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Game 22 Notes – Lots and Lots of Strikeouts

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

Brewers (6) @ Cubs 1

W: Mike Fiers (1-3)
L: Jake Arrieta (3-2)

GAME NOTES

At the beginning of the week, I said that I wanted to see a 4-2 week out of the Cubs. I felt like if we could take two from the Pirates and two from the Brewers, it was a realistic goal. A win on Sunday puts us on position to do that, despite the rather ugly loss on Saturday.

  • Joe Maddon moved Jorge Soler to the leadoff spot for this game in an effort to get him back on track. Coming into the game, Soler was hitting .171 (6-for-35) in his last nine games with 19 strikeouts. The positive to the move, although I don’t like it long term, is that he went 1-for-3 with a walk.
  • The Cubs struck out 18 times in the game, 12 at the hands of Mike Fiers. Since 1914, it has only happened four times in Cubs history that they struck out that many times in a regulation game. The starting pitchers responsible for it?2015 – Fiers (12 K’s)
    2011Brandon Beachy (8 K’s)
    1980Bill Gullickson (18 K’s)
    1962Sandy Koufax (18 K’s)
  • Addison Russell and Anthony Russell collided on a ball in the field. Both stayed in the game and appeared to be OK.
  • One of the worst non-hustle plays I’ve ever seen happened in the 9th on a routine ground ball to short. The batter, Logan Schafer, hit a grounder to short. Starlin Castro‘s throw was wild and got past Rizzo who basically just walked to the ball. The entire time, Schafer was streaking around the bases. By the time Rizzo realized it, he rushed a throw to third that went wild and allowed Schafer to circle the bases on a ground ball to short.

CHIT CHAT

If you had to release a poll of your confidence ratings for both the bullpen and the rotation, what would it look like right now?

For me, I think mine would look like this:

Jake Arrieta
Travis Wood
Jon Lester
Jason Hammel
Kyle Hendricks

Pedro Strop
Hector Rondon
Zac Rosscup
Jason Motte
Edwin Jackson
Gonzalez Germen
Phil Coke

  • Tsuyoshi Wada (AAA)7 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 5 K’s
  • Dan Vogelbach (AA) – 3-for-4, 1 R, 2B, 3B, RBI, BB (Yes, you read that right, he hit a triple)
  • Paul Blackburn (High A) – 5 IP, 6 H, 1 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 2 K
  • Trevor Clifton (Low A) – 5 IP, 3 H, 3 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 3 K

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Game 21 Notes – That’s The Lester We Paid For

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

Brewers (0) @ Cubs (1)

W: Jon Lester (1-2)
L: Wily Peralta (0-4)
S: Hector Rondon (5)

GAME NOTES

It’s hard not to have buyer’s remorse when you make a big purchase. Several years ago, I was saving to replace my car. Since I don’t borrow money, I had the money ready to go to purchase the vehicle. Finally we went to look at cars and I found one that seemed to fit everything we needed and it was in the price range we had set. When my wife asked if I was going to get it, I told her ‘No’. My reason? Because then I wouldn’t have the money in the savings account anymore. It was a silly reason, but I wanted to avoid the buyer’s remorse.

We’ve all known that the free agent spending was coming and is going to continue to come. The key is going to not have immediate buyer’s remorse when we spend big money like we did on someone like Jon Lester. To this point, he’s made it a little difficult to not have some sort of remorse with the news about dead arm in spring training coupled with the embarrassment that throwing to first base has been. Tack on a few less than aceworthly starts to begin the year and you’ve got a recipe for Cub fans to be crying that the world is over and that Theo and Jed have wasted all the money on a bust. Yesterday, Lester hopefully showed the first evidence of what we paid for. The first sign of the ace we need and covet. My question to you, then, is how are you feeling so far about the investment in Lester? Where do you fall on the spectrum of being one that is completely worried or one that completely trusts, if a 1 is the least amount of trust and 10 is blind faith. I find myself somewhere along the 7 range right now. I believed that Lester was the right decision for this team last year and I continue to believe he will be a vital piece to the puzzle when this team wins the World Series. In fact, I would also predict that the Cubs will also have either Cole Hammels, David Price, or Jordan Zimmerman in the rotation to go with Lester and Jake Arrieta next year, so if you have buyer’s remorse now, you better take steps to fix that.

For me, the concern I have now is Addison Russell. It seems a little odd to pick on the guy that hit his first home run of the season to produce the only Cubs run yesterday, but I still feel he was promoted too quickly and I’d like to see him back in AAA when Tommy LaStella or Mike Olt or even Javier Baez is ready to go. I worry that he will struggle and it will retard the development a little for him. This regime tends to stick with that rule that you need to prove yourself at a level before  a promotion. Russell didn’t do that at AAA. While he was by no means struggling in AAA, quite the contrary actually, he hadn’t amassed the amount of experience there to warrant a call up.

Overall yesterday, I think we saw an outlier offensively. 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and eight men left on base will not be the norm this year, especially against the Brewers. It’s good to get the win behind the pitchers and be happy about it. I think we’ll see a different offense today in game two and Sunday in game three. This should be a sweep.


THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1917 – At Wrigley Field, southpaw Hippo Vaughn of Chicago and Reds righty Fred Toney throw no-hitters against one another through the first nine innings. The deadlock is broken in the top of the tenth with a one-out single by Larry Kopf, an error and an infield hit by Jim Thorpe, and Toney then sets the Cubs down in order to preserve his extra inning gem.

1946 – Boston GM Eddie Collins announces the club will install lights at Fenway Park prior to the 1947 season. The Red Sox will be the 14th club out of 16 major league teams to be able to play night games in their home park, leaving just Wrigley Field (Cubs) and Briggs Stadium (Tigers) in the dark.

1956 – During a game in which 48 players see action, Chicago’s third baseman Don Hoak strikes out a record six times against six different New York pitchers. The Giants outlast the Cubs in the 17-inning Wrigley Field marathon, 6-5.

1994 – Changing jersey color from white to blue in an effort to snap a losing skid doesn’t work as the Cubs lose their record eleventh consecutive game when blanked by John Smiley and the Reds, 9-0.

2000Kerry Wood throws in a game for the first time in nearly 19 months, giving up one run and three hits in six innings in the Cub’ 11-1 rout of Houston. The outing is the first test of the right-hander’s reconstructed elbow.

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Game 20 Notes – Ending the Month on a Stinker

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Pirates (8) @ Cubs (1)

W: Gerrit Cole (4-0)
L: Kyle Hendricks (0-1)

GAME NOTES

With a month of the season in the books, it’s kind of hard not to be excited. While the Cubs put up a stinker to end the month, they close out April with a 12-8 record and are legitimately fun to watch night in and night out. I find myself excited to tune in and not wanting to miss the first pitch. It’s been awhile since I could say that.

Looking at the game last night, it wasn’t that bad early. In fact, I was a few minutes late to tune in and it said on MLB.tv that the game was in commercial break. I thought maybe it was starting a few minutes late, but instead it was actually because Hendricks tossed a six pitch first inning. He would exit the game after five innings of work, allowing just two runs, but would take the loss after the bullpen decided that it was a good idea to completely vomit on the mound and put the game completely out of reach. I sent out a tweet prior to the game:

The Cubs decided that they were having none of that and walked five guys. Gonzalez Germen completely sucked. Phil Coke blew chunks. The only bright spot in the pen was Edwin Jackson, who still has a 0.00 ERA through seven innings of bullpen work. I think he’s going to become more and more effective out of the pen. He has good stuff, he just has the propensity to get burned in that one bad inning. If he can just come into the game in short bursts, that should help to alleviate that issue.

Overall, the rest of my impressions and takeaways from the game are small nuggets better suited for bullet form.

    • Starlin Castro had a mental gaffe in the field where he went to cover 2nd and Jonathan Herrera was supposed to be covering. It allowed a grounder, that would have otherwise been playable,  get right through the infield.
    • Anthony Rizzo was way too aggressive early in the game trying to run and stretch out a single to a double on Andrew McCutcheon. He was out fairly easily at 2nd.
    • Joe Maddon won a challenge on a play at second base that, at the time, looked to be a key challenge win to keep the score 2-1.
    • Tough day for Kris Bryant as he did his best Javier Baez impression, going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. He did reach first base on a walk, but was promptly picked off. Add in a ball that went right through the wickets at third base and you’ve got a rather forgettable night. I find it funny that there are still those I’ve seen on Twitter that are bashing what we’ve seen from him so far because he’s not hit a home run yet in the 12 games he’s been a part of at the Major League level. That’s just silly. It’s coming this series against Milwaukee and I think it will come in multiples.
    • Speaking of Baez, he has been hitting in extended spring training. I had wondered if maybe he had just quit baseball all together because we’ve heard absolutely nothing about him since his sister died. Good to see he’s getting back.
    • Carrie Muskat updated on the status of some of the DL guys before last night’s game. Justin Grimm threw a side session Tuesday and could be back soon. Neil Ramirez is not as close as he’s been playing catch but has yet to throw off the mound. Getting those guys back in the pen will give a huge boost to making that pen dominant.
    • Pedro Alvarez had an interesting experience at first base. In the highlight below, you’ll see a pickoff attempt that should have potentially resulted in an out, but at the very least should not have allowed the runner to reach second. Instead, you will see the ball go right through the webbing of the glove. Usually you see guys look at their glove as if it’s the glove’s fault when they let a ball go through. They look at it as if the glove had a hole. For Alvarez, that was legitimately the case. What I find bogus about the play is that he’s charged with an error. That should not be an error.


THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1970Billy Williams becomes the first National Leaguer to play in 1000 consecutive games. The Cubs’ outfielder streak, which started in 1962, will end in two seasons after the future Hall of Famer plays in 1,117 straight contests, setting a National League record.

2000 – Diamondback southpaw Randy Johnson beats the Cubs, 6-0, becoming only the third pitcher baseball history to win six games in April. The “Big Unit’ joins A’s hurlers Vida Blue (1971) and Dave Stewart (1988) as the only other pitchers to accomplish the feat.

2008 – The Cardinals and Cubs both set a franchise record for the most victories in April. The Redbirds beat the Reds, 5-2, for their 18th win of the month, and Chicago takes their 17th game, routing the Brewers, 19-5, at Wrigley Field.

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Game 19 Notes – Junior Lake Returns

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Pirates (2) @ Cubs (6)

W: Travis Wood (2-1)
L: Jeff Locke (2-1)

GAME NOTES

Remember when Junior Lake was all the rage? Remember when he was recalled from Iowa and set the Cubs world on fire? Things haven’t gone quite as planned for him in his mind, but last night he was back. I say that somewhat in jest, but last night he really was a vital part of what the team did to earn the win. A 2-for-5 day at the plate that included a double, a single, an RBI and a run scored coupled with an assist in the outfield and you’ve got yourself a nice day to introduce yourself to Joe Maddon. When Lake came up and did well, people were massively overvaluing him and what his ceiling was. As a result, when he wasn’t reaching or even coming close to that ceiling, they were disappointed. The fact is, Lake is not a star and never will be a star. In fact, he’s probably not even a starter on most teams in the league. What he can be is an above average player that can come off the bench and play multiple positions. He can provide a spark with the bat as well, but to think he has the talent to be an everyday guy is just silly. For now, enjoy the games like last night and know that is the ceiling.

On the mound last night, that’s about as good as it gets. Seven strong innings from your starter, particularly one of your back end three and then two blemish free innings of pen work from the setup guys and you’re out of there with a win. Those types of games have been non-existent for the Cubs in that last decade or so, and it’s nice to be able to not be worried about losing late in a game. Heck, it’s nice to even be winning late in a game. For Wood, he’s now made four starts. His posted game score for them have been (in order): 41, 76, 50, 68. Up, down, up, down. Overall results are quite pleasing, but I’d like to see a second straight “up” start next time out. I believe in Wood a lot. I was a big advocate this off-season that he needed to be a part of this rotation. I still think 2015 is going to be a significant improvement over 2014 and that he could potentially be part of the rotation in 2016 and beyond. It starts with baby steps and that means putting together another good start next time out to go with this one.

Outside of those things, the other really cool thing about this year is the propensity for the Cubs to steal bases. That strikes me as odd, as the stolen base is seen as one of the more risky endeavors in the SABER community, unless you’re over a 70% success rate or so. Maddon is generally regarded as a statistically minded manager so to see him stealing was a little surprising. That said, the Cubs are now 2nd in MLB with 25 stolen bases on the season, one behind the Astros. They have run at an 80.7% success rate. Keep on running, guys!!!


THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1913 – Wearing White Sox uniforms, the Reds are defeated by the Cubs, 7-2, at Chicago’s West Side Park. Cincinnati forgot to pack uniforms and had to don those worn by their opponents’ crosstown rivals.

1983 – After a 7-2 loss to L.A. at Wrigley Field, Cubs manager Lee Elia launches into an obscenity-laced tirade, that will become a much-reported media story on the airwaves and in print for days to come. The Chicago skipper’s rant clearly shows his frustration with the team’s fan base, “the (bleepers) don’t even work. That’s why they’re out at the (bleeping) game. They oughtta go out and get a (bleeping) job and find out what it’s like to go out and earn a (bleeping) living. Eighty-five percent of the (bleeping) world is working. The other 15 come out here. A (bleeping) playground for the (bleepers). Rip them (bleepers)! Rip them (bleeping) (bleepers) like the (bleeping) players!”

1987Andre Dawson hits for the cycle in the Cubs’ 8-4 victory over San Francisco at Wrigley Field. The ‘Hawk’, who enjoys a five-hit day, completes the feat with a sixth inning triple, one of only two he will collect for the entire season.

1995 – Unlike yesterday’s Opening Day crowd which was supportive, some of the 28,244 fans at today’s Wrigley Field game show their displeasure with the recent baseball strike by littering the field with souvenir magnetic schedules. The incident, which took place in the eighth inning of the Cubs’ 5-4 victory over Montreal, delayed the contest five minutes.

2005 – In a match up of 300-game winners, Greg Maddux bests Roger Clemens as the Cubs edge the Astros at Minute Maid Park, 3-2. The last such a showdown occurred in 1987 when Angels’ hurler Don Sutton defeated Twins southpaw Steve Carlton.

2007 – Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock dies on impact in an early morning automobile accident when his 2007 Ford Explorer slams into a parked tow truck in the westbound lane of Highway 40 in St. Louis. In respect to the well-liked 29 year-old, the nationally televised game scheduled for tonight against the Cubs is postponed.

2010 – During the Diamondbacks game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, scores of protesters wave signs and chant, “Boycott Arizona! Boycott Arizona!” on the sidewalk outside the ballpark. The demonstration is in response to the state’s recently enacted illegal-immigration law, with organizers hoping the movement will inspire baseball fans to stay away from contests that feature the team from The Grand Canyon State.

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Game 17 Notes – Addison Russell Comes Through

Monday, April 27th, 2015

Cubs (5) @ Reds (2)

W: Jake Arrieta (3-1)
S: Hector Rondon (4)

GAME NOTES

When you watched this game, it really was much closer than the 5-2 score would indicate. Aside from the two errors, the game was almost in favor of the Reds, and I’m really not sure how we were fortunate enough to manage five runs out of the deal. Aside from a two run Miguel Montero home run and a bases clearing double by Addison Russell, the offense wasn’t firing. Some days, you still get it done, and this team is playing the kind of baseball that still gets it done. I did have something that have been on my mind lately that I want to rant about. Given the fact that I’ve been posting almost exclusively in the game recap realm, it will need to be in this spot.

I called for the Cubs to keep three catchers at the beginning of the season. I felt that if the offers being received for Welington Castillo were not good enough, then don’t make a move just to make a move. Wait for someone to come to you in a “desperate” time of need and then take advantage of it. Having three catchers can be a blessing since it allows you to use one as a pinch hitter to keep the bat fresh, while still not burning your backup. It’s not ideal, but it’s not horrible. However, I felt that way under the assumption that our bullpen was going to be seven guys, not eight, but for almost a week, we’ve been sitting at eight. That doesn’t work for me. It makes our bench too short and we can’t properly plan for late inning switches. Castillo is not going anywhere anytime soon, so Brian Schlitter needs to exit the scene at this point in favor of a position player. The issue, and I think it’s the reason why we haven’t seen the move done yet, is what position player to call up. I look at the 40 man roster and I don’t want any of them right now.

As far as the game itself, it’s nice to see Russell get something in the box score that is positive and helps the team win. He’s been struggling hard and I wonder if he will remain up all season. I don’t think it’s a lock that the Cubs let him sit on the roster and struggle it out at the Major League level like they would have with Kris Bryant. Russell has had very little time in AAA, so if he continues to struggle, I could see him sent back down.

I thought the pen did another great job. That is the ideal 1-2-3 lineup for the last three innings of work with a lead for now while guys like Neal Ramirez and Justin Grimm are injured. I like Zac Rosscup in that 7th inning role in front of Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon.

On the negative side, Jorge Soler has slumped a little and we may want to consider a day off for him. Maybe give him a chance to rest the brain and relax.

News came out yesterday that Adam Wainwright is done for the season with an ACL injury, so our chances in the NL Central just took a turn for the better. That means this week against the Pirates and the Brewers is an excellent chance for us to accelerate out of the month and get into first place. I want at least four out of six in the win column this week. Two from the Pirates and two or even three from the Brewers. No less. It starts tonight with a win against Vance Worley, who beat us last time out.

 

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Game 15 Notes – Bad Bullpen Day

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Cubs (4) @ Pirates (5)

W: Radhames Liz (1-1)
L: Brian Schlitter (0-2)
S: Mark Melancon (3)

GAME NOTES

These days, every day of the year is some sort of theme day. There is bosses day, secretaries day, eat pie day, cut your toenails day. For the Cubs, Thursday was “bad bullpen day”. Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop and Zac Rosscup were all available in the pen. Instead, we saw Edwin Jackson come into the game in relief of Kyle Hendricks and struggle immediately. To stop the bleeding, we went to Schlitter. On what planet is that a good idea? They proceed to completely give up the lead and we close it out with Phil Coke and Jason Motte. While Motte and Coke did not pitch poorly, they have recently and the game was still a one run game. It just seemed odd that all we saw out of the pen was bad bullpen guys. It had to be a theme day. There is no other explanation.

I predicted that Hendricks was going to have a great game and the Cubs would cruise to an easy win. Unfortunately I was wrong and he left with 5.1 innings of work and a game score of 48. I reiterate that I don’t think the Cubs have a playoff rotation, but I do believe we have a rotation to get us to the playoffs. There is a big difference. It’s why bringing in a front line guy this trade deadline or this off-season is so important. Until then, we look for average starts from our 3-4-5 and great starts from 1-2. If you have any encouragement, be encouraged by the fact that we haven’t gotten good starts from Jon Lester to this point and we’re still doing just fine so far.

Kris Bryant played CF. He came into the game the other night and played center, and it’s apparently where he feels most comfortable among the outfield spots. I don’t see him playing out there other than to give Dexter Fowler a day off, which is what he did yesterday.

In the end, a series split on the road is OK. It’s a series we could and should have won, but I’ll take .500 ball on the road. Up next is a weekend series in Cincy

THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1957 – Three Cubs pitchers walk nine players in the fifth inning of a 9-5 loss to the Reds at Crosley Field. Moe Drabowsky starts the frame with four walks, Jackie Collum adds three free passes, and Jim Brosnan issues two bases on balls to set a new National League record.

1958 – At the Los Angeles Coliseum, Gene Fodge picks up his only major league win as the Cubs beat the Dodgers, 15-2. Outfielder Lee Walls carries the day with three homers and eight RBIs.

1962 – Dodger Sandy Koufax ties a major league mark, striking out 18 batters in a nine inning game as the Dodgers rout the Cubs, 10-2, at Wrigley Field. Indians right-hander Bob Feller established the record in 1938 when he whiffed 18 Tigers.

1998 – Dodger backstop Mike Piazza ties a major league record, hitting his third grand slam of the month. The blast highlights a nine-run second inning which leads Los Angeles to a 12-4 victory over the visiting Cubs.

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Game 14 Notes – Late Rally Falls Short

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

Cubs (3) @ Pirates (4)

W: Vance Worley (2-1)
L: Jason Hammel (1-1)
S: Tony Watson (1)
HR: Gregory Polanco (1)

GAME NOTES

Is it just me or did yesterday’s game feel different up until the 8th inning? I felt on Tuesday like we were going to come from behind and win the game the entire time. On Wednesday it just seemed lethargic until the 8th inning when things started happening. It was odd. Once the 8th came around, it was as if the switch was flipped and all of a sudden I felt like we were going to win again. Addison Russell had his first really high leverage situation in the 8th with two outs and the tying run on 3rd. Unfortunately, he lined out and disappointed. I think it’s important to remember that he’s not Kris Bryant. Bryant is not human. He’s a cyborg created to destroy baseball and go immediately into the hall of fame. Russell is a normal top prospect that is going to play well and struggle as well.

Yesterday I mentioned that if we can just get five or six innings of three or four run baseball out of guys like Travis Wood, I’d be happy. I lump Jason Hammel in that category along with Kyle Hendricks. They are guys that are not front line guys. They are 4′s and 5′s, but you can win with them and then upgrade this off-season to have another front line guy. Hammel did just about what we needed. I look for a game score of 50+ from those guys. If you’re unfamiliar with what that is and too lazy to click the link, here is a quick and dirty breakdown.

Game Score is a metric devised by Bill James to determine the strength of a pitcher in any particular baseball game. To determine a starting pitcher’s game score:

  1. Start with 50 points.
  2. Add one point for each out recorded, so three points for every complete inning pitched.
  3. Add two points for each inning completed after the fourth.
  4. Add one point for each strikeout.
  5. Subtract two points for each hit allowed.
  6. Subtract four points for each earned run allowed.
  7. Subtract two points for each unearned run allowed.
  8. Subtract one point for each walk.

Basically I just need them to not do anything to lessen the chances to win. Hammel posted a 46 last night and Wood’s score on Tuesday was 50. Just don’t kill us.

We saw the debut of Gonzalez Germen and that dude was nasty. He can stay. Two innings of nasty ball and I instantly feel much better about the pen. I wasn’t all that worried, but more a little concerned. Germen’s outing last night showed me good things are still in store for this pen.

The only odd thing from last night that I wanted an opinion from the reader on was Joe Maddon‘s aggressive style in the 8th and 9th. We saw him completely empty his bench, including pinch running for Rizzo with Travis Wood in the 9th that would have meant Travis would have had to stay in the game and play the outfield had we scored go ahead or tying runs. I’m all for being aggressive, but that just seemed a little reckless.

It’s an early start today as the Cubs go for the series win behind Kyle Hendricks and I think he’s going to be lights out. I’m predicting 7+ innings of 2 or less runs and at least a strikeout per inning.

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Game 13 Notes – Another Comeback Victory

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Cubs (9) @ Pirates (8)

W: Edwin Jackson (1-0)
L: Mark Melancon (0-1)

GAME NOTES

ADDISON RUSSELL CALL UP – I happened to check Twitter as I was sitting in a very boring CE class for my job and didn’t see anything about the call up. Then I pulled up my e-mail and saw the press release. I was just glancing so when I saw Russell, I assumed it was James Russell, who was signed to a minor league deal a week or so ago and had been pitching well in AAA. After a closer look, I was shocked that it was, instead, the real Russell. I’ll be honest, I was, and still am, quite surprised at the move. It seemed to come with no warning and, in my opinion, is too early. He had such limited experience in AAA this year and it wasn’t like he was on the same track as Kris Bryant in the way he was tearing up level after level. I thought for sure that Russell would be a later in the season call up, if for no other reason than to not risk Super Two status. Now that he’s here, we shift our eyes to either Albert Almora or Kyle Schwarber and I would imagine it will be a close race between the two. I don’t want to zoom in so close and look at his debut. I’m excited he’s here and excited more and more about the future becoming the present with this team. Russell is just another part of that.

CORRESPONDING MOVES - Because Russell was not on the 40 man roster, and you cannot be a part of the Major League roster otherwise, a spot was needed. To make room on the 40 man roster for Russell, the Cubs transferred Mike Olt from the 15 day DL to the 60 day DL. When a player is transferred to the 60 day DL, he can be removed from the 40 man roster. It doesn’t mean Olt is done with the Cubs, but I have a hard time seeing him ever finding a meaningful role with this team and I could see him getting traded while there is still some level of mystery as to what he is and can become. It’s just hard to find a place for him at this point. That broken hand came at a horrible time for him. Had it not happened and had he hit OK at third, I think we would see Bryant in AAA or in the Majors playing the OF right now.

YOUNGSTERS AROUND THE HORN - Before the game, ESPN had a nugget saying:

With Russell being called up to play 2B, all of the Cubs infielders are 25 or younger. No team has started an entire infield of players 25 or younger this early in the season since the ’03 Tigers, who finished 43-119.

I don’t think that will be the case with the Cubs this year. This team is just so much more talented, and I get more and more excited each day to watch them. It’s appointment television.

THOUGHTS FROM THE ACTUAL GAME – I’m not a big fan of retelling the game to the reader. If you watched it, you know what happened. If you didn’t, then take 15 minutes and watch the condensed game. What I took away from the game were three things.

1. I think Travis Wood is going to settle in between his really awesome season and his really bad season, and I’m OK with that. – We didn’t sign him thinking he was going to be a front of the line starter. He’s a back end guy and possibly not even a long term answer. If we can get five or even six innings of three run baseball from him with the occasional stinker and occasional gem, I’m good with that. The Cubs are going to bring in another big arm like David Price or Jordan Zimmerman or Cole Hammels, so that puts even less pressure on Wood to be a big arm in this rotation in the future. Last night he did just what we needed him to do.

2. Our Lineup is Going To Be (and kind of already is) Scary Good. – Just about every time through that heart of the order, at least one of the big names made something happen with the bat. It’s so fun to watch. I think these guys are all going to challenge each other and push each other and we’re going to see ridiculous production in the next year or two. Imagine things if Javier Baez even hits his weight and clubs 35+ home runs. Who cares if he has the strikeouts at that point. Hit him 7th.

3. Our Bullpen is Not As Bad As You Think – Don’t worry. I know Jason Motte wet the bed and I know Brian Schlitter needs to be tarred and feathered, but this pen is also missing Neal Ramirez and Justin Grimm, and both were penciled in to be big pieces. It will get better and as long as it doesn’t turn into a loss, it’s OK. Just enjoy another win and look forward to tonight.

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Game 10 Notes – Kyle Hendricks Can Miss Bats After All

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

Padres (6) @ Cubs 7)

W: Zac Rosscup (1-0)
L: Craig Kimbrel (0-1)
HR: Matt Kemp (1), Miguel Montero (1 & 2)

Box Score


After all the hype and “disappointment” around the debut of Kris Bryant, I wonder how many tuned in for game number two. Had they done so, they would have liked the result much better.

  • We have to start with the day Bryant had because you always start with focusing on the saviour. After a 0-f0r-4 day the day before with three strikeouts, I’m sure the first thing Cubs fans wanted to see was an error at third base, but that was what happened. A simple bouncing ball to third was bobbled and allowed Wil Meyers to reach. The very next batter hit a single, but Meyers got greedy and tried to take third and was thrown out. Overall, outside of that first error, Bryant did fine at third. That’s what we’re going to see as he continues to improve at the position. We’re going to see league average to potentially below average at third base, but well above average at the plate. I’ll take that any day of the week. At the plate, he improved on his poor debut by reaching base four of the five times he came to the plate (a pair of singles and a pair of walks). We’ve not seen the power yet, but it’s coming and I’m going on record that it comes today.
  • Now that we have that out of the way, we can talk about the much improved outing from Kyle Hendricks in his second start of the season. After a rough outing in Colorado for his debut, Hendricks looked much more like the pitcher we saw last season, and even missed a ton of bats. After a first run blast by Kemp, Hendricks settled down nicely and when the day was done he had tossed six innings and only allowed three hits (2 in the first inning), while striking out eight. A much improved outing from Hendricks, and that’s a great thing to see against another good team. He’s had two tough assignments to start the season.
  • Tough day for the bullpen as they had a hard time closing things out in the 9th inning. Phil Coke came into the game in a non-save 9th and promptly gave up two singles. At that point, because the tieing run was in the on deck circle, it became a save situation, so in trotted Hector Rondon. Coming into the game, the bullpen had posted a 1.57 ERA in 28.2 innings of work. When all was said and done, that inflated by almost a full run to 2.41. They’re still ranked 8th in MLB, but it would have been nice to not have to see a four run comeback in the 9th before getting the win.
  • Montero had two home runs. It’s funny, there are guys that when I hear their name or see them hit, I don’t automatically think about Power. Montero is one of those guys and yesterday he stuck it to me with a pair.
  • Do you think maybe Joe Maddon has forgotten that Edwin Jackson is sitting out there in the bullpen? Dude hasn’t pitched in forever and when he didn’t he was fine. I’d like to see him get into the game today.
  • Mike Olt is scheduled to have a cast on his wrist for about a month. That’s disappointing for him. I think he’s going to have a hard time finding at bats when he comes back unless he starts working in the OF and at 1B.
  • Down on the farm, all eyes now turn to the guys like Albert Almora, Kyle Schwarber, and Addison Russell. Almora went 5-for-5 at the plate in AAA and Schwarber went 0-for-2, but drew three walks.

THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

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  • 1997 - At Shea Stadium, the Cubs lose their 13th consecutive game to match the longest losing streak in the franchise’s 122-year history. Reliever Turk Wendell, wearing #13, is tagged with the loss when Chicago is defeated by New York, 6-3.
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