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carlos villanueva the stacheObviously there is some scariness continuing in Boston this morning, so I hope everyone up in that area stays inside, stays safe, and the situation is resolved quickly.

  • Yet another awesome quote from The Stache, who’s been the Cubs’ best pitcher so far this year. “[I stick to the game  plan] because I don’t throw 98 [mph] and I have to,” Carlos Villanueva said, per Paul Sullivan. “I have to have an advantage somehow. I might not pitch 98, but I can throw four pitches for strikes and make those four look like eight because I can vary speeds. Most of my countrymen from the Dominican are blessed with power arms. I’m not.” It’s easy to watch Villanueva pitch and be unimpressed by his stuff because we’re so trained to dig the velocity. But he reminds me of watching (his former teammate) Shaun Marcum dominate the Cubs so many times – never touches 90, but works every inch of the zone at a variety of speeds with a variety of pitches. It’s hard for hitters to get comfortable, and pretty much all they can do is hope for a mistake like the two solo homers yesterday.
  • Obviously we’re quite a ways off, but if Matt Garza and Scott Baker (whatever happened with his doctor visit this week?) were to come back ready to go tomorrow, what would happen with the Cubs’ rotation? You can’t bounce Villanueva, and you can’t bounce Travis Wood. I guess maybe you’d have to piggyback Scott Baker, because none of Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson or Matt Garza is going in the bullpen no matter what.
  • After DFA’ing reliever Hisanori Takahashi earlier this week, the Cubs must have immediately waived him, because he cleared waivers yesterday and was outrighted to AAA Iowa. I’m a bit surprised that he accepted the assignment, but it’s possible he hasn’t been outrighted before and thus didn’t have the right to refuse the assignment. He’s advanced in age, but not in service time, so he doesn’t have some of the same rights you’d expect of a late-30s veteran.
  • Ian Stewart, who had aggressively predicted he’d be back with the Cubs before May, probably got a little screwed by the rain. The last two games have been rained out at Iowa, delaying his return. In his absence, Luis Valbuena – when he’s not swinging at pitches that hit him in the knee – has his OBP up to .364.
  • Also screwed by the rain? Kane County, which no longer gets to host Matt Garza’s first rehab start today. Instead, Garza will throw a simulated game with the Cubs in Milwaukee before heading out to Tennessee to join the Smokies for his first minor league rehab start.
  • Anthony Rizzo’s monster shot yesterday – a 475-foot homer to right center – was the longest homer in baseball this year.
  • Shawn Camp says he feels healthy this year, despite a herculean workload in 2012 and an ugly start to the 2013 season.
  • It was beautiful here yesterday, and The Wife and I wanted to take the kids out for a walk after the Cubs game ended. With Carlos Marmol pitching in the 9th, we were both nervous about the implications for the rest of our day. When Marmol got the final out in a nice slider, I audibly gasped. The Wife, thinking the Cubs had just blown it and delayed our plans, looked up at me and said, “No! What!?” Then she looked at the screen, where she could clearly see that the game was over. I said, “It’s fine, the game is over. I was just surprised at the pitch. We’re OK.” She says, “Don’t jinx us.” I respond, “But the game is over. They won.” She says, “It’s the Cubs. Something can always happen.”
  • Frank Nagy III

    I’m a little confused by the section about who leaves the rotation when Baker and Garza are healthy. I was expecting mention of Feldman

    • Randy

      agree. Feldman wil be the od man out and in the bullpen

      • hansman1982

        If we have 5 pitchers, and you add 2, but only subtract 1 you still have too many starting pitchers.

        Although:

        ” You can’t bounce Villanueva, and you can’t bounce Travis Wood.”

        I’m guessing, by mid-May, one of these two will come back to Earth.

        • WGNstatic

          Even if the do come back to Earth somewhat, do the Cubs send them to the ‘pen?

          What about a 6-man rotation? You have two guys coming of significant injuries and another (Villanueva) who has never thrown more than 125 innings in a season. Might it make sense to use a 6-man rotation to give each of them some extra rest?

          That would also have the advantage of maintaining the potential trade value of a guy like Wood or Villanueva (assuming they pitch well) as starters rather than as a reliever.

          That of course assumes that all come back healthy and the rest stay healthy and productive.

          • Noah

            No. Six man rotations are bad ideas. First, there is no evidence that switching to a six man rotation prevents injuries. Second, it greatly reduces the number of times your best starters are starting. For example, should Jeff Samardzija stay healthy he should make right 32-33 starts in a five man rotation. In a six man rotation he only makes 27. And those 5 starts you’re going to take away from him are going to be given to an inferior pitcher.

            • WGNstatic

              The injury/health question is an interesting one. I would love to see studies/statistics on this question. While this may be true for healthy pitchers and those with a history of 200 IP seasons, would the same hold true for guys like Baker, Villanueva, and Garza?

              As for the #1 vs. #6 starter and the innings that are being robbed from you front end guys. Quite true. However. There might be a few reasons this is an exception.

              1) The gap between the Cubs’ starters is arguably less than the typical spread between your #1 and #6 starter.
              2) 3 of your top starters, arguably the 2-4 starters (Garza, Baker, Villanueva) are all guys you would like to protect from a heavy workload.
              3) Even Samardzija threw a career high 174 IP last season, so keeping him below 200 IP might not be a bad idea for this year as well.

              • Noah

                I don’t think there could really be any studies on it because no one has used a 6 man rotation for any extended period of time.

                The current thought is that you’d be better off using that 6th starter as a multi-inning reliever. Have a tight game and your starter has burned through 97 pitches in the first 5 innings? Well, that’s a great time to have a nominal starter who you know can at least go through a lineup once pitch the next 2-3 innings.

                With that said, as hansman has noted, this will probably all work itself out. Garza is still probably at least 3 weeks away, and one of Feldman, Wood and Villanueva will look like the best option to go to the pen (or someone else will get injured). And even if everyone is healthy when Baker is ready to come back, having multiple guys in the bullpen you trust to go multiple innings is probably not a bad thing.

        • willis

          They can both bounce back to earth, or hell for that matter, and they will be more effective than Feldman. He’s the guy for the pen. Not those two, once Garza comes back (God willing). Which, we still don’t know when that will be. Regardless, even if Wood and/or Villanueva have a couple shaky outings, they won’t be as bad as Feldman.

        • Kubphan82

          So your guess is Villanueva? Because Wood has been solid for almost a years worth of pitching now… I think we are about to be outside his horrible start to last season… In any case, we are about to be in a very good spot…when and IF we even get these pitchers back.

          I also want to point out that Wood has pitched well as a Cub and was one of the first acquisitions of this front office. While anyone is tradeable, I seriously doubt Wood gets sent out or sent to the pen… IMO, he’s anointed like Shark.

          I wanted Shierholtz and Villanueva in the offseason, and I’d like to keep them longer than this year… Especially in light of current performance. If it tapers, fine. But we should enjoy these players while they are on their game.

  • KidCubbie

    Does Rizzo have a multi-hit game yet this season?

    • cedlandrum

      one, he was 2-5 against the braves.

      • KidCubbie

        Thanks. I heard he made solid contact all day yesterday so maybe he is heating up. He should be somewhere around .280-.290 when its all said and done.

  • Troy

    I seriously doubt baker will pitch this season if he does it will be after Garza is traded or we’ve had a significant change in personnel

    • Troy

      There are too many variables

  • Troy

    I guess there is just to many variables to even speculate

  • Stevie B

    My wife had a friend at the house last week when the Cubs coughed one up. I spewed a few obscenities and the girl asked “What happened?”
    My wife : “Oh I’m sure the Cubs just blew it…..they always do”

    Nice…….

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

    truer words have never been spoken. might as well keep her around brett

  • Chad

    You bounce Feldman and then piggy back Baker on somebody. However, I don’t think we ever see Baker pitch for the Chicago Cubs. Just a feeling I have.

    • cubchymyst

      I think we will see Baker pitch for the Cubs this year, but I think it is going to be delayed till after the trade deadline. There might be an open rotation spot at that point if Garza is traded.

      • willis

        I agree, if we see him, it’ll be late July at least. And that’s not a sure thing at this point. But if he does come back, it’s going to be a couple months yet after his set back at least before he gets into game action I would think. And really, what’s the rush?

  • http://none millhah

    hose or host :)

  • Fastball

    Camp sucks last year was his life dream. I have said all along he isn’t any good. Can’t throw hard enough to break a window. He will be dfa’d within the month for younger arms in the minors.

    • davidalanu

      Camp has been quite good three of the last four years. You don’t like him because he doesn’t throw hard- fine. But your opinion doesn’t make it so. He’s getting up there in years, but his performance over the last four years doesn’t indicate that he sucks.

      • http://401klogic.net Westbound Willie

        The mariners tossed him to the curb last spring. Do you know why they did that?

        • davidalanu

          No, I don’t, but his performance last year showed that it was the wrong decision.

  • Jp3

    My wife, “why do they keep making excuses to pitch Marmol?!?!?” My response, “well, it’s complicated, they are trying to showcase his talents for a potential trade”. She quips with “he has no talent, what talent?”. Touché wife.

  • Farley Flash

    First of all lets put things in perspective. I love the Cubs but they are not going to win the Worls Series this year. Having said that I like the thought about a potential 6 man rotation. It would protect arms in a year that once again we are not going to chase the World Series. However, we could use some serious help in the bullpen so the pitcher that would go to the bullpen should be the one that could help us the most in that position. With that off my chest I do not think we are going to have to worry a whole lot about this problem because things happen in baseball with players so I think the decision will be made on the field. If it even becomes a situation.

  • Internet Random

    I wish my Spanish was as good as Villanueva’s English… Now that I think about it, I wish that Paul Sullivan’s English was as good as Villanueva’s English.

    Also, I’m being served ads for the Betty Ford Clinic. I’m not sure if that’s a comment on me or the site. Customarily I would ponder such a question over my morning beer, but that feels a little weird now. Thanks for ruining it, Internet.

    • Internet Random

      *were as good

  • Jamie Weiss

    Marmol’s last few appearances seem to jive better with what he did in the second half of last year, so maybe he’s starting to get his shit together. I would like to see Rondon used more often, and in a few high leverage situations to see what he’s capable of.

    This team has played well enough to be 8-6 or 9-5. LOVE the efforts of our starters…except for Feldman. He’s puke.

  • Cubbies4Life

    Watched the 9th inning yesterday here at the Law Factory in my vacationing boss’s office. When they put Marmol on the mound: “OH, SHIIIIIIIITTTTTT!!!”
    When he started throwing deathballs at the batters: “AREYOUF***INGKIDDINGME??!!!!”
    When he got us out of the 9th with a win: “IDONOTBELIEVEITTHANKYOULORD!!!”
    At that point, HR had been alerted and I was referred to an EAP counselor. I told him I wasn’t crazy, I was a Cubs fan. They put a notation in my personnel file…

  • Idaho Razorback

    No Betty Ford ads for me. I’m on my 5th “morning” beer right now but I work nites so it’s about 7 pm for me.

  • Idaho Razorback

    Feldman is last years Volstad

  • preacherman86

    Start Baker as a long relief option next to Feldman, and just insert Garza. Baker is a guy who has been out a long long time, and could use a lighter pitch-load for awhile anyway. Plus by the time we get to that scenario, maybe we have traded one of our current starters and have the vacancy, or (God forbid) somebody else has an injury. It’s a long way off to be concerned. The only concern now should be Feldman’s, ushering himself to the bullpen already.

  • cubmig

    The posted comment about saving/protecting the arms of our 5 starters by going with a 6-man rotation because this season is not going anywhere (paraphrased) causes me to ask: Save them for what? The certainty of success in the following year? That kind of crystal-ball advice is even more scary than letting them do what they were brought in to do. Save/protect arms? I wish guaranteeing future performance was that simple. Plus, that this team has been written off completely from competing this year, is too presumptive. No one knows how this season is going to end for this team. Damn stat prognostications. Baseball has so many factors that are constantly changing that the only stats that count are those that become “locked in” when simple math quashes all hope.

    I say if the 5 man rotation is staffed with the best we have, pitch them. Don’t limit their starts. We don’t need to create situations where a “probable” cuts into current win ratios to save arms for any future hoped performance arms which may never happen. If you have to find a spot for the two who are thought/seen to add promise, move someone to make room. Just my two cents.

    • George

      Weren’t there assumptions off signing baker on the cheap to possibly flip him for young talent? So why not give him the best chance to succeed & shine in a six man rotation, would benefit garza as well cause after all there’s been rumors off trading him as we’ll. Cubs arent going anywhere this season but 4th or 5th place cubmig so what the f are u insinuating? Quit dreaming, & don’t be dumb & gullible this team is going nowhere , no situational hitting, no closer& our relief pitchers blow no hard throwers just a bunch off rejected ballplayers the other teams let go.

  • Farley Flash

    Ok, so your right this staff should not be considered the MASH unit of basebal. Are you kidding me! Other than Jackson and Wood a case can be made for every starter to get extra rest. The Shark should be fine but if we are going to sign him long term a little less in this season would not be the worse thing (but he would be fine), the stache has not been a starter for an entire season, Garza no need to push and the same for Baker and Feldman. Let’s keep putting the pieces together for the near future even if that means to build them up for trade bait.

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