As the Cubs neared the halfway point of the season, Vine Line sat down with manager Dale Sveum to talk about the state of the team. In our monthly conversation, we covered the Cubs’ early struggles, the dismissal of hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo and how Sveum will be spending the All-Star break.
To read the full interview, pick up the July issue of Vine Line, on sale soon at Chicago-area newsstands. Or subscribe to Vine Line, the official magazine of the Chicago Cubs, for just $29.95.
The ability to steal bases consistently puts pressure on opposing defenses and allows runners to get into scoring position without the benefit of a hit. And no one does it better than Tony Campana. The Cubs center fielder is currently tied for the major league lead in stolen bases at 24 with Dodgers speedster Dee Gordon. But Campana has only 143 at-bats to Gordon’s 274. In other words, Campana knows how to swipe a bag.
For the July issue of Vine Line, Campana showed Cubs fans how he does it by getting a good lead, keeping an eye on the pitcher and using proper footwork. For more insider access to the Cubs, subscribe to Vine Line. And read the complete story in the July issue, which also features articles on the likely Cubs All-Stars, the legacy of Kerry Wood and the fans’ all-time best Cubs lineup.
For most of Spring Training, Cubs fans went back and forth over whether Jeff Samardzija would claim a spot in the Cubs rotation. But as the season rolls on and the numbers continue to add up, Samardzija has quietly made a case to earn another spot—one on July’s NL All-Star team. Though the Cubs currently sit at just 18-32, the former Notre Dame two-sport standout has been the anchor of a relatively strong starting staff. In 2012, Samardzija has:
- a 5-3 record (the Cubs are 7-3 in games he started)
- lasted through seven innings in four of his last seven starts and yielded no more than three runs in any of those outings
- 65 strikeouts, sixth in the NL
- 9.14 K/9, seventh in the NL
- a 1.6 WAR (wins above replacement), in the top 10 for NL pitchers
- a .70 HR/9, one of the 20 best in the NL (an impressive number considering the unpredictable winds of Wrigley Field)
- a respectable 3.09 ERA and 1.19 WHIP
Even considering Ryan Dempster’s solid start and Matt Garza’s high ceiling, the hard-throwing Samardzija has become the ace of the Cubs staff for now and likely the future.
Don’t miss out on your chance to vote for Vine Line‘s all-time best Cubs roster. We’re letting readers decide who is the best-ever Cub at each position, and the results will be featured in the July All-Star edition of the magazine. Cast your vote now before the poll closes.
The season is just over a month in, but it’s becoming hard for fans and opposing managers alike to ignore first baseman Bryan LaHair and his thunderous bat. Then again, baseball minds have been ignoring LaHair’s career for a while now.
The 29-year-old spent nine seasons in the minors, where he posted a .295 career average. His only two stints in the big leagues were 150 plate appearances in the second half of 2008 with the Mariners and a September call-up with the Cubs last year (after hitting .331 with 38 home runs and 109 RBI in 129 games for Triple-A Iowa). But prior to Spring Training, first-year manager Dale Sveum handed LaHair the Opening Day job at first base, where he’s capitalized on his opportunity and become the most recent poster child for never giving up.
If deciding the All-Star team was based on stats alone, the left-handed slugger would be a lock. Below shows where he compares with other National League first basemen who have played at least 18 games this year:
1. Bryan LaHair – .384
2. Lyle Overbay, ARI – .333
3. Adam LaRoche, WSH – .316
1. Bryan LaHair – .476
2. Lyle Overbay, ARI – .440
3. Joey Votto, CIN – .439
1. Bryan LaHair – .767
2. Adam LaRoche, WSH – . 524
3. Garrett Jones, PIT – .529
1. Freddie Freeman, ATL – 35
2. Bryan LaHair – 33
3. Yonder Alonso, SD – 31
1. Freddie Freeman, ATL – 22
2. Joey Votto, CIN – 16
3. Bryan LaHair – 14
1. Joey Votto, CIN – 15
2. Yonder Alonso, SD – 11
3. Bryan LaHair – 9
1. Bryan LaHair – 8
2. Freddie Freeman, ATL – 6
3. Adam LaRoche, WSH – 5
1. Freddie Freeman, ATL – 26
2. Todd Helton, COL – 21
3. Adam LaRoche, WSH – 19
4. Bryan LaHair – 18
1. Joey Votto, CIN – 27
2. Bryan LaHair – 16
3. Adam LaRoche, WSH – 15
Among NL first basemen, nobody’s name pops up at the top of the league’s most important stats as often as LaHair’s. With his feel-good story, the Cubs enormous following and his gaudy numbers, we shouldn’t be surprised to see the Cubs clean-up hitter taking the field on July 10 in Kansas City along with the rest of the game’s elite.