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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 | 488 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   201. Man o' Schwar Posted: June 04, 2019 at 05:35 PM (#5848426)
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).

Do they get any credit for Arrieta? His last partial season in BAL before coming over he was 1-2 with a 7.33 ERA.

With the Cubs, 68-31 with a 2.73 ERA.
   202. Walt Davis Posted: June 04, 2019 at 11:46 PM (#5848546)
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?

Joe sorta tried that once in Tampa, didn't get away with it.

Anyway, two games in a row with Almora on the bench. Color me un-amused. On the other hand, two wins, so color me sufficiently content.

My opinion in real time was that Heyward in RF -- Almora in CF -- and Heyward gets to that CarGo ball fairly easily. That was a "great" play because it looked like he was too slow to get there, then he did; Heyward would have just gotten there without the drama. Caveat -- Jason seems a bit shy of the wall this year so maybe he pulls up.
   203. Walt Davis Posted: June 05, 2019 at 01:16 AM (#5848550)
Out of lack of amusement, May splits, can you pick the one who sits?

196/345/424, 33 K in 119 PA
186/288/330, 21 K in 111 PA
169/242/186, 21 K in 66 PA
258/287/536, 16 K in 104 PA

Three guys who couldn't even reach a 200 BA (granted, 3 guys who couldn't even reach a 300 OBP).
   204. Meatwad Posted: June 05, 2019 at 02:02 AM (#5848553)
Javy heyward desaclso and almora. Maybe schwarber for almora.
   205. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 05, 2019 at 10:54 AM (#5848611)
Do they get any credit for Arrieta? His last partial season in BAL before coming over he was 1-2 with a 7.33 ERA.

Sure. I always disliked the conversations about what development credit the Cubs get for guys like Russell or Bryant or what have you. Jake is something they definitely fixed/unlocked something the O's never could. I know he spent some time in the minors, but he's a success of the major league coaches in a way that maybe even Edwards or Hendricks aren't. The constant here is that none of those guys were drafted/completely developed in house. Unless Azolay or Maples makes it and sticks, that will remain true through this year.

IOW, they reached for a pitcher that was ranked really low and looks like he might be a RP at best. That's the type of move most teams get raked for doing, and the Cubs should as well. I've seen enough of "well, if the Cubs liked him" or just "get him in the Pitch Lab". Those are worthless claims that the Cubs have no right making, IMO.
   206. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 05, 2019 at 10:55 AM (#5848612)
Anyway, two games in a row with Almora on the bench. Color me un-amused. On the other hand, two wins, so color me sufficiently content.

My opinion in real time was that Heyward in RF -- Almora in CF -- and Heyward gets to that CarGo ball fairly easily. That was a "great" play because it looked like he was too slow to get there, then he did; Heyward would have just gotten there without the drama. Caveat -- Jason seems a bit shy of the wall this year so maybe he pulls up.


Yep. and Yep.

I was challenged on my worry with CarGo in the game chatter and my comment there is that this feels/sounds different to me. I think I usually give Joe/FO the benefit of the doubt, but I'm worried/concerned/hesitant here.
   207. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 05, 2019 at 11:09 AM (#5848617)
BTW, yesterday's 16-0 loss really f'ed the Brewers pythag. They're tied with the Cubs in first, but are 3 games over their Pythag and Cubs are 2 under. Brewers are actually in 4th place by Pythag - Reds are 6 games under and have the 2nd best run diff in the NLC.
   208. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 05, 2019 at 11:18 AM (#5848620)
I really do feel bad for the Reds.

IOW, they reached for a pitcher that was ranked really low and looks like he might be a RP at best. That's the type of move most teams get raked for doing, and the Cubs should as well. I've seen enough of "well, if the Cubs liked him" or just "get him in the Pitch Lab". Those are worthless claims that the Cubs have no right making, IMO.

It was a notably weak pitching draft. I'm not inclined to give the Cubs the benefit of the doubt on drafting and developing pitchers but I also don't have any strong opinions on what they should have done with the pick. He profiles as a reliever but he is a starter with a slider and a changeup (which both need lots of work); and I don't think it's the same as drafting a college reliever as he's not necessarily locked into relieving long term. OTOH, taking college relievers with other high round picks does not inspire confidence.
   209. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 05, 2019 at 12:05 PM (#5848635)
I don't have strong opinions on the draft or draftees either - I don't follow that at all. My post if more of a general response to stuff I've seen online in evaluating the pick. But the idea that the guy they drafted needs work on 2 of his 3 pitches...well, I don't really expect the Cubs to succeed with that until they actually do.

---

The Reds are fascinating in how their offense/pitching strengths/weaknesses just totally flipped. If they were getting this pitching with their offensive performance of the last few years...
   210. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 05, 2019 at 01:04 PM (#5848657)
Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal 38m38 minutes ago

#Cubs pushing hard for Kimbrel, sources tell The Athletic.


If Strop can stay healthy, and the magical unicorn that Morrow is healthy for a couple months this year...the Cubs might actually not need to trade anything useful for another bullpen arm and can make focus on a starting position player if they want....
   211. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 05, 2019 at 01:29 PM (#5848663)
“I love the idea he’s a grown-up,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said before a 6-3 win over the Rockies that saw González hit an RBI double and tack on an insurance run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning. “We got a grown-up walking in our room.”

“I do believe he’s Level 5 – all he wants to do is win,” Maddon said of González. “I’ll take a guy with his skill set that shows up every day worried about one thing – and that’s to win the game. I believe that’s who he is. I do believe he’s going to get really hot and he’s going to really benefit us for a period of time here.”


Maybe I should be reading these as NOT (edit) being about CarGo as much as they're non-comments about everyone else. We've made fun of the veteran presence stuff for years now. None of these Cubs hitters are new anymore, some of them are already in their late 20's.
   212. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 05, 2019 at 02:28 PM (#5848676)
“I love the idea he’s a grown-up,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said before a 6-3 win over the Rockies that saw González hit an RBI double and tack on an insurance run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning. “We got a grown-up walking in our room.”

“I do believe he’s Level 5 – all he wants to do is win,” Maddon said of González. “I’ll take a guy with his skill set that shows up every day worried about one thing – and that’s to win the game. I believe that’s who he is. I do believe he’s going to get really hot and he’s going to really benefit us for a period of time here.”
Jesus. Did he have a toothpick in his mouth?
   213. Spahn Insane Posted: June 05, 2019 at 02:36 PM (#5848678)
Jesus. Did he have a toothpick in his mouth?

Yeah, I was flashing back to the days of the F-troop for a second there...
   214. Kiko Sakata Posted: June 05, 2019 at 02:56 PM (#5848687)
Maybe I should be reading these as NOT (edit) being about CarGo as much as they're non-comments about everyone else. We've made fun of the veteran presence stuff for years now. None of these Cubs hitters are new anymore, some of them are already in their late 20's.


That's just an odd set of quotes. I mean, I know they're both still in their 20's, but how are Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward not "veteran presence" guys yet?
   215. Man o' Schwar Posted: June 05, 2019 at 03:05 PM (#5848689)
Yeah, I was flashing back to the days of the F-troop for a second there...

My first thought, after he made that catch and then hit the (honestly misplayed into a) double in his first two games was: this is how you end up with Neifi Perez, starting shortstop.
   216. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 05, 2019 at 03:28 PM (#5848697)
To be fair to Neifi (shudder), he did hit .371/.400/.548 with the Cubs that first year (in 67PAs) and really was a good defender. The mistake was not realizing it was a fluke and running him back the next year.
   217. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 05, 2019 at 03:54 PM (#5848710)
Schwarber
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
CarGo
Contreras
Heyward
Bote
Darvish

So, 3 for 3 with CarGo/Heyward both over Almora. Also, interesting to see Contreras catch Darvish - it's been either Davis or Caratini for some time now. Caratini started yesterday, so this was likely always the plan.
   218. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 05, 2019 at 03:59 PM (#5848713)
Over his last four starts, Darvish has 29 strikeouts vs. 8 walks, and only 3 home runs allowed.
   219. Walt Davis Posted: June 05, 2019 at 06:05 PM (#5848745)
Level 5? Can I assume that's the latest management BS speak? (OK, I'm probably at least 10 years behind on that stuff so it might be old management BS speak)

And nothing against CarGo, but ... what, his teams have made it to the postseason 3 times, all 3 as a WC. This passes for a "grownup" these days? He did tear it up against the Phils 10 years ago though.

When did Joe turn into Art Howe in Moneyball (the movie version)?

Over his last four starts, Darvish has 29 strikeouts vs. 8 walks, and only 3 home runs allowed.

So let's switch catchers on him! (no, I don't think it's likely to matter and he switched from Jumbo II to Caratini anyway)
   220. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 05, 2019 at 07:28 PM (#5848757)
Theo Epstein on Ben Zobrist absence “He has been in touch with me and at some point he will be in touch with his teammates”


Hmmm...
   221. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 05, 2019 at 08:52 PM (#5848777)
BREAKING: #Cubs in agreement with free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel, pending physical, sources tell The Athletic.


Fantastic.

Multi-year deal for Kimbrel with #Cubs, source tells The Athletic.
   222. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 05, 2019 at 09:04 PM (#5848781)
Since they pledged to raise 2020 payroll I expect it’s backloaded.

I hope Kimbrel is ready to go.
   223. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 05, 2019 at 09:34 PM (#5848792)
Heyman says 3/$43mil. I'm guessing this year is prorated, but also wonder how that impacts the tax.
   224. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 05, 2019 at 10:05 PM (#5848824)
Nope:
Just to be clear: The $43 million in Craig Kimbrel's deal is fully guaranteed. The $10 million he'll receive this season is not prorated. He will get $16 million in 2020 and 2021, and the extra $1 million is guaranteed via the buyout on a fourth-year option.
   225. Zonk Will Not Get Over It Abusing Its Office Posted: June 06, 2019 at 02:47 AM (#5848916)
Traveling in the Netherlands, so missed the draft -- but seeing the list, a few thoughts....

I agree on the general underwhelm notion of Jensen. His fastball is MLB quality - but it's not an especially likely (movement-wise) fastball and while throwing in the upper 90s is fine, you'd prefer to see Chapman-esque velocity if that's his bread and butter. Anyway, I'm not sure I'd even bother trying to keep him starting -- even his change of pace is just a slider that grades out as barely passable. They'd probably be better off just focusing on developing the slider and leaving him in the pen. If nothing else - barring injury - the fastball should be enough to at least get him to the majors.

Ironically, the next closer they got - Louisville's Michael McAvene - probably has a better shot at starting. He's a got bit more of a repertoire, but he's also got a more prototypical 'closer mentality' (he just managed to get himself ejected and suspended in the CWS for arguing balls/strikes).

The 2nd rounder - Chase Strumpf - is an interesting pick. He's something of a mini-Keston Hiura. Dude can hit. Pre-season 2019, he was nibbling at being a 1st rounder, but he had a really disappointing Jr season after a dynamite sophomore year. Still, I think most boards had him near the top 50 - so it's not a bad value pick. His big problem is that he's very defensively limited. As in, if he can't stick at 2B - he's probably a 1B/LF type. I've seen him compared to a RHB Daniel Murphy.

The guy I really like is the 6th rounder - prep catcher Ethan Hearn. Kid is a legit top 100 draft prospect and probably the 2nd or 3rd best catcher in the draft. He's a plus defender and while there's some question about his bat, I think it will develop. He's a sturdy, blocky linebacker type - I could see him being a David Ross sort. Figure the Cubs likely save some slot money earlier - Hearn will probably take a big bonus to sign, but this is a good lottery ticket.

Lots of other arms that look ticketed for the bullpen.... personally, I'd have preferred to roll the dice on a prep arm (Brennan Malone was a guy who went a few picks later that I'd have taken, for one). But all in all, the Cubs ought to get at least some future bullpen help out of this draft... If Strumpf bounces back and/or Hearn develops, so the much better.

....and yeah.... welcome to the north side Craig Kimbrel!
   226. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 06, 2019 at 10:11 AM (#5848972)
I'm guessing the Cubs would still probably look at add one more RP, probably a lefty. Maybe if Cedeno gets healthy, it'd be him, but considering it's June and he's barely thrown, they obviously can't count on him (Morrow falls in that same bucket, but the upside with him is so much higher).

Regardless, right now the pen looks like:

Closer: Kimbrel
High leverage: Strop/Cishek
The rest: Kintzler/Montgomery/Brach/Edwards/Chatwood/Ryan

Anyone in the rest can't really be trusted, but I'm guessing Kintzler is safe and Chatwood's contract keeps him here*. One of the last 5 will have to go when Kimbrel is ready; Edwards and Montgomery have options I believe. Ryan would have to get through waivers and the Cubs have been hesitant to do that so far, but they're probably gonna have to. Monty would then be the only lefty. I'm going to continue to pine for Maples because of that stuff and the chance he could be special. Perhaps Azolay comes up and sticks, who knows.

*I just never will trust him, but he's been ok - if not great, and you definitely need one long guy.
   227. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 06, 2019 at 10:34 AM (#5848980)
I would guess Brach is the on the chopping block. He is not young, not getting good results, not putting up strong peripherals, not left handed, and provides no value as a rotation failsafe. I think he is pretty close to 100% going to pass through waivers.
   228. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 06, 2019 at 10:46 AM (#5848987)
Yeah, I'd be fine with that, too. Oddly enough, I still think Brach might be better than Ryan.

It's kinda pointless to do splits with RP as the samples are small enough, but Ryan's numbers are somewhat buoyed by a nice start (which maybe makes me think batters just didn't know what to expect from him). Regardless, since the start of May, in 16 appearances (only covering 9 innings), Ryan has given up 3 HRs and only has 6 Ks (14H/2BB). Brach's walk rate has come down since April (but is still way too high), but he's at least still striking guys out and has only given up 1 HR this year.

I'm not really going to defend either (and still would rather have Maples than both of them), so there really isn't a bad decision to make between them.
   229. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 06, 2019 at 11:09 AM (#5849000)
Schwarber
Bryant RF
Rizzo
Baez
Contreras
Bote 3b
Almora
Descalso
Quintana

Veteran Presence Superstar CarGo gets his first break.
   230. Tyhand7 Posted: June 06, 2019 at 12:44 PM (#5849072)
They should keep giving Descalso breaks
   231. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 06, 2019 at 01:25 PM (#5849105)
Morrow falls in that same bucket
...and tears his ACL. They should have known to keep Morrow away from buckets.
   232. Brian C Posted: June 06, 2019 at 02:09 PM (#5849132)
Perhaps Azolay comes up and sticks, who knows.

This seems like a better/more realistic solution to me than hoping Maples suddenly figures out how to throw strikes for the first time ever at age 27.
   233. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 06, 2019 at 04:55 PM (#5849200)
Fair enough. Azolay would have been up last year if he could have stayed healthy, so in his case, I'm guessing they have to decide how many innings they really want him to get/is he a viable SP candidate for next year? I almost wonder if he's not really an option until later (like September even) unless he needs to take a spin in the rotation.


Christopher Kamka @ckamka 2m2 minutes ago

Since Carl Edwards Jr. was recalled from Minors in May (14 games):
12.2 IP, 4 Hits, 1 BB, 14 K, opponent slashline of .098/.116/.195, 0.395 WHIP
#Cubs
   234. Walt Davis Posted: June 06, 2019 at 11:31 PM (#5849285)
Carl Edwards in games I've watched: 6 appearances, 1 IP, 19 BB (you can look it up!)
   235. Red Voodooin Posted: June 09, 2019 at 02:10 AM (#5849742)
Nobody really wants to talk about it for obvious reasons, but I will anyway.

I really want Ben Zobrist to come back. I don't want him to retire. Come back, Ben.
   236. Brian C Posted: June 09, 2019 at 10:13 PM (#5849869)
Well ... that was fun.
   237. Meatwad Posted: June 09, 2019 at 10:20 PM (#5849871)
Kyle continues to impress, 10 team wins in a row against st louis for him.
   238. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 09, 2019 at 10:22 PM (#5849872)
Good Hendricks is a lot of fun to watch.
   239. Meatwad Posted: June 09, 2019 at 10:59 PM (#5849873)
A bonus for us that dont like st louis, tge blues lost game 6 and now head to boston for game 7. Go bruins.
   240. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 10, 2019 at 10:25 AM (#5849918)
Nobody really wants to talk about it for obvious reasons, but I will anyway.

I don't know if you just mean there's really nothing to say about this situation, but I'm not sure what to say. Yeah, I'd much rather he were on the team than Descalso at least, and this would be a pretty bummer of a way for him to end his career. The Cubs are at least saying spending on Kimbrel doesn't mean Zobrist is done, but I have to think it's extremely unlikely he comes back now just because how long he's been gone.
   241. Javy Joan Baez (chris h.) Posted: June 11, 2019 at 04:31 PM (#5850699)
I saw someone in a Fukudome tshirt today.
   242. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 12, 2019 at 03:45 PM (#5851153)
Patrick Mooney @PJ_Mooney 1h1 hour ago

Joe Maddon said Kris Bryant was in the original pre-series lineup for today at Coors Field, but decided to give him a day off after seeing him get hit by two pitches last night.

Steve Cishek was also just carted off the field after getting hit by a ball in the shin/knee area.
   243. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 12, 2019 at 05:34 PM (#5851229)
Jesse Rogers @ESPNChiCubs 32m32 minutes ago

Schwarber with his 5th sac fly this season. No one else has more than 2. He's brought home a runner from third with less than 2 outs 8 of 18 times this season. For the Cubs, that's pretty good.


Remember how unclutch he was last year?

---

So Hamels plunked Arenado today, maybe on purpose maybe not, but Nolan left the game a few innings later. The Rockies then plunked Hamels later, but nothing happened. I know Cole has talked about plunking guys on purpose before, so I'm not giving him the benefit of the doubt even though the situation wasn't ideal for it (it put 2 on, 1 out). I'm sure Bryant is tired of the Rockies hitting him (twice yesterday, once last week, last year in the head).

EDIT: Then the Rockies hit Rizzo - and gotta love Javy pimping his ridiculous HR after that. Then Brach plunks Wolters. As I said in the chatter, stupid is stupid, and there's plenty of stupid to go around here.
   244. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 12, 2019 at 06:34 PM (#5851243)
Jesse Rogers @ESPNChiCubs 38m38 minutes ago

Other notes from this game: Cole Hamels is the first Cub since Ryan Dempster in 2012 to have three straight starts of 7.0 IP and 0 ER allowed in the same season
   245. Zonk Will Not Get Over It Abusing Its Office Posted: June 13, 2019 at 08:21 AM (#5851316)
So.... how much more does Cole need to show before it's time to start asking exactly sort of extension would interest him?

With nothing on the minor league horizon, I'd be interested in seeing if he'd do a 2 or maybe even 3 year ride into the sunset.
   246. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 13, 2019 at 10:00 AM (#5851349)
With nothing on the minor league horizon

Alzolay is doing quite well in the launching pad of AAA. Mind you, his health means you need a good plan B if you're penciling him into the rotation.

Hamels is pitching well but given his current age (35), the Qualifying Offer fallback option, and the fact his ERA is a half run below his FIP, I am content to wait and see how the rest of 2019 goes for him.

Admittedly, I kind of find him annoying.
   247. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 13, 2019 at 10:33 AM (#5851367)
I'm with Pops here. The age scares me, and I just don't see the rush right now. I agree that QO is probably the right route here - I have to think the Cubs and Hamels talked last year about a 2 or 3 year deal with a lower AAV and nothing happened.

---

Schwarber at leadoff: .243/.322/.563. I'm actually surprised his OBP is lower than his season OBP (.332), but he has been better overall there.
CarGo as a Cub: .261/.379/.478. I dunno, I'm thinking dead cat bounce, right*? If not, maybe eventually he's the guy you have at leadoff and get Schwarber lower.
Heyward since 5/1: .226/.312/.387 & Almora since 5/1: .244/.280/.471. I don't believe in CarGo as fixed or anything, but maybe this still is your platoon in CF.
Bote since 5/1: .286/.356/.486. Started hot, slumped, but rebounded nicely. He played a lot the last week+ with Russell hurt (hand bruise) and Descalso legally JoseFMaciasing, but probably should be playing most days either at 2b or 3b (with KB in RF).

---

It was such a Maddon thing to have Ryan and Brach both pitch in Denver yesterday; at least the lead was really big. But Brach has to be on his way out, I guess he's got until Kimbrel arrives but I'd still rather see Maples or Wick these couple of weeks than him. Monty looks not good this year too.

*EDIT:
Michael Cerami @Michael_Cerami 2m2 minutes ago

Since coming to the Chicago #Cubs, Carlos Gonzalez (29 PAs)...

Good: .261/.379/.478 (124 wRC+)
Good: 17.2% walk rate
Bad: 37.9% K-rate
Bad: 2 CS
Hmm: .417 BABIP
Hmm: 46.2% ground ball rate
Amazing: 0% soft-hit rate
Amazing: 46.2% hard-hit rate
   248. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 13, 2019 at 10:47 AM (#5851376)
Bote since 5/1: .286/.356/.486. Started hot, slumped, but rebounded nicely. He played a lot the last week+ with Russell hurt (hand bruise) and Descalso legally JoseFMaciasing, but probably should be playing most days either at 2b or 3b (with KB in RF).

Descalso is pointless now that Russell is on the team. The Cubs have three guys who can cover 2B and two who can cover SS even without Descalso or Zobrist. And it's not like Descalso is a plus defender at second base, either. There is a chance somebody like Brach figures things out and becomes an asset in the second half. Descalso is just an emergency stopgap at this point and a number of teams have passed into the phase of the season where they will be happy to trade emergency stopgap types for a bucket of balls (should the Cubs end up needing one).
   249. Zonk Will Not Get Over It Abusing Its Office Posted: June 13, 2019 at 10:51 AM (#5851378)
Bote since 5/1: .286/.356/.486. Started hot, slumped, but rebounded nicely. He played a lot the last week+ with Russell hurt (hand bruise) and Descalso legally JoseFMaciasing, but probably should be playing most days either at 2b or 3b (with KB in RF).


Dude is Aaron Miles v2.0
   250. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 13, 2019 at 10:56 AM (#5851381)
Postscript to my CarGo comment:
Michael Cerami @Michael_Cerami 2m2 minutes ago

Since coming to the Chicago #Cubs, Carlos Gonzalez (29 PAs)...

Good: .261/.379/.478 (124 wRC+)
Good: 17.2% walk rate
Bad: 37.9% K-rate
Bad: 2 CS
Hmm: .417 BABIP
Hmm: 46.2% ground ball rate
Amazing: 0% soft-hit rate
Amazing: 46.2% hard-hit rate


---

Descalso is pointless now that Russell is on the team. The Cubs have three guys who can cover 2B and two who can cover SS even without Descalso or Zobrist. And it's not like Descalso is a plus defender at second base, either. There is a chance somebody like Brach figures things out and becomes an asset in the second half. Descalso is just an emergency stopgap at this point and a number of teams have passed into the phase of the season where they will be happy to trade emergency stopgap types for a bucket of balls (should the Cubs end up needing one).

Totally agree. Cubs actually have a couple of guys in AAA that could duplicate Descalso right now. I think the Cubs, or more likely Maddon, like a veteran lefty PH bat type (you know, your TLS) which was probably the intended role to Descalso when they signed him (2 years - why????) but Zo leaving changed his role but also exposed him.

I'll just agree to disagree on Brach - his stuff isn't that great and the walks haven't gone down at all, now he's getting hit hard and this is what we get.
   251. Walt Davis Posted: June 14, 2019 at 12:33 AM (#5851833)
Article at ESPN ... apparently Theo now saying that Zobrist might come back, probably very late. Article suggests Sept but then I'm not clear what his roster status until then means for his playoff eligibility (should we be so lucky). Is the "restricted" list still "in the organization on Aug 31?" And what has the new trade deadline done to the Aug 31 thing?
   252. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 14, 2019 at 12:14 PM (#5851955)
There is no Aug 31 thing. Trade deadline is the trade deadline. I'd guess that means it's like other sports. I'm pretty sure Zobrist would be eligible if he came back, but I'd still be surprised if it happened.

---

Lester was really good yesterday until he took the comebacker off his foot, then he was terrible. That could have happened anyway, but I bet that bothered him.

Cubs have hit a lot of HRs this year, so maybe their proportion of solo HRs is in line with the rest of the league and it just feels like a bunch of extra solo HRs because there's just more, but to me it sure feels like the Cubs % of solo HRs is much, much higher than % of solo HR allowed (for example - last night Cubs had the 2 solo, but the Dodgers got the 3 2 run HRs - with the Bellinger encore cherry on top). Someone prove me wrong (or right).
   253. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: June 15, 2019 at 05:48 PM (#5852286)
Man, Ian Happ is hitting .236 in Iowa.
   254. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 15, 2019 at 08:11 PM (#5852331)
Hendricks to DL, Wick up. And...

The Cubs haven’t made a final decision about who will replace Kyle Hendricks in the rotation and when that will take place. But Theo Epstein said the team had already been thinking about giving top prospect Adbert Alzolay a spot start or two to help his transition to the majors.


Yes, please.
   255. Meatwad Posted: June 16, 2019 at 12:14 AM (#5852436)
I would very mjch like to see him make a start or 2.

Also I didnt watch the game til the 9th but 7 innings 1 walk 1 run and 10ks from darvish seems pretty damn good.
   256. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 16, 2019 at 09:20 AM (#5852470)
Darvish walked at least 4 batters in 6 of his first 8 starts. He has done that zero times in his last seven starts.
   257. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: June 16, 2019 at 11:15 AM (#5852481)
Cubs have hit a lot of HRs this year, so maybe their proportion of solo HRs is in line with the rest of the league and it just feels like a bunch of extra solo HRs because there's just more, but to me it sure feels like the Cubs % of solo HRs is much, much higher than % of solo HR allowed (for example - last night Cubs had the 2 solo, but the Dodgers got the 3 2 run HRs - with the Bellinger encore cherry on top). Someone prove me wrong (or right).

Cubs have 65 solo HR, 48 with men on (35 2R, 10 3R, 3 GS), for 177 RBI on 113 HR (1.57 per); they have allowed 43 solo HR, 35 with men on (25 2R, 9 3R, 1 GS), for 124 RBI on 78 HR (1.59 per).
   258. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: June 16, 2019 at 03:43 PM (#5852543)
NL average to date is also 1.57 runs per HR (2193/1398), so the Cubs are right about average in both categories. Which, to be fair, seems odd for a team with the second-highest OBP in the league.
   259. Walt Davis Posted: June 16, 2019 at 06:32 PM (#5852579)
On the Aug 31 thing, I meant the rule about "must be in the organization on Aug 31 to be eligible for the playoffs." Without the waiver trade thing, there aren't many ways into the organization between the trade deadline and Aug 31 so you could move that deadline up as well but I don't know if they did so. I suppose there are still old-fashioned waivers. I assume there's no DFA trade loophole.
   260. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 17, 2019 at 12:01 PM (#5852767)
That road trip kinda stunk. Cubs were in most of those games/led at some point and easily could have had a winning trip (Cishek lost 2 games, for instance). For whatever reason, the Cubs have been a pretty bad road team this year (24-11 at home, 15-21 on the road). Maybe that isn't a big deal - the Cubs actually hit better on the road so far this year, but the pitching has been much worse (in results and peripherals).

Anyway...

Contreras last 14 games: .208/.283/.313, 17/4 K/BB
Javy this month (15g): .226/.226/.468, 17/0 K/BB

And what do you know, after an ok start, Russell is down to a .675OPS for the year.

In that 7 game stretch Pops mentioned, Darvish has 42.2IP, 47/12 K/BB, and 6HRs. That start Saturday was amazing - easily his best so far with the Cubs considering the opponent, and it keeps looking like he's slowly putting things together. He's also been fine enough to watch the last few games.

   261. Brian C Posted: June 17, 2019 at 04:56 PM (#5852918)
Cubs were in most of those games/led at some point and easily could have had a winning trip

This is what's been so frustrating to me. Seems like in previous years, when the Cubs got off to an early lead in a game, they'd lock it in. This year, when they go up 3-0 in the second, it sends a chill down my spine.

I looked it up, and they've lost 12 games this season where they had a multiple-run lead. I don't know how that compares to other teams, but it sure seems like a lot, more than 1/3 of their 32 total losses.

They've also lost another 3 where they only had a one-run lead.
   262. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 17, 2019 at 05:42 PM (#5852945)
Kimbrel is set to make his first appearance tomorrow in AAA.
   263. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 18, 2019 at 06:05 PM (#5853318)
Jordan Bastian @MLBastian 41m41 minutes ago

Craig Kimbrel’s first inning of work in a (Iowa) Cubs uniform: 8 pitches (6 strikes), flyout, groundout, strikeout.


FWIW, Alzolay at AAA this year: 6g/32IP, 46/6 K/BB, 4HR, 3.09ERA, 0.938WHIP. Considering how silly AAA is this year offensively, that probably makes that line even more impressive.

Edit: Cubs said today chatwood is starting Thursday. Boo.
   264. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 19, 2019 at 10:49 AM (#5853524)
Another pitiful showing for the offense against a guy who very well may have had the worst ERA among qualifiers going into the game.
   265. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 19, 2019 at 10:59 AM (#5853527)
Scott Lindholm @ScottLindholm 2m2 minutes ago

Couple "fun" stats for the Cubs with runners in scoring position this year:
BABIP--.266 (29th)
Hard Contact pct--34.5 (23rd)

Their whiff rate (all situations) is 11.6 pct, 11th-worst in MLB.
   266. Kiko Sakata Posted: June 19, 2019 at 01:16 PM (#5853593)
From a reply on Twitter from @FullCountTommy (I haven't verified the numbers) - # of times NL contenders have scored 2 or fewer runs this season:

Phillies: 20
Cardinals: 20
Dodgers: 20
Cubs: 19
Braves: 15
Brewers: 14
Rockies: 14


Two thoughts. First, the Cubs don't really stand out - certainly not to the point that I would have expected or that they did last season. But, also, second, if I remember correctly, the Cubs did this 40 times last season, which was far and away the worst of any non-Orioles team in MLB.

So, it seems like part of the problem of the Cubs only scoring one or two runs a lot is an issue with the way major-league baseball is played in 2019 - which, and I know this makes me a cranky old man, is not a style of baseball that I'm a huge fan of.

   267. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 19, 2019 at 04:17 PM (#5853735)
Yeah, I don't mean to imply I'm worried similar to last year, then again neither of these notes are reassuring:
But over the last month, the Cubs are 10th in runs in the NL, 12th in average, 11th in wOBA.


And
After Tuesday’s loss, the Cubs have scored 48.9 percent of their runs via the homer, seventh in baseball and third in the National League behind the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres. Hitting too many home runs isn’t a bad thing, but a team also needs to find other ways to score runs. And right now the Cubs are in a stretch where they just don’t seem capable of doing that.

The team is hitting .243 with runners in scoring position, 27th in baseball. They’re a below-average team when it comes to scoring runners from third with fewer than two outs, converting those situations 48.7 percent of the time, 17th in baseball. Once a top scoring team in the game, the Cubs have dropped to 5.06 runs per game and are 13th in baseball and fifth in the NL. Hardly unacceptable, but this is a group that expects to be elite on offense. And right now, that’s just not the case.

Báez has a .167/.167/.315 slash line in his past 13 games with just one extra-base hit in his last nine. Schwarber has three home runs, but just five total hits and no walks in his last seven games. The list of struggling Cubs goes on with David Bote, Albert Almora Jr., Victor Caratini and Addison Russell having OPS’s below .700 over the last week. Only Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are posting OPS’s over .800 during that stretch, with Heyward and Contreras the only others over .700. Daniel Descalso has just one hit this month and it came on June 1.

---

Schwarber
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
Contreras
Heyward
Bote
Lester
Almora

I can't recall if we've seen this exact lineup before, but this is most likely the best lineup they have - or least it's the one I'd like to see the most of. Maybe Joe's accepted CarGo is just a body (maybe not even a warm one at this point).

---

If Happ isn't ready (and a quick glance at the numbers show he isn't), maybe it's just time to release Descalso (or CarGo) and give this guy a shot:

Right now the best bet to surprise this offense with some impact might be 26-year-old power bat Robel Garcia, who spent the previous half-dozen years playing professional baseball in Italy. The athletic switch-hitter has 17 home runs and an ISO above .300 across Double-A and Triple-A this year.


He just happens to be a utility IF; this year across AA/AAA he's hitting .284/.363/.581
   268. Brian C Posted: June 19, 2019 at 06:20 PM (#5853786)
Maybe Joe's accepted CarGo is just a body (maybe not even a warm one at this point).

Since starting three straight games to start his Cubs tenure, CarGo's only started back-to-back games once.

Descalso needs to go.
   269. Walt Davis Posted: June 19, 2019 at 09:36 PM (#5853851)
Despite his recent slump, after his 2 HRs so far today, Contreras still sits at 294/392/564 on the season. Crikey.

the Cubs did this 40 times last season

"This" being 2 or fewer runs ... last year, the Cubs scored 0 or 1 (not 2) 40 times. This year they've scored 0/1 just 8 times. So once every 4 games vs. (so far) once every 9.
   270. Kiko Sakata Posted: June 19, 2019 at 09:51 PM (#5853858)
"This" being 2 or fewer runs ... last year, the Cubs scored 0 or 1 (not 2) 40 times. This year they've scored 0/1 just 8 times. So once every 4 games vs. (so far) once every 9.


Thanks for the correction, Walt. Apparently, I did not remember correctly.
   271. Walt Davis Posted: June 19, 2019 at 09:59 PM (#5853862)
It's hard to know what to make of the RISP and related numbers. Overall, we are 5th in scoring but right around where we usually are and still #1 in the division. We K around the league average. We've dropped to average overall in BA but that's still 2nd in the division (Pitt of all teams). By OPS+, tops in the division (barely), 4th overall and a solid lead on everybody but Milw.

Overall we're hitting 251/336/446 ... RISP we're hitting 243/354/436 ... that's not a lot of difference and we're getting on-base more. Granted, most teams do better RISP than not. Things look even better by "men on" when we hit 271/362/484 compared with 238/317/420 with nobody on. So it's some weirdo thing that happens when guys get to 2nd and 3rd. Which is to say that at 1-- we hit 303/373/541 then, when somebody touches 2nd base, that plummets to that 243/354/436. That's just weird. You expect some drop in BA and power and bump in BB but that looks pretty extreme to me.

It's not Ks, we K a lot more often 1-- (23.3%) than RISP (18.8%). It is HRs -- about 1 per 20 PA vs 1 per 30 PA. We are walking a LOT more with RISP (14.1% vs 8.5%) but everybody does (maybe not to that extent) ... it basically works out that Ks are becoming BBs which can't be a bad thing can it? The last bit suggests maybe there is some relation to our Jekyll-Hyde lineup -- maybe we're too easy to pitch around whether it's to get to a free-swinging (but obviously dangerous) Javy or, most especially, to get to Heyward et al. (Bote's bat should help there but he is a free swinger.) But nearly every team has a Jekyll-Hyde lineup or the top of their lineup is way less Jekyll (Hyde?) than ours to begin with.

So it's frustrating that it's happening for the 2nd year in a row but I still lean towards bad luck rather than something systemic about the approach.
   272. Walt Davis Posted: June 19, 2019 at 10:13 PM (#5853871)
No worries, I thought you had it right too but I knew we (and a lot of other teams) couldn't be doing as badly so far this year.

Since we're playing the Sox and we have our ups and downs with Theo's trades .... For the last 28 days, Eloy has hit 277/341/578 thanks to a last 14 days of 361/425/917. A 113 OPS+ overall which would lead all Cubs OF. I'm still OK with that trade but ask me again in 2 years. :-)

And despite that, Rfield hates his defense so much he's below-replacement on the year. Statcast pretty much agrees at -6 OAA in just 24 (non-certain) chances. But boy do they hate Clint Frazier's defense: -10 in just 23 chances.
   273. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 20, 2019 at 12:09 AM (#5853907)
I have more to say when I wake up, but:

Maddon: Tim Collins DFA’d, prospect Adbert Alzolay will be recalled Thursday. Will back up Chatwood out of bullpen.
   274. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 20, 2019 at 09:50 AM (#5853960)
Descalso needs to go.

His only value is in case of injury and there's no real reason to keep such a crappy insurance policy on the major league roster instead of relying on somebody to hand you AAAA filler when need arises. I'm betting that if he weren't signed through 2020 he would already be DFA'ed.

Tim Collins DFA’d, prospect Adbert Alzolay will be recalled Thursday. Will back up Chatwood out of bullpen.

Using him out of the bullpen is a way to control his workload after he missed most of 2018, I guess. But if you want him to provide rotation insurance it seems the better idea to keep him in his routine in Iowa. So I guess the Cubs are thinking he can get a taste of MLB hitters and keep his innings down in case he becomes needed later on.

I am excited for the minor league system to spit out a good pitcher and Alzolay has killed it so far in 2019.
   275. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 20, 2019 at 10:21 AM (#5853981)
Alzolay was already on the 40 man, so DFA for Collins means someone else is back on; I see twitter speculation on Barnette.

This probably is smart usage for Alzolay; if he's effective right out of the gate, it will be interesting to watch how they manage his innings/workload considering he's been injury prone in addition to not being used to a heavy workload. Cubs don't have a day off for a while, so he also could go up and down if they try to keep fresh arms around.

His only value is in case of injury and there's no real reason to keep such a crappy insurance policy on the major league roster instead of relying on somebody to hand you AAAA filler when need arises. I'm betting that if he weren't signed through 2020 he would already be DFA'ed.

Right, absolutely.

And despite that, Rfield hates his defense so much he's below-replacement on the year. Statcast pretty much agrees at -6 OAA in just 24 (non-certain) chances. But boy do they hate Clint Frazier's defense: -10 in just 23 chances.

So far, Eloy is REALLY BAD in LF. He plays it like people thought fat Schwarber did, but without the arm; it's very clearly already in scouting reports to run on him every chance you get - he's very slow to get the ball in, and I've yet to see him get the ball to the IF on the fly (granted, I haven't seen him a ton, but enough to wonder what's up with it).

---

I think I saw the Cubs were 1 for 7 last night with RISP - that 1 was the grand slam.
   276. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 20, 2019 at 11:53 AM (#5854032)
Rangers DFA Smyly.
   277. Spahn Insane Posted: June 20, 2019 at 01:51 PM (#5854102)
Smyly's line is pretty grisly. (We shouldn't be fooled by that 8.42 ERA, though--his FIP's only 8.00)

Dan Straily and Smyly could form quite the lefty/righty Cub castoff 1-2 punch.
   278. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 20, 2019 at 05:06 PM (#5854239)
Some reading on Azlozay.

The biggest thing you’ll notice: Alzolay is among the fastest workers on the mound I’ve ever seen. He’s seriously in Mark Buehrle territory. Triple-A broadcaster Alex Cohen will often laugh on air that Alzolay doesn’t give him time to even describe the previous pitch before the next one comes in. One important sign of his comfort and nerves in the Majors tonight will be if he’s maintaining this tempo. Don’t assume working fast will be a sign of nerves; in my mind the opposite will in fact be true.


Love at first sight for Elroy, I imagine.

---

Schwarber
Bryant
Rizzo
Baez
Contreras
Heyward
CarGo
Chatwood
Descalso

Chatwood is the best hitter in the bottom half-ish of the lineup, discuss.
   279. Walt Davis Posted: June 20, 2019 at 06:58 PM (#5854291)
Since CarGo is starting, I'll revive this from a few days ago that I only just noticed now ... on CarGo

Bad: 2 CS

At least one of those (the one I saw) was a busted hit and run so not on him.

And sigh ... there's just no reason to give Descalso a start, no matter what hand the pitcher throws with, how hard he is on RHB or how crap he is against LHB. There are two guys who are both better hitters and both better fielders and they are already battling each other for playing time, it makes zero sense. I don't say this sort of thing often but if I was Theo, I'd haul Joe into the office and tell him he's fired if he ever does this again. (Obvious exception if at least one of Bote/Russell is banged up right now.)

This appears to be the 3rd time Descalso has suckered a team into a 2-year guaranteed contract ... and this one the most expensive of the three so obviously Theo deserves the "big" blame here. On the bright side, Descalso's solid years come in his "contract push" years so next year he might be decent. :-)
   280. Brian C Posted: June 20, 2019 at 07:17 PM (#5854299)
The Descalso signing annoyed me at the time but with each PA it just annoys me even more. I think it's easily the most annoyed I've been with a player acquisition in the Theo era.

I mean, no one can even argue that a 49 OPS+ is all that unpredictable - dude somehow managed to put up a .205 BA once while playing with the Rockies.
   281. Walt Davis Posted: June 21, 2019 at 02:04 AM (#5854577)
It only just dawned on me that his first name is Adbert. And not a character from Dilbert?
   282. Spahn Insane Posted: June 21, 2019 at 10:05 AM (#5854609)
The Descalso signing was a Jim Hendry-esque move--give a multiyear contract to a 32-year-old spare part who's coming off a career season (and that "career season" is a 109 OPS+ in a little over 400 PAs).

And I'm surprised this is his third multiyear deal. Must be that magic Cardinal pixie dust from the LDS rally off Drew Storen, where Descalso and Pete Kozma tagteamed to rip the Nats' hearts out. (All due respect to the Cardinals, their pixie dust hasn't really been a thing for several years now.)
   283. Spahn Insane Posted: June 21, 2019 at 10:14 AM (#5854616)
I loved watching Alzolay pitch last night. He seemed a little wound up in his first inning (unsurprisingly), but his second inning was just beautiful. Struck out the side with virtually every pitch hitting one of the edges of the strike zone box (and in different locations--the Frazier AB, he struck him out on 4 pitches, the one ball could've been called a strike, and Frazier never took the bat off his shoulder as Alzolay hit the upper left corner, the lower left corner, the left/middle (called a ball), and an inside corner pitch for strike three. He was just carving the Mets up once he got settled.

Basically, he was throwing all strikes, but nothing hittable until he lost it a little in the 9th. But I was glad Joe sent him back out there to give him a shot at finishing.
   284. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 21, 2019 at 10:27 AM (#5854626)
Yep. I think Alzolay benefited a bit from a strike zone that was getting bigger every inning. He wasn't always hitting his spots - he was missing to other parts of the zone though. He really didn't have great fastball control, and didn't throw many curves, but his changeup was fooling everyone and he hit 95/96 fairly often. I think the slowest one I saw was either 80 or 81.

I LOVED how quickly he was working, and clearly it annoyed the Mets hitters - both Frazier and Cano really tried to go out of their way to slow him down and it didn't seem to fluster him at all.
   285. Spahn Insane Posted: June 21, 2019 at 12:20 PM (#5854685)
Yep. I think Alzolay benefited a bit from a strike zone that was getting bigger every inning.

Maybe, but I didn't see him getting many calls out of the zone--those borderline pitches were all objectively strikes if you trust the strike zone box graphic. It's probably true that one can't expect all those borderline pitches to be all called strikes consistently, but it seemed to me he was putting the change wherever the hell he wanted it.
   286. Walt Davis Posted: June 23, 2019 at 08:27 PM (#5855222)
As of start Sunday, the entire NL Central is withing 5.5 games of one another. The smallest lead (1st to 2nd) in any other division is 5.5 games. This is gonna be a dogfight.
   287. Walt Davis Posted: June 23, 2019 at 09:31 PM (#5855234)
Expanding a smidgen on that ... it's not that the division is blah. They have an overall positive run differential (Cubs and Reds, dragged down by Pirates); they are +12 vs NLE and +5 vs the AL (Pirates 8-3) and -8 against the NLW (Pirates 10-16, Brewers 6-11). It's pretty clear nobody in the division can really hang with the Dodgers (19-11) but the Braves (15-7) are the only other team beating up on the NLC.

Also, don't look now, but the Marlins have just the 3rd worst run differential in the NL (Giants, Pirates).

NL 76-56 vs AL
   288. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 24, 2019 at 10:55 AM (#5855314)
I was at Saturday's game. Perhaps my Lester curse has added Quintana. On the bright side, I've now seen Caratini pitch in person twice now.

---

On Happ in Iowa:
The inconsistencies are plain to see in the numbers. In his last 31 plate appearances, Happ is slashing .148/.258/.148 with 10 strikeouts. But in the 40 plate appearances before that, he slashed .300/.475/.633 with just 11 strikeouts. Previously, he had a 1.156 OPS for one week and a .648 OPS the week after that. You get the picture.

Happ’s struggles in Iowa have mirrored his major-league career. Going into Sunday’s game, he’s hitting .228 with a .758 OPS. That OPS was the seventh-highest in Saturday’s Iowa Cubs’ lineup. Happ has an .811 OPS from the right side at Iowa, but most of what he’s working on is from the left side where he has a .729 OPS in over 200 plate appearances.


Having said that, something has to give here - Cubs 2b are hitting .207/.287/.341, CF are hitting .248/.313/.379, and RF are hitting .255/.345/.415. They can live with 1 or those spots hitting like that (maybe 2, if the defense were ++), but definitely not all 3. Heyward is what he is, and you live with that (begrudgingly) if he's the worst regular bat. Almora isn't cutting it, and neither are Russell or Descalso. And unfortunately, Happ isn't the answer.

---

After yesterday, Hamels has slid ahead/into a tie with Javy for the team lead in bWAR - 3.1. There are also 3 RP in the top 12...
   289. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 24, 2019 at 12:09 PM (#5855333)
Cubs 2b are hitting .207/.287/.341, CF are hitting .248/.313/.379, and RF are hitting .255/.345/.415

Where would they add? 2B is solved via Bote but I'm not sure they will move on from Russell. Nor am I sure the Cubs are ready to push aside Schwarber or Almora.
   290. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 24, 2019 at 12:22 PM (#5855337)
I'm not touching Schwarber at this piont. Yeah, I think Russell is going to stick around, if only to backup SS (and 2b). Bote probably should be given a run as extended everyday 2b (he's actually hitting RHP a lot better than LHP so far this year .881OPS vs .644). Almora/Heyward is probably a decent CF platoon. So that means RF to me (if there's a CF that's easier to acquire, sure). Who is out there and likely to be available?
   291. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 24, 2019 at 06:40 PM (#5855501)
Updates from Theo...

• Hendricks 15 pitches off mound today. Full bullpen tentatively later in week
• Edwards up to 120 feet today, should be off mound in near future
• Morrow has completed two mound sessions with no issues
• Hoerner could start rehab games in AZ this week


Theo Epstein said that Craig Kimbrel could be with the team by the end of the week pending outing in minors today and conversation with the group tomorrow .
   292. Walt Davis Posted: June 24, 2019 at 08:50 PM (#5855528)
A productive Zobrist return would solve all ills ... well, enough offensive ills. That's probably not real likely but it's certainly the simplest solution.

2B was an issue last year as well, leading to the brief Murphy stint. Over on regular Primer, I think we've looked around in CF and there's just nothing available, certainly not any that have hit. Almora's bat has crashed and burned but he is that ++ defender and, by bWAR, average overall this year and for his career. If we're not gonna hit, let's play D. Especially since Rfield puts Heyward as pretty bad in CF this year while still pretty good in RF. Even as bad as Almora's bat has been, him in CF and Heyward in RF is still easily our best lineup.

The vague possibilities in CF:

Leury Garcia -- an average bench player for the last 3 years, FA after 2020.
DeShields -- if Tex tanks soon but just an Almora type
Dyson -- if Ariz tanks soon, an Almora type

Among CF (70%) with at least 150 PA this year, Almora is 13th. Those are the only potentially available guys with more WAR/WAA (unless the Pirates want to trade us Marte). The only 3 guys above replacement level behind him are Hamilton, Bradley and Nick Senzel (don't think he's moving). Was Bradley drafted by Theo?

So maybe a corner OF ... Garrett Cooper is a longtime minor-leaguer having a very nice year for Miami so they might want to cash in. Alex Gordon is having a nice year but could turn back into Heyward (in LF) at any moment. I'm sure Trey Mancini can kick the ball into the RF corner with the best of them. Domingo Santana is probably available and having a nice year with the bat and apparently terrible with the glove so below-average. Castellanos is Santana having a worse year with the bat. By this point we're down to Heyward and Almora anyway but there's really nobody interesting and available even as far down as Schwarber. Nomar Mazara maybe (having a good year by his standards but really just a replacement for CarGo ... and again only if Tex falls apart).

Meanwhile 2B just pretty much stinks everywhere. Sogard is having an awesome year for the first time in his career. Bote doesn't qualify for my list but his WAA would put him t7th in MLB (with LaStella natch). I'm not sure Bote can really maintain this but I don't see anybody worth trading for. FWIW, Russell is flashing enough glove that bWAR puts him a bit above-average overall. Probably against LHP, it should be Russell/Baez/Bote with Bryant in RF, Almora in CF.

On the plus side, Schwarber doesn't have a L/R split this year ... on the downside, he's not hitting RHP as well as usual.
   293. Meatwad Posted: June 24, 2019 at 10:49 PM (#5855565)
Kimbrel did not pitch at iowa today. Also I think CarGo should be known as No CarsGo while as a cub.
   294. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: June 24, 2019 at 11:13 PM (#5855573)
With today's game in the books, the Cubs have officially closed the gap in games played - they're even with the Brewers at 78, and have more than the other three teams in the division.
   295. Walt Davis Posted: June 25, 2019 at 12:44 AM (#5855588)
With today's game in the books, the Cubs have officially closed the gap in games played

But only one day off between now and the AS break -- Friday July 5 of course.

Other quasi-random tidbits ...

Tony Barnette seems like he might be a decent pitcher. He went off to Japan for 6 years, came back to the Rangers in his mid-30s in 2016. He pitched pretty well for them -- 134 ERA+ with a ERA matching his FIP with good (not great) Ks, low BB, low HR. Seems he got hurt last year, I assume is healthy now. All added up to 2.5 WAR, 1.4 WAA over 2.5 seasons. He cost us $750 K and has a $3 M option for next year so might as well find out what we got.

Meanwhile, check out these crazy splits from Javy:

pull 500/1000 (48 PA)
midl 345/661 (110 PA)
away 490/959 (49 PA)

He hit very well away in 2017, crushed it last year and is doing even better this year. The best-ever for a RHB, at least 75 PA the other way ...

Seitzer 1988 1561 OPS
Jose Hernandez 2002 1547 (Javy's twin!)
Ivan Rodrighez 2000 1509
Piazza 1996 1500
Phil Nevin 2000 1489 (wait for it)
Phil Nevin 2001 1418
Julio Franco 1991 1416
ARod 2000 1407
Sosa 2002 1389
Javy 2018 1377

Another reason to comp Javy and Sosa (and Javy and Jose Hernandez).

Phil Nevin loved mid-sillyball -- a 243 hitter from 1995-99, he hit over 300 both of these years and 295 from 2000-2004 overall.

   296. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 25, 2019 at 09:41 AM (#5855618)
Another reason to comp Javy and Sosa (and Javy and Jose Hernandez).

Hmmmm, maybe going the other way is a winning strategy for guys with great batspeed but a poor batting eye. If you have the power to do it that extra microsecond of time might make the difference. It needs more data of course.
   297. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 25, 2019 at 10:19 AM (#5855629)
Thanks for going through those options, Walt. I basically agree with all of 292* - especially the part that it looks like Zobrist coming back productive is the best option for RF. Considering Theo said it was possible recently, making the Cubs have come to the same conclusion.

*I don't know if Bote can keep this up or not, but he's surely earned the right to prove it. To my eye, his defense is good at 2b, so let's see him play damn near every day for a couple of weeks. It might also be time to AAA Russell or IL Descalso and give Robel Garcia a look see (non-prospect, but back from overseas and now hitting .294/.375/.606 with 19HR between AA/AAA this year; he's striking out a LOT in AAA, so there might not be anything there, but maybe you catch a hot streak; EDIT: Sharma wrote about him today).


---

Last night I think we saw the downside of overexcited Willy. Not that anything bad happened, but it sure seemed like he was asking for it. In the 2nd, there was a shot of Donaldson stepping out of the box and shhhhing the Cubs dugout; the pitch before Willy's HR, he was complaining to the ump (huge, huge zone all night) and looks like Flowers said something/laughed to/at Willy; then Willy says something to Flowers right after he hits/again after he gets home. Willy does appear to be a bit of an #######; you could see him telling the dugout about everything after the HR and he was still fired up but everyone else was laughing. He's lucky he didn't get hit last night (not sure there was an AB that made sense to put him on from the Braves' perspective), but I'm pretty sure he will and maybe it's a good thing he'll at least have a day to cool off.
   298. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: June 25, 2019 at 11:05 AM (#5855641)
Cubs dugout; the pitch before Willy's HR, he was complaining to the ump (huge, huge zone all night) and looks like Flowers said something/laughed to/at Willy; then Willy says something to Flowers right after he hits/again after he gets home. Willy does appear to be a bit of an #######; you could see him telling the dugout about everything after the HR and he was still fired up but everyone else was laughing. He's lucky he didn't get hit last night (not sure there was an AB that made sense to put him on from the Braves' perspective), but I'm pretty sure he will and maybe it's a good thing he'll at least have a day to cool off.
Yep. I hope people can differentiate between this and actual celebrating for "Let the kids play" purposes.
   299. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 25, 2019 at 11:23 AM (#5855648)
*I don't know if Bote can keep this up or not, but he's surely earned the right to prove it. To my eye, his defense is good at 2b, so let's see him play damn near every day for a couple of weeks. It might also be time to AAA Russell or IL Descalso and give Robel Garcia a look see (non-prospect, but back from overseas and now hitting .294/.375/.606 with 19HR between AA/AAA this year; he's striking out a LOT in AAA, so there might not be anything there, but maybe you catch a hot streak; EDIT: Sharma wrote about him today).

Reading between the lines he's a guy who destroys fastballs but the Cubs are unsure about his ability to handle breaking stuff. So that's probably what he has to do in AAA in order to leapfrog Descalso. It would be a great story if a makes it to MLB and I suspect he's in line for a September promotion if nothing else.
   300. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 25, 2019 at 05:00 PM (#5855817)
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