Rizzo, Baez Blasts Lift Hendricks and Cubs Past the Mets – Cubs 4, Mets 1

Game One Hundred Twenty-Four: Cubs 4, Mets 1

WP – Kyle Hendricks (5-1) LP – Buddy Carlyle (1-1) Save – Hector Rondon (18)

wflag-pub2014Kyle Hendricks made one mistake over seven excellent innings, Anthony Rizzo hit a go ahead homer in the eighth and Javier Baez added a two-run blast in the ninth as the Cubs beat the Mets on Monday afternoon to earn a split the four-game series at Citi Field.

Anthony Rizzo (2-for-4 with a double, a home run, a walk and two runs scored) broke out of his slump in a big way Monday. Rizzo doubled and scored the Cubs first run in the sixth on a single by Luis Valbuena (3-for-4 with a RBI) that tied the game at one. Rizzo launched a solo shot with one out in the eighth, and his 28th longball of the season gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead.

Javier Baez (1-for-5 with a home run and two RBI) ended his first trip to New York with an exclamation point. Baez crushed a 1-0 pitch from Jenrry Mejia in the ninth with Ryan Sweeney on board that ended up in the second deck of Citi Field after traveling 434 feet.

Kyle Hendricks kept the Mets off balance his entire outing and the only mistake he made Monday afternoon Lucas Duda deposited in the Cubs’ bullpen beyond the wall in right center. Hendricks found a rhythm early and the Mets made little solid contact during his seven innings on the mound. Hendricks limited the Mets to one run on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Hendricks recorded two eight-pitch innings and threw 94 pitches, 59 for strikes, in seven innings.

Neil Ramirez retired all three batters he faced in the eighth with two strikeouts and Hector Rondon picked up the save after working around a leadoff double.

Cubs pitching held the Mets to four hits in each of the four games.

Bartolo Colon was a late scratch and Carlos Torres made quick work of the Cubs offense through the first five innings. Torres struck out five of the first 10 batters he faced in a spot start. Torres became the first pitcher this season to pitch on back-to-back days after he appeared out of the Mets’ pen in Sunday’s game.

The Cubs managed nine hits on the afternoon and won a game in which the offense left the bases loaded twice, once in the fourth and again in the eighth.

Starlin Castro (1-for-4 with a walk) and Justin Ruggiano (1-for-4) also collected hits and the Cubs struck out 11 times in the finale with the Mets.

With Monday’s victory, the Cubs won the season series against the Mets (5-2) and improved to 54-70 on the season.

Anthony Rizzo worked a one-out walk with one down in the fourth inning. After Starlin Castro flied out to deep right center, Luis Valbuena singled to right (2-1) and the Cubs had two on with two down in a scoreless game. Justin Ruggiano hit a 3-2 pitch back up the middle that Carlos Torres tried to make a kick save on. The ball hit off his foot toward third but David Wright did not have a play. The Cubs loaded the bases for Welington Castillo. But Carlos Torres struck out Castillo swinging to end the inning. The Cubs were 1-for-2 with RISP and left four on base in the first four innings … and allowed the spot-starter, Carlos Torres to throw 72 pitches, 42 for strikes, in four innings.

PrintAfter throwing 40 pitches, 26 for strikes, in the first three innings, Kyle Hendricks retired David Wright on a flyout to center for the first out in the fifth. Lucas Duda crushed a 1-2 pitch. The ball ended up in the Cubs’ pen beyond the right field wall and the Mets took a 1-0 lead. Travis d’Arnaud popped out to Castillo behind the plate. Hendricks issued a four-pitch walk to Matt den Dekker. The Mets’ left fielder took off for second on a 1-1 pitch to Juan Lagares. Welington Castillo made an excellent throw and Javier Baez made a quick tag, but den Dekker was called safe. Rick Renteria challenged the call and it was overturned to end the inning. Hendricks threw 56 pitches, 34 for strikes, in four innings.

After four complete, the Cubs trailed 1-0.

Terry Collins replaced Carlos Torres in the top of the sixth with Dana Eveland after his spot starter completed five innings of shutout ball. Anthony Rizzo greeted Eveland with a double to right. After Castro could not check his swing on a 3-2 pitch, Luis Valbuena pulled a 2-1 pitch into right. Rizzo was waived in and scored, game tied at one. Collins decided that was enough for Eveland and went to his pen for Buddy Carlyle. Ruggiano struck out swinging and Castillo flied out to right to end the inning.

Kyle Hendricks set down Granderson, Murphy and Wright in order on eight pitches in the sixth inning. Hendricks threw 79 pitches, 51 for strikes, in six innings.

The Cubs and Mets were tied at one after six innings.

Javier Baez could not check his swing on a 3-2 pitch from Buddy Carlyle and was called out to start the eighth inning. Anthony Rizzo stepped in and pulled a 1-1 pitch to deep right … and Rizzo’s 28th longball of the season put the Cubs up 2-1. Starlin Castro walked, Luis Valbuena (0-2 pitch) singled to center and with runners on first and second with one out, Terry Collins went to his pen for Vic Black. And Kirk Nieuwenhuis replaced den Dekker in left on the double switch. Justin Ruggiano struck out swinging for the second out. A passed ball on a 2-1 offering to Castillo allowed Castro and Valbuena to move up ninety feet. Welington Castillo walked to load the bases. Rick Renteria went to his bench and sent up Chris Coghlan to hit for Matt Szczur. Coghlan grounded a 1-2 pitch to Murphy at second for the third out.

Neil Ramirez replaced Hendricks for the eighth inning and struck out two of the three batters he faced.

After eight innings the Cubs led 2-1.

Ryan Sweeney hit for Neil Ramirez to start the ninth. Sweeney singled to center. Alcantara popped out to center for the first out. Javier Baez stepped in and crushed a 1-0 pitch from Jenrry Mejia. The ball ended up in the second deck of the big yard in Flushing and the Cubs took a 4-1 lead on Baez’s fifth blast of the season. Rizzo grounded out to short and Castro flied out to left to end the inning.


Hector Rondon took the hill for the ninth and gave up a leadoff double to Daniel Murphy (3-2 pitch) on the eighth pitch of the at bat. David Wright worked a full count before striking out. Duda flied out to center and Rondon caught d’Arnaud looking at a 0-2 pitch to end the game.

The Cubs open a six-game homestand Tuesday night (7:05pm CDT) with the first of three against the Giants. Tsuyoshi Wada is scheduled to face Ryan Vogelsong.

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  • Larry Schwimmer

    Neil or any of my fellow CUBS fans: Have you heard anything definitive about the possibility that next year the CUBS will groom Ramirez to be a starter?

    It looks like he’d make a great “closer.” You may disagree but I’m totally unconfortable with Rondon. He should be a “set-up” guy in the 8th (and an “occasional closer”). He’s way to unreliable for the kind of “stopper” a 9th inning closer needs to be.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Larry, here’s my response from Talkin’ …

      The way I understand it the Cubs have not closed the door on Ramirez starting again. With that said, the front office likes the way he has made the transition to the pen and think he might be suited better for a role in the back of the pen, same as Arodys Vizcaino.

      I would not be surprised if Ramirez is asked to report to Spring Training prepared to start, same as Justin Grimm last year, and depending on the depth for the rotation they could adjust his role accordingly.

      I am with you, I think he’s stuff plays better in the bullpen

      • mutantbeast

        NeaL, NRam is doing so good in relief right now Id leave him there. Guys with 1Eras and Sub 1 Whips are hard to find. And his past track record seems to be hes not durable when he starts.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          I agree. I think Ramirez is very good in the pen and fits there for all of the reasons you mention.

      • Larry Schwimmer

        Neil thank you so much. A big part of what makes your site so great is “you” and some of the other very knowledgable posters on this site. I appreciate postings that leave out the emotion and focus more on good critical thinkings and commentary.

        I’m open to Ramirez as a starter if that doesn’t cause a strain that puts him on the DL. The big point I wanted to make was that RONDON is not enough of a stopper to be the “closer,” whereas Ramirez is.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Larry, you’re more than welcome. I know you don’t care for Rondon in the closer role. Keep in mind there are more hard throwers (Vizcaino and Rivero) in Triple-A that as long as they stay healthy should be part of the pen next season as well. It is all about depth, as you know, when building a pen.

          • Larry Schwimmer

            You’re right about the need for depth. My bigger point was that the “closer” should be Ramirez not Rondon. Maybe the CUBS are just giving Ramirez a chance to get comfortable again?

          • Ripsnorter1

            Ramirez’s arm has been bothering him. His shoulder….

            I think they would be nuts to put him in the rotation. He’d be on the DL in less than a month, imo. He swings a big hammer. Let him close out games. Rondon isn’t a great closer, imo.

          • http://www.AstroDecision.com/ Larry Schwimmer

            Thanks. That makes sense and I thought that might be the case with Ramirez. He probably doesn’t have the physical constitution to be a starter. We agree that RONDON isn’t a great closer. My idea of a closer is not a guy who “blows a save” every 3 or 4 time out.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I have to agree Rip. Wish it could be different but worries me.

            I wouldn’t be surprised if they do have him medically assessed though. Just to rule it out.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            As Tony pointed out, Ramirez is fine. His injury was to give him a break, that was all.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          I am sure that some of this little jab is said with me in mind. And I presume others probably think I’m a fool and don’t know what I’m talking about. But I would argue many of my predictions and analysis have been dead on. I said Arietta would be a TOR level guy and many cried “oh Boardrider and the hyperbole.” Then I sai it about Hendricks, but with a little less surety, but always said I thought he’d be very good. Many of the same comment flew in reply. “Boardrider you’re so positive…that’s adorable.” But fact of the matter I’ve been righ as often or more than anyone else here. I whiffed on Kalish, Olt and the overall record we’d have this year. But those are only 3 that leap to mind that were dead wrong. I also said Rizzo would be an all star…

          So be careful with what you believe to be true. Friday ST went on about Olt getting so many starts at beginning of season. Then I pointed out that in first 11 games he started 5 and PH in 6. So discount what the ok Boardrider says at your own risk. I’ve played baseball through college and I’ve watched at least 100 games on TV for the past 30 seasons. Yes, I do tend to see the bright side if things. But that is because usually one exists. You don’t have to agree with it all, but to say it’s lacking analytical value and based on emotion alone is folly.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            One other point I’d like to make is that when I am wrong or my analysis is off. Usually I point it out before anyone else gets a chance. I’m the first one to admit it. That in itself, admitting an opinion or prediction turned out to not happen or that a particular piece of analysis was off, is a pretty unique quality on CCO. I don’t have to always be right. And I have had my opinion swayed by points others have made many times. Ask Denver Mike how many times I’ve replied to him and told him something he said changed my mind.

          • Joe Beck

            Khalish was a horrible prediction

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            It totally was. A little insult to injury though don’t you think Joe?

            People ever confuse you for the guitar player? Same last name?

          • http://www.AstroDecision.com/ Larry Schwimmer

            Hey Boatrider…I don’t know what you’re referring to when you say, “this little jab was meant for you?” I’m new to posting, so I don’t remember what comments you’ve made about “what” ballplayers. And whether you’ve been right or wrong.

            You can trust that I have no judgments about you. I was teasing you when I made my comment about your “passion” — but ONLY in connection to the time you jumped all over me :) when I shared my opinion. Nothing else.

            Personally, I like your positive attitude and willingness to share your views.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            It’s cool Larry. I like you and you’ve been a cool poster. Maybe I’m sensitive, but there have been a few comments lately differentiation between emotional or ocerzealois posting, and then those that actually know what they’re talking about. Maybe you didn’t have me in mind whatsoever when you made that comment. And I wasn’t really upset about it, I shouldn’t care what people think. But I do spend enough time on here that I feel like many of you are my friends and we chat often.

            I am eternally optimistic. But I would also argue that there has been much to be optimistic about lately. I have always acknowledged the fact the big league club isn’t and hasn’t been real good. But I’ve focused on bright spots when they’ve been there. Most of what excites me has been the building up of the farm. An I do belive with all my heart and judging from my years of following baseball fanatically, and playing it for 18 years, that te collection of talent we’ve accumulated is rare. Sure not all will make it. But I think what were doing is tough to draw comps to because our FO is more analytical and goes deeper than most any other. I believe when they use all their resources, they can collect more than anyone before. So yes, if 75-80% of our top prospects make it and are good, it will surprise me none. The FO came with a track record of ridiculous success. Then here thy have proved the masses wrong again and again. Proved they know more about this stuff, and are better at it than we are. So many of their acquisitions that nobody liked have priced doubters weong. Sure there are a few that haven’t done a lot, but many still have time to impact like Villanueva.

            So I think when you take out any bias or judgement against Theo. Which many on here have in spades. Whats going on is overly impressive and an optimistic point of view will be accurate more often than not.

            And I’m glad you post Larry. I like your style and from what I know I like you.

          • http://www.AstroDecision.com/ Larry Schwimmer

            Hey Boatrider, Thank you for the nice comments. I’m glad you like me and my style. From all the comments you’ve made, we have very similar views on the CUBS, the F.O. and most players.

            Where we differ is that it seems like you have no “tolerance” for posters (including me) who have a judgment against THEO. Sorry…but while I “mostly” like him and the F.O. — I don’t agree with every single thing they do. I’ve already told you that I thought they showed very bad judgment in keeping OLT on the team when he should have been sent to Triple AAA where he could work on improving himself.

            I’m not sure I understand why that bothers you? After all, even THEO admitted that he made a big mistake in signing Jackson to a 4-year deal. Signing Veras was a bad mistake. So what!!!

            We all make mistakes. THEO is no different. I would encourage you to be more “open-minded” to those who point out THEO’s mistakes.

            On the whole, THEO and his team have done an excellent job and their plan is the very best way to build a team that will contend just about every year.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I don’t agree with that at all. I have tolerance for disagreement with him. I’m not a big fan of the bias that so many have had since the day he had the introductory press conference. For whatever reason, perhaps it’s typical for some people that have great success, some just don’t like them.

            They’re not perfect, have made some mistakes. But there are a few here that are very biased. Never approve of anything and twist things around don’t give any credit when something good happens. Take Rizzo, he went to an all-star game this year and there are still some that want to tear him down. I don’t think it will ever change for them. They don’t like him, so everything is through that prism.

            I don’t understand that look. He’s a likable guy. Probably as much of an average Joe that anyone in his position could be. Humble, open,says what he means and means what he says. Gives his plans and sticks to them. He’s just an all around solid dude. Francona and his players in Boston loved him. Tito said he fell on the sword for him many times. That was what they had that worked. Theo fell on it for Tito, Tito fell on it for the players…at least in public.

            Theo’s a guy I’d love to have lunch with. So knowledgable about baseball. Like a stat machine in his head.

            I don’t see how you can say I have no tolerance and a closed mind. I acknowledge mistakes. It’s when good things get twisted around, or people try to steal credit when it’s due that i”m not crazy about. But that is their opinion, and they can have it. I don’t think to label me as intolerant or closed minded is accurate at all. I get my mind changed on here all the time. There are many on here who can remember a time they commented with somethign I said in disagreement and I replied with something like “that’s an interesting take, and I think you may have changed my mind.” I have an ego like any, but I’m pretty good at keeping it aside. I don’t know everything, about anything. I can always learn. I will ask for help. I don’t appreciate being called anything like closed minded. I’ve gone around and around with Cubtex for years, and I would imagine even he would say that I’m pretty open to new ideas.

          • http://www.AstroDecision.com/ Larry Schwimmer

            Hey Boatrider: I did NOT say that “you have no tolerance and are closed minded.” I said, “it SEEMS like you have no tolerance.” And, my exact words to you were: “I would encourage you to be more ‘open-minded’ to those who point out THEO’s mistakes.”

            You’ve already apologized for going off on me with the “who do you think you are” comment a few days ago — when you didn’t like what I said about THEO’s bad judgment re: OLT.

            Look…let’s stop this kind of discussion. It’s a waste of both of our time. OK?

            Let me suggest that we just focus on exchanging our views on the CUBS, players, F.O., etc. Everyone on this website shows their tolerance and open-mindedness by the way they respond to the views of those they don’t agree with.

            As I said: We both agree that THEO has done a great job; and that no one (including him) is perfect. Let’s move on to what we all can agree: (1) Baez is awesome; (2) Hendrick & Arrieta rock! (3) And bring on Bryant and 2015 because the CUBS are going to be awesome in 2015!!! :)

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Fair enough Larry! Glad you jumped in with both feet and now I know what you look like :).

          • http://www.AstroDecision.com/ Larry Schwimmer

            Thanks. You were one of the posters that inspired me to finally “officially join.” I like your upbeat and positive view of what THEO and the organization is trying to do. And I agree for the most part. I look forward to exchanging views and sharing opinions!

            I think you and I will have a lot to cheer about as we get into the off season and the 2015 Cub season.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I agree my friend. And I think that it’s not that we aren’t realistic about things. Theres’ just always several perspectives. I choose to dwell on the positive one’s as they relate to the Cubs and Cubs players. But I’m not oblivious to the downers. I know all about them…they are what I focus on when I look at the Cardinals…:)

          • http://www.AstroDecision.com/ Larry Schwimmer

            You’re 100% right: there are many perspectives. That’s why I enjoy reading most of the comments because I learn a lot and get a chance to share my perspective as well.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Veras was a mistake. I’ve never said two words about that though? Are you sure you have the right poster in mind? EJax was a mistake, although he was signed for market value and I think it was to appease the fans, and Theo learned from it.

            I don’t have a problem with a disagreement. I don’t attack people. What I said to you the other day about who are you to say shame on them, is probably the single nastiest, most aggressive thing I’ve ever said on here. And I apologized vigorously before you even had a chance to read the original post. I make mistakes, I can overreact, but I’m also the first person to acknowledge it. Again, I can put ego aside. I’ll apologize, give credit for a good idea that made me think. I have no need to be the smartest poster on CCO. I don’t want to be thought of as irrelevant either. But I”m open and usually keep my cool

            I did call Cubtex a closet Cardinal fan a few months ago. And I apologized for that too. But those two episodes are th ony things I can think of that I’ve had to apologize for.

      • Larry Schwimmer

        Neil: I’d love to move from “guest” posting to being a regular. Please tell me how to sign up so that I can have my name shown in the “blue” hyperlink. Thank you.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Larry, you will have to create an account in Disqus. That will give you a login and a password, etc.


        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          I agree on Rondon. Just not convinced he’s a shutdown guy. Although I think he’s very good.

          Ramirez could be a closer that when you he to 9th inning with a lead the opponent assumes it’s over. I’d love to have a guy like that. If he can start id like to see that too. But he has had arm issues.

          Tried to keep it nice and analytical for you Larry ;)…

          • http://www.AstroDecision.com/ Larry Schwimmer

            Boatrider, you’re a funny dude! I like your passion as long as you don’t aim it at me :)

            We both agree on the fact that Ramirez is our guy for a “shut-down” 9th (not Rondon).

            And I’ll bet we both can agree that few guys have come up with the “show-stopping” power of Baez. If he can become discriminating like Rizzo, he’ll hit 45 to 50 HRs a year.

            But the guy that I’m praying for to come back strong is OLT.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I agree. And I haven’t given up on Olt either.

          • http://www.AstroDecision.com/ Larry Schwimmer

            The good news is that Triple AAA reports have it that he’s made some important adjustments and doesn’t look like the same old OLT. The best news is that when he comes back to the CUBS in September, we’ll know “one way or another” whether he’s likely to be the CUBS future 3rd baseman/OF or a guy who can’t hit MLB pitching.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I suppose both could be seen as good news though. And if he does look good inSeptember then it opens up more trade possibilities in offseason.

    • triple

      I don’t think Ramirez should be a starter. He has been handled all year with caution, and he still ended up on the DL once. After a quick look at his game logs, he has only been leaned on 3 times this entire season to pitch in back to back games, and even then, on the tail end he only pitched partial innings in the latter appearances. He has only pitched 30 2/3 innings this season, so I think it’s also unlikely that he gets thrust into a closers role next year.

      My hopes for him are that next season we can lean on him much more in a set-up role. If he can pitch more regularly (especially back to back days) and stay effective pitching closer to 60 innings, then I would love to eventually see him get a shot at closing, but he still has to prove that he is durable enough.

      As for Hector Rondon, remember that he was a starter for his entire career in the minors and when the Cubs got him in the rule 5 draft, they converted him to a reliever, so this is only the 2nd year that he’s been pitching in relief (as well as the majors), not to mention that it’s his first as a closer. He’s basically learning on the job and proves to have a live arm. He usually has about 2 bad outings per month, which ideally would be even more limited. Back in June he had 2 really BAD outings where he gave up 8 ER over 1 2/3 innings. If we remove those 2 outings from his stat line, his ERA would be 1.77, which is much closer to his FIP of 2.12. Also, note that he has only given up 1 HR in his 48 1/3 IP this year. Not too shabby, if he can just limit those occasional outings where he is ineffective, which I think he can do.

      Like Neil says, there will be more power pitchers available for the Cubs bullpen for next year, so we will have lots of depth. I’m not at all trying to say that “I’m in love” with Rondon as our closer, but considering his success so far with his inexperience to the position, I think he’s actually done a pretty good job. And I don’t see why after an offseason to reflect and know what he has to work on for next year, why he couldn’t actually improve a little bit.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        They did say te DL trip was just a rest, he could have stayed. But I agree overall. But if they wanted to try snd through analysis and a good doctor believed he could do it, I’d be okay with it.

      • http://www.AstroDecision.com/ Larry Schwimmer

        Great points Triple! When you have such an anemic offense as the CUBS do, I’m ultra-sensitive to making sure that our “closer” doesn’t lose the game in the 9th. As you made your points, I realized that for most of the season (once Veras was gone) the CUBS didn’t really have anyone other than RONDON.

        I hope you’re right that RAMIREZ that develop into a durable closer that can go “back to back” games.

        By the way: any insight as to why the CUBS don’t want to give RONDON a chance to be a starter again?

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          I think it’s by necessity perhaps? Ramirez did just get back up. Also a lot of closing games is mental. We may not know exactly how they view them both in relation to that. Is Ramirez a killer instinct guy? Also, Rondon has been decent, and not even had a whole year. Maybe the idea is to try both down the stretch and decide the front runner going into ST.

        • triple

          You know, I really can’t say why the Cubs won’t give Rondon a shot as a starter, but just from looking at his MiLB stats, nothing really jumps out to make him look like he could pitch anywhere in the front or middle of a big league rotation. It looks like back in 2009 he had a pretty good season where he pitched great for the first half in AA, but then both his WHIP and especially his ERA went up considerably when he pitched the same amount of Innings in AAA to finish the season. Then in the 2010-’12 seasons he only played in 13 games so he obviously had injury problems, leading to the Indians leaving him unprotected for the Rule 5 draft. I think the FO looked at him and immediately thought if they can keep him healthy pitching in the bullpen, that he can be useful to the organization, especially considering the rebuild time and that if he does pan out, he was basically acquired for free and could make an impact when they are ready to compete. If anything, he’s already exceeded expectations in him being able to stay healthy. Obviously the program he is on to pitch in the bullpen works for his arm and he is able to take the mound as often as they need him too. That can’t be denied that anybody like that is useful, especially when your striking out almost 4 batters to each walk given up.

  • Pingback: Rizzo, Baez Blasts Lift Hendricks and Cubs Past the Mets – Cubs 4, Mets 1 - Cubs Chronicles()

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Love how efficient Hendricks is. Over a full season he will likely be amongst leaders in fewest pitches per inning or start or however that stat would be kept.

    • Jeff Wilson

      I love how it frees up the bullpen every time Arrietta and Hendricks take the mound!

      • DWalker

        need it after a Jackson start!

  • http://www.AstroDecision.com/ Larry Schwimmer

    I thought Ricky R had decided that Ramirez was the closer — not RONDON. Do you think the issue is that the CUBS are just giving Ramirez the time to get acclimated after is trip on the DL? RONDON is too unreliable to be a closer. I’m much more comfortable with Ramirez.

    • Vivid_Reality

      Could you elaborate on why you believe Rondon to be too unreliable?

      • http://www.AstroDecision.com/ Larry Schwimmer

        Vivid: RONDON has had several blown saves in recent outings. I saw him blow a game a week ago that was (I think) eventually won.

        In today’s game, he starts out by giving up a double. He doesn’t have my confidence, because he can pitch well for a few outings and then implode on the next. Just like STROP. I’m just wanting a much more reliable “closer” like Ramirez to give me confidence.

        • Vivid_Reality

          I only ask because I have been rather impressed by what Rondon has accomplished thus far. I would never have guessed before the season that he would end up leading the team in saves.

          He may have his flaws but if you think about it, this is exactly the time we want him to be “unreliable.” The year it doesn’t matter is always the year you want your players to work out their kinks. Being thrust into the closer role in your second year in the league isn’t exactly the easiest thing to adjust to either. I was curious how some of the leading closers this year did in their first shot at the closing role and I think you will find the results interesting.

          The three leading closers this season are K-Rod (38), Kimbrel (37), and Holland (37). I based first season closing on anything over 10 saves. In his first season K-Rod had 12 saves and 7 blown saves good for a 37% blown save rate. Kimbrel was 46 saves and 8 blown, 15% BSR. Holland was 16 saves and 4 blown, 20% BSR. Rondon has 18 saves after today with 4 blown. That gives him a BSR of 18%, better than K-Rod and Holland but worse than arguably the best closer in the game.

          What makes it even more interesting is that K-Rod and Holland were both thrown into the closing role mid season during their second full year in the league. The overall comparison is imperfect but it is a good tool to judge Rondon’s progress through this season. Ramirez may be the better closer but I don’t think they will remove someone who, all things considered, is playing very well. Also I think it would be unfair and borderline cruel to punish someone for playing as Rondon has. It’s probably not a precedent we want to set either.

          • http://www.AstroDecision.com/ Larry Schwimmer

            Vivid: Thank you so much for sharing that research. I was amazed that Kimbrel had a rough year at the beginning of his career.

            In light of the facts you shared, I’m open to giving RONDON more time to develop. But in light of what I’ve seen from RAMIREZ, he is more deserving of the “closer’s” role. To give him that job over RONDON is not cruel or a punishment — it’s just using your best resources to win games.

          • triple

            Good information Vivid. I don’t really get all the uneasiness about Rondon as a closer either, especially since he’s got an almost 4 to 1 K to BB ratio, and his propensity to get the ground ball. I think he’s done a great job for kind of ending up as the closer by default. If he can continue to develop, I think he would make a great closer, but I also have no problem if someone else wins that role as long as they can do the job better.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          I agree that I want a closer that is hard to even make contact against. Rivieara, prime Gagne, Hoffman, that type…

          Strop has had an incredible season. Probably was an all-star snub. His numbers are really good. For about the past month he’s given up almost nothing.

    • Tony_H

      When did you see that? Rondon has been the closer.

      • http://www.AstroDecision.com/ Larry Schwimmer

        Hey Tony…perhaps I’m confused? I thought that after RONDON had blown a few saves that RAMIREZ was put into sharing the “closer’s” role. If I’m incorrect about that than it’s my mistake.

        But let me ask you this: If it’s determined that RAMIREZ is judged to be physically fit to be the “closer,” — who would you rather have as the CUB’s closer: RONDON or RAMIREZ?

        • Tony_H

          I would prefer Ramirez as the closer. But not because of anything that Rondon has done poorly, but just how dominate Ramirez has been.

          • http://www.AstroDecision.com/ Larry Schwimmer

            Tony, I think you’re right: RONDON has done a very good job. But RAMIREZ has done an incredible job! So to me — it still comes down who is the better pitcher to be the “closer.”

          • Tony_H

            I don’t make the change this year. But keep doing what they are doing controlling the appearances and innings.
            I could see one or both shut down before the year is over.

          • http://www.AstroDecision.com/ Larry Schwimmer

            You’re right that makes sense. I continue to be impressed with THEO and the entire F.O. This is a very thoughtful, bright, opportunistic group of baseball execs. THEO in particular knows the mistakes that can be made, so the CUBS are benefitting from his learning curve.

            Let me ask you (and others) a question: If THEO goes after Lester (or Scherzer) in the offseason — would you agree that they’ll have a top $$$ dollar limit they’ll pay and a # of years limit for a contract…and if they can get a contract done within those parameters — they’ll do it. If not – they’ll pass on Lester, Scherzer and Shields. What does your crystal ball say?

          • Tony_H

            I think they sign Lester at a rate that is more than any of us would want to do so. They will have a limit, but adding a Lester type is needed to fully take the next step and help get to the competitive level much faster. I just hope that they do a large signing bonus and front load it in general as much as possible.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I agree. Not sure they’d llimit themselves going in. I imagine for Lester Theo will go back to Ricketts for more and more if needed. Like Tony said, it’s about more than just signing a pitcher. It’s what we need.

          • http://www.AstroDecision.com/ Larry Schwimmer

            I see both your point and Tony’s. And I have to admit that even if they “over-pay” it may be what the CUB’S have to do to show the rest of MLB that they are serious (much the same way the NATIONALS made a statement when they overpaid Werth a few years back.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Could be. In a few years we may regret the signing. But I think they’ve got to come away with one of the big guys. Lester or Scherzer are younger than Shields. I would love Scherzer, and if the money isn’t too different hope they get him. But Theo also has history with Lester. Signed him, went through cancer and whatnot with him. They’re pretty close. Tito and Theo were like big brothers to him when he first came up and when he got sick.

          • BillyFinT

            You mean the brain cancer? O, btw, the Cuban talk could amazing… if we get TomU into the discussion–

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Yeah, it was brain cancer wasn’t it? It’s crazy because it’s pretty far behind him now. Tito talks a lot about that time in his book. He was already close to Lester but of course that brought them even closer. His description of the scene in the locker room after Lester threw the no-hitter in 2008 really stuck in me. Tito, Lester, Theo, and the majority of the teammates all crying like babies in celebration of the feat. And what he’d overcome and accomplished. The Francona/Theo years in Boston were really special. As much off the field as on. I’ve said it before and I think some refuse because they don’t want to hear it. But the book is a fantastic read for any baseball fan, and is incredibly insightful to a fascinating era of baseball for a unique group of players and management. The interview process Tito went through was cool too. It took months. And Theo had all these simulations set up to go over and have Tito say what he’d do. Tito not only did them, but he came back a couple times on his own time to study them more and ponder. He describes a time he did that, after he had already given his initial answer. And Theo found him watching these and going over them. Theo sat down and they talked and went through scenarios for hours. Apparently Tito had the job wrapped up for weeks before they actually told him. I don’t remember all the circumstances. Again, it’s a great read. Stuck with me far moreso than Torre’s or Doc Gooden’s books. Which I read all 3 in a couple month period.

            And I totally agree Billy. I appreciated your insight, even if is was sort of speculation based on what you’d read. It sounded like you had enough knowledge and had read enough to make a pretty good educated assessment. In OKC, we have Jim Traber on local sports radio. He’s sort of a blowhard, but dude knows baseball intimately and I love hearing him talk about it. I call in quite a bit, at least when I can get through. I feel lucky to have him here. Anyway, he played in Japan for a while after his career in Baltimore ended. He is really high on their baseball. Said he faced some pitchers that we’d never heard of and never considered coming over to the US that were incredible and in his assessment would have been stars if they had.

            Plus he charged the mound on a guy that thre

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Threw at him a few times then plunked him. I’ve heard him tell the story repeatedly. It’s classic…

            And I just happen to know where the video is located!

          • BillyFinT

            It’s not speculation. It’s a sabermetric way of reducing bullshit and describe what a thing actually is. The translation between Cuban ball, international tourneys, and Minor league talent levels was something I’ve been looking at for a while now.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Okay, I guess I didn’t totally understand. But it sounded like you knew what you were talking about and IMO I gave it credibility.

          • BillyFinT

            Thanks. I enjoyed the talk. My earlier replies on Cuban talents were confusing, methinks, because I started trying to establish “what Minor League level is Cuban National Series?” I might as well write an anecdote and get on with it. LOL

            My observation was that the best Cuban players from the island, by both stats and performance “eye test” in the tournaments around the World (Olympics, IBAF World Cup, Inter-continental, WBC… plus a dozen more)… Most of them didn’t work out when they go to another league, mainly Japan’s NPB and American Minors.

            Does that mean anything? I don’t know. There weren’t enough players coming out. There certainly weren’t any players going into the Cuban series.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            Billy, please don’t curse. You know the commenting policy of the site. Thank you.

          • BillyFinT

            Ok. How about a lightweight replacement with “BS?” I was imitating Bill James style. It’s about the issue, not any person in this case.

            One of the first words he used in many of his major works and essays to describe illogical claims against baseball studies was “BS.”

            One simple word to describe something I’m not happy with, the power is between each line.

          • BillyFinT

            p.s. On Traber, he was a teammate of Hideo Nomo. Nomo is a cult legend of baseball.

            Interestingly, they both played for an era when NPB slowly eroded, before a big full-blown “reform or die” in 2004. The pinnacle level of Japanese pro ball, NPB was thrown behind the bus, as opposed to MLB and KBO (Korea), who’ve been growing more than ever.

            I think if you want to sense how Japan love their baseball, you need to go back to the 1980s, the Golden Era of NPB.

    • Tony_H

      Remember, Ramirez’s trip to the DL was just for rest and not due to an injury. He was ready to go when he was reinstated.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Nate Schierholtz got a job with the Nats.

    Shoot, I knew Harper was having a bad year, but wow!, I didn’t think it was that bad!

    • Varmit_Cnty_BBQ

      I think he will be ok

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      Rip did you see where Sczur is available to come up and return to minors within 20 days and not lose an option? It was some weird quirk, that probably few people realized existed. I think it’s a good example of the thoroughness with which our FO approaches the roster. They are like wizards to me. So good at using DL, various types of leave and gaming any exception they can. I know you don’t like their RM, but IMO there is nobody better.

      And I don’t say this to rub your face in something or pick an argument. Just seeing if you saw it and if you had thoughts.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        The option applied to Lake and not Szczur. When a player on the 40-man roster is sent down out of Spring Training the player is on an optional assignment for the entire season. The Cubs used an option year on Szczur when he was sent down in the spring.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          So I have that wrong? Oh yeah, I think we were maybe talking about Lake when that came up, but I”m not sure. Around same time.

          What’ is the status on Scxzur? This is his first time up isn’t it? So I assume he has several more?

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            The Cubs used an option on Szczur when he was sent down in the spring. Minor league options are for seasons, not the amount of times the player is called up or sent down. Due to his contract, Szczur has one option year left after this one. Most players when they are added to the 40-man roster have only three option years. Based on service time in the minors, Szczur was eligible for a fourth option year.

            Here is a link to the 40-man roster I keep as up to date as possible with the players contracts, options years, etc. Hope this helps.


  • Jeff Wilson

    Great to see a big “W” for the Cubs! Isn’t that like the 4th game in the last 5 that we only gave up 4 hits?

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      I heard that too Jeff! Incredible stat. The Mets radio guys were going on and on about it. First time Cubs have done it since the 80’s.

  • gary3411

    May have been posted, but really interesting article on how pitchers already are being extremely careful when pitching to Baez.


    • Tony_H

      I made this comment during yesterday’s game. Nice to have some facts behind the thought.

  • triple

    It’s interesting to look at the improvements this team has made throughout the season, and I’m not talking about the higher quality prospects that have been promoted to the team, but the quality of play and it resulting in better results.

    April: 9-17 (includes one game from March)
    May: 11-16
    June: 15-13
    July: 10-16
    Aug: 9-8

    They were 8 games under .500 after April, and 13 games under at the close of May. Currently they, are 16 games under after splitting this series with the Mets, so they are only 3 games under .500 when looking at the months of June, July, and August. I personally think the Cubs will finish both the months of August and September with winning records while playing the spoiler, as all the remaining teams they are playing are in contention to make the post season. If they can finish the season like that, it would set a great tone for next year.

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      I agree. And to no one’s surprise, I really think they’ll be a great team next season.