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.
My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.
Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.
Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.
How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?
Call me lost.
Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.
I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:
Carl Crawford $20MM
Brandon McCarthy $17MM
Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
Darwin B $2.2MM
Dan Haren $10MM
Matt Kemp $18MM
Brian Wilson $10MM
Ryan Webb $2.2MM
Dee Gordon $2.5MM
So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.
And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):
i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.
there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.
I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.
O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already.
I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.
I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.
Enjoyable read on David Ross.
Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.
With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined).
BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.
If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).
As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).
I want my baseball team to win by playing better baseball. I don't want umps, fields, or fans to have anything to do with it.