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April 2017

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COMMENTS

Is the Cubs’ Fuel Mix Too Rich

Written by , Posted in General

Something I tell my Little League players is I don’t make the lineup, they do. What they show me in practice and during games dictates where and how much they play. It’s a twelve player roster and each player has to play a minimum of 2 innings in the field and get 1 at bat per game. Most of the time that means the six best players play the whole game and the other six get subbed half the game each, more or less. In conjunction with this I also tell them that I want them to make it hard on me when I make the lineup, meaning I want to have 12 players who deserve to start. I tell them that as motivation, but between you & me I HATE make those decisions on who last 3 starters will be and who will sit on the bench when they are all competitive. It’s a lot easier when 3 kids are considerably worse than the other 9 so they are the automatic bench warmers.

I hear Cap’n thinking to himself, “That’s cute & all, Adam, but why the eff should I care?”

Good question.

Lately I’m wondering, have Theo and Jed done too good a job with the Cubs roster? Take Ian Happ. What do they do with him? He clearly would be a starter on probably 26 MLB teams. He just happens to belong to the Cubs who have Ben Zobrist, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora, Jr., and Jason Heyward, who are signed through 2020, 2022, 2022, 2023, and 2023, respectively, blocking his way to the majors. I fully acknowledge this is a wonderful problem to have, but seriously, what are they going to do? Sure the law of averages says somebody(s) will get hurt, and that will open up some playing time, but we’re already one starter rich (not even including the increasingly insignificant Jon Jay), so even if one of these guys (or Bryant, Rizzo or Russell) gets hurt that only gets one guy off the bench.

With their lukewarm performance to date, I’m wondering if this crowded dugout is hurting the Cubs’ chemistry.

What do you think? Do you see the Cubs trying to move any of these guys? If so, why?

  • Brad Lyerla

    Wow. Adam. Get a grip. It’s very, very early.

    • Eddie Von White

      It doesn’t matter how early it is, nobody likes to lose. Right now Maddon needs to change things up a bit to get things rolling. It just doesn’t seem right to have Bryant batting 2nd, everybody knows that. Change it now. It’s not working. And the whole Kyle Hendricks thing is just plain stupid. We don’t even like Lackey – we just tolerate him.

    • Adam Peters

      I know it’s early. And a great deal of the Cubs lack of offense is due to Bryant hitting .212, Zobrist hitting .214 and Montero hitting at all.

      cap’n & Sherm are probably right, and this will all work itself out in time. But I still say a trade is ion the horizon.

      • Eddie Von White

        I think you meant to say a trade is “Ian” the horizon.

      • Sherm

        It could HAPPen

      • Adam Peters

        I don’t know. Someone who has already proven himself at the MLB level, but still has many years of team control will be worth a lot more.

        The real dilemma I see with that is those guys made themselves an indelible part of Cub history last October & November. People are pretty attached to them. My wife would lose her shit if the Cubs traded Schwarber.

      • Sherm

        Are you married to Raker?

      • Adam Peters

        I don’t think so. But I don’t know if I can confirm that with 100% certainty.

      • Eddie Von White

        Have you ever seen your wife and Raker in the same room together?

      • Adam Peters

        I can’t say that I have. Hmmmm.

      • Doc Raker

        Where you two in Fort Lauderdale spring break 1983?

      • Adam Peters

        No, I was in 8th grade in ’83.

      • Sherm

        That can be interpreted a number of ways. All funny.

      • Eddie Von White

        Honey, I’m home!

      • cap’n realist

        Eddie Von Ricardo

  • Bryzzo1744

    When I played Little League, the rules were everybody plays, everyone has to play at least 1 inning in the infield, everyone is in the batting order, and everyone must have a turn on the bench before you can bench someone a 2nd time.

    • That is terrific insight.. thanks.

    • Doc Raker

      So

  • Sherm

    I don’t know that it’s too early for this conversation – I just hope we aren’t having it again in August. There are (at least) three players who should be starting everyday for any team on the planet – who don’t know if they are in the lineup when they get to the ballpark. They are Almora, Baez, and Zobrist. That cannot be easy.

    I’d say the pressure is greater now than it was last year. Fact is that most of this team wasn’t even alive when the streak of WS futility hit 90 years…so 108 really didn’t matter that much. It mattered to the city. It mattered to the press. It mattered to the fans. They didn’t give a shit about 108. Could have been 4. Or 52. Or whatever. But now? It’s ZERO – and there is a ton of pressure being the pre-season choice to win it all and to repeat. The pressure is on from day one.

    Pressure. Imagine the pressure on Kyle Schwarber. I feel bad for the young man. In addition to the VFTB ridiculous expectations, he’s batting first, and supposed to be “the catalyst” for the entire team. He’s played EIGHTY-FOUR games at this level. In his life. He has less than 300 major league at-bats and he’s now burdened with this? Addison Russell hit 9th – as you know – for a YEAR…just to allow him to work out the nerves that come with combination of youth and inexperience. Not lack of talent. Lack of experience. Bat Schwarber 5 or 6 – and watch him come alive. Take a little of that pressure off and let him learn on the job. He’s pressing. Did you see that last at-bat vs Neftali Feliz last night. Grossly overmatched.

    This team’s long term need will be controllable pitching. To me, you need to trade from the treasure chest of position players to fill that need. If it is Kyle Schwarber to the AL – I can live with that…but make sure you get value in return. If it’s Happ, because of what you mentioned, Aaron, that’s fine, too, but get value in return. It’s a puzzle. You don’t win by stockpiling pieces and keeping them all. You win by making it all fit together perfectly.

    I’m not on the ledge. Not by a long stretch, but I’d love to see a slightly greater sense of urgency in Joe Maddon to find a winning combination. He seems to be a “this is not working – let’s keep doing it” kind of guy. I’m not that kind of guy. I’m not saying to get stupid, but tweaking (not twerking, Seymour) things from time to time might help.

    • Seymour Butts

      WS futility hit 90 years in 1998 (1999 really, but who’s counting). Stating that half of the current Cubs team was not yet alive at that time would seem to be an alternate truth. The Cubs website indicates the youngest player on the team was born in 1994 (Almora).
      I can only assume Raker is your math consultant.
      And yes, Adam, I am also that much of a tool in real life.

      • Sherm

        1) Yes – THAT was the important part of my commentary. Thank goodness you caught it.
        2) He is a bigger tool than I am, because I COULD have just edited my comment and changed the 90 to 80 and made him look silly. But I didn’t.

      • Dork

        i would suggest using a spreadsheet.

  • Buddy

    As long as they all get juice boxes after the game, it will be fine. Maybe a snack for Kyle too.

    • Bryzzo1744

      If you win, I take you out for ice cream! If you lose, I still take you out for ice cream.

      • cap’n realist

        And just like that, Caps had his first date.

      • Sherm

        I bet it was a rocky road

    • Sherm

      When I was a boy – we were sponsored by the local malt shop. (Shut up – yes, it means I’m old.) The owner made us a deal – if we won, we could come in after the game have whatever we wanted and as much as we wanted. If we lost, we could not come in. He didn’t want losers sitting in his shop. That’s a true story.

      We were undefeated that year. And pretty fat. But undefeated.

      • Dork

        How the world has changed, that is a good story.

      • Eddie Von White

        I have a similar story – only it was my dentist who gave us free ice cream right after we got our teeth drilled – without the luxury of Novocain. I think they outlawed that about the same time as waterboarding. After Little League games I had to go straight home to do chores. No time for ice cream.

      • cap’n realist

        Eddie Von Eminem

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        Eddie Von Sad

  • cap’n realist

    As I see it, the problems are more with execution and effort than lineup. They had a chance to score early with Lackey up in a first and third situation and no outs. Joe opts to swing away in a squeeze situation. Rizzo gets caught napping and picked off when he’s the tying run. Bad errors and passed balls/wild pitches the day before that. Sure, it’s funsies to read the box score, but those that are actually watching the games can see that the problem has little to do with The Who, when and where and lots to do with the what and how. It’s early, and the truth is that they just have to play better and be more diligent. Smarter baserunnnng. Take care of the baseball defensively. Better approaches at the plate as situations dictate.

    Tell us more about your team of 12 year olds as they directly correlate to the major league world champions and possibly the most talented team in 40 years. That was neato. Does your blond shortstop get into fights with the whole 7th grade? Do the 2 Mexican-American players refuse to wear cups because they’re Catholic and Its a sin? Do you have a Harley riding center fielder hitting .833? Please, more of this.

    • Adam Peters

      Geez, cap’n. Are you as much of a tool in real life as you are here?

      I’m sure Joe would welcome your brilliant insight as a writer–feel free to contribute from your genius with an article at any time.

      • Doc Raker

        Yes!

      • Sherm

        You kind of started it with the mention in the top part. Akin to throwing the first snowball…you had to expect SOMETHING. As soon as I read that my first thought was “Wait for it…”

        Of course he’s a tool. But he’s also a great guy, incredibly generous and funny as hell. And he does know baseball. We all love the verbal sparring that goes on here (and anywhere else) and while it doesn’t say so in the VFTB headline, it’s more or less “Enter at your own risk” but also “if you can dish it out…be prepared to take it.” So, there’s that. Many who couldn’t take it are now the figurative bones in our virtual desertscape…and the strong (or really stubborn) survive.

        But I’m a tool, too, so…

      • Bryzzo1744

        “Many who couldn’t take it are now the figurative bones in our virtual desertscape”
        Such as Safety Sue

      • Adam Peters

        I see your point about the mention above. I didn’t mean it like that, but I see now how he could take it that way.

        It’s not a big deal. I’m a big boy.

      • cap’n realist

        In real life, I’m the whole ratchet set. And perhaps you missed the brilliant piece of prose entitled “I Love Bryan Adams” posted last July. Yeah, pretty sure Joe fired me after that.

      • Sherm

        He did. We BEGGED him to.

      • Yeah that was one of the last top parts I took in.

      • Sherm

        Are you married to Nurse Ratchet-set?

      • Eddie Von White

        But we did win the World Series after that post. Time for another briliant piece.

    • Adam Peters

      Oh, and that Bad News Bears reference was inspired. Really.

    • ha.. now it makes sense why CAPS brought up Little League up there ^

  • Adam Peters

    ******************DISCLAIMER****************

    This was supposed to be the afternoon conversation starter. I don’t know why it was posted this morning.

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      More time to get close to the 94 comments from yesterday.

    • Joe Aiello

      Our AM poster forgot he was on the schedule. Tough to get good help when you pay in Lizzies.

      • Eddie Von White

        He just doesn’t know the value of a Lizzie.

      • Sherm

        Eddie Von Bitcoin

  • Doc Raker

    I am thinking Schwarbs should not be the leadoff guy right now.

    Cubs lose 4 in a row, Blackhawks go down 0-3 in their 1st round series to the Preds, this is all a kick in the peanut sack. Good thing I have been here before and know what to do, Fire Len Kasper.

    • Bryzzo1744

      The Bulls are up 1-0 on Boston!

  • Doc Raker

    Schwarbs bunted against the shift, we need more of that. Why not take the easy hit when it is given to you, it does so much.
    1) You get a hit.
    2) You don’t make an out.
    3) The team gets a base runner.
    4) It reduces the shift for future at bats.
    5) It makes future AB’s easier to get a hit because of #4.
    6) It puts the pitcher into the stretch
    7) It puts the 1st baseman on the bag opening up the 3-4 hole.
    8) It pleases me.

    • Sherm

      Rizzo bunted for a hit last night, too. Stole second and then got picked off. But at least he bunted. You were watching hockey.

      • Doug S.

        Hockey over baseball? Never.

      • Doc Raker

        I did not see Rizzo’s bunt, I was watching playoff hockey. The Cubs blew it again and then the Blackhawks went up 2-0 in a must win game before giving it up and blowing it in OT to go down 0-3 in the series. Chicago is reeling, we are all a bunch of tools

    • Bryzzo1744

      I agree with you. I don’t understand why players don’t do this more often. Just drop a bunt every time they shift. MLB wants to talk about eliminating the shift, just drop a bunt every time.

    • Adam Peters

      I agree completely. The hitter’s #1 job is to not make an out. If you lay down that bunt past the pitcher, the odds are damn near 100% you get a single. If you swing away your odds are probably less than 1/3 of that.

      I think machismo is the only reason they don’t do it more.

      • Dork

        The counter argument is that by bunting you don’t get the extra base hit. Which is the cornerstone of most rallies. So maybe the strategy should be we should shift against Braun and Thames so they bunt. Which is better than them scoring 5 of the 6 runs last night with 4 extra base hits. The other run was a solo HR another extra base hit. SO a bunt works only if someone behind you gets an EBH.

      • Eddie Von White

        Or you steal second like Rizzo and not get picked off.

      • Dork

        Or you can steal and have the catcher throw the ball into left field that seemed to work pretty well for the brewers also.

      • Adam Peters

        For what it’s worth, sabermetrics has shown that On Base Percentage is 3 times more important that Slugging. You can’t score if you don’t get on base.

        Keep the line moving, make the pitcher throw more pitches, let the guy behind you do his job, etc.

      • Dork

        I don’t mean to turn this into a sabermetric argument and I am not sure I have seen a 3 times more important number/study/article. I think that the cubs front office values both OBP and ISO, and I would say equally. My only point is that there is a counter argument to the bunt and it played out in last nights game. Maybe it does not play out every time as sequencing is why baseball seems random at times.

      • Adam Peters

        So far this season Scwarber is batting .240. He has 12 hits, 5 of which were for extra bases, 3 doubles and 2 HRs. So his percentage of extra base hits is 41.66% which is very good. But even so, that means he gets an extra base hit 9.9999% of the time. If he gets the bunt past the pitcher he’s going to be safe 100% of the time. That’s all I’m saying.

      • Dork

        Sorry I brought it up. There is a counter point whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

      • Adam Peters

        Just because there is an argument, it doesn’t mean it’s a good one.

      • Dork

        Pretty close minded

      • Sherm

        Shit. Now CAPS is going to mention Dusty Baker…in 3…2…1…

      • Bryzzo1744

        Walks clog the bases for guys who can run. How come walks clog the bases but singles don’t?

      • cap’n realist

        this can sometimes can be a problem when you have Montero and Lackey in the 7-8 holes. Leaving the bases loaded doesn’t do much except increase pitch counts.

        Seymour to joke about 7-8 holes below, as soon as he finishes with his current overweight middle aged bacon fiend.

      • 7-8 holes.. that’s 3.5-4 2-holes.

    • cap’n realist

      Shwarbs had a couple opportunities to get hit by inside breaking balls yesterday as well. They give you first base EVERY TIME for that as well. I need more Rudi Stein to end this confounded losing streak! Getting hit and wearing one for the team, THAT’S MACHISMO!

      • Bryzzo1744

        I’m not one for trying to get HBP. While the free base is nice, I don’t want to take injury risks like that.

      • cap’n realist

        The Cubs have 17 outfielders. If a guy gets hit and needs a day off, there’s a quality guy on the bench. THIS is what’s great about the versatility.

      • Sherm

        Get ready – Seymour is going to mathematically dispute your hyperbole in 3…2…1…

      • Seymour Butts

        5 on the 25 man roster, 6 on the 40 man roster.
        Facts just don’t matter any more do they.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        You did not read the article on versatility! We have your 5 plus Willy, Bryant, Zo, Beaz and more. Let’s face it someone on the pitching staff has to take over left field for Wood.

      • Seymour Butts

        Iam capta.

      • Adam Peters

        CAPS is implementing alternative facts. They’re all the rage these days.

  • Kyle

    Zobrist has 24 at bats out of 42 with Runners on and 5 RBI’s. Which includes 2 Solo HR’s. Unnacceptable. We need hitters not OBP guys in the cleanup spot. I think he needs to hit number 2, and shift Bryzzo down 1. Don’t get me wrong, I love Zo, just not as cleanup.

    • Kyle

      And I realize I’m starting to sound like a broken record here…

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        With just the right tool even a broken record can play some good music.

      • Sherm

        Ooh…who’s your stylus?

      • Seymour Butts

        Very punny.

      • cap’n realist

        Len wants you all to know that TOOL will be bringing its brand of heavy metal to the Park West on June 16th, and the Downers Grove VFW Hall on June 17th. The show on the 17th is a benefit for the greater Downers Grove war veterans as well as the lesser known ‘washed up Optometrists with expensive whiskey habits.’ Tickets on sale at Ticketmaster.com

      • Doc Raker

        I played 1b for VFW at Doerhoefer Park in Downers Grove. I hit 6 dingers including a grand slam that broke Mrs Dingleberry’s window in the parking lot behind right field. All my homers where to dead center or to the right of dead center, lots of pop to right center, never pulled the ball, even in Little League. You can see my VFW HOF plaque at the VFW Hall on Ogden Avenue.

  • Dork

    Fun Fact – according to the spreadsheet the cubs only lost 5 games in april last year.

  • Dork

    Starling Marte is a bad boy – I think they should have to forfeit previously played games. Unless someone on the cubs gets in trouble in which case they should just ignore the previous comment.

  • Doug S.

    Elsewhere I note:
    a) Nobody here has been to Denver
    b) There are no Cubs bars in Denver
    c) There are zero good sports bars in Denver
    d) Nobody cares to respond to my lame ass question
    e) All of the above

    • Eddie Von White

      What’s your question? I was in Denver in February – twice. I was the only one in the entire city sporting a Cubs shirt. When I left, so did their only Cubs fan.

    • Sherm

      a) I have been to Denver
      b) I have never watched a Cub game at a bar in Denver. When the Cubs are playing there the entire stadium is a Cub bar (to me)
      c) They have some good “gummy bear” bars, though
      4) What was the question?
      Cinco) Si

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      The last time I was in Denver they did not have a baseball team.

    • Bryzzo1744

      I’ve been to Colorado but not Denver. It summer of 2001, I was 13. We went to visit my uncle in Colorado Springs (the one in SD now), and then Aspen for 2 weeks.

      • Sherm

        Well, there you go, Doug. All set?

      • Bryzzo1744

        After the experience with San Diego this year for flight hotel and rental car, I’m going to look at more baseball trips in the future. Denver is a possibility for 2018.

      • Sherm

        Have a great time!

    • a) I have
      b) likely not
      c) there was a pretty awesome place by Coors.. inside painted to look like Coors.. nice patio on top.. that was a decade ago
      d) you didn’t ask one
      e) false

    • Doug S.

      Thanks guys. A few days ago I posted I was going to the Cubs-Rockies series in early May and asked for any sports bar recommendations in Denver. I think my post got buried under a pile of Len bashing I likely contributed to.

    • Seymour Butts

      I have seen over a dozen games at Coors field. However, I don’t drink alcohol and have little use for bars, So functionally I’m still useless.

      • Could you advise Doug on the sandwich scene around Coors?

    • Doc Raker

      I have been to Denver for hockey. I would consider going to Denver for the Cubs as long as it is in the summer months.

  • Doc Raker

    We stink, 0-5 Brewers already. I hate turning on a game to find out it is already out of hand.

    • Seymour Butts

      It got better.

  • Doc Raker

    79 to go, Schwarbs

    • Eddie Von White

      Back in hand now.

      • Sherm

        Eddie Von WAYTOOMUCHINFORMATION

      • Eddie Von White

        Oh my. I should have known…

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        As they say to Raj on TBBT, do you listen to yourself speak.