Archive for April, 2004

Pirates Lament about Clement

Thursday, April 15th, 2004

Wednesday’s 8-3 drubbing of the Pirates worked as a balm on a stinging wound for me. Having seen my Cubs dismantled by a team featuing Raul Mondesi and Rob Mackowiak hitting 4-5 and Tike Redman playing center field just one day before, I needed reassurance that this team had something — anything — going for it.

I didn’t get to watch the game, but there were a lot of interesting numbers in the box score:

Yummy:

-Todd Walker had 3 hits and drove in 3 runs, but committed a throwing error.

-Moises Alou homered, but is hitting .194 on the season.

-Aramis Ramirez hit two homers and got three hits. Can this be right — Ramirez’s 2 solo shots ran his season total to TWO RBI?

-Along with the three homers, the Cubs had four doubles.

-Matt Clement threw six solid innings. He walked three and struck out seven, with six grounders and five fly ball outs. Chicagosports.com says Clement was wild early on, but settled down. Clement’s “Game Score” was a solid 72.

-LaTroy struck out two and has yet to allow a run.

-Francis “Not Pratt” Beltran made his debut, walking one and striking out one in a scoreless inning.

-Barrett had an eventful day: one run, one hit, one RBI, one intentional walk, one HBP.

Yucky:

-Corey Patterson went 0 for 5 with four strikeouts. Anybody know how many pitches he saw? Let’s see, 3 strikes x 4 k’s = 12, plus one other out. Minimum of 13, so I’d guess…oh…14.

-Kyle Farnsworth gave up a three run shot to Mondesi, running his ERA to 8.31.

-Jose Macias pinch-hit. It took one game for Baker to dash my hopes.

Alex Gonzalez booted a grounder.

It occurs to me:

That with Walker playing every day for Grudz, the Cubs could develop a (slightly) more balanced lefty-righty lineup that would make opposing managers’ jobs more difficult:

1 Lee R

2 Walker L

3 Sosa R

4 Alou R

5 Patterson L

6 Ramirez R

7 Barrett R

8 Gonzalez R

Currently the lineup goes LLRRRRRR, and features the guy who never takes a pitch in the two hole.

Lee, with a good OBP and ability to steal the occasional base, can lead off and the Cubs still have power all the way to the sixth spot. Walker, a patient hitter who can hit behind the runner, bats second. Alou’s best attribute at this point in his career is a decent batting average, so maybe he can get on for the fence-swinging Patterson and Ramirez. Barrett and Gonzalez will stink the place up no matter what you do.

Any comments?

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Pratfall

Wednesday, April 14th, 2004

Andy Pratt has (finally) been sent down to Iowa after recording five outs, walking seven, and hitting one batter. Francis Beltran has taken his place. I assume that Pratt was put on the roster because he throws left-handed, but it wouldn’t matter if he got to face the all-Ray Oyler team; he wasn’t getting ANYBODY out.

Righty reliever Francis Beltran has been called up to take his place. This makes me happy.

Juan Cruz has pitched 6.2 innings, giving up 7 hits, 4 BB, and 2 runs (1 earned) while striking out 6. It’s still early, but it looks looks like we were taken.

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Pick to Click for 4/14/04

Wednesday, April 14th, 2004

Dave – Latroy Hawkins

Keenan – Moises Alou

Joe – Todd Walker

Shaun – Aramis Ramirez

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Throw this one out

Monday, April 12th, 2004

Normally I would write a whole big analysis about what the Cubs are doing wrong, but this game disgusted me. This is not the team I watched in October last year. Maddux looked awful for two starts in a row. He has just be un-Maddux like with the control. I take confidence in that fact that this was how he started last season for Atlanta and people were calling for his head. However, once he settled in, it went nuts down the stretch and was unhittable. I think it will be the same this year. I expect about 2 or 3 more bad to average starts before we get the Maddux we paid for.

This team is also not hitting. I am not as worried about this as other writers are. I really think this team WILL hit, but is just starting a little slow. I’m not worried about Lee, or Alou, or the team in general. If you remember, this team was under .500 in July last year and did what it takes down the stretch. We just need to get the bats going and the wins will begin to pile up. Stay strong Cub fans.

Player of the Game

Normally I put the picture of the player who was voted player of the game at the beginning of the post. I honestly do not feel anyone should be. I would rather vote for Bill Murray for making me laugh when the Cubs were getting killed. However, for the sake of the pick to click game, your player of the game today is Sammy Sosa.

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Picks to click for April 12th, 2004

Sunday, April 11th, 2004

Joe – Alex Gonzalez

Dave – Sammy Sosa

Shaun – Sammy Sosa

Keenan – Greg Maddux

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Happy Easter to All Courtesy of the CUBBIES!!!

Sunday, April 11th, 2004

On a day where a lot of people were probably busy doing things other than watch Cubs baseball, the Cubs were busy playing their best game of the season. While most people were spending time with family or watching Phil Mickelson go for his first major ever, Kerry Wood was playing Easter bunny and dropping goose eggs on the braves scoreboard.

This is the way that most Cub fans pictured their team playing in 2004. Not only did the team break out of it’s hitting funk, but it also got the 3 straight good outing by their starting pitcher. Kerry Wood, who battled a cut on his pitching hand all game, went 7 innings, giving up only 1 run and striking out 12 Braves. Seven of those K’s came in a row, which tied the all time Cub record for consecutive strikeouts by a starter. The last Cub to do it was Mark Prior in 2002. The Cubs hitters also got in on the action, pounding out 10 runs on 13 hits and 4 Homeruns. All in all a great day for the team. The win also gets the Cubs back to .500 as they return home to open the season at Wrigley field on Monday.

I was very pleased with how this team looked. I thought they capitalized well on Braves mistakes and came through with clutch hits with runners in scoring position. Coming into the game, the Cubs were 0-17 in the series with runners in scoring position. They took care of that today.

The bullpen continued to look good. Hawkins pitched a perfect 8th inning, striking out 2. Wuertz pitched the 9th and gave up a run, but by that time, it didn’t matter. I think this game is the turning point for good things to come this next series at Wrigley. I think the bats will begin to heat up and we’ll get this season pointing where it should be.

Dave’s perspective:

Don’t be fooled by the ten run offensive output; it was a bad outing by Cunnane and a mistake pitch hammered by Barrett that accounted for most of the runs. They’re still having trouble at the plate.

Man, Wood was awesome today. And fairly efficient, too.

We saw a Martinez-Walker-Hollandsworth double play today. I wonder if that’s the only time we’ll see that all season or if those guys will get to play as the second line of the infield once a week or so?

So far I have no complaints about the way Dusty is giving playing time to Grudz and Walker. Seems like he’s balanced them pretty well.

Player of the Game

Boy I deliberated for a while on this one. Everyone in me wanted to give it to Kerry, mainly because he pitched like a stud through a nasty cut. However, Barrett made his case as well with a homerun and 4 RBI’s. So, in the effort of being fair to our competition, we set a rule that on close calls for player of the game, we would defer to CBS Sportsline’s decision. They chose Kerry Wood, so that is who will get the player of the game award. I’m happy with this because I think he pitched like an Ace today. He kept his pitch count under control and looked unhitable for a good period of the game. A well deserved 2nd win of the year.

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Picks to Click for Sunday’s Game

Sunday, April 11th, 2004

Joe – Kerry Wood

Shaun – Derrek Lee

Dave – Aramis Ramirez

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The wheels fall off

Saturday, April 10th, 2004

Cubs – 2 Braves – 5

The Cubs were coming off of an emotional roller coaster of a win that took two days to play. The bullpen was spent and we had Sergio Mitre on the mound. It didn’t make for a good game. Mitre looked wild in the first inning or so and gave up a run on a wild pitch. It looked like it was going to be an early night for him. Then something clicked and he just got everyone and their mother to hit the ball on the ground for outs. At one point, I swear, Bobby Cox even grounded out to the pitcher. Mitre just started cruising.

Then comes the inning the wheels fell off. Mitre trots out for the 8th and calmly gets the first two. I was sitting there thinking to myself how wonderful this was for him to do. We really needed a performance like this to give our pen a rest. Then he gives up a hit to Giles. No big deal, he’ll get the next guy to hit one on the ground and we’ll bring in Joe in the 9th. All of sudden Dusty comes trotting out to the mound to pull Mitre. I didn’t even know that anyone was warming up in the pen. TBS never mentioned it. Ok, so Dusty is pulling Mitre. No big deal, he’ll bring in Tightpants or Latroy and they’ll take care of it. WRONG!!!! Who’s that running out to pitch? Andy Pratt? With a 1 run lead and the heart of their lineup up? Dusty, what are you doin? Dusty apparently wanted to try the old Lefty/Righty advantage I guess. Pratt blows it and loads the bases with walks. Tightpants comes in to do the best he can to try to get it nailed down, but to no avail. Grandpa Franco made him pay. The Cubs then proceeded to go down easy in the 9th.

Here are my problems. First, the Cubs are hitting worse than a little league team. They are not getting clutch hits at all. We can’t seem to string a few together and make some runs. We’re scattering everything. These last two games, we have managed 4 runs. That’s pathetic against the Braves # 4 and # 5 pitchers. The Cubs bats need to do a better job than this or we’re not going anywhere. I think this team will hit enough to win, but it just seems like the bats are all cold in the early going. We’ll get it going soon.

My player of the game today is Sergio Mitre. He did what he needed to do and got deep into the game. He looked impressive on the mound and fielded his position quite well. I was impressed. Hopefully this is what he will be able to give us next time out.

Dave’s Perspective

Sergio Mitre pitched magnificently for 7 2/3 innings until Marcus Giles singled, then Dusty Baker summoned Andy Pratt from the pen. Mitre left the game up 2-1, but Pratt walked Larry Jones and Drew. Farnsworth came in and walked Andruw Jones to force home the tying run, then gave up a wall-banging double to Julio Franco, who remembers being in the stands for the Cubs’ last World Series victory. At inning’s end, it was 5-2, and the Cubs couldn’t recover.

At least the game didn’t go into extra innings…

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Understatement of the Year

Saturday, April 10th, 2004

I watched the game on TBS last night (WGN is only offered in the premium cable package here, and I’m thousands of dollars in debt). Ryne Sandberg was in the booth for 14 out of the 15 innings. Let me start by saying he’s my favorite player of all time, but he was always a bad interview. Lots of “and, um”s and “ah”s surrounding cliches. But last night, in the tenth inning after Patterson popped up a first-pitch bunt and Sosa grounded to short on the first pitch, he said, “I’d like to see them work the count a little bit.”

Tell that to Dusty, Ryno. And while you’re at it, what does your old teammate Gary Matthews, he of the career .361 OBP and 103 BB in 1984, have to say about that? Isn’t he the hitting coach? Is anyone listening to him or is he just playing yes man to Dusty?

Also, the Braves announcers said something funny about their new reliever, Antonio Alfonseca: “He had some problems in Chicago.” Maybe Leo Mazzone figured something out. Maybe he got his sixth finger amputated. Or, maybe while El Pulpo was a Cub they forgot to scout him, making him a complete mystery to Cubs hitters.

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