“I woke up in a Soho doorway a policeman knew my name. He said, ‘You can go sleep at home tonight if you can get up and walk away.'” – The Who, Who Are You
My health struggles have been a little too scary lately but I feel like I’m turning a corner. It’s good to be back, and it’s especially lovely to write again. That said, I’m going to ease into it today, so there will be more substance and less verbiage than usual. I’ll be back to a regular column tomorrow, provided I continue to improve.
The volume and velocity of #FireDavidRoss posts on Twitter suggest Cubs fans are in high panic mode, while the cumulative anger and angst are in redline territory. Honestly, I’d rather write than read that shit. Ross makes his share of mistakes, but I’d be willing to bet he’s not among the worst strategists in baseball.
Odds & Sods
“I hated to bat against [Don] Drysdale. After he hit you he’d come around, look at the bruise on your arm and say, ‘Do you want me to sign it?' ~ Mickey Mantle pic.twitter.com/QfLs6kn3HE
— OldTimeHardball (@OleTimeHardball) May 23, 2023
Climbing the Ladder
“Crazy laughter in another room and she drove herself to madness with a silver spoon.” – The Eagles, Witchy Woman
These are the things Ross can’t control:
- Nick Madrigal – 63 OPS+
- Tucker Barnhart – one extra base hit in 59 plate appearances
- Matt Mervis – 36% strikeout rate and a 5.8% walk rate
- Miles Mastrobuoni – .182 batting average
- Michael Fulmer – 1.579 WHIP
- Keegan Thompson – 14 walks in 21.1 innings
- Brad Boxberger – 5.5 walks and 1.8 home runs per 9 innings
- Caleb Kilian – 18.90 ERA in one start
- Jameson Taillon – 24 earned runs in 26.2 innings
The way I see it, the Cubs have no depth, a shaky bullpen (I’m being nice), and a hole in the middle of the rotation. Taillon will right himself in his next start, I promise, but it looks like Jed Hoyer’s two-year heater of piecemealing his bullpen with reclamation projects has hit a very abrupt cold streak. The offensive depth is an issue too, especially when you consider that Trey Mancini is the only regular playing below league average.
Additionally, the top of the rotation has been freaky good. You can’t ask much more of Justin Steele (199 ERA+), Drew Smyly (153), and Marcus Stroman (143). Kyle Hendricks is returning at just the right time, and don’t forget, the very hittable — at least so far — Hayden Wesneski will be back once he figures out how to miss bats at Iowa. Fire Rossy? I think this is all on Hoyer.
A deep dive into analytics is unnecessary. Hoyer deserves an A+ for restocking the farm and a D- for MLB roster construction. Don’t stare at these Cubs for too long because you may turn into a pillar of salt. Just don’t forget that the team is still in transition, and that includes its skipper, who legitimately has one real MLB season and change on his managerial résumé.
Cubs and MLB News & Notes
- A strong possibility exists that the next start Hendricks makes will be at Wrigley Field.
- Once Hendricks and Wesneski return, depth will be the strength of Chicago’s rotation.
- The Cubs were 2-7 and were outscored 62-31 on their road trip but are trying to weather the storm now that they’ve returned home.
- A complete “lack of trust” by the Diamondbacks led to the downfall of Madison Bumgarner.
- MLB suffered its second bird tragedy in as many weeks and this time Will Brennan is the culprit.
- MLB.TV is being offered at 50% off the regular subscription price, and not just for Cubs fans.
- Thanks to new palm-screening technology at Coors Field, you can high-five your buddy with your right hand while you’re purchasing a beer with your left.
- Ronald Acuña Jr. went from first to third on a walk yesterday. How about that!
- The Orioles dropped their City Connect jerseys and, though they’re meh at best, the team’s marketing department gets an A++ for stellar promotion.
Christopher Morel is the first Cub in franchise history (since 1901) to record eight home runs in the first 11 games of a season! pic.twitter.com/zwZWl3NSw3
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 21, 2023
Tuesday Morning Six-Pack
Here are six albums I’ve been clinging to in my convalescence, and I recommend that you give all a listen this week. Further, please check out rock photographer Ethan Russell on his website and on Twitter. His work is a veritable history of rock and roll.
- Hasten Down the Wind by Linda Ronstadt
- Gold-Diggers Sound by Leon Bridges
- Slip Stitch and Pass by Phish
- Black and Blue by The Rolling Stones
- Echo in the Canyon by Jakob Dylan, Beck, Regina Spektor, Norah Jones, and Jade Castrinos
- Steely Dan Box Set, specifically for the 1974 live version (and accompanying introduction by drunk rig driver Jerome Aniton) of Bodhisattva
They Said It
- “I don’t think Hoyer views Ross as a placeholder and I don’t think he’s anywhere near being on the hot seat.” – Sadahev Sharma, in his most recent mailbag article ($) for The Athletic
- “Every single decision that doesn’t work out has come back to haunt us. And, that’s not really how the game is usually played. Usually, there’s a two-run homer or three-run homer, or a big inning that will give the manager and team some breathing room. We haven’t had that, and we’ve been playing close game after close game.” – Hoyer
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
I wouldn’t say no to sweeping the Mets if you’re asking. By the way, I love that Eric Clapton had to restring his guitar in the middle of this performance.