At least no Cubs players were subjected to a cheap headshot last night.

  • Dale Sveum says he planed to use Rafael Dolis for two innings last night no matter what, and says Dolis would have been fine if it weren’t for the Barney error. “I still needed two innings out of that spot,” Sveum said. “We’re in a tie game. We would have thought about it but still we would have probably waited one more inning because if we scored then it’s Wood and then it’s [Carlos] Marmol …. [Dolis] threw the ball OK, but walked a few guys, obviously. It all started with an unfortunate error. He would have got four pretty quick outs and it would have been a different story too.” Even if you accept that Dolis was expected to go two innings, when that error clearly rattled Dolis (and it was obvious), why not yank him in favor of James Russell? As I said in the EBS, it was all an understandable set of decisions. I’m not sure I agree, but that’s probably just hindsight. (Also, why did Sveum mention Wood, who was back in Chicago at that point?)
  • Sveum rightly pointed out that if the Cubs were able to score a few more runs right now, the Dolis issue could have faded into the background.
  • Not only did the Cubs lose ignominiously to the Marlins last night, but they were trolled by the home club, too. When the Cubs players were introduced, that picture to the right is what was displayed on the giant board. A tiny little bear cub. Nicely played, Marlins. (H/t to Carrie Muskat for the picture.)
  • Carlos Zambrano and Geovany Soto had a non-verbal, hand conversation during last night’s game. It was strange, but kind of funny.
  • Dale Sveum is a Steve Clevenger fan already. “He’s got what sometimes you call a slump-proof hack,” Sveum said. “It’s really simple. He uses his hands and doesn’t get too big. He understands velocity and what he has to do with it. He can just barrel the ball up and it jumps off his bat too.” I think I’ll wait until Clevenger starts seeing teams a second time and scouts have a chance to find the holes before I call his bat slump-proof. But Sveum’s comments are interesting in the context of a starting catcher – Geovany Soto – who’s started the year in a slump.
  • Neither Ryan Dempster nor Darwin Barney had an excuse for their critical errors last night, each basically saying “I screwed up.” I don’t really have a beef with either of them. They had good games overall, and their mistakes (which are infrequent) were magnified by the game situation. That’s just bad luck for them.
  • I quipped on Twitter before the game last night that Alfonso Soriano’s time in the cleanup spot should probably be coming to an end, given that, while he was hitting .313 at the time, he was also slugging .313 (he’s hit only singles). Although he had a nice groundout at bat last night, he also went hitless, dropping his line to .278/.308/.278. It’s a super small sample size, obviously, but I didn’t think Soriano as the cleanup hitter made sense when the season starter. Bryan LaHair, for the record, is currently going .360/.448/.680.
  • Paul Sullivan slaps the Marlins for their ballpark and antics in the first few paragraphs of his game recap. It made me chuckle: “The Cubs arrival in Miami this week was seemingly a case of bad timing. They apparently missed the glory days of the new Marlins Park, which managed to draw only 24,544 fans in the fourth game in the ballpark’s history. Cheerleaders, an excessively loud p.a. system, a fish tank and a pale imitation of the Brewers’ sausage race — using sea creatures instead of sausage products — weren’t enough to get the locals excited about going out to watch a baseball game.” While I found that funny, I suppose I don’t have a problem with the Marlins trying to do something different.
  • MLBullets at BCB, featuring a relieved set of Red Sox who’ll probably get Jacoby Ellsbury back without the need for surgery.
  • RY34

    I have no problem with the scoreboard taunts, it is pretty much proof positive of how this team plays anyway, like scared little no confidence bear cubs! Perfectly fitting.

    • hansman1982

      yes, but just wait, in a couple of years we would just as soon rip your face off and eat it than look at you.

  • hansman1982

    I wonder if an edict has been issued similar to what the front office follows whereby at no point do you allow the present to trump the future?

    Could it be that Sveum wanted to have Dolis get through a situation like that in order to try and build confidence for the future?

    I guess I just have too much faith in this front office and their ability to find a non-Quade type manager.

    • Jay Anderson Jr

      Honestly, if I had to give Sveum a grade right now, I would give him a D. Borderline D-….. I know its just a couple weeks, but he has made some strange decisions. I not calling for his head, and I was happy with hire, but he needs to pick it up. We’ll see where he stand after a few years, but the article that rated him the worse manager in baseball is probably pretty acurate.

      • bt

        it’s amazing how bad a manager’s decisions turn out when his team sucks.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          As they say, the difference between “bold” and “rash” is the outcome, not the action!

          • TWC

            Yeah, I’ve got a rash, Doc.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Yes, but if the young lady in question had been a bit, shall we say, “cleaner,” then you would remember that night as bold and daring…..

              Seriously, this is what deconstructionism is all about.  We have lots of words that, in a sense, can be used only after the fact: it is what happens moments later that get us to use “rash” or “daring.”

          • Brett

            Fortune doesn’t favor the rash.

    • Brett

      Yeah, definitely possible.

  • JXH

    Sweet, Geo can work on his hand signals in the dugout with Big Z while Clevenger takes his job. I’m all for that.

  • Another Eric

    I don’t know, the sea of empty seats makes the bear-cub picture seem less-than-stinging. But I also like hansman1982’s interpretation of it–cute now, but it really doesn’t take that long for a bear to figure out how to eviscerate something, I don’t think.

  • Mike

    Prior to this year, sveum has managed 12 games for the Brewers and 3 years in the Pirates minor league. He is trying to learn the job. Since the Cubs are so bad, on the job training might be OK

  • Mike

    I love the Cubs for 50 years and I do not see much of a future unless you tell me it is not in Chicago.

    Bryan LaHair – I hope so.
    Castro can hit but struggles in the field
    Barney is a solid guy.

    What else do we have. Pitching maybe Jeff for the future. Matt Garza is a stud but trading him is our goal.

    • Andrew

      Clevenger also seems like he will be a part of the future. So does Dolis eventually, maybe russell albeit those both in smaller roles. To me, it seems more likely they are going to lock up garza long term rather than trade him. There are things this season that show promise. Dejesus looks to be a solid Cub for the, i think, 2-3 years we have him for but well see if he can keep it up. I actually kinda feel Stewart is going to have a pretty good season and may be productive for the next maybe another season after this until we get an upgrade from the farm/free agency/trade. Smarj, i think is a part of the pitching staff of the future the only question to me is whether he is a 4/5 starter, 2/3 starter, or possibly but unlikely, set-up man/closer and that i believe may be determined this year. I agree that the future isnt really on display in chicago yet, but the few core guys we have in the majors plus the core that should be coming up from the farm pretty soon, can give this team a chance in the next 2-3 years.

    • JustSwain

      Also Anthony Rizzo is tearing it up in A ball along with Brian Jackson if you are talking about future Cubs. Add to that the Cubs have less than 40 million committed to player contracts next year, so they also have lots of money to spend, even if they stay at 15th in team payroll…which I rather doubt. The only players they are losing to free agency are a series of bench players plus Dempster and Byrd with Zambrano’s contract also coming off the books. Its funny you mention Barney since I believe 2nd base is going to be the hardest hole for the Cubs to fill. Looking at the Cubs this year, left field, center field, and pitching are the only players they are paying more than 5 mil a year, and what we have out there right now is a set of young promising players under team control for multiple years. They have changed the way they play the game, and built a young core of players. Now all we need are a couple of impact free agent signings this off-season and a couple of contract extensions and we’ll be able to compete for years to come. This year we have 3 bad contracts (though Dempster looks better and better with every outing), next year we will have 1, the year after that 0. Thats a promising future as long as this core of young players can start to meld together, and a couple of those FA signings perform well. When it comes to the Cubs future, this rash of contract extensions we’ve seen this year is worrying me more than what I see on the field.

  • rcleven

    I’m still a Sevem fan. When you don’t have the horses every decision seems wrong.Concerning Sorino. Really liked the way he went to the right side (giving him self up) for the RBI. Shows he is playing for the team.

    • JustSwain

      Good point rcleven, and one I needed to hear. I like so much of what Sveum has done, and he was handed a pretty bad team to work with. That plus the fact that he has very little Major League managerial experience means this is going to be a tough season, but hopefully that which does not kill us makes us stronger.

  • Spencer

    He mentioned Wood because he couldn’t use him in the 8th like he normally would, so that’s why he “needed” Dolis to go back out in the 8th. And what’s he mean, if it wasn’t for the error he would’ve been fine?? Ramirez was due third in the inning, meaning he was going to bat no matter what. Maybe Dolis would’ve had more composure with the bases empty, but maybe he just can’t pitch 2 innings. If playing a man down in the bullpen is hampering the team that much to the point where to have to force guys who aren’t used to going more than an inning into going more than an inning, then Wood needs to be DL’ed and someone needs to be called up. It’s not as if we don’t have depth in AAA. If you need someone to pitch two innings, have Lopez do it.

  • DowntownLBrown

    I didn’t understand the Sveum hire. I wanted Alomar or Maddux.

    If you have never heard of a guy before the interview then chances are they arent a good choice for a large market team that has not won in 103 years…

    • King Jeff

      If who has never heard of the guy? Just because you didn’t know who Svuem was doesn’t mean that 90% of baseball fans or the executives that hired him had never heard of him before.

  • Kevin

    I’m not as optimistic about the Cubs as I was a few months back. We are a big market team and we are coasting into the cellar without any immediate plans to make things better. Are we simply bagging to get a better draft pick? Isn’t this cheating fans of quality baseball ?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Just because a team is “big market” and has money to spend, it does not follow that the solutions to their problems are for sale.  For example, the two biggest everyday holes for the Cubs after 2011 were 2B and CF.  The Cubs (or any other team) can sign an Utley or a Kemp only if one is available: and there really were not any such guys.  The big names were first basemen.  The pitching market was thin: there was Wilson (and a lot of people think that he’s not as good as his basic numbers suggest), and then….. Edwin Jackson?

      • hansman1982

        But they could have done better this offseason – like roll out the 2011 Cubs offense but with the 2012 rotation – THAT IS A CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM!

        • Kyle

          Sarcasm is lazy, easy criticism. Look, I can do it too:

          Hey guys, we are losing on purpose and planning for our draft picks to be awesome! Sure, it failed the Pirates, Reds, Indians and every other small market team, but it’ll probably work for us…

          • CubFan Paul


          • hansman1982

            that is precisely what I was told in a similar discussion last week. I agree with many of the people on this site that the pen was the biggest question mark heading into the season and Theo did nothing to help it out.

            With that said, the 2011 squad finished roughly 20 games out of contention for a playoff spot. Assuming that between Quade and the added wild card we are talking a 7 game swing, that is still 13 games you have to make up to make the playoffs this year.

      • djriz

        I may not always agree with Doc, but he’s right. The only real impact Free Agents were Pujols and Fielder, and I can’t blame the Cubs for being leary of giving them 10 yr gigs. We all knew the Cubs would be bad, so lets just hope that some minor leaguers come in midseason and give us hope.

        As for Soriano, does anyone think the plan was to bat him behind Castro hoping he may get an extra fastball or two?

        • CubFan Paul

          Impact free agents weren’t the only free agents available. Bring bringing up Wilson, Fielder, &Pujols is the lazy, lame, let’s make excuses for the front office side of the argument ..Fukudome & Pena were replaced cheaply/acceptably

          The bullpen is horrible and was obviously an offseason afterthought (Camp, Lopez, A baller/Rule 5er, and a AAAer who needs more seasoning in AAA). The guys who they brought in to compete for jobs were all washed up and obviously had no chance

          Jed has admitted to building the pen on the fly as we go. If Theo&Co had any aspirations of competing in the Central let alone winning it, building the bullpen that they decimated purposely (for other areas of need) would not be the plan nor would half the current pen be wasting roster spots

          So I disagree with Doc

          • DocPeterWimsey

            It’s not a question of simply “impact” free agents: what CFer or 2Bman could the Cubs have signed, period?  These are specialty positions: you cannot run just anybody out there.  Sure, you could sign Beltran: but he really cannot play CF anymore without breaking down.  After that, the pickings were slim.  I’m drawing blanks on middle infielders: it seems like the guys out there were essentially utility grade, and the Cubs have that already.

            The alternative to a free agent signing is a trade.  However, now money is not the measure of wealth: expendable talent is.  As 2Bman or CFer are not every day commodities, they are even more expensive.  What the Cubs might have been able to do is acquire a good young 2Bman for Garza: but that would have required a team that would benefit from Garza having one to spare, and it (probably) would mean having another good player in the AAA reports alongside Rizzo and BJax.

            • CubFan Paul

              “For example, the two biggest everyday holes for the Cubs after 2011 were 2B and CF”

              I disagree 100% which is why i never bought up 2B&CF in my last post. Byrd had a 2011 line of .276/.324/.395/.719, as long as he’s not playing the corners CF is far from an “everyday hole”. And by most accounts (damn near all) he’s projected to put up the same line if not slightly better this year. Not to mention BJax is waiting in the wings, so why even bring up Kemp, the CF position all together?

              Barney is different story (.660 2011 OPS). Barney can improve just by Slugging more, which he is (he must have read my pleas here for him to roid up). Just by slugging .400 Barney becomes an average “everyday” 2B (.700 OPS) ..& if he cant SLG it, Theo&Co already have a replacement who can -Adrian Cardenas (a .700OPS isn’t out of the question for Cardenas, a guy that slugs & walks more than Barney)

              The three biggest everyday holes for the Cubs after 2011 were Bullpen, 3B, & 1B respectively (& obviously?)

              • Norm

                Well, you just said 1B was filled “acceptably”.
                So are you basically saying that you think re-signing Ramirez (to a multi-year deal, nonetheless) and adding two relief pitchers makes this team a playoff contender?

                • CubFan Paul

                  “re-signing Ramirez (to a multi-year deal, nonetheless) and adding two relief pitchers makes this team a playoff contender?”

                  uh, NO! where the hell did you get that? any of that? geez eff’n Louise ..stick to the topic Norm

                  • Norm

                    “uh, NO! where the hell did you get that? any of that? geez eff’n Louise ..stick to the topic Norm”

                    My bad, it was Kyle that suggested re-signing Ramirez to a 3 year deal.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Sorry, partial brain cramp on my part.  In my mind, CF and 2B were the two biggest offensive holes remaining after the shuffles that were made.  I don’t think that Barney can change that much: bulking up is only part of increasing slugging; the other part is not swinging at anything that might be called a strike.  And although Byrd has played well, he’s more a guy that doesn’t hurt a good team than a guy who helps a bad team (if that makes any sense).   That is, he’s like Coco Crisp was on the Sox: a guy who let them spend more money on “bigger” pieces while waiting for a young piece to develop.


                • CubFan Paul

                  Ok Doc. we will agree to disagree ..this time

  • Drew

    I just dont see a reason we “have” to have a guy like Dolis go 2 innings when, A) It was the 11th game of a season thats seen two off days already, and B) Our starters have averaged almost 6.1 Inn/game. I realize the BP is down a man, but still…

  • Ivy Walls

    May I suggest those immediately frustrated with the W/L results of this edition watch “Moneyball” or just look at Indiana U Men’s BB journey—Oakland stayed the course and eventually won 20 straight into the playoffs after losing Giambi and Damon—IU went from 12-20 to the Sweet 16 and it is said will be ranked #1 next year.

    Looking at the first 10 games Cubs have some real issues now. They can’t score runs without stringing together three or four hits, they have spotty speed and their clean up hitter is batting 6th or 7th. Defensively they are spotty and every error (or extra out) is magnified by the fact that they have trouble scoring runs consistently.

    Pitching; bright spot is that the Cubs have three seemingly bona fide starters who control the game but are pressured because of the run scoring issue I mentioned. The bottom of the rotation needs to be reviewed and possibly changed at least Malholm (to the pen) but I could see both Volstad and Malholm there before May is done. The question is who will replace? Cubs are looking for T Wood, they need a dark horse to step up.

    Worse is the bullpen. Very little confidence or consistency here and because the manager chooses his poison, he will be blamed.

    Outside of that Clevenger is making Soto quite expendable (as is Castillo in AAA) watch for that side show to develop. Byrd is looking more and more like a younger version of Edmunds when the Cubs picked him up some time ago….DFA….too bad.

    And then there is Soriano. Playing hard but not effective at the plate outside of not striking out with men on base too much. Thus I see Cubs making many changes…many changes.

    • JustSwain

      Edmonds? As an example of a bad contract? He hit 19 homers for us in 250 At Bats, and was one of the catalysts to send the Cubs into the post season. They never designated Edmonds for assignment, they just didn’t resign him after 2008.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        I don’t know that I’d call Edmonds a catalyst, but he did provide great OPS: he was all HR, doubles, walks (and K’s).  He was the King of the “True” Outcome: i.e., all batter and pitcher.  At that point, he was a bad contract for the Padres and possibly still the Cardinals: weren’t the Cardinals eating a bit of his salary after trading Edmonds to SD?  (I very well might be misremembering this, but I seem to remember that Edmonds was not happy to leave St. Louis.)

        Ultimately, what Edmonds did was create a lot of runs for the Cubs for a couple of months in which the Cubs were routinely beating the brains out of the opposition.  That might seem like a backhanded compliment, but it’s not: there is absolutely nothing wrong with winning handily.  I think that Edmonds did evaporate in September, but so did most of the rest of the team…..

    • Papa

      I agree pretty much with your assessment of the team based on how the season has gone so far. Regarding Maholm, I can see giving him 1 more start at most before inserting Randy Wells into his role. He has nothing to prove at AAA. If Maholm can’t do it anymore, what’s the point of running him out there?

  • ETS

    The Bear is kind cute. I think if I were an MLB player I’d be excited to come out to that. I’m probably an outlier.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The Cubs should show a Marlin getting devoured by sharks on that new LED board, especially if Jeff is pitching.  (The background can get redder and redder as the game progresses, with buckets of chum featuring Marlin player faces shown between innings….)

      • JustSwain

        Or just a nice swordfish fillet served on a bed of wild rice with a side of seafood risotto? Cubs may be young bears, but at least you can’t get them at upscale supermarkets for $20 a pound.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Dolis blew up because of the error. You can’t expect a relief pitcher to function and throw strikes with a guy on first base after all. I thought Dale was all about not making excuses.

  • Deer

    Yeah I thought that excuse was pretty weak too.