The Cubs have played 16 games and in each of those games Joe Maddon has batted his pitcher eighth. And when his team is finally able to play game No. 17, Jake Arrieta will hit eighth in that lineup as well.
Joe Maddon’s decision to bat his pitcher eighth has come with more than its fair share of criticism. Maddon and the ‘geeks’ in the front office, as he calls them, have determined through statistical analysis it is really a wash batting the pitcher eighth instead of in the traditional ninth spot of a National League lineup.
According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Maddon plans on sticking with his pitcher hitting eighth. As the report pointed out, for Maddon it’s not about batting his pitcher eighth it is about getting the middle of his lineup more opportunities to hit with runners on base.
The way Maddon views it is the ninth hitter becomes the Cubs’ second leadoff hitter, or “leadoff hitter in training.” For the concept to work properly, the ninth hitter has to get on base, but he also benefits from hitting in front of the top of the lineup.
According to reports from the Sun-Times and Jon Heyman, there is still a possibility that the players union will file a grievance against the Cubs for sending Kris Bryant, a non-roster player, down to Triple-A Iowa to start the season.
Bryant told the Sun-Times he has not been contacted by the union about a grievance being filed on his behalf. Bryant admitted he “doesn’t know what he would say if the union called to ask for his consent or blessing to seek a grievance over the 12 days he spent in the minors to start the season.” Bryant was reportedly not happy when he didn’t make the team out of Spring Training.
Bryant has said all of the right things publicly about the situation and there isn’t believed to be any friction between the front office and Bryant.
Jon Heyman reported that Tony Clark, the head of the players union, is expected “to reach out to Bryant soon to determine his mindset.”
Gordon Wittenmyer tried to contact the union for a comment on the situation. The union blasted the Cubs for their decision to send Bryant down at the end of Spring Training, but declined to comment Friday according to Wittenmyer.
Jake Arrieta told Wittenmyer he thinks the union is “maybe spinning their wheels a little bit.” Arrieta added “the rules are the rules, the team has the ability to do that based on what we agreed upon.” Arrieta doesn’t think the union can prove the Cubs did anything wrong by sending Bryant down to Triple-A.
The MLBPA is expected to use the Kris Bryant decision as a bargaining tool when talks begin over the new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) later this year.
The Cubs were a big hit on WGN-TV Ch. 9 last week. The ninth inning comeback on Tuesday delivered a 5.4 Household (HH) rtg, peaking at an 8.6 HH rtg. It was the highest ratings for a Cubs telecast on WGN-TV in nearly four years (June 2011).
Even with the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Cubs ratings were the highest it had been since May 2010 for adults between 25- and 54-years old.
According to the release, approximately 187,400 households and 231,900 viewers tuned in during prime time to watch the Cubs game.
Jim Fanning passed away Saturday at the age of 87. Fanning was in baseball for over 60 years and is best remembered as the General Manager for the Montreal Expos. Fanning was elected into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.
The Cubs signed Jim Fanning as a free agent in 1949. Fanning broke in the majors with the Cubs in 1954 and played 11 games behind the plate for the Cubs that season. Fanning played in 64 games over four years in the big leagues, all with the Cubs, and collected 24 hits in 141 at bats with two doubles.
Rain Delay Theater
The players entertained themselves during the ridiculously long rain delay Saturday (four hours, 13 minutes). Miguel Montero tweeted selfies, one of him and Jake Arrieta, and let those that follow him know that he and Jorge Soler were about to play Dominos at one point Saturday.
Anthony Rizzo tweeted a photo of the Cubs 25 & Under Club.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Anthony Rizzo has been hit by a pitch six times this month, one short of the record for April held by Shin-Soo Choo. Obviously, Rizzo doesn’t like getting hit. But Rizzo is not going to back away from the plate according to a report from ESPN Chicago. In 16 games this season, Rizzo is 19-for-55 with three doubles, two home runs, four stolen bases, 11 walks and eight strikeouts (.345/.493/.509) for a 1.002 OPS.
• And Joe Maddon sees a lot of Joey Votto in Anthony Rizzo.
• Joe Maddon likes Gonzalez Germen’s stuff, he “profiles really well in swing-and-miss” according to his skipper. And for the record, his last name is pronounced ‘GER-men.’
• Addison Russell hasn’t exactly gotten off to the hottest start at the plate. But Russell’s defense, especially at a position he’s learning, has been extremely good. Maddon doesn’t think the Cubs beat the Reds on Friday night without Russell throwing out Billy Hamilton leading off the fifth inning. And Maddon is right. Not only did Russell’s play keep Hamilton from scoring (yes, he was thrown out at first base, but two pitches later he would have been on third base with no outs) but it seemed to pick up Jon Lester and turn around his outing. Maddon said there are a lot of things Russell can do to help the Cubs win games … and he believes Russell is going to hit.
• Jonathan Herrera delivered the game winner on Friday night. And his versatility could help the Cubs continue to win games according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.
• Lisa Fielding provided background on the Cubs new left field video board on WBBM.
• Scott Baker is starting for the Dodgers this afternoon (Sunday) according to Dylan Hernandez. Baker signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers on April 4. Baker made three starts for Oklahoma City, one of the three was against Iowa. Baker took a perfect game into the seventh inning and was one strike away from completing the seven-inning perfecto … Addison Russell broke his bid for minor league perfection. Baker is 1-1 in three Triple-A starts this season with a 1.06 ERA and a 0.65 WHIP.
And last, but not least, Lou Piniella was not able to attend the celebration at Great American Ball Park this weekend. The Reds were recognizing the 1990 World Series Champions. Carrie Muskat obtained the letter ‘Sweet Lou’ sent to his players, coaches and fans.
This Day In Cubstory
2003 – Cubs released Rob Stanifer
1997 – In a 7-6 win over the Pirates at Wrigley Field, Ryne Sandberg hit the 267th home run of his career and passed Joe Morgan for the most longballs hit by a second baseman in the history of the game.
1977 – Kosuke Fukudome, born
1962 – Cubs released Paul Casanova
1962 – Cubs traded Sammy Taylor to the Mets for Bobby Smith
1961 – Curt Wilkerson, born
1941 – The Cubs became the first Major League team to install an organ at their ballpark.
1927 – Bob Zick, born
1920 – Ron Northey, born
1905 – Jack McCarthy became the only outfielder in Major League history to throw out three runners at home plate, each of which were the second out of a double play, as the Cubs beat the Pirates 2-1 in Pittsburgh.
1900 – Hack Wilson, born
1882 – Ira Higginbotham, born
1869 – Fritz Clausen, born