There wasn’t much to celebrate this year as a Cubs fan, one thing you can hang your hat on is the outstanding defense from Darwin Barney. Today that defense was recognized as MLB awarded Darwin Barney the gold glove at second base in the National League. Barney is the first Cubs player to win a Gold Glove since Derrek Lee in 2007, and is the first Cubs second baseman to win the award since Ryne Sandberg in 1991. Barney’s season was highlighted by a record tying 141 straight games without an error, which tied a Major League single season record, Barney made just two errors and posted a .997 fielding percentage. Congrats Darwin!
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The last time I was this excited about a trade by the Cubs I thought Randall Delgado was coming to the Cubs, which is why I waited to report this until it was confirmed by the Cubs. Okay, maybe I’m not THAT excited but the fact that I’m excited at all about the return for a Jeff Baker should tell you something. Back when the Cubs traded Jeff Baker the return was to be two PTBNL (Players to be named later), well that deal has been tweaked a bit and it’s for the better. The Tigers completed the deal by sending Josue Carreno (Full name – Josue Marcelo Carreno) a 6’1″, 170 pound 21-year-old right-handed starting pitcher, who MLB.com has as the 11th best prospect in the Tigers system to the Cubs…. for JEFF BAKER. Here is the full report from MLB.com…
Carreno made his full-season debut in 2011, and although his performance was up-and-down, he was much stronger in the second half, with a 3.48 ERA and one strikeout per inning. He cut down his overall walk rate while keeping his strikeout rate constant from the previous summer. Better command of his fastball, curve and changeup could help him become a solid middle-of-the-rotation type, though he had success in a relief role during winter ball in Venezuela last offseason.
Yeah, you read that correctly, the Cubs traded Jeff Baker to the Tigers for a 21-year-old starting pitcher that has the stuff to be a “solid middle of the rotation type” down the road. On the surface this is an absolute win for Theo Epstein and the Cubs, nothing against Jeff Baker, but he doesn’t seem to be the type of player that would solicit this type of player in return. Honestly I’m completely shocked at this return as Carreno now enters a Cubs system that is short on arms and could find himself as a top 10 pitching prospect in the organization.
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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!
It’s raining where I am, and has been for quite some time, but it’s apparently dry at Wrigley as they are underway for the final time this season. Travis Wood gets the ball for the Cubs as they try to end 2012 on a high note, not sure really how high a note it will be, but a win would be nice. The only regular in the Cubs lineup today is Starlin Castro, that makes it 162 for 162 this year, impressive.
Looks at this “lineup” – I predict 10 runs for the Cubs today, because that’s how it always works.
1. Campana – LF
2. Cardenas – 2B
3. Castro – SS
4. LaHair – 1B
5. Sappelt – RF
6. Vitters – 3B
7. Jackson – CF
8. Recker – C
9. Wood – P
For the first time in 50 years two 100 loss teams will be facing each other in a Major League Baseball game, that’s depressing. Here is how the Cubs will line up today as we are only two games away from ending the 2012 season.
1. DeJesus RF
2. Barney 2B
3. Rizzo 1B
4. Soriano LF
5. Castro SS
6. Valbuena 3B
7. Castillo C,
8. Jackson CF
9. Volstad P
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That didn’t take very long, as the Cubs record their 100th loss of the season in a shade under three hours at Wrigley tonight. For the second straight time, Lucas Harrell absolutely dominated the Cubs on their home field. The Cubs could only manage two hits all night, and had a number of quick, thoughtless at bats, maybe they wanted to make sure they were done in time for the second half of the Bears game. Jason Berken got the start for the Cubs tonight and pitched well enough given the fact he wasn’t allowed to go very deep into the game. Berken lasted 4.2 innings giving up two runs on four hits while walking one and striking out two. The loss drops Berken to 0-3 with the Cubs and ends his 2012 season. David DeJesus led the game off with a single, then Anthony Rizzo got a hit, and that was it, nothing else happened tonight. The Cubs could only manage one walk, and struck out 11 times, I can’t think of a more perfect game to lose for number 100. Meaningless baseball for most continues tomorrow, where the Cubs look to avoid loss number 101.
It was the 100th loss of the season, there are no highlights.
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It took all year, but the Cubs finally managed to register a victory on the road against a National League West opponent, yikes. For five innings today it was much of the same for the Cubs as they trailed 2-1 and couldn’t get anything going offensively. That changed in the sixth as the Cubs found some clutch hits, but received a whole lot of help from the D-backs as they committed three errors in the game. The Cubs scored four times in the sixth to take a 5-2 lead and never looked back, taking this one 7-2 to win their final road game of the season. Chris Rusin made his final start of 2012 and it was a solid one. Rusin went five strong innings giving up two runs, only one earned, on three hits while walking two and striking out four to earn his second career victory. The Cubs bullpen was lights out over the final four innings to preserve the victory. Anthony Rizzo, who hasn’t that great of a road trip had a solid day at the plate going 3-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI, and a run scored. Starlin Castro joined the fun as well going 2-for-4 at the plate as he continues his strong finish to the season. The Cubs return home to finally put the 2012 season out of its misery and need a sweep of the Astros to avoid the dreaded 100 loss mark.
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Congrats to both Logan Watkins and Nicholas Struck as they have been named Minor League Players of the Year for the Cubs organization. Logan is the actual “player” of the year, and Struck is the pitcher of the year, both guys had great seasons, and did so rather quietly. They should be known by now as they have some hardware backing their name now, he is more on their season via Carrie Muskat of Cubs.com.
Infielder Logan Watkins and right-handed pitcher Nick Struck were named the Cubs’ Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively. The two will be honored Monday at Wrigley Field. Watkins, 23, hit .281 with 93 runs scored, 20 doubles, 11 triples, nine home runs and 52 RBIs in 133 games for Double-A Tennessee. He led the Southern League in runs scored, was second in triples and walks (76) and was fourth in on-base percentage (.383). Originally selected in the 21st round of the 2008 Draft, Watkins owns a .285 batting average in 475 career Minor League games.
Struck, 22, went 14-10 with a 3.18 ERA in 28 games (26 starts) for Tennessee. He led the Southern League in victories, ranked third with 155 2/3 innings pitched and fourth in ERA. He led the club with 123 strikeouts, walked 44, and limited opposing hitters to a .238 batting average. From May 29 through the end of the season, Struck went 10-5 with a 2.29 ERA in 18 games (16 starts). All told, Struck allowed three or fewer earned runs in 20 of his 26 starts while he issued two or fewer walks in 21 starts. Chicago’s 39th round selection in the 2009 Draft, Struck is 32-27 with a 3.50 ERA in 84 career Minor League games, including 73 starts. He has struck out 330 batters while walking 134, and has surrendered 28 home runs in 431 2/3 innings pitched
I just completed Logan Watkins’ player card, just after he won the award, so I guess I will have to edit that. Nicholas Struck should be up soon, congrats to both guys, great season!
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After falling behind by two runs early the Cubs were able to tie things up at two in the fifth inning. But, the Cubs couldn’t get a shutdown inning in the bottom half as the Diamondbacks pushed across three runs to take a 5-2 lead and they never looked back on their way to a 8-3 victory. Travis Wood got the start for the Cubs and didn’t have his best stuff as he could only last five innings giving up five runs on five hits while walking three and striking out two. The Cubs wasted a really good opportunity as well as Ian Kennedy clearly had less than his best as he walked six guys and couldn’t make it through the sixth. Dave Sappelt was the majority of the Cubs offense in this one as he finished the night 1-for-5 with his second home run of the season, he is now hitting .288 since his September call up. Starlin Castro continued his strong finish to the season as well as he had three hits in the loss, including his 27th double of the season. I guess the big news of the night was the error-less streak of Darwin Barney coming to an end. Barney’s streak ends at 141 games which ties the Major League record (Placido Polanco), and falls one inning short of holding it by himself. If that doesn’t sum up this season I don’t know what does, nice streak Darwin.
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After getting swept by the Rockies, the Cubs will now travel to Arizona to finish up the road part of their schedule. The Cubs went into the Colorado series looking to put themselves in a good position to lose less than 100 games, unfortunately after the sweep it is starting to look very bleak. The Cubs will attempt to not only win their first road series against a western division team, but unbelievably their first road win against the division. They are currently 0-16 and according to Stats Inc no team has ever gone winless against one division on the road in a single season. It will be tough for the Cubs as we have seen there is basically no pitching left and the offense has been rather quiet, even after going to Colorado. Hope we see the Cubs play hard these last six games and maybe, just maybe win the last two series of the season.
Record: 78-78 (Home 38-37); 3rd in West
Runs Scored: 705 (5th NL)
Team ERA: 3.98 (10th NL)
Last 10: 6-4
Last Series: Lost two of three to the Giants
Record: 59-97 (Road 22-56); 5th in Central
Runs Scored: 596 (14th NL)
Team ERA: 4.92 (14th NL)
Last 10: 1-9
Last Series: Swept by the Rockies
Friday, September 28 – 8:40 PM CST - CSN
Saturday, September 29 – 7:10 PM CST – WGN
Sunday, September 30 – 3:10 PM CST – WGN
Pitching Matchups for the weekend.
Friday, September 28
Cubs: Travis Wood (6-12, 4.23 ERA)
Diamondbacks: Ian Kennedy (14-11, 4.14 ERA)
Saturday, September 29
Cubs: Justin Germano (2-9, 5.65 ERA)
Diamondbacks: Trevor Cahill (12-12, 3.86 ERA)
Sunday, September 30
Cubs: Chris Rusin (1-3, 7.30 ERA)
Diamondbacks: Josh Collmenter (5-3, 3.80 ERA)
Prediction: Cubs lose series 2-1
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