Cubs history

King for a Day: the Cubs' One-Time Game #1 Starters

As noted here and everywhere else yesterday, Lou Piniella has decided to give Carlos Zambrano the Opening Day assignment at Houston. It will be the fifth time Zambrano has had the honor; the Cubs have gone 2-2 in Z's previous Opening Day outings.

Fergie Jenkins started seven openers for the Cubs, while Rick Sutcliffe started five, and Rick Reuschel, four. The real fun in looking over this list at Baseball-Reference.com is noting which Cub pitchers got to go in Game #1 once, but never again. Here are the last ten such Cub pitchers:

The Top 10 Best Seasons Ever by a Cub

As part of this Cubs history kick that started with Wiklifield, I had this idea of trying to figure out what was the best individual season by a member of the Cubs. As I started pouring through the research I decided that the burden of annointing the best Cubs' season ever was too much for this humble Cubs fan. Now I realize as a blogger and top 10 list-maker, I'm suppose to just present my opinion as fact and not accept any other arguments, but I decided for this instance to enlist the rest of the TCR writers.

I put together a list of 27 great Cubs seasons and put it to a vote and would weigh it MVP-style (10 pts for a first place vote, 9 for a second place vote, etc). The criteria for this list were all the Cubs' NL MVP seasons and Cy Young winners and then the best of the rest based on sabermetric dominance in either WARP-3 or Win Shares (Lee in 2005) , historical signifcance  (Wilson's RBI record in 1930) or place in Cubs history (Sutcliffe in 1984). Now there may have been a few names that deserved to be in that
original top 27 list over some other names, but I'm sure I didn't miss
the top season. As I mentioned in the poll, just think of it as the
NCAA tournament...there's a lot of arguments on who deserved to be in
the original 65 picks, but those that are left out never really had a
chance to win the whole thing. 

The only instruction I laid out for their votes was to use whatever
criteria each writer saw fit. Some of us have a sabermetric slant to
the world, some like MVP trophies, some just remember what we saw and
its impact at the time and so forth and so on. Transmission, Cubnut, Dr. Hecht and myself ended up participating and our ballots are listed at the end of the post. The final results for the readers voting is also at the end. We by no means believe this is the list to rule all lists, but it was an interesting exercise nonetheless. I mean if Arizona Phil or Christian had submitted their ballots, the final results could have been very different. Also, we tend to believe with our eyes and hearts and I don't think any of us saw much baseball before 1950 - and for some of us - not much before 1980. Speaking for myself, I had a hard time giving double credit for a player, generally focusing on what I felt to be their best season, even if they had a second or third great season that deserved to be recognized. But this is more art than science and the final results certainly are skewed by a small sample size.

Soto Wins Rookie of the Year

As expected, the Cubs field general Geovany Soto took home the NL Rookie of the Year honors. He's the 5th Cub to win the honor and first catcher since Mike Piazza in 1993. He did it on the strength of a 285/364/504 batting line with 23 HR's, 86 RBI's and 66 Runs in the traditional baseball categories. He also created 6.6 Runs per game, had a 7.0 WARP-1 value and was 5 runs above average on defense, those last two numbers courtesy of Baseball Prospectus. That's quite a nice little season that was good enough to get 31 of the 32 possible first place votes, with one yokel probably from Cincinnati voting for Joey Votto.

Brewers Fire Yost...the Chicago Way

Dan Fox offers a historical perspective on the Brewers' firing of Ned Yost while in the thick of the race for the post-season.

Turns out the 1932 Cubs were the first team to change managers mid-season (Rogers Hornsby out; Charlie Grimm in) and then go on to win the pennant. The 1938 Cubs repeated the maneuver (Grimm out; Gabby Hartnett in) and again, the result was a National League championship.

Cub-related names are all over this phenomenon:

Zambrano Answers Questions About Arm Issues with No-Hitter

Well that was kind of awesome...except I walked out right before Derrek Lee's double in the third. So I'll have to relive the glory through those who were witness.

I found out about the no-hitter when I opened my email and one of our readers sent me the parachat screen grab from the end of the game.

Soto, Samardzija Up For Rookie of the Month

It looks like I'm four months late on this, but it appears that Rookie of the Month honors in the MLB is voted by the fans. The Cubs have two nominees, Geovany Soto and Jeff Samardzija and they'll go up against Cardinals reliever Chris Perez and Rockies third basemen Ian Stewart. Soto is looking for his second win of the year and voting runs through Monday.

 Samardzija provided a bullpen boost for the first-place Cubs. In 14 1/3 innings, he was 1-0 and didn't allow a run. Samardzija had 13 strikeouts during the month. Soto won rookie honors in April and has continued to be a firm offensive and defensive presence for a Chicago team that has taken charge of the NL Central. Soto hit .355 in August with five doubles, three homers and 21 RBIs. Soto drew 13 walks and scored 17 runs while handling himself well behind the plate and providing a level of comfort for the Chicago pitching staff.

 

A look at Geovany Soto's year compared to other Cubs catchers of years past after the jump...

Edmonds Redefining Centerfield for Cubs

About a month or so back, a discussion arose in the comments about the Cubs futility at the center field position. Faithful reader "WISCGRAD" took it upon himself to take a look at the situation.


After hitting just .178 with one homerun in 90 at-bats to start the season, the 38-year old Jim Edmonds was released by the Padres on May 9th. He was signed just five days later by Jim Hendry and the Cubs and started the following day against his former team, going 1-4 in 4-0 win. In 100 at-bats since in Cubbie Blue, Edmonds sports a .290 batting average, .374 on-base percentage, and a .580 slugging percentage, having already blasted six doubles, a triple, and seven home runs. His on-base + slugging percentage is a robust .954, which would place him seventh in the National League (just ahead of Matt Holliday) if only his Chicago stats were counted and he had enough at-bats to qualify. (Ed Note: Numbers were for games played before Tuesday, July 1st)

Edmonds’ performance has been a pleasant surprise in the first half of the season, and is most certainly an upgrade offensively over the Felix Pie-Johnson combination that began the season. But how does Edmonds stack up to the production the Cubs normally get from the centerfield position? I decided to find out.

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