Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Odds to Win the Brewers Series – August 11-13, 2015

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Every game is crucial from here on out for the National League Wild Card contending Cubs, thankfully the next few are against Milwaukee. Chicago has been very solid against the beer enthusiasts this season going 4-0 in Wisconsin earlier this month. The Cubs not only swept the series but brought their bats, outscoring the hometown Brewers 17-8 at Miller Park.

If the first game MLB betting line in the series is any indication, then it looks like the Cubs should be sitting pretty heading into the weekend. I think the icing on the cake will come on Thursday though, when Jon Lester (7-8, 3.22 ERA) dismantles Tyler Cravy (0-3, 5.40 ERA).

Lester is 3-0 over his last four starts with 19 hits given up through 29.1 innings of work. The big stat though of course, is his 30 strikeouts in that time as well. He put up a great effort in his last start against San Francisco, but the city is still reeling over that July 29th game against the Rockies. Lester burned 14 strikeout victims resulting in a 3-2 Cubs win.

Heading into this three-game swing with the Cubs, the Brewers are 7-13 since July 22nd. They’ve been outscored 82-56 in that span and were also shutout on five of those occasions as well. Meanwhile, the Cubs are a team on a mission. With an NL Wild Card spot directly in their sights, the team has gone 12-5 since the 22nd heading into this three-game set.

The Cubs have had one of their hottest August starts in team history going 7-1 against the Brewers, Pirates and Giants. Fortunately for Pittsburgh their August 3rd game with the Cubs was postponed to a later date. I say fortunate for them because Chicago was riding a five game win streak and shutout the Bucs at PNC 5-0 the following night.

 

I think August is going to be a great month for baseball in the Windy City. Following their Brewers series, we get ready for another Crosstown Classic with the struggling White Sox this weekend. The team will then meet the Tigers, Braves, Indians, Giants, Dodgers and Reds before September. More good news for Cubs fans, only two of those teams (Giants and Dodgers) are above .500.

The power is kicking in, the pitching is there and the schedule throughout August and into September is also on our side. It all starts with a strong showing though against Milwaukee this week.

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5 Things for Cubs Fans to Know on August 11

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

1. Brewers series preview

The Cubs have had a really, really nice stretch of games lately, and the 4 game sweep of the Giants might just be a part of the season that we look back on and see as a pivotal moment. I don’t like getting ahead of myself or expecting things that are out of reach, but I do think this team has what it takes to land one of the wild card spots. After the weekend series against the Phillies just a couple of weeks ago, I had some very real doubts about the Cubs making the playoffs, but that series just might have been the catalyst for the Cubs to start trending in a different direction.

This week’s games offer a nice opportunity to keep the winning going, too. I don’t want to overlook the Brewers and White Sox, but getting a series win against both teams is probably a safe bet. Here are the pitching matchups for the three game series against Milwaukee:

Tonight:

Dan Haren (0-0, 5.40) vs. Taylor Jungmann (6-3, 2.26)

Wednesday:

Jason Hammel (6-5, 3.17) vs. Matt Garza (6-12, 4.95)

Thursday:

Jon Lester (7-8, 3.22) vs. Tyler Cravy (0-3, 5.40)

2. I think we’re good

Like I alluded to earlier, I have gone through some periods of doubt about this team, but I am increasingly convinced that the Cubs are, in fact, good. And better than I think most of us expected them to be in 2015. I went into the season hoping for at least about .500 and not really anticipating making the playoffs this year. That seemed like a much more reasonable expectation for 2016, but the Cubs have so far surpassed expectations. At 62-48, they are 14 games above .500 for the first time since 2008, and although that year’s team finished well above that mark, the 2015 Cubs are on a pace not seen since then. As has been oft mentioned, the Cubs would be leading every other division in baseball except the AL Central. At 71 wins, that team from Missouri is the best in baseball by 4 games. While this can be frustrating now, I think it will serve the Cubs well as the playoffs approach. They are regularly playing against two of the toughest teams in baseball (Cardinals and Pirates), and even if fighting for that playoff spot doesn’t yield them anything this year, I can think of no better learning experience and motivational tool for such a young team.

The Cubs have 3 more games against the Giants this month, 6 more against the Pirates in September (with a makeup to be scheduled in there somewhere), and 6 against the Cardinals in September. Brace yourselves, this regular season will probably end with a bang.

3. Starlin still benched

The move to take Starlin Castro out of the very day lineup was necessary, I think. I have been impressed to see how gracefully he has handled it so far, but in a season where you are in a legitimate playoff hunt, starting a shortstop who is struggling so mightily at the plate and who makes some defensive lapses is just too costly. What is interesting though, is that he has not been used in a game at all since August 6. I thought he might get a spot start over the weekend or at least a pinch hitting appearance, but so far he has not appeared at all in nearly 6 days. I’ll be curious to see how he’s used in this week’s series, but it is looking as though this benching means that we will see very little of him. And with the close return of Tommy La Stella and a probable call up for Javier Baez at least when rosters expand, Castro may see very little playing time going forward.

4. Theo likes karaoke

My hope is that this is not blown out of proportion, and so far it thankfully does not seem like it will be, but after pictures of Theo Epstein at a bar with some of the Cubs players surfaced yesterday, I was bracing myself for some backlash. You can see video of Epstein and Anthony Rizzo singing some karaoke here, and this image in particular just made me laugh.

I may be in the minority about it, but I really don’t think it’s a big deal now, but if things go south for the Cubs this season, I fully expect people to point to this instance in an effort to find blame.

5. Down on the farm

Albert Almora is one of the few Cubs prospects who I have had the opportunity to see play in person when he spent 61 games in Kane County in 2013, and I loved what I saw. It’s very hard to predict major league success when a player is in single A, but Almora definitely looked a cut above the rest of the players I watched with him that year (even in a game when against some guy named Carlos Correa). Almora struggled when he moved up to AA Tennessee last year, and started off the season in 2015 the same way. It was starting to look like things might not materialize with him. However, he has had a very nice stretch of games lately, raising his average to .261 and he has actually raised his walk rate above his strikeout rate. Though he had probably dropped out of the top of the Cubs’ prospect hopefuls, he may be working his way back there and is someone to keep an eye on in the final month of the minor league season.

 


THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1961: In front of packed County Stadium in Milwaukee, Braves lefty Warren Spahn scatters six hits to beat the Cubs, 2-1, for his 300th victory. The 40 year-old southpaw, who will finish his career with 363 wins, the most of any left-hander in the history of the game, is the thirteenth major league hurler to reach the milestone.

2001: En route to his 11th victory when the Giants beat the Cubs at Wrigley Field, 9-4, Livan Hernandez goes 4-for-4, including a home run. The Cuban right-hander has collected eight consecutive hits, enjoying a 3-for-3 performance against the Phillies on August 5 and going 2-for-3 against the Pirates on the last day in July.

2002: Sammy Sosa‘s grand slam and run-scoring double against the Rockies give the Cubs’ slugger 14 RBIs over two games, establishing a new National League record. The previous mark was 13, shared by Nate Colbert (Padres-1972) and Mark Whiten (Cardinals -1993).

 

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5 Things a Cub Fan Needs to Know on Aug 10

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Sometimes Sweeping Can Be Fun

GIANTS 0 @ CUBS 2 – Sweeping is not a fun chore at the house or anywhere else. I remember when I was in high school, I worked two summers with my dad doing carpet and tile installation. One of my jobs in the commercial buildings we were working in was to go into the room with a hand broom and get on my hands and knees to sweep the room so fine that you could eat off it and still be dust free. As you might imagine, it was not a fun job. Sweep jobs like Sunday, however, can be delightful. Jared said the other day that he felt like it might be getting a little greedy to desire a sweep, but he got what he wanted. As wonderful as it is, it was 100% necessary as the Pirates also completed a sweep of the Dodgers last night. All we could do was simply keep pace.

To be honest, it was all Jake Arrieta in this one. He turned in his 10th straight quality start, going 7.2 innings and not allowing a run and even scored a run on a long triple off the right field wall. Essentially, he was a one man wrecking crew. I was a little surprised to see Joe Maddon call his number to pitch the 8th, as he had over 100 pitches through seven, but he did. It’s not the move I would have made, but it worked nonetheless. We are quickly inching toward a one game playoff with the Pirates, to which I ask the question: Who would you start on the mound for that game? Would you go with Arrieta because of how good he’s been or do you go with Jon Lester, who you paid so much to and let Arrieta be ready for game one of the next round should you win the one game playoff. I actually think I go that route.

Bomb Threat at Wrigley

I’m not even going to try to make this funny, because it’s not. These days, I think we take things way too seriously, but stuff like this is not a joking manner. Shortly after the game, the Cubs received a phoned in bomb threat to Wrigley Field. The remaining people in the stadium were evacuated quickly and dogs were brought in to give the all clear. Thankfully nothing went down. I always wondered why someone would call in a threat. If you planted a bomb, which means you’re deranged, wouldn’t it accomplish things more if people didn’t know it was there and could have time to take corrective measures? I’m just thankful nothing happened, but I fear that one day, some stadium is going to have something tragic happen.

Aoki Used His Head

Unfortunately it was not used correctly. There was a scary moment in the game when Nori Aoki was hit in the head by an Arrieta pitch. The ball appeared to hit Aoki in the brim of the helmet, which is very scary how close to his face that was. It was a total mistake pitch by Arieta, but again, you have to wonder if we’re going to see tragedy again one day at a ballpark. I think we will, unfortunately, but I think it will be a pitcher and not a hitter that will be the unfortunate victim.

Down on the Farm

Javier Baez Watch – He played SS and went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout. I think we’re going to see him stay in Iowa until the September 1 roster expansion and then go from there. That gives him like 3 more pressure free weeks to continue to work and have success. Then, when he comes up, I don’t think it would be an everyday job for him.

What’s On Tap?

Nothing for today. An off day from Cubs baseball, which couldn’t come at a better time as today is my 13th wedding anniversary. What’s crazy is that we’re also creeping up on the 13th anniversary of the start of VFTB as well. Enjoy the day off and get ready for the Brewers on Tuesday.

 

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5 Things a Cub Fan Needs to Know on Aug 9

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

So….About Last Night

GIANTS 6 @ CUBS 8 – While the game wasn’t quite played last night, per se, I like the title anyway. I was able to catch most of the game, but came into it in the bottom of the 2nd inning. I was little worried about the possible outcome with Kyle Hendricks taking the mound against Matt Cain, but then I remembered that Cain hasn’t been all that good (just like Hendricks). My worries and fears proved to be irrational. The Cubs knocked the Giants starter out of the game before the 5th inning for the third straight game in the series. Hendricks wasn’t a rock star out there, but did what he need to do until the 6th when he had to be bailed out by Travis Wood. Yes, you read that correctly, Wood bailed him out with 1.2 innings of solid relief. Overall, the pen was a little shaky, though. James Russell got hit around. Jason Motte continues to throw nothing but fastballs, and it’s concerning me. If I’m a hitter, I’m up there sitting fastball every time. This year, Motte has used his fastball 84.8% of the time, compared to his career average at 76.6% (which includes this year’s usage). He just doesn’t trust that other stuff and he’s starting to cost him. I can’t see the Cubs offering him a contract at year’s end. Offensively, the team just seems to be clicking. Joe Maddon is pushing the right buttons right now and we’re scoring runs. I remind you that no offense is as good as it looks when it’s hot or as bad as it looks when it’s cold (except in the case of the Mets), but it’s a fun little ride we’re on right now since losing that series to the Phillies. With the win, the Cubs playoff odds are now up to 78% and I’m starting to get excited.

Ross Down, Szczur Up

This is a temporary move, but prior to the game, the Cubs announced that David Ross was placed on the bereavement list and Matt Szczur was brought back to take his place. Ross will take some time off to be with his family after the passing of his grandmother. He’s expected to be away till at least Tuesday.

Castro Benched

I tell you what, September 1st can’t get here quick enough. We’ve got depth coming out of our ears and no place to put some of these guys. With Starlin Castro taking a seat on the bench, Maddon has decided to keep Chris Coghlin in the lineup and shift him to second base. Tommy La Stella is due back from a very long DL stint very soon and Javier Baez is on standby. It’s not looking good for Castro’s chance to get back into the lineup in the near future. If he wants to play, he’s going to have to impress. I just don’t see that happening. I hope I’m wrong, but I have a feeling we’ll see him moved in the off-season as part of some sort of package to improve the team.

Down on the Farm

  • Baez Watch – Javy went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks, a run scored and an RBI
  • Pierce Johnson turned in a great outing for the Smokies, going 7 IP, while allowing just 3 hits and 1 ER, striking out 7. I’m excited about Johnson. He’s probably my favorite pitcher in the system right now.

What’s On Tap?

Bonus Things

  • Sam Fuld is potentially on the Cubs radar for a waiver deal, to which I say: No Thank You. We’ve already tried a former Joe Maddon Guy in Rafael Soriano and that didn’t work.
  • I watched this video this morning and was in awe. I can’t even hit a ball that far the right way.

THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1963 – One loss shy of tying the major league record of 19 consecutive defeats, Roger Craig switches his uniform number to 13 in an attempt to change his luck. The move appears to work when Jim Hickman lofts a short fly ball in the ninth inning with two outs and the bases-full in a tie game, that just ticks the upper-deck overhang in left field at the Polo Grounds for a walk-off grand slam, giving the Mets an improbable 7-3 victory over the Cubs.

1963Lindy McDaniel becomes the second pitcher in major league history to give up a pair of game-ending grand slams in the same season when Mets pinch-hitter Jim Hickman goes deep, giving the Mets a dramatic 7-3 victory over the Cubs at the Polo Grounds. The Chicago right-hander, who also allowed Houston’s Bob Aspromonte to end a game with a bases full walk-off round-tripper in June, joins Satchel Paige (1952) in accomplishing the infamous deed.

1988 – After 5,687 consecutive contests take place during the day at the Chicago Northside ballpark dating back to 1914, the first official major league night game is played at Wrigley Field with the hometown Cubs taking a 6-4 decision from the Mets. The historic event was scheduled for last night, but the contest against the Phillies was rained out after the third inning.

2008Micah Hoffpauir ties a modern Pacific Coast League record by homering in his first four at-bats in the Iowa Cubs’ 15-3 rout over the Round Rock Express. The 28 year-old slugging first baseman becomes the third player in the history of the storied PCL to go deep in four consecutive at-bats and the fifth to accomplish the feat in one game.

 

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5 Things Cubs Fans Need to Know for August 8

Saturday, August 8th, 2015

1. Game Notes (Cubs win, 7-3)

It was a beautiful afternoon game on a Friday in the heart of summer. No matter the outcome, that’s a hard thing to beat. To add to the beauty of the day, the Cubs took down the Giants for the second day in a row, extending their lead in the NL Wild Card race to 1.5 games over San Francisco for the last playoff spot and bringing them to 3.5 games behind the Pirates. Though they lost some games to teams that they should have beaten easily a few weeks ago (ahem…Phillies…), they are winning against the teams where it really matters. A 4 game sweep feels greedy, so I am truly hoping that the Cubs can win at least one of the next two games against the Giants.

Jon Lester turned out another solid performance, this time going 7 full innings and giving up 2 runs on just 6 hits. Tommy Hunter gave up the third Giants run on a Nori Aoki homerun in the 8th inning. After that, Hector Rondon came in and ended up pitching a near 2 inning save (his 18th of the season) in which he gave up just one walk and did not allow a single hit.

At the plate, Kyle Schwarber continued his hot streak, collecting 2 hits in 5 at bats, including an RBI double that was a catalyst in the 5 run 5th inning. Dexter Fowler, Chris Coghlan, and Jorge Soler each also had multiple hits yesterday, including a no-doubter to left field off of the bat of Fowler in the 8th inning.

This afternoon Kyle Hendricks will go up against Matt Cain to try and secure at least a series win.

2. Castro “benched”

I am putting this in quotes because it’s not necessarily a full benching for Starlin Castro, but rather a loss of a guaranteed spot in the lineup on a regular basis. I have been a strong supporter of Castro’s for the bulk of his career, but it is very hard to argue against this move, given the putrid performance he has put forth this season (.236/.271/.304). In a year that the Cubs aren’t fighting for a playoff spot (like, say, 2013), Castro probably is allowed to keep playing and try to work things out. But given the preponderance of rookies in the lineup, the Cubs need options to generate offense, and Castro just hasn’t been one of them.

The next question becomes about roster speculation. It’s tempting (and I’m guilty of it) to look immediately to Javier Baez as a possible call up to take over duties at 2B and allow Addison Russell to move over to SS. The problem here is that it is overlooking the coming return of Tommy La Stella, who can probably handle playing at second on a regular basis just fine. We never really have had the chance to see what he can do this year. In Friday’s lineup, for instance, Chris Coghlan played at second while Russell played short. Joe Maddon also put Kyle Schwarber in LF, clearly in an effort to keep his bat in the lineup. Like I said, they are looking to generate offense however they can.

3. Montero returns

Miguel Montero was reactivated from his thumb injury yesterday after being out since July 11. He was not in Friday’s lineup because Lester was pitching, but I expect to see him in the lineup today. He was reactivated perhaps a little earlier than I thought he would be, but after a grand slam in his last rehab start for AA Tennessee, perhaps it seemed like the right time. His return does not mean that Schwarber is going anywhere, so look for Schwarber to spend more time in LF as the season goes on (assuming he keeps hitting as well as he has been).

The Montero/David Ross/Schwarber catching platoon isn’t likely going anywhere for a while, so we should probably get used to it. Ross is signed through next year, and Montero through 2017. As we all know, Ross is considered necessary at this point because of Lester’s preference for pitching to him, so it may not be safe to assume that Ross will be automatically gone after 2016. Though Schwarber has the best potential value as a catcher depending on his defensive development there, the more he can play the outfield in the short term, the better shot he has at playing regularly.

4. Keep an eye on Fowler

Probably lost in all the attention on Schwarber’s hitting and Castro’s not hitting is the fact that Fowler has now reached base in 21 consecutive games. Yesterday, he was 3 for 5 with a homerun and a double. This on base streak includes 4 games out of the last 6 in which he didn’t even collect a hit, but still managed to get on base via walk. Fowler is still not hitting at the level he typically does, but after his average dipped as low as .225 on July 11, he has brought it up as high as .247 on July 30. Currently, he sits at .240. In he last 3 weeks of the season, he has consistently done what we want our leadoff guy to do: he’s getting on base one way or the other. I wonder if the number of games in that 21 game stretch in which Schwarber is batting after him has changed the kinds of at bats Fowler is having, but whatever it is, if Fowler can continue doing this kind of thing, it will be huge for our offense.

5. Down on the farm

In AA Tennessee, once hot prospect Albert Almora is stringing together a nice series of games, getting a hit in 9 of his last 11 games, including a 3 for 5 night against the Jacksonville Generals yesterday.

In single A South Bend, Gleyber Torres continues to be torrid at the plate (sorry, I couldn’t help it), going 2 for 5. One has to wonder if he’ll work his way to Myrtle Beach before year’s end. He’s hitting well enough, but is still very young to be at even the single A level.


THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1933: A series of Midsummer Classic games is proposed by William Veeck, president of the Cubs. Although the idea receives some support, it will be 64 years before a team from the American League plays a club from the National League during the regular season.

1988: In the first scheduled night game ever at Wrigley Field the Cubs play host to the Phillies. The game does not become official as the contest is rained out in the third inning.

2000: Cubs’ hurler Phil Norton becomes the 18th pitcher in major league history to give up four homers in one inning in the Dodgers’ 7-5 victory at Chavez Ravine. Kevin Elster, Darren Dreifort, Gary Sheffield and Shawn Green all take the 24 year-old southpaw deep in the bottom of the fourth inning.

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5 Things a Cub Fan Needs to Know on Aug 7

Friday, August 7th, 2015

by Nate Head

Ace Up

Cubs LHP Jon Lester is taking the mound on only four days rest today. On Monday night in Pittsburgh, Lester pitched 1 1/3 innings before the game was delayed and eventually postponed. The Chicago southpaw only tossed 31 pitches while yielding one run to the division foe Pirates. Lester excelled in the month of July, where he posted a 1.66 ERA in 43 1/3 innings. Lester has assured manager Joe Maddon—as well as the media—that he is ready to take the ball again and the Cubs hope he can continue to build on his recent momentum, beginning with this start in game two of a pivotal series against the Giants.

Missing Montero

It feels like Cubs catcher Miguel Montero has been absent from the team for an eternity. Montero suffered a thumb injury in mid-July that put him on the 15-day DL. Recently, “Miggy” began a rehab stint with the AA affiliate Tennessee Smokies, and he clubbed a grand slam last night. According to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, the 32-year-old catcher could rejoin the team as early as Saturday. Montero’s eventual return has drawn plenty of attention, as many wonder how Maddon can squeeze him into the lineup without taking at-bats from Kyle Schwarber, who has absolutely thrived in Montero’s place. A solution that is gaining popularity is the thought of moving Schwarber to left field and using Chris Coghlan as a utility player. Coghlan can play all three outfield spots, third base, second base, and even first. Coghlan’s versatility enables Maddon to give rest to his young lineup down the stretch while keeping Schwarber’s scalding hot bat in the lineup.

Bring up Baez?

Javier Baez’s surge at AAA Iowa mixed with Starlin Castro’s abysmal hitting has begun to crank up the rumor mill, suggesting the promotion of the Chicago’s 2011 first-round draftee may be on the horizon. Prior to last night’s contest, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer addressed the matter by denying that Baez is coming to Chicago soon. “We would love to get him going and not just for a week to 10 day hot stretch,” Hoyer said in a report by Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com. Baez is hitting .306 with 11 home runs, but the playing time rotation is tight. Where would he fit? It’s easy to look at Castro’s plunging stats, scoff, and angrily send a tweet begging for Baez. But, at this point, Starlin’s experience itself is more valuable to the Cubs right now, who already boast four rookies in the lineup in the midst of an aggressive wild card push.

Heated Hammel

Cubs RHP Jason Hammel was visibly frustrated by Maddon’s decision to remove him from the game after just four innings in last night’s 5-4 win. Hammel started the game with three scoreless innings before Brandon Belt hit a two-run home run in the fourth. Hammel’s command was shaky in the fifth, and his night ended abruptly when Maddon replaced him with reliever Justin Grimm after two consecutive walks to begin the frame. Maddon showed that he wasn’t taking any chances and called on his bullpen earlier than anticipated. Five different relievers combined for 5 innings, and Cub newbie Tommy Hunter was the only to give up runs, allowing two in the sixth. “I understand the magnitude of the situation…I just wanted to be out there to clean up my own mess,” a stern-faced Hammel said after the game.

What’s On Tap?

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GirlieView (08/06/2015)

Thursday, August 6th, 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

  • Another thing to know for today…my wife and I are celebrating our 9th anniversary…so how the heck can I spin this to make two Cubs game part of the anniversary plans?
  • That would be a sweet anniversary.
  • you’d be surprised at the number of higher end restaurants that have flat screen TV’s these days…do your research and seat yourself strategically. Happy Anniversary.
  • “Watching Castro and Bryant flailing away at unreachable sliders reminds me of the Foreigner concert I attended back in 1982. Come flail away, come flail away, come flail away with me ya, come flail away, come flail away come flail away with me ya.”
  • I think that was Journey.
  • Definitely Styx
  • …as in Castro and Bryant got no Styx lately.
  • What is the world coming to when classic rock songs are miss-attributed.
  • Len stands corrected. Len is heading out to Stix after the game tonight, it’s a Styx tribute band.
  • Multitasked big time. Caught the big inning on the way home with the kids. While making dinner caught Wood pitch hard (on one of the tablets on the counter, because I’m a good parent.) Caught TeaGarden hit a go-ahead while giving the kids a bath. Watched Motte wrap it up as the kids ran around after bath. Go Cubs.
  • You can by amused by the monkeys in the trees masturbating or throwing hands full of feces, but please don’t do either yourself in public.
  • Does anyone else have issues when they read the Lizzies remembering if they said it or someone else said it? Every edition I scan for it, but can never remember if there are my statements.
  • You are alone in this category.
  • No. I’m unfortunate enough to remember every stupid comment I make.
  • You are growing old Joe. Don’t be late for dinner, the dinning hall opens at 3PM and they tend to run out of soft foods around 4.
  • I believe I recognize mine. Kind of like my body parts. It may not be impressive, but I know it belongs to me.
  • I recognize mine…but mostly because my LPC ratio remains high atop the standings. Lizzies Per Comment is the only metric that matters.
  • Nice, I felt like that Lizard was mine, but couldn’t remember.
  • Wait.. are you guys still talking about blog comments or did this get weird?
  • Weird. Fairly certain I heard the exact same line at a truck stop.
  • Sherm is pissed. I go to China for 6 days and you guys let the team fall apart…what’s up with that?
  • We keep talking about the Cubs fattening up during this stretch against sub .500 teams but it doesn’t always work that way.
  • I find myself a bit anxious waiting for the game today. Need a win Mr Lester.
  • Lester is doing his job today. How about that.
  • if you think the Cubs can’t score runs, browse through some box scores from Mets games.
  • I was at Wrigley today. Ugh!
  • My guess is that if you didn’t already know this one happened and you came here to find out the things you should know for today, you probably are a very fringe fan. That’s OK, we welcome you anyway, but try to pay better attention.
  • The Cubs have a soft schedule down the stretch, but it doesn’t really matter when you can’t beat the bad teams. When you play down to the competition, you don’t deserve to be in the runnings.
  • One more thing – our son got married on Friday. We now have another daughter in the family and future Cub fan! Life is good.
  • Character counts.
  • When you need to know it, Joe will let you know. Until then, just sit tight.
  • Concierge catcher Ross perfect on the mound and at the plate yesterday
  • The fickle nature of some Cub fans never ceases to amaze me.
  • But this was always going to happen. Guys were going to slump. Adjustments were going to be needed. And yet there’s a lot of knee-jerking going on around here. This team is right where everyone expected them to be…but because they went on a bit of a tear early in the year, those expectations got inflated to something that’s not sustainable.
  • Even after a very dismal weekend against the Phillies, a single win against the Rockies last night has dramatically lifted the spirits of Cubs fans everywhere
  • I’ll be honest, I wrote the game off after the top of the 9th and am happy to be wrong.
  • Maybe that’s my problem. I have two Castro shirts and a jersey. If he’s traded then I need to go shopping.
  • It is worth noting that after pushing many Cubs fans to the brink of frustration, Lester has put together a very nice string of starts lately.
  • I know nothing about you Doc, but since I’ve been on this blog, at least once an inning while listening to Len, he says something stupid and I think “I hope Doc Raker didn’t hear that.”
  • Still hoping we stand pat.
  • Junior Lake well, I am sure he will do well with the Orioles where underachieving top Cub prospects always seem to end up.
  • Had to apply a little more deodorant in the 9th but we needed that!
  • Hector was the one stinking the place up. He must have a contract with a deodorant company on the side.
  • Bryant has a hole in his swing and it is being exploited by the opposition therefore a little bench time, film review and cage work could help him correct the problem.
  • It is the catch 22 for this young team. How much do you want to get them reps and how much time do they need to process the corrections needed. All while still trying to put the best team on the field.
  • Dan Haren has not pitched yet for the Cubs. That was Clayton Richards, they differ not only in looks and age, but also with which arm they use to throw a baseball.
  • Weird that got past the editor.
  • Giants blew a 6 run lead and then in the 12th inning they go up 1 run only to give up a 2 run bomb in the bottom of the 12th to lose. Pity.

Lizard

  • I do not want to be at a no hitter against the Cubs anywhere.

Shout Outs

  • Big shout outs to Common Sense, and King in the Nawth for their first 2015 Season Lizzies!!!! Thanks for being here!

MVL

  • Congratulations to Doc Raker, our Most Valuable Lizzie-er this time! Way to go Doc!

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

1. Eddie von White
2. Doc Raker
2. Seymour Butts
4. Joe Aiello
5. jswanson
6. Jedi
7. Doug S.
8. Dork
9. Jared Wyllys
10. Bryan

Chit Chat

  • There’s been some discussion this week on our infield situation and who to bring up/send down/start/sit/etc. Pretend you are king and name your ideal starting infield from the options we currently have at our disposal (including AAA).
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5 Things a Cub Fans Needs to Know on Aug 6

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

So…..About Last Night

CUBS 5 @ PIRATES 7 – In the abbreviated series finale with the Pirates, the Cubs messed up the chance for a mini-sweep by playing minor league baseball. Lots of things went wrong in this one, but the most frustrating ones to me were the defense, particularly the left side of the infield, which looked like a comedy of errors. Only one shows on the box score, but our infield didn’t look it’s best last night, Throw in Dan Haren making his debut for the Cubs as a waiter and serving up filet of long ball and you’ve got a recipe for a frustrating night.

On the plus side, Kyle Schwaber continued to do Schwaber things, hitting a two run bomb to bring the Cubs within one run that was so loud it produced on solo shot echo off the bat of Anthony Rizzo just a minute later to tie it.

At that point, I felt good and felt like this could be a nice night after all, then the bullpen happened. Travis Wood came in and couldn’t get anyone out, which caused Joe Maddon to go to Pedro Strop an inning earlier than he probably would have wanted to. By the time the 6th was done, the Pirates had the lead again. Jason Motte came in to pitch a nice 7th inning, but for some reason Joe brought him out in the 8th. Motte is not a two inning pitcher at this point, not because he doesn’t have the physical ability to do it, but because he relies too heavily on his straight as an arrow fastball and more than one inning gives hitters too good of a look at the velocity and movement on it. He’s almost turning into ROOGY, which is not a valuable piece of a bullpen.

Tough loss last night, but we split with the Pirates. No ground lost, but no ground gained.

Soriano On the Shelf and Richard Back

Prior to the game, the Cubs made a roster move to place Rafael Soriano on the 15 day DL with a shoulder issue and re-sign Clayton Richard, who was designated for assignment on Monday after pitching Sunday. Richard cleared waivers, but refused the minor league assignment so he was granted his release but quickly re-signed with the Cubs when the Soriano injury went down.

At times, the roster moves and technical jargon can be a little confusing. Here is a good article AZ Phil put out this week about it.

I don’t see Richard sticking in the pen as a reliever. There is no need for both him and Wood to be in that pen. We could be headed for a Brian Schlitter sighting very soon.

Baxter Stays

Mike Baxter was designated for assignment, but cleared waivers and accepted a minor league assignment. It’s good to see he will stay with the team. Depth is good.

Down on the Farm

  • Javier Baez – 0 for 5 with 2 K’s and an Error (not what you want to hear, I know)
  • Tommy LaStella – On rehab assignment in AA went 2 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored

What’s On Tap?


THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1930 – During the Waco Cubs’ 18-run eighth inning eruption at Katy Park, Gene Rye hits three home runs in one inning. The Texas League outfielder’s round trippers in the minor league game include a solo shot, a two-run homer and a grand slam.

1972 – The second game of the Midland Cubs and Amarillo Giants minor league doubleheader is postponed when thousands of grasshoppers begin appearing everywhere at Christensen Stadium. The massive clusters of insects, who swarmed from their nests behind the center field wall after the ballpark’s light were turned on, made play impossible when infielders couldn’t see their outfielders through the hordes of fluttering invaders.

1988 – Goose Gossage becomes the second player in major league history to record 300 career saves when he faces one batter and gets the final out in the Cubs’ 7-4 victory over Philadelphia at Wrigley Field. The future Hall of Fame right-handed reliever joins Rollie Fingers, who reached the milestone in 1982.

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5 Things Cubs Fans Need to Know for August 5

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

1. Game Notes (Cubs win, 5-0)

This marks 6 wins in a row, and quite a turnaround after the rough stretch that included a sweep at home against the Phillies. Jake Arrieta, who has a win in 6 of his last 7 starts, pitched excellently once again, going 7 full innings with 5 strikeouts and only giving up 2 hits. His opposite on the mound, newly acquired Pirates pitcher J.A. Happ, was not so fortunate, not making it out of the 4th inning before giving up 4 runs. He did get 6 Cubs to strike out, to his credit. Tommy Hunter pitched another scoreless inning in the 8th, and then Justin Grimm came in for the 9th and pitched a scoreless inning as well in a non save situation. In all, there can be no complaints about the performance of our pitchers.

At the plate, every starter got a hit except lead off man Dexter Fowler, who went 0 for 5 with 2 strikeouts. Chris Denorfia and Anthony Rizzo both particularly had great nights at the plate, going 3 for 6 and 4 for 5, respectively. The biggest surprise at the plate might have been Starlin Castro, however. He was 2 for 5 last night with 2 doubles, 2 RBI, and a run scored. I hate to get my hopes up this late in the season, but if he can even start to hit slightly better than what he has been, this is a huge gain on offense.

Tonight we will see the debut of Dan Haren as a Cub as he takes on lefty Jeff Locke.

2. What if Castro is heating up?

This is probably the Castro apologist in me getting way, way ahead of myself, but he has been having such an uncharacteristically bad season that I have often wondered if he wasn’t due for a rebound. I don’t expect him to bring his numbers back to what he usually does, but he has pretty much been in a steady drop since the middle of May. What’s interesting is if you look at his numbers for the months of April and at least the beginning of May, he was hitting like he usually does, but somewhere around the second week of May everything started to drop, and it has not really stopped since then, leading to what could end up being a career worst season, far worse than 2013 was (.245/.284/.347). I’m not sure what led to this drop, but given Castro’s level of major league experience, it is possible that before this season ends, he might figure it out. Perhaps it’s been the pressure of having Addison Russell there and some Baez guy in the minors threatening his standing as the team’s shortstop, maybe it was the fears of being traded, maybe it was the impending birth of his second child. The point is, these guys are human, and things get in the way of them doing as well as they should. I’ve been ready to say that maybe Castro should be benched, but if he starts trending in the other direction, I like what this means for our offense. Most of all, let’s not draw conclusions based on last night’s game, but he looked better enough at the plate to at least garner some more attention.

3. A check on the standings

I found it refreshing to be watching on WGN last night and seeing scores of the Giants and Cardinals games. It’s been too long since we’ve been in a hunt like this. The 6 game winning streak has taken us from being 2.5 games behind in the race for the second wild card spot (on July 28), to a half game ahead of the Giants for that spot. The brutal reality for the 2015 Cubs is that we are in easily the toughest division in baseball right now. Both the Cardinals and Pirates would be leading nearly every other division in baseball pretty easily, and the Cubs would be leading the NL East. Going into tonight’s action, the Cubs are 3 games behind the Pirates, and my hope is that we can chop another win off of that total before returning to Chicago to play the Giants. Enjoy this ride, because these wild card spots will not likely be settled until very near the end of the season.

4. Rotation shift/Montero rehab

After the rain postponed Monday’s game, Jon Lester will now pitch on Friday against the Giants instead, and the rest of the rotation shifts a bit to accommodate this. Kyle Hendricks will have his start pushed back by a day and start on Saturday, and then Arrieta will go on normal rest on Sunday.

Miguel Montero, who has struggled some during his minor league rehab work, is still expected to make his return this weekend at some point. Montero has just 1 hit in 7 at bats while with AA Tennessee. He struck out 3 times on Monday night, and the Smokies did not have him in their lineup last night.

5. Down on the farm

At this point, I feel like I would be remiss not to mention Javier Baez in some way. Many of us are preoccupied with wondering when he will return to the Cubs since starting the season out of spring straining with AAA Iowa, and the picture is not really any more clear at this point. Meanwhile, he just keeps hitting. Last night, he hit homerun number 11 of the season, and did not strike out in 5 at bats. Keep a close eye here, because the offense he can potentially offer the Cubs will be too hard to keep in the minors as the last weeks of the season approach. He’ll be up with the 40 man roster expansion regardless, I would have to think, but I fully expect that he’ll be back before then.

Another rehabber, Tommy La Stella (who will only complicate the middle infield logjam further) looks close to being ready to return to the majors after recovering from an injury that has kept him out since early April. In his 6 rehab games with AA Tennessee, he is hitting .333 and without a single strikeout in 22 plate appearances. La Stella may be back pretty soon, but the trick will be finding chances for him in the lineup. If Castro stays cold, the easy solution would be to give La Stella starts at 2B and shift Russell to SS, but that’s assuming Baez stays in Iowa for a while longer.



THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1975: At Veterans Stadium, Cubs starter Bill Bonham gives up a major league record of 7 hits to the first seven Phillies he faces. Without retiring a batter, the former UCLA hurler is replaced by Ken Crosby, who promptly gives up a single to Johnny Oates.

1985: Darryl Strawberry belts three home runs, helping the Mets beat the Cubs, 7-2. The victory propels New York into first place in the National League East.

2000: Sammy Sosa becomes the first Cubs’ player to reach 100 RBIs six consecutive times. Hack Wilson did it for five straight seasons from 1926-30.

2007: At Wrigley Field, Tom Glavine, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, becomes the 23rd player in major league history to win his 300th victory. The crafty southpaw, the fifth lefty to reach the milestone, limits the Cubs to six hits and a walk in 6.1 innings as the Mets bang out 16 hits and beat Chicago in a nationally televised ESPN Sunday night game, 8-3.

2012: Darwin Barney becomes the Cubs’ all-time leader for second basemen when he plays in his 91st consecutive game in a single season without committing an error. The 26 year-old Chicago infielder, en route to setting the National League mark with a 127 straight errorless-game streak, surpasses Ryne Sandberg‘s team record that the Hall of Famer established in 1989.

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