Archive for April, 2013

Sounding Off On Roster Management

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

I am going to admit something to you. It’s a little embarrassing, but I feel like, in light of Jason Collins coming out as a homesexual, I need to come out with this secret that I’ve kept buried deep inside of me for way too long.

/Takes deep breath

I am a roster management addict. I am fully addicted to pouring over the roster make up and looking for ways to improve from not only outside of the organization via waivers, free agency and trades, but from within the organization via the farm. I can’t help it. I’ll be watching a game, see a player leave for some reason related to an injury and immediately begin to speculate on who the replacement might be and how Jed and Theo can make that work under the current CBA constraints. As a result of this crazy addiciton, I’ve come up with my ideal roster construnsruction and right now the Cubs are not following it.

Obviously you need to go in with all the starting position players filled as well as a rotation of five pitchers (don’t get me started on this one right now). From there, it’s a personal preference when it comes to constructing this roster for the other twelve spots.

Bench – Some would say that contruction of this would vary based on if you’re in the NL vs the AL, but I disagree. I build my roster the exact same way. The only difference is that it gives the AL manager a little more flexibility in how he uses the bench because the need for pinch hitting for the pitcher is not needed. I contruct my bench with six position players. This varies from the traditional bench of five or even four, but I do it for a reason. First, I carry an outfielder with the ability to play at least one of the corner spots, preferably the ability to play both. From there I also carry a centerfielder to back up my starter. Ideally one of those two backup outfields will have the ability to play multiple OF spots. I also carry a backup third baseman with the ability to play first if needed in a pinch or on a day off for the starter. I carry a backup middle infielder. I carry a backup catcher (if the backup 3B can’t cover first, I look for a catcher who can). That leaves me with the extra spot, which I liken to the flex position in fantasy football. I use this spot for a specialist of some sort, preferrably focused on speed and defense, in that order. The rationale is that I can use this player in a pinch late in the game as a runner, in an attempt to get my tying or winning run in scoring position. If I cannot find a player that fits this mold, I look for a third catcher, if and only if, my backup catcher has a bat I feel is valuable as a pinch hitter.

Bullpen – This one is short and sweet. Carrying 12 pitchers is ridiculous. It leads to some guy getting burried and forgotten at the end of the bullpen bench and as a result, rusting like the tin man. This year it’s Hector Rondon who is suffering as a result of the bloated pen. He’s been used in seven games this year, but has only thrown six pitches in the last week. It’s no way to develop a bullpen arm from within. I understand he needs to remain on the active roster due to his rule five status, but he’s pitched a lot better than someone like Shawn Camp, yet Camp continues to answer the phone when it rings. Carrying 11 pitchers solves this problem. In the event that someone gets tired or a game goes long, you call a fresh arm up and option a guy down. If you construct the pen with that flexibility, it doesn’t become an issue.

Maybe this is just me ranting, but I’m tired of people just following the mold when it comes to the way things are done in this game. Try something new. That is all.

/steps down from the soapbox

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Game 25 – Winning The Games They Should

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Box Score / Highlights

Star of the Game – Darwin Barney – .231 (WPA)


Jeff Samardzija
I’m of two minds about Jeff Samardzija so far in 2013. The optimistic side of me says that games like Monday night are what suggest Jeff can be an ace before long. It’s critical for an ace to be able to fight through a game with less than his best stuff – on Monday night, Samardzija definitely didn’t have his best stuff.

The pessimist in me (wants to cannibalize the optimist) believes that outings like Monday night occur too frequently for the former Notre Dame standout to ever be truly considered an ace. Except his first start of the year, which was truly great, Samardzija’s appearances since have been somewhere between solid and bad – but the common theme is they are too short. He’s simply not pitching deep enough into games.

He needs to throw more strikes – tonight he walked 4, struck out 8 but took 5 innings to plow through 101 pitches. It’s becoming a theme, last time out it was 6 innings 104 pitches; his second start this year was 105 pitches in 5.2 innings, and the third start was it was 100 pitches in 6 innings. The only time since Opening Day that he’s pitched into the 7th was against Milwaukee where he completed 7 innings, but gave up 5 runs in the process. It’s like someone had him study game tape of Rich Harden.

It’s especially worrying because the bullpen is so terrible; I pity Edwin Jackson. He can expect zero help tomorrow night after he is pulled from the game.

Scott Hairston & Cody Ransom
The former Padres hit back-to-back jacks in the 2nd against their former team. The Cubs were buoyed all night by the bottom of the order particularly with Ransom and Darwin Barney. The 6-7-8 spots produced all the runs for the Cubs and it’s a good thing, because…

Dave Sappelt
…leadoff ‘hitter’ Dave Sappelt sucks at this game called baseball. He’s started hitting leadoff 7 times so far this season, seeing 11, 7, 17, 19, 20, 10, 10 pitches in those respective starts. So only in 3 of 7 starts has he seen more than 11 pitches. He’s jumping at pitches, hacking wildly – almost hoping it sometimes seems, that his bat will miraculously make contact. *Nate Schierholtz saw 7 pitches in one PH at-bat tonight; Sappelt saw 10 pitches in 4 PAs.

With two out in the second, on the heels of a Samardzija sac bunt, Sappelt decided to swing at the first pitch and ground into the final out of the inning; because who cares if Jeff gets a chance to collect a breath? (it’s commonplace for even a mediocre leadoff hitter to drag their feet in such an at-bat – giving their pitcher every opportunity to catch his breath and ready himself to pitch again).

He led off the Cubs half of the inning in each of his other three at-bats, weakly grounding out to the left side every time. If he was hitting the ball, the lack of patience would be less problematic; but even Ian Stewart has been heard mocking Sappelt’s ability to get a hit. And Sappelt’s swing is too long and disjointed for a guy who doesn’t posses middle-of-the-order power. He’s merely a pedestrian fielder; the Cubs can do better with his roster spot.

Bullpen
So as not to be too much of a downer, I’ll say the bullpen was quite good tonight – especially Gregg. That has me highly suspicious of tomorrow night, but we’ll leave those troubles for tomorrow. Also, if the recap makes it feel like we lost this game, just know that it was the combination of Hairston, Ransom, and Barney and the bullpen work that pulled out the win. The rest of the team left a lot to be desired whether it was overall impatience at the top of the order (1-4 in the lineup), Castro’s odd error, or Samardzija aforementioned uninspiring performance, the Cubs scratched and clawed for this one, and not in a good way.

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MLB Draft – How To Make It Interesting

Monday, April 29th, 2013

The three-day NFL draft ended with pomp and circumstances on Saturday night with one of its most successful runs yet. Ian Rappaport of NFL Network reported during the second round on Friday night that over 20 million households tuned into an exciting first round in primetime on Thursday. Considering there was a lot less star power in this draft in comparison to past years, the NFL’s premeire event drew eye-popping numbers.

Amateur drafts have become more and more popular with each passing offseason. The NFL got things kicked off in the 1980′s and the growth of the NFL as the most popular sport in the the United States has helped build their draft’s brand.

The NBA lottery is a heavily watched event besides being one of the most boring half hours of television in sports during the year. Their draft follows suit with impressive numbers, mainly due to college basketball’s deep following. It also helps that they have a two-round, one-night affair that is easy to keep track of.

Without doing any research, the NHL draft is held around the same time as the NBA draft, but I know maybe one person that has ever tuned in to that event.

Bud Selig–or the minions under Selig–have tried to make the MLB event a more popular one since the inception of the MLB network, but with mixed results. It doesn’t help that World Series ratings have lowered significantly in the past decade, especially in championship series that have mid-market pulls.

While the focus is placed on football and basketball as the premiere sports in college athletics in terms of television contracts, baseball is a bit of the forgotten love. Unless you enjoy watching the Big 12 or SEC network, you probably aren’t sitting down to watch any of the top college teams play.

An even bigger up-hill climb for Major League Baseball is that half of their big-name prospects come from the high school ranks. ESPN started showing the occasional high school basketball when King James was still ballin’ in Ohio as an 18-year-old, but high school baseball hasn’t caught on as a luxury, late-night watch.

There is simply not enough known star power for the MLB to build upon their tv rating numbers for the draft anytime soon.

I always enjoy the live chat that happens during the MLB draft with guys like Keith Law and a few of the Baseball America guys, but even watching the first round on MLB Network is a snoozefest. Most of the analysts don’t study baseball prospects the way that NFL “draftniks” nerdily scout players all the way down to the small-school level.

So I ask you, the VFTB peanut gallery, what would you do to change the MLB Draft and make it more watchable?

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Game 24 – The Sweep That Almost Was

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Box Score / Highlights

Star of the Game – Giancarlo Stanton – .471 (WPA)


Coming into the series, the Cubs and Marlins have met for a four game set seven times. None of those were won by a sweep. This weekend’s series continued that trend as the Marlins salvaged a game thanks to a hint of offense, something they hadn’t gotten much of all series.

It’s  a little frustrating to not come away with a series sweep, but a series win is a start. Carlos Villanueva, who was outstanding coming into the game, tossed is first so so start, but still managed to get through six innings while allowing just four runs and left with his team down just a run. He kept it close, which is what you want from your starter. Unfortunately, this year we need the starter to either go the distance or be supported by a plethora of runs to the extent that the bullpen can’t give it away. It didn’t happen and we saw a loss because of it. Not much other major things to report, so we’ll end with some minor notes and noticings from the game.

  • Anthony Rizzo continues to hit the ball hard and I believe he’s going to have a huge series against the Padres. He has a chance to tie Alfonso Soriano for most home runs by a Cub in April. The record is 10 and he stands at eight.
  • Through the first two games of the series, the Cubs really did a good job minimizing Stanton. When you look at their lineup, he’s essentially a one man show. I was amazed at how few players on that team that I knew. Next time you get discouraged by our rebuilding process and the lack of talent, watch a Marlins game and be encouraged.
  • The centerfield camera is really good for alignment with the plate. It’s almost completely straight away.

Umpire Report

Jim Joyce had the plate on Sunday. You might remember him from such games as the Gallaraga “perfect game” that wasn’t. What made me laugh is that the Marlins broadcast crew raved about Joyce and said he was one of the most accurate in the game. When you’re a broadcaster, apparently you can say whatever you want without looking up the numbers to make sure they support your claim. A quick look at the data since 2009 shows that Joyce ranks 40th for correct call rate behind the plate. An 82.7% correct call rate was what he put up today, which equates to a below average day behind the plate. His strike zone was quite accurately vertically. It was horizontally that he got a little crazy. The outside pitches were particularly generous to the pitchers.

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Game 23 – They Come in Threes

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

 

Box Score / Highlights

Star of the Game – David DeJesus – .271 (WPA)


Getting Out-Cub’d

It’s no secret that the Cubs have been a little less than stellar in most aspects of the game up to this point in the season, so it was nice that game started off with a couple blunders that worked in our favor. The ball started rolling when David DeJesus was able to reach third base on Stanton’s fifth (5th!) error of the young season. DeJesus then scored on a wild pitch to put the Cubs up 1-0 in the first.

Later in the game, Castillo reached base on a bloop that could have (should have) easily been caught, but it found some green and Wellington reached safely.

The Marlins defense was shoddy and the offense was limited. It was encouraging to see that the Cubs aren’t the only ones struggling right now. It’s easy to become so obsessed with our own team’s shortcomings that we miss the fact that others struggle as much as we do.

Nate Schierholtz

I’m not sure about you folks, but I absolutely adore Nate Schierholtz. Aside from getting caught stealing second, he played an exceptional game. He doubled to lead off the second inning and scored on a Valbuena single. He made a spectacular catch in right field and drew a walk.

It seems that he’s been our most consistent performer at the plate and in the field. I don’t think anyone would have predicted that he would be among the top 3 in all offensive categories. I know it’s early, but he’s been so great so far this season. So great, in fact, that he’s taken residence in the place that Fast Tony left in my heart (Thank you, Theo).

Pitching

Travis Wood continued the quality starts trend, going 6 innings, allowing three hits and one walk. Two of the hits he gave up were solo home runs, one to Stanton and one to Olivo. Stanton’s home run was… huge. It went over the scoreboard in left field.

Those two home runs were the only mistakes that Wood made, and the only runs the Cubs allowed.

The bullpen was able to hold the Marlins to two runs.  Kameron Loe pitched a scoreless frame, Russel had a decent 2/3, and Marmol owes Castro big time for having his back in the 8th.

Kevin Gregg owned the ninth. No runs. No hits. No walks. One strikeout. I was shocked. The game ended. Raise the W flag. Gregg with the save! I was stunned. Any time that Len says, “Gregg is up in the bullpen,” I die a little on the inside. But tonight’s performance was more than acceptable. If he keeps it up, maybe the Cubs can actually have a real closer. But until then, we’ll just keep using the closer rotation until we find something that works.

Closing Thoughts:

It’s nice to have a little win streak going for us. Hopefully this little boost will increase the team’s morale and guys will start hitting with runners on – we left 17 men on base and were 2-for-8 with RISP. 17 LOB is a lot. It’s good that guys are getting on base, but they have to come home soon, right? I’ve got my fingers crossed that Rizzo starts hitting something other than sporadic home runs and that Barney can get his average up to at least .230 by the All Star Break.

Overall, I’m happy with tonight’s game. It wasn’t perfect, but it looks like things are starting to kind of come together for the Cubs. An upward trend is looming and we caught tiny glimpses tonight. There is hope for us yet!

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Game 22 – A Win Streak Begins

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Box Score / Highlights

Star of the Game – Anthony Rizzo – .321 (WPA)


BREAKING NEWS – The Cubs have a win streak. Last night a win meant the first streak of the season. Nevermind that it comes at the hands of the Marlins. A streak is a streak.

Watching the game yesterday, I came away with two main talking points. If you’ve read my recaps before, you know that I don’t really focus on retelling you what happened in the game. You have eyes and can watch the game yourself. You don’t need me to repeat it back to you. Instead, I try to look for topics to discuss.

A Glimplse of what Rizzo can be – He’s been criticized a great deal this year for the somewhat cold start. At times he’s looked confused at the plate and has struck out more than you’d like to see, but last night we caught a look at the potential that he has. Coming into the game, Rizzo was just 1-for-19 and fresh off an 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on Thursday. He more than made up for that lack of success with a pair of two run bombs to singlehandedly provide all the offense that would be needed in the game.

I’m not going to sit here and say that I know Rizzo is going to be a hall of fame caliber player in his career. No one can project that. What this is important is to set realistic expectations for this season as his first full season in the Majors, and those can’t be for him to win the MVP. We need need to see improvement and progression. There are a few things I’m looking for from Rizzo. If I can see improvement in these areas, I’ll continue to be encouraged an excited about the future.

First is his strikeout rate. We saw in 2011, when he was in the Padres system, a strikeout rate of 21.5% in AAA and 30.1% for the big league club. Last year those numbers hovered around 17% between ML and Iowa combined. For Rizzo, and for any player in general, that’s a huge step forward. This year it’s not gone as well, but if he can get that strikeout rate around 15%, I’ll be thrilled as the development we’ve seen from him in the short time he’s been here.

Second is his walk rate. I want him at or above 10% in this area. By decreasing the strike outs and increasing the walks, it shows that the plate discipline is growing. That should help that power continue to translate to run production. I don’t expect him to be an on base machine like a Joey Votto, but if we can see him just make pitchers work a little harder I’ll be happy.

Third is the power. You might say that third should be the batting average, which I’ll admit is low at this point (.200), but if you look at his BABIP you’ll see that the balls just aren’t finding the holes right now. His BABIP is at .176. That’s going to improve and we’ll see the average increase. I say that third is power because this team doesn’t have a lot of it. Rizzo is projected to be a middle of the order bat and with that needs to come power production. Last season we saw a combined 38 home runs between AAA and ML. It’s tough to just put that as his bench mark since half of those homers came against minor league pitchers, but I think it’s reasonable to expect 30+. That’s what I am setting as the expectation.

Scott Feldman looked much better – His first few outings have been less than desireable and it was looking like his starting rotation spot might be in jepopardy when (and if) Matt Garza returns. Last night he looked really good, with good movement and bite on his pitches. It’s an encouraging sign. He’s not going to be a guy that overpowers you with strikeouts. He’s a guy that tends to throw strikes and wins by pitching to contact. It’s not ideal, but last night it got the job done.

UMPIRE REPORT

After each game I’m assigned to recap, we take a look at the success of the home plate umpire. Last night’s man in blue was Joe Wolf, who had less than a stellar night making judgement calls behind the plate and came in with a correct call rate around 77%. That’s really below average. Let’s take a look at the heat maps that tell the story.

What you’ll see in this first map is that Wolf was all over the place with his strike zone. It was wide. However, the next graphs give you a little bit better picture as we see that it was primarily wide to the righties.

 

As a result, we see a correct call rate for the night that was less than stellar. Not a good night for the man in blue behind the plate.

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Three Up, Three Down

Friday, April 26th, 2013

(Through games of 4/24, minimum 50 plate appearances)

Three Up

Rock Shoulders, 1B/DH
Age 21, Single A
.410/.486/.672, 1.158 OPS, 8 XBH
12.9% BB, 18.6% K, .477 BABIP

The best name in the minors is crushing it down in Kane County. He is a bit older than most legit prospects (he has at least one teammate over 2 years younger), but we can’t argue with the results so far. Good walk rate, respectable K rate, and good power, but as a 1B he will have to hit in AA to get any prospect love.

Jorge Soler, RF
Age 21, Advanced A
.304/.396/.500, .896 OPS, 5 XBH
13.2% BB, 17.0% K, .343 BABIP

The BABIP isn’t as outrageous as Rock’s currently is, so I’m much more confident that Soler can continue to put up these numbers moving forward. I am loving the BB/K ratio so far; enough that it would cement his status as my #1 Cub prospect.

Arismendy Alcantara, SS/2B
Age 21, Double A
.288/.370/.463, .832 OPS, 6 XBH, 12/12 SB
11.8% BB, 22.6% K, .339 BABIP

The 4th youngest player in the Southern League is showing all the tools. Despite the age, he is tied for the organization lead with Rock Shoulders with four home runs. Strikeout rate is a bit high, but that doesn’t worry me because of his age and his ability to draw a walk. I think he jumps into next year’s Top 100 with ease.

Three Down

Christian Villanueva, 3B
Age 22, Double A
.225/.295/.352, .647 OPS, 7 XBH
7.7% BB, 17.9% K, .268 BABIP

Not such a great start but I don’t think it’s as bad as it looks. The average line in AA is 235/318/346 (which makes Alcantara’s start even more impressive), so Villanueva is only a little below average so far. The BABIP is low, walk rate is average, and the K rate is respectable…with his good defense at 3B, he just needs to be an average hitter and I think he’ll be a little better than that when the season is over.

Gioskar Amaya, 2B
Age 20, Single A
.258/.288/.371, .659 OPS, 5 XBH
4.5% BB, 24.2% K, .340 BABIP

This is why I include BABIP. I don’t believe Amaya’s numbers are going to improve all that much unless something changes in his approach. Low walks, high K’s, and a high BABIP with such a low batting average is a baaaaaaad combination.

Javier Baez, SS
Age 20, Advanced A
.225/.253/.438, .690 OPS, 9 XBH
3.4% BB, 28.7% K, .273 BABIP

The biggest disappointment so far in the early going is the Cubs Top Prospect. He’s hitting for power, but he’s not walking and he’s striking out at a near Brett Jackson-like pace. He will not succeed with these BB and K rates. He’s the 5th youngest player in the Florida State League, so I’m not freaking out or anything, but this is about as poor a start as I could have imagined from Baez.

One note about the minors so far: There were 34 position player prospects with 30 or more plate appearances and half of those had walk rates of 10% or more. There were only four prospects with walk rates under 7%. Without looking into it, that seems like a 180 degree turn and, to me, is evidence of the change in philosophy for the organization. If only our top prospect could follow the lead.

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Game 21 – Finally A Weaker Opponent

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Box Score / Highlights

Star of the Game – Luis Valbuena – .340 (WPA)


Darwin Barney
Defense was on display for the Cubs on Thursday night in Miami, and it all started with Gold Glove 2B Darwin Barney. He made two very nice plays here and here. The flip to Castro was sensational, that’s the only way to record an out with Pierre running in that situation, and if they miss it the bases are loaded.

Welington Castillo
Castillo’s play also came with Pierre at the plate. A poor sacrifice bunt attempt saw Castillo aggressively going after the lead runner at third base in the ninth inning. Again, if he misses this play or is a split-second late with the throw, the bases are loaded and Marmol has no outs.

Hector Rondon
Sometimes it’s just as important to be lucky. And Rondon certainly was as he snagged this liner.

Nice Win
The Cubs jumped out to an early lead when Castro drove in DeJesus who led the game with a double. Edwin Jackson pitched 6 total innings, 3 of which were good, 3 of which weren’t so good. Jackson immediately gave the run back to the Marlins in the bottom of the first…on a bases loaded walk. The Marlins tagged him for a pair of runs in the 2nd. But back-to-back doubles in the fourth from Castillo and Schierholtz plus a sixth inning HR from Schierholtz left the game tied when Jackson exited. He is credited with a quality start, only in the statistical sense however, it was a mediocre outing.

Luis Valbuena was the Cubs hero, hitting a solo HR that proved to be the final difference. It was almost another case of taking a late lead only to eventually lose when Marmol issued a walk and a single before Pierre’s failed bunt attempt.  Carlos turned it around and recorded the final two outs without incident.  Cubs Win!

Other Notes
Matt Garza is scheduled to throw long toss on Friday. That’s because he was scratched from his rehab start in Double-A on Wednesday. The Cubs are blaming the missed start on a ‘dead arm’ – and that shouldn’t be concerning at all for a guy who hasn’t pitched in the majors since last July. He’s a comebacking line drive to the torso away from being adopted by Mark Prior.

Ian Stewart is trying to find his swing in Triple-A. May I politely suggest that instead of wasting time trying to find his swing, he should steal someone else’s. Stewart is “healthy and ready to go” and we know this because he’s bashing the ball in AAA. Hitting .083 (2-for-24) I’d argue that he’s found his swing, it’s probably just best to promote him now before he goes into a slump.

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Northside Archives: Worse Beginnings

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

This season has started quite poorly for the Cubs. Be it errors, a lack of offense, or the clowns paid to sit in the bullpen and blow games, the Cubs find a way to lose nearly every day. There was a time, though, when the Cubs lost EVERY day…or at least every day they played.

Return From The Strike
The Cubs started the post-strike era with many new faces, including manager Jim Riggleman. He was brought in to replace Tom Treblehorn after the 1994 season. The 1995 Cubs were nothing to write home about, but they did have 30-30 man Sammy Sosa. Finishing 73-71 they were mathematically in the race right to the season’s final series eventually losing the Wild Card to the Rockies and finishing just behind the Astros for 3rd place in the Central. That performance helped coax Ryne Sandberg out of retirement for the 1996 season. On paper the Cubs were set to be better in ’96, but some bad breaks along the way saddled them with a 76-86 record (that Bill James says should’ve been 81-81). So the Cubs got a bit younger during 1997, mixing in youth at several positions – most notably 3B Kevin Orie.

1997
But Terry Mulholland got the ball on Opening Day, and that should’ve been a massive warning sign. He was charged with beating the Florida Marlins, a franchise that had loaded up on free agents and turned the team over to new manager Jim Leyland. The Cubs lost that first game to Kevin Brown and the Marlins, but they couldn’t have imagined their losing would continue uninterrupted for so long. The went on to lose 4-2, 4-3, and 8-2 in a sweep at the hands of the eventual World Series Champion Marlins – they never led in the series. In fact, the Cubs would not hold a lead until the 6th inning of the season’s 4th game. They promptly gave it right back in the bottom of the inning. They’d go on to lose that game to the Braves with the help of an untimely error from the SS and a crappy appearance by the washed up bullpen. This is still 1997 we’re talking about, even though it might seem like 2013.

The Braves would finish off the sweep with wins of 11-5 and a 4-0 shutout. With the lovely MLB schedule, the Cubs found themselves then playing their home opener against the very same Florida Marlins. This time it was a 5-3 loss, followed two days later (another scheduling stroke of genius) by a 1-0 shutout. When the Braves followed the Marlins into Wrigley Field, Cubs fans wanted no part of déjà vu. But that’s what they got; a 2-1 loss followed by a 6-4 defeat leaving the Cubs with a horrific 0-10 to start the season. Yes, all the losses came to the eventual World Series Champion and the team that won the Marlins division in the regular season.

So when the Rockies came to town on April 15th, the Cubs were happy to see a new opponent; and possibly register their first victory. Instead they got a 10-7 defeat followed by a 4-0 shutout. Another new opponent would be needed if the Cubs were to win a game. But the Mets came to town and brought rain with them; the rainout provided the Cubs an extra day to mull over their 0-12 start. It also was the opportunity they needed to finally record a victory. But the Cubs lost the first game of the series 6-3 and the first game of the re-scheduled doubleheader 8-2. At 0-14, the Cubs went into the nightcap with very little hope and even fewer fans. Only a paid attendance of 18,484 saw the Cubs score 2 in the sixth and 2 in the seventh on their way to beating the Mets and Dave Mlicki 4-3. There would be some anxious moments when Turk Wendell couldn’t find the strike zone, surrendered two runs, and ended only closed out the game when the tying run stood at second base – but it was a victory nonetheless.

It took 20 days to lose 14 games and get that first win. Over the following 20 days, the Cubs would go 9-10. After the initial losing streak ended, that team went 67-80 the rest of the way, so just remember there’s a lot of baseball still to be played.

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