In our last episode, we heard the call (of the West) as the Cubs headed into southern California for games with the Padres and the Dodgers. So far, Kris Bryant and Addison Russell have made themselves especially comfortable at Petco Park. Bryant of course went to college in the area, while Russell just seems to like hitting there (his OPS is over 1.000 in Petco). And it isn’t like the rest of the team hates playing there. They hit in night games, they hit in day games, and the only reason they don’t hit between those times is because Joe Maddon doesn’t like batting practice.
The Padres are one of those teams I’m always happy to see in the rearview mirror. Especially when the Cubs have had a good series...but in any case. I have some latent Padre-hate stemming from 1984 still rattling around in my cold old heart. Some of it is mixed with Garvey-hate, but I’ll save that venom for another time. Some of it is even recent, and due to those gawdawful uniforms players had to wear during All-Star pregame activities.
Today is of course an off-day, and we can enjoy our iguana sweeploaf on the bus, heading up the PCH in our conceptual continuity, on the way to ‘sunny’ Los Angeles. I’ve provided a small selection of appetizers, side dishes, and just desserts to accompany your meal. As always * means autoplay on (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).
- Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Kris Bryant top 5 in bWAR over first two seasons, could be all-time leader by season’s end. The players ahead of him are all in the Hall of Fame.
- Zack Moser (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): With Bryant, the proof is in the swing plane. This year, he’s killing sliders in addition to fastballs.
- Chris Landers (Cut Four): These Cubs fans were so, so excited to catch a Bryant home run ball. They lost their minds and liked it.
- Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Russell a Gold Glove SS? Maddon thinks so. Joe angles to make his young shortstop even better by subjecting him to the wrath of grapes.
- Luis Medina (Bleacher Nation): Addison Russell’s offensive evolution continues on the road. Russell is already 3.3 WAR player.
- Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): No doubt, Addison Russell is becoming a star for the Cubs. “Just watch me over the course of a year,” Russell said.
- Ryan Davis (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Russell leaving ‘em fuzzy. Eventually his reverse splits will reverse.
- Larry Scott (Today’s Knuckleball): Jason Heyward shows signs of life post-benching. “Maybe all he needed was a little time on the bench to find his happy place...”
- Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Heyward resets after mental break and responds to playoff talk. Six weeks is a long time. Good things can happen.
- Phil Rogers (MLB.com): Heyward’s defense has made Cubs even stronger. “...don't label it a disappointment before it's over.”
- Bruce Miles (Daily Herald [$}): Heyward’s first season with the Cubs reminds of Soriano. Tough start to Cubs career.
- Michel Cerami (Bleacher Nation): When three homers can mean so much more: Russell, Heyward, Bryant. Analysis of upward trends.
- Manny Randhawa (Sports on Earth): When in doubt, the Cubs channel Ben Zobrist. "It's almost like he swings at every strike that he wants to, and takes every ball that he wants to," said Kris Bryant.
- Matt Pettit (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Dexter Fowler keeps rolling along. “the Cubs have employed one of the best centerfielders in the league at the top of their lineup.”
- Mark Brown (Camden Chat): Revisiting the Fowler reversal and its impact on the Orioles. The Orioles would be better with Fowler than without him.
- Jesse Rogers: (ESPN*): Summer of David Ross takes a detour to Sea World. He had a whale of a time. It was almost more than he could bear.
- Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Willson Contreras doesn’t need training wheels after all. “...he’s no longer just the future, he’s also the present. And...he’s going to be the gift that keeps on giving.”
- Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Jake Arrieta stakes his claim for Cy Young. Arrieta is at the head of the pack.
- Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Cubs conserving Jake Arrieta for October and see another Cy Young push coming. Could happen. Pitch well, stay healthy.
- Tyler Smith (Cubs Insider): Kyle Hendricks should be Cubs’ game 2 starter. Jon Lester on the road for game 3 sounds like a plan.
- Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): John Lackey expects to return from DL soon after eligible. "I don't think it will take him a long time to get back," Maddon said.
- Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Rob Zastryzny to get looks as setup for Aroldis Chapman. “Maddon has been testing different pitchers in that role since Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon went on the disabled list.”
- Tim Huwe (the Zygote 50): Manufacturing a bullpen. That’s Fronk-N-Steen.
- Tommy Birch (Des Moines Register): Chris Coghlan on Chicago Cubs: 'We're the best team in baseball'. Whenever he goes back up, Coghlan said he hopes to be a part of a postseason celebration that players have only imagined.
- Todd Johnson (Cub Insider): Three of Cub’s top pitching prospects put on show on same night. Dylan Cease, Oscar de la Cruz and Trevor Clifton all threw exceptionally well simultaneously.
- Dan McCarthy (ESPN): 80 not just a win total but also a notable number in Cubs' history. The best kind of ‘80s nostalgia’.
- Neil (Chicago Cubs Online): Looking at Cubs’ possible September call-ups. Building on Jesse Rogers article and Mark Gonzales piece.
- Richard Kagan (Cubbies Crib): Glenn Beckert was solid at second base on Cubs contenders. A Top 100 Cubs’ Player, for sure.
- Lee Singer, Jacob Nitzberg (ESPN): Great players on bad teams. #14 gets a nod.
Food for thought:
- Benjamin Wallace (NY Magazine): An MIT Scientist claims that this pill is the fountain of youth. Not everyone swallows those claims.
- William Harwood (CBS News): NASA astronaut sets new space endurance record. Jeff Williams has logged 521 consecutive days in space.
- James Dator (SB Nation): Minor-League baseball game canceled due to poop geyser. Irregularities occurred on the field of play.
Thanks for reading. See you Sunday.