Anthony Rizzo

Anthony Rizzo calls out Miguel Montero for calling out Jake Arreita

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The morning we posted about Miguel Montero calling out his pitcher, Jake Arrieta, for allowing the Nationals to steal seven bases last night. Our view, of course, was that (a) it wasn’t all Arrieta’s fault; and (b) even if it was, publicly calling out your teammates like that is probably not a great idea and certainly isn’t a good look.

When I saw Montero’s comments I assumed that they would not play well in the Cubs’ clubhouse. I was right about that. Anthony Rizzo appeared on ESPN 1000 in Chicago this morning and had this to say:

Referring to Willson Contreras, of course, who has allowed 31 stolen bases to opponents while behind the dish. Coincidentally, Montero has allowed 31 stolen bases when he has played as well. Contreras has played in 24 more games than Montero, by the way.

I predict that, by around 3pm when the clubhouses open, we’ll see a public apology by Montero.

UPDATE: Guess my prediction was wrong. Montero is going to be designated for assignment.

Anthony Rizzo’s leadoff on-base streak ends

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Cubs manager Joe Maddon moved first baseman Anthony Rizzo into the leadoff spot on Tuesday last week, June 13. The decision immediately paid off as Rizzo led off the game with a no-doubt home run to center field off of Zack Wheeler. It was the start of what would become a trend.

The next day, Rizzo led off the game with a solo home run to left-center off of Matt Harvey. After an off-day, the Cubs opened up a series against the Pirates on Friday and Rizzo led off with a walk against Trevor Williams. On Saturday, he opened the game with a single facing Ivan Nova. He greeted Jameson Taillon with a double to begin Sunday’s game. Rizzo singled off of Clayton Richard to kick off Monday’s series opener against the Padres. And on Tuesday, he led off with a solo home run to center field off of Jhoulys Chacin.

So, coming into Wednesday afternoon’s game versus the Padres, Rizzo was 6-for-6 with two singles, a walk, a double, and three homers in his very first at-bat of a game since being made the Cubs’ lead-off man. Unfortunately for him, he was not able to keep the streak going. After working a 3-0 count to begin Wednesday’s game against Miguel Diaz, Rizzo flied out to Hunter Renfroe in right field.

Entering Wednesday’s action, Rizzo was batting .268/.398/.529 overall with 17 home runs and 47 RBI in 314 plate appearances. The competition is absolutely stacked this year at first base, but Rizzo is right up there and will probably be seen at the All-Star Game next month.

Bruce Bochy: Joe Maddon doesn’t know what he’s talking about regarding catcher collisions

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Joe Maddon is not a fan of any of the rules aimed at protecting fielders from aggressive slides from baserunners. He doesn’t like the rule about breakup slides at second base — he’s reacted angrily when his own baserunners have been involved in controversies surrounding the application of that rule — and he doesn’t like the rule aimed at stopping collisions at home.

Yesterday Joe Maddon took to the airwaves on Chicago’s 670 The Score to defend Anthony Rizzo’s slide into Austin Hedges on Monday night. In the course of his interview, he took new aim at the catcher collision rule, chalking it all up to Buster Posey‘s season ending injury in 2011:

“I’m really confused by why it gained so much attention only except for the fact that Buster Posey got hurt a couple years ago. Other than that, if it was a third-string catcher for the Atlanta Braves that got hurt three years ago, this (rule) wouldn’t even be in existence . . . it’s all precipitated by one play that happened several years ago that to me was just bad technique on the part of the catcher, so that’s where I get really flustered by this conversation, because to me it should not even exist.”

Someone told Giants Bruce Bochy about Maddon’s comments. He didn’t refer to Maddon by name, but his response was pretty pointed for the usually friendly world of manager-on-manager discourse. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

“I don’t really care to visit it. I don’t. Anybody who goes into that, they don’t know what they’re talking about where Buster was at on that play . . . I wish the guys who make these comments were standing there when Todd Greene got hurt and say the same thing.”

Greene was the Giants catcher in the mid-2000s whose career was cut short by a shoulder injury after Prince Fielder plowed into him at home.

Maddon is not entirely wrong with his reference to Posey. The catcher collision rule did not go into effect until three years after Posey’s injury, so it certainly wasn’t some kneejerk reaction to him breaking his leg, but it is fair to say that Posey’s injury significantly moved the ball forward with respect to protecting catchers. Indeed, the conversation about all of that was almost nonexistent before Posey’s injury. Todd Greene did not get people talking about it, that’s for sure. Posey’s injury did.

Beyond that narrow point, however, Maddon is full of crap here. For one thing, Posey did not break his leg because of “bad technique.” He broke it because Scott Cousins intentionally slammed into him while trying to score. A legal play at the time but one which was going to lead inevitably to serious injury. It was a bad setup all around which the collision rule was designed to eradicate. Has it done it perfectly? No, it’s a hard rule to implement, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Beyond that, laying all of this at Buster Posey’s feet, or the feet of a league that allegedly overreacted due to the injury of a superstar, is dumb. Whatever the impetus for the rule — and if it wasn’t Posey, it certainly would’ve been someone else given the radical shift in opinion about concussions and sports injuries in general — it’s a smart rule. Baseball is not a contact sport and a catcher-runner collision is not some necessary part of the game, even if it had become a customary one.

Joe Maddon is a pretty smart guy who gets a lot of kudos for being an open-minded innovator. But this old school streak of his regarding collisions is wrongheaded.