travis wood beardPneumonia Watch, Day 5: The Wife is actually home today, helping out with The Little Boy. She and I were going to take a trip to Chicago this weekend, just for fun, so she had already scheduled the day off. Unfortunately we won’t be able to go to Chicago, but I think she’s enjoying the extra time with Clark, who seems to be very much on the mend.

  • Travis Wood was fantastic yesterday, and was brought out to start the 7th inning despite already being at 104 pitches. That’s not what I would have done, but Ricky Renteria told the plan was that, if anyone reached base, Wood would come out. Wood left an ugly changeup up in the zone, Neil Walker ripped it for a double, and Wood was pulled. That started the horrible, game-losing 7th inning … but I don’t really have a beef with it. For me, in April, I pretty much would end any pitcher’s day at 100 pitches in that situation, and I would have started the inning with the bullpen. But Walker is a much better hitter against righties than lefties in his career, so putting Wood in there to face him before going to a righty in the pen is a perfectly acceptable decision. Ditto the decision to go to Brian Schlitter (it was a four-run lead) and then James Russell (lefty-on-lefty). That those decisions didn’t work out doesn’t necessarily mean they were the wrong decisions.
  • Javier Baez, the youngest player in AAA right now, hit his second homer of the season yesterday, but his overall line is just .154/.214/.423 with 10 Ks in 28 plate appearances. And yet I’m not nervous in the least. We always knew there was going to be an adjustment process, and, according to eyes on reports, Baez has missed an additional four home runs in the last few days by a combined 25 or so feet. Imagine the stories if he had five homers in his first week at AAA?
  • Tommy Birch reports that Baez is dealing with a slightly sore back, which apparently is something that happens from time to time, because of his huge swing (watch it once, and you understand). It’s probably not a big deal, but you do wonder if he’ll be able to continue tolerating that kind of physical violence as he gets older.
  • The Cubs are going to improve some local baseball fields for the community, which raises only one question: when is the community meeting so that a few grousers can complain?
  • Everybody loves Super Emilio 64.
  • A profile on Cubs pitching prospect Paul Blackburn, who has added 50 pounds of “good” weight over the past couple years.
  • Sahadev Sharma will be in studio with Connor McKnight on 87.7 The Game at 10 am this Saturday for an hour of baseball talk. You should listen, because they’re both swell.
  • Oh, The Onion. The Cubs are sardonically skewered once again by the witty publication, which seems to take on the Cubs quite a bit, relatively speaking. I suppose when you provide so much fodder for humor …
  • Also, I chuckled:

  • Soda Popinski

    You sure hope Baez’s swing won’t be an issue with his health. That’s what makes him special (coupled with his mediocre bat speed). I’m not sure if this is a good comparison, but Matt Holliday has a super violent swing and has stayed mostly healthy all of these years.

  • waittilthisyear

    glad to hear your boy is doing better. you know what’ll cure us cub fans? sweep in st. lou, how bout it

    • D-Rock

      Ditto. It’s our annual world series!

  • jrayn

    Baez is so young, by the time he comes of older playing age there will be a generation’s worth of medical advancements keeping him on the field. In fact, are any of us sure he’s not part robot right now?

  • hansman

    Good to hear Clark is doing well. Pneumonia isn’t as scary as it was but still not fun.

    • Brett

      Yeah. You hear “pneumonia” and “infant” and you pretty much crap your pants as a parent. But, so far, knock on wood, it’s been ok.

  • Petey28

    I’m kind of glad Baez has missed those additional home runs. It will keep the uninformed masses from clamoring for him to be called up. I’m glad to see Castro doing better as well. Don’t get me wrong, I want to see Baez eventually make his way to Chicago, but I think this time at AAA is a big benefit to him.

  • ced landrum

    it is interesting in the Rogers article for him to talk about Almora raising havoc like Bonifacio has been. I just don’t see Almora as that type of player.

  • Q-Ball

    Brett, thank you, I agree with your analysis of the 7th. It’s so easy to criticize a manager in hindsight. The decisions were correct, Schlitter and Russell just did not do their jobs. Russell flat out hung that curve to Alvarez right in his wheelhouse; it was a brutal pitch. It couldn’t have been more meaty.

    Schlitter is the obvious choice to be sent down when Arrieta returns (barring another injury), and with Russell you have to wonder if something is wrong. I am watching Rosscup at Iowa, because I think he’s going to be up sooner rather than later. Given his $1.75 mil salary, I also think this is Russell’s last year with the Club.

    • ced landrum

      Yeah it was good moves all the way around. I didn’t have a problem with it. Now him continuing to sacrifice bunt over and over again is getting a bit annoying.

      • headscratchin

        This is pretty much where I’m at. The pitchers didn’t execute but I am beginning to wonder if Russell can execute any more or if he is used up.

        The bunting on the other hand? Don’t understand that at all. Maybe Tommy Lasorda could shed some insight. Wasn’t he the small ball Zen Master??

        • Ron

          I think that some of bunting, Lake and Kalish in particular are them doing it to try to get a hit. It is not a call from the dugout. But to your point, Valbuena’s bunt was a bit disappointing in that it was not executed.

          • ced landrum

            I am strictly talking about the sacrifice bunting. If a guy has speed like lake and kalish I have no problem with them bunting occasionally.

            • headscratchin

              But even with that, Ced, I think Kalish picked the wrong time to try it, in my opinion. If he had been successful, the base runners would have all moved up one, but we needed a hit to drive in the run from second in that situation.Probably some learning curve still going on there.

              • ced landrum

                Yeah that wasn’t a great decision but Rizzo was up next so it wasn’t a terrible choice.

    • Funn Dave

      Agreed on all counts.

    • Alan Griffin

      I agree. Both Schiltter and Russell had been good, by the numbers, up to that point. What’s more, maybe the Arrietta call-up was a factor and Ricky was high on giving Schlitter, a likely candidate to be replaced, a look in a relatively low-pressure situation.

      Just as the FO is preparing for the future, so is the manager. Sorting out the bullpen prior to Arrietta’s return and the inevitability of Vizcaino’s call-up, at some point, must be a factor in Renteria’s decisions on which arm gets the call. I can’t fault Ricky for poor pitcher performance.

  • D-Rock

    That is great news about Clark feeling better. Hope he is back to 100% ASAP! We’ll be praying for you guys.

  • Darth Ivy

    I feel a little guilty for having Pedro Alvarez on my fantasy team. I also just picked up joe kelly, so….yeah… (he’s getting tonight’s start against the Cubs)

    • CubFanBob

      I would be in first place in my league if I didnt have a personal rule about sitting players playing against the Cubs. Real life team over fantasy team bra !.

      • Darth Ivy

        I’ll probably do that when the Cubs start playing for something better than .500

  • BlameHendry

    Both Schlitter and Russell need to go. Wish they would have traded Russell back when they could have gotten something for him. I have never understood the love for Russell. There was one small stretch of time (I think in part of 2012?) where he was pretty good, but that’s it, and he’s been garbage ever since. He cant even do the job of LOOGY properly.

    Schlitter NEVER should have made the team over Parker. That move still boggles my mind.

    As for Baez, the news about his back scares me. He’ll be able to deal with that in his 20s, but in his 30s he’s gonna have to cut that swing down, and without that violent swing he’s most likely just another mediocre infielder.

    • ced landrum

      I like Blake Parker, but him and Schlitter are a toss up as far as ability. I think Ramirez deserved a look though.

      • BlameHendry

        how can you even put them on the same level? Schlitter has a much lower floor than Parker…

        • ced landrum

          I am not sure how you can say that he has a lower floor. Actually I think Parker has a higher ceiling because of his ability to miss bats, but Schlitter has better control. At this point the Cubs need to see what they can get out of both of them. Parker had his shot in the spring and wasn’t effective.

    • Jon

      It’s rare to get value for relievers any more, especially mediocre ones, so let’s put this to bed. Yeah the Cubs got Wood for Sean Marshall, but Marshall was coming off a season where he was the best LHRP in baseball.

  • Forlines

    Glad to hear your boy is doing better Brett. Not a parent, but the P word and little ones involved is quite scary from what I hear

    Last nights loss really stung, but when you look back at how we picked up 1 or 2 of the runs (can’t remember if we scored on both errors or not), it doesn’t seem to smart AS BAD. If the Bucs played better defense, we wouldn’t have the lead we did. Just my way of coping with such a hopeful moment being wrecked.

    Overall, I am just really impressed with how Wood is pitching. It’s getting to the point to where if we lose Shark, I won’t feel nearly as worried, if we get a great haul that is. I’m not calling him a TOR, #1, Ace, or anything of the sort, but he is becoming a real beast. Our lineup overall actually is pretty nice.

  • JesusPotter

    My brother and I are going to the game in Memphis tomorrow. I’m going to be super pissed if Baez has to sit because of his back. We’re on the front row and I was hoping to be deafened by a Javy-Bomb.

  • terencemann

    Actually, that article reminds me of one of the best quotes in a baseball movie. In Fever Pitch, Jimmy Fallon’s character (as a kid) is taken to see the Red Sox by his uncle who tells him: “Careful, kid. They’ll break your heart.”


  • Funn Dave

    Clark?? You named your kid after the Cubs’ mascot??

    Jk. I’m glad you’re using names now, though–I didn’t wanna say anything, but referring to your family as The Wife and The Little Boy, etc. always seemed a little impersonal to me–like they only existed as extensions of and in relation to Brett–which of course I’m sure wasn’t your intent at all.

    • Brett

      They’re still The Wife, The Little Girl, and The Little Boy. Clark’s name is often discussed, because of the Clark Street thing (our Clark came way before the mascot).

      It is both intentionally impersonal and not self-aggrandizing. I just don’t really put their names out there much because they’re not here to discuss themselves. (Although The Wife – Gretchen, for the record – occasionally stops by (usually to drop an angry comment that I dissuade her from making (indeed, if she sees your comment, she’d probably want to “correct” you)), and I fairly frequently mention her on Twitter.)

      • Funn Dave

        Right on. I appreciate the explanation. Like I said, I know you didn’t mean it to be self-aggrandizing–I always figured it was for confidentiality purposes or something.

        • Brett

          Started out that way – technically, I referenced The Wife and The Little Girl (for a month or two, anyway) while I was still “Ace.” Then it just became a thing. I like it. And they’re not here, so, yeah, that’s pretty much it.

  • Funn Dave

    I’ve had a sore back for weeks, and Tommy Birch doesn’t give one shit. What gives?

  • candyland07

    The Onion made me laugh . I remember back in the late 70’s My parents would give me 25 dollars (I’d have to do odd jobs to earn those dollars) Game day I was ready , Hop on the Addison bus. I would then have to decide how to spend those 25 dollars . Do I buy a bleacher tickets , Box seat or grandstand.? Depending on which ticket bought might mean extra monies for other stuff food, A souvenir, and drinks. It was a good lesson – money management at 12 And the stress of what to do. And i had to always call my mom during the 7th inning stretch .

    My dad sometimes would meet me at McDonalds after the game depending on his work schedule. He would ask me did they win ! I guess most of the time i would say no – he always laughed and said that why i dont go the games .anymore.

    Being a fan is not looking at the numbers when you your child- its the fun factor, Trust me its not at the ballpark anymore.No more autograph booths everything is fast paced

    I just wanted to share

  • CubsFaninMS

    A team that has a more established roster will most likely see more success in the first month of the season. Teams like the Cubs that have a team full of high-upside yet unproven young players will have to get more of a feel for who should play which position. You put those young players in a situation to succeed. If they don’t, you know you must make adjustments. We will see failures like the one Schlitter had because of this. Those who are screaming “play the kids” then complaining when one of those kids fails one or a handful of times need to be more realistic. This is part of the process, the growing pains. I believe they’re doing exactly what they should right now. With a team full of unproven players… having them compete for a full time spot on the roster. The situation will sort itself out but the growing pains will continue as they adjust. Then later on in the year the adjusting will be pronounced as well with the possible additions of Baez, Hendricks, Villanueva, Bryant, Alcantara, and company. It’s all part of the process. We’re seeing some positive signs from some of our young players (Grimm, Rizzo, Castro, Lake) so that’s what I’m focusing on. If not, games like yesterday cause a heartburn.

    • jp3

      I’m not sure this team as it sits now on the 25 man roster has a ton of upside. If you’re counting the guys in the minors I get that but right now we’re outgunned pretty much any team we play against.

  • jp3

    The onion also had an article a couple years ago about the renovation, amazingly the article is dated mid 2012 and to this day not much has been done… Very sad.,29479/

  • fromthemitten

    The funniest person here needs to get a job at the Onion and write scathingly satirical articles about Cardinals fans holding a KKK rally “the right way”

    • Jon

      That would be satire though, more like local news.