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Monday, August 22, 2016

A real vacation might benefit Jason Heyward more

If I were Joe Maddon, I would have made Jason Heyward take advantage of it while the Cubs were there. A day hike among a riot of wildflowers. A whitewater rafting trip. Some time atop a mountain that no hitting guru could scale. Maybe a tour of the state’s burgeoning herbal industry.

Instead, the manager kept his struggling hitter in the dugout for the three-game series against the Rockies in Denver. Actually, describing Heyward as “struggling’’ might imply that he has known something besides struggle this season, that there have been hills to go with the valleys. But his season started out at rock bottom and has hugged the ground ever since. The guy with the eight-year, $184 million contract is hitting .225, which works out to about $10 million each time he has had success at the plate. Or something like that.

It’s why Maddon finally acknowledged the obvious and gave Heyward some rest starting Thursday against Milwaukee, “rest” being a euphemism for a benching. But I wonder why Maddon didn’t take it a step further in typical out-of-the-box fashion. Not a trip to the bench but a vacation in the mountains.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 22, 2016 at 10:45 AM | 74 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, hot takes, jason heyward

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Cameron: Kris Bryant may be the best all-around player in the National League

Kris Bryant isn’t Mike Trout, of course. No one is. But if you look at the numbers over the last year, you might be surprised how close it is.

Is Kris Bryant the best position player in baseball not named Mike Trout?

Voodoo Posted: August 20, 2016 at 04:48 PM | 38 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, kris bryant, mvp

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Spin (rate) zone: Mike Montgomery is a real numbers guy

“We were in the bullpen together and he’s really into it,” Montgomery told me of Zych. “We just talked a lot about it and I went to a website called Brooks Baseball. I guess it’s pretty accurate. We would just look at it and I’d check it out after every time I pitched. And we talked about what the numbers would teach us about our own stuff. I can throw these pitches in these locations because it’s really hard to hit. And learning about movement on the pitches and stuff like that.”

Most major league pitchers are more into Brooks & Dunn than Brooks Baseball, but Montgomery has found the information useful and it led to further curiosity.

While watching a broadcast toward the end of last season, Montgomery saw something that said his fastball had a low spin rate. He immediately thought that was a bad thing and assumed he needed to try and fix that. After doing more research, he understood that it wasn’t necessarily going to hurt him if he had a lower spin rate, it just meant he’d have to get outs in different ways.

“It’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Montgomery said. “It just means that I’m not going to rely on swing and miss [with my fastball] as much as I am weak contact. It’s just understanding how that’s used.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 18, 2016 at 11:12 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: brooks baseball, cubs, mariners, mike montgomery, stats

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Tommy La Stella wants to play for only the Chicago Cubs

Read the whole article. It’s majors or bust. If I were the team, I’d leave him home where he’s comfortable.

The Cubs placed infielder Tommy La Stella on the inactive list Tuesday as he contemplates retirement if he can’t play for the big league team.

In fact, La Stella, who was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on July 29, said the Cubs are the only team he wants to play for as his priorities have changed over the last year.

“I’m a baseball player by profession. My identity is not tied up in that,” La Stella said in a phone interview on Tuesday afternoon.

“That’s not who I am as a person. I don’t need to make every life move centered around my profession, because that’s not who I am. I kind of disassociated with that identity. It felt a lot better to me going out there playing because that’s what I felt in me, not because I felt obligated to do it. It was a lot more enjoyable this year.”

Jim Furtado Posted: August 10, 2016 at 09:02 AM | 35 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, tommy la stella

Tommy La Stella has failed to report to Triple-A for 11 days

Des Moines is lovely this time of year.

Tommy La Stella was demoted to Triple-A by the Cubs on July 29. It was a roster crunch situation and La Stella has options left so, despite the fact that he has been an effective player this year, it made sense to send him down. Sorry, baseball is not a pure meritocracy. Sometimes the politics of contracts, options and service time play into such decisions.

At the time, Joe Maddon mentioned to the media that La Stella didn’t take the demotion well. It’s a bit unusual to hear that said publicly, but it’s understandable that a guy who has spent his whole life trying to make the big leagues doesn’t like it when he’s asked to leave. Indeed, you probably want guys to be at least a bit miffed when they get sent down and you hope they use it as motivation to work hard and get back up.

La Stella, however, is still taking it hard. Players have 72 hours to report to the minors when so designated. La Stella has not reported to Des Moines going on 11 days now. He’s back home in New Jersey, still working out and talking to Cubs on a regular basis, but he’s not reporting to Triple-A.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 10, 2016 at 08:32 AM | 39 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, tommy la stella

Monday, August 08, 2016

Sorry, MLB, the Cubs are great again - SBNation.com

It’s a looooooooooooonnnnnnnnnng season.

The Cubs have had kind of a weird season. The beginning of their year was so, so great that it masked the months of mediocrity that followed. They began 2016 with a 25-6 run, matching a franchise record so old that their World Series-less streak hadn’t even begun yet. They then had a stretch, covering the rest of May, all of June, and a chunk of July, that saw them go just 27-29, which slowly evaporated the enormous lead they had built on the Cardinals in the NL Central. Things never got too dire, though, as Chicago seems to have recovered: they entered the All-Star break riding a three-game winning streak, and that success has carried over into the second half, as they’re 17-6 in their last 23 games, and undefeated in August.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 08, 2016 at 11:17 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs

Sunday, August 07, 2016

A modest proposal: Give Joe Maddon the weekend off - Chicago Tribune

That’s why I’m making a modest proposal to the Cubs to keep manager Joe Maddon relaxed and fresh for October: Give him a “Camp Ojibwa weekend” and tell him to come back Tuesday.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 07, 2016 at 08:24 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, joe maddon

Monday, August 01, 2016

OTP 2016 August 1: The haiku intersection of baseball and politics

I spent most of that part of the game watching the current and future Vice Presidents give their convention speeches. Biden pointing out - in what was likely his last major address as an elected official - that Donald Trump “doesn’t have a clue”, and Kaine doing his moderately impressive impression of the Republican nominee. Sandwiched between them was a genuine billionaire, Michael Bloomberg, advising America to “elect a sane, competent person” instead of the self-proclaimed billionaire the Republicans nominated last week.

Back at Wrigley, the no-hitter - and the shut-out - ended with Kris Bryant’s solo shot in the bottom of the 6th. A 7th inning 2-run homer by Javy Baez gave the Cubs their first lead of the game. By the time Addison Russell got his first career grand slam in the 8th, I was ready to switch back to the Convention, just in time for President Obama to take the stage for his valedictory convention address.

Bitter Mouse, Space Tyrant Posted: August 01, 2016 at 08:15 AM | 2019 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, politics

Cubs stun Mariners in 12th on Lester’s RBI | MLB.com

This game had an ending you don’t see every day.

“Joe does it again. You sit there sometimes and scratch your head and it seems to always work out.”—Lester on Maddon’s moves that worked in the Cubs’ favor

Jim Furtado Posted: August 01, 2016 at 06:47 AM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Law: Cubs pay a heavy price for Aroldis Chapman, on and off the field - Keith Law Blog- ESPN

Keith Law makes the case for banning players who are involved in domestic violence incidents.

Of course, I’m on record as opposing any team’s decision to acquire and pay a player with a domestic violence incident in his past, especially his recent past. I criticized the Yankees for trading for Chapman in December and expressed my disappointment in the Mets for picking up Jose Reyes and minimizing what he did in describing his own domestic violence incident.

Jim Furtado Posted: July 26, 2016 at 08:50 AM | 52 comment(s)
  Beats: aroldis chapman, cubs, yankees

Monday, July 25, 2016

Yankees deep in trade talks: Aroldis Chapman for Cubs stud | New York Post

Torres would be a good get, although there is a question whether he’ll outgrow shortstop.

Update:

Jim Furtado Posted: July 25, 2016 at 01:24 PM | 121 comment(s)
  Beats: aroldis chapman, cubs, gleyber torres, trade rumors, yankees

Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman could be traded | MLB.com

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported on Sunday night that the Cubs’ top prospect, shortstop Gleyber Torres, would be a part of a deal between Chicago and the Yankees involving Chapman. Torres was scratched from the lineup before his game Sunday at Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach.

Jim Furtado Posted: July 25, 2016 at 06:13 AM | 162 comment(s)
  Beats: aroldis chapman, cubs, trade rumors, yankees

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pokemon Go craze hits Chicago Cubs clubhouse—sort of - Chicago Cubs Blog- ESPN

You don’t really have to catch them all.

Has the Pokemon Go craze found its way into the Chicago Cubs clubhouse? That was the question put to players this week, as their ability to travel the country and catch Pokemon make them prime candidates for the addicting and popular game.

“I’ve caught two so far,” pitcher Jason Hammel said. “The first one might be a gimme so they can hook you. I’m going to show it to my son, and he will love that.”

Jim Furtado Posted: July 21, 2016 at 10:05 AM | 52 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs

Cubs get Mike Montgomery in 4-player trade | MLB.com

The Cubs added what they hope will be a key piece to the bullpen on Wednesday, acquiring left-handed reliever Mike Montgomery from the Mariners for Minor League prospects Dan Vogelbach and Paul Blackburn.

Jim Furtado Posted: July 21, 2016 at 06:51 AM | 27 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, mariners, trade

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Dave Cameron Fangraphs Chat

Cameron is annoying but I gotta give credit where due; he is so right, here:

All In The Guetterman, Looking Up At The Stargell Posted: July 20, 2016 at 04:57 PM | 64 comment(s)
  Beats: baez, cubs, schwarber

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer: ‘Expect the unexpected’ at trade deadline | CSN Chicago

If we expect the unexpected, does the unexpected become expected?

Yes, the market for starting pitching is especially thin at a time when there aren’t that many overall difference-makers available. But Hoyer also pointed to the Red Sox flipping Jon Lester to the Oakland A’s in the Yoenis Cespedes deal at the 2014 deadline (an eye-opening experience outside of Boston that ultimately helped the Cubs sign the $155 million pitcher).

“That was like a total shock,” Hoyer said. “I think we should expect the unexpected.”

Jim Furtado Posted: July 20, 2016 at 10:40 AM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, general managers, jed hoyer

The potential bombshell Cubs trade that never materialized | FOX Sports

The scenario, according to major-league sources, unfolded like this:

The Cubs tried to acquire left-hander Drew Pomeranz before the Padres sent him to the Red Sox for Class A right-hander Anderson Espinoza — simple enough.

The Cubs’ plan, though, wasn’t to keep Pomeranz, who is under club control through 2018. No, the Cubs wanted to spin Pomeranz for a starter who is under even longer team control.


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Cubs hoping Jake Arrieta can get back on track | MLB.com

A more coherent take on Jake Arrieta’s problems.

Jim Furtado Posted: July 19, 2016 at 11:11 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, jake arrieta

A theory on Jake Arrieta’s downturn and why Cubs are optimistic about another comeback | CSN Chicago

So, the theory is that he’s not executing???

Since the beginning of June, Arrieta has a 4.81 ERA, the Cubs winning only three of those seven starts. Their ace has thrown 100-plus pitches five times during that stretch, and gone more than six innings just once.

“I just know that I’ve prepared, I’ve planned ahead (and) I have a good idea of what I want to accomplish,” Arrieta said. “Just try and focus on executing. I am confident with all of my stuff. It’s better than good enough to get pretty much anybody out at any time in any count.

“(It’s) realizing that and staying in that mindset. And as soon as I get into a spot where I feel myself nibbling on the corners – or trying to do more than is necessary – it’s about getting away from that as quick as possible.

“Because we all get in that mode sometimes where you get two quick outs and then all of a sudden you have a 3-0 count and you’re like, ‘How does that happen?’ It’s being mentally tough – and aware of situations like that – (and) better inside the strike zone.”

Jim Furtado Posted: July 19, 2016 at 10:56 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, jake arrieta

Friday, July 15, 2016

Cubs get back to work — and there’s lots of work to do | Chicago Sun-Times

I hope he can bounceback so he doesn’t get released.

Turns out he’s a man, not a machine. Once seemingly unhittable, Arrieta (12-4, 2.68) now is barely hanging on to a spot among the N.L.’s top 10 in ERA. And this is alarming: He has walked more batters — 43 — than any of the N.L.’s top 20 starters in ERA.

Arrieta probably can forget about repeating as Cy Young. The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, the Nats’ Stephen Strasburg and even Marlins strikeout machine Jose Fernandez all are better-positioned for runs at the award. For Arrieta, Job 1 simply is re-establishing himself as the Cubs’ ace.

Jim Furtado Posted: July 15, 2016 at 07:11 AM | 29 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Jake Arrieta in the Body Issue

ESPN’s Body Issue is out again.  Remember that the shots, while really impressive and showing the dynamism of athletic bodies from across the sports universe, are still of naked people and NSFW.

Arrieta’s are some of the best of the bunch, but Vince Wilfork curled into a ball of potential energy looks like goddamned Atlas and I’m pretty sure I’d drown if I tried carrying a rock across the bottom of the ocean like Courtney Conlogue is doing here.


Saturday, July 02, 2016

Joe Maddon believes young Cubs can learn — some — from losing - Chicago Tribune

I bet they learned:
“Losing is a disease…
...as contagious as polio.
Losing is a disease…
...as contagious as syphilis.
Losing is a disease…
...as contagious as bubonic plague…
... attacking one…
... but infecting all.
Ah, but curable.”

Jim Furtado Posted: July 02, 2016 at 11:14 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs

Why Schwarber won’t be traded and what it means for Cubs’ bullpen | Chicago Sun-Times

“I’m looking forward to Kyle Schwarber, who got hurt in a Cubs uniform, and is working is ass off in a Cubs uniform to come back, hitting a very big home run in a Cubs uniform sometime very early next season,” he said.

Jim Furtado Posted: July 02, 2016 at 08:06 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, kyle schwarber

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Willson Contreras won’t be Kyle Schwarber 2.0 - Beyond the Box Score

Contreras may not have the impact Schwarber had in 2015 as an all-around offensive force, but defense considered, the Cubs have essentially replaced Schwarber with a slightly different version of himself. It’s just that this version trends toward contact and more advanced defense behind the plate, with the same versatility options the Cubs and Maddon love to have available.

The question moving forward for the rookie backstop is whether his bat will keep him in the lineup when he’s not catching, or if his eventual regression lands him in a platoon role with David Ross and Miguel Montero. Looking at rest of the season projections, the case trends more toward a platoon.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 30, 2016 at 11:01 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, kyle schwarber, willson contreras

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Cubs use 3 different pitchers as OFs en route to 15-inning win

The Cubs played three different pitchers in left field in their 15-inning, 7-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday. Two of them, lefty Travis Wood and righty Spencer Patton, alternated pitching and playing left in the 14th inning before Wood pitched the 15th while setup man Pedro Strop played left field.

“We were down to almost nothing,” manager Joe Maddon said after using 22 of the 25 players on his roster. “Travis, my God, what an athlete. ... Travis made everything possible. He may have had his best stuff all year.”

It was fun watching Maddon play around with the roster and lineup.  I don’t have a ton of specific criticisms to any of the individual moves (I am not a Coghlan fan); and while some might say he was being cute for the sake of being cute, I think each move made sense in context.  Too bad no one hit a ball to any of the pitchers in LF. 

Video


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