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Josh Vitters gets his first start tonight, and Brett Jackson slides into the leadoff spot against a lefty at beautiful Petco Park.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (43-63) at San Diego Padres (46-64), 9:05pm CT on CSN.

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. You should participate in the madness. And, of course, for those who aren’t into message board-style game threads, please feel free to use the comments on this post for your in-game commentary/outbursts.

The Series Preview for this series lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Travis Wood (4-7, 4.90 ERA, 1.82 K/BB)

versus

Eric Stults (1-2, 3.19 ERA, 1.33 K/BB)

San Diego Padres Lineup

1. Chris Denorfia, RF

2. Logan Forsythe, 2B

3. Chase Headley, 3B

4. Carlos Quentin, LF

5. Yonder Alonso, 1B

6. Cameron Maybin, CF

7. Everth Cabrera, SS

8. Eddy Rodriguez, C

9. Eric Stults, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Brett Jackson, CF

2. Darwin Barney, 2B

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Alfonso Soriano, LF

5. Starlin Castro, SS

6. Welington Castillo, C

7. Josh Vitters(!), 3B

8. Joe Mather, RF

9. Travis Wood, P

  • Doc Evans

    I’m really not liking Castro in the 5-spot.

    • Dan

      Same.

      • Cheryl

        Why not give Castro a few days off and put Barney in at short. Let V play second and instead of Mather put in DeJesus.

        • Cheryl

          By V I mean Valbuena at second.Vitters would still be at third.

    • BFiddy

      I’m really liking Vitters in the lineup!

    • Danny Ballgame

      I’m really not liking the funk that he has been in lately.

    • jwilson

      I’m not looking Castro in any spot, when are purple going to start realizing his approach is horrid and inexcusable? His obp is.300!!! His strikezone is as wide as he is tall. I can’t stand watching him take ABs, so painful to watch that talent go down the toilet. Rizzo, there’s a guy that knows how to hit.

      • ferrets_bueller

        This. He needs to fix something. I hope he develops a better approach and stance eventually….

        • jwilson

          He’s going to Look like Jerome Walton, and we know how his career turned out.

          • Gabriel

            This is just as asinine conversation to have about a 2-time all star, 22-yr old SS with power/speed/defensive range who is still THE YOUNGEST PLAYER ON THE TEAM

            • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

              …And led the NL in hits at the age of 21. People can be ridiculous. No one seems to remember this and it needs to be stressed. The KID IS 22 YEARS OLD!!! Most 22 year old ball players are still in the minors! Like @Gabriel said, Starlin is the youngest player on the team. YES, EVEN WITH THE RECENT CALL UPS. God, these talks about Starlin are getting tiring. 22 years old. 22 years old. 22 years old! Lay off the KID and let him develop.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              You are dead on. Again, here are the numbers for Castro in the “core” outcomes:

              BB/PA
              Apr 0.032
              May 0.017
              Jun 0.044
              Jul 0.058

              K/PA
              Apr 0.149
              May 0.168
              Jun 0.186
              Jul 0.135

              XB/HB
              Apr 0.092
              May 0.074
              Jun 0.101
              Jul 0.095

              1B/HB
              Apr 0.303
              May 0.295
              Jun 0.225
              Jul 0.179

              The XB/HB and 1B/HB are the extra base hits and singles per hit ball. The only frequency here that shows a downward trend is the frequency of singles: and that largely reflects the proportion of OK hit balls that get through. XBH reflect how frequently you hit the ball well: and that has not changed. The BB and K rates have not changed much, and the BB rate actually has increased (albeit insignificantly). So, Castro is not swinging at pitches that he was taking and he’s hitting just as many balls well.

            • Cheryl

              Look, we all hope for the best for Castro. But he is not a kid anymore. He’s an adult. He is a young adult and hopefully will develop into one of the best ballplayers we’ve seen. But as an adult, who did enter the majors at a yourhful age and has many accomplishmets, he still has room for improvement. He does not know the strike zone as well as he could. He’s reluctant to take walks and is somewhat easy going in his approach at times. That doesn’t mean that we don’t appreciate the gifts he has.

              • TWC

                Cheryl, you do realize that your comments like “does not know the strike zone” and “reluctant to take walks” are not borne out by the facts, right? Especially during the recent “slump”, his K rate has decreased and his BB rate has increased. The ONLY reason his average has declined over the last month or two is that the GBs that normally find holes between defenders haven’t found those holes.

  • SplitFinger

    Can anyone give justification for not putting Rizzo clean-up?

    • BleedingCubbieBlue

      The better question is why is Castro in the 5th spot.
      Why not
      Jackson
      Castro
      Rizzo
      Soriano
      Castillo
      Mather
      Vitters
      Barney

      • SplitFinger

        I like that line except for Mather.

        • jwilson

          Why does it make sense to put Castro (or anyone with a.300 obp) ahead of any RBI/power hitter?

          • SplitFinger

            Well, the going theory is Castro is just in a funk. He will pull out of it. Is this true? Time will tell.

            • TWC

              It boggles my frackin’ mind that even after being booted from this place THREE times you worm your way back in to post this mindless drivel. I’m not sure if it’s psychotic, bit it is rather weird.

              • SplitFinger

                Yes, Castro is in a funk. How would you correct his swing?

              • Bric

                TWC (the man who controls the weather)- what’s up? Do we have another Better news sighting?

                • TWC

                  I see a storm a-brewin’…

                  • Bric

                    Weather Channel- old brother, you’re still the voice of reason on this ship in choppy waters.

              • jwilson

                I’m not sure if twc is referring to me, but if you are, I’m not sure about the boot thing, leather? Steel toe? Jodhpur? I leave emotion and hopes
                at the door. I’m saying it makes no sense to put a guy in the 2 spot that doesn’t get on base. Just like it didn’t make sense to put sori in the leadoff. When a potential superstar is involved, people refuse to accept criticism and get defensive like a grizzly protects her litter.

                • TWC

                  Yo, Wilson, baby: we cool. I’m not necessarily on the same page w/ you re: Castro, but I’ve got no problem with you expressing it. I’m referring to someone else.

                  • jwilson

                    K, TWC, nice. I’m going to buy a pair of boots, Frye like johnny drama perhaps. Go cubs.

                • SplitFinger

                  Yes!

              • truthhurts

                WTF…exactly what about that comment is wrong? does it not match your opinion? Oh I forgot, this is the kiss Brett and Luke A$$ website. They can never be wrong. Go ahead, disagree with them, and see how defensive they get.

                Good riddence to this site. (there are a bunch that give better info and more knowledgeable opinion.)

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  I am disagreed with almost daily. What you call “defensive,” I call conversation.

                  And, based on your comment, I’m going to trust myself on the definition.

                • SplitFinger

                  They have been wrong multiple times. You are right on the spot. Disagree with with Brett’s friends and you are out of the site!

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    The really unfortunate part is that I’m wrong all the time, and I admit it all the time. Some folks, however, can’t seem to see past their own nose.

                    • SplitFinger

                      Not true. I may have made an improper comment(did opologize) because I had felt insulted by the other party.

                  • Bric

                    As far as I recall, you got bounced because of a statement you made about Marlon Byrd’s tattoo. Something along the lines of “He’ll be doing jail time soon”.

                    When numerous people called you out for an ignorant statement you continued to try to justify it. It had nothing to do with being one of Brett’s friends. Brett- you can look it up, the article was written somewhere at the beginning of ST, maybe Feb. 17 or there abouts.

                    • SplitFinger

                      Yes. At the time I believed he was doing roids and more. I spoke my mind. It turned out he was doing what I thought and more. It was not an ignorant opinion. It did turn out to be fact.

                    • baldtaxguy

                      BetterNews
                      February 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Permalink | Reply

                      Why do I see cuffs around Byrds wrists in the near future?

                    • Drew7

                      …and making racist comments, and sexist comments, and bashing Ace on the Boys of Spring blog…

                • Flashfire

                  there are a bunch that give better info and more knowledgeable opinion.

                  I defy him to find one, let alone a bunch.

    • Austin

      Usually the #3 hitter is the Best hitter on the team. Example would be Albert Pujols.

      • Drew7

        Shouldn’t be the case, but it usually is.

        As much as it pains me to say this, here it goes: I agree with BetterJoeFinchFinger on Rizzo batting 4th.

    • Crazyhorse _best hitter

      Typical your third hitter hit is your best over hitter on the ball club. Rizzo hits for power with an above average batting average . I am glad that i was wrong about Rizzo he seems to be a solid player with a bright future.

  • Flashfire

    Long term his OBP his probably higher and his slugging probably lower than Baez — if he develops. So you’d want him 3 and Baez 4. May as well get him used to that. That’s my theory, anyway.

  • Lou Cub

    Why is Joe Mather playing?? He just doesn’t have it

    • SplitFinger

      Yes, it is mind boggling.

  • Cubs1967

    Vitters!!!!!!!!……….let’s go dale…….vitters and /or cardenas at 3b rest of year; no need for .195 valbuena anymore. Ryno would know better! Let’s go BJax!

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Actually, Ryno is the sort who starts good fielders over good hitters.

      • SplitFinger

        Doc, that’s a can of worms. You youself said errors and hits don’t equate.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          True, I did. And Valbuena’s fielding (which has been quite good) does not come close to making up for his lousy bat. However, Ryno seems to have slipped into that crowd that thinks that good fielders/bad hitters can prevent more runs relative to their rivals than they cost runs relative to their rivals. Valbuena would have to be catching everything hit to the SS and LFer to be doing that.

          • Turn Two

            Doc, I’m not disagreeing with you, I have not seen any games that he has managed. I also know that he of course put defense first when he played, so I am asking a legitimate question. What evidence makes you so sure he puts defense first managing?

          • SplitFinger

            Again, what is your take on Castro? Why the “plunge?”

  • cubzforlife

    I love the way Ryno played the game but how would he know better? And why doesn’ t he have a managers job if he does know better. Just asking. You may not love sveum but I see he has the boys playing real baseball. There’s no quit in this team Out talented most games, yes. But they play hard every game. Thats all Sveum.

  • RY34

    I smell sweep. Headley and Quentin will have three homers a piece in this series.

  • http://Eyecanseeinc.net LeotheCub

    Slowly getting a look at new Cubs era
    Vitters at 3rd
    Castro at SS
    Barney at 2nd
    Rizzo at first
    Jackson at center
    Some of the recent draft picks and Cuban in RF and LF
    Upgrade catching or Wellington really takes it to a higher consistent level
    + continual upgrading of pitching and bench
    Sounds like a plan!

  • nkniacc13

    Can we just get rid of Lahair since they aren’t going to play him

    • Cheryl

      I agree.

    • Carew

      I bet they are trying…

    • RY34

      nobody wants lahair, if the dude played every day he would obliterate the single season strikeout record.

  • ferrets_bueller

    Just started putting together a hypothetical lineup, and was struck by the sudden lefty-ness of the Cubs. Holy Crap.
    Was going to go

    DeJesus
    Jackson
    Rizzo

    but…that just asking for a top lefty to neutralize.

    But…
    DeJesus
    Castro
    Jackson
    Rizzo
    ….do we really want Rizzo #4 instead of #3, and Jackson at #3?

    DeJesus
    Castro
    Jackson
    Rizzo
    Soriano
    Vitters
    Castillo
    Barney
    Pitcher

    • Carew

      What would your lineup be when DeJesus and Soriano aint around anymore? They would be the most likely starters to be moved next…I’m really thinkin future haha

    • SplitFinger

      Not sudden. Been in the works for 3/4 years I think.

    • J R

      I would go BJax, Castro, and then Rizzo. This is IF BJax can keep that OBP around .340. But in my opinion that would be ideal.

  • Brian in San Diego

    I am at the game tonight sitting in leftfield box. Watch me catch a homerun with bare hand and throw strike to the 2nd base. lol

    • SplitFinger

      Keep dreaming Pudre!

  • Kevin

    Unless I missed something what was the REAL reason Dempster had a brain fart?

  • CubFanBob

    occupation

  • Turn Two

    I realize the Garza situation is souring the moods, but we are about to see a lineup with Jackson, Vitters, Castro, Barney, Rizzo and Castillo. The tearing down and starting young that so many have waited for is in full swing tonight, with 6 guys that potentially could be in the plans for many years, all is not sour.

    • anotherjp

      I have to believe the young guys are real fired up to be playing together in the majors and will be busting their nuts to show what they’ve got. Lot of these guys had plenty of minor league games together and are probably having the time of their lives right now.

    • baldtaxguy

      Agree. Fun to watch

  • Internet Random

    In re “Cripple Fight!”… greatness, Bert.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Easter Eggs, FTW.

  • Dan

    Let Go BJax and Vitters! Make us Cubs fans proud.

  • Dan

    Random Thought Here. Cubs fans have nicknames such as RizzOMG, BJax, Shark, etc.

    Does Vitters have a nickname?

    • calicubsfan007

      @Dan: Jitters Vitters?

      • SplitFinger

        What’s your take on Vitters Bro?

        • calicubsfan007

          @SplitFinger: I actually like Vitters, I am just taking the moniker the Cubs announcers used yesterday. “Vitters Jitters”

          • Mick

            That’s a clown question bro

          • calicubsfan007

            *Sigh* Not this argument again… *Putting ice on forehead*

            • calicubsfan007

              Come on guys, can we stop with the bloody back and forths? I am on no one’s side here and I have no problem with people speaking their minds, but this is getting incredibly ridiculous. WE ARE ALL CUBS FANS!!!!

              • SplitFinger

                That’s right. We are all CUBS fans.

  • Joel

    For the record, I dont like Vitters hitting so low in the lineup with no protection. Pitchers will pick him apart with no protection. Hopefully his confidence will not dive into the basement for god knows how long

  • Rebuilding

    Am I wrong for starting to warm to Keith Moreland on the radio?

    • calicubsfan007

      @Rebuilding: Eh, I think it is a forgiveable offense. (;

      • Rebuilding

        Wasn’t a fan at first. But he and Pat Hughes are pretty solid. I like Kasper/and Brenly fine but I’m surprised how good Moreland has become

        • ProfessorCub

          I’m still not sold on Moreland. He seems like a likable guy and all, but his flow is, well….he has no flow. I’m also annoyed at all the mispronunciations. I don’t hate the man – I just wished we had someone better (who had a more “colorful” personality).

          • calicubsfan007

            @ProfessorCub: Maybe Moreland has a face for radio? (;

            • ProfessorCub

              …and a voice for silent movies.

              • calicubsfan007

                @ProfessorCub: Nice. Makes me think of that Family Guy episode when Peter is a Charlie Chaplan-esque actor, then to hear his voice in the regular sound movies was similar to Bobcat Goldwaith.

        • Doug Dascenzo

          I think Pat being the pro that he is makes Moreland seem better.

  • Kevin

    Any progress in renovation plans? Seeing the Cubs will not be competitive for a few years, don’t you think now is the time?

  • Flashfire

    It would appear they’ve already found the hole in Mr. Jackson’s swing.

    • Joel

      Considering his high K rate, probably isn’t that hard to find

    • Drew7

      Better get used to it. The positive? He’s seen 14 pitches in his 2 PA’s.

      • Turn Two

        Exactly what I was thinking. Between him and Barney batting 2- pitchers are going to go through a lot of their arsenal before the bigger hitters.

        • SplitFinger

          Who exactly are our *bigger* hitters? Just asking.

  • calicubsfan007

    Random Pic Time! This is my somewhat shoutout to Master Dan!
    http://www.funinstore.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/facebook.jpg

    • calicubsfan007

      Whoops! Sorry! Here is the pic!
      [img]http://www.funinstore.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/facebook.jpg[/img]

  • SplitFinger

    Ha!

  • Rizzofanclub

    My 2 cents, I want the lineup to be Bjax,Castro,Vitters,Rizzo,Soriano,Dejesus,castillo/clevanger,Barney. I just want to see what Vitters can do with pitches to hit.

    • SplitFinger

      What about soriano in the 1 slot again and Bjax at the 5 slot?

  • Josh

    Brett Jackson is 0-3 with 3 K’s….Ouch

    • anotherjp

      Jackson says he’s going to work his butt off to become a better player. Might as well get started tomorrow, his Ks are going to derail any chance he has to stay in the show.

      • Flashfire

        There’s no way they send him down after this. He gets 2 months to learn and see what he can do. But, this certainly isn’t not helping make the case he’s the CF next year. (Meanwhile, Logan Watkins walked 3 times today.)

        • anotherjp

          If Rizzo can get sent down so can BJax. He’ll have his cup of coffee and if Jackson isn’t cutting it by the end of spring training next year he’ll be back in Iowa. But Sveum really likes him and will give him an opportunity to succeed this year.

      • Josh

        That’s what I like to hear. Rizzo was called up last year and struggled. Then he said the same thing and used the offseason to improve greatly and many aspects of his game and we have already seen the difference in play.

    • JP cubed

      Kjax

  • Oswego chris

    Travis Wood might be a better hitter than pitcher

  • Dan

    Love it.

    Vitters to Rizzo. OUT!

  • willis

    The Jackson haters are chomping at the bit…go ahead. Golden sombrero deserves ripping.

    But it’ll get better. I…hope?

    • Drew7

      I don’t know about that. I think most of the Jackson-skeptics are sensible enough to wait much longer than 9 PA’s.

      • willis

        I would hope so, but so many are ready to pounce on this call up as a mistake, I can just see them salivating.

        • Drew7

          Well, know that at least one will reserve judgement:)

      • TWC

        But but but but his K% is 56%! DFA his frackin’ ass ASAP!

  • Mick6x

    BJax 4 pa’s 4 k’s

  • willis

    The Cubs may not win 10 more games the rest of the way. Especially with Garza gone away for awhile. I would take the under if the line was 15. This is going to be a rough ride folks.

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