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The Cubs were on a national stage tonight, and they made sure to heed the advice of every mother to her son on his first date: “Just be yourself.”

The obvious problem? The Cubs’ selves this year aren’t particularly good at baseball.

Paul Maholm didn’t have it early, but he settled down into a decent start. The bullpen didn’t do much good thereafter, though, and the Cubs dropped the series.

The offense didn’t help things much either, and they made sure to pull their patented fake-out rally in the 9th (loading the bases with nobody out, but scoring just one).

  • @cubsfantroy

    Dale needs to do something quick. What he is doing isn’t working. Granted, the blame isn’t all on him since we lack a lot of talent right now. He needs to shake things up quite a bit.

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein

  • Spencer

    Why didn’t LaHair PH in the ninth?

    • Sircub

      Because Dale Sveum wanted me to lose in fantasy baseball.

      • Spencer

        pretty impressive it was that close anyway, considering Cain.

  • Cee-Dee-Vee

    Can someone pleeeeeease explain to me why LaHair didn’t pinch hit in the 9th?!!!
    PH for Reed, and Campana stays in….OR PH for Barney and Cardenas comes in….Hellooooooooo Sveum? Anyone there? He’s really been getting on my bad side.

    • http://bleachernation.com RicoSanto

      He should have pinch hit in the 7th with 2 men on and a righty pitching, that was the game.Baker hits a dribbler, which he did twice and K’d..Please release him,You are not gong to get anything for him.Sveum I would give him a D so far.I know the cupboard is bare.
      Just think how bad we will be when we trade Demp and Garza.

      • ETS

        Why does baker play at all? He does not “crush” lefties and while lahair’s #’s vs lefties are bad, he never sees them!

        • dob2812

          Baker’s career wOBA v. lefties: 372. This year it’s 292 but that’s 54 PAs and with a 263 BAbip. It’s fair to say he doesn’t crush lefties (you’d want a mark over 400 to claim that) but he does hit them pretty hard.

          Bryan LaHair is 29 years old. In his 75 career MLB PAs against lefties, he has a wOBA of 235. Against righties it’s 385. That’s called a platoon split.

          Playing Baker at first base against a left handed starter was, is and will continue to be the right call until Anthony Rizzo is called up. Not that Rizzo will be able to hit lefties, but he’s young enough that he should be given the chance to try. LaHair is 29. I’d say there’s a lot of minor league date that shows he should not be given a chance to try to hit major league lefties.

          • Drew7

            dob really hit the nail on the head here. You platoon once a defficiency/advantage is statistically proven and the players have developed. Baker and LaHair have both provided plenty of proof that neither are complete hitters, so the only way to get there is to combine them.

  • calicubsfan007

    Sveum is a rookie, remember that. He should get the hang of these kinds of things as the season wears on. But it might have been a good idea to PH LaHair. He’ll learn these things though.

    • Jimmy james

      Um it doesnt take a vet to manager to know you put the guy that can hit the ball in the bleachers up if you get a chance to tie, I have to think lanair was unavailable for minor injury issue

  • @cubsfantroy

    Maybe LaHair’s back was bothering him? I am just grasping for straws right now as to why. lol

  • Jh

    ” He’ll learn these things though.” I am not a Svuem hater, I think he’s done Ok given the lineup, but if you have to learn to play your best hitter (literally one of your only good hitters) then you dont belong in the majors.

    • Jimmy james

      I don’t like to bash the manager but am getting tired of the whole platoon thing….can we at least get a reclamation project for the right handed partner instead of baker

      • calicubsfan007

        Platoon isnt a bad idea, what makes it bad is Baker.

        • Jimmy james

          To me it just means no one is getting enough at bats to stay in a rhythm

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Then why have so many hitters excelled in platoons? That pretty much falsifies the rhythm hypothesis, doesn’t it?

            • Njriv

              Remember the Johnson/Edmonds platoon in 2008? As effective as it gets.

            • Jimmy James

              you may have an argument there but that statement just leads me to say why have so many players excelled when not in a platoon? :)

              • Drew7

                For example?

  • calicubsfan007

    I am trying to be fair to Sveum. I do think it was a stupid call, but I am trying to be fair.

    • Jh

      I do agree with you that he is still learning, and rightfully so, but if it wasnt injury related then it was a really odd decision.

  • mudge

    Not much from Soriano this evening. Perhaps he doesn’t thrive on being shit on by hometown fans. DeJesus and Lahair need to play every day, it’s a schizo ballclub with no rhythm. DeJesus is an ideal second hitter, high OBP, takes strikes, good situational hitter. Leadoff doesn’t quite work. If you bat him third, he’s got to be the weakest 3-hitter in the league. Why do that to a guy?

  • Mr.Boring

    I’ve been saying’

    local kids play better then these clowns. yeah, they try hard, but you keep paying ricketts his money and this what we will get.

    great attendance this week Cubs fools

    • cjdubbya

      You do realize that a significant portion of the crowds this week were fans of the visitors, right? I remember Brett remarking that on Thursday, I believe it was the El, that it looked like Tiger fans outnumbered Cub fans 2 to 1 or 3 to 1.

      Still looking very forward to my trip next Wednesday, and to taking my niece to her first-ever Cubs game in August.

  • @cubsfantroy

    You can’t hate Sveum for working with all that he has. He doesn’t have much.

    • calicubsfan007

      Exactly

  • NCMoss

    It makes me sick to listen to ESPN. They’re completely biased and ignorant. There were a lot of things they said that really pissed me off. When talking about the Cubs WS drought, one of them said “What do you mean if?” in response to “if they lose this season it’s at 104″. I mean WTF?!?!! How is that ok to say on national tv and how is it his place to say that? They were all over how ‘great’ Dustin Pedroia is and how he goes from “ugly to perfect” in his swing. And the routine pop-up he dropped wasn’t routine. Then they blamed Youkilis’ misplay on the lights. Good grief are they an embarrassment to sports broadcasting!

    • NCMoss

      Oh and that commercial type thing in the middle of the game pissed me off too. We have a ‘relic of a ballpark’ and a tradition of losing? Seriously, WTF?!?!?!

    • @cubsfantroy

      That is why I didn’t watch the game tonight. I haven’t watched a game on ESPN in 6 years because they are pieces of excrement.

    • Njriv

      Lol That was Tito that kept praising Pedroia, he was considered one of Tito’s favorite players when he was with the Red Sox. I kind of chuckeled when Orel said “what do you mean if?” I mean, c’mon its true! ESPN has always shown heavy bias towards the BoSox and Yanks so I just kind of excepted the fact that I would be hearing a lot of the Red Sod so I just tuned it out.

      • NCMoss

        Yes, it is true but that’s not something you say on national tv and not even halfway through the season.

      • Jeremy

        I can’t stand listening to the ESPN commentators. They make it so obvious how biased they are. Seriously, I wish they wouldn’t let former players be broadcasters for a game a channel that is supposed to be neutral.

        Seriously, if I have to listen to Buster Olney talk about how the Cubs need to trade Castro, I might flip. At least Francona I believe had the sense to say the right thing.

        • calicubsfan007

          Jeremy: Francona understands baseball, Olney only pretends to understand baseball. How he became a “top” analyst is beyond me.

          • hogie

            Still better than Buck and McCarver!

            • Spriggs

              Light years better than buck and Red McCarver.

    • calicubsfan007

      @NCMoss: That “if” line is probably an attempt at a joke. Especially if it is Orel or Joe Morgan, they suck at broadcasting. Good players make horrible broadcasters. Prove me wrong if there is one, and i will take that back.

  • Dustin S

    Without the shoddy Sox defense this game wouldn’t have been close. But the rally attempt in the 9th was good to see.

    I sooo wish Campana could get his OBP up at least over .350 (or better yet .380+). He’d be the legit long-term leadoff plug-in this team needs. Right now he’s at .308 which isn’t going to cut it. Looking ahead to when Jackson comes up, I just don’t see an outfield combination of Campana’s relatively low OBP and Jackson’s high strikeout rate working well together. A CF with no power and a low on-base isn’t going to be a long-term solution no matter how fast he is. His OBP has been higher in the minors so there is some hope of him raising it, but the longer he’s up and it hangs around .300 the more he reminds me of Willy Taveras.

  • Joepoe123

    Koyie hill elected free agency and declined being sent to AAA!
    Good Riddance!

    • calicubsfan007

      Joepoe: Hill says, “I am going to take my talents to South Beach!”

      • Joepoe123

        ^like!

  • Cee-Dee-Vee

    He is a rookie but thwre are things that he needs to change.

    1) What happen to the strict guy who would sit out guys for not hustling? I’ve seen this from Soriano, Castro, LaHair, Soto,etc.

    2) 3-15 when you stack the lineup with lefties…umm Dale this means that your strategy isnt woking

    3) Cardenas has a bad average but all you do is pinch hit with him, and yet he almost always makes solid contact…give Barney a day off, for god’s sake take out Stewart (before the DL)

    It’s just things like this that should be obvious by now and make him look like a hipocrite.

    • calicubsfan007

      Cee: You are definetly right. I just want to wait a little longer in the season until I begin to criticize Sveum.

    • dob2812

      Except what you’re doing Cee is over-reacting.

      1. MLB is a 162 game grind. Take it easy on the hustling stuff. These guys are playing their hardest. They wouldn’t have made it if they weren’t.

      2. Platoon splits are real and leveraging them is a smart strategy. You can’t judge anything on 18 games. Also, this strategy would work better if the Cubs had better left-handed hitters to stack the line-up with.

      3. Barney is having a decent year. He’s the best option we have at 2B now and though we don’t him to be a starter long-term, there’s also no point imagining that Cardenas would be better. There’s a reason the As let him go. He probably can’t play 2B for very long.

      These are not mistakes on the manager’s part. This is the manager dealing with a really bad team.

      • Cee-Dee-Vee

        You’re right I was thinking the same thing. I guess it’s just the way Sveum came in talking like the new big guy who was really gonna change things. It gave me higher expectations.

  • NCMoss

    I feel like what little trade value Baker has is being destroyed by him playing in games.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ha.

  • Baez to Castro to Rizzo

    With a top 3 pick in ’13 seemingly locked-up, our Cubs might as well over-achieve & lock-up the #1 overall pick (and highest slot budget). I’m sure we’ll instead get a September run like in 2010–winning meaningless games & knocking us out of the top 3. Cubs can’t do anything right. =D

  • The Show

    To me W. Castillo seems like he’d be better off at 3B than behind the plate.

  • MaxM1908

    Hello from London to all my BN friends. Can I just say that it’s comforting to know that the Cubs still find new and interesting ways to lose games while I’m out of the country? Let’s get that fire-sale cooking!

  • Cheryl

    LaHair doesn’t hit lefties well. But this club is so far out of it that it wouldn’t hurt to put him in against lefties once in a while if you insist on platooning him. There have been all sorts of excuses for not playing LaHair – the lefty-righty matchups (which aren’t working); to protect his trade value (his trade value is going down because he’s not playing); injuries? (this is only mentioned as a possible reason by the fans); to give him a mental rest (that’s a fairly new one and since he isn’t playing it doesn’t seem to hold water); to give Baker and others at bats (why is LaHair the one that Sveum substitutes for most of the time when he’s a major power hitter?); A more recent excuse, provided by fans is Sveum is a rookie manager and has made mistakes regarding LaHair. I think I’ve covered most of them.

    Now for some reasons that may or may not be legitimate: Sveum is waiting for Rizzo and if LaHair doesn’t play fans won’t think about him; Sveum doesn’t want to abandon his perception of platooning even though it hasn’t worked for the cubs; Sveum is being told to limit LaHair’s playing time (this seems an odd one but i’ll put it in anyway) and Sveum believes LaHair is just a AAAA player and has catagorized him in such a way that he will not play him (again this is an odd one I’ve heard others mention).

    So, what does this leave? Questions about Sveum’s management abilities and questions about LaHair.

    • Drew7

      I really think you are over-thinking this one, Cheryl. Against LHP, Baker’s OPS (well below his career avg) is 200 points higher than LaHair’s. The platoon IS working, because its netting more production than you would get from either one playing every day.

      • Cheryl

        You are right, LaHair doesn’t hit lefties well and I’m trying to adjust my thinkig about him in this regard and maybe when I see some of what others have written about him it raises questions in my mind. If LaHair is cut or traded sometime tis year it wouldbe for the best.

      • http://bleachernation.com RicoSanto

        Drew Come On Man , the platoon is NOT Working,Baker is hitting ,234 against LHP with 1 HR and 4 Rbis.Yes his career stats against LHP is good, but he is washed up.They are playing him to try to trade him.What are you going to get a marginal A player Just cut him when Rizzo comes up.I forgot he is untouchable according to Jim Hendry

        • DocPeterWimsey

          There are two fundamentally different issues here.  One, should the Cubs be platooning at first? If the answer is “yes” (and it is), then the second question is are the pieces of the platoon working?  The answer here is, not really.  However, I wouldn’t write off the platoon just yet: Baker has had fewer than 80 plate appearances. At that sample size, we cannot conclude that he’s doing worse than expected.  All it would take is a couple of good games to put Baker’s season numbers pretty much match his career numbers.

          • Cheryl

            Sorry, don’t accept your premise for number 1 and don’t accept your conclusions for number 2.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              How is the premise #1 unsound?  We have a LHH who does not hit LHP well and a RHH who does not hit RHP well, with years of data to back up both statements.  That makes a platoon a sound plan.

              How is the second conclusion unsound or invalid?  If you determine the probability of Baker’s XBH, walks or singles given his career rates and this year’s rates alone, then you’ll find that there is not a significant increase in getting this year’s numbers using only this year’s rates.  “Slumps” and “hot streaks” rarely deviate from sampling error in baseball, and Baker’s season is no exception.

              (Indeed, LaHair’s differences between “clutch” and “nonclutch” PA’s is much closer to significant than Baker’s 2012 vs. pre-2012 numbers….)

              • Cheryl

                Your statement assumes that these two specific players should be platooned. If you take that as a starting point it raises the question whether Rizzo should be platooned when he is promoted. I would not platoon him unless he does what he did in San Diego. LaHair, if he’s still around, should not platoon with Rizzo. So you’ve made one assumption that could carry over to the next first baseman. That is where I disagree with your premise. Also, I don’t accept the platoon is always a viable option. You say it works. I believe it takes away from both Baker and LaHair because neither is sure of his standing as a player.Statistics are fine to a point but they can be over used. So, I have a philosophical difference in accepting your conclusion for number 2.

                • GoldFinch

                  Very well said.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  Whether Rizzo should be platooned is a totally separate issue from whether LaHair should be platooned: the statement that X is Y is not a statement that Z is Y.  The fact platoons do not always work is not relevant to whether particular platoons work, or whether particular players should be platooned: the statement that some X are Y is not falsified by the statement that some X are not Y..

                  Neither LaHair nor Baker are unsure of their standings: they both know that they are in a platoon and why.  It is quite cut and dry.  These are not 5 year olds who do not understand why they are not always allowed to play on the playground!  Really, it’s psychology rather than statistics that we need to leave out of the arguments.

                • Drew7

                  Cheryl – It is easier for a player batting LH to hit RHP, and a RH-batter to hit LHP.
                  Some hitters are good enough at hitting both – no platoon.
                  Some are young, still developing as hitters, have the potential to be every day guys – no platoon.
                  Some hit pitchers from the opposite hand very well (LH vs RHP, RH vs LHP), and struggle mightily against same-handed pitchers (RH vs RHP, LH vs LHP). When there is *proof* of these struggles, it makes sense to have 2 players do what they do well and sit when faced with a situation they dont do well in.

                  I’ll use my wife and I as an example: I am terrible at folding laundry, but I really enjoy doing yardwork. We each could do our *fair share* of both activities, but neither activity would be done particularly well (wrinkled clothes and a backyard wilderness!). By each of us doing the activities we enjoy/are good at, home life remains at peace :)

          • GoldFinch

            Doesn’t really matter. The platoon nonesense is going to stop in a few short weeks when Rizzo comes up.

        • Jack Weiland

          “Washed up”? The guy doesn’t turn 31 until Thursday. Way too early to deem the platoon a failure based on this year’s stats alone.

  • Drew7

    playing him is an attempt to trade both of them. Let me ask you Rico – Who would you play at 1B? LaHair K’s 45% of the time against LHP.

    I didn’t say the platoon was great – the platoon IS working: since LaHair cannot hit LHP, and Jeff Baker, even in a down year, can give you 50% more production, you platoon.

    When Rizzo comes up, it will all be over anyway.

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