The Ups and Downs and Other Bullets

jake arrietaI’ll have pictures to share soon, but I was pleased to see/learn that (1) the BN group at the game last night for Social Media Night was shown on the WGN broadcast a time or two; and (2) the Cubs welcomed BN on the centerfield scoreboard mid-game. It was very cool to be included in the experience in little ways like that, and I think – whether intentional or not – it typified what something like “Social Media Night” can be all about.

  • After two great starts to begin his Cubs career, the Jake Arrieta that vexed Orioles fans for so long showed up last night: obviously good stuff, not great command, too many walks, getting himself in trouble. It wasn’t like he was going to suddenly live into his potential after coming to the Cubs, so an outing or two like this is to be expected. It’s all a process, and the upside is so obviously high that it’s worth it – for this Cubs team – to stick with him through as many hiccups as there are this season. I suppose that’s probably what the Orioles were saying to themselves for years before finally moving on. Hopefully Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio can work some long-term magic with Arrieta, as he seems to have done with a number of Cubs pitchers in his time with the organization.
  • Although he TOOTBLAN’d to end the game last night, Anthony Rizzo had his biggest game at the plate in a long time. With three hits (including two homers) and a walk, Rizzo raised his OPS 20 points(!) in one late-August night. His line stands at .232/.325/.437 on the year, which, when you consider his .254 BABIP, is actually pretty encouraging.
  • Bruce Miles has Dale Sveum’s thoughts on why he shifted Starlin Castro around so dramatically in the last two games (from 8th to 1st), and on why Anthony Rizzo was in the two-hole last night. It sounds like it is, at least in part, similar to what I said yesterday when the lineup was revealed: there are five weeks left in the season, and the Cubs might as well give these two as many plate appearances as possible.
  • Mark Gonzales does his first mailbag since taking over the Cubs beat for the Tribune.
  • Tony Andracki talks to Brett Jackson, whose struggles continue at AA. Jackson remains optimistic and focused, but it’s kind of a hard read right now, given his struggles. You’d hate to see a guy who is so good in all phases of the game flame out because of one particular struggle in one phase of the game (i.e., making consistent contact – kind of an important one).
  • Jesse Rogers on Logan Watkins, who has been firmly stapled to the bench since being called up three weeks ago.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

53 responses to “The Ups and Downs and Other Bullets”

  1. Jay

    Has Dale yet explained what the %$#@ Russell was doing in there against Hairston?? I mean, he loves to throw his own players under the bus for their bonehead play—be nice to see him man up about his own idiotic moves.

    1. C. Steadman

      its not like hairston was our platoon RF against lefties…dale was sleeping or something

      1. willis

        Dale is a terrible manager. Has been and will be. That’s the only explanation we need.

        1. gocatsgo2003


          1. willis

            And writing in all caps is so cool. Or completely annoying and ridiculous. Those of you that do it trying to poke fun at someone’s opinion need to shake things up a little. It’s tired.

            1. gocatsgo2003

              My point remains — blanket statements are typically flawed and amongst the least-nuanced arguments possible.

              1. C. Steadman

                but this one is true..his managerial record is terrible!

                1. gocatsgo2003

                  Which clearly has nothing to do with being consistently handed a sub-par roster… nope.

                2. DarthHater

                  Please see first five years of Joe Torre’s managerial career. Man, that guy really sucks!

                3. C. Steadman

                  *sarcasm* …c’mon sheldon cooper

                  1. DarthHater

                    Sorry, too subtle for me before I’ve had my fifth cup of coffee. :-P

                    1. C. Steadman

                      haha no worries..but outta all people..i thought you, the master of sarcasm on this board, wouldve caught on

                    2. DarthHater

                      Me? Why, I mean everything I say and am never sarcastic.

              2. DarthHater

                I disagree with Willis’s opinion of Sveum, but at least he was concise. Had he made less of a blanket statement, he would have had to belabor his obviously incorrect opinion at greater length, which would be more annoying. :-P

              3. willis

                I’m not going to get in a tit for tat argument about this. I think that he is not a good manager of a baseball team, and I don’t think he will be a good manager. He’s shown a shit load of ineptitude and continues to do so. He continues to make mistakes that cost his teams games. At the end of the day, yes it’s the player on the field and their performance, but he’s pulling the strings to put them there and I believe he’s not putting his players in the best position to succeed.

                1. TWC

                  Really? You really think this? Huh. You should try mentioning it once in a while.

                2. Jay

                  I gave Dale a pass last year because no one could win with the bag of crap he got handed. Not this year when he’s had more brain cramps than Starlin Castro…..

            2. DarthHater

              Very true. Use of all caps should be reserved for poking fun at people who themselves state their opinions in all caps. Poking fun at someone just for their opinion requires the use of more incisive and brainy wit, such as: What do Ewoks know about managing a baseball team, anyway? ;-)

              1. willis

                Hey, we took down the empire on Endor with ropes and rocks and Spears. I think we could manage baseball :)

                1. DarthHater

                  Bah! ;-)

                2. C. Steadman

                  i want a pet ewok…i’d name it willis

                  1. willis

                    A pet ewok would be glorious. They are very independent yet would make great companions. Plus they love beer.

                3. Jason Powers

                  I want a pet Kate Upton…I’d name her Girlfriend.

                  1. C. Steadman

                    dont we all…

          2. RIPAtticusFinch

            What’s the price of tea in China?

  2. King Jeff

    Would like to see Watkins get more playing time, but I don’t see Barney or Castro sitting too often. Maybe he can get a few games in the outfield?

  3. ISU Birds

    James Russell has lost whatever he had because I could hit his pitches right now. He’s just out there throwing batting practice.

    1. willis

      This. He’s a wreck out there. Hopefully next season the LHP in the pen is Rosscup and maybe Raley.

      1. Jay

        Did you say Raley??? He makes Russell look like Steve Carlton.

        1. willis

          I said maybe Raley. I agree he hasn’t shown too much but with a straight on bullpen role he has some talent to be effective.

  4. Robert

    Really don’t see the point in calling Watkins up just to sit the pine.

  5. caryatid62

    Gammons’ article about Rizzo is pretty interesting–it seems like it will just be another narrative piece, but then provides some solid evidence on Rizzo’s issues squaring up fastballs.

    Whether or not you agree with the conclusions, it’s a good demonstration of evidence-based reporting.

    1. Jason Powers

      Looks like those low in pitches, that lefties typically smoke, are missing in 2013. That should not stay the case, unless the bat speed is slowing to get to inside pitches. At his age, that does not seem a high possibility.

      It seems too that in 2012, he may have seen more Fastballs down the pike and mid-thigh away or at least did something really good when he did.

      I’d have to check, but is Rizzo seeing more or less fastballs? If less (undoubtedly), then the times when he does, he’s just been a tiny bit off. It happens.

      He’s got a month to hit end over 25HRs, at his age…that can only get better, precluding injuries.

      Question: would we live with a .260/.340/.450 type at 1B? We got .445 out of Grace, for comparison, with a .386 OBP. If Rizzo could get near to Grace’s OBP, but better pop, which Rizzo is by the WAR stat at 24 years old, I think his current struggles are pretty acceptable.

      The BABIP has a role in this too.

    2. jt

      The first assumption is that Rizzo is the same hitter as he was last year. But he changed his swing. So he is not the same hitter as last year.
      The article goes on to state that he hits more fastballs in the air. Is that by design? If so, then he has changed his approach so Gammons’ 2nd assumption that his 2013 stats should mirror those earned in 2012 is not valid. Perhaps he is having trouble driving only the balls that hit for grounders last year. Perhaps that would explain the decrease in average distance of fly balls.
      Finally, he assumes that he should be hitting pulled fly balls further than those he he hit to LF last year. But he also asserts that he is hitting fewer balls out of the k zone. Could it be that he was feasting on balls on the outer third and even off the outside corner for singles and doubles and is now trying to lay off those pitches so as to force inside pitches that he can smack for HR’s? Could it be that he is still learning the new swing and developing ways to eliminate blind spots and holes?
      He hit a couple of meatballs last night but the swings looked easy and relaxed. The night before he hit another moon shoot that he couldn’t quite keep fair. Yeah, he has to learn to keep that pitch fair. I imagine that is not an easy task. But I think he is getting there.

  6. Kyle

    I don’t think you put Arrieta in your rotation because you think that at his age he’ll suddenly turn into a superstar. You do it because even with the hiccups, he can average out to a useful pitcher.

  7. Jason Powers

    At least if Arrieta’s stuff remains, he can be worked into a very solid option.
    (And well, it is not like we want to win TOO many games here in the last 5 weeks. As some noted, we could be in the top 5 in the draft again! )

    1. On The Farm

      Crazy to think if the season ended today that the Cubs would have the 4th pick, but are only two wins worse than the #10 Giants. Nothing is locked up yet, our boys are going to have to dig down deep if they want to make sure we load up with more prospects.

      1. Jason Powers

        Reason to give the Watkins train a ride…NO Playoffs! Jim says so..24395722.jpg

        1. Jason Powers


          1. Jason Powers

            Jim Mora rant….jimmora.jpg

      2. ACA

        After a bit of research, I found out that the tie breaker for draft picks is determined by who had the worse record the year before. The Cubs own the tie-breaker over every team (netting them the better draft pick) with the exception of Houston (who they won’t catch anyway). The way the White Sox are playing, the Cubs could easily end in the top 3 of the draft. This is what I am rooting for.

        Thank you for listening.

        1. Jason Powers

          Your welcome.

          Oh, the potential of being bad…SUPER BAD!Superbad-Wallpaper-superbad-156448_1024_768.jpg

          1. TWC

            Maybe it’s time to stop trying to post images, kid. You’re striking out like Adam Dunn.

            1. DarthHater


              1. Jason Powers

                I wish I had Adam Dunn’s mucho dinero….

                You can always right click to see the image. I know, that’s hard and time consuming. As if BN is not time consuming.

                Like your rimshot, you Stewart Copeland?

                1. TWC


                  This kid cannot post an image to save his life, but it’s not his fault! It’s *your* fault for not right clicking the broken link!

                  1. DarthHater

                    Kinda makes you appreciate me even more, doesn’t it? :-P

                  2. Jason Powers

                    A) not a kid
                    B) i find em dont develop em into perfect fits
                    C) not faulting to explain a technique to see them
                    D) matters not…do or do not
                    E) you must be STING!

  8. another JP

    Jake will get it figured out- you don’t have the games he had against the Brewers & St. Louis w/o having ML talent. Travis Wood had his share of hiccups and is now quite solid. Let Arrieta work out his control issues and he’ll be lights out for us next year.

  9. Losing makes u better 62-100 > 75-87

    Jake Arieta reminds me of Edwin Jackson. Maybe even less consistent. Both great stuff but their command holds them back from being front line starters. I think Edwin is a good #4 and I think Arieta might have a little more upside bc he’s younger and maybe he figures it out but I see Arieta being a potentially good #4

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