Results tagged ‘ Bryan LaHair ’

61-101; The 2012 Cubs Season is Over; a Recap, Kinda

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…

Chris Volstad
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.

Rafael Dolis
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.

Ian Stewart
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.

Anthony Rizzo
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.

Alfonso Soriano
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.

Starlin Castro
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!

- George

Cubs Swept as Ninth Inning Rally Falls Short

The Cubs seem to spring to life in the ninth inning today, unfortunately poor at bats from Starlin Castro and Josh Vitters brought a would be rally to a grinding halt.  Trailing 7-3 heading into the ninth inning the Cubs strung together four straight hits which resulted in two quick runs but that’s as far as it would get.  With runners at second and third, trailing by two with nobody out, Castro and Vitters both struck out and looked bad in doing so, and the Cubs inched closer to the 100 loss mark.  Chris Volstad was Chris Volstad bad today as he could only last for three innings giving up seven runs on ten hits while walking none and striking out none, with the loss he falls to 3-11 on the season.  The Cubs were actually uncharacteristically clutch, I mean not counting the ninth inning.  The Cubs pounded out 13 hits, and were 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position, but still managed to leave 11 guys on base.  Anthony Rizzo snapped out of a mini funk by going 3-for-3 with his 15th home run of the season, two RBI’s, two walks, and a run scored.  Alfonso Soriano added to his career high RBI total in this one as well, registering an RBI double in the ninth inning to give him 106 for the season.  The Cubs now head to Arizona where they will meet the Diamondbacks and possibly 100 losses.

FULL BOX SCORE

Game Highlights:
Full Video Recap
Soriano’s RBI Double
Rizzo’s RBI Single
LaHair’s RBI Single
Rizzo Goes Deep
Jackson’s RBI Single

Thanks for reading,
- George

September 20, 2012 – Cubs Lineup vs. Reds

Jason Berken takes the ball for the Cubs today as they look to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Reds.  I see that accountability, actually I should say the LACK of accountability is on full display today as Valbuena is playing a night after getting picked off while playing with his batting gloves.  Here is how the rest of the Cubs will line up.

1. DeJesus – CF
2. Barney – 2B
3. Rizzo – 1B
4. LaHair – RF
5. Castro – SS
6. Valbuena - 3B
7. Castillo – C
8. Sappelt – RF
9. Berken – P

GO CUBS!
- George

Cubs Bats Stay Cold on Tuesday

Justin Germano and Homer Bailey went back and forth early each throwing up zeros for the first five innings.  Germano ran into some problems in the sixth when he walked the first three batters in the sixth inning and just like that Germano’s night was done.  Manuel Corpas was brought into a tough spot and got Scott Rolen to fly out, but Ryan Hanigan delivered the big blow hitting a three run double into the right center gap.  Corpas got out of the inning and pitched the seventh as well not allowing another hit.  Alberto Cabrera and Jaye Chapman did their job keeping the Reds right where they were as they combined to pitch two scoreless innings.  The Cubs threatened in the eighth when with one out Darwin Barney delivered his second hit of the game and would later score the Cubs lone run when Bryan LaHair lined a double down the right field line.  Homer Bailey was really good for the Reds, but that would be the end of his night and in came our old friend Sean Marshall.  After hitting Dave Sappelt he struck out Josh Vitters and got Anthony Rizzo to ground out to end the Cubs threat in the eighth inning.  With no Aroldis Chapman the Cubs saw Jonathan Broxton in the ninth and did absolutely nothing going three up and three down to end the game losing 3-1.  The Cubs offense was not good again on Tuesday only able to muster up four hits against the Reds, two of which were by Barney who extended his hitting streak to 13.

FULL BOX SCORE

Game Highlights:
LaHair’s RBI Double
Jackson’s Running Catch
Sveum Postgame

Thanks for Reading,
-Mark

Cubs Offense Too Little Too Late as Pirates Take the Series

After scoring 14 runs in the series opener and rolling over the Pirates the Cubs offense disappeared over the last two games.  Last night they just barely avoided being no-hit, and today they were shut down for eight innings by Jeff Karstens before rallying in the ninth only to fall short and drop the rubber game to the Pirates 8-4.  Travis Wood got the start for the Cubs and was much better than his last few starts, hard to be much worse I guess, but still.  Wood worked five innings giving up two runs on three hits while walking three and striking out six.  The game stayed close into the eighth, that’s where Shawn Camp’s arm fell off.  Okay, he’s not hurt, but he finally had a bad outing, I guess he was due because that never happens.  Camp didn’t retire a batter and gave up five runs on seven hits, if you’re going to be bad, be epic bad, it happens.  The bright spot in the mess of an eight inning was Alberto Cabrera who was called up today and made his major league debut.  Cabrera was electric, working one inning and striking out two hitters, it’s only one outing but it’s a glimpse into the future as Cabrera sets up to be a serviceable major league bullpen arm.  Starlin Castro was the lone offense early as he blasted his 11th home run of the season in the first inning, a career high, he finished the day 2-for-5 at the plate.  Alfonso Soriano, Jeff Baker, and Bryan LaHair all had two hits in the loss, unfortunately the Cubs couldn’t get the big hit when they needed it early in the game.  Full box score and highlights after the jump.

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Cubs First Half in the Books

Can’t believe that the Cubs have already played 81 games, seemed like just yesterday the season started.  Here is a recap of what transpired over the first three months of the 2012 season, and my thoughts.

Let’s start with the bad -

  • When talking about the bad moments of the first half it’s hard to ignore the 12 game losing streak which took place from May 15 thru May 27.  Before the streak the Cubs were 15-20, and playing rather well, in fact given how well the Cubs played the majority of their games it wasn’t crazy to think that if the bullpen resembled anything close to Major League caliber that the Cubs would be at .500.
  • That leads me to Carlos Marmol.  Marmol was a disaster in the first 81 games of the season, although he has been pitching better of late.  Marmol was placed on the DL after a May 11th game against the Brewers, at the time he had an ERA of 6.35 and had been removed from the closers role in favor of Rafael Dolis.  Marmol had as many blown saves (2) as saves before being DL’d.  Since coming off the DL, and being thrown back into the closer role Marmol is 6-for-6 in save opportunities and has lowered his ERA to 4.74, it might have a lot to do with this.
  • Chris Volstad has to be mentioned here as well as he had and is having a horrific first half.  Volstad finished the first half, which included a trip to Iowa, with an 0-7  record and a 7.94 ERA.  Sometimes numbers don’t tell the whole story, in this case I don’t think they tell enough of it.  Volstad has completely lost all confidence, he’s pitching as if he expects to lose.  I guess that will happen to a guy that hasn’t won a game in a calendar year.
  • The record.  Coaches, players, fans, and executives alike knew that this season would be a rough one, they didn’t think it would be this rough.  I for one have no problems with the 31-50 record because it means nothing, this year was a throw away year, whether the Cubs were 25 under or 15 under, it’s just a necessary season in the process of rebuilding and I’m okay with that.
  • Geovany Soto, oh how the mighty have fallen.  After alternating good and bad years since his 2008 rookie of the year campaign it seems as though Geo has found some consistency, not in a good way.  It looks more and more like Soto was a one hit wonder, as he is in the midst of another wasted season.  Soto hit .163 over the first 81 games, with only five home runs.  He has been routinely outplayed by Clevenger and Castillo behind the dish.  I will even say that Koyie Hill provided more of a spark, that’s how bad Geo’s been.

Now on to the good, yes there has been plenty of that -

  • Alfonso Soriano, what a tremendous first half from a player that almost everyone, except Jed and Theo, thought was beyond done.  Not only has Soriano provided improved offensive numbers he has been spotless in LF.  Think about that for a second, Soriano has not committed an error all season in LF.  He has also played an above average defense, getting to balls he could only once dream about getting to.  He’s clearly hurt but he has earned a lot of respect back from me after I wrote him off.  Soriano finished the first half (again in games, I know the Cubs have 4 games left in the “half”) hitting .269 with 15 home runs and 46 RBI’s.
  • Bryan LaHair was another player that was bound and determined to prove himself, but for different reasons.  Coming into the season LaHair never had a starting role in the big leagues, an oddity for a 29-year-old with just a handful on major league experience.  But he took the opportunity and ran with it in the first month of the season by hitting .390 with five home runs and 14 RBI’s.  As expected he cooled off during May and June, but he has been great in July which also coincides with finding out he was elected to his first All-Star game.
  • Ryan Dempster entered the 2012 season amid trade rumors, and they just got louder and louder every time he pitched, mostly because he was outstanding.  Dempster has been a man on a mission in the first half, he has been slowed by a lat injury but he has pitched at a Cy Young level up until then.  If the Cubs bullpen or clutch hitting was consistent at all Dempster might be close to the lead league in wins.  He has settled for a 3-3 record with a sparkling 2.11 ERA.  I doubt he makes it past July 31st as a Cub, so enjoy it while it lasts.
  • Travis Wood who was brought over from Cincinnati in the Sean Marshall deal, didn’t make the team out of Spring Training.  He started the year at Triple-A and struggled, leaving some to suggest that Theo got fleeced in the deal.  Wood got an opportunity in the rotation at the big league level once is was clear that Chris Volstad was not up to par.  Wood has dominated ever since, thus shutting up all those people who questioned his existence on the Cubs roster.  Wood made nine starts in the first half and finished with a 3-3 record and a 3.05 ERA.  He might be a huge part of the future for this team.
  • James Russell and Shawn Camp’s work out of the bullpen cannot go unrecognized.  Both guys have been a stabilizing force in the back of the Cubs bullpen all year.  Russell sports a 2.27 ERA in 39.2 innings, while Camp has been just as good in his 43 innings, he finished the first half with a 2.93 ERA.
  • A late addition to this post has to be Anthony Rizzo.  After basically two and three-quarters months of Cubs fans pleading for Rizzo they finally got their wish in late June.  Rizzo has not disappointed one bit.  Not only is he producing at a high level, and is exciting to watch, he is giving Cubs fans a glimpse of  what Theo’s vision might look like down the road.  That’s important for Cubs fans to see, to know they are not suffering through maybe the worst season in Franchise history for nothing.  In the 8 games that Rizzo has been up with the Cubs he has hit .323 with three home runs and six RBI’s.  Not to mention he has had the game winning hit in three of those eight games, and the Cubs are 6-2 since his call up.

The in-between -

  • Long time Cub Kerry Wood retired during the first half of the season.  It was bittersweet for sure.  For a lot of Cubs fans, including myself, Kerry Wood was the face of the franchise growing up, in good times and bad.  Kerry worked his tail off to get in shape and put his injuries behind him to have a pretty solid career.  He was having a horrible season this year, and it was clear to him and many people surrounding the team that it was time to hang em up.  He did the right thing, walked away, and will be apart of this organizations future one way or another.

There were a lot of things in the first half that made us cover our eyes as Cubs fans.  But there were also a lot of things that opened them as well, this team competes, rarely gives up and is usually in a lot of games.  Right now that doesn’t translate to a lot of wins, but it’s something to hang on to from the first half.  This team will look much different in the second half once the trade deadline comes and goes.  Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, David DeJesus, Geovany Soto, among others could all be gone.  Anthony Rizzo is already here, but he could be joined by Brett Jackson, and Josh Vitters at some point.  It’s something to be excited about, we’ve suffered through quite possibly the worst first half in team history, the saving grace is that it shouldn’t be this bad ever again.

Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
- George

Cubs Lose Control, and Winning Streak

Nothing more aggravating then watching pitchers walk the ballpark, and that’s exactly what the Cubs did tonight.  The Cubs walked nine guys over eight innings pitched, that signaled the end of the Cubs four game winning streak as they fell to the Braves 10-3.  Things got off to a much better start as Volstad looked shaky but serviceable in the early innings.  The Cubs trailed 1-0 when the Braves defense started to unravel and the Cubs took advantage.  Dan Uggla showed why he is known as a hitter only as he threw a potential inning ending double play ball into left field which allowed DeJesus to score from first to tie the game at one.  Bryan LaHair and Steve Clevenger followed with two out RBI singles to put the Cubs up 3-1 in the top of the 3rd.  For a second it looked like Chris Volstad was going to break through and get his first win in over a calendar year, but then he remembered that he always has one bad inning, and he had it in the 5th.  Four hits, one walk, and five runs later the Braves had a 6-3 lead and Volstad was out of the game.  The air was taken out of the Cubs in the “Volstad Inning” as they didn’t really threaten the rest of the way, but the Cubs pitchers did nothing to help the cause as they couldn’t find the plate.  Every Cubs hitter in the starting lineup had at least one hit except Luis Valbuena, LaHair and DeJesus each had two.  Full box score and highlights after the jump.

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June 19, 2012 – Cubs Lineup vs. White Sox

The Cubs go for two in a row over the White Sox behind Travis Wood tonight.  he weather is much like it was yesterday, which could spell trouble for Wood.  He has to limit the walks tonight because the ball will be jumping once again.  Here is how the Cubs will line up, LaHair in right again as Rizzo prep continues.

DeJesus CF
Castro SS
LaHair RF
Soriano DH
Clevenger 1B
Barney 2B
Valbuena 3B
Soto C
Campana LF

Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
- George

Cubs Play Long Ball, Destroy White Sox

Regardless of where the teams are in the standings it is always fun to beat the White Sox, especially the way the Cubs did tonight.  For the first time in what seems like forever the Cubs were on the right side of a blow out as the Cubs pounded out five home runs en route to a 12-3 victory.  The Cubs jumped on Zach Stewart early as they got two runs in the third inning to take a 2-0 lead.  It didn’t stop there, for once, as the Cubs scored three more in the fifth to make it 5-o.  As it always is with this team you never when you can relax, as illustrated by the Sox mini rally.  The Sox got one back in the bottom of the 5th to make it 5-1 and plated two more in the bottom of the sixth to make it 6-3.  That’s as close as the Sox would get as the Cubs would have a huge seventh inning as they scored six times on five hits including a three run shot from Luis Valbuena to make it 12-3 and that’s how it would end.

Matt Garza didn’t need too much help as he pitched very well on a tough night to do so.  It was a very hot and windy night which made the Cell play smaller than it actually is, but Garza limited the damage.  Garza went six strong innings giving up three runs on five hits while walking one and striking out six.  Every Cubs player had at least one hit in the blow out win.  Starlin Castro and Luis Valbuena each had three hits on the night, with Castro belting a two run homer and Valbuena hitting a three run shot for good measure.  Bryan LaHair, Alfonso Soriano, and Geovany Soto all had two hits, and all three guys hit home runs as well.  Full box score and highlights after the jump.

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LaHair’s Heroics Not Enough to Rescue Cubs

The madness continued this afternoon for the Cubs as they lost their 11th straight one-run game.  Think about that for a second, the last 11 games decided by one run have been losses.  That is hard to do, but I guess when a team can’t get clutch hits, and when they finally do the bullpen can’t hold the lead then that’s what happens.  Today was a perfect illustration of how the Cubs somehow find a way to lose a one run game.  Trailing 2-1 in the top of the 8th with two-out Dale Sveum turned to Bryan LaHair off the bench and he delivered.  LaHair launched a long two-run home run to right centerfield to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead and probably showed the most emotion he has all year rounding the bases.  That’s not a knock on LaHair but he’s pretty reserved, he we definitely jacked up when that one left the yard.  Unfortunately, like so many times this year when the Cubs take a lead late in the game they usually give it right back, and that’s exactly what happened.  The Cubs allowed the Brewers to tie it in the bottom of the 8th inning and Casey Coleman gave up a walk off home run to Aoki, his second of the game, in the bottom of the 10th to lose the game and series.

Matt Garza had one of his best road outings on the season as he went six strong innings allowing two runs on four hits.  His command was much better than it has been on the road as he only walked one guy and struck out six in the no decision.  Not much going for the Cubs at the plate as Randy Wolf completely shut them down.  Joe Mather was 2-for-4 at the plate and Bryan LaHair did more than anyone in just one at bat going 1-for-1 with a home run and two RBI’s… off to Minnesota.  Full box score and highlights after the jump.

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