View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



September 2017



Keeping the Line Movin’

Written by , Posted in General

And once again, the roller coaster seems to be on an uphill climb, with the Cubs taking the last game of the series and season against the Pirates, 8-2, and the season series against them by the narrowest of margins, 10 games to 9–the closest to even it’s been in a couple of years.

The lineup was a rather sane one tonight, with Ian Happ leading off (someone has to, thank god it wasn’t Kyle Schwarber) and Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo moving up a spot.  Top of the order worked out well, letting the Cubs strike first with a run in the first after the delayed start.  They’d keep bringing guys around for half the game, hammering away for runs without the benefit of a home run until the 7th.  For a while, the pattern was getting so regular that it seemed possible the Cubs could wind up scoring 1 run per inning for the game–an occurrence I’m sure isn’t particularly common, but I’m not running over to baseball-reference to find out just how uncommon it is.  It’s nice to see some variety in how guys are coming around in games that aren’t total blowouts.

Oh, and that home run?  Courtesy of Albert Almora, who replaced Schwarber in the home half of the 5th.  On the first pitch he’d seen all night.  Contrast that with Schwarber’s 0-3 night (that surprisingly included no strikeouts), stranding 5 baserunners.

Lester pitched well, but wasn’t particularly efficient; if a guy is gonna chuck the ball 100+ times, you’d like to see the end of his night coming after 7 innings, except maybe in April when guys aren’t fully stretched out yet.  Not a horrible night, but as October and bullpen questions loom–right now, outside of Wade Davis and maybe Brian Duensing, who can you trust?–the starters need to get deep into games.

Here’s a thought…

Heard a…different idea earlier today on my drive home from work on ESPN 1000: a scenario where Alex Avila–who has been hitting well, particularly with runners in scoring position, since coming to Chicago–catches and Willson Contreras mans left field, relegating Schwarber to the bench, or perhaps banishing him from the postseason roster.  On one hand, you’re losing a bit defensively going from Contreras to Avila behind the plate, but keep your LF defense probably about the same (maybe a smidge of improvement); on the other hand, you’ll probably see a pretty good improvement in the offense, especially if Willson is good to go at the plate.  Plus, so long as he stays in the game, you can move him behind the plate for defense later if you want, especially in a close game.

Do I see it actually happening?  Probably not.  Is it the worst idea in the world?  Obviously not, I had that one a while back evidently.

Oh, and in his first rehab game with Myrtle Beach: 0-2 with a strikeout before being removed in the Pelicans’ loss to Down East.

Oh %$#@!

In non-Chicago baseball news, apparently a window, siding, and door outfit in Cleveland ran a promotion that would give customers a rebate for all work completed during the month of July if the Cleveland Indians won 15 games in a row on a win streak that started in the month of August.  Well, Thursday night was Cleveland’s 15th straight win, which means someone, somewhere, is going to be signing off on some pricey checks.  An ESPN article indicated the value of the rebates would total around $1.7 million.

I hope this promo was insured in some way, or…ouch.

Weather and Postponements

Going on a bit of a tangent here, so bear with me.  But, as we’ve all seen, the hurricanes in Texas and now coming to Florida have been wreaking havoc on scheduling of sports events (as have the wildfires in the Northwest, to be fair): previously, the Astros’ series against the Rangers was moved to Tampa, and another game against the Mets was delayed into a doubleheader after; now, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans’ playoff schedule has been condensed due to weather and the approaching hurricane, with a game today, and a possible decisive doubleheader back in Myrtle Beach on Friday–for a series that normally is 5 games.  But the biggest adjustment of the year has to be the postponement of the Miami Dolphins’ Week 1 game against Tampa being postponed until the teams’ mutual bye week–meaning these teams will play 16 straight weeks.

These issues are unavoidable, the weather can’t be controlled…but the options taken are not always the best of all possible options–surely, with 14 other vacant stadiums for week 1, there was somewhere that game could be played.

  • cap’n realist

    Yeah…because an NFL owner is going to forego the full revenue generated by a home game. The stadium could blow away this weekend, and they’ll postpone until its rebuilt.

    • Sherm

      Same morons who want to extend Goodell’s contract until the end of time…

    • Bryzzo1744

      Stupid! When Katrina rendered the SuperDome unusable, the Saints played a “home” game against the Giants at wait for it… GIANTS STADIUM! I was doing my picks for college football this weekend, and most of the Florida schools have cancelled their games this weekend, even the ones traveling.

      • cap’n realist

        do your parents know you gamble?

      • Bryzzo1744

        Not gambling. My weekly predictions that I make on facebook.

      • UIC over t*ishichan

  • Doug S.

    Roller coaster is accurate. These guys can make a believer out of us one day and rip that away the next game. Not sure I can handle sane and lineup in the same sentence. Nice time to have the largest division lead of the year.

    Is the NFL smart or lucky that both teams had their bye week 11?

    • Michael S.

      If the NFL scheduling people were smart enough to plan for a potential cancellation of a week 1 game, with a postponement plan…*they* need to be running the weather service instead (not that the folks already there are doing a bad job; these guys would just be plain better at it).

      • Doug S.

        Agree, probably luck, though we know S FL is a risk in Sept.

  • Sherm

    Couple of comments (don’t believe that – I could go and on. It’s happened before)

    The football game SHOULD have been relocated to an empty stadium – and if anyone had asked the PLAYERS? That’s what they would have wanted. But ownerships (plural) saw that as a monetary LOSS and figured (apparently) “rest is over-rated in football, who needs the bye week?”

    The top of the Cub order is consistently more productive WITHOUT Scwharber anywhere near it. Obviously, the MIDDLE of the order would be, too. Last two years – he was clutch. Now he IS a clutch. I don’t know if they have effectively RUINED him as a major league hitter? But they might have.

    Now – I love Kris Bryant, as does just about every Cub fan, but he has NO business batting second. EVER. I don’t care about “more at bats for the best hitters” and all that rhetoric. Success in baseball is based on production – and production comes in many forms…including outs. Bryant does NOT make productive outs. (Nor does Happ. Just saying.) Bryant will never “move a runner over.” NOR SHOULD HE. He’s a power hitter and his production should be in the form of driving in runs. He has not done that this year, and that’s because of his spot in the order. He’s a 3, 4 or 5 hitter, and should really never be anyplace else. I’d like to see him 4 or 5. Behind RIzzo. Michael noted that Scwarber left five men on base in three at bats. I thought it was 14, but let’s go with five. That could have been a disaster. Fortunately, other guys brought their bats. Someone please tell Joe Maddon that he’s not managing in the AL any more.

    Contreras needs to catch. I’ve toyed that in my head, too, but the ANSWER for this team is to have Almora in centerfield EVERY game. Until he shows that he CANNOT hit at this level – he needs to play and play and play. To me? He’s improving. Other guys? Not so much. Fuck the DOLLARS, so I don’t want to hear it, but they play Heyward just about every day and cite his defense for doing it…which is all you can cite, because even though he’s better than he was last year…we all know he still isn’t a very good hitter. He has moments with hits, sure, but I’d like my star corner outfielder to have maybe TEN homers by now? My point, if defense is as important as we know it is? Almora needs to play everyday. To me, that moves the switch hitting Happ to left field, which he should SHARE with Jay, and Jay should spell Almora, every so often against certain pitchers, and probably spell Heyward at times, too. That’s the outfield. Leave it alone.

    If/when Russell comes back, and we all know Joe puts him right back at short, which in my opinion, is wrong (he should go to second base – directly.) Anyway, Joe will put him at SS, and Baez back at second, which he’ll have to SHARE with Zobrist, because I HAVE NO IDEA WHY. Zobrist – who is a great guy, sure – should be this team’s version of basketball’s sixth man. First guy off the bench at a handful of positions. Spot starter, but not a starter. End of discussion. Also, won’t happen, because I HAVE NO IDEA WHY.

    Lester got the win, but he got hit pretty hard. Also, underhanding the ball to first when you have a chance at a) lead runner at third, or b) a double play? Pathetic. On the plus side, he has become a better hitter than Schwarber. Here’s the thing with that. When Lester came over to the NL, he was the worst hitting pitcher in baseball (I think that is factual…or very close.) Now? He’s pretty good at it. How can that be? Oh…he worked at it? Oh…he took more batting practice? So, WHY CAN’T HE WORK AT THROWING THE BALL OVERHAND TO A BASE? BECAUSE I HAVE NO IDEA WHY. HOLY HELL.

    They need to beat up the Brewers, which won’t be easy – the Brewers have assembled a pretty decent team of players who believe they can win.

    That’s it. For now.

    • Michael S.

      Honestly, I’m surprised the NFLPA isn’t throwing a temper tantrum over it and deploying the lawyers. Lord knows they’ve gotten in the fray for lesser grievances. Granted, this is the same union that took a CBA back to their players that let Goodell by judge, jury, and executioner, and were surprised when he started acting the part. But, hey, he’s Robert Kraft’s sockpuppet, so he ain’t going anywhere.

      I’ve always been of a mind that, no matter the contract, if a guy ain’t worth playing, let him ride the bench. Unless you talk some other schmuck GM into taking his contract, you’re stuck paying the same whether he plays or not; if he’s costing you wins by being on the field, don’t put him on the field. A lesson they should have learned from the end of the Soriano era.

      I wouldn’t put Zobrist in as the ‘sixth man’ type right now; I’d give that to La Stella, at least for infield spots. Zobrist just isn’t good at the plate, and feels like he’s lost a step on the field–not that he’s bad, but he’s certainly no better than TLS right now.

      I had blocked that Lester softball pitch to first from my head, because it felt like surrendering a run; thanks for reminding me. But, yeah, when he came over, he was the worst hitter of all time…think he went like 0-63 to start his career at the plate, before getting his first hit, which I’m pretty sure was a record.

      • Sherm

        ONLY reason I consider Zobrist over LaStella for “sixth man” is that he CAN play the outfield. He’s no Kevin Pillar, but he’s no Kyle Schwarber, either. You are spot on, though, TLS is a far superior hitter (who should be starting SOMEWHERE) and probably will be next season (wherever Arrieta goes, since they are best friends, and Jake has stated publicly that “you can get us both…it’s a package deal”)

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      Hey Sherm you should wright an article and title it “I HAVE NO IDEA WHY”, and interview Joe Maddon in it.

      • Michael S.

        Or record a podcast. Except it ends with about 2 minutes of guttural noise.

      • Doc Raker

        With the words ‘moment’ and ‘special’ sprinkled in

    • SouthCarolinaCubFan1991

      Charlotte (@SanFran) and Atlanta (@DaBears) were perfect opportunities. Hell, they’d end up being home games anyway with everyone evacuating Florida right now……..but what do I know

      • Sherm

        No way the Falcons allow someone else to be the first team to play in that new Stadium…which is spectacular from what I hear. Charlotte would have been ideal. Other teams OFFERED their stadiums…

      • SouthCarolinaCubFan1991

        Georgia Tech? I mean, dont get me wrong, I know they’re prolly considered “family” down in Hotlanta, but that can’t be an excuse because we both know what the real deciding factor would be??? The almighty dollar

      • Bryzzo1744

        That’s college. Atlanta has always had an opening week game in their stadium. Even at the old Georgia Dome.

    • Agree 100% about Almora.

  • Bryzzo1744

    RE: The Cleveland promotion. The owner took out a $75,000 insurance policy for it. He’s covered. Businesses usually do this when they have this kind of promotion. There’s a local furniture store chain here in Boston that had a promotion, free furniture if the Yankees and Red Sox meet in the ALCS.

  • Doc Raker

    The Pirates radio guys were talking about how Lester did not look sharp during his outing, not throwing strikes, missing his spots, etc. Lester was lucky to get through 6 and had some defensive help. The Cubs web site is selling Lester’s strong outing, it was a good outing if only looking at the numbers, 6 innings 1 run. But if you watched him pitch it didn’t look like a good outing. The different takes from the 2 clubs is interesting to me.

    • Dork

      I think even Lester said he was no particularly sharp.

  • Dork

    This has become a very complainy website it is getting kind of annoying to me, but like many bad habits I can’t seem to give it up. We have all changed, the expectations have gone way higher as they should. and this has been a very frustrating year to watch the cubs go on their streaks. All kinds of streaks certainly wins and losses, but beyond that:
    The bullpen is good then they are bad
    The starters are bad then they are good then they are bad then they are good.
    The Offence is bad then it is good then it is bad
    Schwarber has been broken (and it is no ones fault)
    Heyward is back and then he is not and then he is and then he is not

    You get the picture.

    The cubs are still the champs until they are not.
    They are in first place by 5 games
    They have a 95% probability to win the division
    They have a chance to win 90 games (Which is not an easy thing to do)
    Schwarber still has hit 20+ HR (he was never going to hit 83)

    Get a grip people and try and enjoy some of the good to go along with the frustrating.

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      If you take away the Arrietta hamstring game, the Cubs are 8-2 in the last ten games, and have been winning consistently in the second half. This home stand will tell us a lot about how this season should be judged. Let’s hope that the World Series Champs show up and we win this division by 10 or more games.

    • Sherm

      Holy cow! I see the light! I’ve never felt so good. The Cubs are fantastic. Keep Joe Maddon.

      Nah, just kidding.

      Here’s the thing. We HAVEN’T changed – not one bit. When the Cubs sucked? We pointed out and discussed their flaws. When they were decent. Same thing. Now that they’re good. Still gonna do it. It’s what we do.

      It’s awesome that they FINALLY won the WS. But for me, it didn’t change the fact that I want the team I root for to play good baseball all the time. We had the entire off season to spread the love, and I think we did for the most part, but this team, record notwithstanding, has been one of the most frustrating teams I’ve ever watched. First place reigning WS champs and all – they drive me out of my mind (and Len Kasper probably doesn’t help.) I don’t think we root for them any less than we ever have. I think other sites might be somewhat wrapped up the unicorns and Leprechauns of last year…but I am not rooting for last year’s team – I’m rooting for this year’s team, warts and all (and they have a shitload of warts.)

      I think you’d get the same commentary here (for the most part) if they are five up, five back, or five from the bottom.

      Here’s what I’ll do. Try to do. If they win the world series again this year? I’ll see how far I can go into NEXT season without ranting about anything. I’ll be just a big bucket of sunshine.

      But I think without our incredibly acute commentary and observations, this site would be dull.

      Anyone: The Cubs are great!
      Other guy: Yup
      Other other guy: Yup
      Doc Guy: Yup
      Capn Guy: Yup
      CAPS: D’oh, I mean, Yup
      Guy Von Guy: Yup

      • Dork

        I guess I’m the only one that changed then

      • Sherm

        I don’t think so – you’ve always tried to be the voice of reason in a sea of insanity.

      • Doc Raker

        Does your spreadsheet complain? Is your spreadsheet happy? I think that is the most important thing.

    • cap’n realist

      Pretty sure I’ve got a grip…and a pretty good one. It’s not that they’ve been bad, its just that they can be sooooo much better. 90 wins SHOULD be impressive to me. It’s not because a team this good and this deep should be a shoo in to win 100. EVERY preseason prediction told us that, and while those aren’t perfect, they are based on what SHOULD be. The mismanagement of this team is mind blowing. The ipad should not be making decisions. Let me repeat that, because I feel it’s hugely important. THE IPAD should not be making decisions as to the product, lineup, and/or any execution on the field. Have to agree with Sherm…the games where I am forced to hear Len and JD, I’m somewhat grumpier (yes, that’s possible). I’m still gripping the hope that they will heat up at playoff time, but the truth is, they might not be good enough to overcome Maddon’s stupidty this year, like they were last year. Let’s all remember how poorly managed this team was last year through the playoffs and World Series. It took a lot of luck and an act of god to win the thing. Can we possibly hope for that much luck 2 years in a row?

      • Bryzzo1744

        Homer succeeded despite idiocy twice, so why the hell not. You are correct though. This is why I am pissed about the Cubs.

    • Doc Raker

      I enjoy the good. Your complaints on the Cubs inconsistency is duly noted although I don’t like to complain and prefer to stay positive.

      I was watching the Brewers broadcast and the Cubs had 1st and 3rd with Bryant on 1st and Rizzo at the plate. The Brewers announcers said, “The Cubs won’t run Bryant here because that would open up first base and we would then walk Rizzo and go after Zobrist.” I am not complaining but here is the obvious question from that pearl of info. Do we have a better option to hit 4th and protect Rizzo?

      Now I am not complaining but Zobrist did come to bat with men on base and 2 outs and had a 3-1 count and watch 2 fastballs go right by him, the 3-1 fastball was right down the middle the 3-2 fastball painted the inside corner. I am not complaining but my question is, “Don’t you want an RBI guy to swing at a 3-1 pitch right down the middle with RISP?

      • Sherm

        I cannot complain about last night’s game. I was really proud of them because I think they tried really, really hard. They only lost by two points, and that’s not really very many points.

        John Lackey was really great. How could he know that Ryan Braun is a good fastball hitter? No his fault and he did good in all the other frames when he was playing. And congratulations to Ryan Braun for hitting the ball really, really far into the wind. He must be very strong.

        Our guys tried to hit really long home runs, too. They tried really hard, but they just couldn’t quite do it. They hit a lot of balls to the other team’s outfielders, so it must have been fun for everyone to get to play.

        Ben Zobrist tried really, really hard to walk in some at bats. And he ALMOST did. Darn it. Oh, well. He tried.

        I saw Alec Berg on TV at the game, so that was fun, too. He was laughing at the men who were singing the song at the stretch. He thought they were funny. I thought they tried really, really hard.

        Like Joe Maddon said recently “they all can’t be oil paintings.” I’m not really sure what that means, but I’m sure it’s wise, because Joe Maddon said it. It more or less pre-supposes that simply “being” an oil painting makes a painting good, and I don’t think that’s true, but Joe won a world series so it must be brilliant. I’ll probably say that at lunch today when the waiter asks me how everything was. I’m sure he’ll get a kick out of it.

        Also, and I’m serious about this, I’m glad that Hector Rondon wasn’t KILLED by that line drive. 6 inches to the left and he’s a goner. Great reflexes, but he caught it behind his head…so he would not have been able to stop it had it been right at him. That was scary.

      • Eddie Von White

        Just because you want something doesn’t mean you’re going to get it. That’s what my dad used to tell me.

  • Doug S.

    Well – that’s quite a start to the Sat. game. Switching to Bama – Fresno St. At 28-3 it’s more humane. I’ll have to read about Joe’s colorful lineup changes for the rest of the game tomorrow. Remember…

    Having fun.

  • Doc Raker

    We are in first place.