Hitting is Contagious
News broke early in the day that Anthony Rizzo was going to be batting leadoff on Tuesday. The move smelled like a bit of desperation to me. Luckily, it wasn’t the only thing I had wrong on the night. Rizzo hit the second pitch of the game to dead center, over 450 feet by my estimation, to get the Cubs on the board early.
Unfortunately, Cubs pitchers in the first inning are like the kids game, Mad Libs.
__(last name)__ pitched very __(verb)__ and gave __(name of city)__ an early run(s).
Jon Lester escaped the first giving up only one run. In the second inning, the Cubs showed some patience by drawing some walks as well as getting the second hit in as many nights from a pitcher. Kyle Schwarber walked, Lester slapped a hit into left (why can’t some of our “real” hitters use that approach), and then Albert Almora took a four pitch walk to bring up the new leadoff man, Rizzo. After two quick strikes, Rizzo battled back to draw a walk and make it 2-1 Cubs.
In the first inning, I was internally thinking that it might be time to send Ian Happ back down to Iowa to keep working on his game. Wrong again, Happ drove a ball over the fence in left-center for a grand slam to give the Cubs a 6-1 lead. The big inning continued as Kris Bryant, Jason Heyward, and Addison Russell all picked up hits to throw up a very crooked number seven on the board and make it 8-1.
The Cubs continued to add-on and it quickly became a much needed laugher. The Cubs, behind five home runs (Rizzo, Happ, Heyward, Bryant, and Javier Baez) defeated the Mets 14-3 and snapped a nine game road losing streak.
So Lester and the bats helped the Cubs creep back to the .500 mark. If the Cubs were a stock they would certainly be something like Hertz (HTZ). It had a great run in a prior year but is now mired in mediocrity. When evaluating these kinds of stocks, fund managers (and some individuals) look at the strength of management and specifically, see if there were major changes that has led to the stock’s decline.
I would say that there haven’t really been major internal changes with the Cubs, but perhaps some competitors are using some of the strategies that once made them great and a lack of focus has gotten the team to the .5oo level.
I’m a contrarian and a value investor and I see the value in the Cubs. I’m loading up at these prices and watching for a rise as we head toward October.
So are you buying the Cub’s prospects for the near-term or do you want to hop on a new high-riser like the Astros or Yankees?
- I thought that the Mets announcers of Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, and Keith Hernandez were very pleasant to listen to on MLB network. Even in a blowout they kept it interesting.
- Rizzo can stay in the leadoff spot against right-handed starters for a while, especially if the pitcher continues to bat in the eight spot.
- I’m still not convinced that Happ shouldn’t see some time down at Iowa. Granted he had a grand slam but he also had four strikeouts.
- Felix Pena will probably be back on the shuttle to Iowa.
- I’m becoming more convinced that I don’t want to see a knee jerk reaction at the trade deadline and see the team acquire a position player such as Cameron Maybin. I would be ok with adding a starting pitcher of course, but I don’t want to waste any trade bullets on position players.
- The Cubs first five draft picks were all college starting pitchers. It appears as if the Cubs were specifically looking for guys with solid off-speed pitches. While many of these guys will be basically shut down for the rest of the season due to high college workloads, look for a couple of them to be potential major league bullpen options as early as late next season.
- A total of eight pitchers in the first eleven picks, only one of which is a high-schooler.
On the Farm
AAA: Iowa (27-38) 8, Nashville 4: The Cubs scored six times in the seventh inning to win this one. Starter Casey Kelly gave up all four runs in his five innings. After Kelly, four Cub relievers each went one scoreless inning to get the win. No Cub batter was overly outstanding, but catcher Victor Caratini hit a solo homer and outfielder Mark Zagunis hit a bases clearing triple in the six run seventh inning.
AA: Jackson 8, Tennessee (35-29) 7: None of the Smokie pitchers looked impressive as three pitchers each gave up at least two runs and combined for only one strikeout. Once some draft picks start signing contracts, look for some turnover of some pitchers. Leadoff hitter Charcer Burks had three hits to raise his average to .310 on the season.
High A: Myrtle Beach (39-26) 2, Frederick 0: The Pelicans shutout Frederick behind seven shutout innings from starter Adbert Alzolay. Catcher PJ Higgins had a solo homer to lead the offense. Watch for Alzolay to get the call to Tennessee once some of these new draft picks are signed and add him to the list of potential high-fliers along with Dylan Cease.
Low A: South Bend (38-26) 3, Lansing 2: A “Short” game! Third baseman Zack Short hit a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the 13th to lead the Cubs to victory. Strong pitching was the name of the game for the Cubs in this one with the gold star going to Wyatt Short who threw three scoreless innings in relief.