exited with runners on second and third and two outs. Brandon Kintzler relieved Edwards and promptly gave up a groundball single up the middle to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead. Kintzler got the blown save – the Cubs’ ninth of the year, tied for second-most in baseball – but it’s Edwards whose role remains a huge question.


hmmm:
And while the Cubs are surely monitoring the trade market and keeping eyes on potential targets, their pro scouts likely won’t be sitting on specific players for another few weeks. The bigger names won’t be moved just yet. Sure, Craig Kimbrel could be had after the amateur draft for nothing but the price of his contract, but who knows how long it takes him to be ready for game action and just how effective he’ll be after a long layoff. And would the Cubs even be willing to meet his price? Despite the tight offseason budget, the Cubs set aside a healthy amount for additions mid-season. Either way, they’ll need to hold it down with what they have for at least a few more weeks.


   139. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 22, 2019 at 05:05 PM (#5844743)
Javy's back. He looked a little tender last night, and it was interesting Joe held him back to that spot in the 9th. No harm done though, it appears.

Schwarber
Bryant RF
Rizzo
Baez
Contreras
Almora
Russell
Bote 3b
Hamels
   140. Brian C Posted: May 23, 2019 at 01:24 AM (#5844827)
Chatwood had another effective long-relief appearance tonight. He's been a genuine asset so far this season. I'm not sure still how long it'll last - his peripherals are not great! - but when he came into the game tonight, I have to acknowledge that I felt good about it and he didn't let me down.
   141. Man o' Schwar Posted: May 23, 2019 at 01:32 AM (#5844830)
Chatwood had another effective long-relief appearance tonight. He's been a genuine asset so far this season. I'm not sure still how long it'll last - his peripherals are not great! - but when he came into the game tonight, I have to acknowledge that I felt good about it and he didn't let me down.

He seems to have real value as an old-time long reliever - someone who can come in and keep the game close for 3-4 innings on days when the starter leaves early. I like it, it's not a role you see much of any more, but the Cubs have some starters who are prone to racking up big pitch counts in 4-5 innings. I could see Chatwood getting 100-120+ innings on the season just in picking up the group once each time through the rotation.
   142. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 23, 2019 at 10:05 AM (#5844873)
That's very similar to Montgomery's usage the last couple of years. I'm also all for it. I still don't like seeing him in high leverage situations, and am not anxious to see him rejoin the rotation, but I can live with this role.

Was it me, or did Javy look really slow defensively last night? Or maybe is was just the Cubs overshifted against righties more than usual and a bunch of ground balls got through the SS side of 2b that normally Javy would at least make a play on (instead of just kinda wave at it as it rolls into CF).

Almora is on quite the hot streak right now - .337/.360/.602 his last 24 games. He's an every day CF at this point; oddly enough, he has an extreme reverse platoon right now (.827OPS vs RHP and .590 vs LHP; which is not how the previous years of his career have gone).

Javy took his 11th walk last night (he also has 2 IBB) - his career high is 21. He might get there by the AS break. He hit 3 bWAR yesterday (though Bryant has now passed him in OPS+; Bryant also passed Contreras in bWAR).
   143. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 23, 2019 at 10:45 AM (#5844892)
Bryant with what I'm guessing is a scheduled off day:

Schwarber
Baez
Rizzo
Contreras
Heyward
Almora
Descalso
Lester
Bote

Cubs needs at least one of Heyward/Descalso/Bote to stop being a complete zero offensively. I'm glad this Schwarber as leadoff guy appears to be working this time.
   144. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 23, 2019 at 10:46 AM (#5844893)
Michael Cerami @Michael_Cerami 7m7 minutes ago

Since April 25th, Kyle Schwarber is slashing a fantastic .257/.402/.459 - the 19.6 BB% looks great in front of Bryzzo and Baezeras ...

BUT DUDE CHECK THIS OUT:

11.5% soft-hit rate
40.4% hard-hit rate
41.2% fly-ball rate
33.3% ground ball rate

Those are all REALLY good signs.
   145. Brian C Posted: May 23, 2019 at 01:31 PM (#5844998)
Was it me, or did Javy look really slow defensively last night? Or maybe is was just the Cubs overshifted against righties more than usual and a bunch of ground balls got through the SS side of 2b that normally Javy would at least make a play on (instead of just kinda wave at it as it rolls into CF).

I thought so - I don't think he got to a ball all last night that wasn't hit right at him. But it would be weird if his heel wasn't still bothering him at least a little - he said after the game Tuesday night that it still hurt.
   146. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 24, 2019 at 10:47 AM (#5845312)
Schwarber
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
Heyward ?!?!
Caratini
Descalso
Almora
Hendricks

Heyward did have 4 walks yesterday (should have been 5, save that AWFUL strike 1 call in the 9th), but he's not hitting still. He's going to come up with guys on, and they're not going to score.
   147. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 24, 2019 at 11:09 AM (#5845330)
Jordan Bastian @MLBastian 12m12 minutes ago

Cubs add a fresh arm to bullpen after two heavy bullpen games in a row. RHP James Norwood recalled from AAA, and RHP Rowan Wick optioned to same affiliate.


Wick got what, one appearance? Had some bad luck in it too.
   148. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 25, 2019 at 12:09 PM (#5845584)
LHP Tim Collins and RHP Dillon Maples recalled, OF Mark Zaginis and RHP James Norwood optioned. The bullpen carousel continues.


One good turn for Norwood. The bulloen is ragged and bad at the moment. Cishek had been so good too, probably just completely overused.
   149. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 26, 2019 at 09:23 PM (#5845850)
I don't know what y'all think of musical theater, but there's a musical playing at the Royal George (Halsted, just north of North) called Miracle about the 2016 Cubs. My son and I went this afternoon and really enjoyed it. Here's the Chicago Tribune review of Miracle: A Musical 108 Years in the Making
   150. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 27, 2019 at 11:31 AM (#5845893)
The #Cubs today selected the contract of INF/OF Jim Adduci from @IowaCubs. LHP Tim Collins was optioned to Triple-A following yesterday’s game.


Adduci is hitting 5th today and playing RF. Both Bryant and heyward are out after yesterday's collision (which was Bryant's fault). Javy at DH today.

Astros lineup also looks weird with a bunch of their guys hurt too.
   151. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 28, 2019 at 11:28 AM (#5846132)
I think I'm a little worried about Hamels after yesterday. The bullpen was better, but after a pretty poor week+. I'm still pulling hard for Maples to stick and figure things out, he'd be such a weapon.

Rizzo is on quite the run - .375/.460/.792 his last 24 games (11HRs). I don't know what's gotten into Almora, but again, I think he should be playing every damn day at this point.
   152. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 28, 2019 at 05:29 PM (#5846258)
No Bryant again tonight, but Heyward is back.

This is going to be like his non-concussion or shoulder thing from last year, isn't it? They ran into each other good, but it didn't really look like Bryant hit his head that hard. Maybe he's got weak bones or something.
   153. Zonk is Back Where He Came From Posted: May 28, 2019 at 05:38 PM (#5846261)
My first thought was "Jim Adducci had a kid who is already AAAA fodder like his dad?".

Upon finding out this is the same Jim Adducci who was mainly in his mid 20s and could play CF in the Cubs system like 15 years ago.... my second thought is that my brain is filled with far too many worthless things to remember.

   154. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 28, 2019 at 06:36 PM (#5846272)
Sahadev Sharma @sahadevsharma 3m3 minutes ago

KB signing some autographs for kids. He's been hitting in the cage, throwing, and taking some grounders. Still not ready to start and unlikely to be available off the bench tonight. Back in the lineup Wednesday is a possibility.


The dance has begun.
   155. Walt Davis Posted: May 28, 2019 at 10:46 PM (#5846349)
I was expecting the Cubs to go to Houston and get creamed ... at least the offense has shown up well for the first two games.

Bote is doing fine again but Descalso just needs to be put into the Jonathan Herrera Memorial one start a month role. Anyway, his OPS+ is down to 52 now, how much longer can Joe trot him out there?
   156. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 28, 2019 at 10:52 PM (#5846351)
Anyway, his OPS+ is down to 52 now, how much longer can Joe trot him out there?


I still can't bring myself to root for him. But Russell had an OPS+ of 117 entering today and he has a HR and a walk today. I would guess that we're looking at Russell as the full-time 2B going forward here.
   157. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 28, 2019 at 11:09 PM (#5846355)
Pulling up the Cubs' BB-Ref page to look up Russell's OPS+, their starting outfield is pretty interesting. Entering play today (so, through Monday's game in Houston), the Cubs' three regular OF have OPS's of .743, .742, and .742 with 68, 67, and 66 total bases. Almora has the best batting average (.260) but the lowest OBP (.301) because he doesn't take a walk. But he has the highest SLG of the three (.442) - although Schwarber has a higher ISO (.190 to .182). Oh, and moving beyond sabermetric stats, they have (had?) 25, 24, and 24 runs scored and 20, 19, and 19 RBI.
   158. Red Voodooin Posted: May 28, 2019 at 11:13 PM (#5846356)
I still can't bring myself to root for him. But Russell had an OPS+ of 117 entering today and he has a HR and a walk today. I would guess that we're looking at Russell as the full-time 2B going forward here.


Well, I'm certainly not rooting against him and it's nice to see him performing well. It makes me wonder why he is not the SS (with Baez at 2B)? I guess it probably doesn't matter and they both project to be +gloves at either position, but the numbers suggest Russell has been pretty damn valuable as a defensive SS during his run. If Russell is going to OPS+ 117 going forward (a big if, of course) then it makes sense to me to plant him at SS and let Baez take 2B and bounce over to 3B or SS about 35% of the time.
   159. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 29, 2019 at 10:58 AM (#5846434)
I was expecting the Cubs to go to Houston and get creamed ... at least the offense has shown up well for the first two games.

It still hurts, considering Altuve, Springer, and Correa are all out. The Cubs have 8 home runs in the 2 games, but only 11 runs. Considering they have such a high team OBP, that's almost just plain unlucky they haven't scored more. Also, Javy has 8Ks in the 2 games - maybe he just can't mentally deal with being a DH.

It makes me wonder why he is not the SS (with Baez at 2B)? I guess it probably doesn't matter and they both project to be +gloves at either position, but the numbers suggest Russell has been pretty damn valuable as a defensive SS during his run. If Russell is going to OPS+ 117 going forward (a big if, of course) then it makes sense to me to plant him at SS and let Baez take 2B and bounce over to 3B or SS about 35% of the time.

The answer is pretty damn obvious here, isn't it? Why are you going to have the MVP candidate move around so a part time player can start at their preferred position? I don't mean that in a Jeter/ARod situation, especially since Bryant won his MVP bouncing all over the place. Also, while Russell still is only 25 and had a good pedigree coming in, he's been a fulltime player for 4 years so I'm not even considering moving Baez off SS for Russell fulltime anytime soon no matter how well he's temporarily hitting. I'm not convinced he's a better SS glove than Javy, and with Bote likely a plus at 2b&3b; and Russell just fine at 2b&SS;, I'm fine with the current allotment of PT. Russell probably should play more over Descalso, but I'm not changing anything more drastic for him based on on-field results just yet.

Of course, I'd still rather he weren't on the team.
   160. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 29, 2019 at 04:05 PM (#5846587)
So much for my opinions, unless they think Javy still isn't 100% and they think he has less ground to cover there (which considering Bote is at 2b, I'm guessing that's the thought process):

Schwarber
Bryant DH (good)
Rizzo
Baez 3b
Contreras
Almora
Heyward
Russell SS
Bote 2b

Miley is a LHP, and Schwarber is still leadoff. I approve (I think he's now started at leadoff against the last 2 LHP SP the Cubs have faced).
   161. Red Voodooin Posted: May 29, 2019 at 09:15 PM (#5846662)
The answer is pretty damn obvious here, isn't it? Why are you going to have the MVP candidate move around so a part time player can start at their preferred position?


Yes, it's obvious he lost his starting shortstop job because of the off-field stuff. It's possible the Cubs would have made a swap in a world where that didn't happen, but it's pretty unlikely. And when the heck did Russell get categorized as a "part-time player" in your eyes and why? (rhetorical question, I know why). He's been a regular since the day he was called up, and the regular shortstop since August 2015.

Let's imagine a couple hypothetical scenarios, both of which suppose the off-field stuff never happened and decisions are being made solely for 'trying to win baseball games' reasons. Scenario A supposes that Russell doesn't get suspended and plays out last year and starts the 2019 season normally. Scenario B imagines that instead of being suspended, Russell suffered an injury or multiple injuries that led him to miss the final eight games last year and the first 32 this year.

In scenario A, we certainly might have seen Russell temporarily lose his 'everyday SS' role, because he was hitting very poorly, the Cubs had acquired Daniel Murphy, etc. In the final weeks of the regular season and during the playoffs, Russell likely would not have started every game because of the way his bat was playing. However, when he did start, I submit, it would have been at SS, with Baez sliding back to 2B. And in this scenario, I believe Russell would have been the starting SS on opening day 2019.

In scenario B, we might be looking at something similar to what we are seeing today, but once Russell proved he was healthy again (and was hitting at or near career norms), I think he would have been be back at SS rather quickly.


I'm not convinced he's a better SS glove than Javy


I'm not necessarily convinced of this either, because Javy is an elite defender, too, but you are really underselling Russell's demonstrated defensive value. Russell was second among all MLB shortstops in Defensive Runs Saved per fangraphs in 2016, 2017 AND 2018. He is an elite defensive shortstop and has accumulated more "value" in the field than Baez during their respective careers.

Of course, I'd still rather he weren't on the team.


Thanks for the reminder. I had forgotten where you stood.
   162. Walt Davis Posted: May 29, 2019 at 09:17 PM (#5846663)
Yeah, the defensive lineup is a bit weird today. Have they commented? Until they do, I'll guess it's just that Joe is still a bit worried about Javy's owie affecting his range but obviously not his arm. Once he's back 100%, I'm pretty sure he'll be back at either 2B or SS. I've said before that if Russell will be part-time, then just keep Javy at SS. But given neither Descalso nor Zobrist is hitting, Russell probably needs to be full-time (as these things go) with Bote playing the floater (Bote should be getting some practice time at 1B while we're at it).

One thing that surprised me looking at it this postseason was that, even before this year, Javy had more starts away from 2B than at 2B and only 27 fewer at SS than 2B. He now has more career starts at SS than 2B. Between regular rest, maybe his bat and of course his injuries/suspension, Russell has missed a lot of time the last few years.

Almora has now started 18 of the last 20, that's as full-time as Joe gets -- 265/306/544 with 5 HR in that span so he's given Joe no reason to sit him especially given the other performances. He should be pretty secure at least until/unless Zobrist comes back and goes on a tear (or Happ starts tearing up AAA -- 236/354/416 so we've got a while to wait).

What sort of leave is Zobrist on anyway? B-R doesn't list him on the 40-man or on the 60-day. Can you move players off the 40 for personal reasons without exposing them to waivers or putting them on the 60-day IL?
   163. Meatwad Posted: May 29, 2019 at 10:55 PM (#5846684)
Restricted list.
   164. Kiko Sakata Posted: May 29, 2019 at 10:56 PM (#5846685)
What sort of leave is Zobrist on anyway? B-R doesn't list him on the 40-man or on the 60-day. Can you move players off the 40 for personal reasons without exposing them to waivers or putting them on the 60-day IL?


I think the term they used was that Zobrist is on the "restricted list". I read something today that this meant he wasn't getting paid, although I have no idea if that's true, but I'm not sure I'd ever heard of the "restricted list" before Zobrist was placed on it.
   165. Javy Joan Baez (chris h.) Posted: May 30, 2019 at 01:09 AM (#5846712)
Near as I can determine, the restricted list is used for a number of things. Normally yes, players are not paid (though if they're put there for violations of the joint domestic violence/sexual assault/child abuse policy, they may be paid while the investigation is ongoing. It's really up to the club as to whether they pay the person, from what I can tell.

Players on the restricted list do not count against the active or reserve roster.
   166. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 30, 2019 at 10:59 AM (#5846767)
670 The Score @670TheScore

#Cubs don't want to "yo-yo" Ian Happ up and down from big leagues to Triple-A, Jed Hoyer says, which is why they called Jim Adduci up recently over Happ. The team is keeping the big picture in mind for Happ.

"He keeps making progress," Hoyer says. "He's had a great attitude."


MLB Stats @MLBStats 12h12 hours ago

.@kylehendricks28 is the first pitcher since @ClaytonKersh22 (May, 2016) with four starts of 8+ IP and 1 ER or less in a month.
   167. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: May 30, 2019 at 11:14 AM (#5846777)
I wouldn't be surprised if Russell is at 2B at least partially due to public relations.

If they plant him back at SS, some people will yell "you gave the abuser his job back like nothing happened!"

   168. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 30, 2019 at 11:21 AM (#5846784)
I wouldn't be surprised if Russell is at 2B at least partially due to public relations.

If they plant him back at SS, some people will yell "you gave the abuser his job back like nothing happened!"
"Oh, but playing him 50 feet to the left? That's fine."

Not so sure that holds up...
   169. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 30, 2019 at 11:22 AM (#5846786)
Yes, it's obvious he lost his starting shortstop job because of the off-field stuff. It's possible the Cubs would have made a swap in a world where that didn't happen, but it's pretty unlikely. And when the heck did Russell get categorized as a "part-time player" in your eyes and why? (rhetorical question, I know why). He's been a regular since the day he was called up, and the regular shortstop since August 2015.

Those hypotheticals don't really interest me because you don't have to go there to still call him a part time player. No, he's a part time player right now because he's playing part time. He's a part time player because the Cubs kept him in AAA after his suspension ended, and only called him up because Zobrist left. He's a part time player because he has a career OPS+ of 88. He's a part time player because the Cubs acquired Daniel Murphy last August before the off-field stuff happened (I guess there's a chance the Cubs knew something was coming before everything went public) and Russell was a part time player/defensive replacement then. He lost his job before that #### happened.

He plays, and can be worth playing, because of his glove; that's also the main reason he was given lots of chances as his offense continued to tank. But when there's a guy who might be his equal with the glove that is actually hitting, that guy gets to stay ahead of him. Then you add in the off field #### on top, and here we are.

Now, the fact that Zobrist is gone and Descalso can't hit obviously complicates things right now. Bote is just as streaky, and far from a guarantee that he's better than Russell offensively.

Yes, I will admit I'm more outspoken on Russell because of the off-field stuff, but I have been down on him since before that:
Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: September 10, 2018 at 12:09 PM (#5741575)
What's the consensus on Russell? The emergence of Baez has sort of taken the spotlight off Russell having another rough season. 2016 seemed like he was set to bust out, but it's been really nothing but disappointment from him since.

There doesn't seem to be one, but it's getting harder and harder to see how his bat develops into a true plus. He is still only 24, so it's likely there still is development in there. His BB% rate is up a little this year (but not as high as 2016) and his K% is down (career low), which are good things. Like a number of other people, his power completely cratered. His BsR numbers are also a career best, but some of his defensive metrics are also down. The biggest other thing I see is that he's not pulling the ball like he used to (only 29% when he's always been above 40%), so I don't know if that means there's an approach reason for some of these changes and if they're related.

He's been banged up a lot - last year too - so maybe even the optimistic view that it's just injuries might imply he's an injury prone guy.

I think there's a chance the Cubs could try to move him this offseason, but I think Javy being able to play multiple spots is a good thing so you'd have to really be blown away by an offer, and considering he's at a low point in his value I'm not sure why a team would be that aggressive to target him. I'm fine approaching this offseason with him on the bench and being a defensive replacement (he is better than Javy at SS, and Murhpy is bad at 2b). Long term, I dunno.


My opinion on their relative merits at SS has changed some - I think some of that is seeing Javy play at SS every day for an extended period. I've also always wondered about the defensive metrics with Javy and him not ever staying in one position, I've consistently felt they undersold his value (I've talked multiple times about him being able to be a worthy gold glove winner at any of SS, 2b or 3b if he ever got to play a full season at one - so another selfish reason for me to prefer Javy there is to see him get a shot at that GG this year).
   170. Meatwad Posted: May 30, 2019 at 01:38 PM (#5846831)
Cubs signed CarGo who the indians just released to a minor league deal. Maybe he can take descalso's role a crappy grizzled vet.
   171. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 30, 2019 at 01:55 PM (#5846842)
Yeah, I don't see where CarGo fits on the roster, at least not one where Almora and Schwarber are hitting (if his bat were to bounce back at all, which isn't likely - though I do believe he's a notorious slow starter - yeah, he makes sense as a PH option and/or makes more sense than Adducci/Zagunis/whatever, but he's probably not taking Descalso's roster spot* or PT from the Heyward slumps)

*2yr guaranteed contract. I could see them dumping him in the offseason if he stays this terrible, might be harder for them to do in season unless Zobrist comes back.

Daren Willman @darenw 4h4 hours ago

Kyle Hendricks threw 2 pitches 90 MPH+ yesterday vs the Astros.... He hasn't done that since 10/22/2016 vs the Dodgers in the playoffs.
   172. Zonk is Back Where He Came From Posted: May 30, 2019 at 02:39 PM (#5846862)
Cargo is only 33.... but he hasn't been worth a corner OF spot since 2016... at least, not without actually working your way into his monthly splits and deciding that so long as you can skip the cold starts....
   173. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 30, 2019 at 03:38 PM (#5846889)
I realized halfway through my post that either Zagunis or Aducci have been on the roster all season, which sort of negated my point. I guess the current roster could fit CarGo, but he's not the best option for that spot. I really don't think the Cubs expected Happ to struggle this much at AAA, but still, this feels more like an August/September move for them.
   174. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 30, 2019 at 03:40 PM (#5846891)
Max's Sporting Studio @MaxSportsStudio 6h6 hours ago

Most valuable hitters in the month of May (WAR totals as according to @fangraphs; min 50 PAs):

1. Nolan Arenado, COL (1.9)
1. Josh Bell, PIT (1.9)
3. Kris Bryant, CHC (1.8)

Least:

283. Maikel Franco, PHI (-0.7)
284. Daniel Descalso, CHC (-0.8)
285. Yonder Alonso, CHW (-0.9)
   175. Zonk is Back Where He Came From Posted: May 30, 2019 at 04:23 PM (#5846915)
If losing 34 yo Jim "It's great that you're getting some MLB time after a lifetime toiling in the minors" Aducci on waivers is on your list of concerns....

An aside, just curious.... I haven't actually seen anything on exactly what Zo's personal matter is. Not to be gossipy - I mainly just know he's got several kids and seems like one of those "good guys" and hope it's nothing like a gravely ill child or some such. I respect his privacy and all - and it's not like we talk regularly and I'm worried I owe him a "let me know if you need anything, buddy" call or anything, but I'm just wondering what I (probably) missed.
   176. Zonk is Back Where He Came From Posted: May 30, 2019 at 04:28 PM (#5846917)
284. Daniel Descalso, CHC (-0.8)


Also.... is it inappropriate to make an Aaron Miles v2.0 joke? Probably.... but I'll still make it.
   177. Red Voodooin Posted: May 30, 2019 at 04:43 PM (#5846923)
RE: 175

It's a divorce:

Zobrist and his wife, singer Julianna Zobrist, filed divorce papers in separate states — Ben in Tennessee, Julianna in Illinois. He reportedly alleged she “has been guilty of inappropriate marital conduct, which rendered further cohabitation impossible.” She cited “irreconcilable differences.”


And according to this he may not return at all this season.
   178. Zonk is Back Where He Came From Posted: May 30, 2019 at 05:02 PM (#5846930)
Ah, that's too bad.... much as that sucks, I guess I'm glad it's not one of his kids stricken with a bad illness or something.

Not to be crass about it, but I will anyway -- my memory indicates that I'm only one who will be sad to see the end of "I feel alive" walkup music. Christian pop ain't my thing, but a catchy tune is a catchy tune and I still like it. Less now, but still.
   179. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 30, 2019 at 05:24 PM (#5846937)
So buy her ####### album already. It'll help her after the divorce is final.
   180. Zonk is Back Where He Came From Posted: May 30, 2019 at 05:30 PM (#5846939)
Oh, I've got the single.... don't you worry about that!
   181. Red Voodooin Posted: May 30, 2019 at 08:37 PM (#5846961)
David Kaplan says on Twitter that he hears it is 50-50 that Zobrist retires.
   182. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 31, 2019 at 01:16 PM (#5847104)
Sharma writes about Maples, Wick, and Azolay as possible bullpen options for this year. You all know about how I feel about Maples:

Maddon is spot on when he talks about the spin rate; it’s true for all of Maples pitches. For pitchers who have thrown at least 50 pitches all season, Maples is tops in spin rate for his four-seamer and curveball and seventh with his slider. There isn’t public data available that suggests spin rate for a slider is a great thing, but some inside baseball suggest that having a fastball and slider with similar spin rates is effective. Maples has a difference of 112 RPMs between the two pitches, a relatively small gap.

Maples said he’s been throwing his curveball since he was 13 years old. But the slider is something he really started going to in 2017. That, along with the curve, have made him an untraditional pitcher as far as someone who has found success by using his fastball less than 50 percent of the time. Perhaps in today’s game it’s not as rare, but it’s still hard to break with baseball’s norms at times.

---

Maples’ slider has 12.8 inches of horizontal movement. That’s 9.7 inches – or 314 (!) percent – more break than similar MLB sliders at his velocity. His 89.9 mph slider is the seventh-hardest in baseball. The nasty slider became something coaches and catchers felt he should lean on almost exclusively. But that’s not how Maples is completely comfortable and in his mind, it’s not the path to success. What he did Monday when mixing in eight four-seamers and six curveballs to go along with his 15 sliders, however, is. That mix resulted in 1 1/3 scoreless innings with three strikeouts, one hit and, most importantly, no walks.

“When I got back to the big leagues, they said, ‘This guy has good slider command, we’re just going to roll with that,’” Maples said. “But in actuality, I still need to throw the fastball and curveball. I was able to do that (Monday). That’s when I’m most comfortable.”

With those breaking pitches and a four-seamer averaging 96.9 mph, Maples has the ingredients of a star reliever. Now he just needs a real opportunity to try and prove that he can be consistent with his arsenal.


Control, control, control.
   183. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 31, 2019 at 01:23 PM (#5847108)
“When I got back to the big leagues, they said, ‘This guy has good slider command, we’re just going to roll with that,’” Maples said. “But in actuality, I still need to throw the fastball and curveball. I was able to do that (Monday). That’s when I’m most comfortable.”
So..."I'm not going to listen to my major league coaches, because their advice would be to do something different and that takes me outside of my comfort zone. Instead I'm just going to do what makes me comfortable." Yeah...

But hey, he pitched 1 1/3 good innings!
   184. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: May 31, 2019 at 01:44 PM (#5847118)
What? No, that's not at all what I think he's saying* - maybe it's clearer in the full piece and the rest of his quotes. In fact, that whole section kinda hangs on the fact that he shook Contreras off, or at least felt comfortable enough to finally do so. I've seen a few other people point out that his pitch mix that appearance finally looked similar to what he's done in AAA when things were going right.

The whole point of putting guys in the best spot to succeed surely involves making sure they're comfortable or at least agree with the approach. I don't think anyone has ever hinted anything about him not being coachable or anything either. So I'm not really sure what you're seeing here.

In fact, I'd go so far to say that it makes sense to me that he'd be more effective with a better variety of pitches instead of leaning more heavily on either the FB or slider - unless he ever really does get to that point where his slider control is good enough where he can consistently get guys to chase when he wants them to and throw it for strikes when they're not chasing. If the hitter knows the slider is coming, they'll just take it and assume it misses the zone (which at least has been the case way more often than not in the bigs).

*I'd also argue with anyone who says he has good slider control. If he really did, he'd already be their full time "closer".
   185. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: May 31, 2019 at 01:50 PM (#5847121)
Maybe TFA gives it a different spin (ha), but from the quote I highlighted and this: "The nasty slider became something coaches and catchers felt he should lean on almost exclusively. But that’s not how Maples is completely comfortable and in his mind, it’s not the path to success," that does suggest that he's substituting his own comfort/judgment for that of his coaches. But if the ML staff is asking him to abandon what made him successful at AAA, doesn't that point to a communication problem within the organization?
   186. Walt Davis Posted: June 01, 2019 at 09:35 PM (#5847498)
If Zobrist does retire, surely that would make the Cubs the first two with two guys retire on them due to divorces.

I suppose if CarGo hits, he could take some of Zo's OF time but is mostly here for injury insurance. Or at least I hope so since Zo's OF time was going to be mostly at the expense of Almora. If we're going to take a flyer on a vet OF, a RHB makes a lot more sense. Maybe when the Yanks get Judge and Stanton back, we can grab Maybin. (Or Happ ...)

On Descalso, it is guaranteed but just 2/$5 so easy enough to walk away from. But at the moment, no need to walk away necessarily, just (as much as possible) keep him out of the lineup. Not that I ever understood the signing -- maybe the Cubs data/scouts show different but he's not been rated as good defensively and he can't hit, so why he got two yars and was ever brought in as more than Russell cover is beyond me.

Hard to say it's a fault yet but Chatwood/Morrow last year and Descalso (a much smaller concern) this year are both cases where Theo jumped early in what became a very slow market. The Reds have ended up with Jose Iglesias for 1/$2.5 and we've got Descalso for 2/$5. That's cherry-picking a bit -- there weren't too many of these guys around this offseason -- but DD is down to nearly -1 WAR.
   187. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 02, 2019 at 12:31 PM (#5847551)
Dietrich was a NRI, and I think someone mentioned him here.

....

The last three starts for Cubs prospect Adbert Alzolay: 17 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 23 K, 2 BB (1 IBB), 1.06 ERA, .103 AVG, .254 OPS, 68% strikes, 56% grounders, 18% swinging strikes, 8 baserunners in 60 batters faced.

Translation: Good and stuff.
   188. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 03, 2019 at 01:20 PM (#5847837)
1-5 on the road trip, 2-8 in the last 8. Feels like if the Cubs aren't homering, they're not scoring*. Then the pitching has been its worst at the worst possible times. So, IOW, unlucky, but also in the ways we suspected/feared coming into the season. Baez and Contreras appear to be cooling down/regressing, which makes the offense more pedestrian.

Sounds like CarGo is up today, Adduci DFA. I really wouldn't expect anything from him, and I'm going to be annoyed if he gets too much PT.

It's also worth mentioning that the Cubs might actually be in on Kimbrel. Zobrist on the restricted list frees up some more money, and the Cubs already were saving money for the deadline. Robothal mentioned them as a possible suitor yesterday.

EDIT: He's in the lineup and hitting 5th. Oof. He should only play to give guys a day off.

*
Starting with last Sunday’s 10-2 drubbing at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds and throughout the ensuing six-game road trip, the Cubs went 4-for-41 with runners in scoring position. Remarkably, of those four hits, only one scored a run. On the road trip, the Cubs lost three games by one run and another two by three each. A few more timely hits and there’s a good chance this team is at least talking about a split instead of licking their wounds.
   189. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 03, 2019 at 02:07 PM (#5847858)
I think it might be time for a new post, or at least a new headline. "That was fun" just isn't feeling quite right these days.
   190. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 04, 2019 at 09:33 AM (#5848058)
So the Cubs took Ryan Jensen out of Fresno State with their first pick. The consensus is this was a bit of a reach but that seems to be a pattern with the Cubs.

He has a mid-90s fastball but he is undersized, has control issues, and no solid secondary pitches. So he seems destined for the bullpen.

As crazy as it sounds there is a non-remote chance he pitches in MLB this year provided he signs right away (Fresno's season is over). Obviously, for this to happen the Cubs are going to need confidence in something besides his fastball and that improvement is not a given.
   191. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 10:20 AM (#5848084)
So the Cubs took Ryan Jensen out of Fresno State with their first pick. The consensus is this was a bit of a reach but that seems to be a pattern with the Cubs.

He has a mid-90s fastball but he is undersized, has control issues, and no solid secondary pitches. So he seems destined for the bullpen.
#MoarReleevurz!!
   192. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 04, 2019 at 10:41 AM (#5848098)
To be fair, I'm just speculating. The Cubs may well be trying to turn him into a starter. They might also use him as a reliever this year so they don't ramp up his innings too quickly* and then stretch him out next year. FWIW, his ability to maintain velocity is regarded as one of his strengths.

*The interweb tells me he's already thrown 100 IP this year, which is more than he's ever thrown in college. So the Cubs may elect to do none of these things and keep him out of competitive baseball entirely for the remainder of 2019.
   193. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 04, 2019 at 10:48 AM (#5848102)
Unfortunately for the Cubs, I don't see any reason to give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to pitchers. This FO/coaching/whatever just hasn't been able to develop any pitcher of consequence since they've been in place. Now, they surely can get some credit for Hendricks and lessso with Edwards, but as noted plenty of times that's incredibly weak/pathetic for how long they've been here (and neither were drafted or started here anyway).
   194. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 04, 2019 at 01:24 PM (#5848245)
Bruce Levine @MLBBruceLevine 2m2 minutes ago

Joe Maddon just confirmed @670TheScore that Pedro Strop will be activated off IL today .Dillion Maples Sent to Triple A.


Maples needs to get a real chance to stick. I don't think Ryan has any options, so I guess that's why he's still around. The Cubs want another lefty, but lefties are hitting him better than righties so far.
   195. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 04, 2019 at 02:29 PM (#5848292)
#MoarReleevurz!!

Well, they've drafted RPs in rounds 3 and 4 so far.
   196. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:38 PM (#5848339)
Schwarber
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
CarGo
Caratini
Heyward
Russell
Hendricks

Russell seems to be solidifying the 2b job. I think Maddon already has fallen in love with CarGo:
“How about the play by Carlos in right field?” Maddon said. “That’s the game-changer. We brought the guy in because of his bat primarily, but he’s been a great defender too, and he showed it there.”

Maddon even indicated that he just liked merely seeing González’s name in the lineup.

“You could just see the presence in the lineup, how that lengthens the lineup out,” Maddon said. “It just does. CarGo making a really great first impression.”

González has two consecutive seasons below a 100 wRC+ and in 117 plate appearances in Cleveland, he struggled mightily with a 49 wRC+. But the Cubs don’t need him to be an offensive savior. It’s more important that their current stars turn things around at the plate.


Almora has a .874 OPS the last month, plus the plus defense. I'm not a a fan of this likely development.
   197. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 03:44 PM (#5848346)
“You could just see the presence in the lineup, how that lengthens the lineup out,” Maddon said. “It just does.
Oh, FFS.
   198. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 04, 2019 at 04:04 PM (#5848368)
Sure, I'd love him to have a Edmonds '08 or Gaetti '98 type fluke year, but odds are he's done and worthless*. Why push it because of who he was? I used to think Maddon wasn't that guy.

*Based on that 10 year interval, was Hamels '18 in that same group?
   199. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 04, 2019 at 04:25 PM (#5848390)
Why push it because of who he was?
Because you can see his presence in the lineup! It's right there...it makes the lineup one longer, doesn't it? If you couldn't see his presence, there would be one fewer name in the lineup, and you can't have that, now, can you?
   200. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 04, 2019 at 05:30 PM (#5848424)
Almora's got three syllables too!
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