Tagged: Alfonso Soriano

Cubs Win First Game With Teamwork!

Cubs Win!  Cubs Win!  How?  A combined effort of solid pitching and timely hitting gave the Cubs their first victory of 2011.  Everyone contributed and provided the kind of teamwork that will carry this team to new heights.  As a diehard Cubs’ fan, I am very encouraged by this team’s tenacity to hang in there.  I am pleased by the effort that everyone gave.  Indeed, this will be a fun group to watch.  Mike Quade deserves a world of credit for the way this team has come together.  I think there is good reason to be optimistic this season.

Carlos Zambrano struggled early but managed to keep the game close.  Cramping in his hand forced him to leave the game, but Kerry Wood came in and took care of business.  Sean Marshall followed Wood and also shut down the Pirates.  Then in the bottom of the 8th, the Cubs came to life and battled for a 5 run inning.  The beauty of that inning was that everyone contributed with timely hitting. 
60602722.jpg Alfonso Soriano had a key hit and of course, Blake DeWitt delivered in the clutch.  Dewitt, who struggled in Spring Training, deserves a lot of credit.  His confidence needed a boost and he needed that hit as much as the team did.  It was a total team effort. 
60602747.jpg I like the way that this team sticks together and supports one another.  It is refreshing.  Carlos Marmol came on in the 9th and struck out the side for his first save of the young season.
60602748.jpg  In fact, the bullpen retired the last 9 Pirate batters of the game.  Now that’s a solid bullpen! 

Matt Garza is on the bump today.  He will be starting his first game in a Cub uniform.  If he can have a solid outing, then the Cubs should win again.  Garza seems like a really good teammate.  He’s a gamer, you can tell.  With the addition of Garza, Carlos Pena, and the return of Kerry Wood, I believe the club house chemistry is finally coming together.  Mike Quade has good reason to like his chances this year.  Teamwork is what champions are made of and the Cubs are showing signs of having the right chemistry. 

Good job to everyone!  Keep up the good work!  Go Cubs Go!!! 

Would The Red Sox Consider Trading Jacoby Ellsbury To The Cubs?

The Cubs need a spark to ignite the offense, a legitimate lead off hitter.  The Red Sox will undoubtedly try to sign Free Agent, Carl Crawford, and Jacoby Ellsbury could land on the trading block.  Could a trade between Jim Hendy and Theo Epstein bring Ellsbury to Chicago?

It is no secret that the Cubs have had trouble finding a hitter that can effectively lead off.  The Red Sox have shown some interest in Kosuke Fukudome, who has 1-year left on his contract, however,  Boston seeks to restock their farm system with pitching prospects.   
thumbnailCAQ8XLIC.jpg  Is it possible that the Cubs will pursue a bonafide lead-off man to set the table for an offense that sorely lacks the abilty to score runs?

Jacoby Ellsbury was injured last season and only played 18 games so the Red Sox have made adjustments to their outfield.  Boston is reportedly in the mix to acquire Crawford and Ellsbury may be more valuable on the trading block.  If so, the Cubs should seriously consider this particular trade option.

thumbnailCA6DILJH.jpgEllbury is 27 years old and has only played 2 full seasons.  On a 162 game average, Ellsbury bats .291 with 9 HR’s and 60 RBI’s.  He averages a .344 OBP which could be better, but in 2008, he swiped 50 bases and in 2009, he stole 70 bases.  He is a base-stealing threat.  Ellsbury is the type of lead-off hitter that can put pressure on the defense and make things happen.  To acquire Ellsbury, Jim Hendy will need to move an outfielder. 
thumbnailCAUDU6RX.jpgThe Cubs have 4 to choose from.  Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, Kosuke Fukudome, and Tyler Colvin are all possibilites.   I think that such a trade would be mutually beneficial.  Jim Hendry has alot of work to do next week as the Winter Meetings get under way.  Let’s see if Hendry can find the Cubs a legitimate lead-off hitter.  Jim Hendry does a pretty good job finding trades that work for both sides and Jacoby Ellsbury would be a perfect fit for the Cubs.  He has led the American League in Total Zone Runs, Stolen Bases, Fielding %, Defense, and Triples.  According to http://content.usatoday.com/communities/dailypitch/post/2010/11/jacoby-ellsbury-trade-boston-red-sox/1?csp=34, the Red Sox are prepared to trade Ellsbury and Epstein is looking to restock pitchers at the minor league level.  So a trade between the Red Sox and the Cubs certainly looks possible.  I hope so, the Cubs need a solid lead-off guy and some solid defense in the outfield and Boston needs to replenish the farm system.  Jacoby Ellsbury can spark the Cubs’ offense with his base-running prowess and defensive skills.  He has a tremendous amount of energy, something that has been missing in Chicago.

My All-Time Favorite Cubs!

I have been a diehard Cubs’ fan for over 32 years.  Here is a list of my all-time favorite Cubs.

In no particular order, I have broken my favorites down by position.  Former Cub Greats like Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, and Ron Santo are NOT listed since I never had the opportunity to see them play.  However, obviously, they are the best.

In the OUTFIELD, my favorites include ANDRE DAWSON.  Andre Dawson is a Hall of Famer and his numbers speak for themselves. 
thumbnailCASVJS4E.jpgSammy,
thumbnailCAGSWXSZ.jpgon the other hand, lost favor with me when I, along with the rest of the world, discovered that he used a corked bat while hitting 66 homeruns in 1998.  Sammy was exciting to watch, but with the steroid scandal, he became a major disappointment.  I was at Wrigley all summmer long in 1998 and was a witness to history, unfortunately it was all smoke and mirrors for the fans.   Another favorite has been Gary Matthews.  “Sarge” always took charge in the outfield and played hard-nosed baseball.  He was an all-out effort kind of player. My third favorite outfielder, in my time, is BOB DERNIER.
thumbnailCASG8UGU.jpg
thumbnailCAYVE10S.jpg  He was a speedster that not only stole bases, but had a gold glove as well.

At THIRD BASE, the Cubs haven’t had anybody that has stood out until Aramis Ramirez came along. 
thumbnailCA6WKXR1.jpgAlthough he struggled with injuries last season, he has been a solid performer over the past few years with the Cubs.  Hopefully next season, he will return to form.

At SHORTSTOP, my favorite was Ivan DeJesus
thumbnailCAU6D3I4.jpgHe was the lead-off hitter back when I began watching the Cubs.  He played solid defense and stole bases.  He always gave 100%.

At SECOND BASE, there is only one RYNE SANDBERG. 
thumbnailCACA1ZSP.jpgA Hall of Famer, Ryno was simply the best.  He was the most clutch hitter that I’ve ever seen.

At FIRST BASE, while most fans would arguably pick Mark Grace and rightfully so, my pick is BILL BUCKNER.  Back in the day, Buckner was a hitting machine.  In my opinion, he was a better hitter than Gracie.  He was a pretty good defensive player as well.  It is unfortunate that fans only remember the ball that went through his legs at Boston.
thumbnailCAK2MV8C.jpg  The same could be said for Leon Durham in 1984.  Derek Lee deserves special recognition.  I almost picked him and probably should have.  He is probably the best first baseman the Cubs have had in my 32 years as a fan, I just was a big fan of Buckner, that’s all. 

At CATCHER, my favorite was JODY DAVIS.
thumbnailCAIL1KLX.jpg  He was awesome.
thumbnail.jpg  Back in 1984, the Cubs had a good team up and down the line-up.  It was probably my favorite team as a whole.

STARTING PITCHER is none other than Greg Maddux
thumbnailCAXBVF46.jpgHe is the king of the hill.

My favorite CLOSER was BRUCE SUTTER.  He had a split-fingered fast ball that was lights out.  Carlos Marmol recently broke his strikeout record for closers.

thumbnailCA01ENS8.jpgSome of my other favorites include, most notably, JOE GIRARDI, LEE SMITH, DENNIS ECKERSLY, Kenny Lofton, FERGUSON JENKINS, MARK GRACE, Sammy Sosa, Kerry Wood, RICK SUTCLIFFE, LEON DURHAM, KEITH MORELAND, Derek Lee, DAVE KINGMAN, SHAWON DUNSTON, Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano, and Carlos Marmol.   My FAVORITE CUBS’ TEAM was 1984. 
thumbnailCAFW14WS.jpgIt was a season to remember!
thumbnailCAWZTYEX.jpg

Cubs, Soriano, Sink San Diego!

It’s payback time!  In 1984, the Cubs were swept in San Diego after winning the first two games of the NL Championship Series.  Now, the Cubs are exacting sweet revenge as the Padres fall 2 games behind the Giants and with the Braves winning, sink a game and a half behind in the wildcard race.

thumbnailCASX08R9.jpgRyan Dempster struck out 9 and won his 15th game of the year as Alfonso Soriano belted a homerun to break up a tied 2-2 game.
thumbnailCAQH7FY0.jpg  Fonzie added some insurance by hitting his second homerun of the game to make it 5-2. 
thumbnailCAOOZ7K3.jpg Carlos Marmol closed the door for his 36th save.  The Cubs are now 21-11 under Mike Quade who continues to make a strong case for the managerial role next season.

The San Francisco Giants have reduced the magic number to 4 as San Diego keeps slipping, courtesy of the Chicago Cubs.  Consider it payback for 1984!

thumbnailCAEQKDV7.jpgSan Diego finishes the season in San Francisco but it may be too late because the Cubs aren’t done with the Padres just yet.  The Cubs have two more games with San Diego and the revenge owed to the Padres will not be complete until the Cubs have eliminated them completely from the playoffs.  A sweep of San Diego would be oh, so sweet!  Go Cubs Go!

 

Cubs Win Pitching Duel!

The San Diego Padres ran into a brick wall on Monday as Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs came calling.  The playoff contending Padres fall a game back of the Giants for the divisional lead and a half game back behind the Braves in the wildcard race.

Big Z returned to the mound on Monday and pitched seven shut out innings while surrendering only three hits as his mother watched on.  Carlos Zambrano escaped the bases loaded jam in the seventh to earn another win.  Big Z has allowed two runs or less and pitched five innings or more for the tenth straight start, the most such string by a Cubs’ starter since 1920.  It was vintage Zambrano.  Big Z is 7-0, with a 1.07 ERA in his last 9 starts.  Zambrano hasn’t been throwing as hard as he used to but has been effectively mixing up his pitches and keeping hitters off balance.  Whatever he is doing, it’s working.  Big Z is back, and better than ever!

thumbnailCAHAZ47R.jpgThe Cubs would need a quality start from Big Z since the only run of the ballgame came in the top of the seventh when Blake Dewitt lined a single scoring Alfonso Soriano who had reached on a double to left.  The San Diego Padres had solid pitching and solid defense but the Cubs’ pitching staff was even tougher.

Sean Marshall pitched a scoreless eighth.

thumbnailCAOO32DN.jpgCarlos Marmol entered the game in the ninth with a 1-0 lead.  That’s when it got really interesting.  With two outs, Marmol gave up a single and Chase Headley was awarded first base when a pitched bounced between his feet.  The umpire, apparently thought that the pitch had hit Headley.  It did not.  Mike Quade came out of the dugout to argue but to no avail.  There’s no replay in baseball.  Then, Marmol walked Tony Gwynn, Jr. to load the bases and Cubs’ fans were biting their nails at this point.  At least, I was.  Everytime Marmol pitches, there is lots of drama.  The game hangs delicately in the balance, sort of twisting in the wind as it were.

thumbnailCAOOZ7K3.jpgNick Hundly hit a drive to left.  It scared me when he hit it, because I thought it was going to be a grand slam but to my relief, it was caught for the final out. 

Carlos Marmol made his 300th career relief appearance and notched his 35th save of the season. 

The Cubs’ pitchers outdueled one of the best pitching staffs in the majors for the shutout.   The Cubs have come to play in the final week.  Hope it doesn’t SPOIL San Diego’s fun too much.  After all, it’s still payback time.  Remember 1984.  I haven’t forgotten and the Cubs haven’t either!  Go, Cubs, Go!  Let’s do it again tonight!

Cubs Need A Spark!

As the Cubs move forward to next year, Jim Hendry will need to address the need for a lead-off hitter that can hit and steal bases.  More than likely, the Cubs’ GM, Jim Hendry will look into acquiring a player that will spark the Cubs’ offense.  The lead off position is crucial to igniting the rest of the line-up.  The Cubs need a playmaker, someone that will make opposing pitchers nervous, someone with a high on base per centage that can put pressure on the defense.  The Cubs have been lacking such a player ever since Alfonzo Soriano was moved down in the line-up. 
thumbnailCAQH7FY0.jpg Perhaps the missing spark is why the Cubs have struggled this year to get their offense going.  A legitimate lead-off hitter could be the missing piece of the puzzle.  Imagine a Carl Crawford type player leading off with Starlin Castro hitting behind him.  The running game has been lost to the Cubs and too much emphasis on the long ball is at the root of the Cubs’ struggles this year.  Maybe next year will be another story.