View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



August 2017



Wait!  There was a rug under me.  Who pulled it out?

Written by , Posted in General

First inning Kyle Schwarber, batting second.  First pitch: takes a fastball straight down the middle. Second pitch: swings and misses at a slider, down out of the zone.  Third: whiffs badly on another slider, this one in the zone.  The Reds announcer proclaimed, “Boy he just worked over Schwarber in that at bat.”

To date I have resisted piling onto the “Joe Maddon is a moron” bandwagon.  But really, why is a guy batting .202 hitting second in the batting order?  Sure, his OBP is a robust, .312, but still.

Jake Arrieta, looking sharp, throwing all fastballs, struck out the side in the first.

In the top of the second, after Anthony Rizzo tapped out back to the mound the other Reds announcer put the hex on Reds starter Sal Romano by declaring, “Zobrist, Schwarber, Bryant Rizzo, Happ.  These are tough hitters.  You work your way through here all of the sudden your confidence gets to go” [**CRACK**] pretty good.” And while those words were hanging in the air the ball off of Ian Happ’s bat flew into the right field stands to put the Cubs up 1-0.

In the top of the fourth, the Reds turned a Kris Bryant error off the bat of Zach Cozart and a Joey Votto single into the tying run.

In the bottom of the fifth Jason Heyward paid homage to his old buddy Jorge Soler by looking befuddled on a shallow fly he could have easily caught and letting it fall in front of him for a single for Eugenio Suarez.  Then Arrieta walked Jesse Winkler to put runners at first and second with no out.  But fear not.  Jake struck out Tucker Barnhart, Anthony Rizzo got the lead man on a sacrifice attempt by Romano, and Jake struck out Billy Hamilton to end the threat.

In the top of the sixth, Kris Bryant doubled down the left field line with one out.  Then after a pop out by the Rizz, Javier Baez—he of the .273 average—roped a fastball into left field and Bryant being the base running savant that he is, scored easily to make it 2-1.

In the bottom of the inning, after a single by Cozart, the Reds looked like they had the game tied, when Joey Votto laced the ball into left over the head of Schwarber, who made a very Adam Dunn-esque play at the ball, before uncorking a rocket to cut man Javy Baez who made a textbook catch-turn-bullet throw to nail Cozart at the plate and preserve the lead.  Later in the inning, Jake walked the bases loaded with two outs, which prompted Maddon to give him the hook.  Brian Duensing induced a grounder to get out of the inning.

Everyone’s favorite Cub, Carl Edwards, Jr. pitched a perfect bottom of the second.  The Reds announcers described it as “Dominant”. And it was looking like one of the nights where the Cubs bullpen is really good.

In the bottom of the eighth, Pedro Strop got Cozart to fly out to center.  Then, Jason Heyward apparently felt he had done enough for his old bro, Jorge, because he made a fantastic diving catch charging in on a shallow ball off the bat of Votto for the second out.  Then the wheels fell off.  Adam Duvall singled, then Scooter Gennett doubled down the left field line to put runners at second and third.  Then Strop walked Suarez, and Jose Perazea hit a deep fly to the warning track in center that Happ made a valiant effort at, but bounced over the wall for a ground rule double, and brought in two to give the Reds the lead.

At this point, I am going to jump on the “Maddon is an idiot” bandwagon—Albert Almora, Jr. catches that ball.  Why is he not the everyday centerfielder with Happ in left?

The Reds plated another run in the eighth, and the Cubs went out with a whimper in the 9th.  Fly the “L”.

The Cubs played a good game until the Strop implosion.  What are you going to do?  And all is not lost.  We’re still in first place.

  • Doug S.

    Wasn’t able to watch the game. Nice recap. I did see that we were leading 2-1 late, then nothing until this morning when I saw L: Strop. Nice way to get the blood boiling on a Friday morning. Saskatchewan has pulled the hockey puck deal off the table.

  • Doc Raker

    How many times has our bullpen imploded after 2 outs and no one on? I have seen this several times of late. I am sure Len and JD had those stats for all of those thinking Cub fans.

    JJ, AA, JHey and Happ need to be our main outfielders. How does a team that values defense and OBP so much have a line up of Schwarbrist at the top of the order and an outfield with a sub par CF and LF?

    • Sherm

      And when Russell comes back? Baez starts sharing time again…and he’s the one guy who is SHINING with regular playing time at his NORMAL position.

    • Michael S.

      It feels like Maddon is still trying to give guys a victory lap for last year, like being the WS MVP or hitting like a maniac as the DH entitles them to as much playing time as they can get. Guys that weren’t regular postseason starters get to sit, regardless of the fact that other guys are doing better by just about every measure.

      • Michael S.

        And I won’t hold the brain trust without fault here–Schwarber had NO reason to come back up from Iowa.

      • Sherm

        Spot on. He should have played the entire SEASON at AAA. He needs work defensively, and oh by the way? He’s the worst hitter in the national league.

      • Michael S.

        He’s like Carlos Pena with cataracts right now.

      • Sherm

        But WHY?

        Can anyone explain to me why this is happening? What happened to the kid with the short, compact swing and extreme plate discipline? There is a reason that we were all so high on this guy. They were comparing the swing to Bill Madlock in 2015. Now he swings like Matlock (that’s Andy Griffith, CAPS.)

        His discipline is gone – let’s assume that went south with his confidence when Maddon kept trotting him out for 0’fers at the top of the lineup. Day after day after day. That had to wear on him. It wore on ME, for God sake. So maybe in his desperation, he’s fishing more and more to try to be the guy we all thought he was. I get that. He’s young.

        But where is the sweet swing? To me, you have a messed up head – that’s one thing…and it does take time to fix. You have a messed up swing? They have these men, they’re called COACHES, and it’s their JOB to help you with that. Every Cub hitter has a completely different approach and swing. Ergo, the coaches don’t coach hitting. It’s a free for all. A “do as you wish” mentality. Watch the Red Sox. The entire lineup is on the same page and has a plan. Then watch the Cubs. No one has a plan. Maybe Rizzo a little.

        Here’s what I think. Print and save. Or not. I don’t care. Joe Maddon is a publicity hound. He’s built a career out of being “UNCONVENTIONAL” and he’s making damn sure to continue to be unconventional…whether it’s good for the TEAM or not.

      • Michael S.

        I got curious, and took a look at his numbers back in ’15, when he was a rookie stud, and I noticed something…his first 25 games, he was playing catcher, DH, with a bit of time in the outfield…was hitting .342/.429/.633, 6 HR and 18K in 91 PA.

        From there on, he played in left almost all the time (only a couple starts at C, and not all of those were full games, and the last 2 games of the year in RF), and he ended up finishing .246/.355/.487, 16 HR and 77K on the year. His BA dropped almost 100 points (he hit .189 the rest of the year, from his 26th game on), strikeout rate spiked 10% versus before…just awful. Looks like at some point he was also hitting in the 2 spot most of ’15 overall, and his numbers in that spot in the order were awful.

        So, either something about being in LF (maybe, knowing he’s just not good out there, being worried about blowing a play, something) is messing with him–and aside from putting him somewhere that he doesn’t suck, I’m not sure how much the coaches can fix that–or consistently being in an inappropriate part of the batting order, or a combination…or maybe it’s just happenstance–he starts out hot, and just goes downhill from there (which is ’15 postseason numbers did).

        The only time he’s been consistently the godly hitter we’ve expected was in the world series last year, where…he was facing the same pitchers over and over and over again, essentially. Tired ones, at that, given how Francona used his guys. That probably helped him be a bit better.

  • Sherm

    You are absolutely 100% correct. Albert Almora catches that ball. Well, to be fair, Albert Almora JUNIOR catches that ball – not sure his dad gets the great jump, but point made. One run game. Eighth inning – and it’s already criminal that AA, JR is not playing since he is the best hitting outfielder on the team (look it up) but not to bring him in for his defense? Maddon chose to play the offensive outfield, and yes, I mean THAT in more ways than one.

    I think I’m driving the bandwagon of which you speak, so I’ll gladly pull over and let you board.

    The batting order is idiotic. Top of the order are the two worst hitters in the lineup. Hell, they are (if numbers mean anything anymore) two of the lesser hitters in the LEAGUE. In fact? Of all “qualified” batters in the NL, meaning enough plate appearances to qualifiy for the batting title – Schwarber is dead last. Number 72 out of 72. His .199 average, or as we like to call it, M-1, is also 274th in the league overall, regardless of plate appearance qualification. Yup. He’s just slightly ahead of St. Louis pitcher Carlos Martinez. Zobrist, who has been on a bit of a tear, has improved his average to a tremble inducing .229, and he’s number 227, looking up at our very own rent-a-catcher, Rene Rivera. THESE GUYS HIT 1-2? Wasn’t Maddon the guy who said something like “you want to get the best hitters the most at bats?” Somebody wake him up and tell him. Please.

    Rivera should hit 12th. That said? Heyward should hit 11th. He’s 2016 and a half J-Hey. He’ll sprinkle in a hard liner every now and again, but for the most part his at bats are brutal. I tolerate him because of the defense. Sure he Solered one, but he made up for it.

    Maddon insists and throwing the same guys out there day after day regardless of how they do. That’s just horrible managing. I know the players need to execute – but a manager needs to a) put his players in the best position for them to do well, and b) put the team in the best position, ALWAYS, regardless of player’s feelings, to WIN. Joe Maddon does NOT do that.

    Almora catches that ball.

    As Cap’n pointed out via text last night – “why was Schwarber bearing down on Happ like a strong safety?” He had no chance to get that ball, and probably scared the shit out of Happ, who was trying to keep his eye on the ball and the wall…he gave it a good shot…but Almora catches that ball.

    Just in case you needed to remember what a great outfielder he is. You know, since he hardly plays and all.

    I think I need some time off.

    Don’t even get me started on the bullshitpen – Wilson is horrible, Rondidn’t can’t, and Strop, besides being a moron, is a moron. And unreliable.

    Yeah, they lead the division. Yeah, the beat up bad teams recently. Yeah, yeah, yeah. They will be a postseason embarrassment if they get there unless changes happen…

    • OMG yes. Embarrassing. That’s it. You nailed it. This team will be embarrassed in the playoffs. Sure they look nice (sometimes) when they’re batting against Reds pitching, but no one they will face in the post season is worse than even the Reds best pitcher. And if the Reds’ pitching didn’t suck, they’d have lost all three because the bullpen couldn’t contain the Reds’ offense. Ergo, they won’t contain the offense of any playoff team either.

      The talent this team has is wasted and the struggles shine bright.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Agreed about the talent. That’s what makes this more frustrating than prior shitty teams. At least when they sucked before, we knew they would be the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked.

      • Sherm

        And against the potential NL playoff teams? They are 10 – 16. (AZ, CO, LAD, WAS)

        Against the AL potential playoff teams? 2 – 6. (BOS, NYY, TB)

    • cap’n realist

      Neither Happ nor Schwarber should have been in the game late last night. If one of them HAS to be out there, neither should be in center field. Schwarber’s got no business galloping that close to Happ on that play, if he’s backing up the play, that backup is 40 feet in front of Happ in case the ball careens off the wall. Another example that Schwarber really is just running around out there with a glove on, and has no idea how to field that position. And before anyone tells me his feeds to Baez on cutoff plays have been splendid, those feeds are made to look much better by Baez’ footwork before he receives those throws. Schwarber isn’t leading Baez into those throws, Baez’ feet are constantly getting him into excellent position. That being said, he does have a strong arm…he straight bullies the ball with sheer force and size. In my opinion, he’s a PRIME candidate for winter ball, where they should put him out there every day. Baez is so good at shortstop it’s crazy. Maddon has straight up screwed him out of 2 gold gloves now by not putting him somewhere and LEAVING him there.

  • Bruce Fritz

    Sure a sweep over the Reds would have been nice, but the Cubs are finally starting to beat up on the bad teams like they should have been doing all year. With the schedule they have coming up, they can beat up on enough bad teams to inflate their record and get the hype train going just in time to get swept out of the playoffs!

  • Bryzzo1744

    Joe Maddon is managing this roster like Dusty Baker did in Chicago. I’m going to search the Civil War archives and see if Len Kasper and Joe Buck were ever Confederate soldiers. After what ESPN did with Robert Lee, there’s a good chance they’ll suffer the same fate if such is found.

  • Junior Von White

    When Russell comes back, I want zobrist and Russell to split time at 2B until one of them plays like they’re sposed to. I want schwarber to be a PH only, and throw in an occasional day of 1B to give Rizzo some time off ( I bet his numbers would improve dramatically). I want Baez at Short every day until further notice. I NEVER want to see Schwarber or Zobrist go near an outfield ever again. Give me Jon Jay, Almora, and Heyward in that order, sprinkle in some Happ to give those guys some rest, or put him at second with zobrist and Russell. Happ should be the only “utility” player, as he can play outfield and 2B. NO ONE ELSE should play out of position because they aren’t any good at it, or rather, the team is not the best when there are good athletes playing out of position. Throw in LaStella as an emergency option and suddenly this team is scary.

    Jon Jay-LF
    Javier Baez-SS
    Kris Bryant-3B
    Anthony Rizzo-1B
    Willson Contreras-C
    Albert Almora-CF
    Jason Heyward-RF

    LaStella (as needed, otherwise AAA)

    That is a scary starting lineup both on defense and offense, and an even scarier bench.

    I won’t even start on pitching.

    • Michael S.

      While I’m pro-Schwarber-as-a-1B-eventually-if-he-has-to-stick-with-an-NL-team, I don’t really think this is the time to get him going at another position. Seems like a surefire way to make ‘bunt it to 1st all day’ a viable offensive strategy for opposing teams.

      • Junior Von White

        They never got him going at LF. Put him at 1B and try it (im all for trying new things, just not sticking with “new things” that have not worked after repeated attempts (see Schwarber batting at the top of the lineup)) if he fails, back to AAA it is.

      • Michael S.

        If this were still, say June, or we were way back in the division (like, making the Reds look good way back), or if Rizzo suddenly got suspended for 5 games for looking at CB Bucknor the wrong way and hurt his feelings, I could go along with that.

        Fact is though, they’ve got a slim lead, and as bad as reliving 2007/2008’s postseason at the hands of the Nats would be, I’d rather not risk any more musical chairs and give up the spot…especially not to the Brewers. Take the best guys you’ve got–the ones we all here can identify, not the ones Joe keeps tossing out there to flail like a tee-baller–play ’em often as you can, play some proper baseball, and tinker in Spring.

      • Junior Von White

        I will not disagree with that. Schwarber really has no business playing for the major league club, but I find it hard to believe they will send him down until further notice. If he MUST stay, please stop putting him in the outfield.

      • Michael S.

        They won’t; if they were serious about him working things out at Iowa, he would still be there right now.

      • Sweet Jesus can you imagine Schwarber at first with No-Field Lester on the mound? Just forfeit.

      • Junior Von White

        Don’t forget Rizzo at third.

      • Doug S.

        Strop at 2nd. Let’s not forget – every pro ballplayer can play every position.

      • Michael S.

        That’d be how you get an infield inside-the-park home run.

      • Sherm

        You’d get an inside-the-infield home run.

    • Sherm

      Great commentary.

      Was it you that debated with me a few weeks ago about who should play shortstop? Not sure…

      I love Addison Russell, and I think he’s on his way to becoming a great ballplayer, but I’ll say this – he’ll NEVER be the shortstop that Javy Baez CAN be if they just leave him there to develop. Russell can play second base, and he has. He could probably play LF, too, if need be – but I like him in the middle.

      Honestly as a LH bat off the bench? I’d take Tommy LaStella 100 times out of 100 times over Kyle Schwarber at this point in their careers. Maybe someday I’ll rethink that. Not right now. Schwarber is getting tons of at bats and guys like LaStella (and Almora. And Jay) sit. it’s silly. Almora comes up billed as the next great CF, and has pretty much proven it with his glove, and is starting to hit. To me? He reminds me of Pillar on the Blue Jays. Who wouldn’t start THAT guy? Hell, we start Heyward for ONE REASON ONLY – defensive runs saved. Almora deserves the same respect. Problem is that Maddon only shows SOME players respect and not others, and for the life of me, I don’t get it. It’s not respect 90. It’s respect 12, and not the right twelve. They better get the most out of these guys while they have them, because I think you’ll see a mass exodus when they become free agents. Why would Hendricks stay? Or Baez? Or Almora?

      Glad you didn’t start on pitching. My head would have exploded.

      I’m pissed at the Cubs management/coaching, not the players.

      I love this blog. Just sayin’

      • Adam Peters

        I think there are 184 million reasons they are starting Heyward.

      • Sherm

        Sure, but 183,999,994 of them have to do with defense.

      • Junior Von White

        I’d say lightly debated, yes. I think Russell could be better/have a longer career than Baez because Russell seems to have more mental talent while Baez has more physical talent (I will also add that both are very very good when at their best). In other words, if I was forced to pick one for the next 15 years, I’d pick Russell. But I don’t have to pick one so I’ll keep them both; one at SS and one at 2B. However right now, it MUST be Baez at SS until further notice (I think I said that before too).

        I agree with LaStella over Schwarber too, but if the organization needs to continue their over commitment to Kyle, then leave on the bench (that’s already an overcommitment).

        I cant help but think of other dynasties and their successful teams too. How many different players were on the Yankees, Cardinals, and Giants when they won the WS multiple times in a decade? I’m pretty sure it’s a lot. only a few players can be cornerstones, the rest come and go based on what puts the team in the best position to keep winning.

      • Junior Von White

        I posted a reply but it didn’t go through for some reason. Am I the only one that has had this problem?

      • Michael S.

        I saw it twice before I closed and reopened the tab…the first time, then the second time you mentioned that you started on your phone then edited on PC. No clue where it may have gone.

        I’ve not had any problems, to my knowledge.

      • Junior Von White

        I tried one more time. Thanks for the response. This is the second time I’ve had this happen. I’m guessing it’s more than a coincidence, and it’s probably something on my end.

      • It’s really weird, because usually if something doesn’t post (like if you swore like a sailor or posted a questionable link) I would be able to see it awaiting moderation. But it’s not in the moderation queue either and I remember neither was the last one, the other time this happened.

        Also weird is that I received email notification of your response just like all the others, no indication that it didn’t really post.

        Hunch: are you and Senior VW by chance using the same computer with both accounts, just switching back and forth? I don’t know why that would cause anything weird to happen but it would be unique to you.

      • And here’s something funny. I had to post this reply twice too. Lol. So ignore my hunch!

      • Bryzzo1744

        Just blame it on Bill Gates

      • Junior Von White

        Maybe it isn’t just me! We rarely use the same computer, and each instance this has happened we have not been using the same computer. I created and submitted the comment from my phone, and then I edited it on my computer after posting. Maybe that creates an authentication issue? I guess that’s my hunch. I mentioned it in a disappearing post so I apologize if I am being reptetive.

      • Yep and I saw it too, not actually on the site but through my email notifications. That’s also how I was able to re-post your post on your behalf the last time this happened, from the email I got since I couldn’t see it on the site either. Ghosts.

      • Junior Von White

        Ok, one more try:

        I’d say lightly debated, yes. I think Russell could have a better/longer career than Baez because Russell seems to have more mental talent while Baez has more physical talent (I will also add that both are very very good when at their best). In other words, if I was forced to pick one for the next 15 years, I’d pick Russell. But I don’t have to pick one so I’ll keep both; one at SS and one at 2B. However, right now it MUST be Baez at SS until further notice (I think I said that before too).

        I agree with LaStella over Schwarber. If the organization needs to continue its overcommitment to Kyle, then leave him on the bench (that’s already an overcommitment).

        On a slightly different note, I can’t help but think of other dynasties and their successful teams. How many different players were on the Yankees, Cardinals, and Giants when each won the WS multiple times in a decade? I’m pretty sure it’s a lot. Only a few players can be cornerstones, the rest come and go based on what puts the team in the best position to win. Fans are supposed to get attached to players, management is supposed to be cold and heartless when making roster decisions.

        As far the mass exodus, the thought of players like Almora and Hendricks winning for other teams makes me sad. But why wouldn’t they leave? If I were them, I would.

  • Doug S.

    As for the Schwarber situation, it’s as though he has this immunity from high up (Theo) who may be rethinking that immunity.

  • Doc Raker

    “Bunch of whiners” King of the Sawth

    • Doug S.

      Guilty as charged.

    • Michael S.

      But we’re DEFINITELY headed to the postseason, so we shouldn’t look at the bad stuff happening, no siree Doc!

      • Doc Raker

        Definitely, just like Hillary would win.

      • Sherm

        She’d probably win against the Cubs.

      • Doc Raker

        Can you imagine Hillary reaching first base, “Why is this man standing so close to me, it is making my skin crawl. Then, when I lead off he stood behind me, I could literally feel his breath on my back, it is creepy playing baseball.”

      • Sherm

        But can she bunt? Is she willing to move the runner over? Does she know the strike zone? If so, maybe it’s worth a shot.