What else do I have to say?--Rockies 6 Cubs 5

Every Daniel Murphy hit during Pride Month should be classified as a hate crime.

There are plenty of reasons to loathe the Rockies first baseman. Chiefest among them being he’s what would happen if a Sinclair Broadcasting “Must Run” became a real boy.

Or you could go with the fact that tonight he chose to come up to the plate to “Shipping Up to Boston.” In Colorado. Even Murphy’s walk-up music is a plug for the straight pride parade.

He’s got to be front and center in the team picture for the most loathsome Cub opponents of the past 40 years, doesn’t he? Steve Garvey, Will Clark, Josh Beckett, Daniel Murphy. That reads like what it would happen if Morrissey wrote “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

And most depressingly, it feels like even when he fails, he comes through about half the time anyway. Such was the case in the eighth inning tonight. With the score tied at five, Murphy sent a one-out chopper down the first base line. Anthony Rizzo started his dive and, with a platinum glove to his credit, the Cubs first baseman probably stood a puncher’s chance of snaring it. Or, at the very least, knocking it down and keeping Murphy to one base.

Unfortunately, the bouncer glanced off the first base bag and bounded into right field for a double. Steve Cishek proceeded to get Raimel Tapia to strike out looking but Murphy stole third on the play and scored what proved to be the winning run on Ryan McMahon’s two out line drive single to right center.

Barf emoji.

Up until the latter portion of the game, tonight felt like both teams agreed to play Coors Field baseball for only one inning. In the top of the third, the Cubs jumped German Márquez for three home runs and staked themselves to a lightning quick 4-0 lead.

David Bote led off the inning with a solo homer to right center on a classic Coors hit that just appeared to keep going and going until it cleared the wall. After becoming the first Cub second baseman to drive in seven runs since Ryne Sandberg during his last series against the Rockies, Bote decided to add to his Cub middle infielders impressions by doing a spot on “Javy Báez first major league hit.” Let’s hope no one ever shows him video of Jose Macias.

Kyle Schwarber followed by taking the very next pitch and depositing it into the left field bleachers. You might remember that seemingly during every game in Spring Training, Schwarber worked on going the other way in order to take more advantage of the defensive alignment against him. And while the Rockies were shifting against Schwarber tonight, it appeared that Bud Black forgot to station Trevor Story in Section 154.

Kris Bryant then worked a walk on a 3-2 pitch bringing up Anthony Rizzo, who came into tonight’s contest hitting a seemingly impossible .213 in Denver. But after a very Rizzo-esque at bat that involved fouling off a series of 2-2 pitches, he finally crushed a slider to deep center field that landed 433 feet away in the Coors Field shrubbery. At that point, NBC Sports Chicago had to turn off the field mic in order to spare their audience from the sound of a jubilant first baseman saying “Ni!” at will to old ladies.

Sadly, Yu Darvish gave it all back in the bottom of the inning. It all started with a hit-by-pitch off the foot of number eight hitter Tony Wolters, who undoubtedly distracted Darvish with the facial hair of a man who just got to Denver that afternoon after escaping the Dread Pirate Roberts. Charlie Blackmon then followed by mashing a two run homer to the second deck in right. And after a David Dahl single, Nolan Arenado tied it up with a 431 foot homer to left.

Honestly, the home runs weren’t the most bothersome part about that inning for Yu. It’s Coors Field. Hanging sliders and homers happen. But here’s the thing: the Rockies lineup is very top heavy. They give you a lot of outs in the six through nine slots. And in Coors Field, you have to take every single one of them, especially when letting one of them get on base leads to the lineup turning over. Hitting Wolters leading off the inning transformed a manageable situation into something very treacherous in the blink of an eye.

Other than that inning, Darvish pitched very well, giving up those four runs, six hits, and no walks in six innings. It was, as Len and JD called it, a “Coors Field quality start.” You’ll take that every time in this Hieronymus Bosch landscape for pitchers.

The bats stayed quiet until the seventh when the Rockies and Cubs again traded runs. Ian Desmond reduced a Mike Montgomery hanging curve into its component molecules in the bottom of the inning and the result was a 486 foot go-ahead homer, the longest hit in MLB this year.

But all was not lost. In the top of the eighth, Bryant and Rizzo reached base to lead off the inning on a walk and single. Báez then grounded into what appeared to be a sure double play to short as Bryant scored the tying run. But, in what was a rather pedestrian trick for El Mago, he was called safe at first because Daniel Murphy’s glove disagreed with his lifestyle as a fielder. Unfortunately, Carlos González and Victor Caratini struck out to strand the go ahead run at first.

All in all, a pretty frustrating loss capped by the winning run being scored by the biggest villain of recent Cubs history against a bullpen that was always burning since the world’s been turning. But in a couple weeks, at least we’ll have to figure out how to write a new verse that rhymes with “Kimbrel.”

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  • Disagree with your take (attack?) on Murphy, but those conversations usually don't move in a positive direction, so...

    I'm starting to believe that Darvish will end up being nothing more than a tease. Last year he was simply bad, then hurt. This year, he goes three, maybe four innings looking like who the Cubs thought they were getting, then the wheels fall off.

    Compare Lester's last outing to Darvish last night. Lester lays an egg in the first inning, then figures it out. Darvish stats out in fine form, then wilts. Lester absolutely has the clutch gene. Unfortunately for the Cubs, it appears Darvish never will.

  • In reply to ItFinallyHappened:

    And he will continue to be the gift that keeps on taking... for years.

  • I actually think Darvish pitched well last night. I went into last night realizing that if he struggled with control or FB command it was going to be a rough night. He didn’t. The problem with a guy like Yu in Coors is that his best out pitch is his slider and breaking balls don’t break there. It’s like going in with one hand tied behind your back. I hate that park for that reason, it comes with its own set of rules and I’m not talking about the wind blowing out at Wrigley in a hot summer night, I’m talking a permanent difference in conditions. My expectations for this series were low and continue to be. One win and I’ll be happy.

  • In reply to TC154:

    And the next series will be tough as well. 3-4 is starting to look pretty difficult on this road trip.

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    In reply to TC154:

    I agree with your point about Coors being qualitatively different than other parks. Daryl Kile and Mike Hampton found out what happens when a good pitcher with a great breaking ball takes a ton of money to pitch in COL. Short version: It doesn't end well. Especially coming from HOU.

    And, like you, I had low expectations going into this trip. I wasn't one saying we should look at going 5-2 on it or something like that. Though it wouldn't be impossible. The Cubs offense is still potent. And may be able to outscore their opponent if the pitchers struggle. Though they may not.

    As for park differences I look at it as analogous to golf. A good golf course, to my understanding, will have a variety of "obstacles." One hole might have sand traps surrounding the green. Another hole will have a "dog leg" going one direction with another hole having a "dog leg" going the other direction. Some holes are really short. Some are incredibly long. Others might have hills or trees in places that make them difficult to play. All of these lead to "permanent differences" in how each hole plays. And that's not so much a "problem" as a "feature." In fact, it is, to some extent, the point of the exercise. The NL Central is far more uniform in its facilities. While each ballpark certainly has "character" none of them are freakish. I would have more of a problem playing in the NL West with some of the most extreme, by reputation at least, "pitcher parks" (Petco Park and "Whoever the sponsor is in SFO but I still call it PacBell Park) and "hitter parks" (Such as Coors field and "Whoever the sponsor is in ARI but I still call it 'The BOB' ") being most of the games played.

    The road trip(s) that includes LA, COL, SFO and SD are often some of the most challenging road trips of the year. I've seen many 1-5 or 2-4 road trips. I dread the ones where we go 2-9 or something like that. For me this is a road trip to be survived. Even if we end up coming out of it not in 1st place but down by 1-2 games I will be fine. That is now behind us. The division is not lost. Just win more games and the NLCS will be at home.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Darvish is s struggling with a change in pitching tactics vs batters now upper cutting low FB's, where he needs to elevate his 4seam FB with command and use his cutter & slider as compliments, this will come around. It was was Marshall phat off speed that Desmond crushed. As for Murphy I enjoyed, since A my son is gay, other family members and whenever ppl are openly hostile to groups bcuz who they and born to be, I am reciprocol. Most interesting is WaPo's article this weekend how fast America's attitude towards LGBTQ's have changed and historically how rapidly, in a decade and still rolling, even among evangelicals who have gay children. Screw that false equivalency being biased has no safe harbor. BTW CO has an open gay Gov whom I am acquanted with, it matters not to political opponents or supporters or ambivalent citizens.

  • In reply to TC154:

    I think Darvish needs a strong catcher, could be wrong. The time he takes to actually throw the pitch after the sign is given is extremely long.

    He also seems to fall in love with his cutter and/or slider. last night he left those pitches right over the middle of the plate and they got hammered.

  • In reply to MilwaukeeRoad:

    His cuttter and slider are his out pitches, more so the slider. In Coors it doesn't break. This was the sixth start in a row where I thought he pitched very well. A quality start is 6 innings no more than 3 runs. In Coors he gave up 4. I think that's pretty good. Now, is he the pitcher he should be? No, he was signed to be a 1 and he's a 3/4 right now IMO. I want to see improvement but what he's been giving us has been what we need for this team.

  • In reply to TC154:

    Great points on Coors field TC and Joel and how it effects pitchers cutter/slider. I admit I didn't have high expectations for a dominant Darvish start in Coors field against a now fully healthy rockies offense that has been explosive in Coors field. I also thought that is was encouraging that he was able to rely mostly on his fastball, with his cutter/slider clearly not cooperating with him in that Colorado air at times last night. I thought he mostly pitched well but I agree that I'd like to see him stop teasing us and get more dominant results. That said there was plenty to like from a process standpoint as he threw 63 strikes out of only 83 pitches over 6 innings with 0 walks. He was efficient with his pitches and could've gone deeper into the game. For me I disagree with the poster above that Darvish teases us consistently with brilliance that's been more of a recent issue. I feel he was flat out bad/slumping through about the 1st month or so this year especially with his lack of command/crazy high walk rate early on. I think he's found something with his mechanics/command ever since that start in CIncinnati where he had 11 Ks and 0 walks. What I want to see from him now is to take the next step forward and stop having that one bad inning. He seems to cruise through most innings recently flashing his dominance, and now I'd like to see him take that next step forward into being more of a 2/3 starter then the 4/5 numbers we've seen. For me though it's the improved command that's most encouraging. Even despite a rough 3rd inning last night simply throwing strikes allowed him to go 6 innings and he could've gone 7 with only 83 pitches. I think in general he'll see better days if he continues to attack hitters aggressively like he has over the past 5-6 starts or so. In his defense also the bullpen has imploded a number of times during his starts this season. If we win some of those games fans aren't expressing nearly as much frustration with him given his recent improvement in form

  • In reply to TC154:

    Darvish has a 4.54 ERA and a 3.98 FIP in his last 6 games. That is not very good for a good pitcher. I guess it is good for the $126M guy he is now. This guy was signed for number 1 money and is no better than a number 5.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Is he living up to his contract? No, is he improving and beginning to put up decent numbers including much improved K/9 and BB/9? Yes. I’m not worried about his contract I’m worried about what he can contribute to a championship level club in 2019. Prior to last night at Coors the FIP over his previous 6 was 3.47. I’ll take that. He’s pitching like a 4 when he was paid to be a 2 and improving. That’s what we need at the back of that rotation right now. Much like I can appreciate what Heyward does for this team as opposed to what he doesn’t I do the same with Darvish. From what I’ve seen lately I think he might be very good down the stretch when we need him to be. Also I’ve been around here for years. People know how I feel about pitching and I like this staff as much or better than any since maybe 2015.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    People will pick and choose smaller sample sizes to tell you Darvish is good or has been better. The reality is, he has good stuff but is NOT a good pitcher. Anyone who tells you that they have confidence going into one of his starts is either lying or is wearing those ultra bright Cubs colored glasses.

  • In reply to MilwaukeeRoad:

    I'm going to agree, MilwaukeeRoad. There was a instance last night when Yu walked a hitter after he didn't get a called strike three. After going 2-0 on the next guy, Caratini called time and got in Darvish' s ear and he handled the inning. Coincidence?

  • In reply to 44slug:

    He had zero walks but in general that's why I like Contreras with him more. He pushes him to be more aggressive and I was impressed with their 1st outing last start. I also think Contreras simply calls a much better game. I think that Blackmon home run calling the cutter in was an ill adviced pitch call pitching into Blackmons power zone. It caught a little more plate then Darvish wanted to but for the most part it was in on the hands and Blackmon just got to it and kept it just fair. Willson also just mostly shuts down the threat of a run game for the most part too and Darvish is slow to the plate.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Meant fastball not cutter I understand that they were avoiding the slider/cutter moreso then usual but my issue with that call is you've got to really get that in on Blackmons hands to jam him up. If you miss at all it's right in his power zone and he made them pay. In general I see Caratini with questionable pitch calls often not that his hitting doesn't make up for it. I think Caratini should be paired with Hamels personally Cole seems to pitch well with him

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I’m not saying this to say you’re wrong. We all make mistakes. But your statement sure shows how the eye test can be invalid and our memory can distort facts while the stats don’t lie. Yu did not walk even one batter last night.

    But I remember that point in the game when Caratini went out and visits the mound because Yu was falling behind and trying to be too fine on the corners. Afterward, I thought Yu really started attacking the strike zone, which an inning later JD even confirmed my thoughts in saying the same thing.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Thanks! I stand corrected.

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    In reply to Cubber Lang:

    I always look for the eye-test to "validate" what the numbers tell me. When they disagree, I try to find something in the numbers that will distort. An example of this is a guy who everyone says is a good hitter but his slash line is .240/.320/.400. Then I look at things like Hard%, Soft%, BABIP. Things like that. Often that brings things back into line (he is having some tough luck).

    But when they outright disagree I generally fall on the side of the numbers. They are easier to back me up than my memory. My suspicion is that you have a similar outlook based on our past interactions. That is my bias. Many here have a similar bias toward "what they see." Neither is really right or wrong. Often a middle ground can be reached by digging far enough.

    The numbers don't say everything. But they tell us a lot more than the box score of our youth did and FAR more than some give it credit for. For instance, they can verify things we may have forgotten. Human memory is good at remembering the memorable. "The numbers" remember everything that is recorded. And what is not recorded is getting less and less every year. They are good at saying what is happening and has happened. But not always good on "why." Though sometimes they can do that too. I really enjoy those on here who can catch onto mechanical problems (swing path, arm slot, etc.) that can illustrate things. Often this will fill in a puzzling gap between the numbers and the eye-test. Each one supplements the other. Neither can give a 100% clear picture.

    PS - But when they STILL disagree I'm going with the numbers. LOL.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Yeah I very much agree with you Joel. And I really was not trying to even discount the eye test, as you mention, there is value to that. I’m not one to pick up on much of the mechanical problems in a swing or pitching mortion, that’s for sure. But of course, there is more to the eye test then just those more sophisticated circumstances. I think the trickiest part of relying solely on the eye test is the psychological/human component where we tend to notice more of the the things we are looking for rather than what we are not looking for, and further like you mention, the memorable moments stand out much more than the non-memorable. And each of us probably have different moments that stand out more or less, as we all value different things.

    Above all that, I know a lot of us posting here probably watch quite a bit of Cubs baseball, but I doubt we all see each game to allow our eye test to be a complete picture. And if one wants to use the eye test to compare a Cub to a non-Cub, I hope they spend just as much time watching the other player, and not just the highlights/lowlights that make the post-game reel. Which comes back to the statistics helping to complete the story with factual data vs memory. I like the marriage of both, that’s for sure.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Like you I don't know the mechanics of baseball. So when people are discussing that aspect I keep my mouth shut rather than "flaunt my ignorance." As I said it often explains disparities between the numbers and perceived ability. In my experience far more often than an uncodified "eye-test." I will trust an eye test but I want you to tell me exactly what you are looking at. Just saying, "He's off balance" doesn't tell me anything. Break it down. There are a couple guys on here (both staff writers and community writers) who are extremely good at this. They can spot the hole in the swing created by the swing path and point it out in an predictive way. That's what I want from an expert's eye-test. Not a generic, "His swing is long."

    No one knows everything about baseball. The game is simple. But in its simplicity and the fact that success is so rare it can easily deceive. Give us the impression that we understand it.

    In general, if someone makes an assertion I am willing to believe it. But I will ask them for evidence. Their explanation doesn't have to be statistics. It can be an explanation of the mechanics. It can be a dissertation on WHAT exactly they are observing.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Just using Yu's performance only while a Cub for the last year or so, he's been a "the sum is less than the parts" kind of guy for this team. Sure, his peripherals are trending up, he has "great stuff", is borderline unhittable at times. But was anybody, who has watched him pitch while wearing a Cubs uniform, really surprised at all that he immediately coughed up a 4-run lead last night? That's just been his thing the whole time with the Cubs.

    He has some decent stats, but virtually every game he starts the team has to scramble big time to pull out a victory. For some pitchers, you just get the feeling that if the lead was 2 runs, he'd give up 2 (or more) runs. If it's 3, then 3 or more. If it was a 6 run lead, then that's what he would have given up last night (maybe not all in one inning, but eventually).

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to HefCA:

    I know what you mean about feeling like some pitchers will pitch "just well enough to lose." Or at least make the game "more interesting." My challenge, when I think something like that, is to verify it. It is actually really easy to do now that game logs are so easy to find.

    One factor that might thwart that is that some nights the conditions are better for scoring runs than others. If we score a lot of runs it is possible that conditions are favorable to scoring runs (wind blowing out, dry air, altitude, hot, etc.). The inverse is also true. Sometimes when we score few runs the opposing team does as well because conditions are not conducive to offense.

    If you are willing to back up your sense that he gives up the lead I am intrigued by it. Please look it up. Does he do it? How many times? And how many times are in your data set? For instance, did you just look at the last 5 starts? That can be valid as long as you specify that.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    I personally think the losing the lead is more of a recent phenomenon exhibited in both of his past 2 outings against an explosive Colorado lineup that's returning to health. I'd also add Darvish didn't really blow the lead last game leaving with a 3-1 lead in the 6th and a runner on 1st and 3rd with 1 out. Kyle Ryan actually blew that lead and Rizzo made a pivotal error that inning as well making a bad throw on a potential DP. I don't even think Darvish was even close to the form that he's in now over the 1st month when he was leading the league in walks. He was flat out bad early on with his command especially, but I think he's throwing the ball better lately. I think his improvement in form started 6 starts ago in Cincinnati and I'm interested to see what he does moving forward now that he's seemingly found improved command. I expect if he continues to throw strikes as he has recently then the recent numbers should hopefully improve. I would like to see him take a step forward with his bottom line numbers though now that he's in midseason form, and has reestablished his health

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    OK, but why take just 5 outings? SSS is a thing for you stats guys, no? It certainly is for me. I actually think of myself as a stat guy, too, most avid baseball fans are, really. It's just that lately some people take it to such an absurd, uber-pretentious level, that guys like me who love the stats want nothing to do with the uber-stats people.

    So I looked at every start Yu made this season. Admittedly, this is mostly eye-balling, there is no deep dive here. But just looking at a cursory level, there are some interesting things here.

    My focus is only on those games where the team spotted Darvish a lead (usually in the first 3 innings but not all were that early). The games where the other team jumped out early were ignored. I focused also only on the next inning or two, after the lead was provided.

    Here is the entire list of such games that I could see:
    1. Tex - Cubs up 3 in the 1st, Yu gives up 3 total next two innings.
    2. Mia - Cubs up 3 in 1st, Yu gives up 1 next inning
    3. Stl - Cubs up 1 in 1st, Yu gives up 2 next 2 innings, 5 next 3
    4. Mia - Cubs up 2 in 1st, Yu gives up 1 next 3
    5. Cin - Cubs up 2 in first, Yu gives up 0 runs next 2
    6. Phi - Cubs up 1 in 3rd, Yu gives up 3 runs next 3
    7. Cin - Cubs up 3 in 4th, Yu gives up 2 next inning, 3 next 2
    8. Co - Cubs up 3 in 5th, Yu gives up 3 next inning
    9. Co - Cubs up 4 in 4th, Yu gives up 4 next inning

    To me, it looks like a definite trend that, if given an early lead, the wheels immediately either get very wobbly or come off altogether. There are a few outliers (games 2 and 5 in the above list) where he managed to stay strong after given a lead, but the usual response is to start leaking oil immediately after having a lead.

    Now I'm not saying Yu will not change this narrative as the season goes on, just that the narrative so far is that he is not reliable when in front. And I don't mean to pick on him, I've always been one to watch how Cubs pitchers can handle a lead. I believe the guys who pitch well when out in front will generally get better offense from his teammates than those who can't hang on to a lead effectively. It's a mental part of the game that can't be easily tracked by statistics.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Joel Mayer:

    Hef, Thanks for bringing data. I'm not sure what all the "you stat guys" is about. I do have a question for you. You picked a data set that fit a definition. Which is fine. It is actually a decent size data set. You used that data to support a conclusion: That Yu Darvish, when given a lead, tends to cought it up relatively quickly and lose the lead.

    What other possible explanations did you consider? I am not saying you are wrong but I am not sure that I feel comfortable taking data that is pre-sorted (games where Darvish gave up the lead after the team got a lead for him) and then conclude that it is a trend toward what the data is sorted for. Or did the other starts all fit the alternate category where the team got behind early and never had a lead?

    And, yes, 5 games would be a SSS. But it can illustrate something. I wouldn't be very confident in the "conclusions" but it can be an indication.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    We definitely have not got the best version of Yu during his Cubs tenure. However I think it's also important to remember that he briefly pitched injured last season, and he scraped off a lot of rust in April after almost a year off of pitching healthy. He is beginning to look better. He needs to have more of the killer instinct to begin attacking hitters and trust his stuff. He did just that at times last night, and even after giving up the HR to Arenado, he got him out in his next AB by challenging him with all fastballs. That should be a confidence booster to Yu. I do think he needs to get more comfortable throwing his fastball up in the zone, especially in a place like CO where the low pitches are more susceptible to the launch angle plan of attack we see today.

    Sure he did cough up the 4-run lead just like that, but I think that's just partly due to Coors Field and thin air. He was good enough to win last nights game. He left with a no-decision, and the bullpen really coughed this one up. I liked the adjustments that Yu made in game and thought he should've pitched the 7th inning instead of Monty. Montgomery is perplexing to me, as he's knows as a good ground ball pitcher, yet he sure seams to give up the long ball all too often.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    I just replied, but it got caught up in the filter.... Maybe someone can help it find it's way into the eyes of the readers.

  • In reply to HefCA:

    Thank for the research Hef. I think Yu flat out was in awful form the 1st month and a half leading the league in walks which is very uncharacteristic when you analyze his track record. Don't really think his early season performance is defensible, but I do think the walks have proven to be an anomaly. I think people referring to the recent starts do so because he's seemingly found his control starting from that start in Cincy. It's funny because Sahadev Sharma actually argued in the past that Darvish is usually a front runner meaning his career numbers indicate a basically dominant pitcher when he has leads. Definitely odd how with the cubs that he hasn't been as effective with leads. I think it's more of a by-product of flat out not being able to control his pitches early on in the season then a major going forward concern. I'd also imagine that he's had some of the worst relief backup in baseball. Kyle Ryan practically blew his start against colorado at Wrigley last start. And I vividly recall him being amongst the league leaders in inherited runners that ended up scoring at least through April. I know a number of Carl Edwards horrible outings happened with 2-3 of Darvish's inherited baserunners on. I personally am not that worried about him especially currently slotted as our 5th starter. I was concerned earlier this year when he was walking guys at an absurd rate, but recently he's throwing strikes and eating more innings. He definitely deserves criticism for the start to his cubs tenure but I think he's throwing the ball a lot better right now then he did at any point in his cubs tenure. Would I cancel the contract if I could? Sure I didn't really want to pay any starters that offseason to begin with if I'm being honest. But I do the overall process of his recent outings show a clear progression. Hopefully he can string some wins together and build some confidence.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Your points regarding the early season wildness, which has straightened itself out recently, and the poor BP support (at times) are valid. I, too, think Yu has improved. I also like that he has taken responsibility for bad performances, and for coughing up leads. He's not that guy who just shrugs his shoulders, as if there is nothing he can do about it. I'm hoping he starts nailing down those starts where he does have an early lead. If he does, he will be a real asset to the team.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    So why did the cubs offer him $126M. His numbers while improving don’t seem to justify his pay. If he continues to improve when does he get to break even . His WAR for the yr per baseball reference is 0.0. Surely he needs to get to at least 2 for the yr. and unless he turns it up even more he won’t get there. Is he another example of the FO lack of understanding of FA?

    Lester was not an unknown to them. Why will he improve?

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    They made a decision based on his numbers and track record at the time he was signed. He was projected to get $150 million do you have statistics to support that his career numbers aren’t in line with his free agent market value? Like I said I wasn’t in support of a mega deal for darvish or even arrieta that offseason. I generally shy on giving mega deals to physical specimens that rely on pure stuff. Guys like Lester and Hendricks age more gracefully in my opinion, unless your name is max scherzer

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Correction aging 30+ year old physical specimens that rely on pure stuff.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    As for why he’ll improve the stuff and spin rate are still there even at 32. His peripherals have vastly improved over the past 6 starts. And his K:BB ratio are all trending in the right direction. I’m no proponent of his deal but I think TC54 is absolutely right that there’s reason for optimism going forward, esp given that he’s this loaded rotations #5 starter

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Ran out of reply buttons, so I’m up here. This gets into the discussion others had earlier on. Don’t they have scouts? Dodgers didn’t want him. Peripherals are nice but don’t they need someone see him pitch/more than once. If they rely on numbers only why do they need to scout him?

    He’s a reverse Jake. Cubs didn’t want Jake for the amount he wanted, so he went on a much shorter deal elsewhere. They got Yu for a little less than he wanted . I’m disappointed if they only relied on his numbers.

    I like Yu as a person but am disappointed in his production for the amount they paid him. Not Yu’s fault, therefore I guess it’s mgmts .

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I’m not satisfied with his production either stix. But I think a lot of the issue is as simple as he pitched well most of his 15 year career, and simply hasn’t pitched well for the cubs. We have to remember that he was out essentially all of last season. This is just my theory but I think he mostly just had trouble finding his form early on in his return, as illustrated by his horrendous walk rate and peripherals through the April/early May. But as TC said he has about a 3.54 FIP his last 6 starts. The value of his performance isn’t in line with his deal thus far I don’t think that can be questioned. But my concern is moreso getting him back on track rather then worrying about his contract bc we’re stuck with him and jhey. I think in that regard there’s progress and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that ERA under 4 for the remainder of the season. I personally think if he stays healthy that better days are ahead of he continues to throw the ball like he has the past 6 starts. It’s on darvish to prove that he can continue to throw strikes and stay healthy now. He’s in mid season form physically now and I’ll be disappointed if we don’t see better days ahead

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to kkhiavi:

    Stix, how do you know that the Scouts weren't the ones asking for Darvish. When he was signed there was a lot of talk about how the Cubs got a TOR starter at a bargain basement price. TOR/#1 starter is usually NOT a stat based thing. Sometimes vehemently so (I remember years ago asking what kind of stats a TOR starter should put up and was poo-pooed and lectured on that it is a "stuff" label).

    Yes, people that look at stats sometimes make mistakes. "Scouts" sometimes make mistakes. It is a difficult game to evaluate. EVERYONE is wrong sometimes. The Cubs took a gamble on Darvish. It isn't too late for him to turn things around.

  • I'm extremely disappointed that Ken would use this website and space to spew his hatred for someone who does not share his views on human sexuality - and that the administrators of this site would allow it. It's ridiculous that this column, a column written about a baseball game, should even mention Murphy's beliefs. Is that the point we've come to in America, that we must hate every person who THINKS differently that we do?
    Additionally, just so everyone is aware, I SHARE DANIEL MURPHY'S RELIGIOUS BELIEFS. Attacks on Daniel Murphy are attacks on ME. I have no plans to abandon my religious beliefs, certainly not over a baseball website. I'm not here to argue for my beliefs, as I recognize that this isn't the place (as Ken should have), but I'm certainly not here to be attacked for my beliefs, either. Nor do I care to engage in an endless debate with those who demand "tolerance" while they refuse to tolerate the viewpoint of anyone who doesn't toe their politically correct line.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Good point. If or wants tolerance, he must be tolerate.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    This is why this site has gone down hill in the past couple of years. This is a very poorly written article. And for the first 1/3 to be written about non baseball statements is sad!!!!!! And to have a poster comment about his beliefs is a joke. I come here to try to learn about baseball. I do not care about your opinions on outside baseball beliefs. I wish you would had just left it at ripping the author but instead you made it about your self!!!!! Posters like this have turned this site to garbage.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    The only reason I commented about my personal beliefs is to point out that comments like the ones that opened this article are an attack on every Denizen who doesn't share the writer's beliefs. I agree that the subject shouldn't be discussed here, but then, I didn't write the trash that brought it up.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    I don't think it's that egregious Wait, we do pretty good here staying on baseball overall. Talking and freedom of speech is important stuff, even when it's disagreeable in our society. Denizens do a good job policing themselves.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Even though I thought the article was funny. ( sue me) and I cannot speak for Ken, but I don't feel he was trying to offend anyone or single anyone out purposely. I am sure it seems like that to some, but it was more likely just a a writer going off on a tangent. I am sure when he thought to write something about Murphy, he was going to limit it to a couple lines and leave it at that....... Its sort of like a comedian telling a joke and it getting a great audience response so they try and build off it.

    Maybe I have grown up having thicker skin then most. Not being white and growing up in America, lets just say it presents its own challenges from grammar school to the real world and leave it at that.

    Personally I think if an editor had read it or something like that, they would have been like; "hey you need to tone this down a few notches" and I am confident he would have. We have to all remember this a free website w mostly volunteers so we should be
    able to cut them some slack from time to time vs criticizing at will.

    Delirious rant over.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    I can buy that Ken wasn't pushing an agenda, but I think also that Cliff was principled to call him out. Often the the fascists left and the religious right mask pushing their politics with seemingly unintentional or sneaky bullying with the written word on an unrelated subject. I'm ashamed to say I have done that once on this site. John called me on it post haste.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Agree with all you said. I rarely comment, but I come here every day to learn about baseball.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Cliff1969:

    I think he was trying to be "snarky" and "glib" but the article came across, to me, as "preachy." There's a reason John insisted to leave politics out as much as possible.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    "THE CRY FOR TOLERANCE HAS BECOME A REJECTION OF THE TRUTH."

    Not mine, I saw this at the end of an email this morning and it seemed to resonate.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Very well said Cliff.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    There are very fine people, on both sides.

    Snowflakes too.

  • In reply to TTP:

    Lol. I think Ken was just trying to make America great again. Currently help is needed.

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    I agree with you, Cliff, 100%. I will never visit this site again. I am surprised he chose to spout off such anti-Christian bigotry on a baseball site that I have been reading every day. I share Murphy's beliefs.

  • Len mentioned that there was a 13 home run game yesterday. Home runs are St. Louis boring! I like how the rockies have tried to combat them with distance and high outfield walls. It might not be a popular option to fans but I hope MLB would consider a minimum OF wall height. Raise em up! Obviously, Wrigley doesn't have many options but they could get rid of the basket, for one. Raise your hand if you'd miss it.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    Getting rid of the basket invites fan interference calls. That’s why I think the baskets were originally installed. Now the fans can’t get to the ball in left and right because of the scoreboards blocking the section from the fans. I guess they could also get rid of them in dead center.
    I think they need to be kept in the areas where the fans can reach over the wall.

  • In reply to stix:

    I seem to remember that the Cubs put the baskets in to keep front row fans from dropping items on opposing players.

  • In reply to DropThePuck:

    Well it didn't help Daryl Strawberry from getting doused with beer every time he went back to the wall in the 80's.

  • In reply to stix:

    Stix, I actually think the reason the baskets were put up was to stop bleacher fans from jumping onto the field once the Cubs began winning in the late 60’s......

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    In reply to Wickdipper:

    I've heard both theories and both theories "discrediting" the other one by saying it is a myth.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    There was a definite occurrence when some of the Bums started jumping from the bleachers, I just can’t remember when. At the end of the ‘67 season after the last home game there were so many in shock that the Cubs finished in 3rd place it was almost an after party atmosphere. The fans did not want to leave......and it took a longgggg time to empty the ballpark.
    Actually, it was pretty great lol.....

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Just did an internet search and found a CBS sports article which indicated the basket was put up to avoid fan interference. Found a Yahoo sports article which indicated the baskets were put up to prevent fans from jumping on to the field.

    So now that we know the reason- NOT . I guess the original question still stands- should they be removed is still open for discussion, if anyone thinks it will reduce the HR rate.

  • In reply to stix:

    Lol......the “interweb” will definitely give 1000 different points of view.....
    If it was me? I’d yank ‘em......I think it makes for a cheap homerun.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    I, myself, am actually concerned by the amount of homeruns. Something just doesn’t seem right and I would think seriously, more than likely, the ball is being constructed differently......Yelich is good, really good.....but he is NOT 60 homer good.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    The ball is juiced, that's for sure. Not only that, but Miller Park seems to be juiced too; perhaps a side effect of Braun's usage?

    Yelich has 19 HR at home, and 5 on the road this year.

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Even more lopsided is that he's got 18 more PAs on the road...

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    Whether the balls are different or not, I think a bigger contributer is just the 3-true-outcome hitting philosophy being adopted by ALL organizations now and the results are such. Something HAS to change. MLB seems to be coming around to players having fun but if their attempt at creating new fans is just guys pimping homers all game, then I'm out.

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    homers, walks, and strikeouts... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • In reply to DarBar15:

    I’m with you Dar.......personally I want to see the shift CRUSHED.....where 4 or 5 guys get so good at going the other way they come close to .400 for the year.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Wickdipper:

    If a guy "goes the other way" enough to hit .400 teams will stop "shifting" on him. Or they'll shift to THAT side of the field.

  • In reply to Wickdipper:

    The shifting fad might actually help fix the HR problem. Guys will continue to get better at going the other way and we should be back to classic baseball.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to DarBar15:

    I agree with you that HR, K and BB are all relatively high right now because teams have all come to the conclusion that that is what wins games on offense and pitching. EVERYONE is looking for a guy who can strike guys out (usually with overwhelming FB velocity/spin). Try to avoid issuing BB. Conversely, batters are being trained to try to get on base and hit HR. If you are good enough at it we will tolerate a lot of K's. I think eventually it will reach a natural extreme and it will then be something for a brave organization to take advantage of: get a bunch of guys with relatively little power but the ability to put the bat on the ball and roll the dice with the BABIP dragon. They might be cheap enough to allow the team to then afford 1-2 sluggers and a couple really good pitchers. I think it will mostly likely be done by a team like the Twins. Relatively low budget, willing to "develop" talent. But we've not reached the point yet where that is enough of an inefficiency to make it something worth trying.

  • In reply to Joel Mayer:

    You're probably right. It's a game of trends. I just don't like this one.

  • fb_avatar

    I couldn't of said it better Cliff1969 and I couldn't agree with you more!!!

  • Had to stop reading all of Sam's stuff at a point in time when I liked the Hawks and the CI was one of my go to's. IF I see anymore of this from Ken, I will have to stop reading his stuff too. Hope I don't have to leave the whole sight.

  • Hello everyone,

    I just got around to reading the recap and everyone's comments. As you know Cubs Den does have a no politics policy. I'll be honest in that I am not sure I ever communicated that to him when we brought him onboard earlier this year, so the fault lies with me on this. I've messaged Ken to ask him to refrain from it in the future.

    I apologize if anyone was offended.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Michael, see this Cubs Den post from August 26, 2018 by Fels following the acquisition Danial Murphy.

    http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2018/08/anarchists-brunch-it-doesnt-mean-what-you-think-it-means/

    There was ample discussion of Murphy's views on this site when he was acquired. I defended him and the Cubs because I recognized that Murphy has a sincerely held religious belief. I also defended Fels' post and the commentary, although not his views. As I wrote then in response to a comment by Cliff1969:

    "Cliff, I disagree with Sam's take on this, but I wouldn't say this topic does not belong here. Sam's article isn't the only media commentary on this subject. It is something that is being discussed widely and it does involve the Cubs, one of their players and their fans. Indeed, Laura Ricketts has now commented on it. So I'm certainly OK with the discussion here."

    And I would defend Ken too. I love Ken's humor in his posts. In fact, I wish he appeared more often.

    Michael, my point is that sometimes baseball intersects with politics, especially on social issues. In fact, baseball has often led the way on the advancement of social issues. Jackie Robinson, for example, a few years before Brown v. Board of Education confronting the atrocious, decades long racism and discrimination in the sport. Ken Burns's brilliant and epic series demonstrated that perfectly. And more recently, there were Hader's teenage comments and the standing ovation he got in Milwaukee after they came to light. Next it might be a player with a swastika tattoo.

    I think we all agree that general political issues should not be allowed at all here. But when issues arise in connection with a baseball player that intersects with political issues Cubs Den should allow and, indeed, encourage those discussions. We should not be afraid to go there. In fact, one the most impressive things about this site and Denizens specifically is -- with an occasional exception here or there - is the respectful tone of the dialogue -- as it was on August 26, 2018. Sometimes a player may say or do something that touches on politics or social issues such that a large contingent of fans find him odious and unacceptable. And fans should be permitted to comment on that here and others should be permitted to express their disagreement so long is it done respectfully.

    We can disagree about Joe's batting order or Cubs trades or other things involving the Cubs. We can all also disagree with a players political or social views if a player goes there. Murphy went there. I defend Ken's right as a writer for Cubs Den to go there too.

  • In reply to TTP:

    That is not the point of this site. This site is to argue who cubs should trade for or who Joe should bat guys. It shouldn’t be use to discuss politics or bash or promote a player based on religious or political views. To throw Jackie Robinson in that type of conversation isn’t the same as Murphy. My point is it is hard to draw the line where it stops so it is better left out. I also don’t care what Ken’s views are or Cliff’s views on religion or politics. I care about stats and rumors.

  • In reply to TTP:

    Ok, but when the author of this article “goes there” then point counter points should be expected.

    People aren’t coming to this site for that though. I don’t. And I have some very strong opinions on this matter (amongst many others) & against those whose opinions will turn out to be very hypocritical on who has to tolerate & who doesn’t.

    I respect Michael’s wishes, so I will refrain from voicing my opinion for now, however, & go onto the next baseball related article. I will conclude with that I’m not offended by the article, but it shows a lack of judgement by it’s author. Go UBS!

  • In reply to Milk Stout:

    *Cubs... don’t know what happened but ...

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Thanks Michael this thread is a perfect example of why these types of conversations should be avoided. It’s the type of debate where people are either strongly favoring one side or another. Just ends up with disrespectful arguing every time, and i respect everyone’s beliefs but I’d just drop this topic and move onto baseball. Michaels aware of this issue now let him address it

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Not much disrespect going on above at all. If some one disagrees with someone’s views they could so state. Or they could just ignore and move on. What’s the big deal?

    Oh and watching tonight game, I kept thinking that I hate Murphy. And that has nothing to do with his homophobia. He kills the Cubs. But when we had him he sucked ass. So fuck him. (Sorry, I didn’t give an advance trigger warning for the F word. Do I need to apologize in advance if I offended anyone’s sensibilities?).

  • In reply to TTP:

    Wow. You are not acting/responding very classy. The second part didn’t offend me it just shows your level of being a classy person. Post like this is why I say this site is going downhill.

  • In reply to TTP:

    The topic is clearly heading in a negative direction TTP that's why Micheal had to step in. I respect your beliefs and I can fully understand how this topic can rile people up emotionally. That's why I'm preaching just move on there's no way to discuss this topic without offending someone. That's why I suggested we drop it and move back onto baseball, and last time I checked this happens to be a baseball site.

    I wrote something similar on Murphy can't stand the guy because he selectively torments the cubs, while sucking when he had a chance to make a playoff run here. Facts are he really hasn't had a distinguished career other then a year or 2 in Washington.

  • In reply to TTP:

    "Do I need to apologize in advance if I offended anyone’s sensibilities?"

    No, you simply need to follow the forum rules, as does Ken and everyone else. Your argument seems to be that we should ignore those rules for issues that you determine are worth discussing. Michael makes the call as to when politics and social issues are allowed, just as he decides whether the "F" word is acceptable on the site he administers. Based on his determination, the rest of us decide whether to participate and to what degree.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    Nobody’s asking you to apologize. Nobody cares to read what your religious beliefs or political stand you take. If u are gonna apologize it is mixing in your own views into a baseball related blog.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    he was quoting TTP, not asking a question.

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    You'd think the quotation marks would have given that fact away, wouldn't you?

  • In reply to KJRyno:

    My bad. Thanks for clarification.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    You've made your position clear multiple times. I clearly explained why I brought it up and why it was pertinent to my point. I have not mentioned my religion or political beliefs in any further post, and I certainly don't require your continuous admonishment not to do so. Give it a rest, already.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    You have no right to tell me what you want or don’t want me to do!!!! If you don’t like it then don’t respond. If you respond then you should expect a response. If you want it to rest then it is a 2 way street.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    That's funny. Blah, blah, blah.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    I have been a Denizen far longer than many/most here. I do follow the rules. My lengthy comment to Michael was an argument as to what those rules should be. I never comment on politics here. But, as I wrote, its a grey area when baseball and the Cubs intersect with political/social issues. And American grownups should be able to handle such discussions without resorting to threats of leaving the country, or more narrowly in this case, leaving this site.

    And, BTW, John Arguello did allow cursing on occasion. Not cursing at fellow Denizens, but cursing as part of poetic license. Because he was a grown up too. My last comment was blocked initially last night. I assume it was because I chose to use the F word to express exactly how feel about Murphy. If it only got through because Micheal let it go through, then I'm glad Michael did so and I thank him for it.

    Let's Go Cubs!

  • In reply to TTP:

    Schwarber Homers Again. Cubs lead 5-0. Yes!

  • In reply to TTP:

    I've always respected your insights, TTP. I may, or may not, have been around Cubs Den as long as you have. We disagree on the need for a change of the rules, but I respect your opinion and your right to express it.

  • In reply to Cliff1969:

    That’s funny.

  • In reply to TTP:

    I understand that some social conversations intersect with sports. But John mostly didn't want to have to monitor these types of conversations. As an athletic subscriber, I can tell you that the most out of control forum discussions occur during social discussions. There was plenty of talk about Murphy's religious beliefs and Russell's DV accusations. A number of related articles comments forums got so out of hand that they had to disable the comments for the article. These topics are extremely divisive and you have many people on both sides all disrespectfully arguing to people that will never ever share their viewpoint regardless of what is said.

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