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!
Dave Sappelt and the Cubs offense got going early, but the pitching staff could not hold the lead and the Cubs dropped game one to the Rockies 10-5 in a rain-shortened game. Dave Sappelt led the game off with a towering home run to left and before the inning was over the Cubs would add two more runs, including an RBI double from Welington Castillo. After Chris Rusin shut down the Rockies in the first, things did not go so well the rest of the way for him or the Cubs bullpen as Colorado would score in each of the next five innings. Chris Rusin took the loss lasting only 3.2 innings, allowing six runs on seven hits. Rafael Dolis continued to struggle, giving up three runs in just one 1.1 innings of relief and Manuel Corpas allowed one run in his inning of work. Starlin Castro connected on his 14th home run of the season and Darwin Barney added an RBI in the loss. After dealing with the rain for most of the game it was eventually called after a 48-minute rain delay following the top of the seventh. Despite the cold and the rain the ball was really jumping out of Coors Field on Tuesday and the Cubs hope to take advantage of that on Wednesday and keep the Rockies at bay in doing so.
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The Cardinals used some two-out magic in the third inning against Justin Germano to build a 3-0 lead and eventually went on to win the rubber game of the series 6-3. The Cubs did try to make a game of it as they cut the lead to one two different times today but couldn’t come all the way back. Justin Germano got the start for the Cubs as he continues his 2013 tryout and had some good, some bad today. Germano went 5.2 innings giving up four runs on ten hits while walking one and striking out three. The Cubs only managed seven hits today, six of them coming from three guys, the four, five, and six hitters. The rest of the lineup could only register one hit as the Cubs went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Alfonso Soriano doesn’t want 2012 to end as he continues his tremendous season going 3-for-4 with his 31st home run of the season. Soriano also registered his 105th RBI of the season, a new career high which is amazing at this age and on this team. Welington Castillo was the only other offense for the Cubs as he went 2-for-4 with a double, RBI, and a run scored. Castillo is now hitting .282 on the season and has put up a really strong argument for why he should be the starting catcher in 2013.
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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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After six innings this afternoon the game was scoreless, and looked like it was impossible to score runs given the missed opportunities. Fast forward three innings and the Reds were 5-3 winners and clinched a spot in the 2012 playoffs. Jason Berken made his second start as a Cub and this one was fantastic, and a really nice bounce back after his first start. Berken went six strong innings only allowing two hits while walking two and striking out five. Berken was in command all day, throwing 86 pitches, 54 of them for strikes. Unfortunately the Cubs couldn’t solve Johnny Cueto, but they had a number of chances as they finished the day just 1-for10 with runners in scoring position and left 11 guys on in all. Five different Cubs had two hits in this one, the only issue was only one other player had a hit in the game, usually makes it tough to score runs. The Cubs were able to score singular runs in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings but it wasn’t enough as the Reds put a five-spot on the board against Manny Corpas in the seventh to build what turned out to be an insurmountable 5-0 lead. Anthony Rizzo was 2-for-5 with a double, and two RBI’s giving him 45 on the season. Starlin Castro also continued his hot hitting September going 2-for-4 with a triple.
Berken’s Solid Outing
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For the second day in a row the Cubs got down early and stormed back, unlike yesterday, Anthony Rizzo made sure that the Cubs completed the comeback this time. Chris Volstad got the start today for the Cubs and was pretty horrible right from the get go. Volstad only lasted 4.2 innings giving up six runs on ten hits while walking three and striking out three. By the time Volstad left this one the Pirates had built up a 6-1 lead, but the Cubs were able to get a big chunk back in the bottom of the fifth. The Cubs were able to score four times in the fifth thanks to a Joe Mather solo shot, an Anthony Rizzo two-run homer and a Welington Castillo run scoring single. After all but squandering a five run lead the Pirates pushed across three more runs in the sixth to make it a 9-5 game. To conclude what might be the craziest two innings of the year the Cubs exploded in the bottom of the inning for five runs to take a 10-9 lead. The big blow was an Anthony Rizzo grand slam, the first of his career, and the second homer of the day giving him six RBI’s. Just for good measure the Cubs scored three more times in the bottom of the eighth, and Carlos Marmol pitched a scoreless ninth for a 13-9 victory. Alfsonso Soriano also had a big day at the plate going 3-for-5 with a double, and two RBI’s, that’s now 101 RBI’s on the season, that is an absolutely amazing accomplishment from Soriano. The final game of the four game set will be tomorrow night as the Cubs look to take three out of four.
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Talk about an exclamation point on a season, Jeff Samardzija went the distance in his final 2012 start in a 4-3 victory over the Pirates. It was known for a couple of days that Samardzija would be making his last start of the season tonight, so he was ready to empty the tank tonight, and he did. Samardzija gave up three runs, two earned, on four hits while walking one and striking out nine in his first career complete game. A fantastic season for Shark as he was not guaranteed a spot in the rotation until the last week of spring training, he finished the year 9-13 with a 3.81 ERA, and 174.2 innings. The Cubs did just enough with the bats to help Samardzija get his ninth win of the season and put another dent in the Pirates playoff hopes. Four runs was just enough, but the Cubs could have had so much more tonight as they were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left ten guys on base. Tony Campana, hitting ninth tonight, was 2-for-3 with two runs scored, a walk, and a stolen base, the Cubs had four stolen bases in all. Alfonso Soriano went deep again tonight, his 27th home run of the season, David DeJesus and Welington Castillo each had two hits in the victory. Two in a row, the Cubs go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon.
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