Archive for the ‘General’ Category

GirlieView (07/09/2015)

Thursday, July 9th, 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

  • Jake, from State Farm.
  • Happy Belated Birthday, Raker,
  • Belated is right, it was in November.
  • We only remember the brother we like.
  • Jon Lester, proving once again he’s a “sometimes” ace.
  • A most-of-the-time ticked off “ace.”
  • The older I get, the more I realize that baseball, while I love it, is not all that important in the grand scheme of things.
  • You know what, fuck Pete Rose. We should be done with this by now.
  • Apparently you and I differ in that I am not willing to have carnal relations with him. I do agree with the sentiment that he just go away. The players that were his contemporaries that I have spoken with (small sample size, I know), uniformly think he does not belong because of the gambling. Probably hurts his chances that he was and is an arrogant prick.
  • That’s a CAPS-like visceral hatred not normally displayed by you jswan? The hit king do something to you early in your formative stages?
  • He was shoving umps when I was an impressionable young Cubs fan. I’m just sick of the whole thing..he was doing professional wrestling stuff for a while for christ sake. Idiot.
  • IM AM SORRY BUT WE ARE PLAYING THE BEST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE WINNING 2-1 WITH AN UNHITTABLE PITCHER ON CRUISE CONTROL. LET HIM PITCH
  • there are times when the best closer…is the starter. More managers need to understand that.
  • [Strop] has yet to instill any confidence in anyone except the hitters.
  • Please sit down if you are standing, I want to say something nice about Len Kasper.
  • I leave town and the cubs loose 5 – what the hell were you guys doing while I was gone.
  • We always need an in-house dork. I had no idea they kept percentages on soft and hard. Why hasn’t Seymour commented on this yet?
  • Profuse apologies. I’ve been distracted. I only hope that Reed Johnson can forgive me.
  • Stand Pat.
  • Totally agree…the best move for the Cubs is probably going to be sitting this trade deadline out.
  • Not that the game was that long, but a 0-0 tie that goes into extra innings is hardly riveting for most people. And Matt Forte was on a recorded episode of Celebrity Family Feud, so we had things to get to, you know.
  • I come off of vacation and the cubs win 2. I’m just sayin.
  • Why are we talking about the Cardinals?
  • The Cubs need to hit, you can win against the Mets or Marlins with 1 or 2 runs but not the Cardinals, let’s get some runs.

Lizard

  • The Good: … Nobody was injured!

Shout Outs

  • Big shout outs to Sherm for his first 2015 Season Lizzie!!!! Thanks for being here!

MVL

  • Congratulations to Seymour, our Most Valuable Lizzie-er this time! Way to go Butts!

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
4. Jedi
5. Joe Aiello
6. jswanson
7. Dork
8. Doug S.
9. Katie
10. Buddy

Chit Chat

  • (I had to wrap things up a bit early this time around (Monday) but as usual I’ll pick up right where I left off so your gems won’t go to waste!) As you know, we’re approaching the All Star break. Usually I’m so done with the Cubs by this time of year I don’t mind it. Not so this year! I’ll miss having games to watch. And I’m not a big fan of the All Star festivities themselves. How about you? Will you take in the All Star game (et al) or will you fill your baseball time with a different endeavor during the break?
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5 Things Cubs Fans Need to Know for July 9th

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

1. We split the series

As frustrating as last night’s loss on the back of the blown save by Pedro Strop, we still pulled a series split with the Cardinals. Though it doesn’t do anything for us in terms of movement in the standings, it is good to see the Cubs get 2 wins out of 4 after the way things had been going against the Cardinals lately. And really, things were very, very close to seeing us get a win last night as well, if not for a pitch left a little too high against Jhonny Peralta. A day off today will be good for the team to rest and prepare for what is a pretty easy July schedule going forward. A weekend series against the hapless White Sox should do the Cubs some good.

I do want to comment specifically on one of the things that happened in the game. After the argument surrounding the fair/foul call on the Addison Russell single on Tuesday night, another close call controversy was not what this series needed, but we got it again last night. In the end, I’m sure the Cardinals and their fanbase will get over it because they ended up winning, but the ball 3 call when Miguel Montero was at the plate that allowed him to go on to knock in 3 runs to put the Cubs up 5-4 could have fueled another bout of outrage from them. It did, though prompt Yadier Molina to do something that, if he were on my team, I’d be absolutely furious over. As soon as the ball was in the air, Molina had his back to the play and was screaming at the umpire. He was totally ignoring the play on the field (including 3 runners crossing the plate) and screaming in the face of the umpire. Not that I think this merits any sort of punishment, of course, but it’s a great representation of why the idea of the Cardinals playing baseball “The Right Way” is a farce.

2. White Sox this weekend

The White Sox are wrapping up a 4 game series of their own this afternoon against the Blue Jays. 2015 has been a struggle for them, as they are sitting at 38-44 and at the bottom of the AL Central. I don’t follow the southsiders that closely, but I know this has been a disappointing season for them, as expectations were much higher. I even anticipated a more successful season for them, but it hasn’t come to fruition thus far. We do get some interesting pitching matchups, as we’ll face rookie Carlos Rodon tomorrow and then Saturday’s pitcher’s battle between Chris Sale and Jon Lester should be fun to watch. If not for facing Sale on Saturday, pulling a sweep this weekend wouldn’t seem out of reach for the Cubs at all and would be a great way to finish going into the All Star break. If you’re looking for a way to grab some tickets for this series, take a look at Front Row Tickets. They have a ton of tickets available, even for Chicago Cubs tickets, which are quickly becoming hard to get again, and that’s a good thing.

3. Rizzo and Bryant in HR Derby

I knew that Kris Bryant had expressed interest in participating in the homerun derby on Monday, but it was a bit of a surprise to see that both he and Anthony Rizzo plan to do it. In the bracket style derby this year, Bryant will face off against Albert Pujols and Rizzo goes up against Josh Donaldson. If Bryant wins, he gets either fellow rookie Joc Pederson or Manny Machado. Rizzo would get either Todd Frazier or past HR Derby champion Prince Fielder. I do think that either Bryant or Rizzo has a shot at winning the whole thing, though I wold be comfortable going on record as picking Fielder to win it all.

4. Minor League Update

Kyle Schwarber blasted another homerun for Iowa, bringing his season total to 16, and 2015 draftee Donnie Dewees went 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles for short season Eugene last night. Baseball America released their midseason top 50 rankings, and the Cubs have 3 in the top 30. Schwarber sits at number 6, Gleyber Torres is at 28, and outfielder Billy McKinney is at 30. You can see the whole list here.

5. Post All Star break trade market

After Sunday’s games wrap up and we head to the All Star break, I think next weekend will mark the beginning of movement on the trade market, both for the Cubs and across the league. Pitching still seems like a probable target, though Ben Zobrist has been a heavily rumored trade target for the Cubs as well. It is possible that they might pursue both a pitcher and a bat like Zobrist, and could afford to do both, depending on the prospects they are willing to part with, as that would likely headline a deal like that. David Kaplan tweeted that Crane Kenney has indicated that the resources are there to get what the Cubs need, so be on the lookout.


 

THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1969: Tom Seaver‘s near perfect game, which will be immortalized as “The Imperfect Game”, is broken up when Cubs’ outfielder Jimmy Qualls, a lifetime .223 hitter, singles into center field. The 24 year-old right-hander, who will take a no-hitter into the ninth inning three times for the Mets, will finally get his no-no in 1978 against St. Louis pitching for the Reds.

2002: Despite chants of ‘Let them play!’ from the sellout crowd of 41,871 at Milwaukee’s Miller Park, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig declares the 73rd All-Star Game a 7-7 tie after 11 innings. No player is selected to receive the first Ted Williams Most Valuable Player award, named in honor of the late Red Sox legend who died five days ago.

2005: On the first pitch of his only big league plate appearance, 24-year old Adam Greenberg, entering the game as a ninth-inning pinch-hitter for the Cubs, is struck in the back of the head by a 92-mph fastball thrown by Marlin hurler Valerio de los Santos. The Guilford High School (CT) standout, the first player in the history of the state to be named to four all-state teams, sustains a concussion and will experience positional vertigo as a result of the beaning.

 

 

 

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5 Things Cubs Fans Need to Know for July 8th

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015


1. The Cubs Swept the Doubleheader

I bet you didn’t see that one coming, especially after the loss on Monday. I went into the day with this sick feeling that the Cardinals were going to stick it to us again. It feels like they always do everything right and always win and I thought that was going to be the case on Tuesday. I was mentally preparing myself to write about two losses and the beginning of a potential slide. Instead, it was the Cardinals that played fairly sloppy baseball on the whole and the Cubs who would sweep the day. Overall it was nice to see the bats do what they needed to do and the pitching get the job done as well, but we’ll get into that more in a second. We now sit 7.5 games behind the Cards for the division lead and four games ahead in the race for the final wild card spot. Our current playoff odds according to Fan Graphs is 76.7%. It’s fun again, people. It’s fun to be a Cubs fan.

Now it’s time to take care of business and win this series tonight. It’s Michael Wacha against Jason Hammel.

2. Dallas Beeler Got the Start as the 26th Man

Awhile back, MLB instituted a policy that allows the roster to be expanded by one for one of the games of a double header. Yesterday, Beeler got the chance to be that guy. Some folks that were not paying attention last year (can you blame them?) might think that last night was Beeler’s Major League debut, but it was not. He came up last year and made two starts. He took the mound in game two with a little less pressure given the fact that Jake Arrieta had already helped the Cubs win game one, yet with the pressure of a national television audience on MLB Network. He pitched really well. He worked out of a jam or two and finished the day by working into the 6th inning before being pulled in favor of James Russell. In retrospect, he probably should have been done after five innings, seeing that he was over 80 pitches, but I see the case for leaving him out there as well. I thought he showed enough last year and this year to at least not make me nervous should he get another start sometime this year. He’s 26 years old, and was drafted in the 41st round of the draft, so he’s one of those guys that has probably out played his projections, but that’s OK. You need guys like that. He’s just not a guy I would pencil in as part of my rotation going forward.

3. Mike Matheny Wants Expanded Replay

I hate when people complain about umpires. If you’ve never done the job, you don’t realize how incredibly difficult the job is. Not only are you having to worry about putting yourself in the best possible position to make a call, but you’re having to be in communication and cooperation with the other men in blue and then still have to get the call right. Throw in the fact that they work all season long and never have a homestand like the players do, and it makes for a really difficult job. Matheny was whining after the game that the Addison Russell hit down the first base line in game two should have been ruled foul. It was a judgement call as the ump has to decide quickly if it crossed over first base in fair territory. It’s a tough call to make. I lose respect for people who blame umpires when they lose. If you don’t want to get beat on a bad call, put yourself in a position where the call that was made was not impactful on the result. The same goes for people who moan and cry when a team continues to steal bases with a lead. If you don’t like it, stop me.

I don’t want expanded replay. I’m fine with what is and isn’t reviewable as it currently stands. We can’t try to take initiatives to slow the game down even more just for the sake of getting a call even more accurate. The umps are pretty good at what they do and a little debate is what makes the game fun. The fact is that the game’s primary demographic continues to skew older and older. Any initiatives to make this game slower just means the spot is headed in the wrong direction and will slowly see it’s primary revenue source die off.

4. Rafael Soriano is Coming

On Monday, Soriano made his Tennessee Smokies debut and struck out the side after allowing a leadoff double. When he was signed, the bullpen appeared to be in shambles. Now, things have righted themselves nicely, but getting his arm in the mix can only help things. If we’re in this thing come September, we could see the Cubs shorten games like the Royals did last year with several really good names out of the pen. That takes the pressure off the rotation down the stretch and allows them to be ready for the playoffs. Notice that I am speaking as if we get past the one game wild card playoff and get into an actual series. The truth is, I don’t know what we’re going to get from Soriano, but at this point it can only be considered a good signing. If it doesn’t work, no harm no foul. If it works, much like Clayton Richard, it’s a huge boost as a result of a low risk signing.

5. Kyle Schwarber Needs To Come Up

I caught a lot of flack posting that on Twitter last night, but it’s true. Last night in AAA he had two doubles and a home run and is now hitting .358 through 15 games in Iowa. The fact is, the Cubs need a left-handed bat. Rather than going out and trying to trade for one, use the one you already have. At this point, you’re not going to stunt his growth. Let him get some time behind the plate here and there at the ML level and let him learn from Miguel Montero how to frame and how to handle a staff. His bat is ready. Don’t hold a kid that may not even end up as a catcher in the Major Leagues back because you want him to work on being a catcher. Call Schwarber up, put him in LF and let Chris Coghlan and Dexter Fowler platoon in CF. This is starting to get real this year and I’m hungry for playoff baseball. Let’s get more reinforcements up here.

BONUS NOTES

  • Tsuyoshi Wada made a rehab start on Monday for Tennessee
  • The submarine dude, Ben Rowen, that the Cubs signed recently got into the game last night in Iowa and pitched a hitless 9th inning for the Iowa Cubs
  • The Rockies have claimed Gonzalez Germen off waivers from the Cubs. Germen was DFA’d and placed on waivers earlier.
  • The Cubs have three members of the Baseball America Top 50 list that comes out mid-year. On the list are Schwarber (6th), Gleyber Torres (28th), and Billy McKinney (30th)

THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1912 – At Chicago’s West Side Grounds, Giants southpaw Rube Marquard‘s consecutive winning streak is stopped at 19 when the Cubs defeat New York, 7-2. The future Hall of Famer will finish the season with a league-leading 26 victories for the eventual NL champs.

1969 – At Shea Stadium, Don Young is roundly criticized by Cubs’ teammate Ron Santo for his two misplays in center field that help the Mets score three ninth-inning runs, resulting in a 4-3 walk-off victory and cutting Chicago’s division lead to four-games over the surging New York team. The emotional third baseman will apologize for his remarks tomorrow, but will be soundly booed by the hometown fans in his first game back at Wrigley Field.

1976Randy Jones posts the most victories at the All-Star break in National League history, winning his 16th game of the season in the Padres’ 6-3 defeat of the Cubs at Wrigley Field. In the second half of the season, the 26-year old southpaw’s good fortune runs out when he will lose seven games by a run, including two 1–0 loses.

2008 – The Cubs bolster their pitching staff, obtaining starter Rich Harden and reliever Chad Gaudin from the A’s in exchange for right-hander Sean Gallagher, second baseman/outfielder Eric Patterson, outfielder Matt Murton, and minor league backstop prospect Josh Donaldson. Chicago’s dealing may be in anticipation of the trade rumors of the Brewers getting Indians’ ace, C.C. Sabathia.

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5 Things for Cubs Fans to Know for July 7

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

1. Lester got his first hit

So we can finally stop talking about it, and by “we” I mean ESPN anchors, but Jon Lester recorded his first major league hit last night against the Cardinals. It was a very slow roller to the shortstop, but it did the job to get Lester to first base safely and end the madness for good. This brings Lester’s average on the season to .031 on the season. I will resist the urge to make a Koyie Hill joke at this time. It’s just a shame that the Cubs offense decided to take the night off last night, and spoil Lester’s beautiful pitching performance.

2. Rizzo and Bryant are All Stars

We don’t have any Cubs player on the starting roster, but both Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant made the reserves list, which is pretty cool to see, especially for Bryant. Bryant and his chief competition for NL Rookie of the Year, Joc Pederson, both made the All Star bench, and there has been some speculation that Bryant might or should take part in the homerun derby. For as much as I like the homerun derby, I’d be fine with him not doing it. Let him take that night off rather than create the possibility that he might create problems at the plate for himself in the second half of the season.

3. No love for Arrieta?

I was a little surprised that Jake Arrieta did not make the National League roster and is not even a part of the final vote to get on the roster. I think the season he’s having so far deserves that recognition (2.80 ERA, 110 strikeouts in 106 innings, and a WHIP of 1.028), but I can live with the fact that he won’t be a part of the All Star game because it means he won’t be pitching any meaningless innings in July, when (hopefully) we’ll need him pitching in October.

4. Soler is back

Jorge Soler returned from the disabled list on Sunday and was immediately in the lineup against the Marlins for the series finale that afternoon. He was in right field last night against the Cardinals and went 2 for 3 at the plate. To make room, Matt Szczur was sent down to AAA Iowa. Hopefully this will be the only DL trip that Soler makes this year, because I suspect that warmer weather will be good for his bat, and our offense is in need of a little spark going into the heart of the season. The schedule for the month of July (barring St. Louis) looks pretty Cubs-friendly, but they need to score more than they have been lately.

5. We still aren’t beating the Cardinals

I can usually stay relatively objective about a Cubs game when they are playing any team in the league, other than the Cardinals. I have a little trouble with the Dodgers because of 2008, and I just don’t get worked up over the supposed cross-town rivalry (White Sox fans tend to be plenty obnoxious with or without those games), but it has become genuinely difficult to even watch when the Cubs play the Cardinals. We have beaten them just twice so far this season, but I am holding out hope that today’s doubleheader offers an opportunity to get at least one win. In the standings, we are 9.5 games back from them, and catching up seems pretty unlikely, but I have a feeling that if the Cubs do get a Wild Card spot, then the stars will align against them in such a way that our first opponent will be that team from Missouri.


 

THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1936: The Senior Circuit wins its first All-Star game, edging the American League at Braves Field in Boston, 4-3. The Junior Circuit had taken the first three contests of the Mid-Summer Classic.

1971: Commissioner Kuhn and Hall of Fame president Paul Kirk announce former Negro League players will have full membership in the Cooperstown shrine, not a separate wing as previously planned.

2011: The Cubs come back from an 8-0 deficit and beat the Nationals in Washington, 10-9. It is the largest blown lead in franchise history for the Nats, including their tenure in Montreal as the Expos.

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Looking Back at Week 12 of MLB

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Washington loses a significant starter, the rich get richer in International Free Agency and heads roll in the Cardinals’ hacking investigation. The Cubs won five of seven this week, and we have a lot to be excited about, so let’s recap:

Strasburg Back to Disabled List

A day after leaving his start against the San Francisco Giants with tightness in his side, Nationals’ starter Stephen Strasburg has officially landed on the disabled list with a strained oblique. 2015 has been a struggle for Strasburg on several fronts. He recently dealt with a neck injury, and had only made two full starts before his recent oblique strain. He hasn’t been nearly as effective as he is capable of this season, posting a 5.16 earned run average. The Nationals have an unprecedented amount of front line pitching, including ace Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez, so Strasburg’s injury likely won’t be crippling to the Nationals in the near future. Washington will turn to Triple A pitcher Taylor Jordan in the interim.

IFA Signings Highlight Week

Thursday kicked off the International Free Agent signing period, with the Giants and Blue Jays picking up two of the biggest names available. The Giants acquired 18-year-old shortstop Lucius Fox, and gave him the largest top-non Cuban amateur signing bonus of all time, according to Baseball America. The Jays have signed Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to a $3.9 million deal, as well. The 16-year-old outfielder is the son of former All Star Vladimir Guerrero, and is considered to have massive potential at the plate. Guerrero Jr. came into International Free Agency ranked as a top five prospect, almost exclusively because of what scouts believe his bat can do at the next level. The Cubs top signee, Aramis Ademan, is regarded as one of the top defensive players in the class.

Saint Louis Hackers

Former Saint Louis Cardinals’ Scouting Director Chris Correa was removed from his position earlier this week in conjunction with the ongoing investigation regarding hacking into the Houston Astros’ private files. According to Hardballtalk, Correa has admitted to hacking into the Astros’ system, though claimed that he was only hacking into the system to see what information was stolen from the Cardinals by former employees. Saint Louis promoted Correa promoted to the position of Scouting Director very and his almost immediate dismissal was surprising to say the least. Time will tell if Correa acted alone, or whether this was a team effort, but the investigation is far from over.

Rookie Watch

A lesser-known quantity coming into this season, Oakland Athletics rookie center fielder has taken the league by storm. The switch hitter has hit .320 through his first 240 at bats, with a .358 on base percentage and 17 stolen bases. The Athletics are eight games below .500 and bringing up the bottom of the American League West, not surprising considering the transactions that the front office made in the offseason. A former 32nd round pick, Burns has been a bright spot in a season where there have been few bright spots. Burns leads all rookies in hits with 77, and is 20 ahead of the second place in the American League. His 17 steals lead all rookies, as well. On the National League side of things, Joc Pederson still leads all rookies with 17 home runs, five ahead of Tampa Bay’s Steven Souza and eight ahead of Kris Bryant. The Cubs’ third baseman leads all rookies in on base percentage, and likely helped his Rookie of the year stock with his two home run game on Saturday against Miami.

Cubs Dominate Week, Win Five

Cubs position players might not be putting crooked numbers on the scoreboard, but that isn’t stopping the team from putting up W’s. A five win week, including series wins over the Mets and Marlins, has the Cubs 8.5 games out of first in the National League Central, but three games up in the race for the final wildcard spot. The Cubs have a four game series coming up against the Cardinals, which will begin at Wrigley this evening. The Cubs are 5-5 over their previous 10 games, while the Cardinals are 6-4. The Cubs will end the first half of the season with a three game home set against their cross-town rival White Sox. Momentum heading into the All Star break could be key to a positive start to the second half. Chicago does not have any leaders in All Star voting, and it is anyone’s guess whom the team’s representative will be.


MVP of the Week: Ryan Braun takes this week hardware, after helping the Brewers to nine wins in their last 10 games. Braun totaled 14 hits over his last seven games, including four home runs and eight runs batted in. Even with their recent surge, the Brewers still sit 10 games behind the Cubs, and 18.5 behind the Cardinals for the division lead.

Cy Young of the Week: Dodgers’ pitcher Zack Greinke threw 14 scoreless innings this week en route to two quality starts. His 1.48 ERA is the best in baseball, .34 points better than Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer.

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5 Things Cubs Fans Need To Know for July 6, 2015

Monday, July 6th, 2015

1. It’s Rivalry Week

This week the Cubs play not only the Cardinals, but also the White Sox. I think we may see CAPS’ head explode if at weeks end the Cubs have played poorly. The first series against the Cardinals is a big one, in my mind. It’s a four game set due to a rainout earlier in the year and it’s at home. The Cubs will have Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel all taking the mound in the series and the Cubs are playing well of late. If we’re going to show we belong in the mix of an upper level team, we need to make a better statement this week than we did the last few times we’ve faced the Cardinals this year. It reminds me a lot of Rocky versus the Russian in Rocky 4. He looked like an unbeatable force until he was cut. If we can cut the Cardinals, we can show they bleed and know they’re beatable. It would be awesome for us to come out on national television tonight with Lester on the mound and just embarrass the Cards. I’m talking something like a 9-1 beatdown that was decided basically in the first three innings. Show they can be beaten and I think we’ll see this team relax and show they belong in the conversation when it comes to the playoffs.

As far as the series with the White Sox goes, to me it’s more of a novelty. Of late, I’ve not watched the series much because both teams have been so bad. It’s been a battle of who could care less, but this year the Cubs have something to play for. I guess, in a way, the White Sox do too, seeing that they are just 5.5 games out of the wild card, but realistically it’s a lost year for them. When the dust settles as we head into the All Star Break, I want to see at least a 4-3 record for the week and hopefully 5+ wins.

2. A Really Nice Trip Through the Rotation

Yesterday, Kyle Hendricks finished out this time through the starting five with a nice outing. For him, it was coming off of a much needed good outing the start before and hopefully it’s the start of him relaxing and settling in, but it was also the cap to a very nice week of starting pitching for the Cubs.

Jon Lester – 7 IP, 0 R
Jake Arrieta – 8 IP, 1 R
Jason Hammel – 7 IP, 2 R
Clayton Richard – 6.1 IP, 2 R
Kyle Hendricks – 7.1 IP, 0 R

I don’t think you could ask for anything more. Now the key is to make it happen against teams whose offense in not struggling.

3. Jason Motte May Be Inching Toward Being the Closer

Joe Maddon has said he’s not anointing anyone in particular as the closer, but it sure seems like the role is shifting to Motte, who picked up save number 4 on Sunday and looked good doing it. Personally, I’d vote for Motte over anyone else the Cubs have, because he’s shown he can do it and do it well. His fastball is really good right now and he seems just quirky enough that he’s a good fit for the role.

4. Lots of Transactional News

If you didn’t know, the international free agent period is open. The Cubs traded for slot money recently and they’ve begun using it. Our friends over at Chicago Cubs Online has more on the story from this weekend.

According to reports from Jesse Sanchez, the Cubs have agreed to sign six International free agents. The Cubs have agreed to terms with the following players: SS Yonathan Perlaza – $1.3 million; OF Yonathan Sierra Estiwal – $2.5 million; SS Aramis Ademan – $2 million; C Miguel Amaya – $1.25 million; RHP Yunior Perez – $600,000; 3B Christopher Martinez – $1 million.

MLB.com Prospect Rankings:  SS Yonathan Perlaza (13), OF Yonathan Sierra Estiwal (16), SS Aramis Ademan (19), C Miguel Amaya (25), 3BChristopher Martinez (28) (Source)

It’s a little outdated since the news came down over the weekend, but I’ve not seen anything else about any further signings at this point.

Also signed was a minor league deal with right hander, Ben Rowen. He’s a submarine style reliever that induces a lot of ground balls and has a really good track record in the minors. It’s one of those lottery tickets that, if it helps even a little, will be worth the deal. Tuck him away in your mental hard drive.

5. Updates to the Rumor Mill

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports wrote that the Cubs shopping list for the deadline is: A starting pitcher, preferrably one that can be kept beyond this season, and a left-handed outfielder. The outfield bat would allow the Cubs to rest Dexter Fowler against some of the tougher righties they face, as Fowler has basically sucked this year from the left side of the plate. That always makes me wonder why guys just don’t stop switch hitting as they get older. Names mentioned as possibilities are: Gerardo Parra and Will Venable.


THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1930 – Bill Veeck Sr’s very popular Ladies Day promotion at Wrigley Field reaches new heights when more than 30,000 female fans attend the Cubs’ doubleheader against Cincinnati. An over-capacity crowd packs the small ballpark with thousands of others, including late-arriving regular paying patrons, unable to gain admission into the North Side ballpark.

1949 – At Crosley Field, Walker Cooper goes 6-for-7, including three home runs and three singles, five runs scored and ten RBIs, to power the Reds over the Cubs, 23-4.

1970Ron Santo drives in ten runs, helping the Cubs sweep a doubleheader against Montreal at Wrigley Field. The third baseman’s two-run homer in the opener gives the team a 3-2 victory, and his eight RBIs, that includes another two round-trippers, contribute to the club’s 14-2 rout in the nightcap.

1992 – Using his ‘in the best interest of baseball’ power, commissioner Fay Vincent mandates the National League be realigned next season, forcing teams to be more geographically correct in their respective divisions. The realignment, which was approved by the 12 of the 14 NL owners in March, but blocked by Tribune Co., owner of the Chicago franchise, will send the Cubs and the Cardinals to the West Division with the Braves and Reds moving to the East.

2001 – Playing in the 101st different park since 1876, the Cubs beat the Tigers in Comerica Park, 15-8. The Cubs win for the first time in Detroit in 56 years dating back to Game 3 of the 1945 World Series when Claude Passeau threw a 3-0 shutout in Briggs Stadium.

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5 Things for Cubs Fans to Know – July 5, 2015

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

1. Cubs Traded For Clayton Richard

This was a pleasant surprise for me to see when I woke up Saturday morning. There was a little more to the trade than the fact that Pittsburgh just didn’t want him anymore. Obviously you wouldn’t deal a guy in the division to a team just barely trailing you in the standings if there wasn’t more to it than that. Richard has been rehabbing from an injury and trying to make a comeback. He signed a minor league deal this off-season with the Pirates, and that contact had some verbiage to it that caused the trade.

Nathan Baird has more:

Earlier this week, an “upward mobility clause” in Richard’s contract went into effect. The Pirates had to make Richard available to the other 29 MLB teams for a 72-hour window. If any team agreed to put Richard on a big league roster, the Pirates either had to promote Richard or deal him to the interested team. (Source)

Since the Cubs were interested in acquiring a starting pitcher for the back end of the rotation, Richard becomes a Cub. Coincidentally, he made his Cubs debut yesterday, becoming the 2,000th player to play for the Cubs in their history and pitched wonderfully.

I like the move for two reasons. First, we’ve seen that this front office has a knack for acquiring starting pitchers below value and getting much more out of them. Perhaps it’s good scouting, perhaps it’s working with Chris Bosio or a combination of both, but something has allowed this team to find pitchers on the scrap heap and get things out of them. Second, we’ve seen the ability for Theo and Jed to cherry pick from their former organizations and acquire guys they believe in. Richard fits that bill as he was in San Diego when Jed was there.

2. Kris Bryant Making His Case For the All Star Game

I think this Cubs team has been teetering on the edge of having anywhere from one to four representatives in the All Star game and yesterday Bryant showed why he may deserve a nod. If you missed the game, Bryant went deep twice, including one no doubter in which the left fielding didn’t even turn and give it a courtesy jog and then a grand slam. It’s exciting to see what he is becoming. When all is said and done, I think he’s going to make a legit case for the rookie of the year, but in the meantime, I think he deserves to be on the All Star team. I don’t think he’ll get the bid, considering Todd Frazier is going to win the vote and the game is in Cincinnati and Nolan Arenado is just a beast at the plate and in the field, but it would be nice to see Bryant there and see him in the HR Derby.

3. David Ross Hurt His Head

Ross was placed on the 7 day DL for concussions retroactive back to Thursday after taking a foul ball off the mask on Wednesday. Ross has battled concussions in the past and is making his third trip to the DL related to them. When you’re 38 years old, I don’t see a point rushing back from something like that, so I anticipate him being on the DL longer than 7 days. Most likely when the time is up, he’ll be placed on the 15 day DL and Taylor Teagarden will remain with the team until the Cubs feel like it’s time for Kyle Schwarber to be recalled. We know it’s just a matter of time and that Ross’s role on this team are nearing an end, so I don’t see a reason for him to even consider rushing back.

4. Jorge Soler To the Rescue

He’s been out since June 3rd with a sprained ankle, and is scheduled to return to the team for Sunday’s series finale with the Marlins. It will be a welcomed return as hopefully he can put a charge into some baseballs and provide some much needed power in the middle of the lineup as this offense has been sputtering of late. He made four rehab appearances for the Iowa Cubs and went 2-for-13 in that time. It’s a small sample size. I think we’re going to see a nice return from Jorge and I would even go on record and predicting a home run today.

5. More Pitching On the Way?

There has been a lot of talk about how this team is ahead of schedule and how they should go out and make a few major moves before the deadline to make this team a legitimate contender down the stretch. Theo has recently discussed the deadline and cautioned fans that they may not make any splashy moves before the deadline, saying “if you look at the history of teams that go on and play in the World Series, very rarely is it (because of a) deadline deal.  We know what we’d like to do, but we’re realistic about what we might be able to do.”

I do think the Cubs will do something, but if you’re expecting a deal for Cole Hamels or something like that, I think you’ll be disappointed. The next few starts for Richard will be very important. If the Cubs have found a gem in a garbage can, it takes the pressure off to trade prospects for a big arm when names are available in the free agent market this off-season. One name I do see the Cubs potentially having interest in is today’s starting pitcher for the Marlins, Mat Latos. He’s struggled this year, but has been good up until then. As a result, the price shouldn’t be as high. He came from San Diego, so there are Hoyer ties there, and the timing should be right.


THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1937 – In the first game of a doubleheader, Frank Demaree goes 6-for-7 (three doubles and three singles), helping the Cubs edge the Cardinals, 13-12, in 14 innings. The Californian adds two more singles in Chicago’s 9-7 victory in the nightcap.

1966 – Three seasons after trading future Hall of Famer Lou Brock to the Cardinals for right-hander Ernie Broglio, the Cubs send the beleaguered pitcher to their Pacific Coast League farm team in Tacoma (WA), where he will never be called to the major leagues again. During his dismal tenure with Chicago, the former 20-game winner compiled a woeful 7-19 record and an ERA of 5.40.

1998 – Defeating the Orioles 1-0, the Yankees improve their record to 61-20, equaling the best 81-game start in major league history. The mark matches the record of the 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates and the 1907 Chicago Cubs.

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Yes…but you live in St. Louis

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

…this has been my standard response to any Cubs/Cardinals guff I recieve.  This retort may upset Missouri Cubs’ fans (not bloody likely that there is any), nonetheless I am happy I’ve lived my life in the Chicagoland area…and not St. Louis.  I’d rather never win a World Series than to trade geographical locations.  St. Louis is a fine city; it’s just not Chicago. However the Cardinals are a great organization…and I have a confession to make; I didn’t always “hate” them.

I grew up in a time where there was a great distinction between the American and National Leagues.  The idea of inter-league play would have been blasphemous during my childhood…and the players actually tried in the All-Star game. (Without meaningless home field gimmicks)Therefore when World Series time rolled around (always with the Cubs nowhere in sight) I always rooted for the National League team.  This was a practice I repeated well into my early 20’s until it didn’t matter as much to me.

Therefore in October in 1977-78 I was a huge Dodger fan.  I was singing “We Are Family” with the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates…a World Series that also secured my first win of a wager with a childhood chum.  I rooted for the Phillies in 1980, even though I couldn’t stand (and still can’t) Pete Rose…and the Dodgers were my choice again (Fernando!) in 1981.

…and yes I rooted for the Cardinals in 1982, 1985 and 1987.  I sat out 1984…sigh.

I hate to admit it…but I actually liked those Cardinals teams.  I was a fan of their manager Whitey Herzog…the “White Rat”.  Herzog played the prototypical brand of National League baseball at the time…based on speed, speed, and a little more speed on top of that.  The Cards of the 80s’ usually had one power hitter at first base…George Hendrick, Jack Clark…but the rest of their line-up was filled with guys that could steal 20 plus bases every year.  Players like Lonnie Smith, Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, a young and thin Terry Pendleton, Tommy Herr, and Vince Coleman.

A little side story about Vince Coleman…

Vince Coleman was brought in this spring to work with the Chicago White Sox on base-running.  This made me chuckle as I saw Vince Coleman do something on a baseball field that I have only seen twice…once by one of my freshman baseball teammates, and once by Vince.  Vince was on second base and there was a ball hit to the outfield alley.  As Vince sped around third base the ball was unexpectedly (at least by Vince) caught by the left fielder.  Instead of retracing his route and retouching third base, Vince cut through the middle of the infield, ran over the pitcher’s mound, and slid back into second base. Seeing this big leaguer run through the middle of the infield was one of the funniest damn things I have ever seen on a baseball field.  He is now a base-running coach.

Along with the team speed, Whitey always had the Cards equipped with solid starting pitching (Joaquin Andujar, John Tudor) and a closer.  A real closer…a guy that would come in and pitch 2-3 innings, not this 1 inning baloney of today! A closer like former-Cub Bruce Sutter, who helped them defeat the Brewers 4 games to 3 in 1982.  The Cards lost in both 1985(bad call at first base) and 1987…but yes, this die-hard Cubs’ fan was rooting for them all three times.  Yet the late 1980’s and early 1990’s would see my feelings about the Cardinals change dramatically.

In the fall of 1986 I began attending Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois…which is about 90 miles south of where I am currently sitting. (About 40 miles southwest of the city of Chicago)  Prior to my college enrollment, I had spent most my baseball fandom engaging in verbal spats with White Sox fans.  The Cubs/White Sox arguments are inevitable in a two baseball city like Chicago.  Upon arriving in Normal, I found that it was also a “two-team” town-the Cubs and the Cardinals. I was shocked!  It was my first experience with Cardinals’ fans in mass…I was amazed at the number of Cardinals fans in Illinois…it was a whole new world. (At least it was a world with very few White Sox fans)

At least during my tenure In Normal I only had to endure one Cardinal’s World Series appearance…and I got a bit of payback in 1989!  The Cubs and Cardinals were in direct competition that September and the Cubs won the division! My buddies and I shouted out our apartment window “The Cubs are division champs!” We pounced on this rare opportunity to gloat during this “rivalry”. (I put rivalry in quotes because I really don’t consider it a rivalry when one side usually wins…sorry, this may upset many of you…this is just my semantic view of the term rivalry)

During the decade of the 1990’s my distaste for our “rivals” was enhanced by one man-Tony LaRussa. I have never been a LaRussa fan (I think it’s the dark glasses). He may indeed be an outstanding manager, but I have two major problems with Captain Blue-blocker. (You may be too young to remember the cheesy commercials for Blue-blocker sunglasses) If you read my book you know I attribute much of LaRussa’s success to his pitching coach Dave Duncan. In Oakland and St. Louis Duncan was consistently able to take reclamation projects (Dave Stewart, Bob Welch, Woody Williams, Bob Tewksbury, etc.) and make them successful. My other problem with LaRussa is that he had a pretty consistent history of having “enhanced” hitters. I am sure that Tony had absolutely no idea any of his hitters could possibly be breaking the rules. (Where is that sarcasm font?)

Now in the post LaRussa era…my anger has shifted more to the attitude of the fans.  They really do think they are smarter than us…or at least smarter fans.  I swear some of them wear their Cardinals gear like it’s a Harvard diploma. If arrogance left a smell, those red StL caps would be drenched in it. I consider myself a fairly evolved human, and I embarrassed to admit that my feelings have regressed in this area.  Maybe it was the video I saw last fall of the “greatest fans in baseball” taunting the Ferguson protestors with racist comments.  I know that was a small segment of fans, and I am sure most Cardinal fans are not racist…but most Cubs’ fans are not unknowledgeable beer-swilling baseball novices-yet we get labeled that by the “greatest fans in baseball”.

Thirty years later I choose my World Series team based on a variety of factors-players I like, the cities in general, managers…long gone is my blind allegiance to the National League.  I could only see myself rooting for the Cardinals again if they are playing ISIS or a team full of Nazi’s.  I think I would root for a Russian team instead of the Cardinals.  I like and respect the Packers more than the Cardinals!  Nevertheless I will give them their due, right now they are a superior baseball team. They continue to win no matter what…constantly plugging guys in to a machine that just keeps on winning. The Cardinals truly are one of the elite franchises in all of baseball, and their fans have had much more baseball joy than us.

…but we don’t live in St. Louis.

Notice I did not make any jokes about the ongoing FBI investigation…please feel free to insert your own in the comments section.

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Yesterday’s News: It was worth every minute

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

UNDERWOOD MRI RESULTS

Top minor league pitching prospect Duane Underwood needed to have an MRI on Tuesday because of discomfort in his right pitching elbow. Underwood is currently in Myrtle Beach with the high a Pelicans and is rated as the Cubs 10th best prospect, so a possible elbow injury that could  be serious enough to sideline him for a year or more because of Tommy John surgery is pretty scary. Shutting him down for the season was also a possibility, but after MRI results came back yesterday revealing swelling, but no structural damage, the Cubs announced that they do not plan to shut him down at this point, which is a relief. He’ll get some rest before he starts throwing again, as his last start with Myrtle Beach was on Saturday. I was glad to see yesterday that he doesn’t, at least for now, look like he’ll need extended time off or Tommy John surgery, and hopefully they have caught the problem before it could have developed into something much worse.

MANNY’S ROLE, MOTTE IS THE CLOSER?

I still scratch my head a bit at the fact that Manny Ramirez has the role with the team that he does. Not because I disagree with it, but because I never, ever would have seen it coming during his playing days. Apparently though, he’s been nothing but good for the team, and particularly for Starlin Castro. I have also heard that his work with Javier Baez has been especially important as well. Ramirez was one of the game’s best hitters in his day, so I can’t complain about him spending time with guys like Castro and Baez and helping them at the plate.

Speaking of roles on the team that have turned out differently than I would have expected, Jason Motte is the closer. At least for now. Motte has the pedigree for that role, but when Hector Rondon showed some struggles, I would have guessed that it would be Pedro Strop who would take that role. Motte hasn’t officially been named the closer, but Joe Maddon has said that he likes him in that spot, so he might get the title at some point.

GAME NOTES

If you watched the whole series opener in New York against the Mets last night, than kudos to you. In spite of my wife’s objections, we stuck it out through the end. Not that the game was that long, but a 0-0 tie that goes into extra innings is hardly riveting for most people. And Matt Forte was on a recorded episode of Celebrity Family Feud, so we had things to get to, you know. But, even without large quantities of runs being scored, it was a relief to see Jon Lester pitch as well as he did. So far, Lester has not quite been what I had hoped for, but I am happy to grant him a little grace for a while. Switching to a new team and a new league is a huge adjustment, and he’s been mostly good.

In the 11th, Castro ended up being the hero, as he drove in Anthony Rizzo for the game’s first run. Miguel Montero tacked on an insurance run just after that, sending Chris Coghlan in to score. From there, Justin Grimm took care of getting the save in the bottom of the 11th, as Motte had already been used in the 9th.

This afternoon, the Cubs will send Jake Arrieta against Jacob deGrom for the series finale.


THIS DAY IN CUBS HISTORY

www.NationalPastime.com

1934: At Wrigley Field, veteran ump Bill Klem’s delayed call of the infield fly rule leads the Cardinals to protest their game with the Cubs. The game is suspended with two out in the bottom of the seventh inning with the Cubs ahead 5-1, and will be completed on the last day of the month with St. Louis losing with the final score of 7-4.

1967: After Chicago’s 4-1 victory over Cincinnati at Wrigley Field, many of the 40,464 patrons stay in the ballpark awaiting the outcome of the Cards/Mets game. When the results are posted with a New York win, which puts the Cubs in first place by half of a game, the enthusiastic fans refuse to leave the ‘Friendly Confines’ until the flags above the scoreboard are changed, a task usually done the next day, to reflect the home team’s position at the top of the standings.

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