Cubs

Quade: Cubs arent quitting on the North Side

538578.jpg

Quade: Cubs arent quitting on the North Side

Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011Posted: 11:40 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com Cubs Insider Follow @CSNMooney
Box Score
READ: The long road back for Wood and Cashner
READ: Quade recalls "Moneyball" days in Oakland

CINCINNATI The White Sox seem to be on a collision course between Ozzie Guillen and Ken Williams. The Cubs are in a holding pattern, waiting for the season to end so they can intensify their general manager search.

Two disappointing baseball teams wont give the city meaningful games across the final two weeks. Its been like that all summer on the North Side.

Guillen called out his players after Wednesdays loss to the Detroit Tigers, saying they had no fight left. Mike Quade has now watched his team lose 85 games and sink to 20 under .500. But the Cubs manager hasnt seen anyone quit on him yet.

I dont know whats going on (over) on the South Side, Quade said Thursday. Its not my place to get involved in any of that. I only know about this group here and they havent. They didnt last year. I dont think its in their nature. I guess thats unfortunate (for the White Sox). But Im happy with the effort down the stretch here.

As if to prove a point, the Cubs went out and played a game that lasted four hours and one minute.

They erased a two-run deficit in the ninth and took the Reds (74-76) to 11 innings before Jay Bruce launched a first-pitch slider from James Russell, the seventh reliever out of the Cubs bullpen. Bruces two-run shot traveled 394 feet before disappearing over the right-field wall to give the Reds an 8-6 walk-off victory at Great American Ball Park.

Whatever the motivations money, numbers, pride the Cubs have maintained a sense of professionalism throughout a difficult season. Theyve viewed their chemistry issues as isolated to Carlos Zambrano.

The problems are more complicated than effort. The Cubs began Thursday leading the majors in errors (124) and tied for third in blown saves (23). Theyre a bottom-tier team in terms of starting pitching (4.91 ERA) and hitting with runners in scoring position (.235).

But give them this much: They finally got to their downtown Cincinnati hotel around 5:30 on Monday morning and put up 12 runs in a victory that night. And even with first pitch at 1:20 p.m. first pitch looming on Friday, they didnt give in late Thursday night.

Thats just a testament to what were about right now, said starting pitcher Randy Wells, who couldnt protect a four-run lead or finish the fifth inning.

Even if there are a few things about this team that deep down Quade would like to get off his chest, hes not wired that way, and doesnt have the same platform as Guillen.

Ozzies always worn it on his sleeve, Quade said. Thats what he does. Hes probably more vocal in that regard than I am. And if hes upset with things, you usually dont have to sneak around to figure it out. Hell let you know. Thats part of his passion, (what) has made him good at what he does.

Were different sides of town. Were different people.

Etc.

Reliever Justin Berg whos on the 40-man roster but spent most of this season at Triple-A Iowa will undergo Tommy John surgery on Friday. Team USA selected two Cubs prospects outfielder Brett Jackson and left-hander Jeff Beliveau to play next month in the World Cup in Panama and the Pan American Games in Mexico. Andrew Cashner faced four batters and was charged with one run during Thursdays loss, which means hell likely be unavailable again until Sunday. Starlin Castro needs seven hits to reach 200 and wants to do it during the final homestand at Wrigley Field.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Remember that guy? Former Cubs shortstop Ricky Gutiérrez

ricky_gutierrez_kamka.jpg
AP

Remember that guy? Former Cubs shortstop Ricky Gutiérrez

Ricky Gutiérrez played in the Majors from 1993-2004. He played shortstop for the Cubs from 2000-01 and later signed with them again in June 2004. 

However, Gutiérrez never got back to the Majors with the Cubs, who sent him to the Red Sox the following month. His final Major League game was with the Red Sox on Oct. 3, 2004, the final game of the 2004 regular season; he didn’t play in the 2004 postseason. Gutiérrez was subsequently signed and released by a few other teams, including the White Sox in 2005.

Gutiérrez holds the distinction of being the first Cubs player to hit a regular season grand slam against the White Sox (July 12, 2001). In his two seasons with the Cubs, he tied for the Major League lead in sacrifice bunts both years (16 in 2000, 17 in 2001) which was odd since he had a grand total of 18 sacrifice bunts in his 847 career games NOT in a Cubs uniform. He also had uncharacteristic power with the Cubs:  21 home runs for Chicago in 272 games, 17 home runs with everyone else (847 games).

What Cubs fans probably remember most is what Gutiérrez did against them. On May 6, 1998 he had the lone hit (many dispute it should have been ruled an error) for the Astros off Kerry Wood in Wood’s 20-strikeout masterpiece at Wrigley Field (Gutiérrez was responsible for two of the strikeouts). 

Later that season, on June 26, the number 20 and Gutiérrez were again connected when he had a 20-pitch battle against Bartolo Colón, which ended in a strikeout. It remained the last plate appearance in the Majors of at least 20 pitches until Brandon Belt flew out on the 21st pitch of an at-bat against the Angels' Jaime Barria on April 22, 2018.

Gutiérrez’s nephew, James Jones, played 14 seasons in the NBA for the Pacers, Suns, Trail Blazers, Heat and Cavaliers.

2019 encore for Jesse Chavez?

chavez_kamka_story.jpg
USA TODAY

2019 encore for Jesse Chavez?

On July 15, Brandon Morrow recorded his 22nd save of the season with a scoreless inning in San Diego. It wound up being the last time he pitched in a game for the Cubs in 2018. 

Four days later, during the All-Star break, the Cubs made a move to bolster their bullpen, acquiring Jesse Chavez from the Rangers in exchange for minor league hurler Tyler Thomas. It wasn’t even the biggest trade they’d make with the Rangers that month – a little over a week later they dealt for Cole Hamels. 

Despite pitching nearly half the innings, Chavez was almost as valuable as Hamels.

2018 with Cubs IP fWAR
Jesse Chavez 39.0 1.1
Cole Hamels 76.1 1.5

Chavez made his Cubs debut on July 21; from July 21 through the end of the season, 187 pitchers tossed at least 30 innings. 185 of them had a higher ERA than Chavez, while 184 of them allowed more baserunners per 9 innings.

Best ERA, July 21-end of season

(minimum 30 innings) IP ERA
Blake Treinen 32.1 0.56
Jesse Chavez 39.0 1.15
Blake Snell 61.2 1.17
Trevor Bauer 35.0 1.29
Trevor Williams 71.2 1.38
Robert Stock 36.0 1.50

Fewest baserunners per 9 innings, July 32-end of season

(minimum 30 innings) IP BR/9 IP
Blake Treinen 32.1 5.85
Blake Snell 61.2 7.15
Jesse Chavez 39.0 7.15
Jacob deGrom 93.2 7.49
Scott Oberg 30.2 7.63
Josh Hader 33.1 7.83

But how did Chavez transform into one of Joe Maddon’s best bullpen arms down the stretch?  According to Chavez, his own transformation started on Mother’s Day.

Chavez entered a game in Houston with a 5.48 ERA in a dozen appearances, but pitched three innings with no hits, no walks and four strikeouts. From that point through the end of the season, he posted a 1.70 ERA and 0.892 WHIP. 

Chavez points to a change in arm slot which resulted in better consistency and a slight jump in velocity. A glance at his release point charts show that consistency, and he added roughly one mile an hour to his fastball.

"It's kept me more consistent in the zone," Chavez said. "Things have been sharper, velocity has been a lot sharper. I was huffing and puffing trying to get a 92 (mph fastball) out there and it wasn't coming.

"Next thing you know, I dropped it and it's right there, and I'm like, 'something's wrong here.' But I just took it and ran with it."

Jesse Chavez 2018 four-seam fastball velocity

  Average Max
Prior to May 13 92.6 mph 94.6 mph
May 13 on 93.6 mph 95.7 mph

Can Chavez be valuable in 2019?  The 35-year old reliever posted the best ERA (2.55), WHIP (1.059) and walk rate (4.5% - nearly two percent better than his previous best) in 2018, and he continued to get better as the season went on. 

He’s a former starter who can pitch multiple innings if needed, and that’s a valuable thing - especially for a manager like Joe Maddon, who uses his pitchers in a variety of ways. It’s unlikely he’ll have a second consecutive career year.

But he’ll likely be well worth the price tag; he only made $1 million in 2018, and even with a slight raise he should be very affordable. There’s definitely room in Maddon’s bullpen for a pitcher like Chavez.