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Old 06-19-2014, 04:09 PM   #9
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Re: A rebuild for the ages -|Chicago Cubs|-



Schierholtz and Castro catch fire as Cubs win 6 of 7

The Chicago Cubs made a solid move to open up the month that once more revamped their rotation and with an adjusted line up, it was a duel between two heated rivals that were trending in opposite directions, the Cardinals are sputtering somewhat in the early going but have been terrific while the Cubs have been struggling and have been consistently bad the past few years.

With a 2-1 series victory, the Cubs relieve some of their tensions and started of the season in an entirely positive way, Nate Schierholtz hit a big triple in the fifth that would lead to a score later in the inning and Anthony Rizzo powered in a 3 run shot in the first inning against starter Joe Kelley, as the Cubs picked up a big game 1 victory and a rare win for the struggling Josh Hammel. Tyson Ross has been a mixed bag for the Cubs since recovering from a minor injury but in holding the Cardinals to one earned in 7 innings in his victory, Ross played an excellent game that exceeded expectations for the pitcher shutting down a talented Cardinal batting line up. The Cubs owuld finally drop one, getting beat by 4 against hte Cardinals in the conclusion of their series against Micahel Wacha, Arrieta lasted only 3 innings and allowed 6 earned as the Cardinals bats came to life, with Yadier Molina and Taveras each belting a home run, including a grand slam by Taveras that knocked Arrieta out of the match up.

The Cubs than traveled back home to Chicago where the Cubs took on their cross town rivals in a 2-2 home and away series, and the Cubs swept their cross town rivals in the four game match up. New comer Juan Oviedo picked up the win for the Cubs in the 12th inning after Chris Archer pitched 8 innings with only 1 earned, a home run in the first inning. John Danks shut out the Cubs in six innings, but Lidstrom would blow a save when Wellington Castillo blasted a 2-out home run in the ninth to tie the game at 1 a piece, and the game would be won for the Cubs when Junior Lake blasted a line drive home run on the first at bat of the 12th inning.

The Cubs took game two with Wesley Wright credited for winning the game in a 5-3 decision. Paul Konerko hit a farewell home run against the Cubs who would once again rally in the ninth with four runs to stun their cross town rivals for the second consecutive game. With the series turning to the Cell, the Cubs wouldn't need any late game theatrics to pick up a victory, instead staving off the Sox who were behind for seven of the nine innings and really didn't pose much of a threat.

Tyson Ross would secure the sweep with a 4-3 victory, allowing 5 hits in six innings and striking 4 with 1 earned to bring down his season long ERA, Jose Veras picked up the save and kept a perfect ERA, blanking the Sox in the final frame. Chris Sale allowed 4 earned and was pulled at the end o the fifth after allowing the Cubs to come back from a 1-3 deficit to take the lead in a single inning.Impressively, Sale did punch out 7 Cubs in his limited action.

The Cubs pick up a very impressive 6-1 record through the first week and a half of action just a month after only winning 7 games throughout the course of the entire month. The Cubs have road trips to Atlanta and Saint Louis on the horizon and will love to carry the momentum into those series.
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Old 06-19-2014, 04:32 PM   #10
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Re: A rebuild for the ages -|Chicago Cubs|-

Cubs take 2 more series

The Cubs win 2 more series, a month after their series record was a mere 2-7 and all of their series victories came against the Pirates. The Cubs are now 4-0 (strictly speaking of series) in May and are off to an improbably good start. The Team will likely stand pat with their roster as is, Theo Epstein has to be thrilled for this month, especially after how horrible last month was and the Cubs stand just 7 games away from .500, after being around the 20 game mark away from .500. The Cubs extended their win streak to six games, with two consecutive victories over the Braves, including a 6-0 beating by Chris Archer to stave off the Braves.

The Cubs won their first game on another game winning hit by Junior Lake who seems only to be capable of being a hitter when the game is on the line, despite posting a .197 batting average, the outfielder has now had 2 game winning hits in the past two weeks, albeit the one against the Braves coming on a sacrifice fly that hit the warning track and brought in the runner for the win. Jake Arrieta allowed 1 earned but posted an excellent game with allowing only 6 hits on the day. Tazawa would blank the Braves on his way to picking up a second win on the season and Jose Veras earns save number 8 for the Cubs. Chris Archer pitched 7 scoreless innings and the Cubs shut out the Braves in the second game of the series in a 6-0 difference.

The Cubs would than lose 2 straight with Travis Wood starting off the small losing streak with a 0-3 loss to the Braves, thanks in large to the deficiencies that the offense had from just the month prior. A disappointing end to a strong series for the Cubs and a bad start for the Cubs against the Cardinals as Hammel surrenders 5 earned in 5 innings and drops to 3-5 on the season. Hammel wouldn't allow a ball to leave the park, his first time in the season the pitcher hadn't.

Than it was 2 straight for the Cubs, who rallied to a 5-4 lead in the eigth inning only to have Tazawa blow the save by allowing a run to cross the plate. Jose Veras would post a nearly perfect performance allowing just 1 hit and striking out 2, Javier Baez would pick up another costly error but thanks to his double, Junior Lake would knock in the runner to give the Cubs a 10th inning victory against the home side.

Chris Archer would than drop his first game as a Cub allowing 3 earned in the 6th of a 0-0 game and the Cubs wouldn't be able to rebound, James Russell surrendered another earned and Wright gave up 3 more earned as the Cardinals routed their rivals in a 2-9 match up.

The Cubs would than drop their first series of the month, losing to the Brewers in their opening game which would amount to starting pitcher, Travis Wood's fifth loss on the year in a 2-6 decision spearheaded by ex-Cub Matt Garza who picks up his first win of the season against his former team.

In the second game, the Cubs would rally and Juan Oviedo picks up his second win thanks to a 2 run eight inning that put the Brewers in a 5-4 decision, once again thanks to a Junior Lake RBI, Lake has 4 game winning hits in this month alone and his bating average still isn't improving much at all. In the conclusion of the series, the Cubs would fall as Tyson Ross drops to .500 with a 3-3 season, allowing 4 earned through five innings pitched, whle Marco Estrada pitched 6 and allowed 3 earned before being pulled with no outs in the seventh and the Cubs run would be swiftly quelled.

The Cubs now sit at 18-26, Their run has them only half a game behind the Pirates who are in the crux of a 4 game losing streak, the Cubs winning percentage at .409 now has them out of the MLB basement where they started the month at 2 games behind the next lowest record, and the Cubs aren't far off from several other teams, another winning streak could see them shoot up quickly.
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Old 06-23-2014, 06:24 PM   #11
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Re: A rebuild for the ages -|Chicago Cubs|-



Cubs burn out

After an extremely promising start to the month, the Cubs returned to old traditions in facing two of the better NL teams that the league has to offer in San Diego and San Fransisco, the two California based clubs beat the Cubs in a matter of 2-5 and 21-33 score difference across the two match ups. Travis Wood and Chris Archer would be the only two pitchers to pick up wins on the road trip to the west coast.

Travis Wood posts a beautiful 4-0 shut out victory against a high powered offense as the Cubs manage to stun Andrew Cashner and give the pitcher his 3rd loss of the season, where as the two pitchers with losing records for the Padres pick up wins in Josh Johnson and Eric Stults who are a combined 8-14. Starlin Castro batted .381 in the series while Javier Baez added a pair of doubles in batting .290, but it wouldn't be enough. Jake Arrieta picks up his fifth loss in the Cubs final game against the Padres, Ian Kennedy jumps to .500 despite a 1.68 ERA, the Padres seemingly lacking runs when he plays, not on this Sunday after noon as they put up 6 runs against the Cubs struggling pitcher.

In the series opener against the Giants, Chris Archer out dueled Matt Cain of the San Fransisco Giants, allowing 1 run in 7 innings and improving to 5-3 on the season with his victory over the Giants, the only of the series.Travis Wood couldn't continue his win streak and despite 50 strike outs on the season, Travis Wood has an ERA at 4.27 and his record dipped to 2-6 with a 5-9 loss against the Giants. Jason Hammel and Tim Lincecum engaged in a duel of past aces, and Lincecum emerged victorious by virtue of shutting out the Cubs while Hammel allowed only 2 runs but lost his 7th game of the season.

The Cubs closed out the month with a pair of games against the Milwaukee Brewers and turned things around dramatically, Junichi Tazawa picked up his 3rd win of the season with the Cubs 3 run rally in the eighth inning to boost the Cubs back into winning territory, thanks to home runs by Jed Gyorko and Anthony Rizzo, who were each responsible for 3 runs on their shots. Jake Arrieta allowed 3 runs in 6 innings while striking out 5 and didn't get a decision in this one as it'd take until the 12th inning for the Cubs to emerge, after PEdro Strop pitched 3 scoreless innings to get the Cubs through the elevnth and Jose Veras shut down the game for his 13th save of the season.
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Old 06-23-2014, 06:46 PM   #12
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Re: A rebuild for the ages -|Chicago Cubs|-



Anthony Rizzo and Jake Arrieta's struggles underscore a solid month for Cubs baseball

The Cubs need to make moves to bolster their line up that much is clear, but one of the pieces they planned to build around is playing at a sub par level while two starters are drawing closer to 10 losses after 2 months of play, but while Arrieta doesn't have a W-L record as bad as Jason Hammel's, his ERA is almost a 6, which is horrible, and Travis Wood isn't far off from being on the struggling side of things.

Anthony Rizzo will likely be sent to the bench or potentially AAA to work himself out of this batting skid he found himself in, especially with Josh Vitters playing ball at a high level and being able to slide in at first, Rizzo has played well below expectations as he has struggled most of the season. Dan Vogelbach is vested within the Cubs roster but many still see him as a minor league talent at best and he won't likely see a promotion and has a lot of expectations to be traded, at least unless Rizzo can pull from this slump.

Another ailing positional player is Wellington Castillo who saw his batting average drop below the .200 mark in the past few series and despite a few heroic blasts in recent games, the Catcher has been a non-factor and has struggled behind the plate somewhat, the Cubs signed a familiar face to back him up, Henry Blanco returns to the Cubs, the 42 year old will likely retire after this season but gives depth at a position the Cubs had none, he won't be the starter for long but gives Castillo time to work and be mentored on the ins and outs of catching.

As for the pitching, the Cubs will have to stand pat, the Cubs have Matt Wisler, Anthony Ranaudo and Yordano Ventura sitting with their Iowa squad but Ranaudo posted a 6 ERA in one month of pitching and the other two are inexperienced at the MLB level, if Arrieta struggles another month, it could be possible to see a move to the AAA to be in the works for him, but until than, the Cubs who had made a lot of moves early in the season will not be pursuing another starter, and could potentially ship off another starter (likely Hammels) if they see themselves struggle in June for another prospect.


Top batters:


Top pitchers by ERA


Starting pitchers stats


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Old 06-26-2014, 09:27 PM   #13
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Re: A rebuild for the ages -|Chicago Cubs|-



Cubs head into the All-Star break with a tie for last

After a promising May, the Cubs couldn't convert that success into a 12-16 June that included a sweep at the hand of fellow bottom feeder Pittsburgh, and a combined record of 4-7 against NL Central opponents and going the entire month only winning 2 series (albeit 1 being a 4 game series against the Nationals). Their woes continued against the NL East, which aside from the Marlins (who the Cubs went 3-3 against this month); the Cubs would finish off that particular stretch 5-7 and losing 3 of 4 series (winning a 2-1 series against the Marlins).

The Cubs would also conclude the month by losing to a familiar face in Edwin Jackson, who has filled the role of fifth ace for the Red Sox and gave them a little more versatility, the ex-Cub saw his team take the series 2-1, with Juan Oviedo picking up an extra inning victory against the Sox to conclude the series.

Opening up the first half of July, the Cubs managed to stun the Nationals, and a team that is almost 20 games over 500 lost their second straight series to the Cubs, falling 2-1 and their only victory came in a 0-1 fashion in extra frames. The Cubs open July with a 7-5 record despite losing their series to the Red Sox, the Cubs win their series against the Nationals and Braves while drawing the Reds in their four game series.

The Cubs found themselves at 42-53 at the All-Star break and tied with the Pirates for last place in the division with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cincinnati Reds head out the division at 54-41, the Cardinals following suit at 51-46 and the Milwaukee Brewers are 48-48 for third. The NL playoffs currently has the Nationals (EAST), Reds (Central) and Giants (WEST) as the guaranteed bids with the Braves holding the top wild card spot and the Cardinals and Mets tied for the second with the Mets holding a 50-45 record.

The ALs race has the Rays atop the East at 58-39, the Royals atop the Central at 53-42, the Oakland Athletics at 54-41 atop the West. The Oriole and Blue Jays each are slotted for wild card bids. The Cubs winning percentage of .442 is ahead of 5 teams, which although they fell to the bottom spot in their division, they are slowly clawing their way upwards.


A look at the starting rotation

Chris Archer
12-3 2.03 ERA 16 QS 2 CG 1 SHO 1.13 WHIP 112 K
Chris Archer has been an absolute gem atop the Cubs rotation, Travis Wood had struggled in that position as did several other Cubs starters which led to management making a move that brought in the young ace who has compiled an impressive introductory campaign with the North Siders. He has solidified himself atop the rotation and has proven to be an absolute steal.

Travis Wood
4-9 4.16 ERA 10 QS 1.3 WHIP 80 K
Travis Wood started the season as the top pitcher and while some of his losses cannot be attributed to him, a lot of blame can be pressed towards his 4.16 ERA, which is a whole extra run higher than his last years totals. While he has regressed in the early running, he has caught fire and shown some of his prowess and potential early on, the Cubs will aim to see if he can retake the top spot, but he has struggled to do so while Archer has shown no signs of slowing down.

Jason Hammel
5-11 4.35 ERA 10 QS 1.35 WHIP 90 K
Hammel has pitched in the most games of any Cubs pitcher and the new coming north sider has done things such as pitched 8 shut out innings but also has had to be pulled in the 2nd and 3rd inning this season, he has had some quality starts, but also is the first Cubs pitcher to 10 losses and is easily on pace for twenty, which could make it very hard for him to get a new deal or go anywhere in free agency. He has been an absolute mixed bag.

Tyson Ross
5-7 4.97 ERA 7 QS 1.48 WHIP 66 K
Ross likely earns the distinction of luckiest Cubs pitcher on the roster, Ross is just two games below .500 despite having a borderline 5 ERA, getting a good amount of run support in his games, Ross will need to perform better if he hopes to get back up to .500, and he has allowed 41 walks, which is second highest on the roster despite pitching in the fewest amount of games.

Jake Arrieta
3-7 6.27 ERA 6 QS 1.67 WHIP 88 K
Arrieta has a huge strike out total at 88 which puts him at 3rd on the roster, but his ERA is easily one of the worst and it has his position on the squad hanging in the balance, with the All-Star game about to start, it is likely he will be in Iowa come the start of regular games. It has been extremely disappointing.

A look at the positional players in the system

Trending up
2B Jedd Gyorko (MLB)
C Wellington Castillo (MLB)
OF Justin Ruggiano (MLB)
SP Chris Archer (MLB)
1B Anthony Rizzo (AAA)
SP Matt Wisler (AAA)
SP Yordano Ventura (AAA)
2B Gioskar Amaya (AA)
SP Pierce Johnson (AA)
SP Carlos Pimentel (AA)

Trending Down
RF Nate Schierholtz (MLB)
LF Junior Lake (MLB)
LF Josh Vitters (MLB)
SP Tyson Ross (MLB)
SP Jake Arrieta (MLB)
2B Chris Valaika (AAA)
1B Dustin Geiger (AAA)
SP Tsuyoshi Wada (AAA)
SP Chris Rusin (AAA)
SP Rob Zastryzny (AA)
SP Corey Black (AA)
SP Duane Underwood (AA)

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Old 06-26-2014, 09:59 PM   #14
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Re: A rebuild for the ages -|Chicago Cubs|-



Cubs move players along their farm systems

A month long designation to the minor leagues to readjust Anthony Rizzo who had major struggles saw success in the AAA's where the first basemen batted for .438 and had 9 home runs. Rizzo was called back up to the top level, which meant that Josh Vitters returned to the AAA, after a short call up, Vitters batted .218 in the majors and struggled especially as the All-Star break approached.

Kris Bryant batted .428 in June for the Iowa Cubs and suddenly it looks as if Nate Schierholtz could be a trade piece as the team looks towards the future, it becomes to beg the question if Kris Bryant is ready for MLB action or could use the final few months of development as it's unlikely the Cubs keep him stashed in the AAA next season.

Jake Arrieta will be moving to the AAA for the rest of the season after a first half that yield a 6.5 ERA, and a poor record. In his wake will be Matt Wisler who pitched for a 2.18 ERA in the AAA, almost anything could be better tha Arrieta's ERA and Wisler will get his first licks at the MLB level, where he likely would be next season barring development from a few other prospects.

With the draft a month in hindsight, the Cubs can look back upon it with a bit of a mixed review. Their top pick in Derrick Tackett yielded a starting lefty that figures to be an upper rotation pitcher, and a lot of his promise comes from the velocity and movement upon his pitches, he lacks control however and needs time to develop precision as he had a high strike out and walk rate in college.

Rick Dixon figures to be a replacement for Wellington Castillo down the road. Castillo has seemingly reached his ceiling and while he is by no means a bad player, his ceiling seems to be predicated on a level resembling that of an average MLB starter, while Rick Dixon has the potential to be an all-star caliber Catcher, and oddly enough, he's one with a lot of athletic ability, Dixon had the best measurables amongst catchers in the draft, his main issues come at the plate, but his defensive side is excellent.

Tyson Kimble could see playing time come next season, the third round pick at first base was one of the more talented players in the draft with his ability to switch hit, and a steady swing, he is incredibly average and his ceiling isn't very high, he won't pose as a threat to Anthony Rizzo, but will serve as an excellent back up and his versatility to play all three bases will prove insurmountable as they are able to give rest to their starters.

Albert Lyle at the fourth round figures to be a career minor leaguer or at the very best a fifth or fourth starter, he will likely start in AA and see where he can go from there, he is decently talented from the start, but his ceiling isn't high at all.

Sam Valentin is one who was drafted to almost exclusively be a minor league contributor, the short stop wont pose any threat to Starlin Castro and his ceiling has him as at best a bench utility player, but likely he won't see action in the MLB unless injurys rear their head.
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Old 06-26-2014, 11:09 PM   #15
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Re: A rebuild for the ages -|Chicago Cubs|-



Cubs improve and show signs for next year

Batting Statistics

Catchers:
Wellington Castillo .277 AVG .408 SLG 13 HR 53 RBI
Eli Whiteside .180 AVG .188 SLG 0 HR 10 RBI
Henry Blanco .236 AVG .400 SLG 2 HR 7 RBI

First Basemen
Anthony Rizzo .218 AVG .372 SLG 17 HR 49 RBI

Second Basemen
Jedd Gyorko .259 AVG .424 SLG 17 HR 56 RBI
Arismendy Alcantara .225 .278 SLG 1 HR 10 RBI

Third Basemen
Javier Baez .249 AVG .448 SLG 19 HR 44 RBI
Christian Villanueva .236 AVG .321 SLG 3 HR 13 RBI

Short Stop
Starlin Castro .254 AVG .381 SLG 11 HR 62 RBI

Left Field
Junior Lake .231 AVG .356 SLG 10 HR 33 RBI

Center Field
Emilo Bonifacio .238 AVG .344 SLG 4 HR 46 RBI
Justin Ruggiano .262 AVG .480 SLG 24 HR 72 RBI

Right Field
Nate Schierholtz .238 AVG .380 SLG 16 HR 52 RBI

Starting Pitching
Chris Archer (17-6) 2.63 ERA 188 K 72 BB 25 QS 1.16 WHIP
Travis Wood (7-16) 4.06 ERA 144 K 62 BB 18 QS 1.32 WHIP
Jason Hammel (7-16) 4.89 ERA 157 K 83 BB 14 QS 1.45 WHIP
Tyson Ross (12-11) 3.73 ERA 129 K 65 BB 17 QS 1.3 WHIP
Matt Wisler (2-4) 4.32 ERA 57 K 26 BB 5 QS 1.36 WHIP

Relief Notables
Jose Veras 1.85 ERA 55 K 15 BB 40-5 SV-BS
Juan Oviedo 2.51 ERA 67 K 20 BB 1-1 SV-BS 17 HLD


The Cubs season ended on a much higher note than it began thanks to a few shrewd moves by Theo Epstein and while they remain tied for last place as they had last season (they actually finished fifth ahead of the Astros), the Cubs picked up about 15 more wins than a year ago and sat below .500 but didn't seem to come close to their 100 loss seasons that had become rather common place.

The Cubs season can be placed squarely on their offense as the Cubs had the 29th ranked scoring offense in the MLB, finishing with 561 scored runs which was 40 less than the team they had tied with and only beat the Astros to keep themselves from the worst offense in the MLB.

Justin Ruggiano was the best batter for the Cubs this season with a .262 average that tied for 39th best in the MLB, he would also add 24 home runs which tied for 22nd in the MLB. His 72 RBI's were good for 29th in the MLB. His slugging percentage of .480 finished at 16th in the MLB, behind a crux of NL all stars (McCutchen, Adrian Gonzalez and Tulowitzki).

Starlin Castro finished tied for fifth in the MLB with 38 doubles, tying for ninth in the MLB with 5 triples, that figure was matched by team mate Jedd Gyorko. Anthony Rizzo was 48th in home runs with 17, Javier Baez had 19 to land at 36th. Emilio Bonifacio had 25 stolen bases (9) and Starlin Castro with 21 (13th), Justin Ruggiano had 17 (22), Javier Baez with 12 (33), all factored into the Cubs who had the 7th best stolen bases in the MLB with 100, their 31 triples landed them at 3rd in the MLB.

In the greatest honor of the season, Chris Archer who finished with a MLB best 17 wins and his 2.63 ERA was among the top, while also adding 188 strike outs earned himself the Cy Young award, he was the only Cub to win the award, but he had definitely earned it, the trade seemed to spur growth for both sides as the Cubs improved while Archer who had lost 2 games before coming from the Rays went on a seemingly untouchable streak that saw him win almost every game in Cubby blue.

The Cubs finish their regular season at 74-88 (.457), the Pirates had the exact same record, while the Brewers finished a game above .500 with a 82-80 record, the St. Louis Cardinals finished 4.5 games back in the Central with a 84-79 record, while the Cincinnati Reds claimed the NL Central with a 88-74 record.
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Old 06-27-2014, 12:01 AM   #16
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Re: A rebuild for the ages -|Chicago Cubs|-



Cubs announce they are parting ways with Hammel; others

The Cubs won't be extending the contracts of a few veterans from last years squad including Luis Valbuena and Jason Hammel, Hammel struggled to pick up wins and while it is entirely possible his difficulties could be attributed to the struggles of the run producing unit the Cubs had, there are definitely other options available for the Cubs in free agency especially at the starting pitching slot and the Cubs have some money to spend.

The Cubs resigned Nate Schierholtz to a one year deal but will look to deal him after a decent 2014 campaign, joining him was Justin Ruggiano who will likely not be a Cub next season after a strong 2014 campaign, the Cubs will likely look to deal the pair at some point this offseason.
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