Series Preview: Chicago Cubs

metscubs

Oh, that’s right. Things went pretty well last time the Mets played the Cubs.

We’re a game into the Cubs series (after a heart pumping win!), but that’s not going to stop us from taking a look at the rest of the series.

Headlines

Nationally swept: The offensive brown out continued, as the Mets dropped all three games against the Nationals. Curtis Granderson left game two with a strained calf, adding insult to injury.

Bingo are their name-0: Both Juan Lagares and Jose Reyes have continued their rehab and ramp-up efforts, respectively, with the AA Binghamton Mets. Cheating a look at Thursday’s results, the two combined to go 1-8. Buuut it’s minor leagues, so who cares, right? …Right?

Midsummer Classic ruminations: In case you forgot, as reigning National League champions, Terry Collins will be helming the National League All-Star team. Collins intimated that Noah Syndergaard is on his pitching staff short list with Clayton Kershaw on the DL.

Know Your Foe

cnAs the Cubs come to town, we have the pleasure of chatting with John Arguello of Chicago Now’s Cubs Den, a fantastic resource for Cubs info, opinions, and fan interaction.

It seems like the Cubs have been scuffling a bit as of late (as much as a 50-26 team can really “scuffle”). Have there been any red flags during this little stretch, or is it just a regular old slump?

I see it as more of just a regular old slump.  The Cubs were in most of the games they lost during that stretch.  Nobody expected them to play .700 ball all season and suddenly it was just the little things that weren’t going their way as it had so often all season.  If there is a concern, it is the bullpen and the Cubs certainly have the depth to address that need via trade if necessary.

At last glance, the entire starting infield for the All-Star game is made of Cubs. Obvious ballot stuffing aside, do you think there’s a legitimate argument to be made for them all to deserve starting roles in the All-Star game?

I think you can make a legitimate argument for Bryant, Zobrist, and Rizzo.  Addison Russell is a great defensive SS with considerable offensive potential — but he is not there yet.  Cubs fans are excited about their team for the first time since the 2008 season, remember they didn’t take off until after the All-Star Break last year, so I think it is just fans excited and wanting to see their favorite players in that game.

Hard to fault them for that – just a product of the voting system! You have to be pleased with the depth of the farm – being able to pull up potential major contributors like Wilson Contreras and Albert Almora is quite a luxury. Is there any temptation to go for broke and trade them for major names heading towards the deadline? Or are you more content to play the long game?

They’re deep enough to do both.  They’re not trading Contreras and extremely unlikely to deal Almora as well.  The Cubs have so much depth still at AAA that they don’t need to trade players who are currently contributing to the MLB team.  There are three top 10 level prospects in the everyday AAA lineup already in Jeimer Candelario, Mark Zagunis, and Dan Vogelbach.  Their AA team features perhaps their top prospect of all in Ian Happ.  It also features prospects like Billy McKinney (top 10 last year) and Victor Caratini, a switch-hitting catcher, a position that many teams lack in their system, but he is blocked here by Contreras.

Gleyber Torres, considered their top prospect by many, is putting up solid numbers as a 19 year old SS in the advanced A Carolina league, traditionally among the toughest for hitters.  He may well be in AA sometime this season.  Getting MLB ready or near ready level hitters with starting potential is a coup for any team looking to rebuild and the Cubs have more of that commodity than any team in baseball right now and they don’t have to touch their MLB roster to present a formidable package that will be difficult for any team to top.

That. Is an embarrassment of riches. Chicago is of course home to Goose Island. Do they still rule the roost, or do you prefer another local option (or options)?

Goose Island has been bought out by Budweiser and they get all the perks that go with it, so the beer is very ubiquitous around Chicago.  We also have Half Acre Beer, which is less well known but more of an underground favorite for beer enthusiasts.  Daisy Cutter is probably their most popular beer.  A bit further off in NW Indiana, there is Three Floyd’s and it has a pretty loyal following.  Gumball Head is a favorite of mine and their limited availability Zombie Dust would have people waiting in line around the corner at times.

What’s your plan of action for drinking ahead of and/or at a Cubs game?

I’m a whiskey guy, specifically single malt scotch, so I like to have one during the game. The latest bottle I got was the Ardbeg Corryvreckan, but I save that for big occasions.  The Ardbeg 10 year is also delicious and probably what I will have – and more appropriate for an everyday scotch. As for beer, we recently moved to Arizona, so I don’t have access to many Chicago beers now, so if I have a follow up beer to my whiskey, there are pretty good choices out here in the valley as well as in neighboring states.  I like to have a little San Tan Devil’s Ale and Ballast Point Sculpin on hand, but I don’t want to steal the thunder from your Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Padres, and Giants previews!

I spotted San Tan at Total Wine in, of all places, Orlando, FL. I jumped at the opportunity to try their Sex Panther Porter on title alone. Beer distribution sure is a funny thing.

Thanks again to John for talking Cubbie Blue with us!

Standings & Probables

Nationals 47-32 .595
Marlins 41-37 .526
Mets 40-37 .519
Phillies 35-45 .438
Braves 27-51 .346

Thursday, June 30 Steven Matz (7-3 3.29 ERA) vs. Jon Lackey (7-4 3.27 ERA)

Friday, July 1 Jacob deGrom (3-4 2.67 ERA) vs. Jason Hammel (7-4 2.58 ERA)

Saturday, July 2 Bartolo Colon (6-4 2.86 ERA) vs. Jake Arrieta (12-2 2.10 ERA)

Sunday, July 3 Noah Syndergaard (8-3 2.49 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (9-3 2.03 ERA)

Beer From the Bad Guys

Goose Island Brewing Co. – Père Jacques

For the last Chicago Series Preview (against the White Sox), I drank a different vintage bottle aged Goose Island offering, Pepe Nero. I found Pepe Nero to be sufficient, if not particularly inspired. Père Jacques, in stark contrast, is much more up my alley.

This bottle was a 2013 vintage that I’ve been “cellaring” in my basement for a little over a year. As with Pepe Nero, Goose Island suggests up to five years, so I was heading towards needing to crack it open anyway. Père Jacques pours a cloudy dark burgundy, with smooth dark fruit in the nose.

Smooth is certainly right. Plenty of fig and plum, with virtually no alcohol heat. The mouthfeel is remarkably smooth. Dark fruit sweetness heads into the finish, which is clean as a whistle.

gipjScouting Report (20-80 scale)

See: 65

Smell: 70

Taste: 70

Feel: 75

Overall: 70

PJ is one of the easiest drinking dark Belgian dubbels I’ve ever had. Belgium clearly has the market cornered on the dubbels, tripels, and quads, but if this were a bling taste test, I certainly would have assumed this was among the finest Belgium had to offer. It’s a darn shame Goose Island’s not making this one anymore. Grab one while you can. LGM!

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