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  • Dale Sveum has been openly begging Carlos Marmol to throw more fastballs. After screwing around and walking the first two hitters he saw in the 8th last night, Marmol started pumping fastballs, and wound up striking out Brian McCann and Dan Uggla (the latter on three straight fastballs). Marmol had been booed with every ball he threw to open the inning, and says that the boos encouraged him to throw strikes. Marmol left the mound that inning beating his chest and shouting in celebration. Let’s have more of that … but maybe Dale could keep him out of super tight games for a little while yet, mmmkay?
  • Sveum admits that there’s a chance Marmol will earn his closer job back at some point this season. Obviously I’m sure the Cubs would love nothing more than for Marmol to have a few more good outings, “earn” the closer job back, pick up a few saves, and become dump-able. Hard to see that happening, though.
  • Each team was warned yesterday after Jeff Samardzija hit Jason Heyward (who’d homered earlier in the game) in the top of the seventh inning, and Eric O’Flaherty hit David DeJesus (square in the middle of the back) in the bottom of the inning. Braves manager Freddi Gonzalez didn’t care for the way things played out, and was ejected. I’m not really sure I understand throwing at DeJesus – it’s pretty obvious that Samardzija wasn’t trying to hit Heyward. It was a one-run game, and there was one out. Dale Sveum says the same.
  • Adrian Cardenas was “overwhelmed” to arrive in Chicago with the Cubs, his first stay in the big leagues. Dale Sveum sounds happy to have him on the roster. “The guy can hit,” Sveum said. “He can square a ball up. He’s got good bat speed, a nice left-handed hitter. It’ll bring us a nice left-handed bat off the bench, and he’s going to play a little bit, too. Got to get that left-handed bat in the lineup somehow.”
  • As for how often Cardenas will play, Sveum noted that Darwin Barney hasn’t been lighting the world on fire lately. “Obviously I’m not seeing what I want to see [from Barney],” Sveum said, according to the Tribune. “Neither is he …. Right now he’s not swinging as hot as he was at the beginning of the year or in spring training. But he’ll get it figured out.” I think we’ll probably see Cardenas pick up a start soon, perhaps as soon as today.
  • At least Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney are getting better defensively, so says the coaching staff. “They are a year smarter in knowing the league, and they are still continuing to work hard every day at improving,” said third base coach Pat Listach. “Barney has made some tremendous strides at second and Castro – even though his error totals are up – hasn’t gotten the call or any breaks on a number of those errors. We admit Castro is a work in progress, but his defense is improving. You can’t go by errors alone. His overall play is more consistent out there.”
  • Make sure you sign up for the one-day fantasy baseball contest, which runs this Friday. The full details are here, but the short version is this: you can sign up (for free) any time before Friday night, you pick a lineup based on Friday’s games, you score points, you beat me, you win money. There’s $300 at stake, and just by signing up, you help Bleacher Nation. So, sign up here. Gracias.
  • OlderStyle

    Nice, Cardenas and his bat will be in the lineup. Although, it does give one pause if he and Castro are the new DP team.

  • FromFenwayPahk

    Cardenas will “bring us a nice left-handed bat off the bench” The bench on my WS Cubs team is starting to get (too) crowded.

  • Ivy Walls

    Cardenas first comment upon arriving in Chicago, (having been born and raised along the Atlantic Ocean in FL); “I wanted the first time I get here to be when I got called up,” he said. “I didn’t realize Lake Michigan is so big.” via Muscrat

    Didn’t he take geography or use the scale measurement on maps in high school? Oh well I have taught in HS and there are some….

    • hansman1982

      My first time there (granted I grew up a farm) it surprised me a bit, especially when I went up the Sears Tower. I always though you could see the other side from the Sears Tower or at least see the southern shore from Navy Pier. It basically looks like the ocean from the shore.

      • Ivy Walls

        Having grown up near the shore of LM and living within 1/2 mi. twice (summer time breezes are fantastic when the rest are sweltering but localized lake snow is burdensome especially up on the Racine Peninsula which “sticks out like a nipple on the west shore”, (a direct quote from Astronaut Laurel Clark a deceased family friend), the Great Lakes are amazing inland seas, they should never have been called lakes.

        BTW the average distance across LM is just over 100 miles and the distance of the ferry from Milwaukee to Muskegan is 87 miles, either way even on top of the Sears Tower you cannot see 100 miles over the horizon, which is about the distance between Wrigley and Miller Park.

      • FromFenwayPahk

        I’m with Hansman on this. Studying a thing, even dreaming a thing: nothing compared to the thing.

      • rcleven

        On a clear day from the top of the Willis tower you can see the Michigan side.

        • hardtop

          they view is equally good from the top of my Willis….. tower

          really the Willis tower? couldn’t the city have stepped in on that one? forever stuck with the worlds largest Willis.

  • BubblesHargrave

    i know people are upset at me for getting on here and continuously bringing up the marmol 8th inning. but why? i mean not only why use him in a blatant jepordizing of the game, but why use him still after he walks the 1st two guys? did sveum say anything about this in his post game comments? even though they won i cant get that marmol 8th out of my head cause it means we might be seeing it again, and next time it may not work out.

    • Papa

      If I remember correctly Sveum used Camp, Dolis, Russel and Wood on Sunday. He had to give one of them the day off yesterday.

    • MaxM1908

      What happened last night is exactly “why” he did it. It was a gamble, but it was a gamble that paid off. Marmol proved to himself and the fans that he can still be fantastic when he throws fastballs. For whatever reason, he didn’t have faith in his fast ball. But, with the fans screaming for his head, he had no choice, and he had two strikeouts to end the inning. I think Sveum did it to give Marmol a confidence boost after being demoted, and hopefully, that’s what happened. (I believe it did give him a boost judging by his fist pumps and screams when he left the field). We will see Marmol again soon, and if strikes out the side, maybe we’ll realize that Sveum is smarter than we are. He’s thinking about the long term while we constantly think about the short term.

  • Edwin

    I’m pretty sure Marmol will “win” back his closer job, if only because the other Cubs pitchers will probably be just as ineffecitve as Marmol. Russle struggles against right handers. Dolis walks more hitters than he strikes out. Over a full season I don’t think these guys will hold up. I think over the whole year Marmol is still the best reliever on the team. Which says a lot about the Cubs bullpen.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “I think over the whole year Marmol is still the best reliever on the team.”

      michael scott no

      • Edwin

        You Sir. Very funny.

      • rcleven

        Maybe Marmol learned something last night. Trust your fast ball for set-up take em down with the slider.
        We can only hope.
        Did feel good see him pump his chest again.

        • RoughRiider

          I’m against booing for the most part. But,if it takes booing to get Marmol to throw his fastball, then Cub fans should boo every pitch. You would think that the manager and pitching coach telling him to throw his fast ball would be enough. Apparently not.

          The starters are doing great. Right now you can say that 4 out of 5 times the Cubs have a shot at winning the game.

          • MaxM1908

            It would be 5 out 5 if Volstad could just avoid that 1 inning every game.

            • rcleven

              Volsted will improve with more outings. I expect him to come in somewhere around his career average .450 ERA. The question is can the Cubs score 5 runs every time he pitches.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    I won’t complain about when the Cubs get there home runs. We couldn’t buy a home run a week ago. The solo shots yesterday came back to back so it’s hard to stack the bases when that happens. This team has not been good at situational hitting with runners on base with less than 2 outs. Many times we have had a runner at second with no outs or runners at 1st and 2nd and have not advanced them where a sac fly gets at least a run. There have been way too many K’s with runners in scoring position with 1 out or 2 out’s that killed potential break out innings. Once this team settles and the players learn there roles they should get better at the stituational hitting. I just want to scream when I see someone strikeout with one out and a guy on second. However, Wins are Wins and we are getting better. The more the veteran players seem to be shuffled to the side in this lineup this team seems to play better. I get the sense that it’s still a game that they love playing instead of a job. This team’s energy level will sky rocket when our mid season call ups get on board. At that point Soriano and DeJesus will be riding the pine or gone. LaHair in left and Jackson in right with Campana in center looks pretty good to me. You can always do the little league shift and flip flop your outfielders from left to right when it becomes necessary defensively for a batter or two.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    I wonder how many times Marmol has to get people out using his fastball before he believes in that pitch. His save in Cinci last week he through fastballs and went 1,2,3. The next day he came in and through sliders and bombed out. He seems to get his fastball over for strikes and good hitters are missing it. Maybe he needs a Vulcan mind meld or something. Hmmm get that shrink back in Chicago and hypnotize him. He approaches getting guys out completely ass backwards. There isn’t a hitter in baseball that is going to swing at his break ball. If I was Sveum I would tell Carlos that if he throws the slider before he gets two strikes on a hitter and is ahead in the count he is getting a club house fine. He has no disguise of his pitches. He falls off the mound on sliders and stays more balanced on fastballs. If he gets ahead throw the slider for the out pitch low and away.

  • Ryan

    I’d like to see Cardenas get a chance to earn the 2B job, Barney is starting to fade.

    • CubFan Paul

      “…Barney is starting to fade”

      Barney has been fading since May of 2011…

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Marmol was at his best in the 8th inning role. He actually saved more games for the Cubs in that role. He came in with a lot of games in the balance and shut down threats when he was the 8th inning guy. I’m all for Russell and Dolis tag teaming the 9th. I like Dolis he is fluid and the throws darts. Russell amazes me at how effective he is while not throwing hard enough to break a window. But it’s working so I ain’t complaining.

    • Bails17

      I agree….let’s let him win back that set up role and be effective.

    • BD

      He never should have been moved from the 8th inning in the first place.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        A very interesting thought.

    • Noah

      Russell’s average fastball velocity is 88 mph. While he’s not a flame thrower, he’s not exactly a soft tosser either. Sean Marshall’s average fastball his last two years with the Cubs was all of 2 mph faster.

      • Cedlandrum

        I heard on the radio that there have been 34 pitchers to throw in games this year who never hit 90 MPH. I thought that was interesting. Chris Davis by the way was not one of them.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Sveum needs to find a balance for Barney at 2nd base. I think he wears down quickly on the offensive side playing everyday. He plays a pretty good second base. I think he needs to get about 2 or 3 days a week off. Everytime he does get a break he comes back swinging the bat a lot better. Then he gets into the daily grind and slows down. Cardenas is probably the same way. Otherwise he would have already made it. I think a platoon at 2b could be the best thing. I like our defense up the middle though. If Cardenas can play defense in harmony with Castro then we got something. I hate to see Castro have to think too much at short stop because of a different second baseman everyday.

  • Ivy Walls

    NL Central Division are bunched below .500, Milwaukee and Chicago 12-17, Pittsburgh at 12-16 (one less opportunity for a loss?) and Houston is 13-16. That said Cubs have 14 games against last year’s playoff teams and another 12 games against teams either in first or second place in their respective division right now. The only sub-.500 teams the Cubs have played were the Brewers (12-17, they lost 3 of 4) and Philly whom they just split.

    Their schedule remains tough for the 9 games until they play their inner city rival the White Sox who are also stumbling out of the gate at 13-17 where then the play Houston, Pittsburgh and San Diego.

    IF IF IF the Cubs can win 7 of their next 12 going into the those 9 games at the end of May where they might go 6-3 they will be 25-25 on June 1st and I personally would be pleased.

    • hansman1982

      In their last 10 they are 6-4 – that should put us around 90 wins, provided they can keep it up, and smack dab in contention. It will be interesting to see what happens when they get to a softer portion of the schedule now that it appears that Sveum and Co. have the ship pointed in the general direction of decent-i-tude-i-ness

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I love the last couple weeks, but we need to keep our heads about this roster – it’s thin. They aren’t likely to keep this pace up, and the Cubs might be better served trading away players while they’re playing well, even if it torpedoes the 2% chance the Cubs were going to stay competitive into September.

        • hansman1982

          I agree, we still have to get through June and frankly, I stand by my statement of last week in that I believe the Cubs can play .500 ball from here on out and finish with 75-78 wins. It will be interesting to see what Theo does at the deadline if we are within 3-4 of St. Louis/Cincy. We don’t really have any pieces that we want to part with for a one-time shot at playoff contention.

          Considering the crap I had to witness on here from some posters during the losing streak and their insistence that this was a 110 loss team and the worst ever constructed, I think I can blow off some steam in the other direction.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Oh, yeah. You’re fine.

          • CubsFanBob

            I feel the same way. No lie the cubs stumbled in April but there is no reason why this team cant continue to improve in May and into June. Ive seen a vast improvement in all aspects of this team from the opening day till now. IF the Cubs can reach 500 or above by mid June I feel they will be battling for that last Wild Card spot into Sept.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              And not to fan the flames of hope, but … this team could EASILY be 15-14 right now, instead of 12-17. I think most of the algorithms say the Cubs should be at least a game or two better and have been unlucky.

              … but then I remember the three come from behind wins, and say that the Cubs could EASILY be 9-20, too.

          • rcleven

            Don’t see the Cubs being 3 to 4 out at the trade deadline.I can see them finishing 3rd in the NL Central. With the Brewers failing by attrition, Pitsburg being Pitsburg and Astros playing over their heads right now. 37 wins won’t get you within spitting distance of St Louis.

        • MaxM1908

          I agree about keeping our heads, but unless a trade offer comes around which is very favorable to the Cubs, I really don’t like the idea of trading off pieces unless it’s dead weight like Marmol or Soriano. I could part with LaHair, but the offer better be amazing. The biggest thing I like about LaHair is his confidence at the plate. Rarely does he look fooled by a pitcher. He fouls off balls close the strike zone and waits for his pitch. That to me, is an invaluable asset on this team, and hopefully his approach will rub off on other players. I really like this scrappy lineup who nobody has faith in. They won’t make the playoffs, but I hope they exceed expectations so a culture of winning develops in the clubhouse and rubs off on new players like Rizzo, Jackson, and Cardenas for years to come.

          And while we’re all losing our heads, wouldn’t it be apropos for the Cubs to win a World Series with a team everyone thought was going to win 70 games? Maybe sneak in on a newly minted second wild card and have a shocking, above-their-weight October performance? It’s 99.5% certain that Cubs won’t be playing in October, but I can dream, right? I think Cubs fans deserve a Major League (the movie) type season.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I’ll agree – I’ve always imagined that the Cubs team that finally wins it all will be a total surprise, not a juggernaut that dominates all year.

            • hansman1982

              ride a hot streak in September through the 1-game playin, sweep the Mets and Padres (and I mean crushing, soul-sucking, just close the franchise defeats) en route to taking down the Red Sox in 7 after going down 3-0.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                Padres better get hot.

          • hardtop

            i didn’t think they’d win 70.  I’m still not sure they will, but i would put the ceiling at 81. on the plus side, i think they have had one of the tougher April schedules in all of baseball.  Unfortunately the reds, brewers, and cards are all good teams.  we might find ourselves in the best division in the national league, which will make it tough to put  together wins. the truth is this: the starters are going to have bad days, the bullpen is really not very good, Stewart has had one good week (call it bad luck if you want, but hes been able sustain bad luck), Soto is batting under .170, Fonzie has 4 extra base hits and none of them are homers, and LaHair, god bless him, is likely to come back to earth.  It’d be nice if they could ride this warmish streak to an even record and battle to play 500 baseball, but I’m expecting a couple more rough patches this season.

        • BN Virgin

          One week ago I would have said without hesitation that when Rizzo is ready (i.e. long enough to gain an extra year of control) they need to move Lahair to outfield. However, I’m now thinking… how much would a team like the Dodgers- who have light hitting James Loney manning first- be willing to give up to get a guy like Lahair in their lineup for the rest of this season. I love what Lahair has done so far. But, will he be able to keep it up? And, will his trade value ever be higher than it is now?

      • rcleven

        Cubs will never win 90 this year I would be thrilled winning in the mid to high 70′s. Starting pitching at least 1-2-3 are pitching way above average(except for Garza). What goes up must come down.

        • djriz

          I agree, the Cubs wont win 90, but I have to say it might be too early to say Shark is pitching way over his head. This could be a flash, I know, but none of us really knew how good he would be. My Cubbie Cool-aid makes me believe he can be a solid #2 or great #3 starter. (hope I didn’t jinx you Jeff).

          • Ivy Walls

            I thought from the get go that this club was a 83-78 win team. It is not being built for individual stars but being built to play the game right as a team, of course that starts with starting pitching. We witnessed a glimpse of that with T Wood whom I think is being prepared to replace the spot Garza vacates in a big trade.

            The question of Rizzo is as tied now to Soriano and LaHair. Watch as the Cubs try LaHair in LF a few times when they play an AL team on the road and Soriano at DH. Then after the ASB I think is the time for Rizzo to be recalled and Soriano is released where teams will vie over paying the minimum and LaHair is tried in LF.

            Other trades will incorporate the catching, the OF bench and possibly a starting OF’er.

  • rcleven

    Alot more of the Cub offense success has to come out of 6th-8th slots. Last night seemed to be a little warm up. Johnson is struggling with a 0/3 last night. Barney was 1/4 and Soto 2/4 and his liners are finding a place to fall. As the improvement in those spots so will the Cubs. Good to see Castro go to right with RISP. Hit it right at somebody but those will fall too some day. Pitching has been way better than I ever expected. As a staff they are somewhere around a .366 ERA. Dempster has to come back to earth some day. We need better production from the 5th starter. Don’t see how to Improve there till Demp or Garza are moved at mid season.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com ichabod

    marmol will live long and prosper when and if he throws his fastball more often

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Is that an ear joke?

      • hardtop

        trek yourself

  • Drew

    Pretty encouraging that the Cubs are currently 10th in MLB with a 3.70 FIP and 7th with a 4.02 xFIP, Much better than the team ERA would suggest.

    • rcleven

      Defense has improved. Stewart alone looks like a gold glover compared to what we have seen over the years. Stewart may just be hitting his weight but if you look at Aram’s numbers with Brewers .214 AVG 2 HR’s we don’t miss him at all.

      • Edwin

        Aramis is just waiting for the Cubs to be completely out of it before he starts hitting. Same old Aramis.

        • TC

          I hope you’re joking. 1, read this article about it

          http://www.obstructedview.net/news-and-rumors/aramis-ramirez-and-performing-when-it-counts.html

          (sorry for linking to another blog, Brett, but I think they make a good point there)

          2. The dude *always* mashed man, and pretty much every year, due to a combination of bad pitching/bad teams, a lot of the cubs teams Aramis played for flat out sucked, so when he started rolling, it didnt matter. Thats not his fault.

          He was like, the second best 3Bman this organization has ever had, and people go around bashing him all the time…I dont get it…

          • King Jeff

            While I was frustrated by his early season struggles, you are right ARam was always one of the Cubs best players. When he was on, he would carry the offense, the problem is that there was no one to pick up the slack when he was struggling. The only bad feelings I ever got toward ARam was his defense, base running, and his lazy demeanor(which might not be his fault, just the way some guys carry themselves). He also seemed to have a me first attitude his last two years in Chicago, which was exacerbated by his trade me/don’t trade me/I want to be a Cub for life/I’m gone phase at the end of last year.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            (never need to be sorry for linking to good content on other blogs, and especially not with OV – I’m a fan)

          • rcleven

            Aram could flat out hit with power but his defense was acceptable because he could hit. With simple pop up hitting him in the head and ground balls played to his side.

  • Caleb

    Were a month in and you can confidently say that we have a plus group of starting pitchers that can give us a chance to win. Castro hits, lahair is la-git, and Stewart and soto were not going to stay slumping all year. That bodes well for a season that is not nearly as dismal as people (not me) predicted in the preseason. I’m with Brett about moving a few hot pieces if we get great offers, but we have minor leaguers that are tearing it up and could come up to play solid, if not surprising, baseball for the big club.

    I like this team, both in what it can do now and in it’s potential. It won’t look exactly like this when we win the world series, but I think there will be more similarity than people expect.

    Go cubs.

  • Josh Z

    Of course I love bullets. My favorite part of the site!

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