September 30, 2015


Theo Epstein is cruising toward the end of his Cubs contract in 2016. Tom Ricketts said this week he would talk to Epstein about an extension "pretty soon."  But will he?

Ricketts also said this week despite the Cubs on-field success,  added revenues from attendance and TV ratings does not mean that next year's team’s payroll will greatly rise.

Ricketts told reporters  "Theo [Epstein] will have some resources this offseason,” Ricketts said.  “But I don’t know how (much). And I’m not sure he’ll find something he wants to do with ‘em. It’s up to him….Obviously, winning helps the payroll analysis, (but) it’s not about payroll anymore.  The fact is, the correlation between the dollars you spend and the wins you get on the field is going down every single year.  So in order to have sustainable success, you can’t count on money. You have to count on young talent. You’ve seen what we’ve done. We’ve gone out and built the best facilities in baseball. We’ve scouted well. We’ve drafted well. I think we’re developing well."

There have been critics, such as myself, who disagreed with the Epstein rebuild philosophy: tank for several seasons, get high draft choices, overspend in the international market and sell "hope" in the future.  As a big money market team, the Cubs could have done a balanced rebuild: emphasize scouting, player development and sign free agents to continue to be a competitive team. The Yankees follow that plan. Even the Cardinals follow that plan.

But perhaps Epstein was secretly handcuffed into doing a "cheap" rebuild through the draft, and left with fielding major league teams with journeymen players.

You never hit on all your prospects. And as good as the new kids have been, more often than not the league will catch up to them. Jorge Soler has a full year in the majors, and his progress has stalled. Kyle Schwarber looked lights out hitting above .300 but now has faded to the .240s. There will still be growing pains on the roster.

But the way Epstein drafted to build this team was to use high picks on the best hitters available. This works okay, but it leaves a deficit in pitching (even though in the last 3 drafts, almost 50% of the draftees have been pitchers - - - Epstein has failed to develop and promote one Cub drafted pitching prospect.) The Mets have used the opposite approach: focus on developing young arms and then buy hitters in free agency.

Epstein is stuck with trying to find solutions to a pitching staff that seems to have fallen backwards. The bullpen has been overtaxed; Maddon is not using everyone in the pen in September; and the No. 3, 4, and 5 starters have been less than stellar. There are no stud pitching prospects in the Cubs farm system.

If the Cubs are going to be competitive in 2016, there has to be a major resource commitment to pitching, expensive pitching. But Ricketts has already forewarned that the payroll is not going to rise significantly. That means no David Price, Zack Greinke or Jordan Zimmerman. 

So the writing may be already on the new brick outfield wall. The Cubs may not be in a position to spend more money to be more competitive in 2016. The Ricketts are funneling resources into the vast real estate development outside the ball park under the guise of "saving" Wrigley Field for the fans. 

Will Epstein even want to stay when the baseball operations are tied by the business side, Crane Kenney and Ricketts? 

In many situations, the President of the baseball team talks directly to the owner to set a baseball budget. Then it is the President that administers the budget.  But in the Cubs case, the financials are handled by non-baseball people. It is like a little kid asking his parents for an increase in his allowance. And with the large debt load and construction costs, daddy Ricketts is keeping his coin purse clamped shut.

With the Cubs success this year, one would have thought that Epstein and Jed Hoyer's contracts would have been locked up by September 1st. What more do they have to prove to ownership? A World Series championship?

During the ill-timed wild card celebration, it was Ricketts who moved center stage to celebrate the "organization's" triumph, the return to post-season play. There may be a power struggle and self-conceit on the business side for the success of the baseball team. And that type of strain Epstein is familiar with: it happened to him in Boston. 

The Cubs turnaround puts Epstein in Golden Boy status. He can hit the open market and get his value and more importantly, more control of an organization. There are several big spending teams that are in the market for young, aggressive baseball men - - - Toronto and Seattle. And no one really knows how long the Yankees will keep Brian Cashman, even though he signed an extension through 2017. Epstein winding up with the Yankees would be the ultimate payback against the Red Sox.

If Epstein stays with the Cubs, expect that he will try to wrestle more business control from Ricketts. But realize that Ricketts is more invested in turning Wrigley Field and its real estate into a year round entertainment complex (maximizing revenue) than spending more money on one tenant, the Cubs. 

September 28, 2015


It looks like an old fashioned, Old West Wild Card Duel.

Jake Arrieta against Gerrit Cole on October 7, 2015 in the wild card game.

Arrieta has faced the Pirates 5 times this season. His record is 3-1.

Over 36 IP, he has allowd 18 H, 3 ER, 8 BB, 33 K for a 0.722 WHIP.

Cole has faced the Cubs 4 times this season. His record is 2-1.

Over 25.1 IP, Cole has allowed 20 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 32 for a 0.947 WHIP.

Arrieta has an ERA against the Pirates of 0.75.
Cole has an ERA against the Cubs of 2.13 ERA.

Arrieta has walked more Pirates per game than Cole.
Cole has more strikeouts per game than Arrieta.

But based on the metrics, Arrieta seems to have an advantage in the Wild Card game over Cole.

But there are variables in play. Arrieta has been getting better as the season has progressed. The home plate umpire and the unpredictable strike zone can either help or hurt the pitcher. And it may come down to defense. Depending on Maddon's choices, Pirates would have an advantage in defensive WAR.

The Cubs-Pirates Wild Card game clearly is going to be a low scoring, old school pitcher's duel.

September 26, 2015


Any player on the team's 40 man Reserve List (or on designated disabled list) is eligible for post-season play if he was on the 40 man roster prior to midnight on August 31. Clubs have already submitted to the league office their playoff player lists.

This is important because a couple of Maddon's late September go-to guys like reliever Trevor Cahill are not currently eligible. Cahill would only be on a playoff roster if there is an injury to a player eligible for the playoffs.

So it stands that the critical wild card game will come down to 15 players selected from this list:

Jake Arrieta
Dallas Beeler
Carl Edwards Jr
Justin Grimm
Jason Hammel
Dan Haren
Kyle Hendricks
Tommy Hunter
* Eric Jokisch
* Jon Lester
Yoervis Medina
Jason Motte
Neil Ramirez
* Clayton Richard
Fernando Rodney
Hector Rondon
* Zac Rosscup
Pedro Strop
Jacob Turner
* Tsuyoshi Wada
* Travis Wood

>>>>> For the Wild Card game, the Cubs only need to activate ONE starter, either Arrieta or Lester. Most people believe Arrieta will get the call, leaving Lester to throw Game 1 in the divisional series. 
 The rest of the roster would be made up of 10 bullpen arms and 14 position players.

The bullpen arms would be: Grimm, Ramirez, Motte, Richard, Strop, Wada, Wood, Rondon, Hunter and Rodney.

* Miguel Montero
David Ross
* Kyle Schwarber

>>>>> All three catchers make the wild card game roster.

: 9
# Arismendy Alcantara
Javy Baez
Kris Bryant
Starlin Castro
# Jonathan Herrera
* Tommy LaStella
* Anthony Rizzo
Addison Russell
Christian Villanueva

>>>>> Infield starters will be Bryant, Russell, Castro and Rizzo.
The bench infielders would be Baez and LaStella.

* Quintin Berry
* Chris Coghlan
Chris Denorfia
# Dexter Fowler
Austin Jackson
Jorge Soler
Matt Szczur

>>>>> This leaves 5 outfield spots.
Schwarber may start in LF against Cole so the other two will probably be Fowler and Soler.
The bench OF slots would be Coghlan, Denorfia, Jackson and Szczur.

September 24, 2015


After Jake Arrieta's complete game, 20th win, I thought of the last dominating Cubs pitcher in a playoff push. Rick Sutcliffe.

Sutcliffe came in a mid season trade with Cleveland.

For the Cubs in 1984, he went 16-1, 2.69 ERA, 1.078 WHIP and 3.9 WAR.

In the playoffs, he went 1-1, 3.38 ERA in 13.1 IP for 1.1275 WHIP.
The Cubs only used 8 pitchers in the Padre series. Sutcliffe won Game 1 of the series,

and was tagged with the Game 5 loss.

This year, Arrieta is 20-6, 1.88 ERA, 0.902 WHIP and 8.0 WAR (MVP caliber ranking).

Arrieta has dominated hitters with his unbelievable command. His WHIP is 44% better than the league average 1.30. As I watched him mow down the Brewers, I saw a very small trait which shows why he is so good this season. Arrieta's delivery is across his body, something that pitching coaches abhor because it leads to arm and shoulder issues. Pitching coaches teach a straight line delivery toward the plate. Arrieta has a quiet compensation that works for him. As he does a slight rocking motion on the rubber, he clears his left hip slightly which lessens the arm angle across his chest.

The hip rotation, like in a golf swing, generates more power.

This simple technique is very repeatable and works for all four of his pitches. With the same release point with command of four plus pitches, Arrieta has become one of the best pitchers in the majors.

The Cubs, 89-62 after Arrieta's win, are 15 games above my preseason prediction. Little did we know that the front office would promote the new young core of Russell, Schwarber and Baez to the majors this season. Arrieta is a big part of the surprising win total. In 2014, he only had 10 wins. He has already doubled that total this year.

Whether Arrieta is an MVP candidate will be philosophically debated by the sports writers. But clearly, Arrieta's presence on the mound has helped create a winning atmosphere in the Cubs locker room.  He is the Cubs' MVP.

September 23, 2015


From the NY Post:

TORONTO – David Price remind you of anyone?

A lefty who combines the qualities of both a workhorse and an ace. A guy with a Cy Young in the bank. A No. 1 starter traded during his walk year, excelling for a franchise (the Blue Jays) that has not been to the postseason in ages (since 1993).

He is pretty much the closest thing to CC Sabathia since Sabathia, a lefty workhorse ace who had won a Cy Young when he was traded in his walk year (2008) to a Brewers team he spearheaded to its first playoff berth since 1982.

The Yankees essentially planned for 12 months to move heaven, earth and ultimately $161 million to assure they signed Sabathia, and now Sabathia looms as a major reason why the Yankees will probably not even be in play for Price this offseason.

No matter what has happened the past few years, I believe Sabathia was a superb signing — and ultimately re-signing — for the Yankees. He was the ace on a champion (2009), a terrific competitor and a clubhouse stabilizer.

But he is part of an older, expensive group (with Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, in particular) that has spooked even the usually aggressive factions of the Yankees hierarchy about lavish long-term contracts – particularly for pitchers in their 30s with big workloads. Price turned 30 in August and has thrown the fourth-most innings in the majors since 2010.

Price’s brilliance with the Blue Jays has done much to assure he gets at least the seven-year, $210 million pact Max Scherzer received last offseason. The Blue Jays have never given a free-agent contract of more than five years, and no one expects incoming team president Mark Shapiro – with his conservative background in Cleveland – to alter that, though the groundswell to keep Price in Toronto will be similar to the clamor for Yoenis Cespedes in Queens.

>>>> The article makes some valid points, which all teams, including the Cubs, should take into consideration during the winter free agent market.

The Cubs already banked $155 million on an "ace," Jon Lester, who has been good but not as good as Jake Arrieta. Price is expected to get at least $210 million. It is hard to imagine that the Cubs "business" people will want to tie up $365 million on two pitchers in their 30s.

Jerry Reinsdorf always put his foot down on any long term pitching contract. He feared pitchers broke down more than hitters; and that even without injury, pitchers sometimes lose their stuff. But agents and the market frenzy has driven up contact years from 3 or 4 to 7 to 10. The back end of the contracts seem to have a tendency to be "dead money" that hampers teams from making moves in the future.

The Yankees were the poster child for big spending, high profile free agent signings. But things started to change when the team did not re-sign their own guy, Robinson Cano. The front office has started to believe in taking compensation and regular draft picks to shore up their long term roster holes. Sabathia's deal is haunting them to play it more conservatively with free agents.

Whether other teams have "buyer's remorse" over past free agent deals is another question. If a GM can convince an owner that the team is one player away from a title, then it is possible to green light potential dead money deal.

September 22, 2015


Every person has priorities in life.

Some have the pursuit of happiness. Some have the pursuit of a meaningful career. Some have the pursuit of a meaningful community service or legacy. Some have the pursuit of money.

The Cubs had three errors last night, including one that was charged to Starlin  Castro at second base. But Cubs manager Joe Maddon did not hold Castro liable, saying a ball hit by Adam Lind took "a bad hop."

Maddon blamed Wrigley Field conditions on a recent rock concert held at the venue. "Since the AC/DC concert, (field conditions) have been trouble. I don't know if they were out there taking infield before the game. But it totally messed up our infield."

And this is a valid point for the critics of Tom Ricketts plan to turn Wrigley Field into a year round, multipurpose entertainment venue. Wrigley Field was built as a baseball park. It withstood the onslaught of multipurpose, concrete mushroom municipal stadiums that took over professional sports. It was a historical icon for the fading American past time.

But one error in the infield could cost the Cubs a victory. And one victory could cost the Cubs a season (especially in a one game, winner-take-all wild card.)

But it is clear with all the "renovations" and "modernization" of Wrigley Field and the surrounding properties, the Cubs are not a priority to the Ricketts family. The Cubs are merely another tenant, or show, at the property. Rock concerts and that revenue stream is just as important as the baseball crowds. And with the plan to add football and other fall sports inside Wrigley, one can foresee Wrigley Field becoming the second coming of the bad Soldier Field turf complex.

And don't be fooled by the myth that the extra revenue is going into the Cubs treasury to build a winning team. The other Wrigley revenue streams are going into the other Ricketts family business ventures.

Long time fans are worried that this Maddon magical season has not had its "Cubbie occurrence" yet. It would be ironic that a torn up infield due to a rock concert could cost the Cubs a post season game and the rare chance for a pennant run.

September 21, 2015


I put the Sunday loss to the Cardinals on the coaches.

With only one out, sending Rizzo to the plate on a short hit to RF where Heyward came up throwing a strike to Molina at the plate, killed the Cub rally.  The Cardinals pitching was on the ropes with control issues. But Maddon said he thought it was the right send because it would have taken a couple more hits to score.

The Cubs have had enough plate discipline to take walks and move the batting order deep into innings. The comeback was quashed with the play at the plate. (Molina was hurt and will have an MRI on his thumb. This may be a blessing for the Cardinals, because some fans think Cruz is now a better catcher-hitter than Molina.)

Still, winning 2 out of 3 in a bean ball, hotly contested series with the divisional leader was a good one for the Cubs. Maddon said afterward that his team now believes that it is as good as St. Louis. This had the feel of playoff baseball.

Ironically, the Cubs and Cardinals have never played against each other in a post season game.

This year seems to heading toward a possible show down if the Cubs can beat the Pirates in the wild card game.

It seemed that 99% of the world believes that Arrieta will start the Pittsburgh game. I thought that too, even after Lester got pushed around early in yesterday's contest. But if Arrieta wins the wild card game, he is lost until Game 3 of the Cardinal NLDS.

If the Cubs paid Lester $155 million for his post-season experience, Lester should be the one to throw the wild card game (on a short leash). That means Arrieta could start in three NLDS games, if necessary (as this year's Giant ace Bumgartner did last year).

The playoff pitching assignments will be the most telling thing Maddon will do all year. And the ramification of the decision will be discussed for decades.

September 16, 2015


Jeff Samardzija bet on himself this year. He desperately wanted to get into the free agent market at the end of the season to capture one big money contract. He allegedly turned down an $85 million offer from the Cubs. Then the Cubs traded him to Oakland in a package that landed Addison Russell.

The White Sox traded for Samardzija in the hopes that he would be the right handed #2 starter on a team built to win this year. Both notions have failed terribly.

Samardzija, 30, has made 30 starts this season. He is 9-13, 5.27 ERA, 1.354 WHIP and negative 0.6 WAR.

By our estimation, Samardzija has cost himself at least $49 million. He was looking for ace money ($22 million/year) but he will not be in the class of a Greinke or Price. A #2 starter who is young may command $15 million/year. A very good veteran #3 starter may get around $12 million.

In fact, Samardzija has the current track record to be classified more as a #4 starter than a #2. We estimate the Shark may be fielding offers of 3 years/$36 million this off-season based on this year's performance.

But that may be even high. Jason Hammel, the Cubs #3 starter (who has had his recent troubles) is 8-6, 3.73 ERA, 1.149 WHIP and 1.8 WAR. Hammel, 33, will be making $9 million in 2016.

Joe Maddon has been betting on his own magic to lead the Cubs to the playoffs. But he is getting caught up in his player moves on the field which leads to Dusty Baker like bullpen decisions. Maddon seems to have decided to ride Grimm, Strop and Rondon through September even though he has many more arms in the pen when a starter falters. Why he did not start Richards or Wada for the "bullpen" game is debatable; but now in the heat of the wild card race, he is not using Hunter, Edwards, Wada, Ramirez, or Medina hardly at all.

Maddon may not trust most of his bullpen arms, but in September you have to or things will unravel. The Cubs are really down to a two man rotation, Arrieta and Lester. Hammel Hendricks, and Haren are struggling to get through 5 innings a start. You need fresh arms to eat up innings to get to Rondon in the 9th.

He has gotten his position players to buy in to the platoon, "match up" situations even though Schwarber should be playing more since his bat is the most consistent weapon at the top of the line up. Maddon has more pieces to add late in a game for defensive purposes (Baez, LaStella, Jackson). He needs to put as much attention into making the bullpen as strong as his bench.

September 14, 2015


Joe Maddon decided to "save" Dan Haren for Sunday's game. So he utilized a "bullpen" game for Saturday's contest. The weather was iffy, so he decided not to waste a starter with a potential rain delay. And with another double header up against Pittsburgh, he wanted to keep Arrieta and Lester available for that series. Those are all valid reasons.

But how he went about executing his plan was debatable.

The Cubs have 34 players on the roster, including a stretched out starter in Wada and long reliever in Richard. Either of those two could have started the game and pitch 3 or more innings. But Maddon decided to go with ex-starter Wood, then with Cahill (a former starter). That seemed to work well, until Maddon replaced Cahill with Grimm. Grimm is too much like Cahill. Richard had been warming up, so I thought at the time Richard would have been a better choice (lefty-righty then lefty). Grimm got wild and hammered around and the bullpen could not right the game.

In retrospect, it probably would have been better to start Wada, and if he had rust, then go Wood, Cahill, Richard to get to the back of the pen.

Maybe Maddon was not concerned since the Phils were playing their AAA team for most of the series. But a split series against the Phils feels like a major loss this late in the season. The Giants have now pulled within 7.5 games of the Cubs in the wild card. Plus, the time was to pounce on the struggling Cardinals.

September 12, 2015


The Cubs are holding a "lottery" for 2015 playoff tickets.

The Cubs have a 99 percent chance of making the wild card play in game.

The Cubs have decided to have a lottery for post season tickets. The lottery page screen:

There are a couple points to be made:

1. Despite what the Cubs marketing department has said, the team did not sell enough season ticket packages to have a built in base for all the post-season tickets. The league and opposing team are given a large block of playoff tickets to give to player families, league staff and baseball national sponsors. It is more probable than not that the Cubs lost many season ticket holders this year because of three years of bad teams at high prices and the bleachers being closed for construction early in the season.

2. The lottery page is a blatant data mining operation. If it was a pure lottery, none of the questions is relevant for your chances to "win" the ability to purchase nose bleed seats at inflated prices. If the Cubs are trying to weed out the die hard fan from the scalper, then just open the ticket windows at 6 a.m. one morning and see the true die hards line up. The team has not announced how many tickets are actually available for each playoff game, so thousands of people may be signing up with no chance of getting a ticket. But in order to feed off the high expectations of the fan base, the team is milking their fans to get valuable data to use or re-sell on the secondary information market.

September 11, 2015


MLBTR reported that he Phillies announced they will not extend the contract of general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. According to a team press release, assistant GM Scott Proefrock will take over as interim GM, effective immediately.

“It’s never an easy decision to make a change,” said president-to-be Andy MacPhail in the press release. “Ruben has had a direct impact on some of the best years in the team’s history. He helped to create some great memories for Phillies fans with his accomplishments, but in order to return to a top-contending club, we believe this is the right thing to do as we continue the rebuilding process.”
The writing has been on the wall for quite some time that Amaro’s days as GM were numbered. It’s been widely expected that in the wake of the team’s collapse over the past four seasons, MacPhail would seek to hire a new GM to guide the Phillies — possibly one that will bring a stronger commitment to analytics to the organization.

Amaro, 50, has been the Phillies’ general manager since the 2008 offseason, when he succeeded Pat Gillick. The Phillies made a World Series run in Amaro’s first full year as GM, ultimately coming up short to the Yankees, and went on to reach the postseason in the 2010 and 2011 campaigns as well. However, a number of the trades made by Amaro that were aimed at keeping the team in contention served, instead, to only deplete the farm system while failing to pay significant on-field dividends.

This is the second major organizational move since MacPhail was hired. Ryne Sandberg abruptly resigned from field manager position.

With the Phillies now in the hunt for a GM, that creates five such openings around the league. The Angels, Mariners, Red Sox and Brewers are all on the hunt for new general managers as well, meaning there will be a significant amount of baseball operations changes in the coming months. Not only will each team employ a new GM, but those five newly minted executives will undoubtedly have some changes in store for the baseball operations departments and the field staffs which they’ll inherit upon taking their new roles.

The Cubs Jed Hoyer is believed to be high on the GM candidate lists.

September 3, 2015


When they post the Cubs lineup, one has to notice that the team batting average is sinking toward a collective .248.

Yes, there are flashes like Bryant's three hit game or Schwarber hitting a late inning home run.

But there is not a .300 starter in the lineup. That is a major concern.

When playoff pressure ramps up, pitchers can use it against hitters. That is why you rarely see blow-out playoff games.

Through 131 games:

4981 PA
4419 AB
538 Runs scored
1066 Hits
137 HR
511 RBI
80 SB
.241 BA
.318 OBP
.393 SLG
15.3 WAR

In this stretch run, pitching, defense and timely hitting will be the keys.

Besides Arrieta and Lester, the rest of the rotation is meh. Hammels has been pulled quickly in his last three starts and Haren is below par. Wada will probably take his place in the rotation. Defense is a concern with so many players not playing their natural position (Coghlan and Castro at second; Schwarber in LF, Bryant in RF). Baez playing second could help, but he looks like his old K-Machine at the plate.

September 2, 2015


I predicted in spring training that the Cubs would win 74 games. After three lackluster seasons of bad, I assumed the front office would keep the slow pace of prospect development down on the farm. Kris Bryant would have to get 500 AB in AAA this season. Addison Russell would split time between AA and AAA. Kyle Schwarber would learn to catch a full season in the minors.

So, many people thought the Cubs would scrub through 2015 with another journeyman roster of place holders.

Yes, the Cubs did reach the predicted 74 wins mark.

But there is still a month to go in the season.

The team is still 5.5 games ahead of the Giants for the wild card berth. With 4.5 weeks to go, it is doubtful that the Giants will catch the Cubs (based on the formula a team realistically can shave one game per week).

So the Cubs exceeded expectations. They will get the benefit of an expanded wild card to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008. They have a real "ace" starter in Jake Arrieta to throw that elimination game in Pittsburgh. People are excited for the Cubs. Cubbernaut!!

A few old timers still think there is going to be a "Cubbie occurrence" in September. The doomslayers come out when the team loses four in a row (even after winning five in a row). If the Cubs go .500 for the next 32 games, the club reaches 90 wins (a 21.6 percent improvement over the spring training prediction).

Bryant, Russell and Schwarber have all made in impact on the team. All of them have had their ups and downs which is expected of rookies. How they make adjustments and learn to be professionals is what the Maddon magic is all about. If Maddon can hold together the club with the pressures of September (he already started by managing games in August like their were short playoff series games), then the Cubs will continue to exceed expectations.

September 1, 2015


The Cubs made a playoff roster move at the deadline.

The Cubs acquired  outfielder Austin Jackson and a cash consideration from the Seattle Mariners for a player to be named later and an international signing bonus slot.

Jackson had been hitting .272 with eight homers, 18 doubles, 38 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, 46 runs scored and a .699 OPS in 107 games for Seattle. He bats right-handed and plays center field. He is 28 and in position to become a free agent after this season.
“I’ve seen him for a long time in the American League,” Joe Maddon said. “When he starts swinging the bat well, he’s very productive. A fine outfielder, good baserunner, kind of a complete player. So to be able to pick him up right now, I think we’re very fortunate.”

To make room for Jackson on the 40-man roster, the Cubs designated infielder Mike Olt for assignment.

Jackson is an upgrade on the bench. He gives Maddon a speed option and more platoon moves.

Maddon, with the roster expansion today, will start to yank pitchers quicker. (Last night he could have removed Kyle Hendricks in a jam, but left him in. It cost the Cubs runs.)

Maddon may start an odd play-off moves/exhibition game hybrid managing style. I assume he will make more early game moves on the fly like he did last night moving players into new or unfamiliar positions like Starlin Castro at second (3 errors last night) or Tommy LaStella playing third with Kris Bryant in right field.

It is better to keep Bryant at third and play Jackson in RF.

Maddon will have to rest some of his young players in the heat of the pennant chase this month. Kyle Schwarber looked rusty behind the plate after patrolling left field in August. But you also need to put your players in the best position to succeed so leaving players at their natural position is a key in September play off run.