View From The Bleachers

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Wednesday

26

July 2017

63

COMMENTS

Bruises, Platinum Sombreros, and Willson!

Written by , Posted in General

Willson Contreras strolled to the plate in the first inning with two men on and promptly launched a three-run blast into the left field stands, just as I was hoping he would do in the ninth inning on Monday. Despite striking out 17 times, the Cubs went on to a fairly comfortable 7-2 victory over the team from the south side.

Contreras, despite playing virtually every game with limited rest, has really settled into the fourth spot in the lineup. It’s been mentioned before, but his positive and excitable attitude just to be able to play the game has to be infectious in some way to some of the other younger players.

Probably one player that it doesn’t rub the right way with is starting pitcher John Lackey. He certainly seems like a hard-ass, traditionalist but I digress. Lackey had a decent game for a fifth starter. Five innings pitched, two runs allowed, five strikeouts, and some shit disturbed. The main thing that I noticed is that the Cubs gave up another big hit to an American League pitcher, seems like that happens a lot.

All in all, good win for the home team as they snapped a pesky one game losing streak.

Bean Balls: Lackey hit Jose Abreu in the first inning and that was just the precursor to what was to come in the fifth inning when he hit Abreu, Matt Davidson, and Yoan Moncada. Lackey wriggled out of the self-made jam with a ground out. Unfortunately for Ian Happ, he got to wear one for the team so that the White Sox could “even” things up. The Sox also had a chance to hit Lackey himself as he came to bat later in the inning but chose to get the out instead. I would imagine a ball even a little bit inside would have cleared the benches. Have to see if anything carries over as the teams play Wednesday night.

Platinum Sombreros: As discussed in the comment sections of an earlier post, Javier Baez accomplished a pretty rare feat. He struck out five times in a game (swinging each time as a bonus), a normal length game at that. While I would say it’s a pretty easy feat to accomplish, I’m quite sure that if I had five at-bats in one game I would easily join the club, but perhaps a MLB player trying to hit the ball would have more trouble striking out than I would.

Interestingly enough, Sammy Sosa is the all-time leader in five strikeout games as he managed to accomplish the feat four times in his career. Baez has a chance to beat this record I believe.

Who, if anyone, could convince Baez to at least try a new approach with two strikes, especially with runners on base? Is it Maddon? Mallee? Theo? Maybe a respected veteran that uses a different approach like Rizzo? I would think just making contact instead of striking out 150 times would improve your stats tremendously.

Bryant Gets the Boot: If there was a pool on who would be ejected arguing balls and strikes, Kris Bryant would be well down my list. I don’t even think I would put him in the top 10. Well, Bryant finally had enough today as he was ejected arguing with Lance Barksdale in the fourth inning. Unless Bryant said one of Carlin’s seven words you can’t say on television, Barksdale had a quick trigger.

Bryant, of course. was correct that the called third strike was a ball, and not really that close, but I think the ball that he fouled off into his knee may have made the ejection much more palatable as he could hit the whirlpool sooner. Plus, the ejection allowed him to miss the “opportunity” of getting a golden or even platinum sombrero (he had three strikeouts in three at-bats through four innings) and taking away some of Baez’s glory.

Excellent Pen Work: Lackey tried to pitch into the sixth inning but all that led to was putting the tying run into scoring position with nobody out. Carl Edwards Jr. was called upon to do his best to keep the game competitive. Edwards didn’t disappoint as he struck out the first batter, fielded a grounder hit back to him (getting the out at first after looking back both the runners on third and second), and then striking out Abreu to get out of the inning with no runs scored. Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, and Brian Duensing each threw a scoreless inning to finish the game.

Latest Rumors: I didn’t notice any new rumors on the trade front but as many have mentioned, Theo and Co. seem to come up with trades that haven’t been run through the rumor mill. Obviously the team will still look for a backup catcher and probably another relief arm or two but in general it could be a fairly quiet week for the Cubs.

Coming Up: The Crosstown Rivalry heads to the south side for games Wednesday and Thursday night. Both games are nationally televised as Rick Sutcliffe and David Ross will announce for ESPN on Wednesday and the MLB Network will show Thursday’s game (though it looks like it might be joined in progress). Jake Arrieta (9-7 4.11 era) goes against James Shields (2-2 5.79 era) on Wednesday.

 

Down on the Farm

AAA – Iowa (46-54) 2, El Paso 1: Mark Zagunis hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning, his 12th of the season, to lead the Cubs to victory over the Chihuahuas. Rob Zastryzny pitched six strong innings to get the victory and Matt Carasiti picked up his 16th save. I think Carasiti will see some time in Chicago in September if not sooner.

AA – Tennessee 3 (53-47), Montgomery 4: Duane Underwood took the loss giving up four runs in six innings. The good news for Underwood is that none of the runs were earned. Shortstop Carlos Penalver made his 17th error of the year and also ended a rally in the ninth when he grounded into a double play with the bases loaded.

High A – Myrtle Beach 0 (55-46), Carolina 4: Not much to see here. Leadoff batter Zack Short led the Pelicans with three hits in the loss.

Low A – South Bend (45-54): Day off on Tuesday, hosts Lake County on Wednesday.

R – Eugene (21-18) 5, Salem-Keizer 5: Through five innings the game was knotted at 5’s.

  • SouthCarolinaCubFan1991

    So……? I noticed the Sun-times ran a story about the Lackey vs. Rizzo flare up yesterday. I watched the video but don’t recall at what point in the game it happened. Thoughts? Personally I figure it happened after he hit someone for the 3rd time and Rizzo looked to calmly explaining to him that he was gonna get one of the guys hurt if kept it up (which he did by hitting his 4th batter later on)

    • Sherm

      Quite frankly? Lackey needs to have his ass kicked, and I really don’t care who does it. Another Cub, someone else, umpire, fan, jockey, whoever. Happ is the one who SHOULD do it.

      Bryant was right. I saw some “report” that said that the pitch he argued about had been called a strike ZERO PERCENT of the time in the major leagues this year. I get that umpires are human, but the batter deserves some semblance of consistency from game to game to be able to do HIS job – and the game deserves better. Instead of trying to shave 34 seconds off each game as if THAT matters? How about Commish Manfred look into standardizing the strike zone in a relevant way?

      Why didn’t Maddon come out and protect his star player? That’s pretty much the ONLY time you see managers move quickly – so that THEY can get tossed instead of the player. Oh. It’s Joe Maddon. My bad. I’m guessing he didn’t even know Bryant had BEEN tossed until around the time that Happ was up. And then? He immediately called Binny’s to see if they could sponsor ejections.

      • SouthCarolinaCubFan1991

        I try to give “the world’s greatest leader” the benefit of the doubt with any move that I personally disagree with (which, granted, are few and far between) but………I have and will always f*cking HATE Lackey. Oh, and yes, would pay admission to see Happ knock him on his arse.

      • Bryzzo1744

        I agree with giving him an ass-kicking. My only concern is we still need him to get to October. If we get another starter, I’m ready to give him the pink slip. Just give him his dough and tell him to pack his bags.

      • Michael S.

        I’ve probably railed against it in the past, but I’m starting to come around to some manner of automated ball/strike call. The bad calls just seem to be getting worse and worse, and if you’re the guy getting shafted by whichever Monty Mole is behind the plate that day, best respect your betters or it’s a finin’.

      • Dork

        I am totally a proponent of an automated strike zone – If you have the technology why not use it, otherwise you are just making people look bad.

      • Bryzzo1744

        We used QuesTec 15 years ago and pitchers were mad. Schilling took a bat to a camera and smashed it.

    • Bartz

      Reminded me of D-Lee and Zambrano. If they do pull off a trade for another starter, there’s a chance Lackey will get DFA’d. The only reason I don’t see it happening is because the guy does have plenty of playoff experience and three rings despite the hot head.

      • I don’t see them ever DFA’ing him. Don’t get me wrong, I WISH they would. I just can’t see it happening. Would love to be wrong!

  • Sherm

    And another thing. Or two. While I have a minute…yes, that’s right, I’m taking time out from some intense gooch-sourcing to comment here.

    Thing one. (with apologies to Dr. Seuss) Probably need to trade Baez to the Yankees. They are the team who can get those free swingers to change. The Cubs don’t even appear to TRY. Castro is an example. He didn’t just become a better hitter when he went there. They worked with him to improve pitch selection, use more of the field, care more about contact deeper into the pitch…and hey, what do you know? And that Judge guy? Maybe you’ve heard of him? He hit .171 (Schwarbian numbers!) his first stint in the league. So what did they do? Worked all off season with him on (surprise!) pitch selection, contact, using the whole field…and hey, what do you know? He’s king of New York. So, what I’m saying here is that a) it can be learned, and b) better coaching = better play.

    Thing two. I know she won’t give herself any credit, or namesake awards, or Lizards, so I am personally giving BACK ten of my Lizards, and a truckload of Lizzies to our own Lizzie for the outstanding and remarkable use of “zero fucks were given” in yesterday’s comments. Not only a great phrase, but completely true under the circumstances. #congratslizzie

    • Doc Raker

      I don’t think reptile brains can be trained, they are very small and programmed to do one thing- swing for the fences.

      • sort of heading towards CAPS territory with the reptile thing..

      • Seymour Butts

        Ever seen a flea circus? Animals can be trained to do remarkable things. I once saw a monkey who would hold up comparative pictures and ask the crowd which was clearer, one or two… three or four.
        Seriously though, Baez should be shown old films of Soriano as well as his own. The commentary needs to be on where multiple announcers can be heard to say that there is no reason to throw him a strike. If he realizes he is being ridiculed, even a mono-synaptic brain learns.

      • cap’n realist

        the key is getting him to realize he is being ridiculed? It’s a common theme around here.

      • Amazingly difficult here.

      • Eddie Von White

        The most difficult fun I’ve ever had.

      • Doug S.

        Ah yes, Soriano. There is some resemblance at the plate. I recall many Soiano at bats that went like this….. take strike 1, swing at balls 1 & 2 for the easy 3 pitch out. Javy’s got some work to do.

      • Baez doesn’t use a bat that is as long as he is tall tho.

    • Seymour Butts

      Who would you expect from the Yankees in return? Two of their current starting pitchers? Baez will get trained, or embarrassed. He’s very valuable in the field, so has a roster spot. Many teams have carried light hitting middle infielders with lesser glove skills and were delighted to do so. We are just disappointed because everyone in the park but Javy knows he’s getting a steady diet of sliders away.

      • Ben

        Question though when does his strike outs out weigh his fielding. Fielding can only take you so far you have to hit too to be an asset and productive in the major leagues?

      • Bryzzo1744

        He hits enough that his glove makes up for his bat’s deficiencies

      • Seymour Butts

        That’s my point, The Mendoza line (not the one you give Jessica when she’s had a half dozen cocktails) refers to Mario Mendoza. Although he was a career .215 hitter, it’s considered to be .200. He played 8 or 9 years in the bigs because of his above average glove. Javy’s glove is way better. He could hit as poorly as Schwarber and still be a valuable asset.
        Fielding can take you very far.

      • Plus he really CAN be dangerous at the plate. His woes there are not for lack of talent, it’s a discipline thing, and ego. Given the right coaching staff he’d be incredible. (But there’s the rub right there. He doesn’t have the right coaching staff.)

      • Bryzzo1744

        If he can ever figure it out with the bat, he could be HOF material.

    • Lol. Violated my own personal ban on vulgarity. (Who am I kidding. I swear like a sailor.)

      • Michael S.

        I, for one, was shocked and appalled. Seeing those words my kids learned from me in black and white…shocked, I tell you!

  • Colin Kruse

    Lackey is my least favorite player on the Cubs for good measure

    • Ben

      I mean he is a cardinal at heart lol

    • Mine too.

  • Michael S.

    They DFA’d…Brett Anderson.

    • Bryzzo1744

      I don’t see it on cubs.com. But it’s a given. Anderson is useless even when he’s healthy.

    • Seymour Butts

      Any reason to do that other than to make room on the roster?

      • Michael S.

        Not even that; he was on the 60-day DL, so he was off the 25-man and 40-man rosters. So…just because?

      • Bryzzo1744

        He sucks?

      • Bryzzo1744

        They were at the end of his rehab stint.

      • Michael S.

        Oh yeah, there are limits on how long they can keep a guy on rehab. Forgot about that.

  • Brad Lyerla

    So, I took my wife to the game yesterday . . . . It was a gorgeous day and a weird, weird game to watch. Some thoughts:
    1. Lackey wasn’t trying to hit anyone. He was simply wild. At least two of the HPBs were on pitches he dropped down and tried to side arm. He did not have command of those pitches. Even the sox fans in the stands knew Lackey wasn’t trying to hit anyone.
    2. Happ should not be kicking anyone’ s behind. He is a rookie and did exactly what he was supposed to do. Lackey has said he will buy Happ “something” nice to make up for it.
    3. In the post-game interviews, Lackey admitted that he thought Beck might bean him when he came to bat in the fifth. But the first pitch was a slider, so Lackey figured he was ok. I thought that was interesting.
    4. The thing with Bryant was weird to see. First, he went down in a “soccerish” fashion after fouling the pitch off his lower body. Yes. It looked a little like he was just fed up and laid down in frustration more than pain. Then the exchange with Lance what’s his name was not especially animated and, I am told, Bryant does not swear. So, hard to figure why Bryant got tossed.
    5. For that reason, I give Maddon a pass on not “protecting” Bryant. It never looked like he needed protection until too late.
    6. It wasn’t just that Baez was swinging too hard (and going to his knee to prevent from toppling over). He was also swinging at pitches a foot over his head. It was ridiculous, candidly. The first time, I laughed involuntarily and my wife asked me why. The next time, Donna said, “he did it again!” and the people next to us laughed.
    7. The pitch that CEJr. struck Cabrera out on was one of the most wicked pitches you will ever see. Came at a good time. I hope he if getting his act together for the second half.
    8. I don’t know what to say about all of the strikeouts. But I do want to say that Bryant and Rizzo look bad on too many pitches.
    9. I love Contreras.

    • Doug S.

      I envy you guys that can go to games regularly in your back yard.

      • Brad Lyerla

        It’s nice. I don’t take it for granted.

      • Eddie Von White

        I don’t envy anyone, its not healthy.

      • cap’n realist

        Eddie Von Content.

    • Doc Raker

      I like Contreras more and more each day. How about Donna? Does she like the Schwarbs? bAez the reptile brain? Cutie Pie KB? Who does Donna like? Don’t say Sherm

      • Brad Lyerla

        No one has replaced Fowler yet. But she likes Schwarber and Contreras next best, I think.

    • Dork

      Maybe Bryant doesn’t swear just like Lizzie doesn’t swear?

      • Eddie Von White

        Just like Raker doesn’t drink whiskey.

      • Brad Lyerla

        Lizzie doesn’t swear?

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        You mean to say Bryant told the umpire he doesn’t give zero F**** about his strike zone.

      • Lol Dork. It’s that special kind of not-swearing.

      • cap’n realist

        Lizzie Gregging swears like a Gregging Sailor.

  • Doc Raker

    I really think that Lackey would be good in the bullpen. If Maddon and Thed had some ballz they would move Lackey to the bullpen. Think of it, Lackey, Carls Jr and Davis, pretty good 7, 8 and 9th inning.

    • Dork

      How are his first inning stats? He has been ok in the rotation even if he is a dick at times IMHO

      • Doc Raker

        But when a starter goes to the bullpen he can go full throttle for 1 inning verse pace himself for the long haul. Think Smoltz- he was a different pitcher as a closer verse when he started. I think Lackey can be that way also.

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    I hope that Baez not playing extends at least one more day, and had someone telling him it was related to his swinging from his heals.

    • Dork

      I just looked and Javy has actually hit well in July over 800 OPS. I do think he would do his OBP some good by swinging at pitch 1 and if he does not put that in play then taking until he sees strike 2 for a while. Strike 2 looks like it never comes.

      • Kyle

        Totally agree. It’s infuriating that he can’t adjust to his overwhelming predictability.

  • Seymour Butts

    Brewers SP is making his MLB debut. Nats just hit 4 consecutive HRs off of him in the 3rd ( 5 of 6 batters go deep, 6 for the game). I kind of feel sorry for him. Not for the team, but for the individual.

    • Doug S.

      Wow. 15-1 after 5 innings. Every Nats player including Scherzer has a hit. Be nice to see the Cubs put more distance on the Brewers.

      • Bryzzo1744

        And then sweep them this weekend, open a 4.5 game lead and start running away with the division

      • Brewers aren’t the team to worry about.. never were.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Who is then? Dodgers Nats and shitbirds?

      • Sherm

        There is no team called the shitbirds. Have a little respect.

        The Pirates and Cardinals are the two teams most likely to challenge the Cubs for the division. The Brewers are well managed, but have played over their heads most of the season, and that typically fades over the length of the marathon.

    • cap’n realist

      I don’t feel sorry for any big league pitcher. It’s not healthy.

  • Doug S.

    Schwarbs climbing up Mt. Mendoza.