View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



May 2017



Three Strikes – It Happ-ened!

Written by , Posted in General

I took some time to sleep in Saturday, and woke up early afternoon thinking I had missed at least part of the game. Luckily for me, it was a 3pm start, so I didn’t miss a thing, except a little bit of news coming down the pipeline–that human dinger machine Ian Happ would be getting called up, and making his first start Saturday afternoon.  It was the sort of thing that some had been speculating about happening since Spring Training, but the current number of banged-up Cubs made it somewhat necessary to do now.  More on that later.

STRIKE ONE – Happ does Happ Things

So, how did Happ’s Major-league debut go? Not too bad, as it turned out.  He struck out* his first time up, and worked a nice walk the next time around.  He got on base for the first time in the 5th on a Matt Carpenter error, only to end up causing a double play on an Anthony Rizzo grounder, courtesy of the slide rule.  And then in the 7th, everyone got what they were looking for, as Happ hit a 2-run shot for his first MLB hit, first MLB homer, and first MLB RBIs, and the Cubs’ last runs of the game.  All told, not a bad debut for the kid, though at some point he’ll be heading back to Iowa.  Maybe.

STRIKE TWO – State of the Roster

The fact that Happ came up today was more a matter of necessity than anything else; with Addison Russell nursing a sore shoulder that has kept him from the field, Ben Zobrist and Jon Jay nursing a sore back, and Kris Bryant having come down with a stomach ailment, the Cubs would have had a bench consisting of Addison Russell to maybe pinch hit (with Contreras in the outfield, and Montero catching), and who knows after that if Happ (or someone else) doesn’t come up.  Sooner or later, if guys aren’t getting well enough to be out there, the front office is going to have to explore putting some folks on the DL; given that the DL is down to 10 days, and you can still put a guy on retroactively, this isn’t going to be a big deal.

STRIKE THREE – Lester Almost Goes Deep

Jon Lester, he who didn’t have a hit to his name until 2015, and who executed the famed 12th inning walk-off bunt in 2016, almost beat Happ to his first career regular season homer.  Yes, he did hit one in Spring Training last year, but that doesn’t really count–but it does show that he CAN do it.  And, if he’d gotten that one to really ANY other part of Busch stadium, it would have gone out.  Instead, it bounced off the wall in front of Dexter Fowler for an RBI double that felt a little closer than it should have been on the throw.  That run held up for all of an inning before the wheels fell off.

AAA: Iowa @ Salt Lake (L, 5-4)

Game in progress as of this writing, in the I-Cubs’ first game following Happ’s call to the big league club.  Bear in mind, they’re also missing Jeimer Candelario at the moment as well. Iowa starter Seth Frankoff has given the I-Cubs 6 full innings, having given up 3 runs on 3 hits, with 2 walks and 6 Ks. Offensively, Chesny Young has a 2-hit game so far, but otherwise the bats are pretty well silent.  3 innings to go, though, so that could change.

AA: Tennessee v Montgomery (L, 3-1)

Jen-Ho Tseng turned in a pretty good start, taking a tough loss; he gave the Smokies 7 innings of 1-run ball, striking out 3 without a walk.  The Smokies didn’t get on board until the 9th though, by which point the Biscuits had added on 2 runs to make it a 3-run game.  The Smokies are still doing alright on the year, with a 22-14 record and lead their division at the moment.

A-Adv: Myrtle Beach v Lynchburg (PPD, weather)

Mother nature strikes again, postponing this one.  There is still news for the Pelicans, though: Eloy Jimenez has been activated and will get his first game action of the year with the Cubs’ High-A squad…when the weather cooperates.

A: South Bend @ Peoria (W, 4-0)

The organization’s lone W of the day is brought to us by the South Bend Cubs by way of a shutout of the Cubs’ former A-ball affiliate in Peoria.  Jose Paulino started for the Cubs, giving 6 shutout innings, scattering 6 hits and a walk along with 3 Ks. Wladimir Galindo drove in the only runs needed in the first, but struck out 3 times in the game; despite that, he’s still batting .321 on the year.

  • Sherm

    Good for Happ, but I find no consolation in home runs during losses.

    Maddon now is spending too much time marinating over the slide rule and not enough time thinking and re-thinking about the other things this team needs. By the letter of the law (rule) the call was correct. If you don’t like, lobby to change it in the offseason. And by the way, reverse the call and they lose 5-4, so…

    Comparisons to Derek Jeter are less likely after Schwarber’s muff on Carpenter’s foul ball. Fortunately, Lester bailed him out. Speaking of Carpenter? Abe Lincoln called. He wants his beard back.

    Speaking of Schwarber? He’s now hitting .185. The entire Mendoza family is celebrating.

    Speaking of Schwarber? He’s saving Binny a shitload of money.

  • Brad Lyerla

    I am frustrated:

    What is the real story with Bryant? Missing two games after a day off with a stomach ailment? That does not sound right.

    Keep Happ on the big league roster for a while. Let him play 2d. Maybe he can jump start the offense a bit.

    Shake things up.

    When Russell returns, platoon LaStella and Baez at third for a while. Put KB in left for a week or two. I think Bryant is proud of his versatility. Let him show it off.

    Kyle needs a change. Riz too. Alternate Schwarbs and Riz at first for a stretch.

    When is Heyward expected to return? When he doe, rotate Almora, Heyward and Zo. Make guys focus. Don’t let them assume that they will be in the line up.

    • Doc Raker

      I am sure Len will tell you the real story about KB and everything else. The real story straight from the front office to you through Len the corporate mouth piece. People do get sick and stomach ailments can leave you weak and dehydrated so missing a few days over an ailment that has you expelling from both ends seems very possible. With that said I have no idea if KB expelled anything from any end, just conjecture and I am sure Seymour M.D. can tell us more about the prognosis of stomach ailments.

    • Joe Aiello

      Come on guys, can’t a guy not feel well every now and then? Haven’t you had a bad stomach bug? Bryant doesn’t drink, so he’s not hungover or anything else.

      The team is not playing well, but my god, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Netflix and Chill.

  • Doc Raker

    Let’s give the Cardinal fans credit, many of them were applauding when Ian Happ hit his first major league home run against them. There are some fans with class in St Louis. I always said the Cubs Cards rivalry is not malicious like Yanks Red Sox.

    I would like to see what Happ can do at the big league level. If he is better than the free swinging bAez than by all means go get some pitching with bAez as the bAit.

    • Bryzzo1744

      I’m with you it’s time to give up on Baez.

  • Bryzzo1744

    Cubs down 4-0 in the 3rd. In other news, the sun rose today

  • Sherm

    So, I’m listening to the Chicago broadcast team today, and Len and JD did bring up a very good point. Nah…I’m kidding, they didn’t bring up any good points.

    I do have some points, however, and am prepared to share:

    1. The Cubs lost today because of the slide rule yesterday. Must be that, because they are still talking about it, and really? Who cares?

    2. I could NOT watch the Cardinal broadcast for one reason, and one reason only. Waino. Even typing it makes me cringe. Hearing it is worse. Some nicknames I can tolerate. That one? Apparently not.

    3a. I read where Joe Maddon is very pleased with Kyle Schwarber because he is “fouling balls straight back.” Okay. On THIS planet? Here’s a tip: HIT IT THE OTHER WAY. Maybe they are preparing space for him in the “Fouling balls back HOF.” Or not.

    3b. Schwarber is now batting .179. What’s the upside to that you ask? He’s going to get a LOT of at bats. Oh, wait.

    3c. I love Kyle Schwarber as much as the next guy. As long as the next guy isn’t Raker. BUT – come on, Cubs. It’s time to send him down to Iowa for at bats that matter a lot less and for some instructional work on hitting the ball the other way. See #3a.

    I know it’s “only” May. I know “this is a marathon, not a sprint.” I know that “slumps happen.” But holy hell – the outlook right now, in my very cluttered head, is that this team does not make the playoffs. That’s NOT a knee-jerk reaction. That’s a reaction to having watched them play most of their 37 games thus far, and not seeing a cohesive, well-managed team that can execute as a team must do. Many of the wins are come from behind, and that speaks to their overall talent, sure, but they shouldn’t have been behind in many of those games. I’m not as frustrated as I am disappointed.


    What? This isn’t Twitter?


    • Doc Raker

      This is not a playoff team, no question. Disappointing.

      • Joe Aiello

        You do understand that it’s the same team as last year, correct?

      • Huh. Oddly I can’t remember Schwarber being the leadoff hitter last year. I must be getting old. 😉

      • Sherm

        Since 1969? 25 World Series winners didn’t make the playoffs the following season. In most cases, the team wasn’t dramatically different than the one that had won it all the prior season.

        Why? I don’t know. Maybe some sort of let down. Maybe everyone else ramps it up more against them. Maybe it’s just really hard to do…but whatever the “bug” is…it has hit this Cub team and they need to get right or they could easily be on the outside looking in this postseason.

        Examples of late: 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 (Giants, Giants, Red Sox, Giants and Royals, respectively.)

      • Bryzzo1744

        I wonder how the World Series loser has done as well the following year. I think a huge factor is the fact that the World Series teams have to play an extra month of games, and also have a shortened off-season. It’s a double whammy. More games and less time to recover.

      • Sherm

        I can’t believe I’m saying this, but interesting point. I’d like to know how the losing team does, too. You have a research assignment – go for it.

      • Bryzzo1744

        I’ll go back to 2003:
        2003: Marlins beat Yankees. Marlins miss playoffs, Yankees blow 3-0 lead to Sawks in 2004
        2004: Red Sox beat shitbirds. Red Sox make the playoffs on the final day of the season, get swept by the trash in round 1. Shitbirds lose the NLCS in 7 in 2005
        2005: Trash beat Astros. Both teams missed the playoffs in 2006
        2006: Shitbirds beat the Tigers. Both teams miss the playoffs in 2007
        2007: Red Sox beat Rockies. Red Sox lose ALCS in 7 games to Maddon’s Rays, Rockies miss the playoffs in 2008
        2008: Phillies beat Tampa. Philies lose the World Series, Tampa misses the playoffs in 2009.
        2009: Yankees beat Phillies. Yankees and Philies eliminated in LCS in 2010
        2010: Giants beat Rangers. Giants miss the playoffs, Rangers lose the World Series again in 2011 to the Shitbirds.
        2011: See above. Shitbirds lose in the NLCS, Rangers eliminated in the wild card game in 2012
        2012: Giants beat Tigers. Giants miss the playoffs, Tigers eliminated in the ALCS in 2013
        2013: Red Sox beat the shitbirds. Red Sox miss the 2014 playoffs, shitbirds eliminated in the NLCS
        2014: Giants beat the Royals. Giants miss the playoffs, Royals win the 2015 World Series
        2015: Royals beat the Mets. Royals miss the playoffs in 2016, Mets eliminated in Wild Card game.