Archive for April, 2006

Game 16: Stay the Course

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

BOX SCORE – The choice is up to you right now. You can either jump ship in April or stay the course and understand that this team is not that bad. If you decide to jump ship, good riddance. We don’t need you. If you’re staying the course, let me give you the top 5 reasons why this team is good enough to overcome this injury to Derrek Lee.

  1. We have 3 pitchers coming back – Now before you rant and rave about the fact that we can’t put all of our eggs in the Mark Prior and Kerry Wood basket, let me remind you that there are THREE pitchers on the DL. Even if one of them hits the shelf again, which would probably be Wood, that would leave two pitchers for less than a full year of work. Getting those guys back would help immensely.
  2. Ramirez hasn’t hit yet – We have been playing reasonably good baseball so far this season and it has been without the aid of Ramirez bat. He has hit under .200 so far. When his bat comes alive, that makes up for some offense we’re currently missing. When you look at the season to this point, we have gotten production from 1 of 2 of our sluggers, Derrek Lee. Once Ramirez gets hot, we’ll again get production from 1 of 2 of our sluggers. That would put us right where we have been to this point.
  3. The Lineup still isn’t that bad – When you look at the lineup as a whole, it really is much improved from last season. With Hairston in the lineup at 2b on days that Walker plays first, the lineup is a much more patient and speedy. Pierre came into the game one steal behind Ryan Freel the Reds pest of a leadoff man for the NL stolen base lead. Hairston can draw a walk out of the 2nd spot. Walker can drive in runs and hit with a little power. Ramirez is an all star. Murton is a great hitter that is only going to get better. Cedeno is hitting great so far this season, just like he did all off-season. Barrett is one of the top hitting catchers in the majors and that only leaves Jacque Jones, who very well could come around to the form he was in when he played for the Twins. The lineup is much improved and people need to understand that. It’s just a matter of learning to play scrappy smallball while Lee is out.
  4. The Bullpen is solid – The Cubs came into the game today with an ERA of 3.12, which is 3rd in the majors. If the starters can simply give us 6 or 7 innings, the pen can carry the load when needed.
  5. The Injury is NOT season ending – Keep in mind that when mid July hits, Derrek Lee comes back to the lineup. With the wild card in place in baseball now, no team unless they are the Royals are ever out of the race in July. If the Cubs can stay afloat by playing slightly above .500 ball, they will get a huge player back in mid-July and be poised for a run at the wild card or maybe even the division.

The choice is yours. My advice? Stay the course and understand that it won’t be as bad as people think.

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Game 16 Preview

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006
Starting Pitchers
    Record ERA WHIP Last Start Compare
Rusch 1-2 6.60 1.33 W Splits
Ponson 1-0 3.97 1.15 W Splits
Game Information
Game Time Television 2006 Cubs 2006 Cardinals Series
2:15 EDT Comcast 9-6 10-6 Cubs 3-1

Scouting Report on Sidney Ponson
So far, so good for Ponson as he attempts to rejuvenate his career with the Cardinals. Ponson wasn’t pleased with his mechanics, but delivered 6 1/3 innings and limited Cincinnati to two runs in his last start. Ponson’s big goal in his next start is to consistently get ahead in the count. That was something he failed to do against the Reds. (MLB.com)

When Ponson is pitching well, his fastball can reach 92-94 MPH, but he often works in the 90-92 range. One reason for the drop in velocity is a lack of conditioning that also affects his stamina. The key to his 2003 success was an improved slider. When he’s able to throw a sharp slider with good command, it helps set up his other pitches. He’s not afraid to throw inside to keep hitters off the plate. Ponson used to throw an average forkball, but recent elbow and shoulder woes have forced him to abandon the pitch. Without the forkball and the velocity he once had, he needs to keep the ball down in the strike zone to stay out of trouble. Poor control and pitches high in the zone were a problem in 2004.

Due to his large frame, Ponson is slow getting off the mound to field his position. When he reaches slow rollers in front of him, he handles them without problems. He is average in getting over to first base when the ball is hit to the first baseman. His move to first is deliberate and barely keeps hitters honest. (Fox Sports)

Weather Report

Temperature: 73o
Wind: 10 mph out to LF

Over / Under
Today’s over under is 3 HR given up by Rusch in his outing this afternoon.

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Nothing to see here…Cards 9, Cubs 3

Friday, April 21st, 2006

BOX SCORE – This is supposed to be the wrapup for tonight’s game. But instead of depressing you with the gory details, we’re going to ignore this one. There was no game tonight. The Cubs didn’t get beat 9-3. Jerome Williams wasn’t lifted in the 2nd inning after giving up 7 runs. None of it happened. Instead, we’re going to start the post-Derrek Lee Wrist Injury Era tomorrow, with Greg Maddux on the mound, and see how it goes from there. Who’s with me?

In all seriousness, it’s hard to take anything from tonight’s game, other than Jerome Williams may be quickly pitching his way back to Iowa. The Cubs looked a bit flat in their first game after D-Lee’s injury, but it didn’t help that Williams wet the bed, unable to get more than 4 outs in his start. The only real bright spot came from Michael Barrett, who went 3 for 4 with a homer and 3 RBI.

Cubs News:
There was good news and bad news on the injury front, as Mark Prior pitched to live batters but Kerry Wood felt tightness in his side while warming up, and thus was unable to pitch in his scheduled simulated game.

Wade Miller was placed on the 60 DL yesterday to make room on the 40 man roster for Michael Restovich. It would appear that our pitching reinforcements are a bit futher off than we had hoped.

Man, this isn’t making me feel any better. Let’s just get ’em tomorrow.

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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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