View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003

Wednesday

5

July 2017

39

COMMENTS

Is The All-Star Break Here Yet?

Written by , Posted in General

Most years, I hate the All-Star break; three days with no baseball, and one day with a game I can barely get interested in.  This year, though, I find myself looking forward to the time off, and the possibility that a reset of sorts for the Cubs might make some tangible difference in their performance.  With a bit less than half of the season left, the defending champions find themselves a game under .500, yet only 3.5 games back of the Brewers in the division.  And, let’s face it, if there’s any hope of seeing the Cubs play baseball after Game 162, it’s going to come the route of winning the division…the NL Central has no hope of a wild card berth.

Tuesday’s game was largely hard to watch; despite the Cubs scoring first on a Jason Heyward single to bring in Ian Happ after a 1-out triple, the game ended up tied the next inning at the hands of an Evan Longoria sac fly.  Defense was already coming up a bit tough by that point though, with a bad throw by Willson Contreras letting the Rays get the runner to 3rd to begin with, and the Cubs basically playing with an 8-man defense.  The wheels didn’t really fall off until the 4th inning, though, when the Rays put up 5 runs to take a 6-1 lead (and Rays pitcher Chris Archer notched his first career hit, an RBI single); and while the final score was a seemingly-close 6-5, it really wasn’t close at all.

What went wrong?  The 5th, 6th, and 9th innings all ended with runners in scoring position, and strikeouts closed out the earlier two of those frames–including three straight by Addison Russell, pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella, and Jon Jay in the 6th.  Baserunning also made an appearance as a problem in the 8th, when Willson Contreras’ 1-out single became the second out as he tried to take the extra base.

Thankfully, the bullpen didn’t allow this one to get too far away once Hector Rondon took over in the 6th; he, Brian Duensing (0.1 IP) and Justin Grimm (2.2 IP) didn’t allow a hit and two walks the rest of the way.  It seems the bullpen largely has been better for the Cubs lately, which is definitely welcome, even if it only translates into an extra win or two overall.

About That 8-Man Defense…

Some of you may be wondering, what did Michael mean when he said the Cubs were basically playing with an 8-man defense?  The rest of you know exactly where I’m going here: Jon Lester seems to have developed a very severe allergy to the infield grass and/or batted balls.  It’s no longer a matter of, Jon Lester has problems throwing to bases; the man won’t even get off the mound for a bunt or a slow roller in the infield, and I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen him cover first when Anthony Rizzo has to abandon the base to field a ball.  The optics of watching him be the closest defender to a ball, and just stare at it, are just horrible.  I’m not sure who would need to get in his ear on this one–it should, but won’t, be Joe Maddon–but someone needs to, and quick.  This can’t fly.

Heyward’s Triumphant Return

When Mark Zagunis‘ name appeared in Iowa’s lineup Monday night, the speculation in the Twittersphere seemed to be that Kyle Schwarber would be quickly making his return (they must have missed his option being the counter to Zobrist being activated from the DL).  How quickly we forget there are other outfielders that could re-appear in Chicago, and frankly I like having Jason Heyward back a bit more than Schwarber right at this moment (4 HR not withstanding, I’m not seeing a lot of evidence that he’s overall hitting better–he was hitting homers, but only homers, before his demotion).  Heyward only went 1-4 today, but did drive in a run.  I don’t recall him having gone out for rehab, though, so I’m not going to complain that badly.

Trade Rumor Mill

The trade rumor mill is starting to get rolling now that it’s July, and there’s no real clear indication of what the Cubs will be at the deadline this year.  They shipped Miguel Montero to the Blue Jays for basically nothing (Player To Be Named Later, which will probably become cash considerations in the form of a ham sandwich or something), and they definitely have a need for a backup catcher on the roster.  Word is floating around that they have been in touch with the Detroit Tigers about Alex Avila, who would fill that void, as well as Justin Verlander, who could fill a role in the rotation.  The price for Verlander is likely to be high, if he agrees to a trade at all.

AAA: Iowa @ Oklahoma City (L, 5-2)

A 3-run 7th inning did Iowa in in this one, though they did put up a run in the 9th in an effort to come back.  Casey Kelly pitched 6-plus innings, but was pulled after allowing a baserunner.  David Rollins relieved him, balls kept heading to left field, and runs came on in.  Schwarber still is in single-or-homer mode, but is hitting .333 in Iowa with a .459 OBP.

AA: Tennessee @ Chattanooga (In Progress, Tied 5-5, Bot 14th)

Tennessee is locked in a marathon, but overall has had the better bullpen of the night.  Chattanooga’s runs all game against starter Duane Underwood, who lasted 5 innings; Chattanooga’s starter went the same, but only gave up one run, before two subsequent relievers gave up 2 each, letting the Smokies ultimately tie it in the 8th.  Hopefully, this one ends before Wednesday starts.

A-Adv: Myrtle Beach v Buies Creek (L, 12-3)

Ouch. 12 runs on 19 hits, the three guys that pitched in this one basically had to wear it.  Eloy Jimenez was the DH today, and went 1-4 with a triple and 2 RBI.

A: South Bend v Great Lakes (In Progress, Tied 4-4, Top 10th)

A comeback that actually, possibly, will be enough.  The SB-Cubs trailed 4-3 heading into the bottom of the 9th, but a leadoff triple by from Luis Ayala and a RBI single by Vimael Machin tied it up.  This one had the look of a walkoff, as they were left with runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs, but 2 flyouts and a strikeout ended the threat and sent it into extras.

SS-A: Eugene v Boise (In Progress, Tied 1-1, Bot 4th)

Not much to say for this one, as the game is still fairly early and low scoring.

  • cap’n realist

    In the humor department, Tuesday I received a letter from a law firm in Chicago via US mail letting me know that I owe the city $73.20 for a parking ticket (snow zone. 3-7am) that was issued on 2/3/97. A 20 year old parking ticket. I’ve lived at the same address and been listed in the phone book for the past 16 years. The question is, should I be frightened, alarmed, concerned, or just continue to be sad that the city I grew up in is so broke that this is where they’ve arrived? Full disclosure: I vaguely remember my Blazer being towed for this violation and paying over $200 to get it out of hock at the city yard, so this is a debt that has been long ago paid.

    • Doug S.

      I think you need solid legal advice. CAPS?

      • Bryzzo1744

        My only advice is to pay it unrolled pennies. This is why the penny should never be eliminated. It’s a valuable protest tool.

      • Michael S.

        Gotta throw some Canadian coinage in there with it though, just so some poor sop has to pay attention through 7,000+ pennies.

      • Doug S.

        Pennies are history up here.

      • Michael S.

        Shoot, forgot about that. Yrgh.

      • Sherm

        Until it isn’t, it’s still a piece of currency, and should be treated as such. Not a protest tool. And, more importantly, you’d simply be causing inconvenience for some person who works there that doesn’t deserve it. Why do that? Those are the kinds of “protests” that piss me off…because they don’t do the intended, and they make someone else’s life more difficult. I can’t ever justify doing that.

        On a different note, I think KB is the least deserving of the five players on the final ballot.

      • cap’n realist

        I’ve got to agree…the person counting the pennies is already losing their pension. That’s why the city is stooping to this. A quick google search of the law firm confirms my suspicions. They jet set city politicians to vacation destinations and get them to sign collections contracts and look the other way at their shady dealings. The good news is that the feds no longer allow cities in Illinois to negatively affect credit ratings for unpaid fines. I assume due to garbage like this.

      • Doug S.

        KB might be the least deserving of the 5, but he might be the most popular.

      • Sherm

        I think that’s probably true…

      • Doug S.

        I just reread my comment. All this might shit reads pretty lame.

      • Seymour Butts

        Not sure where I read it, but a “rule” of writing is to avoid using the same word more than once in a sentence. Conjunctions, prepositions, and the like are exempted.

      • Doug S.

        The educational advantage of a VFTB visit.

      • Sherm

        Might be lame. Might not.

      • Doc Raker

        But the prettiest

    • Sherm

      I think Brad is our “Blog Attorney.” Brad?

      • Doug S.

        Has Lester’s ability/desire to play defense gotten worse? Or has he always been like this?

      • Michael S.

        He’s always been bad at defense, but now he’s just given up the pretense of trying.

      • Seymour Butts

        Actually I don’t like Zo in the lineup…period. At best he’s our 3rd best defensive 2nd baseman, and he’s hitting just over Jessica.
        Just to piss off Raker:
        Trade Schwarber.
        Hopefully he will feast on AAA pitching enough to get some AL (Tampa) team to bite for a starter (Cobb, Archer).
        Schwarbs without OBP is a boat anchor. We have 6 better options, and one of them is ketchup from my index finger.

      • cap’n realist

        I started the parking ticket conversation because I just don’t want to think about how nuts this team’s garbage effort this far is making me.

      • Michael S.

        That seems to be happening frequently these days, though I think that’ll only work for the comments. Think I might get in hot water if my next post was a how-to on badly refinishing a wooden dinner table.

      • Sherm

        Stats show otherwise. COPIP (comments on posts in play, i.e. “Reading the top part and actually commenting on it” is at an all time low.

      • cap’n realist

        Jerry in Wisconsin has been cleaning gutters and downspouts for at least a week now. Must have been a tough job…

      • You told him he was obliged to do what she asked immediately, who knew he’d listen to you. Or to her for that matter.

      • Go for it. It would be a lot more interesting than most of the baseball we’ve been discussing. And we mostly don’t read the top part anyway. ?

      • Dork

        I think this is a good strategy after another loss by this team – first go straight to the comments and the first person to post has to be so off topic that we forget a game has even happened – I think we would all feel better – thanks cap’n

      • cap’n realist

        that was my plan, but Sherm wrecked it. Well, he might have…

  • Doc Raker

    You just knew Chris Archer would get his first major league hit in a crucial situation against Lester and the Cubs. Len and JD were bashing Archer as an 0 for life hitter and a non athlete and I am thinking, “Ok, here we go- the 0 for lifer is going to shove Lens words down his throat.” Nice RBI hit by Archer in the 5th inning to exploit Lesters in ability to field a ground ball.

    I tuned into the Cubs broadcast for a few innings. I wanted the home town feel of the holiday broadcast and to see if Len was still Lame. Len did not disappoint.

    I hope no one is voting for KB for All Star selection. Go tot he Cubs website which says, “Cubs promoting All Star votes for KB”. How about he promote himself with some hits.

  • Sherm

    Just watching today’s game. Top 6. Leadoff hitter for the Rays doubles. Goes to third on a good at bat by Dickerson (who battles until he grounds the ball to the right side and moves the guy to third.) Longoria comes up and hits a fly ball to center. Sac Fly. Run scores. Prototype baseball well executed. In that same situation? Cubs would go double. K trying to hit the ball 600 feet, roll over grounder one batter too late and a pop up.

    • Michael S.

      The strikeout would be swinging at ball 4, none the less.

      • Sherm

        Of course, right after my comment? Rizzo goes the other way for a base hit against the shift, Zo executes a perfect sac bunt and Happ makes contact and sends a two run two hopper up the middle. Finally. Nice to see some actual execution. This is the kind of ball that wins games and that has been dramatically absent from the Cub repertoire.

        Don’t get me started on the psychology of giving every team an early lead…

      • Seymour Butts

        Does any of that psychology derive from the Simpsons?

      • Kyle

        I wonder if any other teams have their CLEANUP hitter bunt in that situation?

  • Doc Raker

    JJ! It hurts me to know a previous Cardinal is the AB role model other Cubs need to follow. JJ has quality AB’s.

    • Eddie Von White

      I think you meant to say Jh Jh.

      • Doc Raker

        I meant to say JJ. If people don’t know who JJ is on the Cubs roster than they should go to the View From Wimbledon blog and stay away from Cubs baseball.

      • Eddie Von White

        Losing makes you cranky.

  • Bryzzo1744

    And Schwarber is back with the Cubs. He should have stayed in Iowa until after the all-star break

    • Michael S.

      Plus side though, we won’t see Lackey until at least the 16th in Baltimore…hopefully longer.