The Cubs have lost all their series this year (including the current one with the Marlins), but they haven’t yet been swept. How about keeping that streak going today, eh boys?

  • Dale Sveum doesn’t think Matt Garza’s unnecessarily long outing last week (119 pitches … in April … with an eight run lead) had a negative impact on his start last night, in which he gave up six earned runs on seven hits and three walks. “I think his stuff was OK,” Sveum said. “It was basically two [home-run] pitches. Other than that, he threw the ball pretty well. His velocity was even better than his first couple of starts actually. I don’t think that had anything to do with it.”
  • By the way: yes, Matt Garza knows how bad he is with the bat. He works on it, including bunting, but it’s just another animal when you’re actually at the plate in a game. He took a bat with him back into the clubhouse after being yanked last night, which he says was for additional bunting work, not for a Carlos Zambrano special.
  • Games at the new Marlins’ ballpark are probably going to give the Cubs’ offense fits for a long time to come, at least until the lineup changes dramatically. With a relatively weak team, the would-be short homers end up deep fly balls; and with a relatively slow team, the offense can’t take advantage of the space and manufacture runs. So, three runs in two games is, perhaps, not much of a surprise.
  • Speaking of the lineup, when discussing where he’s been batting struggling Marlon Byrd (8th, after mostly batting in the middle of the order the last two years), Sveum revealed an interesting belief on batting order, as it relates to the pitches a guy sees: “These days, people get pitched the same and it doesn’t matter what’s going on. You’ll be pitched on how they’re supposed to get you out. It doesn’t matter where you hit in the lineup.” I’m sure there’s some truth there, as video data has continued to improve and show pitchers how to best take a guy on. But, at the same time, a guy batting second, with Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera behind him, is going to see more fastballs in the zone than a guy batting 8th with Matt Garza behind him. He just is.
  • Red Sox pitcher Michael Bowden – the 25-year-old reliever with upside, who is originally from Chicago – has not yet been placed on waivers. He was designated for assignment this past weekend, which gave the Red Sox 10 days to trade, release or waive Bowden. Waivers take three days to clear, so, if they’re going to waive him, it’ll have to be by this weekend. The fact that they haven’t yet placed him on waivers means they’re trying to trade him first. That reminds me, we haven’t yet heard a resolution on the Brandon Allen DFA, either. That came 10 days ago, but sometimes there’s a day or two lag before we hear a resolution. I still don’t think the Cubs make sense as a landing spot, but free, young, high upside players come along only so often.
  • Some early background on the June Draft. It will remind you to be depressed about the changes to the CBA, and how they make the Cubs’ rebuilding job more difficult.
  • Still waiting on compensation going to the Padres for Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod. Intermittently, we heard that it would be settled by the Rule 5 Draft in December, and then some time before Spring Training, and then some time before the end of Spring Training, and then some time before Opening Day, and then … ? I’ve got it in my head that I read there was a new late April deadline, but I can’t seem to find it. I can only assume that the delay is because the expected player to be sent over is a young kid in extended Spring Training, possibly injured – someone like Dustin Geiger. Then again, maybe the delay is related to the front office shakeup in San Diego (Jeff Moorad, who allowed Tom Ricketts/Theo Epstein to talk to and hire Jed Hoyer primarily because Moorad wanted Josh Byrnes as the new GM, is now out as CEO of the team).
  • On Brett Jackson’s insane early season K-rate at AAA Iowa, Baseball America’s Jim Callis isn’t terribly worried yet. “Nobody should panic about anything this early in the season unless it’s injury-related. Jackson is always going to strike out—he fanned 138 times last year—but he’s not going to K in 40 percent of his AB. He’s going to be a solid player for the Cubs.”
  • Ozzie Guillen is still complimenting Castro. Starlin Castro, that is. OMGLOL! See what I did there?!?!?!
  • A man is accusing former Cubs GM Jim Hendry of “stealing his ideas to win championships.” Should I take this one, or do you want to you? You know what, why don’t you all run with it. The possibilities are endless.
  • You’ve got another day and a half to win a ticket to a Cubs/Cards game next week … with me! We can talk about the Cubs, about the meaning of life, and about how perverse it is that I put ketchup on my bison dog. Details on how to win here.
  • Chop

    So are you suggesting that Sveum should move Byrd up in the lineup to break him out of his slump?

    • ferrets_bueller

      I think that they should move him up….to 10th.

    • Brett

      Haha. NOOOOOO! I’m just saying that the concept is interesting, in general. And, in general, guys see better pitches with big time bats behind them (it doesn’t make a crappy hitter a good one, though). In the Cubs’ lineup, those big time bats don’t exist.

      • dob2812

        They’ve been talking about this on Fangraphs a bit lately and I don’t know myself but I haven’t researched it but they’re saying that all the available work shows the protection theory is a myth. So I tend to think Sveum is right here.

        • Brett

          If you’ve got a link or two, I’d love to read them. Thanks, dob.

  • Spoda17

    This post is from the box score blog mainly, but waited until this post so it is fresher… so if it doesn’t make sense for this post that is why… same theme though…

    wow… I sure hope some of you don’t, and hopefully never, actually lead people or manage a staff. If you’re willing to throw the “baby” out with the bathwater already, then wow… Look, I’m not saying this isn’t, and will continue to be, painful, but let’s all take a breath. Making assessments after two weeks just isn’t a good method to anything, managing people, or anything else for that matter… not that it isn’t part of decisions, but if you think Theo and Jed have already failed… then yikes…

    The game thread is moment by moment, and that is a good place to vent your frustrations during the actual game because we are watching it happen… but the blogs after we should be able to take a step back and keep things into perspective. Not that we can’t be critical, or upset, or pissed… We are a fast food society, and we all want it NOW! But.. NOW… isn’t reality.

    If we would have kept Marshall, and Joe Schmo… and signed Fielder… uh, we would still have a shitty farm system and have maybe at .500 record… remember, we are in this to win the world series, not to be a .500 team. Go out and have a steak some times, a real good one, and look around the restaurant… wait for your meal and then enjoy it when it comes… the steak you are eating has been aged for weeks or maybe months… “great” takes time, especially when you start with crap… if all you’ll ever want is a big mac or chicken nuggets… then yes, you will be in pain… physically and emotionally…

  • gratefulled

    So there is someone admitting that it was their original idea to spend 130 million on Soriano? And, does this guy have anything to do with Aaron Miles? I would like a name and an address please.

  • Garrett

    Jim Hendry is to winning championships as Ozzie Guillen is to speaking clear English.

    • Amz

      Hendry is to winning championships as Ozzie is to not pissing off Cuban ex-pats.

  • CubFan Paul

    I have April 15th in my calender for the PTBNL deadline

    • Brett

      Well, April 15 was the previously-stated deadline for the Boston/Chicago PTBNLs, way back when. I can’t seem to find any deadline for the Padres compensation, though my brain keeps telling me “April 20.”

      • TWC

        Your brain keeps saying “4/20” to you, too?!

        • Diesel

          With that being said does anyone else think soto’s decline is due to him not being able to toke up anymore? I’ve heard it really slows things down mentally for some people.

          • Pat

            I would call it unlikely. That said, I can’t understand how marajuana is considered a performance enhancing drug in any sport

  • Josh Klinger

    I am not sure I agree with the protection statement you made, Brett. I was reading a Dave Cameron chat at FG recently and he discussed protection in the lineup. He strongly believes, as you mention, that with all the advanced stats/scouting pitchers will pitch you the way they can get you out. At first, I didn’t believe him, but after I gave it some thought I think that I do. For instance, when Soriano was batting lead-off the idea was to get him to see more fastballs. I think the only reason he had any success there is that he was younger and closer to the prime of his career — not because he saw more fastballs. And towards the end of that experiment, once the league figured it out, Soriano saw a steady diet of breaking pitches low and away despite batting first (something he continues to deal with as he continues to flail away). Once a hitter has been figured out, I would not pitch that hitter any other way, no matter where they bat in the lineup, until they make the adjustment. Be it a propensity to chase the high fastball or slider in the dirt, pitchers today have far too much information to not use it to their advantage. Though, I would love to see some strong statistical evidence to prove me right or wrong.

    Go Cubs!

    • Brett

      If I’m the pitcher, I’m not risking walking the guy in front of Fielder and Cabrera. The advances in technology matter, but nothing changes that first point.

      • TayoSanto

        I would definitely not want to put anyone on base for those two. However, I don’t think a pitcher should avoid throwing the pitches that will most likely get the hitter out because he’s afraid of walking him. MLB pitchers should be able to accomplish this. Either way, there is certainly validity to both points of view. Baseball is good at creating situations like that, gotta love it!

  • Luke

    Not a bad article on the changes to the draft, but I don’t think quite as many early round picks are going to refuse to sign as that article seems to imply in places.  I’m not happy about the new CBA as it affects the draft, but I don’t think it’s going make a significant difference in terms of which players sign and which don’t.  There will be a handful of cases, but I suspect it will be only a handful.

    As for the who Cubs might take: early signs are pointing towards Kyle Zimmer.  He throws hard, he throws strikes, he has command of three pitches now with a fourth on the way, and as a college player he’s more polished and should be able to move up the farm system more quickly.  Kevin Gausman is also a possibility, but I tend to think he’ll be off the board by the time the Cubs pick.  Lucas Giolito is getting a lot of attention as an high school arm (albeit one with some elbow issues), and if he is still on the board at No. 6 the Cubs have a tough decision.

    • Brett

      How about Fried?

      • Luke

        I don’t think the Cubs would complain if they got him, but I think the Cubs will looking for someone that can move through the system and help out in Chicago more quickly. High school arms tend to move more slowly. For a guy like Giolito (if he’s healthy) that may be less of a problem given his higher ceiling (and some scouts think he will move through the minors pretty fast as well).

        On the other hand, Fried is one of the best lefties in the draft, and that’s a powerful incentive.

        • ShootTheGoat

          Luke…Could you see the cubs taking a bat like Zunino over pitching(much needed) if he somehow fell to them at #6?

          • Luke

            No.  That said, I’m not convinced Zunino’s bat is all that special.  He’s a good hitter, but I don’t think he’s a must-draft kind of guy.

    • BD

      Appel, Zimmer, Fried, Giolito (depending on health)

      I would be happy with any one of those 4. Not saying all of them will be available at #6, but I like all 4 of them. The biggest thing for me is when these scouts say “consistent strike thrower” or “good command/control”. If there’s one thing the Cubs need, it’s good SPs that don’t walk batters.

    • Kyle

      No interest whatsoever in Giolito. I know I’m being silly, but “HS pitcher”+”arm problems” is a disqualifying combination. I don’t care if the arm problems are a sunburn.

      I’m pretty happy with the way the draft is shaping up, at least for the No. 6 pick. The organization desperately needs a really good college starter, and there’s almost certainly going to be one or two available at our pick.

    • Spencer

      I’m not sure why guys would refuse to sign because of money at all. They have to know what every team is going to be limited in the amount of money they spend, so if they get drafted and forego signing, they are taking a huge risk that they might make *marginally* more money the following year.

      • Brett

        Especially the top 20 picks or so.

        • Spencer

          yeah. the cap has a much bigger impact on later round picks, no doubt.

  • hansman1982

    “A man is accusing former Cubs GM Jim Hendry of “stealing his ideas to win championships.” Should I take this one, or do you want to you? You know what, why don’t you all run with it. The possibilities are endless. ”

    The great part? This is the kind of shit I deal with on a daily basis from crazy homeowners.

  • Ferrets bueller

    I know our system really needs pitching…but if, by some miracle, buxton was available at the cubs pick….

    Also, I think giolitto is the best pitching prospect. I am NOT a fan of Appel. But, then again…giolitto is only a hs’r, and the cubs need guys close to the majors…

  • Kyle

    Maybe it is just a coincidence that Garza and Samardzija were both bad the next start after Sveum left them out there an inning too long. Maybe.

  • Curt

    Ok here’s my question I still believe that theo /hoyer will turn this around but how will it get done with the draft changed, bc thts how they did it in Boston along with mostly good fa signings, and my second question is if hendry is such a good baseball guy how did everything get so bad that it had to be torn completely down , just trying to understand.

  • Michael Morgan

    In your comment about Byrd, you say “a guy batting second, with Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera behind him, is going to see more fastballs in the zone than a guy batting 8th with Matt Garza behind him. He just is.” And you’re totally right about that, but the 8th spot in NL-lineups (presuming pitcher 9th) is the only spot where “protection” actually produces a demonstrable effect.

  • Tarheel Cub

    “… still complimenting Castro.” Too Funny!

  • Kevin

    Curt, I believe Theo & Jed were taken back by the new draft rules. In the long run it’s probably better that unproven players salaries are pulled back to reasonable levels. On the other hand I believe salaries for proven players are getting way out of control. It appears the only way the Cubs will be competitive again is if their prospects pan out and the Cubs sign big dollar free agents.

    • Dave

      I don’t understand why the new CBA would come as such a shock to them.
      Wouldn’t they have had some idea of the changes that were being proposed by ownership to the players. If they did not know certainly Ricketts would have.

      • Luke

        They knew there would be changes to the draft that would be designed to reign in spending, but no one expected the league to take away draft picks if a team exceeds their budget by a mere 5%.  The draft changes in the CBA came as a surprise to most of the league.  That was Selig’s pet project, and from many accounts he had to convince his own owners to swallow it just as much as he did the union.  And a lot of them didn’t like it.

        It’s the loss of draft picks that is the most devastating.  I don’t think that feature survives the next CBA. The owners may find their own GMs going on strike otherwise.

  • ETS

    Bowden for Byrd. Or Lendy Castillo for Byrd. I’m fine with either. Pay the salary too.

  • Idaho Razorback

    Trade Lendy Castillo for Byrd? Trade our pitcher for our center fielder? ETS are you Ed Lynch?

    • ETS

      If we did that then we could send Castillo to Iowa without Philly reclaiming him. At this rate I can’t see Castillo staying in chicago all year.

      • BN Virgin

        I can see him staying the full year (or, at least the amount of time required before he get’s DL’d,) but only for the simple fact that it’s not like he makes our team much worse. I agree with you that he isn’t good enough to be on the major league team but, that same thing can be said about a few other guys on the Cubs as well.