Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

fernando rodney marinersThe Cubs face Clayton Kershaw tonight, having already lost two games in a row. So they might lose three in a row. The last time they lost three in a row, they followed it up with six straight wins. Don’t get yourself too bent out of shape if the Cubs do lose tonight, mmkay?

  • If you missed the Cubs’ trade last night, they picked up down-on-his-luck-or-maybe-performance reliever Fernando Rodney. Mostly I landed on feeling like it probably won’t hurt, probably didn’t cost anything, but isn’t likely to pay off. You never know, though, with a guy like Rodney who has been extremely good in the very recent past, and this CBS piece does a good job of looking at the strange struggles of Rodney this year. He should maybe still be good … but he isn’t. So maybe he will be with the Cubs? I’m struggling to formulate a strong opinion either way on this one.
  • Of the addition, Joe Maddon discusses just how good Rodney was with him on the Rays, and how eager he is to see what the big righty can bring ( Something that struck me while reading his comments: an underrated part of making these kinds of “low risk” additions is considering how they’ll impact the clubhouse. I don’t just mean the obvious “the guy isn’t a jerk” stuff – I mean the existing relationship between Maddon and Rodney that tells Maddon he’ll be able to work Rodney into the mix without disrupting anything that’s already going on. Otherwise, can you imagine how odd and difficult it’s gotta be to join a new team with just a month left in the season and try to get yourself comfortable enough to turn things around and perform at a high level? That doesn’t mean Rodney will suddenly be good again just because he’s playing for a manager he knows, mind you. It just means the entire transition could be smoother.

  • Also: I am unabashedly pro the arrow-shooting celebration and the hat tilt. Come at me.
  • Dexter Fowler, who fouled a ball off his shin earlier in the week, is still pretty sore and might not play again today, according to Joe Maddon ( I hadn’t really been worried about this, given the other lineup machinations yesterday that made sense to give Fowler an extra day off. But if he misses tonight’s game, too? Against a tough lefty (he’s very good batting right-handed)? Then you’ll know things aren’t quite right. I’m a little nervous, though not quite “scared” yet.
  • Dave Cameron takes on the playoff inequality issue with respect to the NL Central this year, but ultimately lands on unpalatable or unrealistic solutions. It’s an interesting read, and it’s a topic that Michael also wrote about recently. For me, I don’t like to have my views swayed by one particular year where the thing happening is going to negatively impact the Cubs (because it’s just as plausible that the thing could positively impact the Cubs in the future). I think the one-game Wild Card playoff is probably good for the sport (and I know the addition of a second Wild Card certainly has been … can you imagine a system where this Cubs team finishes with 95 wins and doesn’t even make the playoffs? Yikes), even if I recognize deciding a “winner” in a single game series is silly. The only part of all of this that bugs me is that, assuming it’s Cubs/Pirates for the Wild Card and the Cardinals are the top seed, baseball fans would be guaranteed that just one of the best three teams in the NL could even have a chance of reaching the NLCS. That’s probably not good.

  • Something else at FanGraphs we’ll probably discuss in greater depth at some point, but I wanted you to see it now: Jeff Sullivan on Cubs swing adjustments.
  • Addison Russell (pick, turn, and strong, accurate throw) and Kyle Schwarber (pick, tag) were quietly very excellent on this play yesterday getting Nori Aoki at the plate on a would-have-been-ugly inside the park homer.
  • Kris Bryant, who played right field and then center field yesterday, says he’s willing to do whatever the Cubs need, and Joe Maddon says he’s comfortable with Bryant out there (CSN). As we discussed yesterday, having Bryant able to play right field, at least occasionally, gives the Cubs interesting options going forward.
  • Warned in advance: if you read this morning’s Scoreboard Watching, it will annoy you.
  • If you missed the latest podcast from me and Sahadev, check it out here and subscribe on iTunes here.
  • White Sox throwbacks last night were pretty awesome pajamas:

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