View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



April 2017



Organizational Recap – Lost Opportunities, Hendricks, and Miggy

Written by , Posted in General


The Cubs dropped the opener of a three game series to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday.  This is my second post of the season and the Cubs are 0-2 on games that I am recapping.  Here’s to a win next week!

Lost Opportunities

After falling behind the Pirates in the 6th, the Cubs had great opportunities to cash in with some runs in both the 8th and the 9th innings.  The Pirates have been struggling this year with work out of the bullpen.  They currently sit 6th highest in relief ERA in the majors at 5.94.  With that being said, the Cubs could not muster a run across the plate to get any closer.  The 8th looked really promising with Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo both getting on base to start the inning.  Ben Zobrist, who normally does a great job of putting the ball in play, stuck out swinging and Addison Russell followed with an fly out to center field.  Jason Heyward (who screams at every pop out now…kinda like I do in slow pitch softball league games) followed with great hustle play to beat the throw to first to load the bases for Willson Contreras (batting for Miguel Montero who I will talk about shortly).  Contreras dribbles a weak ground ball to third to force the third out to end the inning.

Bottom of the ninth didn’t start out well as Albert Almora and Javier Baez both had not so good at bats against Pirates closer Tony Watson.  The big three followed (Kyle Schwarber, Bryant, and Rizzo) with all three reaching base to bring up Zobrist again to try to redeem himself from his strike out in the 8th.  Zobrist grounded out to the shortstop to end the game.  Last year it seemed like the Cubs won these type of games.  I know its still early…but they really need to capitalize on these opportunities…especially against a struggling bullpen like the Pirates.


A couple of things did not help Kyle Hendricks.  One, he was keeping the ball up in the strike zone way too much.  When he does this it really puts him in a bad spot because he does not have the over powering stuff that will baffle the hitters.  When he is playing with fire up in the strike zone, it sets him back a few years to when he first started with the Cubs and I was a nervous mess the whole game.  Kyle, keep the ball down in the zone for heavens sake!

Andy Fletcher wasn’t helping out Hendricks during the game as well.  Fletcher, who was the home plate umpire, was not giving Hendricks the low strike zone pitch nor was he giving him the strikes on either side of the plate.  If Kyle doesn’t get those calls during the game then he has no choice but to put them in the hitters zone.  You just hope that if he pounds the zone on either side of the plate consistently during the game, then he will eventually get those calls.  But with Hendricks working the top half of the zone all day, Fletcher was squeezing the zone and didn’t ever give Kyle those corner plate opportunities.

Out to Pasture

Enough of Montero already.  There is a reason that he did not see the field last post season and he is giving reason right now that he still should not see the field.  Yes, I know, the only other catcher we have right now is Schwarber.  I am sure that Miguel is a great guy.  I don’t really know what he brings to the clubhouse outside of being a veteran.  He has 11 at bats this season and none of his contacts on the ball have looked good through the first couple of weeks of the season.  He can’t hit, he definitely can’t throw anyone out trying to steal, and we know that he is not going to be the one that can provide great depth for Willson.  Give it another month (which amounts to a few more starts), cut the cord, and go ahead and call up Victor Caratini.  Caratini can at least give some productive at bats.  He has a ways to go with his defense…but let him catch Hendricks and see what he can do.  Miggy’s time has come and gone.  No reason to play him now.

Up Next

The Cubs play the second game of the three game series against the Pirates at 1:20 CT on Saturday.  Jake Arrieta (who is looking great this year) will face off against Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 27.00 ERA).

AAA – Iowa Cubs Lost 11 to 1 (NO HITTER)

SP – Jake Buchanan – 5 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 K

AA – Tennessee Smokies Lost 10 to 2

SP – Trevor Clifton – 5 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 K

3B – Jason Vosler – 2 for 2, SB

A-Adv – Myrtle Beach Pelicans Lost 5 to 2

SP – Oscar De La Cruz – 5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K

3B – Matt Rose – 2 for 4, HR, 2 RBI

A – South Bend Cubs Won 6 to 4

SP – Manuel Rondon – 4 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 K

1B – Wladimir Galindo – 3 for 5, 2B, RBI

  • Brad Lyerla

    Ryan, nice stuff. I agree re Miggy even though I saw only a few outs with him behind the plate yesterday. But Caratini? I am not on board with that. I expect the FO to find a rent a player back up catcher to get us through this season. We don’t need a lot of offense from a back up catcher. We do need good receiving skills and the ability to throw out some runners.

    As for Kyle Hendricks, I am worried a bit. I did not like his demeanor when I saw him on the bench in the late innings. I thought I saw some frustration in place of his usual stoic dead pan. Maybe I imagined it. But I hope he gets it going.

    • Doug S.

      Agree. Kyle was shaking his head a bit watching the game. Looking very unhappy which is unusual.

    • CubbieBlue023

      Yeah that was my other thought with adding another catcher. We can get a low rental but I believe we will need someone before the July deadline. One more month and we will see what they will do.

    • Doc Raker

      DO you think he was upset with his performance or the offensive performance? I would think pitching in cold weather would be difficult for him since he relies on such precision and movement and it is difficult to get a feel for the ball in 40 degree weather. I would expect to see an effective Hendricks when the weather warms up a bit.

      • Junior Von White

        I am still thinking that he is frustrated with everything overall because he doesn’t get the respect he deserves. He was the ERA leader last season and he is the fifth starter. That creates unnecessary pressure to prove himself, even though he already has. Management is treating him like he needs to compete and earn a spot in the rotation while guys like Lackey are given special treatment. That causes frustration and messes with a guy’s psyche, and for a guy like Hendricks, half of the battle is mental.

      • Sherm

        He had every right to be upset with the strike and ball calls. He was drilling the low corners and not getting them…while Cole was. So lack of respect from Maddon AND the ump. He’s human. And he’s the kind of pitcher who destroys the Cubs so he could a nightmare when he goes elsewhere.

        The quick hook in game 7 – to me, said it all. Guy bested Kershaw in the NL clincher and still didn’t get a chance to pitch deeper when he should have. I felt more comfortable with him on the mound than Chapman.

      • Bryzzo1744

        It was almost like Maddon put Lester in simply for the sake of putting him in and not much else.

      • Doc Raker

        For every guy it is mental and to have your managers confidence is important. Hendricks will be fine but there is that concern that Maddon’s disrespect will erode the trust not just between Hendrick’s and Maddon but between Joe and the team.

        I have it on good authority that the game 7 rain delay Heyward meeting was about bailing out Maddon from his bad decisions to put the team into that mess as in, “We all make mistakes and so does our manager, let’s go win this for him and the team.” I have to believe Hendricks was nodding his head in agreement in that meeting.

      • Brad Lyerla

        It would really be out of character for Hendricks to show emotion about the offense. I would rather believe that he was unhappy with himself. I also think JVW has hit on something with Maddon and Hendricks. I bet Maddon’s schtick does not work with Hendricks and Maddon, who is really into burnishing his own image, sees Hendricks as “not one of his guys”. I don’t have anything to back this up really. It’s just a possible explanation for why Maddon handles Hendricks differently.

  • Dork

    The offense is out of sync for sure – they are not getting the big hits so far, I would point out that 3 of the runs that were charged to Hendricks scored after he left the game.

    • CubbieBlue023

      Agreed. And Grimm is not my favorite either. Not on Miggy level yet but getting close. Reason being is that he does throw 94-95 but it’s straight as an arrow and he does not do a good job of hitting corners. Breaking ball is good. Even then if his command is off then hitters sit and attack the fastball.

      • Sherm

        I like Grimm – but his movement is affected by use. He’s a guy who needs to pitch a lot to be effective. Rest straightens out his fastball a little too much. When he’s hitting 95 – 97, it’s pretty straight. His 93-94stuff has tail.

  • Doug S.

    Schedule does not permit me to join you folks in SD this year. My plan B is the Cubs – Rockies series May 8, 9, 10. Got my tix. If anybody can recommend a sports bar in Denver, I’m listening.

    • Bryzzo1744

      Last night I booked my flight and hotel for SD, and got tix for Monday’s game in SD. I’m so excited to go to SD and not see my family. I can’t wait to see how enraged they get when I eventually tell them about this trip. A year from now. I have friends who live in Temecula (50 miles from where my uncle is), but I don’t want to stay with them because if I did that and didn’t stay with my family they would know something is very wrong.

      • Doug S.

        Not sure I’ve heard of that bar. They should consider shortening the name.

        Why bother telling them at all?

      • Bryzzo1744

        Because they don’t seem to realize how serious I am that I won’t ever see them again and only understand when I take extreme measures like this.

      • Sherm

        I don’t care

      • Seymour Butts

        About what?

      • No one does.

      • Doc Raker

        Don’t make decisions out of spite.

  • Doc Raker

    “Self, Zo and Miggy got big hits in inning 10 of game 7 in Cleveland. So be the loss today.”

    Miggy will not be on this roster come the playoffs.

    • Bryzzo1744

      Neither will Jhay

  • Doug S.

    Was advising friends that are Jays fans earlier today at 1-9, now 2-9 that they put together some Ws and things will be OK. But I can’t take that same advice after watching a 4-0 1st inning lead get gassed later on by the pen. Strop is not OK and needs Iowa or something. Duensing?? What the….

    • Dork

      Ugh what a disappointing lose today – how could the cubs not get anything elevated today – the Pirates sure seemed to be able to

    • Eddie Von White

      Strop – agree.

    • Sherm

      Watched the Cub feed – taped and “speed-viewed” really, but heard JD say this about Baez: (I can’t quote him exactly, so I’ll paraphrase) “highest 3-2 swing percentage in baseball last season…something like 90%. If I’m pitching I wouldn’t throw him a strike” Baez promptly swings at a slurve that was two feet outside…

      What is the bullpen missing? How about a veteran presence like Travis Wood? Strop is simply a moron. You can’t fix that. Was he wearing the ring while pitching?

      The lineup is all wrong. Schwarber is not a leadoff hitter. Bryant is not a 2 hitter. Zobrist is not a cleanup hitter. Pitchers should bat 9th. Enough with the quirky mad scientist Maddon-esque bullshit. Make a real lineup and go with it.

      And, this team is talented but not mature. They’re a long way from how good they can and will be…it’s simply a matter of how rough the waters will get between now and then.

      • Dork

        It is hard coming off the high of last year to get back into the grind that is the regular season – Madon mentioned it in the post game every loss could have been a win. They are certainly getting everyone’s best against them this year so far

      • Sherm

        Yeah – no more “upstart” or “Cinderella story.” Time to see what they are really made of.

      • Bryzzo1744

        First week jitters. Get it out of the system. This team is still the most talented team in the majors. Why is Schwarber not your leadoff hitter? He sees a lot of pitches, can really work the count and has a high OBP. Javy just has no discipline to be in the 1 or 2 spot. He’s been regressing since the NLCS which is a shame.

      • Dork

        The strikeouts have been piling up an schwarbs nice to see him be a bit more aggressive today