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EST. 2007

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MLB Spring Training Locations On Google Maps

By bullpenbrian - February 28, 2013 - 11:45 am Leave a comment.

Here’s a look at spring training locations for all 30 teams in MLB.
Each Google map is interactive by clicking this link to
MLB.com.

Cactus League 2013

Grapefruit League 2013

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The Cubs’ Hot July

By bullpenbrian - August 2, 2009 - 11:37 pm Leave a comment.

cubsflorida

I got a real kick visiting Tampa’s airport on my way back to Chicago.

The facility is littered with support for the Rays.

Heading into Gate A6 was a digital board listing congratulations to all the Rays’ All Stars.

The locals wear Rays hats and t-shirts, even the airport staff wore pins and buttons to decorate their uniforms.

That’s the difference ownership makes. Three years ago the then Devil Rays were invisible in baseball, let alone their home bay area.

Now under new ownership, they’re defending AL Champs and the toast of the town. I think it’s terrific!

Heck of a turn around for the Cubs in July.

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Triple Header In Florida

By bullpenbrian - August 1, 2009 - 9:58 pm Leave a comment.

cubsflorida

Lots of baseball to watch in southern Florida Friday night.

The White Sox and Yanks were on WGN. Kansas City was playing up the road at Tampa and the Cubs were in Miami of course.

I stopped surfing the cable box with the Cubs tied 2-all in the seventh.

Another typical Cubs game in Miami: low scoring and the Marlins carrying all the momentum.

Reminds me a bunch how the Cubs use to struggle playing at Montreal. Whatever the case, Chicago is 30-35 all time at Land Shark Stadium.

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Make Sam The No. 5

By bullpenbrian - July 27, 2008 - 12:48 am Leave a comment.

  • Sunday July 27th – Wrigley Field
  • Game (105): Cubs 9 – Marlins 5
  • Record (61-44) – 1st place NL Central
  • 20-Games in 20-Days – (4-6)

The skinny: You have to figure Lou is going to find some more at-bats for Mike Fontenot in Milwaukee.

Since June 19th the little guy has gone (24-for-69) at the dish (.347avg.) including at least one extra base hit in his last 13 games.

Overall this season, Fontenot is batting (.284 avg.) with 8 HRs and 28 RBIs in 52 games off the bench and 34 starts.

Put those numbers next to Fukudome’s – (.277avg.), 7 HRs and 36 RBIs – and there’s a case to move DeRosa to right field and start Fontenot at second base.

And, given the lack of offense recently, I could part with Fukudome’s superior defensive skills in the outfield, at least temporarily.

Plus, with Edmonds’ ailing knee, Fukudome could make a few starts in centerfield as well.

Granted the Cubs have only scored one or fewer runs in three of Marquis’ last four starts, but he’s still (0-4) in his last four outings.

And while Marquis has put together a decent season, his overall record is just (6-6) with a 4.69 ERA.

So, when Woody return from the DL (Tuesday), I’d give some thoughts to replacing Marquis in the rotation with Jeff Samardzija.

Besides, Jeff has climbed through the minors as a starting pitcher anyway, going (4-1) with a 3.13 ERA in six starts at triple-A Iowa.

So, it’s not as if this would be a major adjustment for the Cubs’ newest member.

Meanwhile, I’d like to see Jim Hendry deal Marquis for some bullpen help with Samardzija becoming the No. 5 guy in the rotation.

But, a move of this sort won’t come easy.

First of all, Marquis is still under contract for one more season in Chicago, including being due the hefty sum of $9.87 million dollars owed to him in 2009.

Secondly, like a used car, we’re not talking about a high-performance pitcher here.

Still, Marquis’ right-arm can be of value to a few clubs in the post season chase, perhaps even Colorado – just 6 GB in the West.

For one thing, Marquis has been incredibly durable in his eight-year career making at least 32 starts with more than 190 innings pitched and 12 wins in the last four seasons alone.

Not to mention, every club he’s played for has made the post season and the guy can swing it too (Silver Slugger Award winner in 2005).

Yet, the key to such a deal is acquiring a quality bullpen arm, and that won’t come easy.

However, whether Marquis can be traded or not, I still stand firm that Hendry must improve the bullpen, and soon.

Contrary to the Cubs’ (48-4) record when leading after the seventh inning, just look back at the last week where three of these four losses occurred.

The Cubs have entered its seventh inning at-bat with a one-run lead in three of its last four games.

Furthermore, since the All Star break the club has begun the seventh inning either leading by one-run or trailing by one-run in five of its nine ballgames.

And chances are this trend will continue facing the likes of Sabathia and Sheets in Milwaukee.

Now, let’s go a step further. Chicago finishes the season playing 16 of 22 games on the road in what can be assumed to be a tight division race against Milwaukee and St. Louis.

And to this point, Chicago is (4-10-3) in its road series this season.

Mainly, the Cubs’ road woes lie with the team’s struggled to consistently score runs away from Wrigley, thus, we can expect many of these September contests to be close games.

So, the bullpen appears to be the key to winning the division crown.

Strengthening the pen is a MUST!

W – Gaudin (6-4) – Samardzija (1)

L – Hendrickson (7-6)

  • Notes: Chicago has been tied or has lead the NL Central race for the past 11 weeks.
  • In 18 home series the Cubs are (13-3-2).
  • And, in its last 10 series the club is (8-1-1).
  • Today’s win also even the club’s record in July to (11-11).
  • Tomorrow’s starting pitcher in Milwaukee, Ted Lilly, has won his last four road starts.
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Release Bob Howry

By bullpenbrian - July 25, 2008 - 1:34 am Leave a comment.

It’s time the Cubs released Bob Howry…maybe explore some trade options for him.

Nothing against Howry the person…but I’ve seen enough of Howry the setup man.

This isn’t a knee-jerk reaction to today’s loss, I’ve pointed out Howry’s disappointing season for weeks now.

In the beginning, I was patient, and mostly confident, Howry would rebound from a horrific April:

  • 19 hits in 12.1 innings pitched, 3 home runs and a bloated 8.03 ERA.

In fact, that’s exactly what happened, albeit briefly, during May:

  • 16 hits in 15.1 innings pitched, 2 home runs and a very respectable 1.76 ERA.

Unfortunately, the tide turned in June:

  • 12 hits in 10 innings pitched, 1 home run and a 4.50 ERA for the month.

It’s a red flag…Howry isn’t quite right…he’s not improving…and the season, of course, is in full swing.

To this point, the Cubs’ super-charged lineup has mask Howry’s ineffectiveness.

The one-two punch of Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood rarely leaves the pressure on Howry to protect late inning leads.

But given the Cubs’ collective funk offensively this month (July)…Marmol’s lack of command…and Wood’s trip to the DL…Bob Howry’s ineffectiveness has been exposed.

Regardless of Marmol’s recent struggles, however, Lou simply can’t throw Marmol (or Wood) every game.

So Lou’s left with the consistently bad Bob Howry to protect late inning leads. Not good.

Howry’s results for July:

  • (1-2) record, 13 hits in 11.1 innings pitched, 3 more home runs and a 7.15 ERA.

Obviously, the Cubs can’t rely on Howry any longer, and especially with the Brewers making a run. The backend of this bullpen needs reinforcements…like immediately!

Howry turns 35 in August…is in the final year of a three-year $12 million dollar contract: no better time to cut the string.

I’d hate to see Howry’s career as a Cub end this way…but what other options are left for a guy who’s allowed 62 hits in 50 innings pitched, 9 home runs and sports a 5.22 ERA?

  • Notes: Howry’s career ERA is a respectable 3.62.
  • In 2007 Howry allowed 76 hits in 81.1 innings pitched all season, including just eight home runs.
  • In the Cubs’ five losses since the All Star break, the lineup is 2-for-15 with RISP.
  • Jeff Samardzija made his major league debut: 1-run, 2-hits in 2-IP, and is not the answer to replacing Howry.
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Fish Fry

By bullpenbrian - July 24, 2008 - 1:20 am Leave a comment.

  • Thursday July 24rd – Wrigley Field
  • Game (102): Cubs 6 – Marlins 3
  • Record (60-42) – 1st place NL Central
  • 20-Games in 20-Days – (3-4)

The skinny: Don’t underestimate the importance of this win tonight for the Cubs.

Attempting to defeat the Florida Marlins has been a serious chore for Chicago since April 26th, 2006, the Cubs’ last victory against the Fish.

In fact, entering tonight’s contest the Marlins had defeated Chicago in 10 straight games, marking the longest active winning-streak against a single opponent in the Majors.

Of course, the Marlins are forever linked to the Cubs’ collapse in the 2003 NLCS, including the Bartman game and that dreadful eight-spot during the eighth inning in game 6 of the series.

So, say what you will about the Marlins, but I love the front office efficiency of this club: 15 full seasons in the league, two pennants and two world championships.

Not to mention, the majority of the club’s success has come while operating on a shoestring budget.

Thus, it’s shameful how frequently the Cubs, playing in the game’s third-largest market, have struggled during the Marlins’ entire existence in professional baseball.

Anyway, I think you have to be pleased with Soriano’s return to the lineup.

Wednesday, he goes 1-for-5 with the game-winning RBI and helps rejuvenate the team’s offense to the tune of 10 runs.

And this evening, Fonsy doubles, walks, scores a run and avoids striking out.

Also, it’s obvious the whole Soriano-in-the-leadoff-spot drives many Cubs fans nuts and even more so when he swings away at the first pitch!

But consider this; Soriano is (15-for-35) when putting the first pitch he sees in play, that’s good for a (.428 avg.).

Look, the guy is comfortable in the leadoff spot, so there’s no question in my mind Lou is making the right move by keeping Alfonso penciled into the one-hole.

And more, Henry Blanco continues to show his value as Soto’s backup.

Including Hank White’s sixth inning blast tonight, the veteran backup stopper has hit safely in 12 of his 14 starts this year.

Overall though, the Cubs’ lineup top-to-bottom took a nice, patient approach, against Scott Olsen as well.

Despite the Marlins’ lefty jumping out to a (4-1) record to start the season, he’s struggled since then posting a (1-3) record and 4.88 ERA entering tonight’s start.

And I can’t say enough about Big Z’s performance either, on the mound and at the plate!

The right-handed ace posted his sixth consecutive win at Wrigley, including an ERA of less than 2.00 in his last four home starts.

Plus, he continues the starting staff’s string of nine-straight games of lasting into the sixth inning or longer.

And get this, when Zambrano pitches seven innings or more this year his record is (8-0) with a 1.73 ERA. Awesome!!!

On the other hand, Marmol’s three ninth-inning walks put the Marlins right into its comfort zone: the Fish rank 2nd in the league in walk-off wins (9).

Admittedly, I began preparing myself for Carlos’ ninth-inning collapse.

Although, thankfully, he avoid such a setback.

Seriously, this Cubs team needs help in the backend of the pen; Wood is out until who know when, Howry has been off his game all season and Marmol continues to squirm with what appears to be some mental demons.

ATTENTION JIM HENDRY: GET THIS BULLPEN SOME HELP!

It’d be one thing for the reliever to straighten out their struggles if the Cubs were leading the division by eight games, but the Brewers have shaved the lead down to just one game.

Strengthening the bullpen can’t wait in 2008.

Besides, one only has to remember back to the 2003 NLCS to realize a weak bullpen was the Cubs demise against Florida.

W – Zambrano (11-4) – Marmol (4)

L – Olsen (6-5)

  • Notes: The Cubs are the first NL team to reach 60 wins.
  • Chicago has not lost consecutive games at Wrigley since dropping the first two games of the season against Milwaukee: March 31st, 4-3 & April 2nd 8-2.
  • The Cubs now have three starters with 10 wins or more this season: ‘Z’ (11), Dempster (11) and Lilly (10).
  • The season of 1998 marks the last time the Cubs had three starting pitchers with 10 wins or more on its staff: Kevin Tapani (12), Kerry Wood (11) and Steve Trachsel (10).
  • Chicago has now plated double-digit runs in 11 games this season, already surpassing its total from 2007 (10 times).
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