The Wife and I get to take a little day date today to the ole amusement park, so it’s about to be roller coaster o’clock for me.
• If you missed last night’s late Cubs win, it was a really good one! In a crap season, it was really nice to see the Cubs keep coming back in a game against the Brewers, and then pull out the win. It won’t change any trajectories, but it was still a really enjoyable game to watch in a season that has had too few of them:
• Christopher Morel’s late triple extended his hitting streak to 11 games, and an earlier walk set a franchise record:
A franchise record for Christopher Morel. pic.twitter.com/Q7jFqdg14a
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) June 1, 2022
• Morel, 22, has been starting at second base a bit recently, and we’ll see if those starts get squeezed now that Nick Madrigal is back. He could still spell the left side of the infield, while mostly starting in center field. I am just saying: while he’s up, he needs to start almost every day (i.e., only not starting when he, himself, is getting a day of rest). Through his first 62 big league PAs, Morel is hitting .283/.387/.491/148 wRC+, with good peripherals, and contact data that suggests he’s mostly earned the results he’s gotten.
• David Ross and Willson Contreras offer lots of love for Morel here at Cubs.com, and Ross even said the thing a lot of folks have noticed about the way Morel plays out there: “The triple there [in the 6th], sliding past the bag and popping up. To me, that exact slide reminded me of Javy. He’s playing the game with a lot of passion.” The players are different in a lot of ways, but the energy, excitement, loud tools, and athleticism all really stand out when each guy is playing.
• And yes, Morel was PUMPED in that moment, as he often is:
• Of note, Willson Contreras made sure to add at the end of his comments on Morel’s ability and energy and success: “He deserves to stay here.” (Contreras also offered the reminder that challenges are coming (NBC): “He’s going to be good. This game is about adjustments. At some point they’re going to make an adjustment on him. But I’m pretty sure he’s going to be able to make those adjustments back.”)
🔥Now Available! Show your Morel Support! Officially Licensed by @MLBPlayersInc.
— OBVIOUS SHIRTS® (@obvious_shirts) May 31, 2022
• Indirectly, the Madrigal return – if it does push Morel to the outfield more often – will make fewer starts available for Nelson Velazquez while he’s up, since Morel in center means David Ross is going to want Rafael Ortega in right field from time to time, to say nothing of Clint Frazier, who started there last night and finally had a great night at the plate. And this is all before Jason Heyward and Seiya Suzuki return, which will further squeeze things (and the Cubs are just gonna HAVE TO move on from Heyward at that point). That is all to say, the Cubs are going to have to decide sooner rather than later who they want to prioritize getting starts, and make roster moves accordingly. Basically, if they aren’t in consideration for 2023+ playing time or a clear July trade piece, then they should not be starting or maybe shouldn’t even be on the roster.
• Speaking of Frazier, by the way, his night was so big (single, double, walk, walk), and the to-date sample of his season so small, that he is now a league-average bat (.214/.353/.321/100 wRC+). Offensive numbers are so weird this year.
• Back to speaking of Madrigal, the hope is that the work he was able to do before his injury, and while rehabbing, will help him have his swing back on point (Marquee):
“There’s definitely been looking at some video of swings and just reflecting mentally on different approaches,” Madrigal said. “I’m not reinventing anything for me as a baseball player. I’m confident in who I am. But there’s definitely been a lot of time to reflect and watch video and I feel like I’m in a good spot. Anxious to get back out there.”
He felt like he was too stiff and rigid in the batter’s box prior to the injury and believes when he’s at his best, he is moving in rhythm — either with his hands or his legs/hips.
• I’m fine with giving him that time, post-injury, to see if that’s really all he needed. But we need to remember that it had already reached the point where it felt like a trip to the minors would’ve been justified (again, he hasn’t been in the big leagues for THAT many games, he’s BARELY played in the upper minors, he’s young, and he’s coming off a serious injury/surgery from last year). So if he’s not spraying line drives all over within a week or two, the calls to get him time at Iowa are going to resume.
• Leaving the Yankees front office to pitch for the Brewers, that’s wild:
Jason Alexander starts for the Brewers tomorrow as they finish this marathon trip.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) June 1, 2022
• The latest data point that spending indiscriminately, alone, is not enough to make your team a sure-fire winner:
Phillies lose again, 7-4, leaving the bases loaded in the 11th. That's five losses in a row. They're 21-29 and 12½ back of the Mets in the NL East as the calendar turns to June.
Perhaps worst of all: They're not even the best team in Pennsylvania anymore. The Pirates are 20-27.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 1, 2022
• Worse for the Phillies, it’s not like they spent all out for just one year – their commitments are long-term. They needed to win immediately to justify the spending that is going to make things even harder for them in the years ahead. They’re over the luxury tax this year, but they also already have commitments on the books approaching $150 million next year, $120 million the year after that, and $100 million in 2025. None of this is to say that spending big money is bad – large market teams SHOULD spend very aggressively! Instead, it’s to say that spending on big name players, on its own, does not make your team a winner.
• It’s like, why even call it a “slider” – thing needs its own name:
Tyler Rogers, Fastball & Slider Overlay.
Good look how his Slider "rises" more than his Fastball (or, more accurately, drops 14 inches less than his FB). pic.twitter.com/03Fs3g9Rih
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 1, 2022