miCubs Monday (Tuesday Edition)

By Jordan Bernfield        Follow @miCubs and @JordanBernfield on Twitter.

The Cubs were off yesterday and I just got back in town.

  1. NEWS AND NOTES:  Writing this weekly piece for miCubs.com, I never thought I would say this in 2012: the Cubs are red-hot.  Having won 12 of their last 16 contests, they have the best record in baseball since June 25th.  Yes, the Cubs. The Chicago Cubs.  After entering the all-star break having won four of their last five series, with the lone blemish a series a split in Atlanta, the Cubs swept Arizona in their first 2nd half set.  Following an off day yesterday, they prepare to host the Miami Marlins for the next three days.  Yes, Carlos Zambrano, Ozzie Guillen, Mark Buehrle, and the Marlins.  As for the trade rumors? They continue, but at this point we're not certain where Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and others will end up.  What we do know is, they'll likely be gone before long.
  2. WEEK IN REVIEW:  With the all-star break putting a four day halt in the schedule, the Cubs were undefeated last week.  In the mid-summer classic, both Starlin Castro and Bryan LaHair played, and saw three combined pitches.  Both players made an out in their single at-bats.  But no errors!
  3. THIS WEEK: The next three days figure to be a circus, with the return of two loony ex-Chicago ballplayers and one who is nice and classy.  Carlos Zambrano and Ozzie Guillen return to the Windy City, both of whom were lightning rods of controversy their entire stay here, and Mark Buehrle, who was a very solid representative for Chicago with the White Sox.  After this series completes, the Cubs visit the Cardinals in St. Louis this weekend.
  4. STAT OF THE DAY:  Ryan Dempster, who has thrown 33 consecutive scoreless innings, is the 6th pitcher since 1900 to win five-straight starts in one season, and not allow a run in any of those starts.  He joins Doc White (1904 White Sox), Don Drysdale (six straight starts for the 1968 Dodgers), Bob Gibson (1968 Cardinals), Orel Hershiser (1988 Dodgers), and Brandon Webb (2007 Diamondbacks). [Courtesy of Cubs Game Notes, via Elias Sports Bureau]
  5. SABR STAT:  Darwin Barney leads all MLB 2nd basemen with a 13.5 UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games).  Barney has had a fantastic year defensively at 2nd base, and the advanced metrics verify his success.
  6. THE QUOTE:  With Carlos Zambrano in town, there's only one quote that makes any sense to use: "We stinks."
  7. MINOR LEAGUE STAT:  Javier Baez continues to rake at Class-A Peoria.  The Cubs 2011 1st round pick currently sports an 11-game hitting streak, and had six total hits in starts Saturday and Sunday.  Over his last ten games, Baez has doubled and triple twice, while belting four home runs.
  8. PITCHING PROBABLES:  Today, the Cubs send Travis Wood to the mound opposite Anibal Sanchez.  Wood has been brilliant of late, posting a 1.32 ERA in the month of July, and a 1.01 ERA in the last 30 days.  Sanchez has struggled in his career against the Cubs, posting a 1-2 record with a 5.66 ERA in four starts.
  9. QUICK TAKE: Cubs fans, don't be fooled by this recent stretch of success.  Ultimately, it doesn't mean anything.  The Cubs will continue to sell off as many parts of value as possible, and they should.  The hope for the next two weeks is the Cubs continue to get good performance from their tradeable assets, so they can net the highest value in return.  While the winning is nice, the bigger picture shows the Cubs adding significant young talent in the next couple weeks with the hopes those players will be part of the answer in three to five years.