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Joe Maddon left a note in the Cubs clubhouse Sunday night that players are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes on their flight to Cleveland for the final game/s of the World Series.
We have some ideas.
Aroldis Chapman: Well, he's already going as Andrew Miller, so . . .
John Lackey: Jason Hammel.
Jason Heyward: The post-season Jason Heyward of the Cardinals, because the rest of his playoff record is junk.
Chris Coghlan: Matt Szczur.
Javy Baez: The Javy Baez of the Dodgers series.
Miguel Montero: A ghost, so Maddon can't find him on the bench when it comes time for a pinch hitter.
Kyle Schwarber: Reggie Jackson.
Joe Maddon: Terry Francona.
The Week in Review: The Cubs lost three of five to Cleveland in the World Series! It hasn't been pretty - not even the wins. In fact, it's been as ugly as it's ever been this season - maybe even last!
The Week in Preview: The final week of the 2016 season ends with one game, maybe two, in Cleveland. Plan your lives accordingly.
Musical Outfielders: And no, we aren't talking about Matt Szczur playing the French horn. In fact, Szczur isn't even on the roster for this series, giving way to
the relatively surging Albert Almora (Jr.).
Jason Heyward is heating up!
No, not really.
But we'll get to him.
First, Ben Zobrist started all five games in left - which is not the way Maddon managed during the regular season. The way Maddon got Javy Baez into each game was to play him at second or third, depending on where the analytics said the most balls would be hit. If that meant third, Zobrist stayed at second and Kris Bryant moved to left field. That MO has been abandoned. While Zobrist almost certainly gives you better defense in left than Bryant, there is no question that Baez gives you better defense at third (paging Bryant's two errors in one inning!).
Maddon has also abandoned getting Willson Contreras's bat into the game by playing him in left. I'm not saying it's wrong to preference defense in the playoffs, I'm just noting that it's happened.
Now, to right field. Heyward has started the last two games and gone 3-for-8 with two stolen bases and one terrific catch. He's also pinch-run twice and gone into the field afterwards.
Jorge Soler got two starts in right, while Chris Coghlan got one start in right, plus one pinch-hit appearance and one pinch-run appearance. Finally, Almora got one pinch-hit appearance and one appearance in the field as a defensive replacement.
Oh, and Aroldis Chapman also played three innings in right.
Or did he? Not sure if that happened or it was just my fevered dream.
Annoying Former Cub of the Week: Dusty Baker.
Annoying Current Cub of the Week: Maddon. He's maddening.
Runner-up: John Lackey.
("Talk about all hat and no cattle." - Jason Goff, Monday morning on The Score)
Mad(don) Scientist: The general consensus seems to be that Terry Francona is outmanaging Poppa Joe, but what's funny is that the general consensus is at odds with itself over what Joe is doing wrong. Is the problem that he's managing as if it's still the regular season? "Maddon was being outmanaged (before Game 5) because he was acting like there wasn't any urgency to this," Jeff Passan told The Score on Monday morning. Regarding Chapman's unusual outing, Passan said, "It's about time . . . it's not like he has a long-term contract." Right. He won't be the Cubs' worry four days from now, so who cares if you ruin his arm?
The other side of the argument is that Maddon is getting outmanaged because he's not managing the way he did during the regular season - he's violating his own rule about not doing anything differently during the playoffs than what got you there and what your players are comfortable with.
I'm more in line with the second side of the argument, though in part Maddon is managing the way he is because he's dragging a degraded team across the finish line. There are few arms left to trust in the bullpen, and few bats to trust on the bench. There are even, really, few gloves to trust in the outfield right now. And, as I've discussed on this site several times in the last week, the presence of Kyle Schwarber on the Series roster is a high-risk, high-reward gambit that so far hasn't really paid off the way folks thought a week ago.
Maybe going back to AL-rules will reign Maddon in a bit in Game 6 (and Game 7, if necessary), but I doubt it. Every at-bat now must be contested at its height of optimization. I'm just not sure if the Cubs have the horses right now to do so.
Kubs Kalendar: Pitchers and catchers report in four months.
Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that not winning it all will indeed be an epic fail for this team no matter what anyone tells you.
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