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Chicago Cubs Franchise Leader In Manager Ejections

By bullpenbrian - March 20, 2013 - 12:15 pm Leave a comment.

Leo Durocher

Any idea which Cubs manager leads the franchise in game ejections?
Sweet Lou? Mike Quade? Lee Elia? Nope, none of those guys. Dale Sveum’s not the answer, either.

The title, in fact, belongs to Leo Durocher who managed the Cubs from 1966 until midway through the 1972 season (he was replaced by Whitey Lockman).

Umpires ran Durocher 17 times during his 1,065 games skippering the Cubs, and 94 times total throughout his 26-year Hall of Fame managing career.

Durocher remains in the top five for all-time ejections trailing only Bobby Cox (161) and John McGraw (118). No wonder Durocher was called “Leo the lip!”

You can read more about manager ejections at TwinsTrivia.com where lead writer John Swol has a lengthy article dedicated to the topic. Here are a few nuggets of minutia from Swol’s post:

  • Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire is fourth (63) on the ejection list among active managers. But he’s always been a fast climber averaging a heave-ho every 28 games per season.
  • Seattle’s franchise leader in manager ejections is none other than Sweet Lou. He hit the showers early 28 times during his 1,551 games leading the Mariners.
  • Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem is responsible for the most ejections (256). Bob Davidson is the active leader (156).
  • As for the most ridiculous manager meltdown of all-time? It must belong to Bush League skipper Phillip Wellman, who went berserk on June 1, 2007. It brought him national fame and a three-game suspension.

What’s Happened With Former Cubs Ace Ted Lilly?

By bullpenbrian - February 26, 2013 - 11:00 am 2 comments.

Ted Lilly Chicago Cubs

Jim Hendry’s trade of Ted Lilly to the Dodgers in 2010 was my coming to Jesus moment–the Cubs’ organization was truly taking a turn for the worse.

Here was a quality, left-handed starter, who for my money was the staff ace since 2007, being shipped to southern California (with Ryan Theriot) for Blake DeWitt. Holy hell.

I wouldn’t go as far to say Lilly was underappreciated during his tenure in Chicago, but I do think it’s fair to say he didn’t get the recognition he deserved.

Ask Cubs fans who the staff ace was during the back-to-back division titles in 2007-08 and most will give top billing to Carlos Zambrano or Ryan Dempster.

For certain, both guys had their moments, but neither was as solid as Lilly during his 3.5 seasons on the North Side.

From his first season with the Cubs in 2007 to the eventual July 31st trade in 2010, the southpaw managed 47 wins in 113 starts while posting a 1.114 WHIP and a sparkling ERA+ of 122.

Lilly not only proved to be a terrific ‘stopper’ when the Cubs were coming off a loss, but he was regularly juggled in the rotation to pitch in the Cubs’ most important series.

Theodore Roosevelt Lilly was the Cubs ace.

Unfortunately, that’s not how most Cubs fans remember him. Instead, it’s the memory of Lilly’s mound tantrum during Game 2 of the NLDS at Arizona, when Chris Young lit him up for a three-run HR in the second inning, prompting Lilly to slam his glove to the ground in frustration.

Granted it was the worst timing for a poor outing, but Cubs fans overreaction to Lilly’s brief loss of composure would’ve made one think he fired a ball into the stands, punched a teammate in the dugout or bumped an umpire…or any number of episodes Big Z was actually guilty of while acting in the roll of the Cubs’ staff ace (rolls eyes).

Still, nothing compares to Lilly being snubbed by Lou Piniella during the 2008 NLDS when the skipper went with Dempster, Zambrano and Rich Harden to start Games 1-3. The series was over before Lilly could throw a single pitch.

Meanwhile, since the trade Lilly has put up respectable numbers with L.A. He made 12 starts to finish out the 2010 campaign with a record of (7-4, 3.97 ERA). The following year, his first full season with the Dodgers, Lilly made 33 starts, pitched 192.2 innings and won 12 games with little to no run support. A nagging shoulder injury, however, limited him to just 8 starts last summer, although he still managed a (5-1, 3.14 ERA) record.

After three months of rehabbing, Lilly ultimately opted for arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder in Sept., resulting in the Dodgers placing him on a modified throwing program this spring.

At 37-years-old, and in the final season of his contract, this may be Lilly’s last hurrah in the bigs. Los Angeles has a crowded rotation as it is, and any setbacks in Lilly’s recovery during spring training could see him as the odd man out in what would be his 15th major league season—the best of which took place with Chicago.


Ryne Sandberg Moving Up, Moving On Post Cubs

By bullpenbrian - February 10, 2013 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

Ryne Sandberg Cubs
Hard to believe Ryne Sandberg isn’t part of the Cubs organization.
Even harder to believe Jim Hendry passed him over for Mike Quade.

Ryne did all the Cubs asked of him as a minor league skipper. He won games, developed players and gave fans a reason to flock to the ballpark. Not to mention, twice winning a Manager of the Year Award (2010-11).

What more could Sandberg have done?
What else did he need to prove?

Hendry of course had his reasons for choosing Quade as Cubs manager. It was the players, after all, who wanted Quade back after he replaced Sweet Lou in August. But that shouldn’t have mattered, Sandberg was the
no-brain decision.

Hendry’s hire to replace Piniella would be a final attempt to maintain his tenure with the Cubs. He needed to choose the right guy, his job depended on it, but ultimately, he picked the wrong one and sank to the bottom with Quade. Less than a year later Hendry was ousted, then Quade…and any bridge the Cubs had with Sandberg was badly burned.

When Sandberg wasn’t the right fit for Team Theo, essentially being snubbed a second time by the Cubs, he transitioned to the Phillies where he spent another year managing at Triple-A before a promotion to the bigs this winter. He’ll serve as Charlie Manuel’s 3B coach and bench coach, presumably until Manuel retires, gets fired or otherwise (Manuel has one year remaining on his contract).

In an interview with Barry Rozner of the Daily Herald, sections of which are posted below, it seems Sandberg has found piece of mind with Philadelphia. He sounds like a guy who feels appreciated, counted on and wanted. Imagine that, a Hall of Fame player who’s excelled as a minor league skipper being coveted by a major league team. What took so long?

Of all teams, the Cubs should have known better than anyone what they were losing by passing on Ryno the first time. And I’ve got a feeling when Sandberg does become a manger, for the Phillies or elsewhere, he’s going to remind the Cubs and baseball they shouldn’t have been so obtuse.

-Ryne Sandberg

  • "I see myself reaching goals and being where I want to be, and that’s in the major leagues," Sandberg said Tuesday while visiting family here in Chicago. "I fulfilled that goal with the Phillies.
  • "I would think that wouldn’t have happened with the Cubs, so with what I want to do with my career, which is stay in the game and get back to the majors, I’ve been able to do that with the Phillies and it feels very good."
  • "My six years in the minors were a great learning experience and it’s prepared me for my job this year, and prepared me to take on more responsibilities,"
  • "The dream of the ring is what keeps me going, keeps me driving forward. That, combined with the relationship I have with the Phillies, and being back in the game, being part of this coaching staff, is a big part of it."
  • "Through the two years with the Phillies, it has felt like I was being welcomed back, by the fans and the entire Phillies organization," Sandberg said. "The Phillies have a way of making everyone feel like they’re a part of something bigger, that your job — no matter what it is — is part of the Phillies trying to win the World Series.
  • "They give you responsibility and they want your input. It’s a great feeling. It’s great to be a part of it. It feels like home to me."

Best For Cubs Brian Roberts Trade Never Happened

By bullpenbrian - January 18, 2013 - 2:30 am Leave a comment.

Remember all the Brian Roberts to the Cubs rumors?
How can you forget, right?

Chicago coming off its dreadful 2006 campaign was in need of a second baseman for new manager Lou Piniella. Roberts, Baltimore’s slick-fielding, switch-hitting two-time All Star seemed the perfect fit.

Jim Hendry and Andy McPhail reportedly discussed a trade for Roberts, but of course a deal never came to fruition. However, the rumors lingered throughout the 2008 season with word Hendry’s unwillingness to come off top prospects Felix Pie or Tyler Colvin had stymied the talks. Not to mention, a Cubs package including Sean Marshall or Sean Gallagher, plus another prospect, seemed unreasonable to McPhail’s liking.

Whoa!  What?

As frustrating as the stalemate was at the time, the Cubs clearly dodged what would’ve likely been a disastrous trade. While Marshall developed into one of the premier left-handed relievers in all of baseball, Roberts slipped into an unfortunate spiral of nagging injuries that’s limited him to just 115-games during the past three seasons.

The Cubs, meanwhile, managed back-to-back division titles in ’07-’08 with Mark DeRosa and Mike Fontenot splitting second base duties. The addition of Roberts in either season couldn’t have hurt the Cubs, but he probably wasn’t the difference maker come October and he certainly wouldn’t have been worth another one of Hendry’s over-priced, back-loaded contract offerings; which was practically a given for Roberts considering the way Hendry was spending those days.

Now 35, Roberts is heading into the final season of his 4-year, $40M deal with Baltimore. Per the usual, however, he’s also recovering from injuries including two offseason surgeries, one a sports hernia, the other a torn labrum in his right hip.

As the old saying goes, sometimes the best trade is no trade…and wouldn’t you know, the Cubs traded Pie to Baltimore anyway in 2009 for – wait for it – Hank Williamson & Garrett Olson. Oh how quickly things can change, for
better or for worse.


Grading The Cubs Offseason, Theo Speaks, Alfonso Soriano, Mark Grace & Sammy Sosa

By bullpenbrian - January 16, 2013 - 1:30 am Leave a comment.

Theo Epstein

Sports Illustrated’s evaluation of the Cubs’ offseason: Grade B.
Only 2 names under Key Departures: Bryan LaHair & Chris Volstad.
Volstad? Are you freaking serious? (3-12, 6.31) Chris Volstad?
What about Ryan Dempster?
What about Paul Maholm?
Heck, I’d put Geovany Soto, Manny Corpas or Jeff Beliveau before Volstad.

“The rotation additions are a mixed bag, and the outfield remains unsettled, but it’s hard not to like the addition of Fujikawa.”
–SI article

Terry Francona’s book “Francona: The Red Sox Years” comes out on Jan. 22.
Excerpts released by Sports Illustrated:
Theo Epstein traded for Adrian Gonzalez and signed Carl Crawford following pressure from Boston Red Sox owners to build a “sexy team.”

“They told us we didn’t have any marketable players, that we needed some sizzle, we need some sexy guys. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. This is like an absurdist comedy. We’d become too big. It was the farthest thing removed from what we set out to be.” -Epstein

Mark Grace is participating in a Diamondbacks fantasy camp underway in Scottsdale. He’s also on the record for blaming himself, not the team, for his dismissal from the broadcast booth last season following his second DUI in 15 months.

Sammy Sosa purchases distribution rights to a needle-free injection company, Injex21. The former Cub says he sees the potential to help people overcome their difficulties with taking injections.
Laughable, I know.

Three Cubs, including Sosa, are seen in SI.com’s Photo Blog.
Lou Piniella and Alfonso Soriano pose for SI’s baseball preview in 2007.
Sosa and Mark McGwire team up for a shoot during what I assume would be 1999 or 2000.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times spoke with Rays GM Andrew Friedman.

“The team is still looking for another bat, more likely through free agency than trade, either as a primary DH (which sounds like the preference) or with some positional flexibility allowing them to rotate the DH role.” -Friedman

Soriano, eh?

Juan Cruz broke in with the Cubs as a 22 year old in 2001. He went (8-19, 4.43) during his three seasons in Chicago. Cruz, 34, has signed a minor league deal with the Phillies.

Former Cub Michael Wuertz (2004-08) who was traded by Chicago to Oakland in Feb. 2009 for Richie Robnett & Justin Sellers, has signed a minor league deal with the Marlins.


In Need Of Sweet Lou

By bullpenbrian - June 2, 2011 - 1:01 pm Leave a comment.

Remember when Cubs baseball was fun?

It was only a few years ago, actually, when the Cubs went on long winning streaks, had a dynamite offense, strong pitching, and won back-to-back NL Central titles.

But those days seems long ago, especially after watching the Cubs get thumped in a three-game sweep to the lowly Astros. 

Today marks the four year anniversary of Lou Piniella’s classic meltdown vs. third base umpire Mark Wegner at Wrigley Field.

True, it was a memorable rant from the skipper (video), but more importantly, it also marked a turning point in the Cubs’ 2007 season.

Chicago was (22-30) come June 1, trailing Milwaukee by 7.5 games and desperately in need of a spark for the season’s second half.

Piniella’s emotional outburst seemingly turned the trick. The Cubs quickly changed course going (17-11) in June before posting a (17-9) mark in July. Two months later Chicago captured the NL Central flag!

Man, those days were fun.


Piniella’s Worst Move As Cubs Manager

By bullpenbrian - October 8, 2010 - 12:01 am Leave a comment.

I remember Game 1 of the 2007 NLDS like it was yesterday.
Up and coming Chicago facing the surprise Arizona D-Backs.
I watch the game standing up, to nervous to sit on my favorite comfy chair!

Arizona scores first, a fourth inning home run by Stephen Drew.
I’m deflated, but confident the Cubs rebound.
They do when Ryan Theriot singles in a run in the top of the sixth.

Big Z’ and Brandon Webb match each other pitch-for-pitch through six innings. It’s a 1-1 game. Zambrano’s looking strong. He’s an 18-game winner. Going the distance would be no problem.

Lou Piniella feels otherwise. He lifts Zambrano after 85-pitches, believing Z will be fresher for his second postseason start. This decision, perhaps, is the single worst move Piniella makes during his tenure with the Cubs.


Maybe Cubs Should Fire Lou?

By bullpenbrian - August 3, 2010 - 12:15 am Leave a comment.

Sweet Lou better right the ship after Monday’s embarrassing  18-1 loss or he has no business in the Cubs’ dugout.

The Cubs gave Piniella a pass by allowing him to run out the string this season. But the unenthusiastic play we’ve witnessed during this six-game losing streak (outscored 62-17) is unacceptable–even for a team 14-games under .500.

I’m not talking about an improvement in the standings, either. I’m talking about a severely needed attitude adjustment.

The ball Prince Fielder hit to right center field in the eighth between Tyler Colvin & Kosuke Fukudome is the worst effort play I’ve seen all year.

You can’t allow veteran players to throw in the towel. Especially not with all the young talent on this club. It sends the wrong message to pups like Colvin, Castro & Cashner that losing is tolerable.

The players know, obviously, that Lou is a lame duck. But it’s up to the manager to keep them from playing like it.

If Piniella can’t get the message across it’s a major disservice to the club’s future success to have him misguiding the ship the final two months.


Bob Brenly’s Resume

By bullpenbrian - July 23, 2010 - 12:06 am Leave a comment.

Arizona Diamondbacks
2001: (92-70)…Won World Series against Yankees.
2002: (98-64)…Won division, lost to St. Louis in NLDS.
2003: (84-78)…Finished 3rd in division.
2004: (22-59)…Fired after 3 1/2 seasons (303-262) .536%

*Was member of Cubs 1990-91 radio team, partnering with
Harry Caray, Thom Brennaman & Ron Santo.
*Serves as the Cubs television analyst since 2005.
*Attended Ohio University!
*Has a terrific mustache…on par with Mike Ditka’s,
Joel Quenneville’s & Phil Jackson’s cookie dusters!


Ryne Sandberg’s Resume

By bullpenbrian - July 22, 2010 - 1:00 am Leave a comment.

Single-A — Peoria Chiefs
2007: (71-68)…lost Midwest League Championship Game.
2008: (60-78)…7th place, 18.5 games back.

Double-A — Tennessee Smokies
2009: (71-69)…2nd place division.

Triple-A — Iowa Cubs
2010: (56-39)…leading North Division by 7-games.


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