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So, the family and I arrived in Northern Michigan for a few days with The Wife’s family, and as soon as I got up this morning, I realized I’d screwed up. You may recall, I did a caption contest late last week involving a Matt Garza picture, for which the prize was a couple bleacher tickets to this Thursday’s Marlins game. And what did I forget to bring with me? The freaking tickets. My fingers are crossed that I can call the box office today and they can figure out which tickets I bought using my information (I know that I need, like, the ticket ID number to have the tickets left at Will Call – but, without the tickets, I don’t have it). Otherwise, the winner – Juan Villalobos – is going to hate me forever.

  • Is this a compliment from manager Dale Sveum about Carlos Marmol, or a veiled concern? “It’s still throwing strikes when he has to,” Sveum said. “That seems to be what he’s been able to do. Sometimes the pitch count looks like it’s getting up but all of a sudden he’s getting some double-play balls or making the pitches when he has to and throwing the slider for a strike, throwing the fastball. As long as he’s throwing the strikes when he has to it’s all he has to do really.” So, throwing strikes, eh? Did you mention strikes? That Carlos should throw them? Some strikes? Maybe he should throw strikes.
  • It sounds like Ian Stewart is resigned to the fact that he won’t play again this season after undergoing wrist surgery to remove a bone fragment last week. “I feel like I’ll definitely be good to go for next year,” Stewart said. “If it ends up that I don’t play anymore this year then I guess I would take my normal kind of time off at the end of the year and then get back into this thing and rehab wherever I’m living in the offseason.” I’m sure the Cubs would like to keep Stewart next year, to see how the surgery pays off, but it remains very hard to see them tendering him a contract that would guarantee him something in the range of $2+ million for next year. That’s pretty expensive for a lottery ticket with relatively weak odds. I hope the Cubs are able to non-tender him, and bring him back on something closer to a one-year, $1 million deal.
  • Dale Sveum is loving on Darwin Barney (whom I wonder if he maybe reminds Sveum of himself), because “a lot of his hits have been big this year, whether they kept the line moving at just the right time or popping a home run.” In other words, Sveum says Barney is clutch. I don’t know about all that, but I do know that he’s been almost average offensively at second base, and way, way above average defensively. All for about $500K. That’s a very valuable player right there.
  • Matt Garza says his wife is due in 23 days, so he’s a little too preoccupied to worry about the trade deadline. He also says he used the All-Star break to refocus on his approach to taking down hitters, and he felt like the results showed yesterday.
  • Jeff Samardzija sayshe’d be bummed to see Ryan Dempster traded. ‘‘You need to learn how to play the game the right way, how to act around the clubhouse, how to treat the staff and the people you work with, and Demp’s all that to a T,’’ Samardzija said. ‘‘For a young guy like me, he was good to watch. You just kind of mimic what he does. I hope he sticks around. This is a business, and it’s the way things go, but it wouldn’t be cool, that’s for sure.’’
  • Anthony Rizzo’s teammates offer the young first baseman some love, at the plate, in the field, and in the clubhouse.
  • Kerry Wood is still hanging around Wrigley Field, but his involvement with the team is still pretty casual. Taking on a bigger, more formal role may have to wait a little bit – part of the reason Wood retired when he did was to spend more time with his family.
  • The MLBullets at BCB note Ben Sheets’ great first performance for the Braves. Might they decide he’s legit, and pull out of the starting pitcher trade market?
  • Nomar’s Left Glove

    Anyone else get the impression lately that Vitters is in the minors until Barney gets traded? They would then move Valbuena to 2nd and Vitters would take over third. I’m not sure that he has a lot left to prove at AAA.

    • Leroy K.

      No!!!! You can’t take everyone away from me! Arrghhh!!!

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      I think he’s in the minors until the AAA season ends regardless of what happens with Barney.

      • hansman1982

        ya, we still have to see if this is a permanent success or a fluke – plus it wouldn’t be bad to let him just mash at a level for a year.

    • Aaron

      According to Kevin Goldstein, they could be willing to give him a look even before end-of-the-season callups. Probably all depends on what shakes out with Barney, et al.

    • http://BeacherNation TobaccopouchinIvy

      While Vitters offense is improving, his defense still must become more consistent…2 throwing errors in the past two games, for example, will keep him at Iowa for awhile.

      • Nomar’s Left Glove

        That’s true. I’d hate to have to put up with errors at third, after all of those years of Gold Glove defense out of Aramis…

  • Cyranojoe

    Strikes.

  • Leroy K.

    Boy, Nobody wants to see Dempster go. I wonder how much his leaving is going to affect the team as a whole?

    • ETS

      I wonder if he resigns with cubs when the year is over.

      • ETS

        That should read Re Signs not Resigns….

        • Kubphan82

          He may resign to re-sign with the Cubs ;)
          To which I would be pleased.

        • Nomar’s Left Glove

          W stinks

          • Nomar’s Left Glove

            I mean We stinks

  • Cubbie Blues

    Samardzija needs to stop thinking of himself as a youngster. This is his 5th year in the majors. Yes, this is his first extended shot as a starter but he isn’t a young kid anymore. If he doesn’t know how to act in the clubhouse now … Also, he said that he “was” good to watch. Do they know something new? Or, has he just come to the realization that Dempster is gone?

    • andrew

      I read that quote as, when I was a young guy he was a fun guy to watch, so i think both of your concerns are misunderstandings.

      • Cubbie Blues

        After rereading his quote, I concede I could have taken it in the wrong vein.

    • JoeyCollins

      yeah i think he meant that more as he is a positive influence for the younger guys in the clubhouse, not necessarily himself. I do belive its a good time for shark to step up and be that guy so when we trade him in 8 years we have young guys who talk about how he was the one they watched in the clubhouse. And i think that “was” part was in reference to shark not needing that influence anymore and doing his own thing, not hes already gone.

  • JK

    Which means that the trade has to net a positive yield. Continued progress has got to be the perceived outcome.

  • Jackalope

    I agree with your thoughts on Stewart. It would nice to have a lefty-hitting veteran to compliment Vitters during his rookie season.

  • Diesel

    I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this but I think Marmol should throw strikes.

    • bluekoolaidaholic

      I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this either, but Marmol should go away.

  • hansman1982

    Also, Stewart tweeted last night that he is done for the year.

  • Mick

    If you were Ian Stewart, would you take a $1 million discount to sign back with the Cubs? It’s not like he’s netted A-Rod type money during his career. I bet there’d be a team that if we non-tendered him, signed him for around what his arbitration # would’ve been. It just seems too risky and shrewd considering the other risks we’ve taken (Concepcion, Soler, De La Rosa), our lack organizational depth at 3B, and our seem-to-be strategy of signing short-term contracts to “buy-low” and “sell-high” at the trade deadline. At least we’ll get the rest of the season to monitor his rehab to see if he makes any progress.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    what does Barney getting traded have to do with Vitters? For one I doubt Barney gets traded as he is proving himself worthy of being part of the foundation of this team going forward. Vitters can’t play second base. Valbuena can play second but I don’t see the FO messing with one of the major positives in this 2012 season. Some things you don’t mess with. Our middle infield is becoming one of the best in baseball. How many teams go years and years before finding what we have right now. I pray Theoyer is smart enough to hold this together. He can listen to requests all day and he should. But you don’t trade Barney unless somebody is willing to give you a very top prospect. Not a 5 – 10 guy either. The best defensive second baseman in the league who hits enough is GOLD.

    • Nick Pipitone

      Absoluetly brilliant comment. I totally agree with you that we are quickly becoming the best infield in baseball. Love “theoyer” too — never saw that.

    • Nomar’s Left Glove

      When gold prices spike, you sell gold. Plain and simple. If you have one hot commodity in a good defensive second baseman, and lack a hot commodity in decent prospects. You trade one for the other. It would seem that our organization has significant depth in meh-middle infielders (which, until his error-less streak started, was exactly what Barney was). Remember, up until recently Barney was discussed as an adequate back up, maybe a below-average starter, not a star. What do you do when a stock rises far in excess of its underlying fundamentals……you sell it high.

  • mpope30

    Brett – you can still leave them at will call. I did something similar last year. The phone number that worked for me was 800-352-0212. Hopefully you will have the same luck I had.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, pope. Got it done!

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    I don’t get the Darwin Barney love. Yeah, he’s a good defensive 2B. Great.
    He can’t hit!

    • Carew

      .265 is a decent average for a 7 or 8 hitter, and he seems to get the job done when you need him to, like what Sveum said.

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        And what about the important stuff, like OBP and power?

        • Carew

          His power is increasing but he wont be an Uggla type if thats what you want. But i do admit OBP could be higher

        • Ted

          SLG and OBP could be better, but he’s just so scrappy.

          • Shawn H

            They should listen to offers on Barney. That doesn’t mean they should trade him at this point. He is cheap and under team control. He is an average at best offensive player, but an elite defender. I think the Cubs will look to upgrade the position. But until they can find an upgrade, they are better off keeping Barney.

    • Whiteflag

      I would hate to see Barney go, but I also was sad to see Theroit leave. Those tears dried up really quick when he made all the comments about the cubs. I don’t see Barney pulling something like that if he is traded, but in time I would probably get over him as well.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    IMO Ian Stewart is not worth a Million dollars. I’ll talke Valbuena over Stewart. I don’t want to see him back so we have to watch him for another 1/2 season next year to find out if he is going to make it or not. Valbuena has already out produced him and I haven’t noticed any loss in defense at 3B. I cut my losses. Let him sign somewhere else or tell him he can sign for league minimum until he can prove his wrist is 100% then you can give him a new contract. Stewart is just a completely unproven commodity and you don’t sink money into guys like him with no gaurantee. Not when you got guys who are at league minimum like Barney and others who out play the guy all day long.

    • Whiteflag

      I still think on the right deal you bring him back. Stewart has more “potential” than Valbuena. I don’t think Valbuena will end up being a every day player. I like him on the bench. But like you said a million dollars is on the high end for me. How much will others team pay for a chance he reaches his potential?

    • Mick

      Money shouldn’t be an issue though with a sub-$90 million payroll and who backs up Valbuena? Stewart still has 2 seasons of team control after this year so what’s the rush in making a terminal decision on him. $2.2 million for a left-handed hitting 3B with power, a good glove, and in the prime years of his career is great value…..if he can stay healthy.

      • Whiteflag

        Another good point. Next year baker and/or Johnson should be gone. If he doesn’t pan out he could always be a great guy to have on the bench. It might even been good for him to have year to platoon before returning to the line up everyday.

      • Drew7

        Everyone does realize that Luis Valbuena is NOT a good player, right?

        Like, as in, you- never- start- a- season- with- Luis- Valbuena- in -the- starting- lineup-type bad…

  • SalukiCub

    Any thought of playing Ian Stewart at 2B next year? Especially if we deal Barney? I know he played 33 games there in Colorado. If finally healthy, he could provide alot of punch in the bottom of the lineup as a second baseman.

    • Jackalope

      Not sure how his defense projects at 2b, but the ability to play 2b and 3b would definitely increase his versatility.

  • MaxM1908

    Is anyone else getting pop-ups on the site today for a Jalyn drug? I’m getting these pop-up windows that comes down from the top ad bar and covers up the text. Worst of all, they have no close box. I alerted Brett to it (though I know he doesn’t have much control over the advertisements). I just wondered if anyone else is experiencing the same problem. If not, maybe my work network has an advertising virus.

    • Jackalope

      Yeah, kind of annoying.

      • MaxM1908

        I can’t believe they don’t have close boxes. Isn’t that illegal?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I sent you an email, but just so other folks can see: it appears not to be intended as an ad that covers part of the screen and then can’t be closed. It looks like it’s bad coding, which results in a glitch (because it looks really crappy, and I can’t imagine advertisers would want their ads looking like that). When it operates properly, there’s a little x in the upper left (hard to see) where you can close it out.

  • Nick Pipitone

    All the trade talk is interesting because it seems like just about everyone on the Cubs’ roster’s name has come up — yet it flies into the face of two competing realities. 1) The need to rebuild the farm system, which is real; and 2) Theo’s desire to stay competitive on the field. If all the rumors were true and we traded Garza, Dempster, Soriano, Barney, (who I would keep) DeJesus, Maholm etc. — who will we replace them with? Contrary to what the media might make you think this team is better than advertised.

    • Nomar’s Left Glove

      I firmly believe that reality 1) trumps reality 2) in this scenario. The truth is that Theo needs to SAY he wants to be competitive this year when, in fact, it is truly in the clubs best interest to trade almost the entire team, come in dead last, and get the number one overall draft pick next year. In baseball, with the draft system that it has, it is in teams best interest to either A) win it all, or B) come in dead last. Finishing anywhere in between means that you didn’t win this year and you didn’t get the best possible pick. Theo has to say that they want to be competitive because if he were to say “man, I hope we suck awful” no one will bother to go see games. It’s in his best interest to build a lovable loser team and fill the farm for the future.

      • Nick Pipitone

        This line of thinking is preposterous and assumes a couple of things — that all the teams who made the playoffs last year had a bad year and that the first pick in the draft is the be all end all. We know that both of these statements are untrue. The idea of “lovable loser” is and always has been an oxymoron; it is a term created by people who hate the Cubs and get off on insulting those of us who follow the team religiously. And I would not underestimate Theo’s quote from his first press conference “Every win is sacred” — he wants to build for the future but wants to win too. I think there is a way to build for the future and still be more competitive than we are.

        • Nomar’s Left Glove

          If you’ve followed the Cubs religiously, then you’ve seen the Cubs fall in to the middle of the pack year after year after year, all while having a farm system that produced very little.
          Of course, not every team that gets into the playoffs one year had a bad year immediately before that, that logic is preposterous. You talk to anyone in the Nationals organization, or the Rays organization and you ask them how much the last place (or near last place) years have netted them. I’m not sure what spot they were drafted in, but I would assume that neither Harper or Strasburg were picked later then 5.
          And yes, not all #1 draft picks turn out to be stars, some just turn out to be drug addicts that sober up before the Cubs rule 5 pick and ship them to the Reds for peanuts. The truth is that people who draft well, which the Cubs FO seems to do, typically draft pretty well with high picks. They have my faith in this regard.
          Seriously Nick, read Theo a bit less literally. It really is not in has best interest to win a lot this year. A year or two from now, sure wins are precious, but try and figure how many wins it would take for the Cubs to even make a run at a wild card team this year. Ask Theo what he’d rather have, a third place season or a Steven Strasburg-type pick.

  • gritsngravy

    It’s not fair to the fans who pay big money for tickets if the cubs “tank”. I want to see the cubs make moves to improve the farm system but I do not want to see a complete fire sale and trade away valuable commodities ie barney,castro, and garza. Garza should be moved only in the case that a team blows us away. We should not trade him just because it’s the thing to do. He is a proven pitcher with team control.

  • calicubsfan007

    I wouldn’t think too much more about the upton trade to chicago idea. Per MLB Trade Rumors.com, Cubs are one of the 4 teams on Upton’s list that he doesn’t want to be traded to. Along with the Yanks, Red Sox and Indians.

  • Bric

    Brett, because I despise Facebook I wasn’t able to enter the Garza contest for real (I couldn’t have used the tickets anyway) but did enjoy the 100 or so postings here just for fun. But I never saw (or erse I missed) the winning response. Can you do me a solid and replay the winner. Maybe even the top 5? Thanks, Ace!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yup, still figuring out how to display results. The winner – again, the winner was based on thumbs ups on Facebook, not my subjective opinion – was: “What do you mean you’ve never been to Cracker Barrel?!”

      • Bric

        Wow- That’s why I hate Facebook. But thanks for sharing it anyway. Enjoy the rest of your vacation. BTW- It was a fun way to pass on the tckts. BN rules.

      • Sandberg

        I know I posted it, but I still think the winner should have had some type of Cesar Izturis reference.

        • Nomar’s Left Glove

          What about a Niefi Perez reference?

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