Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

I would have been pretty cool if Starlin Castro had hit one in the gap last night, eh? We watch as Barney is waved around third, and slides in just under the tag for the miraculous win? Damn. Yeah, that would have been cool.

  • As for that last at bat, in which Castro struck out in three pitches, manager Dale Sveum confirms what most of us were thinking: Castro was caught guessing. “Had a chance to win the game, we just came up a little short,” Sveum said. “I think Castro just got caught looking breaking ball on that last pitch, and Axford got a fastball by him.” It’s stupid to read too much into one game, let alone one at bat, so I’m not going to do it. He’s still learning.
  • The Brewers scored two runs – which proved the difference in the game, as it turned out – on squeeze bunts last night, and Sveum says he wasn’t caught totally off guard, despite appearances. “It’s just a matter of when you’re going to pitch out — which pitch,” he said. “I was there. I know they do that. Every one of their pitchers can really handle the bat well, especially in that situation. It’s a good time to do it …. That’s the luxury of having pitchers who can handle a bat like that. You have options.”

  • I’m going to ask something I shouldn’t ask, knowing full well that it doesn’t work this way: if Ryan Braun is suspended for the game last night, do the Brewers win without his two hits and a walk?
  • Chris Volstad knows what issues he had last night. “That first inning kind of got me; I just wasn’t in the zone enough,” Volstad said. “They were fouling off pitches and got me in a hole early. I felt I got better as the game went on and had the first inning, maybe if I kept that first inning down a little bit, maybe I could have stayed in the game. It’s something to work on.”
  • The other pitcher who gave up most of the damage last night was reliever Shawn Camp. He, too, knows what he did wrong. “I had a good game plan. I just think if I came out making quality pitches, you get good results,” Camp said. “I have been around this game long enough. I just got some balls elevated. My success is built on keeping the ball on the ground and that didn’t happen today.”

  • BN’er Spencer was at the game last night, and he offers his experience, which included hilarious Ryan Braun taunts, and a meeting with Tom Ricketts.
  • Ken Rosenthal, who’s usually quite good in print, apparently just figured out that the new CBA is detrimental to the Cubs’ rebuilding plans. He adds in the more recent TV deal development, which threatens to change the MLB landscape in additional, unpredictable ways, but he doesn’t really discuss it. Instead, it’s mostly a “the Cubs kind of suck right now, and rebuilding is going to be very hard” piece. I kind of feel like I’ve been link-baited.
  • The Platoon Advantage takes a belated look at how, using PECOTA projections, the Cubs could improve to an 88 win team this year. On the surface, it doesn’t appear to require much more than a bounce back from Ian Stewart, a step forward from Starlin Castro, a best case rotation, and a not terrible bullpen. But that’s assuming everyone else reaches their projections, AND the Cubs get lucky bounces along the way in run distribution among games (i.e., winning a bunch of close ones, while losing blowouts). In other words, the search for optimism actually proves to be grim.
  • I missed a good window to post about these last week, so they aren’t terribly timely, but they also aren’t the kind of articles that are ruined by the passage of a week. Here are two great articles by CSN’s Patrick Mooney, first on Theo Epstein looking ahead to the season, and second on the Cubs’ use of video products.

  • In case you wanted to hear my appearance yesterday on AM1570 The Score in Appleton, Wisconsin (talking Brewers/Cubs), you can download an mp3 of the bit (it’s about 10 minutes) here. It was live, and I didn’t even drop a single inadvertent f-bomb. Take that, FCC!
  • If you haven’t entered yet, make sure you enter the Free Fantasy Baseball Contest, which runs this Friday. It’s just one day, it’s free, it’s easy to sign up, you can win cash, and it helps support Bleacher Nation. Details here. Do it.

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