Series Preview: Cubs v. Braves, August 12 – August 14, 2011

The Chicago Cubs head down to Atlanta to take on one of Mike Quade’s “contenders.” No, seriously. This team is actually a contender.

By way of reminder, the Series Preview hooks you up with what you need to know about every series this year – streaks, broadcast information, pitchers, lineups, etc. That way you can look like a genius, hardcore fan in front of all your friends, with minimum effort. Oh, and there will be pictures of beautiful women, too.

We’re Going Streaking

The Cubs are legitimately one of the hottest teams in baseball, having won 9 of 11, and three straight series.

The Braves have won four straight, and a slightly less impressive 9 of 12. They are 8.5 back in the NL East, but lead in the Wild Card by a full five games.

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Friday, August 12 at 6:35 CT on CSN.
  • Saturday, August 13 at 6:10 CT on WGN.
  • Sunday, August 14 at 12:35 CT on WGN.

Expected Starters and Lineups

These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what actually gets fielded.

Cubs

Starters: Carlos Zambrano (9-6, 4.46), Randy Wells (3-4, 6.05), Matt Garza (5-9, 3.81)

Lineup:

  1. Castro, SS
  2. Barney, 2B
  3. Ramirez, 3B
  4. Pena, 1B
  5. Byrd, CF
  6. Soto, C
  7. Soriano, LF
  8. Colvin, RF (you know, maybe)
  9. Pitcher

Braves

Starters: Mike Minor (1-2, 4.85), Derek Lowe (7-10, 4.78), Brandon Beachy (5-2, 3.43)

Lineup:

  1. Michael Bourn, CF
  2. Martin Prado, LF
  3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
  4. Dan Uggla, 2B
  5. Larry Jones, 3B
  6. Jason Heyward, RF
  7. Alex Gonzalez, SS
  8. David Ross, C
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Despite an 0-fer that ended a nice August hitting streak, Starlin Castro is still going .422/.447/.667 for the month.

I hate to seem like I’m beating up on the guy, but I think it’s important to reshape peoples’ perceptions of Darwin Barney as this sure-thing, young-talent, locked-in-starter at second base. He has ridden an irrational wave of exuberance all year because (1) he wasn’t expected to win the starting job, (2) he had an almost historically-great April, and (3) he plays the game with passion and intelligence. But, I assure you, the wave is irrational: since May 1, Barney is hitting an abysmal .270/.308/.329, making him one of the worst regulars in baseball.

Obviously the guy to watch on the Braves’ side is Dan Uggla. He was hitting under .200 when he started his current 31-game hitting streak, which means that Tyler Colvin is going to now hit in 40-some straight games to end the year. Well, or he would, if he actually got starts.

Mike Minor has been up and down four times this year, and is filling in for Tommy Hanson (though he was originally going to be filling in for Jair Jurrjens – must be nice to have pitching depth, eh?).

The Braves’ bullpen remains disgustingly absurd, with three guys – Eric O’Flaherty, Jonny Venters, and Craig Kimbrel – with ERAs under 1.90. By the way, assuming he makes an appearance, watch Venters’ fastball. The kind of downward movement he gets on that thing despite throwing it in the upper 90s is a thing of beauty. Well, if you’re a Braves fan, anyway.

Series She-View

The Series She-View is one beautiful woman representing the Cubs taking on another (usually) beautiful woman representing the opponent. The Cubs’ representative will change as the team’s needs change – in other words, if the Cubs are winning, the rep will stay the same. But if the Cubs’ performance calls for a change, someone new will step in. The opponent’s representative will change from series to series, at my whim. But at least she’ll probably be wearing the opponent’s colors or have some connection to the team or something like that.

It remains impossible to change the Cubs’ current rep, Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (had you told me in June that the same rep would last five series, I never would have believed it – or, more accurately, I would have assumed I found someone I liked, and was obstinately trotting her out regardless of performance, not unlike the Cubs and James Russell as a starter).

Under her watch, the Cubs put together their first three-game winning streak of the year. And, after a tiny, little five-game losing streak, the Cubs swept a four game series in Pittsburgh, and then won another two series on top of it.

As for the Braves, since Atlanta is the de facto capital of the South, how about a nice Southern girl? Reese Witherspoon it is. To me, she’s about as “pretty” as it gets.

Versus

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

22 responses to “Series Preview: Cubs v. Braves, August 12 – August 14, 2011”

  1. CubFan Paul

    nice point about Barney, im glad you feel the same way! I’ve been eyeing guys with club options for next year – Cano & Philips of the Reds

    Cano is an extension candidate in my book but he would look fabulous in Cubbie pinstripes. so would Brandon Phillips. with the money Cincinnati has thrown around recently Phillips might be one outs with a $12million option looming ..he’s definitely worth 3yrs/$30million on the open market

    1. bazfan1234

      I would love to see Cano in Cubbie pinstripes, but there is no way the Yankees would trade him. That would be the equivolent of the Cubs trading Castro.

  2. willis

    I’ll be there tonight and tomorrow. Yahtzee.

  3. dreese

    From the looks of these girls, it seems like the cubbies will dominate the braves

  4. Seth Majewski

    id rather have pedroia instead of cano

  5. Seth Majewski

    This is unrelated but the cubs really need to dump these crappy veterans in the offseason. Jim Hendry has to realize 75% of this team is not the cubs future. Here is the age of every cubs starter next year if the roster stayed the same.
    C-Geovany Soto, 29
    1B-Carlos Pena, 34
    2B-Darwin Barney,26
    SS-Starlin Castro,22
    3B-Aramis Ramirez,34
    OF-Alfonso Soriano,36
    OF-Marlon Byrd, 34
    OF-Reed Johnson,35(If quade is back dont be suprised, but if not Colvin,26

    SP-Dempster, 35
    SP-Garza,28
    SP-Zambrano,31
    SP-Wells,30
    SP-?Cashner? if not Lopez,36, if not Ortiz,39(if hendry and quade are back anything can happen)

    Baker will be 31,Hill 33. Jim Hendry these guys are NOT a part of the cubs future.

    1. CubFan Paul

      “if” the roster stayed the same.. verrry unrelated. Tell me, when was the last time any roster had no turnover? #justsayin

  6. Jamesjones

    I’ll be there Saturday and Sunday. Holla!

    1. Jeff

      It’s a really cool experience at Turner Field. I lived in Atlanta for a year and went to most of Greg Maddux’s starts in 2002. We always talk about how we should model after Boston’s rebuilding job, but I always admired the way Atlanta has built it’s teams. They homegrow most of their talent, and aren’t afraid to go out and spend on the right players, even though they are selective on who they give big money to. It seems year after year, they are bringing up a new wave of their own guys to help the major league team.

  7. pfk

    Anybody notice the lineup for tonight? Except for Castro, there’s not a kid in it. At this point, its almost as if Quade is doing it on purpose. What on earth do we gain by playing Johnson, Baker, et al? Oh, I forgot, we’re playing “contenders.”

    1. Jeff

      Quade is feeling really good about himself right now. He is winning games, it doesn’t matter to him that his average starting outfielder age is 34, or that this is doing nothing to develop a team for the future. Tell me something, all of you “keep playing Johnson” advocates. If a veteran team finishes 15 or more games below .500 and over 10 games out, what good are you accomplishing by only playing the veterans? Wouldn’t it stand to reason that the team that’s playing together now is going to stinks next year too? Most of these guys are in their 30′s, they aren’t improving, they are declining. If you don’t see this season and the end of last season as wasted opportunities to play and develop young players, I would seriously like to know how you would go about making the team better, because with all the guys we like, and don’t want to see leave, there isn’t room for new players, and there isn’t room for the young ones that are already here to get better. There is a log jam of talent at high A/double A, but they have no where to go, because for some reason, Quade see’s no point in playing young players. If Hendry goes out and blows another 150 million this offseason, we can look forward to more of this cycle of sucking for three or four years and contending once or twice.

      1. TWC

        Jeff, did you just say “log jam”?

        1. Jeff

          I’m not saying it’s completely log jammed, but there are instances. The Cubs are pretty loaded with center field and middle infield prospects. With veterans like Byrd, Baker, DeWitt, Barney, and Reed Johnson on major league team, there is a trickle down effect that forces the Cubs prospects to remain at the same level too long. A lot of people want to see Matt Sczur at Tennessee, but Jae Hoon Ha just got promoted. They were splitting time at Daytona instead of both being on the field full time prior to Jackson’s promotion. I’m not saying they are overloaded, but this problem has been coming up more and more. Wilken and the scouts are stocking the system, there just isn’t a long term franchise wide plan in place for their development. There is a reason that all of the Cubs prospects seem to flame out after showing so much promise.

  8. TSB

    Yeah, let’s get Cano, right after Pujols; while we are at it, let’s get Verlander, and Adrian Gonzalez for bench strength. If some of these Cub fans want to play “fantasy” baseball, then let’s go for it.

  9. Robbo

    I like how the expected starting lineup is “Larry Jones” at 3rd base. At this point in his career he is a Larry. His given name…I know…still funny

  10. TWC

    Which Carlos was just pitching? Zambrano or Silva?

  11. Ralph

    Isn’t everybody pretty sick of Zambrano’s shit at this point. During and following his ejection tonight, he was smirking… really… what’s so funny about getting your ass stomped in? At this point, I’d trade him to Toronto for a case of Molson Ice.

  12. Ramy16

    The Braves are teeing off on zambrano like a little league game…I like big Z but his time is up…Cubs should trade him…I shut the game off after the 4 th inning