Cubs: Maddon likes Motte's 'pure blunt force' in ninth inning


Cubs: Maddon likes Motte's 'pure blunt force' in ninth inning

NEW YORK — Jason Motte already has the resume, the hard stuff and the intimidating look with that big beard. But Cubs manager Joe Maddon doesn’t want to anoint Motte as his closer yet.

Motte is starting to look more like the powerful reliever who got the final out in Game 7 of the 2011 World Series and saved 42 games for the St. Louis Cardinals the next year.

Maddon still wants to keep his options open with Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon — even after Motte notched his third save in Tuesday night’s 1-0 win over the New York Mets.

[MORE CUBS: Addison Russell ready to handle the grind of a long season]

“I do like him in the ninth inning based on his experience,” Maddon said Wednesday at Citi Field. “He’s unflappable. He might give it up. I don’t know if he’s going to give it up or not. But I know one thing: He’s been there before, and he’s very calm in that moment.

“The other guys have equally good stuff. Stropy’s probably got the best breaking ball of the three. Rondon is now utilizing his other stuff.

“Motte’s just pure blunt force. He’s more primal than the other two. But when it comes down to just thinking through a situation, he’s very good. He’s very self-aware in those moments.

“The answer is he’s not specifically the closer. But I do like him there.”

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This fits into Maddon’s broader bullpen philosophy, blending the data with his gut feelings, exploiting matchups and trying to find the right high-leverage moments.

“Unless you have that one guy that you can really hang your hat on, why do it?” Maddon said. “It just makes everybody’s life miserable when you don’t put the guy in the game and then all of a sudden he’s disappointed and he goes home and doesn’t sleep as well.

“I don’t want that. I just want us to win.”

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 37th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 37th homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa's 37th homer of the 1998 season was a big one, an opposite field blast off the front row of fans in right field and into the basket at Wrigley Field.

The eighth-inning 3-run shot gave the Cubs some insurance in a game they ultimately won 9-5 and the Wrigley faithful responded by throwing a bunch of trash on the field.

Earlier in the contest, Sosa tied the game with an RBI single in the fifth inning. He finished with 4 RBI, giving him 93 on the season with more than 2 months left to play.

Fun fact: Vladimir Guerrero was the Expos' No. 3 hitter for this game an dhe also hit a homer (his 20th). Now, Guerrero's son is nearing his MLB debut as a top prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays system.

Fun fact No. 2: Mark Grudzielanek - who later played for the Cubs in 2003-04 - was Montreal's No. 5 hitter for the game at Wrigley. He was traded 10 days later from the Expos to the Los Angeles Dodgers for another fellow Cub - Ted Lilly.

Cubs are reported to be 'deeply involved' in trade talks for Zach Britton

Cubs are reported to be 'deeply involved' in trade talks for Zach Britton

The Cubs and Orioles reliever Zach Britton are once again being linked to each other, according to Patrick Mooney of the Athletic

Despite the front office denying any big moves coming before the July 31st deadline, but the Cubs' interest in Britton from last year makes this one with the Orioles stick a bit more. And when taking a look at Britton's fit on the club, a deal involving the lefty-reliever makes too much sense not to be true. 

And according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, the Orioles are trying to wrap up the trade in the next few days. 

The Cubs did add reliever Jesse Chavez earlier this week, but Chavez profiles more as a swingman and less of the late-inning arm Britton has been over his eight-year career. Due to injuries, Zach Britton isn't the guy who teams saw dominant in '15 &'16 when he saved a combined 134 games for the Orioles. 

However, his 2018 numbers are encouraging for a guy coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon with a 3.68 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 14.2 IP. And when you factor in the pedigree the Cubs would be adding to the back end of the bullpen on top of his expiring deal at the end of 2018, it would make the Cubs bullpen lethal in the postseason. 

There will be other suitors for Britton who could likely offer more in terms of prospects in return, but if the Cubs are serious about adding someone like Britton, they could always dip into their MLB roster and part with a Victor Caratini-type player. Infielder David Bote has also impressed with his surprise season, showing he can contribute in multiple roles. 

But the Cubs would be solving essentially two issues with one guy in Britton, with his ability to close and experience in late-inning situations while also replacing Mike Montgomery in the bullpen, who may be staying in the rotation longer than expected. He's also an upgrade over Brian Duensing, who has been ineffective this season, and Randy Rosario who seems more like smoke and mirrors and has never pitched in the postseason. 

Jed Hoyer did say earlier this week the Cubs will be adding depth before the trade deadline, but the asking price for arguably the best available reliever remaining on the market could end up being too rich for the Cubs to stomach. But it clearly won't stop them from at least weighing all options.