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white win flag wrigleyRough night personally/professionally, good night for the Cubs. I’m going to do my best to press the reset button today, and proceed with the lessons of yesterday in mind.

  • About that good night for the Cubs: it took them out of last place! The Cubs’ recent hot streak – 6-3 in their last nine games – coupled with a Brewers cold streak has brought the Cubs a few percentage points ahead of the Brewers in the NL Central. Do a dance and raise a flag, because this may not last.
  • Last night’s win came largely courtesy of Jeff Samardzija, who looked as good as he has any time this year. “He used the whole four corners of the plate,” manager Dale Sveum said, per CSN. “He pitched up. He pitched in. He pitched away. He used his slider. He used his split. He used a lot of cutters. He just used his whole repertoire. He knew what he was doing tonight. He was pitching. He wasn’t just out there throwing to one side of the plate. He was mixing it up, keeping them off-balance and breaking a lot of bats.” The cutters comment is interesting, as that was something that stood out to me last night – I felt like Samardzija was throwing more cutters than usual. Maybe it was a scouting report thing, or maybe he just felt like he had really strong command of it last night. The movement and velocity (92ish, consistently) on the cutter looked good, so either explanation would be understandable.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer writes about the prospect of a mid-season sell-off, even as the Cubs look marginally improved of late. “Make no mistake: If they don’t see a sustainable window of contention, even if the team is flirting among the wild-card leaders, they have to take advantage of one of the few means left for acquiring young talent.” This is correct, as painful as it might be come July.
  • Carlos Zambrano’s former teammates – Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Marmol, and Kevin Gregg – are happy to see him getting another chance, per Bruce Levine. Zambrano, 31, signed a minor league deal with the Phillies yesterday.
  • Paul Sullivan answered reader questions, and took on the “the Ricketts only want to make money” attitude among some fans. In Paul’s opinion, it would be pretty embarrassing for the Ricketts to rake in money while proceeding over a long-term terrible Cubs team. Instead, he sees the Ricketts as wanting to win AND wanting to make money in the process. Since the two are not unrelated – the better the Cubs perform, long-term, the more money that comes in the doors – that’s probably fair.
  • Speaking of “the Ricketts only want to make money,” yet another angry “the Ricketts only want to make money” article on the Wrigley renovation, this from the AP’s Jim Litke.  At least Litke does mention, buried in a throw-away sentence, that the Ricketts plan to pay for the renovation with their own money.
  • I meant to include in yesterday’s Tommy John piece that 2012 draftee, Josh Conway, recovering from Tommy John surgery, was lost for the season after suffering a stress fracture in his elbow. It’s a real shame, as Conway was pitching well, and now faces another year of recovering. All is not lost, though, if I could do some speculating: current Cubs reliever Hector Rondon is pitching relatively well a year after a stress fracture in his elbow, which came a year after Tommy John surgery (I’m wondering if the tendon replacement, which I believe weaves the “new tendon” through the bone, sometimes causes a fracture).
  • Having returned to Twitter, I asked Ian Stewart if he’d be willing to share his thoughts on everything that’s happened over the last couple weeks – to share his side of the story. He said only “maybe some day.” The world may never know …
  • Chop

    Remember those other news took your story too. They could have ignored it as well. I don’t see how they are any different.

  • Cubbies4Life

    YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY!!! I love to celebrate the little victories. BTW, Brett – I have always held you in high regard, and even more so now.

  • caryatid62

    If the Ricketts actually wanted to pocket money, they wouldn’t have allowed the team to be as terrible as they were last year.

    Questioning the rebuilding strategy is fair, but not the motivation.

    • terencemann

      Can’t agree with this more. It appears they’re willing to accept a short-term revenue dip in an attempt to build long-lasting revenue increases.

    • mak

      Yup

  • BluBlud

    Hey Brett, I know I disagreed with the article, but you making a mistake is no big deal. Shit happens. I think the appology only shows why you are the best writer/reporter/journalist(I will no longer call you a blogger, because I feel it disrespects your work) on the net, and I respect your writings more and not just for Cubs news. I’m on NC state Wolfpack blogs, Buccaneers blogs and Timberwolves blogs and none of those guys can hold a candle to your work.

    Hey, look at it this way. You have either made it, or you are well on your way if you writings have attracted this much attention.

  • waittilthisyear

    shows great character showing so much accountability re: yesterday’s misstep. could use a lot more of that in modern media. cheers

  • forlines

    HUZZAH! We are finally starting to play decent ball, and the results are showing. GO CUBS!

    btw Brett, I don’t think anyone has any ill feelings towards you regarding your article yesterday, but I will say, I appreciate your integrity and the fact that you realized it wasn’t ‘right’ to do. Keep your head up dude; your site is easily THE go to source for anything Cubbies, and that article doesn’t change my opinion in the least.

  • Craig

    No publicity is bad publicity. Maybe a few more people will be aware of bleacher nation and visit site on a regular basis

  • Smitty

    Brett,

    Very interesting take on the TJ Surgery possibly leading to the stress fractures. I wonder if there is a doctor on this site who might be able to validate that thought?

    Keep up the great work!

  • Alex

    Brett I know you feel you messed up, but honestly I think you should take it as a compliment that it broke all over Chicago so quickly as soon as a “blogger” posted it. Who are they to judge you, I saw Muscat and Sullivan with multiple tweets on it, neither said the source was questionable and I’ve seen no apologies from there end. So i say keep up the good work here, people obviously value what your saying. I think people just appreciate someone owning up when they feel they’ve made a mistake, but I hope you don’t let it affect how you cover things. Hopefully it can only makes you better. Keep it up.

  • Cubbie Blues

    “He said only “maybe some day.” The world may never know …”
    Kind of like that owl and the tootsie pop.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You picked up on that. :)

      • Cubbie Blues

        I’m corny like that. Except would that make Stewart a “wise” owl?

  • hansman1982

    I am sure glad the media elites are out there pounding the pavement giving us such hard hitting stories like:

    “Carlos Zambrano’s former teammates – Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Marmol, and Kevin Gregg – are happy to see him getting another chance, per Bruce Levine. Zambrano, 31, signed a minor league deal with the Phillies yesterday.”

    Man, watching baseball games for a living is just a real drain man.

  • mak

    Was thinking about the Cubs and the impending sell-off — in the context of “Moneyball,” which I caught a few minutes of on TV. Specifically, the part where the A’s suck, and then go on a tear, which felt like a progression to the mean. If that is what’s happening here (the Cubs run differential sits at -7) and the Cubs hit .500 around the break, can Theo and Jed really sell off pieces without losing even the most patient fans?

    Particularly, this is applicable to DeJesus, who probably is at his peak value in the next few weeks. But he has to be considered one the leaders in the club house, and dealing him would be a tough blow for the team.

    If they remain competitive, they also need to think about getting another IF up, probably Watkins, in favor of Borbon or Sweeney.

  • Whiteflag

    I own copyrights to that picture.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I thought of you when I saw it. May I honor your contributions by using it as “the” white flag here?

      • Whiteflag

        Well sure…

  • pfk

    I don’t think there is going to be a sell off in July. In fact, as this club continues to gel and improve and as there are some real studs coming along, the team now needs to prepare for contending in 2014. They already have the makings of a very good pitching staff and with some of their stud bats coming next year, this club could be good. True, the pitching depth is seemingly low but they drafted a bunch of pitchers and will do so again this year – one of whom is probably an ace type. And, they will be major players in the international market. So, I think they will be buyers looking to fill gaping existing holes for 2014 such as 3rd base and the bullpen. I don’t see a sell-off coming. Just the opposite. This group is getting pretty good and I think they will flirt with .500. Seriously. And, can contend in 2014 and really go for it in 2015-2016.

    • MichiganGoat

      Hey there pfk I don’t think I’ve seen you on here for a while, nice to see another BNer from the past.

      • TWC

        Yeah, holy crap it’s been a while since pfk’s made an appearance.

        • pfk

          Yep…been too long since I was active. I read it several times a day but was just oo busy. Enough of that! Good to be back!

          • MichiganGoat

            Its like we’re bringing back the band… where is Toosh?

    • Cubbie Blues

      Me thinks you need to push your years back one.

    • Cyranojoe

      I’d love to agree with you, but you do realize we just took 2 of 3 from the Rockies, right? The Rockies??

      • hansman1982

        Pat brought this up last night but:

        The Cubs are:

        1st in XBH
        6th in OPS
        5th in Strikeouts in the NL

        But they are dead last in walks. Even with the terrible start to the year, offensively, they really haven’t been that terrible. If they can start walking 8% of the time (they are in the 6 range now) that should really help their OPS.

        Right now, offensively, this is a .500 team. If Wood and Feldman can miraculously hold on to their early season success, Jackson becomes what he can be and Garza is decent when he comes back…Theo and Jed are going to have a tough decision come July.

        • hansman1982

          FWIW, a league average walk rate would give them the 4th best offense (by OPS) in the NL.

    • bbmoney

      I’m with you for the most part. But anyone not signed for 2014 is up to be traded in my opinion. Further, an OFer, Soriano or DeJesus (most likely) should probably go.

      So it depends on what your definition of sell off is, but I definitely see a few guys headed out the door. I’m hoping its not a full out fire sale though.

      • pfk

        No doubt, to make room for the kids coming along both DeJesus and Soriano have to go and probably should come July. But I don’t consider that a sell-off. To me a sell-off is trading a star for a good prospect. I think that to fill the 3rd base spot, they are probably going to have to trade one or more good prospects – at least. Or, have a prospect like Baez learn to play 3rd.

  • Kygavin

    If it makes you feel better you were referenced on ESPNchicago.com as “an internet story”? Youre basically the equivalent of baseball’s TMZ now Brett ;)

  • Ivy Walls

    First what would be sold off? We don’t sit at the table and know precisely what is the strategic plan but I can speculate.

    LH power NO
    LH pitching NO

    = not Rizzo, Wood, Russell, Schierholtz, DeJesus?, Valbeuena?, Navarro? the last last two are marginal of course.

    SP that is power that has cost/benefit; Samardzija and Jackson (No)

    So SP right now is Feldman (value), Villanueva (marginal), Baker (hmm?) Garza?
    and RP, Gregg (reclamation value), Marmol (please)

    IF: Barney?
    OF Soriano (please), Hairston (DFA?)

    I think as much as things go the strategy is to try to lower long term payroll and stock pile competitive prospects, while trying to rework the roster to a left handed weighted lineup.

    If Vizcaino actually is ready by July and if Baker is also the Cubs can trade from strength Feldman and Baker or Garza (and offer Garza a deal) and then let one of the two go FA. That would leave a corps starting staff of Samardz, Wood, Jackson, the remainder of Garza/Baker plus either a prospect competition for the last 2mos, it Villanueva is still here than okay.

    Now what do you get for Barney? What could you get if Soriano hits 26 HR’s between now and July 25th?

    Does DeJesus have value?

  • 5412

    Hi Brett,

    Want to pass along some thoughts on Ricketts and money. I’m of the opinion those who are being critical need to rethink their perspective.

    If his goal was purely economic, there is a hell of a lot better ways for him to invest a billion dollars and get a better return than buy the Cubs. Guys like him with a venture capital background know how to make double to triple digit returns on their money in a lot of other ways.

    At the same time, it would be fair to say he has no intention of taking a loss, nor should we expect any owner to lose millions of dollars for our viewing pleasure.

    Bottom line is simple. The Tribune milked the cash cow and ran the team into the ground. Ricketts is realizing the best way to make money, and lots of it, is to invest in the business, the infrastructure and put a winner on the field. That means taking a step backwards first and priming the pump. When the team is winning, he expects to earn a fair return on his money and who can blame him.

    I look at a baseball team as being very similar to a high tech company like Microsoft or HP. Bill Gates testified before congress several years back and said in three years their entire product line is virtually obsolete. The only way these companies can survive is to invest in research and development and keep new products and technology coming down the pipeline, replacing their current products which are aging with those that are new and better.

    If you look at scouting and player development, it is really similar to research and development. The goal is to keep new players coming down the line replacing those which are aging. I seriously doubt if they realized just how bad the minor league system was when they bought the team. Even if they did, it is requiring a massive amount of money and effort. Right now our hope for most new high level players are still in A ball so it is going to take a bit of time to get them ready for the big show.

    The good news is this. He has a stated goal to build a contender year after year. If you look closely, they added a full 33% to the payroll in scouting and player development, plus several million dollars in the Dominican and Pacific Rim. That is putting their money where their mouth is. Once you build that infrastructure, it should start funneling the big club regularly. I look forward to seeing the fruits of their labor.

    And yes, the Ricketts family deserves to profit from their venture and we should not bedgrudge them that. Secretly I know a lot of us wish we had the money to do the same thing.

    regards,
    5412

    • Jim L.

      Very well said, 5412.

    • mak

      strongly agree with this as well. When Ricketts bought the team, it was clear he was doing so as a fan — in the sense he wanted the Cubs to win and be prosperous long term. Everything they’ve done, even where the focus is on maximizing revenue, is consistent with that.

  • Dynastyin2017

    About the Cubs rebuild. This was a quote from Mike Babcock, the Red Wings head coach about the Blackhawks. I thought it fit the Cubs narrative very well. (h/t ESPN.com).

    “”The reality is they’re good players, they’ve grown up,” Babcock said. “If you do a good job when you’re a bad team, and you draft really well, you can ride that for probably 8-10 years. It’s just you got to be careful to be bad enough long enough, so you get good enough.

    “You may laugh at that, and your fans don’t want to hear that, but if you get good too fast, you’re never going to be good enough. If you stay bad enough long enough in the new world, you have a chance to be really good. That’s what they did.”

    “When the Hawks did it on their recycle, they did a real good job of trading and acquiring more assets and allowing themselves to redo again to be in a good position, so good for them,” Babcock said.

    I found the be bad enough long enough comment particularly disturbing/appropriate.

  • mudge

    They could be buyers and sellers both. If the Soriano for Domonic Brown trade had happened, that would be an example. I don’t think they can leave an unprofessional product out there in August & September like they did last year without losing a lot of fan support.

  • http://Bleachernation Loyal100more

    Got to admit… Taking 2 from the nationals in Washington against two very good pitchers is the most exciting sample size of our potential we have had so far! The rockis however are over achieves frequently some how. Beating them when they are hot is alot more difficult and shows much more competitive potential. So I’m intrigued, but not overly convinced of what things may look like come July. But last year this time I was a paying more attention to rizzo, than how the team was playing. The team already looked doomed by then.
    So I guess it’s good to be a team fan still at this point and not just a player falower.

  • http://Bleachernation Loyal100more

    Oh and dejesus has always had decent trade value in my opinion… But if he keeps playing the way he has been… He could have inflated value for a playoff push come July! I’d say the same goes for valbuena, Feldman, and possibly vallanueva.

  • KingTen144

    To all those who wondered about the stress fracture after Tommy John surgery, perhaps I can shed a little light….

    So, Tommy John surgery (medical jargon for it is an ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction), is done by drilling tunnels through two of the bones that form the elbow joint — the humerus (upper arm bone) and ulna (one of the forearm bones). A tendon graft is passed through the tunnels to recreate the ligament that was torn.

    Any time bone is weakened by anything, including drilling through it, there is a possibility that it could fracture in the future. A stress fracture, though, is more like an accumulation of “micro-cracks” in the bone that eventually cause pain, and could even eventually progress to a complete fracture. Though stress fractures are uncommon after Tommy John surgery, they have been described.

    That said, it’s impossible to know for sure, based on the limited information we have, whether this stress fracture sustained by Josh Conway is a complication of his surgery or not. It could theoretically be a separate area that has the stress fracture in it.

    In any case, the process now will involve shutting him down to allow the bone the heal. Hopefully it’ll heal without too much problems, but stress fractures are notorious for taking their time to resolve. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks for the thoughts, KT. Fingers crossed.

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