Cubs Treat Castro Like a Starlin

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs were one out away from winning the ballgame. It was a game celebrating the contributions of Starlin Castro and the presentation of the rings to Aroldis Chapman and Adam Warren but like I said, the Cubs were one out away from sealing the deal. Instead, the Cubs lost in the ninth to the Yankees 3-2 off a home run by Brett Gardner.

“We were short in the bullpen,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “That was [Rondon’s] game. From the side, it looked like really good stuff. It’s an unfortunate choice where he threw it. That’s probably the only pitch that Gardner could’ve hit out, and we gave it to him, and that’s what happens in our game sometimes. Otherwise, I thought he had a good fastball and made some good pitches.”

If there ever was a game that got away from the Cubs, it was yesterday afternoon’s heartbreaker. Kyle Hendricks pitched a beauty of a game going scoreless after five innings. It was the kind of game Hendricks needed in order to get back on track after a slow April lowering his ERA to 3.51

On the other side of the ball, Jason Heyward turned a couple of double plays in the first inning and the sixth inning. Heyward is one of the elite players in the league with the glove.

“You try to do what you can,” Heyward said. “You try to be in the right spot at the right time, and expect the worst out there.”

But the day belonged to Starlin Castro. A standing ovation and a chance to honour the shortstop that ushered in the new generation of Cubs players. Sure, he might not have won the World Series with the club, but his contributions (sometimes gaffes) cannot be denied.

“I think it’s a really emotional day for me to come back here, to play against the team that gave me my first opportunity to be a baseball player,” Castro said. “I feel happy to get here and compete against them.”

Castro has blossomed with the Yankees. That makes me feel good because I remember that home run he got at his first At Bat all those years ago. He’s a true example of a player that just didn’t fit into a team’s plans.

“I’m a big Starlin fan and really enjoyed our time together,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I was really impressed with him based on how he was so accountable. I love that in any player, any human being. When we took him out of the shortstop role without any specifics, he didn’t cry, didn’t blame anybody.”

Not putting the blame on anybody has put Starlin Castro in a tie with Mike Trout for most hits in the American League.

Believe it

 

Russell Rattles Reds in Cubs Home Opener

Addison Russell

Chalk another Opening Day into the history books. The Chicago Cubs came from behind to demolish the Cincinnati Reds with a score of 5-3 and Cubs fans across the States and Canada including Cubs fanatic Raymond Monckton from Toronto rejoiced in the team’s first Opening Day victory in five years.

The Cubs almost resembled the Mudville Nine if it weren’t for the with inning heroics of budding superstar Addison Russell  sent a torpedo  leather wrapped sphere into the crowd for a souvenir.  After the three run home run, the Cubs went up 5-3 and never looked back.

#NeverLookBack

Yeah, I kind of like that for this season.

“I was just smiling, and trying to soak it in as much as I could, and trying to round the bases slow,” Russell said. “My heart was beating a lot. Once I stepped on the plate, it was an awesome feeling to see Jorge Soler and Ben Zobrist there. It was a great game for all of us tonight.”

What was just as impressive as the game was the crowd. It was playoff atmosphere clinging to every play and every foul tip.

Deafening.

Rightfully so. The fans have waited a long time for the Cubs to be this dominant. They know the players and wouldn’t settle for any mediocrity. No way. It is arguable that this is the most anticipated Cubs season in history.

The festivities were poignant after tributes to departed teammate Starlin Castro who was traded to the New York Yankees such as Anthony Rizzo deciding to use his walk up music “Ando en la Versace” by Omega much to the delight of the 40 000 fans.

“He’s been part of this organization for a long time,” Rizzo said. “He taught me a lot, how to be a big leaguer. Trading him was tough for a lot of us. To get the crowd excited like that was pretty cool.”

There was also standing ovation for Kyle Schwarber as he was introduced. He had a season ending injury so it was fitting that the team place his home run ball from last year’s NLDS  back on top of the Bud Board.

But the night was Russell’s. For this 22 year old to hit an Opening Night home run and undeniably christen the 2016 Major League Baseball season at Wrigley Field was nothing short of spectacular.

“To be able to take a walk, power a ball into the left-field stands, his whole game is going to keep improving because he’s strong and he cares and he works pretty hard,” Joe Maddon said. “Just appreciate that he’s only 22 and what he’s doing now.”

Then it’s only fitting that this 22 year old shine so bright in the hyped season of the Chicago Cubs.

Believe it.

 

Cubs Opening Day. Believe it.

 

Opening Day

This is it. Tonight marks the beginning of the most anticipated Chicago Cubs season in quite sometime. Last season’s Cy Young winner, Jake Arrieta takes to the mound against Garrett Richards and the Los Angeles Angeles.

Spring Training is done and everyone is excited to get things going. Yesterday’s few games were a tease of the Opening Day, but today, man take your pick on what game to watch.

“Here in Chicago, the only difference is everybody’s hungry,” Jason Heyward said. “The fans are hungry. They’re excited. They have a good team on the field, but we all understand as players that it can look good on paper, but you have to go play the game and put the work in.”

He’s such a newbie.

Think about it this way, It was my great grandfather that might have had the opportunity to read the newspaper and witness a World Series Championship from the Chicago Cubs. Yeah, Wrigley Field is going to be amazing this year.

“Why would you want to go to where there’s 10,000 strong in the ballpark where you’re predicted to finish last? I’ve been there — it’s no fun,” Maddon said. “I’d much rather a raucous crazy ballpark, great fan base and try to live up to those [expectations], not just because you’re trying to satisfy anybody’s urges, but it’s because Major League players are professional and your goal is to win and that’s what you want to do. If your motivation comes from the outside in, it’s not going to work. The motivation has to come from within.”

I just wish that the Cubs weren’t playing the Angels tonight. Tomorrow’s going to be a rough day at work but it’ll be worth it. This season will be something special even if they don’t go all the way.

Why?

Because we know they’ll be good. They’ll send shivers down the spines of all who walk into those hallowed grounds of Wrigley Field. This is the first season in a while where the Chicago Cubs are feared. No more “Lovable Losers” this year, they’re winners.

Every player on the team wants to end the drought and this year they have the tools to do it.

“That’s exciting to me,”  Illinois native Ben Zobrist said. “That’s one of the biggest challenges that brought me here. For me, that’s what’s a little bit different this year. I get to play for my home state team trying to chase a championship here.”

There’s a lot more to it than that Ben, but he’s right in that the attitude this season is different. No more Alfonso Soriano or Carlos Zambrano. Hell, even Starlin Castro frustrated everyone no matter those flash in the pan days he may of had. Naw, this season has the ere’ of being our team. The kind of team that would have made Ron Santo scream from his perch or Ernie Banks want to play three.

Believe it.

A Long Warm Winter For Chicago Cubs

Starlin Castro

I have to admit, it’s going to be an awfully long winter. Sure, El Nino predicts it’s going to be an unusually warm off season and that will help with the baseball starved fans around North America but for Chicago Cubs fans it’s going to be long. The World Series has barely thrown out the first pitch and suddenly there’s rumblings of David Price heading to the North Side. Whether or not that happens, the bottom line is the Cubs need one more pitcher for 2016. In a three game series during the year, every team needs three “Lights Out” starters in their rotation. The Cubs have two.

“I would love to have our entire position group back,” Theo Epstein said the day after the season ended. “I think the competition is good, the depth is great, the redundancy is important, and it’s a significant competitive advantage to have a solution at the ready if something goes wrong. It’s a competitive advantage to make out a lineup tailored for that night’s opposing pitcher. It’s a huge advantage.”

In today’s baseball, that rarely happens. Suddenly, Kyle Schwarber’s name has been tossed around as potential trade bait in order to land that big pitching acquisition. What? Trade the guy who brought you to the post season? He practically carried the team on his back until the New York Mets showed up.

No, the one player that should and will likely be missing in 2016 is Starlin Castro. Sure, he put on the afterburners in the final months but the Cubs have Javier Baez and Addison Russell in the mix. For every good month Starlin has, there’s four months of futility for the veteran shortstop.

The Cubs need that third pitcher to bolster the rotation. Whether that’s David Price, Jordan Zimmermann or James Shields, it’s that one last piece to the championship.

“The lesson to be learned here now is that they’ve learned how to win this season,” Joe Maddon said. “They’ve learned how to win at the Major League level. They were participating in the playoffs, with only four teams left, which is pretty impressive at their point of development. For me, at this point, it’s been one big positive.”

We couldn’t wait for the 2015 season to get here, well now that we know what these Chicago Cubs can do, maybe El Nino should be their third pitcher.

Believe it.

Cubs Will have A Busy Off Season

Thank you

It’s hard to tell whether this will be a celebration or a mourning period for our North Side heroes. There’s a lot of positives to take away from this season but let’s face it, there will be some holes to plug in the off season. There’s pitching.

“Once you reach a point where you have a pretty good team, you approach the offseason in two ways,” Theo Epstein said. “One is looking for ways to get better. And the second is trying to anticipate everything that could go wrong that will get in the way of you being really good again the next year or even better the next year.”

In a five man rotation, the Cubs have two solid starters in Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta. This we know and they’re not going anywhere. However, Jason Hammel, Kyle Hendricks and Dan Haren weren’t exactly “Lights out” material.

“Some good things are happening with the pitching,” Epstein said of the organization, “but we have to continue to be aggressive and add as we did last winter.”

Dan Haren will more than likely be moving on, but what to do with Hammel and Hendricks? The way I look at and it’s based on logic and logic alone is the Cubs had two pitchers who can do lights out magic on any given day. In order to sweep a season series, a team needs at least three victories so a team needs three aces on the roster. The Cubs lacked that in 2015. Hammer and Hendricks weren’t terrible but they struggled. I hear Zack Greinke will be available but at what cost?

Aside from pitching, there’s a lot of players that will either get a raise or be shuffled along like Dexter Fowler. The Cubs will decide his fate. Of course I’d like to see him stay with the team but if the Cubs are going to land a high priced ace, they’ll have to part ways with Fowler.

The Starlin Castro saga will continue. Javier Baez could fill that role and Addison Russell will be back. Starlin redeemed himself in September but still, the Cubs’ depth in the infield is staggering and I think won’t be back.

Whatever the Cubs choose, we know that 2016 is going to get even better.

How would you improve the team?

Believe it.

Cubs Regroup For Game Two Of NLCS After Tough Loss To Mets

NLCS

It’s quite exciting to see Chicago Cubs players wearing balaclavas at this time of the season. At least, it took me a couple of innings to get used to the idea that they were playing in the middle of October. Usually we see them wearing those things and we get excited because baseball is back and it’s April ball in Chicago.

Last night was game 1 of the NLCS. The New York Mets defeated the Cubs 4-2 in front of a chilly crowd at Citi Field. It’s not that the Cubs didn’t play well, but Mets pitcher Matt Harvey just was brilliant.

“It’s just one game,” Cubs rookie Kyle Schwarber said. “We’ve got possibly six more games to play. We’ve got to move past it. We’re not hanging our heads. We lost. We know we lost. Time to move forward tomorrow and play our ballgame.”

He’s right. This isn’t a one game loser go home Wild Card nor is it a five game series. This is the big time seven games.

Jon Lester had a good night as well and he might get another crack at the Metropolitans on Thursday.

“Go back to work tomorrow,” Lester said. “That’s all that I can do. Obviously it [stinks] and I hate to lose, but you can’t sit here and dwell on it and beat yourself up about it. We have plenty of other chances to come back. This is just one game. We just have to come back and fight. Hopefully we can leave New York with the series tied, 1-1.”

There was a scary moment in the game when Cubs’ 1st baseman Anthony Rizzo was dinged on the hand while reclaiming first base. The Chicago Cubs’ big 1st baseman shook it off and continued.

I have one criticism of the Cubs last night. Sending Starlin Castro home. He was thrown out at the plate by Yoenis Cespedes, who quite possibly has the strongest arm in the majors from left field. He threw a rocket to put Castro out at home. If I were the Cubs, I’d be a little careful tonight.

“You could say possibly not send the runner,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, “but we did, and it was just a good baseball play on their part. There’s different things you could possibly do, but Jonesy (Cub’s third base coach) has been aggressive all year.  He’s been a great third-base coach all year and I never second-guess him.”

Tonight, Jake Arrieta gets the ball and fans will all tune in to see what kind of magic he can pull out of his stoic frame. It’s only game two but sealing a victory in New York with the Cubs’ potential Cy Young candidate will only give the team the confidence they need to move forward in the NLCS.

Believe it

Cubs Have Something In Common With Keith Richards As They Hope To Fly The W

Chicago Cubs

This is the big day, the moment has arrived. Tonight, the Chicago Cubs play the Pittsburgh Pirates in a one game showdown(Which I’d prefer a three game matchup, but that’s another post).

As was mentioned in my post yesterday, most experts are predicting a Cubs victory over the Bucs. So, let’s discuss why they’ll win.

The Cubs have versatility. They’ve got players like Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant who can play a variety of positions. It’s that depth.

“I love the fact that we are so versatile,”Joe Maddon said. “I love that young players are not just stuck in one position.”

Tonight’s game is taylor made for the Cubs young rookies. Why? The uniqueness of the Cubs is that their young players don’t always play like young players. Kris Bryant most times performs like a veteran and let’s not forget that Kyle Schwarber is just a reincarnated Babe Ruth. The “Sultan of Schwarb”

Tonight it’s all about pitching. Jake Arrieta and Gerrit Cole are masters of the game. A low scoring slugfest is what it’s going to be tonight.

So, I was recently listening to Keith Richard’s awesome new record, ‘Crosseyed Heart and it got me to thinking how similar the Cubs are to the man.

  1. They’re both over 100 years old
  2. They’re making a comeback of sorts. Keith’s first cd in 23 years and the Cubs first post season appearance since 2008
  3. Both are receiving great reviews for their work.

Ok, that’s pretty much it. Maybe it was just a plug for Keith Richards. Anyway, I thought about it.

The thing is that tonight’s game is probably the most analyzed Cubs game in over ten years. How do you hit against Arrieta? Will Kris Bryant be the hero? Oh wait, there’s Addison Russell(who I’m expecting to have a huge game!)

“It’s going to come down to executing,” Arrieta said, “trying to keep guys off balance and disrupting timing. That’s something you can do regardless of how many times you face a lineup or face certain hitters.”

Tonight is destiny. Tonight the Cubs begin a journey that will potentially end a World Series drought. There’s an opportunity to end so called curses and tonight will be a showcase for all the young talent the Cubs have to offer.

Are they America’s team? Maybe.

Should the Cubs lose tonight, it could confirm the curse and it’ll extend a drought but one thing is for certain and that they won’t be a disappointment. They weren’t just a good team, they competed right to the final day of the season.

My son started hockey this year. In the dressing room while we were lacing up his skates, the coach was tossing out sweaters and he asked,”Who wants number 13?”

I whispered to my son,”You know who’s number that is? Starlin Castro”

My son smiled and pulled the sweater over his hockey gear.

You see folks, this could be a sign. New beginnings and a lucky 13

Fly The W

Believe it