Put On Your Cape, Super Joe and Other Bullets

The Little Girl has been sick for the last few days, so she’s been staying with The Wife in our bed (she’s been throwing up a bit, so we want to keep a close eye on her at night), so I’ve been riding the couch. I don’t sleep well on the couch. I am very tired.

  • We are at the dawn of the Joe Mather era. At least that sounds like Dale Sveum’s plan, after starting Mather in center field last night and batting him third. “Right now, for a little while, I’m going to commit to Mather and see what happens,” Sveum said. “Nothing against what [Tony] Campana’s done. He’s done a nice job. But the fact of the matter is we still haven’t scored. We did win a lot of games because of him and all that, but we’re trying to get some quick runs- two-run doubles and stuff like that. And Campana is still a huge weapon off the bench, too.” Mather could also see some time at third base. On his career, Mather, who turns 30 in July, is a .239/.301/.408 hitter. This year, in 66 plate appearances, Mather is hitting .293/.379/.517, which is obviously quite good. Will those numbers drop if he’s playing every day? Absolutely. But if he can keep them reasonably high, there’s no reason not to play him regularly, and see if a team out there might be attracted to an extremely versatile player who’s bat is working well right now. In other words, I’d say “committing to Mather” right now is as much about scoring runs as it is about showing off a guy who might net a low-level, high-upside prospect in July.
  • Sveum offers a folksy spin on the Cubs’ 10-game losing streak: “I’ve been through a 12-game losing streak once in my career and it grinds on you and it gets frustrating, there’s no question about it …. You always say even great teams have a six- to 10-game losing streak in the course of a year. Obviously, we’ve got to get a lot of things fixed — we’ve got to score runs and be better in the bullpen and things like that. You have to win one before you do anything.” What else is he supposed to say, eh? But I don’t know how many “great” teams have 10-game losing streaks. I’d think that’s probably quite rare.
  • Ryan Dempster, who improved his trade stock with yet another dominant start (without a win, though), says he knows what’s looming on the horizon when it comes to a possible trade. “I’m not an idiot. I know how things go,’’ said Dempster, according to the Sun-Times. “I know how it goes with players in contract years and the team not necessarily doing like they’re supposed to be doing, there’s always a possibility of things. There’s a possibility of being traded anytime. But I don’t really think about it. I don’t really worry about it because I can just control doing my job the best I can.’’ Once again, you get a sense from the article that Dempster would not block a trade to a contender if he felt it really helped the Cubs.
  • It was just in one, throwaway line at the end of an article about a number of things, but Paul Sullivan says Steve Clevenger will not return until June. If true, that’s later than we’d recently been led to believe (we’d heard May 28, when the Cubs return from this road trip on Monday). It could only be a difference of a few days, but, given the sorry state of the Cubs’ catching situation, you can understand why a few days make a difference.
  • Carlos Marmol pitched a rehab inning at AAA Iowa yesterday, giving up a walk and a double (no runs), striking out one, and throwing 16 pitches (9 strikes). Not terrible, not great. He could return to the Cubs as soon as Monday or Tuesday if his next AAA appearance on Sunday goes well.
  • The Cubs yesterday signed Diory Hernandez, a 28-year-old journeyman infielder who was most recently in AAA for the Astros. He’s never done much with the bat, and had been brutally bad this year until he was released by the Astros.The minor league signing was likely merely a response to an injury to Blake DeWitt on Thursday while playing for the Iowa Cubs (left thumb injury of yet unknown seriousness), and isn’t anything you should be getting to upset or excited about.
  • The Onion does what it does, lampooning the Wrigley Field renovation fight.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

42 responses to “Put On Your Cape, Super Joe and Other Bullets”

  1. BubblesHargrave

    maybe they’ll make the “Gods must be crazy 4″ devoted to the 2012 Cubs.

  2. Shawn

    I think with that signing the Cubs have broken the record for having the most useless journeyman infielders in one organization…

  3. mark

    “the Cubs have broken the record for having the most useless journeyman infielders in one organization…”

    Could well be. I understand the desire to upgrade the offense and that 2B is a very logical spot (given commitments at other positions already in place), but loading up on guys who don’t have legit prospects doesn’t make that much sense to me.

    Re Mather, it seems clear enough that this isn’t a benching of Campana. It’s simply that everyone in the league now knows what Campana can do. Playing him more at this point won’t change his attraction to team who might want to trade for him. OTOH, the Cubs can’t bench Soriano or DeJesus if they want to have any hope of getting valuable prospects for either/both of them in any future deals. DeJesus has done everything the Cubs could want from him, but with the team as it is he makes no long term sense for them. But they need to convince contenders that DeJesus could be worth a significant price, still. So, given all the above, CF and spot starts at 3B are the only spots to play Mather. And, as Sveum says, why not? At this point he deserves to play as much as anyone else. If one or both of DeJesus/Soriano could be moved–maybe in combo with one or more pitchers–the Cubs could go with Mather at a corner and Tony leading off in CF, or maybe in the 2-hole behind Castro.

    1. mark

      Just to be clear, I’m not advocating trading Campana per se, but he’s a piece on the board with value and if the right offer were made I’m sure the Cubs would consider a deal.

  4. King Jeff

    Clevenger is already playing in Iowa, unless something else is going on, I don’t see why they would wait another week to bring him back. Hill has been poor at the plate as expected, but his defense has been poor and Dempster’s start last night is the only good start the Cubs have gotten with Hill calling the game.

  5. ColoCubFan

    I would personally think that the way to get the most offense on the field would be to put Mather at 3rd and let Campana play center. Ian (Mr. Upside) Stewart ain’t cuttin’ it.

    1. mark

      To this point I think the Cubs have felt a need to justify acquiring Stewart for the amount of money they’re committed to paying him. He’s been a huge defensive upgrade and they’ve wanted to give him every chance to get going at the plate–he has shown some signs, although nowhere near what’s needed. They’ve been increasingly platooning him. The problem isn’t Campana, but rather the chemistry in the guys–including Castro–who are the logical 1-2 hitters (Castro at this point doesn’t make that much sense at the 3-hole). There’s a crowd, right now, so Tony may sit for a while while they try to sort that crowd out as well as try to jump start the offense. My take.

      1. ColoCubFan

        Why not pull a LaRussa and bat Campana 9th? I’m not arguing here, just trying to figure out the best combination of offense and defense to get out of this funk!

  6. Allen

    How about this stat I just thought about. In the last 6 games the cubs have scored a grand total of 2 runs in the first 8 innings of the game. A soriano solo shot and a johnson solo shot. In the last 6 games we have been shut out twice and scored 1 run twice in the games we had the homeruns. In the other 2 games we scored 3 runs and 4 runs in the 9th when the score was 7-0 and 8-0. That means in the last 6 games we havent had a rbi single double or triple in the first 8 innings of the game. Wow

    1. Barbara Berg

      Remember how Len and Bob couldn’t see Johnson’s homerun…fair or foul? I don’t think the 3rd base ump saw it either. I watched the replay frame by frame and the ball clearly disappeared behind (to the left) of the foul pole and reappeared after hooking way left. It’s unbelieveable no starting pitchers have made a few mistakes to be taken advantage of by Cubs.

  7. Journeyman garbage infielder

    I am well liked by the Cubs organization. Glad someone appreciates my terrible services.

  8. ferrets_bueller

    Mather should have gotten a shot well before Campana. You know what you have in Campana- a pinch runner.

    Mather, on the other hand, is a guy who hit well in his minor league career, and looked like he had the potential to be an above average regular at one point, prior to being hurt multiple times, and then never getting a real shot in the majors.

    Chances are, he’s not as good as he has been here. But there is a real, definite chance that he can be the hitter int he majors that he was in the minors.

  9. Deer

    Why not bench Stewart for Mather?

    1. King Jeff

      I’m sure that defense is the main issue, but I do see Mather getting more starts at third going forward if Stewart’s wrist keeps bothering him and his bat doesn’t pick up.

  10. Spencer

    I wonder what its like to be interested in baseball in July. I’ve forgotten.

    1. King Jeff

      What, did you miss the Trade Deadline Blog A Thon last year?

      1. Spencer

        Ah true.

  11. TSB

    Campana’s current OBP is .355, which is better than the life-time OBPs for Vince Coleman, Juan Pierre, and (going way back) Maury Wills. Why do I get the feeling that some fans are hoping that he (and to a lesser extent, laHair) fails?Mather deserves a shot at starting, but it would be better to bench some of the dead wood in the starting line-up rather than someone that is doing their job.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      It is not a question of “hoping” but “expecting.”  You are comparing someone’s OBA from about 100 PAs to the lifetime OBA’s of numerous players who, really, were very over-rated because they stole bases anyway.  (Juan Pierre remains one of my least favorite Cubs ever….)  These are not unrelated statements: in this small sample size, only a few successes or failures makes a huge difference in the averages.   Played out over any length of time, and Campana’s OBA numbers probably will become unspectacular. His speed simply does not make up for it: as we have seen, it simply has not created many runs that would not have otherwise scored.

      The Cubs biggest problem is lack of slugging.  Save for a one week power binge early in the month, the Cubs have been very anemic power-wise, which means that the Cubs pitchers have to be outstanding to avert the Cubs from getting outslugged: and when you get outslugged, you lose 8 times for every victory.

      1. rcleven

        “The Cubs biggest problem is lack of slugging”

        Bingo.

  12. TrueblueCubbie

    I just hope LaHair can get his bat going again soon. He needs to start hitting again so they can throw him in left and figure out something with Soriano. Sori’s bat is gonna get cold again soon.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      “Hot” and “cold” really are not the issues, or at least not the main ones.  Many people here stressed that LaHair’s ridiculous BABiP could not last: indeed, it was surprising that it lasted as long as it did.  Now, he’s getting a taste of what Ian Stewart and Geovani Soto suffered.  And, yes, he’s gone a few games without an extra base hit: but you expect that to happen just by chance with some frequency.  XBH rates are sufficiently low, even for power hitters, that it’s not that difficult to go a few games without one.

      Now, the perpetual Red Queen game might be exacerbating this: but we actually need at least a month’s full data to really show that.

      My guess is that if guys hang a few to LaHair, then LaHair will bang a few in response.  When will that be?  I’ve no idea…..

  13. Cubbie fan lost in Atlanta

    So…. Anthony Rizzo isn’t expected to be called up until june 28th? but if called up then, can finish out season without one full year service time.
    http://www.fantasysp.com/player/mlb/Anthony_Rizzo/2258217/cbscoms-jon-heyman-says-callup-date-for-anthony-rizzo-could

  14. Jzwizard

    So I’m thinking next offseason we sign Cole Hamels, Josh Hamilton, and David Wright……

  15. Jesse

    Bench Stewart put Mather at 3rd and put the other Superman(Campana) in CF.

  16. magilljl

    I can’t help but agree with the sentiments to put Mather at 3rd (I know, defense will lack). Ian Stewart has been a great disappointment… yeah, I know, the wrist. But if its truly bothering him that bad, let him get right, all while giving Mather a shot to sink or swim.

  17. Serious Cubs Fan

    In the spirit of the draft coming up I was curious about the guys we drafted last year. When do you think were going to see some of the really young guys the Cubs drafted last year in at least Peoria or Daytona? Such as the young gunslinger Dillon Maples, or the heavy set slugger Dan Vogelbach, and the supremely talented but immature kid that is Javier Baez? We don’t hear much about them and its been about a year since they’ve been doing or developing. Brett anyway you could do an article giving us a update on how these kids are doing? Or even Jeimer Candelario who not much of anyone know about.

    1. King Jeff

      Baez is rumored to be headed for Peoria. Everyone else from last year will probably be headed to Boise when it’s season starts.

  18. art

    let’s see, Stewart’s wrist, Soriano’s knee, excuses. may as well make one for LaHair. how about his back is bothering him again. I’ll say it again, if someone is hurt, fix him, bench him or trade him. they are not helping anyone or themselves by playing hurt. at this point LaHair is the only one with any value and that would be as a DH. personally i like LaHair over the other two. he’s younger, move power, can play 1B or OF better or as good/bad as Soriano. now what are we BBQ this weekend?

    1. Hansman1982

      You do realize that MLB players play about 75% of the season hurt in some way?

  19. Chef

    I’d be interested to find out if Marmol is actually throwing strikes, or getting swinging strikes out of the zone. Big difference in level of control if he comes back to MLB.

  20. Carew

    Who are the most likely trade destinations for Demp?

  21. Joe

    Wasup!

  22. Joe

    There is no doubt Dempster needs to go. His last contract was ridiculous. He has pitched well lately but recent performance is not indicitive of his performance in crucial situations.