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Another damn 2-1 series loss. Mike Olt and Junior Lake had nice games at the plate against a righty, which is nice. Anthony Rizzo went deep for the second time, and the Cubs were fighting until the end. There are your positives. A loss, though, is the reward.

Rail if you like, but Edwin Jackson didn’t look too bad today. In the first two innings alone, he had five strikes called as balls, which forced him further into the zone (and netted a walk and a single that should have been strikeouts), and he got hit a fair bit early. Despite that, and despite an inflated pitch count, he came out after a mid-game rain delay and still managed to throw six innings while giving up four earned runs and striking out five. I can’t stop folks from continuing to crave their pound of flesh, but this was not a bad Jackson performance. It wasn’t good, but I’m not sure how anyone watching – and paying attention to his pitches – could say it was a bad outing.

What really stings is what happened after Jackson left the game …

april 13 box

Full box score.

  • mjhurdle

    in unrelated news, Ian Stewart just went yard for the Angels.
    Maybe that will raise his OPS+ up from the -1 that it was when the day started…

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

      He’s going to put it all together some season and become the next Casey McGehee/Josh Donaldson.

  • Jon

    The bad news is we are 4-8 but the good news is that in reality we should be 12-0

    • Medicos

      JON—i’ve been thinking like you since 1952. The sad thing is 4-8 is 4-8!!!! This team is what is it is. A roster of players many of whom aren’t MLB caliber players.

      • waittilthisyear

        Jon is being sarcastic, as per usual

  • Kyle

    27th in net bullpen WPA

    I give up. Our bullpens will suck forever and there’s nothing we can do about it.

  • http://kempfintl.com pfk

    He pitched a bad game.

  • itzscott

    re: Edwin Jackson…

    Give it up already.

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    Jeez are you kidding Brett? He was crappy, and lucky to only give up 4. He absolutely can’t handle any kind of lead, and only seems to get comfortable once he’s blown a lead.

    I’m now officially convinced he’s paying you.

    I love this site, WAY more than BCB and I come here for info first.

    But this is the one pet peeve I have.

    Jackson is puke. Dead issue. Screw peripherals.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I saw the game I saw.

      • Funn Dave

        Yeah, well, I saw Edwin Jackson giving you a big wad of hundreds. And drugs. Lots of drugs.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          The fact that he pays me hundreds of thousands of dollars to say nice things about him isn’t the reason I do it. I just happen to also believe the things I say.

          • Rebuilding

            I just don’t see how 11 baserunners in 6 innings is solid in anyone’s book. Even if he got squeezed on a couple of guys that would be a 1.50 WHIP. And there weren’t a lot of seeing eye singles

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Two of the walks literally should have been strikeouts – as in, he got three strikes on them.

              At least two of the hits came after he should have been out of those innings, and virtually all of the hits came after he suddenly started coming into the middle of the zone much more (wonder why).

              You take away those four baserunners, and suddenly, even if we were merely evaluating on that basis alone, it’s a very good outing. Seven baserunners and a couple runs over six innings? Folks tell an entirely different story … even though the pitches were exactly the same.

              I know folks want to rip on Jackson, and I know I’m playing my part by over-defending him. I’m just saying that I saw what I saw.

              The results weren’t any good, and that DOES matter. I know that. (And, you’ll note that last start, I said openly that it was a crappy performance with crappy results. It’s not like I defend Jackson EVERY start.)

              Unfortunately I’m just going to have to stop talking about him, and keep my Jackson-related thoughts squirreled away in my sad little heart.

              • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                Brett I got your back in the Jackson debate #TeamEdwin

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Don’t do it, man. It’s a tiny island, and there’s very little food. Also, I’m probably wrong.

                  • spearman

                    Just give you one bullet!

                  • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                    The flag has already been planted, no turning back.

                  • Head and Heart

                    I’ll join in too Brett. I mean Jackson’s BABIP is like 396 I think? There’s no way that’s going to continue. How many hits did they get yesterday that had eyes through the infield? I thought he was making decent pitches for the most part.

      • Kyle

        And what you saw confirmed what you already believed? I wonder if there’s some sort of bias that could account for such confirmation… :)

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Thankfully PitchFX has no bias. Care to see where all of his “balls” were?

          • Rebuilding

            A d this may also go back to the pitch framing discussion we’ve been having. ID like to see Castiollo on those pitches. If the framing statistics are close to correct I wonder how long until the FO pulls the plug on Castillo. If he is costing the team 30-40 runs a year there is literally no offense he can provide that makes him worth it

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              I’m really scared to think about it, and to plumb the depths of what the stats will have to show us this year. I fear that folks will be surprised, and there will be a lot of angry denial.

              • Rebuilding

                Ha. About that you and I agree

                • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                  Well at least he was worth 19 defensive runs saved last year…

                  • Rebuilding

                    He has definitely improved that part of the game, hopefully the framing is next

                    • David

                      Framing is one of the fundamentals of catching. I caught in college…. I ALWAYS worked on framing as it became habitual. I was taught to frame even when playing a simple game of catch/ warming up. I find myself framing today while playing catch with my son. Now… I played college which is no where near the pros do I’m not sure if framing is more difficult in the majors. My guess is no.

              • Kyle

                We’re already seeing the angry denial.

                • DarthHater

                  Yea, dammit! BTW, what is it we are angrily denying?

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

                    THAT WE ARE ANGRY!!! AND THAT WE ARE DENYING ANYTHING!!!!!!!

                    THE FACTS ARE WRONG!!!!! I CAN BEND THE LAWS OF PHYSICS!!!!!

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

        Eh…Jackson really needs to start getting results in the results columns.

        It could be that he has lost it and is now a bullpen arm. I’m hoping he has some arm issues.

        • CubFan Paul

          “I’m hoping he has some arm issues.”

          No, he just needs a new (better) catcher. Garza preferred Navarro over Welly because of his inability to catch strikes, so we’ll see.

    • 5RunHomerun

      What about all the ground balls going through for hits in the 2nd inning? I know that they were hit pretty hard, but come on. Three got through before the fourth was finally hit where someone was able to make a play on it. On a tangent, I wondered at the time if Barney could have made a play on one or two of the hits that got past Bonifacio.

      • Mike

        It’s hard to just blow past the fact that they were well struck.

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

        It seems every game I have seen of him has featured a lot hard hit ground balls.

        It’s just so frustrating and just seems to be soooo Cubes.

    • aptssp

      This is the first time I’m commenting on this site. I love it, but seriously Brett. I agree with this guy. This year you’ve been defending the platoon and Jackson like the Cubs are paying you. If you are really on board for the rebuild (which you’ve tried to convince us several times) then you’ll want Olt and Lake in there every day and you’ll stop defending Renteria for playing Sweeny who at his very best is a 4th OF. You need to know what you have in both Lake and Olt for the future IF you’re on board with the rebuild…which from several posts before…you are. So stop playing Valbuena and Sweeney.

      Also, Jackson sucks. Always has. It doesn’t matter what peripherals say. If he can’t get guys out. He sucks. You can say bad luck, but where does bad luck and the norm cross? He’s had a whole lot of “bad luck” the last year and 3 starts. When does the good luck start coming in?

      • blublud

        I dont hate Edwin Jackson, but at some point, stats are stats. People like to claim Travis Wood is getting extremely lucky and eventually will come back to Earth. Well, he keeps right on dealing. At what point do we reach the, they are who they are, point. Another thing about the statheads, they treat everyone as if they are Robots and we are all built the same.

        If Jackson consistently has bad luck, time after time, then he becomes that guy. At some point, when it consistently happens, he goes from being unlucky, to just not being a good player, Wood goes from being lucky, to being a good, dependable pitcher.

        That being said, Jackson got some bad calls and some bad luck today.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Not really sure I see a parallel between the platoon discussion and the Jackson one, other than the fact that you disagree with me.

        On platoons, I laid out the reasons they make sense – in April, and as guys like Lake and Olt are worked in more and more as the year goes on (that’s part of development, too) – last week. I feel extremely comfortable with my position on how the roster has been utilized thus far. You’re trying to pigeonhole me into some things I never said.

        (Also: welcome, thanks for the compliment. It’s a shame that it took you wanting to dump on me to get you to make your first comment. :) )

        • aptssp

          You’re right. There is nothing parallel at all to the Jackson thing and the platoon thing other than I disagree with you on both. If you want to know what you have in Lake and Olt you need to play them everyday when you’re rebuilding. Even if the Cubs were to “surprise” people this year and be a Cinderella story, it isn’t going to be with Valbuena and Sweeney. It’s going to be the surprise of Olt and Lake…etc.If you do play them and they can’t handle it, well then you have a better idea for Kris Bryant and the guys in the minors. There’s a lot of questions that get answered playing Olt and Lake. No questions get answered by having them sit. I do think that both Valbuena and Sweeney have their roles, but they are back ups. Back ups don’t platoon.

          As for Jackson: I don’t care what his salary is, he needs to be in the bullpen at best. There’s a reason why this guy has been a journeyman his whole career. He’s bad. He’s got potential don’t get me wrong, but his basement far outweighs his ceiling capabilities. The worst part is that a 4 run game is a “good” game for him. You almost leave the game feeling “Man, Jackson only gave up 4 runs? We really should have won that game! That’s a game you got to have when he only gives up 4.” When you have that feeling leaving the game, he shouldn’t be on your starting staff.

          • aptssp

            And for the record: I do realize that I’m extremely frustrated and might not be talking objectively. HOWEVER, I’m talking as objectively as I can and saying what I truly believe. What more can you ask from a guy, right? :)

            • cubbiehawkeye

              Why would you make half of your first post about the lineup? I realize that the platooning is a heavy subject here but I think we would all like to see what Lake and Olt have a little more often but the lineup….so far….is working. The biggest issue I have with your post is the Valbuena hate. You’re crazy if you don’t think he adds value to this lineup. Sweeney I get…for now. I would rather see more Bonafacio in center and Valbuena at second. Barney should really only be playing against tough lefties or late inning defense. IMO

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

                It’d be good to go back to whatever pre-season plan they had for Bonifacio.

                He has a .757 OPS in the last 4 games.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Would this be a good time to mention that Lake and Olt have played in every game this season? And that they are the only two to do so other than Rizzo and Castro?

            They both have more at bats than Valbuena, Sweeney, Ruggiano, Barney, or Kalish as well.

            It sort of look like the Cubs are working them into the lineup on a regular basis.

            • DarthHater

              Would this be a good time to mention that facts mean very little compared to what a guy truly believes?

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

                What are facts when we have opinions?

      • Eternal Pessimist

        “It doesn’t matter what peripherals say.”

        Yes it does. In the long term the results tend to match the peripherals (good and bad luck regress toward the mean)

        “If you are really on board for the rebuild (which you’ve tried to convince us several times) then you’ll want Olt and Lake in there every day”

        Not really. Part of a good rebuild is building trade value of players who aren’t long term pieces. If Olt and Lake play everyday and you aren’t playing your potential trade pieces the trade pieces lose value. Also, you probably want Olt/Lake in situations they are more likely to succeed and to give them greater challenges when the year progresses (facing the righty/left, Lake playing CF after he becomes more proficient in an easier position, etc…) They can still get big league training, even on the days they aren’t playing.

      • CubsFaninMS

        Welcome to the site!

        Many of us have debated both of these issues repeatedly on here. My conclusion is similar to yours on Jackson. At some point, his “bad luck” is long term.. and just turns into “he sucks”. After experiencing it for MORE than a full season now, you can’t help but begin to arrive at that conclusion. We’re all Cubs fans. We all hope he turns it around, but my confidence is certainly dwindling in that regard.

        On the platoon situation, our front office has repeatedly emphasized infusing talent in all positions to create a competitive environment. Those who are most competitve/want it the most will succeed. Olt and Lake are unproven. I’m every bit as excited to see their potential as you are, but make them earn the every day starting position. Spring Training is not enough. If you believe in the premise that the front office should see this already, two weeks into the season, as a “sunk” year, then you may have a valid argument to “play the youngsters”. I believe that we should make a concerted effort to win as many games as we can until the team is out of contention. Looks at the Brewers? They may lose 100 games this year, but they’ve had a great season so far. Few expected that. And keep in mind that Valbuena and Sweeney are “youngsters” as well. If Olt and Lake have the skills and want it bad enough, they will both become starters and it looks like they’ve already begun easing Lake into that role. Good for him.

  • Jon

    The reality is that all pitchers deal with suspect calls on close pitches. So to play the coulda, woulda, shoulda game with Edwin..you have to do that with all pitchers.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That’s true – though it’s statistically been worse for the Cubs this year than any other team (which obviously once again raises the specter of poor pitch framing).

      • Canadian Cubs Fan

        It doesn’t seem like pitch framing is hurting Shark, Wood or Hammel. Ditto Grimm and Rondon.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          That’s kind of specious reasoning – just because they’ve pitched well doesn’t mean they couldn’t have been even better with a wider strike zone. I haven’t looked at their pitch results to know for sure, but the extreme strike loss the Cubs are experiencing is coming from somewhere.

          • Canadian Cubs Fan

            Valid point.

        • CubChymyst

          Wonder how much control issues factor in as well. If a pitcher is missing there spots framing is going to be that much harder.

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

            Eh…regardless of where the ump sets the zone, there is going to be a grey area around that zone.

      • ssckelley

        Brett, go back and look at those pitches. Castillo framed them just fine, the problem is the ump called them balls. I saw the the pitches called as balls even when Molina was catching.

        • ssckelley

          The same

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

      So when an ump expands or shrinks his zone based on the pitcher or whatever other thing you want to blame…there is no grey area?

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    On the other hand, really enjoying Junior Lake. Squaring up tough righties.

    Olt with a big hit in the 9th. Very nice.

  • Cyranojoe

    I’ve seen so much worse pitchers than Edwin. But yeah, I won’t bat an eye when he gets dumped. Definitely a below-average signing so far, with no hope in sight of an improvement coming, despite the peripherals.

    • Funn Dave

      I think there’s still a bit of potential, but it’s absurd that he’s nominally the #2 starter.

  • BlameHendry

    So we get our wish, swap Schitter for Parker, and Parker is just as bad. Just can’t win… what do we have to do to get a ‘pen like the Pirates or Cards?

    Oh and Super Emilio 64 is coming back to reality.

    At least Olt had a pretty nice day today, his single in the 9th was mashed. Lake too. But I still dont like Lake in LF… Wish he could play in CF. Hell I wish he was still an infielder. If he could play 2B with that kind of bat, he’d be quite a bit more valuable. I know his bat is ready for the major leagues but if it was my choice, I might have kept him at AAA a bit longer to work on his defense.

    It’s just like Soriano. Once they moved him from 2B to LF, he lost a considerable amount of value.

    • Funn Dave

      Parker didn’t even get a full inning. Let’s give him some breathing room.

  • Rebuilding

    Wait…11 baserunners allowed in 6 innings is now a decent performance? His peripherals were actually worse than his end result as he probably should have given up 5 or 6. This is really lowering the bar, especially on a cold, rainy day that should favor a pitcher

    • mjhurdle

      to be fair, 75 degrees isn’t really that cold.

      I live in STL, and wouldn’t say this day was cold or rainy. Warm and overcast, with about 15 minutes of rain.

      • Rebuilding

        Oh, ok. When the rain moved through Chicago the temp dropped. I’ll just stick with a 1.82 WHIP on the day

        • mjhurdle

          ya, our temps are supposed to plummet when the rest of the storms come through later tonight. They were saying a 45 degree drop in some places.

          • willis

            I’m in Chicago this weekend. Weird thing was the temps plummetted today. It was cold as holy hell. Then, around 9ish tonight, the temps startred going up. We left dinner to go find a place for a night cap and it was way warmer then when we went into dinner. Odd weather.

            Saying that, the game today was frustrating. At least Lake and Olt had very good days at the plate. Lake’s hardest hit ball was a laser to center. These close losses are insanely frustrating.

  • cubmig

    The home ump’s ball & strike calling was atrocious. Bad enough the Cubs have to play against 9 guys better than them, let alone adding a tenth guy –the ump–with control authority.
    The odds are too imbalanced that way.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Anyone know why Duane Underwood was taken out after 3 innings? Rain delay? Injury? Pitches limit?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Had a forearm issue in spring training. I assume he’s on a pitch count limit right now.

  • http://kempfintl.com pfk

    I trust Jason McCloud’s judgement on talent. Not so sure about Hoyer’s. Ian Stewart, Efwin Jackson, make me wonder. Both stunk before being signed.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Ian stewart was just a calculated risk. Can’t blame him for that. Edwin Jackson signing I feel like was more about getting a big league arm in the rotation, that had upside. Remember they went hard after the Tigers A. Sanchez before Jackson so Edwin was the plan B. Probably overpaid but thats what MLB FA is

      • Jon

        Ian Stewart, maybe the first time around but resigning him was doubling down on stupidity

        • Serious Cubs Fan

          It was a minor league contract…. get over it man. It didn’t cost the cubs anything. Sure the guys an asshole but who cares. they cut and its over

          • Brocktoon

            It was a major league deal.

            • Serious Cubs Fan

              Still man. Everyone has to let Ian Stewart thing go. Oh well he cost the Cubs a roster spot in for half a season and then cut him. Big woop

          • CubsFaninMS

            An asshole? I’d say he’s more like a lilly-bridge.

    • Rebuilding

      Jackson didnt stink. He was a mediocre, journeyman who consistently finds ways to lose and pitches well after surrendering leads. Stewart was a flier that we gave up very little to get. The real question is why these guys have put together a bottom 5 bullpen for the 3rd year in a row

      • Serious Cubs Fan

        The reason why the bullpen has been so bad the last few years is b/c there was such a lack of power arms in the minors to bring up and develop. You don’t pay for saves. They had Marmol, once the league figure out to not bite on his slider and when he lost a few ticks off his fast ball then he became completely ineffective. They trade Sean Marshall a very good bullpen piece for what was a good return in Travis Wood, Torreyes (traded him for IFA slot $$), and Dave Sappelt potential 5th outfielder (cut). Not a bad trade. They aren’t going to pay for bullpen pieces while the offense and the overall status of the big league club is so bad. They traded Feldman for power throwing arm in Strop (inconsistent but effective at times). Bullpens are built from within the organization, not from spending in FA.

        Theo/Jed were left a pile of crap in the minors with no power arms to bring up in the pen. Can’t fault them for not spending in FA on bullpen for a bad team. Veras was a calculated risk with the hopes of him having a hot 1st half and dealing him at the deadline.

      • Jason P

        Jackson throughout his career has been equally as good pitching with a lead as he has from behind.

  • Medicos

    I never thought would say this but the 6-6 2nd place White Sox are a more interesting team to watch play baseball. Their young players are now at the stage that I hope the Cubs supposed talent of the future. will be in 2016.

    Time to watch the Bulls. NBA playoffs start soon.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      True but their fan base would seem to disagree if you judge by attendance. The Cubs Spring training games drew more ppl then what they are drawing for their regular season games so far

      • Rebuilding

        So far. But the White Sox are likely to go from the 3rd pick to over 500 in 1 year. Abreu is everything the Cuban stats said he would be, Eaton is the perfect lead-off hitter and Senien looks like he is going to be good, as well. With Sale and Quintana they have two of the better lefties in the AL

        • cubfanincardinalland

          I wish I could get an under 81 win bet on the sox. I would bet the ranch. They will lose 90 games in their sleep. Not a good team.

          • Rebuilding

            Well, they lead the league in runs and have arguably one of the Top 5 pitchers in baseball and the rest of the staff is decent. We’ll circle up after the season and see

            • Rebuilding

              When you add a lead off hitter slashing 354/448/521 and a number 3 hitter slashing 250/351/608 it will help you score a lot more runs. Eaton sure would look good in CF for the Cubs

        • Jon

          Maybe a smart guy at Grantand should do an article on Hahn, instead of another one canonizing Epstein

          • Ron Swansons Mustache

            Because Hahn has accomplished what exactly?

            • Jon

              About the same Theo has with the Cubs

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            Hahn gets so damn much credit for adding Abreu – they have a DH spot on their roster, which affords SO MUCH MORE roster flexibility. Please don’t ignore that.

            • Jon

              Abrue is their future first baseman

              • mjhurdle

                maybe, but only if they need the DH for someone else. Which basically supports Brett’s point that the DH makes it much easier to sign a bat first/no defence type player. A NL team has to commit to him being the everyday 1B and 1B only because of his poor defense.
                An AL team has the flexibility to DH him, or play him at 1B, whatever the team’s circumstances dictate.

                • Rebuilding

                  Abreu’s defense has not been bad at all. Steve Stone comments every day on how much more athletic he is than they were led to believe

                  • 70’s Cub

                    Cubs need to hire Stone back!

                    • Eternal Pessimist

                      Yep!

                  • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                    Ever seen joining forces with Hawk, Steve Stone has become just as hard to listen to as that crotchety old nutcase. I grew up listening to Stoney and used to love him, but man Hawk has really pulled him down.

                    • Rebuilding

                      I agree. I think sharing a booth with Hawk would have a bad effect on anyone

              • waittilthisyear

                ive always despised steve stone, even when my dad told me he was the greatest announcer ever. what a blowhard. thinks he is a genius, and though he does have a great baseball mind, i cant stand how pompous he is. id love for someone to ask him why, if he is so brilliant, hasnt he been able to get that front office job he oh-so-covets.

                len and jd arent great, but ill take them over stoney 7 days a week and twice on sunday

                • Head and Heart

                  My room mate is a Jays fan so I have to put up with Buck Martinez doing play by play and Pat Tabler doing colour. Len and JD may not be great, although I think Len is top notch personally, but compared to some of the other crews in the league I think we have it pretty good.

            • Rebuilding

              You tend to get credit when you sign a guy with an OPS of 955 to a 6 year/68 million dollar contract. And he looks like he’s just scratching the surface. The Yankees would have been better off spending their money there

              • mjhurdle

                It is always a great idea to lock up for the long term hitters that dominate in lower talent level competition and have hot starts to their big league careers.

                – Bryan LaHair

                • Rebuilding

                  Are you serious? I posted here all offseason what Abreu’s projections were…and they were nowhere near a Bryan LaHair projection. You really demean the rest of your posts when you say silly stolid like that

                  • mjhurdle

                    where did i compare anything about Bryan Lahair’s projections and Abreu’s?
                    i pointed out 2 things (using the Bryan LaHair moniker because i figured that would illustrate a ‘flash in the pan’ danger) : first that Abreu’s previous stats came against much lower talent. Doesn’t mean he will be bad, but makes him more of an unknown. Second, it has been 2 weeks of play. Again, this doesn’t mean that he will be bad, just that there really is no way to know yet.

                    I’m not saying that Abreu will be a bad hitter. My point is that it is way too early to start giving props on a 6 year contract based on 2 weeks of baseball.
                    If you find that ‘silly”, then i guess we just have to agree to disagree.

            • Rebuilding

              And the deal for Eaton was an absolute steal. I pounded the table on him all last year

            • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

              Exactly, there is no doubt in my mind the Cubs would have been in heavy on Abreu if the NL had a DH

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                I’d have played him at shortstop if I had to. I just wanted him on the Cubs.

                • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                  Well at least meatballs would stop complaining about Starlin’s defense….

                • Rebuilding

                  And I agree with this too, Luke. If the two World Seties teams last year can have Jonny Gomes and Matt Holloday patrolling LF for them then I think you stick Abreu (and a 950 OPS) there and just let him hit. The whole DH thing is a red herring to me

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                    It isn’t to me. Compared to the AL, the NL is severely hamstrung by the lack of a DH. That playing field needs to be leveled, and the sooner the better.

                    I’m in complete agreement with Brett on that point. It is a sizeable and I think greatly underappreciated factor in team free agent decisions in a number of cases.

                    And despite that I still wanted Abreu.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Which is totally fair.

                      But, yeah, you guys have received my point: when NL teams lose out on guys like Abreu (or, hell, any guys that require roster flexibility because of OTHER guys already on the roster), it’s really hard to completely credit the winning team vis a vis a losing NL team.

                      I believe all three finalists on Abreu were in the AL.

                      This has become quite a tangent. My bad.

              • TTH

                And would have been totally pumped when finishing 2nd in the bidding.

                • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                  Trollers gonna troll

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          Abreu was one of three guys I was hoping the Cubs would sign over the winter, and I also like Eaton quite a bit as well, but I’m not sure I can go as far as saying the White Sox are a better than .500 team.

          They are scoring a lot of runs, but they are also among the league leaders in allowing runs at 6.08/game, and they are among the worst teams in the league in several defensive metrics.

          And if we drill into that offense a bit, we find things like this:
          Tyler Flowers, OPS+ 177
          Alexei Ramirez, OPS+ 200
          Adam Eaton, OPS+ 168
          Conor Gillaspie, OPS+ 135
          Adam Dunn, OPS+ 147

          You can argue that nearly the entire White Sox roster is going to continue to have career years… years so far out some of their career averages that they don’t even look like the same player in some cases (seriously, Alexei Ramirez with an OPS+ of 200!!!)… or you can concede that some of these guys are going to come back to earth and that their runs per game will come down as well when that happens.

          And if the more likely of those happens and the White Sox players revert back to their career averages as the season progresses, then that offense will not be good enough to support a better than .500 team without serious upgrades in other places on the roster.

          I suspect we’ll be reading articles in July or August about how the Sox collapsed, or fell apart, or didn’t have enough belly fire, or something along those lines, when the reality is that they just came out of the gate playing out of their minds.

          • Rebuilding

            I agree about the offense, Luke. Guys like Ramirez aren’t going to continue hitting like they have for sure. I do think the additions of Eaton and Abreu have given them a whole new look. By the same token I think the pitching is much better than what we’ve seen so far. Much like the Cubs they should have won at least 2 more games, but the bullpen (first Nate Jones and then Lindstrom) has been brutal

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

              And right now Eaton and Abreu are performing above expectations as well.

              The White Sox are at .500 with that. What happens when they come back to earth?

              • King Jeff

                Their bullpen has been awful, if that also regresses to normalcy, they should probably stay right around .500.

          • ssckelley

            I still do not understand why the Cubs were not interested in Abreu. It is not very often you can acquire a talent like that as a free agent at the age of 27. They could have found another place to play either him or Rizzo.

            • http://www.worldseriesdreaming.com dabynsky

              Abreu is strictly a 1B/DH. There were plenty of scouts who thought he was just a DH. The teams that were mainly interested in him the White Sox and the Rangers both had the luxury of using him as a DH if he truly couldn’t handle 1B. The Cubs did not.

              Abreu looks like a stud right now, and he very well could be. But lets give this some time before we state one way or the other that the Cubs truly missed out here.

              • ssckelley

                I was pining for him up front and was pretty vocal about it. I have no interest in reviewing this later, this guy was out there and the Cubs did not even get involved. I would rather see the FO roll the dice on a 27 year old like this than not get involved and then “give this some time before we state one way or the other that the Cubs truly missed out here”. Like Luke stated earlier a guy that can hit like this you can stick him at shortstop.

                I will say I hope MLB levels out the playing field with the DH rule, either one way or the other.

  • Lou Brown

    This has been frustrating watching the bullpen, and Jackson, but I have to say I do enjoy watching this team more than last year’s team. Rizzo and Castro are hitting again. Lake, Bonifacio, and Olt can provide some excitement in any given at bat. Certain members of the bull pen are brutal, but there some bright spots (Rondon and Grimm). Jackson continues to suck (sorry Brett). I still feel like we have hit the trough over the last two seasons, and have started the (albeit slow) ascent. Although I admittedly DVR the game and FF to the Cubs batting, and through Cubs pitchers I don’t like. Reduces the frustration some.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Todays game and actually the whole series was a sterling example of how silly these pitch framing arguments are. To be factual it would have to assume a level playing field. Did you see how reluctant umps are to call close strikes on the cardinals? And for a 3rd strike punch out, good luck. I watch all the cards games, the umps kiss their ass. Carpenter should have been wrung up 4 times over the weekend alone.
    Love your passion and hope Brett, but Edwin was not good today. Or all if his starts. The reality is him getting the ball every 5th day will net a 10 to 12 under .500 record for the team. There are 4 guys in the minors and 1 in the pen that should be in the rotation next week over jackson
    Its a flipping disaster.

    • Funn Dave

      But with the same catchers getting the same results year after year, there is clearly a correlation between the catcher and the calls.

  • Funn Dave

    Dude…nice Merchant of Venice reference.

  • 70’s Cub

    Nice Guys Finish Last.Two cubs get hit by pitches several issues w/strike zone calls and RR looks comfortable on the Bench. This sucks when a Cardinal hits a Cub and/or spike high slides into 2nd and/or home the Cubs need to respond, history keeps repeating! The message sent needs to come from the Manager get out on the field and defend your pitcher. An above average everyday Cardinal needed to get drilled today. After what Olt went through last year anything close to him to should be met with a response. So far no change RR=Dale=Qball

  • 70’s Cub

    Barney or Valbuenna at this time the Cubs need to reach down to the farm and replace one of these two, my choice would be to keep Valbuenna Barney has no bat..

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    How old is Yadier Molina? Just want to know so I can start counting down to his retirement. Dude destroys us.

  • Darth Ivy

    Well that sucked. I spent the last couple days touting Blake Parker to all my buddies. Fortunately, I called him Blake instead of Parker, so hopefully they don’t realize he’s the same guy.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    My hope was that Jackson might provide enough value that some team might take on his contract in July. Fat chance of that happening now. It’s sad that this FO is going to dick around and let Shark go. Clearly we need to keep the starters that we have in Shark and Wood. Sadly some of the money needed to sign Shark is going to Jackson.

    • Drew7

      “Sadly some of the money needed to sign Shark is going to Jackson.”

      If this FO allows Shark to walk it’ll be because they didn’t think he was worth the $ he was asking for, not because they couldn’t afford it.

    • Voice of Reason

      If Jackson was on a good team last year he would have been pulled from the rotation. Yet people on this site gave him above average performance reviews.

      Jackson was god awful last year and he has picked up right where he left off this year.

      Some on this board need to put down the kool aid.

  • Truely Blue

    I watched the game today and I agree with Brett that Jackson was not given all the calls that he could have had but I also think that all pitchers are in the same boat. There were numerous calls missed for Cardinal pitchers also. The difference, IMO, is that good (not necessarily great) pitchers can overcome the missed call and make a pitch that gets him out of the situation, not overthrow the next pitch or two into the ground and walk the batter or groove one down the middle of the plate. He has a good and resilient arm but I think that he lacks mental resiliency.

    • Canadian Cubs Fan

      That’s a pretty fair assessment I think. A nicer way of saying “million dollar arm, ten cent brain”, which is also a fair assessment.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      I listened to the game with a nattering 5 year old, but didn’t Jackson actually induce grounders on some (if not most) of those key at bats? Yes, the grounders got through: but the “true” outcome was the grounder, not the single.

      • ssckelley

        I guess Jackson must be the unluckiest pitcher alive.

      • Voice of Reason

        So, doc, you’re thinking that Jackson is a solid starter because he induces ground balls. And, you’re still standing by your previous post that valbuena is in the upper echelon of all second basemen even though he can’t start at second for the cubs?

        • DocPeterWimsey

          I would not and never will write either of those things; however, I will write that both players exceed average by far more than does your reading comprehension.

          • ced landrum

            Boom!! Zing!

          • Voice of Reason

            I didn’t quote you exactly on valbuena doc but you certainly did say valbuena would be in better half of second basemen.

            I simply asked the question on Jackson. Your post that he was throwing ground ball outs that just weren’t fielded lead to that question.

      • Canadian Cubs Fan

        I think we need to differentiate between weak ground balls, and really hard hit ground balls. Those were definitely not bleeders that squeaked through the infield.

        And if you’re going to mention the ground balls, you also have to mentioned the line drives that were hit right at Cub defenders.

        • Head and Heart

          A couple of them really weren’t hit that hard. But that’s really not the issue. The BABIP against Jackson right now is .396 and that won’t continue. The problem so far is his BB rate is inflated. He has struggled with his command so far this season. SSS obviously as it is early and lots of pitchers struggle with command in the early going. But if he can find a bit more control and fall back in line with his career norms for BB rate and K/BB ratio he will once again be an above average major league starter as he has been basically his whole career.

  • headscratchin

    There is one positive from today’s game that has been overshadowed in this debate. Wright had a stellar outing!

  • http://kempfintl.com pfk

    Better days are coming folks. Good night all.

    • Medicos

      When do u predict they’ll be start improving??? By Tuesday nite in the Big Apple???
      I don’t see things getting much better as far as the won-loss record goes until 2016 when some of the minor league prospects will hopefully be on the MLB roster.

      Good Nite pfk

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Those prospects are already arriving on the roster (Lake, Olt, Grimm, Rondon), and more will continue to arrive through this season (Baez, Alcantara, Bryant, Rosscup, Hendricks, Jokisch, Vizcaino, Wada, and probably a few more).

        I suspect the Cubs are going to get better a little quicker than some people think. Contending for a Wild Card next season wouldn’t shock me at all.

        • Kyle

          I think you need to prepare yourself for how many of the players on that list have essentially no impact on the fortunes of the MLB team. There’s a ton of future mediocrity there.

          And Wada is a 33-year-old veteran.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            True enough. There is also a lot of trade bait there.

            But if the arrival of a steady stream of talent reaching the majors is the beginning of the turn around at the major league level, then the turn around has begun.

            Even a lot of mediocrity has financial benefits as well. If the Cubs can assemble a purely or mostly homegrown bench and bullpen, that’s upwards of ten million a season that can be redirected into more premium free agents. I doubt the Cubs the will be cash strapped enough for that matter for very much longer, but it is still nice to have.

            I’m not expecting the Iowa Cubs are going to come up and drop a 70 game winning streak or anything of that nature.

            • another JP

              I agree with you 100% Luke- the prospects are coming fast and will definitely have a positive impact on the Cubs this season. Cameron of Fangraphs believed that would be the case and it appears it’s already happening.

              Many people on this site have been bitching about PT for Lake and Olt but I must admit they have a point. They’re both showing continual signs of improvement and I wouldn’t doubt if they are considered core talent by season end. Castro and Rizzo look like they’ve matured into potential impact players. Rondon and Grimm are off to excellent starts. Even if Shark, Hammel, and Carville are unloaded for prospects I believe Hendricks, Pimentel, Rusin, and Wada can fill in until Edwards and Johnson are ready.

              And I really hope Schierholtz and Barney can be dealt so Vitters and Alcantara can be brought up for some major league ABs.

            • Voice of Reason

              Crappy teams like the cubs are right now can assemble a bullpen and bench for $10 million. When they’re ready to add pieces to compete that number will certainly grow beyond $10 million.

            • Kyle

              I don’t think cash available is going to be the primary determinant of whether we add players from outside. It’s our desire to do so.

              I mean, “contend for the Wild Card” isn’t a really lofty goal, so sure, that’ll have a chance of happening next year. It’s a 15-team league with five playoff spots, and presumably 2 or 3 teams contending who don’t make it, so that’s literally half the league contending each year.

              But I’m not convinced Olt is better than Donnie Murphy, that Alcantara will be better than Emilio Bonfiacio, that Hendricks is better than Carlos Villanueva.

              If we’re going to be any good before 2017, it’s pretty much going to rise and fall on Baez, Bryant and pitcher health.

        • Medicos

          Luke: This is what I don’t understand about SABERMETRICS—I can see on a MLB level the improvement that Olt-Lake-Castillo-Rizzo-Castro are making on daily basis, but what SABERMETRICS are the Moneyball believers using to think that: Baez, Alcantara, Bryant, Wada, Vizcaino, Hendricks, Rosscup, etc will be successful MLB players???? They haven’t played any MLB games yet.

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

            What are you arguing?

            Your statement doesn’t say what you think it says.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            First of all, why are you putting sabermetrics in all caps? It isn’t an acronym.

            We have a large amount of data that allows us to pick out some statistical attributes of minor leaguers that are shared by those who have had various degrees of success in the majors.

            • Head and Heart

              So in other words…witchcraft!

        • Voice of Reason

          Luke,

          I agree with the competing next year.

          The question is will the cubs have the money to fill in the holes with trades and free agents where we don’t have young talent.

          Two top of the rotation starters won’t come cheap.

  • Cubs_Questions

    With regards to Jackson and his peripherals, I have this to say: FIP is based on the idea that the result of balls put into play (that aren’t home runs) doesn’t correlate well across seasons, so FIP is calculated with the average results as opposed to ERA which takes into account the real results. This is because theoretically, pitchers have little control of the results of the ball once it is in play.

    Jackson’s FIP is lower than his ERA because the results of the balls in play against him are worse than league average. So when calculating his FIP, it looks much better than his ERA. But at what point do we just say, “Hey, the results of balls in play are worse for Jackson because he gives up harder contact” rather than just calling it bad luck?

    This is by no means a small sample size anymore. I’m not saying he never has any bad luck or anything like that, but seriously, when do “peripherals” become just that?

    On the flip side, maybe hitters just don’t square balls up as much against a guy like Travis Wood, for example. If Wood consistently gives up less desirable hitters results on balls in play, his FIP will always be higher than his ERA, but if he’s pitching well and giving up fewer runs, why would we lean on someone’s peripherals when results are being produced?

    Again, FIP is based on averages, which are made up results both above and below the average. Pitchers DO perform both better and worse than the average. That’s what makes the average. And it’s possible that both of these guys are what they are.

    • Kyle

      One of the biggest flaws in FIP is that it has a blind spot for pitchers who are getting hit hard but somehow avoided giving up HRs, which is not something they can maintain long term. Jackson is exactly that this year. His xFIP is 5.13, which I think is more reflective of how he’s pitched.

      • Cubs_Questions

        I agree that xFIP is a better indicator because unlike using averages, it uses 10.5% for HR% allowed by a pitcher. But much like FIP, my problem with that number stems from the fact that some pitchers will just perpetually be higher/lower than that number.

        Either way, I think his xFIP being that high this season is a better indication of how he’s pitched this season, since he hasn’t yet given up a home run and there will obviously be some regression in that statistic as the year goes on.

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

          Well…xFIP takes that into account.

          And pitchers that deviate from the norm in HR allowed, tend to deviate from the norm in results.

          • Cubs_Questions

            Pitchers deviate from the average in everything. Pitchers above and pitchers below are what create that norm. And while in certain scenarios, they can provide insight like I believe xFIP does in this case, I do think that looking at ERA can be more helpful.

            • Kyle

              The question isn’t “do pitchers deviate from the average”?

              It’s “do they deviate from the average in ways that are predictable enough to be relevant?”

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

              In reality…you use all three, ERA, FIP and xFIP.

              They all have their flaws; however, when you use them together, you can get a picture of the pitcher.

              Seriously, check out the Fangraphs library.

  • Medicos

    Hansman: What i am trying to say why do you need SABERMETRICS to decide if an individual minor league player should get an opportunity in the MLB. Give a minor league player X number of at bats or a pitcher x number of innings pitched in AA or AAA ball. If they’re successful give them a chance to show what they do in the majors. If not they don’t get a chance. Why do u need all these SABERMETRICS to decide if a player merits a call up????

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

      Ohhhhh…

      Looking at who has previously succeeded and failed and at what they did at what level in the minors and at what age, can tell us a great deal about how they will perform at the majors. Even then, you need scouting to help determine the stats.

      Here is the caveat to that. Same as with scouting, sabermetrics can only tell you a probability of something happening on any given scenario.

      Take Javier Baez, for example. A guy with his A+ BB and K rates has never before succeeded in the majors. We also know that the list of guys who have failed in the majors with his AA stats is incredibly small (perhaps even 0).

      So now we have a wild card. This is where scouting comes into play. Is his BB/K rates just because he is good enough to punish enough balls in the minors to have a deflated BB rate? Or does he truly lack pitch recognition skills?

      Is he suffering from bad luck over a small sample? Is he mashing line drives but they are finding gloves or is he dinking bloopers over the IF?

      What all of this does is help you weed out scout bias; however, you also need scouts to weed out sampling errors or things stats can’t pick up on. Is a guy so insanely gifted he can hold his own in the minors but doesn’t put in the effort to adjust? Or maybe a prospect does well against a certain type of pitchers. When you call them up, you want them to face those kinds of pitchers. If they fail at hitting those pitchers, how can you expect them to succeed against pitchers that they haven’t, historically, done well against?

      The human mind is awesome…at picking out patterns where one doesn’t exist. Sabermetrics works to be able to tells us that the pattern picked out either is faulty or is acceptable. So far, it has done a good job of saying that a lot of things we thought were true about baseball…are ass backwards. (Lineup protection, leadoff speedster, sac bunting, to name a few)

      • ClevelandCubsFan

        “The human mind is awesome…at picking out patterns where one doesn’t exist”

        Great point. We have an amazing ability to find connections in our world, but we often work overdrive and find connections that just aren’t there. I teach a class on critical thinking, and we talk about this as one of our human tendencies that can really lead us astray. It’s why psychiatrists use those ink blot tests–we naturally try to impress meaning on randon points of data. So those meanings must ultimately tell us about the patients, not the ink. It is this “misperception of random data” coupled with our confirmation biases and tendencies to jump to conclusions that make sabermetrics a great corrective.

  • Cubsin

    Amazingly, I haven’t seen a single complaint about RR using Parker in the eighth inning down one run against the team Cubs fans hate the most when Rondon and Grimm both had the day off yesterday, after pitching one inning each the day before. Here’s a hint, RR, you can endear yourself to the fans by beating the crap out of the Cardinals.

    • Canadian Cubs Fan

      You know what? That’s an excellent point. I’m sure there would have been a better time to get Parker his first appearance that might have been a lower leverage situation.

      You need to keep it at 4-3 there, and he couldn’t do it. If RR had used Grimm or Rondon, and they had failed, no one would have said “how come Parker wasn’t in there?”.

      The 9th inning showed that this Cub offense has some fight in it, even against one of the better late inning guys in the league, which is great to see.

      • Pat

        Except that Rondon and Grimm, had 6 and seven appearances respectively through 11 games. You can’t keep them on that kind of pace. Eventually you have to trust someone else.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          That’s where I land, too.

          • Kyle

            Not to mention Grimm and Rondon aren’t exactly invincible. They both look good so far, but they are both prone to bouts of walkitis.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’d actually seen quite a bit of complaining about that, but maybe it was mostly a Twitter thing.

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