Last night the Cubs got a win. We saw a great outing from Kyle Hendricks, little to no offense again, and a save by Jason Motte. There is a lot there to talk about. Tomorrow I have a post going up with what I want to see from the Cubs in the month of July when it comes to improving the team before the deadline. Until then, I want to hear what you would suggest to Theo and Jed to improve this team. Be realistic and specific. Don’t just say “get another starting pitcher”. If you were hired as a consultant, make a few recommendations. Perhaps they don’t even involve bringing in someone from outside the organization. Be creative and make some suggestions.
The older I get, the more I realize that baseball, while I love it, is not all that important in the grand scheme of things. So, to be obsessed over whether or not Pete Rose deserves to be reinstated to the game or voted into the hall of fame, to me, seems silly. I posted that on Twitter and got some less than favorable responses, as you might expect, but when you think about it, it really doesn’t affect us at all. Why do we care so much?
If you pin me down and make me choose a side, I will say that I think Pete deserves the punishment he has received because he has broken the first rule they teach you when you’re in the game. If you walk into a clubhouse, it’s clearly posted for all to see. He knew he took a risk when he did it, and doesn’t like the consequences of the result. To make matters worse, he has never truly been honest with everyone until more comes out, and then he admits to that. He’s a slimeball and I am fine with him being banned from baseball. Now, that said, I think he deserves a shot to be elected to the hall of fame, and here is why. The Baseball Hall of Fame is not directly affiliated with MLB. It is a completely separated entity, though it basically works in lock step with MLB and it’s wishes. Personally, if we put Pete on the ballot and let the writers decide, we could end the discussion.
- Kyle Schwarber and C.J. Edwards (I refuse to call him Carl), have been selected to participate in the Futures game during All Star Weekend.
- The Cubs announced more draft pick signings yesterday, including Donnie Dewees, the 2nd round pick
THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY
1960 – With help of Ron Santo‚ making his major league debut‚ the Cubs sweep a doubleheader from first-place Pittsburgh, 7-5 and 7-6. The rookie third baseman goes 3-for-7, driving in five runs during the twin bill at Forbes Field.
1966 – Ron Santo is struck in the face by a pitch thrown by Mets’ starter Jack Fisher. The Cubs third baseman’s fractured cheek, which will be operated on tomorrow, ends his record consecutive streak at the hot corner at 390 games, but his 27-game hitting streak, one shy of the franchise mark, stays intact with a first-inning single.
DEBUT OF A HALL OF FAMER?
Last night, Kyle Schwarber made his first start in the Majors at DH and let’s just say it went well. His first at bat resulted in an RBI triple and he finished the night with four hits, two runs scored and two RBI. My question to you today is twofold. First: If you had to place money right now on a yes or no answer, is Schwarber in the Hall of Fame thirty years from now? My second question is: What would it take for him to do over the next few games this weekend for Jed and Theo to not option him back to AAA and instead leave him with the big club the remainder of the year?
ROSSCUP TO THE DL
As Jared mentioned yesterday, Zach Rosscup injured his shoulder and had to be placed on the DL. In his place, Yoervis Medina was recalled. He was promptly asked to pitch last night and threw two scoreless innings to close out the game. Medina was brought in from the Mariners for Welington Castillo in May and has appeared in 10 games for Iowa, producing a 2.57 ERA in his last six relief appearances dating to May 31. Hopefully he will be the lightning in the bottle the pen needs as we wait for Neil Ramirez to return.
THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY
2002 – In the first major league game to feature four players with 400 career homers, the Cubs beat the Rangers, 4-3, when Alex Gonzalez hits a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth inning. Sammy Sosa (475), Fred McGriff (459) and Juan Gonzalez (401) watched Rafael Palmeiro add his 460th home run to the total.
2005 – Derek Jeter, who will average 15 home runs during 20-year career, hits his only major league grand slam in his 156th plate appearances with the bases loaded. The 30 year-old All-Star shortstop, who collects two round-trippers in the Bombers’ 8-1 victory over the Cubs at Yankee Stadium, clears the bases in the sixth inning with a blast off Joe Borowski that clears the the fence in left-center field.
2006 – In a game in which veteran hurler Kenny Rogers wins his 200th career victory, the Tigers go yard eight times to set a club record. Cubs starter Mark Prior, who recently returned from the 60-day disabled list, gives up three of the home runs in the 6-run first inning of the 12-3 barrage at Wrigley Field.
Interleague action used to be a special time of the season when baseball bettors got a break from the norm. Now, the American and National Leagues are clashing on a weekly basis. If you’re doing some sportsbook online betting when the AL meets the NL, here are three teams that have dominated interleague play so far this season:
Kansas City Royals (5-2 vs. NL)
The reigning American League champs have rep’d the Junior Circuit when clashing with the NL this season – perhaps getting revenge for a loss to the Giants in last year’s World Series. The Royals have met the Reds, Cardinals and Cubs in interleague play so far, outscoring those NL foes 28-15. Kansas City is picking up where it left off against the NL last season, when the Royals finished 15-5 versus the National League. Following its current series with Minnesota, KC opens a seven-game interleague span at St. Louis and Milwaukee.
Houston Astros (4-1 vs. NL)
It would make sense that the Astros would do well against the Senior Circuit, having played in the National League before joining the AL West in 2013. Houston swept a three-game series in San Diego then split a two-game set with the Giants last month, outscoring those NL opponents 35-20 and going 4-1 Over/Under in those interleague tilts. The Astros have three home games with Colorado coming up next week then won’t see another NL team until Arizona in late July.
San Francisco Giants (4-1 vs. AL)
The Giants have proven they can handle the very best in the American League with three World Series wins in the past five seasons. If you’re doing some sportsbook online betting, you may have to pay a premium for San Francisco in these interleague matchups, having been priced as a favorite in each game of their three-game sweep of the Angels to start May. The Giants were, however, slight dogs splitting against Houston. San Francisco hasn’t always been great against the AL in the regular season, with a 16-24 record the past two years. Its next interleague action comes via a home-and-home four-game set with Seattle next week.
After a lot of debate, I’ve decided to scrap the game recap concept. In 12+ years of writing on the blog, it’s my least favorite post to write. I’ve always looked at them as talking about the game and commenting on it because most of you have already watched it. As a result, a lot of nights it’s tough to really find anything meaningful to talk about. That said, we’re going to a Morning News post in the AM.
CUBS SELECT IAN HAPP IN THE 1ST ROUND – I watched the MLB Network coverage on Monday to see who the Cubs would select. It’s crazy to think how far the MLB draft has come that it’s now televised nationally considering it used to be done as a conference call for the 30 clubs. I was amused at how the analysts were genuinely surprised to see the Cubs take another hitter. If you’re going to be a draft “expert”, you should have at least researched the Cubs a little. The theme they have gone with is to take a hitter, stockpile hitters, and load up on pitchers later in the draft in an effort to play the lottery of arms. The result has been Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant. That’s a pretty nice haul right there. I don’t consider myself to be a draft expert, but everything I’ve read says that Happ is a great bat, especially considering where he was picked, and he should move quickly since he’s a college hitter. I like the pick.
WELCOME TO THE CUBS RAFAEL SORIANO – I was a little nervous when rumors surfaced earlier this year that the Cubs were kicking the tires on Rafael Soriano because I felt they would end up overpaying dramatically. The deal ends up being a minor league deal with a $4.1 million big league deal should he get called up. It has another $4 million in performance incentives available. If he is what we hope he is, a guy that can come in and make a huge difference in the late innings, it’s the going rate for a closer and probably even less than the going rate. If not, he’s a $4 mil lottery ticket for a big market club that can afford it given the low amount of team payroll and new revenue streams. I like the move.
ARE THE CUBS KICKING THE TIRES ON JONATHAN PAPELBON? – There are rumors that the Cubs and Blue Jays have had conversations with the Phillies about trading for Jonathan Papelbon and that the Phillies are willing to eat money to get a better prospect. If I’m the Cubs, I’m eating the money and giving up a few lesser prospects instead. Papelbon would be a great improvement to the pen as well and, when Neil Ramirez comes back, would make this pen really lethal. I like the rumor.
RIGHT FIELD BLEACHERS ARE OPENING TONIGHT – I have to praise the team for giving us two accurate timelines on the bleachers once they realized they were behind scheduled and wouldn’t be done for opening day. I mocked them and predicted that they would miss the projected timeline for June, but all systems are a go and the right field bleachers will be open tonight for the series with the Reds. That should make ‘ol Marty Brennaman quite happy. We all know he loves Cub fans, especially those that hang out in the bleachers. It will be nice to finally have a full crowd, especially at a time where the Cubs are playing good baseball and are in the wild card hunt. I like the progress.
JOE WAS ON THE RADIO - From time to time I’m a contributor to various ESPN radio stations. On Tuesday I was a guest on the Marty and Miller show on AM 1700 in Iowa. You can listen to the audio here.
THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY
1904 – After pitching nine and a third innings of no-hit baseball, Cubs’ hurler Bob Wicker settles for a 1-0, twelve inning one-hit victory over the Giants. Light-hitting outfielder Sam Mertes, for the second time in career, breaks up an extra-inning no-hitter, having also spoiled Indians right-hander Earl Moore‘s 1901 bid for a no-no when he started the game-winning rally for the White Sox with a one-out single in the top inning.
1911 – At Chicago’s West Side Grounds, Heinie Zimmerman of the Cubs drives in nine runs to set a team record. The Windy City infielder, whose record will be tied by Sammy Sosa in 2002, hits two home runs, a triple, and two singles in the 20-2 rout of the Braves.
1957 – The Dodgers’ Roy Campanella surpasses former Cub and Giant backstop Gabby Hayes to establish a new National League mark when he hits his 237th career round-tripper as a catcher. Campy’s historic home run comes off Ray Crone in the seventh inning of Brooklyn’s 7-2 loss to the Braves at Ebbets Field.
1963 – After Brock Davis is intentionally walked to load the bases, third baseman Bob Aspromonte blasts a tenth-inning walk-off grand slam off Lindy McDaniel, lifting the Colt .45s to a 6–2 victory over the Cubs. Chicago had tied the Colt Stadium contest in the top of the ninth on a triple by Dick Bertell, a walk to Bob’s brother Ken, and Don Landrum‘s RBI single.
1969 – The Cubs trade Adolfo Phillips and right-hander Jack Lamabe to the Expos for Paul Popovich, acquired today by Montreal, along with Ron Fairly, from the Dodgers in exchange for Maury Wills and Manny Mota. Chicago’s latest infielder, a solid switch-hitting utility player, will play a large role for his new team filling in for injured second baseman Glenn Beckert and batting .312 overall in 60 games.
Baseball is nearly two months into the schedule and sports handicappers have a much clearer picture of who the contenders – and pretenders – are going to be. But for right now, these three MLB clubs are tearing up the diamond and cashing in at the sportsbook.
The Rangers are surging up the standings in the American League West, winning eight of their last 10 outings – all of which as moneyline underdogs. That’s put Texas among the most profitable bets in baseball, despite a sub-.500 record as of Thursday. The Rangers’ bats are the biggest catalysts for this turnaround, hitting .283 BA over the past week. Will the return of shamed slugger Josh Hamilton add to that pop? The Arlington faithful will find out with Texas back home for six games versus the Red Sox and White Sox starting Thursday.
The Bucs are producing just that – big bucks – for their loyal bettors. Pittsburgh rides a six-game winning streak into Thursday, with back-to-back series sweeps of the Marlins and Mets. The Pirates were moneyline favorites for each of those victories and have taken seven of their past 10 outings but head out on a cross-country trip to play San Diego and San Francisco, then back East to Atlanta. Pittsburgh is just 9-13 away from home – despite having the second-lowest road ERA – with blame pointing to the bats, hitting only .241 BA and averaging just 3.7 runs per road game.
The Twins were supposed to finish at the bottom of the American League Central again in 2015. Seems like Minnesota’s clubhouse failed to get that memo. The Twins have exploded to the top of the division with a current five-game winning streak and have taken the “W” in nine of their previous 11 contests. That drastic turnaround has made Minnesota very popular with sports handicappers, having earned MLB bettors almost 16.00 units on the season. So what’s behind this complete about-face from the Twinkies? Minnesota is becoming one of the most clutch hitting teams in the bigs, with a .296 BA and .441 slugging percentage with runners in scoring position.
In case you missed it, Javier Baez broke his finger on Sunday. The doctors have placed the timetable at 4-8 weeks. For Baez, it’s almost a lost year at this point. With him missing the first month due to the passing of his sister and now this, it has to be hard to feel confident if you’re him, especially tonight watching the MLB draft and knowing that back in 2011, that was him on that stage being picked in the 1st round.
It’s got to be even more frustrating for the Cubs front office as there was big talk that he was coming up to DH with several games in AL parks coming up in the next two weeks. He had been hitting very well in Iowa and really deserved the call up. and now this.
At this point, you hope he can get healed up quickly, get some at bats in in the month of August down the stretch for Iowa and then maybe see time with the big club in September. I would think the Cubs and Javy would think strongly about also having him play somewhere this winter as well to get those missed at bats in. We’ll see. It’s just very disappointing news for him.
I was at the game on Saturday, thanks to my wife who got me two tickets for my birthday. It was a fun trip. I left Raleigh on Friday afternoon and spent the evening with Tom C, a loyal reader of the blog for many years. We hung out on a Friday night and played Strat-O-Matic baseball. If you’ve never played it (it was my first time), it’s a total nerd game. It’s baseball played out through dice and it’s amazingly accurate and in depth. I was stuck using the 2012 Cubs, which was not a good year. In case you have forgotten, take a look at their page that season. It’s hard to believe that we saw that team on the field just a short time ago. As you might expect, I lost the game, especially considering my starter was Chris Volstad.
- Jason Hammel continues to be really good when he is wearing a Cubs uniform. It’s odd, but I’ll take it. I remarked to my friend Shaun, who I attended the game with, that Hammel had been pitching well this year and that I expected another good outing. He promptly gave up a home run on the first pitch to Wilson Ramos in the 2nd inning to make me look silly, but settled down from then on to earn his fifth win of the season (I mention it because we all know wins are the most important pitcher metric out there right now). After the game, Joe Maddon made the case that he deserved a spot on the All Star team, and I think you could make a case. I don’t think he’ll earn a spot (it would be his 1st), but a case could be made. In a normal year where the Cubs stink, you could just give him the nod as the sole rep and be OK with it, but this year is a little different.I liked the move by Joe Maddon to let Hammel come out and work the 9th, but I was pleased to see the short hook. As soon as Bryce Harper hit a home run to lead off the inning, I remarked on Twitter that it was time to pull him, Joe checked his Twitter feed, and promptly obeyed.
- Addison Russell got his first start at shortstop, giving Starlin Castro a day off. Russell has a higher ceiling as a fielder at the shortstop position, and I would love to see him take that spot and have Castro shifted to 2B. If it happens, and I believe it will, I think it will be at the start of next year or if Castro is traded. Russell didn’t wow at short yesterday, but there wasn’t much of an opportunity for him to do anything spectacular.
- Anthony Rizzo extended his hitting streak to 11 games, which is a career high for him.
- The ballpark food choices that I found at Nats park were less than awesome. I walked down the concourse before the game looking for somewhere unique to try and came up empty. My search resulted in over priced chicken strips that came with fries and a cashier that said there was no way to upsell me a thing of nacho cheese to dip my fries in. If I wanted cheese for my fries, I had to order cheese fries. Honestly, the dumbing down of our society and our workers never seems to amaze me. No one can problem solve anymore. If the computer doesn’t have an option for it, it can’t be done.
- We have a closer controversy now, apparently. After lifting Hammel in the 9th, Maddon brought in Hector Rondon to close it out. After the first batter reached, Rondon was pulled and Pedro Strop came in to close the game out. I’ll be honest and say that I can’t figure out this move at all. I understand that Rondon has three blown saves this year, but lately he’s been fine. He wasn’t suddenly in trouble in the inning. The move makes no sense and it can only be a bad thing. When you make a move like that, it tells Rondon that you don’t trust him. When you make a move to replace him for Strop, a guy who has really struggled of late, it tells him that you really don’t trust him. It will be interesting to see what happens going forward. Maddon has said that he made the move because he didn’t like the looks of the walk and that Rondon is still the closer. We will see what happens.
THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY
1906 – Christy Mathewson and Joe McGinnity give up 11 first inning runs, allowing the Cubs to rout the Giants, 19-0. Matty, who is probably still suffering the effects of diphtheria contracted in the spring, retires only one batter while issuing six bases-on-balls in the West Side Grounds contest.
1998 – After going 6-0 against Atlanta and Florida, the Cubs complete their third consecutive three-game sweep by beating the White Sox, 13-7. The last time Chicago put together a similar streak occurred in 1918.
2012 – Starlin Castro becomes the 28th player to collect 500 hits before the age of 23 when he singles off A.J. Burnett with two outs in the fifth inning in the Cubs’ 12-2 victory over the Bucs at PNC Park. The 22-year, 167 day old Chicago shortstop reaches the milestone in his 421st major league game.
I am not an astute historian when it comes to Cubs baseball. I won’t even try to claim that I am anywhere near the authority that Chris Neitzel is. Since he is out with a family commitment this week, I decided to still take a look at Cubs history, but look at the greatest offensive WAR seasons in Cubs history by position using the Baseball Reference oWAR statistic.
The criteria to make the list was as follows:
- Must have played at least 50% of his games at that position
- Must have amassed enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, with the only exception being for the pitcher.