I’m headed to Chicago this morning (I’m there until Friday afternoon), so my usual travelling caveat applies: you should see normal posting, but I might not be around as much in the comments or on the Message Board. Behave. If anyone is going to tonight’s or tomorrow night’s game against the Phillies, I’ll be in the right field bleachers. Before tonight’s game, the Cubs are having a “Social Media Night” even at the Captain Morgan Club next to Wrigley, so I reckon I’ll be there starting at around 5, 5:15. Stop by.

  • Carlos Marmol is receiving treatment for his strained hammy in Chicago, but isn’t expected to be healthy again for another 10 to 14 days. “He’s getting his treatment every day, and we’ll see what happens,” Sveum said before adding that Marmol will get a couple minor league innings before returning. Injuries are rarely a good thing, but they aren’t alway 100% bad. Getting Marmol some head-clearing time, and then minor league time, could really help him get his psyche in a better place. Maybe that will improve his performance.
  • Dale Sveum was asked again yesterday about his decision the day before to have Starlin Castro bunt with no outs in the 8th inning of a tie game, in order to move over runners on first and second (despite knowing that “success” would lead to an intentional walk of Bryan LaHair), and he got a little more gruff this time. “You’re not going to ask certain people [to bunt] if they’re not capable of doing things,” he said, according to the Tribune. “But he’s capable. He runs good, so if it is a really good bunt he can beat it out. You can go on and on about the goods and the bads of all of these things. The bottom line is I’m the one that makes the decisions. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t.” That’s probably the best response, all things consider. Don’t try to blame Castro for poor execution, don’t admit it was a mistake (even if it was). Just say it was your decision, and that’s that.
  • But Sveum went on talk about the sabermetrics of bunting in that situation. Shrug: “You wanna talk about [sabermetrics], then OK. Then you talk about the team that has more people on base during the course of the game is going to win way more games than the other teams. You want to keep intentionally walking guys and all that? Then the odds gradually come [the opposing team’s] favor to win the game. If [the opposing team’s] third, fourth and fifth hitters get up five times in a game, you’ve got a chance of losing that game at an alarming rate.” Dale is right that intentional walks are frequently a bad idea, but when you have to give up an out to get that intentional walk (and the guy giving up the out and the guy getting walked are your two best hitters), I just don’t think the math works out. In any event, it was a terrible decision, but we’re moving on.
  • White Sox manager Robin Ventura says managing in the AL is much more difficult because, in the NL, you already know when you have to use your bench (i.e., when the pitcher’s spot comes up). We’re used to Ozzie Guillen trolling us before the Cubs/Sox series, but this is probably as outrageous as Ventura is going to get.
  • Bryan LaHair confesses that it would be pretty cool to be an All-Star. So, maybe you help him out there.
  • Noah at VFTB interviewed Anthony Rizzo. It’s an audio file, if you’d like to give it a listen.
  • MLBullets at BCB looks at Matt Kemp’s “Iron Man” streak coming to an end.
  • al

    Can Kerry Wood go on the 120 day disabled list?

  • MichiganGoat

    Papa Bear is leaving the house – PARTY!

    • hcs

      I was hoping for a pillow fight, but if you want a kegger, that’s fine too.

  • wax_eagle

    If the execution of the bunt play is successful and they walk LaHair the run expectancy matrix says the Cubs are in a better place (1.556 runs vs 1.631 runs). Also 1&2nd with no outs has a lower probability of scoring a single run than 2nd&3rd with 1 out (or loaded and 1 out). (both from http://www.tangotiger.net/re24.html) Obviously both of these depend on a successful bunt play.

    This isn’t to say that it was the right decision to bunt Castro there, but it does say there is some sabrmetric backing to making the decisions Sveum did.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Good stuff. As I said, the math falls apart when the two guys out of whose hands you’re taking the bat are your two clear best hitters.

      And that’s to say nothing of the fact that that margin is razor thin, and the chance that the bunt is unsuccessful probably swings the math in the other direction anyway.

      • Mike Foster

        Brett, I thought you were “moving on”?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          You’re right. I shouldn’t respond to on-point comments on posts…

      • Kyle

        The chance that the bunt is unsuccessful is counterbalanced partially, fully, or maybe even more than fully by the chance that the bunt ends with the batter reaching base.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I doubt it’s counterbalanced fully – not only is the lead runner being thrown out a possibility, but a double play (as we saw) is also possible. He can only reach base once. My guess is that on an obvious sacrifice like that, the batter reaches less frequently than the combined chance (1) the runner is thrown out at third PLUS (2) a double play.

    • whiteflag

      Totally, agree. The decision to bunt Castro, was not as terrible as everyone thinks. In a tie ball game, you bunt the guys over with one out in the inning and sac fly can drive in the one run you need. Castro didn’t get the job done, and the team as a whole, has a lot to work on when it comes to bunting.

      As you pointed out above. I’m not saying it was the right decision, but it definitely wasn’t idiotic.

      • bt

        In a game where every player is the same, yes you bunt them over. In a game where the player at bat is your #3 hitter, you don’t bunt. Why is this so difficult to understand? Bunting with no one out and men on 1st and 2nd is perfectly sane. Having Starlin Castro bunt while playing with the 2012 Cubs with their lineup as currently constituted is insane. Context matters.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        I think that bt understates the issue.  There is one and only one situation in which a position player should lay down a sacrifice bunt: when the runner advanced will score the game-ending run, and the next 2 or 3 hitters all are very good (or better).

        I’ll put it another way.  Gene Mauch would have thought that this move wasn’t idiotic;  Earl Weaver would have thought that it was.

        • whiteflag

          Tony LaRussa has asked Pujols to lay down a bunt in that same situation. He did it successfully and no one judged him. So to go crazy about Sveum’s call, I personally find a bit nuts. Like it or not LaRussa was one of the smartest managers in the game, and Pujols is also one of the best hitters in the the game. If he can be asked to lay down a bunt, so can Castro. And to reiterate, I’m not saying its the call I would have made. However, I don’t think it was dumb.

          • Drew7

            Pujols has 1 sac bunt attempt in his entire career, and that came in his June of 2001 (his 2nd full month in the big leagues) and he was not established as one of the best hitters in the game yet.

            I’m not trying to be a jerk. I really want to find a good reason for him to call for a bunt there, but I honestly can’t.

            • whiteflag

              I was thinking it was later in his career. Maybe it wasn’t, and I am sorry about that. But my point is that ,I think it has been given too much press. In my opinion, it was a decision that could go either way. You get the runner in and trust your bullpen (which is not good), but as a manager you have to trust guys to get their jobs done. It’s probably not the decision I would have made, but I think it was a viable option. I guess, I trust that Sveum has more baseball intelligence than I do. As I am sure, most of the people on the this site do as well. I’m no baseball genius, and I am still learning the ins and outs. But, I still believe it wasn’t the worst move in the world and he had viable reasons for doing it.

              • Drew7

                I understand what you’re saying, and there’s no need for an apology. Something you said in last post sums up my view on it pretty well:

                ” …but as a manager you have to trust guys to get their jobs done.”

                You are 100% correct, and I think this is why Starlin was visably upset; By ordering Castro to lay down a sac bunt, Sveum basically told him he didnt trust him to get the job done.

                S/N: If you are still learning the ins and outs of baseball, prepare to be pulled in both directions by the two major schools of thought regarding offense.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            To further on Drew7’s point, LaRussa was much more an acolyte of Weaver than of Mauch.  On the rare occasion that he did have a middle-of-the-order guy lay down a bunt, it was in the bottom of the 9th (or 10th, 11th, etc.).  Other wise, LaRussa’s goal was have the guy try to get on base and score himself.

            Here is a simple rule of thumb: bad managers talk about the 9 ways to score a guy from 3rd; good managers talk about general tactics for scoring the batter.

          • Spencer

            I wonder how many times Ron Washington will ask Josh Hamilton to bunt this season.

  • HoustonTransplant

    I’ll totally vote for LaHair to be an all star! He most definitely has been an all star on THIS team. Him, Demp, and Shark have been outstanding this year and at least one or two of them deserve to go.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com ichabod

    4 of our starters have been excellent. i couldn’t have asked for a better start from them, outside of volstad. 4 out of 5 we have a chance to win. all-stars or not, i like our chances when they throw. and then theres a long long long story about our relievers, they stink. lahair gets my vote along with castro.

  • mjhurdle

    Just threw my 25 votes to LaHair.

    One question for someone out there that might know the process better than I:

    Marlon Byrd is listed on the NL AS choices for OF. Now I am fully aware that Byrd will not be an AllStar this year, but what if, for some strange reason, he would have gotten in the top 3 vote getters for NL OFers? Would he be allowed to start for the NL, even though he is now on an AL team? Does it depend on which league you start the year, or what league you currently play in?

    Just thought I would ask when I saw his name in the choices.

    • art

      i believe that happened recently, and the player was allowed to go to the AS game in his new league. as i recall, the guy was having a very good year and was traded close to the AS game. Byrd was not having a good year so doubt he’ll make any AS team.

    • Dick McCheesedoodle

      From Carlos Beltran’s Wikipedia page comes the answer…

      “While still a Royal, Beltrán had been selected to the American League starting outfield for the 2004 All-Star Game. After the trade to the National League, he was initially denied a place in the game. However, after NL starter Ken Griffey, Jr. went on the disabled list, Beltrán was named his substitute. Beltrán became the first player ever to be selected for one All-Star team but play for the other.”

    • LWeb23

      Few years ago when Beltran moved from KC to Houston shortly before the ASG, he ended up on the NL squad.

    • mjhurdle

      Interesting. I remember Beltran now that he is mentioned. But what if Griffey had not been injured?

    • Spencer

      Just so everyone knows, you can vote 25 times per day this year!

  • Kevin

    Sori must go!

  • Kevin

    Sunk costs……. Let’s move on. Good reason for no long term contracts.

  • Kevin

    Pay market value at the top end with club options going forward, no more crazy contracts. I can’t speak for everyone but the cost of going to a ball game is way out of control. We are in a deep recession and teams are still dishing out money like its nothing. Sori’s contract is bad but look at Albert’s in LA. At what point do people decide enough is enough.

    • Cubbie Blues

      Not to be a realist but this is not a recession. A recession is two down consecutive quarters of GDP in a row. It is bad but not a true recession.

  • BluBlud

    I gave LaHair my votes yesterday. I hope he makes it.

  • Kevin

    I certainly hope Theo’s purse strings are tighter than Hendry’s.

  • Mrp

    Oh Ventura, you so funny. Where is Nolan Ryan when you need him?

    • Smitty

      That is a sign waiting to happen.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    “Then you talk about the team that has more people on base during the course of the game is going to win way more games than the other teams.”

    As of Monday, the team that reached base most often in a game is 396-96, which projects to 130-32 over a season for any one team.  That’s why Earl Weaver and (really, other) sabermetricians hates sacrifice bunts!

    Of course, I suppose that the 32 loses would be proof that OBP is overrated….. :-)

    • hansman1982

      the sac bunt would have been offset by a guaranteed runner on first with the IBB to LaHair, provided Castro got it down. Granted he could have done as Dale said he should have done – pulled the bat back and slapped the ball past a charging corner infielder.

      Howveer, it is just as likely that Castro hits a grounder to an infielder for a double play as he hit the bunt for a gidp.

      I don’t agree with the call but I can see Dale’s logic on this one.

      • Cubbie Blues

        I just like the fact that everyone agrees there was “some” logic behind it at all (wheather you agree with it or not). Last year Quade was throwing darts and hoping something stuck (which it usually did unfortunately it was most of the time it was a green poopy baby diaper).

  • JulioZuleta

    Managing in the AL consists of filling out a lineup card and then taking a nap. That’s an absurd statement by Ventura.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      You clearly never have been to an AL game, then.  You can take a short coma: a long one if it’s the Sox vs. the Yanks!

      Still, Ventura’s comment almost sounds like a rich person complaining that poor people have it easier because they always have to manage their money…….

  • art

    don’t the cub pitchers/catchers go through pre-game pitches? you know like what to throw at certain times to certain hitters, etc. who calls the pitches? catcher, pitcher, or Dale? he seems to blames the pitcher for not using certain pitches when they lose.

  • Curt

    I heard Phil Rodgers on the score this morning , I really hope he doesn’t believe his own b.s. he was discussing both a trade to cubs or sox of Kevin youklous of the red sox , now I could care less if he would go to the sox but why on earth would the cubs want an aging often injured very expensive player, Phil Rodgers is just getting paid for spouting rumors and assorted bs

    • FromFenwayPahk

      If Youklis was a hardhitting outfielder with good clubhouse makeup, and the sending team ate most of his salary, then it would make sense…
      Too soon?

  • DocPeterWimsey

    I wouldn’t say that Youk’s clubhouse makeup is “bad” per se: he just really, really, REALLY hates not getting a hit or walk every PA……

    (I once saw him trash a water cooler after grounding to 2nd with no outs and a man on second!)

    • Drew7

      “I once saw him trash a water cooler after grounding to 2nd with no outs and a man on second!”

      You mean…he was mad about moving the runner over “the right way”? He should be getting slaps on the back for being unselfish by not trying to hit one in the gap! Moreland would have kissed him for it.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Sure, go ahead and kiss him in that case: but wait for the rhino tranq to kick in first……

        Seriously, in Youk’s case, I don’t think that he even remember’s the situation when he gets a fat pitch to hit and then mishits it.  He just goes into RAGE mode: you know, white-out iris, green skin, “HULK SMASH!!!” type of rage.  You can spin it either way: he’s only concerned about his numbers or he hates failing.  The water cooler is just as broken!

        • Drew7

          I was hoping you’d sense the tremendous amount of sarcasm

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Yeah, Zonk still likes that style of play, but remember that it was all the rage in the 1980’s.  (So was the mullet.)

            However, on other things, I really like the way that Zonk calls the game.  He was politely but firmly critical of Sveum bunting with Castro.  Zonk also stresses the need for extra base hits, how “driving” the ball isn’t the same as swinging for a homer, the importance of creating scoring opportunities (as opposed to taking advantage of a scant few), and how important it is to continue to build leads.

            I always liked Zonk as a player, but this is the first opportunity that most of us have had to listen to him talk baseball.  I find Moreland to be quite thoughtful and informative when he’s talking.

    • FromFenwayPahk

      I loved it once when Youk and Manny got into in the dugout after an bad at bat. It reminded me of the movie “THe Dirty Dozen” when the dozen start pounding on each other at dinner. A gaurd tries to stop it and Lee Marvin lets them go at it. He says “the boys are just sorting out seating arrangments.” Sometimes they have to sort stuff out.

      I wasn’t trying to impune Youk’s clubhouse presence (although it may be not be his strong suit). I was (ham-handedly) trying to say thanks for Byrd.

  • JungleDrew

    I think the real problem with the bunt attempt was how Castro took the bunt… I mean he dropped to one knee, how are you going to beat out the throw to first from your knees. And he could see Berkman charging in from first, just like Sveum said, when you see that you take a slap at the ball and hope for it getting past…

    Sveum was hired because of his mix of baseball strategies… the use of conventional baseball wisdom and the reliance on sabermetrics… both of these methods are going to work and fail at times, so I really don’t think the blame can fall to Sveum as hard as it has. He’s doing his job and making the calls he thinks are right. I just hope those start resulting in more wins, and fewer almosts…

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The problem began before that.  Never mind that tactics: Castro gave away the sacrifice way too early.  The pitcher did what he should have done: he pretty much threw the pitch at Castro.  Had Castro not caught the ball on his bat, the pitch might well have hit him.  That’s why Castro fell back on one knee (pure animal instinct of self-preservation, I’m sure).


    • whiteflag

      Good point. It wasn’t a cut and dry decision, and there are disadvantages to both. Sveum went with what he thought would be best, and it didn’t go as planned.

  • Drew7

    I really should give him more of an opportunity. It just seems like every time I turn the game on he is praising situational hitting. Then again, I’ve only listened to a hand-full of games on the radio.

  • Kevin

    Umpire Bill Miller Has Bad Night, Gets Hit First By Brett Lawrie’s Helmet And Then A Blue Jays Fan’s Beer……….. good reason to use K-Zone to call balls and strikes.

    • Brady

      or that umpire could get his eyes checked. I umpire for the youth in my area and I still like having a person instead of a machine do the calls. Some calls are just plain atrocious but you take some and you lose some. That umpire missed the calls badly and so people got mad, next time he will learn to make the right call.