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The Cubs Went to a True Four-Outfielder Alignment Last Night and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs News

If you’re going to be around this weekend, I’m gonna hit up a few spots where I’d love to see you in person: on Friday night, Beyond the Box Score is hosting a meet up at JP Burke’s Patio and Tap. On Saturday morning, I’ll be at the John Baker Day event at Nisei Lounge (and I’ll be taking on Baker in a trivia contest!). And then after that event, I’ll be in the right field bleachers (with Luis!) for Cubs/Blue Jays.


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See you at one or all three of those things!

  • If you can’t stop a guy with a traditional shift, maybe you try something extremely non-traditional:

  • So, the four-outfielder approach didn’t work in that instance, since Votto yanked one up the first base line, but I gotta say, in that situation, I absolutely loved the move. Votto hits so few grounders that your risk from removing an infielder is minimal, and the upside is not only reduced doubles in the outfield, but also more potential catches. With nobody on base, why not do this? Even the double he did hit would have been a double regardless of the positioning (unless Anthony Rizzo were standing on the first baseline).
  • Sam Miller gets into the nitty gritty of the decision to try this out, and wonders if we’ll see the continued evolution of defensive placement like this – and maybe even more extremes.

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  • For his part, Joe Maddon didn’t get too into the depths of the decision, saying only that Votto is “ungodly” right now, so you kinda try whatever (Cubs.com).
  • Votto’s response to the Cubs’ chicanery was incredible (Reds.com): “No matter the infield setup, no matter the alignment of the infield or outfield, I do the exact same thing. It’s when I get caught up in what’s going on defensively when I get myself into trouble, [like] changing my approach. If that turns out to be a detriment to hitting balls in the outfield, then I clearly have to hit it over the outfield and into the stands. That was also something I was thinking about doing.”
  • Speaking of Votto, he always has a lot of fun when he gets a foul ball:

  • Kris Bryant is stepping on the gas in the MVP race:

  • What a savvy offensive trade last year’s Dan Vogelbach/Mike Montgomery swap was. After his double last night, Montgomery is hitting .125/.125/.375 on the year, which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s nearly as good as the line Vogelbach has put up in the big leagues: .176/.300/.176. Montgomery also has two more extra base hits, and two more RBI.
  • The Jose Quintana pitch that hit Devin Mesoraco’s foot actually broke a bone, so he’s going to miss some time. His huge breakout in 2014 seems like ages ago.

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  • So, I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes too high, but … it’s possible Cubs pitching prospect Duane Underwood Jr. has finally turned a corner. After years of fading from the radar a bit thanks to injuries, command troubles, and difficulty nailing down a wipeout pitch, Underwood – who only just turned 23 – has posted a 3.22 ERA and 3.49 FIP at AA over his past 10 starts. And over the past six, those numbers a sterling 2.23/3.00 with a 24.7% K rate and a 4.3% BB rate. With a guy like Underwood, a great stretch like that at the end of the year makes you a little more excited than most, because the scouting has always been there (the Cubs didn’t put him on the 40-man roster last year for nothing). If he found a way to better locate his excellent fastball, and started getting whiffs with his offspeed stuff? Watch out.
  • And I’m reminded that, although it’s easy and probably correct to say the Cubs’ farm system is really down right now, it’s also correct to say they could have a ton of really good pitching prospects. Underwood? Could be really good. First rounders Brendon Little and Alex Lange? Could be really good. Jose Albertos? Could be really, really good. Adbert Alzolay? Could be really good. Thomas Hatch? Could be really good. Oscar De La Cruz? Stay healthy, and he could be really good. I’m not talking guys who could be serviceable back-end starters (though that’s where they may end up, or in the bullpen) – I’m talking guys who have a legitimate shot of being middle-of-the-rotation-or-better starters in the big leagues. Not many pitching prospects realistically should get that label, and yet all of these guys deserve it. (And then there’s a host of pitching prospects who are legitimate back-of-the-rotation-potential guys, too. It’s been a long, long time since the Cubs had this many pitching prospects worth paying attention to.)
  • I mean, good for him, but a little part of me stings every time I see it:


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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.