Don't they ever stop migrating? Cards 3 Cubs 2

Don't they ever stop migrating? Cards 3 Cubs 2

The Cubs looked to make it two in a row against the Cardinals.  But starter Joe Kelly and the assortment of hard throwing relievers turned out to be too much of a challenge for the North Side 9. The Cardinals struck early against Carlos Villanueva. Carlos Beltran's triple down the right field line scored lead off man Matt Carpenter. Beltran would cruise home when the next batter Allen Craig and before the Cardinal fans could smoke their first bowl of meth it was 2-0 Cardinals. Alfonso Soriano would have the lead in the third with a bloop hit single to right center field scoring Luis Valbuena. Matt Gurrier would give up what would turn out to be the winning run in the 7th by giving up a triple to pinch hitter Rob Johnson and a double to the increasingly annoying Matt Carpenter.  Starlin Castro would give the Cubs some momentum and hope with a home run in the 8th. But Trevor Rosenthal and his 100 mph fastball and Edward Mujica and his all around ugliness proved to be too much and the Cardinal fans went to their various fast food chains for dinner with smiles on their faces celebrating a 3-2 win. Damn right they'll have fries with that. Let's look for love in all the wrong places.

ASTON VILLANUEVA

Carlos Villanueva bounced back from a shaky first inning to give the Cubs a solid start today. CV pitched 6 innings allowing two runs on four hits while walking two and striking out four. Villanueva was on a 90 pitch limit so when he threw 28 pitches in the first inning it looked like an empty the bullpen game for the Cubs. But Villanueva got lots of ground ball outs and only needed 38 pitches for the next three innings. He'd be a handy guy for a team down the stretch. But will someone hand over something of value for a swing man? He's probably more valuable to the Cubs right now. Gurrier, despite giving up the winning run, and Pedro Strop held down the 7th and 8th while Michael Bowden and guess who- James Russell finished off the 9th.

NOW THERE'LL BE NO HESITATING, I'M GETTING INTO THE SUN

Welcome to 3:05 starts Nate Schierholtz. Wether the sun being in his eyes aided Carlos Beltran's or Rob Johnson's triples is debatable. But it was clear he wasn't having any fun out there. With more 3:05 games scheduled for now and into the future defense in right field becomes even more important. Schierholtz has been very good defensively, and I expect him to adjust. So will Brian Bogusevic who seemed to take an odd route on the game winning  double.

WONDER TWIN POWERS ACTIVATE

Good day for the rebuild, as Rizzo and Castro continue to play well. Castro had a home run, which has been past due. And continues to have a better approach at the plate and added confidence in the field. Rizzo only went 1 for 4 but has been rock solid anchoring the defense. While pitch selection could be a little better. Rizzo looks like he's going to be pushing the batting average North. Both players, I expect, will welcome the break to take an actual break.

So the series is tied at one game apiece. Matt Garza takes the mound, everyone say it with me now, IN WHAT MIGHT BE HIS FINAL START AS A CUB, when he takes on the hairy Lance Lynn.Cubs haven't been outclassed in this series so far against the Cardinals, which is a vast improvement over the last time they played them. Still, this team isn't going to give the Cubs the easy opportunities the Brewers, Mets, and Mariners did. So an extra oomph is required these last two games before the Pearl Jam break. Here's hoping we see it. Onwards.

 

Boxscore

 

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  • Please I hope its his last good start

  • It was fun being in Chicago and at both games yesterday & today. First time at Wrigley in a few years. Indeed, Castro & Rizzo were looking good and seem to be on the upswing. Onwards!

  • Awesome. Glad you got back for a couple of games.

    Things are definitely trending in the right direction...

  • Baez.....dinger....woo hoo

  • Meanwhile, on the Farm:

    You just knew that if Vasquez kept throwing junk to Baez, he'd deposit it in the cheap seats.

  • Red Sox trade for LHP Matt Thornton.

    Takes them out of the running for J. Russell.

  • John, just wondering, have you assembled a depth chart recently? It would be interesting to see a listing by position, to get an idea of where they have the most and the least depth. With many of the best prospects at the lower levels of the system, I'd be curious to see it laid out with the prospects at each position, with those closest to the majors listed first. Then maybe you could include a number next to each of the top ranked prospects to indicate where each currently stands in the pecking order.

    You've mentioned that you see no reason why they can't be competitive in 2014, and I think they have the makings of a pretty nice rotation simply by hanging onto Garza and getting Baker healthy. I also think they have some nice components to a solid bullpen with Bowden, Parker, Strop, Russell, Rosscup, and Cabrera. But even with likely improvement by Castro and Rizzo, how do they go about upgrading the offense significantly enough to allow them to be in the playoff hunt next year?

  • In reply to WSorBust:

    "...how do they go about upgrading the offense significantly enough to allow them to be in the playoff hunt next year?"

    If they're able to trade Soriano, there are a good group of FA OFers that would like be an upgrade over him. Lake could be a platoon 3B/4th OFer next season. Vitters might also be given a shot at platooning with Valbuena. Those additions plus the aforementioned improvement from Castro, Rizzo and perhaps Welington Castillo would largely be where the offensive improvement would come from. But I think an improved bullpen would help just as much as an improved offense.

    Those two combined areas of improvement might be enough to get the Cubs to around .500. Playoffs? Maybe not. Competitive, which is the word John used? Quite possible. A lot depends on what they do this off-season.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    With a competent bullpen this year, we would already be at .500 this year.

    It's strange that I went to bed last night (in Kuwait) with the Cards leading 2-1 and woke up this morning hoping that we hadn't won but hadn't been blown away. All in all an ok game.

    After a good couple of weeks we are creeping up to around the place where our first round pick will not be a protected one. This I believe is essential to our plans so we pick up a top free agent.

    I don't understand why so many are high on trading Soriano. There are not many FA outfielders who will offer more production than Soriano has. Unless we get a high upside prospect for him, we may as well run his contract down as he has been a productive part of a team that should have been at least .500 this year. There is no point paying a large part of his salary to hit for somebody else for the sake of it.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    "With a competent bullpen this year, we would already be at .500 this year."

    Agreed, at least a lot closer to it.

    "There are not many FA outfielders who will offer more production than Soriano has."

    I disagree. Soriano's line so far this season is .261/.291 /.468 /.759. Sori will be 38 next season so some regression is likely. There are a lot of FA options next year that will likely be improvements over Soriano.

    Choo (31) .282 /.420 /.457/.877
    Ellsbury (30) .308/.372/.429/.801
    Morse (32) .251/.313/.454/.767
    McLouth (32) .280/.353/.407/.760
    Pence (31) .264/.308/.450/.758
    Crisp (34) .267/.349/.425/.774 (1 mill buyout)

    Injury bouncebacks (which we know this FO loves):
    Kubel (32) .267/.333/.460/.794 over his career
    Granderson (33) .262/.341/.492/.833 over his career
    Hart (32) .276/.334/.491/.824 over his career

    Place holders:
    Ibanez (42) .257/.306/.547/.854
    Beltran (37) .310/.348/.539/.887

  • In reply to Quedub:

    The only two outfielders on that list that I would consider are Choo and Ellsbury. Pence, Mr Skinny Legs, doesn't impress me that much, and the ages of the others are too advanced. They don't fit with being a contender two years from now.

  • In reply to Tinker Evers Chance:

    Wasn't necessarily advocating signing any of them. Just listing who was available.

    I doubt many of the free agents not named Choo, Ellsbury or Pence are going to get much more than two year contracts. Three tops. They wouldn't really be expected to be a part of a contending team in a starting role. No worry there.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Great figures and great stats... but...

    Sorano has 48 RBIs so far this season, and we are paying him $18million ish next season.

    He is already a sunk cost, as nobody will take on his salary or much above $3-4million of it, so there is no benefit to replacing him and adding to the bottom line especially with Almora/Soler 2 years away and Bryant/Rizzo/Vogelbach/Baez as the other outfielder if Bryant doesn't stick at 3rd, Vogelbach surprises us and we find out this year is growing pains at KC or Alcantara pushes out Baez to left field..

    The only player I would be looking at as a FA in the outfield next year is Choo if we keep our protected First Round Pick.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    If money matters more than winning to the Cubs over the 2-3 years, then yes. But Swallowing most of Soriano's contract to get a prospect and open up an OF spot for better production over the next few years would help the team win. Only Cubs ownership and management knows whether it would be worth it to them to do so.

    Of course, I wasn't arguing that. Only showing that there are indeed "many FA outfielders who will offer more production than Soriano has."

  • In reply to Quedub:

    If their potential improvement for 2014 is based up Vitters or Lake contributing by platooning with Valbuena, then I believe we would be in for another rough year. Vitters and Lake are only hitting around .270 in AAA and would only play maybe 25-30% as the RH component of a platoon.

    I realize you also stated that the OF is another area where the Cubs could possibly improve via the FA market but I'm not sure how much of an upgrade is possible over what they have now with Schierholtz and Sweeney.

  • Don't look now, but here comes Yeiper Castillo 2.0.

    After dominating High-A, Castillo struggled while getting his feet wet in AA. But since his 4th start on June 9th, he's thrown 22.2 innings giving up 15 hits, walking 11 and striking out 23 with an ERA of 2.38 and a WHIP 1.15.

    Put that together with his numbers at Daytona and his numbers are 49.2 IP, 34 H, 15 BB, 50 K, 2.36 ERA, 1.01 WHIP.

    At 24, he's a year old for AA, but he lost a year to injury, so he's not really behind the average development schedule. Considering he was signed as a minor league free agent, it looks like the Cubs got a guy with a shot for the cost of a minor league contract. I'll be keeping an eye on him.

  • Baez now 2-for-4 with a HR. Christian Villanueva has a double and a RBI. And the prodigal Nate Samson returns to play 2B for Tennessee tonight. Why?

    Starling Peralta might be finding it in Arizona. 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K tonight for him.

    It was the bad Paul Blackburn today. Inconsistency is okay from a 19-year-old. What is telling is how good is he when he's on. He's got plenty of time to learn to repeat it.

    Break out the Shawon-O-Meter. He's at it again. 3-for-5, 2 doubles. Inconsistency has not been a problem for Junior this season. He's batting .319 on the year and .316 in his last 10 games, getting on base in 9 out of his last 10 games.

  • Baez 4-for-8 on the day. Slump busted.

  • If there's two guys I'd like to see promoted to Chicago after the AS break it would be Schlitter & Moscoso... both guys were fabulous again today. Schlitter seems to be another Blake Parker type of guy that could help the pen & Moscoso has had some previous ML experience & done fairly well. I know Raley & Rusin are on the 40 man but they don't seem to be able to get it done when they are brought up.

  • Schlitter has been up already a couple of years ago and calling him awful then would be kind. As I recall he was lights out in AA/AAA before that call up. Has he changed anything since then...?

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    Uh, yeah. How about the fact Schlitter is 27 instead of 24. And you're going to judge the guy on an 8 inning stint in the majors that happened 3 years ago?

  • Not at all, I was asking what had changed as I haven't seen him pitch in a long time... I'm all for seeing these guys progress and develop. He was previously DFA'ed / waived by the Cubs so at the time they didn't think much of him after his 2010 stats.

    Personally I was happy to see him promoted from Iowa in 2010 after being the best guy in the bullpen at the time. It was a surprise to see him struggle after he was promoted.

  • In reply to Hustlelikereed:

    I would think Schlitter was DFA'ed like many prospects in order to clear him off the 40 man roster... I don't think it was because the Cubs didn't want him.
    And it's easy to look at his stats from 3 years ago, see the ERA was 12.38, and dismiss him as another AAAA guy that can't cut the big time. I'd rather research what actually happened in 2010 and see if there's more to Schlitter because, as you mentioned before, he was lights out in AA/AAA.
    In checking his log of 7 games, he had a couple scoreless outings against the Pirates at the end of June (won by Pitt. 2-0, 2-1) and was brought in during the seventh inning of a 12-0 blowout loss to the Reds on July 2nd where he gave up 5 runs in a 1/3 of an inning to mushroom his ERA to 15.00. Then he doesn't pitch for another 3 weeks, comes in a tenth inning tie game against St. Louis on 7/25, and gives up a run to take the loss. Quade then brings him in over the next week for mop up duty during blowout losses at Houston, Colorado, and Milwaukee where he gives up 2, 1, & 2 runs in games the Cubs lost 8-1, 17-2, & 18-1. The kid was probably the best pitcher the Cubs had going those days with scores like that. And that was the extent of Schlitter's experience with the Cubs.
    Look, Schlitter could be brought up again and fall on his face, but I don't think that one month call-up in 2010 was adequate enough to judge what he can do in the majors. With the new coaching staff and having a former teammate like Blake Parker on the team I think he has a better chance to succeed next time around. And no, I'm not a pal or relative- just a Cub fan who thinks a guy that performs well and pays some dues deserves a fair shot.

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