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Cub Tracks Hears The Call

The call of the west, that is — Ridgway’s wall, Russell’s bat, Bryant revisits old haunts, and other bullets.

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Chicago Cubs v San Diego Padres
Heaving the rock.
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

In our last edition, Cub Tracks went Yard while Mike Montgomery warded off the Rockies and Kris Bryant set off a bomb. There was some discussion about Bryant’s MVP chances, a new Cubs song, and a few morsels of brainfood. Since then, the Cubs managed to drop a game to the Rockies, losing the series two to one, and have moved on to southern California to face the Padres and Dodgers before heading back home to face the still-relevant Pirates to close out the month’s schedule.

Last night, the Cubs faced old friend Edwin Jackson, countering with Jon Lester. That had the expected result. Now they’re sending Jake Arrieta to the hill, hoping for a helping of Marvin Lee Aday’s signature dish. The magic number keeps dwindling and the wins keep mounting and relief pitcher tetris is ongoing as Joe Maddon tries to determine which seven or eight arms would look best under the klieg lights of the postseason.

Here are a few handpicked morsels for your infotainment pleasure, while you’re listening to the always * means autoplay on (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

  • ESPN*: Week 20 Power Rankings. Still on top.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times): Think nothing’s guaranteed for Cubs in October? Think again. I dunno. Tanstaafl.
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Cubs TV ratings up big – the biggest jump in baseball. Building on Fangraphs article, and extrapolating to the next TV deal.
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Kris Bryant on dance parties, 'Grey's Anatomy' and who would strike him out. “Kyle Hendricks would strike me out looking and Jake Arrieta would probably get me swinging,” he said.
  • Adam Nissen (Sports Mockery): Kris Bryant would stand alone in baseball history with MVP award. He has a nice string of baubles.
  • Dave Cameron (Fangraphs): Kris Bryant may be the best all-around player in the NL. “The Cubs have a lot of great players, but Kris Bryant is their greatest player...”
  • Jeff Sanders (San Diego Union-Tribune): USD’s Kris Bryant getting better, better and better. “Year after winning NL Rookie of the Year honors, Cubs third baseman is an NL MVP candidate.”
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Making the Gold Glove case for Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo leads all qualified NL first basemen in Defensive Runs Saved (nine) and Defensive WAR (0.2).
  • Neil (Chicago Cubs Online): Addison Russell keeps producing in fifth spot of Cubs’ lineup. He does indeed. Russell seems to have found his spot.
  • Tommy Birch (Des Moines Register): The Iowa Cubs welcome Tommy La Stella to Des Moines. He’s letting his bat and glove do the talking.
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Jason Heyward after getting the weekend off: 'My head is fine'. “I had fun watching my guys play,” he said.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune): Matt Szczur embraces being ready in a pinch. Szczur and the rest of the bench are always ready.
  • Cat Garcia (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): In moment of need, Mike Montgomery shines. “We think he can be very, very helpful to us,” said Joe Maddon.
  • Todd Johnson (Cubs Insider): It’s been a breakout year for a few young Cubs starters. Trevor Clifton, Manny Rondon, Jose Albertos, and Zach Hedges head the list, with Hedges getting the nod as ‘the breakout pitcher of the year’.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune*): Ascent hasn't been easy for Cubs' 2015 draft picks. “...there's often a gradual growing process.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times): Rookie Rob Zastrzyzny earns Maddon ‘trust’ in debut series. “...Let’s keep running him out there and see how it plays out,” said the manager.
  • August Fagerstrom (Fanraphs): Willson Contreras has developed into an everyday catcher. The numbers back it up.
  • John Dietz (Daily Herald): Split decision: Should MLB bring back scheduled doubleheaders? Shortens the schedule, but lost-ticket revenue mitigates against it.
  • Aldo Soto (Sports Mockery): Albert Almora’s injury could delay return to Cubs. Iowa manager Marty Pevey called it a “bruised thumb”.
  • CBS Sports: Albert Almora having injured hand examined further. Marty Pevey said the Cubs are being cautious with Almora.
  • Paul Skrbina (Chicago Tribune): Ian Happ, the Cubs' top-rated prospect, fits right in with team's philosophy. “While the 22-year-old switch hitter continues to learn the ABCs of "D," he has been no slouch at the plate.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times): Ex-Cub DJ LeMahieu, NL batting leader, ‘happy’ how trade worked out. “I’m certainly happy where I’m at right now,” said the Rockies second baseman.
  • Tim Huwe (The Zygote 50): Let’s talk Jonathon Papelbon. Considering where Papelbon might fit with the Cubs.
  • Lorraine Swanson (Chicago Patch): 'This Old Cub' Ron Santo documentary re-released with new ending. “Critically acclaimed documentary about Cubs great Ron Santo's remarkable life and career is being released on all on demand platforms.”
  • Josh Noel (Chicago Tribune): Catching a Cubs-Cardinals game in St. Louis has never been more fun. “There's never been a better time to be a Cubs fan in Cardinal land.” Some BCB regulars might be familiar with the concept.

Food for thought.

Iguana Tijuana barbecue, too.