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Unlike this afternoon’s game, the Cubs had more than a couple chances to break through tonight, including the obligatory teaser rally in the 9th. But a lack of clutch hitting – and some ill-timed bunting – conspired to keep the Cubs at bupkis. That’s a shutout for the doubleheader for those scoring at home. Which is no one. Because anyone scoring at home today has already long died of boredom.

Michael Pineda looked pretty good tonight, and the ball wasn’t really flying much. Travis Wood was hit hard quite a few times, but didn’t actually give up a whole lot of damage – just a crap-ton of singles. At least Zac Rosscup had a nice outing in his one-day look-see.

As for the game …

april 16 box 2

Full box score.

  • TommyK

    I love all the debate about what statistic explains why the Cubs can’t score runs. JUST LOOK AT THE LINEUP! This is an embarassing lineup. That’s what always cracked me up about the sample size argument. Why do we need to wait 50 games to decide that this lineup full of lousy hitters is going to be lousy? You guys are so in love with stats you ignore the obvious.

    • ssckelley

      OH HELL NO! We got to have numbers to explain what we see on the field!

    • cubbiehawkeye

      ….and I love it when people like you freak out and point out all the negatives instead of looking at some of the positive things going on. Rizzo and Castro are looking like they’re back to the level they should be at, Samardzija is pitching great. The cubs were shut out twice in one day everyone freak out and start dumping on the team.

      • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

        Thank you

    • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

      I love it when people don’t understand what we are talking about when he are talking about stats, but those same people drool when a player is exceeding what his career has done but call for the axe when a player slumps. It’s a sad way to live life.

      • Spriggs

        I know… FIRE BILLY MEULLER!!!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Uh, most folks who’ve been paying attention didn’t need 10 games, let alone 50, to know that this lineup would struggle to score runs. You know, since that’s what every single projection system said in February, and every single analyst said, too.

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

        BuT wE nEeD tO oVeRrEaCt To EvErY lOsS aNd PrEtEnD tHe CuBs SuCkInG iS sUrPrIsInG!1!1!1!1!1!1!1!1!1!

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          Is it time to go into the garage and dig up the old pitchfork?

        • Stu

          No, we need to rationalize every bad performance and find obscure stats to prove it.

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

            As soon as that happens, let me know.

            Until then, I’ll use widely used and accepted stats to realize that this start is not the talent level of the team (granted, maybe only by a win or two).

            • Stu

              As long as wins and losses are unimportant to the Cub elites, being one of the great unwashed fans it is going to be a long season.

              • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                “Being one of the great short sighted and oblivious to reality fans”

                Fixed that for you

              • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

                Ohhhh that is not what he said, has ESPN wrapped too many minds to realize what’s being discussed. MOAR WINS NOW is not an answer it’s just an excuse used when people don’t want to try and step back from thier need to say something loud. Thank Skip for teaching fans how to discuss sports.

          • Edwin

            I prefer to find a healthy middle ground.

  • Dustin S

    That was hard to watch so I won’t say much, but I couldn’t help but thinking during the games last night that we didn’t have nearly as much of a chance as many thought of landing Girardi or Tanaka. It feels a little like the dorky guy asking the hot girl out for prom, and them nicely saying no while thinking aw that’s cute – but no way in h*ll. A we were just way out of our league kind of thing.

  • Blackhawks1963

    I’m fully supportive of Theo and the building plan. But my goodness the pitchforks and torches are going to be out in full force against the Ricketts family very, very soon. The renovation project is stuck in mud…meaning unlocking new revenues isn’t happening…the debt picture is an apparent mess…a new TV deal is still years away….etc, etc, etc.

    I thought the 2014 Cubs could get to 70 wins. That was naive on my part. The offense is going to struggle all season long to plate 2 runs a game, and the bullpen isn’t the best.

    Ricketts? They need to start having some victories off the field. They really do.

  • Blackhawks1963

    In the immediate term I think it’s time to pull the plug on this ridiculous Ryan Kalish and Justin Ruggiano experiments. And if Junior Lake is going to keep striking out at the alarming clip that he is, then get him out of here too.

    Mike Olt? He is who many thought he was. Hint, hint…Luis Valbuena is a better major league ballplayer.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      Overreact much?? It takes more than 20-30 at bats to prove who someone is (Especially someone with a track record like Ruggiano).

    • ssckelley

      I think it is incredibly stupid to give up on players that are 24-26 years old and you are no better than some of the other negative posters on here when you take every opportunity to bash these players after every bad game!

      Olt > Valbuena their defense is about equal so I will take a .706 OPS over a .602 OPS at 3rd any day. Olt has hit 2 mistake pitches out of the yard, Valbuena hits them to the warning track.

      Kalish is struggling and looked horrible yesterday, I will give you that, but he still has only had 29 PA and has been out of baseball for a long time. He is only 26 years old and we seen flashes of an exciting player this spring. I will take him over a Casper Wells, Aaron Cunningham, or a Chris Coghlan any day.

      Junior Lake is 2nd on the team with a .826 OPS, get him outta here!!!!!

      Vitters > Ruggiano….at least we can agree on something.

      • cubbiehawkeye

        I’d rather see Valbuena in there, at this point. I’m not giving up on Olt but Valbuena gives you a good at bat most of the time.

        • renegade4196

          A good AB? When is batting .205 and hitting balls to the warning track a good AB? Guys like Valbuena get this team absolutely nowhere. Good AB’s don’t win games, hell they don’t even get you base runners. Olt has a power bat, and also hasn’t had the playing time to reflect his potential, same applies with Lake. Valbuena is just more poison for this team, and really just a filler before somebody useful (ie: Bryant) comes up. Kalish does look awful, but at least he’s a threat once he gets on. He is still somebody that doesn’t make the club on a decent team however. Ruggiano hasn’t really had enough AB’s to be able to execute what his strengths are, but as of right now, I’d send Kalish down in exchange for Vitters. Freaking out over Junior Lake on the other hand is just flat out irrational. One of the few hitters on this team and you want him gone? I’m assuming once Baez comes out and when he strikes out a lot he’ll be garbage too? Very funny.

        • ssckelley

          But the thing is long term Valbuena is a utility infielder on a good team, Olt could still be a solid 3rd baseman with power. I can see why you still use Valbuena against tough right handed pitchers, it is still April and you are still trying to win games. But as this season progresses and the farther the Cubs fall out of any playoff hopes then starting Olt full time is the right move for the future. With Villanueva knocking on the door at Iowa and Bryant tearing up AA pitching the Cubs need to know by the end of this season what they have in Olt.

          • Edwin

            If they give him 300-400 PA, shouldn’t that be enough for them to somewhat know what they have in Olt?

            • ssckelley

              I hope so, that is about what he is on pace for. The 2nd half of the season Olt should get the majority of the playing time.

              • Edwin

                If he’s terrible the entire 1st half, I’d rather someone else get the majority of playing time.

                • ssckelley

                  Like who? Please don’t say Valbuena as he will never be anything more than a utility player.

                  • Jon

                    Valbuena could be more than a utility player….on a bad team. If you dig into the numbers, his value, is primary driven by the fact he is a very good utility player.

                    • Jon

                      They are all keeping the seat warm till Kris Bryant is ready.

                  • Edwin

                    Most likely, so is Olt. Sometimes, filler players still get PA, even on a rebuilding team. If Olt is terrible, I’d rather see Valbuena get the PA. Someone has to, and playing Olt just to hope that somehow he stops being terrible doesn’t sound like that great of a plan.

                    • ssckelley

                      Unless the Cubs are still trying to win games into August there is no good reason to see Valbuena getting most of the starts at third. If Olt is as bad as you think he is then hopefully the Cubs will have someone else up getting a shot.

                      Again, we already know what we have in Valbuena.

          • renegade4196

            Exactly. The Cubs are loaded at 3B. I’m by no means saying Olt is the 3B of the future, but it is necessary to get the guy to play. There’s no doubt he has 35 HR potential, but knowing where his average is and how consistent he may be is a must. Villanueva, Bryant, and Candelario are all waiting in the wings, and with this team really being out of any sort of contention, (we’re 4-10, give up) Valbuena should be a UTILITY infielder. UTILITY as in RR thinks he’s just a 3B, another thing that has irritated me. Valbuena at 2B and Olt at 3B I’d be okay with, cause it takes Barney out.

            • Jon

              The Cubs only only loaded at third base if Bryant stays there. Which he should.

    • notcubbiewubbie

      luis valbuena first ballot hall of famer!

  • Stu

    It’s nice to see the Cubs making progress at the major league level.

    I still would like someone to respond to the argument that Theo is not being consistent about promotions from AAA. We were told that a player has to dominate that level before he is promoted to the major leagues.

    Did Olt do that last year? Kalish? Should Sweeney be sent down to prove he can dominate that level?

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      They are not prospects, the circumstances are completely different.

      Also, Ryan Kalish in AAA in 2011, 294/356/476

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

      “I still would like someone to respond to the argument that Theo is not being consistent about promotions from AAA. We were told that a player has to dominate that level before he is promoted to the major leagues.”

      The answer is…he will say whatever the hell he needs to say at that moment to address whatever it is he needs to address.

      For Rizzo, it was deflecting the discussion until they had the extra year of control.

      • Stu

        Thanks. The honesty is refreshing.

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

          Sure! Although this isn’t a new response to the question.

      • mjhurdle

        are you trying to say the the Franchise has more than one way to possibly promote players out of AAA, and that those ways may vary by player and circumstance?!?!

        Shocking!!! :)

        • Stu

          I’m not creating a strawman argument. That is what Theo said. Did he say there are exceptions?

          • mjhurdle

            no, I totally agree. This is ground-breaking stuff. If I had known this would happen, I would have been against Theo from the start.

            Everyone knows that when an organization comes out with an operational philosophy, they will follow that 100% in any and every situation, unless that situation is explicitly written out, defined, announced, publicized, and plastered on posters of scenic landscapes!

            If Theo wanted to have a broad organizational philosophy while still trying to deal with players like the individual people they are, then he should have listed out any player he might try these shenanigans on and also exactly what types of shenanigans he might use. His failure to list those out in cherry picked quotes proves that he is just a scam artist, and the Ricketts are just in this for the money!

          • http://www.worldseriesdreaming.com dabynsky

            Theo Epstein has also said this, “One thing we tell our players, ‘You want to move up? Dominate your competition. Perform.’ It comes down to performance.” And there are plenty of examples within the past three years of this and in Boston of not dogmatically following this notion of needing 500 PAs at a level. Kris Bryant played at 3 different levels for a grand total of 36 games last year and was promoted to start this year. Javier Baez has gotten promotions with 337 PAs and 240 PAs. Something that the front office has been pretty clear on is that every player has their own personal development plan, and that promotion is based upon achieving goals that they and the player set out at the beginning of the year.

            Sure control of players is a factor in the decision, but as Baez has shown in his short time in Iowa there are areas in his game that could use refinement.

  • Spoda17

    I really hate doing this, but I happen to agree with Jesse on his take on the lineups (I know that’s a shock).

    Rogers’ wrote:

    “We have been giving everyone an opportunity to face as many guys as possible,” Renteria said. “We’ll continue to evaluate and allow these guys to get into a rhythm if we can. Everybody has been getting a lot of at-bats. It’s really not for a lack of playing time.”

    But what’s the point if you’re simply not as talented as most of the league? The Cubs know this. If they’re going to lose 100 games, do it with a purpose. Ryan Kalish and Darwin Barney left a combined 11 runners on base in the nightcap on Wednesday. That does no one any good. At least if Mike Olt or Junior Lake struggle in that way, they can still actually get something out of it. Let’s face it, if Barney or Kalish are in a Cubs uniform in a year it will be a surprise to everyone. That’s not the case with Olt and Lake.

    Olt struck out three times against Tanaka during the day game. He looked bad, but this is the time to let him struggle. The more he plays, the better he will be in the future. That’s common sense. The bottom line is the Cubs need to lose with some purpose. There was little of that in New York over the course of their 12 hours at Yankee Stadium.

    This is way more frustrating than last year so far…

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      There’s another way playing a struggling Mike Olt can go.

      He struggles, he loses confidences, he fails to ever hit at the big league level, and he ends up bagging groceries in two years.

      I hate RR’s bunting, but I for the most part have loved how he has spread at bats around early in the year. As the season goes on, the lineups will normalize a bit and certain guys will get the majority of the playing time.

      • JCubs79

        So what? If he can’t hit win the job, when the Cubs are clearly trying to hand it to him, there are going to be others behind him waiting for their opportunity.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          So you put your players in the best position to succeed, and that’s what the Cubs are doing right now with Olt.

          • renegade4196

            I agree with Spoda. These guys aren’t little kids. Everybody wrote Olt off at AAA last year, saying that he lost his confidence. Their frustration and struggling will help these guys. In guys like Lake and Olt, the talent is there. They’ve proven that several times. It’s simply the fact that they will be able to adjust as time goes on. Lake and Olt have not been in the league very long, and combined have only played 107 games, not even close to a full season COMBINED. How are these guys being written off, as they’ve “already lost their confidence”? This team cannot afford any more Darwin Barney, Luis Valbuena, Ryan Kalish, John Baker, Ryan Sweeney….notice that’s the majority of what you see in a lineup every game. Guys that will have 0 impact on the future. When it’s these people struggling, it’s really just hustling backwards. Why even put a team on the field when career bust-outs comprise your starting lineup? It really makes no sense, and it’s made me question a lot of RR is doing. This team has the talent up front with guys like Rizzo and Castro who are playing spectacular, but there needs to be that move to get more guys up. I understand Theo’s desire to have guys “dominate” a level of play, but how long are you going to wait? How come every other organization has their young prospects up, and all of ours are already 21 and 22? This team has nothing to lose, and the aforementioned players bring no value to this team.

            • Edwin

              What “other organization” that has their young prospects up are you talking about?

              • renegade4196

                Hmm let’s see. Washington had Harper up early. Boston has Bogaerts up. LAA had Trout up early. And it’s not like Baez and Bryant don’t have equal, if not higher ceilings than these guys.

                • Jon

                  Wonder how long Bogaerts stays at SS. I’ve been watching his D this series..yikes…

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    Bogaerts might just be having an off-series because of the conditions: in general, his fielding is adequate at SS.

                • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                  Trout’s ceiling is the best player to ever play the game, so please don’t even put Baez and Bryant in the same sentence as him.

                  Harper has been advanced for his age since he was 5 years old.

                  Also Bogaerts is on the same exact development plan as Baez. He reached A ball in his 2nd year, AA in his 3rd year, and AAA/MLB in his 4th year, the exact same trajectory that Baez is on.

                • http://www.worldseriesdreaming.com dabynsky

                  No Baez and Bryant don’t have equal or higher ceilings to Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. Those are once in a generation type talents, and if that is the stick you measure those two against you are going to be pretty disappointed.

                  • DocPeterWimsey

                    Also, Trout’s “early” callup was because of injuries and the Angels (misguided) belief that they were a contending team in 2011. In retrospect, the Angels wished that they had not done so: they burned up service time while finishing two teams out in the WC hunt. (Trout’s extension might have mooted that regret by now.)

                • Edwin

                  Harper was way above Baez and Bryant as a prospect. As was Trout. Bogaerts basically spent 3 full seasons in the minors. Baez is just starting his 3rd full season in the minors.

            • diamonddon

              Well said Renegade!! I agree 100%, Play the kids and see what they can do. If you are going to lose the game anyway, lose with a purpose. Playing fringe players who figure not to be in the future for the Cubs serve no purpose and only frustrates the fans even more. Maybe the kids will play better than the fringe guys and drive in some of those runners left on base by the Barney’s, Kalish’s and Valbueno’s! And if not, at least they will get the experience for the future when the team is good enough to win.

              • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                Yes so you burn service time and when the Cubs are actually set up to be good, these kids end up leaving Chicago. Sounds like a smart plan!

                • diamonddon

                  Tommy, why would the kids leave Chicago when they start to win and can get huge contracts from the Rickett’s family? By then, the money will be flowing like a drunk sailor or like the Yankees and Dodgers spend. And according to the Theo/Jed plan there will be other newer younger drafted players to keep the pipeline going so that the Cubs are in the playoffs year after year.

    • JCubs79

      Jesse is forgetting that RR designs his lineups to get the maximum amount of bunts possible per game.

    • ssckelley

      I disagree on Kalish, he really sucked yesterday but he showed this spring that he could be useful as a 4th or 5th outfielder. I like his defense and when he gets on base his speed is fun to watch. He has had only 29 PA so far this season, one more good game like he had against the Phillies and all of the sudden everything looks decent.

    • Edwin

      I disagree with “The more he plays, the better he will be in the future.”. I think most times, players are who they are, and there is only so much we can expect them to “develope” at the MLB level. Olt might get better, but for the most part he’s playing out pretty similar to what his minor league numbers suggest. He has good power, but terrible contact.

      Playing Olt and Lake 600 PA each as opposed to 300 PA each really isn’t going to change anything, or make them any more or less likely to break out in a substantial way. Letting them struggle doesn’t really gain much, other than providing more evidence confirming what we already somewhat expect from both players.

    • mjhurdle

      “The more he plays, the better he will be in the future.”

      or maybe he gets worse if the future. Or maybe he stays the same.

      The only thing we know for absolute certainty is that, if Olt plays every day, he will either get better, worse, or stay the same.

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

        Or spontaneously combust.

        • mjhurdle

          well, the force wave from the combustion would probably hit the ball, so I think that falls under the “getting better” option.

  • Spoda17

    All young players struggle… Look at Bryce Happer and Will Myers this year… I am no way saying Olt is either of them, but he doesn’t play, it is impossible to determine if he is any good… It is such common sense.

    SSK, I also would like to see Kalish get a legitimate chance to prove he can or cannot get the job.

    Also, I just must say this one more time… Jed said during the off season that Lake would play everyday… whether we agree or disagree with Jed saying that over the winter, he said it. So that makes me think RR is doing this on his own, and the FO just hasn’t redirected him yet. RR is WAY over managing, and it is so obvious.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      Bryce Harper and Wil Myers have had success at the big league level, Mike Olt has not. They were also much more highly touted prospects than Olt was.

      Also, Mike Olt has appeared in 13 of 14 games and Junior Lake has appeared in all 14. Lake is 6th on the team in plate appearances. He is getting a large chunk of the playing time.

    • Edwin

      Olt is playing though.

      And I understand the “If a player doesn’t play it’s impossible to determine if they’re any good”. At the same time, the Cubs should already have some kind of idea what to expect from a player. Past performance helps shape future expectations. When a player like Harper or Myers struggle, you can at least fall back on their past minor league and major league performance, and figure that they should break out of it. With Olt, there’s a good chance that he’s just not that good.

    • ssckelley

      The 2nd half of this season I would like to see a Cubs outfield of Vitters, Lake, and Kalish. Not that I think that outfield is going to win many games but let’s see what we have in these guys. I would rather see the Cubs start 24-26 year old players that at least have a chance at being part of the future than to keep trotting out players where the best case scenario is you can trade them for an A ball pitcher.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Mike Olt sucks. That is my general conclusion. He’s a placeholder, and to be frank I think Luis Valbuena is a more proven and better placeholder. Maybe Olt can be a serviceable utility infielder who helps a team a little bit at 3rd and 1st while providing some pop off the bench. Sometimes big propsects flop. Olt is a definition of that, hench why Texas included him as a throw-in to the Garza trade.

    • ssckelley

      You have already posted that (see your comment above) and you have said this about 100 times so far this month.

  • mjhurdle

    haha – some guy just called into the STL morning sports show that I listen to and said that the Russians have taken over Chicago and made it the epicenter of communism for the world, and by 2016 will be in control of the US.

  • cubmig

    From all the talk going on, it strikes me that we are reacting to the same thing this year as last year—- namely, the experimenting that’s going on . Who plays where, when, is in high gear under RR. Given that this year this team was built for flexibility as evidenced by the high left – right hand bats + position fielding options at his disposal, this year’s experimenting has put the spotlight on RR. Ironically, that built-in flexibility has yet to materialize into advantages that lead to wins. And the fact that it hasn’t, is surfacing in the criticisms of the players written into those lineups by RR. The criticisms have merit, but we should not avoid the FO’s role in all of this. The FO signed who we have. The FO bears the brunt of the responsibility for what we’re seeing. Lest you think I am defending RR, I am not. What I am saying is that the absence of higher tier players (more reliable hitters) falls on those signing players.

    If this season is to show a moving forward –as opposed standing still, or wasting the season with a worst performance– the FO has to act to upgrade the team asap.

    just my 2 cent thoughts.

    • CubsFaninMS

      Agreed. Our current roster is like one of the “next top chef” types of shows. Mix in a bunch of difficult ingredients and ask the chef (i.e. manager) to think of a way to make it successful. When the manager is having his first go-around, a pretty lengthy adjustment period will be required and this is admittedly a challenging roster for a manager. We talk about developing our core players on this site often but rarely do we mention that Rick Bunteria is adjusting to his new role as well. Hopefully he will get better as the year goes along.

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