Iowa earned a big win, pitching powered Tennessee, Kane County took the series, and Boise cruised to victory Thursday. Only Mesa lost, while Daytona was rained out. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:
Iowa Cubs (57-48)
1st Place (+2.5)
Iowa routed New Orleans at home by a final score of 11-2 despite being outhit 14-12 by the Zephyrs.
- LHP Eric Jokisch gave up two earned runs over 5.1 innings, fanning five in the win.
- 2B Javier Baez (.255) finished 2-for-5 with a run, a solo homer and three RBI (66).
- PH Josh Vitters (.205) tallied his eighth homer of the season in his only at-bat.
- 1B Mike Olt (.400) also notched two hits, including a double (1), and knocked in three (3) in his first game since being sent to Iowa from the Chicago Cubs.
Tennessee Smokies (18-16)
1st Place (+0.5)
RHP Pierce Johnson spun six shutout frames for the Smokies en route to a 4-2 home win over the Braves to take over first place in the division.
- In his first game with the Smokies, 1B Lars Anderson (.500) went 2-for-4 with a run, a double (1) and an RBI (1).
- SS Addison Russell (.236) contributed the other Tennessee multihit game—his fifth such contest in 15 games since joining the Cubs organization.
- Johnson’s effort was his second consecutive outing without allowing an earned run (11.0 IP). He managed a season-high-tying eight punch-outs over six innings, giving up no earned runs.
- RHP Jeff Lorick (4.53) recorded the first two outs of the eighth for his ninth hold.
- RHP Frank Batista (0.83) completed the game, earning his sixth save.
Kane County Cougars (21-11)
1st Place (+3.0)
Kane County clinched the home series win over South Bend by taking the middle game, 5-3.
- 1B Jacob Rogers (.270) paced the offense with three hits, including a solo homer, and two RBI (44).
- LF Shawon Dunston (.265), 2B Ben Carhart (.282) and CF Trey Martin (.245) tallied two singles apiece. Dunston knocked in one (26) and stole a base (13), while Carhart plated two (37).
- LHP Michael Heesh (2.42) threw two scoreless innings for his second hold.
- RHP James Pugliese (1.54) earned his third save with 1.1 scoreless innings.
Boise Hawks (1-1)
4th Place (-1.5)
The Hawks earned their first win of the second half, topping host Everett by a final score of 7-3.
- 1B Danny Canela (.293) put Boise ahead with a two-run shot in the first (4 HR, 25 RBI).
- C Justin Marra (.305) provided insurance with a two-run homer of his own in the eighth (6 HR, 26 RBI).
- 2B David Bote (.375) recorded the lone multihit game for the Hawks, going 2-for-4 with a run.
- LHP Sam Wilson (3-0, 3.52) offered two scoreless innings of relief for his third win of the year.
Mesa Cubs (13-12)
3rd Place (-3.0)
Mesa surrendered a 5-1 lead on the road, losing 7-6 on a walk-off single from the AZL Athletics’ Robert Martinez.
- CF Kevonte Mitchell (.313) finished 2-for-3 with a run, a walk, a triple (1) and an RBI (3).
- RF Shamil Ubiera (.250) knocked in two (11), finishing 1-for-3 with a walk.
- Five Mesa errors contributed to three unearned runs.
- RHP Jesus Castillo (3.52) earned his first hold despite allowing four runs (two earned) in 1.1 innings pitched.
- LHP Andin Diaz (1-1, 1.54) suffered his first loss and first blown save, allowing two runs (one earned) in 0.2 frames.
Matt Adams has been the lone consistent bat for St. Louis this season. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
St. Louis got off to a slow start this season, but as every Cubs fan knows, you can’t count out the Cards just because of a few rough weeks. The Cubs’ closest NL Central foe put a .500 April behind them thanks to some dominant starting pitching and a resurgent offense that is climbing the ranks after an uncharacteristically sluggish start. First baseman Matt Adams has poured it on, and Jhonny Peralta has added some much-needed pop to a relatively low-power offense. The team suffered a major blow when cornerstone catcher Yadier Molina was put on the DL, potentially for the remainder of the season, after thumb surgery. Third-year manager Mike Matheny often gets criticized for his odd decisions, particularly his bullpen usage. But despite his alleged missteps, the Cardinals never seem to miss a beat, proving once again to be one of the stronger clubs in the game.
(3.6 RA/G, 4TH IN NL)
Outside of a pair of rough starts against the Cubs, Adam Wainwright has been downright unhittable this season. The Cardinals ace and projected Sunday starter has been as impressive as any arm in baseball and anchors a very strong rotation. Friday’s starter Joe Kelly has been tough in limited action, but he’s dealt with hamstring issues. Lance Lynn has been solid as well. Though inconsistent, Shelby Miller, who will start Saturday, has displayed flashes of the talent that made him one of the game’s top prospects. Michael Wacha was continuing to build upon his late-season breakout in 2013, but a stress reaction in his shoulder will keep him sidelined until at least September. The Cardinals do run into some issues in the bullpen, especially in the base on balls department. Trevor Rosenthal is racking up saves, but his walk rate is approaching uncomfortable levels for a closer. However, right-hander Pat Neshek has been one of the better stories of 2014, posting a 0.68 ERA over 40 innings and a 9.0 K/9 ratio in his first All-Star season. If Jason Motte can return to his 2012 form and fellow fireballer Carlos Martinez can lower his walk total, St. Louis has the arms to end games quickly.
(3.7 RS/G, 14TH IN NL)
With Molina potentially out for the year, the offense lacks the consistent bat that has driven the Cards for years. Adams is doing what he can offensively, and the always-producing and under-the-radar Matt Holliday has also bounced back from a slow start and is providing some power. But his season totals are hardly what’s to be expected from the six-time All Star. Peralta leads the team with 14 home runs, but is hitting just .256 (only he and Adams have double-digit home run totals). Prospect Oscar Taveras and offseason acquisition Peter Bourjos haven’t lived up to their hype this season, while second baseman Kolten Wong has also struggled to find his footing in the major leagues. It wouldn’t be a shock to see St. Louis add a much-needed bat before the trade deadline to continue their playoff push.
The Cubs farm teams went a perfect 5-0 Wednesday, with Boise unable to play due to rain. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:
Iowa Cubs (56-48)
1st Place (+2.5)
The I-Cubs broadened their first-place lead with a 13-4 home victory over New Orleans.
- Three different I-Cubs hitters notched three RBI in 3B Kris Bryant (.313, 29 RBI), 1B Lars Anderson (.287, 19 RBI), and RF Ryan Kalish (.215, 22 RBI)
- 2B Javier Baez (.253, 63 RBI) added two of his own.
- RHP Dae-Eun Rhee pitched six innings, giving up only one unearned run while picking up his first quality start in two starts since joining Iowa. He had nine in 16 starts with Tennessee.
- RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (4.50) offered a perfect seventh inning with two strikeouts.
Tennessee Smokies (17-16)
2nd Place (-0.5)
Tennessee took the middle game of a five-game home series with Mississippi by a final score of 6-3.
- 2B Stephen Bruno (.278, 30 RBI) and 3B Christian Villanueva (.263, 15 RBI) both went 2-for-5 with two RBI each. Bruno tallied his fourth triple, and Villanueva tacked on his seventh double.
- RHP Eduardo Figueroa earned his first win in his ninth start, limiting the opponent to fewer than two runs for the sixth time this year He gave up one earned run over five innings.
- Figueroa was followed by RHP P.J. Francescon (4.00), who tossed two hitless frames to earn his third hold, and RHP Zach Cates (1.80), who recorded his first save with one scoreless inning.
Daytona Cubs (19-12)
1st Place (+2.5)
Daytona jumped ahead with a four-run second and never looked back, besting host Palm Beach, 6-2.
- LHP Rob Zastryzny pitched six scoreless innings to pick up the win.
- Scoring started with a leadoff homer from 1B Dan Vogelbach (.272), one of his two round-trippers in his third career multi-homer game.
- CF Billy McKinney (.286) hit in his sixth straight game (and 11th of his last 12) with his first triple since joining the Cubs organization.
- RHP Justin Amlung (4.86) spun three innings for his first save, allowing two runs and fanning five.
Kane County Cougars (20-11)
1st Place (+3.0)
Kane County scored five runs on 11 hits to defeat South Bend at home, 5-2.
- RHP Duane Underwood picked up the win, giving up two earned runs over five innings while striking out seven.
- RF Kevin Brown (.316) recorded his second consecutive three-hit game, finishing with two RBI (6).
- DH Cael Brockmeyer (.320) doubled twice for the first time this season.
- 3B Jeimer Candelario (.248) knocked in his 19th and 20th runs in 29 games since joining the Cougars.
- LHP Gerardo Concepcion (3.86) threw three scoreless innings for his second hold.
- RHP Jose Arias (2.14) earned his third save with a scoreless ninth inning.
Mesa Cubs (13-11)
3rd Place (-2.0)
RHP C.J. Edwards returned from the disabled list to contribute to Mesa’s 10-0 win at the AZL Rangers. The shutout marked Mesa’s second such win of the season.
- Edwards pitched two scoreless innings, striking out two.
- Seven Mesa hitters had two hits apiece, including two doubles from C Erick Castillo (.235, 3 2B).
- SS Gleyber Torres (.231, 1 2B), 1B Roney Alcala (.216, 1 2B), and LF Ricardo Marcano (.229, 5 2B) each knocked a double. With Castillo’s two two-baggers, Mesa had five in total.
- LHP Jose Paulino (1-2, 7.64) contributed four shutout innings of relief for his first win.
Pitching powered Iowa, Tennessee won in walk-off fashion, and Mesa fought back to claim a victory Tuesday. Daytona and Boise both lost, while Kane County had the day off. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:
Iowa Cubs (55-48)
1st Place (+1.5)
RHP Dallas Beeler spun seven shutout innings in his fifth consecutive quality start, as the I-Cubs blanked visiting New Orleans 1-0.
- CF Matt Szczur (.246) scored the game’s only run on a bases-loaded walk with SS Chris Valaika (.289, 48 RBI) batting.
- LHP Zac Rosscup (2.49) and RHP Blake Parker (1.29) completed the shutout with a perfect inning each. Rosscup earned his eighth hold, and Parker earned his league-leading 21st save.
Tennessee Smokies (16-16)
T-2nd Place (-1.5)
Tennessee beat the Mississippi Braves 8-7 with a walk-off ground-rule double from CF Jae-Hoon Ha (.219) in the 10th inning.
- 1B Charles Cutler (.333) had three hits, including a two-run homer, and three RBI (34).
- C Luis Flores (.231) and PH Dustin Geiger (.224) each added homers of their own.
- RF Jorge Soler (.415) went 2-for-4 with a run and his 22nd RBI before being promoted to Iowa after the game.
- RHP Frank Batista (2-0, 0.89) tossed two scoreless frames to earn the win in relief.
Daytona Cubs (18-12)
1st Place (+1.5)
Daytona managed three runs on 10 hits, falling to host Palm Beach, 9-3.
- RHP Juan Paniagua suffered the loss in his first start since joining Daytona from Kane County.
- CF Albert Almora (.283) went 2-for-3 with a run, a solo homer (7) and three RBI (50). After the game, he was promoted to Tennessee.
- 3B Wes Darvill (.278) went 3-for-4 with a run, his ninth double and his third stolen base.
- RF Billy McKinney (.283) extended his hitting streak to five with his fourth multihit game in his last eight. He finished 2-for-4 with his fourth double.
Boise Hawks (0-1)
T-3rd Place (-1.0)
Everett AquaSox pitching shut down Hawks hitters, allowing just three hits, as Boise lost in Everett, 6-0.
- RF Jeffrey Baez (.267), C Mark Zagunis (.341) and LF Charles White (.200) recorded Boise’s three hits, all singles. Jeffrey Baez was later called up to Daytona.
- Hawks hitters recorded five walks, including two each from Zagunis and 2B Chesny Young (.354).
Mesa Cubs (12-11)
3rd Place (-2.5)
Mesa returned to action with a 7-6 comeback win over the visiting AZL Dodgers. The Cubs entered the bottom of the seventh trailing 6-1 and won on a walk-off RBI double from RF Eloy Jimenez (.286).
- Jimenez paced the offense, going 3-for-5 with a solo homer to tie the game in the eighth and the walk-off double, bringing him to eight RBI on the season.
- CF Kevonte Mitchell (.286), 1B Roney Alcala (.188) and 3B Adonis Paula (.222) each added two hits.
- RHP Adbert Alzolay (2-1, 6.52) surrendered four earned runs over three frames of relief to earn his second win.
Jorge Soler is one of the many reasons the Cubs have the top farm system in the game, according to ESPN’s Keith Law (Photo by Stephen Green)
ESPN insider Keith Law unveiled his midseason top five farm systems Tuesday, and, based off his prospect rankings from earlier this month, the baseball world shouldn’t be surprised to see the Cubs at the top of the list. The organization has three prospects in the top eight of Law’s individual rankings in Kris Bryant (No. 1), Addison Russell (No. 4) and Javier Baez (No. 8). And Cuban import Jorge Soler checks in at No. 38.
Along with that quartet, Albert Almora, C.J. Edwards and Pierce Johnson have all generated buzz and graced various prospect lists in the past year. But the farm system goes even deeper than that.
Here’s some of what Law had to say about the Cubs system:
I know Cubs fans have heard this before, but just wait ’til next year, because this club is going to get good in a hurry, at least on the run-scoring side of the ledger. The system already had the minors’ best collection of high-end bats, and it added several more during the past seven weeks, including the fourth-best prospect in the minors in shortstop Addison Russell, who came over with promising left fielder Billy McKinney in the Jeff Samardzija trade with the Athletics.
The Cubs also added catcher/left fielder Kyle Schwarber with the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft. It’s a pick I think was an overdraft in part due to doubts he will stick at either position, but he has raked so far in limited at-bats, mostly against younger competition. They used the savings on Schwarber’s bonus to grab several high-upside high school arms later in the draft, including right-hander Dylan Cease, whose elbow ligament injury might require Tommy John surgery but who was seen as a top-15 pick talent before his injury. Cease has a fastball that can touch 100 mph and at times a plus breaking ball.
Most of the successful arms in the system this year have been pitchers at low-Class A Kane County, particularly undersized Taiwanese right-hander Tseng Jen-Ho and 2012 draftee Paul Blackburn, which means the Cubs probably won’t get the starting pitching help they need from their system in the next year or two. Fortunately for them and their fans, they have the bats to trade to acquire pitching from outside the organization.
Rounding out Law’s top five were the Twins, Astros, Mets and Pirates.
Daytona’s offense was dominant Monday, while Boise won despite only four hits. Iowa, Tennessee and Kane County couldn’t get it done, and Mesa had the day off. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league action:
Iowa Cubs (54-48)
1st Place (+0.5)
Iowa couldn’t overcome an early four-run deficit, falling at home against New Orleans, 5-4.
- 2B Javier Baez (.251) extended his hitting streak to 15 games (.306/19-for-62), going 1-for-4.
- 1B Lars Anderson (.277) went 1-for-4 with a seventh-inning, two-run homer.
- In his first Triple-A rehab appearance, RHP Kyuji Fujikawa (9.00) allowed a run on two hits in the eighth inning.
Tennessee Smokies (15-16)
3rd Place (-2.0)
Tennessee’s three runs in the bottom of the ninth weren’t enough, as they fell to Mississippi, 4-3.
- CF Jae-Hoon Ha (.219) went 1-for-5 with a three-run homer in the ninth inning.
- LF/RF Jonathan Mota (.243) posted his second-straight three-hit game, going 3-for-4 with a run.
- RF Jorge Soler (.410) recorded his seventh multihit game, going 2-for-3.
- RHP Tony Zych (4.63) struck out three hitters in two scoreless innings of relief.
Daytona Cubs (18-11)
1st Place (+1.5)
Daytona recorded 11 hits in a 9-6 victory over host Palm Beach.
- 3B Jordan Hankins (.254) went 1-for-3 with a fourth-inning, three-run blast.
- LF Rock Shoulders (.222) reached base four times, going 2-for-2 with two walks and a home run.
- 1B Dan Vogelbach (.271) went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI (51).
- RHP Michael Jensen (5-4, 2.56) earned the win, and RHP Starling Peralta (3.72) picked up the save.
Kane County Cougars (19-11)
1st Place (+2.0)
Kane County managed just five hits in a 3-1 loss at Great Lakes.
- 3B Jeimer Candelario (.248) went 1-for-4 with a fifth-inning, solo home run.
- RF Kevin Brown (.265) went 3-for-4 with his second double of the campaign.
- RHPs Zak Hermans (3.60) and Michael Wagner (3.19) combined to toss three scoreless innings of relief.
Boise Hawks (22-16)
T-1st Place (–)
Boise defeated visiting Salem-Keizer, 7-6, despite being outhit, 13-4.
- DH Justin Marra (.318) went 1-for-3 with an eighth-inning, solo blast.
- PH/C Dan Canela (.304) went 1-for-3 with a double (9) and a game-high three RBI (23).
- LHP Sam Wilson (2-0, 4.05) earned the win, and RHP David Garner (4.15) picked up the save.
The Cubs kick off their first homestand of the second half with 10-games against the Padres, Cardinals and Rockies at Wrigley Field from July 22-31. The team’s throwback uniform, promotional giveaways, specialty food and beverage offerings, and entertainment will all mirror the sights and sounds of the 1970s as part of the season-long celebration of the ballpark’s 100th birthday.
This homestand’s special event is Cubs Girl Scout Night on Monday, July 28. The team has worked with the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana to host the special event for Girl Scouts, family and friends, with attendees receiving a commemorative Cubs-themed Girl Scout patch. In addition, $3 per each ticket sold will be donated back to the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.
On Sunday, July 27, the Cubs will wear a popular throwback, light blue road uniform from 1978 to honor the Cubs of the late ’70s. The Cardinals will participate as well by wearing 1978-inspired throwback uniforms.
Fans coming to the ballpark will have the chance to collect unique promotional items at various games of the homestand, beginning with a special Cubs Wine Tote presented by E&J Gallo Wine for the first 10,000 adults 21-and-over on July 22. On July 24, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Cubs T-shirt. On July 25, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Jack Brickhouse bobblehead with an audio chip of Brickhouse calling Ernie Banks 500th home run. On July 26, the first 10,000 adults will receive an Ernie Banks replica statue. The first 5,000 children on Sunday, July 27, will receive a ’70s Throwback Cubs Magic Baseball. The following evening, 5,000 fans will receive a Northwestern football magnet schedule when they depart the ballpark, while attendees of the Cubs’ annual Girl Scout Night will receive a commemorative Cubs-themed Girl Scout Patch. On July 29, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Mobile Device Power Bank, and the first 10,000 fans in the ballpark July 30, will receive a Cubs T-shirt.
Specialty Food Offerings:
Levy Restaurants continues its decade-inspired menu at the Decade Diner, located inside Gate D near Section 142. The 1970s homestand features a Kraft Breaded Chicken Parmesan Sandwich with herb-breaded chicken breast, house-made marinara sauce and melted Kraft Provolone Cheese, served on a toasted hoagie roll. Fans can also try the Classic Tuna Melt homestand special, which includes Levy Restaurants’ signature tuna salad served on toasted rye bread with aged Kraft Cheddar Cheese and sliced tomatoes.
The Decade Dogs stand near Section 123 is serving the 1970s Pulled Pork Dog, a Vienna Beef hot dog topped with pulled pork, barbeque sauce and coleslaw. The Pulled Pork Dog is available all season.
Adults 21-and-over can enjoy a Cooperstown Iced Tea, made with Captain Morgan’s Ready-to-Drink Long Island Iced Tea Mix. The cocktail is a variation on Long Island Iced Tea, which surged to popularity during the ’70s.
Wrigley Field hosted noteworthy baseball and non-baseball events during the 1970s, including Ernie Banks’ 500th home run and the Chicago Bears’ last game at Wrigley Field.
In 1970, Mr. Cub Ernie Banks connected for his 500th home run off Pat Jarvis to help beat the Braves, 4-3. He would end his career with a franchise-record 512 home runs.
Seven months later, in the Bears last game at Wrigley Field, Jack Concannon passed for four touchdowns and ran for another in a 35-17 victory over the rival Green Bay Packers.
On a frigid day in April 1972, Cubs rookie Burt Hooton threw a no-hitter in his fourth career start to beat the Phillies, 4-0. He was the first National League rookie in 60 years to throw a no-hitter. Five months later, Milt Pappas nearly threw a perfect game, as he retired the first 26 Padres batters. He ended up walking Larry Stahl with two outs in the ninth on a questionable ball-four call, but he retired the next batter to complete the impressive no-hitter and beat San Diego, 8-0.
On May 14, 1976, Dave Kingman of the New York Mets hit the longest home run in Wrigley Field history, driving the ball more than 500 feet. The ball traveled down Kenmore Avenue.
On July 28, 1977, the Cubs and Reds combined to tie the National League record for most home runs in a single game with 11. The Cubs beat the Reds, 16-15, in a 13-inning classic.
Tickets for the Padres, Cardinals and Rockies remain available at cubs.com or 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
July has been pretty good to Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. For starters, fans voted the 24-year-old into his first career All-Star Game earlier this month. Then, despite getting swept by Arizona over the weekend, he was named the NL Player of the Week for the period ending July 20.
Over the three-game set, Rizzo hit three home runs, tallied 14 total bases and recorded a 1.273 slugging percentage to go along with four RBI and five runs scored. On the season, he’s hitting .281/.384/.522 (AVG/OBP/SLG) and is tied with the Marlins Giancarlo Stanton for the NL lead in homers with 23, already matching his career high.
The Cubs are off Monday before resuming action Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.
Tennessee snapped a small losing streak, and Daytona piled on the hits to pick up a victory Sunday in a full slate of minor league action. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s minor league games:
Iowa Cubs (54-47)
1st Place (+1.5)
Iowa had its three-game winning streak snapped, falling 4-3 in 12 innings at Round Rock.
- LHP Chris Rusin pitched seven innings, giving up two earned runs and striking out five.
- SS Javier Baez (.252) extended his hitting streak to 14 games (.310/18-for-58), going 3-for-6.
- DH Chris Valaika (.291) and 1B Lars Anderson (.278) each had two hits.
- RHPs Armando Rivero (1.29) and Arodys Vizcaino (13.50) combined to toss three scoreless innings.
Tennessee Smokies (15-15)
T-2nd Place (-1.0)
Tennessee snapped a two-game skid with a 10-3 win at Huntsville.
- SS Addison Russell (.262) went 2-for-4 with two homers (including a fifth-inning grand slam) and a career-high six RBI (8).
- Rehabbing 2B Emilio Bonifacio (.250) went 4-for-5 with a run scored.
- RHP P.J. Francescon (9-5, 4.15) allowed a run in 2.1 innings of relief to earn the win.
Daytona Cubs (17-11)
1st Place (+0.5)
Daytona recorded 15 hits in a 9-1 victory at Palm Beach.
- RHP Felix Pena picked up the win, going seven strong, giving up one earned run and striking out sevenl.
- CF Albert Almora (.281) went 4-for-5 with two runs scored.
- LF Kyle Schwarber (.350), SS Marco Hernandez (.285) and 1B Rock Shoulders (.215) all had two hits apiece.
- RF Billy McKinney (.275) went 1-for-5 with a double (2) and a game-high three RBI (13).
Kane County Cougars (19-10)
1st Place (+2.0)
Kane County dropped its second-straight contest, falling 9-5 at Great Lakes.
- 1B Jacob Rogers (.269) went 2-for-3 with a first-inning, two-run homer.
- C Cael Brockmeyer (.315) went 2-for-4 with a double (7) and one RBI (29).
- LHP Michael Heesch (2.66) struck out six hitters in 3.1 scoreless innings of relief.
Boise Hawks (21-16)
2nd Place (-1.0)
Boise recorded just three hits in a 6-1 loss against visiting Salem-Keizer.
- RF Jeffrey Baez (.273) and SS Jason Vosler (.340) each had a hit.
- 1B Dan Canela (.303) went 1-for-3 with a walk and one RBI (20).
- RHP Ryan Williams (0.00) struck out three hitters over two scoreless innings of relief.
Mesa Cubs (11-11)
3rd Place (-3.0)
The Mesa Cubs fell by a score of 8-2 at home against the AZL Angels.
- CF Kevonte Mitchell (.263) and SS Bryant Flete (.298) had two hits apiece.
- 2B Andrew Ely (.348) went 0-for-4 but picked up his third RBI of the season.
(Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)
For our annual July All-Star issue, Vine Line set out to find the most valuable player from each 10-year span in Wrigley Field’s history to create a Cubs All-Star team for the ages. There are hundreds of ways to go about this, so we simplified things by using the baseball statistics website Fangraphs to find the player with the highest Wins Above Replacement total for each decade.
Wins Above Replacement, better known as WAR, takes all of a player’s statistics—both offensive and defensive—and outputs them into a single number designed to quantify that player’s total contributions to his team (though for pitchers, we used only their mound efforts and excluded offensive stats). For our purposes, a player received credit only for the numbers he posted in each individual decade and only for the years he was a member of the Cubs.
In the final installment of our 10 Decades, 10 Legends series, we look at the eccentric and exciting Carlos Zambrano. Though it might come as a surprise to some to see Big Z on the list, he had very solid numbers throughout the 2000s.
1910s – Hippo Vaughn
1920s – Grover Cleveland Alexander
1930s – Billy Herman
1940s – Bill Nicholson
1950 – Ernie Banks
1960s – Ron Santo
1970s – Rick Reuschel
1980s – Ryne Sandberg
1990s – Mark Grace
2000s – Carlos Zambrano, 26.5 WAR
Say what you will about Carlos Zambrano’s time on the North Side. Sure, some of his most memorable moments in a Cubs uniform occurred inside the dugout, including a scuffle with teammate Michael Barrett in 2007 and a few notable run-ins with the beleaguered Gatorade dispenser.
But at the beginning of Big Z’s career, he was an animal on the bump as well. The hard-throwing Venezuelan made his debut in August 2001 and became a workhorse soon after, logging five consecutive seasons with 200-plus innings from 2003-07. During that time, he made three All-Star teams, finished in the top five in Cy Young voting three times, led the NL in wins in 2006 and earned MVP votes in 2004.
The right-hander was the only NL pitcher to win 13 or more games each year from 2003-08, and he served as the Cubs’ Opening Day starter from 2005-10.
Zambrano’s finest effort in a Cubs uniform came on Sept. 14, 2008, when he tossed the club’s first no-hitter in 36 years, striking out 10 batters and walking one in 110 pitches against the Astros. By the end of the 2000s, his numbers had slipped dramatically, and he was out of the game at age 31.