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Hungry Nick and the dinosaurs. Plus: Steve Albini, Master Of Sparks; How Yu Darvish, Jose Quintana and Lucas Giolito Turned It Around; Chili Stew; This Would Be The Perfect Ending To The Bears' Kicking Circus And Give The City A New Hero To Replace Alligator Robb; and more!
"Baseball is chess but you shout instructions to the pieces."
* New Yorker: The Survival Of Iggy Pop.
Coffman: "His torso looks like an old Chicago alley . . . "
7:00: Bipolar Cubs Now In Manic Phase.
* Coffman: Nats Envy.
* Jon Lester, Escape Artist.
* Inside Javy's Brain.
* Disrespecting 90.
* Gonzales, Tribune: Four Takeaways From The Cubs' Road Sweep Of The Mets.
* Willson of the Week: Contreras got thrown out of a game he wasn't even rostered for.
* Morrissey, Sun-Times: That 'Season-Defining Win' The Cubs' Anthony Rizzo Hyped So Hard To Teammates - Anybody Seen It?
* Catching conundrum:
Victor Caratini, 2019: 201 PA, 1.5 WARP— Matthew Trueblood (@MATrueblood) August 30, 2019
Wilson Contreras, 2018-19: 884 PA, 1.8 WARP#Cubs
* Wittenmyer, Sun-Times: First Responders? Cubs Hope To Get Help For Lagging Leadoff Spot From Ben Zobrist, Albert Almora.
* Rhodes: Maybe their awful night road game record is because almost all road games are at night! Or maybe we can blame the Cubs getting too used to day games at home, because somebody has to always blame day games at home for something other than their awesomeness.
* Jaffe, FanGraphs: Cubs Road Woes Threaten Their Playoff Perch.
* Bastian, MLB.com: How Did Quintana Turn It Around?
* Rogers, ESPN Chicago: How Yu Darvish Finally Found The Strike Zone And Turned His Season Around.
* More on pitch selection:
Today @baseballpro, how Aroldis Chapman has had his best and healthiest season as a Yankee, despite a continuing velocity decline: more sliders, and more strikes, thanks to a change in approach with the fastball. Also, the usual caveats. https://t.co/0C8IEocmkD pic.twitter.com/PwxncldwYh— Matthew Trueblood (@MATrueblood) August 30, 2019
* Bastian: Darvish Adds Knuckle-Curve To Diverse Repertoire.
Folks: 🗣 #BlockNightengale, fer crissakes. You don't have to let his dumb ass steer your Monday morning baseball conversations.— Matthew Trueblood (@MATrueblood) August 19, 2019
* Chili Stew:
Rhodes: It would be nice if someone could square all the contradictory circles here and hold the right people accountable. Sometimes it seems like Theo lets the inmates run the asylum, like the old Cubs days, and that combined with Maddon's softening on, say, respecting 90 leads one to have a greater understanding of the team's beer-and-chicken 2018 and this season's lack of urgency, Theo notwithstanding. And then there's Nick Castellanos showing up with hunger otherwise absent in the clubhouse. Methinks this organization's culture has gone astray.
-> "I was too outspoken," Chili Davis said. "I say whatever comes to mind and sometimes it might come off to some people as being challenging. I like to be challenged and I challenge these guys here. I ask questions and I make statements.
"I tell Peter Alonso,''Man, what's with the new leg kick? It looks like you got your ass up in the air and you're trying to create more power. You don't need to create power. You were born with it. How about we keep our leg down a little closer to the ground? And when we need to touch down and fire, we fire.' Boom! He makes the adjustments."
-> "Those experiences led the Cubs to fire John Mallee - the hitting coach for the 2016 World Series team - and hire Davis in October 2017. Davis was supposed to bring instant credibility as a three-time All-Star with 350 career home runs. The Cubs were supposed to de-emphasize launch angle, focus on situational hitting and minimize the boom-and-bust periods with their offense."
-> "Epstein has consistently praised Davis as a great teacher and blamed the friction on certain players who weren't ready to hear a new message and adapt their approach."
-> "That feeling is mutual with first-year Mets management team, which got the old-school hitting coach it wanted to get away from launch angles and back to an all-fields, shift-busting, situational-hitting, approach-based method that has helped a flawed Mets roster return to playoff contention in a hot second half this season."
If Theo thought launch angle wasn't a fad, why would he hire Davis in the first place? I don't think Davis believes that, I think he was merely trying to teach Cubs hitters that pitchers were adjusting to launch angle with four-seam fastballs high in the zone - the ones only Castellanos seems capable of hitting - and they had to make adjustments back. Kris Bryant and Contreras, for two, were unwilling to do that. Almost certainly others.
Davis was also brought in to improve the team's situational hitting, which obviously includes the clutch hitting that has been a persistent problem with this team since 2015 (and particularly with Bryant). Theo and Jed Hoyer have continued to speak about this being a problem this season.
I'm agnostic on Chili Davis, but it feels to me like we still don't have a full accounting of what went down - and that the organization itself clearly has a problem with its high-turnover coaching staff.
* Cameo: Noahbattacola by proxy.
56:49: This Would Be The Perfect Ending To The Bears' Kicking Circus And Give The City A New Hero To Replace Alligator Robb.
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