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I’m headed back to Chicago tomorrow morning, and will be taking in the Cubs’ two-game set against the Phillies Wednesday and Thursday. Tomorrow night’s game is the Cubs’ first “Social Media Night,” so we’ll see what that’s all about. Looking forward to it, and definitely let me know if you’re going to either of the games. I’ll be in my increasingly-usual right field bleacher spot.

  • Dale Sveum appears to have a two-part explanation for his terrible, terrible, terrible (did I mention terrible?) decision to have Starlin Castro bunt last night in the 8th inning with men on first and second and nobody out in a tie game. First, Dale explained that he wanted to stay out of the double-play, but acknowledged that he knew the Cardinals would probably just walk Bryan LaHair if Castro’s bunt was successful (which would have set the damn double-play right back up!). Second, Dale said this, according to the Tribune: “Some poor bunting, but it wasn’t as much the bunting as you have to pull back and slash in those situations when they’re charging. It’s hard to get guys to understand that. It’s something you work on and work on, but it kind of speeds up a little during the game. That’s something we have to work on as much as anything because it’s such a prevalent part of the game.” In other words, when Castro saw Lance Berkman charging hard from first, he was supposed to pull back and slap the ball.
  • With Castro’s skill set, you can understand why Sveum might think that approach could work. But why even put the bunt on in the first place? Sveum himself acknowledges that he knew the likely best case scenario was the bases loaded and one out for Alfonso Soriano (“The more people you start getting on base and turning that [lineup] over is fine with me.”). With apologies to Soriano (who ultimately did single), is bases-loaded-one-out-for-Soriano really a better setup than first and second, none out, Castro at the plate and LaHair on deck? Really? I don’t even come close to agreeing, and I can’t excuse Dale for this one. I still like what Dale’s done overall, but it was a big, big mistake that could have cost the Cubs the game.
  • Unrelatedly, Sveum admits that he occasionally looks at the standings, even this early in the year. The Cubs have consistently been at the back of the pack in the Central, but they’re only five games out right now. All I can think about is four games that the Cubs easily should have won, but the bullpen blew.
  • Chris De Luca has a nice write-up on Anthony Rizzo – past, present, future, and all that.
  • Some dude writing for the Wall Street Journal says the Cubs should tear down Wrigley Field because the Cubs can’t win there, or some other circular logic.
  • Bob Nightengale says Alfonso Soriano’s is now the worst contract in baseball. That might well be the case, but any top five that has no mention of Jayson Werth is not a list I can take seriously.
  • Jim Callis talks about the Draft, generally (not Cubs-specifically), which is just about three weeks away. The plan is to have live coverage and reactions here for the Draft, by the way, so plan your schedule accordingly. It’s a very fun three days.
  • As usual, there are some great conversations going on over at the Message Board. Folks openly wonder whether Dale Sveum is here for the long haul or just for the rebuild, discuss the myriad positional possibilities when Anthony Rizzo is called up, and one BN’er shares the story of how he became a Cubs fan after growing up a Cardinals fan. There’s tons of good stuff over there every day.
  • Speaking of the Message Board, that’s where we had the last come-to-the-game-with-me contest, and the winner was Robwiller, who vowed, among other things, to run around the entirety of Wrigley Field if the Cubs hit a homer. He might think I won’t hold him to that … but he’d be wrong.
  • Ivy Walls

    I don’t have problems with Sveum being unconventional and aggressive in the early going even with Castro in National TV. Look Castro didn’t put the bunt down in the right spot. Campana missed a hit and run sign, but the Cubs won by getting men on base and then being aggressive forcing the Cards to make plays.

    I really like this kind of play and know from experience that it will pay dividends. As for Soriano, eventually he will go on the DL, bring up Rizzo (or as usual slow starting Jackson) and get more offense.

    • bt

      You don’t bunt with your #3 hitter. Giving away outs with your best hitter will not pay dividends.

      • CubbieBlue085

        We have the most unconventional #3 hitter in baseball. He is so versatile that I expect him to be able to lay down a bunt in that situation. Castro is a great hitter no doubt but one thing I have learned is there is no guarantee that he would have even moved the runners over. Its not like we were down in the game, its a tie game and 1 run is all you need and the best way to score is with a guy on 3rd. It didn’t work out but I would rather have a guy and 3rd with a potential wild pitch scenario than 1st and 2nd 1 out. We only needed 1 run plain and simple

        • Mike

          Going from 1st and 2nd, 0 outs to 2nd and 3rd, 1 out drops your run expectancy for the inning from 1.42 to 1.37, although it increases your chance of scoring by about 7%.

          But the “late in the game” argument for bunting is really only a good idea in the 9th inning, when you only need one run to win. But in the 8th, especially as the road team (so the home team has two more opportunities to score), you’re better off going for the higher run expectancy than you are the higher chance to score. And those run expectancy tables are for a league average batter. It’s an especially horrible decision with your two best hitters coming up.

          • Wilbur

            I understand and agree with the math and the conclusion that Sveum did not make the percentage call or that the most likely scenario he would have created was the one he was trying to avoid, the double play. Sveum’s error then get’s compounded with Castro’s anemic execution.

            However, my recommendation, which I expect any and all to reject, is everyone (including you Brett) needs to cool your jet’s. In my opinion Sveum’s defensive alignment’s have already won/saved several games.

            I don’t recommend it as a steady diet, but if one of your team’s biggest assets is speed, I’ve got no problems with the offense being aggressive and forcing the infield to rotate and make quick decisions on their part. In the next inning that same general approach led to a run.

            You win some and you lose some, but I like forcing our players to learn things like slapping at the ball with the first baseman charging in a bunt situation is a good idea. We learn more from our mistakes than our successes and this will be the year a lot of Cub’s learn.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Why would we need to cool our jets? Sveum comes in for PLENTY of compliments around here on his use of the bullpen (I think he almost always does the right thing, given his personnel), his defensive alignments, and his lineups.

              Why should that make him free from criticism when he makes an obviously bone-headed decision? No one is calling for his head here. Just calling for him not to make this same mistake again.

              • wilbur

                Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa …

                Never implied you shouldn’t critique, my reference was to the implied degree of disdain you exhibited with the multiple ‘terribles’ which to this reader implies great disgust, which I find excessive.

                If you don’t that’s great, if you do I find it excessive. I promise not say anything disagreable again.

                • Cubs Dude

                  Quit being Mr. Sensitive Wilbur. No one wants to hear that crap on a baseball site.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Willlllllbur. That’s the thing about this place: be as disagreeable as you want (note that all I was doing was disagreeing with you – I’m allowed to do it, too). Dissent isn’t a bad thing. It fosters learning by everyone, including me. I like it.

                  But, in this instance, we disagree. It was a terrible, terrible, terrible decision. That doesn’t mean Sveum is a terrible manager.

  • bt

    That Nightengale column does a terrible job of explaining why Soriano’s contract is worse than Wells or Mauers. His write ups make the other 2 sound much worse.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That’s what happens when you’re filling space, I reckon.

  • JK

    As for Soriano being the worst contract in baseball, I wish he’d be as gracious and classy as Mike Schmidt and bow out of baseball. He’s a plague to the team and the fans. If the man had any sense of honor, he’d take the money he’s already been way overpaid and save the franchise from further anguish. Alfonso Soriano, this is one baseball fan wishing you’d retire and give back to the community what you are not honoring in your end of the contract.

    • bt

      Soriano makes more in one year than Schmidt made in his career. Schmidt gave up less than 2 million dollars when he retired. I don’t see Soriano giving up 50 million.

    • MSU

      JK —^^^ Another guy who doesn’t get it!

  • bt

    And Sveum does a terrible job of explaining why he had Castro bunt. Just a terrible call. And I (almost) never blame the manager for a team’s shortcomings.

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    Calling for a bunt with Castro and men on 1st and 2nd is probably the worst call of any manager in any game this year.

    • MSU

      Completely agree. Indefensible, really. Good news is, I bet Dale learns from this mistake and doesn’t pull a stunt like that again. I think he and the organization are trying to do things a certain way (which is great!) but in that situation you need to let your best hitter try and hit the ball hard somewhere.

      What I took out of that whole incident was how Starlin reacted. He was pissed! I don’t think I’ve seen him react like that before (I could be wrong though). Regardless of how absurd bunt call was, Starlin still felt like he should have gotten that bunt down and was genuinely furious with himself. It all goes back to accountability, something the new regime has preached over and over again.

      This Cubs team isn’t great, and I expect them to remain under .500 for the year. However, for whatever reason I enjoy watching this team play. I don’t know if it’s because I’m more hopeful and my expectations were lower than in years past or what. I guess I can kinda see where this team wants to go and the nucleus that is going to take them there. It’s fun to watch.

      I better get back to work.

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        Starlin also didn’t run hard, so he also needs to learn something from it.

        • MSU

          I see what you’re saying and I agree, but in my opinion playing hard and hustling is not a problem with Starlin.

          • Robert

            MSU- It is a HUGE problem with Starlin. I can count NUMEROUS times where he hasn’t ran hard out of the box. his most recent prior to lastnight was when he could have had the inside-the-park-homer against the braves. he hit the ball and thought it was going to be caught and when he saw it drop THEN he starting running. I say Dale should bench him. he’s young and thats a really bad habit to have. he needs to learn. so he doesn’t becaome a half-ass Soriano jogging around the bases.

      • Smitty

        It was a terrible call. Which makes me wonder what Hoyer/Theo do when they see some of these bad decisions. Do you think they call Dale up and say something like, “If you bunt your #3 hitter with no outs and men in scoring position again you will be given a giant wedgie in the next team meeting.” Or something to that effect.

  • notcubbiewubbie

    as the season goes on i believe castro is not a number three hitter. brutal with men on base please move him up to number two behind de jesus.

    • Ivy Walls

      No, actually move Campana down to lead off and Castro up to number two and then DeJesus down to number three followed by LaHair, Rizzo and Stewart. DeJesus is a better situational hitter, Campana is so disruptive and better at free lancing, while Castro is better at hitting naturally.

      • yield51

        I think the Cubs have the right makeup to use the Larussa method of hitting the pitcher 8th, and Campana 9th. I don’t like the way that Starlin takes AB’s with Campana on first. I think a more patient hitter like Dejesus would let Campana do his thing, and could still get a quality AB if he were down 0-2, or 1-2. This would also allow Castro to hit 2nd, and Lahair to hit 3rd, which I think would be a much better order.

        • John

          Campana 9th would get my vote. He’d be like a “2nd” leadoff man, without the extra at bats.

      • Can’t think of a cool name

        First, I’ll say, I’m a huge Castro fan. I really want hime to succeed as a Cub. That said, i hope someone sits him down and teaches him how to approach an at-bat. He can be a really great player but he has to become more selective at the plate. I see him to often swing at pitches that are off the plate. Most of the time he makes contact and sometimes he even gets a hit, but he could be some much better if he changed his overall approach.

        • Bails17

          How about someone sit him down and tell him how to approach..let’s say base running. When you hit the ball…RUN. That is twice in the last week he didn’t run hard out of the box, and it just might of cost us 2 runs.

          • can’t think of a cool name

            Sure.

    • Drew7

      Except he isnt brutal with men on base:

      370 .360 .413 .773
  • Ron

    I will admit that having Castro bunts is unconventional but I have two questions. What is Castro’s batting average with runners in scoring position and what is his average in the final three innings of a game? I have not watched to many games but it seems he struggles late in the game particularly with runners in scoring position and in “clutch” situations. Also, there is the execution part of this, basically Sveum said Castro missed a sign. Was it really supposed to be “sac” bunt or a bunt for a basehit if they are playing back and you pull back hit it at them if they charge. To me it sounds like Sveum is psuedo taking responsibility for Castro’s mistake or am I completely wrong here?

    • Drew7

      I think you, like many others, let a couple bad AB’s by Castro with RISP stand out in your head. Hes hitting .370 w RISP. If he doesnt have confidence in his 3-hitter (where Sveum bats his best hitter) in that situation, why is he hitting there at all?

      • Ron

        Thanks, I am surprised it is that high. what about late in the game? I think Sveum is batting him there more for next year than this and think Castro missed a sign.

  • JK

    Perhaps it’s you that doesn’t get it, MSU. Mike Schmidt gave up what was a lot of money when he retired AND he was loved by the fans. He knew when his skills had diminished. He had the class to retire early in the season and was still voted to the All-Star game even though he was no longer playing. I don’t expect class to overrule greed in Soriano’s case, but I’m entitled to wish upon a star…and hope Alfonso Soriano read’s Brett’s BN.

    • MSU

      ^^^ This guy loves Mike Schmidt

    • MSU

      Also, not sure if Soriano can read. Or use the internet. Sorry I’m being a jerk. I just kinda have a soft spot for Soriano for no rational reason. Maybe because he smiles a lot and threw me a baseball in 2007.

    • hansman1982

      Even if Soriano wanted to the Player’s Union wouldn’t allow it.

      • JK

        hansman1982
        May 15, 2012 at 9:52 am
        “Even if Soriano wanted to the Player’s Union wouldn’t allow it.”

        Not sure what you mean. My guess is Soriano is entitled to retire. And my guess is the Cubs are not obligated to pay him if he retires. Do you know of stipulations in the contract that speak otherwise?

      • JK

        “Even if Soriano wanted to the Player’s Union wouldn’t allow it.”

        hansman1982, Not sure what you mean. My guess is Soriano is entitled to retire. And my guess is the Cubs are not obligated to pay him if he retires. Do you know of stipulations in the contract that speak otherwise?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Yes, you can retire and forgo the money (you just can’t give up your contract and keep playing). Won’t happen, though.

          • hansman1982

            Maybe I need to speak in a way that leaves nothing to doubt:

            The Player’s Union will use it’s significant weight and pressure to ensure that Soriano plays out the rest of his year’s and does not forego $30M+ so as to set a precendent. They will work out a payment plan suitable to both parties before they will “allow” Soriano to retire and give up that much money.

            This statement is not meant in any way shape or form to construe that Soriano could not just give the middle finger to the Union and walk away from the game and $30M+.

            • King Jeff

              There are situations where guys have gone home and still collected big paychecks for a few years. I’m pretty sure Bobby Bonilla is still getting paid by the Mets.

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        Gil Meche did it a couple years ago with the Royals…

        • hansman1982

          Yes Meche gave up $12M and was facing shoulder surgery that was going to cause him to miss the season anyway. Soriano is owed something like $45M and is still (semi) productive.

    • Edwin

      So Soriano is greedy because he won’t void his contract and give money back to the Cubs? If the situaion was reversed, where Soriano was making league minimum and having a Josh Hamilton season, should the Cubs do the nice thing and pay him 20$ Million?

      I’m sorry, but I’ve never understood the “Player X sucks and is overpaid, so he should give that money back” argument. Players are investments. When a team gives a player a gauranteed contract, they acknowledge that the player may never perform as well as the contract dictates. Be mad at the team for giving Soriano a bad deal, but don’t blame him for getting whatever he can get. It doesn’t make him greedy. It makes him a normal human being, just like you and me. Let me know the next time you have a bad month at work and send your paycheck back because you didn’t earn it that period.

      • http://twitter.com/#!/sperls13 sperls13

        THIS is a very smart post.

        It’s not Soriano’s fault Hendry is an idiot.

      • Mike Foster

        Edwin is spot on here, stop blaming Soriano for his contract. If teams had performance numbers in the contract that curtailed $$ for poor performance THEN you could bitch. Otherwise let it go, makes you look bad.

  • JK

    Just what I thought….you don’t get it.

  • MSU

    Probably not.

  • Ivy Walls

    Question for an idle sabermetrican today: Cubs went 3-11 and now are 12-9. The biggest changes to the lineup and club are these; Byrd replaced by Campana (moving Barney down to the backend of the lineup) and LaHair moved up to clean up hitter.

    In the last 21 games what is the difference in OBP and runs scored?

    BTW the Cubs are tied with Milw and Houston for 3rd or last place.

  • JK

    OK, now I rescind my last comment which was written before I read your comments about why you have a soft spot for Soriano. You have a reason to like him and I respect that. Peace/out, MSU.

  • Myles

    Stat for you guys today:

    Everyone like to bring up how “awful” Rizzo was last year in the majors.

    His OBP last year was .281.

    Soto 2012: .257
    Stewart 2012: .282
    Soriano 2012: .288

    Even if he’s as terrible as he was last year, he gets on base essentially as often as Soriano does this year. Put LaHair at LF, put Rizzo at 1B, and put Soriano on a bus to wherever he’d like to go.

    Rizzo also has 566 plate appearance in AAA, so over the magic number. In those appearances:

    129 games
    .336/.406/.656
    38 HR, 136 RBI

    Let’s dampen all those numbers by 15% to un-PCL the league, and balloon it to a full season:
    162 games

    41 HR, 145 RBI
    .286/.345/.558/.903

  • The Dude Abides

    Maybe if Sveum is going to emphasis the bunt he should practice in extensively in spring training, maybe a tournament or something…

    • Deer

      Maybe having an actual pitcher throwing heat instead of a coach at around 65-70MPH would be more realistic

      • MaxM1908

        You know, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the pitchers to practice defending the bunt in the same tournament. I’ve been disappointed in our bunt defense this year too. Other teams seem to know how to throw off a bunter’s game. I would also be very much in favor of a sac fly contest next year. Our team is HORRIBLE at scoring a runner on third with less than two outs. Please, please can we teach these guys how to drive a ball into the outfield and score the runner?

        All that being said, I’m very happy that we are debating and complaining about the finer points of the game. It means this team is doing some things very well. What we’re talking about are the aspects of the game that separate an average team from a great team. This gives me hope for the future.

  • Kevin

    I agree, “sorry asshole” should just walk away and save face.

  • Bails17

    The only logical reason Dale had to bunt Castro is to stay out of the double play. Castro hits a LOT of ground balls up the middle is a DP candidate. However…what Brett said is correct. If Castro gets the bunt down…you walk LaHair, and you have an even bigger DP/K candidate up at the plate with one out in Soriano. Now…if LaHair had ANY protection at all behind him, the decision would make a little more sense. I did say a little.

    • Drew7

      I bet you’re right, but Castro has grounded into 38 double-plays in almost 600 PA’s w men on-base in his career. He is much more likely to drive 1 or both of the runners in than he is to GIDP.

      Not to mention, like you and Brett both said – hes just creating another DP opportunity by bunting, only with a far worse hitter up and 1 more out.

  • Spencer

    Brett did you see my tweets about social media night

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      No. Were they @BN, or should I look at your timeline?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Nevermind. Now I see.

  • MightyBear

    I disagree with Brett and all of you who think the bunt was a terrible managerial move. It’s true that the Cardinals would have walked LaHair but the Cubs would have had the bases loaded with one out and their 5 and 6 hitters coming up and it was the top of the eighth in a tie game. I don’t see the problem with the move and you can’t convince me otherwise. Hindsight is 20-20. If Castro whiffs and LaHair hits into a double play or vice versa, everyone would be wondering why Sveum didn’t call for a bunt.

    • Drew7

      ” If Castro whiffs and LaHair hits into a double play or vice versa, everyone would be wondering why Sveum didn’t call for a bunt.”

       

      I don’t think anyone would be wondering why he didnt have his #3 hitter bunt with two on and nobody out. Sure, it would have been frustrating to not score, but Sveum not calling for a bunt honestly wouldnt have even crossed my mind.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’m fine with the disagreement, but don’t call it a matter of hindsight. Many of us – including me – were freaking out the very second Castro squared around.

      • MaxM1908

        Same here. I was pissed on the first bunt attempt of that AB when Castro popped it up and Yadier “Douchebag” Molina almost caught it at the backstop. I was yelling at the TV when he squared up on pitch #2 with Berkman streaking in from 1st. In my opinion, maybe you use the bunt as a surprise on the first pitch and catch the defense unaware. But, if the bunt attempt fails on the first pitch, you sure as heck don’t square up again so the defense can make adjustments, get the lead runner, and perhaps turn a double play if your batter jogs out of the box. And, is everyone forgetting that he called the SAME PLAY in the ninth with runners on first and second and no outs. Mather was up to the plate. He’s been hitting very well. But, he squared up, Berkman charged, Mather hit a pretty bad bunt to the pitcher who gets the lead runner yet again. If it were not for the awful throw from third that would have been a double play AGAIN. As it was, the error resulted in a run. No run would have scored without that error. It wasn’t a successful play, it was just fortunate for the Cubs.

      • FromFenwayPahk

        Dale’s first mistake was the bunt move. Strike one, Dale.

        Dale’s second mistake was blaming Castro for not implimenting this poorly conceived plan well enough. Strike two, Dale.

        You are behind in the count, pal. Lay off a crappy pitch now. When a reporter asks you, “Why did you make this totally dumb in-game move?” DON’T ANSWER IT.

        Say, “Manager’s decision.” or use some other lame, side-stepping, charmless deflection. But you don’t have to answer reporters.

        Then, tell Castro (and LaHair, and Dempster) in private, in the clubhouse, “I effed up. You and me. We’ll get ‘em next time.”

        The bunt was a bad call, but your your bigger mistake was made AFTER the game.

    • Adam

      You don’t bunt with your #3 hitter, especially a guy who doesn’t normally bunt. It was obvious LaHair would have been walked. Do you really want Soriano up with the bases juiced and 1 out? The odds were against him. He was a career 0-9 against Boggs. Castro was 3-5 against him in his career. I’ll take Castro. It worked out, but Soriano bailed Sveum out.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        I agree entirely. I would amend Earl Weaver’s adage when you are playing against an offense as good as the Cards: “play for one run, score one run; play for 3 runs and you might win the game.” Yes, it worked last night in the end: but it was more luck than skill.

  • MI6

    Terrible in September, but perhaps not so in May as we try to ‘game’ other team’s expectations of Cubs strategy in these situations.

  • JK

    “So Soriano is greedy because he won’t void his contract and give money back to the Cubs?”

    Edwin, perhaps I was unclear in my statement. I would not expect Soriano to give past money back to the organization. My wish, and it is but a wish, would be that Soriano would retire a very wealthy man and have the dignity to forego the future years of torture he causes the Cubs financially.

    And to your point, if I was underperforming as poorly as Soriano is performing (has been performing), I would not continue to drain an organization financially. If Alfonso is starving after making ~ 18 mil a year for a couple of years, I’m not crying in my corn flakes.

    As for the humanity comments, I assure you I am far from perfect. Yet I HAVE given money back when I did not fulfill my end of a bargain. I’ve worked for free when costs have exceeded my estimates. I have foregone future income when I have felt someone could benefit from hiring a more qualified candidate for a certain task. It’s called dignity. And that also is a human trait some of us embody.

  • Jumbo

    Clearly, what he should have done is bring in Shark to bunt.

  • Adam

    brett,

    i’ll be at the cubby bear for lunch and drinks before Friday afternoon’s game against the sox – if you’re still in town i’ll buy you a beer if you want!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Dude, that would awesome, but unfortunately I’ll already be at the airport. Sorry, and thanks!

  • JK

    As for Sveum’s call on the bunt…I think a squeeze bunt with your #3 hitter is more plausible/daring…but a sacrifice bunt by your #3 hitter to move both runners into scoring position (when one is already in scoring position) and leave first base open for your hottest hitter to be walked…doesn’t make much sense.

  • MaxM1908

    I think something has been lost in all this bunt craziness. Can I just say how LaHawesome Bryan’s 2-run dinger was last night? That guy looked incredibly confident at the plate, and that at-bat was no exception. He had a cold stare the entire AB. I believe he was down 1-2 or something in the count on a pretty questionable called strike, but it didn’t phase him. He waited for his pitch, and that swing was beautiful. No question it was gone when it came off the bat. I really appreciate having that guy on the team. If Soriano could heat up his bat too, we’d have a pretty fearsome middle of the lineup.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    This episode does really illustrate is how tactically unsound at least one “fundamental” really is.  People here are a lot better about not overrating sacrifice bunts than they are at most places, but if there are any doubters, remember this case.  You do not give away outs with your good hitters.  As a corollary: if a guy is such a lousy hitter that you are not really giving away and out AND that guy is not throwing pitches in the next half inning, then said batter shouldn’t be in your lineup!  (2nd corollary: I am becoming more and more sold on the idea of the DH…..)

    /rant

  • FromFenwayPahk

    1. Max is right. LaHair looks good and his HR AB was fun. (I was watching from my health club, one of those “no grunt” places, and I nearly got kicked out for hooting my happiness.)

    2. Cubs won; against a very good team. That was cool.

    3. Was Dempster tired? ESPN analysts thought so. Said he was leaving pitches up in the Cards big inning. And that leads me to:

    4. All of those fans of the DH, that Cards strategy of walking a guy to get to “Pitcher” so as to force the pinch hit and the resultant call to the bullpen is a strategy we don’t see in the American League. I found it intriguing.

  • RWakild

    I would sit castro today. He has not run out of the box too many times to let it go unpunished. Sveum made a dumb move by bunting in that situation, but he should play hard and give his all on every play.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      We’re going to get shredded for it, RW, but I think I kind of agree with you.

      • bt

        If Castro wasn’t running out of the box, he should sit. I can’t imagine anyone having a problem with that.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Well, he most definitely wasn’t. It wasn’t a “lazy” thing, but it was definitely a “lack of focus” thing. He was pissed that he’d screwed up the bunt (maybe even pissed that he was asked to bunt – actually, probably more that), and shook his head in frustration, and then started jogging. When he realized what was happening, it was too late. Big mental lapse, and one meriting correction.

    • Cubs Dude

      If I was Theo I would tell Sveum to sit at home for bunting Castro there… But Castro can’t let stupidity effect his effort.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Castro didn’t run out of the box immediately because he was falling backwards when he bunted the ball: he actually fell back to one knee.  By the time Castro regained his balance, Molina was in his way.  Techincally, I think that Castro had the right of way: but my guess is that every animal instinct says Yield to Yadier.

      What’s funny is listening to the Cards announcers.  They absolutely eviscerate Sveum for bunting with his #3 hitter, and one of them says and flatly: “that’s what they deserve.  That’s what they deserve for bunting with their #3 hitter.”

      They are absolutely right about that: this sort of play is why Gene Mauch never won a pennant.  However, they sound pretty stupid immediately afterwards when they then tear into Castro for not getting out the batters box quickly while the replay is showing that he nearly falls over backwards and then gets cut off by their catcher!  If they had been watching the replay, then they would have seen why he didn’t get out of the box quickly….

      (I heard it before I saw it: and Pat Hughes & Keith Moreland called it, btw.  Kudos on those two.)

      • Bails17

        Watch it again Doc…Castro watched the play for at least 4-5 steps before he started running hard. I would sit him today. It needs to change.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Sorry, but that would just be silly.  Again, let’s worry about the fundamentals: and neither of those include bunting with position players or make-believe hustle.

          Seriously, I really thought that having a Theo/Jed team would spell the end of this insipid style of play.  Small ball is loser ball, plain and simple.  You would never have seen this on the Sox….

          • Smitty

            Small ball is loser ball when you have the bats to hit with. Using small ball in that situation yesterday was the absolute WRONG call by Svuem.

            That said, small ball is needed when you don’t have the big bats to get the hits. We don’t have those big bats other than Castro and LaHair.
            YOu sure don’t need it, though when you have two men on, your two best hitters coming up an no outs. Terrible call by Svuem.

            Oh and you never would have seen it with the Sox because they actually have had batters who can hit homers, get on base, work a count, and know situational hitting. THis team lacks in all those areas.

        • FromFenwayPahk

          Was he trying to get in the catcher’s way??

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Eh, I think you’re being mighty generous. He bunted shittily, shook his head in frustration, started trotting, and THEN started running when the light went off that he was about to get doubled-up.

        • SirCub

          It was a little of both. He definitely was slowed getting out of the box by the fact that he was knocked back on one knee trying to get the bunt down. But once he did get out of the box, he didn’t start hustling until he was halfway down the line. “Hustle” however much we make fun of it, is a very real and measurable thing. In this instance, Castro didn’t have it.

          • FromFenwayPahk

            “he didn’t start hustling until he was halfway down the line” Yah, I see this. Funny how the memory works.

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          Yeah, start at the 34 second mark…he took 5-6 steps AFTER clearing the catcher…put his head down, took off.
          http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=21434337&c_id=mlb

  • RWakild

    I see a little of Soriano in Castro. Nothing I hate more than a player who doesn’t hustle every play. This has to be addressed by Sveum immediately before it becomes a habit. He may be one of the Cubs best players but lack of hustle is unforgivable.

  • BRIAN M.

    IF YOU ARE FREAKING OUT OVER SVEUM HAVING CASTRO BUNT,IT IS BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE OLD CUB MENTALITY.
    THE CUBS OF OLD WOULD WAIT AROUND FOR THINGS TO HAPPEN.
    THE NEW WAY OF THINKING IS PUT PRESSURE ON THE OTHER TEAM,VERSUS WAITING AROUND FOR THE THREE RUN HOMER.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Please dump the ALL CAPS.

  • JulioZuleta

    I don’t care if that hit the bat, too close to Starlin’s head. Gotta hit someone in the back next inning.

    • Cubs Dude

      I Agree

      • JulioZuleta

        Frustrating that they didn’t. I know it’s a close game, but you have to protect your 22 year old superstar.

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