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The Reds come to town on top of the world. Must be nice. Maybe tonight’s game will end before 1:30 am.

Justin Germano continues to pitch for his roster life. The results you see with your eyes tell you that this just isn’t a guy who can be expected to hold down the 5th starter job next year. But, a number of the advanced stats (most notably FIP) say he’s been better than we think. He’ll have to come in for some serious analysis after the season.

Game Info

Cincinnati Reds (88-59) at Chicago Cubs (58-89), 7:05 CT on CSN.

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. You should participate in the madness. And, of course, for those who aren’t into message board-style game threads, please feel free to use the comments on this post for your in-game commentary/outbursts.

The Series Preview for this series lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Homer Bailey (11-9, 3.93 ERA, 4.17 FIP)

versus

Justin Germano (2-7, 5.60 ERA, 3.78 FIP) (combined, Cubs/Red Sox, because why not?)

Cincinnati Reds Lineup

1. Brandon Phillips, 2B

2. Drew Stubbs, CF

3. Joey Votto, 1B

4. Ryan Ludwick, LF

5. Jay Bruce, RF

6. Scott Rolen, 3B

7. Ryan Hanigan, C

8. Wilson Valdez, SS

9. Homer Bailey, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. David DeJesus, RF

2. Luis Valbuena, 3B

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Alfonso Soriano, LF

5. Starlin Castro, SS

6. Steve Clevenger, C

7. Brett Jackson, CF

8. Darwin Barney, 2B

9. Justin Germano, P

  • Drew7

    “But, a number of the advanced stats (most notably FIP) say he’s been better than we think.”

    You’re just asking for some saber-hate with this one…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I didn’t want to dig in too deeply until the season’s over, but the numbers behind the numbers do support the idea that he’s been better than he looks – for one thing, the guy has had reeeeally bad luck with runners on base scoring (that is to say, when guys reach base against him this year, they score way more often than they have in the past, or more often than almost all other pitchers – suggests bad luck).

  • hansman1982

    5.60 ERA, 3.78 FIP

    Sadly, this is what Volstad looked like after April.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yup.

  • MightyBear

    Brett/Luke

    Next year the Cubs rotation will be as of now Samardjia, Garza, Wood and probably a reclamation free agent like Marcum or Villanueva and a youngster. Any chance Nick Struck or Jokich could leap frog AAA and make the rotation? Is that just out of the realm of possibility with Theo and the boys? I am just not encouraged by what I see on the big league club now or at Iowa this year.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Given the lack of depth at AAA, I really don’t see someone like Struck or Jokisch (or Beeler) leaping into the rotation, even with a stellar Spring. It’s possible, as it is every Spring with youngsters, but I think there are going to be SO many other 5th starter options (Raley, Rusin, Germano, Berken, Volstad(?), on and on). I agree with you on the expected makeup of the rotation, for what it’s worth.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I pretty much agree with Brett. If I had to handicap it right now, I’d say the fifth starter slot could come down to a dual between Rusin and Raley.

        But do we really think Garza is going to be in the rotation in the spring? If he is dealt this winter, that deal could significantly alter the candidates for the Cubs in the spring.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I just have a very, very hard time seeing a team ponying up enough to get the Cubs to deal Garza until they’ve seen him pitch again for a little while.

  • mudge

    Germano seems like a decent long relief pitcher. Samardzija, Garza, Wood, free agent and Rusin.

  • Kevin

    Any ideas where the Cubs FO & Scouting Departments measure up against other teams? I’ve been told the moves basically brought them up to a respectable level which was well overdue).

  • Jeff

    Man, I can hang a 81mph slider over the middle of the plate, Hey Theo, give me $450,000 and a uniform.

  • Bill

    If Wood is the number 3 starter (2 if Garza is traded) it’s going to be a looooong season. I’m not excited about any of options thrown out above. I’d like to see Garza, Shark, FA, FA, and Wood (as the number 5 starter). The other guys mentioned would be fallback options if, and when, someone gets hurt. The Cubs have plenty of money so why can’t they go out and get a couple of the best FA pitchers available?

    • Jeff

      Amen Bill!!! They better sink a few million in two starters or it’s going to be an even worse season next year.

    • Njriv

      I guarantee the will get a couple starting pitchers during the off-season. They are going to have to, they really don’t have any options.

    • Drew7

      Wood certainly isn’t a TOR-type pitcher, but a team could much worse than him as a #4 or #5. The Phillies, who have arguably the best pitching staff in baseball, have Kyle Kendrick filling that role – a guy who’s numbers are pretty similar to T Wood’s.

      • Bill

        If the Cubs had starters 1-3 as good as the Phillies, I wouldn’t worry as much about the last spot in the rotation. They don’t and won’t, especially if they trade Garza, which means they can’t afford to have horrible pitchers at the 4-5 spot. I’m not saying Wood is terrible, and he’s pitched well enough at times to be a 4, but he’s also looked awful at times. I’d prefer if he was the number 5 starter and then you celebrate if he pitches well. Kind of like the Cubs had with Maholm this year.

  • Josh

    Good to see the Twins win. Now they have a 3.0 game lead so we should be locked into a top 3 pick next year

    • Kevin

      No lock yet, just a little breathing room

  • Fastball

    By the end of the season the Cubs will have drawn somewhere between 400k and 500k less fans than previous seasons while charging the 3rd highest ticket prices in MOB. Rockets business model is not successful. The fact is the attendance will decline further in 2013 and possibly longer. Cubs fans are sending a message that will get louder. You don’t put a competitive product on the field and continue to charge ridiculous prices people will cease to make plans to travel to Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs. What was once a spinning turtle is falling like a rock. Something has to give and its going yo have to be the desire to field another loser next year. Ricketts and Epstein are flirting with disaster. Teams like the Trifles and others lost their fan attendance almost completely when they made this type of gamble and lost. Fans can and will change their habits. There will come a point when the well will dry up and Ricketts will find himself in trouble and the Cubs will be for sale. It will take a very wealthy ownership group to turn things around and give Cubs fans a a competitive team and potential contender. The problem is Cubs fans can accept losing but they won’t accept a loser i.e. The product Epstein and Ricketts have chose to deliver its fans. Its time for change but you don’t get until 2014 or 2015

    • CubFan Paul

      Actually by the end of this season the Cubs will have drawn almost exactly 75,000 less fans. Fact. Check the trending numbers from year to year

      • Drew7

        Where were you earlier? You could have saved him a lot of typing.

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    Are you using sold tickets as I assume you are? Clearly the Cubs have had more empty seats and lack of butts, so I question that number if you are claiming turnstile frequency. And even more importantly, given some of Theo’s statements, if they stand pat pretty much this offseason, ticket sales in 2013 will clearly be a problem. Sorry but even in shrine at Cubs prices, in a major market with another franchise who is actually winning, fans will be reluctant as a natural course to waste on a team competing only for the # 1 pick in the 2014 draft.

    The only question is just how much pain and apathy both Theo’s ego and the Ricketts family is willing to live with. One of the reasons I wanted Theo is the ego and commitment to winning. I really believe if he’s being straight forward about the things in the Tribune, if he has already written off the 2013 season and maybe 2014, he’s increasingly going to get some of the most intense criticism in private of his career. Theo is in for a very interesting winter of potential irrelevance, something he has never experienced in his career. The when mentioning the Cubs “who cares factor” that will be very interesting to watch.

    • Bill

      I think Fastball is talking about the number of tickets the Cubs could sell (if at full attendance) vs the actual tickets sold. If you look at ticket sales from the mid 90’s, when they had a good product on the field, they are down around 500k from those days. Even more importantly is the no-shows. Lots of tickets have been sold and fans have refused to show up and watch this garbage. You’ll see an even further decline in season ticket buyers, and an increase in no-shows if Theo decides to put out a similar product next year. The Theo novelty sold a lot of tickets over the winter, but this year people know Theo is content to put out a terrible product.

      Now, Theo may be perfectly happy to wait 4-5 years before the Cubs put out a decent team, but I’m not sure Ricketts will be so patient, which is why I think the Cubs will get some FA’s this winter and next. Ricketts understands the bottom line and empty seats are bad for his bottom line. It’s bad business. He also realizes you don’t want this kind of terrible product when in a couple of years you have a TV contract expiring.

    • bbmoney

      One of the reasons I wanted Theo was also because of his ‘ego’ and commitment to winning.

      But I think I’m looking at that from the perspective that he won’t cave into pressure from fans/media/whatever, and he’s going to make the best decisions for the team in terms of what’s best for their ability to win year in and year out for the next decade. Not just looking at what’ll help them win 15 more games next year so that they can put a “respectable close to .500 team on the field”.

      Yes, it’ll hurt ticket sales, in the short term, and yes he’ll get some criticism. But I think he can take it, I think Ricketts is behind him, and that’s why I was so happy he joined the organization.

  • Fastball

    I was going on tickets sold. I calculate that loss in revenue to be around $30M. If you count how much revenue is most likely lost after ticket sales such as vendor revenue it’s probably another $30M just based on the 500K to 600K less tickets sold. If I knew what the actual attendance number really was that number would probably double. That would put the lost revenue up around the $200M mark for the season. I don’t care if Ricketts is behind Theo and his plan. Ricketts won’t be behind that plan for long if it continues to be as bad next year and it will. If they spent $20M of that $200M on players they would have had much better attendance. So either Ricketts is going to have to spend money on players and put out a better product or he is going to lose his ass. I won’t pay the kind of money it takes to watch a game at Wrigley. I won’t drive 5 or 6 hours to get there and then pay a fortune. I can go to Cincinnati and pay half to see the Cubs and it’s an hour from home. I love going to Wrigley but it isn’t worth it in todays economy. Most midwest families are thinking the same way. Theo’s plan will probably work but his plan doesn’t match up with a business plan that has to be in place to gaurantee revenue. What are the Cubs doing to draw fans? Nothing! They have rested on their laurels and made the 1st mistake any smart businessman doesn’t make. They didn’t change and they didn’t manage change in their business. You didn’t need a crystal ball to figure this out. Marketing the Cubs is easy when you have the worst team in the country for a major market or for any market except the Astro’s. I will stick by this statement. If the product isn’t better then Ricketts will lose so much money that he will have to sell the team. He personally is not rich enough to withstand the losses he is going to take in revenue. I am certain it wasn’t part of his business plan when he bought the team and went to the banks to borrow money. He has to pay those loans back. If I’m holding notes on the Cubs I want to understand what the hell is going on and how are you going to insure I get paid when your revenue is dropping like a rock. The Rubber will meet the Road very soon and something is going to change. Or we will have new owners the likes of Magic Johnson and a group of rich guys who can afford just about anything. Rebuilding will continue but it won’t be the only focus of this organization. You can’t have a rifle approach to a business plan. It has to be a shotgun approach. Wide and Deep. Going in with a single bullet won’t work. I don’t disagree with the changes in the Operations of Scouting etc. That still needs work. Much more needs to be done and the blinders need to come off. Other wise we will be talking about who the new owners are going to be in another year.

    • ssckelley

      I think your numbers are exaggerated a little. I can remember a number of seasons where the Cubs were awful but still filled Wrigley. Wrigley in itself is a venue that will draw a lot of fans and there are many people that come to the game for the party in the bleachers. While the knowledgeable baseball fans may stay home and not buy the tickets someone else will. I do believe the attendance figures will suffer a little but not to the extent of $30 million in lost revenue. Part of having a solid business plan is being able to forecast 3 to 5 years out. While the Cubs may be losing today and losing some revenue once you get the Cubs to be a consistent winner the gains in revenue will far exceed any losses Ricketts is experiencing today.

    • hansman1982

      $200M is a tad high – if tickets sold is off 500K that is $25M in tickets sold. If actual attendance is off by 1M that means that every fan has to average $150 spent inside Wrigley.

    • Noah

      But do the Cubs actually lose money on after entry sales, or does Levy Restaurants lose money? Clearly none of us have seen the contract, but I’d bet that Levy had to pay the Cubs a large up front fee to be allowed to be the vendor at Wrigley. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if, for example, food sales don’t actually impact the Cubs’ year to year budget, but instead impacts Levy Restaurants’ budget.

      In other words, I wouldn’t be surprised if Levy signs a contract with the Cubs that says for something like $100 million per year (the numbers are just examples, I realize they could be way off) they get to be the exclusive food and beverage service vendor inside Wrigley Field. Then the issue of profit, and how much, falls on Levy.

  • mudge

    Fastball, for a guy who talks tough you sure go into hysterics at the drop of a hat.

  • Fastball

    I’m not talking tough. I just want to bring up an issue that is most likely a lot more real than most people want to believe. I would like to be able to inject some humor into a situation that doesn’t really look all that great from business perspective. Most business would be laying people of in droves if they had a run rate like this one has had. It’s tough to justify the plan. Even if we have a great team in 3 or 4 years you can’t make up for lost revenue in 2012 and 2013. You can’t pack enough people into Wrigley Field to make that lost revenue up. So how do you overcome that loss? You can’t do it by putting a bad product on the field. From a baseball management perspective Theo is going about rebuilding the right way and it’s going to take time. That’s only one phase of it. There are several other phases not being properly addressed. I hope that’s not the case but it sure seems like it is.

  • Fastball

    If I had the P&L I would be exact. I can make a guess on numbers based on number of fans at games. The total shortfall of fans for this season as compared to others from a tickets sold vs. how many actually show up. Then add in how much the average fan probably spends at a game on a beer, a program, a hot dog and a hat, tee shirt or jersey, what ever. Thats a boatload of money and I bet I’m not too far off.

    • hansman1982

      Your numbers are skewed way too high. According to Forbes, in 2011, the Cubs estimated revenue was $275M. So either the Cubs just lost 72% of their revenue or fans don’t spend that much at games.

    • Drew7

      A good portion of the empty seats are season-ticket holders not showing up. If they did show up to every game, they wouldn’t buy a jersey and a hat every darn game.

      That issue aside, there’s a difference between operating under a net-loss and failing to realize potential profit. By not filling the seats, Ricketts may be losing out on potential profit, but that certainly isnt the same as the entity itself losing money.

  • Fastball

    Even if I guesstimated high on the $$ it’s still major revenue loss even at the lower figures some would suggest. If I use the lowest revenue numbers suggested it’s a 20% loss in revenue. Running down that path two years in a row is going to be a horse pill to swallow for Ricketts.

  • Fastball

    I’m sure his business plan wasn’t built around losing 20% a year in revenue. He would be operating under a net loss because his projected earnings is way off. His P&L guy is probably getting his hand up at the conference room table saying we got a problem here boys.

  • Kevin

    Sell to Mark Cuban. Tom Ricketts reminds me of Michael McCaskey.

  • Fastball

    I would say Barney has some range. He routinely runs down balls in the outfield that are outside the norm. I think he does a pretty good job of covering laterally and he is very good around second base turning double plays. I never see him letting balls go or have a mindset that I can’t get to that ball. He hustles his butt off. Screw Phillips. I suppose some arrogance is required if your Phillips. I think Barney is every bit his equal on the defensive side of being a second baseman.

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