The Cubs have reportedly dealt infielder/outfielder Jake Fox and infielder Aaron Miles to the Oakland Athletics for three prospects.

The Cubs surely wanted to get rid of Miles and his $2.7 million owed in 2010. And obviously they weren't going to find a team to just take that right off their hands for nothing, so in came 26-year-old Jake Fox. Fox hit 11 homers and had a .779 OPS for the Cubs in 241 plate appearances in 2009, after leading the minors in homers, runs batted in, and batting average during his Triple-A stint earlier in the year. Miles on the other hand was a disaster for the Cubs, batting just .185 with a .466 OPS after signing a two-year, $4.9 million contract in the offseason.

No word yet as to what prospects the Cubs got in return. We'll update when the information becomes available.

UPDATE: According to Joe Hamrahi of Baseball Daily Digest, the Cubs acquired pitcher Jeff Gray, outfielder Matt Spencer, and pitcher Ronny Morla from the A's.

UPDATE: Jeff Gray was selected by the A's in the 32nd round of the 2004 draft. He's a 28-year-old 6'3", 205 pound right-hander. He pitched in 24 games out of the bullpen for the A's in 2009, putting together a 3.76 ERA, with 19 strikeouts and only four walks in 26.1 innings pitched. He gives up a lot of hits, but has walked just 86 batters in 370.2 minor league innings pitched. He could be a part of the Cubs bullpen in 2010.

Matt Spencer, 23, was a third round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2007, and was then packaged in the Joe Blanton trade to the A's. He hit .289, with 19 homers, 91 runs batted in, and had an .833 OPS between Single-A and Double-A in 2009. He pretty much seems like a left-handed version of Jake Fox, as he has lots of power and appears to be a bad player defensively at first base and the outfield. He had six errors in 50 games in left field this past season.

Ronny Morla is a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher out of the Dominican Republic. He spent 2009 in A-ball, where he went 1-7 with a 4.86 ERA. He struck out 73 batters in 64 innings, and has 239 strikeouts in 256.1 career innings in the minors.

UPDATE: The Cubs also are eating $1 million of the $2.7 million owed on Miles' contract this season. Therefore, they must think highly of these prospects to toss in Fox on top of that.

UPDATE: From payoff_pitch(Northwest Herald) on Twitter:

Jim Hendry describes Gray as a "power arm," likens to Guzman's. Says he can throw 95-97, will compete for a bullpen spot.

"He's got the stuff to be able to pitch in any area of the bullpen if he just harnesses it a little better."
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Could the Cubs really be in the bidding for 21-year-old phenom Aroldis Chapman?

Cubs Interested In Aroldis Chapman... But He's Going To Have Quite The Price Tag (MLB Trade Rumors)

Starlin Castro Superstar (waxpaperbeercup)

Cubs Potential Offseason Targets: Kelly Johnson
(The Cub Reporter)

A Lot Of Suitors For Milton Bradley? (Bleacher Nation)

Cubs To Seek New Spring Training Complex In Mesa
(Bleed Cubbie Blue)

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Last week we wrote about the Cubs being in talks with Rudy Jaramillo to be the new hitting coach, and why it made sense. Well, apparently the Cubs felt it made sense too, so much so that they gave Jaramillo more money than many of their players will be making over the next few years.

According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs and Jaramillo have agreed to a three-year, $2.42 million contract:

The Cubs will announce Wednesday that former Texas Rangers hitting instructor Rudy Jaramillo has signed a three-year, $2.42 million contract to become Chicago's next hitting coach, player sources told ESPNChicago.com on Tuesday.

Jaramillo and his wife will fly to Chicago Wednesday to meet with Cubs officials and attend a mid-afternoon press conference after he officially signs his new contract, sources said. The Cubs' new hitting coach was the second highest-paid coach in baseball in 2009. St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan reportedly made $850,000 last year and has been the highest-paid coach in baseball for a number of years.
Link(ESPN Chicago)

It might be overpaying, but I think it's a solid move for a Cubs team that's going to need to improve their offense mainly from within. Now Jim Hendry will likely focus on unloading Milton Bradley, even though Bradley led the American League in OPS with Jaramillo as his hitting coach in 2008.

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There's been much talk over the last few days about Rudy Jaramillo as a possibility to take over the job as the new Cubs hitting coach. Jaramillo was the Texas Rangers hitting coach for the last 15 seasons, but recently rejected a one-year offer to return to the team.

According to the reputable Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated and MLB Network, the Cubs are in talks with Jaramillo and it's likely he'll take the job:
#cubs are in contact with rudy jaramillo about hitting coach job. it is believed he's likely to take the gig.
Link(Jon Heyman's Twitter)

Signing Jaramillo to be the hitting coach really makes a lot of sense for a Cubs offense that greatly underperformed at the plate in 2009. Jaramillo's been very successful in Texas, where offensively they've ranked near the top of the league in major categories during most of his tenure as hitting coach. He helped Milton Bradley(but of course he likely won't be in a Cubs uniform in 2010) lead the American League in OPS in 2008, and Alfonso Soriano put up solid numbers in 2004 and 2005 in Texas.

Sure the Ballpark at Arlington is a favorable hitter's park and Jaramillo's had a lot of talent to work with, but he's a very well respected hitting coach that has received some rave reviews from players. Here's an example from one of the greatest hitters of all-time, Alex Rodriguez:

"Rudy is unbelievably good," Alex Rodriguez said. "He understands hitting, how to work with all kinds of hitters, and he busts his butt to get the best from hitters. He helped me get better when I was in Texas, sometimes making me work when I wouldn't have if he hadn't been on me. I've seen him do it with other guys too."
Link("Rudy Jaramillo could be answer to Chicago Cubs' hitting woes"-Chicago Tribune)

For this Cubs offense, it's going to be more about maximizing the talent they have rather than going out and making major player moves. Sure, adding a middle-of-the-order bat to replace Bradley is very possible, and it sounds like they'd really like to add more speed, possibly by signing a player like the Angels' Chone Figgins. But how far this team goes will be decided by the health of the team, and the performance of players like Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto, who were each terrible at the plate in 2009. Getting them to produce anything like they did in 2008 would go a long way to getting the Cubs' offense back to the offense that dominated the National League that season.

Look for Jaramillo to be signed, and don't be surprised if it ends up being the best addition the Cubs make this offseason.

UPDATE(10/16/09, 1:00 AM ET): David Kaplan just wrote this on his blog:
GM Jim Hendry has been super aggressive since Jaramillo made it known that he would be leaving the Rangers and most baseball executives expect Jaramillo to choose the Cubs. Look for the Cubs to land him and to sign him to a multi year deal worth at least $750,000 per season which would make him the highest paid hitting coach in the game.

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Next up in our "Random Retro Cubs" series, we take a look at former Cubs pitcher Scott Sanderson...

Years Played: 1978-1996.

Teams Played For: Montreal Expos(78-83), Chicago Cubs(85-89), Oakland Athletics(90), New York Yankees(91-92), California Angels(93, 95-96), San Francisco Giants(93), Chicago White Sox(94) .

Position: Pitcher(472 Games, 407 Games Started)

Bats/Throws: Right/Right.

Career Line: 163-143, 3.84 ERA, 1.255 WHIP, 102 ERA+, 1611 K, 43 CG, 14 SHO, 2561.2 IP.

Best Cubs Season: Arguable which one of these years is more memorable and they were both very good seasons for Sanderson, so I'll list both...

1984- 8-5, 3.14 ERA, 1.166 WHIP, 124 ERA+, 76 K, 3 CG, 3.17 K/BB, 140.2 IP.

1989- 11-9, 3.94 ERA, 1.271 WHIP, 96 ERA+, 86 K, 2 CG, 2.77 K/BB, 146.1 IP.

Awards/Leaderboard: 1991 AL All-Star

Top-10 In Wins 3 Times (1980 In NL- 16, 1990 In AL- 17, 1991 In AL- 16)

9th In NL ERA In 1980 (3.109)

Fun Facts: Scott Sanderson was a rarity in that he pitched on two Cubs playoff teams, in 1984 and 1989. Overall, he was on four playoff teams, including the 1990 Oakland Athletics who went to the World Series.

He's currently an agent with the business cards to prove it, and has had clients such as Frank Thomas, Lance Berkman, and Josh Beckett.

My Take: I've always thought Scott Sanderso's career was quite underrated. A career ERA under four in 472 career outings(407 starts) is pretty darn good. He also had a sub-four ERA in 10 different seasons, and double-digit wins seven times, including five straight seasons from 1989-1993. He'd make a ton of money doing that now, although I'm sure he's doing just fine financially as an agent.

Scott's strikeout/walk ratio is what sticks out most to me. He ranks 66th all-time with a career 2.58 ratio, and was in the National League top ten three times for strikeouts per nine innings pitched. Few walks and a lot of strikeouts are quite the combo.

But as a Cub, being a part of the 1984 and 1989 playoff teams are definitely what he's remembered most for. He went a combined 20-14 in those two years, along with a sub-four ERA both times.

Scott recently sang the seventh inning stretch at Wrigley and you could tell that he's a guy that totally gets it in his interview with Len and Bob. I wish the Cubs had more guys like him these days.


Link To Scott Sanderson's Baseball-Reference Page

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Carlos Zambrano returned from the DL Monday... and got crushed by the Nationals.

It's over. (Tales From Aisle 424)

To confirm that it's over, the Nationals went into Wrigley last night and beat the shit out of the Cubs. THE NATIONALS. (Cubs f/x)

Alfonso Soriano could be getting surgery on his left knee.
(Chicago Sun-Times)

Paul Sullivan thinks upcoming free agent Rich Harden could get 4 years/$50-60 million from a team(I think that's absolutely absurd). (Chicago Tribune)

Cubs' chairman Crane Kenney won't be going anywhere when the Ricketts take over. (WaxPaperBeerCup)

Some of the Cubs' 2009 draft picks are already performing well, particularly first round pick Brett Jackson.
(The Cub Reporter)

Is Reed Johnson still alive?
(Bleacher Nation)

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Last night, the Cubs had a heartbreaking loss, again. The one responsible for blowing the game was Kevin Gregg, again.

In the bottom of the ninth inning with the Cubs leading 1-0, Gregg(pictured left) walked the light-hitting David Eckstein in front of the middle of the Padres' lineup. After somehow retiring superstar slugger Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Headley made Gregg pay with a two-out, game-tying double. Following an intentional walk to Kevin Kouzmanoff, Kyle Blanks really made Gregg pay with a three-run bomb to give the Padres the 4-1 victory, and give Gregg his sixth blown save in 29 chances.

Well thankfully, we won't be seeing anymore of Gregg in the ninth inning:

"I think we're going to make some changes as far as what we're going to do in late innings," Piniella said. "We'll have some more tomorrow."

Piniella didn't say who would be his new closer, though Carlos Marmol and Angel Guzman are considered the likeliest candidates.
Link(Chicago Tribune)

This was something I hoped to see after Gregg blew two saves in Florida, but the Cubs reported he'd dealt with a bit of a tired arm, and Gregg said he believed he fixed a problem in his mechanics that had led to him tipping pitches. Tipping pitches or not, you're not going to do well throwing 92 mph fastballs right down the heart of the plate to major league hitters as he did again tonight. They aren't holding softball bats, after all.

In his replacement will be Carlos Marmol or Angel Guzman, and I really believe it's a coin flip as to who the Cubs will choose for the role.

Really, I don't think there's any guarantee Marmol would be better than Gregg in the ninth inning. When Marmol's on, he's the nastiest pitcher on the planet. Unfortunately, we haven't seen that half as frequently as we did last season. While he still has a solid ERA of 3.51 and 67 strikeouts in 56.1 innings pitched, he has a -whopping- 52 walks in that span.

Now move Marmol to the ninth inning where the pressure is on a much greater deal, and hitters are being more patient. They're taking the at bats more seriously, doing anything to get on base. They may even be taking a strike. If Marmol continues to struggle with his control, that's really asking for trouble.

As for Guzman, he's been the Cubs' most consistent reliever all season long. The 27-year-old right-hander has a 2.42 ERA and has walked only 15 batters in 52 innings on the season. He has a superb WHIP of 0.98, and has allowed just a .590 OPS.

The question with Guzman(pictured right), is can he handle the pressure of the ninth inning? It's a whole different animal than any other inning, as I alluded to when discussing Marmol's control problems. We don't know the answer to whether or not Guzman can handle the role, but you don't know until you try him there.

And really, what do you have to lose? Even if Guzman's not what he's been in the setup role, he can't be much worse than Gregg at closer. I feel at this point they have to take a chance and if it doesn't work out, oh well, it wasn't working out before. If he is miserable in the role(which would really surprise me), then give Marmol a shot.

However, if it reaches that point, it will simply be a battle between Guzman and Marmol to potentially be the closer heading into 2010, as the Cubs' playoff hopes will be gone. It's not like those chances are looking great the moment anyway. That could change if they could start holding on to the leads in the ninth though. Who knows, maybe Guzman or Marmol could have an effect on the back of the bullpen like Francisco Rodriguez did for the 2002 World Series champion Angels.

As for Gregg, it's going to be interesting to see what the Cubs do with him. My guess would be he won't be pitching in many more crucial situations. They might be better off just making up an injury for him at this point like they did for David Patton and Andres Blanco(and please can they replace Miles with him now?). That would be the end of his time in a Cubs uniform, as he will be a free agent when the season is over. I don't think there's a Cubs fan out there right now that would have a problem with that.

UPDATE(8/18, 7:30 PM ET): Carlos Marmol, not Angel Guzman, was just named the closer. Marmol better throw the ball over the damn plate.

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Can Cubs pitcher Randy Wells win the NL Rookie of the Year award?

Cubs 26-year-old rookie Randy Wells continues to pitch tremendously. He's allowed just one run in his last two starts over 15 1/3 innings pitched. Up until these last two starts, everybody was talking about what a nice surprise he's been and all, but now, people(including myself) are using his name and National League Rookie of the Year in the same sentence.

I decided to take a look at him and his competition for Rookie of the Year, to see just how good his chances are. There's of course two months left in the season and a lot can change, but these are pretty much all of the players that deserve at least some sort of Rookie of the Year consideration at this point...

Pitchers

Randy Wells, SP, Chicago Cubs: 8-4, 2.73 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 65 K, 23 BB, 102.1 IP.

Case For: He has wins in eight of his last nine starts. Really, he should have at least a few more wins and a loss or two less. In his first six starts, he never allowed more than three earned runs(which he only did once), and never got a win. He hasn't allowed over four earned runs in his 16 starts, 12 of which were "quality starts".

Since entering the rotation, he's been the Cubs' most consistent starting pitcher, and one of the best starting pitchers in the National League. Pitching in such a big market and for a popular team nationally, along with dominating on an ESPN national telecast on Monday help his chances.

Case Against: As I said, he should have a better record, but not everybody on the BBWAA(Baseball Writers Association of America) will realize that. And many put more into W-L record than they should. He also wasn't a hyped prospect at all, and isn't the flashy 95 mph type that some fans tune in to see. Some think he's a fluke and won't be able to get by below-average stuff for much longer.

J.A. Happ, SP, Philadelphia Phillies: 7-2, 2.97 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 76 K, 35 BB, 106 IP.

Case For: Very impressive left-hander that many around baseball are talking about. A terrific 2.97 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 13 starts. 9 of the 13 starts are Quality Starts. He pitched in 12 games out of the bullpen before stepping into the rotation, and had a 2.49 ERA as a reliever.

Until the Cliff Lee trade, he was the most reliable arm in the Phillies' rotation this year with Cole Hamels strugling, and has played a big part in the Phillies having a five-game lead in the NL East. He also got a lot of publicity as being one of the players the Phillies wouldn't give up in a Roy Halladay trade, and pitched three innings in the playoffs last season, so the voters are well aware of who he is.

Case Against: He'll likely need to get into double-digit wins and has only two months to get three more. The Phillies also might want to be careful with him the rest of the way, as they should be in good shape in the NL East and will need his arm in October.

Tommy Hanson, SP, Atlanta Braves: 5-2, 3.25 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 41 K, 26 BB, 61 IP.

Case For: The 22-year-old is probably the most hyped pitching prospect this season and people have paid close attention to him. Great power arm with electric stuff. In a few years when we look back, many think he'll be the best starting pitcher from this rookie class. He has solid numbers across the board, and had a four-game stretch where he allowed just three earned runs over 24.1 innings pitched.

Case Against: He didn't get called up until June and has only ten starts. Unlike Wells and Happ, he's not pitching for a first place team, and while his numbers have been very good, Wells and Happ are better thus far in many categories.

Dan Meyer, RP, Florida Marlins: 2-1, 2.21 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 37 K, 13 BB, 14 Holds, 2 Saves, 4o.2 IP.

Case For: The 28-year-old left-hander is having a great season out of the bullpen for the Marlins. He's allowed just a .193 batting average and .577 OPS. What's been even more impressive is what he's done against right-handers, allowing just a .160 batting average and .460 OPS in 75 at bats.

Case Against: For one, it's possible over half of the BBWAA writers even know who he is. as he's a middle reliever pitching for the Florida Marlins, a team nobody even in that state watches. And while he's been great, you better be a special middle reliever to have any sort of chance for this award.

Alberto Arias, RP, Houston Astros: 2-1, 2.27 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 35 K, 17 BB, 9 Holds, 39.2 IP.

Case For: The Astros' right-hander has nasty stuff, and has been dominating at times this year. He was particularly incredible during a span that he threw 26 straight innings without allowing an earned run.

Case Against: Like I said with Meyer, it's tough for a middle reliever to get votes for this award. Arias' stuff and great streak definitely caught the eye of many, but it won't be enough.

Ronald Belisario, RP, Los Angeles Dodgers:
1-3, 2.42 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 46 K, 20 BB, 10 Holds, 48.1 IP.

Case For: He's been out with inflammation his elbow for about a month, so those outstanding numbers could look even better. He's been a big reason the Dodgers have had one of the best late-inning bullpens in baseball, and has 10 holds. He's averaging 8.57 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, and is holding hitters to a .209 batting average and .572 OPS.

Case Against: Same things I was saying about Meyer and Arias. He's also likely out a couple more weeks so he won't heave much time to help his chances.


Position Players


Andrew McCutchen, CF, Pittsburgh Pirates: .291 AVG, 66 H, 7 HR, 32 RBI, 9 SB, .351 OBP, .491 SLG, .842 OPS, 226 AB.

Case For: He's already one of the most exciting players in the game. He has unbelievable speed that makes him very dangerous on the basepaths, and runs down everything in center field. He can also swing the bat and for power, as we saw last week when he hit three homers in a game. Everybody loves watching this guy play and he's already the best player on the Pirates.

Case Against: He plays on the Pirates. You usually have to be pretty damn good to win the awards in baseball playing on a last place team, but hey, McCutchen appears to be. Not being up until June hurt his chances, as he's only played in 53 games. He'll be starting and leading off in about every game the rest of the way though, so he should have enough at bats.

Colby Rasmus, CF, St. Louis Cardinals: 251 AVG, 78 H, 11 HR, 35 RBI, 1 SB, .308 OBP, .424 SLG, .732 OPS, 311 AB.

Case For: One of the few rookies that's been a contributor since the beginning of the season. He's having a solid year for the surprising first place Cardinals. He's played very well in center field and has 31 extra-base hits. Baseball America ranked him the #3 prospect in baseball before the season, and he's been a very hyped prospect for a few years. Most of the BBWAA members knew of him before he even played a game for the Cardinals because of that.

Case Against: He was terrific in June when he hit .333, with a 2 homers, and a .869 OPS in 84 at bats. However, he's been bad every other month: .662 OPS in April, .703 OPS in May, and a .688 OPS in July. He's 0 for 4 to start out August as well. Overall, his numbers look alright but undeserving of the award at the moment.

Dexter Fowler, CF, Colorado Rockies: .256 AVG, 83 H, 4 HR, 29 RBI, 24 SB, .358 OBP,
.392 SLG, .750 OPS, 324 AB.

Case For: Similar to McCutchen, in that he's an exciting talent that covers a ton of range in center field and is batting leadoff for his team, the NL Wild Card-leading Rockies. He's gotten on base at a .358 clip and has 24 stolen bases. Those two things have played a big part in him scoring 47 runs on the year.

Case Against: Not much in the power department yet, and if that's the case, you need a higher batting average than .256 to please many of these voters, even though he's getting on base a lot.

Gerardo Parra, LF, Arizona Diamondbacks: .280 AVG, 78 H, 5 HR, 41 RBI, 4 SB, .319 OBP, .423 SLG, .742 OPS, 279 AB.

Case For: The 22-year-old has been absolutely clutch this year for the Diamondbacks, getting a bunch of hits in crucial situations. With none on, he's just a .210 hitter with a .589 OPS in 157 at bats. With runners on though, he's batting .376 with a .963 OPS and 38 RBI in 117 at bats. With runners in scoring position, he's hitting .397 with a 1.115 OPS and 33 RBI in 63 at bats.

Case Against: The team he's on doesn't help, and his on-base percentage only being 39 points higher than his batting average won't be good enough for many of the voters with a sabermetrics viewpoint.

Chris Coghlan, LF, Florida Marlins: .265 AVG, 69 H, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 5 SB, .347 OBP, .388 SLG, .735 OPS, 260 AB.

Case For: Everyday player for a Marlins team that is four games over .500. He's been a solid player that's done a lot of things well.

Case Against: Nothing really sticks out in his game. He's definitely behind at least McCutchen, Rasmus, and Fowler for rookie outfielders right now.

Omir Santos, C, New York Mets: .273 AVG, 53 H, 6 HR, 28 RBI, 0 SB, .310 OBP, .428 SLG, .737 OPS, 194 AB.

Case For: Geovany Soto, a catcher, won the Rookie of the Year last season. He's been one of the few bright spots for the Mets offensively. Heck, he has only one less home run than his superstar teammate, David Wright.

Case Against: He's not going to get enough at bats and his statistics are solid but not great anywhere. And he's a backup catcher.

Casey McGehee, IF, Milwaukee Brewers: .323 AVG, 60 H, 9 HR, 34 RBI, 0 SB, .373 OBP, .538 SLG, .910 OPS, 186 AB.

Case For: McGehee has been a huge surprise for the Brewers. He's drilling the ball and given them some nice offensive production at second base with Rickie Weeks lost for the season. The .323 batting average and .910 OPS will catch the eyes of the voters, as well as the 9 homers in just 186 at bats.

Case Against: Only 186 at bats and not an everyday player. While he's been solid defensively at second base, he's been brutal at third base, with an .884 fielding percentage in 28 games there.

Jake Fox, IF/OF, Chicago Cubs: .300 AVG, 33 H, 8 HR, 27 RBI, .344 OBP, .591 SLG, .935 OPS, 110 AB.

Case For: Got his name out there by leading the entire minor leagues in the triple crown categories(batting average, home runs, runs batted in) at Iowa this season. Then he came up to the Cubs in May and didn't stop hitting. He has tremendous power and has 16 extra-base hits in just 110 at bats. He's been a great RBI guy and has a 1.003 OPS with runners on base.

Case Against: Not enough at bats and it's unlikely he'll be an everyday player anytime soon with his inability to really handle any position well defensively. And if there's a Rookie of the Year from the Cubs, it's going to be Wells.

Garrett Jones, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates: .312 AVG, 34 H, 10 HR, 17 RBI, .380 OBP, .679 SLG, 1.059 OPS, 109 AB.

Case For: His first game of the season was on July 1st. He already has 10 homers. He's just absolutely crushing the ball and his incredible stretch that came out of nowhere is getting national attention.

Case Against: It's just 109 at bats so far, he's already 28, and hasn't ever been considered much of a prospect. He's also batting just .146 with runners on and .095 with runners in scoring position. Nine of his homers have been solo shots.


Looking at what he's done compared to the competition, Randy Wells indeed has a great shot at winning the National League Rookie of the Year award. Right now I think it's basically a coin flip between him and J.A. Happ. However, McCutchen is making a late charge and odds are about every voter is a fan of his.

Regardless, Wells is having a superb season and there's no way the Cubs are anywhere close to being tied for first place right now without him. There's no Cubs pitcher I'd rather have on the mound right now. There's no other Cubs player's uniform kids should be buying from the Halloween costume store to go trick or treating this Halloween... even if they wear plus size costumes. That's how good he's been!

But seriously, if the playoffs started today and the Cubs were somehow in, I think he might be starting game two or three. He'd rather have that opportunity than this award.

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Our "Random Retro Cubs" series is back. This time we take a look at the Cubs' "other", but arguably better, rookie from 1989, Dwight Smith.

Years Played: 1989-1996.

Teams Played For: Chicago Cubs(1989-1993), California Angels (1994), Baltimore Orioles (1994), Atlanta Braves (1995-1996)

Positions: Left Field (238 games) Right Field (173 games), Center Field (98 games.) He was also used heavily as a lefty pinch hitting specialist throughout his career, espcially with the Braves in 95 and 96.

Bats/Throws: Left/Right.

Career Line: .275 AVG, 244 R, 497 H, 46 HR, 226 RBI, 42 SB, .333 OBP, .422 SLG, .755 OPS.

Best Cubs Season: 1989 - .324 AVG, 52 R, 111 H, 9 HR, 52 RBI, 9 SB, 31 BB, 51 K, .382 OBP, .493 SLG, .875 OPS.

Awards/Leaderboard: 2nd in 'Rookie of the Year' voting in 1989.

Fun Facts: Dwight Smith burst on to the scene in 1989, hitting .375 over the first few months of the season. He finished the season hitting .324 which would have been 3rd highest in the league, if he had a few more ABs and qualified.

Dwight attended Spartanburg Methodist College, a small junior college in South Carolina, which has produced a slew of major league talent, including, Reggie Sanders, Orlando Hudson and Mookie Wilson.

Dwight loves to sing and is very good at it. He sang the National Anthem several times before games at Wrigley field. The first Cubs player in history to do so. He also sang the Anthem before a World Series game in 1995 in Atlanta.

My Take: Dwight's rookie year in 1989 is really the first year I can say I was a real true die hard Cubs fan. I was just a young kid and had been watching the Cubs on WGN ever since my parents got cable in 1987, but 1989 is when I really started watching a ton of games and rooting hard for them.

That summer I was watching the Cubs play the Mets, with my friend Sam, who was a Mets fan. Dwight hit his first career home run in a Cubs win and then hit his 2nd career home run the next day in another Cubs win. I instantly became a huge Dwight Smith fan, telling my friend how good he was and how he had beat the Mets two days in a row. I started collecting Dwight Smith cards and have a bunch of them still to this day. The rest of that season, I got excited every time he came up, he became my 2nd favorite Cub, only to Ryne Sandberg.

As the year went on Jerome Walton got more and more attention, with his speed and hitting streak and Dwight kinda flew under the radar. I hoped he would win rookie of the year but he finished 2nd to his teammate Walton, despite much better numbers.

Dwight had a few mediocre seasons after that before one more very good one in 1993. Even when he was struggling he was always one of my favorites though. Jerome Walton may be in the history books as that season's rookie of the year, but Dwight Smith will always be my favorite Cubs 1989 rookie.

Link To Dwight Smith's Baseball-Reference Page

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First place... but it will be tough to stay there the next two nights, facing Wandy Rodriguez and then Roy Oswalt at Wrigley Field.

Game: Houston Astros(50-48) vs. Chicago Cubs(51-45)
Game Time: 7:05 PM CT
TV: CSN

Pitching Matchup:
Cubs- Carlos Zambrano (7-4, 3.48 ERA)
Astros- Wandy Rodriguez (10-6, 2.72 ERA)

Lineups:

Astros
1. Michael Bourn, CF (.284, 3 HR, 26 RBI, .753 OPS)
2. Kaz Matsui, 2B (.249, 3 HR, 23 RBI, .632 OPS)
3. Miguel Tejda, SS (.326, 8 HR, 55 RBI, .821 OPS)
4. Carlos Lee, LF (.309, 15 HR, 60 RBI, .849 OPS)
5. Geoff Blum, 3B (.277, 4 HR, 33 RBI, .730 OPS)
6. Hunter Pence, RF (.295, 13 HR, 43 RBI, .828 OPS)
7. Chris Coste, 1B (.256, 2 HR, 12 RBI, .738 OPS)
8. Humberto Quintero, C (.227, 1 HR, 10 RBI, .563 OPS)
9. Wandy Rodriguez, P (.053, 0 HR, 1 RBI, .156 OPS)

Cubs
1. Reed Johnson, CF (.254, 4 HR, 18 RBI, .739 OPS)
2. Ryan Theriot, SS (.297, 7 HR, 37 RBI, .771 OPS)
3. Derrek Lee, 1B (.285, 19 HR, 63 RBI, .881 OPS)
4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B (.331, 7 HR, 25 RBI, .950 OPS)
5. Milton Bradley, RF (.248, 7 HR, 23 RBI, .767 OPS)
6. Alfonso Soriano, LF (.253, 17 HR, 41 RBI, .760 OPS)
7. Jeff Baker, 2B (.188, 1 HR, 8 RBI, .568 OPS)
8. Koyie Hill, C (.206, 2 HR, 10 RBI, .605 OPS)
9. Carlos Zambrano, P (.217, 3 HR, 7 RBI, .691 OPS)

Astros vs. Zambrano Notables
Carlos Lee- .365(19 for 52), 4 HR, 1.113 OPS
Miguel Tejada- .389(7 for 18), 1 HR, 1.000 OPS
Geoff Blum- .156(5 for 32), 0 HR, .416 OPS

Cubs vs. Rodriguez Notables
Ryan Theriot- .476(10 for 21), 1 HR, 1.331 OPS
Derrek Lee- .444(12 for 27), 2 HR, 1.307 OPS
Alfonso Soriano- .071 (1 for 14), 0 HR, .307 OPS

Good to see Derrek Lee back in the lineup, especially against Wandy Rodriguez who he's crushed as you see with the above numbers. It's also nice that Lance Berkman is on the disabled list and will miss this series.

An outstanding pitching matchup tonight. Wandy Rodriguez has allowed just 2 earned runs in 29 innings this month for an ERA of 0.62. And he's of course been a pain in the rear for the Cubs in recent years. He's already beaten them twice this season, but both at home where he's much better. Zambrano has won 3 straight decisions and has an ERA under 3 each of the last 2 months.

The wind is howling out tonight though, so it's very possible this won't be a pitcher's duel after all.

Top of the 1st

On the 3rd pitch of the game, Zambrano gets Michael Bourn to ground out to Jeff Baker.

0-1 on Kaz Matsui. 1-2 count now. Zambrano just misses on the outside corner, crowd disapproves of the non-strike call. Now a changeup or splitter that Matsui barely fouls off. Full count. Bouncer up the middle and Baker rounds it and makes a nice play, 2 outs.

Tejada grounds out to Theriot. Very good sign for Zambrano, working that sinker. With the wind blowing out, that's especially good to see.

Bottom of the 1st

A 90 mph fastball in for a strike to Reed Johnson. Slider swung on and missed. Reed bounces right back to Wandy, 1 out.

3-0 on Theriot. Fastball catches the corner, 3-1. Flies out to center, 2 outs.

0-2 on Derrek Lee who missed yesterday's game with neck spasms. 1-2 count. 2-2 now. Lee continues to crush Wandy, rips a curveball into left field for a 2-out single.

Huge cut by Aramis Ramirez, foul tip strike. Grounds out to Matsui, inning over.

Top of the 2nd

Zambrano grooves a fastball to Lee and thankfully Lee fouls it off. He's crushed Zambrano in the past. And again, 0-2. Better location now off the plate with a fastball, but Lee able to get a piece, 0-2 still. And stupid pitch, one of those fastballs like earlier right down the middle, Lee hits it about 440 feet to dead center. 1-0 Astros.

Too predictable. 3-0 on Geoff Blum now. On a 3-1 pitch, he grounds out to Zambrano. Zambrano threw it about 95 mph to 1st with all day to do so, almost taking Derrek Lee's head off. Geez.

Pence with a blah flyball to left that still carries to the track, Soriano catches it, 2 outs.

0-2 on backup catcher that is playing 1st base today, Chris Coste. You've likely heard his incredible story, was a rookie at the age of 33 and now a useful MLB catcher. Doesn't look good here though as Zambrano blows him away with high heat to end the inning.

Bottom of the 2nd

1-2 on Milton Bradley, batting from his right side which he's hitting .343 from. And raise that batting average as he bloops a single into right-center. Perfectly placed in between Matsui, Bourn, and Pence. Matsui almost caught it, would've been a superb play.

Soriano hits into a 6-4-3 on the 1st pitch. He's now 1 for 15 against Rodriguez.

0-2 on Baker. 2-2 count now. Fouls a pitch off. Nasty curveball strikes him out swinging.

Top of the 3rd

1-1 on Quintero. Quintero strikes out swinging.

Wandy Rodriguez with a 2-0 count, you certainly don't want to put him on base, awful hitter. Good swing here though, lines out to Reed in center, 2 outs.

0-1 on Bourn. 1-1 now. 2-2 count. Fastball misses to make it a full count. Don't want to put him on with 2 outs. But Zambrano does, ball 4. Expect Bourn to be on the move now.

Sinker low on Matsui. Look for Bourn to go here. Zambrano thinking that and almost picks Bourn off. Very close. Zambrano misses way inside with a cutter, no movement. Now Bourn would be wise to wait until a strike is thrown. 3-0 now. WOW. Bourn runs on a 3-0 count that's in for a strike, Koyie throws a strike to 2nd and they get him. Running on a 3-0 count with Tejada and Lee waiting? Yikes.

Bottom of the 3rd

Koyie Hill strikes out swinging.

1-1 for Zambrano. 2-1 now, he's going to take a huge cut. He does, and doubles to the wall in center. He absolutely smoked that. It hit off Bourn's glove actually, but would've been a sensational play right in front of the wall.

1-0 on Reed. 1-1, and Reed completely fooled by a curveball, 1-2. And again, strike 3.

Ryan Theriot has a 1-1 count. That curveball is really giving the Cubs' hitters problems, Theriot just gets a piece and fouls it off, 1-2. 91 mph fastball located nicely inside, but too far in, 2-2. That curveball again and Theriot grounds to short, inning over.

Top of the 4th

Matsui with a new at bat, and ahead in the count again. It's 2-1 now. Matsui chases a pitch at his head now, 2-2. Kaz shoots a fastball outside into the seats foul. Fastball at the letters called for a strike 3. Borderline but looked like the right call.

Slider strike to Tejada, who has had success in the past against Zambrano. Another one, this time a hanger, fouled straight back. Don't make an 0-2 mistake like you did to Lee, Zambrano. Slider right in there, fouled off. Go off the plate with it.

2 meatballs to Carlos Lee again, what the hell? Thankfully he pops a hanger into center. Lee's seen more good pitches to hit than anybody tonight, it makes zero sense.

Top of the 4th

0-2 count for Derrek Lee. He hits a BOMB to left. Wow. Brenly just started laughing right when it left the bat. Lee is now 14 for 29 against Wandy. 1-1. Lee's 20th homer of the year, something many wondered if he could do this year. He also becomes 12th all-time on the Cubs homer list, tying Mark Grace.

Aramis smokes one to right-center off the wall for a double.

Milton Bradley grounds out to shortstop, 1 out. Aramis can't advance.

1-2 on Soriano. Strikes out on a curveball.

Jeff Baker hits a rocket on a 2-0 count, nice backhanded stop by Blum, throws him out to end the inning.

Top of the 5th

Geoff Blum grounds out to 2nd.

3-1 to Hunter Pence. Ball 4. I'm okay with limiting his pitches to see tonight with Coste, Quintero, pitcher's spot following.

And Coste grounds into a 5-4-3 double play. Nice job by Baker to avoid the barrel roll from Pence at 2nd and make the turn.

Bottom of the 5th

Koyie Hill grounds out to 3rd.

Zambrano strikes out on 3 pitches.

On a 1-2 pitch, Reed thinks the pitch hits him and starts going to 1st base, but the home plate umpire says it hit his bat. It was caught by Quintero, so that's strike 3. Reed's furious. Replay shows he should be.

Top of the 6th

Zambrano walks the #8 hitter, backup catcher Humberto Quintero. Not good.

Wandy batting right-handed to bunt, batted left-handed earlier to hit. Lays down a bunt on 0-1, Lee fields it, tags out Wandy. It may have gone foul but it was a bit too risky so Lee takes the out.

Now a Michael Bourn walk. Ugh.

Matsui bounces to 2nd, Baker flips to Theriot, Theriot throws to 1st with the speedy Matsui getting down the line, it's in the dirt and as usual a great dig by Derrek Lee. Inning over.

Bottom of the 6th

Theriot hits it hard but right back to Rodriguez, 1 out.

Derrek Lee up, doubt he'll see too much to hit. 1st pitch way outside. And again. A hanger and he is right on it with a huge swing, Brenly laughs saying, "OH MY!" Lee walks.

Aramis hits into a 6-4-3 double play.

Top of the 7th

Big inning here with Tejada and Carlos Lee to start it.

2-2 to Tejada. He grounds slowly to the hole at short, Theriot makes a nice play rounding it and throwing on the run to 1st. 1 out.

Carlos Lee rips the 1st pitch into center for a single.

3-0 on Cub-killer Blum, 3-1 now. Flies out to center.

1-0 on Pence. 2-0 and he gets a pitch right down the middle, huge hack, fouls it straight back. Now a splitter, 3-1. A nasty 3-1 changeup swung on and missed full count. Crowd to their feet, runner going here with 3-2 2 outs, Pence with a single up the middle, 1st and 3rd.

1-0 on Coste. 1-2 now. Strikes out swinging on a pitch in the dirt. Zambrano is incredibly pumped, has a huge Tiger Woods fist pump.

Now Shawn Johnson sings the 7th inning stretch. Awkward interview surely on the way.

Bottom of the 7th

1-2 on Bradley. 2-2 now. Hits a rocket to Blum like we've seen a few times tonight, 1 out.

Soriano has no chance against Rodriguez. 1-2 count. Strikes out on a pitch in the dirt, he's saying he made contact though and arguing. He's pretty pissed.

Jeff Baker crushes one deep into right, double that bounces off the wall.

They're intentionally walking Koyie Hill to get to Zambrano, wow.

But Zambrano of course grounds out immediately to shortstop.

Top of the 8th

Aaron Heilman replaces Zambrano.

Matt Kata pinch-hitting, broken bat blooper into right-center, Jeff Baker makes the catch, 1 out.

Now Pudge Rodriguez pinch-hitting for Wandy Rodriguez, 0-2 count. 1-2 now, a fastball right down the middle and Pudge foul tips it into Koyie's glove, 2 outs.

2-1 on Michael Bourn. 2-2, and a 95 mph fastball just misses outside, full count. Heilman misses his spot badly and it's ball 4... but Bourn swings, and grounds out to Lee.

Bottom of the 8th

LaTroy Hawkins in to pitch. Good, even though he's been great this year.

1-0 on Reed. Reed chases a bad 1-0 pitch, fouls it off. Reed looks to bunt for a base hit, pitch is low, barely pulled his bat back in time, 2-1. Pitch high and inside, 3-1 now. Fastball taken right down the middle, full count. Foul ball. Soft liner bounces in front of Kaz Matsui at 2nd and backs him up, plays it well and easily retires Reed, 1 out.

2-2 count on Theriot, fouls one off Pudge's mask. That sounds funny. Full count again, and again the Cubs can't get on base as he grounds out to 2nd.

Lee reached all 3 times but nobody's been on base for him. 2-0 count. 3-1 count, walks.

Aramis chases a curveball out of the zone, 0-1. Next pitch is clearly a strike, called a ball. LaTroy doesn't like it, starts yelling at the home plate umpire, and he's tossed. Wow!

This means Jose Valverde is in now though, yikes. He's the best pitcher on the planet against the Cubs. Aramis grounds the 1st pitch up the middle, looks like he broke his bat and it's not hit very hard, nice play by Kaz Matsui to get to it and flip for the force at 2nd to get Lee on a close play.

Top of the 9th

Carlos Marmol in.

Kaz Matsui leads it off. Fastball at 96 mph outside. Now a 1-2 count after Kaz swings at a slider behind him, a nasty slider in the strike zone taken, strike 3.

1-2 on Tejada, Marmol has his "A" stuff so far. Tejada drills it into center over Reed's head, into the vines, he throws his hands up. Tejada keeps running. Umpire rules it's indeed lost in the vines, double.

They're choosing to pitch to Carlos Lee here, 1-2 count. Very dangerous with the base open. Grounds out to Aramis, 2 outs.

Geoff Blum up in a Cub-killing opportunity. I'm nervous as hell, Swings and misses at a slider, 0-1. 1-2 count. A pitch that the CSN gun gets at 98 mph a called strike 3!

Bottom of the 9th

Milton from the left side has had some slow bat speed, will need to pick it up a bit with Valverde out there. 94 mph fastball blown by him for a swinging strike 1. Ball 1, now a splitter outside, 2-1. A full count now.

Soriano won't be bunting here, takes a pitch high. And again, 2-0. 3-0, now 3-1, now 3-2 as he has a big hack and fouls it off. Bradley runs, and Soriano whiffs on a pitch 3 feet outside, Bradley with a great jump though and beats it at 2nd by a bit. Bad throw though from Pudge.

Runner on 2nd, 1 out. Hoffpauir pinch-hitting for Baker, intentional walk.

Fukudome pinch-hitting for Koyie, ball 1. Fox will bat next and play catcher if necessary. 2-0 count, and swings at ball 3, 2-1. Same spot, takes this time, 3-1. Ball 4 high.

Bases loaded, 1 out for Fox. He was in a situation like this earlier in the year and walked. Nevermind, Lou chooses to go with Fontenot. Fontenot bunts through one on a squeeze, Milton out at the plate. I'm so furious right now. Fontenot then flies out which would've won the game.

2 beyond foolish things there... Fontenot shouldn't have been batting, Fox should be. He has to come into the game anyway. The Cubs burned the entire bench outside of Blanco that inning, and Zambrano already played. And the squeeze with 1 out and the bases loaded? There's no guarantee it works even if the bunt gets down with the force out at home. Not excusing what Fontenot did at all, you do everything effing possible to get the ball down there and if you don't, you should be benched for a bit.

Top of the 10th

Jeff Stevens in.

Sorry I was still fuming over that inning. Basically what happened...

Stevens struck out the 1st 2, then Jason Michaels triples with 2 outs. He would've been out by 15 feet with a good Fontenot cutoff throw, but it's in the dirt and Aramis can't dig it, thankfully Stevens was there to back him up. Stevens then K's Pudge.

Bottom of the 10th

Well Stevens has been very impressive. Good to see after many said the Cubs got nothing in return for Mark DeRosa.

Reed grounds out to Tejada, he's having a rough 0 for 5 night.

0-2 on Theriot. Worst swing of his career on a 1-2 count, strikes out.

2-0 on Lee. 3-0, and he takes a huge swing and fouls one off on 3-0. A 3-1 hanger but he was understandably looking fastball, takes it for a strike. Now another breaking ball, high pop out to right.

Top of the 11

Alright, sorry I'm slacking here, just getting caught up in this intense game.

Bourn hit one about as well as he can the other way to left, Soriano with a nice leaping catch on the track.

Matsui hit one hard as well, caught in the gap.

Tejada absolutely destroys one off the wall in left. Any air under that and it breaks somebody's window across the street.

Now you have to walk Carlos Lee here, and they do intentionally. Stevens leaves.

Sean Marshall in to face Geoff Blum.

1st pitch is a curveball in for a strike. Another curve pulled foul, 0-2. High fastball swung on and missed.

Bottom of the 11th

Slider to the backstop from Arias on the 1st pitch to Aramis Ramirez. Now another one way outside and low, 2-0. Rips one to the right side and it gets under the glove of Matsui, it's a hit though. Hit too hard.

Bradley bounces one slowly up the middle and thankfully it's just to the left of 2nd base and they can't get 2. Bradley on 1st now, 1 out.

Soriano with a bouncer in the batter's box that goes to 3rd, he doesn't run. I thought it hit his foot, apparently didn't. Bradley to 2nd, 2 outs.

NOW Fox is up, and with the base open, they walk him, and now the Cubs have officially emptied their bench as Andres Blanco bats.

Ball 1 Blanco. He bounces out to 2nd.

Top of the 12th

This would be an extremely painful loss.

Jeff Samardzija in.

1-2 on Hunter Pence. Grounds out to Lee.

Chris Coste hits one a mile, but thankfully foul. He eventually pops out to Lee.

Jeff Keppinger batting and bloop singles into center.

1-0 on Pudge. I fear he's going to hit one hard here after striking out in a big situation earlier. Grounds out to shortstop.

Bottom of the 12th

Blah, 2 outs. Somebody is hitting a homer to win this for one of the teams.

Tejada makes an unbelievable play on the run in the hole to get Theriot.

Top of the 13th

This is where it likely ends as Michael Bourn on with a single, he leads the league in steals.

Matsui fouls off a bunt attempt. Sacrifice bunt. I'm shocked they didn't just let Bourn run on Jake Fox.

They pitch around Tejada understandably with the base open. If you score the game's basically over anyway, Tejada a better batting average than Lee and you set up the double play.

0-2 on Lee. Hits into the 6-4-3 double play. I feel smart.

Bottom of the 13th

1-0 on Derrek Lee. 2-0 now. Walks on 4 pitches.

3-0 on Aramis now. Full count, Lee runs, Aramis drils a single into left-center, Lee to 3rd.

1st and 3rd no outs, they're intentionally walking Bradley who is up left-handed, fine by me.

Loaded up for Soriano, Fox on deck. 1-0 pitch, GRAND SLAM TO CENTER! CUBS WIN!!!!!!!

Oh. My. God. That sure took the pain of the 9th inning away. And Soriano's interview after it was sensational. Nobody has any clue what he was saying. Got a pie in the face too.

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The Friendly Linkfines 7/23/09

Posted by Matt Clapp | 7/23/2009 04:40:00 PM | ,

I take a look around the majors, and explain why maybe the Astros should be the NL Central faves (Sharapova's Thigh)

Cardinals trade Chris Duncan, but may be adding a much better bat in Matt Holliday... Ugh (Bleacher Nation)

Is the pressure getting to Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa? (Zoner Sports)

Carlos Zambrano still better than Phil Rogers
(Wrigleyville23)

The statistics show the Cubs have been as bad as we've thought offensively this year
(Not Qualified To Comment)

Down on the farm report
(WrigleyBound)

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