Cubs Get Schooled By Cardinals

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The Cubs are looking like a great team but in yesterday’s loss they found the key ingredient that champions have which the Cubs still need to acquire.  A good come from behind victory.  The Cubs were up 5-0 in the 2nd inning when the Cardinals had to remind the North Siders that they still need some discipline. The Cubs went on to lose to St. Louis 9-6

“Our goal down the stretch is to break as many hearts as possible,” Carlos Villanueva said. “We play a lot of teams that are in contention now, and that’s how we’ll learn to win those games. We have a month left and we’ll see how we do.”

Even though they lost yesterday, you have to hand it to the Cubs they finished August with a 16-14 winning record, not bad at all.

Today marks the Wrigley Field debut of Jorge Soler. The rookie outfielder has made an impressive debut in August and looks to improve on his stellar numbers in September when the Cubs play the Milwaukee Brewers.

“I think everybody’s excited about all these guys,” manager Rick Renteria said of the Cubs prospects. “I’m sure there will be some enthusiasm and some desire to see Soler. They’ve been talked about a lot. I think people have been waiting anxiously to see part of the future, and rightfully so. These guys are pretty exciting players. We’re seeing it firsthand. Hopefully, Soler will have a good day, and people will be excited about what they see.”

It’s hard to believe that school’s just about in and there’s less than a month left in the baseball season but for the freshmen Javier Baez and Jorge Soler, class has started. It’s just a shame though that fans didn’t get a chance to see more of these future All Stars but we’ll take what we can get, right?

Theo Epstein has ruffled a lot of fans’ feathers when it comes to the “Cubs’ Way” preaching patience but we’re the ones eating crow when we see these guys hitting and running and you know, doing all those things that rookies do. Manny Ramirez a player coach? WTF?

“I learned a lot from Manny,” Soler said. “When I was with him in Iowa, he was always talking to me about hitting, about personal stuff, what I’m doing on the field, off the field. He’s a tremendous person. I always tried to be around him and tried to be the best I can.”

Sorry about that Theo.  What do you mean Baez isn’t going to get called up in April? Right again, Theo. There’s a reason the guy has won two World Series.

Believe it.

—Mark

Cubs Have Only One Thing Left To Do, “Win The Whole Thing”

I really didn’t see this one coming. Last night’s victory came down to the Duke of Welington Castillo and his three run rocker into the stands. A nice souvenir that one. 6-3

“Welington got a good fastball, got a pitch up to hit and did a nice job with it,” Rick Renteria said. “I don’t think he was thinking too much in terms of innings. I think he just wanted to get in there and do his job and he got a good pitch to handle, and he drove it out of the ballpark.”

There’s a question circulating from the bleachers and that is, “What are they going to do with Jose Veras?” I even heard that some people are yelling, “We want Marmol back!” No, I made that one up. Veras is 0-2 so what should the Cubs do? Yeah, it’s not even a month into the season so hopefully he can iron out the kinks, but if I were Renteria, I’d be keeping someone on standby.

The Cubs were lucky to squeeze out that victory, but they fought back which if anyone has anything nice to say about the 2014 edition of the North Siders is that they’re gutsy and similar to the 1988 Cleveland Indians with Ricky Vaughn on the mound. Wait a minute.

The fact that the Cubs took game one away from the much despised St. Louis Cardinals is a great victory that will carry forth into today’s matchup when Carlos “The Villain” Villanueva takes on the great Adam Wainwright. This is the key game in the series. Yesterday, I said that if the Cubs can take the series away from the Cardinals it would be a turning point for the team this year but really, if they can beat Wainwright then the Cubs, who are four games behind the surprising Brewers can remain in the hunt for the Central.

With Emilio Bonifacio’s amazing young season, the Cubs must decide what to do with Gold Glove winner, Darwin Barney. Do they trade him or keep him. All clichés point to Dancing With The One Who Got You There and Bonifacio is the guy this season so they’ve got to use him.

“I’m still getting used to finding ways to get myself prepared during the game,” Barney said. “In the past, off-days were to rest. Now, I have to find a way to be mentally prepared for that first at-bat, which could be a big at-bat in the game. For me, that’s the mindset I’m taking. I’ve got a ‘C’ on my chest, and we’re trying to win as many games as I can.”

Darwin Barney is quite a guy and he’ll help out the team any way he can.

—Mark

Cubs Facing Decisions

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Angels at Chicago Cubs

Rick Renteria has got his work cut out for him that’s for sure. Yesterday’s late inning collapse against the Angels wasn’t the thing he had planned for even though Junior Lake powered his fifth home run of the spring season. The Cubs had the Angels on the ropes up until the ninth and well, that’s when the inexperience kicked in and cost them the win.

The Cubs and the Padres came to a draw in the late game. Which really didn’t equate to much being the “prospect” game. A chance to see what will be in a couple of years or next, who knows?

The three players I believe will make the biggest impact this year are Mike Olt, Justin Ruggiano and Emilio Bonifacio. Third base is a wide open position with it coming down to Luis Valbuena and Olt. The Cubs would make a huge mistake not putting Olt at third. Nobody’s expecting much from the Cubs this season(except for me), so Olt needs to get into the frying pan. Valbuena could be the utility guy.

Emilio Bonifacio is going to be a Jose Reyes type of player. He’s got the speed and he’s going to get the Cubs the runs. if he’s hitting in front of Starlin Castro, this could be a very good one-two punch situation. I liked Starlin in the leadoff but Emilio would be well suited in the role. It’s highly unlikely that Starlin is going to have another year like he did last season.

Here’s the thing; it’s foolish to think that the Cubs will be as bad as they might look, but it’s also foolish to believe they’re going to finish at the top of the Central. It’s just a damn hard division. However, this is not just any ordinary season. This is 2014 and Wrigley Field is 100 years old. There’ll be plenty of off field celebrating but there very well could be some enthusiasm on the field too. Javier Baez will be playing sometime or another and players like Anthony Rizzo(who I did pick in my Fantasy League) are going to bring their bats this year because they have nothing to lose. The Cubs can’t afford to coast through the season and wait until next year, they have to prove that they’re the team of the future.

2015 is going to be huge for them. How huge? A lot of the young guys will be up and playing but for now, this season is all about teaching them how to win.

The Cubs won’t be as bad as the Brewers. Junior Lake is on a hot streak. Mike Olt has something to prove and so does Castro so how could the Cubs lose this year?

Believe me when I say that the Cubs could be a Wild Card team.

—Mark

Sweeney is Out of This World

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It could easily have been the Sweeney Cubs vs the Houston Astros yesterday at Wrigley Field. Ryan Sweeney collected his third home run and added six RBI’s as the Chicago Cubs went on to rout the Houston Astros, 14-6.

“You’re talking about a guy that sees pitches,” Dale Sveum said. “He’s a heck of an outfielder. The key thing that we don’t have in the organization is left-handed bats. He brings that facet to our game.”

Jeff Samardzija earned his fifth win of the season as he fought hard for seven innings. I highly doubt Samardzija’s name will be brought up when it comes to the all star game next month but even though his numbers aren’t in the top, he has been outstanding for this team. I really do hope that The Shark and Nate Schierholtz receive some mention.

A 14-6 dismantling is a rare accomplishment these days for the Cubs and much of the credit has to go to Ryan Sweeney who has really stepped into David Dejesus’s shoes since Dejesus was injured.

“I got into some good hitter’s counts,” Sweeney said. “We had some runners on base on second and third. The first couple of weeks I haven’t been so good with runners in scoring position, but the last couple of games I have tried to focus on that and get those guys in.”

Aw Shucks.

It was also nice to see Tony Rizzo add four runs including his twelfth home run of the season.

“It’s going to test our character from here on out, and we’re all in this together,” Rizzo said. “We all have got to pull for each other and have each other’s back. That’s for any team you go on. If you don’t have each other’s back, then get out of here.”

I think though the improvement of RISP 6-11 yesterday is the key. You have to move the runners and it showed against the Astros. Yeah, I know the once mighty Astros are struggling this year, but it’s against these teams that the Cubs can try and mix things up and have fun against. Don’t get me wrong Astro fans, but for a team like the Cubs with a lot of young players it’s yesterday’s games that will show what the future can bring.

The Cubs have an off day before heading to Milwaukee to face the Brewers tomorrow. Edwin Jackson gets the start and game time is 8:10 eastern.

—Mark

The Fantastic Mr. Feldman

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I’ve read somewhere that the Cubs rotation is pretty weak. It hasn’t been in 2013 and it certainly wasn’t bad yesterday as Scott Feldman and the Cubs proved to the New York Mets that they’re for real in an 8-2 victory.

Scott Feldman was fantastic on the mound as well as behind the plate. He knocked out a double in the fourth inning that could have been a home run.

“I got myself into some trouble in the first couple innings, but was able to right the ship at the right time and make a pitch when I needed to,” Feldman said. “After those first couple innings, guys were running down those balls in the outfield and making plays.”

Ah, Scott’s humble too.

The win yesterday improves Scott’s totals to 4-0 for the season. Way to go Scott,”Mr. Fantastic” Feldman.

Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

Meanwhile, the newly inked Anthony Rizzo, added to his totals, sending his tenth home run into the bleachers for a souvenir. Nate Schierholtz collected his fifth home run of the season.

Yup folks, the Chicago Cubs are on a roll stretching their record to 18-24. You know what the best part is?

We’re better than the Brewers.

The Cubs finish up with the Mets today, then a break tomorrow before an important three game series with the Pirates starting Tuesday.

Game Time today is at 2;20 eastern.

—Mark

Cubs Come From Behind

David Dejesus was amazing last night. It was a cold night in Chicago and David Dejesus was great.

The Cubs came from behind to beat the Brewers 6-3 in front of a sparse chilled crowd at Wrigley Field.

“Unbelievable,” Castro said. “I’ve never been cold like that.”

What was more unbelievable was that Starlin Castro continued his lack of discipline which led to a Brewers three run inning earlier in the game. Here we go, I’m going to rail a bit on Castro.

I think the kid’s got talent. I think he’s a great shortstop but his lack of control and either he’s injury prone or prone to committing errors(I’m trying to make a connection to his inability to focus on the tasks at hand.) I understood that he made mistakes a few years ago, he was a rookie, but now he’s the cornerstone of the franchise and so he’d better be like a well-oiled piece of baseball machinery or perhaps, the Cubs might be more well suited to trading him.

Maybe I’m too hard on him.

David Dejesus was clearly the best player last night going 3 for 5 with two runs.

The thing to take away from last night’s chill fest is that this is the second game where the Cubs came from behind. Opening Day they lost but there’s nowhere to go but up.

They finish out the series today with the Brewers and then it’s the Champion Giants coming to town tomorrow!

—Mark

Wrigley Field Home Opener

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We have a tradition in our household. Every year, we book off work and enjoy Chicago Cubs baseball on their home opener. it’s a chance to ring in the new baseball season and an opportunity to spend time together. it’s also a great way to say, “We’re not going to work today because we’re watching baseball!”

This year, the Cubs face the Brewers. Edwin Jackson gets the call to the mound for the Cubs in what could be a rainy Opening Day. it’s Edwin Jackson’s home debut and it’s a great way to kick things off at Wrigley Field.

Yesterday, News came out that Carlos Marmol isn’t the closer and Fujikawa is in. This really isn’t a surprise since Carlos has been brutal this spring. I hope he can rebound and find out the tools that were broken.

“I’m excited about it,” Jackson said of his home debut. “It should be a fun time for everybody, the home opener. We get to officially start the season in front of our home crowd, I’m sure they’re excited as well. It should be a good time. Hopefully the weather permits us to play.”

—Play Ball

Mark