So, ‘Game of Thrones’ is over once again. In total, I thought this season was good, but not quite as good as the first two seasons. The penultimate episode of Season Three notwithstanding, it didn’t feel like a whole lot happened. Just a lot of marching in the direction of things happening. That is not to say that I didn’t love it, or that I won’t be impatiently awaiting its return for the next 10 months.
- The secret to Edwin Jackson’s results matching his underlying performance? Not taking the game too seriously. “Today I just told myself come out and have fun,” Jackson said of yesterday’s game, per Sahadev Sharma. “Whatever happens, let it happen. Have fun, stay relaxed, stay loose and just play the game. Sometimes we take the game too serious and we get confined in a bubble. Today I was able to come out of that bubble and have some fun out there.” Yes, it may have been a matter of seriousness. Or …
- Rather than belabor the argument I made earlier in the season (the one about Jackson pitching much better than his ERA suggested), I’ve made it a point to highlight his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching – an advanced stat that focuses only on those aspects of a pitcher’s performance that are within his control) in Pre-Gamin’ posts for his starts. It’s my subtle way of reminding folks that the advanced stats say Jackson has pitched as well as he ever has, but was simply having the bad luck associated with balls finding holes and all hits coming in bunches. After yesterday’s start, Jackson’s FIP is down to 3.39 – 18th best in the National League. no, you don’t completely throw out the 5.76 ERA. But it isn’t the end-all-be-all of a guy’s performance, and I believe Jackson is an extreme example of how it can be misleading.
- (Dale Sveum pretty much nailed the Jackson issue before the game, per Bruce Miles: “All it takes is for half of the groundballs to be caught. Unfortunately, they just seem to be finding holes. Obviously, we put a lot of effort into putting people in the right positions and the calculations. His groundballs seem to be overwhelming to the opposite of where they’re supposed to go. It’s unfortunate that’s happened quite often. He’s keeping the ball on the ground, on the earth. In big situations, the ball is just going through the hole constantly. It’s unfortunate.”)
- I think some folks thought my Jeff Baker comment in yesterday’s EBS was sarcastic, but it wasn’t. When Jeff Baker was at his best with the Cubs, he was a quality utility infielder (and part-time outfielder), who crushed lefties. He was very good at it, and he was very valuable in that role. To date, Cody Ransom has provided very similar value for the Cubs. In other words, he’s playing like Jeff Baker when Jeff Baker was good for the Cubs. And Baker’s doing the same thing for Texas this year.
- Kevin Gregg’s save yesterday was his first in nearly a month (May 12). Usually that’s something you say about a guy who’s been struggling, but that isn’t Gregg. The Cubs haven’t won many games during that stretch, and, when they have, the wins have tended to be blowouts.
- Josh Vitters is headed to Arizona to finalize his rehab on the rib cage strain that put him out of commission in late May. He should be back soon, though he’s already had several injuries this year, which have limited him to just 19 games.
- Speaking of Iowa third base prospects, Junior Lake is impressing everyone in his first few days at AAA, particularly at the plate, according to Tommy Birch. That said, he’s already made five errors, and he’s not really a “third base” prospect – he plays there some, as well as the outfield. He’s going to keep moving all over, and a key to his future success in the bigs is the ability to play passable defense at a large variety of positions.