Cubs Commentary

It was fun while it lasted, a 4-game win streak and a run of 18-13 since May 30th had visions of Cubs' relevance dancing in my head. But then TheJedi receivedt the the quality and depth of prospects they hoped for from Billy Beane and that Cubs 2014 ballon deflated and whizzed off into the darkness. Don't get me wrong, it's not that they really had a chance of doing much in 2014, but it was fun watching winning baseball over the last month.

And sure, maybe Hendricks and Wada provide a close fascimile of the two dearly departed hurlers or Wood and Jackson will make their inevitable improvements and it's all a wash, but more likely, more trades will be made and the Cubs make another run at a top 5 pick. And it had to be a bit of a hit to the team morale when two of your better players get moved. But we all know what was expected this year, although Theo did mention seeing a "light at the end of tunnel", so hopefully 2014 marks the end of the asset gathering and 2015 marks the beginning of the time to try and win some games.

The Tennesee Smokies lost in the Southern League championship yesterday and the Mobile Bay Bears take the series 3-1. The upside for two members was a call-up to the Show to watch the other Cubs players over the last 10 days of the season. Congrats and here's your steak knives.

The Cubs win two of three over the weekend,and are going the wrong way in terms of earning a better draft pick. There's some blame for this that can fall on Q-Ball, who says he'll mostly play the veterans and try to win as much as he can, but I expect the latter from any manager or team, and considering the way the Cubs played most of the year, the former is probably a better environment for the Cubs to lose some games.

I watched about two innings of last night's game and I finally got to see a Bryan LaHair at-bat. You hate to read too much into these things, but he did seem to have a nice, compact swing and obviously he has some power in that bat. The Cubs certainly shouldn't be passing up on Pujols or Fielders for him, but he might deserve a tryout in left field during spring training with Tyler Colvin. Oh you say, we have Alfonso Soriano there for the next year, which I say, Soriano should be nothing more than the short side of a platoon. I presume as well, and it could be a faulty presumption, that LaHair doesn't have the arm for right that anyone would be willing to put out there. At worst, he certainly deserves a look at a bench spot.

Otherwise, news is light around Cubsville. Daytona won the Florida State League Championship by sweeping the St. Lucie Mets. It was their first championship since 2008. Tennessee swept their first round series and await tonight's winner between Birmingham (White Sox affiliate) and Mobile (DBacks affiliate).  It's Tennesee's third straight trip to the finals, losing the last two to Jacksonville (Marlins affiliate).

Baseball Prospectus and ESPN Insider take a look at what the Cubs could do in 2012. Goldstein talks about what no one with the Cubs or many fans want to hear. Rebuilding with the farm system is great and all, if there's quality there to rebuild with.

The Cubs have a strange minor league system. It's more deep than star-studded, with plenty of potential big leaguers but few who can actually help turn around a moribund franchise. The most likely player to help in 2012 is center fielder Brett Jackson, the club's 2009 first-round pick who hit .274 with 20 home runs in 23 stolen bases in 115 games split between Double- and Triple-A. He'll fight for a job next spring and likely have one by midseason, and although he's an outstanding athlete with above-average power and speed, his alarming strikeout rate (138 in 431 at-bats this year) prevents scouts from seeing him as a true impact player in the big leagues. (Kevin Goldstein)

Cubs venture into Dustyville tonight with Rodrigo Lopez getting the start.

Over the weekend, Tom Ricketts had the audacity to spend his own money on a guy he seems to believe is good at what he does. Someone whom the Detroit Tigers and possibly a few other organizations believed in as well. Some folks reacted as you might expect...with uninformed opinions.

Why is that stupid? Because that’s one of the prime positions that general managers want to fill. That’s not a position that a Fanboy Owner should be filling, and certainly not a Fanboy Owner who doesn’t seem to understand much beyond bison dogs and urinals.


So, now the situation in the Fanboy Owner’s search for Jim Hendry’s replacement is this: The new guy will have to take Fleita if he’s going to take the job.


Which means the situation is really this: The Fanboy Owner can forget about the top-shelf candidates he blathered on about hiring. Or maybe he already has. Maybe he was wrong or lying about that. Maybe he found out that what he’s offering is a joke as long as Clown Kenney remains his team president and no one else can get that title.

Rosenbloom seems to be actually using the term "Fanboy Owner" as a derogatory term, becaue we all know how much better it was with "Non-Fanboy Corporate Owner" in charge.

Gee, you get tied up for a full day and the comments explode and forget to put Matt Garza and James Shields in your fantasy starting lineup.

(kicks dirt)

Anyway, the Cubs have managed a 4-game winning streak, in close proximity to a 3-game winning streak (wth a 5-game losing streak in between) and it's about the most enraging thing that could happen besides Hendry sleeping through the trade deadlne. If Q-Ball goes on another second half run, Hendry and him are gonna be validated that it was just the injuries and the pieces are in place to be a good team. Not to mention screwing up their draft spot for next year.

(heavy sigh)

That being said, nice to see the Pirates falling back to Earth a little. Neat story and all, but the offense is bad (of course so is the Giants), but I don't really believe in their pitching talent much, unlike the aforementioned Giants. That being said, they're seemingly on their way back to respectability and can start considering diving back into free agency in the upcoming offseasons.

This is just me speculating on what the Cubs will do on Saturday when Ted Lilly returns to the rotation. The most likely option is still either Tom Gorzelanny or Carlos Silva with odds favoring Gorzelanny heading to the pen as Lilly just replaces another lefty. And then either James Russell or Jeff Samardzija going back to Iowa, although someone in the pen still has a week to get their ticket punched.

Lou did not commit to it being Gorzelanny or Silva as of yesterday, even if that's the most likely scenario:

``I didn't say that. I never said that. You all [media] can say what you want. All I said basically is that somebody's got to leave the rotation to go into the bullpen. That's all I said.''

"I chose Chicago as a free agent," Bradley said in the statement,
"because I wanted to be part of finally bringing a championship to Cubs
fans. I expected to have a great season and I am deeply disappointed by
my performance and the team's struggles. I played every game with
everything that I had and wanted to desperately win.

"My frustration and disappointment boiled over and I said and did
certain things that I regret," he said. "In hindsight, I wish that I
had handled certain things differently and I apologize for those things
that did not work out for the better.

"The air has been cleared," he said, "and we all want to move on and look forward to better days."

The union will not file a grievance and Milton will be paid for the rest of the year, but not rejoining the team.

To say the least, I'm not particularly motivated these days to write about the Cubs. The road trip disaster and the reality of the standings coupled with the anemic offense has pretty much put an end to the season. Never say never and all and Carlos Zambrano will be back this week, but I'm expecting nothing more than the same frustrating Cubs team the rest of the way. At 62-60, I figure 90 wins gets them in the picture and that means a 28-12 run over their last 40 and that still might not be enough for the wild card or the division. So as the season winds down, I'll probably be talking a lot about the new ownership and 2010 and the Chicago Bears. Live with it...

I did go to the game Saturday afternoon...happened to be the AngelFan Wife's birthday as well. I know how to treat the ladies. For her gift, I got her a washing machine...for Christmas I'm thinking a vacuum cleaner or a big screen TV.

Brief description of the day and photos after the jump...

Aramis Ramirez should be able to play Friday and the Pittsburgh Pirates are coming to town...and we're on day 10,256,753(est.) of the last apocalyptic asteroid hitting the Earth.

That's all I got...hey, you get what you pay for here at TCR.

Okay fine, more ranting, raving and rumbling after the jump...

So the Cubs left for this road trip on the winds of winning 7 of 8 and being a half-game up on the Cardinals. They come home losing 6 of 10 and dropping 3 back (3.5 games total). It leaves their road record a paltry eight games under .500 at 25-33. To rehash the trip in all its glory...

This is the time of the year when clever folks hand out arbitrary letter grades to evaluate the first half performance of the Cubs. I prefer the cliff notes versions....underperforming bats + injuries + shaky bullpen equals .500 team despite really good starting pitching. What do the Cubs need to do in the second half? HIt like there suppose to, stay healthy, don't blow games late(don't blow them early either) and the starters need to keep pitching well.

There's some expert baseball analysis in three sentences.

I know when it comes to the Cubs it's pretty much doom and gloom until they win the World Series and while that .500 record isn't what most of us expected, it's also like judging a movie after only watching the first half. Sure, sometimes you know within the first 20 minutes if it's worth sitting through the whole thing, but sometimes there's just enough there to make you want to stick around for the ending. For the Cubs in 2009, I want to see if they can redeem the first act with a big ending(let's call it "The Usual Suspects"), unlike the 2008 Cubs which were great until the final act and ruined everything with that abomination of an ending(kind of like "Heat"). So if I were to hand out letter grades, it would be an "I" for incomplete, because judging the season on the first half doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Look, I have no idea if they're going to put it together to get in the playoffs and if they happen to do that, how they'll fare in the playoffs this time. I know there is enough talent to put a run together and the team has pretty substantially underperformed their talent level. You can blame Lou, Hendry, luck, a goat, racism, Jason Marquis (oh that was last year), or my mother, but this team is in the thick of the race and I'll take that over seasons like 2006 or (gasp) 1997.

I can't begin to explain how much I hate the All-Star break and it's three days of nothing I care about.  That's even been stretched to four on occasion as they no longer mandatorily schedule a four-game set after the break. So we sit and twiddle our thumbs waiting for something exciting to happen as the Cubs plan how to make up either 3.5 games on the Cardinals or 5 games on the wild card in the last 76. Some stuff to discuss and think about it or ignore after the jump...

The Cubs struggles offensively are obviously no secret and it's been a team wide affliction that I don't even think a roll in the hay with Amy Winehouse could fix. I took a quick look at their OPS numbers since May 1st:

The rest of the world might have been on holidays the last few weeks, but general managar Jim Hendry was busy shuffling the deck chairs on the Cubbie Titanic. Things happened at a rather fast and furious pace last week, so let's revisit with a more in-depth look. What you may have missed while in your drunken egg nog stupor...

Cubs Sign Gathright

Granted, this was before the holiday break, but it's not like I can let a Cubs move go without commenting. Gathright, as we all know by now, can jump over a car and he can also jump over a pitcher if needed. He'll also take a swing at Julian Taveraz which certainly warrants a +1 if this was Deadspin. We also know that Gathright grades at 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale for speed, one of those five tools that Corey Patterson supposedly possessed. A shame that scouting scale hasn't been revamped to include a sixth tool for "baseball IQ" or "can't layoff a breaking pitch".

Back to Gathright, we know he's fast, we know he can jump a car or player, but what he can't do is play baseball very well.  He's a track star wearing a baseball uniform. The speed is fun and all when you're getting a .365 BABIP like he did in 2007, but when lady luck isn't on his side, he's a .265 hitter with a slugging percentage below his on-base percentage. When Ryan Theriot says you hit like a girl, you've got problems.

And as for his 80-grade speed, you'd think a guy so damn fast could steal at better than a 75% clip. While passable by the laws of baseball sabermetrics, when your only real benefit on the field is your wheels, he should be much closer to the 80% or higher range like Dave or Brian Roberts. Of course, speed also is beneficial in the field, but Gathright rates as below average by BP's fielding metric over his career

I still contend that on a one year, $800K deal, he was brought in as no more than a backup plan and motivation for Felix Pie this spring training. I don't think that contract will keep the Cubs from cutting him if Pie can put together a nice spring training. If he does stick, we just hope Piniella uses him appropriately, which would be not much at all.

You just can't put too much stock into any of the games the Cubs play this week, even if they're against potential playoff opponents playing for everything as the Cubs play for nothing. But if you consider them the practice tests before the Cubs have to take the ACT's next week, I think a few members of the Cubs need to do a cram session this weekend.

- Ronny Cedeno continued to impress with his baseball instincts yesterday. He attempted a sac bunt and failed miserably and then was slow to get to first on a sacrifice bunt attempt to first by Jose Reyes. In isolation these events wouldn't mean much, but the pattern has been there for as long as he's been with the Cubbies. I can't wait until the game is on the line in the playoffs and it's up to Cedeno to come through. Sadly, the Cubs have little choice but to put him on the playoff roster. He's the only backup shortstop on the team (no Mark DeRosa does not count) and the Cubs can't risk Ryan Theriot getting hurt early in the series and not having a viable defensive option to play there. And even if you thought DeRosa counted, he's now nursing a left calf strain that you probably don't want him testing at an unfamiliar defensive position as demanding as shortstop.

- The bottom of the 8th inning sure was a weird one last night. I can excuse Samardzija for giving up hits to Carlos Delgada and Carlos Beltran, they're good hitters and well that's just gonna happen from time to time. All pitchers get themselves into trouble, it's their ability to get out of it that sets them apart from the pack.  And Samardzija executed wonderfully on Ryan Church for the strikeout and then got the clog-footed Ramon Castro to ground out. And this is where things got weird.

Lou decided to intentionally walk Endy Chavez for some reason. Now I understand wanting to face the right-handed hitter, but it's Endy Chavez. A career .270 hitter that's hitting .280 against righties this year. On top of that, Samardzija has actually done better versus lefties this year - .170 BA vs .268 BA for right-handed hitters in nearly the same amount of plate appearances. And the true crime of the intentional walk was that it completely cut-off Samardzija's escape route. He was now forced to throw strikes to Ramon Martinez, something that he's been struggling with over the last month.

I'd like to believe that Lou was just testing Samardzija to see if he can throw strikes and get an out when absolutely needed. In which case, Samardzija failed worse than I did on my high school trigonometry exams. But it's more likely that Lou thought he was playing the percentages when he really wasn't. Samardzija still should be able to get that out there, but it certainly wasn't putting your players in the best position to win.

- On the flip side, the Mets are terrible. The Cubs tried to give them a gift and even tore off half the wrapping paper and the Mets still couldn't guess what was inside. Three times the Mets got a runner on third with NOBODY out and could only score run out of it. And that one run was thanks to the previously mentioned poor managing/poor execution by the Cubs.

Pages

X
  • Sign in with Twitter