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Browsing posts from April, 2012

Byrd, Bowden & Jackson

By bullpenbrian - April 22, 2012 - 4:00 pm Leave a comment.

It feels like Theo Epstein extended an olive branch to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday trading Marlon Byrd for right-handed pitcher Michael Bowden.

Who would’ve guessed both parties would dance following the lengthy debate to settle the Epstein compensation package to the Cubs?

There’s no question Byrd could use a change of scenery given his dreadful start to the season offensively (.075 avg., 2 RBI). Whether or not his return to Fenway Park rekindles any lingering affects from being beaned in the eye there last May is yet to be seen.

The Red Sox, however, are starved for veteran outfield help. Jacoby Ellsbury is sidelined with a separated shoulder and Carl Crawford is still recovering from left wrist surgery. Whatever Byrd has left in the tank is worth Boston’s risk.

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Mr. Cubs Race

By bullpenbrian - April 21, 2012 - 6:00 pm Leave a comment.

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Cubs Playing Like 2011 All Over Again

By bullpenbrian - April 20, 2012 - 11:00 pm Leave a comment.

I’m want to give Dale Sveum and his staff the benefit of the doubt after a (3-11) start to the season.

The troubling part, however, is the Cubs have played eerily similar to last year’s version than to the team we were promised during spring training.

The battle cry echoed from Mesa announced the Cubs would play harder, with more purpose and all around better baseball. 

Instead, we’ve seen a team riddled with mental mistakes, fielding errors and lackluster performances. Mike Quade, are you still here?

Four times the Cubs have committed more or as many errors as runs scored in a game. The lineup is batting .211 with RISP and leads all of baseball having hit into 16 double plays.

And for all the hullabaloo over the spring bunting tourney the Cubs have but two sacrifice bunts to show for it. Dare I mention the bullpen?

My frustration doesn’t lie with the fact the Cubs have but three wins, it’s how they’re losing that’s irritating.

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#Cubs Tweet Tweet!

By bullpenbrian - April 19, 2012 - 6:00 pm Leave a comment.

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Marlon Byrd Not The Word

By bullpenbrian - April 18, 2012 - 10:00 pm Leave a comment.

Marlon Byrd isn’t hitting his weight. In fact, he’s not even close to it.

His .081 batting average is the result of 3 hits in 37 at-bats–and it gets worse.

Since going 1-for-4 with an RBI on Opening Day, Byrd has endured an 0-for-20 stretch, struck out out nine times, manage but two walks and was thrown out in his lone steal attempt.

In Late/Close game situations, a crucial spot for any club, but particularly the Cubs who are starved for offense, Byrd leads the team with five at-bats, of which he’s gone hitless with three strikeouts.

No better with RISP: 11 at-bats, one hit. Only Soriano (15) has had more chances to drive in runs.

Byrd’s struggles at the plate can’t be categorized as a ‘slump’. It’s something far more wicked, something beyond ‘Jacque Jones’ territory.

Regardless of what that might be, there’s no uncertainty Dale Sveum needs to pull Byrd from the everyday lineup, where he’s been in 11 of the first 12 games.

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DeJesus, Castro & LaHair

By bullpenbrian - April 17, 2012 - 10:00 pm 2 comments.

The Cubs haven’t had a true leadoff threat atop the order since Juan Pierre in 2006, which is exactly why the Cubs went after David DeJesus this offseason.

Thus far DeJesus’ production has been steady. He’s reached base safely in 8 of 11 games while posting a respectable on-base percentage of .439.

He’s seen more pitches than any other Cubs batter (173), which hasn’t been the norm for a team expected to adopt a grind-it-out mentality.

DeJesus’ seven walks also leads the team, as does his eight runs scored. But that’s not all.

He’s played a terrific right field with several highlight reel catches already under his belt. I’ve also been impressed with his throwing arm, both strong and accurate.

No reason not to be pleased with the early returns for DeJesus. About the only thing he hasn’t done is steal many bases, so far 0-for-1.

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Cubs (2-7) Honoring No.42

By bullpenbrian - April 16, 2012 - 7:00 pm Leave a comment.

No.42

Commissioner Bud Selig and Major League Baseball appropriately retired Jackie Robinson’s No.42 in 1997.

With league-wide support in 2004 baseball instituted a dedication of Jackie Robinson Day to be held each season on April 15th, the date now 65 years ago, when Robinson made his major league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Since 2009, and as we saw Sunday in St. Louis during the Cubs vs. Cardinals game, all players and on-field personnel wear Robinson’s No.42 in honor of the courageous man who broke the game’s color barrier in 1947.

I’ll make it a point to say I’m also in favor of permanently retiring the No.21 worn by the great Roberto Clemente, for he too helped break down barriers and build bridges for Latin American baseball players.

Out of curiosity I took a look at the Cubs record on Jackie Robinson Day since 2004. Not surprisingly, Chicago is but (2-7).  So Cubs.

Here’s a closer look: 

2004

Pittsburgh

Won

10-5

2005

@ Pittsburgh

Lost

5-8

2006

@ Pittsburgh

Lost

1-2

2007

Cincinnati

Lost

0-1

2008

Cincinnati

Won

9-5

2009

Colorado

Lost

2-5

2010

Milwaukee

Lost

6-8

2011

@ Colorado

Lost

0-5

2012

@ St. Louis

Lost

3-10

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Same Frustrations, Same Cubs?

By bullpenbrian - April 15, 2012 - 6:00 pm Leave a comment.

One of my greater frustrations with the Cubs last season was its inability to win three in-a-row. A league worst 134 fielding errors was another, but I digress.

It took Mike Quade’s squad until late July, 102 games into the season, before they finally managed the smallest of winning streaks–nearly four full months removed from Opening Day.

More stunning, however, was the perceived lack of urgency to string together wins. Ten times prior the Cubs were in position to roll a Turkey, but failed on each occasion. Not a trace of killer instinct.

In fact, when Geovany Soto was asked in July if winning three in a row was mentally important for the Cubs he responded “Not really.”

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Mr. Cubs Race!

By bullpenbrian - April 14, 2012 - 3:00 am Leave a comment.

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Alfonso Soriano Sputtering In Clutch

By bullpenbrian - April 13, 2012 - 11:00 pm Leave a comment.

Alfonso Soriano is holding down the cleanup spot–barely.

Despite leading the team with 6 RBI, Soriano has squandered numerous chances to drive in runs, which, of course, is the main objective of a true No.4 hitter.

Having been at the plate 14 times with RISP, most on the team, he’s delivered but three hits, twice drew a walk and once grounded into a double play.

It’s no wonder all five of the Cubs losses have come by three or fewer runs.

Most notably, however, is the absence of an extra base hit for Soriano–in any situation.

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