Cubs Give Warm Welcome To Edwin Jackson

Chicago Cubs

I feel bad for Edwin Jackson, I really do. He struggled playing with the Cubs and yesterday, he struggled against the Cubs. The guy can’t catch a break. The Cubs  handed Edwin a parting gift of back to back home runs from Miguel Montero and Jorge Soler as they went on to defeat the Atlanta Braves 9-7.

If the Cubs make it to the World Series, it’s because of their ability to bounce back in games and seize that momentum. They’ll jump all over a mistake. The fell behind 7-3 in the fifth, but clawed and scratched their way back.

“That was a really good win for us,” said Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. “When we go down like that [in the fifth], we just needed a run or two to scratch away.”

Addison Russel connected with a solo shot that went under review after it was thought that there was fan interference. A problem that at Wrigley Field this year. Remember Keith Hartley?

“I thought I had a pretty good shot, and watching Maybin go back, I thought he might have had a chance at it,” Addison Russell said. “I thought maybe it might be in the basket, maybe it might not be, but I’m glad it was ruled that it went out.”

Do we need to worry about Dan Haren yet? Again, is there a strong case for bringing Travis Wood back to the rotation? It could have came down to two things in the short outing.; Either it wouldn’t have mattered what was being thrown over the plate because the wind was a certain factor and batters were hitting everything that was coming across the plate or like Kyle Hendricks yesterday, these two games have exposed the Cubs’ flaws.

“Obviously, I’d like to do better, be out there longer and stuff like that,” Haren said. “When it comes down to it, when we’ve got 40 or 50 games left, whatever we’ve got left, it’s just about winning games. I think everybody has to just put their self… wanting to do good for themselves behind them and just go out and just do the best they can for the team because that’s what it’s about at this point in the year.”

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Should We Call You Ace Arrieta? Cubs Say Goodbye To Edwin Jackson

Chicago Cubs

On a day which saw Jake Arrieta and the Chicago Cubs beat up on the Atlanta Braves 4-1, it was announced that Edwin Jackson was Designated For Assignment. Two of the worst kept secrets in baseball has finally come to to the surface.

Arrieta’s role as ace of the Cubs was cemented in yesterday’s victory. He struck out ten, but most importantly, where he wanted the ball to go, it got there. Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s going to come in handy should the Cubs seal a spot in the Wild Card.

“He’s just figuring everything out right now,” Joe Maddon said. “I hate to tell you, but there’s more in the tank there, and another level. As he gets more self awareness and is able to deal with all these weapons that he has, he’ll get better.”

Get better? huh? This was his eleventh victory of the season. That coming in a season all experts were predicting that the mighty Jon Lester was going to light it up for the North Side crew.

Part of Arrieta’s success could come from that icy stare on the mound. I wouldn’t want to meet that in a dark alley so imagine the batter’s who have to look at that. No other pitcher shows zero emotion like Jake does.

So Edwin Jackson is no longer a Cub. That’s right, the often travelled and equally chastised pitcher was sent his walking papers yesterday.

“It stinks but it’s the business part of the game,” Jackson said. “I’ll be all right, the team will be all right. Hopefully in my time here, I left some kind of positive influence on some of the guys. They can continue to keep it going and proceed to go ahead and prosper in the game.”

His record was 14-33 and a 5.58 ERA. Nobody is certain why Jackson’s number’s were so high, but I felt the bullpen might have sparked a rejuvination in him. Sure, I picked on him in the blog, but all truth be told, he’s a good pitcher. For some reason, he just couldn’t get things working in the Cubs organization. There’ll be another team picking him up and I wish him all the best.

“He’s one of the best human beings I’ve ever been around,” Arrieta said. “We’re very close, and our families are really close. The off-the-field stuff is a huge part of what makes that situation so difficult.”

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Cubs Look Forward To Second Half

Kris Bryant Chicago Cubs

Now that the 86th All Star Classic is under wraps for another season with the American League winning 6-3, Let’s shift focus to the second half of the season but first, Kris Bryant has to make the case for one of the coolest and sweetest moment in the Home Run Derby.

As Cub fans know, Kris’s Dad was pitching to him. There was a point during the At Bat when Mr. Bryant got distracted and the cameras caught Kris cupping his hands and yelling,”Dad, Dad!”

A very tender moment.

Now, the second half:

The Cubs are a very strong team. They’re young, talented and hungry. However, there’s a little thing called the TRADE DEADLINE which is coming up soon. So, where can the Cubs improve and what is needed going forth into the second half?

Closing has been an issue. The Cubs have been uneven. Could they utilize Edwin Jackson a little more? Is Jason Motte the guy?

For me, the Cubs have been good enough.  However, I believe the Cubs can be better and potentially snag top spot in the Central.

You think I’m crazy. Insane perhaps? The Cubs are only eight games back of the Cardinals but the Red Birds have lost three in a row. Now, the surging Pirates have found their groove so it won’t be easy.

Here’s what I’m thinking. The second half rides almost entirely on Lester’s shoulders. He has to get his head back in the game. The hopes and dreams weren’t about the young Cubs. We knew that they were going to have to find their footing. no, it was their ace Jon Lester that was going to lead the way and provide that “lights out” kind of feeling.

There’s also a chance that Kyle Scwarber could make another appearance behind the plate with the unfortunate injury to Miguel Montero.

“There’s the old thing about a different bus driver every night — I kind of love that,” Maddon said. “When a team is going well, you talk about how every night there’s a different hero. That’s what you’re looking for, because you don’t want to lay it on one guy. For us to get this thing done, we’ve got to spread it out.”

Who’s going to be that hero?

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There’s No Place Like Home For Cubs

Chicago Cubs Wrigley Field

Maybe we should start calling Miggy “The Magnificent” add it to the long lines of cheesy nicknames to pro athletes. Yesterday, Miguel Montero destroyed the ball with a three run homer to help the Chicago Cubs defeat the Cincinnati Reds 6-3

“It’s just about being more aggressive at the plate and being ready to hit,” Montero said. “Before that, I wasn’t ready to hit, and I was probably over-thinking. I was probably trying to think along with the pitcher instead of staying in my approach and staying just looking for one pitch to hit. Just see the ball, hit the ball, rather than think with the pitcher.”

Now, baseball is a funny game. We know it, the players know it and now the statisticians know it as well. Montero is the first player to hit a home run in the new bleachers with fans in attendance.

What?

An area of concern for the Cubs is Tsuyoshi Wada He didn’t get the win last night and was pulled relatively early, even for Wada. Was he rushed back into the game? in many ways, I think he should go to the bullpen and have Edwin in the rotation. You know, just to mix it up.

“Wada struggled tonight, and it’s going to happen as a starter — we’ve all been there,”Travis Wood said. “I was just happy to step up and eat some innings there and keep us with the lead. The rest of the bullpen did their job as well.”

Remember when I said that baseball is a funny game? Well, it can also do funny things with your mind. If a pitcher thinks they’re throwing their best stuff and it’s just not getting across the plate in the right way like for example, certain umpires not calling strikes when apparently they are strikes. Well, that just isn’t right. That’s baseball. For that, it’s got a lot in common with golf. Looks easy, but it ain’t.

“It wasn’t as bad as the last game,” Wada said of his 3 2/3 innings against the Nationals on June 5, when he gave up five runs on nine hits. “I just can’t make the adjustment. It’s not the way I pitch. I just can’t find it right now.”

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No Joy In Mudville For Cubs

Chicago Cubs Pittsburgh Pirates

“There was no joy in Mudville that day” The Cubs fell short last night 4-3 to the Pirates. However, that being said, there were some great moments in the game including a real seventh inning stretch of sleet.  Kris Bryant had an opportunity to play the outfield.

“Why not?” Bryant said. “I actually like center a lot better than the other two because you don’t have to deal with the hooks of a righty smashing one down the left-field line, or a lefty smashing one down the right-field line. It was cool out there. Center field is fun.”

There it is. the tone that was missing in a lot of last season and before, optimism. Now, speaking of optimism, let’s talk about Addison Russell. He notched his first major league hit last night. A drive up the middle, and even though it wasn’t a gamebreakinig connect, it’s out of the way and he can concentrate on other things.

“It feels really good to get that first one out of the way,” said Russell, “We’ll just have to see where we go from here.”

There was some bad news with Dexter Fowler. He was yanked after two innings due to a tightness in his groin. It could have been the weather or something else but it doesn’t appear to be too serious.

“We’ll see how it feels when I wake up Thursday morning,” Fowler said. “I stole a base and stuff after [he felt it]. It didn’t really bother me running too much. It just started tightening up a little bit.”

The Cubs are playing a matinee today and I’ll tell you, I would love to see MLB have more day games in April. It look pretty damn cold out there.

So then there’s Edwin Jackson. Who would have thought that he’d be pretty darn good in the pen? Yeah, I guess the cries for his head will stop because it seems like the pen is the place to be for him.

“Jacks is starting to take to it,” Maddon said of the right-hander’s switch after eight seasons as a starter.

Believe it.

Cubs Can’t Wait For Bryant

Joe Maddon Chicago Cubs bleed cubbie blue

As far as professional sports franchise go, the Chicago Cubs are probably the most storied team. Yes, that’s right I said it. Yesterday, Travis Wood and the Cubs lost a tough one to the Colorado Rockies, 5-1. Now, I say “tough one” not because the Rockies are on fire in this young season, but there were some oddities at work here. Let me start with Starlin Castro.

He made a crucial error in the game where the ball seemingly went right through his glove in what was just another routine play. Sure, you can chalk it up to leftover rust, but c’mon, he’s been doing this for a few years now and has quickly turned into the kind of player that no team wants. Yeah, he’s good but those mental mistakes should not happen at this stage of his baseball career. If the Chicago Cubs have any hope of winning the World Series, then he’s got to get rid of those mental mistakes quickly. Swearing into his glove is just not going to cover those mistakes either.

Now, in many ways I bleed cubbie blue just like the rest of Cubs fans who are die hards, but sometimes there is only so much we can give. I’m not talking about the team as much as Starlin Castro. The season is young so I can forgive the mistakes that a young season brings, but with Starlin Castro?

Get it together.

Another area for concern was the missed opportunities.

“We keep putting ourselves in position and battling and getting good at-bats,” Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo said. “We just have to learn to capitalize more on pitchers and when they’re in trouble, not us. We’re not the ones in trouble at that time, that moment. We had the pitcher on the ropes a few times and didn’t come through. If we keep giving ourselves opportunities, good things will happen.”

And I believe that too. Hey, it was good to see Edwin Jackson in his new role. I’m a believer that good things will happen now that “EJax” is putting a shift into his game.

Now, there’s a bit of a problem with RISP. It’s been a problem the last few years, but that’s practice. Once guys like Soler, Rizzo and when Kris Bryant eventually gets up then those things will iron itself out.

“I liked the way we went about our business,” Joe Maddon said. “We just couldn’t get the hit when we needed to.”

Kris Bryant, where are you?

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Cubs Brace Themselves For Opening Night

Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks

Opening Night is one day away and we know one thing for certain, Edwin Jackson will start in the bullpen as Travis Wood snags the five spot in the rotation.

“We want to make sure Edwin stays stretched out so he can go back in the rotation if necessary,”Joe Maddon said. “He was very, very professional about the whole moment.”

It kind of was expected and after yesterday’s outing against the Diamondbacks in a 5-1 loss, if Edwin were a Jedi Knight, his destiny would have been fulfilled.

Wood crushed the ball in the third to tie up the game but it wasn’t enough. However, I think they should continue using Travis in the leadoff role. Oh C’mon, I’m joking!

So, this is it. This afternoon, the Cubs will square off against the Snakes in what might resemble less of a Mutual of Omaha documentary and more of a Lorne Greene’s New Wilderness(Just bringing out the Canadian in me, and my age-yikes!)

Tomorrow, it all begins. Where are you going to watch the game MLB.TV or are you going to be there? One thing is for sure, and that is this year is going to be bittersweet should the Cubs go all the way. The tributes to Ernie Banks tomorrow are going to be felt throughout the nation.

“We wanted to try to figure out a way to do something that’s celebratory,” Cubs spokesman Julian Green said. “That’s the important piece in terms of the thinking going into it. We went through the mourning period, mourning and grieving. Now we’re talking about the celebration of his life. I believe that what we’ve put together will be a great celebration for those fans who knew him personally or knew of him or had the opportunity to watch him play or see him on TV.”

Fall Out Boy will be there and of course, Ernie Banks #14 will be worn on the arms of each player and the hearts of Cubs fans throughout.

Now, about that construction…

Believe it.