Archive | March, 2015

Bryant to Start Season in Triple-A as Expected

Posted on 30 March 2015 by Bob

The Chicago Cubs made it official today trimming Kris Bryant and Javy Baez from the Major League roster and sending the pair to Triple-A Iowa as well as moving Addison Russell to minor league camp. Although the Baez move is intriguing given his call up late last year to the majors, these moves should surprise no one. It has been a foregone conclusion from day one that no matter what Bryant did he would be starting the season in Iowa. This is a service time issue and the Cubs weren’t going to trade 2 weeks of Bryant now for 6 months in 2021. Ask any reasonable Cubs fan and I guarantee you this move neither shocks nor offends them. Those columnists feigning outrage over the alleged disservice the Cubs are doing to their fans are simply sensationalizing a pretty cut and dry line of reasoning in the pursuit of controversial, eye-grabbing headlines.

Bryant

Yes, Bryant is one of the Cubs’ 25 best players and yes, he had the best spring of arguably anyone in baseball but I’d rather see Bryant in Cubbie Blue in 2021 than a few weeks earlier than I already will this year. I think even deep down that Bryant might be OK with this move. It gives him time to get in a good groove, demolishing minor league-early season pitching and then ascending at the right time to his spot in the Major League lineup potentially missing the hype-filled debut and subsequent lump-taking which befalls so many young rookies making the leap into the League (or at the very least minimizing those lumps).

Of course Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, will tell you otherwise and the talking heads will tell you that the Cubs are only hurting themselves but the fact is that those in favor of his inclusion in the Opening Day lineup are either in it for the money or they simply cannot wait any longer to see what the hype is about and actually have some copy that doesn’t contain the words: “Kris Bryant” and “Cubs prospect” in the same sentence.  They will get their wish soon enough and something tells me that come July all this will all be an after-thought.

As for Baez, it’s pretty clear that for all his power and promise he won’t be doing anyone any good with all those strikeouts. It’s best to have him work out those issues in Triple A for a bit instead of attempting to break the strikeout record with a full year in the majors. He needs more time, as does Russell. The Cubs aren’t going to change their system no matter how extraordinary the talent surging up their ranks has proven to be.

Cubs fans should rejoice.  A new season is upon us with some actual reasons to cheer.  Next year is almost here and it’s an important one.

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Hammel Out-Dueling Samardzija as Cubs Host Sox

Posted on 27 March 2015 by Lou

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The Cubs are hosting their cross-town rival White Sox at Sloan Park this afternoon.  Former Cubs Jeff Samardzija is facing his former Cubs team for the 1st time since being traded to the Oakland A’s in July 2014.  Ironically, he is squaring off against Jason Hammel who was also sent to the A’s with Samardzija in that July trade.

Fortunately for the Cubs, Hammel is out-dueling the White Sox opening day starter through 4 innings.  The Cubs have a 4-0 lead.  Hammel has given up just 3 hits in his 4 innings of work.

The Cubs got to Samardzija right away in the 1st inning.  Dexter Fowler led off the inning with a single.  One batter later, he came around to score on Jorge Soler’s 2-run home run.  That put the Cubs up 2-0.  In the bottom of the 4th, Starlin Castro touched Samardzija for a solo home run.

After losing 2 straight, it would be nice for the Cubs to muster a win against the Sox.  After a lot of cuts this week, the Cubs roster is starting to take shape.  Manager Joe Maddon will also start managing games the full 9 innings pretty soon, especially during the last week of spring training.  Getting on a nice role these last 7-8 games should go a long way in giving the Cubs confidence heading into the home opener against the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field on April 5th.

Go Cubs Go!

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Bryant To Play Left Field Today As Cubs Tinker With the Pieces of the Puzzle

Posted on 26 March 2015 by Bob

Cubs prospect Kris Bryant is set to play left field today as the Cubs take on the LA Angels marking the first time Bryant has played anywhere but third base since turning professional. While some might be hesitant to change positions, especially moving from infield to outfield, it sounds as though Bryant is open to whatever it takes to not only see the field but also put the Cubs in the best position to succeed.

Kris Bryant

“Talking to Kris on a one-on-one level he really wants the chance to play out there, which I kind of somewhat like,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He actually wanted to. That makes it easier.” Easier indeed, as the Cubs face a logjam of infield talent with only three open spots and double the candidates to fill them.

It is assumed in most knowledgeable circles that Bryant, when called up, will start the season at third base but could see time in the outfield as the Cubs tinker with where to put all this talent on the rise. With guys like Javy Baez, Starlin Castro, Arismendy Alcantara, Addison Russell, and Mike Olt the Cubs will have a plethora of combinations to try out in hopes of putting the most successful unit on the field. Flexibility will be key, as Alcantara has already shown, in maximizing output and avoiding redundancies.

Of course with the way Bryant swings the bat, leading all hitters with nine home runs and 15 RBIs in just 28 at-bats, the Cubs will be just fine with wherever he plays. Opening day is just over a week away. Then begins the real countdown to see just what Kris Bryant can do.

 

 

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Lester “Dead Arm” Has Cubs On Cautious Track With Ace

Posted on 24 March 2015 by Lou

Jon Lester

While there is no long-term concern for Jon Lester’s “dead arm” causing major issues throughout the 2015 MLB season, the Cubs are taking a cautious approach with their well-paid ace.

Lester missed his scheduled start last Saturday, but is still on track to pitch the Cubs home opener against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 5th.  Lester had a good bullpen session yesterday, but the Cubs have already said that he will be limited to only 60 pitches in his next start on Thursday.  He will have one more tune-up start next Tuesday where he will be limited to 80 pitches.  Assuming all goes well during these final 2 spring starts, Lester should be all ready to go against the Cards.  But don’t expect him to throw more than 90-100 pitches in the home opener.

Joe Maddon doesn’t seem concerned: “I’m not concerned who he pitches against.  He just needs somebody standing up there so he gets the requisite number of pitches thrown. If he says he feels good, then I feel good.”  Lester will go against other minor league teams during the final 2 starts so the Cubs can control the environment in which he pitches.  During a minor league game in spring training, the teams can agree to end an inning whenever they want.  So when Lester reaches his 60-pitch limit, the teams will agree to just end the inning at that point in the game.

As for Lester, he acknowledges that he has dealt with similar “dead arm” issues in the past and he is confident he will be ready to go come April 5th.  “Everything is fine.  At the time it felt like the right thing to do. There is no reason to push yourself.”

Let’s hope he is right…

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Hammel Sharp, But Cubs Lose 6-1 to Padres

Posted on 23 March 2015 by Lou

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The Cubs have started to play a lot better over the last week and a half, but Sunday was not meant to be.  Jason Hammel had his best spring outing – 9 strikeouts in 5 scoreless innings allowing just 3 hits.  But it was not enough — as Padres’ starter James Shields stymied the Cubs with 5 hitless innings.

Despite the loss, the Cubs have won 7 out of 10 and have been competitive in just about every game during this 2 week stretch.  They now sit in the middle of the Cactus League standings with a 9-11 record.

The Cubs have an off-day today, before squaring off against the Oakland A’s on Tuesday afternoon.  Edwin Jackson will get a chance to prove to Manager Joe Maddon that he deserves a spot in the rotation.  Right now, Travis Wood appears to be the front-runner for that spot, but anything can happen during the last 10 days of spring ball.  We may also see top prospect Kris Bryant in left field at some point during the contest.

We’ll keep you posted if anything else develops.

Go Cubs Go!

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Cubs-Cards Opening Day Free Tickets Giveaway – Courtesy of TicketChest.com

Posted on 16 March 2015 by Lou

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We are pleased to announce our first big ticket giveaway for the 2015 Chicago Cubs season at Wrigley Field.  And this is a good one.

Tickets to the Cubs home opener against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday April 5th at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field are already sold out.  That’s not surprising, given it will be Jon Lester’s first start in a Cubs uniform at Wrigley Field in front of the excited and anxious home crowd.  Make it an ESPN Sunday Night baseball game against your hated-rival Cardinals, and it is a match-up you don’t want to miss.

Luckily, our exclusive ticket partner – TicketChest.com — has graciously provided us with 2 tickets to the game for one lucky winner.

It is super easy to qualify for a chance to win the lucky pair of tickets.

Simply follow us on twitter @ticketchest and tweet us #FreeCubsOpeningDayTickets and you will automatically be entered for a chance to win the pair of tickets.  For those of you who are not “twitter savvy”, please feel free to enter by liking our facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/TicketchestChicago and look for the pinned post about the contest and leave a comment to enter.

We will randomly choose a winner from all eligible entries and notify the winner via social network used for entry on Wednesday, April 1st.  The lucky winner will be able to pick up his or her tickets at TicketChest.com’s Wrigleyville office anytime that week leading up to the big game.

And don’t worry if you don’t win this time around.  MyCubsToday.com (through our exclusive ticket partner — TicketChest.com) will be conducting great ticket giveaways throughout the Cubs much-anticipated 2015 season, so keep reading our posts and following TicketChest.com on twitter and facebook for great ways to win free cubs tickets and for other great deals on Cubs tickets this year.

Go Cubs Go!

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Cubs Win!

Cubs Win!

 

 

 

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Lester Sharp Again as Cubs Get 1st “W”

Posted on 12 March 2015 by Bob

Jon Lester looked every bit the player the Cubs had hoped for in his second Cactus League start throwing first-pitch strikes to ten of the eleven batters to step into the box and demonstrating the laser-sharp focus this team needs to start the year out right. “If you’re out there pumping strikes, especially that first pitch, guys are already going up there either on the defense or up there hacking,” Lester said, as he aims to dominate the strike zone early and often. His aggressiveness paid off in the Cubs picking up their first win of this young season.

Jon Lester

Miguel Montero caught Lester for the first time on Wednesday as the duo gave up only three hits and struck out two with no runs allowed through three innings setting the tone for the 4-3 win over Zack Greinke, Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers. Mike Olt has been the breakout star of spring training thus far with a .400 batting average after collecting two more hits.

With the monkey off their back, the Cubs can now turn to playing sound fundamental baseball and doing the little things right to make Manager Joe Maddon happy. “Physical mistakes are fine,” Maddon said “The mental mistakes will kill you. Physical mistakes are part of this game. Mental mistakes have no part in this game.”

The learning process continues as coaches and players get a feel for one another. It’s preferable to take their lumps now and be ready to go come April 5th. There are glimmers, here and there, but we still haven’t seen the Cubs put it all together. Keeping up their focus will go a long ways toward helping this team gel and hopefully not go so long before earning their next win.

Mike Olt

Next Up: Jason Hammel makes his second start against Sean Newcomb and the LA Angels today at 2:10PM CST.

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Cubs Lose Again – But Soler, Baez & Bryant Hit Back-To-Back-To-Back HR’s

Posted on 11 March 2015 by Lou

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Is it time to panic?  The Cubs are the only major league baseball team that has yet to win a spring training baseball game.  After a 10-6 loss to the Indians on Tuesday, the Cubs fell to 0-6-1 on the season.

But to soften the blow a little bit, Cubs fans saw what they hope to see often at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field in the very near future.  In the 4th inning with the Cubs trailing 4-0, Jorge Soler clubbed a monster HR to left field.  Just 2 pitches later, Javier Baez broke an 0 for 9 slump to start the spring with a monster shot to left field right near Soler’s HR.  And just a few pitches later, Kris Bryant made it 3 in a row with a bomb to right center field.  It was Bryant’s 2nd HR of the spring.

Travis Wood struggled in his 2nd spring start.  Wood allowed 4 runs on 7 hits over 3 innings. His defense didn’t help, as only 2 of the 4 runs were ER. In fact, with 4 errors on the day, only 4 of the 10 runs scored by the Indians were earned runs.  So the team really needs to clean up the defense a lot the next few weeks of spring training is they expect to be in tip-top shape come the regular season.

Jon Lester makes his 2nd spring start against Zach Greinke and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.  Let’s hope it’s another gem from the Cubs’ ace.

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Lester Looks Great in Cubs Debut

Posted on 07 March 2015 by Lou

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WOW — what a great start for Jon Lester.  2 shutout innings, 3 strikeouts.  And after allowing a 1-out, broken bat single in the 2nd inning, Lester buckled down and induced an inning-ending double play. We’ll take it.  Lester threw just 24 pitches in his 2 scoreless innings of work.  Lester threw 20 of those 24 pitches for strikes.  Gotta love it!

And just like Travis Wood did in his first spring start on Thursday, Lester worked quickly, pounding the strike zone.  It’s a sign of good things to come for Cubs starters as the spring season continues.  Plus, I love Lester’s attitude.  Especially in your first start of the spring, you would think he would be happy with the effort.  But Lester complained about the placement of some of his pitches, indicating that he still had a lot to work on in the coming weeks before the season starts on April 5th.  “The first one’s always tough. You get that one of out the way and now you build and look forward to the next one. I was happy with how I was able to pitch up in the zone a little bit. They’re still getting their feet wet as far as their swings and timing, so you can get away with that.”

Manager Joe Maddon clearly loves having Lester on his team – both on the mound every 5th day and in the clubhouse – “He’s been Jon Lester. I think he’s a guy who leads by example, although is he were to say something, everybody does listen. He’s been that guy, he’s been exactly what I expected – a consummate pro, quiet in his own way.”

So far so good in Mesa this spring.  And even though the club is 0-2-1, there have been a lot of positives already.  Go Cubs Go!

Joe Maddon Spring Training

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Young Cubs Come to Play in Spring League Debut

Posted on 06 March 2015 by Bob

Yesterday’s Cactus League debut was a good one for Cubs’ youngsters Mike Olt, Javier Baez, and Kyle Schwarber with at-bats producing a strike-out, a fly-out, and grand slam respectively. The two former AB’s don’t sound so great taken out of context but situationally they show the growth required for these young Cubs to succeed at the Major League level. The grand slam is the cherry on top.

Mike Olt

Mike Olt’s strikeout came in his second at-bat(His first being a 2 run homer by the way). He worked the count to three and two before fouling off several pitches and eventually striking out on a change-up. At face value this sequence might not seem great but seeing a high number of pitches and battling pitchers deep into counts is precisely the medicine Cubs’ hitters need to improve their offense from a year ago. Especially from Olt; He of 100 strikeouts last season and demotion to the minors to work on his game. Olt needs to exhibit this type of plate discipline if he is to live up to the potential which brought him over in the Matt Garza trade.

Javier Baez

Baez, who has worked on shortening his swing this offseason, produced what appears on paper as an insignificant fly-out after two missed strikes but putting the ball in play is the preferred outcome over strike three in the catcher’s mitt. A scene Baez witnessed more than enough times last season despite not even being called up until August. These may seem like little things but it is the little things the Cubs need to improve upon in order to take the leap to playoff contender. Baez still seems like a wild card at this point. I don’t know how he fits into the Cubs’ future plans with a slog of middle infielders already in the Cubs system, but improving his plate discipline and getting on base will go a long way towards proving he can be the Cubs future at second base.

Kyle Schwarber

As for Schwarber, his Grand slam in his first spring at-bat is a welcome introduction; “Load ‘em up and drive em in” as they say. Getting on base is key but then you have to drive them in. Schwarber seems intent on doing just so even drawing comparisons to Kris Bryant within the Cubs organization. It’s only the first day but signs of improvement abound.

NEXT UP:
The Cubs take on Cincinnati today, which as of this moment is tied 0-0 in the 5th.
Saturday and Sunday, the Cubs take on the Rockies and Rangers respectively.

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