Only two catchers’ from the June top five list have remained into July. One of them moved up to number one and the other is almost off the list falling to number five. The three new entries come as a little bit of a surprise since one of them is just filling in for an injured starter. I’m sure by next month this list will change once again. 4. Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs: Soto, one of the newcomers to the top five, is having a rebound year after struggling in 2009. Soto’s average is currently 75 points higher than his final average at the end of the season last year. After starting off slow in the beginning of this season, Soto is now considered the fourth best catcher in baseball as of July. Soto has 12 home runs, 33 RBI’s and a .293 average. Just like Mauer, Soto doesn’t have great production numbers, but he does have a high average whic is a big advantage compared to other catchers. The Cubs are floundering this season, currently 10.5 games out of first in their division. On top of that Lou Pinella just announced that he will be retiring at the end of the season, which means he has pretty much had enough of the Cubs and their losing ways. Pinella is already giving up and it will be hard for his team to not do the [...]
One thing is true about Opening Day in baseball: It’s a lot easier to jump to conclusions about a team than it is to draw them after one game. But such is the nature of Opening Day.
If the Cubs had lost 16-5 in the middle of July instead of Monday, not a lot would have been said.
But because it was Opening Day, with all of Chicago media at Turner Field and fans starving for games that count, the result drew swift and heated reaction.
On the Daily Herald’s baseball blog, Chicago’s Inside Pitch, suggestions included:
• Offering pitchers Carlos Zambrano and Carlos Marmol in trades.
• Discussing third baseman Aramis Ramirez’ opt-out clause in his contract.
• Talking about the possibility of trading first baseman Derrek Lee if the Cubs are out of the [...]
Lockers were being cleaned out and boxes were being filled with belongings as the Chicago Cubs hurried to get out of town at the end of a disappointing season. “It’s a little weird to be packing up and heading home, because the last couple of years we’ve been still playing,” said Ryan Dempster, the losing pitcher Sunday as the Arizona Diamondbacks ended the year with a 5-2 victory.
Dempster, who won 17 games last season, gave up five runs and six hits in five innings, struck out 10 and walked one.
“I think a lot of us wish we had a little bit better year than we did,” he [...]
Tyler Colvin’s parents will be staying up late this weekend.
The young outfielder is expected to get a lot of playing time in the Cubs’ final 11 games, beginning with a four-game series in San Francisco that starts Thursday. Colvin’s family lives in South Carolina, so the time difference might be a little bit of a problem.
Colvin, called up after Double-A Tennessee finished the Southern League championship, made his Major League debut Monday against Milwaukee. His folks also may be shopping for a new computer.
“They were excited,” Colvin said of his parents. “They got to watch [Monday's game] on the computer. They stayed with it the whole game. They were a little disappointed [Tuesday] — the computer shut down in the ninth [...]
Kevin Gregg will spend the final two weeks of the regular season marketing himself as a potential closer. His chances of keeping that job with the Cubs are slim.
Gregg is one of four free agents on the Cubs. He lost the closer’s job on Aug. 18, but he hasn’t been banished to the last spot in the bullpen. Last Tuesday against the Milwaukee Brewers, Lou Piniella called on Gregg to face Corey Hart, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. On Friday against St. Louis, Gregg came in with one on and two outs in the eighth of a tie game to face Albert Pujols. That’s not an easy task.
“I think he’s the greatest hitter in the game, hands down,” Gregg said of the Cardinals’ slugger. “Coming in with a guy on, having to face him late in the game, tight situation — you’ve got to make your pitches, you’ve got to do your thing. He’s good. That’s the bottom [...]
Cubs manager Lou Piniella’s preseason expectations for his defense weren’t lofty. Still, the Cubs have not met those expectations.
“Leaving Spring Training, I didn’t expect to lead the league in fielding, believe me,” Piniella said. “But I expected us to be at least in the middle, possibly a notch above there. But we’ve been in the bottom tier for a good portion of the year, and that makes it rough on the pitching.”
Going into Thursday’s series finale against the Brewers, the Cubs are in the bottom three in the National League in both errors and fielding percentage. The team hasn’t fared much better according to an advanced statistic called Ultimate Zone Rating, which indicates that the Cubs are about 14 runs below average on defense this season. That mark is 12th in the NL. [...]
Lou Piniella has not talked about next season with the Cubs’ front office. Once he does, the discussion will center on one issue. “We’ve got to figure out a way to get back up close to the number of runs we scored last year,” Piniella said.
Heading into Monday’s series opener against the Brewers, the Cubs are on pace to score about 140 fewer runs in 2009 than they did in 2008. Piniella believes the culprit is the fifth spot in the lineup.
“That’s a spot that needs to be solved this winter more than anything else,” he said. “It’s been a big problem for [...]
Alfonso Soriano will have arthroscopic surgery Tuesday on his ailing left knee and miss the rest of the season.
The Cubs’ left fielder has fought through pain and inflammation in the joint for much of the season and last played Sept. 3. He will finish the year with a .241 batting average, 20 home runs and 55 RBIs.
Team orthopedist Dr. Stephen Gryzlo will perform the surgery to clean out the knee, and Soriano will then have three weeks to rehab with the Cubs’ training staff before he goes home to the Dominican Republic for the [...]
Carlos Zambrano’s back injury might be behind him, but the Cubs diagnosed another problem after this second consecutive bad outing since coming off the disabled list. Zambrano gave up four runs and a season-high 11 hits in 3 1/3 innings in the Cubs’ 4-1 loss to the New York Mets on Sunday at Wrigley Field. Three of the runs were earned, but the unearned run came after an errant pick-off throw by Zambrano in the third.
The Cubs’ believe Zambrano’s latest problem is mechanical.
”[Pitching coach] Larry Rothschild says he’s opening up his front shoulder and they’re getting a good look at him,” manager Lou Piniella said. ”He’ll have to work on it.”
In his first start back Tuesday, Zambrano allowed a season-high eight runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Washington [...]
Alfonso Soriano was scratched from Tuesday’s game because of a sore knee that’s been nagging him for four months, but the Cubs left fielder will hold off on getting an MRI to see if he responds to treatment.
Soriano was examined during Tuesday’s game, a 15-6 loss to the Washington Nationals, by the team’s medical staff.
“[The doctor] thinks it’s nothing big,” Soriano said after the game. “He said if I keep playing, and I have a sore knee, we’ll do an MRI. I know I want to do it anyway, but he said if I play tomorrow or Thursday and it’s sore, we’ll do it right away.” [...]