Castillo and Coleman Headed to Chicago… and now Cardenas

Welington Castillo and Casey Coleman will be on their way to Chicago to replace Geovany Soto and Paul Maholm on the roster.  The interesting part is we don’t know who is going to take the spot of Reed Johnson.  According to many sources it is not Brett Jackson and per Dave Sappelt’s twitter it won’t be him.  So who will it be?  More to come I’m sure.

UPDATE:  Adrian Cardenas will be the third player coming up for the Cubs.  Hope he gets some more AB’s wherever that may be.

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A Look at What the Cubs Got Back on Monday Night

So we know the Cubs have traded away Geovany Soto to the Rangers and packaged Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to the Braves, but what did we get back.  The Cub got back three pitchers, which we knew they wanted to get deeper at as an organization.  Here is a quick look at the pitchers we go back.

Starting with the Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to the Braves deal.

Arodys Vizcaino
Vizcaino is 21-year old right-handed pitcher who has missed the entire season due to Tommy-John surgery was ranked #3 in the Braves system and #54 prospect in baseball according to Jonathan Mayo.  Last year Vizcaino was said to be one of the four untouchable arms in the Braves system.  The Cubs are taking a big gamble that he will come back healthy and be durable, but for Reed Johnson and Paul Maholm it is a great chance to take in my opinion.  His fastball sits in the low to mid 90’s with a plus changeup and good curve ball.  Hope he comes back healthy and at 21, he should have a great chance to.  Until he does the Cubs will hope he can be a starter, but time will tell.

Jaye Chapman
Chapman is a 25-year old RH relief pitcher who is currently in Triple-A.  He is 3-6 with 7 saves and a 3.52 ERA this season.  He also has 60 strikeouts in 29 walks in 53.2 innings.  He is not a huge prospect, but hope he can be a quality arm at sometime out of the pen.  I like that he is averaging over a strikeout an inning.  We will see, he obviously wasn’t the centerpiece of the deal with the Braves, but to get some quality out of the pen would be nice.

Now to the Soto deal.

Jacob Brigham
Brigham is a 24-year old RH starting pitcher who is currently pitching in Double-A.  He is currently 5-5 with 4.28 ERA.  He has started all 21 games he has pitched in striking out 116 in 124 innings.  His last two outing have been really good and the Cubs obviously see something there.  He hasn’t had great numbers yet, but we will see what happens.  As we know the pitching depth is not great for the Cubs so getting a pitcher for Soto, who has been a disappointment the last couple years is a fine return in my mind.

The Cubs needed to get more pitching depth and they did that with these deals.  They didn’t move any of their big names, although Maholm has been pitching really good and it seems they got decent return, especially with Vizcaino coming over even though it’s after Tommy-John.  When you work with prospects you never know if it was a good return or not for a few years.  I’m sure there will be more coming tonight or tomorrow, so we will as always keep you updated.

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Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson Traded

Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson have been traded to the Atlanta Braves.  No word yet on who the Cubs are getting back in return.  Check back for updates.

Update:  Wow, the Cubs were able to get back two pitchers, Arodys Vizcaino plus Jaye Chapman from the Atlanta Braves.  Vizcaino is really nice piece with a lot of upside.  He missed the year due to Tommy-John Surgery, but was the Braves #3 pitching prospect coming into the year.

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Rizzo Plays Hero, Cubs Win Series From Cardinals

Now that was exciting.  For the third straight day Wrigley Field felt like it was host to a pennant race, too bad it’s not, as this weekend showcased some great baseball.  For the 6th straight start Paul Maholm shut down an opponent, today against the Cardinals he went 6.2 innings giving up one run on four hits while walking four and striking out five.  Unfortunately Shawn Camp couldn’t hold a 2-1 lead in the 8th as he gave up a game tying solo shot to Carlos Beltran to knot things up.  Things stayed that way into the 10th inning thanks to outstanding performances by Carlos Marmol and James Russell out of the pen.  Marmol in particular, as he might have had his best inning of the year to keep things tied.  Starlin Castro led the 10th inning off with a line drive single to right, and set the stage for Rizzo.  Rizzo wasted no time as he laced a 0-1 fastball over the wall in left center to give the Cubs a dramatic 4-2 walk-off win.  Rizzo finished the day going 3-for-4 with his 7th home run of the season, two RBI’s, a walk and two runs scored.  The numbers are impressive for Rizzo as he was in a mini slump for a little while there but he is hitting .333 on the season with seven home runs, and 17 RBI’s.  Darwin Barney also had a great day at the plate going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored.  The Cubs have now won two series’ in a row, and welcome the Pirates to Wrigley starting tomorrow.  Full box score and highlights after the jump.

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July 29, 2012 – Cubs Lineup vs Cardinals

The Cubs try and take the series against the Cardinals today as Paul Maholm takes the ball.  Adam Wainwright opposes Maholm at 1:20 PM CST on WGN.  Here’s how the Cubs will line up.

DeJesus – CF
Castro – SS
Rizzo – 1B
Soriano – LF
LaHair – RF
Clevenger – C
Barney – 2B
Valbuena – 3B
Maholm – P

Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
– George

July 27 – 29, 2012; vs. Cardinals – Series Preview

St. Louis Cardinals Logo - A cardinal in a batting stance

The Cubs get an opportunity for revenge right away as they face off against the Cardinals this weekend in Chicago.  The Cubs just saw the Cardinals last weekend in St. Louis and it wasn’t pretty as the Cards swept the Cubs and the Cubs didn’t put up much of a fight.  One run was all that the Cubs scored last weekend against the Cardinals, that’s hard to do.  The Cubs bounced back against the Pirates however as they took two out of three from the Central Division contender in Pittsburgh, which is also hard to do.  The Cardinals were struggling in the second half of the season until they met the Cubs last weekend.  Counting that weekend they are 6-1 in their last seven games as they try to chase down the Reds and Pirates who sit above them in the Central Division.  It will be interesting to see if the same Cubs team that starts this series will be there to finish it as we roll towards the trade deadline.  On paper this matchup couldn’t get anymore lopsided as the Cardinals are number one in the NL in runs scored and the Cubs are last, but the Cubs pitching has been outstanding as of late, they will need to be to win the series.  Full preview/breakdown after the jump.

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Spoiler Alert: Maholm, Cubs Frustrate Pirates

It wasn’t too  long ago that the Cubs were contenders and would struggle whenever the lowly teams in the division would come to town, well they are now returning the favor to the Pirates.  Not that it’s something to get really excited about because of course a team would rather be contending, but it’s nice to have meaningful win one way or another.  Paul Maholm turned in another outstanding performance, this time against the only other team he has suited up for in the Major Leagues.  Maholm went eight innings giving up one run on four hits while walking one and striking out seven to earn his ninth win of the season and lower his ERA to 3.88.  It was the second start in a row that a Cubs pitcher was able to go eight innings as Jeff Samardzija did the same to the Pirates yesterday.  Things got started in a big way as Starlin Castro took the first pitch he saw and deposited in the right center field bleachers for his ninth home run of the season to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead.  The only mistake Maholm made all night was an elevated fastball to Garrett Jones, Jones matched Castro’s solo shot with one of his own to tie the game at one in the fourth.  David DeJesus came through with the big hit for the Cubs in the fifth inning, with two outs and the bases loaded DeJesus laced a double into the right field corner scoring two to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead.  Alfonso Soriano put the game to bed in the 6th as he blasted his 19th home run of the season, a two run shot to give the Cubs a 5-1 lead and that’s how it would end.  The Cubs go for the sweep tomorrow morning behind Ryan Dempster, I guess.  Full box score and highlights after the jump.

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July 24, 2012 – Cubs Lineup vs. Pirates

The Cubs look to follow-up yesterday’s tremendous performance with another tonight in Pittsburgh.  Paul Maholm takes the hill where he is very comfortable as he has almost 100 career starts at PNC Park.  Here is how the Cubs will line up as everyone awaits Ryan Dempsters decision.

DeJesus CF
Castro SS
Rizzo 1B
Soriano LF
LaHair RF
Soto C
Barney 2B
Valbuena 3B
Maholm P

Thanks for reading,
– George

July 23 – 25, 2012; @ Pirates – Series Preview

Pittsburgh Pirates Logo - Pirates arched in black with a gold outline

Oh how a weekend changes the feeling around a ball club.  Coming into last weekend the Cubs were the hottest team in baseball, they are now licking their wounds on their way to Pittsburgh.  The Cubs and Pirates open a three game series tonight, and the Pirate have been red-hot as they sit half a game out of first in the Central behind the Reds.  The Pirates are 7-3 in their last 10 games and are an insane 32-14 at PNC Park, the best home record in all of baseball.  The Cubs need to find some offense in this series as they were shut out the last two games in St. Louis against the Cardinals.  The Cubs won’t have it much easier at the plate in this series as the Pirates have the 5th best ERA in the National League.  Offensively the Pirates are 10th in the National League in runs scored, doesn’t seem good, but when the Cubs last faced the Pirates they were dead last, they are raking.  Andrew McCutchen leads the charge for the Pirates as he is hovering around the triple crown right now, if the Cubs want to win this series they will need to find a way to shut down one of the games best.  Full preview/breakdown after the jump.

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Maholm Brilliant Again as Cubs Take Series

Paul Maholm was pressing early in the year, and I don’t blame.  He was trying to prove to a major market that he was worth the money spent on him in the offseason, he soon realized that he didn’t have to prove anything to anyone and has taken off since then.  Today was the latest chapter in Maholm’s resurgence as he was outstanding over eight innings to earn his 8th win of the season against six losses, and give the Cubs a series win over the Marlins.  Maholm gave up one run on five hits while walking one and striking out four and lowered his ERA to 4.09 on the season.  Maholm didn’t get much help from his offense, but he got just enough as the Cubs came through with clutch hits yet again, which has been a staple of this team during their recent hot streak.  The Cubs only needed one inning to do their damage as they pushed four runs across the plate against Marlins starter Mark Buehrle, which was started by an Alfonso Soriano solo home run, his team leading 18th of the season.  Luis Valbuena recorded a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and no outs to make it 2-0, and Reed Johnson came up with a huge two out single that scored two to give the Cubs a 4-0 lead.  Reed Johnson, Alfonso Soriano, Jeff Baker, and Darwin Barney all had two hits in the win.  Carlos Marmol came on in the ninth and had some trouble again before nailing it down for his 11th save of the season.  The Cubs finished their six game home stand an impressive 5-1, full box score and highlights after the jump.

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