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Stop. Losing. Frustratingly.

Once again, Scott Feldman flashed tantalizing stuff – he had great movement on all of his pitches, and he was really using a comeback two-seamer very effectively – but once again he was all over the place. It wasn’t an easy day to pitch, and his defense didn’t help him much, but he’s going to have to figure out how to better harness his quality stuff. And, once again, he didn’t even make it five innings.

The Cubs went out to an early lead, only to blow it immediately thanks to bad defense, mental mistakes, and pitching gaffes. They did make sure to tease us late, though, as they are wont to do.

The real kick in the grapes, though …

april 11 box

  • Kyle

    Remember how we were going to control the strike zone? Our BB differential is absurdly bad.

    I look forward to the day when all the awesome things we say actually show up on the field. Not sure if it’s coming.

    • Koyie Hill Sucks

      It’s terrible, they preach patience yet the cubs must be among the league leaders in K’s.

      The FO and Sveum say they want players who will take pitches, walk and make contact yet they are in love with Valbuena who is anything but patient.

      TOday in 2 different situations the Cubs had 3-0 counts with their top hitters at the plate(Castillo, Castro) both got nice fastballs over the middle of the plate and I am sure neither had the green light. It didn’t make sense to me. (just wanted to comment on that).

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Actually, Valbuena has drawn walks in nearly 9% of his PAs in his career. That’s not exactly Wade Boggs, but it’s a bit above league average (8% last year). Heck, it’s still above average once you delete the Cubs!

        Also, patient teams tend to be high K teams: the classic “patient” hitter has lots of K’s and lots of BB’s. But if the Cubs want to get more of them, then they need to draft them or acquire them via trade or free agency: it’s not quite as carved in stone as your eye color, but it’s not something that is easily taught, either.

      • Hansman1982

        Nah, the Cubs are middle of the pack in K’s. the low walk rate would seem to indicate they are putting a lot of balls into play.

  • KidCubbie

    Good news is that the offense is starting to come around.

  • John

    Yay Castro…

  • Jason

    Bad teams find ways to lose. Castro’s gotta be more disciplined in situations like the one in the 9th today.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      He had some struggles today …

      • DarthHater

        that’s like saying hansman had some hamburgers today … ;-)

      • Kyle

        Still no walks.

        He’s a very good player, but it’s a little disappointing that he’s essentially the exact same player he was in his rookie year.

        • CubFan Paul

          so much for Castro’s new approach at the plate.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Well, history was against Castro magically growing a batting eye. Moreover, he’s only 2 walks short of what we expect from him after 40 PA’s! I suppose that his 1 extra K is cause for concern, though…. ;-)

          Seriously, they can talk all they want about “new approaches”: the simple fact remains that batting is about reacting to a baseball within a 10th of a second after it leaves a pitcher’s hands. Humans do not think that quickly. Moreover, this is not something on which they can work: they see live pitching in 4 or 5 PAs a day, and that is it. Sure, you can talk about it: but, much like the weather, that’s not doing anything about it, and it does not lead to any good way to do anything about it.

          • leo l

            just like the weather the cubs suck. just like the weather, I cant do anything about. I hope the weather gets better.

          • Kyle

            There’s still a development curve to be expected. Not just talking about this year. Castro has been the exact same player every year since his rookie year.

            Now, his rookie year was awesome, so he’s still awesome. But with a rookie year like that, you were kind of hoping for awesome-plus and then awesome-plus-plus in the next few years.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              I think that power is the one area where we’ll see him improve as a batter. As a fielder, now that teams have come to recognize the importance of range, it seems like they are pushing hard to find ways to improve that, too. It’s still new territory and I don’t know that any one plan will prove to be best.

              And, of course, one can hope that they find a way to use computer simulations to let guys work on pitch identification. They have to be close to such things by now.

              • JR

                Yeah Castro has been really disappointing to me this year. I know he’s never going to walk much. But it’s border line ridiculous at this point. I just hope his power continues to progress a little each year. If he can continue to creep toward 20 homers annually that would make up for a lot of his faults. I am pretty sure he didn’t start hitting for power last year until Mid May. But he’s an enigma to me for sure…

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  Well, again, Castro has had all of 40 PAs. That means absolutely nothing: the error bars on any rates at only 40 PAs are huge. After all, given his career numbers, we’d expect Castro to go 0 BB for 40 PAs basically one time in eight: or about twice a year.

                  • JR

                    True Dat. Here’s hoping he takes a big step forward this year. Castro improving is obviously pretty important.

                  • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

                    Your error bar will be a straight horizontal line for Castro and his walks when 10/1 rolls around.

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      Error bars are always straight horizontal lines, or at least that is how I always publish them.

                  • Kyle

                    IIRC, swing percentage reaches significance at around 50 PAs. Some of the underlying peripherals become stabilized extremely quickly.

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      It depends on what you mean by “stabilize,” I suppose. 50% of a group of players with a true rate of 10% for some stat will have frequencies of between 6 and 12% after 50 PAs (assuming that those PAs represent an average distribution of pitchers). Go up to 100 PAs and 50% of those same players will have frequencies between 8 and 11%. Go up to 200 PAs, and 50% of those same players will have frequencies between 8.5% and 11%.

                      However, if you are in that 25% that has under 6% after 50 PAs, then we don’t expect it to boomerang up after that: the single most probable outcome after 50 more PAs will get the rate up to 8%.

                      The assumption about the pitchers reflecting an average distribution might be the most violated assumption here. 50 PAs gets you about 4 pitching staffs, and in some two week stretches that can get a lot tougher than in others.

          • jt

            Today Castro hit a breaking pitch that was low and away. As it was breaking he adjusted to it and poked to RF for a double.
            That is what you can not teach. It is the diff twixt a downhill ski racer and one who excels in the slalom. One guy gets to plan the course and the other is in constant pattern reaction. They are two very different sets of talent.
            Some guys have to put the pitch in a box soon after the pitchers release (I’d guess more like 25 feet) and decide fight or flight while others can adjust the swing while in the swing. We saw Castro do it today.

            • JR

              Yeah it was a bloop hit. Castro has ridiculous hand eye coordination. Sometimes, I feel like the fact that he can make contact so easy makes him less patient and hit pitches that would be better if he didn’t.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              It’s closer to the pitcher than 25′: batters have to trigger swing/don’t swing when the pitch is about 10′ from the pitcher’s hand.

              But as for Castro’s big red zone (which he clearly has), I doubt that is what makes him “impatient.” Instead, I would suggest that Castro simply has only a general idea where the pitch is going to wind up when it’s 10′ from the pitcher’s hand. Sure, he can distinguish “awful” from “close” or “sweet…”: but he cannot distinguish “close” from “sweet…” Thus, he has to have a big swing trigger. What allows him to play MLB is the fact that his red zone is so big: even though he doesn’t have a great eye, his contact skills are good enough that he doesn’t have an extremely high K rate (14%).

              • jt

                What if the cerebral cortex trains the medulla to act reflexively.
                That would cut reaction time by a real lot and be an important survival trait for hunters with only spears.
                Pitch release to bat contact is about 0.4 seconds. Batter reaction time from load to contact is about 0.75 seconds. So load and initiation is way before the trigger to swing is pulled. I just read that Bonds had a trigger pull to contact of 0.15 seconds. So he has 0.25 seconds to do the signal transport and make the decision and do the deed. The only explanation that makes sense to me that I have heard is some sort of process that controls a conditioned reflex.
                It also makes sense to me that some guys would be better at it than others.

      • J Wilson

        I hate to say it, but was 2012 Castro’s best defensive year of his career? And, again, that whole massive strikezone…hard to get on base with that nonsense.

  • Spencer

    That 4th inning was atrocious to watch. And, at first, I thought Feldman pitched well. Then I realized his WHIP was above 2. Not so good.

  • http://bleachernation John

    Castro needs to move to third bring up Baez at short and call it a day.

    • Mrp

      Why, so we can get even worse at SS? Baez is making errors left and right at Daytona right now. Love the guy, but he is nowhere near being ready whether it be on offense or defense.

      • Bric

        True, but eventually one or the other (or both) are going to have to move. The unforeseen injury notwithstanding, I was still sure that Dale was going to swap Castro and Barney during the off season.

  • Red Baron 42

    I love Rizzo to death, but how do you take 3 strikes nearly right down the middle with 2 out in the ninth..?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      When you think that the pitch is going to miss the strike zone after it’s 10′ from the pitcher’s hand!

    • SamuraiJock

      Down the middle? He took strike 2 off the far side of the plate, and strike 3 off the inside. Both called strikes.

      Thats a pretty big stikezone for a pitcher with good stuff.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Well, RedBaron42 didn’t specify the middle of what……

  • Dude

    Caption that boxscore: what does the X in the bottom 9th frame signify?

    • DarthHater

      It means the bottom of the 9th was unsuitable for minors. ;-)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It means don’t bother watching. You’ll be better for it.

      • Kyle

        So why aren’t all the innings Xs?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          One of the half innings was fun to watch.

  • Featherstone

    Loving Castillo and Schierholtz right now.

  • Coop

    Remember earlier this spring when Dale suggested the Cubs were the best fielding team? Granted, he was referring to the spring training performance, but still…

    • JDBlades

      They are missing there gold glove 2B

    • cubsnivy56

      Cheers to Harry! I think I used the pic first!

  • Danny Ballgame

    They’re shitty again

  • Bric

    I’m not getting all the Scott Feldman’s got some good stuff, he’s just needs to put it together, be patient optimism. Nothing I saw in training or his first two starts has me thinking he’s anything more than a journeyman who’ll lose his spot if/ when Garza comes back. In fact most of the guys that have come over to the Cubs from the AL in the last couple of years haven’t been that successful. Theo – stay in the NL.

    • Koyie Hill Sucks

      Agree, he seemed all over the place and it felt as though he could unravel any moment. And he did… He is just not very good…

    • willis

      Afuckingmen. I don’t get any of the rah rah about his stuff. He had zero quality outings in ST, was a joke in Atlanta, and again today, was not effective. His stuff is ok. But, he has no idea what he’s doing out there and where it is going. Case in point…last Friday in Atlanta, had Upton 0-2 and threw him an 89 mph meater right down pipe. Blast. And today he was ahead of about everyone, but couldn’t but it away.

      No to mention his skills getting to first are piss poor. He’s what you said, a plugin journeyma who this regime went on the cheap for, hoping for a miracle. They didn’t get it. Same with Baker.

      • Dustin S

        Yep been saying that about Feldman since early Spring Training. Texas may be a hitter’s park but it’s not Colorado either. So a career WHIP over 1.4 and ERA of nearly 5 in over 700 innings is a pretty accurate measure of what you’ll get with him. At first look he seems decent, but he constantly pitches up in the zone and his stuff doesn’t really have enough movement to fool people. I hate to bash him after some ugly defense today, but he has to be the first guy to get bumped when Garza and/or Baker are ready.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        “last Friday in Atlanta, had Upton 0-2 and threw him an 89 mph meater right down pipe.”

        Point of order, it was down and in, off the plate. But Upton loves ‘em down there, so it’s beside the point. Carry on.

    • Rebuilding

      Did you guys watch the game today? Feldman showed exactly what he’s always shown – good stuff on a very inconsistent basis. He was dominant looking, pounding the bottom of the zone with a nasty breaking ball one batter, and then totally wild and and all over the place the next. The reason scouts like him is because “one day” it might click and there is a lot more of the former than the latter. With that said, he was one baaaaaddddd Castro error from throwing four shutout innings and then who knows what would have happened. He seemed to just lose confidence.

      I’ll also say, even though its very non-Moneyball, that Feldman looks like a really nice guy that lacks confidence, sorta aw-shucks goofy. He reminds a little of how Roy Halladay looks except Halladay, when on the mound, looks like he would kill you in a knife fight. Feldman kinda looks like the guy who would apologize to you after the game for striking you out. I wonder if confidence is his biggest problem

  • Jason

    In other news, attendance today was the lowest it’s been in a decade.

    • gutshot5820

      What do you mean? That can’t be right, you must be mistaken. Wrigley field is the biggest draw in the country. People travel from miles and miles around just to gaze at the scoreboard and ivy.

  • fromthemitten

    another good outing for Bowden that Byrd deal is starting to look like a ripoff

    • willis

      Been very impressed with him thus far. Would have liked to have seen him to clean up the 5th.

  • FarmerTanColin

    Think I’m more upset for Lillibridge breaking his 0fer streak. I don’t know why but I was hoping that would go for a while longer until he was off the roster.

  • Die hard

    Tidrows Mustache 1 Theos High Brow 0 … Another example of needing minimum 6 to avoid 100 losses. Maybe should promote Soler now before he’s arrested by immigration

    • TWC

      Um, we scored precisely 6 runs today, pops. How did that help us?

      • Die hard

        Now you got it!! Operative word- minimum

  • WilliamGlass

    Blowing a 5-0 lead is absolutely inexcusible! Even the Marlins should hold a lead like that. One error and we come unglued. I would have rather seen Shawn Camp trying to get out of that inning. Castro needs to stop taking his career for granted. He makes terrible fielding decisions and has zero plate discipline. There is no way he would have even made contact with a telephone pole in the ninth inning strikeout. In addition, I can not wait until Garza comes back, so Feldman can be removed from the rotatio.

  • WilliamGlass

    rotation*

    • Bric

      I like rotatio better. Sounds like something the King of Queens would say:
      “Hey Dale, how’s the Ro-Tay-tio…doing…”

  • WilliamGlass

    It was very amusing when Len Casper said Vogelsong was the player of the game even though he sucked ass in game and deserved a loss.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    As usual you are right Brett, you can’t walk the pitcher to force in the tying run. But I have know idea how Takahashi can be on this club ahead of Rusin.
    Another big mistake in the game was Sveum not hit and running with Scheirholtz and Castillo with a 1-1 count. You have to stay out of the double play in that situation, and I bet Dale would say the same in hindsight.
    The last pitch of the ball game showed how frustrating it can be for a team trying to become respectable like the Cubs. You think the ump calls out Panda or Buster on that same pitch to end a ballgame with the tying run on second? No chance.

  • cubmig

    This team is killing whatever sense of optimism good starts provoke. Moreover, feeling good about anything good the Cubs come up with, quickly turns to worry and a weird sense of quilt –as if something undeserved found its way to us. Joy stirred is dangerous watching the Cubs looking good, because it usually ends up as guarded doubt. What a fucked up predicament.

    …..a long season lurks.

  • WilliamGlass

    I agree, Cubsfanincardnalland! The Cubs always get hosed on strike calls.

  • Rebuilding

    I will say as a resident cynic that we are one “Marmol” and one defensive meltdown from being 5-4. I know, I know if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, but we’re not exactly getting blown out against 2 of the better teams in the NL

    • cubfanincardinalland

      They are going to be much more competitive, but they have to find the way to winning these tight ballgames. The starting pitching and bullpen is not that dog gone bad. Heck, they should be 5-4 and tied for first place.

  • Rebuilding

    I keep looking at Daytona’s website hoping to see a Baez hit. He’s 0-3 again tonight with 4 errors through 7 games. I’m saying 100 PAs before I panic. That said, Soler might be ready for AA or MMA before we expected

    • N8theGr8

      MMA. Nice. But even they won’t let you use a bat.

  • Diamond Don

    Good point as Cubs could easily be 5-4 or 6-3. Seems bad teams find ways to lose the close games and good teams find ways to win the close games. Cubs need to start doing the little things winning teams do, such as scoring runners from 3rd with less than two outs. Cubs must be last in majors in getting runners in from third with less than two outs. What happened to just making contact with the baseball and make the defense make a play?

  • Die hard

    Did you know that before every game Sandberg holds a specific 15 minute drill with infielders to work on some aspect of defense..He would have Castro fielding his position in 30 days or move him to another …. But none of this wishywashy hoping and dreaming

    • Tobias

      We need to start the Sandberg crap again?

      • MichiganGoat

        And Dick Tidrow as GM… we cannot be stopped!

  • cubfanincardinalland

    The sun times has a new article up, I am sure Brett will be on it shortly. But sounds like the city is willing to let the Cubs expand the left and right field walls, which will allow them to get the signage they want and not wipe out the rooftop views.
    For those into language, the mayor’s quotes are interesting. Before this, when he discussed the negotiations, it was always, both parties are working hard. Today, his quote is, “we’re in the bottom of the ninth, and we’re closer than ever before.” First time he has taken ownership of being involved. That’s what politicians do when things look positive, now he wants responsibility.
    Politics 101, deflect blame, take all the credit.

    • Tom A.

      I really hope you are correct and this all soon will be over.

    • Die hard

      Hope Mayor is not putting his version of Marmol in to save deal assuming of course you aren’t making all of this up

  • Bill

    I’m not seeing the good with Feldman. Yes, he wasn’t helped by Castro’s error, but good pitchers overcome those things. The guy gave up 7 hits and 3 BB’s in just over 4 innings. That’s terrible. Feldman also didn’t help himself in the field where he dropped a toss from Rizzo and probably led to Liillibridge eating the ball later in the game. Both balls were hit by Pagan and Feldman took his time covering first base. Did he go to the Matt Garza school of defense? He’ll never be more than a journeyman pitcher. Can’t wait till Garza comes back and they can move Feldman to long relief where he belongs.

    • hardtop

      and feldman didnt field his position. Kieth called why the bunt would be successful before the batter put it down… and then he did it again. castro’s error, though inopportune, did not lead to 4 runs. the offense scored enough runs for tony esposito to win that game.

  • N8theGr8

    Cubs: Committed to losing 1-run heartbreakers.

  • Dan

    Castro is gone for pitching as soon as Baez is ready you really don’t think they are going to move Baez off of short?

    • JR

      Baez has been terrible at High A last year and so far this year. And he’s less patient than Castro. I love Baez’s upside, but that dude has so many flaws.

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