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Tony Campana slices left hand, gets eight stitches

By bullpenbrian - March 8, 2013 - 12:15 pm Leave a comment.

Tony Campana Chicago Cubs

The scrappy former Cubs outfielder sliced his left hand while attempting to steal second base in a Cactus League game yesterday. The laceration required eight stitches.

Campana (.222/.263/.389) has 4 hits in 19 plate appearances this spring, including 2 runs batted in and a run scored. He’s drawn 1 walk vs. 5 strikeouts and is 1-for-2 in stolen bases. 

Per Hardball Talk:

“Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that Diamondbacks outfielder Tony Campana suffered a lacerated left hand Thursday while trying to steal second base during a Cactus League game against the Brewers and wound up needing eight stitches.

Campana will likely be held out of baseball activities for the next several days while the laceration heals.

The 26-year-old speedster was acquired from the Cubs this offseason in exchange for minor league right-handers Erick Leal and Jesus Castillo. He boasts 54 stolen bases in 59 career attempts and is currently in the running for a spot on Arizona’s bench.”


Where Tony Campana fits with the Diamondbacks

By bullpenbrian - February 19, 2013 - 12:00 pm Leave a comment.

Tony Campana
Two pitchers for Tony Campana? What a steal.

I figured Campana would hit waivers, get claimed, and the Cubs would simply enjoy freeing up a roster spot.

Instead, the Cubs receive two 17-year-old, right-handed pitchers in return: Erick Leal and Jesus Castillo.

Who knows where either pitcher ends up with the Cubs? They’re barely legal age, let alone, years off from making any sort of run at the big leagues. But the fact is, at least the Cubs got ‘something‘ for Campana, which is a bonus.

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks, who have a formidable club this season, finished 12/16 in the National League in stolen bases last year. And only Pittsburgh (52) was caught stealing more times than Arizona (51).

Campana is 54/59 in stolen bags the past two seasons, including 30 swipes in 2012. He immediately helps replace the 18 stolen bases lost to Atlanta with the trade of Justin Upton, who tied Paul Goldschmidt for the team lead last season.

Trading for Campana is obviously a move that makes sense for Arizona, who will need every edge competing against the defending world champion Giants and the heavy firepower of the Dodgers.

But this is also an opportunity for Campana to hear new voices and receive new instruction on becoming a better hitter. His fate is ultimately tied to improving his bat and his on-base percentage, which he didn’t do in Chicago.

Campana lovers, pay attention. The D-backs have one scheduled visit to Wrigley Field this upcoming season. It happens during a three-game weekend series from May 31 to June 2. The Cubs then travel to Arizona following the All-Star break for a four-game series from July 22-25.


Cutting Tony Campana A Sign The Cubs Are Improving

By bullpenbrian - February 11, 2013 - 9:15 am 6 comments.

Tony Campana
I know many Cubs fans are disappointed Tony Campana was DFA.
He’s a likeable guy. A fan favorite with a good story.
A cancer survivor. A scrappy white guy who made the bigs.
Tony the person is easy to root for, the ballplayer, not so much.
World class speed and base stealing abilities are not enough.
Good for a 101-loss team, sure. But not where the Cubs are heading.
Cutting Campana is a sign the Cubs’ roster is improving.
There’s more overall talent and less opportunity for fringe players.
In the end, that’s all we really want as fans.
The most talented players who give the team its best chance to win.


Cubs Outfield Depth, Alfonso Soriano and Phone Books

By bullpenbrian - January 30, 2013 - 9:15 am Leave a comment.

Yellow Pages dropped off a brick of 12 phone books at my condo complex this week, which I lugged inside the main doors while wondering when’s the last time I used an actual phone book to look up anything? Pre 2000 is my best guess.

I can’t help but think the printing of phone books is dead money to the company. But two days later the books had disappeared from inside the main walkway. I’m thinking another resident hauled them away…probably to the dumpster.
The addition of Scott Hairston last week gives the Cubs some quality outfield depth the roster lacked in 2012. It’s not a dynamic outfield by any means, but it should, in theory, help improve a weak offense and help bridge the gap to guys like Brett Jackson, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora.

Here’s a closer look at the Cubs outfield heading into spring camp and how it could play out if Alfonso Soriano is traded…CLICK HERE


Another Former Cub Joins John Vander Wal Tour of Duty

By bullpenbrian - January 14, 2013 - 11:45 pm Leave a comment.

John Vander Wal
John Vander Wal was the hitting equivalent of a ‘loogy’: an average big leaguer whose left-
handed swing kept in the game until he was 38.

His lifetime career average vs. right-handed pitching is .267 with an .819 OPS. He also amassed 126 career pinch hits, 17 of which were home runs.

Vander Wal never played for the Cubs but frequently played against the North Siders while spending the later half of his career on a rust belt tour of the NL Central. First Pittsburgh, then Milwaukee and finally Cincinnati (2004).

Jim Edmonds followed Vander Wal’s lead four years later when he left St. Louis and ended up with the Cubs in May of 2008 at the ripe age of 38.

Chicago parted ways with Edmonds after one season despite his 19 HR, 49 RBI and 135 OPS+ in 85-
games. He took the next year off and then signed with Milwaukee, who in turn traded Edmonds to the Reds in August of 2010; his ‘John Vander Wal Tour of Duty’ now complete.

Corey Patterson is another who’s stepped into Vander Wal’s footprints. A lefty batter who broke in with the Cubs and later bounced from Cincinnati to Milwaukee to St. Louis (among other stops).

And now another left-handed journeyman, and former Cub, is on the brink of turning the Vander Wal trick. Cesar Izturis, 33, who played for the Cubs (2006-07), the Pirates (2007), St. Louis (2008) and Milwaukee (2012) has signed a minor league deal with the Reds.

In the name of John Vander Wal, who’s next! Louis Valbuena, Tony Campana, Brett Jackson?


Cubs Slumps: Castro, LaHair & Campana

By bullpenbrian - August 7, 2012 - 2:55 pm 4 comments.

It’s hard to ignore the offensive struggles of Starlin Castro, Bryan LaHair and Tony Campana.

Despite adopting a more disciplined plate approach since the firing of Rudy Jaramillo, which should help in the long run, Castro hasn’t been the same batter that led the NL in hits last season (207).

That doesn’t mean Starlin won’t break out of his funk before season’s end, but we can expect Castro to put together some better quality at-bats. Not to mention, this kid is so super-talented it’s only a matter of time before he settles back into being the Cubs’ premier hitter in the lineup.

LaHair’s slump, however, is far more concerning. He’s simply been brutal since mid-June, which helps explain why the Cubs didn’t feel they could receive enough value in return to trade him last week.

Surviving the trade deadline should’ve been LaHair’s golden opportunity to be an everyday player for the Cubs in the season’s second half. Instead, Team Theo opted to promote Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters.

The roster move is certain to leave LaHair riding the pine as a role player until he makes the needed adjustments to return to his brilliant hot start to the season, one that earned him All Star honors.

Perhaps the biggest challenge for LaHair is regaining his confidence. It’s vanished over his last 100 at-bats. He looks lost, over-matched and generally defeated at the dish.

Not even Tony Campana can outrun the slump-bug, which is why he was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Sunday to make room for the arrivals of Jackson & Vitters.

Aside from being a cute base stealing threat, Campana expectedly fell back to earth after his hot start in April.

It’s clearly evident Campana is over-matched by big league pitching–and has been all year. He rarely puts together quality at-bats and what little success Campana has had this season has been fleeting at best.

Both he and the Cubs are best served getting the scrappy lefty more playing time in Iowa vs. sitting the bench on a team with zero need for a pinch-runner.

Starlin Castro

  • Since July 6 – Last 99 at-bats
  • .232/.276/.434
  • 23 hits, 3 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 12 RBI – 5 BB, 12 K

Bryan LaHair

  • Since June 18 – Last 100 at-bats
  • .210/.282/.300
  • 21 hits, 2 HR, 3 2B, 5 RBI – 10 BB, 41 K

Tony Campana

  • Since May 14 – Last 98 at-bats
  • .204/.243/.214
  • 20 hits, 1 2B, 2 RBI, – 5 BB, 29 K – 18/19 stolen bases

Still In Love With Tony Campana?

By bullpenbrian - June 7, 2012 - 11:00 am Leave a comment.

Much to the chagrin of many Cubs fans, we’re finally seeing the true limits of Tony Campana’s abilities as a major league player.

Since a blistering start to the season when Campana finished the month of April hitting .370 with a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen bases, his average has plummeted 93-points during the last 30-games with 11 steals and three caught stealing.


Best Win of 2012 For Cubs, Maholm

By bullpenbrian - April 28, 2012 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

Anyone opposed to calling the Cubs 5-1 win against Philly Friday night the best victory of the season? I’m not.

Not only did Chicago snap a 5-game road losing streak, Paul Maholm outdueled Doc Halladay, the offense manufactured some runs and Rafael Dolis held down a late inning lead for his first big league save.

Big tip of the cap to Maholm who evened his record at (2-2) with his deepest outing of the season, 6.1 IP.

You can’t ignore the fact Philadelphia is challenged offensively. They’re ranked 14/16 in the NL in runs scored (Cubs are 10th). Chase Utley & Ryan Howard are on the DL and J-Roll is mired in a 3-for-37 slump. But give Maholm credit for taking advantage.

At one point the lefty retired 15 batters in a row. He didn’t allow a singe base on balls and trusted his defense to gobble up 14 ground ball outs.

Huge outing for Maholm. Huge lift for the Cubs (7-13).


Campana An Everyday Player?

By bullpenbrian - April 25, 2012 - 6:35 pm 2 comments.

I know this post will be unpopular from the onset.

Tony Campana, with his blazing speed and boyish good looks, has won over throngs of Cubs fans, but that doesn’t make him an everyday player.

There’s no denying the kid’s been off to a hot start since joining the Cubs to replace Marlon Byrd.

He has five hits, four stolen bases and two sacrifices, enough for Dale Sveum to move him to the two-hole in favor of Darwin Barney. (Interesting because Barney is batting .304, 9 RS & 7 RBI from two-hole).

Campana, however, still appears overmatched at the plate. He’s struck out in nearly half his at-bats, often looking desperate to make contact.

Opposing pitchers have figured out his shtick, too. They pound the strike zone with hooks knowing the slap-hitter will flail wildly, which helps explain Campana’s lone walk and zero extra base hits.

Supporters of Campana point to the fact he’s only 25-years-old, a career .303 hitter in the minor leagues and plays a good center field. If Sveum would only give him a chance…

But I’ll remind you the same was said about Felix Pie four years ago, who had striking similarities to Campana’s game: singles hitter, fast, decent fielder and far too often overmatched offensively.


Cubs Déjà vu All Over Again!

By bullpenbrian - April 25, 2012 - 1:10 am Leave a comment.

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.


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