Archive for August, 2006

Hey ya gotta like that!

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Carlos Zambrano improved his record to 14-5 today and the erstwhile hapless Cubs took out their frustrations on Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies, besting them 11-2 in a game that was never close. For those of us that have watched the Cubs find a plethora of ways to lose in the past few days it was like a cold beer on a hot summer day. Aramis Ramirez led the onslaught, going 3-5 with 3 RBIs, 2 runs scored and a homerun. Nevin hit a real moonshot in his 3 for 4 effort – somewhere out there a Cubs fan has a lopsided baseball for a souvenir. Angel Pagan and Michael Barrett also contributed round-trippers and Matt Murton had a timely hit and a spectacular grab to contribute as well.

Z Man was in control right from the gitgo – he scattered 6 hits in his seven innings’ work and had one walk to go along with seven strikeouts. Historically Cy Young and MVP candidates tend to come from contending teams but there have been exceptions (notably Greg Maddux and Andre Dawson.) Let’s hope that Z gets his due consideration. Recent callup Jae-kuk Ryu closed out the game with two effective innings of relief. Jal hat da, Jae-kuk! Michael Barrett is now batting .324 with power stats to boot and Juan Pierre has quietly raised his average to .285. Matt Murton is hitting .290 after catching fire about three weeks ago and “The Riot” is now hitting an even .300.

The Cubs now travel to St. Louis to face their favorite whipping boys; they look to avenge a less than spectacular series in Wrigley that saw them lose two out of three. Albert Pujols is now on fire and the Redbirds hold on to a slim lead over the Reds. The Cubs have yet to make a decision on who will start in Sunday’s game, but I’m gonna guess that Dusty will go with Glendon Rusch.

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Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

“I have found it!” Now I’m not as good a mathematician as ol’ Archimedes was but I can put together a few numbers every now and then. Going into tonight’s game the Cubs continued to be dead last in major league baseball in runs scored. Why would that be? Well a big reason has to be the fact that they are 29th in the league in on base percentage. Yet the team is 16th in batting average! How could they be second to last in runners on base when they’re in the middle of the pack in terms of hitting the ball safely? The answer is that they don’t walk – at 2.4 bases on balls per game they are the worst team in the league at taking a free pass.

Now granted, the Cubs are 23rd in homeruns and 27th in doubles so they’re not exactly tearing it up when it comes to hitting for power. But what good are those big hits if there’s nobody on base to score when you hit ’em? This team’s offense reminds me of the hitting approach that was used by it’s manager. I remember Dusty as a Dodger, he was a free swinger, a dead first ball/fastball hitter. The problem with Dusty’s offense that he has a bunch of free-swingers. He encourages his batters to be “aggressive,” which means that they swing at a lot of pitcher’s pitches early in the count. Consequently the opponent’s starter tends to go late into the game because our team doesn’t work the pitch counts.

As a result, the Cubs don’t get to see a lot of relievers except for the eighth inning guys and closers. A lot of people will blame the loss of D Lee for this year’s offense but how much of a difference can one man really make? Barring 60+ steroid-enhanced homeruns that is. Funny how nobody’s hit near that many homeruns recently, must be the baseballs…

Oh, by the way the Cubbies lost their fourth straight. Angel Guzman pitched well, giving up one run on a homerun to Ryan Howard. The Cubs only had five baserunners including one walk. Interesting how that works.

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More of the same

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

Tonight the Cubs lost again in convincing fashion as they were spanked by former Cub Jamie Moyer and the Phils of Philadelphia. Ryan O’Malley was removed from the game early on with what was described as a “strained left elbow.” In Cubs parlance that means he’ll probably require Tommy John surgery and be back in the beginning of 2008. Prior to the game it was announced that Cesar Izturis was moved to the 15 day DL with a hamstring pull and the Cubs called up Buck Coats from AAA. Glendon Rusch showed us that he’s still the biggest booby prize in the league, giving up three runs in two-thirds of an inning. His ERA is now an impressive 7.80 and major league hitters have averaged .311 against Rusch in 2006.

What is it with the Cubs’ fascination with damaged goods? This makes Izturis’ third hamstring injury in less than two years and he’s also lost time due to TJ surgery and back trouble during 2005 and 2006. Does Hendry think that the Cubs have the best medical staff in baseball and that’s why he’s stockpiling all these injured castoffs? I also question the methods the Cubs use to condition their athletes. Do they ever stretch or use the weight machines? Methinks not.

In unrelated news both Tyler Colvin and Mark Pawelek are finishing their seasons in Boise on upswings. Pawelek has got his ERA down to 2.54 and Jeremy Papelbon is having an outstanding first year for the Hawks, going 3-0 with a 1.26 ERA. Sam Fuld has a .378 OBP for Daytona now and Chris Walker has 40 stolen bases for West Tenn. Consequently the Cubs now have bonafide centerfield prospects at the AAA, AA, High A and Short Season A levels.

****** UPDATE ******

Apparently Dusty isn’t the only one on crack. Jim Leyland is now a suspected user? Want to know why?

Find the reason in this link.

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Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

This week we are joined by the Red Hot Mama, who covers the Cincinnati Reds. Her blog can be found at We talked about a good array of topics, including: Boston getting swept by the Yankees, the Tom Glavine injury and Detroit’s attempt to replace Polanco with Neifi Perez.

As you would expect, we talked Reds baseball and played a little word association to close it out at the end.

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Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

Instead of leaving a really long comment (Parting Shots), I decided to make this a separate post. I’ve had some time to do a little soul searching about what I wrote and what you all said in response..

Go ahead and throw out all of the miniscule samples I gave in the post below . Newman is right about the RISP, I inadvertantly looked at the line above. Mea culpa.

What bothered me the most I guess is the piling on of Neifi and not at Baker. Some did say he was misused but in more than one instance then went on and had a smart-ass crack about Neifi.

I grew up a Cubs fan for many reasons but one of those is that I always root for the underdog and Neifi certainly fit that role. When I see piling on it makes me get in that guy’s corner that much more. Maybe it’s a reflection of growing up as the short, fat kid in school. I was the underdog and a couple people stuck up for me.

When I had to run the mile in gym class, I could barely walk it. About 10 minutes into the stroll, sides aching, with another 1/3 mile to go, I saw two kids from class coming towards me. One on my right, the other on my left, they had finished their run and came back to go the distance with me.

There were kids in our school who we were cruel to, did horrible things to. I was too much of a coward then to come to their defense. I am ashamed of that.

Neifi Perez is a decent player when used correctly. So, say that. Blame the manager for batting him second in the order (tho his career splits aren’t any worse in that place than furthur down.) When Nomar went down last year Neifi stepped in and stepped up. How quickly we forget.

I remember writing a post last year entitled “That’s Corey With a “C”. I received similar response for that post as well. That’s OK. I will probably keep on keeping on til Joe throws me off the blog. Call me illogical, unreasonable, unrealistic, stupid, oversensitive, sentimental and naive, I don’t give a rat’s behind because this is who I am and I’m not apologizing for it.

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Stiff competition for “new Neifi” role

Monday, August 21st, 2006

The Cubs have lost three out of the last four games and are back to eighteen games below .500. As the last ember of hope for Dusty’s career in Chicago begins to flicker and darken, Chicago fans are now vexed with a new enigma – who will be the new manager’s favorite that fans will love to hate? Here are some of the prime candidates:

Glendon Rusch: Glendon might possibly be the easiest pitcher to hit in all of baseball. Opposing batters hit .302 last year against Glendon and Cubs GM Jim Hendry rewarded him with a two year contract that will cost the Cubs $3.25 million next year. This year his ERA of 7.44 and WHIP of 1.70 might qualify him as baseball’s worst pitcher. Rusch was reactivated prior to today’s game.

Cesar Izturis: Cubs fans will rapidly grow tired of this guy and his anemic bat. Izturis is a natural rally-killer and has frequent injuries – in the past few years he’s had numerous hamstring pulls, back spasms and his recent Tommy John surgery made him a “must get” for Hendry. Izturis is currently suffering another bout with a bad hammy and will cost the Cubs $4.15 million next year.

John Mabry: I was hoping this guy would be a potent bat off the Cubs bench this year – instead he’s been a semi-frequent starter who can’t hit his way out of a wet paper bag. His .223 batting average underwhelms even the likes of Neifi and Jose Macias; look for Mabry to play next year for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters or the Rakkuten Golden Eagles.

Will Ohman: Here’s the guy you go to when you want to blow a lead and get trash thrown on the warning track in front of the bleachers. His 4.88 ERA doesn’t really tell the story because Ohman specializes in letting inherited baserunners score. Will has seized opportunity by the forelock – he took the uniform number “13” the day after Neifi left. If he comes back to the Cubs next year it’s because he has something on somebody in the Cubs management.

Ryan Dempster: Ryan’s a good guy but his 1-5 record and six blown saves just ain’t gonna cut it for a closer. That’s one out of every five opportunities and we all know there have been some games where he nearly gave the faithful heart attacks before earning a save.

Well that’s my list, feel free to cast your vote in the comments!

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Parting Shots

Monday, August 21st, 2006

The Neifi era is over and the Cubs Blog Army canít resist getting in their last digs on a player who admittedly was no David Ortiz but on many occasions busted his tail with positive results.

nifty neifi

Proud to say one of the more gracious send-offs came from Mastrick, our own lovable curmudgeon, ìI wish Neifi the best of luck, nothing against him, he’s an adequate utility player and he always seemed to have a positive attitude as a Cub.î I think Iím tearing up.

Famine (Jason) from Goat Riders tried to be conciliatory as well, ìIf used properly, Neifi could actually help a contender like Detroit and so everyone should be happy.î But he couldnít help himself with this crack, ìHe could have been traded for a box of Frankenberry cereal and I’d be just as happy.î Some folks just canít resist temptation.

Chuck at Ivy Chat also seems to want to be somewhat mollifying when he writes ìIronically, Neifi is actually a valuable player if used properly.î But alas he canít seem to help himself, either, by adding ìIt sure seems that the injury to Placido Polanco has improved the Cubs for 2007 by getting the Cubs to unload an overused and underqualified player.î Chuck titled his post ìDonít Let The Door Hit You In The Butt On The Way Out.î Nice.

ìI find it somewhat remarkable that Hendry was able to convince another team that Perez had enough value to trade for,î so says our friend at Not too assuaging, if you ask me.

Baseball Toasterís Derek, one of the better writers in the CBA, chimes in lock-step with this little nuggett. ìthe disturbingly overvalued Neifi! was sent to, of all places, Detroit, for A-ball catcher, Chris Robinson. That Perez was dealt at all is surprising enough, but that he brought back someone who could conceivably see time in the Majors within the next five years, and perhaps even be of some use, is nothing short of miraculous.î ìDisturbingly?î I am disturbed by the decline of moral values and political unrest in the world. Neifiís contract doesnít even register in the top 100 with me.

But no one has been more vicious than Rob from The Cub Reporter. He undoubtedly had to change his trousers when he heard the news. In his ìChristmas in Julyî post he gushes ìAs for Neifi, donít let the door hit you on the way out. Good riddance! I really donít want to spend another moment on his worthlessness. Good luck Tigers, youíll need it.î

Oh I donít know, Rob. Seems to me the Cubs need a guy who hits over .300 with runners in scoring position (The Cubs are only hitting .255 in these situations). Add in Neifiís night-time average of .320 (Cubs .263) and his average in June-July was also over .300 so where do you get off excoriating Neifi Perez?

Well, who will the next whipping boy be? Corey is history, Hawkins is gone, Macias is but a memory. Ah, yes. Mabry. My guess is John Mabry.

Let the mudflinging commence.

As for me, my World Series Dream Series is set. Dodgers and Tigers. Maddux and Neifi. I’m ready for October.

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Taking away Dusty’s toys

Sunday, August 20th, 2006

Well the Cubs lost today to their arch rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. So what? The big news is that perennial Dusty favorite NEIFI PEREZ WAS TRADED TO DETROIT! I wish Neifi the best of luck, nothing against him, he’s an adequate utility player and he always seemed to have a positive attitude as a Cub.

It’s not Neifi’s fault that Dusty treated him like the second coming of the Messiah. It’s not his fault that Dusty over-used him and put him in a position to fall flat on his face – he never was a top of the order guy after all. Like Holly and Latroy, Neifi was simply a teacher’s pet and thus had no standing whatsoever with the fans. He was also overpaid by a GM that appears to be more and more henpecked as the days go on.

Perhaps this move signals a willingness on Hendry’s part to atone for his serious errors. Maybe he will jettison Glendon Rusch and make plans for new starters to take Prior and Wood’s places next year. Who knows, he might even surprise us and snag Carlos Lee in the offseason. One can only hope…

For what it’s worth, the catcher the Cubs got for Neifi is a former third round pick with two years of organized baseball under his belt. The Cubs saw him plenty in the Florida State League where he competed against the Daytona Cubs and batted .288. He’s rated highly as a defensive catcher and is a former Illini.

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Web Gems

Sunday, August 20th, 2006

One of the vital moments of the game on Saturday was the breathtaking catch by my guy Juan Pierre, up against the ivy, make that high off the ivy late with bases jammed with redbirds and Sir Albert launching the ball.


The catch was so worthy, ESPN bobble heads made it the # 1 Web Gem of the night. This isn’t that catch but it’s the only one I can find of JP making a defensive play of like caliber. Just imagine him in Cubby Blue and the wall covered with ivy and it’s close enough.

Speaking of web gems, Baseball Tonight showed their top three web gems of all time – by a player in a Cub uniform. (They are showing a different team every night) Immediately they admitted that no good film was available for Tinkers or Evers or Chance so they decided instead to list the top three they have video for.

But Juan’s catch yesterday was also very special.

That’s my guy!!

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