Posted by sportsmaven on April 13, 2012
If there wasn’t already enough non-baseball related drama surrounding the Chicago Cubs this week, Sunday night’s Starlin Castro fiasco on national television highlights the sad state of affairs afflicting the Cubs in 2011. If Friday’s firing of GM Jim Hendry was the culmination of bad on-field performance, ESPN’s showcase of the young shortstop Castro’s nonchalant daydreaming is the exclamation point on a Cubs culture in desperate need of positive change. With Hendry’s departure, the bullseye of this seasons poor performance is directly focused on Cubs manager Mike Quade and he sticks out like a sore thumb.
Mike Quade was Hendry’s hand-picked manager, but with a volatile mixture of underperforming, overpaid veterans, youngsters up the middle, an injured, suspect starting rotation and an unreliable bullpen, the Cubs were already a disaster waiting to happen. Add to that a couple of meltdowns by Carlos Zambrano, a head-scratching dedication in playing veterans over youth while sitting 16 games under .500 and 20 games behind the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers, Quade is punching his ticket out of town post haste. Each day that Reed Johnson gets a start over a Tyler Colvin or a Tony Campana is a display of how far apart the perception of the Cubs manager is from the reality of where his team resides. Each mismanaged Zambrano outburst or Ryan Dempster confrontation or Starlin Castro maturity lapses is a stamp on how overmatched and over his head Quade appears as the manager of the Chicago Cubs. Somewhere in Reading, PA is Ryne Sandberg, thanking his lucky stars that he didn’t inherit the mess that is currently drowning Mike Quade.
If Cubs interim GM Randy Bush was smart, he would be pursuing every opportunity for waiver deals to move veterans in favor of increased playing time for the youngsters. Bush should also get on the phone and order Quade to play Colvin and Campana as much as possible so the organization can see what it has. On Sept 1st, bring up CF Brett Jackson, P Chris Carpenter, 2B/SS/3B DJ LeMahieu and possibly 3B Josh Vitters to get some major league innings under their belts. Of course Quade will continue to manage the Cubs as he has to date, thus reaffirming his eventual demise as Cubs manager. The new Cubs GM will want to start fresh somewhere. Minor League director Oneri Fleita and Scouting Director Tim Wilken are both highly regarded by Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts so change will come elsewhere. The odd man out is clearly Quade and it’s just a matter of time.
Posted in Chicago Cubs | Tagged: Brett Jackson, Carlos Zambrano, Chicago Cubs, Chris Carpenter, Cubs, DJ LeMahieu, ESPN, Jim Hendry, Josh Vitters, Mike Quade, Milwaukee Brewers, Oneri Fleita, Randy Bush, Reed Johnson, Ryan Dempster, Starlin Castro, Tim Wilken, Tony Campana, Tyler Colvin | Leave a Comment »
Posted by sportsmaven on June 30, 2008
No doubt, so far in the 2008 season, Chicago Cubs fans have been treated to great baseball above and beyond any fathomable expectations. The Cubs entered June with the best record in baseball and have played most of the month of June with that same label, but as June comes to a close, the Cubs are limping to a well deserved and needed break for the 2008 All-Star game at Yankee Stadium in New York.
For the first time this season, the Cubs are facing adversity. The Cubs have played so well that even fickle fans have been spoiled by the lengthy and meaningful success the Cubs have enjoyed so far this season. Their season long dominance at Wrigley Field has provided a sense of dominance in the somewhat weak National League, but injuries are starting to pile up and it’s beginning to take it’s toll on the Cubs dominant run.
When RF Alfonso Soriano went down with a broken hand in the Braves series, all was not lost, as the Cubs lost Soriano earlier in the season and responded as though he was never missed in the lineup. But with this injury plus injuries to RHP Carlos Zambrano, CF Reed Johnson, LHP Scott Eyre, and nagging injuries to CF Jim Edmonds and RF Kosuke Fukudome, the Cubs are finding that all is not well on the “It’s Gonna Happen” bandwagon.
During this weekend’s Sox series, the Cubs started an OF of a mis-cast RF Eric Patterson, injured CF Jim Edmonds, and just returned from injured RF Daryle Ward. The White Sox ran on Patterson all day on Friday and he has yet to see the lineup since. RHP Ryan Dempster also picked a bad time for his worst outing of the season, and P’s Sean Gallagher and Sean Marshall couldn’t stop the bleeding.
The Cubs can’t seem to shake the pesky, smoke and mirrors miracle of the St. Louis Cardinals, now only 2.5 games ahead in the standings. The Milwaukee Brewers are also sneaking up, moving to 4.5 games back. The Cubs played the Sunday night prime time game on ESPN tonight and now have to fly all night to San Francisco to start a 4 game series with the improving Giants (fortunately missing on all world Giants starter RHP Tim Lincecum) and a July 4th weekend series in St. Louis with the Cardinals.
I though Cubs manager Lou Piniella actually did a great job of reminding the Cubs and the fans that although the Sox series has serious emotional hooks in a north/south divide, that this series was one of many series over the course of a full season. Piniella elected to juggle his starting rotation a little, but rested key players such as 2B Mark DeRosa, Kosuke Fukudome, and C Geovanny Soto over the weekend, with the implicit message that the season isn’t won in June by overextending regulars in an interleague matchup that is more glitter than substance.
With Reed Johnson and Carlos Zambrano due to come back this week, and Alfonso Soriano healing very quickly, reinforcements are on the way. With the All-Star break in less than two weeks, much needed rest will soon follow. Once the Cubs are back to full strength, the cream should rise to the top again in the National League. Lets not panic just yet…..
Posted in Chicago Cubs | Tagged: Alfonso Soriano, All-Star Game, Carlos Zambrano, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cubs, Daryle Ward, Eric Patterson, ESPN, Geovanny Soto, Jim Edmonds, Kosuke Fukudome, Lou Piniella, Mark DeRosa, Milwaukee Brewers, National League, Ryan Dempster, San Francisco Giants, Scott Eyre, Sean Gallager, Sean Marshall, Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Tim Lincecum, White Sox | 2 Comments »
Posted by sportsmaven on January 19, 2008
So much has happened since we last saw the Chicago Blackhawks grace the pages of the Sportsmaven blog. Barring a collapse of the Chicago Cubs (which is ALWAYS a distinct possibility) your Chicago Blackhawks might be the most successful of the major professional sports teams that call Chicago home. The Blackhawks have come out of hibernation and have done it at the most perfect time, given the struggles of it’s United Center roommate, the Chicago Bulls. It has done so in the face of a disappointing 7-9 post-Super Bowl season for the Chicago Bears. And spring training is about a month away, so the Blackhawks have center stage and are making the most of it.
Kudos to new owner Rocky Wirtz in making one right move after another in providing this franchise an about face it so dearly needed. The hiring of John McDonough from the Chicago Cubs was brilliant. The announcement of home games on TV began the healing. Parking Bob Pulford in the Wirtz Corporation offices and reaching out to Blackhawks alumni Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita to take front and center publicity roles were long overdue. The Blackhawks are seeing a revitalization that has rarely been witnessed in Chicago sports history.
Tonight’s article is about the franchise, the new direction, the new hope, the seizing of opportunity. The bulk of the heavy lifting still has to come from the players and coaching staff, but finally, this team no longer has to carry the baggage of the mess that old ownership bestowed. It no longer has to play it’s home games in a near empty stadium. The Blackhawks players and coaches have earned a pass for this season, but yet, they are performing better than I had anticipated, and could compete for a playoff spot if several key players return quickly from injury. Hockey fans rejoice — The Chicago Blackhawks have become relevant once again.
Posted in Chicago Blackhawks | Tagged: Bears, Blackhawks, Bobby Hull, Bulls, Chicago, Chicago Bears, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Cubs, Cubs, hockey, Stan Mikita, United Center | 2 Comments »
Posted by sportsmaven on January 21, 2007
With the focus of the Chicago sports scene on the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship game and this weekend’s Cubs Convention, it is easy to forget that there are other Chicago teams in the midst of their season. The Bulls played the Utah Jazz tonight at the United Center before embarking on their NFC-AFC Conference Championship tour/roadtrip to Indianapolis to play the Indiana Pacers on Monday night. I’ve been trying to hold off on a Bulls post until after the NFC Championship game, but thought tonight would provide a great opportunity to ease into a long, somewhat ho-hum NBA season. I just wanted to see if I could work both the Bulls and the Bears into the same post successfully (I use the word successfully very loosely)
The Bulls, winners of three in a row coming into tonight, couldn’t hit the side of a barn. They shot 38.2% from the field, including 8.3% from three point range, and they did it ugly. They did out rebound the Jazz 46 to 43, mostly out of self defense. Utah got physical with the Bulls, turning this game into a half court scrum, as noted by the 54 fouls and 72 free throws combined.
This game essentially displayed some fundamental flaws of the current Bulls team. The Bulls lack an inside scoring presence, and it doesn’t look like that presence is going to appear anytime soon. When the Bulls perimeter game is off, like it was tonight, it makes it difficult to stay in games such as tonight’s. The Bulls also didn’t defend well down the stretch tonight. When it mattered, they couldn’t stop Mehmet Okur, Carlos Boozer, or even Derek Fisher from scoring key baskets and grabbing key rebounds. Now the Bulls go on the road to play a Pacers team that underwent an extreme makeover. (wouldn’t Al Harrington have looked good in a Bulls jersey right about now) The Bulls are a work in progress at the moment, and it shows in their night to night performance on the court.
As for that roadtrip, the Bulls plan to leave Chicago, by bus, just after 2pm CT today to avoid the traffic from the Chicago Bears/New Orleans Saints NFC Championship game, drive the 3.5 hours on a frozen interstate to pull into Indianapolis just in time to hit the traffic for the start of the Indianapolis Colts/New England Patriots AFC Championship game. If the Bulls play more games the way they did tonight, these might be the only championships they experience this season. At least they can say they were involved in two in one day.
Posted in Chicago Bulls | Tagged: AFC, AFC Championship, Al Harrington, Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bears, Chicago Bulls, Cubs, Derek Fisher, Indiana Pacers, Indianapolis Colts, Mehmet Okur, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, NFC, NFC Championship, United Center, Utah Jazz | Leave a Comment »