Friday, October 26, 2012

Cubs busy making roster moves and staffing changes

Even though it's the off-season for the Cubs, the team has been busy making roster moves and looking for a replacement for former Cubs TV broadcaster Bob Brenly, who accepted a job as the TV analyst for the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this month.

Bob Brenly has accepted a job with the Arizona Diamondbacks
Brenly said, "Working here in Chicago was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my professional career.  The Ricketts family, everyone associated with the Cubs and WGN and, most importantly, Cubs’ fans everywhere, will always be in our hearts, and Joan and I wish nothing but the best for the organization moving forward.  I was very blessed to have the best play-by-play man in the game as my partner for eight years and Cubs’ fans are very fortunate to have Len Kasper as the voice of the Cubs.  I’ll miss working with him and we look fondly toward returning to Chicago in the future."

The Cubs outrighted Joe Mather, Justin Germano, Manuel Corpas and Blake Parker to the Iowa Cubs today.  Corpas then elected free agency.

The Kansas City Royals claimed right-handed pitcher Chris Volstad off waivers on Friday.

On Thursday, the team assigned infielder Adrian Cardenas and right handed pitchers Miguel Socolovich, Jason Berken and Marcos Mateo to Triple-A Iowa. 

The Cubs also claimed right handed pitcher Carlos Gutierrez off waivers from the Minnesota Twins.  In a corresponding move,  catcher Anthony Recker, who was designated for assignment on Wednesday, was claimed off waivers by the New York Mets.

The Cubs claimed RHP Carlos Gutierrez off waivers from the Twins (photo from
On October 23rd, the Cubs named David Bell as their third base coach and removed the interim tag from hitting coach James Rowson.  The 2013 coaching staff is now set.  Bell & Rowson join Chris Bosio (pitching coach), Dave McKay (1B coach), Jamie Quirk (bench coach) & Lester Strode (bullpen coach). 

On October 16th, the Cubs acquired right handed pitcher Marcelo Carreno from the Detroit Tigers to complete the 8/5 trade for Jeff Baker.

On October 14th, Blake DeWitt, Randy Wells and Alex Hinshaw all elected free agency.

The Cubs' 40-man roster currently stands at 33.  I'm sure there will be many more roster moves to come!  Meanwhile, Cubs fans all over the world are happy the St. Louis Cardinals were eliminated by the San Francisco Giants from winning the National League division.  It was fun tweeting with fellow Cubs fans while cheering for the Giants (or against the Cards, depending on how you look at it!)

Are you rooting for the Giants or the Detroit Tigers to win the World Series?  The Giants are currently two games up on the Tigers.  Game three will be played in Detroit on Saturday.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bryan LaHair leads Cubs to walk-off win to end the season

The Cubs ended their rough 2012 season with a walk-off win against the Houston Astros as Bryan LaHair's RBI single scored pinch runner Darwin Barney for the exciting 5-4 win at Wrigley Field on a cloudy Wednesday afternoon.

Darwin Barney and teammates congratulate each other after ending the 2012 season with a win (photo by Karen Burchell)
I was at the game when I saw the @Cubs tweet "We've got two dugout box seats for our final seat upgrade of the season. First person at today's game to send their full seat location wins."  I then immediately tweeted them my seat location and was pleasantly surprised to see Kevin from the Cubs show up to tell me that I had won the seat upgrade!

My daughter and I then moved to the dugout box seats right by the Cubs dugout for the rest of the game.  It was definitely the highlight of my year, as we sat not even ten feet away from Dale Sveum and could always what he was doing to our left.  We were also sitting amongst Todd and Tom Ricketts and Crane Kenney.  Was I dreaming?

Our upgraded seats in the dugout box, thanks to the @Cubs on Twitter! (photo by Karen Burchell)
Our day was topped off with a walk-off win to end the season.  After the Cubs celebrated on the field, Darwin Barney entered the dugout and came out by where we were sitting and gave his bat to someone sitting behind the dugout.  He then looked around and took his batting glove off and threw it to my daughter, who was so excited!  We also came home with Matt Garza's bag and a baseball.

Darwin Barney's batting glove, Matt Garza's bag and a baseball (photo by Karen Burchell)
I would like to give the Cubs organization, especially Kevin and his social media team my biggest thanks and appreciation for making the last game of the season such a special and memorable game for my daughter and I.  It was an experience we will never forget.

I am so impressed and love how the Cubs social media team is so diligent about interacting with fans and making each one feel special.  I was also touched by the tweets from fellow Cubs fans on Twitter congratulating me for winning the seat upgrade.  It really meant a lot and shows just what kind of people Cubs fans really are, no matter if we have ever met in person or not.

If you're not following the @Cubs on Twitter and you're a Cubs fan, you really should follow them at  Do it now!  And if you're looking for other Cubs fans to follow and the latest Cubs news, please follow me on Twitter at and tweet me to say "hi!"

Anyway, onto the game recap:  Travis Wood started for the Cubs and had a good outing as he allowed one run on three hits while walking five and striking out four batters over 6.1 innings pitched.  Wood also had a hit and two RBIs.

The lineup consisted mainly of players that don't usually get to start, with the exception of shortstop Starlin Castro, who became the first shortstop in franchise history to play all 162 games in a season.

The Cubs ended their season with a 61-101 record, which was the third-most losses in franchise history.  The Cubs lost 103 games in both 1962 and 1966.

Here are some photos I took at the game:

Cubs players during the National Anthem before the final game of the season (photo by Karen Burchell)

Cubs players during the National Anthem before the final game of the season (photo by Karen Burchell)

Cubs players during the National Anthem before the final game of the season (photo by Karen Burchell)

Cubs players during the National Anthem before the final game of the season (photo by Karen Burchell)

Cubs players during the National Anthem before the final game of the season (photo by Karen Burchell)

Bryan LaHair in the on-deck circle (photo by Karen Burchell)

Dale Sveum during the last game of the season (photo by Karen Burchell)
Travis Wood congratulates Dave Sappelt after he scores (photo by Karen Burchell)

Dave Sappelt after crossing home plate (photo by Karen Burchell)

Dave Sappelt by the dugout after scoring (photo by Karen Burchell)

Travis Wood batting with Tony Campana in the on-deck circle (photo by Karen Burchell)

Darwin Barney between first and second base during the 9th inning of the season finale (photo by Karen Burchell)

Cubs win! (photo by Karen Burchell)

The 2012 Cubs walking off the field after ending their season with a "W" (photo by Karen Burchell)
The Wrigley Field Grounds Crew sang the 7th inning stretch (photo by Karen Burchell)
In other Cubs news, the organization fired third base coach Pat Listach after Wednesday's finale. "This is hard for me because he was one of the first people that really saw what I had and believed in it and voiced his opinion for me a couple of years back," Barney said.  "It's tough.  He's going to be fine.  He has a place in baseball and will find work for sure, but it's hard to see him go."

Shiraz Rehman, 34, was promoted to Assistant General Manager alongside Randy Bush, both reporting to GM Jed Hoyer.

It was announced Thursday that Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson will be sent back to Triple-A Iowa to start the 2013 season in order to give them the time to better prepare for the majors.

Theo Epstein held a press conference Thursday and said, “I’m not going to sit here and say, 'Don’t worry about 101 losses because we have a magic plan to win the World Series in 2013, (that) it’s gonna happen, so be there now.  That’s not the case.  There is a plan, there is a vision.  It might be a little bit longer turn than we all want it to be, but that we’re committed to it and that there is a great reward at the end.”

Cubs President Theo Epstein held a press conference Thursday (photo from
Epstein did say they would still focus on starting pitching.  The team went through 30 pitchers this season, of which none won 10 games.  The pitchers that won the most games were Jeff Samardzija and Paul Maholm.  Joe Mather finished with the best ERA after the team had to use him in September as a last resort.

The Cubs received approval to add an additional row of 56 seats behind home plate by moving the brick wall forward three feet.  They also received ap proval to reconfigure a 12-foot section of the wall along the third base line so that it would be movable by forklift so that it could be a larger buffer between the playing field and the brick wall.  This would make the Friendly Confines more suitable to host college football games.  In 2010, Northwestern and Illinois played against each other at Wrigley Field, but the NCAA required the offense to use only the west end zone.

It's always a little sad once baseball season comes to an end, but on the bright side, the Cubs will have the #2 draft pick in 2013, due to their won-loss record in 2012.  Now it's time to enjoy the cooler weather, the holidays (which are really right around the corner) and start counting down the days to the Cubs Convention, which will be held at a new location (the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers at 201 East North Water Street in downtown Chicago) on January 18-20, 2013.  Go Cubs Go!!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Volstad strikes out six, but Cubs offense missing as they lose 3-0 to Astros in final night game

The Cubs lost 3-0 to the Houston Astros in the second to last game of the season, which was also the final night game of 2012 on Tuesday night.  I was at Wrigley to witness the non-eventful game, but was lucky enough to sit in the 2nd row behind the Cubs' bullpen.

Carlos Marmol warming up in the bullpen Tuesday night (photo by Karen Burchell)
It was pretty amazing to be watching the game right by James Russell, Shawn Camp, Carlos Marmol and the rest of the relief pitchers.  The highlight for us came in the 4th inning, when Alfonso Soriano's foul ball was hit to Andrew Lane, the Cubs bullpen catcher, who picked it up threw it to my friend, who had her one-year old baby with us at the game. 

Shawn Camp actually came over to us to tell us that he saw us on TV because we were holding the foul ball.  It was also my friend's first foul ball ever, which was perfect since it was also her birthday!

Glove, towels and Gatorade cooler in the Cubs bullpen (photo by Karen Burchell)
Anyway, back to the game.  Chris Volstad made his final start of the season and was impressive as he gave up two runs on five hits and struck out six batters, which was the most since his first start on April 9th, when he also struck out a half dozen.  Volstad said, "It did feel good to finish that way, just being myself.  I could've used a few more of those.  It felt good to have one that way, especially to end [the season] and go into the offseason with a positive."

Chris Volstad finished on a strong note, as he struck out six batters on Tuesday night (photo from
Too bad the Cubs couldn't get their offense going to back Volstad, as they only had four hits during the game, which came from Soriano, Castro (2) and Jackson. 

Today the Cubs will face off in their final game of the season against the Astros, who will play their final game as a NL Central team.  Travis Wood will start for the Cubs and try for his seventh win of the season.  I will be at Wrigley for the finale and hope to sing "Go Cubs Go!" for one last time as this tough season comes to an end.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cubs lose 3-0 to Astros and reach 100-loss mark for the first time in 46 years

The Cubs lost 3-0 to the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field Monday night, which means that the team has reached the 100-loss mark in a season for the first time since 1966, when they went 59-103.  This is only the third time the franchise has had 100 or more losses during a season.

The silver lining in the Cubs' won-loss record this season is that the team has secured the #2 draft pick position.  Gotta look at the positives, right?  That's the spirit of a true Cubs fan!

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said, "(We're) definitely going the right direction.  There are some growing pains with that, as well.  We're all confident in the plan Theo (Epstein), Jed (Hoyer) and their guys are putting together.  We understand where we'll get to.  Sometimes it just takes some time, but we're all confident in the procedures of it.''
Jason Berken pitched for the Cubs Monday night and allowed two runs on four hits while walking one and striking out two batters over 4.2 innings pitched.

Jason Berken pitched against the Astros at Wrigley Field on Monday night (photo from
In other Cubs news, their 7-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday at Chase Field was their first win on the road against a NL West team this season.

Tomorrow Chris Volstad will start for the Cubs and try to end his season with a 4-11 record. 
The Cubs and Astros will play the second game of the three-game series at 7:05pm CT at Wrigley Field.  I will be at the Friendly Confines to hopefully witness the team's 61st win of the season.