Cubs Game Notes: Gregg is the new closer; Sweeney's starting debut

Cubs Game Notes: Gregg is the new closer; Sweeney's starting debut
Johnny Schmitz

The Cubs look to sweep the 2 game set today with a win and the Cubs are sending out Carlos Villanueva, who has been solid this year, but his last two starts have not been as good.  He'll need to find that earlier magic for the Cubs to have a shot today against the even hotter Jake Westbrook (2-1, 1.07 ERA).

Day game following a night game so the catcher Welington Castillo and the achy-kneed Alfonso Soriano get the day off.  Interestingly, so does the slumping Darwin Barney.  Luis Valbuena moves to 2B and Cody Ransom gets the start at 3B.

Also, this is the Cubs starting debut of OF Ryan Sweeney.

News and Notes:

  • Dale Sveum has named Kevin Gregg the closer.
  • Travis Wood's quality start was his 7th consecutive to start the year, the most by a Cubs LHP since Johnny Schmitz in 1948, who also started with 7.  Schmitz went on to go 18-13 with a 2.64 ERA that year, made the all-star team, and finished 12th in the MVP voting.
  • Top hitters against Jake Westbrook are Starlin Castro (.318/.348/.364 in 22 ABs) and David DeJesus (.281/.378/.375 in 32 ABs).  Neither are at an .800 OPS and the Cubs as a team have hit .223/.280/.273 vs. the big RHP.
  • In case you are still tracking the career of Carlos Zambrano, he has signed with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League.

Today's Lineup:

  1. DeJesus CF
  2. Castro SS
  3. Valbuena 2B
  4. Rizzo 1B
  5. Schierholtz RF
  6. Sweeney LF
  7. Navarro C
  8. Ransom 3B
  9. Villanueva P

John:  The top of the order needs to get on base.  It's probably going to be tough to score runs the way Westbrook is pitching so I want to see the Cubs work counts, get on base, and chip away.  Hopefully they get to that soft Cardinals middle relief core.

Felzz: Bullpen- With Sveum "naming" Gregg the closer, everyone appears to be in a role. With Marmol probably the only person not available and an off day coming, Sveum will be able to use what he believes are his optimum match ups today. Hopefully everyone called on steps up.

Tom:  Want to see how Kevin Gregg handles the closer's role now that it is officially his to lose.


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  • So when Fuji comes back is Gregg still the closer? Either way, if he can pitch well upon his return, it'd seem like the bullpen can really get straightened out.

  • In reply to mosconml:

    Seems that way and I agree that can help the bullpen a lot if Gregg can continue to pitch this well.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Wow, what if?? Marmol returns to some semblance of his former self in the set up role. Russell continues his really good run. Fujikawa is what he was sold as. Gregg continues his success. That takes shape and we have one heck of a bullpen. A very large what if.

  • In reply to Wild Bill:

    Lot of ifs, agree, but It would be nice even if it were an average pen. That alone could have saved the Cubs a couple of wins.

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    Seems like based on their individual hitting attributes you'd have Valbuena hitting 2nd and Castro hitting 3rd. Dale really REALLY likes Luis Valbuena lol

    I'm looking for Ryan Sweeney to make an impact today and pick up where he left off at Iowa.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I like the idea of Valbuena up in the order because he does work counts and makes the pitchers work. I'd like to see that too with DDJ and Valbuena 1-2 and Castro, Rizzo, Soriano in the 3-4-5 spots.

  • It is sad how far Zambrano has fallen. I always liked him despite his problems. Dontrelle Willis and Vlad Guerrero are also on the L.I. Ducks. Maybe I can get out to see them when I am down that way.

  • In reply to bruno14:

    Looks like it would be a fun team to catch.

  • I too always liked Zambrano. In his last few years here, he somehow often reminded me of Curley from the Three Stooges, who was of course the most lovable of all the Stooges.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Big Z and the Three Stooges !?!
    I have this image of "Curlos Zambrano" telling umpire Joe West, "Ooooh, wise guy, huh ?" and spinning around the mound on his elbow....

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    Kim DeJesus on with Kap and Hollandsworth right now. don't trade him!

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    In reply to Dale Miller:

    I'm pretty confident Theo and co. can work out a deal to keep her in town for a few more years :)

    Give her what David got, 2yrs 10mil, Gotta keep fan favorites around lol

  • Look at that pristine skyline in the Johnny Schmitz baseball card. No Toyota sign, no Jumbotron.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    Old school!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Love the Johnny Schmitz card. As Baseballet said, it was from the era when that gigantic new Prudential Building would be the tallest building in Chicago -- 50 stories!
    Also notable from reading the back of the card that the '45 NL champs fell to last place by '48. What goes down can come up though.

  • Gregg is the closer at least until the end of July when his increased value entices a contender to trade for him and we get a prospect in return for him

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    At what point is Luis Valbuena no longer a short term solution?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Good question. I'm buying right now. He's very valuable to this team.

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    In reply to Denim Dan:

    At this point i'm not sure Darwin Barney won't be replaced by him at some point. Valbuena isn't as good a defender but he's up there and any decrease is more than made up by his offense.

    If I had to chose between Barney and Valbuena right now I'd probably pick Luis.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I was intrigued by his start at second today, too. I think Barney is saved -- for now -- by the lack of decent options at third. But I agree that in the longer term Valbuena's bat plays really well at second base.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Be great to use Barney as a late defensive sub and just swing Valbuena over to 3rd.

  • In reply to Denim Dan:

    I'm gonna have to give it up to Dale on this one too. Last year I wasn't all that convinced he was better than Ian Stewart, but he clearly saw it.

  • It appears the good luck is catching up with Pancho-Villanueva.

  • The Cubs are now 0-18 when giving up 4 or more runs. I pretty telling statistic for the season so far, I dare say.

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    I think it's time to tell Castro: "Forget everything we told you. Just do what comes naturally."

  • Maybe the Cubs are the prom queen. They definitely gave it up like a girl on prom night.

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    This is interesting: according to Carrie Muskat the Cubs put Ian Stewart through waivers. So there's now a slot open on the 40-man. It will be interesting to see how that gets filled in.

  • With Gregg the "Closer du Jour" (Insert laugh here) and Marmol sitting on the bench chewing sunflower seeds, is there a team out there that wants him? Also, the mention of Zambrano's career was funny. What's up with Milton Bradley these days? That might even be more funnier.

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