Swing at Strikes, Take Balls, and Other Bullets

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Swing at Strikes, Take Balls, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

How about a random check-in on where the Cubs stand in the reverse standings (that is, how close they are to the bottom)? After six straight losses, the Cubs stand at 43-64, better than only the Astros (36-74 (they won’t be caught, which is exactly what they wanted)), and the Rockies (39-68). Take that as you will.

  • So, Brett Jackson had a rough night against the Padres – in four at bats, he struck out four times. It was a microcosm (emphasis on “micro”) of the fears folks have about Jackson’s game. Manager Dale Sveum said the issue was swinging at, and taking, the wrong pitches. “Basically it came down to swinging at strikes,” Sveum said. “I don’t care who you are, if you don’t swing at strikes you’ll have a tough time. When he got two strikes on him, he couldn’t lay off pitches that were quite a bit out of the zone …. He’s going to be in [the lineup]. That was part of the deal, that he’s going to be here to develop and what we see and make adjustments and go from there. Bottom line doesn’t matter unless you’re swinging at strikes.”
  • For his part, Jackson knows the issue, and wants to work. “It’s something I’m working on cutting down and like I said [Sunday], I’ll keep working with [hitting coach James Rowson] and Dale and keep improving my swing,” Jackson said. “There’s no doubt in my mind we’ll get the ability out of me …. Obviously, the guys tonight had good stuff and made some good pitches, and I chased some pitches that I shouldn’t have chased. I think when it comes to striking out, a lot of that has to do with me chasing pitches that I don’t need to swing at, and missing pitches I do swing at. That’s something I’ll figure out. It’s baseball, and I’m going to keep improving as a player until I can’t improve any more.”
  • Sveum said that a play at third base by Josh Vitters on a tough grounder by Cameron Maybin was the defensive play of the game. (It was also SportsCenter’s top play, for whatever that’s worth.) If Vitters keeps that part of his game up, he’ll get more starts.
  • Speaking of those young players and Sveum, the Cubs’ manager admits that, at this point, his mindset in how he handles game decisions has changed. “Truthfully, a lot of this is development and watching,” Sveum said, according to the Tribune. “To tell you the truth, even as a manager, you probably do some things you wouldn’t do in certain situations, just to see how a guy would handle [it] in the future.” Like it or not, that’s the right attitude to have at this point. We always joke about “next year,” but right now, that’s a reality. When it comes to playing decisions, Sveum needs to be thinking about 2013 and 2014, not 2012.
  • Bryan LaHair will continue to be the odd man out of the Cubs’ lineup, with Anthony Rizzo having taken his spot at first base, and Brett Jackson having taken his spot in the outfield (by way of David DeJesus sliding back to right). I have no doubt that the Cubs would like to trade Alfonso Soriano, but, until/unless they do, LaHair is bench material. And that indicates that the Cubs don’t exactly have big plans for him in 2013. I don’t think they much like him in the outfield, anyway. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Cubs unload LaHair on an AL team in the offseason for a mediocre pitcher.
  • The Under Armour All-America Game (a showcase of the best high school talent in the country) will be played at Wrigley Field on August 18. You can get tickets here, if that’s your thing.
  • Ryan Dempster, himself, now confirms that he never listened in on any calls between the Cubs and Dodgers at the Trade Deadline. Given that he’s got very little reason to take a bullet for the Cubs at this point, I think we can put this story to bed.

Author: Brett Taylor

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