Man, oh, man was I salty all evening yesterday. Rationally, I know all the “it’s just one game,” “it was a close game against a great pitcher and the Nats blew a bunch of opportunities early,” etc., stuff. But I can never help myself: when the Cubs lose, it pisses me off for a while. Usually I have to sleep it off.
- Dale Sveum is getting a lot of grief for his decisions to (1) take Ryan Dempster out in favor of Kerry Wood with two outs in the 8th, and (2) stick with Wood after he’d already walked two and thrown a wild pitch. On the first one, I just can’t agree. Dempster was at 108 pitches, and, although he’d just struck out the last batter, it was a loooong at bat, during which it looked like Dempster was laboring. Sveum came to the mound and conferenced before making the decision to pull Dempster (meaning Dempster didn’t exactly convince Sveum he should stay in the game). Ryan Zimmerman was coming up, and he’d already crushed the ball twice off of Dempster. Going to Wood was the right move. On that second criticism, I see a little more meat there, but, at the same time, Wood didn’t get a couple very close calls, and, on another day, one of those walks easily could have been a K.
- On those would-be bombs to Zimmerman, Dempster says he was using the wind to his advantage. “You pitch to the elements,” Dempster said. “Ryan Zimmerman hit two home runs off me today but Mother Nature brought them back into the ballpark. That’s part of pitching here, you can have that advantage some days, really have it as a pitcher, and I just tried to keep pumping it in the strike zone and stay as aggressive as possible and put the pressure on them to swing the bats.”
- You know, upon reflection, Carlos Marmol really wasn’t all that bad yesterday. He had some nice movement on his fastball, which actually hit 94 (i.e., pre-2011 Marmol velocity), and the run he gave up came on a well-struck ball that gave David DeJesus fits because of the wind, and then a bloop-nothing-flick-the-wrist-crap single.
- Given that, you can understand why Marmol would be a bit annoyed when asked if he felt like it was deja vu from last year. “Last year is over,” he said. “It’s a new year. You see a lot of new [players] here, huh? That’s what it is. Last year is over. Next question.”
- I’m also with Dale Sveum on his decision to have Joe Mather going on contact in the 9th, for the very reason Sveum said after the game. “If that ball is an inch or two to the left or right, it’s a tie game,” Sveum said. “Mather is the best on the team at it. It’s just unfortunate the fielder didn’t have to move left or right. I’ll take my chances [on that happening].”
- Carrie Muskat recounts a crazy story from yesterday, the gist of which is Bill Murray signed a ball for Ryan Dempster, who then pitched the ball to Ian Desmond, who then singled it to right field, and then asked for the ball as a souvenir. That’s when Desmond saw that the ball had been signed by Murray to Dempster.
- Bryan LaHair is feeling better, and should be back to start on Sunday, with a possible pinch-hit appearance on Saturday (the Cubs are facing lefty Gio Gonzalez on Saturday, so LaHair might have sat anyway). “We’re not going to do anything to set me back or anything like that,” LaHair said. “We’re just taking everything in stride. Today was a really good day. I’ve been making huge gains each day, a lot faster than they anticipated so that’s a real positive thing.”
- In case you missed it in yesterday’s Pre-Gamin’ post, lefty reliever John Gaub is no longer with the Cubs. He was placed on waivers to open up a needed 40-man roster spot, and the Tampa Bay Rays claimed him. What do they know about pitchers, right?
- The Sun-Times ran a picture of Theo Epstein walking on water, which I understand was not, itself, deifying Epstein (and, instead, was needling those that do), but it still seems like it was in bad taste for a number of reasons.
- The Cubs’ on-field, Opening Day payroll was just $88.2 million this year (which doesn’t include the $16ish million the Cubs sent to the Marlins with Carlos Zambrano, the $2.7 million being paid to Randy Wells at AAA, or the $5 million the Cubs had to pay Carlos Pena in January), which is the lowest since 2005. It puts the team dead-smack in the middle of the pack – 15th in baseball – in Opening Day payroll.
- MLBullets at BCB, noting the ample size of the Marlins’ new ballpark.
- Two contests were resolved yesterday, as BN’er Caleb (we have a couple of them, actually, but the winner has been contacted) won the Opening Day Contest, and BN’er Spencer won my extra ticket to the Cubs’ April 12th game against the Brewers. As for the Opening Day Contest, no, Caleb didn’t get the lineup/rotation right – out of almost 200 entries, no one got it right, thanks largely to Bryan LaHair’s achey back. Per the back-up plan in the rules, Caleb was selected at random to win the $75 gift certificate to SportsWorldChicago.com. There will be plenty more contests this year, so keep tryin’.