Well it’s official, the Alfonso Soriano era in Chicago is now over, and that comes with mixed feelings among Cubs fans. Soriano carried the Cubs in 2007 and 2008, the first two seasons with the club as the Cubs made the playoffs both years only to fizzle out. During these seasons Soriano was beloved, chants of Sor-i-ano could be heard all over the Country as Cubs fans flocked to opposing teams ballparks during the stretch run. I was one of those fans, I still remember going to Cincinnati in September of 2007 to watch Soriano blast home run after home run as the Cubs closed in on a division title. Post 2008 was a different story, the Cubs are 335-418 since winning the division with a 97-64 record in 2008. This is where most of the mixed feelings come from, Soriano was signed to an eight year contract worth $136 million by then general manager Jim Hendry. There was no way that Soriano could live up to that contract, especially given the fact that his legs basically gave out in 2009 which resulted in a .241 average and only twenty home runs. Soriano had somewhat of a resurgence the last two years which won some fans back, but the majority of the fans that will miss him will miss him for his leadership.
As Dale Sveum said yesterday, Soriano is one of the top five professional players that he has been around in this game. His work ethic, his leadership, his ability to play in a big market and never get too high or low based on his performance are things that will be missed. But today is a big day for the Cubs, they have finally moved out of the Jim Hendry era and seem to be pointed in the right direction. The only player remaining from the 2008 team is Jeff Samardzija, the longest tenured position player is now Starlin Castro, think about that, and I think that’s a good thing. Today, MLB approved a deal that is sending Soriano back to the Yankees and Corey Black will be coming over to the Cubs. Black is a twenty one year-old right handed pitcher with a big arm. Black has routinely hit 100 mph, and sits consistently at 95 mph, that’s an arm that works in the bullpen at the major league level. As you can imagine, a guy with that arm has a lot of walks, a lot of strikeouts, and doesn’t get hit too often. In 131 innings as a pro Black has given up three home runs, three. So best of luck to Soriano in New York, can’t say that I’m sad to see him leave, but I do appreciate how hard he worked on a bad team, bottom line is that he needed to go in order for the Cubs to completely move forward, and they are ready to do that.
What about the money?? Soriano has about $6.5 million remaining on this years $18 million salary, and is owed $18 million again next year. The Yankees will pay $6.8 million of the remaining balance, $1.8 M in 2013 and $5 M in 2014. So the Cubs are still going to eat the majority of the money.
There’s hot, and then there is what Alfonso Soriano is doing. Soriano is unconscious at the plate right now, his latest reminder to the rest of baseball that he can play was a two home run performance last night as the Cubs pounded the Angels 7-2 for their fourth straight win. In his last eleven games Soriano is hitting .400 with eight home runs, and seventeen RBI’s, wow. Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, and Darwin Barney also got in on the long ball fun to pace the Cubs attack. On a night where every fly ball was dangerous Travis Wood carved up a dangerous Angels lineup. Wood worked 6.2 innings giving up two runs on four hits while walking two and striking out five to pick up his sixth win of the season. The Cubs are now eight games under .500 and nine games out of a wild card spot, just pointing that out, not insinuating anything, yet.
PICTURE OF THE GAME
This should have happened a month ago, but because of rain Cubs fans had to wait another month for full bragging rights. The Cubs pounded the White Sox for the fourth straight game the result was a four game season sweep. The Cubs offense had it going late as they pounded out thirteen hits and scored eight runs, six of those runs coming in the eighth and ninth inning to break it open. Alfonso Soriano is putting on a show for the rest of baseball, he was 3-for-4 with his thirteenth home run of the season, a walk, two stolen bases, a double, and three runs scored. Soriano’s trade value is climbing with each passing day, and a game like last night shows teams that are interested that this guy isn’t done. Speaking of trade value, Matt Garza got the start and was brilliant once again going seven innings giving up two runs, one earned, on five hits while striking out six to pick up his fifth win of the season.
PICTURE OF THE GAME
July 31st is awfully close, here come the Soriano bombs! Alfonso Soriano padded his trade value today while also helping the Cubs dispatch a team they haven’t been able to buy a win against, the Pirates. Soriano blasted two, two-run homers in back to back innings, one in the fourth and another in the fifth. That was all the Cubs needed as Edwin Jackson was stellar, again. Jackson went 5.2 innings giving up one run on four hits while walking two and striking out three to earn his fifth win of the season. The Cubs pen was outstanding today, try to contain your shock and enthusiasm, actually let it run wild, this is a rare occurrence. James Russell, Matt Guerrier, and Kevin Gregg all had scoreless appearances with Gregg picking up his fifteenth save of the year, speaking of trade value.
PICTURE OF THE GAME
This is starting to resemble a real winning streak, not just a few games, but an actual legitimate winning streak. The Cubs had everything working for them today as they pitched, hit, and played solid defense, that usually wins a lot of games. The Cubs only needed one inning in this one as they scored five times in the third inning to take a 7-0 lead en route to a 7-2 victory, their fifth straight. The big blow came from Scott Hairston, who must have been taking pointers from Travis Wood before the game as he mashed a grand slam, just like Wood did a day earlier. After the third inning the Cubs didn’t do much with the bats, but they didn’t need to as Matt Garza was outstanding in picking up his first win of the season. Garza worked seven strong innings giving up two runs on six hits while striking out four, he didn’t walk anybody. Over the last five games, the Cubs are 15-for-38 with runners in scoring position, that is mind-boggling for a team that hasn’t been above .200 as a team in what seems like forever.
PICTURE OF THE GAME
Maybe it was because it was getaway day, maybe it was the hour and forty-seven minute rain delay, but the Cubs were seemingly ready to get out of Pittsburgh as fast as possible in this one. The Pirates jumped all over Edwin Jackson early as they scored twice in each of the first two innings, and that was plenty to silence the already quiet Cubs. To the Cubs credit, they shut the Pirates down the rest of the way but once again couldn’t find enough offense. The Cubs were able to score once in the fourth and once in the seventh, but they couldn’t string together a rally, not even a fake one. For the series, the Cubs only scored six times and walk away with three straight losses. Not a great start to an eight game road trip as the Cubs now head to Cincinnati for a three game weekend series, this trip could end up disastrous.
At The Plate – The Cubs could only manage seven hits in this one, and were 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position, so not a lot of chances all day. David DeJesus was back in the starting lineup and was 1-for-4 with a double, his thirteenth of the season. Starlin Castro was 2-for-4 with two singles in the loss to get his average back up to .270 on the season. Alfonso Soriano, Darwin Barney were the only other Cubs in the starting lineup to get hits, Scott Hairston and Ryan Sweeney added hits off the bench.
On The Mound – Edwin Jackson had a rough go of it, then the rains game to end is day. Jackson worked three innings giving up four runs on six hits while walking one and striking out six, his record fell to 1-7 on the season. The Cubs pen was outstanding in this one, go figure. They worked a combined five scoreless innings giving up three hits while walking two and striking out five. Rafael Dolis, Carlos Villanueva, Carlos Marmol, and Kyuji Fujikawa were the ones that did the stellar work.
Up Next – The Cubs travel to Cincinnati to take on the Reds this weekend, another stiff test. Series preview coming up shortly.
Another frustrating one run loss for the Cubs, just when you thought they might be starting to win these close games today happens. It was a stiff test as the Cubs were facing off against all everything Matt Harvey, and he was as good as advertised, well, after the first inning. After falling behind 1-0 on a David Wright home run in the first the Cubs answered right back with two runs in the bottom half to take a 2-1 lead. Edwin Jackson pitched right with Harvey for the whole game until Harvey got in his way, with the bat. That’s right, not only did Harvey get the win on the mound, but he got the game winning hit in the seventh inning. The Cubs still had a chance in this one, but a questionable send by third base coach David Bell took the Cubs out of the eighth inning. Bell has been fine all year, so I’m not going to pin this on him, but it hurts to have the game tying run cut down at the plate for the second out of the inning when it could have been first and third with one out with Castro and Rizzo coming to the plate.
At The Plate – The Cubs didn’t have much going against Harvey, but did have a very good first inning, and threatened late. The Cubs could only manage six hits on the day, but were 2-for-3 with runners in scoring position. Starlin Castro had a solid day going 2-for-4 with a run scored, he’s now hitting .287 on the season. Anthony Rizzo was 1-for-4 with a double, his twelfth of the season, and a run scored. Alfonso Soriano, David DeJesus, and Darwin Barney recorded the other hits in the game.
On The Mound – Edwin Jackson was solid, but ended up registering his sixth loss of the season. Jackson worked 6.2 innings giving up three runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out four. James Russell was solid out of the pen going 1.1 scoreless innings giving up one hit while striking out two. Kyuji Fujikawa was continues to string together good outings going one scoreless inning while striking out two.