Once again, I would like to thank my fellow writers here at BCB for covering Cub Tracks next week while I'll be away on a business trip in sweltering Scottsdale, Arizona. I owe you guys big time.
From Comcast SportsNet Chicago:
- Are the Cubs trying to phase Starlin Castro out as the everyday shortstop? While Joe Maddon wouldn't answer the question directly, Patrick Mooney thinks that it's a "yes" given the return of Miguel Montero and the performance of Javier Baez at Triple-A Iowa.
- And then there was Friday's lineup with Castro not in it, which Tony Andracki writes is the end of preaching patience for players who aren't performing.
- Jed Hoyer, however, is plenty comfortable with letting Baez continue to improve in Iowa and "provide some normalcy to a season that's been kind of weird."
- One thing is for sure: Even though there are still over 50 games left in the season, Maddon is managing like the Cubs are already in the playoffs.
- As for Kris Bryant, his goal for this season is to not to be Babe Ruth in his first year, but instead to set benchmarks so that he can improve next season.
- Jon Lester has been very impressed with the development that he's seen from the young players this season as they move from prospects to everyday big-leaguers.
- The defense has also kicked it up a notch, even if it includes catchers in left field and left-fielders at second base.
- With the changes that the Cubs are making to the lineup, including Starlin Castro not being in it, Phil Rogers writes that now it's time to get serious.
From ESPN Chicago:
- Jon Greenberg writes that even though it's still early August, September baseball can't come soon enough to Wrigley Field.
- John Jackson writes that Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber are part of the Cubs' future -- this season.
- [AUDIO] Pedro Strop had a conversation with Jesse Rogers on topics such as his role with the club, fun in the bullpen, and playing for a winning team.
- Clayton Richard on returning to the Cubs once again: "I'm happy to be back. However they want to use me is fine."
From CBS Chicago:
- Matt Spiegel is not happy with the Sun-Times, particularly regarding the story from Gordon Wittenmyer about Starlin Castro and ADHD. Spiegel says that ADHD is a condition, not a personality flaw to be ashamed of.
From the Chicago Tribune:
- Theo Epstein sees Joe Maddon as a huge asset to have because "he's not restricted by convention or by fear of how somebody might react to something."
- Paul Sullivan writes that the pleasure is finally exceeding the pressure, and it's about time.
- Although Jon Lester ended up signing with the Cubs last offseason, the Giants apparently went down swinging, making Lester an offer that made the Giants "a real suitor."
- Pierce Johnson has been impressive at Double-A Tennessee, and Mark Gonzales feels that part of that success is due to the time that he spent working with Jake Arrieta in Spring Training.
- The city of San Francisco has put a ban on smokeless tobacco in place that will start on January 1, 2016 and ban the use of the product at all public fields, including AT&T Park. Several MLB players, including James Russell, don't expect the ban to change what players do. I remember the last time that this story came up, and I remember the major kerfuffle that it started in the comments. I'm pleading with the masses to try and avoid recreating that scene if at all possible.
- More news on the Ernie Banks estate case as Elizabeth Banks, his widow, and Regina Rice, his caretaker, are set to meet for a settlement conference on September 25.
From the Chicago Sun-Times:
- Whatever changes may come with the return of Miguel Montero, Chris Coghlan figures to be right in the middle of all of it.
- Starlin Castro is "a little frustrated" with not being in the lineup, but he also understands why he's not there.
- Hector Rondon has been on a tear since May 25, posting a 0.60 ERA in his last 31 games.
- The Cubs will still be looking to add some more help during the waiver period, but Jed Hoyer thinks that it could be a difficult task with the parity that exists this season.
From Cubs Den:
- With Starlin Castro on the bench for a second straight day, John Arguello wonders whether the Cubs failed him by trying to mold him into the hitter that they wanted.
From Bleacher Nation:
- Kris Bryant is leading this year's rookies in the WAR race, but the gap is definitely closing.
- Luis Medina looks at how Chris Coghlan can become the Cubs' version of Ben Zobrist.
- Travis Wood has been excellent out of the bullpen, and a big reason seems to be his fastball.
- The South Bend Cubs have set a single-season franchise attendance record. The best part is that they still have 16 home games remaining.
From Cubs Insider:
- You know about the Madden NFL football game series... but how about Maddon Cubs 15?
- Another stat that's gaining traction this season is exit velocity -- the speed at which the ball leaves a hitter's bat -- and two Cubs are in the top 15 players in baseball on the list.
- John Sickels from Minor League Ball takes a look at how the Cubs' Top 20 preseason prospects are currently faring.
- And for those of you who voted in MLB Daily Dish's GM Confidence Poll (and even for those of you that didn't), here's their first list of confidence ratings. (Spoiler Alert: Jed Hoyer did really, really good.)
Today's food for thought:
- [VIDEO] How do you make your frozen lake a little more fun? Turn it into an ice carousel.
- More fun from NASA, who have created a web site called Mars Trek, which gives detailed views of the surface of the planet. I like to think of it as "Google Mars".
- You may have seen the poster for "Straight Outta Compton", and you may have noticed that it's started a new "Straight Outta" meme. Here are some "Straight Outta" items that you may have missed.