So what if the Cubs stole one Tuesday night. Back-to-back walkoffs against the Cardinals, I’ll take it.
The Cubs not only earned its first series win in 2012, but also ended St. Louis’ streak of 13-consecutive series wins dating back to last year, including the postseason.
However, Chicago got two very questionable calls from the umpiring crew to go in their favor: DeJesus’ slide home in the first inning and Campana’s steal in the 10th.
Had the umps made even one of the two calls correctly were probably left sulking over another Cubs loss and yet another solid start by Samardzija wasted due to a lack of run support. Water under the bridge this time…
How about Soriano hitting a low & away slider hard enough to drive in the game-winning run. Everyone watching knew what pitch was coming, but who knew Sori could actually hit it?
Bryan LaHair has put together two terrific at-bats in crucial situations the past two games: a 12-pitch walk on Monday and a game-tying home run Tuesday, which also marks his first hit against a left-hander this season.
I love this guy’s moxie. LaHair’s proving he’s not just a Triple-A phenom, but a true threat at the major league level. Now it’s just a matter of seeing if he can hit consistently for a full season.
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.
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.
There’s no reason for over-reaction to the Cubs (1-4) start less than a week into a marathon long season.
However, there’s plenty of reason to be concerned with the Cubs shaky bullpen after five games.
Chicago’s ‘pen is sporting an (0-3) record with an unflattering 7.24 ERA.
In 13.2 innings of work they’ve allowed 11 earned runs on 16 hits, one home run and 12 walks vs. nine strikeouts. Obviously, that’s extremely concerning.
To make matters worse, the two go-to-guys, Carlos Marmol & Kerry Wood, have accounted for six earned runs and three blown saves.
Alfonso Soriano an Atlanta Brave?
It’s not that far fetched if the Cubs can somehow package Soriano in a deal with Marlon Byrd, who the Braves have been interested in acquiring over the last 10 months.
Soriano’s insistence on being dealt to a contender makes Atlanta an ideal destination considering the Braves were a postseason shoe-in before its historic September collapse enabled St. Louis to win the Wild Card.
And with Atlanta having avoided the signing of a single free agent this winter, Soriano’s bat and Byrd’s outfield versatility could be the complementary pieces to push the Braves back into October.
It’s been a long and trying season for Marlon Byrd.
In addition to dealing with the Cubs dismal record, he’s faced the huge challenge of returning from a six week stay on the DL recovering from multiply facial fractures after suffering a beanball to his left eye on May 21 in Boston.
Just watching that happened made it seem unlikely Byrd would return at all this season. True to his positive character, however, Byrd returned 39 games later to take his spot in center field.
Losing Marlon Byrd to the most unfortunate of circumstances, getting beaned in the eye, is certain to leave a void in the Cubs’ clubhouse, if for no other reason than Byrd’s durability and emotional leadership.
Replacing Byrd’s offense is no easy chore, either. His bat heated up in May hitting at a .340 clip over his last 24 games.
He also hit safely in 18 of his last 21 games, including a career best 16-game hitting streak.
All totaled, Byrd’s batting .308 with 3 HR & 11 RBI, all while starting 43 of the Cubs’ first 44 games.
Has a seven-game hitting streak.
Is 5-for-12 on the current road trip.
Hit four doubles against Milwaukee.
Has scored a run in 6 of last 8 games.
Name that Cub!
It wasn’t long ago I was clamoring for Marlon Byrd to be an NL All Star. Now I’m doing the same for Byrd’s case to win the Gold Glove Award!
The guy’s shined all year playing the bricks and ivy to perfection in center field. He’s made numerous spot-on rely throws and clutch diving catches to both left & right center field.
Byrd sports a .993 fielding percentage, third best in the NL, has five outfield assists, fifth best, and has committed just two errors in 274 total chances (among center fielders)!
His 2.76 putouts and 2.81 range factor per nine innings played both rank fourth among NL outfielders, as well.
And who can forget Byrd’s spin-&-throw to nab David Ortiz in the ninth inning of the Summer Classic–which came from right field, mind you!
Put it all together and Byrd is a legitimate candidate to win the Gold Glove. But it won’t come easily. Andrew McCutchen, Shane Victorino, Matt Kemp and Colby Rasmus are also in the hunt.
But if Byrd keeps at it during the final two months, who’s to say he’s not the best defensive center fielder in the National League in 2010?
I voted 25 times for Joey Votto’s All Star selection.
When that wasn’t enough, I ‘voted Votto’ again in the Fan’s Choice voting.
No way would I let the NL’s first half MVP get left behind…
even if it was a Cincinnati Red and not a Chicago Cub.
But after Votto’s Bush League move Tuesday night,
refusing to congratulate his fellow teammate Marlon Byrd
because he plays for the rival Cubs, I’m through voting Votto for anything…other than ‘Jerk’ of the NL.
“I don’t like the Cubs,” Votto said.
“And I’m not going to pat anybody with a Cubs uniform on the back.
But because he made that really cool play,
it turned out to be a really cool experience.
I’m really glad we got the win today.”
Somebody on the Reds, perhaps a veteran like Scott Rolen,
needs to check this young man. There’s a time and place for division rivalries,
the All Star dugout isn’t one of them.
Votto needed a ton of support just to be in Anaheim.
The National League needed Byrd’s performance to win.
If Votto can’t recognize this, or Byrd, then why vote for the guy in years to come?
No body is asking Votto to like the Cubs.
But acting with a little professionalism wouldn’t hurt either.