Tagged: Pena

When It Rains It Pours

Can we schedule a rain delay more often?

After a long rain delay, the Cubs offense caught on fire. Finally. And even got a few (lots) of hits with men in scoring position. 7-for-13 with RISP? Can I get a Hallelujah?

Enough runs to survive another rocky bullpen outing. Production from the entire lineup. Garza survived the rain to pitch very well. Castro returned from his mini-vacation. Pena remembered that not all at-bats must end in a HR, K or BB. It’s fine to hit a single or double every once in a while. Especially with men on base. Quade didn’t try to get just one more inning out of a starter, and allowed the relief pitcher to start a fresh inning.

Hallelujah. A Good Day At Wrigley.

Oh, and I promised not to talk about the future plans of He Who Shall Not Be Named until the season is over. You’re welcome.

If the Cubs bats don’t look hot again today, I’ll be the guy standing on the roof at Wrigley, dumping buckets of water on the home plate umpire.

The sun’ll come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun!
But can we have rain again today?

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All Games Are Not Created Equally

After yesterday’s absolutely, atrociously ugly affair (by both teams), the Cubs get a huge win today against the class of the division, the Cincinnati Reds. This was a game the Cubs needed, and needed badly. And it didn’t look good for a while…

Coleman gave an outstanding start against the always tough Arroyo… and Quade gave it all right back trying to squeeze that extra inning out of a tiring starter. I love ya Q, but it is far easier for a relief pitcher to start a fresh inning, than come in with two men on base and no outs. Stop it. Stop it now. He wasn’t breezing through the game. He was running on fumes. Just Stop it Now.

Welcome to the lineup Blake DeWitt! A homerun and the game winning run in the 9th probably earned you some more playing time.

Today’s Cubbie Occurrence was when the apparent game winning hit by Baker bounced over the wall in CF – for a ground rule double – holding the game winning run to third. From ecstatic cheers to oh, my god I hope the Reds don’t win the game after that in 10 seconds. But that only lasted long enough for everyone’s favorite Japanese import Fukudome to win the game five pitches later.

But, today’s man, myth and legend is the much maligned Mr. Carlos Pena. He has obviously finally read the top-secret internal memo: If you want to hit a homerun with the wind blowing in at Wrigley – stop hitting it 500 ft straight up. The wind will eat that alive. Line Drives please and thank you. Huge Clutch Hit.

We can’t realistically say that the Cubs are contenders… yet. So this was just another divisional game for the extremely talented Reds. They are very, very good.

But this was far more important to the Cubs – a huge, emotional win to get them rolling on a very tough homestand. These are the kinds of wins that CAN jump start a team. Cross your fingers.

cubs-win-flag.jpg

Is it tomorrow yet?

Cancel the APB – Dempster and Pena have been found

Cancel the APB. End the CPD stakeout of Dempsters home in Wrigleyville – that “Pinella’s Pizza” truck wasn’t fooling anyone anyway. Contact the Illinois National Guard. Alert the Special Agent in Charge. The search is over.

Cancel their AWOL status.
Ryan Dempster and Carlos Pena have finally reported for the 2011 baseball season.

It’s unfortunate that they were unable – for personal reasons – to join the team on April 1st, but we are very excited for their arrival.

Dempster turned in his first quality start of the season (after a 9.58 ERA in April).
Pena hit his first homerun of his Cubs career (and ended a dismal 3-37 stretch).
Castro is on the cover of SI.
Barney is the NL Rookie of the Month.
Cashner may be pitching to real, honest-to-goodness hitters in Arizona by next week.
Wells may not be far behind.

Dempster and Pena are not only important pieces for this team, they are important leaders of this team. And it’s hard to lead effectively when your own house isn’t in order. Hopefully, this is that elusive spark the Cubs need to achieve escape velocity from the muddy pool of mediocrity.

Oh, and the Cubs win!
We’re #5! We’re #5!
One step at a time.

Good Riddance to Alarming April, Welcome to Marvelous May

It’s time to recap April, locate those kernels of hope, drink the blue kool-aid and look forward to May! Woooooooo! May!

After a rough start, the Cardinals promenaded their way back to the top of the division, with the rest of the teams mired in the mud within a few games of the .500 Reds. The Cubs? Right about where most people expected them to be. I was hoping for better, but there are plenty of reasons why a 12-14 record in April is exciting…

  • The Starting Pitching has not been good. Not good at all.

What was hoped to be a strength struggled through the monsoons of April, the injuries to Cash and Wells, and the disappearance of Dempster. The Cubs rank dead last in the NL in quality starts (it’s not even close), team ERA, and walks issued. Garza and Big Z have 7 of the 8 quality starts. The Cubs still managed to win 12 games.

  • The Bullpen was a little bit Dr. Jeckyll and a little bit Mr. Hyde.

Marmol, Marshall and Wood have been very, very good. Samardzija has been shockingly useful. It’s almost as if he realized this is the last year the Cubs are going to be paying him. The rest have been up and down and up and down. Although, with even a little bit of starting pitching, the Cubs won’t depend on them nearly as much. Despite the ups and downs, and the fan-favorite All-Bullpen Days, the Cubs still won 12 games.

  • The Offense has mainly consisted of Castro, Barney and Soriano.

Zambrano is tied for THIRD on the team in homeruns with 1. Soriano has almost as many homeruns as the REST OF THE TEAM COMBINED (10 of 21 total). Barney has more RBI than Ramirez (14 – 11). Pena is SOMEHOW hitting worse than last year. Unsurprisingly, the Cubs are 12th in the NL in runs scored. The Cubs still won 12 games.

  • The Cubs do not lead the league in Antidefense, but they’re close.

Not every Cub feat of antidefense shows up in the errors column. Thankfully. There have been enough botched run-downs, missed bunt assignments, dropped fly-balls (it’s not just a south-side disease), Dunston like throws to first base, throws to the wrong base, and pigeon attacks in the outfield – to lose a few close ones. The Cubs still won 12 games.

  • Quade is learning on the job.

Early in the year, I admonished Cub fans to trust in the Quade. I’ll stick to that. He IS getting better. The Quade is sticking with a struggling and/or tiring starter less often (trying to squeeze that ONE more inning out of a pitcher is almost always a big bucket of Fail when facing major league hitters). Heck, he even got thrown out of a game for the first time. And then promptly admitted being wrong for arguing (after seeing the replay). Despite some puzzling batting orders (always overplayed in the media), and lack of Tweeting from the clubhouse… the Cubs still won 12 games.

The Cubs have hit just well enough to hand off some leads to the three headed monster in the back of the bullpen. And that is enough to go 12-14. Despite a lot of room for improvement.

So I’m proudly drinking the Blue Kool-Aid out of a glass that looks half full. 3.5 games back after significantly under-performing for the month? Sign me up.

Now, bring on May. Cardinals and Reds at Wrigley? First road-trip to Fenway?
This is the Month!

Is it too early to talk about this?

We’ve barely made it out of the first weekend, I’m highly optimistic of this year, and yet… listening to Carlos Pena in the pregame interview – I’m excited. DLee was one of my favorite Cubs of all time, so perhaps I wasn’t expecting too much out of Pena, but he really impresses me.

He still hasn’t learned that when the wind is blowing in at Wrigley… don’t try and hit it out, he’s injured (doesn’t look serious), and the Cubs are only 2 and 2… but…

Is it too early to root for this guy to be a long-term 1B option? Yeah, yeah – He Who Shall Not Be Named is a free agent next year, but at what price? We’ve got some infield prospects coming, but I don’t see anyone ready at first in the next couple of years. Colvin gets his chance to start at first today, but next year, he’s probably a corner OF with the Fook gone. Jackson will probably be a reserve OF, I know we need a leadoff man, but he’ll have to prove he can hit up here first (he should get a chance this September).

Pena plays a damn good 1B, pretty comparable even to DLee. If he can even hit 250 with power… I’m pretty excited. This guy works hard, has a great attitude and already seems to be a great leader.

I’ll worry about next year… after this year… but as of now, I’m hoping for Pena to earn a three year contract with a great year. Don’t bet the farm on He Who Shall Not Be Named (except in tags) next year. The cost is too high. I’m rooting for Pena, who seems to love playing here already, to make it a non-decision.

I guess we’ll see, but I’ve haven’t felt so good about a projected .500 Cubs team in a long, long time.

And this is the LAST time, even in tags, that I will mention He Who Shall Not Be Named in connection with his pending free agency. Which is probably the only thing I say this year that will make Cardinal fans happy.