Baez Trending Up, Praise for Almora's Defense, Mock Draft Mockery and Other Bullets

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Baez Trending Up, Praise for Almora’s Defense, Mock Draft Mockery and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

javy baez swing

As Brett and The Wife are off celebrating their recent expansion project and ten year anniversary this weekend, I’ve been left with the keys to this place (huge mistake). So, effective immediately, I am making a few changes:

  1. No more homework
  2. Ice cream for breakfast
  3. Puppy Party Tuesdays

I’m pretty sure there’s nothing he can do about that. Oh, and I will also be delivering the bullets for you kind souls this morning, so let’s get right to it!

  • With yesterday’s win over the Phillies, the Cubs record moves to 41-17 (.707), which is five more wins (but at least six less loses) than the next three best teams: Nationals (36-23), Giants (36-25), and Rangers (36-23). And with the 8-1 final score, the Cubs run differential (+149) is now more than double the second place Red Sox (+70).
  • A big part of yesterday’s offensive explosion, was shortstop (for the day) Javy Baez. He recorded four hits in his four trips to the plate (including a double), pushing his slash line up to .274/.309/.427 – with a strikeout rate just under 20% – for the season. Cutting down on the strikeouts to this degree wasn’t necessarily expected, but was always the first step in building Javy back up from the ground floor. The next step was supposed to be about getting his power back slowly, but it appears he may have already found it. Since May 27 (last 33 PAs), Baez’s line is a fairly eye-popping .375/.394/.625, and he still isn’t striking out (18.2%). Keep it up.
  • Also a big part of yesterday’s game was Albert Almora making his Major League debut. Although he did notch his first ML hit and and RBI, the real story comes from his play in the outfield. As Brett shared yesterday, it took not even three batters for Almora to display his flashy outfield defense, and people are already taking note. “That was a big play,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon told reporters after the game. “That took anything away from them momentum-wise … He just threw a bullet.”  A bullet indeed, StatCast tracked Almora’s outfield assist at 91 MPH. Even if you considered that a shallow sac-fly attempt, Almora threw the ball accurately and with some serious gas.
  • Jason Heyward later added some compliments of his own, regarding Almora’s natural instincts. According to Heyward (the three time Gold Glove winner), that’s what you really need to be a truly successful defender. You need to be able to think about the play before it happens, not just react after the fact. And speaking of adding Almora to an outfield that already features a Gold Glover and a more than capable Dexter Fowler, Gordon Wittenmyer wonders if yesterday’s alignment was one of the best defensive Cubs outfields ever and if it’s already among the best in baseball right now? I think there’s certainly an argument there to be made, but if you don’t care to go that far, you can at least agree with Lackey’s assessment, “We’re going to cover a lot of ground; those are three really good outfielders out there.” We’ll have more on Lackey’s brilliant start later.
  • The first two rounds of the 2016 MLB Draft are coming later today, but the Cubs won’t have a pick until tomorrow. Even still, Baseball America has a mock draft you may be interested in, while Baseball Prospectus has fun Mocking the Draft, by ranking the players in terms of participant name awesomeness/ridiculousness. Leading the board is Ulysses Cantu, Boomer White and Griffen Jax.
  • James Shields White Sox debut wasn’t exactly what he (or anyone) was hoping for. The former ace lasted just 2.0 innings (it took him 79 pitches!), while giving up 7 earned runs on 8 hits and 2 walks, while striking out two. Sox fans booed Shields’, whose ERA is now up to 5.06 on the year – starting in the first inning. My, oh my, did the Cubs dodge a late-offseason bullet last year.
  • On the flip side, Pirates call-up Jameson Taillon had a pretty nice Major League debut yesterday against the Mets. The righty lasted 6 innings, while giving up just 3 earned runs on 6 hits, 2 walks and 3 strikeouts. Given the nightmare that has been the Pirates pitching staff, that was a welcomed start. Of course, the Pirates bullpen went on to five up two more runs in the 8th inning and eventually lost it in extras. They remain 9.5 games back of the Cubs.
  • At FanGraphs, Eric Longenhagen scouts yesterday’s double debuts of Taillon and Almora in one comprehensive piece.
  • Cubs baseball broadcasts have catapulted CBS Radio sports/talk WSCR AM 670 to the top tier of Chicago Radio stations in the most recent Nielsen Audio ratings, released on Tuesday. In the month before the season, the Score was in 18th place, with a 2.5% audience share. By the end of May, it bounced all the way up to 4th place with nearly double the audience share (4.2). Always nice to see the Cubs remaining popular, because it can ultimately affect the product on the field by way of the profit of popularity.
  • This 7-year-old cancer survivor is a very cool little dude:

  • This is definitely going to be something to look out for:

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami