View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



May 2017



Three Strikes – Theo Backs His Boy, Solid Team Win for Maddon’s 1000th

Written by , Posted in General

Strike One – If you’re selling, Theo’s buying!

Before the game, Theo Epstein was asked about Kyle Schwarber‘s struggles, and responded accordingly. “If anyone wants to sell their Kyle Schwarber stock, we’re buying,” Epstein continued, “He’s going to have tremendous production at the end of the year. He’s going to have a lot of big hits to help us win games.” The President’s confidence in his 2014 first round pick paid dividends tonight as Kyle broke out of a 0-17 slump with the longest homer of his career (462 ft). With 1 out in the 2nd, Kyle deposited a 1-0 hanger into the top of the right-center bleachers. At 107 MPH off the bat, this one didn’t need much help from the howling Wrigley winds. Kyle would add another hit, this time a single down the left field line to put runners at the corners with one out. He scored a few batters later on a bases loaded walk from Ian Happ. When asked if his home run felt any different, being that it was the longest of the 22 in his young career, the slugger snickered and said “It doesn’t feel any different at all, a home run’s a home run. It can hit the basket .. or it can go out of the stadium. It’s always a good feeling.” A question about whether or not it gets old answering the same questions over and over about early season struggles prompted a curious look and some heartfelt laughter from Kyle and the reporters around him. After an emphatic, yet lighthearted, “NO!” he explained, “I’m still learning everyday, baseball throws me different things everyday. You gotta learn not to change anything and just kinda stick with that process of what’s been working, it’s always rewarding when that happens.”

Strike Two – Solid Team Win

The game got off to a typical 2017 start, with the Cubs coming to the plate in the first already chasing a run. A cheerful John Lackey after the game said, “Terrible night to pitch, wind blowing at 100 miles an hour and it was hot.” Luckily his 5.1 innings were better than Bronson Arroyo‘s 5.0, the offense came alive after struggling to score over the weekend in St. Louis, and the bullpen was able to hold it down. Koji Uehara got his first taste of the summer breeze at Wrigley, thankfully it was on a night that the Cubs scored early and often. Thirteen hits, including home runs by Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, Addison Russell, and Anthony Rizzo helped put nine runs on the board in centerfield. Aside from the runs, an important thing to note is that the cubs only went down in order one of the eight offensive innings (4th), and scoring runs in all but two innings (3rd, 4th). This is more like the team we saw in 2016, and that’s a good way to kickoff a 10-game home stand against manageable teams in the Reds, Brewers, and struggling Giants. The wind played a factor in some strange defensive plays, including a dropped ball by Willson Contreras in foul territory, and a bloop single surrounded by four fielders unable to make a play. These and some more bloop hits add to the team’s struggles converting fly balls into outs, yet another area the expectations set by 2016 have put on the early season hot seat. Willson did redeem himself from the error with another pick off in the 4th inning. Relievers Hector Rondon, Carl Edwards Jr., and Wade Davis combined for 2.2 scoreless.

Strike Three – Maddon’s Milestone

It has been a long and winding road for Cub’s manager Joe Maddon, but I am certain he wouldn’t trade any of it for the finest wine you could offer. His first win in Major League Baseball came as an interim manager in 1996 with the Angels. He would collect seven more before the end of the season, and 27 total in various stints as interim, before settling down as bench coach for Mike Scioscia in 1999. It wasn’t until 2006 that Maddon would become a full time manager, when he got his shot with the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He would go on to win 754 games over 9 years, including an AL Pennant in 2008. After 200 combined over the first two years in Chicago, he entered 2017 just 19 away from 1000, something 62 managers had done before him, eight of which are still active. If you asked anybody familiar with this Cubs team, most would probably have projected the win to come much earlier than Mid-May, and it would have put the team out of reach in the division race, rather than get them back to .500. But baseball doesn’t always work the way fan’s expect it, and for whatever rhyme or reason, Joe’s milestone came on May 16th 2017, on a 9-5 win against the Cincinnati Reds. Congrats, Joe. Here’s to a thousand more.

May 15 – AAA – Iowa Cubs (15-21) Lost 10 to 5

CF – John Anderoli – 3 for 4, 2 2B, 2 R, BB

RF – Chesny Young – 4 for 5, R, RBI

LF – Mark Zagunis – 2 for 5, 2B, R, RBI

May 16 – (16-21)  – Won 8 to 7 in 10 innings

SP – Brooks – 5 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 3 HR

RF – Weeks – 0 for 3, 2 BB, 2 R – Scored game winning run on Sac Fly

May 15 – AA – Tennessee Smokies (22-16) Lost 7 to 3

SS – Andrew Ely – 2 for 4, RBI, BB

SP – Preston Morrison – 6 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K

May 16 – (23-16) Won 7 to 1

CF – Charcer Burks – 1 for 2, HR, R, 3 RBI

SP – Duane Underwood Jr. – 5 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K

May 15 – A-Adv – Myrtle Beach Pelicans (21-17) Lost 4 to 2

DH – Eloy Jimenez – 2 for 4, HR, R, RBI

SP – Ryan Kellogg – 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

May 16 – (21-18) Lost 5 to 1

C – Tyler Alamo – 2 for 4, RBI

RP – Marc Huberman – 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 K

  • Dork

    The coffee tastes better this morning – I have had a feeling that the cubs would do well on this homestand hope this is a sign of things – 1 down lets get some more.

    • Doug S.

      Spreadsheet looks way better this morning as well. I don’t want to tell you what kind of ugly colors, etc I use for sub .500 records. Nice to see the bombs away last night.

  • Joe Aiello

    I just want to throw this out there. I kept score on paper (yes, I’m a dork like that) while watching the game on my couch last night. The other time I did this season was Friday. Both games: Wins. Just throwing it out there.

    I’m going to continue to support the Schwarber as leadoff man campaign, and not because he had a HR last night. When I look at the other options on this team, I don’t see anyone who wows me. Schwarber has the propensity to work deep counts, something you want from the first guy in the game, and he draws the walks. Right now the balls just aren’t finding holes, but he’s not a sub .200 hitter, and if you believe he is, you’re crazy. If you add 50-60 points onto his batting average, he’s approaching a .400 OBP, which is what I want from my leadoff guy. Give him a chance. He’ll come around.

    I wasn’t impressed with Lackey, but it was a tough night to pitch. He did enough to keep us ahead in the game on a night where anything in the air had a chance to go out of the park. He’s a veteran 4th starter, and I’ll take that kind of night, given the circumstances, any night of the week.

    Lastly, the more I watch Ian Happ, the more I believe he is the future 2B on this team. I’m beginning to lean toward moving Javier Baez for a cost controlled SP before the deadline, which pains me because I love Javy. Happ just seems so much more polished at the plate.

    • cap’n realist

      What’s been infuriating to me lately is Rizzo’s lazy defense. Contreras got stuck with an error last night trying to catch a foul pop up more than halfway up the 1B line…and Rizzo is jogging in after it. Then Contreras had to make a great catch late in the game on a fair ball, again, should have been Rizzo’s ball. He seems to be half assing everything on defense, and still looks lousy at the plate. Lackey cracks me up. He NEVER throws a ball. Every time one is called, he loses his mind. Last night, he’s all pissed, buries a slider in the dirt with 2 outs, and gives up a dumb run on a wild pitch. Then cusses all the way to the dugout. How many times have we seen this act? This isn’t championship level baseball. It’s great that Lackey is a veteran and all, and I love that they show pics of Rizzo visiting sick children seemingly every day, but it’s time to put up on the field.

      On a positive note, I like Bryant in RF a lot more than Zobrist. I also like Bryant at 3B, but him in RF and Baez/Happ at 2nd and 3rd might not be a terrible option moving forward. I also liked the idea of Rondon pitching the 6th, and Edwards the 8th. Rondon’s mistake pitches are less damaging when the Cubs still have 9 outs to work with at the plate. I’m thrilled with Wade Davis. I feel more confident with him out there in the 9th than I ever did with Chapman. There are things to be positive about, but also a lot of room for improvement.

      • Bryzzo1744

        I’d agree with this assessment. That’s the best way to put it so far the state of affairs on the North Side.

      • I wouldn’t pelt trash at that assessment either.

      • Dork

        I really liked seeing Edwards in the 8th also – I think he has earned it. Then work you way back from there however you want.

      • Doc Raker

        How do you feel about KAPSBABIP Little League stats?

      • cap’n realist

        about the same as your Randy Camp stats.

      • Doc Raker

        I raked at Randy’s camp

    • Dork

      I am still with the Swearbs leading off as the best option. He will get going, he is too good of a hitter not to, I know the track record is small but I do believe that.

      • Doc Raker

        I would like to see him beat the shift with some bunts or learn how to hit the other way a bit. If he makes them play him straight up he will be much more productive.

    • Doc Raker

      I want polished at the plate, those are the guys that beat aces. The unpolished hacker beat mediocre pitching only, see bAez verse Strickland 9th inning 0-2 count game 4 of the NLDS. “Why would you throw him anything close to the plate on an 0-2 count?” Giant Nation

      • Eddie Von White

        Why would you ever throw bAez a strike?

      • cap’n realist

        3 ball counts. That’s the only time.

    • Eddie Von White

      If you’re going to add 50-60 points onto one guy’s batting average, then you have to do it to all of them. Imagine what the OBP would be on this team if everybody’s batting average was 60 points higher. Doug and Dork couldn’t size up a spreadsheet like that.

      • Joe Aiello

        Right but we both know Schwarber is not a .200 hitter so it’s not unreasonable to assume that when the dust settles, the average will be at least .250 or .260

      • ..still waiting for Carl’s Von Jr’s weight to normalize to something greater than 135

      • I’m not much or a spreadsheet guy, but presumably the D’s could just shift-select and do a “+60” or something.

  • Doug S.

    Serious question…….
    Assuming Schwarbs stays – is he young, talented and athletic enough to grow into a good mid-tier left fielder? Opinions?

    • If Schwarbs plays solid defense, takes proper routes, makes strong throws, gets good jumps on balls, fields cleanly, and hits cutoff men, then yes.

      • Doug S.

        What about throwing the ball into the stands with 2 out and a man on base?

      • Oh, you mean like Sammy. 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.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Hasbro did that too

      • cap’n realist

        I remember when he threw the ball off the upper deck facade over 3b from right field, trying to throw out a runner going from first to third on a single. That was when he weighed slightly more than Carl’s Jr. Does now.

      • I bet that was powerful enough to ruffle the middle infielders’ mullets.

  • Doug S.

    Wasn’t looking for more convincing…. Jettisoned WGN after those idiots continued to talk nonsense. Reds broadcast at least has a baseball feel to it.

  • Doug S.

    Can we please let the Strop experience be archived with the Marmol experience?

    • Eddie Von White