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No Visibility, No Challenge, No Bullpen Change, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News, Cubs Minor Leagues and Prospects

The Wife has been urging me pretty aggressively to starting using Instagram more frequently, especially now that they, too, have a stories thing like Snapchat. The problem for me is that, realistically, I can use only one of those two with even moderate regularity. So I have to choose. I like the longer video option on Instagram, as well as the ability to actually share the stuff I put on there (if I wanted to share it here on BN, for example). But, then again, the ephemeral nature of Snapchat allows me to be way more ridiculous on there without much in the way of risk.

Any of you folks have a strong opinion either way?

  • Hey, after last night’s loss, the Cubs are under .500 for the first time in two years. So that’s neat.

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  • Javy Baez explained after the game what happened on the ball he missed (ESPN): a would-be double play ball became a single past a diving Baez because he couldn’t see it. At first, it looked like the umpire had screened Baez, but it was actually something even stranger: an MLB At Bat ad behind home plate had so much white in it that Baez couldn’t see the ball off the bat when that ad rotated into view. (It was rotating throughout the night for both teams, so don’t worry about any funny business.) The first run of the night scored on an ensuing sac fly.
  • If you missed it earlier this morning, I ruminated on why last night’s loss was probably good for our guts, and why Dexter Fowler’s slide was probably illegal.
  • As for why Joe Maddon didn’t challenge the slide, Maddon suggested later that maybe he should have (Cubs.com): “I did [consider challenging], but I thought it was a decent slide from what I saw. Apparently, people are telling me [Fowler] did not attempt to hold onto the bag, and I didn’t necessarily see that. It’s a rule I actually hate. I probably should have gone further with that.” If you’re going to miss a challenge like that, at least it’s in the first game of the season, in a situation that did not cost the Cubs, and will now stick out for the rest of the year. You can just about lock it up that any borderline illegal slides against the Cubs going forward will be monitored extra closely.
  • To the extent anyone was wondering and/or beefing on why lefty Mike Montgomery stayed in to face Randal Grichuk in the 9th last night, be advised that Grichuk is a split-neutral guy for his career, and Montgomery is very close to split-neutral, too. There’s nothing to see there. As for the rest of the bullpen usage, given the situations, I really don’t have any issue with the chosen relievers. I guess you could argue that Pedro Strop should never pitch in Busch Stadium, but, hey, he didn’t give up any runs there last year!

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  • Given how close he now seems to big league readiness, and given how there are two big leaguers ahead of him at the position, this is interesting:

  • There are a number of possible explanations there, ranging from borderline conspiratorial (“OMG they’re trading someone!”) to fairly mundane (Happ’s fine in the corner outfield, but needs work at second base). It’s also worth considering that, even though the Cubs have two guys ahead of Happ at second base – Ben Zobrist and Javy Baez – those two guys are also the Cubs’ primary utility men. If one of them were hurt, it’s not at all inconceivable that we could see Happ come up for regular playing time, while the other guy keeps on moving around.

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  • Miscellaneous, totally unimportant thing that’s always bugged me: last night, Kyle Schwarber got hit with a pitch in a 3-2 count. That goes down in the books as a HBP, but the ball was well out of the strike zone, and would have been a walk. Since we care about things like walk rate – and, indeed, that kind of thing does come up nowadays at All-Star time and postseason awards time – I really think guys who get hit by a pitch in a three-ball count should get credit in their stats for a walk. Outside of one or two guys, we see HBP as a lucky gift from the pitcher, not something that is earned, like a walk.

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  • The Cardinals are signing another young player to an extension, Stephen Piscotty.
  • The Cubs weren’t the only opening game yesterday, with the Rays topping the Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka got knocked around), and the Diamondbacks walking off against the Giants. That latter one came despite TWO home runs from Madison Bumgarner, after the Giants blew the lead three times in the late innings, including the final one by new closer Mark Melancon. Meet the new Giants bullpen, same as the old Giants bullpen.
  • A very nice graphic here:


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  • Thank you again for all the kind words here and on social media about my piece on Cubs fandom after the World Series win. It was five months of writing, editing, scrapping, thinking, changing, and so on, to the point where I wasn’t even sure I was going to be comfortable putting it out there. Thankfully, it seems like people dug it. If you haven’t read it, it might be worth your time: ‘Then You Are Not the Thing You Were.’

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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.