Chicago's Inside Pitch
MILWUAKEE -- After a promising start to this 11-game road trip, the Cubs are trying to avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the Brewers. The trip began with the Cubs taking two of three in Cincinnati before they lost three of four in Pittsburgh and the first three here.
“Going to Cincinnati and winning two out of three there, obviously, it hasn’t been real good at scoring runs and solidifying innings,” said manager Dale Sveum. “The bottom line is Pittsburgh, their pitching is going to hold you down. They were all close games, in every game. And here, once again, we just haven’t played very good.”
We’ll delve more into the offense for our take in tomorrow’s paper. But for this road trip, the numbers have not been good. Let’s take a look:
It was another busy, eventful and strange night at Miller Park last night, when the Cubs fell 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning on Logan Schafer’s bases-loaded suicide squeeze bunt. We’ll talk about that play in a sec, and we’ll also let Cubs president Theo Epstein go unfiltered on a number of topics. We can do that here in the blog because of the time-space continuum doesn’t hamper us here. And the readers seem to like it.
MILWAUKEE -- We’ll get to a few things today in advance to Game 2 of the Cubs-Brewers series here at Miller Park. We had a chance to meet with team president Theo Epstein for about a half-hour. We’ll flesh it out in the paper tomorrow, but here are a few tidbits and highlights:
--Theo said he believes manager Dale Sveum has done a “remarkable” job in keeping the clubhouse together through two difficult season. Epstein did not say Sveum is on the hot seat, but he said the manager is being evaluated.
Had a great talk with Paul Konerko this afternoon before the White Sox opened a three-game series against the Twins.
The Sox’ long-time captain was typically insightful, particularly when talking about the franchise’s worst season since 1970.
Read more in tomorrow’s paper, but here is a sample of what Konerko thinks of the White Sox’ 58-91 season:
“These seasons happen,” he said. “Next year, there will probably be some other team that has to deal with this. Every year there seems to be a team or two - one in each league - that just, the season won't let you in. That's been us.”
I respect Konerko’s decision to wait until after the season before deciding if he’s going to play again next year or retire. His contract with the Sox is up at the end of this season.
It should come as no surprise that shortstop Javier Baez was named today the Cubs’ minor-league player of the year. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks was named the organization’s pitcher of the year. The two will be honored Sept. 21 at Wrigley Field during a pregame ceremony.
Baez played for both Class A Daytona and Class AA Tennessee this season, putting up a combined line of .282/.341/.578 for an OPS of .920. Between the two stops, he hit 37 home runs, drove in 111 runs and stole 20 bases.
Congrats to the Cubs’ Class A Daytona affiliate for winning the Florida State League championship Monday night with a 4-0, 1-hit victory over Charlotte. Starting pitcher C.J. Edwards combined with reliever Ryan Searle on the 1-hitter as the Cubs won their second Florida State League title in three years.
Elsewhere, Class AA Tennessee was eliminated from the Southern League playoffs with a 7-4 loss to Birmingham. Javier Baez hit a long 2-run homer for Tennessee, which lost the best-of-five series three games to two.
Class A Boise fell 5-0 to Vancouver, which claimed its third straight Northwest League title.
If the White Sox are miserable again in 2014, general manager Rick Hahn is going to be sitting on a pretty hot seat right about now.
But with less than a full year on the job as GM, very few fingers are being pointed at Hahn as the Sox mercifully near the end of what could be their worst season since 1970 (56-106).
"I'm not spending a lot of time thinking about what could have been," Hahn said Monday afternoon before the White Sox opened a 10-game homestand against the first-place Tigers. "Our focus is more on hopefully getting the most out of the next 20 games, seeing some of the young guys contribute and put in position to demonstrate what they're capable of doing, and then hit the ground running once the off-season begins."
Last off-season, Hahn was pretty quiet.
Even with the Bears playing at noon today, we’ll do our usual Sunday brunch blog as we delve into several topics. The Cubs made more roster moves today. They activated pitcher Scott Baker off the 60-day disabled list and designated infielder Cody Ransom for assignment. Baker is making his season debut after a long comeback from Tommy John surgery.
Ransom played in 62 games for the Cubs after being picked up off waivers in April. He put up a line of .189/.286/.420 with 9 homers and 20 RBI. All of Ransom’s home runs came before the all-star break. Since the break, he went 5-for-61.
A colleague asked Cubs manager Dale Sveum about the possibility of Darwin Barney winning his second consecutive Gold Glove at second base this year. The Gold Glove was a hot topic last year because of Barney’s errorless streak and the fact that he was trying to unseat incumbent Brandon Phillips of the Reds. This year, there hasn’t been much talk.
“He hasn’t done anything for anybody to take it away from him,” Sveum said. He’s had a heck of a year defensively again. The way he turns the double play, tough double plays and all that, (he’s) the incumbent. Somebody has to take it away from him. I don’t see anybody being able to take it away from him.”
The Cubs made a little news this morning when they said right-hander Scott Baker will come off the 60-day disabled list Sunday and start the series finale against the Brewers. That will push Travis Wood to Monday against his former team in Cincinnati.
Baker underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2012 while with the Twins. He made 1 start for the Cubs in spring training after signing a one-year, $5.5 million contract with them last fall, but he suffered a setback and has been trying to come back ever since.
“He’s done everything that we’ve asked, and he’s worked his butt off,” said manager Dale Sveum. “There hasn’t been any setbacks, and I think he deserves a chance to start and see what happens.”