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I’m back on the road (well, the air) this morning, so you may notice my absence for a bit.

  • It’s no secret that Chris Volstad’s time in the Cubs’ rotation is probably over, at least for now. We knew it before manager Dale Sveum started saying things like this: “There is just no life, no command in really any of [Volstad's] pitches. He couldn’t keep the ball down again, he couldn’t keep it in. It was not a real good outing at all for the situation we were in.” Or things like this: “We will get together as a staff and talk to Theo and Jed and evaluate the situation, that’s for sure. We’ll see what our options are and go from there.”
  • Volstad doesn’t have much of an explanation for his struggles, and I continue to feel bad for the guy. “I was a little more relaxed in spring, I think,” Volstad said. “I think I’m trying too hard, trying to do different things. Just a lot of forcing instead of letting my ability take over. I know it’s in there its just a matter of tapping into it and finding it at this point.”
  • Casey Coleman, who is a possibility to replace Volstad in the rotation, is a humble kid, who lists a number of folks at AAA who could take the rotation spot. Note who he almost forgets. “Down there we know just know how everybody is capable of pitching in the big leagues,” Coleman said. “You have Travis Wood who has proven he can start in the big leagues. We have Rodrigo Lopez who has obviously had a great career and Chris Rusin, a younger guy who is dominating. Everybody knows that everybody is capable down there. We’re pushing each other and everybody knows they can pitch here. Everybody is feeding off each other. Also Randy Wells has dominated here with the Cubs.”
  • As for what will actually happen, you have to figure that Travis Wood is the most likely candidate to take the rotation spot, should it open up. Not only did he happen to pitch yesterday, and pitch well in his one big league start this year, he’s been pitching quite well at AAA Iowa. His 4.57 ERA doesn’t look like much, but his FIP is closer to 3, and he’s been quite unlucky with a BABIP that approaches .400. He’s striking out almost a batter an inning and hardly walking anyway. These are all things you like to see.
  • Jeff Samardzija is ready to face the White Sox, and he’s prepping for the matchup the way former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen always did: by trolling the other side. He offered some excellent, sarcastic praiseof the team and Sox broadcasters. “I always liked the [innings] where [Hawk Harrelson] didn’t talk for like an inning and a half. Then all of a sudden he’d be like, ‘The 2-2, two outs …’ It’s like, well, where were the other 15 pitches that happened that inning? That was when [Darrin Jackson] was [on TV] too. I loved watching those guys. They’re entertaining. I always liked his ‘Hose’ call. That was my favorite. They’re fun to watch, fun to listen to. Like I said, you can always get a good nap in during the Sox game.”
  • Bud Selig says he’s working to try and preserve the Cubs/Sox six-game home-and-home when interleague play goes year-round next season. Last we heard, MLB was strongly considering doing away with that setup.
  • Carlos Marmol says he’ll be back soon, once he “figure[s] out how to pitch good again.” Seriously, he actually said that, according to the Tribune.
  • MLBullets at BCB notes how ridiculously good Aroldis Chapman has been in the Reds’ bullpen. Must be nice.
  • fromthemitten

    2nd worst ERA, most losses.. ugh.

    His FIP is 3.92 so you might chalk it up to some bad luck but his strikeout and walk rates are fugly. He needs to go to the minors to get his head right and I think he can still contribute as a #5 starter.

  • TWC

    Hey, Samardzija, I’m beginning to think you’re all right. Carry on, kid, carry on.

  • Carew

    Havin another lefty woodn’t hurt..

  • Bails17

    Any chance Volstad has a few more MPHs in the tank if he comes out of the pen? He is a big dude and he throws so easy…just seems like he should have a few 95s and 96s in that body.

  • Andrew

    I grew up a ND fan so i’ve always been a fan of the Shark, but with comments like that about the Sox he just went up a whole nother’ level in my book!

  • gritsngravy

    Hawk Harrelson is one of the worst announcers out there. Darrin Jackson and Hawk Harrelson were almost as bad a joe buck and tim mccarver. Volstad needs to go down to AAA and find his center or tap into his ability or however he chooses to word learn how to command his pitches. Have a good Friday.

  • Dan

    I think Volstad is out of options so do they just put him in the bullpen? That would mean that casey would get sent down and wood would come up? I was thinking the Cubs would bring up Wells so that they can get him in games so that they could find a trading partner later on? Ugh, so many questions…

  • chode

    what has Bosio done to help any of these struggling pitchers?

    • King Jeff

      You mean like Dolis, who has calmed down and is pitching well? Or maybe Maholm, who has turned it around after a bad start? Or maybe you mean Dempster and Samardzija, who both look like they are pitching on a different level under Bosio? You can’t polish a turd and expect a diamond, and Volstad and the rest of the bullpen are definitely crap.

      • Cedlandrum

        Well I actually am not sure I agree with any of those guys except maybe Dempster. Samardzija actually made the transformation into a pitcher last year. Dolis is pitching like he did last year, although at a higher level. Maholm is pitching like he did last year as well.

        I don’t mind Bosio, but I think too much credit and blame goes to pitching coaches.

  • Fishin Phil

    I know Volstad is only 25, but if I never see him pitch again, that would be alright with me.

  • Zogie

    I have never been a big fan of the sacrifice bunt. I understand in a crucial ball game it can be effective if it is tied in the late innings, but a base for an out just is not enough for me. I would like to see DeJesus and Campana switch at the top of the order. In AAA, Campana was hitting over .300 and he has continued that into the show. He has been getting on base, but has not been able to use his speed to max potential. Sure it is a swell idea to have Campana advance runners with a bunt because he could beat it out, but I would rather see him on first to start an inning instead of DeJesus. Do not get me wrong, I love DeJesus approach at the plate and everything the guy stands for. He is a great lead-off hitter, but would he not also be a great 2 hole hitter? Scenario: Campana gets on first. Name the player that takes a lot of pitches. That would be DeJesus. Let Campana get on any way he can then let him take 2nd with his speed. Then let DeJesus’ hot bat do the rest. Another reason is Castro. Castro does not see a lot of pitches. He is always looking to put the ball in play no matter where it is in the strike zone which does not help Campana. Castro needs to improve his patients at the plate. He swings at a lot of pitches out of the zone especially with runner in scoring position. He is still a good 2 strike hitter, so he should stop hacking and wait for a pitch he can crush. This has just been something I have constantly thought about. Is anyone in disagreement with the Campana/DeJesus swap?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      I would actually prefer to drop Campana to the bottom of the order.  HIs BA is somewhat artificially high: he has been out on numerous bunts that scorers ruled sacrifices when they were attempted hits.  At this point, he’s doing nothing but attempting to bunt: and the league already has caught onto this.  Indeed, what will most halt Campana’s BA drop will be if DeJesus continues to get on base: Campy’s outs will be called sacrifices instead.  (His OBP will not be fooled, as an S is a PA.)

      Also, I think that the speed paradigm is backwards.  Speed (particularly stolen bases) creates more runs when it is front of bad hitters than it does in front of good ones.  Suppose Campana is batting #7.  With Barney and the pitcher coming up, it is most probable that there are going to be 2 outs.  However, if Campana gets on base and steals in front of Barney, then this hugely increases the chance that the 2 upcoming outs will get him home.

      Now, obviously, this a bottom-feeders strategy: the Cubs would do much better to replace Campana and Barney with league-average OPS guys.  But in the absence of that option, they could eke out a handful more runs than they otherwise would.

      • Zogie

        Right now, Campana’s OBP is at .359. DeJesus is at .368. So the SAC has not cost Campana a whole lot. I understand your logic Doc, but if Campana would be sent down the line-up, Barney is another free swinger that does not look at many pitches. Campana would have plenty of chances with DeJesus behind him. Also, the whole bunting thing can be sent out the window. I would rather have Campana steal second then have him bunt DeJesus over. Campana on 2nd with 0 outs or DeJesus on 2nd with 1 out. That 1 out can be the difference between a nothing inning and a rally. Thanks for the added knowledge Doc! “Speed (particularly stolen bases) creates more runs when it is front of bad hitters than it does in front of good ones.” I never would have thought of that.

  • Mike

    I personally would love to see them get rid of the 6 games against the sox each year. 3 is enough, and ultimately they don’t need to play each year, rotate the divisons around, as it would be more intersting then.

    • Can’t think of a cool name

      This is Jerry Reinsdorf; please please please continue the 6 game series. I need to be sure I can sell out at least 3 games every season. Come on Bud, do it for your buddy.

  • hansman1982

    ” so you may notice my absence for a bit.”

    AND THERE WAS MUCH REJOICING!!!!

    Seriously, I don’t doubt that Volstad is trying to do too much, his outings have gotten progressively worse. Stick him on the 15 day DL, let him go to Arizona to clear the noggin and work from there.

    • King Jeff

      He can go hang out with Marmol, until they both “learn to pitch good again”.

  • chode

    jeff, the guys you mentioned aren’t in much need of instruction. It just seemed that Volstad desperately needed his mechanics tweaked with, and Marmol needed confidence. I agree with you though trying to fix our bullpen would be like trying to pick up a turd from the clean end. Volstad has always sucked! Maholm has a tremendous upside, I also believe Traviss Wood had a glimmer when he first arrived in the show, and could mentored into a decent 3 or 4 rotation guy.

    • King Jeff

      They are all guys who had been struggling before working with Bosio, and I thought that was the point. Maholm was awful in his first couple of starts, Dolis was wild as hell. Dempster looks like a new man out there this year, and Shark has taken a huge leap to where it’s not that big of a stretch to say he’s a future front end of the rotation starter. Quade and Riggans wouldn’t even entertain the idea of starting Shark, and Dempster was wildly inconsistent last year. While I can’t put any credit to Bosio as fact, I don’t think that we can say that Bosio had nothing to do with this. The rest of that pen is just awful. Castillo is clearly not ready, Bowden is just awful, Marmol is Marmol and is always going to be that way, and Kerry Wood has pitched his arm off again and is retiring. Volstad needs help, that’s for sure. Bosio has tried to help him, but it seems that Volstad is just getting crossed up trying different things. I just don’t think it’s fair to blame Bosio for the struggles, because some of his guys are pitching lights out, and the ones who aren’t have other reasons for not pitching that well.

  • al

    Is Kerry Wood retiring?

  • Dick

    Chris Rusin is the best starting pitcher in Iowa, but they will plug Travis Wood into Volstad’s spot.

    By the way, every time somebody mentions FIP, it makes me puke. It is the dumbest “statistic” ever invented. If a pitcher gave up a .500 batting average, but didn’t give up home runs, he would have a good FIP but be a crap pitcher.

    • Drew7

      “It is the dumbest “statistic” ever invented. If a pitcher gave up a .500 batting average, but didn’t give up home runs, he would have a good FIP but be a crap pitcher.”

      I disagree. The way I see it, since most singles are a product of luck (not all, mind you) and the range of your infielders, a high BAA doesnt necessarily indicate a “crap” pitcher. It’s not perfect, but a pitcher should be measured on a statistic that takes into account only the outcomes he can control; while FIP doesnt necessarily tell the whole story, it is certainly a useful tool. I think SEIRA takes a much more detailed look at a pitcher’s performance, and is more useful in evaluating performance.

      I’m curious, what statistic(s) do you feel are most useful?

  • Wrigley11

    Off topic, and I always tread lightly when it comes to things like this, but Harry Teinowitz (the “Harry” of the Carmen, Jurko, Harry Show on ESPN 1000) was vaguely hinting at some “big news” the Cubs are set to announce, possibly as soon as today. I have zero clue what he was referring to, my initial guess was something RE: the renovation, but it could mean anything. Keep in mind I have no idea if he is well informed on the Cubs, but something to keep your eyes on today. Just thought I’d share

    • Jumbo

      Probably Kerry’s retirement.

    • Wrigley11

      There ya go. Kerry Wood will retire today

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Cynical thought: some announcement they’ve had in their back pocket for a while, and are now taking the opportunity to deflect attention from the Joe Ricketts flap.

      • King Jeff

        Positive thought: Kerry and the Cubs realize how big of a weekend this is in Chicago, and were holding off to announce it until now for that reason.

  • The Dude Abides

    Playing under 400 ball tracking for close to 100 losses and Volstad, Wood and Wells have crashed. Samardzija, Garza and Dempster looking good. Time seems about right to trade Dempster and/or Garza. Maybe someone will be up to taking Soto as well maybe Washington. Question is when we trade these guys will be pay their salary like we do in most of our trades and will we get an actual contributing player? I know we are focused on the future and we need to give Theo time, but for now head to the ballpark and watch a team very similar in win loss record as previous years but some how different so we are told. Younger, most of the guys are getting their second chance or first chance and maybe not as young as you may want to believe just unknown.

    • Tim

      As Brett has previously said, I do not think Washington would be willing to take Soto unless they would give him the back up catchers job next year, but i dont think they would do this becuase he would be a very expensive back up catcher. They wouldnt be interested in Soto becuase I believe Soto is under team control until 2014, but the nats only need a 1 year replacement until ramos comes back next year from his injury.

  • Andrew

    Love Samardzija. He said what every Cubs fan says when they see a Sox game on TV. These are the kinds of things that make me think Shark can be the face of this team along with Garza.

  • Doug Dascenzo

    He’s one of those guys that could be coasting along then hits that one bad inning. Maybe it’s time to convert him to a reliever.

  • calicubsfan007

    Please Marmol, take your time. We need to make sure that you “get good” again. I understand English isn’t his first language, but come on. That just makes him look unsmart (=.

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