When You Debate Joe Maddon, You're Usually Wrong and Other Bullets

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When You Debate Joe Maddon, You’re Usually Wrong and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

joe maddon thinkingWith the Trade Deadline Blogathon looming beginning on Sunday, I am going to have to start prepping my body a little bit this week, and I wonder if that’s going to mean me having to bail on at least one of the night games this week so I can maximize sleep.

For logistical (read: kids) reasons, it’s pretty much impossible for me to sleep later than 6am or so, which means the only way I can increase sleep is by going to bed earlier. But, since I’m in the Eastern Time Zone until I get to Chicago on Thursday, that means these games are all starting after 8pm my time, and those leave me me doing post-game stuff until after midnight. Normally that’s fine, but it’s every game this week, I got no sleep Sunday night because of Chapman Watch, and starting on Sunday I’ve gotta be up and cogent for 39 hours straight.

Will you hate me if I duck out of a game this week and you have to wait for post-game stuff/EBS until the morning?

  • Here’s Joe Maddon’s explanation for the controversial decision last night to take Anthony Rizzo out of the game in the 9th inning in favor of pinch runner Matt Szczur at second base, with two outs in a tie game in the top of the 9th, and with Jason Heyward coming to the plate:

  • Everyone was sharply critical of the decision as it happened, and it certainly didn’t help that Heyward ultimately struck out, and Szczur could not make a play on a ball in center field that Heyward might have been able to do something about had he still been in center. But was Maddon actually right to make the move? As I’ve said, my default setting is, if I disagree strongly with something Maddon does in a game, I must be the one who is missing something. In the past year and a half, there have been five or six times where Maddon has made a maneuver, I questioned it, and then found out the next morning that there was actually a really good explanation. Is this another one of those times? I actually can’t answer it, because Maddon’s explanation (understandably) leaves out the complicated math: is the increase in chances that Szczur scores that inning on a hit or hits (or wild pitches, etc.) that Rizzo would not have scored enough to offset the decrease in overall win odds tied to the fact that Rizzo is now out of the game? Our instinct obviously shouted NOOOO last night, but maybe we’re wrong? Maybe the odds that Rizzo even gets another at bat in that game (you’ll note that he did not) are much lower than we think. How many games tied in the top of the 9th wind up going to the 11th or 12th inning? Did the overall defense get slightly better? Does the fact that the Cubs had several unavailable relievers make you even more inclined to try and shorten the game?
  • All these things factor in. I’m not trying to be a Joe Maddon apologist here, I’m trying to be a Brett-doesn’t-know-everything realist. Usually, when my instinct goes against a Joe Maddon decision, I’ve been wrong. Maybe I’m wrong about this one, too.
  • Ben Zobrist has been in a bit of a slump, but when he finally got a hit on Sunday, he packaged all the celebrations into one – including the helmet rub!
  • It’s been a rough first two outings for new Cubs lefty Mike Montgomery (a three-run homer in his debut, then two hits including the game winner last night), but I am glad to hear him immediately say that he’s not going to lose confidence (CSN). Two outings with some hits can happen to any pitcher, and the last thing you’d want is a new guy coming in, trying to prove himself, and suddenly questioning everything he’s already proved he can do. It’s hard enough changing teams and cities in the middle of a season. I’d look for him to face a lower-leverage, match-up lefty situation soon, get the job done, and then get pulled right away.
  • As I said last night, I thought Jake Arrieta looked good until the 6th inning when the command got really erratic (I won’t say “he threw one bad pitch,” because the reality is that pitchers throw lots of bad individual pitches in a game, and they rarely result in a three-run homer; one particularly bad pitch in the 6th, however, did so result). To that point in the game, no, the fastball command was not spot-on, but the breaking pitches were among the best I’ve seen from him this year. Like the start before the break against the Pirates, I thought Arrieta looked much better than the line indicates. In my book, then, that’s three straight starts where, visually, he looked good. Yes, you can read the hope in my voice there, but it’s a start. There’s still plenty of time for Arrieta to settle in and be the guy we know he can be – which is a guy the Cubs are really, really going to need come September and October.
  • About new Cubs lefty Aroldis Chapman (and much more on him later today):

  • Also re Chapman, you can expect a roster move today, and it’s likely going to be Clayton Richard either accepting an option to Iowa, or being designated for assignment.
  • Over at Baseball is Fun, among other delightful posts, Michael looked at Jayson Werth and Carlos Villaneuva. No, not for their facial hair affection, but for their eephus matchups. Yes, plural. It’s good for a chuckle.
  • This is for the community folks down in the comments, thanks and congrats! (And sorry about the picture – I don’t really have many nice, normal, Brett smiling pictures):

  • I usually just carry my phone in my hand when I run (because it’s a 6-plus, and strapping it to my arm seems crazy), but … a running phone fanny pack? I can’t do that, right? Right?
  • Some Twitter and MLB news:

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.