Monday, June 28, 2010

My Two Cents: Zambrano vs. Lee and the Cubs

I have always liked Carlos Zambrano, including his dugout altercations with Gatorade coolers. The behavior is childish, but amusing to me nonetheless. He has "spirit" I've always said-nothing wrong with that. He added a little entertainment to what at times were otherwise frustrating seasons. He was one of my favorite Cubs players.
Now that you know that, my two cents on the Friday meltdown:
1. "At least he was showing some emotion": Some have quipped that at least Carlos was "showing some emotion"-even claiming that none of the other members of the team (except some noted Byrd) seem to care.  
My two cents: the team doesn't live on television-you might see them 2-3 hours a day during the summer months, but that's it. Just because you don't see them venting frustration on television doesn't mean it's not happening behind the scenes. This isn't "The Truman Show", after all. And, to many showing emotion like Zambrano tends to do is not professional. I don't necessarily agree when it comes to sports (within reason, of course), but some do prefer tantrums be thrown in private.
2. Derrek Lee's performance in the first inning: Zambrano bitched that Lee didn't dive for a line drive that went by him.
My two cents: The video shows Lee made a good effort, but the ball was hit hard, and a dive would have been futile. Zambrano was not only barking up the wrong tree, but doing so against a veteran ballplayer and Gold Glove winner who has always been known for his hard work and professionalism. He was blaming his teammates for a situation of his OWN DOING. This ticked me off more than anything about this incident-if you're going to blame someone for something, at least aim it in the right direction.
3. To yank him, or not to yank him: Some complained that it was foolish to bench Zambrano after his tirade.
My two cents: It amused me that some of the people that were saying this I've also seen note that Zambrano tends to fall apart when he's overly emotional. So okay, I guess he could have stayed in, and the situation allowed to possibly escalate. But seeing how there are so many Cubs players that still today appear to be ticked at the very least by his outburst, what kind of negative impact might his mere presence on the field have had? I say: yank him.
4. Fine dining and fraternizing with the "enemy" after the game: Zambrano kept a dinner date with Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and family after being sent home by Piniella.
My two cents: While I thought this looked bad, it really didn't rattle my cage much. Both Zambrano and Guillen are from Venezuela, they are friends, and the dinner was planned ahead of time. And it appears Guillen gave Zambrano some timely advice to boot. The Cubs need to leave this one alone.
5. Demoted...again: The Cubs have announced that "if and when" Zambrano returns, he will be relegated to the bullpen. Again.
My two cents: I thought the first move of Zambrano to the bullpen was nuts...but this time, go ahead and do it. The first move to the bullpen was an interesting one to me, though. Why do it? To force him to drop his no-trade clause? Or has Lou Piniella really gone off his rocker? My thoughts: there is more going on behind the scenes than what we know. Normally a club would not move a starter who was at least one time considered the "ace" to the bullpen-it would be a slap in the face. But, perhaps that was the intention? What is life really like with Zambrano off-camera?
6. Santo alluded to "problems": In an interview segment about Zambrano Saturday night on ESPN, Ron Santo mentioned "there are problems" with Zambrano, but didn't elaborate.
My two cents: Again, I think there is more to the Zambrano saga than we are aware of. There is the shocking move to the bullpen...then rumors of Zambrano not being an "indefinite" suspension after the latest incident. What is Zambrano like behind closed doors? Does he play well with others? In his latest tirade he blames his team for the bad inning instead of his own crappy does he interact with his teammates when the cameras AREN'T rolling?
7. Zambrano should be traded to the White Sox: Some have suggested Zambrano be traded to the White Sox since he is great buddies with Guillen.
My two cents: Excellent idea.
Is Zambrano the cause of the Cubs problems in general? I seriously doubt it-just as Milton Bradley apparently was not the cause of last year's woes, as much as we might have wanted to believe it. A silver lining to this would be if it energized the team in some way, and if they started winning games on a consistent basis. Or even contend.

But, I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What I Know

I would offer you some opinions on the Cubs, but being one of the people who the other day proclaimed that Carlos Zambrano would NEVER be moved to the bullpen-what do I know?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cubs Need Silva

According to's Carrie Muskat, Cubs pitcher Carlos Silva is experiencing some soreness in his right shoulder, which has dogged him in the past. He may miss his next start. This is not good news, as with the exception of his first spring training outing, Silva has been reliable on the mound. Hopefully this is just a temporary twinge that clears up without missing more than the one start *fingers crossed*.

Silva had a solid first regular season outing yesterday against the Reds, even though he unfortunately did not figure in a winning decision to show for it. He pitched six (6) innings, gave up three (3) hits for one (1) run. He currently has the lowest WHIP of the starters at an impressive 0.50, and lowest OBA at .143. Yes, it's only one game, but it looks good nonetheless! And as you can tell by the graphic below, most of his pitches were in the strike zone:

With the exception of his first outing in spring training, Silva had solid performances in his other five starts. He finished the spring 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA, and walked only two (2) the entire month. He worked with Larry Rothschild who identified some issues with his mechanics in the first outing, and since that time has shown much improvement.

Silva is showing great promise, and if he can stay healthy, should give the Cubs some solid outings this season. Here's hoping his shoulder gets straightened out very soon!

Uncle Milty Has Another Bug Up His Ass

Well, imagine's not only Cubs fans that upset Milton Bradley. This time it's the fans of one of his former teams, the Texas Rangers:

I wonder what those former Rangers teammates that had defended him after his recent negative comments towards the Cubs organization and fans think now? Milton's path towards self-destruction continues.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Jen's All-Time Cubs Team

I am not only a Cubs fan, but a baseball fan in general. A particular like of mine is old-time baseball and baseball history. You will see some of that on this blog, but to get us started, I have assembled my "All-Time" Cubs team.

This team dates back to day one of the Cubs organization, not just the modern era. Some names may not be familiar to younger fans, and date back to the 1870's when the team was named the "White Stockings". All listed played at least five years with the club.

Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown (pictured at right)
With Cubs: 1904-1912, 1915-1916
W-L188-86 (.686) 1.80 ERA
Three-Finger Brown used a childhood farming accident, resulting in the loss of two fingers on his right hand, to his advantage. The grip he had to use resulted in a wicked curve ball and other breaking pitchers. Brown is often considered one of the best pitchers in the game for his time.

Grover Cleveland Alexander
With Cubs: 1918-1926
W-L 129-83 (.607) 2.84 ERA
In spite of being a difficult drunk to manage, Alexander still managed to give the Cubs productive years, including the pitching triple crown in 1920.

Ferguson Jenkins
With Cubs: 1966-1973, 1982-1983
W-L 167-132 (.559), 3.20 ERA
Cy Young Award: 1971, HOF
An outstanding pitcher, Fergie had his best season in 1971, where he completed 30 of 37 games, posting a 24-13 record overall.

Greg Maddux
With Cubs 1986-1992, 2004-2006
W-L 133-112 (.543) 3.61 ERA
Cy Young Award: 1992
A fan favorite, now working in the Cubs front office. He is the first pitcher to ever win the Cy Young Award in four consecutive seasons. A shoo-in for the HOF.

Bruce Sutter
With Cubs: 1976-1980
2.39 ERA, 300 Games, 133 Saves
Cy Young Award: 1979, HOF
A dominant relief pitcher, Sutter is the first to effectively use the split-finger fastball.

Lee Smith
With Cubs: 1980-1987
2.92 ERA, 458 Games, 180 Saves
A dominant closer and at 6'6" 285 pounds, a dominating figure on the mound.

Gabby Hartnett
With Cubs: 1922-1940
Average: 19 HR, 96 RBI, .297 BA
MVP: 1935, HOF
One of the greatest catchers in baseball history. He was behind the plate for Babe Ruth's "called shot" home run, and hit the famed "Homer in the Gloamin'" home run in 1938, which helped lead to a Cubs pennant win.

Adrian "Cap" Anson
With Cubs: 1876-1897 (Including several as player-manager)
Average: 6 HR, 133 RBI, .334 BA
Though a widely controversial figure today with his record of racial intolerance in his career, Anson was a key leader in early baseball and the Cubs organization. One of the best hitters of his time, Anson was also a manager, and part owner of the team in the late 1880's.

Ryne Sandberg
With Cubs: 1982-1994, 1996-1997
Average: 21 HR, 79 RBI, .285 BA
MVP: 1984, HOF
I would consider Ryne to be the best fielding second baseman in the game ever-he had a .989 fielding percentage for his career (MLB record), nine Gold Gloves, and made ten All-Star appearances. Another fan favorite in Chicago, he is now manager at AAA Iowa.

Ron Santo
With Cubs: 1960-1973
Average: 25 HR, 96 RBI, .277 BA
Many believe Santo should be in the HOF, and his numbers and accomplishments are comparable to others who have been inducted. A great third baseman, known for clicking his heels in his playing days, is often considered to be the Cubs greatest ambassador today.

Ernie "Mr. Cub" Banks
With Cubs: 1953-1971
Average: 33 HR, 105 RBI, .274 BA
MVP: 1958 and 1959, HOF
Ernie's numbers speak for themselves-and MVP in back-to-back seasons on a losing team speaks volumes to his dominance in baseball at the time.

Hack Wilson
With Cubs: 1926-1931
Average: 29 HR, 128 RBI, .307 BA
Holds the major league record for RBI in one season, 191, set in 1930. Wilson was an interesting fella who was only 5'6" tall, though he weighed 195 pounds and had an 18" neck. A sportswriter compared his physique to a beer keg, and having likely died from complications of alcoholism, this seems appropriate.

Sammy Sosa
With Cubs: 1992-2004
Average:  42 HR, 115 RBI, .273 BA
MVP: 1998
Should Sammy really be on this team? I don't know. It started off as Kiki Cuyler, but numbers-wise, Sammy tops Cuyler. But were these numbers tainted? Opinions vary as to if numbers by Sosa and others from the "steroid era" should count. For now, he's here.

Billy Williams
With Cubs: 1959-1974
Average: 28 HR, 96 RBI, .290 BA
Rookie of the Year: 1961, HOF
Once held the NL record for consecutive games played (1,117), and was coined the "Iron Man" by some sportswriters. Even though not known for his defense, he made crucial catches in no-hitters by Ken Holtzmann in 1969 and Milt Pappas in 1972.

Frank Chance
Player/Manager 1905-1912
Won four pennants and two World Series titles
Managerial Record: 946-648
Chance was not only a famed manager, but an outstanding player as well. He was the first baseman in the Tinker-to Evers-to Chance trio, playing in and managing the club to the Cubs last World Series title.

Statistics courtesy of

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cubs Shine in Spring Opener

I know these spring training games don't count, but I am encouraged after the Cubs' performance in today's game. The team had it all today-pitching, hitting, and defense. I managed to catch most of the game on MLB At Bat 2010, which I purchased a couple of days ago via iTunes. This, combined with Cubs fans on Twitter, made even a spring training game fun.

Derek Lee performed today as he did last season, including a home run in his first at-bat, and several key defensive plays on not-so-good throws to first base. Starlin Castro made his debut with the team by legging out a triple. Lee, along with Marlon Byrd, Tyler Colvin, Brad Snyder, and "little" Sam Fuld all connected for home runs.

The home run was the first hit and RBI for Sam Fuld with the club. * I was not aware until today that Sam is also a Type I diabetic, having been diagnosed at the age of 10. He checks his glucose several times a day, and takes insulin at meal times. Kudos to him for his hard work to make it to the majors in spite of his health challenges.

I mentioned I had purchased the MLB At Bat 2010 app, and I love it. This is the second year I've had it, and found myself using it quite a bit last year to listen to the games at work and in the car (I have a device to listen to my iPod through the car speakers). It's quite a good deal at $14.99 via the iTunes app store (they also have Blackberry and Android versions now as well).

For the $14.99 you get all games available on Gameday Audio (any club) with no blackouts. If you subscribe to MLB.TV also, you can get those games live, but with blackout restrictions. In the 2010 version, the game can be played in the background, while you use other apps such as Twitter. The Gameday feature lets you follow a simulated game with every pitch, including showing who is on the field. It's really cool.

Looking forward to the next game!
*Correction: Apparently I had some bad data (lesson learned early!), and this was not Sam's 1st HR/RBI. Thank you to @oneminutecubs on Twitter for the correction.