Schwarber Close Twice, Astros Cheating Chatter Again, Why the Cubs Made Another Hitting Coach Change, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Schwarber Close Twice, Astros Cheating Chatter Again, Why the Cubs Made Another Hitting Coach Change, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Phillies went down 5-0 last night to the Astros again, which I assumed was their plan all along. But somehow this time they did not come back to win. Weird, right?

  • Game Three is tomorrow night – Halloween! – in Philadelphia, where the fans are going to be NUTS. Lance McCullers Jr. faces Noah Syndergaard. Game Two highlights:
  • Kyle Schwarber was within inches of making the game much more interesting late last night … TWICE IN THE SAME AT BAT:
  • It was impossible to watch last night’s game while following on Twitter and not be inundated by these videos of Framber Valdez doing some things with his hands and also changing his glove midway through the game:
  • Valdez, who sports one of the highest spin rate curveballs in baseball, has seen a further spike in the spin rate this postseason, which was always going to get people talking. That isn’t necessarily fair, as we’ve seen there are some natural reasons for that to happen (though there are natural limits). But, yes, the videos do look a little suspicious, especially knowing – based on league-wide data, not specific to Valdez – that sticky stuff is almost certainly back in heavy usage in the game. Maybe Valdez was just trying to get some more sweat off of his hand to use. Maybe he thereafter just liked to rub the inside of his glove when he takes it off. Maybe he also had some dirt on his hand in a weird spot that he wanted to rub off on his pants before the umpire looked at his hand. Hey. It’s all possible.
  • Oh, plus, let’s be real, all non-Astros fans are still extremely primed to pounce on anything that lets them call the Astros cheaters. That, too, is not Valdez’s fault, but it’s just the reality of his team situation.
  • As for Valdez, here’s what he said after the game:
  • Hey, that’s a fine explanation for the one where he’s rubbing his hand on the mound, but it doesn’t quite explain the other two where the play is over and he’s coming off the field. Maybe he’s playing 4-D chess and wants the other team to see that stuff and get worried and distracted between innings. Or maybe there’s some sticky stuff there. Not sure we’re gonna know either way, because there was no dramatic on-mound, in-game Joe Musgrove ear check situation.
  • Speaking of debates about Astros players cheating, Martin Maldonado used an illegal bat in Game One, but MLB said that because the reason it was illegal was related to safety concerns and not performance, there is nothing to worry about:
  • Maybe so, but obviously MLB has LOADS of reasons to want to squash any “Astros cheating again” talk before it gets out of hand. From before Game One:
  • I should’ve been paying closer attention:
  • If you missed Bryan’s news yesterday in the Prospect Notes, outfielder Yonathan Perlaza has re-signed with the Cubs for 2023, rather than hitting minor league free agency. That is awesome news. Now we just wait to find out whether the Cubs eventually put him on the 40-man roster, or if they let him stay exposed to the Rule 5 Draft.
  • Ozzie Guillen has apparently had two interviews with the White Sox for their open managerial position, which would seem to suggest he really is a serious candidate.
  • The Sun-Times has some quotes from now-former Cubs hitting coach Greg Brown, which came at the end of the season (before any of the news came out about the change to Dustin Kelly). It’s interesting to read them now and think about the context they might provide for the change: “It’s not going to work out for every player to have their career years [the same season]. And if they do, we’ll probably win the championship that time. But when it comes down to being able to set the expectations and the standards we’re trying to achieve, well, I think that’s been done in Year 1. And I think that’s a success …. I made mistakes of trying to help without creating that relationship first. That’s been a large portion of my learning curve throughout [this season]. That’s something you take away and go, ‘Moving forward, how do I not make that mistake again?'”
  • You could read that stuff as Brown having kinda gotten screwed by the lockout, but also that the Cubs realized over the course of the season that they wanted a big league hitting coach with well-established relationships with the guys who are going to be coming up over the next several seasons. (Of course, that assumes a Cubs hitting coach lasts more than a year …. ) That would explain why the Cubs wanted Brown to accept another role in the organization if he was open to it, as it wouldn’t be that they wanted to fire him or anything, it’s just that they learned over the course of the year that they wanted Kelly for this role.
  • Again, I figure we’ll find out more from the Cubs on this change when the organizational meetings and GM Meetings come around next month. I am just guessing that this isn’t a situation where the Cubs felt like their hitting coach was a failure and was the reason the offense wasn’t great. Probably more complex than that, and there’s too much riding on this next wave of positional prospects for the Cubs not to do everything they can to align things as perfectly as possible.

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.