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javier baez featureI sorta, kinda ignored the Notre Dame – Michigan game from this past weekend. Not in terms of following it, but in terms of discussing it. Some of you noticed. But what can I say? Michigan’s program is quite clearly in a rough place right now – has been for a very long time – and got their clocks cleaned. It sucks that a blowout was the way Michigan went out in the series, but it happened. I guess I’m so used to dealing with beat downs, both in my Michigan love and my Cubs love, that it doesn’t affect me like it once did.

  • Because of his characteristically calm demeanor, it’s hard to know whether Rick Renteria is actually feeling frustration, but he was definitely disappointed in last night’s loss, telling the media, including Cubs.com, that it was “probably the worst game we’ve played all year.” Obviously it was a blow out, which is never good. Renteria didn’t get into specifics, though, about what particularly frustrated him, saying only that, “These men know that there are a lot of things that we have to do, but certainly staying in a big league ballgame is one of those things that requires a lot of commitment in terms of bearing down, really continuing to play the game and being aware of the whole circumstance.” From there, Renteria went on to explain that the effort was there, and this is just part of the learning process (Tribune).
  • Whether that particular loss was the worst of the year or not, it’s easy to understand the frustration. The Cubs were just coming off a 12-6 stretch where they’d swept the Brewers to cap it off, and then they got swept at home by the Pirates in ugly fashion. Then they lose two ugly games in Toronto. I’m sure it’s frustrating. This is just the nature of baseball, though, and of the swings you see in a given season. It didn’t help that the Cubs lost both Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, and that they’re relying primarily on young players going through an adjustment process. I’m still excited, but it’s worth keeping these things in mind for 2015. I got into this stuff quite a bit more on last night’s episode of BNTV.
  • Speaking of the future … you kind of hate seeing quotes like this from an opposing starting pitcher (Cubs.com): “It’s kind of tough, I even told [pitching coach Pete Walker] coming into the game, this isn’t a really good matchup for me because I like to pound the strike zone and he kept on saying, ‘Hey these guys like to swing, so maybe the first few pitches throw them off the plate and then hopefully they can chase after them,'” Mark Buehrle said after the game. Woof. Hopefully, by next season, with some development, convalescence, and roster management, an opposing pitcher won’t be able to game plan for the Cubs simply by deciding not to throw strikes.
  • At least it was a good night for Javier Baez, who doubled, singled, walked, was hit by a pitch, stole a base, and struck out once (looking). Baez increased his OBP 20 points in one game ( … up to .229), increased his wOBA 15 points ( … up to .263), and increased his wRC+ 10 points ( … up to 61). So, yeah, the numbers still aren’t great for him on the season (his K rate dropped only 0.7% to 41.2%), but it was a good game. Embrace it.
  • (On that one strikeout, by the way, Baez took a called strike three and nearly got himself tossed expressing his frustration. Live, it didn’t really look like a bad pitch, and, indeed, Brooks confirms that it wasn’t particularly close. Clear strike.)
  • Marcus Stroman dominated the Cubs a couple nights ago, but he still offers plenty of praise for what’s coming (Sun-Times). I’ve got no beef with how things ultimately played out, but you can see why the Cubs really wanted Stroman, among others, in their talks earlier this year with the Blue Jays.
  • Tony Andracki with some deserved love for Luis Valbuena.
  • FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel continues his look at player tools and scouting here and here. Some Cubs players/prospects feature prominently in the examples.

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