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Friday, August 05, 2016

Dog Days of Summer

I haven’t had a lot of specific things to write, and we’ve gotten our fair share of threads lately, but I still thought I’d put up a new open post and people can take it whatever direction they’d like.

Some random assorted thoughts…

- How about Javy Baez?  His defense has been even better than I could have imagined.  He’ll make the occasional error, either on a play he tries to force or where someone isn’t expecting him to make the throw, but I could only imagine what his defensive numbers would look like over a full season at any of SS, 2B, or 3B.  He’s easily the Cubs best defender at 2B and 3B (not that Bryant isn’t pretty good, or Zobrist is below average), and I’m sure he’d give Russell a run for his money at SS (IMO, Russell is more solid, and less prone to mistakes, but Baez’s better arm might allow him to make a play or two Russell wouldn’t).  I’ve mentioned before he’s really clubbing lefties, but the most optimistic thing is the K rate has dropped to a level where he should be able to stick in the bigs.

- Here’s the last thing I’ve seen on Soler:

Despite Jorge Soler’s struggles, there’s a chance that the Cubs outfielder could be closer to rejoining his teammates soon.  Soler flew Thursday from Birmingham to Chicago, apparently for an examination. Soler hasn’t played with the Cubs since suffering a left hamstring strain on June 6.  Soler, who has been plagued by a history of hamstring woes, is batting .162 (6-for-37) with 16 strikeouts in 11 games on his minor league rehabilitation assignment.  Soler started his assignment with Triple-A Iowa but was transferred to Double-A Tennessee after two games. He batted .167 (5-for-30) with the Smokies.  The Cubs, who left for the Bay Area following a 5-4 win over the Marlins on Wednesday, currently are carrying nine relievers.

When Hammel comes back from bereavement leave, either Grimm or Patton go back down.  The other could go for Soler, but since Cahill has been starting in AAA I’m assuming he’ll make a spot start or two soon, so that would mean someone else has to go for Soler.  I already think the Cubs made a mistake by keeping Coghlan over LaStella (who was rightfully upset about his demotion*), so I’m not sure they’d DFA Coghlan for Soler.  One of the catchers could go on the DL (or Contreras could be demoted), or Soler could just be assigned to AAA until his bat rebounds (I think this is the option I’d pick for now).

Tommy Birch ‏@TommyBirch 16h16 hours ago
I’m told Tommy La Stella has not yet reported to the Iowa #Cubs. Told yesterday he was given extra time by Chicago. How much unknown. #MiLB

- The pitching has rebounded nicely:

Christopher Kamka ‏@ckamka Aug 3
#Cubs starters
19 games before All-Star break: 6.12 ERA, 100.0 IP, 26 HR
19 games since All-Star break:  2.73 ERA, 118.2 IP, 12 HR

Good to see the rest doing them some good. 

- At some point in the near future (or maybe even in this thread), I’ll write up my ideal 25 man roster for the playoffs.  Might as well start thinking about those last few spots, as I’m sure Joe is already.

- Lastly, it’s nice to hear that Almora is doing well since his demotion.  It’s not likely, but there’s a slim chance he could be on the playoff roster at some point (it would likely take an injury), so it’s good he got some experience).

Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 05, 2016 at 10:54 AM | 104 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 05, 2016 at 11:36 AM (#5279340)
Playoff roster as of today

LOCKS - 16:
SP (4): Arrieta, Lester, Hendricks, Lackey
RP (4): Chapman, Rondon, Strop, Wood
Lineup (6): Rizzo, Bryant, Zobrist, Russell, Fowler, Heyward
Bench (2): Ross, Baez

MORE THAN LIKELY (aka, I'd be surprised if they didn't make it):
Contreras - hopefully as starting C, but also could be starting LF.
Szczur - 4th OF and first righty PH
Edwards - he looks like the next guy in the pen, and I'd be disappointed if he missed out. Of course, if he struggles between now and then, it'd be less shocking
Hammel - I could see the argument for leaving him off, but at this point, he's clearly ahead of Cahill as the long man out of the pen. His 2nd half has been better, but could easily bomb his way off the team still.
LaStella - even with him being demoted, his versatility is better than Coghlan, and quite frankly, so is his bat. He'll be the first LH PH.

That leaves 4 spots that can go a number of ways. There'll be at least one more reliever, and as many as 3 (though 2 is the ideal number, IMO). Montgomery and Smith might appear to have the upper hand, but there's a way to go for them to prove it. Grimm is the next most likely, and then Cahill. I'll say we'll see 2 of those 4 for sure, just not sure which yet. Today, I think I'd pick Montgomery and Grimm, but that will change.

Joe probably will have Montero on the roster too, and he very well may be the starting C (and I will complain about that). I think Ross is a lock, since he'll catch Lester, and his bat deserves to go over Montero. That leaves one more spot, and the bench is pretty lefty leaning, so the door is wide open for Soler. I'm not taking Coghlan, but as of today, I think Joe would pick him. If Contreras is catching fulltime by then, I'd take Coghlan over Montero.
   2. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 05, 2016 at 12:17 PM (#5279366)
- The pitching has rebounded nicely:

Christopher Kamka ‏@ckamka Aug 3
#Cubs starters
19 games before All-Star break: 6.12 ERA, 100.0 IP, 26 HR
19 games since All-Star break: 2.73 ERA, 118.2 IP, 12 HR

Good to see the rest doing them some good.


The "sixth starter" thing is a great example of Maddon's thinking outside the box. Cub starters still haven't missed a start this season, and Maddon is obviously very focused on keeping them healthy and fresh.
   3. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 05, 2016 at 12:29 PM (#5279377)
What the Jays are doing with Sanchez and a 6 man rotation is smart too, but much harder to do in their situation. The Cubs have the benefit of a significant division lead, even if that shouldn't empower them to start more Matsuz types. I suspect Cahill will do ok, if not great, in his start or two.

Once the Cubs had the makeup game scheduled to make them play 24 games in 24 days, perhaps they should have done the 6th starter thing even earlier.
   4. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 05, 2016 at 01:33 PM (#5279407)
Some of these quotes on Contreras's catching make me smile.
   5. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 05, 2016 at 05:21 PM (#5279550)
Soler is in the lineup at DH tonight. I haven't seen what the roster move is yet...
   6. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 05, 2016 at 05:23 PM (#5279551)
I also realize now I made a mistake earlier, as Patton already was sent back to Iowa (when Smith was added).
   7. Jerry Mumphrey Posted: August 05, 2016 at 05:44 PM (#5279557)
Joe Nathan has 4Ks in 2 IP. They should use him more.
   8. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 05, 2016 at 05:50 PM (#5279561)
About that...Cubs DFA'd him to make room for Soler.

I totally forgot about Nathan in my post. And well, sounds like I wasn't wrong to.
   9. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 05, 2016 at 06:09 PM (#5279571)
Let me see if I can put together a 25-man roster. Note: this is what I would do, not what I think the Cubs will do (and, to the extent they put together a different roster, I probably wouldn't be inclined to say they're wrong):

Starting lineup

C - Willson Contreras
1B - Anthony Rizzo
2B - Javier Baez
SS - Addison Russell
3B - Kris Bryant
LF - Ben Zobrist
CF - Dexter Fowler
RF - Jason Heyward

Reserves

C - Miguel Montero, David Ross
IF - Tommy LaStella
OF - Jorge Soler, Albert Almora, Matt Szczur

Pitchers

Starters - Arrieta, Lester, Hendricks, Lackey
Swingman - Hammel
Relievers - Chapman, Rondon, Strop, Wood, Edwards, Montgomery, Smith

So close: that's 26. I would probably drop one of Montgomery or Smith based entirely on how they do over the last two months of the season. I guess I'd give the tie to Montgomery because he's a lefty. I could also see reasonable arguments for dropping any of Montero, Hammel (or Lackey - Hammel has actually had a better season than Lackey so far), Almora, or Szczur (I would prefer Almora over Szczur if I had to choose for his defense; but I'd rather not choose and just take them both). And, of course, injuries could solve this too.

I kind of get the idea that LaStella still has options and Coghlan doesn't, but come playoff time, I don't see how you can fit Coghlan onto a 25-man roster if everybody's healthy, and I don't see how you could make a plausible argument that Coghlan is a better fit there than LaStella.
   10. Red Voodooin Posted: August 06, 2016 at 12:25 PM (#5279767)
I kind of get the idea that LaStella still has options


So apparently La Stella still has not reported to Iowa, has given no indication if or when he will, and apparently the Cubs are okay with this, though everyone is being pretty tight lipped about it, with Maddon noting that he "isn't ready to play yet" but indicating that he is taking batting practice and "staying active."

Weird situation. I'm not sure I can recall a time when a optioned player refused to report and the club didn't seem to mind (at least publicly). EDIT: I suppose its happening again as we speak, with the Dodgers/Puig.

It's easy to say that the Cubs' roster crunch situation is a a "good problem to have" but at the same time having 27 or 28 demonstrably capable major leaguers and only 25 roster slots for them could be an issue that causes rifts and chemistry concerns in the clubhouse...

And it only gets trickier with Hammel due back from the bereavement list any day now and Cahill ready to return next week (likely to take a start in the Cubs' doubleheader vs. Milwaukee on August 16).

The good news is that Almora has taken his demotion in stride, and is smacking the ball around hard in AAA since being sent down.
   11. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 06, 2016 at 01:50 PM (#5279791)
And it only gets trickier with Hammel due back from the bereavement list any day now


Not if his other grandmother just happens to have some well-timed misfortune...
   12. Brian C Posted: August 07, 2016 at 08:49 PM (#5280312)
In other roster news, Clayton Richard was officially released by the Cubs the other day and he subsequently signed with the Padres. So he becomes the third player from the Cubs opening day active roster to leave the organization during the season, after Neil Ramirez was lost on waivers and Adam Warren was dealt in the Chapman trade.
   13. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 07, 2016 at 08:57 PM (#5280313)
Cahill ready to return next week ... [and] likely to take a start in the Cubs' doubleheader vs. Milwaukee on August 16


I think teams get a 26th man for doubleheaders, which would solve the Cahill issue for that game. Although I assume Cahill is out of options, so that probably just delays the roster crunch by a day if they can't just immediately send Cahill back to Iowa after his start.
   14. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 08, 2016 at 05:08 PM (#5280777)
So my questions about your roster, Kiko, revolve around Soler. Since you're keeping Montero and Ross, you'd just have Contreras in LF? Because there's no reason to keep Montero is Contreras is catching; he's an even worse PH option than Coghlan, if only that you'd have to immediately PR for him in the miraculous chance he gets on base. I had said they could keep Almora before, but if Soler is back I'd much rather have the bat than another defensive replacement (Almora is a decent baserunner, but he's not really fast so that you'd use him as a PR).

---

Predictions: Grimm goes when Cahill comes back; Cahill starts at least one other time besides the DH. We don't see TLS until 9/1, unless there's a random DL stint for Montero or Heyward (this wouldn't be a crazy idea; give him time off the rest and clear his head).
   15. Walt Davis Posted: August 11, 2016 at 02:13 AM (#5282439)
I have to remind myself that Gonfalon Cubs is back up and running. I'm probably too late for this thread but if it's sufficiently brilliant I can copy over to the next one ...

Interesting/odd/unavoidable things: Montgomery hasn't pitched since July 31. Coghlan has 1 PA since Aug 2.

25-man playoff roster (at least for NL series): Assuming only 4 SP (even if the 5th takes a bullpen spot) allows a 12-man playoff staff, I assume they'll carry all 3 Cs. But it's otherwise hard to make a case for Montero. But mostly an embarrassment of riches and I'm not sure which SP to boot. (I'll boot Hammel since I have the least faith in him but that's not a strong case.)

Cs: Contreras, Ross, Montero
IF: Rizzo, Baez, Zobrist, Russell, Bryant
OF: Fowler, Heyward
bench: LaStella, Soler, Szczur

I know LaStella's up in the air in which case it will be Coghlan. I can also see a case for Almora over Szczur as I think he's the better defender. At this point I'm hoping we don't see any Montero starts. If Joe wants 13 pitchers, I'd probably drop Montero but will guess that he would drop LaStella/Coghlan. At this point, I don't think there's any clear choice for who that 13th pitcher would be.

SP: Arrieta, Lester, Hendricks, Lackey
RP: Chapman, Rondon, Strop, Wood, Edwards**, Hammel, Montgomery, Smith

Top "fear" -- probably that Joe will push the SPs too deep into the playoff games when, with that pen, I don't think we need them to go more than 6 and I'd be pretty comfy with some combo of Edwards, Wood, Smith getting us through the 6th. #2 fear is that the offense will struggle against post-season pitching. We know they K a lot, they haven't done a great job of stringing together hits lately, Heyward and Russell are highly susceptible to LHP, etc. Obviously I'm not looking forward to Montero starts.

I don't mean to pick on Montero. I don't have a problem with him taking starts down the stretch. But come playoff time I think he'll be too much of a liability to give playing time.

Just noticed this -- offenses from likely playoff teams, K%:

Mets 22.5% (not so likely at the moment)
Cubs 21.8
Pitt 21.6 (not too likely)
LAD 20.9
StL 20.2
Mia 19.7
WSN 19.7
SFG 17.7

Other than the Giants, those gaps aren't massive (1-2 Ks every 2.5 games) but it's interesting that the most likely opponents at the bottom are 5 of the best 6 in the NL (Atlanta the other). LAD, WSN, Cubs, Mets, Mia are also the top 5 among pitching teams (Giants 7, Cards 10, Pitt 12) and those gaps are bigger.

** I have the benefit of writing after the 2nd Angels game when he shut them down with 2nd and 3rd nobody out and Joe is singing his praises. Barring a meltdown between now and then, I think he cinched it today.

   16. Charles S. is not doing chainsaw bears any more Posted: August 11, 2016 at 09:54 AM (#5282515)
RP: Chapman, Rondon, Strop, Wood, Edwards**, Hammel, Montgomery, Smith


I'm afraid you might have to take Strop off that list. They're doing an MRI today, but from the stands that looked an awful lot like a torn ACL. He felt pain, started to walk a little and realized he couldn't use his leg. We've all seen enough ACL injuries to know that's how it usually looks. Obviously, I hope I'm wrong and he just twisted something or has a less serious tear, but I'm not not feeling good right now. It's now very important that Rondon's triceps soreness is nothing more than that.
   17. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 11, 2016 at 11:06 AM (#5282589)
I have to remind myself that Gonfalon Cubs is back up and running. I'm probably too late for this thread but if it's sufficiently brilliant I can copy over to the next one ...

These threads are timeless, no such things as too late.

Top "fear" -- probably that Joe will push the SPs too deep into the playoff games when, with that pen, I don't think we need them to go more than 6

I think* Joe pulled the starters pretty quick last year in the playoffs - he had a really quick hook with Hammel and Hendricks. Arrieta went all 9 in the WC game, and he might have left him in too long in the other starts (hard not to, considering the run Jake had been on).

*I'm not looking, but I could be proven wrong.

I have the benefit of writing after the 2nd Angels game when he shut them down with 2nd and 3rd nobody out and Joe is singing his praises. Barring a meltdown between now and then, I think he cinched it today.

I agree; since I wrote this, Edwards has been great and I really do think he's a lock now.

I know LaStella's up in the air in which case it will be Coghlan. I can also see a case for Almora over Szczur as I think he's the better defender. At this point I'm hoping we don't see any Montero starts. If Joe wants 13 pitchers, I'd probably drop Montero but will guess that he would drop LaStella/Coghlan. At this point, I don't think there's any clear choice for who that 13th pitcher would be.

You really can't take Montero over Coghlan or TLS (pending) and Almora over Szczur; you need PHers.
   18. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 11, 2016 at 11:39 AM (#5282621)
I could watch Javy defense highlights all day. Calling this tag porn is also appropriate.
   19. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: August 11, 2016 at 12:56 PM (#5282670)
Whoever it is that has managed to hide Jason Hammel's calendar and convince him it's still April really needs to get a nice tip of the cap.

Something's gotta change in the next 6 weeks, I'm sure -- but at this point, I really struggle to figure out how you end up with a four man rotation... I figured Hendricks had nudged himself in ahead of Hammel, but Hammel has been dynamite in his last 5 - matching him almost start for start.

Sucks on Strop - and yeah, I fear we might well be missing him from here on out... I guess it makes the Chapman trade go down all that much easier.

Edwards, though, is the real deal. I feel plenty of confidence when he comes in and have no problem tossing him into any situation.

   20. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: August 11, 2016 at 01:05 PM (#5282680)
You really can't take Montero over Coghlan or TLS (pending) and Almora over Szczur; you need PHers.


I feel pretty confidant Joe is gonna take three catchers, unfortunately... Though, I suppose there might be hope - Monterrible has played just one game in the last week.

   21. Red Voodooin Posted: August 11, 2016 at 02:28 PM (#5282754)
Nobody seems to think Cahill is going to make post-season roster, assuming he's healthy? I gotta think he'd be ahead of Montgomery/Smith in the pecking order just based on his performance this year and last, right?
   22. Charles S. is not doing chainsaw bears any more Posted: August 11, 2016 at 02:56 PM (#5282784)
What would Cahill's roll be? The non-starting starter (Hammel?) would be the long man. Smith stays because Joe like his "funk". Montgomery hasn't showed me anything, but they liked him enough to acquire him, and he's left-handed. Chapman, Rondon, Edwards, Grimm, Smith, Wood, Montgomery and Hammel make for a pretty decent 8-man bullpen. Add to that 3 Cs, 6 IFs (if La Stella comes back) and 4 OFs. If no La Stella, then Candelario might make sense. If only 7 in the pen, that makes room for Almora for late inning defense.
   23. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: August 11, 2016 at 04:07 PM (#5282831)
Cahill's been a bit middling, it seems, as goes through his Iowa stretch-outs to make a start... His last two outings haven't been all that good (his previous one was a gem, though). The K's are there, but he's walking a lot of guys.

I'll say again, though -- if you're gonna bump Hammel, he probably needs to stop matching Hendricks start for start. Of course, I'm not suggesting Hendricks be bumped either - he's been better for longer. Fair bit of baseball left to go - but yeesh... if they're ALL gonna get back to their April/May ways - how do you tell ANY of them they're getting bumped?

Who knows... maybe you say you're just gonna go with your regular 5 until/unless a situation warrants the most rested starter being called upon to relieve.
   24. Red Voodooin Posted: August 12, 2016 at 12:25 AM (#5283204)
Smith stays because Joe like his "funk"


I think there's a greater body of evidence that shows Joe likes Cahill.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: August 12, 2016 at 01:59 AM (#5283209)
you need PHers.

It wouldn't hurt. But we alredy start with at least one of Baez, Soler, Heyward on the bench each game (barring injury) ... but, sure, he probably wouldn't do all three of keeping Montero, dumping LaStella/Coghlan and keeping Almore over Szczur.

That said, while Szczur's been a godsend this year, he's still just a 92 OPS+ career hitter (all of 277 PA) with career AA/AAA lines of (roughly) 270/335/365 in about 1500 PA and that nobody ever expected to hit in the majors. He has done his duty of hitting LHP though (823 OPS in 123 PA). Anyway, I'm not all that confident that Szczur is really a better hitter than Almora so it might make sense to take the defensive upgrade.
   26. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 12, 2016 at 01:56 PM (#5283451)
Nobody seems to think Cahill is going to make post-season roster, assuming he's healthy? I gotta think he'd be ahead of Montgomery/Smith in the pecking order just based on his performance this year and last, right?

I guess it depends on how he pitches when he comes back.

That said, while Szczur's been a godsend this year, he's still just a 92 OPS+ career hitter (all of 277 PA) with career AA/AAA lines of (roughly) 270/335/365 in about 1500 PA and that nobody ever expected to hit in the majors. He has done his duty of hitting LHP though (823 OPS in 123 PA). Anyway, I'm not all that confident that Szczur is really a better hitter than Almora so it might make sense to take the defensive upgrade.

All fair points, even though I'll add it's not exactly a given that Almora will hit even that well at this level.

What it really comes down to for me is I think Montero might just be done (or hurt); his bat has been so bad and his defense really has gone to ####. Maybe he's still great at calling a game, etc.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: August 12, 2016 at 05:57 PM (#5283602)
What it really comes down to for me is I think Montero might just be done (or hurt)

I agree (at least for this season) and so I hope he either doesn't make the playoff roster or we almost never see him. I'm just far from certain that Joe feels the same way and he does like 3 Cs on the roster.
   28. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 15, 2016 at 05:27 PM (#5284769)
I wrote a new post, mostly ######## about the bullpen usage this weekend, but it disappeared and/or never posted. I'm too tired to re-write it. There's also threats of Papelbon, which just seems like a bad idea.

---

As of today, Montero and Heyward have the exact same OPS/OPS+: .622/69. Montero's line of .185/.313/.309 is worse than Heyward's .227/.307/.314 mostly because of how slow Montero is, IMO. Both lines are worse than any other batter who's played with the Cubs this year, except for Federowicz (and limited ABs from Schwarber and Candelario). Heyward and Montero are the 2nd and 4th highest paid players on the team this year and are 4th and 8th in PAs. What a world.
   29. Red Voodooin Posted: August 15, 2016 at 06:02 PM (#5284786)
but it disappeared and/or never posted


Damn, that's almost as frustrating as Joe's bullpen management these last few days.
   30. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 15, 2016 at 09:17 PM (#5284855)
I wrote a new post, mostly ######## about the bullpen usage this weekend,


Between that and the three-catcher fetish, Maddon's reputation as an "evolved thinker" is coming into question.
   31. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 16, 2016 at 10:28 AM (#5285017)
Damn, that's almost as frustrating as Joe's bullpen management these last few days.

Just like the pen though, the post sucked and it has no bearing on any posting I'll be doing in October.

Between that and the three-catcher fetish, Maddon's reputation as an "evolved thinker" is coming into question.

And this is going a step or ten too far. Now, if Federowicz Montero is on the October roster, you might be closer to a point.

Maybe my biggest pet peeve with how people can use sabermetrics is that idea of a binary "right" or "wrong" when it comes to in game managing. Some things are more or less wrong, and regardless of the result. I'd bet the list of managers that do things "right" more often than Maddon is pretty damn small, and definitely doesn't include other guys who win a lot of games like Matheny and Baker. I'm also personally willing to cut a lot more slack for in season decisions - where there's a lot more noise and stuff we really don't know about - than the playoffs. I don't think you or anyone can make a convincing case that Maddon's decision making over the last year and a half in season, especially the more questionable stuff, has cost the Cubs anything of significance (or could close close to outweighing the good decisions). I mean, what do people want out of the manager?
   32. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: August 16, 2016 at 10:42 AM (#5285029)
As of today, Montero and Heyward have the exact same OPS/OPS+: .622/69. Montero's line of .185/.313/.309 is worse than Heyward's .227/.307/.314 mostly because of how slow Montero is, IMO. Both lines are worse than any other batter who's played with the Cubs this year, except for Federowicz (and limited ABs from Schwarber and Candelario). Heyward and Montero are the 2nd and 4th highest paid players on the team this year and are 4th and 8th in PAs. What a world.


This is probably the most frustrating thing in my mind right now.

Obviously, we're into mid-August -- so it's pretty clear that we can stop waiting for Heyward to turn things around offensively... It's a lost season, at least at the plate. He's obviously talented enough that even finishing with such an awful stat line -- there's always hope and possibility that he suddenly finds it in September and/or October... and obviously, if he suddenly posts a monster couple playoff series, no one will care if he hit like Neifi Perez in the regular season.

I think it's remarkable that even WITH his struggles - the Cubs are still 2nd in R/PG, 1st in OBP, 1st in OPS+, etc, etc... Could you imagine this team's production if he had managed even a middling season rather than a gawd awful one?

I'm not sure what the issue is with him... but I certainly hope Mallee/Hinske can get him straightened out.
   33. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 16, 2016 at 11:15 AM (#5285051)
And this is going a step or ten too far.


Yeah, you're probably right, but I was exaggerating out of legitimate frustration.

Maybe my biggest pet peeve with how people can use sabermetrics is that idea of a binary "right" or "wrong" when it comes to in game managing. Some things are more or less wrong, and regardless of the result.... I mean, what do people want out of the manager?


In this case, to not make the decisions that are more, and more obviously, wrong. I don't think that's too much.
   34. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 16, 2016 at 11:16 AM (#5285052)
Come playoff time, Heyward better be hitting 8th* and Maddon should be willing to PH for him if they're trailing late. I'd say he should sit against a good lefty starter (like Bumgartner) but he's actually hit slightly better against lefties than righties this year** (.640OPS vs .614OPS), so he should probably be the 4th OF at this point in all reality. If Soler keeps hitting at all these next 6 weeks, I'd be very, very tempted to start Soler ahead of him (or Baez at 2nd, with Zobrist in RF if you prefer Soler in LF), then putting Heyward in as a defensive replacement***.

He showed a glimmer of hope in June that maybe he'd be snapping out of it, but nope, didn't take. OPS by month: Mar/Apr: .604, May: .602, June: .722, July: .617, August: .445. I'm at the point where I'm praying - for his sake - it comes out after the season he needs major wrist surgery but he tried to play through it all year and just never wanted to give up on this season. That's the only way I'll feel "good" about this contract.

Obviously I don't have to reiterate my stance that Contreras should be full-time catcher and Montero full-time cheerleader/clubhouse presence from outside the roster.

*I don't feel strongly enough about him hitting before or after Ross during Lester starts.
**He has a very pronounced split in his career vs LHP/RHP: .658OPS/.811OPS).
***Let's go with a lineup of something like Fowler/Bryant/Rizzo/Zobrist/Russell/Soler/Contreras/Baez w/o Heyward and Fowler/Bryant/Rizzo/Zobrist/Russell/Contreras/Baez/Heyward with.
   35. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: August 16, 2016 at 11:56 AM (#5285083)
It's nearly reached the point that I can write "4-3" in my scorecard before Heyward comes to the plate.

FWIW, he is actually hitting .303/.365/.434 as a CF this year, not that I want Fowler out of the lineup.
   36. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 16, 2016 at 12:04 PM (#5285087)
Ugh, for G1 of today's DH the lineup 6-8 goes Coghlan, Heyward, Montero. Ugh.
   37. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 16, 2016 at 05:08 PM (#5285324)
Christopher Kamka ‏@ckamka 1h1 hour ago
#Cubs starting pitching since All-Star break (29 games)
2.17 ERA, 186.1 IP, 130 Hits, 165 K, 0.955 WHIP


Maddon doesn't think the Cubs are chasing Papelbon. And rumblings about Lackey's next start (maybe a DL trip to help stave off roster crunch, with Cahill getting another start or two).
   38. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 16, 2016 at 05:16 PM (#5285331)
And rumblings about Lackey's next start (maybe a DL trip to help stave off roster crunch, with Cahill getting another start or two).


That's probably not a bad idea. I was thinking, alternately, maybe use a 6-man rotation w/ Cahill for the rest of the season to keep everybody fresh.

Going back to my #9, Smith seems to have worked his way off the playoff roster. And I agree w/ the general consensus that Montero isn't much good there either. Which suddenly leaves my roster in #9 with an open slot for either Coghlan (who's done nothing to show me he deserves it) or Cahill (who probably isn't strictly needed if the Cubs put all 5 starters on the roster, but only actually start 4 of them).

I also like the idea of a Soler-Fowler-Zobrist starting OF in the playoffs w/ Baez at 2B and Contreras at C. That'd be pretty ballsy, but if any manager would/could do it, it'd be Maddon.
   39. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: August 16, 2016 at 05:33 PM (#5285339)
I'm increasingly liking contreras defensively. He's very athletic back there and from my naive, untrained eye - looks like he's a plus with the standard skills too
   40. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 16, 2016 at 05:35 PM (#5285341)
I was thinking, alternately, maybe use a 6-man rotation w/ Cahill for the rest of the season to keep everybody fresh.

I like this idea too, but someone has to go from the next 15 days to keep the roster at 25. I'm fine with a Montero or Heyward DL stint, in addition to the Lackey DL option. Otherwise Grimm or Edwards head back to AAA for a few weeks, and I'd rather they both stick around to continue getting chances at tight situations.

They could DL or DFA Smith, I guess. Montgomery seems to be coming around some.
   41. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 16, 2016 at 05:44 PM (#5285345)
I'm increasingly liking contreras defensively. He's very athletic back there and from my naive, untrained eye - looks like he's a plus with the standard skills too

That's been the book on him. The Cubs "concerns" were about game management and pitch framing. Haven't really read much on that, beyond the standard comments from guys like Hendricks talking about how well Contreras is doing.
   42. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 16, 2016 at 05:58 PM (#5285357)
I'm less concerned about Papelbon being an ####### than I am about the fact he's not as good as Justin Grimm.
   43. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 16, 2016 at 06:08 PM (#5285364)
I also like the idea of a Soler-Fowler-Zobrist starting OF in the playoffs w/ Baez at 2B and Contreras at C.


Amen to that, if Soler keeps hitting.

FWIW, he is actually hitting .303/.365/.434 as a CF this year, not that I want Fowler out of the lineup.


Jeez, if there really is causality there (color me skeptical), just switch Fowler to RF.
   44. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 16, 2016 at 06:09 PM (#5285368)
I'm less concerned about Papelbon being an ####### than I am about the fact he's not as good as Justin Grimm.


Can't we be concerned about both his buttholery and his lack of skill?
   45. Red Voodooin Posted: August 17, 2016 at 01:45 PM (#5285929)
Apparently Tommy La Stella has overcome the blues and blahs and is prepared to report to his minor league assignment (which evidently will be AA Tennessee rather than AAA Iowa).
   46. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 17, 2016 at 01:54 PM (#5285942)
That good. He has a couple of weeks to get back to form, and comes up on 9/1.
   47. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: August 17, 2016 at 02:03 PM (#5285955)
I'm less concerned about Papelbon being an ####### than I am about the fact he's not as good as Justin Grimm.


I hadn't realized it -- until JD/Len mentioned it on the broadcast -- but sure enough, after a truly awful stretch in late May/early June, Grimm was/is actually back to being quite good.

Limited time with all the Iowa yo-yoing, and I'm not as adept with PI to do the actual dates -- but just using his July/August splits: 11 IP, 4 hits, 2 BBs, 14 Ks (and no runs).

The spread JD/Len mentioned went back to late June... but whatever his problem was, he certainly seemed to have gotten it straightened out.
   48. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 17, 2016 at 03:15 PM (#5286009)
Mark Gonzales ‏@MDGonzales 15m15 minutes ago
La Stella batting 2nd, playing 2nd base for Double-A Tennessee tonight
   49. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 17, 2016 at 03:30 PM (#5286025)
Mark Gonzales ‏@MDGonzales 5s5 seconds ago
Smith to DL (left hamstring strain) confirmed report by @mlbdepthcharts


The roster crunch is solved, the logical way. The shittiest pitcher has come down with a case of diagnosed sucking.
   50. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: August 17, 2016 at 03:37 PM (#5286032)
I have to admit that I hoped (still hold out a weeee bit of hope) that Smith can right the ship... I did actually agree with Joe (Maddon) that Smith gives the pen a nice change of pace. In Rondon, Chapman, and Strop (when he's back) - you've got three guys that really bring the straight-up heat, perhaps with some nasty sliders tossed in for good measure. I was really hoping the sidewheeling Smith with his more sinker-based repertoire could serve as a nice change of pace.

Looks like it's not to be...
   51. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 17, 2016 at 03:43 PM (#5286038)
In Rondon, Chapman, and Strop (when he's back) - you've got three guys that really bring the straight-up heat, perhaps with some nasty sliders tossed in for good measure.

To a lesser extent, Edwards and Grimm fit that description, too. I agree, I understand the thought process. The problem is that Smith wasn't really that good with the Angels, so it's not exactly a surprise he hasn't been good here. If Cahill can keep it up, he had a little bit different of a repertoire.

I haven't seen them say, but I'd predict Cahill sticks in the rotation at least one more turn.
   52. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 17, 2016 at 06:32 PM (#5286152)
@CarrieMuskat: #Cubs pitching vs Rockies will be Hendricks, Montgomery and Hammel


...Huh?
   53. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 17, 2016 at 06:45 PM (#5286157)
@CSNMooney: #Cubs putting Chris Coghlan (rib contusion) on DL and adding Spencer Patton to bullpen.
   54. Red Voodooin Posted: August 17, 2016 at 11:45 PM (#5286252)
In Rondon, Chapman, and Strop (when he's back) - you've got three guys that really bring the straight-up heat, perhaps with some nasty sliders tossed in for good measure. I was really hoping the sidewheeling Smith with his more sinker-based repertoire could serve as a nice change of pace.


As far as the October pen goes the guy with the sinker-based repertoire that can serve as the nice change of pace is Trevor Cahill. He may not be sidewheeling like Smith, but that is counterbalanced pretty nicely by the fact unlike Smith, Cahill is not terrible.
   55. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: August 18, 2016 at 09:11 AM (#5286300)
Sounds like there's still a possibility Lackey might hit the DL. Cubs haven't decided on an MRI yet -- but this is one of those situations where I'm not sure what the downside of spending a few bucks on one is.

Either someone needs to stop pitching like Walter Johnson or an injury like this may well be the only reasonable way to get the rotation down from 5.

I have no problem with going with the straight 5 -- the downside, though, is that it leaves you short somewhere compared to the standard playoff roster (i.e., either you have one less bullpen arm or one less bench guy). I suppose they COULD go with the straight 5 man and just make it clear to the SPs that if an extra top arm is needed, whoever is most rested might find themselves throwing in relief.
   56. Norcan Posted: August 18, 2016 at 10:04 AM (#5286333)
Soler has really turned it on since coming off the DL. I find it interesting to track his swing changes. All of last season until the playoffs, he had a very wide open stance and then closed off at the last moment into a tiptoe. In the playoffs, he had the same stance but incorporated a leg kick to fantastic success. Come spring training and into the new season, his stance had become neutral and he switch between a tiptoe and a leg kick seemingly at random. Ever since he's come back, his stance has opened up again but only slightly, not as wide as before and he's back full time to a tip toe. Earlier in the year he was fouling off hittable pitches that he used to hammer; he's not missing those chances anymore.
   57. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 18, 2016 at 11:15 AM (#5286387)
Contreras is catching Arrieta today for the first time. That's a good sign! In fact, the lineup is pretty much what I was hoping for come playoff time (save Szczur starting for Fowler): Szczur/Bryant/Rizzo/Zobrist(RF)/Russell/Soler/Contreras/Baez.
   58. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 18, 2016 at 11:25 AM (#5286393)
the downside, though, is that it leaves you short somewhere compared to the standard playoff roster (i.e., either you have one less bullpen arm or one less bench guy)


It doesn't necessarily leave you a literal player short, if you were going to take the 5th starter to use as your long man anyway. And that could still potentially work. With travel days, I think it would basically always work out if you're using a 5-man rotation that the scheduled starter for your next game is fully rested and could be used as a long man if needed and the rest of the rotation could just slide up a day. So, if your playoff rotation is Arrieta-Lester-Hendricks-Hammel-Lackey, if Arrieta gets knocked out in the 2nd inning, you bring in Lester and adjust your rotation for the remainder of the series to be Hendricks-Hammel-Lackey.

I don't know how much that kind of thing might screw up the routine for your starting pitchers. But given how well the Cubs' starting pitchers have performed all of the season (except for the 3 weeks before the All-Star break), I'm not sure how much the Cubs are likely to even need a long reliever (barring injury - in which case the 4-man/5-man rotation question answers itself, of course).
   59. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: August 18, 2016 at 11:48 AM (#5286406)
It doesn't necessarily leave you a literal player short, if you were going to take the 5th starter to use as your long man anyway. And that could still potentially work. With travel days, I think it would basically always work out if you're using a 5-man rotation that the scheduled starter for your next game is fully rested and could be used as a long man if needed and the rest of the rotation could just slide up a day. So, if your playoff rotation is Arrieta-Lester-Hendricks-Hammel-Lackey, if Arrieta gets knocked out in the 2nd inning, you bring in Lester and adjust your rotation for the remainder of the series to be Hendricks-Hammel-Lackey.

I don't know how much that kind of thing might screw up the routine for your starting pitchers. But given how well the Cubs' starting pitchers have performed all of the season (except for the 3 weeks before the All-Star break), I'm not sure how much the Cubs are likely to even need a long reliever (barring injury - in which case the 4-man/5-man rotation question answers itself, of course).


Sure - though, on the margins -- teams usually tend to lose the 5th starter in favor of another position player (not one for one -- but moving the SP into the pen and dropping the last reliever).

I suppose the Cubs have the luxury of the great versatility of Bryant, Zobrist, Contreras, and Baez to make the "last man" less meaningful...

I'm kinda changing my mind on Monterrible... not because he's stopped being terrible, but more because maybe it's slightly worthwhile to be able to PR in a tight, late situation and have him around to catch a few random late innings in a "break glass" case. That may be me just resigning myself to him being on the roster and trying to make the best of it, though.

The playoff roster margins are sure to be interesting, though... You could almost a flip a coin - next 6 weeks yet to occur, of course - on the last bat and the last reliever.
   60. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 18, 2016 at 12:22 PM (#5286418)
I understand taking a guy because he's fast or a good baserunner. Maybe it's not the *best* use of a roster spot, but I understand that the scenario could come up. Obviously it makes sense to take a guy who can only hit, or only play defense. But to argue for taking a guy because you might pinch run for a different guy, even though that guy can't hit, run, or field his position? You're unnecessarily twisting yourself into knots. You're not gonna PR for Contreras, you might PR for Ross, but he's only gonna catch 1 in 4 (or 5) days. So then you PR/PH Contreras for Ross. Simple.

The logic of 3 catchers during the regular season makes more sense - or maybe I'm just brainwashed into it for the way this team is constructed (and only because one of those guys can play other positions). But if Contreras is the catcher in the playoffs - and if Soler is healthy and hitting, there isn't a need for Willson to play anywhere else - there is zero reason for Montero. Period.

Versatility is great, but doesn't make up for having to PH Montero or Ross in a crucial situation (or worse, Hammel) because you only took 2 real backup bats because you were afraid you'd need a 3rd catcher for an inning after PR for your backup C.

   61. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 18, 2016 at 12:54 PM (#5286453)
@CarrieMuskat: #Cubs pitching vs Rockies will be Hendricks, Montgomery and Hammel


I assume it's the Montgomery part that gets the "huh"? I'm fine with that. While Cahill did a fine job starting the other day I'd like to see what some others might do, especially a lefty. It may well turn out to be a "bullpen day".
   62. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: August 18, 2016 at 01:06 PM (#5286458)
Well, Montgomery was a SP as recently as last year (albeit an awful one).... When you've got a 12 game lead to play with, I suppose you could even let Bos have a day with a project and do a sort of spring training game where his guys get to work on their secondary arsenal.
   63. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 18, 2016 at 01:07 PM (#5286459)
It may well turn out to be a "bullpen day".


I'm not sure Coors Field is the place where you put a planned bullpen day in the middle of your series. Hendricks and Hammel have been great, but there's a non-zero chance that one of them gets BABIP-ed to death in the thin air and doesn't make it out of the third inning. And, in fact, as a sinkerball pitcher, I would think that Cahill would be as well-suited to pitch well at Coors Field as anybody can be.
   64. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 18, 2016 at 01:19 PM (#5286466)
Yeah, it's a huh because Cahill is the one currently stretched out, and Montgomery isn't*. And if Lackey does have to go on the DL, they might want another guy starting anyway. It just seems that he's finally settling in, and he's pretty unlikely to start come playoff times, so it just seems unnecessary.

*Well, Montgomery was a SP as recently as last year

He started twice for the Mariners this year and was in their rotation when the Cubs traded for him.
   65. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 18, 2016 at 01:33 PM (#5286476)
He started twice for the Mariners this year and was in their rotation when the Cubs traded for him.


The Cubs had talked about wanting to acquire a cost-controlled starting pitcher and Chris Bosio has some success helping guys get over the hump and becoming successful pitchers (Exhibit A being Jake Arrieta, of course). It could be that the Cubs acquired Montgomery thinking he fills two roles: (a) he's a lefty reliever this season, who, (b) can transition into a good cost-controlled starting pitcher as early as next season if necessary (in effect, Montgomery replaces Warren in this role).

While I'm not sure I start the experiment in Coors Field, as zonk says, when you have a 12-game lead with a month to go, it's not the worst idea to see if Bosio has had any luck so far with "fixing" Montgomery and/or give everybody a better look at exactly what needs to be fixed over the offseason and in spring training next year.

That said, somebody pointed out that Montgomery has no history of success as a starting pitcher even in the minor leagues, really (you have to go back to 2010 to find an ERA below 4 at any level). But Bosio and Maddon know a hell of a lot more about major-league pitching than I do.
   66. bbmck Posted: August 18, 2016 at 01:44 PM (#5286484)
Starters not finishing the 3rd inning 2011-16 by ballpark:

Fenway Park: 59 (20 Red Sox, 39 Visitor)
Rangers Ballpark in Arlington: 51 (22 Rangers, 29 Visitor)
Skydome: 47 (21 Blue Jays, 26 Visitor)
Yankee Stadium III: 46 (21 Yankees, 25 Visitor)
Jacobs Field: 42 (21 Indians, 21 Visitor)

Target Field: 40 (24 Twins, 16 Visitor)
O.co Coliseum: 37 (14 Athletics, 23 Visitor)
Coors Field: 35 (17 Rockies, 18 Visitor)
Comerica Park: 35 (15 Tigers, 20 Visitor)
Great American Ballpark: 35 (14 Reds, 21 Visitor)

Kaufmann Stadium: 34 (22 Royals, 12 Visitor)
Angel Stadium: 31 (19 Angels, 12 Visitor)
Busch Stadium II: 30 (12 Cardinals, 18 Visitor)
PNC Park: 30 (19 Pirates, 11 Visitor)
Turner Field: 30 (11 Braves, 19 Visitor)

Nationals Park: 29 (6 Nationals, 23 Visitor)
Camden Yards: 28 (13 Orioles, 15 Visitor)
Minute Maid Park: 28 (7 Astros, 21 Visitor)
Safeco Field: 28 (18 Mariners, 10 Visitor)
Wrigley Field: 28 (16 Cubs, 12 Visitor)

Chase Field: 27 (11 D'Backs, 16 Visitor)
Comiskey Park II: 26 (14 White Sox, 12 Visitor)
Tropicana Field: 25 (8 Rays, 17 Visitor)
AT&T Park: 24 (10 Giants, 14 Visitor)
Citizens Bank Park: 24 (11 Phillies, 13 Visitor)

Miller Park: 22 (6 Brewers, 16 Visitor)
Citi Field: 20 (15 Mets, 5 Visitor)
Miami: 20 (Marlins Park: 6 Marlins, 9 Visitor, Dolphin Stadium: 5 Marlins, 0 Visitor)
PetCo Park: 20 (12 Padres, 8 Visitor)
Dodger Stadium: 19 (8 Dodgers, 11 Visitor)

Tigers and White Sox are the only two teams currently in the AL that haven't pulled a starter before 3 IP in Fenway in that time frame. Rick Porcello on Aug 11, 2009 is the last Tigers pitcher to do that and Jeremy Bonderman on July 21, 2003 is the only other Tigers pitcher to do that in the 2000s. Jose Contreras on Aug 24, 2009 is the last White Sox pitcher to do that and Dan Wright on Sept 12, 2003 is the only other White Sox pitcher to do that in the 2000s.
   67. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 18, 2016 at 02:36 PM (#5286521)
I'm not sure Coors Field is the place where you put a planned bullpen day in the middle of your series. Hendricks and Hammel have been great, but there's a non-zero chance that one of them gets BABIP-ed to death in the thin air and doesn't make it out of the third inning. And, in fact, as a sinkerball pitcher, I would think that Cahill would be as well-suited to pitch well at Coors Field as anybody can be.

He doesn't throw a sinker but Montgomery's career GB/FB ratio (1.23) is almost the same as Cahill's (1.24). This is more about Cahill's tendency being exaggerated than Montgomery being a big time GB pitcher. This year, Montgomery's GB rate is higher. Montgomery's career HR rate is lower, certainly helped by playing most of in Seattle.

Anyway, I think it's a perfect time for the sixth starter/bullpen day; with Lackey out it's needed or you have someone pitching on three days rest between now and the 25th. The Cubs could definitely use the sixth guy that day (unless Lackey is ready), plus the Rockies are currently posting "TBA" as the pitcher that day, because it's Tyler Chatwood's turn and he is on the DL. Start Montgomery and bring Cahill in if Arenado's second PA is with men on.
   68. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: August 19, 2016 at 08:31 AM (#5286919)
BTW -

Time to start thinking magic number -- it's 30 as of today.
   69. McCoy Posted: August 19, 2016 at 08:42 AM (#5286923)
And the Cubs are virtually a lock for 100 wins as well. Have to go 23-19 the rest of the way to get to 100 wins. I'd say the Cubs will wind up between 102 to 110 wins.
   70. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: August 19, 2016 at 08:53 AM (#5286929)
I'm excited for October, of course - but I have to admit... I don't want this regular season to end. I wish we had 3 more months of it.
   71. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: August 19, 2016 at 09:12 AM (#5286933)
Since the schedule expanded to 162 games in 1962, the top 5 Cubs seasons are 97, 96, 93, 92, and 90 wins ('08, '84, '89, '69, and '98). A .500 record the rest of the way sets a new 162 game record.

Of course, the Cubs won 100 games 5 times before that, so it still wouldn't be a top 5 season in the franchise history.
   72. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 19, 2016 at 01:52 PM (#5287110)
Rondon and Lackey *both* to the DL. The Montgomery start makes a lot more sense now, as Cahill takes Lackey's spot.

Bruce Levine ‏@MLBBruceLevine now Chicago, IL
Zastryzny and Pena will both pitch out of bullpen
   73. Red Voodooin Posted: August 19, 2016 at 01:56 PM (#5287115)
Since the schedule expanded to 162 games in 1962, the top 5 Cubs seasons are 97, 96, 93, 92, and 90 wins ('08, '84, '89, '69, and '98).


You forgot last year's 97 wins.
   74. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: August 19, 2016 at 02:01 PM (#5287119)
[Rob] Zastryzny, 24, becomes the first pitcher drafted under the Theo Epstein regime to make the Cubs' roster. Zastryzny, a second round pick in the 2003 (sic, 2013) draft, was 7-3 with a 4.33 ERA in 15 appearances at Iowa. Zastrynzy started the season at Double-A Tennessee, where he was 3-2 with a 4.28 ERA in nine starts.

[Felix] Pena, 26, was 3-4 with a 3.41 ERA in 36 appearances for Iowa. Zastryzny and Pena will be used exclusively as relievers.
   75. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: August 19, 2016 at 02:05 PM (#5287122)
You forgot last year's 97 wins.


You're right, I did. I need to wake up more before I post.
   76. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: August 19, 2016 at 02:09 PM (#5287125)
I'm kind of surprised the Cubs aren't giving Zastryzny a start --

He was something of a sleeper 2nd rounder 3-4 years ago -- juco lefty that the Cubs thought might go somewhere. He hasn't lit the minors on fire by any stretch, but is sort of Eric Jokisch Part II (with a bit less command) -- but aside from maybe Ryan Williams, he's perhaps the only guy at Iowa (now that the Pierce Johnson dumpster fire has been banished to the pen) who might have a future at the backend of the rotation.

Felix Pena is another interesting guy -- been in the org forever -- but had a big year (K wise) at Tennessee when he was moved into the rotation. He's pitched out the pen at Iowa this year -- but kept the really nice K rate. I think he's a fireballer if my vague recollection of old Sickels reports is right.

Would be really nice to see the Cubs start pumping out bullpen arms like they were for a brief period in the early aughts/late 90s when it seemed like there was a steady stream of gas pumpers that would come up and show you a bit/put together a nice half season to season and half.

   77. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: August 19, 2016 at 02:11 PM (#5287128)
Plus - if you give Zastryzny a start, then Szczur can PH for him at some point and we can set some kind of Z record.
   78. Dan The Mediocre is one of "the rest" Posted: August 19, 2016 at 02:13 PM (#5287129)
Over the last 180 games, the Cubs are 122-58, which is a 110 win pace. And over the last 162 games they've won 105.
   79. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: August 19, 2016 at 02:17 PM (#5287130)
More Z madness...

Unfortunately, it would appear that Zastryzny is only the 4th player in MLB history with 2 Zs in his name. Szczur was the 3rd.

The first one was pre-WWII Red Billy Zitzman and the 2nd was Lance Zawadzki, who had a brief cup of coffee with the Padres 6 years ago and is apparently still toiling away in the indie leagues
   80. Red Voodooin Posted: August 19, 2016 at 02:27 PM (#5287136)
RiZZo???
   81. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: August 19, 2016 at 02:34 PM (#5287140)
RiZZo???


Ugh.

Clearly, my regex BB-REF searching skills truly suck.

Never mind!
   82. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 19, 2016 at 02:49 PM (#5287148)
Rondon and Lackey *both* to the DL. The Montgomery start makes a lot more sense now, as Cahill takes Lackey's spot.


Hopefully both of these are simply cases of being able to be super-cautious because of the lead. In the case of Lackey, though, I suppose even if it lingers, that just makes the playoff rotation easier to set. But without Rondon and/or Strop, (a) the Cubs bullpen looks like a real potential liability come playoff time, and (b) how good does that Aroldis Chapman deal look now?

I really hope that Rondon and Strop both are healthy enough to make a few appearances in the last two weeks of the regular season to work out the kinks. I'd hate to have to rely on a guy who hasn't pitched in a month to navigate a high-leverage situation in the 7th or 8th inning of a playoff game.
   83. Zonk didn't order a hit on an ambassador Posted: August 19, 2016 at 03:03 PM (#5287161)
Strop - at least - I think the Cubs are expecting back in September with plenty of time to shake the rust off... He's already started throwing -- so he ought to be good to go barring setbacks. The only somewhat mild concern is that Iowa/Tenn wrap up their schedule in not much more than 2 weeks so he may not get a minor league stint to ease back into things. Still -- if you figure he ought to be ready to start facing hitters by the first week of September and barring something that would make even previous Cubs collapses look like child's play -- they ought to have plenty of time to get him back into the swing.

I'm actually a bit more concerned about Rondon... The Cubs are still describing it as a "precautionary" DL stint -- but I have not heard anything about an MRI (would that catch a "triceps" issue?) or anything more definitive. I hope it's just some soreness.

Ditto with Lackey - though, of course - it makes the postseason rotation easier. The Cubs seem to again not be interested in any precautionary MRIs, etc... so...

I cannot imagine this organization looking to save a couple grand at this point - and obviously, we're talking about a different regime than the one that was so laughably bad at diagnosing pitcher injuries a decade+ ago... but, old habits hard to shake.



   84. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 19, 2016 at 03:30 PM (#5287181)
More Z madness...


This team has to be the Killer Zs, right?
   85. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: August 19, 2016 at 03:36 PM (#5287186)
Marc Rzepczynski

there's also 2 other Rizzos

plus more than a few Gonzalez's
   86. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 19, 2016 at 03:38 PM (#5287187)
Piazza
   87. Red Voodooin Posted: August 19, 2016 at 03:58 PM (#5287198)
Kyle Schwarber tells reporters that his rehab is going great, but notes that he "most likely probably not" will be able to return this season.
   88. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 19, 2016 at 04:56 PM (#5287229)
The Cubs have their best run differential since 1935. Not the best as of Aug. 19. Best, period.

They have 42 more games to play.
   89. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: August 19, 2016 at 04:58 PM (#5287230)
It's impressive how Jason Heyward fell apart (re-fell apart?) exactly as the Cubs got things back in gear again.

On July 9, the Cubs dropped their 15th game out of 20. In that game Jason Heyward went three-for-five with a double, giving him seven hits over the last three games for a season-high batting average of .247 - and a likewise season-best OPS of 678.

Since then, the Cubs have gone 25-8, while Heyward’s gone .162/.205/.229 in the 30 games he’s played (27 started). That’s an OPS+ of about 21 or so.
   90. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 19, 2016 at 05:03 PM (#5287233)
It's impressive how Jason Heyward fell apart (re-fell apart?) exactly as the Cubs got things back in gear again.


Maybe they need Heyward to play badly for the team to succeed.
   91. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 19, 2016 at 05:44 PM (#5287247)
I'd say the Cubs will wind up between 102 to 110 wins.

I'll have what you're having, but if the Cubs continue at their current .642 pace the rest of the season, it brings them to a 104 wins. Hard to expect them to maintain their current pace though, considering that they are finishing up a 25-8 stretch, and are headed out on a nine game western road trip. After the bad streak before the All Star Break, the Cubs worked themselves down to a .597 record -- that would be a reasonably optimistic forward projection. 102 wins. I'll take that. 110 wins means going 33-9. Not unprecedented, although after the western trip they are playing teams who have been pretty decent of late, including the Cincinnati Reds, who have gone 19-14 since beating the Cubs two out of three before the All Star Break.
   92. Red Voodooin Posted: August 19, 2016 at 06:10 PM (#5287256)
If the Cubs would have gone 10-10 during their momentary pre-ASB downturn instead of 5-15, they'd be on pace for 110 wins. Ifs and buts are candies and nuts, etc... but that is more in line with their pythag record.

All of this is to say, this team appears to be historically great, regardless of how many wins above 100 they end up achieving.
   93. Walt Davis Posted: August 19, 2016 at 11:17 PM (#5287391)
Over their last 162, the Cubs have been around 102-105 wins pretty much the entire season, with the pythag to match or even exceed that record. There's no particularly strong reason to expect them to fall off their current pace, certainly not by very much.

I've been keeping an eye to see when the run differential went over 200 ... then completely failed to notice that it had happened. They were +53 last year in their final 42 games which would put them at +265 over their last 162. Another way to look at this season is that we're outscoring the opposition by over 50%, still 5 games under our pythag.
   94. Walt Davis Posted: August 19, 2016 at 11:23 PM (#5287393)
The obvious concern now is the health of the staff. What seemed like a nice amount of reliable depth just a week ago now has us calling up Z-boy and Pena and at least one of Montgomery/Cahill in the rotation. 6 weeks to get guys healthy of course but no guarantee they get healthy or that more guys don't go down.

It also makes those late innings more nail-biting. Edwards/Grimm/Patton across the 7th-8th is not quite as confidence-inspiring as Rondon/Strop. In a strict baseball sense, the Chapman trade is looking better.
   95. Howie Menckel Posted: August 19, 2016 at 11:33 PM (#5287396)
"Over the last 180 games, the Cubs are 122-58, which is a 110 win pace. And over the last 162 games they've won 105."

in the regular season
   96. Red Voodooin Posted: August 20, 2016 at 02:49 PM (#5287543)
Jason Heyward to sit on the pine all weekend according to Maddon.

Good.
   97. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 20, 2016 at 03:07 PM (#5287545)
"And over the last 162 games they've won 105."

in the regular season


104 including last year's playoffs (162 regular-season games takes them back to a stretch in late August of last year when they lost 4 straight and 6 of 8 - the 104 of last 162 including playoffs was true both before and after last night's loss in Colorado)
   98. McCoy Posted: August 21, 2016 at 08:44 AM (#5287689)
Did not realize until just now that Jason Hammel has not given up a run in his last 3 starts and that he has a 22 inning streak going. Incredible.

Up until Lackey's DL placement the Cubs had an outside shot of getting 5 starting pitchers with 15 wins or more. The somewhat rare 5 guys with 13 or 12 wins is probably out of the question as well.

Kind of odd that this year's team is going to have a such a great runs allowed number and yet their "stud" pitcher is going to be Kyle Hendricks.
   99. Walt Davis Posted: August 23, 2016 at 01:22 AM (#5288578)
in the regular season

Something you've brought up before. The Cubs went 4-5 in the postseason last year. Including the post-season won't have any substantial effect on the Cubs record in the last 162 games.

For example, in their last 162 regular season games, the Mets are a whopping 84-78; in their last 162 including the post-season they are 83-79. See how that works.

The Cubs in their last 162 regular season are 103-59. In their last 162 including the postseason, they are 104-58.
   100. Charles S. is not doing chainsaw bears any more Posted: August 23, 2016 at 10:24 AM (#5288645)
He was something of a sleeper 2nd rounder 3-4 years ago -- juco lefty that the Cubs thought might go somewhere.


While an easy mistake to make because most of the students are probably Cardinals fans, I don't think our Mizzou friends would appreciate their alma mater being called a juco.
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