Cubs

Cubs morning recap

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Cubs morning recap

With the new year fast approaching, Theo Epstein and his staff might be awfully busy, in addition to celebrating the new Cubs president's 38th birthday.

The little matter of Matt Garza's future hangs in the balance.

The Theo Trio could lock the energetic starter up with a long-term extension, of which the recent John Danks deal could be a good benchmark.

But if the front office decides trading the 28-year-old starter is the better option, where could he go? And could the trade wind up in the Cubs acquiring top first base prospect Anthony Rizzo, even if in a roundabout way?

Regardless of what happens with Garza, will Marlon Byrd be one of the Cubs on the way out of town this offseason? The Nationals and Red Sox could make nice suitors.

Then there's the not-so-small dealings of what Kerry Wood's future will be. It was assumed his signing with the Cubs was inevitable, but that may not be the case any longer.

If the Cubs are unable to get Rizzo, will Bryan LaHair get his shot at first base? And even if Rizzo does wind up on the North Side, could LaHair see a lot of playing time in the outfield in 2012?

While we're on the topic of trades, who are the guys Theo and Jed Hoyer absolutely, positively should not give up?

View from the Mooney

Theo and his posse aren't the only ones with work on their plate. As fans, you have to decide some things, too. Like what was the best Cubs moment in the 2011 calendar year? What was the worst?

Check out Patrick Mooney's incredible recap of the year that was for the Chicago Cubs. From the Carlos Silva blow-up in spring training to the Carlos Zambrano blow-up...well, all season...to Theo-mania on the North Side to Ron Santo's Hall of Fame selection, Mooney has it all.

His Year in Review: "We stinks" to "Theo-mania" is a must-read for all fans who even pretend to follow the Cubs.

Around the Web

Al Yellon at Bleed Cubbie Blue got to do something most bloggers only dream of -- he interviewed Tom Ricketts, the owner of the Cubs.

What resulted was an entertaining read for Cubs fans of an interview spanning topics such as the Theo Epstein hire to things on the business end of the franchise to baseball-related topics.

Check them all out here: Part I, Part II, Part III

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals

It was a tough day for the North Siders.

The Cubs got obliterated by the Cardinals as Matt Carpenter had a three-homer, two-double day. Ben Finfer, Seth Gruen and Maggie Hendricks join David Kaplan on the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast to talk about the blowout.

Was Jon Lester due for this kind of terrible outing? And do the Cubs have enough to swing a big trade before the deadline?

Plus, the panel discusses Matt Nagy’s first training camp practice in the rain and Roquan Smith’s absence in Bourbonnais.

You can listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Jon Lester saw a start like this coming

Jon Lester saw a start like this coming

Jon Lester had easily his worst outing of the year, allowing the Cardinals to score eight runs on seven hits, the veteran All-Star only managed three innings before Joe Maddon turned to his bullpen. 

The Cardinals would take game two of the series by the score of 18 to 5, and while none of the Cubs pitchers could silence the Cardinal bats, Lester didn't shy away from his poor outing. 

"You know, I don't want to chalk this up as bad days happen," said Lester. "I think mechanically this has kinda been coming." 

Lester knew he was struggling to hit his spots, and while his ERA was a sparkling 2.58 coming into this start, his peripheral stats had him pegged as a potential regression candidate in the second half of the season.

His 4.35 FIP and 3.30 walks per nine innings show a pitcher who is relying heavily on his defense to get outs, which isn't surprising for a 33-year-old veteran but the walks are a concern. 

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was aware Lester had been working on his mechanics, but even he was surprised that Lester's start went downhill so quickly. 

"I thought he had good stuff to start the game, hitting [92-93 mph] and I'm thinking this might be a good day," said Maddon. "But you could just see from the beginning he was off just a little bit." 

Over Lester's last four starts his ERA has been an uncharacteristic 4.57, issuing 10 walks over those four starts, and only making it past the 6th inning once. At this point of Lester's career, he knows the best way for him to get outs isn't through strikeouts but by inducing soft contact and avoiding walks. 

And while both his hard contact rate and walks have increased this season, Lester's experience and high baseball I.Q. has allowed him to navigate his way through sticky situations. 

"I've been getting outs," Lester said candidly. "I just feel like when I've had that strikeout or I have a guy set up for that pitch I haven't been able to execute it." 

And while this outing was one to forget, it's at least a positive sign that Lester is aware of his issues on the mound. The veteran knows how to get outs and he knows what he needs to do to be successful in the latter part of his career. He just needs to get back to executing those pitches. 

Just don't expect Lester to dive head first into the analytics on how to fix his issues, he'll stick to hard work and baseball common sense. 

"I'm not too concerned with the analytic B.S., I'm worried about my mechanical fix for my next start."