Archive for the ‘General’ Category

A Look Back At The Top Stories in Week 2 of MLB

Monday, April 20th, 2015

With pitchers and hitters getting over some rust and early season jitters, division races are rounding into form. Some surprise teams, such as the Mets, are flying high to start the season, while others, the Brewers, are dragging their feet. There’s drama afoot, so let’s recap week 2:

Marlins Have Yet to Figure It Out 

Way back before the season started, the Miami Marlins were sort of a hipster pick to contend in the National League East. After a busy offseason, in which the Marlins resigned cornerstone Giancarlo Stanton and acquired Dee Gordon, Mat Latos and Martin Prado (among others), the Marlins looked like a dangerous under-the-radar club. Suffice to say, the Marlins are not playing like the competitive club they hoped to be. At 3-10, the Marlins sit at the bottom of the NL East, behind even the Phillies. 12 games into the season is far too early to write off a team or make any assumptions. Yet, the fact that Stanton is already questioning his team’s desire to play all nine innings is unsettling. Some questioned why Stanton agreed to a long-term deal with Miami when he had previously hinted that he wanted to play somewhere more competitive.

A Fierce Rivalry in the Making

Most will remember the hotly contested American League Wild Card game between the Athletics and Royals last season. The game had the type of feeling that could lead to a rivalry between the two talented clubs. Any chance for a friendly rivalry went out the window this weekend, but the season series between the two teams is going to mean considerably more, now. To summarize, Oakland’s Brett Lawrie slid hard into Alcides Escobar on Friday, spraining the knee of the Royals’ shortstop. A bean ball war erupted and lasted into Sunday, with a multitude of players and coaches being ejected over the duration of the series. Kansas City’s Kelvin Hererra managed to get the last word in by throwing a triple-digit heater behind Lawrie and furthermore, pointing to his head.

Rodriguez Closing in on Mays

Alex Rodriguez continues to near Willie Mays’ career home run total, after hitting number 658 this weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays. Rodriguez is two shy of tying The Say Hey Kid. When signing Rodriguez to the monster contract that they did roughly 10 years ago, the Yankees included bonuses for Rodriguez reaching career benchmarks. Rodriguez is just a few swings away from one of those $6 million bonuses, and the Yankees are reportedly going to try to block him from earning that money. This isn’t news, per se, as the reports surfaced several months ago. Rodriguez had a big week, though, and is right on the doorstep, and the Yankees are nearing a very big decision: bench the hottest hitter on their team, or pay him.

Rookie Watch

The stars of tomorrow are starting to separate themselves from the pack. Diamondbacks’ pitcher Archie Bradley pitched well again this week, going six strong innings and allowing two runs. He has two quality starts in two opportunities. Dodgers’ center fielder has been impressive from both sides for Los Angeles, reaching base at a .438 clip early on. Jorge Soler is off to a similar start, with two home runs and a .275 average. More rookies are on the way, as White Sox top prospect Carlos Rodon will make his Major League debut some time within the next few days, presumably out of the bullpen for the Sox. The former N.C. State pitcher was the third overall pick in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft. The Mets are calling up one of their top prospects, as well, as Kevin Plawecki will take over for Travis d’Arnaud, who will be out indefinitely with a fractured hand.

Injuries Becoming a Story

Injuries, like that of D’Arnaud, were not a big story during the first week of the season, but they definitely surfaced through the second week of action. The most notable ailment to keep an eye on might be to Felix Hernandez, who is pitching through forearm tightness. Why would the Mariners allow the face of their franchise to risk injury in this fashion? Keep in mind that this is the same organization that had Felix throw bunt practice several years ago. Brewers’ center fielder Carlos Gomez recently injured his hamstring, and in the midst of a DL stint. The Upton brothers, whom the Padres acquired both of during the offseason, are both out with injuries. Melvin, formerly Bossman Junior, has the more serious injury of the two, as he is battling a toe injury and is not expected back for several weeks.

Cubs Still Looking Good

The Cubs might not be leading the Central anymore, but with the hype of Kris Bryant making his debut, that has temporarily been put on the back burner. The Cardinals possess the top spot, with the Cubs in second and Pirates in third. Milwaukee is bringing up the bottom of the division, with just two wins in 12 games. Probably due to their lack of success, the Crew are experimenting with batting Ryan Braun lead off. Back to the Cubs, Kris Bryant’s early returns are very encouraging. Bryant is showing unprecedented patience for a rookie in his first weekend of Major League Baseball, and is making pitchers throw strikes. Jon Lester, while not at the high level he is capable of, is making strides towards getting back to his old ways. He allowed three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Padres on Sunday.


Oddity of the Week: For those who haven’t seen Robinson Cano’s base running blunder yet, look it up. Cano was on third with another runner on second. The batter walked, and Cano started to trot home, believing he was forced in. The bases were not loaded, however, and Cano was, as they say, thrown out on the bases like a nincompoop.

MVP of the Week: Nelson Cruz has 6 home runs since Monday. Let that sink in.

Cy Young of the Week: Max Scherzer has been dominant through his first three outings, especially in his last one. Over eight innings, Scherzer allowed one earned run and fanned nine Phillies.

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Game 11 Notes – Lester Threw to First!

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Padres (5) @ Cubs (2)

W: Andrew Cashner (1-2)
L: Jon Lester (0-2)
S: Joaquin Benoit (1)
HR: Will Middlebrooks (3), Yangervis Solarte (1)

BOX SCORE


Game Notes

It was Lester’s third start of the season, and one that matched him up against former Cub Cashner. Both pitched fairly well, but so far I don’t think that it can be said that Lester is pitching up to expectations. Some of this could likely be chalked up to not being able to pitch a full spring, but after a few more starts, there could be reason for concern. I’m resisting the temptation to overreact at this point though. Yesterday he threw just under 100 pitches across 5.1 innings with 4 strikeouts and 3 runs given up. Not a terrible start, by any means, but not what you look for from your ace. His next start likely comes on Friday in Cincinnati.

Though the Cubs scored in the first inning on RBI singles from Jorge Soler and Chris Coghlan, the Padres answered back quickly in the 2nd with a Middlebrooks 2-run home run that was preceded by Padres manager Bud Black‘s ejection from the game. Watching the game, it was a bit unclear as to what exactly caused his ejection, though it seemed like it was because of something shouted from the dugout after a called strike on Middlebrooks. In the 6th Will Venable hit an RBI single to drive in Matt Kemp, a runner put on base by Lester.

In the 7th, Jason Motte gave up a 2 run HR to Solarte that finished up the Padres’ scoring. The Cubs did not score again after the first, though they threatened in the bottom of the 9th, only to come up short and leave 2 runners on base when Jorge Soler struck out to end the game.

In all, though it was frustrating to see the Cubs lose this series (It was Kris Bryant Weekend, after all), it was refreshing to feel like the Cubs could actually win yesterday afternoon and on Saturday, both times in games that would have felt lost long before the 9th inning ended.

General thoughts:

The Bryant call up was great cause for excitement, and brought a level of energy around the Cubs that I haven’t seen or felt in a very long time. Even the Starlin Castro callup in May 2010 didn’t garner this much excitement. Though his first game on Friday was a bit of a disappointment, his performance on Saturday was pretty exciting as a follow up (3 BBs and 2 hits, including an RBI double for his first major league hit). As he gets comfortable at the plate, this offense is going to be even more potent. This also leads me to wonder about the timetable for Addison Russell. He’s had a few starts at 2B over the weekend, and it seems possible that he might come up earlier than expected to fill to void at 2B (with apologies to Arismendy Alcantara and Jonathan Herrera).

Jon Lester threw to first! This was easily my favorite moment of the game. Not only was it impressive that Lester was able to avoid letting his “yips” about throwing to first get in the way here, but I had to admire Anthony Rizzo‘s attention to what was happening and the quick thinking in dropping his own glove so he could catch Lester’s.


This is probably going to become a regular feature hear on the site as it’s too funny not to include. We will highlight the dumb things we find coming out of Cubs “fans” mouths in an effort to poke fun at people that make our fan base look ignorant.

Our first entry came after Kris Bryant‘s debut and it’s a doozy:

Is Bryant officially a bust? 

0-4, 3K, chokes with RISP, can’t believe we paid 6M for this bum! What was Theego thinking bringing this guy up?

What if we miss the playoffs by one game with this guy striking out 75% of the time? Send him back to Iowa where we can get some momentum back. And we thought Baez was bad!! – SOURCE


THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1916 - In Chicago, the Cubs play their first game at Weeghman Park, beating the Reds in 11 innings, 7-6. In 1926, the ballpark will become known as Wrigley Field, in honor of William Wrigley, the chewing gum mogul who gained full ownership of the team seven seasons ago.

1946 - The Cubs are shut out by Cardinal southpaw Harry Brecheen in their home opener at Wrigley Field, 2-0. The game is the first in the club’s history to be televised with ‘Whispering’ Joe Wilson doing the play-by-play on Chicago’s WBKB.

1955 - 
At Wrigley Field, Humberto Robinson makes his major league debut coming out of the Braves’ bullpen in a 9-5 victory over the Cubs. The 24 year-old from Colon is the first player from Panama to appear in a major league game.

1967 - 
Tom Seaver, a right-hander the Mets obtained in a lottery drawing among the three teams, gets his first major-league win when the team beat the Cubs, 6-1. The 22 year-old rookie, who will become known as the ‘Franchise,’ goes 7.2 innings, giving up eight hits and one run in the Shea Stadium contest.

1997 - 
In the second game of a doubleheader, the Cubs stop their season-opening losing skid at 14 games, beating the Mets, 4-3. By losing the opener, Chicago set a National League record (0-14) for the most consecutive losses to start a season and has the second-worst record behind the Orioles, who lost 21 decisions before winning a game in 1988.

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Game 10 Notes – Kyle Hendricks Can Miss Bats After All

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

Padres (6) @ Cubs 7)

W: Zac Rosscup (1-0)
L: Craig Kimbrel (0-1)
HR: Matt Kemp (1), Miguel Montero (1 & 2)

Box Score


After all the hype and “disappointment” around the debut of Kris Bryant, I wonder how many tuned in for game number two. Had they done so, they would have liked the result much better.

  • We have to start with the day Bryant had because you always start with focusing on the saviour. After a 0-f0r-4 day the day before with three strikeouts, I’m sure the first thing Cubs fans wanted to see was an error at third base, but that was what happened. A simple bouncing ball to third was bobbled and allowed Wil Meyers to reach. The very next batter hit a single, but Meyers got greedy and tried to take third and was thrown out. Overall, outside of that first error, Bryant did fine at third. That’s what we’re going to see as he continues to improve at the position. We’re going to see league average to potentially below average at third base, but well above average at the plate. I’ll take that any day of the week. At the plate, he improved on his poor debut by reaching base four of the five times he came to the plate (a pair of singles and a pair of walks). We’ve not seen the power yet, but it’s coming and I’m going on record that it comes today.
  • Now that we have that out of the way, we can talk about the much improved outing from Kyle Hendricks in his second start of the season. After a rough outing in Colorado for his debut, Hendricks looked much more like the pitcher we saw last season, and even missed a ton of bats. After a first run blast by Kemp, Hendricks settled down nicely and when the day was done he had tossed six innings and only allowed three hits (2 in the first inning), while striking out eight. A much improved outing from Hendricks, and that’s a great thing to see against another good team. He’s had two tough assignments to start the season.
  • Tough day for the bullpen as they had a hard time closing things out in the 9th inning. Phil Coke came into the game in a non-save 9th and promptly gave up two singles. At that point, because the tieing run was in the on deck circle, it became a save situation, so in trotted Hector Rondon. Coming into the game, the bullpen had posted a 1.57 ERA in 28.2 innings of work. When all was said and done, that inflated by almost a full run to 2.41. They’re still ranked 8th in MLB, but it would have been nice to not have to see a four run comeback in the 9th before getting the win.
  • Montero had two home runs. It’s funny, there are guys that when I hear their name or see them hit, I don’t automatically think about Power. Montero is one of those guys and yesterday he stuck it to me with a pair.
  • Do you think maybe Joe Maddon has forgotten that Edwin Jackson is sitting out there in the bullpen? Dude hasn’t pitched in forever and when he didn’t he was fine. I’d like to see him get into the game today.
  • Mike Olt is scheduled to have a cast on his wrist for about a month. That’s disappointing for him. I think he’s going to have a hard time finding at bats when he comes back unless he starts working in the OF and at 1B.
  • Down on the farm, all eyes now turn to the guys like Albert Almora, Kyle Schwarber, and Addison Russell. Almora went 5-for-5 at the plate in AAA and Schwarber went 0-for-2, but drew three walks.

THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

  • 1997 - At Shea Stadium, the Cubs lose their 13th consecutive game to match the longest losing streak in the franchise’s 122-year history. Reliever Turk Wendell, wearing #13, is tagged with the loss when Chicago is defeated by New York, 6-3.
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Game 9 Notes – Where Was the Kris Bryant Cam?

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

Padres (5) @ Cubs 4)

W: James Shields (2-0)
L: Brian Schlitter (0-1)
S: Craig Kimbrel (4)
HR: Will Middlebrooks (2), Wil Myers (1)

Box Score


I gave serious thought to the idea of ending my work day at 2pm EDT in preparation to watch the debut of the greatest player of all time. I wanted to see home run number 1, 2, 3, & 4 in his quest to break the all time home run record. I wanted to see how the promotion of Kris Bryant would cause a chain reaction that would simultaneously end world hunger, eliminate the entire national debt, and cause a 2015 version of the hugely successful “We Are the World” recording. Instead, I opted to be a hard working guy and not watch the game live, and I’m glad I did it that way. What I couldn’t figure out, though, was why ABC 7 wasn’t running a non-stop Bryant cam that would allow me to follow him every step he took.

Because I didn’t go back and fully watch this one, I don’t have a whole bunch to note here. It’s disappointing to see Bryant go 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, but if we look at the positive, he played well in the field at third base. I feel like the idea of starting him this weekend at home was not the idea I would have chosen. I mentioned that I thought Junior Lake would come up for the weekend to help out and then Bryant would be up on Monday for the start of the road trip.

In other news:

  • Jorge Soler raised my MLB Beat The Streak total to 5 straight. I’m getting close to the 57 needed to win.
  • Mike Olt was placed on the DL to make room for Bryant. He is listed with a broken hand, which is confusing because when they did x-rays they said it wasn’t broken.
  • Neal Ramirez was also placed on the DL, which allowed Chris Denorfia to be activated from the DL as well.

CONTEST ALERT

If you have ever wanted a Cubs jersey and didn’t want to have to pay for it, this is the perfect opportunity for you. If you’re not familiar, Majestic has come out with a new line of baseball jersey. They call it the Cool Base line of jerseys, and it’s designed for it’s light weight and breathable material. Mine is on it’s way and I’m extremely excited to get it.

They are offering our readers a chance to get their own. It’s very simple. ENTER THE CONTEST via this link. When you go there, fill in the information and VERY IMPORTANT – let them know you heard about the contest on VFTB in the dropdown menu. If we get at least 100 that enter from VFTB, they have guaranteed that at least one of our entrants will win a jersey.

There is nothing to lose. If you don’t win, I’d still encourage you to check them out. They even have some retro ones and the price is really affordable.

 

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Happy Kris Bryant Day

Friday, April 17th, 2015

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GirlieView (04/16/2015)

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’er: The person with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks.)
  • Top 10 of the 2015 Season = The folks with the most aggregate Lizzie points YTD (1 point for every Lizzie, 3 points for every Lizard.)

As you already know, this is all completely subjective and according to my whims.

Lizzies

  • This will be a little tougher than most opening days. I’ll be covertly catching as much as possible while pretending to be interested in Easter Sunday dinner guests. Suggestions welcome.
  • Make no apologies. Have the game on in the background while you eat and talk. You’ve waited all year for this.
  • Hide the food in large plastic eggs. Nobody gets to eat until all are found. Make sure some will never be found by misrepresenting the number of eggs to be found. Wait in the den with the door closed and TV on until the game is over.
  • Congrats to Peter Seymour Buttocks for taking the MVL title this fortnight.
  • I would like to thank the academy. I had seriously thought about dropping the habit of using the occasional 2nd, 3rd… pseudonym in order to garner more Lizzie points. But the way it is, is just more amusing. At least to myself.
  • I was pleased to see Andy Rooney edged out Chris Neitzel and Troy’s Mom.
  • Seems like Troy’s mom needs to try a little harder.
  • Who gives a damn about Troy’s mom.
  • Troy?
  • EVW has been on fire…he earned this. Hats off buddy.
  • Thanks jswan. I couldn’t have done it without you and the rest of the team lobbing those high fastballs in just asking to get knocked out of the park. Its always a team effort and I’m just looking ahead to our next game on Sunday. If we play our best we can beat those guys…then it will be back to the keyboard pounding out one-liners hoping to get Lizzie’s attention.
  • You are absolutely right. If a comedian tells a joke in a forest, nobody is there to laugh. Soon he gives up. Lizzieworthiness is a trait that takes a village.
  • The pursuit of Lizzieworthiness makes life worthwhile – especially for a Cub fan.
  • But this season is different, and you already know why. This Cubs team, unlike the last few squads, has more than just a faint whiff of hope and optimism about them.
  • Welcome back Jeremiah. Just a few things you missed while you where living the married life. Your brother is still abrasive, the Capn makes occasional appearances but still keeps his high comment to Lizzie ratio, Sherm is still funny, EVW busted onto the Lizzie scene as a serious ROY candidate, Jswan continues to poke everyone, CAPS had a rough patch but is back in typical Homer form, Doug S and Mark from Toronto seem to be the same person, Noah is still bogged down in numbers, Seymour is saving the planet with his electric car, Lizzie is still very intuitive, these new characters like Jared and Sean seem like good Cub fans, Dork is well….still a dork, Jerry in Wisconsin – why would a Cub fan live in Wisconsin, Joe our big toe can get you a good deal on prom dresses and Katie is still cute as a button now living down in Boca Vista.
  • …and Raker is still the self-appointed Blog Factotum.
  • It is important to embrace who you are
  • There are people everywhere that have gone hog wild picking the Cubs to win the world series, cure cancer, and establish world peace in 2015. I’m not going that far. I do think this team will be a fun year to watch, but I think the real fun begins in 2016.
  • I don’t understand the three catcher controversy, last year the Cubs had 13 pitchers at times. We just need to think of Beef as our mop up reliever for when the game gets out of control.
  • And if there are no bleachers in the bleachers is it still possible to have a view from the bleachers?
  • We could call it “View From The Ernie Banks Tarps” ?
  • VFTEBT
  • So maybe until the bleachers are reopened this should be renamed something more appropriate like “Partially blocked view from the rooftop across the street that’s not owned by the Ricketts. “
  • PBVFTRATSTNOBTR – that has a nice ring to it.
  • I like View Inside Construction Tarps On Reconstruction Year .
  • Sorry I’m so late. I was standing in line at the Wrigley restrooms.
  • Worst thing about last night: Toss up between seeing a Schilling given a microphone (give me Len Kasper any day over this POS), and the shrieking that occurred masquerading as god bless America before the game. This was supposedly a famous singer, but sounded like somebody who drew a short straw at closing time. Could not have sung worse. Spoiled the entire game.
  • Maybe if I request a win again, the Cubs will deliver? I just want A win…please.
  • It’s quite annoying to come off the high of opening day each year only to be greeted with an off day kick to the seeds the very next day.
  • To not plan for the bathroom situation is an epic fail. The Cubs have said they are bringing in temporary bathrooms, but when you failed on opening night and on national tv, that is hard to forgive.
  • To make matters worse, people had to deal with other wiener problems as they ran out of hot dog buns. For goodness sakes, guys, how does this crap happen and how does it always happen to us?!?!?! Get your mess together. Cubs baseball ops were left, like Cubs fans, standing with only their wieners in their hands.
  • You had me at weiner.
  • I wanted to poke my eye out reading that baseball rule book, so I had to stop.
  • I know a good eye doctor who can help you.
  • I have a suggestion for tonight that will solve both wiener issues: All fans should bring a package of hot dog buns to the ball park. They will receive a coupon for a free hot dog (sans bun). The unused buns can be utilized to wrap your wiener in after too many beers, Each bun should be able to absorb a half pint of pee. Problem solved.
  • At a half pint of pee, eight buns would hold 4 pints. That’s half a gallon. I don’t believe that would be enough buns…
  • Okay…two things. First, there are only seven buns remaining, because of the voucher. Second, there are tons of other options once the buns are fully soaked. Nacho trays, cotton candy, etc. You could piss in the hotdog bag itself if you are in a pinch. Footlong buns maybe…I don’t know. Think outside the box man.
  • Most hot dog bags come with either a twist tie or that little plastic thing with teeth. Get creative.
  • It appears we are a bit male-centric in this conversation. Perhaps the fairer sex could tote some hamburger buns.
  • Thanks to this site, I’ve taken a real interest in minor league ball
  • So… who else had hot dogs for dinner last night?
  • I had mine without a bun, thank you.
  • The mascot zoo lost a sunglassed bear and a hawk, gained a pelican and a sasquatch. Push.
  • I now watch the game anticipating the bull pen coming in to seal the deal. I haven’t felt like that in years.
  • Last time it was wieners, this time it’s nuggets.
  • I know there is a dick joke in there somewhere, I’m just having trouble grasping it.
  • For whatever reason, sometimes it’s hard in the mornings.
  • Next person who writes about Edwards’ frame owes us all dinner. And not at Subway.
  • OT (as it applies to the Cardinals) means “we honor the drunk who killed his girlfriend with his recklessness”
  • I’m as big a fan of Castro as anyone…but if the Padres FO is on the caller ID, we need to listen. I’m not at all impressed with their talent evaluation or business acumen. Accumulating Upton’s is not the sign of a healthy foundation for the future.
  • haven’t they already traded everyone that has any value?
  • Maybe we can give them one of our catchers for some extra concourse restrooms?
  • And hot dog buns.
  • Don’t look now but our playoff hopes are declining and the cost of prom dresses are skyrocketing.
  • Prediction: If the Cubs can score 9 runs a game they will win the division.
  • So nice to see them win a comeback game like this. I haven’t felt like they’ve been capable of such a thing in probably 7 years.
  • Swagger-O-Meter alert! Don’t forget about moxie, grit, and my personal favorite, “the will to win.”
  • TWTW
  • This is getting to be kind of fun.
  • With that out of the way and the yips cleared up, for some reason he decided to try it again, this time seeing the ball fly into right field. Had Jorge Soler not been in RF, it would have been a stolen base and an error leading to Cozart on third. Instead, Soler flexed his arm and gunned down Cozart at third. Side Note: Soler is really fun to watch.
  • I believe this team can make the playoffs.
  • It’s not all sunshine and lollipops…we’re still behind the Cardinals and Pirates in Bill James’ Pythagorean division standings.
  • Can a fellow get a rainbow?
  • I like the move throw the ball near Solar and let him throw the runner out.
  • I do respect how Lester owned it and says he must get better, he WILL get better. Appreciative of his mates bailing him out.
  • The discussion should not be about the NL adopting it, but about the AL abandoning it.

Lizard

  • Beer, food, and baseball. Doesn’t get much better!

Shout Outs

  • Since we’ve turned over a new scorecard with the start of the season, it’s the first 2015 Season Lizzie for everyone who got one. Big shout outs to Bryan, Buddy, Chet, Doc Raker, Dork, Doug S., Eddie von White, Gaz, Jared Wyllys, Jedi, Jeremiah, Jerry in Wisconsin, Joe Aiello, jswanson, Seymour Butts, and Tom! Many thanks!

MVL

  • Congratulations to Eddie von White, our Most Valuable Lizzie-er this time! Way to go EVW!

Top 10 of the 2015 Season (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard)

1. Eddie von White
2. Seymour Butts
3. Doc Raker
3. Jedi
3. Joe Aiello
3. jswanson
7. Dork
8. Bryan
8. Doug S.
8. Jerry in Wisconsin

Chit Chat

  • What (or who) has been your favorite part of the new young season so far?

 

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Game 8 Notes – Rizzo Has Crazy Power

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

REDS  (0) @ CUBS (5)

W: Travis Wood (1-1)
L: Jason Marquis (0-1)
HR: Anthony Rizzo (1)

Box Score


This was a tough night to be a Chicago sports fan, not because the teams played poorly, but because the Cubs, Bulls, and Blackhawks all were engaged in meaningful games at the same time. I went with the Cubs on the iPad until the bottom of the 7th inning and had the Hawks on the DVR waiting for me. I stayed off Twitter so as to not see the score, but had the Bulls game feed on my phone. Pure craziness, but a wonderful sports night overall. Since this is a Cubs game, we won’t talk Bulls or Hawks, so let’s get right to the notes.

  • The Cubs had good Wood last night and took advantage of it and finished. There, now that we have that obligatory dirty Wood reference out of the way, I can say that Wood really was dominant last night. I didn’t see the final tally and I’m too lazy to look it up, but Wood was strike one on just about every hitter in the Reds lineup last night. At one point it was like 17 in a row. It was crazy. His efficiency was outstanding. Given the efficiency, you would think that the Reds hitters would have been swinging at everything, but I didn’t feel like they were. Several were called out on strikes looking. When a guy is around the plate like that, what are you looking at? It seemed like the Reds were defeated in their minds by the 2nd inning and it was just going through the motions after that.They showed a stat on the Reds broadcast that Wood was flat out dominant last year as well against the Reds, but struggled agains the rest of the NL Central (and everyone else). It’s was similar to the numbers that Jake Arrieta presented at home against the Reds last year. It was good to see Wood dominant. He’s my favorite pitcher in the rotation and one of my favorite players on the team. I’m rooting for him and have gone to bat for him. It’s nice to not come away from the game with egg on my face for one night.
  • The wind last night was blowing in hard from RF. The official box score shows 19 mph from RF, but from what I saw, it was gusting higher than that at points. The ball just wasn’t carrying at all. Fly balls that were hit with any power at all were landing well short of the warning track. At one point early in the game, they showed the Cubs outfield positioning against Joey Votto, who is a really good hitter, and it was a positioning you would have seen against a pitcher. All signs pointed to a homerless game. They forgot that Rizzo has crazy power.
  • The bullpen came in and was masterful again, throwing two scoreless innings. Phil Coke, in particular, came in and pitched Wood out of a jam in the 8th. Neal Ramirez left the game with shoulder discomfort during the at bat against the only hitter he faced. He’s scheduled to have an MRI today. If he were to go on the DL, that would allow the Cubs to recall the roster replacement on the infield without having to send back either Zac Rosscup or Brian Schlitter to Iowa. I still maintain that it will be Junior Lake, but the clamouring for Bryant is so strong that I’m beginning to think I’m wrong. I just don’t see Theo and Jed varying from their usual plan to not start someone at home.

THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

This will be a new feature we’re going to run with. Most of the items are going to be coming from www.nationalpastime.com and Baseball Reference.

  • 1938 – The Cardinals deal a declining Dizzy Dean to Chicago for pitchers Curt Davis and Clyde Shoun and $200,000. During his four years in the Windy City, the future Hall of Fame right-hander will compile a 16-8 record for the Cubs.
  • 1948 – The future super station WGN-TV televises a baseball game for the first time. With Jack Brickhouse doing the play-by-play, the White Sox beat the Cubs 4-1 in the first game of the Windy City Classic played at Wrigley Field.
  • 1972 – On the second day of the season, Burt Hooton, making his fourth career start, no-hits the Phillies at Wrigley Field, 4-0. The Cubs hurler becomes the 12th rookie to throw a no-hitter.
  • 1983Steve Garvey appears in his 1,118th straight game, breaking the National League record established by Hall of Fame outfielder Billy Williams playing for the Cubs in 1970. The Padres’ first baseman, who played 13 seasons with the Dodgers before signing as a free agent with San Diego in the offseason, will see his consecutive game streak end at 1,207, the third-longest span in major league history at the time, due to a dislocated thumb suffered as a result of a collision at home plate during the first game of a doubleheader in 1983.
  • 1997 – Extending their losing streak to 12 with a 4-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies, the Cubs set the record for worst start in league history, surpassing the overall National League record of 0-11 established by the Detroit Wolverines in 1884.
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Minor League Update

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

It’s been an eventful first week of the minor league season, with each level of the farm system experiencing some success. After their first 6 games, the Iowa Cubs are 3-2, the Tennessee Smokies are 3-2, and the Myrtle Beach Pelicans and South Bend Cubs are both 3-3.

In Iowa:

Kris Bryant and Addison Russell have been the stars, surprising hopefully no one. Their game in New Orleans was postponed last night, but the series picks up again today. Bryant has done so far exactly what we’ve expected of him, hitting .381 with an OPS of 1.089 and 2 HR in just 21 at bats. It is likely that by this point next week, he’ll be with the major league club, so enjoy him while you can, Des Moines. Russell has excelled similarly, (.318, .833, 4 RBI in 22 at bats), leading to speculation that we may see him in the majors during mid-summer this year, though this may hinge on a possible trade of Starlin Castro or a position change for either Castro or Russell.

In Tennessee:

Dan Vogelbach has been the big story for the 3-2 Smokies, who start a 5 game series against Pensacola today. Vogelbach is putting up the kind of numbers that force the question of how long he’ll stay in AA, as well as whether or not he becomes a trade piece later this summer. He’s currently hitting a whopping .444 in his first 5 games, with 5 walks and 4 doubles. CJ Edwards made news when he was moved to the bullpen to start the year, and so far has just one appearance (2.1 innings, 2 Ks, 2 BBs, and 1 earned run), so it’s likely too early to tell how he’ll perform in this role.

In Myrtle Beach: 

I mentioned Mark Zagunis as a player to watch in a previous post, and so far he’s showing a fairly strong performance at the plate, with 6 hits in 21 AB, though his OPS is just .733. Jen-Ho Tseng had a solid outing in his first appearance yesterday, with 5 strikeouts in 5 innings and letting just 4 runners on base. The Pelicans conclude a series against Salem tonight before heading on the road for a 4 game set against Winston-Salem.

In South Bend:

The South Bend Cubs concluded a series against Dayton yesterday with a loss and will start a new series in Fort Wayne tonight. Gleyber Torres is hitting an impressive .348 through the first 6 games and has driven in 3 runs to go with 2 stolen bases. On the pitching staff, Ryan Williams has proven to be the most noteworthy thus far. He’s appeared in two games, once in relief and once as a starter, and has a ridiculous 0.250 WHIP so far and has 8 strikeouts in 8 innings.

All four teams are in action today, and while this is likely to be the last week that Bryant is in an Iowa Cubs uniform, he has plenty of opportunity to hit a few more Pacific Coast League homeruns. I’m looking forward to seeing more from some of our pitching prospects as they get more innings on the mound in the coming weeks.

 

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Game 7 Notes – Third Time Is NOT the Charm

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

BOX SCORE

If you went into last nights game with the hope that you would see a No Hitter from Jake Arrieta (looking at myself, here), you were disappointed. If you went into the 8th and 9th inning thinking you would see the 3rd installment of the comeback kids, you were disappointed. Let’s talk about it.

  • Jake Arrieta came into the game having dominated at home, bringing a streak of scoreless innings into the game that dated back to last season. He would run that streak up to 29 straight before the issues in the 4th inning where he just couldn’t get anyone out. If you’re unfamiliar with the graph above, it shows the win probability for both teams throughout the game, and you can see that was where the issues happened. I fully expected Jake to flat out dominate last night, seeing that he always does at home and the fact that the last two times, in particular, that he faced the Reds at Wrigley he took a no hitter deep into the game. Through three innings, it appeared that might happen again. Overall, I wasn’t overly disappointed with Jake’s start. It could have gone better, but outside that 4th inning, he really minimized any chance at Cincinnati runs and that’s all you can ask for.
  • On the other side of the ball, the Reds starter, Anthony DeSclafani pitched really well. Seven innings of two hit, shutout baseball. I tweeted out before the game that if you didn’t know who he was, he was acquired this off-season from the Marlins in a deal that sent Mat Latos to the Fish. DeSclafani pitched part of the season last year for Miami, splitting time between the pen and the rotation and the results weren’t very pretty. I felt like we would hammer him, but that was definitely not the case. I’m curios as to how we fair the next time around against him. I think it will be better now that we’ve had a look at him.
  • The Cubs tried to make it interesting late when Welington Castillo hit a two run, pinch hit, home run, but they couldn’t push that third run across the plate and then had to face Aroldis Chapman in the 9th. Even that got a little interesting as Starlin Castro and Matt Szczur both reached base. With two on and less than two outs, it looked like we were potentially going to come back again. Unfortunately, David Ross forgot to swing and Mike Olt had no chance and it was over. If you’re going to make the comeback, you need to do it against your former mates, like Kevin Gregg and LaTroy Hawkins, not against Chapman.
  • Prior to the game, Tommy LaStella was placed on the 15 day DL retroactively to earlier this season and Zac Rosscup was recalled, giving the Cubs an eight man pen. If you’ve been around these parts long enough, you know that I hate that. It should be only temporary. I expect either Rosscup or Brian Schlitter to be sent back to AAA on Friday when a position player is called up. My guess is that it WILL NOT be Kris Bryant, but will instead be Junior Lake for the weekend and then Bryant on Monday to stick with the “not starting a top prospect in the Majors at home” philosophy.
  • Tonight’s series finale features Travis Wood on the mound, but I will most likely be watching game 1 of the Blackhawks / Predators series on the big screen and have the Cubs game on the iPad.
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