Attack of the Soler Powered Headlines
Well, he passes the eyeball test with flying colors. Entering the ballpark in the top of the first you know something new has been added to the home team as soon as you fix on the leggy right fielder. Clear from the mezzanine behind home plate you can’t help but notice that pair of long, thick Cuban stogies as he lopes under the game’s first out.
The lineup now has some real heart to it, what with serial sluggers hitting third, fourth and fifth.
Baez fanned meekly to end the 1st. Bryant reached on an error leading off the 2nd and swiped a base (two in effect since the surprised, belated throw ended up in the outfield and advanced Bryant to 3rd) while all attentions were on the new kid in town hitting behind him. Soler had to be anxious but he never swung before walking on a pitch that nearly beaned him. Next time up, though, he followed Bryant’s single with one of his own, guided right back up the middle on the first pitch he saw. Then later he would accept another base on balls when he passed on a close 3-2 pitch. He appears to have what used to be known as “a good eye” before it was euphemized into “command of the zone.”
By their third turns Baez must have been chomping to reclaim some spotlight. So he launched an OMG moonshot over and out of the playing premises into the leftfield parking lot. There was some wind behind the blast but still it was something to behold. Maybe a better barometer of his prodigious power was the double he swatted on Wednesday afternoon when he took an outside pitch off the base of the wall in center, sans breeze. The crack of the bat registered somewhere between a literally cracked bat and the thunderous boom of last night’s homer. It was kind of a brittle sound like the taking of a small bite; the peep of a popup. And it went off the base of the wall in dead center.
Suddenly the club that’s been trailing the PCL in hitting most of the summer looks the most dangerous on paper. Don’t forget that Mike (all or nothing at all) Olt has also been stirred into the mix. Last night he laced a bases-loaded, bases-clearing double and got to soak up some cheers from a nice-sized crowd for the first time in what must have felt like a mighty long time. And in another at-bat he bounced a, wait for it…single (gasp)! He also botched a play defensively at first base but that hardly matters.
It was a good night at the ballpark quite apart from all of those goings-on. The breeze felt refreshing and carried an almost narcotic aroma mixed from grilling sausage and popping popcorn. If you listened close you could hear the pwoosh of beer vendors popping open their merchandise. By the middle innings when the sun was calling it a day the field and sky looked through naked eyes the way they do through sunglasses at midday. It was one of those nights when I fell into trances between innings. Except when the t-shirt bazooka fired a round straight at me. I caught it, banded up like a cowboy’s bedroll. I figured it was probably something from a realtor or insurance agent; probably in a medium or a large so I didn’t even bother to unroll it until I got home. It was fun just to be one of the few among nearly 10,000 to actually win something for free! The fact that it turned out to be a genuine I-Cub t-shirt, size XXL, made it almost hard to fall asleep, even way past regular lights-out; even sporting that brand new pajama top. But I managed, with visions of back-to-back-to-back soaring in my head.
AL pitcher hits a home run for a 1-0 lead. There goes perspective
Here are the ERAs for the last five starting pitchers:
At what point does the manager note it's not the "other pitcher"?
And why does he start Montero in the middle of a downturn?
Some perspective (mostly for my own benefit): Dan Straily beat MadBum 2-1 today as the Reds took 2 of 3 in SF. Giants are 2-9 since the break and their lead over LA is down to 2.5 games. So, yeah...baseball. It'll drive ya nuts.
McNutt / Archer didn't work out well for us.
The floor is more valuable than the ceiling. It's the same reason we drafted Kris Bryant instead of Jon Gray.
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