Breaking Down the NL Races

As we head into Tuesday nights action with the NL teams in contention having between 42 and 46 games left, I felt it was a good time to break down the NL Playoff races both for the division titles and wild cards.

Division Leaders:
Washington – The Nationals are up 4 games on the Braves and 5 in the loss column. The Nationals play the Braves 6 more times in their remaining 46 games. Recent history has had the Nationals struggle mightily against Atlanta. The Nationals do have some soft games left on the schedule with 6 against the Phillies and 4 against the D-Backs. The Nats who won have played very well against the Mets in recent times play them 10 times in their final 46 games.

Brewers – The Crew is up 2.5 games on the Pirates and 3 against the Cards, although only 2 in the loss column on both squads. The Reds trail Milwaukee by 5.5 games and 5 in the loss column. The Brewers still have to play the Cardinals 7 more times and the Pirates & Reds 6 more times each. That’s 19 games of the Brewers final 43. Keep in mind the Brewers play the Cubs 9 more times and the Padres 3 more times so they have to take advantage against those weak teams. Continue reading

Mets Should Be Calling Cubs About Castro

A golden opportunity might have come up for the Mets thanks to the Jeff Samardzija trade on the 4th of July. The Cubs landed one of the top prospects in baseball in shortstop Addison Russell who is very close to the majors. The Cubs also have Javier Baez who is a shortstop and being converted to a second baseman, also considered one of the top prospects in baseball as well. Throw in the fact the Cubs have now a 3 time All-Star shortstop with the big club in Starlin Castro and the Cubbies are loaded with supremely talented middle infielders which are very hard to come by.

Castro Perfect Fit for the Mets
The Mets need an impact / electric bat added to their lineup. They also need a shortstop in the worse way. They would like this player to be in the prime of his career. Finally given the state of the Mets either being unable to or unwilling to spend big time money on contracts (Mets have the 7th lowest payroll in MLB) they would like this player to have a very long term friendly contract. Well you check the boxes on all for the Cubs Starlin Castro. Castro is only 24 and is just making 5 Million this year. The next 5 years Castro is just owed 44 Million which will take him through his twenties. In addition Castro has a team option when he turns 30 for 16 Million. Continue reading

Gotta Wear Shades

My future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.

This applied to the Cubs, and more specifically to Kerry Wood and Mark Prior in 2003. The team was solid and with Wood and Prior toeing the rubber every fifth day, they were hard to beat. What happened to that burgeoning dynasty?

kerrywood

Kerry Wood was basically dominant from 1998 through 2003 minus the 1999 season which was lost to injury. This foreshadowed the majority of his career.

Wood won the National League Rookie of the Year in 1998. He struck out an astounding 233 hitters in only 166.2 innings pitched. He started only 26 games that summer. Unfortunately that was the 4th highest total of starts he ever made in his career. While he was on the mound he defined what it was to be a power pitcher and looked like a sure-fire, perennial Cy Young candidate.

His peak was in 2003 when he made his first All-Star game. The K total that season was 266. He won 14 games that year; the most he would ever win. Yeah, that surprised me too. Fourteen wins was the career high for a season in wins for a pitcher that most expected would be a Cooperstown lock. Continue reading

Chicago Cubs Minor League Update

The Chicago Cubs are having a “Chicago Cubs” season once again with an 8-16 record on the year. Despite the Chicago Cubs short comings the Cubs Minor League teams are off to a great start. The Class-A Kane County Cougars are leading the Midwest League Western Division with a 17-6 record and are on a six game winning streak. The Class-A Advanced Daytona Cubs started off slow but currently have a win streak of four with a 9-14 record on the year. Double-A Tennessee is playing good baseball with a record of 11-13 in the Southern League North Division, and the Triple-A Iowa Cubs are leading the Pacific Coast League American Northern Division with a 13-9 record. Each Minor League team has a couple of prospects I like to keep my eye out for from week to week especially the top five guys in the Cubs system. I also like to rank them on how I see fit each week and see how much it changes throughout the year.
Week Four

1. Javier Baez is really struggling with the Iowa Cubs so far this season. He only has nine hits in fifty five at-bats but I don’t see this slump lasting much longer. He played great in spring training so it’s not that he isn’t good enough to play in Triple-A he just needs to get out of his slump.
2. Kris Bryant is turning into my favorite player to watch in all levels this season. The #8 prospect in all of baseball hit another homerun this week and still is tied for the Southern League lead in homeruns with five. Continue reading

16 Inning Thriller in Pittsburgh

The Chicago Cubs lost a 16 inning 5 hour and 55 minute thriller to the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC  Park last night. From the start of the second inning you knew this game had the chance to be an interesting game with both ball clubs getting warned by home plate umpire Bob Davidson after a supposable retaliation when Charlie Morton hit Anthony Rizzo to start the second inning after Edwin Jackson hit Starling Marte to lead off the bottom of the first. Three more batters were hit by pitches after the warnings with Rizzo getting hit twice. Both Starters pitched well with Cubs starter Edwin
Jackson only allowing one earned run (2 runs) 5 1/3 innings pitched, and Charlie Morton going six scoreless innings. The Pirates held the Cubs scoreless until the 8th on a reviewable play that was overturned, and then the Cubs tied it up in the ninth when Luis Valbuena knocked in Junior Lake to tie it up at 2 apiece and to force it to extra innings. Anthony Rizzo had the go ahead home run to right field in the 12th make it 3-3 after a 32 pitch 12th Carlos Villanueva is pitching and Pirates prospect Tony Sanchez is called to pinch hit with Starling Marte in scoring position, and Sanchez hits a walk off single to end the game at 4-3.

That makes 2 walk offs in two games for the Pirates in this Opening Series, and also has been Carlos Villanueva pitching both time the Bucs have hit their walk offs. Even though the Pirates lead the series 2-0; I still have been very impressed with the Cubs starting pitching and bullpen. The Cubs bullpen isn’t as much of a death sentence like it was last year, even though Veras blew the save and Villanueva is 0-2 to start the season. 7 pitchers from the Cubs bullpen pitched last night, and 5 of the 7 were near flawless and kept the Cubs in the game for 16 innings.

 

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