For the second night in a row, there isn’t a whole lot of “good” to take away from the Cubs’ game. Brooks Raley had a rough debut, the young bats struggled, and the Cubs lost once again to the Padres. At least Josh Vitters got his first hit, a pinch-hit, two-run double.

  • magilljl

    Small sample sizes and all that, but 9 k’s in B-Jax first 3 MLB games? Yikes. Let’s get through this west coast stand so I can stay awake to watch the madness….although I’m not sure I want to, but I will.

    • magilljl

      8 k’s I guess… but still, like, wowzers

  • RY34

    another great performance to write home about but i digress, now is not the time to concern ourselves with wins. all about development now and not crushing these guys confidence by our continue woeful play!

  • OlderStyle

    I suppose San Diego knows how to pitch to Rizzo. What is up with Castro, though?

  • Stu

    Has to be something fundamentally wrong with B-Jax approach to hitting. Maybe that’s the point to having him schooled at the major league level.

    Rizzo got the treatment last year and put it together at AAA this year. Simplified his swing. Quieted all of the unnecessary movement.

    Does anyone have an idea as to what B-Jax is doing?

    • Luke

      Jackson is a patient hitter who works deep into counts, but that also means he faces a lot of pitches with two strikes on him. He either needs to shorten swing and protect the plate with two strikes (sacrificing some of his power), or be a little less patient and attack more pitches earlier in the count.

      • baldtaxguy

        I vote for both. I’m sure he will get a plan, approach to follow, and will show progress as games go along. He really looks comfortable at the plate and looks to have very good swing fundamentals (layman’s eye). I’m optimistic he will get it, and it appears he will get every opportunity to do so.

        • Crockett

          Or Jackson needs to be better at putting the bat-on-ball, which he is not good at.

          His flaw is not length of swing or going to deep counts. It is simply putting the ball on the ball. He’s always been bad at it (like Adam Dunn) and he will continue to be bad at it…it’s one of the few skills that really doesn’t improve.

          People have been saying this for years and yet Cub fans seem to think this is something that can magically improve.

          His K rate (8 per 3 games) might seem high, but remember 175 K in 600 PA would be LOWER than his AAA K rate from this year.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      This partly repeats Luke, but BJax’s approach is fine. He’s selectively aggressive, waiting for pitches he can hit hard and then trying to drive the ball.

      The problem is BJax’s execution: his contact skills are not great.

      • Frank

        At this point, an understatement of nearly Biblical proportions.

  • DCF

    BJax clearly improved from 4 SO the day before to only 3 SO yesterday. At this pace, he probably won’t strike out ever again after this week.

  • Master Dan

    I thought rookie pitchers debuting are suppose to pitch effectively. Definitely not a good sign for Raley. I understand now why the Cubs were kicking the tires on Lowe. About the woeful hitting, well hitting a baseball has got to be one of the hardest things to do if not the hardest in any sport. What concerns me though is how Ohlendorf can pitch so well against the Cubs with a high ERA. I’d tip my hat if the Cubs were going against Weaver or Sale, but Ohlendorf? ugh…

  • JP cubed

    Wow, Kjax has 7 K’s in his last 7 official at bats. He did however sprinkle in a walk in there. I’m still a huge supporter of his but damn big guy, you’ve made the show so just relax a little bit and enjoy yourself.

  • fortyonenorth

    While not the second coming of Justin Verlander, Raley didn’t look as bad as the box score reflects, IMO. He was throwing strikes and getting outs. If you back out a few cheap hits and a few bad pitches, it’s a different story. Of course, that’s not how the game works.

    • Kyle N

      I thought the biggest problem was getting behind in counts. He changes that it could have been a different story. If you think about it the first 4 runs he gave up were on swings with a 3-2 count. He had to throw a strike. I would rather see him give up a base hit than walk in a run. But I think if he gets ahead in counts it could go well, he was pretty good at getting people to swing and miss.

      side note- I really like his delivery, looked pretty deceptive, hid the ball well.

      I hope he gets another start.

      • fortyonenorth

        Not enough confidence in his stuff – especially when he loaded the bases. He was afraid to get it over the plate, which led to those 2-0, 3-1 counts. Then, of course, he got smacked around. Overall, I liked what I saw in terms of raw potential.

        • RY34

          typical problem with most cub pitchers!

  • ichabod

    i think i just thru-up in my mouth a little bit.

  • Fishin Phil

    How ’bout that bull pen!!

  • Stu

    So what I hear about BJax is that he is too aggressive with 2 strikes and maybe not aggressive enough with less than 2 strikes,

    Since he is not an Adam Dunn type player, why have the minor league “instructors” not pointed that out to him? He is not a 40 HR player, so put the ball in play when the pitcher has 2 strikes. Slow the swing down and concentrate on the bat meeting the ball.

    I know you new school, sabermetric guys love to rationalize strikeouts, but no way is BJax going to make it with less than 20 HRs and greater than 30% strikeouts. The Cubs will set the record for fewest runs scored in a season. It is important to score runs, isn’t it Theo?

    • Brett

      Sabermetric types would agree that he’s not going to make it with a greater than 30% K rate, for what it’s worth. In fact, sabermetric types were the first ones to point out that looming issue.

      • Jonski

        I take it you have a interest or knowledge in sabermetrics…Im trying to wrap my head around it a bit to confusing.I think it can be help full as long as its not the only tool to judge players at least in terms of drafting.

        • dabynsky

          I think that is the important thing to remember (and why I am such a fan of this front office) is that sabermetrics is just one tool to analyze players. Scouting is very important esepecially when it comes to players farther away from the majors, but the problem with Brett Jackson is that the standard things that cut down on strike outs make him less valuable. If he is just trying to avoid strikeouts he will see less pitches and hit for less power.

    • Drew7

      BJax hit 25 HR in his near-full season in AAA. He has plenty of power, the same approach, and same struggles with contact as Dunn.

      • Kyle

        If Brett Jackson had Adam Dunn’s power, it’d be a little easier to take. 25 HRs in the PCL isn’t bad by any stretch, but it’s not comparable to Dunn. Dunn hit 20 in 55 games in a more pitcher-friendly AAA.

        • Jonski

          Well the jury is out ,but it looks like your right about Jackson,but were slightly off on Rizzo still to early to tell.My question is this how far down the prospect list does Jackson go outside of 50 outside of a 100 ?

          • Kyle

            He’s not a top-100 prospect at this point for most people.

            • Luke

              Jackson may have a fight on his hands to stay in my Top 10 over the winter. That says more about who the Cubs have added since last winter than it does about Jackson’s struggles, though.

              • Kyle

                After No. 4 (Vizcaino), there’s a bit of a mass of guys who are all pretty equal, and you could plausibly make a case for any of them to be No. 5 or No. 15. Jackson’s in that mass and slipping fast.

                It’s not that unusual, I guess. Prospects flame out. Brett Jackson: welcome to the 60% of top-100 prospects who never become MLB regulars.

            • Jonski

              What a shame …so maybe he is t a 4th outfielder or (role) player on a good team.The thing that really sucks is he has know real value now.

        • dabynsky

          I agree that he is going to have problems generating enough offense to be a major league regular if the strikeout remain high, but there are two things in BJax’s favor in comparison to Adam Dunn. First Jackson plays a tougher defensive position well which means his offensive contributions can be lower, and because of his speed he is likely to hit for a higher BABIP than Dunn. Those things don’t mean that Jackson will be a regular, but it doesn’t mean that Jackson has no shot at it either.

    • Kyle

      Sabermetric types, as it has been mentioned, have been pointing out the concerns with Jackson’s K’s for a long time.

      The basic idea is that K’s don’t matter much in terms of the value that a hitter brings to the table, but they mean a lot in predicting how well a player can sustain his value when being promoted. If you can strike out 33% of the time and still have an .800 OPS, then you are valuable despite your strikeouts. But if you are striking out 33% of the time in AAA and have an .800 OPS, I’m going to expect you to do worse at the next level than a guy with the same AAA OPS but fewer Ks.

      I don’t think “aggressiveness” or whatever has anything to do with it. It’s not a matter of mindset, it’s a matter of ability. He lacks the ability to hit certain types of pitches (breaking balls in the strike zone, especially), but it didn’t matter in the lower minors because pitchers weren’t capable of throwing those pitches to him consistently. AAA pitchers began to, and now MLB pithcers are abusing it.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        I suspect that the statheads seem contradictory on Ks because we talk about both ends of the distribution being bad. Low Ks sound good, but they almost always accompany low OBA and low slugging: the most common way to avoid Ks is to slap the first hit table pitch into play. That makes you the BABiP goddess’ pregnant canine: and as Starlin Castro can testify over the last month, you do not want to be there. It’s not that the Ks are “good” as individual outcomes, but that they are a probable outcome of approach+skill that maximizes good individual outcomes.

        At the other end, K’ing 25+% of the time means so little contact that unless the guy is hitting 30+ HR and drawing 90+ walks, he’s not going to creat enough runs to be better than league average. In other words, Ks reach a point where they themselves reduce good outcomes.

  • Steve

    I hear that Jackson swings at a lot of pitches and the bat misses the ball. I’m still mulling this over, so when I come to a conclusion I’ll get with you all.

  • Ric Flair

    any chance of castro reaching 200 hits this year? I doubt it since hes been absolutely terrible since the all star break.

    • Pat

      He needs 81 hits in 54 games, or 1.5 per game. At this point it is pretty unlikely unless he goes on an absolutely monster run soon.

    • Myles

      He’s on pace for 178.5, so i doubt it.

      He has to average 1.5 hits per game from here on out. He averages 4.28 AB per game, so 1.5/4.28 = .351 BA from here on out to get to 200. There’s almost no way that happens, unless he a) walks even less than he does now (I hope not), b) the Cubs explode offensively (if he gets 4.5 AB per game, he has to hit .333. If he gets 4.8 AB per game, it’s a manageable .313), c) he gets put at the 1 hole and does slightly better (for the same reasons as b), or d) his BABIP gets crazy lucky in his favor (which would prove nothing ability-wise).

      I’ll be very, very honest. I’m extremely disappointed in Castro’s offensive development this year. Hitters with a 3.9% walk rate that are productive simply don’t exist in the majors. The less likely a player is to walk, the less likely that player is to get better pitches to hit, and he has to protect so many more spots around the plate as a result. Why throw Castro strikes when he’ll put balls in play (even if they aren’t strikeouts, though he whiffs 16% of the time too). He’s great and getting contact on the ball, but he needs to learn that taking pitches will get him better pitches to hit, which in turn will raise his BA anyway. If he can’t learn that (and I’m CERTAINLY not saying he can’t, he’s still 22), he’ll never be more than an average baseball player.

      It’s not all bad for Castro this year; he’s vastly exceeded the learning curve defensively. By nearly any measure he’s not just average, he’s well above it. He gets to way more balls than the average shortstop and converts just as many of them to outs, and the fact that he was so many errors is actually a bonus, because he gets so many chances to make them (and I bet a less rangy/strong shortstop would have half the errors he has). I just wanted him to learn to be more patient this year, and instead, he’s actually regressed in every area of significance. He has fewer P/PA (.33 fewer, jesus) and swings at more balls.

  • Eric

    I’m not too upset about Jackson. I don’t see him as having a future with the Cubs. I AM hoping he creates some value for himself for trade purposes.

    However, I simply do not see the value of having Vitters ride the bench in favor of Valbeuna.

  • The Dude Abides

    Unwatchable team and doubtful if more than three maybe four guys from last night’s lineup are starters in two years for any team but the Cubs. Theo has everyone tuning in daily for an expansion team drunk with the idea that every veteran must go for whatever he basically can get. At some point soon hopefully the fans will react and want to see major league caliber players on the field because last I checked we are paying major league prices for tickets, concessions, etc. and that isn’t going lower on any owners watch especially Ricketts.

    The next twelve months should be interesting, everyone is so used to dumping players and chatting up AA and lower players like they are days away from contributing. When Theo has finally purged the entire team hopefully we will then see phase ll. That would be him focusing on putting a major league competitive team on the field while all of the low level minor leaguers develop in about three or four years. So far so good but eventually even a team that sales losing better than anyone will have to come up with something.

  • TheJDawg

    Whats up with Castro? He has been brutal since the ASB.

    For a guy who claims he is a .300 hitter, he is down at the low .270’s now. I’ve seen more O’fers lately for him than hits.

    I have a feelign losing 6 of 7 per week will probably be the norm for the Cubs from here on out. If not 7 of 7.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Castro’s problem has been an appallingly low proportion of batted balls falling in for singles. His XBH rate has not dropped. So he likely is hitting the ball well at the same frequency as before. His K rate is the same and his BB rate has marginally increased, so he likely is not swinging at a greater proportion of bad pitches.

      I.e., Eris hates him lately…..

  • Stu

    Just trading away veterans for high upside prospects can’t be the whole strategy. You can’t fill the stands with a bad product on the field for the next 2-3 years. Not at the some of the highest ticket prices in the Majors.

    I hope that in the off-season they look at more Maholm/DeJesus type signings to bridge the gap before the next “wave” of talent arrives.

    • Flashfire

      There probably will be another Maholm type signing — with the same intention of flipping him at the deadline. We need talent — and the inability to move Dempster and Garza for quality players only underlines how desperate the situation is.

      • Jonski

        1 that comes to mind right out of the gate is Marcum if his medicals check out and he doesn’t have to go under the knife for his ailing elbow.Baby him just like you did with Maholm at the start of the season .When the Cubs get close to trade deadline increase his innings to move him providing the Brewers don’t resign him .

  • anotherjp

    I’m hoping Vitters gets the same chance to succeed (or fail) that Jackson does. Really like the way he’s improved his game this year.

  • paul

    maybe 2015 for a good cub team I hope….. Jim H happy to be in new york I bet