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darwin barney errorIt’s still very early in the year, and they could certainly fall well off, but it’s so interesting to think back to when the Brewers signed Matt Garza. At the time, here’s what I wrote about the surprise move:

As for whether it makes any sense for the Brewers … well, they do get Ryan Braun back this year, and have a nice offensive core. But, to my eye, they’re clearly an organization on the downswing, and Garza doesn’t change that. Perhaps Garza becomes an eventual flippable piece for the Brewers.

I still think, medium term, the Brewers will head downhill. But I clearly underestimated the strength of that offensive core (even as I complimented it). Adding Garza to the mix was a huge win (as was Kyle Lohse last year), and will be a big part of the reason the Brewers succeed this year, assuming they continue to do so. This is why baseball is so awesome: teams surprise every single year. Maybe one of these years it’ll be the Cubs.

  • It kind of sounds like a changing of the guard at second base has occurred, even if it’s still going to involve a mix and match of players. Obviously it’s been no secret that previous starter Darwin Barney is no longer starting regularly, but it hasn’t been entirely clear how his role is now viewed by the team. Ricky Renteria clarified a bit in comments to the Tribune: “In tight games, we can still use him. He’s a tremendous defender. He’s a tremendously valuable person for us, and I don’t want people to lose sight of that.” To me, that reads like the description of a clear bench player – a late-inning, defensive substitute. With Mike Olt getting more starts at third, and with Luis Valbuena showing enough defense at second to justify putting him there against righties (to keep his bat in the lineup), there aren’t many starts for Barney, especially when you throw Emilio Bonifacio in the mix. The Justin Ruggiano injury helps Barney’s case a little bit (because, against lefties, there isn’t another righty in the outfield to push Bonifacio to second base), but we may not even see him starting against every lefty at this point. If this is what is to become of Barney’s role on the Cubs, I think we’ll see efforts to get him to another team stepped up. He could be a great bench piece on a very good team, and maybe even a starter with the right mix of guys around him. Hopefully that can be a win-win solution, because it doesn’t seem like he’s going to have a chance to get back on track with the Cubs, absent a couple injuries.
  • In that same Tribune piece, Renteria notes that Jose Veras is dealing with a sore oblique, which could keep him out for a few days. Whether that’s related to his pitching woes, or whether it’s a reason to give him a break, we probably won’t know. But it’s clear that Veras needed some time off to get things right. A DL stint and some minor league rehabbing might not be the worst thing in the world for all involved. I’m reminded of Carlos Marmol’s early-season 2012 struggles, his hamstring DL stint, and then his return – after which he pitched very well for the rest of the year.
  • Jake Arrieta is scheduled to make his final rehab start tonight, and it’ll be a short one (Sun-Times). In theory, he’ll slot back into the rotation on May 2, meaning that Carlos Villanueva will have to make one more start (unless the Cubs bring someone else up for a spot start). Given the deep bullpen, even with the Veras injury, the Cubs would probably be fine to let Villanueva start, and then go with a “short” bullpen for a day or two until Villanueva is ready to pitch out of the pen.
  • Matt Garza is happy to be on a team that is winning, rather than one that is always hoping to win (i.e., the Cubs). (ESPN Chicago)
  • It doesn’t have anything to do with the Cubs, other than the fact that this man is apparently a Cubs fan, but it’s nice to see him so happy:

  • cubzfan

    Yeah, just no on another Villanueva start. It’s conceding a game at this point. Bring up Rusin for a spot start and pull him at the first sign of trouble. RR has shown he won’t do that with Carlos. Honestly, at this point, I’m wondering if Villanueva will even be effective in the pen.

    • KHRSS

      I agree on both accounts. Except I would give Wada a start, he is dealing at Iowa and because of his age you might as well see what he has. He might have some trade value.

      As for Villanueva in the bullpen, I don’t think he will do to well there. I would much rather see Blake Parker get a full season.

      • ssckelley

        I agree on Wada, the Cubs are going to have to make some decisions soon to either play him or trade him. If you call up Wada it needs to be more than just for 1 start, not sure of his contract situation but it might be tricky sending him back down.

        • willis

          I guess maybe you give Wada that start? Or Hendricks but I’m sure there are “time” arguments somewhere on him. Throwing Villanueva out there again is just cruel, both to him and the organization. We all get that this team was built to suck and the more they lose, the better (stupid theory, but it seems to be the way of the cubs), but damn can you really keep rolling out a shitty double digit ERA guy every 5th day? Even when you are desperately trying to blow, that still seems a bit much.

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

            No, service time concerns went out the window about 15 days ago.

            Now it’s just a matter of making sure the Player’s Union doesn’t get pissed off about when you call up a player (not that the Cubs have anyone that could do that)

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

          I think he’d be able to opt into free agency if he was sent down.

  • Jon

    Garza’s quotes are the perfect indictment on the “loser culture” that the Epstein regime is fostering in Chicago

    • KHRSS

      But we must not question him, for he knows best.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      If Epstein is really trying to foster a “loser culture” in Chicago like you attest, then he’s going to have to trade virtually his entire minor league system. Because it doesn’t exist there. A lot of those guys win a lot, are used to winning a lot, are used to being in the playoffs, and see no reason why the majors should be any different. They intend to come to Chicago and win, and they thing there is enough talent in the organization to make that happen. They don’t see the Cubs as a team built to lose, but as a team building to be very good in the near future.

      If your accusation is correct, Jon, then we should start see a purge of much of the farm system starting this summer. The culture of the minors just won’t mesh with what you maintain the front office is attempting to instill in Chicago.

      • P.Fronts

        Is there any truth to the rumor that page one of the vaunted Cubs Way handbook states “Never, ever look at, read about, or even think about the current “Major League” team”.
        If not, it should.

      • Kyle

        They can be converted to losing upon arrival to the big-league club.

        We’re setting up nicely to waste Baez and Bryant’s sweet, sweet pre-arb years.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          I very much doubt that. They will lose games, but I will be surprised if they get suckered into any sort of a front office mandated culture of losing. I suspect this group is more the type to get extremely angry if they get trapped in a 100 loss season, not to embrace whatever culture you and Jon feel the front office is attempting to impose.

          I’ve seen minor league teams for the Cubs that didn’t really care much about winning (Iowa in later part of the last decade, for example). But what I have seen and heard the past few years in Tennessee is a completely different story.

          If Jon is right and the front office really is trying hard to build a losing culture at the major league level, a lot of these minor league players will have to be traded. They just won’t accept it.

          • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

            But your reality does not equal the whibe and complain culture so many Cub fans have been fostering. Funny to see the people that live to complain and be vocal about every sing thing in a through a negative lens be the same ones complaining and believing that Epstien is pushing a losing culture in the Cubs. These same fans will complain when we are winning… so who is the ones creating a losing culture? The people that NEED losing in irder to have something to say.

            • Kyle

              Yes, that *must* be it. Thank you, oh wise goat, for figuring out the *real* reasons fans are complaining about one of the worst five-year runs in organizational history.

              It’s not all the losing, it’s that they’re just “whibers.”

              • Karl Groucho

                I, for one, will be moving to a Phillies forum when we start fielding a competitive team. I much prefer complaining about a bad team on a message board than watching a good team play baseball.

                • jp3

                  By the time we start winning around here Chase Utley, Ryan Howard should be getting their jerseys retired then and Ryne Sandberg will be dead and gone. We’ll be riding on hovercrafts and whatnot😀

              • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

                You know you love to be the contrarian and that is your culture. There is nothing wise that I’ve said it’s just the truth behind the culture of the comments lately. You’re not somebody ignore the reality but you do like to be the head contrarian.

                • Kyle

                  I’m not the one being a contrarian in this case.

                  • Tommy

                    The Goat – nailed it.

                  • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

                    Well yes because the complaining is the culture that has taken over here, your “Cub Contrarian” & “Fire Theo” website has won sadly.

                    • Kyle

                      Reality has a way of winning out in the end.

          • Kyle

            I wouldn’t call the imposition of a losing culture to be intentional.

            It’s more like a predictable side-effect of their failures.

          • Karl Groucho

            To be sure, no one imputed an intentional or vicious motive to creating the “loser culture.” They just observed that we’ve seen yet another player chafe at their experience playing on the North Side, and that it’s a relatively predictable outcome from a full rebuild with little attention paid to fielding a competitive ML team in the meantime.

            • Jon

              Yeah ^ this

            • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

              Losing games is much different then creating a losing culture on purpose and fostering players to be losers. But complaining is a culture a fan chooses.

              • Karl Groucho

                If everyone on this board said “great idea, this is awesome, cool cool” this would be a rather boring place. I think it’s great that people engage with what is happening behind the scenes at Clark & Addison, and talk about it in a manner that is usually considerate and well-reasoned! I like thinking about and talking about baseball management, and on BN I’ve run into a lot of bright people’s thoughts on what’s happening in the big picture and in discrete instances w/r/t my favorite team.

                That some people have taken on an argument that they’re (reasonably and considerately) not on board with things is fine; that others have done the same but with an opposite POV is fine too! At the end of the day, it’s the only thing keeping me interested in Cubs baseball, because the ML team sure isn’t. Regardless of what I think of this rebuild.

                • willis

                  Yes, it’s ok to complain and discuss the negatives surrounding this franchise. The major league product sucks and there has been no effort to make it better in a long time. We knew it. We know it. We don’t like it. People discuss it and how horrible it is. So what.

                  Those same people all applaud and discuss positively the good things when they happen, mainly in the minors. If everyone was just nodding their heads yes in unison while 100 loss or near 100 loss seasons continue to pile up, what the hell would be the point of having a community to discuss baseball? We’re not all trained robots and we all have many different ideas on a lot of baseball topics…that’s why we attract to something like this.

                • Funn Dave

                  Well said.

                • mjhurdle

                  why is it that whenever someone disagrees with monotonous complaining about all things Cubs, the first thing someone does is act like the topic is anything negative about the Cubs?

                  Pretty sure at no point have I ever read anyone say that everyone needs to pretend that everything is lollipops and sunshine.

                  There is a difference between constructive criticism of the Cubs and whining to whine.
                  For instance – ‘I think with the debt structure and current players that the window for our competitiveness is at least 2 more years away. Theo and Co seems to be lying to us and constantly delaying our “window”‘
                  I would not agree with that opinion, but I have no problem with someone saying it. It presents a valid point, and i have no problem with someone criticizing the Front Office.
                  Another example – “The Front Office should have invited Sosa to the 100th year anniversity. Shame on them for not.”
                  again, I don’t agree, but valid opinion and criticism.
                  another example (actually happened) – ‘Nice to see Rizzo involved with the kids cancer charity, but he is just doing it to distract from his bad performance on the field’
                  This is indicative of the type of posts people have problems with. It shows that you have made up your mind to be as negative about the Cubs as possible. there is nothing good, only varying levels of bad.

                  It is funny because if someone was as incessantly positive about the Cubs as some people are negative about the Cubs, everybody would be screaming ‘KOOL-AID!!!”.
                  But if you are irrationally negative, then you get to hide behind “but…but…but….if we all agreed it would be boring”

                  • Karl Groucho

                    Heh, that’s quite a reading of what I said.

                  • Brocktoon

                    There are plenty people around here who are the yin to Jon’s yang. Never seen the word kool-aid thrown at them though. They do make sure to tell people to stop being cubs fans if they’re going to be negative though

              • Tommy

                Goat – you’re on a roll today. I couldn’t agree more with your choice of words. Instead of typing my own responses, I’ll just applaud yours. You sound way smarter than I would if I said it anyhow!

                • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

                  Well Tommy you are obviously STUPID oops I said it again so STUPID of me oops

                  • Tommy

                    Words hurt, Goat. Words hurt. :(

                    • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

                      Need a tissue Tommy?

                    • DarthHater

                      Somebody tell the farmer the Goat needs another distemper shot. :-P

      • KHRSS

        Unless all of them arrive and succeed at the same time I don’t see how the cubs will win more when you are surrounding them with the likes of Sweeney, Kalish, Bonifacio(who’s been great so far), a crappy bullpen and minus one solid pitcher (Shark).
        And this is assuming Baez, Bryant and other prospects not only live up to their potential but have an immediate impact. But if one or both struggle at the MLB level the team is in real trouble. Which is the problem with the strategy of depending only on prospects for MLB success.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          I didn’t say that the Cubs would instantly start to win as soon as one or more hit the majors, but that they would not accept any kind of a culture of losing. They won’t accept it, they won’t be happy in it, and if the goal of the front office really is to enforce such a pro-losing culture, they’ll have get rid of a lot of their farm system who simply will not accept such a thing.

          Personally I think it’s all nonsense anyway. The Cubs are losing because their roster isn’t very good, not because the front office has some scheme to instill a culture of losing or anything of that nature.

          When the Cubs get better players, they’ll win more games.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sharingaspare mysterious4th

    That is a cute video. My best friend’s fiance showed it to the both of us last night. My reaction was all about the Cubs.

  • Dustin S

    Someone hide the Garza quotes so Samardzija doesn’t read them…

    • Jon

      I read Garza’s “don’t care ” in Jay Cutlers voice

  • Spencer

    “This is why baseball is so awesome: teams surprise every single year. Maybe one of these years it’ll be the Cubs.”

    Followed up by Garza’s quote about hoping to win year after year rather than one that actually wins.

    Looks like he was right on the money.

  • jp3

    “I don’t know and I don’t care”, boy he’s definitely the ex girlfriend that has moved on to bigger and better things. That quote I don’t think is harsh, just accurate from someone fed up with losing. Can’t blame him on that one.

  • Pat

    I know I’m in the minority on this one, but I really don’t think Barney is a very good bench niece on any team, but especially on this one.

    First, I can’t remember the last time I saw a late inning infield defensive replacement (except as part of a double switch). But let’s just say there might be 20 times a year where he could be plugged in there. Even the worst infielders ever might make an error every 35 innings or so at most (has anyone ever had over 40 errors in a season?), so you can assume about half an error saved (we’ll round up to 1) and maybe one other ball he gets to that another guy wouldn’t have.

    In exchange for maybe two plays that otherwise wouldn’t have been made your bench now consists of a backup catcher, a guy who you might usually pinch hit for rather than use to pitch hit, and three other guys. In the Cubs case, those three other guys (due to the platoon lineups) are all pretty awful against the same type of pitcher (be it lefty or righty). I don’t think weakening the bench every game is worth it for a couple a plays a year.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      The belief is that certain fielders are more prone to make errors “when it counts.” There has not been as much work on this as there has been on things like “clutch hitting,” but what analysis has been done comes to the same conclusions: errors tend to be randomly distributed. (That is why guys get labelled as “making the great plays but blowing the routine ones”: as most plays are routine, most errors come on routine plays, much the way that most driving accidents happen close to home when people do most of their driving close to home.)

  • Matty Ice

    Garza has it all wrong. Hoping to win isn’t part of the plan.

  • cubzfan

    Let’s compare: 2012 Brett Jackson and 2014 Junior Lake

    Jackson, age 23, OPS+ 75, .175/.303/.342/.644, 142 PA, 15% BB rate, 42% K rate
    J. Lake, age 24, OPS+ 78, .224/.262/.397/.659, 62 PA, 5% BB rate, 42% K rate

    SSS, sure, but if Jackson needed more seasoning in the minors, surely Lake does too? I’d like to see the Cubs play him fairly regularly until Ruggiano is back, then send him to Iowa when Ruggiano returns.

    I won’t get all “kyle-ish” and suggest Vitters be brought up instead. I think Josh needs more time in the OF at AAA as well. I’d really like the team to make an outfield acquisition by mid-May.

    • ssckelley

      Lake is a streaky player, usually about the time I give up on him he goes on a tear at the plate. But the book is out on Lake, don’t throw him a fastball and throw breaking down and away.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Indeed, most of Lake’s “streaks” will be cases where opposing pitchers get wild in the strike zone with fastballs. However, baseball is full of pitchers who have problems with command in the strike zone. (It really isn’t just the Cubs!) That’s what kept Jeff Franceour in baseball, after all. Well, that, and moronic GMs….

    • CubFan Paul

      “I think Josh needs more time in the OF at AAA as well”

      This is his 3rd year there.

      “I’d really like the team to make an outfield acquisition by mid-May”

      CarGo.

      • ssckelley

        CarGo is in his prime and is signed through 2017, he is owed $53 million over the next 3 seasons (which is not to bad). But the concern on CarGo is he has a glaring home and away split. Away from Coors Field he is a .769 OPS hitter while .990 at home. I would think for $53 million the Cubs could find a better hitting corner outfielder.

        • Jon

          That is actually a bargain, which is why the Rockies won’t trade him outside of a kings ransome

          • ssckelley

            I agree, if I was the Rockies and played 1/2 my games at Coors Field CarGo’s contract is not bad. But I cannot expect to get a .990 OPS out of CarGo in Wrigley unless the wind blows out every day.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              He was very good on the road last year, but that BABIP for Away games makes me think that was an outlier.

              Still, using his career away numbers in the WAR calculator and grading him high on both baserunning and defense (2 in both) as a left fielder he checks out as a 3.3 WAR guy. That would be in line with his contract.

              Slot him into center and climbs to over 4 WAR opening up excess value.

              http://wahoosonfirst.com/war-calculator/the-calculators/version-2-1/

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        ““I think Josh needs more time in the OF at AAA as well”

        This is his 3rd year there.”

        Technically true, but horribly misleading.

        So far in 2014 Vitters has 18 games in the outfield.
        In 2013 he had 3 games (one in Arizona) vs 21 at third, so he did technically spend time in the outfield in 2013.

        And if I remember right… and it was a long time ago… he played a little outfield his senior year in high school. So that’s three years. You are technically correct that this is his third year in the outfield.

        As a professional, though, it is just his second. And in those two years he has played just 21 games out there.

        Suggesting that he could use a little more experience in the outfield doesn’t seem all that unreasonable to me.

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=vitter002jos

        • cubzfan

          Indeed, I meant to emphasize he needs more time playing LF, not in AAA per se. Just learning the outfield out of the spotlight of Wrigley Field.

  • ssckelley

    So if Veras is going on the DL who gets the call up?

  • Dustin S

    I’ve thought this for awhile on Barney and it’s more true now. Even from just a career standpoint he needs to be on another team. This offense can’t afford to play him, and it’s wasting his main value of his glove being on this team. It’s just a bad situation for both he and the Cubs because he isn’t a great option for a PH off the bench either. He needs to be on a team like Washington for late inning def replacement (Ian Desmond with 8 errors already this year), bunter, maybe occasional pinch runner. He isn’t going to return much for a Gold Glove winner, but it’s more of the just the right thing to do in his situation if they can find a team that could use him. Plus, the infield roster crunch is going to get worse when Alcantara (who’s been quietly heating up at Iowa btw) and Baez get here.

    • ssckelley

      I agree, even with all the hits he takes away from other teams it does no good if you cannot score runs yourself. Barney had a big role in 3 of the Cubs wins, 2 with his glove and 1 was when he hit his homer. On a good offensive team his glove would be an asset.

  • Rebuilding

    From an article on Fangraphs that I found interesting. The Twins are second in the league in Runs Scored with a lineup of no names. The credit goes to not swinging the bat. At 39.7% the Twins swing percentage is the lowest in the league by 2%. The quote:

    “You look at our lineup and we’ve got guys in the lineup with a little more time under our belts now. They know what it takes,” Dozier said. “You’ve got to draw your walks. It’s a long year. Any way to get on base in certain situations, guys are doing that now. But at the same time, we’re not going to lose our aggressiveness. We’re still out there trying to hack away.”

    “Me and (Kubel) were joking in the dugout, we were like, ‘Man, we’ve been doing it all wrong for a while. We’ve been trying to hit the ball to score runs. We don’t need to do that,’” said Chris Colabello, who drew the seventh of eight walks in the bizarre eighth inning. “It was awesome, just the combination of guys having good grinder at-bats and not trying to do too much. It’s really easy in those situations to get too amped up and get out of the zone. But obviously, awesome approach by everybody. It was just a great team inning.”

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-twins-new-plan-dont-swing/

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Well, drawing walks is the second biggest correlate with runs scored (albeit more or less tied with doubles+triples) after hitting HR. The thing is that you need a lineup of guys who can tell that a pitch won’t be a strike when it’s 10′ from the pitcher’s hand!

  • renegade4196

    Anything but another start for Villanueva. Give Grimm a chance or let Rusin start. Villanueva has been flat out awful.

  • Medicos

    Darwin Barney reminds me of the types of second basemen that the Cardinals had in their lineups (pre Matt Carpenter days) a few years ago: not much in the offensive skills, but a decent enough defensive fielder to help a talent loaded team win a World Series.

  • KHRSS

    “Every day we’re going out to win,” Garza said of the Brewers. “We’re not going out to hope to win … It’s a lot more emotion, a lot better emotion than hope. It’s confidence. ”

    Imagine what 5-6 years of losing seasons will do to Rizzo and Castro, they will get tired of it at some point. I am sure players realize that the FO is not interested in winning at the moment and it does affect the culture of the club.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Cardinals won 2 world series in 30 years, same as the Florida marlins.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Feeling the most negative about the Cubs as I have in a long time. Really struck me last night, reporters asking the manager several questions, and Rick talking at length about a minor league pitcher with 2 years of class a ball experience. In April. This is the big news for a major league ball club. Illuminates how barren it really is.

  • Truely Blue

    I have always liked Barney’s baseball acumen. He anticipates well, he is always in the correct place, backing up plays, etc. If he could hit 250 he would be a great asset to any team. What happened to him in the last several years?? Too much thinking? Damn!

    • DocPeterWimsey

      “What happened to him in the last several years??”

      Barney hasn’t even been playing several years yet. At any rate, nothing has happened to him: Barney’s core numbers in his three seasons have been remarkably consistent. Eris just smiled more on him in 2011 than in 2013.

      • DarthHater

        You just don’t get it, Doc. A player’s best year is always the baseline for how he should be expected to play every season and any failure to perform at that level is a puzzlement requiring explanation. Got it now? ;-)

      • Pat

        Doc, the best analogy if seen for this is the dice one you put out there a while back. Basically that most players seasons will be sevens, but x percent of the time you expect a 4 or 11 to come up. When a players 11 season comes in the first year, everyone wonders what happened to them once they go back to what is their average (7).

        But you worded it better.

  • Karl Groucho

    Quick and dirty dig into the Brew Crew’s stats…they’re doing well in one-run game and extras, but their expected W-L is still second only to the A’s. They’re doing this largely through pitching and defense (their RA is tied for second in NL beyond ony Atlanta) although their offense isn’t bad (middle of the pack in NL).

    They’re getting a little bit of luck out of their SPs, especially Peralta and Estrada at the back end, who are overperforming their FIPs by quite a bit. Gallardo, their current number one, also seems due for some negative regression in LOB% and HR/FB.

    Offensively, Gomez, Lucroy, and Gennett all seem due for a bit of negative regression, with inflated BABIP and HR/FB rates. That said, Segura is likely to see some positive regression despite his walk woes (BABIP well below career average).

    All told, then, we should expect their pitching to slip from that number-2 tie, and their hitting to drop a little bit. However, their playoff odds (by Fangraphs’ analysis) are right now at 56% — that’s nearly 40 percentage points higher than the preseason projection. And I think that’s a fair projection, as they’re not egregiously overperforming.

    • Karl Groucho

      My personal takeaway: as much as I can’t root for another NL Central team (and ugh Ryan Braun), I’m kind of glad to see it. They got hammered for those Lohse and Garza signings (not their window etc. etc.) and they’re generally sneered at for not undertaking a hard rebuild. But they’ve managed to field a team that isn’t old or terribly expensive, and they’ll still have their first round pick this year so they can begin patching a leaky farm system.

      Obviously they’re helped by a high-variance (and slightly high-luck) year, as well as the return of their best player. But I’m glad to see a team take an approach that isn’t the Yankees’ or the Astros’ and field a consistently watchable and moderately competitive team.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      This sort of summarizes the problems with looking at team records at this point. We tend to focus on the small sample size of games: most teams have played about 23 games, and after 23 games, 40% of the 0.500 teams will have records under 0.400 or over 0.600. (Remember, it’s a difference of about 4 wins right now!)

      However, the other factor is that some players will be playing over/under their true performance at this point. It might be an low or high FB:HR ratio, or an unusually high/low GB:FB ratio, or whatever: basically, with so few PAs or BF, just a couple of “snake eyes” has a huge effect on overall numbers.

      Whether the Brewers are “for real” or not will be shown over the next couple of months: my guess is that they are just the annual team that gets a few “hot” starts (or “cold” starts: it works both ways) and then comes to Earth when guys numbers start matching the performances.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Just for reference, the Brewers have a net OPS of 0.134. That predicts a team record of 0.678 plus minus error. This has been partly due to an excellent 0.739 OPS from the batters, and given the quality of hitters in their lineup, this probably isn’t over performing by much. However, it’s also due to their pitching (and fielding) limiting the opponents to a 0.605 OPS. I have a really hard time seeing the Brewers doing much better than league-average there over the whole season.

        • Karl Groucho

          And I think that’s really coming down to Estrada and Peralta, who have 2.66/4.02 2.19/4.51 ERA/FIP splits respectively.

        • Brocktoon

          The culture of the comments is a result of a 7-15 team in year 3 of omg THE PLAN

          • Brocktoon

            Haha well that was a huge reply fail

        • Brocktoon

          They don’t need to win at a .678 pace to make the playoffs and now they’ve built a cushion into what they do need to play at

          • DocPeterWimsey

            1) No, they don’t need to play 0.678 ball. In fact, a 110 win season would be a bit amazing. 2) This “cushion” is pretty small: small enough that I still will be surprised if Milwaukee actually makes post-season this year.

  • ssckelley

    A little OT, the CarGo thing got me thinking, but being that the Pirates sucks, nobody outside of Pittsburgh cares about them, and unless it is a weekend game nobody bothers to show up. Would it be impossible to pry Andrew McCutchen away from them?

    • Medicos

      The Pirates have returned to being the same team they had been from 1993-2012. In all those years, they never won more than 79-games. Finally in 2013, they got lucky after signing Francisco Liriano as a FA. He finished 16-8. An excellent bullpen led them to a 94-68 record, but the Pirates lost to the Cards in the NL Div. Series. This year Liriano is 0-3 with 4.22 ERA and only 2 players on the entire roster are over .253 BA. Now they’re back to where they had been for 2 decades: 9-15. Pittsburgh sucks again!!!

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Well, the Pirates did play a little over-their-heads last year. However, this year’s underperformance is probably more flukey in the opposite direction. THey’ve performed like an 11-13 team (so two unfortunately loses), and I’d bet that regression will improve some of the batters’ performances. Alvarez, for example, has had horrific BABiP: his 64 Batted Balls have yielded just 7 singles despite 6 HR and 2 doubles! The Goddess of Regression (I think that should be Athena!) won’t let that stand for long.

        What they really need to do is call up Polanco: this is far from a lost season, and even if it costs them a year of arbitration, then trying to reach post-season again should be worth it for them.

        • Medicos

          DOCPW: You’re probably correct about the Pirates. Greg Polanco already has 12 multi-hit games for AA Altoona. An outfield of Matre-McCutcheon-Polanco would look awfully promising for the next few years in gorgeous 3-Rivers Stadium. Just hoping it won’t take the Hoystein regime as long a time as it took the Pittsburgh FO to “rebuild’ their roster.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            One man’s “promising” is another man’s “terrifying” in this case!

    • Brocktoon

      Yes

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    I just now noticed that the entire AL East has a negative run differential. I’m not sure I have ever seen that this late in a season before.

    • Medicos

      LUKE: Very observant. It’s probably never occurred in the history of MLB.

      • Das Dougscenzo

        That IS very observant.
        I only noticed it when Buster Olney tweeted it at 7:30 this morning.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      I think that the entire AL West had negative run differential when the strike started in 1994. (Insofar as I can find, the A’s had the best Pythogorean projected record at 53-61! The Rangers, Mariners and Angels all were doing worse than that.)

    • DarthHater

      [img]http://cdn.memegenerator.net/instances/500x/49047422.jpg[/img]

  • Patrick W.

    So, Matt Garza is the guy you all want to take culture advice from?

    [img]http://nbchardballtalk.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/garza-account.png?w=504&h=728[/img]

  • Bilbo161

    I guess I couldn’t understand the video. What was the gift?

    • itzscott

      His daughter surprised him with a coupon for a free Happy Meal. The mere gesture choked him up along with the prospect of a free surprise toy.

    • Brocktoon

      It was a pacifier with a note attached telling him she(his daughter) is pregnant

    • DarthHater

      I assumed he was so happy because whatever was in the box told him that he wouldn’t have to watch any 2014 Cubs games.

  • Funn Dave

    Asked if he sensed any frustration from current Cubs players, Garza responded, “I don’t know, and I don’t care.”

    Nice guy.

  • http://BN Sacko

    I like the Wada Idea.

  • baldtaxguy

    Maybe he was simply all jacked up being his first ML inning, but Ramirez had the look of a closer. Obviously, he was bringing a live, moving fast ball. But his demeanor on the mound looked like he was in total attack-mode, on edge a bit, and he wasn’t afraid to pitch inside. Loved it.

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