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miller parkFresh off two frustrating (ok, one frustrating, and one soul-crushing) losses to the Diamondbacks, the Cubs head up to Miller Park to face the heretofore best team in baseball.

And it’s an old friend! Matt Garza takes the mound for the Brewers tonight, which means, among other things, the Cubs should be working on their bunting skills. With apologies to Garza if it’s considered a jerk move, but, if I’m Ricky Renteria, I command Emilio Bonifacio, leading off the game, to try and bunt the ball right back to Garza.

Just see what happens. Maybe this happens:

Was that entire setup mostly just so that I had an excuse to post that GIF again? You bet. Incidentally, that came against the Brewers.

The lineup undergoes some additional changes tonight. Mike Olt is back on the bench, and Luis Valbuena is back at third. Starlin Castro climbs to the cleanup spot, with Nate Schierholtz batting fifth. I don’t really think their placement really much matters in this lineup, at least in the 4/5/6 range, so whatever. Fine by me. Breaks up the lefties a little bit, too.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (7-14) at Milwaukee Brewers (16-6), 7:10 CT on CSN+2.

Game Thread and Series Preview

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

The Series Preview lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Carlos Villanueva (10.93 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 3.81 xFIP; 13.00 K/BB)

versus

Matt Garza (4.50 ERA, 3.89 FIP, 3.72 xFIP; 2.71 K/BB)

Milwaukee Brewers Lineup

1. Carlos Gomez, CF

2. Scooter Gennett, 2B

3. Ryan Braun, RF

4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B

5. Jonathan Lucroy, C

6. Khris Davis, LF

7. Lyle Overbay, 1B

8. Jean Segura, SS

9. Matt Garza, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Emilio Bonifacio, 2B

2. Luis Valbuena, 3B

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Starlin Castro, SS

5. Nate Schierholtz, RF

6. Junior Lake, LF

7. Ryan Sweeney, CF

8. Welington Castillo, C

9. Carlos Villanueva, P

  • cubzfan23

    Would love to see the Cubs light up Garza. That would keep his mouth shut for awhile.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Where the hell do I find CSN+2? I am a comcast subscriber and the cubs game is only available on the MLB network which requires a subscrition. They show the white sox game and not the cubs.

  • KHRSS

    I like the Castro for Schierholtz switch at 4. Castro is obviously not a #4 but Schierholtz has been pretty bad this year.

  • Truely Blue

    I found the Cub game by using the search screen>sports>baseball>7PM>and then checking each listing to find the Cub game. On Comcast in the western burbs of Chicago it is a station named COZI on channel 341. Good luck!

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      I live in the South Bend Indiana area. There are only two open comcast channels and one is the Bulls. Hopefully the other one is the Cubs. I appreciate your response. Thanks!

  • cub4life

    I know this is off topic and way out there…..But what ever happened to Jonathan Sanchez?

    • HislersHero

      I could be wrong, but I thought they gave him his unconditional release.

  • chicubs13

    Brett, I thought it was pretty cool to post lefty/righty triple-slash splits for pitchers at the beginning of the season when the platooning was made out to be a big deal. If it’s not too big of a hassle, could you continue doing that on maybe more of a permanent basis? Giving more relevant information is always a good thing.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Quite a scathing article by wittenmeyer in the sun times. Basically accuses the Ricketts as using the rooftops as an excuse for no renovation, when the real problem is money to do it. If what the sources he lists are true, things are worse than I thought.

    • kj1

      Link?

  • EB

    I really don’t understand the Garza hate from some around here. Yes, what he said about Sogard’s wife was awful, so if that’s what it stems from then I get it. But the guy never did anything as a Cub to warrant these reactions. From what I saw, the guy was a great competitor and teammate, and I loved watching him play.

    • half_full_beer_mug

      Well he left in the middle of a season, so he must be a quitter.

      I’m with you, don’t understand the hate for a lot of players (both present and former) that seems prevalent not only our fan base but others as well. I mean it’s not like a) any of us could do nearly as well much less better or b) like anyone that is making the actual decision cares.

    • craigp

      True

    • DarthHater

      I’d need to know more about his racial background to decide whether to hate him or not. :-P

  • Medicos

    Thank goodness for “PIP” on HD TV:

    A. Bulls (1-2)—–ESPN
    B. BlackHawks (2-2)—-CSN
    C. White Sox (11-12)—-#26
    D. Cubs (7-14)—–CSN+2

    Can’t remember last time all 4 pro teams had a chance to win on the same date???

    And for all you pessimists out there, they can also lose every game.

  • cubmig

    The Cubs Clowns are doing just fine………………..a lot of gifts being “thrown” around.

  • KHRSS

    Hopefully this is Villanueva’s last start.

  • JasonP

    It looks like we might get to see a game where the bullpen isn’t to blame for a loss.

  • cubmig

    It hurts to bash the team I love, but this Cubs team has shown they haven’t learned any way to correct losing the way they do. One would think they never played together as a unit. And if Villanueva continues taking as long as he has been to thrown his pitch, this is going to be added cruelty to endure.

    • Voice of Reason

      Hey cubmig:

      What in the hell does it mean when you say this cubs team hasn’t learned any way to correct losing the way they do?

      That makes absolutely no sense at all!!!

      • cubmig

        sorry for the VERY late response on this: “What in the hell does it mean when you say this cubs team hasn’t learned any way to correct losing the way they do?”

        Yeah…..perhaps that could be read and taken in two ways. My meaning though is this: The Cubs find too more ways to lose than VanKamps has Pork&Beans— and as much as they play together and do whatever they do to try to quit losing the way they do, they have yet to learn to execute good fielding, pitching, hitting, throwing to a cut-off man or to initiate OR complete a DP..the losing mentality monster seems to grab them by the balls and they choke. Need more? Bottom line in my personal opinion, they just haven’t learned how to fuckin’ keep from shitting-where they eat.

        ………..hope that helps some….
        signed:
        cubmig

        • cubmig

          correction. should read: ^ too many [NOT "more"] ways

  • half_full_beer_mug

    If it’s not bad enough that one of out “best” outfielders flat out drops a ball, but they haven’t attempted one bunt with a pitcher on the mound that is known to get the yips throwing to first base. Not only that but it has also gotten into his head and affected his pitching.

    I swear this team seems like it wants to lose. I know I haven’t been a Cubs fan for as long as some, but I’ve been a die hard for 30+ years in the middle of Cardinal land and I’m really starting to question my decision more and more the past 18 months.

    • baldtaxguy

      I guess everyone has a last straw, but abandoning your team because no one has bunted at Garza in 3 innings? (btw Villanueva did)

      • half_full_beer_mug

        Why not? It’s not like the entire line up has an insane OBP and that the team couldn’t use base runners.

        It’s about trying to win, not just bunting against Garza.

  • Diego Javier

    Is this the worst team we’ve ever had???

    • cubmig

      It’s the worst team (so far) that’s been put together and fielded by this FO.

    • cubbiehawkeye

      It’s close but I don’t think so….if you have Shawn Camp on your roster you automatically bumped down about ten pegs…IMO

      • JasonP

        They could have two pitchers with +10 ERAs still on the active roster through 1 month of the season. That’s got to rank right up there with Shawn Camp being on the roster.

        • cubbiehawkeye

          Like you said….through one month.. It’s April, bro. Way too early to say this is the worst team this FO has fielded.

          • Voice of Reason

            Oh its beyond being the worst team this front office has ever fielded.

            This is the worst cub team ever. Will most likely break the franchise record for losses. I could go on, but I digress….

            There is light at the end of the tunnel! It will be fun to watch once baez and Bryant come up and join Castro, rizzo, lake and Olt .

          • Voice of Reason

            Oh its beyond being the worst team this front office has ever fielded.

            This is the worst cub team ever. I said this before a pitch was thrown this year. Will most likely break the franchise record for losses. I could go on, but I digress….

            There is light at the end of the tunnel! It will be fun to watch once baez and Bryant come up and join Castro, rizzo, lake and Olt .

        • DarthHater

          Villanueva’s ERA today is only 9.00 (so far). So he’s working on bringing it down. :-D

          • http://BleacherNation blewett

            I would trade Carlos Villanueva and Jose Veras for a bag of balls and a catcher’s mitt.

            • renegade4196

              That’s being extremely generous

              • spearman

                depends if it was a left handed mitt.

  • nakedman1664

    Just got back from seeing the Daytona Cubs beat the Manatees 6-3. Good bullpen work (Pena was shaky from the stary), good defense, timely hitting. Kinda bummed the one night I get to go see them this season (once…so far) there was no Almora or Vizcaino but thats okay. Vogelbach looks to be heating up, Chen is still chugging along, and I got to see the man with the BEST name I have ever seen, Rock Shoulders, and his fantastically blue shoes.

  • JasonP

    With all this pitch framing hullabaloo and a complete inability to throw out runners Wellington Castillo is leaving a lot to be desired.

    • JasonP

      But to be fair, Welly shouldn’t be expected to be ready to throw out runners when Villanueva thinks he’s throwing BP

    • cubbiehawkeye

      Agreed

    • Mike

      Yeah, he seems to be regressing a bit behind the plate. Although, the stolen bases tonight have been mostly on Villanueva.

      • JasonP

        Not resigning Navarro doesn’t look too bad so far though. Dionner is 3/20 throwing runners out and has a lower OPS than Welly.

  • Medicos

    BNers: Turn off the Cubs game and watch the end of the Blackhawks and Bulls MUCH MORE ENJOYABLE.

    • cubmig

      I had both on…..but the volume on the Hockey game up. Great OT win by our Blackhawks!!

  • DocPeterWimsey

    Ron Coomer is trying to claim that it’s the “little things” that get teams into post-season rather than the big things. No, Ron, it’s really not…..

    • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

      I’m sure he’s a big believer in myth of grit, scrap, and other bullshit.

      • cubmig

        I wish our Cubs had at least something other than just “scrap”—

    • JasonP

      It’s the little things in big games that people remember; but you don’t get a chance to do the little things in big games if you don’t do the big things.

      • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

        The little thing are what good player do because they are good. It’s not anything more than being a good team with good players.

      • DarthHater

        Actually, it’s the big things in big games that people remember. The little things are what people like to talk about, because they think it makes them sound smart.

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

          Comeon…remember that time in the 2007 WS where that guy perfectly executed a throw to the cutoff man?

          IT WAS EPIC

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Well, the general pattern is that the teams that easily make post-season play the fewest games where “little things” might mean much. And the teams that lose big aren’t doing “little” things wrong: they are doing the big things wrong.

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

      He’s a radio guy that broadcasts on a lot of AM stations.

      The average listener age is at least 97.

      • DarthHater

        Speaking of people age 97, I’m getting really worried about Diehard.

        • ssckelley

          He posted earlier.

      • half_full_beer_mug

        It’s also carried on XM. However, I don’t think Pat and *the other* Ron will be talking about saber-metrics any time soon

        • Brocktoon

          They spent time mocking projections earlier this season . Wanted to run my car off he road

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Well, Pat Hughes will go to his grave thinking that the difference between the 1998 Yankees and the 2003 Tigers was 75 clutch hits. (Probably with 2 outs, too!)

          What is frustrating is that it seems that Hughes really is smart enough to get the idea that winning baseball is about having the most rapidly firing machine guns and artillery, not the best sharp-shooters: but he is just so hung up on the “turning point” of every game (or all 7 of them) to see this.

  • AlbDaKID

    Cant wait to read the next sabermetrics/pitchfx justification on how this team or its pitchers are actually better than the results show. Instead of Obsessive Renovation watch, it should be Obsessive Excuses watch!

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

      That happens.

    • DarthHater

      Fortunately, there’s no need for an Obsessive Douchebag Watch.

    • renegade4196

      That’s why this team sucks. We just make excuses for why we suck, and how we’re “much better than our record shows.”

      • DarthHater

        Cite one example of anybody from the team who ever said any such thing. I’ll wait.

        • AlbDaKID

          Cite where it says somebody from the team ever said such a thing. I’ll wait as well.

        • Jon

          Theo did pull the RISP card the other day….

          • AlbDaKID

            Void and null. That doesn’t fit the agenda!

    • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

      I love it with wit falls on it’s face, I think we have our first person to agree with Coomer.

  • renegade4196

    God this game is fuckin hard to watch. Cubs are just getting completely outplayed.

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

    Considering all the belly-aching on here tonight, I figured the Cubs would be down 12-0 and getting no-hit.

    • AlbDaKID

      Well, regardless of today’s game I didn’t post because of this one game its the combination of the sum. The constant spin on “peripherals” and saber stats..etc…etc…is becoming unpalatable. The plan is the plan…is the plan.. Meanwhile, it has become embarrassing to talk baseball with people. Especially when they say, “hey, who’s your team?”

      Compound that with the “Rah rah’s” of the board who are blindly optimistic and the rhetoric of a renovation as well as, building a sustainable future has created the belly-aching. Couple that with the fact that there is no guarantee that the kids will make this team a contender makes all this an even tougher sell. What? Next year we buy FA and the young kids will be up….so now we are winners?? LOL…ok!!

      • DocPeterWimsey

        “Peripherals” are the things that predict future performance. The FOs that relied on the traditional stats are pretty much extinct because they made decisions based on factors that didn’t predict future outcomes. And what the peripherals are telling us is that the 2014 Cubs are about a 0.440 team. They’ve won all of two fewer games than that, which is the 4th most probable outcome after 21 games. We can expect them to win something like 11 of 25 games for most of the time this year.

  • cubmig

    More risp with 0 outs and —–more nada essentially in a high advantage situation.

  • Medicos

    BULLSEYE

    CHICAGO—–101 WASHINGTON—–97

    Jimmy Butler’s 3 point shot with 24 seconds left wins Game #3. Mike Dunleavy career high of 35-points. Wizards up 2-1.

    • college_of_coaches

      That was one bizarre ending. But a good outcome nonetheless.

    • Jon

      and of course the Hawks have to go to OT

      • Jon

        Toews!!!!!!! thank you Blackhawks for distract us from MLB shit show !

        • Medicos

          JON—-Agree with u 100%!!!!! Watching our 2014 Cub games have been painful. At least in 2012-2013, the first halves of both seasons the team looked somewhat like an MLB team.

          • Jason P

            Cubs record in 2012 through 23 games: 8-15
            Cubs record in 2013 through 23 games: 9-14
            Cubs record in 2-14 through 23 games: 8-15

            No difference.

            • Drew7

              Now *that’s* funny…

  • Medicos

    HAWKEY TALK

    CHICAGO—–3 ST. LOUIS—–2

    Jon Toews break away OT goal wins Game #5 Blackhawks up 3-2.

    • TommyK

      Blackhawks hockey is the only thing about Chicago sports right now that doesn’t make me want to throw things. Oh well, at least I’m a Michigan basketball fan. Wait, Mitch McGary did what, now?

  • David

    Castro swings at 1st pitch in the 9th when we’re down 3 runs. It seems like that crap like that may get him traded in the next few months…

    • Medicos

      David: Castro is going to be in a Cub uni for many years. He will not be traded. He might not be at SS for the majority of his entire career, but he’ll be somewhere in the lineup for a long time

      • David

        It all depends on who we get in return. At this point, I say anyone on this team is tradeable.

    • hawkinright

      Trading one of the few players on this team that belongs to be a MLB starter would be crazy.

      • TommyK

        True, but fielding a team that is going to lose 100 games is crazy. And here we are.

  • spearman

    Is Baker going to get a hit this month/ season?

    • renegade4196

      He’s awful.

      • TommyK

        You can cut and paste this scouting report for almost everyone on the Cubs roster.

    • 70′s Cub

      Until he has one nobody can bitch about Baker’s BA!

  • Dakota44

    I cant for the life of me figure out the cubs set rotation, is there a set rotation or is it just series to series?

    • cubmig

      Forget the rotation Dakota44—–try figuring out where you have to kick this team to beat some life into it.

      • TommyK

        That’s like beating a plow horse to make it win the Kentucky Derby.

  • http://BN Sacko

    I don’t think Carlos should start anymore. And to think Rusin is the other option as a fill starter is depressing. Good thing we wasted all that time on Tanaka..# different starters we could have got besides him.. but oh yea Mcdonald. Comical.

    • Jason P

      “different starters we could have got besides him”

      We really couldn’t. Nobody good wants to come to a crappy team and be their 6th starter.

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

      YA! Like Ubaldo Jiminez!!!

      • renegade4196

        what about Ervin Santana?

  • TommyK

    I can’t remember I time that I’ve seen a professional sports team be as bad as the Cubs for as long as the Cubs have been this bad and not seem to really care. I mean, the Cubs have had bad stretches before, but in the past it at least seemed to bother them. Now they just sort of say “don’t worry, we’ve got a plan” and go right on sucking. The owner is still walking around shaking hands in the stands. Theo and company keep giving interviews about how stupid it would be to field a professional caliber team like they don’t have a care in the world. It’s just a weird dynamic.

    • http://BN Sacko

      It does appear that way doesn’t it. We are totally dependent on a farm system that hasn’t thrown a pitch or taken a swing yet.

    • Jason P

      “I can’t remember I time that I’ve seen a professional sports team be as bad as the Cubs for as long as the Cubs”

      The Cubs were above .500 5 seasons ago. The Pirates, meanwhile, just broke a streak of 20 straight losing campaigns. There are tons, and I mean tons of examples of teams who have been bad a lot longer than the Cubs.

      The team does care about winning this year, even if the front office doesn’t, and you shouldn’t have to see fights in the clubhouse or bat slammings to know that they do. Rick Renteria was hired specifically to avoid that kind of atmosphere. It’s great to go into every season expecting to win, but when you don’t, going Zambrano doesn’t do anyone any good.

      • Pat

        A statement ends with the period at the end of the sentence. The “and not seem to really care” part can’t just be ignored. Well, it can be, but it doesn’t make much sense to argue with something that was never said.

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

          So how would they show they “care”?

          Should we just sign a bunch of FA or conduct a bunch of trades?

          Maybe we need to have the team kill a sheep on an alter after every loss.

          If you honestly think that this FO/team doesn’t mind the losing, you would be wrong. Being able to put up with something doesn’t mean that you don’t hate it.

    • DarthHater

      I know people are frustrated, but that’s really not a reason for making silly and egregiously counter-factual statements. Over the past four full seasons plus this season, the Cubs have a winning percentage of .419. Over the same period of time, the Astros have a winning percentage of .365. Gee, that wasn’t very hard. In fact, the ridiculous ease of it makes me pretty damn sure that, if I wanted to waste more time, I could easily find scores of additional examples of teams with worse records over comparable lengths of time.

      • Brocktoon

        Again, you’re cutting off his point mid-sentence. He finds it bizarre that the FO and ownership are seemingly ok with being fn terrible

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