Wada Win For Cubs

CT cubs04.JPG

Yesterday was, perhaps a turning point in the future of the Cubs. Darwin Barney is now an LA Dodger and most likely going to have his first shot at a post season. This is baseball, right? Anything can happen.

The Cubs soundly beat the Colorado Rockies in a suspenseful game if you include that eighth inning bases loaded Anthony Rizzo at the plate kind of nail biter. Of course there wasn’t a grand slam, I mean this is the Cubs right? for a brief moment, the friendly folks at Wrigley almost witnessed a chance at immortality for their young captain.

Tsuyoshi Wada collected his first win as the Cubs beat the Rockies 4-1 and earning his first win.

“I appreciate that the Cubs used me again after that outing I had [against San Diego], which wasn’t very good,” Wada said “My command was definitely better than last time, and it’s the second time I pitched in Chicago, so I was a little more relaxed. The last time I was more excited and anxious about that game.”

The Cubs have virtually no chance at a post season, but stranger things have happened to this club. With the Dodgers signing Barney and the deadline fast approaching, who should the Cubs deal? Is it Nate Schierholtz or send Junior Lake down? Schierholtz is on a bit of a hot streak lately, but I think he’s good trade bait.

“When you have players who are working together over time, continuity does seem to help,” manager Rick Renteria said. “You can’t guarantee that change won’t occur after the Trade Deadline. I wish I could tell you that I have a crystal ball and I know exactly what’s going to happen, but I don’t.

All right Ricky, I’m going to tell look into my crystal ball and see what’s going to happen.

I see a lot of smoke. I see a face. A big C on a shirt. Bonif, oh no wait…

Baez.

The ball is cloudy, I see no more.

Believe it.
—Mark

Cubs Out of The Frying Pan and Into The Friar Against Padres

CT cubs-padres29.JPG

That was a tough one, no doubt about it. The Padres pounded the Cubs 8-3 it was almost a polar opposite to the night before where the Cubs treated the Padres like a Pee Wee team. Ah, but such is life with an up and down baseball club. Tsuyoshi Wada wasn’t as lucky as Kyle Hendricks in getting his first win.

“It seemed like he just didn’t get into a rhythm,” Rick Renteria said of Wada. “When you were watching him on the mound today, he was constantly fidgeting and it seemed like he was trying to get loose. He was grinding through it.”

There was some good news within the organization yesterday. Prospect, Javier Baez was conveniently moved to second base at Triple A Iowa. Hmn, one day removed of Darwin Barney being Designated For Assignment and Baez being moved to Second Base. It doesn’t mean a thing, but—

“The Baez second-base thing is really more big-picture than anything else,” Jed Hoyer said. “We want to increase his versatility. We thought it was the right thing to do to start putting him there. … These moves are not connected.”

So why did they make the move if they weren’t going to make a decision on something? Everything has a reason and moving Baez to second more likely than none means someday soon, we might just see Baez in one of those nifty retro uniforms.

Hey, what about Brian Schlitter’s awesome grab yesterday? As Jim Deshaies so astutely commented, “It’s an add for Selsun Blue!”

It’s Edwin Jackson on the mound tonight. Should be interesting.

Believe It.

—Mark

Cubs Crystal Ball looks Clearer. Bye Bye Barney

San Diego Padres v Chicago Cubs

It’s amazing what a day can do. The Cubs designated Darwin Barney For Assignment, Anthony Rizzo became the National League Home Run leader and Arismendy Alcantara decided on his own that he wants to remain a Cub as the NorthSiders toppled the Padres 6-0. Wow!

Kyle Hendricks received his first win as well. Now, I’m not looking into a crystal ball, but suddenly things are looking a lot clearer than they have in the past. Nobody likes to be a “Told You So” either, but if you nice folks have been following closely, you would have saw that The Canuck Cubbie foretold Darwin Barney’s departure.

But nobody likes a “Told You So” right?

“We’re starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “‘Mendy’ coming up is helpful. The way Rizzo and [Starlin] Castro are playing is great. I think, in the not too distant future, [the prospects] will be out there.”

See? I’m not the only one. Hey, it’s a good sign when a player gets a nickname from the GM. That says, “Yeah, you’re in.”

So, what exactly happened to Darwin Barney? I’m reaching out because I honestly don’t have an answer. A former Gold Glove Winner who seemingly could do no wrong on the other side of the plate, just couldn’t hit the freakin’ ball this season. Never a power hitter, his AVG never reached .250 but he was just plain bad. To be fair to the guy, he was still great on defence, but I don’t know, there was something missing this year.

Welcome to the big leagues Mr. Hendricks, your first win is out of the way and many more to come.

“It’s definitely a day to remember,” Hendricks said. “It’s definitely the best day of my life. First Major League win, it’s what you work for since you were a little kid playing T-ball. I really can’t put it into words — it’s awesome.”

Speaking of T Ball, my son and I were hitting Wiffles in the backyard yesterday and for a three year old, Darcy can sure give Rizzo a run for the money. He went yard twice too. I tell you, the kid sure can hit.

Anthony Rizzo takes over the Home Run lead with 25 dingers. Is a possible MVP in the works? Can the Cubs make a turn around and win it all? Will we see a Javier Baez appearance?

I’m looking in the crystal ball, there’s still a lot of smoke. It’s swirling. Wait!! I see pinstripes, I see Ivy, I see lots of people smiling.

That’s all you get.

Believe it.

—Mark

Diamondbacks Rear Their Ugly Head Against Cubs

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Arizona Diamondbacks

Last night’s game wasn’t pretty. Sure, Castillo’s home run was awesome and Starlin Castro going 2 for 4 showed promise but for some reason, the lowly Diamondbacks seem to own the Cubs. I don’t know why that is, but numbers don’t lie and since the “Big” trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, the Cubs have lost 10 of their last 12. Yes, Arizona beat up on the Cubs 9-3.

That’s disgusting. There’s no getting around that. I do have sympathy for the Cubs but they should have won those last two games against Arizona. However, “Should” has been scratched out, deleted and wiped from the books of baseball. It just simply does not exist. I’ve looked it up. You do the same.

I thought about not writing a post about last night’s game, but old habits die hard.

“For me, once we lost Hammel and Jeff, it’s a big gap to fill in the rotation,” Travis Wood said. “For sure, I really want to go out and give seven, eight innings as strong as I can every time and so far it hasn’t been happening. Like I said, I promise we’ll get there.”

He should know. There was a point in last night’s game when Welington Castillo went to the mound to have an old tete a tete with Wood, but you know that hurler just didn’t want to come out of the game. He’s been a struggling warrior all season and guys like him will turn their game around.

I’m holding out hope that Theo Epstein will pull the trigger and bring Baez up to get his feet wet. It’s inevitable because I’m confident Darwin Barney and possibly Nate Schierholtz will be packing their locker soon.

Folks, believe me when I tell you that good times are coming for the Cubs. Anthony Rizzo is in a position to lead the National League in Home Runs and although he went hitless last night, Arismendy Alcantara has got that explosive potential to be an all star.

“We still have to have conversations to see how we’ll go. It’s one of those situations where it’s still day-to-day.” Rick Renteria said.

All right, I was singing Mike Olt’s praise at the start of the season, but he’s faltered and gone cold. I think the Cubs shouldn’t make a quick decision on his future but he might be one of those sleeper players that a couple of years down the road might mature into something great.

Believe it.

—Mark

There’s Always This Year For Cubs

There’s a trade deadline fast approaching. Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel have all ready headed to the west. So, do the Cubs make another move? Well, the Cubs have a lot of holes to fill but deciding who will stay and who will go is going to be harder than finding the wins in the left column of the standings.

It shouldn’t be that hard of a choice. There’s a lot of players to choose from. Let’s start with Darwin Barney. A great defender considered one of the best in the majors and I’ll bet a dime to a dollar that he’s a great guy to boot any team will be glad to have him. Does he fit in the Cubs plans? No. His plate contributions haven’t been up to snuff this season and the Cubs have a well publicized stockpile of talent waiting in the wings. DARWIN BARNEY-TRADE

Nate Schierholtz is another guy who has stalled this year. He’s been getting better but not the same player he was a year ago. He’ll be gone.

Now for some of the difficult decisions. Junior Lake. After an explosive debut last season, the Lake’s run dry. He’s frustrated with his play and that’s a tough spot to be in because the talent is still there and he’s young so it wouldn’t benefit him or the Cubs to be in a situation where his confidence is not there. I’d shop him.

The team will have to make room for Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Javier Baez. Fans have been waiting a long time for them and soon it’ll be that time.

It’s a great time to be a Cub and unless you’re Edwin Jackson with an embarrassing contract hanging over your head, this time next year the Cubs will be in the hunt. Fans across the nation and beyond(with the exception of those pesky Cardinals) should wish them well.

But wait. Didn’t they say that last year? “There’s always next year” has become a mantra in the blue pinstripes and red “C” but next season the Cub will grow into a bear and it will be playoff hunting season.

Believe it.

—Mark

Cubs’ Samardzija Slay The Giants On Memorial Day

Chicago Cubs v San Francisco Giants

Everybody loves an underdog story. Hollywood is riddled with them. They inspire and bring audiences to tears with their emotional wallop. Films like Rocky, Rudy and Forest Gump strive to not just pull at our heartstrings but to yank them. The Cubs did that yesterday.

They came from behind. They went the distance just like Rocky. The “Little Guy” getting a chance to play like Rudy. The Ordinary Fella doing extraordinary things like Forest. Most importantly, the Chicago Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 8-4. First versus worst.

The Shark Samardzija got his first victory. Nate Schierholtz banged his first home run of the season and the Cubs proved that they’re not just plucky guys but a pretty good team.

“It was nice to get him the first win before June,” said Darwin Barney, part of the sudsy shower, Samardzija’s first since his rookie year when he picked up his first save, July 27, 2008. “I think it was on his mind a little more than he put out just by how happy he was today and the fashion that it went down.”

This was a very big win for the Cubs. Bonifacio hit a triple and the Cubs did what has been eluding them for a long time now, they scored with Runners In Scoring Position.

“I usually get mad at other things,” Samardzija said. “I get more mad at myself than bad pitch selections. Throughout the year, I feel I’ve been happy with how I’ve been pitching. The ball just hasn’t bounced my way. I wanted to keep my composure. You learn a lot about yourself in this game. When you come out of it and do things like this, you feel better with how you handled it.”

The Cubs handled it well and the only other thing that can happen this year would be a true Hollywood Ending.

—Mark

Cubs Seeking A Giant Win

I’m not even going to talk about Manny Ramirez signing with the Cubs. Whoops, I just did. Is this a good thing? Will it make a difference in the organization? Nobody will know and if perhaps, Manny eventually returns to the big leagues, I do believe in second chances and if he can contribute in any way, then it is a good thing. However, if he ends up “Manny being Manny” then see you later. Or it could end up, “Theo Being Theo”

Look it, the Cubs are doing the right thing. I believe that and I believe in the system. The organization has had struggles for a long time and with the core that is waiting in the wings, there’s no denying the Cubs are going to be among the elite clubs soon. I can promise you that. Sure, Jeff “The Shark” Samardzija is searching for his first win of the season, it doesn’t mean he ain’t a great pitcher. He’s working his ass off for the team.

“He’s the best pitcher in the league right now — American League, National League, Japanese league,” Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney said. “The wins will come. It’s one of those funny things — some days you come out and put up five runs in the first two innings, and it hasn’t happened for him yet.

The Cubs have one of the top rookies in the league with Mike “The Connecticut Crusher” Olt and one of the most exciting first basemen, Anthony Rizzo. Oh yeah, and that young kid called Starlin Castro who can cause bigger headaches than Pabst Blue Ribbon is putting together one heck of a season. Plus, the Cubs have a pretty decent support staff. The wins will come. I said right at the start of the season that it very well could be an individual effort this season. An extended spring training, a scouting report if you will. So, bring up Javier Baez and see what he’s got!

Yeah, today’s series isn’t going to be easy. The Giants are living up to their namesake, but if the Cubs can chip away this series and get some pop well, most of us know what happened in that biblical tale.

–Mark