The MacPhail Era, Matusz, Bryant's Versatility, and Other Bullets

Social Navigation

The MacPhail Era, Matusz, Bryant’s Versatility, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

kris bryant ivy outfieldHopefully the weather cooperates for today’s early afternoon game. It’s potentially dicey.

  • If your Cubs fandom goes back a bit and you, like I do, have mixed feelings about the Andy MacPhail era, you’re going to want to read this great Bruce Miles interview with MacPhail. Now the president of the Phillies, leading what is looking like a fantastic rebuild so far, MacPhail came to the Cubs after the 1994 season, and ran the shop until 2006. He’d had great success with the small market Twins, and, in my view, he was brought on board by the Tribune Company to bring similar talents to bear in Chicago (i.e., without a huge payroll). The focus on young pitching was, at times, a great success (2003), but also exposed the team to tremendous downside risk (most of the rest of the era). In his defense, a full-scale rebuild was never going to be permitted under the Tribune’s ownership, as the year-to-year revenues associated with appear competitive (and periodically actually being competitive) were too critical to the bottom line. So he and Ed Lynch and Jim Hendry did the best they could. And I am suddenly reminded of just how appreciative Cubs fans should be for the way the Ricketts Family committed to this particular rebuild.
  • Jed Hoyer speaks with Patrick Mooney about how the Cubs have built their offense, and about how the vast majority of the team’s offensive upswings will have to come from turns in production within, as opposed to big additions externally. It’s not as if the Cubs are going to add a huge bat to cover the temporary performance blips of guys like Anthony Rizzo or Jason Heyward – where would they even put such a player?
  • Ben Zobrist talks about a range of topics at ESPN, including how he succeeds in his mid-30s, and how being confident in your mechanics allows you to think more at the plate about what the pitcher is trying to do.
  • Some of the subtle things a Joe-Maddon-led clubhouse does to preserve energy throughout the season? Sending lineups to players via email and text early in the morning so that they can receive it at the hotel and keep resting/relaxing, rather than having to get to the ballpark very early just to see if they’re playing (Tribune).
  • Kris Bryant astutely notes that the game tends to be trending more and more toward versatility (just think about what the Cubs have been able to accomplish with a short bench), and for that reason, players can’t be so locked into the mindset that “I have to play this spot and bat in this spot” ( There’s probably no better embodiment of that new way of thinking than Bryant, a superstar from thing one, who was also asked to move all around and bat all over from thing one. And he’s done it with aplomb. The fact that a young man (with his bat) can so easily move back and forth between third base and the outfield, despite relatively little playing time in the minors in the outfield (heck: relatively little playing time in the minors at all) is incredible. Moreover, it enhances the value of a player who was already set to be so very valuable.
  • Also: by UZR/150, Bryant has rated so far this year as excellent at third, excellent in left field, and excellent in right field.
  • I don’t have any inside info on this, just an understanding of where the Cubs are and what they try to do when it comes to low risk moves: when former Orioles lefty Brian Matusz clears waivers (he was traded to the Braves with a draft pick (the Braves were buying the pick by paying his salary), and then immediately DFA’d), I would be surprised if the Cubs aren’t among the teams trying to woo him with a nice minor league deal. Although his 2016 has been a disaster, he’s a lefty who has shown plenty of big league success, especially getting out fellow lefties. That would be a nice guy to have at AAA Iowa, and perhaps the Cubs’ situation – and their three open spots on the 40-man roster now that lefty C.J. Riefenhauser was outrighted – will look good to him, too.
  • Michael’s got an awesome managerial freak-out moment over at BIF, completely with jersey tearing, base punting, helmet kicking, and at least two slides into second base.
  • It’s only going to get worse:

  • You did a good clothes:

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.