Super Joe Mather is Super and Other Bullets

I’m headed to Chicago this morning, and will be taking in tonight’s (and tomorrow’s) game at Wrigley Field. A group of us will be getting together before the game tonight at The Sports Corner (across from Wrigley), so stop by if you’re free. I’ll be there around 5pm. There should be relatively normal posting today, but tonight’s EBS will be delayed, especially if the game ends well.

  • Bryan LaHair’s 12 pitch, pinch hit at bat with the bases empty and one out last night, which ended in a walk, was probably the most impressive at bat of the night, with apologies to Joe Mather’s game-winning single (in which he battled back after being down 0-2). “LaHair’s at-bat was unbelievable,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “To battle that kind of velocity and work a walk out of it, and Geo, too. They were great at-bats. They weren’t going up there just hacking. Obviously, Super Joe came through as he did in Spring Training all the time.” What I really like about LaHair’s … wait. Dale just call Joe Mather “Super Joe”? Like, for realsies? Super Joe? All right. Super Joe it is.
  • On beating his former team, Mather was excited. “I’d lie if I said there wasn’t [satisfaction], yeah,” Mather said about beating the Cardinals. “I have a lot of good friends over there, but it does feel good. When it comes down to it ultimately, we won a big league game and the self-satisfaction was secondary.”
  • Kerry Wood, who’s been on the DL, officially, since April 14, will throw off the mound soon. His shoulder fatigue/soreness/oldness/whatever is subsiding a bit, and the Cubs hope he’ll be able to return without the need for a rehab stint. He’s eligible to come off the disabled list this weekend.
  • The Cubs have conceded that they will likely waive recently DFA’d pitcher Rodrigo Lopez, in the hopes that he’ll clear waivers and accept an assignment to AAA Iowa. I guessed yesterday after the Cubs DFA’d Lopez that he’d be waived, would clear waivers, and then would reject the assignment, opting instead to become a free agent. Usually, a DFA situation takes 10 days to play out, but if the Cubs know they are going to waive him, we might know the resolution within a few days.
  • New Chicago Cubs pitcher Michael Bowden is relieved and excited to be a member of the Cubs.
  • Bruce Levine discusses the Cubs’ struggles on defense this year, which is legit, but he does so, in part, by contrasting it with an improved offense. Let’s be very, very clear about something: in the small 17-game sample set we’ve got to work with, one thing is clear. The offense is terrible. It is much worse than the 2011 offense, which obviously wasn’t particularly good.
  • Remember the other day when there was a stoppage in the game against the Reds, and the cameras did the thing that they always do (which is linger on a couple players as though they are the most interesting guys in the world)? Well, it was a fan who ran on the field, and a friend on Twitter passed along a link to the video. It isn’t the best quality, but I liked looking at it, because I wasn’t permitted to look at it when it happened. Tell me what to watch, will you?!

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

42 responses to “Super Joe Mather is Super and Other Bullets”

  1. Cheney

    Was showering during the bottom of the 9th last night. Turned into the longest shower ever (all those pitches!) and I nearly slipped from excitement multiple times. Will look for you tonight in RF, Brett!

    1. Tonycampanathebasethief

      I was at this game for a school field trip it was awesome!!!

  2. Cliffy

    I doubt the Cubs win that game without Lahair’s great at bat. It certainly provided a shift in momentum.

  3. Big Joe

    People that run onto the field (like jackasses), should be dipped in chum, and slowly lowered into a shark tank.

    1. Andrewmoore4isu

      Dude cubs fans need comic relief after their team hasn’t gotten a hit or a decent at bat in 5 innings. That guy has balls. He may have spent the night in jail. OH MY GAWD. THAT’S MY BOY

    2. Cubmig

      Am I missing the point of posting the video? I’ll stand corrected, but I take it the video was posted as an anti-censor protest. That’s how I judge the posting. And I thank Brett for doing that, because I. for one, don’t need some tv booth official protecting what he thinks are my virgin eyes. This is the 21st century. I lost my hearing and viewing virginity with the advent of imagination. …………oh-oh…….here come the FCC patrol.

      1. Cubbie Blues

        FCC shouldn’t have anything to do with it since it is not being broadcast over public airwaves. I believe the purpose of not showing it is to try to detract others from doing it since they won’t be on TV.

        1. MaxM1908

          Exactly. While we may laugh about it when it happens 5 or 6 times a season, how would we respond if it happened 5 or 6 times a game? There’s also the issue of player/staff safety. Does anyone remember that attack on the first base coach? Anything you can do to deter the behavior is acceptable in my book. While one is funny, many would be annoying and infuriating. If these people want to make an ass of themselves on TV, they should go get a reality television series and let the rest of us watch baseball.

  4. Cheryl

    LaHair came through and so did Mather, But will they be continue to be used as they have in the past? If so, what’s the point of keeping them? If LaHair is no more than a platoon player and Baker is used at first base against lefties, then the cubs will never get a good sense of his value.

    1. mpope30

      Completely agree. I really don’t understand why he wasn’t in the lineup last night. Especially when Garcia’s number this year terrible against lefties. Before the game, opponents were batting something like .320 against him: right handed batters .290 and left handed batters .450. Those aren’t exact but they are close. When I saw the numbers I was excited to think Lahair would get the start instead of Baker. I was wrong.

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        This year’s numbers mean nothing.  In particular, Garcia’s numbers against lefties are probably based on around 10 ABs, so one seeing eye chopper here or there is around 0.100 in BA. Indeed, even if you look at last year’s number’s for Garcia, the superficial “advantage” to lefties over righties against him is not significant, and that is based on about 150 PAs.  (The BABiP variance is going to be especially big for Garcia: he gets a lot of grounders, and the Cardinal infielders do not have great ranges.)

        Conversely, all of LaHair’s minor league numbers apparently suggest a big success split.  Now, sometimes lefties who hit lefties well in the minors continue to do so in MLB: but lefties who do not hit miLB lefties well never suddenly learn how to do so in MLB.

  5. ferrets_bueller

    Figured I’d throw this link out there for those who havent seen it/dont remember. Its a list of when top prospects can be called up, and save on service time.

    At this point, I’d guess we’d see both Jackson and Rizzo in late June- Which ensures that Jackson isn’t a super two, and that Rizzo is a super two, instead of being an FA before 2018. In order for Rizzo to avoid super two, he’d have to stay down until August.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/02/service-time-considerations-for-top-prospects.html

    1. Wilbur

      Just speculating, but just for the reason you mentioned Rizzo will not come up before August.

  6. njriv

    Yeah I was at that game on Friday and when i came back i asked my brother who stayed home if he saw it and he had no idea what I was talking about.

  7. njriv

    That was the 2nd game I went to when a fan ran onto the field. The last one was when that fan ran up to Bob hoary back kn ’07

  8. mpope30

    Just for the fun of it: How many more wins would the Cubs have right now if Cespedes had been starting in center field every game instead of Byrd/Johnson? My guess is at least a few……

    1. Myles

      My guess is half a win.

      1. Ferrets bueller

        I’d have to agree. He’s at least a whole step below Byrd on defense, and hasn’t been hitting all that well…
        (that last part is partially tongue in cheek.)

        1. mpope30

          He does have 4 homers. You know, two more than anyone on our team. Those would have been nice in close games, especially if there were people on base.

          1. DocPeterWimsey

            True, but homers come when pitchers obligingly hang pitches, not when you necessarily need them.  This is tough to estimate.  First, let’s assume that all of Cespedes homers would have been homers for the Cubs: that is, the wind or Marlins Park wouldn’t have held them into play.  Next, let’s assume that they’lll be evenly distributed throughout the Cubs games.  Thus, we’d expect one of the 4 in one of the games that the Cubs won anyway and 3 in one of their 12 loses.  In those loses, the Cubs outhomered the opposition yet lost once, and hit the same HR in 4.  We’d expect one or two HR in those games, and as 2 of them were 1-run games, it probably means that we’d have zero or one more wins for the Cubs.  In 4 of the remaining 7 games, the Cubs were outhomered by 1.  However, only one of those games was lost by fewer than 3 runs.  We expect 2 or 1 of the HR in those games, and thus a 1/7 to 2/7 chance of getting it in the game where a single HR would have made a big difference.  (The Cubs were badly outdoubled in most of those games, too.)

            So, about one game.

  9. MaxM1908

    After 20 ABs, Mather is batting .300/.417/.350. I sure hope he can keep that up. If he could raise his slugging to the .400-.500 range, we’d actually have another offensive tool.

    Also, remember the bunt contest in ST? I’d like to see something similar in regular season games, only this competition will concern pitch counts. Every player who sees at least 5 pitches in an AB gets a point. 10 pitches will equal 2 points. A point will also be awarded for a hit that comes with fewer than 5 pitches. At the end of each week, the points are tallied up, and the eight players with the most points get to start for the following week (with the occasional day off). If you don’t work pitch counts, you don’t play.

    1. Cheryl

      Good idea. But they should probably do it in spring training.

    2. Kyle

      And within a week, every opponent the Cubs faced would just be pumping straight, easy fastballs down the middle for the first few pitches, getting ahead, and crushing the Cubs’ hitters.

      1. MaxM1908

        That’s why there’d also be points for hits within the first five pitches. If the pitchers started giving us fastball straight down the middle, I’d welcome the Cub hit parade that would follow.

        1. Drew

          I propose simply hiring someone to sit in the dugout with a giant rubber hand, and whenever a hitter swings at a pitch out of the zone when hes ahead in the count he gets slapped in the face by said hand upon his return to the dugout.

  10. Patrick

    Will Sveum finally play LaHair more often now? Seems the better he does the less he plays

    1. Andrewmoore4isu

      Probably not

  11. Spoda17

    … I hate to do this, but when I read Phil Rogers, I always seem to scratch my head and give the proverbial… “huh..?” Nothing really major in his last daily “Phil…” [puke]… but so much so I really try not to read his articles…

  12. rcleven
  13. chris margetis

    Let’s throw the AAA season part out the window and assume both Rizzo and Jackson were 100% MLB ready today. Does the team control time at the point really matter? Assuming these two are the organizational cornerstones they are supposed to be, wouldn’t they be given mulit year contracts at some point prior to or during their arb years?

    1. JustSwain

      There is no guarantee that the Cubs would be able to lock them up to a multi-year deal, plus the deal will be bigger if it covers more FA years. The bigger the deal we have to give to guys like Rizzo and Jackson, the less money we have for Free Agent signings. So yes, team control really matters.

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        Remember also that the new CBA is going to limit the Yankees, Sox, Phils, Dodgers, etc., too.  Now, you might think “the players have to sign somewhere,” but there is a real possibility that a side-effect of the CBA is that MLB is going to lose talent to other sports (football in the US, football everywhere else.)

        So, if BJax and Rizzo pan out, then there is a greater chance that one or more (other) rich teams will be salivating to get them come free agency.  I think that the agents are going to catch on to this pretty quickly: the brief era of locking up young talent might come to an end very soon.

  14. WGNstatic

    That at bat by LaHair… wow.

    I know that one AB will never dispel the allegations that he is just a AAAA player, but if any AB could it was that one. The way he handled that AB was incredible. You could sense that he knew exactly what he was doing, staying alive, recognizing quickly the pitches and fighting them off to stay alive.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      I got to watch that part of the game (free game clip!) and what impressed me was that LaHair’s swings were not cheated: had he actually gotten ahold of the ball, then he could have driven it deep to left or left center.  It was sort of a draw: LaHair was almost on the pitch, but Motte was throwing it just a little too hard for LaHair to catch up to it.  My big fear was that Motte would pull a string and leave LaHair out in front by 5 feet, but it looked like LaMotte did that only once & LaHair recognized it immediately.

      LaMotte then was all over the plate to Soto, who is absolutely the last Cub against whom you want to do that: if anything, Geo takes too many strikes!

      1. MaxM1908

        That AB ignited some dwindling optimism in my Cubbie soul. I was watching the ninth in a sort of masochistic way. I was ready for the Cubs to go 1-2-3. When I saw they were pinch hitting LaHair, I got slightly hopeful, but knew the odds were against us. But, with each ball LaHair fouled off, I could feel my hope rising. If we could get four or five ABs per game like that one, we’d be a much better team.

  15. Eric

    Brett I think you need to run onto the field. And when you get arrested, it will be a big story that it was a cubs blogger. The traffic on the site will explode.

    1. Cory

      Agreed

  16. Rob

    Was at the game. INCREDIBLE. BEST GAME EVER.

  17. clark addison

    Two comments: I loved LaHair’s at bat. That’s what turned the game around. I hope all the Cubs were taking notes.

    Second, I totally agree with the policy of not showing idiots who run out on the field on TV. It will only encourage that sort of behavior. Now if only there was a way to delete cell phone waving idiots.

    1. FromFenwayPahk

      This AND this.