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The Chicago Cubs have had a rough start to the year – this is not news to you. So far, though, they’ve managed to avoid the sweep in all of their series (quite an accomplishment, eh?). Here’s hoping they can keep it up today when they close out their stop at the circus in Miami. It’s an early game today, so maybe you can zone out at work and follow online.

Jeff Samardzija gets start number three today, and a chance to veer in one of two directions: is he the guy who was absurdly, ridiculously good in his first start, or the guy who was kind-of-OK for four innings and then very, very hittable in his last start? I don’t know if it’s just the ridiculous hopefulness of being a Cubs fan, but I tend to think he’s the former. We’ll see.

The lineup is the current “normal” lineup, complete with David DeJesus back in at the top, Alfonso Soriano inexplicably still batting cleanup, Bryan LaHair down at number six, and Geovany Soto and Marlon Byrd collecting outs at the bottom.

For the Marlins, the guy to watch out for is Greg Dobbs. That’s right. Greg Dobbs. Ok, maybe Brett Hayes.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (3-9) at Miami Marlins (6-6), 11:40am CT on WGN and MLBN.

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. You should participate in the madness. And, of course, for those who aren’t into message board-style game threads, please feel free to use the comments on this post for your in-game commentary/outbursts.

The Series Preview for this series lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Jeff Samardzija (2-0, 3.95 ERA, 13.00 K/BB)

versus

Ricky Nolasco (1-0, 3.46 ERA, 1.000 WHIP)

Miami Marlins Lineup

1. Jose Reyes, SS

2. Emilio Bonafacio, CF

3. Hanley Ramirez, 3B

4. Logan Morrison, LF

5. Giancarlo Stanton, RF

6. Greg Dobbs, 1B

7. Donnie Murphy, 2B

8. Brett Hayes, C

9. Ricky Nolasco, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. David DeJesus, RF

2. Darwin Barney, 2B

3. Starlin Castro, SS

4. Alfonso Soriano, LF

5. Ian Stewart, 3B

6. Bryan LaHair, 1B

7. Geovany Soto, C

8. Marlon Byrd, CF

9. Jeff Samardzija, P

  • RWakild

    Why is the Cubs top home run threat hitting sixth??? This lineup thing is really making me start to question Sveum.

    • CubFan Paul

      Sveum was even complaining about a lack of HRs and Slugging percentage lastnite, so I don’t get it either

  • rcleven

    When does Soriano get his day off?

    • art

      especially after what i hear, he played a single into a double for not being into the game/laziness yesterday. didn’t see the game, what happened on that play, thanks.

  • Puma0821

    The Marlon-O-Meter is @ .081. Where will it end up today?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      .447.

    • rcleven

      “It’s only been 10 games and 34 at-bats, and Sveum said he wants to see what happens at the 100 at-bat mark. Byrd is batting eighth; last year, he hit fifth or sixth.”

      66 more PAs

      • Richard Nose

        Jebus, 20 more games.

    • EQ76

      .081. He’ll get HBP and walk twice. then get pulled in the 8th.

  • Tibbler54

    You said LaHair was hitting 7th but he’s 6th in the lineup so which is it? They need to move him to 4th and put Sori down at 6th.

  • TWC

    “…so maybe you can zone out at work and follow online.”

    ayup.

  • Kyle

    Brian LaHair is batting that low because LaHair is not a very good hitter. He’s had some BABIP magic hiding the fact that he’s in the process of being exposed by MLB pitchers, but that won’t last.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That may prove to be the case. But I have hard time believing that, by this point in his career, there isn’t a huge book out on him. Small sample size this and last year, but, so far, he’s hitting – and walking (12.5% (again, super small sample size)). I like that.

      • Richard Nose

        Man last night must’ve really gotten to Kyle. Somebody’s gotta stabilize him today. Blowin up these threads with hatemail!

      • Kyle

        He’s not really hitting though. *Gob voice* It’s an illluuusssioon.

        He’s struck out in 35% of his at-bats. His stats are being propped up right by now a 22.2% HR/FB rate, and a .532 BABIP. That’s not a misprint: .532 BABIP.

        • ferrets_bueller

          thisthisthisthisthis.

          lol @ people who think lahair is a savior, he’s quite possibly the worst player in the lineup.

          • Still Love the Cubs

            Umm….nope

            That would be Mr. Marlon Byrd and it’s not even close.

          • Cubs Dude

            No one think he’s a “savior” Thats just stupid. Worse player in the lineup?? Yeah right… His babip not to your liking?

    • CubFan Paul

      LaHair has a BABIP of .538 now, .375 after his callup last year, .361 at Iowa, and .344 in 2010. He’s never had a BABIP lower than .327 in his career

      Just because you don’t think he’s a good hitter doesn’t mean that he can’t sustain a BABIP above. 300 this year ..but my point is (mixed with yours): why not bat him higher til he falls on his face or MLB staffs figure him out/expose his BABIP magic?

      • Kyle

        There’s a wide gulf between “over .300″ and “over .500.”

        I have no doubt that he can maintain a BABIP around .325. He’s still going to be a bad hitter.

        • KyleNovak

          Put down the haterade. Seriously. You’ve drank enough this morning.

          You’re not going to look at the fact that he’s had a walk-rate around 10% during his career? His steadily increasing power numbers since he was promoted to AAA (still with Seattle and a very large sample size, by the way). Yes, he was an older player in the minors, but his steadied and continued improvement (culminating in his dominant season last year), project to at least a degree of success in MLB.

          Is he going to hit like this for the whole season? Of course not. But calling him bad? Based on the fact that you’re throwing around a K-rate, BABIP, and a HR/FB rate after a measly 29 PA? Seems like you’re putting an awful lot of stock in that tiny sample size to make a bold and risky proclamation.

          And I disagree.

          Will he K 22-25%. Sure. Will his BABIP and HR/FB normalize? Yes. He isn’t going to be an upper-tier first baseman with the bat, but his power and other statistics project to be 85-90% of what Carlos Pena did in 2011. (Pena has always walked more). I completely fail to see how that is “bad.”

          • Cubs Dude

            I completely agree KyleNovak. LaHair is not ever going to be Pujols, but he has a lot of qualitites this Cubs team could absolutely use. Obp over .400, power, takes lots pitches. And some of these jokesters are calling him the Cubs worse player?? Are you kidding me???

        • Cubs Dude

          Kyle, you think you’re an expert with you BABIP crap. Sure, LaHair is not a .350 hitter at the mlb level, but i sure as hell would like to see what he can do with everyday at bats. Who cares about Jeff Baker hitting against lefties??

          • drew

            I agree that LaHair should get regular AB, (and on this team, probably hitting 4th) but calling a legitimate stat like BABIP “crap” is just taking away from your point. Its a valid reason why LaHairs OBP has no shot at being over. 400 in a few months.

            These statistics arent crap, and,( save a one-in-a-million Jose Batista-type case) data like K-rates, walk rates, etc give us a pretty good idea how we can expect a player to perform in the future.

  • Cubbie Blues

    “Bryan LaHair down at number seven”

    LaHair is batting 6th not number seven.

     

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah, thanks. Slip of the finger.

      • Cubbie Blues

        I should edit my post now that you changed the post. I could come up with many jokes to make with your reply.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Haha.

  • MaxM1908

    I’m a huge Sveum supporter but even I have to admit that the lineups are becoming perplexing. We’ve sat Mather despite his being the best hitter in Spring training. We bat LaHair down the lineup despite his above average at bats so far. We keep Byrd in despite him being 3 for 37. Soriano keeps batting cleanup despite having shown no power this year. I’ll continue to be patient with this “plan” whatever it may be, but unfortunately, the results are not indicating this is the best way to do things.

    • rcleven

      Have to agree. Something needs to be done to shake up this line-up. Moving LaHair to 6 isn’t it.

  • Kyle

    Really excited to see Samardzija pitch today.

    But for the love of all that is holy Dale, if there’s a chance to save his arm a bit, do it.

    • TWC

      Heh.  “Holy Dale!” might just be my new BleacherNation curse phrase.

  • CastrotoBarneytoLaHair

    Not to mention Soto is hitting a robust .125, while Clevenger is at .538….Small sample size, I know, but just sayin….

  • BN Virgin

    As of right now I truly think we’d have a better chance of scoring runs with Spellcheck hitting 7th with Soto and Byrd hitting 8 & 9, respectively. Shark isn’t a horrible hitter and with his aggressive swing, if he makes contact it’s gonna travel a bit. If(Can’t stress that word enough) Byrd makes contact, his weak swing may be able to get it to 2 hop the outfielder. As much as I’d hate to do anything that LaRussa made popular, let’s face it, voodoo magic and whatnot. Oh, and it’s not like it will make our offense any worse.

  • RY34

    lets face it, nobody on this staff whether it be a coach or player has a f-ing clue about anything, its just throw the cards up and let them fall where they may. another blowout coming today.

  • ByrdWatching

    I would like to see Lahair in the 4 spot, Soriano in the 5 spot and Stewart in the 6 spot… It breaks up the lefties and it may even protect Lahair a little bit because the two automatic outs, as of late arent behind him.

  • Michael

    They are unwatchable. What are the built to be? small ball team but they cant do the small things long ball team but have no power. what does the boy wonder think he has built.

    • TSB

      No balls baseball

  • Dustin S

    The attendance at these Marlins games reminds me of our local minor hockey team games, where there are like 5 people in a whole section of the stands. I think you could pause the game and individually count them all as the camera pans around without much trouble. I know it’s an early game, but still has to be a little disappointing 2 weeks into a brand new stadium.

  • Chris

    Hey, I am 100% into the rebuilding process, so I’m ok with taking a bunch of losses. BUT – will they please take Byrd out of the lineup for a few consecutive games. He is AWFUL right now. Has anyone watched his at bats? It looks as though he is only using half of his body during the swing. If I could make it over the plate (which I can’t), he couldn’t hit me!

  • art

    remember this is the team Theo gave Dale. he told us his plan, so we have no choice but to sit back and watch.

    or IMO, to hell with that extra year and bring Jackson up, play Mather in LF and see the future develop. when and if LaHair fails, we bring up Rizzo. if the team plays bad with the kids, we can always think of something else to bitch about, lol.

  • Juan

    Byrd looks like a little league player up there just horrible.

  • TSB

    That the Cubs will stink this season was a given; however, it would be nice if at least they went through the motions of trying to win a few games.Don’t play players by looking at the salary schedules; while we’re waiting for the future players in the minors to come to the bigs, play the best (or at least the hottest)of what you have on the current roster.

  • Chris

    Byrd looks embarrassingly bad. Very odd regression. He get off the roids or something?

    I’m ok with losing (for this year) – I just don’t want to look ugly while doing so. Byrd is ugly right now. I agree, replace him with Johnson, Mather, Campana, Jackson in June – anyone!

  • czechxican

    Anyone else hearing pins drop at Marlin Park now? pathetic amount of people in there

    • Still Love the Cubs

      I didn’t hear a pin drop, but I did hear the velcro one time when the batter was readjusting his gloves. That’s just about as bad.

  • gratefulled

    I really wanted to like Dale as our manager. But, the fact he started Byrd today is enough to make me wish we had a different manager. What a f@$&ing idiot!

    Nice at bat outta LaHair! (nice base running too) Go Cubs!

  • Cubs Dude

    I don’t care what any of you LaHair haters think. He IS THE 2nd BEST HITTER on the team and he gets on base at a .500 clip. And the only guy that has legit homerun pop. What more do you want? I could care less about your babip bullshit, he can play. You can jock Baker all you want, but LaHair should be starting everday and batting 4th. Plus he takes a ton of pitches. Isn’t that what the new FO wants?

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    So, yeah, it was just stupid Cubs optimism…

    • Cubs Dude

      Maybe I am overly optimistic about LaHair, but at least he brings something to the table that these other guys haven’t been… Right??

      • Cheryl

        He brings a lot to the table. But the way he’s being used still leads me to the conclusion he’s not in the cubs’ plans for the future.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        LaHair brings power and walks, which are the two areas killing the Cubs’ offense.  The Cubs have been outhomered 13-5, out double/tripled 23-19 and outwalked 40-32.  Now, half of that is pitching (well, 45%: a small fraction of the doubles/triples is fielding), but having only 5 HR and 19 other XBH puts the Cubs in last and 3rd to last respectively in the NL.  That would challenge even Phillies pitching….

  • Jay

    On our way to 3-10 boys…for the love of God sit Soto and Bryd. They are only hurting the Cubs chances of trading them. I know everyone wants Jackson but lets wait for getting the extra year of service. We all knew the Cubs were going to suck so lets switch it up. Play Cleavinger everyday. Put Reed out in center. Shake it up. Its it broke, fix it. And we are definitely broke.

  • ty

    Randyboy—this is Jed–yes, Jeff has a swollen hand. We will see you in a few days! Yes, the bars are still open til about 4 a.m. Yeah, Trish had that new augmentation and her sisters are still dancing. Yes, rededication to what you do best! Yeah, Allegiant Airlines–we are cutting expenses–carry a sack lunch and you will land in Joliet.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    Ah, good old Pat Hughes is trying to blame the Cubs woes on lack of “clutch” hitting again.  Going into todays game, the opposition had all of 5 more “clutch” hits than the Cubs.  I suspect that the 12 more extra base hits (clutch or otherwise) and 8 more walks are why the opposition is winning….

    • Njriv

      Both points are valid, both the approaches at the plate (very aggressive) and the lack of driving in runners in scoring position have been a problem.

    • hansman1982

      There have been a few times already this year in early innings were we will get runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 or no outs and take 2 outs to get a run in.

      It would be interesting to see the Cubs current LD rate – are we seeing an already weak offense getting struck down even further by some bad luck?

  • Diesel

    Hopefully the ‘cubs way’ being taught through the whole organization includes taking pitches a little more and getting good pitches to swing at. Also try need to teach them that despite what sammy did when he was on the roids it is not easy to hit homeruns at Wrigley.

  • hansman1982

    Could you imagine how ugly it would be if Hendry and Quade were still in charge in here?

    • Kyle

      That’d be horrible. We might be 3-10 with the worst record in baseball. Glad we avoided that…

      • TonyP

        LMAO

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Wasn’t there something about sarcasm being easy?

        • Kyle

          Touche. Guilty as charged.

      • Ferrets bueller

        But there would be no plan for the future that way. There is this way.

      • Mpr

        Let me fix that statement for you Kyle.

        That’d be horrible. We might be 3-10 with the worst record in baseball and absolutely no plan for the future.

        • Kyle

          We have a plan to draft really well and hope that turns into good players.

          Considering that roughly two dozen other teams have an identical plan, that doesn’t really give us any sort of competitive advantage.

  • Gordy85

    I know we all need something to talk about and watching losing baseball isn’t fun at all. Nobody likes the Cardinals, but you have to admit, they get the job done. How? Is it by signing BIG MONEY free-agents so they can compete enough to make the playoffs? No. They have a core group of guys and they buy the right pieces at the right times. If we plug up our lineup and spend our money on the wrong guys, we cost ourselves more in the long run.

    This season has to run it’s course and the young guys will be brought up at the right time instead of rushed in like Patterson and Pie were. All of you wanting to rush the young guys along will be the first to BOO them when they don’t produce like All-Starts immediately and the decision making powers know that.

    Our core is being built and some payroll is going to come off the books. We just need to be patient and look for small victories. We are running more, our approach at the plate is different (although still not successful), and the pitching hasn’t been hideous (That doesn’t mean it has been good. There have been bright spots.)

    Keeping Ramirez would have helped, but the way he goes about his work would have kept us from changing the culture (Hasn’t Castro improved?). There is a lot that goes into most of these decisions: Motivation, respect, team chemistry, etc.

     

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