Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

I’m headed to Chicago this morning, and will be at The Sports Corner at some point in the late morning (stuffing my face, most likely, in my blue Bleacher Nation shirt, if you’re looking for me), before going to today’s game. Posting should be normal today, but the Enhanced Box Score is going to be delayed. Delayed, and extra squiggly depending on how many Old Styles I have.

  • Dale Sveum says he isn’t yet worried about Marlon Byrd’s deep slump to start the year. But, well, he also says this: “When, what date or whatever, you don’t put a time limit on it. There’s a time where there’s got to be adjustments to be made. Whether that’s a week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks into the season. The bottom line is production is what this job is all about. We got to make adjustments. That’s how people survive in the big leagues.” I find it interesting that the *far* limit Sveum put there was just four weeks. Byrd’s already just about at two (which, for me, is far too early to make a change of an established, usually consistent hitter like Byrd (who also happens to be a quality defender)), and he was pulled yesterday in favor of a pinch hitter in the 9th. That’s not a good sign.
  • Ryan Dempster blames only himself for yesterday’s 2-1 loss. “I could have won that game it I had made a couple of better pitches in the seventh inning,” he said. “Games like those, you know that a mistake can end up costing you the game …. Unfortunately I left a cutter over the middle of the plate and it got hit out, and it was enough to win the game for them.” Let me help be more fair: when Dempster says “games like those,” he means games in which his offense gives him absolutely nothing. Ryan Dempster wasn’t the problem yesterday, and, surprisingly, neither was the bullpen. It was the offense (albeit one facing a great pitcher in Yovani Gallardo). One run just ain’t gonna cut it in 97% of your games.

  • Fluff on Lendy Castillo’s big league debut earlier this week. He made the jump straight from A-ball, so you can understand some jitters. Dale Sveum sounds like he still isn’t thrilled about having to carry the Rule 5 pick. “He looked like he settled down a little bit,” Sveum said. “We would still like to see that velocity where we’re expecting and what we saw early in camp, too. The velocity has to come back. As long as he’s throwing strikes and throwing the breaking ball for a strike, we’re going to be a lot better off. I think you saw a little bit of maturity [Tuesday] from his first routing.”
  • Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo both show up at the back end of a list of five prospects who could make a fantasy impact at some point this year when they are inevitably called up. You don’t really need to understand what that means. You just need to understand that they’re on a list that includes big-time prospects Trevor Bauer and Mike Trout.
  • Ryan Braun is being all mature and professional about the taunts he’s hearing in Chicago this week. “Without a doubt, it’s probably the most, or one of the most, challenging environments to play in regardless of any extracurricular circumstances,’’ he said. “It’s never an easy place to play as a visiting player. They’re always loud, they’re always into the game, supporting their team, and they’re pretty creative.’’ Stop it, Ryan. Say something douchey.

  • Geovany Soto is trying to help Rafael Dolis adjust to the big leagues by making him think about hurricanes.
  • Pat Hughes tries not to let the Cubs’ losing ways get him down as he’s calling game after game.
  • Alfonso Soriano’s defense this year has looked improved, and Dale Sveum says it’s thanks to hard work with first base coach Dave McKay (who works on outfield defense).

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