Theo dishes on Sveum and many things Cubs
MILWAUKEE -- We’ll get to a few things today in advance to Game 2 of the Cubs-Brewers series here at Miller Park. We had a chance to meet with team president Theo Epstein for about a half-hour. We’ll flesh it out in the paper tomorrow, but here are a few tidbits and highlights:
--Theo said he believes manager Dale Sveum has done a “remarkable” job in keeping the clubhouse together through two difficult season. Epstein did not say Sveum is on the hot seat, but he said the manager is being evaluated.
“Dale’s under contract through 2014,” Theo said. “If you’re asking me about that, at the end of the year, we go through a period of evaluation of all aspects of the organization: front-office decision-making, players, coaches, manager and we take the opportunity now with the bulk of the season behind us to discuss it internally.”
--Theo said the organization has faith in young player Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro. He said he doesn’t believe Rizzo is an “all-or-nothing” hitter and that Castro is someone the Cubs want to “be himself.”
--The Cubs are unlikely to make big splashes in the big-money free-agent market this winter.
“Given the needs we have and where we are and the likely price tags on the market, I don’t think we’re going to have the ability to add like multiple impact pieces in free agency,” Theo said. “We’re going to have to be, we’re going to have to take a multi-dimensional approach to changing things.
--As far as young players go, Theo said he expects Javier Baez to break spring training as the Class AAA Iowa shortstop and that the Cubs would deal with where he lands with the big club when Baez “knocks on the door.” He also said center fielder Albert Almora is getting healthy and is in Arizona getting ready for the Fall League. He also said the Cubs are planning to convert third baseman and former No. 1 draft pick Josh Vitters to left field.
We’ll have more on this later. Here are more notes from other fronts:
The Cubs are 3-5 over the first eight games of this season-long 11-game road trip. With last night’s lackluster 6-1 loss, they are 5-11 against the Brewers this year. The Cubs are 5-14 against the Reds and 6-10 against the Pirates. They’re 7-9 against the Cardinals, with three games left to play in St. Louis to end the season.
The Cubs have not turned in double-digit losses to four teams in a single season since 2002.
As you probably know by now, former Cubs pitcher Andrew Cashner pitched a complete-game 1-hitter against the Pirates Monday night. Cashner faced the minimum 27 batters. The Pirates’ Jose Tabata ruined Cashner’s bid for a perfect game with a single to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning at PNC Park. After Neil Walker flied out, Andrew McCutchen grounded into a double play.
The Cubs traded Cashner to the Padres on Jan. 6, 2012 for first baseman Anthony Rizzo. This season, Cashner is 10-8 with a 3.21 ERA and a WHIP of 1.15. He has pitched 168 innings, walking 47 and striking out 121.
Rizzo has a hitting line of .229/.324/.419 with 22 homers and 75 RBI.
Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the strides made by Cashner this season are “too many to mention.”
“The extreme focus,” Balsley told the paper. “He realizes he has special skills and a special talent. All the attention to detail and the steps forward we’re seeing are not by accident. Cashner has become locked in all the time. He’s getting better and better. And with each step forward, he wants to move to the next level.”
According to the paper, Cashner’s 1-hitter was the 27th in team history:
Jeff Samardzija goes for the Cubs tonight against Marco Estrada. Samardzija is 8-12 with a 4.44 ERA. Samardzija has pitched 194.2 innings and struck out 195. He is looking to become the first Cubs pitcher to reach both 200 innings and 200 strikeouts since Ryan Dempster in 2010. There are five pitchers who have done that this season: Detroit’s Max Scherzer, St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee and the White Sox’ Chris Sale.
The Cubs are 20-31 in games decided by 1 run. The 51 games decided by 1 run are tied for most in the National League and tied for third in the majors. Only the Marlins and White Sox have more 1-run losses than the Cubs. Each of those teams has 32 losses by 1 run. The Cubs are 34-47 in games decided by 2 runs or fewer.