Back To Baseball, My Friends
At 3:00 p.m. this afternoon I was finally ready to get back to watching some Cubs baseball. What is generally the most boring time in sports during the course of a year, this year it was just a relief to not have to worry about what drama we would run into during the course of the game. My 5 days were used to catch up on the honey do’s that needed to be done, spend quality time with the family as we watched all of our showed that we DVR’d, and to catch up on some much needed sleep that had been lost during the week before the All-Star break. Cubs baseball is back.
Right off the bat the Cubs looked like the team of 2016. Ben Zobrist, who has had the worst season of his career to this point, led off the game with a que shot down the left field line for a lead off double. We all know the problems that the Cubs have had with whomever was penciled in this spot. It was nice to see Zobrist get the game started they way Dexter Fowler used to do it. After a Kris Bryant ground out and an Anthony Rizzo single, Willson Contreras provided the first of five Cub home runs when he hit a monster shot into the Cubs bullpen in center field to score 3. Kyle Schwarber followed Contreras with his own home run to center to continue the promising hitting he showed before the All-Star break. The two other home runs were hit by Zobrist in the 2nd and Jason Heyward in then 3rd before Russell Addison provided the game winner. The good times were rolling as the Cubs sprinted out to an 8-0 lead after 2 1/2 innings.
Also, ala 2016, Mike Montgomery did not allow a run in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles. After giving up 80 first inning runs during the first half of the season, it was vitally important that the starters get better in this aspect so that they do not always have to fight an up hill battle. Montgomery seemed to be ok for the first couple of innings and then the wheels slowly started to fall off during his start. Welington Castillo homered to center in the 3rd, which began the slow climb back into the ballgame for the Orioles. Chis Davis doubled in the 4th to score Mark Trumbo. The 5th inning the Orioles managed to push 4 runs across the plate against Montgomery and Justin Grimm. After a scoreless 6th and 7th innings, the Orioles tied the game when Trumbo hit a two run home run off of Koji Uehara.
As has been stated on this site many time, the Cubs offense can be the best in the league when they are on. They showed this early on during the opening game after the All-Star break. Pitching unfortunately let the team down tonight. Montgomery, who is trying to stay in the rotation, needs to be a bullpen guy. He can give you one or two good innings but cannot sustain the quality start for many innings after that. The Cubs gave up a combined 7 walks in the game which is absurd given the fact that they were playing with a huge lead from the start. They can give a huge thank you to Russell who hit the go ahead home run in the top of the 9th before Wade Davis came in to seal up the save for the Cubs. A win is a win right now. Take them as you get them. We are 1-0 after the break….welcome back!
I was sitting at my desk in the office when twitter exploded with the news that the Cubs had made a trade with cross city rival, Chicago White Sox. In getting Quintana the Cubs gave up their top two prospects in Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease (two other minor leaguers Matt Rose and Bryant Flete were included to the White Sox). My first reaction when I read the news was “Oh Crap! We just gave up that for THAT?!?!?”. But as I should do many times and didn’t…I thought about it for a bit and grown excited about the deal. If you look at Quintana’s record (4-8, 4.49 ERA) you can be deceived about how good this kid really is. He is a controllable lefty (3 more years remaining in club control) and is right there with Jon Lester in terms WAR: Quintana: 13.9, Lester: 13.4. Both of their average fastball is the same at 91.8. Yes, we gave up two very good prospects in this deal…but the Cubs now have a starter that they so desperately needed to head into the final stretch of the season. Let’s see what happens from here on out starting with Sunday’s start in Baltimore.
Sonny Day’s Ahead
Multiple tweets were put out on Friday that the Cubs were more than kicking the tires on Sonny Gray of the Oakland Athletics. This is another kid who is young, 27, and is under club control until 2020. With the top two prospects already shipped to the White Sox, this trade may be the one where the Cubs have to send a player such as Schwarber, Russell, or Javier Baez to get Gray. The front office has done a great job of protecting the current roster and keeping it in tact. With Jeimer Candelario now being the number one prospect in the Cubs minor league organization, it would be interesting to see if him packaged with other minor leaguers would be enough to pull it off. This would put a stamp on the trades for the Cubs unless they want to go get a solidified lead off hitter such as Dee Gordon or Christian Yelich of the Miami Marlins (I know Yelich doesn’t lead off…but could easily transition to that spot).
Just to get the Cub fans thinking….tweets went out that Gray was pulled from his Friday night start only to be retracted a few minutes later by the Oakland A’s PR group. This, I feel, is going to be a battle between the Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers (maybe the ‘stros) to get him. Stay tuned.
I am going to trust that Maddon will make things right in the second half of the season. That’s all I’m saying about this topic for now.
AAA – Iowa Cubs – postponed due to rain
AA – Tennessee Smokies won 10-4
SP: Zach Hedges (W, 7-5, 3.75 ERA)- 7 IP, 8 Hits, 3 Runs, 2 BB, 1 K
1B: Yasiel Balaguert (.246 Avg.)- 3-4, 1 Run, 1 RBI, 2 Doubles
Advanced A – Myrtle Beach Pelicans lost 4-3
SP: Thomas Hatch (ND, 3.49 ERA)- 4 IP, 4 Hits, 3 Runs, 2 BB, 6 K
DH: Vimael Machin (.500 Avg.)- 2-4, 2 Runs, 1 HR, 1 RBI
A: South Bend Cubs won 7-4
SP: Bryan Hudson (W, 4-3, 4.65 ERA)- 6 IP, 7 Hits, 4 Runs, 4 BB, 3 K
C: Tyler Payne (.213 Avg.)- 2-3, 1 Run, 2 RBI