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A Mighty Wind! Brewers 3 Cubs 2

The Cubs got a quick lead today against the Milwaukee Brewers when David Dejesus led off the game with a home run. But 1st inning doubles by Ryan Braun and Corey Hart quickly erased that lead, gave the Brewers a 2-1 lead. And despite a Brian LaHair home run, the Cubs never recovered, losing to the Brewers for the third straight game 3-2. It was also the third straight game they had double-digit strikeouts. It was the third straight game for a lot of things- most of them bad. So, let’s dive into it and try and come out clean for a third straight time.

 

CAN YOU SMELL THE WOOD BURN?

 

Travis Wood recovered from a shaky first inning to have a really nice outing. 7 IP, 6 hits, 3 earned runs while walking 1 and striking out 6. The only other run was when Ryan Braun hit a 6th inning home run. What was impressive was of the 99 pitches Travis threw, 69 were for strikes. You like to see a pitcher still attack the zone like that after a 1st inning in which he was hit hard. Jeff Russell and Shawn Camp held the 8th down.

 

 

LIFE OF BRIAN

 

Good for Brian LaHair, who hit his first homerun in 31 games. LaHair’s season has gone down hill for a good two months. And for some reason, a lot of people have been going into “I told you so” mode. And I find that kind of silly.  LaHair still continues to be a nice story. Getting his first chance to play at 29. No, he’s not part of the future, and even in the immediate future, he’s a spare player/bat off the bench type. That’s still good. Taking the long-term view and seeing the bigger picture means you get to enjoy the short term filter guilt free. And I for one still like to see LaHair do well.

 

IS EVERYTHING OKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK?

 

Thirty-seven strikeouts. Thirty-seven. Many of the “Oh my god why didn’t you hit that?” variety. Three straight games of double digit K’s. Is it fair to criticize James Rowson yet? The new hitting philosophy isn’t really coming into focus. You let some of the K’s pass. Brett Jackson saw a strike 3 today that was at his ankles. Nothing you can do. But this is more than rookies struggling with their approach. This is a team wide thing going on. Shouldn’t some of the blame go higher than the players?

 

Well, the Cubs have a day off tomorrow, and then will have a weekend series against the Rockies in a pivotal 2nd draft pick showdown. Hopefully, the team uses this series to correct some of the bad habits they got into in Milwaukee.  There were winnable games in this series and the team didn’t look interested in finding ways to win them. And while I view this season as one huge extended spring training, it’s ok to teach all these rookies, that it’s OK, even expected, that you get pissed off when you lose.

 

Enjoy the day off. We’ll see you here Friday afternoon.

 

Filed under: Uncategorized

Tags: #brewers, #K's, Cubs, Wood

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  • They can't win no more than 3 of their remaining 6 games with
    the Rockies to have a chance for the 2nd pick. The 2nd pick
    also will give them the 2nd pick in the Rule V draft. Sorry, but
    this all I have to look forward to.

  • Well said and I agree whole-heartily with you on LaHair.

    Yes, we K too much and walk too little. I'd like to see a few more bats snapped over their knees this year by positional players instead of Shark. This whole offensive struggles thing pre-dates Rowson by a couple of years. Not that he's done anything to rectify it yet.... Not sure what the solutions is.... but sure would be nice to see progress.

    Although, having two more series with the Rockies & Astros both may be just the confidence boost we need heading into the winter....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    The Cubs winning no more than 5 out 9 against those 2 teams
    would make my winter.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks Hoosier ( I don't know you well enough to call you daddy...)

    Glad someone agrees with me on LaHair. Somewhere between " He's just a AAAA player", ""He won't hit like this forever.", "Where's he gonna play when Rizzo comes up?" ""can we trade him for a prospect?" and "See, I told you he wasn't any good" people forgot to actually cheer for the guy.

    I think we get healthy against the Rockies. Take it from there...

  • In reply to felzz:

    Hey Felzz, thanks for another put-it-all-in-perspective recap and summary. The K's do bother, but I don't think Rowson has had anything close to enough time to deal with every young hitter's shortcomings. So I can't see pointing a finger at him (which you didn't, but others will.)

    p.s. I liked the folk-music lampoon A Mighty Wind almost as much as Waiting for Guffman.

    Enjoy a day off.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    "Yes, we K too much and walk too little."

    Say "In (insert recent year here)" and insert the above statement immediately thereafter and you would be correct, sir.

  • OK. It's officially no fun watching "the kids" play anymore.

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    In reply to drben:

    Watch Boise -- those kids are fun to watch.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Agreed. And Kane County will be a blast starting next year.

  • In reply to drben:

    Some fans are enjoying watching the Cubs lose.

  • I understand the need for a high draft pick, but I can't stand watching them lose. Frustrating every time. The time for me to really think about the draft is after the season is over. Then you look back and say, "Well, at least there's that pick"

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Couldn't have put it better, John. Towards the end of this season, if a Cub loss somehow kept the freaking Cardinals out of the post-season, then maybe I could handle it better.

  • fb_avatar

    What you're saying here: keeping the Cardinals out of the playoffs is more important to you than acquiring a college pitcher with #1 potential. Is that really true?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Absolutely! No matter who the Cubs draft, the odds are long that he even makes the Majors, not to mention becomes a # 1 starting pitcher. Whereas if the Cardinals miss the post-season it would be a good start to my off-season of waiting for Cub news.

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    These are the pitchers drafted at #2 overall since 1998:

    Mark Mulder
    Josh Beckett
    Adam Johnson
    Mark Prior
    Justin Verlander
    Greg Reynolds
    Jameson Taillon*
    Danny Hultzen*

    *both are still in the minors, but EXTREMELY highly regarded.

    Of those pitchers, only Taillon and Beckett were high school kids. Point is, if you take a college pitcher that early in the draft, the odds of him being a top major league pitcher are pretty good.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Other than Verlander and Beckett, that list doesn't do much for me.

  • Yes it's the old "pivotal-series-for-the-2nd-overall-draft-pick" weekend. I have sweaty palms already!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to HefCA:

    How sweet would it be if a Tyler Colvin home run gave us the #2 draft pick?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Oh yes! People could say "that's exactly why Theo traded him!" It was all part of the overall plan. God, he is a genius...

  • If Lahair gets his mojo back, he could still figure into the Cubs short term plans in the outfield and as a left handed bat off the bench. Remember Rizzo struggled big time for awhile last year with the Padres.

  • I just looked up the stats for the azl cubs, i cant stop noticing that the cubs pitching prospects are doing fairly well, even though thier not front line starters, they are looking good. What are you thinking about the cubs drafted 2012 pitching picks?

  • LaHair isn't a bench player if they are not going to play the guy on a regular basis they should trade him for his sake and the team's

  • In reply to Cueil:

    I agree. He's done everything they've asked of him. He's a decent 1B, and below average OF. I suspect they will probably see if he can work through his current slump and get fair value for him...

  • Any time the Cubs want to take more than a 1 run lead and hold it for more than an inning is fine by me. What's perhaps more discouraging than the losses mounting up is the fact that these days when I watch them bat, I never get the sense that they'll string more than a couple of hits together and if someone runs into a HR, the pitcher will promptly give it up and more.

  • i agree LaHair is more than a bench-player. With the constant reminder that Rizzo would be taking his place, he did well. But for his sake I hope he's traded.

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    I'm not ready to dog on Rowson. Considering that plate discipline has been a plague of the Cubs for years, it's as refreshing as it is frustrating to see Cubs hitters taking called third strikes. However, my thoughts on plate discipline and grinding out at bats is two fold.

    Good pitchers throw strikes early and often. So a hitters approach has to be balanced. It's easy for opposing pitchers to throw strikes when they know your hitters are taking. This is where pitch recognition and overall baseball IQ become so vitally important.

    Being able to recognize what the pitcher is throwing on any given pitch and project whether or not it will be a hittable strike is something the young Cubs hitters are behind the bell curve right now, and some of them may never get to be really good at it.

    Baseball IQ is about understanding what the opposition is doing and making good adjustments. It's also about understanding the situation at any given moment within the game. The more easily you adjust the more likely you are to succeed.

    Players who can most easily make adjustments from ab to ab, sometimes even within an ab, end up in the HOF.

  • Caldwell, you're spot on. ( As usual). And I probably fell into the trap of putting too much blame on the hitting instructor. But the hitting instructor does become the symbol or the face of the organization's "hitting philosophy".

    I'm simply looking for progress. They don't have to be the Yankees. But a few more 8 pitch at bats. A couple more walks that were previously a 1-2 count. Something other then The pitcher got ahead, the Cub hitter gets defensive, the cub hitter starts guessing, the Cub hitter flails away or gets fooled for strike 3.

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    In reply to felzz:

    I'm with you here. I think Rowson is advocating change, which is good, but he doesn't seem to be having results, which isn't. I'm convinced that they plan to hire Dave Magadan the second they can, so we'll see if he has an impact on hitting next year.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    My Gosh, Rowson's been on the big club's hitting job for what, 5 or 6 weeks? Let's give him a chance to teach for a while at this level before anyone judges his effectiveness.

  • At least LaHair gave us a couple months of sky high OBP and all star caliber hitting.
    It sure doesn't look like BJ Vittles were ready for prime time, especially BJ. All that talk about his five tools, were they counting striking out as one of the tools? (I'm curious. What's the record for the most strikeouts by a position player in his first 50 at-bats?) I would think that BJ should have demonstrated that he could have quality at-bats in AAA before they'd promote him. If he can't grind out at-bats in Iowa, why would he be able to do so in the Show?
    As for Vittles, I'll stop misspelling his name when he jacks his OBP up over .120

  • fb_avatar

    BTW felzz, you forgot to mention the really good news. In the reverse standings, the Cubs are now 2.5 games ahead or Colorado for the second overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft. However, they're 8.5 games behind Houston for the number first overall pick. I don't see them over-taking Houston, but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect them to maintain and even increase their lead over Colorado.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Houston may not win another 5 games all season. That pick is an absolute 100% lock -- unless Bud takes it away for intentionally losing games.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    For all intents and purposes, I suppose it doesn't really matter. Houston passed on Appel once. They likely would again. At that point, the Cubs have a decision to make.

  • I was having a little tweet-a-tweet with Mr. Arguello during the draft this year concerning Mr. Appel. Once the kid from LSU went it was obvious the Cubs were going to have a chance to pick Appel. I didn't know they were so locked in on Almora. But I thought they should have picked Appel. But it seems the Cubs really weren't that interested and it wasn't based on signability. At least it didn't sound like it. So unless Appel has a season to end all seasons next year at Stanford, my guess is the Cubs don't pick him next year either. But Captain John probably has more to say on that than I do...

  • In reply to felzz:

    I think signability was a factor but the Cubs did consider Almora one of the top 3 players or so in the draft. I'd heard they liked Zunino a lot and Giolitio before the injury too.

    This year's draft is tougher, but if they have the 3rd pick and it comes down to Meadows or Appel, I won't be floored if they take Meadows. Another HS OF'er Frazier also rising rapidly after showcase events. I know some won't like it if that happens, but you have to take the best player available.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    My hope for the Cubs maintaining a lock on the number two overall pick is that it gives them one more choice. Indinana States Sean Manaea has dominated the Cape Cod League in a way few southpaws have in recent years. His stock has really skyrocketed. If he carries that domination through his junior season at Indiana State, he's going to be in the discussion. Stanek has been shaky this summer with Team USA, but if he rebounds in SEC play, he will also have to be talked about. Bobby Wahl is your high floor/low ceiling guy with a great metal makeup.

    The Cubs need still need pitching worse than they need anything else. That said, I understand passing on Appel. If wasn't going to sign with Houston for $6.25M, he wasn't going to sign with the Cubs for $3.9M, and there just wasn't a pitcher available at that spot who had a higher ceiling than Almora, but that won't be the case in 2013.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    BTW, I think Pittsburgh made a good play for the position they're in. When you look at the state of the Pirates system, especially in terms of impact pitching, and you realize that the difference in talent between what should've been available to them with the 8th overall pick and their next pick, 45th overall, wasn't really that great, I can see why they took a shot at Appel. If they've hurt themselves at all, it's only been marginally. The Cubs, on the other hand, couldn't afford to miss like that.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Bear in mind, the Pirates get the 9 pick next year since they didn't sign Appel -- which probably offers around as much value as the 8 pick (someone other than Appel) did this year. Given where they are in the rebuild, it was a no-brainer.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Exactly, the Cubs, because of the state of the system, simply weren't in a position to make a choice like that.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I do think Appel was a bit of an idiot here. If he'd signed the deal, he has a couple mil in the bank right now, with an *excellent* chance of being the #3 starter in a rotation that goes Cole-Tallion-Appel. Given how much he would have over-matched other #3 starter, he essentially could have asked for a blank check come free agent time. But, he decided he wanted a couple more mil up front. A very risky decision, because he's one blown elbow away from nothing.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I agree. There is no doubt that Boras was betting that someone would be willing to lose a draft pick over Appel. Even if Appel is injury free and dominant again for Stanford, he's hurt his bargaining position. His only alternative would be to play independent league ball for a year. He would then become a free agent after the 2014 draft, but at that point, how much money has Appel lost when you take everything into account and not just the initial signing bonus.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    To me there were 8 players at the top of the draft, so it was Appel or go to the second tier. Granted there have been some guys who have performed well (David Dahl, Courtney Hawkins) after that spot, but the consensus at the time was that those guys were a notch below. At that point, taking Appel made a lot of sense.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    I'm not sure on this. Epstein made it pretty clear that's disappointed with what he acquired in terms of pitching this season. I think, all else being equal, Epstein wants to contend sooner rather than later. They have to have more pitching for that -- and the chance to grab a college arm who is maybe two years away from the big leagues, and has a high ceiling and high floor is probably more attractive to Epstein, given where the Cubs are, than a spectacular high school outfielder, who might 5 years from the big leagues.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think once Gausman and Zimmer were gone the dye was cast for the Cubs. Other than Appel, that high floor/high ceiling college pitcher who could be a regular in the rotation in a year or two just wasn't there, and Appel wasn't really a choice. If the Cubs had a better system, maybe they feel like they can afford to swing and miss with Appel, but honestly, I think Pittsburgh was banking on him not signing. They were fairly confident that they could take a step forward at the Major League level in 2012, but they also realized their rebuilding wasn't complete. So they guaranteed themselves to pick no worse than 9th in 2013, and they'll have an expanded pool to boot.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    I'm talking next year's draft, not this year's. Theo absolutely loved Pedroi-- er, Almora, and so was going to grab him if he was there. I think he may have been the pick at #1.

    But, next year, with Almora and Soler tops in the system, Dunston, Martin, Shoulders, and the other Baez (Jeffrey) further back, and a ton of IF prospects who could play the outfield in a pinch, the #2/#3/#4 pick just screams "take the best college pitcher available."

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Mike Moody:

    "Epstein made it pretty clear that's disappointed with what he acquired in terms of pitching this season. I think, all else being equal, Epstein wants to contend sooner rather than later."

    Sorry, I thought you were saying the Epstein was disappointed with the pitching available to the Cubs in 2012.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Trying this again -- having wonky problems posting.

    I was referring to the interview a few days ago where Theo complained that he'd had problems turning short term assets into long term assets on the pitching side. Almost certainly referring to Dempster and Garza and the non-trades.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Agreed..I think he was talking more about the trade deadline disappointment.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    The Cubs will take who they believe the best available player is. There were many in the industry who thought the Cubs would have taken Almora #1 overall. I think that's an exaggeration, but I wouldn't underestimate how high they were on Almora.

    And the pitcher I heard them most connected was actually Kyle Zimmer, who's playing in Kane County already.

  • fb_avatar

    John, I think it's also possible there was more to the Cubs passing on Appel than signability. I think it was the main factor, but you also can't dismiss the way Stanford Coach Mark Marquess handles pitchers, and in particular, the way he has handled Appel. Marquess is perennially one of the leaders in Pitcher Abuse Points among NCAA D-I coaches, and you have to wonder if that didn't factor into the Cubs and others decisions to pass on Appel. I couldn't say whether or not Stanford pitchers have a higher than average injury rate upon turning pro, but I wouldn't be surprised it they did, and I would bet the Cubs front office keeps track of things like that.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    While it's hard to know what these guys are thinking. I never heard much in connection with Appel, heard more about Zimmer.

    Anyway, we know they loved Almora and they were very happy with that pick. They passed up not just Appel, but also Max Fried, whom they also liked, and Michael Wacha, who was probably the most polished pitcher in this draft and is already in AA. The Cubs simply go best player available and I agree this was probably not strictly a signability issue.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I agree with this.  But the trade fiasco -- after this draft was completed -- may have changed organizational priorities.  I believe they were counting on having guys like Turner and Delgado to build the rotation around next year.  Obviously, that didn't happen.  So, MLB ready pitchers may have more appeal to Theo and Jed than they last June.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Maybe so, but if they think Austin Meadows or Clint Frazier is a future star, I hope they don't pass it up for a pitcher they're not sure on.

  • Lalli DFAd, Socolovich claimed off the waiver wire.

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