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Browsing posts from July, 2011

Who Will Replace Mike Quade?

By bullpenbrian - July 31, 2011 - 1:01 am Leave a comment.

It’s obvious the Cubs are no longer playing hard behind Mike Quade, which despite all the losing, was the one thing the skipper could hang his hat on this season.

However, the Cubs’ lack of focus and general disinterest during this five-game losing streak has become frightening.

It’s more than just poor fundamentals, lack of talent or speculative trade rumors. It’s unprofessional. It’s the definition of embarrassing–far more than any earlier point in the season.

During this horrid streak we’ve witnessed poor base running—guys thrown out at third and home plate. Countless fielding errors. Poor starting pitching. Poor relief pitching. Wasted at-bats, and a complete loss in motivation and drive to win games.

At the surface it all seems status quo for a team 23-games below .500–the Cubs are a bad team playing bad baseball. But dig a little deeper and we see a team crumbling apart at its core…a team with no heart or desire to continue playing hard for the man in charge.  

Of course it’s not surprising the season has slipped to such depths. What else would one expect from a team destined for 100-losses?

But if this losing skid has shown us anything, it’s that Quade’s tenure as manager is speeding towards its end–or at least should be.

That’s not to say it’s all Quade’s fault. We know better. But someone must come under the gun for the plethora of excuses to go around. And that someone is usually the manager.

Relieving Quade of his duties is the Ricketts family’s first step to stop making excuses, begin a changing of the guard, and start building a winning culture, all of which the Ricketts have promised to do.

The time to deliver has grown long overdue.

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Mr. Cubs Race!

By bullpenbrian - July 30, 2011 - 2:01 am Leave a comment.

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Sayonara, Fukudome

By bullpenbrian - July 29, 2011 - 2:01 am Leave a comment.

Kosuke Fukudome

Fukudome With Cubs:

*Increased batting average & HR total in first three seasons with a consistent OBP.

-2008: (150 G) .257, 10 HR, 58 RBI….359 OBP, 12 SB *All Star

-2009: (146 G) .259, 11 HR, 54 RBI….375 OBP,  6 SB

-2010: (130 G) .263, 13 HR, 44 RBI….371 OBP,  7 SB

-2011: (87 G)  .273,  3 HR, 13 RBI….374 OBP,  2 SB

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More Fuk

-Leaves the Cubs riding a 5-game hitting streak.
-Hit leadoff in 69 games, batting .268 (71-for-265).
-Drew a walk in 42 of his 86 games with a plate appearance.
-Batting .324 with two-outs.
-14 multi-hit games.

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Mike Quade The New Rod Marinelli

By bullpenbrian - July 28, 2011 - 2:01 am Leave a comment.

Mike Quade is the Rod Marinelli of baseball, keeping continuous optimism despite long odds in the face of reality.

Marinelli’s Detroit Lions famously finished the 2008 season winless at 0-16. Quade’s crew is racing towards baseball’s equivalent of 100-losses.

Like Marinelli, Quade refuses to face the music, which is admirable to some degree, but the rest of us, including Cubs players, acknowledge this season is long gone…and has been for some time.

Quade’s denial of the real situation–the Cubs stink–is disheartening. And his unwillingness to address reality is reaffirming the notion Quade isn’t cut out for the job, which is tough to swallow for a guy who’s likeable, but seemingly in over his head.

So while Cubs fans discuss whether or not the team should hold a fire-sale, Quade talks about contending, the same way Marinelli stood at the post game podium and spoke of winning ways on Detroit’s horizon.

I’ve been torn on whether or not Quade will return as the Cubs skipper. And to a large degree, that has a lot to do with whether or not Jim Hendry returns as the GM.

However, Quade’s blind optimism has done little to inspire the Cubs play. They’ve followed up the season’s first three-game winning streak with two poorly played games in Milwaukee…the beat goes on.

Marinelli lasted three rounds before his dismissal in Detroit. Quade, however, won’t be as fortunate. His unwavering optimism appears to be the fatal blow to a one-&-done stint on the North Side.

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How is it the Cubs pursue Jason Frasor for three years but the White Sox land him in a trade for Mark Teahen?

The hometown kid, Frasor, who grew up a Cubs fan mind you, is a very serviceable right-handed reliever. He’s posted a 2.98 ERA in 44 games…pitching in the AL East, nonetheless.

Teahen, meanwhile, has had trouble keeping up with his $4.75M contract hitting .203, 3 HR, 11 RBI in 51 games. And he’s due $5.5M in 2012!

At first blush, if Teahen was all it took to land Frasor it’s hard to believe the Cubs couldn’t make a better offer this season or in years past.

A real head-scratcher if you ask me.

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Corey Patterson A Cardinal

The former Cubs outfielder was traded today from Toronto to St. Louis as part of an eight-player swap.

-Blue Jays get: CF Colby Rasmus, LHP Trever Miller, LHP Brian Tallet and RHP P.J. Walters

-Cardinals get: RHP Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, LHP Marc Rzepczynski and Corey Patterson

Patterson this season:
.252, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 13 SB, 89 games.

-First chance to boo Patterson at Wrigley Field: Friday August 19th.

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Soto, Aramis & Peter Gammons

By bullpenbrian - July 27, 2011 - 1:15 am 1 comment.

It’s been an up and down season offensively for Geovany Soto. But the catcher has steadily improved since returning from a strained groin and trip to the DL in mid-May.

Soto’s hit so well as of late Mike Quade inserted him into the cleanup spot Tuesday night in Milwaukee. He went 1-for-4.

Since his DL return, Soto is batting .258 with 6 HR and 15 RBI. But the real progress has come during the last week with Soto hitting .333, including a 12-for-33 mark during the recent homestand.

However, as I’ve said before, Soto’s true value, as with any catcher, isn’t his offensive numbers. It’s what he does behind the plate for the Cubs’ pitching staff…a thinned-out rotation that posted seven quality starts over the 10-game homestand.

The 28-year-old backstop is doing a fine job calling games, blocking pitches in the dirt and gunning down nearly 30-percent of would-be base stealers. None of which can be overlooked.

Soto’s been a model of progress since his off the field troubles two years ago and a guy I hope the Cubs hang onto for years to come. Whatever comes of Soto offensively is simply icing on the cake.

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All About Aramis

Aramis leads the Cubs with 9 HR and 22 RBI this month, which is also the most home runs this month in the majors.

In addition, Ramirez leads MLB with 9 HR coming on the first-pitch, including his first inning 2-R blast Tuesday night in Milwaukee.

That’s the most first-pitch home runs for a Cubs since Derrek Lee clubbed 11 in 2009.

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The Cubs are 15-25 against the N.L. Central. That ties for the second-most losses against a team’s own division with Baltimore, Colorado and Kansas City.

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Peter Gammons

-“If the Cubs put Garza on the market, they wouldn’t get what the Rays got,” said one GM on Monday. Sam Fuld has really helped. Nineteen-year old shortstop Hak-Ju Lee is hitting .324 with an .822 OPS in the Florida State League, and one scout who watched him recently says “he has a chance to be a star.”

Outfielder Brandon Guyer is hitting .305 with an .875 OPS in the International League, has already hit one homer for the Rays and plays hard all the time. Fireballing right-hander Chris Archer has had an inconsistent Double-A season, but throws 92 to 95 mph with a 90-mph slider and likely will be an important player by 2013, possibly at the end of games.

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Casey McGehee

-Brewers infielder cherishes time with son who has cerebral palsy.

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Wire Watch

-Yankees activated 3B Eric Chavez from the 60-Day disabled list.
-Orioles activated DH Vladimir Guerrero from the 15-Day disabled list.
-Tigers outrighted 3B Brandon Inge to Toledo Mud Hens.
-Reds recalled Yonder Alonso from Louisville Bats.

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Wild Thing & 100 Cub Losses

By bullpenbrian - July 26, 2011 - 1:15 am 2 comments.

The numbers don’t lie. The Cubs are practically sprinting towards a dismal 90-loss season, even on the heels of its first three game winning streak. And assuming the Cubs become sellers later this week, a 100-loss campaign seems even more likely.

The Cubs (42-60) have 60 remaining games.
Through the first 60 games: (24-36)
Through the last 60 games: (23-37)
On Pace for: (66-96)

The Cubs have spent just a single day above .500–Wed April 20th.
They’ve been shutout six times.
Are (8-18) in blowout games (5+ runs).
And (13-17) in 1-R games.

-Home (25-31)
-Road (17-29)

-Inter-League (5-10)

-April – (12-14)
-May – (11-16)
-June – (11-18)
-July – (8-12)

-First half – (37-55)
-Second half – (5-5)

(1-5) vs. St. Louis
(2-6) vs. Cincinnati
(3-6) vs. Pittsburgh
(4-3) vs. Milwaukee
(5-4) vs. Houston

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WILD THING

Former Cub Mitch Williams calls for Quade’s head and top-down approach to reshaping the Cubs organization on Dan Patrick Radio show.

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Spoiler Alert, Caballo & Fukudome

By bullpenbrian - July 25, 2011 - 1:15 am Leave a comment.

It only took 102 games, but the Cubs finally made it three straight on Sunday.
Ten times prior Chicago failed to make it three in a row.
It’s the club’s first winning streak since October 2, 2010.
And the first home winning streak since September 1-4, 2010.
The last sweep of Houston at Wrigley came during July, 2007.
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Cubs finish the 10-game homestand (5-5).
Florida (1-3), Philly (1-2), Houston (3-0).
Chicago’s rotation posted seven quality starts.
That wraps up the longest homestand of the season.

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Spoiler Alert

Chicago is primed to play NL Central spoilers with a three-way tie atop the division. The next 13 games are against divisional foes beginning with a 10-game road trip through Milwaukee, St. Louis and Pittsburgh.

On Sunday Pittsburgh knocked off St. Louis in 10-innings. The Reds also won in dramatic fashion with a Drew Stubbs walk-off HR in the bottom of the ninth vs. Atlanta. Milwaukee, on the other hand, lost 2-1 at San Fran. 

Pit .525  x
StL .525  -
Mil .524  -
Cin .495  3.0

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Trade Bait

Kosuke Fukudome hit .280 on the homestand, 7-for-25.
4 walks, 3 runs, double, triple, RBI.

For the season:
Has a .371 OBP.
Hitting .272 vs RHP.
Hitting .273 vs LHP.
Drawn a walk in 42 of 84 games played.

Four teams are interested in Fukudome according to Bruce Levine of ESPN 1000.

-In Japanese baseball, trading players is considered an unusual circumstance and is even actually a bit of an insult. However, after watching teammates like Derrek Lee, Ryan Theriot and Ted Lilly get traded last year, Fukudome seems to understand that trades are just part of MLB’s business culture.

“It really doesn’t bother me,” he said through his interpreter. “As long as I’m a player and people are interested in me, I take it as a compliment.” -Fukudome

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El Caballo

What on earth has happened to Carlos Lee?
His go-ahead HR off Samardzija on Sunday is just his 7th of the season.
He’s 35-years-old and owed $18.5M in 2012, the final season of a 6-year deal. 

2006 – 37 HR, 116 RBI, .300
2007 – 32 HR, 119 RBI, .303
2008 – 28 HR, 100 RBI, .314
2009 – 26 HR, 102 RBI, .300
2010 – 24 HR,  89 RBI, .246
2011 -  7 HR,  51 RBI, .277

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Seattle’s skid hits 15

Hey, the Cubs aren’t so bad. At least they’re not Seattle.

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Wells & The $80 Hot Dog

By bullpenbrian - July 24, 2011 - 1:59 am Leave a comment.

It’s been three months since Randy Wells pitched like we expected him to.
At last he managed to get out of the first inning unscathed–seemingly a first.
Then put it on cruise control for another five frames.
It seems so simply for this guy…get through the first, get a win.
But the question remains…will Wells repeat his success?

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Samardzija
The kid continues to improve.
Another strong outing Saturday, earning his 6th Hold of the year.
He’s held opponents to a .201 avg. in 55.2 innings of work.
That’s the 5th lowest mark for any reliever with at least 50.0 innings pitched.
He’s finally showing the Cubs he’s major league caliber.
I had plenty of doubts that would never happen.

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Big Geo says winning three in a row isn’t mentally important for the Cubs.

-“Not really. Three in a row hasn’t happened yet, but we don’t look at it that way. We’re not really concern. We just want to have (good) ballgames and try to get into a rhythm. We’ve been on and off the whole year and we just want to have a mental breather to just get into rhythm, get everything to click and have everything go our way for a little bit.”

Love Geo, but I couldn’t disagree more. The Cubs desperately need a winning streak. Not for contending, of course, but to avoid the disaster of a 100-loss season, which grows more likely with each passing series.

Winning builds confidence…not mental breathers…not luck. Getting things to go your way means playing good, sound, fundamental baseball.

If the Cubs aren’t worried about stringing three wins together, shame on them. It’s late July for goodness sake, the failure to win three straight should be eating them alive mentally.

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Speaking of three straight…the Cubs won’t have a better chance at bowling a turkey than Sunday. Houston has lost 14 of its last 18 road games and six straight overall.

With Garza on the bump, there’s no reason the Cubs shouldn’t sweep this series against the major’s worst club.

Quade needs it more than ever. How can you bring a manager back that hasn’t won three straight or swept a three-game series, especially at home? I don’t think you can.

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NL Central Race
St. Louis is reminding the Pirates who the big brother is of the Central division.
Despite sell out crowds in the Steel City, the Cards have handily taken the first two
games of the weekend series…jumping Pittsburgh for the division lead in the process.

Pujols, Berkman and Holliday are all healthy and swinging the bats well. A sure-fire sign the Birds are poised for a run.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee, tied for the lead with St. Louis, continues to tread water. Cincy, however, can’t win back-to-back games to save their lives.

Is it time we’ll see St. Louis pull away?

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The $80.00 Hot Dog!

-The foot-long wiener will get the royal treatment. After deep frying, it will be rolled in truffle oil, then coated in porcini dust. The dog is to be topped with white truffle shavings and crème fraiche. If that doesn’t gild the lily enough, the frank will be finished with caviar and fresh roe.

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Mr. Cubs Race!

By bullpenbrian - July 23, 2011 - 1:01 am Leave a comment.

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Cubs 100th Game On Friday

By bullpenbrian - July 22, 2011 - 1:00 am Leave a comment.

Pillow Fight of the Year
-Houston is the only team in baseball with a worse record than the Cubs.
-The Astros are coming off its first series win since mid-June–taking
2 of 3 at home against Washington.
-Houston swept Chicago earlier this season at Wrigley.
-The Stros’ hit .336 and drove in 22 runs during the series sweep.
-Carlos Zambrano is (15-8) all-time vs. Houston. He throws Friday.
-The Astros have won 9 of of its last 11 games at Wrigley Field.
-The Cubs have yet to win three in a row all season.
-Friday marks the 100th game of the season for Chicago.

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From MLBTradeRumors:
-Alfonso Soriano’s contract pays $18MM a year through 2014
and makes him virtually immovable. Talking to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, Soriano wasn’t even aware he has a no-trade clause. But he did say he’d waive it to go to a contender.

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Former Cub, Aaron Heilman, signed by Philadelphia.

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Carlos Pena

Carlos Pena signs autographs for fans at a Pepsi MAX meet and greet on Tuesday July 19 at Jewel Osco on the 5300 block of N. Broadway.

He was appearing on behalf of the newly launched “Field of Dreams” program, where fans can win the chance to take on a fan-selected dream team of MLB legends. –Photo courtesy Pepsi Max

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