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Cubs Mailbag

mailbag

We’re almost at the point in the season where it isn’t too early. Where the games aren’t too cold and everyone’s been in the same routine for awhile. I like that point in the season because then we can stop cutting each other off with WELL ITS EARLY and just accept results for what they are. We’re not there yet, but we’re close. For now, here are my Early Answers to your Early Questions:

Plan B is a big fat question mark right now. Happ’s K% per plate appearance is somewhere around 50% so there’s an immediate need to clean this up.  I’m torn between Almora and KB. Almora because it’s an easier move to make, but KB because he’s so productive. Like its beyond the point of even celebrating because it’s so goddamn routine. His OPS is over 1.000. He’s walked (11) more times than K’d (10) and he’s 3rd in MLB with a 38% line drive rate. All the stuff you’d love in your 3 hitter, which is where he should naturally be.

But the Cubs are in a unique predicament in that they have so many of the same kind of boom/bust bat in the lineup: Russell, Schwarber, Happ, Baez. None of these guys can be in the 1-4 spot consistently, so you have to get creative. We’ve seen young guys fail miserably so maybe the next creative step is exactly what you’re suggesting. Hit KB #1 and I think you can shake everything up from there.

This one’s tough because I want to say small sample size. It’s just 19 games. But at the same time we’re only 15 games into the 2018 season and I’m already getting panic attacks. So I can’t cherry pick the sample size argument when convenient.

Common sense says big leaguers typically don’t get their shit kicked in the door two days in a row. Obviously overwhelming exceptions exist. But I bet 6-13 is closer to “normal” in this circumstance than 13-6. It’s hard to build significant offensive momentum because the arms are so good and they’re honestly getting better.

No and not yet. Schwarber looks good and I think soon it will be very good. He’s looking like the Kyle Schwarber we penciled in this year with brutal defense and a thundercock bat. So we like that so far because it’s on par. But as season progresses, expect him to heat up significantly, which would make White Sox fans like you all pissed off because: see Napoleon complex.

Heyward gets all my hate and more right now but I should give him credit that he is actually putting up fairly decent advanced statcast metrics and no I’m not joking. His average exit velocity is top 50 in MLB but is that reliable? Idk. The data is soft, whatever that means (sounds cool). I’m clearly looking for a silver lining here and there’s enough here to say that maybe he is really, really, really unlucky to start the year. Maybe.

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He’s an easy target but that comes with the territory of being the new hitting coach, inheriting good hitters, and then watching them strikeout at an unprecedented rate to start the season. That’s wholesale regression and I feel comfortable saying it’s not what Theo’s after.

That said, the Cubs are 3rd in NL in pitchers/plate appearance, 3rd in foul-ball percentage, but below average in 2-0 and 3-1 count%. That’s complicated so let me back up.

The Cubs are very good at seeing a lot of pitches. That’s a strategy. Make the pitcher work. Problem is, that should result in more advantageous counts like 2-0 and 3-1. Like the Phillies. They lead the NL in pitchers/plate appearance. They’re 2nd in 2-0 counts and 2nd in 3-1 counts seen at 16.5% and 11.2% respectively. Same thing with St. Louis. 2nd in pithes/PA and 1st in 2-0 and 3-1 counts seen. The Cubs are up there in pitches/plate appearance, but they’re just 7th in 2-0 counts and 11th in 3-1 counts. Soooooooo what gives?

It’s the strikeouts. It’s taking pitches you shouldn’t take (like some early strikes) then being forced to swing at pitches you definitely need to take. It’s all interconnected and that’s where you draw it back to the hitting coach, because he’s the one working on the mental side of the game helping these guys put an individual approach together. The regression does not suggest that Chili is doing a good job. But again, it’s early so who cares?

1. Great baseball name

2. TBD

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Jokes aside, this is why some people hate Cubs’ fans. Goddamn can we be insufferable.

That said, at least 3 straight. Easy money.

Cool it with the DFA talk. I think you have to keep Happ in the lineup, just not leading off for obvious reasons.

He’s walked 14 guys in 15.2 innings, which equates to .897 walks/inning, which means it would take 111.1 innings to get to 100 walks. Chatwood’s averaging 5.1 innings per star, which means, roughly, that he’s on pace to walk his 100th batter in the 5th inning of his 21st start, sometime in early August. My guess is August 10th against the Nationals. Probably Bryce Harper. It always comes back to Bryce Harper.

Just to be clear we’re talking about pitching into the 8th inning. That’s what getting thru 7 means to me and right now Hendricks looks to be the only one capable. Again, just going off what’s in front of me. There’s too many command questions for me to feel strongly about the rest of the staff going deep. Also, it’s an older group, the offense stinks and its the NL. Lots of pinch hitting in the 5th and 6th innings so I don’t love it. Great question.

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I’d like to see Kopech, Lopez, Giolito, Hansen and a health Rodon. That’s kinda nasty with a lot of premium power stuff. Listen to Red Line Radio this week where me and Dave talked to White Sox head scout Nick Hosteler about what he likes in a young arm. It’s good shit.

Also, fuck the White Sox.

I said fuck the White Sox. Also, free agency and trades. Bullpen is the last and easiest thing to fix. Right now the Sox need to be focused on building a culture with the position players and if following the Cubs blueprint is any indication of success, the Sox are on their way to doing just that.

Theo and it’s not close because he’s the head honcho. It’s his name that people remember first for the good stuff so it should be his name to remember first if there’s blame. That’s the way it goes in pretty much all things in life except for some unnamed elected officials.

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