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wrigley scoreboard featureAnd the U.S. Little League Champs hail from Chicago – it’s Jackie Robinson West, which has folks pretty excited. Chicago is only my adopted city, but I still feel a little bit of that reflected pride. Good on you, young men. And good luck today in the world championship game against South Korea.

  • With a spate of recent wins (five of their last seven), the Cubs are now merely the 6th worst team in baseball (tied with the Phillies), and are within striking distance of four other teams. I’m not going to overtly complain about winning, because obviously, but I will say that following the team’s record in this way is pretty important: only the teams with the bottom ten records in baseball have a protected first round pick when it comes to signing qualified free agents this offseason. All things equal, you’d rather the Cubs had one of those protected picks, just in case they wanted to sign a top tier, qualified free agent (note that Jon Lester, for example, cannot be made a qualifying offer since he was traded midseason). Again, that “all else equal” actually means something: if winning a crap-ton of games the rest of the way is a product of some huge development milestones that sets the Cubs up even better for 2015, then so be it. Bring on the unprotected pick. But if the wins, themselves, are not of critical importance going forward, then, well, you know.
  • Although he’s functioned as the Cubs’ closer for quite some time now, Rick Renteria (wisely) indicated that Hector Rondon is just one of many options the Cubs have to close out games going forward, depending on how situations play out, according to CSN. It depends on your personnel, but having one set guy who *always* pitches in the 9th inning of games with 1, 2, or 3-run leads – and never any other time, and never any other pitcher – doesn’t strike me as sound strategy. Right now, most of those situations should be Rondon, but mostly you just want your best arms to be in there in the most important situations. I like that Renteria seems open, at least nominally, to some flexibility. But then he called Pedro Strop “Stroppy,” and I had some frightening flashbacks.
  • Rondon, by the way, continues to be awesome, with a 2.06 FIP, a 25.2% K rate, and a 6.2% BB rate. That .329 BABIP will probably continue to creep down, if not this year, then next year. Through just over 50 innings, Rondon has been worth 1.4 WAR to FanGraphs. Like I said, he’s awesome.
  • A Tribune piece on Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio and the young pitchers with whom he’s been working.
  • It sounds like Nate Schierholtz is coming up to join the Washington Nationals, who last week signed him to a minor league deal. That’ll save the Cubs about $100,000 in salary relief. Things!
  • Either I hadn’t been paying attention, or the stories faded for a while. Either way, it’s back: conflict between Ryne Sandberg and his players in Philadelphia. Two of the team’s young players levied veiled criticism at the decisions of their manager, which, even as the criticism was mild, is pretty striking to see aired out.

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