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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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   401. Walt Davis Posted: July 16, 2019 at 01:12 AM (#5862160)
On the Cubs and jumping the market (or not waiting it out) ... I'm not so concerned about the timing, I'm concerned about the quality. If the Cubs can gain an advantage by jumping the market, please do so even if it means "overpaying" some. Morrow wasn't a guy to jump the market for.

Still, of other FA signees out there that I think were reasonably on the Cubs' radar, good fits, money fits, etc. ... there's 20/20 hindsight on lots of guys but I'm not sure there's more than one FA we really missed out on in the last few years and that's Cain (who isn't hitting at all this year). He addressed a need and wasn't particularly expensive. The trade market of the last few years is probably more damning -- not just the high cost of the trades Theo has made but missing out on Yelich and a few others. Even Ozuna in place of Schwarber would probably have been worth it. (Schwarber has really turned out to be the Cubs' blind spot ... and for most of us too.)

Note whether the damning on the lack of the right trades is a matter of valuation or a matter of not having enough chits to trade for Yelich, etc. doesn't matter a lot -- the lack of chits is the result of the other trades.
   402. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 16, 2019 at 09:17 AM (#5862178)
I've been meaning to post a new one of these, especially for the 2nd half, but things have been quite busy.

Cubs traded Montgomery for Martin Maldonado last night, and put Contreras on the IL with a heel issue. Now, this can mean a few different things. One, this could mean the Cubs plan on carrying 3 catchers when Willy comes back (possible, Joe's done this before, and in a pinch you could have Contreras or Caratini fill in at a couple of other spots; this would be fine at the expense of a bullpen arm or Descalso - it wouldn't be ok if it meant sending Garcia back down*); two, they could either plan on sending Caratini down (not ideal, but he'd be back when rosters expand) or trading him in a bigger deal (depending on the return, I'm totally fine with this; he's good for a backup C but I'm not sure he's an everyday guy and if he were it's not on this team anyway); or worst of all, three, they're actually worried about Contreras's injury. Now, they've already lied about it like they do with all of these (before the game yesterday, Maddon said Contreras was texting to get into yesterday's lineup but the Cubs decided to hold him out another day and he was likely to play today), but they have said this is precautionary and they expect he won't be on the IL long. TBD.

Monty has been pretty bad this year, and the Cubs have totally skipped over him for spot starts (Alec Mills is starting tonight**) and he did ask for a trade earlier. Too bad they couldn't get more from him, but understand the market***. He also asked for a trade earlier this year because he wants to start, and he's going right into KC's rotation. So, good for him, and he'll also be the guy who got the last out****.

Last night's game sucked, in all the ways everything sucked going into the break - bad defense, bad baserunning, bad relief pitching, bad situational hitting. All of those looked great in the weekend sweep of the Pirates (expect for Strop's bad inning), but at some point maybe this is just the team the Cubs are. I guess I still expect another trade or two, and I'm going to guess another player or 2 from the 25 man roster will be moved/replaced. Edwards in rehabbing, so he probably comes back after Mills starts today (with Rosario going down for Mills); Happ has been really good lately, but doubt he'd come up to be just another bench guy.

*Yes, it's early, but it's not hard to like what we've seen so far. Maybe he eventually gets figured out, but that hasn't happened yet. In fact, he should be getting more PT (though I understand going defense with Russell over him last night with Hendricks on the mound).
**Bummed a little it's not Alzolay, but this really is just a spot start since they don't need a 5th guy until 8/3 I think, and I do think it's worth seeing Mills again.
***Though yet again, all we talked about all offseason was a depth backup veteran C and the Cubs didn't sign the money. They potentially could have gotten a guy like this before and stashed him in AAA until needed. So in another way, this is the Cubs being somewhat reckless with the fringes of their roster.
****I think I saw a tweet that the Cubs now only have 12 guys left from the 25 man WS roster (plus Zobrist, who Theo still thinks will be back this year).
   403. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 16, 2019 at 09:32 AM (#5862180)
I must say, acquiring a catcher with no options strikes me as an odd move. Why not call up Taylor Davis or somebody with options? Surely the Cubs aren't going to DFA Maldonado in less than two weeks.

Will the Cubs be trying to get Caratini's bat in the lineup more at other positions (e.g. as Rizzo's caddy)? Is this something they wouldn't already get from Garcia or Bote? Is one of the starting pitchers complaining about working with Contreras and Caratini?
   404. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 16, 2019 at 09:46 AM (#5862183)
****I think I saw a tweet that the Cubs now only have 12 guys left from the 25 man WS roster (plus Zobrist, who Theo still thinks will be back this year).

Contreras, Rizzo, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Almora, Schwarber, Heyward, Lester, Hendricks, Strop, and Edwards Jr.

Gone: Fowler, Ross, Soler, Montero, Coughlan, Arrieta, Lackey, Chapman, Montgomery, Rondon, Grimm, Wood. With Zobrist in between.
   405. Zonk Will Not Get Over It Abusing Its Office Posted: July 16, 2019 at 09:50 AM (#5862184)

C'mon, Russell is a slimeball but he's also got 6 WAA in about 3.5 seasons of full-time play. That's really good, not a stopgap. Baseball-wise, about the worst someone can claim is that the WAA is trending in the wrong direction. He's a below-average hitter, even for a SS, and a well above-average fielder, even for a SS. Jose Iglesias (0 WAA over the last 2200 PA) is even above-stopgap. Freddy Galvis is closer to stopgap (-2.4 WAR in about 5 full). On a per PA basis, Russell has been better than Bogaerts over the last 5 years and he's #8 overall among SS (70%) by WAA in that time.

Plenty of teams would like Russell the baseball player.


Perhaps you're right - but more than half of that came in his first two seasons.... and we're in year 3 post-2016. I think trending in the wrong direction is understatement. He'll be 26 this offseason and I just think it's time to accept that he's turning into Alex Gonzalez... a slick fielding SS with a bit of power beyond what you normally find in slick fielding SS's. I'm underselling his defense, I guess - but I still think any good team (perhaps I should have added that qualifier) would look at him as a stopgap.

If his... issues... pushed his arb clock backwards somehow, maybe. But I'm just not seeing anyone giving the Cubs a reasonable piece for him. He doesn't have the team control left to make sense for a rebuilder and he's just not good enough for any of the contenders with healthy SS's to see him as an upgrade.

Probably doesn't matter anyway because as much as it pains me - I'm not entirely sure they don't need him at 2B and as an occasional Javy breather. Bote is annoying me more than pleasing me at the moment and the less said about Descalso the better.
   406. Kiko Sakata Posted: July 16, 2019 at 10:31 AM (#5862194)
I must say, acquiring a catcher with no options strikes me as an odd move. Why not call up Taylor Davis or somebody with options? Surely the Cubs aren't going to DFA Maldonado in less than two weeks.


Caratini still has options (or at least "an option"), so the Cubs could drop to two catchers including a healthy Willson without DFA'ing anybody. More likely, they'll probably just go with three catchers; they've done that pretty frequently with Maddon (hell, the Cubs played three different catchers in Game 7 of the World Series - all of whom drove in a run).

Happ has been really good lately, but doubt he'd come up to be just another bench guy.


There's no reason why Ian Happ should "be just another bench guy" though. Play him instead of Almora against most right-handed pitchers and play him over Schwarber or Heyward against most left-handed starters. Maybe throw him into the rotation at 2B. If Happ is "fixed" it's pretty easy to get him regular playing time in a way that improves the Cubs.
   407. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 16, 2019 at 10:39 AM (#5862197)
Caratini still has options (or at least "an option"), so the Cubs could drop to two catchers including a healthy Willson without DFA'ing anybody.

Thank you, I had forgotten that.

There's no reason why Ian Happ should "be just another bench guy" though. Play him instead of Almora against most right-handed pitchers and play him over Schwarber or Heyward against most left-handed starters. Maybe throw him into the rotation at 2B. If Happ is "fixed" it's pretty easy to get him regular playing time in a way that improves the Cubs.

His season OPS is .788 in a league enjoying an offensive explosion. There are 12 Iowa Cubs who have gotten at least 100 at bats. Among them Happ is 10th in OPS. I am pretty reluctant to give him at bats over anybody.
   408. Zonk Will Not Get Over It Abusing Its Office Posted: July 16, 2019 at 11:37 AM (#5862231)
I am pretty reluctant to give him at bats over anybody.


So long as Descalso exists, this is in incorrect.
   409. Brian C Posted: July 16, 2019 at 01:49 PM (#5862286)
Which just begs the question of why Descalso is still around in the first place. Surely he’s beyond redundant on a roster with Russell, Bote, and Garcia.

At any rate, his presence proves that the Cubs have enough roster flexibility to carry three catchers if they want to.
   410. Spahn Insane Posted: July 16, 2019 at 02:04 PM (#5862294)
Descalso = Aaron Miles
   411. Brian C Posted: July 16, 2019 at 02:42 PM (#5862313)
Exactly. But Theo != Hendry, hence my consternation.
   412. Spahn Insane Posted: July 16, 2019 at 03:45 PM (#5862346)
But Theo != Hendry, hence my consternation.

He does have the occasional Hendry-esque moments, doesn't he. The Ross signing was sort of like that--38-year-old backup catcher coming off two straight years hitting around .180, and he gets a 2-year deal. (It worked out OK for the Cubs, of course--Ross had a really nice swan song season in 2016, apart from the obvious.)

Of course, they almost certainly don't do that if not for Ross's connection to Lester.
   413. Javy Joan Baez (chris h.) Posted: July 16, 2019 at 04:31 PM (#5862363)
Yeah, I'm willing to cut Thed some slack on a catcher that has a connection to arguably your best pitcher.

Descalso, though, is 100% prime Hendrying.
   414. Brian C Posted: July 16, 2019 at 05:28 PM (#5862373)
He does have the occasional Hendry-esque moments, doesn't he.

Not really! Even putting results aside, there seems to be very little overlap between the two in how they approach running a baseball team.

At any rate, Descalso's had all of 23 PA over the entire last month. Which I don't disagree with in principle because he's terrible, but it does mean that he's basically a waste of a roster spot even aside from sucking. They really need to find a role for him or cut him loose.
   415. Zonk Will Not Get Over It Abusing Its Office Posted: July 16, 2019 at 06:34 PM (#5862388)
Descalso = Aaron Miles


I'm going to have to bill you for stealing my IP....
   416. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 16, 2019 at 08:50 PM (#5862419)
Farting around at B-ref's Play Index.......

Looking at catchers with at least 100 PA, Maldanado comes in 2nd in MLB in 2019 in WAR Fielding Runs, with +8. The guy ahead of him (J.T. Realmuto) has one more fielding run in considerably more playing time. Not earth shattering news that he has a good glove, but you can make an argument that he's the best defensive catcher working right now.
   417. Brian C Posted: July 16, 2019 at 09:13 PM (#5862427)
I'm digging these throwback uniforms tonight.
   418. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 17, 2019 at 09:58 AM (#5862503)
A few things are obvious after seeing Maldanado just once....he has a very obvious 70's or 80's catcher's body; it's night and day how he receives pitches compared to Contreras so I continue to understand how Willson does such a bad job "framing"; and he looks much more like a number 38 than Montgomery did.

I thought Mills pitched really good last night; first inning was some bad luck (2 HBP that were as weak as them come - Dietrich stuck his elbow into the ball that had no chance of hitting him, and the Reds stole some runs on the hit and run with Bryant covering third and the weak grounder going to right where he was), but he pitched great after that - again, all 3 HBP were of the weakest possible variety and are not at all indicative of a control problem, IMO. If CJ is ready to go, he probably goes back down and keeps starting in AAA.
   419. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 17, 2019 at 12:03 PM (#5862545)
I would like to draw attention to the fact that Robel Garcia has a 1.298 OPS. Sure, it's only in 26 plate appearances but even in that tiny sample that performance generated 0.4 WAA (per BB-Ref).
   420. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 17, 2019 at 12:57 PM (#5862563)
Oh, I've noticed. I've been restraining myself from complaining on days he isn't starting - like today (I get Russell for defense behind Hendricks, I guess, but wtf would you start him today against Gray with Darvish on the mound?). Speaking of complaining, why is Almora hitting leadoff today against a RHP?
   421. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 17, 2019 at 01:26 PM (#5862573)
Jordan Bastian @MLBastian 26m26 minutes ago

Hottovy: Hamels threw a 25-pitch bullpen today with no issues. Next step is another bullpen (likely Saturday). After that? Maybe a sim game or rehab assignment.

If the veteran is responding well, “we don’t want to slow play Cole Hamels,” said the Cubs pitching coach.


Wherever I got my info about the next time the Cubs need a 5th starter was wrong; they have tomorrow off but then 6 straight games, and another off day. So they'll need another start from one of Mills/Chatwood/Alzolay against the Giants next week.
   422. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 17, 2019 at 04:28 PM (#5862665)
Christopher Kamka @ckamka 5m5 minutes ago

Yu Darvish since All-Star Break (2 starts):

12.0 IP, 4 hits, 0 runs, 1 BB, 15 K

Took a no-hitter into the 5th inning both games.

Chicago Cubs @Cubs 3m3 minutes ago

Opponents are hitting .213 vs. @faridyu this season, the 3rd-best mark among qualified NL starters.


Key for him obviously is to keep not walking anyone, right? Pulled after 83 pitches today for a PH leading off the 7th, but he hit 98 on his last pitch.
   423. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 17, 2019 at 07:09 PM (#5862733)
In his first 8 starts, Darvish had a 19.3% walk rate. Since then, 12 starts, he's walked just 5.8%. Darvish's thoughts on that? "For my career, I always have a lot of walks. I’ve been most surprised about that. I didn’t give up a lot of walks last 7, 8 starts. That surprises me."
   424. Meatwad Posted: July 18, 2019 at 01:18 AM (#5862789)
If yu goes on a roll and hamels comes back healthy and does well who gets left off on a possibl playoff rotation? Q may be the odd man out if that happens.
   425. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 18, 2019 at 01:49 PM (#5862923)
May depend on the matchup, and what the rest of the bullpen looks like. Based on pedigree, I guess, Q might be the 5th starter. Plenty will happen between now and then I'm sure it'll work itself out/be obvious when the time comes.
   426. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 19, 2019 at 10:31 AM (#5863146)
It's against a lefty, and Lester is on the mound, but this lineup today is just, rrrrr

Almora
Baez
Bryant LF
Rizzo
Russell
Heyward
Bote
Maldonado
Lester

For the record, Schwarber is better against LHP (.711OPS) than Almora (.567OPS, .678OPS total); Almora has a .256OBP against LHP this year. Russell is only hitting .718OPS vs LHP.
   427. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 19, 2019 at 04:01 PM (#5863282)
Couple random thoughts as I watch this game in 150 degree heat hoping it cools down before I go to the game on Sunday (then it can warm back up for all I care, as I'll be in London next week).

Bryant has completely stormed into the bWAR lead at 3.6; Hamels/Javy tied at 3 (Javy has slowly been sliding back the last few weeks). After a really slow start (on 4/21, his line sat at .221/.341/.375), he's hitting .322/.428/.628 with 19HRs and a 57/41 k/bb rate* - that is the year I keep predicting for him. I keep seeing comparisons to his MVP season, and he is currently beating his BA/OBP/SLG from that season for the whole year.

Rizzo, OTHO, has sort of cooled off again. He seems to go through these streaks every year, though not to the same extreme as Javy. His last HR was on 6/15 (and he hits a grand slam as I'm typing this post**). Since that last HR, he's hitting .300/.407/.422 - so he hasn't really slumped, but the power oddly disappeared. He's basically right where you'd expect him to be for the year.

Javy, OTOH, has been slumping a bit. He's at .246/.262/.449 since 6/8, with 35/3 k/bb and only 6HRs. That wasn't really his high point, but it was around that time when I think he first hurt his heel. Hopefully playing through it isn't keeping it from healing up. I think I just heard JD say Javy hasn't had an XBH this homestand, and I would expect a foot thing to mess with his power.

Schwarber probably should be moved out of the leadoff spot now. He's been there for 52 games, and his OBP there is lower than overall (.319 vs .324); hitting leadoff magically fixed his power (.541 SLG vs .480 overall).

Speaking off leadoff, it's probably time to put Heyward there full time. He's going to play everyday regardless, and hit bat actually calls for it: .275/.357/.470 overall, and .366/.400/.680 his last 19 games (not including his 2 for 2 so far today). Since I ragged on his defense a bunch last year, I should also mention he's been amazing defensively lately - much moreso in RF, but I think he's been decent in CF too.

Rounding everything else up, Contreras was on fire when he got hurt but hopefully the IL stint is a needed rest that helps keep him fresh in the 2nd half, I still maintain high hopes for Garcia and he should be playing more often than he is until he proves he shouldn't be playing, Bote and Russell are just matchup guys (yes, I know Russell's D numbers, but I don't buy that he's really that much better than the other 2b options), and Caratini is a solid backup C/PH (maybe he'll PH when the Cubs end up sticking with 3 Cs which I think we all know is inevitable). Like I said before, looks like Happ is heating up so the Cubs maybe, should probably think about maybe bringing him up soon. I think wouldn't be surprised to see the Cubs trade for a position player, though that trade is going to have to end up including one of those last group of guys.

Rosario demoted for Edwards, and Mills will get at least one more start. Alzolay left his last AAA with biceps soreness (uh-oh?), but Hamels will likely be back early in August. Morrow is throwing still, but not pitching or off a mound yet, so who knows how unlikely it really is he pitches this year or not. It also sounds like the Cubs will know in the next week or so whether or not Zobrist will come back this year.

Maybe I'll have something to say about the pitching in more detail another time.

*His Krate and BBrate
**I really should make this a whole new thread, but I'm too lazy.
   428. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 20, 2019 at 03:28 PM (#5863480)
Lowest wRC+ over the past calendar year, minimum 400 PAs:
1. Billy Hamilton (57)
2. Chris Davis (58)
3. Albert Almora (62)
4. Kyle Seager (67)
5. Joe Panik (68)

Since July 1 of last season against lefties (148 PAs), Almora has a 58 wRC+


Keep batting him leadoff though. This is worse than Patterson at leadoff.

....

Russell also having a terrible game. Can't get to third on a wild pitch because he doesn't read it all all, them doubled off second on a obvious line drive to of, then loses a ball in the sun next inning and knocks it away from almora when he's in the ground letting the runner get to third. His defense grades out high, but he can't hit and his baseball awareness is subpar.
   429. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 20, 2019 at 06:55 PM (#5863514)
Maddon on Addison Russell: “He has to straighten some things out. He has to. There’s no question.”

Joe Maddon, clearly frustrated with Addison Russell’s play: “We’ve talked about his baserunning in the past. We’re making too many outs on the bases, and we’re missing things on the bases that we can’t to be an elite team.”


Bench him. Send him down. Just maybe don't play him as much?
   430. Meatwad Posted: July 21, 2019 at 01:25 AM (#5863563)
Trade his ass. Id rather see Garcia or Bote at second hell even happ.
   431. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 21, 2019 at 12:01 PM (#5863584)
Cubs lead the NL Central by three -- their biggest division lead of the year.
   432. Jeremy Renner App is Dead and I killed it Posted: July 21, 2019 at 03:19 PM (#5863613)
431--Cubs starting to pull away because they are the best team in the division. Why so many teams just stood around and let Chicago get Kimbrel is completely whack when quality relief pitching is a premium resource
   433. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 22, 2019 at 02:54 PM (#5863932)
Edwards down, Wick up. I think it might be change of scenery time for CJ; I was at the game yesterday, and the crowd turned on him *fast* - unfairly so. I don't know if it's going to work for him here, which is a damn shame.

---

Cubs are supposedly looking at/whatever Castellanos, Dyson, Sogard and various other similar parts. I think they'd ideally get a CF if I'm reading things right, but there just isn't one. Castellanos is BAD in the corners, so that wouldn't be a good defense with him out there. I'm all for trying just about anything, there's plenty of room on the roster that's currently occupied by dreck.
   434. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 22, 2019 at 08:24 PM (#5864026)
Dyson as a platoon partner for Almora makes a ton of sense. Unless you think Heyward can take CF and the Cubs can find a strong corner OF.
   435. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: July 22, 2019 at 09:06 PM (#5864039)
Hey Chicago guys. Bit of an off topic question here, but where else can a guy get some Chi Town gastronomic advice?

My neighbor (from Buffalo), is having a hot dog cookoff/cornhole tournament in September. She swears that Buffalo hot dogs are the best there ever is or will be*. I thought about importing some Portillos, and trying to lay my hands on some Goose Island to accompany it. I realize those are pretty mainstream and probably far from the best one can get, but I'm 25 years removed from the city and my information is really out of date.

Anyway, any suggestions, taking into consideration that I have to be able to purchase online and shipped to Florida? I can get 312 and IPA in my local grocery store. Feel free to e-mail me through my profile so as to not pollute the thread. Thanks.

*Last year was a chili cook off, which I won, and I am determined to win again.

   436. Brian C Posted: July 23, 2019 at 12:07 AM (#5864078)
Edwards down, Wick up. I think it might be change of scenery time for CJ; I was at the game yesterday, and the crowd turned on him *fast* - unfairly so. I don't know if it's going to work for him here, which is a damn shame.

Been awhile since CJ's been all that good. He had a decent ERA/FIP last year, but only because of an unsustainably low HR rate. At best his control is inconsistent, and hasn't improved. Every year his flyball rate goes up while his K rate goes down.

Not a lot of hope to be found in his peripheral stats, I guess is what I'm saying. And at this point, I don't think he has the stuff to justify a lot of patience. He's just org filler now, another depth guy on the AAA shuttle.
   437. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 23, 2019 at 04:32 AM (#5864088)
Dyson as a platoon partner for Almora makes a ton of sense. Unless you think Heyward can take CF and the Cubs can find a strong corner OF.

Like I pointed out before, Almora has a reverse platoon split this year - it's probably a bit of a fluke, but he doesn't really have a huge difference normally (career .755OPS vs LHP and .701OPS vs RHP). I'm fine with that platoon in theory, though I think it's one of the less appealing options. Then again, there really aren't many great options out there.

Not a lot of hope to be found in his peripheral stats, I guess is what I'm saying. And at this point, I don't think he has the stuff to justify a lot of patience. He's just org filler now, another depth guy on the AAA shuttle.

He's still really, really hard to get a hit off of (like, his BAA is one of the best in the league since he's appeared). This year you don't have much of a sample, and he's been hurt, but I still think there's a decent pitcher in there if you can figure out the mental part with him.

OTOH, I think Strop is broken. His velocity is down, so maybe he's not 100% (and if it's still his hamstring...), but it's going to be a shame if the Cubs feel they have to overpay for another big bullpen arm to help cover for Strop (I'm loathe to say it, but I remain hopeful for surprise Morrow).
   438. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 23, 2019 at 09:50 AM (#5864119)
Almora's career platoon difference is about .050 points of OPS. You're right about him not hitting LHP this year but that's only 87 plate appearances so I'm comfortable with the idea that he will hit LHP better than RHP due to league wide trends and his career norms.

Edwards has basically shown a steady decline in peripherals every season since he came up to the majors in 2016. I love watching him when he's on but it's hard to have confidence that things will get better for him.
   439. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 23, 2019 at 09:52 AM (#5864122)
Miserlou,

I have no great advice for you. I only get Italian beef at Portillos. I can assure you, though, that Portillos still has a great reputation in Chicagoland.
   440. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 23, 2019 at 11:43 AM (#5864163)
Reposted from last night's Omnichatter:

Shitty loss that’s entirely on ol’ Pedro.


Well, he was facing the "heart" of the Giants' order, such as it is. That's a situation where you should use your best reliever in the 8th rather than in the 9th...provided your best reliever doesn't refuse to pitch in any inning except the 9th. So Kimbrel deserves some of the blame to the extent that he should have been out there instead of Strop, and also Maddon for following the script rather than the situation.

Using Kimbrel more flexibly in the highest-leverage situations would help significantly in shoring up the bullpen. If they (and Kimbrel) refuse to do that and instead overpay for #MoarReleevurz, that would be another data point for the Cubs coming up a bit short relative to the best-run teams.

I remain hopeful for surprise Morrow
Jeez. I don't even know what to say.
   441. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 23, 2019 at 11:53 AM (#5864168)
I didn't say I was expecting Morrow (and I've kept my hope for Maples pretty quiet recently). But I'm also not really hoping for the Cubs pay retail in a trade for Smith or Greene or anyone else like that, might as well hope for someone already in the org.
   442. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 23, 2019 at 12:03 PM (#5864172)
But I'm also not really hoping for the Cubs pay retail in a trade for Smith or Greene or anyone else like that, might as well hope for someone already in the org.
Totally agree with the concept, I just think it's a lot more plausible for Kimbrel to pitch outside of the ninth than for Morrow to pitch at any time ever.
   443. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 23, 2019 at 12:04 PM (#5864173)
Copy and pasting liberally here:

Even more concerning, Almora has been completely absent against lefties this season. The center fielder entered the season with a solid 117 wRC+ against lefties, but this year he’s posted an unacceptable 38 wRC+ in 87 plate appearances (second-most on the team) against lefties.

Diving into Almora’s numbers explains why the Cubs are looking for a way to upgrade their center-field situation. Almora is sporting a 59 wRC+ over the past calendar year, third-worst in baseball for players with at least 400 plate appearances during that span. For his glove to truly make up for what he lacks on offense, Almora would need to be around an 85 wRC+.

And Almora hasn’t lacked for opportunities. He’s gotten 469 plate appearances during that time, only 30 fewer than Willson Contreras, who’s somehow been able to find his rhythm at the plate. Maddon has started Almora in eight of the first 10 games out of the break and he posted a .432 OPS during that span. He’s received six straight starts and delivered three hits, all singles, with no walks and seven strikeouts in 23 plate appearance.

Almora’s peripherals only suggest this will continue. He’s posted a 52.9 percent ground-ball rate over the last year, sixth-highest in baseball. That number has risen to 54.3 percent this season. His 23.2 percent soft-contact rate is sixth-highest over the last year and he ranks second this season at 24.5 percent. Many of those numbers were similar in 2018’s first half when he posted strong results, but it was likely a mirage buoyed by an unsustainable (for him) .374 BABIP. Almora doesn’t have the patience (5 percent career walk rate) or power (.128 ISO with the current league average at .181) to make up for these issues. Teams that expect to win just don’t give regular opportunities to players performing at Almora’s current offensive level.

Which brings us to Ian Happ, who has primarily played center field at Triple A. Reportedly he’s grown quite comfortable there defensively. But his future grows murkier the longer he remains in Iowa.

Happ is certainly available in the right trade, but his demotion was never about waiting for him to get hot and calling him back up. Happ was sent down to work on specific issues. In his last 17 games, Happ has a strong 171 wRC+ with a 22.1 percent strikeout rate and 20.8 percent walk rate. Those numbers are great, but it’s a small sample size, and the Cubs likely want to ensure that his adjustments stick long term. If he’s not traded, perhaps he’ll earn another shot in Chicago.


There's nothing stopping the Cubs from sending Almora to AAA and bringing Happ up and just giving him Almora's current ABs.

---

In the clubhouse, Descalso provides some intangible value that’s difficult for outsiders to appreciate.

“Last year I felt like fans were like, ‘Okay, we don’t have veterans on this club with a lot of young guys. Where’s the veteran leadership?’” Jason Heyward said. “That’s one thing he brings first and foremost. He leads by example, going about his work every day and being ready to do what the team asks of him. But at the same time, just being here, being a voice for multiple people. We need winners around. Winners. He gives us more diversity as far as, just going back to last year, you need guys who know how to win and bring that experience.”


Wait, what? *We* were the ones saying the team didn't have enough veteran leadership? GTFO with that crap.
   444. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 23, 2019 at 12:04 PM (#5864175)
Totally agree with the concept, I just think it's a lot more plausible for Kimbrel to pitch outside of the ninth than for Morrow to pitch at any time ever.

Is it though? Morrow has pitched much more recently than Maddon's used a closer before the 9th*.

*I'll guess the last time was Davis in game 5 of the 2017 NLDS.
   445. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 23, 2019 at 12:08 PM (#5864177)
Is it though? Morrow has pitched much more recently than Maddon's used a closer before the 9th*.
Just because Joe hasn't done it, doesn't mean it can't be done. The FO just needs to "adjust" his and Kimbrel's thinking on the matter. Whereas Morrow can't even put on pants without getting hurt.
   446. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 23, 2019 at 12:12 PM (#5864178)
Wait, what? *We* were the ones saying the team didn't have enough veteran leadership? GTFO with that crap.
Is it at all surprising that Heyward, of all people, would rationalize keeping an unproductive player around because he's convinced himself that "fans want veteran leadership?" But yeah, that's a crock. "Knows how to win," eh? Yeah, "how to win" usually involves being able to get on base. That's how to win.
   447. Zonk Will Not Get Over It Abusing Its Office Posted: July 23, 2019 at 12:24 PM (#5864184)
I'll be stunned if we get
To Morrow, to Morrow
Bet your bottom dollar
that's it for Morrow
I'll be stunned
   448. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 23, 2019 at 12:27 PM (#5864189)
Bet your bottom dollar
Unfortunately the Cubs bet 21 million of them.
   449. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 23, 2019 at 02:55 PM (#5864254)
There's nothing stopping the Cubs from sending Almora to AAA and bringing Happ up and just giving him Almora's current ABs.

If they're playing Happ in CF on a daily basis there then it sounds like they're entertaining this very possibility.

Is it at all surprising that Heyward, of all people, would rationalize keeping an unproductive player around because he's convinced himself that "fans want veteran leadership?"

That's .818 OPS-having Jason Heyward and you will address him as such.*

*Which will become confusing when his OPS changes in seven hours.
   450. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 23, 2019 at 03:34 PM (#5864271)
That's .818 OPS-having Jason Heyward and you will address him as such.*
Heyward has indeed been pretty cromulent this year. Maybe if we keep Descalso around for another 3-4 years he can find his way to being an average offensive player. Yay.
   451. Brian C Posted: July 23, 2019 at 04:04 PM (#5864279)
Wait, what? *We* were the ones saying the team didn't have enough veteran leadership? GTFO with that crap.

What do you want him to say? "Descalso sucks and we'll be a better team when he's gone"? You ask a player about a struggling teammate and they're gonna try to pick the guy up.

Also, I think "fans" and "media" get used pretty interchangeably by a lot of players (and media types certainly like to conflate themselves with fans). And there certainly were media types who talked their share about leadership last year. It's not like Heyward just completely conjured a straw man here.

Which brings us to Ian Happ, who has primarily played center field at Triple A. Reportedly he’s grown quite comfortable there defensively.

I dunno how much I trust the "reportedly" or the "comfortable" here ("comfortable" isn't exactly a synonym for "good"). Almora's certainly trying everyone's patience, but 1) a big part of his problem is that he's struggling with his usual strength over a small sample size, and 2) I'm not sure that I feel more optimistic about Happ sticking in CF than I do about Almora course-correcting against lefties.

   452. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 23, 2019 at 04:49 PM (#5864303)
I'm not criticizing Heyward for what he says about Descalso, that's obviously the answer he'll give. I'm calling out the first part. Also, I think the media was just parroting what Thed/Maddon had been saying anyway.

As for Almora, perhaps read those stats again - the vs LHP this year is a small sample but the 59wRC+ and underlying peripherals for the last year+ aren't. There doesn't seem to be much evidence that he's a major league hitter, at least not on a contending team - and the defense isn't making up for it.
   453. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 23, 2019 at 04:59 PM (#5864304)
Bleacher Nation @BleacherNation
Addison Russell Says He Needs to “Become More Familiar With the Signs”
   454. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 23, 2019 at 05:08 PM (#5864309)
Addison Russell Says He Needs to “Become More Familiar With the Signs”
In oh so many ways.
   455. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 24, 2019 at 04:13 AM (#5864479)
Gordon Wittenmyer @GDubCub 1h

Only Orioles, Tigers and White Sox have worse road record than Cubs' 18-29.

10 of those losses by one-run.

Bryant: “I don’t know how to explain it. Sometimes it goes your way. Sometimes it doesn’t. Doesn’t seem to be going our way this year in terms of one-run games.”
   456. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 24, 2019 at 12:15 PM (#5864576)
Almora is sporting a 59 wRC+ over the past calendar year, third-worst in baseball for players with at least 400 plate appearances during that span

Here's the list. Ouch.
   457. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 24, 2019 at 01:15 PM (#5864610)
Just behind... Martin Maldonado.
   458. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 24, 2019 at 01:24 PM (#5864617)
Anyway, Almora's never really hit since he graduated from the middle A Midwest League and it's (presumably) a pretty low cost move to bring in Dyson.

As for Happ's defense, he got more time in CF than I remembered the past two seasons.

In 2017 he played 346.2 innings there and was rated +27 Rtot/yr and +10 Rdrs/yr.

In 2018 it was 403.2 innings in CF rated -20 Rtot/yr and -21 Rdrs/yr.

So that's almost 800 innings (which is almost 2/3 of a season) of something approximating average in centerfield at the major league level.

Also, I didn't realize just how gruesome Almora's been lately. I mean, I knew it was bad but geez. He posted a .530 OPS in June and has a .487 OPS in July.

I will be shocked if Almora is the primary CF a week from now.
   459. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 24, 2019 at 01:46 PM (#5864629)
Lester has been scratched due to illness and Chatwood is being pressed into service today.
   460. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 24, 2019 at 01:58 PM (#5864636)
And Russell is getting sent down to AAA. I wonder if I will post five times in a row.
   461. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 24, 2019 at 02:29 PM (#5864651)
It's such a poorly designed 25 man roster now. Russell to AAA was due, and almora shouldn't be far behind. I am now convinced they should just swap him and Happ regardless of whatever deal happens before the seat. If not, then Happ is as good as gone.
   462. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 24, 2019 at 03:29 PM (#5864684)
It's such a poorly designed 25 man roster now.

Three catchers, three outfielders, and six infielders but only one of them can play shortstop.
   463. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 24, 2019 at 04:10 PM (#5864696)
Not to mention the 9 man bullpen.
   464. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 24, 2019 at 04:17 PM (#5864699)
Who's taking Russell's place on the roster?
   465. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 24, 2019 at 04:27 PM (#5864701)
Who's taking Russell's place on the roster?
<Tom Hanks voice> WILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLSON!! </Tom Hanks voice>
   466. Walt Davis Posted: July 25, 2019 at 01:22 AM (#5864797)
Catching up after a while ....

#424: If yu goes on a roll and hamels comes back healthy and does well who gets left off on a possibl playoff rotation?

Lester ... I know that's heretical and I still have plenty of faith in him for a playoff start but over his last 12 starts, 5.40 ERA, 348 BABIP, 15 HR in 68 IP. He has been better lately with 3 QS in his last 5 starts.

#427: Javy since you called him out: 8 for 23, 3 doubles, 2 HR ... so keep on him! :-)

Three catchers, three outfielders, and six infielders but only one of them can play shortstop.

To be fair, one of those IF is still Descalso who really shouldn't play anywhere so it's really 5 IF. :-)

The Cubs are, in one or two ways, reminding me of recent Mets teams. Although we knew 2016 was a bit of a miracle year for Fowler, we also knew that meant the 2017-18 (and now 19) Cubs would benefit a lot from a boost in CF. Many of us (including me) thought Almora might round into a decent enough hitter to be an average or better CF given his defense. But even so, we weren't necessarily comfortable with Heyward as the back-up and only alternative. So then they tried Happ and it didn't work out so well. That's all very Mets-ish as they've been playing blah in CF for, what, 5-6 years now and regularly end up trying to squeeze Conforto or Nimmo or (back in the day) Cespedes into that spot. Which I suppose is a long way of saying "I would love to have Dyson on the roster in place of Descalso." (Granted, I'd consider Zonk on the roster in place of Descalso.)

But sure, other than Cain, I'm not sure a good CF option has come across the table since Fowler left. (And bummer, Fowler has been slumping again and is down to 100 OPS+ for the season -- Cardinal or not, I was hoping he would have a good season.)

As to "smart" teams using their "closer" in the 8th rather than the 9th ... is that really happening? Certainly not in Houston. Certainly not in NY (are the Yanks smart again?) Certainly not with the Angels who I read recently are doing some Tampa-ish things with their pen but Robles has been pretty strictly a 9th inning guy since taking the closer's role after Allen's implosion. Is it anybody but Tampa and their pretty mediocre bullpen? (I can't find anyplace on b-r that breaks this down for a team -- it would be nice to have the inning-pitching equivalent of the "games by position" table.)

Don't get me wrong, I've been advocating such a strategy for probably 15+ years now. But I've yet to see anybody really implement it. Teams with mediocre/bad pens end up spreading opportunities around ... the occasional Josh Hader/Andrew Miller can throw a spanner into the usual pattern ... but really putting it into practice? Frequently enough you might actually show that it works?
   467. Walt Davis Posted: July 25, 2019 at 03:31 AM (#5864798)
Intriguing Javy stat of the day: He's now got 88 PA in the #2 spot ... and 0 walks. (Also a massively exploding K-rate with 31 in 88 PA ... and he's taken over the league lead in Ks.) That's wiped out the apparent small progress he'd made in BB rate and suggests (not so surprisingly) that it was more a matter of teams pitching around him a bit more to get to Heyward et al ... nobody's gonna pitch around him to get to Bryant and Rizzo. On the other hand, the extra Ks and Schwarber's sterling performance means he's grounded into 0 DPs in the #2 spot.

And please god don't let this be a jinx but Heyward is having his first season with more Rbat than Rfield since his rookie year.

And Robel! 12 hits, 8 for extra bases. He's unlikely to continue his 420 ISO but I'm happy to let him try.

Then there are the odd splits of David Bote

First ... he's got a 115 ISO at home and a 230 ISO on the road. Meanwhile he's walked about once per 7 PA at home but 1 per 16 PA on the road.

Second, his month-to-month variation is kinda entertaining:

April: 20% K-rate, 319 BABIP, 9 XBH in 74 PA, excellent overall
May: 30% K-rate, 378 BABIP, 6 XBH in 82 PA
June: 20% K-rate, 235 BABIP, 7 XBH in 79 PA
July: 50% K-rate, 467 BABIP ... 1 double in 40 PA

Finally, he's 4 for 5 on steals this year -- all 5 attempts came in June.
   468. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 25, 2019 at 05:29 AM (#5864799)
#427: Javy since you called him out: 8 for 23, 3 doubles, 2 HR ... so keep on him! :-)

He's streaky, so anything I can do to help him get on a hot streak. Also, I was talking #### about the weather, and it's really ####### hot here in London this week. Today is likely to break the record for hottest day ever in London, and the AC just isn't as good here as in Chicago. So that'll teach me (the weather was great Sunday at Wrigley, the offense less so).

---

Gordon Wittenmyer @GDubCub 7h
The Cubs improved to 21-13 (.618) Wednesday in games in which Addison Russell is not on the 25-man roster this year (34-34 when he is).


Ha.

Jesse Rogers @ESPNChiCubs 9h
Kris Bryant said he got his cleat caught in the turf taking indoor batting practice before the game and tweaked his knee which has been bugging him. Says he'll be in there Friday.


That's good to hear. I thought it would be his shoulder after his diving attempt in the field. Guess I shouldn't count my eggs before they hatch though.

Meanwhile, Maddon said he is "cautiously optimistic" that Ben Zobrist will return this season. Zobrist has been on the restricted list since May 7 for what was described as personal reasons; he has since gone through a divorce.

"There's nothing clear yet, but it's trending in the right direction," Maddon said of Zobrist. "... It's not going to be tomorrow or next week, but as he starts working out, moving this thing forward, a big part is going to be, 'How do you feel?'

"Go work out, let's get you in some games and tell us how you feel."

Sources told ESPN that a target date for Zobrist's return is Sept. 1, when rosters expand.


Even if he comes back, I just wouldn't expect much out of him. Maybe he can have Descalso's spot on a potential playoff roster as the top PH option, maybe he splits some time with Garcia (or Bote) at 2b. The Cubs still need to add an OF - and of course Almora gets a couple of hits including a HR after how much I've been slagging him (though he did pull a Russell on the basepaths).
   469. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 25, 2019 at 03:16 PM (#5864958)
Ian Happ is coming back to the big league roster.

Not sure who's going off the roster to make room for him.
   470. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 25, 2019 at 03:42 PM (#5864966)
Yeah, they haven't said who is the other half of that move - and they have until tomorrow night.

I think there are 3 options - 1. Almora to AAA. 2. Caratini to AAA. 3. Descalso to IL (I guess maybe Bryant too, but I believe them for once; if they said he hurt his shoulder, I'd say he's going to the IL). Sharma talked about Descalso hurting his ankle earlier this year (I was at that game) and how bad he's been since then. So I'll guess that's the move. I guess they could send a RP down (like Wick), but that just delays a move that'll happen in a week when Hamels comes back. I don't think they'll DFA Maldonado (or Descalso), and I don't think a trade is imminent. I'd probably send down Almora (but I also would have DFA'd Descalso months ago - actually I wouldn't have signed him), just so he plays every day - but I don't think they'll do that after he had a good game for like the first time in a month.

I think calling Happ up means he's going to play fairly regularly, only place for that is CF (he did play some 2b again in the minors though)...

They can't send Bote down now, as he's the backup SS.
   471. Kiko Sakata Posted: July 25, 2019 at 05:14 PM (#5865004)
I'd probably send down Almora ... just so he plays every day - but I don't think they'll do that after he had a good game for like the first time in a month.


The other thing is, the Cubs literally have no backup outfielders. When they're playing their primary lineup - Schwarber-Almora-Heyward in OF, Bryant-Baez-2B-Rizzo - regardless of who's at 2B, their bench consists of a backup catcher (now 2 backup catchers since Contreras was activated) and a bunch of guys whose primary position is second base (whichever of Garcia, Bote, Descalso, and, until recently, Russell wasn't starting).
   472. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 26, 2019 at 06:43 AM (#5865136)
The home/road stuff still really annoys/fascinates me. The Cubs are 10 under .500 on the road; if they were just .500 on the road they'd have a 5 game lead in the division instead of being tied with the Cards.

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

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

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

   473. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 26, 2019 at 09:17 AM (#5865155)
Sharma says the Cubs are going back to an 8 man pen with Happ's call up, but hasn't said who's out (has to be Collins though). I'm guessing it'll be a position player move for Hamels when he comes off the DL in the next week or so; maybe it'll be a trade that cleans up the roster.

Epstein’s baseball operations department remains focused on two clear priorities: Finding role players who can handle second base and/or center field and deepening the pool of relievers to get the ball to Craig Kimbrel for the ninth inning.


Sharma also lists a bunch of relievers the Cubs may be looking at - most are out there already: Will Smith, Tony Watson (though the Giants might not deal either now), Andrew Chafin, Craig Stammen, Jake Diekman, and Shane Greene. Then he lists this:
Just look at this list of Theo/Maddon Era relievers acquired in July/August of division races:

2015: Clayton Richard; Tommy Hunter; Trevor Cahill (minor-league signing); Fernando Rodney.

2016: Chapman; Montgomery; Joe Smith.

2017: Justin Wilson.

2018: Kintzler; Jesse Chavez; Jorge De La Rosa (free-agent signing).
   474. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 26, 2019 at 11:17 AM (#5865208)
regardless of who's at 2B, their bench consists of a backup catcher (now 2 backup catchers since Contreras was activated) and a bunch of guys whose primary position is second base
...and yet...
Epstein’s baseball operations department remains focused on two clear priorities: Finding role players who can handle second base
...<scratches head>
   475. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 26, 2019 at 11:27 AM (#5865213)
That's just is another point showing how ###### the roster is. Descalso can only play 2b, but he's useless. Bote is a backup wherever he plays. Garcia is an unknown, and may have an expiration date.

I guess it's another way of saying there probably isn't a starter at 2b that would/want to acquire that would immediately stand at top of the depth chart there.
   476. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 26, 2019 at 02:37 PM (#5865274)
The #Cubs today acquired LHP Derek Holland and a cash consideration from the Giants for a cash consideration.

To make room for Holland on the 40-man roster, LHP Tim Collins has been designated for assignment. pic.twitter.com/fhp8ZHBQjb


Oh ok. Guess that means Wick goes down for Happ.
   477. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 26, 2019 at 02:52 PM (#5865279)
The #Cubs today acquired LHP Derek Holland and a cash consideration from the Giants for a cash consideration.
Huh? Why don't they just not get a cash consideration from the Giants, and make the outgoing cash consideration less?

<Theo pauses>

"...But these go to 11."
   478. Brian C Posted: July 26, 2019 at 06:57 PM (#5865372)
I remember reading awhile back that there are somewhat technical rules governing “cash considerations” but don’t recall the details. At any rate, I assume there are actual reasons why the transaction is structured that way.
   479. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 26, 2019 at 07:03 PM (#5865376)
Maybe they’re trying to teach the Giants how to make change.
   480. Walt Davis Posted: July 26, 2019 at 10:01 PM (#5865456)
Huh? Why don't they just not get a cash consideration from the Giants, and make the outgoing cash consideration less?

#478 is probably right but I also think these sorts of deals are often open-ended gentleman's agreements based on how well Holland actually does. So the Giants have to pony up some cash (he's still owed $2-3 M for this year) to make the trade at all while the amount the Cubs send back will depend on how much he doesn't suck. So I'll guess it's either the Giants give their cash now, the Cubs give theirs later ... or, since the total amount of cash changing hands isn't known yet, it has to be "cash considerations" going both ways.

Anyway, very much a Clayton Richard move and hardly a guarantee to be better than Monty. Holland has had a pretty nice K-rate the last two years though so if the Cubs can fix his BBs and HRs, it could work.
   481. Walt Davis Posted: July 26, 2019 at 10:31 PM (#5865457)
On Russell ... lord knows I have no problem with him being sent down, not even from a strict baseball perspective. That said ...

He is to this point in his career a good-fielding SS (and therefore expected to be an excellent fielding 2B) with a career 87 OPS+. Back when I was young, we called that guy Frank White and he put up 35 WAR (not that we knew what that was), making 5 AS games (so we weren't completely clueless).

It's also true that the line between Frank White and Pokey Reese is pretty thin and Russell's potential baseball future (if ever given the chance) might look like Reese even if Russell wasn't a problem in other ways. Overall Reese was reasonably useful as a bench player with WAR>abs(WAA) -- i.e. better than a 1 WAR player on a 650 PA basis -- but there were some stinko years tossed in and a lot of that WAR is a 29-run defensive season. But for all of Russell's faults, he has been a better hitter than Reese whose career-best OPS+ is worse than Russell's average.

Anyway, it's reasonably possible Russell has reached the end of his time as a useful starter and has entered the slick-fielding back-up MI/stopgap SS part of his career already. And I'm not sure Frank White (career OBP<300) would have a place in today's game either. But I still suspect that 1/3 to half the teams in baseball would be mildly improved with him at SS. And of course it would be nice if the Cubs had a genuinely good 2B that made Russell look like an afterthought.

That's similar to the Almora problem. Unless the Pirates want to give us Marte for very little (Alzolay presumably), the best potentially available CFs (and their 2019 numbers) are:

Dyson 1.4/0.1 WAR/WAA, 81 OPS+
Margot 1.1/0.3, 90 ... probably not available given lots of control left
DeShields 0.7/-0.1 84
Pillar 0.6/-0.7 79
Engel 0.6/0.3 89
Hamilton 0.4/-0.5 47
Mallex 0.3/-0.9 79

Albert 0.2/-0.8 70

So it's all Almora types. Of those DeShields, Dyson and Engel at least do a decent job getting on base. DeShields in particular might solve our leadoff problem but with two years of control left, he'll probably cost more talent than Dyson. There is no savior out there (unless Marte is available).
   482. Walt Davis Posted: July 26, 2019 at 11:04 PM (#5865467)
"Fixing" 2B is a bit more promising:

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

Unless the Mets want to do something silly like trade us Jeff McNeil, not much to get excited about. Sogard is having a massive career year that could end any day now. Dietrich has always hit but is poor defensively but could be this year's Murphy. Rojas is basically Russell. The others are likely no better than Bote but would add to the mix, allowing more Bryant in the OF. Dietrich could also be more of an OF than 2B.

Just so happens all the good 2B and CF are on good teams this year or so young their teams are nowhere near ready to give them up.

Oh yeah, Merrifield. He didn't show up in the search because he's mostly played the OF this year but while pundits keep mentioning his name, I still don't think the Royals signed him to that extension this past offseason with the idea of trading him because this year didn't work out (surely even Moore wasn't that delusional).

Awesome play just now by Robel
   483. Walt Davis Posted: July 26, 2019 at 11:20 PM (#5865479)
We have to end this thread! Since this thread went up, the Cubs are 36-36, +21 run differential, scoring 4.7 R/G while giving up 4.4 -- in this environment that's not only mediocre, it's boring.

We have to accept responsibility for our actions. Nothing we can do to change the past but we can start putting things right. Understandably, Moses is as enthusiastic right now as the average Rangers fan on a 100-degree day but maybe we can take up a collection to purhcase him a high-caffeine beverage or some meth.
   484. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 27, 2019 at 01:16 PM (#5865524)
Ben Zobrist to come back. First the minors, then later this year back in the bigs.
   485. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 27, 2019 at 02:49 PM (#5865539)
'ere in jolly ol London it's called meths.
   486. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 28, 2019 at 08:35 AM (#5865682)
TRIVIA QUESTION:
Who was the last team the Cubs defeated in a road series?

Answer:
Washington Nationals, who they took 2 out of 3 from on May 17-19. That's 10 weeks ago.

Since then, they've played in 9 road series. They haven't lost them all - only 8. They split the two-game series at The Cell. The good news is the Cubs were swept only once in those nine series. (Though they could get swept a second time if they lose again today). Earlier this year I saw the team's road/home split and figured it would even out as the season went along - but they sure are doing an impressive job of not evening out.

They've played 27 road games since leaving Washington DC. They've gone 7-20 in those games. They've only been outscored 108-131 in that stretch, which pythags its way to an expected record of 11-16. Aye, but the Cubs are 2-9 in one-run games and 0-4 in two-run games. Meanwhile, they're 3-2 in blowouts (games decided by five or more runs).

It's actually kind of impressive how they keep losing close games on the road.

Way back in post #320, I looked over their remaining schedule and concluded the following:

Average opponent winning percentage in June/July: .480 (9 home games, 17 road games)
Average opponent winning percentage in August: .491 (14 home games, 14 road games)
Average opponent winning percetnage in Sept/Oct: .494 (13 home games, 14 road games)

So June/July looks like the real key time, indeed. They need their ability to beat bad teams to overcome their inability to win on the road.


They've not overcome their inability to win on the road.
   487. Kiko Sakata Posted: July 28, 2019 at 02:01 PM (#5865737)
They've only been outscored 108-131 in that stretch, which pythags its way to an expected record of 11-16.


Pythag is biased against home teams because home teams frequently don't have to bat in the bottom of the 9th inning against the Cubs, having already beaten them, but thereby artificially lowering their run differential a little bit. The quick-and-dirty fix is to add about 5% to the home team's runs scored before estimating a home- or road- Pythag. That said, doing this only lowers the Cubs' road Pythag by one win (i.e., they're 3 under their adjusted Pythag, not 4).
   488. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 28, 2019 at 05:41 PM (#5865778)
Pythag is biased against home teams because home teams frequently don't have to bat in the bottom of the 9th inning against the Cubs, having already beaten them, but thereby artificially lowering their run differential a little bit. The quick-and-dirty fix is to add about 5% to the home team's runs scored before estimating a home- or road- Pythag. That said, doing this only lowers the Cubs' road Pythag by one win (i.e., they're 3 under their adjusted Pythag, not 4).

If Pythag is biased against home teams, then that means it's biased in favor of road teams -- and post #486 is about how the Cubs do when they are on the road. THus if you're going to make an adjustment that accounts for this, it should lessen the Cubs' underperformance, it should increase the underperformance.
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