Matt Garza is back today, as the Cubs head to Milwaukee to take on the Brewers for three. Today’s also the day for our fantasy baseball contest! There’s still time to sign up and set your team (it’s based on tonight’s games), so GET ON IT. That link will get you the details, but if you don’t care about details, just sign up here.

Former catcher Adam Melhuse, one of the Cubs’ two advance scouts, watched the Braves and was at Wrigley Field on Monday to personally present his report to the coaching staff and the players.

“They pick up on some tendencies that maybe we don’t see, because they’re specifically looking for them,” Chicago’s Bryan LaHair said. “They tell us about the action of their balls, what their go-to pitches are, what their strikeout pitches are. We can look at the video, but it’s good to know someone is seeing a pitch in a certain situation every single time. It’s definitely an advantage.”

It requires a significant financial commitment, but Hoyer said it’s worth it. The players have responded well.

“It’s awesome the way it’s set up,” infielder Jeff Baker said. “The biggest thing is they can put into words what they’re trying to say on a report. You can see a report and read it, but it might not make sense or be convoluted. [Melhuse] irons it out and you ask questions.” …

Melhuse, who played for Listach at Triple-A Iowa, doesn’t stay long. He’s back on the road now to advance the next series. Kyle Phillips, the Cubs’ other advance scout, will most likely be at Miller Park on Friday before the Brewers series, although Sveum knows them well enough to do the report himself.

One National League scout estimated that 20 of the 30 Major League teams had advance scouts on the road, but didn’t know of any teams who employ a pair as the Cubs do. Some teams rely solely on video and don’t send anyone to games.

  • Other teams continue to complain about the LED board at Wrigley Field in right field, which makes it difficult for bullpen catchers to see the ball when warming up. MLB is apparently investigating, and might soon start working with the Cubs on a solution. I’m sure it’s a legitimate issue, but, at the same time, I haven’t yet heard about any bullpen catchers taking a pitch off the face mask. How bad can it be?
  • David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution is highly complimentary of the Cubs team that just took two of three from the Braves. It wasn’t the Braves’ fault, says O’Brien – the Cubs’ pitching is just ridiculous right now. I think he’s right.
  • MLB has decided that it will not punish Kerry Wood for giving two fans a souvenir and a great memory throwing his hat and glove into the stands on Tuesday night. Um, yeah.
  • Paul Sullivan answers reader questions, which focus heavily on Carlos Marmol. Sullivan also mentions the Hoyer/McLeod/Padres compensation issue (still no resolution, but it’s been so long that Sullivan isn’t sure if anyone cares anymore), and takes a swipe at … someone … with this: “One thing about Marmol: He faces reporters whenever he blows games. Not everyone in the clubhouse can say that.”
  • Carrie Muskat also takes questions, and the most interesting one is the one she doesn’t answer: why hasn’t David DeJesus tried to bunt for any hits?
  • MLBullets at BCB features Soxenfreude, as fans turn on an indifferent Josh Beckett.
  • If Beckett continues to flounder, might the Red Sox feel compelled to overpay for a starting pitcher or two? Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe thinks they might, and mentions Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster.
  • Myles

    I would love to send Dempster to the Red Sox for some salary relief. We might even get a prospect out of it (but probably not)!

    • Brett

      I feel like that must be a joke…

      • Fishin Phil

        Myles, are you Phil Rogers??

        • hansman1982

          Then he would have suggested Dempster + $6M for Carl Crawford.

      • Josh Z

        I’m with you. The Cubs should only trade Dempster if they get legit prospects in return. You don’t trade your best pitcher for salary relief. He has been the best pitcher this season. It may be a good idea to sell high because he does have a career ERA of 4.36. But by no means should he be dumped for salary relief. If the Cubs had any means of offense he could have been the pitcher of the month.

      • hcs

        Yeah, we’ll never get any decent prospects for a guy with an ERA over 1…

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Dempster’s 2012 performance is far from the only consideration: his age, his contract situation (both current $$$ and years of control) plus his recent past performances also are issues.

          • hansman1982

            If he maintains pitchnig the way he has (elite level) a contending team needing that arm or a team that is eyeing a wild card berth might be desperate to acquire that. Remember, the play-in game is going to make some teams who won’t win their division want an extra top starter to use in that game before they have to use their ace.

            Plus, if they feel he can be a 2-3 starter for another season or two it gives them first crack at negotiating an extension.

            He won’t bring back what Garza would but if you get the right team we might get a decent return.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              My thought here is that teams are still worried about the effects of the new CBA on their ability to replenish their farm systems, and thus might (for a couple of years at least) overvalue their prospects relative to the past.  Yes, a team contending for the “play in” will want another starter: but if adding a different player you can keep a couple of more years gives you a good shot at actually winning the division, then that is the better way to go.

              • hansman1982

                and by then GM’s will have a draft and some negotiations under thebelt as a better gauge of what players/agents are expecting under the new rules.

                Obviously we would have gotten a better return under the old rules but I think you are going to see some teams still being willing to part with decent prospects for a run at the playoffs.

    • Myles

      I was kidding!


      • Brett

        See! I knew it!

      • hansman1982


        I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hampster and your father smelled of elderberries.

        • Richard Nose


        • Cubbie Blues

          No, now go away or I shall taunt you a second time.

          • hansman1982

            But that would be but just a flesh wound! (liberties taken with this line)

            • Cubbie Blues

              You mean something like this?

              Monty Python Flesh Wound Doll

              You can’t beat the Black King!

              • JulioZuleta

                The first time I saw that scene I was about 14 years old and I laughed uncontrollably for a good 20 minutes.

        • ty

          Hansman–only yesterday a new member -babe ruth–commented on BN and how kind everybody seemed. I frantically tried to warn him.

  • Andy

    Why dump Dempster for nothing? Hes been one of the best pitches in MLB this year. If he doesnt net at least a top 10 prospect from a team, then you keep him and hope to sign him to a 2 year team friendly contract. Unless they are a total flop (like Soriano) theres no point in dumping a good player, they still need to win some games to keep fans interested.

    It will be interesting to see what they can get for Dempster if he keeps pitching well.

    • rcleven

      I view players much like stock, bonds, or commodities. The most talked about player or stock at the cocktail party usually has made the largest run up and is over valued. I see Dempster at that point right now ( remember about 8 mos. ago the public was raged and wanted Demps head). The call option on Dempster expires at end of September and it’s time to sell when value exceeds worth.
      Let’s just hope the profits we receive can advance the whole portfolio.

  • Mike

    I don’t get why so many folks think we need to dump Dempster? The guys is solid and we should not have to pay a dime. Z = headcase, Byrd = Sh!tty. A team at the deadline will be happy to send prospects for Dempster, they just won’t over pay knowing it is most likely a rental situation.

  • hansman1982

    I wouldn’t be surpirsed, if nothing is done about the LCD board the next time they are in town, to see the Cardinals bullpen sail a pitch over the catcher and complain that is why they lost the game.

  • Ivy Walls

    This has to pay dividends on the margin and I can see it in defense alignments, pitching approaches and some hitting approaches. This also means that the Cubs must have players who are able to respond to the information and not merely play the way they always had.

    • hansman1982

      Welcome to the Cubs Way. Infintely better than the old Cubs Way.

  • CubFan Paul

    That’s a big jab by Muskat (in her own way)

    • DocPeterWimsey

      It was not a jab, it was an insipid response.  Nobody bats in fewer bunt situations than an NL leadoff man.  Now, the questioner might have meant “bunting for hits”: but the whole “bunting contest” was about sacrifice bunts, which are a totally different beast from bunting for hits.

  • rcleven

    Love them ex-catchers some of the smartest people in the game

  • MI6

    It is good to see results from scouting. A hallmark of many years of Cubs hitters was their inability to hit someone they had not seen before. We seemed to be the only team to have this problem.

  • rcleven

    Interesting reading the Atlanta article. Reading the day night splits on the braves. If every team is affected the same way Cubs would be contenders now.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      True, but the Braves (and other teams) will never keep up such splits for long.  The Braves’ record is a good example of small sample size effects.  The Braves are basically a 0.600 team: and the probability of such a team going 4-6 and 15-7 is only 1/3rd the probability of a team that is 0.400 in daylight and 0.680 at night going 4-6 in the day and 15-7 at night (0.015 vs. 0.045).  Basically, we expect one team in 7 or 8 to show such differences just by chance alone.

      And, of course, this does not take into account other factors: like, for example, the Braves running into the ghost of the 1995 Braves pitching staff for 3 of their 10 night games!  That makes it even more probable that you could get these splits simply by chance alone.

      • rcleven

        Very interesting .
        Could be too that some players just see the ball better at night and react better. Kind of like all ball parks having a hitters background in center field but not exactly.

  • Patrick

    Who the heck wants Youkilis? If Cubs trade Dempster they should get a good prospect if he continues this onslaught of NL lineups. Although I think the Cubs should re-sign Garza with the emergence of Samardzija, the Cubs should get an abundance of prospects if they choose to trade both. Maybe Middlebrooks?

  • Smitty

    What I found most surprising is that Muskat wrote a piece worth reading. It is about time Carrie!

  • SoCal Cubs Fan

    All this talk of trading Dempster, doesn’t he have a no-trade clause. Besides I think we should just ride it out! We are finally playing good baseball, let’s see where it takes us.

    • Beer Baron

      Exactly, he is a 10/5 guy and its highly unlikely he’ll be traded this season. But the team will field calls and if he continues to pitch like this there will be some intriguing offers made. I’m sure Jed & Theo will ask Dempster if he’s willing to accept a deal with any of the teams they hear from, but I suspect he will say no each time. But who knows, maybe they do a handshake deal where he accpets the trade and in return they agree to bring him back for 2 year deal, or something like that.

      • rcleven

        If I remember right, time has not been kind to me, Demp said he would wave no trade if Theo thought it would make the team better. Besides what player would or can turn down the opportunity to go to a contending team and a shot at a ring.

  • rcleven

    “One thing about Marmol: He faces reporters whenever he blows games. Not everyone in the clubhouse can say that.”

    Poor Sully. Were his feelings hurt?
    As I see it he was trying sell a few more internet clicks.
    Wood handled the interview poorly but has always handled his bad outings with class and a good scene of humor before.

    The man had a bad game. Kicking a person when he is down seems classless to me.

    • Jeff

      Wood just comes off the DL and threw 95 on the radar gun. At least he’s throwing his fastball. I had less of a bad feeling about Woody blowing the game than watching Marmol’s repeat performances. At least, in my opinion, Woody still has heart and I wasn’t upset with his handling of the media. After a blown game, I think they were baiting him, so they could have something to write about, which is what they got.

      That’s just bad journalism!

      • Shawon O’Meter

        Unfortunately that is “journalism” today. They all have their agenda’s and God forbid you don’t answer one of their precious questions, an all out assualt will ensue. Reporters should report without editorial comments…just the facts please, because I could give two hoots for the opinion of Paul Sullivan and the like!

  • CubsFanBob

    I like Suly but the guy is guy is Mr. negativity it seems. He is the Joe cowley of cubs beat writers.

    • Shawon O’Meter

      That’s because he is a born and raised White Sox fan; nuff said!

  • rbreeze

    If the Cubs trade Dempster to Boston it better be for some young stud player.  If Boston is in the race come the end of July, we should be able to pluck a gem from their farm system.  Our anyone elses farm system for that matter.

    Wasn’t it Boston that once traded for relief pitcher Larry Anderson from Houston.  Houston got someone named Jeff Bagwell.  Thats the kind of power trade we want.

  • cubs1967

    not sure why Wood’s antics got compared to big Z by the radio media…..he did not punch a teammate; curse them our in the dugout; call them out to the media or make gestures on the mound or damage cubs property by destroying water coolers or gatorade jugs; he gave 2 fans great souvenirs or a nice wad of cash if they e-bay the glove and hat.

    he got mad. good he cares. who cares. i don’t get it.

    so everytime a cub gets mad; it’s he acted like big Z……….if the radio media cannot fill its’ day with stories in THIS town…………then maybe they should switch to a music only station.