Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

kris bryant aw manThe Wife asks me this morning, “Did the Cubs win?”

“Yeah. Came back from three down in the eighth.”

“Oh.” (She, too, is largely unmoved by the Cubs’ comeback shenanigans these days, since it’s such a regular occurrence.) “Are they in first place now?”

“No. Cardinals are ahead by a half game.”

“Eff them.”

“Yeah. But the Cubs are in a playoff spot right now.”

She smiles. “In April.”

(Technically, the Cubs are tied with the Braves for the second Wild Card, so they’d have to play a tiebreaker game to win that spot. But, you know, April. We were just having a little fun.)

  • Scott Boras was in town last night to watch his latest client debut, with Addison Russell called up to the Cubs (yes, he’s a Boras client, too). That meant Boras had a platform to discuss a range of things, including the Kris Bryant service time issue. Since Bryant was called up on the very first day he could be called upon while still granting the Cubs an additional year of team control, you could understand why Boras – who was already railing loudly against the way teams can unilaterally maneuver service time – wanted to offer a solution. His idea? Have a panel of experts decide a player’s readiness for the big leagues in situations where they are sent down at the start of Spring Training. You can read the full parameters here at ESPN, but you can imagine how this goes over like a lead balloon. Usually Boras’s ideas, while driven by the singular interest of expanding player (and, by extension, his own) wealth, are well-thought-out and often compelling. This one? It’s a dud. I’m sure teams would just love the idea of a panel of “experts” picking apart their decisions from a performance AND development perspective, going deeply into the behind-the-scenes factors that go into promotions/demotions and roster management. Maybe Bryant’s case was clear-cut to some, but they’re not all going to look like that. In fact, most won’t. Further, you’d have the panel trying to push someone else on the roster out of a job … they’re union members. The whole thing is just a non-starter, and I’m not even sure it opens an interesting discussion, as Boras’s ideas about free agency, the draft, and national baseball events often have.

  • Also, this:

  • So far, through five games, Bryant is hitting .444/.583/.611, which is hilarious and fun. He’s looked damn good at the plate, too. Some things that probably won’t last, though: a .571 BABIP, a 16.7% K rate, a 20.8% BB rate. Then again, his mere .167 ISO isn’t going to last, either. It’s a fantastic start, but don’t let yourself get too crazy on the expectations just yet. It’s five games. (In which Bryant is on pace for 15 WAR. Heh.)
  • Also: Bryant’s double last night was amazing.
  • Like with Bryant’s debut, Addison Russell’s debut was just kind of an “OK it’s over” kind of thing. He made a good play in the field, and had a forgettable night at the plate (though he had a nice liner after waiting back on a curveball in his final at bat – it just happened to go right to the shortstop). I don’t have much to say that I haven’t said already – it was fine. On to the next. Russell’s success/ability to contribute to the Cubs will be determined over a long period of time, not just one game.

  • Russell comments about his debut here. Joe Maddon believes Russell can handle the rapid pace of his promotion.
  • On the 9th inning last night, the moniest of money quotes from Starlin Castro ( “When I saw Rizzo get on base and the double by Soler, I said, ‘That guy has no chance with us today.'”
  • I’m not sure Welington Castillo gets enough credit … for his bat flip game. No, it’s not Valbuena or Puig level, but it’s been pretty solid the last couple years. Also, that homer was a shot.
  • Javier Baez could be back at AAA Iowa soon, according to Joe Maddon (CSN). Baez has been out since his sister, Noely, passed away on April 8, and the organization certainly isn’t going to push him to come back any earlier than he’s ready. This is one of those situations where you simply cannot fully appreciate what another person is going through, and what they need. Baez and his family need whatever they need, and he’ll be back when he’s back.

  • So, home plate ump Joe West didn’t have a great game last night:

  • That’s the map of his called balls and strikes against righties last night (you can see the ridiculous strike three call against Jorge Soler there in the bottom left corner), and that’s just a really poor showing. So many strikes called way outside the zone, and so many balls called well within the zone. Throw in a couple ump show moments, the badly missed out call at home plate on Kris Bryant, and then the highly suspicious decision not to overturn his own missed call, and it was just a bad night for Mr. West.
  • Earlier this morning, Luke wrote about the next potential youngsters to come up and help the Cubs, together with your notes and highlights from the latest minor league games.
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