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I can’t imagine that an off-day after your worst lost in two years is a fun thing. Maybe it’s a necessary thing. A cleansing thing.

  • Dale Sveum sums up all of our concerns after another total clunker by Jeff Samardzija yesterday: “I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t concern. The execution of pitches hasn’t been good for four or five starts now. It could be confidence, it could be mechanical, it could be all of the above. The magic question is, which one is it? There’s a number of things sometimes – is it the concentration level, trusting your stuff? When he gets in trouble, he doesn’t get strike one either. That’s a big thing. Today, we didn’t get strike one too often.” In other words: who knows what the problem is? That’s the scary part.
  • For his part, Samardzija said the things you’d expect him to say – he can’t walk guys, he has to make adjustments, he has to keep plugging away, etc.
  • Sveum says Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo are his two and three hitters until further notice, regardless of the matchup. “You want to get some stability in this lineup,” Sveum said. “You call people up who are going to be here a long time, you just want to leave them alone. [Starlin] Castro and [Rizzo], we’ll see what happens. I don’t want to keep moving things around, because then you can’t protect this guy or that guy, and it snowballs into another problem. We’re committed to this lineup and lefties will be what they are. Those two guys will be in the same spot from now on.”
  • Randy Wells declined to talk to the media yesterday after he was designated for assignment.
  • Anthony Rizzo is adjusting not only to playing baseball in the bigs, but also life in the bigs in a big city.
  • The Cubs are going to be showing ‘The Blues Brothers’ at Wrigley Field on July 6, at which they’ll try to set the world record for most people wearing sunglasses at night. Swell.
  • Catch up on the state of the Wrigley Field renovation discussions with a handy infographic from Chicago Mag.
  • The Cubs have signed undrafted free agent Anthony York, a relief pitcher out of UC-San Diego.
  • The Cubs have started the process of releasing a number of minor leaguers (including Theo compensation piece Jair Bogaerts) as they open up spots for 2012 draft signees.
  • A great thread over at the Message Board, in which you can vote on the Cubs’ top 10 positional prospects. Crowd-sourcing!
  • Dan

    I’m also concerned. Let’s hope Jeff finds his way. He’s an important piece to the Cubs future. Also, I love the idea of Castro and Rizzo batting 2 and 3 for a long, long time.

  • MichiganGoat

    Okay I got this all figured out- Jeff needs a more aerodynamic stache. He needs to call Dick Tidrow and learn the secret of a power stache. Problem Solved. You’re welcome Mr. Samardzija

    • Cubs Dude

      Could be Goat. Who would have thought the mullett on the staff people have more confidence in now is Travis Wood? Mind boggling how things change..

      • djriz

        Has anyone else realized that if we trade Demp and Garza, Travis becomes the staff ‘ace’?

        Think about that for a minute.

        • MichiganGoat

          He does have the best mullet power on the staff so I guess he is ace of mullets

          • Cubs Dude

            As long as the Cubs don’t acquire the ’93 version of Randy Johnson. I think it’s safe to say T. Wood is the best mullet pitcher on the squad at this point.

        • ETS

          That marshall trade seems pretty good?

          • King Jeff

            Yeah, it is looking pretty good at this point.

  • Cubs Dude

    What do you do with Jeff at this point? He looks terrible, and was suppose to be one of the key building blocks. You can’t keep throwing him out there to get rocked and lose all confidence. I hope they send him down to pull his act together in AAA.

    • Wilbur

      My approach to the Shark has been he would be very, very valuable if he developed into an effective starter. For that reason I thought the experiment of trying him one more time as a starter made sense, even though I did not think it was going to succeed, and the jury is still out. He may make adjustments and regain his effectiveness, otherwise back to the bullpen.

      However, I never projected him as a critical piece needed for future success, as he has never had had success as a starter. His emergence as a starter would have accelerated (may yet …) the team’s recovery.

      If I’m saying the same thing you meant with different words just ignore …

      • Drew7

        You nailed it with your 1st sentence

  • Master Gonzo

    The Shark strikes me as a guy who performs best with a chip on his shoulder, a la Spring Training. In a season where bright spots are few, he was one of them for most of the first 1/2 of the season. Maybe he needed a bad stretch that finished with a train-wreck to get that edge back… after a head-clearing AS break. I would love to see him bounce back. Hasn’t he almost hit the same total innings pitched this season as he had all of 2011?

    • Cubs Dude

      I agree with that Gonzo. Jeff seems to have lost his edge out there. The velocity is still there, but he’s not making the pitches he was early.

  • BD

    Barring a trade, I think Soriano is pretty locked into the 4-spot as well. With LaHair hitting 5 against righties, and some waste-of-space hitting 5 against lefties.

    • rcleven

      I fear LaHair may not be here long enough to settle into that five hole. Hope the front office has a rabbit up their sleeve for more offensive production if and when he goes.

    • Jonski

      Yeah well I want to no why Soriono only had 1 at bat yesterday can’t find anything that says he is hurt.

      • Diesel

        Soriano was pulled for a pinch hitter in the 6th because the Cubs were getting destroyed.  He only had 1 AB because he walked in one of his PA’s.  A lot of regulars got pulled because of the score, Castro included.

        • Jonski

          Thanks diesel.

  • RY34

    Wells doesn’t talk to media after dfa, wow big shock there, the dude is an ass.

    • andrew

      Why would he want to? If I got demoted at work, I would tell everyone to piss off if they want to know how i feel about it

  • hansman1982

    “Anthony Rizzo is adjusting not only to playing baseball in the bigs, but also life in the bigs in a big city.”

    Wait, didn’t he just come from Des Moines? Is that not “big city” enough for him???? THATS IT – AFTER A K LAST NIGHT AND THIS COMMENT DFA HIM!!!!!! DFA DFA DFA!!!!

    • andrew

      Just release him, this scrub is a parasite on our team I want no part of him

      • hansman1982

        the funny part is I am sure some fan of another team will see this and think that Cubs fans are growing tired of Rizzo thereby spurring massive trade discussions on how they could get Rizzo for some bloated aging outfielder.

        • MichiganGoat

          Rizzo for Jamie Moyer… make it happen Theo!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Haha. Sorry.

    • Jonski

      Yeah wth he only had 1 hit yesterday to boot he is a bust (sarcasim) lol

  • Hack Wilson

    Did Jeff Samardzija’s issues start when he hit Konerko with that pitch? I’m grasping at straws, but he hasn’t been the same pitcher since.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Shark will get better if they just sit him down for 2 weeks. He will improve physically and mentally. He has been going down hill for a month. A guy only has so many pitches in his arm. He has been throwing in a rigorous program since last November. He came out about 10 days ago and said he was scrapping his off season plan used last year. Why? He has worn himself out. And Sveum is just now saying uhh I’m worried about him. I would be worried about all the time if i was the manager. Is Sveum smart or not? Maybe he is just a good hitting coach. What the hell is Bosio doing? I am concerned he is over his head. We have the worst pitching staff in baseball. They can’t throw strikes from a little league mound. Do we have the right coaches? Are these the right instructors for players who need major corrections to their fundamental approaches, mechanics and mental approaches to the game. At the midway point I would say that the pitching coach is not the right fit. I would have to think Theo is looking at this carefully. Jaramillo is gone! Bosio is in the hot seat! I give him 30 days andbhe is fired.

    • JoeyCollins

      I agree. He has worked his add off getting to where he could make the team out of spring training but now he’s wore out and needs rest.

  • Dave H

    I would honestly think your top 5 should be locked in:

    Dejesus
    Castro
    Rizzo
    Sorry
    Lahair

    It seems this will force the other managers hand with working his bullpen. Put Soto in the 6th spot if you want even. Stabilize this line-up even further.

    • 100 Years of Tears

      I agree. But how strange would it be to actually know who’s batting where without having to look it up daily? I couldn’t believe Mather led off yesterday. I want DeJesus leading off every game. He’s been very solid offensively and defensively.

    • LWeb23

      I agree. Especially with LaHair. This team is the worst in the league right now. How much worse can we get if LaHair starts against lefties? If LaHair is going to be any part of our future, then he needs to start learning to hit lefties.
      I think that Theo/Jed have to realize this, and the only explanation is that they don’t want his overall numbers to go down if they try to move him. Apparently, the Dodgers were scouting him the other day, and they are unsure of his defense at the moment. But with Kemp and Ethier out, they really need a bat. They just got swept, and shutout for an entire series for the first time in their longggg history.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        “This team is the worst in the league right now. How much worse can we get if LaHair starts against lefties? ”

        The Cubs would not be hugely worse, but it would not be obvious: given LaHair’s AAA numbers and what they project to (as a 29 year old) in MLB, his OPS would only a little lower than Baker’s has been.

        But give up on the “learning to hit lefties” idea: LaHair is 29 and he’s never hit them.  It’s a bit too late to expect him to learn.  Indeed, given the miLB numbers we have seen, I suspect that it has been LaHair’s inability to hit lefties that kept him in the minors for so long: he’s hit AAA righty pitching well since he was 23 or 24.

      • BD

        I think playing LaHair everyday will do 2 things:

        1) Help determine what you have moving forward.
        2) Give others teams who may want him the chance to scout him.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          1) The front office knows (and knew) what they had in LaHair based on his AAA numbers;  2) other teams have had data on LaHair for years.  LaHair might have just made MLB full time, but he did not just step off of a space ship!

    • JoeyCollins

      I like that for this year and possibly to start next year as well, with a replacement for Sori ofcourse.

  • Kevin

    TOM TUNNEY
    44th Ward Alderman
    INTEREST IN REHAB: * * *
    NEGOTIATING POWER: * * * ½
    Opposes the Fenway plan, citing neighborhood concerns and the business interests of his Wrigleyville constituents. Rooftop club owners, who give the Cubs 17 percent of their revenue, likely stand to lose if landmark restrictions are relaxed and the team adds billboards impeding their views. If the Cubs hold their own street fairs, local merchants would be hurt too. These are some of Tunney’s biggest political supporters, and he has sided with them in previous negotiations. The full council will decide the landmark issue, but the street fair permits go through Tunney.

    If the Cubs are not allowed to do what they want then Tunney and Wrigleyville will lose out big time. Give the Cubs what they want, lift some of these crazy restrictions and lets move forward.

    • MichiganGoat

      Um wouldn’t an increase in foot traffic around Wrigley increase Wrigleyville business. If there are street fairs around Wrigley wouldn’t more people be in the Wrigleyville area? Especially if they are at times when games are not being played, or is this more about the local business don’t want to compete with the vendors that the Cubs would provide? I guess I just can’t see how an increase in foot traffic would hurt local business, I can see how it could upset the residents who don’t want anymore foot traffic.

      • JoeyCollins

        The city is quite happy to milk every cent out of Wrigley they just don’t want to risk angering voters in the short term. Someone with some balls needs to stand up and say that this is best for the cubs and therefore best for the city/neighborhood. The more the rickets are aloud to do to increase income the more money they have for the team the better the team ail be, and that ail brings in more money and people.

        • Cubbie Blues

          It is spelled ale not ail. Poking smiley

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    Samardzija was throwing his slider and no curveballs in April.
    Slider and no curves in May.
    Yesterday, he threw all curveballs and no sliders.

    Coincidence?

    • Carew

      so he’s lost confidence in that slider? hmm..

      • rcleven

        Or his arm is hurting or just plain dead right now.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      I should point out this was brought up by Harry Pavlidis who does Pitch F/X stuff at BrooksBaseball.net

  • ramon

    Enough with the platooning. Baker and Mather are not cutting it. The wind was blowing out and we had LaHair and DeJesus on the bench. I’m sure one, if not both of them would have hit it up in the wind. I have patience with Sveum, but this righty line up is just awful.

  • TonyP

    In the NL Soriano is 8th in HR and 16th in RBI not exactly Sorry.  He isn’t what he was once but give the guy a break.

    • THEOlogical

      Thank you! Finally someone else feels the same way I do. I’m so sick and tired of Cubs fans giving him a hard time.
      The one who has not sinned, shall cast the first stone. Your telling me if you were giving 100+ million, you wouldn’t take it because you “may or may not” play up to that amount of money? Soriano may not be as good as he once was, but he is better than any of you whiners out there, on his bad day, and your good day. Sorry for the rant, just tired of reading bad mouthing comments about him. Please, give the guy a break and wish him luck elsewhere.

  • 100 Years of Tears

    I have a question for you stat-masters out there. Every time a lead-off batter is walked, I ask my son “what happens when you walk the lead-off batter?” His response: “he usually scores… unless he’s a Cub (ha ha).” So, how often do lead-off walks result in runs? And do the Cubs walk more lead-off batters than others, or does it just seem like it?

    • rcleven

      Not a stat master here but I have heard about 74% of the time. Seems high but it’s never good to walk anybody least the the first batter to start an inning.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Approximately 40% of leadoff walks (and leadoff singles and leadoff hit-by pitches) score.  That might have gone down a bit in the last few years as run production has decreased.  (It was at 40% in 2002, but down to 38% in 2010;  http://www.fangraphs.com/community/index.php/the-leadoff-walk/.)

      The Cubs probably give up leadoff walks more than most teams because the Cubs have led the NL (or been close to the top) in walks allowed in several recent seasons. Conversely, the Cubs frequently are at the bottom of the league in walks taken, so they will be at the bottom of the league in leadoff walks.   This year is more of the same: only San Diego has issued more walks and only Pittsburgh has drawn fewer walks.  So, the Cubs actually have the biggest negative walk differential in MLB.

      • 100 Years of Tears

        Thanks guys! I knew you’d come through. This is easily the best place to get Cubs and other general baseball info.

      • hansman1982

        Tom Tango has the run expectancy at around .853 for 1B with no outs, which from what I understand means that a run will score 85.3% of the time in that situation. Regardless of who actually scores, it is never a good idea to allow the leadoff runner to get on base. (nobody on 1 out drops to a .252 run expectancy)

  • Leroy K.

    “Those two guys will be in the same spot from now on.”

    WELL ABOUT TIME!!!!! You should do this virtually ever game with the whole lineup!!

  • mudge

    Stability in the lineup, and on the field. You can’t let the opposing team’s pitcher define who your baseball team is. In one or two spots, yes. When resting a regular, yes. I’ve never seen a manager flipping a whole team around like this before, it’s like management by computer printout. DeJesus does all kinds of good things on the diamond even if he isn’t getting three hits off a lefty that day. We trust him to hit the cut-off man, to work the pitcher, to break for home on a run-down. He’s a better baseball player than Mather, is why he should be starting every day.

  • Wilbur

    The line-up angst I’m seeing reminds me of a several threads this Spring (note capitalization) where the reference to the Titanic and deck chairs came up several times. I believe we need to make that reference again …

    If the argument was about the constant shuffling of three or four really good hitters, then I have interest. However, how a manager shuffles six or seven role players in an attempt to beat the odds it’s a non-issue for me.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Indeed, did we not decisively conclude that a better alignment of the deck chairs would have saved not just the Titanic, but also the Lusitania and the Brittanic?!?  Heck, the film would have won another Oscar!!!

      • Cubbie Blues

        Um … there wouldn’t have been a movie.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Yes, there would have been, with Leo playing the intrepid time traveler Anthony Rizzo, who saves the ship by shuffling the deck chairs. Duh.

          • Cubbie Blues

            That’s better left for the Doctor and his TARDIS.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Didn’t you know?  Anthony Rizzo is going to play the 13th Doctor!!!!

  • mudge

    re: Soriano, if he were traded for a guy who matched his defense and production this year, everyone would be thrilled with the new person. I think this team is well-coached in all aspects, which is a credit to Sveum. They just don’t have enough talent.

  • mudge

    chronic lineup angst. i see a winning lineup which often wins, and a losing one which almost never wins. and i get the feeling before the game starts, so frustration sets in. maybe the regular lineup would lose at the same pace against lefties, but i don’t think so.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Yes, but the team loses against lefties in large part because the guys who play in both lineups do so poorly against lefties.

  • Ogyu

    The Cubs had better stop worrying about fans wearing sunglasses and start worrying about fans wearing bags over their heads.

  • HawkClone

    IF the Cubs decided Samardzija was better off in the bullpen, does anyone else think he could make a great closer? He showed last year he can have success in the 7th and 8th innings in the past and I think his football player mentality could make him a lethal closer if they decided to go that way with him.

    • willis

      He’d be a lights out closer and that is where he belongs. This rotation thing has proven, again, to not work. He’s still an asset if used properly. We’ll see if that happens.

  • mudge

    Doc, I get that but still think there’s got to be more continuity day to day with who is on the field. The feeling a team has when it jells and guys start to play over their heads is never going to show up in statistical analysis. What fascinates me about the game is psychology, not mathematics, and it’s just as legitimate a path to understanding it. You might understand working the count in terms of a starter only being able to throw so many innings and then you get into the less-talented bullpen; or you might witness a moment when a batter breaks a pitcher’s will, and the game turns. Sometimes it’s one, and sometimes it’s another, sometimes both, but they’re going to look the same on the graph. They are not the same in reality.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Plenty of winning teams use platoons.  That is because runs win games, not psychology.  Indeed, I doubt that “psychology” as popular culture uses the term has any effect on anything: anything that can be used to explain everything really explains nothing at all.

  • 100 Years of Tears

    Just re-read the cover of last month’s VineLine mag. “Shark Warning: Jeff Samardzija is giving hitters reason to be very, very afraid.”

    Wow, how things can really change in just a month.

  • Kevin

    i think Arlington Heights or Rosemont would just love to have the Cubs move to their town………throw in tax incentives and wow, the Cubs have a new state of the art stadium and no longer are held hostage by Chicago politics. Chicago will realize how good they had it only after the Cubs decide to move.

    • 100 Years of Tears

      Absolutely. Without question, build in the ‘burbs!

      • North Side Irish

        They’ll have to build in the burbs if they want a new stadium. I’d love for them to stay in Chicago, but there’s really nowhere in the city with enough available land to build a stadium. People talk about the Waveland golf course, but that means negotiating with the city again and we’ve seen how that works.

        I’d love to see the team at least buy a large parcel of land is the suburbs just to see how people react. My first preference is the renovate Wrigley, but if they continued to get jerked around by the politicians, they need to at least investigate other options.

  • Kevin

    Reasons to stay:
    1) Beautiful Ballpark
    2) People love Wrigley Field more than the team

    Reasons to leave:
    1) New State of the art Ballpark
    2) Night Games
    3) No more 12% Amusement Tax!
    4) No more Chicago politics
    5) No longer held hostage by unfriendly neighbors
    6) New City will treat the Cubs with TOTAL RESPECT!

    I have no idea why the Cubs are subject to the 12% amusement tax! All the other teams in Chicago have had some public assistance and undersatnd why they are subject to the tax.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Kevin: Hold up there. I love the cubs more then Wrigley. I love Wrigley but I’m there to see the Cubs not the ballpark as much as love it. But I would agree there is a minor population of Cubs fans that are not die hards who are very casual at the most who are cubs fans because of Wrigley

  • mudge

    A player might do better playing every day, even if he doesn’t hit as well against left-handers – it might help how he hits against right-handers, to be in there every day. Runs don’t win games, players do.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      How would facing LHP improve the way a LHB hits RHP?  Remember, the problem for LHB’s is that they do not pick up the ball as well from LHP, costing them a fraction of a second in reaction time.  That fraction of a second reaction is the difference between creaming a pitch and missing it, or taking an outside pitch and swinging at it.

      Indeed, if anything, facing LHP should hurt a LHB’s performance against RHP by forcing the batter to speed up his swing some days, potentially throwing off his batting mechanics.

  • donnie kessinger

    Earl Weaver certainly maximized the platoon system.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Earl was one of the first managers to use statistics explicitly in making his lineups.  In a lot of ways, what we call “Moneyball” evolved from Weaverball.  Other successful managers such as Sparky Anderson and Dick Williams used platoons a lot.  Heck, Casey Stengal platooned Mickey Mantle at one point: he platooned almost all lefties, and he considered switch-hitters to “really” be lefties.  (That ended pretty quickly, however.)

  • mudge

    spelling on “Stengel”.

  • The Dude Abides

    Never has been a starter who has averaged more than 5 or 6 innings. I am sure he is tired and needs to be slowed down. Will be surprised if he makes it through the summer if they don’t take proactive steps. Hopefully he/they figure it out as he had shown promise early in the year, not so much lately…

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