Results tagged ‘ Ian Stewart ’

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

Late Offensive Binge Propels Cubs

The Cubs have had their issues scoring runs, which is what makes what they did today that much more surprising.  In another close game it looked the Cubs were going to follow the same script they have so many times this year.  Play a competitive game then for whatever reason have the wheels fall off in the late innings, today they returned the favor to the Brewers.  A pair of solo home runs got the Cubs on the board in the 5th and sixth inning by Ian Stewart and Reed Johnson.  Heading to the 7th inning the game was tied and two and that’s when the Cubs offense kicked it into high gear.  One run in the 7th, two runs in the 8th, and three runs in the 9th resulted in the Cubs avoiding the sweep with a 8-2 victory.  The top of the order had a lot to do with the Cubs success today as the one, two, and three hitters combined to go 7-for-15, anytime that happens runs are usually in abundance.  Jeff Samardzija might not have had his best stuff but he was able to get through five solid innings to end up with a no decision.  Russell, Wood, and Bowden each worked a scoreless inning down the stretch to close out the Brewers.  Full box score and highlights after the jump.

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Samardzija on a Roll, Beats Braves

Jeff Samardzija is quickly turning into one of, if not the best number three starter in baseball.  Samardzija’s brilliance was on display again last night as he went seven strong innings en route to a 5-1 Cubs victory, which moves Samardzija to 4-1 on the season.  The Cubs used the same recipe that has been working the last few games, home runs and solid pitching.  Bryan LaHair and Ian Stewart went back-to-back in the 4th inning to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead.  Geovany Soto took the stress out of the ninth inning by launching a two run home run in the bottom of the 8th to give the Cubs some breathing room at 5-1.  Carlos Marmol had an eventful inning which saw him strike out Dan Uggla with the tying run at second base in the 8th after he walked the first two batters of the inning.  As the fog descended upon Wrigley Field James Russell recorded the final three outs for the Cubs victory.  Full box score and highlights after the jump.

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Shark Attack in Cincinnati; Cubs Beat Reds

Jeff “Shark” Samardzija was outstanding once again tonight winning his third game of the year.  He gave up one run on three hits, while striking out seven and walking two.  Helping Samardzija tonight was the Cubs defense as they made several good plays, including a great diving stop by Blake Dewitt to start a pretty inning ending double play.  Offensively, The Cubs got the scoring started in the second when Bryan LaHair led the inning off with a solo home run, his sixth of the year.  The Cubs then did something they have not done much this year when Ian Stewart hit his second home run of the year.  Yes, you read that correctly the Cubs hit two home runs in the same night.  The rare events would not end there as Geovany Soto extended the Cubs lead to 3-1 with a two out RBI single in the sixth, his first hit with runners in scoring position after previously going 0-10 this season.  Just to prove it was the Cubs night, Carlos Marmol worked a perfect ninth to end the game with no drama.  This was definitely a good win for the Cubs.  They made some several good plays defensively throughout the game, hit some homers, had a clutch two out hit, and got some great pitching.  Hopefully more good baseball to come as things have been a lot better as of late.  Full Box Score after the jump.

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Cubs Spoil Cardinals Big Day

Okay, I’m sure the Cardinals will live, they walk away from today’s game with a loss but they also got a rather shiny ring to commemorate their World Championship last year that the Cubs had a huge hand in.  Today, the Cubs got a small piece of revenge beating the Cardinals 9-5 at a soggy Busch Stadium in St. Louis.  Adam Wainwright, who is returning from Tommy John this season was beat for the second time this year, while Jeff Samardzija earned his second win in as many starts for the Cubs.  While the Cubs won by four runs it really could have been much more as it was a tale of two games.

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Travis Wood Rocked, Randy Wells Rolls in Loss to Brewers

Randy Wells turned in an outstanding performance against the Brewers on Wednesday afternoon, going three scoreless innings, Travis Wood, not so much.  Wood was lit up like a Christmas tree for the second time this spring, ending the day with a 1/3rd of an inning pitched giving up 6 runs (5 earned), on 3 hits, 2 walks, while striking out one.

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Casey Weathers Removed From 40-Man Roster

The Cubs removed RHP Casey Weathers from the 40-man roster today.  He was obtained this offseason with Ian Stewart in the deal that sent Tyler Colvin and D.J. Lemahieu to the Rockies.  (more…)

New Look Cubs Begin to Take Shape

Lost in the hoopla surrounding the Cubs since the end of the season was the little matter of deciding Mike Quade’s future.  Even if we, and most Cub fans knew that Mike Quade was not Major League manager material, the Cubs brass

Dale Sveum is Introduced as the 52nd Cubs Manager

needed to make that official.  Shortly after the Cubs front office was completely re energized, the no brainer decision to let Mike Quade pursue other opportunities, most likely in the minors or outside of baseball was made.  We will give Epstein some credit here with the way he handled the process of letting Quade go, very professional.  He made multiple trips to meet with Quade, and had a number of conversations with him and others in the organization to see if he would be a good fit, not based on what he had done it the past, but where he thought, and wanted this team to go in the future.  Clearly, Quade’s idea’s did mesh with the idea’s of the new regime that was now in place, and he was let go from his two year deal that had one year remaining on it.  Epstein and company didn’t have to go far to find the 52nd manager of the Chicago Cubs, just a short trip up I-94 to Milwaukee to find Dale Sveum.  Sveum, serving as the third base coach in 2004 with the Red Sox, won a World Series title with Epstein.  Since 2006, Sveum was on the Brewers coaching staff with titles ranging from third base coach, to bench coach, and to most recently hitting coach.  Sveum did get a crack at the managerial position albeit a short one in 2008 when he took over for Ned Yost and led the Brewers to a 7-5 record down the stretch and a NL Wild Card berth.  Along with Sveum, the following coaches will be joining the Cubs this season...

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