Blog Archives

Cubs draft Albert Almora

The Cubs front office has been preaching the importance of the MLB Draft for the past few weeks, and when Theo Epstein took over as President last fall his mandate was that the Cubs will be a consistent winner built from successful drafts and player development.

On Monday night, the Cubs took the first step towards fulfilling that mandate when the Cubs drafted Florida prep outfielder, Albert Almora with the sixth overall pick in the MLB draft.  Long on the Cubs radar as Theo’s scouting department have watched Almora blossom with Team USA, having been named the MVP in the under-18 Pan Am Games this past summer.

When the Cubs were on the clock presumptive top pick Mark Appel, the power pitcher from Stanford, was still on the board and I had wondered if the Cubs had seen enough of the right hander to be swayed from taking their guy Almora in favor of the polished pitcher.

I would have liked to been in the Cubs war room when they were making their pick to see if Appel was considered, or if they had their mind made up when they woke up that morning.  Nevertheless, Almora is a potential All-Star centerfielder with high character and a good feel for the game.

At 6’2’’ and 170 pounds, Almora figures to add some muscle to his frame and fill out as he makes his way through the Cubs minor league ranks and the early comparisons on him are to that of Baltimore Orioles centerfielder, Adam Jones, who has the Orioles battling for AL East supremacy.

Labeled a five-tool player by experts, and possessing a smooth swing and great hand-eye coordination the sinewy outfielder can hit for 25-plus homers while using his incredible instincts and body control to cover a ton of ground in center field. His arm will be a weapon that opposing runners will have to be made aware of before trying to go from first to third on a single or attempting to score from first on a double.

Almora will be the answer to a trivia question years down the road when people ask who about the first player drafted under Theo Epstein’s watch in Chicago.

Now the Cubs will have to face questions from their fans about why they did not take Mark Appel, whom many had pegged going first overall to the Houston Astros.  He went two picks later to the Pittsburgh Pirates, so the Cubs will be reminded often whether or not they made the right decision taking the precocious prep bat versus the polished power pitcher.

Theo Epstein and Cubs fans are hoping the play of Almora makes the decision to draft him sixth overall look like a no-brainer rather than the second coming of Corey Patterson.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt

Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports fan and an avid college football fan, particularly the SEC.  Patrick is the host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com every Wednesday morning from 8-10.  View his show’s website here.

Chicago’s “All-City” Pitching Staff

Matt Garza

Matt Garza (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my blog Friday I wrote about the “All-City Lineup” today I will compile a five man starting rotation and a six man bullpen.

Starters

Ryan Dempster – The number one starter for the team despite not recording a win. Not entirely his fault though as he sports a dazzling 1.74 era and a whip of 0.97. Hitters are hitting a meager .196 off him and carries 4:1 k/BB ratio. The Cubs opening day starter should have four wins on his resume this year if not for absolutely no run support.

Jake Peavy – Reverting to the form he displayed during his Cy Young campaign in 2007 as a member of the San Diego Padres and looking like the pitcher White Sox General Mangers Ken Williams once traded four pitchers for. 4-1 with a 2.65 era and more importantly has gone atleast six innings of seven of his eight starts.

Matt Garza – In his second season as a Cub, Garza has pitched better than his 2-1 record would suggest. His 2.58 era has kept the Cubs in many games while the offense tried to give him some run support. Garza is plagued by the similar anemic offense that has yet to give Dempster much support when he is on the mound, and could easily have twice as many wins as he currently has if not for a lack of support.

Jeff Samardzija – The former All- American wide receiver for Notre Dame has found a home in the starting rotation after working out of the bullpen the last few years. He is tied for the team lead with four wins and strikes out more than one batter per inning with a nifty era of 3.00. His future is bright and is one of the hardest throwing starters in the entire National League.

Chris Sale – Tied for the team lead with Peavy at four and an era under three for the young lefty earns him a spot on the “All-City” staff. While the Sox aren’t sure if he is a starter or a closer, the rotation needed a lefty to round out the staff and Sale gets the nod over Paul Maholm of the Cubs. Sale has a high ceiling if he can stay healthy.

The Bullpen

James Russell and Raphael Dolis – The Cubs have had a great deal of problems finding a reliable arm to turn to in late inning pressure situations, and while each has had their down moments, they also represent the two best the Cubs have to offer. Russell has a 1.06 era and hitters are batting only .208 off of Dolis thus far on the season.

Nate Jones, Jesse Crain, and Matt Thornton- The rookie Jones has been a pleasant surprise to the Sox and his 1.37 era is evident of that. Crain has just nine innings under his belt this season but hitters are hitting below the Mendoza Line off his pitches, so he earns the spot. The final set-up man job goes to Matt Thornton despite his three blown saves out of necessity and the lack of quality arms to choose from.

The Closer

Addison Reed- Young and inexperienced, but has a lot of talent in his arm and has the ability to strike a hitter out which is essential to success as a late inning reliever, especially a closer. Reed is a perfect four for four in save chances this season and could be a good one for a long time on the Southside.

The bullpen on both sides of town has had it’s fair share of turnover, but combined into one super pen, it actually looks pretty solid on paper. Let me know what you think and how yours would look.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt

Patrick is a diehard sports fan and former football player from Chicago. Patrick is a fan of the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks and is an avid college football fan, particularly the SEC. Patrick is the host of “The Wake Up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com every Wednesday morning from 8-10. View his show’s website here.

Baseball’s Civil War in Chicago

For as long as there has been two professional baseball teams playing in Chicago the two sides have despised each other that would make the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s proud.

As the City of broad shoulders prepares for another Civil War between the Cubs and Sox, I have already grown tired of the sophomoric and ignorant stereotypes that both fan bases throw back and forth at each other.

I have often found it humorous for one to be a fan of both teams, and I have yet to wrap my brain around having two favorite teams in any sports. However, is it possible to be a Cubs or Sox fan and not have the urge to throw the same tired insults at the other team, their fans, and their ballpark?

Denigrating one team does not make your team superior, it makes you look foolish.

I am a Cubs fan and support them through good times and bad. In many ways it is a marriage and as many times as I get disappointed or angry with the team, I always come back to them and believe that next year is right around the corner.

I am as loyal as they come concerning the supporting of my team. This is something that many Chicagoans pride themselves on. This trait is what makes Chicago fans the greatest in the world. This is not a biased opinion.

This fact is backed by my viewing Yankee fans boo Derek Jeter, Philadelphia fans boo Santa Claus, Los Angeles fans lose a football franchise on more than one occasion, and countless other cities struggle to fill their stadiums and arenas. Have you seen the empty seats in Miami during Heat games and the thousands of empty seats in Atlanta during the Braves decade of dominance in the ‘90’s?

This series brings out the worst in Chicago fans and a sample of what you will hear in any bar this weekend will go like this:

Cub fan: “The White Sox fans don’t care about their team and that’s why they can’t sell out their stadium.”

Sox fan: “Sox fans are just smarter and we don’t support a bad team unlike Cub fans who just go to Wrigley to get drunk. They don’t even pay attention to the game.”

Cubs fan: “At least our park is a historical monument and full of history and beauty unlike that monstrosity named after a phone company.”

Sox fan: “Well our park is clean and you don’t have to worry about concrete falling on your head or walking a mile to use the bathroom.”

Cubs fan: “No but the umpires and first base coaches need to worry about being assaulted.”

Sox fan: “Well your announcers are awful. All Ron Santo did was moan and groan. He was just a fan in the booth.”

Cubs fan: “Have you heard Hawk Harrelson?!”

Sox fan: “At least we won a World Series.”

Cubs fan: “That’s right; you have now won as many as you’ve thrown in the last 100 years.”

Tell me how many times you have heard this exact conversation?

I am willing to bet the answer is far too many.

My plea for Cubs and Sox fans this weekend is that we all get along. I pray no fights break in or around the stadium. The past few years have seen an increase in hostility, aggression, and drunken belligerence. Let us remember this is the city that brought us affable and players who personified class in guys like Ernie Banks, Luke Appling, Ron Santo, Minnie Minoso, Ryne Sandberg, and the man in the White Sox dugout this weekend, Robin Ventura among many others.

For three days I urge the fans of both sides to represent the best the city has to offer and not act like Albert Belle and Milton Bradley.

I am rooting for three well played competitive games and if the Cubs lose Friday afternoon, you better believe I will have my Cubs gear on for Saturday night’s game under the lights.

You will not see me bashing the White Sox if they beat the Cubs in every game this year, sure I will be disappointed, but more than if the Cardinals came into town and swept the series. That is the team’s real rival. I would think the best White Sox fans would agree in the same vein agree that they are more concerned with gaining ground on Detroit and Cleveland in the standings.

I am concerned about the fans on both allegiances that do not recognize this fact and have a distorted sense of reality. These are the fans that participate in conversations like the one I wrote about earlier and get tossed out of games and bars for engaging in buffoonery.

Both have great fans but it is the clowns to the left and jokers to the right who ruin it for the true fans.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt

Patrick is a diehard sports fan and former football player from Chicago. Patrick has been a fan of the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks from birth and is an avid college football fan, particularly the SEC. Patrick is the host of “The Wake Up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com every Wednesday morning from 8-10. View his show’s website here.

Chicago’s Rookie Managers

After the season both Chicago baseball teams experienced last season a change at the managerial position was a must as the teams hope for a breath of fresh air and a new direction for the 2012 season.

The White Sox traded Ozzie Guillen to the Miami Marlins saying adios to the manager that led the team to its first World Series since 1918.  The outspoken manager wore his welcome out in Chicago after butting heads with General Manager Kenny Williams for the better part of the last three years.

When management declined to offer Ozzie an extension, the two sides agreed to the split that netted the Sox two minor league prospects from the Marlins, the Guillen once served as third base coach during the team’s 2003 World Series winning season.

The White Sox surprised many when they hired former Sox third baseman Robin Ventura who had zero experience coaching or managing on any level in baseball.

The decision to part with the manager and coaching staff from last season’s staff was made for different reasons as the team’s record under Mike Quade sealed the fate of the first year manager.

Finishing with the 6th worst record in Major League Baseball the affable Quade often appeared to be outmatched and in over his head as he struggled to manage the team’s roster.

Quade was particularly stubborn in his refusal to play the younger talent on the roster in favor of struggling veterans conceivably to give him a better record and a higher chance of returning for his sophomore season in the dugout.

The move backfired as Quade was told he would not return after the hiring of new President Theo Epstein who hired Dale Sveum, whom he had as the third base coach in Boston.  Sveum was most recently the hitting coach for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Many Cub fans had clamored for the hiring of former Cub icon and Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg who had climbed the ranks in the Cubs minor league system, having success at every stop.

The hiring of Sveum turned off a plethora of fans fantasizing about seeing “Ryno” in a Cubs uniform again and leading the team to the first World Series win since 1908.  Alas, Cubs fans were urged to believe in Theo and trust his decision making, after all he was the boy genius that ended the Red Sox curse with two titles in a four year span as General Manager of the Boston club.

Two teams in the third largest market in America hiring rookie managers.  Both fan bases surprised and perhaps even a little confused by the hiring of the two men put in charge of leading the teams back to the playoffs.

Ventura fills the shoes of Chicago’s last manager to bring a championship to the city, and will operate without the off the field distractions Guillen brought with him.

Sveum doesn’t have to do too much for Cubs fans to forget the Mike Quade era.  However, the pressure to win for Sveum is immense as the fan base is trying to remain patient under new management albeit with a clenched jaw and pursed lips.

The two managers will face each other in this weekend’s Cross-town classic where they will get a taste of the rivalry from the steps of the dugout.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt

Patrick is a diehard sports fan and former football player from Chicago, the greatest city in the world. The home of deep dish pizza, the greatest skyline in the world, and the best sports fans in America.  Patrick has been a fan of the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks from birth and is an avid college football fan, particularly the SEC.  Patrick is the host of “The Wake Up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com every Wednesday morning from 8-10.  View his show’s website here.  To read more of Patrick’s blogs click here.

Murphy’s Bleachers

The first in a series featuring the sports bars in Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood.

When looking for the perfect pregame refreshment before attending Chicago’s historic Wrigley Field one must look no further than Murphy’s Bleachers.

Conveniently located across the street from the Cubs famed park patrons can visit the establishment for a few refreshing beverages before walking 20 yards across the street to enter the ballpark and head toward your seats in the world’s largest outdoor beer garden in the Wrigley Field bleachers.

With a selection of beers that will make one’s head spin figuratively when perusing the menu, and then literally once you sample the selection. The unofficial pregame meeting spot has long been a Wrigleyville institution as fans adorned in their Cubbie blue t-shirts and baseball caps filled the bar inside and out.

A fan friendly atmosphere greets as you approach the park fans are littered along the corner of Sheffield and Waveland Avenue well before the first pitch on game day. This is the place to hang out for a brew and a burger before the game, but also for the fan that can’t get tickets to the game that want to enjoy the atmosphere and camaraderie of Cubs fans from the area.

Murphy’s offers daily specials, features a new beer every month, showcases local musical talent, hosts private parties, and for a fan experience you cannot find anywhere else, Murphy’s Rooftop Company has seating available to watch a Cubs game high atop the infamous rooftops. For a vision that will surely dazzle the eyes and a view that one can only get from Murphy’s rooftops is the ideal setting for bachelor, graduation, and birthday parties.

When attending a Cubs game at Wrigley be sure to check out all that Murphy’s Bleachers has to offer, and if the Cubs don’t win, drown your sorrows in one of their fine beers, wines, or palatable whiskies.

Murphy’s Bleachers

3655 North Sheffield
Chicago IL 60613

Tel: 773-281-5356

 

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt

Patrick is a diehard sports fan and former football player from Chicago, the greatest city in the world. The home of deep dish pizza, the greatest skyline in the world, and the best sports fans in America. Patrick has been a fan of the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks from birth and is an avid college football fan, particularly the SEC. Patrick is the host of “The Wake Up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com every Wednesday morning from 8-10. View his show’s website here. To read more of Patrick’s blogs click here.

Cubs let one Get Away on Getaway Day

The Cubs lost 4-3 in 10 innings to the Reds in Cincinnati.  The loss in itself is not exactly an earth shattering revelation considering the Cubs came into Thursday’s matinee owners of the fewest wins in the Senior Circuit, tied with the San Diego Padres, with nine victories in 25 games.

However, the fashion in which the Cubs lost is what has many Cubs fans fuming.

The return of starter Ryan Dempster, who was activated off the disabled list prior to the game, along with reliever Kerry Wood, pitched a stellar ball game for eight innings.  In his time on the mound, Dempster gave up just three hits and one walk and didn’t allow a single reds run.

Dempster even got some run support which has been avoiding him like the plague in his starts thus far this season.  The Cubs got solo homeruns from Starlin Castro, first baseman Bryan LaHair, and Geovany Soto staking the Cubs to a 3-0 lead.  Seemingly enough for the Cubs to leave the Queen City with a rare win on a day Dempster was dealing.

Rookie manager Dale Sveum faced the decision of whether to extend Dempster beyond his 101 pitches, in his first start off the DL, or turn the game over to the Cubs closer Carlos Marmol.

Marmol has been shaky this year, well actually shaky may be too nice for a closer with a 6.23 e.r.a. and somehow leads the team in walks with 12 despite only pitching one out shy of a complete game.

Nevertheless, Sveum put the ball in Marmol trusting him to get three outs before he let in three runs.

Marmol allowed each of the four batters he faced to reach base, including issuing three more free passes.

Raphael Dolis, a closer for AAA Iowa last year came in to put a tourniquet on the bleeding, and induced a Reds double play, however the tying run scored and the Reds forced the game into extra innings.

Another blown save for Marmol and Ryan Dempster gets a no decision after his eight shutout innings of work.

Dempster is still without a win on the year despite possessing an e.r.a of 0.95.  What else can he do?

At the time I think Sveum made the correct call getting Dempster out after 101 pitches.  He was after all making his first start off the disabled list, and Marmol pitched a perfect ninth in Wednesday’s win.

Any goodwill Marmol earned after his Wednesday outing was quickly forgotten after his meltdown on the mound Thursday afternoon where even if you gave him a map, gps, and a navigator, he couldn’t find the strike zone.

Sveum has opened himself to second guessing after this game and will have to address questions about why he took Dempster out and if he has to find a new closer after another blown save.

My prediction is Marmol will still be the Cubs closer going forward, he is getting paid too much not to be, and no viable options are on the roster to replace him, unless you include Kerry Wood who was also activated off the DL prior to the game.

Can Dolis close in the interim and give Marmol a day off if the Cubs find themselves in a save situation over the weekend vs. the Dodgers?

I think that is the smart move.

Marmol needs a mental day off and while the old saying is that closers need to have a quick memory and get over blown saves and get right back on the horse, in this situation, I believe the Cubs and Marmol are best served seeing what Dolis can do, at least temporarily until Marmol finds the form that once made him one of the nastiest closers in the National League.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt

Patrick is a diehard sports fan and former football player from Chicago, the greatest city in the world. The home of deep dish pizza, the greatest skyline in the world, and the best sports fans in America.  Patrick has been a fan of the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks since birth and is an avid college football fan, particularly the SEC.  Patrick is the host of “The Wake Up Call”, a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com every Wednesday morning from 8-10.  View his show’s website here

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