When the neons turn to Wood. Cubs 5 Snakes 1.

When the neons turn to Wood. Cubs 5 Snakes 1.

Travis Wood was a one man wrecking crew, pitching 7 innings, driving in 4 RBI, serving 300 beers, and single handedly stopping the rain while defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-1 at soggy Wrigley Field. The Cubs got to L-platform-guitarist-turned-pitcher Bronson Arroyo in the second inning. Wellington Castillo singled home Starlin Castro. Castro would go to second on a Ryan Kalish single and the both of them would trot home when Wood broke out the whooping stick and drove an Arroyo Junkball into the left center. 4-0 Cubs. Wood would add his own insurance run with a double and come to the plate again with the bases loaded. But alas, he proved to be just a pitcher…. Anyway, Mark Trumbo would homer and nobody would care because that was it for the scoring and your Chicago Cubbies are 2-2 on the home stand. Let's get some dry clothes...


Wood was outstanding. Surrendering that one home run over seven innings of work. Travis gave up 6 hits and walked one while striking out Diamondbacks 9 times. 9 times Mrs Beuller, I'm looking at it right here…..( I've used this Beuller joke before haven't I? Whatever, it's funny.). This was Travis Wood's 27th "quality start" over the last two years. That ties him with Cliff Lee  and puts him only one behind Clayton Kershaw in that category. Granted, it's one rather broad category. But he's still on a list with Cliff Lee, Clayton kershaw and CJ Wilson on it. And if the Cubs are balking at Jeff Samardzija's asking price, look at what those three are making……and Wood is matching them. Just looking down the road. Anyway, Hector Rondon, whose becoming kind of a thing, pitched the 8th and Pedro Strop finished the game off.


Emilio Bona facio has brought over his "lo Viste" hand gesture and nobody has been quicker to join in the fun than Starlin Castro. Anytime one of them gets a hit they immediately turn to the dugout and with their two fingers put a "V" over their eye. as in to say "Did you see that?". It's harmless fun. and it's kind of been lacking from the Cubs the last couple of years. Maybe it helps keep things loose. Maybe it's meaningless. But Castro seems to have a little more swagger to his game in addition to hs improved play. It wouldn't surprise me if hanging out with someone as out going and expressive as Bonifacio isn't providing extra benefits.


Nice bounce back game for Ryan Kalish. I still think Kalish would benefit from playing everyday in the corn, but after a few struggles Kalish went 2 for 4 while playing a solid LF. A better than solid LF if you were fortunate to see Mark Trumbo lumber around the Waveland sided grounds. Yeesh. Kalish might get himself some more time. Here's hoping he takes advantage of it.

So that was nice. Jason Hammel takes the mound against Brandon McCarthy who has been every shade of awful this year for the D-backs. With Samardzija waiting Wednesday and the Diamondbacks kind of road weary and bad to begin with, the Cubs should get their first series win this week. But first things first. A victory, let's enjoy it while it lasts. Onwards.



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  • First to comment today but I hope I'm not the last to say: you are the best Cubs beat writer going. Hands down. Keep up the good stuff! Cheers!

  • Thank you. I'm not a beat writer. But I do what I can. Thank you for reading.

  • Stupid CSN+

  • Travis Wood is striking out a lot of guys now. His swinging strike % is at 10.9, an all time high. If he increases his strikeouts and keeps the walk down then he could emerge as a solid #2 pitcher.

  • I sure hope the Cubs are "goin' up around the bend" and turning a bit of a corner (at least in the short term) with this game. I can't remember the last time they actually beat Bronson Arroyo, so I find that encouraging at least...

    Plus, the Creedence Clearwater Revival reference in the title gave me something else to smile about! (Thanks felzz!)

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    In reply to gocubsgo25:

    Not to be negative, but most of the offense in this game came from a guy that doesn't play offense, except usually every fifth day.

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    In reply to Giffmo:

    And bases loaded, no outs - same old result. If we weren't ahead by 5, that's the inning we'd be talking about.

  • In reply to Giffmo:

    Fair point. But in a season like this one so far, I'll take the positives (albeit with the asterisks) when they come. And as for turning a corner, even if the game isn't encouraging in other respects, you never know what will put a charge into a team; perhaps Travis' day yesterday does that. One can hope at least...

  • Wood looked good (not intended as a bit of poem) last night - and for a guy who has never been known (and who will never be known) as a flamethrower,.... he made some decent hitters look very silly last night.

    Couple that with the RBI night,.... makes me think every Cubs pitcher could win more games if only they knocked in 3-4 runs/start,....


    Onward to game 2!

  • Maybe Samardzija learned just what it takes to get a win on this team, and apparently that is 4-rbi's.

  • I am curious as to why the reports of a Travis Wood extension have stopped months ago. He is a solid #2 starter and has been down right dominant over his last 45 or starts.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Hopefully he's not listening to Smardg. Would like to see us lock him in for a while. He's a smart pitcher like Maddux and will continue to be solid but not spectacular even if he doesn't have TOR stuff.

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    In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I was thinking the same thing. Hopefully we can sign him to one of those crummy 7-year deals soon.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    He's 27yo and under control for this and 2 more seasons. He's not eligible for FA until his age 30 season which will come after 2016. There's enormous risk with pitchers, much more so than position players. Right now, he generates surplus value in his performance vs cost. If we sign him to a long term deal and he ever regresses or gets injured, he becomes negative value... There's plenty of time....

    While he's been very good this past year plus, I think the word "dominant" might be a bit of a stretch.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I somewhat agree but...the way the contracts are skyrocketing, that's why the long term but risk taking extensions are being offered. Sign him until he's 33 and then see where that takes you. By next years the contracts will keep getting more outrageous and his contract like Ejax will not seem so bad even if he gets injured. Although Ejax is just terrible his contract doesn't seem out of line for todays pitchers. If he was pitching well it would seem like a steal to me. I think Wood is less of a risk for a long term anyway. Personally I'm more confident we will get a win with Wood than any other pitcher on this staff.

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    In reply to CubsBuck22:

    I actually think the inevitable trend we will see is an increase in the price of extending players early, thereby making them older when they sign their next contract, and thus less expensive (in years and dollars). I think it's the natural evolution under this CBA. Teams will spend (a lot) more up front to lock guys up through their prime and either let them go after, or sign them to shorter 4-6 year contracts, avoiding the 7-10 year mega-deals for 30+ year olds.

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    Especially now seeing that in a few years and hopefully closer to a title they may need to spend that outrageous money to get them over the hump. I wouldn't want to be held for ransom by Wood and have to worry about how we could afford 2 free agents.

  • In reply to Matt McNear:

    Yep, and the Yankees will be the "assisted living" franchise, spending beaucoup bucks to pick up aging stars approaching retirement.

  • In reply to TheThinBlueLine:

    Can't wait to see A-Rod batting with his Hurry-cane next spring!

  • In reply to CubsBuck22:

    If you're Wood, your only chance for a big contract is to pitch well and hit FA asap at age 30. If we extend him and buyout arb years, we will need FA years for doing that. He has no real incentive to extend now.

    I just don't see the urgency from either side.

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    On a side note, Bronson Arroyo has been really awful so far this year....his FIP is 7.10, so it's not bad luck, just bad pitching.

    Just illustrates the pitfalls of signing older pitchers who rely on finesse. $23 mil down the tubes for the snakes....

  • In reply to Zonk:

    IDK that his age has anything to do with it. His "stuff" hasn't changed. He's just struggling with his command/location.

    To me, what it clearly demonstrates is the danger of finesse pitchers who don't have precise command. Which is why I don't understand all those clamoring for Kyle Hendricks after 10 avg AAA starts....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    I'm clamoring in July if we can trade Ejax somehow. That should be enough of a sample size IMO.

  • In reply to CubsBuck22:

    If he pitches consistently, why get rid of him? If he's still sucking/inconsistent, we can't get anything for him.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Addition by subtraction. Get something for him. Lose his contract and create a spot for Hendricks.

  • In reply to CubsBuck22:

    Would you give anything for him? I'm sure the Cubs would be happy to be rid of his contract if they could, but most likely; we'd have to send a prospect with him to get someone to take on his salary. If he could put together a consecutive string of quality starts, then perhaps. But so far he has n't been able to and Hendricks isn't even close to being ready yet.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Hendricks throws a little harder than Wood and walks very few. Hendricks will get his chance in June or July and have 15 or so starts so as to get a feel for what he is capable of.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Their early stats in AAA are eerily similar... Yet it still took Wood 240+ IP at AAA and 200+ at MLB before he established himself as a consistent quality pitcher last year.

    Ignore the lousy tick or two diff in velocity. Wood's secondaries are head & shoulders above Hendricks right now.

    I don't see what the rush is with an unproven finesse guy. If we sell off SP's at the deadline, then he may get promoted then. Otherwise, whats the rush?

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Could say the same thing about EJax except a power pitcher and it is 50+ million.

  • I think you might be right about Castro. He seems to be having fun again...and that's important. I just hope that he can find that balance between fun and focus. When that happens, we got ourselves something.

  • Platoon? It drives me nuts......
    1. Play a balanced lineup, if you dont have the hitters to do it then,
    2. Play your best hitters.
    But dont play bad hitters in a platoon and let young players sit.

    Last night our right handed hitters against Arroyo (i am not sure of these numbers) I believe were 5 for 7 and our left handed hitters were 3 for 9 (Kalish had 2 of those). Arroyo is getting hit harder this year by righthanders.

    We arent going to the playoffs so let Kalish,Lake & Olt play. Play Bonafacio at 2nd, Lake in CF and Kalish in RF basically everyday.
    Why would we not?

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Absolutely! But why Lake in CF and Kalish in RF? Who do you have in LF?

    I'd like to see a substantial string of games with Lake and Kalish in LF and CF, and with Nate and Ruggiano platooning in RF, Olt at 3B and Bonifacio at 2B. That leaves Barney and Valbuena out and I'm totally OK with that.

    My main point, like yours, is to see what Olt, Lake and Kalish can do with extended play.

  • What separates you from a beat writer? You cover ever game, you get the scoops, you provide analysis on the team. The only thing I can think of is you don't get into the locker room and do interviews.

    Anyhow, I thought it a complement. A beat writer is a tough job and you cover the Cubs every day and do a great job at it. I enjoy reading all your work. Cheers!

  • In reply to svelocity:

    Hear, hear! No "puff pieces" either - it's hard analysis and honest opinion. I hate those locker room interviews. Just once, I wish a player would look the would-be "journalist" in the eye and ask, "How do you THINK it felt to get thrown out at the plate and lose the game, dumbass?"

  • Two thoughts swimming around my head after this game:

    1. What a great weapon to have a pitcher who, in addition to doing his own job well, is able to contribute significantly on offense. It's a pretty big advantage to have a 9 hole hitter who isn't an automatic out.

    2. What a shame to have an offense that consistently produces between 0-2 runs and needs to have their pitcher bail them out. I sure hope that as the weather heats up that the Cubs' bats will too (and more than their opponents).

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    With few options, the Cubs have no choice but to continue to play underperforming players, hoping they can be coached to develop to their potential. As the farm system begins to produce on a regular basis, more options will be created. At some point, performance will (or at least, should) determine playing time, if not a spot on the roster. 15 runs were scored yesterday between the Cubs AA and AAA affiliates - something I'm sure the MLB players are well aware of...

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