Where to begin, where to begin? I wrote a story about nearly dying due to botulism and people are saying it’s hysterically funny and they are going to reprint it. Yes the near taco experience did lead to my first published short story, but still .....
A buddy of mine and I worked on a web project for a guy who had a very limited budget and so on. We got it up for him around noon. It turns out that was two hours too late as far as he was concerned and he let us know that we had destroyed his business, he had a lawyer, blah blah blah. Since we had access to his web site we went and snagged his hit log. He was averaging 3 hits a day and they all seemed to be from a single IP address. My guess is his. You can see me shaking in fear.
Or the AC is too high.
Anyway we ripped his site off line and sent him a bill for the real amount.
Another buddy of mine wanted ice cream. The ice cream truck was coming by. He ran to meet it and took a header and ended up in the hospital.
He never did get his ice cream.
As you can tell yesterday was a day filled with weird.
And, in keeping with the overall theme, the Cubs went out and gobsmacked the visiting Pirates to the gentle tune of 14-4. That’s right, they scored two touchdowns while only giving up two safeties. And this was all while they were dumping players during the game. Carrie Muskat has the whole odd story.
As the Cubs were scoring runs in a nine-run fifth, general manager Jed Hoyer was making changes to the roster.
The Cubs dealt pitcher Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson to the Braves on Monday night, and have reportedly sent catcher Geovany Soto to the Rangers. Hoyer confirmed the deal with the Braves, but the Cubs’ trade with the Rangers was still pending approval.
Hoyer and Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein have both made it clear they intend to make changes, and they got a head start before Tuesday’s 3 p.m. CT non-waiver Trade Deadline.
As Johnson and Soto were taken out of Monday’s game—a 14-4 win over the Pirates—and got the news, they hugged their teammates and then exited.
“You hate to be pulling guys out of games,” Hoyer said. “It isn’t comfortable to go down there and make moves. I don’t like to make lineup changes.”
“I can’t lie to you, it was the first time I’ve ever gone through that,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
The Cubs will receive Minor League right-handed pitchers Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman from the Braves in return. Chapman, 25, was 3-6 with seven saves and a 3.52 ERA in 40 games with Triple-A Gwinnett. Vizcaino, 21, may be the prize in the deal. A power arm, he was ranked as the Braves’ No. 3 prospect. He made his big league debut with the Braves last season, and was 1-1 with a 4.67 ERA in 17 relief outings. He is recovering from Tommy John surgery, which he had in March.
“We’ve been really clear all along that we’re not contending right now, and we need to take assets that are shorter term and turn them into longer-term assets,” Hoyer said Monday night.
Johnson, 35, started in center field against the Pirates and scored two runs, but he was pulled for a pinch-hitter before his second at-bat in the Cubs’ nine-run fifth. The veteran was batting .302 this season, including a .333 average against left-handed pitching.
Maholm, 30, was 5-0 with a 1.02 ERA in his past six starts dating to June 29 and 9-6 with a 3.74 ERA overall. He has thrown six straight starts of at least six innings in which he’s given up one or no runs.
Soto, 29, has been in the Cubs’ system since he was drafted in 2001. He was pulled after the Pirates’ sixth inning and also greeted in the dugout by handshakes and hugs from his teammates. Soto was batting .199 in 52 games this season. He missed time because of a torn meniscus in his left knee.
The 2008 National League Rookie of the Year, Soto was being paid $4.3 million this year and was on track to go to arbitration for the third time this offseason.
The Cubs will reportedly get pitcher Jacob Brigham from the Rangers in exchange. He was 5-5 with a 4.28 ERA in 21 starts at Double-A Frisco. Neither the Rangers nor the Cubs were expected to confirm the reports Monday night.
“It is strange telling two players in the middle of the game,” Hoyer said. “It started to leak out about Paul, and I wanted to make sure he heard from us first. Both guys took it great. In the case of Paul, he said he grew up a Braves fan.
“Everything about that game was unusual,” Hoyer said. “You don’t experience that too often, but I guess near the Deadline, some strange things happen.”
The Cubs did have an option on Maholm for next season.
“It came down to getting a 21-year-old with that arm,” Hoyer said. “I don’t think we would’ve been able to get that kind of value frankly if [Maholm] was only under control for a couple months.”
Ryan Dempster, on the other hand, whom the Braves also sought, would be a rental because he will be a free agent after this season. The Cubs knew the Braves wanted a starting pitcher. It was just a matter of finding the right one, Hoyer said.
“We’d had a lot of dialogue, we’d discussed a lot of players and it probably made revisiting something a little easier,” Hoyer said.
The Cubs aren’t finished, Hoyer said.
“I think it’ll be busy tonight, and I think it’ll be a busy morning,” he said. “Whether we make other deals, we’ll see. I know there will be a lot of phone calls and a lot of activity.”
The Cubs were expected to promote pitcher Casey Coleman and catcher Welington Castillo from Triple-A Iowa in time for Tuesday’s game. There were reports that top prospect Brett Jackson had been pulled from Iowa’s game, and also was headed to the Cubs, but team officials said they didn’t expect the outfielder to be part of the group.
“I’m not going to comment on the guys coming up,” Hoyer said.
Prospects acquired by Cubs
Arodys Vizcaino, RHP: One of the big three pitching prospects in the Braves’ system, Vizcaino was still No. 54 overall on MLB.com’s Top 100 list and No. 3 on the Braves’ Top 20 despite missing the entire season due to Tommy John surgery. When healthy, he has the makings of three above-average to plus pitches with his fastball, curve and improving changeup. He has decent command, giving him the chance to be a starter, but his power stuff does play up out of the bullpen and with concerns about his durability, that could be his eventual long-term role.
Jaye Chapman, RHP: Drafted by the Braves back in 2005, Chapman has had success pitching out of the bullpen and was added to the 40-man rosters as a result last offseason. He doesn’t have closer’s stuff, though he has finished games in the Minors, now spending his second season in Triple-A. He’s struggled a bit with command, with a 4.3 BB/9 ratio, but he’s also struck out 9.6 per nine in his career. Now 25, the Cubs may give him his first big league opportunity and he has a ceiling as a middle man.
-- Jonathan Mayo
Just FYI, the last time the Cubs had a winning record in July (they are 15-9 this month) I was married and running a company.
It’s been a while.
On the Southside they pride themselves on playing error free baseball. It has been the linchpin to their success this year. Well, that and pitching. Anyway last night they said the heck with all that error free stuff, that’s too hard, and went out and reminded me of a T-ball team that was being denied a trip to Dairy Queen. Scott Merkin was there and was just shaking his melon.
Through the course of this first-place 2012 season to date, the White Sox have endured prolonged hitting slumps and struggles from their pitching staff.
Monday’s 7-6 loss to the Twins before 35,018 at a raucous Target Field seems to indicate that one of the best defensive squads in all of baseball currently finds itself battling a fielding funk.
Three errors, including a crucial throwing miscue from catcher A.J. Pierzynski in the bottom of the ninth inning, contributed to three unearned runs and a second straight defeat for the White Sox (55-47). This effort in the field followed a shaky defensive night Sunday in Arlington for a team that has allowed a Major League-low 20 unearned runs.
Manager Robin Ventura acknowledged a team could go into a collective defensive malaise, but fixing the slump was more his focus.
“That’s something we have to clean it up and focus on it and make sure we’re better at it because we’re giving away a lot of runs,” Ventura said. “The big ones are the unearned ones. You give them something they really shouldn’t have. We’ve just got to get better at that.”
A four-run first inning and a Twins team sitting 14 games under .500 at 44-58 as the opponent should have added up to an easy series-opening victory for the White Sox. Instead, they gave away that lead quickly and two late rallies weren’t enough to avoid ninth-inning heartbreak.
Danny Valencia opened the ninth with a single to left off reliever Brett Myers (0-1). Pinch-runner Alexi Casilla was sacrificed to second by Brian Dozier, but when Pierzynski threw the bunt past first baseman Paul Konerko, the runners advanced to second and third.
Jamey Carroll followed with the walk-off sacrifice fly to right.
“With two strikes, I was just trying to put it in play,” Carroll said. “With the infield in, you feel like you have a chance to put it past them, but fortunately I got enough on it to allow Alexi to score.”
“On that play in the ninth inning, [Dozier] made a good bunt, I picked it up and I just made a bad throw,” Pierzynski said. “It happens and it’s one of those things that will eat at you, but you got to get ready for tomorrow.”
Pierzynski’s throw assisted the game-winning rally, but his bat propelled the visitors to an early advantage. After missing five straight games because of a mildly strained right oblique, a healthy Pierzynski roped the first pitch he saw from Cole De Vries 413 feet into the right-field stands for a three-run blast.
Pierzynski’s 17th home run, which is one short of his single-season best, followed Konerko’s run-scoring single.
“I dug myself into a pretty good hole there,” said De Vries, who survived five innings thanks to numerous hard-hit White Sox balls finding Twins defensive players. “It was one of those games where I didn’t pitch as well as I could have obviously.
“It was nice the rest of the team did what they did helping me out by getting that four right back. It helped me settle down a little bit.”
Jose Quintana struggled for the third time in four starts, as the rookie left-hander allowed six runs on 10 hits over seven innings. Only four of those runs were earned, and to Quintana’s credit, he settled down to hold the Twins scoreless over his final four innings.
Quintana was bailed out by Alejandro De Aza, who returned from a two-game absence because of a sprained left wrist. De Aza knocked out four hits and singled home runs in the fourth and then again in the eighth, which tied the game, following Alexei Ramirez’s stolen base against reliever Jared Burton. Ramirez reached base when hit by a pitch with one out.
But Minnesota’s five first-inning hits produced four runs. Ryan Doumit’s single and Valencia’s sacrifice fly in the third broke the tie against Quintana, who didn’t strike out a batter and walked one.
These particular struggles for Quintana didn’t seem to worry the pitcher or his catcher.
“The most important part is my arm, and my arm feels great,” said Quintana through translator and White Sox manager of cultural relations Jackson Miranda, when asked about any issues from his rising innings total. “Today, going back to it, I made an adjustment and from now on I’ll look into doing that.”
“He was just up early,” said Pierzynski of Quintana. “As the game went on, he got better. We talked to him about getting ground balls. He started getting the ball down. He settled down and gave us seven solid innings. That was it. Just missed spots early, ball was up and they hit them.”
Exactly 60 games remain on the schedule for the White Sox. Their 1 1/2-game lead in the American League Central over the Tigers, who lost by a 7-3 margin at Boston on Monday, will be tested through what feels like playoff baseball on a nightly basis.
To survive that extended test, the White Sox need to find the airtight defense that defined them for much of the season.
“You know that teams in our division are coming after it,” Pierzynski said. “We’ve been playing well and tonight was hopefully a blip on the radar. We made some mistakes and obviously the one in the ninth is the big one I made, but things happen and I’m proud of the way we came back after giving up the lead.”
If only earned runs counted the Sox would have won the game. That’s not a fun statement to make.
Probably less fun to live through. Still, thanks to Detroit tanking just when we need them to the Sox are still in first.
It doesn’t get much weirder than that.
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