Series Preview – Brewers @ Cubs; April 8 – April 10, 2013

Finally some home baseball!  There really is nothing like the home opener at Wrigley, I love watching baseball there, on TV or in person.  The Cubs welcome the banged up Brewers to town for a three game set.  The Cubs need to find some hits and more importantly runs, both have been at a premium so far this season.  The Brewers are struggling as well, I mentioned they were banged up, they are also losing, five straight in fact.

Last Series:

Cubs suffered a three game sweep at the hands of the Braves in Atlanta

The Brewers were swept in a three game series by the D-Backs at home

Game Times and Broadcast Information:

  • Monday, April 8, 2013 – 1:20 PM CST on WGN TV
  • Tuesday, April 9, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on WGN TV
  • Wednesday, April 10, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on CSN+ (click to find your channel)

Starting Pitchers Scheduled:


Game One – Edwin Jackson (0-1, 3.60 ERA)
– Career vs. Milwaukee (7 GS)  (3-2, 3.06 ERA)

Game Two – Travis Wood (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
– Career vs. Milwaukee (7 appearances, 6 GS) (3-2, 3.40 ERA)

Game Three – Scott Feldman (0-1, 7.71 ERA)
– Career vs. Milwaukee (1 GS) (1-0, 0.00 ERA)


Game One – Marco Estrada (0-0, 7.20)
– Career vs. Cubs (8 appearances, 3 GS)  (2-0, 3.86 ERA)

Game Two – Wily Peralta (0-1, 6.75 ERA)
– Career vs. Cubs (First appearance)

Game Three – Kyle Lohse (0-0, 1.50 ERA)
– Career vs. Cubs (16 GS) (4-4, 5.17 ERA)

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not:

The Cubs are coming off a tough series in Atlanta where they should have had at least one win, maybe two.  Unfortunately the bats remained cold as they rank 29th in the Majors in average, on base percentage, runs, and slugging percentage.  The Cubs best hitter right now is Welington Castillo, “beef” is hitting .357 (5-for-14) on the season.  There are a number of Cubs hitters struggling as I mentioned, Valbuena, DeJesus, and Soriano would have to be at the top of that list.  The pitching on the other hand has been outstanding, sans Carlos Marmol of course.  The Cubs have a team ERA of 3.75 which is 14th best in the Majors, and that includes the last two games where they gave up a total of eleven run.

To say the Brewers are banged up might be an understatement.  Ryan Braun has missed the last three games, and might miss the series opener today, Jean Segura is hobbled, and Aramis Ramirez is out of the lineup indefinitely, and Corey Hart hasn’t played a game yet.  The Brewers have been scoring runs, and hitting as of late, but three of the guys that I mentioned as being hurt are their top hitters so far.  Rickie Weeks is having a bounce back year so far as he is hitting .333 on the season so far.  Norichika Aoki has been on fire as well as he is hitting .370 (10-for-27) in the early going.  Pitching is an issue for the Brewers as they have a team ERA of 5.68 “good” for 28th in the Majors.

Bold Prediction:

I think the Cubs get the bats going this week at Wrigley, finally feeling comfortable being at home.  The Cubs take two out of three from the Brewers this week, winning the first and third game of the series.

Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
– George


Cubs Collapse Late Against Brewers

For whatever reason the Cubs can’t solve the Brewers, they not only lose to the Brewers, they get blown out by them.  The Cubs raced to an early 3-1 lead last night but couldn’t hold it as Aramis Ramirez and company pushed across three runs in the 5th to take a 4-3 lead.  A Brett Jackson home run in the bottom of the sixth made it 5-4 Brewers, but that was as close as the Cubs would get as the bullpen exploded late.  After giving up one run in the 8th the Cubs pen put on a show in the ninth surrendering nine runs on eight hits.  The best performance on the mound in the ninth inning belonged to Cubs utility outfielder Joe Mather who tossed one-third of an inning giving up only a single.  No word yet if Mather will have a shot to make the team next year out of the bullpen  It was more of the same for the Cubs at the plate against Brewers pitching.  By  more of the same I mean striking out, a lot, as the Cubs fanned 15 times last night, this coming on the heels of striking out 39 times in the three game series in Milwaukee last week.  As I mentioned Brett Jackson went deep, he is locked in right now, he finished the night 1-for-3 with his fourth home run, two walks, an RBI, and a run scored.


Game Highlights:
DeJesus Adventure
Castro Turns a Nice Double Play
Jackson Solo Shot
Soriano’s RBI Double

Thanks for reading,
– George



Do Cubs Fans Know What They Have in Castro?

It hasn’t been the best week for Starlin Castro, or the Cubs for that matter.  In the past week Castro has attempted a stolen base and didn’t slide (you rarely see that), and more troubling forgot how many outs there were on a potential inning ending double play so he didn’t even attempt to turn it.  Some people say that it doesn’t matter because the guy would have beat the throw, wrong, it does matter, and it’s everything that Sveum, Theo, and the whole Cubs organization is trying to get rid of.  The result of this rough week was Dale Sveum putting Castro on notice, ““It’s something that’s obviously unacceptable at any time,” Sveum said. “Whether we could have turned the double play is irrelevant to not knowing how many outs there are in the most important part of the game. These things have to stop happening or we’re just going to stop playing [him]. These kind of things are things my son does in high school. Maybe …. I’ll have a good talking to him. It’s the last straw. If he wants to play, he better start getting his head in the game, period.”  Sveum has it exactly right, this can’t go on, and Sveum handled it correctly, something Cubs fans could learn from.

The overwhelming majority of Cubs fans be it on twitter, message boards, etc. are clamoring for Castro to be traded now.  The erroneous USA Today report claiming that Castro could be had for the right price was what planted the seed in the head of Cubs fans, like Inception.  Then Castro’s recent “brain farts” just made the thought of trading Castro make so much sense.  Any good General Manager listens to offers for every player because there is no way of telling what another team thinks your player is worth until you hear what they will give up.  That said, a great General Manager knows when to say no thanks, we will keep our superstar.  I can see the argument from fans, I really can, move Castro and get two great prospects in return.  I can see why some would say that, but I can’t see why a handful of mistakes from a 22-year-old are grounds to be traded.  That leads me to ask the question, do Cubs fans really know what they have in Starlin Castro?  My answer, no, they don’t.

Let’s break down the two different scenario’s that would be a reason to trade Castro.  First, let’s say that some team will offer the Cubs two A level prospects in return for Castro.  Seems like the perfect scenario for a rebuilding club that needs to get better in many areas.  Plus the Cubs have the likes of Junior Lake and Javier Baez, both shortstops for now, rising through the system.  Here is my problem with that.  Junior Lake is the same age as Starlin Castro, yet fans can’t get enough of Lake because he is “already” at Double-A Tennessee.  Guys, Starlin Castro received five Rookie of the Year votes in 2010, made the National League all-star team in 2011, and also received 23 MVP votes in 2011…. Junior Lake is in Double-A.  Javier Baez is the other kid that gets mentioned when the talk of moving Castro comes up.  You think Castro looks listless on the field, wait till you see Baez.  The kid knows he’s good, and when that happens they come across to the average fan as not caring about their craft.  Problem is the game is so easy for them and it has been for so long, kind of like it is for Castro right now.  Baez currently sits at Low-A Peoria, and he’s doing well, he’s 19 years old….Starlin Castro hit .300 at the Major League level when he was 20.  Seeing a trend here?  Any “prospect” is just that, a prospect, no one knows how they will develop, why take the chance of having a prospect become a good player when Castro already is and he could be great.  Same goes for what the Cubs would receive in one of these deals.  There is no guarantee that anyone received in a deal, no matter how highly praised they are, turn out to be anything close to Castro, it’s not worth the risk.

The second scenario where Cubs fans could justify moving Castro is his mental lapses on the field during games.  Think about that for a second, some Cubs fans are saying that an acceptable reason for saying goodbye to a 22-year-old shortstop that has 416 career hits in 338 career games is that he didn’t slide, or he forgot how many outs there were…. really?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making excuses for Castro, and I agree with the way Sveum is handling it by threatening a benching, but that’s it.  Sure Castro needs to start focusing a lot better when playing this game, but his lack of focus is not even close to an adequate reason for dealing Castro.  According to these fans then when Castro strolls into Wrigley five years from now (27 years old) and goes 4-for-5 with a home run, a triple, two stolen bases, and 4 RBI’s off of our still trying to figure it out pitcher it will be okay because he thought there was one out in an inning instead of two outs five years ago.

I have no problem with Cubs fans offering their opinion on what to do with Castro, but the fact that they think there is a need to do something with Castro other than sit back and watch him develop into an elite shortstop proves my point.  Cubs fans do not know what they have in Starlin Castro.  I know that the last thing fans need to see when a team is bad is a player that has repeated mental lapses.  It’s easy to take your frustration out on Starlin Castro, but what he does contributes more towards winning than losing.  Just remember who Castro’s influences at the Major League level have been.  Year one, Lou Piniella on his farewell tour.  Year two, Mike Quade who tried the approach that so many Cubs fans are right now, throw the best and youngest player on the team under the bus, we see how that worked out.  Both years, Aramis Ramirez, if we learned anything from Aramis it was how not to hustle, how not to field your position, and how to care less about the game.  Castro will get better with his focus, and with his production which is already terrific, if he doesn’t, he will sit down for a few games, but he will still be a Cub, and rightfully so.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Cubs Go Down Fighting Against Brewers

There are going to be games like this one, odds are there are going to be a lot of games like this one, and I’m okay with that.  The Cubs have now lost three of their first four games on the season, and probably couldn’t lose three more difficult ways if they tried.  Monday night’s episode included two successful squeeze bunts by the Brewers, and a furious ninth inning rally only to end in horrible, mind numbing defeat.

Continue reading “Cubs Go Down Fighting Against Brewers”

April 9-12; vs. Brewers – Series Preview

Milwaukee Brewers Logo - Brewers scripted in blue and gold with blue ring

The Cubs begin divisional play tonight as they welcome they neighbors to the North the Milwaukee Brewers.  This will be Ryan Braun’s first visit to Wrigley Field after news of his positive steroid test became public, I’m sure the Wrigley faithful will remind him of that.  It also marks the return of Aramis Ramirez, not sure what to expect from him, there will either be a lot of Roger Dorn attempts in the field and ground balls that aren’t run out, or we will see Aramis circa 2003 as he will be motivated to prove to the Cubs that he isn’t done yet.

Continue reading “April 9-12; vs. Brewers – Series Preview”

March 10, 2012 – Cubs Lineup vs Brewers

Geovany Soto is healthy enough to make his Spring debut today against the Brewers.  The Cubs travel to Maryvale today to battle Dale Sveum’s former team, and Aramis Ramirez’s new team, the Brewers.  Ryan Dempster gets the start today, first pitch is at 2:05 central.  The game will be on WGN TV, and national league rules are back in play, so no more dh.  Check back after the game for a full recap.  Here’s how the Cubs lineup.

1. RF – David DeJesus
2. LF – Reed Johnson
3. SS – Starlin Castro
4. 1B – Bryan LaHair
5. C – Geovany Soto
6. 3B – Ian Stewart
7. 2B – Darin Barney
8. CF – Tony Campana
9. P – Ryan Dempster

New Look Cubs Begin to Take Shape

Lost in the hoopla surrounding the Cubs since the end of the season was the little matter of deciding Mike Quade’s future.  Even if we, and most Cub fans knew that Mike Quade was not Major League manager material, the Cubs brass

Dale Sveum is Introduced as the 52nd Cubs Manager

needed to make that official.  Shortly after the Cubs front office was completely re energized, the no brainer decision to let Mike Quade pursue other opportunities, most likely in the minors or outside of baseball was made.  We will give Epstein some credit here with the way he handled the process of letting Quade go, very professional.  He made multiple trips to meet with Quade, and had a number of conversations with him and others in the organization to see if he would be a good fit, not based on what he had done it the past, but where he thought, and wanted this team to go in the future.  Clearly, Quade’s idea’s did mesh with the idea’s of the new regime that was now in place, and he was let go from his two year deal that had one year remaining on it.  Epstein and company didn’t have to go far to find the 52nd manager of the Chicago Cubs, just a short trip up I-94 to Milwaukee to find Dale Sveum.  Sveum, serving as the third base coach in 2004 with the Red Sox, won a World Series title with Epstein.  Since 2006, Sveum was on the Brewers coaching staff with titles ranging from third base coach, to bench coach, and to most recently hitting coach.  Sveum did get a crack at the managerial position albeit a short one in 2008 when he took over for Ned Yost and led the Brewers to a 7-5 record down the stretch and a NL Wild Card berth.  Along with Sveum, the following coaches will be joining the Cubs this season...

Continue reading “New Look Cubs Begin to Take Shape”