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No, the Phillies don’t have a good lineup right now. But you know what great pitchers do when they face a crappy lineup? They dominate. And that’s what Matt Garza did today.

The Cubs’ offense was in full-on “manufacture” mode, save for a solo home run by Super Joe Mather (the first home run by a Cubs outfielder this year – for realsies). Tony Campana paced the team by terrorizing on the base paths, which he always does, assuming he’s able to get on base. Bryan LaHair stroked the ball, and most everyone did the “small ball” “little things” you need to do to push across a run here and there. It was a fun game to watch (if we’re not counting the 9th inning, when Carlos Marmol did his best Carlos Marmol impression, and tried desperately to blow a 5-0 lead).

And, man, Garza was on. The only hit he gave up was to the very first man he faced.

  • drew

    Anyone else been having terrible Mel Rojas flashbacks after watching Marmol? He gives me the willies…

  • Sean

    I think Marmol is broken. Can we trade him in for a new one?

    • Fishin Phil

      Unfortunately, I believe Hendry forgot to take the service agreement when he resigned him.

  • Zogie

    The Cubs looked good all-around today until Marmol came into the game. Marmol continues to have problems, but luckily he got out of it. Garza was excellent racking up 10K. He also only gave up 1 walk and 1 hit. Dolis worked a perfect 8th as well. Campana 2-4 1SB 1K. He was chasing chaos once again on the bases. It seems every time he gets on the cubs score a run. Barney 0-3 1K, did the little things for the cubs today. He did a great job moving Campana around the bases. Castro 0-3 2RBI did just enough to get his 2 RBIs. LaHair 3-4 2 2B, 1 K. He continues to hit the ball hard everywhere and strikeout. Baker 2-4 1RBI 1K, looked great at the plate today. Maybe he could give Stewart a break at 3B. Stewart 0-4 had another rough day. He hit some linedrives, but they were right at defenders. Mather 1-3 HR, BB, 1K. He could also play some 3B. Castillo 0-4 3K has looked bad at the plate since being called up. DeJesus 0-1 with a pinch-hit lineout. The cubs continue to strikeout a ton and barely ever walk. 10 Ks and 1 BB for the cubs today. Thankfully that did not hurt us today. Lastly, my shout out goes to Matt Garza. Lock this guy up for at least another 5 year.

  • Njriv

    I would rather have Dolis as the closer, even though he has problems with walks but his delivery and mechanics are much easier to attend to and fix than Marmol’s.

    • JustSwain

      Honestly I think Dolis problem with walks were jitters from starting his first season in the majors. He has had pretty good control in his last four outings or so. If Marmol keeps this crap up, I think Dolis is emerging as the lead candidate to take over the 9th. Slot Russell into the 8th inning role, and let Marmol try to work out of his problems in blowouts. I absolutely loved Marmol when he was dominant so I find it hard to turn on him, but I haven’t seen anything this year to make me think he has gas left in the tank.

      • Cedlandrum

        Dolis struggles with the same thing as Marmol, his arm slot gets jacked from time to time. He isn’t going to walk 4 times as many guys as he strikes guys out, but his not throwing strikes has been a problem at times.

  • rcleven

    Looking at the Cubs line-up this morning I said no way we score any runs. Team starting to buy into Sev’s system to score runs. Lucky to catch Philly when we have. Let’s go get em tommrow and take our first series.

    • Njriv

      We won the series with the Cardinals at Wrigley

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Well, it’s both hitting and pitching.  Garza and the relievers prevented the Phils from getting a single extra base hits: and teams that do that are 315-5 so far this year.  There are no “guarantees” in baseball, but a 0.984 winning rate is about as close as you can get!

      And that puts the Cubs slugging today (and in many of their victories) into perspective.  You expect to win by 3- 5 runs when you outslug the opposition by as much as the Cubs did today.  However, you will rarely outslug the opposition by this much with this offensive performance: it was the defensive end that made the difference (figuratively and mathematically).

  • Ogyu

    Albert Einstein: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    Dale Sveum: “Marmol’s been pitching good … He’ll be right back out there and do the same thing.”

    • JustSwain

      Whats he supposed to say? “Marmol Sucks! I have no confidence he can break out of this lousy streak, or even learn how to pitch over the strikezone! Lets just throw this guy on the trash heap and eat his contract, and just assume years of past success were a fluke!” He has to protect his players, and if he feels they have value he has to let them try to work out problems. Personally I don’t see the value, and you don’t see the value, but Sveum does. As long as he thinks there is even a small chance Marmol works out of it, he has to keep going with him to increase his trade value, or at the very least get some production out of a high paid player. I’d bet you anything Sveum has about as much confidence in Marmol right now as the rest of us, but he also is looking big picture. This team is much better off having Marmol if he can return to form.

      • cubfanincardinalland

        When he got hired he said the days of making excuses were over. So why make excuses for Marmol? It is not just a bad day, accountability is how you build a good organization.

        • Hansman1982

          Because good managers DO NOT throw players under the bus in public unless they are making a statement due to lack of effort or telling the front office to trade a guy.

          • Ogyu

            Know what else good managers do? Play the guys that give the team the best chance to win.

      • Ogyu

        “This team is much better off having Marmol if he can return to form.”

        Yea, the team would also be much better off if Soriano hit 40 home runs. But it ain’t gonna happen and expecting otherwise is just foolishness. And as for getting production out of a high priced player, I’d much rather have zero production from him than have him repeatedly blowing late-inning leads.

  • Featherstone

    Bad Phillies lineup aside, Garza is an ace. I dont know how much longer we or anyone else for that matter can dispute it. When you have your pitcher going to the mound against any line-up and you are confident he can put on a dominant showing, that is the definition of an ace. His value has got to be through the roof these days. Trade him by the deadline for a trove of blue-chip prospects or extend him for a Danks sized contract.

  • Bric

    I wonder if the front office is progressing on what to do with Sori’s contract. It’s apparent that he isn’t going to finish out these last three years. One of these days they’re just going to have to bite the bullet and ship him off while eating at least 90% of his salary, eat all of his salary and probably get a decent prospect in return, or cut him and get nothing. None of these options are really viable so they should just go back to the union and figure out a buy out.

    • Kyle

      The union will never, ever, ever allow a buyout.

      • Chris S

        Sure they would.. for the entire price of his contract!! ;)

        What sucks right now, is why would anyone want him? He 1 extra base hit (yikes). If he keeps going at this rate, we’ll have no other option but to cut him. I’m betting every team has a player on their roster or minor leagues that has better numbers or the potential to put up better numbers than Soriano far for a FAR less price.

        I’m sure at some point in the year, they’ll put him on waivers and see who bites, but there’s no sense in doing it now, since you can’t put a player on waivers multiples times in a year. So, I’m betting we’re stuck with him for now. The best thing for us to do is to root for him to do better to be able to net us something in return, cuz right now, our return would maybe be a High-A prospect, if that. We need him to go on one of his 10 HR in 10 games streaks and then see what the interest level is. God knows if that’ll happen. At this point, I’m thinking that’s more of a pipe dream.

  • Cedlandrum

    I actually thought there were some positives for Marmol. He had a good live fastball. Even though he walked guys I don’t think any of them were on four straight pitches either. He wasn’t great, but at least he used his fastball and threw it for a strike at times.

  • art

    Paul, Rogers, and many so called experts were talking about how hard the cubs would have it on this road trip. the Phil’s great pitching, etc. so Cubs win game 1 and both/most say the Phil’s are not what they were in the past. now they didn’t have a good line-up, didn’t we question today’s Cub line-up?

    didn’t the world pick the Cubs to lose 100 plus games and say we may be the worse team in baseball?

    so what’s with the excuses when they win? give the Cubs credit, now everyone come over for the BBQ.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      “didn’t the world pick the Cubs to lose 100 plus games and say we may be the worse team in baseball?”

      No, that was what the world said about the Astros.  There was the concern that this might be a record setting year for 100-loss teams: the Astros, Orioles, Mariners and Twins all projected to lose in the upper 90’s or more.  The Cubs projected to be a low-90’s loss team (i.e., about 70-win team), which is what they look like now.

  • CapnCub

    Enough is enough, Marmol needs to go. I am tired of backing him up, it’s time…

  • Kevin

    Teach LaHair to play the outfield, we can’t lose his bat when Rizzo is called up.

  • Stu

    Castillo/Garza had 5 strikeouts, so the 10Ks are no that bad. They might want to think about a platoon system at 3rd with Baker/Stewart/Mather. Marmol needs to prove he deserves the closer spot at SOME point, right?

    Great starting pitching can solve most problems. I do like that the cubs are focused on building that. Garza should retire a CUB.

    LaHair just keeps hitting. Let him have the whole year at 1B.

  • Jared

    LaHair can’t do outfield…way too slow! I’d hate to see him go, but it is what it is…trade for a closer!!!

  • koboldekobold

    We could lose his bat if he keeps hitting anywhere close to his current level and we move him for future pieces. I would have to assume he could net something decent if he’s hitting .280 with good power by July.

  • Kevin

    Also suggest the Cubs try to work some type of buyout with Sori’s contract. No way he wants to play with all the fans.booing him all the time.

  • brittney

    Watching marmol is painful. I would rather get a bone marrow test instead watch him pitch.

  • Kevin

    Are there any Alfonso Soriano trade rumors?

    • Bric

      Not to my knowledge but I just don’t see him still on the team by this time next year. For the last three years we’ve heard the few positives and many negatives about not addressing his contract. But now with a totally new regime, too much young talent coming up and too many guys fighting for a roster spot they’ve got to do it now.

      Hoping that he’ll just retire or another team in contention will suffer a rash of season ending injuries is just continuing to live in the past. I honestly don’t understand how Ricketts and Thedstein don’t see him as a money pit that costs way more than he’s worth and continues to hold up the development of the team.

      • Kyle

        Right now, he’s not blocking anybody that they want up. I was hoping Sappelt would be given a shot this year, but it doesn’t look like that’s in the cards.

        The second he’s blocking someone who is important and needs to be up here, I’m sure he’ll be gone.

  • BubblesHargrave

    let me ask you all a question. Do you think Sveum really cares if this team wins or loses? Seriously, when he continues to use Marmol as the closer and make excuses for him, it makes me wonder if he really wants his team to win. Honestly it does.

    • Michael Caldwell

      If you remove Carlos Marmol from the closers role, you remove any trade value he might have. The only hope of getting anything of value out of Marmol is to keep running him out there in the ninth and hope he turns it around. At this point, it’s not physical. He’s throwing as hard as he ever has. It’s purely a mental thing with Marmol.

      I’m sure Sveum would love to have a winning record right now, but if at any point you or anyone else actually thought this team had a chance to win now, you were deluding yourself. A lot of things were going to have to go right for the Cubs for that to happen, and a lot of things were going to have to go wrong for the Cardinals, Brewers and Reds. Those kinds of things usually don’t happen.

      • EB

        I agree with you that a lot of Marmol’s problem is mental and confidence and that his fastball velocity is there, however, his slider just does not have the bite that it used to have. That was his strikeout pitch, so in turn he is not racking up nearly as many K’s as he did when he was very good 2 years ago

  • BubblesHargrave

    I believe that any team can catch lightning in a bottle and win. It’s not delusional to think this team can win. Any team can win at any time. Just like any team can lose. What’s the purpose of watching if you don’t even think there might be an outside chance that your team could win. Of course the right decisions will need to be make and people will need to play well. Will they do it, probably not, but I’ve seen worse teams than this have a much improved season.

  • Kyle

    Just a fun game to watch. Campana at his best is very entertaining.

  • Bret Epic

    i’d take LaHair in left when Rizzo comes up. It’s not like he’d do worse than Soriano in any aspect. His bat has been great and I’m sure he could become a better LF than Soriano easily.

    • Kyle

      He would be a worse defensive LFer than Soriano, and it wouldn’t be particularly close.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        LaHair looks like he could give Logan Morrison a run (or crawl) for the money…..

    • ISU Birds

      Can Rizzo play left??

      • drew

        Even if he could, that would be the worst way defensively to get both him and LaHair in the lineup.

        Rizzo is above average at 1st, Lahair is below average. Putting Rizzo in Left would move a potential GG’er at 1st to the outfield (where hes prob, at best, average) and still leave you w a below average 1st baseman.

        • GraceSanberg

          Totally disagree. LaHair has earned the right way, through producing, that he is the incumbent at 1st base and I also agree that Rizzo has earned, through producing at AAA, that he deserves a shot at the majors but that he’ll have to play a different position. I also believe that his time will come when he’ll be the incumbent at 1st, but not now.. Bring him up and play him in left field. He will struggle defensively early-on but will get better with experience and if he continues to produce offensively and LaHair falters offensively, move Rizzo to 1st.. In the meantime, Rizzo can be evaluated against major league pitching. The same is true w/ any prospect or veteran – no more guarantees should be part of the new Cub Way. Great win today & credit should go to the youth movement & good pitching.

          • Drew

            “LaHair has earned the right way, through producing…”

            I agree that Lahair has earned, so far, the right to be in the lineup. What I don’t agree with is the fact that the defense has to suffer for it. Realistically, Lahair knew that, most likely, he would be traded or let go once Rizzo was ready. So to be in the lineup at all at that point is great and I tip my hat to him, but you dont just throw a GG-caliber 1st baseman in LF (where hes never played before) just because Lahair is producing offensively.

            It is also a pretty big assumption that Rizzo will get better with experience in the outfield, as getting reads on balls of the bat isnt like riding a bike. Even if that were the case, the Major League level isnt the place for him “learn on the fly.”

            All that being said, I firmly believe it is a pointless debate; there is no way this front office puts Rizzo in any sort of difficult position to succeed, and putting him in LF will be deemed as such.

  • Kevin

    Agree Bret!

  • Big Joe

    What other profession allows for constant failure, by a high-priced employee? If baseball is a “business”, like everyone says after a trade/release, then make sound business decisions. At this point, the Cubs are operating a poorly run business. Marmot needs to go. I totally agree with the above post. Marmol’s roll can no longer be justified. He is a 7th inning guy, at best. Move on.

  • Cheryl

    The team may have a losing record but there is a difference in the way they play compared to last year. As many have said, ‘they’re doing the little things’. Give Sveum credit for that.

    • Kyle

      It is fun to watch all the baserunning and such. But they are on pace for 59 wins. The little things are called that for a reason. They’re not that important.

      • calicubsfan007

        I am not sure that they won’t get more than 59 wins. I agree that they will have a losing record, but they will not be doormats. I say 65 wins, at least.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Also, the W-L paces right now are pretty misleading not simply because of small sample size, but also because of the non-random samples.  The Cubs have not gotten to play many (of the other) “bad” teams yet.  Indeed, other than the Marlins, I would not be at all surprised if all of the teams that the Cubs have played so far this year wind up over 0.500.

        • calicubsfan007

          That is true. The Cubs haven’t exactly had the best schedule to play this year… If they played more teams like the Marlins in the near future, I think that we have a solid chance to finish at .500 at least.

      • cubfanincardinalland

        To think this team will lose 103 games is crazy. If they continue to get quality starting pitching as they have, they could be a .500 team. Turn around the two games Marmol gave away and they would be two games under .500 playing an extremely tough schedule. Much better defense this season, much better team baseball. Hitting will pick up against weaker pitching staffs and hotter weather.

        • calicubsfan007

          I agree. The Cubs are definetly an improved team compared to last year. I think we will hit our stride midseason. This is because Marmol will either get it together or not be on the team anymore by then, most veterans should be traded by then, and much of our young talent will be called up.

          • SkipDog

            I think the Cubs are the best 8-14 team in baseball right now

            • Ogyu

              Did you hear that, Houston?

              • Rick Vaughn

                Only 6 games out. This division is ours!

  • calicubsfan007

    Garza is one hell of a pitcher. It will be a shame when he’s traded, but at least we will receive more in return compared to trying to trade anybody else. Marmol needs to be demoted to set up man, make it an open competition between guys like Bowden and Dolis. I am sick of getting nauseous because of Marmol’s epic fails, or at the very least, heart attacks.

  • Spencer

    Marmol’s ERA is 5.87. His WHIP is 2.07(!!!). He’s blown two saves. I don’t need any advanced metrics to tell me that he shouldn’t be closing games (or even pitching in games) for a long time.

    • calicubsfan007

      Agreed, I suggested Dolis and Bowden. But I am not sure who in the Cubs’ bullpen, except Kerry Wood, have any sort of closing experience in the big leagues. But I do think Marmol’s replacement should, hopefully, do better than what Marmol has given the Cubs lately.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Well, remember that the sabermetricians have been dissing the whole idea of a closer for over a decade.  They have been saying throw your best relievers at their best hitters after the 6th or 7th inning, not to distinguish between holds and saves, and not to manage around a statistic.

      • calicubsfan007

        So, are you then implying that having another bullpen guy finish off games is not as improbably sounding when looking from the saber perspective?

      • Spencer

        I kinda like this approach actually, and generally I’m not a fan of saber metrics. Seems like good sense to manage the game with matchups in mind after the starter exits the game rather be tied to one guy that MUST pitch the ninth no matter what the scenario is. If that means your “closer” pitches the seventh or eighth because he gets a better matchup that way then so be it.

      • Andrew

        I somewhat disagree with that approach to managing. I think just because the 3-4-5 come up in the 7th, you use your closer, then the top of the lineup manages to come around again in the ninth, and you have already used your best reliever, or in the 8th, you get into some trouble with guys on base and you dont have your best guys available. I think managers should be pretty flexible though with closers. For example if your 8th inning guy has 2 guys on with no outs and isnt feeling it, maybe then you throw in your closer to finish the 8th to end the oppositions best chance to score, then have a lesser pitcher pitch the ninth since statistically they will be less likely to score then than they were in the previous situation. Its crap like this managing a team so crappy, because these decisions wont affect many games either way, but are so devastatingly noticeable when you get unlucky.

  • MIchael Montgomery

    A question: do the Cubs track the success of closers/relievers with the pitcher that they are following? Part of Garza’s success was his ability to expand the strike zone in particular ways. Does Marmol’s collection of pitches automatically look ‘out’ when the umpire is comparing them with the strike zone Garza established. I would have to chart the game again to prove/disprove the hypothesis, but it did seem that Garza was getting borderline pitches and Marmol wasn’t. Do they not work well together?

    • Joe

      Interesting question, for the Cubs and beyond…

    • Andrew

      to me it seems the pitchers that are throwing sharply and getting ahead in counts early get the borderline counts. when marmol doesnt get calls, to me its usually because his previous pitches imply he doesnt know where the ball is going.

  • calicubsfan007

    Hey, Mather got the first homer for the Cubs outfield. I haven’t really heard of the guy prior to Spring Training. I really like how he’s played, he has heart.

  • Jeremy

    Man Garza continues to increase his value to the team. I can see the logic in wanting to trade him for a boatload of prospects but I can also see the logic in locking him up for 5 years. Personally, I’m leaning toward extending and building around him but I can see the pros and cons to both sides.

    • calicubsfan007

      My only concern with that is that Garza is 28 this season, and the Cubs aren’t really going to contend until 2-3 years from now. Garza will be 30/31 at that time. Although many pitchers have been known to be great for another 3 years or so after they turn 30, I don’t want to risk Garza hitting his downside by then and being worthless. Wasn’t part of the reason of trading Marshall this year was that he’d be out of his prime by the time the Cubs really start to contend? It would sound contradictory to me if the Cubs keep Garza past this year.

      • Jeremy

        For me I don’t consider 30/31 being out of his prime it is getting toward the end though. Certainly it is toward the end but plenty of pitchers pitch at a high level well into their 30’s like you said. Plus it can never hurt to have a veteran pitcher on a young staff. I agree it would be contradictory to sign Garza and trade Marshall but I think they are different cases. SP is much harder to find then good RP’s like Marshall IMO.

        • calicubsfan007

          I definetly see your point. I just think that Theo wants to capitalize on the highest value of certain players, with Garza obviously beign on the top of the list. I think Garza will be traded, although I will definetly miss him, by the deadline for a boatload of prospects. If Theo wanted to extend Garza the entire time, I think he would have already done it. I think that Theo is waiting in order to prevent us having to try to deal a player with a huge contract, a la Soriano. Garza’s cheaper contract makes him attractive for teams needing pitching help. I think that Theo will only give Garza the extension after he exhausts all possible trade opportunities this season in the laid back way he manages to convey to other teams.

          • Bric

            Garza looked awesome today. Even by about the 4th inning I was already thinking that’s the best I’ve ever seen him pitch. Yesterday I read that Hamels might be interested in coming to the Cubs next year. It might be easier to rebuild quicker than I thought a month ago.

    • Andrew

      if the cubs sign him to a 5 year contract for a reasonable amount of money, it would be perfect. Theres no reason 33 year olds cant produce. Exhibit A is right on our team with dempster, who is still getting 200+ innings and has been very go od besides last years bad season. Or look at Cliff Lee who is phenomenal into his thirties. Garza looks like a pitcher who should be an ace on a mediocre team and a number 2 on a great team and those players dont come by often. Also you cant really compare marshall to Garza. there are tons of great closers/setup men on the market every year and the cubs have some strong lefties in beliveau and maine on their way up whereas i dont see many strong starting pitchers making their way up for us right now.

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