#Cubs and Lester face Pirates

Jon Lester will start Saturday night at PNC Park as the Cubs play the Pirates in Game 2 of a three-game series. The Cubs have lost eight of their last nine games. The starting pitchers are 1-5 with 7.71 ERA (38 earned runs over 44 1/3 innings) in that stretch. Chicago is looking to avoid its first five-game losing streak since losing five in a row June 24-28, 2015.

Lester enters the game with a 2.67 ERA, the fourth lowest mark among left-handed pitchers in all of baseball and trailing only Clayton Kershaw (1.79 ERA), Madison Bumgarner (2.09) and Drew Pomeranz (2.47).

Here’s the lineup:

La Stella 2B

Bryant LF

Rizzo 1B

Zobrist RF

Contreras C

Heyward CF

Russell SS

Baez 3B

Lester P


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Nobody wants to comment? Okay, seeing as I have lots of post-surgery free time on my hands, I turned off the game after the grand slam. HBO’s movie of the week here in Brazil, on at the same time, was a moronic police farce with Reese Witherspoon and Sophia Vergara. Barely watchable, but less agonzing than the Cubs game. At least Len Kaspar got the chance to show off his excellent play-by-play skills for a national audience on Fox. Anyway, I’ll be back for the Sunday afternoon finale. Hang in there, fans.

Aloha Bruce, I thought I posted a comment here to yours. Well a friend said to me today, this is a meltdown. It is especially tough because now the starting pitching has gone south. The offense is trying today but Lackey seems to want to allow the Pirates to stay in the game. I also think the FO now needs to consider a strong defensive catcher/framer in a trade. You hang in there. Mahalo!

Aloha Bruce, a win! I think Maddon has to take some responsibility here. I could not believe that Lackey came out and started the 7th which could have been a disaster. Baez made a huge mistake and Contreras is still very “green” behind the plate. Kudos to both Edwards and Szczur when the team needed a huge lift.Madden needs to go back to Bryant-Russell-Zobrist-Rizzo on a consistent basis because not only is this their best starting four for defense but it also calms a pitcher down to know they have his back. There is a lot that needs to happen for this team to get to the post-season. I hope some of it includes strong trades for much needed relief help and a starter(s). Hope everyone gets some rest! Mahalo!

Yes, k.g., time for a breather. My internet was cutting in and out today — very rare, usually works fine — but I was able to follow the whole game. Sure, Baez should have gone straight for the double play, but he’ll learn. You can see his defensive skills are good. Now he’s got to stop swinging at that slider away, esepecially with men on base. I apologize for misspelling Len Kasper’s name. Hope to talk to everyone on Friday.

Aloha Bruce, yes to Baez having skills and yes to Baez stopping his free swinging and gaining patience! I also hope if the Yankees, A’s, Braves, Padres, Brewers brings up Baez name as a possible trade for on of their big players that the FO will at least entertain the idea as well with others. I think Baez could net them a big and much needed piece for the bp. Hope you are getting stronger each day. Mahalo!

Aloha Bruce and k.g. Did y`all hear about Eloy Jimenez`s performance at today`s Futures Game in San Diego? Stroked a three run dinger, drove in four runs, and made a remarkable grab of a fly down the right field line in the seventh. Keith Law called it the best defensive play in Futures Game history. He`s just 19, and one clever observer wondered aloud if Eloy alone could be enough to pry Miller away from the Yankees. {I think he said so “tongue-in-cheek,” but am not certain.} There is something I am certain of: Earl Weaver would have approved of the three run homer were he still with us.

Aloha jhosk- I wish I “caught” the game as the internet is abuzz about Eloy. I think the Cubs better hold off on him but maybe Baez/Warren back the Yanks for Miller? I think it is fair, they get Baez with controllable years and he can work well with Castro. We get Miller back with a couple of years after this one. I only throw Baez out there because the FO already said no to Schwarber and the sweepstakes are heating up for Miller. Also, when Maddon had his infield set with Bryant-Russell-Zobrist-Rizzo, the team was just fine before they brought up Baez. They have enough folks if they keep Coghlan and LaStella and Kawasaki stay healthy to man the infield when needed. It is time to take a leap and get that great pitching that is sorely needed. Take care now! Mahalo!

During that recent Cubs` game in which the commentators were Joe Buck and John Smoltz, the game which Laz Diaz umpired at home plate and was dreadful, it was said by one of those broadcasters that both Baez and Schwarber are regarded as “untouchables” by the FO. I was aware Schwarber occupied that elevated status, given the recent comments by Theo Epstein on the catcher/outfielder who has demonstrated a potent bat in his short career, but I found it eye-opening that Baez is in that same category.

Aloha jhosk, have heard that too in regard to Baez. I guess I feel, never say never. I am sure most would say Baez is not traded but if the Yankees would consider a trade for Miller, I hope the FO would listen. Sure, I wish the organization could hold onto all of its young talent but unfortunately that is unrealistic. If some of the young players can bring in much needed pitching, not rentals then you have to take the chance like the A’s did in 2014. I really hope soon that we are talking about that hold-save Miller just performed. I also think a Miller is very beneficial for a young pitcher like Edwardsnto be around. We will see. You take care now. Mahalo!

Yes, k.g., I hear you. That game I just referenced was July 2 versus the Mets. Pomeranz, who is mentioned above and whom you recently commented on, was named to the All-Star game as a replacement for the Mets` Thor, I believe I`ve heard. Also, that long ball Eloy Jimenez hit in the Futures Game was of the “tape measure” variety. It hit off the facing of the third deck at Petco, a venue where hitting homers is very challenging. It`s a pitcher`s park, as you know. Despite Eloy`s outstanding overall performance, both offensively and defensively, another player was named MVP, a Red Sox prospect I`ve heard said. There should be an investigation. (smiling)

You guys may remember the Cubs claiming a Pitcher named Leathersich from the Mets over the winter. A LH with ML experience, that underwent TJ surgery. He is now on the comeback trail in the AZL. 7 games, 5.2 Innings, 3 BB’s, 10 K’s with a 1.06 WHIP.
What does this mean? Nothing right now. It was a gamble picking him up, a little wild, but with very good strikeout stuff. He could be the LH specialist the Cubs need, then again, he could be another failed gamble.
Worth keeping a eye on, maybe??

He`s absolutely deserving of being watched, jasper. He was a strikeout artist before he injured the elbow and is young, (25?).

Aloha jasper, thank you for reminding me about Leathersich. I hope he pans out; as you said may not be this season but could in the near future. Let us hope that some major arms are added soon and that starters such as Arrieta and Lester come back strong. Have to say jasper, very good call about no extension at this moment for Boras…I meant Arrieta. I think a dream bp anchored by Cahill-Wood-Edwards-Rondon-Miller would add life/confidence back into them. Which means all the others are expendable except for Nathan, which I hope can gain back some of his past form. Mahalo!

Nathan would be a gamble payoff, if he has another 60 or 70 games in that aged arm.
Miller will cost too much, way to much. Epstein/Hoyer still might go after him, but his age/salary not worth what it would take to get him. My opinion, others may disagree, that’s cool.
Arietta, everyone knew he was on a run, nobody in the history of the game was that good, that long. Historical last half last year, pretty darn good start this year. All of the sudden he is not even average. He might should have signed at a hometown discount.
I would not sign him to Lester money, Then again I was against signing Lester to that kind of payday. Add Heyward to that, there has never been anyone worth that kind of money, nor will there ever be.

I`m not as enamored with Cahill as you, k.g. He`s had some shaky appearances of late which have to be concerning.

Aloha jhosk, have to be honest, I am not so enamored with Cahill as I am trying to think who are the best ones in the current bp. I understand the FO cannot get rid of them all and begin anew. So, who do they keep and who can be let go or traded. I should have explained it that way. You take care now. Mahalo!

I hear you loudly and clearly, k.g. You and I are on the same page per usual. Now that the All-Star game is in the rear view mirror, I`m concerned with how the team performs beginning Friday, and going forward in the second half. I`m wanting the players to erase their memories of results between June 20 and July 9, and think about duplicating what they accomplished prior to that period this 2016 season.

Aloha jhosk- I think your proposal about them leaving the first half behind is good, learn from the mistakes and grow for the second half! Now in regard to Maddon and the FO, I hope they put out there the best team defensively/base-running/offense wise. Part of that is consistency and continuity. I hope on Friday that a pitcher that has done this organization well in the past month, Hendricks, is rewarded with a lineup that includes Bryant-Russell-Zobrist-Rizzo. Catcher-start off with Ross or Montero and in the outfield Fowler-Heyward and Szczur/Coghlan/Contreras. I am assuming that Fowler is back and that Heyward it batting low in the lineup. I feel Hendricks has earned this and needs strong defense behind him against a very good Rangers team. If the game is very tight late in the innings and say Montero starts the game, I could see Maddon bringing in Ross so as to block balls in the dirt, avoid wild-pitches, keep runners close. If there is any question about the LF position and say Contreras started the game, they could bring in Szczur for fresh-legs/defense. As my college coach used to say: pitching-defense-offense; you rarely get all 3 attributes with regularity but you hope for consistency with two of three. Now let’s hope the FO can get some much needed pitching help (notice how the Marlins got FRodney from the Padres, I think a good trade for both). Hope you are doing well. Take care now! Mahalo!

Phil Rogers was a guest on “High Heat” today with Chris Russo, and Phil revealed that Arrieta is not going to start any of the games this weekend. That means the soonest we can see Jake is Monday. It`s apparent the Cubs want to provide Jake extra rest with the hope it will assist him in getting back to his accustomed form. Mad Dog Russo opined that the Cubs are toast if Arrieta is not himself in the second half, and especially in the playoffs, assuming we qualify for them. My view is that it`s not just Arrieta who needs to get back to being himself, but Lester and Hammel as well. Rogers also asserted that Rich Hill is coveted by Theo Epstein, and has been for a long while. I know you, k.g., have been advocating for Hill as well as Gray, for a long spell, but today was the first time I became aware of our FO having a high opinion of Rich Hill. I`m pleased Hendricks is starting Friday. One can make the case that he is our most reliable and consistent starter these days.

Aloha jhosk- that is very interesting to hear that the FO also thinks well of Hill. I just felt sometime ago that to make it worth the organization’s wild, go after both Hill and Gray. Who knows, if he finishes well with the Cubs, Theo may offer him a 2yr deal like he did with Hammel? Hill started with the Cubs he could finish strong with them too! I also think a combination of a Vogelbach or Baez in a package could get them to go for it as we would gain Gray under control for so many years and they would have for Baez for sure under control plus whomever else the FO might put in the mix. Hill is a rental but a good one, Gray is having a down year at the moment but I know he will bounce back. So, in this trade I am also thinking long term if Hill does well and would like to come back. Of course it would be nice to get Miller from the Yankees but what do they want for him. I am sure the FO will use their discretion as to how much they are willing to depart with and teams like the Yankees and A’s need to understand that this “pie in the sky” attitude and wanting it all can hurt them too, meaning no teams give you anything because of their unrealistic expectations. I hope some prudent trades take place soon that can immediately benefit this team. And to your point about Arrieta, another reason this Hill/Gray combo would be nice because Hill can start right away and if things continue to worsen with Arrieta you could move Gray out of the bp and insert him in the rotation. Just thoughts. Take care now and let us hope that Hendricks and the team have a strong outing tomorrow! Mahalo!

Aloha jasper, no offense taken! I know it is a dream of mine and many fans if Miller could be had. I would not shell out players the way Boston did for Kimbrel or Az did for Miller. But if the Yankees are reasonable, a Baez helps them out in the long run too; my father brings up how they are hurting at 3rd. I too was uneasy about the Lester and Heyward contracts. Well you hope he does well in 2-3yrs and opts out then. I would not give Arrieta Strasburg (hope I got right) money either. Now, the thing is they need pitching help, so some folks are going to be moved. The FO I am sure is ranking the needs and what is most important, relief or starter. Anyway, there definitely is more work that needs to be done. Take care now. Mahalo!

It`s my understanding that both Baez and Schwarber were told by Jed and Theo that they would not be going anywhere. I accept that, and therefore think it`s fruitless and non-productive to speculate about trades involving either of those players. There is a wealth of current players and prospects who could indeed be moved, and it amounts to an embarrassment of riches. Will be more than compelling to see what the FO decides; you can be certain that FO will not stand pat. {To change gears, as Bob Nightengale points out, it`s interesting that there are just two games on today`s entire MLB schedule that do not involve teams that are either in first-place or are serious contenders, (Brewers/Reds and Rockies/Braves). Our game, Cubs/Rangers, is a potential World Series preview. }

Aloha jhosk, the RedSox made a big move and got Pomeranz from the Padres. Hope team comes through today. Mahalo!

Aloha jhosk, that was a well executed game today and boy what a performance by Hendricks. I will continue to say he is one of the most underrated starters this year! Edwards continues to impress and kudos to the young folks: Russell-Baez-Szczur! Tomorrow is another important game! Take care, Mahalo!

I`m certain the manager agrees with you that Kyle is underrated, k.g. I only saw the highlights, and that was a heckuva catch by Almora. It was apparent Fielder does not play much at first base these days. His throw to third was ugly. Mat B must be pleased with his boy`s knock, and jasper has been a fan of Hendricks for a long while, and we are seeing why. Tomorrow should be interesting with Darvish coming off the DL for the start, and is expected to be limited to 85-90 pitches. The MLB Network will telecast Saturday`s game as was the case today, I`m told. Am not as confident in Hammel these days as I am Hendricks. Let`s credit the bullpen today, as well.

Aloha jhosk, yes Almora made a terrific catch. Yes to the bullpen holding the line. Hendricks was lifted with only throwing 87 pitches but I understood the move by Maddon as Szczur came through in another big situation. Darvish has nasty stuff and when he is on, he is tough to hit. The batters will have to exhibit patience at the plate. In regard to Addison, I know his average will come around but boy does he deliver in clutch situations, “salamut” Russell-san! Lastly, Hammel needs to have a big game and break this second half slump, get the “monkey” off his back. Take care now! Have a blessed Aloha Friday! Mahalo!

I have a question I want to pose to nhan lam bang dai hoc. Do you know Stephen Strasburg is 13-0 this 2016 season and well on his way to winning the Cy Young Award? Do you think the Cubs` scouts can find pitchers of similar quality for our organization? If so, we will be on a path to win a championship, for sure. I grant you, it`s challenging, but it`s also doable. That same organization has stockpiled a remarkable inventory of quality position players, all of whom it is impossible to find a way to accomodate at the major league level. Regrettably, pitching prospects within that same organization are few and far between. It is why the FO is tasked with the need to make trades in the near future in order to compete with the likes of the Nationals, Giants, Mets, and others when October rolls around. I want to hear from you, nhan lam bang dai hoc. I won`t tolerate being ignored. (smiling)

Aloha jhosk- I also saw “nhan lam bang dai hoc’s” post, I am thinking a fan from Vietnam? That would be pretty cool. I thought he was complimenting Carrie’s work in his best English as he could but I see that his post was taken off. Anyhow, I see that Heyward is still not back and what has happened to Soler? I hope Carrie can give us an update on Jorge. Pitching is key going from this point on and Hammel needs to demonstrate that he can go a full season. Maddon is giving him a lineup that can provide offense and as I said before, when Darvish-san is on he is nasty, so the team has to be patient and take pitches; manufacture runs like they did yesterday! Take care now. Mahalo!

Yes, k.g, Darvish did have excellent stuff early on, as six of the first nine outs he recorded came via the punch-out. His pitch count reached 90 in a hurry, something which has been happening with Arrieta lately, but I digress. Yu Darvish was lifted before completing five innings. Matt Szczur had a productive pinch hit for the second consecutive day. He`s quickly gaining a reputation as a deluxe pinch hitter. Isn`t it remarkable what a team can accomplish when it gets good pitching, as you suggested? {It just dawned on me today that Laz Diaz had to have umpired at home plate yesterday, given he was at third today. Cubs` fans will recall he was awful for both teams July 2 at Citi Field for the Cubs/Mets. I did not see Friday`s game, and assume he was accurate with his calls, as I did not see anyone complain afterward, but that`s probably because we won the game.} Thanks for suggesting that poster is probably Vietnamese. It makes sense to me. I`ll be crestfallen if he does not respond to my questions. (smiling)

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