Archive for the ‘General’ Category

How Are You Feeling As a Cub Fan? – Open Thread

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

This morning I want you guys to share your thoughts on how you feel as a Cub fan. Maybe you want to look at it on a micro basis and look really detailed at the current team or even last night’s bad loss. Maybe you want to take a more macro approach and look at the state of the team in the future. Maybe you want to focus on a player.

Whatever is on your mind, let’s hear it, because I have nothing good to say after last night.

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5 Things for Cubs Fans to Know on August 19

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

1. Game Notes (Cubs lose, 10-8)

Jason Hammel started off with a very rough first inning, and when the rain delay kicked in during the third inning, it was perhaps a stroke of mercy, as by that point Hammel had given up home runs to Ian Kinsler, J.D. Martinez, and Anthony Gose. In the bottom of the first, Chris Coghlan put one over the wall to give the Cubs 2 runs, but when the rain delay started, the Cubs were down 5-2.

The game finally restarted at about 10:30 after a 2 hour and 17 minute delay (a bit to my chagrin, at first, because things had gotten off to such a bad start. I was sort of hoping for a postponement last night), and the Tigers added a run very quickly to make the score 6-2 going into the bottom of the 4th inning. In the top of the 5th, the Tigers threatened to score again on a hit to left field by Kinsler, but a brilliant throw by Kyle Schwarber got the runner at home, ending the inning and preventing a run.

Schwarber then went on to make things interesting at the plate when he made it a 6-5 game  in the bottom of the 5th with 2 outs with a 3 run HR after Addison Russell tripled and Dexter Fowler drew a walk. The Cubs even managed to bring the game to a tie in the 7th inning, but a disastrous 3 run 8th inning at the hands of Pedro Strop was ultimately the nail in the coffin. James Russell came in for the 9th inning, and although the Cubs put 2 more runs on the board in the bottom of the 9th, it didn’t end up being enough.

A couple of good notes from last night’s game is that our bullpen (for the most part) kept us in the game after Hammel was only able to go 3 innings (because of rain delay, but he likely would not have gone much longer without it), and that our offense did not quit and kept scoring runs.

Tonight, the Cubs will send Jon Lester to the mound against Daniel Norris.

 

2. Cherington steps down in Boston

This is not news that directly involves the Cubs, but news broke during last night’s rain delay that Dave Dombrowski had been hired in Boston, and Ben Cherington would not be staying. The possibility of Cherington joining the Cubs front office in some capacity may be a long shot, but it would be interesting to see if he could fit in some capacity. It’s pure speculation, but it seems clear that Cherington would leave Boston because he is looking to land somewhere else, and probably right away. Otherwise, why not finish the season there? Whether or not he does come to Chicago, the value of the front office for a team is often overlooked, and shouldn’t be. What we are watching on the field now is very much the product of the work that Theo and Jed have done, so anyone who can come and enhance the front office further is welcome, in my opinion.

3. Injury news/Roster moves

Top OF prospect Billy McKinney went on the DL for the remainder of the season with a hairline fracture in his right knee. This late in the minor league season, this is not much of a big deal, because he will end up sitting out just a few weeks. McKinney had been hitting .285 with 26 doubles in 77 games for AA Tennessee since being called up from Myrtle Beach.

The Cubs signed Trevor Cahill to a minor league deal and assigned him to AAA Iowa. To make room, C.J. Edwards was moved to the 7 day disabled list.

Fowler was placed on waivers and cleared, so he would technically be free to be traded at this piont, but this seems more like a way to gauge his market value rather than a real attempt at moving him. He is a free agent after this season, so in theory he would make a nice late season rental if something actually were to happen. In other waiver news, Starlin Castro still has not been placed on waivers.

4. An eye on the Pirates

When the Cubs went into rain delay, my attention turned to the Pirates/Diamondbacks game. Right now, working on catching up to and hopefully passing the Pirates should be the goal, so it is a good idea to keep tabs on how they are doing as well. Going into last night’s action, the Cubs were down 2 games in the division and for the first wild card spot, so it was nice to see that the Pirates saw a 5 run lead evaporate in the 8th and 9th innings last night. The game went into extra innings, and eventually the Pirates won on a walk off in the bottom of the 15th inning.

5. Down on the farm

Dallas Beeler had a pretty nice start for Iowa on Monday night, going 7.1 innings without giving up a walk and allowing just one run to score. Beeler is a nice option to have in terms of pitching depth as the closing stretch of the regular season approaches.

Javier Baez went 2 for 5 with a run on Monday night and then added another hit against Las Vegas last night. Baez is hovering just beneath .300, but it is important to note that this is significantly higher than what he did for Iowa in 2014, and it is rivaled only by his 54 game stint for AA Tennessee in 2013, when he hit .294.


 

THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

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1949: The Phillies host ‘Eddie Waitkus Night’ at Shibe Park and shower their injured first baseman with gifts. The All-Star infielder, in uniform for the first time since June, had been shot in the chest at Chicago’s Edgewater Beach Hotel by Ruth Ann Steinhagen, an obsessed fan upset with his trade from the Cubs to Philadelphia.

1965: At Wrigley Field, Reds’ hurler Jim Maloney no-hits the Cubs 1-0 with the only run scoring on a Leo Cardenas homer in the tenth inning. Earlier in the season the Fresno native had also no-hit the Mets for ten innings, but lost the game in the eleventh when Johnny Lewis homered.

1969: At Wrigley Field, Ken Holtzman no-hits the Braves, 3-0, with Ron Santo‘s first inning homer off Phil Niekro providing all of the Cubs’ runs. It is the fifth no-hitter of the season, and the first since 1923 (Sad Sam Jones) in which no strikeouts are recorded.

1989: Cubs’ center fielder Jerome Walton extends his hitting streak to 29 games in an 8-4 loss to Houston at the Astrodome. With his seventh-inning single, the 24 year-old rookie establishes the longest consecutive-game hit streak in modern franchise history, surpassing the mark set by Ron Santo in 1966.

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Yesterday’s News: Cubs prep for Tigers; playoff schedule announced

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Tigers Preview

After an off day on Monday that followed winning 15 of 17 games, most Cubs fans are probably eager to get the games started again, particularly after losing to the White Sox on Sunday primarily at the hand of Chris Sale. This is a very short series in which the Cubs are facing a very different Tigers team than they saw in the beginning of June. After both David Price and Yoenis Cespedes were both traded at the deadline, the Tigers are a team that presents a good opportunity for the Cubs to get the winning started again.

Tonight, they will face Anibal Sanchez (10-10, 4.95) with Jason Hammel (6-5, 3.10) on the mound. Hammel has been pulled early from his last couple of starts and it is suspected that nagging leg issues may be at least part of the reason.

Tomorrow, the Cubs send Jon Lester (8-8, 3.21) up against Daniel Norris (1-1, 4.76) before they start a long series against the Atlanta Braves.

Playoff schedule announced

It is hard to say where the Cubs will fall when the playoffs begin, but it seems fairly possible that they will at least get the second wild card spot at this point, so it is interesting to see what the playoff schedule will look like.  I certainly hope we have plenty of cold weather Cubs baseball to look forward to, especially given that the Bears are probably going to be a pure dumpster fire this season. But that’s another subject.

Wild Card Games:

American League – Tuesday, October 6

National League – Wednesday, October 7

ALDS:

Begins Thursday, October 8

NLDS:

Begins Friday, October 9

ALCS:

Begins Friday, October 16

NLCS:

Begins Saturday, October 17

World Series:

Begins Tuesday, October 27 (This means that if it goes to game 7, it would fall on Wednesday, November 4.)

Down on the farm

The Cubs signed Korean high schooler Kwang-Min Kwon to a $1.2 million bonus on Monday. The 17 year old outfielder is an interesting signing for the Cubs and will be a good name to keep an eye on, as the level of bonus money suggests that the Cubs have high hopes for him. Given his age, he is not likely to be making an appearance in the majors (if he ever does) any time soon, but he will be fun to follow, I suspect.

In South Bend, Ian Happ homered again on Sunday for his 8th of the season and his 4th since joining South Bend. The South Bend Cubs had an off day on Monday, and will host the Dayton Dragons beginning tonight.

For Eugene, Eloy Jimenez doubled and scored a run on Sunday and then follwed it up with a 2 for 4 night last night against the Boise Hawks, a former Cubs affiliate.

In AA Tennessee, Albert Almora doubled and scored a run on Sunday, and then after an off day yesterday, looks to keep the hitting going against the Montgomery Biscuits at home beginning tonight.

For AAA Iowa, Tsuyoshi Wada had a decent outing on Sunday, pitching 5.2 innings of one run ball against Las Vegas. Wada remains a possibility for the rotation if needed, provided he can demonstrate that he will pitch at least decently.


THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

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1913: The Cubs stroke nine straight hits (6 singles, 2 doubles and a home run) off reliever Erskine Mayer in the top of the ninth inning at the Baker Bowl. Chicago’s late offensive barrage produces six runs, helping the team to coast to an easy 10-4 victory over the Phillies. (Many sites erroneously list this game as being played on Aug. 19th with Grover Alexander giving up the big inning)

1982: In the second longest game in franchise history, the Cubs lose to the Dodgers, 2-1. The Wrigley Field contest, which is played over two days, takes a Dusty Baker sacrifice fly and 21 innings to complete.

1989: With his third-inning single off Jim Clancy, Jerome Walton extends his consecutive-game hitting streak to 28 games in a 6-5 loss to Houston at the Astrodome. The 24-year old freshman outfielder ties a modern Cubs’ record established by Ron Santo in 1966.

2010: The front-running Braves acquire slugger Derrek Lee from the Cubs for three minor league pitchers. As a ten-year veteran, who had played at least five years with the same team, the 34 year-old first baseman rejected a trade to the Angels last month because he thought LA had too much of a deficit to make up in the AL West race.

 

 

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Quick Thoughts After the Streak Ends

Monday, August 17th, 2015

All good things must come to an end, and yesterday they came to an end at the hands of Chris Sale  and the White Sox pitching staff, who completely owned the Cubs hitters. It sucks, but it just means we need to start a new streak tomorrow. I had just a few minutes this morning to tap out some thoughts, so here they are in rapid fire.

  • Sale is really good. That’s the first time I’ve been able to watch him pitch and that joker is good.
  • I’m not sure what to do with Starlin Castro at this point. If you missed the game, he made a great tag on a runner to catch him stealing, but dropped a little league throw from Addison Russell at 2nd that almost cost the Cubs a run. I just don’t know anymore.
  • I’ve yet to see anything from Dan Haren that we couldn’t have seen from Tsuyoshi Wada or someone like that down the stretch.
  • With 46 games to play, the Cubs can play .500 ball the rest of the way and win 90 games. Crazy, right?
  • Anthony Rizzo got hit again. I have to imagine his whole body is bruised. I’ll leave it to Lizzie to fantasize about it, but it can’t be pretty.
  • Theo Epstein is done with his contract after next season. Let’s get him re-signed immediately.

That is all for today. Enjoy the day off and get ready for the Tigers tomorrow.

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5 Things Cub Fans Need To Know on August 16th

Sunday, August 16th, 2015

The Streak Keeps Building

CUBS 6 @ WHITE SOX 3 – The Cubs are turning into appointment television now. I got home yesterday from a day with the wife and kids and found that my internet was down with an hour to go before the Cubs game. I raised hell with Centurylink and got that messed fixed and only missed the first inning. With yesterday’s win, the Cubs have now won nine in a row and 15 of their last 16. I feel like a total moron after saying on Twitter that this team is done after being swept by the Phillies. Since then this team is on fire.

Jake Arrieta got the start and struggled a bit early, but in the end he did Jake things and managed to pitch into at least the 7th inning and only allow three earned runs. I think he has a legit shot at competing for the Cy Young award this year if he can keep up this run.

Offensively, we did enough to keep winning. No home runs, but everyone except Starlin Castro and Chris Coghlan contributed in some way offensively. Defense was a different story. There were times yesterday between Arrieta’s over throw to first or Kris Bryant‘s drop of a ball at third when they had a runner in a pickle that made you shake your head and think they were going to blow the game.

In the end, the White Sox are not a good team. When you play bad teams, it doesn’t take as much to beat them.

With the streak now at nine for the first time since 2008, the Cubs next try to get to 12, which was something they did in 2001.

Braves Sign Jackson

An old friend signed a deal yesterday with the Atlanta Braves. They signed Edwin Jackson to a deal for the rest of the season. The reason this is newsworthy is because Jackson was still scheduled to be paid next year. There may be questions as to who picks that contract up. Unfortunately, it is still the Cubs. Edwin will be paid the pro-rated minimum by the Braves this year and his $16 mil for next year will be paid by the Cubs. If he is on a roster next season, the salary he is paid comes off the $16 tab owed by the Cubs.

Pitcher Rehab

There has been word this weekend on both Rafael Soriano and Neil Ramirez. In my opinion, both are bad news. Ramirez doesn’t appear close to being able to begin a rehab assignment, which means the Cubs would possibly be without him the remaining part of the year…bad news. Soriano appears close to starting a rehab assignment, which means he would be close to returning soon…bad news.

Down On The Farm

Some nice starting pitching outings last night down on the farm. Carlos Pimentel tossed seven innings for the Iowa Cubs (AAA), allowing just one run on four hits while striking out six. He’s now 10-5 on the year with a 2.95 ERA.

Ryan Williams got the start for the Smokies (AA) and went six innings, allowing one run on three hits and striking out four. He’s 8-2 with a 2.60 ERA this season.

Paul Blackburn contributed a quality start as well, going seven innings, allowing one run on four hits while striking out nine for Myrtle Beach (A). He’s 6-5 with a 2.99 ERA on the season.

Be encouraged by the farm.

What’s On Tap?

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5 Things for Cubs Fans to Know on August 15

Saturday, August 15th, 2015

1. Game Notes (Cubs win, 6-5)

In game 1 of the so-called “Crosstown Cup,” (I don’t care for the name, call it the Red Line Series if you’re going to call it anything at all) the Cubs emerged the victors in what proved to be a tight game. The pitching matchup was the most interesting thing going into the game, as it was Jeff Samardzija‘s first time facing the Cubs, and I kind of expected him to bring his best stuff. Shark did manage to go 6 full innings, but he gave up all 6 of the Cubs runs during that span. Homeruns from Anthony Rizzo and Chris Coghlan early in the game set the tone, and though the White Sox managed to pull ahead off of a homerun from Adam Eaton, Coghlan’s second bomb of the afternoon in the 5th inning proved to be the deciding factor.

Starlin Castro got his first start since August 6, but it was at 2B. I found it very encouraging to see him get 3 hits and not strike out at all, but at this point I need to see that kind of performance much, much more consistently before I’m willing to trust him as a starter again. I suspect he may fill his next starting role in a different team’s uniform in 2016. Even with 3 strikeouts, Dexter Fowler was able to get 2 hits yesterday and score both times he got on base.

Tonight, Jake Arrieta (13-6, 2.38) faces Jose Quintana (6-9, 3.59) for game 2 of this series.

2. Who’s the catalyst?

The Cubs have now won 8 games in a row for the first time since 2008, and are now 13 of their last 14. The question then turns to wondering what has caused this streak. Sometimes teams just get hot at the right time and see their players all doing the right things at the right time, but in this case I think you can pinpoint much of the change to perhaps just two players. Now, I’m sure we could name several other factors along with these two, but I think much of the recent success can be attributed to Fowler and Coghlan.

First, Fowler, because he has not stopped getting on base in the last month. Since July 11, there is just one game (on August 9) in which he didn’t get on base one way or another. And in those games, he’s been on base more than once in 18 games. That kind of table setting from your lead off hitter is exactly what you need, and thankfully the added presence of Kyle Schwarber and Coghlan behind him in the order has meant that he’s scoring a lot of runs as well.

The other catalyst that might be easy to overlook is Coghlan. First, for his defensive flexibility. Prior to this season, Coghlan had played 2B just twice in his career (once as a rookie in 2009 and once for 2/3 of an inning in 2013). Other than that, he has been almost exclusively an outfielder. At the plate, Coghlan has been about as steady as a hitter can be, especially for the last two months. He hovers usually in the high .240s, which is fine because it means he’s averaging nearly a hit per game. He’s also drawing walks at a slightly higher rate than he did in 2014 and is hitting for more power than he ever has.

3. Who starts a one game playoff?

While I think it’s quite premature to be asking a question like this, Buster Olney did raise an interesting question on his blog yesterday, so I think it’s worth giving some thought to, even if it is still mid-August. Olney boiled the options down to either Jon Lester or Jake Arrieta, which I think to start we can all agree are the two most logical choices at this point.

While Arrieta has been about as dominant as a pitcher can be so far this season (he is 4th in the National League in WAR behind Zack Greinke, Max Scherzer, and Jacob deGrom), I think I would prefer Lester in this situation (“yips” be damned, and all) for two very simple reasons. One, he has the playoff experience. That holds a value that is, of course, hard to quantify, but it is not meaningless. Lester’s playoff experience is vast (he has 12 starts in the playoffs and 2 World Series appearances), and I think he is starting to hit his stride. Keeping in mind that he missed most of spring training, he has really put together a very nice season. The start was a bit rough, sure, but he was essentially having his spring training in April and even into May. With the exception of his most recent start, in which he threw 6 innings of 2 run ball against Milwaukee, Lester had gone at least 7 innings in 7 straight starts and has dropped his ERA from 3.74 to 3.21. I think he’s pitching like the premier free agent we signed back in December, and the timing is perfect. With a very tough month of September coming up, we will need out pitching to be great.

4. Will Schwarber cool off?

This is, of course, very hard to predict, but typically a new hitter starts off as hot as Schwarber has eventually runs into a wall when the pitchers around the league adjust to him. I tend to want to fight the urge to wait for the other shoe to drop, but Schwarber doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who is going to slump majorly, at least not this year. In his time with the Cubs this season, he has never gone more than a few games without getting on base somehow, and he tends to get hits in bunches (there are 10 multi hit games for him this season in 32 games so far this season). His approach has been impressive so far, as I have not seen him expand his strike zone too often, which can typically be a struggle for rookies. I expect for at least the remainder of 2015 that we will see Schwarber continue to hit pretty consistently. He’s sitting just under .330 now, and I would not be surprised to see him finish the year comfortably over .300.

5. Down on the farm

The minor league seasons are winding down, as most of them have just a few more weeks left. In South Bend, Ian Happ hit his first career grand slam against Beloit on Thursday to lead them to a win.

Albert Almora keeps hitting in AA Tennessee, getting a double and a single on Thursday night and then another hit last night.

In Iowa, Tommy La Stella went 2 for 4 with a homerun on Thursday. Last night, he went 1 for 4 with a double. La Stella will undoubtedly be up with the Cubs at least when rosters expand, but if the Cubs do make a waiver trade before this month ends, La Stella is making himself an intriguing piece of a possible trade.


THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

No Cubs related events today, but this is the anniversary of Nolan Ryan‘s last career win in 1993.

 

 

 

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4 Predictions for This Weekend’s Cubs Series Against the #WhiteSox

Friday, August 14th, 2015

I’m going to go with something a little different this morning. Instead of 5 things you need to know, I’m going to make 5 predictions for the series.

1. Castro Will Start At Least One Game at SS

To be honest, there really is no reason for Starlin Castro to be in the lineup at this point, given the fact that the offense is clicking and the team is on fire, but if the Cubs want to be able to move him this off-season, and you can bet they do, they have to at least give him some time in the lineup. I think he gets one start to give Addison Russell a day off and I think it comes Sunday against Chris Sale. My reasoning would be that Castro has seen Sale before, while Russell has not, and it would give the Cubs a chance to keep from having Russell up there against such a good pitcher. Mark it down, Castro starts on Sunday.

2. Soler Goes Ballistic

I don’t have any evidence to back this one up, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Jorge Soler is about to get really hot and I think it starts this weekend. I look for him to have at least two home runs this weekend and go on a mini-run to show what he’s capable of. I think a lot of people have lost a little faith in him and consider him tradeable. This weekend, you get a picture of the future.

3. Samardzija Gives Us The Finger

While I don’t think Jeff Samardzija will physically give us the middle finger, though how cool would that be, I do think he has had this start circled on his calendar all week. I think it’s going to be his playoff game today and it scares me to death knowing that all we’re throwing out there is Kyle Hendricks. I fear the win streak ends today after an eight inning outing of less than two runs allowed and the Sox take game one.

4. Cubs Win Two of Three

While I don’t think game one goes our way, this team is too hot to lose this series to a team that has been mediocre all year. I think Jake Arrieta comes out and does Arrieta things on Saturday and we tie the series and then I think Dan Haren shows why Theo and Jed wanted him and outduels Sale on Sunday to give us the series win.

What are your predictions for this series?

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5 Things for Cubs Fans to Know on August 13

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

1. Game Notes (Cubs win, 3-2)

The last two weeks have had the feel of a historic stretch written all over them so far. My hope is that we are all truly appreciating the significance of what we are seeing, as the Cubs of 2015 are greatly surpassing expectations thus far. At this point in the season, they would have to plummet badly to drop to the 85 win total that most people predicted before the season began. Not to say that it’s impossible, but this has the makings of a team that is likely to win closer to 90 games when it’s all over with.

Last night’s game was not at all short on drama, both at the plate and on defense. Before I go further, I have to comment on the defensive wizardry of Anthony Rizzo. While he deservedly gets most of the attention for his offense, he channeled his inner Ozzie Smith and made two plays in particular that should both be Top Ten worthy. First, the double play throw to third, and then the ridiculous catch that involved  climbing the tarp and jumping into the stands.

In the 9th, with a 2-1 lead, Joe Maddon sent Hector Rondon to the mound to try and secure the save, and for a bit it looked like he was going to replicate his performance from Sunday, but it didn’t work out that way. After a single from Ryan Braun and an error by Addison Russell put Adam Lind safely on base, a passed ball moved both runners into scoring position with no outs. Two consecutive strikeouts later, it looked like we were going to get out of it unscathed. A two strike passed ball then allowed Braun to score, and the lead was lost. It’s tempting to blame Rondon for that inning, but it seemed to me like Russell could have  taken a second to set himself and make a better throw, which probably means that Braun is out and Lind only ever makes it to third, but we’ll never know. Thankfully due to a Miguel Montero walk off homerun in the 10th, it doesn’t matter.

This afternoon we’ll face Tyler Cravy in the series finale.

2. Utley to the Giants looks likely

We’ve probably all been keeping our eye on the possibility of Chase Utley being a part of a waiver trade this month, but word came out yesterday that the Phillies and Giants are going over trade options, so it seems as though he is most likely headed to the west coast.

This felt like the most likely waiver deal scenario for the Cubs, or at least what would have been the most noteworthy, so it’s possible that the Cubs make no major splash before August 31 or that they may not necessarily be out on Utley just yet. It’s still possible, but I don’t expect anything significant until the offseason.

3. Standings watch

In spite of being now 16 games above .500 and winning 12 of their last 13 games, the Cubs remain 1.5 games behind second place Pittsburgh and 8.5 behind the Cardinals, but they are 4.5 games ahead of the Giants for the second Wild Card spot. The Cardinals and Pirates are wrapping up a series against each other tonight in which the Cardinals have one the first two games. St. Louis will go on to play the Marlins at home before hosting the Giants for 3 games, and the Pirates have to head to New York to face the Mets who have won their last 7 games in a row. The Cubs won’t see either the Cardinals or the Pirates until September.

4. Roster moves

I did not mention it in yesterday’s post, but David Ross was activated from the bereavement list on Tuesday following the death of his grandmother. This sent Matt Szczur back to Iowa almost immediately after he was called up to the join the Cubs again this season.

Starlin Castro made his second appearance and second base, and again, did a nice job. The aforementioned Russell play was deemed a throwing error on Addison, but Castro made an impressive attempt to get to the ball and at least keep things from getting even worse. Castro came into the game to pinch hit for Clayton Richard and flew out in his at bat.

5. Down on the farm

Yesterday I mentioned the hot streak that Jeffrey Baez has been on in South Bend, and it continued last night, as he went 2 for 5 and raised his average to .273. Also in South Bend, Gleyber Torres had a 6 game hitting streak going before he went hitless last night in Beloit.

In AA Tennessee, Albert Almora collected another hit, and OF Billy McKinney is seeing his stock rise in the system as well. McKinney is a name that often gets missed in some of the prospect talk, but he is very much worth keeping an eye on.

For the AAA Iowa Cubs, Javier Baez drew a walk and hit an RBI triple last night to help the Cubs beat the Nashville Sounds. Arismendy Alcantara hit a homerun to drive in one of the other runs, but one can only hope that this is a sign of life from Alcantara, who has been putrid of late and has not really had a good season at all in 2015.


THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1906: John W. Taylor is replaced by a reliever for the first time since June of 1901 when the Brooklyn Superbas knock him out of the game in the third inning. During the five-year span, the Orphans’ right-hander completed a remarkable 1,727 innings of work that included 187 consecutive complete games as well as finishing up 15 games in relief.

1969: After being swept by Houston, the eventual World Champion Mets drop to their farthest point behind in the NL East race, ten games behind the front-running Cubs. The third-place New York team will finish the season at a torrid 39-11 pace, finishing the season eight games in front of Chicago.

1979: Against the team that traded him, Lou Brock reaches the 3000 hits milestone when his line drive caroms off Dennis Lamp‘s pitching hand in the 3-2 Cardinal victory over the Cubs at Busch Stadium. The 40-year old Redbird outfielder, who will retire at the end of the season with a lifetime .293 batting average, is the fourteenth major leaguer to reach the coveted plateau. You can see video here.

1987: Billy Williams joins Ernie Banks as the second Cubs player to be honored by having his uniform number (26) being retired by the team. Sweet Swingin’ Billy from Whistler (AL) played 16 of his 18 major league seasons in the Windy City, hitting .296 and 392 home runs for Chicago.

 

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5 Things Cubs Fans Need to Know for August 12

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

1. Game Notes (Cubs win, 6-3)

The Cubs are on a ridiculous roll right now, and that continued with last night’s win over the Brewers. Dan Haren made his second start since joining the Cubs at the trade deadline, and his first for them at Wrigley Field. Haren did the kind of job last night that you can’t complain about too loudly, especially considering his role with the team. He threw 5.1 innings of 3 run ball, but what was very impressive was that he got 6 strikeouts in that time. The Cubs scored all 6 of their runs while he was on the mound, so he left them with a pretty comfortable 6-3 lead. Neither team scored after that, thanks to scoreless innings in relief from Travis Wood, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop, and James Russell‘s first save of the season.

The Cubs scored 6 in thanks primarily to the bats of Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler, and Dexter Fowler. They struck early, scoring 3 of their runs in the 2nd inning, and then adding another in the 3rd, and finally 2 more in the 4th. Brewers starter Taylor Jungmann didn’t make it through 3 innings, and even when Tyler Thornburg came in relief, they kept scoring. It wasn’t until Kyle Lohse, who was shifted to the bullpen recently, came in that the Cubs stopped scoring.

Tonight they’ll face Matt Garza, who they beat on August 1.

2. Starlin is on 2nd

The benching of Starlin Castro has been well chronicled by now, but last night we saw his first appearance on the field and at the plate. Prior to the game, word came out that he would start getting some looks there, but I did not expect to see it right away like we did. His defensive performance was actually fairly impressive, particularly this play. This has already led to continued trade speculation, but keep in mind that most players are on waivers during August, so a trade is not necessarily any more likely simply because he’s playing a little at second.

At the plate, Castro had just one at bat and he popped out.

3. Utley cleared waivers

Chase Utley has been a rumored waiver deal target for the Cubs, and he recently cleared waivers, meaning he could now be traded to any team. The Giants have been heavily rumored to be interested in him lately, but he has also been linked to the Cubs. Utley has looked pretty good since returning from injury, and poses the intriguing possibility of valuable veteran presence in the clubhouse and a still decent bat in the lineup when needed. However, if the Cubs did acquire Utley, it seems like the middle infield becomes even more crowded, so perhaps a move of another infielder would be necessary.

In his last 5 games since returning from an injury that has kept him out since June 22, Utley has raised his batting average from .179 to .196 with 7 hits in those 5 games.

4. Key guys heating up?

There are two guys on the Cubs offense who I think may be helping to provide the extra boost that they need to keep winning like they have. The Cubs are currently on pace to win 92 games, which would be just 5 off of 2008′s finish and 4 better than 2003. Both Fowler and Soler have put together a very nice string of games. Fowler in particular has had a very helpful month at the plate, drawing walks at a rate much higher (almost 20% in the last 3 weeks or so) than he did in the first half of the season (9.4%). Soler though, is quietly on a 10 game hitting streak. He’s still not hitting for power (no homeruns since July 19), and has just one double in those 10 games, but he’s getting himself on base and scoring pretty nicely, with 5 runs in those 10 games.

 5. Down on the farm

Tommy La Stella watch: He was activated from the 60 day DL yesterday and optioned to AAA Iowa. Though La Stella has appeared in 10 games for AA Tennessee while rehabbing, being activated and optioned to Iowa means he’s back on the 40 man roster and can be called up to the Cubs at any point. In his 10 rehab games, he hit .250 with 3 doubles and just 1 strikeout in 36 at bats.

I mentioned Albert Almora‘s improvement in yesterday’s post, but today I think I would be remiss not to mention Jeffrey Baez. He’s been on an absurd tear, hitting .447 in his last 10 games for single A South Bend. Baez has never been particularly impressive at the plate in his career, but this latest stretch of games has been fun to follow.

Speaking of Baezezes, Javier Baez has cooled down a bit, going 3 for his last 27. I think we know by now what he can do in AAA, so I am anxious to see him brought up just to test whether or not his adjustments at the plate are really going to help him in the majors. He is a player I am really rooting for personally, so I want to see what he can do. This call up is not looking likely until roster expansion, however.


THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

 No Cubs events on this day in history, but this is the anniversary of the 1984 “Bean Brawl Game.” You can see some video of it here.

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