Cubs

The year in Cubs quotes: 'We stinks'

554528.jpg

The year in Cubs quotes: 'We stinks'

Everyone showed up at spring training in great shape, brimming with confidence and enjoying the Arizona sunshine. The Cubs were banking on a carryover effect from their strong finish to the 2010 season. What could possibly go wrong?

Some seven months later, Jim Hendry spends his time on golf courses, while Mike Quade is ready to go fishing, waiting for the next general manager to decide his fate.

No one would admit that they saw a 71-91 season coming. Heres how they watched it all unfold.
We fully expect to be in contention in the National League Central. (I) dont have any doubt we can do that. Hendry on the first day of camp, Feb. 13.

I want to talk about the good team that we have. I want to focus on this year and be a better player, a better pitcher. Thats what everybodys looking forward to. Carlos Zambrano, Feb. 14.

You have to understand how supplements work. They dont make you Superman. Steroids make you Superman. Marlon Byrd responding to his relationship with BALCO founder Victor Conte, detailed again on HBOs Real Sports, Feb. 16.
Im cured. I got approval from the psychologist that I can be by myself. Zambrano, Feb. 22.

Even in Little League I never got involved with a teammate like that. Im not a troublemaker. Put it that way. Aramis Ramirez on his dugout altercation with Carlos Silva, after the first inning of the fourth spring-training game, March 2.

No storybook ending, but I dont believe in those things anyway. Quade after an Opening Day loss to the Pirates, April 1.

Were going to see what were made of. Randy Wells after the Cubs announce Wells and Andrew Cashner will be going on the disabled list, April 6.

Believe me, the last thing that I want to do this year is disrespect the manager. Zambrano after storming off the mound before Quade could get there to take the ball from him, April 13.
I cant win. Hendry, knowing the media would run wild with speculation after he hugged Albert Pujols, May 10.

That was embarrassing and that (expletive) got to stop. Quade, minutes after holding a closed-door meeting with his team following a loss in Cincinnati, May 16.

If we havent reached rock bottom with this, were pretty damn close. Quade after another loss to the Reds, May 17.

It was good to kind of blow some steam off and have some fun and watch that guy run around naked. Koyie Hill after a streaker ran onto the field during a win in Miami, May 18.

Im blessed. Byrd, thankful that the fastball that smashed into his face the night before at Fenway Park didnt leave any permanent damage, May 22.

Whatever heat comes, bring it on. Quade, June 3.

We played like a Triple-A team. This is embarrassing. Embarrassing for the team, for the owners, embarrassing for the fans. Embarrassing. Thats the word here for this team. We should know better than this. We should know that Ryan Theriot is not a a good fastball hitter. We stinks. Zambrano after Carlos Marmol blew the save in a 3-2 loss to the Cardinals, June 5.

(Bleep) the goat. Message on the back of T-shirts, June 14. (At least one player who regularly wore the shirt had no idea what the curse was all about, or how long it had been since the Cubs won the World Series.)

I have 100 percent confidence in Jim. Tom Ricketts, a little more than a month before the chairman fired Hendry, June 15.
Ive never bought into the (idea that) I should have a baseball guy to watch my baseball guy and his baseball guys. And then what do you get? A baseball guy to watch the baseball guy whos watching your baseball guy? Ricketts, defending team president Crane Kenney, June 15.

Sometimes the doctor is talking to you like when your wife is talking to you, youre like, Yeahyeahyeah but your mind is elsewhere. Zambrano, unable to explain the details of a back injury that landed him on the disabled list, July 1.

Hes better than me. Hall of Famer Ernie Banks after Starlin Castro was named to the All-Star team, July 3.

Were right where we need to be. Matt Garza after a comeback win in Washington left the Cubs 17 games under .500, July 7.

I was just mad because of my sore back I didnt get a tee time at Oakmont. Ryan Dempster, trying to brush off the shouting match he got into with Quade after the manager pulled him from the game, July 9.

When daddy tells you to do something, you do it. Hes the manager. You dont have to like it, but thats the decision. Hill, smoothing over the Dempster-Quade dugout argument in Pittsburgh, July 9.

Newsflash: Sometimes guys need a day here and there. Kerry Wood, insisting nothings wrong with him physically, July 24.

Im not a lunatic. Quade, believing his team can get back in the playoff race, even though they were 18 games under .500, July 26.

Change. Change. Change. A lot of change, a lot of changes to win. Zambrano, refusing to explain the changes he said he wants to see around this team, July 27.
Nobody has come forward to me from the team and said: We want to trade you. Jim hasnt talked to me about it. Whats the other guy? Kenney? Or the Ricketts nobody has talked to me about (this). Its only in the media. Its speculation that this team wants Ramirez. Ramirez during one of his many State of Ramirez updates, July 28.

(Its not like) if you didnt get something done by 3 p.m. today, this is a disaster. I dont put too much stock into that. The guys we kept for the most part are guys that still have a chance to be involved next year. Hendry, hours after the trade deadline, and nine days after Ricketts told him hed be fired, July 31.

Its going to be one of three things: Either Ronnie batting, Ronnie fielding or Ronnie with his hairpiece on fire. WGN Radios Pat Hughes before the unveiling of Ron Santos statue, Aug. 10.

His lockers empty. I dont know where hes at. He walked out on 24 guys that are battling their ass off for him. I dont know where hes gone, what hes doing. I heard he might retire. Quade on Zambrano after his meltdown in Atlanta, Aug. 12.
We will respect his wishes and honor them and move forward. Hendry on Zambrano, Aug. 12.

Hes a big man, but I think mentally hes weak. Alfonso Soriano on Zambrano, Aug. 13.
You cant fight change. Its big business. Were here to win games and the last couple years we didnt win enough of them. Hendry, at the news conference announcing his firing, Aug. 19.

The sabermetric stuff is important. But its just a piece and were not running the baseball organization by a computer model. Ricketts, Aug. 19.

You cant release 25 guys. Somebody had to pay the price. Ramirez, Aug. 19.

You want somebody else? Marmol, laughing off speculation that there could be a new closer next season, Sept. 5.
This organization has an extreme desire to actually bring a championship here. As far as it may look at times, I see it coming. Carlos Pena, eternal optimist, Sept. 7.

Im not going to wax nostalgic. I plan to be back. And I plan to do a good job next year. Quade, stubborn optimist, before the seasons final home game, Sept. 21.

You can bring here whoever you think the best manager in the big leagues is I dont think its going to be any different. The bottom line is as players we didnt get it done. Ramirez, Sept. 27.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 9th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 9th homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Get ready for an onslaught of Sammy Sosa homers and highlights coming nearly every day over the next month-plus.

After a slow start to his historic 1998 season, Sosa really started heating up in late May. He sent his 9th ball into the bleachers on May 22, beginning a run of 25 longballs in roughly five weeks of action leading up to June 30.

Sosa's 9th homer actually came off Greg Maddux, a solo shot with two outs to give the Cubs an early lead in Atlanta. Chicago reliever Bob Patterson wound up blowing the game wide open late as the Cubs stumbled to an 8-2 loss.

Maddux, meanwhile, tossed 8 stellar innings, allowing only 5 hits and 2 runs - including the 440-foot homer to Sosa.

Fun fact: The Braves leadoff hitter that day was none other than current NBC Sports Chicago baseball analyst Ozzie Guillen, who was in the midst of his first season in the big leagues not in a White Sox uniform.

Fun fact No. 2: Atlanta's No. 2 hitter in the game was Keith Lockhart, who is now a scout in the Cubs organization.

Cubs vs. Indians: Which team is better positioned to get back to the World Series in 2018?

Cubs vs. Indians: Which team is better positioned to get back to the World Series in 2018?

It's been nearly 19 months since the Cubs and Indians played what may go down as history as the most important baseball game ever.

Game 7s are always instant classics just because of the win-or-go-home aspect, but the added bonus on that early-November day in 2016 was the fact either one of Major League Baseball's longest championship droughts was going to end. It was just a matter of whether it would be the Cubs' 108-year history or the Indians' 70-year.

Obviously we all know how that played out and for the first time since holding a 3-1 lead in that 2016 World Series, the Indians are returning to Wrigley Field for a brief two-game set beginning Tuesday night.

We're only a little over a quarter of the way through the 2018 campaign so the playoffs are a long way away. But could these two teams be destined for another date in the Fall Classic?

Let's examine the current positions:

STARTING PITCHING

The rotation is the easiest place to look for championship teams. It's really hard to survive a month of high-intensity postseason baseball without a stable of workhorses (even in today's changing world of shorter and shorter outings). 

On paper in spring training, these looked like two of the top rotations in baseball. It hasn't played out that way for the Cubs, though there is clearly reason for optimism with the way Jose Quintana and Yu Darvish pitched over the weekend in Cincinnati.

But the Indians rotation has been absolutely incredible, even including Josh Tomlin who was just bumped to the bullpen with a 7.84 ERA. The Top 4 starters in Cleveland can go toe-to-toe with any in baseball, as Corey Kluber (2.36 ERA, 0.84 WHIP), Carlos Carrasco (3.65, 1.07), Trevor Bauer (2.59, 1.12) and Mike Cleveniger (2.87, 1.16) would create plenty of issues for the opposition in a playoff series.

The rotation is the true strength of the Indians and while the Cubs still boast a starting 5 that could potentially hold its own against anybody in baseball, this one has to go the way of Cleveland.

Edge: Indians

BULLPEN

When you feature Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, it'd be easy to look at that and chalk it up as a Cleveland victory in the bullpen category, but things haven't been so great for the Indians of late.

Miller can't stay healthy and even when he is on the mound, rough outings have dragged his overall numbers (3.09 ERA, 1.54 WHIP) down. We're not used to seeing Miller's ERA even start with a "2" let alone a "3" so this is definitely a cause for concern. Allen, meanwhile, has only blown 1 save in 7 chances, but he also has a 3.32 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, which would be his worst numbers of any season since his rookie year of 2012.

The rest of the Cleveland bullpen is a complete mess, with Zach McAllister (7.16 ERA), Dan Otero (7.47), Tyler Olson (6.08), Nick Goody (6.94) and Matt Belisle (5.06) all struggling.

The relief corps has been an area of major strength for the Cubs in the first quarter of the season. Only Luke Farrell has an ERA above 5.00 in that Cubs bullpen and four different pitchers boast ERAs under 2.00 — Brandon Morrow (1.13), Steve Cishek (1.71), Pedro Strop (1.35) and Brian Duensing (0.61). 

The Cubs' main trick will be managing the workload for all these guys to ensure they don't run full-speed into a wall as they did late last season. But for now, the Cubs bullpen is head and shoulders above the Indians.

Edge: Cubs

OFFENSE

This is the toughest area to evaluate between these two teams.

The Indians' offense is incredibly top-heavy with Francisco Lindor (.933 OPS), Jose Ramirez (.985) and Michael Brantley (.936) providing probably the best Top 3 in an order in baseball. Brantley wasn't around for that 2016 World Series and has missed so much time the last few years with health woes, but he's back and as good as ever right now.

Beyond that, Cleveland is still searching for help. With Lonnie Chisenhall, Tyler Naquin and Bradley Zimmer on the disabled list, the Indians outfield was so desperate for help they had to add Melky Cabrera to the mix as well as needing to rely on 37-year-old Rajai Davis.

Edwin Encarnacion will probably heat up at some point overall, but he's still on pace for close to 40 dingers. Jason Kipnis has been atrocious and Yonder Alonso has also underwhelmed. There's not much in the way of offensive help coming, either, until Zimmer and Chisenhall are healthy.

The Cubs feature a Jekyll and Hyde offense that sometimes looks like the best lineup in the game and at other times, causes their fanbase to pull out hair in frustration. But that's also the way the game has gone in general right now.

That being said, Kris Bryant is making a serious case as the best player in baseball, Willson Contreras is making a serious case as the best catcher in baseball, Albert Almora Jr. is making a serious case as deserving all the Cubs' at-bats in center field and Javy Baez is making a serious case as the starting All-Star second baseman this summer, currently leading the National League in RBI.

Even Ian Happ has utilized a recent hot streak in Cincinnati to bump up his season numbers (now boasting an .870 OPS) and soon-to-be-37-year-old Ben Zobrist has a .382 on-base percentage.

Once Anthony Rizzo gets back to being the hitter we all know him to be and Addison Russell starts depositing baseballs into the bleachers on a regular basis, you'd figure the Cubs offense would stablize.

There's too much potential and talent here to finish anywhere but Top 3 in the NL in runs scored, which cannot be said about the Indians in the AL.

Edge: Cubs

DEFENSE

Another area where the Cubs have been up-and-down, but once again, there is too much talent and potential here not to give Chicago the edge.

Zimmer's return will greatly improve the Indians' team defense and Lindor is still great, but Cleveland still can't match the Cubs' potential Gold Glove contenders at 5+ positions (Rizzo, Russell, Baez, Almora, Jason Heyward).

Edge: Cubs

INTANGIBLES

Both teams have some awesome veteran leadership and even the younger players are plenty battle-tested.

Terry Francona and Joe Maddon are two of the best managers in the game, but Francona may have a longer leash in Cleveland. Maddon's honeymoon period on Chicago's North Side ended the day the Cubs won the World Series, oddly.

The jury is still out on the new Cubs coaching staff, too. Chili Davis looks to be making an impact with the Cubs offense at times and his strategy of using the whole field and limiting strikeouts will take some time to really show strides on a consistent basis. The Cubs pitching staff is still walking FAR too many batters, but that's hardly Jim Hickey's fault.

Both teams should be plenty hungry all summer long as they were bounced from the 2017 postseason in ways that left poor tastes in their respective mouths.

But we'll give this edge to the Indians simply because they are still searching for that elusive championship, so maybe that drive will give them a leg up on the Cubs.

Edge: Indians

OVERALL

The Indians are 22-23, but actually sit in 1st place in the woeful American League Central.

The Cubs are 25-19, yet duking it out with a trio of other teams in their own division.

As such, the Indians' road TO the playoffs seems much, much easier as we sit here in the week leading up to Memorial Day. And the ability to cruise to a division title will allow them to rest and conserve their energy for October, while the Cubs will probably not get to coast to the NLDS like they did in 2016.

That rest and relaxtion may give the Indians an edge, but as of right now, this Cubs roster looks to be better equipped to win it all.