dale sveum mediaThe Cubs have two off-days in a four-day span, which is weird. They head out to Anaheim tomorrow, and then come back just two days later.

  • If you’re a manager, and you want to defend one of your players, but doing so necessarily criticizes another one of your players … what do you do? Throw the less expensive player under the bus, naturally. I’m kidding, of course, but Dale Sveum tried to explain why Edwin Jackson’s start yesterday wasn’t as bad as it looked, in part because Julio Borbon dropped a fly ball in center field. “I think dropping a routine fly ball got things set in the wrong direction,” Sveum said of Jackson’s day, per CSN. “Obviously we still have to make pitches after that. But the bottom line is those things change outings; they change the course of a ballgame. He ended up an out away from having a pretty nice ballgame.” That’s arguably true, and Borbon would be the first to confirm that he screwed up. Kind of a tricky spot to navigate for a manager, but that’s probably as well as Sveum could put it without totally burying Borbon (or Jackson).
  • A modest war of words between Jeff Samardzija and Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson? I guess Samardzija and D-Backs third base coach Matt Williams exchanged some thoughts during Samardzija’s start on Saturday, and Gibson, who complimented Samardzija’s performance profusely, added this: “It’s part of the game. Whatever. He didn’t get the win did he? Maybe the next time he should just shut the [expletive] up and pitch.” (From Cubs.com.) Without any additional context, it’s hard to know what that’s all about. Samardzija is a relatively high energy guy, but he’s also not a guy you’d expect to be speaking too much out of turn.
  • Dale Sveum sees Starlin Castro’s biggest problem right now the same way I do. “The biggest thing is, he’ll swing out of the zone, and we all know that, but he’s not doing anything with drivable pitches now,” Sveum said, per Cubs.com. Setting aside Castro’s ability to make contact out of the zone, the problem is he’s not making hard contact with pitches that are right in his wheelhouse. Makes me wonder if he’s thinking just a little too much up there.
  • In speaking with the media yesterday – more on that in a bit – Cubs’ VP of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod said that there are no promotions planned for top High-A prospects Jorge Soler and Javier Baez, per CSN, though the Cubs could be anticipating that one or both will be promoted in the next couple of months, but they wouldn’t say anything about it now. I’m tentatively expecting Soler to see a bump to AA before this season ends. I could see Baez getting bumped as well, or staying at High-A for the full season.
  • McLeod also apparently mentioned AA infielder Arismendy Alcantara, High-A infielder Dustin Geiger, and Low-A pitcher Pierce Johnson as having standout years so far. If you’ve been paying attention to Luke’s daily coverage of the Cubs’ minor leagues, I’m thinking none of that is a surprise to you.
  • Speaking of Baez, by the way, John Sickels says this about the Daytona shortstop to this point in the year: “No change in the scouting report at this point: enormous offensive potential, but his approach remains very aggressive and could tangle him up when he gets to Double-A.” That’s actually good news, given his strikeout issues so far this year. Obviously you’d rather they’d gone away and scouts were saying that he’d fixed an issue with his swing. But, since he hasn’t yet, the best you can hope for is status quo, in terms of how well he’s regarded.
  • Steve Clevenger is expected to begin his rehab assignment (oblique) at AAA Iowa today. He isn’t eligible to return from the 60-day disabled list for another two weeks, at the earliest, so he’ll be at Iowa for a little while. Even after he’s completed his assignment, if everyone at the big league level remains healthy and untraded, there might not be an obvious spot for Clevenger, and the Cubs may have a difficult decision to make.
  • Today is the 10-year anniversary of the Sammy Sosa corked bat incident. I can’t believe it’s been that long. That was a bummer of a day – I remember “watching” the game on MLB.com’s Gamecast, and wondering why the thing had frozen for so long on a simple Sosa groundout. I guess there wasn’t a preloaded script for “The umpires are investigating a suspicious looking bat shard.” It popped up that Sosa had been ejected, and I assumed that he’d gotten into a safe/out argument.
  • Wrigley Field is starting to become known for an unsavory pantomime. Folks: please stop making us all look like assholes. Kthxbye.
  • BT

    To be fair, those are Diamondback fans pantomiming.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Scroll down in the article.

      • BT

        Right, I’m just saying it’s not all Cub fans. Lets spread the blame around. Plus, isn’t it HILARIOUS?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Original and creative, too.

      • DarthHater

        Sorry, but the Cubs fan was sitting upright and had no “partner” involved. He clearly was innocently pantomiming the enjoyment of a lollipop. 😀

  • Justin

    Good stuff Brett. I got to admit I am really worried about Castro. He looks like absolute ass these days at the plate. He’s pretty much never making solid contact, and when he does get a hit it’s just a seeing eye single. I really wish he could just be the same guy when he came up, and have his power progress as he aged. I’m good with the not walking with his hit tool. They need to leave him alone. This is getting ridiculous..

    • jay

      Couldn’t agree more. They messed with his head with all this “see X number of pitches per at bat” and “take more walks” crap. Now he is thinking too much up there.

      • FFP

        “See the ball. Hit the ball.”

        • Cedlandrum

          Meh I think the problem here is simple. He is in a slump. All players go through it for extended periods, we just haven’t really witnessed it from Castro. He has been unhuman in his ability to get knocks before this year. He will be fine.

          • Justin

            I guess an extended extra crappy slump could be what he’s going thru. He just doesn’t seem right at all imo..

      • BT

        I’m sure “crappy” suggestions like “take more walks” (who needs baserunners? amiright?) is the reason his slugging percentage is down 80 points.

        He’s not driving fastballs in the strike zone right now, for whatever reason. Hopefully it’s a slump. I’m sure Diehard will be on any moment to declare him the next Corey Patterson, but it’s 2 months.

      • SirCub

        Again though, if we remember that he is a 23-year old, still refining his approach at the plate, then I think we can start to understand that his struggling is just part of the process. You want to challenge him to be more patient and see more pitches, even if you don’t expect to see improvement right away.

        • demz

          Seriously. If you’ve ever learned an instrument or a new skill, you realize that you will struggle for a while. This is what we are seeing from Castro. He has progressed enough such that his eye is doing a lot better now (not swinging at everything) but now he’s having trouble timing balls in the strike zone.

          He’ll figure it out and he should be a much better player for it. Relearning your batting eye in the MLB is a tough challenge (as he was underdeveloped in the minors). He’ll get it done.

    • Bazfan1234

      Although he may be struggling at the plate as part of trying to be patient, he seems to be hitting off balance a lot. Pitchers have started throwing him low and away and he is flicking his bat at the pitch. If he makes contact, it is something weak off the end of the bat. Hopefully he will make the necessary adjustments and lay off the pitches out of the zone.

      • hansman1982

        That is most of it, Castro has no batting eye and pitchers are continually expanding his strike zone, he hasn’t quite made the adjustment yet to that.

        What is even more perplexing, pitchers are throwing more FB than ever before.

    • Voice of Reason

      Castro is a kid. Leave him a lone and let him play the entire season, every game.

      While he might not be a “Theo Epstein Player”, he is still young with the capabilities of becoming good or even better than good offensively.

      You just can’t trade a player after the first two months of the year. Give the kid the benefit of the doubt.

      If you want to look at it from a dollars and cents angle, we’re basically paying him peanuts at $5 million dollars this year.

  • @cubsfantroy

    Dafuq is wrong with people? Some people need to just never go to a game.

    • cjdubbya

      I’d change “go to a game” with “leave the house” and you’d be spot-on.

  • FFP

    “I remember “watching” the game on MLB.com’s Gamecast, and wondering why the thing had frozen”

    Glad to know I’m not the only one who has to resort to this “viewing” method sometimes. Couple it with a BN Game thread and it is a fairly authentic experience. (I became aware that most folks watching a video broadcast or listening to a radio broadcast are probably experiencing a several seconds delay–I could be like that guy in the movie theater who is always saying a character’s important line 3 seconds before he does. I try not to be that guy.)

  • JulioZuleta

    I still remember how the bat broke perfectly in half long ways. Every time I see that happen now I immediately think it is a corked bat. I also want to yell at the bat boy to get the bat off the field faster. Also, now that is has been scientifically proven that corking does not help…how did anyone ever think that it DID help. I was 14 when that happened, and the idea of corking made no sense whatsoever. Seemed against logic at the time. People use heavier bats to gain power, why would you want to make the bat lighter? Especially by taking weight out of the “sweet spot”?

    • hansman1982

      Some people are just dumb. I remember Bill Nye once tried to explain that the reason players used pine tar was so the ball stuck to the bat for a fraction of a second longer when it was hit so more energy could be transferred to it and I think his explanation for the cork was to make it bouncier.

      Ya, Bill Nye is an idiot.

      • JulioZuleta

        You just ruined everything about my childhood.

        • hansman1982

          Yup, oh well…we still have Mr. Rogers!

          • Stinky Pete

            The Marine Corp Sniper Mr. Rogers?

            • hansman1982

              Wait, I thought he was Special Forces Mr. Rogers… 😉

              • Stinky Pete

                That’s right. I had him mixed up with John Denver, who had the most confirmed kills in Viet Nam.

            • MichiganGoat

              The nicest assassin you’ve ever met

            • MichiganGoat

              Just so everyone knows this is fiction


              He was never in the military

      • DarthHater

        I can’t find any reference to the pine tar comment, but I think you’re wrong about the corked bat. Bill Nye correctly noted that the purpose of corking a bat is to make it lighter and specifically rejected the springiness notion.


        And since you were wrong about Bill Nye once, I’m going to assume you are wrong about the pine tar, too. Presto! My childhood ideals are saved!

        • hansman1982


          (then again, I am trying to remember these things from 15-20 years ago)

    • 100 Years of Tears

      A lighter bat allows for greater bat speed. Since Force = mass x acceleration, there could be an increase in net force if the acceleration increase is greater than the mass decrease. That’s why most little leaguers use really light bats, but high schoolers are required to use bats no lighter than 3 oz less than the length (33 inch bat, 30 oz.). If those big strong kids could use a lighter bat, they would constantly crush the ball…

  • Whiteflag

    I wish they’d throw these fans out, and make spectacle of it. Send the message that’s inexcusable.

    • FFP

      You are too kind, Whiteflag.
      Look at those seats. That’s someone’s (former) season ticket. Take the whole season ticket away. There is a line of people who’d gladly pay for those seats AND sit in them.

      And if that guy IS a ‘seat filler’ then there are two more solutions: 1) ushers stop this practice 2) Cubs play/draw better.

      Of course there is the old way of fixing losers like this, but the cure may worse than their disease.

  • Kyle

    With Baez, I think I’m over the hype-driven Sheffield comps and the dreams of a No. 1 in baseball prospectdom. I’ve seen this “maybe he’ll develop plate discipline!” show way too many times, and (spoiler alert) they don’t develop plate discipline. You just hope that the raw talent can carry the approach through into the majors and he hits something like 270/310/500 from a premium position. Not a megasuperduperstar, but I won’t exactly be sad about that. Still, in three days, I think he becomes a clear No. 4 prospect in the organization.

    I’m ready to jump on board with the Alcantara bandwagon. He’s a year older and a year more advanced than Baez and is putting up similar offensive totals with much better peripherals. I’m wondering if he shouldn’t be No. 5, ahead of Vogelbach, Paniagua, Vizcaino or other options.

    I don’t even want to think about what Starlin Castro is doing, because it gives me such a sad. Updated ZIPS projection of 1.8 WAR for the year? Seriously?

    The Jackson story can be beaten to death (and I don’t mind beating stores t to death), but it’s still there. Either you blame a guy when balls find holes and credit him when they don’t, or you take a wider view. Jackson was mediocre yesterday, but he wasn’t awful. He was inducing ground balls and weak-to-medium contact and the ball showed an absurd ability to get booted, dropped or find open patches of grass. If Travis Wood had the same collection of BIP with his luck this season, we’d be talking about his no-hitter this morning.

    • Kyle

      Oops, it’s updated after yesterday now. 1.7. He’s projected to have 1.7 WAR this year.

    • Rich H

      I am already on the bandwagon Kyle and welcome to the Alcantara fan club. This kid is hitting so well that I think if he does not end up in our top 5 soon is going to be because of the guys we have added more than anything he has done. I already rate him above Vogelbach and Viscaino just because he plays so well at a premium position. The only question at this point is can he stay at short. I think he can at a high level. It will be interesting to see if he gets moved to AAA this season or we wait a year.

      • cub2014

        Did anyone see Vogelbach “manufacture a run” yesterday.
        Hit a bloop in the outfield turned it into a double, then tagged
        up on fly to medium centerfield and went to 3rd “made it easily”,
        then scored on a wild pitch.

        Using his speed to make things happen!!!!!!!

    • jt

      I can accept the Jackson paragraph as a valid opinion from a thoughtful person.
      I wonder if Wood has some aspects to his game such as more effectively changing speeds or better efficiency with location that Jackson is lacking.
      Maybe… maybe not?

    • hansman1982

      4.6% BB rate against a 22% K rate in May.

      FWIW, only 2 qualified major leaguers had that kind of split between 2011 and 2012, and this is new and improved Javier Baez.

  • Spencer

    Yup, Jackson and his 6.29 season ERA and the 12 hits and three walks he gave up yesterday have been *this* close from being real good.

    • SirCub

      Well when you consider that the last 4 hits and 3 ER he gave up yesterday came with two outs in the 6th, he was legitimately one out away from having a line of:

      6 IP, 2 ER, 8 hits, 2 BB and 4 K’s.

      It’s not beautiful, but it is pretty good.

      • Jeff

        Ok, I’ll give you that point but only if you agree that our crappy manager is responsible for leaving him in there too long and thus making him responsible for his real line.

      • jt

        If they had The A’s BP Jackson probably would have been gone with one out in the 6th.
        I’m not sayin’ he has been good. Yesterday he was good enough ( but just good enough).

        • hansman1982

          Therein lies some of the issues with the “DALE CAN;T HANDLE A STAFF!!!!” argument.

          He gets shat on when he hooks a starter (without a good track record) early and the BP blows it but then gets shat on when a starter (with a good track record) gets left in a batter or two too long and the starter blows it.

          The “complaining to complain” types are having a dream couple of seasons here.

          • jt

            that about sums it.

          • Spencer

            Neither of those scenarios applied yesterday, however.

            • hansman1982

              “but then gets shat on when a starter (with a good track record) gets left in a batter or two too long and the starter blows it.”

              How does it not fit this? People are upset he left him in too long in the 6th, unless I am grossly misreading the comments.

              • SirCub

                I’m guessing he objects to the parenthetical (which I don’t).

                • Spencer

                  This season, yes, I object to it thus far.

              • Rcleven

                Good track record is too broad of a term. Jackson clearly struggled all day. He should have been pulled. Shark the day before was sharp and I had no trouble bringing him out for the seventh.
                Sveum still needs to believe in his bullpen no matter how crappy they are and he does not.

          • Kyle

            I’m shatting on him for one, specific thing.

            He likes to name his veteran relievers to roles and not take them out, when both scouting and stats should tell you that they are absolutely not deserving of those roles.

            He did it with Camp and now he’s done it with Marmol.

            • hansman1982

              That’s only because you are special, Kyle.

              I’m not saying he doesn’t have flaws, but Jesus, I have heard these exact two lines of complaints for the past 4 damn years after every loss.

              • SirCub

                Yup, revisionist history at its best. “Hey, you know when that one guy performed poorly in that one situation! The manager was a complete idiot for not using somebody different!”

            • jt

              The FO has given to Sveum Camp, Marmol, Putnam and Parker.
              If they suck the FO should replace them.
              Not an easy task but, for example, this is a good time to see if Parker can find the K zone at the MLB level.

            • hansman1982

              Even then, there isn’t a TON of options for Dale. He did bump Marmol fairly quickly from the closer role with Fujikawa waiting.

  • gary

    I really think the new regime has castro thinking too much. I understand you want him to be more patient and draw more walks etc. but he has hit worse since the new regime. You have to learn how to adjust to each players strengths.

  • Rich H

    My observation on Castro is with the sudden increase in HBP is he not laying off any pitch inside so they are going farther and farther in to get him out ? I have not watched enough of his PA’s to say but just listening to the games I wonder if that is not an issue.

  • Jp3

    I agree on Alcantara jumping up in the ranks, not sure about jumping Vogelbach but in your defense at least Alcantara has a legit shot at fielding a position or 2 so your right man. Until Panigua comes out of hiding or Viscaino actually throws a pitch in any organized game I’m all for taking them off any prospect list so I’ll stop getting my hopes up about either contributing. I’m excited to get a look at pierce Johnson in Daytona as well.

    • willis

      Man do I agree with your statement about Vizcaino and Panigua. I know they are huge talents, but until we actually see them in some type of action, I don’t want to hear their names as prospects, because we have no idea if and what we’ll ever get from them.

      Pierce Johnson has been nails this year, I can see him getting sent to Daytona soon. I’ve been happy with his results thus far.

  • OlderStyle

    That Sosa incident was sad and seemed to reveal how much his fragile ego was worried he wasn’t the focal point of the team anymore. Corey Patterson filled in nicely while Sosa was out, with a toe injury? or was it the back injury after a sneeze? Anyway, Sammy started to sense the game slip away from him and the corked bat was a pretty pathetic moment. My son was really disappointed in his favorite player.

  • Dustin S

    I “almost” hit a 70:1 trifecta at the Kentucky Derby. Had $50 on it. Missed it by 1 horse. But like they say, almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades…

  • Frank

    I think Kirk Gibson’s problem is the Arizona heat is getting to him. I now live in Arizona and I swear during the summer it’s 2 million degrees. If you stand out in the sun, you’ll lose brain cells because of the baking process.

    Side note: If you want to piss off someone from Arizona, just ask one question.

    What do you call a good looking woman in Arizona?

    Whatever her reply is, just say.

    A tourist.

  • curt

    What’s dale smoking 1 dropped flyball is why he didn’t have a good game except for those pesky 12 hits and 3walks, dale step away from the kool-aid.

  • Bigg J

    Since we took Bourbon on waivers, what are the chances we go after Berry now that he is on waivers?

  • MDel

    There was a lot of talk about Castro’s problems last week on the Score after an article Bernstein wrote (http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/05/29/bernstein-starlin-castro-is-getting-worse/). He said he got a call from someone with the Cubs and they assured him the Cubs are aware of Castro’s issues (counterpoint to his article.) They were mentioning some scouts are saying he is having problems getting his bat through the strike zone quickly. They said one scout said he has a “slider” speed bat.

    They said young players typically get peppered with breaking balls initially, and Castro showed an ability to hit those well. What they are finding he is having a hard time catching up to and making solid contact with fastballs. Pitchers are now starting him off with fastballs to get ahead in the count (which he is having problems making good contact with), and then getting him to chase breaking balls out of the strike zone later in the count.

    The guys on the score (Bernstein) mentioned the Cubs are aware of the problem, and think Castro’s leg kick is slowing his bat down, and they may try to work with him there.

    I think the assumption that the Cubs are ‘getting into his head’ is a bad one right now and, as Sveum alluded to a few weeks ago IMO, it’s up to Castro to adjust.

    • hansman1982

      That makes sense since the # of FB he is getting is increasing.


    Can we please talk about how bad Edwin Jackson is? Please, he needs a demotion immediately. If we have any chance of getting to .500, he has to be demoted. We lose at least every 5th day with him on the bump.

    • cms0101

      They’re not going to demote him 2 months into a 4 year contract to be a starting pitcher for this team. I know some of the stats suggest he’s unlucky, but this is exactly the type of pitcher he’s been his entire career. All the talent in the world but maddeningly inconsistent.

      • DARRRRRR

        Yeah I never agreed with the signing in the first place. They really should demote him though. Give him a little mental nudge and let him figure some things out in AAA, he hasnt had a quality start this year.

        • MichaelD

          You can’t just demote to the minors a veteran like Jackson.

          • DARRRRRR

            Sure you can, it happens. It should happen more often but people are afraid to piss off a veteran. Thats stupid. In my mind he hasnt shown he is a serviceable pitcher all year.

            • Drew7

              No. A player can refuse an assignment after accruing 5 yrs of service time – Jackson has accrued just over 7.

              • MichiganGoat

                Yup he’d have to hit the wavier wire where a team could take his pro-rated contract. If he clears waviers he could elect free agency but I think he’d lose his contract. Regardless it way to early to consider making such a bold move.

        • Rcleven

          Jackson has never been more than a #4 pitcher. People are expecting way too much out of him. The contract is why people expect so much out him. For how crappy his numbers were yesterday he kept the Cubs in the game for five innings giving up four runs. He was at 91 pitches going into the sixth. If he was Travis Wood he would have never entered the sixth because of pitch count(hasn’t had a pitch count over 96 yet).
          If Jackson has a 100/110 pitch limit the pen has to be up and throwing before pitch 92 is thrown (one right hander one left hander). Jackson has got to be on a short leash at that pitch count. No one was. Now who’s falt is that? Rondon was not ready till Jackson buried himsef.

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  • Die hard

    Angels may be sellers after Astros sweep– Pujols anybody ?

    • Cubbie Blues

      To put it in perspective for you, DH, we have 4 pitchers with better numbers at the plate than Pujols this year.

      • hansman1982

        WHY DIDN’T WE SIGN HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Freekin Cardinals, even when it looks like they get screwed, they come out smelling like a god-damn White House rose garden.

        • MichiganGoat

          Yup and there will be a day when Theo will make a similar move and not cave into a players demands and there will be much rejoicing… after a year of people calling for his head.

  • Die hard

    Soriano for Pujols and Rizzo plays LF

    • Cubbie Blues

      Why would we want to downgrade our outfield and our lineup plus pay $24 Million a year for the next 10 years?

  • Die hard

    You don’t get it– Cubs eat Soris contract and Angels with buyers remorse eat Pujols contract

    • MichiganGoat

      Mind blown due to excessive facepalms

    • Cubbie Blues

      That’s a lot of buffets for $240 million. The front office would end up looking like this eating that much.

      • Jp3

        Is that Puljos? No wonder he can’t hit a baseball anymore…