Revenge is a dish best served whenever--Orioles 1 Cubs 4

Revenge is a dish best served whenever--Orioles 1 Cubs 4

It is rare that things work out so perfectly, but the Cubs' pair of former Orioles pitchers shut down the opposition for eight innings. Arrieta buckled under the pressure of being the guy in Baltimore for many years, and it must be a huge smile that Arrieta provided a dominant start. A Javy Baez home run and some good defense was sprinkled into a nice showing by the understaffed Cubs.
WPA CHART

Source: FanGraphs
Jake ACErrieta
He hasn't moved into that ace category for me, but it is becoming harder and harder to ignore the production of Arrieta. As usual Arreita carried a no hitter more than a single time through the order. The numbers look real, but still would like to see it for more than two thirds of a season. The Cubs could really use another starter to push Arrieta to the second spot.

The Sound and the Fury

Maybe I should write recaps more often? It seems like every time I get to describe something special that Javier Baez has done. The home run came on a mistake pitch, but Baez punishes those like few can. His play at shortstop has been solid, and lends a little credence to the notion of an infielder surplus the Cubs supposedly have right now. Either way, having watched the replay a few hundred times I am convinced this is what the Faulkner novel was about.

Watkins Sighting
Logan Watkins managed to start his fifth career Major League ball game. Watkins skill set is something I appreciate with a good batting eye, speed and positional flexibility. However it seemed like Watkins was likely a casualty heading into another offseason roster crunch. Today's game did not change his status for the future, and Watkins will head down when Castro returns. It would be nice to see Watkins get a few chances to show if he could be a useful bench player. More performances with some nice defensive plays and key hits like this can only help his chances.

Random Reference
A key play in the game came in the fifth inning with Chris Davis being thrown out at the plate. The always clear cut lane rule was invoked with a crew chief's challenge. The Cubs apparently have asked for clarification and so John Baker felt in good standing on the play. However, Baker admitted that everyone involved was still unclear at the exact interpretation of the rule. This needs to be clarified sooner rather than later, but until this remains as clear as the rules of Calvinball.

1175315648124

Three Stars of Game
Third Star-Javier Baez (1-4, 1 HR, 2K)
Baez home run was majestic and his defense was excellent. The home run wasn't the difference in the game, and so that nets him only the third star. Third star with a solid thud though.

Second Star-Luis Valbuena (2-4, 1 HR)
Valbuena's home run got the Cubs on the board and was important when the Cubs squandered a golden opportunity in the third inning. Valbuena also had one of many fine defensive plays the Cubs made on the afternoon.

First Star-Jake Arrieta (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K)
Arrieta is becoming automatic at this point, and he earned every bit of this honor on a personally meaningful game. Would like the future to hold games that are more meaningful for the Chicago Cubs, but in the dog days of summer this was a nice treat.

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  • fb_avatar

    was pretty fun to follow the comments on CamdenChat, most of them assuming this was the same Arrieta, the same Strop and the same Cubs they remember from last year, just waiting for the inevitable collapse. Also some dismay at Cubs defense. Maybe we should introduce ourselves....

  • What a sweet win for the Cubs! Arrieta really looks like a true ace. The younsters Javy and Mendy both making big contributions. Then there is super-sub Luis V, along with Rondon closing it out. All of these players could play a huge role in the Cubs future. I'm totally psyched. This is a perfect win.

  • fb_avatar

    It's been a roller coaster with Baez. But man, when he connects it is fun to watch. Arrieta is money! Castillo: I'm not upset the Cubs didn't sign him. But I also hope it is not a sign the Red Sox (or Yankees) will outbid the Cubs for Lester. It wouldn't be fun to watch the BoSox "rebuild" in one year - like a big market team - while Cubs fans have to hope Bosio can help Turner pull it together.

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    In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    The Red Sox brought back the bigger part of a core that won a World Championship last year; they're "supposed" to compete every year with their homegrown talent combined with major league payroll. They have been an extreme disappointment two of the last 3 years, and even having to rebuild at all should be considered a total failure. They're theoretically where we hope the Cubs will be in 2-3 years, which is sort of a state of competing indefinitely. Heads might roll in Boston at some point soon if they can't right the ship.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that where you see a potential fast rebuild, I see a team just shy of disarray.

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    In reply to Nathan King:

    They may have been an extreme disappointment two of three years, but they won the World Series the other year. So I'd take that. I support what the Cubs are doing. I think they've been smart. I'd just be disappointed if the Cubs offer Lester $120m, and the Red Sox offer him $150m. I hope not signing Castillo indicates that the Cubs are either confident in their prospects or not convinced he's worth the money. I hope it doesn't mean they are cheap or unable to compete financially with the big spending teams.

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    In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    I'll take that first world series but after that I'm getting greedy!

  • fb_avatar

    Can you imagine if while we were wrapping up the Feldman deal, asking "are you sure we can't have Gausman?"

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    I still like Gausman, probably even over Arrieta, but the Orioles have gotta be wondering where are the K's? He can't face the Cubs every time.

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    In reply to Nathan King:

    Yeah, I agree.

    Didn't mean it as a criticism of Gausman's future but the results from Arrieta thus far ertain;y must have some O's fans (and staff) frustrated.

  • In reply to Nathan King:

    You really got to wonder, Nate. Arrieta has made no secret he had philosophical differences with Os pitching coach Rick Adair. Who knows, maybe Gausman may have some of the same differences.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    It probably doesn't help that Adair was the fourth of five pitching coaches Showalter has had in Baltimore. Kind of makes you appreciate the continuity the Cubs have had going from Rothschild to Bosio.

  • While I am glad Arrietta and Stropp pitched well, I hardly doubt that is considered revenge that Baltimore cares about. They are in first place by 8 games and 20 games above .500.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    They are a solid club. I caught part of their series with the Sox. I agree, they are thinking about October.

  • Great stuff, Gunther...

    Wonderful game today. Javy looks smooth as can be as a SS. Super defense from our IF all day long. Arrieta was nails again!!! Smooth(ish) closeouts on the back end.

    Relieved to see AA get a big knock. Had to feel good for the kid. He's playing really well in CF.

  • I haven't really given Watkins much of chance to stick with us. Maybe he will, maybe he won't... but how does he not get a star today with 2 spectacular defensive plays and what amounted to the game winning RBI?

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Tough calls on the stars today since it seemed like every infielder had a great defensive play or two, and Valbuena/Baez had bombs so I gave the nod to them.

  • In reply to Gunther Dabynsky:

    No, you weren't wrong... just don't know how many days like that Logan will have....lol

  • Loved this quote from Arrieta on Baez:

    "You want to see every one of that kid's at-bats," Arrieta said of Baez. "It's starting to get to the point, even though it's so early in his career, that nothing surprises me with what he does at the plate. Everyone knows when he connects with that swing, he'll hit it a long way. I don't know if many of his home runs will touch the seats here, honestly."

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Thanks for sharing that quote.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Waveland or bust?

  • Arrietta and Stropp were traded away in Baltimore's attempt to make the post season a year ago and now they are two of our most important pieces in our launch and Feldman got financial security from the Astros . . . We got better and Feldman got paid.

    We are so close that we may not finish in the bottom ten this year.

    September is going to interesting. I'd imagine Hendricks will be shut down soon to open up a spot so we should get a look at Turner and Straily.

  • In reply to since1970:

    Re Hendricks: I expect so, too, understandably and regrettably. I like watching him pitch. Looking forward to seeing him today.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Re: shutting down Hendricks. I kind of doubt it. The development of young arms -- as long as they are healthy, and it seems his is the picture of health -- demands progressively adding innings to each young pitcher's annual total so they can endure a 162-game ML season. So far this year, Hendricks has thrown 150 innings between Iowa and Chicago. Last year, he set a career mark by throwing 166 innings. This was up nearly 20 innings from the previous season. So if one assumes a similar increase in innings for the season, we are looking at maybe 185 innings total. He has probably 5 starts left. If he averages 7 innings per start (which would assume not one clunker start in there), he'll top out this year at 185 innings.

    So it behooves the Cubs to let him make every start possible so that he can build on last season and set him up for next year when, hopefully, he establishes himself with a full season in the majors and hopefully approach or surpass 200 innings.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Agreed, if anyone is shut down early (other than injury) it E-Jax & T Wood.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    Thanks. That will teach me to look at the numbers before posting!

  • In reply to since1970:

    Hey since1970, they have already opened a spot for Turner (Jackson's on the DL) but I do think in September they are going to rotate Doubrant in there for 4 or 5 starts as well. What I think will be interesting in September is will Olt,Lake & Soler get the majority of (I would like to see Watkins get some more AB's in September) the AB's instead of Valbuena,Ruggiano & Coughlan. I hope they can trade Sweeney this week he is hot right now and would help a playoff team (I don't think he will be here next year anyway).

    I like our bench next year of Coughlan,Ruggiano,Valbuena, a veteran catcher & maybe Watkins. I think if we can sign Melky Cabrera, Jon Lester & maybe Dionnar Navarro this is a playoff team.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    I think a lineup to start next year of
    cf alcantera
    ss castro
    1b rizzo
    2b baez
    lf cabrera
    rf soler
    3b olt (with bryant in waiting)
    c castillo
    will score some runs.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    With Soler and Bryant coming up soon and probably taking the two corner OF positions, we don't need Melky. I do agree we should sign a pitcher like Lester this off season. Navarro is not good defensively. I would prefer Martin as the vet bat signed.

  • In reply to John57:

    I hope you are right and we don't need Cabrera, but with all of these rookies we will need that veteran hitter and left handed as well (the FO has already said they are going to add some veteran hitters). Besides Bryant doesn't go to the OF until Addison Russel proves he is ready or Olt turns it around. I would sign a left handed bat behind the plate to play once or twice a week not another righty like Martin.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to bleachercreature:

    Navarro is under contract with Toronto for 2015,not a free agent until the 2016 season. The pickings are mighty slim for F.A. catchers,we want a decent back up or front line catching then a trade is in order.

  • I've never been a big Watkins fan, but maybe next season he can serve as a cheaper version of Valbuena. He looked good in the field today, can play multiple positions, and he'll be a lot cheaper than Valbuena will be next year.

  • After watching the Cubs broadcast on MLB.tv of Baez's homer, I decided to check out the Oriole broadcast of the homer. Gary Thorne & Jim Palmer are there team. Thorne said he had spoken to a scout about the Cubs farm system and was told that the Cubs do not have a single pitching prospect who will make a significant impact in the major leagues. They quickly backed off a bit and mentioned Hendricks. Then Palmer started commenting on Baez. He said he might have the quickest swing he's ever seen. But he felt that Baez was over swinging. He said, "You might get away with that in the minor leagues, but I don't think its going to work the the majors." Baez promptly deposited the ball on Waveland!

  • In reply to AggBat:

    And it was his only hit and left 3
    Guys on base. I guess I expected him and AA to hit better then the low .200. Makes nervous.

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    It makes me nervous too. But don't you just get the sense watching Baez that he's something special? I do. I'm really happy they called him up this year and are giving him time to adjust.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Yes he has unreal power WHEN he connects and plays a solid SS/2b. I just feel like for cubs to be successful in this day and age you need guys with speed and a good contact hitting team with low strike outs. I would sacrifice a few hrs to raise avg into the .280s

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    If he forces pitchers into the zone more with a better approach, I think he can raise the average without sacrificing the HR's.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Back in mid-May when he was struggling in Iowa, there were people setting his ETA at September 2015. I'm also happy to see him up. The defense is better than I expected. He has to slow down the game at the plate.

  • In reply to Greggie Jackson:

    I am no expert but he battled during the at bat which resulted in that home run. Layed off a few as well. It will be scary when that happens more consistantly.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Mendy might hitting into a little bad luck along with making adjustments. His BABIP is only .276 and in the minors he ranged from .332-.380. He's striking out a bit more (27.3% vs. 22.7% in AAA) too. But I think he'll start hitting again and next year I could see him hitting .270 or .280 though I guess we'll see.

    As many here have said, it takes Baez a couple of months to figure things out at a new level. It may even take him a little longer at the MLB level, but I think he'll be just fine and contribute a ton of those monster HRs.

    All that being said, I'd love to see one or both go on a tear.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    AA has always struggled at ev ery level when he first came up, just like Baez has. AA has always adjusted at every level so far. I wouldnt be too surprised to see AA be a 260-270 hitter with a 330 plus OBP and 10-15 HRs next year, and about 20sbs. The kid is an athlete.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Don't forget Tulowitzki had a very mediocre Stat line in 06. He got called up and for 8 weeks hit in the low .200 range. Tulo even mentioned as few weeks ago how August was a great time to get called up and not start as a rookie in April. It got his feet wet and he was able to make the necessary adjustments and he tore it up in 07.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Give the guy time,.... he's only been a ML-level player, playing against ML-level pitching like 16-17 games. He's already hit 5 HR, Driven in 9 runs, scored 10 runs, and played a fairly clean 2B and (now) SS defensively. Yes the K-rate slightly north of 40% is a concern,.... but he'll get it together.

    Even if he 'only' ever ends up a 0.250 BA hitter with an OBP somewhat over 0.300 and 25-30% Ks,.... he's going to be a special one - especially as a 2B or SS defensively.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    This is what I saw from Javy-baby yesterday.

    1st: long fly out one 2-1 count, that he got a little under on.
    3rd: popped out on a 3-2 pitch with 2 out and 2 on, but this was a 9-pitch AB. The results may not have been what we liked, but how can you not like the approach?
    5th: bye-bye baseball
    7th: K vs. RP

    Yes, he may wear a golden sombrero today, but I do not see how one can really complain about him from Friday's game.

    I think he approach overall has improved since he was called up. Baby steps. I'm not worried, it's still too early.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Baez is averaging 1hr/13abs . at that rate he'll have about 12 by seasons end. Not too shabby for a quarter of the season.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Not making judgement based on 1 game. He has had quite a few games like this. I just don't like his average or his strikeout rate no matter how many Hr he hits. Can't free swing all the time.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Ok, but you started your post with "and it was his only hit and he left 3 guys on base", referring to yesterday's game

    My point was that is that he is tempering - at least trying to - his "free swinging ways". He saw 17 or 18 pitches yesterday and had two 3-2 counts, in his 2nd and 3rd ABs. That certainly cannot be called "free-swinging."

    Sure, we would all like him to do what he did yesterday (seeing pitches/improved approach) more consistently. And I would like a few less 3-outcome ABs. I think it will come. There was a bit on ESPN Chicago where Javy said that he recognized his issues with the high fastballs and spent some time in the cage Thursday working on it. That is enough for me not to get worried at this point.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Just because you take 17 or 18 pitches, you can still be a free swinger. He has the same swing no matter what the count is. Of those 3 balls how many were pretty obvious? I would like to see him shorten up his swing in certain situations. You know the meaning of free swinger?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    If you mean that you want Baez to choke up on the bat and slap the ball the other way it will NEVER happen...but he doesn't need to do that...The kid has unreal bat speed, and can not just get to any ball around the strike zone, but crush it with authority. He will adjust, and chase less high heat, and balls low and outside...once he does that, he will get hitter counts and make pitchers pay....He will NOT change what has gotten him here in the first place and what makes him such a special hitter.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    I want him to put ball in play. Instead of trying to lift every ball to the moon. I just want to see line drives sprayed all over. When you get behind in the count you have to change your approach. You can have all the bat speed in the world but if you don't make contact what good is it? He needs to do something to make a adjustment as you claim.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    @WaitTilNextYear... I think we all just need to accept the fact that you don't like Javy Baez as a ball player. Accept the fact, that short of being something he is not... you will not approve. He is doing what made him one of the top prospects in the game. Doing what got him to the MLB. But he will never be what you want him to be.

    If you're patient, you will see a more complete hitter. A hitter capable of hitting .300+ with a 7-8% BB ratio and still slug 35+ HR's. But that player isn't likely to surface until late next year at the soonest and he will likely always have a 25% K ratio. Somehow, I suspect even that won't meet your approval.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    This is how Baez performs every single time he's promoted to a new level. The HR are actually a bit of a surprise. Far too soon to be worried.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Ok. I just get nervous when his avg is down in the low .200. Hope you guys are right. Baez is such a key part of the future.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Mike please explain to me why Baez has to make an adjustment to lay off the fastball at eye level. He has been told to lay off that pitch since he was a little kid. Why the need to adjust to something he should have corrected as a 12 year old.? I can understand needing to adjust to the pitch sequence he might fast from different starting pitchers, but the need to "adjust" to a face high fastball...huh? Am I missing something?

  • In reply to AggBat:

    Actually, he hasn't been told that at all. I've watched him play since his early teens. This is the first time opposing pitchers have been able to throw a high FB by him consistently. He never needed an approach, because of his raw talent. This kid hit .741BA in HS.

    That's why they began working with him and his approach last year in Daytona. He's young, it's less than 20 games into his MLB career, chill out...

    How can you ask him to be more patient at the plate, if you or other fans can be patient enough to give him a few months at the MLB level to get comfortable?

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I AGREE! It amazes me how impatient fans can get. Baez is 21 and hasn't even played 20 games, like you said. Not even talking about his once in a generation talent (bat speed), his intangibles ooze out of him, just like Almora, another guy people are losing patience with. I hope fans give Baez the rest of this year and next to adjust and figure it out....because he will!

  • In reply to David23:

    Most had written Soler off... now he's a God again. Oh no wait, he had to adjust to AAA pitching too. Look how quick they turned on Castro after 3 plus plus seasons... On the flip side, many were calling Junior Lake an everyday piece of the core, despite a scouting profile that screamed raw tools and 4th/5th OF'r. They also called T Wood a legit #3 after last year... now they want to trade him away...

    It's very much a "what have you done for me lately" or "instant gratification" world we live in. Frustrated Cubs fans seem to have that magnified. These kids are in a bubble. Every mistake or failure is magnified. And Baseball is a game of failures.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Well put Hoosier.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Just because we are worried doesn't make one impatient and certainly haven't turned on Baez. That is strong words. Or nobody has written him off. Comparing him to a God is a little insane. I know from my perspective I am just concerned about avg and strikeout rate.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    you're worried about the smallest of sample sizes. His first 17 games...

    Do yourself a favor and go back and look at how many successful MLB players sucked in their first stint or very early on. Then go look at how Baez has dominated every level of competition once he made the adjustments. And then you'll see how silly nitpicking this kids first few weeks in the MLB are.

    I'm not saying we shouldn't be worried. I'm saying voicing them now is a bit premature. Javier is very much what everyone thought he was and will be. It's going to take some time, but you're looking at a ceiling of a .300 hitter with 35+ bombs at SS/2B. Last I checked, those guys don't grow on trees and they don't step into MLB at age 21 as a finished product.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    You are blowing up what people mean about being nervous. No one has said bench him or send to AAA. Has it been short time? Yes but one can still be nervous cause I want him to be that guy to anchor the middle of line up more then anything. In my eyes he is the most important prospect to come up! I know that is debatable too. Don't read more into it. As far as the super stars struggled when first came up. That is easy to say after the fact.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Don't take this so personally. While you have made it clear you're worried, you've also said you're willing to wait. Others have gone so far to predict his demise.

    But even so, voicing concerns at this stage is premature. I don't see the point in it, unless posting that on here somehow makes you feel better.

    While it is "easy to say after the fact" as you say; the sheer volume of successful MLB players that sucked in their first 18 games should at the very least provide you some level of security that judging a player or voicing concerns over their first couple of weeks is pointless. How foolish do you think those fans feel over complaining about Rizzo's MLB debut in SD?

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I am cool with how I feel. You just seem very defensive. But if that makes you feel better. Bottom line know one knows. You cant say he is gonna be a stud. We just don't know. That is what makes a lot if ppl nervous and based on cub history it is understandable. I am sure the Red Sox feel bad for trading rizzo but that is part if the game. Glad rizzo has had a bounce back season but what rizzo will we get next year???? That can make a big difference of how successful the cubs can be. Also look at the top prospect that have come up and not lived up to it.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Very well said Hoosier D

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Interesting. I'll be patient.

  • In reply to AggBat:

    Their is a HUGE difference in knowing what needs to be done and doing it...As I said in a prior post, "little leaguer's" and "12 year olds" aren't facing the best pitchers in the world with 95 MPH heat, that moves all over the place, and that you have a split second to react to. He is a 21 year old kid breaking into the majors when other prospects his age are in A+/AA ball.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    @hooser. I think it is ridiculous how you know exactly what I like or turn something into not liking him. Sign of weakness. I love
    Baez and know how important he is to the cubs. I want him to do great. Interesting to see you flip flop. I would be happy if hit .300 and 30 hrs. Thanks for the sarcasm. Let's go Javier!!!!

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Baez could hit .300. He could also be a .250 hitter with a .290 OBP. Even so, he'd still likely hit twice as many HRs as the next 2nd baseman, and even have a +800 OPS. Those numbers would make him very valuable to the Cubs. Especially when Rizzo and Bryant are likely to be the types of hitters you want. Just another way to think of it.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    I would be happy if he was hitting .250. It not like I expect him to be a triple crown winner this year. I would be ok if he was .250 and hit 30 hrs for the next 10 yrs.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    RE: "I would be happy if he was hitting .250"

    Wow. He is hitting .218 in 78 at bats! That's 17 hits in 78 at bats. That means that TWO more hits and he would be hitting .244, THREE more hits and he would be hitting .256....that's why you don't make a big deal about average for such small sample sizes....oh and by the way, out of those 17 hits, seven of them have been Homeruns and two of them doubles...for a slugging% of .513.

  • In reply to Ghost Dawg:

    Fair point and good math skills. 3 more hits gets him to .250 which is more respectable and looks better then the .218. The strikeout are extremely high tho. Does your point apply for slug %???

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I'm just going off the fact that for the last 2 days, all you've done is complain about his swing and approach. When you start saying something new. then maybe I'll reconsider how you feel. But for now, that's all you've communicated.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    After today I am sold you are right. 1-4 with a homer which is .250. Never mind the 3 strikes. When you say something new to convince me that my concern is overly worried then I'll listen. Time will tell

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Sounds like an echo....

    After today, I am sold you're right. A .769 OPS in his first 19 games is incredibly worrisome. He's obviously a bust and I can think of nothing else to do with my life except obsess over Javier's approach. The fear is so great, we should just end it all...

    Let's make a suicide pact! You go first ;)

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    31 strikeouts in 74 at bats and only 16 hits doesn't make you a little nervous? Any time try to explain my view you turn it into your humor. I guess when you run out of info turn to a classless suicide joke. If you can't stick to info or facts then don't respond to me.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    31 strikeouts in 74 at bats and only 16 hits doesn't make you a little nervous? Any time I try to explain my view you turn it into your humor. I guess when you run out of info turn to a classless suicide joke. If you can't stick to info or facts then don't respond to me.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Dude, chill. With some consistency, you turn to making things personal, calling people weak and overreacting. This is just baseball talk. No one has to agree with you. Your opinion is your's and you get to have it no matter what anyone else says.

    I agree with the concerns you have. I think we all do. The only thing Hoosier is saying is that it's such a small sample size, Baez has shown the ability to adjust at every level, and there are so many other examples of good hitters struggling in their first 20+ games, that the concerns are somewhat meaningless at this point. I see no sarcasm in what he's written and nothing resembling personal statements about you.

    Let's keep this civil and about baseball, please.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I respect everyone's opinion and listen to them. But when a reader over reacts to me being nervous and takes it to a level of me bashing a player needs to chill. Or accuses me of never being satisfied with his performance is putting words into mouth. When a responder tells me how I feel about a player...where is that baseball talk? When a person gets sarcastic in return. That is a weakness. I will be worried til he starts cutting back on the K's. Thanks for your view

  • fb_avatar

    Don't read too much into it. Teams all have a scouting report on these two now. Their weaknesses are being exposed They still need to adjust. Some people think I am too patient, but I want to give these guys at least a 300-400 PAs before evaluating, especially since they are both very young. Most 21-22 year olds struggle in their first exposure to MLB pitching. Not everyone is going to be Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. Much more often they are like Dustin Pedroia and Mike Schmidt and struggle when first exposed to MLB pitching.

  • If the Cubs only sign one player this off-season, it should be Russell Martin. A TOR arm would help every 5 days but Martin would improve the performance of the entire staff. Of course, both would be better yet. Baez has impressed me, he doesn't cave and lose confidence from a bad game. He just keeps swingin'. He'll adjust and take more walks as he acclimates. Nice to see this club giving the top teams fits.

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    In reply to wastrel:

    I was about to wonder how much Martin has left in those knees, but then I looked him up. He's only 31? It somehow seems to me he's been playing since they pitched underhand.

    He's caught a LOT of innings, but he's still younger than Molina; I could definitely get on board with this.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Russell Martin has been my pick for a veteran bat to inject into this team for a little bit now as well.

  • In reply to Gunther Dabynsky:

    Martins been a winner everywhere hes played. His pitch framing has made the likes of Francisco Liriano and Edison Volquez better pitchers. Imagine what he can do with Kyle Hendricks?

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    The only thing I worry about is given his production this year is the contract that a 30+ catcher is going to receive. I could see him getting a deal that becomes a problem quickly, but if the Cubs are truly looking for a veteran everyday player than Martin would check a number of boxes.

  • In reply to Gunther Dabynsky:

    Do you really think they will give up on Castillo as an everyday catcher and sign Martin? I think they are committed to Castillo a bit longer. Although, I'd prefer Martin.

  • In reply to AggBat:

    I don't know what they will do, but they (FO) has talked about needing veteran leaders who play everyday. They've hedged a bit by saying Rizzo and Castro could be those guys, but the spots to put that veteran leader are dwindling with each call up. Cubs could still use an outfielder at this point in time since it seems Bryant will be able to handle 3B for a bit at least, but the decline in production at the catcher spot is a sore spot to me. The plan in my head would be that you could lessen the load on Martin (hopefully extend his career behind the plate a bit in the process) by keeping Castillo and having a 100-60 type split between the two. Would the Cubs do it? I would be surprised to be honest, but I am open to being pleasantly surprised.

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    In reply to wastrel:

    I'm with you on this. A player like Martin we could probably get for less than half what a TOR starter would cost (maybe even 1/3 or less). Especially if we can do a 2 year deal at $15M with a 3rd year option for $9M or something like that. It would give us some time to sort out what we have for catchers in our lower minor leagues and he could potentially mentor 1 or 2 of them. We would also still have the financial flexibility to sign other players if needed the following off-season when we will be even closer to contention. We don't even need him to be a major offensive force. Even if he regresses to his normal mid-upper-90's OPS+ he could be a solid asset with his defense.

  • I don't get the everyday player vs. once every 5 days argument. A starting pitcher is just as valuable as a position player. WAR suggests so, and it's also good to think about times at bat, times facing a batter. A starting pitcher is instrumental in 20-30 at bats per game. A starting position player 5, plus a little involvement on defense (admittedly, more for a catcher).

  • In reply to TokyoCraig:

    It's not "everyday player," it's specifically a catcher, one who is expert at pitch-framing and calling a game. A catcher is involved in more at-bats per game than any pitcher except one who goes the distance.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Fair enough. Catcher is indeed important. You make a good point.

    I'd still prefer a TOR arm this offseason. I'm not sure the improvement over Castillo would be worth as much as a great starting pitcher.

  • In reply to TokyoCraig:

    I'm selfish and want to add both a catcher and TOR arm.

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    In reply to TokyoCraig:

    I'm not sure a TOR arm would be worth the extra cost, though.

    http://viewfromthebleachers.com/blog/2014/08/19/should-the-cubs-pass-on-signing-an-ace-this-off-season/

    This might be a less expensive way to get more wins with lower risk of injury since if a lesser player gets hurt he is more easily replaced.

  • Is it just me or is Baez just barely missing on connecting squarely on those home runs? It looks as though he's just enough to send them over the wall but not around Saturn yet.

  • In reply to edubbs:

    I agree. He's hit some impressive HRs, but I'm not sure that he's completely destroyed one yet. He's fouled some pitches straight back where, if he completely squared them up, they might've gone into orbit lol. I'd like to see him square up a 95+ MPH fastball and see how far it goes. He might literally hit the cover off the ball someday.

  • In reply to edubbs:

    That just shows the ridiculous amount of power Baez has where we can say with a straight face that he hasn't gotten all of one yet but his two Wrigley home runs have ended up on Waveland.

  • "[Arrieta] hasn't moved into that ace category for me." Gunther, how refreshingly realistic comment about Arrieta. He is doing great despite the late start to his season, and to not call him an ace is no slight. Truth is, even when Arrieta is at his best and pitching to a near minimum of hitters, he still can't reach the end of the 7th inning without throwing 100 pitches -- the pitch limit that his team is comfortable with given their understanding of his arm health.

    So to "criticize" Arrieta for not being an ace is no insult. Just realistic. An ace must have the potential to pitch his team into the 8th and 9th inning every time out. Arrieta hasn't recorded a 9th inning out in his entire major league career. That's right. NOT ONE. And only once has he pitched a full 8 innings. He'll be 29 next year. Why people expect him to suddenly develop this rare ace ability seems wildly optimistic. But let's be happy to have a very strong No. 3 pitcher. If he can prove himself good enough to some day pitch more than 200 innings in a season, he might even jump into the No. 2 category. But since he's never pitched more than 180 innings in a season, let's avoid any premature expectations and leave room to be pleasantly surprised.

  • In reply to SkitSketchJeff:

    I think that's a pretty candid and realistic assessment of Jake. The big knock on him prior to this year has been consistent command. That's limited his success. This year though, he's proven that he can be consistent. So he still has some upside. If he can maintain that into next year, I can see him becoming more efficient. That would make him a legit TOR stud. Maybe not an ACE, but a solid #2.

    Either way he's a good find for us. But we need someone else on our staff to challenge him for the opening day nod next year.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Agreed. Rooting for our players need not be an all-or-nothing proposition. It shouldn't be they are either all potential superstars/aces or crap. Let's look at them the same way our great front office does: can they realistically help us get to a World Series, and if they can't, how can they help us get the pieces that can help us get there. That's what they did with Samardzija, Marshall, Hammel, Feldman and Maholm. They also very craftily managed Garza's arm health to maximize his trade value.

  • Took a few minutes to analyze the Cubs' offense this morning.

    Broadly speaking, the biggest issue has been that our hitters have been terrible when it comes to hitting with RISP -- we rank second to last in the majors with a .223 average.

    But there's an even more fundamental problem: We're not getting guys on base. Our OB% is also second to last. For a front office that prioritizes this statistic, that's very disappointing.

    If you want to look at the bright side of things, consider that for most of this year we've had hitters in our lineup who are nearly automatic outs -- Baker, Barney, Lake, Olt, Kalish and worst of all, Schierholtz, who was bogging down the middle of our order. Counting the pitcher, at any given time, half the Cubs' lineup was offensively impotent. As a result, why give hittable pitches to guys like Rizzo and Castro?

    The lack of production from catcher, CF and RF has devastated the lineup. Part of it was Castillo being out for three weeks in June. But if Alcantara and Soler can perform in 2015, or even if they get us up to league average at those spots, then the combination of a full year with Baez, plus Bryant will balance out the lineup. Suddenly, Castro and Rizzo will get more pitches to hit. The hitting with RISP has got to inch back toward the mean. And our young players have all shown that they become more selective as they age, so we'll be drawing more walks, which should help our OB%. This could become an elite offense, practically overnight.

  • In reply to Taft:

    Aye, we've been playing with half a line- up all season.

  • Arrieta has 20 starts this year. In 12 of them, hes allowed 1 or 0 runs. Thats at least a #2 starter right there.60% of his starts hes put his team in good position to win. Realistically, Jake should have at least 10 wins so far.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    Our pitchers have done well overall. If the offense was average they all would have more wins. But help is coming, and coming fast. :)

  • In reply to John57:

    Actually since the trade deadline has cooled down around the end of July the Cubs are 15-10 and have only lost 1 series and of those 10 losses I think EJax has started 5 of them. I think except for the Rockies all of these games have been against playoff teams. This team is going to hit better next year and if you could trade Lester for EJax lookout.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Good point. We are playing better already. And it is going to get even better.

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    Still beating the drum over here that I think Castro might get traded this winter. Everyone here seems to think that signing Lester is a forgone conclusion. Maybe...... Maybe not. But I just can't see putting all of our eggs in that basket.

    HoosierDaddy made a great point a few days ago. He said something about how many years and at what price will it take to land Lester. We have to know that Lester is going to want security and that means a 6 or 7 year contract. We also know that the Cubs can probably afford a 7 year/ $175M deal to land Lester. So what's the problem? How effective is Lester in year 5-7 of those deals?

    We have also seen that Baez looks good at both SS and 2B. So I think Castro and his team friendly contract along with his current top value is used to land 2 TOR type of pitchers. I also think Olt and/or Lake are used to help sweeten such a deal. Both Olt and Lake are probably blocked from being long term solutions and take up spots on the 40 man roster.

    I'm leaning towards Seattle being the trade partner with us landing both Walker and Paxton. I have the Mets also being a nice trade partner but difficult to get a deal done due to their GM overvaluing his players.

    The start of next season has Baez playing SS until Russell is ready. At which time I see Russell at SS and Baez at 2B. Watkins, Valaika or Valbuena can fill in at 2B until then.

    Alcantara continues out in CF until Almora is ready in about 2 years. Bryant locks down 3B. I really thought Bryant would move to the OF but I see no indication that this FO is looking to move him and then he went out and won the best defensive 3B in the PCL award. We see Soler in RF as a lock.

    But more importantly we have some solid pitching with Lester, Arrieta, Walker, Paxton as our top 4 starters long term. Don't get me wrong. This is not a trade Castro because he sux idea. But more of a this makes the Cubs extremely strong offensively and have one of the top pitching staffs in all of baseball idea.

    You guys can curse me out now......

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    I don't see them shopping Castro this offseason. If someone knocks their socks off well then I guess he is traded.

    As for Lester I think he will get fantastic money where ever he goes. I also read he wants to go somewhere that he will feel good and getting the most money is not his #1 priority. So if he is comfortable dealing with Theo, he just might end up here for less than his top offer from the Yankees. But if he does come here, he still will get a lot of money.

    As for Bryant getting the best defensive 3B award in the PCL, that is him beating some minor leaguers. He will not beat any of our elite SS. I still see him moving to a corner OF position.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    If the Cubs go this route and get two TOR arms by dealing Castro, then Travis Wood could be traded along with Castro, or in a separate deal. He still has value. I could see the Cubs adding Olt or Lake and Wood for the two TOR arms and a good prospect in High A or AA (like Mckinney). They could probably get even more since Castro and Wood are All-Stars pre-prime, but you get my thinking. I'd like to keep Kyle Hendricks and put him at the back of the rotation.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Bocabobby,

    I usually find you to be a reasonable man, but do actually think the Mariners would trade both Paxton & Walker for Castro, even with Olt and Lake tossed in? That's a bit ambious.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Skaggs going down recently with TJ surgery made me nervous about trading for young pitching in the off-season. Maybe an over-reaction, but I would prefer to sign an established arm rather than trade. I would prefer to keep those bullets for in-season moves.

    I have wondered though what the effect of Castro's bereavement leave might have, just like Barney's pappa permission seemingly opened the door for Alcantara. Baez probably never would have seen time at SS if not for the tragedy in Castro's family. Does the fact that Baez seems to be handling SS without any issues change some minds?

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    No, I've always felt Baez could handle SS as well as Castro. Even last year at Daytona when he made a ridiculous amount of errors. Even though this FO has publicly said that they felt Baez could stick at SS and would leave him as long as possible... they made it clear that Castro was their MLB SS.

    I don't think that has changed at all. They're not going ot shop any of these guys. Teams will come calling, for sure. Media will speculate and spread rumors... but unless someone absolutely blows us away with an offer for Castro, he aint going anywhere. He'll be our starting SS when he returns from bereavement leave and will be starting @ SS for us in 2015...

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    This is why I kind of hope Castro is traded because it will only happen if the Cubs are blown away with an offer. Imagine what that could look like....

  • In reply to David23:

    I know what you mean. I always hope I win the Lotto, though I've never actually bought a ticket. FWIW, I believe my chances of winning the Lotto are only marginally smaller....

    I really think this FO likes what they have in Castro. He's worked hard to improve his weaknesses and has stepped up as a leader on this team. He's worth more to us than he is anyone else. Because of that, I doubt they meet the asking price.

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    What I like about Castro with this line up is he can be a table setter. Castro is a singles and doubles guy. You need those types of hitters in front of rizzo and Baez or it will be a lot of solo shots. Castro is gonna be flirting around .300 for his career.

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    That's pretty much how I see it too. Bryant sticks at third and Castro is traded. And just like you, it is not because Castro sucks (he doesn't), but because it lets the team add pitching. But time will tell.

  • In reply to Cubs Win 009:

    Why is Castro you trade candidate. Seems to me Baez has a more friendly team control than Castro does for the next 6 years. Are you trading Castro for prospects/suspects or ML performing arms. Castro will never hit as many homers as Baez nor strike out as much. If your trade for prospects, I would think Baez is a better fit.

    Do you expect to get more for Castro than Baez? If so, that would make sense. Hopefully you think the cubs get more for Castro, if not, I don't think the trade of Castro makes sense.

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    In reply to stix:

    You would get a better package for Castro because he is established in the major leagues. And Castro's contract makes him very attractive to other teams.

    I also never said that the Cubs would be actively shopping Castro. But there are many teams out there that need a SS. And unless you are ready to give up way more than what the Cubs are asking in return the only other impact type of SS out there is Tulo.

    Good luck trying to pry Tulo away from that Colorado ownership...

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    I wouldn't want to trade Baez, because it is almost impossible to find a 2nd baseman who can hit 40+ home runs. Castro is already a very good player. But the upside for Baez is a superstar. Of course, he's more of a risk, too. Hopefully, trading Castro could land more than a prospect, but players who are ready to contribute immediately. Also, there is already a replacement for Castro (i.e., Russell). It is very, very rare for a team to trade a top five prospect, which is what the A's gave the Cubs. I think I am in the minority in believing that Castro will be traded. Most people seem to think the Bryant will go to the OF and Russell, Baez, and Castro will all play the infield. That wouldn't be bad either. To me, trading Castro didn't make sense until the Cubs got Russell. But now it does.

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