Tag Archives: Chicago Cubs

Pushing The Right Buttons

If you know me, I have grown up a die hard Cubs fan. I eat, sleep, read, and dream about the team constantly. Having watched this team through the tough times and the countless 90 to 100 loss seasons, seeing the Cubbies go to three straight National League Championship Series makes me realize that this is the “golden age” of Cubs baseball.

So on the night of Thursday October 12th I watched easily one of the most stressful Cubs games ever. (Besides game 7 of the World Series) While watching it there were some questionable moves by manager Joe Maddon that had me wondering, “is that the right thing to do in this situation?” Of course, Joe gets paid the big bucks to make these decisions, and despite winning the World Series and leading the Cubs to their third straight postseason, it’s easy to look at the manager and think that every move he makes is a crucial one.

I don’t know how he does it, but he’s been lucky.

Heading into game 4 against the Nationals, I never questioned Maddon’s pitching changes or decisions to remove a starting pitcher from a game. It wasn’t until midway through game 4 I started to question a few moves made by the Cubs skipper. The first decision I question was taking out Jon Lester.

Lester came out of the bullpen and helped keep the Nationals at 1 run which occurred on an infield hit to shortstop Addison Russell. Joe decided to remove Lester to go to reliever Carl Edwards Jr who had a nice bounce back appearance in game 3 after surrendering the game tying home run in game two. Lester didn’t throw a lot of pitches and besides the walk and 1 hit, could’ve easily finished that 8th inning. Joe took out Lester brought in Edwards who walked two batters, then after throwing 1 pitch to Michael Taylor. Joe decided then he’d seen enough and brought in closer Wade Davis who then allowed the grand slam that broke the game open.

Now granted, it is fair to say this all was a bad decision in hindsight, but let me tell you why it was a bad move to begin with. Before game 4, the Cubs used only relievers Carl Edwards Jr, Mike Montgomery, Pedro Strop, and closer Wade Davis. He still had Justin Wilson, John Lackey, and Brian Dunning in the bullpen who had yet to make an appearance. So why bring in one of your starting pitchers, and use him in a game that if you had lost wouldn’t have ended the series. Not to mention if you did come back and win the game, he wouldn’t be able to go in the following series until game 3 at the latest. Even still, since the team lost in game 4 with a final score of 5-0 the team going back on the road one “reliever” unavailable in Jon Lester.

Joe Maddon is a successful manager, and has turned around the Cubs organization from top to bottom. Despite the success he and the team has had, his decision making when it comes down to the wire are going to be talked about on a night in night out basis. Even if the move he makes is the right one. Although it’s the ones like bringing in Aroldis Chapman in a pointless time in game 6 of the world series and bringing in Jon Lester during game 4 of the NLDS this year that makes you wonder if the pressure of the playoffs get to even the most successful managers a team has ever had.

You can listen to Curtis Koch every Monday night from 7-8 on 88.1 FM WCRX on “He and She”. You can also follow him on Twitter @CurtisK_Radio. 

Musical Chairs on the North Side

kris bryant

 

By Joseph George

The Chicago Cubs made great strides this year with a record of 73-89.  With  that improvement came the arrival of some big name prospects. Jorge Soler, Javy Baez and Arismendy Alcantara all joined the North Siders in 2014 and the Cubs are still loaded with prospects Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora, Addison Russell and Billy Mckinney. Unfortunately it’s impossible for the north siders to carry all of these prospects on one roster. Eventually, some of these prospects will be traded away.

 

In my opinion, the players that should pack their bags are outfielder Albert Almora and infielder Arismendy Alcantara.  Speaking of players packing their bags,  Bleachernation recently reported that the Cubs are looking to move shortstop Starlin Castro.  That is a terrible idea! Castro is on pace to be a Hall of Famer. In fact, he already has 847 hits in his first five seasons and to put things into perspective Pete Rose had 899 hits in his first five seasons.  Castro should be moved to third base following in the footsteps of great shortstops turned third basemen like Cal Ripken, Jr. and Alex Rodriguez.  His moving to third would leave

the shortstop position open for top prospect Addison Russell. Current third baseman Kris Bryant would then become the starting left fielder. Bryant hit 43 home runs in the minors this year and provides pure power from the corner outfield spot. This brings us back to Almora and Alcantara. Both have tremendous potential but somebody has to go. Every MLB team could use a guy like Arismendy Alcantara as a starter or super utility man because he can play both the infield and the outfield. Albert Almora is one of those guys that will get traded with regret at a later date when he starts to perform for another team. Unfortunately, the Cubs don’t have room for him even though he has much more ability than Billy McKinney. Eventually Almora will probably be packaged for a top pitcher. He did have a terrible 2014 hitting a bleak .234 but he is still one of baseball’s top prospects. With a  trade package of Almora and Alcantara, the Cubs would be in perfect contention to trade for a top 5 pitcher and continue on the road to consistency on the north side.

Joseph George hosts “The Locker Room” along side Miguel Flores and Shane Riordan every Wednesday 7p-9p CT on WCRXFM.COM and 88.1FM and the tune in app (search WCRX).

Baseball is dead

indexSpring training is over and the baseball season is just getting underway. The beginning of the MLB season can be exciting. It means warm weather is looming and the NHL and NBA playoffs are right around the corner however,  there’s one catch.  The Cubs and Sox can make you quite miserable the few times that you decide  to pay attention to what the teams are doing.

The Cubs are predicted to have the worst record in the league while the Sox probably won’t have much more success. The summer fans of the cross-town rivals will argue over who sucks less and who will bounce back stronger in 2015 and I don’t want to hear it.

So when my co-host, Eddie Saldana, suggested we dedicate a fourth of our show to preview an even bleaker season than the last, I had to object. Because baseball is important to Chicago and fans in this city and secretly they enjoy torturing themselves, we will include baseball at the bare minimum.

The Cubs have been rebuilding for next year since I can remember and it seems like White Sox fans are not ready to let go of the 2005 World Series.

These are some issues I’d like to address on the Benchwarmers, when it comes to baseball. I want to know the psychological reasoning behind a fan’s loyalty. Cubs fans, when will you give up on Theo Epstein? South Siders, your title was nearly a decade ago… when will it be time to move on and admit both sides suck?

Until  Eddie and I book a psychologist to discuss these issues, we are stuck talking about players that the casual fan will shrug at, hoping one day the big league club calls him up to be the savior and bring Chicago another World Series.

I am not ashamed to say I could care less about the minor leagues and the prospects the Cubs or the Sox might have. I am not interested in who has a possibility of contributing to a consistent winner but unfortunately my dear friend Eddy disagrees.

Baseball is no longer America’s game in my opinion. Americans live a fast paced life. Very rarely does anyone have enough time to sit and enjoy a three-hour baseball game.

The 24-hour news cycle has changed us and the fact that baseball in Chicago is so dismal, doesn’t help the cause.

The real problem with baseball is that it doesn’t resemble the baseball I remember growing up in Chicago.  Games were fun to go to and I dreamed for extra innings.

Before things changed for the worst, there were home run races between Slammin’ Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire. Those were the days that wins and losses didn’t matter to me. More recently, Chicago had a passionate pitcher by the name of Carlos Zambrano, who made watching baseball intriguing. You never knew when the guy was going to erupt.

Yes, the Cubs have up and coming players and the Sox still have Paul Konerko, but neither team has an athlete or figure that could fill up the stands.

Now, because the game is so hard to bare, after the third inning I’m begging for rain, thunder and lightning.  Until the Cubs can put a winning product on the field I will continue to bash the game that very few are trying so desperately to hang onto.

Nader Ihmoud is a co-host on The Benchwarmers Show every Monday night 7-9 p.m, the Media Relations Editor at The Columbia Chronicle and a reporter for Metro Minutes News. You can also ready his weekly column, Ihmoud’s Moods, in The Columbia Chronicle or at http://www.columbiachronicle.com/sports/column/ and visit his professional website at Naderihmoud.virb.com