wrigley field from right bleachersJeff Samardzija hasn’t been quite as sharp as usual lately, and I’m sure he’d be happy to set that right tonight. He’s got a 6.75 ERA over his last seven starts.

Junior Lake gets another start in center field, and, as I discussed earlier, I’m quite pleased about that.

Game Info

Cincinnati Reds (66-52) at Chicago Cubs (52-66), 7:05 CT on CSN, MLBN.

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. You should participate in the madness. And, of course, for those who aren’t into message board-style game threads, please feel free to use the comments on this post for your in-game commentary/outbursts.

The Series Preview for this series lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Homer Bailey (7-10, 3.73 ERA, 3.07 FIP)


Jeff Samardzija (6-11, 4.23 ERA, 3.61 FIP)

Cincinnati Reds Lineup

1. Shin-Soo Choo, CF

2. Todd Frazier, 3B

3. Joey Votto, 1B

4. Brandon Phillips, 2B

5. Jay Bruce, RF

6. Xavier Paul, LF

7. Zack Cozart, SS

8. Ryan Hanigan, C

9. Homer Bailey, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. David DeJesus, LF

2. Junior Lake, CF

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Dioner Navarro, C

5. Nate Schierholtz, RF

6. Starlin Castro, SS

7. Donnie Murphy, 3B

8. Darwin Barney, 2B

9. Jeff Samardzija, P

  • ssckelley

    The Cubs lineup blows my mind. Not very often you see a backup catcher hitting cleanup, except on the Cubs.

    • TWC

      If this blows your mind, you have a very, very low threshold for surprise.

      • ssckelley

        You have been trolling me a lot lately.


        • DarthHater


        • TWC

          I have a very, very low threshold for tediousness.

          • DarthHater

            …waiting for it…

          • ssckelley


    • MichiganGoat

      Backup catcher batting cleanup not looking half bad now is it?

      • ssckelley

        It is still odd, not something you see every day. But on the Cubs the backup catcher is probably the best hitter on the team.

        • udbrky

          Navarro’s been a really solid hitter this year. It’s more of a platoon than a 1/10 games starter. As Michigan said, looked pretty good.

          • ssckelley

            Ok, I get that…I was not saying anything bad about Navarro! He should be hitting cleanup, he has been one of the better hitters on the team. What I have been saying is only on the Cubs will you see a backup catcher hitting cleanup.

  • rick

    Don’t understand why Murphy is batting so low in order. I would have him 3rd or 4th. 5th at worst

    • TWC

      It probably has nothing to do with his career .666 OPS.

      • João Lucas

        Are you implying Dale Sveum is afraid of The Beast?

  • Chris S.

    Anyone else frustrated by the amount of changes Sveum makes with the lineup? To me, Castro is better when there’s consistency, if he’s a future 6 hitter, that’s fine with me, but please keep in one spot.

    • ssckelley

      He will be batting cleanup tomorrow.

    • Cyranojoe

      I’m not saying he’s Joe Maddon, but check out Maddon’s lineup cards from day to day sometime. Or ask Emerson — “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

      • Randy

        Quoting Emerson in reference to lineup cards. That is why I come read this blog. That right there.

  • kluv

    Why is Murphy playing 3b over Watkins? I thought Watkins can play all over the field? At this point of the season, we should see if Watkins can hit in the major leagues.

    • Melrosepad

      My thoughts exactly. Give the kid a shot so we can see if he can hold down the utility infielder role.

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor (no relation)

    I think this Lake in CF thing could be a sign that we’re going to go after Nate McLouth (who plays LF due to Adam Jones in CF) in free agency next year (he’ll cost less than Ellsbury and the money we save with a DeJesus trade in the off season will offset that cost and he’s two years younger than DeJesus, but provides better defense and steals bases). Or we’ll put Valbuena in LF when Olt or Bryant or Baez emerges to play 3B.

    • Borocks

      I’m sorry, but I don’t think Valbuena is with the Cubbies next year!!!

      • On the Farm

        Not sure why you would think that when he is already under team control for next year!!

    • Mr. B. Patient

      Mike, you sure do like name recgonition, don’t you? Nate McLouth has not played anywhere near a full season since 2008. Yes, he’s on a pace to do it this year, but he doesn’t seem to be an upgrade.
      Look for under performing young guys on teams with a glut of outfielders that you can get cheap.

      • MichiganGoat

        At best he’s a 4th outfielder option but we have a ton of those available.

  • john

    Could the cubs take a chance on a minor league deal with Grady Sizemore next year?????

  • Carmelo

    Bryant with HR @ Daytona.

    • On the Farm

      Apparently the kid can hit the ball

    • On the Farm

      Also, not quite that big of a deal, but the guy on the mound is Mark Leiter Jr. the son of former pro pitcher Mark Leiter, and Al Leiter’s nephew. Kind of cool to say you have homered off a Leiter.

  • Alex

    And Bryant goes yard!

    • jon


      • MichiganGoat

        Buddy that’s just an unnecessary gif

        • jon

          Oh the irony

          • MichiganGoat

            I don’t think you understand the definition of that word

  • jkppkj

    I’m not watching the game on TV, was the wild pitch that wild? or was it a typical Dionner Navarro quality attempt at blocking the plate a la this record setting inning http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130415&content_id=44830226&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Noticed in Iowa box score tonight that Daric Barton is playing 3rd for Sacramento and batting in the 2 hole with a season OBP of .420 with 79 BB and 49 K’s . This guy would be a great candidate to hold down third for the Cubs in 2014 till Olt/Baez/Bryant are ready to take over. Thoughts anyone ?

    • gocatsgo2003

      On a minor league deal or something? Maybe… but a career MLB line of .248/.359/.370 is basically Luis Valbuena and both are arbitration eligible this season.

    • Rebuilding

      Barton is pretty much the definition of a AAAA player. Tears up the minors but doesn’t seem to have the bat speed to catch up to MLB fastballs. Not to mention he has played 1 game at 3b in the majors and only 52 in the minors. He’s a 1b

  • KidCubbie

    Announcers said both Bryant and Vogelbach went deep today.

    • Rebuilding

      Vogelbach 2-3 with a HR in Game 1 and Bryant 1-3 with a HR in Game 2. Pierce Johnson with 5.2 IP 0 ER lowering his ERA to 2.16

  • afinch

    Not digging this not-so-good Samardzija lately…

  • Mush

    How many guys are still saying Shark ace and no way we should trade him? His true colors come out during stressful times. Theo sees it too. He will be gone for right offer this winter.

  • cub2014

    Brett what is the scouting on Rosscup is he a hard
    thrower, sounds like he could be lefty candidate out of
    bullpen next year?

  • Cubbiecop

    In case anyone missed it there was a blurb on Cubs.com. Theo stated that they are looking to convert some players into catchers…. Vogelbach? I would love to see that one. Thoughts anyone?

    • cub2014

      vogelbach as a catcher great idea.

      • cub2014

        cubs lineup wow if dreams came true!!!!
        cf almora
        ss castro
        1B rizzo
        3B baez
        C vogelbach
        LF bryant
        2B alcantera
        RF soler

        • Cubbiecop

          I think I would crap my pants with excitement if that ever came into reality!

        • X the Cubs Fan

          This is so much more exciting to me:

          CF: Almora
          SS: Castro
          LF: Rizzo
          1B: Abreu
          RF: Soler
          3B: Bryant
          2B: Baez
          C: Castillo

    • Carew

      Vogelbach as a catcher would be sweet! Big boys can get the job done back there, and his bat (so far) could make up for some mistakes

    • Scotti

      My thoughts? That would be a monumentally stupid idea.

      • MichiganGoat


      • cub2014

        Why would it be a stupid idea? might not work
        out but if it did it would be great for the cubs.
        FO knows if Vogelbach can do it, but is by no
        means a “monumentally stupid idea”

        • MichiganGoat

          Because to transition him to catcher would take away from his time to develop as a hitter, he would have less batting practice so he could focus on learning how to catch. He needs to focus on his hitting be ause that is his strength and if he develops like everyone hopes he becomes a future DH type. To turn him into a catcher slows down his development. If anyone gets developed into a catcher they are not our top 20 propects.

        • ssckelley

          It is a stupid idea because Vogelbach can’t throw.

        • Scotti

          No, it is monumentally stupid. 1 ) Vogelbach has a very weak arm (74 from 1B at PG and that is WEAK). 2 ) It takes YEARS to become a catcher. It’s been done in the past. Chirinos made the switch and you don’t just go full time (the wear and tear at C isn’t what any other position player experiences–you can’t just throw a guy into it). 3 ) Thus, you delay his ability to make MLB (and, as a result, he would NEVER do it).

          • Mark

            Scott Having seen Vogy up close and personal at Fitch I surmise the other guys have little knowledge of his physical limitations–some being insurmountable. Guy is a slugger–that is all but it might be enough for a career. He is just plain fat and slow and has no arm. He will lose some lbs. and then regain. Even his footwork at first base can be awkward-will put his right foot out to receive a throw at times etc. He is loved by his teammates with a crazy sense of humor.

          • chirogerg

            For reference RE: 74 mph from 1st, that’s how hard I, an average senior in high school, throw on the infield

  • jkppkj

    I like Shark as a closer/setup, not sure he’d take the role or that management would want to push him that way, but I think he’d be good there.

    • Gutshot5820

      I wouldn’t go that far. He is a number 3 starter at worst, but he bet on himself and gambled and lost….so far. Hard to justify extending a 100M contract now with his performance of late.
      although I still wouldn’t mind him getting something in between what Edwin Jackson and Sanchez got the past offseason.

      • Eternal Pessimist

        You would never take a number 3 starter an convert him to a reliever. That would just be depreciating your asset. If he can’t manage as a starter (1 through 5), he becomes possible reliever material.

  • Cubbiecop
  • jkppkj

    It’s a good time to be a Reds fan, following the game on cbs gamecenter I’ve heard complaints about Votto and Phillips as hitters tonight. Both of whom would easily be the best hitter in the Cubs lineup.

    • Gutshot5820

      There is a decent chance that in three years when our top prospects are performing in the majors combined with age and decline of Votto/Phillips, we will have the superiors hitters.

      With the Cubs financial might in full swing by then combined with cheap production from top prospects…It will be dark times for our NL Central rivals…except for St Louis of course.

      • Mush

        Or Pittsburgh or Cincy

  • jkppkj

    Sure in 5 years Votto and Phillips will decline, but honestly I’d be thrilled if 2 of the prospects turned out to be as good as Philips or Votto.

    Vogelbach at Catcher is a very interesting idea though.

  • jkppkj

    Peeking at the box score, who would have guessed, Votto has more steals than Brandon Phillips and Phillips way more RBI than Votto.

  • JeffR

    I wonder what vogelbach’s arm is like.

    • Scotti

      Very weak. Perfect Game had his best throw from 1B at 74 mph. That’s very weak even for high school 1B. No way could he catch (and, if he could, he would have been doing it to raise his value in h.s.).

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Article states they will target 3 kids in the organization to try the switch to catcher. Keep your eye on Rubi Silva OF, Tim Saunders INF, and Stephen Bruno INF.

    • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

      Forgot to mention INF Jordan Hankins currently at Boise as possibly one of the position players moving to catcher in the future.

      • Scotti

        FWIW, Ha was actually signed as a catcher…

  • jon

    Donnie Murphy, unreal

  • jon

    Lake being exposed….

  • Rebuilding

    I was reading a little more about Abreu from Cuba tonight. It seems that The Davenport system has attempted to translate Cuban numbers into their major league equivalencies. For example, the system predicted that based on his Cuban numbers Yeonis Cespedas would hit 258/319/471 and Cespedas’s career numbers so far are: 262/328/469 – that’s about as close as you can get. The Davenport system estimates the following line for Abreu: 358/468/754 – basically Barry Bonds from 2001-2004

    • hansman1982

      If that is true, you could sign him and plop him at SS and live with the defense.

      • ssckelley

        I bet he could catch.

        • Oswego Chris

          Read Gordon Whittemeyer’s piece on Theo talking about the Cubs international signing strategy, then go into the BN archives and read where Brett explained it exactly…a month ago…almost word for word how Theo spells it out now…

          • Rebuilding

            I’m a little confused why you put this here. Abreu won’t be subject to the IFA rules since he’s 26

  • jkppkj

    “The Davenport system estimates the following line for Abreu: 358/468/754 – basically Barry Bonds from 2001-2004”

    Sweet baby jeebus.

    • Rebuilding

      They don’t call him the “best hitter in the world” for nothing. He has put up several years like that since 2008. He started playing in their professional league at 17 and is generally considered the greatest Cuban player of all-time

      • Vulcan

        Good lord.

        • X the Cubs Fan

          To hell with Rizzo I want Barry Bonds junior… Rizzo could play LF right?

          • Mark

            I watched Bobby Bonds Jr. play Double A ball for one season yrs ago. Brian Sabean did this as a favor to Barry because he hit like .210 and that was it.

            • ssckelley

              I got to see him play when he was with Waterloo. He was tall, skinny, and fast. He looked more like a wide receiver than a baseball player.

              • Mark

                Interesting. Kid was friendly but a little habit as you may know.

                • Internet Random


      • Rebuilding

        His best season so far was 2010-11 when his slash was 453/597/986 with 33 HRs in 212 ABs and a 58/32 BB/K ratio.

        • Rebuilding

          It seems that the predictors of Cuban numbers that work best uSe AA equivalencies and have a good track record of coming close to projecting Cuba to MLB numbers. If so, then this is going to get very expensive. The Dodgers have Adrian Gonzalez and don’t have a DH. However, the Red Sox and the Yankees both need a 1b (assuming Texiera is done).

  • willis

    Not much encouraging to take from this one. Parker and Strop were strong. But Rizzo is just struggling. Castro took an ofer. Lake took an 0-5 with 2 Ks. Shark was blah once again.

  • Jason P

    Don’t know if this was mentioned somewhere earlier, but Soler officially out for the rest of the minor league season.

  • Crockett

    Blah – read Patrick Mooney’s piece about the Cubs and international money. This quote made me gag:

    “A million here, a million there, that’s what we can afford,” Epstein said Tuesday. “We’re not in position to throw around hundreds of millions of dollars in free agency. But if we can do it in that market, we might as well try to monopolize it as best we can.”

    If that is the new “Cubs way” until after the stadium is completed…it’s going to be a long decade again…even with the minor league talent.