For years, Chicago Public League baseball teams haven’t had a true home-field advantage when the high school playoffs come around. Without a serviceable field to play on, city teams have been forced to trek out to the suburbs when the single-elimination tournament starts up each May. But that’s all about to change.
The Chicago Cubs Charities and the Wood Family Foundation broke ground on Kerry Wood Cubs Field Thursday, a high school baseball diamond located at Clark Park near Lane Tech High School about a mile west of Wrigley Field. The $5 million project should be completed in the first half of 2013. The stadium will seat 1,100 people and will have lights for potential night games.
Vine Line was there for the ceremony, where former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood and Cubs co-owners Tom and Laura Ricketts spoke of the excitement surrounding this new venture.
With only three games remaining, Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is poised to put his name in the franchise record books. Castro has appeared in 159 games this season, and has started all but one.
No Cubs shortstop has ever played in all 162 games of the regular season. Ivan DeJesus holds the franchise record at shortstop, playing in 160 games in both 1978 and 1979.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Darwin Barney’s defense has been the talk of the team this season for the Cubs. As his consecutive games without an error streak has continued to grow, defensive records at second base have fallen at an equally quick pace, all the hands—and glove—of the 26-year-old. Franchise records were topped first, followed shortly by National League marks. But on Friday, it will be Placido Polanco’s MLB single-season mark of 141 games without an error for a second baseman with the target on its back. Barney tied the total on Thursday and will likely be in the lineup to set the new milestone.
Vine Line took a look at some of the records at the other positions around the diamond. Below is a chart mapping both consecutive errorless games in a career and in a season, according to Baseball-Almanac.com.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s first non-waiver trade deadline as members of the Cubs passed at 3 p.m. CST Tuesday with a flurry of activity. The front office made three trades in the last 24 hours, and they waited until the last minute to complete a deal sending away the team’s biggest trade chip, Ryan Dempster. Here’s a recap of the Cubs’ moves and a summary of what they received in the deals.
Cubs send left-handed starter Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson to the Braves for right-handed pitchers Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman
What they got:
Arodys Vizcaino: Baseball America rated the right-hander the Braves’ No. 2 preseason prospect and the 40th best prospect in all of baseball. Vizcaino, who has a live arm with a fastball that touches the high 90s, was the centerpiece of the Braves 2009 deal that sent Javier Vazquez to the Yankees. He’ll miss all of 2012 recovering from Tommy John surgery, but should be ready to go by early next season.
2011 stats: 5-5, 3.06 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 97 IP at three minor league levels;
1-1, 4.67 ERA, 17 K, 17.1 IP for Braves
Jaye Chapman: The 25-year-old has climbed his way through the minor league ranks since he was drafted in 2006. In two seasons at Triple-A Gwinnett, the reliever has struck out more than one-fourth of the batters he’s faced, and he’s only allowed three home runs in 2012.
2012 stats: 3-6, 3.52 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 10.1 K/9, 53.2 IP at Triple-A Gwinnett
Cubs send catcher Geovany Soto to the Rangers for right-hander Jake Brigham
What they got:
Jake Brigham: A sixth-round pick in the 2006 draft, Brigham went 5-5 with a 4.28 ERA in 21 starts for Double-A Frisco this season. Baseball America rated him the seventh-best righty reliever in the Texas farm system. Last season, he went 3-1 with a 3.60 ERA in 21 appearances.
2012 stats: 5-5, 4.28 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 8.4 K/9, 124.0 IP at Double-A Frisco
Cubs send right-handed pitcher Ryan Dempster to the Rangers for right-handed pitcher Kyle Hendricks and infielder Christian Villanueva
What they got:
Christian Villanueva: Baseball America rated Villanueva the Rangers’ eighth-best prospect prior to the season. The publication called him “an easy plus defender with soft hands and easy actions.” The 22-year-old stole 32 bases last season in Low-A and finished with a .278 batting average.
2012 stats: .285/.356/.421, 10 home runs, 59 RBI, 9 SB, 425 PA at Single-A Myrtle Beach
Kyle Hendricks: The 2011 eighth-round draft pick had a 5-8 record with 2.82 ERA in 20 starts for Single-A Myrtle Beach this season, earning him a spot on the Carolina League All-Star team. He spent last season at both Low-A Spokane and Double-A Frisco.
2012 stats: 5-8, 2.82 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, 15 BB, 130.2 IP at Single-A Myrtle Beach
Though the Cubs sit in the cellar of the NL Central with a 25-48 record, it would be difficult to find an uninterested person around Wrigley Field Tuesday afternoon. That’s because elite first base prospect Anthony Rizzo will make his Cubs debut tonight as they take on the Mets.
The 22-year-old fielded questions from the media before taking batting practice, where most of the eyes—and cameras—were on him.
“I’m just going to work hard every day, learn, get better, go through the ups and downs of a baseball player,” Rizzo said.
The slugger was hitting .342 with 23 homers and 62 RBI in 70 games for the Triple-A affiliate prior to his promotion.
For just the second time ever during the regular season and first time since 2005, the Red Sox will take to the Wrigley Field grass this weekend. The all-time regular-season series is knotted at 3-all, but the Cubs took two of three at the Friendly Confines back in 2005.
The series marks a reunion of sorts for Cubs baseball president Theo Epstein. Epstein acted as the Red Sox’s general manager from 2002-11 before taking his position with the North Siders and is largely responsible for the current makeup of Boston’s lineup. GM Jed Hoyer and senior vice president Jason McLeod also spent time over the last decade in Sox upper management.
While both squads currently sit at the bottom of their respective divisions, there’s no shortage of excitement when these historic teams get together.
Starlin Castro had a pair of singles Monday, giving the shortstop 400 career hits in just 325 games. Among major leaguers who debuted after 1980, Castro tied Alex Rodriguez as the sixth-fastest player to reach the 400 hit plateau, behind only Ichiro Suzuki (268 games), Nomar Garciaparra (302), Kirby Puckett (310), Hanley Ramirez (317) and Wade Boggs (324). He leads all NL players with 74 multi-hit games since 2011.
Despite having just a .326 on-base percentage this season, the 22-year-old shortstop leads the Cubs in hitting (.316), RBI (25) and is tied for the lead in stolen bases (12). He also has a .333 average with runners in scoring position.
Dawson or Sosa? Sutter or Smith? Grace or Lee? Friends have waged verbal wars over questions like this for years. But now the debates can be put to rest. For the July All-Star issue, Vine Line is letting you determine the All-Time best Cubs roster. Vote for who you think the best Cubs players were, position by position, and the results will be featured in July’s issue of Vine Line.
We’re only a week into the minor league season, but some young stars already are starting to blossom. A few of the Cubs affiliates are playing better than others, but there’s no denying some individuals left Spring Training ready to go.
High-profile corner infielders Josh Vitters and Anthony Rizzo have powered Triple-A Iowa to a 5-3 start. Vitters (.458/.500/.500) has racked up 11 hits in 24 at-bats, driving in six runs. Rizzo, who the Cubs acquired from the Padres for Andrew Cashner, has been just as impressive (.387/.424/.677), smacking three home runs and driving in 10.
Welington Castillo, a backstop who narrowly missed a spot on the Cubs Opening Day roster, is hitting .357 with a 1.214 OPS in 14 at-bats.
Top prospect Brett Jackson has recorded a .276 average with four RBI.
Ace Randy Wells is 1-0 in two starts, posting a 5.25 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP and seven strikeouts.
Double-A Tennessee, resting at .500 with a 4-4 record, has plenty of bright spots in both the lineup and on the bump. Shortstop Elliot Soto has a .476 OBP and is slugging .500. Michael Burgess (.333/.417/.524) has a home run and 11 total bases.
Nicholas Struck (1-1, 2.25 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 15 K, 12 IP), Dallas Beeler (1.64 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 11 IP) and Trey McNutt (0.00 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 8 K, 7.2 IP) have all been consistent members of the rotation early on.
Despite Daytona’s 1-6 record, a few individuals still have something to smile about. First-round pick Hayden Simpson has a 3.60 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP in two starts, and outfielder John Andreoli has a .429 average with a .600 OBP, drawing six walks in 20 total at-bats.
Pitching has been the key for Class-A affiliate Peoria. The Chiefs, who sit at 3-4, have gotten two solid outings each from Michael Jensen (2-0, 2.45 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 11 IP) and Patrick Francescon (0-1, 3.48 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 12 K, 10.1 IP).