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The 16 Jewish Cubs

The first Jewish Cub

The first Jewish Cub

By Scott Barancik, Editor

On September 5, 1927, Lefty Weinert tossed a 6-1, complete-game win over the St. Louis Cardinals in the first game of a doubleheader at Wrigley Field, yielding 5 hits and no earned runs.

It wasn’t just the 25-year-old southpaw’s Chicago Cubs premiere. It also marked the very first Jewish appearance in this storied franchise’s history.

Another lengthy dry spell would follow. The next Jewish Cub didn’t appear until September 7, 1942, when 23-year-old third baseman Cy Block went 2-for-4 with an RBI double in his Major League debut.

In time, the numbers grew. Through 2016, a total of 16 Jewish players had worn a Cubs uniform. The most recent: outfielder Ryan Kalish, who first played for Chicago in 2014 and earned a .444 on-base percentage in 10 plate appearances during the 2016 regular season.

 

Jewish Cubs

  1. Ryan Kalish, OF (2014, 2016)
  2. Scott Feldman, P (2013)
  3. John Grabow, P (2009-11)
  4. Sam Fuld, CF (2007, 2009-10)
  5. Jason Marquis, P (2007-08)
  6. Adam Greenberg, CF (2005)
  7. Andrew Lorraine, P (1999-2000)
  8. Jose J. Bautista, P (1993-94)
  9. Ken Holtzman, P (1965-71, 1978-79)
  10. Dave A. Roberts, P (1977-78)
  11. Steve Stone, P (1974-76)
  12. Art Shamsky, 1B (1972)
  13. Ed Mayer, P (1957-58)
  14. Hy Cohen, P (1955)
  15. Cy Block, 3B (1942, 1945-46)
  16. Lefty Weinert, P (1927-28)

The roster of Jewish Cubs is dominated by pitchers. Over the decades, a total of 11 hurlers have combined for 165 wins against 156 losses and a 4.07 ERA. Kenny Holtzman tossed two of the franchise’s 10 no-hitters and racked up 80 wins, tying him for 23rd-most in Cub history. Steve Stone, who also pitched for the White Sox, played three seasons with the Cubs before going on to earn a Cy Young Award with the Baltimore Orioles.

A partial box score from <a href=

Lefty Weinert's Chicago Cub debut on September 5, 1927 (click for full box score)" width="300" height="209" srcset="http://www.jewishbaseballnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/weinert-box-300x209.jpg 300w, http://www.jewishbaseballnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/weinert-box-120x84.jpg 120w, http://www.jewishbaseballnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/weinert-box.jpg 406w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" /> A partial box score from Lefty Weinert’s Chicago Cub debut on September 5, 1927 (click image for full box score)

Pitchers are so dominant on the list that they account for 75 percent of all at-bats by Jewish Cubs — and eight of nine Jewish home runs. Position players have hit .253 with a .343 on-base percentage for the Cubs but managed just one home run in 328 combined at-bats, a solo shot by CF Sam Fuld on the last day of the 2009 regular season.

Art Shamsky burned the Cubs twice. In 1969, the outfielder hit .300 with the New York Mets to help deliver Chicago its most devastating late-season collapse. In 1972, in the twilight of his career, Shamsky managed just two hits in his only 16 at-bats as a Cub.

Ryan Kalish played for the Cubs in 2014 and 2016

Ryan Kalish played for the Cubs in 2014 and 2016

Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, assembled the roster that led to the team’s 2016 World Series triumph. There were no Jewish players in uniform during the Cubs’ playoff run, however. Kalish, who hit .368 at Triple-A in 2016, was left off the Major League roster and declared his free agency on October 11.

There was one Jewish Cub in a World Series, if only briefly. Cy Block entered Game 6 of the 1945 Series against Hank Greenberg‘s Detroit Tigers as a pinch-runner in the 9th inning with the score tied 7-7. Although he didn’t cross home plate, Chicago went on to beat Detroit 8-7 in 12 innings despite a Greenberg home run.

Detroit, of course, won Game 7, launching what would be a 70-year World Series drought for the Cubs that would finally end, gloriously, in 2016.

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

In 2010, the year Jewish Baseball News debuted, MLB’s Opening Day rosters included 10 Jewish players. In 2011 there were nine.

This season? Only seven. It’s enough to make an M.O.T. cry in his $9 ballpark beer.

Thanks to injuries (Sam Fuld, Ryan Kalish), flips of a coin (Ryan LavarnwayMichael Schwimer), a veteran’s departure (John Grabow), and a freak family accident (Jason Marquis), the number of Jewish players on Opening Day rosters will be the lowest in years.

The seven are:

  1. Ryan Braun (LF), Milwaukee Brewers
  2. Craig Breslow (P), Arizona Diamondbacks
  3. Ike Davis (1B), New York Mets
  4. Scott Feldman (P), Texas Rangers
  5. Ian Kinsler (2B), Texas Rangers
  6. Kevin Youkilis (3B/1B), Boston Red Sox
  7. Danny Valencia (3B), Minnesota Twins
More players are likely to be called in later this season, however. They include:
  1. Josh Satin (IF), New York Mets. After getting his first 25 MLB at-bats at the end of 2011, Satin was invited this season to Spring Training, where he batted a respectable .259 with a .323 on-base percentage. When he’ll come back: definitely in September, possibly sooner if the injury-prone Mets lose an infielder.
  2. Jason Marquis (P), Minnesota Twins. Marquis was slotted to be the Twins’ fifth starter on Opening Day. But when his 7-year-old daughter was seriously injured two weeks ago in a bicycle accident, he admirably chose to go home and care for her. Now back after 9 days, the Twins sent him down to the minors for a tune-up. When he’ll come back: as long as he doesn’t screw up badly in the minors, Marquis should be back before the end of the month.
  3. Ryan Lavarnway (C), Boston Red Sox. Lavarnway is a far better hitter than Boston’s #2 catcher, Kelly Shoppach. Take this year’s Spring Training, where Lavarnway outhit .him .429 to .258. Now he just needs to prove he can catch half as well as Shoppach. When he’ll be back: if Shoppach and his teammates fail to produce at the plate, Lavarnway could return before the All-Star break.
  4. Sam Fuld (CF/LF), Tampa Bay Rays. Fuld underwent surgery this week after reinjuring his right wrist. The Rays won’t miss his bat, but they will miss his fielding prowess, baserunning skill, and crowd-pleasing hustle. When he’ll be back: Early reports say Fuld’s likely to be out 4-5 months, meaning an August or September return. A lot will depend on not only on the speed of his recovery but how well rookie outfielder Stephen Vogt and veteran outfielder Luke Scott perform in their Rays debuts.
  5. Michael Schwimer (P), Philadelphia Phillies. A September call-up last season, Schwimer went 1-0 in Spring Training with a 3.86 ERA, one save, five strikeouts, and just one walk in 4-and-two-thirds innings. When he’ll be back: Definitely by September, if not sooner. Schwimer’s misfortune is that the Phillies have an abundance of strong relievers.
  6. Ryan Kalish (RF), Boston Red Sox. After neck surgery in September and shoulder surgery in November, Kalish is starting 2012 on the 60-day disabled list. When he’ll be back: Probably September, but only if he performs well in the minors after completing rehab.
  7.  Brett Lorin (P), Arizona Diamondbacks. For someone who hasn’t even reached AA, Lorin had a remarkable Spring Training, holding opposing batters to a .194 average and going 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA, 7 strikeouts, and one walk across 9 innings. When he’ll be back: MLB teams are loathe to call-up players who lack AAA experience. But if Lorin performs as well with the Mobile BayBears (AA) as he did this Spring, a September taste is possible.

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By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

John Grabow couldn’t have done much more to win a spot in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ bullpen. In six appearances this Spring, the 33-year-old hurler gave up no runs, one walk, and only four hits across six innings while striking out seven.

But yesterday the Men in Blue chose to keep fellow non-roster invitee Jamey Wright, and to send Grabow back to the minors. As expected, Grabow responded by exercising an opt-out clause in the minor-league contract he signed with the Dodgers during the off-season. As a result, he’s a free agent.

It’s not clear Grabow will land a roster spot elsewhere in the MLB. Despite his strong showing in Spring Training, the former Pittsburgh Pirate was largely ineffective during his last two seasons with the Chicago Cubs, during which he recorded ERAs of 7.36 and 4.76.

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Spring Training surprises: An update

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Given that he’s the reigning National League MVP, you might think Ryan Braun would be tearing up Spring Training pitching.

And you would be wrong.

Opening Day is little more than a week away, but 2012 already has already delivered a few surprises, as well as some more predictable performances.

The Surprising

  • John Grabow has yet to give up an earned run. After a second mediocre season in Wrigley Field made him a target of fan frustration, the nine-year veteran seemed on the verge of Washed Up, and the best he could get for 2012 was a minor-league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. But now, Grabow has a fighting chance at filling the final spot in the Dodgers’ regular-season bullpen. In six appearances this Spring, the 33-year-old has given up no runs, one walk, and only four hits across six innings, while striking out 7.
  • In Arizona, veteran reliever Craig Breslow has been outperformed by a low-level minor leaguer. With a lifetime ERA of 3.06, the odds are good that Breslow will find his form during the regular season, but so far this Spring he’s been ineffective, running up a 7.11 ERA in five appearances. The real shocker has been teammate Brett Lorin, a 6’7″ starter who has yet to play even Double-A ball yet. In 7 relief appearances this Spring, the 24-year-old is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA, five strikeouts, and nary a single walk.
  • Minor-leaguer Nate Freiman has 5 RBIs in just 5 at-bats. He’s yet to reach Double-A. He wasn’t on the San Diego Padres’ Spring Training roster, or among its non-roster invitees. But the 6’7″ first baseman has made the most of his limited opportunities this Spring. In 3 appearances, none of them as a starter, Freiman hit a three-run HR, an RBI single, and a sacrifice fly. Only two Jewish players — Danny Valencia (7 RBIs, 45 at-bats), and Ike Davis (6 RBIs, 35 at-bats) have driven in more runs.
  • Ryan Braun is hitting just .095. Narrowly escaping a 50-game suspension under MLB’s drug policy probably hasn’t helped Braun’s psyche any. But who would expect the N.L.’s 2011 MVP to have just 2 hits in 21 at-bats so far this Spring? To be fair, the Milwaukee Brewers’ 28-year-old left fielder has drawn 6 walks, giving him a respectable if modest .321 on-base percentage. Still…
  • The “other” Ryan is hitting .455. Boston Red Sox C Ryan Lavarnway, who made his Major League debut last August, has always swung a good bat. But his performance this Spring will make the Red Sox think twice about sending him down to AAA next week.

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The Predictable

  • Ian Kinsler is off to a fast start, hitting .368 with 3 HRs and 5 RBIs.
  • Sam Fuld is hitting .217, identical to his average across seven MLB Spring Trainings. Notwithstanding his remarkable start last April, Super Sam hits only slight better during the regular season, with a career average of .244.
  • Jason Marquis is struggling with his control. In 4 Spring stars, the newly-arrived Minnesota Twin is 1-1 with an 8.53 ERA, and he’s walked nearly twice as many batters (9) as he’s struck out (5).
For more detailed Spring Training stats, see the tables below.

Hitters

Spring training games played through March 25, 2012
 BatterTeamPosABHHRRBIBBSOAVGOBPSLG
1Ben OrloffHOU2B210100.500.500.500
2Ryan LavarnwayBOSC33150435.455.486.515
3Nate FreimanSD1B521501.400.3331.000
4Ian KinslerTEX2B38143515.368.385.684
5Jake LemmermanLADSS310000.333.333.333
6Danny ValenciaMIN3B45123729.267.298.533
7Josh SatinNYM2B2770239.259.323.296
8Ike DavisNYM1B3581677.229.357.371
9Sam FuldTBLF2350055.217.357.217
10Kevin YoukilisBOS3B2860246.214.333.250
11Ryan BraunMILLF2121265.095.321.238
TOTAL260739343152.281nana

Pitchers

Spring Training games played through March 25, 2012
 PlayerTeamWLERAIPHRERBBSO
1John GrabowLAD100.00640017
2Daniel BerlindCHC000.00100010
3Brett LorinARI102.57742205
4Michael SchwimerPHI103.864.252215
5Scott FeldmanTEX024.50141777211
6Craig BreslowARI007.116.165534
7Jason MarquisMIN118.5312.219121295
TOTAL434.8851.25528281737

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Spring Training update (3/11/12)

By Scott Barancik/Jewish Baseball News

Spring Training 2012 is in its second week, and a number of Jewish players are in the mix.

Fifteen Jews — including 6 pitchers and 9 position players — were invited to participate in Major League Baseball’s annual rite this year. They include all 13 who played MLB ball in 2011, plus former major league OF Ryan Kalish (Boston Red Sox) and current minor league P Brett Lorin (Arizona Diamondbacks). Fourteen of the 15 are on their teams’ 40-man roster. P John Grabow, who recently signed a minor-league contract with the Los Angeles dodgers, is the lone non-roster invitee.

The Boston Red Sox have the highest Jewish population of any team at Spring Training, with three players, followed by the Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Mets, and Texas Rangers, each with two.

Through games played March 10, Jewish batters were hitting a combined .253, with 2 HRs and 10 RBIs in 75 at-bats (see table below). New York Mets 1B Ike Davis led the group with a .400 average and .500 on-base percentage. Minnesota Twins 3B Danny Valencia showed some power with a HR, two doubles, and a .357 average. National League MVP Ryan Braun was off to a slow start, with four strikeouts and just one hit in his first 8 at-bats, a home run.

Boston’s Kalish, who had off-season surgery on his neck and left shoulder, isn’t expected to play until June.

Jewish pitchers were playing admirably well. Five of the six hadn’t yielded a single run through March 10. Texas Rangers starter Scott Feldman, for example, gave up just two hits and a walk over five total innings while striking out three. Jason Marquis, a newly-minted Minnesota Twin, was the sole disappointment. He blew his first start by giving up 4 earned runs and 3 walks to the Red Sox before being removed in the 2nd inning. His second start, against the St. Louis Cardinals, was modestly better: Marquis gave up 1 earned run on 3 hits and 2 walks over 3 innings.

Following are player stats through games played March 10:

Batter Team Pos AB H HR RBI BB SO AVG OBP SLG
1 Ike Davis NYM 1B 10 4 0 0 2 3 .400 .500 .500
2 Danny Valencia MIN 3B 14 5 1 4 0 2 .357 .357 .714
3 Josh Satin NYM 2B 12 3 0 1 1 5 .250 .308 .250
4 Kevin Youkilis BOS 3B 9 2 0 1 2 2 .222 .364 .333
5 Ian Kinsler TEX 2B 14 3 0 0 0 2 .214 .214 .214
6 Ryan Lavarnway BOS C 5 1 0 2 1 2 .200 .286 .200
7 Ryan Braun MIL LF 8 1 1 2 1 4 .125 .222 .500
8 Sam Fuld TB OF 3 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000
9 Ryan Kalish BOS OF
TOTALS 75 19 2 10 7 20 .253


Player Team W L ERA IP H R ER BB SO
1 Scott Feldman TEX 0 0 0.00 5 2 0 0 1 3
2 Craig Breslow ARI 0 0 0.00 2.1 1 0 0 0 2
3 Brett Lorin ARI 0 0 0.00 2 0 0 0 0 1
4 Michael Schwimer PHI 1 0 0.00 2 2 0 0 0 3
5 Jason Marquis MIN 0 1 9.64 4.2 6 5 5 5 2
6 John Grabow LAD 0 0 0.00 1 0 0 0 0 1
TOTALS 1 1 16.3 11 5 5 6 12


To track the performance of Jewish players during Spring Training, check the Jewish Box Score on our home page every day.

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Sam Fuld, 5 others make All-Star ballot

Click here to cast your votes

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Voting began yesterday (4/26/2011) for the 2011 All-Star Game, and all 6 Jewish position players were on the ballot.

The six include:

Fans can vote online by going here, and up to 25 times .

All-Star pitchers are selected by team managers, so the fate of Jewish throwers like Oakland A’s reliever Craig Breslow, Washington Nationals starter Jason Marquis and Chicago Cubs reliever John Grabow remains to be seen.

The biggest surprise on the list is the selection of Sam Fuld, who began the season a virtual unknown but has grown famous for his aggressive baserunning, daring catches and surprisingly productive hitting. MLB.com’s article on the All-Star ballot even mentions him:

Could the amazing first-month story of Rays outfielder Sam Fuld carry momentum through the voting?

As they say in Chicago, vote early and often.

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — The 2011 MLB season opened Thursday (3/31/2011), and Milwaukee Brewers LF Ryan Braun started things off on the right foot.

Braun, 27, went 2/3 with a long blast over the center-field fence, two walks, and 3 runs scored in a 7-6 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. In 2010, Braun went 2/4 on Opening Day, with a double, sacrifice fly, and two RBIs.

Braun is one of 9 Jewish players to make this year’s Opening Day rosters. They are:

Several players who were on major-league teams in 2010 didn’t make an Opening Day roster this year. The Boston Red Sox sent LF Ryan Kalish to the team’s AAA affiliate, the Los Angeles Dodgers cut RF Gabe Kapler, and Texas Rangers P Scott Feldman is on the disabled list.

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Our 2011 Spring Training Awards

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — At least 19 Jews got playing time during Spring Training 2011, including five pitchers and 14 position players.

Here are our awards honoring the best, worst, and most surprising performances:

Best All-Around Offense: Ian Kinsler. The Texas Rangers 2B didn’t look like the same player who sat out nearly 100 games last season with injuries. Kinsler, 28, led all Jewish batters with 7 doubles, 5 HRs, 13 RBIs (tied), and a .389 on-base percentage. Although Jewish batters as a group struck out way more than they walked (94 vs. 41), Kinsler was one of just two players who didn’t, matching his 5 Ks with 5 BBs.

Best All-Around Offense (runner-up): Ryan Braun. The Milwaukee Brewers LF batted only 40 times, but that didn’t stop him from hitting 4 HRs, driving in 11 runs, and leading all Jews with 15 runs scored, a .325 batting average, .700 slugging percentage, and 1.072 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).

Best All-Around Offense (honorable mention): Ike Davis. The New York Mets 1B pretty much matched the productivity of his 2010 rookie season, hitting .273 with 3 HRs, 13 RBIs (tied/1st), and a .344 on-base percentage.

Breakout offense: Sam Fuld. At 29, you can’t quite call the Tampa Bay Rays CF an up-and-comer. But Fuld made the most of what turned out to be his best chance in years to make an opening-day roster, hitting .277 with 1 HR, 5 extra-base hits, 8 RBIs, and 4 stolen bases. And he got his wish: a seat on the Rays’ bench.

Most disappointing offense: Kevin Youkilis. Whatever you chalk it up to — bad thumb, the distraction of switching from 1B to 3B, etc. — the Boston Red Sox stalwart, normally an on-base machine, struggled at the plate this Spring. Youk hit  just .175 with no HRs, 4 RBIs, a Jew-high 15 strikeouts, and just 4 walks. Teammate Ryan Kalish was a close second in this category, hitting .235 with 0 HRs and one lonely RBI.

Weirdest stats: Ben Guez. The Detroit Tigers CF has yet to play a regular-season MLB game and saw only limited playing time in Spring Training, getting 12 plate appearances and 7 at-bats. But oh, what Guez did with them. The 24-year-old singled twice, doubled once, and walked five times, good enough for a .429 batting average and .667 on-base percentage.

Nicest surprise: John Grabow. After a dismal 2010 in which he went 1-3 with a 7.36 ERA and “held” opposing batters to a .321 average, the Chicago Cubs reliever must have grown tired of being Public Enemy #1 in the Windy City. How else can you explain Grabow’s 2.57 ERA in Spring Training? A close second to Grabow in this awards category is Washington Nationals starter Jason Marquis, who went 2-9 with a 6.60 ERA in an injury-plagued 2010 season but finished Spring Training with a 1-1 record and a 4.02 ERA.

Worst surprise: Craig Breslow. Arguably the only Jewish MLB pitcher who didn’t embarrass himself last year, the Oakland A’s reliever went 4-4 in 2010 with a 3.01 ERA, holding opposing batters to a meek .194 batting average. But Breslow had an awful spring, with an 11.25 ERA and an opposing-hitters batting average of, believe it or not, .500. The saving grace? We’re only talking about 5 appearances and 4 innings pitched, not a lot to go on. Still, the Freaky Friday switcheroo Breslow and Grabow did this Spring has got us mighty confused.

Here are the final 2011 Spring Training stats for position players:

TEAM POS AB R 2B HR RBI AVG OBP
James Rapoport STL CF 1 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000
Ben Guez DET CF 7 0 1 0 0 .429 .667
Ryan Lavarnway BOS CF 9 1 1 1 3 .333 .333
Josh Satin NYM 2B 6 1 0 1 2 .333 .333
Ryan Braun MIL LF 40 15 3 4 11 .325 .372
Danny Valencia MIN 3B 65 6 6 1 8 .308 .333
Ian Kinsler TEX 2B 63 14 7 5 13 .302 .389
Sam Fuld TB CF 47 9 3 1 8 .277 .333
Ike Davis NYM 1B 55 5 4 3 13 .273 .344
Gabe Kapler LAD RF 45 6 3 1 7 .244 .277
Ryan Kalish TB LF 51 4 2 0 1 .235 .316
Jake Lemmerman LAD SS 5 1 1 0 0 .200 .200
Kevin Youkilis BOS 3B 57 3 2 0 4 .175 .238
Jason Kipnis CLE 2B 18 3 0 1 2 .167 .250
TOTAL 469 68 33 18 72 .269

And the final 2011 stats for pitchers:

TEAM W L ERA G IP H BB SO
John Grabow CHC 0 0 2.57 7 7.0 8 3 4
Jason Marquis WSH 1 1 4.02 4 15.2 15 6 9
Aaron Poreda SD 0 1 6.75 3 2.2 2 5 1
Michael Schwimer PHI 0 0 7.20 4 5.0 5 2 4
Craig Breslow OAK 0 0 11.25 5 4.0 9 2 2
TOTAL 1 2 5.35

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TEAM W L ERA G IP H BB SO
John Grabow CHC 0 0 2.57 7 7 8 3 4
Jason Marquis WSH 1 1 4.02 4 15.2 15 6 9
Aaron Poreda SD 0 1 6.75 3 2.2 2 5 1
Michael Schwimer PHI 0 0 7.20 4 5 5 2 4
Craig Breslow OAK 0 0 11.25 5 4 9 2 2
TOTAL 1 2 5.35
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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Last season, Oakland A’s reliever Craig Breslow was the ace, and Chicago Cubs reliever John Grabow lost face.

Breslow went 4-4 with a 3.01 ERA, 71 strikeouts and 29 walks in 75 appearances. At a salary of only $425,000, the Yale University alum was a bargain.

Grabow , who cost the Cubbies $2.7-million, went 1-3 with a bloated 7.36 ERA in 28 games.

It may only be spring training, but so far this year, their roles appear reversed.

On Friday (3/25/2011), for example, Grabow earned his third ‘hold’ in five appearances by pitching a scoreless and hitless inning in the Cubs’ 6-3 win over the Seattle Mariners. Grabow’s spring training ERA is a not-too-shabby 3.60, although opposing batters are hitting a worrisome .286 against him.

For Breslow, Friday’s game — only his second this spring training — was a nightmare. The 30-year-old lefty gave up four hits and 3 earned runs over one inning in the A’s 10-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

Both players are getting a big salary bump in 2011, but the pressure to perform will remain highest on Grabow, who will earn $4.8-million to Breslow’s $1.4-million.

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Daily highlights

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Here are your Daily Highlights for Thursday (3/17/2011):

The odds may not be in his favor, but 35-year-old RF Gabe Kapler is doing what he can to earn a spot on the Los Angeles Dodgers’ opening-day roster. On Thursday, his pinch-hit HR (see video) was part of a four-run 8th inning that rallied the Dodgers past the Arizona Diamondbacks, 6-4. Kapler is batting .250 this spring, with 1 HR and 4 RBIs in 28 at-bats.

Chicago Cubs P John Grabow played for the first time since the Cubs’ spring-training debut, pitching a scoreless 7th inning in a 6-5 heartbreaker to the Oakland A’s. Grabow is coming off of knee surgery, soreness in his throwing shoulder, and a disappointing 2010 season in which he went 1-and-3 with a 7.36 ERA, well above his career ERA of 4.24.

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Spring Training 2011 is just two weeks old. Many players are still shedding their off-season rust. But a couple Jewish players are already tearing the stitching off the ball.

Texas Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler, who was hobbled by injuries last season, leads all MLB players with 4 HRs, is tied for second with 7 RBIs, and is batting .444 (8/18). Figure in walks, and he has a nifty on-base percentage of .545.

Also hitting well is Minnesota Twins 3B Danny Valencia. After finishing 3rd in voting for the A.L. Rookie of the Year award last year, Valencia is batting .500 (6/12) with 3 RBIs and is tied for the A.L. lead in doubles, with four.

Here is how all Jewish position players were doing through Mon., March 7:

 

TEAM
AB H HR RBI BB AVG OBP
Danny Valencia
MIN
12 6 0 3 1 .500 .538
Ian Kinsler
TEX
18 8 4 7 3 .444 .545
Ryan Braun
MIL
11 3 1 2 1 .273 .333
Ike Davis NYM 12 3 1 3 4 .250 .438
Ben Guez
DET
4 1 0 0 3 .250 .571
Gabe Kapler
LAD
15 3 0 1 0 .200 .200
Kevin Youkilis
BOS
13 2 0 1 1 .154 .214
Jason Kipnis
CLE
13 2 1 2 2 .154 .267
Ryan Kalish
TB
16 2 0 0 2 .125 .222
Sam Fuld
TB
9 1 0 0 0 .111 .111
Ryan Lavarnway
BOS
4 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
Jake Lemmerman
LAD
1 0 0 0 0 .000 .000

Among pitchers, Washington Nationals starter Jason Marquis followed up a difficult 2010 with a strong spring-training outing, giving up just 1 hit over 3 innings in his only game played so far. Here’s how all Jewish pitchers were doing through March 7:

 

TEAM
W L ERA G IP H BB SO
Jason Marquis
WSH
0 0 0.00 1 3 1 0 1
Aaron Poreda
SD
0 0 5.40 2 1.2 0 4 1
Michael Schwimer
PHI
0 0 13.50 2 2 4 0 1
John Grabow
CHC
0 0 18.00 1 1 3 0 1
Craig Breslow
OAK
Scott Feldman TEX
Jason Hirsh NYY
David Kopp STL

To track Jewish players in Spring Training, visit Jewish Baseball News for our daily box score.

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TEAM
AB H HR RBI BB AVG OBP
Danny Valencia
MIN
12 6 0 3 1 .500 .538
Ian Kinsler
TEX
18 8 4 7 3 .444 .545
Ryan Braun
MIL
11 3 1 2 1 .273 .333
Ike Davis NYM 12 3 1 3 4 .250 .438
Ben Guez
DET
4 1 0 0 3 .250 .571
Gabe Kapler
LAD
15 3 0 1 0 .200 .200
Kevin Youkilis
BOS
13 2 0 1 1 .154 .214
Jason Kipnis
CLE
13 2 1 2 2 .154 .267
Ryan Kalish
TB
16 2 0 0 2 .125 .222
Sam Fuld
TB
9 1 0 0 0 .111 .111
Ryan Lavarnway
BOS
4 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
Jake Lemmerman
LAD
1 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
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Kapler joins hobbled-Jews list

JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Tampa Bay Rays RF Gabe Kapler was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday (8/16/2010), his second such visit this season.

There is some speculation that Kapler was ‘listed’ not so much because of a twisted ankle but to make room on the roster for 1B Carlos Pena, who was returning from the DL and might provide the Rays with some much-needed power during the pennant race.

Either way, 2010 is turning out to be one of the most injury-prone seasons in recent memory for Jewish ballplayers.

Two players — Boston Red Sox 1B Kevin Youkilis and Chicago Cubs RP John Grabow — are out with season-ending injuries. Los Angeles Dodgers C Brad Ausmus only recently returned after spending much of the season on the DL, his first such stop in an 18-year MLB career. Texas Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler is on the DL for the second time this season, and Washington Nationals SP Jason Marquis is back now after a lengthy stint away.

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — So who are the 2010 Jewish category leaders in the MLB as of today (July 12)?

Among the eight position players:

Among the five pitchers:

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS –Sunday was not a day for bragging.

Six Jewish position players collectively went 1-for-17 yesterday (May 30), including four strikeouts. Texas Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler managed the day’s only hit (a 1st-inning single) and only walk in a 6-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

The day’s sole Jewish pitcher, Chicago Cubs RP John Grabow, fared no better. In a two-inning stint, Grabow gave up two home runs, three earned runs and four hits total. It’s the sort of performance that recently cost Grabow, 31, his role as manager Lou Piniella’s top left-handed setup man.

The Jewish Batting Average has slumped in recent days. It closed yesterday at .287, or 26 points above the MLB average of .261.

On the bright side, the blimp-like Jewish ERA has moderated a bit, thanks in part to clutch relief work by Oakland A’s RP Craig Breslow. The Jewish ERA closed yesterday at 7.09, still nearly three runs per game above the MLB ERA of 4.13.

Before you get depressed and go nuts on frozen blintzes, remember: it’s a long season. Why, less than two weeks ago, Jewish batters smacked four home runs in a single day.

— Scott Barancik

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — The latest info on Jews with bats:

  • New York Mets 1B Ike Davis, brought up from AAA two weeks after the 2010 season began, is now batting cleanup. The move to 4th in the batting order paid off for the Mets on Thursday (5/20/2010) as Davis went 3-for-5 with 2 doubles and three runs scored.
  • Davis was one of four Jewish players with multi-hit games Thursday (5/20/2010). Joining him were Tampa Bay Rays RF Gabe Kapler (2-for-2), Texas Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler (2-for-5), and Boston Red Sox 1B Kevin Youkilis (2-for4 with 1 HR and 4 RBIs).
  • According to this article, Youkilis is on pace to have his best month ever at the plate. So far this May, he leads the majors in batting average (.411), on-base percentage (.585), slugging percentage (.786), and OPS (1.371).
  • The Boston Red Sox dropped RP Scott Schoeneweis from the team’s roster Wednesday (5/19/2010). Schoeneweis, a last-minute addition to the Opening Day squad, had an unimpressive 7.90 ERA this season, allowing 19 hits in 13 innings. The Red Sox have not said yet whether they will trade Schoeneweis, release him, or place him on waivers.
  • Florida International University sophomore Garrett Wittels continued his record-setting streak Thursday by getting a hit in his 46th straight game, part of FIU’s 12-4 victory against Florida Atlantic University. Wittels needs one more game to tie Phil Stephenson for second on the all-time list at 47 games.
  • AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees SP Jason Hirsh had his four-game winning streak broken Tuesday (5/18/2010) in a 3-0 loss to the Indianapolis Indians. On the bright side, Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader columnist Dave Konopki praised Hirsh this week, saying “it would be great to see him wearing pinstripes while standing on the mound at Yankee Stadium.”
  • AAA Memphis Redbirds CF James Rapoport is on a tear since being called up from AA. After 11 games with the Redbirds — a St. Louis Cardinals affiliate — the 24-year-old is batting .378 with a .440 on-base percentage. Yesterday (5/20/2010) he went 4-for-6 in a 13-3 victory over the Sacramento River Cats.
  • Milwaukee Brewers LF Adam Stern hasn’t made the most of his brief return to the bigs. In four games since being called up from AAA, the 30-year-old Canadian is 0-for-6 with two strikeouts.
  • Texas Rangers SP Scott Feldman earned his first victory since April 11 with a 13-7 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. It wasn’t his finest hour: Feldman gave up a career-high 12 hits in six innings.
  • In other struggling-Jewish-pitcher news, Chicago Cubs RP John Grabow continued his shaky 2010 in a 5-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. Grabow gave up 1 hit, two walks and the winning run in 2/3 inning. Grabow’s 8.44 ERA is second-worst in the National League, and he’s reportedly “testing the patience of manager Lou Piniella, who continues to give him the ball in crucial late-inning situations.”

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O.”BP (.585 — a mark that is 100 points better than any other player in the game), slugging (.786) and OPS (1.371).
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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — As Jewish baseball fans well know, Chicago Cubs reliever John Grabow has had a tough season so far.

An article in yesterday’s Chicago Tribune offered some insight:

Before Tuesday night’s game, left-handed hitters were batting .385 against (fellow reliever Sean) Marshall and .143 against Grabow, but right-handed hitters were batting .455 against Grabow and .240 against Marshall.

The Trib’s comment suggests a simple solution: don’t let Grabow, a lefty, pitch to right-handed batters.

As I dig a bit deeper into the data, however, the solution isn’t so clear. True, across nine games this season, right-handed batters are hitting .440 against Grabow, while lefties are hitting just .111. In fact, Grabow hasn’t given up a single earned run against lefties.

But the discrepancy narrows when you add walks to the mix. Because Grabow has walked more lefties than righties this year, lefties have an on-base average of .385 against him, versus .462 among righties. In other words, Grabow’s propensity to walk lefties has kept their batting average and earned-runs production deceptively low.

Here’s another reason to doubt the wisdom of limiting Grabow’s exposure to lefties: history. From his debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2003 through the 2009 season, Grabow did slightly worse among left-handed batters (.263 batting average) than among righties (.254). Thus, Grabow’s current trouble with righties may well be temporary.

Overall, Grabow seems to be coming out of his slump. In the last three appearances, his ERA has dropped from 9.53 to 7.04 and he’s earned two holds.

Unfortunately, Grabow contributed to the Cubs’ 3-1 defeat Tuesday (4/27) with a throwing error that led to an unearned run.

At least it didn’t hurt his ERA.

— Scott Barancik

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JEWISH BASEBALL NEWS — Jewish position players are batting a collective .318 this season, compared to .256 for their peers. But Jewish pitchers are struggling.

How bad are things?

Having said all this, it’s early yet. We’re less than one-tenth of the way through the 2010 season. And there’s a chance that I’m just projecting a little bit here. Allow me to share my own recent humiliation on the diamond.

I used to be a pretty good softball player. Competent in the field, strong at the plate, aggressive baserunner. In my flaccid mind, I still am. But years of parenting, couch-surfing and not playing appear to have caught up with me.

A couple months ago I joined a local, co-ed softball league. And in a game this week, I did something you might’ve thought impossible. After lining — okay, dribbling — the ball to the pitcher, I began sprinting for first base but soon ran into an unexpected obstacle: my own bat, which I conveniently had tossed in the basepath.

From one humiliated, bruised mess to another: I’m rooting for you, pitchers.

— Scott Barancik

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