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jake arrieta cool catSad news about Robin Williams yesterday. He was born in Chicago, you know.

  • It sounds like Jake Arrieta felt better (Cubs.com) about his performance last night (which you may have guessed from the better results, but it’s always good to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth), at least until the 7th inning when some of his pitches flattened out. He worked down in the zone, especially early when he was getting some soft grounders. After the game, Arrieta discussed his position as the Cubs’ de facto ace, and it’s a role he wants (CSN). Certainly Arrieta has the demeanor for it, given that it seems like nothing rattles him. Like closers, “aces” have to have a very short memory after the rare start in which they struggle. That’s pretty much what Arrieta showed last night.
  • For the most part, Arrieta’s position as ace will come down to what the Cubs do in the offseason. In that regard, does it really matter if Arrieta is “the ace,” or the guy the Cubs pick up externally is “the ace”? I just want to see the Cubs with a rock solid front three, and then with a host of excellent back-end options.
  • … speaking of which, another 4/5/6/7 flyer will start his journey back for the Cubs today, with lefty Felix Doubront starting a rehab assignment (calf) with Iowa (Tribune). Doubront had past success with the Red Sox as a starter, but struggle this year with injuries and ineffectiveness out of the pen. Still, the talent is real, and the Cubs got the 26-year-old for a PTBNL. Although it’s technically a rehab stint, Doubront’s stay at Iowa is really more like a minor league demonstration of his ability, and an opportunity for the Cubs to work with him as we head toward the offseason (not unlike what’s happening with Dan Straily).
  • As noted in that same Tribune piece, Brian Schlitter is headed to Mesa to rehab his shoulder inflammation.
  • Did you miss the catch of the night yesterday? It wasn’t a Cubs player. It was a fan. Carrie Muskat caught up with him soon after the catch and got a nice story.
  • Arismendy Alcantara is going through the natural adjustment process that all young players face at the plate, hence his recent struggles (Cubs.com). As with Javier Baez, it’s probably good that the Cubs got Alcantara up now so that he can get real big league experience under his belt, heading into 2015.
  • Chris Valaika not only understands his realistic future, but he’s embracing it and going hard after it. That is to say, he knows that if he’s going to stick in the big leagues, it’ll be as a utility player – so he’s trying to add catching to his tool belt.
  • In case you were wondering about the impact of calling up top prospects on attendance:

  • History has shown us again and again that the bump you see from a single player just doesn’t last. The only tried and true way to significantly elevate attendance is to be in a playoff race. That’s the case even for the Cubs, and even for a fan base that is starved for something to be excited about. Winning, winning, winning. That’s what does it.
  • Great read on Carlos Villanueva’s role as a member of the MLBPA’s executive board.
  • Rick Renteria speaks about the final stretch of the season, and the value the Cubs will get – developmentally – from facing so many teams in playoff races (ESPN). Anthony Rizzo mentions that, while the Cubs are out of the race, even the players sense that something is starting to come together.
  • At least one LA writer believes the Dodgers grabbed Darwin Barney – giving up a decent pitching prospect to get him – because they didn’t want the Giants to get him. Good for the Cubs, I suppose. And good for Barney, who finally was called up by the Dodgers.
  • Read up on the importance of baserunning as a skill. This appears to be something that even “slow” guys can become very good at.
  • I was on Radio Depaul over the weekend, and, if you missed it, you can listen here.

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