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You really can’t say enough good things about a Cubs pitching staff that absolutely dominated a Braves offense that came into this series having beat the crap out of the ball. Paul Maholm was no exception today. For the fourth start in a row, he was brilliant.

The Cubs had trouble breaking through offensively against Tim Hudson. Starlin Castro had a chance to score on an inside-the-park homer in the fourth, but (1) he didn’t run hard out of the box, and (2) by the time he got to third (partly because of number 1), he should have been held. He wasn’t, and he was out by a country mile. Bryan LaHair was left holding his bat in the on-deck circle.

When LaHair got a chance to hit with a man on third and two outs in the 7th, well, you know.

  • CapnCub

    I am having thoughts too.

  • Zogie

    Advanced Box Score
    It was a rather quiet day for the cubs and the braves. Both pitchers brought their A game and both bullpens pitched well. I’m glad the cubs are leaving Atlanta. Atlanta has always pitched against the cubs well and the cubs are lucky to come out winning the series. DeJesus 1-3 got on base yet again, but he has started to go after pitches early in counts instead of being patient lately. I do not see it as a concern though. Campana 0-2 SAC. He helped move DeJesus in the 7th for the only run of the game. Castro 1-3 3B and almost had an inside the park homerun. The cubs are being aggressive with baserunning, but it cost us a run today. The 3rd base coach waved him home, so you can’t place the blame on Castro. LaHair 2-3 RBI came through in the clutch once again. Stay hot because we need you. Stewart and Soto were both 0-3. Cardenas 0-3 K has looked rough since being called up. I’m hoping it is just bad luck. At least he is putting balls in play. Barney 1-3 will continue to start at 2nd base until another 2nd baseman heats up with the bat. Barney plays great defense, but his bat has been silent lately. Russel and Dolis did a great job closing the door today. My shout out goes to Paul Maholm! 4 straight victories and continues to pitch great.

    • Brady

      Other then being waved home by the 3rd base coach, I still blame Castro for not making it home. Had he hustled out of the box, he would have been in safely. Yes he should have been held but you cant just loligag to first base because you think you will be out.

      • rycott

        I’ve noticed a number of times this year when he’s paused in the box to watch the ball after a hit. No one should do that, but he doesn’t have nearly the big league experience to even think about it. They need to get on him and break that habbit while he’s still young…and soon.

      • art

        he got that from Soriano.

  • Njriv

    Looks like we found our closer

    • Zach R.

      Exactly. Don’t let Marmol back in the closer spot because he will always find ways to blow the game.

    • rcleven

      Don’t get too high on this kid yet. He got it done today. This is the first time Dolis has pitched above AA ball. I have noticed with him that if things don’t right he looses his concentration and blows up. When he matures a little he will become a good set up man or closer.

      • cls

        At least he throws strikes. Something Marmol usually is unable to do…

      • art

        ok then, let’s put Marmol back at closer.

  • Ron

    Why did they pitch to him? I am glad they did but..

    • Brady

      They sorta didnt at least that RBI single looked like he just reached and poked it to the opposite field. They were hoping to get it around him but just didnt work that way.

    • Ogyu

      They had to pitch to him because they knew Stewart was on deck… ;-P

    • Njriv

      Why the hell did they keep pitching to Hamilton last night? Thats a better question.

  • TWC

    It feels like it’s been 8 or 9 years since we won a game 1-0.

    (Yeah, yeah, I know, baseball-reference.com users.  It’s only been since the last week of the 2010 season, but it feels longer.)

    • Senior Lake

      Agreed…I was thinking the same thing about a 1-2-3 ninth inning by a Cubs closer in a 1-run game.

    • EB

      We won one in Pittsburgh last year 1-0 in early August as part of our 7 game win streak. I only know this because I was there. Matt Garza threw a gem and a Starlin Castro solo shot provided us with our only run. I was also at today’s game, so I have now seen 2 1-0 wins by the Cubs in the last 2 years, and I do not go to many games each year.

      • FromFenwayPahk

        I’m in 10 bucks. Let’s buy EB season tickets.

  • Spencer

    This was a great game. I hope Sveum was paying attention in the eighth and ninth because those should be the set up guy and closer. Also, that was a good send on Castro. Aggressive base running has been a theme this year and that shouldn’t have changed this game. There was two outs and it took two great throws to get Castro. Good send.

    • Cubs Dude

      Completely agree Spencer, on the send of Castro. You got to be aggressive with 2 outs.. Dolis, looks like he’s throwing harder too than he was earlier in the year.

    • EvenBetterNews

      I can understand with 2 outs and Castro up to bat… But… Like Brett said, Castro didn’t run out of the box. Castro was rounding third as the relay was with Uggla. Lahair who is as hot as anybody in baseball not named Kemp or Hamilton is on deck. You don’t send Castro there. If you have Soriano on deck, I will concede that you put pressure on Uggla. That was a horrible move.

      • Cooper R

        I think you have to send him there with two outs. As Brenly pointed out the throw from Heyward was skipped in to Uggla. The only way Starlin was going to be out was if Uggla made a perfect read on the hop and still had time to make a good throw. He did that so it didn’t work out in our favor. If he had been held and Uggla bobbled the hop or dropped it we would be criticizing Listach for not sending him with two outs.

        • EvenBetterNews

          Yep, and that would be the equivalent of holding him at hopes of a past ball, not the 3rd hottest hitter in the majors having a chance of driving him in.

    • Wilbur

      Nah, he was probably napping … ho hum game and all …

    • Joe

      Watching the replay, it looks to me that it’s a quickly delivered bullet by Uggla that made the out — otherwise it’s a close play at the plate, and you’re betting that Starlin can slide past the tag. Uggla’s throw was off-line, as the Atlanta guys called it, but it was off-line in the right way. Good throw, catch and tag by the Braves. I didn’t notice Starlin being slow out of the box, but everybody’s saying so, so I believe ya. Dunno if the send was right or not, but I lean toward right. You put the ball in your superstar’s hands when the game’s on the line, you know?

      • Kyle

        With two outs, I’m almost always going to defend sending a runner.

        You’ve got a 30-35% chance of getting him home if he stops at third. I’ll take my chances on a bad throw.

        • MaxM1908

          Yeah, a lot of the critique of base running decisions this year has definitely been a result of 20/20 hindsight. I think the Cubs have caught some bad breaks with spectacular plays on the opponent’s part (I’m thinking, for instance, the Soriano stealing third in the first game for instance, which I still believe he was safe). 50% of the time, Uggla is not going to make that throw from the outfield. We just got caught as a result of a spectacular (and fortunate) relay on the Braves’ part. If his throw is off in either direction, Castro scores.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Maddon is called “old school” for having his runners go so aggressively, but his justification is very new school: he crunched the numbers and found that base-runners make it a high proportion of the time.  The fielders have to do multiple things right to get a guy if a play is at all close: and if just one of them goes wrong, then the runner (very probably) will be safe.

          • FromFenwayPahk

            Red Sox scored a guy from first on a shallow hit to the outfield (Gonzales hitting with the bases loaded and two outs) last night because of this kind of stuff. I think better defensive work would have had the runner out at the plate.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Thing is, this time, there was a bad throw (Uggla’s throw was 10 feet up the line). That’s how out Castro was.

          • Joe

            But what if the throw had been on-line? Starlin would have had room to slide, and the catcher would have had to fight to apply the tag — another defensive challenge. I actually think the off-the-mark throw *helped* the Braves.

  • rbreeze

    So how do we stack up with the rest of the league in quality starts?  Except for Volstad, the top 4 have been outstanding.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The Cubs are 7th with (I think) 19 QS so far.  Washington leads with 23, and there are 3 teams with 20.  Something close to 75% of victories involve a quality start this year, although around a third of loses do, too.  So, its sort of like passing the first test.

    • Brady

      Agreed, if we find a quality #5 starter (or higher and shift people down accordingly), we will have a really solid rotation. Now that starter doesnt have to be somebody new, should a starter we already have in the system decide to grow some balls rather then throw them, but it is nice to see the rotation performing. (wish I could say the same about the bullpen but I digress)

      • Cooper R

        Wood could potentially develop into a nice #4 or #5 later in the year

    • rcleven

      Vol will come around. Has pitched into some bad luck a time or Two. Career .450 ERA. So he is due for a couple two and three run games.

  • hansman1982

    Ya when I heard Pat mention the throw before he mentioned Castro being sent home, I figured he was toast.

  • magilljl

    Country mile. Yes. That’s the exact distance.

  • JulioZuleta

    Beautifully pitched and MASTERFULLY (I hate the use of all caps, but feel its warranted in this situation) managed series. Sveum had a great feel for the bullpen (had to give Woody a shot, don’t put that one on Sveum too much), and his use of shifts was flawless. The starters were all great, but there were a few hard hit balls each game that should have been hits, but were lined straight into the shift without our fielders having to flinch. For those that criticized Sveum early on, give credit where it’s due. That was some incredible managing.

    • bazfan1234

      Agree, Sveum has done a great job with the shifts and the overall lineups as a whole. I can understand having to use Wood and Marmol, that is not his fault. I have been very impressed by Sveum and what the Cubs have done the past two weeks. Dare I say it, but this team is showing it is capable of breaking through the recent stereotypes (bad at-bats, not aggressive on the basepaths, terrible defense, giving up after the other team has the lead).

      • Brady

        Nope, we only give up when we have the lead. *Budum tish*

    • rcleven

      I have to put it on the manager any time he has no one up in the pen in a just in case substitution. Even if you have the best closer in baseball you just might need the change of pace in an emergency.

      • Kyle

        Warming guys up wears them out as pitching them. If you always have someone up, you are going to have a lot of tired arms in your pitching staff.

        • rcleven

          They have all to the next day to recover in the ninth even if not used. How many times have we had a reliever come in and give up a walk or two with no outs to close out a game with no one up in the pen. Can’t close the barn door after the horse has all ready run out.

  • MightyBear

    Uh how long have the cubs been looking for a left handed power bat? Yeah, let’s trade him for Broglio.

    Even if it doesn’t work out, the cubs should not trade LaHair. Bring up Rizzo, put him in left.

    • drew

      By him, you mean LaHair, right?

    • Joe

      Dude, where were you on Mather’s absence today??

  • rcleven

    I’m going to say it again 1 for 9 out of the 6-7-8 hole is not getting it done.

    • CastrotoBarneytoLaHair

      Neither is 2 for 11 out of the 1-2-3-5….but there is a reason they are in the 6-7-8 hole….

      • Can’t think of a cool name

        DeJesus and Castro, 1 for 3 a , I’ll take that in 3 at bats. Campana and Stewart 0 for 5. Not so good.

  • die hard

    Good to see team starting to believe in selves….a pattern developing of winning without Soriano in lineup?…appears that way…am sure front office is noticing…

  • Robert

    They showed a stat on the Braves telecast ( I live in ATL.) that the Cubs since April 21st have the BEST pitching staff in ALL of baseball. Starters have like a 1.73? idk it was something really laDiculous. ;)

    • MaxM1908

      April 21 really seems to be the date things started shifting in favor of the Cubs. It was the day Byrd was traded, the day Campana got his first at-bat. Since then, the Cubs have gone 10-7 with at least two of those losses being late blown saves by Marmol.

  • MaxM1908

    I really was impressed with defense this entire series. Sveum’s commitment to analyzing spray charts is paying off. We ALWAYS seemed to have our guys in the right positions in critical moments. That’s just lovely.

  • http://bleachernation.com RicoSanto

    Lahair is 33 for 86, you take away the K’s and he is hitting .600.So when he makes contact he is a .600 hitter.Dollis looks great with the 96 mph sinker.DO NOT put Marmol as closer ever again.

    • MaxM1908

      You pinpointed what concerns many about LaHair’s performance so far. His BABIP is unusually high. It’s not sustainable to have a .600 BABIP for the entire season. He’ll start slumping, especially as teams start getting spray charts and more scouting on him. Everyone should prepare themselves for his average to start dropping at some point. THat’s not to say he won’t still have a higher than average BABIP, but his current levels are unsustainable over the course of a season.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        I think that this also shows how “slumps” and “hot streaks” can be so misleading.  Most often, a guy isn’t hitting the ball any worse/better: he’ll still K, walk and slug at frequencies consistent with his overall rates (taking into account the quality of the opposing pitching, of course).  How frequently the grounders, bloops, etc., get through is the big variable.

        The important thing to remember once LaHair’s grounders stop being singles is that he’ll still be providing value with homers, doubles and walks.  There is no way that he’ll continue to be this lucky, but there is a good chance that he’ll continue to be this good.

        • MaxM1908

          Doc, I’m curious about whether some players have a greater ability to pull and push a ball through holes in the infield. Take for instance the LaHair RBI today. He saw the gap between 3rd and SS and appeared to direct the hit perfectly to a point beyond the range of the shortstop. I always wonder when something like that happens if it’s a skill that some players have to outsmart the defense (assuming they get the pitch that allows them to do it). Wouldn’t that skill, if it exists, necessarily raise a batter’s BABIP?

          • Puma0821

            Not Doc but, I absolutely believe it exsist… I used to do that all the time in High School and semi-pro ball. Defenses always assumed I was a pull hitter since I was usually in the middle of the order so I would go the other way intentionally then once they shifted back that way I would look to pull the ball. Of course the level of play isn’t the same and a lot depends on the pitches you get but I think it can be done to an extent in the MLB.

            Although, I guess you also gotta take into account, with all the scouting and large sample sizes eventually you start playing straight away and there are no huge holes.

          • hansman1982

            Per fangraphs:

            The average BABIP for hitters is around .290 to .310.

            In 1930, the league average BABIP was .312 (the highest season).
            1968 was the worst BABIP season at .269
            2011 was .295 from a 20 year peak of .303 in 2007
            The all-time median is roughly .282-.283

            Based on the hitters talent level is part of the difference. You may see a guy who naturally has a .320 BABIP and another guy who has a natural .280 BABIP. The difference is in their ability to adjust their swing to the pitch and the defense. Some guys are naturally better at poking an outside pitch to the opposite field rather than trying to pull the ball.

            It is entirely possible that LaHair will fall around the higher end of the spectrum but we don’t know yet. He has amassed a LaHair over 300 PA in the majors but is sitting at a LaDiculous .385 BABIP in those PA. FWIW, ZIPS put him between .320 and .350.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              It’s not surprising that 1968 was the all-time low: it was the point in (relatively recent) history when teams probably were giving away the most ABs in the name of fielding.  The subsequent dynasties of the 1970’s (A’s, Reds, Dodgers, Yanks) broke away from that by putting good-hitting (albeit sometimes weak-fielding) players in the “key” positions (middle infield, CF, catcher).

              As for LaHair, he’ll probably end up with a decent BABiP for the year simply because he’ll never give back this amazing run.  If he just does normally the remaining 4/5ths of the season, then this 1/5th will still drag his BABiP up a bit.  (Fate does not “owe” him a Soto-like streak to make up for this; it’s just as probable that he’ll have another run like this, which is to say, not very….)

          • DocPeterWimsey

            MaxM1908: FanGraphs (I think) had an article about success rates on grounders a few weeks back.  They found that some guys were better at getting groundball hits  than others, but:

            1. the correlation was with how hard they hit the ball, not where they placed it (Miggy Cabrera won, unsurprisingly);
            2. the difference that it created was still pretty small (i.e., extra hits every 20 or so grounders);

            My suspicion is that baseball players can aim for general parts of the field: i.e., I’m looking to hit it to right.  I would bet that the alterations on the swing necessary to “guide” the ball would make the swing so short and powerless that it still would have problems getting the ball through the infield.

  • Ivy Walls

    Epstein noticed that the club is responding to playing the game the right way and the only way this club constructed right now can win more than they lose, fundamental baseball starting with pitching & defense followed by scratching runs when they have a chance.

    One more thought is to move DeJesus to the two hole and move Campana to the lead off spot. DeJesus is patient enough to let Campana run while he can still get on base in the front of the order before Castro and LaHair. Cubs are really employing aggressive infield sabermetric designed shifts.

    Volstad now has to break through and give us a couple of quality starts and the rotation will be fully solid. The team is gaining a personality…grit and composure. 10-7 since the 3-11 start. Go now to Milw and take another series, look up at 12-8 over the last 20 and think solid.

    • Joe

      Interesting idea, flipping DeJesus and Campana…

  • http://www.bleachernation.com ichabod

    does zogie annoy anyone except for me.

    • drew

      Come again?

    • Joe

      Yes.

    • college_of_coaches

      Certainly not.

    • Spencer

      …you know this isn’t invisible, right? That’s like talking about someone while they are sitting right next to you. If you don’t like what he says, don’t read it. The internet is cool like that.

    • MichiganGoat

      I like the Advanced Box Score, it gives us a little more insight than reading the box score can do. And yeah if you don’t like something you have two choices 1-Ignore (its quite easy) 2-post a constructive response.

    • FromFenwayPahk

      I read it today and enjoyed it. Does that count? Thanks, Zogie.

      I’m not concerned too much with Zogie’s impression that “Atlanta has always pitched against the cubs well” because it is the Cubs near future (and helping to “ring” it in) that has me rooting for them. But it is this kind of local flavor, fan impression and history that has me rooting here at Bleacher Nation.

      I can read the boxscore without much help. But, I want to learn the whole Chicago narrative rather than just have my Cubs experience start up randomly, in media res, 2012. Thanks, BNers.

    • CastrotoBarneytoLaHair

      No. If Brett is cool with it…except that he said he was glad the Cubs were leaving Atlanta. I wasn’t aware that Wrigley was in Atlanta…

  • hardtop

    i just bought a ticket to Saturdays game in Milwaukee.  the last of the airline miles have been spent!  Any Cubs fans making the trip, hit me up, id love to hang out… still dont know where im sleeping friday night ;)

  • Master Gonzo

    call me a daydream believer, but can the lineup and starting rotation be a .500+ team by the end of the season if we see it come together in June?

    1. Campana – CF
    2. DeJesus – RF
    3. Castro – SS
    4. LaHair – LF
    5. Rizzo – 1B
    6. Clevenger – C
    7. Stewart – 3rd
    8. Cardenas – 2nd
    9. Pitcher

    Garza
    Dempster
    Shark
    Maholm
    T. Wood

    Is it realistic think this could happen? As much as I would love to see BJax up this season, moving LaHair to left for Rizzo, along with Campana hitting over .300 and DeJesus being the highest paid (sans Soriano) outfielder, should we just keep BJax down all season?!

    “This is what happens, Larry! This is what happens when the CUBS. BEAT. THE BRAVES!”

    • Joe

      “This is what happens, Larry! This is what happens when the CUBS. BEAT. THE BRAVES!”

      LOL. And the Dodgers!!

    • Brady

      I think .500+ is very realistic but I see no reason to take DaJesus out of the #1 spot as long as he keeps getting on base the way he has been. Campana is a much greater threat dropping a bunt and has greater security of advancing the runner. Also I trust DaJesus to see more pitches then Campana. Putting him second gives a lot of ability to move runners around and hope to have someone on base when Castro gets on and gets another base hit, like he is so good at doing. Lahair and Rizzo can flip places and I dont think it really matters which is cleanup (unless one proves to be far superior). I have my doubts on Cardenas from what I have seen but if he can produce fine, will also have to prove worthwhile on defense though because a key to why we are winning is strong pitching and solid defense.

      • Joe

        Good point re: Campana’s bunting and DeJesus seeing more pitches.

      • Jeremy

        Brady, nice points. Campana is really proving to be a valuable weapon in the 2 hole and he really is making huge strides this year. He’s making more contact IMO and starting to take more pitches. The best part about it is that teams have no idea what he will do. He creates chaos for opposing defenses. Personally, I love having him in this lineup and I don’t see any reason why he can’t be the everyday CF as long as he continues to show improvement.

  • rocky8263

    My boss invites me to join he and his family to my first Cubs game of the year and we’re sitiing one box over from the owner’s box. Damn, I know how I’m gonna spend my lottery winnings! Watched Theo pick at a plate of something small for over two innings.He was really hungry. T.R. waved and pointed pretending to know us. Now on my way to Dempster’s Casino Night. Hope Rickett’s doesn’t think I’m a stalker.

  • Ngap42

    Cubs win on my birthday! Nothin better

    • Joe

      Happy birthday!

  • calicubsfan007

    I am really starting to like Maholm and I hope he can keep this hot streak going. Thank God the bullpen held the lead. The bullpen is really good, with the exception of a couple horrible moments.

  • Wishful Thinking

    Do you think the Cubs would be able to trade Soto for Jeff Niemann?

    • calicubsfan007

      Probably. But I bet not a thing will come out until the trading deadline. Soto’s BA is rising, so is his stock. The deadline will be when it is the highest.

    • Blitzenjohn

      Tampa is clearly in the market for a C upgrade. Niemann or Davis could be had.

  • EB

    Just got home not too long ago after a long drive back from Chicago. It was another great day at Wrigley, made even better by a Cubs win! I sat in section 4 down the left field line (I think all of you know all to well that section 4 is down the left field). The crowd was not as big today as last night, but it was still a great atmosphere (always is at Wrigley). Maholm pitched great as did the bullpen. Castro’s near inside the parker was exciting and brought some life to the crowd even though he was thrown out. I didn’t notice whether he got out of the box slow cause I was watching the ball as Heyward dove after it. Well, time to eat some of my Lou Malnati’s deep dish that I brought home with me

  • louslew

    I don,t comment too often but I do read these comments every day. I get worn out reading all the comments ragging on Darwin Barney, my guess is if Sweum had inserted him into the game as a defensive replacement in the 8th inning on tuesday the Cubs would have turned that double play and Kerry Wood would feel a lot better about himself today. He is our best defensive 2nd baseman and if he can learn to stop swinging at so many pitchers pitches he will be more successful at the plate. It is time to start rooting for him as he is the best defensive 2nd baseman in our system.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks for the thoughts. For what it’s worth, I don’t think anyone roots against Barney – when he’s in the game, we all pull for him. It’s just a matter of getting the best overall player on the field, and, given his extremely weak bat, it’s fair to wonder whether Barney is that guy.

      • Blitzenjohn

        Agreed. Just wish Darwin would show a bit more patience at the plate.

  • LaHair4MVP

    He keeps coming up big for the Cubs. Let’s hope he can keep it going.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Volstad has never been a quality starter. He has 4 to 5 innings max before his pitch count gets out of site. His track record in Miami was the same as in Chicago. He simply does not have the secondary pitches that keep in a game longer than 4 to 5 innings. I love his sinking fastball. The coaching staff needs to work with him early in his starts to make adjustments because his fastball has so much sinking/breaking movement. If he is ever to be a solid starter he needs to get ahead in counts consistently. His flaw in approach is where he stands on the mound and he needs to adjust his position with the movement on his fastball. His pitches often look good but they are actually breaking around the outside of the plate or moving off the plate. He appears to get frustrated with this flaw and it affects is ability to get his secondary pitches in the zone. I would have him throwing both a two seem and four seem fastball. A four seem would be a good get me a strike fastball and his two seemer will sink and move. His fastball has so much tail on it that his breaking ball looks entirely different and is easy for a hitter to distinguish between them. So his breaking ball has to be his surprise pitch. I personally think Volstad is miscast in his role. I think he has enough action on his fastball to be a really good bullpen pitcher. I like what he brings to the table. Sveum and Bosio need to focus on him and help him every start right from the first pitch. He is very predictable so he needs someone to think for him. Preferably someone with a creative mind who can help him with art of pitching.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    I like Barney. His role isn’t to be a run producer. I think because of his physical make up he has a hard time at the plate after 4 or 5 games in a row. When he is rested he performs better. His bat is definitely faster. He is our second baseman. He has made marked improvement defensively and it’s important that we don’t throw somebody different out there defensively all the time. Starlin needs to work with the same guy most of the time so he (Starlin) continues to improve on defense. Playing middle infield is as much about knowing your partner like the back of your hand as anything. These two are growing together. Unless we get a second baseman who is going to be the anointed everyday starter they need to leave this alone. I think Cardenas is the left handed hitting Barney. I heard all about his ability to square up the ball and that he can hit hit hit. But what about his defense? No knock against him. He too needs to be so familiar with Starlin and vice versa that everything clicks perfectly on defense. It makes our short stop better. The problem Barney has is that the fans want him to be a .300 hitter. He’s not. He’s a .285 hitter probably. He could have streaks at .300 or better when he isn’t tired from the grind. Soon as he gets tired his BA is going to drop. Barney is a great teammate and he gives all he has in his tank everyday. Sveum needs to check his gas gauge a little more often.

    • Drew7

      Sorry, but keeping a light-hitting, impatient hitter with no power at 2B just to keep Starlin comfortable is not good team managment. We have no idea how Cardenas will turn out, but he definitely is not a left-handed Barney. Aside from playing the same position, they are completely different.

      Further, his Batting Average has nothing to do with what makes him bad offensively, its his low BB rate coupled with a severe lack of power. If Cardenas is able to be the hitter he has shown capable of being, he will be a better option than Barney.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      “His role isn’t to be a run producer.”

      Then he should not be starting any position other than pitcher.  Again, look at Theo’s Sox: every guy had the same role: get on base and keep the line moving.  Guys who couldn’t do that stayed on the team only if they were late inning fielding replacements or pinch runners.

      This also has nothing to do with hating Barney: he’ll never magically grow a batting eye, and it’s not like he can just decide to “be patient.”  It is, however, everything to do with being frustrated that the Cubs cannot find a league-average 2Bman.

      • Kyle

        Julio Lugo and Coco Crisp are at the door, they would like to speak with you. Something about showing your their 2007 OPS+ and World Series rings.

        • CastrotoBarneytoLaHair

          Along with Larry Bowa, Craig Counsel, Ozzie Smith…I realize they are/were shortstops, but the point is they were light-hitting, solid middle infielders that have WS titles…

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Crisp got benched in favor of Elsbury part way through 2007.

          Lugo didn’t work out and got replaced later.  SS has been a tough position for the Sox, for whatever reasons: but every team seems to have “that” position.

          • Kyle

            Crisp didn’t get replaced with Ellsbury full-time until Game 6 of the ALCS. Theo’s perfectly content to build his teams with strong defense/poor offense players when they are what’s available.

      • Drew7

        Exactly. I feel like this also ties into Campana and his frequent sac bunts. I understand he is being ordered to do that, but I don’t find having your 2-hitter giving himself up once a game to be productive.

        As for his comment on Barney, this is just going back to the old school thinking of certain players being “RBI guys” and having your 2-hitter be a “slap-hitter” that is praised for hitting behind a runner and giving himself up. This type of thinking, coupled with playing guys that fit these roles (while ignoring much more important skills) one of the reasons this team struggles to score runs.

        • TWC

          “…Campana and his frequent sac bunts. I understand he is being ordered to do that…”

          Is he, really?  I’ve been under the impression that Camapna — well aware that his speed is his only real asset — feels that bunting is his best opportunity to get on base.  Has Sveum come out and said that he’s calling the shots on Campana’s ABs?

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Yeah, I figured Campana was doing that on his own, knowing that even on a “sac” bunt, he’s got a fair chance of reaching (if he was a better bunter, that is…).

            • Drew7

              That very well could be, but he may want to work on his quasi-sac bunts then.

              I guess I assumed a sac bunt is ordered when hes squaring early (at least it seems that way).

        • Kyle

          Quick, without looking, what do you think a league-average OBP and OPS are for a 2b?

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Not looking, hope this isn’t embarrassing: .335 and .730 (starters only).

            • Drew7

              I bet, in this year’s case, thats probably really close

            • DocPeterWimsey

              I don’t know about this year, but the 0.730 OPS is very close to what 2Bman who qualified for the batting title averaged in 2011.  (I was of two-minds as to how to standardize individual OPS: relative to overall positional performance or relative to the starters.)

              • Kyle

                Your normalize to overall positional performance. Starters tend to be better than backups, of course, but nobody’s starters play 162 games. 162 times times a year, somebody is playing 2b for every major league team, and that’s who Darwin Barney’s competition is.

                Fangraphs has Barney on pace for a 1.6 WAR season. Baseball-Reference is going nuts for his fielding right now and has him on pace for a 4.9 WAR season (obviously an outlier).

                He’s a replacement level bat with a borderline elite glove. The day he’s our biggest problem in among every day players, this will be a playoff team.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  You should normalize to the league average to evaluate the effect of performance.  However, if you want to design a team, then you should standardize to the other starters.  Yes, you should plan on injuries happening: but to your team, not to others!

          • Drew7

            Good questions Kyle. OPS for 2B around .760? That would have to be close.

            • Kyle

              You are high by almost 100 points, which makes the point I was implying.

              A lot of stathead fans cut their teeth in the high-offense 1990s, and their opinions haven’t caught up to the low-offense 2010s.

              The league-average NL 2b is hitting .254/.319/.370 for a .689 OPS. Last year it was .699. The MLB average is .695.

              A lot of us are stuck in the 1990s. We see an OPS below 700 and have a knee-jerk “Bad!” reaction.

              But a good defensive middle infielder who hits for a .650ish OPS was AAA fodder in 1998. In 2012, he’s a useful second-division starter.

              • Drew7

                Career OPS of NL 2B

                Weeks – .782

                Phillips – .753

                Uggla – .822

                Johnson – .786

                Altuve – .731

                Hill – .738

                Walker – .755

                Hudson – .758

                Infante – .719

                Ellis – .727

                Espinosa – .707

                Murphy – .777

                Utley (although thats almost not fair) – .882

                Barney – .652

                I’m fairly certain none of the above players played in the 1990’s

                I know the offensive numbers are down this year and last year for 2B, but I don’t think that proves a change of “era”. Even if that is the case, a starting 2B with a career OPS .043 below the NL league average isn’t exactly ideal.

                • Kyle

                  1) Why would you use career averages? You know that’s a bad way to handle things.

                  2) No one said it was “ideal.” Ideally, I’d like a 2b who can hit really well and be an elite defender. But until one of those becomes available, Barney is perfectly acceptable.

                  • Drew7

                    1) Its no worse than using the 1 year and 2 months worth of numbers to make a point.

                    2) Maybe I should re-phrase: Even including backups in your argument, Barney is still a terrible hitter.

                    We are just of different oipinions on the importance of offense at 2B I suppose. I wish I knew how to look up league numbers year-by-year for each position.

                     

                    • Kyle

                      Baseball-Reference.com. Look under year, league and “batting splits.”

                      It’s not about how “important” or “unimportant” offense or defense are. It’s about how much value a player brings when you combine the two.

                      Barney is a replacement level offensive player and a 1-3 WAR defensive player. He has the same value to me as a replacement level defensive player who provides 1-3 WAR with his bat.

                      Obviously, 1-3 WAR is a big range, but I wanted to save the quibbles about where exactly his defense should be pinned down.

                    • Drew7

                      Thanks for the instruction on how to get those stats.

                      I’ve never been a big believer in WAR, especially with the limited metrics on the value of defense, but I see your point.

                      You are correct by saying Barney himself is not the biggest problem on the team, but this offense is terrible. I think the biggest problem is a lack of OPS from other positions as well (the outfield, especially).

                      My original point was in response to CubsGoneWild; If you have a 2B’man that can put up better offensive numbers ready to go, Barney becomes replaceable, especially when no apparent replacement is ready at any of the other positions where offense is lacking.

          • TWC

            My guess: .330, and OPS of .680

          • KyleNovak

            Kyle, you’re definitely alluding to a point I was going to make. :) Second-base in the NL is very ho-hum. Jose Altuve in Houston and Omar Infante in Miami are your most valuable. All of the big names (Brandon Phillips, Rickie Weeks, Dan Uggla) aren’t really playing all that well and are making big money to boot.

            Not going to guess though, because I looked it up earlier today. :)

          • DocPeterWimsey

            I don’t know what the numbers are for this year, but they probably are pretty similar to last year.  In 2011, 2Bmen overall averaged about 0.710 for OPS.  I remember this because Barney had an OPS of 0.670 last year, which came to an adjusted OPS of -0.04.  Of the top of my head, that’s the difference between an average offense (e.g., the 2011 Cubs) and a pretty bad (but not truly abysmal) offense (e.g., the 2011 Giants).

            Here is a big caveat: the overall average includes the backups.  The average starting 2Bman was a bit better: I seem to recall that the guys who qualified for the batting title were up to 0.740.  Given the general WAR, where you look at numbers relative to other guys at his position, you can make arguments either way: how does my starter compare to other starters, or how does he compare to his positional colleagues overall.

            I wouldn’t be surprised if the league average OBP was not too much better than Barney’s: his big deficiency relative to the typical 2Bman probably is power.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Right now I think it would be extremely unwise to trade any of the 1 thru 4 starting pitchers with the Cubs. Want to demoralize a team that is starting to play better ball send off a pitcher who is lights out every time out. We don’t need to trade Dempster. We need to re-sign him for next year and plan on him being lower in the rotation. Pitching is almost impossible to find. Why get rid of it for unproven prospects. Theo needs to draft his own prospects. Do a good job at that. Sculpt some of the players he already has in the minors. If I want to build a team for the future I don’t trade away the best parts of the puzzle. He needs to draft a few quality pitchers out of college that can get to the majors in a year or two. Last time I checked next year Ricketts is going to have a ton of payroll that is completely off the books. Zambrano, Byrd bring back a bunch of mils. Sign a free agent top end starter and we are good 1 – 5. We don’t need Youkalis right now. We have talent in Baez, Lake, Vitters and Rizzo who play corner infield and short stop. We seem to have a plethera of outfield talent coming along. Draft pitching and a stud for second base.

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