Cubs’ Starlin Castro In 2014 All Star Game

Chicago Cubs v Washington Nationals

Have you voted for Anthony Rizzo yet? C’mon gang, let’s get him into the All Star Game.

Well, the game was a lot closer than the 13-0 drubbing the other night, but those wily Cubs managed to keep it tight with another one run loss 2-1. Now, if I had my way, I’d put Jake Arrieta on the ballot because he’s proven that he can compete with the best of them. There’s an old saying in Cub Land, say it with me people…

“There’s always Next Year.”

“We had some opportunities,” Rick Renteria said. “Obviously, we weren’t able to drive in those runners that we had at those times.”

Which has been the Cubs major concern all season long. To be fair, the Nationals have been strong all the way through and for a young Cubs team, facing a challenge like the Nationals is both good and frustrating. They want to get better and compete, but a team would like to build the confidence by winning against these teams too.

Congratulations to Jeff Samardzija on his first win as an Oakland Athletic. It sure would be nice to see him in the playoffs and witness the damage that can be done. Great job, Shark.

So, Starlin Castro will be in the All Star Game. He deserves it. There’s no denying it. The Wonder Kid from a few years ago has had an unbelievable season and if he keeps it up, there could very well be a flag flying with the wind out in the field. Then again, 13 isn’t a very good number to be flying at Wrigley Field.

Hey, Alfonso Soriano is available. Any takers?

Believe it.

—Mark

For The Cubs, All Good Things—

Chicago Cubs v Washington Nationals

It’s kind of fitting that Jeff Samardzija was supposed to start yesterday but in the deal to the Athletics, the Cubs fell 13-0 to the Nationals yesterday. I have a theory though, now bear with me on this; Carlos Villanueva hasn’t been the same since the mustache came off. I don’t think the Cub’s loss was a result of Hamell and Samardzija being traded. It came down to the Mustache. The “Villan” was only on the mound for two and some change innings. He was no longer the Villan.

“Samardzija was here for a while and Hammel was a good guy here, but they’re gone now,” Villanueva said. “Tomorrow, other guys are going to come in, and they’re going to be our brothers here. You get forgotten quick. They’ll love those guys over there in Oakland now. When they leave, they’ll probably be sad for a couple days. But you’ve got to keep working because, ultimately, we are here to do a job.”

That job, Cubs fans, and there should be a support group for us who deal with the rollercoaster of emotions that this team goes through on a daily basis. We deal with a pledge by Theo Epstein that this is all part of the plan to be “Committed” and the “Cubs Way of Life” but for Dave at Cubs Crossings How long will that take? This year? Next Year? We’re patient folks us Cub’s fans but sometimes the frustration is well, frustrating that they should have a competitive team. That after 105 years No championship? That’s crazy, but I believe in Theo’s plan. It’s not for everyone but let’s face it, Samardzija had to go and now the torch is passed onto Jake Arrieta to lead the pitching staff with Travis Wood.

“I really feel there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Epstein said. “We appreciate our fans’ patience and we’re working extremely hard to reward them with a team they can be proud of for a long time at Wrigley Field. This group has a chance to stay together and our fans have a chance to get to know them, and not just for one or two years.”

There’s the rub. Fans want a team to stick around for a long time. The Cubs faithful need that and deserve that from the organization. Sure, it would be a quick fix to go out and spend gobs of money on a band aid solution but where will that lead? Soriano? Done it. Ramirez? Nope. Building from the ground up is the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.

Theo Epstein is a student of Sabermetrics or he just wants to be like Billy Beane. Changing the culture of the team and players coming into the organization respecting the history of the team and believing in the common goal will happen. Right now, thirty years old is ancient on the team. That’s exciting. The Cubs now have the best system in baseball and if a Wild Card doesn’t happen this year, and it’s highly unlikely, but not totally off base, then next year if players are called up then the Cubs will be there and good times will be back at Wrigley Field.

Believe It.

—Mark

Cubs Celebrate Father’s Day With Road Shutout

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Philadelphia Phillies

The Chicago Cubs shut out the Phillies 3-0 yesterday and with that win, ushered in the first road series win of the season. So why isn’t the Cubs standout guys Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro higher in the voting for the All Star Game next month? Would it be fair to say that it is because they play for the Cubs? Perhaps. Rizzo sits behind Paul Goldschmidt in homers with 14. If he continues with the outstanding play, we could see Anthony overtaking Paul in All Star voting. That would be a big victory if that could happen so get out and vote often for Anthony Rizzo, he deserves to be there this year.

Starlin Castro is narrowly keeping up with Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies, who by the way is quietly discovering new ways of winning. I think there’s a conspiracy going on with the Cubs. They’ve got a top first baseman and shortstop that may go unnoticed next month in All Star voting. Does anyone remember a few years ago when the Cubs had 8 players? Wow, that was 2008 and seems a long time ago.

Ok, so speaking of home runs, what’s going on with third baseman, Mike Olt? He continues to crush the ball, but swings at everything that comes his way. It could be rookie jitters or it could be something else altogether.

“We know we have a guy that when he barrels the ball, can obviously drive it,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “But he is still a young man that’s working on who he is.”

With 60 strikeouts at 145 At Bats, has Alfonso Soriano returned?

The Cubs are in Miami tonight and even though they’re riding a one game winning streak, the Cubs are looking good, all right; they’re looking better and they’re seven games back of a wild card spot.

“We’re playing good ball right now,” Travis Wood said. “We’re not looking sloppy, we’re making plays, we’re hitting, we’re moving runners over. It’s all you can ask for, really.”

Stranger things have happened.

Believe it.

—Mark

DeJesus Resurrected in Washington

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The Chicago Cubs put up a monster win yesterday by defeating the Washington Nationals 11-1. The win came on the same day as respected outfielder David DeJesus was traded to the Nationals for an as yet to be determined player.

Did the Cubs miss DeJesus’ presence? Nope. Nate Schierholtz, the most underrated outfielder in the game today smacked a three run homer in the 1st inning to drive in Junior Lake and Dioner Navarro. In fact, Schierholtz was practically a one man machine collecting 6 RBI’s and adding another home run for the game.

Jeff Samardzija had a great game as well. He was as dominate as team management expected him to be last night.

“Really, it comes down to getting the runs that we got,” Samardzija said. “The last thing you want to do is start walking guys. You put up four-to-five home runs and eight-to-nine runs, it allows you to really calm down.”

Now, I think trading David Dejesus was an odd choice. The guy has picked up the leadership role since Alfonso Soriano bolted for the Bronx and was the guy who scolded Starlin Castro for wanting to hide in the clubhouse after embarrassing himself in the last game. DeJesus told Castro to take a seat and cheer on his teammates. Now that’s leadership.

So, who knows? Maybe this is finally Theo Epstein’s team? Maybe this is the team that will lead the long suffering Cubs fans to salvation.

Maybe.

The Cubs try to continue their winning ways today when Chris Rusin gets the call. Game time is 8:05

In other news, My family and I are taking an east coast trip to Boston and then it’s off to Cape Breton and Nova Scotia until Labour Day. I hope to continue posting during the trip and perhaps post some pictures as well.

—Mark

Cubs Left With A Goose Egg

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There’s few things in life that are more beautiful and amazing then a sunny afternoon game at Wrigley Field. Unless of course, you’re on the receiving end of a 5-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Two teams having polar opposites and the seasons this year clashed and the mighty won out.

It’s not to say the Cubs had a truly horrible game because that’s not true. They played decent enough however, the word, “Frustration” would be a great word for the happenings yesterday on the field.

“Getting shut out and getting nothing going at all today, it’s frustrating,” Dale Sveum said. “It’s frustrating for the guys in the clubhouse, too. They’re plugging away as best they can and not getting anything to show for it.”

The Cubs only managed two hits, but when you look at how many fly outs and ground outs that happened all game, well, it’s no wonder then that the Cubs came up short. It kind of made me wish Alfonso Soriano was back in the lineup yesterday.

“A lot of guys are getting opportunities to step up and take advantage of it,” Anthony Rizzo said. “It’s not only myself who wants to, but guys on this team, especially guys who haven’t been here all year”.

But when the opportunities are getting taken away like they did yesterday, there’s nothing Rizzo could have done to change anything. it just boils down to bad luck.

The other thing to keep in mind is Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney both had the day off so who knows? Maybe the outcome would have been different. Then again, both Castro and Barney have struggled quite a bit this season.

“The bottom line with that is laying off the breaking ball. The bottom line is hitting the fastball. That’s where it all starts, and it’s been around for 100 years. If you can’t hit the fastball, you can’t play in the big leagues.’’ said Sveum.

So, the Cubs take a day off to lick their wounds before the much despised St. Louis Cardinals visit Wrigley Field. Ok, I can say this; Will the Cubs play spoiler for a sweep? Or will the mighty red birds separate themselves from the pack?

—Mark

Cubs Pay Their Pennants

MLB: Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals

It was a tough loss for the Chicago Cubs yesterday in St. Louis. The series sweep was just out of reach as the Cubs lost to the Cardinals, 8-4.

of course, St. Louis has a lot more to lose than the Cubs, but a win over the rivals would have been a sweet victory anyways.

“Obviously, they’re doing what they need to be doing, being in the pennant race,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.

That’s exactly it. St. Louis is in a pennant race and the Cubs are not. So do the Cubs spend the rest of the season playing spoiler to the Reds and the other playoff bound teams or do they forge ahead and try to determine those players who will be with the club next year and stay the course.

I believe the Cubs should call up some more prospects and get them acquainted with the big leagues. I know a lot of teams that are out of playoff contention do this, but in the Cubs situation, it’s more important because they’ve been building for a few years. I don’t think the “spoiler” route is the right situation. Of course, if it happens then that is all the better.

“It’s really important,” catcher Welington Castillo said of the goals in the next seven weeks. “Not just for yourself, but for the team. I know we’re out of the race, but we’ve got to keep playing like we are close and we’re fighting. We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing. Personally, you have to keep your head up and play like nothing has happened.”

Well Castillo, a lot has happened this year and it’s been a good year at that. Some players have gone like Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano. There’ll be some money freed up for next year and the Cubs can finally sign a couple quality but not too expensive free agents to compliment rising stars like Junior Lake and Kris Bryant.

The Cubs head home to face the Reds tonight at 8:05 eastern. Travis Wood gets the start.

—Mark

Travis Lays The Wood

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It hasn’t been done in twenty years, but yesterday the Chicago Cubs swept the defending World Series champions San Francisco Giants 2-1. Travis Wood collected a home run and so did Wellington Castillo.

“I swear to God, just before he hit that, I was remembering (Yovani) Gallardo winning a game here by himself with a home run off Randy Johnson,” Dale Sveum said, who was with the Brewers at the time. “Sure enough, (Wood) hits a home run. I think he’s the best (hitting pitcher) that can handle good pitching too. Gallardo was really good, but Wood handles good pitching and lays off stuff and takes good swings at almost everything.”

So where did all this inspiration come from? is it because the Cubs are playing really good baseball? is it because they’re out to prove something?

They won because their beloved leader Alfonso Soriano collected his first home run with the New York Yankees.

“It’s always a little different, especially when you lose a guy like Soriano,” Wood said. “He was one of our hottest bats, probably the hottest bat at the time. He’s the leader on the team and he’s been here the longest. It was sad to see him go, but I think he had a pretty solid day today. We just have to pull together and string some wins.”

The best part about this series win though is they did with by one run in each of the games. Sure, my nails are shorter than they were before the weekend and our son asked me a hundred times, “Is that Starlin Castro, Daddy?” but this is a start in the right direction. This also proves that the Cubs are maturing as a team by winning the close ones and battling back in these games. The San Francisco Giants aren’t playing like the champions they were but by the Cubs beating them, it’s a great moral booster because they beat the champs and that goes a long way.

“I can’t remember playing or (managing) this kind of a trip on the West Coast,” Sveum said, lumping Colorado and Arizona in with California. “To win six out of 10 on the West Coast, no matter how good of a team you are, is one of the hardest things to do.”

The Cubs are heading home now and getting ready for a very big series against the Braun-less Brewers. They have a chance to gain some valuable ground in the Wild Card race. The Shark, Samardzija gets the start. Game time is 8:05.

–Mark