The Cubs close out the nominal first half today, having returned to last place yesterday.
- Throughout the year, Dale Sveum has been appropriately tough on closer Carlos Marmol. The largest issue between them, early on, was Marmol’s reluctance to stick to the game plan, and to trust his fastball. Eventually, Sveum got through to Marmol, who started pitching well again. And then Marmol had a really terrible outing two days ago against the Mets. Does Sveum have harsh words for Marmol? Nope. He’s got Marmol’s back. Per Paul Sullivan: “I told Marmol today,” Sveum said, “‘Hey, don’t think too much into that [because] it wasn’t like you were all over the place. You were just missing on some sliders and things didn’t work out, but the bottom line is you got the out when you had to and jammed the guy and got a soft liner and fortunately we got a double play out of it. You still came back and made your pitches …. The bottom line is you threw the strikes when you had to.’ I told him on paper it didn’t look to good, but we’ve seen the other ones much worse than that. You can call it a hiccup, but the bottom line is we won the game and that’s all that counts.”
- Jeff Samardzija had another good start – at least relative to his miserable June – yesterday, and Dale Sveum is happy with the adjustments Samardzija is making. “We knew there were going to be some growing pains,” he said, according to the Tribune. “He went through them and keeps understanding how to do it three times through the lineup. [He can] settle down after something bad happens and regroup, like he did today. I have confidence in him.”
- Interim hitting coach James Rowson will get consideration for the full-time job after the season says Dale Sveum, though there has been speculation that the job is ticketed for Boston Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan, based on his connection with the Cubs’ new front office. The Cubs’ offensive numbers have been pretty much the same under Rowson as they were under Rudy Jaramillo, but it’s an incredibly small sample size.
- After the break, the Cubs’ rotation will go Dempster-Maholm-Garza-Wood-Samardzija, which is obviously a bit of a shake-up from the previous order (including Dempster pitching two starts in a row). The takeaway? The Cubs want their three tradable pitchers going first, obviously. And they want Samardzija going as late as possible to get him extra days off.
- Both Steve Clevenger and Dale Sveum were disappointed by the third strike call yesterday that ended the Cubs’ 3-1 loss to the Mets. Prior to strike three, Clevenger had taken two pitches in the exact same location, and both were called balls. Too close to take with two strikes? Maybe. But when the ump has already called the pitch a ball – twice – I can’t argue with taking it a third time.
- Deadspin highlights a peccadillo from the Daily Herald, which recently published a Cubs headline, “Not a total train wreck,” in the sports section of a daily whose front page headlines included one about an actual deadly train wreck. The greater sin? Since going behind a paywall before the season, the Daily Herald has almost completely vanished from the online conversation, taking Bruce Miles with it. A terrible shame.
- The official ground-breaking on the Cubs’ new Spring Training facility in Mesa is on Wednesday, and I’m sure it’ll be quite the ceremony. It’s exciting to see things getting underway, finally, and it’ll be a nice reminder that there’s still work to be done at Wrigley Field.
- A nice write-up on third base prospect Dustin Geiger, about whom you heard more this morning in the Minor League Daily.
- Adam Greenberg is featured on today’s ‘Outside the Lines,’ which I am recording. I can barely bring myself to watch it, because I still feel so bad for the kid.