The Chicago Cubs avenged some of their more recent losses against the New York Mets with a solid victory Monday night. It was a very enjoyable game with decent pitching, timely hitting, and good defense. It’s almost as if the Cubs are good at baseball.
In the game, Kyle Schwarber, still recovering from his knee injury, showed that he still had the baseball skills intact:
It’s really cool to see Kyle always cheering on his teammates from the best seat in the house while also having tons of fun. I hope they show the dance video again sometime.
As always, there were a few points where fans, media, and random people wondered what Cubs third base coach Gary Jones was thinking. It’s hard to play baseball, and play it well, and it also must be hard to be an effective coach, especially on the bases. I guess confirmation bias suggests that Gary Jones likes sending baserunners to their doom, but a lot of his sends are justifiable even if they don’t work sometimes. The idea is that in certain situations, it is worth the risk to force a perfect throw or a perfect relay from the defense to gun the guy down as he tries to take the extra base. I’m sure there’s some math you can do with run expectancy charts and risk-benefit assessments, but I think many folks thought that the first send, on a Matt Szczur single that got Willson Contreras thrown out at the plate by Yoenis Cespedes, was unwise.
I can understand that point of view, as everyone knows that Cespedes has a cannon of an arm, but sometimes his plays are borne from his own miscues as he has a slight tendency towards goofy bobbles.
In the first send, Willson was barely around third base when Cespedes got to the ball, but Albert Almora was up and I guess Gary Jones decided the risk was worth it. Fine, sure, might as well try, but I don’t think Cespedes even needed an absolutely perfect throw to get Contreras. The throw, of course, was perfect, and thus the runner was cut down.
The second send was also potentially bad, but paid off. Albert Almora lined a single to left directly at Cespedes, and as Szczur made it to third base, Gary Jones continued to send him right as Cespedes got to the ball. Except this time, it went through his legs for a two-base error. A clean retrieval of the ball may have meant Szczur was also dead at the plate, but that would require a perfect throw. I think Cespedes has a bounty of excellent plays, including outfield assists, in his resume to preclude too much foolhardiness, but the miscue from his play to nab Albert Pujols above and in Monday night’s game suggest that forcing a 50/50 play is a good idea.