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Monday

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September 2017

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COMMENTS

Playoff Push – Part 3

Written by , Posted in General

I want to open this weeks discussion with some commentary – I love meaningful September baseball. Don’t get me wrong, I would have preferred this division to be wrapped up in a shiny bow (like a lot of us thought it should have been) a while back. However, there is not much in the world better than a meaningful, emotional September series versus the Cardinals.

Record

6-0

How It Happened

Tuesday – Cubs 8, Mets 3

Gsellman was no match for an offense that is looking to start clicking. After a much needed off day, the Cubs walked 5 times in route to scoring 8 runs on 11 hits. Schwarber showed signs of maturity by having a perfect night at the plate, including his 26th home run. Quintana continued his great stretch, going 7 strong with 6H, 1BB and 7 SO. If there was a must win game after last weekend, this was it.

Wednesday – Cubs 17, Mets 5

If you told me in the 2nd Inning of this game Lester would go 6 innings, I would have laughed at you. Jon looked rocky to start the game, but gutted out 6 IP, giving up only 6 H and 2R. The offense continued to torment a Mets pitching staff that is so different than the group that shut down the Cubs in the 2015 NLCS. Lester commented after the game on this matter, discussing that baseball has no guarantees and you must push when you have opportunities. Bryant and Zobrist stayed hot, but Albert Almora used his 2 at bats to drive in 6 with a triple and home run.

Thursday – Cubs 14, Mets 6

Tseng’s first start; rest for Montgomery…? I go back and forth on whether I really understand this move. Ultimately, I am coming to the conclusion that this was an insurance policy on Jake Arrieta. If Jake was done, who could the Cubs slot in to finish the year, while keeping Montgomery in the pen? He was clearly nervous, but a suddenly dynamic offense carried the load.

The Weekend – B.E.A-utiful. Ejections. Suspensions. But most importantly – BROOMS!

Standings

The 1st place Cubs are 4 games up on Milwaukee and 6 games up on the Cardinals.

 

Magic Number – 10

 

What is Next?

Unfortunately, there is not much of a break: 2games in Tampa, followed by the big 4 game series in Milwaukee.

 

I am not going to post the rotation this week, for there is not much clarity in Jake Arrieta.

13 games left! Let’s do this!

 

 

 

 

  • Sherm

    You covered it – from ridiculous to sublime…in one week. Okay, maybe not sublime, but a pretty good weekend.

    I don’t want to start the week by complaining about anything, because at the moment there is little to complain about. The Mets are atrocious and deserved to be swept, but the Cardinals were on a surge and threatening to be playoff bound – a dream that might not happen after this weekend. They are 6 back in the division, and now 4.5 back in the wild card, so that will be a tough row to hoe.

    Dexter Fowler did his best to try to help his team win it – but it wasn’t enough, although Wade Davis shit himself a little on the last out. Is Davis lucky or good? To me, a little of both, but more lucky than good lately – even though his perfect save season is intact so far. Seems like he can’t throw a clean inning. I’m still unsure why he pitched in the blowout game one and was “unsure” of being able to pitch yesterday. (For the record, I don’t think Davis has ever indicated he was “too tired” or couldn’t go – that’s a Maddon thing, but if you are worried about using the guy three games in a row? Why use him in a blowout? Makes NO sense to me.)

    Quintana was good yesterday – but for some shoddy defense, he may not have given up any runs. I’m again quizzical about why Schwarber was even in the game in the 6th with a three run lead. He’d homered already and laid down perhaps the stupidest sacrifice attempt in recent baseball history (with Avila on first? Really? Even if Avila GETS to second? It still takes a double to score him.) Maddon loves making moves – why not go defensive and help your pitcher there? Schwarber then BUTCHERS a ball in left that should have been caught, and the Cardinals capitalize on a Fowler homer to score three. Quintana’s only mistake. Could have – should have – never happened.

    As mentioned, Schwarber homered in the bottom of the 4th. Solo shot to make it 2 – 0. He also had a chance in the seventh – assuming Maddon left him in for this reason – with runners on first and second and no one out. So, good place for a sacrifice HERE. So he bunted, right? Nope. Popped to short. Then, Maddon inexplicably pinch hits for Almora (who looked good at the plate again yesterday) with Happ, who grounds into a fielder’s choice, accomplishing nothing other than weakening the defense further. Heyward picks Maddon up and singles in what ultimately would be the game winning run.

    Russell looked good at the plate. Had a hit and three walks, and appears to be seeing the ball well. Bryant looked exactly the opposite – some bad misses, and his only hit was a hustle single on a dribbler.

    Maddon burned up the pen pretty good, too, but thankfully didn’t have to use Wilson or Grimm…

    Milwaukee won the last game of their at home away series, and thanks to the Marlins for throwing a fifteen year old and giving Stanton a day off. Save your tryouts for other shitty teams. In the NBA, they fine you for that. Just saying.

    The Cubs go to Tampa where they are honoring Joe Maddon for being the greatest and smartest man on the planet because he led them TO the World Series in 2008. Didn’t win it, but got there, showing again that most people live life with exceptionally low expectations. Joe can’t wait, and will probably forget to manage, but that might be a good thing. If only Binny’s sponsored intelligent line up cards.

    Nonetheless, a good 6 game run. I’m back from China, and off to the Midwest for a few days where I’ll be taking in the game on Thursday night in Milwaukee.

    This week’s question (to me, anyway) is what Maddon does with Baez. I’m guessing he goes back to “super utility” which is flat out stupid, but I think it’s coming. Worst case, he should play second every day – but that would mean cutting into Zobrist’s time, and Maddon just won’t do that. To me, both he and Russell are great shortstops – no question. Baez has the much stronger arm, and therefore should be at short. Russell at second. And you know what? You could leave it that way for the next 6 years or more…

    • Eddie Von White

      Welcome back, Sherm. This was a fun week of baseball, the head scratching not withstanding. Watching the Cardinals whimper away is satisfying considering all their in-your-face arrogance over the years. But they’re still not out and history tells us to be wary of early celebrations. Dork is happy because we’re in first place, but this year leaves me with a confidence problem. I’m sure Theo doesn’t want to tinker with anything concerning management b/c he and Joe are from the same school, but I don’t see how the Cubs can compete with such incompetence for all the reasons you mentioned.

      • Bryzzo1744

        It’s a shame really. In Boston he fired Grady Little for a lot less.

    • Kyle

      Re: The Wade points. He hadn’t pitched in 5 days, and went 4 before that. I’m assuming he just wanted to get him work, and you never know when you’ll need him again.

  • cap’n realist

    I’m glad they’re winning…but as I said in June, it’s like the ’83 White Sox. Winning Ugly.

  • Doug S.

    After Fowler’s HR I felt we wouldn’t bounce back, the Brewers had a big lead and we’d finish the weekend +3 games. Great outcome for the sweep. I don’t usually scoreboard watch but have started. Go Pirates.

    Strange 2 game mini-series down in Tampa. Interleague during a pennant race, the result of 15 teams in each league.

  • Doc Raker

    The Cubs put a stake through the heart of the Vampire and the Vampire knows it. The Cardinals playoff hopes are very slim since they are in 3rd place. Even if the Cubs falter the Brewers would have to falter also? With the Cubs playing 4 more verse the Brewers the Cardinals can only pick up one game on one team for those 4 games IF they win that day. Enjoy Fantasy Island Tattoo.

    Maddon frustrates me, out of all the head scratching moves he made yesterday I did not understand removing the hottest hitter in the league and our best CF, Almora, for a pinch hitter. Happ pinch hitting for Almora makes no sense to me, Almora hits right handed pitchers just fine. Genius Joe trying to pad his genius resume. I bet Almora was upset and had the Cubs lost that game I wonder if Almora would of been able to keep his mouth shut in the locker room if the media pushed the obvious question.

    Meanwhile after Schwarber misplayed an easy fly ball into an error (It was scored a hit incorrectly in my opinion) the Cardinal broadcasters noted the obvious error. Sherm said Len called it a ‘slight misread’ and JD called it as an error. JD better be careful or he will get fired if he is to honest about Cub errors.

    • Michael S.

      All in all, I love how the schedule has broken down for the Cubs. 8 of their last 13 games against the two teams closest to them in the division, and then after those two series…they get to beat up on each other one last time. Sure, they *could* still muck it up and give it to Milwaukee, but they’d almost have to be *trying* to do that.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        They tried that last weekend, when they put up our worst two pitchers against the Brewers best pitchers. That is the only reason, I am not completely on the Cubs will make the playoffs bandwagon.

    • Seymour Butts

      OK, so I’m a dick, but can you please start using “versus”, or “vs”, when you describe teams playing against each other. Verses belong in songs. Maybe ask Len.

      noun: verse
      1.
      writing arranged with a metrical rhythm, typically having a rhyme.”a lament in verse”

      2. versus
      ˈvərsəs,ˈvərsəz/
      preposition
      preposition: versus; symbol: v.; symbol: v; symbol: vs.; preposition: vs
      against (especially in sports and legal use).”Penn versus Princeton”

      Thank you for your support.

      • Eddie Von White

        You’ve got mine. Correct grammer matters.

      • Doc Raker

        Yes, you are a dick.

  • Dork

    Due to a canceled soccer game – I got a chance to take the family to the Brewers “away” game yesterday. surprising that Miller park is now 16 years old. Not only were tickets cheap/(free through the girl scouts) but concessions were 25% off. Which means beers were only $8. I will try not to complain about MLB today. It reminds me of another rescheduled game I went to when Zambrano threw a no – no. My youngest and I wore our Cubs world champions gear. On sundays at miller park they let the kids run the bases after the game, but for some reason that did not include me, oh well. It was a nice day of baseball. Especially nice since i did not have to suffer through the bears debacle.

    • Doug S.

      Cancelled soccer and live baseball – I call that a win-win.

      (with apologies to any disappointed children)

    • Seymour Butts

      I believe that the “home” team gets thew gate receipts and the Brewers get the concessions. Might explain the brewers giving away the tickets.

      • Sherm

        Brewers should always be capitalized since it is the name of a team, therefore a proper noun.

        prop·er noun
        ˈpräpər noun/Submit
        noun
        a name used for an individual person, place, or organization, spelled with initial capital letters, e.g., Larry, Mexico, and Boston Red Sox.

        I’m a dick, too.

      • Seymour Butts

        What does the left over meat loaf say when shoved back into the fridge for the 3rd time?
        “Curses, foiled again”.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        I refuse to capitalize whitesox as they are laundry.

      • Bryzzo1744

        It’s funny because on the iPhone, auto correct will capitalize Red Sox, but it won’t when you type white sox.

  • Jeff Ragauskis

    Sometimes I am shocked on the negativity for this team. I had pretty tempered expectations due to them winning the series last year, but they are ramping back up as they are getting healthy.

    In my opinion, this team is playing way better ball at the time of year to do that. Getting Addison back at short will be great for this defense.

    In theme of Theo Epsteins macro-level thought process – The Cubs need a cost controlled starter this offseason. Who is the guy you move for it?

    I know you have to give something up to get something, but I love how difficult this conversation would be. Any thoughts?

    My gut, though it pains me, is to say Russel…

    My brain says Schwarber.

    My heart says there is a stud in the minors hidden so I don’t have to lose anyone.

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      I say either Schwarber or Happ. which ever one gets you the best starter. I would prefer neither, and they resign Arrietta, but unfortunately he has Boreass as his agent, and he will not allow that to happen.

      • Michael S.

        $cott “Loudmouth” Bora$ is one of the big problems with baseball. I wouldn’t cry if he were jettisoned into the sun.

      • Doc Raker

        Can we pleese use propper grammer and speling arround hear, his name is spelt BorA$$.

      • Michael S.

        Theirs moar then won weigh two spel his naem, they’res kids hear u no.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Pffft. Kids are smarter than you think. My landlord has a 6 year old and she knew what ass meant when she was 5. I said Tex-ass in front of her and she goes to me it’s not Tex-Bum! It’s Texas!

      • No funnier now than the last thirty times you told the story.

      • I finally got it this time.. that’s now how you pronounce Texas.

      • Sherm

        Do you know what day of the week Texas became a state, probably?

      • Tuesd-ass-y

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        So it wasn’t Wedn -ass-day? I guess I lost the pool again.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Texas was admitted to the union on December 29, 1845. 2013 was a repeat of 1845 except for the leap year lacking in 1900. I can still tell you the day of the week and I’ll be right. In 2013 my birthday was a Wednesday making Xmas (December 25) a Wednesday. Which means December 29 was a Sunday. Add a day since 1900 had no leap year. Which means it was a Monday.

      • I believe you mean x-mass

      • Doc Raker

        I believe you mean Christmas

      • Christm-ass.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Texas was re-admitted to the union on March 30, 1870. That means 2010 and 1870 are repeats. My birthday was a Saturday that year, making March 28 (Michael Jordan’s double nickel game in 1995) a Sunday. Meaning March 30 would be a Tuesday. And then add a day for no leap year in 1900. So a Wednesday.

    • Michael S.

      If Javy is playing at 2nd every day, then yeah–getting Russell back helps because having the two of them up the middle is better than *any* alternative lineup that could go out there. But, watching while Russell has been out this last month-plus, Javy is superior at short. They’d be in the best position with him there and Russell at 2B.

      As far as getting a cost-controlled starter…I don’t think there’s *one* player they could give up to swing a deal. Maybe they could put together a package with the pieces they’ve got left, but I doubt that happens–I’m guessing the brain trust goes bargain hunting on the middling FA types and hope that everyone else they’ve got works out alright.

  • Brad Lyerla

    Lovely week, and a few concerns:

    1. Almora has earned a regular place in the line up.

    2. Schwarber is a huge defensive liability. But he is hitting much better since his return. I can see playing him for six innings or so depending on match ups. He should pinch hit the rest of the time.

    3. I disagree with Sherm about switching Russell and Baez at ss and 2b. In the off season, maybe. But for the next two months, I would align them as the starters with Russell at ss and Baez at 2b.

    4. Q was very solid yesterday. He is your fourth starter post-season.

    5. The Cardinals pitch Bryant better than any other team in baseball. Or Bryant presses more against the Cardinals than any other team in baseball. The brain trust in the dugout needs to help him with his approach versus the Cardinals.

    6. Zobrist’s productivity is climbing. I see him in right field a lot, until the later innings when he should move to left and Heyward should move into right.

    7. Heyward’s productivity is up a bit too. So I would give him as many innings as I could, mostly sharing right filed with Zobrist or starting in right when Schwarber sits and Zobrist starts in left.

    8. Maddon’s use of Davis over the weekend made no sense. You can offer justifications, like he needed more work or he needed to be stretched or etc., and none of it makes sense in the context of the division race.

    9. It looks like the only bull pen guys that Maddon trusts at this point are Davis, Duensing, Strop, Edwards Jr. and Montgomery. That’s a decent group and we might make it through October with those guys as the horses out of the pen.

    10. I am feeling pretty good right now, though I think the Brewers are to be taken seriously.

    • Bryzzo1744

      Don’t forget we add one of our starters to the pen in October to help as well

      • Michael S.

        If that starter is Lackey, pass.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        I like that idea, Cubs make the Playoffs and give Lackey a pass (and hopefully a second ring) into retirement.

      • Bryzzo1744

        I have no beef with leaving Lackey off the playoff roster but we all know Maddon won’t do that.

      • Brad Lyerla

        I think it is a no brainer. Lackey is either not on the post-season roster, or in the pen. I favor the latter, just to have the option.

        But CAPS is right. Maddon may not go for that. In which case, I would consider a five man rotation in the first round. And if you can get past your prejudices, Lackey has pitched well the second half. His blow up against St. Louis last Friday is hard to forgive, but he has been solid since the break. In my eyes, it is not the end of the world if he gets a post-season start (though that would not be my first choice).

      • Sherm

        I wouldn’t mind Lackey in the bullpen.

        If the post-season started tomorrow and I were managing this team? Kyle Hendricks gets the ball in game one. I can virtually guarantee you that he will not under the managerial styling of Joe “iPad” Maddon.

      • Bryzzo1744

        Why don’t we just have the iPad manage the games instead of Maddon? I mean Oakland used to build their team and make their draft picks from a computer.

      • Michael S.

        You know what happens when you let computery-type devices run games?

        Global Thermonuclear War.

      • Bryzzo1744

        It would be better it was a war between Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        You mean that Steve Jobs has not come back from the grave to haunt Bill Gates?

      • Kyle

        You get a Sexy Terminator sent from the future to try and kill you.

      • Michael S.

        No, that’s when you let computers run *the world*.

        And there’s a one out of…um…3, 4, something like that chance (not that well versed in Terminator lore, sorry)…the odds favor a roided-out body building Austrian Terminator, who will go on to become the governor of California.

      • Kyle

        Hey! Just let me have my sexy Terminator fantasy!

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        Not many people like the idea of being a male black widow spider.

      • cap’n realist

        How about a nice game of chess Dr. Falken?

    • Sherm

      My only issue with Baez at second is my own personal feeling that Baez needs to play every inning of every game. He’s a spark plug in every way. But, at second base? Don’t kid yourself – Maddon will MAKE him share time with Ben Zobrist and occasionally Ian Happ. It’s inevitable in the “Maddon Way” and I think a damn shame because I feel that if anyone on THIS team right now DESERVES to play every inning of every game? It’s Javier Baez.

      Your point is well taken on using the off-season and/or pre-season to work on position changes, but Russell did just fine at second when he first came over and Castro was still at short.

      • Michael S.

        And Castro did fine at 2B (defensively and at the plate) when the two got flip-flopped before he got shipped to New York

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        I knew that Zobrist would get us a World Series, but we might regret having him after that.

      • Brad Lyerla

        I love the ball player that Baez has become. But I like the comfort factor of sticking with what worked best, for now. Long term, I agree with you that Baez has the better arm, though Russell had a sore shoulder for part of the first half. When he is right, Russell is a damn fine ss, and he has been a more impactful offensive player than Baez in big games.
        But let’s not bicker, they are both excellent middle infielders. They are the least of our problems defensively.

        As for Zobrist, there is just something dependable about him. He seems unflappable in big moments. He is the least athletic of all of our position players, but he needs to be on the field in the post season. Plus, he has good at bats. So Joe has to juggle.

        I think the bigger challenge (bigger than Zobrist, that is) is how to use Happ, who must be given some at bats and more than one spot start if the Cubs advance.

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    I just noticed that Montgomery is starting the first game of the TB series, and Lester the second. That means that Lester will only pitch against St. Louis and not against both Milwaukee and St. Louis. Maddon is doing it again, why not have your best pitchers face Milwaukee??? Is Lester now allergic to pitching to the Brewers?

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      After getting past the first phase of my anger, I realize that Lester only can pitch against one of St. Louis or Milwaukee, but even in that situation, you always pitch your best first to clinch as early as possible, also Milwaukee is now our main competition, not St. Louis. I am still angry!!

      • Michael S.

        …if they held off Lester until the first game against the Brewers, then he could pitch against both (G1 vs Brewers, G2 vs Cards). Pitching Wednesday ensures that he misses the Milwaukee series.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        I understand that, but then aside from Montgomery, who else pitches in TB? You want to clinch as early as possible, and I do not want to see both Monty and the rookie Tseng both pitching in Tampa.

      • Michael S.

        Hm, good point. Lester is the only one rested enough to be able to go, aside from Tseng…and I don’t think I want to see him start again ’til next spring.

      • Bryzzo1744

        How about a bullpen game?

      • Eddie Von White

        Still angry.

      • Sherm

        Maybe to Jon Lester the Brewers look like one big “first base.” Maybe the yips are spreading.

        Only upside is that he hasn’t been close to the team’s best pitcher lately…

      • cap’n realist

        Remember back in June when I typed right here that Thames was likely on PED’s and I was chastised? I said wait until the Brewers get their test date, and he’ll cycle off. Then they got the test date and he turned into Schwarber.

      • Sherm

        I never disputed that. You don’t get better in Korea.

        Still, Lester is scared of them.

      • Michael S.

        If Montgomery can give you 7 innings and the offense lights up the scoreboard enough you’re comfortable letting Pena finish the game, maybe. Otherwise that could be a trainwreck.

      • Bryzzo1744

        No I meant Monty game 1, and a bullpen game for game 2.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        Once again CAPS misses the point. The idea is to clinch as soon as possible, therefore Lester should pitch tonight’s game, being a better option than a bullpen start, which would more likely give us at least one inning of Hector the Destroyer.

      • He wants Montgomery to drop a game before the bullpen game, Jer. Follow along.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        So Maddon is repaying back Tampa by pitching inferior options to increase their playoff odd from 1% to 1.5%.

  • Sherm

    Pirates simply rolled over and died. There will be NO help

    • Michael S.

      Hey, Cubs win the next 7 games, they clinch. At Busch. And they get to 90 wins to boot.

      • Bryzzo1744

        I’d love to celebrate the division at their place. It would burn their asses

  • Doc Raker

    Russell and Baez are the best double play combination in all of baseball. Since Russell has battled a sore shoulder this year and Baez could win a gold glove at either position I would put Baez at SS and Russell at 2b and split time between Russell and Zo. Baez deserves to play everyday.

  • Doc Raker

    9. Schwarber is heating up, creeping towards 83. Schwarbers numbers as a DH are pretty damn good.

  • Doc Raker

    The Cubs have 6 players who have hit 20 or more HR’s. They will probably have 3 players with 30+ HR’s after 162. The Cubs are 5th in runs scored in the MLB. The Nationals are 4th in runs scored. All the other teams in the NL East are ranked in the second half of the league. Miami is 16th in runs scored, Mets are 19, Atlanta is 21, Phillies are 26. The two worst teams in runs scored are the Giants and Padres.

    Three NL Central teams are in the top half of the league for runs scored. Can you name them without looking it up?

    • Bryzzo1744

      I’m going to say Milwaukee and Cincinnati are the other 2.

      • Doc Raker

        Brewers no which surprised me, Reds yes which surprised me.
        Reds are 11
        Cardinals are 14
        Brewers are 20- apparently they only score big against the Cubs
        Pirates are 28- Pirates lost to the Brewers last night 1-0.

      • Bryzzo1744

        I said Brewers and Reds because last night on the Tampa broadcast they were talking about runs scored by HR and they were among the leaders in that

      • Doc Raker

        Glad to hear that you chose the Tampa broadcast instead of Len and JD

      • Bryzzo1744

        The $25 anti-Len tax is totally worth it. I should be allowed to write it off on my taxes