Chris Volstad and Shawn Camp Understand Their Issues and Other Bullets

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.

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

60 responses to “Chris Volstad and Shawn Camp Understand Their Issues and Other Bullets”

  1. Beer Baron

    I was at the game last night, and the crowd was probably 30% Brewer fans. At one point when Braun was up they started an “MVP, MVP” chant. Our group quickly silenced them with an even louder “STD, STD”. They laughed, but unfortunately got the last laugh of the night…

    1. DocPWimsey

      Well, if the Brew Crew switches to gray trousers for home games, then we’ll know for certain…. :cool:

  2. Kyle Mayhugh

    I do think Cubs fans are kind of glossing over the challenges facing the organization. “We got Theo, we’re going young, now we just wait for the wins to start rolling in.”

    If just deciding to eschew big-time free agents and placing a lot of emphasis on development is all it took, there’d be a lot more small-market teams at the top of the standings every year.

    I’m a worrier by nature when it comes to the Cubs, and here are two of the things I worry about:

    1) Epstein and Co.’s drafting with the Cubs comes out more like the end of their Red Sox run (solid but nothing special) rather than the beginning (amazing).

    2) A combination of factors push the Cubs down from their Tribune Co. big market payrolls to the middle tier. The lack of a major cable deal, possibly declining attendance from bad teams in the near term, and Ricketts’ large expense to renovate Wrigley Field all make us something more like the Brewers than the Red Sox.

    There are certainly some other things I’m quite excited about. But the massive chasm between where we want to be and where we are just has so many roadblocks along the way. The biggest being where the heck are the elite players going to come from?

    If we’re imagining the next great Cubs team, the Theo-created dominant force that wins the NL Central year after year, it’s going to have to have some elite players on it. Starlin Castro can be one in total value, but we don’t really have an elite bat or an elite arm anywhere in the system. Where are they going to come from? We’re scared of free agency and teams are getting very good at locking guys down before they get to FA anyway. Anyone we draft in 2012 or 2013 is many years away, and that’s if we’re very lucky. An Adrian Gonzalez-style trade? Those opportunities are hard to come by.

    You can build a long-term winner without that 7-WAR stud to anchor your team, I guess, but you make it awfully hard on yourself trying to. The margin for error becomes a lot thinner.

    1. hogie

      I think Theo gets a lot of the credit that should be going to Hoyer and McCloed. The big time drafted talent came when they were still with the Red Sox. It seems like most of the big, bad contracts came after they had left as well. Everyone raves about how good the Padres’ system has gotten in the last few years. Don’t get me wrong, I think Theo is the leader of the team, but I think he works best with the others, maybe they keep him in check.

      1. Saberbeany

        Jason Place

  3. Well if we are guessing

    “””””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?”””””‘—– Well if the Cubs resigned thier A-Ram do the Brewers win If the Cubs did not trade away Marshall and …… get my point !

  4. Ashley

    As much as I would have loved a Cubs win last night, I loved even more the fight the boys showed last night. Last years team would have given up after the Brewers scored that 7th run!

    Also I hated seeing Castro go down looking with the bat on his shoulder, but in the long run Castro is going to be the guy we want uo there and he is going to come through more time than not.

    I have been very encouraged with the team this season and although Volstad gave up some runs and wan’t as sharp as Demp, Garza and Shark I was still pleased with his pitching performance.

    The only glaring hole the Cubs have right now is the bullpen. We have to find guys who are going to come in and get outs and leave guys stranded on base. Giving up runs out of the bullpen has to stop if the Cubs are going to win games!

    1. DocPWimsey

      “but in the long run Castro is going to be the guy we want uo there and he is going to come through more time than not.”

      Nobody comes through over 50% of the time. Great hitters will not make outs over 40% of the time and they’ll get hits a third of the time. That being written, you want your guy who is going to make the fewest outs up there: and that is Castro.

      “Last years team would have given up after the Brewers scored that 7th run!”

      True: but the 7th run would have been given up in the 5th inning! Moreover, this was not so much the Cubs “hanging in there” as it was poor relief pitching (giving up 4 walks is bad; giving up 4 walks to the Cubs should be tickets to AAA) and poor fielding (3 errors, only 1 of which was caused by game-time conditions.)

    2. Dave

      I think the offense is a glaring hole also.

  5. Peter O

    Anybody else think that was Castro’s worst night at the plate since he’s been in the big leagues? Chasing sliders 3 feet out of the zone, then getting froze on a mid thigh fastball.

  6. WiscoCubbie

    wow, i’m from appleton, wi! thats awesome! i’ll have to listen to that

  7. Korean Goat

    good morning all of Cubs fan
    we are rebuilding the team but I enjoy every game
    good luck to the cubs and all of us
    hehehe

  8. Jay Anderson Jr

    I was cheering for Volstad so hard after they way our other pitchers started. Unfortunately, last night is about what you can expect from him. He’s a career 4.60 ERA guy. Nothing “got” him last night. He was basicly his regular self. A sometimes average, but mostly bad pitcher.

  9. Kyle

    “Paul and Kyle – you guys are assuming that there is an unlimited pile of money with which to draw funds from. Seeing the plethora of technological and scouting upgrades that were needed when this crew came in, I am GLAD they took the route they did.”

    No, we’re not. You are just buying the company line that those upgrades made up for the lost money spent on the major leagues.

    You could buy every scout in the organization a gold-plated iPad for the cost of a decent middle reliever. The Cubs are trying to play a shell game where they took quite a bit of money off the table, spent a little elsewhere, and called it even.

    “We have some interesting players who used to be top prospects and haven’t performed.”

    Also known as the Pittsburgh Pirates model. I thought we’d be aping the Red Sox, not some small-market no-hopes.

    “I do find it interesting that the Yankees also took the offseason off in terms of big name free agents, they could use a youth movement of Pujols and Wilson.”

    The Yankees are at the de facto salary cap that MLB has instituted. Any significant free agents would have put them well over the luxury tax threshold and cost them dozens of millions of dollars a year beyond the player’s salary.

    All the more reason to strike now. In a few years when the Cubs are supposedly going to be competitive thanks to the farm system, and wanting to add an extra piece, we won’t be so lucky as to have several of the major players sitting the offseason out.

    “I am still waiting for this magical roster construction plan that would have built for 2012 without hindering the future.”

    Many, many different scenarios have been posted. It’s not even that hard.

    Let’s pretend that the Pujols contract really would have hindered the Cubs long-term instead of helping them fantastically. Here’s a favorite one of mine that doesn’t include any major free agents. All dollar figures are the amount the player eventually signed for:

    Re-sign Pena 1 year, $7.25 million, Sign Ramirez 3 the backloaded, 3/$36 deal he got from the Brewers
    Trade Byrd for salary relief
    Do the Marshall and Zambrano trades, same as this offseason
    Pass on DeJesus, make your outfield Soriano/Jackson/Sappelt with LaHair and Campana as the backups.
    Still do the Cashner trade got you Rizzo, keep him in AAA for the full season.
    Don’t sign Maholm. Your rotation is Garza/Dempster/Wood/Samardzija/Volstad with Wells in the pen.

    That team is actually a little bit cheaper than this year’s team, and it probably wins 81 games with a chance to compete for the division if a lot of things go right. You still built for the future. All you’ve given up for the future is a year of Jackson’s service time and a couple of supplemental picks. I don’t think that team is any worse on paper than the 1998 Cubs or 2006 Cardinals.

    You don’t have to go all-in, balls-out for the immediate year every year, but as a big market team you have to give yourself a chance every year. As a wise executive once said “Every chance to win is sacred.” i’m beginning to wonder if he was misquoted and actually said “Every chance to win is scary.”

    1. CubFan Paul

      well said Kyle. your plan isnt magical but was definitely do-able, along with several other routes Theo&Co chose not to do.

      instead we have an A-ball pitcher (Castillo) in the pen, an oft injured 3B whose power may or may not return, clinging on to Byrd when BJax is ready, Byrd 2.0 (dejesus), Shawn Camp etc..

    2. hansman1982

      So you are saying that the 2011 team was a rookie Jackson and 4th outfielder Sappelt away from .500?

      And if you can effectively double your chances in landing a difference making draftee (4 picks before the middle of the 2nd round), give your org a chance to look at the best hitter in AAA last year, get something out of Colvin, gain a free year of control over Jackson and move Byrd when his value is much higher than it would have been in the offseason, you take it.

      “Also known as the Pittsburgh Pirates model. I thought we’d be aping the Red Sox, not some small-market no-hopes.”

      I will take the Pittsburg Pirates model over trying to patch the 2011 Cubs into contention. The organization has been getting worse every year since 2009 and I don’t mind that we switched horses (plans, not GM’s) mid-stream. I do wish we would have protected a couple of the MI that we lost.

      “No, we’re not. You are just buying the company line that those upgrades made up for the lost money spent on the major leagues.

      You could buy every scout in the organization a gold-plated iPad for the cost of a decent middle reliever. The Cubs are trying to play a shell game where they took quite a bit of money off the table, spent a little elsewhere, and called it even.”

      You also forget that we are paying 4 GM’s this year (Hendry, Theo, Jed, Theo’s completion money), increasing the staff, putting money into ST facilities, putting money into the Dominican facilities and other things. While that doesn’t equal the ~$25M that the payroll went down we aren’t sure what their plans are for Soriano yet and clearly they are making a big push to upgrade Wrigley right now. Even if Rickett’s pockets every dime of the reduction of payroll this year, then yay them, I think the Ricketts have proven over the past 12 months that they are serious about winning the World Series and fielding the best organization in all of baseball.

      I guess, long story short, I disagree with your contention that anything short of signing Pujols and Wilson/Burhle/Darvish and adding $40-50M in payroll or trading away the farm, would have made the 2012 Cubs a paper competitor. I feel that this team will either contend as it is constructed (meaning Theo made ALL of the right moves this past offseason) or they will bomb miserably. Right now, I am going with the former, as I did this time last year (well, before the Wells and Cashner injuries).

      1. Kyle

        “So you are saying that the 2011 team was a rookie Jackson and 4th outfielder Sappelt away from .500?”

        You skipped the most important part: an improved, deeper rotation.

        Lost in all the bad feelings amongst Cubs fans last season was the fact that the Cubs were .500 in games started by one of their original five starters. They had two injuries and a Z meltdown, and the 6th-8th starters were historically awful.

        1. KyleNovak

          Kyle,

          Many of your alternatives are well-thought out and make good sense, but be careful. . . Some of what you are saying is in hindsight and might have not been possible from a chronological business and circumstance-based standpoint. 

          During negotiations, Boras was clearly working to push towards getting Pena a multi-year deal with an AAV that at least matched his 2011 salary.  When the Cubs declined and the free agent first-baseman dominoes started to fall and Pena was left without a team, he jumped at Tampa Bay’s offer (whether or not Boras advised him to do so, I’m not sure). He played his best baseball in Tampa, he probably has numerous friends and connections there, and they are really good!  If you are going to take another one-year contract to try and boost your value for 2013, why not do it in a place with way more upside, even if it meant taking a pay cut from last year.  
          (Not to mention, the tax laws in Florida are more attractive to athletes as well.)

          Would it have been a good deal to get Pena at the price Tampa got him for?  Absolutely.  You can’t just assume that Pena could have been had for $7.25 million.  For all we know, the Cubs initially offered him another one year deal and he declined.

          The Ramirez situation is a little more murky. He said he wanted to remain a Cub, but after the way the season played out, I have a hard time believing he was a slam dunk to return. Would he have taken an Milwaukee-like offer from the Cubs to stay or would he have wanted more? What if Milwaukee made him the same offer and tried to turn it into a bidding war by basically hinting with, “Our team is better than theirs and this could be your last big contract. What do you say?”.

          What then? Ramirez got a lot of flak last year (a lot of it was undeserved), so it’s hard to tell how that affected him. Bad teams, hurt feelings, the uncertainty of having a job, and father time ticking away on the career can have an effect that even a new, smart front office can’t fix.

          1. Kyle

            Those are good points. It’ll always be counterfactual, because we can’t know exactly what went on behind closed doors.

            But the two simple point remains: The Cubs were a .500 team last season when one of their original five starters took the mound. Injuries and poor planning forced them to put the Rodrigo Lopez’s and Doug Davis’s of the world out there, and that’s where the 20 games under .500 came from. This wasn’t a hopeless team devoid of any talent at all.

            I have a lot of faith in Epstein’s and his front office’s abilities. He put his mind to fixing the rotation, and he did an amazing job without spending anything more than $6.5 million for Maholm.

            I firmly believe that if he had wanted to, if he had put half the effort into it that he did the rotation, Epstein and Crew could have put together a respectable offense and bench. The fact that he didn’t even try, and just started handing out jobs to any retread he could get for free, is maddening.

          2. Norm

            No thanks on Pena. I’ll take the draft pick and let Bryan LaHair have an opportunity over resigning Pena.
            I see that this discussion will never end…

      2. CubFan Paul

        The Cubs total budget isnt $150M, its at least $270M

        this team will not contend as currently constructed. There’s no way you believe that. Theo&Co don’t believe that either

        1. hansman1982

          I said it will go one of two ways – wild success or abject failure. Right now, same as if we had the Boise Hawks roster playing the games, I am going with the wild success because I am that kind of Cubs fan. I know that I more than likely won’t be watching Cubs baseball in October but why be all doom and gloom right now? Even when the season will appear lost, I will hope that all of the prospects we draft will sign and turn into superstars, I will hope that we are able to trade Dempster for Mike Trout, then I will hope that we get a top 5 draft pick next year.

          I am optimistic.

      3. Dave

        “I will take the Pittsburg Pirates model over trying to patch the 2011″

        The Pittsburgh model has gotten them where in the last 15 years?
        They go into every season with NO chance to win. If thats what you want then god bless.

        1. CubFan Paul

          well said. Hans lost me with that one too.

        2. hansman1982

          and where did trying to patch the 2009 and 2010 teams into contenders get us? The same boat as the Pirates but we spent $100M more doing it. I never said that is the path I want to take moving forward just more than what we have seen the past 2 years.

          1. Kyle

            And where did patching the 2002 and 2006 teams get us?

            1. hansman1982

              2006 wasn’t exactly a patch job. 2003 also took some key trades. I guess I just don’t see the upside in re-signing Ramirez for 3/40 and Pena on a multi-year deal. At this point, I would much rather have LaHair and Stewart, the draft picks, and the $25M we saved.

              and 2006 got us another 3 years of Soriano…look, I am not saying that I want this to be their 5-year plan, but considering how bad the 2011 team was and how bad the organization was, I am more than happy with it.

              Jesus H. Christ, all I heard for 6 months last year was how terrible Ramirez was, how terrible Pena’s batting average was, how terrible our defense was and now people are saying that team was a couple mediocre pieces away from contention? Seriously, GET A GRIP PEOPLE, last year’s team was, at best, a 78 win team. That means that you have to get at least 12 wins from somewhere and those 12 wins would cost between $50 and 60M on the free agent market and/or Jackson, Baez, Maples, and Vitters and even those guys aren’t going to bring that much of a haul.

              Remember waaaaay back in January 2011, when Adrian Gonzalez was traded and we couldn’t match what the Red Sox offered. Ya, that shows you what we could have gotten via trade.

              1. CubFan Paul

                Eh, $3M of that $25M could of went to a decent relief pitcher

                Camp, Lopez, & Castillo is a joke ..you’re optimistic, I’m all doom&gloom because we all know we have no shot to win our division

    3. Cubmig

      Of all the posts I’ve read, this one of yours Kyle is the best. It makes a lot of sense and while we can’t actually compare outcomes, I can see we wouldn’t be worst off. …just my opinion.

  10. DocPWimsey

    “I don’t think that team is any worse on paper than the 1998 Cubs or 2006 Cardinals.”

    Actually, the ’06 Cards were better than a 0.500 team. Remember, they went 3-11 to end the season on a lot of close loses. Basically, they were the 87 win team that got unlucky and (almost) played down to 0.500.

    However, the coin flips both ways: and if the Cubs could have put together a 0.500 team, then they would have nearly the same chance of playing up to 87 wins as the ’06 Cards had of playing down to 83 wins.