Hello again, everybody. It was a fun week for baseball fans as the Midsummer Classic caught the attention of the sporting world the first few days of the week. I, like most, absolutely loved the new approach to Home Run Derby. The clock was just great, and in a game where clocks never existed, maybe it is the first step to, you know, more clocks.
As the second half of the season gets underway today, the Cubs have 75 games left to prove that the first half was not a fluke, or instead, if there will be meaningful baseball games in September … for the Cubs. So with that, let’s get down to it and go rambling this fine and hopefully phenomenal Friday.
• Speaking of Home Run Derby, it is always great watching the hometown guy win. In pretty much everything, the hometown guy should garner the rooting interest.
• I was actually standing during Frazier’s last round. It is fun to get excited about something that really does not matter whatsoever.
• And now we will discuss things about the Cubs …
• I loved watching the Bryants have their moment Monday. No matter the outcome, it has to be one of the coolest things in the world to get to participate in the Derby and have your dad pitch to you just like you were three-years-old again. It was just too cool.
• I saw a story from The Score, I believe, saying there is little interest from other teams in Castro. I cannot say I blame the other teams. While Starlin has a ton of raw talent, he is hitting .247 with an OBP under .300. That is rough. Very rough.
• And the debate begins … will he catch or will be play in the outfield? Where should he be? What should they do with him? The espousing and pontificating definitely will be ratcheted up the next few days.
• And yes, I called him “The Schwarbs.” If you don’t like it, that’s totally fine, but tell me what you would nickname him. I would love to hear a bunch of ideas in the comments. A guy like Kyle Schwarber needs a solid nickname.
• Think about the roller coaster of emotions the prospect must be feeling. Schwarber is probably rolling well right now, but I am instantly reminded of Javier Baez. Where have you gone, Javy?
• And yes, I know the answer, but think back to almost a year ago … and then think of the present for Javier Baez. Life can change so very quickly.
• If the Cubs are going to play multiple meaningful games in September, then the players on the Cubs have to start hitting. A lot. And a lot more than they did in the first half.
• The only everyday regular hitting above .270 is Rizzo. In comparison, the Pirates have five regulars hitting above .270.
• As the season progresses and the pressure rises, the spotlight on the Cubs offensive woes will get much brighter and much hotter.
• My first half offensive surprises are Chris Denorfia’s .304 batting average and Rizzo’s 12 stolen bases.
• My first half pitching surprises are Lester’s eight losses, Justin Grimm’s 1.19 ERA, and Motte’s line of six wins and five saves. Six wins and five saves … that is one random stat line right there.
• And how about your first half surprises? Let me hear about them. Tell me more. Feed them to me.
• Also, Edwin Jackson is 2-1 with a 3.19 ERA in 23 appearances. If I threw that line at you in March, you would have taken it and eaten it with a spoon. You would have loved it. So let’s call it what it is … a darn decent performance … well only if you don’t consider his $11 million paycheck.
• The fifth starter position could get real interesting if the Cubs do not make a move soon. Will Wada stick? Will Wood get another chance? Will Dallas Beeler get another look? I know Clayton Richard is there, but Clayton Richard against the Marlins is one thing. Clayton Richard against the Cardinals is a completely and entirely different concept. And yes, I understand that it is for many pitchers, not just Mr. Richard.
• This brought to you by Best Pal Sports, Inc., we thought the offense might be the strength and they are 23rd in runs, and 25th in slugging.
• The starting pitching is sixth in ERA, third in least walks allowed, and third in batting average against. And the bullpen is seventh in ERA and sixth in batting average against. While there is a chance pitch framing is helping this, stats are stats.
The offense might have been the perceived strength of this team in the spring, but the pitching is carrying it. Here’s to hoping the offense improves and the pitching continues. And here is to a great weekend for all.
And until next time …
Stay Classy Cubs Fans!!