Checking in on the reverse standings (taking it as a good thing, a bad thing, or just a thing), the Cubs have pulled “ahead” of the Rockies for the second worst record in baseball. The Cubs are clear of the Rockies by 2.5 games right now, but are far “behind” the Astros for the worst record. With an 8.5 game “lead” (and a roster that makes the Cubs look like the ’27 Yankees), the Astros are uncatchable at this point. The next team “behind” the Rockies is the Twins, who are four games “behind” the Cubs.

  • Well, Dale Sveum is pretty fed up with the crappy at bats he’s seeing from the Cubs lately (who struck out an insane 37 times in the three-game series against the Brewers). “I’m not going to lie to you — it does get frustrating to lose and be behind in ballgames constantly to where our closer has gotten three save opportunities in the month of August,” Sveum told reporters. “We’ve got to start putting things together and get on the board early and get leads and stay on top. It’s very difficult when you’re not getting people on base. [David] DeJesus is swinging the bat great and we’re not getting him in, getting him over. There’s a lot of young things going on now that are starting to be glaring. We’re not producing winning at-bats to win baseball games …. It’s a combination of a lot of things. We’re going down looking, we’re swinging at pitches way out of the zone early, and then we get good pitches to hit and we take them. What’s going on right now mentally is strange from a hitting point. We’re aggressive when we shouldn’t be, and we’re passive when we should be aggressive. We’ve got to address all these problems in the winter …. We’re super young right now. That’s part of the gig and we knew it. You’re going to struggle with those kind of things. If you are going to struggle, I’d much rather see us have some kind of game plan and not go down looking so much in key situations and with guys in scoring position. We’ve got to be a lot more aggressive in those situations. We’ve got to turn into winning hitters. You can’t be hit chasers, you’ve got to be winning hitters.”
  • The grind: “Everybody knows that the 100-loss thing is obviously a [reality], but in a baseball season you’re still going day to day and not worried about the final outcome of your record as much as winning that day,” Sveum said, per ESPNChicago. “That’s the bottom line. Obviously nobody wants to lose 100 games, but you just have to plug away every single day to grind it out. We have to start grinding. That’s the bottom line. You have to grind things out.”
  • Sveum spoke separately about Anthony Rizzo’s slump, as did Rizzo, and about the adjustment process he’s got to go through as pitchers start working him differently.
  • On Chris Volstad’s future, Sveum said he’s not going anywhere for now. “We’re committed [to Volstad],” Sveum said, according to Paul Sullivan. “We don’t have any other options to even think about doing anything else, to tell you the truth.” When asked about Chris Rusin being that other option, Sveum responded strangely, saying, “We have other things to plan out as well.” The only thing I can take away from that with certainty is that the rotation decisions are not being made entirely by Sveum. He’s getting input from the front office, and, frankly, given that the Cubs are in an evaluation/training/preparing for next year phase, the front office absolutely should have input. They’re the ones who have to make a decision on guys like Volstad after the season.
  • Jim Hendry, former Cubs GM and current Special Assistant with the Yankees, says the reported Starlin Castro extension is a win-win for the Cubs and Castro, and also says the Cubs are on the right path. “[Epstein’s rebuilding is] a path that will be good down the road, and you’ll benefit from even things like when you bring up guys like [Brooks] Raley and [Chris] Rusin and people that are young and inexperienced,” Hendry told ESPNChicago. “All those starts now and all the playing time these young kids are getting will benefit shortly in the near future, not the long future. I think you’ll see steady improvement [in the near future].” It’s weird to hear Hendry talk about the kind of rebuild he never engaged in (or was never given the latitude to engage in).
  • Kevin Capie looks at a number of questions surrounding the Cubs/Peoria/Kane County A-ball affiliation change, which he notes cannot actually happen until after the A-ball season ends.
  • wax_eagle

    That last point is an interesting one. Hendry inherited a pretty good team that was supposed to (and did) contend. Then he really needed to tear it down and rebuild, but TribCo needed it to stay competitive so they could get a good price. Then new ownership takes over and he knows he is on thin ice so he has to try to build a winner and ends up losing his job over it.

    Thems the breaks I guess…

    • SouthernCub

      Agreed, I think that may be more accurate than some are willing to admit

    • Scotti

      Hendry inherited a what??? That team was neither “pretty good” nor expected to go anywhere but to the bottom. Hendry took over a crappy, crappy last place team in the second half of O’ two. He did his voodoo and the Cubs almost made the World Series the next year. What you say is true in that Hendry never had the luxury of rebuilding–even with Tom Ricketts he was “held accountable” (fired) for what happened “on the field” (winning and losing).

      • EQ76

        2003 wasn’t Hendry, the Tribune Company, or anything like that… 2003 was all because of the magic of one mr. Joe Borowski.. ’nuff said. (ps – this is a joke)

        • Scotti

          Borowski was about the magic of beer. His arm was toast yet he kept on taking the mound. Must have been the beer.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Actually, the ’02 Cubs were expected to contend, given that the ’01 Cubs won 89 games and held first place much of the summer. Don Baylor’s horrific use of pitchers (resulting in Jon Lieber’s arm being ruined after being sent out to pitch after a rain delay and more DL time for Wood) shredded a good pitching staff. Alou was hurt in his first Cubs season, although he paid dividends the next year. A couple of other players had very off years.

        On top of this, the Cubs had one of the top ranked farm systems, dripping with players expected to be perennial all-stars. (That was right before people caught on that “batting eye” was a true tool, and right before people really started to take workload on pitchers seriously.)

        • Scotti

          Doc, you’re talking apples and oranges. No one expected the team that Hendry inherited to compete. The start of ’02, yes, but that wasn’t the team he took over. The middle of ’02 is when Hendry actually took over. And no one, anywhere was betting on the Cubs in ’03 (outside of maybe the Vegas line which has nothing to do with teams winning). The Cubs lost 95 games in ’02 (and were only 7th in attendence in the NL). Hendry got rid of his manager, both catchers, his 1B, his 2B and, eventually, his 3B and CF. He stayed with the pitching that his team developed (Wood, Prior, Zambrano) and they won but prognosticators were not prognosticating favorably for the team that “Hendry inherited”.

  • Flashfire

    Going hand in hand with the at-bat thing, Rizzo is really struggling this month. A large part of me is hoping that Rowson just stinks, the regression is because of bad coaching, and, when they get the guy they want next season (Dave Magadan), Rizzo will bounce back.

  • Kevin

    The only thing that excites me about the Cubs right now is the potential of 2012 & 2013 draft picks. The players brought up so far have been, in my mind only, less than impressive. I hope the scouts know what they are doing.

    • Karena

      It goes beyond scouts knowing what they are doing. We need a strong farm system of coaches who can get the players to have quality at bats before reaching the majors.

  • Featherstone

    The saddest part for me is that I knew the Cubs were 2.5 “up” on the rockies as I have been relegated to watching with hope that other bad teams win so we can get the best draft pick possible. It makes me feel dirty.

  • http://Bill Bill

    Since Rowson has taken over Rizzo and Castro have dropped considerably. Could be coincidence or something to it.

    • hansman1982

      If I remember correctly Jaramillo was fired before Rizzo was called up.

  • JB88

    Looking at the Cubs’ roster and the unlikely event that they acquire any supplemental picks, I took a look at MN’s bonus slot allocation (minus their supplemental picks). Assuming that the bonus numbers are flat for 2013 and the Cubs receive the second pick in the draft, the Cubs’ bonus pool will likely be approximately $8,878,600 + $443,929 (just under 5% overspend). Interestingly, that $9322530 would only be the 5th most bonus money a team had in the 2012 draft and only $1MM more than the Cubs spent.

    With the reduction of comp picks, it could be interesting to see how the bonus numbers change and how the competitive advantage teams are able to continue to game the system given their increased bonus spend.

    • Brett

      Great stuff, JB. Definitely as expected – should be far fewer comp picks in 2013 than before. That has the interesting side effect of making a high second round pick more valuable than it’s been in the last 10 years.

      • JB88

        I’m curious if there has been any discussion of attempting to better align draft pick bonus slots to finish. For example, despite picking in the high teens in the first round (and beyond), some teams like Toronto and the Cardinals had more money for their picks than all but 3 top 10 teams. Something seems unfair about such bonus distribution. If you want to view it, attached is a spreadsheet I prepared using BA’s information and adding a column identifying the draft slot of all teams (for teams that lost their first round picks, I still inserted them where they would have fallen if they had actually received the pick).

        Team Bonus Pool Pool Spending Round Pick
        Twins $12,368,200 $11,938,900 2
        Astros $11,177,700 $11,335,200 1
        Padres $9,903,100 $9,813,000 7
        Cardinals $9,131,100 $9,443,990 22
        Blue Jays $8,830,800 $9,272,000 17
        Athletics $8,469,500 $7,875,600 11
        Mariners $8,223,400 $8,120,200 3
        Cubs $7,933,900 $8,307,700 6
        Mets $7,151,400 $6,285,400 12
        Red Sox $6,884,800 $7,167,000 23
        Orioles $6,826,900 $6,564,700 4
        Brewers $6,764,700 $6,759,100 27
        Reds $6,653,800 $6,561,400 14
        Rockies $6,628,300 $6,406,700 10
        Rangers $6,568,200 $6,484,400 29
        Pirates $6,563,500 $3,234,200 8
        Royals $6,101,500 $6,250,000 5
        White Sox $5,915,100 $5,915,100 13
        Dodgers $5,202,800 $5,401,300 18
        Marlins $4,935,100 $4,860,700 9
        Phillies $4,916,900 $4,198,800 30
        Indians $4,582,900 $4,387,500 15
        Nationals $4,436,200 $4,548,500 16
        Yankees $4,192,200 $3,785,900 30
        Giants $4,076,400 $4,130,500 20
        Braves $4,030,800 $4,007,000 21
        Rays $3,871,000 $3,821,800 25
        DBacks $3,818,300 $3,704,800 25
        Tigers $2,099,300 $2,099,300 26
        Angels $1,645,700 $1,598,800 19

  • Dustin S

    The winter comment from Sveum stood out to me a little. It’s a subtle shift and admission that some of the problems like Jackson’s strikeouts, etc. aren’t going to be fixed quickly with minor tweaks. I’m glad they’re seeing that and not just sticking to the “we’re seeing improvement” line.

    Taking Jackson from a 200+ strikeout guy to a true productive mlb hitter is going to be a project, not something that will be fixed with a small stance or head/hand position change. I’m picking on him because his problems stand out, but plenty of similar examples with other players like Castro’s in-game focus.

    • Scotti

      Brett Jackson has two fixable issues that can be fixed right now. I’ve watched hundreds of his AB (successful and non) going back to before he was drafted. In the last year he has picked up two things he should drop: 1) the Rizzo/pull hand grip. BJ is a whole field hitter. His grip (similar to Rizzo’s) is new for him and not condusive for someone who isn’t a pull hitter. BJ is missing on pitches in the zone that he used to send over the wall to left and left-center. 2) BJ is taking more pitches than he used to take. He’s always looked to get on but he also used to swing at his pitch. I called him on this while he was still in AAA. Those two fixes SHOULD take five minutes but the current guys don’t have much history with him. It will take a Wilken to work that out with him but I don’t know if they play to use him that way.

  • RY

    I give dale a lot of credit, it has to be hard watching the constant same old horrible habit shit and no production from this team. It is amazing he hasn’t drove his car off navy pier after coaching this team this season

    • Matty

      Don’t feel too bad for him. He gets paid to watch this crap – we do it for free.

  • Kev

    If Jim Hendry thinks the Cubs are on the right path, then they’re definitely on the wrong path.

  • baseballet

    All that talk about BJ’s five tools, were they counting ‘striking out’ as a tool? Does anyone know how to generate a leaderboard of most strikeouts by a position player in his first 55 at-bats? I’d like to see where BJ ranks on that list.

    • Cubbie Blues

      I did a quick sort on rookies over the course of a whole season using FanGraphs and BJax’s K% was 59th on the list at 47.5%

      • baseballet

        I went to FanGraphs and tried the same sort on rookies, but I used a minimum of 60 PAs. If you do that then BJ ranks #41, and several of the names listed as striking out more were pitchers.

        • Cubbie Blues

          I forgot to mention mine was minimum of 50 PAs.

  • paul

    F Jim Hendry

    • Scotti

      As much as I like the guy, no. That’s gross.

      • keith

        hahahahahaha be gentle, he has heart problems from all the jelly dohnuts

  • Larry Bittner

    I loved reading the above discussion. Thanks!

  • Scotti

    The sex with Hendry part? Maybe I’ll start a website…

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  • Rizzo44

    The Cubs as a whole need more time with better coaches. Its that simple Rizzo, Castro, Jackson, Vitters, and all the young guys just need time. Castro hasn’t had the type of season we have seen over the last two (contract issues) we just learned about and Rizzo has played much better than he did last year in SD. The Cubs need a new hitting coach and I think they should talk to Mark Grace about that. I think he knows Wrigley very well since he played there and he’s a guy with experience in hitting. I’m not sure he would come back to the Cubs, but he would be the first guy I would call. Dale has done a good job with what he has had to work with. Pitching is hard to find in MLB and the Cubs really don’t have a great group to pick from right now. Thats the part I worry most about for 2013 who can we get to help us win. The Nationals have done a great job with there pitching. I think this winter the Cubs are going to have to make some good trades. B Jax and Vitters may be on the Block.

    • Jesse

      While I do think that Jackson won’t be on the Cubs long term they definantly won’t trade him this winter