Cubs Get Dealt A Lesson By The Padres

Chicago Cubs vs Padres

Apparently the rust is still there during their travel day. The Cubs were outmatched by the San Diego Padres despite two home runs by Dexter Fowler and Chris Coghlan. The Cubs should have won that one and now are 4 1/2 games behind the Cardinals.

“We gave them that game, we should’ve won that game,” Jason Hammel said. “Everything we did tonight, there’s no way we should’ve lost that game.”

The perils of a young team will be shown throughout the season, there’s no question about that. When the Cubs win it’ll be streaky and when they lose, it’ll be rookie mistakes. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a chance competing, but their probable destination of a wild card spot will be close because teams like San Francisco will be able to catch a young squad.

“If we’d just caught the ball tonight, we’d have won that game. We’ve given too many games away this year, whether it’s pitches by the bullpen — tonight it was defense. We have to tighten it up all the way around. That’s how you stay hot.” Joe Maddon.

That says it all. For a team like the Cubs, they have to be able to fire on all cylinders. Sure, some great teams have gotten by on great offence and great defence alone, but for the Cubs, they don’t have the experience to not be able to work both sides of the plate. The good news is that Joe Maddon and his team of coaches have done an amazing job in keeping everything light but oiled like a machine.

On a side note, the Cubs moved Welington Castillo to the Mariners for  RHP Yoervis Medina. Much has been said about Castillo and I liked him but I think there wasn’t any room for the guy. He needed a change of scenery. He wouldn’t have gotten any playing time in Chicago under David Ross and Miguel Montero.

So, as we wake up early in Flint Michigan and have a quick breakfast at Rotten Ronnie’s, we can’t wait for the next time we visit the Windy City and check out a game.

Believe it

Cubs and Pirates Duke It Out in Rival Fashion

Chicago Cubs

It was a game the Cubs should have won but instead it was the Pirates turn to fight back to a 5-4 victory in yesterday’s midday game. It was the first time this season the Cubs have lost back to back games and are the last team to uh, achieve that.

It was one of those games that the Cubs should have won, but I’ve got a sneaky feeling that these two teams will be battling each other out all season long. It was that kind of game.

“I have no complaints about our team right now. We got beat today. They came back and beat us. We probably took the first two away from them, they took the last two away from us and that’s how the division is going to play this year. That’s just baseball there. At the end of the day, if you’re sitting here, when your team plays with that kind of heart and determination on a nightly basis, you’ll take it.”Manager Joe Maddon.

He’s right. I have no complaints about yesterday’s defeat. The team continued to get awesome playing from their depth guys like Chris Denorfia’s hall of fame worthy grab. The Cubs haven’t had that kind of play in recent years, but the guys like Chris Coghlan, Miguel Montero,and Dexter Fowler have proven that the Cubs are a force to be reckoned with. Maybe Maddon’s willingness to have three catchers in Montero, Welington Castillo and David Ross has proven an effective strategy?

So, I like it when pitchers go deep into games. I’ve admired a pitcher’s ability to be an Iron Man in the game. To me, a complete game is the key statistic in any club’s capabilities to go deep into the playoffs. This is another reason to appreciate Kyle Hendricks.

“We’re obviously not performing as we should as a whole,” Hendricks said of the rotation. “I can only speak for me, specifically, but getting deeper in the games as a staff, in particular, and keeping the team in the game, we have to start putting up some lower numbers overall. It’ll come. It’s still early and we’re still getting that feel. It’s starting to come around.”

It’s that kind of attitude that makes a pitcher bring out the Pledge and the dust cloth for a new trophy on the mantle.

Believe it.

Cubs Keep It Close in Loss To Reds

Chicago Cubs Welington Castillo

The Cubs are quickly gaining the reputation as a great finishing team. Even though the team fell to the Reds last night 3-2, the Cubs never lost composure and never felt like they were out of the ball game and if it all came down to Aroldis Chapman ruining a great comeback for the club, then fellas, that’s an honour.

“If we keep giving that kind of effort all year long, I’ll be very happy,” Chicago manager Joe Maddon said.

Because you know, it’s that kind of effort that will keep the team in ball games all season. It was that amazing turn of events in the eighth inning by Welington Castillo with a two run rocket, that kept fans from leaving the park. If fortunes were reversed, then the team would have continued for a third game of a comeback in late innings.

“I can help the team win by doing little things like today and Sunday. Why not? I can still be part of the Cubs. Any time I get my chance, I’ll do my best to win the game and help my teammates.” Castillo said.

Welington Castillo is caught between a rock and a hard place. The team needs an anchor behind the plate. Lester needs David Ross, but the Cubs need the leadership that Miguel monitor can provide. If having three catchers gives the Cubs more options, then it’s a really good situation to be in.

“At the end of the day, they put some good swings on balls that were off the plate,” Arrieta said. “Their guy [Anthony DeSclafani] was tough. He pitched a really good game, stayed out of the middle of the plate, and had some good life on his fastball. From start to finish, they were solid.”

The Cubs are half game back of the Reds. It’s still too early for any kind of competition and the parades haven’t dusted off the floats. You know, those 1908 floats are really creepy looking right now.

Today is Jackie Robinson Day all around the big leagues. Travis Wood gets the start. 8:05 eastern.

Believe it

Cubs Learn More In Defeat

Jon Lester, St. Patrick's Day, Chicago Cubs

Jon Lester is human. There, I said it finally. It could be the dry desert sun or chalk it up to spring training fatigue, but yesterday, Jon Lester was bad.

Perhaps. Five runs on seven hits? Those aren’t good odds, and that’s all right. Lester has to get used to Castillo. It’s not going to be easy, but the season is 162 games.

“I’d throw a pitch, throw it where I wanted, stay behind the ball, throw it well and two pitches later, I’m back to 2-1 or behind in the count, whatever the scenario was,” Lester said. “Nothing today was crisp, things were flat, up in the zone. I was just not able to repeat and make pitches and minimize damage.

Isn’t there an old saying that goes,”You learn more in defeat than in winning.”  so many people have put their own spin on that phrase. They should bottle that phrase and put it into the spring training definition. That’s the mantra of Cactus/Grapefruit League.

This is the second time that Lester has worked with the Duke Welington Castillo.

“I’m the one chucking the ball,” he said. “He’s not.”

Even though they say the Cubs could carry three catchers, I’m still thinking Castillo will be catching for another team.

Hey, maybe Lester should throw a learning curve ball? To be fair to the Cubs, the Padres are expected to do big things just like the Cubs, so if anyone is going to shake things up for the team, it’s the Padres.

“I have a hard time stepping back and going, ‘It’s just Spring Training,'” he said. “The competitiveness and wanting to succeed is always there, whether it’s now or October.”

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. The day St. Paddy drove the snakes out of Ireland, brought Christianity to it or sat down with a pint of Guinness. It all depends on your take of things but one thing I know is that today, everything is green in the baseball world.

From Green caps to clovers, it’s a celebration of spring and baseball so pick your favourite game and enjoy a pint.

Believe it.

Chicago Cubs Can’t Catch a Break

Spring Training, Chicago Cubs, Welington Castillo

Did everyone watch a lot of baseball yesterday? Tomorrow is the big day when the Chicago Cubs play a split squad against the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics in Spring Training action. I could talk about everything that’s exciting about this year’s edition of the Northsiders, but faithful readers, you all ready know that.

Instead, let’s talk about that situation behind the plate. What to do, oh what to do?

Currently, the Cubs have three catchers in Welington Castillo, Miguel Montero and David Ross. The Chicago Cubs don’t need three catchers and more than likely, Welington Castillo will probably find another club to play for come Opening Day.

It’s unfortunate, but a reality and I’m sure he knows that.

“If Castillo is on the team as a third catcher, it will be difficult to get playing time,” Maddon said. “Off the top of my head, it would be a situation where we’ll have to find a spot for him to start. You’ll probably want to run for David Ross, you’ll probably want to run for Montero late in the game. You’d probably not be concerned at all about putting Welly back there because of his throwing ability and blocking ability.”

Now, going from a starter to a backup is probably not the situation Castillo would like to be in but the problems the Cubs are facing so far are very good problems to have.

“This game has a really cruel way of answering questions, and that’s why, right now, this is all theoretical stuff, and I get it,” Maddon said. “‘I don’t know’ is my best answer.”

Look at their pitching scenario. The five spot is a mess now that the Kyle Hendricks Experience is all but locked into the four spot. I think it’ll be wise to stick Travis Wood in there over Edwin Jackson.

Jackson needs to regroup this season and find his groove. I’m rooting for him but as Joe Maddon says,

“This game has a really cruel way of answering questions.”

Believe it

Cubs Will No Longer Be Compared To Model T

51covv23cubs2

So now that the dust has settled and the holiday season just got better with the “official” announcement that Jon Lester is a Chicago Cub, what will the team do next? They’ve signed Jason Hammel and Miguel Montero and increased the Vegas odds to 12-1 but does this really make them instant contenders?

What about the Sports Illustrated cover with a focused Jon Lester? Will it be another curse or can the Cubs pull off the impossible and collect their first World Series win since the Model T rolled off the assembly line.

Travis Wood could and Welington Castillo could wind up in a Phillies uniform and Cole Hamels might land on the North Side. Of course, I’m a firm believer of sticking to the game plan. The Cubs have a good thing going right now and if people have put their expectations on high because of all these exciting things that have taken place, then it’s their own fault. Just like Christmas morning when Ralphie wanted that Red Ryder BB Gun in A Christmas Story , it’s not the end of the world if the Cubs don’t wind up wearing a World Series ring.

Before the Cubs sign any other player, they have to decide what they’re going to do with Mr. Edwin Jackson. If there’s an achilles heel on the team, it’s him. Sorry Edwin, there’s no other way but to be blunt. There’s still some good stuff left in your arm, but you just don’t fit in a rotation that has the talents like, Lester, Hendricks, Arietta, Wada and Hammel.

It’s impossible and probably those same folks who put the Vegas odds at 12-1 knew it too. You’ll do well elsewhere, I know it.

The best thing the Cubs can do is lay low and build that game plan with the players they have now. Will they win the World Series? Perhaps. There’s even rumblings of Colby Rasmus joining the team and folks, that would be interesting.

Nothing’s guaranteed except the 2015 edition of the Chicago Cubs is going to turn some heads and be one exciting team.

Believe it,

Mark

If You Were The Cubs, What Would You Do?

dt.common.streams.StreamServer.cls

The Cubs have been rumoured of late to having an open wallet ruing this potentially game changing off season for the team. It’s been awhile since the club has made any kind of huge deal sending an all star to the team for a lot of money.

Wait, he just retired this week.

It’s going to be a long winter. I don’t even bother listening to weather reports. I check the Cubs news, baby. Are the Cubs going to land Russell Martin? They could and it would be a great signing for the club. Of course, starting pitching is a gaping hole that needs to get patched up before this club can do any damage in the playoffs.

It’s great to see that Tom Ricketts is on Theo’s side. I’m not entirely convinced that Russell Martin is the guy for the Cubs. Sure, he comes from my hometown, he’s good. Really damn good and would be an amazing asset to the team, but I also think Welington Castillo is doing a fine job behind the plate.

“We do have a lot of dry powder, and (Epstein) has a lot of flexibility this offseason. If there’s a free agent that comes up that makes sense, I’m sure he’ll be aggressive in trying to get there. “But obviously the problem is there are 29 other teams that would like to have new starting pitchers. There’s always that factor, and you have to be rational while you’re being aggressive.’’ Ricketts said.

They need to stick to pitching. If they land the right free agent, it’ll definitely solidify the rotation. Imagine a rotation with Hendricks, Wada, Arrietta, (Yes Edwin, you’re invited too) and a Scherzer, Hamels, Lester or Shields. That’s pretty darn impressive and can compete with the best of them. All right, but where does that leave Travis Wood?

Here’s my dream scenario and I’m just some poor schmuck fan boy freezing his butt off waiting for spring to come around.

Find a team that’ll take Edwin Jackson off the Cubs hands. It’ll be hard yes, but not impossible.

Keep Welington Castillo behind the plate as the starter. He made great leaps and strides last season and might get better.

Go after James Shields. Yes, I know Lester has a history with Epstein, I like you Theo, but until you’re wearing pinstripes and walking to the mound breaking another pitcher’s heart, Joe Maddon’s the boss.

The Cubs need Shields.

Believe it.

—Mark