The First Interesting September in Years
– Podcast Episode 6.33

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IyvEnvy_Color_blogpodcastAndy joins Corey in the studio for this, our 270th episode as Kurt is not on this episode as he is on his way to Chicago to take his son to his first Cubs game.

Jorge Soler has made quite an impact in the first week of his MLB career. We talk about the week, looking at Soler’s performance, but also discuss how much more interested we are in Cubs baseball this September than we have been for a very long time, even though the team is in last place in the division.

Starlin Castro made a mental mistake in the Reds series that brought out a variety of emotions from pundits and fans. We explain our immediate and then more measured reactions.

Corey talks about the Cubs hiring of Jason Parks and Andy looks at the rotation for the rest of the 2014 season. We answer listener questions and read some internet muscle flexes.

Jorge Soler! – Podcast Episode 6.32

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Jorge SolerAfter news broke Monday night that the Cubs were promoting Jorge Soler to the big league team, we knew we couldn’t wait until Sunday night to talk about it, so here’s a bonus episode of the podcast.

We talk about what Soler has done in the minors, why his call-up is different and what our expectations are, this year and beyond for Soler.

The list of Cubs prospects that will be participating in the Arizona Fall League has been released and we briefly talk about these players.

We answer a slew of listener questions, most of the Soler in nature. We wrap the show up with a few Internet Muscle Flexes.

If you’d like to help support this podcast, check out our Patreon campaign.

Bryant-Baez Flavored Joy – Podcast Episode 6.31

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WINNER (12)Welcome to the 268th of The Ivy Envy Podcast.

Who would have known that the biggest story of the week in Cubs-land would involve the grounds crew? We talk about this situation and use it as an opportunity to talk about the (negative) attention that the Cubs, ownership and the front office receive.

Corey went up to Wrigley for Social Media Night and talks about this event and tells you why you should attend next year.

Edwin Jackson continues his poor performances and has ended up on the disabled list. We talk about how wrong we were in predicting he would play well this year and look at his future…both with the organization and the type of pitcher he could become.

There is about a week of the minor league baseball season left. We use this opportunity to go through the system and look at the playoff chances for Boise, Kane County, Daytona, Tennessee and Iowa.

We answer listener questions, Kurt gives us a scary stat of the week, we pick a winner for this week’s photo caption contest and we read a few internet muscle flexes.

“Welcome to the Dardanelle Club”
– Podcast Episode 6.30

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There were lots of Chicago Cubs roster changes to talk about on this week’s episode of The Ivy Envy Podcast. Dan Straily gets called up for a Cubs spot start. Matt Szczur comes up and brings some speed to the team. We’ll talk about what the future may hold for Szczur as a member of the Chicago Cubs. If you’d like to hear an interview that I did with Matt Szczur in the spring of 2012, you can listen to it here.

Junior Lake was demoted and we talk about the struggles he experienced and discuss where he may start in 2015. The Brett Jackson era has ended for the Cubs. We talk about his career with the Cubs and use it as an opportunity to compare the top prospects of a few years ago and the top prospects of today.

Kris Bryant is day-to-day with an injury and we talk about the grind of a full season of professional baseball and later in the show, muscle flexes call Bryant out for being “injury prone.”

We answer several listener questions that involve pitching, offense, radio broadcasts and beer. Kurt’s Scary Stat of the Week involves strikeouts.

During the episode, someone in the chat asked for our personal Twitter handles. If you’d like to connect with us on Twitter and other social networks, check out our Bio page.

“Javier Baez is OK” – Podcast Episode 6.29

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IyvEnvy_Color_blogpodcastOn the 266th episode of The Ivy Envy Podcast, we talk about Javier Baez’s first two series in Major League Baseball.

We comment on what we’ve seen in the first six games of his career. What is he doing well? What does he need to improve on? Are the Cubs letting him be who he is? When will adjustments and the tinkering with his approach begin?

We also look at the final two months of the 2014 season for the Cubs. We talk about our expectations, what we’d like to see and how the Cubs can build on these few months for 2015 and beyond.

The Cubs added a new pitcher to the staff by acquiring Jacob Turner from the Marlins. Kurt tells us how this deal happened and that Chris Bosio looks to get another reclamation project.

There were rumors flying after the Cubs claimed Cole Hammels off revocable waivers, but Andy tells us why the deal didn’t happen and we speculate as to what it would have taken for that deal to go through.

Nate Schierholtz was DFA’d and we look at his horrific 2014 campaign and find comfort in that these place-holders like Schierholtz and Barney are being moved away for the more talented players coming up through the system.

One player that will not be moving anyone aside in 2014 is Kris Bryant. Theo Epstein says that Bryant will not be promoted to the Cubs this season. We talk about this issue, look at the timing of the inevitable call-up and look at a few scenarios that the Cubs could face.

We have a slew of listener questions to answer, Kurt gives us his Scary Stat of the Week and we read a few Internet Muscle Flexes.

The Excitement Inside Wrigley Field for Javier Baez’s Debut

I was lucky enough to get tickets to Friday’s game. As soon as they announced Javier Baez was getting called up, I immediately looked for tickets. I ended up settling for 500 level tickets. When I got to Wrigleyville, there was just a different vibe around the park, one I had not felt in sometime. I cashed in my 500 level tickets for some bleacher seats and got in as soon as batting practice started.

With my First Night Game Rick Sutcliffe bobble-head in hand, my buddy and I found our way out to the left field seats. As perfect as the timing was, Baez was taking batting practice. He, in a group with Arismendy Alcantara, Starlin Castro, and Luis Valbuena, was peppering the bleacher seats. One of his moon shots actually hit a light post that is over the bleachers, probably 10 feet over the top row. Everyone filed in to see the 21 year old hit balls on to Waveland.

Before the game started, the loudest ovation during the lineups was, you guessed it, Javier Baez, playing second and batting second. He got more applause than All Stars Anthony Rizzo and Castro behind him. As he stepped up to the plate in his first at bat, the crowd was electric. Here is a vine I took when he stepped up to the plate for his first Wrigley at bat.  


Pretty crazy huh? The place went nuts. When Baez broke hit bat and deposited the ball into left field for a single, the crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Every time the second baseman came to the plate, he got a standing ovation. With every violent swing, the crowd gasps while waiting for him to make contact so they can see how far he can hit it. Unfortunately, after his first at bat, he went 0-4 with 4 strikeouts. Obviously, we all know strikeouts are part of Javy’s game.

The thing I took away from this game was the excitement for the future. Scattered across Wrigley were Baez #9 shirt jersey and actual jerseys. I couldn’t go into a store in or around the park without seeing a Baez jersey, front and center, ready to be sold.

Being active on Twitter, I knew the excitement around Javier Baez, but it was awesome to feel the vibe around the park yesterday. Everyone knows what is coming in the next few years, and this is just the start of something great.

Cubs get a deal done for Jacob Turner

Jacob Turner

The newest Chicago Cub is 23 year old RHP Jacob Turner, acquired in a trade from the Miami Marlins for two pitchers, Tyler Bremer (Kane County) and Jose Arias (Kane County). Turner was claimed by the Cubs off revocable waivers on Wednesday.

It’s common for teams to place players (sometimes the entire team) on revocable waivers even when they have no intention of trading them because they are, as the name suggests, revocable. If the player is claimed and you don’t like the deal the claiming team is offering there is essentially no consequence in pulling him back. If a player clears waivers you are free to trade him to any team.

This deal had one more layer of complexity. The Marlins had DFA’d Turner before putting him on waivers to clear a roster spot. Had they pulled him back they would have to place him on outright waivers and a team could claim him without needing to work out a trade.

I’m still scratching my head as to why, A) the Marlins didn’t have more patience to see if he could turn it around and B) the Rockies (worst record/first dibs) did not claim Turner. They could have claimed him and offered nothing in return. The Marlins would have no leverage. They could pull him back and then have to place him on outright waivers where the Rockies could just claim him again. Perhaps that breaks some rules but it looks as if they could have landed him for almost nothing.

With the Rockies passing, the Cubs saw an opportunity to land a young, high upside pitcher with some risk at a low cost. Turner will make $1 million on a club option in 2015 and is under team control through 2018. The Marlins were in a position to have to accept almost any offer by the Cubs. They could really only pull him back and let the Rockies or Diamondbacks (now ahead of the Cubs on the waiver list) have him for nothing.

Here’s the catch. The Cubs must place and keep Turner on the 25 man roster since he has no minor league options remaining. His performance has been off this year. He’s 4-7 with a near 6 ERA. The Cubs are hoping his recent performance can be corrected and he can return to something closer to his original projection as the no. 9 overall pick in the 2009 draft. It looks like this will bump Wada back to Iowa after today’s start. He’s pitched well, but doesn’t offer the same potential as Turner.

Given Chris Bosio’s track record with reclamation projects this looks like a great move by the Cubs. They don’t lose much and gain another potential piece of their future rotation.

What the Cubs Mean to Me

Luke and GrandmaEveryone who reads this site or listens to the Ivy Envy podcast can relate to the fact that they would consider themselves die hard Cubs fans. The obvious, and somewhat over used, phrase, “The Cubs are in my DNA,” can get misunderstood. For me, this phrase is perfect. This past week, my Grandmother passed away, taking her love for the Cubs with her.

She meant the world to me, in every sense. Aside from spoiling her grand-kids, myself and my sister, my Grandma taught me there are only a few important things in this world: family, love, and the Cubs. She did love the Bulls, but the Cubs were tops. I have gained many great personality qualities from my Grandma and being a Cubs fan is my favorite.

I would go over to my grandparents house almost every night. Naturally, the Cubs played every night so I began a routine that I continued for years after. Dinner would be served around 5:00 where our family would gather together and talk about our days. These talks usually included Cubs rumors, game recap from the day before, or just Cubs talk in general.

After dinner, I would watch the pregame show with my Grandpa in his room. As the game started, my Grandma would come in and watch the game. We would always turn off the TV Broadcasters and have Pat Hughes and Ron Santo describe the game to us in a way only they could.

My Grandma and I adored Ron and always laughed at all of the fun comments he would say. After I got cleaned up, it was time for bed, but the game wasn’t over yet. So my Grandma thought of a solution; she bought me a small radio that I would put under my pillow so I could listen to the game and fall asleep.

Up until my Grandma’s cancer took the worst toll on her, she would always send me texts during the games we couldn’t watch together. They would usually say, “Awesome play Starlin,” or, “Jake is doing great,” and they meant the world to me.

I can remember one time the Cubs played the Astros in 2007 during the playoff push. I listened to the exciting end to the game, Dempster getting a 3-6-1 double play with the bases loaded to preserve the one run victory. I ran out to tell my Grandma and she was already up, watching the game and waiting for me to come out and celebrate with her. That is just who she was and how she taught me to be.

Last Saturday, she passed away after an 18 month battle with lung cancer. My heart was broken and all I could think about was the last words that I told her. Hours before she entered into rest, I said my final goodbye. I told her, “I love you. And tell Ronnie I said hi.”

Every time I watch the Cubs now, I know she is sitting with me watching. All the good times, and certainly the bad times, she will be there. As I go to Wrigley for the first time today since her passing, I can’t wait to see the crowd and know she is looking down on me. I’ll always miss my Grandma, the reason the Cubs are one of the biggest parts of my life.

 

Interview with Randy Wehofer of Iowa Cubs
– Podcast Episode 6.28

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Iowa Cubs LogoWe have another bonus episode for you this week. I think you’ll enjoy this interview with Randy Wehofer, the play-by-play voice of the Iowa Cubs.

Because of his role as a broadcaster, he has had the opportunity on a daily basis to see what is widely considered the best team in the best minor league system in all of baseball.

This conversation was recorded before Javier Baez was promoted to the Cubs, so we spend quite a bit of time talking about him, as well as Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler. Randy also talks about Manny Ramirez, his role with the team and his influence on younger players.

The Morning After: Baez’ Debut

He is who we thought he was. Or rather, in just one game, Javier Baez displayed a lot of what Cubs fans and prospect buffs everywhere expected to see in the early stages of his Big League career- though maybe not all in his first game.

Javy swung out of his shoes, early and often. He struck out, early and often – thrice, to be specific. He made hard contact to all fields. He played suitable middle infield defense. And, most importantly, he delivered with the bat late.

The precocious 21 year-old smacked the eventual game-winning homer in his sixth at-bat of the night, belabored not by the fact that he was 0-5 as he stepped into the box, an impressive feat for any player, let alone a rookie with the (admittedly unfair) weight of an organization’s future on his shoulders.

The OppoTaco came in the 12th inning of a tied game, the first go-ahead, extra-innings homer by a player making his MLB debut since some dude named Miguel Cabrera did it in 2003. The blast gave the Cubs the lead, and eventually, after Carlos Villanueva slammed the door on the Rockies in the bottom half of the frame, it gave Chicago the win.

Most memorably, Baez, in just his first MLB game, gave Cubs fans hope for what’s to come.