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.
“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.
Posted on 24 March 2015 by Lou
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…
Posted on 23 March 2015 by Lou
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!
Posted on 16 March 2015 by Lou
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!
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.
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.
Next Up: Jason Hammel makes his second start against Sean Newcomb and the LA Angels today at 2:10PM CST.
Posted on 11 March 2015 by Lou
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.
Posted on 07 March 2015 by Lou
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!
Posted on 06 March 2015 by Lou
Jon Lester is set to make his Cubs spring training debut today against the Cincinnati Reds at Sloan Park. Joe Maddon’s lineup looks like this:
Chris Donorfia RF
Arismendy Alcantara 2B
Javier Baez SS
Mike Olt 1B
David Ross C
Junior Lake LF
Chris Valaika 3B
Wellington Castillo DH
Matt Szczur CF
Meanwhile back in chilly Chicago, Cubs tickets for the 2015 MLB season went on sale to the public. Demand was clearly strong as fans clamored to buy tickets for a team that could make a surprising run at the playoffs in 2015. Opening Day – Sunday April 5th against the St. Louis Cardinals – where Jon Lester will make his official Cubs major league debut at Wrigley Field is already sold out. And the Cubs-White Sox Saturday July 11th contest sold old quickly as well. It’s a great sign that we already have sell outs at Wrigley Field again — haven’t had too many of those during the last 5 years. so it’s clear that fans have high hopes this year. Go Cubs Go!!!
Posted on 05 March 2015 by Bob
Cubs fans got a look at potential batting lineups in the Cubs Cactus League match up vs. the Oakland A’s with Manager Joe Maddon playing most of his veterans and sending mostly prospects to take on the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale.
Here is the veteran lineup with Travis Wood on the mound:
CF Dexter Fowler
1B Anthony Rizzo
SS Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
2B Javier Baez
LF Chris Coghlan
3B Mike Olt
DH Ryan Sweeney
RF Junior Lake
What stands out most is Rizzo batting second as he has been the Cubs No. 3 hitter for quite some time. This is pure Maddon; known to be someone who likes to think outside the box in the pursuit of manufacturing runs. While accepted logic dictates batting your pitcher ninth in a nod to the pitcher most likely being your weakest hitter; Maddon is of the school of thought that you don’t want to leave the bases empty when the top of your lineup rolls around. He has been known in the past to bat his pitchers eighth, in hopes of letting your No. 9 hitter set the table for the top of the order and in turn maximizing run-scoring potential as your regular No. 3 hitter moves up a spot in the order.
While not an exact science, it’s this kind of non-traditional thinking that has enabled Maddon to find success at each of his stops and endeared him to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer and their sabermetric-centric line of thinking. I wouldn’t expect Rizzo to remain in the two hole come opening day but I wouldn’t rule anything out as Maddon strives to piece this team together in a way that squeezes the most out of their potential.
Probably the only sure thing at this point is Dexter Fowler batting lead-off as that is precisely why the Cubs brought him to Chicago this off-season. Getting on base early is a high priority so that when Castro and Rizzo come up, they inflict the maximum amount of damage on opposing defenses. After all, a two or three run shot is always preferable to a solo dinger and these young Cubs, with their lofty expectations, will surely rise or fall based on their ability to produce those extra runs.
Posted on 19 January 2015 by Lou
Theo & Co. clearly have a vision and they continue to make moves to improve the major league ballclub just about each and every day. Today the Cubs announced a trade with the Houston Astros – CF Dexter Fowler for 3B Luis Valbuena and Pitcher Dan Straily. This adds a proven hitter to the Cubs top of the lineup with Fowler – a career .271 hitter with a great .366 on-base percentage. In 2014, Fowler boasted a phenomenal .375 on base-percentage with 120 hits and 66 walks in just 434 at-bats.
The Cubs ranked 28th in all of baseball in on-base percentage in 2014, so adding more consistent, patient batters was a clear mission for Theo & Co. this off-season. The Cubs previously added reserve infielder Tommy La Stella from the Atlanta Braves (.328 on-base percentage in 2014) and Catcher Miguel Montero (.329 on-base percentage in a down 2014). The addition of Fowler makes the lineup that much better, especially at the top of the order to set the table for the likes of Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Jorge Soler and eventually Kris Bryant.
Current Cubs hitting coach who came from the Astros this winter raved about Fowler’s plate approach: “He understands the strike zone so well, but it doesn’t take the attack out of him. He doesn’t just take pitches to take. He takes them because he recognizes the strike zone.” Gotta love it.
It will be interesting to see what Manager Joe Maddon and the Cubs do with the rest of the lineup. Fowler bumps Arismendy Alcantara out of the CF starting position and pushed him to more of a “super sub” role. Alcantara could even make noise back in the infield with the 3rd base position wide open. Or will we see La Stella share some time at 3rd base with Alcantara or Mike Olt until the arrival of Kris Bryant in late April. This is just the kind of move that Maddon probably loved. Maddon has a knack for moving his players around and getting the most out of his players, so having a “deeper” lineup to play around with in 2015 will sure make things more interesting.
The other interesting news was Max Scherzer going to the Nationals for $210 million over 7 years. Does that mean the Nats will make one of their other “ace” starters available via trade sooner rather than during the course of the season. We’ll write more about that over the next few days as it impacts the Cubs…