View From The Bleachers

September 13, 2013

The Last Three Weeks Still Matter…Kinda

Filed under: Featured,General — Michael Jimenez @ 6:41 am

I am finding it increasingly more difficult to watch this team and it’s making it near impossible to write about them. I have a few things in the works for the off-season already that are Cubs related but not necessarily this team related, however, I don’t want to burn those ideas now and then be struggling for writing material when there won’t be bad baseball to discuss. I am sure everyone here is feeling the same lack of inspiration that I am. It’s hard to follow a bad baseball team and recycle the same thoughts day after day after day. With the minor league season coming to an end, there’s even less to talk about.  Yet there’s still meaningful baseball to played for some of the Cubs players and I want to tackle the little things I’ll be watching as the season winds down.

1) Has Starlin turned it around?  Sveum has said recently the past few weeks were the best Starlin has swung the bat all year, but Castro followed that comment up with 3 straight 0-fers. He’s seeing more pitches than ever (usually a good thing) and his defense has went from abysmal to pretty good since the end of June but he’s still hitting in the low .240s (even after a very solid July hitting near .300 for the month).

2) WTF Jeff Samardzija…  You got many people to label you the ace of the staff (myself included) after a dominant start to the season where you ranked top 15 in nearly every major pitching statistic and then you put up a terrible 2nd half which has seen your numbers skyrocket beyond mediocrity? Also what’s with the home/away splits? You’re overall numbers on the road are nothing short of dominant yet you’ve become completely incompetent at home?

3) The roller coaster that is Junior Lake. Up, down, up, down, up… down? Depending on where you set your arbitrary end points you can make any argument you want about Lake this season. Take away those first 7 games, and he’s been below par. Look at only August and he was “meh,” but look at his numbers since Aug 1st and he’s been very good after a very hot start to September. His batting average on balls in play is still not maintainable, but since those first 7 games, it’s at .337 and with his speed that is a reasonable number; yet he’s only hitting .254/.298/.352 in those 34 games.

4) How does Scott Baker perform over these last few starts? We just paid him 5M to rehab this year, so we should have the inside track in resigning him if we want to. We have a vacant rotation spot so Baker’s last couple weeks are very important for evaluating him. Keep an eye on his pitch repertoire and velocity because he was only a 3-pitch pitcher in his first start relying heavily on sinkers and sliders with an average velocity sitting at only 88mph.  When Baker was good, he had a healthy 5 pitch arsenal including a changeup and curveball to go with a low 90s velocity.

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  • Doug S.

    Shark’s struggles at home can almost be said for the team. 17 games under .500 at home and 5 games under on the road.

    Some fun wild card races so I’m still enjoying baseball. More difficult justifying a fairly meaningless Cubs game air time in a sports bar with everything else going on. Needs to be pretty empty or no go.

  • Doc Raker

    The NL Central race is getting exciting. The Pirates aren’t going away and the Cardinals don’t seem to have the Cardinal magic of the LaRussa Pujols days. Did mention I am rooting for the Pirates? The Pirates have our old friend Felix Pie and some serious young talent. After watching the Cubs lose to the Pirates I tuned into the Cardinal Brewer game. The Busch Stadium atmosphere was dead, no pennant race excitement and the Cardinals looked dead. Here is to more Buc shot killing the Cardinals hopes of post season play.

  • Doc Raker

    Interestingly, if the season were to end today 3 teams would make the playoffs from the NL Central. Does that mean the NL Central is better than the NLE and NLW or does that mean Atlanta and Dodgers beat up on their respective divisions more so than any NL Central team? I think the NL Central is a stronger division but doesn’t have the strongest NL team in it. We will see.

  • http://elizababble.com/ Lizzie

    Whenever I think of our old friend Felix I cross my legs. Even with no bits.

  • PLCB3

    There’s still a chance Washington could overtake the Reds for a wild-card spot. I would love to see that happen. Only 5 out in the loss column. And then St. Louis falls into the wild-card spot. The quicker CED arrives, the more enjoyable the playoffs are.

  • Jedi

    Samardzija is NOT dominant on the road. He was NOT dominant in the first half. Fall in love with the saber pitching metrics all you want; but you can’t adjust enough for those vagarious line drives to explain away his decidedly non-dominant ERA & WHIP splits for the road and the first half (the numbers aren’t horri-awful, but they are NOT dominant). He had seven first-half starts where he surrendered 4 ERs or more. He’s been shelled in 2 of his last 3 road starts (same thing happened in 2 of his FIRST 3 road starts).

    The best thing you can say about Samardzija is that he’s all or nothing…sporting a stellar 1.53 ERA in his wins, and an atrocious 6.98 ERA in his losses (and his no-decision numbers are much closer to his performance in losses). Which is basically what most people have said about him all year – there’s a good Jeff, and there’s a bad Jeff…far too often (including in the first half and on the road) the bad Jeff has taken the mound.

    Before long someone’s going to try and argue he’s just been tinkering with his curveball too much and that if we can eliminate the stats from a select number of starts, he’s actually the best pitcher in the league.

    He’s average, it’s time we all accepted it.

  • Mark_from_Toronto

    I will admit to losing some interest in the Cubs games as of late. While watching last night’s game, I was flipping back and forth between it and the Pats/Jets game. In fact I think I watched more of the football game than I did of the Cubs game (that in spite of the fact I’m not a fan of either the Pats or Jets). That said, I am rooting for the Pirates to win the division and hoping Washington will somehow keep winning and knock out either the Cards or the Reds.

  • Seymour Butts

    Can we get Jayson Stark to do a rundown on the tie breaking scenarios for the 4th draft slot?

  • Eddie Von White

    You are being generous.

  • Chuck

    I think he may be better than average. One thing to think about is that he may be a very good closer.

  • Jedi

    Another thing to think about is that the Cubs allegedly could’ve dealt him for a handsome return if they’d traded him to one of those suckers who believed he was an established ace.

  • Chuck

    Wasn’t I one of the people advocating that since he is about the same age as Garza? At some point the Cubs have to stop selling good players and start trying to…
    I don’t know… win games.

  • Jedi

    I agree that we need to try and win – but the Front Office hasn’t made even the slightest movement in that direction yet. They have a perpetual five year plan that seems to reset every November.

    When they took over – their advocates were claiming that 2014 would be the start of a turnaround. I think it’s generally safe to say it’d take a minor miracle for the Cubs to be any type of contender next year.

    So with that understanding, I can’t possibly see how keeping an overvalued asset like Samardzija fits into this long-term plan.

  • PLCB3

    They said 2015. If they are still doing this stuff in 2 years then they achieve clown status like Hendry was

  • Jedi

    Fantasyland. It was time for Hendry to go (just like it was time for Dusty to go); but portraying him as a clown is preposterous. He fielded teams that averaged 80 wins, the best Cubs team since WWII; and as many playoff appearances as all of the Cubs previous 10 GMs combined.

    Moreover, in November 2011, the masses weren’t giving Theo until 2015 before he was accountable to field a viable team. Most were willing to give him two years – and since he only has a 5-year contract, even that’s rather generous. The ‘team’ of guys he’s traded since taking over is probably better than what currently sits on the 25-man roster.

  • Chuck

    Preach!

  • Doc Raker

    Damn it, Pirates lose, Cardinals win. Chuck, do you owe my charity yet?

  • PLCB3

    That was win 63, so yes he owes you. Going into the game last night, I had $19.75 committed to Joe’s Tough Mudder run

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    I’d prefer a detailed analysis of why there is a “Y” in his name.

  • Joe Aiello

    I nominate this for a Lizzie

  • Doc Raker

    Pirates win Cardinals lose, back to a tie in the NL Central. What a contrast in the ballparks, PNC Park is sold out packed, electricity in the air and the announcers and people of Pittsburgh are enjoying the pennant race. Busch Stadium is half full, quite, the Cardinal announcers seem bored ala Len Kasper and the Cardinals themselves are playing like caca. I am enjoying this pennant race. Go Buckos!

  • Doc Raker

    The Cubs finish the season at Wrigley verse the Cardinals, what fun we can help spoil the Cardinals post season. Go Cubs! (after today)

  • Chuck

    Just waiting for you to name a charity of choice.

  • Doc Raker

    Is anyone paying attention to this pennant race other then me? Pirates win and the Cardinals win, still a tie at the top of the NL Cantral.

  • Doc Raker

    The Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy thank you- fsma.org
    It has been good wagering with you.

  • PLCB3

    That would be awesome if we could knock them out that last series. Those are the only 3 games that matter now for us

  • http://swantron.com/ jswanson

    Seymour would have gone with the taller blonde Charity at Cheetah’s in Reno.

  • Doc Raker

    Charity’s mom needs an operation and she is studying for her masters, Seymour is only trying to help her out 1 dollar bill at a time. Very magnanimous of Seymour if you ask the Cheetah ‘students’.

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    The AL Wild Card race is interesting also

  • Seymour Butts

    A girl’s gotta eat.

  • PLCB3

    6 teams fighting for the 2 spots 3.5 games wjthin each other

  • Doc Raker

    Yes, the Royals won’t go away and Cleveland is still in the AL Central race. Love it, I dig watching/listening to the various pennant race games, Lots of excitement. Something devoid at Wrigley right now.

  • Jerry in Wisconsin

    Pennant races good, Wrigley deviod of excitement bad.

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