The Range of Scales & Other Things
And we thought his range was limited! Sayonara, Bobby, and thanks for the memories.
Again yesterday the Iowa Cubs had a worthy replacement for recently departed fan favorite Bobby Scales in the person of Darwin Barney. Barney, braced for impact by the contraption adorning his injured knee, logged six more full-tilt innings and pronounced himself ready to return to Chicago. He leaves behind a sizzling team that’s now won seven straight. I suppose trappings await to offset the change in barometric pressure he’ll notice as he segues from one clubhouse to the other.
Not far behind him on the road to full recovery will be Marlon Byrd who walked, doubled, homered and made a terrific gap-plugging, running catch that should have resulted in a double play except the first baseman at the other end, Tyler Colvin, failed to catch an accurate relay. No matter, the I-Cubs still advanced to 2-0 when Colvin mans that post.
The Iowa lineup started Byrd, Barney, Colvin. Apparently one of the perks that traveled with the first two to Des Moines was the prerogative to wear their pant legs at their shoetops, pajama style. Colvin, here rehabbing a swing and a psyche instead of a body part, tucks his just beneath the kneecaps like all the Cub farmhands do. Is that how he sees himself or how he is seen?
Barney intrigues me. After reaching on a fielder’s choice in his first at-bat he was doubled off on Colvin’s liner to short despite that he wouldn’t have advanced past 2nd even had the ball landed safely. So where was he off to in such a hurry? In less than three full innings his uniform was clay-caked from multiple dives and slides and as he stood on 3rd awaiting deliverance home he looked down and realized that his blouse had come untucked, something he quickly corrected before trotting home with one of the 10 runs the I-Cubs put up in support of Casey Coleman. No one would accuse Barney of mailing in his rehab assignment, but not all of his instincts are as endearing as his obvious zest for ballplaying.
Speaking of Coleman, he was efficient if not dazzling throughout his seven inning stint. Of his 86 pitches 62 were strikes. He threw first-pitch strikes to 22 of the 28 hitters he faced. I am also glad to report that his only walk came in his last inning of work and that he turned in two fine defensive plays off the mound, once starting a slick 1-6-3 DP and later rounding out a 3-4-1 that caromed from the chest of Colvin to the gloves of first Barney, then the hustling pitcher.
The shortstop yesterday was Marwin Gonzalez, recently promoted from Tennessee where he was hitting .301. Besides looking fluid defensively he stroked three hits and may bear closer inspection.
Colvin could use more work at 1st. Besides the bobbled relay and the ball he ricocheted to Barney he also short-stretched a slightly elevated pivot throw from Barney that cost Coleman an inning-ending DP. I did see him make a fine running catch in the right field corner Friday night as an outfielder and his bat is warming in concert with the weather. His 32 hits have amounted to 65 total bases, 19 of them being more than mere singles.
The other name that bears mentioning here is Scott Maine. Each of his last two outings have lasted three innings and both of them merit adjectives like dominant and overpowering. Combined they have totaled but two hits allowed against 13 strikeouts. I mean, he may be no John Grabow, but – yeah…
Awesome stuff, Phil.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.
Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.
Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.
Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.
Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.