Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Organizational Recap: Why I Like Joe Maddon

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

Cubs 6 @ Marlins 9 (Box Score)

WHY I LOVE JOE – Yesterday saw Willson Contreras playing LF. Earlier in the week we saw him playing first base. This is the “catcher of the future”, just like Kris Bryant is the “third baseman of the future”, yet we have seen Joe Maddon move these guys around to get them versatility. It’s a big reason why this team is so deep and able to withstand injuries. Guys get thrown in there and it keeps them on their toes. I like that it’s crept up to the Majors, because it’s been percolating in the Minors since this new regime took over. I’m not one of those guys that things all is wrong with the game and that we need to throw out scouts, etc. What I am is a guy that is OK with questioning what we’ve done in the past and wondering if it could be done better. It may be able to be improved in some areas and not in others. You never know until you try it, and Joe has been open to trying new things and challenge the traditional way of thinking. For that, I love him. Embrace change.

BAD LACKEY – We haven’t seen bad John Lackey much, if at all this season. In fact, we haven’t seen bad starting pitcher performances much at all this year. It comes as a surprise when it happens and yesterday is an example. He failed to get out of the 5th inning and had to come out with runners on base. In his last start, he threw to Contreras and seemed to have some frustration on the mound. I actually wonder if that is why Montero was back there for this start instead of Contreras, but it didn’t matter. It happened. It’s over, and it’s time to move forward to Sunday.

I APOLOGIZE – I praised Gerardo Concepcion and Spencer Patton and both came in yesterday and did not shut down the opponents. The very first hitter that Concepcion faced, Justin Bour, went the other way for a double. Patton gave up another two runs and it amounted to a bad day for guys I believe in. Like Lackey, it happened, it’s over, and we move forward.


STARTING PITCHERS

AAA – Adam Warren: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K

AA – Duane Underwood: 4 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K

A-Adv – Jeremy Null: 3 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 2 K

A – Casey Bloomquist: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K

SS – Jose Paulino: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

TOP HITTERS

AAA – John Andreoli (CF): 2 for 4, 3B, 2 R, BB

AA – Ian Happ (2B): 3 for 4, 2B, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI (Just recently promoted to AA)

A-Adv – Ian Rice (DH): 3 for 4, 2B, R

A – Carlos Sepulveda (2B): 2 for 4, R

SS – Andruw Monasterio (SS): 3 for 4, 2B, 2 R, RBI

HIGHLIGHTS

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Organizational Recap: Willson Contreras…Future Star?

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

I learned this week that no one “reads the top part” anymore, so hopefully that isn’t the case and you’ll see this. VFTB is going to San Diego in August. Several of the regular commenting readers organized a meet up for the Tuesday / Wednesday games in San Diego in August. It’s a great idea and I just learned yesterday that I am able to be a part of it. If you are interested in joining us and meeting up, please contact me via e-mail and I can get the details to you.

Cubs 5 @ Marlins 4 (Box Score)

    • CONTRERAS GOES YARD AGAINWillson Contreras is making his case for why the Cubs should give serious thought to making him the starting catcher the majority of the time. He hit another home run (VIDEO) yesterday in the 1st inning and later added a game winning RBI later in the game (VIDEO). He has a rocket arm and a lot of the folks that I’ve talked to believe he is going to be a star behind the plate. It’s really looking like another prospect coming to the Majors and having good success. The hit rate we’ve seen on these guys is amazing. No one is busting. Just remember when you’re at the bar and want to praise Theo for this one, Contreras was a Jim Hendry find, not Theo.
    • BAEZ KEEPS ON BEING BAEZ – This guy can flat out field. Javier Baez, I salute you.
  •  ZOBRIST HURT? – Ben Zobrist left the game early after being hit by a pitch, but all signs point to him being ok, given that he jogged down to 1st base and no one has written anything alarming about it.

STARTING PITCHERS

AAA – Drew Rucinski – 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K

AA – Jen-Ho Tseng – 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K

A-Adv – Erick Leal – 6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K

A – Preston Morrison – 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K

SS – Bryan Hudson – 5 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K

TOP HITTERS

AAA – Juan Perez (CF): 2 for 4, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI

AA – Jacob Hannemann (CF): 2 for 4, 3B, R

A-Adv – Jason Vosler (3B): 2 for 3, 2B, RBI, BB

A-Adv – Bryant Flete (SS): 1 for 3, 3B, R, RBI, BB

SS – Andruw Monasterio (SS): 2 for 5, 1 R, 2 RBI

HIGHLIGHTS

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Organizational Recaps: Losing Streaks…Make It Stop

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Cubs 2 @ Marlins 4 (Box Score)

    • WHAT TO DO WITH BAEZ? – I’ve continued to mention this, and I’ll do it again. I want Javier Baez as my everyday third baseman for the future. I love Kris Bryant, but what Baez does over there far surpasses what Bryant has done, and since Bryant is competent in LF, I like that move. What would you guys like to see the Cubs do with the third base situation? Just in case you’re on the fence and missed the game last night, here is a little video evidence to support my case. The play was eventually ruled safe, but the concept is the same.
  • LESTER CONFIDENCE – I’ve found my confidence in Jon Lester to be increasing a little more with every start. Last year I felt shaky when he was on the mound and needed to watch Jake Arrieta start to talk me off the ledge in my thinking that the Cubs may have overpaid. This year, watching him is different. He feels more confident and the “cant’ throw to 1st” stuff seems to be talked about less. I’m pretty bought in to Lester at this point. How do you guys feel about Lester compared to last year?
  • BULLPEN FIX – The pen lost the game (Pedro Strop) after the Cubs tied it on a home run by Grandpa Rossy. It’s disappointing to see crap like that, especially after coming off a sweep at the hands of the Cardinals. We are quickly nearing the 30 day mark till the trade deadline, so what do you want the Cubs to do with this pen? Who do you trust and who do you not? Let’s talk bullpen.

STARTING PITCHERS

AAA – Aaron Brooks: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

AAA – Starlin Peralta: 2.2 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K

AA – Tyler Skulina: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 0 K

A-Adv – Jonathan Martinez: 7.1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 K

A – Ryan Kellogg – 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K

SS – Dylan Cease: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K

TOP HITTERS

AAA – Matt Murton (LF): 3 for 4, BB, 2 R

AA – Jacob Hannemann (CF): 2 for 4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, SB

A-Adv – Gleyber Torres (SS): 2 for 4

A – Eloy Jimenez (LF): 2 for 5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI

SS – Andruw Monasterio (SS): 3 for 5, 2 R, 2 RBI

HIGHLIGHTS

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GirlieView (06/23/2016)

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely, and/or interesting quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’er: The person with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks.)
  • Top 10 of the 2016 Season = The folks with the most aggregate Lizzie points YTD (1 point for every Lizzie, 3 points for every Lizard.)

As you already know, this is all completely subjective and according to my whims.

Lizzies

  • I think I’m in love with Albert Almora.
  • Joe’s in love. The Phillies’ broadcasters are in awe. That was another fun game to watch. Lackey looks like Mr. Ed.
  • I don’t think we are peaking. I think we are slumping. I don’t have Dork or the new nerds spreadsheets to prove it, but I watch the games. The offense can be much better than it has been the last few weeks, though granted the wins keep coming.
  • When you have three kids (10, 6, & 4), your visit includes Lincoln Park Zoo, Museum of Science and Industry, and hanging with grandma and grandpa. Wrigleyville bars don’t make the list.
  • But Wrigley Field with the Cubs in it should be included. What are you teaching your kids?
  • Seymour can provide a suitable family escape excuse.
  • My first thought was Ross as he is the eldest. Then I looked at the roster and noted I was in college when he was born, so probably not much to talk about in common.
  • Then I thought Schwarber as he went to Indiana and can’t run away.
  • But I decided to go outside the box and pick Madden. At only 4 years older than me, we likely have a lot of shared memories. He is a fun guy interested in having a good time, as am I. He is not a fashion slave and likes cheap eats. He is me with a baseball life.
  • I choked on my toasted sub when I read, ‘fun guy …as am I”.
  • I assume toasted sub is a euphemism.
  • I’d take Theo as long as no Red Sox talk.
  • Montero. No real reason behind it, but he comes off as a guy that could carry a conversation over a meal.
  • Zobrist. I like the veteran’s best. Plus, he’s a downstate guy and I like that too.
  • I think I’d pick Jake the Snake.
  • Pat Hughes.
  • Theo so we could talk about our lives as transplants.
  • Pedro Strop so I could ask him about the hat thing.
  • Definitely Jon Lester. For one thing, he spells his first name the same as I do, so there’s that…but I’d love to hear from him about the whole not throwing to first base thing.
  • The first solution would be to make the game mean nothing again. Honestly, there is no reason this game should mean anything anyway. Managers try to rotate position players in and out of the game, and pitchers throw 2 or 3 innings max. The All-Star game is an exhibition. No one would complain if it went back to being a meaningless exhibition.
  • The All Star game is not interesting to me any longer.
  • Home field advantage should be awarded to the team with the best record.
  • The All-Star game should be after the season, like football does it. Shorten the season by the week they lose, and play the All-Star game someplace warm or indoors.
  • Oh, and the starting 9 should be the 9 players who finish the season with the best overall stats for their position. Let the great unwashed vote on the reserves.
  • They are elite athletes getting paid a SHIT-TON of money to play baseball. If they “need the break” they should take a different job. They get a long paid vacation every winter.
  • Baez – someone needs to work with him on breaking ball recognition…man he can look bad up there. When he whiffed the third time, Santangelo said, “he’s mad at himself for striking out. He shouldn’t be. If you are going to swing like that with two strikes? You are going to strike out a LOT. Get used to it or change your approach with two strikes.” He’s spot on.
  • For the record, Justin Hayward was the lead guitarist for the Moody Blues. I’m sure Len knew that. For you young’uns, the Moody Blues were a popular rock band in the 60’s and 70’s. They kept playing music, they just weren’t popular any more. They still tour. Tweet Len for details.
  • I get so tired of watching our starting pitchers get ahead of hitters all night long and then as soon as the bullpen comes in it is 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 3-1, always pitching from behind. Not just this season, every season all the time. Yes the Cubs are good but that will kill you in October.
  • No one has any thoughts on what my dream may mean?
  • Oh we stopped reading the top part years ago.
  • I feel like I’m reading a riddle.
  • the next one is sort of like a limerick
  • Bullpen needs a better lefty than Clay Dick
  • I would not give up Schwarbs but I would trade Chris Coghlan, Montero, David Ross, Clayton Richards, Trevor Cahill, Wiffowitz or Adam Dunn.
  • What are you expecting back for that ‘can’t resist’ package of talent?
  • Fernando Rodney
  • I’m sort of over Miggy Mont. Give Contreras some consistent starts over the next few weeks and let him show what he can do and then go from there. If he’s up here, play him.
  • Heyward still looks REALLY BAD to me at the plate. He’s uncomfortable. His swing is still loopy and awkward. I cannot understand why they are leaving him batting 2. Everything and everyone else on this team has changed positions in the batting order (and most of them in the field, too) except this one.
  • So now we are expecting our players to not only play hard, but throw hard as well. You do realize some of these games last longer than 4 hours.
  • Whew! I hate Molina.
  • [I’d] rather see David Ross bat second.
  • his pee-er part

Lizard

  • In the playoffs, there will be zero crappy pitching – and this team has to learn to consistently, not occasionally, beat the other guy’s top 2 or 3. Period.

Shout Outs

  • No one had their very first 2016 Regular Season Lizzie this time so let’s have a shout out for everyone! Thanks for being here!

MVL

  • Congratulations to Sherm, our Most Valuable Lizzie-er for the third time in a row! Way to go Sherm!

Top 10 of the 2016 Season (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard)

1. Sherm
2. Doc Raker
3. Eddie von White
4. Seymour Butts
5. jswanson
6. Doug S
7. Joe Aiello
8. Brad Lyerla
8. cap’n realist
10. Sean Powell

Chit Chat

  • What changes do you feel the Cubs need to make between now and the end of the season in order to be playoff-ready? Your ideas can be specific (trade for such-and-such, etc.) or more conceptual (improve moving runners into scoring position) but let’s hear your thoughts!
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Organizational Recap: A Wake Up Call

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Cardinals 7 @ Cubs 2 (Box Score)

  • A WAKEUP CALL – I made a bet recently with a Cardinals fan that I quote “met” on Twitter during the NLDS that year. He took offense to something I tweeted and we bantered back and forth a little and have maintained correspondence via direct message for a few months. I bet him that the Cubs would win the division by 15+ games or that I would change my Twitter profile to Cardinals stuff for a month. Honestly, I felt that confident that it was a no brainer bet. You know what? I still do. Yes, it was a wakeup call to get swept by the Cards this week…at home, but the fact is that this Cubs team is still a better team. If anything, this just serves as a reminder that we can’t beat everyone every day. Teams are capable of slumping and streaking, which means when we get to October, we have to be ready. Simple as that.
  • WILLSON…YOU’RE UP? – That was my immediate thought when Miguel Montero was in pain in the 6th inning after an awkward attempt at a ball. I envisioned him to the DL and Willson Contreras getting his full time shot. After the game, Joe Maddon said that Montero was fine and should be in line for his regular schedule for catching. As it stands now, that should mean Montero catching two, Contreras catching two, and Ross catching one as we travel through the rotation. I’m OK with that. It gives Contreras, who hit a HR in Montero’s absence, a chance to show what he can do instead of rot on the bench.
  • DOWN GOES RIZZOAnthony Rizzo had his back tighten up on him and had to exit early. It’s funny how nervous I get when one of the guys comes out. You worry that the whole thing is going to start unraveling on us. Instead, I’ve tried hard to focus on the positive, in this case being that Rizzo is fine and that he’ll probably have the day off today against a lefty. He’s had a couple times where that back has tightened up, so the rest is always a good thing.

STARTING PITCHERS

AAA – Jake Buchanan: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 7 K

SS – Pedro Silverio: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 2 K

TOP HITTERS

AAA – Jeimer Candelario (3B): 2 for 4, 2B

SS – Tyler Payne (C): 3 for 4, R

HIGHLIGHTS

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Organizational Recap: Roster Moves

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Cardinals 4 @ Cubs 3 (Box Score)

Clayton Richard has been placed on the 15 day DL (hopefully it turns into the 60 day DL) due to a blister on his finger. To be honest, he’s been a blister on this team’s performance all year long, so it’s good he’s finally on the DL. I would guess this is a way for the Cubs to send him to Iowa for a few rehab outings before deciding what to do with him. He’s not able to just be optioned to Iowa, so sometimes you have to be creative.

Adam Warren was optioned to Iowa (AAA) as well. Warren hasn’t been outstanding, but he’s not been horrible this year so far. He’s definitely the lesser of the two pieces that have come to Chicago as a result of trading Starlin Castro, but I could easily see him making an impact some point in the future this season as a swing man, especially down the stretch when we need to rest guys and set up the rotation for the playoffs. Going to Iowa should allow him to get some extended innings under his belt before being called up again.

In their place, the Cubs have recalled Spencer Patton and Gerardo Concepcion from Iowa. We saw Patton very briefly earlier this year, but both him and Concepcion have thrown the ball well out of the pen. Patton is a high strikeout guy, averaging 14.5 K/9 so far this year with the I-Cubs and has averaged 12.4 K/9 in his minor league career. Concepcion doesn’t miss as many bats, but still averages close to 9 K’s/9 and provides the Cubs with another lefty option not named Richard to pair with Travis Wood.

I’m excited about these moves. They’ve been two guys I’ve wanted to see come up all year and were guys I mentioned in a post just a few weeks ago.

  • MAYBE IT’S BETTER THIS WAY – Yes it sucks to lose to the Cardinals and it sucks even worse to have it happen two games in a row, both by one run, but maybe it’s better. Maybe it reminds the Cubs that they are not infallible. They can lose to good teams. They can lose to average teams (Cardinals) and they can lose to bad teams. Anyone can beat anyone in a short series, which is why it’s going to be so important to remember that come October for round 1. Maybe this is a good learning time.
  • PEEING IN THE SHOWER – I don’t have a third note from yesterday. I elected to take a day off from watching the game to finish the last two parts of the ESPN OJ documentary. If you haven’t seen it, it’s well worth the watch. So, instead of a third note from the game, I would ask you a question. I was listening to a podcast recently from ESPN 1000 and they were talking about a survey that was done saying that most people pee in the shower on a regular basis. I thought to myself that there was no way that was true, however after consulting with several people, they all confirmed they did it. What am I missing here? It’s time to fess up in the comments section. Do you pee in the shower on a regular basis? Is it any shower you do it in, or are there certain circumstances? I’m baffled by this.

STARTING PITCHERS

AAA – Rained Out

AA – No Game

A-Adv – No Game

A – No Game

SS – Jesus Castillo – 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K

TOP HITTERS

SS – Matt Rose (3B) – 1 for 4, 2B

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Cubs Add Two Fresh Faces to the Bullpen

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

The Cubs have made a series of roster moves this afternoon in preparation for tonight’s game.

Clayton Richard has been placed on the 15 day DL (hopefully it turns into the 60 day DL) due to a blister on his finger. To be honest, he’s been a blister on this team’s performance all year long, so it’s good he’s finally on the DL. I would guess this is a way for the Cubs to send him to Iowa for a few rehab outings before deciding what to do with him. He’s not able to just be optioned to Iowa, so sometimes you have to be creative.

Adam Warren was optioned to Iowa (AAA) as well. Warren hasn’t been outstanding, but he’s not been horrible this year so far. He’s definitely the lesser of the two pieces that have come to Chicago as a result of trading Starlin Castro, but I could easily see him making an impact some point in the future this season as a swing man, especially down the stretch when we need to rest guys and set up the rotation for the playoffs. Going to Iowa should allow him to get some extended innings under his belt before being called up again.

In their place, the Cubs have recalled Spencer Patton and Gerardo Concepcion from Iowa. We saw Patton very briefly earlier this year, but both him and Concepcion have thrown the ball well out of the pen. Patton is a high strikeout guy, averaging 14.5 K/9 so far this year with the I-Cubs and has averaged 12.4 K/9 in his minor league career. Concepcion doesn’t miss as many bats, but still averages close to 9 K’s/9 and provides the Cubs with another lefty option not named Richard to pair with Travis Wood.

I’m excited about these moves. They’ve been two guys I’ve wanted to see come up all year and were guys I mentioned in a post just a few weeks ago.

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Organizational Recap: To Curb Aggressiveness Or Not?

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Cardinals 3 @ Cubs 2 (Box Score)

  • FOWLER DOWN / EDWARDS UP: Before the game, the Cubs placed Dexter Fowler on the 15 day DL retroactive to June 19th and recalled Carl Edwards Jr. He’s a tilted cap kind of guy, a la Pedro Strop, so that should make all the older Cub fans excited. The move brings the bullpen back up to eight, because we all know you gotta have a bloated bullpen (sigh). Word is that Fowler’s injury is not expected to be one that needs the full 15 days to heal, so he should be able to get some rehab games in before the DL stint is up to remain sharp and be ready to go when his date hits to be activated. As for Edwards, I would hope he can get a shot to at least show what he can do. He’s been on the top prospect list for the last couple years and he’s basically ready at this point.
  • THE PLAY WE ALL WANT TO TALK ABOUT – If you watched the game, particularly the 9th inning, you know exactly what play I am referring to. With the Cubs down 3-2 in the 9th and runners on 1st and 2nd, this happened. I saw a lot of people blaming Albert Almora asking why he was so aggressive with the tying run in scoring position already. My feelings on it are simple. He thought the ball got away. If it gets away, he’s safe but for a freak bounce off the left leg of the home plate umpire that causes the ball to bounce right to Yadier Molina. He went on instinct and it got trumped by chance. My issue on the play is with Chris Coghlan not taking 2nd. There is no way Molina is going to come up throwing to 2nd base in that quick decision moment. Coghlan, even if he took off a split second after Almora, could have made 2nd and been in position to score had Ben Zorbrist still hit the single on the next play. In the end, our lead is still so great in the division that it probably doesn’t matter, but you don’t want to leave wins on the table.
  • ARE YOU FALLING IN LOVE? – I keep thinking of Lizzie when I watch Willson Contreras. She seems to have a thing for top prospect Cubs catchers. I’m not sure how she feels emotionally toward Contreras or if she even has anything left to give after giving her heart almost entirely to Geovany Soto, but I’m sure Contreras is generating fans at a nice clip so far. After hitting a home run in a pinch hit 1st MLB at bat on Sunday night, Contreras got the start and drove in a run. So far so good for another top guy coming up and making a difference.

STARTING PITCHERS

  • AAA – Rob Zastryzny – 6 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
  • AA – No Game
  • A-Adv – No Game
  • A – No Game
  • SS – Manuel Rondon – 5 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K

TOP HITTERS

  • AAA – John Andreoli (CF) – 2 for 3, BB, 2 2B, 2 R
  • SS – Tyler Payne (C) – 2 for 4, 2B, 3B

HIGHLIGHTS

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Organizational Recap: Uncharted Waters

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Pirates 5 @ Cubs 10 (Box Score)

Last night the Cubs completed the sweep, and the Cavaliers finally brought a championship back to Cleveland fans. After the game, I saw a lot of tweets that talked about how the Cubs have to be next. I hope that is the case because watching Cleveland fans celebrate was good, but not even a comparison to what it will be like watching fans celebrate a Cubs World Series. Let’s hope this is the year.

    • UNCHARTED WATERS – Before the game, ESPN gave a stat in their broadcast that this was the largest lead a Cubs team had ever had in a division or a league since 1929. Pardon if I am off on the year, but that’s insane. This team is good. This team is really good. It’s sort of scary how much better we are compared to the Cardinals and the Pirates, two teams considered to be the only threats in the division. I have no doubt that this Cubs team will win the division. Now it’s just a matter of how ugly it’s gonna get. With the Pirates and Cardinals both playing less than desirable baseball right now, it could foreseeably get as high as 20 games, couldn’t it?
    • WELCOME TO THE MAJORSWillson Contreras has been up now for a few games, but we had not seen him hit until last night. Needless to say, the young guy made the most of his chance and went deep to CF for a pinch hit HR. Dan Schulman nearly lost his mess making the call for a moment. Give it a look and a listen.
  • IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO GO NOW – We saw another lackluster performance from Clayton Richard again, and it’s time for him to go at this point. The experiment did not work and it continues to fall flat this year. Two more runs given up and his ERA is now at 7.50. I think you have to make the move to designate him for assignment, place him on waivers, and then either outright him to Iowa or cut ties altogether depending on what he wants to do with baseball moving forward. He’s not an asset to this team right now and I don’t feel one ounce of confidence when he is brought in, regardless of the size of the lead. There are other options in Iowa, one which intrigues me most being Spencer Patton.

STARTING PITCHERS

TOP HITTERS

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