Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Astros – 08/15/12

Game One Hundred Sixteen: Cubs (45-70) vs. Astros (39-79)
Game Time – 1:20pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187/914
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Justin Germano (1-2, 4.26/1.22) vs. Bud Norris (5-9, 4.93/1.41)

The Cubs’ seven-game homestand comes to an end this afternoon with the series finale against the Astros. The Cubs are 2-4 in the first six but still have a chance to win a series with a victory this afternoon.

The pitching staff has done their job, for the most part, but the offense has been hit or miss since the trade deadline. In the two wins on the homestand, the Cubs have scored 12 runs but only 11 runs in the four losses … and eight of those were scored in Friday’s adventure with the Reds.

The Cubs enter play today 2-12 in their last 14 games.

Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson should be in the starting lineup again this afternoon. Right handers (.255/.309/.409) and lefties (.262/.359/.337) hit about the same against Bud Norris which should keep both of the Cubs’ rookies in the lineup. Steve Clevenger should be behind the plate with a day game following a night game, plus Clevenger took Norris deep the last time Norris started a game at Wrigley.

In other newsDarwin Barney ran his errorless games streak to 101 games and is 12 shy of David Eckstein’s single-season NL record for second basemen. Eckstein went 113 straight without being charged with an error in 2010.

Albert Almora received a promotion Tuesday and is expected to make his Boise Hawks’ debut today.

The Cubs all but admitted Matt Garza will not pitch again this season. During an interview on WGN Radio, Dale Sveum said it is possible that Garza could pitch against this year but he would be surprised if he does. Garza is on the 15-day DL with a stress reaction in his right elbow, the same injury that has sidelined Blake Parker since June 6. Parker is currently on a rehab assignment with the Iowa Cubs.

This afternoon all starts with Justin Germano

Justin Germano started the wind game last Friday against the Reds and once again he pitched better than his final line indicates. The Cubs’ defense, along with the conditions at the old ballyard, was horrible and prolonged innings for a very good Reds’ offense. Germano was tagged for six runs, four earned, on seven hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Germano has kept his new team in each of his three starts and is 1-1 in three games, two starts, at Wrigley this year with a 3.31 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP.

Justin Germano will face the Astros for the first time this season and has not beaten Houston in two tries in his career (0-2 with a 12.54 and a 2.14 WHIP). Last time Germano faced Houston was on April 21, 2008. Germano lasted just 3 1/3 innings and allowed 10 runs, all earned, on 10 hits with three walks and a strikeout in 3 1/3 innings.

Chris Snyder (2-for-5 with a walk) is the only player on the Astros’ active roster that has faced Justin Germano.

Bud Norris has not won a game since he beat the Cubs on May 21 and not only is Norris winless in his last 12 starts but the Astros are just 1-11 in those games. Norris has kept his team in just about every game. Eight of Norris’ last 12 outings have been quality starts.

Norris allowed three runs, two earned, on eight hits over seven innings in his last start. Norris did not walk a batter and struck out seven in Houston’s 4-3 victory over the Brewers.

Bud Norris has really struggled outside of Houston (2-8 in 13 starts with a 7.08 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP) and will face the Cubs for the third time this season.

Norris has both dominated and struggled against the Cubs this year. Norris pitched seven innings of shutout ball against the Cubs in Houston back on May 21. The Cubs managed just five hits and three walks while Norris struck out eight … then lost to the Cubs at Wrigley on June 29. The Cubs scored four runs on seven hits in six innings and three different players hit home runs. Luis Valbuena, Steve Clevenger and Alfonso Soriano took Norris deep in the Cubs 4-0 win.

Bud Norris is 3-3 in seven career appearances, six starts, against the Cubs with a 2.52 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP … at Wrigley Field, 0-2 in three games, two starts with a 3.52 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP.

Cubs Career Numbers against Bud Norris

  • Darwin Barney – 1-for-11
  • Adrian Cardenas – 1-for-3 with a double
  • Welington Castillo – 1-for-3 with a double
  • Starlin Castro – 3-for-14
  • Steve Clevenger – 1-for-3 with a home run
  • David DeJesus – 2-for-6 with a walk
  • Bryan LaHair – 2-for-6
  • Anthony Rizzo – 0-for-2 with a walk
  • Alfonso Soriano – 5-for-13 with a double, two home runs and two walks
  • Luis Valbuena – 1-for-2 with a home run

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

    From Bruce Miles: Source: Oneri Fleita out as Cubs front office continues changing. More later on Daily Herald site. Fleita led player development

    Miles is only one reporting this news right now.

    • Neil

      Comcast SportsNet has confirmed Miles’ report. Will continue to update.

      Oneri Fleita is out as VP of Player Development. Fleita signed a contract extension last year that raised a lot of questions at the time.

      • Neil

        Reports are surfacing Flieta was fired.

      • cubtex

        Yea. They just gave him a 4 year extension late last year.

  • Cloycub13

    RE: Fleita and Wilken, These are really not surprises. The fact that they held on to them this long is the surprise. And I am starting to agree with Cubtex in that Castro may be traded. Look at what they did in Boston trading Hanley Ramirez when he was a kid. Worked out OK then I would say. Things are nothing but boring on the Northside, awful baseball at times, but anything but boring.

    • Aaron

      I was going to post that yesterday….by forcing him to take pitches they’ve not only ruined his confidence and effectiveness, but also the lne thing that made him effective…the quick striling potential hitting the first pitch.
      Since Fleita was close to him i would not be surprised if he disagreed with their handling of him and that’s why he was let go
      let’s also not forget they have Baez, Saunders, Lake, and others that can play SS…they need pitching and Garza won’t be dealt at this point with injury…so….Castro appears the odd man out

      • cubtex

        agreed. Imagine what it would have done to Vlad Guerrero if he had been told to take pitches?

      • cc002600

        Lake ?
        I’ve heard people say he is the worst infielder in the system.

      • Cloycub13

        Just imagine the haul they could get for him. Do not get me wrong I like Castro. I do not want to run him out of town so early. But SS is not the biggest position of need on this team, We all know what that is, Pitching Pitching and more Pitching. It would not surprise me to see Jackson and Castro dealt in the offseason.
        I was very leery about Barney as the everyday 2B but he has done everything one could ask of him.
        1B is set with Rizzo
        2B is alright with Barney
        SS becomes a ? but Baez is progressing well
        3B Vitters?? Maybe
        OF looks to be very good in the future with Almora and Soler
        I love the Vizcaino pick up
        Need more pitching.
        Finally, anyone have any thoughts on why no teams are picking up Soriano or Marmol on waivers. The Cubs would undoubtedly eat most of the $$.

        • Theboardrider

          If we got a major league ready stud pitcher and another with top of the rotation stuff that’s 1-2 years away I wouldn’t be against dealing Castro. He plays a position that we are strong in the minors and we are desperate for pitching. Also, he has struggled lately and it might end up being a “sell high,” move. And yes, you can’t discount his body language and “boneheadedness.” The guy has consistently been guilty of not having his head in the game even though he’s a 3rd year MLB player. I remember Rafael Furcal at that age (he has a similar path to stardom). I don’t remember him having consistent issues with hustle and not having his head in the game. Look at Mike Trout, is he ever day-dreaming? Castro loses focus and it’s not just an age thing. If we can flip him for stud pitchers and have Baez or other impact prospects waiting in the wings it may be a smart play.

  • Neil

    From Comcast SportsNet: Fleita one of several Cubs employees said to be finding out their fate today or weighing reassignments in organization.

  • Neil

    From Comcast SportsNet: Theo said assistant GM Randy Bush is “in good standing” with the Cubs organization moving forward.

  • Neil

    From the Trib: Cubs also fire Baseball Information Manager Chuck Wasserstrom, eliminating his position. Wasserstrom was a 25-year vet.

  • Neil

    From the Trib: Cubs stats analyzer Ari Kaplan also loses his position but is re-hired as a consultant.

  • Neil

    Chiefs roster moves: Paul Hoilman
    (dislocated finger) & Zach Cates (right shoulder strain) to DL. Add 1B
    Jacob Rogers from Mesa and P Wellington Cruz from Boise

  • Neil

    BJax with his first triple, plated Castro with the tying run

  • Neil

    DeJesus with a homer, #3

  • Neil

    Castro with #12, a two-run homer

  • cubtex

    Neil, Is there any significance on why all these firings are happening on August 15th? Why this date? Any idea?

    • Neil

      Today is not a significant date that I am aware of. When
      Epstein spoke with the media he mentioned they have had 10 months to make their
      evaluations and they felt it was the right time to make changes.

      • John_CC

        Holy d Jesus!

      • cubtex


        • Pudge22

          Why is Camp pitching in the 8th up 5? Why not get guys like Castillo, Bowden & Cabrera some innings?

          • Neil

            Used all three last night … Castillo threw 32 pitches and recorded only 2 outs. Bowden pitched 2 1/3 innings and Cabrera pitched the ninth.

          • Neil

            From Comcast SportsNet: Soriano on possibility of changing his mind about SF Giants with Melky suspended: “I don’t think so.”

          • cubtex

            Melky Cabrera! You got caught! Maybe the Giants try and make another play for Soriano. They need a bat now and maybe Soriano reconsiders.

          • calicub

            second suspension for banned substances this year for the Giants.

            I guess thats how they get Giant in SF…

          • nick_ss

            Hey cubtex, I know this is off topic, but I have a couple questions regarding your business, could you e-mail me, you can get my e-mail from Neil. Thanks man.

  • Neil

    DeJesus with his second homer of the day, first two at Wrigley

    • Zonk

      We’ve been rummaging around the bargain bin all year for pitching; when you do that, most of the pickups don’t pan out, but a few do. Camp, Corpas have done OK, obviously Bowden, Ascencio, less so.

      Is it possible we got a decent starting pitcher in Germano? That would be a stroke of luck if we did. He’s actually been pretty competitive for us.

    • Neil

      BJax with a double to right

  • Neil

    From Comcast SportsNet: Jose Serra – the scout in the
    Dominican who’s tight with Fleita and helped sign Starlin and Soler – is expected to remain with Cubs.

  • Neil

    From Jon Heyman: Alfonso Soriano has cleared waivers & is eligible to be dealt. maybe SFGiants should try again. Cubs

  • Neil

    From Jon Heyman: source: in 1 deal, cubs offered to pay down soriano, who CAN STILL HIT, to $3M/yr. (marmol clears 2)

    Carlos Marmol cleared waivers as well … according to Heyman

    • Zonk

      $3 mil is actually cheap….. but not 2 years from now. Cubs must think he’s going to drop off next year and year after, where that’s just wasted money.

      At this point, the Cubs have some good options coming up through the system in the Outfield; maybe we should just play him, until the farm system (hopefully) fills the position

  • Neil

    Cubs beat the Astros 7-2 Wednesday – Justin Germano: 2R,5H,BB,6k,6.1IP;
    David DeJesus: 4-for-4,2 HR,3RBI,BB; Starlin Castro: 3-for-4,HR,2B,2RBI,2R; Brett Jackson:

  • Neil

    Today’s lineup:

    DeJesus – RF
    Vitters – 3B
    Rizzo – 1B
    Soriano – LF
    Castro – SS
    Valbuena – 2B
    Jackson – CF
    Clevenger – C
    Germano – P

  • cubtex

    I was just looking at Starlin Castro’s stats and found it interesting to compare his rookie year to this year. They currently are at the same number of AB’s going into today’s game.

    2010 463 AB’s 31 2B 29 BB and 71 K’s
    2012 463 AB’s 15 2B 21 BB and 75 K’s

    He has also been taking a lot of his offensive problems in the field with him. Lapses on the basepaths….booting that routine double play ball yesterday. Someone mentioned this the other day……but I would be surprised if Castro was not traded this offseason. He clearly is not responding to Sveum and the new Cubs Way approach. It is a shame because he is one of the most talented players the Cubs have had in decades.

  • paulcatanese

    Cubtex, that was me,I,Paul that posted that. I think he very well be traded, Theo and group have made it clear with their picks, but it would be a shame, but if Theo can get several good players in return, he is salavating with the opportunity to make a trade (anyone, as long as he can make a trade). All of the comments I made about Castro were meant to improve him, and you are right, heis taking it to the field with him. Lets hope he can turn himself around, too much potential to give up on him just yet.
    What is evidenced though, Castro seems to be younger than the counterparts at the same age, again he also was brought up very early in his carreer, and has had to “learn of the job”, thats hard.

  • cc002600

    Interesting stats.

    I get what you are saying, but I think he is just too young to pull the plug on him right now. I mean the guy is only 22. That’s a baby. He’s still still 4 to 5 years away from his “prime” years.

    But you are right in that anything is possible. They very well could trade him. I guess the question will become whether or not Baez is good enough to play SS in 2-3 years.

  • Tony_Hall

    I will repost this breakdown from another site, that looks a little deeper into the stats of Castro. It is from 2 weeks ago.

    Starlin Castro’s offensive output has been falling since Opening Day. By month, his OPS is down from .784 in April — which is already almost not that good — to .763, to .711, to .687 in July. So much for Anthony Rizzo helping him out over the past 31 days.That said, I think Castro is improving his core skill set as a hitter this year, and love what I see in a few key trends. How can this be when his OPS has simultaneously fallen from decent to, uhh, no thank you? Let’s look at five key stats, all viewable in graph form here: (Thanks, Fangraphs!)

    1. ISO

    This is the biggie. For those unfamiliar, ISO measures raw power by removing singles from a hitter’s slugging percentage and isolating extra-base hits. To calculate ISO, one subtracts AVG from SLG, leaving only the extra bases earned with the bat. The most powerful hitters can approach .300; for example, David Ortiz is batting .316 this season, and slugging .609, giving him the league’s second-best ISO at .294. Hitters without power tend to be at or below .100; Ichiro’s .095 ISO this year is a good example.

    So where is Castro on this scale? In short, he’s climbing the ladder. His ISOs this season by month: .100, .148, .145, .173. And to be even more selective about my small sample, since the break he’s at .203. Like I said, climbing. This is especially good to see because he put up a .108 in his rookie year, and a .125 in 2011. And if he’s going to be a formidable hitter he needs power. I’d love to see him maintain that .200-ish ISO over the balance of 2012, as I’m sure would the guys in the Cub front office and the other fans in the stands.

    2. K and BB

    These two we can discuss at the same time; let’s start with strikeouts. When Castro was only putting up .108 in ISO, it was important that he cover the plate well and frequently put the ball in play to maintain his offensive value. Fortunately he was able to achieve this in 2010, putting up a 14% K-rate on the year, just under Derek Jeter (Juan Pierre was just above 6%, but most of the league leaders were between 9% and 14%). That rate went down a hair in 2011, before climbing this year — through June 16 (an admittedly arbitrary date), his rate was up above 18%, with 51 Ks in 281 PAs.

    You might think it a consequence of his adding power — except that over the past month and change the trend has reversed. Maybe it’s too small a sample size to take anything from, but since that game on June 16 Castro’s K rate is down to 11.6%, with just 18 Ks in 155 PAs.

    Meanwhile, his walk rate — which fell from 5.7% in 2010, to 4.9% in ’11, to 3.7% over 2012 — is up to 8.3% over those same past 155 PAs. Both encouraging stuff.

    3. BABIP and GB%

    There’s never been any reason to worry about Castro’s BABIP; he was up near .350 for about 1,000 PAs to start his pro career. But over the first four months of 2012: .380, .333, .310, .238. A .238 in July! That’s bad! He was above .333 in every month in 2011 save one (.305), and did put up a couple of .270s in his rookie year. But .238! It stands out.

    The culprit appears to be a result in batted balls, with Castro’s groundball rate climbing dramatically over the last several weeks (refer back to the graphs at Fangraphs, unfortunately I can’t find this in number form split up into months). I don’t know if that’s a random thing? I’m not that smart. But maybe it is? On the full year, anyway, Castro’s batted ball types for 2012 are essentially identical to 2012. So maybe he’s just been unlucky this month — which would explain the decreased output in terms of OPS, despite the fact that his power is increasing and his K/BB numbers are both moving in the right direction.

    Those are, I think, the numbers behind the final output statistics that matter more. I hope you agree that there are some encouraging signs here, despite the fact that Castro’s OPS has been in decline since day one of this season.

  • cubtex

    and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Red Sox were the trade partners. The Red Sox have been looking for a SS for years and Castro would be great at Fenway. I just don’t get talking down a player in the press.

  • John_CC

    Maybe his work ethic is questionable, maybe he doesn’t take advice well, maybe his head has swollen to much with EVERYONE talking about how great he is, maybe….I don’t know, but none of us know.

    I found it odd that Sveum would say that about a player as well, particularly since he has otherwise proven to be behind his players 100%. That is what makes me wonder about Castro’s drive. He looks an awful lot like Aramis Ramirez, body language wise.

    If you think Sveum is being hard on him I would hate to see how old hard-on Bobby V would treat him. Particularly after last year’s rant about Castro. No way would Cherington be dumb enough to put Castro on the team while Valentine is manager.

  • Baron_S

    I would demand a KINGs ransom for Castro … Guy is a baby!! He has almost-prime Nomar potential. Good Shortstops don’t grow on trees..

  • cubtex

    Valentine is as good as gone. 17 players talk to the owner about wanting him gone….he is gone. Sveum should take note…..players do not want to play for a manager that doesn’t have a players back.
    The difference with ARam is age. Castro is 22! Castro is in elite company with how many hits he has as a 22 year old major leaguer. He has very few peers. It is crazy that they are treating him this year.

  • John_CC

    That is honest to goodness “crap-show” in Boston. Henry and Lucchino are nuts. It’s no wonder Epstein wanted out of there so bad he would come to the Cubs!

    Look, I like Castro. I am not advocating for trading him. I am just bringing up a question. He has never exuded an impressive passion to play. Yes, he can hit the baseball. But my comparison to Aramis has nothing to do with age, some players show no emotion, that’s fine. Yet some players’ body language show disinterest and less than a burning desire to compete. That’s all, nothing to do with age. Do you think that as a player (or person) ages that gain competitiveness and passion? I don’t, young players are almost always the ones with the fire burning the hottest. And that worries me about Castro, the fact that is JUST 22 yet doesn’t seem to “want it” bad enough.

  • cubtex

    This is a product of his background and the country he is from! These are not these rah rah American kids who were taught to get their hands in a circle and scream GO CUBS! Do you notice how Robinson Cano plays? They called him lazy! Now they just say he is smooth. It is so easy to be critical in baseball. Failure occurs so often but when you have a 22 year old talent like him…..I don’t know why you would want to tear him down instead of building him up.

  • Dnuge44

    Castro’s problem is between his ears, it is empty ! Body language of a lazy player….

  • John_CC

    I can understand that. I still would like to see more focus.

    He has been built up quite a bit, I think that might be part of the problem. You tell a 22 year old kid fresh from his poor home country that he is the best this and best that and keep comparing him the HOF hitters, I think that effects a kid.

    In spring training Sveum made a point of reaching out to Starlin and befriending him. He built a personal relationship with him. Sveum has consistently given him credit for the great strides he’s made defensively, but a player – no matter who – make bone-head plays because their head isn’t in the game, there isn’t a lot of defense about being called out.

    Lastly, my point the entire time is that we do not know or understand the relationship and dynamic between Sveum and Castro. Dale didn’t throw him under a bus, he said that realistically on a playoff team he would be hitting 5 or 6th anyway. It wasn’t that bad.

  • cubs1967

    looks like Soriano is becoming 2-faced liar Dempster Jr……..really-SF weather is that much worse than Chitown?….go play for a winner………..unreal.

  • brent carmona

    Where ya been cubs1967? Good to see your’re still here.

    Ive lived in san francisoco before, the weather is not bad at all. A lot of fog/clouds but I don’t see how that is a bad thing…the temperature is always in the middle. Maybe he’s comfortable with losing lol?

  • paulcatanese

    Cubs 1967, I dont think its as much the weather as the park, beautiful place, but playing th outfield there is like
    each field is the size of a football field. It would really expose Soriono’s liability as an outfielder. The weather relly cools off at night,as you will often see fans in ski jackets and scarves. But on you’re side of things, it is a chance to go to post season.