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Friday, June 30, 2017

Time for a Dose of Optimism

First, a bit of perspective.  The Cubs won the 2016 World Series.  The Cubs were the best team last year, from the moment pitchers and catchers reported all the way through the end of October.  Sure, there were bumps in the road along the way.  Us Cubs fans aren’t used to being that good, and throughout the year we were waiting for something, anything, to go wrong.  There were no guarantees, and there were quite a few times, especially in October, when it looked like being the best wasn’t going to matter.  That somehow there really was a curse, or that fate just wasn’t going to be on our side.  Yet, in the end, the overwhelming talent won out and made all the other stuff fade away.  The expectations were it was just the beginning of a long run of contention. 

We were spoiled last year.  Did we forget that it’s usually never that easy?  That rarely does a team go wire to wire as the best team - yeah, there was a point last year where the Giants had a better record than the Cubs, but who even remembers that?  That regular season dominance tends to give way to postseason randomness. 

Almost nothing has gone right this year so far.  Sure, there’s bright spots - the unexpected impact of Happ, Davis’s return to near dominance, the steadiness of Jay - but virtually every single returning member of the 2016 team is worse this year than last year and underachieving their projections.  There’s been a ton of injuries, mostly of the nagging variety, but nothing serious.  There were reasons to expect regression from a number of areas, though not to this extreme.  Luck feels like it tends to even out, and while I wouldn’t say last year’s team benefited that much from luck almost anything that could go their way did, and this year it’s gone the other way. 

Does that mean this is a wasted season?  That somehow the Cubs aren’t good enough?  The biggest piece of luck this year is how terrible the rest of the division has been.  The Cubs are one game back of the Brewers - even in the loss column.  Look at both teams’ rosters - do you really think the Brewers are going stay ahead of the Cubs this year?  The Cardinals have had just as much turmoil as the Cubs, probably even more, and that was starting with a lower talent base.  Same for the Pirates. 

Reading crap like this just pisses me off.  I believe in this team’s talent, their resources, and yeah, their experience.  They are going to right the ship.  They’re going to pull away with the division.  I trust this front office to make a few moves over the next month, and I expect the pieces to click.  Right now, the Cubs are less than the sum or their parts.  They’re too good to just quietly fade away.

Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 30, 2017 at 03:27 AM | 42 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 30, 2017 at 03:51 AM (#5485825)
Having said all that, I'm not buying Candelario as a major leaguer. Too early to give up on him, but he's useful trade bait. Duensing's numbers look just fine, but I don't trust him and he's not going to be an effective LOOGY when it matters. Jay isn't going to continue to be this clutch. The Cubs are playing too many guys in spots where they're stretched defensively (some of it by necessity, some of it is acceptable experimentation). Arrieta is just a guy. Lackey is done. Rondon is broken, possibly beyond repair. Maybe Russell's struggles are because of his personal life, but it's not encouraging to see him regress on offense and defense like this. Happ has holes in his swing. Schwarber, well....
   2. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 30, 2017 at 03:54 AM (#5485826)
On the positive prediction side: Schwarber will come back with a vengeance. Bryant and Rizzo are going to have MVP level 2nd halves. Lester is going to be the steadying ace presence. The Cubs are going to add a difference making SP. Zobrist is going to be a steadying and consistent influence down the stretch. The Cubs are going to win the division by double digits. I still take my chances against any other team team they'll see in the playoffs, either league. The Dodgers are the better team this year; the better team doesn't always win. I'm selling on the Nats, especially in October; same with Arizona and Colorado.
   3. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 30, 2017 at 05:26 AM (#5485831)
There was a thread about it, but this statcast speed thing is really cool. I've been surprised with Happ's speed, but wouldn't have guessed he's been faster than Bryant. Also surprised to see there are 2 players slower than Montero in baseball (Pujols! and McCann). Rizzo is below avg for 1b, which makes sense, but he's such a great baserunner.
   4. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 30, 2017 at 10:06 AM (#5485904)
I trust this front office to make a few moves over the next month, and I expect the pieces to click.

I am optimistic about this season but I do hope that anyone they acquire of even moderate significance will be around in 2018. The team's struggles would definitely dissuade me from giving up real prospects for half season rentals.
   5. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 30, 2017 at 10:21 AM (#5485913)
I am optimistic about this season but I do hope that anyone they acquire of even moderate significance will be around in 2018. The team's struggles would definitely dissuade me from giving up real prospects for half season rentals.

Unless the Cubs play absolutely lights out the next month, I think the acquisition is only going to be the type that'll be around past this year. That is, unless someone like Cueto ends up being really cheap because of his pending opt-out. I don't think they'll make a big bullpen splash, although if they end up leaving Montgomery in the rotation they might want a lefty for the pen, but I'd bet on it being someone similar to Montgomery last year.

With both Lackey and Arrieta healthy, I don't really see them getting a stopgap FA pitcher type, at least not one that would immediately take one of their spots. Lackey could suck his way onto the DL, but he wouldn't go quietly.
   6. Brian C Posted: June 30, 2017 at 10:50 AM (#5485932)
I mean, it can always get worse!

But I agree. Things have gone poorly enough that it seems like at least a minor course correction is in order. And it'll only take a minor correction to make the playoffs in all likelihood.
   7. Greg Pope Posted: June 30, 2017 at 11:08 AM (#5485945)

Unless the Cubs play absolutely lights out the next month, I think the acquisition is only going to be the type that'll be around past this year.


I'd like to see them get Verlander. They should have the money to pay him over the next few years and if the Cubs agree to take on the whole contract, it shouldn't cost too much in prospects, I wouldn't think.

Check with Bosio first to see if he thinks he can "fix" Verlander. Although if he says he can do it in 15 minutes, don't trade your top pitching prospect.
   8. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 30, 2017 at 11:19 AM (#5485958)
It's only been 4 games in AAA, but Schwarber hasn't magically fixed himself yet. He's 5 for 15 (all singles), with 1 walk and 8 strikeouts (and 1 GIDP).
   9. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: June 30, 2017 at 11:25 AM (#5485962)
Hey, that's a .714 BABIP. That was one of his problems.
   10. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: June 30, 2017 at 11:27 AM (#5485964)
Unless the Cubs play absolutely lights out the next month, I think the acquisition is only going to be the type that'll be around past this year.

Theo has already said that anyone they pick up wouldn't be just a rental; but someone they could keep for a while.
   11. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 30, 2017 at 11:41 AM (#5485975)
Right, I'm just saying the Cubs in theory could change that.

I haven't seen anything more on Candelario beyond x-rays are negative and he was still in a lot of pain. Cubs can't go into this series with both him and Bryant unavailable but on the 25; I also haven't seen how long they think Zobrist will rehab in TN.
   12. bunyon Posted: June 30, 2017 at 12:00 PM (#5485997)
I'd like to see them get Verlander. They should have the money to pay him over the next few years and if the Cubs agree to take on the whole contract, it shouldn't cost too much in prospects, I wouldn't think.

It seems a really good fit. I guess it come down to how good you think Verlander will be going forward. The Cubs are a team that both has the money and that would really benefit from a solid, 100ish ERA+ guy who can throw a lot of innings.

As a non Cubs fan, I am also bullish on their second half. Given their division, I think they have to be the division favorites and as decent a bet as any to win some series in the postseason.
   13. Covfefe Posted: June 30, 2017 at 12:10 PM (#5486004)
I'd like to see them get Verlander. They should have the money to pay him over the next few years and if the Cubs agree to take on the whole contract, it shouldn't cost too much in prospects, I wouldn't think.


Yeah - I was advocating this in a recent Verlander thread... but -- initially, I thought the option kicked in after next year, not the following season. Two more guaranteed seasons at 28 after this one makes me a little more reserved on this desire.

If the Cubs were to make such a deal AND pay full freight - I wouldn't be willing to part with more than flotsam.... not even one of the youngish arms that hasn't yet (and looks unlikely to ever) put it together like a Justin Steele or Carson Sands. We'd be talking Eddie Butler + a pick 'em from a list of upcoming minor league FAs. ~70 mil guaranteed for another 2.5 years is a big risk to take.

My longtime favorite target -- Julio Teheran -- is in the toilet in Atlanta and I still think he's the type that Bos could and would work wonders with. I see the Braves have already brought up Sean Newcomb - and he's had a really nice month, but he's basically taking over Colon's rotation spot. Both Kolby Allard and Mike Soroka are slicing and dicing AA -- but both are also just 19, so I don't think the Braves are ready to give them a shot.

Still, would the Braves go for a package built around Candelario? Ruiz was dreadful, I think the Freeman at 3B stuff is silly, so the Braves could do a lot worse than giving someone like a Candy a month or two to see if he could be their guy at 3B. It would probably take more than just Candy - and with Teheran not looking so hot, Eloy is out of the question...
   14. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: June 30, 2017 at 12:47 PM (#5486022)
I'm bullish on the Cubs winning the division, but that bullishness is mostly a reflection of the division.
   15. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: June 30, 2017 at 01:20 PM (#5486040)
A couple of scenarios where the Cubs might look for a rent a player - Caratini struggles too much defensively, so they look for a veteran backup; any sort of serious injury to a core player; a middle reliever.

I'm still more bullish on the Cubs talent to win the division over the suckiness of the division; the suckiness is just the backup plan.
   16. bfan Posted: June 30, 2017 at 01:59 PM (#5486063)
Still, would the Braves go for a package built around Candelario?


In a word, no. He has had a slightly better minor league career than Rio Ruiz, with the difference being a successful MiLB short-season for Candelario in 2011, before Rio Ruiz started playing organized baseball, and he has been equally crap in MLB (small sample size, for both). Candelario doesn't advance the ball one bit in the search for a successful MLB 3B for the Braves, other than giving them 2 long-shots, neither of whom may be better than Adonis Garcia.
   17. Covfefe Posted: June 30, 2017 at 03:17 PM (#5486118)
In a word, no. He has had a slightly better minor league career than Rio Ruiz, with the difference being a successful MiLB short-season for Candelario in 2011, before Rio Ruiz started playing organized baseball, and he has been equally crap in MLB (small sample size, for both). Candelario doesn't advance the ball one bit in the search for a successful MLB 3B for the Braves, other than giving them 2 long-shots, neither of whom may be better than Adonis Garcia.


Well, I did say "package" :-)

Though, I suppose the only arms that WOULDN'T rank behind about 5 others already in the Braves system would be Dylan Cease (another guy I wouldn't be willing to part with).

If Addy wasn't scuffling his way into a very necessary time-sharing, I might almost be tempted to toss Baez out there.
   18. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 01, 2017 at 02:47 AM (#5486542)
I don't mind much that the Cubs were held to three hits and no runs by a lousy team with a lousy pitching staff.

I do mind that it's the 10th time this year the Cubs have 3 or few hits in a game. That's one out of every eight games.
   19. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 01, 2017 at 05:11 AM (#5486548)
Baez for Teheran? Hell ####### no.
   20. Non-Youkilidian Geometry Posted: July 01, 2017 at 07:55 AM (#5486556)
It's only been 4 games in AAA, but Schwarber hasn't magically fixed himself yet. He's 5 for 15 (all singles), with 1 walk and 8 strikeouts (and 1 GIDP).

He went 2 for 4 last night, drew a walk, and both his hits were home runs. He's up to a 1.113 AAA OPS, with a slash line of .368/.429/.684. Fixed!!

Seriously, he's been too good a hitter not to bounce back eventually, and getting a reset in the minors may turn out to be what he needed to get back on track. I'm optimistic, anyway.

   21. Spahn Insane, stimulus-funded BurlyMan™ Posted: July 01, 2017 at 12:00 PM (#5486612)
I don't mind much that the Cubs were held to three hits and no runs by a lousy team with a lousy pitching staff.

I do mind that it's the 10th time this year the Cubs have 3 or few hits in a game. That's one out of every eight games.


The unevenness of this team's offense is kind of amazing, isn't it.

This has been such a weird season for me to follow--last year's team's grabbing the brass ring gives this team a pass to a huge extent, and obviously I root for them regardless, but otherwise they'd be maddening--they've not been more than 4 games over .500 all year, and that only on three different days, the constant injuries and subpar performances, the never seeming to click on all cylinders despite flashes of the talent that jelled so well last year. If the Cubs do indeed win the division, as they should and as I still pretty much expect, it'll be one of the least impressive, least inspiring division-winning performance performances you'll ever see.

The 2016 Cubs provided me with many gifts as a fan, but one of the best, as it turns out, is the gift of relative apathy about the 2017 Cubs. If I were hanging on the current team's every move, I'd go nuts.

(All that said, I like to think this team's postseason, should there be one, will be fun to follow, because the pressure of killing the goat is gone, the expectations for their postseason performance will probably be pretty low...they'll be playing with house money. At that point, the crap shoot works to their advantage--if they get hot and win it all again or at least ruin the Dodgers' or Nationals' season, awesome, and if not, what the hell; they've still got a lot of talent and next year has to be smoother sailing.)
   22. Nero Wolfe, Indeed Posted: July 01, 2017 at 02:15 PM (#5486653)
The Cubs are one game back of the Brewers - even in the loss column. Look at both teams’ rosters - do you really think the Brewers are going stay ahead of the Cubs this year?


I didn't think the Brewers would be in front of the Cubs on July 1, either.

   23. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 01, 2017 at 04:56 PM (#5486702)
The 2016 Cubs provided me with many gifts as a fan, but one of the best, as it turns out, is the gift of relative apathy about the 2017 Cubs.

Christ, yes. 2016 means never having to worry much about seasons like this ever again.
   24. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 05, 2017 at 05:57 PM (#5488203)
Schwarber up to .333/.463/.697 in 41PA in AAA. 11K, but as noted earlier, 8 of those K were in the first 3 games. He has 2 2HR games. There's a lot of talk of him coming back this weekend - either tomorrow against MIL or Fri against PIT and Maddon is already talking about putting him right back at leadoff. If he's hitting, and they think he's fixed, by all means they should bring him up. I guess we just have to trust them.

I assume he might still be platooned, at least to start. But with Heyward and Zobrist back now too, Joe's hands really will be full trying to get everyone PT. Happ has shown he should start every game (or let's say 90%+). He can play CF most days, but that means one of Schwarber/Heyward/Zobrist is likely sitting every day; that's not even considering Javy and it seems like the SS timeshare has quietly gone away/been reduced.
   25. Covfefe Posted: July 05, 2017 at 06:08 PM (#5488206)
Ugh with the leadoff stuff on Schwarbs.

This isn't old-fashioned lineup construction speaking -- it's just matter of a 295 OBP and a guy who struggled there.

When they bring him back, put him somewhere down the order, let him get his feet back, and stick someone with an OBP over 300 there... you can literally pick anyone besides Baez to fit that bill.

I love Joe - truly - but sometimes I think he falls in love with ideas past the sell-by date.
   26. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 05, 2017 at 06:09 PM (#5488207)
In baseball history, only five teams have won 100 (or more) games in a season & had a losing record the next year. A sixth team went .500 the year after.

Those teams:
1. 1917-18 CWS (100-54, 57-67)
2. 1931-32 STL (101-53, 72-82)
3. 1970-71 CIN (102-60, 79-83)
4. 1985-86 STL (101-61, 79-82)
5. 1993-94 SFG (103-59, 55-60)
6. 2011-12 PHI (102-60, 81-81)

Three of those teams - CWS, CIN, and STL - turned right around the very next year winning the pennant. A fourth team, STL, won a pennant two years after their down season. A fifth team, PHI, had their big season come at the conclusion of a nice run.

The 1993 SFG are the true one-season wonder on the list. It’s surrounded in a sea of losing seasons - 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, and 1996.

Just makes me feel better about stuff, is all.
   27. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 05, 2017 at 06:44 PM (#5488218)
@CSNMooney: John Lackey has been dealing with plantar fasciitis: "I’m 38 years old. I’m bothered by a lot of things.”


Pass. Too easy.
   28. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: July 05, 2017 at 07:48 PM (#5488232)
When they bring him back, put him somewhere down the order, let him get his feet back, and stick someone with an OBP over 300 there... you can literally pick anyone besides Baez to fit that bill.


I really like Rizzo in the leadoff spot.

Rizzo
Bryant
Happ
Contreras
Schwarber
and the rest...
   29. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 06, 2017 at 09:08 AM (#5488396)
Schwarber up today, lackey to DL. So, just roster shenanigans.
   30. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 06, 2017 at 11:20 AM (#5488477)
Ok, really like today's lineup:

Jay CF
Bryant
Rizzo
Happ 2b
Schwarber
Contreras
Heyward
Baez SS
Montgomery
   31. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 06, 2017 at 05:35 PM (#5488857)
The Brewers are 48-40. That puts them on pace to go 88-74.

To match that, the Cubs (record: 42-43), will have to go 46-31. That's a .597 winning percentage. That's a 97-win pace over 162 games.

For all the belief of how the Cubs are the team more likely to pick it up a few notches, it's the Brewers who have won 7 of their last 8.
   32. Covfefe Posted: July 06, 2017 at 06:03 PM (#5488865)
Imagine if the Brewers hadn't given away Scooter Gennett for nothing but 50k.

   33. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 07, 2017 at 12:05 PM (#5489219)
Current Prospectus playoff odds:

Cubs: 51.2%
Brewers: 49.3%
   34. Mike Emeigh Posted: July 07, 2017 at 12:32 PM (#5489251)
Current Prospectus playoff odds:

Cubs: 51.2%
Brewers: 49.3%


That's likely a combination of (a) the Cubs having three more games on the schedule than the Brewers; (b) talent; and (c) remaining schedule - the Brewers have a road-heavy schedule while the Cubs have more home games than road games remaining, plus Milwaukee still has a long West Coast trip coming up.

-- MWE
   35. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 07, 2017 at 01:00 PM (#5489284)
Honestly, that still *feels* right to me. I might be a little more confident that the Cubs are still going to win the division, but that confidence has been shrinking. If the Cubs don't close this month in the right direction - you know, actually start pulling away from .500 - I guess I'll have to face reality.
   36. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 07, 2017 at 01:04 PM (#5489290)
Jon Morosi‏ @jonmorosi 4h4 hours ago
Sources: #Brewers are prepared to buy at Trade Deadline and have begun background work on Jose Quintana, Sonny Gray and other starters. @MLB


This will be worth watching. The Brewers are good, but can also still get better.
   37. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 07, 2017 at 01:05 PM (#5489294)
you know, actually start pulling away from .500

Given their current record, pulling away from .500 pushes them towards Cincinnati, not Milwaukee.
   38. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 08, 2017 at 11:27 PM (#5489997)
Cubs lose & Brewers win (big - by 13 runs over the Nationals).

So tomorrow, for the first time all year, B-Prospectus should give Milwaukee better playoff odds than the Cubs.
   39. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: July 08, 2017 at 11:31 PM (#5489998)
Cubs lose & Brewers win (big - by 13 runs over the Nationals).

So tomorrow, for the first time all year, B-Prospectus should give Milwaukee better playoff odds than the Cubs.


The Brewers lost to the Yankees. The Braves beat the Nats 13-0. You are mixing up your historic MIL National league teams
   40. dejarouehg Posted: July 09, 2017 at 05:55 PM (#5490180)
There is very little about the club this year that gives me reason for optimism. When all is said and done, there just is not enough starting pitching.

Question: Heading to South Bend in a month. Who are the top 2 or 3 players to watch for?
   41. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: July 09, 2017 at 06:01 PM (#5490183)
The Brewers lost to the Yankees. The Braves beat the Nats 13-0. You are mixing up your historic MIL National league teams

Oops.

But looks like I was just a day early.
   42. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: July 10, 2017 at 11:18 AM (#5490415)
I think this post counts as my mid-season assessment, although it's getting harder to see things turning around now. Still, I also can't imagine them not turning it around. So I wait.

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