Cubs

Steve Stone's Mailbag: Sergio Santos, Ted Lilly

Steve Stone's Mailbag: Sergio Santos, Ted Lilly

Friday, April 23, 2010
10:35 PM

Steve Stone dives into his mailbag to answer some of your questions about Sergio Santos, Ted Lilly and more!

Question from Bryan, Alsip, IL: Can history repeat itself & Sergio Santos move into the closer role by late July?

Steve Stone: I am not sure what the significance of late July is but Sergio Santos has closer stuff. What he doesnt have is experience. Santos has only pitched for a year. All who follow the Chicago White Sox know that Santos was a number one draft choice for the Diamondbacks as a power hitting shortstop. He finally decided that it wasnt going the way he wanted it to go and so he decided to start pitching. He has been very good so far in five appearances covering a total of 5 innings. He has only walked one, struck out 8 and given up one hit in those 5 innings but before we anoint him as a closer, we have to see a whole lot more of him in some pressure situations and allow him to get comfortable in a major league situation.

Question from &8232;&8232;Sacramento, Chicago, IL: Hey Steve, what are your thoughts on Konerko and Pierzynskis contracts? Do you think both sides will work something out before the end of this year? Or is this the last year for both in a Sox uniform?

Stone: Thirteen games into the season, its not really the right time to even think about contracts for next year unless you are talking about guys like Joe Mauer or really talented young guys that will be the foundation of your organization for years to come. I think that Kenny Williams will take a wait-and-see approach to both of these players, both Paul and AJ have done a good job. A lot depends on the economics and what each will want to give up their free agency and what some of the young guys might be able to do. If Dayan Viciedo shows that he can hit and Tyler Flowers is what the White Sox thought he was when the acquired him from Atlanta, then you have some candidates for first base as well as behind the plate or a combination of those 2 positions plus designated hitters. A lot has to do with what kind of attendance the Sox have this year which certainly have to do with how well they do in the standings. Right now with a payroll touching 105106 million dollars, Im not too sure how much higher if at all the Sox will go next year. It is safe to say that those decisions are best left for considerably down the road in both cases.

Question from &8232;&8232;Anthony, Frankfort, IL: What do you expect out of Ted Lilly when he rejoins the Cubs this weekend? What does he bring to the starting rotation?

Stone: He brings one of the most dependable left-hand pitchers in the National League in the last couple years. Lily has been a very reliable starting pitcher since putting on that Cub uniform in the 2007 season. In 2007 he was 15-8, in 2008, he was 17-9 and last year he was 12-9 for a mediocre Cubs team. In the 3 seasons with the Cubs, he has won more games than Carlos Zambrano.
Question from Eric, Northbrook, IL: Do you think Andrew Cashner could be on his way to provide bullpen help for the Cubs?

Stone: Since the Cubs drafted Andrew Cashner in the first round of 2008 with the 19th overall pick, I believed that the 66 210 pound right-hander is better suited for a role in the bullpen. The Cubs however have used Cashner almost exclusively as a starting pitcher. The cubs also feel that Jeff Samardzija is a candidate to be a starting pitcher. I dont agree with them on that assessment either. So it all depends on what the Cubs feel on the future of Cashner but the one thing we do know for sure, is at this point of the year with 5 blown saves, a 1-5 record, a 5.59 ERA and already one of the relievers on the disabled list, the Cubs bullpen is a mess. And if Jim Hendry does not get it straightened out, its going to be a very long year for the Northsiders.
&8232;&8232;Question from Larry, Schaumburg, IL: Who would you say is the MLBs top three MVPs these first couple weeks of the baseball season and why?

Stone: First of all, we do realize that MLB persay doesnt give out 2 week MVPs. If they did, it might surprise people around baseball that Scott Podsednik is leading the American League in hitting at .457 so I doubt that one of the newest members of the KC Royals is going to spend the majority of the season there and I dont believe he will win the MVP as well as Pudge Rodriguez leading the National at .444 for the Nationals and I dont think that he is going to stay there. If you like runs batted in, you could choose Nelson Cruz from Texas, hes got 15 to lead the American League. Or you can go to Jorge Cantu of Florida leading the National league at 16. If home runs is your choice, well you can stay with Cruz who has 7 and the National League you can go to Chase Utley who has 6. But its probably safe to say that somewhere along the line, you have to figure the usual suspects will start to creep up as the pretenders start to fall down.

An interesting note for Chicago fans is the Milwaukee 3rd baseman given to them for 20,000 courtesy of the Cubs is a fella by the name of Casey McGhee . McGhee is hitting .400 which places him 3rd in the National League and he has 4 homeruns which ties him for 4th in the National League. After hitting over .300 last year, he seems to be off to another great start. If you prefer pitchers, well then you can look at Derek Lowe, Roy Halladay, Ubaldo Jiminez or Tim Linecum as they are all 3-0. Thats in the National League. In the American League, youd have to say John Rausch was pressed into the closing role for the Minnesota Twins when Joe Nathan was lost for the season who is 6-6 in saves for the season. All this however goes to show you one thing, that is, the reason why they dont hand out 3 week MVPs.

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Javy Baez leads Cubs to huge win with a little help from Pedro Strop

Javy Baez leads Cubs to huge win with a little help from Pedro Strop

For the second time this season, Pedro Strop has added another chapter to the legend of El Mago.

And for at least the second documented time over the last few years, Strop also helped give Javy Baez the motivation needed to lift the Cubs to victory.

On an 0-2 pitch from Mets reliever Seth Lugo in the eighth inning, Baez smacked a 3-run homer into the right-field bleachers, notching the Cubs shortstop another curtain call and sending the 39,077 fans at Wrigley Field into euphoric bliss.

"That was big. He was so frustrated," said Strop, who picked up his 9th save in the 5-3 victory. "When I was walking to the 'pen, he was so frustrated after that first strikeout [against Jacob deGrom]. He was like, 'He's not throwing fastballs, just sliders!' I was like, 'Bro, it's good that you know that. So go up with another plan. Do your thing. You're gonna win this ballgame.'"

Baez's 100th career homer accomplished exactly that and in doing so, changed the entire tone and tenor of the first weekend of summer on Chicago's North Side.

There's no way the Cubs wanted to go into a four-game set with the contending Atlanta Braves after having just dropped three of four to a hapless Mets team that is melting down inside the clubhouse. It also would've been the Cubs' ninth loss in their 13 games, but Baez's clutch blast helped them salvage a series split and maintain sole possession of first place entering a new week of baseball.

"That's the last thing you want to do is lose another one," said Cole Hamels, who gave the Cubs 7 strong innings, but did not factor in the decision. "... That's the momentum we need to take forth, especially with the series that's coming up."

It also continued one of the strangest/coolest statistical oddities of the 2019 MLB season, given that it came on an 0-2 count.

Baez now has more homers after falling behind in the count 0-2 this year than NINE other MLB teams and nearly half of his homers (9 of 19) have come after getting into the extreme pitcher's count:

What makes Baez so tough on 0-2 counts?

For starters, he's never afraid of striking out, possessing a fearless nature Joe Maddon and other Cubs players have admired for some time.

But Hamels also provided some great perspective on why Baez might be so good in a count when pitchers typically dominate:

"I think that's kinda the difficult part with him — sometimes it can always be 0-2 with him," Hamels said. "Even if you haven't thrown a pitch yet, you treat it like 0-2. If that's just the nature of what pitchers do to him — if it's considered almost always an 0-2 count — he's gonna get really good at it because that's just the way he survives and the way he lives and plays the game. 

"With him though, being a teammate, you just know that he's never out of it. He's trying to hit a homer every at-bat, every pitch. That obviously can make a pitcher think a little bit longer and maybe try to be too perfect and therefore that's why they make mistakes."

The win puts a nice bow on what was otherwise a sloppy weekend for the Cubs, who often looked flat at the plate and made uncharacteristic mistakes on the basepaths and in the field. 

Prior to that homer from Baez, the Cubs had only managed to push across 1 earned run in 13 innings against a Mets bullpen that entered the weekend with a 5.39 ERA and more blown saves than any other team in baseball.

It's the second time in just over a week where the Cubs managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but the last time (Anthony Rizzo's homer off Kenley Jansen last Saturday in L.A.) apparently wasn't enough to spark the team to get back to their winning ways. 

Was this Baez blast enough to wake the team from their midseason slumber and be this year's seminal moment that we all look back on in September? 

ICYMI: 35th anniversary of The Sandberg Game, Bulls' offseason begins with productive draft night, Zack Collins homers for his first MLB hit with White Sox

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USA TODAY

ICYMI: 35th anniversary of The Sandberg Game, Bulls' offseason begins with productive draft night, Zack Collins homers for his first MLB hit with White Sox

The Bulls and the Blackhawks made top 10 draft selections that they hope will have a long-term impact on their respective franchises. The Bulls nabbed speedy North Carolina guard Coby White with the 7th overall pick, while the Blackhawks got center Kirby Dach at No.3 overall in the NHL draft. The Cubs and White Sox both had intriguing weekends, while Sunday marked the 35th anniversary of one of the biggest moments in Cubs history. 

Cubs

Sunday marked the 35th anniversary of "The Sandberg Game". This is the game that many recognize as the moment Ryne Sandberg became a household name. The infamous June 23, 1984 game between the Cubs and the Cardinals took place on NBC’s “Game of the Week.” The game also played a huge part in the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry becoming perhaps the best that the MLB has to offer.


The 2019 Cubs are waiting on closer Craig Kimbrel t reach game-ready status. In the meantime they have activated veteran Tony Barnette off of the Sunday 60-day injured list. Between their newfound six-man rotation and their now, crowded bullpen, the Cubs are hoping they possess enough depth to gain some ground in the race for the NL Central crown. 
 

Bulls

The Bulls, by all accounts, had a very successful 2019 NBA Draft night. They got their PG of the future in North Carolina guard Coby White and selected a rim-protecting big man in Arkans center Daniel Gafford with their second round selection. The Bulls front office is confident in White’s versatility paying off big time and he certainly will help Chicago get out in transition more often. White stole the show on draft night, having quite the candid reaction to finding out the North Carolina teammate Cam Johnson got selected by the Phoenix Suns at No. 11 overall.

The next step for Bulls fans will be seeing the Bulls draft picks (along with some undrafted free agents and fringe NBAers) play in NBA Summer League action. Bulls fans will be pleased to hear that the Bulls summer league schedule does have them facing off against 2019 No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson on July 8, 8:30 p.m

 

White Sox


It’s been a whirlwind of a week for White Sox youngster Zack Collins. After getting a walk in his first taste of MLB action, Collins turned heads with a home run in the second game of his MLB career. Collins gave White Sox fans a preview of what to expect down the line. Collins is going to hit for power and hopefully draw his fair share of walks along the way. He certainly showed off that potential on Friday night.

 

Blackhawks


The Blackhawks chose center Kirby Dach with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. The Blackhawks had many options at the No. 3 pick, but they went with Dach with the hope that the 6-foot-4, 197-lb center has the type of game that will shine through in high-pressure moments. It’s a good omen for the Blackhawks that the last time the draft was in Vancouver, they selected franchise center Jonathan Toews (back in 2006). Here’s to hoping that Dach can one day have the same type of impact as “The Captain”. But now all the attention has shifted to Sunday, when the negotiating window for NHL free agents opened up. And the Blackhawks are expected to be one of the more active teams throughout this process as they prepare for July 1.