Maybe Felzz is starting to rub off on me or maybe it's a way of coping because as I endured the Cubs 7-0 loss yesterday, I couldn't help but play The Smiths in my head...
How come someone hasn't noticed that I'm dead and decided to bury me? God knows I'm ready.
Much like the "This Charming Charlie" peanuts mash-up that will soon be gone (check it out if you're a fan), I think the Cubs season can be put to The Smiths lyrics and it would suddenly make a lot of sense. But let's try not to think about the record and look forward to next year...because we all need to cling to something.
UPDATE 3:28 PM: Javier Baez will not be going to the Arizona Fall League. After his first full season plus a stint in the playoffs, the Cubs have decided that he'd be better served with some rest instead. No word on who will replace him or if Albert Almora will transfer from the taxi squad to the everyday roster.
(UPDATE 1:00 PM) More thoughts on Maddux. If you want to know my opinion on this. It's that the Cubs aren't 100% committed to Sveum but they are close and they are not on the verge of firing him. Rather, I think they are leaving the door slightly ajar. They won't fire him for the sake of firing him, but part of me thinks their heart still skips a beat for Mike Maddux. He's the guy they wanted to help develop their pitching in the original search. It also helps that he's already been through the very long interview process and I think Farrell's success with their old friends in Boston only strengthens the appeal for a pitching guru as manager. The Cubs have been careful with their words because it gives them an out either way. They've given no vote of confidence, yet if he is to stay, they can say they said all along there were no alarms and reiterate the positives they spoke of earlier with Sveum. I'm not saying the job is Maddux's if he wants it. I'm just saying the Cubs are legitimately being thorough with their evaluation and, until they make a formal dccision, they are leaving the door open...just in case, but... I still think that Sveum stays in the end. But if he doesn't succeed, maybe Maddux looms as an option down the road.
- The Cubs are going to give Josh Vitters a shot in LF next spring and they'll give him the opportunity to force his way on to the roster. It makes a lot of sense with the impending log jam of 3B prospects, starting with the defensively superior Mike Olt, who probably gets first crack at that job. Kris Bryant, Christian Villanueva, and possibly Javier Baez loom in the not too distant future. But getting back back to Vitters, I think this is both a great idea and a difficult opportunity. The short side of the platoon is tough for any player, especially a young one like Vitters. Playing time is sporadic . You hope to play at least one game for every 3 the team plays. The Cubs have tried Dave Sappelt and Scott Hairston in that role and neither found success. But perhaps Vitters natural hitting ability can come into play here and we know he has hit LHPs much better than he has hit RHPs at the AAA level. Instead of signing another Hairston, why not try to fill the role internally and cheaply. What's more, I like the language the Cubs used here. They want him to "force his way into the picture". I've often thought that if Vitters wants to prolong his career with the Cubs, he's going to have to get after it. Nothing would please me more than to see him come to spring with a chip on his shoulder and ready to show the promise scouts once thought he had.
- Meanwhile neither Vitters nor Brett Jackson will be going to winter ball this year. I like the idea of letting them take the time off, clear their minds and get a fresh start next spring. Maybe everything they've been taught sinks in and they can let their natural abilities take over. At least that's what I'm hoping.
- Another intriguing development is the idea of Justin Grimm as the Cubs 9th inning guy. We mentioned the other day how he brings mid 90s heat in short spurts and we know he has that curve, which is an out pitch when he commands it. Guy with two potential plus pitches -- why yes, that would work just fine in a closer role. As expected, Pedro Strop would also get a look and the Cubs haven't ruled out bringing back Kevin Gregg. But I suspect that would be more of a fallback. According to Dale Sveum, Strop will get a shot at closing a game or two before the year is out, so it appears that he is the favorite if the Cubs don't retain Gregg.
- More on Dale Sveum as this will become the story until Theo Epstein steps in and gives his decision on the Cubs manager. I was reading Gordon Wittenmeyer's column today in the Sun-Times and, while I don't know what the Cubs will ultimately decide, I think some of the language used blurs the line between what we actually know and creating narrative. I agree with Wittenmeyer and have said that Sveum will likely be judged on his toughest task, which is player development, but Wittenmeyer calls it "the biggest red flag" (assuming of course, that there are other, smaller ones). Meanwhile what Theo Epstein actually said was, "That's something that gets addressed after the season. No alarm bells to ring. That's a subject that gets addressed as a matter of process and is routine after the season, after a period of evaluation that we're in the midst of right now.'' So is a red flag the same thing as an alarm bell? Who knows? They seem pretty synonymous to me, but Wittenmeyer must either feel they are different or that Epstein isn't being straightforward. Whatever the case, I suspect language will play a big role in the Dale Sveum story. Epstein calls it routine and a matter of process -- it gets reported as "no vote of confidence". Epstein says they are "in a period of evaluation". Filter it through the media and out comes charged words like "hot seat" and "lame duck". And thus, a narrative is created. Just like that. Gotta keep moving the needle.
- For what it's worth, I agree that IF the Cubs make a change, that Mike Maddux has to be at or near the top of the list if available. The Cubs have already gone through their extensive process with him and they'd be able to make that decision quickly. The hire of Maddux would also likely mean the end of Chris Bosio, who is also undoubtedly part of this evaluation process. The development of the Cubs pitchers will factor here. My guess is player development in general is what's still being evaluated. The Cubs aren't going to rush through that evaluation. They'll be prudent and make sure they get a good handle on how much Sveum and/or the coaching staff is to blame for what seems to be a step backward for the core. I imagine they'll also evaluate whether this step backward is a productive one -- in other words, will it bear fruit next season? Was it one step back to take two steps forward? I think it's a more complex question than it seems at first glance and the Cubs will not rush to judgment here. I expect them to be thorough with this portion of the evaluation.
- For those of you who stand on your heads when you look at the standings, the Cubs are in 4th, 3 games behind the White Sox and 2.5 games ahead of the Minnesota Twins and 4 ahead of the Seattle Mariners. A top 5 pick seems pretty certain while the Cubs will need the White Sox to get hot if they want the 3rd pick. Most probable scenario is that the Cubs will stay where they are at #4.
Filed under: Uncategorized