Results tagged ‘ Cardinals ’

11/9 Francona update

Terry Francona interviewed with the Cardinals on Wednesday. There has been speculation that Francona could rejoin Theo Epstein in Chicago with the Cubs, who are also looking for a manager. Francona was the only manager Epstein hired in Boston when he was GM there.

However, the Cubs might not be the right fit for Francona. Epstein acknowledged as much last week.

“I’ve talked to Theo a bunch, actually, which I’ve appreciated,” Francona told MLB.com’s Ian Browne on Wednesday. “Theo and I are always going to be friends, regardless of what happens, so that’s good.”

– Carrie Muskat

10/13 Waiting for Theo, Day 2

The Theo Epstein-to-the-Cubs deal is not official yet. Sources say the Cubs and Red Sox still must settle on compensation — Epstein has one year remaining on his contract — and who, if anybody, on his staff can accompany him to Chicago.

Cardinals GM John Mozeliak was asked about Epstein joining the NL Central.

“When you look at that type of hire, [the Cubs] are obviously changing their strategy and how they’re going about it,” Mozeliak said Wednesday. “Not knowing what they’re going to do or how they’re going to attack, it doesn’t necessarily mean instant success for 2012, but they surely are looking at this long term and for that leadership.”

He noted the similarities between the Red Sox and Cubs.

“There is unique history in the sense of what [Epstein had] in Boston,” Mozeliak said. “It had been a while since they had success, especially to the level that he brought them to. Obviously, in Chicago is trying to replicate that. But I don’t want to speak for them.”

If Epstein does make the move, Cubs fans will have to be patient.  When he took over the Red Sox in November 2002, they were coming off a 93-win season. The Cubs lost 91 games in 2011, and have finished fifth in back to back years. His expertise couldn’t save the Red Sox this season as they finished third for the second year in a row.

“For all of us, collectively, it’s a failure,” Epstein said on Sept. 29 of the 2011 season in Boston. “In some small ways, we’ve gotten away a little bit from our ideal of what we want to be on the field and off the field. It’s our responsibility to fix it.”

Epstein did make key moves over the years. He acquired David Ortiz, who has become a Boston icon, and Curt Schilling for the 2004 championship team, and oversaw the drafting of Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester and Jonathan Papelbon, who helped the ’07 Red Sox win another ring.

But he also missed with acquisitions Mike Cameron, Julio Lugo, Edgar Renteria and John Lackey. His most recent big purchases — Lackey and Carl Crawford — flopped this year. Lackey is entering the third year of a five-year, $82.5 million contract; Crawford just finished the first year of a seven-year, $142 million deal. The Red Sox also invested $101 million to obtain Daisuke Matsuzaka and spent $70 million on J.D. Drew.

Kevin Towers promoted Epstein from the Padres media relations department to become director of baseball operations in San Diego. Now the Diamondbacks GM, Towers praised Epstein.

“I would enjoy giving him a project and expect him to take a couple weeks,” Towers told the Chicago Tribune. “Theo would have it done by the next day. Of course, he would stay up all night. He wanted to be good. His work is off the charts.

“I know Cubs fans are going to have great expectations,” Towers said. “He’s going t have the same expectations. I think he’s going to create an edge.”

Towers said Epstein was touting David Eckstein because he was an “on-base machine who would set up the middle of the order.” Towers and the Padres passed, and the Angels got Eckstein and won a World Series in 2002.

“Theo is a big-time thinker who has incredible instincts,” Towers said. “He has zero fear, as he showed when he traded Nomar [Garciaparra to the Cubs in '04]. He takes the amateur Draft seriously. He’s going to be involved because he’s going to have a plan, a vision.”

Added Mozeliak: “Obviously, he had a ton of success in Boston and now that he’s taking it to our division, it’s going to change the landscape a little bit. It’s good for baseball and if it makes our rivalry any more interesting, that’s fun, too.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/15 Looking at positives

So, the Cubs went 3-5 vs. the Reds, Cardinals and Giants. Does Mike Quade have a better feel for his team?
 
“They talk about the fine line in this game,” Quade said before Sunday’s game was postponed because of the miserable weather. “The truth of the matter is, you take two out ofthree from those clubs and it’s a huge difference but you have to take them. You’ve got to do the things that will allow you take them and we’re not there yet.”
 
Even though they went 1-2 against the Reds and Cardinals, Quade feels his squad can beat his division rivals.
 
“Absolutely,” he said. “If you’re going to compete successfully, then there are some of the little things we need to do,” he said, citing improving the production with runners on base.
 
The Cubs did hit .309 during the homestand and a much improved .346 (18-for-52) with RISP. In their first 33 games, the Cubs hit .213 with RISP.
 
“There were more missed opportunities to score runs than anything else,” Quade said. “The problem is for each opportunity missed, where you don’t find a way to put up a crooked number, then when you do make a mistake, you go back to how magnified it is. If we’re going to continue to struggle and if run production is an issue right now, then we need to play perfect baseball in other areas so we don’t give clubs 29 outs a game or whatever the case may be.”
 
Carlos Pena said it’s important to be positive.
 
“It’s easy to look at the results and say, ‘That ball didn’t drop,'” Pena said. “We have to look back and say, ‘How was the at-bat? How was the execution? How was the contact?’ I’m doing that now. You say, ‘OK, good contact, good pitch to hit, good at-bat’ and leave it at that. It’s very hard to do because you’re not getting the reward.”
 
– Carrie Muskat

5/12 Round 1 to the Cards

The Cubs now are 6-9 vs. NL Central foes after losing the series to the Cardinals on Thursday. They did total 39 hits, but the euphoria from Wednesday’s 11-4 win was quickly dashed with Thursday’s 9-1 loss.

“We have to be more consistent,” Marlon Byrd said. “We’re not finding that yet. One out of three, especially against the Central is not going to cut it. Our consistency has to be there — hitting, pitching, defense, all around. … Once we put it all together, we’ll get a winning streak going.”

Jeff Baker, who had three hits, and now is batting .516 against lefties, agrees that the Cubs simply need to play better no matter who they’re facing.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re playing the quote, defending champs, the Giants, who we’ve got coming in now or you’re playing a team that might have set the record for most losses in baseball,” Baker said. “The bottom line is if you don’t come ready to play, you’ll get your butt whupped. A win’s a win, it doesn’t matter if it’s against a, quote, good team or a bad team. We just have to try to get more wins.”

Manager Mike Quade agrees. He’s not losing sleep over the team’s 8-12 record at Wrigley, or Casey Coleman’s inexperience.

“The frustration for me is that we’re inconsistent,” Quade said.

The Cardinals leave in first place in the Central.

“I’m real glad we’re four, five back 35, 40 games in and not 10 back,” Quade said. “Yeah, we have some things to work out but I’d like to think in the next week or two, we’ll get some of those things worked out and get people healthy and be a better ballclub.”

– Carrie Muskat

2/24 Looper stays in touch with Wainwright

Braden Looper was Adam Wainwright’s teammate on the Cardinals, and both are board of directors of an organization. Looper last saw Wainwright this offseason. As soon as Looper heard about Wainwright’s elbow injury, he sent a text message to his friend.

“He told me a couple jokes, back and forth,” Looper said Thursday of Wainwright. “He didn’t know what was going on yet.”

If he’s joking, then maybe Wainwright’s elbow injury isn’t that serious?

“That’s just his personality,” said Looper, who hoped to call Wainwright later Thursday. “I’m sure it’s tough. It’s a big loss for a team like that — any team. That’s just his personality and you have to know him to appreciate it. He’s a good hard worker and he’ll be all right.”

Looper didn’t know any details about Wainwright’s injury.

“I know that knowing him, he’s a character guy and he’s a guy who shows young guys how to work hard, so I know he’ll be all right,” Looper said. “That’s a comforting thing for me, knowing that he’s a guy who will bust his butt to get back.”

Cubs fans may be excited about the Cardinals losing their 20-game winner from the rotation. Looper would like to face a team when it’s at full strength.

“We want to beat them because we’re better,” he said. “You never want to wish a guy to get hurt. You want to say at the end of the day, hopefully, we’re a better team than they are. Every team goes through adversity. Obviously, [the Cardinals'] is starting sooner than ours. I’m sure there will be something we’ll have to go through. Every team goes through something.”

– Carrie Muskat

12/21 Go on the road with Cubs

Here’s a great last-minute gift idea — give someone a road trip with the Cubs. The 2011 Cubs Destinations packages provide fans a behind the scenes, VIP experience. The 2011 Cubs Destinations road schedule includes:

* Fenway Park, Boston. The Cubs will play the Red Sox May 20-22 for the first time in Boston since the 1918 World Series.

* Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, June 10-12.

* Busch Stadium, St. Louis, July 29-31.

All standard packages includes tickets to two Cubs games, first class hotel accommodations, a private pre-game reception with a current Cubs player, a VIP tour of the ballpark, a gift bag with Cubs merchandise, dedicated service from our on-site staff and more. You can also choose to include tickets to a third Cubs game, upgrade to a Majestic Replica Cubs jersey, or add additional discounted hotel nights. For more information, call 617-226-6550, e-mail info@cubsdestinations.com or visit http://www.cubs.com/cubsdestinations.

* If you can’t wait for the regular season, Cubs Destinations can help you get to Mesa, AZ, for Spring Training. The package includes hotel accommodations, tickets to Cactus League games, and a special Cubs event with select players. There will be a new program for Cubs Seniors and the exclusive VIP Batting Practice which allows you to take the field. To make reservations or get more info, call Cubs Destinations at 800-892-7687 or go online at cubs.com/springtravel.

– Carrie Muskat
 

9/25 Another scary moment

Cardinals pitcher Blake Hawksworth was struck on the right side of his face by a line drive by Sam Fuld with one out in the fifth and knocked out of the game. Hawksworth had started the inning in place of Chris Carpenter. The pitcher fell to the ground after being hit but was able to walk off the field under his own power.

It’s been a scary week for the Cubs. Last Sunday in Miami, Tyler Colvin was hit in the chest by a broken bat. He was home, recuperating and done for the season.

– Carrie Muskat

8/12 No La Russa vs Cubs

Lou Piniella will be back on Friday when the Cubs open a three-game series against the Cardinals in St. Louis but Tony La Russa will not be in the dugout for the first two games. Major League Baseball disciplinarian Bob Watson suspended La Russa and Reds manager Dusty Baker two games for their part in the brawl Tuesday in Cincinnati. The only other player suspended was Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto, who was given a seven-game suspension. St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter and Yadier Molina were fined as was the Reds’ Brandon Phillips and Russ Springer.

– Carrie Muskat

8/3 Cubs trivia

Some notes on the Cubs’ season, supplied by baseball historian Ed Hartig:

* The Cubs have lost eight games by double digits this year. The last time they reached that number was in 1953 when they lost a club-worst nine games by at least 10 runs. They also lost nine games by at least 10 runs in 1895.

* The Cubs have lost five games by at least a dozen runs this season. The only other time in franchise history that has happened was in 1895 when they lost once by 12 runs, three times by 13 and once by 17. The Cubs have never lost six games by at least 12 runs in a season.

* Entering this season, the Cubs had not lost by at least 15 runs since May 20, 1996 (an
18-1 loss in Atlanta). They have now done it twice in the last four games. Before this year, the last time the Cubs lost by at least 15 runs twice in the same season was 1977.

On April 27, 1977, the Cubs lost 21-3 at home against the Cardinals. On July 4 that year, they lost 19-3 at home against the Expos in the first game of a doubleheader. The July 4 game is also memorable for two other things: One, Andre Dawson hit his first Wrigley Field home run that game (obviously, with Montreal). Two, Cubs outfielder/first baseman Larry Biittner pitched the final 1 1/3 innings, giving up three home runs (including Dawson’s) and striking out three. Biittner also nearly hit batter Del Unser with a pitch that drew a warning from umpire Terry Tata and an automatic $50 fine from the league. Newspaper accounts say that the the pitch was going so slowly that it was “almost going backwards”.

– Carrie Muskat

7/6 Change in Wrigley start times

The Cubs have changed some start times and announced the TV schedule for five games at Wrigley Field in the second half. ESPN is moving the Sunday, July 18 game against the Phillies to 7:05 p.m. CT. The game will still air on ESPN, though it was originally scheduled to start at 5:05 p.m. CT.   

Additionally, ESPN has selected the Sunday, July 25 game vs. the Cardinals for a national broadcast. The game will begin at 7:05 p.m. CT.

With ESPN now having reached its Sunday Night maximum for 2010 at Wrigley Field, two additional games currently listed with start times of TBD are confirmed for afternoon starts.  The Aug. 22 game vs. the Braves and the Sept. 26 contest vs. the Cardinals will both begin at 1:20 p.m. CT and air on WGN.

Additionally, the Sept. 4 game vs. the Mets will now air on WGN and begin at 12:05 p.m. CT. The game was originally listed to start at 3:10 p.m. CT.

– Carrie Muskat

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