Ray Renfield is still stuck in London attending to grave matters and so I will once again conduct the interview. That has nothing to do with the sudden taste I developed for Belgian whisky, I promise you.
The simCubs are in first place in the National League, 35-16, heading into a set with the 28-23 Milwaukee Brewers, who are in second place, seven games behind. They dropped two out of three to the Pirates and didn’t look particularly good doing it, and Brandon is not happy.
I interviewed him on the plane.
BP — Well, that was embarrassing. The Pirates totally pantsed us, and there’s no two ways about it. Steven Brault pitched like he wants to hang onto his new spot, didn’t he? I mean, Yu wasn’t bad, but we must have sent the bats to Milwaukee ahead of time.
It’s trying times like this that drive a man to drink.
CT — Please, tell us how you really feel.
BP — Heh, they are who we thought they were ... only we weren’t who we thought we were. Thank you, Dennis Green. Here, have a glass.
CT — Much obliged. So what caused the meltdown? Have you pinpointed the issues yet?
BP — Not yet. The players are all busy back there looking each other in the eye and the fines have yet to be levied. The coaching staff are all looking at video. Hell, I’m looking at video. The lack of offense two out of three games is a big deal. Guys were swinging at balls and watching strikes fly by. And the TOOTBLANS. I hate to put the brakes on Willy but seriously, he has to exercise better judgement. That ball has to get just a little deeper before he takes the really big turn and keeps on going.
CT — That’s gonna cost you.
BP — Yeah, I know. Can’t call out players by name, $50 fine. I donate my fines to the Rizzo Foundation. That way I don’t mind.
CT — We heard that Q took the gopher balls with him to Tampa.
BP — I understand that he was presented with a gift. A player I shall not name, except to call him Jon Lester, has a box of them in his trunk.
CT — So what’s boiling on the hot stove? Any player personnel moves we should know about?
BP — Well, I tell you. The Iowa Cubs have a better record than we do, and it’s largely due to that starting staff down there. 32-9, they are. Max Fried is 2-0 since he was sent down. Jharel Cotton is 5-1. Adbert Alzolay is 6-0. Jesus Luzardo was 3-0. Miguel Rincon is 6-0. The bullpen is full of guys we just couldn’t fit up here, like Brandon Morrow and Luis Avilan and Jeremy Jeffress and Tyler Olson. The offense is not really spectacular, except for Josh Phegley, and the phone rings about him all the time. Nico was doing real well, but I think we might just keep him here. He sure doesn’t look overmatched. He looks good up the middle infield or outfield and that bat plays.
CT — What about Ian Miller? He doesn’t play much, and doesn’t seem to play well when he does...
BP — Well, Ian is struggling to make contact. He’s been having good at-bats but not the best results at this point. Ian knows he has to produce to stay with the big club, but he is also aware that Albert Almora Jr. and Steven Souza Jr. aren’t exactly tearing the cover off the ball. The phones ring about those two guys too. Neither one makes a hell of a lot and teams in contention seem to like veterans. Albert in particular hasn’t really found his niche. Steven knows that he’s a backup in Chicago — you’re not gonna beat Heyward out of a job, or Schwarber, not with what he brings. And his legs really aren’t up to center field on a regular basis. Ian Happ has pretty much taken that position, anyway.
We’ll get through this. See you next week.