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Kris Bryant and the #1 Ranked Chicago Cubs Farm System

Posted on 05 February 2015 by Bob

.Kris Bryant

ESPN’s Keith Law has released his yearly preseason farm system rankings and your very own Chicago Cubs are Numero Uno with Kris Bryant and Addison Russell leading the charge. This should come as no surprise after the year the Cubs just had off the field in assembling what Law described as “ the strongest collection of top-shelf hitting prospects I can remember since I started working in baseball”.

Last July the Cubs traded Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland for an excellent prospect in the shortstop Russell to pair with overall top prospect Kris Bryant. These two alone are what get Cubs fans giddy but add in other recent callups, Jorge Soler and Javy Baez, and young talents, Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora and it’s plain to see that the Cub’s cupboard is stocked. Now obviously farm system rankings don’t translate into World Series wins and although loaded with hitting prospects they can’t all take the field at the same time. There will be moves made over the course of the next year that remove some redundancies and hopefully bring in Major League-ready pitching.

Year Four with Theo Epstein at the helm appears to be the year the Cubs will make a big leap back into contention and Cubs fans have Epstein’s baseball acumen and talent evaluation to thank.

Addison Russell

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Bleacher Construction Behind Initial Schedule; Set to Open in Early May

Posted on 30 January 2015 by Bob

Wrigley Bleachers

As most have already heard the Budweiser Bleachers will not be ready for opening day (or the first month and half of the season) due to delays in construction caused by unforeseen expansion issues and a bitterly cold December. While it was a bit optimistic to think that a project of this magnitude could be completed within a handful of months, fans have to be a bit surprised that it’s not just the opening series that will be affected with the target date for re-opening the famed section being May 11 for now. That’s 15 games and five home series for those counting at home with the possibility of more trending closer to the probable than possible as it stands now, at least in terms of having the entire Bleachers section completed.

The Cubs have offered full refunds for the affected games for Season Ticket Holders with the option of account credits or seat relocation a possibility. While this does dampen the enthusiasm generated from off season signings a bit, a big picture focus is needed to see just how beneficial this renovation will be for both the fan experience and generating revenue. A revamped bleacher section with state of the art amenities, not to mention a sound and stable infrastructure will transform one of the oldest ballparks in America into a much more accessible and fun environment. The giant jumbo-tron planned for left field along with various signage will allow more advertising opportunities as well as allowing fans better access to information, statistics, game day promotions, etc. All good things.

No one likes to be kept waiting but in the grand scheme of things this is better done right then quick. A month and half more may be a mild annoyance but a necessary one to ensure that the team and fans both win down the road.

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Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks Passes On As Cub’s Fans Remember Him Fondly

Posted on 30 January 2015 by Bob

Ernie Banks

Cubs Legend Ernie Banks, known affectionately to the Cubs faithful as “Mr. Cub”, passed away last Friday January 23 as a result of a heart attack. The news trickled into bars around the city late Friday evening as television stations picked up the story. Banks, while 83 years old, behaved like a man half his age brandishing that trademark smile at every public appearance, interview, or game he frequented over the years. His famous saying, “Let’s Play Two” became the de facto motto for the Cubs especially during the lean years, embodying the spirit of the game no matter the final result on the field.

As the tributes poured in it became clear that there really isn’t a bad thing to say about Ernie Banks. He was a hell of a player, winning two NL MVP awards (‘58, ‘59) along with 14 All-Star game appearances but was by most standards an even greater man. For all the stories Cubs fans have after meeting him over the years, this blogger in particular was lucky to have such an occurrence and can tell you that everything you’ve heard is true. I found myself seated two seats over at an empty bar while a small fundraiser went on the in background. With little to no reason to speak with me, he immediately engaged me asking my name, my profession, where my girlfriend was, etc. I barely had time to ask him about himself as the questions rolled in. We shared some laughs, he asked me when I would be marrying my attractive girl friend, and told me he had to get back to watch the Cubs that afternoon.

The man loved baseball but his friendliness and charm led me to believe he loved entertaining people just as much, on the field or off. Our conversation only lasted twenty minutes or so but it’s not often one finds themselves alone with a Major League Hall of Famer, and certainly not one from their favorite team. I thought about this encounter upon hearing the news Friday night and much more on Saturday scrolling through the obituaries and eulogies.

With all the excitement building around the team this year it’s a shame that Mr. Cub won’t be there to see it, to hear the crack of the bat, smell the fresh-cut grass, and listen to throngs of people cheering on his beloved Cubs. His spirit will live on with the fans who remember that larger than life smile, the indomitable optimism, and the calls for a second game on a warm summer’s day.

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Cubs Avoid Weekend Sweep with 8-2 Win over Brewers at Miller Park – Wrigley Field 5/14/12

Posted on 14 May 2012 by Lou

It was an ugly weekend for the Cubs all-around, but at least they didn’t get swept. The Cubs scored in each of the game’s final 5 innings en route to their 1st “easy” win in a LONG time.  The top of the order has been on fire for the Cubbies.  David DeJesus had 2 hits and a run scored.  Tony Campana had 3 hits, 1 run scored and 1 RBI.  And Starlin Castro added 2 hits with an RBI.  Jeff Samardzija pitched 5 innings but needed 91 pitches to labor through his outing.  He allowed just 1 ER on 3 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 6, but he did not factor in the decision.

James Russell, Kerry Wood and Michael Bowden each worked scoreless innings of relief to preserve the win.

It was a much-needed victory given how they lost the 1st 2 games of the series.  On Friday night, after taking a 4-1 lead on David DeJesus’ grand slam in the top of the 7th, the Cubs gave it right back with 4 runs in the bottom of the frame.  DeJesus came through again in the clutch in the 9th inning as they rallied for a 7-5 lead with 3 runs in the inning.  But Rafael Dolis gave it right back with a 2-run shot to Corey Hart in the bottom of the inning.  The Cubs would go on to lose 8-7 in 13 innings.

On Saturday, it was the same old story for Chris Volstad.  He always seems to have 1 brutal inning that costs him and the Cubs the game. It was a 1-1 game through 5 1/2 innings and then Volstad served up a 5-run 6th inning, capped off by Edwin Maysonet’s 2-out grand slam.  Just brutal.  Volstad fell to 0-5 while watching his WHIP soar to 1.46 and his ERA soar to 6.92.  Something has gotta give with this guy.  If the Cubs are still competing at the end of the month (currently they are 14-20, 6 games back of the Cards), look for the Cubs to release/trade Volstad and bring up either Randy Wells or Travis Wood to take his place.

Cubs travel to St. Louis for 2 games against the Cards today and tomorrow.  Let’s hope Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm keep up their solid pitching…

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Happy Super Bowl Sunday – Giants, Patriots Battle for Bragging Rights in Indy – Wrigley Field 2/5/12

Posted on 05 February 2012 by Lou

Happy Super Bowl Sunday – the New York Giants battle the New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indy today.  Some day we’ll get the Bears back there.

Gotta love some comments NFL Commish Roger Goodell made the other day about a potential Super Bowl in the Windy City: “Chicago is a great community… As far as football fans are concerned, there is no greater passion in Chicago.  There are a number of issues that go into playing a Super Bowl.  It’s not just the stadium.  It’s clearly the number of hotel rooms, the other infrastructure, all of which I presume that Chicago would meet.  If they’re interested, we certainly will meet with them and discuss the ability to do that.”

It seems like a long shot to me given that the Bears play in the smallest capacity stadium – Soldier Field (61,5000 capacity) – in the entire NFL.  Throw in the fact that all the cold weather places set to hold the Super Bowl either have domes (Detroit’s Ford Field, Indy’s Lucas Oil Stadium) or a brand new state-of-the-art stadium (New York/New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium), I just can’t see the NFL agreeing to Chicago.  But it can’t hurt to dream!

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Merry Christmas – Wrigley Field 12/25/11

Posted on 25 December 2011 by Lou

Merry C hristmas from your friends at  Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season!

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WOW – 2 Pujols Walk-Off Home Runs Deliver Cardinals Sweep Over Cubs — Wrigley Field 6/6/11

Posted on 06 June 2011 by Lou

This 2011 Cubs season keeps getting more and more frustrating as Albert Pujols delivered 2 walk-off home runs on Saturday and Sunday to propel the Cardinals to a 3-game sweep over the lowly Cubs.

On Saturday, the Cubs welcomed the 2 start for Randy Wells after returning from the DL.  Save for a 2-run homer to Albert Pujols in the 4th inning and some trouble in the 6th inning when the Cards tied the game at 4, Wells pitched well.  He allowed only 3 hits and 1 walk in 5 2/3 innings, but all 4 of those batters who reached base ended up scoring.  Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood, James Russell and Carlos Marmol all worked 5 scoreless innings, but it wasn’t enough.  Jeff Samardzija retired the 1st 2 batters that he faced in the bottom of the 12th inning, but then he served up Pujols’ game-winning walk home run as the Cubs lost 5-4.

Then it was time for Pujols to crush a

On Sunday, Carlos Zambrano pitched his 2nd straight unbelievable start  to put the Cubs in position to win 2-1 in the 9th inning.  Big Z held the Cards to just 1 ER over 7 innings, allowing 5 hits and 2 walks.  But Carlos Marmol served up Ryan Theriot’s game-tying 2-out double that notted the game at 2.  The very next inning, Rodrigo Lopez gave up Pujols’ lead-off walk home run as the Cards won 3-2.

With the 3-game weekend sweep, the Cubs fell to 23-34 on the season and they now trail the Cards by a whopping 11-games.  OUCH!

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Last Place Astros Sweep Soon-to-Be Last Place Cubs – Wrigley Field 6/2/11

Posted on 02 June 2011 by Lou

This is getting comical.  Doug Davis lost again as the Astros rallied for another late win over the Cubs (3-1) at Wrigley Field.  Davis gave up 3 ER on 8 hits over 6 1/3 innings and he suffered his 4th straight loss for the Cubs.

The Cubs bats did little to help – 1 run on 3 hits with 3 walks.  The lone run scored on Kosuke Fukudome’s solo home run to lead off the bottom of the 1st inning for the Cubs.

Good job guys.  Heading into this home stand, the Cubs had reason to be optimistic – getting to face equal-caliber teams – the New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros – on your home turf.  The Cubs finished the home stand with a 3-6 record after getting swept by the Astros.  The Cubs are now a season-high 8 games under .500 at 23-31.  They trail the Cards by 9 games in the NL Central and they will now face the Cards, Reds and Phillies on a brutal 10-game road trip.  Good luck with that one…

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Wrigley Finale with Rockies Postponed; Cubs Off to Arizona – Wrigley Field 4/28/11

Posted on 28 April 2011 by Lou

Mother nature helped the Cubs out on Wednesday – the forecasted rains caused the Cubs and MLB to re-schedule the Cubs-Rockies series finale to a date when the weather should be just a little bit nicer (hopefully) – Monday June 27th.  It was an off-day for both teams. The Cubs play in Kansas City the day before and will continue with a home stand at Wrigley Field.  The Rockies play the Yankees in New York the day before and will stop in Chicago to make up the game on Monday before heading home for a scheduled home stand.

The Cubs used the day off for some rest and for some early travel to Arizona where they begin a 7-game road trip against the DBacks.  The Cubs will skip Casey Coleman in the rotation to keep the 3 “aces” on their scheduled 4 days between starts.  Ryan Dempster (1-2, 7.63 ERA) , Carlos Zambrano (2-1, 5.28 ERA) and Matt Garza (0-3, 4.11 ERA) will start the 1st 3 games of the series while Coleman will pitch in the series finale on Sunday.  The Cubs have not named who will start their game on Monday night against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.  Looking at the numbers of the Cubs 3 “aces”, it is shocking that the Cubs even have a 10-13 record.  Crazy stuff once again for the Cubs in what is shaping up to be another LONG season…

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Cubs Visit Denver to Take on Rockies at Coors Field – Wrigley Field 4/15/11

Posted on 15 April 2011 by Lou

The Cubs take on the Rockies at Coors Field tonight.  Matt Garza looks to pick up his 1st win of 2011 and his 1st win as a Cub.  So far, Garza has been less than consistent – he has a 5.68 ERA with a 1.82 WHIP.  He is 0-1.  The Cubs hope that Starlin Castro,  Darwin Barney and Marlon Byrd keep up their hot hitting against the Rockies.

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