Author Archive

Three Strikes – Squeeze You Like a Snake

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

Hero & Goat

WPA Leader and Loser

HERO – Jon Lester: +.281 WPA

GOAT – Dexter Fowler: -.056 WPA

Video Recap

Strike One – Lester Gets Overlooked?

Unfortunately, there are downsides to having Jake Arrieta on your team. If you’re in the rotation, a good start by you may look less than stellar because the benchmark it’s being compared to is unworldly.

What are you supposed to do with that? Lester and the rest of the rotation can’t compete with that. It’s not human. Lester turned in a seven inning performance, only allowing one run and even got himself an RBI and it’s not even close. Poor guy.

Strike Two – Squeeze Me

One of my favorite plays in all of baseball is the squeeze bunt. There is something exciting about the fact that the manager always carries it around in his back pocket and can play it at any time when the situation allows. Last night Joe Maddon busted it out not once, but twice with David Ross and Lester. Both executed it perfectly and it generated a pair  of runs. It’s been fun to watch Ross this year. The eye test says that he’s been more valuable offensively this year and the numbers certainly bear it out. He’s sporting a nice 114 OPS+ so far, which means he’s roughly 14% above  league average. Considering last year he had an OPS+ of 44, I’ll take the new David Ross.

Strike Three – Rizzo Power

Anthony Rizzo appears to have found his power stroke, hitting a home run last night for the third straight game. I am convinced he is going to win an MVP one of these years. Everyone talks about how Kris Bryant has the higher ceiling, but I’m a Rizzo guy. I think he has the highest ceiling and is most likely to reach it. What he can do offensively against lefties is amazing considering where he was when he came into the league. Throw in better defense than Bryant and I think Rizzo will be a better player when all is said and done.

John LackeyLackey struck out 11 and held the Cardinals to four hits over seven scoreless innings Monday. The right-hander effectively mixed his pitches, and he’ll have to do so again against the Reds, whom he beat April 13 at Wrigley Field.


Dan Straily – In his first start after three relief appearances, Straily turned in five nice innings with one run and two hits for a no-decision on Monday vs. Colorado. The right-hander threw 52 of his 76 pitches for strikes.


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Watch Anthony Rizzo’s 3rd HR in the last 3 Games (VIDEO)

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

This guy is just plain good. Watch Anthony Rizzo crush a home run for the third straight game last night.

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Three Strikes – Utter Domination

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Hero & Goat

WPA Leader and Loser

Jake Arrieta: +.263 WPA

Addison Russell: -.028 WPA

Video Recap

Strike One – Pitching Domination

I’m just gonna leave this here so you know I had a feeling before the game.

Poor Jon Lester

Strike Two – Hitting Domination

I’m too lazy to look it up, but I feel like this may be the most lopsided no hitter ever with 16 runs of support. Enjoy just one sample.

Strike Three – Divisional Domination

The Cubs are now 6-1 against the NL Central division and look to be the cream of the crop. It’s incredibly important to dominate this division so we’re not relegated to the wild card. We’re off to a good start.

Jon Lester (LHP) - Lester’s 2.21 ERA through three starts is a significant improvement from his 6.89 mark at this time last year. He is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in two starts at Great American Ball Park.


Jon Moscot (RHP) - In his ’16 debut, Moscot threw 102 pitches in 5 2/3 innings but gave himself something to build on. He gave up two homers and three runs overall on six hits and one walk. With more days, he should have more stamina to go deep in games going forward.


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Three Strikes – Lackey Dominates

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Hero & Goat

WPA Leader and Loser

John Lackey: +.383 WPA

Addison Russell: -.024 WPA

Video Recap

Lackey, Cubs shut down Cardinals – ESPN Video

Strike One – Johnny Be Good

I wondered if we would see a huge game from John Lackey and/or Jason Heyward given the fact that both probably wanted to stick it to their old team. If you think the rivalry is not alive, you’re wrong. The Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) talked all off-season and you wondered what game one would look like. Would there be heated tempers and chirping back and forth? Would there be a brushback? We got not of that. What we did get was a flat out great outing from Lackey and, aside from the 7th inning, an outstanding outing from Mike Leake. I thought Leake’s outing was better through six, personally, and I wondered if the Cubs would just get shut down again like they did twice in the Rockies series, but they proved otherwise. For Lackey, it was obviously his best start as a Cub and one of his best ever. He even came up big with an RBI to pad the lead. It was a great night to be Lackey.

Strike Two – Statement Game?

As I mentioned before, there was a lot of “hype” around this first game and this series. The Cubs eliminated the Cardinals last year and seem to be ready to take over the perch as top dog in the division, so you know the Cardinals would like nothing more than to knock them off the high horse. The Cubs did exactly what they needed to do. They went out and hit them square in the nose and now we see how the Cardinals, who are now 0 and 4 against the Cubs and Pirates to start the year, will respond. I don’t think it’s a “statement” win, but if the Cubs sweep this series, I think it goes a long way toward causing them to doubt their ability to compete in this division.

Strike Three – Who’s Fault Is It?

In the 5th inning, which was a key point in the game, the Cardinals had runners on second and third and a chance to take the first lead of the game with just one out and Leake at the plate. Leake attempted a squeeze and missed the bunt, causing Kolten Wong to be hung out to dry between 3rd and home only to see the Cubs blow the play. If you didn’t see it, here is video of it. My question to you is: Who is at fault on this play? It’s an out that was handed to us that didn’t get made. Is it Miguel Montero who is at fault for waiting too long to throw to third after running down Wong, or is it Kris Bryant for being out of position to take the throw for Montero? I’d like your input. I, personally, lay the blame on Montero, but am I wrong? Thankfully the play did not come back to bite us, but boy it could have and should have.

Watch the video of the Play

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Bryant played a great third base defensively all game long. I believe he’s best served playing the hot corner and tonight we saw examples of just plain good glove work
  • The Cardinals broadcast has a wonderful camera angle that essentially sets up directly behind the pitcher to give you a straight on view of the strike zone. If you know me, I’m a big snob about this.
  • Al Hrabosky made the comment that he feels the Cubs bullpen is the achilles heel of the team. I wouldn’t agree with that. I think the Cubs pen is deep, but doesn’t have any flat out dominant guys. I would not say it’s a weak area, though.
  • Kyle Schwarber is scheduled to have surgery to repair his ACL and LCL this week.

Jason Hammel (RHP) - All of Hammel’s offseason work is paying off. He’s given up one earned run in 12 innings in his first two starts. He also delivered at the plate in his last outing, hitting an RBI double. He’s 2-3 with a 5.97 ERA in seven career starts vs. St. Louis.


Jamie Garcia (LHP) - Garcia is coming off the best start of his career, a one-hit shutout over the Brewers in which he struck out 13 and induced 13 groundball outs. Garcia had exceptional movement on his sinker and changeup in the outing.

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Three Strikes: Arrieta is Too Good…Again

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

I’m so sorry for assigning Nate to recap yesterday’s game, causing the Cubs to lose. It’s back to normal today and I’m on the notes, which means we talk about a win. The Cubs are now 8-1 in games I recap, 0-1 in Nate games and 1-0 in Chris games.

Video Recap

Thanks A Lot / Thanks For Nothing

WPA Leaders and Goats

Jake Arrieta: .407 WPA

Anthony Rizzo: .142 WPA

Jorge Soler: .126 WPA

David Ross: -.032

Kris Bryant: -.051

Addison Russell: -.070

Strike One – Arrieta’s Start

I’m running out of things to say about Jake and his crazy good pitching. We saw him show his human side in start number two, but he was back to his old tricks in this one, going eight innings of shutout ball while striking out eight. He now has a scoreless streak at home of 48.2 innings and a 3-0 record. The skeptical Cubs fan in me keeps waiting for the Mark Prior or Kerry Wood shoe to drop, but it’s not dropping. I enjoy watching him pitch so much and it’s gotten to the point where it’s almost like an automatic win.

I did have one complain, and it was not toward Jake, but rather toward Joe Maddon. After throwing in the top of the 8th, Jake was due up 6th in the bottom of the 8th and Travis Wood was already warming up in the pen. It was pretty clear that he was coming in to pitch the 9th if Jake struggled a little going for the shutout. The Cubs tacked on another run to make it 6-0 and with two outs, Maddon left Jake in to hit and then immediately pulled him in favor of Wood to pitch the 9th. My problem is twofold. First, I would have rather seen Jake’s day be done after eight innings of work and 100 pitches. I don’t subscribe to the whole pitch count thing, but I know there are those that do, so I included the number. What I do subscribe to is that we saw Jake look mortal in the playoffs and with a six run lead there is no reason to run him out there for the 9th. Second, assuming Maddon was NOT going to let Jake pitch in the 9th, why let him hit in the 9th? At bats are few and far between for bench guys and it would have been a great time to give at at bat to someone like Tommy La Stella. Letting Jake hit doesn’t make sense and seems reckless. What happens if he gets hit on the hand? It’s not worth it.

Strike Two – Baez Returns

The box score shows a 2-for-4 day for Javier Baez with a run scored and a double. If you watch the game, though, you would have seen two strike outs that were evidenced by at bats that featured Javy swinging at out of the zone pitches. Basically in the two at bats he got a hit, he was good. In the two at bats he struck out, he looked bad. I think that’s what we’re going to see from Javy. He’s never going to be a low strikeout guy. He’s always going to contend or lead the league in that category, but when he connects, he has the talent to do great things with the bat. In his first at bat, he used his speed to beat out an infield single. For the double, he took the ball the other way with two strikes on a ball up out of the strike zone a la Vladimir Guerrero. Cap it off with this defensive play and I give him a solid B+ on the day.

Strike Three – Parra’s a Tool

Look at this idiot. I’m glad the ump called him on it. Stupid, bush league idiot.

Jon Lester (LHP) - Lester has posted quality starts in each of his first two outings. He did not get a decision in his last start against the Reds, and admitted he was overthrowing early in the game. He’s 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA in two career starts vs. the Rockies.


Tyler Chatwood (RHP) - This will be the first career start at Wrigley Field for Chatwood, who pitched solidly with the exception of a pair of two-out, two-run homers in a home loss to the Giants in his last outing.

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Three Strikes: Guess Who’s Coming Back

Friday, April 15th, 2016


Video Recap

STRIKE ONE: Curb Your Enthusiasm

In all seriousness, I don’t mean to pee in your corn flakes this morning, but as excited as I am about an 8-1 start to the season, it’s important to take it with a cynical eye just a bit. This team is good. This team is very good and it’s going to be a very exciting summer of Chicago baseball overall with the White Sox playing good ball as well (Note: I don’t hate the White Sox), but step back for a second and look at the teams the Cubs have played so far. We beat an Angels team that is considered to be potentially the worst team in the AL west. We beat the Diamondbacks who some believe will be OK and some believe will be bad (I believe they will be under .500), and now we’re beating up on a Reds team that is essentially tanking and will eventually sell off guys like Jay Bruce, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. They don’t want to win. This weekend we open a series with the Rockies (also a bad team). It’s not until Monday when we get the Cardinals that we get our first test of a competent opponent. Let’s hang tight on being the annoying homer fan until we know this is not just a hot stretch against bad teams (it’s not).

STRIKE TWO: My Boyfriend’s Back

Ok, so Javier Baez is not my boyfriend (sorry to Pedro Strop for even joking about that), but I do like watching him play and have looked forward to him getting regular at bats this season in the Majors. Word got out yesterday that he is scheduled to head back to Chicago. It was first expected that he would be on the road trip with Iowa and then Tommy Birch tweeted out that there was a 180 and that Baez was headed back to Chicago.

I could see him activated as soon as today with Munenori Kawasaki headed back to Iowa to take his place. The question will then shift to how to get him in the lineup on a regular bases to not retard his development. He’s kind of a guy without a position.

STRIKE THREE: So Long To Jokisch

A rather curious move (at least it was to me) yesterday as the Marlins claimed LHP Eric Jokisch off waivers from the Cubs. Jokisch was on the 40 man roster, which stood at 40. I find it odd that the Cubs would just up and try to pass a player through waivers at the risk of losing him just for the sake of removing him from the 40 man roster when nothing was forcing the roster move. Baez will return from the DL, but he’s already on the 40 man roster. I’ve seen it speculated that the Cubs just wanted to see if they could slip him through to give them roster flexibility, hoping no one would notice, but I’m not buying that. Teams don’t just randomly not notice that a guy is on waivers. They check that list every day. This one sticks with me, and I feel it’s an indication of something coming. It could be nothing, but I would watch to see if the Cubs add someone in the next day or two.


Kyle Hendricks (RHP) - Hendricks posted a quality start in his first outing — and got a hit off Zack Greinke. He’d like to improve his fastball command and his changeup vs. right-handed hitters. This will be his first start at home, where he posted at 3.38 ERA last year.


Chad Bettis (RHP) - Bettis threw seven innings, struck out six and gave up two runs (one earned) while beating the Padres on Sunday. His experience at Wrigley is limited to a scoreless two-thirds of an inning of relief in 2014.

Scouting Report from


1942 – At Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, Hiram ‘Hi’ Bithorn becomes the first Puerto Rican to play major league baseball. The Cubs’ right-hander from Santurce makes a relief appearance, allowing no runs or hits during his two innings of work in Chicago’s 4-2 loss to the Redbirds.

1947 – In his National League debut, Hank Greenberg has the lone RBI in the Pirates’ 1-0 win over the Cubs. Pittsburgh bought the slugging first baseman from the Tigers in the off-season for $75,000.

1969 - Jeromy Burnitz is born

1978 - Milton Bradley is born

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Three Strikes – Addison Comes Up Clutch

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016



Strike One: Russell’s Home Run - I watched this one on the couch board out of mind by the lack of Cubs offense. At one point, I must have fallen asleep because the game was that boring for our guys. Brandon Finnegan made the lineup look horrible and had a no hitting into the 7th inning. I began wondering if I would see my 2nd no hitter (1st being Jake’s last year) and it was not sitting well with me. After breaking up the no no in the 7th, we got to the pen and that’s when things happened, but nothing was bigger than Addison Russell‘s bomb. You can watch the video above as it was my vote for play of the game. I’m going on record right now and predicting 20+ home runs from Addison this year and a potential gold glove award.

Strike Two: Schwarber Intro – The Cubs want to make him as much a part of the team as possible and it was good to see him take the field for pre-game introductions on opening day. I’m gonna miss that dude this season, but let’s hope he comes back stronger. According to Jesse Rogers the Cubs plan to put Kris Bryant in left field a little along with Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Matt Szczur. Personally, I don’t like the idea of Bryant out there. I’d rather him focus his efforts at third base where I believe he can be an above average fielder due to his athleticism.

Strike Three: Lester Average, Bullpen Good – It wasn’t the best start by Jon Lester yesterday, but thanks to late offense it got the job done. I wasn’t upset with Jon’s start, but it wasn’t what I had hoped for. Thankfully, what’s awesome is that both our # 1 and # 2 were hittable in their second outing and in both starts the Cubs got a win. That’s the key. Keep the offense in the game and let them work. The bullpen, on the other hand, continues to shine. I’m not a fan of the eight man pen, but so far this season they have been great. In seven games this season they lead the NL in bullpen ERA at 1.06 and trail only the Yankees (1.04) for the overall lead in the Majors. It’s early, but it’s been fun to watch.


  • The Cubs acquired Giovanni Soto (RP) from the Indians for cash considerations. He’s a lottery ticket with a live arm in the pen that has struggled with his control in the minors, but has posted good ERA’s. It reminds me of someone like Pedro Strop in that the Cubs may see something and want to take a chance to see if they can correct it and turn him into a useful piece for depth.
  • Jen-Ho Tseng (AA) was carted off the field yesterday in a game for the Smokies after taking a line drive comebacker off his left leg.


John Lackey - This will be Lackey’s first game at Wrigley Field as a Cub. He can only hope the offense comes through again as it did in his first start, scoring 14 runs in a win over the D-backs. Lackey served up six runs in that outing.


Alfredo Simon - Simon went five solid innings against Pittsburgh in his first start of the season, giving up one earned run on five hits and seven strikeouts in a no-decision. He’s 4-0 with a 1.66 ERA in 15 career games against the Cubs, including five starts.

Scouting Report from


1931 - Former Cubs pilot Joe McCarthy makes his debut as Yankee manager. The future Hall of Fame manager, who is the team’s all-time leader in managerial wins with 1460, guides the club to eight pennants and seven World championships during his 16-year tenure in the Bronx.

1982 - Justin Ruggiano is born

1988 - Bobby Witt ties an American League record, committing four balks in the Rangers’ 4-1 loss in Detroit. The major league record for the most balks in one game is five, established in 1963 by Braves’ right-hander Bob Shaw which included three in third inning in team’s 7-5 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

1994 - The Philadelphia Phillies traded Kevin Foster to the Chicago Cubs for Shawn Boskie.

2004 - Cubs sign Trent Hubbard as a Free Agent. Funny story about this one. I was at a game in 1995 sitting in centerfield with my buddy Shaun. We were giving it to this guy something fierce during batting practice and he was engaging and kind. When I asked for a ball, he said he couldn’t give me the one that just came into the outfield because it was dirty and he was from this Chicago. He said he would bring one to me and was a man of his word. When he came out to take the field in the bottom of the 1st he brought with him a new ball that he had autographed. Trent Hubbard: Good Guy.

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Three Strikes – Arrieta May Not Be a Cyborg After All

Monday, April 11th, 2016


The NHL Playoffs start on Wednesday and yesterday was the Masters final day. I find myself torn sometimes as to what to watch on TV since I don’t have a two TV setup. Does anyone else have this problem? I opted for the Cubs game yesterday, but I was tempted to go Masters.

Box Score / Highlights

STRIKE ONE – Arrieta’s Human?

We got a hint that this may be the case in the last game he pitched in the playoffs, but then he came out and continued to dominate, leading me to believe that he was, in fact, still a cyborg that may have just had a technical malfunction in that playoff game. He continued to reinforce his cyborg status yesterday for the first part of the game, making hitters look silly and hitting a monster HR to give the Cubs an early two run lead.

When the day was done, however, we saw a little bit a human side creeping out and a final line that showed three earned runs. I don’t know how to process three earned runs from Jake. It’s so odd that Jim DeShaies even remarked that, as crazy at is sounds, it was a sub-par outing for Jake. He’s set the bar that high that we expect a no hitter or close to it each and every time he takes the mound, and that’s unfair. The start was good and the result was great. Another win in the books and it’s on to the home opener with a 5-1 record.

STRIKE TWO - Is 1,000 Runs Possible?

As good as this offense has been so far, I got to wondering what the record was for team runs in a season. As far as I could find, Boston scored 1,220 in 1894, but the game was much different then. It looks like the AL record is 1,067 by the NY Yankees in 1931. It’s been done 16 times in MLB history, with the last time coming in 1999 courtesy of the Cleveland Indians. So, it’s possible that it can be done in the modern era and I’d like to see us do it. If you do the math, it takes just under 6.2 runs per game to reach the goal. So far the Cubs are averaging seven runs a game through the first six games. It’s a huge goal, but let’s go for it.

Also, not to toot my own horn or anything, but I called the Jorge Soler home run in the morning

STRIKE THREE – Fringe Players

Yesterday we saw two guys come into the game late that probably won’t be mainstays with their teams, but it’s great to see them get into the game. There is something to be said for how awesome it is each time a player gets to take the field for a Major League team. It’s a select club that very few people are a part of. Yesterday Munenori Kawasaki, who was a longshot to make the team out of spring, got into the game and managed to get a hit and steal a base. This guy has been in the Majors for the past couple years, but in a very limited role and has performed poorly. However, when you’re getting up in years from a sports standpoint, you cherish every at bat you get. It was good to see Kawasaki get in there. He’s a goofball and is fun to watch.

The other name that got into the game was on the Arizona side. Matt Buschmann has spent 10 years in the minor leagues waiting for his time to get the call to join the club. He warmed up in game two and three and didn’t get into the game. Last night he got the call and it was cool to see his family in the stands on pins an needles as he tried to work out of a self induced jam in the 9th inning of a still relatively close game. He got the job done with an inning ending double play and it’s a day he’ll probably remember for a long time.


Jon Lester - Lester opened the season with a solid seven innings over the Angels and said he’s “light years ahead” of last season. The lefty feels more comfortable in his delivery, and it shows. Last year, he was 7-9 with a 3.60 ERA in 20 starts at Wrigley Field.


Brandon Finnegan - Finnegan had a nice start to 2016, posting nine strikeouts over six innings and 86 pitches against Philadelphia. After establishing his fastball early, he switched to more changeups and kept hitters off balance. He retired 10 of his last 11 batters.

Scouting Report from


1972 - Robin Jennings is born

1975Todd Dunwoody is born

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Three Strikes – Our Last Pitcher is Better Than Your Ace

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

I dove into the world of fantasy baseball again last night. I don’t know why I don’t learn my lesson on this. I get ambitious when the season starts and want it to be like I enjoy fantasy football and every year I’m disappointed. This year I was asked by a friend about a very casual league with deep rosters and all your players start. It’s just 8 teams, so we’ll see.

Box Score / Highlights

STRIKE ONE – Hendricks vs Greinke

On paper it appeared to be a bit of a mismatch from a starting pitcher standpoint, with their # 1 facing our # 5, but on certain days anyone can beat anyone. In addition, Zack Greinke wasn’t quite Cy Young contender like in his first start and Kyle Hendricks isn’t your prototypical # 5 starter. The Cubs jumped on Greinke early, which was huge because he settled down and really turned in a pretty good outing outside of the 1st inning.

For Hendricks, I think it’s a very legit possibility that he wins 15+ games this season. He’s continuing the develop nicely as a pitcher and has begun to do a better job at missing bats the last year or so. Being able to strike guys out is a huge key to success. While I don’t see him ever turning into a strikeout and inning type of pitcher, I can see him in the range of 8 k/9 ip range and that’s great. I’ll take that any day of the week from my 5th starter. He gave us 6.2 innings of work and limited the Diamondbacks to just two runs on four hits. The key for back end of the rotation guys will be to just keep the offense in the game. Keep from allowing so many runs that we beat ourselves.

STRIKE TWO – Leaving Runners On Base

I know I shouldn’t complain about a team that has started the season 4-1 and has made it look fairly easily, but it bares mentioning that the last two games this team has failed to really capitalize on the amount of guys they are getting on base. Last night the Cubs went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base. When you get the opportunity to knock someone like Greinke around, it’s important to take advantage. I don’t think it’s going to be a point to cause alarm, but since it’s happened, it’s worth mentioning.


I’m very curious to see how left field shakes itself out. The way I see it, we have Jorge Soler as the favorite for the bulk of the playing time, but Matt Szczur and Javier Baez right offstage waiting in the wings. Personally, I don’t believe in Soler. I’d love to see the Cubs move him this summer in a trade for a cost controlled starting pitcher. I think that out of all the players that were considered uber prospects in this system, he had the highest fail rate. I know how he performed in the playoffs, but I also know how he’s performed outside of that, and I’m not impressed. I’d like to see Javier Baez get a good hard look in left and see if he can take the job and run with it. I’ve see Soler and what he brings, but we’ve yet to really get a good look at Baez for a large stretch of time since he went back to AAA to figure things out.


1962 - At Colt Stadium in Houston, thanks to a pair of three-run home runs by Roman Mejias, the Colt .45′s, in their first ever major league game, defeat the Cubs, 11-2. Former Yankee hurler Bobby Shantz gets the win for the new franchise on the owner Judge Hofheinz’s 50th birthday.

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