Archive for June, 2013

Recapping The Random – 06/19/2013

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Imagine if football teams had closers.

Basically, imagine Jay Cutler went three quarters and the closing QB came in to seal the victory in the fourth.  What if the closing quarterback came in up two touchdowns and then proceeded to throw 3 interceptions and fumble the ball.  The other team capitalizes , scores on the turnovers, and the Bears go on to lose a game they had well in hand.  What kind of quote do you think you would get from Lance Briggs in the post game press conference?  You think any of Jay Cutlers jerk face expressions would be caught on camera throughout the course of the final quarter of agony?  

Now imagine it happens time and time again.  This is the 2013 Cubs and that fourth quarter closer…. the Cubs bullpen.  Marmol leads the charge in heartbreak but he isn’t the only one.  When Gregg or Russell are unavailable there is nobody to put in that is more or less effective.  The real problem starts at the levels south of the big league club.  There isn’t a pitcher available in AAA or AA that is ready to take the ball.  There is no stud fireballer.

The bullpen’s consistency bounces from Kevin Gregg to maybe Russell and back to Gregg again.  Everybody else has the potential to go Three Mile Island at any point in time.  You can’t just roll Gregg and Russell out every day, eventually their arms will turn to Swiss cheese.

Don’t point the finger at Dale Sveum.  Who’s he gonna put in? He can’t go pull Lee Smith out of the ivy…or can he?  Plus, everybody knows there is a secret directive from up top to pitch Marmol back into a passable form so he can be traded to the first sucker that needs relief help at the deadline.  If I am Theo or Jed then I am doing the same thing.  Relief pitching is at a premium.  For crying out loud, the Tigers were forced to go dig up Jose Valverde!  If there was a reliever available don’t you think they would have found him?

If Carlos can look effective for just one month, the Cubs could get a prospect back for him.  It won’t be great, but at least it will be something.  So the rest of this Cubs team and it’s fan base just need to suck it up and realize this is still experimental mode.  Maybe we should all just look at this as one long spring training…that lasts until 2014.





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Game 69: Samardzija Superb In STL

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Box Score / Highlights

Star of the Game – Jeff Samardzija – .214 (WPA)

Jeff Samardzija
We’re starting with symmetry again for this game. Last time out Samardzija had a lackluster start. On Tuesday in St. Louis, the Cubs spotted him 4 runs before he took the mound. He did (almost) everything else and eventually those runs proved to be enough. Tonight Samardzija was throwing strikes early and often. Only six strikeouts on the night, he benefited from a host of called strikes and four double plays; the last of which came after he had exited but sealed the victory in the ninth.

Dale Sveum
We got an inside look at Sveum’s thoughts late on Tuesday. What I’d like to know is why he stubbornly manages this team as if they were just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill baseball team. One of the great dangers for the 2013 Cubs is the bullpen. Dale, understandably, has no idea who is going to perform well and who isn’t on any given night. Case in point, Kevin Gregg just pitched in 4 straight games last week, performing well in each of them. After a couple of days off, tonight his scoreline looks fantastic – his performance was anything but…and I don’t entirely put that on him. Look down there – this bunch is mediocre (and that’s being charitable). Stop treating them like an average bullpen – DO NOT FORCE THEM TO MOP UP UNNECESSARILY AFTER A STARTER! Yes, Samardzija was great tonight. But he’d thrown 103 pitches through eight innings. It seemed an obvious situation to let the closer start the 9th with a clean slate. Yes, that requires that Dale has to sit Samardzija almost certainly against his will. But that’s what Dale is paid to do…raising the degree of difficulty unnecessarily is not helping the bullpen. Frankly, Gregg was lucky to get the twin-killing that ended the game, he looked shaky and Freese (the hitter) was the winning run. Moreover, what starter on this team has ‘earned’ the right to beg successfully for another inning? None of these guys is a Hall of Famer, none are even All-Stars…if Dale can’t look any of the current starters in the face and tell them to take a seat what good is he going to be when (if) this team ever gets a star who HAS earned the right to put themselves back into the game (it happened at least one other time earlier this year with Feldman).

Someone had suggested that perhaps Marmol’s let down against the Mets had given this team a hangover – if it has, Dale has utter disregard for it. Letting Samardzija start the ninth is exactly the kind of crap that sets your team up to fail. Quade used to put his everyday players (either in the field, or in the lineup) in curious positions where they weren’t most able to succeed. Dale has created a habit of using his pitchers in a way that is unfavorable to them. Yes, they’ve still sucked – but he could do more to set them up NOT to suck. Whether it’s Edwin Jackson – who despite being nearly a full run better during night games for his career, can’t buy a night start anymore; or games like tonight, where with an obvious setup to the closer, Dale lets Samardzija create a mess to be cleaned up. Tonight the Cubs were lucky in the 9th, the next time it might not go so favorably.

I don’t want to end it on that – it was a really great game from Samardzija. When the Cubs tagged Wainwright for 4 runs in the first I was pretty sure we’d roll over on offense for the remainder of the night. What I was less sure about was which Jeff Samardzija was going to appear on the mound. He’s been a rollercoaster ride this year. Cynically, I thought Samardzija’s night hinged on the result of the bottom of the 1st – either he shut them down and used that to catapult him to success; or he gave back a couple right away and spent the rest of his night fending off scrappy rallies every other inning. What I loved is how he stayed down in the zone with runners on base, it’s a big part of why managed to throw so few pitches – the double plays were huge for him. Great win for the Cubs, very nice to see the good Jeff Samardzija on the mound.

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The Diary of Dale Sveum

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013


Dear Diary,

Well, I got myself kicked out of another game tonight. The umps handed a run to the Cards in the 7th, even though Yadi Molina was out by a mile. What kind of man accepts “Yadi” as a nickname? And how lazy does a fan base need to be to settle on that for their All Star catcher? Seriously, he’s the face of their franchise–they can’t do any better than that? And why does no one seem to care that he’s got musical notes tattooed on his neck? It might as well be one of those My Little Ponies. I’ll bet he’s one of those Bronies, just like Dempster. I hate coming to St. Louis. It’s just denim shorts and missing teeth as far as the eye can see.

There should be a height requirement for umpires. My neck is killing me from arguing with D.J. Reyburn. The guy’s a midget in twelve states. It’s amazing he can even get his tiny, Oompa Loompa hands around a baseball. I’ll have to pay more attention next time and see if he has to use both hands. Mental note: next time bring out something for him to stand on so I don’t have to swear at the top of his tiny hat.

I did manage to make it into the clubhouse in time to catch a little bit of the Tigers game. I miss Prince. I miss the way he got us all to lie about him being a vegetarian–for crying out loud, his batting gloves were made out of bacon! I miss the way he sloshed around the bases, and the way everyone had to pretend he didn’t look like he was about to die. Sure he’s a fat slob, but he was our fat slob. It would be weird to call him in the middle of the season, wouldn’t it? I’d give anything to hear his exhausted voice again; the way he pants uncontrollably because he had to get up to answer the phone. Mental note: maybe we can get Marmol to tell people he’s got epilepsy or palsy or something that could be an excuse for how much he sucks.

I still don’t miss Braun.

Alright, I gotta hit the sack. Tomorrow’s game isn’t going to mismanage itself. LOL!

But seriously, it’s getting harder and harder to drag myself to the stadium every day. Theo and Jed keep saying they’re not holding these losses against me. But then why is Mike Scioscia’s phone number always on Theo’s desk? And why doesn’t he even try to hide it? There’s no way the Angels would make him their fall guy, right? Right?

I’m so alone.

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Game 68- *Adult Language Removed*

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Boxscore / Lowlights

 Player of the Game– Shelby Miller (.268 WPA)

After a two hour delay last night the Cubs stepped on to the field, listless and seemingly ready for a whipping.  From the first pitch the Cubs appeared sluggish and unwanting of the opportunity to play.  I can say that I understand that because after an hour and a half I was hoping they would finally call the game too.  The only player that came with much of any fire was Travis Wood.

Wood went 7 innings giving up four runs on seven hits.  He looked dominant early on but appeared to fade in to the late hours of the night.  It has to be hard on a pitcher to prepare for a game and go through their routine and then sit around for another two hours before the actual game gets started.  I could excuse his four run performance, that in total still left his team a chance to stay in the game, but the whole rain delay thing didn’t seem to affect the young Shelby Miller.

Miller dominated the Cubs lineup. Plain and simple.  Then the bullpen dominated the Cubs lineup.  Again, plain and simple.  That is until Darwin Barney got a hold of one and put two runs up late.  I think this is the Cubs move; make it look interesting late when everyone has already turned the game off.

I cursed at the laptop screen several times last night as I watched the game on MLB.Tv.  My wife finally woke up and told me to be quiet.  We are in the eastern time zone so it became a rather late game.

The whole time I watched this game I couldn’t help but think, “wow these guys look like they could care less!”

I don’t think that is a true statement of how the team feels.  Yet, when watching recent games the magic and fire of only a few short weeks ago seems to have been tamped out pretty quickly.  That will happen when you have your aging veteran clubhouse leader turning on your less than dominant  used-to-be emergency closer.  The well has been poisoned.

Dale? Jed?  Theo?  Tom?  Somebody?  Pep talk please.  The open talk about trading current roster members can’t be helping.  I understand the want to be transparent with the fan base, but stop.  Pick up the fragile egos of the millionaires that are payed to play ball and get the best performance out of them.  In reality, if you don’t, all the trade talk is just conjecture and you’ve disappointed your players, yourself, the organization, and the fans who are hoping for a couple cornerstone prospects at the deadline.

The only problem.  The Cubs already looked like they have passed a dead line.  Some have hung up the DNR (Do Not Resuscitate)  flags, others their SOS flags.

I’m tired of seeing the “L” flag.

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The Father’s Day Weekend Hangover

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Let’t start by wishing all the applicable men out there a happy Father’s Day. I had meant to recap both Saturday and Sunday’s game, but sometimes, when you have kids, things get busier than you had planned. Such was the case with my weekend. Saturday I had a very important meeting during the day and then we went out as a family for a Father’s Day meal. Sunday I played golf, followed by 50 minutes of insanity workout. Before I knew it, the day was done and my body felt like it had been hit by a train. As a result, no recaps for you. Instead, I’d like to get some discussion going on a topic that has been on my mind lately.

Who is the Cub’s All Star Rep? – Based on where we are in the standings, it’s pretty hard to fathom having more than one representative in the All Star game, which lends itself nicely to the conversation on who the rep would be. Looking at the roster, you could make the case for four guys who have a shot.

  • James Russell
  • Kevin Gregg
  • Travis Wood
  • Scott Feldman

Raise your hand if you foresaw any of those names as potential all stars before the season started. If you just raised your hand, you’re a total liar. The fact is that the players who should be on that list (Rizzo, Castro, Samardzija, etc) are not. Take that as encouragement that this team is capable of more or as discouragement that perhaps some of the guys we’re counting on may not have as high of a cieling as we had hoped. Either way, who should the rep be, and why?

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