Chicago Cubs Featured articles

The Phils are unable to sweep the Cubs as A.J. Burnett is pounded for eight runs, as the Phils lose to the Cubs, 8-3.

Jimmy RollinsA.J. Burnett give up eight runs as the Phils are unable to sweep the series in Chicago, as they lose to the Cubs 8-3.

The Cubs took the lead in the bottom of the first as, with a man on first, and with nobody out, Ryan Kalish hits an RBI triple, knocking in Emilio Bonifacio, who had started the inning off with a walk, giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead. Two batters later, after Anthony Rizzo had walked, putting runners on the corners, with still nobody out, Nate Schierholtz hits a sacrifice fly, knocking in Kalish, giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead, while sending Rizzo up to second base. The Cubs then made it a 3-0 lead two batters later, after Luis Valbuena had walked, putting runners on second and first, and with one man out, as Starlin Castro hits an RBI double, knocking in Rizzo, and sending Valbuena up to third base. The Cubs then increased their lead as Ryan Sweeney hits a sacrifice fly, knocking in Valbuena, giving the Cubs a 4-0 lead. The Phils tried to get onto the scoreboard in the top of the fourth as, with the bases loaded, via singles by Marlon Byrd and Dom Brown, with Byrd stopping at second base, and with both runners moving up a base on shortstop Castros’ force attempt fielding error of Carlos Ruiz’s grounder, and with one man out, Cody Asche hits into a force out at the plate, 1-2, as pitcher Carlos Villanueva threw out Byrd at home plate, as catcher John Baker touched the plate for the inning’s second out, while Brown and Ruiz both moved up a base, and Asche reached first base, leaving the bases loaded, before A.J. Burnett ended the threat by flying to center for the inning’s final out. The Phils would finally score in the top of the fifth as, with two men on, and with nobody out, Chase Utley hits a grounder up the middle which looked like it had a chance to be a base hit, but would be deflected off of pitcher Villanueva’s glove to the shortstop Castro, who then threw out Utley, 1-6-3, for the inning’s first out, while Ben Revere, who had started the inning off with a walk, then stole second base, before going on to third base on Jimmy Rollins’ single, would score, making it a 4-1 Cubs’ lead, as Rollins, who had earlier singled, then stole second base, would be forced to stay at second base because of the deflection, before Phils’ manager Ryne Sandburg would come out to dispute the call, asking for a review. The umpires would review the play, before upholding the call, leaving the Phils with a man on second, and with one man out. The inning would then end as Ryan Howard hits a sharp line drive that would be caught by Bonifacio, who then threw to second base to double up Rollins in a 4-6 doubleplay. The Cubs would get the run back in the bottom of the sixth as, with two men on, and with two men out, Bonifacio hits an RBI infield single, on a ball that was deflected by pitcher Burnett, allowing Sweeney, who had reached third base on a three base fielding error by center fielder Revere, to score, giving the Cubs a 5-1 lead, while sending Baker, who had earlier been hit by the pitch, to reach second base. The Cubs then made it a 7-1 lead as Kalish followed with a two-run double, scoring both Baker and Bonifacio. After the Phils had replaced Burnett with Brad Lincoln, the Cubs made it an 8-1 lead as Rizzo hits an RBI single, knocking in Kalish. The Phils would get a run back in the top of the ninth as, with the bases loaded, via walks to Asche, pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn, Jr., a wild pitch by pitcher Jose Veras, moving up both runners, and a walk to Revere, and with one man out, Rollins hits into an RBI force out, knocking in Asche, making it an 8-2 Cubs’ lead, as Gwynn is forced out at third base, 5-unassisted, while Revere moved up to second base. After Utley had walked to reload the bases, as Revere and Rollins both moved up a base, and Pedro Strop replaces Veras on the mound, the Phils made it an 8-3 Cubs’ lead as Strop threw a wild pitch, allowing Revere to score, while Rollins and Utley both moved up a base. That would end up being the final score as Howard would line out to left field for the game’s final out.

A. J. Burnett (0-1, 3.86) took the lost as he pitched five and two-third innings, giving up eight runs, only four of which were earned, on five hits, six walks and a hit batter, while striking out three. Brad Lincoln pitched a third of an inning, giving up a hit. Jeff Manship pitched two scoreless innings, giving up a walk, while striking out two. Carlos Villanueva (1-2, 4.26) got the win as he pitched five innings, giving up a run on six hits and a hit batter, while striking out three. Brian Schlitter collected his second hold of the season as he threw a 1-2-3 inning. Hector Rondon pitched two scoreless innings, giving up two hits, while striking out two. Jose Veras pitched two-thirds of an inning, giving up two runs on four walks and a wild pitch, as he struck out a batter. Pedro Strop pitched a third of an inning, as he threw a wild pitch, before finally getting out the only batter whom he would face.

The Phils had eight hits in the game, with Jimmy Rollins (Singles, RBI) and Dom Brown (Singles) both leading the team with two hits each. Ben Revere (Single), Chase Utley (Double, RBI), Byrd (Single) and Cody Asche (Single), had the other four Phils’ hits, while the final Phil’s run came in on a wild pitch. The Phils also had four walks (Revere, Utley, Asche, pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn, Jr.) and two stolen bases (Revere (4), Rollins (1)) in the game, while the defense committed an error (Revere) and picked a runner off first (Burnett).

The Phils (3-3, 4th East) are off today as their home opener against the Brewers (4-2, T-1st Central) was called off yesterday because of the possibility of rain in today’s forecast. Instead, it will be played tomorrow afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, to start at 4:05 pm EDT. The Phils will send to the mound Kyle Kendrick (0-0, 1.29) who is coming off a no-decision against the Rangers on April 2, as he pitched seven strong innings, giving up a run on five hits and a walk, while striking out four, in the Phils’ 4-3 walk-off lost. He will be going for his first win of the season, while trying to lead the Phils to the win on opening day. The Brewers will counter with Kyle Lohse (0-1, 3.86), who is coming off a lost against the Braves on April 1, as he went seven innings, giving up three runs on five hits and two walks, while he struck out eight, in the Brewers’ 5-2 lost. He will be going for his first victory of the season, while trying to silent the Phils’ bats. The Phils will be trying to start off their first home stand of the year on a good note.

The Phils win their first series of the season as they shutout the Cubs, 2-0.

Cliff LeeThe Phils pitched a shutout as they win their first series of the season, defeating the Cubs, 2-0.

The Phils took the lead in the top of the first as, with two men out, Chase Utley hits a solo home run, his second home run of the season, and his second in two games, giving the Phils a 1-0 lead. The Phils would increase their lead in the top of the fourth as, with two men on, and with one man out, Dom Brown hits a RBI single, knocking in Utley, who had started the inning off with a walk, then stopped at second base on Ryan Howard’s single, giving the Phils a 2-0 lead, while sending Howard, who had earlier singled, up to second base. That would end up being the final score as Jonathan Papelbon recorded his first save of the season, redeeming himself for his blown save on Wednesday, as he threw a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out Emilio Bonifacio, swinging, for the game’s final out.

Cliff Lee (2-0, 6.00) got the win as he threw seven shutout innings, giving up ten hits, while striking out six. Jake Diekman collected his second hold of the season as he threw a scoreless inning, giving up a walk. Jonathan Papelbon recorded his first save of the season as he threw a 1-2-3 inning, striking out a batter. Jeff Samardzija (0-1, 1.29) took the lost as he also pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on six hits and three walks, while striking out eight. James Russell pitched two-thirds of an inning, giving up a hit and two walks, while striking out two. Justin Grimm pitched one and a third scoreless innings, striking out a batter.

The Phils had seven hits in the game, with Chase Utley leading the team with three hits, a single, a double and a solo home run. Ben Revere, Ryan Howard, Don Brown (RBI) and Cliff Lee had the other four Phils’ hits, all singles. The Phils had five walks (Utley, Howard, Marlon Byrd, Brown (2)), and a stolen base (Revere (3)) in the game, while the Phils’ defense performed a doubleplay.

The Phils (3-2, 4th East) will conclude their series with the Cubs (1-4, T-4th Central) tomorrow afternoon. The game will be played at Wrigley Field and is to start at 2:20 pm EDT (1:20 pm CDT). A.J. Burnett (0-0, 1.50) will start the game for the Phils, as he comes off a strong start in a no-decision against the Rangers on April 1, as he went six innings, giving up a run on seven hits and two walks, while striking out three, in the Phils’ 3-2 walk-off lost. He will be going for his first win of the season, while trying to give the Phils’ pitching staff their fifth straight quality start. Carlos Villanueva (2-0, 13.50) will make the start for the Cubs, his first for the season, as he last pitched on April 2 against the Pirates in relief as he pitched an inning and a third, giving up a run on four hits, while he struck out a batter, in the Cubs’ 4-3 extra-inning lost. Villanueva will be trying to put a stop to the Cubs’ present slide. The Phils will be trying to come back home with a series sweep under their belts.

The Phils spoil the Cubs’ celebration of the 100th home opener at Wrigley Field, as they defeat the Cubs, 7-2.

Chase UtleyThe Phils ruin the 100th home opener at Wrigley Field as they defeat the Cubs, 7-2.

The Cubs take the lead in the bottom of the second as, with two men out, Wellington Castillo hits a solo home run, his first home run of the season, giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead. The Cubs would increase their lead in the bottom of the third as, with a man on second, and with two men out, Starlin Castro hits an RBI single, knocking in Darwin Barney, who had started the inning off with a single, then moved up to second base on Travis Wood’s sacrifice bunt, 1-4, giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead. The Phils would get a run back in the top of the third as, with two men on, and with nobody out, Dom Brown hits an RBI single, knocking in Marlon Byrd, who had started the inning off by reaching base on third baseman Luis Valbuena’s fielding error, then stopping at third base on Ryan Howard’s single, making it a 2-1 Cubs’ lead, while sending Howard, who had just singled, up to second base. The Phils would take the lead in the top of the fifth as, with one man on, and with one man out, Chase Utley hits a two-run home run, his first home run of the season, knocking in Carlos Ruiz, who had just singled, giving the Phils a 3-2 lead. The Phils would add to their lead in the top of the seventh as, with two men on, and with one man out, Utley hits an RBI single, knocking in Ben Revere, who had earlier singled, then stole second base, giving the Phils a 4-2 lead, while sending Ruiz, who had just walked, up to second base. The Phils would increase their lead in the top of the eighth as, with one man on, and with two men out, pinch-hitter John Mayberry, Jr. hits a two-run home run, his first home run of the year, knocking in Brown, who had lead the inning off with a single, making it a 6-2 Phils’ lead. The Phils added an insurance run in the top of the ninth as, with a man on first, and with two men out, Brown hits an RBI double, knocking in Howard, who had just walked, giving the Phils a 7-2 lead. That would remain the final score as Mario Hollands and Jeff Manship would combine for a 1-2-3 ninth, with Manship getting pinch-hitter Mike Ott to ground out, 6-3, for the game’s final out.

Roberto Hernandez (1-0, 3.38) got the win as he pitched five and a third innings, giving up two runs on three hits and a walk, while striking out five. Jake Diekman collected his first hold of the year as he pitched two-thirds of an inning, getting out both men whom he would face, striking out one. Justin De Fratus also collected his first hold of the season as he threw a 1-2-3 inning, striking out a batter. Antonio Bastardo, Mario Hollands and Jeff Manship would combine for two 1-2-3 innings, striking out two batters (Bastardo (1), Hollands (1)) between them. Travis Wood (0-1, 4.26) took the lost as he went six and a third innings, giving up four runs, only three of which were earned, on six hits, a walk and a hit batter, while striking out eight. Hector Rondon pitched to one batter, walking him. Wesley Wright pitched an inning and a third, giving up two runs on four hits, while striking out a batter. Brian Schlitter pitched an inning and a third, giving up a run on a hit and a walk.

The Phils pounded out eleven hits in the game, with Ben Revere (Singles) and Dom Brown (2 Singles, Double, 2 RBIs) both leading the team with three hits, followed by Chase Utley (Single, Home Run, 3 RBIs) with two hits. Carlos Ruiz (Single), Ryan Howard (Single) and pinch-hitter John Mayberry, Jr. (Home Run, 2 RBIs), had the other three Phils’ hits. The Phils also had three walks (Ruiz (2), Howard), a hit batter (Ruiz) and a stolen base (Revere (2)) in the game, while the defense performed a doubleplay.

The Phils (2-2, 4th East) will continue their series with the Cubs (1-3, 5th Central) with a day game tomorrow afternoon. The game will be played at Wrigley Field, and it will start at 2:20 pm EDT (1:20 pm CDT). The Phils will send to the mound Cliff Lee (1-0, 14.40), who is coming off a win against the Rangers on March 31, as he went five innings, giving up eight runs on eleven hits and a walk, while striking out only one, in the Phils’ 14-10 win. He will be trying to pitched a better start, while trying to help get the Phils over the .500 mark. The Cubs will counter with Jeff Samardzija (0-0, 0.00), who is coming off a no-decision against the Pirates on March 31, as he went seven shutout innings, giving up five hits and two walks, while striking out three, in the Cubs’ 1-0 extra-inning lost. He will be trying to even up the series for the Cubs. The Phils will once again be trying for the series win tomorrow, while hoping to see their fourth straight quality start from their starters, while the bats continue to hit.

1/29/2014 Ferguson Jenkins interview (Passed Ball Show)

jenkins

Tanaka to the Cubs? Three reasons why it is not such a crazy thought

tanaka

We are less than a week until the window closes for free agent RHP Masahiro Tanaka to sign with a MLB team. It is common for such negotiations to go until the last day, which is expected with this one. Especially with the new posting process with more than one team being given the negotiation rights. As opposed to other seasons with Japanese players who have been posted, any team that has posted the $20 million maximum bid can negotiate with Tanaka for the 30 day period. Before this season, only the team that gave the highest bid was given the rights to negotiate with the player.
Most of the talks we have heard have the Yankees as the favorites to land Masahiro Tanaka. The fact that the Yankees may or may not have a ceiling makes it less of a slam dunk than prior negotiations with Japanese players, such as Hideki Matsui. Many teams are figured to be in the mix as the $20 million posting fee fits most teams budgets. As recent as this past week, it seemed as if the Yankees, Dodgers and Angels were all but declared the finalists. The Cubs, Mariners and possibly the Diamondbacks still had interest. A report today has raised the level of interest of the Cubs in Tanaka. And while my initial intuition has faded over the course of the past month, that intuition was that the Cubs would land Tanaka in the first place.
It has been severely understated exactly how much Cubs President Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer love Tanaka. As early as 2009, when Epstein was the Boston Red Sox GM and Hoyer was the assistant GM, both were raving about Tanaka, who at the time was 21. This reason was the one I most referred to in my thoughts that the Cubs and Tanaka would be a fit.
The Cubs have had the history of being a high spending team. Since Epstein and Hoyer have joined the Cubs front office, the team has not spent at the rate that they had in prior seasons. The intention was to rebuild the farm system with the thought of eventually adding payroll when the talent was ready to produce at the major league level. Prior to the new regime, the Cubs had a payroll of $134 million for the 2011 season. In 2010, the Cubs payroll was $144 million, $135 in 2009 and $118 in 2008. The Cubs payroll was $109 million in 2012, $107 million last season and currently is projected to be $77.9 million for this coming season. If Tanaka means that much to Epstein and Hoyer, the Cubs are in perfect position to make a significant offer. While some teams may have to slightly backload the deal, the Cubs can pay Tanaka well for the entire deal.
Another interesting thought that think the Cubs are preparing to make a splash is the situation going on with their arbitration eligible players. While the majority of MLB teams have few remaining cases that have not been resolved, the Cubs are planning to go to arbitration with four players. The Cubs had 8 eligible players, having settled with Nate Schierholtz ($5 million), James Russell ($1.775), Pedro Strop ($1.325) and Luis Valbuena (%1.71 million. The most interesting players that have not come to an agreement are starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood. Despite going 8-13, 4.34 for the Cubs last season, Samardzija finished 2013 with 2014 Ks in 213 2/3 IP. Wood had a breakout season, finishing 9-12, 3.11 in 200 IP. Both pitchers are worth more than what the Cubs are offering, Samardzija at $4.4 million and Wood at $3.5 million. In my opinion, an agreement would have been reached with both if the Cubs were not saving the pennies for Tanaka. Both Darwin Barney and Justin Ruggiano are also likely going to arbitration with Barney at $1.8-$2.8 and Ruggiano at $1.6-$2.45. Both disparities are not much for a middle agreement to be fair.
Obviously we look at both Los Angeles teams as the high spenders in MLB right now. The Yankees have not spent at the same rate over the past couple seasons but are always considered a threat. Based on the direction of the three teams, all three are expected to look at Tanaka as a pitcher that can better their chances to win. That is why the Cubs have been ruled out. I believe the Cubs have put themselves in position where can go all in on Tanaka. I have every reason to believe that the Cubs will make one of the highest, if not the highest offer for his services. The question will be whether he wants to play for the Cubs, play in the midwest and thinks the Cubs are going in the right direction.

1/14/2014 Monte Irvin interview (Passed Ball Show)

monte irvin

1/9/2014 Larry Colton interview (Passed Ball Show)

colton

As Mark Mulder nears MLB return, some other predominant pitchers with MLB gaps of five seasons or more

mulder

Mark Mulder’s 2014 minor league deal with the Los Angeles Angels has become official, meaning the left hander will be attempting a comeback to the big leagues, a place he has not pitched since 2008. Mulder owns a career record of 103-60, 4.18 in 205 games, 203 starts as he has pitched from 2000-2008 for the Oakland Athletics and St Louis Cardinals. Mulder will be forever remembered as one of the three stud young leaders of the Oakland Athletics pitching staff of the early part of the 2000s. Mulder’s success has been short lived, however, as he won 40 games in the 2001 and 2002 seasons and 88 games from 2001-2005. After the Cardinals acquired Mulder from Oakland, Mulder was healthy for just one season in St Louis. 2006 saw him make just 17 starts for the Cards (6-7, 7.14) before making just 3 starts in 2007 and pitching in just 3 games (1 start) for the Red Birds in 2008.
If Mulder completes his comeback, he will return to the big leagues after a six year gap. I have come up with a series of pitchers who have had similar gaps in pitching in the big leagues. All have been for different reasons. I did this list off the top of my head, so if there are any other notable gaps among MLB pitchers, please feel free to let me know, either by comment, e-mail or social media. Of course, the pitcher who probably has the longest gap pitching in a big league game was the great Satchel Paige. Making his MLB debut at the age of 41 was something that should never had have to happened. Paige was one of the best to ever throw the ball and should have had 15-20 years of MLB experience by the time he first pitched in 1948. He would pitch in 1949, as well as 1951-1953, with ’53 as the last season he figured to pitch on a MLB mound.
12 years later, Paige, at age 58, was given the ball to make a start for the Kansas City Athletics. He would throw 3 innings, giving up just a hit, walking no one and striking out a batter. Jim Palmer would attempt a comeback in spring training of 1991, pitching for the Baltimore Orioles, the team he had just got be inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame just two years ago. Palmer had received 92.6% of the BBWAA’s votes in his first year on the ballot. The 268 games winner with three World Series wins and 8 20 win seasons was unfortunately unable to complete his comeback, which would have been unprecedented for a current Hall of Famer.
The next longest gap between MLB pitching appearances was the 7 seasons between appearances that Chuck Hartenstein had. Hartenstein, a guest on my johnpielli.com website (http://www.johnpielli.com/john-piellis-pbs-interviews.html). Chuck had a career that spanned from 1966-1970, mostly for the Chicago Cubs. He would be back in the minors by 1971, but some persistency and adjustments got him some accolades in the minors. One of his managers was Roy Hartsfield, who had just gotten the MLB job with the expansion Toronto Blue Jays. Hartenstein was taken over with Hartsfield and would make 13 appearances for the Jays in 1977, going 0-2, 6.59 in 27 1.3 IP.
Next was the return of former Cincinnati Reds top pitcher Jose Rijo. Rijo pitched for 12 seasons in the big leagues, mostly for the Reds, winning the World Series with the team in 1990. By 1995, his arm was shot. His season ended prematurely, as he was long gone by the time the team swept the Dodgers in the NLDS and got swept by the Braves in the NLCS. After multiple operations, Rijo was back. He returned to the Reds in the 2001 season, pitching to a 2.13 ERA in 13 relief appearances. The next season, Rijo pitched in 31 games, going 5-4, 5.14, as he also made 7 starts at age 37.
Another interesting one is the path of current San Francisco Giants RHP Ryan Vogelsong. Vogelsong had some struggles during his time in Pittsburgh, as he pitched with them in 2001-2002 and 2003-2006. He never established himself and by the end of 2006, was out of baseball. He attempted his comeback in 2010, pitching in AAA for the Phillies and Angels. Though he never made it to the majors, he would sign a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants for the 2011 season. He earned himself a callup and would go 13-7, 2.71 in 30 games, 28 starts. He struck out 139 batters in 179 2/3 IP. He went 14-9, 3.37 in 2012 for the Giants as the team won its second WS in three seasons. He battled some injury issues in 2013, but is set to return to the Giants rotation in 2014, as he signed a 1 year, $5 million contract for the season.
Dave Stieb had a very good career for the Toronto Blue Jays from 1979-1992, before making 4 starts for the Chicago White Sox in 1993. It was assumed that his career was finished as Stieb had struggled pitching in the minors for the White Sox and Kansas City Royals. But he signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays in 1998 and pitched very well in A+ and AAA. He made his return to the big leagues by going 1-2, 4.83 in 19 games, 3 starts for the Blue Jays.
Based on my research, I could not find a pitcher that had a gap of 5 years or more based on service time in either World Wars, or Korea. Of course, Steve Howe had a 4 year gap after having multiple suspensions related to the use of drugs.

12/30/2013 Vance Law interview (Passed Ball Show)

law

12/17/2013 Chuck McElroy interview (Passed Ball Show)

mcelroy

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On YoutubeCheck Our FeedVisit Us On Google Plus