Posted on 10 December 2014 by Lou
Finally, late last night the Cubs got the news they wanted. Free agent lefty Jon Lester had decided to go with the Cubs. Theo & Co. set their sights on Lester whom they knew so well from their days in Boston and they did what it took to convince that Lester that is was now his time to help lead a young Cubs squad to the promised land – a World Series Championship. Lester was a “young pup” in the Red Sox organization when new GM Theo Epstein helped the Red Sox break the curse with an improbable 2004 World Series title over the St. Louis Cardinals. And just a few short years later, Lester led the Red Sox to a 2nd World Series title in 2007 with a sweep of the Colorado Rockies in the Fall Classic. And he won a 2nd World Series ring just 2 years ago with the Red Sox. Now it’s his turn to help the Chicago Cubs break their 100+ year curse. How sweet it would be to do it with his friends Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer at the helm.
Sure the $155 million had a lot to do with signing with the Cubs. But Lester is an analytical guy and he wanted to make sure that Theo & Co. had a clear plan for the organization as a whole. It didn’t hurt that the Cubs hired Joe Maddon just 1 month ago. It didn’t hurt that he already knew players within the Cubs organization – he and Ryan Dempster bonded during their short time together in Boston and Dempster just joined the Cubs front office; Jason Hammel just signed a 2-year deal with the Cubs and he and Lester were teammates on the A’s during the 2nd half of 2014; and David Ross (his “personal catcher” with the Red Sox) has had talks with Theo & Co. about joining the Cubs as a backup. Beyond that, the Cubs went out and upgraded their catcher position with a trade for Miguel Montero hours before they learned that Lester had made his decision to come to the north side. It didn’t hurt that Lester knows that Theo & Co. are straight shooters who have won before. And it didn’t hurt that Theo & Co. could also sell Lester on how great Chicago is. They had long ties with the Boston area and it probably wasn’t an easy decision for them to leave 3 years ago. But they did and they have embraced Cubs fans, the city and all it has to offer. And they could make that clear to Lester — personally being able to tell him that sure Chicago was different than Boston, but it was just as good, if not better.
It was a perfect match. The Cubs loved that at 30, Lester just had his best career year — 16-11 overall, 2.45 ERA with a 1.10 WHIP. Even better than that, the Cubs know he can perform in the post-season. In 14 appearances, Lester is 6-4 with a crazy good 2.57 ERA. It gets even better looking at his World Series numbers — 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA.
We will definitely write more about the moves over the next few days. So much to digest, and all signs point to the Cubs remaining active this off-season tweaking the roster here and there leading up to Spring Training. After missing out on Russell Martin, this was huge for the Cubs to get their #1 free agent target. What a day it was – checking twitter every few seconds, debunking false rumors, hoping Lester would pick us… And the he did.
We really wish it was Easter Sunday Night 2015 already — Joe Maddon coming out of the dugout with his 1st regular season Cubs lineup card — Jon Lester standing on the top step of the dugout getting ready to grab the ball for his start in a Cubs uniform at the Friendly Confines — the Cubs beating their hated rival St. Louis Cardinals and the Blue W Flag flying atop the new constructed outfield bleachers… Can’t help imagining that same scene on a cool fall night in late October — Go Cubs Go!!!
Posted on 06 November 2012 by Lou
For the 2nd time in 5 months, a Cubs trade fell apart right at the last minute and left a yearning Cubs fan base begging for answers. It was reported that the Cubs had dealt Carlos Marmol to the Anaheim Angels for starter Dan Haren early Friday evening by a reporter from the Chicago Sun Times and Bruce Levine of Chicago’s ESPN Radio 1000 (a similar non-trade occurred back in early July when it was erroneously reported that the Cubs had traded Ryan Dempster to the Atlanta Braves for coveted young starter Randall Delgado). But within an hour or so of those reports, the deal fell apart. The Angels declined to pick up Haren’s team option for $15.5 million for the 2013 MLB season and essentially bought him out for $3.5 million thereby making him a free agent. The Cubs are believed to have obtained Marmol’s consent to the trade (he had a full no trade clause), but it is still unclear if the Cubs did not relay that message quickly enough for them to exercise Haren’s option before the Friday night deadline or if there were other issues consummating the trade.
Knowing how thorough Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer are, maybe they had concerns with Haren’s lingering back issues during the 2012 campaign. Haren (32 years old) landed on the DL for the 1st time in his career and appeared in only 30 games tossing less than 200 innings for the 1st time in his career. Maybe that gave the Cubs pause, especially since they were fully expected to use Haren as a 3-month “rental” in order to deal him prior to the July 2013 trading deadline for prospects.
Or maybe Marmol never really consented to the deal.
Or maybe there was still a hang-up between the Cubs and Angels on money to be paid by either side. Did the Cubs want the Angels to pay a portion of Haren’s salary since Marmol was only slated to earn $9 million during the 2013 season.
Maybe we’ll never know. In any event, the Cubs still have Marmol for one more season and will likely deal him this off-season or in the first few months of the season to a team that is struggling with closer/back of the end bullpen issues. We’ll keep you posted as soon as anything develops…
Posted on 20 July 2012 by Lou
The Ryan Dempster watch is on high alert as the Dodgers have made a big pitch to acquire the righty from the Cubs. As far as we know, it’s unclear if they have included prized pitcher Zach Lee in the package that would come to the Cubs. If not, it could allow other Dempster suitors like the Tigers or Braves to jump right into the mix.
Dempster is slated to start tonight against the Cardinals in St. Louis. As a back-up plan, the Cubs acquired Justin Germano from the Red Sox for cash considerations yesterday. They also scratched Casey Coleman from his Thursday night Triple-A Iowa start just in case Germano did not make it to St. Louis in time.
Ah the drama. No news yet, but we’ll keep you posted as soon as something breaks.
Go Cubs Go!
Posted on 15 July 2012 by Lou
The Cubs swept the Arizona Diamondbacks to kick off the 2nd half of the season with a bang. The Cubs 12 wins since June 25th is tops in the majors. Granted they are still way out of it with a 36-52 record, but at least they seem to be putting things together on a more consistent basis.
Paul Maholm earned the Cubs win in Friday’s 8-1 romp. Maholm worked 7 innings of 1-run ball to pace the club. He scattered 6 hits and struck out 5 to improve to 7-6 on the season. Alfonso Soriano was the hitting star — 2 home runs, 2 doubles and 5 RBI’s! Anthony Rizzo also had 2 hits and 2 runs scored.
Ryan Dempster continued to help his trade value with 6 shutout innings in Saturday’s 4-1 win. He improved to 5-3 scattering 4 hits and 3 walks in the win. He now has a 1.02 WHIP and 1.86 ERA and his 33 consecutive scoreless innings streak . Reed Johnson, Geovany Soto and Luis Valubuena each had 2 hits in the win. Carlos Marmol notched his 9th save of the season.
Matt Garza worked 7 scoreless innings in Sunday’s 3-1 series finale win to improve to 5-7. He struck out 7 and only allowed 5 hits. Rizzo gave the Cubs an early 1-0 lead in the 1st inning with an RBI single. And Darwin Barney added a 2-run homer in the 2nd inning that increased the Cubs lead to 3-0. That would be all that Garza needed in one of his better outings of the season. Marmol recorded the game’s final 2 outs to pick up save #10.
The Cubs open up a 3-game series against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.
Posted on 09 July 2012 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs beat the NY Mets 7-0 on Sunday to take 2 of 3 from the Mets on the weekend right before the All-Star Break. Ryan Dempster earned his 4th win of the season, pitching 5 scoreless innings in his 1st start since being on the DL with a strained muscle. He struck out 4 batters and more importantly did not walk a batter. And he looks primed and ready to go for the 2nd half of the season once he gets traded to a contender. Dempster will be in high demand.
Reed Johnson, Starlin Castro and Jeff Baker each had 2 hits to power the Cubs offense. Castro hit a 3-run homer off of Jon Niese to break the game open in the 7th inning.
The Cubs finished the 1st half with a miserable 33-52 record. They have a 1/2 game better record than the Houston Astros to avoid having the worst record in baseball at the break. They trail the Cincinnati Reds by 15 games in the NL Central race. Ha ha ha!
At least we have Starlin Castro and Bryan LaHair to root for in the All-Star Game and Anthony Rizzo to root for in the 2nd half of what is shaping up to be another frustrating season on the north side of Chicago.
Posted on 15 June 2012 by Lou
The Cubs beat the Red Sox 3-0 in the opener of the much-anticipated series between Theo Epstein’s new team and his old team. And while it is great that the Cubs got the win, barring a herculean pitching effort by Ryan Dempster, it should have been another loss for the north siders. The Cubs managed just 2 hits by a non-pitcher in the win today. Fortunately, both hits drove in the Cubs 3 runs. Steve Clevenger had a timely 2-out bases loaded double that drove in 2 runs in the 1st inning. And the next inning David DeJesus single drove in Ryan Dempster. Dempster had reached base earlier that inning on a “triple” to right field that regular 1st baseman Adrian Gonzalez misplayed down the line. So even that 2nd run was a little “lucky”…
Dempster pitched another solid outing – 7 scoreless innings, 4 hits, 2 walks and 3 K’s. Sure the Red Sox lineup is missing a little umph without Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury, but if you can keep David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez off the scoreboard for an entire game, you’ve gotta be doing something right.
Carlos Marmol made it interesting in the 9th. He gave up a hit and a walk and a Luis Valbuena error in between put Marmol in a bases loaded 2-out jam. But Valbuena made a 2nd fabulous play in the inning with a hard line drive grounder by Pedroia to the hot corner that he scooped up and raced to make the game-ending force out just ahead of the racing footsteps by Mike Aviles.
With the win, the Cubs “improved” to 22-42. The Red Sox fell to 31-33. Not exactly the type of match-up that MLB envisioned in the winter.
Go Cubs Go!
Posted on 11 June 2012 by Lou
Ryan Dempster won for the 2nd time on the Cubs atrocious 2-8 road trip through San Francisco, Milwaukee and Minnesota. It were Dempster’s first 2 wins of the 2012 MLB season. He pitched 8 scoreless innings to help the Cubs avoid the sweep by the Twins. He scattered 4 hits and 1 walk while striking out 6. He has an amazing 1.03 WHIP and 2.31 ERA, but only has a 2-3 record as the Cubs have failed to provide him much run support in his starts. Starlin Castro led the Cubs 9-hit attack by going 3 for 5 with 3 runs scored. Reed Johnson added 2 hits and 3 runs scored in the lead-off spot.
Off the field, the Cubs landed highly touted Cuban prospect Jorge Soler in the “free agent” market. The 20-year old outfielder was considered the next biggest star out of Cuba after Yoenis Cespedes signed with Oakland for $36 million earlier this spring. The Cubs were able to negotiate a 9-year, $30 million deal for the player they have set their sights on for quite a while now. Other top teams – the Yankees, White Sox, Phillies and Red Sox – were all believed to be involved in the bidding for Soler, but the Cubs got him. The Cubs did not make any public announcement about the deal today, but look for some news later this week.
At 20-40, the Cubs are on pace to finish with more than 100 losses for only the 3rd time in franchise history. Both the 1962 and 1966 Cubs finished 59-103. Not good – not good at all, but at least it looks like new ownership has a plan in place, and the tools necessary to implement that plan…
Posted on 05 June 2012 by Lou
At last – the Cubs crushed the Brewers 10-0 at Miller Park ending their 11-game road losing streak. Ryan Dempster retired the 1st 15 batters that he faced in the game, flirting with a perfect game. But he allowed a lead-off single to Cody Ransom to lead off the 6th inning which ended his bid. Dempster ended up going 7 innings of 3-hit ball AND he picked up his 1st win of the season, ending an 18-start streak (dating back to August 18th of last year) in which he had not won a game. Dempster sounded relieved when the Cubs had won: “It felt nice. It’s been a while. It was nice to go out there and win a game like that, and see everybody, the guys played great defense and hit the ball and they made all the plays and scored a bunch of runs.”
Alfonso Soriano, Jeff Baker and Bryan LaHair all hit home runs. Starlin Castro had 3 hits.
Let’s hope they can keep it up against Zach Greinke on Wednesday night at Miller Park. Greinke is almost unbeatable at home, so Paul Maholm and the Cubs will have their work cut out for them.
Posted on 21 May 2012 by Lou
The 1st half of the 2012 Crosstown Classic between the Cubs and White Sox was simply brutal for the North Siders. In a rare and fun Saturday night contest at Wrigley Field,the White Sox blanked the Cubs for the game’s first 8 innings amassing a comfortable 7-0 lead behind 3 Sox home runs. The Cubs avoided the shutout when Alfonso Soriano and Joe Mather hit 2 run home runs in the 9th inning. But it was too little too late. Ryan Dempster suffered the loss, falling to 0-2 on the season, despite strong individual numbers – 1.06 WHIP, 2.28 ERA, 44 K’s against just 14 walks.
On Sunday, needing a win to avoid the sweep, the Cubs curled up under the favorite blankie and laid an egg against Jake Peavy. The White Sox cruised to an easy 6-0 victory behind Peavy and 3 more Sox home runs and a 10-hit barrage against Paul Maholm. On a 90-degree day with the wind blowing straight out of the park in every direction, the Cubs managed just 5 hits and NO runs. How is that even possible?!
It keeps getting uglier and uglier for the Cubs. Now it seems all but a certainty that Theo & Co. will move Matt Garaza and any other chip (Dempster, Maholm) in any attempt to get cheaper and younger.
With the sweep the Cubs fell to 15-25 overall and they trail the Cards and Reds by a full 7 games in the NL Central race.
Posted on 15 May 2012 by Lou
This is going to be the story for the 2012 Cubs – they play good, just not good enough to win consistently. The surprising fact that they are playing so many close games this season makes it tough to swallow when they do lose close ones. But at least they are battling and at least the players seem to have some renewed fight in them under the new Theo, Jed and Dale regime.
The Cubs dropped the series finale to the Cards 7-6 in the bottom of the 9th. After staking Paul Maholm to a 3-0 lead in the 1st, Maholm slowly gave it back with 2 runs in the 1st, 1 run in the 2nd and 1 more run in the 5th. The Cubs fought back with a game-tying Bryan LaHair homer in the 6th (his 10th of the season) and a go-ahead pinch-hit RBI single in the 7th by Reed Johnson that drove in Darwin Barney who had doubled. But the bullpen ran into trouble after that.
Kerry Wood issued 2 walks in the 7th inning and he allowed the game-tying single to Allen Craig. James Russell served up Matt Carpenter’s go-ahead homer in the 8th that gave the Cards a short-lived 6-5 lead. After the Cubs answered in the top of the 9th with Alfonso Soriano’s 1st home run of the season – yes, you read that correctly – his 1ST HOME RUN! – that tied the game at 6, it was Rafael Dolis’ turn to allow the Cards to win. He served up the game-winning single to Yadier Molina with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th.
Sure, you can question Dale Sveum’s decision not to walk RBI machine Molina to face Carpenter, but the Cubs had plenty of chances to win this one, and they just didn’t get it done.
Monday night’s win was equally as frustrating, but at least they pulled that one out. The Cubs finally gave Ryan Dempster some run support with 4 runs in the 5th inning to give the Cubs a 4-0 lead. But he gave it right back in the 6th with a 4-run inning. This time, Shawn Camp and Dolis got the job done with 3 scoreless innings. And Soriano came through with a big game-winning single in the 8th inning. They fought back and won, and it shows that they can compete, but you just wish they had won some of these earlier games in the season.
With a win today, the Cubs could have pulled within 4 games of the Cards for 1st place in the NL Central! But it wasn’t meant to be. They’re now 15-21 and 6 games back. Even if just 3 of those games go the other way this season, they would be 18-18 and would likely be talked about as one of the biggest surprises of 2012…