#Cubs and Arrieta face Dodgers

Jake Arrieta takes the mound Tuesday night for the Cubs vs. the Dodgers at Wrigley Field. It’s Arrieta’s first start against L.A. since he no-hit the Dodgers last Aug. 30. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Heyward RF

Bryant 3B

Rizzo 1B

Zobrist 2B

Soler LF

Russell SS

Montero C

Arrieta P

Ben Zobrist has a .418 batting average (41-for-98) in May, with six homers and 25 RBI. Elias reports that he is the first player to produce at least 40 hits and 25 or more RBI for the Cubs in a calendar month since Alfonso Soriano did so in May 2008 (.345, 40-for-116, 10 HR, 29 RBI).

Arrieta has started 23 games, and the Cubs have won all 23. Arrieta is 20-0, 1.05 ERA in 162.1 innings during that stretch.

The Cubs have outscored their opponents 40-16 in their last six games, all victories.

Roster move: The Brewers claimed right-handed reliever Neil Ramirez off waivers. Ramirez was designated for assignment on May 21.


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Let’s keep this current streak going. Caught a break too 4 game series with the Dodgers and no Kershaw.

Having just watched Montero commit two errors, and watched him repeatedly not be able to block balls in the dirt, and base stealers run wild on him so far this season, I am more than ready to see Contreras take over as the starter with Ross as his backup. I’m sure the Cubs could get a struggling reliever for Montero.

Aloha Mat B, yes it is a little hard to watch, I think his first one was a mental mistake because he was already thinking throw before he had it in hand. Ross says he is retiring after this season but maybe he can be persuaded? I wonder what happens when Schwarber gets back next year? Contreras is probably the better of the two defensively, though I do believe Kyle can get better. Not bad having 2/3 backstops on the roster that can also play other positions! Take care now! Mahalo!

When your team gets one piddling knock in a given game, it`s not realistic to expect that club to win. Jake more than deserved getting his tenth win tonight, something no other major league pitcher has achieved thus far in the 2016 season, but it was not in the cards. The Dodgers` starter had a road ERA in the stratosphere entering this game, and our starter`s was infinitesimal by comparison. It`s impossible to figure out this game of baseball, and tonight`s contest reinforces that observation. As Bart Giamatti famously said in that elevator after his beloved Red Sox blew the 1986 World Series to the Mets, (the Bill Buckner WS), “Baseball was designed to break your heart.”

Aloha jhosk, so true about the breaking one’s heart at times. I am sure Maddon is working on this aspect with his players. This for the most part, they have beaten the good/very good teams except for the series against the Giants. They have lost series to the Rockies, Brewers, Padres and might have against the Braves. I am not saying they let down against weaker teams or pitchers but right now their play is not as strong in those situations. Kazmir has given up 12hrs already but 1-hits this team at home? I also think Richards days are numbered. Hate to say that but if Joe Nathan is successful with his rehab I could see the FO releasing Richards to bring on Joe. The bp has been very good overall. Well let’s hope they rebound tomorrow and give Lester some offense because right now, the Dodgers have done a very good job keeping Cubs hitters at bay. Take care now. Mahalo!

I hear you, k.g. Did you see that “USA Today” ranks our Cubs as as No.1 and the Giants as No.2 in their power rankings? The Cubs have been No.1 most, if not all, of this season. Peavy has rebounded from his terrible starts, and has impressed in his past two, and Harvey has done so as well in his one recent effort. I mention this because it means something similar can occur with our relief pitchers who have struggled recently. Or not. Baseball is very unpredictable, and we can`t be surprised by anything which transpires. I cite Bryce Harper, a player many regard as the very best in the game. If one looks at his achievements in the past month, they are very pedestrian.

Aloha jhosk- Yes, the Giants got off to a slow start but are one of the hottest teams right now! I think they have won 15 out of their last 19 games! Their pitching has really come around. When they go out to Wrigley in September, that will be a great test for the Cubs if the Giants are still in contention. Their pitching shut down the Cubs offense here is SF except for that first game against Peavy and the team did not even see Shark or Cueto. At this moment the Giants match up very well against the Cubs. I will say this, the Giants do not have the depth as do the Cubs. They cannot suffer too many injuries, so that is the stress that is on that organization. Whereas Maddon and company have players that can fill-in at various positions (both in the majors and down in Iowa) and do it well! Take care now. Mahalo!

Aloha jhosk- well, after replying to your reply I then heard that Pence went down, re-injuring his hamstring. He has been an integral part of the Giants offense with 35+ rbi’s and of course his defense in the outfield. He has already sat out 6 games and is now going on the DL. The same for Pagan. When healthy, along with Span the Giants have one of the best outfield trios next to the Pirates. So they are being tested. Thank goodness the Cubs have depth in the organization! Take care now. Mahalo!

Aloha everyone. The Cubs front office is fond of stating that minor league players will let you know when they’re ready. Does anybody else hear the catcher in Iowa shouting? Two more home runs last night. Bring him up and pair him with Kyle Hendricks to start with. Is there anyone better to learn from? Then start phasing him in with the rest of the starting staff. Federowics will be lost, but I don’t think that’s going to hurt. Start grooming Montero to fill the Federowics roll and then next year a full-time roll as the backup catcher.

Whoops, I must have read something wrong. No two home runs last night, but I still stand by my suggestion.

Lefties hitting .435 against Richard.
Its time for Richard to depart, he is no LH Specialist.

Aloha jasper- Wow, did not know that. I was looking up both Ramirez and Richard. One thing that is difficult is when you have a good starting lineup pitching late into games, it does not give the bp a lot of opportunities. Having said that, Ramirez in 8 games, 7.2innings had struck out 10 but also walked 8. Richard in 16 games, 9.0innings has struck out 5 and walked 3. Granted they want him to get ground ball outs and he has not given up a hr. I hear Doug when he says this is a very good team. He is right. I also understand that bringing Contreras up might not be in the FO’s plans because as I have learned from many of you here, it is about “control,” how long you can keep a player without paying out the big bucks (eg: Bryant brought up in the middle of April last year). I am also sure there is a concern right now about Montero and his back. A lot of what-ifs. Do you wait to make moves to see if Richard can iron things out or jump at an opportunity if it should present itself as it would allow the “new” pitcher more time to settle in and get used to the organization? Take Joe Nathan, not sure how his situation will work out. He is a righty but if they deem him to be good to go, who is released? With Montero’s back issues I am sure they do not want to release Fed anytime soon as Ross needs days off. The organization is blessed right now to have a lot of depth at one of the 8 positions as we have seen. The bullpen as the season wears on will become more important. An interesting quandary for FO and management. Before we know it, the end of July will be here! Let’s hope the team can provide some offense tonight! Mahalo!

The Cubs are 20 games over .500 on June 1 and people are calling for the Cubs to dump two different players off of their team! Yes, Montero has struggled at times this season and yes, Richard hasn’t looked as good in relief this year as he did last year, but the Cubs do have the luxury of depth in 2016. Rather than knee-jerk reactions and panic moves, they can allow their struggling players time to figure it out before they finally pull the plug and find the next man up. At the very least, they can bide time until it’s closer to the trade deadline and figure out what holes need to be filled. Contreras is looking good at AAA, but the Cubs aren’t panicking to bring him up in some attempt to light a fire under the rest of the team. Richard has had a rough season so far, but he’s not the main guy they’re depending on out of the bullpen and they can easily find a lefty reliever at the deadline if he can’t get it together in June. Everyone just chill for a second and remember what Joe Maddon said in spring training: “We are good.” Show me a good team with zero flaws and I’ll show you the ’27 Yankees. The ’16 Cubs are not the ’27 Yankees, but they are still pretty darn good!

I don’t see a problem with Montero!!
Richard if you watched his performance last night, was terrible facing three LH Hitters. That being said, should this be 2013 or 2016, the season is about 1/3 over and Richard has sucked.
It takes 25 guys to win, the Cubs 25th should be a LH specialist who can actually get out LH hitters.

Aloha jasper, I hear you. I need to go back and watch that inning in which Richard pitched, I missed most of it. I have to say it was a bold move to release Ramirez, thus I could see the FO doing the same with Richard if he does not turn things around soon. I am sure part of the reason they have held onto him is that he is a lefty. I do hope Montero the best, I know he has been a very good clubhouse presence. Take care now. Mahalo!

Montero is playing injured in my opinion. So do you put Montero on the DL and play Federowicz? Bring up Contreras early? Let Ross Catch 75% of games at his age and risk him getting injured? Or let Montero play through his back problems?
On Richard, my opinion he would have been gone. I would not have let Ramirez go, especially with three Roster spots open on the 40 man & Richard taking another.

Aloha jasper- It sure seems like Montero is playing “gingerly.” Like you said, do you risk bringing up Contreras now? Fed is not bad defensively but not too much at the plate. I would say this, if Contreras could be brought up for a short while to give Montero more time to heal, would that affect his “controllability?” I am sure Carrie/Doug/Petrey might chime in for this. I assume once he is brought up the clock is ticking but I could be wrong on that. If Wilson did come up and Montero on a the DL for bit, the good thing is that Contreras would get to work with Ross. Maybe in that relationship you could work it out say 60/40 with Ross since Contreras is younger and if the pitchers are comfortably with him receiving. Of course this is all speculation. In regard to Richard, I know I have been one here to advocate not to look at ones age solely, gosh look at Bartolo C in NY! But having said that, I think Ramirez is about 27yrs old and Richard 32/33yrs. So I was caught in regard off in regard Ramirez but I am sure the FO saw or caught something we did not know about. Still, a bp that is well-rested, last night was exactly the type of situation a manager like Maddon says “arigatou” to Arrieta and goes to his relievers. Tonight because Lester was so much in control, Maddon let him go the whole way. That tells you something too. Tomorrow is another big game: I hope the offense can wake up and support Hendricks! Take care now. Mahalo!

Aloha jasper and everyone, sorry for all my grammar mistakes, I was trying to say would the current pitchers be comfortable with Contreras receiving behind the plate say 40% of the time and Ross 60%. And that I was a little caught off guard in regard to Ramirez being let go but I am sure the FO and management knows something the rest of us do not. Great gritty win tonight, kudo to Lester! Mahalo!

Someone above was calling on the Cubs to call up Contreras, which would mean either Montero is demoted or booted from the team. As for Richard, the Cubs are 21 games over .500, so it’s not like Richard is keeping them from being great. It’s June 1, so there’s plenty of time to get the bullpen up to 100% and you don’t need some panicked reaction to a minor problem that hasn’t really hurt them overall. Besides, on June 1, what would you do? The way I see it, the Cubs have three options:
1) DFA Richard and call up someone from the minors. The problem with that is the Cubs don’t really have a lefty at AAA who is ready to face Major League hitting right now. So unless Zac Rosscup is about ready to pitch again, you have no help coming from within the organization. And for the record, Rosscup doesn’t seem like he’s close to being ready and his Major League record is spotty at best, so even he wouldn’t be a definite improvement over Richard.
2) DFA Richard and call up a righty. Sure, guys like Jean Machi, Felix Pena, Armando Rivero, Carl Edwards Jr., and Spencer Patton could be ready to face Major League pitching, but then you’d be down to just one lefty in the bullpen, which would hurt your bullpen flexibility. Maybe that’s a risk you are willing to take, but we all know that Joe Maddon loves flexibility and who knows if he’d be comfortable with just Travis Wood from the left side in late innings.
3) Allow Richard the chance to work with Chris Bosio in hopes that they figure out what he’s doing wrong. Either he figures it out and they are all set, or he doesn’t and then you put lefty reliever on your wish list at the trade deadline.
Those are the choices, but I guarantee you that having Clayton Richard on the team on June 1 is not going to cost the Cubs the World Series. So as I said above, everyone just chill for a second and remember what Joe Maddon said in spring training: “We are good.”

Problem with Richard is just lack of work. And Contreras needs the experience before he’s called up

A few other things too. First off, don’t think the Cubs got rid of Ramirez because they think he stinks and they were done with him. He was out of minor league options, so they designated him for assignment, which puts him on waivers and if he clears waivers, then he’s off the 40-man and the Cubs can assign him to the minor leagues, which he can either accept or decline and become a free agent. It gives the Cubs a chance to keep him in the organization, as opposed to releasing him, which would make him a free agent immediately. And the whole reason why he was DFAed was because Matt Szczur, everyone’s favorite 4th outfielder, was ready to come off the DL and with Heyward’s injury in San Francisco, they absolutely needed another OF on the roster. More so than they needed a struggling reliever who was pitching every four or five games. And they also decided that with a struggling and banged up Montero and a 39-year old Ross, they probably needed a third catcher more than a struggling reliever who was pitching every four or five games, so Ramirez was the odd man out and while I’m sure they would have loved to keep him around, their hand was forced and they lost him to the Brewers’ waiver claim. And they didn’t want to get rid of Richard, as I stated above, because they didn’t want to go down to one lefty in the bullpen and they had no other lefty relief options available and still don’t to this day.
As for Contreras and his roster status, the number of years he’s under team control is not an issue right now. Remember last year with Bryant, the Cubs waited 10 days to call him up because the cutoff for what’s considered a full year of MLB service time is 10 days into the season. Waiting just that long gave the Cubs an extra year of control for Bryant, making him a free agent after the 2021 season instead of 2020 if he was called up before the 10th day of the season. So if Contreras is called up now, he would be a free agent after the 2022 season, and that was true from the 10th day of this season on. What’s still up in the air as far as Contreras is concerned is when he would become eligible for arbitration. Most players get three full years of service time as pre-arbitration where their salaries are more or less predetermined (generally in the 500k to 600k range). After those three full years of service time, they become arbitration eligible for three seasons, meaning their salary is determined on a year-to-year basis by either agreeing to a 1-year contract or exchanging figures with the team and potentially going before an arbitration panel to decide what their salary should be. However, players who have logged in the top 10% (I think) of service time amongst those with more than 2 but less than 3 years of MLB service time get what’s called Super 2 status. Players who have Super 2 status get to enter arbitration a year earlier than the rest, giving them four years of arbitration instead of the usual three. Right now on the Cubs, Justin Grimm has Super 2 status and is making over twice as much now as he would if he were still pre-arb, and still has three years of arbitration eligibility remaining. Both Kris Bryant and Addison Russell are pre-arb now, but they are pretty much guaranteed Super 2 status and will have four years of arbitration eligibility, both starting after the 2017 season. The Super 2 status cutoff date varies from year to year, as it depends on what other teams do with their minor league callups. But generally, the Super 2 cutoff has fallen sometime in June, so if called up now, there’s a chance Contreras gets Super 2 status and becomes arbitration eligible after the 2018 season. I’m not saying that’s why the Cubs aren’t calling him up, or that they should or should not based on him getting Super 2 status, but that’s how all that works!

Aloha Doug- thank you for the confirmation and explanation about the MLB service time. So if the FO called up Contreras then they have control over his “contract” through 2022. Though as you say, if he becomes a Super 2 in status, he can be arbitration eligible a year earlier, that makes sense. I agree up until now that Richard has not hurt the team in a significant way. But if given relief chances and he continues to follow the same path without positive adjustments, then I see a move coming regardless of him being left-handed. What probably saved him from the DFA instead of Ramirez as you said was being a lefty at the time that Szczur needed to come back in the wake of Heyward’s crash/fall to the left of me at AT&T park. Jasper does bring up a good point in that at least today the organization has 37 folks on the 40-man roster because Nathan, Rosscup, Schwarber and Villanueva are all on the DL and not part of the roster. So, there are spots available. Hard to say if the FO had DFA’d Richard, that he would not have been picked up too. I am hoping that the Dodgers’ Urias does not find his way just yet and that Hendricks can hold the fort down. This series has seen some very good pitching, hoping for the Cubs offense to awaken. Mahalo!

jhosk, Doug and Carrie, there is a reason for Richards lack of work. Look how many games into the season, before Maddon even took a chance on using him.
The guy is not, is not effective.
They could have kept Ramirez on the Roster and received better results.
Bottom line is: Richard is not a LH Specialist. LH hitters are hitting .435 against him.
If Richard was doing his job, Rumors would not be flying around about Miller or Abad.

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