View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



June 2011



Game 71 – Bullpen Suckage

Written by , Posted in General

Cubs 4, Yankees 10

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

What Went Right

  • Randy Wells – If you look at the box score, it’s hard to put Wells in this spot, but if you watched the game it may be different. I came away a little encouraged. After giving up a run in the top of the 1st on a homerun to Brett Gardner on an 0-2 pitch, he settled in a little until the 4th. He finished the day giving up four runs, but I felt like he pitched better than that. Maybe I’m crazy.
  • Aramis Ramirez – He didn’t really have a game of a cleanup hitter from a run production standpoint, but he had three hits, including an infield hit (how often do we ever type those words with Ramirez), and made a really nice diving play at third. Good effort by Rammy tonight.
  • Alfonso Soriano – He came into the game with good numbers against CC Sabathia and he didn’t fail to disappoint by putting the Cubs up three runs early with a three run bomb in the 3rd. At that point, it was looking like a series win for sure.

What Went Wrong

  • Starlin Castro’s Fielding – It didn’t make a difference in the grand sceme of things, but Castro was not on his game. There was a play on a Cano grounder that had potential double play, but not sure double play written on it. Castro rushed it, took his foot off the bad too early and didn’t get any outs. Later, he forced a throw to Jeff Baker at first that got by him. It was ruled a hit, but it was one of those balls you need to put in your pocket and not make the throw. He’s a kid, so I’m going to continue to give him slack, but I wanna see improvement in the field.
  • Bullpen – If you can summarize in one word: UGLY. Chris Carpenter came into the game in a big situation, we’ll get into that later, and promptly gave up the farm with the three run homerun to Nick Swisher. The 9th inning was more of the same with James Russell and Rodrigo Lopez both giving up runs to turn the game into a laugher.


  • I really like the pitch counter for the pitchers. It’s something that I usually track myself batter by batter to know where a starting pitcher is in the game. ESPN does it for me, which makes the job so much easier. It’s a simple addition that I think needs to be in every broadcast.
  • Brett Gardner showed bunt in at least two at bats. Why don’t more hitters, especially speedy ones, do this more often? It automatically forces the infield to respect it, especially if you actually lay it down every once in a while.

The Takeaway

I had my hopes up for this one and instead came away with two things. First, I’m not sure why Rodrigo Lopez and James Russell are in the bullpen. When Kerry Wood comes back, one of them must go. Second, I am beginning to question Mike Quade’s ability as a manager. I can’t stand his lineup choices, today hitting Jeff Baker in the 3rd spot, and I hate that he doesn’t have the balls to go to his best reliever in a pinch. Last night Chris Carpenter had no business being out there in that type of situation on national television. That was a spot, with the game tied, that you bring in Carlos Marmol. I don’t care if it’s the 9th inning. You bring Marmol in to put out the fire. If he gets out of that inning, the game is still within reach. I’m done with Mike Quade.

Stars of the Game
Based on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star – Nick Swisher (.356 WPA)

2nd Star – Alfonso Soriano (.251 WPA)

3rd Star – Robinson Cano (.161 WPA)

Cubs Hitting: -.085 WPA

Cubs Pitching: -.415 WPA

  • Buddy

    You’re right about the Carpenter inning Joe. That is one of many reasons why I hate the “you can only pitch your closer in the 9th” mentality.

  • PackerCubBull

    Some of my random thoughts:
    In that 3rd inning, when Ramirez stepped on the bag at 3rd, he had time to throw home and nail the runner to prevent the run from scoring.
    9th inning: That double down the line, why was Jeff Baker playing RF?
    Bullpen: I also agree, I don’t like the idea of saving the closer for the 9th. Why wouldn’t you put your best pitcher in in the most critical juncture of the game?
    Pitch Counter: I’m a fan of it too, it helps me track how many pitches have been thrown, without relying on the announcers to tell me. For example, with the pitch counter, I was able to figure that Wells would be done after 6 because he had thrown 100 pitches.

  • Evan

    I’m glad someone agrees with me about Quade, but unfortunately I don’t think he (or Jim Hendry for that matter) are going anywhere anytime soon…

  • Buddy

    A few random thoughts…Thanks to the Yankees, the Cubs broke a weekend series attendance record this weekend. Speaking of this weekend, yesterday I was preparing for a 1980 “Retro” Diamond Mind Baseball draft, and I stumbled across the Cubs attendance figure for that season. Any guesses? About 1.2 million. Fast forward to today and the Cubs are already at 1.3 million for less than half of 2011. Kind of interesting I thought.

  • chet

    In regards to bringing Marmol in early, I don’t agree totally. Basically Quade is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. I liked the idea, while it was daring, to bring Carpenter in. See what the kid has…..

    The bigger problem is the choices he has at his disposal!!! I mean Russell and Lopez are terrible, Marshall was already used and apparently the wide reciever is back to struggling. Wood has a blister and the only one left is Grabow, who also pitched the night before and sucks.

    There are literally 3 relievers in that pen that suck so bad it is almost automatic they will yield a run. That is a lot of suckage.

    Back to Marmol, I am not sure the result would have been much different. Runners on the corners with no outs, in a tie game? I could see him walking the bases full considering the patience of Yankee hitters. Then we cue the merry go round music.

    No, the real problem here is the Cubs lack of depth in the pen to begin with. The lack of hitting in clutch situations and the poor defense, which if you think about it is due to a lack of depth as we have youth and stop gaps all over this team.

    Mike Quade is playing with a AAA roster against the Yankees.

    Quick question…..How many Cubs players could bump a Yankee from their starting position right now? I don’t see many! How many Yankees would immediately start on the Cubs roster?

  • Jesse

    While I’m done with Quade as well (and I admit that I defended him at points), I’m with Chet on yesterday’s ‘performance’ as manager… Who did we have left in the pen? When this team wins, they look like scrappy overachievers which is ridiculous given the fact that they are not paid like scrappy players, they are payed like superstars who shouldn’t need to overachieve to win. When they lose, they look pretty awful.

    As for how many Cubs could bump a Yankee? I’m not sure I see a one. They are a better lineup 1-8, and their pitching staff looks better as well. But hey, it’s the Yankees…

  • lizzie

    Joe, I agree with everything you say with the exception of the post’s title “Bullpen Suckage” and only because it wasn’t only the bullpen that sucked. Better to call it “Cubs Suckage”. “Again”. Their entire offensive strategy can be summed up in six words: Pray someone hits a home run. Since even the best home run hitters only do that occasionally, that’s when the Cubs win. Occasionally. Assuming the bullpen doesn’t muck it up. And Chet you are absolutely correct. With the exception of Soto (and we all know why) I’d start every one of the Yankees starters before ours. And when I’m really disgusted even Geo would sit.

    • @Lizzie – To add to your thought. We had a terrible approach against Sabathia once he made adjustments to go to breaking stuff. At that point we kept swinging early and swinging often. It was almost like the Cubs were following the voting tradition in Chicago. He should not have worked as deep as he did.

      @Norm – I thought the same thing. Why not hit Fukudome and them leave him in to replace Montanez who hit the batter before?

  • Buddy

    I would start Castro over Jeter. “The Captain” isn’t much of a hitter these days, and he has almost no range at SS.

  • PackerCubBull

    Glad to see someone agrees with me. Jeter is one of the worst defenders ever. Yeah, he has a high fielding percentage, but that’s because his range is terrible. Not getting to a ball means you can’t make a play. Not making a play means no chance for an error. And the plays he makes that make the highlight reel, they are routine for a SS with better range. In fact, most plays that make web gems are all because of how a fielder is positioned, unless you are reaching into the stands to rob a HR or gunning someone down on the bases.

  • I believe the Cubs were 14 games below .500 going into the Milwaukee series. Four games against one of the hotter teams in baseball followed by three games against the eleven games over .500 Yankees.

    The Cubs went 4-3 over those two series. Given what we know of this season’s Cubs, that is pretty damn good.

    Sure, the Cubs ran out of pitching last night. But the night before the Cubs gave the Yankees a real run.

    Yes, Quade makes some strange decisions. But he is trying to field a team that is simply not complete. There is not enough depth. Heck, there is not enough surface!

    I do think it is time to let Ramirez hit third. He seems to have finally shown up.

  • chet

    Okay so Castro would start…..any more?

    By the way Lizzie, Soto’s approach to hitting this year makes me want to rip my hair out….looks be damned!

    The guy is a double play waiting to happen with runners on base….he has no patience in those situations. He almost never hits the ball behind the runner. He is also constantly hitting over top the ball….he never goes the other way! AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!

  • chet

    Rich I totally agree, Quade is trying to keep an old leaky boat afloat. It seems he is constantly patching a hole with another holes plug.

  • Buddy

    I’d take Soto over Martin. And if money isn’t part of the disucssion, I’d take Soriano over Gardner.

  • Norm

    Castro and Soto for sure would start on the Yanks.

    I’m OK with batting Jeff Baker third against a left hander.
    I’m not OK with Quade pinch hitting with Blake DeWitt instead of Fukudome with men on 2nd and 3rd in the bottom of the 8th. In what world is Blake DeWitt a better hitter than Fukudome?

  • Aaron

    @chet – In general, I’d agree about Soto. Although, to be fair, he drew a walk in the 9th with a man on instead of hacking at the first pitch.

    @Joe – I don’t think you’re crazy. I had the same impression of Wells’ pitching and the same ambivalence about Ramirez’ night.

    @Buddy – I would not take Soriano over Gardner. Gardner is younger, has the speed that Soriano has lost and is a more consistent hitter. Fine, he doesn’t hit home runs the way Soriano does; but he also doesn’t get hurt or screw up playing outfield the way Soriano does, either.

  • Doc Raker

    And to think without a wondrous start from Doug Davis it would have been a sweep, my wonderment is over. On the bright side of things I had dinner with the Cap’n himself over there at Portillo’s, had a big beef, dipped with hot peppers. The Cap’n had his UIC Flames shirt on and he had his daughter decked out in Cubs gear- it was a real Chicago night right here in CA- and the Cubs lost also to make it seem real authentic.

  • Doc Raker

    If Quade wants Campana to steal a base probably better to pitch run him rather than pitch hit him.

  • Buddy

    The at bat that caused me to smash something was when Lou Montanez tried to pull a 1-0 breaking ball that was low and away. Of course, he grounded out weakly.

  • Mark in Toronto

    So I’m back from my trip to Chicago. Fortunately I left before the Yankees series, so at least I got to see some decent baseball games in the Brewers series, although Friday’s game was a nice surprise considering Davis was pitching (too bad I was on a plane for most that game and didn’t get to watch any of it). I totally agree on getting rid of Lopez and Russell, neither is effective and just taking up space, more so Lopez in my opinion as Russell has had a few flashes of decentness at times out of the pen.

  • Kris

    Anyone else wonder how bad things would have to be before Lizzie would be “disgusted” enough to sit Geo? That’s a season I just don’t want to imagine! 🙂

    Have to say that while taking two out of three would have been lovely, it has been nice to see the Cubs actually showing up to play. I don’t expect some miraculous turnaround, but maybe, just maybe, we can have some fun the rest of this season with some decent ballgames.

  • Buddy
  • BuckeyeLakerCub

    I have zero sorrow. Because this is exactly what happened to us with Lee in 2006.

  • BuckeyeLakerCub

    And injuries are part of the game, and the good teams find ways to win with injuries to marquee players.

  • cap’n obvious

    Did anyone else stay tuned long enough to check Soriano’s act on ARod’s deep fly ball. He got close to the wall, pussed out, waited for help from ReedJ, and the ball plopped onto the warning track. He might be the most honest to crap garbage outfielder and player I have ever seen. A poster boy, if you will, for NEVER GUARANTEEING a contract.

  • Norm

    All contract are guaranteed.

  • cap’n obvious

    Norm–look up the term club option and get back to me.

  • Norm

    So how do you NEVER guaranty a contract? Let’s say the Cubs can get Pujols or Fielder, how would that non-guaranteed contract be set up?

  • Katie

    The bullpen has been bad all year. The middle men have lost so many games for us. Samardzija sucks. Lopez sucks. Russell sucks. Wood is on the DL. He’s always on the DL, gosh dangit.
    Concerning Soriano: He sucks. His range in left field is terrible. He only hits home runs if he doesn’t strike out on a breaking ball in the dirt. Gardner is much better defensively, he hustles, he’s fast, and he’s a decent hitter. Soriano can hit when he wants to. But ever since his 40-40 season in Washington, it seems like he doesn’t want to try much of anything. AND he never hustles down to first base. Such a pet peeve. He and Ramirez are so irritating with their lack of hustle down the first base line.
    And if the Cubs signed Pujols, he wouldn’t ever be the same as he has been. His wrist/forearm injury last night is going to be a big test for him. Derrek Lee had a similar injury and he was never the same. Let’s just hope the Cubs don’t sign another bust of a player a la Soriano, Bradley, and Pena.

  • cap’n obvious

    The term is incentives. Again, feel free to take a minute to look into things before calling out others’ posts.

  • Buddy

    If players could hit when they wanted to, they’d never make outs.

  • Norm

    Sorry Cap’n, but contracts are guaranteed. Sure, you can throw on a team option at the end, maybe even two. But good luck trying to do that with an elite free agent without GUARANTEEING at least 6 of those years.
    To say they should NEVER guaranty a contract, is just not realistic.

  • Larry Sproul

    So the Yankees went in to take 2/3 . Something alot of us knew might very well happen . The USS Quade well damaged is about to sink . More crappy defense let the Yankees pile on runs . Putting Baker in right field another mistake . I was done with Quade about 2 weeks ago . Unless things change real quick 2011 is down the tubes .