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Matt Garza once again managed not to murder any members of the Chicago Cubs’ bullpen. This time, though, it was because they actually did their job. Carlos Marmol threw a scoreless 9th, striking out two. It probably should have been a perfect 9th if umpire Bob Davidson did not believe the strike zone is shaped like a donut, with a ball-shaped hole right in the center. If there’s one pitcher in baseball who can’t afford missed strike calls, it’s Carlos Marmol. But, he got the job done, and maybe his head is getting right again. Now, about that velocity…

  • Bruce Levine wrote an article earlier this week entitled “Catching surplus could fuel Cubs deal,” which is normally the kind of thing that would get a full writeup. But, I just couldn’t make sense of it after kicking it around a couple days. So it gets a bullet. The article is about how the Cubs have Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill on the big team, but have Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger almost ready at AAA, so maybe the Cubs could trade Geovany Soto. With all due respect, it’s an article that would have made a great deal of sense on, say, July 25. But by August 2, when it was written, it made no sense. Geovany Soto will not clear waivers (as you all know now). At best, he’d be claimed by a team with a crappy record, who isn’t going to offer enough to actually make a trade. Levine talks about the Giants, Braves, and Pirates needing catching help. Soto wouldn’t make it to those teams. Where is Levine’s head at? Am I missing something obvious?
  • Mike Quade still doesn’t sound ready to commit to Starlin Castro in the leadoff spot for the rest of the season. “I don’t know,” he said. “[Castro] looks good in the leadoff spot, and then you know, he doesn’t [hit] and [it's] ‘He looks really good in the two hole,’ and you go round and round. I still go back to the fact that he just hits no matter where you put him.” Yeah. Well. Except that, like, he doesn’t. This year, Castro’s got an .808 OPS batting second, but a mere .573 OPS batting third. Batting first? It’s over .900. Sure, it might just be that he’s happened to be hot when he’s been up top, and happened to be cold when he was batting third. But, for now, just let the kid hit first.
  • MLBTradeRumors offers their most recent guess at the Elias player rankings (which determine Type A/Type B status for free agents, which, in turn, determines whether you can receive draft pick compensation if the player departs), and, of particular note: Carlos Pena is still short of Type B status. It looks like it could be a close call as to whether he gets there by season’s end.
  • One of Paul Sullivan’s mailbag questions makes an interesting point. The Cubs are 19 games under .500, but are 21(ish) games under .500 in games started by the 4th and 5th starters. So, the theory goes, if those back two were merely average, the Cubs could be around .500, which would put them right in the race this year. That could be the source of the 2012 optimism. I don’t see it, mind you (if a team was .500 in games started by its 4th and 5th starters, it better be a whole mess of games over .500 overall, otherwise its 1-2-3 starters are relative crap), but it could be an explanation.
  • Jon Heyman says he’s heard that Jim Hendry and Tom Ricketts are so close on a personal level that Ricketts might retain Hendry at the end of the year. For a variety of reasons, including Ricketts’ comments in Peoria yesterday (about which, more later this morning), and the fact that, in an earlier version of the article, Heyman questioned the Cubs for not trading “catcher Jeff Baker,” I’m not sure how much stock to place in Heyman’s piece.
  • The Cardinals think the Brewers are cheating at home by playing with the light volume in the LED board that wraps around the ballpark (i.e., brighter when the Brewers are batting, dimmer when opponents are batting). No one seems to agree with the Cards, but the Brewers do have extreme home/road splits (41-14 at home and 21-25 on the road (holy crap, those are really, really extreme); and they’re scoring about 5.2 runs per game at home, but just 3.5 per game on the road).
  • Tomorrow is Big Z Foundation Day at Wrigley Field. You can get autographs, get your picture taken with Zambrano, and help out some kids. Details here.
  • Someone pinged me about the Chicago Legends Golf Classic, which also helps out kids, so I thought I’d pass along the link.
  • 1060Ivy

    Is there a team or a stadium that LaDoucha and the Cards don’t bitch about?

    • BT

      my first thought as well.

    • Mike Foster

      I love to hate the Cardinals…and they make it sooo easy!

  • BT

    John Baker was a catcher for the Marlins last year, so I just think Heyman had a brain fart.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You just want him to be right about Hendry…

      :) Just joshin’.

      • BT

        Believe me. I desperately hope his is wrong. I cannot take another year of people moaning about Hendry (regardless of how deserved it is).

        At least a new GM will have at least 2 months where he will get a honeymoon with the fans, until of course the June draft when he drafts someone that everyone hates, because Baseball America had him rated lower.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          From me, the next GM/Pres will get at least a year and a half before I make up my mind (probably much longer). I might snipe at specific things before then, which I think is only fair, but to fully make up your mind before that seems premature.

          Unless, of course, the Cubs hire someone with a long track record of sucking at X, or doing stupid thing Y. And then, it might come much sooner.

          Ah. Fully secured.

  • EQ

    catcher jeff baker huh?? one thing I’m convinced of is that the MLB network cares very little about the Cubs.. they are rarely talked about on that channel and an afterthought at best.. ESPN only cares about NY/Boston and an occasional other team like Philly… it’s hard to listen to people who get paid a ton of money to analyze when they don’t seem to know anything about the team. I’m surprised he didn’t talk about Piniella needing to sit him.

    also, I do think most of why we’re not a .500 team is the 4 & 5 starters being so bad.. not all of the reason but most of it.

    • hardtop

      I’m sure if the Cubs were even vaguely relevant they would get some love from the networks.

      • Ol’CharlieBrown

        Yep, we’re so far out of it, they basically have nothing to say about us. Especially as it gets later in the season, the major networks seem to only focus on the teams that actually have a reasonable chance of making it to the post season. I remember the last time I made it out to Chicago to go to 2 Cubs games at Wrigley in September of 2009. I remember sitting in my hotel room one night after I had been to a game earlier that evening. I was watching SportsCenter, hoping to see the highlights of the game I had been to. Nothing though. I watched the whole show and they showed highlights of what ‘seemed’ like every other game that day except the Cubs and Brewers game I had been to. I couldn’t believe they hadn’t shown any highlights or anything. The more I thought about it, I understood that it was September and the Cubs were out of contention and the only teams they were showing were ones who were still relevant.

    • auggie1955

      I think MLB Network does a good of not being too biased toward east coast teams. Let’s face it, the Cubs outright suck and do not deserve a lot of attention.

  • Spencer

    I’m really not down with the idea of having Koyie Hill be the everyday catcher and have him be backed up by Castillo. Castillo did not really look “close to ready” while he was up earlier this year. We’ll see him in September when the roster expands probably, and maybe the Cubs will decide something then. Because, as everyone knows, meaningless games in September against mediocre opponents is what really important decisions for the future should be based on.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      No one should ever be down with Koyie Hill being the everyday anything. Especially the wood shop teacher.

      • Fishin Phil

        Ouch!

      • Spencer

        epic

    • hardtop

      unless they can get something phenominal in trade (not likely now w/knowledge of how waivers work), keep geo, send koyie packing, castillo gets his legs as back-up, and lets us evaluate his talent. no reason to keep koyie at this point, he’s a super nice dude, but not a good enough baseball player, or carpenter.

  • Internet Random

    “The Cubs are 19 games under .500, but are 21(ish) games under .500 in games started by the 4th and 5th starters.”

    Interesting, but also relevant is our crappy RISP avg. Of course, I suppose there are many also-relevants.

  • Jeff

    Honestly, I almost wouldn’t mind if Hendry stepped up into the president job and then hired a young gm to take over personnel decisions. Let Hendry take over for the Tribune lawyer, he almost has to be an upgrade, and he does know his baseball stuff. If he was in an advisory role, I think it would limit his reactionary nature and allow him to focus on the long term plans of the team instead of the short term results and saving his job. He seems to have a good network of support, I see no reason to waste it and the relationship he has with the scouts. On that note, Quade has to go, he is a poor teacher, kind of stupid, and seems lost most of the time.

    If you look through his stats Brett, Castro’s slumps have actually been a direct reaction to being put in the three spot for more than a game or two. I don’t know if it’s his approach at the plate, but the guy clearly is a top of the order guy. I know he doesn’t take a lot of walks, but he makes lots of contact, which is perfect for being a # 2 hitter. Quade doesn’t like him batting leadoff, because of, you know, those hit things he keeps on getting, and those weird, not 2 game winning streaks they have had recently. The players are totally rebelling against his strategy of capping win streaks at two games.

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