Sol-Era Begins with a Whimper at HoHoKam Park
Making his professional debut after signing a reported nine-year $30M contract with the Cubs, Cuban defector Jorge Soler went 0-3 as the DH, and the AZL Mariners pushed across a run in the top of the 12th to edge the AZL Cubs 4-3 in Arizona League action tonight at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.
Soler hit a two-bouncer to the shortstop on a 2-1 pitch leading-off the bottom of the 2nd, a one-bouncer back to the pitcher on the first pitch he saw leading off the bottom of the 5th, and lined-out to the pitcher on a 3-2 pitch with no outs and a runner at 1st in the bottom of the 7th (the runner was doubled off 1st base for a DP) after taking a close 2-2 pitch just off the outside corner for ball three. Soler was removed for a PH in the bottom of the 9th. (He was pre-scheduled to get just three AB in the game and then be replaced).
There is (surprise) a mistake in tonight's "official" milb box score (see link above).
Cubs 2012 1st round Supplemental draft pick RHP Paul Blackburn (selected by the Cubs with 2012 Rule 4 Draft slot #56, the slot awarded to the Cubs when Article XX-B Type "B" FA Carlos Pena signed with TB last off-season) did indeed start the game for the AZL Cubs, but he pitched only one inning (20 pitches - 11 strikes), allowing one run on two hits (both doubles) and a walk. (The second double was a two-out RBI double that was actually a routine pop up that RF Yasiel Balaguert apparently lost in the twilight sky).
Then Cubs 2012 12th round pick RHP Justin Amlung (who is not presently listed in the box score) worked the 2nd & 3rd innings (22 pitches - 14 strikes), allowing a single and no runs, with one strikeout.
Cubs VP of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita was at the game tonight.
Apparently the Yankees had the choice of either Gleyber Torres or Eloy Jimenez in the Chapman deal, and they chose Torres.
Chapman shouldn't be reserved anymore on 40 man.
Interesting split on Heyward according to ESPN. As a CF, his slash line .292/.363/.375/.738. At RF: .212/.204/.300/.604. 21/72 as a CF, 58/273 as a RF.
He's also been better when batting 2nd, but he had a nice start in the 6 hole, but has slumped ever since. He was heating up before the All Star break, but is only hitting .108 in the 2nd half.
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.
I'm liking this rookie Nathan.
Richard DFA'd. Meh...
Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.