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"Manager Dale Sveum acknowledged Sunday morning that his players took notice of the fact that the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals adjusted their rotation so that two of their starters were pushed back to face opponents in series considered more challenging than theirs against the Chicago Cubs," Mark Gonzales writes for the Tribune.
The Cardinals pushed back Adam Wainwright so he could start against the Pirates on Tuesday, starting rookie Michael Wacha in his place. The Dodgers pushed back Zack Greinke so he could start against the Cardinals, using Stephen Fife instead.
To make matters worse, Dusty Baker is pushing himself back for the entire three-game series the Reds start with the Cubs tonight so he can concentrate on the following series against the Brewers. Neifi Perez will manage in his place.
The Week in Review: The Cubs lost two of three to the Phillies and looked awful doing it, then won two of three from the Cardinals and didn't look much better. It happens.
Week in Preview: The Reds and Cardinals each come in for three this week. At 23-33, no team has lost as many games at home as the Cubs. So strap it down.
The Second Basemen Report: Darwin Barney went 0-for-his-first-9 this week and finished on a 4-for-20 tear, though he did notch two two-RBI games in a row over the weekend. He also left five men on base in one of those games and another 16 in his last six games. With a .212 batting average (now up to .215) and a .264 OBP, Dale Sveum was asked this week why he didn't pinch hit for Barney late in games. "The guy gives you a battle up there and he'll put the ball in play in situations," Sveum said. "He's gotten some big hits for us - as big of hits as anybody in those situations." Not so sure about that. Barney's rate of grounding into double-plays has gone from 11 percent to 18 percent this season, and his average with runners in scoring position is .233.
The Third Basemen Report: Or . . . The Legend of Donnie Murphy.
The journeyman picked up off the scrap heap went 6-for-30 with seven RBI and instantly joined fellow legend Dioner Navarro as one of the teams few likable players.
Cody Ransom went 1-for-4 in his only start for the week but continues to exhibit bad body language whenever he screws up - it's never his fault. Watch.
Mike Olt, whom some thought would be in a Cubs uniform by now as the third baseman of the future, continues to struggle in Des Moines with a .194/.291/.381 slash line.
Josh Vitters, also in Des Moines, is on the DL - and the organization is none too pleased with him. ("By this time Josh Vitters should have been manning the hot corner for the Cubs," Bruce Miles writes for the Daily Herald.)
Christian Villanueva - whom The Cub Factor sorta likes - is in Tennessee; Kris Bryant is in Boise. Neither is close to being ready.
Wishing Upon A Starlin: The Cub Factor's enduring image of Starlin Castro this week is when he signaled to his teammates that he had just assisted in the first out of a particular inning when in fact it was the second. Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies watched it happen on replay but ignored it, perhaps fearing the backlash Bobby Valentine received for infamously tracking Castro's lack of, um, game awareness during a nationally televised game last season. Which is lame.
The Legend of Dioner Navarro: I mean, come on!
Also, The Cub Factor wrote this last week: "And by the way, there does not appear to be another viable catching prospect in the system."
Mad Merch: An autographed lineup card from one of the worst batting orders to ever stumble into a win in major-league history.
"The Cubs had their backup catcher in the cleanup spot (Dioner Navarro) on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park, followed by three players claimed off waivers (Thomas Neal, Cody Ransom, Cole Gillespie) and a utility infielder signed to a minor-league deal in April (Donnie Murphy)," noted Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago.
Laughable Headline of the Week: The Cub Factor can't decide if it's "Promising Cubs Bullpen Already Taking Shape For Next Season" or "Cubs Building Starting Depth" or "Cubs Defense Coming Along."
Deserted Cubs: Tony Campana is still hitting .292 in Reno. He's been nothing if not consistent.
Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of McDonald's tumbled as the 34-year-old Darnell dragged his .236 average at Iowa up to the big leagues because the Cubs simply had nobody else to choose from.
Sveum's Shadow: Dale Sveum's Five O'Clock Shadow remains at 6:30 p.m. because he won a game with the worst-ever lineup this week and took two of three from the Cardinals even though he knows how poorly his team played. And just like his Uncle Lou, he's not about to look a gift horse in the mouth but he also doesn't look forward to another year or two or three of cleaning up the stable.
Shark Tank: The Cub Factor has been telling you so all season.
The Cubs say they aren't concerned about Samardzija's workload, but it's not the workload per se that is the problem. He's ninth in the number of pitches thrown this season, but has the 24th worst WHIP in the majors - and is only .11 away from being in the top ten. See previous Shark Tank entries for our tracking of this matter.
Samardzija is also an overly intense competitor - which makes him his own worst enemy and, at times, a drag on his team.
Jumbotron Preview: Five-thousand-seven-hundred square-feet of the waiver wire.
Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til
next year 2015 2016 2017.
Over/Under: At-bats J.C. Boscan will see the rest of this year: +/- 20.
Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that even the bison burgers at Wrigley aren't projected to be any good for a few more years.
The Cub Factor: Unlike
Alfonso Soriano Starlin Castro, you can catch 'em all!
The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.
The Cub Factor welcomes your comments.