Did the Cubs Win?
Nope. Dropped two of three to the Cardinals this weekend.
The Cubs sent Neil Ramirez to Iowa over the weekend, citing the need to rest his arm, which strikes me as extremely odd. Ramirez has been arguably the best reliever on the team, but has not been overused by anyone’s definition of the word. I can’t remember another example of a team limiting a reliever’s innings without an obvious reason, so what’s going on?
- If he were at all injured, putting him on the disabled list would be the obvious choice, so I take the Cubs’ word that this is not injury related.
- Service time is the next natural consideration. Ramirez was first called up near the end of April, however, so a short stint at AAA isn’t likely to keep him out of Super Two consideration. (And if it did, the Union would have a fit. It’s one thing to keep a player in the minors for an extra two months. A team can semi-plausibly argue that they don’t consider the player to be ready for the majors. Sending a player down who has been dominating in the majors is a different story altogether.)
- Tanking? It has been pointed out that demoting a setup man is likely to have little or no effect on the team’s record, which is true. On the other hand, the optics are pretty bad. How much value are the Cubs placing on these games if they are choosing to sit a good reliever who was on pace for around 60 innings pitched? Which of these things has a greater probability of occurring: the presence or absence of Neil Ramirez significantly impacting the outcome of two games, or Neil Ramirez overstressing and injuring himself because he threw 60 innings instead of 55?
I wonder whether there is simply a mechanical adjustment that the Cubs would like to work out in a minor league setting.
The Cubs watched Cuban defector Rusney Castillo on Saturday along with nearly every other team. Over 100 people were there in total. In case you missed it, I profiled Castillo back in February. The short version is that he appears to have been a late bloomer, and his numbers at age 24-26 were less impressive than the best Cuban exports. He has great speed, but for some reason his team avoided him playing him in at premium defensive positions. Back then, I would have guessed that he would sign for between $15 and $20 million. Now I think he will get twice that.
A full writeup from his workout is here.
- Mark Appel finally pitched well, was promoted, and threw a bullpen in Houston. Astros players are not pleased, though it all seems perfectly reasonable to me. The discontent does seem indicative of a larger disconnect between the players and the front office. Given the team’s terribleness these past three seasons, that kind of thing is to be expected, I suppose. That the Cubs have largely avoided such incidents is a credit to Theo and Co.
- Is there something in the air in Albuquerque? Earlier this season, Miguel Olivo bit off Alex Guerrero’s ear. Now there’s this, which was prompted by a brushback of Erisbel Arruebarrena.