I’m headed to Chicago tomorrow afternoon with a buddy, and we’re going to Saturday’s game against the Giants. I am excited, save for one detail – we’re driving. This year, on my trips to Chicago, I flew each time, because the cost to fly was, generally-speaking, the same as or less than the cost to drive from Columbus and to park in Chicago. Since I’m going with a buddy this time, and because I now have a hybrid (yeah, I’m a yuppy), it’s cheaper to drive. And I hate traffic, man. I haven’t commuted in over a year, and I don’t miss it. So, yeah, we’re going to shoot to arrive before 5pm CT if at all possible. (In case you’re worried about the waiver trade deadline tomorrow, no worries – I’ll be all over it from the road, if necessary.)

  • Darwin Barney is now, officially, the record-holder at second base in the National League for the longest errorless streak, at 114 games. Mark Townsend at the Big League Stew offers the best write-up of the record, and the almost-error that could have cost Barney the streak when he hustled after an errant Welington Castillo throw, and tried to make a play at third. This is exactly what I was thinking about that play, but didn’t adequately articulate in the Enhanced Box Score last night: “And if you look at the play in question here, it should tell you how truly impressive his streak is. Barney is not a conservative defender by any means. He’s not afraid to take a shot or make an aggressive play to get an out for his pitcher, and that didn’t change on a play where it would have been easy to eat the baseball and not risk the streak. That’s just not in his nature …. ” Bingo. It’s also why Barney is the obvious Gold Glover at second base in the NL this year.
  • Another reason Barney’s streak is so impressive? Wrigley Field isn’t exactly a kind infield (in Barney’s words, “[t]here is no ground ball that’s a routine ground ball”). Sure, the thicker grass slows the ball down a bit (though that arguably just gives you more chances to make an error), but the field is more difficult to maintain than the modern surfaces you see in some other parks. Things have improved in recent years with a new drainage system, obviously, and Barney is quick to complement the grounds crew on their work.
  • Bruce Levine wanted to chat with pitching coach Chris Bosio about when the team might pull the plug on Jeff Samardzija’s season, but Bosio wouldn’t bite. “I think from the organization’s perspective it is a case-by-case thing,” Bosio said. “With a young staff we are very pitch-count cautious as well as side throwing and the times we get our relievers up. We monitor everything to ensure the health of these guys for now and the future.” I still think there’s no way the Cubs allow Samardzija to go the rest of the year and rack up 200 innings in his first year back as a starter. There’s just no upside in it – only downside. I bet he gets two or three more starts, and that’s that.
  • Dale Sveum has no answer to why Anthony Rizzo is slumping so hard right now. “Who knows the reason why,” Sveum said, according to Cubs.com. “To me, it’s more a young man who got here and was obviously on top of the world and doing everything, and unfortunately, sometimes in this game, if you try to tell some young guys that for some reason, when you’re going good, you’re putting yourself in line for a slump sometimes. Why that happens is a million-dollar question in hitting – why all of a sudden you’re on top of the world and the next day you feel like you’re on ice skates in the batter’s box. That’s why you give guys day off and give them a chance to regroup.” Rizzo got that day off yesterday, and worked with hitting coach James Rowson.
  • More on/from new Farm Director Brandon Hyde (who played at Long Beach State with new Scouting Director Jaron Madison – how about that?). “We’re just trying to develop impact big-leaguers,” Hyde said, per CSNChicago. “Whether that’s pitching or hitting, we’re trying to get the whole package, so I don’t want to single out one area. The bottom line is our job is to get as many guys to play in Wrigley Field as we can.” Well, he certainly speaks the part.
  • Hyde added that Jorge Soler, who isn’t going to the Arizona Fall League, will instead be playing instructional ball in Arizona after the minor league season ends. “Jorge hasn’t played much baseball,” said Hyde, per Carrie Muskat. “We’re excited about the start he’s had in Peoria. He just hasn’t played much and we want to get him in instructional league and get him five weeks to ge this legs underneath him and get in playing shape. He was short on experience this last year. He’s a special talent.”
  • Maybe someone more familiar with the Boston media can tell me: is Dan Shaughnessy their Steve Rosenbloom? Obviously I’ve read a whole lot of Boston news over the past 12 months, but not many columns (why would I?). But this Shaughnessy kneecapper on Theo Epstein caught my eye, if only for its ambling, lowest-common-denominator shit-stirring. It felt … so familiar. Like the shadow of a nightmare I’d long since forgotten, by choice.
  • BN’er Rated Rookie (remember those?) puts together the All “He Was a Cub?” Team over at the Message Board.


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