Cubs’ Jon Lester Struggles Continue

Jon Lester

I guess the Chicago Cubs didn’t get the memo, you know the one that mentions Yoenis Cespedes most powerful arm? Yeah, and he threw Junior Lake out at home. Now I know you might jump all over me when I say he should have stayed at third but with Cespedes out there, that’s exactly what he should have done.

The Cubs were beaten 6-0.

Jon Lester had his work cut out for him and lasted only five innings before being swapped for Edwin Jackson. Yeah, a multi kajillion dollar pitcher being switched up for another multi kajillion dollar thrower.

“Detroit’s always been a tough one for me — I don’t know why,” Lester said. “I guess it’s one of those teams that you struggle with.”

It’s not one of those teams “You struggle with” Ok, I’m a little miffed at that statement. Whatever Lester is struggling with, he’s got to fix. Pronto.

There are other pitchers on the squad that will steal his thunder like Mr. Arrieta and Jason Hammel.

All right, so I have to give Jon some credit. He shoulders the blame by taking responsibility for himself. I do know that he’s working on his stuff and he’ll get better.

“It’s not good,” Lester said of his recent outings. “I’m not getting deep into games. Regardless of runs, hits, errors, walks, strikeouts, whatever, I’ve got to do a better job pitching innings. That’s what it comes down to.”

He’s probably at this moment going over the video of last night’s job and he’ll get better. Being the number one guy does not mean throwing a 90+ speedball is going to get an out everytime. Be creative like Kyle Hendricks.

I’m just some poor schmuck from the really cheap seats in Canada whose only 90 mile an hour pitch only comes from a sneeze. It’s easy for me to say this but from where I’m sitting, Jon Lester doesn’t look so good. I’ll tell you what , I’m challenging you. Anytime, anywhere. I bet you I can hit one of your awesome pitches.

Believe it.

Junior, Go Jump In The Lake

Junior Lake Chicago Cubs

Did anyone ever tell you to go jump into a Lake? Well, apparently last night Miami decided to tell Junior to do just that. Well, in case you missed it, Junior Lake decided in his infinite wisdom to just blow Miami a kiss as he turned third base after a lengthy home run. Miami downed Chicago 7-3

Listen, I don’t care who you are but I don’t enjoy grandstanding in any sport. Hit your home run and jog the bases. Score your goal and skate to the bench. Oh, don’t get me started on those touchdown end zone shenanigans. Have respect for the other team.

Why?

The pitcher just tipped his cap to you, the goalie is still shaking his head at how that went through the five hole and the defence is probably catching their breath watching you sprint 70 yards.

“I just spoke to [Lake] and spoke to him during the game,” Joe Maddon told reporters. “We don’t do that here and that will be the last time you see it. I did tell them at home plate during the scrum. I told Chuck Hernandez because that’s who I saw. I said, ‘It’s our fault and we’ll take care of it.”

Sometimes though, major leaguers lose sight of the professionalism that athletes have to carry once they make it to the pros. In any case Junior, part of the reason you’re not in the permanent lineup like say, Fowler, Bryant and Soler is just that.

Anthony Rizzo has started every game because of his skill, but also his attitude.

“I don’t want us to take a page out of ‘Major League’ and flamboyantly flip a bat after a long home run,” Maddon said. “I don’t want that at all. That has nothing to do with us ascending. I would even like to use this moment for our Minor League guys, that [flipping the bat] doesn’t play. For our kids watching, it doesn’t play. Don’t do that; that’s not cool. It’s very, very much not cool. If you’re watching the game back home in Chicago tonight, don’t do that.”

Junior, that’s not cool.

Believe it

Is Lester a Bust For Cubs?

Jon Lester Chicago Cubs

Are we putting too much pressure on Jon Lester? Last night, the Cubs fell to the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4 in extra innings. I get that it’s a new team and I understand that the adjustments from American League to National League can take a while but seeing that it’s only two months into the season, is it too early to do something about it?

“I don’t know if pressing is the right word,” Lester said. “You come to a new team, new guys, new city, new everything and you want to get off on the right foot. Everybody knows with the contract stuff, I defintely don’t want to be one of those guys who at the end of it, you look at it as a bust.”

You can certainly see the reason folks might start calling him a bust. So, it raises another question and that is are these huge contracts putting too much pressure on the player and the fans judgements of that player? Now, I’m not questioning whether Lester is a good pitcher or not because he is. It’s the size of these contracts that could be putting the pressure on them. All right, Lester’s a pro and he should be able to settle in a groove soon. He’s a notoriously late starter but does that make it all right? What if they put him down in the rotation?

“The biggest thing we’re waiting on is the first hit,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “That will truly get the monkey off his back.”

Another issue that’s plagued the Cubs recently which was of a main concern last season was Runners In Scoring Position. However, last night Junior Lake put an end to that which is another issue with such a young squad.

“It’s obviously a little bit frustrating but I believe part of it is the inexperience and youthfulness of a lot of our hitters,” Maddon said. “I know we’ll get better at it. If you believe in the law of averages and things starting to catch up, the game owes us a little bit. You’ve got to be encouraged that you can hold serve through this particular moment.”

Nobody said that 2015 Cubs edition was going to be easy.

Believe it.

Len Kasper, the Cubs and I in The Chatting Cage

This was a great chat with  and the Edward Jones Chatting Cage. Check out the 11:49 mark of the video for a question by yours truly.

Two of the best broadcasters in the game, Len Kasper and  Love em! Hey Jim, my favourite player was Guy Lafleur too!

The Cubs have hit 24 home runs this spring. That’s a lot but then again, there are certain factors to that total. Of course there’s a steady stream of pitchers trying to crack the rotation so it’s not always a case of, “Lights out” stealth.

Yesterday, the Cubs cruised past the team that shares a city the White Sox 10-7.

Players trying to crack the team like Junior Lake, who’ll more than likely start the season in Triple A, hit a two run double. Then there’s Arismendy Alcantara crushed a two run homer in the seventh to break a tie.

Do you think he’ll make the team? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

So, I’m liking the idea of keeping both Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood. I like this idea a lot.

“There’s different ways to utilize both of them,” manager Joe Maddon said Friday. “It’s hard to say they’re both starters, but we’ve talked about different ways to make it fit.”

Why not keep both of them and rotate that five spot.

A)They’re both pitchers going out this season with something to prove.

B)Edwin Jackson has shown flashes of being amazing this spring. Plus he’s a pitcher who can hit.

C)Joe Maddon is known to be a creative guy, so why the heck not?

Another problem is Javier Baez. He’s struggling to find his groove. Should he start in triple A? Perhaps. The numbers don’t lie. Baez is 3 for 30 and you don’t have to be a baseball aficionado to realize that adds up to well, as my son would say,”That’s a potty word, Daddy”

Javier Baez knows it and he’s a pro. If this were the regular season, he’d be in a whole lot of potty words. Fortunately, this is spring training and now’s the time to spend on the potty.

“I talk to him all the time,” Starlin Castro said. “It’s tough. I try to tell him to try to get his confidence. No matter what, if you strike out every day, look for your confidence. When you’re confident, something good is going to happen because you trust yourself. I think he’s a little lost at the plate right now, but that’s what I tell him, try to get your confidence back and you’ll be all right. And don’t think too much. It’s Spring Training, we’re here to learn.”

Believe it.

Straily Struggles For Cubs

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As debuts go, there are great debuts like Guns N Roses, “Appetite For Destruction” with its searing guitars and howling vocals and then there are the kind of debuts which aren’t as well known. Dan Straily’s debut last night after being acquired from Oakland was one he would have liked to get back.

“It felt pretty new until I got going,” Straily said. “Once I started playing catch, it was another day of baseball. All day today, it felt pretty new. The excitement of getting to pitch for a new team and all that good stuff that goes along with it. It’s just not the way I want to finish.”

Ah, but such is life with the Cubs in August. The call ups and debuts. Experiments and mishaps. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is all good. We all know and expect great things from the Cubs soon but last night’s game was tough.

“I’m sure we’ll see him again,” Rick Renteria said. “He gave us a good look.”

Their record, 52-70 resembles my golf score, but thank God this isn’t golf.  The Cubs are continuing with the call ups by bringing Matt Szczur. A guy with a batting average of .292 in July.

Baseball’s a long season, ask my wife about that one, so it makes sense for the Cubs to revaluate the team to see what works and what doesn’t, give some of the guys a rest and when you’re not in a race, there’s no point risking any kind of injury.

The Cubs have some major decisions to make and I wouldn’t want to be in Theo Epstein’s or Jed Hoyer’s shoes at all. Optioning Junior lake to Iowa was definitely the right choice. Being the arm chair manager that I am, Lake was awesome last year and provided a much needed boost but taking a year to figure out what kind of player he is shows that last year’s excitement was just that.

“Any time you have someone who has been with you as long as he’s been with us, and you send him down late, it’s obviously disappointing,” Renteria said, “but I think he understands he’ll get some at-bats and he knows he’ll be back.”

I doubt it.

Speaking of Edwin Jackson…

Believe it.

—Mark

 

Cubs Wood If They Could

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It’s amazing what a couple of days can do to the Cubs. Last night, the Cubs fell to the Mets 3-2. A close game and you have to hand it to Chicago, they.ve been keeping it relatively close all season. However, Travis Wood is having a rough season. Yesterday, I railed on Edwin Jackson, but can you blame me for that? Travis Wood is a far more consistent pitcher, so yesterday’s struggles were more forgiving.

“Walks killed me,” Travis Wood said. “If you take out half the walks, it’d be a pretty solid game. That was the game. I had the two walks to start the fourth and the guy hit the ball out of the park. I gave up four hits, and one of them happened to be a long ball with two walks, and that was the game.”

The great news in the loss is the triple team of Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro did it again for the team. Castro went 2 for 4 quietly putting together a banner season for the kid.

It’s going to be a rough finish to the season, but an exciting one when the Cubs bring up Dan Straily who was brought over in the Jeff Samardzija deal. This is one Cub fan who is excited about the struggles the team has faced all year. Bringing the young kids up like, Kyle Hendricks, Javier Baez and now Dan Straily is proving the Cubs aren’t throwing in the towel. This is Wrigley’s 100th birthday and even though the team isn’t,” there” just yet; there’s something around the corner that’s exciting. There’s a plan coming to fruition. Whether it’s sending Junior Lake to Triple A. This is a team that wants to succeed.

Last year, it was Starlin Castro who struggled and this year it’s been Lake that’s had to learn how to hit. Sending him down was a good thing, the right thing to do.

“We tried to do everything we could throughout the course of the season, especially early, to put him in a decent place,” Rick Renteria said. “Obviously, it’s very difficult for the young man. Right now he’s a little disappointed, but I think he’ll catch a breath of fresh air, play again, get some at-bats, have some fun again, and we’ll see him here soon.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs decide to ship the young outfielder during the off season.

Believe it.

Mark Gauthier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wada Win For Cubs

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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