Rambling About the Cubs as the Dog Days Are Upon Us

As the season trudges on, and thoughts of 2014 fill my head, it is hard to describe the current installment of the Chicago Cubs.  The names, faces, trades and waiver moves come together to make one random story of a season.  With less than two months to play, it is hard to imagine the Cubs will get to 100 losses, but if another Samardzija start ends in 12 runs for the opponent … who really knows.

So let’s get to it.

  • Matt Guerrier is on the 60-day DL a day or two after Donnie Murphy hits two bombs in route to a victory.
  • Sorry, this is a Cubs site, so I will start talking about guys on the Cubs.
  • Cody Ransom is 37 years old. That is one of those stats you just can’t get out of your mind.
  • Here is to you Cody, and your next 20 years riding buses in the Carolina league as a manager. I say this positively. He is a true baseball lifer. I hope his summer in Chicago stays with him forever.
  • As Eric Karros once said, every player should experience playing in Chicago for one year. (Wrigley Field and the Cubs were clearly implied.)
  • Hey Edwin, sometimes the silver lining is a good thing … and it can only get better at this point, right? Hey, he has gotten his ERA below 5, so that is a step in the right direction.
  • I know he won a Gold Glove last year, but you can’t have an every-day second baseman hitting .211 with a .258 OBP with this lineup.
  • With that said, the Logan Watkins era has arrived. He is 2-for-7, batting a robust .286. Our worries at Ryno’s old stomping ground have been alleviated!
  • He would be fine on the ’01 Mariners, but not on the 2013 Cubs.  I have a feeling Theo and Jed would take a long hard look at this.
  • Speaking of two/thirds of McThoyer, I anticipate an organization taking a long, hard look at Jason McLeod this offseason.  An assistant-GM position would be a step up, but I think it would take a head role to get him to leave Theo and Jed.
  • I wish Castillo’s power numbers were better, but a .274 average with a .347 thus far in his first full season are very encouraging. Very.
  • Speaking of catchers, here is to Dioner Navarro. In a year that has been over for two months, he stood in there and made an old-fashioned baseball play Wednesday night.
  • And for some of the old-school folks, it was a thing of beauty. Let’ s hope he has a speedy recovery. And here is to keeping him around. He has quietly had a solid year offensively. Very solid.
  • The Cubs catching position came to play the first four months of the season. Just trying to find some positives.
  • Who else wants to head to Cooperstown with me for Junior Lake’s HOF Induction Ceremony?
  • Question for real discussion? If the Cubs have to pay Samardzija $80 million over 5 years to retain him, do you do it? Would you sign him to that contract?
  • The only reason I would think about it is given his consistent improvement year over year. However, if you sign him to that, and his production stays level, you are paying two pitchers $29 million a year for an average of a 4.50 ERA.
  • Yes, they are innings eaters. Samardzija will easily top 200 innings and Jackson should come close to that mark. By signing the Shark will be a question that keeps McThoyer up at night.
  • There are two everyday players from the beginning of the season who have better batting averages than the Cubs number-3 starter.
  • That, folks, sums it up the 2013 installment just perfectly.

I hope each and every one of you has a fantastic, fun-filled Friday as well and an above-average Saturday and Sunday.

And until next time …

Stay Classy Cubs Fans!!

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  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Great to see the Ramblings back! I have missed it.

    No I wouldn’t sign Shark. I think you get a pakage of prospects for him. He will bring a great return and I don’t see him ever reaching his potential here. I’ve said it before and I still believe he would be better served somewhere that people won’t remember what he accomplished in college….in another sport.

  • Dorasaga

    Here’s a great collection of little stories about 1988.08.08. What particularly inspiring is this:

    “Quigley and other neighborhood residents worried that frequent night baseball games would significantly damage a largely residential
    neighborhood. Among those residents was Beth Murphy, owner of Murphy’s Bleachers, a bar across Sheffield from the center-field bleachers.

    Beth Murphy: People were afraid of their quality of life being affected. There was no knowledge of what night games would mean to the neighborhood, but there was a worry it would affect people trying to get home, people trying to park. It’s the same arguments as today [about remodeling Wrigley]. It’s parking. Traffic, quality of life. Those were the main concerns.”

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/9547756/wrigley-field-first-night-game-25-years-ago

    My response is simple:

    “God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw that the light was good.” –Genesis 1:3-4

    New thoughts: In 2018 of yesterday, the Cubs should host a grand 30 Anniversary of light (night baseball) to Wrigley Field. By then, the new hotel should be opened, the area behind the bleachers be complete, and the Cubs ready to compete for something that actually matters, You-Know-What.

    • 07GreyDigger

      For someone who’s making hand over fist at Murphy’s Bleachers (which led to her restaurant, the Irish Bistro) you’d think she’d more excited about more Wrigley revenue. Nice to see she’s been consistent in her ignorance and resistance to change.

      • Dorasaga

        Yes! Consistency. How we need that in our society?

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  • J Daniel

    Nice, Brian! And NO to Shark!

  • Tom U

    Brian, I’ll add a rambling:

    With Darwin Barney’s batting average at .211 and DJ LeMahieu hitting .273, it makes the Ian Stewart trade even tougher to swallow.

    • 07GreyDigger

      Rip! Rip! Is that you? :)

    • Denver Mike

      Don’t get too caught up in LeMahieu’s stat line. Would he be better than Barney? Probably. But I have watched him play quite a bit this season, on TV and in person (I live 3 blocks from Coors), and he is no gem. When the locals thought the Rox were going to make a playoff run this year 2B was the position everyone was in consensus needed to be upgraded. I think he is at best the 25th man on a contender. Was the Stewart trade a failure? No doubt about it. But believe me if the Cubs wanted LeMahieu back it wouldn’t take much more than the proverbial “bag of balls”.

  • SirGladiator

    I definitely agree on the no to Shark for that money, I wouldn’t even give him half that money right now. Like Sveum (ironicly) said, if you aren’t good you don’t get paid. Obviously he should’ve said ‘present company excluded’, but I guess he figured that was so obvious it was just implied :) . We should’ve traded him when we had the chance, I don’t even know what we could get for him now. This is terrible stuff he’s bringing these days, he’s gotta turn it around or we’re gonna be faced with trading him for very little, or keeping him and letting him walk for a supplemental draft pick. We desperately need him to step his game up so we can get something of value for him.

  • 07GreyDigger

    Love the Darwin Barney note. I’m bummed that they didn’t dump him to the Tigers last season. Javier Baez coming to 2B?

  • cubsmonkey

    Thanks for these thoughts Brian. I agree with most of them. It would hurt a little to see Barney go but his offense is just…not…there. However, if Castro keeps it up with his lack of focus and discipline, we may come to really regret a Darwin departure (I hope not!). If it were up to me, I would maybe move Castro to 2nd and put Baez in at SS. Or maybe send Castro to the minors for some further skill building.

    As far as Samardzija, for most of his time in Chicago, I would’ve scoffed at the idea of letting him go; I am a big shark fan. But … after his performance in the last month, coupled with the season long ERA issue, I would say back up the truck & send him off. 80 mil is just too much money for a guy who seems to be losing the wow factor. And I get the impression he thinks he’s worth double that anyway …

  • cubtex

    With all this Darwin Barney talk lately…that got me a little curious to see how our “CORE” infield was doing last year at this time. If y’all want to bury your head in the sand and forgive Sveum and his coaching staff for the win/loss record….OK….but this is not excusable. If it were one player…again, OK…..but it is all 3.

    This is what these 3 were hitting on August 10th 2012.

    Darwin Barney
    2012

    .270 Avg
    2013
    .211 Avg

    Anthony Rizzo
    2012
    .299 Avg
    2103
    .239 Avg

    Starlin Castro
    2012
    .275 Avg
    2013
    .245 Avg

    To me…. this is inexcusable. If you have a sales manager who you hired and 3 of your top sales reps had this type of drop in production would you say your manager is doing a good job? This is not a small drop. It is significant.

    • cubtex

      Whoever downed arrowed this….speak up. I want to hear how you would defend this. I am extremely curious to hear.

    • 07GreyDigger

      It was not me, as I save my down arrows now for truly ignorant posts. I will say this and I’m not defending Sveum and the coaching staff, but how much can we blame on them. The staff can give all the tips they want, but when is it up to the players for their failures?

      I think Rizzo is in a sophomore slump (much like Eric Hosmer had last year) and is probably not a #3 hitter moving forward. I see him more as a .260 hitter with 20 HR with 80-85 RBI. Not bad for the position.

      I also think Castro and Barney have been figured out. Barney’s numbers have declined for the past three seasons and is a utility infielder starting on a bad team. As for Castro, who knows.

      But I think the blame needs to be spread all around here. Just not the coaching staff.

      • cubtex

        I know who down arrowed it.lol. I was just wanted to see if he would respond. I 100% agree about Rizzo. That is what I see think he is as well. .260 to .265 25 HR’s and 85 RBI. Not bad but nothing like many people envision.

        My point is that Sveum has had a negative affect on the younger players. He is not even doing a good job at developing the players.

        • 07GreyDigger

          But if he had a negative effect on Castro and Rizzo, why did Castro make such a big leap last year and Rizzo have such a good half season? That’s what I mean.

          I never played baseball (not well anyway) so my perception of what a manager does is based off of Major League, Bull Durham and Little Big League. A man who fills out lineup cards, makes game decisions and keeps the locker room in order, doesn’t stand in the field, stand in the batter’s box and run the bases. It’s not his decision to swing at a bad pitch or take a mental nap at SS.

          All he can do is make suggestions, it’s up to the players to act on them.

          • cubtex

            Castro took a big leap? Look at his first couple of years. He didn’t take a big leap last year. Rizzo was a midseason callup and there wasn’t a book on how to pitch him yet. Pitchers adjusted and Sveum and the staff haven’t helped these 3.

          • John_CC

            I don’t think you have much to base your argument on.

          • cubtex

            I don’t want to confuse you with facts John….your mind is made up. Those silly stats always get in the way.

          • John_CC

            Keep reading….

        • John_CC

          Not sure where you found the stats you listed above, but Rizzo hit .285 in 337 AB (per B-R.com) not .299. He has 100 more AB so far this year, which means more exposure, more time for slumps, etc.

          If you want to start throwing blame around for something, let’s first take a serious look at Rizzo’s stats … the underlying stats that actually tell us things about his approach and production, not just comparing a BA from a half season to this season.

          Rizzo’s HR% is down from last year, but hardly: 4.1 to 3.7, his K% is up a full 1.5% but his BB% is also way up, 7.3 last year up to 11.1 this year, nice.

          His XBH% is also up, from 8.2 to 10.7 this year. His X/H% (percentage of all hits that are extra bases) is 51%, up from 31% last year!

          K/BB: down from 2.3 to 1.67.

          AB/SO: down from 5.4 to 4.7

          AB/HR: down 1%

          AB/RBI: same

          These are stats that can tell some things about a hitter compared to previous seasons. My take away is that Rizzo is having a solid sophomore season, he is showing improvement in key areas (BB%, XBH%, K/BB) while struggling a little with his K rate. Sophomore seasons are notoriously difficult. If this is Rizzo’s “slump” then I think we have a lot to look forward to.

          • cubtex

            If you READ my post. I said this was their average on 8/10/12 compared to what they are hitting today on 8/9/13

          • John_CC

            Fine, I MISREAD your post.

            Did you read all those STATS above? No comment? I’m not making those up, nor cherry picking. I invite you to look for yourself

            http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/rizzoan01-bat.shtml

          • cubtex

            If you want to convince yourself that Rizzo is having a good year…more power to you. I see a guy who hit 2 HR for May, 2 HR in June, 3 HR in July and is hitting .185 with RISP. I also see a guy who is hitting .239. Do you think that is a middle of the order bat? So his walks are up? Big Deal! This goes back to my argument that the middle of the order bats need to swing the bat. That is why Brandon Phillips had 85 RBI compared to Rizzo’s whatever he has now. I am not saying Rizzo will not be a slightly above average 1st baseman…but to think he is having a good year and has superstar potential is being way way optimistic.

          • John_CC

            MY mind is made up? Ha. Sounds like you’ve already found all the stats you need to back up your opinion.

            And btw: I never said that “Rizzo is having a good year.” That is what you said I said, once again putting words into my mouth.

            I am just tired of people bashing on Rizzo, he is NOT having that bad of a season. Is it good? Maybe not. Is it great, no. It is that bad? I don’t think so.

            You can Poo-poo K/BB rates all you want, but I find it telling that you ignore the massive XBH%, a fact that Rizzo is tied for 3rd most doubles in the MLB and 6th for total extra bases.

          • cubtex

            “My take away is that Rizzo is having a solid sophomore season,” This is your quote.

            OK sorry to put words in your mouth. I guess I have to use your EXACT words everytime.

            Define…Solid for me. Would you say some people might define that as “good” or “above average” ?

          • John_CC

            You like to look at BA and other old fashioned stats to form and support your opinions.

            I believe that Rizza has had a solid sophomore season, showing improvement in a lot of areas that foretell better production down the road as he matures (he is 23!) and has better hitters around him in the lineup.

          • cubtex

            I get a huge laugh when I hear the better hitters around him talk.(I made sure to post your exact words this time instead of substituting “good” for solid) Rizzo is a young player who has a lot of holes in his swing. Pitchers know how to attack him and having a Miguel Cabrera behind him in the lineup would not have made one bit of difference.

          • John_CC

            Sounds like you are already convinced.

          • cubtex

            I don’t look at a computer to see a players flaw. I can see how a player reacts to certain pitches where average fans don’t. I am not saying that I am smarter than anyone with that comment so don’t take that wrong… I have played at a higher level than most so I pick things up that the typical baseball fan cannot.

          • John_CC

            What was your career BA w/ RISP?

            This is a decent (maybe even solid) argument against the RISP battle.

            http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/blog/eye-on-baseball/22846773/a-plea-to-stop-the-obsession-with-risp-batting-average

          • paulcatanese

            Agree 100%, don’t think I don’t back you up, as I do think the same way.
            I just think it’s futile to even begin to argue with Saber people, they are always right, or so they think.
            As I mentioned before, on Sunday games, facts and figure days, I just shut the sound off
            and watch the game, can’t stand that stuff.
            Crystal ball, look at the past to predict the future, ha.

          • cubtex

            I don’t feel like looking up this stat, but I would guess that the majority of his HR’s this year were hit on the 1st pitch or up 3-1. A guess count.

          • mutantbeast

            Shin Soo Choo has a .415 OBP . Maybe that helps explain why Phillips has 85 rbi, he certainly gets his chances, and BTW he also has Joey Votto and Jay Bruce hitting around him. Yes, Rizzo isn’t burning it up, but come up with a comparison that matters.

          • cubtex

            Of course and Votto has only 50 plus RBI as well with Choo hitting in front of Votto. That is my argument about swinging the bat. It is an argument about Rizzo not being a run producer

          • John_CC

            The Phillips comparison doesn’t work. I mean what are you comparing and what are you trying to support or prove?

            Yes Phillips has a lot more RBI than Rizzo. And as mutantbeast pointed out he is hitting clean-up in one of the better lineups in baseball so RBI will come. It is not a stat that proves much else. You also like BA, Phillips is hitting .260 this year, do you consider that “good” “average” “solid” “below average”? He is slugging a meager .400 with an OPS of .714. That is BAD.

            Rizzo’s OPS is .780. But I’m not sure if you consider that stat meaningful.

            If Rizzo where hitting 4th in the Reds lineup, do you think he would have more RBI than he does now with the Cubs?

          • cubtex

            no. he can’t hit with runners on base

          • John_CC

            Thanks.

    • paulcatanese

      I agree, strange though, all three have become
      “defensive” in their approach and not “aggressive” if that makes sense. Could be a better description, but can’t think of one.
      Almost as if they are afraid to make a mistake, and with pressing to please, they have misplaced their personal identity so to speak.

    • triple

      Yeah cubtex, very tough to argue with those numbers. It is a young infield and its tough to imagine all of them having their worst career years all in the same year, but let’s hope that is what’s happening. We won’t really know until we experience next season. All I can say is to put the positive vibes out there, and hopefully, things get better. How do I spin this in a positive way? Well, by the end of next season, we will know whether Sveum will be sticking around or packing his bags!

      • Brp921

        Depending on what happens this off season I think we’re still looking at a year where we aren’t in contention, but by the second half I think we will see the beginning of the fruition of the rebuild. Junior Lake will have about a full season under his belt and hopefully Rizzo and Castro will be playing more to their potential and a couple of our top prospects will be called up and get a taste of the big leagues going into 2015.

    • John_CC

      Wasn’t Sveum the manager last year as well?

      • cubtex

        What took you so long? I was waiting for your response after that down arrow :) Of course he was the manager. That is my point. These players have regressed under him over the last year.

        • John_CC

          It was me! Ha! I never use the “down arrow” as I find the whole “like” “dislike” thing rather silly, but I did this one purely as a joke. My reasoning is below. I’m curious to hear your response.

  • John_CC

    5 and 80? No way! I still like Samardzija and his potential to keep improving into the #2 started he could be (… potential … could be …) but as of today, he has not improved so much over last season and he has not proven that he worth 5 years and 80 million.

    • triple

      Yes, I agree, Samardzija is not worth that money, and I don’t even see how he can be considered to be that expensive. Garza would be worth that money though. I still like Shark, and his confidence, but it’s time he start proving that he can reach what his ceiling looks to be (as I agree he is a candidate to become a good #2, but right now is looking no more than a 3 or 4).

      One thing I’ll add is that this has been one of the most confounding seasons I’ve seen from the Cubs in my 30+ years of being a fan. I feel that lots of their core players are having a season that will be considered an outlier, and things should sway back to average next year. But that does all remain to be seen with these young players.

  • texcubnut

    No to 5 years and 80 million; we already have a ‘Jeff Samardzija’, his name is Edwin Jackson. We need to keep developing T. Wood, Kyle Hendricks, Pierce Johnson and when we’re close ( in a couple of years ) supplement with a key free agent pickup.

    • Brp921

      Shark wouldn’t sign an extension because he wanted to let the season play out and show what kind of starting pitcher he could be. So far he has not earned the kind of contract he must have had in mind. Unless he turns things around pretty quickly I can’t see him wanting to sign that extension this winter either.

      • John_CC

        I think he has decreased his value a bit…this being his first full season starting and he is not finishing strong. Not yet.

  • RMercer69

    I haven’t seen Baez play short, but I do definitely think Castro would be a great candidate to make the position change to 2nd base. He is avg to below avg as a SS, but could probably be an excellent 2nd baseman especially taking some of his throwing errors out of the equation. Thoughts?

    • RMercer69

      I remember the talk or debates of moving Castro to third a few years ago, but has there been much banter or mention of him at 2nd? I believe he could be an above avg 2nd baseman for sure.

    • triple

      Castro has endured a couple rough patches with his defense this year, but I’d say that he has been very good the other 85% of the time. And I’ll admit that I’ve probably been one of the hardest people here on Castro’s case for his defense. From June 13-23 he committed 7 errors (even had 2 games with 2 errors each during that stretch). Obviously he was bringing his bat into the field to play defense! But from June 26 to today, he’s only committed 1 error! I am very impressed with his improvement. What remains to be seen is if he can avoid another of those funks for the rest of the year. He’s on pace to commit 21 to 22 errors for the season, but if he can keep up what he’s doing lately, maybe he only will have his total around 17 or 18. In the 3 previous seasons he committed 27, 29, and 27, so this is really some great improvement.

      I’m of the opinion that it would best to leave him alone at SS, instead of moving him; as then he will have to endure another learning curve to learn a new position, and will go through some of the same problems again. If/when Baez and/or Alcantara are ready, I would think that the FO will decide what to do with them. I haven’t seen Baez or Alcantara play either, so it’s hard to comment, but if memory serves me, I’ve heard that Baez’s glove isn’t that developed either, but I think he’s got a great arm. Maybe he can play 3B or corner OF in the future, as his power really projects well for those positions anyway. That’s assuming that Alcantara can become the 2B of the future, and leaves 3B open for either Lake, Olt, or Bryant.

  • Brp921

    I don’t know if I’ve got accurate information or not but I read something saying David Dejesus is batting cleanup tonight.

    • cubtex

      I saw that too. LOL. The search for a Soriano replacement continues.

      • Brp921

        I know we don’t have a lot of choices, but c’mon Dejesus? lol

        • cubtex

          That is Sveum with his ridiculous lineups:) Look at this current roster. It is pathetic. Who can hit cleanup? Who can hit 3rd? This team is so far from being competitive it isn’t even funny. Next year will be just as bad unless they make a blockbuster trade or 2 by trading away some top prospects

          • Varmit_Cnty_BBQ

            I do not think trading prospects is the way to go I like what they are doing lower levels

          • cubtex

            I don’t think they will either. I am just saying that this team is far from being competitive.

          • Varmit_Cnty_BBQ

            Kinda like the70s hope it doesn’t take as long to turn around. Need another Ryno to get thing jump started

          • Varmit_Cnty_BBQ

            Could Olt turn it around traded for Ryno maybe this could be ourguy

          • Brp921

            The real Ryno is probably available:)

          • Varmit_Cnty_BBQ

            So is Jose Cardinal we need steals

          • 07GreyDigger

            Roster is better than last year. Can’t argue with that. Or maybe you can. Haha.

          • cubtex

            the pitching staff is, I don’t think the starting 8 is.

      • Varmit_Cnty_BBQ

        Could be a 1st good move by Sveum I like DeJesus approch
        if someone is on base don’t always need a home run

        • cubtex

          but you need a hit, not a walk.

          • Varmit_Cnty_BBQ

            Not a lot of hits in this lineup best option currently

          • cubtex

            you are right about that. this team is at rock bottom I hope. I can’t imagine it getting worse from here.

        • Brp921

          Dejesus at best is a table setter, he’s not one to drive in runs. But you’re right in your comment below there are not a lot of options on this roster.

          • Varmit_Cnty_BBQ

            Wonder if a manager ever thought to load up on on base guys at the top and middle then have a couple sluggers in the 5th and 6th holes

    • RMercer69

      Didn’t Castro start turning it around when he was moved back in the 2 hole in June sometime? Then all of a sudden he was moved to 5 and now 7 and it seems as if he has regressed again? I say seems, bcuz I’m not sure of the actual #’s, but would bet I’m right.

      • Brp921

        I think Castro is a better hitter when he is left to swing when he wants to without having to think about it. No matter where he hits. I’m not going to say whether that’s good or bad, just that that’s how he’s successful.

        • Varmit_Cnty_BBQ

          Hawk agrees

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Cubs still three years away from playoffs, so I would trade Samardzija to speed up the rebuilding process….

    Cubs need to draft a catcher or two in the next draft…..

    David DeJesus is hitting 4th tonight…….

    Kim DeJesus is finishing off another 5th…..

    If McGriff or Carter or Murphy are not in the HOF….neither will Lake……

    Alcantara is just around the corner…….soon he will be patrolling second base…….

    Bryant hit #4…….

    Would you rather have Archer & Cashner on the Cubs team…..or have Rizzo & Texas prospects at this point?