Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

junior lake cubsMichigan/Notre Dame is tonight, but it is not a traditional rivalry, so don’t get excited. I kid, of course, about Brian Kelly’s comments, because I can see what he was saying.

  • Junior Lake is getting a lot of love for his grand-slam-followed-by-bunt-single performance yesterday, which I also found to be swell (though maybe not as unbelievable as others – both are parts of his game). Overall, Lake has a very nice .346 wOBA over 197 plate appearances with the big club (.299/.342/.446), making for a solid debut. Combine that with average defense in center field (or better – we’ll see) from a cost-controlled player, and you’ve got the makings of a guy you’re legitimately very excited about. The only problem? Yup, it’s the same as it’s been: a .382 BABIP suggests Lake is in line for some serious regression, and the 4.6% BB rate/24.4% K rate tandem don’t inspire confidence. At .270/.310/.400, you’re going to need to play above-average defense in center field to provide meaningful value to your team (as we’ve discussed here¬†and here).
  • Scott Baker has earned a chance to start, says Dale Sveum, per CSN. I have no problem with the Cubs giving Baker a look this month, but when the manager is already saying things like, “[Baker will] be the first one to say his stuff doesn’t have the life …”, I can’t help but wonder what we’re really going to learn from a start or two. If he has no velocity, but gets outs, does that mean he’s evolved into a crafty junkballer? If he looks almost normal, but gets blasted or has no control, are we sure it’s the end? I suppose I’m just saying: take the start(s) for what it’s/they’re worth. The decision on bringing Baker back in 2014 is going to have more to do with projecting his health/stuff/velocity and his contract demands than it will have to do with what results he gets this month. Baker starts tomorrow for the first time since 2011.

  • Tom Ricketts was at the Smokies’ first playoff game the other day, and hopped on the call for a half inning, talking about a wide range of topics – non-Chicago facilities, Wrigley renovation stuff, minor league stuff. Good listen. For the record, Ricketts reiterated that the real meat of the renovation work at Wrigley Field probably won’t begin until after next season (though he held open the possibility that the work could be done in three offseasons after that, which would still be the same five total offseason time line … that would be great).
  • The 2014 Cubs Convention dates are already out: January 17, 18, and 19. Start making your plans, especially if you’ve never been. Even when the Cubs are down, the Convention proves to be a good time.
  • Recent DFA’ers Michael Bowden and Cole Gillespie have cleared waivers and were outrighted to AAA Iowa. Each is likely to become a minor league free agent after the season, and could head elsewhere on minor league deal/non-roster invites next year.

  • No High-A Daytona Cubs game yesterday, due to a weather postponement (imagine that). They’ll try for the second game of the Championship Series again today.
  • As for the Tennessee Smokies, a 7-1 loss has the Cubs’ AA affiliate down 2-0 in their divisional playoff series. It’s a best of five set, so it’s now or never for the Smokies, who send Eric Jokisch to the mound tonight to keep the series going.
  • On the bright side, the Boise Hawks took the first game in the Northwest League Championship 5-0 over Vancouver (also best of five). Dillon Maples did the heavy lifting for the Hawks, throwing 6.1 scoreless innings, striking out 7, while allowing 6 hits and 2 walks. Game Two is tomorrow afternoon.

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