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Cub Tracks’ strange magic

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Trade talk, Lester’s regression, Javy Javy Javy, and other bullets

number nine, number nine...
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

The Cubs opened a weekend series against the San Diego Padres Friday night by pitting Tyler Chatwood’s oft-errant deliveries against one-time Cubs sensation the Clayton Richard Experience. The GLOAT was on point. So was Joe Maddon’s sense of humor.

Did I fail to mention Maddon’s sense of humor?

Heh. The man is a treasure.

So how did that all go, given the depth of Rizzo’s slump? It went well enough, with lead changes and plenty of defense (Rizzo got a single and a pair of doubles, one of which tied the game in the top of the ninth). Javy got on base late and the probability generator got all out of whack as it does when El Mago is around, and it didn’t go to eleven as the Cubs took first place. Al will have the details in his recap.

Also in the news: trade speculations, musing on Lester’s possible regression and illustrious past, Javy Javy Javy, and more. Read on to investigate — as always * means autoplay on, or annoying ads, or both (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Cubs News and Notes:

Hmm.

One player garnering some early interest, though, is Zack Wheeler.

The Yankees checked in on him Friday, as did scouts from eight other teams, including the Cubs, the Reds and Diamondbacks at his most recent start. — Kristie Ackert.

  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times {$}): Why the Cubs’ top trade-deadline acquisitions might already have been made. “The majority of our answers lie within, for sure,” says Theo Epstein.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Breaking down some potential trade targets. “...some of the names that have been associated with the Cubs to this point.”
  • Paul Sullivan (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs can’t expect Brewers to slip again — their success is no fluke. “Still, the onus will be on the Brewers to prove they can avoid a repeat of last summer.”
  • Steve Greenberg (Chicago Sun-Times {$}): A decade after breakout ’08, Cubs’ Jon Lester a different — and better — pitcher. “I can’t believe where I was at then and that I was able to succeed,” he said.
  • Sam Fels (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Lester regression I’m pulling your strings. “The Wallenda act Lester has been pulling all season is known to most by now with even a cursory knowledge of underlying numbers.”
  • Tony Andracki (NBC Sports Chicago*): Jose Quintana can’t wait to face Eloy Jimenez someday. “These guys are gonna be All-Stars,” Quintana said, of Jimenez and Dylan Cease. Rick Hahn tells the story of the trade.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Schwarber, Baez finalize Home Run Derby plans. “The biggest advice is just try to hit the ball over the fence and not out of the stadium, because that’s what you want to do,” Anthony Rizzo said.
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Cubs All-Star Baez is the most exciting player in baseball. “It’s really exciting,” Baez said with a big smile. “I love my fans. I try to focus my emotions because it’s a lot to handle.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Baez earns the same marquee billing as Kris Bryant. “...as the Cubs continue their pursuit of the Brewers, their fans can enjoy a well-balanced combination of ability and entertainment from their talented twosome.”
  • Jon Greenberg (The Athletic {$}): Dollars and sense: Who came up with Báez’ El Mago nickname? “Terrence Tomlin and Eugene McIntosh.”
  • Randy Holt (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): How worried should we be about Anthony Rizzo? “...I’ll simply focus on some of the trends that the stat sheet presents.”
  • Sahadev Sharma (The Athletic {$}): Why is Rizzo struggling? Shifts happen, but it’s more complicated. “...perhaps it is as simple as just avoiding those pitches in the zone that aren’t the ones he can drive and making sure he draws more walks.”
  • Mark Gonzales, Phil Thompson, Phil Rogers (Chicago Tribune* {$}): How and why Cubs and White Sox hitters choose bats. Good reads.
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): The education of Cubs pitching prospect Brendon Little. “Little needed this kind of foundation and structure.”
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Here’s why int’l prospect haul has Cubs pumped. “The Cubs have done well in the past in the international market...”
  • George Castle (Chicago Jewish News): VENDING PEOPLE: A new book by two Chicago Jews who were among many selling beer, red hots and frosty malts at the old ballpark. “The job was a “rite of passage” for many young men – and later a few women...”
  • Mary Craig (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Chicago’s poor and baseball at the turn of the century.

Food For Thought:

Thanks for reading.