Obligatory Thread Overflow Post
Blah, blah, blah...I've been swamped and despite the recent not terrible baseball being played, the Cubs don't give me enough reasons to make sure I watch a game.
So I have little to offer today other than a quick recap of Baseball America's recent chat about their midseason Top 50 list which includes one Cub at #25 - Javier Baez (and one former Cub in Hak-Ju Lee at #47).
First Cub-related question was in regards to signing 2nd round pick Duane Underwood, which already happened to the tune of $1.05M. The Cubs can now pay Albert Amora up to $3,922,895 without forfeiting a draft pick and Boras will certainly demand every last dollar of that for his client. 25th rounder Rhett Wiseman is also still out there unsigned, but it's almost a sure thing he's going to Vanderbilt.
Re: Josh Vitters missing the list
Jim Callis: As someone who does our Cubs Top 30 for the Prospect Handbook every year, I talk to people incessantly about Vitters. He has made some progress, but his ceiling is solid regular and the guys on this list have higher ceilings than that. I'm also not sold Vitters could be an everyday third baseman at the big league level. I think you'd want a better defender than that. So no, I can't tell you he even received consideration for the Top 50.
Re: Jorge Soler
Jim Callis: We didn't include this summer's draft and international signees on the list, in keeping with our past tradition (Although he does make it sound in other comments like Soler would have made it).
Re: Brett Jackson making it into the top 50 by the end of the year
J.J. Cooper: My best guess on the end of season rankings is no. Jackson never wowed scouts with any plus-plus tool, now he's got a significant wart in a strikeout rate that is baffling.
Re: Jackson, Szczur or Vitters being in the top 50
J.J. Cooper: Not that close, further away and not that close to making the list. Jackson's K-rate is a major concern for a guy who doesn't have a lot of 65s on his scouting report. Szczur is a solid prospect, but didn't really compare yet to the guys at the back end of the 50 and Vitters is having a much better season, but there still doesn't appear to be a whole lot of ceiling there.
J.J. Cooper: A whole lot to like, still has some growing up to do.
TEX takes the opening game from TOR (@TOR) 5-3.
TOR lost bautista + donaldson in-game due to injuries...TEX lost beltre...dunno if any will be lingering issues leading to missed games.
Ride the Kid Magic! Schwarber hadn't homered in a long time before last night.
Greg Maddux was 8-18 in his rookie season. Kyle has the 8 wins down pat.
Think Baby Maddux.
Prof. Harold Hill's THINK system at work.
Kyle is on the far left.
I support this. Hendricks has not only looked better lately but seems to start struggling after a few innings which is better than the 1st in the playoffs.
Just tweeted via Jesse Rogers: Hendricks starting Game 2. Wow. Just wow.
That was good!
Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.
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.