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Len and JD’s Cubs Baseball Blog

Cub announcers Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies bring you behind-the-scenes insight and commentary on WGN’s Len and JD’s blog. Also check out video of player interviews, photo galleries, and unique Cubs statistics from STATS, Inc

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Service With A Smile


I had the honor of speaking to the Wrigley Field Guest Services group before today’s game. What a great group of energetic and friendly people who work their tail off each day to make sure your game experience is as positive as it can be.

Congratulations to this year’s award winners:

Guest Services Ambassador of the Year – Ray McDow

Parking and Transportation Ambassador of the Year – Kelli Raybon

Security Services Ambassador of the Year – Corey Robinson

Rookie of the Year – Lindsey Wuenker

Supervisor of the Year – Deb Buchweitz


Thanks again to that group for all they do.




Friday: Dennis Miller

Saturday: TBD

Sunday: Wayne Messmer

Monday: Tom Dreesen

Tuesday: Fergie Jenkins

Wednesday: Grounds Crew

stats_logo_400x225* The Braves, who have won four straight against the Cubs, have not won five straight games against them since a seven-game win streak spanning 2005 and 2006.

* The Braves picked up their 90th victory of the season against the Nationals on Wednesday, giving them an MLB-high 16 90-win seasons since 1991. At the same time, with a loss today, the Cubs will have their 90th loss of the season for an NL-high 23rd time since 1948.

* The Braves have now played 15 consecutive games without punching out more than 10 hits – the longest active streak in the majors.

* Travis Wood has allowed multiple home runs in back-to-back home starts, after allowing fewer than two home runs in each of his previous 22 home starts.

* Since he made his MLB debut on July 19, Junior Lake has picked up more hits (66) than any other rookie in the majors.

* Justin Upton, who hit his 26th home run of the season Wednesday, has hit five home runs with nine RBI over his last six games against the Cubs.


Bumpy Road

Rizzo bad

Wrapping up the Cubs’ longest road trip since 2004 today.  It’s been a grind.  The Cubs limp into today’s series finale having lost 5 in a row and 7 of 10 on the journey.

This is the last game against a non-contender.  The final 3 sets are against the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves, whose magic number is 2 in that division, Pittsburgh and then St. Louis.  The Pirates and Cardinals will both be in the post-season.  It’s just a matter of whether the Bucs can catch the Cardinals in the division race.

At 5.5 games behind the Brewers, the Cubs are virtually assured of finishing in last place and grabbing a top 5 pick.  The draft slot aside, it’s hard to look at the record and be in any way excited about it.  The Cubs will improve on last year’s 101-loss record, but unless they turn it around in a hurry, their 2013 record will only be a handful of games better.

Yes, there has been tangible progress.  More organization-wide than on the big league roster of course.  But there is definitely more talent in the chain than there was a year ago (a lot in fact).  And that’s what you have to hang your hat on going into the off-season if you’re a Cubs fan — the big picture.



Balancing Act

rizzoThe Cubs’ long trip continues in Milwaukee tonight. They had a 3-4 week against two playoff contenders last week and after this 4-game series they play Atlanta, Pittsburgh and St. Louis to finish the season.

As I think about this season, it clearly has represented a step forward. The record has improved, the Cubs have been in most of their games and the emergence of Travis Wood and Welington Castillo in particular have been encouraging to see.

Of course, finishing way under .500 and watching Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo struggle hasn’t been easy, but it’s all part of this arduous process.

I was chatting with someone about how this season has felt compared to last year and while it was agreed that this team is clearly better, there have times of maybe more frustration than last year.

The reasons? I think two-fold. 1) Last season I think everybody knew going in it was going to be a year of major transition.  2) Because this season is the Cubs’ 4th consecutive losing season, it feels worse in that we haven’t seen a winning season in so long.

That’s the balance. Understanding a process that doesn’t happen quickly while dealing with the anxiety that comes with not having been a winning club in so long.

Nobody said this is easy and what will make the ultimate success even more fulfilling is remembering all the tough losing seasons that have preceded it.


stats_logo_400x225* The Brewers trailed, 5-1, in the seventh inning Sunday before coming back to beat the Reds, 6-5. It was Milwaukee’s first win when trailing by four or more runs in the seventh inning or later since July 2, 2011 at Minnesota.

* The Cubs have 26 saves on the road this season, their most since 2005 (28), and tied for the most in the majors this year (Braves, Pirates, Rangers).

* Sean Halton became the second Brewers rookie to hit a walkoff home run this season (Caleb Gindl, July 21). It is the first time in franchise history two different rookies hit walkoff homers in the same season.

* Since August 20, Brian Bogusevic is sixth in the NL with a .591 slugging percentage (minimum 75 PA).

* Wily Peralta is the first player to have 12+ starts with no run support since the Pirates’ Kip Wells in 2005 (13).

* Edwin Jackson is 4-1 with a 1.86 ERA (8/38.2) in his last six starts against the NL Central.

By Bob Vorwald – @bobvorwald

This week on Stats Sunday, we turn our attention to the National League MVP and Cy Young Awards as the topic of our open-book final exam on our year-long stats discussion (and the kind of thing you do in September when the Cubs are 20+ games below .500).

imagesHere are the leading candidates and some key numbers  from (To get a little defense, Rtot is the number of runs above or below average the player was worth based on the number of plays made.
This number combines the Rtz, Rdp, Rof, Rcatch numbers into a total defensive contribution. Also, these numbers are as of Friday afternoon. It takes at least 36 hours for Len and JD to process and approve each submission.)

Among the candidates, Andrew McCutchen is listed first for a reason if you want to guess where I’m going with this.

Player                             BA/On-Base/SLG   OPS+  WAR  HR/RBI  Walks Runs SB   Rtot

Andrew McCutchen    .326./.406/.520       162        7.0    19/70       68      89      27    13

Paul Goldschmidt        .296/.398/.533        154        5.8    31/109     92      91      13     8

Jayson Werth                 .324/.398/.542        157        4.5    23/71       74      48       8      -1

Joey Votto                       .306/.436/.496        153        6.0    22/66      117    92       6       0

(Shhhh! Don’t tell Dusty Baker I put Joey on the list. He walks too much and doesn’t drive in enough runs. The fact that he scores a zillion runs, is in the lineup every day -leading the league with 147 games played – and is always on base shouldn’t be considered.)

What? No Yadier Molina? Cardinal-hater! Maybe, but I admire Yadi to the max. He just hasn’t played enough games to get there this year. He’s appeared in 120, hitting .318/.358/.479 with a 4.8 WAR and usual great defense. It’s hard to pile up on stats like caught stealing when no one runs on you.

While it’s great all these guys are at least nominally in the post-season hunt, I don’t care if the MVP candidate is on a winning team or not. To quote Len, if Miguel Cabera and Mike Trout switched uniforms, is Miggy still the MVP? In case you haven’t noticed, Trout’s WAR is now 8.4 to Cabrera’s 6.7 but that was last week’s rant…

McCutchen should be the first Pirate MVP since Barry Bonds in 1990 and the most popular since Willie Stargell’s what-the-hell-were-they-thinking 1979 MVP where his 126 game 2.5 WAR got him a tie for the award with Keith Hernandez.  (Lots of bad ties back in those days. That one ranks right up there with the POW Allies 4-4 deadlock with the Germans in Paris from “Victory”, where after a clear goal was disallowed, the ever-believable as a POW Pele knotted things with a bicycle kick and Stallone/Hatch preserved the tie by stopping a penalty kick at game end.)


The only drama is the National League Cy Young race is whether some moron will make Clayton Kershaw a unanimous winner.  Kershaw leads all baseball in ERA (1.92 – that’s 1 point freaking 92 for a 185 ERA+!), WHIP (0.92), innings pitched (216), WAR (7.2), and left-handed hitters bitching that they are in the line-up that day against him (hundreds). Yes, he’s only 10th in wins, but let’s not rile Brian Kenny any more than necessary this week. Kershaw leads the NL in strikeouts (208), starts (tied for 1st at 30), and may soon say to Magic Johnson “howdy partner” and mean it.


A special tip of the cap to 21-tear-old Jose Fernandez  who just finished his rookie with a 2.19 ERA over 172⅔ innings pitched with a 6.7 WAR, 0.98 WHIP, and generally ungodly stuff. Throw in a season-ending screaming match with the Braves and a strutting home run to follow and you’ve got the making of some serious Kershaw competition for years. to come. But in the meantime. Clayton, he of the curveball that Vin Scully anointed Lord Charles several years ago because Uncle Charlie wasn’t nearly enough to describe it. wins the Cy.

The question is should he win the MVP? But that’s an argument for another Sunday….