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The Cubs Are Starting to Vibe, a Perfect Start Helps, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

I have periodically gone to Panera to do some of my morning work lately, and The Wife has joined me today. She’s sitting across the table from me right now, pecking away at her computer. I am immediately hyper aware of my idiosyncrasies when I’m working – I make weird faces as I read things, I crane my neck to the left as I type for some reason, I mumble things to myself as I work out what I want to say. I sigh a lot. I also sometimes make a popping sound with my lips when I insert an image into a post.


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This is odd. I’m odd. But, hey, it’s like I have a work buddy!

  • Michael will have more for you in the Off-Day Check-In, but I gotta say, these first six games of the second half could not have gone better. By definition, that’s true when you win all the games, but really think about the way this all played out. The Cubs clunked into the All-Star break with some of the worst games they’ve played all season – a season that was already wildly disappointing. Then they trade for Jose Quintana, they start smoking the Orioles right out of the gate, but then nearly blow it – but don’t! Then they whoop the Orioles, then Quintana is incredible in his debut, then they comfortably sweep a Braves team that had been playing well, and seemingly every guy who was needing some hits or to make some pitches was doing it. The “story” aspect of all of this is just as perfect as the results, which is probably a non-zero thing, since it can generate even more confidence for the players.
  • There has been a perceptible shift in the vibe from a fan perspective – it just seems like there’s a lot more positivity around the team – and also from the player perspective (ESPN, Cubs.com). Some of that is the simple fact that guys feel good when they’re winning, but there’s probably also a little more to it than that.

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(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
  • After his great start yesterday, do you start thinking anything different about Mike Montgomery’s role once Kyle Hendricks returns? I think the answer is probably no, given that John Lackey is staying in the rotation either way, but I do think at some point, if everyone stays healthy, the Cubs will be wise to once again consider the six-man rotation they employed late last year. Montgomery is good enough to justify a rotation spot, and his presence would give everyone an extra day of rest between starts. Look, I get that some of the guys don’t like it, but, in the aggregate, the data consistently shows that starting pitchers throw harder and perform better on an extra day of rest.
  • Javy Baez is on freaking fire:

  • Tommy La Stella now has 313 plate appearances with the Chicago Cubs over the past three years, and he’s hit .276/.360/.426 with a 112 wRC+. When the Cubs traded for him a few years ago, that was the thing we predicted from day one: the guy can hit. He just has that ability. The biggest problems for him have been injuries, atypical roster crowding, and a weak glove. Still, it’s incredible to think just how well he’s hit with the Cubs in limited, irregular duty, and he still has never emerged as a starter. On 20 other teams, he probably has started all three years.
  • If you missed it last night, the news on Kris Bryant’s hand is as good as it can be so far. Hopefully he’ll have avoided a serious injury.

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  • This is a good GIF:

  • I really enjoyed this read at FanGraphs on the JD Martinez trade, which netted the Tigers a really surprisingly small return for such a consistently excellent bat. Dave Cameron considers why that might have been, and one of the primary reasons is that the market for Martinez – literally one of the best hitters in baseball the last few years – was probably really small when you look at the pool of buyers. Martinez is a corner outfielder, and if you go team by team in the trade market, there just aren’t many playoff contenders who have an obvious spot there where they could displace someone to add Martinez. Would most teams figure out a way to do it for a player of his caliber? For sure. But pay a prospect bounty for a rental to do it? I guess not.
  • In turn, this makes me wonder about the Cubs-Alex Avila rumors, and why it’s possible the Cubs might stay in on him even as we’d previously said the prospect cost to acquire him might be too high (i.e., that there would be other contenders wanting to pick him up as a starter, not a back-up, and thus pushing his price tag too high to be reasonable for the Cubs). Maybe the market will prove softer than we expect.

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  • Meanwhile, Martinez had to exit his first game with the Diamondbacks after getting hit on the hand by a pitch (a pitch on which he actually struck out swinging). He’s considered day-to-day.
  • Things you don’t expect to see:

  • If only Miguel Montero had come up with #WeArePukePuke sooner …
  • He’s a good bat dog, Bront:


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Brett Taylor

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