A River Ran Through It
I wandered down to the ballpark yesterday. Nothing better to do.
Two years ago at about this point of the season Iowa and Memphis hooked up with a division title and playoff spot on the line. Yesterday they took the field a combined 64 games below .500.
Standing out in the center field picnic concourse I gazed across the street at what remains of the Des Moines River after a severe drought. Kids were using the middle of it for a sandbox. Hard to believe this puddle flooded Sec Taylor Field more than once in recent years. Yesterday it struck me as the perfect metaphor for the 2012 Chicago/Iowa Cubs.
A decent crowd shuffled in on a comfortable day as the club again inches toward the 500,000 mark for season attendance in this the final home stand of the year. But nobody’s heart was in it. I could plainly hear a peanut vendor working the GA section in the left field corner. We could have had a conversation, no cell phones required. A group in that bank of otherwise empty seats clad in yellow t-shirts resembled the last kernels on a mostly eaten cob of corn.
Rizzo, Jackson and Vitters are gone, leaving behind a rotting carcass of I-Cubs. Not that the team was flying high with them on the roster, but it’s more interesting to watch a bunch of up-and-comers than a patchwork of refugees from the independent leagues, many of whom aren’t even on first name bases with one another. They come and they go. Only the uniforms remain the same.
In the bottom of the 1st with two aboard Greg Rohan got down a couple of quick strikes and started fouling off pitch after pitch. The PA blared a couple bars of “Stayin’ Alive” and then abruptly shut it off. Nobody gave a damn. Then, sudden as a siren in church, Rohan reached out and banged one the other way, a three-run homer that rattled off the metal bleachers to my left and beneath the right-field scoreboard. There was a ballgame going on.
I didn’t stay long, just long enough to be reminded of what I’ll be missing all winter, starting a week from today.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump
Grimm not doing himself any favors lately re: making the playoff squad. Seems to have lost the feel for his curveball.
j.grimm is literally worse than hitler.
felix pena, your turn.