Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Nationals – 04/05/12

Game One – Opening Day: Cubs (0-0) vs. Nationals (0-0)
Game Time – 1:20pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185/903
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Ryan Dempster (0-0, -.–/-.–) vs. Stephen Strasburg (0-0, -.–/-.–)

Updated 12:52pm CDTJohn Gaub claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Rays. Cubs selected Blake DeWitt’s contract from Triple-A Iowa and added to 40-man roster. Tony Campana optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Cubs 40-man roster stands at 40 players.

Chicago Cubs Baseball is on the Air! Spring Training is over…It’s Opening Day.

A new era officially begins for the Chicago Cubs today after an off-season full of change in the front office, coaching staff and on field personnel. It is finally time to play a baseball game at Wrigley Field.

Dale Sveum will call the shots for the first time as a big league manager on Opening Day. Sveum ran a very good camp but that was then. Every pitch and every inning counts beginning today and Sveum is now in charge of turning a team around that has played bad baseball for a majority of the last three seasons.

Starlin Castro begins his third big league season this afternoon and for the third time in as many years he will play for a different manager. Dale Sveum saw a lot of progress out of Castro during the spring and the Cubs will ask a lot out of the 22-year old shortstop this season.

Starlin Castro ended the 2011 season with an 11-game hitting streak and he finished his first full season at the Major League level reaching base safely in each of his last 40 games.

Many are picking the Washington Nationals to make the playoffs this season on the strength of their rotation and the young corps of position players. The holdovers from the previous regime will see a lot of familiar faces in the visitor’s dugout throughout the weekend. Several former Cubs made the Nationals Opening Day roster … Mark DeRosa, Tom Gorzelanny, Chad Tracy and Xavier Nady.

The 2012 season all starts with Ryan Dempster

Ryan Dempster is coming off a bad season in which he posted a 10-14 record in 34 starts with a 4.80 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP. Dempster had a horrible April and never recovered.

Dempster has said of late that it is very important to him and his team to begin the season on a positive note. The key to watch in regards to Ryan Dempster is his strikeout to walk ratio. When Dempster maintains a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio he usually puts his team in position to win the game.

Ryan Dempster will take the hill at Wrigley on Opening Day for the second year in a row.

Ryan Dempster is 9-1 in 23 career games, 15 starts, against the Nationals/Expos franchise with a 2.87 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP … last year, Dempster beat the Nationals the only time he faced them and put together one of his better starts of the season (one run, on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts).

Nationals Career Numbers against Ryan Dempster

  • Roger Bernadina – 1-for-6
  • Mark DeRosa – 0-for-3
  • Ian Desmond – 0-for-7 with a walk
  • Danny Espinosa – 1-for-2 with a walk
  • Jesus Flores – 0-for-3
  • Adam LaRoche – 3-for-13 with a home run and two walks
  • Xavier Nady – 5-for-13 with two home runs
  • Wilson Ramos – 1-for-2
  • Chad Tracy – 6-for-10 with three doubles, a home run and a walk
  • Jayson Werth – 2-for-12 with two doubles and two walks
  • Ryan Zimmerman – 6-for-16 with a home run and a walk

The Cubs are not sure if Bryan LaHair will be available this afternoon after missing the last six days with a back injury. There is a 50-50 chance that LaHair will be at first base this afternoon and if not the Cubs have three options to choose from … Joe Mather, Jeff Baker or Blake DeWitt. There is still a possibility that LaHair could be placed on the DL and Tony Campana would take his spot on the active roster.

If LaHair can go, Dale Sveum is expected to run out the following lineup:

  • David DeJesus – RF
  • Darwin Barney – 2B
  • Starlin Castro – SS
  • Bryan LaHair – 1B
  • Alfonso Soriano – LF
  • Ian Stewart – 3B
  • Marlon Byrd – CF
  • Geovany Soto – C
  • Ryan Dempster – P

Stephen Strasburg spent a majority of last season on the DL after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Strasburg made just five starts but was dominant as expected. Strasburg posted a 1-1 record with a 1.50 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP … in 24 innings, Strasburg struck out 24 and walked only two.

Stephen Strasburg is simply the best young pitcher in the game.

Today marks the first time in his brief time in the majors that he will face the Chicago Cubs and only two Cubs on the Opening Day roster has faced the phenom. David DeJesus (2-for-3) and Luis Valbuena (0-for-2) are the lone position players with limited at bats against Stephen Strasburg.

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …

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Quote of the Day

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind." - William James
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  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Today’s lineup:

    DeJesus – RF
    Barney – 2B
    Castro – SS
    Soriano – LF
    Stewart – 3B
    Baker – 1B
    Byrd – CF
    Soto – C
    Dempster – P

    LaHair is out with the back injury. He is hoping to return Saturday, Sunday at the latest.

    Blake DeWitt is expected to be added to the roster before game time … which will require another roster move.

  • Tom U

    Today’s minor league starters:

    Iowa – To be Determined
    Tennessee – Nick Struck
    Daytona – Matt Loosen
    Peoria – Michael Jensen

  • The Maven

    An opening day tradition (repost)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xBxZGQ1dJk 

  • gocubs

    Why is Soto batting 8th?

    • cubtex

      Because DeJesus and Barney are batting 1,2. They are really the only other 8 place options. Who else would you bat there?

  • paulcatanese

    Theo is right, he will be a “symbol,” good or bad of the new era, and  will be praised or hated in the near future. Patience is a virtue Cub fans have used to the breaking point.

  • paulcatanese

    No errors, a few runs scored, a close game, that would be a good start. Win or lose, just a good clean game, hopefully on the W side.

  • paulcatanese

    I like Sveum’s idea of no team meeting before today’s game, he is right, if a player cannot get up for 1st game they would have issues.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    John Gaub claimed on waivers by Tampa Bay. Mateo to DL. Roster at 40. Campana optioned to Iowa, DeWitt added to 40-man and is active.

    • cubtex

      There goes the last player from the DeRosa trade. Stevens,Gaub and Archer. At least they were able to use Archer as a main trade chip to aquire Garza.

      • Aaron

        Not a big loss in my opinion….3 yrs and he is still like Casey Weathers with erratic control.

        On a side note….i believe there is a very good chance the Cubs are no-hit today against Strasburg with their pathetic lineup. In my opinion, there are only 3 guys in that lineup that could catch up to hospital fastball and one of t depends on the health of his hand…Soto…the others? Castro and Barney

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Actually surprised he was claimed, he’s hurt.

        • Aaron

          He has been throwing in minor league games. Teams cannot waive injured players. The only solution is to recall then place on the 60-day like they did with Mateo but they couldn’t with Gaub because he wasn’t technically injured…he wad just behind everyone else due to offseason injury

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            Aaron, from the way I understand it he was pitching but not in games. I should have explained myself better, I will next time.

  • GaryLeeT

    Did I miss it, or is there no season predictions contest this year?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      I decided against doing a predictions contest this year.

      • SuzyS

        Neil, who won last year??? I had the Cubs at 67 wins last year…if I remember correctly.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          No one won last year. Good to hear from you today.

  • brent carmona

    I remember, I think it was the 2009 end of the season against the giants, when we were out of it and the giants were clinging to their playoff lives, baker was facing Wilson, 2-2 count, two outs, man on, bottom of ninth and cubs down one. Baker smashed a bomb for the gw hr off a 98 mph fastball which dashed the giants playoff dreams. Who said baker can’t hit rhp?

    Okay okay I know what the stats are and that was only one ab, but maybe after viewing film they thought baker might suceed against strasburg today. I say he gets at least one hit off him.

    Got pat and Keith on the call, unfortunately I’m broke college student and can’t afford mlbtv, but I know Neil and the cco got me covered!

    Happy opening day all, enjoy the game.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thank you

      • brent carmona

        Neil, do you remember the game I’m referencing? I remember it like yesterday. I kind of have a man crush on baker based off that one at bat haha.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          I do remember it.

  • Dorasaga

    Said these b4, might as well now: Dempster should at least be asked to retire, for the good of the club, while Byrd has no arm. They’ve been worse and worse every year…

    • Dorasaga

       Welcome to the WINDY city, Stephen!

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Dempster, with a lot of help from the wind, got out of that jam.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Castro with a 12-game hitting streak

  • cmschube

    First hit of the year!!

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Wind held Soriano’s fly in …

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    With the infield pop-up single in the first inning,
    Starlin Castro extended his hitting streak to 12 games and has reached base
    safely in last 41 games.
     

    • Zonk

      He can put the bat on the ball….remains to be seen if he can stay at SS.  I hope so.

  • paulcatanese

    Washington no runs so far, but not because they haven’t had the opportunity to do so. Still, a good game.

    • Zonk

      Dempster’s battling.   Strasburg is a tough customer though with the wind blowing in; I feel like we need to get in their bullpen to have a chance

  • Dorasaga

    Two good, aggressive running-s by ol’ Fonzi. I dun mind him called out @later one. Zimmy has always been good this way… It’s start of the season, might as well try on a young catcher-pitcher combo.

    • Dorasaga

       Good eye. Byrd over a hanger (breaker).

    • Zonk

      I don’t either, though I get worried when a manager wants to run more.  Alot of times, running aggressively just makes outs, like in this inning.  Hindsight is 20/20, but different inning if bases loaded, nobody out

    • Ripsnorter1

      But he was trying to steal THIRD BASE.

      He can score from 2nd base on a hit, especially with two outs.And the rule is always “never be the first or last out of an inning.” 

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        What about the second out?

      • John_CC

         There was one out in the inning.  If he makes it, men on the corners with 1 out.  Runs scores on an ground out.  It is a toss-up. It’s a gamble. It’s aggressive baseball on Opening Day! 

  • John_CC

    Soriano almost swipes 3rd!  Wow, there is the aggressive play that we’ve been reading about.  Pat and Keith both thought is was too close to call…

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Marlon Byrd with a two-out RBI single …

  • http://twitter.com/MattWeaverSBN Matt Weaver

    Hey guys. Long time, no see.

    Sans the attempted steal, I like what I’m seeing against Stephen Strasburg. I really need this team to get off to a hot start, keep their heads above water until July, and hopefully make some moves at the deadline.

    It’s good to have baseball back, no matter the roster. Let’s rock.

    Also, Neil:

    Will there be a CCO Radio this year?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Matt, great to hear from you! There were several of the originals I was thinking about this morning and you were one of them.

      I have not talked to Brian about that. There are several things I have to do to the site before I would attempt the radio show again.

      • http://twitter.com/MattWeaverSBN Matt Weaver

        Thanks!

        With the absence of Cubscast, fans are in serious need of quality podcasting. I always enjoyed listening to you, Brian, and Aaron.

        If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to give them a shot. I’m on the road a lot for work and go through tons of audio.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    That was a good play by Soriano … wind cost Zimmerman another homer.

  • John_CC

    Gotta love Adam LaRoche…

    • Vivid_Reality

       Going for the Golden Sombrero!

  • Ripsnorter1

    Dempster is humming!

    • Zonk

      92 pitches though, and it’s early in the season before starters are 100% stretched out.  Time to lift him?

      I guess let’s see if we need a PH in the bottom of the 7th.  At a minimum, I would have a pitcher up in the bullpen.

      Regardless, this will be the last 1/2 inning for Strasburg; he is due to lead-off the 8th.  No doubt a PH

      • Ripsnorter1

        I wish we had a better bullpen….

        Dempster can go 110 pitches. Marmol in the 9th for sure.

        • Zonk

          I feel like we’re playing with fire here.  Last couple fastballs to Espinoza clocked 87 (on the admittedly inaccurate radar, but still)…

          • Ripsnorter1

            Gasoline Alley = Our bullpen.

            Who do you trust down there?

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Reed Johnson takes over for Soriano in the 8th

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Baker let that one get past him?

  • Zonk

    Chad Tracy is still in baseball? 

  • Zonk

    Great outing by Dempster!  Wind helped him, but still…nice job

  • Dorasaga

    Gotta love the standing ovation. I won’t mind Demp all nibbles and balls if he can keep up this kinda performance another 33 more games!

  • Zonk

    Woody!

    Sad thing is the velocity was there (mid-90s FB, 90 mph slider), but not the location.

    Pulling Dempster was the right call; his pitch count was up to 110.  Bullpen has to get the job done.  They didn’t.

  • paulcatanese

    Good gosh, after that performance by Dempster, two out and three walks to tie the game (Wood), give me a break,,, And then took a close play to get out of the inning. Bad. 

    • Ripsnorter1

      And this is why I call Kerry Wood “Mr. Blown Save.” He had 6 of ‘em last year. This is #1 this year.

  • Josh Man

    No help from the ump on those last two Woody walks. I think they both should’ve been strikeouts. Gave Washington a run.

  • brent carmona

    Walk three in a one run game, see what happens.

    Welcome to cubs baseball

  • GaryLeeT

    I would call bringing Wood in the 8th in a 1 run game after only 5 spring innings pitched, is Sveums first questionable move.

    • Zonk

      I can’t fault the decision; who else would we put in, Dolis?  Castillo? 

      Wood just has to get the job done; one out with a runner on first, that should be doable

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Not defending Wood, a real first baseman makes the play on the Desmond ‘single’ and does not let the ball roll past him.

      • GaryLeeT

         Yes, Dolis.

    • Roger

      He is Kerry Wood… No excuse… thats on Kerry, not Svuem

    • Ripsnorter1

      Who do you want in there?
      Shawn Camp?  Not me.
      Russell? Nah…..
      Dolis? 1 MLB inning pitched in his entire career. Too much pressure too soon.Castillo? Now there’s a guy who could walk some people….Marmol? Does he need to pitch more than one inning in the very first game of the year? Nah…That’s it. Only a six man bullpen, not enough skill or experience. 

      • Dorasaga

         I can only hope that either Dolis or Jay be ready to take over the role. As much as I love Senior Nasty, and I hope Marmol is simply exp. a “dead-arm” period early into the season, ‘cuz if his fastball can’t dial up past 92 and slider not breaking down and “slurvy” as it used to, there are NO CLOSERs on this Cubs team. None. Nil.

        • Ripsnorter1

          You are correct…..

    • cubtex

      Realistically….Who are his options? It would be tough to put either Dolis or Castillo in that game on opening day. I would rather see Wood than Camp. He can only use the cards he is dealt

      • GaryLeeT

        The Cubs are team going nowhere. Opening day or not, let’s see who has the cajones on this team. There really isn’t much to lose.

  • Zonk

    There’s a key difference between us and the Nats; bullpen.

    Clippard is a stud, and Storen is excellent. 

    Our guys?  Not so much…….

    • Zonk

      Oops, didn’t realize Storen was on the D/L

  • brent carmona

    I swear, if we can’t get a runner in from third w one out…might as well put last years team in

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs lost 2-1 to Nationals on Opening Day

    Ryan Dempster: 1R, 2H, 3BB, 10K in 7.2IP;
    Carlos Marmol: 1R, 2H, 0BB, 0K, 1IP; Cubs offense: 6 hits, 1-for-3 RISP, 6 LOB ; Marlon Byrd: RBI
     

  • brent carmona

    Neil, can you post a sugarcoated post game wrap up? I feel like puking now gaaaahhhhh

    • MikeT_2008

      Man same here, I kinda just want to lay down and go to bed

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Sorry, can’t.

  • MikeT_2008

    Man my enthusiasm just slammed into a brick wall, swear that was a replay of a 2011 game, man I’m just bummed now

    • Ripsnorter1

      Why bummed out? Jed emptied the bullpen…Marshall would have been helpful today, as would have Cashner. 

      You have to expect this now. Wood is one of the worst; Marmol may have permanent damage to his arm from overuse. 

      This will be how 2012 goes down if Samardzija stays in the rotation and Dolis does not step up.

      It is also going to be shown to be unwise to have a six man pen with Castillo–a very raw talent–taking up a roster spot.

      • cubtex

        Well…Jed was right. They were highly competitive……………today!
        We talked about this yesterday.

        K Wood- 34 on the downside of his career

        S Camp- 36 and coming off a bad year

        L Castillo- never pitched above A ball

        R Dolis- 1 IP of MLB experience.

        Expect alot more of these games to follow! This team is not constructed to win no matter how anyone tries to spin it.

        • Ripsnorter1

          We lost today because….

          1. Soriano’s dumb attempt to steal 3rd.
          2. BULLPEN.
             Marmol may be done as a closer…..
             Wood IS done as a setup or closer….

          • cubtex

            The bullpen is going to kill this team again this year. I feel sorry for every starting pitcher. They probably feel that they need to go 9 every game to get a W.

          • cubtex

            What do you think Garza is thinking before his start tomorrow??? lol   9 or bust

          • Ripsnorter1

            Starters who throw too many pitches pay for it in the next start, and over a long season, it takes a toll.

          • cubtex

            very true

          • Ripsnorter1

            Jed has proved himself to be an inferior GM to Jim Hendry. 

            I didn’t think it was possible….

            Anybody who wants to argue that ought to look at a six man bullpen with Castillo in it…..and a wounded closer.

          • cubtex

            I wanted Castillo on this team(especially this year) They are not going anywhere. We both know that…but to have a 6 man bullpen with 2 young kids and 2 older guys and 1 lefty is suicide! Like I said….I feel sorry for the starting pitchers who have to leave a game with lead.

          • Ripsnorter1

            I want Castillo, too. But we needed Corpas today.

          • SuzyS

             Be fair to Woody, Rip…He has not pitched much in ST to get ready.

            “Might be done” is possibe…”.IS” done is unfair and wrong.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Suzy,

            Notice I said he was done “as a closer” and “as a setup man.” 

            He had 6 blown saves last year. Good for about #3 slot for most in MLB

      • GaryLeeT

         Actually, I did expect the exact result, and the Cubs media campaign of low expectations worked. I am only mildly annoyed that they lost.

      • SuzyS

         Rip, I totally agree.

  • oosh

    Same ol’ sh*t different year.