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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

The Third Third

Moses remarked that the Cubs under Maddon seem to be a second-half team, which is undeniable. 2015-17 they tallied 149-73, a .671 clip. The worst second-half record they posted in those three years was .662. Not happening so far this second-half—up 4-0 in the first against the Pirates as I type this, the Cubs are 6-7 so far in the second half. But this is against some tough competition: eight of those games against the Cardinals, four against the Diamondbacks, and one against the suddenly scary Pirates. So while the Cubs have been treading water after a terrific lead-in to the ASB, a game under .500 through a stretch like that is hardly a disaster.

Tonight the Cubs play their 108th game, so looking forward it’s the third third, not the second half. The Cubs schedule from here on out looks somewhat favorable. Depending on the model for strength of schedule, Fangraphs has the Cubs chances of making the playoffs at 80-94%, winning 89-93 games. That range of estimates feels about right to me. 27/56 remaining games are against NL Central opponents, and while neither the Reds nor the Pirates being patsies any more, the rest of the division is in that same boat.

Looking at what’s happened the last two weeks since the Break, here are some good, bad, and MIA highlights:

The Good:

Rizzo has returned to form (I was going to say “Rizzo’s back” but that’s a different thing), at .364/.455/.625 in the last couple of weeks. Good timing.
Baez has kept on keeping on, hitting 3 HR and knocking in 10 runs in the last 13 games.
Likewise, Zobrist has picked up his pace after a terrific first half, hitting .467.
And of course, David Bote has made the most of his 12 plate appearances since the Break, including a very memorable game-tying home run.
Jesse Chavez has been absolutely lights out.

The Bad:

Need I say it?  The starting pitching. Pretty much all of them. Even if it was almost entirely in a single game, any time you have four different position players pitching in a 13-game period (Caratini has two pitching appearances), things are not going well. I won’t belabor the particulars.

The MIA:

The Cubs’ best player is on the DL with a shoulder issue, and when he’s been in the lineup, it appears to have sapped his power. Bryant on the DL, or playing at a diminished level, is potentially a huge problem from here on out. So far, and I think this is a testament not only to the team’s depth but its character, the Cubs have managed remarkably in his absence. Let’s hope that keeps on going.
Brandon Morrow’s absence is also worrying, but Pedro Strop has done well, and the additions of Chavez and Kintzler will hopefully take some pressure off of the Des Moines shuttle crew, who too have performed admirably.

Despite the challenges, this is a pretty damn good team. They retain the highest run differential in the National League. And even when the Cubs starter coughs up some crooked numbers in the early innings, it doesn’t feel like they are out of it. If they make the post-season this year, it will be the first time a Cubs team has done that in four straight seasons, and it likely won’t require a .671 win percentage. You have to feel pretty good about this.

Andere Richtingen Posted: August 01, 2018 at 07:27 PM | 296 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 12, 2018 at 11:18 PM (#5725543)
So who would have predicted the Cubs MVPs this year as Cole Hamels and David Bote?

We all already knew about Javy, of course.
   102. Quaker Posted: August 12, 2018 at 11:22 PM (#5725546)
Great win tonight.

Probably overreacting, but I don't think Lester's going to make the playoff rotation if Darvish is healthy.

The NL really feels like a complete tossup.

   103. Walt Davis Posted: August 12, 2018 at 11:26 PM (#5725548)
I'm calling it ... Javy Javys and Bote Botes.

I will let language mavens work on the spelling of conjugations.
   104. Walt Davis Posted: August 12, 2018 at 11:27 PM (#5725549)
Probably overreacting, but I don't think Lester's going to make the playoff rotation if Darvish is healthy.

At this rate, he may not make the rotation for the BTF softball game.
   105. Brian C Posted: August 12, 2018 at 11:30 PM (#5725550)
Bote didn't just hit a homer, he f'in crushed that ball with two strikes. That was some serious Natural ####, man.

I was actually happy to see him coming up to PH. I mean, honestly, who else would you have rather seen right then? Dude's been great all around lately, and he already has one big-time clutch ninth-inning homer. I figured he gave them as much of a chance as anyone on the team in that moment.

Still, though ... insane.
   106. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 13, 2018 at 12:04 AM (#5725560)
Cross posted from chatter:

David Bote: first ultimate grand slam (walkoff Grand Slam hit when down 3 runs) to erase 3-0 deficit since Sammy Byrd of the Reds 5/23/1936 vs Pirates.

Bote's was with 2 out though. Byrd's was with none out.
#Cubs


David Bote just hit the Golden Homer: a walk-off grand slam, down three, and with his team down to his last strike.

For all the years we have pitch data, there are just two other Golden Homers: Chris Hoiles on 5/17/1996 and Alan Trammell on 6/21/1988.


I think I saw the statcast say the exit velocity was 110 and distance was 440ft.
   107. Zonk is a Doppleclapper Posted: August 13, 2018 at 10:05 AM (#5725613)
So... just trade Bryant for some pitching?

That was nuts.

Met up with a buddy for a couple of late beers - and we were going to call it a night after the top half of the 9th but decided we could go one more beer to ##### about Kintzler.
   108. Spahn Insane Posted: August 13, 2018 at 10:50 AM (#5725641)
Think I remember Phil Bradley hitting an ultimate slam against the Twins in 1985 or so. That's probably pre-pitch data.
   109. Spahn Insane Posted: August 13, 2018 at 10:54 AM (#5725648)
Indeed. No data on the count, but the Mariners did trail by 3 with 2 outs. Hit it off future Cub scrub reliever Ron Davis.
   110. Zonk is a Doppleclapper Posted: August 13, 2018 at 11:11 AM (#5725671)
Hit it off future Cub scrub reliever Ron Davis.


Future and past. Davis was originally drafted by the Cubs, back when they were stockpiling future closers in the late 70s.
   111. Spahn Insane Posted: August 13, 2018 at 11:33 AM (#5725688)
Davis was originally drafted by the Cubs, back when they were stockpiling future closers in the late 70s.

Yeah, but I'm not old enough to know that!
   112. Voodoo Posted: August 13, 2018 at 12:29 PM (#5725746)
Even though there isn't pitch-by-pitch data for game pre-1988 or whatever, it would seem very possible to find out what the count was from contemporary newspaper accounts of ultimate grand slams, since they are so exceptional, I gotta think there's evidence for all the gritty details out there for the handful of times it has occurred.
   113. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 14, 2018 at 12:04 PM (#5726410)
Rizzo
Javy SS
Zobrist 2b
Heyward STILL WHY????
TLS 3b
Schwarber
Contreras
Quintana
Happ CF

Everyone after Zobrist is struggling right now. I get they're picking their spots with Bote right now, and this isn't going to turn into a running thing with me (I don't think), but he also didn't play Sunday. Not sure why Chacin wouldn't be a guy they'd want him to face; the occasional TLS start shouldn't trump that.

---

Regardless, that's as good of a jumping off point as any...I mentioned off-hand in another thread the potential repercussions of Bote being a legit player is one of the more interesting things to watch this offseason. The obvious and easiest is him just talking TLS's spot on the roster, with him and Zobrist kind of splitting the roles TLS/Zo have this year (IOW, fewer starts for Zo than this year and a lot more for Bote than TLS gets).

The craziest thing would be if the Cubs think Bote is a legit starting caliber player. He's played mostly 2b, so one option would be moving Javy to SS and using Russell as trade bait (for pitching, though I'm guessing his value is at its lowest point). It could also make Happ or Schwarber available/redundant, though that would mean more shuffling/Bryant playing more OF (which might be a good thing, but that's a different discussion); of the 2, I think Happ has to be the guy with more trade value (versatility/more service time). Obviously there's no reason to rush it and Joe could still juggle the PT for all of these guys next year (though at some point, you might eventually run into guys getting upset not being full time players). However, if the Cubs really believed in Bote, this offseason might be the most leverage the Cubs have for moving one of the core young players.

Still a ton to play out though, and Bote wouldn't exactly be the first guy to have a hot start become his obvious peak.

---

Patrick Mooney @PJ_Mooney 7m7 minutes ago

Assuming Darvish feels good tomorrow after making it through today's simulated game at Wrigley, Theo says the next step would be a rehab start in the minors.


Caratini homered off Darvish, so that's not a good sign.
   114. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 14, 2018 at 01:42 PM (#5726528)
The craziest thing would be if the Cubs think Bote is a legit starting caliber player.

I agree that would be pretty crazy. As you outlined, looking at him as a legit replacement (or partly so) in the event of moving Happ or even Russell, sure, but I think that would happen with an assumed cost in terms of performance made up for by the player acquired in the trade (pitching, I would assume). I don't think the Cubs are too starry eyed. Remember that Happ, a much more highly regarded prospect, hit 11 HR after August 1st last year and then was basically the 25th man in the NLDS. The reason Bote is in the majors is Bryant on the DL -- his performance in the majors probably keeps him on the 25-man roster when Bryant returns, but not as a starter.
   115. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 14, 2018 at 01:51 PM (#5726542)
Bryant playing more OF
They were able to reattach his arm?
   116. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 14, 2018 at 01:53 PM (#5726545)
I don't think the Cubs are too starry eyed. Remember that Happ, a much more highly regarded prospect, hit 11 HR after August 1st last year and then was basically the 25th man in the NLDS.
Yeah, but that was Joe getting one of his irrational hangups. Not that it couldn't happen again with Bote, but I wouldn't say it necessarily reflects the organizational thinking.
   117. Zonk is a Doppleclapper Posted: August 14, 2018 at 01:58 PM (#5726554)
Still a ton to play out though, and Bote wouldn't exactly be the first guy to have a hot start become his obvious peak.


His BABIP is unsustainable - he's at something like .400 last I checked, but the ISO was a nifty .210 or so. Meanwhile, his walk rates and K rates seem to be generally on par with his minor league rates (though, IIRC - I don't think MiLB BB rates are particularly predictive?).

I don't think he's 330/420/540 hitter -- but I do think he can be a decent enough 260/340/440 guy. Was looking around for his MLEs (and no, I'm not doing the math) but came up empty.

I was trying to think of a good comp - K-mart versions of someone like Travis Shaw or Daniel Murphy came to mind... middle round college players who flew under the radar - but both had more immediate/consistent track records than Bote. Maybe someone like Brian Dozier - particularly, the age 26/27 Dozier? Dozier's ascent wasn't all that linear either.

I think he's got a future a legit big league starter if he gets a shot somewhere... yeah - I'm shooting the moon a bit with that slash guess and even applying a 'k-mart' modifier to Shaw/Murphy/Dozier.
   118. McCoy Posted: August 14, 2018 at 02:00 PM (#5726558)
He's projecting to be about a 9 WAR player over a full season so yeah, not sustainable.
   119. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 14, 2018 at 02:02 PM (#5726561)
They were able to reattach his arm?

No, but it's not his throwing arm that is hurt. Not sure how this helps, but I guess it can't hurt.

Yeah, but that was Joe getting one of his irrational hangups. Not that it couldn't happen again with Bote, but I wouldn't say it necessarily reflects the organizational thinking.

I also think the book on how to get Happ out was further developed/he was just more exploitable at the plate and he is such a tweener defensively that there's always a better fielding option than him no matter where you put him. I reckon on a fully healthy team this October Bote isn't starting either, but he'll probably be ahead of Happ on the PH depth chart. Bote will likely always have more defensive value than Happ.
   120. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 14, 2018 at 02:02 PM (#5726565)
I was trying to think of a good comp - K-mart versions of someone like Travis Shaw or Daniel Murphy came to mind... middle round college players who flew under the radar - but both had more immediate/consistent track records than Bote. Maybe someone like Brian Dozier - particularly, the age 26/27 Dozier? Dozier's ascent wasn't all that linear either.

I think he's got a future a legit big league starter if he gets a shot somewhere... yeah - I'm shooting the moon a bit with that slash guess and even applying a 'k-mart' modifier to Shaw/Murphy/Dozier.


Ginger Yeti.
   121. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 14, 2018 at 02:07 PM (#5726569)
No, but it's not his throwing arm that is hurt.
Yeah, in that case I guess you're right that his future is in the OF rather than at 3B. Worked for Pete Gray, I guess. Do we know how much of a glove-tucking stump he has left?
   122. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 14, 2018 at 02:19 PM (#5726580)
Yeah, but that was Joe getting one of his irrational hangups. Not that it couldn't happen again with Bote, but I wouldn't say it necessarily reflects the organizational thinking.

They were pretty darn reluctant to get Caratini opportunities last season - even when Montero forced the organization's hand. I think the Cubs can be a little skittish with rookies that way (not that there is ANY cause for complaint on how they bring their young position players along).
   123. Zonk is a Doppleclapper Posted: August 14, 2018 at 02:26 PM (#5726590)
I think the Cubs are skittish about rookies they don't see significant/regular playing time for - service time games aside - they didn't really have much trouble or pause to give Bryant, Russell, Schwarbs jobs.... They were a bit slower with Contreras until jettisoning Montero - then he played regularly.

Baez, Almora, and Happ are kind of tweeners.

I don't think they're particularly against giving young players a shot - I just think Joe/Thed generally don't like to have a rookie/young guy be the last guy on the bench or backup C who likely isn't going to get much of an opportunity.
   124. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 14, 2018 at 02:28 PM (#5726592)
I think it depends on the player. There's examples of them just letting guys play, and other guys being brought along more slowly. The guys they've been slower with tend to be the guys with more defensive questions (Caratini, Happ, even Contreras at first) with Almora the obvious exception. In a way, they've been more patient with young players' struggles offensively than defensively.

---

As I'm typing this, Quintana is giving up bombs. Goddammit.
   125. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 14, 2018 at 02:52 PM (#5726625)
Yeah, I was referring specifically to Joe refusing to acknowledge that Happ was on the roster in the playoffs.
   126. Zonk is a Doppleclapper Posted: August 14, 2018 at 03:16 PM (#5726658)
The guys they've been slower with tend to be the guys with more defensive questions (Caratini, Happ, even Contreras at first) with Almora the obvious exception. In a way, they've been more patient with young players' struggles offensively than defensively.


That's a fair point - though, Schwarber also fits in the (originally! We all know that he's a LF Willie Mays now :-)) defensively challenged mix.

It's interesting - I remember Cub discussions in the REALLY old (as in, pre-reg) days - and in particular, the fairly mammoth discussions about not giving the kids their shot in the early aughts and then Dusty's alleged vet fixation.

I suppose it goes to show how spoiled we are by this regime -

Russell is still just 24 - but he's already got 1900 MLB PAs.

Baez is 25 - he's got 1600 MLB PAs.

Schwarber is 25 - 1000 PAs

Almora is 24 - 750 PAs

Happ just turned 24 a couple days ago - 760 PAs.

Even Caratini - who will turn 25 in a week - 200 PAs (and obviously blocked by Contreras/Bryant/Rizzo).

Position player wise - it's really arguing around the margins.

I do think there's a bit better case to be made on the pitching side - but there, we've just got less to work with (basically, we're talking Hendricks and Edwards)... maybe you can really stretch definitions and add Rosario, Maples, and other chaff - but they're basically chaff.
   127. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 14, 2018 at 03:23 PM (#5726668)
So who has access to this story and can give a brief recap?
   128. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 15, 2018 at 10:48 AM (#5727106)
Javy
Heyward
Bote
Rizzo
Almora
Schwarber
Contreras
Hendricks
Russell

So, this is in response to Javy's mini-slump? Still not acknowledging Heyward is back to crap? I need to learn to not care so much.
   129. Zonk is a Doppleclapper Posted: August 15, 2018 at 11:15 AM (#5727126)
So who has access to this story and can give a brief recap?


Here's a freespace primer on it -

In effect, MLB is cracking down on what is - in effect - a fairly corrupt situation... It's all fairly murky - but in effect, you get a prorated discount for signings from the league... and the Cubs have... let's say, taken advantage of having a somewhat special relationship with a couple clubs in this league.

It's a bit worse in the case of Serrano - he was actually born in the US (his parents are both Mexican citizens), but they moved back to Mexico for him to finish HS. In effect, sorta circumventing the amateur draft... You'll see his signing bonus reported $300K - but that's because of the 'discount' against the signing cap costs. His bonus was actually $1.2 million - but only 25% of it counts against the INTL cap. Liga Mexicana de Beisbol is technically 'affiliated' with US minor league baseball, hence the sort of loophole.

Anyway, MLB has now effectively banned team from doing business with teams in the league - and the Cubs were forced to release Serrano.

Sucks from the Cub perspective -- they were certainly milking this rather corrupt arrangement for all it was worth - but well, yeah... I suppose it is (or was) a rather corrupt arrangement.
   130. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 15, 2018 at 11:51 AM (#5727166)
Patrick Mooney @PJ_Mooney 10m10 minutes ago

#Cubs acquire Terrance Gore from #Royals in a minor-league deal for cash. Gore is expected to report to Triple-A Iowa and be a September call-up/designated pinch-runner.


   131. Spahn Insane Posted: August 15, 2018 at 12:23 PM (#5727187)
Let's hope Gore proves worthy of Quintin Berry's proud legacy.

EDIT: Looked up his page...heh. I knew Gore was pretty much a poor man's Herb Washington, but I didn't realize he has a grand total of zero major league hits (and only 14 PAs spread over 4 seasons).
   132. Zonk is a Doppleclapper Posted: August 15, 2018 at 12:36 PM (#5727191)
Or - do the 14 PAs make Gore a rich man's Herb Washington since poor Herb never got a PA?
   133. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 15, 2018 at 12:36 PM (#5727192)
Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 5m5 minutes ago

Morrow hopes to throw off a mound Saturday


Haven't seen anything yet today on how Darvish is doing/if there's a rehab start planned.
   134. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 15, 2018 at 12:39 PM (#5727193)
I think Gore is yet another argument against September roster expansion.
   135. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 15, 2018 at 12:57 PM (#5727204)
Since the All-Star break, the Cubs have scored 100 runs in 25 games, an average of a mere four runs per game. During that span, they’ve been outscored by 28 runs, a stretch that’s pushed them to third in the National League in run differential (+86). Somehow, the Cubs have actually managed to pull off a 13-12 record during that span, allowing them to stay atop their division and the NL. But it seems as though when the Cubs have lost lately, it hasn’t been competitive. Their past six wins have come by a combined 11 runs while their past five losses have been by a combined 30.

---

Since the All-Star break, the Cubs are 25th in baseball with a .135 ISO. Contreras has a .160 ISO, below the likes of Denard Span and Jackie Bradley, Jr. Ian Happ has one home run since the All-Star break and an .082 ISO in that span. Addison Russell hit 21 homers two years ago and has now transformed into a singles hitter with a .101 ISO who thrives on finding holes with softly hit grounders. Kyle Schwarber’s OPS has dropped more than 50 points since the break and Jason Heyward’s by nearly 40.
   136. Spahn Insane Posted: August 15, 2018 at 02:12 PM (#5727274)
Or - do the 14 PAs make Gore a rich man's Herb Washington since poor Herb never got a PA?

Poor man's. Herb's greater purity as a major league non-baseball player gives him the advantage.
   137. Spahn Insane Posted: August 15, 2018 at 02:14 PM (#5727275)
Haven't seen anything yet today on how Darvish is doing/if there's a rehab start planned.

Thought I read he threw a simulated game yesterday, they were gonna wait to see how he felt today, then potentially a rehab start (sans timetable) if he's feeling all right. Haven't heard anything else.
   138. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 15, 2018 at 02:41 PM (#5727307)
Right, you might have read it in post 113 above. I'm surprised there hasn't been a follow up yet today is what I'm saying.
   139. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 15, 2018 at 06:09 PM (#5727477)
Always like when I ##### about Heyward and he has a good game. The new lineup worked today. Bote Boteed on defense and Javyed on the bases. A bit like Javy, he appears to do just about everything well, so he is valuable even when the bat comes back to earth.

---

FG on Hamels. Kinda feel bad for Hendricks today, that bad CJ allowed a couple more of his runs to score. Kyle looked really, really good early on.
   140. Walt Davis Posted: August 15, 2018 at 08:19 PM (#5727526)
Do we know how much of a glove-tucking stump he has left?

Amputation at the shoulder I'm afraid. I foresee tossing the ball in the air and shaking the glove off. Or he can man up like a cricketer and catch it barehanded.

On Bote ... was it here or elsewhere but I've said before that I'd be plenty comfy with a good-fielding Wilmer Flores, especially one with a better walk rate. That doesn't seem far-fetched at this point. If the breakout/power boost is for real, Mark DeRosa may not be a bad comp either. Very little playing time through his 20s with a 120 ISO and 78 OPS+, from 30-34 he had a 170 ISO and 106 OPS+. He had just 11 starts at SS in those years but did add OF which Bote hasn't yet. And sure Dozier's a nice upside but probably too good for an expectation. From 27-30, it's been a 120 OPS+ with a 222 ISO

Pre-season ZiPS projected him to 235/300/367. ZiPS hasn't really changed its mind -- 245/314/386, 88 wRC+ RoS -- but Steamer is buying some of the jump -- 257/320/422, 98 wRC+. With solid to good defense, I'd be pretty happy with that Steamer projection for the next few years.
   141. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 16, 2018 at 03:05 PM (#5728133)
Javy
Heyward
Bote
Rizzo
Happ LF
Almora
Contreras
Lester
Russell

Depending on how you feel about Happ/Schwarber in LF, this might be the best defensive lineup the Cubs can run out there. They should probably play Happ in the LF seats though for Lester.

---

Jon​ Lester​ has a solid​ 3.89​ ERA. But​ he’s​ also​ at​ or​ near career-worst levels in​​ WHIP, FIP, strikeout rate, walk rate, HR/FB rate, swinging-strike rate, ground-ball rate, hard- and soft-contact rate and well, you get the picture. In his last eight starts, he’s posted an ERA above eight, and above 10 in his last five.

Outside of his ERA, the numbers Lester posted in his first 16 starts signaled a looming regression. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any positive takeaways.


Remember when he was like 2nd in the NL in ERA? And a deserving All Star?

If we break Lester’s season into two parts, we can see a bit of a change in his pitch usage. In his first 16 starts, the lefty posted a 2.18 ERA and gave up six or more hits in an outing just five times. In his last eight starts he’s delivered an 8.01 ERA and given up six or more hits seven times. The big difference between those two stretches? In those first 16 starts, Lester used his changeup 11.2 percent of the time. In his last eight, that usage has dropped to 6.2 percent.
   142. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 16, 2018 at 03:06 PM (#5728134)
Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 4m4 minutes ago

Morrow playing catch on flat ground under the watch of the medical staff.


Still nothing on Darvish since his simulated game.
   143. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 16, 2018 at 03:17 PM (#5728144)
Amputation at the shoulder I'm afraid. I foresee tossing the ball in the air and shaking the glove off. Or he can man up like a cricketer and catch it barehanded.
Sounds like he's gonna need a few more weeks in Iowa to work on his defense.

Still nothing on Darvish since his simulated game.
He died. Bizarre groundskeeping accident.
   144. Zonk is a Doppleclapper Posted: August 16, 2018 at 03:30 PM (#5728158)
Depending on how you feel about Happ/Schwarber in LF, this might be the best defensive lineup the Cubs can run out there. They should probably play Happ in the LF seats though for Lester.


I honestly feel Schwarber is a better defender.
   145. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 16, 2018 at 03:31 PM (#5728160)
Still nothing on Darvish since his simulated game.


According to Mark Gonzalez, Jim Hickey suggested three rehab starts - Aug 19 (this Sunday), 24, and 29 - on the Score. It's like third-hand, so take it for what it's worth.
   146. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 16, 2018 at 03:40 PM (#5728169)
Yeah, seems like most reporters have been assuming he'd pitch in South Bend Sunday, and everyone talked about the simulated game Tuesday (Theo said it was the best spin he'd had all year; I think it might be time to cut Theo off from spin info).
   147. Zonk is a Doppleclapper Posted: August 16, 2018 at 03:45 PM (#5728178)
Theo said it was the best spin he'd had all year


Maybe he wasn't talking about Darvish's pitching?
   148. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 16, 2018 at 03:47 PM (#5728181)
everyone talked about the simulated game Tuesday (Theo said it was the best spin he'd had all year; I think it might be time to cut Theo off from spin info).


I saw the headline

Theo Epstein on Yu Darvish's progress after simulated game: 'Maybe the best spin of the year'


and was genuinely unsure whether it was in reference to Theo describing the spin that Darvish was putting on the ball or if it was an editorial comment about Theo's comments after the simulated game. And I kind of suspect the answer is "both".
   149. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 16, 2018 at 05:01 PM (#5728265)
Cubs bWAR leaderboard

1. Javy 4.7
2. Contreras 3.1
3. Zobrist 2.8
4. Russell 2.5
5. Almora 2.0
6. Heyward 1.9
7. Cishek 1.8
8. Bryant 1.5
9. Schwarber 1.4
10. Morrow 1.4
11. Bote 1.4
12. Rizzo 1.3

I can't imagine what preseason me would think of that listing in that order.
   150. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 16, 2018 at 05:47 PM (#5728293)
Some stuff on Hendricks. First from an ESPN Insider piece:

There are 99 pitchers this year who have thrown at least 100 innings. When Hendricks has thrown a pitch in the strike zone, batters have swung just 55 percent of the time. That's the lowest rate in the pool. Think about it: What could happen when you throw a would-be strike? If the batter swings, he could get out, sure, or he could miss, but he also could do some damage. If the batter doesn't swing, it's basically a free strike.

Hendricks has been earning those free strikes because his command is so good, and because he's so talented at mixing up his timing. Over Hendricks' career, this is one skill that hasn't lapsed.


I wonder if that's something that could be exploited in the playoff though.

From here:

Over his last eight starts, Hendricks has had a game score over 50 seven times, including his last five straight. But more importantly, he’s been on an absolute strikeout bender (with almost no walks):

7/09: 8Ks, 1BB
7/14: 3Ks, 0BB
7/19: 4Ks, 1BB
7/24: 8Ks, 2BB
7/29: 8Ks, 0BB
8/04: 7Ks, 0BB
8/10: 5Ks, 0BB
8/15: 8Ks, 2BB

That’s 51 strikeouts and six walks in 47.2 innings pitched. With just under 200 batters faced, we’re talking about a 25.6% strikeout rate and 3.0% walk rate. Had Hendricks kept this over the entire season, his strikeout rate would rank among the top 18 and his walk rate would be the best in baseball. Put another way, that 8.5 K/BB ratio would be the best in all of MLB.

---

Over the past eight games (thanks to all those strikeouts and impressive command), Hendricks’ 2.74 FIP far outpaces his 3.78 ERA. And for a little context on that, a 2.74 FIP would rank seventh best in MLB this season, one spot behind Max Scherzer, the NL Cy Young front runner.


For this conclusion:

So what am I saying? I’m saying I think Kyle Hendricks has been EXTREMELY good lately and the results just haven’t followed yet.* I’m saying I feel about 20x better about the way the rest of his season will play out than I did when I started this post. And I’m saying that if he can keep up this K/BB pace, Hendricks won’t just be as good as he ever was, he might be the best version of himself yet.
   151. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 16, 2018 at 05:49 PM (#5728295)
Patrick Mooney @PJ_Mooney 4m4 minutes ago

Yu Darvish is scheduled for a minor-league rehab start on Sunday.


Here we go. Good.
   152. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 16, 2018 at 08:11 PM (#5728425)
Kris Bryant has been hitting off a tee/in the cage and tracking pitches off the machine/while pitchers are throwing bullpens. Next step would be facing live pitching on the field: “There’s plenty of time for myself to get ready for hopefully a long playoff run.”
   153. Walt Davis Posted: August 16, 2018 at 11:23 PM (#5728623)
Lester used his changeup 11.2 percent of the time. In his last eight, that usage has dropped to 6.2 percent.

"Big" change but this is 5 pitches in a game. Obviously 4-5 rockets can easily add 2-3 runs but the issue there is still more all the rockets being hit off the other pitches.

It also might just be the result of falling behind in the count more. I have no idea if he used the changeup mostly ahead in the count but that's how pitchers normally use it ... and if you keep falling behind 2-0 then you'd be throwing fewer changeups. (No idea if he's been falling behind more than before, I just assume so.)
   154. Walt Davis Posted: August 17, 2018 at 12:23 AM (#5728643)
8. Bryant 1.5
11. Bote 1.4


Bryant is hearing footsteps! From MVP to Jason Heyward's platoon partner in less than two seasons! :-)

The Cubs are in an interesting, enviable spot. There's no need to rush Bryant's recovery but will they wait the two weeks until rosters expand or will they demote Bote/TLS for a week? I shudder to think how crowded the bullpen is going to be in Sept -- and the number of mid-inning changes Joe will make while still somehow creating at least one game where a pitcher will be in the OF or something.

The Hendricks bit is interesting. 50 hits and 6 BB with only 4 HR in 48 innings would usually result in something better. That's a big change from 16 HR in 97 innings prior to this run. He was being kept afloat in the first half by a 269 BABIP; he's getting hurt lately be a 346 BABIP. So I guess the question is how much of the recent performance is excellent pitching with bad luck ... or is it good luck in that some of the rockets that left the yard in the first half have been screaming liners and banging off the wall in the 2nd half. Still my unofficial impression is that he (and Quintana) have had the same issue throughout the year -- solid-good outings marred by a bad inning. Early it was the first for Hendricks and the 5th/6th for Q, now it seems more randomly distributed.

Just quickly ... Kyle shut out the DBacks through 4 then gave up 3 in the 5th ... but he had stranded 5 runners to that point so a bit of good luck ... and bad "luck" as he was one out away from getting out of the 5th with just one run. Something similar against the Padres a couple of weeks later, especially hurt by a 2-out 2-run HR. I suppose that's just bad cluster luck.
   155. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 17, 2018 at 09:27 AM (#5728709)
So, those who saw Lester pitch last night: give me some ray of hope that he can have more 8 K, 0 BB, 0 R starts.
   156. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 17, 2018 at 04:29 PM (#5728931)
I sure hope so. He looked really good, maybe the best he has all season. I don't think he overly benefited from a big zone or needed his defense to bail him out. Just hit his spots and kept guys guessing all night.

....

#Cubs place Mike Montgomery on the 10-day DL with left shoulder inflammation and call up Randy Rosario from Triple-A Iowa. Tyler Chatwood will start Saturday vs. #Pirates.
   157. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 17, 2018 at 04:50 PM (#5728937)
Tyler Chatwood will start Saturday vs. #Pirates.
Yay.
   158. Walt Davis Posted: August 18, 2018 at 12:58 AM (#5729144)
Yay.

I'm more concerned that Jorge de la Rosa and Jesse Chavez were pitching high leverage innings.

First time the Cubs have won consecutive 1-0 games since 1914!
   159. Meatwad Posted: August 18, 2018 at 01:13 AM (#5729148)
I suspect Hamels is really liking pitching in front of that defense.
   160. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 18, 2018 at 10:09 AM (#5729188)
Cole Hamels in 4 starts with #Cubs:
0.72 ERA, 25.0 IP, 16 Hits, 6 Walks, 23 K, 0 HR, 0.880 WHIP

First pitcher with 5+ IP and 1 or fewer runs allowed in first 4 starts with Cubs since Rich Harden in 2008


Nice...wait, damnit.

Last night was more early season lucky Lesteresque than the Nats start. Of the 7 double okays though, only maybe one was a really hard hit/dangerous hit. Tons of weak contact so it's still a great get for Hamels. He has a 59% ground ball rate so far here, so he's on the right team for that. If darvishs start in South bend goes good tomorrow...
   161. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 18, 2018 at 10:12 AM (#5729189)
First time the Cubs have won consecutive 1-0 games since 1914!


So it's a pretty good bet it's the first time ever that they won consecutive 1-0 games on 2 solo HR.
   162. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 18, 2018 at 10:13 AM (#5729191)
I'm more concerned that Jorge de la Rosa and Jesse Chavez were pitching high leverage innings.

Strop and Edwards were down, but Joe still was a little too matchupy. Not sure why cishek had such a short leash, and JD pointed out at the time he's been better than Chavez against lefties this year so not sure the exact thought process.

The next 11 games are another chance to pad the in column before a tougher September. Can't complain about season high 4.5 game lead and 21 above that much even if it feels like it should be more.
   163. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 18, 2018 at 10:14 AM (#5729192)
So it's a pretty good bet it's the first time ever that they won consecutive 1-0 games on 2 solo HR.

Correct.

The @Cubs are the fourth team in MLB history to have back-to-back games where they won 1-0 on a solo homer. The others: the Tigers in 1960, the Angels in 1964 and the Giants earlier this season. #EverybodyIn
   164. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: August 18, 2018 at 10:15 AM (#5729193)
Correct. Only 4th time it's ever happened in mlb,


Does that include games 3 and 4 of the 1966 WS?

edit: Apparently not. So, the 5th time at least.
   165. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 18, 2018 at 10:16 AM (#5729194)
.@EliasSports says: The #Cubs tied a modern record tonight by turning SEVEN double plays in a 9-inning game.

That had only happened twice before:

8/14/1942 -- Yankees (vs. A's)
5/4/1969 -- Astros (vs. Giants)

@Cubs
   166. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 18, 2018 at 02:45 PM (#5729283)
Joe still was a little too matchupy.
I was watching the game while I was playing my gig at the bar last night, and I almost yelled out "Managering!" over the mic in mid-song.

So how great is that Hamels trade looking?
   167. McCoy Posted: August 18, 2018 at 03:46 PM (#5729338)
We'll let you know come playoffs
   168. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 18, 2018 at 04:47 PM (#5729369)
Morrow described his injury as a “bone bruise,” and “stress reaction.” Nevertheless, he threw 25 pitches off a mound. Said he hadn’t lost strength despite minor discomfort. Probably 2-3 more bullpens before minor league assignment

Update from Brandon Morrow (right biceps inflammation) after today's bullpen session at PNC Park: "Stuff's sticking around that I think I'm just going to have to learn to live with the rest of the year. So if it holds up and stays the same, it should be good."
   169. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 18, 2018 at 04:48 PM (#5729370)
Nah, it's already a great trade. It can be a ####### A one if he's a playoff difference maker. He's already done more than what you could have hoped for. Remember the bar was replacing chatwood.
   170. Walt Davis Posted: August 18, 2018 at 06:47 PM (#5729421)
By the way, I completely made up that claim in #158, mischievously hoping to inspire somebody to find the right answer. But the solo HR combo factoid is way better anyway. Still I assume the Cubs have had consecutive 1-0 wins sometime between 1914 and 2018. But I don't even know if they had any in 1914.
   171. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 18, 2018 at 10:00 PM (#5729521)
#Cubs with consecutive 1-0 wins for 9th time in franchise history.

- First time since April 17-18, 1973 (at Mets)
- First time EVER with consecutive 1-0 wins with Solo HR (Happ, Schwarber)
   172. Walt Davis Posted: August 20, 2018 at 01:21 AM (#5730045)
So I'm guessing 4 straight games with 1 run each, all on solo HRs is ... not very common.

I can't decide if it's a shame those nice pitching performances were wasted or I should be happy we split the series despite ultra-anemic offense. Even with the 7-0 shellacking by Milw, they've given up just 19 runs in the last 7 games.

What was I like last year at this time? Cubs finished last year 22 games over 500 ... they'd made it to 21 over before these last two and are still on pace for 93-94 wins.

Looking 1st "half", 2nd "half" on offense, if you pro-rated 2nd half PAs to match 1st half (which has no point, it just simplifies stuff) -- we'd be down 53 BB and, oddly, 49 doubles in the 2nd half. Everything except Ks is a little worse but it's mainly those two categories. A "walk slump" could be over-aggression; not sure what explains a doubles slump (or 1st half breakout if that's what it was).
   173. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 20, 2018 at 10:17 AM (#5730104)
I wonder what the Cubs will do if Darvish's MRI doesn't show anything obvious.

They have moved on from calling it a triceps issue to an elbow problem, while seeming to agree that it's been the same problem all along.

Sutcliffe also claimed in his weird rant that Darvish never showed any command in spring training either. So I think it's likely he's been dealing with the issue for a very long time - maybe even back to his collapse at the end of the 2017 season. Ironically (or not) his velocity has had a slight upward tick in the past two seasons. That may be a sign that he's trying to throw harder because something else isn't working?

If the offseason of rest didn't cure his issues last year, it worries me that another offseason (even if a longer one) won't cure his issues for 2019 either.

Sutcliffe's comments also suggested that Darvish did not communicate well with the front office and (if you project Sutcliffe's personal feelings onto the organization) the relationship may have already soured.
   174. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 20, 2018 at 10:55 AM (#5730126)
But no, it's totally collusion that teams don't want to give out long, lucrative contracts to pitchers anymore.
   175. Voodoo Posted: August 20, 2018 at 04:10 PM (#5730359)
Yu's arm fell off and his career is over.
   176. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 20, 2018 at 06:41 PM (#5730431)
If anything, this team doesn’t hit enough home runs. Their 128 on the season is tied for 21st in baseball with three other teams. Since the All-Star break their offense has absolutely cratered — they’re 25th with 28 home runs and unsurprisingly, their 3.73 runs per game ranks 25th in baseball as well. Their walk rate has dropped to a so-so 8.7 percent since then and their batting average is down to .251 during that time, 18th in baseball.

So they’re not hitting as much and they’re walking less, but again, it comes down to a jarring lack of power. Their .136 ISO is 27th in that span, with only the Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins and San Francisco Giants behind them — two rebuilding teams and one that’s been lacking power for years now. This is a Cubs offense that’s built on power. But right now, almost no one is living up to their capabilities.


Schwarber has a 77 wRC+ since the break and Willson Contreras is at 78. Schwarber actually has the fourth-highest hard-hit rate in the second half for the Cubs (38.7 percent), behind Bote, Zobrist and Rizzo, and only Ian Happ and, shockingly, Tommy La Stella, have higher line-drive rates. If anyone is on the verge of turning a corner, it’s likely Schwarber.

But Contreras’ lack of power is almost as confusing as the team’s widespread issues. He has an .098 ISO since the break and just two extra-base hits in August, both coming on Aug. 1. He’s second on the team in soft-contact rate since the break behind Heyward, and his strikeout rate is 28 percent (compared to 20.8 percent in the first half). His at-bats seem to be getting progressively worse and he’s making mistakes on the bases as well.

Add in low wRC+’s since the break from Happ (68), Albert Almora Jr. (49) and Victor Caratini (19), plus the fact that four players have hit well (five if you count La Stella and his 40 plate appearances) in the second half, and two of them (Zobrist and Bote) have been part-time players. And then Báez goes into a slump with no one else stepping up, and you get a performance like we saw this past weekend.

When the Cubs have gotten runners on base in the second half, they’ve been inept, posting a 62 wRC+ and a hard-hit rate of 25.6 percent with runners in scoring position (both the worst in baseball) and a groundball rate of 53.7 percent (the highest in baseball). This is no longer a situation where the Cubs just get so many men on base and in scoring position that their numbers are artificially low because they just have so many opportunities. Since the break, they have 266 plate appearances with runners in scoring position, 14th in baseball. They’ve been striking out a bit more with runners in scoring position (22.2 percent) than in all situations (21 percent) since the break, but they’re also walking a lot more (15 percent compared to 8.6 percent). Again, the problem points to a lack of power.

And as much as Maddon wants them to use the whole field, especially in those moments, they’re actually not pulling the ball much in those situations. Their pull rate of 38.4 percent with runners in scoring position in the second half ranks just 24th in baseball. And of course, when they get runners in scoring position, their lack of power is all the more glaring — a .084 ISO, worst in baseball.


Russell is at 37.

Generously copied and pasted from here.




more on scwarber here, and considering his lack of production with runners on base it might be time to try him at leadoff again.
   177. Walt Davis Posted: August 20, 2018 at 10:14 PM (#5730510)
In "response" to #176 and expanding on #172 ... Cubs 1st "half" results and 2nd "half" results extrapolated to the same number of PAs ...

H 869 837
D 182 138
HR 100 94
BB 365 322
SO 796 787
GD 53 87 (I had missed this earlier)

So HRs don't seem to be the main problem, it's the doubles and BBs that are down and the GDPs that are way up. I suppose both a lack of doubles and a jump in GDPs relate to not hitting the ball hard (when putting it in play), also possibly reflected in the sizable but not starting BABIP drop from 319 to 300.

I don't put a lot of stock in ranked numbers. In the first half, the Cubs were first in BABIP; in the second they have been 9th (Arizona 332!). But that drop of 19 points is a difference of just 14 in-play hits, worth about 11-12 runs. They are about 30 runs behind their first half pace so it's not just the BABIP.

I don't know what's typical and there's no attempt to adjust for park effects or anything but, for the NL as a whole this year, the ratio of doubles to HRs is almost exactly 1.5 (3 to 2) ... in the second half, the Cubs are at 1.47 ... so it seems more likely the first half doubles rate of 1.8 was the fluke-y bit. It's of course possible that the first half was "bad luck" in that the Cubs got more doubles and fewer HRs than expected given their hard-hit balls ... and now in the 2nd half, they're getting about the right split but for many fewer hard-hit balls.

And of course it could just be random player variation. All season Russell has kinda alternated between seeming to know what he's doing and not making hard contact. Contreras got off to a good start (870 OPS through May 18), slumped (766 on June 21), got hot again (830 on Aug 1), slumped again (now 782). So that's 870, 603, 978, 419 in roughly 1.5, 1, 1, and .5 month chunks. Clearly 419 is doubly atrocious but it's also not likely the consequence of, say, a change in Chili Davis's coaching. Heyward's slump (i.e. return to 2016-17 form) surprised nobody, Almora's aggressiveness might finally be working against him, Javy has always been highly variable, etc.

But yeah, I'm concerned about the overall drop in power in 2018 for this set of hitters.
   178. Walt Davis Posted: August 20, 2018 at 10:18 PM (#5730514)
More cherry-picking on Willson ... first 13 starts (14 g) after the break ... 292/382/458 with 13 K in 55 PA ... last 10 starts ... 147/237/147 with 13 K in 38 PA. It's an horrific two-week slump, let's not panic, let's maybe give him an extra day off or let him run around the OF for a game or bat him leadoff.
   179. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 21, 2018 at 10:59 AM (#5730646)
a change in Chili Davis's coaching

The HRs definitely feel like a byproduct of the coaching/approach; maybe it's just noise or luck, but at the same time we can also look at the Red Sox offense change from last year - that's not all JD Martinez.

Regardless, at least the pitching has been better, right?

===

Today starts a stretch of 23 games in 23 days; the Cubs only have 2 more scheduled off days this season. The roster expansion will probably help this group more than it usually would.
   180. Zonk is a Doppleclapper Posted: August 21, 2018 at 11:39 AM (#5730686)
Smyly update...

LSS - he feels fine, but the velocity hasn't come back yet in sim games so he still hasn't started a rehab assignment. The minor league season is rapidly running out, so it's rapidly approaching "now or wait till spring" time.

Hamels pulling a Verlander makes it matter a lot less, of course...

Maybe Smyly just wants to keep his WAR lead over the other SPs Thed threw gobs of dollars at.

At the moment, the leaderboard is:

Smyly: 0.0 WAR
Darvish: -0.1 WAR
Chatwood: -0.1 WAR
   181. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 21, 2018 at 11:54 AM (#5730699)
At the moment, the leaderboard is:

Smyly: 0.0 WAR
Darvish: -0.1 WAR
Chatwood: -0.1 WAR


OK, that's funny.

This season has hurt my brain.

The rotation has disintegrated, Bryant and Rizzo have had terrible years (for them), Schwarber's not hitting that well, Contreras is having his worst year as a hitter, Russell is having a disasterous season at the plate, our pets' heads are falling off, and the Cubs are on pace to win 94 games.

   182. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 21, 2018 at 02:26 PM (#5730833)
The Cubs have definitely felt like they've had one of those "less than the sum of their parts" sort of seasons. Based on the talent on hand, they've underachieved; based on the years so many of the guys are having, they've overachieved. The individual parts have all had good stretches - even the rotation now is pulling their weight. Enough so, that as a fan, I keep waiting for the mythical "put it all together" stretch. But it's getting late, and there's been enough injuries that it's very unlikely the Cubs ever have the best possible version of their team for any length of time this year.

Javy, maybe Cishek, and now Hamels, are the only guys you can point to and definitely say they've playing over their heads (Bote too, but that's such a small sample that it's really just a hot week or two mixed in); in both Javy's and Hamels's case they both have/had the talent, so it's not so out of the blue that it's unbelievable that they're playing this well.

After the season, I'm sure the FO will have a very tough job figuring how much the coaching changes impacted the performance this year, and what to do about it. Based on the talent and contracts on hand, there's no obvious move/need to make so they need to be right whether they decide to run it back again or try a roster changing sort of deal.

Having said all that, the Cubs still have the best record in the NL and you can make an argument that they will go deep in the playoffs again/could win it all; you can make just as convincing of an argument it'll be a quick and uneventful playoff appearance - you can also say the unsayable and say you can see how they'd completely collapse out of the playoffs.

It's fascinating/frustrating/enjoyable/terrible all at the same time.
   183. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 21, 2018 at 02:32 PM (#5730839)
Robert Murray @ByRobertMurray 14m14 minutes ago

#Cubs acquiring Daniel Murphy from the #Nationals, sources tell The Athletic.


What?!?!?

Jon Heyman @JonHeyman 3m3 minutes ago

sources: nats get infielder Andruw Monasterio and cash or ptbnl for Murphy
   184. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 21, 2018 at 02:36 PM (#5730849)
Bote to AAA, Javy to 3b until Bryant comes back?

Or...Javy to SS full time? Russell back to AAA until rosters expand? Happ to AAA?

Does this mean Bryant is hurt worse than they've been saying?

What does this mean for TLS and the playoff roster????

EDIT: If KB does come back, and it's really just an injury bugging Russell, that's a helluva bench for the stretch/playoffs.
   185. Zonk is a Doppleclapper Posted: August 21, 2018 at 02:42 PM (#5730856)
Well, that's obviously a really, really nice get.... but I'm not sure I'm yet ready to forgive him for 2015 yet.
   186. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 21, 2018 at 02:48 PM (#5730862)
I'll be honest - I never grew to hate him that much for 2015. That year was so perfect - besides that - and then 2016 happened. So, I'm cool with him; he really likes hitting at Wrigley though.
   187. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 21, 2018 at 02:51 PM (#5730866)
Lefty bat and IF depth while Bryant hangs it up for the season?

   188. Charles S., looking 4 band-aids instead of dreams Posted: August 21, 2018 at 03:02 PM (#5730875)
Does this mean Bryant is hurt worse than they've been saying?

I was thinking either that or the hand/wrist/whatever thing that's causing Russell's crappy season is getting worse. Either way, this looks like a strong post-season roster move.
   189. Meatwad Posted: August 21, 2018 at 03:11 PM (#5730883)
Lets just hope his hitting at wrigley is based on the statidum and not the pitchers faced.
   190. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 21, 2018 at 03:31 PM (#5730907)
I was thinking either that or the hand/wrist/whatever thing that's causing Russell's crappy season is getting worse. Either way, this looks like a strong post-season roster move.

I guess the beauty of this is that it doesn't have to be because of those injuries, but it works either way.

....

Almora (against a rhp, this is really gonna test that leadoff hitter magic fixing power)
Heyward
Baez
Rizzo
Zobrist LF
Schwarber dh
Bote
Contreras
Russell

Murphy wasn't going to be there today either way but there's no hints based on today's lineup.
   191. Zonk is a Doppleclapper Posted: August 21, 2018 at 03:45 PM (#5730924)
Done deal on Murphy.

That's an awfully nice spare part move... Monasterio is still pretty young - but this is his 5th year in the organization and he pretty much is what he is -- a light hitting SS with a decent glove, modicum of speed, and decent enough plate control. He's unlikely to have much beyond a Aaron Miles style utility career if that.

I don't so much care for Murphy bringing the defense down - prefer to just see Bote get the 3B starts until Bryant (I'm not going to "if" that) - but as a supposedly good guy who shouldn't get too pissy about PHing and spot-starting (and as noted above, he's started hitting again) - good trade.

   192. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 21, 2018 at 04:10 PM (#5730956)

Murphy wasn't going to be there today either way but there's no hints based on today's lineup.


It strikes me that Murphy just kind of fell into Chicago's lap when Washington decided to wave the white flag. I'm not sure there's a larger plan at work more than it improves the overall talent of the team for basically no cost.
   193. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 21, 2018 at 04:22 PM (#5730972)
It is surprising he got to the Cubs on waivers; damn near every one of the other contenders could have used him in some form or another - maybe COL and ARI the most and LA the least now that they have Dozier, but he'd be a fit on any of those teams.

I don't know how good Adams will be with STL, but just like Ross it's pretty ####### annoying the Cards got both those players for free.
   194. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 21, 2018 at 04:34 PM (#5730981)
Carrie Muskat @CarrieMuskat 8m8 minutes ago

#Cubs Bryant to take BP on the field today. That's a good sign


I think that's the first time he's done that since this last DL trip. Could be wrong though.

Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 8m8 minutes ago

Bryant open to playing more in OF with addition of Murphy.


Cubs best lineup rest of the way could end up being one of their weakest defensively (Javy SS, Murphy 2b, Bryant RF, Heyward CF), but of course they'll have a ton of bench defense and options to switch all over the damn place.

Mark Gonzales @MDGonzales 10m10 minutes ago

Montgomery threw 90 feet, felt a little rusty but no “pulling.” Long toss from 120 feet Wednesday. Big test will be bullpen at full speed. He also confirmed his wedding Monday in Farmington Hills, MI


Contreras also got married on a random off Monday; I think Javy just got engaged (and had a kid). Regardless, I sure hope he's back soon. The Cubs have to think long and hard of just DLing Chatwood until rosters expand and giving a start or two to Tseng or Underwood (my preference) or Mills.

Nothing on Darvish and the MRI he wanted yet.
   195. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 21, 2018 at 04:39 PM (#5730990)
Murphy has been absolutely brutal in the field this year. He is both battling a knee injury and the aging process. Hopefully the former can improve.

It also looks like he played some OF early in his career but none since 2011. I hope his bat is worth the juggling act that will be required to get him into the lineup.

And good on Bryant for getting out ahead of things by volunteering to move around.
   196. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 21, 2018 at 04:49 PM (#5731002)
Cubs have 4 more DH games after tonight; Murphy is probably the best option for that but he's also likely a much better PH option than Schwarber.

If everyone is healthy - non-Yu division - the Cubs are going to have some really, really hard decisions to make for the playoff roster. If Darvish were magically healthy it'd be even harder, but I think it's safe to write him off for the year. If the SP wasn't so unreliable/unable to go deep, this is a perfect roster for a 6 man bench but that's highly unlikely. Maybe they just make Javy the backup catcher.
   197. Walt Davis Posted: August 21, 2018 at 04:51 PM (#5731007)
I suppose Murphy also means more of Heyward in CF and Happ/Zo in the OF.

The HRs definitely feel like a byproduct of the coaching/approach

I think the overall change from last year to this can (probably, at least in part) be attributed to Davis but I meant the 2nd half slump is not likely due to him doing something different in the 2nd half. Last year Willson had a 855 OPS; a bit over two weeks ago it was 830 with a higher OBP -- nothing overly dramatic going on. It's hitting 159/230/159 in his last 13 games that's crashed his numbers and that performance likely has nothing to do with Davis -- unless Chili has no idea how to fix him.

And same goes for the offense overall. The big drops have been in doubles (probably not something a hitting coach can really do anything about), walks and GDPs. The latter two might be the result of Chili's work but it worked so well in the first half -- maybe it's taken the league a while to find the Cubs' new weaknesses.
   198. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 21, 2018 at 05:03 PM (#5731025)
I suppose Murphy also means more of Heyward in CF and Happ/Zo in the OF.

Right. Happ hasn't played 3b since 7/28; they seem to have pretty quietly decided he wasn't good enough there defensively (or at least, not enough experience to be good enough right now). I don't think we're going to see a ton of Happ/Almora starts the rest of the way and most likely not at all in the playoffs (maybe Almora stays the RH half of a CF platoon with Heyward).
   199. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 21, 2018 at 05:36 PM (#5731059)
MRI shows a stress reaction on right elbow and triceps strain for Yu Darvish and he'll be shut down for six weeks and miss the rest of the season.


Oh well.

Russell scratched due to sore right shoulder

   200. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: August 21, 2018 at 05:39 PM (#5731063)
So it sounds like no surgery will be required. Normally that's good news but I admit to being concerned he's just setting himself up for another 2018 given the mystery surrounding whether he was actually healthy coming into spring training. Well, mystery in my mind.
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