Hit For Power or Hit for Contact, But Do *Something* and Other Bullets

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Hit For Power or Hit for Contact, But Do *Something* and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Ah, the off-day after two losses and before a big weekend series against the Cardinals. These types of days always go well …

  • The good news is that the Cubs couldn’t have finished up an important June series in a more deflating way, and I still feel pretty confident that they’ll be on top of the division when the final weeks of the season roll around. If you’d told me before the Brewers series started that the Cubs would drop the final two games without so much as scoring a run, I would have thought today would be internal torture. But, you know, I feel pretty chill. My butt isn’t even all that tight.
  • Speaking of which: the Cubs are scoreless since Joe Maddon proclaimed that the team had no tight butts. I think it’s very reasonable at this point to ask whether at least some level of butt tightness is actually necessary. I’ll start researching the TB+ metrics and their relationship to run scoring. Next market inefficiency? Hopefully the Cubs’ analytics group is also hard at work on this.
  • Speaking of that lack of run-scoring, yesterday it was a familiar tale:

  • What has me a little bit worried is the fact that we were concerned about the Cubs trading too much power for contact nearly a month ago, and things haven’t really naturally course-corrected since then. The Cubs post a .417 SLG, .168 ISO, and 105 wRC+ with the bases empty, all among the best in the league. With runners in scoring position, the Cubs post a .351 SLG, a .115 ISO, and an 82 wRC+, all among the worst in the league. At what point do you reasonably wonder whether it’s not just the players in a normal slump or whatever – and you wonder instead if there was a philosophical shift that simply went too far? And heck, the Cubs’ strikeout rate is now actually higher with runners in scoring position than with the bases empty, and their batting average is lower. So the beneficial part of the approach isn’t even taking.
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
  • To that end, here’s what Joe Maddon said after the game to Cubs.com: “We get guys out there, but [we need to be] more consistent driving in a run when he’s out there. Every team laments the same situation. It’s where we’re at in the industry, it’s an all-or-nothing approach by a lot of guys. We’re trying to nurture a different method where you can score runs with singles and not just homers. We’re working on it, and it showed up a couple times recently. Today, it did not happen. I think that’s the missing link. Everybody is wanting more action in the game. We have to develop guys who are able to move the baseball and not just swing for the fences.”
  • I’m not so sure about this just-make-contact-station-to-station-with-runners-on philosophy. I’m open-minded, because the Cubs in the Epstein-Maddon era have pretty much always been right when they zig and the league zags, but this one has been hard to see.
  • Everyone’s question at the end of yesterday’s game was why Chris Gimenez batted for himself in the 9th while Kris Bryant remained on the bench. Joe Maddon’s explanation was exactly what you’d expect (Sun-Times): he really wanted to give Bryant the full day off, and he thought Gimenez had had some good swings (and, legitimately, he had). It’s tough to swallow losing a one-run game when the best player on the team never makes an appearance, but Maddon works the human side of this game with players better than anyone, so – with some time to step back – I’ll accept it.
  • Overall, I do think part of my chill-ness today is that you could argue the Cubs were actually really lucky to even win one game in that series (and/or that the one win was a really impressive one). When it takes extra innings just to win one game in a series in which you were shut out twice? That might be as “whew” as you can feel about a series loss. (Also, it’s baseball, and it sure seemed like the Cubs would drop a couple eventually to the Brewers after starting the season 8-1 against them.)
  • Jonathan Mayo reports that the Cubs’ deal with supplemental second round righty Paul Richan is a few hundred thousand dollars under slot, so there’s some of the bonus pool savings I’d imagine the Cubs will need to sign the high school outfielders they took with the two picks before that.

  • Of course, the Cardinals losing their best hitter for this series isn’t going to matter when they call up Ralph “Big Hips” Arbodinger and he becomes the first player in baseball history to hit for the cycle in three consecutive games.
  • Matt Kemp trucked Robinson Chirinos last night, starting a rumble, and it produced this wonderful image:

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.