Baserunning Problems Aplenty, Madrigal's Good Month and Role, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Baserunning Problems Aplenty, Madrigal’s Good Month and Role, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I’m not as emotionally invested in Tolkien stuff as some folks, though I really liked ‘Lord of the Rings’ and enjoyed reading ‘The Hobbit’ when I was younger. That is to say, I’m not going to be crushed if the new LOTR series on Amazon isn’t any good – the first two episodes came out today – but I’m certainly hoping it is. I do wish it wasn’t going to be airing at the same time as ‘House of the Dragon,’ because that one already looks good, and the styles are so different (even as the broooooad genre is similar). I worry the LOTR series is going to seem silly by comparison. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

  • To my eye, in an improvement over the last few years, the Cubs have been pretty fundamentally sound this year in almost all phases of the game … except baserunning. That just never seems to get better, and boy did it look bad this week in Toronto. The Cubs have been infected by poor baserunning for what feels like a couple decades, and maybe it’s just part of their DNA. Recall, the TOOTBLAN was literally invented by a Cubs fan in response to Ryan Theriot’s repeated outs on the bases.
  • David Ross shared some of his thoughts on the baserunning issues in the Tribune: “There’s a professional level that we’re at now where trying to take a base without being a plus baserunner or plus speed probably is a little more risk than we can tolerate. We’ve got to be responsibly aggressive would be the way I’d put it …. Some of the instinctual-awareness stuff is more game reps, and guys have to understand we’ve got to be responsible and gain context. The old school don’t make the first or third out at third stuff. It’s just little details. Making outs on the bases, giving those away, how hard it is to score runs and running ourselves out of innings, there’s a tolerance for risk that (Monday) we definitely exceeded the manager’s tolerance.”
  • You get the sense that the Cubs have wanted to urge aggressiveness out there, but where it is not landing all the time is in pairing that aggressiveness with (1) a sense of your own speed and ability, and (2) a sense of the players around you in the field. Not all situations are created equal, and not every baserunner is Javy Báez out there, who can turn ANY situation into a positive.
  • I’m not sure if it’s been a personnel thing or a coaching thing, but it’s kinda hard to feel like it’s either of those (at least exclusively) since the people have changed year after year, and the issue persists. It’s been easy enough to get over quickly because either the Cubs were winning enough games other ways that it didn’t matter (2015-2020), or the Cubs weren’t winning anyway so it didn’t matter (2021-22). But if the Cubs are going to be a fringe-competitive team next year, needless extra outs on the bases are going to matter a whole lot.
  • For what it’s worth, by FanGraphs’ BsR stat, the Chicago Cubs are the 8th worst baserunning team in baseball this year (pretty close to 6th worst or 10th worst, though, as there’s a bunch-up there in that group). If you were curious, Nico Hoerner and Christopher Morel rate out as decent baserunners this year, while Seiya Suzuki, Willson Contreras, Yan Gomes, and Rafael Ortega (by a mile!) bring up the rear. Ortega is 16th worst in baseball, despite his relatively limited plate appearances.
  • More on Nick Madrigal’s good month, and hopefulness about it being “real”:
  • You’d love to see Madrigal finish the year doing in September what he did in August. Just be the kind of hitter he’s always been. I’m sure it would mean a lot to him going into the offseason to have it confirmed (in his mind) that the start of this season was all a blip tied to the time away, the injuries, the lockout, and the recovery from last year’s surgery.
  • Madrigal’s role for next year remains TBD, since it could be impacted by whatever else happens on the infield. I think it’s good to have him in the back pocket, but I don’t think the Cubs can look at whatever happens over these final two months and say, “welp, second base is totally locked down,” because that would in turn mean that you are limited in what you can do on the left side of the infield in free agency. (For example, imagine a world where Carlos Correa wants to sign with the Cubs, but only if he can initially be the starting shortstop – in which case you would want Nico Hoerner to be the primary second baseman. The Cubs need to preserve that flexibility.)
  • Cubs President Jed Hoyer was at the South Bend Cubs game last night, including throwing out the first pitch:
  • Justin Steele:
  • MLB is headed to Mexico City:
  • Big day coming for the Chicago Bears organization:

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.