It's Time We Got Back: Cubs 7, Cardinals Who Cares? Did You See Soler?

It's Time We Got Back: Cubs 7, Cardinals Who Cares? Did You See Soler?

Cubs/Cardinals. Cardinals/Cubs. This is a series that I've been looking forward to, and dreading at the same time. You all know that Felzz was often at his best for these recaps. And while nobody is really trying to replace the man, I don't want to disgrace myself either. As much as I hate the Cardinals, no matter how Missouri-ish they are, I cannot match Felzz's creativity at describing their fan base. So I'm not going to try. Now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk baseball.

I Should Have No Feeling, 'Cause Feeling is Pain

I am not one to get giddy over athletic events. Let me re-state that. I am not one that should get giddy over athletic events. Or players. Every time I get giddy over something, it comes crashing down around me. Game 6 in 2003, I was so sure that the Cubs were going to win that I exclaimed to my best friend, and tv watching buddy (Monte, our black lab), that "the Cubs are going to the series!" That was in the 7th inning. You know the rest of the story. I've matured (aged) to the point where I've convinced myself not to emotionally invest myself as much in my favorite teams and players. It never works out. College athletes "graduate" and move on, the Cubs trade Dunston to the Pirates, and Derrick May doesn't turn into David Justice. So it might be time to warn you all.

This team is starting to make me feel giddy.

Tell Me Who's That Funky Dude

Kyle Hendricks had a tough start the last time out, but the game was delayed by rain before we had a chance to see if he could right the ship. Tonight he again pitched very well, throwing 6 quality innings. I'm still not sold on him, because I wish that he had that obvious strikeout pitch to turn to when times get tough. The lines continue to read like a dream for a guy that looks more and more that he will be a force in the Cubs' rotation next year. Six innings pitched, two earned runs on just five hits and a walk, while striking out three. I will take that every fifth day and be relatively happy.

I'm a Pig, I'm a Dog, So Excuse Me if I Drool

But who really cares about pitching tonight anyway? The big story was obviously the Javy and Jorge Show (we can decide top billing after a couple more weeks, I think). For all intents and purposes, this game began in the 7th inning, when Jorge Soler led off with a bomb to centerfield. John Jay fooled nobody by jumping up at an "attempt" to catch the thing. It appeared to be a high mistake by Shelby Miller, but also did not look like Jorge got it all. He would have a chance to rectify that later.

As sweet as that morsel was, the 8th inning was like eating a snickers pie. My man, Logan Watkins, led off with a single off of Patfield McCoy Neshek, who had entered the game with ridiculous overall numbers. Coghlan did what he does, and got a late-inning extra base hit to put runners at second and third with nobody out. Then Javy WORKED A COUNT, and punished Neshek with a gapper that would give the Cubs a lead they would never relinquish.

Oh yeah, then two batters later Soler happened. Again. The last time I checked, I believe the concourse beyond the left field bleachers was still an active triage center.

Not to be outdone by his fellow rookies, Arismendy Alcantara went on to hit a solo shot in the 9th. The play of the last three innings more than made up for an otherwise dull offensive performance, and temporarily made most of us forget about another questionable base running performance by Starlin Castro.

The bullpen was lights out again as Regular Ramirez picked up the "W," Stop pitched a scoreless 8th, and Grimm struck out half the Cardinals' roster in the 9th. Must. Control. Enthusiasm.

Three Stars of the Game

#3 - The Bullpen. Seriously, these guys have me fired up. Over the past couple of months, we can't say the offense has carried this team, and with the erratic performances of Jackson, Wood, and even Arrieta a couple of times out, you have to admit that the bullpen has been a catalyst.

#2 - Javier Baez - In the biggest at bat of the game, Javy stayed within himself, worked the count a bit, fouled good pitches off, then delivered a line drive to the gap to drive in two.

#1 - Jorge Soler - So we know he can't keep a slash line of .638/1.545/2.212 for the rest of the season. Can he?
So we get double the pleasure, double the fun tomorrow. I'll be covering back-to-back nights as Gunther and I try to work around Labor Day Weekend festivities.

 

Please feel free to gush in the comments, and onwards!

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  • Considered yourself gushed.

    Also well reported.

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    I'll have to check the Pitch f/x data when it comes out (tomorrow? Tuesday?) but I definitely saw one or two low curves from Hendricks that looked good enough to get hitters out. It also seemed like he was focusing a bit more on allowing weak contact in the air than ground outs, which could be an adjustment to an adjustment from the Cardinals hitters he was seeing for the second time this season. Time will tell if it's sustainable, but I choose to take those as good signs.

  • In reply to Nathan King:

    The Cubs announcers thought the higher number of fly balls seemed to come from a hitting approach change by the Cardinals.

    Personally, I was surprised Renteria took Hendricks out before even pitching 90 pitches. He pitched 46 last start in the rain-shortened game, his place in the order was coming up the next inning, and with a double header tomorrow why go to the bullpen early if not needed. He was dealing. Why not let him at least allow a baserunner before going to the pen.

  • Hey Sinister, I hope you don't mind but I added the video of Soler's 2nd HR. Just because it's soooo fun to watch.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    No problem! Actually tried to thank you, but the message got held up. Yes, I could watch it all night.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    BTW John, we saw Soler and so did 39,000 Cardinals fans. Werent doing to much talking after watching Neshek get completely abused.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    except if your Pat Neshek.

  • Thanks for adding the video, John! I haven't figured out how to do it yet...(yes, I'm old)

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    I'll show you how tomorrow. Too tired to write much today.

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    wow,,I feel like I'm seeing Andre Dawson Pt 2 in Soler

  • In reply to Michael Branson:

    Pretty good comp right there. What I like about Soler is his ability to keep his posture upright as he loads up and does not reach for pitches. If more players like Baez would consciously control themselves to only take their best practice cuts at balls within the strike zone instead of fishing they would have similar results to Jorge. Lord help the Cards and rest of the league when Rizzo, Bryant, Schwarber, and Russell join the party.

  • In reply to Paulson:

    Baez may never have the patience of some of his teammates, but give him time and I think he will be showing more than enough of his own.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    If he can hit .270 he'll lead the league in HRs.

  • In reply to Michael Branson:

    Hawk never walked much. I read someone in here compares him with Frank Thomas. Seems more in line with the Big Hurt then the Hawk.

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    In reply to Michael Branson:

    That bullet he threw to second base reminded me of the Hawk, brought a huge grin to my face, was wishing that the runner would have tried to go to third!

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    Tonight's theme song: The Kids Are Alright. Wow!!!

  • As satisfying as it was to take three from B'more this was much better. And is good as the pen has been I have to give a shout out to Mr. Hendricks... if there was ever a Maddux-like outing this was it. After the first inning all the self-satisfied Deadbird fans were yucking it up like the game would be a cakewalk and Kyle kept them down.

    Watching Molina and Neshek as Soler burst their bubble in the eighth was priceless.

  • In reply to Paulson:

    Sometimes the three stars are easier to pick than others. I kinda like the games like this where there are enough candidates to debate over. Like having Castro/Alcantara/Baez/Russell in the same organization, it's a nice problem to have.

  • In reply to Paulson:

    Neshek NEVER looked. He KNEW where that bomb was going off. Holliday never moved either.

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    Weeee Pal!

  • So nice that Molina was able to come back off the DL just in time to witness the Javy and Jorge Show.

  • In reply to Ricardo:

    Who do they have to replace Yadi and Holliday in 2 years?

  • In reply to edubbs:

    No one will ever replace Yadi. I hate the Cardinals, but he is a very special player. Like a once in a couple generations player.

  • In reply to Ricardo:

    Molina's reaction to Soler's 2nd bomb was priceless!

  • In reply to Orias:

    he looked like he needed some Pepto.

  • The past is theirs. The future is ours! Go Cubs!

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    Looks like Ramirez and Grimm have found a second wind in these last weeks....a tad extra giddy-up on the fastball.

  • John, I apologize for my rant on Castro last night. I must learn to move on.
    Soler's base on balls was equally impressive as the home runs. He's quite focused at the plate.

  • In reply to edubbs:

    No worries. I think he needs to fix that, but he has also come a long way in cutting those kinds of things down. I am just enjoying the great things this team can do right now. They are so fun to watch,

    Soler's approach is great. He is a natural up there. Great discipline and pitch recognition.

  • Len's call on Soler's second bomb was great. Grimm is really coming on. Loved JD naming his curve the "Reaper". Hendricks doesn't seem to lose his poise. What a great at bat by Baez. So much fun tonight.

  • In the future, they will be able to hit about 200 home runs per year without a DH.

  • Looked like it was going to be a long night with some of the worst home plate umpiring we've seen this year. Just awful. But man it's a great night to be a Cubs fan.

  • In reply to JerryMartin28:

    It was brutal seeing the difference between West and pitch trax.

  • In reply to JerryMartin28:

    I've got nothing but respect for Cowboy Joe West... But that was not his best game last night. That said he has a bit of a reputation for having a strike zone not much bigger than a coffee can. Those types are always going to give a guy like Hendricks (any finesse guy really) fits. He forces them to throw it over the heart of the plate. When Hendricks does that, and the batter knows he has to, he gets hammered, ala the first inning. But Hendricks really showed his cerebral approach last night. He adjusted to the umpire, and even seemed to change with Joe and take advantage of his inconsistent strike zone.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    the worse is Dale Scott. If West is a coffee can then Scott is a postage stamp. Go back to the 1st game of the 2008 pl,ayoffs and watch how Scott totally squeezed Dempster.

  • OK, Sinister, let me join the chorus: you're very good at these recaps (as is Gunther, BTW).

  • I had my team from work in to KC this week. During a happy hour, I started raving about this 22 year Cuban the Cubs called up. Of course the Cardinals fan brought up Bartman. That is just annoying.

    I continued to talk about how the Cubs have a lot of talent coming up and will really start competing as early as next year. He laughed. We ended up with a $50 bet that the Cardinals would/would not sweep the Cubs.

    First, terrible bet on his part. Second, the fact that the "kids" hit three home runs and had 6 of the 7 RBIs is icing on the cake.

    He will likely not pay up. Not a problem, I wasn't really in it for the money. This is going to haunt him every time he sees me.

  • In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    It's funny. They know about Bartman but haven't heard of Soler. Well they have heard of him now and will for the next decade.

  • In reply to John57:

    Next timne a Cards fan mentions Bartman, Ill mention all the things they did to hand the 2013 series to the BoSox.

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    In reply to KC Cubs Fan:

    Funny. Since he won't likely pay, go double or nothing on the Cubs sweeping the birds!

  • Watch Molina when Jorge gets a hold of that second knock. Times they are a-changing, Yadier.

  • Does anyone know how far the 2nd HR went?

    Also, playing my first year in fantasy baseball, I'm pretty irritated how 'Wins' are decided for the pitching staff. Last week, Arrietta pitched a gem only to have Strop blow the lead and then then collect the win when the Cubs scored in the bottom half of the inning. This week Hendricks puts up another quality start through 6 innings, but Ramirez (who I WISH I had picked up in my fantasy league) nabs the W.

    And while I have the box, regarding the lane that the catcher supposedly cannot block before he has the ball that ESPN is up in arms about and MLB is still trying to clarify...how about you designate it in chalk? Kinda like the base path to first base. Just a thought.

  • In reply to good4you:

    442 feet I heard

  • In reply to good4you:

    442ft. ist one was listed at 415 by the stadium board.

  • Sorry to be so comment happy tonight, but I had another realization-

    The Cubs 2015 starting lineup (1 thru 8) will have a salary of less then $15M.

    LF - Coghlan - 800K
    SS - Castro - 5M
    1B - Rizzo - 5M
    RF - Soler - 2M
    2B - Baez - 500K
    3B - Valbuena - (1.7M + Arb eligible)
    CF - Alcantara - 500K
    C - Castillo - 500K

    Pffwuut?!? ...and they'll average 25.5 years old.

    These stats will pair nicely with 175HRs and 90 Wins.

  • In reply to good4you:

    I believe your #s add up to $16M., but who's counting...?

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    I'm starting to get really annoyed with JD he picks out any situation possible to get on Starlin. If you are going to get on the stars get on the people the aren't producing as well this is driving me crazy! Before I get jumped I am not saying Starlin doesn't have to work on things but at least be fair which JD clearly is not being right now...Oh btw that game was super fun to watch especially because my older brother ripped me for picking up Soler in our fantasy league!

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    In reply to Sean Livengood:

    It wasn't just JD - pat Hughes almost lost his cool on that at as well. When he said "unbelievable!" You could read a volume into it but he's too professional to rant.

  • In reply to Sean Livengood:

    Remember that JD is actually an employee of the Cubs (as they have approval) even though he is contracted by Comcast and WGN, (plus Cubs have a stake in Comcast), you don't think that they are "allowing" the "analyst" to take Castro down a peg regardless of fans love of a player. Castro's role is deeper than merely producing stats and fielding balls, he is supposed to be a leader as in showing how it is done. Is he really do that? Sometimes being a leader comes down to doing things consistently, comprehensively, more than required or expected as in playing the game the right way and preparing for every game before and after the game? I think Castro is a former Cub and preparing a fan base for this inevitable is how a big market FO future champion manages all the aspects.

  • I am taking a serious dislike to JD with his approach to Castro, to the point where I dislike like him as an announcer and want him replaced. Coomer on the radio is much better and gives a fair and balanced analysis.

    I love the 3 star format hereon the recaps. I like it especially when it is the young studs that are listed among the stars.

    Cant wait to Rizzo gets healthy so we can see them all in the lineup together. Plus cant wait to see who the Sept. callus will be.

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    In reply to Behn Wilson:

    I honestly don't get the anger with JD. This is 3 games in a row where Castro didn't run hard when he should have. How is that the announcer's fault? How many games in a row does it have to be before you blame the guy who isn't running? I have been a supporter of Castro and he is improving, but he has bad body language and is still too prone to these kind of mistakes. That is one of the reasons why I think that he will ultimately be the odd man out when Russell is ready.

  • If you guys didn't hear Matheney's post-game comments, do yourself a favor: It's the tasty dessert that follows a delicious meal. "They hit balls we haven't seen here before." And my personal favorite: "We knew that if we kept them in the ballpark, we had a chance to win... but we couldn't quite do that." That's the manager of a perennial WS contender, which entered the game tied for the Wild Card lead, talking about how he only wanted "a chance to win" against a Cubs team in last place, missing its best hitter, with five starters who began the year in AAA, including the starting pitcher, who can hardly get past 90 mph with his heater.

    There is fear in Matheney's voice. For people who know baseball -- Matheney, as well as sought-after free agent pitchers like Jon Lester -- it's becoming increasingly clear that the Cubs are no longer a sleeping giant. They're building not just a championship team but a perennial contender.

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    In reply to Taft:

    There are a lot of awesome quotes from that in interview. Here's three:

    “A couple of guys hit some balls that we haven’t really seen hit like that here,” said Matheny. “They’ve got some power and we went into this game realizing that. Keep them in the park and we’ve got a chance. We couldn’t keep them in the park.”

    Citing Soler’s first homer, Matheny said, “To leave (the park) to center like that, I thought that ball was a popup. That says a lot about what he brings to the table.”

    “I told you I was done tipping my cap,” said Matheny, “but the kid (Hendricks) is 5-1 with a sub 2.00 ERA ... in a hitter-friendly park. There hasn’t been a lot of people putting a lot of runs on him.

  • In reply to Taft:

    Go read the Cards message boards-they KNOW whats coming, and last night is just the tip of the iceberg. Ive been telling them Wacha, Miller and Gonzalez might be experiencing sudden "tendonitis" when its there turn in the rotation to face the Cubs. After all, see what happened after Solers first bomb? The Cards medical staff rushed out to "check" on a "strained neck" from Miller. More like they were checking his mental state.

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    There are big games coming up in the next few years. They need to go big with their announcers. How about Stone and Kasper?

  • In reply to Glen Krisch:

    Glen I would take that and run!

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    Stone would likely love to be back. After being with Harrelson watching the Baby Cubs will seem like a lineup full of Abreus.

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    With all the hitters we have currently and will add in the future, I have changed my mind and am now in favor of the DH.

  • In reply to Chuck Witt:

    Gee, add Vogelbomb to all the others. Happy days are here again.

  • Just wanted to drop a line on some thoughts I've had over last couple weeks...
    Sinister and Gunther...both of you have done a nice job. I look forward to reading both of you, as well as all of the other posters and commenters.
    I like JD. I liked Brenly too, and loved Stone; but I'm good with JD. It's not easy to make negative comments about players. You have to know what you're getting yourself into. What I like is I perceive the reason he made a couple of comments was to help do his part to get this ball club better. I don't think he was trying to be impartial, I just think he wants Castro to know how important he is right now surrounded by all of this young talent.
    That said; man, Castro has had it rough over the past couple years. It's hard when life reminds you that it can give and take away. I have to think everyone in that dugout understands how he could be a little 'spacey right now.
    Baez what's amazing about Baez is the way he can hit a ball 400 feet that he doesn't even square up all the way. He's going to be great. I'm a homer but I wouldn't trade him for anyone.
    Soler; I love his swing. Absolutely fantastic swing. It's amazing how he can barrell up balls so well when swinging that hard. Only special players can do that often. If he can continue to do that, he'll be special.
    Lastly, I'm on board with everything I've said in the past. This team is two front-line starters and a big left handed bat away from being in the playoff conversation, and I think a deal built around Ejax for Papelbon makes a huge amount of sense.

  • In reply to Kodak11:

    The big left handed bat is coming and his name is Schwarber. With our bullpen arms, we don't need Papelbon. I hope we get Lester. That would make my off season.

  • In reply to John57:

    Need and want are two different subjects I guess.
    I'm a huge IU fan and have listened to Tracy Smith speak at a clinic and a North/South banquet. He's awesome.
    I would love to see Schwarber turn into a Gattis type. I'd love him to be more, but I think Cargo makes so much sense for this team.
    By the time Bryant is ready to move to LF, his contract will be up.
    I like the young bullpen too. But, Papelbon would be some nice icing, and Jackson needs a change of scenery. Ejax and a solid young arm like Rivero or Strop for Papelbon makes a lot of sense. The money is practically a wash. I'd just like to see someone added to the bullpen who has been in huge games before.
    Papelbon would also keep the arbitration costs of all the young relievers down a little bit. You'd actually save some money over time by keeping those save numbers down.
    The Cubs are ready to start their run. I'd like to see them go all in.

  • In reply to Kodak11:

    Well maybe you would like to see them go all in but that is not Theo's plan. All you have to do is listen to what he repeatedly says.

    As for Cargo, Colorado has said they are not looking to trade him and if they did trade him they would want significant prospects. Theo doesn't give prospects away for expensive veterans in decline. Secondly he is not cheap and thirdly he is injury prone. Last time I looked he was hurt again. This is 180 degrees opposite of what we want to do. It does not make sense at all for us, but it would really help Colorado.

    Same thing applies for Rivero/Strop and Jackson for Papelbon. We don't trade young cheap players (not Jackson) for aging bullpen pitcher who is very high priced. Another trade that makes absolutely no sense for the Cubs.

  • In reply to John57:

    Disagree.

  • In reply to Kodak11:

    Yep, we disagee. At least we agree on that. :)

  • In reply to Kodak11:

    Oft-injured CarGo and clubhouse cancer Papelbon are two types the Cubs don't need.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Disagree. Cargo is the type that can be injured for half the year and have a huge impact in the playoffs.
    The following comments are not specifically to you. Papelbon is the same way. The Cubs need to set the stage for getting in as the wild card, winning that game, and then winning in the playoff atmosphere.
    They're going to have to add veterans. I'd rather have star veterans than bench players fighting for a spot. Hoyer said something along those lines a couple of nights ago.
    Realistically, he was talking about Russell Martin (and that would be cool); but a guy can dream.

  • In reply to Kodak11:

    Kodak, we'll have to disagree then on CarGo and Papelbon. However, I am totally with you about getting Russell Martin if possible !

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Happy disagreement brother. I'm happy with Martin but I still have the optimism of a third generation Cubs fan!

  • In reply to Kodak11:

    Yeah, I'm starting to come around on making a strong push to sign Martin. Immediate veteran impact. Good leadership. Be prepared for him to regress offensively, though.

    I want nothing to do with Papelbon or Gonzalez. I don't want any Rockie with bad home/away splits, especially if he's got an injury history and comes at a sizable prospect cost as well as salary. Spend the money on pitching.

    That said, this front office has done such a good job scouting of late, and are in such an enviable position, that I'll trust in whatever move the end up making.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Agree with a lot of what you said. I trust this front office completely...feel the same way.
    The only true fear I have is that next year could be the one year they would have won the series in their long run of "sustained success" (like the Braves), and they don't capitalize on it because they want to keep building. Indians never won it with their young, impact talent.
    Beane seems like he's trying to make up for lost time right now. I'm rooting for the A's but I don't think they're the team to beat anymore.
    I liked Moneyball a lot but hated how they made such a big deal about his philosophy toward working at bats and bunting/stealing bases (lack of); with no mention of Hudson, Mulder, Zito, etc. They had a huge window and didn't seal it.
    I felt the same way about the Cubs in 2003. IMO, the problem wasn't Bartman, it was going into the playoffs with Borowski as the key to the bullpen. If they'd made a move for a shutdown guy instead of a saves collector, then I probably wouldn't be so antsy now.

  • In reply to John57:

    Ive said this before-Lester HAS to be looking at this team and telling himself how many wins hed have pitching for them. No more 2-1 or 3-2 games, or not a lot of them. And not having to face Baez, Bryant, Rizzo, Soler, et al, is far less mentally taxing. Another potential FA in 2016 has to be thinking the same thing. Johhny Cueto.

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    Would someone explain to me why Matheny down two runs with two outs and first base open pitch to Soler who was already 2-2?

  • In reply to Harvey Schnepper:

    Because hes a dunce. Im betting Soler wont be seeing too many pitches close to the plate for the rest of the series.

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    I have to weigh in on JD,since I see fans ripping him here. I think he's a great color guy, very funny in an understated way. Of course to get cerebral you have to be a little cerebral yourself.

    As far as his criticism of Castro, I think he's right on. Castro plays with a baseball IQ of 50. For those who don't know, that's low. I predict he is the one who will be gone, not JD. He sets a bad example for the rookies, not what management is looking for from a supposed leader.

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    In reply to AJinCA:

    Amen to that. He has been up for a few years now, he needs to know better. I am tired of watching him half ass things. If this is how he wants to be, I'll pay for his plane ticket out of town. Sit him down and tell him to watch and learn. He is not someone we want teaching the kids!!

  • Somebody forgot to tell Soler that good hitters only need to hit like .300. He is thinking the only way you are doing well is if you get on base over half of the time which makes sense, just baseball hasn't realized that yet. Just unbelievable. I think he also wants rookie of the year, so he is making up for lost time.

  • This. "The last time I checked, I believe the concourse beyond the left field bleachers was still an active triage center." Literally made me guffaw out loud, Sinister. Well done, sir!

  • Deshaies is understated? How about his constant gripe over the major burr in his saddle, our All-Star shortstop. He gives Castro the "understated" verbal equivalent of drip-drip-drip water torture.
    I'd rather hear a blind homer like Ronnie than a biased critic like Deshaies. Yes, Steve Stone would be a great replacement.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Why are some commentators shooting the messenger? J.D. is only commenting on what Castro does. The easiest way to avoid the criticism is for Castro to knock off the bonehead plays and hustle. IMO if Castro continues down this road he may one day cost us more than aggravation; he'll cost us a pennant. If he does that he'll wish he was Bartman.

  • In reply to AggBat:

    Strongly disagree. I think Castro is much more likely to help the Cubs WIN a pennant than costing us one, as in your scenarios.
    By your comments, I think you and others are setting him up for failure already, e.g., Bartman references, IQ slurs, et al.
    If Deshaies and his ilk would show some balance by praising when praise is due, and constructively getting on other Cubs when they mess up, instead of just dissecting Castro, I might have some respect for their criticism.
    Imagine Starlin Castro taking several games off for a bad back, like Anthony Rizzo. It would be a chorus of "He's not a leader if he doesn't take care of his body" and "He doesn't show up for big games".
    We are blessed to have one of the best young shortstops in all of baseball.
    I gladly cheer him and expect that he will grow -- unlike many of his critics.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    When he costs the Cubs a big game in the future, remember me fondly. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think so.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    I've read your posts for a few years and strongly respect your opinion.
    I'm tired of people getting on Castro. I really am. That said; I'm absolutely sick of people constantly coming back with "if Rizzo did this or that, would you say this or that?"
    The topics are unrelated.
    I love Castro. First Cubs jersey I bought my little nephew a few years ago.
    But, you can tell that Rizzo is going to make sure these young kids play the game right. Castro needs someone to make sure he is. It's just that simple.
    I'd love for Castro to make the transition, but he needs to make it.
    Rizzo and Castro are apples and oranges. Lower back tightness is for real and if you aren't careful it will own the rest of your career.
    The Cubs and Rizzo are being smart about that. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Castro should have been trying to stretch a bloop single into a double with two outs before the rain delay.
    Every ball player should know that you should be twice as hard out of the box with two outs because you are going to take a risk to get in scoring position with two outs. Castro didn't.
    It was a far higher crime than the next night when he thought he homered with one out.
    Can't stress enough how much I'm a fan of Castro, but Rizzo's back situation has nothing to do with it.

  • In reply to Kodak11:

    Well stated.

  • In reply to Kodak11:

    Thanks, Kodak, but you missed the point. I'm not knocking Rizzo.
    I'll say it simply: There is a different set of standards for different players on this board and in the booth. There's one for Rizzo, there's another for Baez (imagine if Castro had a 48% SO rate !), there's one for Baker, etc., and there's a different one, much higher, for Starlin Castro.
    That set of standards for Castro is impossible to meet. Look at the tone, tenor, and number of comments here -- his every move and non-move gets dissected and magnified.
    Reminds me of the storm around another young player we had, name of Brock. What ever happened to him?
    When I look at Castro's career, starting from when he came up (way too early to placate Hendry) to his excellent 2014 season, I am glad we have a top-5, All-Star shortstop.
    No, he's not perfect. Deal with it! I expect him to grow, but I can only hope that his critics grow too.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    Renteria is has to deal with it.
    I've coached a lot of baseball. Your best player leads by example; whether he wants to or not.

  • In reply to Kodak11:

    I agree with one thing: Renteria has to deal with it. Despite all our emotional investment, we fans have no impact on how he gets along with his teammates, manager, and coaches.
    But it looks to me like his teammates like him a lot.

  • In reply to StillMissKennyHubbs:

    If you think JD is a critic of Castro you probably forgot howStone was in criticizing players. He would be all over Castro's antics in a non cerebral way. Why do you think he isn't in the booth now?

  • In reply to stix:

    Good point, stix. But at this stage Stoney may not have to prove he's right all the time. I get that feeling from Deshaies every now and then.

  • I love the energy on this website...I am truly excited as to what the next years will bring ! Onward indeed

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    Haven't seen very many games and I do think it is JD's job to let the fans know when a player is not playing up to his capabilities, I can't stand homers, so I actually think some of your anger should be directed at the management for allowing this behavior to exist. They apparently haven't sent down boundaries as to what is the cubs way and what is Castro's way, and I do think now that he has raised his stock back to normal he will be moved this off season..

  • In reply to tater:

    We are fans. It is our job to cheer on our players not to boo them. Theo's job is to build a team. Castro will get traded if someone else blows our socks off otherwise he will be he next year.

  • In reply to John57:

    should read my post before sending. Should end with "here next year"

  • In reply to tater:

    Castro may be moved in the future but which established cub player takes his place? Baez is cruising along at a batting average that Mendoza would be ashamed of and Russell hasn't played at AAA yet for the cubs. Let's see if the kids can play before we start trading away someone that will have 1,000 hits before his 26th birthday.

    Baez has 100 AB's, seems a bit early to anoint him as the next Mendoza.

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    The Cubs are starting to become a must watch. Did I just say that? Holy cow, can you imagine the fun we are going to have. I HATE the Cardinals. Any pain we can inflict on their playoff chances is priceless to me. Go Cubs!

  • In reply to James Gryder:

    ^^ This! ^^

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    Well done on the recaps, I've really enjoyed them.

    I think Hendrick's changeup is pretty close to an "out" pitch. I'm confused as to what you are saying in that regard, are you saying that you wish he had a pitch that he could go to that is equivalent to the likes of a TOR starter? Or are you saying that you wish he had a good "strikeout" pitch that one would expect from a good middle of the rotation starter on a competitive team? Because I don't think anyone is delusional with Hendricks, but I also don't think there's any reason to doubt that he has the right combination of feel/mind for pitching and stuff to be an effective pitcher.

  • BooYah!

    All I could think about after watching that game last night, was about the song that says "how you like me now?"

    That was such a sweet win over the Cardinals!

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    Comment lost in space, sorry for the duplicate if it shows up. Regarding JD - he wasn't the only one who called out Castro. Pat Hughes almost lost his professional cool; when he said "unbelievable!" and stopped there, you could read volumes that he was too professional to rant out.

  • One of my favorite things about Fellzy's recaps was the poetic descriptions of the Cardinal fan base. He even had to defend it a few times on here. lol

    I used to see a Cardinal jersey and just shake my head... now when I see one, I snicker to myself thinking of his descriptions, whether it fits that specific individual or not. lol

  • So the shortest homerun the Cubs hit last night was Valbuena's 419 footer. That was a lot of fun.

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    Rizzo with a "tight back," that's not a lot of information. I sure hope this is not going to be a chronic situation. Valaika subbing for him is not a positive thing. Maybe short term Baez could be used there with Watkins filling in at 2B.

  • In reply to TheRiot2:

    That might be a great idea. Maybe Even Valbuena backs up first with Bryant at third. Theo and Cubs management have done so well at building this team. I really hope they go for it this offseason.
    I heard Hoyer on Olney's podcast the other day. He said the Cubs have two years to get their top of the rotation starter. Now Theo says 18-24 months.
    Man, I hope their posturing to keep operating costs down.
    This team is ready to make aggressive moves now.

  • I was glad to see a High quality Baez at bat. That is what I wanted to see from him. Not "choke up on the bat" as mention by someone. But I do want him to know the situation and realize I don't need a Hr every time.

    With Hendricks it seems that he gives up 80% of his runs in the first inning and then settles down. Wonder if he is to fresh when game starts? Needs to be a little tired to have more movement??? Just curious why it changes from the 2nd inning on.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I hate the idea of chocking up on the bat. No ball player practices that in the cage. I'm a believer on widening your base with two strikes (to see the ball longer), but only if that feels comfortable.

  • I can't think of a HR that I have taken more pleasure in during the past 5 years than the one Soler hit last night. Broke the game open. Epic distance. Against a very tough pitcher. And most importantly, against the hated, smug Cards. Matheny is right to be nervous... this Cubs lineup may just become the 2nd coming of Murderer's Row.

  • Sometimes a game defines a season, (Sandberg's Babey Ruth comes to mind) and sometimes it illustrates the summation of a year's work. Last night we witnessed a lot of cumulative work by both an organization and individuals. Valbuena had a great winter leading Venezuelan Winter Ball with power and hitting and came to spring ready to contribute even if he was slated as a platoon bench player. Now he has 14 HR's and many big hits on what was a light hitting offense. Hendricks again grinded and plotted through a WS team's lineup like he has done 8 out of 9 games since he was called up. It matters little how he does it and more importantly that it is done consistently. Baez showed in the 8th inning what he was working on since early May, he was patient when he had to be and drove a shot into the gap that was a game winner. While Soler, what a beast, what natural player, he has both an eye to recognize and talent to dominate, he too has worked to put himself in this position. But to me Alcantara is an example how the system can develop good talent into a difference maker. Same with the bullpen that everyone is now recognizing. This is a signature game for the organization.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    Alcantara isn't the best player on this team and he has some flaws (a relatively weak arm, makes some questionable decisions with where to throw the ball, could be a bit more patient at the plate), but I really like him and think he will an important player for this team. I love his defensive versatility as well as the fact that he's a legit switch hitter. His speed adds a needed dimension to the team as well.

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    In reply to Pura Vida:

    Not sure why you say AA has a weak arm. He was a shortstop until very recently. I think he has enough arm strength, even if he's not Jr Lake or Soler. Now what he needs to do is learn to throw like an outfielder

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I said "relatively weak" by which I meant in comparison to other OFers, Additionally, it's pretty clear that base-runners often take the extra base on him, but I agree with you Mike. I think if he stretches his arm out and learns to throw like an outfielder that he will be fine.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    I think the hard adjustment is the outfield throw has to be over the top otherwise if u throw it 3/4 or side arm like from SS or 2nd base the throw will tail big time. That is why his throws to the plate r up the 3b line. He needs to come over the top

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Spot on. I heard Ruggiano was working with him using a two colored ball to track the spin.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    AA is like Baez in a way, seems to start out slow and adjust and improve as time goes by. IM thinking he will likely grow into at least a ML avg hitter next year, 250-270 Avg 320 OBP, 15 hr 20-25 SB type player. Either way, hes a huge improvement over what they had there before him.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    I am not sure if it was a signature game, but everything else you said was spot on. Lots of good things to like and the really special players other than Soler are not yet here. Bryant could be every bit as good as Soler. Russell is going to be a game changer both defensively and offensively. Schwarber is a special talent and has great makeup and is a lefty. Almora will provide gold glove defense in CF like we have not seen in a long long time. Good times in Aug and Sept but the best is yet to come. Onward

  • In reply to cubbybear7753:

    Little doubt that Russell might be much more than anyone bargained for, nothing like a true five tool player. I never said Alcantara is the best player on the diamond, just an example of how a "system can develop good talent into a difference maker." Alcantara appears to be a player who is the dream of any organization, a starting super sub, a player who could play multiple positions well, and still hit. that is a difference maker in that he is worth two or three players.

    Castro does not need excuses.

    Castro knows he is in THE SHOW and his role is to be a leader and to play the game where there is no room for crying, correctly. He is a veteran regardless of age and distractions.

    It will be interesting how Cubdom reacts to him being traded, because the writing is on the wall.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    And I hope he keeps the cubs and its fans in his hall of fame speech.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    When are you trading Castro and which experienced player replaces him?

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    To the "No Excuses!" faction:
    Showing compassion for someone who has recently lost family and friends is not giving him an "excuse".

  • In reply to Cubfucius:

    Exactly.

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    I read that Baez has watched video of his swing and has made an adjustment to let the pitch run deeper before committing to it. Last night was a very positive sign!
    My brother came over, we watched the game together. He hadn't seen Hendricks before, but by the 5th inning he said "does this guy remind you of Maddux?

  • Question for anyone who cares to answer. One thing Castro does as good as just about any other SS in baseball is chase down pop-ups. Maybe, when the time comes, he's the guy to move to LF. What do you think?

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    In reply to AggBat:

    I think a .280/15 HR bat plays a lot better (and holds more trade value as well) in the middle infield than it does at any corner position

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I agree, but what if they decide to keep him for the majority of his contract? Do you keep him at SS because of trade value or do you move him to OF and hope he becomes an Alex Gordon type of player?

  • My two cents. I don't think Castro has an attitude/work ethic problem. I think that its mental exhaustion. Every year he has a block of time as a long season wears on where he loses his focus and deals with it. I believe that the young guys still look up to him.

    I,m elated watching our young guys arriving and contributing, but I'm going to save my 'over the top' celebrating until the Cubs actually win something.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I commend such a balanced comment.
    It may indeed be mentally stressful for Starlin to live up to his critics' standards of perfectionism.
    Much prefer your "insight" to others' "incite".

  • I've got a feeling that these rookies that are already here and wll be arriving soon will have these Card fans crying in their crack pipes for years to come.

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    In reply to SFToby:

    You've just offended thousands of Cardinal fans with that crack pipe comment. They would like you to issue an apology and formally recognize the difference between crack and meth, the official Missouri state substance of choice (well, that and Hamms beer). Also of note, the garden shed is the official state building

  • Good chance at this point we won't have a top ten draft pick next year. At one point it looked like we'd have the # 2 pick.

  • Many people seem to be willing to anoint Bryant as the LF of the future. He has his heart set on 3B and has improved his D this year by all accounts.

    When he comes up next year he will most likely be at 3B. Considering Baez played CF in HS, wouldn't he make a better LF? His power would play anywhere. That frees up Russell to play either 2B or SS with Castro manning the other. Russell is potentially the best defensive middle infielder in the system (better than Marco Hernandez).

  • In reply to Gator:

    If Bryant sticks at 3rd it would probably leave an opening in left field which is probably one of of the easiest to spot to fill in Baseball.

    lefties: alcantera,rizzo schwarber and FA leftfielder
    righties: soler,bryant,baez & castro

    still leave: russell, almora & mckinney

    if schwarber catches and bryant can stick at 3rd we could end up with that balanced lineup that can help in the late innings. i really really like how things are taking shape.

  • This is the first I've seen of Soler as I only follow the minors through the great recaps here but I'm really shocked at his swing. First, he is very still, even when loading up - not much wasted motion anywhere. Second, for a guy with so much power he swings with complete control. He's not trying to kill the ball like Javy (who is fun to watch for the exact opposite reason).

    The best comment of the night occured when the Cardinals played the corners in. Between Jorge and Javy, would you want to be a drawn in infielder. Not me.

    Finally, regarding Castro. I'm one to criticize lack of hustle and he has shown it in the past but it had gotten much better most likely because he's been consciously working on them. Now I remember when I lost my grandmother last year I went to the funeral and came back to work the next week. I caught myself spacing out every now and then and had to force myself to get back to work because sometimes it is easier to feel nothing than deal with reality. Thankfully, I don't have someone watching my every move and commenting about it to a national audience (I work at a computer all day - man would that be awful TV). To be honest, I expect him to have these lapses for the rest of the season albeit less frequently as the season progresses (And before anyone complains that I'm being too nice about it, keep in mind that there isn't much of season left. Had this happened earlier I would have said "a month or so").

    To be honest, I'm looking forward to the future (which is really weird for a pessimist like me). When your best option becomes pitching around guys to get to Castro, you may be in a little trouble.

  • Remember when Baez hit three home runs in his first three games and it was a thing?

    Castro has made vast improvement this year. He returns from a one week bereavement leave (probably still grieving,) has a couple of bad days and now he sucks.

  • In reply to Richard Beckman:

    Who said Castro sucks? I think even his detractors would acknowledge that overall he is one of the better SS in baseball. He has excellent hand-eye coordination, puts the ball in play with authority and great regularity, has made strides defensively, has above average speed and isn't afraid of hard work. But that doesn't mean you don't notice that for a player with his tenure he has not been quick to grapsed the finer points of the game, that he sometimes showboats, and doesn't always hustle. I can put up with a longer learning curve when it comes to the finer points of the game. Everyone learns at a different rate. I will continue to complain when Starlin doesn't hustle and when he poses. There's no excuse for a lack of hustle and no good reason to pose after you make a play. Instead, hustle and make another play. By the way, these two issues are easily remedied.

    Certain Castro apologists need to come to grips with the fact that his short comings are real and, although he's a good player, these things hold him back from being a great player. Hell, Starlin is capable of a 3000 hit career. Guys with those types of numbers wind up in the HOF. If he can clear up these problems in the near future it could happen. I'm rooting for him, but frankly I'm not hopeful. He just doesn't seem to get it.

  • Hopefully my other comments won't make an appearance as these will be the same... not sure what happened to my last attempt at posting.

    My thoughts on Castro are simple. He is a guy who has to actively work on his focus. It has been getting better but after what he's been through, he's going to have problems for a little bit. I knew he was going to have issues when he returned and ended his interview with something like "I'm OK"... He may have said it but he didn't sound ok, not by a longshot.

    Last year my grandmother passed and I recall coming back to work the week after the funeral and at times had to force myself to stop spacing out. Sometimes it is easier to tune out than deal with your problems. Now, my grandmother was in her 90s and not very well at the time. Unlike Castro's situation we were expecting this. I can't imagine that kind of shock. Couple that with the fact that his job as someone watching his every move and commenting on it... let's just say things will get magnified. I can space out for a minute on my job without any repercussions whereas his mental lapse is the difference between standing on third or walking back to the dugout... on television, with people discussing it on air, and in print.

    I expect him to have these lapses for the rest of year albeit with less frequency as he puts distance between him and the tragedy. (And before any says I'm too lenient here, if this happened earlier in the season, I would have said a "month or so" as opposed to "the rest of year") .

    Regardless, I'm looking forward to the very near future where pitching around guys to get to Castro is your best option. If that's your best option, things are not going your way.

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    I was at the game last night and you should of heard the crowds reaction when Soler hit that bomb. The cardinal fan reaction sitting next to me was priceless!! WTF was that! Damn it looked like a tiger woods drive.......And then going down the escalator i overheard a couple cardinal fans saying" where did the cubs get these guys from".....I think the cardinals fan just got a sample of what's coming there way. It was awesome....And damn it was nice to see Baez working the count and laying off pitches...

  • In reply to Greg Simmons:

    Looking forward to the Cubs' sluggers defiling "Big Mac Land" on a consistent basis.

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    In reply to Greg Simmons:

    where i was sitting my view was blocked and i couldn't see where solers second bomb landed and so the minute i got home from the game i watched the video......loved the call by the cubs announcer.

  • In reply to Greg Simmons:

    442 ft. And what did Len say, absolutely "demolished" or something like that?

  • In reply to Greg Simmons:

    Whats funny Greg-JD and Kasper both made comments about how quiet the stadium got and said something to the effect of the Cards "better get used to it". And they better had get used to it. There pitchers will get as abused as anyones will.

  • What disappoints me is how media and fans have erased all the good castro has done this season and really one bad game has turned him into the cancer. I just listen to the radio and the host says he would get rid of him because he did not pick up his third base coach. What castro did the last few days are not good. What is more sad is a mistake by castro is seen as evidence of bad character or makeup but other are still seen as leaders after mistakes. I have seen plenty of cubs games where player miss cutoff men, picked off on the bases ,bad base running and mental errors that cost games.Castro was not involved in those things that day and no one was singled out, but I guess its not the same when castro does it. I guess castro just has to take Aramis Ramírez and soriano spot as the lazy dominican.

  • In reply to seankl:

    Hear hear ! He's become the "lazy Dominican red-haired stepchild" of the critics.

  • Anyone else notice that when Javy hits a line drive over the shortstop's head it ends up not being a single?

    When he squares one up it goes like 300 mph. The SS doesn't even have time to jump!

  • I watch every Cub game and I don't feel JD is 'overly critical'. Both our announcers praise him at times, especially on pop-ups.

    Now what I don't watch is every other shortstop in the league. So a comparison to the average shortstop is not mine to make.

    I 'd just like to know when, who, and HOW Castro is being coached on this be more in the game issue.

  • Not to get carried away in the small amount of euphoria coming with the influx of young talent, but I want to go on the record and predict the following:

    Of all the young Cub talents, Jorge Soler looks to be most certain of the group to have the greatest probability of being a consistent championship level player, provided he can stay healthy.

    Say what you will about Castro's ability to consistent hit a pitched ball for base hits, Baez's ability to launch bombs and even Bryant's advanced approach given his limited pro experience, I will stand up and state that Soler looks to be the real deal and to this jaded Cub fan, I think he has the greatest chance to be the keeper of the bunch.

    I tip my hat to the new regime - I believe that they have correctly located and signed an immense talent, and I look forward to Soler being a part of the next Cubs run for glory.

  • An interesting look at Baez and some of his struggles to make contact as well as reasons for hope: http://grantland.com/the-triangle/javier-baez-chicago-cubs-strikeouts-homers-first-100-plate-appearances/

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