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Misaligned Incentives

Here's the problem with Jeff Samardzija throwing 126 pitches against the White Sox last week: According to Theo Epstein, it doesn't matter whether the Cubs win 68 or 73 games this year.

So why is Ricky Renteria trying so hard to win that game that he pushes him past what he acknowledges was his pitch limit?

If the game mattered, that would be one thing. And even still, if this was a potential playoff team, you'd want to keep Samardzija fresh for late in the season.

But the game did not matter. It didn't even matter to show Samardzija's trade value; it only endangered it.

Misaligned incentives all the way around.

The Week In Review: The Cubs dropped three of four to the White Sox and got swept by the Braves before exploding for 17 runs last night to rout the Cardinals, thereby filling their May quota in one fell swoop.

The Week In Preview: Seventeen runs in one game may look good, but when all is said and done they can - and most likely will - still lose three of four in St. Louis. Then it's home to face Matt Garza and the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers.

Wrigley Is 100 Celebration: The Cubs' team batting average is .235, but as part of the season-long promotion of their ballpark, they will try to get it down to .100 by season's end - in which case everyone wins a free taco.

Theo Condescension Meter: 9.

No movement due to keeping his mouth shut this week.

Jed Hoyer Condescension Meter: 10.

First, he's a liar. Consider this story from Carrie Muskat at MLB.com last Friday:

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Thursday the subject of pitch counts regarding Jeff Samardzija, who threw a career-high 126 pitches Monday night, is a "non-story" and not worth discussing any more.

Samardzija threw that many pitches over nine innings against the White Sox at Wrigley Field. The Cubs right-hander did not get a decision in a 3-1, 12-inning loss. Cubs manager Rick Renteria and pitching coach Chris Bosio wanted to keep Samardzija in the game as long as possible in hopes of getting him his first victory in his seventh start.

"It's Thursday," Hoyer told reporters at U.S. Cellular Field. "We're talking about something that happened on Monday. You look at the comments that Rick made and I made, they're almost identical. To me, that's a non-story."

Renteria was asked before Thursday's game if he had talked to Hoyer about Samardzija, and said no.

"I talk to Rick every day about pitcher usage, bullpen usage, starter usage," Hoyer said. "Our conversation the day after that outing was really not that much different. I think all three of us said individually when asked about 126 pitches, he said, 'Am I going to do it every time out? No.'

"No one, Theo [Epstein, president of baseball operations] and me included, had a problem with [Samardzija] throwing 126 on Monday night," Hoyer said. "But I think all three of us have said individually that that's something that's not going to happen every time out.

"If you read all of our comments, I don't think any comment was really an outlier," Hoyer said. "It's just a story that should probably die."

Okay. Now consider what Hoyer said three days earlier: "You don't like to see a guy get (his pitch count) up that high . . . Certainly after an outing like that, we're all going to sit down and discuss it."

Also, Hoyer doesn't get to decide what is and what isn't a story.

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Plus, this:

"Certainly, part of our payroll going down a little bit is right now our ticket revenue isn't where it has been."

So the team isn't spending on major-league payroll because not enough fans are shelling out hard-earned dollars on the worst squads the woebegone franchise has ever dared to field, making them even worse?

Is Hoyer aware that his employer has a net worth well over a billion dollars?

Prospects Are Suspects: ESPN analyst Rick Sutcliffe told a national audience last week that if the Cubs were really trying to win, Javy Baez would've opened the season batting third.

Um, okay.

In 26 games at Iowa, Baez's slash line is .153/.245/.276. He has 40 strikeouts in 98 at-bats. He's committed six errors.

Come to think of it, it actually is a wonder he's not with the big-league club.

That's Ricky: It's a non-story that the manager himself says he pushed the team's most valuable trade asset to the limit in a game that didn't matter?

"I put myself in a no-win situation potentially," said Renteria, who admitted Tuesday that he had a 125-pitch limit in mind as Samardzija took the mound for the ninth and that Dayan Viciedo would have been the final batter for Samardzija no matter what.

"If he doesn't get that double play, I'm not going to let him face the next hitter," Renteria said. "I've got to think about his health, his well-being, and the pitches he's thrown."

That also doesn't jibe with Hoyer's contention that everyone's statements aligned.

But also:

Renteria said he "wasn't aware" of all the attention generated by Samardzija's comments.

"I can't speak to it because, again, I don't read the paper," Renteria said. "I didn't know any of that was going on."

Um, the budget is so tight they won't pay for a subscription? Or do you prefer ignorance as a strategy?

Since you don't read, Ricky, let me fill you in on something: One, Dale Sveum didn't read the news either. It showed, as he often appeared in the dark and at odds with his bosses until the very day he was fired.

Oh, and also, that means you missed this reminder: "A front office that fired manager Grady Little in Boston a decade ago for allowing Pedro Martinez to pitch longer than advised in a playoff game watched anxiously."

Laughable Headline Of The Week: Ugly Triple-A Start Can Be Good for Javier Baez.

Yes, so much so that we're all rooting for Kris Bryant to go in the tank next.

Mad Merch: The first 10,000 fans to the ballpark on Friday will get a Babe Ruth Called Shot bobblehead. Only at Wrigley do the promotions celebrate the historic moments of the opposition.

Billy Cub vs. Clark Cub: Liars!

Advantage: Billy.

The Junior Lake Show: Homered, doubled twice and drove in six runs against the Cardinals. Also committed a bone-headed error. Yes! That's why we love him here; he keeps both teams in the game.

He's on pace to hit 17 HRs and drive in 50 - a pace dictated by his limited playing time. Free Junior Lake!

Mustache Wisdom: "Cubs players were wearing new T-shirts, courtesy of pitcher Edwin Jackson, that feature a picture of Carlos Villanueva and his curly mustache on front and some of the pitcher's favorite sayings on back," Muskat reported Friday.

"It's the second version of the T-shirt, which the players also wore last year. This season, Jackson had two colors done - blue and a bright citron. Not all of the 10 sayings are printable, but they do include such Villanueva favorites as 'I'm the glue' and 'Whatever.'"

Wishing Upon A Starlin: Starlin Castro has 5 HRs and 19 RBIs after in 148 at-bats. Junior Lake 4 HRs and 14 RBIs in 98 at-bats. Castro is the new Cubs' clean-up hitter.

Ameritrade Stock Pick of the Week: Shares of Jed Hoyer are trading at a higher volume as he threatens to become an even bigger dick than Theo. We caution sitting tight, however, as Theo is likely to have more staying power than Hoyer.

Shark Tank: "It's an on-field issue for uniformed personnel."

What is this, the Army?

Besides that, it became an off-field issue for civilians the second you signed that first $10 million contract.

Jumbotron Preview: 5,700 square-feet of Javy Baez setting the team's single-season strikeout record.

Kubs Kalender: Wait 'til next year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020.

Over/Under: Number of pitches Samardzija throws in his next start: +/- 60.

Beachwood Sabermetrics: A complex algorithm performed by The Cub Factor staff using all historical data made available by Major League Baseball has determined that Jeff Samardzija will get hurt before the Cubs trade him.
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Hashtag Cubs Mother's Day Special.


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The Cub Factor: Unlike Alfonso Soriano Starlin Castro, you can catch 'em all!

The White Sox Report: Know the enemy.

Fantasy Fix: A Crosstown Couple.

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