View From The Bleachers

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Friday

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September 2017

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Written by , Posted in General

The sound you heard might have been the Cubs clicking. Maybe not, but maybe so. I’ll say this – if they’ve waited until now to kick it into gear…but start playing great? I can live with that. It’s not how you start.

I saw yesterday that the coaching staff had the team out early – for the second day in a row – to work on basic infield fundamentals, and baserunning strategy. Obviously, they read this blog. I mean, obviously. And it was with something close to disbelief that I watched the game and the OFFENSIVE strategy last night. But, wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. First, in case you missed it – let’s recap the game.

Despite getting squeezed BAD by HORRIBLE umpire CB Bucknor, Kyle Hendricks was still excellent. I’ll venture to say that any other Cub pitcher pitches into trouble last night. Lackey probably snaps and has the first recorded knockout of an ump. Lester’s head would have exploded. Hendricks simply slowed it down a notch, and made the Braves miss. With that idiot behind the plate, I’d say he pitched a great game. The bullpen, despite Bucknor, didn’t falter. Wilson struck out the side in the ninth. Hell froze.

Cubs got a couple in the first – the most impressive coming on a shortened Javy Baez swing and a single to right field. For impact, and so that you don’t have to go back and read that again: a shortened Javy Baez swing and a single to right field. Yes. You read it right. And, it wasn’t the only time he tried to go that way. Seems like the high leg kick was absent yesterday. Hmmm. Kris Bryant, who broke it open with a 2 run homer in the sixth, also tried to hit the ball the other way earlier. Almora singled to right and flew out to right, twice. Rivera got an RBI by walking with the bases loaded. The offense was almost…clicking?

Ben Zobrist put down a beautiful bunt to move the runner in the fourth – it didn’t lead to a run, but it was well executed and a very productive out. If he knew how to run fast, he’d have probably beaten it.

Oh. And Jon Jay had four hits and scored two runs.

So, despite nine K’s, they were productive and effective last night. And I kept asking myself “what’s different?” And then it punched me right in the head. The top of the order. It’s being PRODUCTIVE. Let’s review. First three hitters: 7 – 13 with FIVE runs scored. Just typing that makes me weepy. That’s what “tops of orders” do. So why hasn’t the Cub machine being doing that? Ummm…because a guy hitting a buck ninety something has been there most of the year? It’s not rocket surgery. Jay gets on. Zobrist either moves him over or knocks him in. Bryant actually gets a few RBI’s. Cubs get a lead. The rest of the offensive follows suit. It happened all year last year. It hasn’t happened this year. Until NOW. Let’s HOPE it continues.

Defense. Normally steady Zobrist booted a ball at second. Only his second error of the year. It happens. I give him a pass. Led to an unearned run. Ian Happ looked like Ian Anderson in right field on one ball that should have been caught, but Hendricks pitched through that without harm. There’s gonna be another “oh” – wait for it…

Oh. ALBERT ALMORA IS A GREAT CENTERFIELDER. Not only did he make a fantastic diving (running in) catch to end an inning and save runs, but he effortlessly ran down two or three balls that would have been a lot more “exciting” with anyone else out there. If I were a Cub pitcher? I’d be begging to have him in the lineup every day.

Non game related stuff:

The Cubs are supposedly desperate to find a back up shortstop for Baez in case Russell is out more than a couple weeks. Maddon’s comment: “I really believe we have to keep Javy well. We really have to protect him Javy…I have to give him a day off now and then.” My response to that? He’s a young stud with a barrel of energy in the middle of a pennant race. He doesn’t need time off. He’s not Joe’s age. What did Javy have to say? “I’ll do whatever I can to help the team. Shortstop is my natural position. I’ve rested all year on the days I didn’t play – this is what I WANT – to play everyday.”

Other news – Justin Verlander WANTED to play for the Cubs. The Cubs couldn’t pull it off because they had given up their blue chip talent already. Unfortunately. He’d have been a great addition. A great competitor – and a big game guy. Astros just got a lot better for the stretch run. The Cubs did however, make an addition. They acquired Leonys Martin from the Mariners for absolutely no apparent reason whatsoever.

I saw a Len Kasper tweet that started with the word “goodbye” and I got really excited for a moment. But he was just saying goodbye to August, because, you know, months have feelings, too.

I don’t know if the minor leagues are even still playing. Nor do I care. So there’s your minor league “report.”

If you haven’t read and commented on yesterday’s GirlieView – go back and do it. NOW.

  • Junior Von White

    I noticed last year that Hendricks always got the “B-team lineup,” and Maddon would rest normal starters. The irony is that this year the B-team is a lot better than the so called “A-team.”

    I expect the usual inexplicable lineups and defense to continue despite yesterday’s great game.

    • Michael S.

      That’s some good predicting, there. Zobrist and Schwarber hitting 1-2 again today.

      Does Maddon not understand ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’? Last night’s lineup definitely wasn’t broke.

      • Sherm

        Well, it’s not like Jon Jay had four hits or anything.

        In that article we all read last week, didn’t he say there was some magic element of how someone is “doing right now” versus a longer “stat run”? Or maybe Brad said it, I don’t know. Whatever. Obviously HOT HAND means absolutely nothing to Joe Maddon.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        Well it is obvious, JJ did not hit four grand slams, therefore Schwabs get to play today.

      • Junior Von White

        And why does Happ play more than Almora? That probably confuses me the most. I like Happ, but seriously? If I were Almora I would be furious.

  • Eddie Von White

    Really good write up, Sherm. It was a fun game to watch with no head scratching. However, I had to mute the TV when JD raised his voice to a shout during one of the sponsor reads. I was embarrassed for him. I think he’s a psycho. I already commented on GirlieView.

    • Doc Raker

      If you were sitting next to Len day in and day out not having a conversation with him while you try and talk baseball wouldn’t you go psycho to?

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        Even if I sat next to Len silently, I would go all psycho on him. Not just crazy psycho Mr. Bates psycho.

  • Doc Raker

    Nice write up Sherm, King of the Nawth Sawth East and West must be happy now.

  • Doug S.

    Could not watch game, great recap, thanks. Very happy for Hendricks pitching into the 7th for the 2nd straight game.

    Roster expansion day. More toys for Joe or insurance?

  • Doc Raker

    Hendricks is looking like the Cy Young pitcher he was last year, this is great timing. If Lester comes back as expected it will mean Quintana or Lackey will be out of the playoff rotation. Who do you think will be the 4th pitcher in the playoff rotation? Do you think they keep both and piggy back a game with both of them?

    • Michael S.

      There’s no way Lackey should be anywhere near a playoff rotation this year. I’m not sure I’d like him to see much use out of the ‘pen. It should look something like this:

      Arrieta, Hendricks, Lester, Quintana (for the LDS, Quintana hangs out in the bullpen in case something/someone breaks).

      • Sherm

        The LDS should be very interesting. Knowing that Maddon will want 15 pitchers and 3 catchers NOT counting Schwarber, he may not have enough position players to start games.

      • Michael S.

        He’ll just start Rizzo at 3rd, Primavera at 1st, Bryant in the outfield somewhere, and, uh…I think the rest can work out. Just don’t look for any double switches.

      • Seymour Butts

        The “Latter Day Saints” are indeed an interesting bunch.

    • Sherm

      Honestly, right now? I’d keep Montgomery in the rotation for the playoffs if they started right now. What I LOVE about him? First pitch strikes.

      In the playoffs, you go with the hot hand. Not the old hand. Not the experienced and grizzly “I’ll kick yer ass” hand. Not the “used to be good” hand. HOT. In this case, it’s Arrieta, Hendricks and Montgomery. Lester will bounce back and be good because he is good. He just had a headache from the eclipse. Or whatever.

      Caveat. Nothing I just wrote will happen. They gave up too much for Quintana, so he has to be in the rotation. It’s like playing Jason Heyward. Right or wrong, they feel they gotta do it. Monty goes to the pen…because long relief matters in the postseason (eye roll.) And Maddon will announce that his playoff rotation is, in this order: Lester, Arrieta, Quintana, Hendricks.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        I hope your first part is right and the last part is wrong, but if the last part is right, I hope Quintana figures out what was wrong with his last six starts, and performs like he did in his first start as a Cub. My preferred order right now is Arrieta, Lester, Hendricks, Montgomery.

      • Brad Lyerla

        Quintana is a very good pitcher. I am not saying that Montgomery isn’t. But Quintana is high quality. You wait and see . . .

      • Bryzzo1744

        He will be a valuable part long term but right now everything is about this year

      • Brad Lyerla

        I am talking about this year. Its too early to set your post season rotation. It’s a month away.

      • Sherm

        I’m not saying he isn’t – I’m just saying simply that Montgomery is pitching better right now.

      • Doc Raker

        Hendricks should be in front of Quintana

  • Adam Peters

    Cal Ripkin Jr. play for OVER SIXTEEN CONSECUTIVE SEASONS at shortstop without a single day off, and Maddon is worried about “protecting” Baez because he’s only had 14 days off THIS SEASON? WTF?!?!

    Honestly, people are so coddled these days. From children right on up.

    • Dork

      This comment makes you sound like an old man.

      • Dork

        i remember when cokes were a nickel

      • Eddie Von White

        I remember when cokes were a nickel and you got three cents back for the empty bottle. And I remember when Coca~Cola had cocaine in it.

      • Adam Peters

        So be it. I’m old enough to still be tethered to the truth.

        Players these days are pu$$ies.

      • Brad Lyerla

        Just because something stood the test of time doesn’t make it right. But it is a clue that it might be right and should not be discarded lightly.

        However, when it comes to rest, I think we know now that it helps performance more than was believed true in the past. Even the freakin’ doctors are re-thinking how many hours they make interns and new residents work. Fatigue erodes performance. And fatigue is real.

        We have a deep team. It makes sense to give the guys their rest.

      • Bryzzo1744

        This is like the NBA. In Jordan’s day it was a badge of honor to play all 82 games. Fast forward 20 years later, LeBron has been in the league 14 years and has never played all 82 games. Not even once.

      • Eddie Von White

        You sound like one of the people Adam is desribing

      • 7source7

        I’m with you Adam. Seriously, 20 something kids playing a whole 3 hours a game they love, sitting on a bench half the game. Then getting 6 months off. I can’t believe fatigue would be an issue.

    • Bryzzo1744

      He played 2,632 consecutive games.

      • cap’n realist

        How many were on Thursdays?

  • Michael S.

    Baez scored from second on some kind of Schwarber infield single.

    One of the most unlikely sentences I’ve ever thought I’d write.

    • Doug S.

      Baez has one speed, flat out.

      • Seymour Butts

        …and moxie.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        I always liked moxie.

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      It would be more unlikely if it was Schwarbs scoring from second on Baez’s infield single.

      • Michael S.

        If I saw that happen I’d promptly be taking myself to the nearest hospital to be evaluated for a stroke.

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    Someone in management must read this blog. Maddon just replaced Schwarbs with Almora, when Schwarbs would have been the first to bat in the 8th. I read that the Cubs have actually been coming in earlier this week to work on fundamentals and base running. Maybe this team is just now starting to get serious about winning.

    • Eddie Von White

      Everyone in management reads this blog.

  • Brad Lyerla

    Lackey has done all you could ask for the second half. Will it silence his critics on View from the Bleachers?

    Don’t hold your breath . . .

    • Doug S.

      I don’t know if I’ve been one of the more frequent Lackey bashers or not. Many times I’ve seen him struggle early, then settle in and have a good outing. More of the same today, gives up a lead off single, then a wild pitch to advance the runner. I’m thinking ‘buckle up’. Then he pitched 7 scoreless innings. Shuts me up for now.

      He seems like a hot pot, ready to boil over. If we entertain the idea of him in the pen during post season, is there a role for him other than long relief?

      • Eddie Von White

        That’s the trouble with him – you never know who’s gonna show up on game day. It’s the same fear that Jon Lester is starting to instill. He gave up 10 runs in one inning this year and 9 runs once. Was he really injured or is he starting to lose it?

    • Sherm

      Neigh. Or is it nay?

      Lackey, at this point, is an inning eater only. You send him out there and hope for the best. If he can go 12-10 you consider that a huge success. Does he pitch in the playoffs? I sure hope not.

      • Brad Lyerla

        You have not been watching without bias? Your description was fair before the break. Since the break, he has pitched very well. We have won 8 of his last 9 starts (or something like that).

        I am not advocating that he should start in the post season. But he has been highly satisfactory as a number 4. The Lackey bashing is getting tiresome, when the guy is actually doing his job.

      • Michael S.

        Cubs have also won the last 3 games Justin Wilson has appeared in; that doesn’t mean he’s an elite reliever.

        At least a few times in that 9-10 start stretch, the Cubs haven’t won because Lackey has been good or done his job any better than the average SP; it’s been *despite* him being on the mound.

      • Brad Lyerla

        The Cubs are 9-1 in Lackey’s last 10 starts, and he’s 3-0 with a 2.48 ERA in his last five starts at Wrigley Field. Yesterday, he picked up his 11th win, matching his 2016 season total.

        No one is saying that he suddenly is Cy Young. But he is doing his job at the bottom of the rotation. There are problems with the team, but he is not one of them at this point in the season.

      • Doc Raker

        Lackey pitched well his last time out but he gives up runs and is a 4 to 5 inning pitcher. I have the least amount of confidence in Lackey verse the other 5 mentioned. MMM has pitched very well, better than Quintana as far as my eyes have seen.

      • Brad Lyerla

        Doc, all I am saying about Lackey is that he is doing well for a number five. No one thinks he should be in the post season rotation.

        As for MMM and Quintana, MMM has pitched better, but infrequenty. Q throws strikes and gets lots of Ks. He is giving up too much hard contact right now. Maddon has not done him any favors with defensive line ups.

        This month will tell us a lot.

      • Seymour Butts

        Don’t care about ugly, only care about wins. The Cubs win when Lackey starts. Hard to say don’t pitch him in an important game just because he’s a prick, or unattractive.

      • Eddie Von White

        That’s easy for you to say.

      • Seymour Butts

        My mother thinks I’m handsome.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Why do you call him MMM? His middle name is Paul

      • Sherm

        The P is silent

      • Doc Raker

        Mr. Mike Montegomery

  • Kyle

    Today seems like one of those games where no matter how many runs the Cubs score, they’re just not going to win.

    • Kyle

      Rizzo has got to be playing himself into MVP talks. Holy cow is he on fire! P.s. 100 RBIs.

      • Sherm

        Yeah. And Baez looks exhausted. (Eye roll)

      • Kyle

        You don’t think so? I’m not saying he has a shot at winning it, just that he’s playing himself into maybe top 5 consideration.

      • Sherm

        I totally agree with you. And Rizzo plays every day. I was eye-rolling Maddon who thinks that Baez needs rest.

      • Kyle

        Ah, gotcha. He thinks Baez needs rest, yet he plays Schwarber every day… I think this year it’s “go against your instincts” year.

      • Eddie Von White

        I’m not sure he has any instincts.

  • Doc Raker

    What will you do to celebrate Cardinal Elimination Day? Better start planning, it is just 21 Cub wins or Cardinal losses away.

    Cardinals could not hold a 1-0 lead in the 9th inning in San Francisco and lost in the 10th on a walk off home run. It was very enjoyable.

  • Doug S.

    Odd game yesterday. After Rivera’s salami I was foolish enough to think they’d coast to W and watched some college football. Check back and it’s close, watch a bit, nice lead again. Repeat.

    • Sherm

      The baseball Gods are far mightier than the college football Gods. Don’t mess with them.

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    I was at yesterday’s game, and have one question, Why is it Rondon was the only pitcher who knew how to pitch in garbage time? He threw strikes and pitched the only relief inning the Braves did not score.

    • Doug S.

      I’ve seen Rondon and garbage in the same sentence for other reasons.

      • Eddie Von White

        I’ve seen Rondon and the trash in the same sentence for other reasons.

  • Doug S.

    I’d like to take credit as a certified idiot. Been watching baseball on MLBTV for years, mostly on an Internet TV device or phone, less frequently on computer. It wasn’t until today…….today, watching on computer, that I realized I could select either video feed AND alternate audio feeds perfectly synced. A definite shake my head out of the sand moment.

    As for the game…..winning 4 in a row against the same team is hard to do. Baez leaving the game may have taken the wind out of the Cubs and as a friend suggested, out of the fans.

    • Eddie Von White

      Those were my thoughts exactly.

    • Doc Raker

      Yep, watch the game and listen to Pat Hughes and Cooms or the oppositions feed. Never Len. Mark me down as a Never Lener.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Len today: To get into Dillon Maple’s family history we have to go up the Maples tree. Later he said maple puns are too sappy.

      • Doug S.

        Just jettisoned Jessica for the WFAN audio. Love it!!!