All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.
Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are.
This may come as a bit of a shock to some, but I am not a big fan of change. Not really, anyway. Something about swinging past the halfway point of life knowing that most of your vital organs are intact makes stability seem like a good idea.
That being said, I am not a stick in the mud. I realize that progress can only come from turmoil. One thing must go for another to take its place.
Change is coming to Chicago’s baseball teams. We’ll start by looking to the Northside. Barru M. Bloom was at the Arizona game and tried, unsuccessfully, to get the Cubs to say when Rizzo is coming up.
Because, as you know, the Cubs lineup is a bigger secret than the number of STDs Charlie Sheen has had.
While awaiting the arrival of first baseman Anthony Rizzo from the Minor Leagues, Matt Garza ran into a buzzsaw named Wade Miley on Sunday.
The rookie D-backs left-hander outworked the veteran right-hander as the D-backs won, 5-1, sweeping the three-game weekend series at Chase Field. The 24-48 Cubs have now lost four in a row, and will head home to Wrigley Field to face the Mets in a three-game set, beginning Monday night.
“Losing like we’re losing now is tough,” said Alfonso Soriano, whose seventh-inning homer off of Miley was his 14th, and accounted for the Cubs only run. “I don’t like to lose. The way we’re losing is not acceptable.”
Garza (3-5) pitched good enough to win, allowing only three runs on five hits, while striking out seven and walking one in seven innings.
But the Cubs had only four hits, and just three off of Miley, who ran his record to 9-3. Miley solidified his position as the probable D-backs delegate to the National League All-Star team by striking out seven, walking one and tossing 116 pitches in eight innings.
This was the nexus of the game: With the D-backs leading just 3-1, the Cubs had runners on second and third and no outs in the eighth after Geovany Soto walked and Darwin Barney doubled. Miley, though, pitched out of the jam, retiring the next three hitters. Joe Mather struck out, pinch-hitter Luis Valbuena lined to short and David DeJesus bounced back to Miley.
For Miley, it was his sixth win in his last eight decisions.
“We get guys on second and third and we can’t even make contact,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “That’s been the biggest key, striking out so many times in these situations especially when there are less than two outs. We’re not even moving anybody.”
The Cubs are 14-19 at home, and are now 10-29 on the road. They are anticipating the arrival of Rizzo sometime during this six-game homestand against the Mets and Astros, but even that may be no panacea.
“We’ve got to start doing something against left-handed pitching or else it’s going to be a long homestand,” Sveum said. “Reinforcements? I don’t know what the date is and what reinforcement were going to get. At least we know we’re going to get one, but when that date is I don’t know yet.”
Rizzo is currently a .349 hitter with 23 homers and 63 RBIs for Triple-A Iowa. But he has already proven he can tear up the Pacific Coast League. Last year, he hit .331 with 26 homers and 101 RBIs for Tucson.
But when his much ballyhooed ascent to the Padres came, he couldn’t hit big league pitching. Rizzo batted .141 with a homer and nine RBIs in two stints playing for San Diego. The homer came his first weekend at Petco Park. He was brought up on June 9, 2011, and barely lasted a month. He returned in September, and was traded to the Cubs during the offseason.
At 22, Rizzo has a year more experience and anything could help the Cubs, who are 27th in the Majors with 264 runs scored.
“You’ve got to score runs, and that’s the bottom line,” Sveum said. “We don’t score a whole lot of runs. When we score four runs or more we’re over .500. But that doesn’t happen too often. There’s too many times when you have one run. You’re not going to win many games that way.”
Garza was on that end, trying to win with that one run of support on Sunday. Garza walked Gerardo Parra, Arizona’s leadoff hitter, in the opening inning and he came around to score the game’s first run on a Justin Upton single. Garza said he hung sliders to Parra and Jason Kubel that led to the other runs scored against him.
Parra tripled with two outs in the sixth and scored on Aaron Hill’s infield single, and Kubel opened the seventh with his 10th homer.
“We knew he had good stuff today, so for us to be able to scratch a couple runs across early on a couple hits, those were big contributions,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said after his now 37-35 club went 5-1 on the just-concluded homestand.
Garza has only come up on the winning end once since April 29. And that was in his previous start, when he allowed only five hits and three runs to the White Sox last Monday at U.S. Cellular Field. It wouldn’t be his fate to win again on Sunday, though.
Garza said the Cubs will weather this period of adversity.
“We show up every day and we play,” he said. “We show up and we work. We’re not quitters. We’re going to keep fighting, keep going, keep clawing. That’s all we can do. I always say, I’m getting ready for the next one.”
The next one might include Anthony Rizzo, or perhaps the one after that or the one after that.
I don’t get it. Why the games? Do they really think there is even a remote chance that Rizzo is staying in 3A? Face it kids, he’s coming up. He has to. At this point there is nothing he can do in 3A that will help him in any way. The kid is going to have to face the Johan Santana’s of the world no matter what. He may as well start tonight.
Last night the Sox won a rare extra inning game at home with Eduardo Escobar driving in the sole run in the 10th inning. Contrary to rumors, Escobar was not demoted to the minors after the game. He was designated as the fourth outfielder with Hudson being moved to utility infielder. The reason all that happened is that the Sox traded Brent Lillibridge and Zach Stewart to the Red Sox for Kevin Youkilis. As Scot Merkin notes, this might be a bigger trade than anyone realizes.
It was quite a finish to the homestand Sunday afternoon for the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
They claimed a 1-0 victory in 10 innings over the Brewers. They regained first place in the American League Central with Cleveland’s loss. And they got what appears to be an upgrade at third base, acquiring Kevin Youkilis in a trade with the Red Sox in exchange for utility player Brent Lillibridge and Minor League right-handed pitcher Zach Stewart.
Boston also will pay approximately $5.6 million of Youkilis’ remaining salary.
This 2012 White Sox mix of contending for the playoffs while developing young talent took a decided turn toward the postseason.
“We just thought at this time it was necessary and necessary to do it sooner rather than later,” said White Sox general manager Ken Williams of the Youkilis trade. “I just got off the phone with him. He’s very excited to join our club. He has a little edge to him which I like. I think he’s going to fit in just fine with our ballclub.”
“Just a gritty kind of player and we’re happy to have him,” said White Sox captain Paul Konerko of the Youkilis addition. “I think it could be a real steal when we look back on it.”
Youkilis, 33, figures to move immediately into the starting third-base role vacated by Brent Morel, who’s recovering from a lower lumbar strain. Veteran Orlando Hudson, who joined the White Sox on May 22 as a free agent, has started 25 games at third base, marking the first 25 big league games he has ever played at that position over his 11-year career.
While the White Sox have a 14-11 record with Hudson in the lineup, he is hitting .170 since coming to Chicago and his defense has been an understandable work in progress. Eduardo Escobar has played 10 games at third and carries a .203 average, but both he and Hudson will now move into utility roles.
Escobar will see outfield time due to Lillibridge’s departure. Hudson, meanwhile, handled the change with great class and dignity, after Williams praised him for the effort he put forth at an unknown defensive spot.
“If I was a GM, I’d make the same trade,” said the 34-year-old Hudson. “I’m not the best third baseman over there, plus I’m not swinging the bat well, so definitely I’d make the same trade.”
When asked if he wanted to stay with the team, Hudson laughed and added, “I’ve got a job. Kenny, he’s the man, so whatever decision he makes… But I’ve got to thank him, first of all, for getting me over here and giving me a chance. If things are different, no hard feelings. I enjoy the guys here, and the coaching staff’s great.”
With a .233 average and 15 RBIs, this present campaign has not been a particularly good one for Youkilis. The career .286 hitter with a .388 on-base percentage was sidelined by a back strain from May 2-21 and has not exactly seen eye-to-eye with new manager Bobby Valentine.
Rookie Will Middlebrooks claimed the Red Sox starting third-base job, making Youkilis expendable. The White Sox hope a change of scenery will bring back the previous form that sent Youkilis to three All-Star Games, complemented by that edge spoken of by Williams.
“He wants to come in and he wants to prove some people wrong,” said Williams with a smile, adding that he couldn’t say exactly what Youkilis said in their phone conversation.
“We’re happy that he’s going to get a fresh start and hopefully a chance to play in Chicago,” said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington of Youkilis. “He did a lot of good things for this organization and for the bulk of the time here, he really embodied a lot of the things we believe in as a player. We’ll wish him well, except when he’s playing against us.”
Cherington talked to Youkilis two or three days ago to tell him that they were talking to teams. He then informed Youkilis Sunday of the deal, with Youkilis leaving Fenway Park to a hero’s farewell.
Williams admitted the financial component, in regard to how much of Youkilis’ remaining $8 million was to be picked up, served as a major factor.
“Let’s just say that the deal made sense from a player’s standpoint, a talent standpoint, and a financial standpoint for us,” Williams said.
“You’ve got to give up good players to get a player,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Lillibridge, as much as we hate seeing him go, because he does a lot of things for us that are positives, you have to do that to be able to get a good player and Youk’s a pro. He’s been there and he’s done it.”
Youkilis figures to take a regular spot in the starting lineup, beginning with the White Sox series opener at Target Field Monday. But the road is about to get tougher for the upstart White Sox.
They have four games at Yankee Stadium at the end of next week, followed by a first-half-ending homestand against Texas and Toronto. The second half begins with an immense challenge—of the 19 games to be played through the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, 16 will be on the road.
During that time, the White Sox will travel to Kansas City, Detroit, Texas and Minnesota. There also are four games to be played at Fenway from July 16-19, with Youkilis getting a chance to make a quick return to the place where he helped the Red Sox win World Series titles.
As far as possibly adding another pitcher or another player overall, Williams indicated any additions could just as well come from within the system as through a trade. But the developing White Sox clearly are making their move.
“At this point and time we owe it to our fans and the men in that clubhouse in uniform to try to exhaust ourselves to be the best team we could possibly be,” Williams said.
My guess is that Lillibridge will see a big upgrade in playing time in Boston. I wish him well. He’s been nothing but a solid team player ever since he came up. As to Youkilis, his bad season is a major upgrade over Hudson’s good one so that seems to be a solid move.
And, yes Sox fans, it is quite clear that the Sox have decided to make a run for it.
Excuse me, I meant to say that your FIRST PLACE Sox have decided to make a run for it.
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