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April 2017

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COMMENTS

Organizational Recap – Bucs break out the brooms

Written by , Posted in General

BOX SCORE / HIGHLIGHTS / CONDENSED GAME

It didn’t take nearly long enough for the Cubs to suffer their first sweep of the season this year, and the weekend has been filled with some unsettling themes, most notably the inability of the bullpen to keep the opponent off the board late, as well as the absence of any rally when down late–something that seemed routine for last year’s squad.  Jon Lester did his best to hand the team a W, holding the Pirates scoreless in his 7 innings of work, and had a chance for a win himself only because Tommy La Stella–pinch-hitting for Lester–knocked in the only Cubs run in the home half of the 7th.

But then the 8th inning happened, with Koji Uehara allowing the first 4 batters to reach (2 walks, a single, and a double) before Joe Maddon decided to bring Hector Rondon into the now-tied game.  He very nearly got the next two guys out without any further damage (and probably would have, if Willson Contreras‘ legs were just a bit longer), but the would-be second out became a run-scoring fielder’s choice.  A batter later, Jason Heyward made a catch and an uncharacteristically wide throw that allowed the Bucs’ third run to score.  I want to say it ended there, and it did for that inning with the game at least in reach…but then came the 9th.

We won’t talk about the 9th, it hurts too much…

With the Cubs now back at .500 (6-6) following a rough weekend series, it’s fair to ask: is it time to start worrying about the Cubs?  Reflexively, I want to say yes, because a) things aren’t going well, and b) part of me has been waiting for the other shoe to drop since November.  Thinking about it logically though, I’m going to hold off on heading to the bunker, given that we’re not even 10% of the way through the season yet, and there are going to be bad times for any team (remember that rough patch before the All-Star Game last year?).

Bullpen Woes

The bullpen is the one area of the team that seems to be most often criticized, and where managers get the most criticism themselves.  Many times, its latching on to an opinion about a decision that doesn’t work out, but other times its a matter of anyone can see that a guy just isn’t pitching well.  And that’s where we take a look at Pedro Strop. In the games I’ve seen him come in, he seems to be either missing the zone entirely, or trying to get guys to swing at pitches intended to be out of the zone.  As a result, he’s walked more batters than have gotten a hit against him, and when hits have come, they’re going a really long way (2 of 3 hits to date have been round-trippers).  It’s hard to think, this early on, that there’s physically something wrong with Strop, unless it’s been a problem since late last year and has gone undetected by the team’s medical and training staffs; perhaps he’s just…not a good piece to keep around right now.

The rest of the bullpen has been…alright, but there’s definitely a need to be a little more careful, especially on days like Saturday (where even Jake was getting knocked around pretty good, relatively speaking) with the wind blowing out.  Koji Uehara got roughed up a bit today, coming out with the bases loaded (and being charged with some runs after he left the game), and has been better than I expected given his age.  Hector Rondon hasn’t been the same guy that was the closer until the Aroldis Chapman trade last year, but his ability to strike guys out is helping offset the number of opposing player getting on base against him.  We need these guys, in particular, to at least stay steady–if not improve–as the season rolls on, else there might be some rough seas ahead.

One (More) Last Hurrah

Just when we thought the end of the celebrating by the Cubs from the 2016 season was done, it looks as though there will be one last hurrah for three players who missed the first two celebrations (mostly because they signed with or got traded to Kansas City).  Before Monday’s game against the Brewers, pitchers Jason Hammel and Travis Wood, and outfielder Jorge Soler will make an off-day trip to Wrigley to pick up their hardware pre-game.  I’m as happy as anyone else that there are rings to be given out, and I never thought I’d find myself saying this, but can this please be it?

Controlling the Running Game

I’d previously been a little worried about the Cubs’ ability to control the running game.  Today pretty well took care of that for me, as Contreras decided to come out and do his best David Ross impression today, picking off David Freese at 1st and catching Josh Harrison stealing 2nd in the 7th inning, in addition to throwing out Jordy Mercer going for 2nd in the 1st inning.  He did allow one steal (notably, after Lester had left the game).  Granted, with the throws going down to second, only part of catching the runners is on Contreras–the middle infielders still have to do their part and get the tag on.  But, with a decent amount of traffic to work with out there today, I would say all involved acquitted themselves quite nicely.

Up Next

The Cubs close out their homestand starting Monday with another series against the Milwaukee Brewers.  The first series in Milwaukee went pretty well, with the Cubs taking two out of three in that set.  The first game will be a night game, featuring John Lackey on the mound against the Brewers’ Chase Anderson.  Neither player faced the other team during their first series.  First pitch is scheduled for 7:10p CST, with the game carried on CSN+ for TV and, as usual, 670 The Score for radio.

AAA – Iowa Cubs (vs Round Rock, W, 6-3)

One of the two Cubs’ farm teams in action Sunday, the I-Cubs beat Round Rock 6-3 at home.  Eddie Butler got the start today and gave 6 strong innings, giving up a pair of runs and striking out 3, continuing his strong start to the season.  Ian Happ went deep for the 6th time this year, and Jeimer Candelario was held hitless for the day. The I-Cubs are 6-5 on the year.

A-Adv – Myrtle Beach Pelicans (vs Lynchburg, L, 4-5)

Myrtle Beach were the other squad in action Sunday, and lost to Lynchburg 5-4 at home.  They had a bit of a rally going in the 9th, scoring a run on a balk with runners at 2nd and 3rd and 1 out.  The next two hitters went down to end the game with the tying run at 3rd.  The defending Carolina League champs find themselves at 5-6, 3 games out in the Southern division and closer to last than to first.

  • Brad Lyerla

    The most interesting thing about the game yesterday occurred in the top of the first. A rat ran/walked behind the home plate umpire crossing from the Cubs dugout side to the Pirates dugout side. The TV broadcast caught it. And no one said a word.

    • Doc Raker

      There is a rat problem in Wrigleyville with all the construction, 1000’s of rats have been displaced and the restaurants in Wrigleyville are having a heck of a time with all these rats running around Wrigleyville. The city and the Cubs know about this vermin problem so leave it to Len to cover for his employer and not bring attention to a not so pretty problem………Lame Len the corporate Shill, as expected.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Maybe Ozzie Guillen was right all those years he said there were rats in the clubhouse, including one the size of a pig.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        He was referring to himself on the last one.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Ozzie talks and acts like a clown, and when he was the Marlins manager, he got to look the part too

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        Arlington Heights had a similar problem of few years ago when they had a large construction project in their downtown area.

    • Bryzzo1744

      Do you have a tape of it?

      • I’ve got the cassette. Again, they don’t say anything.

    • Buddy

      You mean Len didn’t use it as an opportunity to talk about the band Ratt? I’m shocked!

    • Maybe it was a Carrie Muskrat.

      • Sherm

        OUTSTANDING!!!

  • Doug S.

    Cubs feed yesterday. Right after Schwarbs slides past 2nd, JD suggests there could be a challenge. Almost right on cue, they did. Out. JD later suggested that the Cubs could have challenged the Fowler slide. They didn’t. Could not find a replay of the slide, but it’s history now.

    • Brad Lyerla

      Actually, that was interesting too. But the slides were different. Schwarber slid way past the bag. Made no effort to maintain contact with second. That showed that his goal was not to advance safely, but to take out the fielder. Under the new rule, he was out.
      Fowler’s slide was way outside the direct path to second and he swiped Russell with the leg with apparent intent. I thought Fowler would have been out even under the old rule, if there had been a replay. But I did not fault Joe for not challenging. Fowler was trying to establish that he is now a Cardinal. And it was OK in my mind for Joe to look the other way.

      • Eddie Von White

        I was not ok with Joe not challenging. It made him look like a Fowler-loving wimp.

      • Brad Lyerla

        I can see that too. But Fowler is not dirty player. Supposedly, he said sorry to Rizzo as he left the field.

  • Bryzzo1744

    After this 3 game set with Milwaukee, I think the 2016 celebrations can finally be put to bed. First homestand of the year done, and a 9-game road trip. Then Chapman, Fowler, and Cahil are the only players who will have not gotten their 2016 rings, unless I’m missing someone. Chapman will get his when the Yankees come to town, Cahil can get his when the Cubs go to San Diego, and Fowler will get his when the shitbirds come to town. Even though Fowler plays for the enemy, he deserves an ovation. He didn’t leave voluntarily, and the championship doesn’t happen without him.

    • Eddie Von White

      He’s a Cardinal now. No ovations for Cardinals.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Normally I would agree, but this is different. He would be deserving of the boo-birds if we offered him a similar contract and he decided to join the enemy. It’s business first, and it works both ways. Just like the Cubs have to do what’s best for them, Fowler does too.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        He is accepting the Ring as a Former Cub, after that he is a hated enemy and should be booed as necessary.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Agreed. Just like everyone else on the shitbirds, he stands in our way of winning another championship.

      • Eddie Von White

        I will give him a standing O when he comes back to the Cubs as a coach. But now it is business as usual – no cheers for a Cardinal.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Eddie Von Boo-Bird

  • Adam Peters

    It didn’t affect the outcome of the game, but we saw again yesterday Zobrist’s shortcomings as a right fielder turn a ball that Heyward catches easily into a triple. I don’t know what the answer is, but this can’t go on.

    • Sherm

      Oh, but it will. Because Joe loves versatility and that means it doesn’t matter if people play positions at which they are less than capable. It’s in the DOING it that makes him a genius, and he likes to be the talk of the town. It’s gotten to the point where he CAN’T do anything that says “normal baseball” because his press clippings say otherwise. That’s the downfall of an eccentric manager. They always succumb to their own eccentricity.

      I like that he’s “loose” and creates such an atmosphere for the team, especially the younger players, but I’m not sold on his baseball genius. He won a world series last year DESPITE himself, not because of his managerial wizardry. If anything, the wizard was Theo Epstein who filled his bag of tricks so full of talent that, well, you know the rest.

      That said? Theo may have mis-judged the value of a true lead off hitter. Time will tell.

      • Brad Lyerla

        Maddon is a strange man. It likely was unintended, but an odd side of Maddon’s personality comes out in Tom Verducci’s new book, THE CUBS WAY. Been slammed at work. But I will try to write up something on the book when my turn comes up next. It is pretty good. I think you would like it.

      • Dork

        I am second guessing the leadoff hitter thing too. I thought going in that I loved the Swarbs/bryant/rizz first inning, but It sure has not worked out so far. There was the 4 spot they put up on Sat, that was nice for a while. so maybe it is an overreaction to other things, but I think I might look at switching zo and swarbs at some point.

      • Sherm

        They’ve gone from “you go, we go” to “oh no, he slow”

    • Doug S.

      I’m all for Heyward in right provided his bat talks and Almora in CF most of the time. That leaves LF. – Zo? Schwarbs? Neither is a natural. I don’t know what the answer is either.

      • Sherm

        One thing that we know for certain, after seeing a little over a year of Jason Heyward in a Cub uniform and the entire body of work in that time. He’s a GREAT right fielder.

        So…let’s not play him there.

      • cap’n realist

        he uncorked an ungodly shitty throw from out there yesterday. Contreras got blamed, but that throw was absolute garbage. He’s a GOOD right fielder, but the great ones don’t make mistakes like that.

      • Sherm

        Easiest mistake to make in the game of baseball is a bad throw. Happens to everyone at some point, and hasn’t happened to Heyward much. In my book, he’s a great right fielder. Who’s better in the game today?

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        And for some like Sammy Sosa it happens all the time.

      • cap’n realist

        Sammy Sosa hasn’t made a throw that bad since 2007….

      • Bryzzo1744

        I remember the time he threw the ball into the stands thinking there were 3 outs when there were only 2. There was a runner on base and it allowed the runner to score. Cubs lost by 1.

      • Doug S.

        Yes – Heyward at 1B. Big guy, long arms, great glove – nothing gets past him. And bat him leadoff. Every player grows into the spot they’re slotted in, but not without pain.

    • cap’n realist

      He looked lost prior to that on a fly ball to the track. He made the catch, but he looked like Schwarber making it.

    • Brad Lyerla

      Agree. Zobrist gives up a lot in RF. McCutcheon’s triple is an automatic out if Heyward is in RF instead of Zo.

    • Bryzzo1744

      We need to trade away either Zobrist or Heyward so Happ and Caldermio can play on the MLB team.

  • Dork

    I really think they need to solve the Lastella/Szczur issue. They are probably one bullpen piece short and it is showing. Especially with 40+ year olds in the pen. Lastella and Szczur each have 4 plate appearances through 12 games not enough to carry both.

    • Sherm

      I like Matt Szczur, but it’s not like I’m interviewing for a new neighbor…so he’s got to go simply because LaStella hits from the left and they have a glut of outfielders as it is.

      He’s probably good enough to start on some teams – and I’d look for a trading partner that might be able to offer something in return, but strictly as a “character” move…let him go someplace and play. Re: LaStella? Once we don’t need him? I’d kick him to the curb for last year’s shenanigans. End of story. Or teach him to play catcher. Can’t be worse than Montero.

  • Dork

    I think Strop is fine by the way – it is a small sample and will level out, but he does need to limit the walks. Hell the whole bullpen needs to limit the walks, FYI – you have the best defense in baseball behind you.

    • Eddie Von White

      I think as the year progresses, Strop will prove you wrong. He’s not that fine.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        What do the spread sheets say they are the only thing that matters.

      • Eddie Von White

        The spread sheets say the opposite of what the eyes see.

  • Dork

    I guess I am talkative this morning maybe I should have written the recap – The pirates have to be feeling good after only wining 4 games against the cubs last year. Was this an emotional let down after playing the Dodgers? A team that going in you think is going to be the team that you face in the playoffs? is that the emotions of a defending champion playing out by overlooking your next opponent?

    • Sherm

      Dork von Chatty

      • Dork

        One of the best things about baseball is today offers another game!

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        Dork the Philosopher

      • Eddie Von White

        I think you meant to say Dork Von Philosopher.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        My Vons don’t get me Lizzie’s.

      • Jerry Wiscons Von

      • cap’n realist

        you guys are ruining my good von thing.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        Like all market inefficiencies, the market eventually catches up, and the profit margin will go down. Enjoy the profits you reaped, and congrats on your finding.

  • Doc Raker

    The bullpen blew it but we aren’t scoring runs. Another bases loaded 1 out opportunity with Bryant and Rizzo up and we don’t get a run in. The offense needs to put line drives into play, our BABIP is abysmal…bad luck…..I think not.

    • Sherm

      Other than the bullpen and the offense? They’re playing GREAT

      • Dork

        Exactly! If the starters could just go 9 – Wimps

      • Sherm

        Where’s Fergie Jenkies when you need him?

        My one time at fantasy camp – I was lucky enough to have a locker next to Fergie. We discussed the pitchers today and the short “quality start” thought, and he said the big difference is conditioning. The guys today train differently than he did, for different types of strength, and using different muscle sets. He said it’s a completely different way of going about the same business as when he played. Plus, he said that most of today’s pitchers are pussies*.

        *I can edit that to “wussies” if anyone is offended…but it’s what he said.

        By the way – he had consecutive YEARS with 30+ complete games…

      • Eddie Von White

        If you edit that, then you become a wuss.

      • Sherm

        As I’m sure you know by now? I never filter or censor anything…

        I was just curious to see if anyone would ask me to!

        I agree with you, Eddie Von First Amendment

      • Bryzzo1744

        This country wasn’t built on nice guys. It was built on winners who didn’t give a FUCK about people’s feelings.

      • Sherm

        That might be your strategy, and from what I’ve learned about you – perhaps it is; but it sure isn’t mine. I think there were plenty of nice guys and kind, generous people who were part of the foundation of this country, and I’m thankful for them.

        There’s really nothing more important THAN caring about other people’s feelings when you boil it down to it’s simplest. Maybe if and when you mature, you’ll realize that. I hope so.

      • Bryzzo1744

        It’s an expression. Besides, attacking the British on Xmas is nice? Burning the South in the name of the law is nice?

      • Dork

        How about giving people the right to be treated equal and giving people that disagree with you the right to say so?

      • Adam Peters

        Acts of war aren’t typically categorized as “nice.”

        Besides, the south had it coming to them. They could use another beat down if you ask me.

      • Bryzzo1744

        I agree with you on the South 100%. As a Buckeye fan, we use Sherman as a symbol of our hated of the SEC, since Sherman was from the great state of Ohio.

      • Bryzzo1744

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d4a3b8cfc7d5fc9f2071a6d24aa66bb7825d608a7bb7509bade0de9767bd48fb.jpg

        We’d be better off letting them secede from the union. They should have never been re-admitted to the union.

      • Sherm

        One of, if not, the, most idiotic thing you’ve ever said.

      • Agreed.

      • Dork

        I do think there is a line in a normal functioning society. Just one dork’s opinion though.

      • Doc Raker

        He had 5 years of 20+ wins, in one year in which he had 20+ wins he had 5 losses of 1-0. He could of had 25 + wins if he had an offense that could score a run or two in those games.

  • Buddy

    Not worried at all. The April schedule looked pretty rough to me. If the Cubs are .500 or better on May 1st I will be satisfied. Also, it’s WAY to early to draw any meaningful conclusions about almost anything in MLB so far. Even if the Cubs are .500 on June 1st (which they won’t be), I won’t be panicking.

    • Dork

      I think you are right in that there is nothing to see here, but it is the hard thing about the grind of the regular season. I am finding it particularly hard this year after the cubs cruised through last year and then the do and die nature of the championship run.

      • Buddy

        April is a tough month for all baseball fans. If somebody completely sucks for the first few weeks (like Russell Martin), fans are ready to send him packing. If somebody is ripping the cover off the ball the first few weeks (like Eric Thames), fans are thinking MVP. It’s even worse from a team standpoint. I’m sure Blue Jay fans are losing their minds right now after Toronto’s 2-10 start. I guess the good news and bad news for us Cub fans is that we’re pretty spoiled. There is so much talent on this team that it’s hard to keep realistic expectations, especially early in the season.

  • Dork

    In other organizational health issues – Ian Happ and Jemier Candelario are making big statements in AAA so far. Eddie Butler has been very good and so has Dylan Cease (though further away) on the pitching side. Keep it up boys!

    • Anyone know how Pierced Johnson is looking?

      • Dork

        With no wood you have to have a Johnson on the team.

      • Dork

        4.2 innings pitched 8K’s 3 walks era 3.86 whip 1.24. Just like always – like the k rate hate the walk rate.

      • Doug S.

        Just noticed the specs on Frankenswanson.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        I would say a little holey.

  • Bryzzo1744

    When we are in San Diego, I will have a Fire Len Kasper sign, and it will have a plug for VFTB.

    • Sherm

      Who’s bringing the plug for you?

      • Bryzzo1744

        I will. I just need to know where the quarter goes.

      • Buddy

        So what should the sign say? We need a clever VFTB catch phrase for you to include.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Fire Len Kasper
        ViewFromTheBleachers.com

      • Buddy

        OK, good start. Here are some more to add to the list of contenders…

        “VFTB…it’s not just for breakfast anymore”
        “What choo talkin bout VFTB?”
        “VFTB say relax”
        “My parents went to Florida and all I got was VFTB”
        And my personal favorite…”If I said you had a nice VFTB, would you hold it against me?”

      • Bryzzo1744

        Let’s keep it PG. Cap’n Realist will be bringing his 8 year old to one of the games

      • Sherm

        I’m guessing that Joe would prefer those two items be on two separate signs. In separate sections. Out of respect, you might want to ask him before you do something like that.

      • Bryzzo1744

        I could put one on each side of the posterboard.

      • Joe Aiello

        Agree 100%, especially because I happen to LIKE Len Kasper [Ducks to avoid flying tomatoes]

      • Adam Peters

        Is that VFTB in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

      • Adam Peters

        “That sure is a long VFTB post.

        That’s what she said!”

      • Buddy

        “Hasta la VFTB, baby!”
        “I love the smell of VFTB in the morning”
        “Yipee ki yay, VFTB!”

      • Sherm

        How about this?

        “Got inane banter?”
        We do: Viewfromthebleachers.com

      • Doug S.

        Love it. Fine print – Occasional and sometimes accidental baseball discussion.

      • Buddy

        I was in a band in college called Inane Banter. We rocked.

      • Joe Aiello

        I suggest “It’s funny cause I call him Barry”

      • Bryzzo1744

        Lizzie should add that to her guide for the noobs

      • No thanks. Because (hate to break it to you) it’s not funny.

    • Joe Aiello

      I can’t wait