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Browsing posts from December, 2012

When Maddux Reached 300

By bullpenbrian - December 31, 2012 - 5:28 pm Leave a comment.

Greg Maddux’s 300th win. Saturday August 7, 2004. The Cubs rally at San Francisco for an 8-4 victory helping the professor become the 22nd pitcher ever to reach the 300 win milestone.

His 594th career start didn’t get off to a promising start. Ray Durham led off the bottom of the first with a triple and later scored on a sac fly by Barry Bonds. Two innings later AJ Pierzynski delivered an RBI double giving the Giants a 3-0 advantage.

The Cubs stormed back with RBI hits from Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee and Todd Walker. Corey Patterson’s 2-R HR gave Chicago a 6-3 lead in the sixth to put Maddux in position for the win. Moises Alou would tack on a 2-R HR off Brett Tomko in the ninth to finish off the scoring and put Maddux in the record books.

Maddux’s line: 5IP, 4-ER, 7-H, 3-BB, 3-K – 82 pitches

He reached the historic mark in just over 4,000 innings pitched in the big leagues and became the first National League pitcher to reach 300 since Steve Carlton in September of 1983.

Maddux was 38 at the time and finished the ’04 season (16-11, 4.02). He spent another season and a half with the Cubs before the team traded him to Los Angeles for Ceasar Izturis at the trade deadline in July 2006.

During his 10 seasons spent with the Cubs Maddux went (133-112, 3.61) making 298 starts including 47 complete games and 14 shutouts. He retired four years later and with 355 career wins.

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North Side & South Side Players

By bullpenbrian - December 29, 2012 - 11:35 pm Leave a comment.

Here’s a list of 10 noticeable players who have suited up for both the Cubs and the White Sox during their playing careers.

Ron Santo, Sammy Sosa, Steve Stone, Goose Gossage, Juan Pierre, George Bell, Kosuke Fukudome, Neal Cotts, Lance Johnson & Darrin Jackson.

Tony Campana nearly joined the list last summer, but the Cubs declined a White Sox’s trade proposal for the scrappy speedster.

Ron Santo, however, wrapped up his 15-year career on the South Side in 1974. He spent the majority of the season as the DH hitting .221, 5 HR, 41 RBI–the lowest totals of his entire career.

Santo’s move south was actually part of a trade that brought Steve Stone to the Cubs in December of 1973. Stone spent three rather mediocre seasons on the North Side compiling a (23-20, 4.04) record before rejoining the White Sox for 1977-78, where he won 27-games total during the following two seasons.

Ten years later the Rangers traded Sammy Sosa to the White Sox in July of 1989. He played another two seasons for the White Sox hitting .227, 28 HR, 113 RBI all totaled before being shipped to the North Side for George Bell in March of 1992.

Sosa was 23 when he arrived with the Cubs and of course went on to hit 545 home runs with the club to become the franchise’s all-time homerun leader.

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Holiday Stuff

By bullpenbrian - December 28, 2012 - 11:45 pm Leave a comment.

This weekend I’m enjoying a family wedding over the New Year. I’ll continue to update the blog as usual, but I figure to be posting later in the day.

 ”Happy New Year, all” :)

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Cubs New Look BP Caps

By bullpenbrian - December 28, 2012 - 12:30 am Leave a comment.

Cubs Batting Practice

Here’s a look at the Cubs’ new batting practice caps for the upcoming season.

It’s a similar look to the old road caps, which I’ve been clamoring for the team to bring back since ditching them in 2009.

If you look closely it appears the center of the ‘C’ is a grey color, which has recently become popular in new uniforms, but I’m not 100-percent sure it’s an off-white.

It will be nice to have the red brims back for a few seasons (until the league redesigns the caps again) but I really hope it’s a look for the Cubs that’s here to stay.

Paul Lukas of ESPN Fandom reviews all the new lids here.

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Cubs Need Another Southpaw

By bullpenbrian - December 27, 2012 - 12:39 am Leave a comment.

The Cubs could use another left-handed reliever to compliment James Russell.

Jeff Beliveau, who was an up & comer, became a casualty of the Cubs freeing up their 40-man roster last week when he was claimed off waivers by the Rangers.

Southpaws Brooks Raley and Chris Rusin made their MLB debuts as starters last year, and so far there’s no indication either will transition to the bullpen for the upcoming season.

That leaves Travis Wood as the lone remaining left-hander on the roster, which should give him a slight edge in making the rotation vs. pitching out of the bullpen.

Additionally, the free agent market for lefty relief arms is slim pickings. Of the eight remaining lefties still available here are three I think the Cubs should take look at:

  • JP Howell, 29, tops the list and the Cubs have already been linked to him. He missed all of 2010 due to shoulder surgery, had a horrible 2011 season and then rebounded nicely in 2012 wrapping up his fifth season in Tampa Bay. The tough part is there’s plenty of competition for Howell, including the Nationals, Rangers and Phillies. So if the Cubs want him they’ll probably have to come with the dollars and a multi-year offer.
  • Mike Gonzalez, 34, is coming off a decent campaign in Washington. He spent the previous two seasons in the AL with Baltimore and Texas posting an ERA above 4.00. He’s also pitched in the postseason the past two years with moderate success and could be another flipable trade piece for the Cubs in July. Like Howell, however, Gonzalez’s services are also being sought after by contending teams such as the Nationals and Reds.
  • Rafael Perez, 30, suffered through a nagging shoulder injury in 2012 that limited him to just 7.2 innings. Previously though he was one of the best lefty relievers in baseball with Cleveland. He’s no longer dominate as he was in his earlier years, but Perez is still a tough match vs. left-handed batters and could provide Russell enough of a breather to make him valuable.
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The Cubs Other Third Baseman, Jesse Hodges

By bullpenbrian - December 27, 2012 - 12:15 am Leave a comment.

Jesse Hodges. An 18-year-old third baseman born in Canadian and discovered by the Cubs in Korea.

This past October he played in the Cubs’ Instructional League in Mesa, Ariz. with the likes of Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, Daniel Vogelbach, Trevor Gretzky, Duane Underwood and Dillon Maples.

Cubs beat writer Carrie Muskat brings us the story of Hodges’ dream to one day play for the Cubs in the major leagues. Click here.

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Who’s In/Out of Cubs Rotation?

By bullpenbrian - December 26, 2012 - 5:45 pm Leave a comment.

GUEST POST | Josh Helms

How will the Cubs’ rotation shake out now that the team has seven serviceable starters?

Garza and Samardzija are the only pitchers from the 2012 staff who are assured spots in the starting rotation.  And let’s assume newly signed Edwin Jackson (4-years, $52 milliom) will be in the rotation come opening day, as well.

This leaves two starting spots left with four pitchers in the mix: Scott Baker, Scott Feldman, Carlos Villanueva and Travis Wood.

Baker, recovering from TJS, is reportedly scheduled to be ready for full-time duty come spring training. But if we proceed with caution on Baker, that narrows the list down to three pitchers for the final two spots.

Wood holds a slight advantage over the field as the only left-hander, which could very well be enough to make him the No.4 starter. Behind Wood is either Feldman or Villanueva. Neither pitched as full-time starters last season, but both specifically signed with the Cubs in the hopes earning a full-time starting role.

So it’s likely Feldman and Villanueva battle it out this spring for the final rotation spot with the loser headed to a bullpen as a spot starter.

From this perspective the Cubs would break spring camp with the following rotation (not necessarily in this order): 1.Garza, 2.Samardzija, 3.Jackson, 4.Wood…5.Feldman/Villanueva, and 6.Baker as the wild card depending on his recovery.

Meanwhile, the speculation of the Cubs trading Garza is alive and well, but a trade is unlikely until Garza can prove he’s healthy after suffering the elbow injury that ended his season last July.

If that means the Cubs are stuck showcasing Garza for a few months, it’s all the better for the rotation. And as a nice change of pace the Cubs should actually have enough pitching depth to replace Garza with a quality arm (not an ace arm) if he’s dealt.

Potential trades and unforeseen injuries are certain to alter the pitching landscape as we get closer to the regular season. But it’s a reassuring sign the Cubs will be better this year knowing they have more good arms than available rotation spots.

Josh Helms is a husband and father of two. He has served in the US Army since 2002 and is currently stationed at FT Carson, CO. Josh originally hails from Byron, IL. His favorite player as a child was Ryne Sandberg, and by default, he became a Cubs fan/sufferer.

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Al Michaels Says Hawks Nest As Wild As Wrigley’s Bleachers

By bullpenbrian - December 24, 2012 - 9:15 am Leave a comment.

Al Michaels likened Seattle’s 12th Man at CenturyLink Field to the Wrigley Field bleachers during the opening of NBC Football Night in America.

It’s a nice complement from the legendary broadcaster, but we all know the bleacher bums haven’t been on par with Seattle’s Hawk Nest in recent seasons. Bad Cubs teams and higher priced bleacher seats have understandably made for a more timid and well mannered crowd in the outfield.

Meanwhile, Seattle’s rambunctious crowd is recognized as the loudest in the NFL, and one of the toughest venues for opposing teams to play in. The Seahawks are undefeated at home this season (7-0), including a convincing 42-13 win vs. San Francisco Sunday night.

Prior to kickoff at every home game the Seahawks welcome back a former player or coach, or invite a local celebrity to raise the 12th man flag, a number the franchise retired in 1984 to honor the fans.

Sam Adams Seattle

In the video it’s former Seahawk great Sam Adams whipping the crowd into a frenzy. He was selected eighth overall by Seattle in the 1994 Draft and played six seasons for the team (94-99).

No doubt better days are ahead for the Wrigley Field bleacher bums. Cubs fans have never let a bad record stand in the way of a good party. And we should expect a better product on the field soon, too.

Stay tuned, Seattle.

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Two Cubs Land In Indians Bottom 5 Free Agents

By bullpenbrian - December 24, 2012 - 9:00 am Leave a comment.

Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer comprised a list of the Indians’
Top 5 and Bottom 5 free agent signings in their franchise history.

Two former Cubs made the list…in the Bottom 5, no less.
Kerry Wood and Ricky Gutierrez.
In Hoynes’ words:

  • 2. RHP Kerry Wood – Signed: Dec. 13, 2008 to a 2-year, $20.5M deal. Stats: Former GM Mark Shapiro thought the Indians were ready to win and Wood would be the last piece as a lock-down closer. Wood, as his history showed, couldn’t stay healthy and never really got the hang of closing after being a starter most of his career. The Indians have not spent big money on a free agent since.
  • 4. 2B Ricky Gutierrez – Signed: Dec. 17, 2001 to a 2-year, $6M deal.
    Stats: In their haste to replace Roberto Alomar at second base, the Indians signed free agent Ricky Gutierrez, who was coming off a career season with the Cubs. The problem was Gutierrez was damaged goods. He needed two vertebra fused in his neck and played only 110 games in two years for the Tribe.
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Rich Harden Hasn’t Been Good Since Leaving Cubs

By bullpenbrian - December 23, 2012 - 1:04 am Leave a comment.

After missing all of last season due to injury Rich Harden signed a minor league deal with the Twins.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the 31-year-old is still being considered a starter. But it feels long over due to start looking at Harden as a reliever.

The guy’s durability is nonexistent. So if there’s any value left in his right arm why not try and better maintain his health as a late-inning reliever?

It’s likely to limit him from making too many back-to-back appearances, but it can’t be any worse than Harden’s tough luck staying healthy as a starter.

Anyway, I always remember Harden as Jim Hendry’s answer to the Brewers trading for CC Sabathia in 2008, who was practically untouchable with Milwaukee (11-2, 1.65). But Harden held his own in 12 starts with Chicago:
(5-1, 1.77), ERA+258. No doubt one of Hendry’s better trades.

Unfortunately more arm problems limited Harden to 26 starts the following season (9-9, 4.09) and the Cubs smartly parted ways in the offseason.

Oh yeah, who could forget Harden’s ever present smirking grin? Where have I seen that before?

 

 

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