‘The White Lotus’ was pretty good, though it felt at times like it was missing a little bit more meat. Overall recommended, though, as a very interesting watch. As in, the experience of watching it was very interesting.
Yesterday’s loss was the Cubs’ 13th straight at Wrigley Field, setting a new club record for home losing streak (1994).
• I still feel that sense of cognitive dissonance when discussing the Cubs’ place in the standings, and explaining how I feel about them getting swept by the Royals, a team that had previously been effectively tied with the Cubs. I don’t *like* to see the Cubs play poorly, and I have *legit concerns* about how you turn this team into a contender next year. But the reality is that losing now is the only *game outcome* that can benefit the Cubs going forward, especially when they’re playing a team right there around them in the standings. The difference between picking 5 next year and picking 8 next year isn’t enormous, but it is more than zero. And then you throw in the difference in the size of the bonus pool – if that’s still the setup next year after the CBA is passed* – and it’s actually a pretty big difference in the collection of talent you could take in from the draft.
• So, yes, that Royals sweep was great as far as outcomes go. And now the Rockies come to Wrigley Field, where it’ll be pretty hard for them to win a game or two – they are so very bad on the road – but frankly that’s what I’d like to see happen. I’m just being pragmatic.
*(Now just wait until somehow the new CBA completely screws the Cubs post-second-half tank.) (I don’t necessarily think that will happen, because I expect any SUBSTANTIAL changes to how the draft order is determined, or how bonus pools work, would be phased in after next year.)
Reverse standings check after the Cubs were swept by the Royals this weekend. pic.twitter.com/N0qYCM35HD
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) August 23, 2021
• Understandably, David Ross neither has a ton to say at this point, nor is a fan of the losing (Cubs.com): “I think everybody, when you’re at this level, wants to win, and it’s frustrating when you don’t. Listen, it’s no fun to lose. It’s like nobody is having a good time …. What I do know is we all should be really thankful that we’re in the Major Leagues and get a chance to put on this uniform and play baseball for the Chicago Cubs. These guys work their tail off and they go out there and compete as best they can. Now, sometimes that doesn’t work out, sometimes it does. Right now, it’s not working out a lot, but we’ll put our pants on tomorrow and go out and try to take it to the Rockies.”
• Major milestone for Miguel Cabrera, one of the best hitters of this generation:
The 28th player in MLB history to hit 500 home runs.
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) August 22, 2021
• Once a clear top three hitter in baseball for a good seven or eight-year stretch, Cabrera, 38, hasn’t really been a good hitter in about five years (below average overall since 2016). That ain’t great when hitting is your only job, and you’re still under contract for at least another couple high-priced years. Cabrera fell off immediately after signing that last extension, which hey, good for him for getting it, but it’s felt like playing out the string for years now with a veteran who was getting playing time because of his stature, his contract, and his uncompetitive team. I say that not to be cruel, but instead to wonder openly what happens next year when the Tigers, who are about to be turning the corner of their rebuild, want to win. Do they start shifting Cabrera into a part-time role, despite the additional looming milestones? (He needs just 45 more hits for 3,000, for example, so his combined counting stats could really get up there historically if he played regularly the next two years.) Does it become an Albert Pujols situation with the Angels, where he’s really, really hurting you but the awkwardness is significant?
• Javy Báez was back with the Mets yesterday (back issues), and he was immediately doing Javy things:
JAVY BAEZ HUSTLE DOUBLE x INCREDIBLE SLIDE 🎩 pic.twitter.com/i7InV3JZoq
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 22, 2021
• An improvident decision to even try for two? Maybe so, but we’ve seen Báez do that a billion times, and how many times does he actually get thrown out? An even better angle on the slide:
Javy Baez parallel parked himself at second base pic.twitter.com/ARqwsrsRIt
— Ben Porter (@Ben13Porter) August 22, 2021
• And while we’re on former Cubs, Craig Kimbrel is nothing but a professional. Although he was visibly (and rightly) irritated to get pulled from an 8th inning spot in favor of a match-up lefty, he kept things on the level (Sun-Times): “[Tony La Russa and I have] spoken since the other day and gotten things talked out. And I told him how I felt, and he told me how he felt. We move on and get ready to play the next day. That’s part of this game …. There are going to be things that happen that sometimes you agree with or disagree with. But if you can talk about it after the fact and get things worked out, that’s always a positive. I would take it as a positive because we talked, got things worked out and move forward from there. I’m not going to be upset and carry it over into my next outing or the next day or anything like that. We had a great conversation.” Good. Fine. Now make him the closer.
• You’ll want to insert the obligatory GIF of him falling over in the outfield at Wrigley, but I have a different comment:
Sources tell The Athletic that the Pirates have moved to sever their ties with scuffling veteran right fielder Gregory Polanco. https://t.co/hOQRyr0391
— RobBiertempfel (@RobBiertempfel) August 22, 2021
• Everything about Polanco’s early-career trajectory said he was gonna be a star. He was raking at levels in the minors where he was super young. He was taking walks, he wasn’t striking out at all, and he was crushing the ball. There was talk of him being one of those rare guys who was going to get a huge extension even before he’d debuted. Eventually he did sign a long-term deal at 24, later breaking out in 2018, and it looked like the Pirates had themselves a could-be superstar locked up. And then three years ago, at age 27, he just stopped being able to hit fastballs. That was it. Productivity was over just like that. It could have been a shoulder injury that happened around that time, but whatever it was, it was stark and rapid. The $36 million he got himself guaranteed earlier in his career suddenly looks like a stroke of genius by him, rather than a heist by the Pirates. Unless there’s something major fixable in his approach/swing that the Pirates simply missed, he might be done at age 29.
• The pitching prospect the Cubs got in the Andrew Chafin deal, who was, you’ll recall, a deep scouting play because of his limited public exposure (signing time, pandemic, age) is hitting triple digits in his starts at Myrtle Beach:
A mere 100 this time. pic.twitter.com/iKGEM3UTXb
— Brad (@ballskwok) August 22, 2021
• Second base prospect Chase Strumpf, being that he was the Cubs’ second rounder in 2019, has very little pro experience. Pandemic and such. He had just 39 pro games before this season, and although he was a college bat at a major program (UCLA), you’d still expect a lot of growing pains, and you might not even have expected him to reach Double-A this year. Well, not only did he reach Double-A pretty darn quickly this year, there were growing pains for about a month … and then he took off. Since June 30, Strumpf is hitting .240/.373/.448 (17.0% BB rate, 23.5% K rate, 129 wRC+), and since August 6, it’s .381/.490/.714 (224 wRC+). Pretty good bet that the 23-year-old sees Triple-A Iowa next year, and is there at the ready for the big league team. You’d love to see him get more comfortable in the corner outfield spots and/or at third base, though, because longer term, he could see time at second base with the big league team only in the event of a Nick Madrigal injury (or a decision that Madrigal is just going to become a DH, but man, I hope that doesn’t happen).
• Kinda really need this guy to be capable and stay healthy:
🔶 – Nine-time Pro Bowler
🔶 – Two-time first-team All-Pro
🔶 – Super Bowl champion
🔶 – Known by some as “The Bodyguard”
Come meet the Bears’ new left tackle! https://t.co/aobSM2oibW
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) August 23, 2021