June has arrived. With it comes the Draft, the real start of the trade rumor season, and the lead-up to the international signing period (which opens July 2). And, of course, lots of baseball. The Cubs are making things interesting lately, winning five in a row, and looking impressive in doing so. Some of the winning is simple positive regression – as we’ve discussed at length, the Cubs are probably a good deal better than their record reflects – and doesn’t necessarily mean that the Cubs have turned a corner. The real question – one that I hope we get to talk about for several more days – is how many games must the Cubs win in June for us to start thinking that the sell-off plan isn’t the right move this year. Well, and how many losses from the likes of the Cardinals, Reds, and Pirates, who are currently dominating baseball.
- Matt Garza threw 82% fastballs yesterday, per Cubs.com, which is impressive given the excellent results. ”He kept it simple, fastballs to both sides of the plate, up and down, mixed in his breaking stuff and kept the balls off the barrel,” D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said, per Cubs.com, which comports with Garza relying heavily on the fastball (i.e., the keep it simple part). I assume that was game plan thing, which Garza executed quite well, it appears. Through three starts, Garza’s numbers look great: 3.38 ERA, 1.125 WHIP, and 9.0 K/9. The only piece that you’d like to see improve a bit is the 3.9 BB/9. Note: Garza walked no one yesterday.
- Bruce Miles on Dale Sveum, Pythagoras, and run differential. Doesn’t that tease make you want to read it? You should. Sveum offers his thoughts on the Cubs’ record so far, and how he knows that the Cubs are better than their record reflects.
- Bob Brenly, who is back at Wrigley announcing for the Diamondbacks this weekend, sounds a little wistful when he talks with ESPN about his time in Chicago. He does admit that it was tough to call the games the last couple of years when the team was performing so badly.
- Another sabermetric analysis of Jeff Samardzija’s emergence – this from Beyond the Boxscore – concludes that it’s legit, and can last. He may very well be a true ace.
- ESPN’s Jim Caple on the need to renovate Wrigley Field. The timing of his piece is odd, but, hey, yeah: renovate Wrigley Field.
- Vine Line spent a few days with Tom Ricketts to see what it was like to own the Cubs. If you think Ricketts doesn’t feel pressure to build a winner for the fans, you’re wrong.
- A great profile on outfield prospect Albert Almora from CSN. I’m usually not one for the practical impact of ethereal concepts like “drive” and “chemistry,” but you really do get the sense that Almora will always outperform his ability (which is considerable to begin with) because of his enthusiasm/drive/energy/intelligence/whatever-you-want-to-call-it.
- Kane County pitching prospect Pierce Johnson and third base prospect Jeimer Candelario land on Baseball America’s latest Hot Sheet – the former for being hot, the latter not-so-much.
- At yesterday’s game, a young fan got a little too excited about his new baseball, and dad had to save the day (from MLB’s Tumblr):