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I can think of worse ways to start off the season, but this would make the top ten.

The Cubs put on plenty of baserunners today, but could do diddly with them. They were scoreless through 10, and, unfortunately, the Pirates were scoreless through 9. But, uh, they get to bat in the 10th, too, and a Neil Walker walk-off did the trick.

Jeff Samardzija wasn’t absolutely overpowering today, but he was damn good. His splitter – which is his wipeout pitch – wasn’t working for him today, which I expect is an early-season thing. But he was mixing up his other offerings well, and his two-seamer had some seriously effective movement. The defense was fantastic behind him today, with a great double play by Starlin Castro (and a fake at second base on a hit and run that led to another double play by Emilio Bonifacio) and great speed in left and center (not used to seeing that).

Unfortunately for the Cubs, Francisco Liriano was absolutely overpowering today, and many of them looked a little silly against the lefty. Kudos to the Cubs for working counts and getting Liriano out after six, but it didn’t really matter, because the general storyline stayed the same after he exited.

At least Emilio Bonifacio had four hits. So what if he got picked off in the 10th inning? And at least the bullpen was solid. So what if swing man Carlos Villanueva swung right into that Walker homer?

(I know it was a close, low-scoring game, and I’m not going to jump on anything after just one game, but I sure didn’t care for the volume of sacrifice bunt attempts we saw called for in this one. I don’t want to get into a whole debate here, but sac bunts are pretty much always a bad idea (aside from the 9th inning, with a guy on second base, nobody out, and the team needing just one run), even when they’re successful. And, as we saw with Samardzija bunting into a crippling double play, they aren’t always successful. The Cubs gave away so many outs today with nothing to show for it.)

march 31 box

Full box score.

  • Brocktoon

    I’m as anti-bunt as you’ll find but:

    Why bring up Samardzija’s bunt? Would you have preferred he be swinging away?

    I also see nothing wrong with Castillo sacrificing considering:

    -you had a very good righty in Grilli on the mound
    -Nate and Sweeney were waiting on deck and in the hole.
    -We only needed 1 run

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The road team should always assume that it needs more than one run. The home team should assume it needs one run only if it’s tied in the 9th or later.

      Shark’s sacrifice attempt looked ill-advised because it was a force-situation at 3rd with a runner on 2nd who doesn’t blaze. That’s a really tough bunt to pull off, and a very easy bunt against which to defend. Given that Shark handles the bat OK, they should have had him swing away.

      • Mike

        The correct answer is, the NL should adopt the DH.

      • Brocktoon

        The road team should not assume they need more than 1 run in a tied game in the top of the 9th.

      • Brocktoon

        And it’s ludicrous to think having the pitcher swing the bat with runners on 1st-2nd is a better idea than bunting.

        • Brocktoon

          And Shark handles the bat well to a tune of a .321 and .267 OPS the last 2 seasons.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Bunting with a force at 3rd should be done only if you have a really good runner at 3rd: it’s just too easy to get the force at 3rd.

          Moreover, because the batter has to be very exact about where he bunts it (ideally, up the 3rd base line but past the pitcher: unless the runner is quick, the 1Bman will have a good shot at getting a guy at 3rd), it is much easier for the pitcher to make the required bunt difficult.

          The big issue is the force: that means that the throw can be later and/or less accurate and you can still get the out. Many times on this play the runner isn’t even sliding yet when he’s forced.

          • Brocktoon

            If the 3rd baseman is playing in, it’s far from an easy play. If they play the wheel play, there’s nobody covering 2nd, and the runner on 2nd can get a great jump. Shark’s bunt didn’t work because it was a terrible bunt. In most situations the worst case scenario on that bunt is going to be the same as the expected result of him swinging away. In most cases, it avoids the risk of DP coming with swinging away, and gives a decent possibility of moving the runners up.

            I’m pretty sure for somebody who so painfully relies on data that your last sentence came directly from your ass.

        • http://bleachernation.com woody

          The bunt was the correct call IMO, but it was very poorly executed. He bunted it straight at the pitcher Down either line and we would have had two men in scoring position. Let’s face it when you go 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position you deserve to lose. Anybody notice that the Phillies scored a shitload of runs in Texas? I see the potential for this team to go into a tailspin from the get go. Happy is going to be popping prozac in a week or two.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            The bunt had to be a down the 3rd base line: with a force at 3rd and a guy who doesn’t blaze, the 1Bman or pitcher can easily get the force at 3rd on a bunt up the 1B side.

            And that meant that Liriano simply had to avoid throwing pitches that could be bunted up the 3rd base line.

  • rmjwell

    A good manager plays the hand he’s dealt him. Today, the Cubs were locked in a pitcher’s duel where one run would’ve made the difference. So bunting to get the runners up into scoring position made sense whereas in a game that’s going 6-5… not so much.

    Positives: the Cubs defense was excellent based on scouting; not only the 6-3 DP but having Lake on the warning track (basically) late in the game. Also, the Cubs did things that I haven’t seen in a while like Bonifacio keeping the rundown going long enough to get Castro over to second.

    Negatives: the hitters (apart from Bonifacio) seemed unwilling to go to the opposite field with Liriano’s offerings. Not sure how much of that was Liriano making his pitches and the Cubs not adjusting to the reality of the day; time will tell. Bonifacio needs to look at how he leads off. Getting picked off once and nearly a second time doesn’t bode well if that persists.

    Renteria looks like he manages along the lines of Bud Black and Bruce Bochy. When the Cubs win, we aren’t gonna see lots of 12-3 games, but a whole lot of 3-2 and 4-3 victories.

    Overall, it’s hard for me to be sad about a team that looked fundamentally smarter today than it did much of last year.

    • mudge

      Sac bunts are a bad idea unless you’re scoring a runner from third or the pitcher is batting. Whether you’re scoring a lot of runs or not, it’s a mistake to give away outs. Imagine you’re facing the other team, there’s nobody out and a man on second. Wouldn’t you happily trade an out for the runner moving to third? I would.

      • rmjwell

        None of this occurs in a vacuum and a win by one run counts as much as a win by 10.

        Facing Liriano in the game today, I’ll take the one run.

        Additionally, managing a team that is thought to be generally overmatched and especially so by someone like Liriano, giving your hitters the ability to do something strategically constructive rather than just “take your best hack” is going to give them more confidence. For a young team like the Cubs, that aspect is important.

        • mudge

          Sacrifice bunts are generally not strategically constructive. Giving away outs is bad strategy unless the pitcher is batting or you’re scoring a run from third. This is borne out by stats.

          • Brocktoon

            You’re thinking of run expectancy tables, which show how many runs you score on average. There are several situations where it is a positive to bunt when you only need 1 run.

            • mudge

              You score more runs when you don’t give away outs. This would still be true even if you were only trying to score one run. Bonifacio is more likely to score from second with none out, than he is to score from third with one out.

              • Brocktoon

                When you need 1 run to win a game, I don’t care if I’m more likely to score 5 runs.

                • mudge

                  You’re also more likely to score one run, if you don’t bunt.

                  • Brocktoon

                    With a righty GIDP threat at bat vs. 2 lefties following him against a great righty reliever?

                • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                  If you consistently give away runs like that, you are going to consistently score fewer runs overall and win fewer games.

                  • Brocktoon

                    THAT’S NOT MY POINT. I already said I’m strongly anti-bunt, but when you need only 1 run (i.e. today in the 9th inning), it’s acceptable.

                  • spearman

                    Way to many opportunities to let go to waste.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Actually, there are only two situations where it’s good to do that more often than not: no outs in the bottom of the 9th (or later) with the winning run on base or no outs in the bottom of the 9th (or later) with the tying run on base.

              • Kyle

                IIRC, a successful sac bunt improves your run expectancy with 1st and 2nd and no outs.

                • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

                  Not last year:

                  http://www.baseballprospectus.com/sortable/index.php?cid=1405164

                  1.4 to 1.2.

                  Just a quick glance looks like the only time it makes sense is when you actually get a run. It looks like going from any situation that you have a runner on third to the corresponding 1 or 2 out situation you get, roughly, the same run expectancy minus 1.

                  • mudge

                    If you’re going for one run, and bunt a lead-off double to third, you would then by your own logic bunt that runner home. It seems like the Cubs never do that. How many runs squeezed home last year? & what are the stats on the efficacy of the squeeze bunt (genuine question)?

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      Good question, that. However, I’m willing to bet that (like bunting for hits) there is a “saturation” point. Suicide squeezes work with the element of surprise: if the fielding team knows it’s coming, then it can be easy to put off. So, if you do it too often, the success rate is going to drop.

                      My favorite example of that was from the 2008 playoffs, which had a lot of people arguing about whether Sciosia’s small ball would top Fracona’s money ball in the close games. In (I think) the deciding game, everyone knew that the Angels would try a suicide squeeze to get the go-ahead run home from third in the top of the 9th: and the Sox got him out easily by throwing a nasty outside slider to the batter. The Sox didn’t bunt in the 9th and scored.

    • Kyle

      I think you are placing waaaaaay to much belief in the idea that a low scoring game in the early innings makes it less likely for runs to be scored later.

  • MikeMoney

    Rizzo and Olt looked lost at the plate.

    • Sandberg

      In Olt’s first at bat, he was called out on a ball, so you can’t really blame him on that one.

      • Lou Brown

        The second strike out he called strike two on a pitch he couldn’t have reached with a 2 x 4. Then he chased one way off the plate for strike three. That ump really hurt them today, he was giving Liriano six inches outside.

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          a 2×4 isn’t that much wider than a baseball bat. 2.75ish inches vs. 3.5 inches.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    So we pick up where we left off. I think we were 0 for twelve with runners in scoring position. That’s the big story. I know it’s only one game and that Castro missed quite a bit of time, but he and Rizzo sucked. We need some guys with a killer instinct in the order. That weak grounder Castro hit right at the 2nd baseman made me sick. We need to inject some Viagra into the lineup because it is limp.

    • iowacubfan

      AMEN woody!

  • iowacubfan

    My first time on these boards!

    I do want to point out a couple of things about the cubs that seems to be something I hope cubs management hopes to eradicate: lack of mental toughness, and lack of management to recognize our weakness and actually DO something about it.

    Example: Rizzo swings at the stupidest pitches, and especially with runners on. Swinging at balls in the dirt for strike 3 is one thing. But shouldn’t a player who is mentally tough recognize it, make the adjustment and not do it 2 more times? Then with a runner on 2nd with no outs, he swings at the FIRST pitch which is out of the zone, and pops it up? Does anyone recognize that he is just not mentally tough? I don’t care how many homeruns he hits, it doesn’t matter if he continues to have the most ridiculous at bats since Jacque Jones and Corey Patterson. my knock on management–WHY WHY don’t they platoon him?

    We all know Villanueva leaves pitches up in the zone. I absolutely KNEW when he came in, the game was lost. I have been watching this team long enough that I know how the cubs are going to lose. Why cant management understand not to bring in a guy notorious for leaving balls up and getting hammered? Especially in the late innings in a tie game? Then we have no chance to recover or for the pitcher to settle down. I just don’t think management actually WATCHES a ballplayer. No amount of optimism is going to change this.

    I often ask myself, why do other teams execute the basic small things and the cubs cant? No matter how many Baez’s or Almoras we draft, nothing will change until our management WATCHES players and we get mentally smart and tough players who CAN EXECUTE.

    So when I hear “its only the first game” that’s bull. This IS the cubs. This is who they ARE. This is how we’ve been and we continue to rely on mentally weak players–the same ones who got us into this mess so why should we give them the benefit of the doubt because “it’s only one game?” Please tell me why.

    • Brocktoon

      How does any of that rambling fall on being mentally tough? Did I miss Rizzo curled up in the fetal position in the dugout?

      • Funn Dave

        Yeah, I’m not really sure. And I don’t care how mentally tough you are: Opening Day creates more psychological pressure than you can possibly imagine. Couple that with the fact that the entire north side of Chicago is holding its breath to see if he can bounce back this year, and I’m almost surprised he *wasn’t* curled up in the fetal position in the dugout.

    • Porkslap

      Because not all of are ready to give up on the team one game into the season. Not sure why that is “bull”. Everybody has bad games.

    • Chad

      Management doesn’t watch players? Come on man. For your first post, that was a pretty poor attempt at being reasonable or logical. Just so you know, you are giving Iowans a bad rep here, but it could be a SSS, this is your first post after all.

    • mjhurdle

      “No matter how many Baez’s or Almoras we draft, nothing will change until our management WATCHES players and we get mentally smart and tough players who CAN EXECUTE.”

      This is my early favorite for best post-game over-reaction, but still plenty of time today for a couple dark horses to challenge.

    • roz

      “My first time on these boards!”

      Run away while you still can.

      • C. Steadman

        +1

        • blublud

          +2

    • C. Steadman

      “My first time on these boards!”

      and hopefully the last…

      • blublud

        Diehard has company

        • Bric

          Okay Blublud, Steadman, roz, and anybody else that wants to start jumpin’ on this guy for his first posting I have one comment and request- tone it down and stop trying to run people off Brett’s website. Last I checked the internet is free to all and we live in a society that’s open to everyone.

          I used to post regularly on this website back when Brett still called himself Ace, didn’t have any kids yet, was a lawyer and this website was just a hobby of his for Cub fans to share their thoughts opinions, and (unfortunately far too often) outrage.

          I’ve seen a lot changes since then which is why I don’t post or even visit it very often anymore but I can assure you all of a couple of things: The internet is still free, Brett will only bar somebody from this site if they continually make racially or otherwise reprehensible or offensive comments, and he doesn’t need any help from any of you to do it for him. Understand these principles or get ready to be pissed off at a lot of comments because its gonna be a very long season. Just sayin’. We’re all Cub fans here.

          • ssckelley

            Yes, we all should be hugging right now!

            • Bric

              I’d think about it… but the Care Bears avatar makes me think maybe just an internet high five…. *Clap*

          • roz

            So if I can say this, I didn’t actually read his comment before I posted that. I was poking fun at the fact that this board can get very hostile sometimes so he shouldn’t start posting now when people will probably jump all over him. So I actually wasn’t insulting him, I was (jokingly) protecting him from seeing some of the crappy stuff that sometimes goes on here.

            • roz

              To rephrase this – I wasn’t saying “Run away because you’re stupid,” I was saying “Run away because this place can get harsh sometimes.” I wasn’t trying to run him off because I didn’t like what he said (I mean, I don’t like what he said and I think it’s misguided, but I don’t think that’s a reason for him to not post), I was making a joke about the atmosphere here.

          • blublud

            First off, Bric, no one is running anyone off. He simply stated his opinion, and I simply stated my opinion of his opinion. That’s what happens here everyday. I didn’t call him a name, tell him he had to leave, or tell him he wasn’t welcome. He posted something that I thought was pretty uninformed. I post things here that people think is uninformed. Unfortunately for him, he did on his first post.

            If you are feeling some kind of way because the site is not what you want it to be, then that’s your problem. The site is still great. It will be great with or without you. Don’t go harrasing people for stating their opinions while using someone else’s platform to state your angst, all while screaming victim. It’s not becoming of you.

    • another JP

      Welcome iowafan and fear not- this is going to be a rough start in 2014 but unlike the past couple years this team will get better. I agree with your assessment of bringing in Carville, and I also got the same feeling when RR left Russell in to face a right-handed batter. Sometimes the manager just has to go with who he has available.

      So what were the other options? Put in Wesley Wright? That dude hasn’t been effective all spring. Schlitter or Rondon? For young guys on opening day I’d go with experience- even if it were a soft-throwing pitcher like Villanueva. I’m not too big on bashing Renteria for his decision to use who he had available because we don’t have the same bullpen talent Pittsburgh has. Until Vizcaino, Rosscup, or some of the other options are available, this is just how it’s going to be.

    • C. Steadman

      “so why should we give them the benefit of the doubt because “it’s only one game?” Please tell me why.”

      B/c there will be 161 other games with 161 different outcomes

    • blublud

      Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

      Drinks a sip of water

      Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

      I’m choking, please call 911

    • Jason P

      Pitch recognition and mental toughness are completely unrelated.

      • blublud

        No, the both require a good leg kick.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      “But shouldn’t a player who is mentally tough recognize it, make the adjustment and not do it 2 more times?”

      Mental toughness has nothing to do with it. A batter swings (or doesn’t swing) at the pitch he sees 10′ from the pitcher’s hand. It’s the pitcher’s job to make many different pitches look the same 10′ from his hand. When Liriano is “on,” he is very good at making multiple pitches look the same at that point.

    • Dales Fired Ear

      Not sure I follow your example of Rizzo not being “mentally tough”. Pretty sure he’s a cancer survivor, and while I’m no doctor I’m fairly certain that is a situation that requires a great deal of “mental toughness”. The Cubs problem isn’t “mental toughness”, their problem is that they aren’t as good at baseball as other teams.

      • Cyranojoe

        Whaaaaaat? Are you suggesting there are more critical skills in determining success at a sport than the poorly defined concept of “mental toughness”???

        • Dales Fired Ear

          Only one skill trumps mental toughness… Belly fire

    • waittilthisyear

      cancer survivors are notorious for being mentally weak

      :sarcasm font:

  • ThatCubsGuy

    Good grief. Did people even watched the game today? Liriano was untouchable. Should of had that run in when Castro was batting and the infield drawed in. But besides that, just got beat..

    • Porkslap

      Welcome to early season reactions. Happens every year since the history of baseball. Kind of funny really. I’m with you, got beat today but I remain optimistic about the team. At least they didn’t beat themselves. Loved how easily Lake tracked down that shot to the warning track in the bottom of the 9th. With Soriano out there the game doesn’t even make the 10th inning.

  • shammai

    Oh, enhanced box score, how I’ve missed you. I just hope we get to see more upbeat EBS’s this year.

  • craigp

    Rizzo looked absolutely pathetic. I think lake will prove to be an everyday player. Could be wrong, but please, please stop the vitters talk. And never mention Jackson again.

  • MikeMoney

    The thing that annoys me about Rizzo is that he never seems to have any passion. Break a bat or something….damn. Bonafacio has fire at least. When he almost got picked off in the first, at least he was taunting the pitcher. He fired out of the box on that double. He showed passion during that run down. I can live with mistakes as long as you play with fire and passion. I personally am not impressed with Rizzo and echo the sentiments of Woody. I think he’s soft.

    • Funn Dave

      You should be ashamed of yourself, calling a 24-year-old kid struggling to acclimate to the majors soft. Have some compassion, or at least some respect. And as I said below, you accusations are 100% baseless.

      • MikeMoney

        100 pct baseless? Compassion? Ashamed of myself? Is your last name Rizzo or something? I don’t care that he is a 24 year old kid. It’s his third year in the bigs. He is a player that is counted on to be a major contributor for the next 5+ years. I don’t see it. He has a nice glove and decent power. He will never be a middle of the order run producer. When this team gets good (as it will), he is going to be a 7 hitter in the lineup. Pardon my frustration, my friend. Ashamed, I am not.

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      Well…I’m glad you contribute to this site.

  • craigp

    I would agree with Rizzo being soft, lacking passion. I was glad to see Castro visibly upset with himself today, as he should have been. Glad to see a little passion out of him.

    • Porkslap

      Just because he is not throwing his helmet or bat doesn’t mean he lacks passion. You know who you never hear complain about Rizzo’s lack of passion? The people that coach and play with him.

      • Brocktoon

        I’m guessing the same people who complain about Rizzo’s lack of fire and passion were up in arms about headcase Zambrano to anyone who’d listen.

        • Brocktoon

          Should’ve been “headcase”

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Passion is good. Unless it’s bad. Then passion is bad. Unless it’s good.

  • Jason P

    Lake is always, ALWAYS going to struggle against good pitching. He doesn’t have the pitch recognition or plate coverage to keep from being exposed by pitchers with plus command. His best hope of sticking as a major leaguer is to crush the bad pitcher to such a degree that it makes his overall stat line look semi-respectable.

    • craigp

      Like soriano??

      • Jason P

        Sort of, except with less crushing and more struggling

    • Rich H

      You do realize he was one of only 3 guys that actually got a hit today? Just thought you might need a reality check on you Lake Hate on the first day of the season.

  • fromthemitten

    Positives: That was a great fakeout Castro pulled on Marte to get the first TOOTBLAN of the season

    • Porkslap

      Haha yeah that was nice, although I think Puig had him beat by a couple weeks!

  • Drew7

    I see the Armchair Psychologists are coming out in droves today…

    • Mike

      What does that make you? Armchair forum analyst?

  • iowacubfan

    I don’t buy the Liriano was tough. How many times have we seen rookies in their debut or pitchers coming off major injuries first start in a year shut the cubs down? It is mental toughness. When Rizzo does the SAME thing in every at bat without making adjustments, him or Castro swinging at the first pitch when the pitcher just walked the previous one or two batters, that is what screams lack of a good mental approach to the game.

    Bonifacio was good. Shark was good too.

    I don’t mean to be so negative, but this game is WHO the Cubs are.

    • Porkslap

      THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE! AND WE LET EM OFF THE HOOK! Think maybe the 100 years of failure is tainting your judgement on this squad a hair?

    • Funn Dave

      You are so far out of your element, it’s not even funny. A lack of a good mental approach? Unless you’re a fucking mind reader, you should really just stop trying to analyze anything, at all, ever.

      • Funn Dave

        And I’m sorry for being harsh–I thought it was a bit harsh how everyone ganged up on you after your first ridiculous post–but when you make baseless accusations about the mental fortitude of the star players on the team for which we all root, you should expect some backlash–and rightfully so.

        • MikeMoney

          What star player? Are you nuts?

  • Mike

    Outside of all of the bunts, my only complaint is not using Veras and using our 5th starter instead. Not sure why your closer wouldn’t see some action in a 0-0 game in the bottom of the 10th with a day off the next day. Pittsburgh sure as hell used theirs.

  • Norm

    Sweet. Body language complaints on opening day.

  • Cubsklm

    3, 4, 5 hitters were O-fer TEN with 5 K’s and left 9 runners on base.

    This team can not hit, has not hit in the last 3 years.

    Put Bonaficio at second, bench Barney, and start Sweeney in CF.

    • craigp

      Agree. The less Barney, the better

  • MikeMoney

    “Just because he is not throwing his helmet or bat doesn’t mean he lacks passion. You know who you never hear complain about Rizzo’s lack of passion? The people that coach and play with him.”

    No shit. They don’t have it either. They should hire Larry Bowa as the bench coach and only promote married players. No one is as mentally tough as a married dude. Lol.

    • Funn Dave

      Unless you have some kind of crazy insider knowledge, you have absolutely no evidence on which to base the claim that Rizzo or his coaches lack passion. Please stop speaking out of your ass.

      • MikeMoney

        Dude, you are starting to get on my nerves. This team needs a leader. If Castro, Castillo, and Rizzo are projected to be regulars when this team gets good, who is their leader. All great teams have an identity. This team needs someone to step up and at least try to carry them. Maybe passion is too subjective a term. Perhaps, I should’ve used the term emotion. Rizzo shows none. Stop talking shit pussy.

        • mjhurdle

          “All great teams have an identity”

          What was Boston’s ‘identity’ last year? And did STL not have an identity and thats why they lost? What happens when two teams with secret identities meet? Do they have an emotion-off at the pitchers mound to determine the winner?

          • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

            “Stop talking shit pussy.”

            Said by a brilliant scholar.

          • MikeMoney

            Both of those teams have solid bats in the middle of their order. They also have guys who demand respect from their teammates and other big leaguers. There is no one on this team that you have to pitch around in a crucial situation. Most casual fans from other cities couldn’t name 2 players on this roster. The future middle of the order bats are in the minors right now. No one on this team will hit 1-5 in the order when this team is ready to compete. They just aren’t good enough. Castro and Castillo are solid pieces, but they’ll probably hit in the bottom third of the lineup in 3 years (and I like them). I don’t understand the man crush on Rizzo though. What is it that excites people so much? He hasn’t proven that he is anything more than a platoon player.

            • mjhurdle

              so basically STL and Boston had really good players and the whole ‘identity’ thing is a media fairy tale, glad we agree.

            • Dales Fired Ear

              Yeah what’s exciting about a left handed hitting 24 year old on a team friendly contract who will hit around 25 homers a year, 40 doubles, with over a 10% walk rate along with gold glove caliber first base defense? Not to mention the chances are good that when those players are brought up his babip will trend back up because more guys will be on base leading to defenses limiting their shifts against him. Yeah you’re right dude yaaawwwn.

        • Soda Popinski

          Uh-oh, Dave. Better watch out! MikeMoney’s in the house now! He’s mean! He’s a real tough guy! hahaha. Stop talking “shit-pussy.”

  • Funn Dave

    Geez, guys. Rizzo doesn’t break bats or get overly worked up about bad outings because he has the mental fortitude to keep his head up despite his detractors, not because he lacks passion. Don’t rag on him for what is certainly a positive attribute. There is even less evidence of his lacking passion that there is of Castro lacking intelligence or mental concentration.

    • MikeMoney

      Grow a pair.

  • MatthewP

    I wonder how many games in the history of baseball end with a team box score featuring 4 guys with an ERA of 0.00 and one guy with an ERA of infinity.

    “Welp, thing were going well until we brought in the guy who gives up infinite runs. Probably shoulda seen it coming.”

    • Sandberg

      Most underrated comment of the day.

      • Dales Fired Ear

        Hahaha

      • MatthewP

        Thanks Ryno.

  • Lou Brown

    I think opening day made it tough to do, but Rizzo should really sit against tough lefties. Maybe Ruggiano in the OF, Olt to first, and Bonifacio to third. With the amount of games these guys play (13 out of 14 days), I am surprised they don’t sit guys a little more often and let them pinch hit later in the game.

  • Spoda17

    If you hit a game winning HR do you instantly have a WAR of at least 1.0? So now you are good for the year…

    • ssckelley

      hmmmmm, in that case how many millions does the Pirates owe him?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Actually, that HR did at 1.0 to Walker’s WPA, I think.

      • Brocktoon

        No, it would have added ~0.35, as the Pirates would have a ~65% chance of winning the game prior to his AB.

  • 5RunHomerun

    I think today showed perfectly just how important pitch framing can be for a team’s success. Russell Martin was working the umpire all day; he must have expanded the strike zone by an inch or two in every direction. This really hurt the Cubs today, as they were looking at pitches and working counts. If some of those balls had been called balls, then the hitters could have faced friendlier counts, which in turn would have led to hittable pitches and walks.

    Liriano was still great today, but Russell Martin can turn a good outing into a great outing.

    On the flip side, the Cubs had Castillo displaying poor pitch framing skills today. It’s not just the fact that our pitchers don’t get extra pitches called strikes, which would be nice, but also that there are strikes that get called as balls. During McCutchen’s plate appearance in the sixth, the count had run up to 3-1 before he got walked. When the pitch trax came up at that point, it showed three good, low strikes and one pitch that was a bit high. Only one of those strikes had been called a strike. Fortunately Pedro Alvarez hit into a double play to end the inning, but you’re not always going to get that lucky.

    Castillo is a promising, young catcher. He showed improvement at the plate all of last year, with a walk rate that kept progressing throughout the season. He has greatly improved his defense behind the plate to the point where he’s talked about as one of the better defensive catchers. However, as Brett noted in the bullets, pitch framing could be worth a few wins, positive or negative, over the course of the season. If Castillo remains this poor at pitch framing, it is possible that he could negate much of his positive offensive and defensive value to the point where he’s only a little bit better than replacement. Here’s to hoping that he can improve in this area of his game and be an important piece of the future competitive teams.

  • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

    Horrey EBS is back, yeah this loss sucked but an inning if free baseball to open the season and strong pitching makes this loss more bareable. Today was sunny and 60 days in GR for the first time since October here in GR so I got to take the kid outside for some outdoor fun in the sun and then listen to Pat calling a real game so I’m not upset.

  • kridertr

    I love how people in this board that could never hack it on the diamond know everything about baseball and what goes on on a day to day basis and know everything about each player on the team. Get real dude

    • Mike

      Most people on this forum are mathematicians,scientists or psychologists, isn’t it obvious by reading the comments?

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Indeed, isn’t at least one post-graduate degree a requirement here?

        • Rich H

          I thought you have to show it when you signed up for the site.

  • itzscott

    Trying to quantify the number of times I’ve said “We’ll get ‘em next game” which will give me the probabilities so I’ll be more prepared not to be so disappointed the next game.

  • http://kempfintl.com pfk

    It is easy to make too much out of an opening day loss. All in all I felt there were some good things to take away from it: Bonifacio’s bat and glove, Castro’s glove, Lake. Yes, leaving runners in scoring position was the bad, but even that I’m not going to go nuts after one game. The biggest concern is that Rizzo looked lost at the plate – just like he did the second half of last season. He gets a pass for the day because it was a lefty and it was Liriano – a great pitcher. But….

  • Dustin S

    Liriano is really tough when he’s on, but it would have been nice to see the heart of the order look a little less overmatched. Can’t really make many conclusions after 1 game though and there was some good to take away. As soon as it went to extras you could kind of feel something bad coming on.

    As a side note, the reporters wanting to declare a winner and loser (Cubs, per them) in the Rizzo/Cashner trade 1 game into the season are a bit ridiculous. That’s a deal that is going to take about 5 more years to have a good idea on who the winner was.

    • itzscott

      Yeah well just wait til Baez, Bryant and Soler get here. We’ll see about a middle of the order then!

    • willis

      He did it to the cubs all year last year. Dude just has their number. Hopefully Wednesday will be better offensively.

  • http://BN Sacko

    The lose shouldn’t be based on a pitcher’s AB, he swings away and still have negative results.
    It’s a better bet that it doesn’t turn onto a DP w a bunt. Unreal it did anyway..The Cubs.

  • Cubz99

    I agree that I would have been happier without all of the bunts. I didn’t like the idea of having Lake bunt so early in the game and although I can see why they have Shark bunt, I would have rather seen him swing the bat. Not a big fan of giving the other team a free out.

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