Alzolay Was Quietly Excellent, Maddon Thought Rizzo Was the One to Keep, Cubs Hiring, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Alzolay Was Quietly Excellent, Maddon Thought Rizzo Was the One to Keep, Cubs Hiring, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Hey so that was a WILDLY unexpected night in Chicago sports against Boston-area sports, eh? The Bears didn’t just beat the Patriots, they beat them down. And the Bulls didn’t just beat the Celtics, they came back from an enormous deficit to take an enormous lead.

Too bad the Cubs weren’t facing the Red Sox in the World Series or something, because last night, they would’ve been a lock to win.

And on to the Bullets …

  • Adbert Alzolay was really freaking awesome in his limited time back in the big leagues to end the season. Over six appearances, Alzolay threw 13.1 innings at a 3.38 ERA, which, hey, fine. But the guy struck out 36.5% of the batters he faced, while walking just 3.8%. Contact quality numbers were great, too. The ERA was so much higher than the FIP primarily because of sequencing (i.e., hits were clustered, and Alzolay had a probably-very-unlucky 66.0% LOB). The sample is small, and it was all late-September opponent stuff, but still. Anecdotally, his dominance tracks because I feel like watching each of those six appearances, Alzolay LOOKED really good to me. As he’s looked before in relief.
  • With Alzolay, you can’t assume health. We know that part, unfortunately. But if he’s healthy, I do think we’ve gotten to the point where we can assume performance – at least when in a relief role. Alzolay still doesn’t have a ton of big league relief innings (42.2), but the performance has been stellar: 2.32 ERA, .194/.251/.303 slash line against, 32.9% K, 6.6% BB. I know it’s always a bummer to think about a guy with mid-rotation potential not being able to stick as a starting pitcher, but if this is the offseason where Alzolay full transitions into relief – including multi-inning relief – it’s hard for me to be too upset at this point, because I think he can be SO GOOD in that role.

“Rizz is kind of an anchor,” Maddon said during a guest appearance on the latest Cubs Talk Podcast. “You see what he’s doing with the Yankees right now; it’s no surprise. You’ve got [Dodgers new first baseman Freddie] Freeman. You’ve got [Braves new first baseman] Matt Olson. And you’ve got Rizzo ….

“With Anthony, you just watch his demeanor in these big games,” he added. “You can see he’s still doing that gig where he charges from first base on potential but; people had no idea what he was doing. Anthony’s just out there playing baseball, and that’s what I love about him, and that’s never going to go away. So he’s a hard one to lose ….

“I could go on and on. I could evaluate each guy. The one guy to me: Anthony was almost like the next Billy Williams or something like that. Their Mr. Cub. And it’s too bad that he had to leave.”

  • There’s maybe a little bit in there that’s over-the-top, but, generally, Maddon is not wrong. I always understood the baseball reasons for the relatively modest contract offer to Rizzo before the 2021 season, and the baseball reasons for the trade that deadline (I’m a big Kevin Alcántara fan!). But I think you can understand those things while also feeling like some players are just supposed to be around for a very long time, almost permanently associated with a certain organization. Rizzo was deeply connected to the Cubs, to the city, and to Cubs fans. I had also assumed he would be the one who would still be around.
  • Anyway, Rizzo is not around, and as we discussed yesterday, even if Rizzo hits free agency again this offseason, I wouldn’t be betting on a reunion for a variety of reasons.
  • If you have a very specific set of skills, the Chicago Cubs are hiring in an area where they marry player development with tech analysis:
  • More stray thinking about how the Phillies succeeded this year, and how team president Dave Dombrowki has done it over the years (with four different organizations now):
  • Kyle Schwarber is back in the World Series, though the circumstances are a little less shockingly dramatic this time around:
  • Unscientific, but unquestionably accurate:
  • Low-key description of history:
  • Well all right, let’s get that going:
  • And we also got this:

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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.