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Cub Tracks misses the ground

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Pitch-framing, trade-talk, magic numbers, and other bullets

San Francisco Giants v Chicago Cubs
Who else?
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Cubs Win!

Previously on this channel: Cub Tracks laid an egg, talked about things we like to call the Cubs’ schneidly whiplash, Kris Bryant said “...we’re pretty average”, we learned that John Andreoli is no Dan Vogelbach, and discussed other topics of the moment, brought to you by the singular magic of the infinite probability generator and the happy faces of hoopy froods everywhere.

It’s a fine Saturday in the desert. The cacti are blooming, the mourning doves are cooing, and the warm smell of carnitas rises up through the air...I just flew in from a planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, and boy, are my arms tired.

breaks into song

#117 is the most magical number that you’ll ever know

116 would be less than 117

It’s the most magical number since 118, yeah...

offscreen voice

“Wait, what? Carnitas? That isn’t how the song goes, and anyway that’s the wrong song...but perhaps that’s just the way the story goes.”

offscreen voice

“Why don’t you take the rest of your life off dead? At least for tax reasons?”

adjusts settings on generator

Wow. You’re a tough crowd. Let’s just zap on through the rest of the Vogon poetry, then, and skip right to the preliminaries.

Yesterday it went to 42 (did you forget your towel?), and a game was actually played before the bulldozers...

“um, let’s skip that part. It’s all been rebuilt anyway. Have a pint instead. There are stats and feelies and quotes and all of that,” said young Zaphod, playing it safe.

Let’s see what else is in the news, besides pitch-framing, which I maintain is an overexposed and under-baked issue — as always * means autoplay on, or annoying ads, or both (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Cubs news and notes:

There’s no doubt that Contreras, with his bat and arm, is still an incredibly valuable catcher. And there’s also no doubt that framing/receiving wild, high-velocity, serious-movement pitchers like Tyler Chatwood and Yu Darvish (who come in for mentions) is much more difficult than framing Jon Lester or Kyle Hendricks or Jose Quintana. But the reality is, this remains something that impacts the pitchers, and impacts the the Cubs’ performance overall. Keep working on it. — Brett Taylor.

  • Steve Rosenbloom (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Go away ESPN. Leave the Cubs alone. “But no. You’re here, ESPN, and you’re annoying.”
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): State of the Cubs: Theo Epstein on the trade rumors, frustrations and optimism surrounding this team. “The constant focus outside the organization doesn’t do us any good, especially when it’s not based in reality right now.”
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Cubs Trade Rumors: Front Office Execs laughed at ‘Massive Overpay’ of Addison Russell, Mike Montgomery, Adbert Alzolay for Manny Machado. “...we’ve still got a long journey ahead of us before this thing reaches a conclusion.”
  • Matt Martell, Carrie Muskat (*): Theo Epstein spikes rumors: ‘Essentially zero trade talks’. “There’s a real disparity between the noise and reality,” he said.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune {$}):Scientific study diminishing effect of launch angles suits Cubs’ Joe Maddon. “It’s one of those things that sounds good, but doesn’t help you,” said Maddon.
  • Tony Andracki (NBC Sports Chicago*): The Cubs are ahead of the game in MLB’s brand new world. “When a hitter’s in the box, when you’re trying to stare down 96 or a slider on the edge, the last thing you’re thinking about is launch angle,” said Maddon.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Is tanking trend to blame for the Cubs’ stomach-churning, roller-coaster start? “I think there’s more good teams in the league than teams that are rebuilding right now,” Jon Lester said.
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Cubs’ offense might not need a splashy fix as badly as you think. “Overall, I kind of like what I’m seeing on the offensive side,” Maddon said Wednesday. “I think a lot of guys are actually doing well right now.”
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Lester’s latest start inspires more confidence in the rest of his season. “...after notching 12 strikeouts against just 2 walks in his past two outings, Lester’s strikeout rate is back above 20% and his walk rate below 10%.”
  • Carrie Muskat (*): Wily Hendricks stifles SF as Cubs break out late. “Kyle Hendricks didn’t throw any pitches over 90 mph on Friday.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune {$}): Maddon no fan of analytics that say Willson Contreras is poor at pitch-framing. “It’s almost like zone rating on defense,” Maddon said.
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): How to frame the issues for Contreras and the Cubs. “I hear about that stuff,” Maddon said. “Honestly, this might disappoint, but I don’t really look at that a whole lot because I’m not a big overall fan of that as being like the difference between a good and a bad catcher.”
  • Matt Martell (*): Ben Zobrist delivers long-awaited XBH with RISP. “Despite strong power numbers, Cubs had struggled to get big hits with runners on.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune {$}): Zobrist looking for clarity on cleats rule on Cubs trip to New York. “It’s not resolved completely yet, but in the meantime, we have a little bit of freedom until we have something in place,” he said.
  • Sam Fels (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Let’s check back in on Addison Russell. “...when Russell pulls the ball, he absolutely murders it.”
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Kyle Schwarber’s defensive improvements: Big arm, fewer mistakes. “I’m just trying to make smart decisions and get the ball to where it needs to be,” he said.
  • Adam Berry (*): This Cubs prospect could be close to callup. Alzolay narrowly missed one chance already.
  • Tommy Birch (Des Moines Register {$}): What has motivated Cubs pitcher Duane Underwood Jr. in his first Triple-A season? He’s not telling. “A chip — it’s my own personal reasoning,” Underwood said.”
  • Carrie Muskat (*): Santo family gets first look at 2016 WS ring. “The Santos had missed the ring ceremony in April 2017...”

Food for thought:

Thanks for reading.