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Game80: Bullpen and Coaching Trying for Top 5 Pick

Sunday, June 30th, 2013


Player of the Game- Kevin Gregg (.148 WPA)

The Cubs put up some runs today as a team.  The game was played well and a fairly well pitched game from Edwin Jackson. Except for a home run he gave up to Raul Ibanez, Jackson pitched an efficient and strong game today.  Now that is where the Head Coach Dale Sveum and Shawn Camp took things over.

Sveum wanted to stay away from James Russel and Blake Parker today as was addressed half way through the game.  The big deal is that he turned to one of the worst relievers in our pen, save Carlos Marmol who we unceremoniously bounced like a bad check last week.  Here came Camp who pitched a rather efficient seventh inning.  Yet, you know something bad was going to happen and Sveum still let him stay in.

I’m no manager and I know the decisions come fast and hard in the heat of a game.  Yet, when sitting on my couch I get the quezy in my stomach at the beginning of the eighth, you know the million dollar manager should have too.

Its hard watching games like that, even though this one had a good outcome. Why is it a constant battle with this team?  The days that we hit good are the days the bullpen implodes.  It seems that there is a lot of games where things should have worked out and they didn’t.

The Cubs have had 50 quality starts this season.  They are 35-45.  They have missed out on cashing in on 15 QS starts from the starters.  Chance it enough they have blown 16 saves.  Where could this team be if a couple more strong arms were signed for the bullpen?

Oh to muse.


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Game 74: Cubs Were Hot

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Box Score / Highlights

Players of the Game – Anthony Rizzo (.155 WPA) and Ryan Sweeney (.095 WPA)

The Cubs broke the bats out today and put a spanking on the helpless Astros on a hot, windy Chicago day.

Today not only did we see Jeff Samardzija continue his top of the rotation performance, but we also saw an offense click throughout the game.  Many of the Cubs players got in to the hit parade with only Starlin Castro being the only starter to not record a hit.  We saw old father time Alfonso Soriano round the bags for a triple. Of all the performances Ryan Sweeney‘s 3-5 with 6RBI and Anthony Rizzo‘s slump busting 3-3 with 4RBI were the standouts.  It is clear that Rizzo’s haircut is the reason for breaking out of the slump.  Superstitious people will now hope his hair stays short his entire career.

Of note today was Castro’s horrible defense and his inept ability at the plate.  Is it time for him to sit? READ YES!

Better yet is it time for a mysterious injury to pop up and he be sent down for a rehab assignment?  Maybe he needs something to boost his confidence.

I am not sure what the answer is there.  One thing I can tell you is that the Cubs bats looked good today.  Lets hope they continue to stay hot.

What do you think is the solution for Starlin?  Lets hear it!

Follow me on twitter @hclark717.


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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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Game 60 – Edwin Jackson Ain’t Bad

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Boxcore / Highlights

Star of the Game- Cody Ransom (.311 WPA)

Edwin Jackson finally did what he is paid to do.  Pitch.  Eat Innings. Win ball games.

Last time he was on the bump I asked whether he really was that bad.  The answer, after looking at some of the more advanced statistics, was that he wasn’t nearly as bad as his ERA and W-L record would lead you to believe.  Most likely resulting from a bad sequence of events and missing pitches at the wrong time.

He came back today and did his best Jeff Smardzjia (not yesterday, but you get the point) striking out 8 over the course of 7 innings. His performance lowered his ERA almost an entire point down to a still inflated 5.76.  The game today saw Jackson work in and out, up and down, and pitch with good velocity consistently throughout the game. That may have been the most surprising element of the game, his velocity.

Today saw Jackson pitch consistently with his fastball at 94-96 MPH with good life.  So where was that towards the beginning of the season? Was a nagging little injury keeping him back?  Was the prospect of a new city swaying his focus?  We may not know.  What we would like to see is Jackson continue to pitch like he did today.

Oh, Cody Ransom.  I almost forgot him. The San Diego Padres forgot about him after giving him only 11 PA. (Okay he had all of 0 hits)  He has since come over to the Cubs in 22 games and hit for .270 batting average, with ten of his seventeen hits being of the XBH variety. (5 HR)  He also has stuck out at a Brett Jacksonesque 34.8%.  Yet, I think I can safely say that I enjoy his place on this team.  He is playing good defense, has been a pretty clutch batter, and definitely provides a veteran presence on the young squad.

Good on him for being the player of the game today.  He only made a diving stop and pretty play.  And he hit the game winning three run HR in the 8th.

One last thing. Carlos Marmol. See boxscore above. 1-2-3. Strikes. I don’t know.


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The Second Most Important Selection of the Draft

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013


What happens after the first pick is called- The Cubs either have an electric arm with dominating power and great breaking movement or they have an electric arm with great power and dominating breaking movement or they have a power hitting slugger that makes Dan Vogelbach look like a little leaguer. With any of the options the consensus remains among draftniks, barring any incredible off the wall move, the Cubs are poised to take a can’t miss impact talent with their first pick. The only caveat being the recently announced failed drug test of Gray, which I believe is a non-issue for the Cubs organization if they believe he is the top talent available and he is on the board when they pick.

What I am more interested in discussing is the Cubs draft strategy and who they may target with that second pick at number 41.  Last year we saw the Cubs take the best player available approach with their first pick, selecting Albert Almora and then go on a streak of selecting high upside arms.  Do the Cubs take a similar style approach this year?  I would believe based on the state of the organization that they very well will.

Here is why: the Cubs top 25, when looking at various different rankings, has one thing in common.  The pitchers that are found in the Top 25 are injury ridden (Vizcaino, McNutt) high ceiling guys (Blackburn, Pierce), bullpen only type arms (Vizcaino, McNutt, Cabrera,) or long ways away guys (Underwood, Panigua, Maples).  The fielding positions seem to be on a continued pace of success, with the exception of Brett Jackson who is sliding.  The Cubs will likely be looking to add impact talent again to the pitching staff.

The Cubs have a great starting staff this year but have two expiring contracts in Matt Garza and Scott Feldman. Should the Cubs not be able to sign Jeff Samardzjia to an extension then the talent blows out the door quickly.  Let us not even get in to the catastrophe and revolving door of the bullpen that could really use some sure fire young guns, the like of the type that the Atlanta Braves consistently produce.

Who may be there with that number 41 pick?  Well it is going to be a hard pick to guess because with the competitive balance picks come some risk taking and it is hard to predict what teams will do late in the draft, some will reach way up to sign a guy to a cheap contract under slot.  What I can tell you are here is five names that you should look for the Cubs to take a hard look at if available at number 41.

Hunter Green­- LHP Warren East (Bowling Green, KY)

Green has a legitimate chance of being available at 41 because of the bevy of LH high school arms that is available near the top of the draft.  Looking at several different resources, Green is consistently ranked in the top LHP arms available. He stands 6-4, 190 pounds, and imposes in large frame on competition striking out 110 in 51.2 IP.  He has touched 95 MPH and is expected to reach back for a little more as his frame continues to fill out a bit more. He has a good feel for his curveball and changeup with good command.  He played for a week team and although he is projected by Baseball America as the 31st best prospect, he may see a tumble

Aaron BlairRHP Marshall

He is in the same wagon as Gray in that he tested positive for the stimulant adderall in predraft testing.  This may make him slip a bit because he doesn’t carry the same can’t miss pedigree that Gray has.  The one the thing about Blair is that he is another big body pitcher.  He has the frame of a big body work horse and will be a safe pick for the Cubs as a relatively high floor and the potential to be an excelent 3-4 starter.  He throws a low 90’s fastball and high 70’s curve, but his best pitch is his swing and miss mid-80’s changeup that he confidently throws at both lefties and righties.  Consider this the safe pick if he is available and the Cubs are looking for a guy that can go through the system rather quickly.  Overall he gets rave review for his makeup and the positive test shouldn’t blemish him too much.

Bobby Wahl­- RHP Mississippi

Standing 6-3 at 200 lbs, Wahl continues to get good reviews for his arm side running fastball that some have reported tops out at 97 MPH, but generally sits around 93 MPH.  He also offers a slider with plus potential and a wipeout changeup.  The young righty offers repeatable mechanics and again is high floor type pitcher who would be a positive addition to a struggling are of the minor league system.

Crazy Wild Card-

Cord SandbergCF/OF Mantee High School- Florida

Signability concerns may drop him all the way to the Cubs third pick at number 75.  The two sport athlete is committed to play QB at Mississippi State.  He is a physical specimen at 6-3, 215 with great outfield instincts.  Some are concerned that he may move off to a corner position but his bat will play fine there.  The knock on Sandberg is that he is incredibly raw, thing Bubba Starling, and just like Starling he has an incredibly high floor.  The only way I see him dropping this far is if he commands a high price to sign.  Maybe you see the Cubs save some $$$$ at the second pick with the hope he makes a slide.


These may not be the picks but these are guys I think you should have an idea about.  They will definitely go somewhere close around where the Cubs pick in the 2nd round, either a few picks before or right after.  These are educated guesses based off the reading I have been doing and looking at the draft strategy from last year that I believe the Cubs will follow again this year.  If you have any other suggestions of players that you think would make for a good selection with the Cubs second pick throw a name out and some info.  I’d love to hear what others are thinking for this spot.  This will be the second most important pick they make afterall…

follow me on twitter: @hclark717

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