Cubs pummel White Sox

Too many headlines to write here.  Do I talk about Castro or Soriano or Soto or Garza...or Valbuena?  Where to begin?

I joined New ERA for some suds and pub food.  It was a lot of fun.  Especially since the Cubs were playing batting practice at Mobile Telephone Company Ballpark (henceforth known as MTCB).  They slugged a season high 5 HRs and 15 hits.

So here's the recap...

On the mound

Matt Garza looked strong for the first 6 innings, though he did fall victim to a couple of HRs on a windy day at MTCB.  He went 6 innings and gave up just 1 walk and struck out 6, but a couple of HRs by AJ Pierzynski and Paul Konerko led to the only Sox runs.  Considering the conditions, it was a very good performance.

Shawn Camp had 2 scoreless innings and then Manny Corpas closed it out with a scoreless frame.

At the plate

Bryan LaHair started the scoring with a 2 run HR(13) after Starlin Castro reached with a single that he almost literally served between the 2B and 1B, as if he placed it there on purpose.  In the 6th, Castro once again reached out on an outside pitch, but this time he delicately placed it in the bleachers for a 2-run HR (6).  Today it just looked like Castro was just putting the ball where he wanted to.  Alfonso Soriano followed with a blast well over the 400 CF mark, it was his 13th HR of the season.

In the 6th, Geovany Soto celebrated his return with a solo HR, his 4th of the year.

The White Sox closed within 6-3 and then the Cubs put the game out of reach in the 7th.  After David DeJesus was HBP, Castro got his 3rd hit of the game.  Consecutive RBI singles by Alfonso Soriano, Steve Clevenger, and Darwin Barney then made it 9-3.

And then Luis Valbuena happened.

Valbuena has been impressive since his call-up starting with his defense, his consistently good ABs, and his ability to hit for extra base power.  Today he put the game out of reach with a 3 run HR, his 2nd of the year, and his 3rd hit of the game.  Valbuena is making a case to hold on to the 3B job even after Ian Stewart returns.

The Lowdown

The Cubs pounded the Sox here but it's only one win.  But lets face it, it's always fun to put a 12 spot on the White Sox.  It's the worst beating the Sox have taken this season.

Lots of implications off the field today, but it's probably only the beginning.  Expect lots of changes over the next few weeks and the Cubs may have already found a piece for the future in 3B Luis Valbuena.  Bryan LaHair played a solid RF and actually made a nice catch on a drive over his head.

Filed under: Game Recap

Comments

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  • Valbuena was a nice pickup by Theo & Co. Not really sure if he's the regular 3B in 2013, but he could really give them some versatility off the bench along with Mather in the next few years.

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    I think his most likely role is utility guy, but he may get an opportunity to be a stopgap guy. And who knows, once you get that opportunity...

    Valbuena was once considered a pretty nice prospect who could be something of a late bloomer, like LaHair. Unlike LaHair, he hits lefties and plays good defense. I think he has a shot.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I was a bit on the fence about trading Barney at first but if Valbuena keeps up his solid play I think you go ahead and package Darwin. You can potentially obtain better prospects while not losing a whole lot of production at 2b, and I believe they are the same age. Why not make the move and just let Valbuena play it out. Our 2b prospects are mostly at the lower levels so he could be a nice stopgap.

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    Non-thread related: Andrew Cashner is back in AA. He started tonight for San Antonio going 5 innings while giving up 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB and striking out 9.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    He's beasty. If he can stay healthy, he's a frontline guy.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I hope, for the sake of all involved, that Rizzo has a long and productive Major League career, and I wish nothing but the best for Cashner, even though I think his whole attitude about the trade sucks, but if for any reason Cashner ends up having an appreciably better career than Rizzo, it will be like Lou Brock all over again.

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    In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Wouldnt it be amazing if they both went for MVP and Cy Young a few years from now? The ability is there for both. This could go down as one of the best trades the last decade. maybe Beckett/Ramirez worthy?

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Thank you for the positive win-win energy. Like Len said in tonight's broadcast; "I don't understand the lack of respect" (referring to D. Lowe v D. Baker comments).

  • Where did we pick-up Luis Valbuena again? Hawk mentioned that Valbuena always hit the Sox hard and I don't ever remember him hitting against the Sox. Anyone but Ian Stewart is fine by me.

    This line-up was a lot more fun. I know Arguello is worried about the outfield mobility and rightfully so. But at least it had some pop. That's been my bigest beef with the Theocrats. Defense, athleticism and youth are wonderful things to have. But they woefully undervalued slugging. Maybe that's by design. But going forward this team needs to find ways to add power. Rizzo will help but it can't stop there.

    This win was nice. But Cooter Wood and Randy "What the hell have I done to earn a Start?" Wells are next. Here's hoping.....

  • In reply to felzz:

    I think slugging is just harder to pick up than defense. And if you want to stay competitive, speed and defense is a way to do it without giving up much in the way of assets and/or long term deals. I think when the time is right, they'll add power.

    Valbuena was a free agent pickup who came up with Seattle and then had spent some time with the Cleveland Indians. He played with Toronto this spring, but he did awful and got waived. Too much stock put in spring training sometimes. This guy can hit and play a little D.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks, John. I've had the chance to watch bits and pieces of the last few games (damned night shifts) and I've seen some nice defensive plays by our Cubbies. I've also seen more than a few weakly hit grounders to the opposing infield.

    So far, I'm a big fan of Valbuena. Like you said; he can hit and play some D. Color me "Happily surprised".

  • In reply to Bobby Douglas:

    Same here. He was hitting well in Iowa, but so was Cardenas. Valbuena,though,has been here before and maybe hes finally ready to hit at this level.

  • Most satisfying win of the season. Not only because they shellacked the Sox, but it's nice to see some of the youngsters rake. Valbuena looks like a viable replacement for Stewart... who knows? Maybe he'll even be able to keep the position until Baez or Vitters is ready.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    I think he can at least be viable until Lake or Vitters are ready, maybe more. Could be just that things are starting to click for him.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I actually think he'd have even more value at 2b. Maybe give us flexibility to package Barney for better prospects as well?

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Why? Barney is a solid player. They don't have a 3B who is performing well. Valbuena could be that solid defender/good approach/good bat they're looking for. As far as future candidates, he has outplayed Vitters in AAA and is still just 26. Lake is no sure thing and neither he nor Vitters are ready, and they may not be ready next year. I think if Valbuena continues to play well, you give him the job and see if anyone can take it from him.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    ^^This.

  • Off topic just read a suntimes article with garza defending soriano as a player in light of his recent hustle controversy. 1 reader commented blasting some cub fans and went on to say that this controversy is mainly local reporters faults and how they say that soriano doesn't earn his salary yet they don't even earn their own salaries as they basically all copy each others work. He went on to say the only writer earning his keep is John arguello. Haha I thought it was funny wen I was reading it and couldnt agree more. Keep up the good work John and Tom your the only writers in town whose opinions I respect regarding cubs baseball

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Ha! That's great. Thanks for that!

  • Corpas just *looks* like a closer. His build, come and get it fastball, the I don't give a shit attitude. Just has that feel about him.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I like his attitude. That fastball isn't what it used to be, mostly high 80s, though he did hit 92 once yesterday. Ideally I wish he threw harder, but he does change speeds and arm angles, and he has good command...so he makes the most of what he has and gets the job done.

  • I think we're selling I. Stewart a little short right now. I'm hoping he can fix whatever is wrong with his wrist. Hopefully it's just a nerve problem that can be fixed with surgery. I still believe in him, and think he can be a 20-25 HR guy all while playing solid above-average defense at 3B next yr. He is also very patient and seems to have a good eye at the plate. I like I. Stewart and think we should stick with him.

    L. Valbuena, well I like how he's produced thus far. Can he keep this up? His previous MLB experience says this is a fluke, and he'll regress back to his career mediocre #'s pretty soon. IF he can keep this production up, all the better but I seriously doubt it.

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    I'm cautiously optimistic with Valbuena. He's been awful before, but he's still 26 so I suppose he could have figured it out. Our collective experience with LaHair should teach us that this sort of thing does happen. And recall that Theo doesn't believe in the AAAA player.

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    Wrist problems are tough on a hitter and nerve issues can be tricky, so I wish him the best. He does have a great approach and good power when he's healthy. That's the big IF right now.

    As for Valbuena, players don't always regress to past numbers. There's always that possibility that a player has simply improved, something we can't always predict. We can't count on it either, but that's why you let him play and see if it's for real.

  • In reply to I miss Ron Santo:

    Exactly what I was thinking, too, Sir. I think it's still too soon to close the door on Stewart. How bad did D.Lee look after his wrist injury?

  • In reply to lokeey:

    I really hope Stewart comes back strong, because I like him as a player and he just seems like a great guy. I have a feeling the Cubs may allow that wrist to heal for a while before bringing him off the DL, though.

    The comparison with Lee for me is good, except for one thing. Lee was a great player before the injury and wasn't quite the same when he came back. Stewart has talent but has not yet been a great player so you have to worry about a dropoff from him as well.

  • Valbuena is only 9 HR away from the mighty Steve Ontiveros career total. Yes!!

  • In reply to eaton53:

    Ontiveros only had 24 career HRs? Wow.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yep... 24 career HR's.
    "Good Cubs 3B" is kind of an oxymoron since they have been so few and far between.
    Kind of like "Good Bears QB".

  • In reply to eaton53:

    Only A-Ram since Santo. It's been a troublesome spot for them.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Don't forget Bill Madlock. He was a heck of a ballplayer.

    So of course, the Cubs got rid of him and he went on to do great things with the Pirates.

  • In reply to eaton53:

    Bill Madlock was my first favorite player. I remember being very upset when they traded him for Bobby Murcer and Steve Ontiveros, who had no chance to win me over even if he did play well :)

  • I think it might be too early to trade guys and insert AAA BAD ASS, Valbuena. He's definitely proving that he belongs, but it's only been a handful of games. I still like Barney Rubble. Wouldn't let him go just yet.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    I agree they shouldn't trade these guys for the sake of doing it, but it depends on what you're offered. You have to balance things out. If a team makes an offer for Barney that brings the Cubs surplus value, you obviously have to take it, especially noting that you have guys like Adrian Cardenas and Luis Valbuena who are ready to step in and if you feel that you won't lose much, maybe you make the deal.

    But Barney is an asset for the Cubs because of his solid play, youth, and low cost. The Cubs will only trade him if they feel they'll get excellent value in return.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Exactly! Unless you get excellent value in return, don't mess with the formula.

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