scott feldman cubsTravel delays that got me home in the wee hours of the morning and the responsibilities of having young children have conspired to yield me approximately two hours of sleep. I am weary. Forgive any temporary lapses in spelling, grammar, thoughtfulness, or hygiene.

  • Scott Feldman’s last four starts: 1.63 ERA, .524 OPS against, 7 BB, 15 H, 27.2 IP, 23 K. Those are just stupid, crazy, ridiculous good numbers. His ERA has dropped after every single start this year, from 7.00 after the first game, to 2.70 after his effort last night. Now that you’re all excited about him, I’ll remind you that he left last night’s start with a hand problem. He says it was just a cramp, and no one seems even the slightest bit worried (it’s an afterthought in every article about his start). So, I’m not worried, either. But it’s a Cubs player with a minor health issue, so you had a right to know, and a right to freak out (irrationally or not).
  • Everyone who was there for Matt Garza’s second rehab start says he looked good, crisp, and healthy. Garza, himself, told the Des Moines Register that he just needs another tune-up or two and he’ll be ready to go. Garza is recovering from a strained lat, which he suffered in Spring Training. He’s also pitching competitively for the first time since a stress reaction in his elbow ended his 2012 season in July.
  • GM Jed Hoyer basically told the media that the Cubs’ record (12-20) is an accurate reflection of how they’ve played, and pointed to the bullpen struggles and inability to add onto leads as the primary culprits in the Cubs’ rough start.
  • Jesse Rogers offers a thought on why Edwin Jackson should be the odd man out of the rotation, if everyone is healthy and pitching well when Matt Garza returns in a week and a half: since Jackson is not a trade candidate, there’s nothing to lose by putting him in the pen. If you put Feldman or Carlos Villanueva in the pen, their trade value decreases. It’s an interesting, and legitimate angle on the decision, but it is one that is predicated on the idea that Jackson is pitching so much worse than every other starter, an idea that, as I discussed yesterday, I’m not so sure is accurate. For now, I’m sticking with what I’ve said all along: worry about it when Garza is actually due back. Things can happen in the interim that make the decision much easier.
  • On the promotion of Ryan Sweeney, the fourth left-handed outfielder on the Cubs’ big league roster, Dale Sveum shared his thoughts. “Sweeney is just a guy we wanted to get up here anyway to kind of balance out the bench and [add] flexibility when we give [Alfonso Soriano] days off and things like that,” Sveum said per the Tribune. “He’s another guy on the bench who can hit and hit the ball out of the ballpark.” To me, that reads like a guy who doesn’t want to say either (a) that he simply didn’t want Dave Sappelt on the roster anymore, or (b) that he has no idea why the front office made the switch. To my mind, it’s pretty clear: Sweeney was going to have the right to opt-out at some point, Sappelt was struggling, Sweeney is a big league fourth outfielder, and the Cubs might make a handful of trades in the outfield in the next couple months. Combine that all together, and you get a call-Sweeney-up-whenever stew. Hell, the sooner you call him up, there’s a small chance that he, himself, could build some trade value.
  • I patted myself on the back about Luis Valbuena on Twitter last night, and I’m going to do it today about Anthony Rizzo’s breakout the last two weeks. It pretty much coincided with me writing this piece. Ignore all other prognostications/analyses about which I was wrong. I knocked that one out of the park like a hanger to Rizzo.
  • Alex

    No doubt Brett, hell I watch the games and I still felt Rizzo was struggling a little bit, but your piece really explained things, and same goes for EJax. One thing you didn’t touch on but maybe I’m wrong is the very beloved Ian Stewart. I noticed on twitter that he took his 72 hours that he had to “report” for the Iowa cubs although he was already there, and went home for the weekend. Given Dales attitude and what hea been saying along the way on the situation, Safe to say he’ll never play a game under Dale again?

    • Craig

      It’s possible the Cubs let him go home for a few days to clear his head and come back and start over since he had the 72 hours. The Cubs may have encouraged it. I’m no fan of Stewart but we don’t know the whole story.

      • JoeyCollins

        Jesse Rogers had an article about it with some quotes from Jed that seemed like this was not what the Cubs wanted. He doesn’t come right out and say that, and the quotes could be read differently, but Jesse sure made it sound as though this is Stewart doing what he wants again. I have been hopeful for a Stewart return this whole time but this may be the end of that.

        • Craig

          If that is true keep Stewart at Iowa all year unless we need someone to cover an injury

          • JoeyCollins

            yeah thats kind of where I’m at.

  • Koyie Hill Sucks

    Valbuena has been a pleasant surprise, hopefully he can keep it up.

    I would also like to see him play against some LHP…

  • Werner

    I forget these things. Did Feldman pitch for the Twins and then was injured and then picked up by the Cubs? Is this going to be a little four game mirage and then back to being craptacular?

    • Cedlandrum

      You are thinking of Baker. Feldman pitched for Rangers.

  • jay

    All this hand-wringing over Rizzo made me laugh. Even when he was barely hitting .200, his OBP was well over .800 which told you all you needed to know. PLUS, he was homering off lefties, which didn’t happen last year. His swing is too compact and his batting eye too good for him to ever go over the cliff. He may never be a .300 hitter (although it wouldn’t surprise me) but 40 bombs and 100 ribbies even with this putrid supporting cast seems like a lock as long as he’s on the field.

    • Sandberg

      His .800 OBP is record pace. 😉

    • Dustin S

      I’ve figured Rizzo would end up in the .270 range this season, the low average early was just a small sample size and slow April. That’s a lot more in-line with his career minor league numbers. It’s easy to worry about a sophomore slump or that pitchers find a hole in his swing that he can’t adjust to, but in his case he was hitting the ball well but usually just right at people.

      On Sappelt, I didn’t see it happen but on CSN yesterday they were talking about Sappelt not running through first on ground balls a couple of times and that it probably didn’t help his situation.

  • jay

    Meanwhile so much for Brett Jackson’s “new approach at the plate ala Rizzo”. Hitting a whopping .219 down at AAA and his peripherals are crappy as well.

    • willis

      And on the DL to boot…not the best last few months of baseball for him. Seems like he’s flaming out.

  • North Side Irish

    Feldman was the feature item in Buster Olney’s blog this morning…just talked about how well he’s pitched and how it could pay off for him after the season since so many of the big name FA pitchers have been injured/ineffective.

  • SamuraiJock

    With the successful start to the season from almost the whole rotation (i’m willing to give Jackson a pass until his luck settles down a bit) I think the front office deserve some praise for the pitching depth we now find ourselves with. Once Garza/Baker are healthy, thats 7 legitimate options for SP without promoting anybody from AAA (Moscoso/Raley/Rusin etc.)

    In previous years Hendry would have signed only Baker and needed him to make the opening day, meaning Chris Rusin would have made a lot of starts already.

  • ssckelley

    I know this sounds crazy and I don’t even know why I am making this comment but I keep wondering if Jackson has the stuff to close. It would not be the first time we have ever seen a pitcher who has had success as a starter become a good closer.

  • fortyonenorth

    Who was it that said that Valbuena was the worst starter in MLB?

  • ottoCub

    Here’s an idea for discussion: When Garza returns, why not move the best pitcher to the bullpen? The Cubs (obviously) need to solidify the bullpen. If they move someone who is throwing the ball well into the bullpen (Feldman? Villanueva?), this will greatly improve the bullpen, and give Sveum more options. He’ll also have more confidence going to the bullpen. This will also put this pitcher on the mound more often, and in important game situations. Assuming Garza is pitching well, there wouldn’t be any loss in the starting rotation, and a move like this could help settle the bullpen situation.

    • Brett

      The unfortunate reason is that, by the time Garza returns, “winning games” is no longer going to be the priority. Creating and protecting trade value is going to be the most important thing (as it should be).

      • ottoCub

        Good point, Brett. Potential trade value is a very good reason to consider keeping Feldman and Villanueva in the starting rotation. But the Cubs also need to think about the future (when they might start winning games :) ). If they are committed to Samardzija, Garza, Jackson, and Wood long-term, they need to consider honoring this commitment by giving them the starts they deserve. It will be a difficult decision, any way they look at it.

        • Eternal pessemist

          I don’t think having long term committment to them means you owe them the starters role…that is earned by performance. By the way, they all get their paychecks and should be do whatever is asked of them.

          We have jackson under control for a long time and need to showcase our other starters for the eventual sell-off so I would like him to go temporarily to the pen. That just might give him the chance to get his head back in the game. He will be a starter again when we clear the room anyway

  • JulioZuleta

    Six man rotation for 6 weeks seems simple enough to me. It probably wouldn’t even have to be 6 weeks, ne is likely to be traded before that absolute deadline.

    Assume Garza comes back May 22 (and no one gets traded until July 31, which is unlikely, the Cubs will have 61 games in that time (2 of which are a part of a scheduled DH, where a 6 man would be ideal). Over 61 games, each guy would only miss 2 starts in a 6 man rotation. Between trying to keep Samardzija’s pitch count down, and slowly trying to work Garza back, I think it’s the best option by far. Also, theoretically it could help the BP. By having that extra day of rest, you may be able to tick that pitch count up in certain cases.

    Also, this is all assuming no injuries occur. What happens when one of these guys spends 3-4 weeks in the pen and then has to jump back into the rotation? Not ideal either. Anyways, it’s a good problem to have.

    • Cyranojoe

      I’m mildly surprised Brett hasn’t suggested this yet. Sure, it’s not common, but if the SP continues to perform as they have, going with the 6-man doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Everybody gets a little extra rest, too, which I’d bet most of them need.

  • Patrick

    What’s the best (and cheapest) way to get some bleacher seats for a game on 7/6?

  • farmerjon

    I’ve maintained for the past couple weeks…we are NOT as bad as our record indicates. Give us a little luck, clutch, bullpen and we are right there.

    • Voice of Reason

      How can any team be better or worse than their record?

      Your record is the number of wins you had at the end of the games you won and your losses are the games that you were trailing at the end of the game? It is what it is!

      If we had a little luck, clutch, bullpen and we are right there???

      And, if the queen had balls she would be king!

      • willis

        It’s a cliche that is used way too much. But at the end of the day, bottom line matters. Yes, the Cubs have been in a ton of games they lost, but they still lost them. I’d love to see that even out, but for now, they are 12-20 and in last place in a mediocre division.

        • Voice of Reason

          Good teams win games whether they are by 8 runs or 1 run.

          Bad teams lose games whether they are by 8 runs or 1 run.

          The Cubs are a bad team and the record is the reflection of how bad!

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Actually, these statements are untrue. Good teams have their “blowout” games concentrated in wins and their loses tend to be close. After all, the only way to beat a good team is to keep the game close. Bad teams have their blowouts concentrated in loses and their wins tend to be close. After all,the only hope a bad team has to win is to keep the game close. In general, the closer the difference in scores, the closer teams’ records are to 0.500. After all, the ’03 Tigers had a 0.520 record in 1-run games whereas the ’04 Sox had a 0.440 record in 1-run games. What they really had in common is that neither played in many 1-run games.

            • Voice of Reason

              There is nothing factually untrue in the statements I posted above.

              I’ll re-post for your pleasure there, Doctor!

              Good teams win games whether they are by 8 runs or 1 run.

              Bad teams lose games whether they are by 8 runs or 1 run.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        A fair coin that flips 59 heads in 100 tosses is still a fair coin. We expect such a deviation one time in every 30 replicates. We still can project 50 heads in the next 100 tosses.

        It is the same principle here. The Cubs actually have a +0.036 net OPS. In the last 50 years, 114 teams have had a net OPS between 0.031 and 0.041 for the season. Only 11 finished at 0.500 or lower. The median winning percentage was 0.549, so that means that we actually expected 13 or 14 sub-0.500 records from 114 0.549 teams. (And, no, that is not a significant deviation by any stretch.)

        What is hurting the Cubs is, in particular, lack of slugging with men on base. They are hitting singles, K’ing and walking at the expected rates: but they are getting only 2/3rds of the expected extra base hits. The bullpen has hurt, too: but the Cubs would be 14-18 if games ended after 6 innings (assuming that the 3 “ties” after 6 innings would have turned out as the 9 inning game did). “Fix” the first thing and the 2nd will be less of an issue.

        My question is, is this really a +0.036 OPS team? I estimated them for about -0.035! However, that is a whole different distribution test!

  • Jono

    Trade bait!

  • svazcub

    Is it just me, or does it seem a bit odd that the Cubs own GM is going out of his way to convince fans and the media that the team is not, in fact, any good?

    • Bric

      It’s not just you. In fact I’d go a little farther and say it’s the entire front office (since their positions seem to be nebulous and interchangeable).