Thursday, June 30, 2011

Crosstown Showdown- Broadcaster Style

With the Crosstown Series Part II between the Cubs and White Sox set to start tomorrow, I beg the question: Which team has the better broadcasters?

For all three games this weekend the White Sox radio team will be on 670 The Score and the Cubs radio team on WGN-720, so if you are in your car you will have to pick between the two. On Saturday you'll be stuck with FOX-TV if you're at home, but on Friday the Sox TV guys will be on CSN and Cubs on WGN, and Sunday it will be the opposite on TV.

Now I know this is a Cubs blog, so most of us are going to the favor the North Siders when I ask this question. But let us really think about it.

TV Play-by-Play
Ken "Hawk" Harrelson is as big of a homer as they come. If you aren't a White Sox fan, chance are you cannot stand the guy. If you are a Sox supporter, you probably love yelling "You can put it on the board... YES!" along with Hawk. He is very entertaining, but I would rather have colorful color analyst than a colorful play-by-play guy. Len Kasper has grown on me since he took over in the Cubs booth in 2005. He does a good job of letting Bob do his job and building the excitement went necessary.
Point: Len Kasper

Radio Play-by-Play
Pat Hughes is one of the best in the business. He is very fair, has a great voice and has a way of making every game seem exciting. In addition, his sense of humor is unique and hilarious. I miss the magic that occurred in the booth for 15 years when Pat was teamed up with Ron Santo. I haven't heard much of Ed Farmer, but I do know that he's no Pat Hughes.
Point: Pat Hughes

TV Color Commentary
Steve Stone and Bob Brenly both have great baseball minds. They are both very insigthful. I believe that BB is easier to listen to and sounds more natural on the air. However, due to Stoney's popularity on the North Side while working with Harry Caray, I believe that most Chicago fans would take Steve over Bob. Just to be fair we'll give this one to the Sox.
Point: Steve Stone

Radio Color Commentary
Keith Moreland was faced with the difficult assignment of having to fill the shoes of Ron Santo this year. Keith is a great guy and provides some insight into the WGN booth, but it is simply not the same as having Ronnie on the air. His mispronunciations and southern accent are my only complaints. When Pat takes his fifth inning break, I wish Judd Sirott would do the play-by-play and Keith would continue doing color, but they have it the other way around. Darrin Jackson, who played for both the Cubs and White Sox, was very popular when he was on TV with Hawk but unfortunately was demoted to the radio booth. I've always liked DJ.
Point: Darrin Jackson

CSN Pre/Post
Everyone love when Dan Plesac did the pregame and postgame shows for Comcast Sports Net, but Holly has stepped in and done just as good of a job. I like having David Kaplan with Holly this year. I find Bill Melton a bit on the boring side for the White Sox pre and post.
Point: Todd Hollandswoth

All and all I think that all eight broadcasters that we have in Chicago are very good. The only one who I do not care for is Hawk, but if he was a Cubs guy that might be different. Thoughts?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Preparing for a Full Day of Baseball

Today the Cubs and the defending World Champion Giants will meet in a double header because they must make up a Sunday game that was postponed back on May 15. A wild homestand for the Cubs continues after a makeup game victory over the Rockies on a scheduled off day yesterday.

The Cubs bullpen could be in trouble today, because in addition to the fact that a twin bill always taxes a pen, they may not get much length out of their starters. Doug Davis will hopefully go deep into the first game, but you never know with the crafty lefty. Rodrigo Lopez, normally a member of the relief core, will be forced to start the second game because none of the five starters are available on regular rest.

This is a split twin bill, with game one starting at 1:20 and the first pitch of the second game taking place at 7:05. Here is the Cubs starting lineup for the first game:
1. Kosuke, RF
2. Campana, CF
3. Castro, SS
4. Ramirez, 3B
5. Pena, 1B
6. Soriano, LF
7. DeWitt, 2B
8. Hill, C
9. Davis, P

The Cubbies already played one day-night double dip this year, splitting a April 20 affair with the Padres. They won the first game 2-1 on a dramatic Reed Johnson home run before falling in the nightcap. At that point they were .500 for the season.

There are always two possibilities that could make a double header even more wild- a rain delay or extra innings. The first is unlikely today as the weather in Chicago is beautiful.

The Cubs did not play a double dip last year and split one in 2009 against the Cardinals. The last time the Boys in Blue swept both games was in Atlanta on August 13, 2008.

"I don't care who wins as long as it's the Cubs!"

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Possible Roster Moves

The Cubs currently have three players that are close to coming off the disables list. Kerry Wood is trying to recover from his blister issue. He has begun to toss on the side. Marlon Byrd is set to begin his rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa tomorrow, but no time table is in place for his return. Darwin Barney is already rehabbing and could return to the big league team on Wednesday.

When these players return, the Cubs will be forced to make several roster decision to make room on the club. Let us take a look at their options to make room for each player.

To Make Room for Kerry Wood
Option A) Send Chris Carpenter back to Iowa
Option B) Trade/DFA John Grabow
Option C) Trade/Release/Demote Rodrigo Lopez
My Take) The best option would probably be getting rid of John Grabow, but the Cubs are unlikely to dump is salary. Most likely Carpenter will be headed back to the minors, but I'd rather see more of him than Lopez.

To Make Room for Marlon Byrd
Option A) Send Tony Campana back to the minors
Option B) Send Lou Montanez back to the minors
Option C) Trade Kosuke Fukudome
My Take) There are probably no takers for Kosuke, so it looks as if one of the kids is going to Iowa. I would send Montanez back down so that the Cubs can receive a longer look at the younger and faster Tony Campana. However, if Campana is not going to play with Byrd, Johnson, Soriano and Kosuke all on the roster, it would make more sense to send him to AAA for some ABs. Montanez is right handed so he makes for a better platoon partner with Kosuke.

To Make Room For Darwin Barney
Option A) Send DJ LeMahieu to Triple-A
Option B) Send both Campana and Montanez to the minors, keep LeMahieu as a backup infielder, use Baker and DeWitt in the outfield if need be.
Option C) Trade Baker or DeWitt
My Take) DJ most likely needs to go back down. I would hate to see the Cubs waste a young player on the bench when he probably needs more seasoning at the minor league level.

Feel free to jump in with your take in the comments. How the Cubs handle these decisions will really indicate the direction that the team is going in. The injuries have actually allowed the Cubs to take a look at some of the younger players, now it is time to find out which younger players have earned a spot in the roster full time.

Today is the 51st anniversary of Ron Santo's big league debut! Check out my book review of Ron Santo A Perfect Ten on View From the Bleachers by clicking here.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted on Everything Cubs as always.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shortstop Finally Locked Down on the North Side

Starlin Castro appears to be the shortstop that the Cubs have been searching for. The 21-year old second year pro, in his first full season, is still going through some growing pains defensively but has stayed consistent at the plate. Shortstop is a very important position for a good club. They Cubs have had a revolving door there as of late. Let us take a look at the Cubs shortstops of recent years and see how they fared compared to Castro's stats.

  • 2010-2011- Starlin Castro, .308 AVG

  • 2009- Ryan Theriot, .284 AVG

  • 2008- Theriot, .307 AVG

  • 2007- Theriot, .266 AVG

  • Backup/ sometimes starter '05-'08- Ronny Cedeno: .243 career hitter

  • 2006- Cesar Izturis, .246 AVG

  • 2005- Nomar Garciaparra, .283 AVG

  • 2004- Alex S. Gonzalez- .217 AVG

  • 2003- Alex S. Gonzalez- .228 AVG

The point being, Castro has a chance to be the best Cubs shortstop since Ernie Banks. The Cubs middle infield of Castro and Darwin Barney is something that you could build a team around. Potentially, here is what the Cubs lineup could look like in 2013.

  • 1. Tony Campana, CF

  • 2. Darwin Barney, 2B

  • 3. Starlin Castro, SS

  • 4. Brett Jackson, RF

  • 5. Geovany Soto, C

  • 6. Josh Vitters, 3B

  • 7. Alfonso Soriano, LF

  • 8. Free Agent Signing, 1B

The pitching staff-

1. Andrew Cashner

2. Chris Carpenter

3. Jay Jackson

4. Randy Wells

5. Matt Garza

Closer: Carlos Marmol

Can this team win? The Cubsh have shortstop and second base figured out long term, now they just need to develop pitching and more hitters!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Crosstown Showdown Preview

Last year, I took a look at the history of the Cubs VS White Sox match-up. Click here to check out that post. In 2010, the Sox took four of the six meetings to extend their all time series lead to 41-37. Last year's series will be remembered for a near Ted Lilly no-hitter (broken up by former Cub Juan Pierre), the Blackhawks bringing the Stanley Cup to Wrigley and for Carlos Zambrano's meltdown that earned him time away from the team.

Here is a look at the six game slate for this year.
June 20-22 @ U.S. Cellular Field
Game 1- Tonight at 7:10 Carlos Zambrano VS Gavin Floyd
Game 2- Tuesday at 7:10 Matt Garza VS Mark Buehrle
Game 3- Wednesday at 7:10 Doug Davis VS Jake Peavy
July 1-3 @ Wrigley Field
Game 1- Friday July 1 at 1:20
Game 2- Saturday July 2 at 3:10 FOX-TV
Game 3- Sunday July 3 at 1:20

All of the games, besides the one broadcast on FOX will be on Comcast Sports Net with either Cubs or White Sox announcers. The other club's broadcast team will do the game on either WGN or WCIU. All six games will be on both 670 The Score and WGN-720.

Here are some links and notes as we preview the Crosstown Classic.

That's it for now and remember...

"I don't care who wins as long as it's the Cubs!"

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Weekend Quick Hits: The Rumor Mill is Heating Up

  • Phil Rogers and the Chicago Tribune have put together their All-City team, which is released each year just before the Crosstown Showdown. Despite the better record for the White Sox, the North Siders have claimed five of the eight spots on the All-City squad.

  • Ken Davidoff tweets that Carlos Zambrano is not likely headed to New York. This week there have been several reports that the Yankees are not interested.

  • Zambrano will waive his no-trade clause if he is asked to, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX. Big Z complained to Rosenthal yesterday that he was quoted out of context. He emphasized that he loves Chicago and wants to remain a Cub.

  • Alfonso Soriano expects to stay with the Cubs, but if the team wants to trade him then he is willing to go.

  • The Yankees have an eye on Ryan Dempster, but right now it is unlikely that Demp will be dealt.

  • As Carrie Muskat mentioned on her blog, if the Cubs win today they will take back-to-back series for the first time this year.

  • Jake Peavy will come off the DL and pitch Wednesday against the Cubs.

Tonight the Cubs and Yankees play the rubber match of the three game series, with CC Sabathia pitching against Randy Wells on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball! Tomorrow I will have a Crosstown Showdown special post!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Remembering Ronnie Roundup: Reviewing the Ron Santo Book

This past week I have been reading the book Ron Santo: A Perfect Ten, which I finished today. I don't want to spoil the book but I definitely recommend it for any Cubs fans. Author Rich Wolfe teamed up with Ron's partner Pat Hughes to write the book, which was action a collection of stories from those that knew Santo best. Family members, fellow broadcasters and childhood friends are among those that wrote sections of the novel.

On a scale of 1-10, I'd give a perfect ten. There were over 20 people that were interviewed who did not make the book. Wolfe is going to try to include their memories of Ronnie in his next book, For Cub Fans Only, Volume 3. Former teammates such as Ernie Banks, Randy Hundley, Glenn Beckert, Fergie Jenkins and Don Kessinger were among those cut. Fans are encouraged to send their interesting Ron Santo stories to

Pat Hughes shared his memories during the first chapter of the book. He retold all of his favorite stories and added a few new ones in. Kerry Wood wrote the second section, followed by Ronnie's family members. My favorite section was probably the one written by producer engineer Matt Boltz, who spent ten years with Ronnie in the WGN Radio booth. Boltzy, who looked at Santo as a father figure, had a very unique perspective that previously went untold.

Santo's sister, ex-wife, men's softball teammate and childhood friend all told unique stories as well. John McDonough of the Blackhawks and David Kaplan of WGN Radio described some of the pranks that they would play on Ronnie in the mid-'90s. Other former booth mates such as Bob Brenly, Thom Brennamen, Cory Provus, Judd Sirott and Andy Masur had great tales to tell as well.

The forward was written by Ron Santo, Jr. and titled Namesakes are People Two. The book can be ordered at or by visiting a Chicagoland Jewel or Binny's Beverage Depot. I was sad to finish it, but there are still several more Remembering Ronnie dates on our calender to keep in mind:
August 10, 2011- the statue goes up at Wrigley
This Fall- Jeff Santo releases an updated version of This Old Cub.
This Winter- Baseball Voices CD of Ronnie released by Pat Hughes

That's it for now, I will continue to provide Remembering Ronnie Roundups every month or so.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Don't Count the Cubs Out Yet

Let's not get too carried away after back-to-back wins, but yesterday's game was pretty exciting. The Cubs are really in need of a sweep of the first place Brewers. They have won the first two games with a night game tonight and a day game tomorrow afternoon. Remember in 2007 it seemed as if the Cubs were out of it in July when they swept the Brewers in a four game series at Wrigley to game four games in the standing. They went on to win the division. Last night's two-run bomb by Aramis Ramirez reminded me of a walk-off homer he hit during that series.

At this point the Cubs are still ten games out of first. While that is not insurmountable, the fact that there are four teams in front of them makes it seem even more unlikely. Today more bad news was released as Darwin Barney is set to be placed on the 15-day DL. DJ LeMahieu will remain on the roster and split time with Jeff Baker at second base. Alfonso Soriano should be activated to fill Barney's roster spot. Yesterday the Cubs made a pair of roster moves sending Casey Coleman and Tyler Colvin back to Iowa in order to call up Chris Carpenter for his big league debut and activate Reed Johnson. Despite three players being activated from the DL, the injured list still includes Byrd, Wood, Cashner and now Barney.

Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times chatted about Cubs baseball with Mully and Hanley on 670 the Score this morning:

  • Prince Fielder does not know Jim Hendry, but he will not rule out signing with the Cubs after this season.

  • Gordon does not see the Cubs signing a big name free agent next year. He sees the Cubs dropping payroll again next year. He does not expect them to go out and get a big name guy.

  • "A guy like Fielder is out of the question," Wittenmyer said.

  • He does not have a problem with the "(Bleep) the goat" shirts that the Cubs have been wearing.

  • Carlos Marmol is really good and getting better. He is a movable asset, but the Cubs will probably hang on to him.

  • Jim Hendry is the guy that hired the manager and just ran the draft. He has another year on his contract, and Gordon expects him to stick around for at least another year.

  • At the trade deadline, any movements that the Cubs make will involve eating money.

  • Marlon Byrd has said that if you can get to five out before the All Star Break you have a chance.

  • A fire sale is impossible for the Cubs. Nobody is buying for the Cubs, plus all of the players have no trade clauses. Kerry Wood is one of the only guys who has a lot of interest from other teams.

  • The Cubs will only trade Wood if he approves of it.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted!!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Radio Recaps: Levine Talks Cubs, Gammons Calls Out Wrigley & Holly on The Score

Summer is just about here, and with that comes the return of Everything Cubs blog. Although it's been about ten days since I've posted, and I have been have had several long breaks as of late, this blog is not going anywhere. This summer we are set to debut some news posts and features to keep it interesting despite the struggles of the team on the field. I'll have a post up by the middle of next week outlining our summer posting plans.

For now, let's jump in with some radio recaps.

Bruce Levine checked in with Carmen, Jurko & Harry yesterday on ESPN 1000:

  • Levine reports that he Carlos Zambrano's teammates like him. Players are intimidated by him but he is also a nice guy. When he's competing he's wacko.

  • Jurko and Bruce are both disappointed with the performance of Geovany Soto this season. He is one guy who needs to step up.

  • Several players are still very optimistic about this team as it starts to get healthy.

  • Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson have done a great job. Getting them back is very important to this team.

  • The Cubs do not feel like they are out of the race.

  • Levine does not think reply is a great idea. There was no side view available for the Tyler Colvin overturned home run. Bruce was shocked that the call was overturned.

  • Baseball needs to add more cameras to have every angle covered.

  • Marlon Byrd is hoping to take live BP by the middle of next week. He is hoping to return sometime in July.

Peter Gammons of the MLB Network joined Mully and Hanley on 670 The Score yesterday to talk Chicago baseball:

  • It's hard to recover from losing two or three starters early in the season really hurt the Cubs. Ryan Dempster has not had his best year. The pitching staff has not been very stable.

  • Gammons did not like Zambrano's comments calling out the club. Nobody takes what Z says seriously anyways.

  • Carlos is not tradeable because he makes way too much money.

  • Peter doesn't think that Z should have been the person who should have been calling out the team. If a different veteran would have done it, it would have been okay.

  • Gammons thinks that Jim Hendry will eventually be fired by the club. He feels badly for Hendry because a lot of decisions were made by ownership regarding free agent signings.

  • Peter believes that ownership has been very fair with Jim, "but those changes have to be made sometimes."

  • He thinks it is too early to judge the Ricketts family as the owners as the Cubs. "They are going to have to make that ballpark livable. I mean it is a dump," he said. "There is a ton of money that has to go into rebuilding that place," Gammons said.

  • He pointed out that the Ricketts have taken over a roster filled with big contracts plus a ballpark that needs to have a lot of money put into it.

Todd Hollandsworth joined the Danny Mac Show on the Score yesterday:

  • The Cubs bullpen has had to pick up a lot of slack because the starting pitching has not been reliable. The Cubs have not gotten quality starts from the veterans in the rotation.

  • The bullpen has logged a lot of innings and done a pretty good job.

  • Todd thinks that the purpose if instant reply was to eliminate the chance for a bad call on a game changing home run, but there was still some question after the reviewed Tyler Colvin call.

  • Colvin is a very streaky hitter a lot like Alfonso Soriano. He is very capable of swooning or getting hot. The Cubs were counting on Tyler more this year. He is going to have to work on to be mor consistent.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Singing the Cubbie Blues

The Cubs woes have continued this week with a dreadful sweep at the hands of the last place Pirates. The Cubs appear to be headed for the basement in the NL Central themselves, after going 1-5 in a six game home stretch against two of the other worst teams in the league. On the injury front, things have continued to get worse. Let's check in on some news and notes.

  • Matt Garza threw 30 pitches in the side session today. If he does not suffer a setback, he could come off the DL and pitch against the Astros next Monday.

  • Aramis Ramirez was hit in the lip today with a ground ball and left the game. He will need stitches for his lip but at least the injury was not more serious.

  • Alfonso Soriano is the latest Cubs outfield to be placed on the disabled list. Tyler Colvin was called back up yesterday to try to help an outfield that currently has three of the four regulars disabled.

  • Bruce Miles reports that Marlon Byrd chatted with reports today. Byrd says he is waiting for his fractures to heal and he plans to return in 4-6 weeks.

  • Mike Quade has no plans of using a six man rotation, so either Doug Davis or Rodrigo Lopez will be removed when Garza returns.

  • Tom Ricketts quickly walked away from a group of reports today when someone asked what was wrong with his team.

  • According to Baseball Prospectus, the Cubs chances of making the playoffs are 1.1%.

  • The Cubs have the ninth overall pick in the First Year Player Draft, which takes place next week.