The Cubs will try to start a winning streak today, as Jeff Samardzija takes the mound on his own bobble-head day. The Cubs’ bats will try to stay alive, even if they don’t have the same extreme-wind-related support.

Bryan LaHair sits again against a lefty, so it seems like he’s kind of a platoon guy now. The Cubs might be trying to protect his numbers, so to speak.

Also, the folks – about whom I reckon you’ve heard by now – who have been walking with a goat across the country (to “crack the curse,” but also to raise money for charity) have arrived at Wrigley Field. I guess it was unrealistic to try and delay the arrival until 2014 or 2015, when the curse might actually be broken.

Game Info

San Diego Padres (17-33) at Chicago Cubs (16-32), 1:20pm CT on CSN.

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. You should participate in the madness. And, of course, for those who aren’t into message board-style game threads, please feel free to use the comments on this post for your in-game commentary/outbursts.

The Series Preview for this series lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Eric Stults (1-0, 1.54 ERA, 1.029 WHIP)


Jeff Samardzija (4-3, 3.00 ERA, 1.175 WHIP)

San Diego Padres Lineup

1. Will Venable, CF

2. Chris Denorfia, RF

3. Yonder Alonso, 1B

4. Carlos Quentin, LF

5. Chase Headley, 3B

6. John Baker, C

7. Everth Cabrerra, SS

8. Alexi Amarista, 2B

9. Eric Stults, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. David DeJesus, RF

2. Starlin Castro, SS

3. Joe Mather, 3B

4. Alfonso Soriano, LF

5. Jeff Baker, 1B

6. Reed Johnson, CF

7. Darwin Barney, 2B

8. Koyie Hill, C

9. Jeff Samardzija, P

  • bob

    Is it about protecting LaHair’s numbers, or trying to bring Baker’s numbers up to a tradeable level? I think LaHair has more long-term value to the team, and Baker would have more short-term value to a contender due to his versatility.

    • Cubs Dude

      IMO protecting LaHair’s #’s

    • Brett

      Very fair – and probably a case of both being a part of the story.

    • Cheryl

      LaHair will not have long term value for the cubs if he’s relegated to a platoon. His position now seems untenable. Soriano is for all intents and purposes the LF. Rizzo will be brought up within a few weeks. LaHair will be the odd man out..

  • Cerambam

    I just got a shark bobble head! Score!! Any BN’ers here/wanna meet

    • Brett

      Damn! Nice. You’ll have to snap pics for us.

  • Patrick

    I know the Cubs are not set on winning this year and whatnot, but that lineup is god awful. Guess I’m just gonna have to get used to it.

    • beerhelps

      I was thinking the same thing, about the lineup being god awful.. Then again, I think that every time i see the lineup.

  • Edwin

    I hope they don’t let the Goat in. It’s a goat. Livestock do not belong at baseball games. They were right to not let the goat in last time. I mean, who seriously thinks that it is ok to let a goat into a ballgame?

    Seriously, the goat curse and Bartman shit is the absolute worst thing about being a Cubs fan. I hate any and all atempts/events to break imaginery curses. This charity event is just as stupid as the Bartman ball event. I’m fine with the Charity part, but the goat part sucks.

    • Cubbie Blues

      I hope they don’t let the Goat in. It’s a goat. Livestock do not belong at baseball games.

      That’s why we keep ours in Michigan.

    • Polar Bear

      I am inclined to agree with you about the curse stuff being absolutely ridiculous. Anyone who truly believes and feeds into that crap should be slapped with a goat dressed like a black cat wearing Bartman’s headphones. That being said, any gimmick that they can use to make people stand up and support their efforts towards cancer research is fine with me. As a person who lost a family member to cancer and have had several others go through treatment for it, I applaud their efforts. Lets not bash them for using the goat , but instead they found a way to garner some national attention and were able to turn that into donations to support their cause. I say, “Well done!!!”

  • Chris

    I have a question for someone who knows about this stuff. I wa wondering why Brett jackson is such a high prospect. He has medium power 20 hr and average speed 15 sb. And well below average ability to make contact. His minnor league ba usually sits around 275 to 280. Is it just me or in the majors would that be like a 250 hitter with 10 hr and 10 sb.

    • Edwin

      First off, most reasonable fans project Jackson to be a good but not great Major League player. He should be above average, but he’s not going to be a “Franchise” player by any means.

      Scouts like Jackosn because he plays good defense at a premium position, he has above average power, above average on base skills, and above average baserunning. Scouts don’t like Jackson because he has below average contact skills. When you put it all together, he is a player that does a number of things well, and a couple things poorly.

    • Edwin

      Just guessing, I think he would be similar to Austin Jackson. Not great, but not bad either. Jackson will be a good everyday starter at a very small price.

    • Drew7

      Im hoping for .260/.360/.450 from Jackson. I really wish he didn’t K as much, but I’d rather have the current jackson than one that K’s 30% less but sacrifices BB’s and power to do it.

      • Cubs Dude

        I would take that line. If he’s getting on base at .360 line the k’s don’t bother me as much. But when a player get on base at below .300 like a certain left fielder then the k’s become very irritating.

        • Drew7

          “If he’s getting on base at .360 line the k’s don’t bother me as much.”

          – I agree, and I think thats the key to his success, which is why I’d hate to see him change his approach to lower his K-rate.

          This is also why I’ll never understand why many people dismiss the idea of Jackson leading off, while at the same time lobbying for guys like Castro or Campana to do so. If Jackson can put up the kind of line I project above, why wouldnt you want him leading off?

          • Cubs Dude

            Yeah, I see him as a leadoff guy for sure if he can maintain that obp. I think the key is keeping the avg to around .260 and he’ll be fine.

        • Norm

          Well, 260/360/450 would be great, but if that’s what you guys are expecting next season, good luck with that. I’m thinking this is more his peak that his first few seasons.

          • Drew7

            I wouldnt expect it right out of the gate, but I actually think his ceiling is a bit higher.

  • Puma0821

    I believe most experts project him as a 20/20 at least with all 5 tools being above average and a good isoD (as Brett calls it).

    • Myles

      He’s got 4 of the 5 tools, but his contact bat is average at best. What’s exciting about him, though, is that he takes more than his share of walks and profiles as a good defensive centerfielder and could be a spectacular defensive corner fielder (he has the arm for it and more than enough speed, as well as a good baseball sense).

      “Fun” fact:
      Adam Dunn’s minor league K%: 18.2%
      Adam Dunn’s major league K%: 27.8%
      Brett Jackson’s minor league K%: 24.8%

      • Cubs Dude

        That’s not very fun, unless you’re into Jackson having a k rate thru the roof in the majors. I think of Jackson as a Drew Stubbs type player, lots of K’s, flashes of greatness, homers, good outfield play, long streaks of tons of k’s, and stolen bases.

      • Brett

        Careful now – I’m not sure we couldn’t find 100 examples of guys whose K rates stayed pretty level from the minors to the bigs. Examples are just that: examples.

        • AB

          Dunn’s K-rate at AAA was about 25%

    • DocPeterWimsey

      “with all 5 tools being above average”

      There are more than 5 tools….

      • Cubs Dude

        How do you project BJax Doc?

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Mark Reynolds.  The “hits for average” tool is actually not a tool, but a product of at least two (and maybe three) tools: pitch identification, contact and (probably) power.  His stats strongly suggest that BJax has pitch ID (as his high number of walks show) and power (as his good slugging shows), but poor contact skills (as his high K rate shows).

          • Cubs Dude

            Hmmm, Reynolds had some fun seasons in Arizona but seems to have regressed big time recently. I hope Jax becomes a much better player than that, but think it’s a fair comparison.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              well, we’ll be looking at a Three True Outcome guy: if the opposing shortstop needs to take a sunflower seed break, then I’ll recommend BJax’s PAs!

              Supposedly BJax is a pretty good CFer with a decent arm.  If so, then he’ll be a defensive upgrade as well as a power upgrade over Campana, who gets lousy reads on the ball and has my grandmother’s arm.  (She’s been dead for 20 years: otherwise, her arm would be better than Campana’s…..)

              • Cubs Dude

                Ha.. I hear ya. Lets hope he brings much more to the table in other areas than Reynold, because I don’t see any 40 homer seasons in his future.

              • Noah

                One of the issues with Reynolds is that he’s a miserable fielder. But the offensive comparison is a pretty good one. I think you could also call Jackson a poor man’s left handed Drew Stubbs.

          • Drew7

            I really hope you’re wrong there, simply because I don’t think Jackson will develope that type of power.

            On the other hand, with Jackson saving several more runs with his glove than Reynolds, he would still be a good player to have.

  • Bails17

    Stoltz (the Padres starter for today) is a home town guy here in Indiana. He works out at my indoor facility in the winter. So…hoping for a strong start from him with their bullpen coughing it up in the late innings! Go Cubs!!!

    • cjdubbya

      Hey, that’s pretty cool. Just did some research – the kid (well, definitely not a kid!) was born the same year as me, he went to a high school in the same conference as my high school (Northern Lakes Conference) – may very well have seen him play for the Rockies back in the day.

      • Bails17

        Yeah…Bethel College guy. What school in the NLC?

  • Randy

    Look at our line-up today and see how many could hit 20 homeruns and steal 20 bases? A whole line up of slightly above average players could win a lot of games especially if we continue to build up our pitching staff.

  • Myles

    Is it just me, or is Starlin Castro looking like an improved shortstop this year? His E% is down slightly this year (from 5% to 3.96% to 3.8% this year), and his range has improved too. You can say that Maholm is driving his RF with more groundballs, but the Cubs GB% isn’t appreciably higher this year (31% from 30%).

    This is the first year his F20% is at the league average (the mark is around 89%). That means that not only is he getting to balls at a higher rate than ever, he’s REALLY cut down on the percentage of balls that’s he’s not getting outs at. While his error rate is only slightly improved, a good portion of that is due to the fact that he’s throwing more balls than normal (as opposed to getting to balls but not throwing them for one reason or another). His dWar this year is a berserk 1.3, which probably tells you more about that stat than Castro’s defense, but for what it’s worth, it’s the highest mark in all of baseball.

    I think Castro’s defense is still a work in progress, but I think it’s safe to say that he’s taken a step from well below average (though I’ll argue he was never horrible) average. That might be charitable, and there is still plenty of season left (and 203 fielding attempts, while not statistically INsignificant, cries out for at least a little more data), but it’s not as charitable as you probably think.

    • Brett

      It’s not just you. It’s an underreported story, and I apologize for my part – I’ve been distracted by what I perceive to be serious regression on the offensive side. You’re quite right – he looks better on defense, and the data backs it up.

      • Myles

        Don’t want to go all Optimist’s Club on you, but, well, I am.

        Castro has shown some problems, for sure, most notably a videogame 8.5 SO/BB ratio (K% 16.4, BB% 1.9%). However, he’s actually improved a little in some peripherals: his ISO is creeping just a tad (.132 from .125), his LD% is a touch higher, and his HR/FB is climbing again (3.8% to 4.8%). His power is developing more or less like we hoped it would.

        No doubt, he need to take a ton more walks, and his P/PA has absolutely dived (from 3.67 to 3.34). That’s the #1 worst indicator you can have for plate discipline, especially with a guy who has above average contact skills (and Castro has always been able to put a bat on the ball). That’s mainly driven by the fact that he swings at the first pitch 36% of the time (league average: 26%), swings in general more often than normal (53%, league average 45%, last year’s mark 49%), and with those swings, less contact (80% from 83% last year). That seems like a coaching problem as much as a personal problem (at 22, he has plenty to learn about the game), but at least the physical skills are developing.

        • Tim

          i think starlin castro is a completely different player in the 2 hole. to me he seems way more comfortable to not be the guy who has the 3 hole on his shoulders, if that makes sense

          • Joe

            Yes. Remember he’s 23.

    • Jeremy

      I agree, not to mention the fact that currently both Castro (1.3) and Darwin Barney (1.2) are #1 and #2 in the National League in defensive WAR.

  • Christian

    What the hell is this lineup. Is it an attempt to start another losing streak? La Hair is coming out of a slump and you seat him? I know it is because he hits left but its not like wasn’t hitting lefties at the begining of the season.

    • Campana

      Hate to say it, but looks like another one of those games where Cubs lose 2-0 or something like that.

  • Cubs Dude

    I love watching Shark pitch now. So dominant at times.. Personally, I like him a lot more than Garza at this point, even though it is a much smaller sample size.

    • Joe

      I really like both, although Garza has hit a couple potholes and needs an alignment.

  • Chad

    Joe Mather batting 3rd needs to end. Whats next, we bring up Blake Dewitt to bat 4th? I like super Joe and all, but he is not our best option for #3. Why isn’t Lahair batting 3rd when he is in the order (and he should be playing everyday – no more of this sitting against lefties bs). S/B – DeJesus, Castro, Lahair, Sori, Mather 1-5.

  • Leo L

    trying to give joe best chance to succeed so they can get rid of him. make sense? doesnt intuitively but to get rid of someone need to sell high. make him look good by giving him a spot that would give him a chance to look good so we can trade him

    • Brett

      Not sure that’s the best position for him to succeed, though. Spot starts against lefties was doing him just fine.

      • Chad

        I obviously concur. What has Mather done batting 3rd……not jack if I remember correctly. He has laid down a nice sacrifice bunt or two – not excactly what you want your #3 hitter doing. He should probably just be starting against lefites (Campana against righties), and he should not be batting 3rd during his starts.

        • Leo L

          well, need to advertise to sell. spots starts may not going to get it done. agree he hasnt done much batting third. this plan may backfire but i understand the strategy. (assuming that is the strategy since i cant think of any other good reason)

  • Big Joe

    Thatta boy, Alf! Diving catch, then a homer. And, the guy is noticeably limping. Love him, or hate him, he’s playing hard, and he’s playing hurt. Thanks, Alf.

    • Brett

      Trade him now!

      (only slightly kidding)

      • hansman1982


        Poof Al Fonso – plays his heart out, made tons of money doing it and many fans hate him.

  • Carew

    Stupid school getting in the way of watching the game!

  • Big Joe

    Funny seeing the NLC reference. I went to Concord, and finished at Northridge. I went over and saw Stultz play at Bethel a couple times. I ended up at Anderson University. We played Bethel, but it was a few years before Stultz was there. Funny, but I don’t remember hearing a lot about Stultz when he was playing high school ball at Plymouth.

  • Patrick

    Why is it that our pitcher(Samardizjia) can hit and the rest of our team can’t? Put him in the lineup everyday!!

  • Rynomite

    Mr. Cub from second full season to age 31 season: .289/.351/.546 (OPS+ 140). After 32: .257/.307/.440 (OPS+ 105). Alf from second full season to age 32 season: .285/.333/.531 (OPS+ 120). After 33: .250/.305/.461 (OPS+ 101).

    I’m not arguing that Alf in his prime was near the player Banks was. Alf was a butcher at second and Ernie was at least average at SS. But later in their careers they both moved to much less demanding positions on the defensive spectrum while posting league average offense, yet Mr. Cub is loved and Alf tends to be reviled. I guess the reason is that he didn’t have his prime years in a Cubs uniform and he makes a crapload of money.

    But don’t blame Alf. Blame Hendry.

    • EQ76

      Amen! It’s not like Sori is terrible, his contract is.. but heck, I don’t remember many being upset when we signed him. He was just coming off of a monster 40/40 season… I totally blame Hendry, not for the $$$ per year he got, but the length of contract. He deserved 18-20 mil a year at the time, but not 8 years of it. Had Hendry signed him to a 5 or 6 year deal, we’d be done with him by now.

  • EQ76

    2 in a row!!! now if we can just get 10 more straight we’ll be back in contention for 4th place!

  • Fishin Phil

    Dare to dream big!

  • Joe

    What are the Cubs doing? At this point we don’t want to win games. We will be handing over the top draft pick to the Pudres!

    • DocPeterWimsey

      I think that I read that the Padres schedule is a tougher than is the Cubs for the remainder of the season.  Obviously, that can sort of change due to injuries, trades, etc.  However, as we’ve seen the last two games, the Pads are not a very good team: the list of holes is longer than the list of things that are not holes.

      That doesn’t make beating them any less fun, mind you.  I still remember 1984……

  • Kevin

    Wrigley has outlived its life, time to move on. Stay in Chicago but build a modern facility. This is 2012. Do not put $300M into this old outdated ballpark. Enough restrictions on night games too. The Cubs will never win at Wrigley.

    • EQ76

      I disagree with about 95% of what you just said. Yes they can win at Wrigley, just need to put a good team on the field. Upgrading the area would help preserve one of the 2 most historic parks on the planet. A facelift and more night games will go a long way.

      • Joe

        EQ76–Kevin does make a good point. I myself am in limbo on this. If you put 300 million in renovations into Wrigley is it still “historical” Wrigley? By the same token I couldn’t imagine no more Wrigley Field.

        • coal

          Two questions:

          1) Is Soldier Field still Soldier Field? I don’t think the Wrigley “fix” would be that dramatic but it could be close. I think there is the chance that some people would actually think doing “that” (i.e., a Soldier Field-like rennovation) to Wrigley would be worse than simply tearing it down since it would lose a lot of what makes Wrigley special – other than, obviously, the neighborhood.

          2) Unless we end up with a suburban dome (geez, hope we don’t) wouldn’t we still be dealing with the elements that everyone blames for the team’s performance? I mean, Chicago weather is crazy – cold one day, hot the next, long winter, short spring, etc. – unless you build a dome or position the park in some other direction it seems we’re going to be dealing with some of the things people complain about anyway. Am I missing something? Is the weather at US Cellular that different?

        • Tim

          is fenway still fenway?

  • Kevin

    Wrigley Field is more of a museum than a historical ballpark. The Cubs have not won a World Series since moving there. Unless all the night game restrictions are totally lifted the pattern will continue. If people love Wrigley Field more than having a winning team then maybe they can move the Baseball Hall of Fame to Wrigley Field. This way Wrigley stays put and the HOF can be more centrally located wiithin the United States. It’s a Win Win situation for all!

  • coal

    I’m not convinced the night game issue is the reason the Cubs haven’t won. I’m absolutely willing to listen to arguments, and I’ve heard many. I’m just not convinced that other factors (like talent) aren’t significantly more important than that one.

    However, I think the neighborhood and City would cave on the night game issue quickly if it was a trade off between that and some sort of hard revenue negotiating point (i.e., Cubs pay lower taxes, quarantine off Sheffield and Waveland on game days and sell food, beverage in a street fair environment, etc.), or – obviously – moving.

    If the Cubs’ issues were as easy as night games! We’d be champions (or close)!

    • Njriv

      I blame it more on the player facilities. they don’t have all the up to date things other clubs do. Like for example the batting cages, all these clubs have multi-person batting cages that players can access in the middle of a game. Bench players can access them to get ready for to pinch hi, or if a position player wants to work on some mechanics before his next at-bat. The Cubs however have one cage both teams to use, and its in right field so they cant access it during a game.

    • Frank

      I agree–while night games may have something to do with it, I just don’t think it’s that simple, especially since the Cubs have often had a better winning percentage in day games than night games (I remember a broadcaster saying that–maybe someone can find out for sure). But even if that’s not the case, I think it has had much more to do with talent than anything else.

    • Brett

      Do people really argue that day games are THE reason the Cubs haven’t won?

      As you point out, there are many reasons. Day games are a piece of the puzzle, though.

      • die hard

        day games are the primary reason Cubs’ good teams found it hard to finish strong

  • coal

    I think it’s probably something like: talent, talent evaluation/development, bad luck, player facilities, weather, night games, curse in approximately that order. They are all factors, not all of them are controllable. So night games is a factor, it’s just not the first one I’d work on. But since I could control it, I’d probably try to fix it. But if you fix that one – and only that one – the problem isn’t solved.

    That’s why I hate talking about night games – and I hope Ricketts/Theo/Crane are working more on the things above it on the list of things they can control, that influence performance.

  • Kevin

    Coal, your analysis is right on. Day games are a piece of the puzzle, not as Important
    as raw talent but still an important factor to consider putting all the pieces together. The Cubs need the freedom to play when they want without any restrictions. It’s documented that the 69 Cubs collapse was at least partially due to playing so many hot day games.

  • coal

    I remain convinced that night games would easily be conceded by the city/neighborhood if that was the final piece of the puzzle. Money talks and this is a bargaining chip that doesn’t, on its surface, cost many people much money. In fact, it would make rush hour easier on Fridays, etc.

    My point is only that if there was sufficient talent and better facilities (which may be related), the Cubs could either 1) win in spite of the lack of night games or 2) pretty easily negotiate with the City to get it through (not saying it would be an easy negotiation).

    If you play all your games at night, you ain’t gonna win measurably more games in a season with a bad team. I can’t imagine the start time amounts to more than 2 wins/losses a year. If it prevents somebody good from wanting to join the Cubs as a free agent – ok, that might have a bigger impact. But facilities and surrounding talent would ALSO seem to be big factors there.

  • Kevin

    Written about the 69 Cubs

    Still others blame the number of day games that the Cubs had to play. (Lights were not installed in Wrigley Field until 1988.) Chicago’s summers are quite humid (85-90 degrees Fahrenheit on average), and playing in this heat day after day may have taken a toll.