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It’s a broken record, but not the good kind: Jeff Samardzija was great today, but winds up with the loss thanks to a completely ineffectual offense, headed up by Joe Mather in the leadoff spot (.250 OBP has leadoff written all over it). Samardzija is up to 165.2 innings on the year, by the way, and it’s getting close to the time to Strasburg him.

And the Cubs were kind enough to tease us today …

  • fromthemitten

    well another great start by the Shark squandered. I’m glad he’s getting it together after his midseason funk/hopeless Cubs fan optimism

    Viterrs on the other hand.. ugh

  • cjdubbya

    Don’t look now, but Vitters is getting awfully close to the BA that got Marlon Byrd traded to Boston…

    • King Jeff

      Yep, he’s only 12 years younger, making 6 million less a year, and under team control for 5 more seasons, but other than that, the Cubs should totally trade him to Boston.

      • cjdubbya

        I’m fully aware of that. My sense of humor doesn’t always translate to teh intarwebz though.

        • FFP

          This made me wonder how many Bowdens Vitters is worth. Give age and control factors (cash is a wash ’cause we ate Byrd’s) I’d say two or three.– But, more seriously, Bowden is maturing nicely, no?

    • gutshot5820

      For all you guys hanging your hat on the draft and players on the farm. All you have to do is look at Jackson and Vitters. There is no way that Theo can outspend others in the draft anymore. He produced more because he was playing a numbers game. Even he admitted that even with the best scouting dept, the edge is only very marginal.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Vitter is not the sort of player who Epstein would have drafted. BJax might have been: but there were other players in that draft who were closer to the sort that Epstein et al. would draft.

        • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

          ya, everyone needs to remember that if you don’t want to give Theo credit for his success in Boston you certainly cant give him credit for the badness that is the 2012 Cubs.

      • Stinky Pete

        What are you trying to get across? Should we stop drafting because it doesn’t work? You realize nothing we say think or do really matters in a major league context, right? So why be so angry? You’re among friends, man. It’s cool.

      • MikeL

        Not only that, but I am often really irritated when people think guys that are promoted from the minor leagues should start contributing at the major league level from day 1. That rarely (if ever) happens. You need to give a player at least…at least…AT LEAST….one full year in the majors before you can even START to make conclusions about whether or not they can make it in the majors, and you generally want to give them three years major league time.

        This is not making excuses for Theo, it is common sense. But since we are talking about Theo, he did not draft or develop either player so those are not very good players to analyze either his drafting record or his player development record. This is one of the reasons why people have said that they should not expect the Cubs to be competitive until 2015 or 2016, even if they are active in free agency before then.

        • gutshot5820

          Okay, everybody on this board is on the we need to stink until 2015-16 mantra and anyone who says otherwise is dumb. Well, if there was a guarantee that the current prospects in the draft will be stars, then great,I’m for it. But, there is a chance a lot of them will fail or be mediocre. Then what? Every team in the majors are doing exactly what the Cubs are doing in the draft. We are no better. The greatest and best advantage Theo had in the draft was the ability to outspend other teams and it is no longer there. The only advantage we have over other teams is the ability to have a bigger payroll.

          All, I’m saying is we should start adding legit free agents starting this year to be competitive and at the same time draft and develop our prospects. The goal should never be to finish last and draft first. As I said before, if you are drafting last, that means your players stink. This is the new era of the CBA, we are not going to outdraft our competition anymore. Our truly only great advantage is bigger payroll. But whatever, if you want to keep thinking we are going to outdraft all other teams and develop superstars that other teams can’t, then good for you. Personally, I think the Reds and Prates have more talent on the major league roster and farm than the Cubs will ever develop.

          • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

            Actually if you are drafting last, your players are pretty good. Which Free Agents do you suppose we go after? I am all for blanket statements, but I would assume you have no idea even who will be a free agent. If so that statement may change. Maybe not.

            • gutshot5820

              Everybody asks, which free agents should we go after, what should we have done differently…blah blah blah. I don’t have a multi-million dollar scouting dept. That’s what the FO is there for. I’m not saying go after every high priced free agent, just keep adding players every year in order to be competitive. The idea that our prospects are GUARANTEED to be superstars and THEN we can start adding impact free agents is DELUSIONAL. Our prospects can fail or get injured or turn out to be very mediocre. No person, not even Theo can predict the human factor. For every prospect that you like or hype, every fan on most other teams can match them or exceed them. Where is this edge? Cub fans are in a bubble and think they are the only ones trying to build a team through the farm.

              • Flashfire

                You couldn’t have missed the point more if you were shooting at it drunk, blindfolded, and dizzy. The point isn’t that you have a couple superstars who are absolute can’t miss hits. The point is that you load your system with as much talent as possible. (The Cubs are doing this.) Then you see which members of the talent graduate to the big leagues. (Two of Almora/Baez/Soler are quite likely to never take a single step in Wrigley field outside of September. Which two? No idea.) Once you start filling in some positions with the minor league guys who have made it, then you know what positions you have to fill in. Then — and ONLY THEN — do you go to the free agent market to fill in those holes, so that you have a complete team.

                Meanwhile, while you’re waiting for guys to develop,, you have two options. Cobble together a team that will lessen the quality of prospects in the system you can trade, or just go full bore in pumping prospects in.

                • gutshot5820

                  Well sir, you just proved my point that Cub fans are in a bubble. No one can have an opinion that doesn’t jibe with the rebuild. EVERY team in the majors are trying to load their system through the draft. What makes you think we are any better? Pre-CBA Theo was spending 3-4 times what other teams were spending in the draft. That is NOT there anymore. In three years, a lot of prospects on OTHER teams might be great and superstars too. Duh, why is that so hard to understand? All i’m saying is our only REAL advantage is $$$ not the draft.

                  You make me laugh though… anytime anyone brings up free agents, they compare it to the Hendry era. I’m not disagreeing with anyone about drafting and developing prospects. I AGREE. But don’t you understand that we cannot outspend anyone anymore? We are on the SAME level playing field as all other teams. To make matters worse, the draft pool absolutely stinks, right when we are the worst team in the majors. So Cub-like.

                  • Flashfire

                    Cool. Now address my argument, maybe?

                    BTW, you talk about spending money in the draft? You know how you can get a lot more money to spend in the draft and on IFAs? By finishing low in the standings. Your snark is making MY CASE for me.

                    • gutshot5820

                      That’s so funny it makes me laugh. Typical Cubs fan. Go for the worst record to draft higher. You actually think a draft pick has more value than the core of a major league team playing so badly that it drafts first.

                    • Flashfire

                      Still waiting for you to address my argument. And if you can do it without personal insults that would be a refreshing change.

                    • gutshot5820

                      Flashfire, I apologize if I was insulting you. I get emotional when it comes to the Cubs.

                      My final word. If you are a small market team, you have NO CHOICE but to depend on your drafts to be competitive and hopefully, add a few free agents here and there when the time is right because you do NOT have sufficient payroll to be competitive every year. You MUST go that route.

                      A major market team like the Cubs should be adding free agents every year to be competitive and bring up their prospects to SUPPORT their MLB team when the time is right. Prospects should be used as assets in trade. The philosophy of HOPING that your prospects prospects turn out to be good and then adding free agents are for SMALL MARKET TEAMS,

                      Of course, if you make bad decisions, no amount of free agents or overspending on the draft can help you. But assuming, you have a great FO, on a big market team you need to build up your club and then use your prospects as assets, not the other way around. Anyways, this is just my opinion and I have to eat dinner now.

                    • Drew7

                      It isnt as easy as, “adding FA to stay competitive”.

                      Take this year for example: assuming the Cubs finish around the 60-65 win mark, they would’ve had to add 20-25 wins in FA just to be in the running for a WC -spot.

                      I think people have a tough time realizing just how little impact one player has on a team’s overall record. The 3 biggest gripes I read about are the trade/failed signings of Marshall (1 BB-R War), Cespedes (1.6 WAR), and Darvish (2.1 WAR).

                      Even those 3, without subtracting out the value of the players they would have replaced (DDJ, Wood, etc), you’ve added less than 5 wins.

                    • Drew7

                      *continued*

                      So, what I take from FF’s argument isn’t that they need to ignore FA completely, but that focusing on it now would be counter-productive.

                      Even with the new CBA changing the spending in the draft, the value of draft posistion remains the same: drafting 1st overall has a tremendous advantage over drafting 2nd, and that difference gets very marginal after the 1st half-dozen picks. Couple that with a smaller pool of $ for the draft and international FA’s, and it makes very little sense to add 5-7 wins through FA when your team is as bad as the Cubs.

                  • Boogens

                    Sorry, Gutshot, but I have to agree with Falshfire on this one. You draw the conclusion that the new CBA diminishes the impact of the amatuer draft because Theo can’t outspend other teams anymore (suggesting more of a luck-based approach). I would argue that the new CBA increases the need for an excellent scouting staff to draft right since teams have limited spending. The hit rate of success for the 1st round picks historically hasn’t been very good so with a spending limit, the need to develop players in the “Cubs way”, and to keep the players under team control, demands that teams do whatever they can to improve their 1st round success rate. I believe that’s the new edge that they’re going for.

                    Another way to look at it is just because MLB is trying to re-direct spending into the major league pool doesn’t mean that you can’t still maintain a competitive edge in the amatuer draft if you have a top notch scouting program.

                    • gutshot5820

                      Look, if you think that any GM has a significant edge over another in the draft, you are sadly mistaken. The advantage of a top-notch scouting dept vs a mediocre one is very marginal at best. Even the opinion of who has a good scouting dept is entirely debatable. If you look at past drafts, the teams with the most success are the ones who spent the most money. Period. Heck, I guarantee you if Wilken had Theo’s money over the last decade, he would have great drafts too.

                      Please don’t tell me by finishing last, we will have more money to spend. That money is basically spent according to draft position and it is almost impossible now to overdraft someone.

                    • Boogens

                      This comment is directed at the response made by Gutshot to my earlier comment. This addresses the “Look, if you think that any GM has a significant edge over another in the draft, you are sadly mistaken.” Gutshot made.

                      I’m not sadly mistaken. You’re mistaken because you look at everything as either / or, black or white situations. To imply that all major league scouting staff are the same is silly. The Pirates have drafted high for many many years and they’re finally starting to improve. The Nationals, using a strategy similar to Theo’s current strategy, had successive drafts of Storen, Strassburg and Harper and they’ve got the best record in baseball. I know that Strassburg & Harper went #1 overall but the year the NAtionals got Storen at #10 the Angels got Mike Trout at #25. Why did 24 teams pass on him? Anyway, please don’t try to over-simplify this by suggesting it’s a big vs. small market situation. That’s too simplistic an explanation.

                      Also, to imply that their roles are as simple as just scouting is also an over-simplified perspective. It’s just not as simple as that. Money, agents, politics, fanbase, ownership and other similar factors all impact the process and complicate it well beyond just taking the best guy available when it’s your turn. The fact is that Theo and Ricketts have created a situation that insulates the FO from some of those pitfalls and have built up their staffs so their success rate should be improved over historical rates.

              • baldtaxguy

                Cub fans are drinking Kool-aid in a bubble?

          • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

            Ah, and one last thing. The new area of the CBA isn’t expected to be crazy and outlandish FA signings. It is expected teams will overspend i.e. the Reds on players like Votto. Great player, but 5 years ago he was worth half of what his new contract is. The new CBA was meant to keep more money at the ML level and less on prospects both internationally and in the US. Might as well call the new CBA the Harper and Strasburg agreement.

          • MikeL

            Most are not saying we HAVE to stink, rather we are saying we WILL stink and there is really no way around it. The free agent market will be thin this year, and if we did dip into the free agent market, we will risk looking like the Marlins did this year. There are far too many holes on this team and the prospects are still 2-3 years away..if they pan out. The free agent market is also fairly thin next year. So that already brings us into 2014. I believe this team will be a .500 team and team that will clearly be on the way up with some smart free agency signings and a few productive players graduating from the minors to the majors, but they won’t be competitors yet.

            • Bill

              Sorry, I disagree. From the comments I’m reading it sounds like we (they) WANT the Cubs to stink. It’s not just that Theo had more money during his drafts, he also had more PICKS. He was a master of acquiring compensation picks. Those are much tougher to get now, especially since you have to have that type of player on your roster for a year+.

              The Cubs have about $70M+ available to spend this offseason. Nobody is saying they need to spend all the money this offseason. They probably couldn’t acquire enough FA’s to be in the playoffs next season, but they could improve the team. You don’t go from last to first overnight or in one year. How about setting a goal of .500? You would expect guys like Castillo, Vitters, Ritters, and even Castro to be better next year because they are young. If Theo would have put together a bullpen last offseason, and didn’t dismantle the team before the trade deadline, they could have won a lot more games. BTW, I’m not saying I disagree with trading the guys before the deadline.

              If Theo spends some money on FA’s, like A. Sanchez, McCarthy, then he’ll at least be signaling to the fans that he’s not just tanking another season. He doesn’t have to offer anything but 1-4 year contracts. This way he’d be trying to win now AND not hurting the team’s rebuilding process. I’d rather have a 1 in 50 chance of winning a WC spot then having literally no shot at all for the next few years. In a market the size of Chi there shouldn’t be a need either.

              • beerhelps

                Do you think Theo won’t sign guys like Sanchez or McCarthy? Because I absolutely think he will, or at least try to.

      • baldtaxguy

        I suspect you will see one or two free agent signings this offseason that will have an eye to a 2015-2016 contributor when the 2011-12 draft picks are ready. I also suspect that you will see one or two free agent signings that will serve to fill in glaring holes until then, and/or can be flipped for more younger talent.

        To those who talk of boycotting attendance to either drive down ticket prices or to force major free agents signings seems to be reactive to either the decision to bringing in Theo or realizing the effect of the down-to-studs rebuilding. Its very convenient to view the batting averages of Vitters and Jackson now and wonder very loudly why we didn’t sign Ramirez and a corner outfielder. When those dollars would have been added to the dollars eaten this year (Zambrano had to go in any scenario), and the team mustered 15-20 more wins, there would be the call for letting the Vitters’ and Jacksons come up to develop, that ticket prices are still to high, and the payroll is saddled with $XX more for aging veterans. Its easy to bitch about whatever is not working as planned, and Stewart, the Demp trade, and Garza non-trade did not work. The FO is new, we have a new manager, and we have a new plan, let’s see all of these develop beyond 10 months, maybe assess at 30 months, before we start calling for firings, Kool-aid drinkers, and comparisons to Theo’s Boston resume. Its old, and we are just 4 days into September. There is more with this organization to be optimistic about than not, and if you cannot see it, then I question whether you are paying attention.

  • IndyCubsFan

    Jeff did a great job today! I mean shoot.. I even loved how Castillo gunned what’s his face out at 1st! The D was there…but the offense..well….was the offense. Anyone think Vogelbach could get moved to 3rd base? Maybe have to drop a few lbs.??

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      No. He could not. Best getting that out of your head now so you’re not disappointed down the line. He can play 1B or DH. The chances he could even man LF are less than 1% according to scout’s who’ve watched him as recently as this year.

      • Flashfire

        What about catcher? ;-)

        • AB

          Pray for a national league DH by the time he’s MLB ready

  • thejacal

    i dont know indycubsfan but mark my words vogelbach is gnna be a stud we gtta find somewhere to put him .Lets get onto seligs ass DH in national league

  • JulioZuleta

    I’m not sure if this was noted somewhere else, but unfortunately, the Cubs are now mathematically eliminated from the division race. We still have some hope for the Wild Card though.

    • Flashfire

      And I still have some hope of a night of passion with one of Brett’s She-view girls.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    Well, I got to see (in person) my first game of the year today! For the first time, Cubs fans were the minority at a Nats’ game, but the crowd was ridiculously small for a holiday game and a team leading the division in early September. It was literally a tough game to watch: there was a thin cloud-cover the entire game of the sort that makes the sun a large eye-watering blur in about a fifth of the sky; put on your shades and it was too dark, take off your shades and you were squinting like a 47 year old trying to read a menu.

    I think that the viewing conditions affected the play. The defenders looked sluggish. It might have been the high humidity (it was like a cool sauna out here!), but given how tough it was to follow the ball, I think that the fielders simply needed an extra fraction of a second to pick up the ball. (There were quite a few “duck and cover” catches, too.)

    The 9th was fun. I explained to my 4 year old son that the three Cubs who can actually hit were batting against a really good pitcher. He’s quite taken by Alfonso Soriano (We sat right down the left field line, and when Sori smiled in our direction, my boy thought it was for him: and Sori really does have a great smile!) Alas! After a long AB, Sori got just under a Clippard pitch. Clippard, by the way, clearly has great raw stuff in some ways but not in others: he gets things in the strike zone with high heat, but there does not seem to be much motion, as the Cubs batters were just missing the ball. If Sori swung just a touch higher, then it was a tie game. (With the humidity and the weak wind coming in from the river, balls were carrying very well to left and center.)

    And the game was quite snappy: even the Cubs “relievers” couldn’t allow more than one run.

    Oh, and we lost the “take me out to the ball game” duel. However, Cubs fans gave them a good run, and the Nat fans knew that they’d have to shout to win. Still, those bozos play the song way too fast: the pace should be more funeral dirge than disco!

    Sappelt played. He left zero impression. Vitters played. His swing is even prettier in person. And just as ineffectual as on TV. Mather & Barney make some of Dusty’s 1-2 decisions look, well, less stupid. Shark pitched pretty well: it was a game ripe for giving up HR and he gave up only the one, and he did K 8 while walking only 1.

    • college_of_coaches

      Funny, I almost went to this game with my 4 year old son, but the plans got cancelled the night before. (There were lots of cheap tickets available right up to game-time.)

      Sorry the Cubs didn’t win for you and your son.

      BTW How’d the little guy do? I took my son to a Frederick Keys game earlier this year and he lasted 3 innings before he became too fidgety.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        One great thing about Nats Park is that they have a playground for kids: so, a 2-inning break mid-game in the playground took care of the fidgets. Other than that, Kubby (our nickname for our son: but, ironically, not after the baseball team!) did OK. Being 4, his understanding of the game is limited: he gets homers, scoring (“points” not runs) and strikeouts.

        He was a little sad that Alfonso Soriano (he loves the name) never waved back: but I explained that Sori had a job to do which requires that he pay close attention to the baseball. That became a segue for trying to get him to pay attention! (Unfortunately, we all had problems following the ball due to the glare of hazy sunshine.)

    • cub4life

      I was there myself and enjoyed myself. I was sitting in the left field area as well (section 108) and yeah it was a low attended game (prob the lowest that I’ve been to in DC). I go to at least 1 Cubs game in Washington every year (try for all of them depending on scheduling). I also have some family going to the game tonight, section 105 just behind the bullpen. But yes it was very humid the first half of the game but it got better at the end. Shark pitch superbly except 1 pitch and the offense was well offensive until the 9th. There was a few spots that they had a good hit here or there but nothing else. We have some players that look good and some others that ummm need some more time. The defense looked pretty good for us and we had some shots on offense that were good shots but had a good catch on the other end by Harper. But I must say that Castillo looks alot better on offense then I thought he did and got to see Sappelt get his first game (had a couple of nice contact shots but the were at some one). I can’t wait til next years game (hopefully they will be on the weekend this time so I can make them all).

      • DocPeterWimsey

        I was in section 107! We were right across the aisle from 108, in row DD. (I was the stunningly good looking middle aged guy with the vest…..) Of course, even Nat Fans know to call those sections “the Bartman Seats.”

        • cub4life

          yea I was pretty close to that, row N, on the isle next to 107. We were a group of 6, we all had our jersey’s on. I was in a Maddux and my dad had Santo. We also had Soriano and Ramirez in our group as well.

  • Colin

    Just looked up Samardzijas stats and this one popped out to me. Last year with 88ip he had 50 walks and 87Ks. This year he is at 159ip, 54 walks and 163 Ks. With almost twice as many innings and the same amount of walks that is just amazing to me. I still cant get over how I thought he was a one pitch guy and now it seems like he’s comfortable throwing 5-6 different pitches. Hope this maintains for years and years.

    Remember when people were upset about him making the starting rotation….

    • Jackalope

      Pretty unbelievable. Samardizja’s K:BB ratio over the last 3 years: 0.45, 1.74, 3.11

      And groundball %: 30.4, 40.0, 45.7

      I have to admit that I was among those that thought he had no chance as a starter or even a year-in-year-out reliable reliever. Glad to be proven wrong.

  • TKO

    I actually feel better about this game than yesterday’s game. Castro got a couple hits. Rizzo got a hit. Samardzija was great. How the young players perform is much more important than the score at this point. Yesterday the offense was better, but it was mostly Soriano.

    • baldtaxguy

      How many years of control do the Cubs have with Samardzjia?

  • Jackalope

    BJax has a giant hole in his swing high and outside.

    • Leroy

      great article jackalope

  • Failblog.org

    was at the game here in DC. Samardijza is actually a stud. There are more bandwaggoners in DC right now than anything before.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      eh, the ballpark was half full, tops. There were a lot of really good seats that were empty in all of the sections. The problem, of course, is that most of us living in the DC area have moved here from somewhere else: you can always tell who is playing the Nats by plethora of particular jerseys (the Cubs today, the Cards this weekend) on the Metro.

      And that’s a shame, because the Nats have a pretty darned good team. When Edwin Jackson is your #4 starter, then you have a great staff, and there are plenty of above-average hitters in the Nats lineup. Perhaps they lack that charismatic big name: this region still lives under the Cal Ripken mythos, after all. Zimmerman has sort of flopped at that, and Harper has not quite taken hold. Hopefully, post-season will change that.

      • Picklenose

        Doc, do you think a Nat’s – O’s series would get fans excited? Although this area really seems like it is all ‘Skins all the time sort of area.
        I’m writing from the northern neck area in Virginia.

      • Diesel

        You going to be at the game on the 6th doc? I’m trying to make it to that one.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          You going to be at the game on the 6th doc? I’m trying to make it to that one.

          Sadly, one game a year is about all I can make. Night games are particularly tough: The Boy has a set routine that begins about 7:30. (Part of it involves watching Cubs highlights or condensed games with me on the iPad, so it’s not a total loss for him!)

          Doc, do you think a Nat’s – O’s series would get fans excited?

          Given that the O’s have not been selling well, either, I would have to guess “no.” Somewhere about 12 years ago, the Orioles fanbase got transformed into the Cal Ripken personality cult, it seems. And that is not a good thing.

  • die hard

    next years youngster core of Castillo, Castro, Rizzo, Barney and Jackson have lots of upside…. dont know what else there is among young position players to be optimistic about…

    • Njriv

      Watkins should be a guy to keep an eye one, he will most likely be starting at Iowa next year.

  • Drew7

    Ace, any chance a, “just how good has Shark been?” Post is coming?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Definitely.

  • Curt

    I’ve always heard that every starters arm only has x amount if starts in it why isn’t shark already shut down he’s shown what hes capable of and what’s a win going to do now anyways not lose a 100 games so what, save him for the future. Shut him down yesterday.

  • True(ly) Blue

    This game is a classic example of one of the worst rules in baseball. The Shark gave up 1 (that’s ONE) run in seven innings. The Cubs lost 2 to 1. He gets charged with the loss even though the Cubs later scored a run but didn’t tie up the game. It was Beliveue, a relief pitcher, who gave up the run that made the difference. I have a friend with whom I argue this rule all the time. His response is “That is the way it always has been”.
    Yikes! Just because “It’s always been that way” doesn’t make it correct or even logical.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Which is why the best answer is not to “fix” the W/L stat, it’s just to ignore it entirely.

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