Castro and Barney Need Our Votes!

No team in the major leagues can claim to have a more exciting, talented dynamic duo up the middle than the Chicago Cubs. Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney have proven to be strong building blocks for the franchise going forward and a solid foundation for the team to lean on this season. They both deserve All-Star recognition and you can help send them to the starting line-up by voting for them over and over again.

I received the following email a few minutes ago…feel free to use the link below to vote for Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney (write-in) and your other favorite Cubs players you feel should represent the National League and the Chicago Cubs in this year’s All-Star game!

ALL-STAR UPDATE: CASTRO AND BARNEY NEED YOUR VOTES
The National League All-Star ballot update was released today and top Cubs performers Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney and Alfonso Soriano need your help to make the squad!

Starlin Castro ranks second among MLB shortstops in hits and average entering today’s games, while write-in candidate Darwin Barney leads all MLB rookies in hits, runs and batting average. Alfonso Soriano — currently ninth among NL outfielders in All-Star voting — is tied for second in the NL with 12 home runs.

Fans can cast their votes for starters up to 25 times on cubs.com — online or via your mobile device — using the 2011 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Sprint until June 30 at 10:59 p.m. CT.

VOTE NOW >>
http://link.mlblists.com/r/XN5PM2/ORXVTJ/P6GZ4/RGOQQ6/1617OI/JS/t?a=4809036&b=205009430

AND… while you’re at it, vote for my son Rhys (shameless plug) in a contest! You can help put him on the cover of an upcoming issue of Parents Magazine. Now wouldn’t that just make your day? Ok, more accurately…now wouldn’t that just make Rhys’ family’s day?

Vote by clicking here and submit your vote in like 2 seconds! http://t.co/XYsBHG9

Do it. Vote for Castro (and Barney and Rhys) and all your wildest dreams will come true.

Go Cubs Go!

Preaching Patience to Patients, Simply Bad Timing

Cubs hitting coach, Rudy Jaramillo, believes that preaching patience to his hitters is what this team needs to succeed. Now, certainly a walk is better than a strike out. Heck, it’s better than just about any kind of out that doesn’t involve a sacrifice for a run. I don’t believe our problem has been getting on base any more than the rest of the league. Our problem has been getting guys around that are already on base. Timely hitting with men in scoring position, that is our problem.

I understand young players like Castro and Barney get on a roll partially because of their talent and partially because opposing pitchers haven’t seen them before and haven’t figured out their weaknesses. I understand preaching patience to the young guns and pushing the philosophy down to A ball to keep the organization’s company line on point for when the young players hit the majors. Thing is…while it may help get one of the youngsters on base once more a game, the problem may just be that Jaramillo is preaching to a bunch of injured, often on the DL players.

He is preaching patience to a bunch of patients.

What good is preaching patience to a bunch of players that can’t stay healthy? What good is it to get guys on base and then not be able to knock in the runs? Who wants to lead the league in men left on base? I’m all for a high OBP. The Cubs are third in the National League in the category. Of course it’s difficult to clear the bases when you’re not getting the hits when the bases have a no-vacancy sign over them. It’s not like we’re not hitting for average. The Cubs are in second place in the NL in AVG, only a handful of points behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

Currently, we are 7.5 games behind said Cardinals. We are getting on base and we are hitting for average. We’re not even striking out as much as you may think. Currently we are in 15th out of 16 teams in the National League in strike outs, only team striking out less than us: the Cardinals (of course).

We aren’t quick to swing at poor pitches overall. We aren’t just taking a quick lap from the dugout to the batter’s box and back again very often. We aren’t having a hard time getting on base.

Patience isn’t our problem. Timing is.

I don’t know if even Jaramillo can teach timing. Patience? Sure. Wait for it. Wait for it. Wait for it. That’s easy. Heck, when you’re batting, patience and ‘wait for it’ calls for the hitter to simply stand there and not get hit by the pitch. As long as it’s not thrown directly at me, even I could do that. Patience is easy. Timing? Timing is hard.

I’d like to hear Jaramillo start talking about timing and figuring out a magical solution to the lack there of.

While the players are injured and taking a round-robin approach to the DL, patience is arguably wearing thin. Patience at the plate isn’t the problem. Patience in the bleachers and in the standings is where the patience is becoming an issue. At the plate, Jaramillo’s forte, timing is the problem.

Time to change the company model to reflect timing as the point of focus in the batter’s box and get away from patience. With all the patients we’ve had lately and all the youngsters getting called up to replace them, now would be the perfect time.

Go Cubs Go!

Prosecard From Cubs Nation – Ryan Aaron

With injuries piling up this season to multiple Cubs starters, it’s important for us Cubs fans to stick together more than ever. It’s only May 31st so there is still a lot of baseball left to play and anything can happen but we need to get healthy fast, get our guys back on the field and turn it around quickly. It takes time to make up games, especially in a division as tight as the Central. Hopefully Garza comes back on Sunday and Wells improves in his second outing since coming off the DL. Once we start to stockpile our pitchers again, I feel like we have the offense to generate the necessary support. Just a matter of getting healthy and chasing the Cardinals, Brewers, Reds and Pirates as hard as we can. It would be nice if the Astros stay in the basement of the division. We dont’ need ANOTHER team to chase at this point in the season.

I know many Cubs fans feel the frustration after a tough loss and the elation after a great win that I feel so I always find it interesting to get to know other fans, by more than their Twitter handle.

If you are interested in being interviewed for a Prosecard of your own, email me at maloney_ryan@yahoo.com and I’ll send you some questions. You submit your answers and a photo and BOOM…we have ourselves a Prosecard. Here is today’s Prosecard from Cubs Nation from Ryan Aaron. Ryan loves his Cubs and has reason for MLB to eliminate the White Sox altogether. Check it out!

Name: Ryan Aaron

Why are the Cubs your favorite baseball team? Living in Oklahoma City we do not get a lot of the teams. As a child I could always count on watching the Cubs play. Watching Sandberg and Grace on the field and Harry and Steve Stone in the booth was the best part of my baseball child hood. 

Who is your all-time favorite Cub? Ryne Sandberg

Who is your favorite Cub on the current roster? I would have to go with Starlin Castro

Best thing about having a family own the team as opposed to a giant corporation and also the worst thing: The best thing about it being owned by a family is because in most cases it will be ran like it is a family and not just everyone is a number there to make a profit. The worst thing about it is because with it being owned by a family is that the budget may not be as large and may not be able to pay the players we develop when it is time or go out and get the one or two players needed to finish the piece of puzzle during free agency.

Your favorite thing about Wrigley Field: The ivy and the old scoreboard

Player you enjoy watching the most and why: Starlin Castro because he always plays at 110 percent. He plays with a level of energy that you don’t see everyday. Whether it is in the field or at the plate he plays all out all the time.

The Cubs are still chasing their next World Series title after nearly 103 years. What is it that they are missing? Why hasn’t happened in that time frame already? This is a tough one. I don’t think the answer is talent. We have had plenty of teams talented over the years. I guess it comes down to luck. I do not think the team is cursed but we have had a lot of bad breaks over the years. If just one of those goes the other way who knows maybe we hav e1 or 2 or 3 championships in that time frame.

Who is your favorite Cubs broadcaster (radio or TV)? Len Kasper

You are asked to write a brief column in between game 6 and game 7 of the World Series. Series is tied 3-3. Cubs win game 7 and the day we’ve all waited for will finally be here. What does the beginning of your column look like? Today is the day. Will it be the day we have all been waiting on or will it be another day of heartbreak?

How will you celebrate when the Cubs finally win another World Series title? I honestly do not know. I am sure there will be a lot of happy tears and adult beverages though.

You are offered a job to design a new logo for the Cubs. What would the logo look like? I would mix in a little bit of the current with the C and bring back the original logo with the bear holding the bat.

MLB has to cut one team for financial reasons. They have narrowed it down to the Brewers, Cardinals or White Sox. Which team would you recommend they lose and why? The White Sox would be the team I would contract. Why because the Cardinals are one of the historic teams in baseball and the rivalry with the Cubs is like none other, it is known world wide. The Brewers are a team that that when we go to there park it is like another home game Wrigley North. The White Sox are like the little kid down the street to me the one that no one wants to play with. They do nothing to help us and nothing to hurt us. They are just there.

How would you describe what it is like to be a Cubs fan? It is a roller coster no one has ever rode before, we have our ups and downs every year, but they are different than any other team.

The Cubs have won the World Series. You are writing the Tribune’s headline. Give me 3 samples of how you would have it read. HOW SWEET IT IS!!!!, CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! GO CUBS GO!

Thanks Ryan! Hope our Cubs get healthy and headed in the right direction in the standings ASAP!

Go Cubs Go!

In-Game Season Anxiety Index – How Do You Feel?

It is currently in the bottom of the third inning in today’s game against the Pirates. Last game of the three game series. Fukudome just hit a leadoff double. I want to know how you feel about the season so far. The Good? The Bad? The Ugly? Let me hear your thoughts as today’s game unfolds. Stop yelling at the TV or telling your friends how much you love such-and-such about the Cubs. Let me hear what you’re thinking about the season so far right here, right now. Looking forward to hearing what everyone is thinking up to this point. Go Cubs Go!

That’s Rare.

A win against the Pirates? Lately, that’s very rare. Did it happen today? Nope. Not today. Aside from a blast by Soriano in the ninth inning to cut the deficit in half, the Cubs weren’t able to come up with much of anything today against the ‘Buccos’. I don’t care for that nickname when it comes to the Pirates. And I don’t care for the fact that they have become a giant thorn in the Cubs side.

Doug Davis once again proved that he is not the answer in replacing Wells or Cashner. Add him to the list of guys who have auditioned for the spot and as Randy Jackson would say, “I don’t know, Dog. For me, it was just a little too pitchy”. Ha. Word play. Anyway, you understand what I’m getting at. Any Cubs fan familiar with the pitching problems we’ve faced since the season started understand what I’m saying. What was painful though was seeing Coleman warming up after Davis did nothing but give up a couple runs. COLEMAN? Isn’t enough that we have to see this kid pitch every five days while filling a rotation spot? Now we have to see him in spot relief as well? I mean, I understand he threw what….five pitches in his last outing before handing the ball to ICEBerg…but still. Every time I see the names DAVIS, COLEMAN, RUSSELL on the back of jerseys it makes we even more anxious for the return of our true four and five.

Thank goodness Zambrano’s doctor visit came up negative and any stiffness he was feeling in his neck turned out to be no big deal. We couldn’t take that right now. Dempster and Zambrano need to be patient and wait a little longer for their turn if they plan on packing their bags and booking a trip to the DL this season. Let’s wait for Garza, Wells and Cashner to send their Prosecards and tell us how great their stint was before we get Z and Demp on Travelocity looking up flights and hotels in sunny, warm, tragic DL-land.

Need to clean up the errors in the field and by clean up, I mean stop them. No more. We are too far back now to allow any unearned runs. Let’s make up some ground with quality baseball and then perhaps think about booting ground balls around the infield. At least give us time to get the rights to the Benny Hill theme song and we can make a real show of it one day in late August when we’re battling for first place and we just laugh it off as a fluke as we continue to blow away the teams we face. (Wouldn’t that be nice?) If we are going to help ourselves and pick each other up, a good place to start would be the ground balls. We pick those up and we could put an end to the unearned and earn our pitchers some W’s.

I still hold on to the goal of a 7-2 home stand. Of course, that would require winning the next five. However, we took the Mets series 2-1, so if we do that to Pittsburgh then we get the Astros who are sitting in the basement of the Central. And what team makes the most sense as far as sweeping is concerned? The one in the basement. Ha. Word play.

Wins against the Pirates have been a rarity recently and that needs to stop. Period. I want back in to the days where I could say ‘We’ll Always Have Pittsburgh’ and I’d like to revisit it as such tomorrow. In the meantime, here is something else that is rare. I came across it on-line just searching ‘rare Chicago Cubs film’. Thought it was pretty cool and wanted to share (like the way Pittsburgh hopefully shares the W’s. One for them…one…two for us. Sounds fair. Enjoy the footage). Go Cubs Go!

 http://ctnow.vid.trb.com/player/PaperVideoTest.swf

Dear Pittsburgh, I Think We Need A Little Space.

Nearing the mid-way point of this nine game home stand, next up: the Pittsburgh Pirates. Division games often make the difference at the end of the season. Now is the time to pull away from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Here are your 2011 standings in the NL Central as of today, May 27:

Sitting side by side like Siamese twins sharing the fourth spot in the NL Central, the Cubs and Pirates are both clawing away as best they can to see what the Cards and Reds are up to atop the standings. Hoping the hole they are standing in isn’t made of quicksand, they’ve got their shovels out trying to dig their way out of the hole they dug themselves. Like watching two people doing their best to recover from a slip of the tongue, Cubs fans will be rooting for the Cubs to successfully do so and hope the Pirates end up packing up their things and asking for room in the basement next to the Astros in the basement of the division.

As expected, the Central is turning into a four team race. After this series, one of the two teams will have separated themselves from the other and hopefully it’s the Cubs joining the Brewers, Reds and Cards and not the Pirates. It is so hard to make up ground in this division as we’ve seen recently. Feels like in the past couple weeks, while the Cards have picked up a couple games on us, every time the Cubs win, the Cards win and when we lose, at times they still win. It gets frustrating to win a day game and hope you pick up a game that night, only to watch St. Louis maintain their lead. It’s a tough division, I know, but Pittsburgh, you’re getting a little too clingy. Enough is enough. We need a little space.

The Cards, Reds and Brewers all get to play the Pirates and Astros as many times as we do. Chances are they are going to take care of business. This week is our turn, our shot at winning the games we need to win to contend. Four games over the Astros, we’ve done a good job stiff-arming Houston in the standings.

It’s time to do the same to you, Pittsburgh.

Not too long ago, Pittsburgh might as well have been a difficulty rating of just above an off day or batting practice. A young team fighting desparately to become relevant again after 20+ years of coming up short, they are slowly getting better. Recently, the Pirates are making it a series against the Cubs and at the end of the year, like last year, the Pirates even took the season series between the two of them. Chasing the Cards is one thing. First thing’s first though…we need to pull away from Pittsburgh. We’re trying to achieve something here and you are cramping our style, Pirates.

Doug Davis on the mound tonight. Remember Doug, these are the Pirates. Not the Red Sox. Get the W. Go Cubs Go!

Think My Family’s Excited About Taking the Series From the Mets?

A picture is worth a thousand words…or at least one Jib Jab video. Feel free to play the video above before reading the rest of the post.

What a great game today. Another laugher as the Cubs take two out of three against the Mets to kick off their nine game home stand. If we were allowed to play all nine last night, then perhaps we would have come back and found a way to sweep them. Unfortunately, the rain had other plans and the Mets escape the broom. I believe if we don’t get out of Wrigley with a 7-2 record this week against the Mets, Astros and Pirates, then it’s a giant missed opportunity to make up some ground. If we take the next two series 2-1 that puts us at 6-3 for the week so we’re now going to have to sweep either the ‘Stros or the Pirates. Would love to see that happen.

Zambrano looked great today as he was dominant on the mound and went 3-for-3 at the plate. Is he fun to watch hit, or what? Pena finally defeated the wind and went yard to put the Cubs ahead 2-1 early on and the rest of the team followed suit. Lots of timely hitting and hustle from the youngsters again and it’s fun to see guys like Campana, Castro and Barney make a difference in the line up. Granted, Campana kind of looks like that punk kid that end up in the Bad News Bears sequels after Amanda was no longer pitching, but hey who am I to hold that against him. The kid is a welcome sight. I just can’t believe yet another hurdle has been presented in Colvin’s career with the Cubs. With Campana contributing it may take another outfielder to go down with an injury for Colvin to see the big league stage again any time soon.

The Mets continued their struggling ways at Wrigley as expected. If it wasn’t for an outing by Berg painting the picture of a call that could have been made by fictitious Indians’ broadcaster, Harry Doyle, perhaps the brooms are out of the closet. I’m hoping this wasn’t our best chance at it among the three opponents we’ll see but something tells me it was. Still shooting for that 7-2 at the end of the home stand and hopefully the Cardinals will do their part and lose along the way.

Great series and I’ll be talking about it tonight as a guest on a Mets podcast called Mets Public Record. Looking forward to it.

UPDATED 11:55pm May 26: Here’s the webisode. I come on at the 14:50 mark. Fun chat with the hosts about the Mets/Cubs series. Check it out:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/btrplayer.swf

Way to go Cubs. Keep it up. Go Cubs Go!  JIB JAB!