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This is why baseball is the best sport. Well, maybe not “why,” but one reason it’s so great.

You just saw one of the worst teams in baseball dominate one of the best. Sure, there were a couple nervous moments late, but that’s mostly because, you know, Cubs. In the end, though, it was just a flat-out beat down. It won’t last, and it doesn’t really tell us a lot of about the teams involved – but it can, and does, happen all the time in baseball.

Jason Hammel was once again dominant, notching probably his best outing yet this year (again, it was a softened Brewers lineup, but he mowed them down). The bullpen set up this time with Pedro Strop playing the part of “setup man,” and Hector Rondon taking on the “closer” gig, even if it wasn’t a true save opportunity. As many of us have suspected for a long time, the Cubs really may have found themselves something in Rondon, who struck out all three batters he faced in the 9th. *That* is what you want to see.

And, hey! John Baker got his first hit of the year! And then he got another one! Good game all around, boys.

Obviously this was very, very good to see …

april 27 box

Full box score.

  • dwest9cubs

    Barney still hitting a quality .108.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Well worth that $2.8mil in arb. we paid for him. If he doesn’t get traded mid-season he won’t get tendered

      • Kyle

        Definitely. One way or another, this is his last season as a Cub.

        • craigp

          Absolutely

        • Jason P

          No one sees a scenario where he’s non-tendered and comes back on a reduced, full time bench player type salary? Also, it is still April. Still time for him to turn it around.

        • Funn Dave

          He could still start taking steroids….

          • ssckelley

            Right, that way those fly balls will reach the warning track.

    • Pat

      I don’t know what you can expect with him only starting a few times a week. He needs to be in there everyday so we can “see what he can do”.

      • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

        I think at this point we know what Barney is and can do. A average at best hitter with an amazing glove, a great defensive sub bench player.

        • blublud

          Yeah. I would much rather have Valbeuna at 2nd. I will never bash him again……until the next time I bash him at least. :-D

        • Pat

          To be clear that was sarcasm. Or maybe satire? Started drinking for the hawks game and I left my language skills at the bar.

      • Coach K

        I think we’ve had plenty of opportunities the last few years to see what he can do. Not much more than what he’s doing at the moment.

  • Q-Ball

    Rondon might be the best Rule 5 pick in years…..the Rule 5 draft isn’t what it used to be since the rules changed in the mid ’00s. No more Johan Santanas.

    Darren O’Day was a Rule 5, but he didn’t stay with the team that picked him. I think you have to go back to Josh Hamilton a few years ago to find a better one, and he was a unique case

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Rondon’s good but I don’t think he could be a dominant closer though. Above average velocity, but no true out pitch. Still a great rule 5 pick though

      • blublud

        I dont know what a dominant closer looks like, but if you were going into the 9th with a small lead, Rondon is just as good an option, if not better, than anyone else we have.

        • Serious Cubs Fan

          Definitely the best we have in our bullpen. I was just pointing out he doesn’t have that one dominant out pitch. Maybe he can develop one though

          • snakdad

            First and foremost, a closer needs CONTROL. 98 mph don’t mean shit if you don’t know where the ball is going. But, if he can actually throw that cheese up high in the zone with two strikes most batters will swing and miss.

            • Serious Cubs Fan

              Yes control is obvious. But its not about velocity. Remember Trevor Hoffman? Avg. Velocity, nasty change up out pitch.

  • Camiata2

    It was glorious to watch in person. That second Castro homer was a frozen rope. Everyone in our section was dumbfounded after it went out.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    I don’t want to jinx it but Hammel looks like stud and trade chip so far. Any ideas of what kind of return we could pawn him off for? I’m hoping for true prospects and not something similar to the Feldman deal. I’m hoping maybe something even better then the Dempster trade which worked out well, but we were hamstrung bc of the 10-5 rights

    • drocthekid

      Too early to say and too many factors that play into it. Depends on what teams are in contention and what kind of farms they have. Honestly I rather see an extension if he can keep this up Cubs need pitching and he is in his prime years. Tired of the flipping for prospects game

      • willis

        Well if you’re tired of it, stop paying attention because it’s going to happen with both he and Shark. I hate it too, but it’s the direction the owner and FO are taking.

        • drocthekid

          I agree sadly sadly and the crazy thing everyone who wants to flip Shark and Hammel are going to be Disappointed in the packages in return. We are not getting potential TOR arms because teams are no longer trading those kind of players. I highly doubt that the pitchers we get for Shark will be anything close to what he is becoming.

          • The Real Wrigley

            What?!?? You mean Shark won’t bring back a steal of a deal , if he’s traded? Oh, wait, I already knew that.
            He’s not an ace. Therefore, his trade won’t demand some team’s best couple prospects, and a lottery ticket.
            I’ll be the first to admit it, if I’m wrong.

            • drocthekid

              There are few many real Aces in the game but he is definitely a more valuable piece to this team versus a couple of prospects. I cant be the only one tired of hearing about prospects year 4 should be about trying to be a winning team

              • Voice of Reason

                I’d extend shark if he would do $15 million a year over 5 years.

                He has to remember what some “aces” signed for this past off season. And, he certainly hasn’t proven to be a #1, but guys….. since moving into the starting rotation he’s pitched well and he’s doing it again this year.

                Nobody is giving us an offer we can’t refuse for him.

                I’m getting to the point where I resign him!!

            • Medicos

              REAL WRIGLEY: How can you say that SHARK doesn’t have ‘ACE’ possiblities?? Considering how he’s pitched numerous times since being a Cub, despite having zero victories in 2014, he’s one of the better hurlers in the MLB:

              1.53 ERA, he’s tripled in his SO over Walks and has given up only 30-hits in 35-innings. That’s an indication that he’s developing into an ACE. I hope he’s not flipped but if he is the Cubs better receive a couple of excellent MLB prospects.

              • The Uncouth Sloth

                You know an Ace when you see him, there isn’t even a question or a debate. Shark is no Ace, and it has nothing to do with W-L, because he has received zero support the past three years. He just isn’t. His ceiling is #2, probably #3.

              • JasonP

                Two reasons why it’s easy to say Shark is no ace.

                1. We’ve seen good months from him before that compare to this month of April. Pull up his game logs from 2013

                (http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=samarje01&t=p&year=2013&share=2.14#163-167-sum:pitching_gamelogs)

                then and look at the month of May. Not quite as good, but “dominant.”

                2. Look at the last half of last year, from July on 5.47 ERA over 100.1 IP. The FIP was also over 5.00. Cause for concern.

            • gocatsgo2003

              Remember what we got for a couple months of Matt Garza? The return for Shark should be at least a notch or two better than that.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      I’m tired of flipping prospects too but I’m not sure if he fits the mold and time frame. He’s going to be 32 in September. He also has a history of arm troubles and he’ll want a hefty new contract for 3-4yr contract and I’m not sure we’ll compete for another 2 years. So not sure if an extension is a good fit unless he takes a discount. We need to see how things play out

      • mjhurdle

        i agree with this.
        If Hammel continues having a great season, he is going to be looking (rightly so) for probably his last big payday.

        I would love to have him back if he stays healthy and continues pitching well, but Im not sure how much I would give him with his history of injuries.

        • The Real Wrigley

          “Last big payday”? Has he had his first?

          • mjhurdle

            well, he has made over 20 million in his career, but no big contracts.

            but regardless of that, this will (probably) be his last chance to get a 12+ million 3-4 year deal if he stays healthy and continues to pitch well.

            • The Real Wrigley

              That is probably true.

  • drocthekid

    Crazy thing is yesterday Starlin had a few good swings and could have had 4 HRs this series he is looking really good at the plate which is a great sign to see.

    • snakdad

      Because they’re letting him SWING the bat, not stand around wait for walks or “see X number of pitches”.

  • willis

    Hammel, much like Shark is pitching himself onto a contender. What an outing He had good velo and great movement.

    Love seeing Castro mashing. See, hit, repeat.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Yep. Thats what this whole season is about. Trading short-term pieces for long-term assets. And see Rizzo/Castro improve and developing the minor leaguers. The season will end on after the trade deadline, but I’ll still watch and hope for development

  • blublud

    Ryan Kalish is starting to look real comfortable. I think this guy could end up being a huge suprise.

  • KHRSS

    It’s great to see Starlin take advantage of pitches early in the count. Even his outs these past few games have been hard hit balls hopefully he keeps hitting this good.

    Lake on the other hand, looks terrible at the plate right now.

  • drocthekid

    I know we are obsessed with the Big 5 or 4 but prospects are prospects and no matter how good they are in the minors until they make it to the show and produce they are still just prospects. Shark is in his prime and unless we are getting J. Gray, Appel, both Sanchez and Stroman, Perez/Odor or something out of this world I say pony up and sign em

  • Medicos

    HAWKEY TALK

    BLACKHAWKS—5 BLUES—–1

    Two early 3rd period goals by Jon Toews and Pat Sharp helped the Hawks knock the Blues out of the playoffs 4 games to 2. Crawford 34 saves. Next up Minn or Colorado.

    These hockey players are some highly skilled ,tough, hard-nosed hombres!!!!

  • https://twitter.com/dwoytek dw8

    One positive piece of data on Castro:
    Coming in to the day,
    BABIP: .299
    IFFB%: 21.7%

    I’m looking forward to a pretty decent BA increase as that pop up rate decreases.

    • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

      Having a sustainable BABIP is great news.

  • Karl Groucho

    Great game all around, and glad to see Castro back in the groove.

  • Kyle

    Castro’s peripherals are back to where they used to be. He should be at least an average starter from here on out.

    • https://twitter.com/dwoytek dw8

      Peripherals, yes. Batted ball data shows room for a step forward. Line drive rate is up and pop up rate is unsustainably high.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Castro’s peripherals on batted balls last year was completely within his career range. The difference was a lot fewer batted balls: it was almost as if you just asked “what would Castro’s numbers look like if he started with an 0-2 count in most of his PAs?”……

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      I’m totally fine with how Castro’s been playing. If he hits like this for the rest of his contract, I’d take that. Above avg bat at a premium position. I leave him SS and move Baez to 2nd. At 2nd base Baez negotiations would probably be better for Cubs trying to negotiate a team friendly deal and would cost us less bc its a less premium position. If he ever can figure out his strike issues and reaches his star power potential

  • CubsfaninAZ

    The guy we need to root for is Edwin Jackson. If he starts pitching well some of these contenders like the Braves and others with depth problems might take him on. Arrieta returns, then we root for Villenueva to pitch fantastically out of long relief, and he might get a small return. This would let the Cubs bring in Hendricks and Rusin, to see what they can do after the deadline. Then my hope would be next offseason Cubs go all in (barring wrigley deal gets done) and the nab pitchers like Lester and Sheilds to team up with a combo of resigning Hammel, Wood, Shark, Arrieta. If Arrieta turns out to be steal. I mean our rotation and depth looks amazing, especially if you can land a big arm or two, and from there The guys in the minors will fill it out the back end for years with possible aces developing, aka Edwards. All were missing now is bats, and we have to pray like hell that our studs in the minors become studs in the majors. Its easy to see Cubs being very good next year, if certain players turn in quality years this time around, like Jackson. Letting us keep sharks and hammels. If Jackson and others stink it up, then itll be back to the same old business.

    • The Real Wrigley

      You’re asking a team to take on two ore years of Jackson/his salary, and are hoping they’ll also be willing to add a player(s) to trade for him. That’s asking a lot…no matter how well he is pitching.

      • CubsfaninAZ

        Obviously it means the Cubs will have to eat the money in order to get anything of value in return.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          That’s hardly unusual anymore. However, the thing to remember is that a deal for EJax (or any other pitcher) is a deal to replace the other team’s *5th* starter. Obviously, the better he pitches, the more value he provides over that 5th starter: but he’s already better than the #5 starter on just about every team but the Tigers.

          • Voice of Reason

            Jackson would have been yanked out of most rotations of competing teams last year. He was god awful.

            This year is the same story.

            He isn’t as good as most 5th starters on competing teams.

            And, sure they could trade Jackson, but the ricketts will have to be hungry as they will have to eat the paper. And, the cubs will get nothing in return.

            I said it was a horrible sign when they did it. It wasn’t needed as the team was going to be terrible with him or without him.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              OK, name a #5 starter from any team last year who put up better core numbers than EJax. (That was rhetorical: obviously, there were none.) Remember, the *core* numbers are what would count: transpose those to a team with better hitting and better relief pitching, and the final results would be markedly different.

              • Funn Dave

                If only his contract were that of a #5 starter.

              • Voice of Reason

                I’m not going to sit here and debate the merits of Edwin Jackson. I’d rather clean out my refrigerator.

                He is horrible. We can trade him if we eat 95% of his contract but we won’t get anything of quality in return.

                Doc you’re the same guy who was telling me if valbuena played second every day he would rank in the upper echelon of second basemen in baseball. If that’s the case then why isn’t he playing second everyday for a contender who needs a second baseman? We could get a decent return for him if that was the case.

  • The Real Wrigley

    Agreed.
    But, at SOME point, I’d like to see the Cubs get some actual value for their dollar. You’re asking that a) Jackson pitches better than he has in over a season, b) that the Cubs eat a high percentage of his salary to accommodate a trading partner, and c) Cub fan get to watch Jackson successfully pitch well, with good results, for another team…while HOPING that the lottery ticket-type prospect we get for Jackson, turns out to be a decent player.
    I’ve seen that show before, and then watched the reruns.
    It’s getting old.
    It’s high time that some of these guys that are brought in during the off season start to stick around, and eventually become valuable pieces of a competitive Cubs team.

  • CubsfaninAZ

    Well the only reason i put Jackson out there, was so we could keep Shark and Hammel . Cubs eventually will need to go out an get a true Ace. They dont have one and theres not one on the way soon. So if you can keep Shark, Wood, Hammel and pick up an ace or two, which requires long term commitments. Adding a big arm will put Shark back in the 2/3 spot where he rightfully belongs (unless he continues to think hes an ace, then trade him and use the money to land an “actual” ace. Basicly saying someones going to be traded, lets hope Jackson/Villenueva/Veras types are the one who pitch their way to a contender, while we hold on to Shark/Hammel.

  • The Real Wrigley

    I hear you. You’re right: Shark is not an ace, but clearly believes he is one. In his defense, I’d have to admit that he’s both pitching smarter, and pitching to contact, as to become a more efficient pitcher. The results have been good. If he continues, just maybe he’ll become that ace.
    I’d love for that to happen, but I have my doubts. Time will tell.

    • CubsfaninAZ

      Oh im rooting for Shark to become “the man” but until he is. He should get his head out of the clouds because he is approaching his 30′s and everyone has had this convo about him since he stepped on to wrigley field, the whole “can be , just hasnt yet”. IN fact in many ways Shark is alot like Edwin Jackson , great stuff, just inconsistent and neither has ever gone on a run. Both pitchers are enigmas , and you can ask folks around baseball and they’re all puzzled by how both of them arent more dominating and have terrible win loss records as compared to their “stuff”. Atleast Jackson knows that his inconsistent play makes him a 4/5 and at best a 3. Even though his “stuff” would suggest hes alot better.

  • http://kempfintl.com pfk

    I’ve always looked at this year, especially the first half, to be all about seeing who has what and making decisions accordingly as they prepare to compete seriously in 2015. It appears the Cubs are doing just that. Its beginning to look like the set-up man, Strop and the closer, Rondon, could be a good combination. Grimm isn’t bad either. They aren’t stubbornly staying with Veras. They gave his shot and he lost it. Bonifacio and Kalish are starting to show something positive. I never would have pegged Castro for cleanup but he sure has responded. What with Baez and Bryant coming up, he won’t be there long but its been interesting to see how impressively he has been batting cleanup – so far. They now seem to be giving Olt a regular shot and he is shooing promise. They are giving Lake a shot and I think the result is that he has no future with them. I’m excited to see the second half when kiss like Bryant, Baez, Alcantara and Hendricks come up. Yes, some of these losses have been gut wrenching but they been a good opportunity for testing who has what. Then adjusting.

    • KHRSS

      Who is preparing to compete seriously in 2015? It’s certainly not the cubs. They will be minus shark next year and even if Baez and Bryant live up to expectations, which is a big if you will still have plenty of holes in this team.

      The deadline to compete is most likely 2017-18 now.

      • Coach K

        If they replace Shark with one or two of Scherzer, Lester, or Shields (assuming they all reach free agency) then I think competing in 2015 is definitely possible. I do realize signing 2 of those would be a HUGE “if” but one can hope, right?

    • diamonddon

      Great to see Castro being the old Castro hitter we had a couple of years ago. He looks like he has figured it out again and is driving the ball. I was at the game Saturday night and he just missed jacking two more homers that were hit to the wall.

      Now sign all of the Cubs three core pitchers (Smaj, Wood and Hammel) to extensions!
      I wouldn’t trade any of these guys for prospects. They are all entering their prime years now and can help Cubs win in 2015 and beyond when the prospects arrive.

      • ssckelley

        The only thing of “old” Castro I see is his approach, he is back to see pitch hit pitch. Otherwise I see a much stronger Castro and I am not so sure he won’t hit more than 20 homers this season.

        • blublud

          I think Castro could have had more power last year if he wasn’t thinking so much.

          • http://bleachernation.com woody

            I’m beginning to think that Castro might exceed 20 homers this year.

  • ruby2626

    Getting close to pulling the plug on the Junior Lake experiment. Remember he was godawful in spring training until about a 4 day hot streak saved his job. A guy who strikes out almost half the time in the #2 hole is ridiculous. I’d give Olt about another month, if he is still under .200 with the large K percentage then time to tweak things at AAA. Seems like every game we have double digit K’s.

    • willis

      I’m getting there. I think you let him play and play every day for a few days straight and see if he can tap into his talent/potential. I’m afraid that answer is no, but playing here and there isn’t going to help things. Just let him roll for a few games and see if you can catch lightening in a bottle. And if it fails, I suppose you flip him with Vitters.

      • http://BN Sacko

        I have more concerns about Schierholtz then those 2 right now..and he is playing everyday.

        • ssckelley

          Same, Schierholtz has been horrible going back to last season.

          • augiepb

            Correct, he was hitting .300 as of late June and has been bad ever since.

            • ssckelley

              Schierholtz is one of the biggest mistakes this FO has made. They should have traded him at last years TDL. This spring they had another chance to unload him to the Tigers and did not. His OPS has been below .500 dating back to August 31st.

              • Funn Dave

                The thing is, other teams knew Schierholtz would regress, probably sooner than later. Even if the Cubs were getting decent offers, I don’t think they would likely have been significant enough to count as a big mistake.

                • ssckelley

                  To me the fact that they still feel obligated to play him almost everyday it is a big mistake. I don’t know what the offers were, but it has to be more than what they will get now. The guy is playing his way out of the league.

      • Pat

        As much as I have doubts about Lake as a long term piece, you can’t just give up on him a month into the season. It’s not like they have anyone much better to replace him with anyway. They punted this year to see if some of the fringe players might pan out. As painful as it is you have to stick to that plan and give him at least half a year, if it doesn’t work in that time swap him and Vitters and give Vitters half a year to show something better.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      Olt is hitting .185 after 54 at bats. I think that we need to wait and see how the next 50 at bats go. If he can’t break the Mendoza line he will definately be sent down. If Olt fails and Alcantara keeps going strong I think there will be a conversation about Baez playing third.

      • Voice of Reason

        Relax woody.

        The kid needs more than 100 at bats before we pull the plug. We lose 100 games no matter what so let the kid play. If we were pushing for the playoffs then u could certainly pull the plug, but we aint.

        • http://bleachernation.com woody

          I m in no hurry to pull the plug on Olt, but the thing that perplexes me is where does Alcantara fit in. I would like to see him be our everyday second baseman. And the way Castro is going I see little chance of him being moved off of that position. So for me it comes down to Alcantara V.S. Olt, because we know that Baez will be playing an infield position for sure. Maybe the FO sees Olt as trade bait, I don’t know.

          • willis

            I thought Olt had a pretty good game today. Worked a walk and then, with a runner on third, drove a pitch to CF to score the run. He did what he had to do there. With his power we have to just sit back and see if he can develop into a good major league hitter. The upside of having that is well worth letting him learn and grow.

          • ssckelley

            Not really a problem at this point. Olt needs to prove he can stick in the majors this season because there are a couple more good third basemen coming up that will need a chance.

          • Voice of Reason

            Again, be patient. You have Olt and alcantara and Baez all up with the club to stay.

            We will be lucky if one of those three comes up and sticks.

            I still say Bryant is the first up and stays. He is the real deal. I’m still.not sure about baez, Olt and alcantera.

      • JasonP

        He also has an ISO of .250, which is ridiculous. There are good numbers too, 4 HR in 50 some at bats projects out to about 50 HR if he played every day. Batting average from a small sample size is also not a surefire predictor or measurement of how well a guy is hitting the ball.

        • Kyle

          Unfortunately, the stats that do tell us a bit in small samples aren’t showing us much either.

          Maybe he’ll get better, but right now he’s not playing like an MLB starting player.

        • Brocktoon

          His ISO is propped up by an absurd 26.7 HR/FB% which would have been 2nd in the majors last season.

    • Kyle

      When Lake flames out, a whole lot of people owe a whole lot of statheads an apology.

      • ssckelley

        For what?

        • Kyle

          For parking in our designated spots.

          • blublud

            No one said Lake would be star, we have only argued that he has Bern good so far and that he should continue to be given that chance. The purpose of playing him is to see if he can sink or swim.

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

              That was not the argument.

              He was destined to keep up the .380 BABIP and that was that.

              • blublud

                There you go stretching words. I said Lake would have a high BABIP because his speed and bunting ability. I was also the one telling people before the season not to assume Lake would be a good player this year. I was also the one who said he should start everyday over what we have, because what we have is no better.

                But we all know you like to distort people words.

            • Kyle

              And some of us already knew he was going to drown.

              • blublud

                Thats fine. But are you going to argue that Bugosevic and McDonald should have played over him. It’s not like we have 3 guys who are clearly better.

                • Jason P

                  Not very many people argued we should play McDonald over Lake. The argument was mostly centered around whether or not Lake was a future everyday piece. Statheads said no.

                  • blublud

                    Non statheads said lets just give him an opportunity. Funny, the big statheads, Hoyer and Epstien agreed with the non statheads.

                    • blublud

                      Also, his SO rate is an unsustainable 43%. If it was 26%, probably where it should be, he would have 5 more hits this year. If he had just 5 more singles, his line would be

                      .305/.333/.474/.807

                      Since statheads always wanna talk about what unsustainable. And thats if the extra 5 hits were only singles.

                    • blublud

                      Actually 4 hits. But he would still jave a near .800 OPS.

                    • ssckelley

                      Funny you mention his SO rate as unsustainable, I would think it would have to improve Lake has never had a K rate this high at any level.

                    • Drew7

                      If a guy can’t make contact, he can’t make contact. I’m fairly certain there have been numerous studies showing contact rates stabilizing pretty quickly.

                    • Brocktoon

                      Why would all of his Ks turn into singles?

                    • blublud

                      All his K would be singles, he would have 13 more balls in play which according to his BABIP would be 4 more hits. I just used single to show the least.

                    • blublud

                      Drew, there is nothing in Lakes past to suggest he is a 43% SO guy. A high SO guy, yes. But a 43% guy, no. Since reaching A ball, he never struck out more than 23.4. That would suggest he would be a 25-26% guy in the majors. There is no way he will continue to SO at that high of a rate.

                    • Kyle

                      “Funny you mention his SO rate as unsustainable, I would think it would have to improve Lake has never had a K rate this high at any level.”

                      It’s almost as if major-league pitchers are better than minor-league pitchers…

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      He was 26.8% last season in the majors, in a large enough sample of games for that number to be meaningful.

                      The bigger question with Lake wasn’t his K% – that’s a thing that’s part of his game – but if he had enough to be successful despite that. Last season his overall line was on the basis of a remarkably high BABIP of .377, the second highest figure at any level in Lake’s career. That number was going to come down, the question was how far.

                      Right now he sits at .367; if he stays there he stands to have a nice career. If it comes down more, though, say to .310, the picture gets more cloudy.

                      Brett’s conclusion, which I largely agree with, is that he can probably hit enough to provide quite a bit of value if he can play good enough defense to stick in center, but if he is forced by his glove into the corner outfield slots that becomes much more questionable.

                      I like his chances of sticking in center, but I really want him hitting near the top of the order. I’d rather the Cubs have a lineup in which Lake makes sense as maybe a 6 or a 7 guy.

                    • ssckelley

                      Yeah it is common for players to strikeout 20% more than they did in the minors due to better pitching in the majors.

                      If that’s the case Baez will be fun to watch.

                    • Brocktoon

                      It seems pretty damn unlikely that pitches he’s King at now would be converted into hits at the level of his BABIP. He’d be more likely to make weak contact on those pitches.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      Ergh. I don’t really want Lake hitting near the top of the lineup. Lower is better.

                    • ssckelley

                      Or just lay off of them so he can swing at a better one. Most of those pitches he strikes out on are balls.

                    • Kyle

                      Luke, one of the things we statheads mentioned last season was that his contact rate suggested that he “should” have an even higher K-rate.

                      The list of hitters who can maintain a .360 BABIP for their careers is very, very, very short.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      Agreed on both counts, but I’m fairly confident the larger topic of conversation was his BABIP.

                      And there is pretty much no chance Lake is going to sustain his current BABIP for his career. Or even for the rest of the season.

                      Personally, I think the best take on Lake so far is his player card at Brooks Baseball.

                      http://brooksbaseball.baseballprospectus.com/h_landing.php?player=516809

                    • Drew7

                      First, I never suggested Lake would continue to SO 43% of the time. That said, you most certainly cannot assume that:

                      1) his “true” K-rate is 26%, since he has yet to post a rate that low at any point in the majors.

                      2) assume the K’s we just wished-away will fall for hits at the same rate as all other batted balls.

                      Now, on to the rest…

                      “Since reaching A ball, he never struck out more than 23.4.”

                      He struck out over 28% of the time *in* A-ball, but maybe that’s what you mean’t – who knows. At any rate, he’s always had trouble *making contact*.

                      “That would suggest he would be a 25-26% guy in the majors.”

                      I’m pretty sure that, historically, players tend experience a higher increase in SO’s – especially ones that have trouble making contact. But you have a source that would “suggest” otherwise (that is, of course, rhetorical, since you almost certainly pulled this out of thin air)?

                    • Drew7

                      Here, check out the link below:

                      “http://brooksbaseball.baseballprospectus.com/h_tend.php?player=516809&time=year&minmax=ci&var=sangle&s_type=16&startDate=03/30/2007&endDate=04/28/2014&gFilt=regular”

                      It seems to me that Junior Lake can’t make contact with off-speed stuff or breaking-balls to save his life, and big-league pitchers have adjusted.

                      (h/t to Luke for providing the link that lead me to find that)

                    • Jason P

                      “Non statheads said lets just give him an opportunity. Funny, the big statheads, Hoyer and Epstien agreed with the non statheads.”

                      They put him in a platoon role with 4 other 4th outfielders. The only thing that shows is that they couldn’t find anyone better than Lake on the scrap heap.

                  • Kyle

                    ZOMG I love those. It feels like the Dwarf Fortress version of baseball.

                    • ssckelley

                      ^ he mad

              • blublud

                Im pretty Almora will never be the Ellsbury type player that some people think he will be, and I believe Alcantara would be a better CF, so does that mean S lmora should just be released today.

              • ssckelley

                Does this make you feel good? You love predicting failure and it gives you joy when it happens.

                You’re like that dog that likes to roll in shit and then expects you to pet him.

          • ssckelley

            Don’t you have a handicap tag hanging on your mirror?

            • Kyle

              Nope. But I have a stathead sticker.

              • blublud

                That sticker must be expired.

              • ssckelley

                [img]http://www.learner.org/interactives/statistics/images/stathead.gif[/img]

                This it?

                • Patrick W.

                  Kelly is taking zero shit tonight.

  • http://BN Sacko

    I’d like Jackson to continue to fulfill his contract like his last outing. Shark and Wood get extended and really start putting a team together..for a change..
    Rondon started looking pretty good the 2nd half last year and has continued the trend,,Gawd I would love to see us finish games with a great closer.

    • CubsfaninAZ

      I like what I see from Rondon, but if he falters, I think Grimm is a viable option, and in a few months I hope possibly for the debut of Viscaino as a late inning gem.

  • Darth Ivy

    Great game today. It’s amazing how this FO can find quality starters without spending tons of money. Maybe they don’t need a super ace, just a deep rotation full of solid starters (like Hammelses, Feldmans, Maholms, Woods). The playoffs are a small enough sample size where it doesn’t make that much difference between first tier guys and second tier guys.

    I’m going from pitching pitching pitching to pitching (hitting?) pitching

  • Jason P

    Ha, wow: Pierce Johnson walked 8 (!) batters in 4 innings today, but only gave up one run.

    • Kyle

      That completes the set. Everyone in our top-6 outside of Bryant had a bad April.

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        I prefer to look at it as he walked 8 in 4 innings but only gave up 1 run despite only throwing 26 strikes out of 75 pitches. That’s pretty damn incredible!

      • http://bleachernation.com woody

        Alcantara has had a decent April. I don’t know if he is in your top six or not. But I see Bryant as a younger version of Matt Holliday, a guy that hits for average and power. I don’t really know what the hell is going on with Soler? Almora is doing OK for his age level aand will amost certainly need more time in the minors next year. And Baez will hopefully get things going and get his strikeouts under control.

      • Jason P

        Edwards’ and Almora’s were more mixed. Edwards had 20 great innings before the injury, and the injury isn’t that serious. Almora’s not getting on base like you want to see, but he is holding his own (<10% K%, low BABIP).

        Johnson's sample size is tiny. It was technically a bad April for him, but not a whole lot you can take away from it.

        Soler's a really frustrating case. He gets injured in spring (again), it appears to be fairly minor (again), he goes on the 7-day DL, and now he's been out a month.

        • blublud

          I think Almora is playing fine in every aspect but the walks. A .299 BABIP is not considered low. It about average. The problem with him is he is never going to hit a lot of homers and he is never going to walk a lot, so he has to have a really high BABIP to be successful.

          • Jason P

            He had 3 more in-play outs today, so it’s actually .286. Considering his hit tool and the quality of minor league defense (average minor league BABIP is higher than major league), it should be closer to .325.

            • blublud

              I not so sure about his hit tool though. He Is not a MLB .300 hitter. When he hit .330 last year, he did it with a unsustainable BABIP of .362. Considering his lack of speed, he will never maintain or probably never repeat that number over a whole season. I think a .300 BABIP is about what to expect from him. With about 10 HR and 80 SO over 600 AB, you should expect 153 hits and an average of about .270-.280.

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

                Speed isn’t the only thing that can cause a high BABIP.

                • blublud

                  I know, but you are not a guy who crushes the ball, something almora is not, then speed and luck are the two main contributors, and we know luck goes both ways.

              • Jason P

                The lowest projections I have seen for his ML batting average are .280-.290. That’s about a 60 hit tool. That translates to about a .305-.310 BABIP with his average speed.

                However, in the minors, his BABIP should be much higher, closer to .325. Which is to say, he’s been a little unlucky so far.

                • blublud

                  Not much different than what I projected. The problem, with that average and his walk rate, his OBP will be .280-.290. :-D

        • willis

          Soler is the one I’m most frustrated with at this point. He just can’t stay healthy it seems. I just want to see some solid, constant playing time with him so we can have a long look at if/when he’ll be able to be a power bat for the cubs in the future.

          We think Edwards injury is not serious. But you know how it goes with cub pitchers. Let’s see how long he’s out.

          • ssckelley

            Yeah, pretty frustrating for Soler. I was hoping he could progress through the system rapidly.

            • blublud

              I think Soler has actually been the most consistent among him, Baez and Almora. The injuries are frustrating, but I think he’ll be just fine.

        • Kyle

          All arm injuries to pitchers are serious.

          • ssckelley

            Edwards did not have an arm injury.

            • Kyle

              Yes he does. He has inflammation in his shoulder.

              And almost on cue, his manager says that by the time he’s shut down and then has his arm strength built back up, he won’t be returning to AA until June.

              • Kyle

                Edit: that should be July. He’s out till July.

              • ssckelley

                Oh ok, the arm is the same as shoulder. I mean he hurt somewhere on his body so let’s say arm.

                No shit he has to build that arm strength back up. Way to point out the obvious!

                • Kyle

                  You are seriously going to argue that a shoulder injury isn’t an arm injury?

                  I have a rule. I only argue with people who are worth arguing with. You’ve danced just above the line for awhile, but you just lost it. G’bye.

                  • ssckelley

                    Lmao, woo hooo! I’ve managed to piss off the all mighty (in his mind) Kyle.

                    #trolled

          • Jason P

            But his isn’t *that* serious. You can never take pitcher arm injuries lightly, but there’s a huge difference between what Edwards has and what he could have had.

            • willis

              Sure, but, so many people were already concerned about his stature and if he could be durable enough to be a starting pitcher. So throw some shoulder inflammation/discomfort in there, it gets everyone concerned. Hopefully it is nothing and he can get back to throwing soon.

              • Jason P

                I don’t have any evidence to back this up, but I’ve always felt the correlation between stature and durability is over-exaggerated. I feel like it’s just one of those things that’s become accepted in the scouting community but has never been backed up with a study. Of course, I’m open to having my opinion changed.

                • willis

                  I don’t disagree with you…but a lot of people do. The minute a physical problem pops up, as much concern is out there about if he can/can’t be a starter, it adds more weight to an injury than probably should be there. It’ll be interesting to see how the organization treats this.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                  And now you have data.

                  http://sabr.org/research/does-pitcher-s-height-matter

                  “These data demonstrate that there is no statistical evidence that shorter pitchers are more or less durable than taller pitchers. The statistics suggest that they are just as prone to each type of injury,they recover at the same rate and they get injured as often.”

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                    Ok, so height isn’t the same as stature so that may not be the best study to cite, but I think size in general has been studied with similar conclusions.

                  • blublud

                    I agree. I thinks it odd people would even assume that to be the case.

            • Brocktoon

              He’s going to finish with another 100 inning season this year. That sets him back another season with regards to becoming a full time starter

      • N.J. Riv

        …but then again, it’s still April.

    • ssckelley

      He threw 75 pitches and only 26 were strikes.

      • CubsfaninAZ

        He’s throwing over .300 thats great, oh wait…….

  • ssckelley

    I love all the fights breaking out and the “I told you so’s” flying around when April is not even over yet.

    • blublud

      Exactly. Were not even 20% through the season.

      • Patrick W.

        Is this a good time to point out I’m the first guy to suggest Castro in the cleanup spot?

        • ssckelley

          Good call, but who else deserves to bat 4th? It is about time they removed Schierholtz.

          • Patrick W.

            Rizzo? I could make an argument for Bonifacio, Valbuena, castro, Rizzo

            • ssckelley

              Nah, I like Rizzo in that 3 spot. In my mind it should be Bonifacio, Valbuena, Rizzo, and Castro 1-4 every game.

              • CubsFaninMS

                I completely agree with this. Stack your high-OBP guys at the top. Olt and Lake should be at the back.

                • CubsfaninAZ

                  Olt is perfect in about the 6or7 hole till he cuts the strikeouts down and is more consistently making contact, then id put him 5 hole. Having that power threat right behind Rizzo, Castro is big. Hopefully he keeps it up. I was hoping Shierholtz was going to be traded before the season because i was afraid he was gonna flame out. Id start Boni, Valbuena, Rizzo, Castro, Castillo, Olt for awhile in that order and see what it generates.

  • Dustin S

    Awfully good to see Castro showing some belly fire and TWTW. It’s been a while since he looked like he looked like he was that fired up and having fun. Not sure if it was him batting cleanup or maybe some personal things with Ramirez/Garza, but I hope whatever it was keeps up.

  • Don Eaddy

    I dont know if its been addressed elsewhere, and Im sure there will be a post about it soon, but anyone have some thoughts on Matt Garza’s comments?

  • Diehardthefirst

    If Castro going for power is taking a page out of Sandberg evolvement then kudos to him for listening and the hitting coach for patience

  • ClevelandCubsFan

    It’s 1984, baby!

  • CubsFaninMS

    We’ve seen enough games to get a decent impression of how this team will play, although obviously a whole lot can change throughout the season.

    We expected a team that’s record is bottom of the barrell: check.

    We expected to see some individual advancement: check. Rizzo and Castro have done greater than any of us initially expected. Samardzija and Hammel are pitching their culos off. Valbuena has seen a small power outage but his OBP is legit. Olt has had power success but not OBP success. Lake is where we EXPECTED but not hoped, although obviously he has room to improve.

    We expected a team that may have some very tradeable assets at the trade deadline: check. Bonifacio, Hammel, Samardzija, Barney, and Schierholtz could all be that (Schier needs to improve though…and I believe he will).

    All expected. No matter what though, it is always frustrating to watch our favorite team lose in large volume like this.

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