Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Organizational Recap – Not in OUR House

Friday, July 29th, 2016

White Sox 1 @ Cubs 3 (Box Score)

Wow. I really didn’t think we’d win that game. When I peeked at my phone during dinner and saw it was 1 – 0 in the top of the first, and knowing we were facing Chris Sale…I thought “uh-oh, it’s going to be a long night.”

The Cubs responded immediately, however, and it ended up being a very good baseball game and the good guys won!

So, I can’t speak to the play by play – other than the last inning and a half which I was able to see on my phone in the hotel room, thanks to the MLB At Bat app. I now know that John Lackey out pitched Sale, even though Sale pitched well. Nice to see Lackey get his elusive first win since June 8. (I think that’s when it was) I know that the bullpen was terrific with the new short game trio of Strop – Rondon – Chapman.  I saw Baez walk in the 8th – always a good thing – but a great at bat and he didn’t swing at anything out of the zone. Obviously, he’s reading this blog.

All in all? A split, if you will, of the 4 game series with the other Chicago baseball team, and I’m rejoicing because I didn’t see that coming after the first two!

Elsewhere – the Giants are really struggling. The Mets are struggling (again) and were in some “un-Familia” territory again when their closer blew his second game in two nights. Bummer. Team MO Birds however, seems to be on quite a roll, and it’s important that we maintain the division lead. I believe that if we can keep the distance – let them make their run and fail – that they’ll fall back between now and the end of the season and have to battle for a wild card spot.

I have a hunch that the Cubs have another deal in the works. (Note from Joe: “I do too”)

Soler and Coghlan are almost ready to return – when they are ready, what would YOU do? They come back and two have to go – only two have options: Contreras and Edwards, both of whom I’d like to see stay, if possible. Szczur is out of options so either he or LaStella we’d likely lose if we designate. Personally? I’d tell Coghlan thanks, but no thanks and see ya. That leaves only one “dilemma” and I think I’d send Edwards down – even though he doesn’t deserve it, but it is the right business decision under the circumstances. It keeps everyone intact…for the time being.

Looking forward to that cup of coffee. It going to taste great…and it was on Sale.


PERFORMANCES OF NOTE

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Root for the Team, Not the Player

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Earlier this week, the Cubs traded for Aroldis Chapman. Since Chapman came into the league, he has been arguably the best closer in the game. Purely from a baseball perspective, I liked the deal. I know many thought that Torres being included in the deal made the price too steep. Then add McKinney, Warren, and Crawford and several people say the Cubs overpaid. I disagree. Most people were upset about Torres headlining the deal, but in reality, he probably would’ve never played an inning for the Cubs anyway. Plus, Chapman on the Cubs means Chapman isn’t on the Cardinals, Nationals, Giants, etc… The holdup for me was on the moral side of things.

When the Cubs signed John Lackey, I wasn’t in love with the move because I always thought John Lackey was a piece of crap. After watching him closer this year, there is no doubt in my mind that John Lackey is a piece of crap. When Lackey trots out to pitch, I always have to tell myself that I’m not rooting for Lackey, I am rooting for the Cubs. I realize the things Lackey has done is not anywhere near as bad as what Chapman did. And make no mistake, I believe that he would’ve been found guilty if the charges were not dropped. In the things I’ve seen and heard since the trade, the Cubs front office and Chapman himself have all said that Chapman is a changed man. One reason that I felt a little better about the trade was that when Chapman addressed the domestic abuse charge, he admitted that he was in the wrong, admitted he handled the situation poorly, and showed remorse. Now, in no way am I saying that makes what he did okay. I am just trying to take a positive away from an otherwise very negative situation. Before the Cubs traded for Chapman, I didn’t really want him because then I would put myself in this moral dilemma. How can I possibly root for someone who abused their significant other? The answer is: I can’t. To me, domestic violence is one of the worst things that has become popular in our society today. It seems like more and more, athletes feel as though it is okay do physically harm their significant other. Obviously, it is not. But all of you know that. The big point I am trying to make here is: You don’t have to like Aroldis Chapman, you don’t have to cheer for Aroldis Chapman, but don’t be mad at the Cubs, or Theo Epstein or Joe Maddon for going out and getting a guy who will help this team win a World Series in 2016. You don’t have to root for Chapman. I won’t. But, if Chapman is in the game in the 9th inning of a World Series game, by all means I want him to be successful. That is the great thing about baseball. It’s not an individual sport. You don’t just have to root for Chapman, but the acquisition of Chapman shouldn’t stop you from rooting for the Cubs.

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Organizational Recap – Chapman May Never Pitch for the Cubs

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

Cubs 0 @ White Sox 3 (Box Score)

At this rate, Chapman might never pitch for the Cubs

Because you have to have a lead to use a closer. And to have a lead? You have to score runs, and that requires good at-bats, patience, skill, smarts and a whole bunch of other stuff that this team has suddenly lost. My mother used to say “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I never listened to her then so there’s no point in starting now. Here goes:

  • Heyward is terrible. TERRIBLE. If he MUST play? Bat him 9th. Seriously. I’d rather see our pitchers hit. This guy isn’t worth the money he’s being paid. When Soler comes back? If he hits AT ALL? Maddon needs to bench this guy and let him be a late inning defensive replacement. If the goal is really to WIN – he’s not the guy I want at bat…ever.
  • THEY (meaning pitchers everywhere) have figured Bryant out. It’s now on HIM to change his approach and his game so that he can continue to excel in this sport. At bats like we’ve seen the last couple of weeks won’t cut it. Play him in one position – quit jacking him around – and let him focus on hitting. He looked absolutely pathetic, and lost, against James Shields.
  • Baez – who had looked like he was snapping out of it…became Javy Baez again and was awful at the plate.
  • Zobrist – should not be hitting 4th. He’s been just terrible lately. Drop him down in the order – or bat him second where at least taking pitches helps the next guy (and the next guy, Rizzo, is almost the only guy on the team hitting the ball.)
  • Why is Montero playing? He isn’t a good catcher. Even Sutcliffe mentioned that tonight (indirectly – but he said it) I can’t think of a reason. He doesn’t hit his weight and unless the pitchers are just rebelling against pitching to Contreras for some reason (which I haven’t heard) I can’t imagine why this guy is on the field.
  • Hendricks was pretty good again – in fact, he should and could have won that game…but only if his team hits the ball. In the last two nights, they’ve hit negative .290 with RISP and let 459 runners on base. I might be exaggerating. I didn’t look up the real numbers because I have no desire to even see the stupid box score…but it was a LOT of wasted opportunities, two nights in a row, with runners on and guys just flat not getting it done.
  • After two Montgomery outings? I want Vogelbach back. Just sayin’

Look, I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade. I mean, parades are great and all – but this team is not going to win the world series. Aroldis Chapman doesn’t “put them over the top” because they still have too many Cub-isms (i.e. deficiencies) to win a series against a REAL good team when it matters. They’re great when they’re loose. No rings are won in the first month or so of the season, and you saw how they played when they were loose and it didn’t really matter. As the season goes on, and the games matter more, and the media starts to press down on them and add weight to the wait…well, you are seeing what’s happening now – it’s only going to get worse as this season wears on. I for one, don’t like where it appears to be headed. Other teams are getting better. The Cards are only 6.5 back and our schedule isn’t easy. I’m not saying they CAN’T – I’m saying that unless some changes are made, they WON’T. This offense needs to make adjustments. The manager needs to start taking this season very seriously – obviously the front office is – and he needs to get this team in gear, no matter what it takes. If that means benching a big money guy – do it. If that means changing the strategy? DO IT.

Am I the only one who wonders why in the world they don’t put runners in motion when Heyward is up? At least TRY to get something going?

And, for the record, I, too, thought it was a bad call to lift Rizzo for a pinch runner. Not because of the situation at the moment, but the potential for the game to go two more innings and losing his bat was almost like saying “if we don’t score here? We give up.”

I know what you’re saying. “But Sherm, we’re a 100 games in and have the best record in baseball and a 6.5 game lead.” And my response is “Yep. That’s all true. And it gets us NOTHING. Last man standing – in this case, team – is the only one who matters.” So in return, I’ll ask you – in your true heart of hearts, as baseball fans and pundits – do YOU really think this team is going to win the World Series? And if you do – please explain to me how.



PERFORMANCES OF NOTE

  • AAA – Juan Perez (2B) – 2 for 4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI
  • AAA – Gerardo Concepcion (MR) – 2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 2 K
  • AA – Chesney Young (3B) – 4 for 5, R, RBI
  • A-Adv – Donnie Dewees (CF) – 2 for 4, BB (First game since promotion)
  • A-Adv – Charcer Burks (LF) – 2 for 5, HR, 3 RBI
  • SS – Erling Moreno (SP) – 5 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K
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Free Agency

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Picking up where we left off last week, today’s Quickie will discuss the rules for free agency in the major leagues.

Readers of this space will recall that the reserve clause era ended at the conclusion of the 1975 baseball season. But that did not result in unrestricted free agency where a player could immediately go seek the highest pay he could find at the end of his contract year. Instead, the owners negotiated with the player’s union for new rules that would strike a balance between the owner’s desire for control versus a player’s right to sell his services at the highest price the market will bear.

The owner’s control begins with the amateur draft. When a player is drafted in the amateur draft, his team gains control for 3 years. He can be sent anywhere in the organization without restriction for three years.

If, at the end of three years, he is not on the 40 man major league roster, then he can be drafted by another team in the Rule 5 draft.  There is a cost to the team that drafts him. Namely, the player must remain on the drafting team’s 25 man roster for the entire season following the draft or he must be returned to the team from whence he was drafted.

If, on the other hand, he is on the 40 man major league roster, then he will begin to earn major league service time toward free agency. (Note that it is possible to earn free agency through minor league service time too, but I will not address minor league service time rules here.)  Once a player is placed on the 40 man major league roster, he may not be removed from that roster without his consent. Still, for the next three seasons, he continues to be controlled by his team. For the next three seasons, he can be optioned to the minors without restriction and his contract will be renewed automatically each year with his existing team.

After 3 years on the 40 man major league roster, a player qualifies for salary arbitration.  After six years of major league service time, a player qualifies for free agency. (Fans of Kris Bryant know that he was held back in the minors for a short period at the beginning of the 2015 season for the apparent purpose of forestalling Kris’ eligibility for arbitration and, ultimately, free agency. That could pay off big for the Cubs, though it is more likely that Bryant’s grievance over this will be settled and rolled into a negotiated multi-year contract before Kris qualifies for free agency.) There usually is a catch for the team signing a free agent. That is that the former team will qualify for a draft pick in the next Rule 5 draft, assuming it had offered salary arbitration to the player before he signed with his new team. That Rule 5 draft pick comes from the team that signs the  free agent. For example, the Cubs gave up a draft pick as compensation to the Cardinals for signing Jason Heyward last winter.

There are other perks that ball players earn through service time. The most important is the so-called 10/5 benefit. When a player has ten years of major league service and five years with his current team, then he earns the right to reject any trade involving him. Cubs fans saw an example of that with Ryan Dempster a few years ago when he would not approve a trade that would have sent him to the Braves. He had earned that right through accumulating the required service time under the deal the owners had negotiated with the players.

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Organizational Recap: Bring on Chapman

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Cubs 4 @ White Sox 5 (Box Score)

THE CHAPMAN TRADE – Yesterday I mentioned that because I didn’t know the details of the trade, I couldn’t give my opinion on if I liked it or not. Now we know that it was Aroldis Chapman going to the Cubs for Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, Adam Warren, and Rashad Crawford. I saw a lot of buzz on Twitter yesterday when the news came out that it was a 4 for 1 deal that the Cubs overpaid, but let’s break it down for a minute.

Torres is a 19 year old shortstop with a huge ceiling. He ranks #24 in the pre-season MLB top prospects list by MLB Pipeline and has been considered the # 1 guy in the Cubs system many experts. In other words, he’s got a lot of potentialHowever, the fact remains that he’s 19, plays shortstop, where the Cubs already have two very talented people capable of manning that spot, and is probably 2-3 years away from the majors at best. As much as Cubs fans complain, this was someone the Cubs could afford to part with.

When you look at the rest of the guys, what are you frustrated with losing? McKinney? Since having knee surgery, he’s not been the same player this season and is probably a 4th outfielder on a Major League roster at best. It’s like losing someone like Matt Szczur. It’s depth. Warren came from the Yankees anyway, and while he may have figured into the plans as a potential member of the rotation in the future, he wasn’t producing this year. Crawford is a throw in. Essentially this trade is Torres and some scrubs for Chapman. It’s in no way a “blockbuster”, but it helps this team get better this year, which is the goal. The goal this year is to win the World Series. That’s what Theo and Jed are trying to accomplish and I’m all for it.

The other issue of the domestic violence has been a sticking point for a lot of people and they feel like it’s horrible to root for someone who has this in their history. My feelings on that are this, and pardon the religious aspects. People sin. They sin every day. I do, and you do. We all do. I don’t know the exact details of what went down that day, but the fact of the matter is that it happened, Chapman has asked for forgiveness and served his suspension. His girlfriend has forgiven him and they are still together. It’s time to move on and play baseball. It’s the same way I feel about Ray Rice. Give the guy a tryout and let him try to play football again.

ARRIETA IS NOT BACK? – If you look just at the box score, you’ll come away thinking that Jake Arrieta had a bad outing, but the fact is, he really didn’t Yes, he gave up four earned runs, but he really was in command most of his start. Todd Frazier got him for a three run homer that made it look worse than it was. I wasn’t “happy” with the start, but I’m also not going to get up in arms and say things like “See, I told you that start post All Star break was a fluke.” or “Jake’s broken…it’s time to panic”. I never know if the Cubs fans on Twitter are serious when they post stuff like this, but I would imagine they are since Cub fans are a fickle bread. The fact is, I’m not worried about Jake. He’s going to be just fine.

DID JED KEEP OUR RECEIPT? – New acquisition, Mike Montgomery, got into his second game as a Cub and grabbed himself a loss in the bottom of the 10th. That’s two straight outings he’s come in and given up a run. I mentioned in the post where he came over that I was a little skeptical of the trade, but that losing what we lost to get him didn’t bother me. I didn’t trust Montgomery to be the savior from the left side in the pen, which adds to why I’m so excited that we went out and got Chapman. Montgomery can definitely be a useful piece in that pen, especially to spell someone like Travis Wood who has been giving it all he has, but he’s not going to be the shutdown guy, I don’t believe.

THE RIZZO SUBSTITUTION – Maddon has a weird way of doing things sometimes and you either love it or hate it. Most of the time, I like it, but last night I found it odd. In the 9th inning, with the go ahead run on 2nd base and two outs, Maddon pulled Anthony Rizzo off of 2nd for a pinch runner in Szczur. That leaves no true first baseman on the roster to take the field in the bottom half of the inning and potentially into extras. It didn’t make sense. Rizzo is a good baserunner and Szczur doesn’t bring that much more speed to the table to make it worth it to lose the defense and bat that Rizzo brings to the table. I didn’t like the move. We didn’t lose because of it, but it made no sense to me.



PERFORMANCES OF NOTE

  • AAA – Mark Zagunis (LF) – 2 for 3, 2 R
  • AAA – Jordan Pries (SP) – 6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
  • AAA – Felix Pena (MR) – 2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
  • A-Adv – Yasiel Balaguert (1B) – 3 for 4, 2B, 2 R, RBI
  • A – Eddy Martinez (RF) – 2 for 3, HR, 4 RBI

HIGHLIGHTS

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