Results tagged ‘ Chicago Cubs ’

Hot off the Presses: December issue recapping the 2015 season


Even though I’m certain the best is yet to come for this young, talented Cubs squad, in some respects, I still hate to see the 2015 season come to an end. It was just such a fun ride.

In recent days, I’ve been asked the same question over and over: How do I feel about the way the campaign ended? Even though the Cubs fell to the Mets in four uncharacteristic games in the NLCS, it was hard for me to really be upset or frustrated with the result. Sure, I would have loved to see the boys in blue win it all. But a club most figured to be at least one year away from true contention finished the season in the NLCS. They were one of the last four teams standing. And this was after winning 97 regular-season games and two postseason series. Anyone who saw that coming in 2015, please raise your hand.

Every year, before the first pitch of the regular season, we at Vine Line place a little wager on what we think the club’s final record will be. I predicted 85 wins—and I still contend that would have been a solid season. Anything above .500 typically keeps a team in the Wild Card hunt until the final weeks.

But the Cubs exceeded expectations on almost every front this year. When different members of the same team factor significantly in voting for the MVP, Cy Young, Manager of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards, something has definitely gone right.

After the final out of the season, Cubs baseball president Theo Epstein talked to the media, and he said something during his press conference that stuck with me.

“If you think back to where we were on Opening Day, many members of this team were in the minor leagues in Double-A and Triple-A,” Epstein said. “If you looked out in the bleachers, we had plywood covering all the stands out there. We lost to the Cardinals on a cold and dreary night. Then you fast forward seven months later and look where we were with a young, dynamic, magical team at the big league level. The bleachers were filled with fans going crazy and supporting the team, and [then] beating the Cardinals in a playoff series. It’s just amazing how far the organization came this year.”

The team’s progress between November 2014, when manager Joe Maddon was hired, and the end of the 2015 season was truly remarkable. For this month’s issue, we relive the year’s best moments, and there were plenty to choose from. The team played so well—especially from July on—it’s easy to lose sight of where it all began.

It’s easy to forget that the main topic of conversation when the season kicked off was not the team’s playoff chances but the Wrigley Field bleachers—or lack thereof. It’s easy to forget that the Opening Day roster did not include Kris Bryant, Addison Russell or Kyle Schwarber. It’s easy to forget that coming into the season, people still saw right-hander Jake Arrieta as something resembling a fallible, flesh-and-blood human being.

We dedicated this month’s issue to celebrating everything that went right in 2015. In our pages, you’ll find the best images of the year, a month-by-month season recap and highlights from Epstein’s post-NLCS presser. We’ll also give you a head start on your holiday shopping with our annual gift guide.

Honestly, the best part of this past year is knowing that it was only the beginning. The Cubs went into the 2014 offseason as a team on the rise, but one with serious question marks. They enter this offseason as an experienced, playoff-tested group with few holes and plenty of resources—in both talent and money—to fill those holes.

Another thing Epstein said that resonated with me was that the whole team was loath to see this season end, and that they all wished Opening Day was already here. I think most fans feel the same way.

While you can’t wish away the winter, you can keep track of all the offseason action, from the hot stove to the winter leagues, in the magazine and on Twitter at @cubsvineline. And keep an eye on Twitter for a special holiday offer on the magazine in the coming days.

—Gary Cohen

Cubs acquire LHP Brothers from Rockies

RexBrothers(Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

The Cubs acquired left-handed pitcher Rex Brothers from the Rockies for minor league left-hander Wander Cabrera. The club’s 40-man roster now stands at 38 players.

Brothers, who turns 28 next month, is 16-11 with 61 holds, 20 saves and a 3.42 ERA (92 ER/242.1 IP) in 286 major league relief appearances with Colorado covering the last five seasons. He has struck out 278 hitters in 242.1 innings, an average of 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings, while limiting opposing batters to a .243 average, including a .224 average to left-handed hitters. He has allowed only 21 home runs in his 242.1 innings. Brothers has finished three of his five seasons with a sub-3.00 ERA, while two of his campaigns have featured a sub-2.00 ERA.

The 6-foot, 210-pound Brothers broke into the big leagues with the Rockies in 2011 and posted 16 holds with a 2.88 ERA in 48 appearances during his rookie campaign before going 8-2 with a career-high 18 holds and a 3.86 ERA in a career-high 75 outings in 2012. Brothers spent time as Colorado’s closer in 2013 when he earned 19 saves with a 1.74 ERA in 72 appearances.

Brothers split the 2015 season between Colorado and Triple-A Albuquerque, going 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his 17 big league relief appearances. He limited major league left-handed hitters to a .227 batting average.

The southpaw was originally selected by Colorado in the supplemental first round (34th overall pick) of the 2009 draft out of Lipscomb University. He is a native of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Cabrera, 18, went 4-3 with a 2.34 ERA (11 ER/42.1 IP) in 14 appearances (seven starts) in his first professional season with the Cubs Dominican Summer League team.


Two Cubs farmhands on AFL’s top 20 prospects list

Contreras,-Willson-5.11(Photo by Roger C. Hoover)

The crop of Cubs prospects representing the organization at the 2015 Arizona Fall League might have lacked the hype that accompanied Kris Bryant, Javier Baez or Addison Russell in recent years. However, a few prospects did raise their profile in the showcase league and could be part of the next wave of budding stars.

On Tuesday,’s Jim Callis unveiled his top 20 prospects from the AFL, and a pair of Cubs made the list.

5. Willson Contreras, C, Mesa (Cubs No. 10 prospect): After leading the Double-A Southern League in batting (.333) and extra-base hits (46), he continued his breakout 2015 by hitting .283/.361/.547 before straining a hamstring. Like [Gary] Sanchez, Contreras is an offensive-minded catcher with enough defensive skills to be a big league regular.
MLB ETA: 2017

11. Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Mesa (Cubs No. 20 prospect): The Cubs keep churning out impressive offensive prospects, and here’s yet another. Candelario is a switch-hitter with legitimate power (he ranked second behind Sanchez with five homers, 13 extra-base hits and 50 total bases) and arm strength, though he may not have the agility for third base.
MLB ETA: 2017

The 23-year-old Contreras, a converted third baseman, slugged .891 during the Double-A season and was named the Cubs Minor League Player of the Year. He debuted in the Cubs system in 2009 as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League and could be knocking on the major league door sooner than later.

Candelario, who turned 22 on Tuesday, hit .291/.379/.462 between High-A and Double-A in 2015. It was a nice jump from a subpar 2014, though he’s always been one of the younger players at each of his respective stops. He signed with the Cubs in September 2010.


Cubs Arizona Fall League Stats Recap

PierceJohnson(Miranda Perez/MLB)

Mesa struggled as a team during the 2015 Arizona Fall League season, limping to a 9-21 record and a last place finish in the East division. Despite a poor showing in the standings, there were some promising players who raised their stock heading into the 2016 season. Here are the final stats from the Cubs prospects in the AFL:


The headliner in this group is certainly Jeimer Candelario, who made the midseason Fall Stars team. He finished second in the league in total bases and tied for second in home runs. The infielder was also top three in doubles and hits and top 10 in batting average and runs batted in. Willson Contreras had a solid season before a hamstring issue shortened his fall. One of the more interesting stats was Mark Zagunis’ 19 bases on balls, which was tops in the league and gave the catcher-turned-outfielder an on-base percentage more than 200 points higher than his average—and second best OBP in the AFL. Cael Brockmeyer, who got into games only twice a week as a taxi squad player, didn’t have a great line, but he also demonstrated his on-base abilities.


Though the offensive numbers have dropped in recent years, the AFL is still seen as a hitters league, and the Cubs’ pitching prospects might have fallen victim to their power-hitting opponents. Rob Zastryzny flexed his strikeout muscles, finishing third in the league in punchouts. He put up a solid WHIP as well, taking fourth among pitchers with five starts or more. Pierce Johnson, one of the organization’s top pitching prospects, didn’t have the greatest fall season, but his last few starts better represented the player many believe he can be. Overall, his strikeouts were sixth in the league. David Garner surprised some with a steady effort out of the bullpen. Though his walk total was a tad high, his 9.0 K/9 rate was good.

Cubs acquire RHP Spencer Patton from Texas

The Cubs today acquired right-handed pitcher Spencer Patton from the Texas Rangers for minor league infielder Frandy Delarosa. The club’s 40-man roster now stands at 33 players.

Patton, 27, broke into the big leagues with Texas in 2014 and went 1-0 with a 0.96 ERA (1 ER/9.1 IP) in nine big league relief appearances before splitting the 2015 campaign between the Rangers and Triple-A Round Rock. Patton went 2-0 with 11 saves and a 1.67 ERA in 26 Triple-A relief outings and went 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA in 27 big league relief outings. Overall, Patton is 2-1 with a 6.75 ERA in 36 major league relief outings over the last two years, averaging more than one strikeout per inning with 36 strikeouts in 33.1 frames.

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Patton has gone 15-14 with 33 saves and a 3.49 ERA in 147 career minor league appearances, all but 12 in relief, covering five minor league campaigns. He has struck out 364 batters in 268.1 innings pitched, an average of 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings. Patton was named to the 2014 Pacific Coast League All-Star team.

Patton is a native of Urbana, Illinois, and was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 24th round of the 2011 draft out of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He was acquired by Texas for right-hander Jason Frasor on July 16, 2014.

Delarosa, 19, batted .273 (70-for-256) with 20 doubles, two triples, no home runs and 30 RBI in 62 games for Short-Season A Eugene last season. He originally signed with the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in 2012.

Cubs Arizona Fall League: 11/19/15

Mesa concluded its AFL slate with a 5-1 loss to Glendale. A few Cubs got into the season finale. Here’s how they fared:

  • 1B Cael Brockmeyer (.194) walked to lead off the second inning. He scored the Solar Sox’s only run three batters later and finish 0-for-3.
  • DH Jeimer Candelario was 0-for-4 on the day, but hit .329 on the season.

The team finished with a 9-21 record. Scottsdale will take on Surprise for the AFL title game Saturday.

Cubs claim LHP Jack Leathersich from Mets

Leathersich(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Cubs claimed left-handed pitcher Jack Leathersich off waivers from the Mets. The club’s 40-man roster now stands at 32 players.

Leathersich, 25, went 0-1 with a 2.31 ERA (3 ER/11.2 IP) in 17 relief appearances for the Mets last season, his first appearance at the major league level. He struck out 14 in 11.2 innings with 14 of his 17 appearances resulting in scoreless outings before requiring Tommy John ligament replacement surgery at the end of July.

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound southpaw was originally selected by the Mets in the fifth round of the 2011 draft out of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. He is 9-9 with seven saves and a 3.55 ERA (83 ER/210.2 IP) in 160 relief appearances covering five seasons in the Mets minor league system.

Cubs Arizona Fall League Recap: 11/18/15

Pierce Johnson provided another strong effort in his final AFL start of the season as Mesa toppled Salt River 5-1 on Wednesday. A few Cubs players got into the act offensively as well. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action:

  • RHP Pierce Johnson (5.47) pitched four strong innings, giving up one earned run and striking out six to pick up the win. He surrendered four hits and a walk in the outing.
  • 3B Jeimer Candelario (.346) went 1-for-3, recording an RBI single in the sixth. He added a pair of walks and a run scored.
  • C Cael Brockmeyer (.214) singled to lead off the third. He also walked and recorded a run scored in the win.

Mesa wraps up its season Thursday with a home matchup against Glendale. First pitch is scheduled for 12:35 local time.

Cubs agree to terms with RHP Andury Acevedo

The Cubs and right-handed pitcher Andury Acevedo have agreed to terms on a 2016 contract. The club’s 40-man roster now stands at 31 players.

Acevedo, 25, spent the last four seasons pitching in the Yankees organization, reaching the Triple-A level for the first time last year, going 1-2 with one save and a 2.31 ERA (3 ER/11.2 IP) in 10 relief outings with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. After starting 2015 with Single-A Tampa, Acevedo pitched at three levels in the Yankees, combining to go 3-4 with three saves and a 2.59 ERA (17 ER/59.0 IP) in 41 relief appearances. Acevedo earned Florida State League mid-season All-Star honors, posting a 1.40 ERA (3 ER/19.1 IP) in 13 relief appearances with Tampa.

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Acevedo was originally signed by Pittsburgh as an infielder in 2007 before he converted to a relief pitcher upon signing with the Yankees in 2012. Overall, Acevedo is 8-8 with four saves and a 4.00 ERA (55 ER/123.2 IP) in 95 professional relief outings.

Acevedo is a native of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Cubs Arrieta claims NL Cy Young award

ArrietaCy(Photo by Stephen Green)

Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta was named the National League Cy Young Award winner by the Baseball Writers Association of America on Wednesday. Arrieta received 17 of the possible 30 first-place votes, 11 second place votes and two third place votes for a total of 169 points. Los Angeles’ Zack Greinke placed second with 147 points.

Arrieta is only the fifth pitcher in Cubs history to win the Cy Young Award, the first in 23 years since Greg Maddux took home the honor in 1992. Fergie Jenkins (1971), Bruce Sutter (1979) and Rick Sutcliffe (1984) join Arrieta and Maddux as Cy Young winners in franchise history.

In 2015, Arrieta went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA (45 ER/229.0 IP) in 33 starts, leading the majors in wins and posting the lowest ERA by a Cubs pitcher in 96 years (Pete Alexander, 1.72 ERA, 1919).  Arrieta went 12-1 with a 0.75 ERA (9 ER/107.1 IP) in 15 starts after the All-Star Break, the lowest ERA in the second half of a season since the All-Star Game was instituted in 1933. He went 11-0 with a 0.41 ERA (4 ER/88.1 IP) in his final 12 starts beginning Aug. 4 to win NL Pitcher of the Month honors in August and September. The 0.41 ERA is the lowest post-Aug. 1 mark since ERA became an official statistic.

Arrieta became only the fifth pitcher to have at least 22 wins with no more than six losses and an ERA under 2.00 since the ERA became an official statistic, joining Sandy Koufax (1963), Denny McLain (1968), Ron Guidry (1978) and Dwight Gooden (1985). Arrieta also became the first pitcher in major league history to close a campaign with 20-consecutive quality starts. He also set a Wrigley Field record by finishing the year with a 40.2 scoreless innings streak.

On Aug. 30 at Dodger Stadium, Arrieta tossed his first career no-hitter with a 2-0 victory against Los Angeles. Arrieta struck out 12 and walked only one batter.


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