steve clevengerWe’ll pause from Wrigley renovation obsession – a reminder: the press conference is coming at 11am CT, so I’d expect a great deal more information then – to dwell on the rest of the Cubs’ world, which isn’t quite as cheery these days …

  • The Cubs have held a lead in four of their eight losses this year, which isn’t all that easy to do. Indeed, if they’d held a late lead in three of those losses, the Cubs would now be 7-5, tied with the Cardinals for first in the NL Central. Swallow that pill.
  • Steve Clevenger, who is now on the 60-day DL with a strained oblique, says he felt like he got stabbed in the side when he went down on Saturday on the final swing of the game. Of the loss of Clevenger, Dale Sveum pointed out the obvious problem. “You could see you that bench was able to work correctly with three catchers,” Sveum said, per Sahadev Sharma. “Kind of makes it easier for a manager to mix and match at the end of games. So, yeah, it’s very unfortunate. I wouldn’t say you’re without [the ability to pinch hit Dioner Navarro], you probably have to be a little choosier. Sometimes you just have to [do it]. If it’s going to win you a game in the seventh inning, you just have to say, ‘Hey Castillo, don’t get hurt.'” In truth, Sveum burned through both Clevenger and Navarro a couple times last week, so he’s clearly unafraid of leaving himself without a back-up catcher, whether there are two of them on the bench originally or just one. He’s actually been more bold in that regard than I would have expected. I’m undecided on whether it’s a good idea or not, especially when there are still other hitters available on the bench. Navarro’s hit a couple homers, yes, but, for his career, it’s very hard to argue that he’s a better bench bat than Scott Hairston or Dave Sappelt.
  • In the end, Clevenger’s value was his versatility – he was set to start at third base yesterday before the Saturday injury – which only plays if he hits. Sure, it’s nice to have the flexibility to futz around with the catchers, but that’s only relevant when they aren’t an offensively liability. I’m not sure Clevenger and Navarro (again, two pinch hits notwithstanding) had yet reached that level. Clevenger was, essentially, the last guy to make the roster, and he may not have stuck around after Darwin Barney and Ian Stewart return. What I’m driving at: the injury absolutely sucks for Clevenger, and I feel bad for the guy. But I’m not sure how much worse off the Cubs really are.
  • On the game-tying homer yesterday by Hunter Pence in the 9th, it sounds like Dale Sveum wasn’t too happy that Shawn Camp shook off Navarro in favor of a slider (which he ended up hanging).
  • Edwin Jackson discusses how he fell apart late in the game yesterday.
  • With reliever Kameron Loe added to the 40-man yesterday, and Rafael Dolis called up as a short-term fill-in for the injured Kyuji Fujikawa, you can expect that Dolis will be optioned back to AAA Iowa to make room on the 25-man for Loe. Darwin Barney will also be activated tomorrow, so there will be a flurry of roster moves, though they’re all pretty predictable at this point.
  • An excellent profile on Jeff Samardzija in the New York Times by Ben Strauss.
  • Len Kasper on his new partner Jim Deshaies, who is fitting in quite nicely (both in Len’s opinion and my own).
  • We’re without Luke for a few days, so the Minor League Daily is going to be hit-and-miss. I’d planned to do my version this morning, but the Wrigley news has thrown the publication schedule off a bit. All I can say for certain is that you’ll be happy when Luke returns.
  • cubzforlife

    Love the word “futz”. I say it all the time but can’t remember ever seeing it written. The Cubs should be at .500 now. Errors, shoddy bullpen and poor hitting with men in scoring position have me bummed. At least my 8 year old convinced the new girl in her class to choose the Cubs over the Sox.

  • Spencer

    I actually think it’s pretty easy to say that Navarro is a better option than Dave Sappelt off the bench, particularly given the fact that Sappelt has a grand total of 191 plate appearance in his career, and has struggled in the limited playing time he’s received this year. Probably not better than Scott Hairston, though. At any rate, it’s losing the flexibility of Clevenger that stinks, especially since he proved that he can adequately handle third base. Real bummer for everyone.

    As far as the Cubs’ record…call me crazy, but I really think it’s a product of some bad luck with injuries to start the season, and growing pains that a *relatively* young team is going to regularly go through. I’ve seen a lot of fundamental errors, which is the most troubling to me. But there have also been a lot of positive things so far, and it will be interesting to see how things go once Barney and hopefully soon Garza come back and the team gets to full-ish strength. I’m not saying they’re contenders, but it’s not like the Cubs are getting blown out day in and day out. A lot of the things wrong can be corrected with a little extra instruction and managing. Except the bullpen. The bullpen blows.

    • hansman1982

      “…but I really think it’s a product of some bad luck with injuries to start the season, and growing pains that a *relatively* young team is going to regularly go through.”

      The Cubs suckitude has been greatly exaggerated.

    • Brett

      Navarro having more plate appearances in his career than Sappelt demonstrates only that we have a higher confidence in the fact that Navarro isn’t a good hitter.

      • Spencer

        That may be so, but my point is that I’ve seen nothing from Dave Sappelt that would indicate he’s a clear choice for PHing instead of Navarro.

  • DCF

    Regarding the broadcasters, I think JD is OK, but (at least as of now) nothing more than that.
    I now not everyone was a fan of Bob’s tips for a succesful mariiage etc, but given that the Cubs on-field experience is projected to be rather dull, I think a bit of mildly entertaining chitchat is in order. Also, I don’t feel he clicks with Len as Bob did, though this
    will probably work out over time.

    • Austin

      I was thinking the same thing. He knows what he is doing but it seems a little awkward listening to them sometimes.

  • Eric

    Dale is free to get upset about Camp shaking him off, but is he also upset at Navarro’s horrible game behind the plate? Some of those pitches were indeed wild, but some of them were absolutely not.

    • True(ly) Blue

      Nararro played more bullfighter than major league catcher yesterday. He said “Olay” to at least 3 of the 5 wild pitches as they skipped past him. Is it to late to teach him how to block a pitch in the dirt or is he too slow?

      • Drew

        Agree, the pitches I saw easily could have been blocked had he kept his body square to the plate. Instead it seemed he turned sideways and tried to backhand the ball, which he missed, the ball hit his body that was on an angle and ricocheted to the wall. He his body been squared to the plate the ball may have dropped innocently to the ground. . .

  • Jp3

    I agree Eric, going further into it:

    1) does Dale only get upset when the pitcher shakes off a sign and something goes wrong or every time a pitcher shakes off a sign??? Seems convenient for him in this instance or in the Marmol debacle last year. Seems very hindsight 20/20 to me.

    2) if he really is upset by the shaking off of a sign shouldn’t there be a standing order of you don’t shake off the catcher ever???

    Either Dale is being very hindsight 20/20 or he doesn’t have the attention of the pitchers that you DON’T SHAKE OFF THE CATCHER EVER. Either way it looks like he’s talking out of both sides of his mouth.

    • Jed Jam Band

      Well, that is indeed something that managers enjoy doing.

    • Spencer

      I can understand his Sveum’s frustration if he is calling pitches from the dugout and then the pitcher shakes it off and serves up a dinger. I dunno if the Cubs call pitches from the dugout or not. But if they do, then yeah, they should do some form of what you suggest in #2.

    • Leo L

      I ws thinking the same thing but i was wondering if perhaps he is more upset that the catcher stuck with the game plan for the batter and the pitcher shook him off. I think it was clear that with marmol the game plan was to throw more fastballs andhe was upset that he would shake the catcher off too much when it came to the fastball. so he finally said you cant shake off the cathcer. he obvoiusly doesnt tell everyone to never shake off the catcher so he must see merit in it.

  • MightyBear

    I miss Luke already.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Navarro is not a major league quality catcher. He is woefully out of shape, yesterday was ridiculous. Running on him at will, and just terrible technique at blocking balls. Very disappointed in the scouting decision made to sign him as a backup.

  • aCubsFan

    According to CSNChicago Dolis was sent back last night after the game, and Loe was taking his place.

  • Blublud

    Off the subject. I don’t mean to dwell on the past, but man, I would love to have Paul Maholm pitching right now instead of Feldman. I sure hope Vizcaino pans out, cause the Braves are surely benefitting from that trade right now, small sample size be damned.

    • TonyP


  • Ivy Walls

    Grouped statistics tell a bigger story, Cubs have lost 4 games which they had the lead because their bullpen is AAA-AAAA caliber. Except for Russell and possibly the import from Japan who probably was hurt tell me what pitcher in the pen is on any contending team? This is born out with the entire staff ranked 18th in ERA and WHIP yet leaving the Cubs with a +12 run differential in 12 games or a nice neat 1 run per game differential.

    Cubs rank 12th in MLB LOB in scoring position sandwiched between the BOSOX and NYY, and are 7th leaving MOB in all MLB but are 27 (,279) with OB% and an OPS of (.661) that is 25th.

    Meaning Cubs get fewer men on base than the ChiSox, Miami or Pittsburgh and hit the ball for xtra base hits less than MIA, Pitt, Minn, SD and TB….less chances and lots of ‘Judy sticks’.

    Something has to be done with about 25% of the roster.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      1 Blown save does not equal 1 loss. After all, the Giants had a blown save yesterday and won. Yes, the Cubs have 4 blown saves: but they accumulated them over 3 games and the Cubs are 1-2 in those three games. (Fujikawa’s blown save was also a victory.) You might be lumping the first Giants game into this, but the Giants took the lead in the 5th inning, so that’s down to the starting pitcher.

      Also, the Cubs have a -12 run differential, not a +12 one. They have a -0.014 net OPS, which is basically in line with that run differential after so few games. Their problem is not that they are getting outslugged: the Cubs have +8 HR and -1 2B/3B: but that they are getting badly outwalked (-18!!!!). Combine that with -13 1B and that means that the extra base hits by the opponents are coming with men on base more frequently than they are for the Cubs: and that’s never a good thing. (The K rate for the Cubs is the same as for the opposition, so part of this is BABiP: and the Cubs have been unlucky there rather than the opposition being particularly lucky.)

      • MichaelD

        Defensive BABIP may be luck for the pitcher, but it is a measure of defense for the team. However, if what you are saying is that the Cubs have a low offensive BABIP then it is either luck or playing good defensive teams.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          That’s why I noted that the Cubs have been unlucky rather than the opposition getting lucky: the opponents BABiP is nothing spectacular: 0.310, which is 4 more hits than league average BABiP of 0.298. We expect 30% of teams to have that just by chance. However, the Cubs BABiP is quite low: 0.263, or 11-12 fewer hits than expected already! Now, you might say: “they aren’t hitting the ball well!”: but they have as many extra base hits (35 for Cubs vs. 34 for league average) as expected in 12 games. It’s hard to both be hitting the ball poorly more frequently than other teams AND meet league averages in XBH.

  • jt

    Was a JD skeptic…. he’s in the growing on me stage… I think he’ll be fine
    miss Luke but got’ta say he probably deserves some time.

  • Freshness21

    Hey Brett, if somehow both Castillo and Navarro go down in a game, who is our ultra-utility guy that gets the honor of strapping on the gear? Seems like in the past we’ve had a guy who could get behind the plate if really need be. I’m guessing Lillibridge?

    • Brett

      It’s probably Lillibridge, but Barney has been that guy before.

      • Cubbie Blues

        How about Marmol? He used to be a catcher didn’t he?

        • Grant

          Marmol would probably have the pitcher throwing nothing but sliders.

          • Jp3

            His throw down to 2nd would be awkward throwing sliders to try to get base stealers out, I guess it’d be ok because they’d probably just hang and not break anyways

  • DONNIE621

    Jim Deshaies is great! The Cubs broadcast [the best in Chicago bar none] never missed a beat. I was a little worried when Brenly moved on but Deshaies was the right move. Good job Cubs!

  • COW142

    I could not agree more. I actually like him better than Brenly. I love having a pitchers perspective again. Plus he is pretty funny as well. Great dry sense of humor!

  • ReiCow

    I agree on JD. I was surprised at who quickly I started enjoying his presence, given how much I loved Brenly and how much I can’t stand Moreland’s replacement of Ronnie. JD has done a great job, and I’m happy we got him.


  • fromthemitten

    I wonder if Marmol could catch in a pinch since he was converted…

    • Cubbie Blues

      I brought this up yesterday. Someone mentioned, “The throws to 2nd would be interesting since they would all be sliders. Of course, they would all be hangers so maybe they wouldn’t be that bad anyway.” (paraphrased)