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.