It Still Points, Doesn't It? - Cardinals 5, Cubs 8

They don't all have to be oil paintings. And this one won't be shipped off to Cooperstown/The Smithsonian or posterity anytime soon. Jon Lester had an itchy, sweaty, whatever other-y you want to thrown in first inning, Javy Baez was plating runs for both teams, the Cubs pen was intent on keeping everyone cold. But thanks to the Cubs Death By 1000 Opposite Field singles approach, it was also rarely in doubt. And now the Cubs can clear off "8-8" on their .500 scorecard.

The game today was decided in the first and second innings, and you could say it was an example of what the Cubs would like to change from last year. Less strikeouts, get the ball into the field and let things happen. The Cubs collected four hits in the 1st, with three of them coming the opposite way (Baez's triple, Bryant's single, Schwarber's single) as they simply worked with what Luke Weaver was giving them. The second saw five hits, and a sac fly, with four of them going the opposite way. All in all the Cubs piled up six runs while "not trying to do too much," as the cliche goes. That would be all the runs they would need.

-It may sound harsh on Baez, but this is part of The Greatest Show On A Diamond. He could have gotten Lester out of his first inning jam by taking his time after nabbing Matt Carpenter's liner. But he wheeled and threw without looking, which fair enough usually the runner wouldn't have charged off to take on the British as Harrison Bader (another name the Cardinals just made up) did. Bader scored on a wild pitch the next AB. Then Baez kickstarts the next half inning with a triple (and when he hits with power to the opposite feel I finally feel alive inside). And then in the brief spasm of a rally the Cards put together in the 7th he allowed a run by trying to turn a double play the Cubs didn't need and threw the ball away.

Never boring, is it?

That's the deal with Javy though. He only sees what could be and not what should be, and that's what makes him fun. There is no chipping out to the fairway. There is only the small hole to blast a three-iron through.

-Eddie Butler got a little silly, because that's what Eddie Butler does. The Cards never hit the ball hard off him but he walked two guys as well with a seven-run lead. He gets so much movement you wonder if he could ever corral it or if he did would his stuff just be too plain. Steve Cishek came in to put out the grease fire. He's basically safety foam.

-Carl's Jr. also flirted with goofiness, as he didn't get a call or two he wanted. But he sat Paul DeJong's ass down when he needed to.

-Jason Heyward had a bomb today, and you shouldn't be surprised if his numbers shoot up soon. His contact is way harder than it's been in his stay here so far, and his .214 BABIP can't stay there forever.

Your FanGraphs Leverage Chart:

screen-shot-2018-04-19-at-5-02-15-pm

Onwards...

@FelsGate

 

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  • fb_avatar

    I'm glad you mentioned Javy's 2 errors Sam. I love Javy and don't want to dappen down his enthusiasm but with that comes scoring from 3rd on a ball a few ft from home and also throwing wildly to 3rd when he had plenty of time. He reminds me of the Kevin Costner character in Tin Cup--he only had to par the hole to be in the playoff but kept hitting it in the water because he knew he could. Javy believes he can do it, and 90 % of the time he's right.
    Keep Albert A and Javy at the top of the lineup. This is the best offensive team now and even Schwarber is seeing many more pitches now.
    One more thing. The Cubs are winning 8-1, my wife comes down to talk and all of a sudden it's 8-5, she leaves and the Cards don't score again. Just saying.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    When Zobrist is back, I like Heyward in CF, Z in right, and Zobrist leading off. That would be the best offensive lineup to me.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    Cause you don't like Almora?

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    In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Your wife is innocent. The "Butler" did it.

  • Although it is technically two errors by Baez, it should have been three. He practically ran over Rizzo, a gold glove first baseman, trying to take a ball from him. All three were mental errors. But still love him! He's looking good at the plate. Batting in front of Bryant might allow him to see more strikes.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    One of the errors charged to Javy was that play where he ran into Rizzo. The other was in the 7th when he tried to turn that double play and his errant throw allowed the run to score. He wasn't charged an error in the 1st inning on that throw to third because you can't assume the double play and that run didn't score (until Lester's WP on the next AB).

  • I don't care about butlers performance vs the marlins.He's a bum I can't wait til he's DFA'd

  • Any day we beat the DirtyBirds is a good day. Hell, any day we play baseball is a good day. I won't pretend a correlation, just a feel-good tune:

    "I took my bag into a grocer's store.
    The price is higher than the time before.
    Old man asked me "Why is it more?"
    I said you should have seen me with the pokerman.
    I had no money and I bet a grand.
    Just in the nick of time I looked at his hand."

  • Nice recap, Sam. Don't mean to be too harsh, but you could have added that "sweaty Jon" threw a 1-hitter for 6 with no earned runs against the Dirty birds. And Javy provided much-needed energy batting at the top half of the lineup for the first time this year. Using my best "Captain Obvious" voice - "It won't be the last time he bats somewhere in the top 3 this year".

    Don't you love (him) madly
    want to be (his) daddy
    Don't you love him when he's scoring as only Javy scores!

    Sorry BP...

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Wail away, HefCA. Love it!

  • Always feels like an even better win when we beat these guys.....look forward to this at least 10 more times this year....

  • It was good to see Contreras settling Edwards. He had more than a couple calls that didn't go his way. I felt like it was important for CJ to get through that inning. He kept his poise in the end.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I'm seeing Carl maturing and settling in much like Javy. Both can dominate. I hope it continues.

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    Don’t foget that Butler gave us 7 terrific innings earlier this year. He has the stuff, he needs to pitch at this level to get the experience.

  • Arrieta tonight: seven innings, one hit, 10 Ks. He just doesn’t look right in a Phillies uniform.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    I just saw that. Good for him, right?

    I've often said that I'm not in the "bash the skipper" crowd, and I don't know if Sam intended it or not with the headline, but am I the only one who cringes when Maddon talks about scoring "points"?

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    In reply to Cubswin09:

    Arrieta could make a HOF career pitching against the Bucs. He psychologically owns the majority of that roster. Poor guys

  • I may be giddy with the victory over the DirtyBirds, or it could be the nine beers, but here's my take:

    We're playing mediocre ball, but can you blame these guys? Try throwing a ball when your fingers are numb, or swinging a bat when you anticipate the pain. Then try to do that when you have no idea when you may be trying to do that.

    #Bullpenisgood

    Kris Bryant is continuing his march towards first- ballot HOF induction, or at least his second MVP. Have you seen his 2018 K-rates? "Bad, bad, Leroy Brown, baddest man in the whole damn town."

    Russell and even Heyward are showing significant improvements over 2017. SSS? Nah. Hail Chili!

    The starting rotation is doing... not well. I chalk that up to unfamiliarity with the new infrastructure and frozen fingers. I expect this to be a MLB top-5 staff at the end of the season and I like our 1-4 deep into the postseason.

    Don't sleep on our FO. We left a $10-12M "cushion" under the threshold to add what we need at the deadline.

    I guess my point is it's early and I like this team. I can't ever bring myself to predict a Cubs' loss in a single game let alone a season. So I have to predict another Championship in 2018.

    Is there anything I've forgotten? Oh, yeah...

    EL MAGO!

    Go Cubs!

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Apologies BP, but I was really wondering what you were trying to say before I figured out how to correctly parse #Bullpenisgood ...

  • In reply to BrockWasOverrated:

    Laughing in Sean Connory...

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    You left Schwarber off and I am really excited for him. For all the angst over his ‘17 campaign, he is posting a 134 OPS+ which outpaces his ‘15 season when we were all so giddy over adding him to our lineup. I think he will be the biggest surprise at year end.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    The narrative that continues with Kyle is remarkable. I think there are people who hope for him to fail. He has been right around 130-135 wRC+ (roughly aligns with OPS+) which means he's been a 30% above average run producer since July of last year. Plus this year if you watch him he looks better. Javy's improvement has been laying off those low and away pitches but Kyles has been a better swing plane which is allowing him to hit the ball where it's pitched. He hit an opposite field single yesterday. There are nothing but positive signs about his season this year and I hope people will stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. Oh and his K rate right now sits at 28.8%. He gets that to 25% or slightly below watch out.

  • In reply to TC154:

    You and I are aligned on Schwarbs.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I didn't mean to slight Schwarber at all. The reason I didn't mention him specifically is sort of the opposite: I expect him to do well and would have made a note of something he was working on if he needed to.

    That big bat is something special and really helps balance this lineup. His walk rate is really high, but right in line with his career mark. His K rate is similarly high and normal, and as TC pointed out, when that comes down (I believe it will) watch out.

    He'll still yank a ball 400+ ft. on occasion, but I think he's becoming a more complete hitter. I've always loved watching him drive the ball the other way. One of the things I most admire in a player is the inner desire to improve. Schwarber, like Bryant, has that trait in spades. He'll put in the work and is very coachable. I expect great things and would be surprised by anything less.

  • 1. Javy on fire. Thrilled to see him in 2-hole even though I prefer clean up for him. But how long can he keep it up? All season, baby!

    2. What are the odds Joe uses same line up today? Zero, right?

    3. What are odds Happ is leading off tonight? At least 50-50

  • In reply to TTP:

    I’m hoping for the same lineup as well, although I would actually be ok putting Happ in LF and batting where Schwarber batted in the lineup yesterday. Soley for defensive purposes with that outfield’s ability to cover a lot of ground in Coors field.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Line-up out on MLB. Same as yesterday. Me likey.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Happy to see that too. Hopefully Hendricks doesn't make too many mistakes today. He needs to cut that shit out... He's been great beyond him serving up some long balls though.

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    In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Gray is a pretty tough righty too. Nice to Almora get a real chance to show what he can do. Feel awful for Happ though but it was time. Made a change earlier than with Schwarber last year IIRC.

  • Happ? I started the comments on this piece noting that he might benefit from a trip back to Iowa to work on his swing. On second thought maybe his swing isn't the problem, but that adjusting to how the opposition is attacking him is. If that's the case AAA wouldn't fix it. Either way, hitting leadoff probably is not in his best or the Cubs best interest.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Happ looks to be the only one really having it tough right now. Schwarber looks much more improved, Javy too but, there is still something about his plate approach that isn’t right yet....lil bit homer happy but he’ll get better, then look out. The one really killing it is Bryant.......SOLID. We’ll be fine but, if the SP is still “off” by July Theo will do something.

  • Ian Happ has like a 52% K rate right now. They have to extensively work with him or send him to iowa and I like happ and hope he does well because his versatility is useful.

  • In reply to bolla:

    Who would you call up to replace Happ?

    Since we are going with 13 pitchers and a 4 man bench, Happ's replacement must be able to play both IF and OF. Iowa's top 2 batters (Rademacher and Zagunis) are strictly corner OFs. The ideal candidate, Chesney Young, is missing a golden opportunity by slashing .138/.194/.331. Mike Freeman has a 33% K rate. David Bote is hitting .238 with a .273 OBP. I've got my eyes on Jared Young, but he is still in South Bend and has been moved from SS to 1B (A move I wish the Cubs would reconsider since we are hurting for middle IFs and already have a pretty good LH hitting 1B).

    Sorry, but I just don't see anyone better than Happ down on the farm.

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    In reply to DropThePuck:

    If we look at a hypothetical roster without Happ and go with a regular starting line-up of:
    Contreras
    Rizzo
    Baez
    Russell
    Bryant
    Schwarber
    Almora
    Heyward

    Then the bench consists of:
    Caratini (C, 1B, Switch)
    La Stella (We hope he loses his glove in the trunk of his car but titularly plays--by which I mean he can stand roughly where a typical fielder at the position would stand, and, remember, I LIKE TLS--2B and 3B, LH)
    Zobrist (2B, LF, RF, Switch)
    Open Spot

    To my reading they could use a RH hitting OF, even one not really able to cover CF. Remember, Zobrist can cover IF and OF. The Cubs are blessed to have 2 guys right now that fill that bill (Zobrist and Happ) and 3 switch hitters (Caratini, Zobrist and Happ). Further, Contreras can cover LF if necessary and I wouldn't mind him playing out there occasionally just to take stress off his legs.

    Because Heyward can cover CF if necessary and Baez is more than capable of playing SS the Cubs are a solid 2 deep even without Happ. Having ANOTHER Switch Hitter capable of standing in the infield as well as playing OF (Happ) is an advantage, but if the Cubs choose to send him down it won't leave a gaping hole in the roster.

    I wouldn't mind seeing Zagunis come up. But I am not sure he really provides a big upgrade over Happ. He has more discipline at this point and maybe Happ needs to play regularly at AAA. But I am not yet chomping at the bit to send him down. Personally, I think the Cubs are a better roster WITH Happ on it than any alternative currently in the organization. But I am open to listening if anyone has a proposal for who should take that spot and why.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Me neither that's why I hope they(gaines & davis) can work with happ so he can improve & doesn't have to go to iowa.If the cubs get any help this year from the minors it will most likely be pitching from maples,tseng or possibly alzolay depending on how he does.

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