Don’t get me wrong. It’s always nice to be at the beach and to be around family, but the Internet here is killing me. It’s choppy, weak, and slow. And there’s nowhere reasonably nearby that I can go work. Grumble.

  • So, what was behind Jeff Samardzija’s suddenly resurgent start? According to him, elbow grease with pitching coach Chris Bosio, and according to Dale Sveum, it’s ditching the curveball. From Samardzija: “It’s about time, huh? I talked to [Bosio] after the game and I’m just really happy with how we worked between starts. Things like that happen throughout the season. You don’t have your best stuff and you have to go back to the drawing board and see what works. We definitely put in the elbow grease between starts to get this thing right.”
  • And from Sveum on Samardzija: “That’s the learning curve of this starting stuff. If you’re a three-pitch pitcher, be a three-pitch pitcher and don’t all of a sudden think you’re going to get to a 1.00 ERA. Just like a .300 hitter, don’t try to be a .350 hitter and change things otherwise you’re going to go backward. But that’s the learning curve of starting sometimes.” Apparently Samardzija had been experimenting with a curveball of late, and last night he just stuck to his bread and butter.
  • Anthony Rizzo says a play last night on which Starlin Castro looked like he screwed up (holding the ball too long on a grounder off the bat of Dan Uggla) was actually Rizzo’s fault. “Rizzo came to [Castro’s] rescue right away,” Sveum said. “Rizzo told him to give him time to get to the bag. He got caught probably trying to get too much ground and telling [Castro] to take his time when he gets a ball deep in the hole. I apologized to Castro after. Not that I said anything, but Rizzo came to his rescue right away and said, ‘Skip, that was my fault. I told him to give me time.’ Obviously, on that kind of ball, you can’t take your time with it.” And from Rizzo: “It’s my fault, in my opinion. I told him before that to give me a little time. That’s just me not knowing Uggla’s speed. He just beat the throw.”
  • The story on David DeJesus: he had a sore neck thanks to sleeping on it wrong (we’ve all been there), and when he came into the game late on Sunday, he felt it on a throw. So, he was pulled, and he got yesterday off. He could be back in the lineup tonight.
  • Jeff Samardzija on the addition of Anthony Rizzo, which coincides with the Cubs’ winning ways (coincidence?): “It definitely hasn’t hurt. Any time you add a lefty bat to your lineup, it strengthens it big-time. He plays great defense at first. He’s definitely been a big part of it, no doubt. And he’s young, so he can play every day, and we expect big things out of him every day too. The best thing is he [expects it] out of himself.”
  • Sahadev Sharma takes a deep look at Starlin Castro’s present and future, with some great quotes from scouts. A sense? Many in the industry think Castro can stick at shortstop for a long time, and most still believe that the power is coming (and that discipline is possible).
  • Mysterious4th

    Brett that picture is def the cats pajamas….jus sayin! Also glad shark is back to form. Shark, starlin, rizzo….our future is lookin pretty flippin exciting!

    Also loved when rizzo hit his HR they said rizzo doesn’t like it when the cubs are behind! Soon we shall see him fly

  • Carew

    Weeks like this remind why i love this team

    • deej34

      Brett, or anyone else that would like to weigh in…. I know we are FAR FAR FAR from a playoff berth, but what do you think of an infield of Rizzo, Barney, Castro, and Valbuena/Stewart? Mix of lefty/rightly. Solid defensively. Some power, some speed.Or ultimately just not enough talent to compete?

      • Carew

        Defensively i think one of the better feilding teams, at least in the central. Offensively, it would depend on if Stewart can come back from wrist and live up to his potential. I like Valbuena but i think he would be an excellent utility guy.

      • Puma0821

        I think thats going to be pretty close to what the Cubs will go with in the near future. Basically I think they do that until Someone can unseat Valbuena or Barney or they get a heck of a haul for either of them.

      • hansman1982

        how about an infield of Rizzo, Barney, Castro, Headley? That would be an infield of guys that were acquired through the farm system and it would not be a bad infield by any stretch of the imagination.

        • Puma0821

          Ideally you wouldn’t have to trade for headley (I remember hearing the price was steep) and someone like Vitters/Lake/Baez could force their way into the line up in the next 1-3 years… But headley would be nice.

        • Jeff

          When did we acquire Headley???? We are in the get prospects mode, not give ours up for a 28 year old. Lets hope Stewart’s surgery is a success and fixes the problem. Even at 2.5 M, it’s still better than 13M for Ramirez. I would gamble on Stewart again next year, especially with all the salary coming off the board once we move Baker, Wells, Soto, Marmol, Garza, Dempster and Soriano!!

          Fingers crossed :)

          • hansman1982

            Stewart should not be counted on for much next season – wrists tend to sap power.

            With Headley it all depends on the prospects given up but if you can get him for Vitters, McNutt, lower level guy, you should try it. He is under team control until age 30 (end of 2014 season), if you could sign him to a reasonable 4 year deal after acquiring him you get a premier 3B during his effective prime and it allows you to take it super slow and easy with Baez.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              Or you could give Vitters a shot for even less money, and try to sign Headley (or someone else) as a free agent if Vitters (and then Lake) don’t work out.

              I’m not sure one plan is any better than the other, but I don’t think we can dismiss the idea that Vitters could be a fairly valuable third baseman next season.

              • hansman1982

                I like vitters, but if we can use him to get an established 3B (obviously, with other prospects) then you trade him and wait for Lake/Baez.

                At the end of the day, it comes down to the cost to acquire Headley. If it’s 2 top 10 guys from our org, then I don’t want him, not at this stage in the game. If it’s a top 10, top 20, and top 30, then we welcome him aboard.

                • calicubsfan007

                  Hansman: What if Vitters can actually prove that he is the 3rd bman of the future? I am not crazy about him, but I do think that he deserves a chance to show the Cubs what he can do. I doubt that Theo trades him, at least right now unless the offer is ridiculous.

                  • hansman1982

                    Then you let him do it in San Diego while we have the maximum of what Vitters could be. This is a case of turning 2 in the bush to 1 in the hand. If we get Headley this offseason he could realistically be our third-baseman for 5 years and be a great offensive AND defensive weapon.

                • Jeff

                  I watched Junior Lake play SS on Sunday. He bobbled two plays and while you can try and blame the 105 degree heat, he doesn’t look as smooth in the field compared to Castro whom I watched play at the same level two years ago. I agree with Brandon AA, time for a move to third base, see if a power bat can develop there.

            • josh

              or candelario?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I think you better have some big bats in the outfield.

  • Jp

    Oh Brett, we dont want to hear there is nowhere to go to work around wrightsville beach… They have free WIfi at buffalo wild wings on college road, and my favorite place on Market street that’s called HOOTERS (located on Market st). Hooters staff is very knowledgeable about the menu and very friendly which makes up for the fact they’re not much to look at. Free wifi there too for all the fantasy football nerds like me

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You’re talking about places I’d have to drive to, though – this gig tends to require the need to write things *immediately.* I can’t be hopping in the car every time I have to write a post. That’s the prob…

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Have you ever looked into one of the cell phone data based mobile broadband devices?  I had to use one as my primary form of internet for awhile, and it worked out decently well.  If you went through one of the pre-paid providers, you may only need to pay for it in the months you are actually using it.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Not a bad idea. If my travel increases, that could very much be worth it. Thing is, most places have wi-fi these days.

          • MXB

            If you have an Android phone, you can probably root it and install cyanogenmod. This can allow you to use your Android phone as a hotspot

  • SirCub

    Which beach are you at, Ace? I’m assuming somewhere on the OBX.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett


    • Steve

      We Bleachernationites do NOT end our sentences in prepositions.

  • ETS

    Brenly was a little rough on Castro for that play. I wonder if he’ll comment further and back off some the comments he made.

    • rcleven

      Apologized to Castro after Rizzo came to him.

      • ETS

        Oh I guess I missed that. In my book Brenly’s a class act, but he isn’t afraid to lay into players or managers that he thinks is playing the game the wrong way. I like that.

        • Carew

          Brenly’s great. He knows baseball, he gives credit when credit is due, not afraid to tell it like it is, and he seems to have a lot fun in the booth

      • Cedlandrum

        Sveum apologized. I didn’t hear about Brenly

    • Sweetjamesjones

      Thought Bob was off this week? He is going to see his son play in Tennessee.

      • Seth

        He was, Todd Hollandsworth was calling the game last night with Len. I think ETS meant to say Sveum???

        • Gabriel

          no he wasn’t – it was Bob

          • Sweetjamesjones

            How was it Bob if he was on vacation in Tennessee.

            • Chad

              It was BOB calling the game last night.

            • art

              i was sure it was BB.

            • art

              i’m watching the replay now and it’s BB.

  • Cubbies4Life

    Last night’s game was awesome. And I’m daring to say these four words in the same phrase: Darwin Barney, Golden Glove. Someday. Hope he’s still a Cub when it happens.

  • Idaho Razorback

    Great quote Jp. That’s like saying I go to a gentlemans club because they have the best $13.00 bottles of water and there is a two drink minimum.

    • Cubbie Blues

      Or calling it a gentleman’s club.

      • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC


  • Eric

    Man Rizzo has a sweet swing. I could watch him hit all day, especially when he gets extended.

  • Steve

    I didn’t realize how big Rizzo is. Kinda has a Jim Thome look about him.
    That wouldn’t be too bad of a result…you know…

    • Carew

      Thome is one of the best hitters of all-time, during an era where good guys like Thome were hard to come by. I’m so glad i got to watch him play, even if it wasnt during his best seasons.

  • Toby

    Thome will always have the sweetest swing, left or right handed, I have ever seen. Every HR he hits just seems effortless. I’ll take a Thome-like career for Rizzo or even a Fred McGriff when he was in his prime.

    • Gabriel

      EVEN Fred McGriff?! Crime Dog was incredible in his day & he’s a borderline HOF candidate (if only he had 4 more HRs he’d be a shoe-in).

      If Rizzo becomes the Crime Dog, he will be a Godsend. If he becomes Thome….(drooling)…..RIZZOMG

      • Toby

        Even though he was at the end of his great career, I loved when he was traded to the Cubs. He is in my top ten favorite players of all-time. My list comes with a caveat which is that my list doesn’t really mean they were the best, but players that I liked following.

      • EB

        The Crime Dog deserves to be in the HOF in my opinion! He is at a disadvantage cause he put up only “good” power numbers during his day, while other steroid users were putting up huge numbers!

        • Toby

          I definitely agree with you. I’d also put Dale Murphy and Dwight Evans in that category.

    • hansman1982

      Flame me all you want but I LOVE LOVE LOVE Soriano’s HR swing. Just looks like he flicks the bat and…boom goes the dynamite

      • Carew

        especially on bombs like the one at Target Field

  • Steve

    How about hybrid mix….call him a McThome?

    • Toby

      I love it.

  • TC

    I actually wish he would just keep working on his curveball. It hasn’t looked good yet, but this season is lost anyway, so it’s the perfect time to work on something like that.

    If his curve were to reach average effectiveness, it could really help him out overall. He was throwing it mid-70’s which is a distinct third speed for him, and could really help his fastball and other secondary offerings look better.

    • hansman1982

      In a lost season you look to see what you have, not force something. If you have him throw something without success then you don’t know what you have other than a guy who can’t throw a curve. If he can be effective with his splitter, slider, fastball then you leave that the eff alone.

      • King Jeff

        Yeah, I think that they need to worry about him making it to 150+ innings and completing his first full season as a starter. Worry about adding new pitches after he’s proven he can be a rotation mainstay.

        • hansman1982

          ya, another component that is often overlooked is confidence. If you tell him to work on his curveball and he puts up a 9.00 ERA then his confidence his blown overall. If he can put up 150 IP this year with a 4ish ERA I think all parties should raise the W flag.

  • kirby

    Castro is the type of player Cubs fans would covet in years past…young, makes contact, makes great plays in the field, hustles on the bases, and very young-or did I say that already-so exciting to see how he projects/grows. So, he is in the Cubs’ organization and the fans take him for granted b/c of a powerful 1b? Seems fickle…He has to be locked up for the drought to come to an end-good article in the prospectus.

    • Cubbie Blues

      I’m not sure if it is necessarily that he is taken for granted, but that we expect it from him and more. His ceiling is so high everyone wants more. I know I still get excited everytime he makes a great play in the field. As for his bat? I am waiting on his power and patience. His patience may be coming around. It is a small sample size but he seems to have been taking more pitches of late. Is this a product of small sample size or is it a change in approach with the new hitting coach? Only time will tell. I for one am hoping for a change in approach.

      • 1908 Blues

        I was thinking the same thing, regarding his patience increasing lately. Then I was wondering if Rizzo’s presence was helping in that respect. Maybe taking some of the pressure to produce runs off of him.

        Small sample size but Castro has 4 of his 11 total walks since Rizzo’s promotion. That’s one more walk than hits in the same span.

        • Cubbie Blues

          It’s not Rizzo. He started taking pitches a week or two before Rizzo came up. I started noticing a couple of days after Jarimio (sp) was let go.

  • Steve

    At what age do you consider a player too old to be in the minors…24? 26?
    Castro is 22…and this is his 3rd year. It is hard, but PLEASE be patient with this kid. In 3 years, he very well could be the best player in the entire league.
    Castro is leaning very heavily on the “HIT”, instead of “miss” side IMO.

    • Richard Nose

      No kidding, 2-time All-Star at age 22? He takes way too much shit. If he only gets a little better I’ll be damn happy. Kid’s a stud and still 5 years away from being in his prime. Plenty of time, plenty of opportunity to go from one of the best 20 position players in the majors to one of the best 3 position players in the majors. If he’s not one of the top 3 position players in the entire league by age 23, I’m not gonna be mad at him. Dude’s legit. Junior Lake’s only 3 days younger and in AA. Hope the same people who blow Lake aren’t the ones bashing Castro.

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