Six On The Beach - Cubs 6, Marlins 0

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The Cubs came into Wednesday's game looking for their first sweep of the young season. Chicago barely broke a sweat, winning easily thanks to another excellent pitching performance and some timely two-out hitting.

Both teams went quietly in the 1st inning, before the Cubs struck in the 2nd. Willson Contreras doubled with two down and came around to score on another clutch single from Daniel Descalso.

The North Siders broke the game wide open in the top of the 3rd inning. Kris Bryant singled with one out and moved to second on an Anthony Rizzo grounder. Javy Báez slashed a single to right scoring Bryant and moving to second on the throw. He then scored on a Jason Heyward single to make it 3-0.

After Contreras walked, Descalso delivered yet again with two down. He ripped a double over the head of a discombobulated Austin Dean in left. Both runners scored before Dirty Dan got gunned out trying to advance to third base.

A 5-0 lead was plenty for Cole Hamels who dominated the pitiful Marlins lineup. He allowed only one hit the first six innings. That single was immediately erased by a double play the next batter. Colbert struck out a total of eight, while walking none in seven innings.

The only stress for the Chicago lefty came in the bottom of 7th. Martin Prado singled for Miami's second hit of the night. Brian Anderson hit a grounder to third, Bryant tried to rush for a high-difficulty double play and booted it for an error. Jorge Alfaro singled to left to load the bases with one down.

Hamels buckled down coming back from a 3-0 count to strike out Starlin Castro on what would have been ball four, I know shocking right? Miguel Rojas then lined out hard to Ben Zobrist in right to end the threat.

Báez then padded the lead, hitting an opposite field laser to right field for a solo-homer. Brad Brach and Alan Webster closed out the final two innings in the easy 6-0 Cubs win.


Source: FanGraphs

Javy, Javy, Javy

Báez's single was his 500 career hit in just 544 total games in the big leagues. For the second game in a row his beautiful opposite-field power stroke was on full display. Combine that with his tremendous pull-power and Javy becomes even more frightening to opposing pitchers.

Handle Your Business

The Marlins are bad. I mean really bad. I'm talking designed to earn a number one pick bad. That being said, what the Cubs did was really impressive. Their slow start took away some of their margin for error in 2019, they needed to take advantage here. Sweeps are hard no matter who you are playing, so kudos to them for staying focused and taking care of business. Oh and 23 straight scoreless innings is impressive even against a AAA lineup.

Random Reference

A 6-1 record after a 2-7 start?

   

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  • I wonder if MLB will ever consider something similar to the NHL's approach to discourage tanking in order to get the top draft choice.

    The NHL uses a lottery to determine the top three draft positions. This year, the worst team (Ottawa) ended up with the 4th choice (actually they had traded that pick). The Blackhawks, who finished 12th from the bottom, bucked the 2.5% odds and will now pick THIRD.

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    In reply to DropThePuck:

    I am not in favor of that. As a Cubs fan I looked watching the rebuild. If you try to do something that will prevent the top teams from taking the top talent by not giving them the first pick in the draft you are MORE likely, IMO, to have bad teams long term. The Cubs and Astros famously tanked and within a couple seasons became behemoths in the league. If the league tries to do things that will prevent them from getting guys like Correa and Bryant at the top of the draft I think we will mire more mediocre teams into oblivion.

    I say this fully aware that a #1pick isn't a guaranteed best player. But at least your odds are better. Such as not taking Bryant in 2013 for the Astros. But they simply guessed wrong. They weren't prevented from picking Bryant in an effort to get they to win 5 more games the year before.

  • Thanks for a great recap, Sean.

    I have two passions in life: baseball, and music.

    Over time you learn to distinguish talent from nonsense, hope from hype, Even if the talent isn't necessarily your bag, you can recognize talent.

    "Billie Jean" isn't my genre. John Rocker isn't my type.

    For all of the noise, however, the good stuff sticks out. It always does. As much as I try to outfool myself or overthink things, I love baseball and music. I can't ignore it, nor can I ignore the greatness of it when it stares me in the face.

    I've laughed at Will Ferrell attempting to play baseball and C.C. DeVille playing music, but if you pay attention, you can see the real deal.

    Baseball and music have mixed in a million ways for over a hundred years. But for now, I'll combine two of my passions on this night of sweep, sweep victory. Two absolute masters in their respective fields:

    Ednel Javier Baez to MLB:

    "I am the Lizard King.
    I can do anything."

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    BP, I certainly enjoy your musical references but don't understand all of them, but when you refer to Dylan the the Doors you hit my sweet spot. Thank you. Now I need a Joplin one too and maybe you can have a drink of Southern Comfort while singing it.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Thanks, Jonathan. Believe it not, Joplin was the very first lyric I ever did here. John and I were discussing Starlin Castro, something about his move to 2B. It just came out, and I decided to roll with it:

    "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Speaking of talent and such, another post towards an impressive performance. This is an all-time favorite of mine, unfiltered by editing or auto-tune. Pink, blasting out Bobby McGee:

    https://youtu.be/wwmUMvhy-lY

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    It's an off day, so I'll continue my stupidity. Were have you gone, copinblue?

    This is one of the greatest covers I've ever seen. Alice in Chains fronted by Jerry Cantrell, along with rhythm guitar by original master Nancy Wilson, and special guest vocalist Gretchen Wilson. She hits notes that give me goosebumps, as only Ann could do:

    https://youtu.be/BqQkECIn738

  • Hamels continues to amaze. If Q and Yu continue to give us solid outings and Hendricks gets back to form, the rotation is looking solid moving forward.

  • Re-signing Hamels was huge. I don’t care if it was $20 million, he earned it & is still earning it. I hope they can sign him to a 2-3 yr extension, at less than $20 million per, hopefully. Crazy to think who’d be taking his (& Lester’s) starts right now if he wasn’t here this yr. And where they would have finished last year w/out him.

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    Totally agree. He's already earned that. $20M is a lot for one year, but that's the thing: it's for ONE year. There were other options but they required a multi-year commitment. The uncertainty with Darvish over the winter kinda forced our hand.

    I'd be cool with bringing him back on a two-year deal. He obviously fits here and I think won't be chasing every last dollar. I think he will only sign with a contender. The bright side of the argument against re-signing him next year is we may, finally, have a couple kids from the farm ready to step up.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Cubs found something mechanical last year that re-upped his velocity and not he is gaining confidence with his change all over again. Same for Quintana as we all have read and seen. Darvish admits he is really a three-pitch pitcher but has a larger repertoire and even though has stunning movement should introduce an off-speed offering at least a few times a game. Lester will be Lester and appears he is again dialing in on that low strike in and out then up. Hendricks still must find is fine tune and needs to get another click on his velocity.

    If this rotation can stay healthy and perform at quality starts plus it only makes the bullpen stronger and more effective.

    All this is a prescription for that grinding kind of season that Maddon has led this team since '15.

    Now let's see how they do with better competition. They 10 games left in the month, nine if you flip the Sea game on April 30th over to May as it is a start of a series. 8-9 would like to see 15-11, 14-12 alright after that horrible start.

  • Hopefully beating up a AAAA team will give our pitching staff confidence going forward. Nice start for the "utility guys" Descalso and Bote taking professional at bats. Bryzzo will heat up (I could tell Anthony was straining this series b/c of the hometown Miami effect) and this lineup will look downright scary if Contreras and Heyward's bounceback years are legit.

    Almora, while a plus defensively, looks replacement level at the plate since last fall. Team guy on a team friendly deal, but his warning track power is getting harder to watch each at bat he takes. He should sit versus righties.

  • In reply to LAX2ORD:

    Others here have pointed out, persuasively, that Descalso has made some adjustments over the last year or so to really improve his offense. I haven't studied him enough to offer an opinion, and I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but what I'm seeing in his overall role on the team reminds me of a left-handed Mark DeRosa.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    The thing is that is all we need him to be. He doesn't have to be Bryce Harper. We need him to be a better defensive version of TLS. Give quality PAs. And "Try not to suck.". He is a veteran utility infielder with a LHB. I figured it likely he will be worth his contract.

  • I have to applaud Sean for his choice of the featured photo. It brings back memories.

    I lived a block off that beach throughout the 2003 season. The two buildings at the water's edge at the top of the photo are the Continuum, a condo complex for the rich and famous. I did custom painting in the three penthouses of the original (South) tower, and that view (though reversed, the photo is N-to-S, I saw S-to-N) is exactly what I went to work to every day. I've walked that whole stretch of sand a hundred times. Those were the days!

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    Cole has performed much better than anyone has expected but I would hold off on the talk of an extension. He's 35 and it's only April.
    If we paid him a 2 yr @$20/yr would he perform at such a high level during the time of his contract or could we use that money more effectively? Are there pitchers coming up that could take his place? That's the key--if Theo had done any better in developing pitchers we wouldn't have to pay so much, either for him or Yu or Chatwood. When Theo took over he said he didn't want to pay big contracts for past performance and that's what he would do here. If Cole is pitching this well in Sept then we might reconsider.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Fair points. Of course it's too early to make those decisions. But think, as Milk suggested, how much worse last year would have ended without the addition of Hamels and where we'd be now. I think his point was that some criticized picking up the $20M option, and blame that decision and the budgetary woes it created for the off-season inactivity. I agree that has proven to be a wise choice. Chatwood was a wild-card and Darvish a question mark. It was a no-brainer, IMO.

    I've seen, but haven't independently verified, that this Cubs' rotation is the most expensive in baseball history, and that doesn't even include Chatwood, since he's technically in the pen. That is a glaring indictment of our systemic inability to develop pitching. I hear Alzolay is throwing in AZ with a trip to Iowa expected soon, and I'd defer to Michael's expertise to speculate on who may be ready to join the rotation next year, but I think there may finally be a glimmer of realistic hope.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Yeah no need to worry about an extension for Hamels at this point. I am open for waiting out the season and knowing what our needs are for next year’s rotation, and who do we have in AA or AAA who’s pressing the issue and earning the job in the back of our rotation. Another note to consider is our rotation health through this season and how it might affect next year’s (i.e. does a pitcher go down with a season ending injury that requires missing most of the 2020 season to rehab). In a scenario like that, I’d definitely want Hamels back if he stays healthy and effective all year. He might even be had just on the qualifying offer which will be right around $20M anyway for another year. But no need to jump the gun on handing out more money. And if Hamels turned down a QO and wanted an extra year, I’d be willing to work out that deal if the average $/yr was less than $20M. Further if he was allowed to shop around and signed somewhere else, that might just mean the cubs would get a compensation pick if he earns over $50M. Which brings me to another point on Hamels. How would he fare pitching in the back of the bullpen and getting to air it out 3-5 outs at a time? He might be worth the extended contract, as I remember reading a quote of him saying he’d be interested in pitching in relief at some point as his career winds down.

    By the way BP, I did read your latest reply to my from yesterday. I know I’m hard on Baez, but don’t let that cloud your impression I have in him. Javy is just a f’n great baseball player and I’m glad he’s a Cub!! He’s one of my favorite players in the game. I loved him from day one when I saw him hit a bomb in his first spring training with the Cubs!! The ball actually went so high that it tore a hole through the clouds on the way up, and another on its way down. I fully appreciate the offensive player he is, and love how he plays especially in these hot streaks, I just want him to reign it in a little and stop giving away outs when the pitchers aren’t challenging him. If he did that, I think he’d have seasons of hitting that are comparable to Miguel Cabrera. As it stands now, Javy’s career year last year with his .881 OPS would actually rank as Miguel Cabrera’s 13th best OPS, only beating out Cabrera’s last 3 injury riddled seasons, as well as his first 2 as he broke into the league. Cabrera doesn’t necessarily hunt walks and he’s always taking big hacks. Just think if pitchers knew they had to keep the ball close to the zone when facing him. They’d make even more mistakes to him and his slugging percentage would actually go up even more, and he could be a hitter that sustains a .320 BA and .375 OBP just by keeping his approach up the middle and to right center.

    ¡¡¡El firking Mago!!! Dudes incredible. He’s the best guy to put on a Cub jersey and swing the bat since Sammy Sosa. Another guy who was great, but drove many crazy with his free swinging.

    Also want to make clear that last year as the season was winding down I made the comment more than once that as Javy goes, this team goes, which is why we need consistency from him!! So don’t be stealing my lines (looking at you bolla) and taking credit for my thoughts I already put out there 6 months ago about Javy!!!

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    It's all good, Cubber. Like I said, I enjoy the banter between us. We both want the same thing.

    Nobody frets over a borderline pitch taken or swing at by Darwin Barney. I know the reason you are so fascinated by, and critical of, Javier Baez is because of the unlimited potential. Me too. It pisses me off to see him swing at a slider in the left-hand batters box.
    You mention you want to see more consistentsy, I agree, and that is where areas lie for improvement. But in fairness, have you watched that progression? I know he swings at crap, but can you imagine as he progresses and cuts down on that? I know you want him to. So do I. Can you imagine when he does? I can. El Mago has another gear.

    Javier Baez is the most fun and interesting player I've ever studied. And the most talented. I respect your critique, Cubber, and offer that as my biggest reason to doubt his many naysayers: he still has room for improvement.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Jon, thanks for your opinions, I respect them. But It’s never to early to give an extension to the best pitcher on this team. Especially in his contract year.

    35, so He’s suddenly going to flame out at 36& 37? I don’t think so. Check his performances at Wrigley. Check his performances against Central division opponents.

    I didn’t say to give him $20 million per year going forward. If he would sign for less they should try while they have him & no one else can drive up his price with higher offers.

    I like Darvish, I just don’t trust he’ll stay healthy. And we’re seeing Lester having DL/IL stints as well.

  • I like that comp BP. Descalso is an upgrade over La Stella. All things being equal, my take is that Descalso seems to be a true clubhouse "vet" instead of the clubhouse "fun guy" that La Stella seemed to be. I don't claim to be an expert on clubhouse culture, but it seems the FO is moving away from the 2015 / 2016 [insert your Joe Maddon reach the Millenials theme here] culture in favor of more accountability and "grit".

    My Nostradamus predictions for 2019: 1) Javy gets an extension soon to buyout his last two arb years. 2) We trade for an OF near the deadline (Alex Gordon or the like) since Almora continues to show he's only a 4th OF and defensive replacement. 3) No new bullpen moves b/c Theo doesn't spend monies there. 4) Darvish wins 15 games this year.

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    Heyward has had a better year than anyone could have expected so I'm wondering if this might be a great time to trade him depending on what we get back. I'm not necessarily recommending this, but with the money remaining on his contract and the payroll we have and the probability that this won't keep up why not? He's a terrific outfielder, a GG outfielder, but we need the complete ball player, especially when we already have a GG outfielder in Albert A that doesn't hit that well.
    I'm just throwing this out for conversation.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    And I'll bite. And I won't hold back...

    I need to do the whole disclosure thing. I've known J-Hey personally. I know his family in Beaufort, SC, and I've met and thrown balls with him in Rome (A-ball).
    He's a good dude, and those personal relationships influence my perception of the man and his family. To be blunt, that is a good man and a good family.

    Heyward is an enigma in my book. I was in the Atlanta media market during his rise. I worked with him and threw baseballs back and forth (the Al Bundy, four-touchdown point of my sports career), and got to know him pretty well.

    We share a couple personal insecurities, which is why we connected. He knows he is great, and his lack of living up to those lofty expectations weighs heavily upon him. The struggles he deals with in MLB results go far beyond mechanical adjustments.

    Having said that, I will say this: J-Hey is a good dude, a great teammate, a better friend, and an even better human being. I challenge anyone to dig up any dirt that refutes that claim.

    Now for the hard part. Why, as TC is fond of saying, has he not lived up to the back of his baseball card? Why does a skilled, 25-year-old hitter fall off the map?

    I don't know. I have heard the PED whispers, and to be honest, that's a theory. I ABSOLUTELY HATE making unfounded accusations, so I don't know. But it could be.

    Heyward came through the Braves' system as the next coming of Henry Aaron. I heard the phrase "the ball just sounds different off his bat" so many times it made my stomach curl. Then I worked with him. Funny story, we were doing ground-ball drills, and I foolishly decided to throw him my all at 75 MPH. I'd show him I can play ball! He reciprocated at 100 MPH and put me in my place. He is a large, talented man.

    I don't know what to make of his see-saw career. I love the guy, but I'm not blind. He seems to be back on track. Good for us, and good for him. I hope it's sustainable, and legit.

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    I hope you know that I wasn't even thinking about PEDs when I wrote that--only when is the time to sell high and now is high (not that kind of high!) Everything I've read about him is positive, from the day we signed him and he got to ST weeks early to start with his new team and get to know his teammates. Congratulations in knowing him and that he's a good guy too.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    The thing is if Jason hits we won't be anxious to trade him.

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    I should say something about Chet Coppock. It was reported today that he was in a car accident yesterday and passed away.
    I remember him from just about the beginning. He was a larger than life broadcaster and thought he was the one the light shined on in any room--you know he was there all the time. He was one of the first to start sports talk radio and carried it on. I never met him but listened.
    He is an icon and will be missed but never forgotten for what he did.

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