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Struggling Young Cubs, Arrieta Dug the Brawl, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News

Heading into today’s finale against the Padres, I obviously want the Cubs to win. But I am not sure how much a win or a loss will actually swing my feelings in the short-term. The road trip will have been a disaster either way.


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Then again, with an off-day tomorrow and the Cardinals looming this weekend … OK, yeah, I really need the Cubs to win today for my personal psyche. You’d think it would happen accidentally at least once in six tries.

  • Joe Maddon says Kyle Schwarber’s swing looks good, and that his issue right now is more mental (Cubs.com): “[His confidence] has been dented a little. I’ve had good conversations, and any time I write his name out, I get excited. It’s going to happen.” Schwarber did homer last night, which is swell, but – like several other young players in the lineup – he seems to be swinging at a lot of ugly pitches and taking a lot of good ones, which is often what you see from a player in a slump who is letting it get into his head as he approaches the plate. I’m not gonna play armchair psychologist, so I’ll just take my lead from Maddon, and from Schwarber, who told Cubs.com: “I just have to take it at-bat by at-bat and not worry about previous pitches, previous at-bats. I just have to worry about what’s going on in the box at that time. I can’t look at the numbers. I just have to stick with what’s going on in the box and stay with the process.” He went on to say essentially all of that again later in the article. Stay in that moment.
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
  • Speaking of surprisingly struggling youngsters, since he missed time with a shoulder issue earlier this month, Addison Russell is hitting .190/.320/.333, which, believe it or not, is an improvement over the rest of his season thus far. Alarmingly, though, during that most recent stretch, his contact rate in the strike zone (79.0%) is way below league average (85.5%), and his overall swinging strike rate is scary (15.6% versus 10.3% league average). He’s also putting the ball on the ground a whopping 58.6% of the time. Assuming he’s healthy, this could be an adjustment period for Russell, who has shown the ability to turn things around well already in his young career. But when a young guy is slumping at the same time he’s trying to work through adjustments, it’s particularly challenging to stay focused only on that moment.

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  • The suspensions have come down for Monday’s Giants-Nationals brawl, incited by a Hunter Strickland pitch to Bryce Harper’s hip: four games for Harper, six games for Strickland. Given Harper’s helmet chuck, I’m surprised he didn’t get more – but maybe that’s a recognition of the fact that Strickland throwing at Harper for a couple homers Harper hit off of him three years ago is so insane as to slightly excuse Harper losing his mind.
  • Jake Arrieta was asked about the rumble in an interview with The Score: “I don’t think anybody is right or wrong. I thought it was awesome. Every once in a while, it’s refreshing to see two teams emotionally charged getting after it. And when something like that happens versus continuing to chirp and talk about it, why don’t you go out there and see somebody? …. If two guys want to go see each other, let them be in the middle, let them throw some punches, then break it up. I don’t like to see any sucker punches. I do think in the heat of battle if you’re getting hit on the hip with 98, then you should be able to go out and see somebody. I think the umpires handled it well. They let them exchange for a moment, then they tried to break it up.” Also, humorously, Arrieta said that if he were ever about about to get into a scrap like that, he’d want his catcher to give him a few seconds to do some damage before coming out to step in.
  • I have two reactions to Arrieta’s comments: on the one hand, I agree that if a pitcher is gonna drill a guy, that guy should be able to “go out and see somebody” if that’s how he chooses to respond. I can sit here and say fighting is not the answer, but I can’t honestly say I wouldn’t react the same way in the moment. On the other hand, I don’t really want to see pitcher’s drilling batters on purpose at all, and when it happens, I don’t know that it should always turn into a full-scale brawl that gets guys hurt (Michael Morse was put on the concussion DL after his collision with teammate Jeff Samardzija during the fight).

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  • A little outside-of-Wrigley restructuring for the Ricketts Family:


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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.