Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Looking Back at Week 13 of MLB

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Todd Frazier took home the Derby crown, the American League will play host to this year’s World Series and Kyle Schwarber is back in the Friendly Confines. Week 13 gave an exciting look into the future, so let’s recap:

New Home Run Derby a Success 

The new and improved Home Run Derby took place on Monday, with Reds’ third baseman Todd Frazier defeating Dodgers’ center fielder Joc Pederson in the final round by a score of 15-14. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant were first round outs, losing to Josh Donaldson and Albert Pujols. Pederson had the longest home run of the night, mashing a ball 487 feet. Now based on time instead of 10 outs, the competition seemed to exhaust certain players (Prince Fielder) and become much more about endurance and athleticism. The new features seemed to be well received, and made for a much more interesting finish. Frazier made a thrilling comeback that likely could not have happened in the old format.

Trout Takes Second Straight ASG MVP Award

Mike Trout lead the American League to victory over the National League in the All Star game, as the AL took home the win for the 10th time in the last 13 years. Trout won his second consecutive All Star Game Most Valuable Player award, becoming the first player in nearly 40 years to accomplish that feat. Rizzo began the game as the designated hitter and was hitless in two at bats, before being replaced by Rockies’ shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Bryant replaced Pederson and drew a walk. With the American League victory, the ALCS winner will play host to the 2015 World Series, a stakes that seems to be losing favor rapidly among fans. This might make finishing the October Classic in Wrigley slightly more difficult, but don’t give up hope.

Cueto a Hot Commodity as Deadline Nears

As the trade deadline nears, buyers and sellers will begin to emerge. Just around the corner, rumors are already spreading about where some of the game’s top arms will finish out the year. Reds’ ace Johnny Cueto is one of the stars expected to be dealt soon, and the winning suitor will likely have to pay an exceptionally steep price for the 29-year-old right-hander. Jon Morosi reported on Sunday that the Yankees had scouts in attendance to watch Cueto, and they figure to be one of several possible destinations. Cole Hamels and David Price will be watched similarly, as all three pitchers are unrestricted free agents in the upcoming offseason. The Cubs will be one of the interesting teams to watch at this year’s deadline, as they should be in the Wild Card race down to the wire. Whether they elect to add a piece on July 31st for a late season push or to wait until the offseason is anyone’s guess, but an argument can be made for either case.

Cubs Young Stars Represent Team Well

Following the All Star Game’s completion, the Cubs announced the decision to give top prospect Kyle Schwarber another shot with the big league club. The catcher is filling in for Miguel Montero, who is currently sitting out with a thumb injury. It has only been a few games, but Schwarber is reminding everyone why he is an elite youngster (as if anyone forgot). Still eight games out of the division lead, the Cubs still lead the race for the second and final Wild Card spot. Following this weekend’s series win in Atlanta, a four game road series against the scuffling Reds and a three game set versus the league worst Phillies should give the Cubs the chance to get hot and rattle off some more wins. The MLB Draft Amateur Draft signing deadline was Friday, but the Cubs were diligent with their draftees and managed to avoid deadline deals and signing drama.

Rookie Watch

The All Star festivities highlighted just how talented this year’s rookie class is, and the immediate impact that it is making. Pederson and Bryant may not have won the derby, but Pederson especially had a better than expected performance, losing in the final round to Frazier. Both leagues, American and National, are littered with young stars hitting near or above .300, regularly making dazzling plays with the glove and emerging as faces of their respective teams. The eventual champion of the National League Rookie of the Year race will leave one fan base, Los Angeles or Chicago, with a feeling of being slighted, but both players showed in Cincinnati that they are each deserving.

MVP of the Week: Mike Trout takes the hardware home this week after leading off the All Star game with a home run to right field and eventually winning the MVP of the game. Trout has now hit for the cycle in lead off at bats in All Star Games.

Cy Young of the Week: Only a few days into the second half, there have been several outstanding pitching performances. Clayton Kershaw struck out 14 Nationals over eight innings on Saturday. Jon Lester gets the runner up for his seven hitless innings against the Braves on the same day.

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5 Things a Cub Fan Needs to Know for July 20

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Cubs Take The Series Against Atlanta

After losing game one of the series, the first game out of the All Star Break, I was a little discouraged, but our two top of the rotation pitchers brought their best in games 2 and 3 and flat out dominated. It was good to see a series win right out of the gate. Yesterday, while the offense wasn’t dominant again, it did get the job done. I’d like to see five runs a game, but I’ll take four. Jorge Soler hit a home run, which was remarkably only his 5th of the season. I really felt like he’d be a 25-30 home run bat this season, but apparently this will be a learning year for him. Jake Arrieta did his usual Arrieta things and even Pedro Strop tossed a blemish free inning. Very encouraging series as we head to Cincinnati.

Goodbye E-Jax and Hello Soriano

After the game yesterday, it broke on Twitter that the Cubs had designated Edwin Jackson for assignment and promoted Rafael Soriano to the big league bullpen. Soriano was signed recently to a minor league deal with big league incentives. The contract immediately goes to $4.1 million in big league money with another $4 million in incentives. He will be with the team in Cincinnati. To be honest, we knew this move was coming soon, we just didn’t know who the unlucky guy in the pen who would lose their spot would be. The Cubs gave Soriano a clause in his contract to allow him to opt out if not promoted to the Majors by July 15th, so the time was ticking as he had already passed that date.

For Jackson, it was an experiment that failed. The Theo and Jed regime have had very few swings and misses, but this was one of them. For the most part, the have been able to hit on pitchers they signed and do very well with them. After losing out on Anibal Sanchez that off-season, I think they panicked just a little and made a rash decision. Ultimately, though, it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. This team wasn’t winning anything anyway in the time Jackson was here.

Since he was designated for assignment, the Cubs now have 10 days to do something with him. They can work out a trade with another team, allow him to go for free if he’s claimed on waivers, or release him. Normally outrighting him to the minors would be an option, but Jackson won’t accept that. We will see. Perhaps he’s a piece in a deal with the Phillies for Jonathan Papelbon or Cole Hamels or both since the Phillies are willing to eat a portion of salaries. A compromise to that would be to take salary back.

It’s Schwarber Time in Cincy

Kyle Schwarber will get the bulk of the time behind the plate in Cincinnati. With Montero out, I’d love to see the Cubs keep David Ross on the roster and option Taylor Teagarden and start Schwarber full time. Let him learn under Ross and get his bat in the lineup. Just watching him at the plate, he’s special. We need that offense and I’m willing to sacrifice behind the plate to get it. I know this is a hot topic and many different opinions, but that’s mine. We need offense and Schwarber provides it.

Pitching Matchups for Cincinnati

Monday – Clayton Richard vs Michael Lorenzen

Tuesday – Jason Hammel vs Raisel Iglesias

Wednesday – Kyle Hendricks vs Mike Leake (Game 1) & TBD in Game 2. I would bet we see Dallas Beeler in that 2nd game

We No Longer Have Roach(es)

Donn Roach was claimed off of waivers by the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend and I wonder if we won’t potentially see him face Dallas Beeler on Wednesday in the second game of the series. At his age, there isn’t a reason to claim him if you’re not going to put him in the rotation and it could be a sign that the Reds are getting close to moving Johnny Cueto or Leake or both.

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5 Things A Cubs Fan Should Know For July 19th

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

I’m sure you figured it out, but just in case, I took the All Star break off from working on the blog and just relaxed from baseball once the home run derby was over. By the way, was that not the best home run derby in a long time? I enjoyed it a lot, but now we’re back and in full swing as Jared led us off yesterday with notes. Today it’s my turn to get you the things you need to now.

The Cubs Evened the Series at 1 Last Night

After losing game one on Friday with a grand total of 0 runs, my guess is that Jon Lester didn’t come into the game feeling very confident that he would get much support behind him at the plate. For the most part, he’d be right. The Cubs scratched out two runs through the first eight innings of the game thanks to Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, who both had singles to drive home a run in the 3rd and 4th inning respectively. That was all Lester needed last night, though, as he took a no hitting into the 8th inning of play. For Lester, I felt while watching that that’s one of the best starts I’ve seen him turn in since coming to Chicago. A quick check at his game log for this year revealed that I was correct. Granted, I’m using game score, which is a semi-crude way to do it, but it does validate what I felt. His game score last night was an 80. His next highest score this season was 75, which was just two starts before against the Cardinals in a loss. I still trust Jake Arrieta, who goes today to try to get us the series win, more than I trust Lester, but I’m getting there.

Talks Might Be Heating Up on Hamels and the Cubs are Still in it

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports did a video blog yesterday afternoon and he mentioned that the Dodgers and the Cubs continue to speak with the Phillies about Cole Hamels. It’s hard not to get excited about that, but I go back and forth on if I feel like that would be the best course of action right now. It would, obviously, have to be determined by what the asking price would be for Hamels, but I’m not sure this core of kids is built to win this year. I think this is the learning year and next year is the window opening year. Right now guys like Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and Jorge Soler are still learning on the job. The counter to that is the fact that the Cubs haven’t done it in so long that you have to strike when you have the shot. My thinking is this: If the Cubs are still talking to the Phillies, it means they are past that awkward conversation in which the Phillies ask for a package of Bryant, Russell and Theo’s left testical. Since I don’t believe that the Cubs would even listen on Bryant or Russell (not sure on the testicle availability, but my sources are working on confirming there), the fact that the discussions are continuing is a good sign, right? That has to mean talks include guys like Javier Baez, C.J. Edwards, etc. If that’s the case, I’d probably make that deal.

In the end, I don’t see the Cubs bringing in a starter like Hamels this year when guys like David Price, Jordan Zimmerman, etc are on the market for cash in the off-season.

The Bullpen’s About To Get Real

Rafael Soriano pitched again in the minor leagues, striking out the side for the Iowa Cubs on Thursday and pitching another scoreless inning of relief yesterday. Since signing, Soriano has posted seven innings of work, striking out seven hitters and only allowing one unearned run. Joe Maddon indicated that Soriano could be up sooner than people expect, which implies to me that it may either be today or tomorrow, with my money being tomorrow in preparation for the series with the Reds. To that, add the rumors that Jonathan Papelbon is close to being dealt and that the Cubs are interested and you’ve potentially got two really good arms being added to the pen. Then, there was the news that Zac Rosscup is working on returning as well. I’m not sure where all these guys would fit it, but if I’m Edwin Jackson, Neil Ramirez, Travis Wood or James Russell, I’m on my best behavior when I get the call to come into a game.

Bryant Signed a Multi-Year Contract

If you missed the big news over the weekend, Kris Bryant signed a multi-year deal…with Fanatics…a memorabilia company. Sorry to be that guy this morning and pull the rug out from under you, but it had to be done. Good for Kris for getting some extra money as he has to wait to cash in on the field. His money is going to come, but I like the fact that he can make some now. According to Darren Rovell:

Bryant’s newly signed merchandise isn’t cheap. A signed authentic Cubs jersey is $600; a signed bat is $300; a signed cap is $250; and a signed ball is $200.

The Cubs Will Miss Cueto

With a four game set against the Reds next on the schedule, you would figure that the Cubs would have to see Johnny Cueto, but you’d be wrong. Cueto will take the mound today for the Reds in the series finale against the Indians, so the Cubs will get out of Cincy without having to face him. The Cubs have a pretty easy schedule down the stretch so anything to make it even easier is a welcomed relief. I’ll take it.

Baez is Close to Returning to Iowa

It’s been a long season for Javy, but word is that he’s getting close to returning from his rehab and playing in actual minor league action. I’d love to see him get in a groove for the last month and a half before the September call up time comes and then see him transition right into the Majors for good come September. His power at the plate would be a welcomed addition for an offense that has struggled a lot this year.


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5 Things Cubs Fans Need to Know for July 18th

Saturday, July 18th, 2015

1. First game of the second half

For as much as I enjoy the All Star break and its festivities, having meaningful baseball back is always refreshing, especially since the break has been extended by a day in recent years. I know the players need that time off, but it makes for a long two days without any sort of baseball to watch at all. The second half of the season started in Atlanta last night, and it wasted no time getting frustrating for Cubs fans. Chiefly because in an 8th inning 2-2 tie, we saw Pedro Strop give up the game. Even though we had been sitting at the 2-2 stalemate for 4 innings at that point, I trusted our office to push at least one more run across the board before it was over. The 2 runs that Strop gave up in the 8th left little opportunity from that point, and seemed to suck the wind of of the sails in a game in which the Cubs seemed to be wasting runners as it was. The Cubs left 12 runners on base last night, so the scoring opportunities were ample. On a brighter note, it was nice to see Jorge Soler drive in the 2 runs that the Cubs did score. Tonight Jon Lester will go up against Manny Banuelos and try to get things going in the right direction.

 2. Schwarber is back!

The news shot through the world of Cubs fans on Thursday afternoon that Kyle Schwarber was returning to the team from AAA Iowa and would be in the lineup Friday. His return came a lot sooner than I expected, but the injury to Miguel Montero played a large role in this earlier callup, and if I can speculate, the Cubs were probably also motivated by the desire to inject some spark into the offense. Schwarber did his part last night, going 3 for 4 and scoring one of the team’s runs, so hopefully he can add juice to an offense that’s been lagging a bit lately. The scary part about having Schwarber up is that he is going to play catcher predominately, and the concern about his defense behind the plate has been the reason for keeping him in the minors long after his bat was ready for major league pitching. The plan defensively, for now, is to have Schwarber sit out games in which Lester or Arrieta is pitching (so we won’t see him for the next two games unless he’s pinch hitting). He also isn’t expected to play any outfield for now, as he hasn’t played in the outfield since A ball in 2014, but that option hasn’t been ruled out entirely.

3. Montero out up to 6 weeks

With the excitement of the Schwarber news comes the reality that the Cubs have lost Montero for at least 6 weeks. At first, it looked like he might be able to return after the All Star break, but the injury is severe enough that he’s going to be gone for much longer. While this means that Schwarber is very unlikely to head back to the minors this year, the absence of Montero is significant. David Ross is a great backup defensively and the Cubs could not ask for a better mentor for Schwarber, but the extra game each week of Ross in the lineup could add up. For now, the Cubs will carry 3 catchers with Taylor Teagarden staying on the active roster, so Ross may not play more than once a week, but Teagarden’s bat doesn’t offer much either.

 4. The All Star game

Having both Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant there was really nice to see, and I was especially happy that Rizzo was a starter, as he was very deserving. I wrote about the home run derby a few days ago, but in the game itself on Tuesday night, Rizzo and Bryant both got 2 at bats. Rizzo, who was starting at DH given the depth of position at 1B in the National League, went 0-2 and then was lifted for Troy Tulowitzki. Bryant replaced Joc Pederson in LF and drew a walk and flew out to the outfield in his second at bat. The NL ultimately lost, 6-3. San Diego will host the 2016 all star game, and my hope is that when the renovations to Wrigley are finished, the Cubs can host in the near future.

 5. Down on the farm

Our minor league system has had a busy few days as well, but the most impactful news for the Cubs in the near future is that both Tsuyoshi Wada and Rafael Soriano are pitching successfully in Iowa and both could be ready to return to the Cubs soon. Soriano would be a bit ahead of schedule, but he has done well enough that he could be ready. His presence in the bullpen could very likely cause notable changes to the late innings from the bullpen, as he could even take the closing role, as it seems now to be a spot that is sort of Jason Motte‘s, but no one has a clear hold on that spot in the late innings.



1948: After the first two Cubs get on base in the bottom of the ninth inning at Wrigley Field, Phillies rookie right-hander Robin Roberts appears to pitch out of trouble by getting the next two batters out. The 21 year-old hurler and future Hall of Famer, however, proceeds to hit the next two consecutive batters with a pitch, Phil Cavarretta and Andy Pafko, giving Chicago a 3-2 walk-off victory.


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The Chicago Cubs All-Time Home Run Team

Friday, July 17th, 2015

I must admit I watched little of Tuesday’s All-Star Game.  I feel the game lost its zeal long ago…about the time inner league play began.  In my humble opinion, the elimination of inner league play would help restore interest (at least mine) in the former “mid-summer classic”. Instead, the importance of the game is propped up by manufactured value…the winner receiving home field advantage during the World Series.  Do you know anyone who endorses this home-field lunacy? (Other than Bud Selig)

While I once again had no interest in the actual All-Star game this year…my attentiveness to the home run derby was up one thousand percent.  Obviously this was due to the inclusion of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.  Unfortunately their performances could be classified as “Cub-like”.  Rizzo, the guinea pig in the new format, came out swinging like Rocky Balboa in his first fight against Clubber Lang in Rocky III-which didn’t turn out too well.  Bryant, who admirably found it more important to have his father throw to him than to win, received about as many hittable pitches as he does from opposing pitchers. (Incidentally…did anyone else notice how upset Prince Fielder looked when he realized he was eliminated? He looked like Clubber Lang after the second fight in Rocky III)

All-Star games, Home-Run derbies and Rocky films aside…the derby made my mind wonder into Cubs history…specifically home-run hitters.  I started to ponder the best Cubs’ homerun hitters at each position, that I have seen play and then form them into a mythical line-up. So without further ado (and anymore Rocky movie references) here is my all-time Cubs’ home run hitter line-up:

Leading off and playing centerfield, 1976 Rick Monday with 32 homeruns.  Monday had a .346 on-base percentage and his sweet lefty swing is perfect at the top of my fictional line-up.  The second slot will be manned by (duh) 1990 Ryne Sandberg.  Not only does our team gain Ryno’s 40 homers and 100 RBI’s, we get a gold glover at second base.

Batting third and playing shortstopis 1958 Ernie Banks. Now I am stretching a bit here…but I did actually see Banks play as a very, very young boy.  His 47 homers and 129 knocked in from one of his MVP seasons had to be in the lineup.  So I reached a bit here…but it’s worth it. (Not to mention the Cubs haven’t had a plethora of power hitting shortstops)

Sorry millennials, but playingright field and batting fourth, is 1987 Andre Dawsonnot Sammy Sosa. Setting aside “cork” jokes and enhancement talk…I just enjoyed Andre more as a player.  Andre hit 49 homers in 1987 with 137 RBI’s, had a cannon for an arm, and no “hop”.   Had Andre played his career injury free, I am confident he would be considered one of the top players ever.

Batting fifth I put 2014 Anthony Rizzo at first base.  Even though Rizzo’s 32 homers pales in comparison to Derek Lee’s 46 in 2005, I am trying to balance out the line-up a bit…and Rizzo is already one of the better left-handed sluggers in Cubs’ history.(there hasn’t been many).  If my fictional team plays with a DH, then 2005 D-Lee will be a nice addition to the line-up.

In the sixth slot, and in left field,is 1979 Dave KingmanI encourage you young bucks out there to YouTube some of Kingman’s 1979 homers.  You will be amazed at some of the 48bombs that were launched onto Waveland that summer. Sure he struck out a lot (before it was cool), and once sent a rat to a reporter as a joke, but for one season Kingman was a prodigious slugger.  Many of his shots today would be hitting the giant video board.

Here is one for the youngsters…I have 2006 Aramis Ramirez playing third base and batting seventh.  Aramis hit 38 homers in 2006, and upon further reflection I believe Aramis will go down as one of the best in Cubs’ history. Ramirez was a key offensive piece for three Cubs’ play-off teams. (Quick…name someone else you can say that about!)

Catching and batting eighth is the absolute epitome of a one year wonder…1993 Rick Wilkins.   Wilkins hit 30 homers in 1993…and never came remotely close to that achievement again.  However for the purposes of our team, his lefty stick will add to that balance I mentioned earlier.  So what if he only did it once?

I might be adding a bit of “crazy” to the line-up in the ninth slot; but the best hitting Cubs’ pitcher I have ever seen is Carlos Zambrano.  The switch-hitting, Gatorade cooler bashing, catcher fighting Zambrano hit 6 in 2006,  and will give the line-up its fourth lefty when facing a tough right hander.  So a quick review, with homerun totals:

CF       1976 RICK MONDAY                    32

2B       1990 RYNE SANDBERG               40

SS        1958 ERNIE BANKS                       47

RF       1987 ANDRE DAWSON               49

1B       2014 ANTHONY RIZZO                32

LF        1979 DAVE KINGMAN                 48

3B       2006 ARAMIS RAMIREZ             38

C          1993 RICK WILKINS                      30

P          2006 CARLOS ZAMBRANO        6

This line-up produces a nice 322 homers, and averages 39.5 round trippers per each position player.  The line-up features Hall of Famers in the 2, 3 and 4 slots in the order…so who cares if we have a one-hit wonder (Wilkins), a malcontent (Kingman) and a pitcher (Zambrano) who looks like he could just might be crazy enough to kill?

So feel free to point out admissions…I like my line-up! I would just have two wishes if this team did actually take the field…

I hope the wind is blowing out…and I don’t want to play the Yankees all-time homer team. (Yikes! Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Maris, Nettles, Reggie and on and on)

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Home Run Derby Recap

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015


First, I should say that I have been a fan of the all star game and the home run derby for as long as I can remember. Even in the last 6 years or so since the advent of the MLB Network, I have found myself sucked in to the parade during all star break as well. However, the home run derby had gone a bit stale for me in recent years, if I am being totally honest. The last year that I remember being really excited about it was 2008 because of Josh Hamilton, but the sad irony of that derby is that he was not even the winner, as Justin Morneau took that honor. I wasn’t sure what to think of the new format when it was announced because there were so many changes, but my initial reaction was a happy one, and it grew even more so when I learned that both Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant were going to be taking part in it.

Really, the change in the home run derby was probably long overdue, but that’s baseball. Changes to the game in any sense tend to move at glacier-like speeds. The move to a timed round had an immediate effect. I saw far fewer pitches being passed on, as the hitters were much more concerned about capitalizing while they had the time. That alone was enough to ramp up the excitement in the derby, but the addition of a bracket style tournament was also a very nice touch. Why this wasn’t put in place 25 years ago is beyond me, because it’s a more than proven format. It did make things tough for Rizzo and Bryant, I thought, but I’m fine with that. I expect that both of those guys will make multiple returns to the derby before it’s all said and done.


Rizzo was the very first hitter to go, which I think we can agree is a tough spot no matter what you are doing, but he put up an impressive performance with 8 long balls. It wasn’t enough, though, to move on. Josh Donaldson, his matchup for the first round, knocked 9 out of the park, so Donaldson moved on. The eventual star of the derby, Todd Frazier, won in walk off-esque fashion to move out of the first round past a very tough opponent in Prince Fielder. On the other side of the bracket, Dodgers rookie Joc Pederson bested Orioles third basemen Manny Machado to move on to face the winner of Bryant and Albert Pujols. Here was another tough spot for our Cubs, as rookie Bryant is going up against a very experienced veteran in Pujols. Ultimately, that experience was just enough for Pujols to move past Bryant.


Once again, hometown favorite Frazier won in a “walk off,” hitting just one more home run than his semi final opponent, Donaldson. Perhaps the chance to take part in the derby in his home park paid off, or perhaps he has just the right kind of swing, but Frazier looked pretty dominant all night. Pujols, after overtaking Bryant in the first round, was bested by Pederson in the semi finals, in spite of the fact that Pederson’s brother might have had a bit of a rooting interest in Pujols.


I will openly admit that I was rooting pretty hard for Frazier at this point. In that absence of  being able to see either Rizzo or Bryant win the whole thing, I was excited about the prospect of a Reds player winning it in Cincinnati. Division rival or not, I think that was a great moment for that city and for that fanbase. Pederson was hard for me to root against, but seeing Frazier win the whole thing in the same fashion as he had the two rounds prior was pretty exciting.

In general, I sincerely hope that they keep this format. This was easily the most exciting home run derby that I have watched in a long time, and that’s even with the two Cubs representatives getting eliminated in the first round. Here’s to hoping for an equally exciting All Star game tonight.




1964: The Cubs overcome making five errors in the top of the third inning and beat the Mets, 4-2. The Chicago miscues, that include shortstop Andre Rodgers and catcher Dick Bertell each committing two and first baseman Ernie Banks contributing to the total by dropping a pop fly, account for all of New York’s scoring in the Wrigley Field contest.

1969: At Wrigley Field, Bill Hands and the Cubs edge Tom Seaver and the Mets, 1–0. After the last out is made, Ron Santo jumps up and clicks his heels for the first time, a move the third baseman will repeat each time Chicago wins for the rest of his career.

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5 Things a Cubs Fan Needs to Know for July 12

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

Lester is Starting to Annoy Me

Down a game in the series to the crosstown rival and facing one 0f the best pitchers in baseball yesterday should have been the ingredients for a pitcher paid to be an ace to show up and dominate. Chris Sale showed up and did just that and Jon Lester did not. Sale is making $6 million this year and Lester is making $15 mil and scheduled to make $20 mil next year. I understand that his ERA is 3.59 and his FIP is even better at 3.14, but the fact is, when you’re paid to be an ace, you win like an ace. Lester has not done that.

He spoke after the game and had the message that the team needs to “figure it out”. At this point, I need Lester to figure it out. I need him to get a win.

Montero Has  a Boo Boo

Miguel Montero is having an MRI done on his left thumb after leaving the game early yesterday. He reportedly jammed the thumb in the 1st inning of play and left the game shortly after his at bat in the 2nd. Right now the Cubs have one day before the All Star break. You would rather not see Montero go on the DL for a jammed thumb, but if it turns out there is a fracture there, David Ross would be eligible to be recalled from the concussion DL to take his spot. Personally, if Montero goes to the DL, I call up Kyle Schwarber and let him start as many games behind the plate as possible until Montero returns. He could provide an offensive boost that this team is lacking. He’s not able to be called up today unless you want to have him switch his Futures Game plans, and I don’t see the Cubs doing that. My guess is that we could see a 24 man roster today for the last game and then have Montero have a few days to be re-evaluated.

Futures Game Tonight

If you’re into the prospects, both Schwarber and C.J. Edwards will be participating in the game tonight. I’ve often said that I think MLB should forgo scheduling any MLB teams on Sunday night baseball, which allows them to maximize their amount of rest for the break, and instead showcase the Future’s Game as Sunday Night Baseball. It’s obviously not done that way from a revenue standpoint as ESPN would not draw near as many ratings as possible, but MLB needs fans to know about future stars and needs guys to be recognizable. With nothing else going on, this would be a good time to do that. If you’re interested, you can watch the game today at 3p EDT on MLB Network, but I’d recommend watching the Cubs game instead. Jim Bowden also released an article with the participants most likely to be traded before July 31. Take it with a grain of salt as their is a reason why Bowden is no longer a GM.

Home Run Derby Pitchers

If you missed it, Anthony Rizzo announced that his pitcher for the home run derby tomorrow night is Franklin Font, who throws to Rizzo during Cubs batting practice. Kris Bryant is scheduled to take his dad yard in the contest. I don’t know if I’ve been this excited about the derby since I was in high school. I’m not sure if it’s because the Cubs have two representatives in it, or because of the format change, but I’m pretty excited to watch.

Down on the Farm

Junior Lake (remember him?) hit a pair of home runs for Iowa yesterday and is now hitting .305 / .396 / .454 for Iowa with 4 HR in 43 games. At some point, you would have to think he’s going to come up or be part of a trade package. Tsuyoshi Wada made another rehab start, going four innings and allowing two runs, only one of them earned, and sub-marine reliever, Ben Rowen pitched two scoreless innings of relief. That’s three scoreless relief outings since coming to Chicago and I’m a little intrigued.


1910 – The legendary verse detailing the Cubs’ double play combination of Tinker to Evers to Chance, entitled That Double Play Again, is published for the first time. When the ‘New York Evening Mail’ republishes the same poem six days later it will use the title by which it is best known today, Baseball’s Sad Lexicon.

1931 – After setting a major league record in the first game with nine doubles, the Cubs and Cardinals combined to hit another twenty-three two-baggers in the second game for an incredible total of thirty-two doubles in their doubleheader.

1992 – In the Braves’ 7-4 victory over Chicago at Wrigley Field, Jeff Blauser becomes the fourth shortstop to hit three home runs in a game‚ joining the ranks of Ernie Banks (Cubs, 1955)‚ Barry Larkin (Reds, 1991)‚ and Fred Patek (Angels, 1980). The Atlanta infielder had hit only 39 homers in the past six seasons.

1996 – In a scene reminiscent to yesteryear, the first basemen leave their mitt in the field between innings throughout Montreal’s 3-2 victory over the Cubs. The Expos’ first baseman David Segui is really sharing his glove with Chicago’s Mark Grace, whose equipment did not arrive at Olympic Stadium due to a shipping error.

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5 Things Cubs Fans Need to Know for July 11th

Saturday, July 11th, 2015

1. Game 1 of the crosstown series

I know feelings can be mixed when it comes to this series, but I enjoy seeing the two teams play each other, though it is definitely much more exciting when both teams are in contention, so the best year for the crosstown series has probably been 2008, in my opinion. Even without both teams in contention (sorry White Sox fans), there are some great pitching matchups to look forward to. Today we’ll see Chris Sale versus Jon Lester, but even yesterday’s matchup of Kyle Hendricks and Carlos Rodon proved to be quite a pitchers’ battle. Both pitchers threw quality starts, with Hendricks going one inning longer than Rodon.

The deciding factor yesterday ending up being Hector Rondon in the 8th inning. Rondon gave up an RBI to pinch hitter J.B. Shuck that scored former Cub Emilio Bonifacio that was ultimately the only run of the game, so the southsiders took game one of this weekend series. The Cubs are hosting the first half of the crosstown games, and then the two teams will see each other again in mid-August on the south side.

2. Olt to AAA, Roach optioned

Third baseman Mike Olt, who fractured his wrist in mid-April, has been activated and is in AAA Iowa. Since Olt’s injury, Kris Bryant has been handling third base, so there isn’t much reason to expect Olt to return to the Cubs any time particularly soon. He has great power potential, as he showed in 2014 with 12 homeruns in 225 ABs, but his ability to hit for average just isn’t there. At all. In 273 career ABs, he has just a .158 batting average. Part of the problem is that he strikes out at an extremely high rate (100 in 225 ABs last year), and even though he can grab some extra base hits and put a few over the fence, there’s no reason to bring him back to the Cubs before he shows that he can hit in AAA.

Pitcher Donn Roach was designated for assignment to make room for Olt on the 40 man roster, so if he is not picked up by another team, he can return to AAA Iowa. Roach had not done well for the Cubs at all, pitching just 3.1 innings this year with a 10.80 ERA to show for it. He made his debut for the San Diego Padres last year and was a decent relief pitcher, so there’s a chance he can return and do better.

3. Hammel looks okay

Jason Hammel gave all of us a scare on Wednesday after he left his start against the Cardinals after just one inning, but his MRI results looked good. He won’t likely pitch again until after the All Star break, so that will give him an opportunity to rest the hamstring that pulled him from the start on Wednesday. The injury did, however, highlight for a lot of us the importance of adding pitching depth before the July 31 trade deadline passes. Whether that is in the form of a blockbuster trade for Cole Hamels or just someone who provides depth at the 4-5 spots in the rotation, the Cubs need to be better prepared for injuries to pitchers that are bound to come. A pitcher I wouldn’t mind seeing the Cubs look into is Johnny Cueto. The Reds are likely to be looking to add some offense and/or top minor league talent, but even though it seems like either the Dodgers or AL East teams have expressed the most interest in Cueto, I wouldn’t mind the Cubs making a move for him.

4. Baez and La Stella rehabbing

Javier Baez, who broke his finger on a slide on June 7, was finally cleared to start swinging a bat, so while he is in Arizona rehabbing, he will get some opportunities to test his finger in live game situations. He is still a long way from a return, but seeing him make his way back to Chicago this season is my hope. He had been experiencing great success at the plate in Iowa up to the injury, so I like his chances to come back to the Cubs and contribute before the 2015 season is over.

Along with Baez, second baseman Tommy La Stella (remember him?), who injured his ribs practically as the season began, is also working on his rehab in Arizona. He was cleared yesterday to start baseball related activities. His timetable is very hard to predict, and it is possible that he does not return until very late in the season, if at all.

5. Down on the farm

Speaking of Olt, he homered for Iowa for the second time yesterday. Kyle Schwarber will be in next week’s futures game, and in AA Tennessee, Rafael Soriano pitched an inning in relief and gave up just one unearned run. The Cubs picked up Soriano in June to add to their bullpen depth, but it is not expected that Soriano makes an appearance with the Cubs until after the All Star break. 2015 first rounder Ian Happ continues to do well in short season Eugene, although he is struggling to hit for average. He does have 21 walks so far and 4 homeruns along with a .400 OBP, so I’m not terribly worried about his .233 batting average at this point.


1944: At Forbes Field, Phil Cavarretta sets an All-Star game record by reaching base five consecutive times. The Cub first baseman’s triple, single and three walks help the National League beat the junior circuit, 7-4.

1968: After whiffing in the first inning, Bill Hands grounds outs in his next at-bat, ending his major league record-setting streak for consecutive strikeouts. The Cubs’ right-hander, who goes the distance, blanking New York at Shea Stadium, 2-0, sets the dubious mark when he strikes out in fourteen straight plate appearances.


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5 Things a Cubs Fan Needs To Know for July 10

Friday, July 10th, 2015

1. The White Sox Come To Town

I’m not sure this series holds as much luster as it used to, but I find myself excited about it nonetheless. Liz mentioned yesterday in GirlieView that normally around this time, she’s basically checked out for the year. I hate to admit that, but it’s the case for me as well. This year is different. It’s so fun to watch every game. Even Wednesday’s punch to the seeds late was a fun game to watch, and it continues with this weekend series against the Sox. Every game features something to be excited about on the mound, if nothing else.

In game one today, we get to see Uber-Propsect, Carlos Rodon pitch against a hot of late Kyle Hendricks. Rodon went to school not 30 minutes from my house, at NC State, and I never saw him pitch even once. Shame on me. Game two gives us one of the best pitchers in the game, Chris Sale against Jon Lester. I don’t feel good about that game. Then we get to see Jake Arrieta and his dreamy beard and devastating fastball in the finale.

2. Today’s Game Has a Weird Start Time

I’ve always been used to seeing games at Wrigley played at 2:20p EDT when they are during the day with the exception being on Saturdays to accommodate for the National audience. If you tune in at that time you’ll be dissappointed and have to wait. Today’s game doesn’t start till 4:05p EDT. I don’t like it, but what do I care, really? I’ll be watching tonight after the kids go to bed anyway.

3. The Home Run Derby is Starting to Garner Excitement

Well, at least it feels like it. With the changes to the format this year to a bracket style competition and the time limit, I think people that are about ready to bail on the event all together (like me) will be quite surprised this year. I’m pretty excited about watching Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo compete. I’m not one that feels it messes with a swing the rest of the year. Who are we kidding? Do we really think these guys don’t already try to play home run derby during batting practice? That said, ESPN did a piece with some stats to know as we get closer to the derby.

4. Jason McLeod Was Interviewed

If you’re not sure who he is, McLeod is the Cubs Senior Vice President of Player Development and Amateur Scouting and is very important in this rebuild because he’s in charge of keeping the pipeline moving. He did an interview with the South Bend Cubs and it’s worth a listen. It’s 7.5 minutes and can be heard here.

5. Cubs Still Players For Eddy Julio Martinez?

The Cubs have been linked the the top Cuban FA on the international market since the signing period opened on July 2nd. Jesse Sanchez of has more:

It’s uncertain when the 20-year-old Martinez, ranked No. 1 on’s Top 30 International Prospects, will sign, but several teams remain in the competition to ink the prospect.

The Dodgers and Giants, the two teams that went head to head for outfielder Lucius Fox, ranked No. 3 on the international list, have each scheduled more private workouts for Martinez this week, and Los Angeles and San Francisco appear to be the front-runners. Fox signed with the Giants for $6 million on July 2 after being linked to the Dodgers for months.

The Cubs, White Sox, Rangers and Astros have each worked out Martinez privately at least twice.

Martinez could command at least a $10 million bonus, and his contract will send the team that signs him into the maximum penalty under the international signing guidelines — 100-percent tax on the bonus pool overage and the inability to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods — if it is not already there.

This is where the Dodgers, Giants and possibly the Cubs appear to have an advantage. (Source)

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