darwin barney smileI don’t find soccer to be particularly enjoyable to watch. It’s a touch better in person than on TV, but it can make baseball look like an action-packed zoom-fest. That said, the actual goals in soccer tend to be among the most amazing plays in all of sports.

  • Dale Sveum believes Darwin Barney, who went 3-4 last night with a double and a homer, can come out of his offensive funk with some subtle changes. “It was a combination of trying to be somebody you aren’t,” Sveum said of Barney’s problems, per ESPN. “He has pull-side ability of driving the ball [to left] and really numb to the right side. He just had to start hitting the ball hard and not trying to jam it into right field. He does not have the strength to hit over the center fielder’s or right fielder’s head.” I flinch just a tiny bit hearing that, because I remember the last time a Cubs manager said his small second baseman need to try and pull the ball more to take advantage of what power he had. That manager was Lou Piniella, and that second baseman was Ryan Theriot, who hit a few more home runs, but essentially was never the same patient, use-all-fields hitter again. In this case, however, Barney’s offensive success has been extremely limited, so there’s not much risk in changing his approach. On-base is never going to be his thing, so you might as well try to squeeze out a little more power, especially considering his contact skills.
  • It sounds like Carlos Villanueva, who was lit up by the Rockies last night, sees the writing on the wall with Matt Garza soon to return to the rotation. “Obviously, I have my own opinions,” Villanueva said of the rotation crunch, per Cubs.com. “Obviously, a move will be made. A night like tonight didn’t help my cause. I’ll take the ball whenever they need me to. I’d like to contribute and to win as many ballgames as we can. In the end, it really doesn’t matter that much what I think. Whatever happens will happen and they’ll make their decisions. We’re professionals here and we’ll handle it like professionals.” At this point, barring a change, bumping Villanueva to the pen, for now, seems like the right move. It isn’t just about this season’s performance (though you’ll recall that many folks were projecting this regression from Villanueva based on his peripherals in April), it’s also about past performance (Villanueva has been a successful swing man before) and trade considerations.
  • Garza’s next rehab start is tomorrow at Iowa, and, if he goes at least six innings, it’s possible he’ll head up to the big team after that. If not, he could make another rehab start before returning.
  • Luis Valbuena, who’s missed a few games with a hurt pinkie, is expected back in the lineup tonight.
  • Dave Kaplan looks at the Cubs’ terrible performance at Wrigley Field sine 1945. Home-field advantage … not so much.
  • Theo Epstein’s annual Hot Stove Cool Music benefit will be June 21 at The Metro, and tickets go on sale Saturday at noon ($50). Details here.
  • A reminder for those who missed it: BN’er Oswego Chris wrote a book, which is awesome, and you should check it out. Details on the book (and my involvement) here. You can purchase it on Amazon here – it’s 10% off right now. If you’ve already gotten a copy and enjoyed it, I’m sure Chris would appreciate an honest review there on Amazon.
  • college_of_coaches

    My wife bought Chris’s book for me as a birthday present. Looking forward to it as summer reading once I’m done grading.

  • brobots

    Hey Brett – is Oswego Chris selling the book himself, in addition to selling through Amazon? My wife is an author, and I know she gets a bit of a raw deal when people go through the online markets…but gets a much better deal if she sells directly to the buyer.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I know that he’s selling it in some bricks and mortar stores locally, and I know he gets a better cut from those sales. I’m not 100% sure of the locations, but hopefully Chris will see this and chime in. I’m going to interview him later this week, so I’ll make sure to ask that.

    • oswego chris

      Thanks for the shout out again Brett…

      There are currently two local bookstores that I am still waiting to hear from(they take a very long time before stocking it)…there are two local coffee shops that are currently selling it

      Amazon is quick and easy(and Brett splits the profits), but if you would like to purchase from me directly as a couple of people have(complete with a personal inscription which will be very valuable someday….heavy, heavy sarcasm implied) conatct me directly through twitter @oswegochris23 or @BBCG104Reasons


  • Hawkeye

    How would Garza fit back into the rotation as far as scheduling is returned. He an Villanueva don’t pitch on the same days, so will the Cubs need to get a bit creative in their scheduling. I don’t prentend to know enough about pitching and days off to venture a guess.

    • hansman1982

      The Cubs have off days tomorrow and Monday. This should allow them to slot Garza in without too much fish-flopping around.

  • Andrewmoore4isu

    Anyone thinking about going to watch garza tomorrow? I hear it’s underwear day or something

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      First 1000 to the park!

  • Rich H

    And more Pub from Brett because he wrote the Forward. Maybe he should start writing forwards for other genre of books so the rest of us can get some of that love.

    I am just kidding. It is really a great thing the way you are going the extra mile to help a person get his book out. Well done Brett. Very well done.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Hey now – I believe I’ve responded positively to your emails … :)

      • hansman1982

        I have a lady at work that writes romance novels. Maybe you could write forwards for her…

        • TWC

          Iowa romance novels? I’m intrigued.

          “The corn-fed lass’s heaving bosoms began to lightly perspire as she shucked the farmer’s ear of corn…”

      • Rich H

        Email? What is this email thing? Oh yeah that is how we get in contact now.

  • MichiganGoat

    So when Garza returns do we need to open up a spot on the 25-man? If so I sure hope that Shawn Camp comes down with the mysterious DL stint.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes. And, yeah, it’ll be a bullpenner.

    • Rich H

      Claim he has dead arm. Wait you have to have an arm left for it to be dead.

  • Cubbie Blues

    No need on the discount Chris, it is pure gold.

  • BluBlud

    I think Villanueva has done a great job filling in in the rotation, all things considered. Your swing guys is not supposed to be a super star, just a guy who can fill in and still give your team a chance to win when needed. He will go to the pen, and when we need another starter down the road, he’ll probably get the ball. It never hurts to have a guy like that in the Pen.

  • fester30

    I’m not sold on Kaplan’s article with regard to the home record. He links the home record to poor performance as a cause and effect relationship, and even throws day baseball in as a causal factor. He did not mention how the Cubs have fared on the road in the same period. Let’s face it. The Cubs have been pretty bad everywhere since 1945, not just at home. A bad team is going to fare worse at home than a good team. I think it’s more likely that the Cubs being a bad team caused the poor home record, not the other way around. Day baseball may hurt. However, I think it would be more telling if the Cubs were a superior road team since 1945. Then you could make the case that the poor home performance was a causal factor to lack of success. I doubt that is true, but I wish Kaplan would have gone deeper for his article.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I agree – the real question is how bad the Cubs have or haven’t been at home relative to how bad a team *like the Cubs would be expected to be* at “home.” It’s a fascinating subject that could really use a deep data analysis.

      I like that Kap started/continued the discussion, though. And his conclusions/figures, while not perfect, to jive with some research I did some time ago that showed the Cubs have an atrocious home/road split, even considering their general badness, in the last 10 years. I can’t find it, though. It may have just been a random comment or Message Board post.

  • Voice of Reason

    I’ll read a study from Bozo the Clown about the Cubs before I would read anything that Dave Kaplan has to say about the Cubs. Bozo has much more credibility.

  • cubzfan

    I think the quote from Sveum should read “really none” to the right side, not “really numb.”

    • Cubbie Blues

      I think numb works just fine when describing Darwin’s power.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I wasn’t there, but sometimes that’s how Dale speaks.

  • Frank F.

    Darwin Barney is a somewhat large asset with his glove. Ryan Theriot was just the opposite. I’ve felt all along that Barney’s future is as a utility MI, and that has not changed and probably never will.

    But again, as is the case with many players who become mangers, Dale was a gritty, noodle bat player, and as a result, like many players who become manager, Dale seems to over value those types of guys. Look at Ozzie Guillen; the guy loved Juan Pierre and Lily-breege. If it weren’t for mangers who see themselves in those types of players, they likely would never be in the bigs for more than a week at a time.

    • Cubbie Blues

      Sveum was neither a trough nor a “gritty” player. He was a first round draft pick for the Brewers. He looked like he was coming along nicely. In ’87 he posted 25 HRs. The following year he had a collision on the field and broke his leg. He was never the same after that. So, I guess you could actually call him gritty for remaining a replacement player for another 10 years.

    • jdblades

      I say move Barney to short, Castro to 3rd, and Watkins to 2nd next year and Valbuena the utility guy. That is until we have a 3b of the future, I just don’t see Valbuena as the answer quite yet. If he produces all year like he started keep him at 3rd, then Watkins 2b and Barney utility guy next year.

      • Cubbie Blues

        You absolutely don’t move Castro to 3rd. His bat plays great at SS but doesn’t hold water at 3B. If Castro moves anywhere it will be to 2B.

        • hansman1982


  • curt

    That’s a very interesting read on the not so home field advantage , it’s always been true though that wrigley depending on the weather plays like two different ballparks , wind blowing out you need bangers but if the winds are blowing in its small ball, however it’s also true if you have great players they can do both at times the cubs have had some great players but for the most part they have had a couple great players and to many filler players and just plain bad ones too, if theo and company out enough great players on the field it won’t matter what ghe weather or how the ballpark is playing .

  • DarthHater

    Two points about the Barney/Theriot comparison.

    First, it is my understanding that, with Theriot, the attempt to gain more power was a change to his prior approach to hitting. With Barney, I understood Sveum to be indicating that Barney himself had changed his approach with poor results and they were trying to return him to the approach from which he had gotten somewhat better results in the past. I could be wrong, but that was my impression.

    Second, with Theriot, the change was messing with a moderate degree of prior success as a batter. Barney has never been as successful hitting as Theriot was, so even if this attempt to gain more power is a completely new change to his approach, there would seem to be less potential downside than there was screwing around with Theriot.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      As to number two, that’s essentially what I said … :)

      • DarthHater

        Yea, guess you did at that. But I said it more verbosely! 😛