Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Looking Back at Week 10 of MLB

Monday, June 15th, 2015

Alex Rodriguez lands on a symbolic home run total, top prospects make their debuts and the Cubs have a winning week. So much baseball this week, that you may have forgotten other sports even existed. Week 10 had no shortage of fun, so let’s recap:

Rodriguez Joins Elite Company

Thought to be mostly a sideshow coming into the season, Alex Rodriguez has been a big key to the first place Yankees’ success so far in the 2015 season. The 39-year-old third baseman has been hovering around .270 this year in terms of batting average, and currently owns a .384 on base percentage. On Saturday in Baltimore, Rodriguez became only the second player in history to drive in 2,000 runs, joining Hall of Famer Hank Aaron. In addition, Rodriguez is now just five hits away from gaining entrance into the 3,000 hit club. At this point, the anti-steroid/anti A-Rod crowd might be livid at the milestone accomplishments that one of the game’s most polarizing figures is enjoying. Take solace in the fact that Rodriguez currently sits at 666 home runs, though.

Buxton, Lindor Make Debuts

Another week, another series of big time prospect call-ups. This time, it was the American League Central drawing the story lines. Consensus top prospect Byron Buxton received the call up to Minnesota early Saturday afternoon, and scored the go ahead run in the top of the ninth in his debut. Buxton is known as a five-tool center fielder, and it seems like the only thing that could hold him back from stardom are nagging injuries that he has sustained over his several years of professional baseball. The other call up came out of Cleveland, where the Indians brought up their top prospect, Francisco Lindor. The 21-year-old shortstop is more of a defensive specialist than a threat at the plate, but pundits have confidence that Lindor will be a well above average hitter in time. Lindor made his debut Sunday against Detroit and recorded his first career hit, a single to right field. Each has the chance to be a franchise player, and each has the capability of taking the AL Rookie of the Year award at the season’s end.

Blue Jays Keep Winning

After adding Josh Donaldson and having a solid all around offseason, the Blue Jays were thought to be a contending team in the AL East. The season did not get off to a particularly solid start, but the team is in the midst of an impressive 11 game win streak. They most recently swept the Red Sox in Boston, after sweeping Miami and Houston. Next up for the Jays will be the Mets in a four game set that will be split between New York and Toronto. They Jays now sit just one game out of first. Unfortunately for them, the Rays and Yankees have each won seven out of ten, making it difficult for the Jays to drastically improve their division standing.

Rookie of the Year Races

Not much has been going well for the Red Sox this season. Even after massive additions to the lineup in the offseason, Boston is 10 games under .500 and dead last in the AL East. However, there does seem to be one bright spot: rookie starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez. The numbers for Rodriguez, a 3.55 earned run average and 22 strikeouts over 25 innings, are impressive. Up until his last start, though, which came against the surging Blue Jays, Rodriguez had allowed just one run over 19 and two-thirds innings. A 22-year-old lefty, initial reports mostly stated that his first start several weeks ago in Boston was merely a tryout. Suffice to say, Rodriguez has earned his keep, and is making serious noise in an American League Rookie of the Year race that does not seem to have a clear front-runner yet.  On the National League side of things, Dodgers’ third baseman Alex Guerrero is now second among NL rookies in home runs with 10. Joc Pederson still leads the way in that category, with Kris Bryant checking in third with seven. Bryant leads all qualified NL rookies in on base percentage at .407, and leads in hits with 57. He tops the charts in runs batted in and runs, as well, and is tied for second in stolen bases.

Cubs Win in Walk Off Fashion. Twice. 

A series split with Detroit followed by taking three of four from Cincinnati, and it can be said that the Cubs had a very solid week. Starlin Castro walked off in two straight games against Cincinnati, allowing the Cubs to take three of four from their division rival. Along with a winning record, the Cubs had, what appears on paper, to be a strong draft, as they took Cincinnati star Ian Happ in the first round of the MLB Draft, and Donnie Dewees of North Florida in the second round. Brian Schlitter is back with the Major League squad, as well, which means the return of plays off of Schlitter’s last name every time he blows a save.


 

MVP of the Week: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins. 13 hits and five home runs since Monday; Giancarlo absolutely destroyed week 10. Stanton might be regretting signing long term in Miami, but they certainly aren’t feeling the same way in South Beach.

Cy Young of the Week: Chris Heston, San Francisco Giants. Heston threw a no-hitter against the Mets on Tuesday, striking out 11 while hitting three batters.

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Yesterday’s News: Back to back Castro walk-offs

Monday, June 15th, 2015

ROSTER MOVES

It was announced before last night’s game that Junior Lake was headed back to Iowa in order to make room for Brian Schlitter to rejoin the bullpen. This was met with a surprising degree of angst from many Cubs twitter users, at least among the people I follow. While I totally agree with the frustration in watching Schlitter pitch this season, it seemed like a completely necessary move after the heavy load that the bullpen had in each of the first three games of the Reds series. I would be pretty surprised if Schlitter isn’t sent back down within a few days.

LESTER NARRATIVES

Allow me to vent a bit here, but Jon Lester has been a Cub for a very short time, and I am at my saturation point with hearing about how he 1)Can’t throw to first in a pick-off attempt, and 2) Doesn’t have a hit in the majors yet. And I know that when the Cubs play the Reds and Billy Hamilton happens to reach first base, this comes to critical mass, and especially when it’s a nationally televised game. The ESPN broadcast, which is usually hard for me to watch without muting the commentary, has been insufferable about this.

But, when Lester came up to bat, and they showed highlights of Curt Schilling getting his first major league hit back in 1980whenever and then followed it up with this, I nearly had to buy a new TV.

 GAME NOTES

As I mentioned earlier, last night’s game was the ESPN Sunday night game of the week, which means I watched almost all of the game with the TV muted. I was happy to see 7 solid innings from Lester after the way the first 3 games of this series had gone. Of course, as luck would have it, the game went into extras anyway, but our bullpen held strong once again. The real story of the night, however, was Starlin Castro and his second walk-off hit in two nights. The disdain that so many members of the Cubs fanbase have for him I will never understand.

 


THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1949: Shortly after 1a.m., Ruth Ann Steinhagen shoots Eddie Waitkus in the chest with a rifle at Chicago’s Edgewater Beach Hotel, after luring him to her room with an urgent note delivered by the bellhop. The obsessed fan, who had become infatuated with the first baseman when he played with the Cubs, apparently is upset and agitated because the All-star infielder was traded to the Phillies.

1951: The Cubs trade Andy Pafko along with Johnny Schmitz, Wayne Terwilliger, and Rube Walker to the Dodgers for Bruce Edwards, Joe Hatten, Eddie Miksis, and Gene Hermanski. The deal, which prevents the coveted ‘Handy Andy’ from going to the rival Giants, is the first of many to be made by Buzzy Bavasi, Brooklyn’s new general manager.

1964: In a six-player transaction that also includes Jack Spring, Paul Toth, Doug Clemens, and Bobby Shantz, Chicago trades a little-known 24 year-old outfielder named Lou Brock, who will become a fixture with the Redbirds for the next fifteen years, amassing 3,023 career hits, to St. Louis for right-hander Ernie Broglio. The deal, thought at the time to be a steal for the Cubs, will become infamous when the former 20-game winner pitches poorly for his new team, posting a 7-19 record during his brief two and half seasons with the team, and the 24-year old outfielder they gave up enjoys a Hall of Fame career.

1969: En route to setting the National League record of playing in 1,117 consecutive games, Billy Williams, after fouling a pitch off his foot in yesterday’s contest, hobbles to the plate as a pinch hitter in the Cubs’ 7-6 loss to Cincinnati at Crosley Field. It is the first time “Sweet Swingin’ Billy” has not been in the starting lineup during the 878 games of the streak.

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Sometimes Rain Is a Good Thing

Sunday, June 14th, 2015

Last week my roommate and I went to Seattle and Vancouver. Surprisingly, it was hot and sunny each day we were there. Not surprisingly, nobody had air conditioning. You would think that two girls from Florida would be acclimated to that kind of heat. We weren’t. But we did climb two mountains (or very steep hills, depending on your definition of the word “mountain.”) and watched Felix Hernandez pitch vs. Tampa Bay. The Mariners snapped a 7-game losing streak that night. It was neat. Also, Safeco Field has good tacos. Who knew? Now, on to the Cubs…

The Good

Kris Bryant and Addison Russell both showed some defensive flair in the first inning, making two quick outs, while Kyle Hendricks struck out the third batter to end the inning. Hendricks was very good, his one mistake being a solo shot to Joey Votto. Otherwise he was hitting his zones and making the pitches he needed to make. Glad to see him pitching well again. Kris Bryant was majestic and full of #sparkle, as usual. He was called out at home on a single and a close play at the plate, but upon further review was called safe. Miguel Montero hit a home run. Everything looked pretty good for the first 5 innings. Motte was efficient in the ninth. Bryant and Montero reached base, Castro drove in Bryant to win it!

The Bad

Joey Votto homered. Castro made a bad throw. It rained. The game was delayed. FOR. TWO. HOURS. Close to three hours. And then James Russell came in, gave up a single, and then a home run. The game was tied. Eric Karros led the seventh inning stretch. Maybe the fans should just sing with no guest conductor. Addison got picked off second base in the 8th. Rizzo GIDP bottom 8, could have driven in the go-ahead run. There was a lot of sloppy baseball after the long delay. It was nice to see a Cubs win!

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Yesterday’s News: RF Bleachers are open, bullpen looking solid

Saturday, June 13th, 2015

RIGHT FIELD BLEACHERS OPEN

After over two months of the 2015 season without them, the right field bleachers are finally done, completing the renovation process to the Wrigley Field bleachers that started almost as soon as last season ended. I’ll be honest and say that I had a really hard time with the fact that the Cubs played so many weeks without bleachers at all, so it was very nice to watch last night’s game and see the bleachers whole again. The videoboards look great, in my opinion, and especially so in person. I was there for a game against the Brewers on May 3 and was immediately a fan of the left field jumbotron. I tend to strive to sit in the bleachers whenever I go to a game, so I’m looking forward to getting out there sometime later this summer.

THE BULLPEN

I touched on it in yesterday’s post, but our bullpen is showing signs of life again, posting a collective 0.51 ERA in the past 5 games. On Thursday, in particular, they put together 6 innings of brilliant work, giving up just 2 hits and not allowing a single run after starter Tsuyoshi Wada gave up 3 runs in the first 3 innings.

GAME NOTES

Friday’s starter, Jason Hammel, had the 4th best ERA in in baseball  (2.03) since April 27, but the Reds struck early, scoring in the first inning off of doubles from Iván De Jesus and Todd Frazier followed by an RBI single from Brayan Pena. A very nice running catch in deep center field by Dexter Fowler and a truly impressive “catch and tag” play by Addison Russell kept the Reds off of the board in the second inning.

I was impressed at how Hammel battled in spite of just not having it. He ultimately gave up just 4 runs and stuck in there for 5 innings, which was extremely important after the heavy use that our bullpen saw on Thursday. And, speaking of that bullpen, they did a phenomenal job for the second day in a row. Sure, the end result was an extra inning loss, but any time your bullpen can put together 10 innings of scoreless pitching across two days, that’s a good thing. The trouble was that Hector Rondon gave up that final run in the 10th, which will probably only fuel the speculation that his job as the Cubs closer is just about over. If you’re trying to figure out what might happen, Joe Maddon‘s post game comments will probably only confuse you.


 

THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1905: New York hurler Christy Mathewson pitches his second career no-hitter, defeating the Cubs, 1-0. In 1901, 20 year-old ‘Matty’ became the first rookie in the modern era to throw a no-no, holding the Cardinals hitless in the Giants’ 5-0 victory at Robison Field.

1913: In the top of the ninth inning with no outs at New York’s Polo Grounds, Christy Mathewson strands a runner on third base to record his 300th victory when the Giants edge the Cubs, 3-2. During his 17-year major league career, ‘Big Six’ will compile a 373-188 record.

1940: In the inaugural Hall of Fame game, the Red Sox beat the Cubs at Doubleday Field, 10-9. Future Hall of Famer Ted Williams hits two home runs during the six-inning rain-shortened exhibition.

1994: At the age of 34, Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg suddenly retires, walking away from $16 million. ‘Ryno’ will return to the Chicago line-up in 1996 to play for two more seasons before completing his 16-year Hall of Fame career.

2006: The first wireless bullpen communication system in baseball history is used at Wrigley Field when a cell phone, which will be sent to the Hall of Fame, is used for the first time in major league history to call the bullpen. From the dugout, Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild calls the bullpen during the third inning to start warming up reliever Angel Guzman.

2010: In game against their cross-town rivals at Wrigley Field, the Cubs get out of a bases loaded jam in the final frame for a 1-0 victory over the White Sox. Juan Pierre‘s leadoff single in the top of the ninth spoils Ted Lilly‘s bid for a no-hitter, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished at the ‘Friendly Confines’ since Milt Pappas threw a no-no in 1972.

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Morning News: Papelbon, Soriano, Wada Concerns?

Friday, June 12th, 2015

PAPELBON RUMORS CONTINUE

As Joe wrote yesterday, the rumors of Jonathan Papelbon becoming a part of the Cubs bullpen have only grown stronger in the last 24 hours. The latest indications are that Papelbon has a real interest in the Cubs and would be open the the idea of a trade to Chicago, but the main roadblock could be that Philadelphia’s asking price is too high. Whether that is because of who they would want in return or how much of his remaining contract that his new team would be expected to pick up would have to be seen. Keep a close eye on this, as it could develop quickly in the next couple of days. As Phil Rogers tweeted yesterday, the Phillies had a scout at last night’s Cubs game, likely looking at possible trade targets.

SORIANO TO JOIN TEAM AFTER ALL STAR BREAK

Rafael Soriano signed a minor league contract just a few days ago, and yesterday news came out that he is not likely to join the major league team for at least another month. Presumably, this is so he can have a series of good outings in the farm system before he reports to Chicago. The Cubs will want to see that he can pitch well before he’s called up. That, and if they do trade for Papelbon successfully, the back part of the bullpen will start to get crowded.

WORRIED ABOUT WADA?

After an impressive first start or two, I am feeling much less confident in Tsuyoshi Wada. He lasted a measly 3 innings last night while giving up 3 runs on 4 hits and walking 2 batters. By comparison, in his May 25 and May 31 starts, he at least made it into the 6th inning and gave up just 1 earned run in both games. His very first start of the year, on May 20, he struck out 9 batters in 4.2 innings. In his last start before last night’s game, on June 5, he didn’t make it out of the 4th inning and gave up 5 runs. I don’t want to jump to conclusions based on his last two starts (the June 5 start was against the Nationals, so I’ll give him some grace there), but you can call me attentively concerned at this point. On the upside, our bullpen did a phenomenal job last night, especially one Travis Wood, who put togther 2.1 scoreless innings while giving up just 1 hit.


 

THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1839: Due to an erroneous eye-witness account, Abner Doubleday is given credit for establishing the first baseball game is played in America. The Hall of Fame, which opens a century later in Cooperstown, celebrates the origin of our national pastime in this small upstate New York town although it is doubtful the West Point cadet was ever there or ever watched a baseball game.

1939: With much of its funding provided by the Clark Foundation, a charitable organization established by the Singer Sewing Machine Company, the Baseball Hall of Fame is dedicated in Cooperstown, the site selected due to an erroneous report made that claimed Abner Doubleday had invented the game in the small town located in upstate New York. Players selected from the first four Hall of Fame induction elections are enshrined as its first members.

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GirlieView (06/11/2015)

Thursday, June 11th, 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

  • I feel good about Hendricks going tonight after the last outing hopefully he does not disappoint.
  • Dork, no!! Don’t feel good. Somebody here felt good about beating the Brewers. You know what happened.
  • The ball never came down.
  • It’s in Wisconsin.
  • I will start looking for it now.
  • If this team is going to have success, they are going to have to shore up this defense and quit making these miscues.
  • The Cubs ran into a buzzsaw last night in Max Scherzer. No shame in losing to that guy. He is chopping right through the National League.
  • I will paraphrase “Dear Fan, yes we blackout games. Here is the link to tell you which ones.”
  • Lizzie’s were a little thin this time around, not to be confused with Thin Lizzie which is a favorite of Len Kasper’s, seems to me I got to get some Lizzie mojo going.
  • We have all had too much Lizzie Lassitude lately. I agree with the raucous ramp up.
  • speaking of which, I REALLY wish Soler would stand closer to the plate)
  • To me, the only mildly persuasive argument for a Jumbotron was always the ability to show replays. And even then, I didn’t believe that one improvement was worth breaking up the picturesque outfield skyline. I was wrong.
  • I have come to like Instant replay. But it is pointless if they still get it wrong. Seems like they still get it wrong way too often.
  • My only question is: how has your wife integrated the Cubs into her life? The last time we chatted you were unsure of her ability to become a devout follower thus the possibility of matrimonial turbulence.
  • You’ll be happy to know there hasn’t been a hint of pushback from her. It probably helps that I took her to Wrigley Field on our honeymoon.
  • Then everything will be fine.
  • The only inanimate objects that would get any notice before the Jumbotron were the umpires, now they have to do a better job.
  • The Royals…damned if you get their starter out early, damned if you don’t.
  • The Royals are a great hitting team and have a real bullpen. The Royals line up will feast on our bull pen, sorry to say. The good thing is that Len won’t notice since he will be giving his review of the new Thin Lizzy box set in innings 7-9.
  • We got a problem with Wood, you don’t like him in the pen and I don’t like him as a starter and no magic blue pill to make this Wood any better.
  • Took a little blue pill once, ended up with splinters.
  • Jeff Loria-run teams have always been a circus, but his current South Beach squad is contending for his biggest disaster yet (aside from Montreal’s loss of the Expos, that is).
  • Math is hard.
  • The Baltimore Orioles franchise (est 1901 as the Milwaukee Brewers), as of today, has 8445 wins. If they had won their 3,000th in 1989, as claimed above, that means they have averaged 209 1/2 wins every year since.
  • So what you’re saying is that math isn’t all that hard.
  • QED
  • If Lester is the pitcher and Schwarber is the catcher, a walk is basically a triple…
  • Who said we were going to sweep the marlins just like we swept the brewers
  • You can’t assume you are going to beat anyone. Ever. You always need to respect your opponents and the game unless your opponent is a 65 year old M.D. who can’t hit off a pitching machine.
  • Now if you could only put that lineup on the field!
  • That would be a terrible lineup. Most of those guys are really old or dead. Hey hey!
  • David “I’m taking up an extra space on” the Ross-ster?
  • I’ll enjoy the ‘KB to left’ respite.
  • Cubs sign Soriano. No word on if he’ll play third.

Lizard

  • They are who we thought they were…Streaky, young, still learning, and a year away.

Shout Outs

  • No one had their very first 2015 Season Lizzie this time so let’s have a shout out for everyone! Thanks for being here!

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. Joe Aiello
5. Jedi
6. Dork
7. Doug S.
7. jswanson
9. Buddy
10. Bryan
10. Jerry in Wisconsin
10. Katie

Chit Chat

  • It’s hard to believe interleague play has been around for almost 20 years now (18, to be exact.) I still hate it. It’s not so much that I hate that the teams play against each other, I just hate the way it’s scheduled, what with the rotating divisions in rotating years … I think either everyone should play everyone (a scheduling nightmare of course) or no one should play anyone, with the latter being my preference. Does anyone else have an opinion, pro or con, on interleague play?
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The Cubs Are Kicking Papelbon’s Tires

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

After a lot of debate, I’ve decided to scrap the game recap concept. In 12+ years of writing on the blog, it’s my least favorite post to write. I’ve always looked at them as talking about the game and commenting on it because most of you have already watched it. As a result, a lot of nights it’s tough to really find anything meaningful to talk about. That said, we’re going to a Morning News post in the AM.

CUBS SELECT IAN HAPP IN THE 1ST ROUND – I watched the MLB Network coverage on Monday to see who the Cubs would select. It’s crazy to think how far the MLB draft has come that it’s now televised nationally considering it used to be done as a conference call for the 30 clubs. I was amused at how the analysts were genuinely surprised to see the Cubs take another hitter. If you’re going to be a draft “expert”, you should have at least researched the Cubs a little. The theme they have gone with is to take a hitter, stockpile hitters, and load up on pitchers later in the draft in an effort to play the lottery of arms. The result has been Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant. That’s a pretty nice haul right there. I don’t consider myself to be a draft expert, but everything I’ve read says that Happ is a great bat, especially considering where he was picked, and he should move quickly since he’s a college hitter. I like the pick.

WELCOME TO THE CUBS RAFAEL SORIANO – I was a little nervous when rumors surfaced earlier this year that the Cubs were kicking the tires on Rafael Soriano because I felt they would end up overpaying dramatically. The deal ends up being a minor league deal with a $4.1 million big league deal should he get called up. It has another $4 million in performance incentives available. If he is what we hope he is, a guy that can come in and make a huge difference in the late innings, it’s the going rate for a closer and probably even less than the going rate. If not, he’s a $4 mil lottery ticket for a big market club that can afford it given the low amount of team payroll and new revenue streams. I like the move.

ARE THE CUBS KICKING THE TIRES ON JONATHAN PAPELBON? – There are rumors that the Cubs and Blue Jays have had conversations with the Phillies about trading for Jonathan Papelbon and that the Phillies are willing to eat money to get  a better prospect. If I’m the Cubs, I’m eating the money and giving up a few lesser prospects instead. Papelbon would be a great improvement to the pen as well and, when Neil Ramirez comes back, would make this pen really lethal. I like the rumor.

RIGHT FIELD BLEACHERS ARE OPENING TONIGHT – I have to praise the team for giving us two accurate timelines on the bleachers once they realized they were behind scheduled and wouldn’t be done for opening day. I mocked them and predicted that they would miss the projected timeline for June, but all systems are a go and the right field bleachers will be open tonight for the series with the Reds. That should make ‘ol Marty Brennaman quite happy. We all know he loves Cub fans, especially those that hang out in the bleachers. It will be nice to finally have a full crowd, especially at a time where the Cubs are playing good baseball and are in the wild card hunt. I like the progress.

JOE WAS ON THE RADIO - From time to time I’m a contributor to various ESPN radio stations. On Tuesday I was a guest on the Marty and Miller show on AM 1700 in Iowa. You can listen to the audio here.


THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1904 – After pitching nine and a third innings of no-hit baseball, Cubs’ hurler Bob Wicker settles for a 1-0, twelve inning one-hit victory over the Giants. Light-hitting outfielder Sam Mertes, for the second time in career, breaks up an extra-inning no-hitter, having also spoiled Indians right-hander Earl Moore‘s 1901 bid for a no-no when he started the game-winning rally for the White Sox with a one-out single in the top inning.

1911 – At Chicago’s West Side Grounds, Heinie Zimmerman of the Cubs drives in nine runs to set a team record. The Windy City infielder, whose record will be tied by Sammy Sosa in 2002, hits two home runs, a triple, and two singles in the 20-2 rout of the Braves.

1957 – The Dodgers’ Roy Campanella surpasses former Cub and Giant backstop Gabby Hayes to establish a new National League mark when he hits his 237th career round-tripper as a catcher. Campy’s historic home run comes off Ray Crone in the seventh inning of Brooklyn’s 7-2 loss to the Braves at Ebbets Field.

1963 – After Brock Davis is intentionally walked to load the bases, third baseman Bob Aspromonte blasts a tenth-inning walk-off grand slam off Lindy McDaniel, lifting the Colt .45s to a 6–2 victory over the Cubs. Chicago had tied the Colt Stadium contest in the top of the ninth on a triple by Dick Bertell, a walk to Bob’s brother Ken, and Don Landrum‘s RBI single.

1969 – The Cubs trade Adolfo Phillips and right-hander Jack Lamabe to the Expos for Paul Popovich, acquired today by Montreal, along with Ron Fairly, from the Dodgers in exchange for Maury Wills and Manny Mota. Chicago’s latest infielder, a solid switch-hitting utility player, will play a large role for his new team filling in for injured second baseman Glenn Beckert and batting .312 overall in 60 games.

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Hottest MLB bets on the board

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Baseball is nearly two months into the schedule and sports handicappers have a much clearer picture of who the contenders – and pretenders – are going to be. But for right now, these three MLB clubs are tearing up the diamond and cashing in at the sportsbook.

Texas Rangers

The Rangers are surging up the standings in the American League West, winning eight of their last 10 outings – all of which as moneyline underdogs. That’s put Texas among the most profitable bets in baseball, despite a sub-.500 record as of Thursday. The Rangers’ bats are the biggest catalysts for this turnaround, hitting .283 BA over the past week. Will the return of shamed slugger Josh Hamilton add to that pop? The Arlington faithful will find out with Texas back home for six games versus the Red Sox and White Sox starting Thursday.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Bucs are producing just that – big bucks – for their loyal bettors. Pittsburgh rides a six-game winning streak into Thursday, with back-to-back series sweeps of the Marlins and Mets. The Pirates were moneyline favorites for each of those victories and have taken seven of their past 10 outings but head out on a cross-country trip to play San Diego and San Francisco, then back East to Atlanta. Pittsburgh is just 9-13 away from home – despite having the second-lowest road ERA – with blame pointing to the bats, hitting only .241 BA and averaging just 3.7 runs per road game.

Minnesota Twins

The Twins were supposed to finish at the bottom of the American League Central again in 2015. Seems like Minnesota’s clubhouse failed to get that memo. The Twins have exploded to the top of the division with a current five-game winning streak and have taken the “W” in nine of their previous 11 contests. That drastic turnaround has made Minnesota very popular with sports handicappers, having earned MLB bettors almost 16.00 units on the season. So what’s behind this complete about-face from the Twinkies? Minnesota is becoming one of the most clutch hitting teams in the bigs, with a .296 BA and .441 slugging percentage with runners in scoring position.

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Cubs sign Soriano, pick Happ first in the draft

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

 

I resist the urge to devote 500 words to lamenting the loss of Javier Baez for 4-8 weeks (at least it wasn’t his wrist, everybody) and focus on something that’s a bit more encouraging, and that’s the addition of Rafael Soriano to the Cubs roster via a minor league deal yesterday. He signed for a base salary of $4.1 million with contract incentives that offer the possibility for him to earn quite a bit more. I appreciate the signing because it represents an effort to bolster a bullpen that has struggled pretty mightily at times during the 6th and 7th innings, particularly. Not only that, but there have been some rumblings that Hector Rondon may not have such a firm grasp on the closer’s role. So Soriano may be coming as a possible backup option in the closer’s role.

Soriano pitched last season for the Washington Nationals, earning 32 saves in 39 chances, but the second half of his season was pretty rough. He recently fired his agent (Scott Boras) because of the belief that Boras may have been a large part of the reason that he was unsigned this late into the season.

Additionally, the Cubs picked 9th overall in Monday’s MLB draft and took infielder Ian Happ from the University of Cincinnati. He looks to be either at potential middle infielder (probably second base), or he could possibly play the outfield as well. In three seasons at Cincinnati, the switch hitter Happ has a career OPS of 1.015 and 25 HR in 163 total games.

In the second round, the Cubs took outfielder Donnie Dewees from the University of North Florida. In 128 career games there across 3 seasons, Dewees has hit 24 HRs to go with an overall OPS of 1.083. He also struck out a grand total of 42 times in 511 career at bats.

The Cubs took a left handed pitcher in the third round, Bryan Hudson of Alton High School in Illinois. He’s very big (6’7″, 215) and holds significant potential for a future with the Cubs at some point a few years from now. Coming out of high school, my bet would be that he’ll need some time to develop in the minor leagues, so we may not see him for a while. The first two picks stand a better chance of making an impact much sooner. You can take a look at the rest of the picks from this year’s draft here.

Finally, the short season Eugene Emeralds start their season in a little over a week, and it will be important (and fun) to keep an eye on Eloy Jimenez. He’s just 18, but the potential here is huge. At 6’4″, 205, he is a man-child, and can absolutely punish a ball.

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