The Rundown: Cubs Show Lack of Urgency, Maddon Keeping Faith in Darvish and Edwards, Harper Returns to D.C.
I admired the way the Cubs played their fans for April Fool’s Day yesterday afternoon. Their Scents of Wrigley Field take on the home opener is classic Cubs media.
Dirt, leather and ivy. The Scents of Wrigley Field are coming April 8. #EverybodyIn pic.twitter.com/hAIlc5uKEp
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 1, 2019
But, that was nothing compared to the joke that is Cubs baseball right now. Let me warn you, a decently sized overreaction follows.
Is it still spring training? I guess you can take the Cubs out of Arizona, but you can’t take Arizona out of the Cubs. And after scoring 28 runs in Texas over the weekend, the Cubs couldn’t manage to plate a single runner in their 8-0 loss to the Braves at SunTrust Field last night. The team committed six errors to boot, which is a pun, though not a very funny one.
If the first four games are any indication, having Joe Maddon more invested in the on-field aspect of coaching his team has been a resounding failure, at least when it comes to the fundamentals of the game. They’ve not pitched well, and last night proved that their fielding skills are inadequate.
Kyle Hendricks had a very professor-like answer when asked what went wrong.
“I made just way too many noncompetitive pitches up,” he said
The recently extended starter gave up seven runs (two earned), 10 hits, and three walks in 4 1/3 innings, and seemed to take it all in stride. Where is the urgency with this team? Perhaps they left it back in Mesa.
“That was just a weird game,” David Bote chimed in. “One of those days. Nothing to it.”
Does that inspire you? I’m certainly not feeling it. Attitude reflects leadership, so it’s no surprise Maddon wasn’t really fired up regarding the team’s lackluster play, either.
“I know it was their home opener, but we did not have to cooperate that much,” the skipper said after the game. “It was just a really poorly played game on our part.”
Cooperate? If a reporter had asked me, I’d offer a quote that’s much more descriptive. The Cubs played like horseshit last night, and have since winning 12-4 on Opening Day. Where did that team go?
Fittingly, Mark Zagunis topped off the baleful night by getting doubled off second to end the game. Call it mercy-driven euthanasia.
As a fan, I am already tired of the constant lineup changes, the hunch-based strategy, and the laissez-faire attitude of their manager, and it’s only been four games. The problem is that the start to this season has really been a terrible extension of the 2018 Cubs. Just okay is not okay, and this is neither the mindset nor the type of baseball we were promised by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer all winter.
Cubs News & Notes
- Last night’s six errors were the most in a nine-inning game by the Cubs since June 14, 1982 against the Phillies.
- Maddon indicated that he could move away from a platoon in left field and play Kyle Schwarber there more regularly. Schwarber sat for the second time in four games, with both days off coming when the opposition has started a left-handed pitcher.
- Carl Edwards Jr. was told before the game that his foot tap was deemed illegal. Edwards reverted to his former delivery and pitched a scoreless 7th.
- Maddon says he is maintaining faith in Edwards and starter Yu Darvish.
- Kris Bryant disassociates himself from social media once the season begins, channeling any online negativity into his workouts.
- Benches cleared after Bote tried to break up a double play last night with a slide that angered Dansby Swanson for some reason. ESPN announcers John “Boog” Sciambi and David Ross went toe-to-toe over the play for about five minutes in the ESPN broadcast booth. Ross referred to the Cubs as “we” at one point and called Swanson “soft.”
- Maddon said more than ever teams are factoring in players who are out of minor-league options when it comes to setting the opening-day roster.
How About That!
There are a handful of teams still interested in closer Craig Kimbrel. None are the Cubs.
Starting pitcher Merrill Kelly of the Diamondbacks made his major league debut last night and beat the Padres 10-3. Kelly is 30 years old.
Francisco Lindor and the Indians fear that the shortstop’s injury may be worse than originally diagnosed. Lindor was in Green Bay, Wisconsin yesterday, visiting foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson.
Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andujar are injured and will be absent from the Yankees lineup. Stanton strained his left biceps taking a swing Sunday, and Andujar suffered a small labrum tear in his right shoulder diving into third base on a pickoff attempt. Stanton will rest for 10 days and be re-evaluated, but could miss most of April. Andujar will get treatment for a couple weeks, but there’s a chance he’ll need season-ending surgery.
Clayton Kershaw will make a rehab start for Oklahoma City this week. The Triple-A Dodgers open their season on Thursday against San Antonio. So it’s a home opener of sorts for the ace.
Monday’s Three Stars
- The Opener – The Rays used their first opener of 2019 as Ryne Stanek merely struck out the side, after which five relievers followed with one run over eight innings in the 7-1 win over the Rockies. I am sure Brian Kenney is ecstatic right now.
- David Hess – The Orioles pitcher was in the middle of a no-hitter with eight strikeouts through 6 1/3 innings yesterday before manager Brandon Hyde pulled him after 82 pitches.
- Ozzie Albies – The Braves second baseman was 3-for-4 last night and scored two runs in Atlanta’s victory over the Cubs. Albies is hitting .429 on the year.
Yes, that’s Bryce Harper as Benedict Arnold. Washington D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser is not a real fan of Harper right now. The former Nationals right fielder returns to D.C. to face his former team for the first time tonight. The Phillies have yet to lose a game this season.
This picture WAS on Mayor Bowser's Twitter page less than 30 minutes ago, but not anymore…
Tomorrow is going to be nuts. #OnePursuit #HarperReturns @ABC7Sports pic.twitter.com/rO5sEO1D9l
— Chip Brierre (@Chip_Brierre) April 1, 2019
They Said It
- “It was one of those fluke days. You flush it. Only on April Fool’s does a game like that happen. … We have 158 to go. No worries. We’ll be all right.” – David Bote
- “Now Schwarber’s showing a better way to not give in to the lefty. His whole stance and what he’s doing is different. I’m curious to see how it plays out. So heads up. Because what he’s doing right now can play against both sides.” – Joe Maddon
- “I delete Twitter during the season. One thing can stick with you. It’s crazy how much it’s changed. Just since I got drafted [in 2013], it’s changed. Back then, you could go through it, and there were negative things, and there were some good stuff. Now it’s straight negativity. Nothing good comes from it.” – Kris Bryant
Tuesday Walk Up Song
House of Fun by Madness. This Cubs season has been anything but so far.