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dale sveum carlos marmolContinue to hold your loved ones close today.

  • It took exactly one additional blown save by another reliever for Dale Sveum to start talking about Carlos Marmol coming back into the mix to close games. “I would be lying to you if he wasn’t working his way back into it,” Sveum said, per the Tribune. “He is throwing strikes and he is throwing his slider more and he’s more consistent. So, yeah, he’s working his way back. That was part of the deal.” As crazy as it sounds on its face, it’s not like the bullpen is giving Sveum a cascade of better options. Kyuji Fujikawa is hurt – and has been for a while, I suspect. Shawn Camp has never succeeded as a closer, and James Russell is nice to be able to use in whatever high-leverage situations arise, not just in the 9th. So … Hector Rondon? He’s looked good, but he’s green. Michael Bowden? He was looking good until this weekend’s implosion. It obviously won’t be Hisanori Takahashi, and Kameron Loe is brand new to the pen, so … well, you can see why Sveum is running out of options.
  • Darwin Barney did two things in his rehab stint at Iowa: hitting and walking. That’s just fine. He’ll be back with the Cubs today, and it will be a welcomed return. Regardless of whether you feel Barney is a good starting second baseman on a playoff-caliber team, he’s quite clearly the most superior second base option this Cubs team has. That said, don’t expect him to light up the stat sheet. He does what he does, which is play elite defense, and not strike out much. Anything he gives you offensively is a bonus.
  • Ian Stewart doesn’t yet have a hit in his rehab assignment at Iowa, but that’s not really the point. The point is to be healthy, feel good, and feel ready to return to the Cubs. And, to that end, it sounds like it’s been a huge success so far: last night, Stewart tweeted that he expects to be back within a week to 10 days. That would put his return to the Cubs well before the end of April, and well ahead of all earlier estimates.
  • The Cubs will wear number 42 today to honor Jackie Robinson. Because of yesterday’s offday, the Cubs are a day late to the party – but better late than never.
  • Not to go too meta on you, but I wanted to say a word on advertising here at BN. As you probably know by now, advertising is the primary way that a site like this stays in business, so I will probably always be working to incorporate it into the site. That said, I’ve been working very hard over the past few months to change the advertising footprint here at BN to better serve the twin goals of (1) paying the billz, and (2) unobtrusively alerting you about relevant products and services. It’s a delicate balance, especially for a smaller site like BN, and most of it is behind the scenes stuff that you’ll never see. In the interest of improving your experience at BN, I have – for now – dramatically reduced the volume of display advertising on the site in favor of fewer ads in locations that you will actually see. More is not always better, and keeping the site relatively neat, clean and enjoyable is the top priority. To that end, you will see reduced ad load in the side and bottom of the site, and you will instead notice a new, single ad at the end of posts. Hopefully you don’t find this too intrusive, and instead find the overall reduction in ads to be an improvement on your experience. I’m always open to feedback, by the way. We’ll see how this new approach goes. Also, for those of you who use ad blockers, might I very humbling request that you consider white-listing BN.
  • Tom

    If only the Ricketes had the same opinion on advertising as you did Brett!

    • MichiganGoat

      He’s actually increasing the visibility of certain ads by having them at the end of the articles. Brett is both keeping the overall site cleaner while also increasing ad visibility. Its smart advertising and Ricketts will also be maximizing the visibility of ads vs. just placing ads everywhere. In many ways both are finding ways to maximize the space for advertising.

  • MichiganGoat

    I like the new ad format, it might also increase clicks so its a win win for the site.

    • CubFan Paul

      I almost clicked on the Russian brides ad yesterday.

      • hansman1982

        I click that one every day. MY DREAM WOMAN IS OUT THERE SOMEWHERE!

        • Cubbie Blues

          If you have never looked at the t-shirt one I highly recommend it. There are some very funny shirts on that site.

  • Stinky Pete

    On Sunday, Topes pitcher Sean White was clearly terrified of Darwin “Barry Bonds” Barney and walked him three times on 12 pitches.

    • Josh Ed.

      I accidentally inhaled some Dr. Pepper because of this.

  • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

    My favorite types of ads are those that are skillfully weaved into the posts (the new TiqIQ links that show up in the pre-gamin’, sponsored Kane County posts, etc) but I understand there are only so many of those to go around. I think those advertisers are the smartest, with adblocks being so common the best way to reach readers on a site like this is find a way to tastefully slip it between the sentences we’re reading.

    As for the actual content of this post, just use whoever is NOT struggling, Dale. Don’t “name” a closer.

    • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

      Has anyone reached out to you Brett in an attempts to sponsor some of your recurring posts? Like a medical service asking to sponsor the God’s Wrath Watches? haha.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Haha. Now that would be something. Rolex sponsoring the Obsessive Watch posts?

      • HCS

        “The Lukewarm Stove, Sponsored by Sears Appliance Center”

        • JulioZuleta

          How about a weekly “Who’s hot, who’s cold” recap, sponsored by Icy Hot?

          • Josh Ed.

            A sponsor for the Bullets could be problematic, however.

            • CubFan Paul

              Not for the NRA…

              • wvcubsfan

                Today’s bullets brought to you by Nosler. Or perhaps Bullets powered by Hodgdon Powder.

  • Jp3

    Kevin Gregg will be the setup man in no time if the bullpen continues to impress. I can’t believe it but its going to happen some time this season, KGregg in the 8th and Marmol in the 9th. It’s official we’re in Cubbie Hell

  • Polar Bear

    Brett, I do most of my viewing on this site from my cell phone and have never been bothered or felt like the ads were in the way. You do a great job and I, for one, would like to say thank you! This is the only site that I go to for the Cubs. Keep up the hard work.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, PB. Appreciate that.

  • Chris

    I am going to be really interested to see Marmol pitch in a closers spot now. I completely understand why Sveum would do it cause you are right, the rest of the pen has done their best to leave the door open for Marmol. Lets hope we can get an easy win today without needing a closer though!

  • Chad

    Brett, I say you do such a good job that you should milk that cow for what she’s worth. I don’t mind sorting through some ads so you can provide for your family. I like what you do and it is worth it. Seriously.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, Chad. I definitely want to make as much as I can (AMERICA!), but I’m glad to hear that the product is worth putting up with the ads.

      • Danny Ballgame

        *Pronounced ‘Merika

    • PKJ

      Agree with this. I actually click on some of the ads in this site just to give you a couple nickels once in a while for your work.

    • Ron

      I agree also, the site could look like a NASCAR car and i would still read your posts!

      • ETS

        [img]http://i.imgur.com/t68Gz.jpg[/img]

        • JulioZuleta

          Same, I don’t care if this site looks like the OF wall in Major League (complete with proctologist ad) as long as the content stays top notch, as we know it will. You derserve to get every cent you can out of it. I never find the ads distracting at all (except for the Asian wife ad…she’s preeetttyyyy).

    • Dougy D

      My grandmother always said, ‘why buy the cow when you get the sex for free?’

      • MichiganGoat

        +1 for the Mallrats reference

  • Jp3

    I think they should rotate the closers role through everyone in the bullpen so everyone gets a chance to blow a couple games a week, we don’t want marmol getting all the credit

  • http://www.bleachernation.com colonel ichabod

    i must be alone in thinking that darwin barney is a great second base option. seriously, doesn’t he keep getting better? every year his stats seem to increase offensively, and his d is supreme. so yeah, i dig barney.

    • Edwin

      Actually, his offense was “better” in 2011 than 2012. His defense is elite, and he’s a nice baserunner, but even with improvement, his offense is bottom of the league for a 2B.

      Right now he’s great for the Cubs because he’s cheap, and he’s their best option. I like Barney a lot for what he is, but lets not fool ourselves. The odds of him becoming even a below average hitter for a second baseman are pretty bleak. He’ll be nice to have for another 2-3 years, but then he’ll probably be moved to more of a bench/utilitiy infielder role.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Barney has had two full seasons, and he was marginally worse in the 2nd season than in the first. In both seasons, he was well below average for a starting 2nd baseman: 15th of 18 in 2011 (OPS -0.061 from median) and 19th of 21 in 2012 (OPS -0.075 from median).

      Now, supposedly Barney’s fielding makes up for it: he supposedly was worth 3.7 wins over “replacement” last year. (Note the irony: on good offensive teams, Barney sits on the bench and is the utility infielder!) However, there is something serious wrong with how they calculate these things. Among starting 2Bmen, Barney had the highest range-factor. (Several bench guys did better: but, a) small sample sizes and b) slick fielding, poor hitting guys ride the bench on good teams.) Aaron Hill did second best, albeit making 4 more errors (6 vs. 2). In total, Barney was good for approximately 16 more outs than Hill.

      Here is where something goes wrong. Turning 16 reached-bases into outs takes the DBacks expected winning percentage from 0.520 to a 0.528 team: or 1.3 more wins. So, Barney should be worth 1.3 more wins than Hill with fielding, right? Somehow ESPN puts Barney at 2.5 more wins than Hill, and crazily puts Hill at only 0.2 above “replacement.” Double plays are not the issue: they turned the same number (94 vs. 96). Yes, Hill did play 67 more innings than Barney, but the Cubs gave up 124 more walks+singles, which meant that Barney was probably in more DP opportunities, and he was working with a better SS than was Hill.)

      My guess is that somehow they are taking into account the fact that Barney made more outs with guys on base than did Hill, which “saved” more runs. However, that is purely attributable to the Cubs pitching staff having such an awful OBP, over 0.02 higher than the DBacks. If so, then a lot of Barney’s apparent value is an artifact of playing behind a bad pitching staff. Put him on a better staff (especially one that does not walk the universe), and his value might go down a bit (*IF* that is how they are calculating DWAR: but I cannot see another obvious answer).

      • Jp3

        All that being said Barney will make us think he’s the 2nd coming of Pete Rose after watching Lillibridge play 5 days a week

      • Dougy D

        I don’t even bother with WAR. There isn’t a standard way to come up with it, therefore it is basically someone’s opinion of how one thing is more important than another (ex: fielding vs hitting, or turning double plays vs. catching pop ups).

        Quick WAR question: Do DH’s rank considerably lower since they only play half of the game?

        • Dynastyin2016

          Couldn’t agree with you more, Dougy D.

        • Edwin

          a DH with the exact same offensive output of a non-DH will rank lower, yes. Unless the non-DH is costing his team runs by playing bad defense.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          WAR is based on how you do relative to other guys at your position.

          As for the fact that there is not a standard yet, that is a banal criticism to say the least. People have only just started working on it. Moreover, it’s not based on arbitrary opinion, but correlation between types of performances and outcomes. Popups are great for xFIP (and thus for WAR) because most popups get caught. Turning DP becomes more problematic: you have to adjust by the OBP *and* GB:FB propensities of the pitchers. Teams that (like the Cubs) walk a lot of guys will generate more DP as an artifact. Conversely, teams that generate a lot of groundballs will generate more DP as an artifact of: 1) giving up more groundball singles and 2) giving up more grounders.

          Accomodating this is hard. However, the fact that it is hard is no excuse to use fielding percentage or some other demonstrably misleading statistic: it’s an incentive to improve it. After all, only fools let the perfect become the enemy of the good!

  • Grant

    I realize Stewart’s on a rehab assignment, but I’m still troubled by the numbers he’s putting up.

    Going into ST, I was glad to have him back on the team. I figured his wrist issues were finally resolved, and optimistically thought (hoped?) we’d see a flashes of the guy that was a 1st round draft pick in 2003.

    Admittedly we’re talking a small sample size, but in the 3 games I’ve seen stats for him, he’s 0-13 with 7 K’s and 1 BB. All this coming against competition that’s a level or more below him (3 of those K’s were in an extended spring training game, which doesn’t exactly scream “quality competition”).

    I’m probably overreacting, but if this is how he’s doing against lesser competition, I don’t have a lot of faith left that he’ll end up being the kind of hitter we hoped he’d be after getting his wrist fixed.

  • chrisfchi

    I tend to rear BN while at work, and do so with my phone. Anything that helps speed up load time on my end is awesome.

    • Kansas Cubs Fan

      This sound so wrong.

      • Jp3

        Yikes.

  • fromthemitten

    Marmol’s been good since being demoted but his lack of strikeouts worries me. Considering how atrocious the defense has been I welcome Barney back with open arms. Hopefully he learned some patience at the plate while on the DL

    • hansman1982

      ha, maybe the blow to the wall knocked that piece of his brain back into place?

      • fromthemitten

        SUPER VISION!

        • hansman1982

          You could say it was an ‘evolution’ in his career.

          Maybe when it’s all said and done, the wall loves him and he loves the wall?

    • ncsujuri

      Strikeouts are boring, get some ground balls, it’s more democratic!

  • Idaho Razorback

    I understand the advertising Brett. It’s like a jumbo tron in Wrigley, inevitable.

  • Kevin

    Maybe have a couple Blogathons instead of just one, Draft day and the Trade deadline sound like they would both work.

  • Hee Seop Chode

    I think for the most part the advertising here is tasteful and well done. On the mobile side, about 25% of the time i get automatically sent to an app purchase in the app store. Does anyone get this?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’m trying to get that removed. I hate it, too.

  • Hawkeye

    Brett,
    I was commuting to work this morning listening to our local sports radio station in Des Moines, KXNO. They were talking about the Wrigely Renovations, and when they wanted to get some clarity and details, they sited work straight from BN. They actually read three or four paragraphs of your write up word for word. Well Done. You know you have arrived when you are refreneced on Des Moines #1 (and only) sports talk radio show.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Sweet. Thanks for sharing that, Hawkeye.

    • ncsujuri

      Isn’t that plagiarism?!?! ;)

  • BD

    The ads have never bothered me, and I kinda like the ad at the end of the post. Thanks Brett and keep up the great coverage!

    Also- when do the Obsessive “Matt Garza to the Angels” posts begin?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Soon, actually.

  • CubFan Paul

    Bruce Levine (of course) was first to ask about payroll in the presser yesterday, so of course he wrote about it:

    “The Cubs payroll has dropped $40 million since 2008, the last season the team was in the playoffs…Another baseball source said that the Cubs must pay $40 million a year over 15 years in debt service for their purchase of the Cubs”

    http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/id/16164/how-soon-will-deal-benefit-baseball-side

  • Dustin S

    On the plus-side bleacher tickets are now going for less than $10 AFTER fees on resale sites (insert ad here). I guess it is one small short-term benefit to rebuilding.

  • Koyie Hill Sucks

    “Regardless of whether you feel Barney is a good starting second baseman on a playoff-caliber team,” … I never understand the Barney hate, seems to me all championship teams have good defense and guys that work the pitchers. It seems to me like an ideal player to have on a winning team, and he is a 2nd baseman, not a position were you expect alot of offensive production.

    Aside from that he has had some hits in pressure situation if I recall. Regardless, I think he is the type of player you want on a winning team. He is a gold glover afterall…

    • CubFan Paul

      The Cubs aren’t a championship team, or a winning team nor is Barney as clutch as you recall. Besides all that great point.

      • JDBlades

        He doesn’t strike out and works the count, which we need more guys like that. He works hard and is a good teammate, not to mention his glove is excellent. I can see him improving his average and OBP, hell he’s only in his third year. A full year in the 8 hole and I can see his walk rate improve, also.

        • CubFan Paul

          LOL@improving his average and OBP. New to baseball or do you think Darwin is under the age of 23?

        • Edwin

          The Cubs need more players that can draw walks, and hit for power. Working the count and not striking out is nice, but what really drives an offense is the ability to get on base (which Barney doesn’t do) and hit for power (he doesn’t do that either).

          Working hard and being a good teammate is nice, but so far it hasn’t translated into actual on-field results.

          His glove is excellent, which is where he gets almost all of his value. But since hitting is much more important than fielding, there’s only so much value that Barney can provide with his defense, before his bad offense weighs him down.

          He might improve his average and OBP, but he’s in his age 27-28 season. At this point most players are done developing. And Barney has a long way to go to become even a below average hitter. Even if he does get better, he’s probably an average MLB 2B at best.

          Barney is a nice player, he’s just not a long term solution for 2B.

  • Kidchicago

    Brett, the ads are good and necessary. And I even click on some to help out.

    On Marmol, I strongly disagree with your conclusion that he could be the best option. So far, Russell is clearly the best option for closer. No one else is even close. You say it would be nice to have Russell available for other situations, but lots of things would be nice – scoring more than two runs per game, for example. We have to work within the realm of the possible, and Russell gives the Cubs the best possible hot of avoiding demoralizing letdowns in the 9th inning. You’ve said yourself that even if Marmol succeeds for short periods as a closer, other teams won’t trade for him because he is always one implosion away from sustained wildness. So why not leave him in the setup role, where he seems to be thriving, and leave Russell in the closer role until he pulls a Marmol (or succeeds and ends the debate)?

  • ISU Birds

    This series preview is brought to you by cialis, “get excited for the Cubs!”, cialis.

  • Cubbie Blues

    Game Day Threads sponsored by jagermeister. “For the times when you really need it jagermeister is there.”

    • CubFan Paul

      Jager isn’t strong enough for Theo&Co’s “rebuilding”. I’ve switched to Jameson this year.

      I’ll be 90 proofin’ it next year if they don’t at least field an 85 win team.

  • Stockholm Cubs

    BN is whitelisted from home computer also. Finally. (although most of visits come from cell or work without blockers).

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Very much appreciated.

  • wax_eagle

    Have you ever considered attempting a crowdfunding campaign to keep the lights on for a year or so?

  • Die hard

    Starting pitchers are babied today— there should be no excuse not to go 8 innings each time out– use 6 starters if have to — build up starters and relieving will take care of itself

    • DocPeterWimsey

      It has nothing to do with babying starting pitchers. It has everything to do with winning: starting in the early 1970′s, managers who used closers (then called “firemen” and various other terms) such as Fingers, Carroll, Lyle, etc., started to make post-season a lot more frequently than teams that did not. Starting in the 1980′s, teams with good setup guys seemed to start doing better than teams that didn’t have those.

      It also reflects winning managers going away from great-fielding, poor hitting middle infielders and CFers who were good for 2 or 3 pitch ABs to good hitting CFers, 2Bmen and eventually SS’s. Again, when you look at the strong teams of that era, they had strong bats in positions where 2nd division teams had “don’t strike out” guys. That meant more guys who took more pitches, and the end of 10-pitch innings (unless you were facing the Cubs).

      And, of course, the elimination of foul ground (you were pretty much guaranteed on foul popout an inning in the 1970′s; now, you might get one a game) and the shrinking of the strike zone meant that the 10-pitch innings for which pitchers used to strive were becoming really tough.

      So, it has nothing to do with “babying”: it’s just another take on Van Valen’s law.

      And, of course, it reflects

      • Die hard

        So we agree that Cubs need to try something new given that all the reasons you cited aren’t working and thus do not apply to this team

  • Die hard

    What have Cubs got to lose at this point? Try a new threshold for starters by requiring them to stay in the game until give up 5 runs or complete 8 innings- could instill confidence in them not to press like Jackson says he’s doing– give them some wiggle room to help them relax a bit– could make a huge difference in success rate and as a result solve reliever issues

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