Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I’ll be back in Chicago tomorrow to take in Tuesday and Wednesday’s games against the Cardinals (probably in the right field bleachers, as close to the lower-right corner (if you were looking out from home plate) as I can get). I’ll be hanging at a Wrigleyville bar before the game – any suggestions?

  • Starlin Castro says he’s fine after taking a Johnny Cueto fastball off the arm yesterday. “I feel like it broke my whole arm,” Castro said. “But after going to the ground and then running the bases, the hurt was gone. I feel good …. [it hit me] a little bit on top; not right on the bone. I’m very good. I’m ready for tomorrow, of course.” I’m sure I wasn’t the only one starting to slide my body into fetal position when I watched Castro crumple to the ground. That he’s OK is quite a relief.
  • Dale Sveum is getting heat for his decision to pull Bryan LaHair after the 5th inning yesterday in a double switch that saw Joe Mather go to first base, and Alfonso Soriano stay in the game. Sveum defended the move by pointing out that LaHair was likely to face a lefty the next time up, if he had stayed in the game. “It was probably going to be the last meaningful at-bat [LaHair] was going to get off a right-hander,” Sveum said. “If they had two right-handers, setup guy and a closer, I wouldn’t be double switching for LaHair there.” As it played out, the Cubs sent two lefties up to the plate in the 9th inning anyway – both of whom represented the tying run, and both of whom struck out.
  • The Cubs will have to make a roster move today when they add new reliever Michael Bowden. The guess here is that one of the relievers will go out, either Scott Maine heading back to AAA, Lendy Castillo going back to the Phillies (if they want him), or Shawn Camp or Rodrigo Lopez getting bounced.
  • Farm Director Oneri Fleita was taking in the Iowa Cubs this weekend. Primarily, he was observing Brett Jackson, who isn’t quite ready to hit the bigs, but the Cubs are obviously watching him closely.
  • Speaking of Jackson, Sveum is toeing the company line: “It’s just the plan we want to stick with and develop him. He still needs to develop. He’s still striking out a little too much. He needs to be more conscious and a little bit better in that situation. If you’re striking out that much in Triple-A, it’ll be that much more against big league pitching. Until you get those 500 at-bats at Triple-A, it’s something the organization and Theo [Epstein] want to impress on our young guys is you’ll stay and play and develop.”
  • Milestone bonuses (i.e., $1 million for your 500th home run) and personal services deals built into MLB contracts are no longer going to be permitted. Both are essentially ways to include additional money in deals, which money would not be considered “guaranteed” for purposes of luxury tax calculations. That’s a no-no. Albert Pujols’ deal with the Angels included both, and that deal will be allowed to stand. But, going forward, no more.
  • MLBullets at BCB, featuring the White Sox falling backwards into Philip Humber. Would be nice if the Cubs could stumble into something like that.
  •!/Shawn_Oetzel Shawn

    What I don’t understand regarding LaHair – all off-season the Cubs kept saying they were giving LaHair the 1B job and he would get every opportunity to show he belonged in the Majors – yet they sit him against some LH Starters and then take him out in key situations – when he has been one of their more productive hitters. He should have been hitting clean-up from the start of the season and if he is the Starter at 1B he should be playing everyday no matter who is pitching – if he fails and slumps then you can make a move – but the team doesn’t really know any more about LaHair than they did before

  • Deer

    Why doesn’t Sveum let LaHair get some ABs against lefties yet insist on Stewart facing lefties?

    • Brett

      Stewart doesn’t have a super-strong split, whereas LaHair does. (As does DeJesus.)

  • SirCub

    Let’s call Bryan Lahair what he is: the best hitter on the team right now. You don’t pull your best bat out of the lineup. Do you see the Reds constantly platooning and double switching Joey Votto to avoid lefties?

    • Ivy Walls

      No Castro is, but only if LaHair could play a serviceable LF than bringing up Rizzo and BJackson might put some pop in this lineup. Remember what Beane told Howe, defense doesn’t count OBP does….

      • Noah

        Of course, the movie didn’t show everything in the book. It’s not that defense doesn’t count. Defense DOES count. Valuing defense better than other clubs is one of the huge things the Rays have done to be successful. 2002 wasn’t some grand experiment by Billy Beane. He’d already done the exact same thing and focused on OBP for half a decade by that point.

        What the book Moneyball ACTUALLY said is that there are skills that are undervalued. In 2000-2002, that skill was the ability to draw walks. Guys who hit .250 but had OBPs of .350 were undervalued. Eventually, as everyone caught on to OBP and quantitative analysis, the things that are harder to analyze using statistics (fielding in particular) became the place where value could be found.

        Moneyball IS NOT about OBP above all else. It is about maximizing wins per dollar spent by bringing in players with the skills that baseball at large undervalues.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Another way to look at Moneyball is that it distinguished between what the Yankees were doing and what people believed they were doing.  People believed that the Yanks had great fielding in key positions because “it is known” that you have to be strong up the middle to win.  However, the Yankees actually were average to flatout bad there: Jeter, Williams, Posada, Knoblach & Soriano created many more runs with their bats than they surrendered with their gloves that the Yanks came out ahead.  (Great K rates from startign pitchers helped, too.)  People believed that the Yanks were great “clutch” hitters because “it is known” that clutch hits put teams into post-season.  However, the Yankees actually batted in the clutch just like they always batted (i.e., well!) and what separated them from other teams was both their power and how often they batted with men on base. Etc., etc…

          • Noah

            Excellent analysis Doc. I’d say the other thing that the book Moneyball focused on that the movie entirely glossed over was the importance of the draft to small market teams.

  • Spencer

    Sveum is like, really, really, gungho on the whole righty/lefty matchup thing. With respect to both hitting and when using relievers. There are advantages, to be sure, but it’s weird.

    • Sinnycal

      It’s like he’s waving a big sign that says “Look at me managing this baseball game” and hoping to get on tv.

      • FromFenwayPahk

        Sarcasm? Right?

  • 1060Ivy

    Wrigleyville Wednesday afternoon bar suggestion for a day in the bleachers – Murphy’s Bleachers. The small bar up the few steps from the main floor is a usual meeting place. It’s less crowded than the main bar or outdoor areas.

  • Ryan

    Can we dump Soto yet?

    • Cedlandrum

      This whole dump Soto thing is getting absurd. He is exactly 44 AB’s into the season. He hasn’t had a good go of it, but he also has had no luck. My count is 4 balls that he has hammered that if the wind wasn’t blowing straight in would have been homeruns. He would be sitting at 5 and leading the team by far. Not that this is great but his avg would be sitting at .227 which is a bit more respectable. I know this is a what have you done for me lately sport, but it is important to think a little beyond 44 AB’s. He isn’t going to hit .150.

      Historically Soto has had 2 of the best seasons by a Catcher. Soto’s rookie year he had the 89th best OPS ever of any catcher. In his third year he actually was much better but didn’t have the AB’s to qualify. He was just short of 400 AB’s for the year but had and OPS of .890 which would have tied him with Gary Carter for 55th all time. I subtracted guys from this year.

      So I don’t understand the angst unless you just started following the team last year. I understand that last year wasn’t great but we get tied up too much in video game numbers. If you have a catcher who can hit 15-20 hrs you have an decent to average or better catcher. His OBP was top 10 in a bad year. He has the potential of an elite offensive player, his defense is much improved, yesterday notwithstanding and when all of that fails, he is still a serviceable catcher who is better then 2/3 of the catchers in baseball.

      • Norm

        Completely agree.
        2010, Soto had the best OPS of any catcher, he was just injured and didn’t play in 130 games.
        There is ZERO reason not to give him every opportunity until July 31st, to improve/get back to what he was.
        I don’t think he has it in him, but so what? Give him every opportunity to try.
        Steve Clevenger is not a reason to trade Soto at his all time low in value.

        • CubFan Paul

          The Rays are looking for a catcher now, it would be nice to get some young pitching from them

          • rcleven

            At this point in time what makes you think the Rays would even have a interest in Soto. I would think they would have more interest in Clevenger or Castillo. Neither of them would bring a pitcher out of the Rays.

            • CubFan Paul

              “Clevenger or Castillo. Neither of them would bring a pitcher out of the Rays”

              But the veteran Soto would

      • Cubmig

        It may not be the kind of “definitive logic” one admits to, but we are Cubs fans and we live in the moment. So when some guy dumps on us (day-by-day in the git-go) by not living up to expectations, we say: “Dump him.”

    • djriz

      There is really no need to rush to trade anybody.
      There is no player we HAVE to make room for.
      Let’s wait until some team is desperate and may feel the need to overpay.
      Soto, Marmol, Dempster and maybe even Baker could be useful players on playoff teams, let them come to us, or possibly get other teams in a bidding war. If we just trade them now, we’ll just get players that are about to be DFA!

  • rcleven

    The 2 lefty experiment is working out well so far and needed. Lendy still needs seasoning but still has a upside. Camp has been somewhat effective and seem a Sveum favorite. Got to figure Lopez pulls the short straw.

  • chris margetis

    Check out the bar downstairs at the Improv Olympics next to Salt and Pepper on Clark just south of Addison. Good drink specials and pretty funny dude there who’s schtick is he’s Rick Sutcliffe’s nephew. Tell him Opening Day trivia champ Omar Little sent you.

  • rcleven

    Would the Cubs consider a six man rotation? The Wsox had special needs at the time they brought Humber up and used him in a six man rotation with limited success. After watching Humber pitch the last couple of seasons I am still not convinced he is any more than a number three or four starter. He just caught lighting in a bottle.

    • Deer

      I don’t think we have 6 starters worthy of a spot. Volstad is on his way to pitching himself out of the rotation anyway.

      • rcleven

        Volstad is giving the Cubs what his ERA said he would give them. Run support has been weak for all starting pitchers. Just have to score five runs to win when he pitches.

      • Brian

        Actually, Volstad is looking pretty good outside of the results. He’s striking out 2 more batters per 9 than his career average, walking 1 batter less per 9 than his average, and giving up half as many home runs as average.

        He’s getting extremely unlucky with a .325 BABIP and a ridiculously low 43.7% LOB% (down from his career of over 69.6%).

        He’ll be just fine as these things normalize.

  • mpope30

    Did anyone else see Lahair ask if he was out of the game on the way back to the dugout from second base? I’m pretty sure he was thinking the same thing I was – If he got a hit, that meant Soriano would bat last and Mather would replace him in left. Which, in my opinion, makes WAY more sense than taking Lahair (your best hitter) out of the game. You also put Mather in a position where he is comfortable and much better than the guy he’s replacing. He can say what he wants about righty/lefty match-ups, but anyone watching that game knew right away that would come back to bite them later if the game was close. I am not a big fan of the way Dale is managing this team at all. I know the team is going to lose a majority of their games, but we are giving them away right now……

    • rcleven

      I don’t agree with a lot of Sveum’s calls so far but he has only tried to win. The Cubs had plenty of chances to win yesterday. He will take the blame for his players failure’s.

    • CubFan Paul

      “but anyone watching that game knew right away that would come back to bite them later if the game was close”

      It’s Quade all over again, trying to out think the f’n room

    • hardtop

      oh totally! i was scratching my head so hard on that one i was bleeding from the scalp. sori had done a whole lot of nothing and continued to do the same throught the game. pull your rbi leader and maybe your best hitter, by the numbers, so far? bizarre barely describes that move.

  • Tarheel Cub

    I was wondering about the upside on Michael Bowden – does anyone have good info on this kid?

    • Norm

      Upside? 10th man of pitching staff?

    • Brett

      Article forthcoming today.

    • Noah

      Yeah, from my understanding his upside is being a potential decent 7th inning guy. That’s about it.

    • rcleven

      He is in his sixth year of pro ball. Has a mid 5 Era with limited MLB experience. Boston considered him for their last bull pen spot and lost the coin flip. Was about to be optioned back to AAA for roster reasons. Being 25 he still has potential. Should improve ERA with moving to a weaker division.

  • Jay Anderson Jr

    Sveum is looking like he’s in over his head. It’s time to stop all the righty/lefty crap and just play the best hitters/players. I think our everday line up should be

    1)CF Campana
    2)2B Barney
    3)SS Castro
    4)1B Lahair
    5)LF Soriano/Mather
    6)3B Stewart
    7)C Soto/Clevenger
    8)RF Dejesus/Mather

    Mather, Soriano and Dejesus should split starts evenly. Soto should get all starts against lefties, and split starts with Clevenger vs righties. All other days off should be due to scheduled rest, and never lefty/righty splits, unless you use the splits to schedule the planned day off. If Soto starts on a day Soriano doesn’t, move him to the 5 hole and Mather to the 7 hole.

    • Mrp

      What do you have against a guy that has been getting on base at a .400 clip? I’m confused as to why you think DeJesus shouldn’t be playing as much as he currently does.

      • hardtop

        yeah, his OBP dictates he should be in the front of the order and playing daily.

      • Drew

        Career OBP (Minors and Majors):

        Darwin Barney – .328

        Tony Campana – .342

        David Dejesus – .365

        These numbers are even a bit unfair to Dejesus, who has logged 80% of his PA at the ML level, while Barney (23%) and Campana (10%) have mostly MiLB numbers to go off of.

        Regardless of anyones opinion on DB and TC, you have to admit Dejesus needs to be somewhere at the top.

      • Jay Anderson Jr

        I have nothing against Dejesus. I’m very happy with his play. If you wanna bat him 2nd and Barney 8th, I’m ok with that. It was not a knock against Dejesus.

    • djriz

      Jay, your new baby is slacking off. I think it’s time she gets the Cubs another win! :-)

  • Matt Murton

    You can’t be Lucky’s as far as pre game bars go. It’s classic Wrigley, the sandwiches are unreal, and it pretty much rains Old Style in there. No better way to kick off the Cubs/Cards series

    • Matt Murton


  • Tank

    People really don’t believe Campana is good…right? IF he is the “best” player available this cubs team is terrible

    • Noah

      Jay Anderson Jr. does. But he’s about the only one.

    • MaxM1908

      I think people just like Campana because he’s exciting. He’s the type of guy you believe can score from first on a hard hit single. He can beat the throw to first on a sac bunt. He adds a little excitement to a team that’s desperately missing some. I don’t think he’s the best option in center, but he is fun to watch.

      • CubFan Paul

        He’s not fun to watch on defense ..Campana barely qualifies as below average defender

        • hansman1982

          but, but, he can beat out a soft grounder to third…or a bunt – never mind that he only did that in 30% of his PA’s last year and in order to be a useful leadoff guy you should be doing that 34% of the time. Never mind his Josh Vitters-esque 5% walk rate or his 19% K rate.

          I want to see him play as the regular to see if maybe playing daily can get him to settle in and get that OBP closer to .330 where, with his speed, he would actually be somewhat useful before we call up Jackson, but considering his BB and K rates are in line with his performance in the minors (career 7% BB rate and 15% K rate) I think the best bet would be sending him to someone like the Tigers who could use him in the 9th as a pinch runner for Fielder about 6 times a year.

  • Chaz Mulherin

    Ha! Campana leading off. Gotta love some cubs fans

  • Larry Bittner

    I say the whole “Lahair” issue has to do with his back. My guess is that the Cubs don’t want to tip to the other teams just how bad it really is right now. Lahair seemed to be walking and getting up from his slides very carefully. Anyone else noticed this yesterday??

  • Stu

    I am curious if decisions will start being made based on revenue. It is fine to talk up a good game about building it the right way, fundamentals, etc. There is only one problem with this at the end of the day. It is still a business with the “product” being on the field.

    What I gather is that the current regime is buying time to pay down debt, replace bad contracts with more “friendly” contracts, etc. When the revenue starts dropping off a cliff around June/July when they are 20-60 or so, we will finally see the future on the field from AAA. It will be an attempt to try to maintain some sort of interest in a product that appears to have no chance right now.

    Why would a family drop $200 today to see a product that has no chance? It is like being forced to pay for a product from a company with the idea that with the profits made, the company will then have the resources to produce the product that you really wanted.

  • Cubs Dude

    It seems to me if the Cubs are paying the full salary when they trade a player like they did again in the Byrd deal, they should be getting back a lot more than they have. I know the cubs are under budget, but the 6.5 mill could be used for future signings. Obviously Byrd looked like garbage early, but come on… Whats the point of dealing for Bowden and paying Byrds salary when Bowden has an upside of a 7th inning guy?? Seems pretty weak to me…

    • Norm

      What’s the point of keeping Byrd?

      1) Keep Byrd and watch him leave as a free agent
      2) Trade Byrd for a guy that you have under control for a few years that has a VERY SMALL chance of contributing/improving in the next 3 years.

      For a team that has it’s hopes on winning something this year, #1 is the way to go. For the Cubs? Option 2 seems the better choice.

      • Cubs Dude

        Trust me I wanted Byrd out big time. I couldn’t stand watching him hit. But all I am saying is for the Cubs to pay his full salary, they couldn’t do better than that?? I would have thought they could do better. I guess not…

        • DocPeterWimsey

          It was widely-reported that the Cubs were shopping Byrd since January at least.  Had another team wanted Byrd badly enough, then they would have offered the Cubs a better package than the Sox did.  So, it looks like 28 other teams were telling us that the Cubs couldn’t get much more than Bowden for a (nearly) cost-free Byrd.

          • Cubs Dude

            Point taken, but it still seems like they got a pile of crap for 6.1 million and Byrd.

  • chris margetis

    I’m never for ridiculous lineup/fielding changes, however, it’s been brought up many times that LaHair should be moved to left and Rizzo brought up. Again, under any other circumstance I’d argue vehemently against a move like that. However, given Soriano’s horrid fielding, could LaHair actually be any worse there short term? If the plan is to hope he lights it up at the plate and move him toward the deadline, I would think putting him in the OF would actually enhance his trade value.


    • Cubs Dude

      As bad as Sori is in left, I think LaHair is thought to be worse out there than Soriano is. Which seems hard to believe I know…. But who know what they’ll do when they bring Rizzo up in a couple months if LaHair is still hitting.

      • BN Virgin

        Which is greater? The margin between LaHair and Sori’s offensive abilities or the margin between LaHair and Sori’s defensive abilities? I have only seen LaHair play outfield once so I do not know. My thinking is that at this point Sori doesn’t appear to be able to contribute near what LaHair can at the plate, and surely LaHairs defense can’t be THAT much worse than Sori’s. You wouldnt think, anyway.

        • Cubs Dude

          Yeah good points BN. But I also think by the time Rizzo is up, guys like B Jax, and Sappelt will be coming up too. So the outfield will be extremely crowded. But if Lahair still has a .450 obp by then, he’s gotta play somewhere. Right?? Hopefully Sori will be gone by the point too.

          • BN Virgin

            Completely agree. Tough to take a guy like that out of the lineup.

          • Luke

            If LaHair still has a .450 OBP by then, there will probably be a decent trade market for LaHair.  No one is going to give up a Mike Trout for him, but could pull a better return than Colvin+LeMahieu did.

      • GraceSanberg

        If this true, then corrective measures should be part of the future development strategy. The time to add defensive flexibility is during the early years in the minors. Gotta love the flexibility that Clevinger and Mather bring.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    The move that perplexed me yesterday was when Stewart came up with the sacks loaded, one out, against one of the toughest lefties in the league in Chapman. Pinch hitting with Baker was a no brainer there.
    Dale needs to learn that the key to being a good coach is to put your players in situations where they have the best chance to succeed. He failed in this case.

    • Cubs Dude

      I thought the same thing there. Stewart was in over his head big time there. I bet the shot of him coming thru was below 10%.

  • hansman1982

    Thanks to our fearless leader, I am going to the Cubs game on Wednesday. Thanks to my house, child and wife being black holes of despair and money, I will just be travelling down for the day from Des Moines.

    Anyone have any tips on getting to Wrigley from the west side while avoiding as much rush hour traffic (sans traffic I will be getting to wrigley around 9-930 (with traffic, God only knows)) as possible? Would it be best to stop at a park and ride and ride the train halfway across Chicago or just brave the traffic?

    If riding the El is the best, where should I get on? Is there a specific train I should shoot for?

    • Brett

      Obviously the Red Line is going to be best, because you’ll just hop off at Addison (right there at Wrigley). As for where is best to access that line, I’ll leave to the locals.

    • chris margetis

      There’s a public parking area around the Fullerton Sheffield area where you can grab the redline and head a few stops north to Wrigley. It’s still a bit traffic-y but nowhere near as bad as around Wrigley on game day.

  • Andy

    If you drive into Wrigley around 9-9:30am you really will not hit much traffic at all. From the westside you can take the Green Line downtown and switch to the Red.

  • Evan

    Svuem should give LaHair a chance to see what he can do against lefties before deciding to pull him every time it looks like he’s going to face a lefty…

  • Dick

    Brett nailed the reason that Rizzo and Jackson are in Iowa… give the Cubs an additional year of salary control. I wish Theo, Jed, or Sveum would admit it, instead of saying that everyone needs 500 AB’s in Triple A. If that’s so, they should send Castro back to Iowa, since he missed his 500 AB’s at Iowa.

    • Norm

      Brett Jackson isn’t ready. If he were ready, maybe service time would be an issue, but right now that is irrelevant since his game just isn’t ready to begin with.
      Rizzo is another story; I think service time does play a factor.
      But Jed thought he was ready last year when he was the best hitter in AAA. He has supposedly already made adjustments, but they want to see those adjustments over an extended period rather than making the same mistake they did last year.

    • FromFenwayPahk

      Interesting perspective. But, I think fielding is easier to make up than hitting. Castro has proven he is a major league ready hitter (Rizzo has kinda not).
      Castro just needs to put in about 10,000 more reps with a fungo swinging coach who can correct his footwork and holler encouraging words. You can’t replicate practice AB’s the same way. You need game conditions and a competitor working as hard as you are: AAA.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Taking LaHair out was akmost Quadesque. I don’t Know what to think anymore. Sveums strategery really makes me wonder what the threesomes motives are. Hope we can win 1 gamein this series. How long before they trade Soto to the Rays and determine Stewart isn’t going to hit at this level.