Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Cy Young Winner’s Career Possibly Over, Big Trades & More!

Monday, July 7th, 2014

We’re right around the corner from the MLB All-Star game, but let’s not think too far ahead. This week was full of big news and even included a blockbuster trade. Let’s get caught up!

Sabathia’s Season, Possibly Career, Over 

Throughout his entire career, people have criticized New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia for his weight, and they’ve said time and time again that his excess baggage would eventually cause his career to end sooner than it should. This offseason, he took that criticism to heart and changed things.

Coming into this year, Sabathia had trimmed down to 275, which is quite a bit less than the 300+ he was carrying just a year or two before. Unfortunately for CC, this reduced strain on his knees wasn’t enough to prevent the possible microfracture surgery that he could be facing.

Manager Joe Girardi has already said that he doesn’t expect him back this season, but this surgery could potentially end his career. It’s more typical in the NBA, with players such as Greg Oden and Amar’e Stoudemire having gone through the same procedure, and the results for those players haven’t really been all that promising.

If we’ve now seen the last of Sabathia, we can safely say that he can look back and be proud of the career he’s had. With 208 wins he’s currently one of the active leaders, and someone who was once seen as having an outside shot at 300 wins. Given my disdain for the Yankees, I can’t say I have too many fond memories of him in pinstripes, but I can say it was a joy to watch him during his run with Milwaukee where he carried the Brewers to the playoffs. Was that stretch the most dominant half season of the last decade?

Red Sox, Orioles Exchange Insults

In a bit more AL East news, the Baltimore Orioles are once again at the heart of some non-baseball related drama. First, it was Manny Machado throwing his bat at the Oakland Athletics, and now it’s their manager, Buck Showalter, trading insults with Boston Red Sox pitcher John Lackey.

Admittedly, this one is at the fault of Lackey. After being roughed up by the Orioles (his third consecutive poor start) Lackey made an underhanded comment about Nelson Cruz, who went 5-for-5 in the game and 3-for-3 off of him. “I’ve got nothing to say about him. There are some things I’d like to say about him, but I’m not going to. You guys forget pretty conveniently about stuff.”

This, of course, was a reference to Cruz’s suspension last season for PED use. Showalter didn’t take long for to respond to this, saying that, “everybody needs to make sure that their own backyard is clean.”

While this has provided for some headlines across the sporting world, it all could have been avoided if Lackey would have just kept his mouth shut. There was really no reason for him to make the comments that he did, other than just being bitter about getting rocked by him. He’s had a great year, but he needs to focus on baseball rather than getting into a war of words. Who do you think is in the right in this situation?

The Shark Is Finally On The Move

Watch out, Bay Area, a shark is coming to the area.

…I can’t believe I just wrote that. Terrible headlines aside, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel heading to Oakland may be the biggest blockbuster that we’ll see this season, and it occurred after months and months of speculation.

Some Cubs fans may not be happy with the return of Addison Russell, Billy McKinney and Dan Straily, but as Joe Aiello noted the other day, you just can’t be sure of what other teams were offering for them separately without having been involved in the trade discussions personally.

In my mind, both teams won here, but this largely favors the Cubs in the long run. Russell is one of the top prospects in all of baseball and adds to an already stacked farm for the team, and that’s not even mentioning that McKinney was the Athletics number 2 prospect.

Sure, it may be tough to see current talent moved for future prospects, but I don’t think the Cubs were going to get a better return than this. Samardzija is going to want big money on the open market and he probably wasn’t going to return to Chicago, and Hammel was just a one-year rental that they were going to flip regardless. After having a few days to think about it, what are your thoughts on the trade?

This Week’s MVP: Steve Pearce (.379/.406/.793, 3 HR, 10 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 21 K)

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Cubs 1, Nationals 2 – Game Notes

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

MVP – Jordan Zimmermann (.355 WPA)

When you leave 12 men on base, it’s hard to win the ballgame. The Cubs had their chance today with guys on base all day. They just couldn’t capitalize on it and convert for more than one run. It’s a little frustrating to come away from the Nationals series on the road with just one win, but when you think about the start to the trip so far, we’re 4-2 heading to Cincinnati. I’ll take that.

Looking at the box score, you’ll see that both Jake Arrieta and Zimmermann had a game score of 62, but I thought Arrieta was much more effective, especially later in the start when he started striking guys out. His lone earned run came in the first inning after Denard Span hit a double to lead off the game. From then on, Arrieta really wasn’t in much trouble and finished the day with a quality start. He did his job, and the offense didn’t help. When you look at this team and their expected record base on run differential, you’ll see they should be better than they are. However, that has been due to the outstanding pitching, and not the offense. The offense continues to be the problem. Thankfully there is offense on the horizon.

Misc. Nuggets

  • The Cubs recalled Blake Parker from AAA Iowa to take the open roster spot from the trade. Parker has been closing games in Iowa this season and doing a good job at it. He’s finished 23 games in 25 innings of work, accounting for a 18 saves.
  • The Cubs announced their starting pitchers for the five game series in Cincinnati. Monday will be Edwin Jackson, Tuesday will be Travis Wood in game one and Tsuyoshi Wada making his Major League debut in the nightcap. Wednesday will be a guy named TBD, who is apparently really durable and will take the ball again in the series finale on Thursday. In all seriousness I’d look for Dallas Beeler to get one of those starts. The other one I’m not so sure on. Chris Rusin would make sense since he’s already on the roster, but I’d really rather not see that. I’d rather see him get optioned in favor of Dan Straily.
  • The Yankees designated long time Cubs outfielder, Alfonso Soriano, for assignment. Considering the Cubs were already paying $14 million of the $19 million that was owed to him, it actually would make sense to bring him back. This outfield can’t really be any worse. With the exception of Justin Ruggiano, who’s really hitting enough to warrant an every day job?
  • Kris Bryant and Juan Paniagua were named minor league hitter and pitcher of the month for June in the Cubs system.
  • There was a dude in the 7th inning at Nationals park that played God Bless America on a baseball bat violin. It was amazing.
  • Starlin Castro was elected to the All Star game and Anthony Rizzo is on the final ballot for the fans.
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“We Spit Out A Bad Ballgame”

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

MVP – Gio Gonzalez (.173 WPA)

The title were the words uttered by Renteria when asked if the loss today was a direct result of the trade last night that gutted 40% of the starting rotation. Obviously he played the good soldier and said that it wasn’t. From the emotional standpoint, I actually agree with him. From a logistical standpoint, I don’t. Unfortunately, Jeff Samardzija was scheduled to start the game today, which left the team in a mini bind in that area. The names on the 40 man roster who are candidates to take the spot in the rotation (Dallas Beeler, Chris Rusin, Tsuyoshi Wada, and Kyle Hendricks) were all on short rest, which meant Carlos Villanueva was tabbed as the emergency starter. Wada will get in the rotation for a start as part of the double header on Tuesday. Prior to the game, Noah asked me on Twitter if I thought it might be better for the Cubs to let Villanueva get a few starts before the deadline in an effort to drum up some trade interest. Today is exactly why I don’t think it’s a good idea. Villanueva is not a good pitcher and really shouldn’t even be on the roster. I do not want him in my rotation. I’d rather see what we have in the minors. I know what we have in Villanueva.

I’m not sure what you say about a game like this. We flat-lined fairly early in this one and there really wasn’t a good way to come back. I was going to write this game off as a loss and not even watch, but instead I watched it and feel foolish for doing so. We just have to put it in the books and come out tomorrow with a chance to win the series behind Jake Arrieta, who has been darn near perfect of late.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • I feel like we’re inching closer and closer to seeing a demotion of Mike Olt to AAA in an effort to get him on track. Had the Cubs not promoted Kris Bryant, I think it would have happened already. He’s not an effective part of this roster today and it’s harder and harder each game to justify giving him at bats. I like Olt and I like the power he brings to the table, but another 0-f0r-day with multiple strikeouts just seems to be the norm. With Arismendy Alcantara knocking at the door in the minor leagues, I think Olt and / or Darwin Barney are seeing their jobs in jeopardy.
  • Jonathan Sanchez has been released by the organization. Sanchez had planned on pitching out of the pen in AAA, got in one game and sucked. Happy trails, Mr Sanchez.
  • 6th round pick, Dylan Cease, has agreed to terms over the weekend. Cease was considered by many to be a first or second round talent, but is scheduled for Tommy John surgery and so he dropped. Jim Callis really likes the signing. It means the Cubs have agreed to terms with all of their first 10 selections and came in under budget.
  • John Sickels of Minorleagueball.com checked in with his thoughts on the deal yesterday with the A’s.
  • Theo Epstein talked about the trade, saying “There was no pitcher available who was even close to the caliber of player that Addison Russell is”. I agree with the philosophy. Trade for talent and sort it out from there.
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Why You Should Be In Favor of the Cubs Weekend Trade

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

Admit it. You’ve done things at night that when you wake up the next morning, your feelings toward those actions have changed, most often for the worse. There’s that tattoo on the small of your back or, God forbid, your butt. Perhaps it’s that hideous looking young lady you made out with as a result of beer goggles the night before. It’s happened to everyone. Last night Theo and Jed pulled the trigger on a massive deal involving both of their major assets in the rotation. There have been some who have praised the deal and other fans who have been quite critical of it, particularly on Twitter. After sleeping on it last night, I’d like to present my case for why a skeptical Cubs fan who’s tired of losing can get behind this deal.

Combining Both Pitchers in One Trade – The fact of the matter is, the Cubs are not in an position to contend this year. We knew a deal was going to go down for Jason Hammel and we knew a deal was probably going to happen with Jeff Samardzija. What we didn’t know was that they would both go together. It’s easy to criticize that move and complain that the combined deal may have caused the return to be diminished, but I would argue that it’s hard to know the full picture without being in the room when discussions are taking place. We simply don’t know what the value of Samardzija and Hammel was to other teams. We’ve seen rumors of what the Cubs were asking for, but asking for and getting in return are two separate animals. If nothing else, the leaked Astros trade discussions should have taught us that. If you’re going to trust that Theo and Jed have a plan, then it’s important to trust that they had a reason combining the two into the same deal. My guess would be that the market for these guys just wasn’t what they wanted it to be on their own and by combining them, it allowed the Cubs to get a player in Addison Russell, who can either be a major part of the future or who can be a major part of a deal to acquire starting pitching down the road.

The Hugeness of Russell in the Deal – Russell is a shortstop. So is Javier Baez and Starlin Castro. Even Arismendy Alcantara could be considered a shortstop. Why the need to deal for a shortstop and not a starting pitcher? That is a valid question and I have a valid answer for you. I believe the acquisition of Russell is a precursor to another move to bring in the type of starting pitcher that the Cubs want to build around, and I don’t think it’s a prospect. My guess is that by bringing in Russell, it allows the Cubs a surplus of talent at one of the most highly coveted positions in the game. With Castro rebounding and signed on the cheap for a long term deal and Baez and Russell both on the cusp of the Majors, the Cubs have elite talent at that position. I believe one of those names will be used in a deal to acquire a front line starter. Couple that move with a free agency to bring in someone like Jon Lester or Max Scherzer and I think this rotation can be right back in line with where it needs to be, if not better.

Keith Law’s take on Russell serves for more encouragement:

Russell is a top-five prospect in the game, a true shortstop with an advanced bat who shows good on-base skills and line-drive power, even though he’s just 20 years old in Class AA. He has some of the best hands I’ve ever seen on a prospect, both as a fielder and at the plate. He slimmed down before his senior year of high school to prove to scouts that he could stay at shortstop, and he has the soft, quick hands for the position, as well as plenty of arm, though he needs refinement on his footwork to remain there. At the plate, he has a simple, fluid swing that produces hard line-drive contact and should eventually lead to 15 to 20 homers a year, if not more. His approach at the plate is already advanced and continues to improve; he came into July 4 with as many walks as strikeouts in his brief Double-A tenure, which was interrupted by a hamstring tear that cost him more than two months. He could still be ready for the major league club next spring, though a return engagement in the Arizona Fall League to make up for the lost at-bats would help significantly. In the long term, he’s a potential All-Star at shortstop who posts high OBPs with the aforementioned power and above-average defense.

Getting the deal for Russell is huge. You can never have enough shortstops in your system. They are the best athletes on the field and can easily adjust to one of the other positions on the diamond.

The Continued Success of the Starting Pitcher Flip – This is the part of this organization that continues to be amazing to me, and we saw it again this season. Take a look at the recent success with this strategy by this regime and you can’t help but step back and be excited about the fact that we did it again.

2012 – Cubs sign Paul Maholm to a one year deal with the intention of capitalizing on his low price tag and moving him in a flip deal. Maholm does well and is moved to the Braves for Jaye Chapman and Arodys Vizcaino. While Chapman didn’t factor into the long term plans of the organization, Vizcaino currently sits as the # 10 prospect in a loaded farm system. He’s got a power arm and should be a factor in the bullpen for this team moving forward. I’m a big believer in what he brings to the table.

2012 – Cubs trade Ryan Dempster, who was on his way out anyway, to the Rangers for Kyle Hendricks and Christian Villanueva. Hendricks went 13-4 last season with an ERA of 2.00 combined over two levels in the minors. He ranks 16th on the top 20 list in the organization and Villanueva sits at 13th. Once again, rebuilding the stockpile with guys who were going to go anyway.

2013Scott Feldman enters the picture with a one year deal and is shipped to the Orioles with Steve Clevenger for Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop. I think we have seen how this deal has worked out.

2013Matt Garza is moved before free agency to the Rangers (they didn’t learn from the year before) for C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm Neil Ramirez, and Mike Olt. Edwards ranks 5th on our list and Grimm and Ramirez have both been useful pieces in the bullpen. If Mike Olt can do anything, this would be a complete whitewash of a deal.

Take comfort in this deal. Trust that the return is one that we should be proud of.

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Cubs Send Jeff Samardzija AND Jason Hammel to Oakland

Friday, July 4th, 2014

Tonight the Cubs celebrated the 4th of July with some fireworks of their own. Late this evening, Twitter was abuzz about a deal involving not one, but both of the main trade pieces the Cubs had on the market this season. The deal has reportedly been finalized and will look as follows:

Chicago SendsJeff Samardzija & Jason Hammel

Oakland SendsAddison Russell, Billy McKinney, and Dan Straily

It’s going to take a few days before we can really know the final workings of the deal, as some are reporting their is also a player to be named later also coming to Chicago as part of the deal. In the meantime, here are my thoughts.

Samardzija - It’s been pretty clear over the last few weeks that the Cubs seemed to be at an impasse with him and that he was all but gone. However, watching the recent success of the team, I began to wonder if it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to pay the price and extend him. I couldn’t really come to a feeling either way. One one hand, we’re seeing so many arms blow out so early now that it’s hard to justify paying for pitching on a long term basis, but on the other hand, you can’t win without it.

HammelI wrote about the fact that Hammel was a little frustrated about being pulled after just over 90 pitches and I think we now know why. My guess is the deal began to seriously heat up while the game was going on and as a result, word was probably sent to the dugout to end his outing after six innings of work. We knew what we had in Hammel, a guy who was brought hear to show that the worry about his arm was nothing and to hopefully catch lightning in a bottle for a flip deal. That’s exactly what we got. I don’t think he’s going to be the type of player that Oakland is expecting him to be, but I don’t think it will work out as poorly for them as it has for the Rangers and Orioles in their dealings for Cubs starting pitching the last two years. Hammel filled a role and we wave goodbye.

RussellThis is the piece that is returning that appears to be the piece that most frustrates Cubs fans, which baffles me. While Russell is a SS, he’s so incredibly young for the level he’s been playing at since he was drafted and projects as a future star. Here are his scouting grades on a 20-80 scale.

Russell Scouting Grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 60 | Run: 55 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 65

Now, compare those with Javier Baez

Baez Scouting Grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 70 | Run: 50 | Arm: 65 | Field: 50 | Overall: 65

Russell is a huge piece of the deal and is currently listed as the 11th best prospect in all of baseball on MiLB.com’s top 100 list. Remember, it’s not always about getting what you “need”, but getting value in return. If Russell brings value, and he definitely does, then it continues to accelerate the rebuild process. Getting Russell is huge.

Billy McKinneyI talked today in my game notes that I was a little worried about the state of the OF in this system. Junior Lake is not the answer to any long term OF question. Former top guys like Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson are not either. That leaves two main names in the system that the Cubs are counting on as true outfielders, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler. Almora has struggled a little this season and Soler can’t seem to stay on the field due to injuries. Adding another OF bat is a big plus.

Dan Straily - He immediately slots into the Cubs rotation, with two slots open. My guess is that the other spot will be filled by Tsuyoshi Wada, but no word has come out as of yet. Other options could be Dallas Beeler, Kyle Hendricks, and Chris Rusin. Straily is young and is working on his third year of starting in the Majors. I’ll take that.

There are also rumors that a PTBNL could be coming and some have speculated that it would be Raul Alcantara, who is the A’s 4th rated prospect, but who is rehabbing from Tommy John this season. We’ll have to see how that shakes out.

Ultimately, I like the deal. We add more high ceiling guys for two guys we weren’t going to build around. The more talent we have, the easier it becomes to acquire the missing pieces we need via trade. Overall, I like what went down tonight.

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Cubs Win Streak Hits Four and Jason Hammel is Not Happy.

Friday, July 4th, 2014

MVP – Justin Ruggiano (.213 WPA)

Today I had a choice. I could watch the Cubs on WGN face the Nationals, a game I thought seriously about going to, or I could watch the Hot Dog Eating contest. I made the right choice and was rewarded for my efforts with a win that pushed the winning streak to four games. Things have been a little down in the dumps here on the blog, but I think that happens when the team isn’t very good. As the team has begun to come out of the funk a little, my interest, and I’m sure yours as well, has began to increase. Today’s game was fun to watch and I’m glad I did.

The Outfield Wasn’t Offensive – It’s been no secret that the outfield has been less than stellar this season, ranking dead last in OPS in RF and CF. Today the outfield got the job done. I’ll admit that when I saw the lineup and saw the outfield spots filled with Ruggiano, Chris Coghlan and Nate Schierholtz, I was less than impressed. Those got did the job and were a major reason why the offense put up the seven runs they did. If we take the macro approach, it’s obvious that each of the three starters today are not a long term part of the plan, which is encouraging, but at the same time, I’m starting to get a little discouraged at what the outfield plan is going forward. The way I see it, Schierholtz may be dealt, but not for much given how poorly he’s performed this year. Coghlan and Ruggiano are spare parts just laying around, and Junior Lake is part time player. That means the entire future outfield has to come from the farm or via free agency.

Jason Hammel Is Not Happy – If you missed it, Ricky Renteria pulled Hammel after six innings of work, having thrown just 92 pitches so he could get an early start to his favorite game of bullpen merry go round. Hammel wasn’t happy about being lifted, but didn’t blame Ricky. He instead said that he felt it was someone else who is dictating that decision. Obviously he’s insinuating that Theo and Jed have influenced that call, with the assumed reason being an effort to curb pitch count and keep him strong for a trade. Honestly, he went six innings. He pitched fine and got the win. Just get your shower and shut up. Is there a rule that says you have to total more than 100 pitches? Sometimes it’s better to just not speak. I like Hammel and I’d certainly welcome him back with open arms via free agency after a trade this month, but I don’t like when players open their mouth.

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Buried By the 4th of July

Friday, July 4th, 2014

Summer vacation when I was a kid meant playing baseball every day…literally every day.  I am sure you younglings (…you know, in your thirties) have heard this before…from grumpy old curmudgeons like myself.  Atari didn’t arrive until the late 70’s, and even when it did…the sports games (how can I say this?…sucked!), so we still preferred going outside and playing the real thing.  We played 1 on 1, 2 on 2, and 3 on 3…whatever we had.  We creatively game up with ways to adapt; the prototypical one field out (not really the best for developing hitters), estimation ball (this was for one on one match-ups, pitcher and hitter would estimate what the ball in play would be…a hit or an out…yes, it did cause a few arguments), and my favorite option of limited numbers baseball…a Series.

We needed at least two on two for a “Series”, but the general parameters were this; we would play a best of 7 World Series of 3 inning games…with one team picking an American League team and the other selecting a team from the Senior Circuit.  Playing these “series” may be one of my fondest childhood memories; there was no finer way to spend a summer afternoon. Play a series, go for a swim and then hopefully repeat the process the next day.

There was one slight problem with this…my brothers and my neighborhood buddies were all serious baseball fans…and we were sticklers for realism.  Therefore when we would select a team to pretend to be in these little pseudo-series…it had to be a team that was currently a contender.

Guess which team this usually eliminated, and was not considered a realistic choice?

When doing the research for this piece, it really took me back to the process I went through while writing my book. (Details on a July “special” at the end of this column!) While coming up with 105(logical and rational) reasons why the Cubs have not won a World Series in 105 years, I would come up with a theory…do the research on the awesome baseballreference.com, and then get a huge sense of reward at how well the research backed up my theory.   I felt the same satisfaction while completing this piece.

That pounding of the Red Sox was enjoying…and the young guys are knocking at the door…and things may be trending up for the Cubs.  Yet, as far as the 2014 season…the fact is here on July 4th, at best the Cubs will be 8 games under .500 and 11.5 games out of 1st place.  If my buddies and I went out and had a Series today…we wouldn’t be able to choose the Cubs.

These thoughts lead me to examine the Cubs historical positioning on the 4th of July.  I decided to use 1969 as year 1 of my study for a couple reasons; the first, while not the Cubs’ entire history, it provides 45 seasons of evidence. The second; Cubs’ history prior to that are pretty easy to sum up…the Cubs were competitive in the 20’s, really, really good in the 30’s, and just dreadfully rotten from 1945-1967.  Consequently, I began with 1969 and researched where the Cubs stood every year up until 2014 on the 4th of July.  Caution…an alcoholic beverage or an anti-depressant may be required after reading this.

1.     How many times since 1969, have the Cubs been in 1st place on July 4th?

The answer to question 1 is…6 times. Wow, that’s 13 percent! A .130 average…only a little worse than Mike Olt!  The years:

1969       53-28       7.5 game lead                     1984        45-35       1 game lead           

1973      49-34         6 game lead                        2001        48-34       4 game lead

1977      48-28         4 game lead                                   2008         52-35       2.5 game lead

So the first year of our study…46 years ago…is the best.

That’s not a good start.

2.     Okay, so we now know they are rarely in 1st place on July 4th…how about contending? How about seasons where they were within 5 games of 1st place on July 4th?

Including the 6 seasons in which they were actually in 1st place, there have been 16 seasons of the 46 where the Cubs are within 5 games of 1st. (debatably contending) That’s almost 35 percent…an average of .347! Of course that puts the average of not-contending at .652.

3.     Forget standings…how many times have the Cubs been at, our above .500 on July 4th?

As expected, there is a direct correlation here with the last question, but the answer is 17.  Captain Obvious here…but a winning record helps a team contend.  Unfortunately, the Cubs have only had a winning record on July 4th in 37 percent of the seasons since 1969.

4.     Okay…now for some ugliness. How many times have the Cubs been at least 10 games below .500 on July 4th?

17 times of the last 46 seasons the Cubs have been 10 games under the .500 mark on July 4th.  So if we combine that with the 17 seasons where the Cubs were over .500, it displays to us that in 34 of the 46 seasons the Cubs were either in it…or pretty bad.

5.     In how many of those seasons were the Cubs already at least 10 games out of 1st place by July 4th?

Another direct correlation, as the number is 17…but how about this ugliness?

1976   31-46   22.5 games out, 1981(strike year) 15-37 17.5 games out, 1986  31-46 24 games out, 2000 33-49 16 games out…ugh!

One more way to look at this atrociousness:

Years in which the Cubs were in 1st place on July 4th:  6

Years in which the Cubs were at least 15 games out of 1st place on July 4th:  8

So what does all of this “Cubs on July 4th research” tell us? They are rarely in first, they infrequently contend, and more often they are completely out of it.

Yes, it’s a bit depressing….but now for the proverbial silver linings which we Cubs’ fans always have to search for; I think the current front office is well aware of this history…and are attempting to build an organization that is not as feast or famine(mostly famine) as the Cubs have been.  I am a huge Chicago Blackhawks fan, and of course I was upset when they lost the heart-breaking series to the L.A. Kings. Nonetheless, it did not devastate me as Cubs’ losses have historically done. I know with the current state of the Hawks’ organization they will be Cup contenders for years to come.  The Cubs’ failures have a different feel…Cubs’ fans sense that a blown play-off opportunity means the next chance will most likely be years away…and historically they have been correct.

I do believe the team is on the path to consistent contending, but I doubt any kids will be choosing the team when playing a “series” with their neighborhood buddies.

But!…the team will be much better to play with on PlayStation 5, 6 and 7 and all future inclinations of X-Box….that’s progress.


Authors’ note:

If you would like to join the hundreds (okay…it’s probably thousands now) of Cubs fans who have enjoyed my book I will be selling them directly from home during the month of July.  You see, we starving artist types make very little from Amazon, and selling directly is more profitable.  I have two different promos I am running.

1.      A copy of the updated 105 version for $15.99…$16.00 with personalized inscription! (shipping included!)

2.     Buy a copy of 105 and get the 104 version for a total of 18.99…$19.00 with 2 inscriptions! (shipping included!)…keep the 105, and gift the first addition to an in-law that’s a Cubs’ fan

My web-site should be up and running (finally) in a couple of weeks; but if interested the easiest way is to email me at BBCG105Reasons@yahoo.com, or if you follow me on twitter @BBCG105Reasons…contact me directl

Finally, here is a link to the book on Amazon

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Cubs 2, Red Sox 0 – Game Notes

Monday, June 30th, 2014

MVP – Jake Arrieta (.491 WPA)

I think I’ve shared this with you all in the past, but if not, I’ll do it now. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never seen a no-hitter from start to finish on TV or in person live. I can remember a Carlos Zambrano start against the Diamondbacks that I thought he’d do it. I watched Kerry Wood‘s 20K game in which he should have been credited with a no hitter, but I’ve never actually seen a no no. Jake Arrieta got me very close again, but unfortunately the streak remains. I set tonight as appointment television and sat in front of the iPad watching a gem of a game by Arrieta.

In case you were wondering, the totals for the month of June for Arrieta finishes at 31.2 IP, 4 ER, 38 K’s, 4 BB, 1.14 ERA. Throw in Pedro Strop and the deal last year for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger to Baltimore looks awfully good right now for Theo and Jed’s resume.

Watching the rest of the game, there really wasn’t much to make it stand out. For example, I watched the whole game and not till I looked at the box score did I really realize that Chris Coghlan got four at bats and played left field. I never really heard his name. Nate Schierholtz, who people said was breaking out of his funk a few weeks ago, managed to hit a two run home run and that was all she wrote for offense overall. Outside of that, about the most exciting thing was watching two really nice plays by the Red Sox ball girl down the third base line and a one handed grab by Jim Deshaies in the TV booth on a Darwin Barney foul ball. Sometimes it’s the quiet wins that I love the most.

  • Brett Taylor at Bleacher nation notes that Jason Hammel may be the most sought after pitcher on the trade market this season given his price tag and performance. The Blue Jays may be a suitor for him as well as Darwin Barney and Carlos Villanueva. Don’t ask me why on those last two, but if they’re willing to give up something for them, we need to listen.
  • John Sickels had a write up on recent Cubs call up, Dallas Beeler on his site.
  • Theo Epstein addresses rumors that he’d opt out of Chicago after his contract expires in 2016.
  • Jason McLeod has pulled his name from the running for the Padres GM job. We all need to pop a cork and celebrate as he’s a vital cog in this front office wheel.

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Lincecum Blanks Padres Again, $9 Billion Lawsuit Coming & More!

Monday, June 30th, 2014

After a couple of the weeks out of this month featured some big names passing on, we get to open up this week’s article with some great news regarding a retired pitching legend.

Schilling Receives Good News

Let the 5-year clock for Curt Schilling begin, as he announced on Twitter this week that he is now in remission from the cancer that he was diagnosed with earlier this year.

He has not indicated what form of cancer that he was diagnosed with, but the fact that he has made this step is huge news for him, his family and the world of baseball. This has been another obstacle that has been thrown Schilling’s way since his retirement from baseball, but he’s been able to overcome each and every one of them.

First, it was a heart attack that he suffered in 2011 while his wife Shonda (also a cancer survivor) was running the New York City Marathon. Then, it was a failed investment in a video game studio that cost him a reported $50 million.

If there’s one thing that can be said about Curt Schilling that applies to both his on-field and off-field career, it’s that he’s a fighter. From the “Bloody Sock Game” to beating cancer, Schilling is one tough human being. What’s your favorite Schilling highlight from his career?

Lincecum Displays Dominant Ways

It’s been a rough couple of seasons for Tim Lincecum, who was once referred to among the best arms in all of baseball. He’s fallen off the table quite a bit due to a drop in velocity, but every once in awhile he reminds us of the pitcher that he once was.

Such was the case for him against the San Diego Padres last week, as he no-hit them for the second time in less than a year. While this performance didn’t quite have the flash of his 13-strikeout performance in the first one, he accomplished it in much fewer pitches.

It took Lincecum just 113 to complete this one, as opposed to an astounding 148 in the first. Some may try to discredit this feat just because they both occurred against the weak-hitting Padres, but a no-hitter is impressive no matter which way you cut it.

It’s highly unlikely that we’ll ever see sustained dominance from Lincecum ever again, but it’s clear that he can be lights out every once in awhile. With his impending free agency, would you offer him a contract if you were running a team? If so, what type of contract would you offer him?

Cleveland Indians Face Large Lawsuit

With all of the legal action that has been surrounding the NFL’s Washington Redskins, it was only a matter of time before this drama trickled its way into Major League Baseball.

Unsurprisingly, the first target has been the Cleveland Indians and their mascot, Chief Wahoo. While you won’t find many that will say their mascot is inoffensive, the $9 billion lawsuit that is going to be heaved their way is a bit excessive, to say the least.

In recent years, the Indians have been proactive in phasing that part of their identity out and have moved almost primarily to the Block-C logo is present on their hats. They’ve done this somewhat quietly, however, so it’s almost gone unnoticed by the general public.

I can definitely understand being offended by the Chief Wahoo logo, but trying to sue the team for $9 billion is absolutely egregious in my mind. I know that that figure isn’t even realistic to them (it’s just there to draw attention to the issue), but I feel like there’s plenty of other ways to go about this. What are your thoughts on the mascot/name changing issue?

This Week’s MVP: Ian Kinsler (.519/567/.852, 2 HR, 8 RBI)

This Week’s Cy Young: Tim Lincecum (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 6 K, No-Hitter)

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