I Don't Know About You But I Feel Like A Stick Of Double Spearmint Gum - Sox 1 - Cubs 0

Well that was new for this year. While the Cubs have found all sorts of infuriating ways with the bats to come up short in games this year, ending the first four innings on double plays was a card they hadn't turned over yet. Certainly unique, and I for one am impressed that they were able to show the variety that they did in doing it. Once they knocked that out they let the home plate ump Dan Belino to basically snow the Cubs under in the rest of the innings. And if that wasn't enough, then rotten luck reared its ugly head. All made for a lovely afternoon, didn't it?

Let's get through this in no particular order, shall we?

-I'm always amazed at not just how much these games mean to White Sox fans (because their whole identity is essentially tied up in being anti-Cubs, as we certainly know it's not about going out and supporting their team at the Cell), but how that trickles down to their players. The Sox have been an abhorrent defensive team this season. Jeff Samardzija has been close to manslaughter on several occasions this season after watching the grounders he forces dribble into the outfield, and no jury would have ever convicted him. But put them at Wrigley and there they are diving all over the infield to make plays, including one to end the game. I assure you if those same balls are hit in Jacobs Field, Alexei Ramirez and Carlos Sanchez merely wave as they roll by.

-Speaking of which, Soler absolutely scorched three balls today. He got one hit out of it, and even that had to overpower Carlos Rodon's glove. His BABIP is going to correct at some point, and the results should be groin-grabbingly satisfying.

-I generally refrain from complaining about refs or umpires, because both teams have to play the game with them. But the aforementioned Belino was simply awful today, and it hurt the Cubs more because the Sox were all striking out hacking and whacking and missing by at least a foot on Hendricks all day. Meanwhile, the Cubs seemed intent on taking advantage of Rodon's wildness, but a fat lot of good it did when pitches six inches to a foot off the corners were called strikes. Dexter Fowler might break out the whole Joy Division discography tonight.

-Good lord is that Sox offense awful. Yeah yeah, they won the game, but it took a botched HBP call (he swung at the pitch), and then a botched stolen base call for them to scratch out even one run. And I seriously won't be surprised if that's the only run they manage all weekend.

-Speaking of which, I was under the impression that even if you didn't have a challenge left, after the sixth inning you could "suggest" the umps look at a play if it's questionable. So where was the review of Bonifacio's steal? Explain why we don't just have a guy in the pressbox with monitors who can radio down again?

-Though why Maddon wasted his challenge on what was clearly a catch is another debate. I don't want to be too harsh on Hendricks for his wonky baserunning, but if he's honed in on third than Gary Jones has to be screaming at him to get back to second. Did he not know it was a catch? Sorry, watched the game in a bar on mute. Worst case the Cubs should have had two on with Rizzo and Bryant coming up.

-On the good side, Hendricks was once again brilliant, though it's not hard against that squad. He appears to be honing a Maddux comeback cutter against lefties, and I always wondered how he would get inside on them to be more effective. He has no problem doing so with righties, as he broke three bats today.

-I'm trying to think of the last time Starlin Castro hit a ball solidly in the air. I know I saw it. Maybe it was a dream. Felt so real though.

-The Cubs drew seven walks and didn't score. That's not easy to do.

-Rodon was wildly effective I guess, because it's hard for the batter to know where it's going if the pitcher doesn't. That slider is pretty wicked, though.

-I saw a lot of people panicking that the Cubs now have to beat Sale to win the series. Um, teams have won games against him before. Trust me, it's happened. And seeing as how the Sox really shouldn't be good for any more than two runs, it shouldn't be such a mountain.

Onwards.

 

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  • Our offense stinks.

    I'll say it again. We do not need pitching.

    This team as currently constructed cannot score runs.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    You were wrong before and you're wrong now. Repeating it doesn't make it true. It's not about 2015. The hitting will come around and will be supplemented by prospects from the minors. The pitching is as good as it's going to get and has benefited from some luck in the 4-5 starter slots.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    My opinion of what this team needs is not wrong. Thanks.

    How do those 8 shutouts and 23rd in runs scored look?

    Got get Hamels and still lose 1-0.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Those 8 shutouts and 23rd in runs scored look like a combination of injuries, slumps, and fill in with players who weren't ready for MLB . They look like that because that's what they are. It's still not about 2015. A knee-jerk reaction of trading available talent for bats is exactly the wrong thing to do. And, you're welcome.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Where did I say anthing remotely resembling a knee jerk reaction trading for bats. I said the team as currently constructed cannot score runs. And we do not need pitching. Reading comprehension fail, Cliff. Try to keep up.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I think there probably is some middle ground here. The Cubs definitely need hitting but whether it comes from inside or outside the organization (When you also consider potential trade cost) would be an interesting debate. Sounds like an article subject maybe!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think we are a year early and that is messing things up because our offense is not developed (Bryant, Soler, Russell) coupled with under performing vets (Castro, Montero, Fowler). It's a bad mix. I think we stay pat. I'd hate to trade the next Donaldson for this year's Cubs.

    That would be a great article and some interesting debate.

  • These guys have to start hitting. This is getting ridiculous, a LOT of good starting pitching is being wasted.

  • In reply to vegascubsfan:

    Vegas, its the veterans killing the offense right now, especially Castro and Fowler. Castro hit into 2 dps yesterday and is batting under .100 for the month of July so far, and hes not even hitting the ball hard when he does put it in play. Fowler is taking too many good pitches early in the count, and now saeems to think hes a power hitter, overswinging with regulkarity. Montero alsoi isn't getting many results, but at least hes getting on solid AB a game.

  • Cubs don't need to make a trade, they just need to play better ball.

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    The bench options should improve after the ASG....let's hope!

  • Fowler really killed us today at the plate. And Soler looked defeated before he even started his last at-bat. Not sure what was up with that.

  • In reply to lblegacy:

    Fowler got screwed on 2 strikouts that should have been walks. Soler might be a little too laid back IMO. Even keel is good, but I'd like to see some fire once in a while.

  • In reply to vegascubsfan:

    Disagree on Soler. 162 games is a marathon not a sprint. He needs to keep it even. This is the guy that charged the Clearwater bench in 2011 after getting tangled up on a slide at 2b. He's got plenty of fire.

  • In reply to lblegacy:

    You forgot Castro's K looking and 2 DPs. Sam's comment was correct. It has been a long time.

  • This is the first loss that has truly made me angry all year. This team needs a bat.

  • In reply to TC154:

    They need 4 bats--C, SS, 2B, and CF.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Yeah but one spark will be enough for this team to get into the WC. Russell will learn going into next year and changes will be made. I'm not looking for anything this year but experience in a pennant race.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Last Cardinals game made me almost as mad but this one was really a pisser. Sox hit two balls hard all day and won -- that sucks! Maddon needs to bat Castro lead off until we can get rid of him. Fowler not getting on base much anyway and if Castro leads off you know there will be at least one at bat when he can't hit into a DP and kill an inning.

  • I know this is going to irk a lot of you but hear me out. The offense desperately needs to get going. I would consider these moves:

    platoon Coghlan with Fowler in CF and batting them both leadoff. The would make a formidable platoon, even though I know defense would suffer. However CF is easier to play in Wrigley so that offsets it a bit.

    Bring up Schwarber to play LF and back up Montero. Denorfia could take up the slack in LF when Schwarber catches. Schwarber would essentially take David Ross' spot except he would play LF as well. He is an advanced hitter that can hit lefties as well anyway.

    Bring up Baez and insert him into a 3 headed infield monster. Give Castro and Russell more days off to accommodate, he can spell Bryant as well.

    I trade Vogelbach/Contreras to the Sox for Samardzija and ride that strong recent string of 6 starts and hope it's for real. The rotation is playoff ready, youre getting more output offensively for the stretch run and you're bench is stronger.

  • In reply to mcoley32:

    Move one, No. I want nothing to do with Coghlan in CF.

    Move two, fine in mid to late August. Schwarber needs to stay down in Iowa and get more games behind the plate until then.

    Baez needs to get healthy first. Finger injuries can linger. La Stella can hopefully make a difference as well, but again, I think we are looking at mid August for either one of them at the earliest.

    And finally, I'd lean against moving Contreras, unless the FO believes his development is either a fluke or they have concerns that he isn't a leader/off field/whatever. Especially since we don't know if Schwarber can be a catcher long term. Contreras will give them a lot of flexibility if he is for real. But a deal built around Vogelbach for Shark is fine with me. Vogelbach, Black and maybe one other guy would be fine with me.

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I'm all over that last paragraph. What don't people understand about Schwarber's long-term value?

  • In reply to mjvz:

    Agree! No to Contreras!

  • In reply to mjvz:

    I want no part of Spellcheck. There is no ways you would resign him, he very bitter towards the Cubs and I think there are a lot better pitchers available. Bad attitude, no thanks. And the Sox would want an arm and a leg for him.

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    In reply to CurlyQLink:

    I would Samardjzia back, especially if he truly is the pitcher we've seen the last month. He wants to win and I think would put all the bad feelings aside. Plus he wants that big contract and being in a playoff race would help him stay focused.

    As long as the Sox get back more value than what a compensation pick was worth, they can't really demand too much and get it for a guy who is walking in three months.

  • In reply to mcoley32:

    How are you going to play a below average LFer in CF and improve the team. You have better choices. You have Szczur and Denorfia and Coglin and Folwer platoon. I am ready to sit Fowler against all RH pitchers.

  • "-I'm trying to think of the last time Starlin Castro hit a ball solidly in the air. I know I saw it. Maybe it was a dream. Felt so real though."

    There are four fundamental causes for constantly topping balls. He does seem to be a DP machine!

    1) Pulling the front shoulder off the plate.
    2) Trying to pull outside pitches (pull happy)
    3) Early wrist roll (can result from a barred front arm or the early premature front shoulder pulling off)
    4) A deep "V" bat head path initiated in the swing. I don't think he does this.

    I can't see Cubs games. I don't have the internet download speed in most places and the games are often when I am asleep. So I will rely on your objective opinions.

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    In reply to Quasimodo:

    Very good analysis on Castro's hitting. He's hitting the ball more up the middle but the QABs from HHB are very low. I see a pull happy hitter until 2 strikes, then a more balanced approach gap to gap. I'm hoping we'll see him pull (pun intended) out of this funk soon as I do think he's trying to look oppo more. The frustrating element to his game is his hustle out of the box. He stared at a foul ball against StL that was foul be ½ inch - should've been on first when that ball dropped, and today his two DPs - he was slow down the line - RESPECT90, Starlin!!

  • In reply to Tom McNelley:

    Sounds like he is signing his ticket on the fast train!

  • In reply to Quasimodo:

    Starlin is reaching for the outside pitch with his hands making contact out in front. The only way to do this is to flip the hands or roll over. He needs to let the ball on the outside get deeper and try to drive it to RCF instead of flicking at it.

    His front shoulder comes off fine if it were a fastball inside half. He loses his connection all the time with his movements. His hands are moving away from his body as he is rotating--a death move. He is jittery, twitches a bunch, and his head is moving all over.

    He is really a mess. He would be best served to take a wider stance, no stride and look to drive liners all over the field--a two-strike approach.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    This is very true! I rely on you guys. I can't see the games. I can see some internet clips and that's it. But you can't analyze one at bat very well.

    But your technique perspective is correct. The only thing I would add is when hitting to RF, back knee, body, and full extension should be pointed at RF if your timing is correct. It isn't always going to be with pitches breaking so much, but the more inclined the better the results.

  • Poor Hendricks. He deserved better.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Ask Quintana.

  • sure would think about a Fowler / Coughlan platoon in LF and get Mendy up for CF , CF production might be a wash but a platoon in LF of those guys would be quite good and also improve the bench . This also costs no prospects . Cubs need to do something if the want a WC this year

  • I hate losing to the White Sox at home more than Pop Fisher hates losing to the Pirates. Fortunately, the infestation of their fans in our house was relatively light, but this idiotic victory made some of them mouthy.

  • "The Cubs drew seven walks and didn't score. That's not easy to do."

    It is when you hit into 5 double plays and only have 3 hits. Grousing about the ump doesn't affect that.

    And these still count as 6 of the 162 games on the schedule.

  • To me, starlins problem is he starts open, never gets closed, and then pulls off anything middle away. His bat doesn't stay in the strike zone very long for as much contact as he makes, but I think he compensates for that by poor bat speed through the zone on anything away. I would love for John to provide an article from a statistical and swing analysis standpoint on his career progression from rookie to 2013 (career year) to 2015 to see what has changed

    If I'm maddon, I come out of the all-star break with Russell and Castro flip-flopped defensively and in the batting order too. At a certain point, you need to send a message that (1) Russell is our shortstop (internally I said that in my best lovie Smith voice) and (2) people are held accountable for their play. Just like I don't think the bears will ever flourish with cutlter under center, the cubs will never flourish with Castro at shortstop. Maybe it lights a fire under Castro, maybe it doesn't, but Castro at short is one of the few reminders of the old regime and constant losing, and its time that narrative is changed. Someone will say that my suggestion is hypocritical as Russell isn't being held accountable for his play, but at least he plays great defense, plays the game the right way, and is competing.

    The left field platoon needs to lead off. At the very least we need to get a quality at bat in front of the boppers, where the pitcher needs to work to get an out ahead of rizzo and Bryant.

    Denorfia needs to start stealing a start away from Fowler on a weekly basis vs rh pitchers, or we need to bring AA back up and see if we catch lightning in a bottle in cf.

    I don't understand why pitchers with less than 100 pitchers are removed from games when throwing shutouts. Similar story with arrieta vs the cardinals in St Louis recently. That is an instant jolt to the opposing offense when you are getting dominated and a pitching change occurs. Have someone warming up, but make the pitcher force you to take him out of the game.

    There needs to be a stat, I will coin the term "challenge index", that quantifies the importance of a challenge. Based on run expectancy from base runner / out situations, leverage index of the game, win probability, and % of over turned calls from umpires based on historical data, the call should only be challenged at a certain threshold based on this stat. Just like NFL coaches don't challenge a first down spot on 3 and 1in the second quarter, the cubs and all teams need to be smarter about when they challenge. I would contend you shouldn't even get input from the guys reviewing the play in the clubhouse, only challenge based on the risk/reward and situation.

  • For whatever reason, the Cubs seemingly cannot be the two teams I loathe the most, the Cardinals and the White Sox. Of course, they are the 2 teams we face heading into the break.

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