Archive for April, 2006

Game 11 Preview: Cubs @ Pirates

Sunday, April 16th, 2006
VS
Rusch Name Snell
0-2 W-L 0-0
8.00 ERA 9.00
vs. Pirates Compare vs. Cubs
Stats Career Stats

Scouting Report on Ian Snell
Snell has been knocked around to open the year, lasting just five innings in each of his first two outings. In eight innings of relief against the Cubs in 2005, Snell gave up just one run. (MLB.com)

11-3, 3.70 in 18 starts for Triple-A Indianapolis, 104/23 K/BB in 112 innings. Still a solid strike-throwing, power-pitching prospect. (minorleagueball.com)

Weather Report
Mostly cloudy today with temperatures in the upper 60′s. The interesting thing is that there will be virtually no wind. We’ll see what that does, since the Cubs have been playing every game with the wind blowing out.

Misc. Notes

  • All indications are that Pagan will likely be placed on the DL this morning. Rumors are that David Aardsma or Michael Wuertz would be recalled from Iowa. I’m going on a limb and predicting a 60 day DL for Dopirak which would open a 40 man roster spot for Michael Restovich to be promoted as another OF. Right now, we have Pierre, Murton, and two injured OF in Jones and Mabry. We need another OF rather than another pitcher.
  • Matt Murton currently has the longest hitting streak on the Cubs roster. It stands at 5 games entering today. In that stretch, he’s hitting .474 with and OBP of .500, 1 HR and 6 RBI.
  • Glendon Rusch has a career ERA of 4.20 in 8 games at PNC park (7 starts). His record is 1-2.

Note from Mastrick:
Get out the castor oil Cubs fans, our only hope is that Snell will pitch worse than Rusch. Pittsburgh’s bats should feast on Glendon Rusch today – my guess is that he will get five innings or less. Look for Novoa and Williamson to get some work and perhaps Ohman as well.

Over / Under

5 runs for the Cubs offense today against power pitcher Ian Snell.

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Game 10 Recap: Pirates 2, Cubs 1

Saturday, April 15th, 2006

Go ahead, blame this one on Ronny Cedeno’s error. I dare you!! When you look at the game on the surface, that would be the obvious thing to do. Ronny has been struggling defensively and his error on a throw in the 2nd allowed Craig Wilson to score. However, when you look a little deeper, you can see some other areas that could be blamed in this one. For example, maybe Zach Duke was just that good. He kept the ball in the strike zone all night and the Cubs just couldn’t string together any type of rally all night. Jerome Williams did what he needed to do by giving us a quality start. In the end, we just ran into a hot pitcher and couldn’t overcome it. Look out Ian Snell because the bats are coming out tomorrow.

Game Notes

  • Is it just me or are the Pirates undershirts very ugly? Something about the speckled yellow just doesn’t do much for the look. Why not just go with solid black underneath?
  • Leadoff walks always seem to score, don’t they? Jerome walked the leadoff man in the 2nd and it came back to haunt him.
  • I really wish players would quit the head first slide altogether. It’s dangerous and we certainly can’t afford to lose a guy like Matt Murton because of it.
  • With Pagan going down tonight with what appears to be a leg injury, you have to wonder if the Cubs will be forced to make a roster move tomorrow morning. There aren’t really any OF options on the 40 man roster with Pie being the only one not on the 25 man roster. He’s not ready yet so I look for the Cubs to perhaps call up David Aardsma or Ryan Theriot. Another option would be to place Brian Dopirak on the 60 day DL with his broken foot, which would clear a spot on the 40 man roster for a guy like Michael Restovich who is hitting well in AAA. Here is a summary of his numbers.

    Restovich

    Avg. .290
    HR 1
    RBI 4
    OBP .371
  • Are you tired of seeing Aramis Ramirez and other hitters in baseball stop to admire their hits only to have to go all out just to get the double they should have gotten easily? Just hit the ball and run hard. It’s that simple.
  • I was very frustrated at the fact that Dusty sat Todd Walker tonight after his four hit night last night. I understand his idea that Todd Walker isn’t the best option against lefties, so I decided to check on that idea. I pulled up the three year stats for Walker and Hairston against LH and guess what I found. Todd Walker is hitting .276 with an On Base % of .339. Jerry Hairston is hitting .276 with an OBP of .331. So Todd Walker is actually slightly better than Hairston against the lefties. Can we please just quit this platoon nonsense?

Game 10 Last Year
Carlos Zambrano was terrible and the Cubs lose to Pittsburgh by a score of 8-5. Corey Patterson had his 9 game hitting streak snapped when he made an out as a pinch hitter in the 9th.

2005 Record: 4-6

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Game 10 Preview: Cubs @ Pirates

Saturday, April 15th, 2006
VS
Williams Name Duke
0-0 W-L 0-1
3.60 ERA 6.55
vs. Pirates Compare vs. Cubs
Stats Career Stats

Scouting Report on Zach Duke
After a decent first start, Duke had a rough go of it in his last outing, giving up seven runs in five innings of work. Inevitably, questions will arise on the Bucs’ new coaching staff tinkering with the motion of a pitcher that went 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA in 14 starts last season. In two starts last season against the Cubs, Duke was 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA. (MLB.com))

Misc. Cub Notes & MLB News

  • Sean Casey was placed on the 15 day DL after last nights collision at 1b. Craig Wilson will start in his place at 1b.
  • Wade Miller threw 60 pitches off the mound in Arizona on Friday and could be set to return soon.
  • Mark Prior threw 40 pitches in Arizona and is scheduled for another side session on Monday.

Update from Mastrick:
Michael Wuertz was demoted to Iowa and Roberto Novoa was recalled. I like this move and the timing because it sends a clear message to guys like Williams, Rusch and Ohman. It’s time to get ‘er done boys.

Over / Under
Todays over under has to do with the Pirates. If you have been watching their scores lately, you will know that the Pirates have had a hard time getting more than 5+ innings out of their starting pitcher. With that being said, the over / under today is on Zach Duke. Over or Under a total of 6 innings of work. If you choose over, it simply means he comes out to work the 7th inning, even if no outs are recorded. Good Luck. Leave us your picks.

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Game 9 Recap – Cubs 11, Pirates 6

Saturday, April 15th, 2006

Ahoy! Tis not the Jolly Roger that flies today, but the mighty Cubbie “W” flag. It was an interesting game to say the least, as what looked like a Cubs blowout was turned into a nail biter, and then back to a blowout in the 9th inning.

Game Notes

Sean Marshall looked very good until the 6th inning, when he appeared to tire and couldn’t record an out in that frame.

The Cubs scored 11 runs on 14 hits, none of which were home runs. I’d be interested if anybody out there knows when the last time this happened.

Todd Walker returned to the lineup per Joe’s request and went 4 for 5 with an RBI and 3 runs scored. Matt Murton drove in 3 runs and scored 2 himself.

PNC Park seems to lend itself to triples. Both Murton and Walker had 3 baggers, and neither of them has exceptional speed.

On the bad end of things, Michael Weurtz had another poor outing. He gave up 3 hits, including 2 homers and didn’t retire a hitter. Weurtz needs to get his act in gear if he wants to remain in the majors. Both David Aardsma and Roberto Novoa are pitching extremely well at AAA Iowa.

Williamson, Howry and Dempster all pitched well in slamming the door on the Pirates at the end of the game. Now if we could just get the starting pitchers to go a little deeper into games.

What Happened Last Year?
Mark Prior pitches a gem of a game in the second of a double header to prevent the Padres from sweeping the Cubs. He went 6 innings and didn’t give up a run. The bullpen, led my Michael Wuertz was shaky but Derrek Lee’s 5 RBI were enough to preserve an 8-3 win over Brian Lawrence and the Padres.

2005 Record: 4-5


Notes From Joe

  • Andy Masur had a really nice post about the idiot fans doing a wave at the park. Check it out.
  • Pittsburgh played some tremendous defense. They had at least three plays that could have made web gems.

Finally, this was hysterical. It comes from the onion.

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Game 9 Preview – Cubs @ Pirates (7:05pm EDT)

Friday, April 14th, 2006
VS
Marshall Name Santos
0-0 W-L 1-1
8.31 ERA 4.66
vs. Pirates Compare vs. Cubs
Stats Career Stats

Scouting Report on Victor Santos
Santos is a finesse pitcher with good mechanics and excellent control. Like Wes Obermueller, he pitched exclusively to Gary Bennett and had the best season of his career. The matchup worked well, as Bennett usually calls for a curve on one of the first two pitches, and Santos’ overhand curveball is his best pitch. Santos also throws two- and four-seam fastballs, a slider, split-finger pitch and changeup. In most games, he will use the changeup or the splitter, but not both. Lefthanded hitters tend to hit the ball in the air, while his outs from righthanders come about equally on groundballs and flyballs. (Report Provided By Stats Inc.)

Weather Report
The weather channel is calling for temperatures in the low 70′s with a 30% chance of isolated thunderstorms. Wind will be blowing out to LF around 15 MPH. Let’s hope it’s a rain free night of good Cubs baseball.

Misc. Game Notes

  • Mark Prior is scheduled to throw off the mound today. Word is that if he keeps progressing that he’ll be in the rotation around mid-May and on the DL by early June
  • Kerry Wood will pitch a simulated game on Saturday. If all goes well with that, he’ll be making a rehab assignment around the end of the month.
  • Corey Patterson Watch – “What these guys have to realize is I am not looking for a guy to step in there and have three hits,” Perlozzo said. “You just want to see a guy go in and have some good at-bats. If he lines out three times and he’s 0-for-4, that’s a good sign. But you can’t go out and strike out three times. I still like him. I have high hopes for him.” ~ Sam Perlozzo (Manager)
  • Today is Greg Maddux birthday!!!
  • Here is a blurb about Marshall not being ready for the majors just yet.
  • Here is a good little article about the Cubs youth in the big leagues this year from Baseball Analysts
  • With a win tonight over Pittsburgh, combined with losses by Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Houston the Cubs can take sole possession of first place

Over / Under for the Day
I thought about setting the over under at 6 for the number of times that Tommy fantasizes about Victor Santos in a Cub uniform today, but decided that would be mean. Instead, I am going to set an interesting one today. Over / Under 90 pitches for Sean Marshall today. He was lifted early last game and Dusty insisted that it was because they wanted him to leave with a positive first start. Will he be lifted again today or will he eclipse 90 pitches?

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Happy 40th, Mad Dog!

Friday, April 14th, 2006

Greg

Since World War 2 no pitcher has won more games by the age of 40 than Greg Maddux. Enjoy it, professor. You aren’t flashy or grab headlines like Clemens or Pedro or Randy Johnson. You don’t have a bloody sock like Schilling but you got the meat. You got class. And you got game.

For a brief look Thru Greg’s Eyes the first time he was a Cub, click here!.

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Pirates Primer

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

As we thankfully bid goodbye to the Cincinnati Reds, the Cubs will take their 5-3 record into Pittsburgh. While the Pirates 3-8 record makes them out to be patsies, the Cubs can’t afford to take them lightly. The Pirates boast one of the worst pitching staffs in the National League, where they are 15th in ERA (6.11) and last in batting average against (.315). The problem is, the Pirates actually have a very good offense so far this year, and are 3rd in the NL in runs scored (53) and tied for first in home runs (17, same as those dastardly Reds). This is compounded by the Cubs sending Sean Marshall, Jerome Williams (moved back from Friday) and Glendon Rusch to the mound for the series. While Marshall looked decent in his first start, Rusch has been so bad that Dusty Baker has already had a sit down with him, and Jerome Williams was bad in spring training and has been unimpressive in relief appearances thus far. It doesn’t seemed too far fetched to think that if either Rusch or Williams is beaten badly this weekend, and Angel Guzman and Rich HIll continue their winning ways in AAA that we’ll see the Cubs make a change to their already beaten up rotation. I feel that this will be Rusch’s chance to bounce back, and that the Cubs should take 2 of 3, especially with Aramis Ramirez back in the lineup, since he kills his old team to a tune of .317/.411/.667.

One last note on the Cincinnati series: Carlos Zambrano’s crazy man act isn’t so cute when he allows himself to be driven to distraction. If he wants to be the ace of this team, he’d better get his head on straight, because right now, Greg Maddux is the Cubs no. 1 starter.


BREAKING NEWS

All news outlets are reporting that Barry Bonds is currently the subject of a grand jury investigation into whether he committed perjury while testifying in the BALCO case.

USA Today Article on Bonds

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Game 8 Recap – Reds 8, Cubs 3

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

Some people are going to be complaining about the loss today, but i’d like to take the time to draw your attention to the fact that the homestand was an overall success. When you look at the fact that the Cubs went 4-2 on the short homestand and that includes a three game sweep of the Cardinals, can we really complain? Now, we head to Pittsburgh to face a very frustrated Pirates team. There no reason why we can’t win the series fairly easily.

Game Notes

  • Juan Pierre had a great AB to start the game. He saw 10 pitches from Milton and battled with a good amount of foul balls. Even though he lined out, it’s a refreshing change from last years leadoff situation.
  • Coming into todays game, the Cubs ranked 5th in the NL and 12th in the ML in pitches seen per plate appearance. That is something I like to see.
  • Is it just me or does it seem like Carlos is pressing on the mound? I wonder if he is feeling the burden of being the staff Ace. He has to know that it’s basically him and Mad Dog as the reliable ones. I wonder if his emotions are getting the better of him right now.
  • Can we please stop giving up extra base hits to opposing pitchers? Come on now, this is really getting ridiculous. Today it was a triple to Milton. The pitcher should be the easiest man in the lineup to retire.
  • Keeping on the theme of pitchers, what was up with two separate botched pick off attempts on Eric Milton? Bob Brenly commented on it in anger and frustration. He asked Len if Eric Milton had led the league in stolen bases last year and he somehow missed seeing it. I thought it was a witty was of criticizing the fact that Carlos pitched the entire game with his head up his butt. I am really starting to like Bob Brenly’s color work a lot. He’s not afraid to say how he feels when players make mental mistakes. I like that. Tell the truth and i’ll respect your efforts.
  • Hey Jerry Hairston, great job as the starter. 1 for 5 with 3 K’s and 4 LOB. Thanks for nothing. Bring back my boy Todd.
  • Correction, thank you for a couple plays in the field.
  • Cleanup spot has been golden for the Cubs this year. Ramirez, Barrett and today Murton have all been very good out of that spot in the order.
  • Did anyone get a good look at the guy in the orange Illini shirt on the third base side? He took one right in the chops on a foul ball. His lip was split and fat as a golf ball. Can’t beat fun at the ole ballpark.
  • Jones and Hairston are angry with the MLB offices for their refusal to let them honor Kirby Puckett by wearing a number or a KP on their caps in games. Why are people so anal about this stuff? Just let them wear the cap. It’s not like their are promoting something or being critical of the commissioner. They’re simply honoring the memory of a friend.

Update from Mastrick:
Hey, Carlos Zambrano and I have something in common, we both felt the same way about his performance today. Z Man has got to start learning composure if he’s going to become one of the premier pitchers in the game. His lapse in concentration today cost him the game, no if’s and’s or but’s. Also, when are we going to realize that Ohman and Wuertz are situational pitchers at best or BP pitchers at worst? It’s gonna be hard if we have three pitchers (Ohman, Wuertz and Rusch) we can’t use except in laughers.


Game 8 – LAST YEAR
The Cubs came out after a rainout the day before and looked to rebound from a heartbreaking 1-0 loss two days before by sending Kerry Wood to the mound. Wood, who went 6.2 innings, gave up 5 runs in the first two innings and the Cubs never recovered. Mike Fontenot made his ML debut when he pinch ran and scored in the 9th inning. Corey Patterson went 1-4 with a run and an RBI and continued to hit over .300 out of the leadoff spot. Man, he seems poised for a big year. =)

2005 Record: 3-5

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Game 8 Preview: Reds @ Cubs

Thursday, April 13th, 2006
VS
Zambrano Name Milton
0-0 W-L 1-0
4.22 ERA 2.57
vs. Reds Compare vs. Cubs
Stats Career Stats

Game Notes

  • Look for Jerry Hairston at 2b again today because he has hit Milton well in his career.
  • I look for Zambrano to come out firing again today after his performance the other day.
  • It was refreshing to see Pagan in RF yesterday. He hustles and plays hard. I’d like to see more of him.

Weather Report
An overall nice day to watch a ball game today. It may get a little chilly due to cloudiness. High temperature is slated to be 70 degrees with a light wind blowing out to RF.

Scouting Report by Stats Inc.
While Milton’s talent suggests a No. 2 or 3 starter, he has guts and competes well. With a full year of pitching behind him after missing most of the 2003 season following serious knee surgery, he could be expected to continue to improve. Milton throws a curve, a changeup and a 92-94 MPH fastball that he’ll cut inside to a righthanded hitter. He is an aggressive pitcher who goes after the hitters. Even though he was a flyball pitcher in a park conducive to home runs, he never gave in and never made excuses. In doing so, he earned the respect of his teammates. One scout noted that he has a lot of “quality intangibles.”

Over/Under
Yesterdays over / under was kind of a bomb as there were not many homeruns at all. Today i’m going to set the bar at 7.5 strikeouts for Carlos Zambrano. What do you think? Will he go over or under that total today?

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