Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Cubs have weathered the bulk of their schedule facing bottom feeders for the rest of the seasons. The division hasn’t been decided yet with the Cubs finally getting to 10 over .500 in wins versus losses. Had they paid Aroldis Chapman they might be a bigger threat going into the post season. That wasn’t going to happen neither was signing Dexter Fowler whom I believe can drive the team with its leaky bullpen to the NLCS. Currently they’re built for a five game NLDS especially if their opponent is the Washington Nationals. Should we get to face the Dodgers which would be like climbing one great mountain to get to another one should they get past the Nationals and beat the Dodgers. The Houston Astros the odds on favorite to be the American League representative in the World Series.

I wouldn’t count out the Indians who are getting hot at the right time. Chances are not there for a rematch of 2016 because while the Cubs are hitting like they’re seeing beach balls their bullpen will lose them as many games as they could win with their bats.

Winning is going to be expensive going forward regarding the pitching staff and bullpen. The Cubs have the personnel to win for a long time in the future and compete for multiple championships in position players but pitching is not something that other teams are aiming to glean from the Cubs. Assuming they will not trade any of their position players on the major league roster I don’t believe there is enough in the minors to continue to bargain at future trade deadlines but as long as they are able to compete for the division they will benefit just by that.

They say it’s Cub when that used to mean a culture of losing top down. Every once in a while they’d have a star they’d call up or let walk for nothing. Or they get hearts to beating and then break those same hearts. Every team would say they have nothing to do with past losers but do it anyways. These boys however weren’t born through the worst of it or too young to ever consider they could break a century old curse. Believe me none of their fans did either. For most of them it’s been a bitch of a hundred years. Get so close and then flop. As a writer and still yet needing to be employed, in hospitality I realize that not very many hotels around know what it was like to host a world series since the end of world war 2. For three days last year it was torture.

We’ll leave it to doughy eyed children to believe the Cubs will repeat in 2017. There is still have the naiveté in believing that once you’re into the playoffs anything can happen considering I believed it was to be the Cubs and Blue Jays in 2016.

In order to win they’d have to throw pitchers on short rest which they didn’t have to do in 2016. No one wants to consider Jon Lester could have another ten run first inning blow up or that Lackey leads the league in home runs given up at least by a starting pitcher. It takes but one to sway the momentum of a game and turn a close game into a nine run inning. The Cardinals and Nationals know this. Quintana has been a great pick up as well as Avila from the Tigers but I believe home grown Chicago boy Curtis Granderson would’ve been as big a pick up. I could see Quintana in the role of an ace in a post season series this year he’s having a hard time dealing with success of run support he didn’t get with the White Sox.

For the rest of the season the Cubs have bottom feeders to face. If they’re not twenty games over .500 by October first and have ninety plus wins the writing is on the wall.

The realist in me says they will reach the ninety win bench mark feasting on Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and Atlanta. But as they'd shown in Philadelphia and Cincinnati that they can hit the ball to the next time zone one day and then cannot hit the ball out of the infield the next day. Jason Heyward is the name no one says because we’re stuck with him for six plus years more. The writers won’t see his name in trade rumors as no one will take on his contract for a history of doing what exactly? His defense what this year’s team has been said to be lacking but he is definitely bringing up the rear. He’s improved on his average but I can’t say he’s helping drive the machine.

The Cubs are however getting healthy at the right time with Russel and Hendricks and Contreras coming off the disabled list. Once again the position players are plenty and enough to club their way through the playoffs. So will the rest of the teams in the post season. Pitching will always win out.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Let us look back to the Harbaugh years in San Francisco and we see the beginning of the down fall of Colin Kaepernick. There were good years and bad years with the 'niners including a Superbowl appearance. But there are those who wondered whether Kaepernick was as good as his hype and that started long before Harbaugh left. Fast forward to today and he remains unsigned most believe because of his political stance. A lot of fans say how can you take the attitude of not saluting the flag of the country that made you rich beyond your wildest dreams?

Enter Jay Cutler. He is a white Quarterback who also does not have a job this season. He was injury prone and also prone to mishandle snaps and throwing the ball to the other team. Jay made no statements regarding race relations in this country but he has another thing in common with Kaepernick: they were both on losing teams the last few seasons.

Sports is a what have you done for me lately thing. Regardless of what sport you play. If 'Kap" had gone 10-6 last year and maybe made the playoffs. Had some of the numbers he had when Harbaugh was still head coach then he would have a job right now. He wasn't the only one protesting but he is the most prominent athlete doing so and the lack of  a job, even a backup job shines the light on him even brighter. One thing about journalism is they tend to stick to one side of a story and beat it into the ground. It is like law enforcement when they get on a trail and they don't let go even if they convict the wrong man. Colin Kaepernick was overrated when he was winning and flexing for the camera after every touchdown he scored. I'm not a fan of show boating because the fall is painful and inevitable.

People in Chicago got tired of Jay's brooding and the dropped snaps and the interceptions. The man is talented but probably more so in his own head. He is an NFL level Quarterback but at this point no better than Kaepernick. Considering both teams are coming off of losing seasons which the 3-13 Bears beat the 4-12 Forty Niners it's time to put the whole saga to rest. Colin does deserve a chance to prove himself. There are teams who could use a good back up. And who knows "Kap" could work his way into a starting job.
I hate to bring up Michael Vick though he served his time for his crime and did deserve a second chance. Kaepernick has done nothing criminal. He just picked the wrong time to pick up a cause. Many would say there is no good time when people of color are being slaughtered by the police. No one can contradict that when Philando Castile is shot by a police officer and people are able to watch him die live on social media after telling the officer he had a gun and made no move to use it. On top of that the officer as in too many other cases is acquitted. How do you blame a man for protesting that or a man choked to death over the sale of a few illegal cigarettes in New York?

You have players coming into the NFL as known women abusers drafted in the first round saying they are repentant over their behavior and at times repeat such behavior. Violent men who know better but teams want to win so they have these men on their teams. Even the Cubs are not without blame with the troubles Aroldis Champan had before coming to Chicago but he's got a nice fat contract back in New York and a World Series ring  to go with it. No one is talking about them while Ray Rice sits because no one will take him on. Strangely enough he might have more support than Kaepernick at this point. Once again he has committed no crime. The shame of it is the beleaguered Commissioner has not come out and said a word to defend Colin or shame them he knows is doing this young man wrong is a reason he should be removed from his post considering there hasn't been much hes done right in his tenure.

Americans have a reputation for speaking out when they are not made whole. When their legislature let them down.When something important as life is taken away in the worst ways. That a man would use his right to protest when any American is being hurt by those who should serve and protect would get punished for doing so by not being allowed to earn a living with what he is good at is wholly UN-American.

If this is truly the reason for keeping a man from making a living it is shameful and the owners who are perpetrating this injustice should be regarded in the same way as former L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Until one of them comes out and says so this will go on unresolved through the season. And every time a Quarterback is injured and Kaepernick's name isn't mentioned as a possible replacement it says a lot about this country and its regard for the lives of their fellow Americans. This isn't a platform to get all high and mighty about the police treatment of people of color. We're talking two different things. But it still has to be said we wouldn't be having this conversation if The Forty Niners were a winning team the last couple of years.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A hot start second half usual like since Maddon took the helm. The Cubs have beaten the teams they should have. No matter that their competition is around .500 and falling. Momentum is a rush. Late inning add on is this team’s M.O. witnessed by the Jason Heyward home run to beat Milwaukee. This is different from last year’s team which struggled to drive in runners in scoring position.
I said it all along the Brewers were never trying to win the division. It just took this long for the Cubs to finally get their heads together. So far second half pitching is on point. The bull pen is as leaky as any Cubs potential playoff team like the 2003 Cubs. Maybe the 2007 and 2008 Cubs under Lou Piniella.
With the team doing as well as they are I still wouldn’t bet against the Dodgers in a possible NLCS matchup. The Cubs have been active, adding Quintana to the staring staff and trading for a second catcher and left handed help in the bull pen. All of these moves are warranted for the future and a dramatic playoff run. With barely five games separating the teams in the division (sans the Cincinnati Reds) it is still anyone’s to win. The National League wild card is most likely coming out of the National League West.
While in Theo we trust we know dynasty’s come and go. I’d be selling the store to go back to back. A reliever or two can still be had after the trade deadline. Not worth trading away the future to upgrade what may still be a leaky bullpen. Another starting pitcher would’ve been my focus even if it means having a 6 man rotation going forward. A hunger games type of thing to see who makes the post season roster.
This is not a team that is used to losing which the reason for doing what they are. But they seem to be building for a run at the 2017 title. They’ve got their work cut out for them considering their just 8 eight games over .500 and is not running away with things like the other division leaders. Once the Cubs reach 10 and 20 games over .500 one can tell how much they’ve turned things around and how much of a run the Cubs have in them and how hard are they going to have to work to show that the World Series once again goes through Chicago.
No one can deny a team when they get hot at the right time going into the playoffs which is why I suggest sending Ian Happ back to the minors until the September call up so he can get solid playing time rather than sitting on the bench or throw him in a deal for a pitcher where some expect a number of our current staff to walk at the end of the season. There should be an acceleration on the development of pitching in the minors. It’s time to see one or two of them grace the mound as soon as possible. If even they start in the bullpen.
One problem with trading away your future stars is that other teams get better fast. Once again there will be talk about the Cub factor as one way or the other a former Cub prospect is gracing a baseball roster somewhere and be the one to strike a big blow for their club. The sky is the limit with this team. Until the last pitch has been thrown and the final score announced, the Cubs are the defending World Series Champions.