So, here’s where things stand standings-wise: the Cubs are two games worse than Rockies with three games to play. Because the Cubs hold the tie-breaker, the only way the Cubs could not finish with the second worst record is if they sweep the Astros, while the Rockies are swept by the Diamondbacks. In other words, the Cubs’ “magic number” (in reverse) is just one. If you fancy yourself a mathlete, even if you think the Cubs have an 80% chance of beating the Astros on a given day (I’m being generous), and even if you think the Diamondbacks have an 80% chance of beating the Rockies on a given day (again, generous), there’s still only a 26% chance that the dual sweeps happen in a way that hurts the Cubs.
- Matt Garza had some supremely high compliments for Cubs manager Dale Sveum, and, in the process of offering them, takes a back-handed swipe at the previous coaching staff. “If this [injury] happened last year, you wouldn’t see me, I’d be home,” Garza said, per Carrie Muskat. “I like coming here and hanging out with the guys. I have a whole different perspective on this thing and a whole different hunger and I’m chomping at the bit …. I told him we’re on the verge of [100 losses] … and I told him last year we were close to .500 and I hated every day of my life coming in here. It was miserable [last year]. I said, ‘This year, I enjoy it, and I look forward to coming in here.’ I said, ‘You brought that back, so thank you.’ Last year was a trying year. This year was a different type of mental fight but I can actually enjoy this one …. [Sveum]’s more open, more sociable with us. He treats us like players. It’s not like, ‘This is you, this is you’ — he gives you the opportunity to fail. The way he’s handled the situation we’re in right now, it’s tough. It’s tough for him to keep it the same way each day, that’s huge …. To end up with a guy like Dale is awesome, especially coming from the situation last year — I’m not even going to go into it — but this is awesome.” Wow. I mean, I can’t even make a cat’s pajamas joke. That’s just a flat out annihilation of all things 2011 Cubs, and especially Mike Quade. Strange to hear from a guy who, in the Winter, talked about how much he loved being in Chicago and playing for the Cubs, but I guess this time he really is happy? Whatever the case, I still like Garza a whole lot. I like what Sveum has done, generally-speaking, so I’m glad to hear that they’ve clicked. Keep in mind that other guys said wonderful things about Mike Quade last year and the year before, so this could just be a personality mesh kind of thing. Recall that Garza and Quade didn’t exactly end the year with hugs and kisses after Quade asked Garza to strike out on purpose so that Starlin Castro could try and get his 200th hit at home.
- Chris Rusin on his time in the big leagues, which he hopes will continue next year. “It’s tough because everything is thrown at you,” Rusin said, per Carrie Muskat. “You really want to do well because you feel this is your only opportunity to make a good first impression. I try not to worry about that. Today was my last outing, and I wanted to give it my all and whatever happened happened, and just have a good time out there.” Rusin is not assured of a rotation spot next year, but he’s very likely earned a spot in the Spring Training competition.
- The Daily Herald interviews Len Kasper, who sees the offseason as all about acquiring pitching.
- Want to dig into the WAR formula for each of the various places that publishes WAR values? Well, they’re proprietary and mostly secret, but here’s a good start.
- The MLBullets at BCB look at the playoff races, which have all just about resolved themselves.