Cubs Recap: Wells battles, offense blows chances

Cubs Recap: Wells battles, offense blows chances

Randy Wells wasn’t terribly sharp (walked five in five innings) in his return to the rotation. However, he did manage to get himself out of trouble and keep the Cubs in the game by giving up only 2 runs.

The Cubs offense was the real culprit today as they left 12 men on base. Alfonso Soriano came up empty during two bases loaded opportunities.

Geovany Soto had another rough day, going 0-4 with two strike outs at the plate and making 2 throwing errors that led to two runs in the sixth inning, the difference in the game.

Tony Campana went 1-2 with a walk in his debut in the two-hole.

Campana’s speed ended up being a factor as he made Johny Cueto commit a balk then fumble a couple of other plays, one leading to Campana reaching via error.

Dale Sveum questioned the other, a bang-bang play where Camapana was called out on a questionable call.

Sveum made a questionable call himself by removing Bryan LaHair on a double-switch in the sixth inning. LaHair had already walked during a 10 pitch at bat and drove in a run with a single earlier.

Removing LaHair (your best RBI man) in a game where you leave 12 men on should be questioned.

There was also a scare when Starlin Castro was hit in the elbow, but he stayed in the game and tripled in his next at bat. This team is already hard to watch; it would be incredibly hard without Castro in the line-up.





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  • I was both angry and scared when Castro went down. I wasn't looking at the tv when it happened, so I thought at first it was right on the wrist/forearm and though it could be a break, then was worried about the elbow joint. Both would have been a disaster for his hitting. But to respond with a triple, pretty sweet.

    I suppose I'm a Randy Wells apologist. I have a higher opinion of him than most, and he had major issues with the strike zone today, but he battled, which is more than I can say for some pitchers. Perhaps if Clevenger was behind the plate...

  • In reply to Cameron Macpherson:

    Wells kept us in the game and I would agree the pitching has been better with Clevenger in there.

    I also thought "our season is over" when Castro got hit, and then quickly asked myself WTF I was talking about.

  • What a painful game that was to watch. The Sveum move (taking out LaHair in the top of the 6th with the game tied and wind blowing in from LF, making it nearly impossible for RH hitters to hit ball out but not LH hitters) was obviously wrong at the time and came back to bite him later. (It's sad when you get out-managed by Dusty.)

    Then, there's the eight walks issued on a day when the wind is howling in. Soto, Soriano and Lopez all looking very bad. The Reds didn't really play very well either, but we out-lost them.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    The only thing that would have made the game more sad is it there was someone yelling "you're all winners!" when the Cubs tied the game...

    Maine has looked thus far, the problem is that he's the one who will be going back to AAA. Damn personnel rules.

  • In reply to Cameron Macpherson:

    I like Maine and think 2012 is his year. He has nothing left to prove at AAA. He's a lefty with a good arm and a really good breaking ball. We need to give him 3+ months in the pen and see if how he performs.

  • I didn't think Lopez was so bad. Yes, he walked the first batter, but that was followed by two bunts(errors) and a bunch of garbage leading to two runs on no hits. Soriano was the worst, again.

  • Yep, the day after we get rid of Marlon Byrd, Soto and Soriano remind us that there are still some holdovers from those anemic 2010 / 2011 squads. The ol' mix of errors (Soto's contribution) and a lack of clutch hitting (thank you, Soriano).

    But as Tom points out, some of the blame goes to the coaching. Removing LaHair on the double switch was idiotic, given the conditions. And for Lopez and Maine to be walking right-handed pull hitters, that goes to the coaches, too. Totally unacceptable to give away the game without forcing the team to get a hit.

  • I have gotten to the point where watching Soriano just takes any enjoyment of the game away. It really is ludicrous. In all my years of watching sports, I can not think of any athlete that continues to be exploited by the same absurd strategy, and does not adjust. Just get ahead and throw the ball 3 feet in front of the plate or 5 feet outside.
    And the ball in the first inning was a can of corn he played into a double. Reality, if you were judging on talent in current tense, he is a AAA player. That is why we can't even trade him for a minor leaguer even if we pay his hideous contract off. Nobody wants him, he is a cancer to any teams lineup. This team will never be on an improve plane until he is removed from the process.

  • He used to have great plate coverage and was able to get away with it. It seems to me now that he's had trouble accepting that he's lost some of that coverage. He needs to adapt to a declining skill set.

  • It is painful to watch Soriano, but I would cut him some slack on that defensive play. The wind was wreaking havoc out there, the ball was hit hard, and he didn't have a lot of time to get to it. He's made a lot of nice plays in LF this year.

    As far as his bat goes, he's always been streaky. If he's in the Cubs' lineup all year, there will be times when he's the best hitter in the lineup, when he's hot, and when those balls two feet off the plate will end up in the bleachers.

    Having said that, is he a good LF? No. But he is not an AAA player, either. He's a slightly below average MLB LFer getting paid a ridiculous amount of money.

    As it is, he and Soto are our only RH power hitters, which puts us in a difficult position, seeing how this team is already power deficient.

  • Soto's two errors were both very tough plays on which he got no help. I would think they were expecting Cueto, at least, to bunt, but nobody moved off their base, or mound, when he did. It was like the last play in the movie Major League.

  • The one thing I did really enjoy about the game was seeing Wells strike out the last two guys in the first when he really needed it. Even though it was an ugly outing, those two at bats spoke volumes.

  • Now that Byrd is gone I can concentrate on Soto as my whipping boy!

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Is it that you just accept hating on the 2012 version of Soriano as a fact of life as Cubs fan, or is Soto really your #1 whipping boy? :)

  • The Cubs are facing a left hander tomorrow, meaning LaHair will be back on the bench so Baker can play. How about putting Baker in place of Stewart, doesn't look like he can left or right handed pitching right now. LaHair has had several quality multi pitch at bats the past week.

  • In reply to Dave S:

    That would make some sense.

  • It'll be very interesting to see who Baker subs for. Cubs management has repeatedly and publicly said that they don't view Stewart as a platoon guy, and Stewart has talked about how much that meant to him that they see him as an everyday player. But LaHair handles lefties better than Stewart and is the hot hand right now. Not platooning Stewart doesn't make sense in the first place.

    My guess is we'll see LaHair in the lineup tomorrow. And we'll probably also see Mather in CF.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    I don't think we need to straight platoon either of them. If there is a tough lefty or a match up that makes sense fine. However, I don't think Baker needs that many ABs IMO.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    The thing that I thought was a head-scratcher was that Sveum did not let Baker pinch-hit for Stewart in the bottom of the 7th, 2 out, bases-loaded. Isn't that the optimum time for a PH that traditionally kills left-handed pitching? For all one knew, that was the last, best chance to tie the game. Was Sveum "saving his bullets" or is Stewart's confidence too fragile to handle being PH in that situation?

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Addendum: Chapman had just entered the game. If he doesn't qualify as a tough lefty, then please give a better example.

  • Wells has always been a battler. He doesn't get flustered with men on the bases and. An turn it up another notch. He is a #5 starter at best but a better choice than the big guy from the Marlins.

  • In reply to clarkaddison:

    We have to give Volstad more time, but I can see where Wells may get another chance either way. He could replace Shark if he does't show growth as well. They could kill two birds if Shark ends up back in the pen.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I agree on Volstad. If he can figure things out, his ceiling is higher than Wells. This is the year to find out what you have in guys like Volstad. We already know what Wells is.

  • I've always been kind of "eh" on Wells. Big guy who keeps the ball down, but pretty average stuff. I think the consecutive 3 WAR years make him look better than he really is. He's a 5th starter, he's going to be 30 in August. He's a nice bottom of the rotation innings eater if we can find a taker and get some value, that works, but I'm also good with keeping him to fill in if the Cubs want to trade someone like Dempster instead.

  • Assuming Dempster continues to pitch reasonably well, what type of prospect(s) would he yield? Given recent deadline deals for soon-to-be FAs , I wouldn't expect much. I'm still pissed Aram didn't waive his NTC last yr, when you consider NYM got Wheeler for Beltran.

  • They don't seem as aggressive on the base paths since that first week of the season, which is what worries me. They're still going 1st to 3rd pretty good, but not as many steal attempts or tagging from 1st to go to 2nd. Gotta do that with this kind of team.

  • Here is the reality with Alfonso Soriano. He is simply not a major league caliber player at this point in his career. For those of you inclined to look at stats(as does our current management), here is the cold hard truth.
    He hit well last April, 10 homeruns. In the six month time frame since then, .411 slugging percentage, .279 on base(obscenely bad), OPS .690(and he has been hitting cleanup some of the time this year?). Look at the WAR numbers. He was a negative WAR player in 2009 at -.9,and marginally better last year at 1.3(due to his hot April only, and he is back in the negative the last six months, at -.5. For those unfamiliar with WAR, that means how many wins more he brings a team vs. a minor league player that would sub(replace) for him. Per the formula, amazingly a AAA replacement player would have outperformed a player earning 19 million dollars the last six months.
    Some find it odd that we could not trade him, even picking up 50 million of his remaining 56 million dollar contract. In reality, teams recognize that they are better off with a reserve player from their minor league system than they would be in trading for Soriano, even if the Cubs pay his salary. They are not going to get anybody in a trade for him. They should cut bait and move on with building a real team.

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    That's easier said than done. It's hard to believe it's gotten so bad that I have to defend This team has no position player prospects who are anywhere near the majors other than Jackson and Rizzo. Eat Soriano's contract and get rid of him, fine, but who plays LF? Are Mather/Reed Johnson/Campana also going to take turns starting in LF? We have no OF's in the minors. Heck, we have no anything at AA or AAA that can contribute here in the next few years.

    We're rebuilding, and I understand how everyone is eager to get a real jump on the process, but people have to stop and understand that our farm system is still a wreck. Other than Jackson and Rizzo, our top prospects are 2-3 years away from their first call ups, if that. Most players in any farm system's A ball teams never pan out. Most of our guys won't make a dent in the majors. We're going to need several years of being bad and getting high draft picks to stock up.

    It's still only April. Soriano is likely going to turn things around and hit his usual 20+ hr's. If we get into June and he's not performing well I would expect the front office will start thinking about alternatives, but right now, there's nobody to replace Soriano even if he retired and we didn't have to pay his salary.

  • That's the concept of replacement level talent, though, that it's freely replaceable at low or no cost. So taking a flyer on a player with a similar profile and WAR curve, like say Aaron Rowand or Vlad Guerrero, wouldn't cost anything in talent and not much in money. Even within the Cubs system, I suspect Sappeldt or Mather would likely put up at least as much combined offensive and defensive value as Soriano. The real cost, though, is paying yet another player to do nothing. I think that's what holds them back from taking action on Soriano.

  • I would expect that if Soriano has a sub-700 OPS at the all-star break, he'll be gone for good. They're just not quite ready to dump him yet when the team is so short on RH power. If we get rid of Soriano and Soto as so many fans are screaming for us to do, we will have NO RH power left.

  • In reply to SVAZCUB:

    We don't really have any RH power with them either.

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