To put into perspective just how hilariously, unambiguously terrible the Astros are: the Cubs’ 2-11 record over their last 13 games is *better* than the Astros’ record over their last 42 games (6-36).

  • Jeff Samardzija is just shy of 140 innings on the year after a seven inning, 100+ pitch performance last night. As a guy who pitched out of the bullpen for the most part over the last couple of years, and as a guy whose arm could be quite important to the Cubs in the near future, you can understand the Cubs wanting to take caution in how Samardzija is managed over the final month and a half of the season. Frankly, I’m not crazy about him throwing back-to-back 100+ pitch outings after he’s already pushing his career high in innings pitch, but I know it’s too early to completely shut Samardzija down. I do, however, think it’s time to start pulling off the gas. And, I’m told that the newly-constructed baseball development department (from the very top) generally has a philosophy that they don’t like young arms to exceed certain innings limits in the course of a season, particularly as they stretch themselves out over the years. You may have noticed a number of the Cubs’ starting pitchers in the minors – particularly those more recently drafted – throwing just a couple innings in their outings. I suspect we’re going to see a similar throttling of Samardzija’s innings/appearances. It probably won’t be a full-on shut down, like the Nationals with Stephen Strasburg, who is in his first full season post-Tommy John surgery, but will instead be a gradual reduction until he’s shut down in the final couple weeks of the year. I’m fully on board.
  • From Samardzija’s perspective, he understands the need to protect his arm, but he also wants to show he can keep it up deep into the season. “It’s my first year starting so I want to show this staff I can pitch late in the year and pitch deep into games late in the year,” Samardzija said, per ESPNChicago. “It’s a big proving year for me so just trying to cover all my bases with showing them I can be the guy that they want me to be …. I think we’ll see toward the end of September where we’re at but I take a lot of pride in finishing strong. I’d really like to take this season and look at it in different parts and see when I struggled there in June and to bounce back was big. It would be nice to bounce back with finishing strong with these last six or seven starts we have.”
  • Dale Sveum used to say that he thought Darwin Barney should be in the running for a Gold Glove this year, but now there’s no more hedging. “Right now there’s no doubt in my mind he should win the Gold Glove,” Sveum said. “I know there are other guys out there that have done good jobs but I’d hate to see anybody that’s done a better job on every facet of the game. It’s hard to think anybody’s better at pop ups down the right field line …. People forget about the way he goes after those. Turning the double play, he’s been unbelievable. It’s not just making errors or not having any errors. It’s the range he’s showed, the ability to have everything in his tool box going to his right, going to his left.”
  • Sveum said the move to recall Michael Bowden from Iowa and bolster the bullpen has a lot to do with the number of appearances by James Russell and Shawn Camp, each of whom are in the top four in the NL in appearances. I don’t disagree with giving each of them a break, but, like, is Bowden really going to get into a game late when the spot otherwise would have gone to Camp or Russell? Heck, even last night, Sveum brought in Russell in the 8th inning of a 6-1 game against the Astros. Seems like that would have been the perfect time to give Russell a night off, eh?
  • Don’t forget to sign up for this week’s one-day fantasy contest (which runs on Friday). It’s free, fun, and you can win cash. All of these are wonderful things.
  • terencem

    I’m just going to be the jerk here an point out he threw 141 innings in 2007 and 127 innings in 2006 between Notre Dame and minor league ball. Sure, he hasn’t done it recently, but I’m the type of person who also believes that workloads are unique to the pitcher. If he starts to get a little sore in his shoulder, then sit him down. If he starts to get a little tingle in his elbow, then sit him down. Otherwise, I’m fine with him showing baseball what he can do this season.

    • terencem

      That’s not meant as a rebuttal to Brett, just as my opinion on the idea that you have to be ultra-cautious with pitcher workloads.

    • Scotti

      Waiting until a guy is “sore in his shoulder” or “feels a tweek” is the wrong approach. Pitching is no different then any other form of intense workout. You need to build up to max reps and, if you havn’t been a gym rat for a number of years, you need an individually designed program that allows your muscles, tendons and even bones to heal between workouts–a graduated program that includes longer periods of rest.

  • MoneyBoy

    Couldn’t be more right Brett! The 8th inning of a “blowout” (5-1 lead … blowout only used vs Astros!) would have been a great time to give Bowden an inning!! For that matter, “The Ghost” (LCast) could have made a Rule5-saving cameo in the 9th. shrug

  • Jack Weiland

    Ad up top right now for Depends. Is that a statement about the 2012 Chicago Cubs??

    • RoughRiider

      No. That add was directed at you. Adds , for the most part, are based on the individual browsing history of each computer. Sorry to let the cat out of the bag.

      • Ron Swanson

        Ha Ha…hang in there Jack.

      • BeyondFukudome

        I guess that means that you are seeing some ads for schools that teach spelling right about now, eh?

    • Leroy

      yeah being in England I get adverts telling me to join the British National Army all the time—even though I’m in the American Army 😉

  • Leroy

    On another note, Good for Barney- I’m proud to wear his jersey. Very very pleased with how well he’s playing—Hope the Cubs hold onto him for a while….or trade him for that piece that will win us the series in 2015.

  • Patrick G

    Why is it that everyone wants/wanted to trade Garza? Is it because he can bring in major prospects or because the Cubs don’t think he’ll be as effective due to his age when they think they will be relevant? If the latter is the case, why wouldnt they want to trade Samardzijia since he’s only a year younger? I know he wouldn’t bring in prospects like Garza since hes not as proven, but why was he so called “off limits”? I think they should keep both and build a solid rotation around both, if not, might as well trade both

    • Brett

      There is a belief that, while Samardzija’s actual age is 27, because he didn’t focus on pitching much when he was younger, his arm is more like that of a mid-20s guy.

      That said, I have always thought there was a little disconnect between the perceived plan to deal Garza and keep Samardzija, as though doing each thing was so obvious.

      • hansman1982

        I don’t think there is much disconnect there at all. Garza is established and his value to other teams = his value to the Cubs. With Samardjiza since he isn’t established his value to the Cubs is greater than his value to other teams. Now if this was his 3rd season starting and he was pitching as a solid 3 man, then I would be scratching my head as to why we aren’t willing to deal him.

        • Brett

          That’s a great point, but teams trade for potential all the time, even if that potential has flashed itself for only one season. They even trade big-time prospects for it.

          I’m not saying trade Samardzija, I’m just saying I’m not convinced his value in trade isn’t as high as Garza’s. I think it probably is. Maybe more.

          • Flashfire

            I would agree — and what it probably says is that Theo and Jed like Shark’s long term potential substantially more than Garza’s, otherwise it doesn’t make sense to force the latter out of town while making the former untouchable.

      • MichCubFan

        The difference between them is what they have done in the majors and how much money they make.

    • Chris

      While the ages are close enough, I think the feeling is that Garza would be too expensive at a time when they will not compete, thus wasting big money on a good pitcher for a last place team. Samardzija will not make big money for a few more seasons at least. Additionally, despite the closeness in age, Samardzija has much less wear and tear on his arm, from playing football and being in the bullpen. And, the slight difference in age means that Garza would probably be out of his prime years when they are competing for the playoffs, and Samardzija will be right in the middle of his prime years. You could also factor in that given each of their body types, Garza will eventually start to lose some of the mph on his fastball, and Samardzija will hold his a little longer. Lastly, Garza would have brought the most impact players in any deal made, given he’s the most valuable player on the team. With the injury questions going into the offseason, it’s more likely that Garza starts 2013 in Chicago. Teams will want to see that he’s healthy, and they’ll be offering less because there is no second year of control left on his contract. He might be more valuable to hold onto until the deadline, or at least until he’s proven healthy. And it’s not like they have a ton of innings eaters. I’d rather see Germano be the swing guy in the bullpen next year than one of the regular starters. Having Garza will allow for that.

  • Fastball

    Chris, I don’t by the Garza would be too expensive line of thinking. The Cubs have all the money they need to have a Garza on their roster going forward. I don’t know what people believe the payroll should be going forward. But anything less than $100 M means that the Cubs management and ownership are taking the hard working fans $$ and bank rolling it. I’m not saying we need to overpay anyone on the field. I’m saying we are a VERY Large Market Team. Cubs have like 3rd highest ticket prices in baseball. I will give them the we are rebuilding excuse for 2 years and that’s it. Sorry for the short window but spend some money on the product you are putting on the Major League field of play. I am all for building the farm system the right way. After this year almost all the bad contracts are off the books. Soriano isn’t going anywhere so that contract stays. The payroll is going to be ridiculously low going into next season. Back to my point and I apologize for the rant. We can afford Garza all day long and we can afford 2 or 3 more just like him all day long. I’m not concerned with Ricketts check book as much as I am with the quality of players we have on the field. Our pitching pretty much sucks. We don’t have an ACE or one even in sight. Shark, Garza are 2 and 3 pitchers, Wood is a 4 or 5 and that’s all we got. Our bullpen is worse. I don’t count Camp because he came off the scrap heap and has been serviceable. On most clubs his a mop up pitcher at best. Russell is about the same maybe a little better because he is lefthanded. Marmol is doing a good job now. The rest are anything but reliable or quality. These area’s are the biggest concerns. IMO we should be doing Major upgrades with our bench players and Outfielders. Mather – come on he’s not making 95% or ML rosters. We over rate our players because we are Cubs Fans and thats what we do. We have a lot of bright spots but we need a whole bunch more and we are getting ripped off by Ricketts right now when we buy a ticket to a game IMO. They could have done more A Lot More. They get a pass from me on this season and a smaller pass for next season because I expect better next season. But in 2014 if we still are looking at a team remotely close to this one. There should be an uprising.

    • Chris

      Let me rephrase the too expensive comment. Why spend the money on an ace pitcher for a last place team? Not that they can’t afford it. I know they are a large market team, and I realize the payroll has dropped significantly. And I don’t have any doubt they will spend the money when it’s warranted. But why spend it now locking up a guy that will be demanding a big payday, when he probably won’t be the ace when they are competing for the playoffs? This team is not close to competing. And I don’t see any way they will be a playoff contender, realistically, by 2014. If Garza nets 2 or 3 impact prospects, guys with potential not just roster filler, it’s the right move to trade him. Now having said that, his value has dropped very low with the arm issue popping up. If they can’t turn him into 2-3 impact players now, it’s probably not worth trading him. I hear what you are saying, but I don’t think the FO is looking at this as a 2-3 year plan. They could have signed Prince Fielder and saved Cashner as a potential closer if Garza was going to be a guy they were building around. They instead went for the 22 year old 1B prospect and are building a team that will be 5+ years younger, on average, than Garza. My comment wasn’t meant to speak to their ability to afford him, more about the FO looking at the situation and assessing that the money could be better spent revamping the minor league system, or banking some of the cash to lock up Castro early, eat Soriano’s contract, eat Marmol’s contract, etc. When in contention, I fully expect the payroll to be back up in the $140-150million range, or I’ll be pissed along with you. Is that 2014? Probably not, IMO.

      • Kyle

        Among the many reasons that a baseball team should acquire good baseball players when possible, the fact that we don’t *know* that this is a last-place team would be a big one.

        A lot of people want to fold up and give in on entire seasons at the drop of a hat. It’s absurd. Those same people had the White Sox and A’s written off going into this season.

        • Chris

          That’s why they waited to trade Garza, Dempster, etc. until the trade deadline. If this team was in contention, I honestly believe that they would have been buyers, not sellers. Maybe not buyers for Zack Greineke, but maybe they would have bid on a guy like Youkilis or another reliable player to add to the team. But they aren’t contenders, so they were taking this opportunity to bring in more young talent, clear out veterans to allow for some younger players to get more playing time, and save a little money in the process to use at a more appropriate time. I think they are going about this the right way, and I like what I’m seeing, despite the poor record. Just because you can spend the money doesn’t mean it’s smart to do so at the wrong time. When Tribune Co. opened up the purse strings, McPhail/Hendry spent the money but didn’t have a plan for sustained success. Theo/Jed do, and they’ll follow it through. If it takes to 2015 or 2016, but we have a long string of playoff appearances after that, they’ve done their jobs.

  • Drew7
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  • SirCUb

    Fangraphs with a great write-up of Shark’s splitter.

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