Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Astros – 06/30/12

Game Seventy-Seven: Cubs (27-49) vs. Astros (32-45)
Game Time – 3:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185/914
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Matt Garza (3-6, 4.06/1.09) vs. J.A. Happ (6-7, 4.83/1.48)

Can the Cubs beat the Astros for the second day in a row? Not only would a win this afternoon guarantee Dale Sveum’s team a winning homestand but it would also mark the second time this season the Cubs have won consecutive series.

Something is going to give today. The Astros own the worst road record in baseball (9-26) and the Cubs are a miserable 4-17 in games started by left handers this season. Dale Sveum is expected to run out his unproductive right-handed lineup this afternoon. Anthony Rizzo will still hit third with Jeff Baker, Reed Johnson and Joe Mather likely in the starting lineup. J.A. Happ has not fared well against righties (.280/.356/.439) or lefties (.275/.305/.357) and considering one of his best starts of the year came against the Cubs in Houston, it might bode well for Sveum to run out his everyday lineup … and see if they fare any better against Happ this time around.

In other newsRandy Wells cleared waivers Friday and was assigned to Triple-A Iowa. Wells is expected to accept the assignment. With Wells off the roster, the Cubs are looking at either Chris Volstad or Casey Coleman to make Tuesday’s start in Atlanta. There had been talk of Chris Rusin being called up prior to Wells’ last outing but right now they do not have an open spot on the 40-man roster. The Cubs big league roster currently stands at 39 … that is until Monday when the signing of Jorge Soler is expected to be announced.

Ian Stewart’s wrist did not respond to the cortisone shot he received. Ian Stewart said (during a not-so-good-Twitter-exchange Friday night) that he does not think he will be back soon. The Cubs could create a roster spot by moving him to the 60-day DL.

This afternoon it all starts with Matt Garza

Matt Garza is coming off his longest start in nearly two months. Garza took the loss last Sunday in Arizona after allowing three runs on five hits with a walk and seven strikeouts in seven-plus innings. Garza threw the ball well but was outpitched by Wade Miley.

After a horrible May (0-2 in four starts with a 6.86 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP), Garza is 1-3 in his last five starts with a 3.77 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP.

Garza likes pitching at Wrigley Field and due to the schedule makers today will be only his third start at home since May 16. Garza is 1-1 in five starts at Wrigley this season with a 2.36 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP.

The last time Garza faced the Houston Astros, they knocked him out of the game after three innings. Garza allowed seven runs on five hits (two, three-run homers) with two walks and two strikeouts.

Matt Garza has never beaten the Astros (0-3 in five starts with a 4.64 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP).

Astros Career Numbers against Matt Garza

  • Jose Altuve – 0-for-5
  • Brian Bogusevic – 1-for-5
  • Jason Castro – 1-for-1 with a home run
  • Matt Downs – 0-for-3
  • Chris Johnson – 2-for-4 with a home run and a walk
  • Carlos Lee – 5-for-15 with two doubles, two home runs and a walk
  • Jed Lowrie – 1-for-8
  • J.D. Martinez – 1-for-5 with a walk
  • Scott Moore – 0-for-3
  • Jordan Schafer – 1-for-4

J.A. Happ is coming off an excellent outing against the Indians (one run on four hits with two walks and five strikeouts in seven innings) and has posted wins in each of his two outings. After just a horrible outing against the Giants in San Francisco (eight runs on 11 hits in 3 1/3 innings), Happ has pitched much better … but both of those outings were at Minute Maid Park.

Happ is a solid 6-4 in 10 home starts this season with a 3.75 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP … but he has not posted a win outside of Houston and is 0-3 in five starts with a 7.36 ERA and a 1.79 WHIP.

J.A. Happ beat the Cubs in Houston back on May 22. Happ held the Cubs to one run on five hits in six innings with two walks and six strikeouts. For his career, Happ is 1-1 against the Cubs with a 6.00 ERA and a 2.07 WHIP … at Wrigley, no record in one start with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.83 WHIP.

Cubs Career Numbers against J.A. Happ

  • Jeff Baker – 4-for-8 with a walk
  • Darwin Barney – 0-for-2
  • Starlin Castro – 2-for-5 with a triple and a walk
  • David DeJesus – 1-for-3
  • Reed Johnson – 0-for-4 with a walk
  • Joe Mather – 1-for-2 with a walk
  • Alfonso Soriano – 2-for-6 with a double, a home run and a walk
  • Geovany Soto – 0-for-1 with two walks

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …

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Quote of the Day

"Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again." – Bob Feller

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  • Neil

    Today’s lineup:

    DeJesus – CF
    Castro – SS
    Rizzo – 1B
    Soriano – LF
    LaHair – RF
    Soto – C
    Barney – 2B
    Valbuena – 3B
    Garza – P

    • Zonk

      A bit of a surprise that there is no Reed Johnson in CF….guess they want to play LaHair vs. LHP

      • paulcatanese

        Zonk, read my reply to Cubs, below. Still getting used to the new format.

  • Cubs

    Finally Dale gets it. This should be the everyday lineup against lefties, you have nothing to lose.

    • paulcatanese

      You might say Theo gets it.
      I go along with LaHair playing against leftys, if he cuts it fine, if he dosent,
      then they know what they have and how to approach his place on the Cubs. But he cannot prove anything at
      all being platooned.
      Above all, my opinion is that the Cubs have gone back to
      “the college of coaches” Theo to Hoyer to Sveum.
      Not knocking it at all, they should have communication between the three of them as this is what was designed from the beginning.
      Hoyer and Sveum were chosen because they believe in what is trying to be done, and that is the way it should be.
      I don’t neccesarily agree with it, but thats what it is, and my input means nothing, except an opinion.

  • Tom U

    Today’s minor league starters:

    Boise – Jose Arias (0-0. 1.38)
    Peoria – Zach Cates (0-0, 1.93)
    Daytona – Kyler Burke (0-0, 5.40)
    Tennessee – Eric Jokisch (3-1, 3.38)
    Iowa – Brooks Raley (4-2, 4.14)


    The past few days have been the first time that I have been able to see Javier Baez and Dustin Geiger since they gave been promoted to Peoria. Here are some impressions:

    Geiger is a big kid who looks like he can add another 40 + pounds to his frame. He has the appearance of a prototypical third baseman, powerful, strong arm, run producer. Had a bad night fielding, but looks like he can handle the position. Has a good approach at the plate.

    Although Baez is listed in the media guide as bigger than Geiger, he appears shorter and squattier than him. All of his weight is in his backside and thighs, and it doesn’t seem like he will grow any bigger. Appears to be slow to react at short, and arm is below what has been advertised, ranking only average. He does have a quick bat, but I’ve seen others just as quick (for example, Dong-Yub Kim has similar bat speed).

    With Tony Zych’s promotion to Tennessee, expect Frank Batista to be moved up to Iowa soon to take over the closer role.

    18th round pick David Bote made a big splash in his debut in Arizona. With him and the surprising offense from Jacob Rogers, you may see some promotions for Tim Saunders, Jeimer Candelario, Gioskar Amaya, and Geiger soon.

    • paulcatanese

      Lost the reply Tom, if it shows up again I will finish it and post.

    • paulcatanese

      Cant find that post Tom, let me just say I agree with you about Baez since first seeing his video, said then not suited for shortstop and had a long swing. As it turned out his swing was or is not the problem, but his ability to play shortstop, and as you and others have said he may very well end up at third or catcher or outfield, but not as a shortstop.
      And on other little point you’re physical description of Baez,
      I would say now we know he dosent swing from his heels,
      but other parts.
      If I remember though, wasn’t Ernie Banks built along the same lines? He learned to channel his power from the obvious places:) Not a knock Tom, but had to chuckle on that one.

      • Tom U

        I understand what you are saying, Paul, but I remember Banks being a little lankier than Baez, longer arms and legs,

  • Neil

    Cubs announced today Chris Volstad will start Tuesday in Atlanta … and Soler’s deal could be made official today.

    • Zonk

      I can’t argue with that; not because Volstad is any good, but because we have nobody else. That’s a little sad.
      I know folks will say Rusin, because they haven’t seen him get shelled yet, but if you compare his peripherals to Volstad, Wells, Coleman etc at AAA, plus what the scouts say, and he’ll get pummelled at this level. Rusin carries a 1.432 WHIP and 5.01 ERA at Iowa, neither of which figure to improve at this level.
      You may as well save the 40-man spot, because it doesn’t matter who takes the ball

  • CubsMVP

    Almost halfway point of the season…time to grade the players, coaches, mgmt.

    Ascencio…..Incomplete…..done the job so far as asked
    Camp………C……not part of the Cubs future
    Coleman….D……will be a good car salesman one day
    Corpas……C+….might have trade value
    Dolis……….C-…..need to step up now
    Garza……A -……will be in the playoffs in October
    Maholm….C +…..every playoff team needs a lefty
    Maine…….D…….time running out
    Marmol…..C – ….set up man for the Yankees?
    Russell…..C ……not great, but will do
    Samardzija…C +…will not be missed if traded
    Wood…….C +……part of the Cubs future
    Dempster…A – …..playoff bound somewhere
    Volstad…….F…….next chance is his last chance

    Clevenger…C+…..nice platoon guy
    Soto……….D ……..last season with the Cubs
    Castillo…..C-……..need to polish his trade
    Baker……..C – ……need new address
    Castro……B +…….need to mature more
    LaHair……B +…….age against him for Cubs plans
    Rizzo……Incomplete….hope to stick around for 20 years
    Valbuena….C…….typical Cubs temporary role players
    Campana….B……..good bench player….. ……
    Dejesus……C…….average player…trade him
    Johnson……C-…..need new address
    Mather…….C……could do more if he played more
    Soriano….B+…..good year….$$$$ holds him here
    Stewart….F……..Colvin should have stayed longer

    Sveum….C……is he holding back?

    Cubs coaches….D……Rudy is gone, but I expect better from the others …..

    Theo & Jed……Incomplete……Stewart trade is a bust…but they did get rid of Zambrano and other bad apples…..cannot blame them for the large payout aspect of ex Cubs….bad overpaid contracts are based on Sam Zell wanting to sell the Cubs……..signing international free agents and the draft did look very promising on Theo & Jed….

    There are two goals for the Cubs……World Championships….and having their own TV network……when the Cubs have their own network, revenue then can be spent on better Free Agents in the future…..

    Overall for the Cubs so far……Grade of a D…..after the trades are made, the future will look bright.

    • Tom U

      A very even and fair assessment, there’s hope yet!

    • calicub

      As sane post? From you? Whaaaat??

      • CubsMVP

        I forgot about Barney…..B- for him….could be trade bait to go in a Soriano or Marmol trade.

    • SuzyS

      Cubs mvp…nice post for a change….intelligent and worthy of debate.

      • CubsMVP

        We can discuss the Cubs over a nice meal……do you like pizza?….my treat.

    • RynoTiger

      Poll question of the day: What do you think of CubsMVP’s posting on mid-season Cubs grades?
      A: Fair and honest
      B: I’m hungry for some lunch and will have my left over Subway sandwich
      C: Anytime you see a posting from Suzy you can’t help but think of “Suzy Q’s” and get hungry
      D: I could use a nap
      Sorry, I had to make this post. It at least made me laugh.
      But seriously, a fair reflection on performance so far. Though I would give Camp a B as without him, the bullpen would have been that much worse.

    • texcubnut

      A good post, CubsMVP. Would like to see more of these. I would miss Samardzija if he were traded but then, I miss Cashner and Marshall too.

      • GaryLeeT

        Speaking of Cashner. I saw that in his last start he took a no hitter into the 7th, struck out 9 (including the side twice), and his fastball touched 99 a few times. I wish him well.

  • paulcatanese

    Agree with you Neil on you’re assessment of the regular lineup, and happy to see that Sveum took you’re advice for todays game. Now Sveum has options that he didin’t have with the platooning of the lineup. It’s better no matter how it turns out.

  • Neil

    Soler is signed sealed and delivered. Will report to Mesa this week for his Spring Training

  • Tom U

    For those who are interested: Iowa, Tennessee, Peoria, and Boise’s games will all be broadcast on today

  • SuzyS

    Bruce Levine commented today “On Talking Baseball” (ESPN radio) that in his opinion, Garza made a nice #3 pitcher.
    In my personal assessment of Garza…I have to agree…He’s not quite an “ace” or a stopper…(at least at this point).
    Garza has not shown himself to be a top of the rotation pitcher…that can carry a team or pitching staff to the promised land.
    We need Garza to have a good outing today. On a better team with better support…(and the motivation that comes from “being in the hunt”), He might improve to a #2 rotation pitcher, but personally, I feel that is his ceiling.
    With that being said, It will be interesting to see what type of talent Garza might bring back.

    On the flip side, as another poster mentioned, we do need someone to take the mound for us.
    Next off season, If we don’t get some arms back in trades…I don’t see any other options for the Cubs but to engage the FA market for pitching…just to field a team in 2013….because there won’t be that many trade chips in the organization in the offseason this upcoming year.

    • Aaron

      Suzy….do you remember what I said about Garza at the time of the trade? I said something VERY similar, and got criticized on here for it from nearly everyone.

      How does that crow taste everyone? LOL….no, but seriously, it sucks…mostly because I was right, and in turn, that means the Cubs lose on his trade value

      • Vivid_Reality

        At the time I would have agreed with you but I think Garza has improved to a solid number 2. Though he isnt showing it today.

      • cubtex

        What do you mean you are right? Bruce Levine is gospel so its true? Garza had the fastest average velocity in the NL last year. He was ranked by as one of the better starters in baseball last year. He was an ALCS MVP. Cliff Lee doesn’t have a win this year because his team sucks. Is Cliff Lee all of a sudden a #3? Put yourself in Garza’s shoes. Look at the team he is pitching for? Look at that lineup? He is a very good #2 and any team would love to have him.

        • SuzyS

          Cubtex, That’s the beauty of being a fan…we all watch the game from our own perspective and our own eyes.
          I thought Garza was a #3 when we traded for him and he really hasn’t done enough to change my mind….He happens to be our #1 this year.
          I’m not saying he’s a bad pitcher…he’s a good pitcher…but to what degree?…What SHOULD the talent return be???

          I guess perception is everything…both from the trading partner’s perspective AND the
          fan’s eyes….It’s all relative.

          Case in point…What would you trade for an alcoholic, underachieving Dennis Eckersley as a starter??? Would you have had the vision to convert him to a closer?
          Some people might have seen him as just an alcoholic….others an inconsistant, aggravating starter with great stuff…and others as an incredible closer….ALL THREE VIEWS WOULD HAVE BEEN CORRECT.

          • cubtex

            Suzy….eyes can be deceiving sometimes to the fans.
            This year Garza has a 1.16 WHIP which ranks him currently at #20. His WHIP is better than many pitchers with more wins than Garza. It is better than Zach Greinke,Lance Lynn to name a few.
            He did not have his good stuff today….that was evident early. He battled and kept his team in the game….good pitchers do that.
            He is pitching on a horrendous team this year. Many times he pitched he had that ridiculous righty platoon lineup with Mather,Baker etc. in the middle of the lineup.
            He gives up less hits per innings pitched and is close to averaging a strikeout per inning pitched. How many number 3 starters can claim to do that?

          • cubtex

            Lets look at 2011 and tell me if this guy is a #3.
            198 IP
            186 Hits
            197 K’s
            3.32 ERA
            There are 16 teams in the NL so let me count my fingers and toes….that means that there are 32 starting pitchers better than Matt Garza in the NL? Name me 32 starting pitchers with betters stuff and numbers than Garza.

  • SuzyS

    Neil/Tom U/Aaron : Besides Almora, The Cubs have 3 other picks in their top 10 that haven’t signed yet….
    2nd round 67th pick Duane Underwood (RHP)
    3rd round 101 pick Ryan McNeil (RHP)
    6th round 194 pick Carl Lang (RHP)

    Any word on what’s going on with them…or are they pulling an Almora?

    • Neil

      Suzy, Ryan McNeil has signed and from the way I understand it, Duane Underwood has as well. Don’t worry about Almora, he will sign.

      • SuzyS

        Thanks Neil

    • Neil

      Sorry, Suzy … Trey Lang has signed as well.

      Here is a link for you …

      Sorry, I missed the third player before.

    • Zonk

      According to Baseball America’s Draft DB, the Cubs are $556,000 under budget right now, plus whatever they saved on Underwood (which hadn’t updated yet). So, the Cubs can use that entire $556K+ to give to Almora and sign over slot.
      That is likely what Boras and the Cubs are talking about…I bet he signs, for about the max the Cubs can give him without penalties. That was Boras’s game all along

      • Zonk

        PS: Meaning they can give Almora $3.8 mil without penalties

        • paulcatanese

          Why Zonk? What makes Almora so special besides Boras? Don’t get it.

  • Denver Mike

    Nice pick in the dirt and throw by Soto to catch Schafer, on a curveball no less!

  • Neil

    Excellent play by Rizzo

  • Neil

    Nice play by Valbuena. Bobbled the ball, still got the DP.

  • Neil

    Garza just doesn’t have it today … another opposing pitcher reaches base. Happ with a single.

  • Neil

    Excellent play by Barney, stumbled, recovered, stepped on seconcd, threw to first to complete the double play.

    Looks like the Cubs could use new spikes …

  • Tony_Hall

    Rizzo…first of many with the Cubs

    • cubtex

      I agree. He got 2 good swings against a lhp. The other guy we had starting the year at 1B can’t.

  • Neil

    Rizzo with a bomb …

  • Neil

    Astros bailed out the Cubs again … bad baserunning. Soriano with a good throw. Okay, might have caught a break on that one.

  • Zonk

    Man on 2nd, nobody out….and DeJesus is bunting? I hate that play.
    Johnson might score, but unless the pitcher is batting I hate giving up outs for a single base

    • cubtex

      A ground ball on the right side of the infield moves the runner over…plus if it gets through you have a chance for a bigger inning. Agreed.

  • Zonk

    Shawn Camp….that was a good series of pitches vs. Lee. He fooled Carlos completely with well-placed sliders.
    I don’t know how he is doing it with his stuff, but he’s been pretty solid this year

  • Neil

    Cubs beat the Astros 3-2 on Saturday afternoon

    Matt Garza: 2R,9H,3BB,1K,5.1IP;
    Anthony Rizzo: 1-for-4,HR,2RBI; Starlin Castro: 1-for-2,RBI,R,2BB; Geovany Soto: 2-for-3,2B,BB

  • Zonk

    First game I have watched in awhile, but Marmol looks like he is controlling his slider ALOT better. And it’s got that nasty break that made him so effective 2008-2010
    Since coming back from DL, he has thrown 10.1 innings, giving up 8 hits, walking “only” 7, and striking out 15. Those are closer to the Marmol numbers of old.

    • cubtex

      It was nice to see Rizzo have 2 decent at bats against a lhp today. The 2nd AB he drove one to the warning track and the 3rd AB he took one deep.
      Check out these awful numbers from 2 of the other lefties in the lineup today. With DeJesus and LaHair both going O-fer…take a look at what they are hitting against LHP.
      DeJesus………. .138 Avg
      LaHair………… .086 Avg

      • Tony_Hall

        Can’t you just compliment Rizzo…

        So which way do you want to see it, the platoon that I thought you didn’t like or DeJesus and Lahair playing against lefties?

        • cubtex

          I am pointing out how bad LaHair and DeJesus are against lhp and I think Rizzo will hit lhp much better. He will be able to balance out the lineup moving forward. I know you like both DeJesus and LaHair but both should be platoon players.

          • Tony_Hall

            Lahair is a platoon player, Dejesus has a shot against lefties, but wouldn’t have a problem platooning them.

            What’s not to like about the new All-Star! I am sure that doesn’t sit well with you, but when you look at the 1B position in the NL, there just isn’t that much anymore…they all jumped ship to the AL.

      • BosephHeyden

        You know as well as I do that neither guy gets constant ABs against lefties. This was LaHair’s first start in, what, twenty games, versus a lefty, and DeJesus has maybe started three or four. The majority of their lefty splits are against LOOGIES, which makes sense since those guys are supposed to be change of pace, low average guys.

        So, basically, I think its a good idea to hold judgement against the Cubs left handed hitters until they have upwards of 100 AB’s against lefties.

  • BosephHeyden

    The Cubs gave the Astros that series earlier, the Astros had their chance to get back in the NL Central, and they blew it. Time to send the Astros out of the NL Central by letting them know why their absence will do nothing to the division.

    • paulcatanese

      t would be best for the Astro’s to finish in last place, or at least behind the Cubs in the Central, wouldn’t look too good for the team going to the American League not to be the last place team.

  • BosephHeyden

    Also, it looks like you can count the Orioles out of the race for Soriano, as they just obtained Jim Thome from the Phillies for minor leaguers Kyle Simon and Gabriel Lino. Both prospects were at different levels of Single A for the O’s, and if that was what they’d have given up for Soriano, I say good riddance.

    • Tony_Hall

      I don’t believe Soriano will go anywhere until the guys that will be free agents after this year, have their fate decided. Carlos Lee is deciding whether he wants to be traded to the Dodgers right now. These guys come with no future strings attached, like Soriano.