Tag:Chicago Cubs
Posted on: April 5, 2010 4:32 pm

Welcome to Chicago, Marlon Byrd

There was all kinds of talk this winter about the Cubs upgrading by landing Marlon Byrd and dispatching Milton Bradley to Seattle.

Well, funny how those things work.

For all the talk of chemistry, harmony and camaraderie, Byrd showed in the first inning in Atlanta on Monday how this upgrade could work by blasting a three-run homer against Derek Lowe.

And that's the bottom line: Forget the chemistry talk. If Byrd hits -- something Bradley didn't do last summer in Wrigley Field -- then it will be a huge upgrade.

If he doesn't, it won't matter if the Cubs' clubhouse is a happier place. Bottom line.

Meantime, Byrd becomes the first man to homer in his first at-bat as a Cub since Henry Rodriguez against Florida's Livan Hernandez on March 31, 1998.

I have a feeling he's won over Cubs fans already.

Posted on: March 18, 2010 11:43 am

Cubs hope Rudy Jaramillo is a hit

MESA, Ariz. -- One of the Chicago Cubs' biggest additions will not step into the batter's box this season. Nor will he throw a pitch.

Nevertheless, the Cubs think new hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo's presence is felt in a big way.

One of the most respected hitting coaches in the game, Jaramillo comes to the Cubs after a 15-year run in Texas. During that time, hitters under Jaramillo's tutelage won 17 Silver Slugger awards, four Most Valuable Player awards and three RBI titles. He worked with such hitters as Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro, Ivan Rodriguez and, yes, Alfonso Soriano during Soriano's two seasons with the Rangers (2004-2005).

Soriano, who dropped off the table offensively last season (.241, 20 homers, 55 RBI), is one reason the Cubs awarded Jaramillo, 59, a three-year, $2.4 million deal. The Cubs must get him going if they are to succeed in 2010.

So far, he's delivered a similar message here in the desert to what Soriano heard from him in Texas: Stay back on the ball. You see it longer that way. And load your power on your right (back) leg while preparing to spring forward with your swing.

"Same thing as when I play in Texas," Soriano says. "He tells me every day what I have to do. He reminds me, your power comes from your right side. It's like a teacher."

The best hitting coaches are exactly that, like an old teacher who had an exceptional way of making the complicated things seem simple.

From Jaramillo's perspective, new team and new league, he's mostly just trying to get the lay of the land this spring.

"I'm just still trying to win these guys over," he says. "I'm not trying to over-coach them. The key is to win their trust as we go. Situational hitting, two-strike approaches, things like that."

He knows all about the struggles last year of Geovany Soto (.218), Mike Fontenot (.236) and others. He knows Kosuke Fukudome hit just .259 last year after hitting .257 the year before, and how Piniella dreams of getting Fukudome up to the .280-.285 range.

"You've got to give him time," Piniella says. "He's basically familiarizing himself with all of the hitters. He's got a nice program going. We're pleased, we really are. But it's going to take him a little time."

Says general manager Jim Hendry: "I think Sori is going to benefit from Rudy. When you add a guy like Rudy, you're getting one of the best in the game."

"I still have a lot of learning to do," Jaramillo says. "Hitters, opposition parks ... that will come with time. I feel like I'm running out of time [with spring training down to just two weeks left], basically.

"But now, as they start sending some kids out [to the minors via roster cuts], I can focus one on one with some of our guys and try to win their trust."

Likes: Leadoff man Juan Pierre looks just as quick in a White Sox uniform as he did in every other uni he's worn. But how will the 10-year National League veteran (Rockies, Cubs, Marlins, Dodgers) take to the American League? "They've still gotta throw it over the plate," he says, smiling. "And the bases are still 90 feet apart." ... Douglas Thompson's biography of Clint Eastwood is an entertaining read, as you would expect from a book that's entitled Clint: The Biography of Cinema's Greatest Ever Star. One of the best anecdotes comes from the filming of A Perfect World, when Kevin Costner walked off the set when an extra kept flubbing his lines. Eastwood simply told Costner's double to step in and filmed that scene and another without the high-maintenance actor. To hear Thompson tell it, Costner was stunned -- and properly chagrined -- when he reappeared later and Eastwood essentially told him they moved on and that's not how you behave. ... A terrific tournament run came to an end (sigh) when the Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central Falcons were beaten in the Regional Championship of the Michigan High School boys' basketball tourney Wednesday by Napoleon 45-43.

Dislikes: How about the USA Today story Wednesday about pet funerals? Some folks are paying $2,000 or $3,000 for a casket, viewing and funeral for Fido. That's insane. Look, I dig my pets (two cats and a dog) as much as the next person, and my wife probably digs them even more than me. But I'd have her committed (and she me) over a suggestion to put out major bucks for an elaborate kitty funeral. People are nuts.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"And he yells, and he roars
"Loves the Stones, hates the Doors
"Thinks the Beatles sing for girls
"He's a moonshine guy in a six-pack world"

-- Jason & the Scorchers, Moonshine Guy


Posted on: December 18, 2009 2:54 pm

Cubs finally unload Milton Bradley

Pour the extra egg nog in Wrigley Field: The Chicago Cubs finally have unloaded troubled outfielder Milton Bradley, trading him to the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Carlos Silva. The Cubs also will receive $9 million in cash in the deal, an official with one of the teams involved told CBSSports.com.

The trade gives Seattle the productive outfield bat it's been searching for -- the Mariners were in on free agent Jason Bay, to a degree -- and boils down to an exchange of bad contracts.

Silva is due $25 million over the next two seasons and Bradley is owed $22 million.

Of the money the Cubs will receive, $3 million is to cover the difference between the two salaries. The other $6 million will be spread over two seasons, 2010 and 2011, and essentially provide the Cubs with salary relief of the Bradley/Silva contract (whichever way you want to view it).

The money will help the Cubs "fill in the cracks", as general manager Jim Hendry puts it, as they continue building their 2010 club and recover from a bitterly disappointing '09. The Cubs' chief priorities are to find a center fielder -- Marlon Byrd, a free agent who played with Texas last summer, is one of the possibilities -- and bullpen help.

The Cubs hoped the switch-hitting Bradley would do that last summer, but he got off to a bad start and never did recover. He was aloof, got into it with manager Lou Piniella, ripped the atmosphere surrounding the team (saying he could understand why the Cubs haven't won a World Series in more than 100 years) and essentially was kicked off of the team, with Hendry sending him home before the season ended. Bradley hit .257 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs in 124 games for the Cubs.

Silva, meanwhile, was a colossal disappointment after signing a four-year, $48 million deal with the Mariners as a free agent following the 2007 season. He won five games in two seasons with the Mariners, averaging a tidy $4.8 million per win. The Cubs will look at him both as a fifth starter candidate and as a long relief possibility.

As for Seattle, this is one more move in a busy offseason. The Mariners this week acquired ace left-hander Cliff Lee and earlier signed free agent third baseman Chone Figgins. Bradley is expected to play left field for the Mariners.

Under GM Jack Zduriencik, the Mariners have emphasized character in their clubhouse as well as talent on the field, and the hope is that veteran Ken Griffey Jr., Figgins and the rest will provide a good enough atmosphere and example that Bradley will behave.

As for Bay, his market appears to be rapidly dwindling. The Mets have made him an offer, but Boston and now Seattle appear to have cashed out on the 32-year-old free agent outfielder.

The domino effect of that probably extends to Matt Holliday, whose odds of returning to St. Louis seem better with each passing day this winter.

Posted on: December 8, 2009 12:41 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2009 12:43 pm

Rangers looking to deal Millwood

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Texas Rangers, broke and awaiting a new owner, continue discussions with Baltimore and other clubs to trade starting pitcher Kevin Millwood and the $12 million salary he's owed for 2010.

The Orioles and Mets have been the most persistent in the talks. Two other unidentified clubs have inquired as well. The Rangers are requiring cash and a right-handed bat in return.

There was some thought that if the Rangers could acquire enough cash in a Millwood deal, it would allow them to pursue a right-handed bat like Jermaine Dye through free agency. That is not going to happen, said one source with knowledge of the Rangers' situation, because even in that scenario, they could not acquire enough cash to shop in the free agent aisle.

Texas' best bet right now toward adding an impact bat remains ex-Ranger and current Chicago Cub Milton Bradley, whom the Cubs are shopping hard and hope to deal this week before the winter meetings end. But that is not going to happen, either, unless the Cubs agree to assume most of the remaining $23 million that remains on Bradley's contract over the next two years.

Posted on: September 20, 2009 10:27 pm

Survivor: Milton Bradley

The next baseball team that takes a chance with Milton Bradley is, unquestionably, the stupidest team in the game.

There comes a day when a guy has to look in the mirror.

For Bradley, that day should have been, oh, like sometime back in 2002 or 2003.

The list of teams that now has chased him away numbers five: Cleveland, the Dodgers, Oakland, San Diego and the Cubs.

Five down, 25 to go.

He got into it with manager Eric Wedge in Cleveland. Engaged in a bitter public spat with Jeff Kent in Los Angeles. Turned on Oakland general manager Billy Beane. Ripped up his knee when Padres manager Bud Black tried to keep him away from an umpire (in that one, the umpire, Mike Winters, crossed the line in baiting him).

He behaved so badly in Chicago that manager Lou Piniella chased him into the clubhouse and called him a "piece of s---" earlier this summer. Then Cubs general manager Jim Hendry suspended him for the season on Sunday after his me-against-the-world comments to a suburban Chicago newspaper.

"You understand why they haven't won in 100 years here," Bradley told the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights in what should be his farewell comments to the game. "It's just not a positive environment. I need a stable, healthy, enjoyable environment ... It's just negativity."

The next time anybody attaches the words "stable" and "healthy" to Bradley will be a first.

He is an intelligent, articulate man.

But on good days he needs professional help, and on bad days he is a reprehensible human being.

He's out of excuses. Those chips on his shoulder? At times in the past he's expressed bitterness that he's always having to prove himself.

Well, the Cubs took that last excuse away when they signed him to the three-year, $30 million deal. It was his first multi-year contract. No more proving himself. He was valued and loved. What he owed them was hard work and gratitude.

But he couldn't even do that. And now another team is burned.

No way the Cubs can bring him back now. He's embarrassed the organization, made enemies in the clubhouse, backstabbed teammates who had his back for far too long and essentially flipped Chicago fans the middle finger.

Worst free agent contract of the year.

Now the Cubs are going to have to eat all or part of the $23 million remaining ($9 million in 2010, $13 million in 2011).

Part of it if they can find another team stupid enough to welcome a toxic player into their clubhouse.

All of it if they can't.

Good luck with that.

Likes: Playoffs starting, two weeks from Tuesday.

Dislikes: Looks like the last part of Tiger Stadium is going to be torn down on Monday. Man, that and Ernie Harwell's illness is almost too much to bear.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You see the world through your cynical eyes
"You're a troubled young man I can tell
"You've got it all in the palm of your hand
"But your hand's wet with sweat and your head needs a rest
"You're foolin' yourself if you don't believe it
"You're kidding yourself if you don't believe"

-- Styx, Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)

Posted on: August 18, 2009 8:53 pm

Marmol in, Gregg out as Cubs closer

Out of patience following another jarring, walk-off loss Monday night to start a crucial West Coast trip, Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella has demoted Kevin Gregg from the closer's role. Carlos Marmol will replace him.

"He pitched in the set-up role last year and this year, he has some experience closing, it's a natural progression," Piniella said of Marmol, who is 2-2 with a 3.51 ERA and four saves this season.

As for Gregg, Monday's was his sixth blown save this season in 29 opportunities. Three of those, however, have occurred this month. In eight August outings, Gregg has three blown saves and an 11.25 ERA.

"Look, we needed to try a different approach," Piniella said. "We've been very patient, if you want to use that word. We've lost some tough, tough ballgames. Marmol deserves an opportunity and we're going to give him that chance."


Posted on: June 16, 2009 11:45 pm

Cork wasn't alone in Sosa's 2003 diet

So Sammy Sosa tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, according to the latest leak from Billboard's Hot 104 -- the anonymous list of players testing positive for PEDs during '03 that, in February, turned up Alex Rodriguez.

So maybe he was simply using the PED's "for batting practice -- just to put on a show for the fans. ... I like to make people happy and I do that in batting practice."

No, wait. That was what Sammy said in June, '03, after being caught using a corked bat during a Cubs-Tampa Bay game in what has turned out to be one of the most memorable moments Interleague Play has given us.

As years go, 2003 seems to be a particularly bad (and guilty) one for the man whose 66 home runs in 1998 never looked so small.

No telling what else will be uncovered about Sammy's Summer of '03. But I hope I'm on some deserted island when it happens, because the garbage just keeps rolling in with the tide where I'm at now.

Say it ain't So(sa)!

Truthfully, this falls into the "dog bites man" category of surprises. The summer of 1998 now looks like a failed romance with a girl so far out of your league that you feel stupid every time you look back. Mark McGwire doesn't want to talk about the past. And Sammy Sosa, with Monday's New York Times report, now is doomed by it.

Just another day at the ballpark.

A-Rod, Sosa ... drip, drip, drip.

Only 102 names left to be leaked.


Posted on: May 27, 2009 7:50 pm

In Cubs vs. Umps, umpires will win

Maybe the Chicago Cubs are right and they've been hosed by a rash of bad umpire calls lately.

Or maybe they're dead wrong and totally delusional.

Whatever, one thing could not be more clear in the midst of the emotion:

The Cubs are going to have to get a grip, because there is no way they can win this battle.

While Carlos Zambrano's sensational meltdown against Pittsburgh on Wednesday will be grist for video highlights and high entertainment the rest of this season and beyond, it was the Cubs' third major incident with an umpire in the past four days.

One day after being called out on strikes by plate umpire Doug Eddings, Milton Bradley on Sunday told Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that, following an April 16 run-in with umpire Larry Vanover that resulted in a one-game suspension for Bradley, Vanover's colleagues are out to get him.

Monday night, starting pitcher Ted Lilly was ejected for chirping at plate umpire Bob Davidson over balls and strikes calls from the dugout. Lilly wasn't even the starter that night -- he had pitched Sunday in San Diego. Lilly told reporters that he was run after telling Davidson to "concentrate" more.

Tuesday, Davidson accused Lilly of lying, telling The Tribune's Sullivan that "everything [Lilly] said was bull. Everything I read in the paper that he said was untrue. He never said one of those words. What he said to me, you couldn't print in the paper."

Wednesday came Zambrano's tirade against plate umpire Mark Carlson. Zambrano was just activated from the disabled list on Friday. Now he's certain to miss more time with a hefty suspension.

One thing manager Lou Piniella liked about the addition of Bradley was that he thought the outfielder might bring an edge to the club that at times was soft last year. But they can't keep going on like this.

Losers of eight of their past 10 games, clearly, the Cubs are frustrated. But right now, they have the look of a team that's totally out of control.

If this persists, say goodbye to the notion of any close call going in their favor. The umpires have the final word. Teams have to figure out a way to get along with them. It's just the way it is.

Likes: Zack Greinke just keeps on rolling in Kansas City. He's now gone 14 consecutive starts without allowing a home run. That's a good baseball city in need of a good story, and good for Greinke. ... Baltimore set to summon catcher Matt Wieters from the minors on Friday. The Orioles continue to sail north under president/GM Andy MacPhail, even if they are fifth in the AL East. In Wieters, Nick Markakis and growing star center fielder Adam Jones, and with some young pitching developing quickly in the minors, this is a team that's a year -- maybe two at the most -- away. ... Texting taking a toll on America's teenagers? Very interesting story in the New York Times the other day.

Dislikes: You get the DVD from Netflix, you set aside for a few days, you finally pop it in and sit down to watch it one night and ... it's cracked and unplayable. At least Netflix is terrific in quickly solving the problem, and it happens only very rarely. But you've still gotta come up with Plan B that night.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

" If you want you can get to know me well
We get along so we shouldn't argue
And I don't know, said I don't know
All these feelings, cloud up my reasoning"

-- Matchbox 20, Argue

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com