The Taylor Family is moving. It’s just an in-town move, but, with two little kids, it’s a production. We close this week, and then start moving stuff – that’ll continue into next week, so you may notice intermittent absences/delayed posting this and next week.
- Scott Baker looked reasonably good yesterday against the Brewers, even if the velocity wasn’t where you’d like it to be (he sat in the 87 to 89 mph range, touching 90 – a few MPH below where he was in his pre-surgery career). He didn’t get many strikeouts (the one he did get came on a legitimately nasty slider to Yuniesky Betancourt), but he threw five shutout innings with just two hits and a walk. The most interesting thing about the performance is what Dale Sveum said after the game. After initially offering very little (“First time out, he did a great job and we’ll leave it at that and evaluate going forward.”), thankfully Sveum expanded to say that he’s not yet saying yes or no as to whether the Cubs will go with six starters the rest of the way, per Cubs.com. There is a lot that goes into deciding what’s next for Baker (including how he feels today), and it’s something that I’d think would have to be discussed at an organizational level.
- For his part, it sounds like Baker felt good about the outing, and added that he was pitching to the conditions (wind was blowing in), which could explain the volume of balls in play. We’ll see if he gets another start or two before the season ends, or if he gets a handful of innings out of the pen. As I’ve said, I don’t think you can definitively learn whether Baker is “back” based on a small number of September innings. Instead, I suppose you can evaluate – and this happens as much in between his starts as it does during them – what kind of deal would make sense on which to try and bring Baker back in 2014. The Cubs, if they want Baker back at all, will undoubtedly seek a one-year-plus-option deal for very little guaranteed money (depending on their internal evaluations, a minor league deal (with a good split rate) doesn’t seem impossible at this point). So long as the Cubs aren’t counting on Baker as the 5th starter, I have no problem with them bringing him back on the right deal.
- Much more on Baker here from ESPNChicago.
- In an interesting follow-up to the Anthony-Rizzo-batting-second-then-back-to-third-because-second-is-for-slapping thing, Sahadev Sharma spoke with both Rizzo and Sveum on lineup construction. It sounds like neither completely buys into modern theories on lineup optimization, and Sahadev, for his part, notes that most believe even the optimal lineup might net your team only one win over the course of a season (to which I say: when a team is in a playoff race, one marginal win could be huge). Sveum suggests his ideal two-hole hitter would be a pull-lefty (which, in turn, suggests to me that his belief on the role hews a little more closely to the old school bunty-slappy stuff than the best-overall-hitter stuff). More importantly, though, Sveum understands that it all depends on personnel. The Cubs, right now, don’t have enough impact bats in the lineup for any of this stuff to matter. Give it a read.
- Pete Ricketts – one of the Ricketts Family members who sits on the board of the Chicago Cubs, and, together with his siblings, owns the team – is running for governor in Nebraska. Pete hasn’t been visibly involved with the Cubs on the same level as Tom or even Laura or Todd, so I don’t know that his attentions being taken by campaigning will have any noticeable impact on anything in our world.