Been Too Long, Let’s Clear The Tubes
Now that my hockey responsibilities are over, I’d better get back to this. Should have done a better job of balancing the two. One day I’ll learn I suppose. Anyway, figure it’s best to get back in the baseball writing swing of things by just clearing out all the things floating around the either between my ears.
-While the prospect of actually sitting down to watch the Mets v. Cubs probably confirms that my life is not all that it should be, it was an excellent and fascinating contrast between two pitchers with excellent stuff. Sure, there’s a large difference in age, but eliminating that you see both Zack Wheeler and Jake Arrieta have popping fastballs with breaking pitches to match.
And yet the contrast between how they use it couldn’t have been more stark, and probably a great illustration as to why Wheeler is very likely to go on to be a very solid #2 behind Matt Harvey at the very least, and Arrieta will probably always pitch just well enough to break your heart.
Wheeler was more than happy to just pour fastballs over the plate repeatedly. While he got plenty of strikeouts, he wasn’t chasing them. If they came, they came. He only used to breaking pitches when he had to, and I’m not sure he threw on until the third inning or so.
Meanwhile, Arrieta once again channeled his inner Javier Vasquez and wanted to throw every pitch he has in every at-bat. But while he wants to show it off, he certainly doesn’t want anyone hitting it. Arrieta nibbles and tries to deke batters instead of going right at them, which is why he’s usually drowning in pitches and baserunners by the 4th inning. He doesn’t chase strikeouts so much as avoid contact violently, and he’s never going to be anything until this changes. And as he’s 28, it probably won’t.
-Don’t look now, but the bullpen has kind of evened itself out. Sure, there’s going to be some bumps in the road from here on out, but let’s be glad the Cubs finally just turned it all over to the kids and sent Jose Veras on his way. Neil Ramirez has been great. If Renteria can keep from using Justin Grimm every day, he’ll be effective. Schlitter has given up three hits in his last 10 appearances. Hector Rondon has been very good as well. Back in April you knew it could get here, it was just kind of a mess doing so. They’re going to have to kick it up a gear in about six weeks when Samardzija and Hammel are dealt and they’re used more often, but trial by fire and all that.
-The Kris Bryant stuff has already gotten annoying. Here I thought it wouldn’t be until August or so. There’s utterly no point in bringing him to the majors now. We can all be sure he’s likely to start 2015 at Wrigley, and that should be enough. If he were moved to Triple A at the beginning of July, that would give him about 300 PAs in Tennessee and then a further 200 in Iowa. The jump for him from AA to AAA shouldn’t be as rough as it was for Baez, as he’s a much more patient hitter. Experienced pitchers aren’t just going to be able to throw breaking ball in the dirt after breaking ball in the dirt to get him out. There’s really no reason to think he won’t shred AAA like he has in Tennessee, which should set him him for 2015.
Folks, this is the last of the dregs. Starting next April the Cubs will be at the very worst entertaining, and soon they will be good. And even this year isn’t all that hard, with Rizzo and Castro as good as they’ve been. Calm it the fuck down.
-Just me or is Castro making the difficult plays in the field look even easier than he has in the past?
-Renteria’s next project should be to get Mike Olt to relax. It’s one thing for him to swing and miss a lot, which we knew would be the case no matter how good he was or wasn’t. But when he’s whiffing on hanging curves or fastballs over the heart of the plate, that’s just a matter of pressing. It’s hard not to press when you’re playing for your job and future (Olt must see Bryant’s home run total every day and wonder if he isn’t already running out of time), but that’s no way to succeed in the majors. Renteria needs to assure Olt he’ll be in the lineup regularly if he doesn’t hit three home runs every game. Because the pressing is affecting his ability to get walks, which should be a big part of his game. But players don’t always think a high walk total impresses those in charge. It will here.