Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Astros – 10/02/12

Game One Hundred Sixty-One: Cubs (60-100) vs. Astros (54-106)
Game Time – 7:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus- Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 186/914
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Chris Volstad (3-11, 6.64/1.68) vs. Bud Norris (6-13, 4.82/1.39)

The long, hard season is just about over for the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs play their penultimate game of the year tonight in what will be the first match-up of 100 loss teams in 50 years (Cubs and Mets in 1962). The Cubs and Astros have also achieved another dubious record. For only the second time, two teams in the same division have lost 100 games (Royals and Tigers in 2002).

Starlin Castro played in his 160th game of the season on Monday night and tied the franchise mark for the most games played at shortstop during a single-season. Ivan DeJesus played in 160 games twice during his Cubs’ career, 1978 and 1979. If Castro plays in the final two games he will be the first Cubs’ infielder since Ron Santo in 1968 to suit up for all 162 games.

In other newsDale Sveum and his coaching staff will hold their exit meetings with the players on Tuesday morning. Sveum will meet with each player to give a list of goals for the off-season. During his pre-game show Monday night, Sveum said the meetings will not last long and will be quick and to the point. Sveum met with his veterans prior to Saturday’s game and had more detailed meetings.

Alfonso Soriano hopes all of the young players realize it’s not fun, no matter how much money a player makes, when the team loses.

Tonight it all begins with Chris Volstad

Chris Volstad has gone back to being Chris Volstadbut with more walks. Volstad showed a lot of improvement after being recalled from Triple-A Iowa in August. Volstad pitched with confidence, threw quality strikes and posted a 2-2 record in six starts with a 3.72 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. But as soon as the calendar flipped to September, Volstad lost both his confidence and command.

Dale Sveum has spoken publically that Volstad has not been following the game plan or pitching to the scouting reports … and the proof is in his numbers. Volstad is 1-2 in his last five starts with an 8.74 ERA and a 2.43 WHIP. Volstad has walked 16 batters with only nine strikeouts in his last 22 2/3 innings. Teams have hit nearly .400 against him (.394) and Volstad has given up 39 hits with seven home runs.

Volstad lasted just three innings in his last outing and gave up seven runs on 10 hits in Denver.

Chris Volstad is a non-tender candidate this winter, even for the pitching starved Cubs’ organization.

Chris Volstad beat the Astros in Houston back on September 10. Volstad allowed one run on four hits with five walks and three strikeouts in five innings. The Astros beat Volstad at Wrigley earlier in the month (four runs on eight hits in five innings) and for the year, Volstad is 1-1 in two starts against the ‘Stros with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP. Volstad owns a 4-1 record in seven starts against Houston with a 4.43 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP.

Astros Career Numbers against Chris Volstad

  • Jose Altuve – 2-for-3 with a double
  • Brandon Barnes – 0-for-2
  • Brian Bogusevic – 1-for-4
  • Jason Castro – 1-for-4 with two walks
  • Matt Dominguez – 0-for-3
  • Tyler Greene – 4-for-13 with a double
  • Anderson Hernandez – 1-for-5 with two walks
  • J.D. Martinez – 0-for-1 with a walk
  • Fernando Martinez – 2-for-7 with a double and a walk
  • Justin Maxwell – 2-for-5 with a double, a triple and a walk
  • Scott Moore – 1-for-2 with a double
  • Chris Snyder – 3-for-10 with a home run
  • Brett Wallace – 3-for-11 with a double, a home run and a walk

Bud Norris is coming of his first win since he beat the Cubs at Wrigley on May 21. Norris went 18 straight starts without a victory and the Astros were 1-17 over those 18 games. Norris is a very good pitcher that has been with a bad team during his career.

Bud Norris shut out the Cardinals for 7 1/3 innings in his last start, allowed just two hits, did not walk a batter and struck out seven. Norris is 1-2 in his last four starts with a 3.75 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP.

Norris has been a different pitcher outside of Minute Maid Park. Norris is 4-1 in 11 home starts this season with a 1.71 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP but on the road, 2-12 in 17 starts with a 7.41 ERA and a 1.74 WHIP.

Tonight will be Norris’ fourth and final start of the year against the Cubs. Norris is 1-2 in the first three with a 5.51 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP … at Wrigley this season, 0-2 in two starts with a 9.64 ERA and a 2.04 WHIP. For his career, Bud Norris is 3-4 in eight games, seven starts, against the Cubs with a 3.59 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP … at Wrigley, 0-3 in four games, three starts, with a 5.79 ERA and a 1.66 WHIP.

Cubs Career Numbers against Bud Norris

  • Darwin Barney – 1-for-11
  • Tony Campana – 1-for-3 with a walk
  • Adrian Cardenas – 1-for-3 with a double
  • Welington Castillo – 1-for-3 with a double
  • Starlin Castro – 5-for-16 with a home run
  • Steve Clevenger – 1-for-4 with a double and a walk
  • David DeJesus – 5-for-9 with two home runs and a walk
  • Brett Jackson – 1-for-2 with a triple
  • Bryan LaHair – 2-for-6
  • Anthony Rizzo – 0-for-4 with a walk
  • Dave Sappelt – 2-for-2
  • Alfonso Soriano – 5-for-14 with a double, two home runs and three walks
  • Luis Valbuena – 2-for-4 with a double and a home run
  • Josh Vitters – 1-for-3

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …

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Quote of the Day

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  • Dorasaga

    It seems that compared to the league this year, the Cubs got more than what they paid offseason 2011, when Theo-Hoyer just took over a mess:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/revisiting-last-years-free-agent-signings/

    A part of this could just be luck; four players look like small sample size ^3. Well, a short term success (one year into the crystal ball) hopefully won’t stop the front office to sign the right players and keep the Cubs on the right track of player development.

    • gocubs

      Nice article. Thanks for link.

      • Dorasaga

        This is one of those few articles I like from such stat-oriented sites: plain, nothing fancy, pure facts.

  • Tom U

    I hope I haven’t taken a future bullet point away from Brian with this.

    With all of the talk of Colvin and LeMahieu last week, has anyone noticed that by hitting .292 over the last 30 games, Ryan Flaherty has quietly taken over the starting second base position on the playoff bound Baltimore Orioles?

    • SuzyS

      Nice pickup, Tom.

    • Aaron

      ….again, why they left Gonzalez and Flaherty unprotected, then traded away LeMahieu is inexcusable in my opinion. Additionally, how anyone can defend Valbuena is beyond comprehension.

      Does he play great defense? Sure he does…So did Neifi and Augie Ojeda, and Rey Sanchez, Rey Ordonez, etc.

      Guess what? Does anyone miss them? What, with their low .200′s batting averages, high .200′s OBP, limited-to-no power….what’s not to like?

      Valbuena’s line is .221/.311/.344, 299 PA’s, 58 hits, 20 doubles, 4 hr, 28 RBI, 35 walks, 53 K’s, 7 errors

      LeMahieu’s line is .290/.326/.398, 239 PA’s, 64 hits, 12 doubles, 2 hr, 21 RBI, 13 walks, 42 K’s, 2 errors

      M. Gonzalez’s line is .234/.280/.327, 219 PA’s, 48 hits, 13 doubles, 2 hr, 12 RBI, 13 walks, 29 K’s, 5 errors

      Flaherty’s line is .224/.268/.374, 161 PA’s, 33 hits, 2 doubles, 6 hr, 19 RBI, 6 walks, 42 K’s, 3 errors

      So….while the Cubs seem to value Valbuena’s defense, it’s quite clear that he’s nearly the same as guys of the past like Ordonez, Sanchez, Neifi, etc.

      Gonzalez, Flaherty, and Valbuena are NOT MLB starters….though Flaherty has a chance with his power thus far.

      One thing is clear, and that is LeMahieu IS and MLB starter right now. He has the hit tool, AND the defensive tool, and if you watched them play the Cubs, both tools were on display.

      I would venture a guess, but I believe the Cubs would have been a .500 team or better if they had ARAM at 3B, or really any 3B with offensive capability. It was a black hole in the lineup all year, and yet the Cubs continue to run Valbuena out there rather than Vitters or even Cardenas…It’s really sad for a rebuilding team to do that. Everyone knows what Valbuena can do….what we don’t know is what Vitters and Cardenas can do, because they haven’t been given the opportunity that Valbuena has.

      What is frustrating to me is that Vitters got labeled has having mental gaffes, etc., yet Valbuena’s had even more on the bases, etc. I just don’t get it.

      • SuzyS

        Aaron,
        1) Unless Vitters absolutely rakes in both winter ball and ST…with much improved defense…I’m not sure we’ll ever see him at Wrigley again….and that’s really kind of a shame.
        2) Sveum/Valbuena seems to be a Dusty/Neifi syndrome in the making.
        3) Team Theo had absolutely no interest in being a .500 ballclub this season…under any circumstance…and so Aram was never a viable option.
        4)Unfortunately, we’re so far away from any consistant contention…I see another designed 60-70 win team next season…with the possibility of a .500 team or contention possibly in 2014….I don’t really like it…but considering what we just went through…it’s probably the only way to go at this stage.

        • brent carmona

          Suzy I disagree with the dusty/dale comparison. If I remember dusty played neifi bc of his likeness to veterans and neifi was a hacker at the plate. Dale plays valbuena simply because of his approach at the plate and solid d. This is what the front office wants as a team and its obvious dale recognizes this. I dont understand how people cannot comprehend this and I think its silly to compare dale to dusty/quade. I am not a huge fan of valbuena I’m more defending the manager here. And yes I would’ve liked to seen vitters at third but he is COMPLETELY overmatched at the mlb level. I am concerned with why cardenas is not getting at bats though…

          • brent carmona

            Now that I think about it, can’t explain why dale plays Joe mather often. Ooops….

          • Tony_Hall

            He received 225 AB’s and was here all year playing in 103 games. That is about right for a bench player who you can play all over the OF and at the corners in the IF. I don’t expect him back next year.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Alberto Cabrera with a walk, a wild pickoff attempt, a groundout and a wild pitch … Astros score a run

      • brent carmona

        I think team theo wants guys that grind out at bats, and it explains why flaherty, gonzalez, colvin, and lemahieu are gone. Even though those guys might be producing more than valbuena, I believe the front office will defend their hitting philosophy at all costs

      • DWalker

        ARAM was NEVER an option this year. there was no way he was coming back to the Cubs, he pretty much came right out and said don’t even bother asking.

        That said, I don’t get the love for Valbuena either, I don’t see why he got a third of the playing time he did, let alone all of it

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Crain’s reports Cubs moving brick wall 3 feet closer to add 56 box seats
    behind home. Need landmark approval. No comment from Cubs.

    • Truth Factor

      sounds more like Cranes (Kenney) report

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Comcast SportsNet: Theo: “Dale’s done a fantastic job. The hundred losses are not his fault in the least bit.”

    • cubtex

      hahahahahaha!

    • Truth Factor

      I agree. The greatest manager in the world would not have made a difference.

  • SuzyS

    The other item on my mind is that the Cubs were really about a “tear down” and learning mode this season.
    There’s not that much “tear down” left this year…and the braintrust now knows what it has…(very little)…so next season should be a true building year. I expect better things…from this point forward….(If they don’t screw it up).

    • John_CC

      You are absolutely correct in you assessment Suzie. The win now half of the posters here have also been sure that the Cubs also would not spend any this winter or explore FA, you know, lose big on the cheap and all that.

      But I agree with you that they’ve now had time to make a full assessment of the club and now they can put a more practical plan in place. And what do you know, a couple days ago Hoyer came out and said they would be looking hard at the FA market and be aggressive to shore up immediate needs.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Len Kasper:
    Via Ed Hartig: Cubs were over 500 in both yrs after 100 L. ’63 Cubs W 23g more than ’62 (82-80) while ’67 Cubs improved by 28.5g over ’66.

  • SuzyS

    For Washington…the vision took six years from scratch…
    If last October was ground zero for the Cubs…???
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/oct/2/lerners-nationals-vision-becoming-reality-nl-east/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

    • GaryLeeT

      A reasonable time frame for an expansion team that has yet to really win anything, but kind of pathetic expectations for a team that’s been in a major market for 136 years.

    • Aaron

      Suzy,

      The Cubs actually got a head start. Most teams that have done the complete rebuild, had dreadful farm systems from top to bottom.

      The Cubs, on the other hand, had a decent system on the bottom…not so much at the top (well, technically they did, but the top was depleted both by call-ups and by Team Theo when they took over).

      Here are a few of the notable young players they inherited in the system/25-man roster (in no particular order of importance):
      Castro
      Barney
      W. Castillo
      Clevenger
      Vitters
      B. Jackson
      Lake
      LaHair
      Colvin (dealt for Stewart)
      LeMahieu (dealt for Stewart)
      Cashner (landed them Rizzo)
      Flaherty (lost in Rule 5)
      M. Gonzalez (lost in Rule 5)
      Kurcz (lost in Theo comp)
      Carpenter (lost in Theo comp)
      Campana
      Russell
      Samardzija
      Wang
      Rosario
      Cabrera
      Beliveau
      Dolis
      Rusin
      Raley
      McNutt
      Whitenack
      McDonald
      Amaya
      Candelario
      Shoulders
      Szczur
      Ha
      Bour
      Alcantara
      Andreoli
      DeVoss
      Golden
      Kirk
      Loosen
      Jensen
      Burke
      Ben Wells
      Peralta
      Zych
      Roderick
      Batista
      Antigua
      Baez

      Vogelbach
      Maples
      Scott
      M. Hernandez
      Chen
      Dunston Jr.

      While I realize not all of them are considered top prospects, or potential cornerstones…what other rebuilding teams started out with is a far cry from what the Cubs are starting out with.

      Part of what you heard from Team Theo in the offseason was merely tempering enthusiasm in order to make themselves look better either way. If the Cubs lost, they could blame the previous regime for not building enough talent from within. If the Cubs won, then they could say the implementation of the “Cubs Way” in the minors was a result of that, etc. I’m not trying to say Team Theo is different than any other new regime, but I think a vast majority of Cubs nation (including myself) bought into the fact that the system was completely void of talent when they took over. Why? Because they told us so, and we believed them.

      Since they took over, here are their top prospects:
      Rizzo
      T. Wood
      Volstad
      Bowden
      Valbuena
      Chapman
      Villaneuva
      Brigham
      Hendricks
      Cervenka
      P. Johnson
      Dorris
      Underwood
      McNeil
      Vizcaino
      Almora
      Soler
      Bruno
      Carhart
      Krist
      Paniagua
      Conway
      Prieto
      Blackburn
      Saunders
      Torreyes

      Again, it’s NOT that all of these guys will amount to anything, but it is a good start. Combine that with last year’s haul, and the prospects already in the system (some of them on the 25 man right now), and they were already infusing young talent. Had they kept the likes of Colvin (though his splits away from Coors are dreadful), Cashner, LeMahieu, Marshall, and a few others, I’m pretty sure most on here would say they’re already on their way. But alas, they decided to blow it up and start over with their own guys, which was certainly their prerogative.

      And if you all want evidence of their “Cubs Way” initiative actually making a difference and being implemented, look no further than the AZ Instructs, and check on AZ Phil’s reports on the TCR. He said the other day through 7 games, they had 48 walks, and today, they added 4 more, to make it 52 walks in 8 games by my count. That amounts to nearly 7 walks per game!!!!!!!!!!! The Cubs are lucky to reach that total in a week if they’re lucky.

      If you look at the MLB roster, the ONLY young guys worth a damn offensively seem to be:
      Castro
      Rizzo
      W. Castillo
      Cardenas (not based on his limited AB’s due to somehow being in Sveum’s doghouse…but because of his track record in the minors)
      Sappelt (though not as a starter, just in Reed Johnson’s role)

      Guys like Soler, Almora, Vogelbach, Dunston Jr., Lake, Watkins, Szczur, Saunders, Krist, etc. are at least 2-3 years away. And if you look at those guys, only Vogelbach, Watkins, Krist, and Szczur seem willing to take a walk.

      That fact alone should mean that the Cubs need to look at the likes of Victorino, Pagan, Swisher, Melky Cabrera (insert laugh…but he might come on the cheap), Rolen, Youkilis, Keppinger (whom I advocated for the past 2 offseasons) for this offense next year.

      Having extremely low OBP’s in the .300-.320 range or less for 2B, 3B, LF, and CF is a recipe for disaster, and yet that’s precisely what the Cubs are looking at. Nearly all of the guys I just listed could be in line for 1-2 year deals.

      I like the athleticism and potential of guys like Lake, Vitters, Szczur, B. Jackson, etc., but they’re just not ready. Why not try to win next year for nearly the same budget they had this year?

      How about…

      C-Castillo
      1B-Rizzo
      2B-Keppinger
      SS-Castro
      3B-Rolen
      LF-M. Cabrera
      CF-Victorino
      RF-Swisher

      I’m just throwing things out there….They certainly get older, but essentially swap Soriano for a 20-something in Cabrera, Campana/Mather/B. Jackson for a 31 yr old in Victorino, and a 33 yr old DeJesus for a 32 yr old Swisher. With Rolen and Keppinger, they definitely get older, but more offensive production. And best of all, they only get locked in for 1-2 years with these guys.

      As for the pitching prospects, they’re further away, so guys like Edwin Jackson, Liriano, etc. could help the rotation and make a lot of sense on 2-3 year deals.

      The division is winnable, and the Cubs could be the Red Sox of 2004, then really work on the draft and international free agents for 2-3 years down the line.

      What does everyone else think? I’m still an advocate for “blowing it up”, and having veteran position players on 1-2 year deals is NOT going to hurt those plans while the upper echelon talent is developing. You do NOT have to sacrifice winning with rebuilding.

      What you do is exactly what I’ve been advocating for a few years now, and that’s to sign guys like Maholm, Franceour, Melky Cabrera, etc. (mostly 20-somethings who might’ve been DFA’d), then at the deadline, you look at your record, and if you’re winning, you hang onto them. If you’re losing, you either decide if they’re part of the future, or you deal them if they’re doing well. It’s just smart personnel management.

      You always must take an inventory of your current roster, and you either look at your own system for improvement, or you look at FA/DFA’s/etc. for improvement. Hopefully that makes sense to everyone. Again, what I’ve always said is you do side-by-side comparisons:
      Barney vs Cardenas
      Valbuena vs Vitters/Cardenas
      DeJesus vs Swisher

      • Tony_Hall

        They have already stated they will be active in FA this off-season, and when you piece it all together, it will be guys on 1-2 year deals in the positions that have holes in the top of the system, like 3B, OF, and SP. But Melky Cabrera is the last thing this team needs right now and some of the guys you list will get more than 1-2 year deals, or will need to be vastly overpaid to accept 1 or 2 years.

        I don’t get your obsession with past players and making them seem like future stars, if only we had kept them. If I didn’t know better, we dealt away or let walk the future NL All-Star infield with Colvin at 1B, Flaherty at 2B, Gonzalez at SS, and Lemahieu at 3B. Now the next new one for you is Cardenas, who obviously is not in their plans, based on there lack of using him in September. They have seen him every day this year, and didn’t want to see him play the last few weeks for a reason. Either way, they did not inherit a good system, loaded with talent, especially at the AAA or AA levels, that would produce much. They spent this 1st year evaluating the players, coaches, scouts, etc and have cleaned house of much of what they didn’t like. Like you said, their prerogative. The majority of the talent for players is at Daytona and lower. Hopefully they are able to move some of their top prospects through in short order to help the major league team. But until then I see Youkilis/Rolen at 3B and one or two of the OF you mention, if they find a taker for Soriano, I don’t see anyway that they bring in a 2B, unless they get a good return on Barney in the form of a SP. They will also bring in 2 SP for next year. I just don’t see anyway that they bring in 5 of the 8 position players via FA.

        • Aaron

          Really Tony? You keep regurgitating your opinion over and over again about me. It’s almost not even worth responding to, but I’ll humor you and everyone else yet again.

          I have NEVER said Gonzalez, Flaherty, etc. are/will be stars, or even regulars for that matter. In fact, I even have disclaimers saying as much most of the time. I even lay out stats for everyone like the other day with Gonzalez vs Flaherty vs LeMahieu vs Valbuena.

          I don’t know how you could keep a straight face, and claim I think all of them will be stars. Are you joking?!?

          • Scott

            If they are not going to be “stars” or regulars, why keep hammering the point? It does look like LeMahieu may have found a home in Colorado, and maybe he could have been a good bridge to a real 3B, but he is a bench player at best on a good team. And guys like that can always be found and/or developed.

          • Tony_Hall

            “Had they kept the likes of Colvin (though his splits away from Coors are dreadful), Cashner, LeMahieu, Marshall, and a few others, I’m pretty sure most on here would say they’re already on their way. ”

            I don’t believe I said you thought they were stars, but by your repeated comments on them, make them seem like they are going to be stars.

            But bottom line, they are gone! Get over it.

            They are not superstars or even building blocks, just fillers. Cashner is the only one who has a chance to be a difference maker, and that is as a closer.

            You make great posts and have great, in-depth thoughts on the future of the Cubs, but this on-going obsession with players that have been cut or traded…I just don’t get.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs lost 3-0 to Astros on Tuesday night – Chris Volstad:
    2R,1ER,5H,0BB,6K,7IP; Starlin Castro: 2-for-4,2 2B; Cubs: 4H, 3BB, 0-for-7 RISP, 7 LOB

  • paulcatanese

    Brilliant,at least the Astro’s have momentive going for next year.

  • GaryLeeT

    Would being swept, in scoreless fashion, over a 3 game series, at home, by the worst team in baseball, portend anything for the future?

    • paulcatanese

      Gary, the Cubs only needed five more games to play and they would have been the worst in baseball.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Tonight’s lineup:

    DeJesus – RF
    Barney – 2B
    Rizzo – 1B
    Soriano – LF
    Castro – SS
    Valbuena – 3B
    Castillo – C
    Jackson – CF
    Volstad – P

  • Cloycub13

    I was waiting all year for “Penultimate”… you did not dissapoint as always Neil!

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Made sure to include it … thanks.

  • SuzyS

    I have to weigh in on the 100 “thing”. To me, it’s not surprising at all that we lost 100 games…What IS SURPRISING is that we actually won 60 games. I really don’t even mean that as a negative…the Cubs paid absolutely NO attention to a winning season this year…the entire focus was on the minor leagues and the future…and somehow…somehow…we still managed to win the “magical” 60 games that we all say EVERY major league team wins….How did that happen???