The Tao of Q-Ball
You've probably read or heard about yesterday's dugout fracas between Carlos Slim and Aramis Ramirez after the first inning. The Cubs continued their defensive indifference that has plagued their early Cactus League games with 3 errors in the first inning - 5 total on the game (Yahtzee!) - and that led to a 6-run first inning. You try not to infer too much meaning in spring training results, but despite what Carlos said at the Cubs Convention about not having to compete for a spot in the rotation, the reality is that it's between him, Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner for two of the spots. And while his hefty contract may earn him the benefit of the doubt over Wells or Cashner, both of whom still have minor league options, you hope he will have to demonstrate some modicum of success in March. Thus he was somewhat justified in his anger if he felt his teammates let him down in the first. But like his namesake has hopefully learned by now, you can't act on it in the dugout in front of witnesses.
But I write today not to discuss the minor scuffle, but the reaction by the Cubs new field general. Q-Ball dismissed the incident as "boys will be boys". Fair enough and it being early March, the incident is probably going to be ignored or forgotten by the majority of Cubs fans, so wise to not make a big deal of it. Now my first thought was would this have happened under Ryne Sandberg? I do this only because I'm an unabashed Sandberg groupie and whether Q-Ball ends up being the right decision or not for the Cubs, damn straight I'd rather being rooting for old #23.
Of course there's no way of knowing, I don't think Sandberg has any magical powers to prevent Slim from shooting off his mouth and Aramis from reacting. But would have they hesitated for a second out of respect to an ex-major leaguer and Hall of Famer? Doubtful, but that doesn't stop me from wondering.
I also wonder how Sandberg would have handled the media afterwards. It's sort of the unappreciated skill of a manager. Dusty didn't know how to do it, the city hated him. Lou did and despite similar results to Dusty, certainly was more well-liked over his tenure. Joe Torre was a master at it and don't think that's not a big part of his New York city legend. Q-Ball by all accounts, seems to be doing it well, but I can't say I wasn't disappointed by the reaction yesterday. What I wanted to hear was, "Boys will be boys and I'll deal with it tomorrow. But instead of jawing at his teammates for making mistakes, Silva should worry about picking them up and not getting lit up like Charlie Sheen on a coke bender. He should also try switching to diet soda. I've been getting on Castro a bit for what I feel are mental lapses on the field, but don't think it doesn't apply to the veterans as well. I may be more public about it with the rookies because fans and media lap that shit up like a dog at a running water hose, but Ramirez needs to remember he doesn't have a contract for next year and took a 2-month siesta to start last season. Koyie should remember that $850K is a dime in a water fountain to a major league club."
Okay, I probably took that too far and sarcasm aside, that kind of honesty sure would be refreshing. I sure would have preferred something more along the lines of, "Silva should have worried more about the home runs he was giving up and this sloppy play from the veterans to kids is either going to improve or guys will find the bench, maybe not as immediately as fans want, but it will improve or I'll find guys that can do it"
But the recent talks with Castro and the brushing aside of veterans mess-ups was the same stunt that Q-Ball pulled last year. He got all over Castro in the media and did everything behind closed doors with the vets or not at all. In return, he got their support when it came time to find the full-time guy. It worked for him and the team and it's certainly nothing new out of the manager's handbooks. Hell, it's pretty much standard operating procedure. But if a breath of fresh air from Q-Ball is what you wanted, you should keep expecting a jet stream of the hot variety.
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.