View From The Bleachers

July 25, 2016

Organizational Recap: Chapman Coming?

Filed under: Featured,General — Joe Aiello @ 6:56 am

Cubs 6 @ Brewers 5 (Box Score)

CHAPMAN RUMORS – We heard late last night massive talk that the Cubs are close to a deal with the Yankees and that it’s basically done. It’s hard to comment on it when we truly do not know all the details and I hate commenting on rumors, so I will say this. If the Cubs move Gleyber Torres and it brings Aroldis Chapman back and it helps us win the World Series, I’m good. At this point I’m ready to win a World Series. Is Torres a high price of a piece? Of course, but sometimes you have to push the chips in and go for it, especially when you have an embarrassment of riches.

SERIES WIN – We took care of business this weekend, thought we made it difficult on Sunday to win the series. In the end, we won the series and that’s the key. Just keep winning series. This week, with the split with the White Sox, let’s focus on taking 3 of 4. Just keep winning series and this will be a fun second half.

NEW TOYS – We got to see Mike Montgomery and Joe Nathan, Joe’s new toys, pitch this weekend. Montgomery got into the game on Saturday and Nathan on Sunday. What were your thoughts? While Nathan got into trouble early, I was very impressed that he hung in there and struck out the side to get out of it.


PERFORMANCES OF NOTE

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July 23, 2016

Organizational Recap – The Brewers Are Bad

Filed under: Featured,General — Joe Aiello @ 6:55 am

Cubs 5 @ Brewers 2 (Box Score)

  • AM I OLD? – I spent my Friday night excited after a day off from baseball ready to sit on the couch and watch Cubs and Brewers in July. Am I a loser?
  • WELCOME BACK – Dexter Fowler came back from his DL stint, was told to monitor things and check in to prevent re injury risks, and promptly decided to go off, finishing the day a triple shy of the cycle. I forgot how nice it is to have him back at the top of the lineup.
  • BAD NEWS BREWERS – I thought this one was going to be a laugher after the first couple innings. The Brewers looked like a minor league team out there the way they threw the ball away and booted things. It wasn’t pretty, and then they settled down. I can’t imagine how frustrating it is to be a Brewers fan right now. Oh wait, yes I can. We recently lived it and have been living it all our lives as Cub fans.
  • I LOVE THAT ARM, BUT SIMMER DOWN – If you missed it, Willson Contreras unloaded a throw from left field to the plate that started almost at the warning track and made it to the plate on a fly. It was an ill advised throw in the situation, but boy was it a thing of beauty to watch how strong his arm is.

PERFORMANCES OF NOTE

  • AA – Chris Coghlan (LF) – 1 for 3 in a rehab start
  • AA – Jack Leathersich (MR) – 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 K – First outing since coming from Arizona League
  • A-Adv – Charcer Burks (LF) – 3 for 5, 2 2B, RBI
  • A-Adv – David Bote (2B) – 3 for 4, 2 R
  • SS – Chris Pieters (LF) – 3 for 5, 2 RBI
  • SS – Jesus Castillo (SP) – 5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K

HIGHLIGHTS

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July 21, 2016

GirlieView (07/21/2016)

Filed under: Featured,General — Lizzie @ 1:00 pm

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely, and/or interesting quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’er: The person with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks.)
  • Top 10 of the 2016 Season = The folks with the most aggregate Lizzie points YTD (1 point for every Lizzie, 3 points for every Lizard.)

As you already know, this is all completely subjective and according to my whims.

Lizzies

  • I like the chit chat…reminds me of the old Saturday Night Live Coffee Talk segment…”I’ll give you a topic…Barry Foote was neither a berry, nor a foot…discuss.”
  • Grape Nuts are neither grapes nor nuts.
  • Testicles. Family blog.
  • Malt balls are balls made of malt.
  • I find MLB’s All-Star game to be a joke.
  • Love to chit chat, just ask my wife. “Hi honey, I am home. Did you see the Cubs choke another one away today? First place my fanny. Can I pour you some Redbreast Irish over some rocks? We need Schwarbs honey, I am telling you” Wife- “I’ll take a double”
  • Does she take a double because of the Cubs or because you’re home?
  • Jon Lester is scheduled to make his last start before heading to San Diego this Saturday. Since his blankey is on the 7 day concussion DL, Lester will throw to Willson Contreras and NOT Miguel Montero. I can’t tell you enough how excited this makes me. The training wheels are off for Contreras and the Cubs are beginning to trust him over Montero.
  • I’m pissed that we hit into 17 double plays. Okay, three, but whatever.
  • Peeved – (family site).
  • I’m a Willy fan. (and no, Seymour, that’s not a dick joke)
  • Willy played hard?
  • Batting down in the order is helping Heyward. Wish we’d have thought of that.
  • It’s not fun to write about, and it’s certainly not fun to talk about, which is why Sherm sent me a text last night saying he couldn’t possibly write any thoughts for the post without cursing.
  • 3 days in a row of letting that (insert family acceptable borderline profanity here) Sean Rodriguez hit HRs against us.
  • our TV broadcasts are not very informative.I think the world of Pat Hughes on the radio-side,
  • So for 2 innings they couldn’t understand why bAez just didn’t take the double play in front of him and then come to the conclusion that he is just smarter than everyone else. I wonder if they got call from Thed telling them that bAez is being marketed as a smart player so get with it.
  • I hate Bryan Adams.
  • I don’t know who Bryan Adams is.
  • I love Bryan Adams
  • we’ve seen two distinctly different teams this year. The great one and the really shitty one. I’d settle for a good one from this point forward.
  • Hendricks (and I can’t believe I’m typing this) is the best pitcher of late because he’s executing his plan. If we hit the playoffs tomorrow? I think I’d start HIM.
  • I’ve never been a Baez fan. I’ve always been a Soler fan, but now I am neither. Package them up and make a deal.
  • Soler, unfortunately, is prone to injuries (I’ve never seen anyone out as long with a hamstring pull. Have you?) Baez is prone to stupid.
  • When Eric Fryer was at bat Len said, “So if Fryer goes deep is it a Deep Fryer?” Seriously. Len said that. Probably waited all day
  • Suffice it to say for now, that I am optimistic about this organization, this team and this particular squad. I plan to enjoy the rest of the season, starting with the All Star game tonight. But, as always, I will cultivate a bit of detachment – just enough to protect my psyche, in case the gods do not smile again this year.
  • My sense is that the Cubs will not trade Kyle Schwarber until they give him the chance to show how good he can become in left field. His hitting is too high quality to do otherwise.
  • Let’s just talk about trading bAez, Soler, Montero or Ceasar or Len.
  • After the second straight day of attacks on one of my favorite musicians, I feel it’s important to Make A Stand. These sort of attacks tend to Cut Like a Knife, and though many of you may not be fans, it’s important that he can Depend on Me.
  • Cock Robin was known for their hit song “When Your Heart is Weak” which, as I understand it, continuously plays on a loop in Seymour’s waiting room.
  • Fast forward to September 10th, 2001, I met a tall exceptionally attractive woman on a first date in Manhattan Beach, California. We had a great time for the first half hour or so, but then the conversation lagged. She asked what type of music I was into. I couldn’t admit to Chumbawumba at that point, so I muttered “Bryan Adams.” Turns out SHE LOVED THE GUY! The next day was extremely tragic for all of us, but we decided to keep seeing each other. Three months later, we flew to Vegas to see him live at the Paris Casino on New Year’s Eve. I kicked down for 13th row tickets, the best I could afford. The first 12 rows of the venue were completely empty, the usual Vegas garbage of hanging on to the best seats as a thank you for the worst gamblers. After a single song, he stopped the show and asked the ushers to orderly move everyone 12 rows closer. Initially, they refused, and the head of the casino had to come on stage and meet with him before they’d do it…but he steadfastly said that his fans deserved to be close. We ended up in the front row. The following 4th of July I got engaged to that woman, and 15 years later, Bryan Adams’ music is something we still agree on. Unlike 3rd Eye Blind and Chumbawumba, my marriage and Bryan Adams have stood the test of time. Sure it’s cheesy, and the lyrics are bad, but admit it, you know the words. “I got my first real six string…”
  • Very romantic, Cap’n. And when it comes to the romantic, the regulars on this site could be All Stars. That’s what it takes Cubs fans. You have to be a crazy romantic.
  • Crazy romantic? You’re half right.
  • Move on to the awards post. Baseball geeks talking music can’t end well.
  • The Len Kasper Award goes to VFTB for 3 days of music related headlines during the all star break.
  • As for the bullpen, the near future looks rather grim…pun intended.
  • Stats are great indicators. Another is rise in blood pressure, mine. Grimm and Cahill lead the group in that category.
  • Wasn’t the Cole Hamel no hitter last year the first Sunday game after the All Star break? DejaVu?
  • If Darvish would have done it, would it have been DejaYu? Thanks, I’ll be here all week.
  • Played some baseball IRL yesterday and missed the game. Theriot game… 1-2 with a walk and two errors.
  • I also can’t help saying that it was a gorgeous July night in Chicago. Poetic with a huge moon rising over the right field bleachers. The kind of night that night baseball was made for. I also liked the 6:05 start. Home a little after 9. Nice.
  • I’d prefer to see the pitcher hit, or not hit, as the case may be – and keep that strategy in the game. Not a DH fan.
  • Tough loss. I didn’t like Baez’ bunt. We needed an rbi there. Not another runner.
  • It sure looked like a different pitching rotation this time through, capped off by Jake’s outing last night.
  • When you load the bases against Jeurys Familia, one of the best closers in the game, when he’s not even close to throwing strikes, and then fail to score, you deserve to lose the game.
  • Salad Man steps up in the 9th with the bases loaded with Familia struggling to throw strikes and immediately swings at 2 pitches out of the zone. He wins the Horrible At Bat of the Day award which is pretty hard to do with Miguel Montero in the line up.
  • These are the situations that matter in October, anyone can hit when it is 8-0.

Lizard

  • Do simple better.

Shout Outs

  • Big shout out to Nate Head for his first 2016 Regular Season Lizzie!!!! Way to go!

MVL

  • Congratulations to Sherm, our Most Valuable Lizzie-er this time! Brad and Doc Raker gave him a real challenge this time! Thanks for the great commentary gentlemen!

Top 10 of the 2016 Season (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard)

1. Sherm
2. Doc Raker
3. Eddie von White
4. Seymour Butts
5. jswanson
6. Doug S
7. Joe Aiello
8. Brad Lyerla
9. cap’n realist
10. Dork

Chit Chat

  • Not that we wouldn’t be talking about this anyway, but on this off-day maybe we can chat about how we’re feeling now that the All Star game is over and the Cubs are back to work. I think we were all a bit frustrated going into the break. How about now, any better?
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Organizational Recap – A Series Win and a Trade

Filed under: Featured,General — Joe Aiello @ 7:05 am

Mets 2 @ Cubs 6 (Box Score)

THE TRADE – If you missed the news yesterday, the Cubs made a trade with the Mariners for bullpen help. The Cubs acquired left-handed pitcher Mike Montgomery and right-handed pitcher Jordan Pries in exchange for Paul Blackburn and Dan Vogelbach. Montgomery is the arm that immediately helps this pen with another lefty, who has pitched to lefties to the tune of a .164 / .269 / .254 split line. He’s a young, cost controlled guy who throws in the low to mid-90’s on his fastball and uses as cutter, curveball and a change. My one concern about how well he’s done against lefties is his BABIP of just .204. That has to balance out over the long haul and since he’s not a massive strikeout guy (under 1 per inning), I worry a little, but overall I like the move. Vogelbach did not have a place on this team and was doing well in AAA this year. He didn’t have the makings of being a centerpiece to a huge deal for someone like Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman, but he brought back and arm and I can see the Cubs continuing to shop. To be honest, I’m more upset about the loss of Blackburn, who was developing nicely and moving along through the system. I saw him starting next year with Iowa with a shot to make the rotation as a call up if needed. It is what it is and now we hope Montgomery helps solidify things a little more back there in the pen with the rotation appearing to get back on track.

THE SERIES WIN – While we didn’t “balance the books” with the Mets for the regular season, we took a series that I considered pretty important out of the break. That’s two series wins in a row with a date with the Brewers up next this weekend. There is no reason why we shouldn’t win that series as well and continue the momentum into the split series with the Sox.

THE THROW – If you missed the game, you missed Jason Heyward showing his value in the outfield. Now if he would only show his value at the plate.


STARTING PITCHERS

AAA – Drew Rucinski – 4 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

AAA – Jake Buchanan – 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K

AA – Tyler Skulina – 5 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 0 BB, 3 K

A – Justin Steele – 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K

SS – Jose Paulino – 7 IP, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K

TOP HITTERS

AAA – Dexter Fowler (CF) – 1 for 6, 2B, 2 R

AAA – Jorge Soler (LF) – 0 for 3, 3 K’s

AA – Bijan Rademacher (LF) – 2 for 4, 2 2B, R

A – Eddy Martinez (RF) – 3 for 4, 2B, 3B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R

SS – Wladimir Galindo (DH) – 2 for 4, R

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July 20, 2016

Organizational Recap: Missed Opportunities, but Jake is Back

Filed under: Featured,General — Joe Aiello @ 6:53 am

Mets 2 @ Cubs 1 (Box Score)

  • GOOD JAKE BACK? – We didn’t know what we’d get from Jake Arrieta coming off a really long rest with the All Star break and being bumped to the last guy to start out of the break, but he put that all to rest. I hope and pray that all that was wrong was fatigue and that a mental and physical break would cure things. It sure looked like a different pitching rotation this time through, capped off by Jake’s outing last night. That’s a huge positive to take away from a night that we should have come away with a victory.
  • SO, ABOUT THAT HOT STREAK…Anthony Rizzo was hot as fire coming into the game and was promptly shut down in grand fashion. He went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts and contributed -0.149 WPA, which means that when you start with a 50% chance of winning, he took away almost of 1/3 of it with his performance. Tough night for Rizzo, but it happens. Some nights you put your tail between your legs and come out fighting the next day.
  • CRAZY LINEUP – I got a tweet last night that the lineup Joe Maddon rolled out there was the reason we lost. They said that Kris Bryant should not have been in RF, that Willson Contreras shouldn’t be in left, etc. I say to that: poppycock poppypenis (sorry, it’s a family blog). Maddon has done a wonderful job of putting guys in positions to allow the Cubs to have tremendous depth. That depth is huge when guys like Jorge Soler (well, maybe not him cause he sucks), Dexter Fowler, Kyle Schwarber (I miss him) go down. The Cubs didn’t lose that game because of the placement of players. They didn’t even lose the game because Noah Syndergaard was on the mound. They lost that game because of failure to take advantage of opportunities that were presented to them wrapped in pretty wrapping paper with a lace bow on top. When you load the bases against Jeurys Familia, one of the best closers in the game, when he’s not even close to throwing strikes, and then fail to score, you deserve to lose the game. The Mets tried to give it away and we treated it like we were playing hot potato and want that win out of our hands as quick as possible. Now it’s important to win the series finale today against Big Fat and keep the momentum rolling.

STARTING PITCHERS

A-Adv – Jeremy Null – 0.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB 0 K

SS – Bryan Hudson – 4 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 6 BB, 2 K

TOP HITTERS

A-Adv – Yasiel Balaguert (1B) – 4 for 4, 2 RBI, R

SS – Chris Pieters (1B) – 1 for 4, HR, 2 RBI

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July 19, 2016

The Reserve Clause

Filed under: Featured,General — Brad Lyerla @ 4:00 pm

When I started the day yesterday, I had no idea that I would be writing about the reserve clause for today’s Afternoon Quickie. But Sherm brought it up yesterday morning. We were commenting on the behavior of ball player’s and it was his theory that players today are more motivated by money than by a love of the game or loyalty to a team. He argued that it used to be better. I countered that it probably isn’t much different today than it was before because there have always been bad teammates, greedy owners and other jerks in the game.

But Sherm started me wondering about how much has changed in baseball since players’ salaries ballooned after the advent of free agency. This is the first installment of what will probably be a two-parter. In this first installment, I want to sketch out how free agency came about in the first place. Next time, I will write about the changes it has wrought.

We begin at the end of the National League baseball season of 1879. That year some owners introduced what became known as “the reserve clause”. This was a clause in a baseball player’s contract with his team that required that at the conclusion of the one-year contract, the player could not negotiate with any other team. Rather, the player agreed that he would negotiate for the next year only with the team with whom his contract had just expired.

Soon, all the owners were requiring ‘reserve clauses’ in their contracts with individual players. This had the effect of making a player the exclusive property of his ball club once he signed his first contract. Because there was no amateur draft until 1965, a player before then was a free agent until that first contract. But thereafter, the reserve clause prevented him from negotiating with anyone other than his current owner. This, of course, had the effect of preventing competition among owners for the services of baseball players from contract to contract. That, in turn, suppressed the price of those services.

In 1892, congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act. It prohibited concerted action in restraint of trade. Lawyers saw a problem for baseball. The conduct of the owners in concertedly requiring the reserve clause in player contracts looked like a violation of the Sherman Act. The issue did not come to a head until 1922.

At that time, the Supreme Court decided a case called Federal Baseball Club v. National League. The Court ruled for the owners, but on grounds having to do with the limits of congress’s power, not on the merits of whether the owners had acted anti-competitively. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. wrote for the Court. He reasoned that baseball is not in interstate commerce. According to his opinion, major league baseball is just a collection of private teams that arrange for baseball exhibitions that each occur within a particular state. Because that activity does not occur in interstate commerce, the Sherman Act does not apply to Major League Baseball. Major league baseball not in interstate commerce!?! That, of course, was pure nonsense then and is more so today. But the decision has never been over-ruled. It lives on and is sometimes cited as the worst piece of legal reasoning ever to have been penned by Justice Holmes, one of our greatest jurists. (Baseball gets the best of even the very smartest of us eventually. He was a Boston fan, so . . . you know.)

Despite its obvious anti-competitive effect, it was not the courts that ended the reserve clause. That happened in a series of arbitrations conducted in the ‘70s under the player’s Basic Agreement. In 1965, the players formed a union and the union negotiated the first Basic Agreement with the owners. The BA incorporated the reserve clause – that is, the union agreed that the clause was retained as a part of every player’s contract with his team. But the BA also set up a grievance process that included arbitration. Eventually, that process would be the undoing of the reserve clause.

It seemed to some that the reserve clause had always had a loophole. What would happen if a player negotiated in good faith for a year, but did not agree to a new contract? Would he in the following year be a free agent?

In the 1974 season, Catfish Hunter had a grievance with Charlie Finley, owner of the A’s. Hunter was the reigning Cy Young award winner, but Finley had not funded certain deferred benefits in violation of Hunter’s contract. Hunter had the contract voided for the year, meaning that he had played for a year with no contract. The arbitrator ruled that Hunter was, therefore, a free agent for the 1975 season. He signed an enormous new multi-year contract with the Yankees.

The next year, Andy Messersmith of the Dodgers and Dave McNally of the Expos, did not sign a contract and played for the season unsigned. (McNally had actually retired half way through the season, but did not complete the documentation to make his retirement official.) At the end of the season, the union, on the players’ behalf, initiated arbitration and Messersmith and McNally were declared free agents for the 1976 season. Effectively, this was the end of the reserve clause. Every player could achieve free agency by playing with no new contract for a year (during that year, their compensation would be determined under the BA).

In the next Basic Agreement, the reserve clause was removed and free agency became available to all players subject to a set of restrictions, which were negotiated into the BA. I will describe those restrictions the next time.

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Organizational Recap: Balancing the Books

Filed under: Featured,General — Joe Aiello @ 6:30 am

Mets 1 @ Cubs 5 (Box Score)

This past week, Pat Hughes mentioned that the Mets were coming to town and that it was time for the Cubs to balance the books with them. Things have been heavily shifted to the Mets side lately, with them winning 8 in a row against us dating back to last year. Last night the Cubs answered that and took game one decisively.

  • Another great outing by our pitching staff, this time by Jon Lester. Do you think the pitching staff is back from their funk and ready for a run in the 2nd half?
  • Willson Contreras appears to have won over Joe Maddon‘s heart and secured a starting, everyday job. Considering the Indians just lost Yan Gomes to a separated shoulder, would a trade of Miguel Montero to Cleveland, with the Cubs eating some of the money left next year, make sense. Obviously you wouldn’t get pieces that help this season, but if the Cubs were to make that deal, sending Montero to Cleveland and getting a young prospect arm in return, would you be happy?
  • Do the Mets still scare you, considering they’ve lost Matt Harvey for the season, Noah Syndergaard dealing with some elbow discomfort, and Steven Matz dealing with a bone spur in his elbow that could cause him to be shelved at any time. They don’t scare me quite like they did a couple months ago.

STARTING PITCHERS

AAA – Trevor Cahill – 2.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K

AA – Paul Blackburn – 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K

A-Adv – Jonathan Martinez – 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K

A –Ryan Kellogg – 5 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K

SS – Oscar De La Cruz – 4 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K

TOP HITTERS

AAA – Dan Vogelbach (DH) – 4 for 5, HR

AA – Ben Carhart (C) – 2 for 4

A-Adv – Gleyber Torres (SS) – 4 for 5, 2 2B, 3B, 3 R, 3 RBI

A – Bryant Flete (3B) – 2 for 4, HR, 2 RBI

SS – Robert Garcia (LF) – 2 for 4, 2B, R

HIGHLIGHTS

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July 18, 2016

Organizational Recap: Always Buy the “S” Model

Filed under: Featured,General — Joe Aiello @ 6:36 am

Rangers 4 @ Cubs 1 (Box Score)

WE SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT THE “S” MODEL – On Saturday, the Cubs ran out Jason Hamel to the mound. While his outing was good, he has known bugs that prevent him from being functional for long periods of time. We’ve taken him back to the manufacturer and then got him back and were told the issues were fixed only to see the same issues happen last year. The functionality of Hamel just doesn’t last well. Now, there is an “S” model, known has Hamels that is much better and much more stable. The Rangers have that model and decided to show it off to us at our house yesterday. Let’s just say that I’m jealous. I want the Cole Hamels model.

EVERYTHING OK BRO? – Is it just me or does John Lackey look like he’s in pain while on the mound? He’s constantly squinting and looking like he’s constipated and working something out. Don’t get me wrong, I like Lackey and I’m happy he’s on this team, but he just looks uncomfortable out there. It sort of makes me uncomfortable. He tossed a decent outing yesterday, but got no run support. It is what it is. When it comes down to it, we won a series out of the break against a tough AL team. Let’s take it and focus on avenging a Mets sweep from earlier this year.


STARTING PITCHERS

AAA – Brian Matusz – 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

AA – Michael Wagner – 4 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K

A-Adv – Zach Hedges – 6 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K

A – Carson Sands – 2.2 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 2 K

SS – Pedro Silverio – 4 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K

TOP HITTERS

AAA – Juan Perez (RF) – 1 for 4, 2B

AA – Ian Happ (2B) – 2 for 5, 2B, 2 R

A-Adv – David Bote (1B) – 2 for 3, RBI

A – Donnie Dewees (CF) – 3 for 4, R

SS – Chris Pieters (1B) – 2 for 5, RBI

HIGHLIGHTS

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July 17, 2016

Organizational Recap: Is That All Yu Got?

Filed under: Featured,General — Joe Aiello @ 7:33 am

Rangers 1 @ Cubs 3 (Box Score)

YU IS PRETTY GOOD – Since I don’t watch much any baseball other than Cubs baseball, this was the first time I had a chance to see Yu Darvish pitch, and that joker is good. The scary thing is that he’s just coming off an injury, so there is rust there. He has tremendous movement and an arsenal of pitches that sort of reminds you of Aunt Mae’s medicine cabinet. There is a little bit of everything in there. When he had five strikeouts in the first two innings, I feared it would be a long day, but the Cubs did enough with being patient and working counts to get him out of there before completing five innings. The Rangers will be a tough out in a short series with Darvish and Cole Hamels going 1, 2.

THE GOOD HAMMEL – Before the game, I posted a poll asking what type of Jason Hammel start people thought we would get. Here were the results.

If you chose good Hammel, you win. We have seen him deal with cramping and there was a story that came out that said he was going to be working on that by eating potato chips to try to find the correct balance of hydration and sodium and it seemed to work yesterday. To be honest, I expected that we would get at least one shot of him eating chips in the dugout, but unless I missed it, we got none. We did, however, get two instances of Len Kasper losing his #$@&%* when he thought a ball was a home run to right field. Neither were even close.

BACKUP POWER – Both Tommy La Stella and Matt Szczur made big impacts in the game yesterday and both are considered role players on this team. For Szczur, it was the second day in a row in almost identical circumstances that he came through with a big hit up the middle. I like our bench and it’s ability to do the little things at the plate to be successful. It’s not easy to be a role guy and get thrown in there to face Darvish, but La Stella did a stellar job. Those two, in particular, give the Cubs a great left / right combo off the bench.


I’m not sure what is going on with Pierce Johnson this year, but it’s not been good for him. He comes in as our #11 prospect in the system according to MLB Pipeline and this has been a forgettable year for him. He tossed another tough start yesterday and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him bounced from the top 30 in the system when the mid-season ranking comes out.

STARTING PITCHERS

AAA – Pierce Johnson – 4.1 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 5 K’s

AA – Jen-Ho Tseng – 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K

A-Adv – Jake Stinnett – 5.1 IP, 11 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K

A – Adbert Alzolay – 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K

SS – Jesus Castillo – 4 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K

TOP HITTERS

AAA – Munenori Kawasaki (SS) – 2 for 2, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB

AA – Bijan Rademacher (LF) – 3 for 4, 2B, RBI, R, BB

A-Adv – Gleyber Torres (SS) – 2 for 4, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 2 R, 3 BB

A – Donnie Dewees (CF) – 2 for 4, 3B, 2 RBI, R

SS – DJ Wilson (CF) – 1 for 3, 2B, 3 RBI

HIGHLIGHTS

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