Almora v. Buxton: Showdown at High Noon
Here’s a grab bag from recent days in the Iowa bush leagues:
*Junior Lake looks like a ballplayer but needs polish. He’s been getting on base a lot but his hits have included a swinging bunt here, a deflected ball there, a well-placed bloop, etc. With the glove his best game was in right field where he made multiple good plays. At 3B he’s made some diving and leaping stops but the arm’s erratic to the tune of five errors in less than a week. Still, he looks the part of a prospect.
*Took me a while to notice but The Cub Way no longer includes knickers in the farm system. Apparently the short pants look left town along with Oneri Fleita.
*Status quo with Brett Jackson. The other night his first three at-bats went as follows: solo homer, struck out swinging with the bases loaded, walk (stolen base). Also saw him throw a guy out on the fly tagging up at 2nd on a fly ball to medium depth CF.
*Took the day off today and roadtripped the hundred miles to Cedar Rapids to eyewitness the battle of AA vs. BB, last year’s #’6 and 2, respectively, overall draft picks. This round went decidedly to Byron Buxton who led the hometown/first-place Kernels to a 6-2 win over visiting Kane County. Not only did he single, double and triple at the plate, he also made an astounding Superman circus catch in the top of the 2nd; back-to-the-plate, full sprint, all-out dive robbery of extra bases as he skidded across the warning track to a stop against the wall. Proving he’s a nineteen year-old human in his first full season of pro ball, he was picked off first after his single.
Almora went 1-4, hustling a seeing eye single into a pants-ripping double when the Kernel infield left the bag at 2nd unprotected in pursuit of his bouncer up the middle. He also drove Buxton to the track in deep center on his hardest hit ball of the day but that running catch was ho-hum compared to the earlier highlight reeler. Almora was not tested defensively but I did notice how he positioned himself for a routine catch with a man at 2nd in such a way that he was perfectly aligned for the throw to 3rd.
Has it been mentioned previously how much Vogelbomb resembles Chris Farley? From my seat several rows behind the Cougar dugout it appeared that he, AA and Rock Shoulders are three amigos. Several times when Kane County was hitting and none of them was at the plate, on deck or in the hole, there they were; side-by-side on the top step with their elbows resting on the dugout railing. Almora was doing most of the talking. Far, er, Vogey laughed a lot.
The kid Amaya who plays 2B and bats leadoff ahead of Almora? Don’t know much about him but he made a sparkling play to snuff out a threat when the game was still scoreless and drew three walks, each of which included multiple foul balls. In his other AB the count went full before he lined out.
Pierce Johnson started for KC and looked good until Buxton busted the game open with his bases-clearing double in the 5th.
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.
The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.