A Little ‘Dis and ‘Dat from the Cubs’ Day Off

The Chicago Cubs spent their second day off of the season in Miami after a rough weekend in St. Louis. Dale Sveum’s team figures to be in the middle of a media explosion Tuesday night at Marlins Park. With Ozzie Guillen returning from his five-game suspension, it figures to be nothing short of a circus for the next few days.

Marlon Byrd and Geovany Soto have been hot topics of conversation over the first ten games of the season. Byrd and Soto are not hitting and are not really making solid contact when they do put the bat on the ball. Byrd has been the subject of trade speculation but the concern is that Byrd has not been the same since he was beaned last May in Boston.

As for Soto, if he cannot start producing Steve Clevenger might push Soto for playing time, especially against right-handed pitching according to ESPN Chicago.

Here’s the update …

Carlos Marmol
Chris Bosio insists that Carlos Marmol is just fine according to a report from ESPN Chicago. Marmol has not given up any hits or runs in his last two outings but neither one was in a save situation. The Cubs would like their pitchers to get early outs and keep the ball on the ground. Bosio explained to ESPN Chicago that a couple of those groundballs snuck through the infield and that is going to happen.

Carlos Zambrano
The players that remain from the previous regime will see a very familiar face in the home dugout for the next three days … Carlos Zambrano.

Zambrano will not face the Cubs during the series but he figures to spend a lot of time catching up with his old teammates according to the Tribune.

Marlon Byrd
The Sun-Times speculated Saturday that the Red Sox might be a taker for Marlon Byrd. Reports out of Boston on both Sunday and Monday insist that the Red Sox are not looking outside of the organization for a replacement for the injured Jacoby Ellsbury.

The Sun-Times thinks Boston could turn to the Cubs for help filling in their vacated spot in centerfield. The Sun-Times said the Cubs are monitoring the situation but Jed Hoyer declined to comment.

News and Notes
According to a report from the Sun-Times, the Cubs “continue to look for ways to acquire pitching, particularly proven, durable relief pitching.” Jed Hoyer acknowledged that they traded out relievers in order to acquire starting pitching depth in the off-season. The Cubs would like to replenish some of the depth they lost throughout the summer.

Javier Baez, Dan Vogelbach, Jeimer Candelario, Gioskar Amaya, Shawon Dunston Jr., Trevor Gretzky and Gerardo Concepcion are among the players participating in Extended Spring Training in Mesa.

Monday marked the 40th Anniversary of Burt Hooton’s no hitter against the Phillies. Hooton’s no-no came in just his fourth career start. The Cubs beat Philly 7-0 in ‘Happy’ Hooton’s first start of the ’72 season.

Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jason-Penrod/700030874 Jason Penrod

    Well, we had Bullpen depth until we traded Marshall… Maybe, just maybe, we wouldn’t have lost some of those heart breakers if Marshall was in there-  That was such a horrible trade.  Makes a division rival way better and makes us way worse.

    • RynoTiger

      but to point to one guy and call it “depth” just doesn’t seem accurate to me.  to me “depth” would be multiple players. if your bullpen hinges on just one player, then you don’t really have a bullpen.

  • Ripsnorter1

    I watched every pitch of Hooton’s No-hitter in 1972. It was exciting.

    • paulcatanese

      That was 40 years ago,Rip, are you older than I am?:)

      • Ripsnorter1

        No. In 1972 I was…..too young to drive. :)

        Was looking at Billy Williams stats today….he often walked more than he fanned. Can you name any players like that today?

        • paulcatanese

          Ballplayers are like automobiles, they don’t make them like they used to:)

        • JimBo_C

          Rip,
          How about this exceptional career stat:

          Joe Dimaggio

          361 HRs
          369 SOs.

          • Roland

            That is truly incredible

          • John_CC

             That is truly exceptional. I’d never seen that. 

            Not to discredit DiMaggio or any of the past greats, but one has to take into account how the game has changed.  Bullpens filled with specialty pitchers and closers did not exist. Pitchers plowed through 9 innings way more often than they did not, no matter how tired they were.

          • Ripsnorter1

            I hadn’t seen that stat, but it raises this one question in my mind: why did he ever quit MLB?

          • Dorasaga

             The amphetamine ran out. (Drug test.) Now that’s second guessing from a Cubs fan who puzzled after why disgusted
            Joe McCarthy to New York.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Tim Lincicum is 0-2, got racked again last night, and has looked just awful in all three starts. Worried about the money, I suppose–esp. since now the Giants agreed to a SIX YEAR DEAL with Madison Baumgartner! First Cain, now Baumgartner…lookin’ like Lincicum may go with the free agent market…where Mr. Barry Zito has already scored a boatload of cash. BTW, Zito’s leading SF starters in wins and ERA: 1.13.  That personal catcher thing is working in SF…..

    Albert Pujols: it says right here that he’ll be off of his feed in 2012 as well. Too much money ruins the mind for baseball. He has 4 doubles this year with zero HRs and is slugging .366. Compare to Darwin Barney (.361) or Geo Soto (.345). And yes, he’s only had 41 official ABs. 

    Cubtex: Adam Dunn was 0-5 with 3Ks and the ChiSox lost in the 10th when Weiters slammed their bullpen. Think about this when you think about Adam Dunn….Dunn has 35 AB, and 16 Ks thus far. That’s almost 1 K for every 2 AB. Hmmmmm. It’s early, but it’s also looking like the verdict may be that Mr. Dunn is done.

    Pirates scored a whopping 1 run tonight. Again. They have the worst offense since the 2011 Padres. Actually the 2011 Mariners, and the 2010 Mariners both finished last in MLB in runs scored. In 2009 they were just 4 runs ahead of the Pirates. The Padres haven’t been the very worst offensive team since 2008, although they have dwelt near the bottom each year (2009-2011).

    • Tony_Hall

      Do you think the SF Giant fans are ripping Lincecum for such a bad start to his season?  I bet you there are a few saying to trade him now while teams still want him.

      • Cory

        I think I remember a limited no trade clause being part of his recent 2 year deal.

      • Ripsnorter1

        I just got this from ESPN Insider….
        Lincicum’s fastball is down 2-3 mph, and his control has deteriorated for the 4th consecutive year.  See these stats:
        2011 Fastball MPH (avg): 92.2
        2012 fastball MPH (avg): 90.3

        2011 Top speed, fastball: 96.6
        2012 top speed, fastball: 93.1

        Fastball strike % by year:2012: 53.7
        2011: 63.2
        2010: 63.9
        2009: 64.1

        Less speed. Less control. Dontrell Willis syndrome.

        • Zonk

          Fangraphs has a very good article on Lincecum.  First line of the article:  “Something is wrong with Tim Lincecum”.  They cite the fastball too, but they also get into the difference b/w the fastball and changeup, which has gone from 9mph to 7mph, which apparently (I didn’t know this), is all the difference between a great changeup and garbage.

          http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/tim-lincecums-early-season-struggles/#more-83137

          • Ripsnorter1

            Thanks for posting that.

        • John_CC

           Dontrelle Willis!?!? Come ON man!

          Yes, his velocity is down, but down two ticks on April 16 vs. an entire season…just another pointless cherry picked stat. 

          Actually, I don’t know what you are getting at at all. 

          All I know is that comparing the Freak to D-Train is pretty silly.

        • Tony_Hall

          Can they compare his first 2 starts last year to his first 2 starts this year? 

          No pitcher is throwing at his highest speed in his first 2 starts of the year, in April.

    • Dorasaga

      What most misunderstood about free agents becoming lesser hitters is that these players are already on their downside, age 30 or older, when they hit the FA market.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Yup.

    • John_CC

      Have you watched Lincecum’s starts or is the box score telling you he has looked awful?  I watched him last night and after the first inning he actually looked really sharp. He threw the slider a lot more and was generally in control. 

      Cain and Bumgarner are studs.  6 years for a 22 year old starter with a 3.12 ERA in his frist 54 big league starts…pffff…I wish the Cubs had a contract that bad!  He will be better than Lincecum and Cain.

      CJ Wilson and Buerhle got 5 and 4 years respectively.  Bumgarner is 22! 

      It says right here: Pujols will be in the AL MVP discussion in September.

  • cubs1967

    most good GMS recognize a weakness in their team in the offseason or ST………..jed saying they are looking for durable relief pitchers in april is disgusting………..

    get your head in the game team theo……….lendy castillo is not a major leaguer and tell sveum to get a different dinner buddy than shawn camp.

    let’s trying losing with dignity………..so far team theo is only enhancing the lovable losers history……….except after 103 yrs of failure….lovable is no longer as much.

  • Ripsnorter1

    The 2nd longest winning streak in NY Yankee history for a starting pitcher: 16  games in a row by Roger Clemens.

    Ivan Nova currently has a 16 game winning streak, too. 

  • Ripsnorter1

    Those of you eager to deal Garza to Detroit for prospects, take notice:

    http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120416/SPORTS0104/204160351/Tigers-minor-league-report-Bats-booming-Florida?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Sports 

    • paulcatanese

      Rip, how about Verlander and two of those blue chippers even up for Garza?:)

      • Ripsnorter1

        Verlander, Cabrarra, Fielder, and 3 prospects for Garza. And the Tigers pay these guys for the next 7 years, too.

  • paulcatanese

    Good post Neil, as you hit on two of the points of interest, Byrd and Soto.
    I as well as others have indicated Byrd has not been the same since he was beaned. And I think it was mentioned that he had been hit there before, so it’s more than once.
    That has to take it’s toll on a person.
    The reports that other teams are interested in him in my opinion are all Media hype, I cannot see another team that would take the chance on him unless it doesent cost them a dime, unfortunate, but thats the nature of injuries and the repercussions.
    Soto, well Soto is Soto. His injurie history is much the same,and not
    if but when, and he will be on the disabled list. In my opinion it would be wise to make a trade here as the two Clevenger and Castillo have shown definite signs that they are capable to handle the catching.
    I would not be so presumtive as to say who or what they could get for them, as thats not my department, or even if they would lose money by either of them being gone.
    All I know is that it’s my opinion as a fan with no control over the results, sometimes it’s frustrating, I can imagine how I would feel if I paid 800 mil.

    • Zonk

      Trading Soto at this point, though would be selling low.  His performance is frustrating, I agree with that.

        I don’t know what to think of Geo at this point.  He is an average defensive catcher; not terrible, but nothing special.  It seems like his throwing has declined, though it was OK in years past, and he has a decent reputation for game calling/pitch blocking.

      Is he a starting ML catcher, and what contenders would be interested?  The Marlins and Dodgers maybe if they remain contenders, but too early to say.

      Castillo looks good at Iowa, but two things concern me there, before we annoint him the starter.  First, he struggles to make contact.  Second, he has a reputation of not calling a very good game, and being a bit of a blockhead behind the plate.  He does throw runners out, but that’s only part of the equation.

      • paulcatanese

        You make valid points,Soto can be deceptive, however what I look at would be clutch hits in situations, and what has stood out for me (right now) is the ability of Clevenger to do just that, even when he comes off the bench(he may have to play more for a better evaluation).
        And thats kind of what I was thinking , to keep playing Byrd and Soto defeats the purpose(in my mind) of going forward in a rebuilding mode.
        I guess I feel how long do the Cubs go with these players to turn themselves around?
        Again I feel Castillo would have to beat out Clevenger,
        and I don’t think he can, just my opinion, then again I like left handed hitters.
        One more little point, am I wrong or did I see Clevenger at first base the other day? That looks interesting.

        • Zonk

          There is a lot of Clevenger love here, and he has performed nicely so far, 6 for 10.  His minor league stats show consistent contact, but not alot of power, and fairly middling defensive stats.  Not sure what is game calling rep is, probably OK.

          Not many baseball people think he is starting material.  Good backup maybe, but not a starter.  He’s not really the long-term answer.

          Still, left-handed hitting catchers that make contact will have long ML careers in a backup role.  See Paul Bako.

      • cubtex

        Did you know that Soto threw out more baserunners last year than any other catcher in baseball? It is pretty early in the year to write him off. He has hit some balls hard. I can think of several from this year. A liner to third….the hard ground ball up the middle that was fielded because of the shift and a liiner to short.

  • Zonk

    There has been conjecture that Byrd isn’t the same after getting beaned in May of last year.  He missed about a month of time, before coming back.

    The month he came back though, July of 2011, he hit .323 for the month over 93 ABs.  In August he hit .250 and September hit .182. A little luck was involved, as his BABIP was .364 in July, and .185 in September.  Obviously, he was not good in September.

    Still, he did hit immediately after the beaning, so I don’t know if that can be cited as the cause of his decline in stats.

    It should also be noted that, besides this year being too small a sample size, Byrd’s BABIP is .083, which is insanely low for someone with good footspeed.  He is making contact, just right at people.  His career BABIP is .322, and he was .316 last year.  This is why we should keep putting him out there; luck will change, he’ll get hits, though I don’t think he’ll do much more than last year.

    • paulcatanese

      Zonk, while what you say if true, I didn’t care for Byrd in center field before he was hurt. True he demonstrates good hustle, may be a great clubhouse guy, and I like him personally, but not as the Cubs center fielder, just doesent fir the mold for me.
      Then again those are not my decisions, I just watch.

      • Zonk

        Byrd doesnt’ have great speed or a strong arm, but has a reputation for taking very good routes and positiong himself well. UZR says he’s pretty solid out there, for what it’s worth, and his range factor last year was about league average in CF.  Byrd has committed 29 career errors over 11 seasons, so he obviously catches the ball and throws accurately, if not strong.

        I think GMs consider him OK defensively in CF.  How much we get for him will be based entirely on what he hits

        • cc002600

           As i mentioned the other day, you won’t get a bag of balls for him.

          Why would anyone give up anything of value for an aging OF that has no power, no speed, average defensively, swings at everything and is making $6.5M  ?  

          You have to help me with that logic.  His value is ZILCH. NADA. NOTHING.

          In fact, you won’t be able to give him away.

          It’s very similar to Fukudome last year.   Remember what we got for him ? Yea, me neither. Plus, we had to pay 95% of his salary.

          • cubtex

            Abner Abreu :)

  • Zonk

    Like everyone else, I like Brett Jackson, but I am following one stat closely on him:  Strikeouts.

    At the moment, he is 2nd in the PCL with 18, in 56 ABs, 2nd to Chris Carter, a former top-100 prospect who has failed to establish himself in the majors due to lack of ability to make contact.  Let’s hope B-Jax does not share his fate.

    Over a full season, 18 Ks in 56 ABs is about 160 Ks.  It’s a bit early so we should give it time (small sample size), but B-Jax cannot be successful in the majors with that K-rate against AAA pitching.

    I think this, and not just the Super-2, is why he needs to stay down there for awhile, and is not quite ready for majors 

    • paulcatanese

      Totaly agree Zonk, when push comes to shove, I’m not so sure he will make it anyway, not enough contact or walks.

      • gary3411

        Not enough walks? One of the best walkers in the minor leagues.

        • paulcatanese

          OK Gary, I take you’re word for that,as I don’t really follow the stats for the minors. My bad.

    • Anthony

      Jackson had a high strikeout rate in college and has a high strikeout rate at every professional level.

      Now, one can argue that can be improved upon, but, it is probably who he is, always will be because simply stated, he is the type hitter than cannot physically change that aspect, be it vision, twitch, one plane, whatever it is, if it hasn’t changed in 6-7 years, it won’t change, ever.

      All hitters have hot zones, all pitchers have scouting reports to stay away from these hot zones. A grinder will find a way to use the entire field to minimize the negatives.

      We had this conversation all winter long.

      The system once had a hitter who was on the verge of utilizing this hitting ability, was cast aside by Theo.

      How bout that Daytona outfield. A football guy, an old Cuban, and a demoted AA guy who is proving he has the same hole in the bat he always had.

      being a good hitter with all the aspects one desires requires change, adjustments, tinkering, experimenting, and building a foundation for a consistently good swing.

      I would like anyone to go back and follow the trek of the Player that Theo opted to the trash bin for no apparent baseball reason.

      Go back to high school and the dominant numbers, the national recognition and successes. Go to 2008 and the player one of the top freshman nationally as recognized by Baseball America/Rivals/Louisville Slugger.

      What the player did as a youngster in D1 was what was expected of him. My contacts didn’t mention the term sophomore slump in 2009, but they mentioned playing thru injuries and the demand from his college coaches to attempt to become a more complete hitter versus a slugger. The results were awful for a player this level and it appeared his power was robbed by these changes.

      It carried to the Cape Cod league that summer but in the 2nd half, the adjustments were made and everything started coming back together and the player was integral to bourne winning the Title in 2009.

      The adjustments started working evidenced by tremendous numbers junior year 2010 and basically a 1:1 K/BB, and that carried into summer at the NECBL with an all-star nod and winning their HR Derby.

      D1 changed to BBCOR, and many hitters suffered from the change of bats, but the Player improved even further at the plate ending up the all-time conference leader in total,bases and runs scored. That is the sign of a hitter who can produce runs ny getting on base as well as driving them in with extra-base hits.

      The 2011 initial struggles with the Cubs are documented as the player was making wood bat adjustments, and as August rolled around, the success started, and this trek is documented in an interview with the PJ newspaper.

      Insiders kept me in the loop about the next phase, employing power to the polished swing. this whole thing was an evolution cut short by braniac Epstein and his methods. The player did arrive at 215 plus of muscle, and has been mentioned several times, impressed everyone in Mesa ST.

      The package was ready. A complete and polished hitter ready to perform like the once nationally ranked top player he was.

      Jackson will run into a few balls in his career, and will also miss many. The player who got dissed will need the help of everyone to get that chance once again, if ever.

      In professional baseball, more players capable are on the outside looking in than actually playing.

      • cubtex

        Give it a rest man!

        • Ryan

          Exactly Cubtex. The CCO is too good of a site for trolls like this who have a daily routine of nailing home a dead point and making nothing but negative comments.  There is a reason Jackson is on EVERYONES top prospect list and “The Player” wasn’t. Plain and simple.

      • gary3411

        He must have forgotten for 200+ AB’s he was using a wooden bat and forgot to make an adjustment there. It cost him.

      • John_CC

         The first 3 paragraphs were a great start to what could have been an informative post.  Then….plop…

        I was really hoping to read some more in depth analysis and scouting of Jackson’s production in spite of his K rate. 

        O well…

    • cubtex

      What I saw from last nights game is that Jackson seems to take quite a few pitches. Maybe Tom or someone else who sees him alot can expand on this. He got caught looking on his first K…..and actually took another very close pitch before that. He ripped one his next at bat and would have been a single for a slower player but he never hesitated and took 2nd easily. His K rate is high no doubt but you can see the talent with this kid.

      • gary3411

         Main reason his K rate is so high. He takes pitches! And gets on base! And verrry often is in 2 strike counts. It’s not because he swings and misses at every pitch.

        The guy’s got power, speed, he gets on base, and plays a very good outfield. Who cares how many times he strikes out.

        I’d rather have a player take a borderline pitch hoping it’s called a ball if he knows all he can do with it is ground weakly to the other side of the field, or he knows the pitch came in on him too weakly and he is going to get jammed badly. Take it! Even with 2 strikes. My feeling is that this is what Jackson does, and I think it’s what many of the great walkers do. Yes, it can result in a slightly lower battting average, but will end up in a higher on-base percentage, which has been proved to be much more important to scoring runs.

        There are times and situations to be aggresive (with men on base and first base is open late in game), otherwise looking for a walk is a good thing at this level. Obviously you don’t teach youngsters the same philosophy.

        • paulcatanese

          Again, I bow to you and Cubtex.

      • cc002600

         How did Castillo and Vitters look to you ?

        • cubtex

          Vitters looked very good the first 2 at bats against Martin Perez but got blown away by a righthander who they put in to face him(Green) Castillo threw a bullet to nail a baserunner. Castillo seems like a free swinger. Swung at a couple of bad pitches. Castillo is also shorter than the 5’10 that he is listed at. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is really 5’8.

          • cc002600

            I assume Vitters was playing 3B…
            How did he look in field ?

            Interesting about Castillo….I think his time is getting close.  I hope they find  a way to trade Soto.

          • cubtex

            Vitters DH’d and Rizzo was given a day off. Too bad because I would have liked to see him. Valbuena looks like he could be a decent utility guy. Outfield was Sappelt in RF Jackson CF and Campana LF. E Gonzales 1B Cardenas 2B Valbuena SS and Amezaga 3B with Castillo catching

          • Dorasaga

            Thanks for asking, and thanks cubtex for sharing your in-person observation.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        I do not have the stats in front of me of how many pitches per at bat that Brett Jackson averages. Jackson might have a high strikeout rate but of all his at bats that I’ve either seen or heard I can remember very few that were three and done. Jackson seems to work the count pretty good, at least in the games I have either seen or heard. It is easy to read a box score and see two strikeouts but like the other night he ran the count to 3-2 both times (one of the at bats was down 0-2) and had to have seen more than 15 pitches in those two at bats combined.

        • cubtex

          That’s the feeling I got from watching him last night as well. Doesn’t seem to swing at bad pitches. Very patient hitter.

        • gary3411

           Exactly!

    • GaryLeeT

       Some pretty good hitters had high strikeout rates. Reggie Jackson, Willie Stargell, and Jim Thome come to mind.

  • paulcatanese

    I hope someone expands on what the Mayor of Chicago proposes
    for the neighborhood regarding changes to Wrigley and the surrounding area. (more Bostonian?) whats that?

    • cubs1967

      the suntimes has had articles on this…….read them for better info.
      in a nutshell:

      relax the landmark status to allow for more signage inside the park.
      allow for street fairs outside the park effectively making clark-addison-waveland-sheffield shut off from cars during games.
      setting up “arches” around the park welcoming fans to the wrigley experience.
      allowing a portion of the amusement tax to go back to the cubs…………with minimums set to ensure the city does not lose out when those taxed funds need to increase.

      nite games not yet discusssed……..it has to allowed to go to at least 50.

      the proposed number was upwards of 150M this would create…….i.e. ricketts pays for the repairs; he’ll get his money back over time.

      the landmark status is the key element allowing for more outfield signage and a jumbotron; but not replacing the Scoreboard.

      the wrigleyville alderman, tom tunney has concerns, but he needs to go away………time he learn the straw that stirs the drink is wrigley field in that neighborhood; if they left; so would a majority of the rooptops w/o bars below and at least 25% of those restaurants/bars NOT to mention all the cash parking lots where the citizens of chicago avoid taxes, but spend the monies somewhere.

      here’s hoping rahm gets this done………as much as the ricketts frustrate me; i don’t worry about them trashing the joint so all the “leave wrigley as is” worrywarts need to go away………..let’s be real here.

      • paulcatanese

        Thank you for the feedback, should be some interesting times ahead.