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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’.
  • Tim Mo

    Extremely happy to see Stewart drive the ball to right, haven’t seen him do that in years. I just want him to stay healthy.

  • Fishin Phil

    I agree that Svuem pulled Dempster at the right time. I can understand people saying DeMueth was squeezing Kerry, but after you walk the first two, you’ve got to know you are being squeezed and start throwing strikes.

    All in all, not a horrible game compared to some of the crap we saw last year. However, like you, I was in a pissy mood after they lost.

    • MichiganGoat

      Agreed in on both points. As for not pulling Woody every manager in baseball will always be criticized for not pulling pitchers. It’s the reactionary nature of baseball until it becomes a Quadesque trend I’m not concerned.

  • MichiganGoat

    So today should be full of OMG Ricketts is cheap and Campana would have scored twice if he was on third conversation. I’ll put my head in the sand.

    • Hansman1982

      Campana would have scored if he was just getting of the El when the ball was pitched

      • Caleb

        Lol

      • Borocks

        In all reality I heard that Campana electrified the Iowa crowd with his baserunning last night as he scored from second on an infield hit.  I really think they need him on the team…….

    • CubFan Paul

      $88.2M screams cheap in the 3rd largest market with top five ticket prices

    • Spencer

      I mean…Campana WOULD have scored. They could’ve even safety squeezed in that situation and he would’ve scored. It is what it is I guess, but I don’t understand the argument that he isn’t worth a roster spot for “only” his speed when it is literally game changing.

      • DocPWimsey

        The only difference that Campana would have made is that he would have been out be 10′ instead of by 20′. (That’s actually a big difference when you think about it: it requires being about 15% faster.) However, that play was not remotely close to being close.

        As for “game changing speed,” it wasn’t speed (or lack of it) that changed this game. It was walks.

  • Stinky Pete

    “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.”
    He’s Kerry Wood. He’s your 8th inning guy and he should be able to get guys out.

    “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?”
    Should we just give them Stevens too?

    “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.”
    If for no other reason, the timing of it is pretty bad.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah, the timing is exceptionally bad.

      • MichiganGoat

        But it did get them attention and I think newspapers are desperate for attention these days. I can’t think they didn’t consider the timing and implications.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          They knew what they were doing. Because, soon after, they went to Epstein for a react quote. It got us talking, so, mission accomplished. I’m just not into that particular kind of (warning: parentspeak coming) attention-seeking behavior.

          • MichiganGoat

            Agreed but it is the news should we expect anything less

            • Stinky Pete

              No such thing as negative publicity.

  • Ivy Walls

    The GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY.

    The GOOD: Cubs as a team played a close game with a published WC contender against their stated ACE. Dempster showed his former guile and pitching prowess going 7 2/3 IP with a lead (shut out) worming out of trouble. Byrd got a 2 out RBI.

    The BAD: Wood’s command. Marmol’s inability to close it out, Soriano’s baserunning we have seen this play before.

    The UGLY: DeJesus’s failed attempt in the 9th inning to get that Tracy double where he appeared to get the EEBEE GEEBEE’s at the bricks. It would have been a great play, and MLB’s players are supposed to make plays…especially when the game is on the line.

  • bluekoolaidaholic

    Very Quade like S. O. S. (same old stuff) (sigh)
    Seemed like “Groundhog Day”, Bill Murray, Kerry Wood and Marmol.

  • Steve

    No way 95% of all right fielders get to that ball. Especially your first game at Wrigley.

  • Seth

    In other news, the Iowa cubs got a win yesterday against “Mark Hamburger”, Yes that’s his last name. I think he might take over Rock Shoulders as the best name. Also, BJax had a pretty good first game, can’t wait to see him come up.

  • K Rock

    Anyone who knows the game of baseball knows Wood comes in at that point, and Marmol closes it out. These two are your set up man and closer, respectively. Sveum gave them the job and it is up to them to do their job.

    And for all of those who complained about the style of play the Cubs showed last year, which you had every right to, please dont complain with this style of agressive baserunning. You cant have it both ways.

    There are 161 games left, if you were happy Theo and Co. was brought in to do a job and that required a complete rebuild, then do yourself a favor and be patient. Losing a one run game to one of the top prospects in baseball is a lot better than getting blown out because of dumb mistakes (last year).

    • MaxM1908

      Well said, K Rock. You’d think by some of the angry comments on here about the team and management, no one had ever seen the Cubs lose a close game before. This isn’t college football. You can lose games (a lot of games) and still be a top team. I’m not saying the Cubs ARE a top team, but losing the first game doesn’t necessarily mean they are a bad team.

    • terencem

      Getting thrown out on the bases like a nincompoop (TOOTBLAN) is never good. The Cubs were one of the worst base running teams in the game last season and running more often is simply not the way to improve that. You have to run more wisely, not just more frequently.

      Also, Strasburg isn’t a prospect anymore. He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball, period.

  • RWakild

    Just seen the Iowa Cubs box score from yesterday. With Randy Wells pitching, that team would have a good chance against the big league club. The no runs allowed by the two releivers would have been a welcome outcome yesterday too. It’s only one game but is nice to see help is on the way for the Cubs.

  • johnny kelroy

    Well said K rock….all winter (for the most part) people have been saying, “theo is leading us down the right track, we need to be patient”. Well, putting up with losses like yesterday is going to require patience. Questions will be answered throughout this season, and throughout next offseason. Things are going to have to get worse (trading good veterans for young prospects) before they get better

  • Spriggs

    Can someone explain why Kerry Wood only pitched 5 innings all spring? Was he hurt or were they actually trying to save innings for the regular season? I mean – 5 innings? How can you realistically expect him to be sharp?

    And just to get this off my chest: LaHair isn’t expected back in the lineup until Sunday now? But he is progressing nicely and had a really good day yesterday… OK. But after hearing everyday for the last month how Rose and Toews are progressing so nicely – and should be back anyday – blah, blah, blah – forgive me for having a hard time believing this.

  • Andrew

    I’m surprised people are actually upset he took out dempster. The main thing for me was that regardless of anything else, he had 108 pitches in the first game of the season. Obviously dempster could throw 120 if he wanted to, but it seems like every pitch thrown after 100 is just an injury waiting to happen because fatigue can hurt mechanics. If it’s September and we’re in a penant race, I say it becomes a debatable move, but the baseball season is a marathon one and you want to avoid as many risky moves as possible early on. I didn’t watch the game, but I wonder if maybe you take out dempster after the 7th. We don’t need to preserve our bullpen and maybe wood pitches better with the bases empty. In all honesty, it doesn’t matter because this is all in hindsight and had these moves turned out to win the game, we would be praising Sveum.

    • gratefulled

      I guess you’re right, we should save Dumpster’s arm for the 4th game.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        The very guy that you wish would have stayed in because he was pitching so well is the same guy you call “Dumpster”?

        • gratefulled

          Play on words. Despite his “we are going to win the world series” comment a couple years ago, and his tired Harry Caray act, I actually like the guy.

          Dale had a chance to set the tone for the season yesterday, and unfortunately he did.

  • KidCubbie

    POSITIVE NOTE: Ian Stewart is tied for the MLB lead in triples.

  • OlderStyle

    The Sun-Times picture was in very poor taste, for many reasons, as Brett mentioned. But, there is something to be said about the cult of personality Theo has in Chicago already. I’m not saying he’s perpetuating it and he seems to be trying to distance himself from it as much as he can. But some Cubs fans need a reboot.

  • ISU Birds

    So what I’m taking from yesterday is that my starry eyed dreams of the Cubs being successful this year were in fact dreams. Also that Marmol still doesn’t have the goods to be a major league closer. Put Carpenter as the closer…. oh wait…..

  • mak

    I think we have to accept that there will be a lot of these type of losses this year. As Theo and many others have said, a strong bullpen is a luxury that a rebuilding team can’t really have. If we had Marshall/Cashner, we can probably put that thing away yesterday. However, in 3 years, if Rizzo, Torreyeles and Wood are involved in winning games, that’s the payoff. Losing games late is frustrating — Probably going to be a frustrating year. I’ll try to keep telling myself that its the end game.

  • Dumpgobbler

    I love Woody and I think he’ll be a great part of our bullpen obviously. But did anyone notice he only worked like 5 innings in spring training? Its my opinion, that he just wasn’t ready for that spot. To me that was the difference in the game. That and our lineup doesn’t exactly strike fear in opposing pitchers either.

    All that said its one game. Have to be thrilled with Demp. Game actually went better then expected for me.

  • BleacherBum

    I was just glad I didn’t watch the game yesterday. I think I would have broken my TV. I did see the run get scored on my phone and a triple by Stewart on a replay. I really hope Stewart has a turn around year and hits at least .270 with 15 homers

  • Cubmig

    Harry Truman’s desk plate saying applies to all that comes to those in “the game” — whether it be politics, baseball, or any competitive engagement: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

    I don’t begrudge the critics. They are doing their job—reflecting or reacting to feelings (either theirs or those harbored in the public mind), and yes, to sell whatever it is they are promoting. Baseball for us Cubs fans is a hot button issue, especially after enduring so many years of disappointments and peak moment disasters. It seems we exist hanging by the thread of dependency. As long as winning entry into the Big Show eludes this organization (and us), anyone dusted with the messiah potion (whatever the hell that is) is meat for the skeptics; and patience is not a virtue for critics who find failure an affirmation of weakness.

    Time is the culprit for Theo&Co. Losing the first game is nothing in a 162 game season. And yet for us Cubs fans, in the moment of the present it is everything, because, ironically, it does what the critics feed on—-missteps and failure. It’s in our blood. It’s the history of Cubs baseball. And it’s all we’ve known.

    But, here’s to Marmol’s words: “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.”

    May that prove true in the most convincing of ways.

  • terencem

    When Soriano was caught stealing at third, it may have cost the Cubs the game. It at least cost them extra innings. I’m not sure whose idea it was, but it wasn’t a good one. The Cubs don’t have a lot of guys on this team who can steal a lot of bases and they should let it go. I don’t care what worked in Spring Training when players were more focused on more important parts of their game. This is not a team with a lot of burners.

    • Spencer

      Well..Soriano was probably safe on that play. The ball beat him there by too much to be called safe, but it looked like he might have sneaked in. I don’t mind being aggressive at all. It was a bang bang play – and if anything to shows Soriano’s legs are feeling good enough to do something like that. I take it as a positive.

    • Jay Anderson Jr

      Being aggressive on the bases gives the opposing pitcher something else to think about while he’s pitching. I like it, and Soriano showed he can still run. Even if he doesn’t steal a lot of bases, he has shown that he will be aggressive on the bases. Wasn’t his hustle that got him on second to start with.

  • Cubmig

    Soriano’s attempt at stealing third was close. In fact, the replay showed the tag on him was chest-high and that his left hand got to the bag before the tag. It was a good call to send Soriano, particularly because last season he carried a rep of being slow afoot. And what his attempt means this season is pitchers can’t relax even when it’s Soriano on base. It’s a good way to brand a way to play; keep them guessing. As for sending Mather in on that grounder, I would have rather let the next hitter try to drive him in—-but it’s all armchair managing. Yesterday is history. Gone. Let’s see how this tough April pans out to get a sense of what we have as a team.

    • JR

      Sveum’s comments in his post game press conference suggest Soriano was given the green light more than that he was sent. And that makes sense — otherwise the runner from first would be running too. Delegating that decision to Soriano seems more dumb, actually, than calling for the steal given his history of base running. I think people, including — hopefully — Sveum are conflating hustle with aggressive base running. Aggressive base running doesn’t seem to be a sound strategy — isn’t it exactly the type of low percentage play that offends the Epstein philosophy? Hustling and smart base running, with has nothing to do with speed, seems to me what the Cubs have lacked. On the bright side, the hustling issue seems be addressed.

      I also question running from third on contact. Isn’t the high percentage play to run if it’s a grounder to the middle fielders but stay if it goes to the corner infielders who are pulled in? If I am wrong and the Cubs are intentionally running aggressively, believing that’s their only chance to score runs — which, again, seems to run counter to Theo’s philosophy — then they absolutely need to recall Campana. And Sveum’s claim that they had to manufacture a run because he’s a good sinkerball pitcher, I just have to hope he’s protecting his guys. The other explanation is that he didn’t have confidence in the batter and despite the fact that Stewart had just crushed the ball once he passed on the first pitch and worked the count a bit.

  • Ryan

    Based on what Jed and Theo have said about the roster Im almost expecting a bunch of move within the next week. I know there aren’t a bunch of total minor league trades but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make a bunch of these either this year

  • Spencer

    Thanks again for the ticket, Brett. Looking forward to the game and meeting you

  • hardtop

    and no offense to spencer, but i still believe my “stewart has a horse schlong” t-shirt pledge was superior… i was practically buying tickets for the brew-crew series.  and i wasted 20 bucks having that damn t-shirt made too.  what am i going to do with it now?  maybe ill send it to kyle.  kyle, mailing address please? post-haste.  i hope you wear size extra badass.

    • Spencer

      haha that is pretty funny. i didn’t win the pledge contest though, so no offense taken!

  • Diesel

    It’s a good thing the bar I was at was staffed by really hot girls with sexy legs or I would have been a lot more pissed off.

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