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Cubs Best Fielder 2012

By bullpenbrian - October 11, 2012 - 12:10 am Leave a comment.

-Darwin Barney: A no-brainer. Set the NL record and tied the major league record for most consecutive games at 2B without a fielding error (141).

And despite the consecutive-games errorless streak, Barney continued to show solid range, dive after balls and make difficult throws from his position.

He started the second most games (146), turned the second most double plays (96) and his two miscues were the fewest of any regular starting second baseman in the National League.

It’s a crime if Barney doesn’t win the Gold Glove. And no, I don’t think the Cubs should trade Darwin this offseason…see above. Honorable mentions: Alfonso Soriano (12 assists, 1 error, .996), David DeJesus (8 assists, 2 errors, .993), Reed Johnson (3 assists, 1 error, .987).

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Reed Johnson, Geovany Soto Update

By bullpenbrian - September 27, 2012 - 3:05 am Leave a comment.

Reed Johnson has seen plenty of playing time since joining the Braves along with Paul Maholm on July 30th.

He’s appeared in 36-games, mainly as a late-inning defensive replacement, but has started 19-games while batting .278/.309/.333 with seven runs scored, five doubles and four RBI in 90 at-bats.

Including his 76-games spent with Chicago this year, Johnson is hitting .293,    3 HR, 20 RBI and a .745 OPS overall. His 17 pinch-hits leads the majors.

GEOVANY SOTO: A change of scenery hasn’t done much to help Soto offensively since joining the Rangers. He’s had plenty of opportunity, too. Regular backstop, Mike Napoli, was shelved for 33-games with a strained quad since early August.

In Soto’s 41-games with Texas, 36-starts, he’s batting a paltry .211 with six doubles, 5 HR, 24 RBI and a .641 OPS.

Although Soto’s experienced somewhat of a surge at the plate recently, 2 HR & 7 RBI over his last six starts, he’s batting .170 over his last 17-games.

To make matters worse, Soto’s already below-average 17.1-percent of runners caught stealing with the Cubs is down to 13.3-percent with Texas, having gunned-down just 4 of 30 base stealers.

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Who Did Cubs Get In Return For Trades?

By bullpenbrian - August 2, 2012 - 1:30 am Leave a comment.

This is a Guest Post by John Guminski. He’s a Junior at the University of Missouri majoring in Journalism.

Catcher Geovany Soto to the Texas Rangers for RHP Jacob Brigham

Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo provided plenty of depth at the catcher’s position behind incumbent Geovany Soto entering the 2012 season.

Soto’s season long struggles at the plate, in addition to being the oldest and more expensive backstop, was also a deciding factor in shipping him to Arlington.

In return the Cubs receive Double-A right-hander Jacob Brigham. His fastball sits at 91-93 with an average curve and change. Brigham could fit into a middle relief role down the road.

Paul Maholm & Reed Johnson to Braves for pitchers Arodys Vizcaino & Jaye Chapman

This a classic example of buy low and sell high that has worked for the Cubs to bolster their farm system. Maholm’s sensational pitching of late seemed to considerably raise his trade value towards the deadline.

Johnson has been as steady as ever off the bench. His 13 pinch-hits are tied for the most in the majors and most importantly, he’s stayed healthy this season. Reed’s versatility defensively is also a plus, especially in the NL as a guy who does well spot-starting or coming in off the bench mid-game.

The return pieces for the Cubs are quite intriguing. Although Arodys Vizcaino is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March, he was a top 3 prospect in a very deep Braves organization a year ago.

The Braves rushed him along last season and had slotted him into a relief role with the big club before his injury. He features a high 90’s fastball and an excellent curve with fantastic control.

If he doesn’t have the durability to continue as a starter, he certainly has the stuff to replace Carlos Marmol at closer.

Jaye Chapman is a 25-year-old reliever in Triple-A. He’s striking out 10.1 per 9 on his with a 3.52 ERA. He projects to be a middle reliever with an upside to be an impact player.

Ryan Dempster to Rangers for RHP Kyle Hendricks and 3B Christian Villanueva

The final deal was the most expected, although Texas ended up somewhat of a surprise destination for the 35-year-old Dempster.

Christian Villanueva was the only hitter acquired at the deadline by the Cubs. Seen as a sleeper around many scouts, he sports an above-average glove while hitting .285 with 10 home runs in advanced A-ball.

Right-hander Kyle Hendricks, throwing in the high 80’s, relies on his cutter and curveball as out pitches. He’s more of a throw-in to the deal, but projects as back end starter material.

In Summary

Theo and Jed concentrated their efforts to fill the need for pitching depth in the Cubs minor league system. The pair could also further increase the returns later this month with a deal for Soriano, who’s willing to waive his no-trade right to join a contender once he likely passes through waivers.

Matt Garza’s unfortunate injury, fluid build-up on his right triceps, appeared to kill the lack of interest from potential suitors at the deadline.

It appeared the Cubs had every intention of dealing Garza, but doing so will be on hold until the offseason as Garza is not an August trade candidate (no way he’ll get through waivers).

It remains to be seen whether or not the Cubs will reconsider offering Garza the long-term contract he so desires.

All things considered, the Cubs trade deadline deals were a good step in the right direction towards the massive rebuilding project.

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Celebrating the Trade Deadline

By bullpenbrian - July 31, 2012 - 5:59 pm Leave a comment.

I found today’s non-waiver trade deadline thrilling. Lots of player movement, big names in the mix, and the hotly contested division races in both leagues seemed to get even tighter.

I’d love to ramble on about the winners and losers during today’s trading period, but the exhaustion of pulling an all-nighter and then updating the trade tracker this afternoon is finally taking its toll.

By no means is this a complaint. There’s simply no place I’d rather be than working the phones and the keyboard like a mad-man! But the adrenaline from the early mornings hours has worn thin—Dempster, after all, has been traded!

So we’ll save those thoughts on the deadline trades for a latter post.

In the meantime, I’m taking a break from the computer and heading to Wrigley Field for tonight’s Cubs vs. Pirates game.

I’ll definitely do some tweeting, but I’m largely looking to relax for a bit and just enjoy watching the Cubs, or what’s left of them.

Greatly appreciate everyone who checked in on the Trade Tracker. Always looking out for the visual learners :)

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MLB Trade Tracker 2012

By bullpenbrian - July 31, 2012 - 7:00 am 1 comment.

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Reed It And Weap Padres!

By bullpenbrian - April 21, 2011 - 12:01 am Leave a comment.

The importance of Reed Johnson’s walk-off job in Game 1 of Wednesday’s DH goes without saying.

His game-winning blast pushed the Cubs above .500, assured a series win against the Padres and placed the Cubs atop the NL Central–albeit short lived following the Game 2 loss. (However, the Cubs are still in a four-way tie for first in the Central).

But also of significance is the shot of confidence the hit provided Johnson, who’s struggled offensively coming off the bench.

Hitting a messily .182 before his pinch-hit bomb in the 11th inning, Reed followed that up going 3-for-4 with a double and RBI in Game 2.

All totaled, Johnson went 4-for-5 on the day…raising his average to .355.

With Reed showing a hot hand, it will be interesting to see if Quade stays with him in the short-term as a starter. Tyler Colvin, after all, is hitting .136.

Regardless, we know Reed’s calling card is his glove, not his bat. But I’m happy to see ‘White Slice’ back with the Cubs, and contributing on both sides of the plate.

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Bullpen Session – Uncle Julio

By bullpenbrian - January 13, 2011 - 12:01 am Leave a comment.

The Bullpen Session is a weekly round-up of my observations surrounding Cubs baseball and much, much more!

–Not a good football week for me. I wrapped up my weekly NFL season picks at 161-95 (.628), far below my goal of (.700), went 2-2 in my postseason picks and found out my Colts pants aren’t that lucky after all.

My Wild Card picks included Colts, Ravens, Packers and Saints. This week I’m taking Pats, Ravens, Packers and the Bears.

–Meanwhile, Colts fans are crucifying coach Jim Caldwell for calling a timeout with 29 seconds left during the Colts 17-16 loss to New York.

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Missing Reed Johnson

By bullpenbrian - May 27, 2010 - 12:30 am Leave a comment.

Feels like forever since we’ve seen Reed Johnson at Wrigley Field.

In fact, it’s been a whole year considering Reed missed most of ’09 due to injury.

Back spasms in late June kept him out until July…then a fractured left foot on July 30 sidelined him until September 21.

All totaled, Johnson played just 65 games…was left unsigned after the season and eventually signed with L.A. in February.

Now he’s back doing his old thing…platooning against left-handed pitching and playing where needed around the outfield.

The only problem for Reed is playing time, which is scarce given the Dodgers’ outfield leads all of baseball in batting average, RBI and On-base percentage.

The payoff, presumably, is Johnson’s opportunity to again make the post-season roster…and the Dodgers are headed that way, closing in on San Diego with its Major League-best 17-7 record in May.

The best we can hope for now is to see Johnson back at Wrigley this October…if the Cubs can only hold up its end of the deal!

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Xavier Nady A Chicago Cub

By bullpenbrian - January 27, 2010 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

Signing Xavier Nady is a smart short-term risk for the Cubs.

One-year, $3.3M with incentives is a little pricier than signing Johnny Gomes or re-signing Reed Johnson, but Nady’s a solid all-around ballplayer, well above average coming off the bench, and durable enough to start if need be.

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Cubs Bullpen Session

By bullpenbrian - January 14, 2010 - 1:15 am Leave a comment.

–I wonder what Mark McGwire didn’t like about Sammy Sosa?

According to former Cub Steve Trachsel, who served up McGwire’s record-setting 62nd home run in 1998, cheater Mac was never a fan of cheater Sammy.

–Lou Piniella, however, feels bad for McGwire saying:

“It was difficult doing what he did. It was probably something that needed to be done. America forgives and forgets. I don’t think there is anybody out there that hasn’t done something that they don’t feel sorry for.”

“I would probably think that down the road he will be a Hall of Famer. Maybe not in the first few ballots, but people tend to forget, and rightfully so.”

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