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jose veras cubsI’ll confess: I did not see last night’s Cubs game. It’s rare, but I had to miss the game because there was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity going on at the same time: Dave Coulier was performing at a local comedy club. Yes, Joey Gladstone, himself. The experience was more fun for what it was than the actual comedy set (which provided a few chuckles, but it was a pretty tame, and maybe largely set-in-stone kind of set). And yes, he did say cut-it-out at one point, but the gusto wasn’t quite there. No mullet, either.

  • And Jose Veras did indeed get that possibly-head-clearing disabled list stint we talked about yesterday, hitting the DL with an oblique strain. Brian Schlitter came back up from Iowa to replace Veras in the Cubs’ crowded bullpen. Fingers crossed now that Veras will get right physically, and then get a solid week or two of performance in the minors to get where he needs to be. If he returns in mid-May, and is lights out from then until the end of July, what do you think? Flip candidate still? I tend to think … well … he’d have to look crazy, ridiculously good. The start of the year has been that bad.
  • Schlitter’s stay in the pen could be short (or maybe Neil Ramirez or Zac Rosscup or someone else), as Jake Arrieta made his final rehab start last night for the Tennessee Smokies – just a short, 44-pitch affair. He’d look now to be on schedule to return on May 2 (though the Cubs haven’t announced it yet), a day after the Cubs’ next off-day. Carlos Villanueva, then, will get one last start on April 30 before the shuffling takes place.
  • Four-game losing streak, ugly 7-16 record, now a worse record than the Astros, and five long months ahead. Ricky Renteria positivity status check? Still intact: “There have been worse starts in the game of baseball, and I’m not even worried about this as much as how we’re going to respond [Sunday],” Renteria told Cubs.com. “What kind of energy are we going to have? What are we going to do? Are we going to focus? Are we going to play? Are we going to be determined to try to salvage a victory tomorrow?” Carry on, RR.
  • Renteria had a chat with Junior Lake about some of Lake’s recent frustrations (that seemed to culminate in the 24-year-old outfielder breaking a bat over his knee Friday night). (CSN)
  • Last night’s game didn’t offer much joy, but I did think this play by Luis Valbuena was a pretty awesome as I was combing through the highlights:

  • OCCubFan

    Dare I say Valbuena made a Barney-like play?

    • JM

      Dare I say that Castillo’s play was better?

  • Diehardthefirst

    The injury phantom strikes again – hey Bud, who’s minding the store?

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    I think Theo and Jed will have to basically write a top flight starting FA a blank cheque in the off-season to get them to come to the north side. And if Ricketts tells them that the money isn’t there to do that, for one reason or another, our FO will start putting out feelers for other gigs.

    • BenRoethig

      If The Ricketts family and Crane Kenney can’t get the business side figured out by next off season, I wouldn’t blame them if they left after their 5 years was up and a good opportunity was out there.

    • N.J. Riv

      There are some decent SP out there in the FA market next offs-eason. Guys like Anderson, Lester, Masterson, Liriano and Scherzer will hopefully be available. As for closers, Bailey will be out there. You would think that most of these guys wont demand a lot, but with the Ejax’s of the world getting that type of pay, who knows anymore. However, the Cubs’ major problem over the last few years has been offense and there are not a lot of good bats out there in the FA market. It seems like the Cubs are really hoping that Baez, Bryant and Alcantara will all be up sometime next season to fix those issues, which to me, seems awfully dangerous.

      • Brocktoon

        If Anderson is worth signing, the Rockies will pick up his option.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Me thinks that Jed has plans already

  • renegade4196

    Renteria saying that there’s been “worse starts” is the kind of crap that just can’t exist. This team was plagued with complacency and futility under Dusty and more recently Sveum, and this bum is worse. Not a lot going on to fix the problems at the big league level.

    • Diehardthefirst

      Maybe 100 yr old house is bedeviled, cursed or haunted? Time to find new digs and start new tradition? Or use an exorcist

      • Pepitones wig

        My wife and I have been saying this to each other for a while. It always seems 10 degrees warmer as soon as you get outside the ballpark. A coincidence? I think not.

  • Jon

    So, remember when I compared the Cubs rebuild plight to that of the Astros and was browbeaten for being negative……

    • Spoda17

      Jon, if, and I know it’s a big if, the Cubs are competitive next year (and I really think they will be), Theo and Jed will have done this rebuild in a 1/3rd of the time the Astros and Pirates have been working in this fashion.

      We live in a fast-food world, and everyone wants everything RIGHT NOW!!! We feel we are entitled to everything, and have no patients for anything. So I’m not surprised there are a lot of people out there that demand the heads of the FO because they are failing. There is no chance that any other GM makes the progress Theo and Jed have made over the past two years.

      • Jon

        No chance? The White Sox had the worst offense in baseball last year.

        • Jon

          You could plan out the most optimistic of projections for Bryant and Baez next year and this team is still bad

        • DocPeterWimsey

          And they’ll probably be in the lower half of the league at the end of the year this year, too: two new bats isn’t enough to go from “worst to first” offensively.

          Remember, there are two aspects of the sample size issue here: it’s not just that teams have won more/fewer games than expected given the team’s “true” talent (just 3 more victories or losses is a difference of over 0.1 in winning percentage!), but if a team has the good/bad fortune of having a more than one player having good/bad months (albeit still completely within expectations: remember, every 0.300 hitter should have at least 1 month of sub-0.250 hitting), then they will look good in their peripherals.

          The DBacks are an example of that in one direction: no, they are not good, but their pitching is not that awful. The Brewers are an example in the opposite direction: they might be pretty good, actually, but they are not the 1980′s Braves. The Sox offense is an example of this: they might not be quite as good as they performed last year, but they are much better than they’ve been in 2014. And the ChiSox offense is an example in the opposite direction: the improvement isn’t because of Abreu and Eaton so much as it is by (almost certainly unsustainable) great early production from Flower, Viciedo and Ramirez; even Adam Dunn has chipped in due to a 0.345 BABiP and keeping his K rate to an even 30%. Mr. Bubble, meet Mr. Pin…..

        • ssckelley

          Jon, don’t go there……..I’m already in a bad mood. Friggin all over MLB this morning about how Abreu’s first month has eclipsed Puig.

          We didn’t want the guy, we had no place to play him!!!!

      • Kyle

        “There is no chance that any other GM makes the progress Theo and Jed have made over the past two years.”

        March 2011: Baseball America ranks a team’s farm system No. 28 in the league. That team goes on to go 74-88.

        How soon do you think it took that organization to turn things around?

      • KHRSS

        Haha, The only thing the cubs will compete for next year is the top pick.

        There have been many GM’s who have made a quicker turnaround than 4 years.

        As for progress you must only be taking about the farm system right? Or are you calling what we see on the field everyday progress?

      • Rebuilding

        Not really. You could have Ryu and Iwakama (hurt I know) in the rotation right now for a combined $11.5 million and Abreu in left, Nelson Cruz in right and Stephen Drew at 2b for about $15 million and your 2nd and 3rd round pick. That would certainly change things. Or you could have a rotation of Darvish, Tanaka, Ryu, Iwakama and Samardzija if our baseball and finance “synced up”.

        With that said, my biggest disappointment in the FO so far is deeper in drafts. Where is our guy picked in the 8th round who starts throwing 97 all of a sudden or starts hitting a ton in A ball? It’s been 3 drafts now and we’ve yet to really have a fast riser come out of nowhere. Our Top 20 list is full of guys playing up to where they were picked or traded for

        • DocPeterWimsey

          The problem with these scenarios is just like the problem of looking at all of your loses and saying “If we’d gotten this hit there, then that game would have been a victory, and that hit here, then this game would have been a victory” etc., etc. *IF* there were other teams successfully signing that number of guys, *then* it becomes a legitimate criticism. However, no other teams are for the same reason that no team bats 1.000 (or even 0.500) in high leverage situations: the probability of success every time is much less than 0.500.

          (And, again, no: syncing would not have gotten us Darvish. Nobody in baseball other than the Rangers thought that they needed to bid more than $25M for him, and several of those teams both needed another good starter AND had their finances synced. The Cubs, Jays, Yanks, Sox, etc., all bid half to one third of what Daniels did: probably because they weren’t bidding thinking “one more out… just one more out” while bidding.)

  • jp3

    7-16…at least we’re the best in the league at something.

  • KHRSS

    This is one of the top stories on ESPN right now: “Garza to Samardzija: Pitch your way off Cubs”
    “I told [Samardzija], ‘It doesn’t matter, dude. You play in Chicago,’” Garza told reporters. “‘I was there, and I lost 30 wins in three seasons. It’s not your fault. You pitch your way out of there.’”

    http://espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/story/_/id/10847460/matt-garza-says-jeff-samardzija-needs-pitch-way-chicago-cubs

    • jp3

      Ouch, where does Garza get off saying those things about us? Oh well, guess he’s just being accurate.

    • Sandberg

      Yup, this is really bad news.

      • KHRSS

        Garza was interviewed because he was seen talking with Shark before the game. Soriano was also interviewed and had this to say:

        “I love Samardzija. I hope he comes here,” Soriano told the Sun-Times. “If not here, somewhere he feels comfortable and gets a chance to win, because that’s what it’s all about.

        “At the end of the day, we play to win. We don’t play to have fun and just lose. We play to be a champion.”

        • Jon

          Players get criticized for only carrying about $$$$ and not winning, then a guy speaks up about not enjoying losing and gets criticize. I think we found a common denominator …do not say anything that points Epstein regime in a negative manner

          • KHRSS

            Yup, it must be that Garza and Soriano are just trolling.

        • Sandberg

          This may very well force their hands. Trade or big signing, here we come.

    • ssckelley

      This stuff should be hanging up in the Cubs locker rooms. If I was playing for the Cubs I’d be pissed about these statements former players are making to the media.

      • Jon

        Top it off with Happy giving a win one for the gipper speech and this could be a turning point in the season

      • Brocktoon

        I don’t think Renteria would want to draw attention to the fact that players are happier once they leave the Cubs.

        • ssckelley

          There are not many players on this team that will have that option if they don’t start turning it around.

          • Brocktoon

            You would think it would affect a guy like Travis Wood’s desire to sign an extension. The Cubs need this story to go away as soon as possible, not make it some sort of rallying cry.

            • KHRSS

              Most players on the cubs are just happy they are still on an ML team so I don’t think it will affect them much. However guys like Wood and further down the road Castro and Rizzo(assuming they live up to their potential).

              • willis

                Well, Garza was spot on. People will criticize him for telling it like it is. This organization hasn’t won for while, and is not going to win anytime soon. So, he’s right. Keep pitching well and get the hell out of Chicago.

                • cubfanincardinalland

                  Cubs couldn’t wait to get Garza out of town. Including a lot of teammates. 30 wins, that’s rich. Spent 6 months of those 3 years on the disabled list.
                  Typical unprofessional and immature stuff, its what he is

                  • KHRSS

                    And Soriano, who said the same thing about not winning.

                    I am sure people will get mad with Shark once he leaves and says he was tired of losing.

                  • jp3

                    Seems garza liked the out of date wins stats… Just saying

                  • mjhurdle

                    I always liked Garza, even if i didn’t think he was an ‘ace’. i don’t think he was the clubhouse cancer that everyone started saying he was as soon as he left.

                    However, Garza started 60 games for the Cubs in his time here. He got 21 wins out of those 60 starts.
                    If he wants to pretend that somehow he would have been 51-9 on some other team for those 3 years, then he might be as delusional as some people seemed to think.

                  • willis

                    Maybe so…and I’ve heard the same, but he’s not wrong. He’s stating an obvious fact that right now, and in the last few years, the cubs have put filth on the field. He’s a good, not great but good pitcher who wants to be surrounded by actual major league players when he pitches. And he’s telling Shark the same thing. He may be an asshat, but doesn’t mean he isn’t accurate in this case.

                    • willis

                      And let me clarify, the “wins” comment was a little ridiculous and I’m not talking about that. It’s telling Shark to pitch his way out of Chicago because he won’t see a winner in Chicago.

      • TommyK

        I’d be pissed that my team was operated in such a way to make such statements accurate. If you are going to hang it anywhere, hang it in Ricketts’ office.

    • Argonzo

      Yeah, why can’t they be a winning organization like the mighty Brewers.

      Just look at all their WS trophies. I guess their penant only has 30+ years of dust unlike the Cubs 60+.

      Sorry, but 30+ years of futility might as well be 100.

  • jp3

    The too early 1st pick for 2015 draft, any Bryce Harper, strasburg like talents out there lurking? That would be nice.

    • Kyle

      The presumptive No. 1 overall is Daz Cameron, son of 17-year MLBer Mike Cameron.

      • jp3

        Damn, mike Cameron just retired. Stuff like this makes me feel really old:). Thanks Kyle

  • Abe Froman

    Brett, was Dave Coulier just playing the straight man to Mr. Woodchuck as the foil?

  • dkap

    So Veras is making the obliquatory DL trip to clear his head?

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