Progress not always linear, but at least now it is watchable.

Progress not always linear, but at least now it is watchable.

Steve Stone was on the air Friday remarking how team chemistry is reliant upon winning. “No one ever says how much a fifth place team has good chemistry” he said.

Ha! You clearly haven’t watched this Cubs team Stoney.

There are times such as tonight’s nightcap of a double header that you forget this team has over 70 losses already. They play hard and now that they are predominately a young club, they are even dare I say fun to watch.

Don’t get me wrong there are some painful moments still, but at least most are growing pains. At least you know most of this bunch can still learn from day to day and improve. That is what makes this thing at least watchable now.

You want to watch Starlin Castro continue to figure it out both in the field and at the plate. You can see Castro being more selective and driving the ball and it makes you believe a little more in the club's vision for him.

You are happy for Brett Jackson and can see the confidence build with each hit. He says tonight he was finally comfortable at the plate.

Brooks Raley..Not bad. Ok, I won’t get carried away.

Speaking of Castro, he certainly looked more comfortable at the plate himself (HR short of the cycle). This reported deal could have him more relaxed than ever, hopefully not too relaxed. To ease some of your fears Alfonso Soriano has already given him some money advice.

Theo Epstein seems to have pounced at the just right time for the club's sake with this deal, while Castro was going through some of those growing pains himself. It hopefully will be viewed as much as a team-friendly deal in the future as it appears to be now by most experts.

This is the kind of move that used to have me impressed when Cleveland was locking up all their young talent at the first signs of stardom in the 90’s. You may lose some of these deals but you will almost assuredly win a lot more if you trust your organization’s eyes.

In the setback department: during the post game interview featuring Jackson, Matt Garza apparently dropped the ball while a visibly anxious rookie waited for his shaving cream pie. It never came.

Progress isn’t always linear. It can, however, be at least enjoyable to watch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Brad Mills fired tonight. He was with the Red Sox and Theo from '04-'09. I wonder if he'll be on the Cubs staff (bench coach) in'13?

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    Agreed.

    But don't you think we'd be better off trading Castro for this guy: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/brogler01.shtml

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    LOL!

  • John,
    Who were your stand outs for the UA game.

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    In reply to WickitCub:

    One of my friends works and wrigley.. He told me Austin Meadows.

  • In reply to Colman Conneely:

    He's the top player, but he didn't stand out in the particular game until his last AB when he hit a triple that he almost hit out into the teeth of the wind.

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    I'll write a bit more on it later. Had a long day with plans right after the ball game.

  • I am a pro-Castro fan. I have nothing negative to say about his ability as a baseball player right now...

    ...however...I hate his batting stance. I've always hated the open batting stance. I would rather see him with a neutral or closed stance. I think that in the long run it would work better for him and let him put more balls in play with authority.

  • I wonder if Castro's slump for the past month had something to do with the contract negotiations. I'm not trying to pin it on one thing but I think Castro might have tried to do to much at the plate in order to try to get a more lucrative deal. But now that he's got to be a little relieved that he's got the negotiations of his first lucrative deal off his " plate and is financially secured for the foreseeable future he can now go and just play. Like we saw tonight.

  • In reply to sdwyer11:

    It could be a little of both. I posted recently the Cubs were trying to change his approach at the plate and they knew he would probably struggle a bit at first. However, this extension has to make him more relaxed.

  • I am also sensing BJax having a confidence surge and I think you will see some glimmers from here on out of what he can really do.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    I'm getting the same feeling about Jackson.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Oooh that would really make the rest of this season watchable. I saw something in him last night that showed me he is getting comfortable.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Haven't asked you about your feelings/scouting report on Raley thus far.

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    Good article Tom! I don't see this team getting down on themselves or each other. I was at the first game yesterday, and I wish I could've stayed for the second game. They don't quit. I watched the second game at home, and even when it looked like the Reds might come back, they didn't get flustered.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Yes we have to give some credit to the coaching staff for that. Plus it seems Soriano and DeJesus are really setting a good example for the younger guys.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    That is a good Reds team BTW. Cueto was simply filthy. If they get Votto back watch out.

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    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    My second favorite team is the Reds, and yes, it's a very good Reds team, in spite of who is running the dugout, but it could be better.. I was disappointed in how quiet Jocketty was at the trade deadline. They didn't need to make a move to win the division and get to the playoffs, but I wonder what they might be like in the playoffs.

    Cueto is something else. That whole Fernando Valenzuela windup is something else, but what really impresses me is when he is at bat. When he puts wood on the ball, he is out of that box charging down the line. There is a fire in that kid. He plays the game as hard as anyone, and I hope young Cubs noticed it.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Plus it made me laugh the other day when Stone said that about 5th place teams, but this team does have chemistry for a shitty team.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    You just hope that they don't have too much fun as a fifth place team. I think, though, that this is more a case of a bunch of young guys excited to be called up and playing in the big leagues and enjoying that experience. Enjoy it for now, but get down to work, learn, and improve!

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    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Stone wasn't necessarily wrong in anything he said or has said in the past. As for this particular instance, I would add one caveat, and that would be about veteran laden 5th place teams. If this was a veteran laden team, he'd be right, but this is a bunch of kids, and they don't know they're not supposed to be enjoying this, even when they're getting their brains beat out.

  • I was really surprised by the contract that has been reportedly offered by the Cubs. 7 years, $60 million sounds like a great deal (for the Cubs) for a player that looks to be establishing himself has a perennial all star at SS. Of course, it might be argued that as the Cubs improve, he may not be the lone representative of the team, but I really do like his game and believe his development is headed in the right direction.

    Raley looked alright to me last night. He seemed to keep the Reds hitters off-balance, and showed a pretty good change last night. He was probably left in too long, but I thought he did a nice job getting out of too much trouble in the 5th, when he was clearly losing his effectiveness. I don't know that I would predict greatness for him (he still gave up 4 runs in 5 1/3 innings), but there is some promise that he could make a rotation.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    Yeah I wanted to hear what John thinks of him but I'd be excited if he could be a legit back end guy. The more of our own arms we develop the better.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    Agreed. I can see Raley as a 5th starter type.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Good enough for me, do you think he sticks around the rest of the year?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    One thing I was thinking during the game was how much having a guy like Maholm around would help Raley (maybe Rusin?). I think they have similar talents. One thing I saw from Maholm that impressed me this year, was that not only did he change speeds by going from the fastball to a curve, but also changing the speed on his fastball to keep hitters off balance. I wish we had that older, "crafty" left-hander around to do that.

    I don't think he's a top of the order starter, but the stronger/smarter your fifth guy is, the better the team is.

  • In reply to TheSinisterUrge:

    True, maybe they can find another one. Maholm did get us a nice haul in Vizciano so no regrets there.

  • This was a fun game to watch. Redmond looked to be a AAA pitcher with average stuff making his 1st MLB start. Similar to Raley in his first outing. Good to see the Cubs bats take advantage. While I'm happy for Jackson to get his 1st homer, my enthusiasm is somewhat contained until he does that vs. a real MLB pitcher. Interesting that Sveum allowed Vitters to fail against Cueto, but no freebies for him vs Redmond. I'd rather have seen Vitters at 3B, slide Valbuena to 2B, and Cardenas to LF, and leave Mather on the bench... But that's just me.

    Over all I liked what I saw and it's always good to see them have some success.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    If they aren't going to play Cardenas then they should send him to Iowa so he can get some ABs. As a former 1st round pick, he needs it more than Amezaga who last I heard has been bringing a walker out onto the field lately.

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