Archive for April, 2006

Game 15: Cubs @ Cardinals

Friday, April 21st, 2006
Starting Pitchers
    Record ERA WHIP Last Start Compare
Williams 0-1 2.45 1.64 L Splits
Mulder 1-0 4.05 1.25 ND Splits
Game Information
Game Time Television 2006 Cubs 2006 Cardinals Series
8:10 EDT WGN 9-5 9-6 Cubs 3-0

Scouting Report on Mark Mulder
Mulder needed 99 pitches to get through five innings in his last start against Cincinnati. He was touched for 10 hits and four runs, including back-to-back homers by Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns. Mulder will be looking to get more decisions early in the count as he looks for a longer and more productive outing against the Cubs. (MLB.com)

Because Mulder works with a delivery that is so smooth, it must be alarming for opposing hitters to see a moving 93-MPH fastball come tearing out of all that poetry. Mulder also has a curve, slider and changeup. Add in his height and a deceptive delivery that keeps hitters guessing until the last minute, and the aggregate is success. While injuries have put him on the disabled list for two months over his career, he never has pitched less than 150 innings a season as a major leaguer, and has topped 200 innings three times.

Mulder is a groundball pitcher who is a terrific defender. In 2004, he handled an amazing 60 chances and registered 51 assists, both extraordinary totals. He did make three errors, but he also initiated three double plays. Needless to say, he covers a lot of ground around the hill. He also holds runners fairly well, limiting basestealers to a 50-percent success rate in recent seasons. (Fox Sports)

Weather

Temperature: 71o
Wind: 7 mph out to RF

Game Notes

  • Derrek Lee will be out 8-10 weeks with a broken wrist.
  • This will be the Cubs first trip to new Busch Stadium.
  • Michael Restovich will be called up from Triple A Iowa.

Over / Under
Today’s over under is 5 innings of work for Jerome Williams against a tough Cardinals lineup that includes a beast of a man, Albert Pujols.

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So what do we do now?

Thursday, April 20th, 2006

According to the Chicago Tribune, Derrek Lee will be out 2-3 months. He suffered two fractures, one each of the distal radial and ulnar bones and will be put in a cast. The Cubs are expected to announce a minor league callup on Friday.

So what do you do? Do you bring up Sing or Restovich? Do you go to Boston and acquire Hee-seop Choi or get another guy of that calibre? Do you try to make do with Walker and Mabry at first? How about moving Murton to first and bringing Pie up to play left? IMO “making do” with Walker and Mabry is not an option – I think Hendry has to make a move. When Lee gets back I’m sure we can use the extra bat, I’m not sold on Freddie Bynum anyway.

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Game 14: Which Flag Do We Fly?

Thursday, April 20th, 2006

BOX SCORE – Sure, that win flag is flapping in this post, but I seriously debated flying both the win and the loss flag for obvious reasons. The Cubs mad a good comeback in the 8th inning last night but lost not only Derrek Lee, but also Scott Eyre on the same play. Lee had some X-Rays done but they seem to be inconclusive. Hopefully we’ll get a good report later today sometime. As for Eyre, he’ll take a few days off, which he should do anyway since he’s been pitching a lot and recover. These injuries couldn’t come at a worse time though. The team is playing well and the Cubs are traveling to St. Louis to face a team that is steaming from the Cubs sweep earlier in the year.

Here are some positives:

  • Ryan Dempster has now saved 23 straight and has not allowed a run in 31 and 1/3 innings. That’s a pretty wicked streak he has going.
  • Finally the west coast games are done. I fell asleep during a good part of last nights game so that would explain why my post is so short.
  • Sean Marshall is pitching OK, but he keeps teasing us with this over / under crap. 89 pitches, 86 pitches, for crying out loud Dusty let him throw like 5 more pitches.

I’ll end this post with a happy picture of my son who is now a little more than 3 months old.

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Game 14 Preview

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006
Starting Pitchers
    Record ERA WHIP Last Start Compare
Marshall 1-0 7.71 1.18 W No Data
Penny 2-0 1.50 0.67 ND Splits
Game Information
Game Time Television 2006 Cubs 2006 Dodgers Series
10:10 EDT Comcast 8-5 7-8 Tied 1-1

Scouting Report on Brad Penny
Penny may be the most consistent starter out the gate for the Dodgers this season, giving up just one run apiece in each of his first two outings. He’s struck out 14 and walked just one batter over his first two starts, and went seven innings in his last start at Philadelphia on April 9. (MLB.com)

Penny is pure power, relying mostly on a four-seam fastball that registers regularly in the mid-90s. He also throws a sinking two-seamer in the 92-MPH range and a power curveball that buckles knees. A changeup was rumored, but it never appeared in Chavez Ravine. His command has improved as he has matured, and when Penny is painting the black with his fastball, opposing hitters are in for a long day. He does not appear to be in the best of shape, however, so he can wear down as his pitch count rises.

Penny does not get off the mound very well and can get a bit flustered on the tougher plays. His move is poor, and he takes a while to unleash the pitch. After banging out four extra-base hits for Florida the previous season, Penny went just 3-for-51 last year, but he looks relatively comfortable with a bat in his hands. However, he laid down just one successful sacrifice all year. (Fox Sports)

Weather Report

Temperature: 72o
Wind: Calm

Misc. Notes

  • Baker says it’s time to extend Maddux contract
  • Mark Pawelek, the Cubs top draft pick in 2005 is set to start his season in Peoria. That is a great thing to go see if you get a chance.
  • The Cubs rank 16th in the NL in team walks with 33. Cincinnati leads the NL with 69.
  • On a positive, the Cubs rank 5th in pitches seen per plate appearance with 4 out of the top 5 teams coming from the NL Central.
  • The Cubs pitching staff owns the 2nd best ERA in the NL behind the NY Mets
  • Juan Pierre and Aramis Ramirez have hit well against Penny. Todd Walker has not. Since he “struggled” last night, watch out for a Jerry Hairston sighting today at 2b.

Farm Report

  • Eric Patterson – Went 2 for 5 and is hitting .348 in AA

  • Scott Moore – Went 3 for 4 with a double and is hitting .302 in AA
  • Sean Gallagher – Went 7 innings giving up 3 hits and 1 ER while striking out 10 in High A

Over / Under

90 pitches for Sean Marshall again

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Game 13 – Unlucky Number for the Cubs

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

Box Score – It’s always tough to lose, but even tougher to lose like that. This game was right there for us to take and for one of the first times all year, we failed to take advantage of it. You can stand around at the water cooler today and blame Dusty Baker for bringing in Will Ohman in the 9th, but when you really get down to it, what other options did he really have? When you look at the pen last night, you see that the options were limited. The other option may have been to go with Scott Williamson, but with Lofton and Drew both hitting from the left side, Ohman was the logical choice. You can’t bash Ohman and say he’s trash when last year everyone was on the Ohman bandwagon. Give him some time to figure things out and I would bet you any money, he’ll get that ERA down where it needs to be by seasons end. Then, he’ll be big for us when we need him in October. Be patient with him and trust.

Derek Lowe was dealing tonight and the Cubs just could not touch him. If you want to blame someone for this loss, blame Lowe who was just awesome tonight. I don’t have much other than that to say. It’s a tough loss and we’ll come out better tomorrow night hopefully. I’ll be glad when this series is over so I don’t have to stay up so late.

Game Notes

  • Why would Derrek Lee’s grandparents name their son Leon? Derrek’s dad is named Leon and it just doesn’t sound right. Leon Lee sounds like a gay porn film if you ask me.
  • Is it just me or was it really annoying listening to the strikeout song they played each time a Dodger pitcher recorded a K. I’ve never been more sick of Queen in my entire life.
  • I was taking a look at David Aardsma on the Cubs website and noticed his player picture. This guy looks like he’s tripped out of acid or something. If i’m a hitter and I look out to the mound and see a guy making a facial expression like that, i’m ducking out of the way of every pitch because there is a very good chance he may be criminally insane.

Random Dose of Funny

I ran across this video cartoon short featuring GW Bush, K-Fed and Brittany Spears and My Space. It’s work looking at. It has to do with the fact that Bush is not popular with the people right now and decides to change that with the advice of Kevin Federline by getting a My Space page on the internet.

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Game 13 Preview: Cubs @ Dodgers

Tuesday, April 18th, 2006
Starting Pitchers
    Record ERA WHIP Last Start Compare
Zambrano 0-1 4.86 1.62 L Splits
Lowe 1-1 5.82 1.53 W Splits
Game Information
Game Time Television 2006 Cubs 2006 Dodgers Series
10:10 EDT WGN 8-4 6-8 Cubs 1-0

Scouting Report on Derek Lowe
Lowe enjoyed the support of 13 runs against the Pirates, although he also let a 2-0 lead get away and allowed another home run. Lowe pitched six innings, barely more than the Dodger average this year, and he continues to be haunted by the home run ball, which was not in his vocabulary during his best Boston years. (MLB.com)

Lowe is known for his sinker, which he throws most of the time. When it’s on, it is a thing of beauty. He can vary the speed of it through the 80s, and hitters usually beat it into the ground or miss it entirely. Lowe also throws effective sliders and curves to complement his primary offering. Whatever he throws, he almost always keeps the ball down. Lowe produces roughly three times as many groundballs as flyballs, making his success as dependent on his infield defense as any pitcher in the game. Last season, one defensive miscue behind him often snowballed into a big inning, leading to questions about his mental makeup.

With Lowe inducing so many groundballs, he’s had more than 60 total chances in each of the last two seasons. Although Lowe is generally a reliable fielder, he committed three errors in 2004. Lowe is slow to the plate, and his pickoff move is average at best. As a result, stolen bases against him have become a major problem. He allowed a major league-high 34 steals last season, while only two runners were caught. (Fox Sports)

Weather Report

Temperature:71 degrees
Wind: Blowing in at 3 mph

Misc. Notes

  • Carlos Zambrano has pitched 17 2/3 innings in Dodger stadium and has never allowed an earned run. He also has 22 K’s in that time.
  • The Daily Herald is reporting that if Wood feels OK today after his bullpen session last night, the next step will be to work a 3 inning session in rookie ball on Thursday.
  • Mark Prior is scheduled to pitch batting practice on Friday.
  • Barry Rozner has an article in the Herald today about how Girardi was born to manage the Cubs.
  • Len and Bob have started a podcast once a week. Here is their first one.

Farm Report – 4/17/06

  • Felix Pie (AAA) – 2 for 3 and is hitting .348 on the year
  • Ryan Theriot (AAA) – 3 for 5 with an RBI, a run, and a SB. He’s hitting .318 on the year.
  • Eric Patterson (AA) – 2 for 5 with a run scored and a SB (6 on the year). He’s hitting .341 for the season.

Over / Under
Until Carlos starts pitching the way he should, i’m setting the over under for today at 6 innings of work for Big Z.

Note from Mastrick:
Speaking of Z’s, former Cub and Japanese superstar Julio Zuleta was involved in a mound-charging incident during the game between Zuleta’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. Last year Zuleta was hit seventeen times, three of which occurred against the Ham Fighters.

Note from Chris
This seems like an opportune moment to point out that ex-Cub utility man (and whipping boy) Jose Macias plays for the Nippon Ham Fighters.

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Game 12 Recap: Cubs 4 Dodgers 1

Monday, April 17th, 2006

Every once in awhile, you get a chance to watch a game that is just such a delight to watch. Tonight, with Maddux on the hill, it was exactly that type of game. It was a retro Maddux and he lived up to his professor nickname tonight as he totally schooled the Dodger lineup. At one point late in the 7th, Vin Scully actually said about the Dodgers lineup “Hand em all diplomas. They’re all graduating tonight.” There is nothing better than the Greg Maddux school of pitching and tonight was a clinic.

Box Score

Game Notes

  • I was a little disappointed when we were given the Dodger’s feed of the game because that means it’s a one man booth with Scully. Last year I was very critical of the Hall of Fame broadcaster and I have finally figured out what I don’t like about him. It’s not his play calling that i’m opposed to. It’s the fact that without a color guy to help take some of the talk time from Scully, it’s all play by play. Sometimes he feels the need to be my eyes, when he is not there for that. I do love his stories though. Sometimes he comes up with the strangest things to talk about, all without missing a pitch. Overall, I think i’d enjoy him much more if he had someone alongside him. I guess when you make 3 million a year, it’s hard to afford anyone to put next to you.
  • As Chris mentioned in the comment section of the preview thread, the Cubs half of the 5th inning was a thing of baseball purity. Murton led off with a walk, then Cedeno went with the pitch on a hit and run and took it to RF instead of trying to pull the ball, which got Murton to third. Maddux comes to the plate and bloops a single in there to make up for his failed bunt in the 3rd. Pierre does his job and singles home Murton and then Walker hits a nice Sac Fly. The Cubs come away with 3 runs which proved to be the difference in the ballgame.
  • Todd Walker hit his 100th career HR in the 1st inning and played a tremendous game all around. He played extremely well in the field. All night he was ranging far to his right and making perfect off balance throws to first base. Can we please let the debate rest now? Maybe, just maybe Walker isn’t as bad as people say he is in the field.
  • The Cubs are playing Hit and Run often this year and I love it. It’s like a whole different managing style that Dusty has this year. His lineups are making sense and his in game strategies, aside from an occasional weird double switch actually seem dead on. I’ve always been on the fence about Baker, but he’s slowly starting to earn some of my respect.
  • Fox Sports had a nice little feature that flashed on the screen a few times. It was a scrolling lineup ticker that showed what each batter had done to that point in the game. It would be very useful for someone other than me that wasn’t a nerd and keeping score during the game while watching a home. Another nice little thing was the end of inning scoreboard. It showed the usual Runs/Hits/Errors, but it also added a column for Left on Base. Not a bad idea. WGN are you reading this?
  • Going back to Greg Maddux for a second, this was the first time since 1994 that he has opened the year winning his first three starts. A big reason for his success over the years is his managing of the count. He went ahead 0-2 on seven hitters tonight. He limits his pitches and gets hitters swinging at his pitches. I really hope the rest of our staff learns more from him before it’s time for him to hang it up. When that time comes, I REALLY hope the Cubs offer him the pitching coach position. Any team would be so much better off with him in that role.
  • Did you see the line drive that Derrek Lee hit in the 8th? If Osoria doesn’t flinch and get a glove off, he could have been seriously injured. The ball would have caught him square in the face and could have potentially knocked him out cold or even worse killed him. Who knows. I’m just thankful he caught it.
  • It’s always nice when the west coast games are quickies. This one lasted 1 hour and 59 minutes. When you’re watching on the east coast, like I am, you’re not all that excited about the idea of a game going till 1am and then having to get a meaningful recap up before 2am. Hopefully game two and three have a similar pace to this one.
  • Ryan Dempster has looked lights out so far this year. Hopefully all the naysayers who criticized the signing of him as the closer will shut their mouths.
  • Angel Pagan is expected to miss four to six weeks. They found a partially torn tendon in his hamstring so Pagan will sit awhile. It’s a tough break for a kid who has been playing very hard for his chance.

What Happened Last Year?
Greg Maddux got the start against Pittsburgh and went six innings giving up just two runs on five hits. Unfortunately the Cubs offense didn’t get enough runs early and Mad Dog got a no decision. The Cubs ended up winning by a score of 4-2.

Star of the Game: Derrek Lee (3 for 4 with 3 RBI)

2005 Record: 6-6

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Game 12 Preview: Cubs @ Dodgers

Monday, April 17th, 2006
Starting Pitchers
    Record ERA WHIP Last Start Compare
Maddux 2-0 1.46 0.89 W Stats
Tomko 1-0 6.55 1.73 ND Stats

Ah, a fresh new look to the pitching probables table. Let me know if you like this better. Also, if there is something else you’d like to see each game to help you in your effort to get ready, please don’t hesitate to let me know and I’ll see what I can do. On the new table, the link to the players name takes you to their ESPN page where you can view their career stats, salary, and a host of other info. The compare link takes you to how that pitcher has fared against the opposing team in his career. Enjoy.

Scouting Report on Brett Tomko
Given a 3-0 lead after three innings in Pittsburgh, Tomko allowed three home runs and lasted only five innings. Not what the Dodgers were hoping for when they signed him to pick up Jeff Weaver’s innings. He’s already allowed five home runs in 11 innings compared to 20 last year in 190 2/3 innings. ~ MLB.com

With an explosive fastball, slider, changeup and curveball, Tomko was the team’s best pitcher the final two months of the season, with all due respect to Schmidt. Tomko was awful in April, however, and was booed several times after leaving games at SBC Park. He really didn’t get his act together until returning from a short stint on the disabled list after injuring his right elbow. He went 10-3 the rest of the season. Several teams have longed for Tomko to put it all together, but he bounced from team to team each season, with the Giants being his fourth stop in four years.

Tomko isn’t considered a good fielder or hitter. He has cut down on giving up homers and induces more groundballs, allowing him to make more plays in the field, but he committed a pair of errors last season. He can be run on, though he has worked on a slide step. Last season he hit .113 with no RBI. He did have 13 sacrifice bunts, tying Jason Schmidt for the team lead among pitchers. ~ Fox Sports

Game Notes

  • David Aardsma is wearing number 54
  • The Cubs bullpen has an ERA of 3.11 and is 2nd in the majors in that category. What a difference a year makes.
  • The Cubs lead the National League with a .313 batting average with runners on base.
  • Todd Walker is one HR away from 100 for his career
  • Greg Maddux is 5-5 lifetime at Dodger stadium with a 3.36 ERA in 14 starts.
  • John Mabry is available to pinch hit in tonight’s game.
  • Jacque Jones will get the start in RF tonight. It will be the first start since injuring his hamstring almost a week ago.
  • Jerry Hairston Jr. is currently on a 6 game hitting streak.
  • Dusty Baker and the rest of the 1981 Dodgers will be honored in a ceremony tonight before the game.
  • ESPN is reporting that Kerry Wood will join the Cubs for a bullpen session tonight in LA. It’s uncertain if he’ll make a rehab start or two before returning to the rotation hopefully before the end of the month.
  • Tim Kurkjian has a good article denoting the secret to Maddux success.

Farm Notes

  • Eric Patterson went 4 for 5 yesterday with 3 runs scored and 1 RBI on two singles, a double, and a triple. He’s hitting .333 on the year in AA.
  • Chris Kelly (1b) went 3 for 4 with two HR in High A ball
  • Ryan Norwood (DH) went 4 for 4 with two RBI and a run scored in Low A ball.

Over / Under
With Brett Tomko being a pitcher who can be ran on, I’m setting the over under today at 3.5 steals against the Dodgers in todays contest.

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Game 11 Recap: Cubs 7, Pirates 3

Sunday, April 16th, 2006

I told you the bats would come out today. No matter how much people want to put this team down and be pessimistic, this baseball team is not bad. They have a legit chance at winning this division. Granted we’re playing 2 of the worst teams in the division, but we’re also without 2 of our top three starting pitchers. I think the two balance themselves out. I’ve been high on this team from the beginning and it will be that way all the way to October.

Box Score

Game Notes

  • The Cubs decided to go with David Aardsma instead of an OF to replace Pagan. That move coupled with the Jones pinch hit in the 9th leads me to believe Jacque is feeling better. Word out of Cubs camp is that he’ll be in the lineup Monday night in LA. For you Pie backers, hold your horses. The kid is not ready yet. Give him this season to finish polishing his game a little.
  • Todd Walker hit a HR today. Can we please put the platoon talk away?
  • Admit it, you never would have thought Glendon Rusch was capable of giving us a quality start. He’s not great, but it’s safe to say that he can be OK at times. Right now, he’s all we’ve got.
  • In the 1st inning, the Cubs did exactly what I would love to see them do every 1st inning. Pierre led off with a single. He stole a base, and then our 4th hitter, Ramirez, knocked him in. If he can get on an steal, there is no reason for us not to score that inning. We’d have 3 hitters who would only need a single.
  • I’m not sure if anyone was watching the Pirates broadcast of the game. I happened to because that was the feed on Extra Innings. During the game, they interviewed a Cub fan who caught two HR in the game today. One was Ramirez shot in the 6th. The other was Craig Wilson’s blast in the 6th. He promptly threw the Wilson HR back. That a boy!!!
  • The announcer for the Pirates went into an angry tirade after hearing the fan threw the Pirate baseball back. He went on and on about how he hated Wrigley Field and how he thought their traditions were stupid. It’s sad how you’ll talk about anything to keep the viewers of a bad baseball team from changing the channel. Have fun announcing your loser buccos all year you schmuck!!!
  • Rich Hill is pitching nicely down in AAA Iowa. He has a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings of work with a 16/1 K/BB ratio. It’s a shame AAA isn’t the majors. Hopefully Hill can transcend that success to the major league level sometime real soon. It sure would be nice to have the next Barry Zito on our staff.

Game 11 Last Year
The first paragraph of the write up for this game read “The Chicago Cubs have waited nearly two weeks for that one big hit or rally to jump start a slow-starting season. Maybe these two hits will do it.” Um, NO!!! The Cubs did play well against the Pirates in this game though and get the win by a score of 4-3.

Star of the Game – Ramirez (1-4 with 3 RBI)

2005 Record: 5-6

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