I’m going to do a separate post about it soon, but WOO HOO WE DID IT! Over $15,000 raised for Make-A-Wish, which means a full 39-hour Blogathon is coming your way at the Trade Deadline. But I sure would love to raise more, and I’m willing to do something to get us there. I’m just not sure what. So if you’ve got a good, reasonable, whacky idea for the Blogathon, drop it in the comments.
Ideally, I’d be able to say on Monday, “We’ve reached the goal, but if we get to $X, I’ll also do Thing Y!” I just think it’s more fun when the idea comes from the community as opposed to the dude doing the thing.
- It was impossible not to smile – a Dexter-Fowler-sized smile – when the Cubs got their starter center fielder back yesterday, and he treated everyone with a huge game, including a leadoff homer, a double, a single, and a walk. It’s similarly impossible not to smile when reading this ESPN take on how important Fowler is to the team, in ways not even seen on the box score. It reminds me of what it was like when Fowler came back to the Cubs in Spring Training, opting to return on a one-year deal to the team that had traded for him a year earlier. It’s gonna be a bittersweet day when Fowler signs a big contract with another team this offseason … because that’s what will happen, right? Of course, I was sure of that last year at this time, too, and here we are. It seems even more likely that Fowler moves on this time, especially given a much weaker free agent crop, given that he’ll be coming off his second straight excellent year with the Cubs, and given that Albert Almora Jr. will have had some big league experience by then. We’ll see, though.
- Fowler said his hamstring felt fine, by the way.
- Speaking of the Cubs’ center field picture … Albert Almora Jr. got married on Thursday (congrats!) and then was optioned to AAA Iowa on Friday (less congrats). There was real value in getting Almora this experience in the big leagues, both from a mental standpoint – he can do it, and there’s no new-ness next time – and from a baseball adjustments standpoint. Most of Almora’s game is very big-league-ready, but, as Joe Maddon put it (CSN), he just needs a little more “sophistication” in his at bats. For Almora, we’ve always known the issue: he’s been so gifted at putting the bat on the ball throughout his baseball life that, as the competition gets tougher and tougher and the pitchers get better, he’s got to learn not to let that contact ability work against him. That’s a process, and it’ll take repetitions. He’ll get lots of them at Iowa over the next month and a half, and then when their season ends, he can come back up to the big league team and contribute off the bench.
- Carl Edwards Jr. looked fantastic again last night, commanding the upper third of the zone with his cutting fastball (not quite a “cutter” – more just a four-seam fastball with a little natural cutting action), and making guys looks silly with his huge curveball. With those two pitches, if he commands them, I have no doubt Edwards can be one of the best relievers in baseball – you can’t say that about too many relievers, even when they are commanding their top pitches. That’s how good the stuff is for Edwards. Joe Maddon is trying to be very thoughtful about his usage of the young righty, ensuring that he’s not gassed come September and October (Tribune). So far, through 14.0 big league innings (13 appearances), Edwards is sporting a 1.93 ERA, a 2.64 FIP, a 2.90 xFIP, a 31.4% strikeout rate, and – most absurdly for a guy with long-standing control questions – a 7.8% walk rate.
- Before heading to AA Tennessee, where he’ll continue his hamstring rehab, Jorge Soler spoke with Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register. He says it took a long time for the pain in his hamstring to fully go away, which it has now. He now just has to get back his timing and comfort at the plate after such a long layoff.
- The Cardinals continue to win – they beat the Dodgers in 16 innings last night – and they’re doing it without Brandon Moss (ankle) and Matt Carpenter (oblique). Each player seems to be getting close to a rehab assignment, though. Like the Cubs, the Cardinals are only going to get better with health.
- Cubs players look back at their Ken Griffey Jr. memories in this Cubs.com piece, and I gotta say: I was not expecting to see a Felix Pie video at the top (he robbed a would-be Griffey homer in 2008). I was also not expecting to look back and see that Pie got 93 plate appearances for that juggernaut 2008 team, despite posting a 65 wRC+. I knew he’d gotten some time in the outfield, but that’s quite a bit. Man, that team was so ridiculous offensively, and yet three of the top four players by wRC+ (min 80 PAs) were Micah Hoffpauir, Jim Edmonds, Mike Fontenot, and Carlos Zambrano.
- That Cubs.com Griffey piece comes, of course, because Griffey – together with Mike Piazza – will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame tomorrow in Cooperstown. Griffey did so many incredible things in his career – you’ve seen the catches, but I very much enjoy this upper, upper, upper deck shot at the Skydome.
- You may vaguely remember that one of the rooftop owners who had sued the Cubs back during the meatiest part of the sparring with the team about the outfield signage wound up in some trouble with the law – he’d allegedly been withholding payments owed to the Cubs (and the tax man). Well, he was recently convicted.
- DRA – BP’s comprehensive pitching statistic – has been updated significantly, and now correlates as well or better (according to BP, because I’m not smart enough to break down the math myself) with pitcher performance than any other statistic.
- As Michael notes at Baseball is Fun, Steven Wright’s knuckleball is frequently devastating. I really wish there were more of them in baseball.
- Portable jump starter and battery charger is a deal of the day at Amazon for 60% off, for the car safety enthusiasts among you.