Edwin Jackson Licks His Wounds

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It was a test of the bottom feeders in Milwaukee last night and even though the Brewers won the game 6-1, it was hard not to think about who really won the game. Did the Cubs win because they lost adding to the column or did the Brewers win in the standings? The game didn’t matter last night except when Edwin Jackson was pulled in the fourth inning.

To be fair, Jackson walked three and committed an error. He wasn’t having a good game and Hey, that happens. Shake it off and get ready for the next game.

“He was already at 75 pitches, and I felt as many one-run games that we play and in this ballpark, I was going to take a shot at tying it back up and making sure we score that one run,” Dale Sveum said. “He was at 75 pitches, and he wasn’t happy with coming out of the game at that point and not getting to five innings. You respect that about players who want to stay in the game, and I made that decision.”

It used to be that every player who came up to the plate was Starlin Castro, but now our three year old son has a new player and his name is Junior Lake. I just thought I’d mention that.

Jackson has 16 losses which isn’t good, but it doesn’t reflect his pitching at all. As every one knows in baseball circles, the Cubs haven’t had the most memorable season in the win category and with 12 games left, sometimes it’s better to head to the locker room and lick their wounds.

Jeff Samardzija gets the start tonight at 8:10 eastern.

—Mark

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Cubs Looted

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Are there signs of improvement in this young Cubs organization? After yesterday’s 3-1 loss to the rival Pittsburgh Pirates, it’s looking like things could be turning around for them.

“Those guys, they’re good, they’re hot,” Cubs catcher Welington Castillo said. “They’re playing good. Those hitters are not easy to get through. … Sometimes you don’t get good results, but when you throw your best pitch with conviction, then whatever happens, you’ll be happy because you threw it with conviction.”

Yes, the Pirates are probably playoff bound and yet the Cubs seem to be holding their own. Left hander Chris Rusin is staking his claim in a constantly changing rotation by keeping the surging Pirates to a low four hits. That’s pretty amazing considering the Cubs rotation has been “evolving” this season and hopefully things will be solidified this off season.

“It was probably, to me, his most impressive outing against a lineup that has numbers against left-handers that’s impressive,” Dale Sveum said.

Although the Cubs didn’t win and really it’s not to me the most important thing at this time in the season. It’s about finding the right pieces for next year.

Some support from one of my favourite players in the game Andrew McCutchen

“I’m sure they have a lot of good talent,” McCutchen said. “And they’re going to continue to get better. It takes time. It takes time getting guys comfortable, and getting feet wet just performing.”

Will it take the Cubs twenty years to get better? I hope not.

Jake Arietta gets a shot at redemption when the Cubs continue the series tonight 7:05 eastern.

—Mark

Cubs left in the Cellar

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs

It was Scott Baker’s first start in a long, long time. Well, August 8 2011 to be exact. He played well with five scoreless innings, but the Cubs couldn’t hang on for the win as the Milwaukee Brewers downed them 3-1 Sunday.

“First time out, he did a great job and we’ll leave it at that and evaluate going forward,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.

The Cubs have put themselves in a situation where anything can happen. This year has been a huge transition time for the Cubs. All the trades they’ve made and the lineup changes. Plus, the Cubs have had some great surprises in Junior Lake and Nate Scierholtz. They’ve also had their share of disappointments in Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro. Could Starlin Castro be on the move next year? He signed a big contract, but in today’s game that means nothing. Even the starting rotation will see some changes.

“I’m just going to go in the offseason with eyes open and ears open,” Jeff Samardzija said. “It’s no secret I am where I want to be and doing it the way I want to be doing it. That hasn’t changed. We’re pretty close to where we need to be, and I want to be part of that for sure.”

That is exactly what the Cubs have been doing this month, evaluating. They also have the opportunity to play that most awkward word in sports–spoiler.

Tonight, the Cubs go to Cincinnati to try and topple the Big Red Machine .2013. I’m not a big fan of the spoiler moniker, but c’mon, September is the perfect time for the Cubs to do this. I believe it’ll be a great moral victory to see the Cubs determine who will be the National League Central Champion.

There’s twenty games left in the season so this should be interesting to see what happens. Travis Wood gets the start. Game time is 7:10 eastern.

—Mark

Lake Runs Deep

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Chicago Cubs

It’s kind of odd watching the Cubs play at this time of year. The bleachers are half empty, apparently getting children off to baseball practice or waiting in line to pick them up at schools seems a lot more important than watching the Cubs. However, for those of us who watched the game yesterday witnessed the Cubs put on a clinic for the Milwaukee Brewers beating them 8-5 in front of that sparse crowd at Wrigley Field.

School was in for newcomer Junior Lake as he belted out his first career grand slam. It’s a shame that he wasn’t around since the start of the year, he most definitely would have wound up with Rookie of The Year considerations.

The most impressive thing about Junior Lake’s game is his unselfishness. With two men on base in the third, Lake decided to bunt. He could have tried for another Home Run, but instead he proved to millions of Cubs fans why he’ll be around this ball club for many years to come, and perhaps, be there when they win it all.

“I know I can hit another home run,” Lake said, “but it’s not about me, it’s about the team. I think it helps the team if I bunt for a base hit or make a sac bunt.”

It’s September baseball in the windy city. No Magic Numbers, no packed stadiums and a little chill in the air reminding everyone to book their Cubs Convention tickets for the winter.

“If you’re not finishing first or going to the playoffs, it’s not a good season, no matter how you look at it. We’re trying to do some things and win that game that day.” said Dale Sveum.

Who knows? Maybe when baseball expands the next time around, they’ll add a few more playoff spots for the Fall Classic.

The Cubs are playing for respect today at 4:05 eastern time when Jake Arrieta tries to pull ahead of the Brewers in the battle in the basement game.

—Mark

The Cubs Get Caught by Marlins

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The Cubs are a funny team. Far from playoff contention and yet, us fans still keep clinging to the faint hope that there might be some little glimmer that we can see in the final month of the regular season. Yesterday, the Cubs lost to the Miami Marlins 4-3. What made it worse was Bobby Hull’s erratic seventh inning stretch.

You’ve probably heard the expression, “Doing it for pride” The Cubs and their loyal fans must be feeling very proud indeed.

“After the first four hitters of the game, we didn’t put together anything,” Dale Sveum said. Things certainly did start well for the Cubs but things weren’t looking up for the rest of the game.

September is a month where some players are playing for jobs into next season while others are padding their statistics. For the Cubs, this will be a great chance to show some mettle. Yeah, Travis Woood, didn’t earn a quality start, but he’s played a great season and I hope he’ll be back next year.

In fact, that’s a good point. Very few players on this club are notched in for the long haul. During my vacation, David DeJesus became a Tampa Bay Ray.

“There are a lot of guys playing for their careers, including myself,” Dioner Navarro said. “I’m trying to take advantage of every opportunity I get. We’re a young team and trying to rebuild, if that’s what we want to call it.”

Dioner raises an interesting point. Are the Cubs rebuilding? Are they really? I’m not being pessimistic but can a team keep using that same excuse for the last few seasons? A team like the Cubs have a wealth of resources or should. The Yankees have remained consistently strong throughout the years, so why can’t the Cubs?

I don’t have that answer. I think the Cubs are almost there and they’ve played some really good ball this year and of course, some not so great ball.

A funny incident happened to me in Boston when we visited that beautiful city of theirs, I was walking by a café with my son Darcy and he was wearing his Cubs cap and I was wearing mine, two symbols of hardship and adversity and a little pride. A father and teenaged son were sitting at the window drinking their Mocha’s and the father pointed to me and I pointed to him, that “Acceptance Point” the gesture that says, “Someday, the Cubs are going to win and that day will be awesome!”

—Mark

You Can Never Go Home

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So, there is proof that maybe, just maybe the Cubs might want to inject their team with some youthful energy instead of ejecting their fearless manager Dale Sveum. Yesterday, the Cubs were humbled at home by the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1.

Another loss at home and the funny part is that the Cardinals and the Cubs have almost mirror records. The Cardinals with a 71-52 record and the Cubs with a 53-70 record. Junior Lake got three hits including an RBI double, now how’s that for youthful energy?

There was an amazing highlight in yesterday’s game when Anthony Rizzo probably made the catch of the year in the fifth inning going after a Molina pop up. The catch was made on top of the dugout. Way to hustle Rizzo!

“We seem to get guys on base enough during the game, but we’re not getting those runs in. or that three-run homer to break a game open or that two-run double or anything from anybody,” Dale Sveum said.

So now that Sveum has identified the problem, how does he go about fixing it? Well, he gets ejected. Donnie Murphy checked his swing in the seventh inning, but the umpire called him out.

I wasn’t going to get started on instant replay in Major league Ball, but I think it should happen.

I think it’s crazy that it hasn’t all ready happened in the game, but it’s a step in the right direction.

now for the Starlin Castro situation. I think it’s horrible that a guy as talented as Castro makes the errors that he does and yet, he’s still up there playing. I like the kid and so does our son, but putting Castro back in the lineup kind of sends a clear message that there might be a lack of discipline happening. What’s wrong with putting him down in triple A for a few games? This late in the season it’s not going to matter much, but it will help the kid get on track and fix those costly mistakes that he’s been making all season. Maybe even pairing him up with a veteran who can guide him and mentor him? Mario Lemiux did that with Sidney Crosby. It could work.

The Cubs will try to get back on track tonight when Jeff Samardzija gets the start against the Washington Nationals. Game Time is 8:10 eastern
—Mark

Cubs Tired of Starlin Castro

What to do about Starlin Castro? Is it time to trade him? Yesterday, Starlin Castro “Fell asleep at the wheel” in the fifth inning in a 4-0 loss to the much maligned St. Louis Cardinals.

It’s been a lesson in discipline for the young shortstop since coming up to the big leagues in 2010. His, “blunderings” continue and now it could be perhaps, time for him to go. His 60 million dollar contract with the Cubs might be an albatross of sorts, but I’m sure there’s a few teams who could use a talented shortstop.

Let me set this up: Bases loaded and Cardinals have the lead 1-0. An in field pop up to Castro. One out, but Castro didn’t see Jon Jay running for home. Castro realized his goof but it was too late. Jay scores the run.

“I knew the outs and everything, but I put my head down and made a mental mistake,” Starlin Castro said. “I don’t want to make any excuses for that. It’s my mistake, and that’s why I paid for that — that’s why I came out of the game. I feel really, really bad that it happened, especially with Woody pitching good.

The only problem with that Starlin, is you’re in the big leagues now. If that were say, Junior Lake? We’d forgive him but you’ve been up in the majors for a few years now so there’s no excuse for those types of plays. Sorry Dude, that doesn’t cut it.

“There are only so many meetings, so many things you can say,” Dale Sveum said. “When you’ve played this much baseball, you have to do it yourself.”

So, do the Cubs try to deal him in the off-season? or should they stick with him one more year. I’ve got a funny feeling that Theo Epstein won’t hesitate to look at someone else in the shortstop role.

The Cubs will try to rebound today when Edwin Jackson takes to the mound. Game Time is 2:20pm.

—Mark