Per a report, Carlos Marmol has been accused of domestic violence, no charges as of yet. These stories are tricky as I’m sure multi-million dollar athletes are the target of blackmail and extortion all the time, so obviously we should wait to hear some details before claiming Carlos Marmol is a woman beater. Remember last year during the off-season when Starlin Castro was also accused of assault, details were sketchy at the time of that event as well and turned out to be nothing. Domestic violence is not a joke, and should not be joked about so I really hope this is just a story of someone trying to get rich quick instead of Marmol being despicable. The report is coming out of the Dominican Republic and names a 24-year-old defendant in the claim. Here is the full story, in Spanish if you would like to read it over, I can’t, at least not all of it. There has not been a statement from Marmol or the Cubs about this story but I’m sure that once it starts making the rounds, like it is currently doing, the team will be forced to address it.
With all of that said, players do share responsibility to put themselves in better situations, like Castro last year. It’s an assumed risk of being a ballplayer, like I said, hopefully there is no weight to this claim and it will be non news once again, as soon as details emerge I’ll pass them along.
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As reported by Ken Rosenthal the Cubs have reached an agreement pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa. The 32- year- old closer has pitched the last six years for the Hanshin Tigers in Japan where he has 202 career saves with a 1.36 ERA. The deal is for two years with a vesting option worth 9.5 million. According to Rosenthal the deal breaks down as follows: $1M signing bonus, $4M for both 2013 and 2014 seasons, plus $5.5M or $6M based on games finished. If the option does not vest their is a $500K buyout.
It was speculated that Fujikawa was going to sign with the Angels, but the Cubs swooped in and grabbed him. The Cubs will now have a decision to make, whether Carlos Marmol or Fujikawa will close. I am sure the Cubs will still actively be trying to move Marmol, so we will just have to wait and see what happens. Even if Marmol does not get moved I would not be surprised to see Fujikawa as the closer.
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Seems like just yesterday we here at Born on Third were getting ready to cover Opening Day, and just like that it’s over. Crazy how time flies, and I didn’t expect it to go so fast given how bad the Cubs were this year. I was expecting just the opposite, for it to drag on and on, and I guess it did towards the end there but the reality of no Cubs baseball for four months is starting to sink in. Let’s take a look back at some of the surprises and disappointments that we all barely lived through, this season.
Let’s start with the disappointments, there were plenty of them, I mean the team lost 101 games, you know how hard it was to write about 101 losses!? Sure the record was disappointing, but one could argue that it was expected, maybe 101 losses wasn’t expected, but the Cubs were going to be one of the worst teams in the league, we knew that. Let’s dig a little deeper into that futility, we should probably put on a Haz-Mat suit before doing so. The one thing we heard all offseason was this new “Cubs Way” – well that was thrown out there to mean a lot of things, one being patience, no not by the fans (we do need that though), but by the Cubs as a whole at the plate. So how did that go, you ask? Not very good, the Cubs drew 447 walks this season, that comes out to less than three a game, and was good for the fourth fewest in all of baseball. You could probably guess that the Cubs OBP was terrible as well, it was, the Cubs as a team had a .302 OBP this year, 2nd worst in baseball. This is something that has to change, and it will on Theo’s watch, I believe that it will. It’s hard to see that vision come to fruition however when the team on the field in “year one” was so terribly bad at it, or just refused to do it.
Let’s take a look at some poor individual performances…
Volstad, acquired in the Carlos Zambrano trade was a disaster, I can’t even say that he showed flashes of brilliance, maybe a flash, but not flashes. Volstad finished the season 3-12 with a 6.31 ERA, I can’t even spin that into anything positive. Volstad had a huge opportunity this year and took a step back, but all is not lost on the gigantic right hander. He will have every opportunity to pitch for this team next year, that is squarely on his shoulders, his huge shoulders, seriously, look at a picture of the guy pitching, it’s cartoonish.
For the first month or so of the season it looked as if Dolis’ name was going to end up on the surprise portion of the year-end recap, then things went bad. Dolis lost the strike zone, in doing so his confidence disappeared and his ERA sky rocketed. Dolis went from being the closer of the Cubs after taking over for Carlos Marmol to pitching and struggling at Triple-A. Dolis was called back up to finish off the season but the numbers were not good. He finished the year 2-4 with a 6.39 ERA and four saves. He does have one thing the Cubs need in the pen, a power arm, so he will have a shot to pitch for this team next year at 25 years old. If he wants to do so he has to clean up the walks, as he issued 23 in just 38 innings at the big league level this year.
I debated singling him out here, only because he was clearly hurt since last year in Colorado so I’m not sure how much we can really take from his season. But a lot more was expected from Ian Stewart, on the plus side he did play above average defense at third base. His season was shortened by much-needed wrist surgery, he finished the year hitting 5 home runs and 17 RBI’s. He did show the ability to work the count and take a walk, but at third base he was and will be expected to be a source of production. It remains to be seen if the Cubs will keep Stewart in their plans moving forward, I would like to see what a healthy Ian Stewart could do.
Other guys that I would say had disappointing years would be Darwin Barney’s bat, a sub .300 OBP from him is not acceptable. Lendy Castillo had a 7+ ERA, but Castillo is so young and could be a huge part of this teams bullpen when they are contending. Steve Clevenger took a nose dive after a very strong start, Starlin Castro’s mental lapses and subsequent errors. I think Castro improved greatly defensively, I think the errors were a result of focus or lack thereof. Should I mention the 12 game losing streak? I just did.
Now onto the positives, sure there were some.
He lived up to the hype, and there was plenty of it heading into the season and that hype only grew as he tore the cover off the ball in Iowa. He finally was called up to the Cubs on 6/26/2012, he had two hits in that game and never really looked back. Rizzo finished the campaign hitting .285 with 15 home runs, and 48 RBI’s in 87 games, so just over half a Major League season. The biggest thing here is that Rizzo showed the ability to adjust to major league pitchers. I’m not just talking about rebounding from last years dud with the Padres, this year he had a few skids but came out of those before they became too overwhelming. He is the Cubs 2013 starting first baseman, and will be for many years to come.
Wow. There really is no other word to describe his 2012 season, I guess shocked would apply to me. I was just that, shocked at what Soriano was able to accomplish not only with the bat, but with the glove. Soriano made one error all season, think about that for a second. This is the same guy that made 11 in 2009, 7 in 2010, and 7 in 2011, he worked his butt off and showed real improvement. Offensively he set a career high in RBI’s with 108, folks the Cubs only scored 613 runs as a team this season. Soriano also found the long ball again hitting 32 home runs, the most in one season since he hit 33 in 2007. There’s no telling he has earned the right to be back here next year, and that is somewhat up to him, but we will see how the Cubs deal with him in the coming months.
I really don’t care what other people think of him, but Starlin Castro had a fantastic year, and a couple of mental lapses got in the way of making it something really special. Castro became the first Cubs shortstop to play in all 162 games, ever. That shows me that he wants to be out there, mental errors can come with that kind of workload, he probably needed a day off here or there to avoid some of that but he just kept going out there. Castro hit .283 with 14 home runs (a career high), and 78 RBI’s (a career high), he also had 29 doubles and 12 triples for good measure. Castro inked a 7 year extension during the season, he will be a Cub for a long time, and that is a good thing.
There are a number of other guys that deserve to be mentioned as bright spots this year. Darwin Barney’s glove, Barney tied a major league record for consecutive error-less games at 141, and got to everything on the infield it seemed. Carlos Marmol’s second half, after a terrible first half Marmol finished the season strong and looked to be back to his un-hittable self late in the year. Travis Wood stepped into the rotation and did an adequate job for this team, if he can replicate those numbers or even improve upon them he can be a serviceable back of the rotation guy for the Cubs. Bryan LaHair’s first half was fun while it lasted, and earned him a trip to the all-star game, no reason to ignore that. Welington Castillo played his way into the 2013 starting lineup behind the plate as
It was a trying year for many, Dale Sveum included, and as I said around the all-star break I think Dale Sveum gets an incomplete for this season. There was not enough talent on this team to win baseball games, not matter how he managed them. What I did like seeing was the compete level of this team on most nights, sure over the course of a 162 game season there are going to be lackluster efforts. For the most part this team really never gave up, I will be interested to see how Sveum does when he starts getting pieces he can use to compete in games on a consistent basis, that’s when he can accurately be judged as a manager. I could have written about so much more but I think that sums up enough of what happened this season without going on forever, I’m really excited about the direction of this team, most of that excitement stems from the minor league system which we will continue to profile all offseason. Patience is still something fans will have to have as the Cubs are not going to have a team ready to be a contender next year. Sure, they should improve, and that’s what we need to look for, and it’s important we see that, one step at a time, thankfully for all of us I think the worst part just ended.
Thanks for reading all season long, we don’t take breaks so we will have great Cubs coverage all offseason for you. Go Cubs!
One day after the Cubs rallied in the ninth inning to tie the game and win in extra innings the Cardinals did the same thing. After trailing for the majority of the game today the Cubs broke through in the 6th inning, scoring three times to take a 4-3 lead. The Cubs pen held strong into the ninth, that’s when Carlos Marmol blew his first save in his last 20 chances by giving up a one out solo homer to Carlos Beltran to tie the game at four. Jaye Chapman took over in the 10th for the Cubs and after retiring the first two hitters he walked the next two guys which is all the Cardinals needed to take advantage. Jon Jay, who was 0-for-the series ripped a two out double down the right field line to put the Cardinals up for good. For the second straight day a Cubs starter struggled with pitch count, today it was Travis Wood. Wood went five innings giving up three runs on six hits while walking two and striking out seven, he settled for a no decision. Offensively the Cubs couldn’t get much strung together against Adam Wainwright. David DeJesus blasted his 8th home run of the season as he continues to haunt the Cardinals. Dave Sappelt had the biggest hit of the afternoon, an RBI single in the sixth inning to put the Cubs up 4-3, he finished 1-for-3 with a walk. The rubber game of the series will be tomorrow afternoon, which is also Kerry Wood appreciation day.
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It’s up to you, the reader, to decide whether or not you want to believe my headline, but I assure you that it is valid, and not a joke. This one was a struggle to get through, not only were two of the worst teams in baseball playing, but they did so for just under four hours. It’s hard to play a four hour game and only have five total runs scored, but the Cubs and Astros “accomplished” that feat last night. All’s well that ends well I guess as the Cubs wraped up what felt like the longest game of the year with a 4-1 victory. Chris Volstad was solid yet again for the Cubs as he tossed five strong innings giving up one run on four hits while walking five and striking out four. Volstad struggled with his command, see the five walks he surrendered, but he battled and made it through the fifth to not only qualify for, but register his third win of the season. The Cubs had an unlikely hero at the plate, I only say unlikely because Dave Sappelt doesn’t get a lot of playing time and hasn’t been up with the big club for very long this season. Cubs fans might want to get used to him because he most likely will have a role on the 2013 team, performances like last nights will go a long way in securing a spot on the roster next year for Sappelt. Sappy was 2-for-5 with two doubles, three RBI’s and a run scored in the victory, the three RBI’s are a career high.
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For the majority of the day the Cubs bats were silent, but sparked by a Brett Jackson game tying home run the Cubs exploded for three runs in the eighth inning for the victory. The Cubs fought all the way back from an early 3-0 deficit thanks to solo home runs from Alfonso Soriano, Welington Castillo, and the aforementioned Brett Jackson. Jeff Samardzija made the start for the Cubs and struggled early before settling down and battling his way through seven strong innings. Samardzija gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits while walking two and striking out seven but had to settle for a no decision. Shawn Camp and James Russell combined to take care of the eighth inning and Carlos Marmol came on in the ninth to notch his 16th save of the season. Don’t look now but Carlos Marmol has quietly turned his horrendous year into something respectable as his ERA is about to slip under 4.00. The Cubs didn’t have much going offensively except for the solo home run ball as they could only manage five hits on the day, three of which left the yard. Joe Mather, the surprise lead-off man came up with the big hit in the ninth to give the Cubs a 4-3 lead before they tacked on an extra run to make it 5-3. Comeback wins are always exciting, regardless of the record, the Cubs will try to make it two in a row against the Rockies tomorrow afternoon at 12:05.
Post Game Pressers
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Can’t believe that the Cubs have already played 81 games, seemed like just yesterday the season started. Here is a recap of what transpired over the first three months of the 2012 season, and my thoughts.
Let’s start with the bad –
- When talking about the bad moments of the first half it’s hard to ignore the 12 game losing streak which took place from May 15 thru May 27. Before the streak the Cubs were 15-20, and playing rather well, in fact given how well the Cubs played the majority of their games it wasn’t crazy to think that if the bullpen resembled anything close to Major League caliber that the Cubs would be at .500.
- That leads me to Carlos Marmol. Marmol was a disaster in the first 81 games of the season, although he has been pitching better of late. Marmol was placed on the DL after a May 11th game against the Brewers, at the time he had an ERA of 6.35 and had been removed from the closers role in favor of Rafael Dolis. Marmol had as many blown saves (2) as saves before being DL’d. Since coming off the DL, and being thrown back into the closer role Marmol is 6-for-6 in save opportunities and has lowered his ERA to 4.74, it might have a lot to do with this.
- Chris Volstad has to be mentioned here as well as he had and is having a horrific first half. Volstad finished the first half, which included a trip to Iowa, with an 0-7 record and a 7.94 ERA. Sometimes numbers don’t tell the whole story, in this case I don’t think they tell enough of it. Volstad has completely lost all confidence, he’s pitching as if he expects to lose. I guess that will happen to a guy that hasn’t won a game in a calendar year.
- The record. Coaches, players, fans, and executives alike knew that this season would be a rough one, they didn’t think it would be this rough. I for one have no problems with the 31-50 record because it means nothing, this year was a throw away year, whether the Cubs were 25 under or 15 under, it’s just a necessary season in the process of rebuilding and I’m okay with that.
- Geovany Soto, oh how the mighty have fallen. After alternating good and bad years since his 2008 rookie of the year campaign it seems as though Geo has found some consistency, not in a good way. It looks more and more like Soto was a one hit wonder, as he is in the midst of another wasted season. Soto hit .163 over the first 81 games, with only five home runs. He has been routinely outplayed by Clevenger and Castillo behind the dish. I will even say that Koyie Hill provided more of a spark, that’s how bad Geo’s been.
Now on to the good, yes there has been plenty of that –
- Alfonso Soriano, what a tremendous first half from a player that almost everyone, except Jed and Theo, thought was beyond done. Not only has Soriano provided improved offensive numbers he has been spotless in LF. Think about that for a second, Soriano has not committed an error all season in LF. He has also played an above average defense, getting to balls he could only once dream about getting to. He’s clearly hurt but he has earned a lot of respect back from me after I wrote him off. Soriano finished the first half (again in games, I know the Cubs have 4 games left in the “half”) hitting .269 with 15 home runs and 46 RBI’s.
- Bryan LaHair was another player that was bound and determined to prove himself, but for different reasons. Coming into the season LaHair never had a starting role in the big leagues, an oddity for a 29-year-old with just a handful on major league experience. But he took the opportunity and ran with it in the first month of the season by hitting .390 with five home runs and 14 RBI’s. As expected he cooled off during May and June, but he has been great in July which also coincides with finding out he was elected to his first All-Star game.
- Ryan Dempster entered the 2012 season amid trade rumors, and they just got louder and louder every time he pitched, mostly because he was outstanding. Dempster has been a man on a mission in the first half, he has been slowed by a lat injury but he has pitched at a Cy Young level up until then. If the Cubs bullpen or clutch hitting was consistent at all Dempster might be close to the lead league in wins. He has settled for a 3-3 record with a sparkling 2.11 ERA. I doubt he makes it past July 31st as a Cub, so enjoy it while it lasts.
- Travis Wood who was brought over from Cincinnati in the Sean Marshall deal, didn’t make the team out of Spring Training. He started the year at Triple-A and struggled, leaving some to suggest that Theo got fleeced in the deal. Wood got an opportunity in the rotation at the big league level once is was clear that Chris Volstad was not up to par. Wood has dominated ever since, thus shutting up all those people who questioned his existence on the Cubs roster. Wood made nine starts in the first half and finished with a 3-3 record and a 3.05 ERA. He might be a huge part of the future for this team.
- James Russell and Shawn Camp’s work out of the bullpen cannot go unrecognized. Both guys have been a stabilizing force in the back of the Cubs bullpen all year. Russell sports a 2.27 ERA in 39.2 innings, while Camp has been just as good in his 43 innings, he finished the first half with a 2.93 ERA.
- A late addition to this post has to be Anthony Rizzo. After basically two and three-quarters months of Cubs fans pleading for Rizzo they finally got their wish in late June. Rizzo has not disappointed one bit. Not only is he producing at a high level, and is exciting to watch, he is giving Cubs fans a glimpse of what Theo’s vision might look like down the road. That’s important for Cubs fans to see, to know they are not suffering through maybe the worst season in Franchise history for nothing. In the 8 games that Rizzo has been up with the Cubs he has hit .323 with three home runs and six RBI’s. Not to mention he has had the game winning hit in three of those eight games, and the Cubs are 6-2 since his call up.
The in-between –
- Long time Cub Kerry Wood retired during the first half of the season. It was bittersweet for sure. For a lot of Cubs fans, including myself, Kerry Wood was the face of the franchise growing up, in good times and bad. Kerry worked his tail off to get in shape and put his injuries behind him to have a pretty solid career. He was having a horrible season this year, and it was clear to him and many people surrounding the team that it was time to hang em up. He did the right thing, walked away, and will be apart of this organizations future one way or another.
There were a lot of things in the first half that made us cover our eyes as Cubs fans. But there were also a lot of things that opened them as well, this team competes, rarely gives up and is usually in a lot of games. Right now that doesn’t translate to a lot of wins, but it’s something to hang on to from the first half. This team will look much different in the second half once the trade deadline comes and goes. Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, David DeJesus, Geovany Soto, among others could all be gone. Anthony Rizzo is already here, but he could be joined by Brett Jackson, and Josh Vitters at some point. It’s something to be excited about, we’ve suffered through quite possibly the worst first half in team history, the saving grace is that it shouldn’t be this bad ever again.
Thanks for reading, go Cubs!