Cubs Are A Royal Pain In Kansas City

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Though try as they might, the rain delay couldn’t stop El Mago from creating, well you guessed it, a little magic in Kansas City as the Cubs went on to defeat the Royals 3-1.

“I was so mad [at my at-bats] plus the rain delay — you can ask ‘Stroppy’ about my attitude,” Javier Baez said. “I struck out twice, and not that I struck out, but it was pitches way out of the zone. This is the first time I played here so I was really excited to be here. I like the field — it’s really big. I was trying to control my emotions. After the rain delay, I went out there with a different attitude and being patient.”

I think that’s the difference between an MVP season and not an MVP season, is patience.

“[I told him] ‘You’ve got two more at-bats,'” Pedro Strop said. “‘We’re playing this game, and you’ve got two more at-bats. I want you to go 2-for-4. Don’t tell me anything, you’re going 2-for-4.’ I was kind of screaming at him. ‘Wake up, man. Wake up. We’ve got a game to play and you’re the man. You’re going to get two base hits. Watch. Let them pitch. Let the ball get close to you and hit it.’ That’s pretty much what it was.”

It’s not a secret amongst Cubs fans that Baez’s play has garnered him some MVP talk but when the new guys come onto the team at this point in the season and they’re awestruck with his playing ability, then perhaps the MVP discussion turns real.

“Javy’s play was outstanding,” Cole Hamels said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to play with a Hall of Famer behind me in Texas [third baseman Adrian Beltre] and what Javy’s able to do, he’s riding the line with that type of playing ability. It’s great to be able to have that.”

The Cubs rotation has been a see saw type of season, but with the addition of Hamels, who has dreamt of being a Cub, things have brightened, not that I’m terrified of the Cubs’ chances in October, I don’t know, they haven’t been lights out this season and could be the factor in the playoffs should the team not succeed.

“Moving it forward, I think our guys are really good and I want to believe we’ll find that magic potion at some point,” he said. “Other than we haven’t performed as well as we can, I still believe there’s a solid chance we will. … It’s about everybody, it’s about scoring points, not making fundamental mistakes. It’s a group situation and we are a team. As a group, we all have to do our jobs.”

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Baez Continues His El Mago Ways

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It’s amazing to watch players blossoming into the greatness they’ve become. Remember, a few years ago Javier Baez was swinging at anything and everything that was pitched in front of him and in more cases than not, everything that was around him as well. Yesterday, the Cubs beat the Padres 5-4 and Baez continued to dazzle his way to a possible NL MVP award.

“He’s right at the top,” Anthony Rizzo said of Baez as far as MVP consideration. “His numbers are very, very good and he’s been very consistent. Offensively, defensively, the bases, he’s a complete player. I’m sure other guys around the league are having tremendous years as well, but on a first-place team with a lot of expectations, he’s carrying the load.”

As the Cubs have struggled at times this season, Baez has, like Rizzo says, been consistent all the way through. This is his breakout year. Yesterday, he connected with his 23rd home run of the season. While not exactly a home run hitter, Baez does have power but the most exciting thing about Baez’s style of play is exactly that, the excitement.

“It makes me nervous, to be honest,” Baez said about his MVP consideration. “I don’t want to play with numbers. We’ll see at the end. We’ll see in September. When we get to September, it’ll be about the playoffs. We’ll see when the numbers come up. We’ll see in the offseason what I get for this season.”

It’s always at the back of player’s minds when it comes to awards but he’s right. They should be concentrating on the season and worry about what’s to come later. El Mago’s game is all about defence and he’s the best.

“Javy’s game today was so complete,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the infielder, who is batting .407 with 10 RBIs in his past seven games. “Bote’s game has been so complete. That’s the thing — too many times in our industry, we get hung up on offensive numbers, but we won the game on defense.”

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Baez Brilliant In Loss To Pirates

Pirates 5, Cubs 4

The Cubs are a hopeful bunch, even in last night’s 5-4 loss on the chin to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cubs remained hopeful.

“I thought we played really well,” Maddon said of the Cubs’ overall play. “I have no issues with tonight’s game. We got a little unlucky and they beat us. If we play that game every night, I’ll take it the rest of the year. I thought we played that well, the at-bats were good, we played great defense. It’s just one of those nights.”

They did play really well, Javier Baez crushed three hits and a whopper of a three run home run, but it wasn’t enough. I’m still waving that MVP flag for El Mago, he’s truly having that banner year, but after hearing Alex Rodriguez’s comments on Yu Darvish whether they’re true or not, the Cubs have to remain focused and try to do their jobs. It’s true that Darvish wasn’t off to a great start in Chicago and the injury has further aggravated fans and possibly teammates, but we all know that Rodriguez can stir pots whether the brew needs to be stirred or not, tonight Cole Hamels makes his Cubs debut and we’ll know the future of Darvish.

“He loves having the packed ballpark, games that matter,” president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said. “You’re really betting on the person. You acquire someone in the middle of a pennant race in a market like Chicago and you have to pay attention to makeup, because the first time they walk onto the mound at Wrigley, they have the hopes of 24 teammates on them and the whole organization and 45,000 people and a huge market. You want someone who feels good about that opportunity and will embrace it and knows they can rise to the challenge. You don’t want someone who is comfortable where they were and protecting their career and not sure what they got into. The makeup and experience does matter.”

It’ll be in Pittsburgh but his point has been made. Epstein is a smart guy and I’ll trust his decision making skills any day over Rodriguez’s bluntness. The Cubs analyzed the data, that’s what they do. They chose Hamels for a specific reason keeping their eyes solely on October.

“I totally disagree with that. Everyone knows what’s going on. We know there is an injury there. We support his recovery. Everybody in there knows and everyone in the coaches’ room knows also, throughout the organization … It’s unfortunate that it was relayed that way, but it’s not true.” Maddon said about Rodriguez’s comments.

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Carpenter Carves Up Cubs

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It could have been worse, like an 18-5 loss but thankfully the Cubs got beat last night by an easier score of 6-3. It wasn’t bad at all with the exception of Matt Carpenter who was out hunting bear in this series.

“We’re seeing this guy probably at the best moment of his life as a baseball player,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

The Cubs had the lead going into the sixth inning but it happened in the seventh when Carpenter took the cover off of the ball. That home run marked his sixth consecutive game with a home run. It’s pretty hard to beat a guy who’s in the zone like Carpenter.

It was nice to see Anthony Rizzo with four hits but in the end, it all came down to Carpenter. Although Javier Baez was yanked out of the game along with Maddon on a call that was questionable, it probably hurt the Cubs chances with Baez in the locker room.

“I didn’t think I said anything to disrespect anyone,” Baez said. “It was a pretty close call. I only asked for [Little] to check with the umpire at first. [Little] didn’t say anything. I threw my helmet and he threw me out for no reason — I guess for my helmet [toss].

“My message — we’re not animals. Sometimes we ask, ‘Where was the pitch?’ or if it was a strike. They want to come at us like we’re offending them. I think we can talk the things out. If you disrespect somebody, then you get ejected. I don’t think there was anything there to get ejected.”

I kinda disagree with Baez on this one. Yeah, it was a close call but when it all comes down to the umpire’s job, it should be the umpire making the decision, not the player. My reasoning is simple; If the player’s are allowed to make game decisions, then it overrides any judgement calls by the umpires. What would be the point of having an umpire in the first place, right? All they would have to do is check the replay on every pitch. That would suck.

“I told [Little] to kick me out because I was not going to leave under those circumstances,” Maddon said. “As an umpire, you have all the right to kick a guy out if he’s belligerent, obnoxious, profane, and Javy was none of that.”

Rightfully so. Maddon’s got to stick up for his players at all times whether it’s right or wrong. However, I will maintain this position forever, the beauty and magic of the game will always be on the final call by the umpire. Players will go down in history and all the way to the hall of fame based on whether there should have been a certain call on a particular call.

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Baez and Schwarber Tune Up For Home Run Derby

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In what appears to be quite likely a tune up for the Home Run Derby, both Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez propelled the Cubs to a 11-6 victory over the San Diego Padres with a home run each as they padded their lead in the National League.

“We’re running out of [superlatives],” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Baez. “I like the way he’s going about his business. He’s playing the game right, playing the game hard, playing the game smartly. He’s just playing the game of baseball. I don’t think he has an analytical bone in his body. … He’s absolutely fun to watch.”

As if April never happened, the Cubs find themselves in sole possession of first place with one game to go before the mid summer classic.

“This year I’ve been consistent with my work, with my routine, being here early,” he said. “I’m the type of guy that I like to take my time during my routine, so I like to get here early and there are already a few people here. Working is the thing that is getting me here and doing some good this first half.” Baez said.

Kyle Hendricks enjoyed a win as well even though it was at times, a shaky performance by The Professor. While he’s got to figure out why he gives up first inning home runs, Hendricks is looking forward to the second half.

“It’s good to be at the top,” Hendricks said. “The Brewers are a great team behind us. There’s no days off in the second half. We have to play the same baseball we’ve been playing.”

The Cubs are in a great spot. With the return of Yu Darvish expected very soon, the Cubs will have their rotation bolstered.

“I think we’re surprised,” Cubs General manager Jed Hoyer said of Darvish’s injury. “Other than the Tommy John [surgery he had], he’s been a guy who takes the ball and has been really durable. I think this is a blip. I think it’s a moment in time and he’ll get back to that place where he’ll give us six, seven innings of quality baseball.”

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Baez Pulls Out The Magic in Extra Innings

 

Is there anything that Javier Baez can’t do? In the tenth inning, Baez stole second base and then took advantage of a couple of errors to run home and score. The Cubs went on to beat the San Diego Padres 5-4 and take first place in the National League Central.

“At this point, it’s really not even surprising to us, and it’s crazy to say that,” Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo said of Baez’s daredevil baserunning. “It’s fun. His instincts, his baseball instincts, are taking over the whole game and people are noticing it more than ever. That’s who he is, and he continues to keep getting better.”

I’m a huge fan of his style of playing. It’s the way the game should be played and proves that the small ball is the most exciting.

If the Cubs go on to not win the big trophy with all those awesome shiny flags, then 2018 will be best remembered as the year Javier Baez became “El Mago” and brought magic to Wrigley Field. He’s an all star this year and who knows? perhaps an MVP.

So the trade deadline is coming up and the Cubs need to add a player, who are they going to add? They need pitching. Unless Yu Darvish comes back and does something outstanding and crazy good, the Cubs are going to look for better pitching. I’m suspecting that we could see Tyler Chatwood involved in a deal.

If anything the Cubs are finding their rhythm heading into the break. Today’s game with Kyle Hendricks will be a sign of things to come. He was lights out in his last game and hopefully he’ll be able to carry the momentum going forward after the break.

“We’re in a much better position than we were last year at the same time. We’ve done better overall, in regard to our hitting approach. Our starting pitching has to ascend. There’s still things we have to work through. Of course, I’d like to be — you always want to be in first place. … [The Brewers] have been playing well and they’re tough. I like the way we’re trending. There aren’t a whole lot of tired guys out there.” Maddon said.

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Hendricks Pitches Gem Despite Loss

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You know? I think Kyle Hendricks must be filled with bad luck this season. Either he can’t get run support in some games, batters hit everything off of of him or like in last night’s 2-1 extra inning loss to the San Francisco Giants, no matter how amazing he pitches, he can’t get the win.

“It was a much better feeling out there,” Hendricks said. “The fastball command was finally there and it just opened up the rest of the game for me. Willy [catcher Willson Contreras] and I were just really on the same page, mixing pitches, keeping them off balance, and that’s the game I have to play.”

Hendricks went deep in the game, he did everything right by going nine innings. That’s what the Cubs need from him but if a team is going to lose, then that’s the way to lose in extra innings and executing everything to the way it was planned.

“That’s the outing we’ve been looking for with the hitting that we’ve been doing recently,” Joe Maddon said. “Going forward, that becomes contagious sometimes, when you’ve got a guy that pitches like that. I really believe you could see that version of Kyle most of the time for the rest of the season.”

He’s right. If Hendricks pitches that way the rest of the season, he’ll turn it around. It’s a funny game where the slightest angle will throw everything off.

“I knew what was wrong, and what I’ve been trying to work on. It was still inconsistent. It’d be one good, one bad, I couldn’t repeat it. Today, in the third inning, something just clicked and I was able to repeat one after another. So that was a really good feeling.” Hendricks said.

Congratulations to Javier Baez, Jon Lester and Willson Contreras on being voted to the All Star team. Well deserved, Baez has been having a career year while Lester is doing the things that Lester does by having 11 wins this year.

“To watch them blossom over the last couple of years, to see what Javy’s gone through from this crazy swinger to a much more controlled game of baseball, and Willson, on the other hand, he’s pretty much fought, fought, fought his way,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Now he is the best catcher in the National League. I think he’s the best catcher in baseball.”

It’s hard to argue with that. Javier Baez has been enjoying his breakout season.

“He’s probably my favorite player to watch,” Lester said of Baez. “I’ve got to play with and in front of some really good infielders in my career and I think Javy has surpassed all those guys.”

Believe it.