This morning me thinks that last night me ate too many Flaming Hot Doritos last night …
• The Cubs have dealt with their first trade, and Anthony Rizzo sums it up on the departure of Joc Pederson – it’s sad: “Such a good teammate and a good friend in four months. His vibe and everything he brought to the team every day was just fun and upbeat and energetic. He was a good person to have around. Good morale.”
• More sad, from Kyle Hendricks: “You just have to keep reminding yourself we’re going to be playing baseball no matter what and it happens all the time, guys come and go. It’s unfortunate, it’s part of the game. You get close with guys, and they leave. But everyone that enters this clubhouse is a part of the family, whoever we have at the moment, so that’s what we focus on.” The next couple weeks could be ROUGH, man …
• Jake Arrieta can come off the Injured List (tight hamstring) now, he’s not going to:
Ross indicated Arrieta (hamstring) won't be ready to come off IL tomorrow when eligible.
"He's working on some stuff in the bullpen. … Make sure hamstring's good & then get him off & let him compete & make sure he can execute things that he's trying to do in real competition."
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) July 17, 2021
• Although the hamstring issue was not described as a serious injury, this is nevertheless not surprising. Arrieta either needed a lot more time to get right, or, more likely, there will be a graceful exit arranged. I doubt the Cubs want to deal with it before some of the Trade Deadline stuff is sorted, because that could change the short-term “just need a guy to make a start” situation quickly.
• I’m still trying to figure out whether Patrick Wisdom is successfully adjusting to pitchers’ adjustments since he exploded onto the scene. It looks like maybe? Or no? He’s surviving despite the issue, but he’s just flat out going to need more contact in the upper third. Since that West Coast road trip that kind of wrapped his introductory period (dating back to June 11, where he was EVERYWHERE), he’s hit .213/.263/.440 (89 wRC+). Not good, obviously, but also not horrible, and that’s what his “down” month has looked like. That’s with a .297 BABIP, despite a 93.7 mph average exit velocity (holy lord). There’s probably a little bit of unluck there.
• But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a serious problem, and it’s the 41.3% strikeout rate during that stretch, of which a small part is the terrible strike zone he’s gotten laterally, but most of which is the ENORMOUS hole in his swing in the upper third of the zone, and then the standard issues that hulking righties have against breaking stuff low and away (though he doesn’t swing at those nearly as much as the high fastballs). The change in pitch approach before and after June 11 is about as stark as I’ve seen for such a short period of time:
• It looks like pitchers were trying to go up early on, but were also making a conscious effort to stay in the strike zone, which left a whole lotta pitches in the meatball zone. Now, however, they’re comfortable going WAY up because his contact rate on anything in the upper third (let alone above the zone!) is well below 50%. So if you just keep going up there, eventually you’ll get a swing, and he’s likely to miss it. Missed above the zone? No worries. Just keep trying. Better than trying to be TOO fine at the top of the zone, missing down a bit, and having him crush one:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 17, 2021
• Wisdom has power you rarely see, together with a pretty darn good understanding of the strike zone (and a good glove at third). You want to give that guy a chance to adjust in the big leagues, and I’m glad he’s going to get it in the second half.
• Miscellaneous love for Wisdom? He’s up to 1.3 WAR, tied for 4th most among all rookies despite appearing in just 44 games.
• Speaking of righties with big power and whom you want to see over the next few months for purposes of evaluation and development (and who also have big holes at the top of the zone), David Bote is going to start his rehab assignment at Iowa.
• The Cubs had in eight draft prospects to Chicago, and then announced nine official signings:
The #Cubs today announced they have signed nine of their first 10 selections in the 2021 First-Year Player Draft, including LHP Jordan Wicks, the team’s first-round selection (21st overall). pic.twitter.com/JUO3wSmZHs
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 17, 2021
The Chicago Cubs 2021 MLB draft picks visited Wrigley Field today. 🐻
— Cubs Zone ™️ (@CubsZone) July 16, 2021
• We’ll sort through the bonus pool implications shortly, but it’s looking like the Cubs’ draft strategy was very clearly to make sure they took guys in the top ten rounds that they could reliably sign quickly (and, obviously, that they liked), and then go heavy on the hard-to-sign risky preps in the non-bonus pool rounds. You always saw some of that, but what we hadn’t seen before was a 20-round draft. How would the Cubs proceed? Well, we got our answer, and so far, at least half of the execution looks perfect.
• The Pelicans won last night on a walk-off Jordan Nwogu bunt:
— Candace Martino (@CandaceMartino) July 17, 2021
• Listen to Javy, and/or ask questions of qualified medical professionals if you need help:
I’m teaming up with @Walgreens to encourage everyone to get vaccinated. If you’re still uncertain whether the vaccine is right for you, your local pharmacist can answer your questions. #Thisisourshot #Walgreenspartner #ad pic.twitter.com/Le0ZzHknPQ
— Javier Báez (@javy23baez) July 16, 2021
• Are the Pirates involved in every needless benches-clearing incident or just most of them:
Benches have cleared at the end of the 5th inning after John Nogowski & Marcus Stroman exchanged words. pic.twitter.com/ZDhqALUdjd
— SNY (@SNYtv) July 17, 2021
• LOL this homer hit the outfield sign guy right in the nugs:
Two-run HR for Tim Susnara. pic.twitter.com/lucqI7rfhG
— Itsacon (@thats_so_cub) July 17, 2021
• The Padres scored TWENTY-FOUR RUNS last night against the Nationals. It was so many runs that the highlight video of JUST the runs is over five minutes long: