View From The Bleachers

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Thursday

19

October 2017

64

COMMENTS

Not Sure How to Feel

Written by , Posted in General

Well, it looks like no one is writing this morning so I will. Short and sweet, more as a place for today’s conversation than to say anything profound.

  • The Cubs won.
  • It wasn’t easy.
  • Javier Baez and Willson Contreras helped.
  • They still can’t score a run unless someone hits a home run.
  • They have no remaining reliable bull pen options after Wade Davis’ two not-easy innings last night so everyone else better be prepared to pitch complete games.
  • Tonight’s game is at 7:00’ish Central.
  • Jose Quintana vs Clayton Kershaw.
  • I was VERY ready for this to be over so I’m not really sure how to feel this morning.
  • But I put on a Cubs t-shirt so there’s that.

All yours.

  • Eddie Von White

    Same here. Happy about the W but don’t know if it’s because our hopes are still alive or if it’s because we didn’t get swept. I sure hope the Astros can pull it out.

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      I want anything that is not the Dodgers- Yankees. That series has occurred too many times already.

      • Kyle

        Same. I will be less than interested in a Yankees-Dojers series.

  • Adam Peters

    This is vintage Cubs. As a fan you are ready to give up, and have it be over quick like ripping off a Band-Aid. Then they reel you back in with just enough to reignite your hope. I’ve been through this wringer before, and it ain’t pleasant.

    But, despite getting very little sleep last night, I’m in a good mood this morning, so I’m going to run with that scrap of hope.

    Jake Arrieta showed all the other Cub starters (hopefully) that if you don’t throw so many balls, you can stay in the game longer and therefore give your team an actual chance to win. The Jon Lester “I’m going to throw many pitches 3″ outside and hope he chases or the ump gives me the call” approach clearly is not the way to go against this very disciplined Dodgers team.

    So, the hopes of Cub Nation are firmly on the shoulders of Jose Quintana tonight. We need 7 STRONG innings from him to have realistic chance of winning.

    However, if we were somehow to win tonight, I think the shadow of doubt moves over Los Angeles. We will need 2 more strong starts from Lester and Hendricks, but we’ve seen that before, and it is pretty.

  • Brad Lyerla

    The Cubs are an excellent team. We can feel good about that. And I am optimistic about tonight.

    The so-called bull pen melt down is mostly about two guys. We all thought that Edwards and Montgomery were ready to be stalwarts this post-season. They have not been up to the task. But it’s mostly just those two. Everyone else has been what we expected out of the bull pen.

    Our starting pitching has been very, very good. As good as the Dodger’s and almost as good as was the Nationals’.

    That brings us to our offense. Hitting is an elusive thing. It is as much about the magical balance of patience and aggression as it is about confidence and good mechanics. We have seen our hitting go south with this group before. It happened in ’15 in the LCS against the Mets and it dogged us last season too. We won the Series even as we weathered two short slumps during the play offs last year.

    I do not know what Maddon and the coaching staff can do to re-ignite our bats. Perhaps, it is beyond coaching at this point. But somehow our guys need to slow the moment down and square up balls that are in the zone while laying off everything else. We led the league in on base percentage this year. Some how we must get that back and quickly.

    I know, and so should we all, that the Cubs are good enough to repeat. They may not. But they can if they grab back some of that magic that makes them special when they are playing their best.

    • Sherm

      Have to disagree with your assertion of excellence. This is a very talented team but I wouldn’t call them excellent. They have shown moments of it, but failure to maintain the high level of play and to execute the fundamentals of the game to the best of their ability continues to elude them. Hopefully experience and maturity will get them there. They’ve had “success” despite that fact, not because of it.

      They are better than any other Cub team in our lifetime.

      The starting pitching has been better this last month than all season. The bullpen has been worse. One likely has something to do with the other.

      I like your assessment of hitting and would say that this team has endured more long individual slumps than any team I’ve ever watched. I think that the best way OUT of a slump is to try to go the other way. It forces the hitter to concentrate and perhaps more important, let the ball get a little deeper which means seeing it longer. Addison Russell is the only Cub who actively tries to do that from time to time, and almost always – when you see him get a hit or three to right field? He’s going to go on a tear soon. It’s like everyone else wants to blast their way out of slump with long homers. A good pitcher will eat those guys for lunch all game long.

      • Brad Lyerla

        Sherm, you make sense. I didn’t intend to suggest that they have played excellently. I was focused more on past achievements and pedigree when I said they are excellent.

        This year they have never been hitting on all cylinders for long.

        But I will defend my point that they can outplay anyone when achieve their best.

        I gather you are in Asia. Safe travels.

      • Sherm

        Yes – I’m in Guangzhou (formerly Canton) but heading to Xiamen Saturday and then Hong Kong next Monday…doing my best to keep up with the Cubs who keep playing games at 8am.

        I thought this team would be better than last year but it’s almost like a collective “sophomore slump.” I get now that Maddon spent the year trying to let them work their way out of it…and I think we are witnessing some of his frustration now, too.

        If any one of our pitchers can go 8 or 9? It’s Q and I look for a big game from him. He gets ahead of hitters which is critical against LA.

        I’d have liked to see Happ play today. Zobrist from the right side brings very little thunder.

      • Brad Lyerla

        Agreed re Happ and Zobrist.

      • Adam Peters

        Clearly, Sherm, the best way out of a slump is to swing as hard as you can and anything and everything.

        Worked for Baez. He hit 2 home runs yesterday on pitches out of the zone!

  • Seymour Butts

    Well at least last night was watchable. However, I watched it all essentially emotionless. Even the end.
    Half an hour after the game I felt a twinge of hope. It was awful.

    • That’s EXACTLY it.

    • Brad Lyerla

      C’mon, Seymour. Hope is what it’s all about! For crying out loud, nothing is guaranteed. But there is always hope. And in the case of this team, it is not silly or unrealistic to hope.

      • Seymour Butts

        I know… I even had more moments of hope this morning. We do have the starting pitching to go on an extended win streak, so yes, there is still a chance.
        I’m going to relate this to my day job. Experiencing slow painful death at a close distance does eventually make one wish for a rapid exit. It’s just that every once in a while they don’t die. Then everybody is happy. They are never happy when you pump up the chances of survival and it does not work out. That’s likely the genesis of all the stories you hear about people being written off by their doctors and bragging about proving us wrong. Little secret, we are happy about it too.
        If the Cubs don’t die, I will be as happy as the rest of you. But the slow painful deaths are tough.

  • cap’n realist

    one at a time…

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      That is really the only way. Once you start counting chickens it is time to go hunting, because your season will be over.

      • cap’n realist

        exactly my point. They have to sell out to win tonight. Saturday’s problems are to be worried about on Friday.

      • Buddy

        “Chicken-chasing is how we used to train back in the old days. If you can catch this thing, you can catch greased lighting”

        –Mickey Goldmill, 1979

  • Bartz

    We need to play some small ball. Make their pitchers work and get some guys on base. And I’d start having the lefties lay bunts down the third base line. It’s always a tough play and better than hitting into the trap. We’re lucky that we got the three solo shots last night, but if we could get guys on, that game is over early.

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      I agree. The Cubs need to walk more, and hit against the shift, even if that means bunting down the third base line. If Zobrist, Schwarber, and Rizzo did that more often they would eventually find that they would get that hole between the second and first basemen back.

      • Bryzzo1744

        I can’t count how many times they have hit a ground ball right at the 2nd basemen into the shift. It’s very infuriating that they don’t take the free bunt.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        I just wish that Contreras would stop trying to bunt.

      • Bryzzo1744

        I was referring to Rizzo and Schwarber, but yes I agree with you on Contreras

  • Adam Peters

    Game 5 Lineup

    1. Albert Almora Jr., CF
    2. Kyle Schwarber, LF
    3. Kris Bryant, 3B
    4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
    5. Willson Contreras, C
    6. Addison Russell, SS
    7. Javier Baez, 2B
    8. Ben Zobrist, RF
    9. Jose Quintana, P

    • Kyle

      I don’t hate this lineup. Would rather have Jhey in instead of Schwarber. Both will give you 0 offense, but at least one can play D.

      • Bryzzo1744

        My biggest beef is Zobrist in RF. Can’t hit or play defense

      • Adam Peters

        YES. I HATE him in against a lefty starter, and I HATE him in right field.

      • Bryzzo1744

        If Heyward was in RF, they probably nail the runner at home

      • Adam Peters

        Yes, I thought the exact same thing at the time.

        In the end it wouldn’t have mattered, but still…

        We never would have won the World Series without Zobrist, so I’m glad we signed him, but he’d better be relegated to bench duty next year.

      • Bryzzo1744

        The 2016 victory lap ended in spring training. Instead Maddon decided to let it fester into the season. Instead of starting the best lineup to win, he started his World Series lineup in tribute. There’s no place for that IMO.

      • Adam Peters

        I agree. To start Zobrist in right field, against a left handed starter was doubly idiotic.

      • Adam Peters

        Since all the Cubs runs in this series have come via the homer, clearly Joe is going for broke on the homer front. Hopefully we can get a couple and Quintana can hold them to 1 run.

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      Do we have any information on which way the wind is blowing? If it is blowing in I do not like have Schwarber in this line-up, but if it blowing out he could get lucky on a fly ball.

    • Yeah that’s a scary looking outfield. And I don’t mean scary in a good way. But I’m not sure it even matters. The difference-maker here on our will be how many runs they score. If they continue to be unable to hit it won’t matter how many runs the outfield gives up.

    • Buddy

      Again no Happ. Bummer

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        Looks like Maddon got some advice from Dusty, play the veteran over the rookie.

      • Bryzzo1744

        It’s to maintain the integrity of the playoff chase

  • Sherm

    Not sure who, or even if, anyone is writing THAT game up. I thought that being 8000 miles away would help. Nope.

    I won’t apologize for my elation over last year’s championship and I won’t apologize for my disappointment over this year’s ending. I should be happy they got that far. I’d be happier if they’d played well and lost than witnessing (sometimes second hand) what happened there.

    I LOVE good baseball. I was not given a healthy dose this season. I think we saw a degree of arrogance I didn’t expect from this club (Respect me – really?)

    Homer happy understates the obvious. Sound baseball beats raw talent. It’s not a game of muscle. It’s a game of finesse and brains. What’s the difference between Jose Altuve and Javy Baez? Their approach. Where’s the instruction? Where’s the coaching? How about less TV commercials and marketing appearances and more focus on winning baseball and those little things that may not be fun…but matter.

    I caught the end of the game they won. Who can explain why Wade Davis WAS NOT bunting there? If he does, Almora’s single drives in a much needed insurance run. No excuse for that.

    I’m ready for some time off of baseball – words I thought I’d never utter.

    • Adam Peters

      I hope no one writes it up. Ugh.

      The only hope the Cubs had was for Quintana to give up <2 runs and go deep into the game, and it was clear from the outset that was not going to happen. The 26 pitches he threw in the first inning were even more consequential than the run he gave up. The Cubs did the exact same thing to Kershaw in Game 6 of the NLCS last season, but this year's team seems to have forgotten all about that approach.

      At the end of the day, 8 runs scored in 5 games isn't going to win (m)any series, and though the finger shouldn't be pointed at him, the Cubs needed a shutdown start from Quintana last night and they didn't get it.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        I agree with you. It looked like Q dropped the Ns from his name after he walked the first batter, and he became a Quitaa.

    • Michael S.

      I thought about it.

      Couldn’t bring myself to do it.

      I’m sure I’d say this no matter how the game went, but that was about the last way you wanted to see it end–a 10-run drubbing that was over before the 3rd inning was up.

  • Buddy

    An ugly end to a strange season. The good news is this team is still very talented and will be in the title mix next year as well.

    • Bryzzo1744

      This is how I feel. The team still has a lot of talent and will be competitive for years to come. Along with the double-barrel revenue increase coming in 2 years.

  • Bryzzo1744

    This winter the Cubs need a set leadoff hitter and a 2 hitter. None of this Bryant hitting 2 crap anymore. 3-4-5 should be Bryant Rizzo Contreras

    • Buddy

      I like your best two hitters batting 2nd and 3rd. It gives them more at bats over the course of the season, and it guarantees they will hit in the 1st inning.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        I only like Bryant and Rizzo getting to hit in the first inning if they start hitting in the first inning. There were too many games this year where the first inning went 1-2-3, with the pitcher only throwing 10-12 pitches. That just was not the way they played in 2016.

      • Buddy

        I appreciate your frustration, but they’re still easily the best two hitters the Cubs have. For what it’s worth, here are their 1st inning numbers for 2017…

        Bryant: .313/.383/.537
        Rizzo: .276/.385./.472

      • Bryzzo1744

        In a lineup with the pitcher batting I don’t like it. With the DH I’d be more open to it. I want them hitting with more runners on base.

    • Adam Peters

      Like Buddy, I have no problem with Bryant, Rizzo, Contreras 2-3-4. But we do need a leadoff hitter, and it’s clear that he’s not currently on the roster. So who’s he going to be and where is he going to play?

      • Bryzzo1744

        Can Almora or Happ be the full time leadoff hitter in your opinion?

      • Adam Peters

        I don’t see it. Almora has 24 BB in 440 PA. Happ has 39 in 413. They have .330 and .328 career OBPs, respectively. Granted, those are small sample sizes, but your leadoff guy needs to be on base more than that. Fowler’s OBP was at or very close to .400 last year.

        To my mind Happ is more of a 5 hole hitter and Almora more 6,7 or 8.

        They spent this whole season trying to jam our various square pegs into that round hole. They’d better not carry that over to 2018. We’d be a lot better off trading Happ, and/or Schwarber for a good leadoff guy.

      • Buddy

        If I was calling the shots (which would be a terrible idea by the way) I would commit to Happ next year and make sure he starts as often as possible (some 2B, some OF). Maybe he could even lead off. Would love to see them try it for an extended period, such as the entire month of April. Joe could even go back to his pitcher hitting 8th approach, which makes good sense with Happ hitting 1st and Bryant hitting 2nd.

  • Doc Raker

    The Dojers are the better team and the better team won. It’s when you are the better team and you get beat by some fluke bounce is when it really hurts. The end of the season without a championship is the realism of this team being flawed. Last years team was a championship team and played like it, this years team has some growing pains.

    I go back to the start of 2017 and I remember thinking we were going to be better and do smart things like we did in 2016. Remember when Lester bunted a squeeze with 2 strikes for a walk off win in 2016, that was brilliant to me. So when Rizzo first came up to lead off an inning in 2017 with the defense giving him a hit on a bunt to third I thought, bunt to third get on base, break the shift early in the season. Show our opponents we have versatility and won’t be so easily scouted. Rizzo never bunted and continued to hit 3 hoppers into the shift all season long. The 2017 team kept getting beat because they rarely made adjustments, they kept playing into the hands of the scouting reports. It was frustrating for us because we all know the scouting reports and know with some adjustments you can beat those scouting reports.

    The adjustments never happened. We had a good second half due to good starting pitching and a weak schedule. We won the division because the Cardinals make 3 errors a game , Brewers are not quite there yet and the Reds and Pirates stink.

    We beat the Nat’s because the Nat’s beat themselves and pitched Max on 2 days rest.

    We didn’t beat the Dojers because they are better than the Cubs, much better.

    I am OK with it, I want better baseball and I am sure the Cubs do to. Maybe an offseason of working to get better instead of celebrating will be good for 2018.

    It is Blackhawks season now.

    • Jerry in Wisconsin

      Hopefully the 2018 Cubs enter the season focused on hitting the ball to the opposite field, and on having good at bats, every trip to the plate. They need to do what is necessary to break the shift, Rizzo hit three balls that should have been hits if he did not have an extreme shift going against him.

    • Seymour Butts

      You know, Raker… you are right.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        I thought it was against the unwritten rules for Seymour to ever comment about Doc being right. Does this mean a bean-ball war might erupt?

      • Seymour Butts

        It just doesn’t happen that often, so I thought I would credit where due.
        It’s not like there is no mayhem ensuing in the world as it is.

  • Bryzzo1744

    In non-Cubs news, the Nationals won’t bring back the Dust Bag

    • Adam Peters

      Any team that plays that badly in the playoffs, the manager should be fired.

      Wait a second…

  • Eddie Von White

    Everything you say makes perfect sense but I wouldn’t count on any of it. There is no evidence their approach will be any different in 2018.

    • Bryzzo1744

      With the coaching staff we have, what do you expect? There needs to be a change in the culture of how the game is played, and I don’t know how to achieve it that doesn’t involve firing Maddon. What can be done? How do you drill it into Rizzo and Schwarber that they need to take the free bunt? How do you get Baez back to the Baez who won NLCS MVP?

  • Sherm

    Questions I have heading into the offseason:

    – is Carl Edwards, Jr’s confidence permanently scarred? If so, he may never be the same. See Rondon, Hector.

    – which middle infielder gets traded? Baez, Russell or Happ? One of the three will go. My hunch is that it will Be Baez. I don’t like it, but I think it.

    – will they re-sign Jhon Jhay? I think so, which means that Almora has another year of part time

    – will they try to re-sign Arrieta? I don’t think so.

    – will they re-sign Wade Davis? I think so.

    – Marlins are a natural trade partner – I look for something to happen between those teams

    – will Schwarber be traded? I think not

    • Doc Raker

      I don’t think Baez gets traded, his D up the middle is too good and he can play SS better than any other SS in the league including Russell. Happ is not a good enough middle infielder to allow Russell or Baez to be traded. Happ is an outfielder. JJ comes back, Schwarbs gets traded for an ace pitcher. Opening starting OF is Happ, Almora and Heyward.

      Arrieta is asking for $200M for 4 years, only $50M a year. These guys are ridiculous.