Archive for April, 2007

Game 24 – Good teams find ways to win

Monday, April 30th, 2007


April 30th, 2007

Teams

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chicago 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 9 0
Pittsburgh 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 X   3 7 1
W -  M. Capps (2-0)   L - M. Wuertz (0-1)  S – S. Torres (8)
Homeruns: J. Bay (4)

Box Score


Micheal Wuertz walks off after giving up a homerun to Jason Bay
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

That does not describe the 2007 Chicago Cubs, at least yet any way. This team continues to find new and innovative ways to lose, they are now 0-3 in extra innings games and 0-5 in one run games. I seriously question this team’s competitiveness and desire to win; guys like Ramirez and Lee can put up individual stats but they seem to lack leadership abilities. There appears to be no burning desire to win with this Cubs team, perhaps Piniella can light a fire under this team’s laid back mellow sympatiqouise and get them to GIVE A !@#$!

Tomorrow the Cubs will begin May already 5 1/2 games behind; I’m sorry but I don’t think this team has what it takes, Milwaukee will leave them in the dust yet again. It won’t be because of talent, it will be because of heart. Or lack thereof.

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Game 24 – Open Thread

Monday, April 30th, 2007

Scouting Report on todays starters from MLB.com
Rich Hill – Hill sustained his first loss in his last start against the Brewers. The lefty entered the game with the best ERA in the NL but Prince Fielder hit a two-run homer off him for more runs in one swing than Hill had given up in 25 previous innings. Hill struck out five. “He’s been dominant,” Milwaukee’s Kevin Mench said of Hill.

Zach Duke – Coming off two consecutive subpar outings, Duke surrendered just one run on six hits and one walk to receive a no-decision on Wednesday against the Astros. He threw 106 pitches, 69 for strikes. Duke’s 4-1 with a 1.40 ERA in six starts against the Cubs in his career.

View the Cubs career numbers vs. Zach Duke – ESPN Splits


Notable Performances From Down On The Farm

Geovany Soto (AAA) 5-5, 2(2B), 2RBI, (.326avg)
Donald Veal (AA) 6IP, 3ER, 3H, 2BB, 9K, (8.86ERA)
Tyler Colvin (High-A) 2-4, 2B, R, (.314avg)
Jeff Samardzija (High-A) 5.1IP, 2ER, 10H, 2BB, 3K, (2.45ERA)
Russ Canzler (Low-A) 3-4, HR, 2RBI, R, CS, (.254avg)

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Cubs @ Cardinals – Postponed

Sunday, April 29th, 2007


(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

Josh Hancock
1978 – 2007

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Game 23 – Bring on the Brooms?

Saturday, April 28th, 2007


April 28th, 2007

Teams

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chicago 0 0 0 0 7 0 1 0 0 8 11 0
St. Louis 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   1 7 0
W -  C. Zambrano (2-2)   L - A. Wainwright (1-2)  S – None
Homeruns: A. Pujols (6)

Box Score


(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

Well it appears that this team is beginning to click. I won’t go as far as to say that all the issues are solved, because they’re not. We still have too many rightfielders and haven’t figured out what to do at short. Regardless, things are starting to turn toward the bright side for the Cubs as they have a chance to sweep the Cards in their own park tomorrow. The Cubs haven’t played well through the years at Busch Stadium, so to come out of this series with two wins and a chance for three is more than acceptable.

Carlos Zambrano
Finally we see the Zambrano we’re used to seeing. He got out of the 5th inning unscathed and only gave up one run overall in seven innings of work. Coming into the game today, Carlos had a 5th inning ERA of 22.50, which is a big explanation of his lack of success. He’s pitched fairly well early, but just seems to fall apart before it’s time to pick up a win. Hopefully now that the calender is about to change, so will the luck of Carlos Zambrano. We need him badly if we’re going to begin to climb the standing toward the top. Today was a step in the right direction, but even late in the game with a 7-0 lead he was nibbling around the plate. With a lead like that, he has to be aggressive and go right at hitters.

Jacque Jones
Jones just missed the cycle today. He had two deep extra base hits and a single, but just couldn’t score that homerun in his final at bat. It would have been nice to see him get the cycle, but even without it, he had a good day and made a case for playing centerfield with a nice catch in the first on a rocket hit by Albert Pujols. He went back nicely on the ball and leaped to keep it from going over his head. Maybe that will help the people who are anti-Jones to relax a little. He’s the left-handed bat we need in this lineup.

I don’t have much else today because of the fact that I wasn’t able to watch the game live. I had to watch it archived on the computer and my attention isn’t as good when I watch that way. Stupid national blackout rules.

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Game 23 – Open Thread

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

Scouting Report on todays starters from MLB.com
Carlos Zambrano – Zambrano did not get a decision in his last start, a 5-4, 12-inning loss to the Brewers. Big Z hasn’t been as sharp as last season. Maybe he just needs time to warm up. He has struck out 23 in 27 1/3 innings, but has also walked 19 this season. Against Milwaukee, he threw 103 pitches in 5 1/3 innings, and he needs to get that under control if he’s going to go deep in games.

Adam Wainwright – Two starts may not a slump make, but there’s no doubt Wainwright is frustrated after a couple of subpar games. He’s done some things very well in his four Major League starts, but he’s also had some difficulties. Most notably, he’s walked at least three batters in every start thus far. That will need to change in order for Wainwright to be as effective as he can be.

View the Cubs career numbers vs. Adam Wainwright – ESPN Splits


Notable Performances From Down On The Farm

Eric Patterson (AAA) 2-4, HR, 3RBI, R, (.259avg)
Mark Holliman (AA) 6IP, 1ER, 6H, 2BB, 6K, WIN (0.33ERA)
Kyle Reynolds (High-A) 3-4, 2B, RBI, (.263avg)
Ryan Harvey (High-A) 2-3, R, BB, PO, (.667avg)
Tyler Colvin (High-A) 1-3, R, BB, CS, (.317avg)
Joel Santo (High-A) 6IP, 1ER, 7H, 2BB, 5K, WIN (3.32ERA)
Rafael Dolis (High-A) 6IP, No Runs, 4H, 2BB, 2K, (2.25ERA)

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Game 22 – All Hail Cesar

Saturday, April 28th, 2007


April 27th, 2007

Teams

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chicago 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 1 5 7 1
St. Louis 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0   3 9 1
W -  J. Marquis (3-1)   L - A. Reyes (0-4)  S – R. Dempster (4)
Homeruns: A. Ramirez (5) F. Pie (1) Y. Molina (1)

Box Score


(AP Photo/Kyle Ericson)

What’s this? A winning streak? Granted, it’s a baby winning streak, but we can nurse it and help it grow into a big strong winning streak if we continue to play the way we have the last two games.

Ryan Theriot
I mentioned yesterday that I wasn’t a big fan of him at shortstop. Our lineup is good enough to where it can overcome a lack of production at that position from an offensive standpoint in exchange for good solid defense up the middle. Theriot had his second game at the position and he made an error. At the very least, he needs to only be there when we have a starter on the mound that isn’t considered a groundball pitcher. Here are the career groundball to flyball ratios for our main four starters since number five is TBA.

Zambrano – 1.71 (2.23 last year)
Lilly – 0.81
Hill – 0.71
Marquis – 1.48

With that information at our fingertips, it would make sense to me to start Theriot at short on days where Lilly or Hill takes the mound and make sure Izturis is out there on Zambrano and Marquis days, especially Zambrano due to the chance for an emotional implosion if he has something go wrong in his start. We can’t have things like that, especially with Carlos off to such a tough start.

Cesar Izturis
Now I suppose that everyone wants to keep Izturis since he got a big hit to give the Cubs a much needed insurance run in the 9th inning. I’m not saying that we had to have that run, but at the time, when you look back at the goings on in the 8th, it was nice to add a little insurance, with the possibility of Pujols coming up in the 9th inning.

Cesar is not the problem on this team. He wasn’t brought here for his bat. He was brought here to play a rock solid season as the starting shortstop after the terrible season we got from Ronny Cedeno last year. Stop saying we need to get rid of Izturis because he’s not hitting. He wasn’t brought here to hit.

Longball
In my mind, Aramis Ramirez is our best power hitter. I know that a lot of people will disagree with me and say it’s Derrek Lee, but you can’t assume that because of one big power surge in 2005. Look at the numbers of both players and you can’t possibly make the case for Lee. Ramirez went deep again last night for his fifth of the year and we even got to see Felix Pie dance like a little girl around the bases when his shot to center got out. We needed both of those homeruns and it was nice to see Felix get one. I’m still waiting on a Soriano homerun myself.

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Game 22 – Open Thread

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Scouting Report on todays starters from MLB.com
Jason Marquis – Marquis will get another chance against his former teammates right away. He threw seven shutout innings last Saturday against the Cardinals, giving up seven hits and striking out five. The right-hander also escaped several jams, as St. Louis stranded 10 base runners in those seven innings. Marquis’ career numbers at new Busch Stadium are 8-8 with a 6.91 ERA.

Anthony Reyes – If Reyes could just start in the third inning, he’d be unbeaten this year. He’s allowed 10 runs in three starts, all of them in the first two innings of games. The right-hander lasted longer in his most recent outing, making it through the sixth after early difficulties. He also made progress as far as pitch efficiency and throwing strikes, two elements that will be most helpful if he can keep it up. Still, Reyes needs to avoid those early runs.

View the Cubs career numbers vs. Anthony Reyes – ESPN Splits


Notable Performances From Down On The Farm

Mike Fontenot (AAA) 3-5, 2B, HR, 4RBI, 2R, (.292avg)
Angel Guzman (AAA) 4.1IP, 2ER, 4H, 5K, (8.59ERA)
Sean Gallagher (AA) 2IP, 3ER, 3H, 3K, LOSS (4.19ERA)
Nate Spears (High-A) 4-5, (.267avg)
Tyler Colvin (High-A) 2-5, RBI, R, (.317avg)

Update from Mastrick: I will predict that Joe Aiello will experience the Rapture during his postgame analysis tonight as Len has mentioned Bill James and his sabermetrics multiple times! Mentioning Bill James around Aiello is like mentioning Milton Friedman around me :)

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Stick a fork in him, he’s done

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

At least that’s what the Tribune’s Paul Sullivan says. Prior’s surgery was described by cubs.com as a “debridement” and “labral and capsular repair.” Let’s translate that into English, he had major shoulder surgery. They scraped out scar tissue in the shoulder joint and sculpted back the dead parts of his rotator cuff that detached.

It’s very likely that Prior will return, but he will only be a shadow of himself. He will be a high 80s pitcher, similar to what we’ve seen with Wade Miller. He will have a very well-repaired shoulder joint that will enable him to live quite effectively; unfortunately his days of being an effective major league pitcher are over.

Jim Hendry continued to remind me of the Black Knight in “Monty Python’s The Holy Grail” by saying that the injury was “not career-ending.” He went on to further state that Dr. Andrews “felt optimistic that he would be able to pitch next year.” Perhaps this is true but I just can’t see the Cubs spending yet another $3 million on a pitcher that will only replace Wade Miller on the roster. Paul Sullivan said it best:

“Prior may never pitch again for the Cubs, and that’s a shame. But if that’s the case, few will shed any tears. His churlish attitude towards the media, his obvious disdain for Cubs management and his often condescending demeanor made Prior a hard person to sympathize with.”

Sullivan went on further to wish Prior the best of luck in his new destination and so do I.

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Game 21 – So this is what this team is supposed to look like

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007


April 25th, 2007

Teams

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Milwaukee 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 3 10 1
Chicago 0 0 0 5 1 0 2 1 x   9 16 0
W -  T. Lilly (2-2)   L - E. Dessens (1-1)  S – None
Homeruns: R. Weeks (5) D. Lee (1)

Box Score


(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Ryan Theriot at Shortstop
Today was day one of the experiment and I’d say it worked out pretty well. I like the way Lou is willing to try whatever possibility might work in an effort to find a win. This season, the Cubs have used 16 different lineups as Uncle Lou tries to find the winning combination. Theriot had two hits at the top of the lineup today and scored both times. That’s not to say his game was perfect, because it wasn’t. He reached base on a fielder’s choice in the 3rd inning and proceeded to bonehead his way off the bases on an overthrow. He had no business even thinking about third-base, let alone actually attempting to make it there. Thankfully, that play didn’t hurt us or the rest of his game.

Am I excited about the move of Theriot to short? Eh, I have mixed feelings on it. For one, I don’t agree with Mark’s assessment that we should move Izturis. Cesar is one of the elite fielders in the game. He’s not a hitter and will never be a hitter, but he brings a glove every day and can be a great answer when you need a defensive switch in a tight game. If someone in the IF had to go, which I don’t think is the case, it should be Ronny Cedeno. Again though, I don’t an infielder should be the person that goes when we need a 5th starter. We’ve got a bunch of outfielders and not enough spots to put them. That’s the situation that needs fixing. If you’re going to commit to Felix Pie as your starter in CF, then you have basically a 3-headed monster in RF in Murton, Floyd and Jones. Who of those needs to go? You’ll hate me for saying it, but it’s Murton and I’ll tell you why.

1) Murton is the youngest and therefore has the most intrinsic value if you’re looking from a trade standpoint. Sure he’s a fan favorite, but the fact is, Floyd is 37 years old and has injury issues. Jones is owed an awful lot of money that the Cubs would need to eat to be able to deal him. That’s probably not going to happen with the team due to be sold at the end of the year. With that being the case, Murton is the logical answer for teams looking for an OF.

2) Murton hits right-handed. If there is anything this team needs right now in the lineup, it’s balance. If you take Pie out of the equation, since he wasn’t in the opening day plan, the Cubs are very right-handed from 1-8 in the order. Floyd and Jones are the main threats from the left side of the plate, assuming you don’t really consider Izturis or Ward to be “major threats”. A lineup primarily built with righties allows the pitchers to pretty much get in a groove and find his release point on that outside corner. When that happens, he gets in a groove and becomes very difficult to beat. Anytime you let a pitcher get comfortable on the mound, you run the risk of him mowing you down the whole game. By balancing the lineup with some lefties, it makes the pitcher adjust to a different arm release and that, in turn makes him have to compensate. It opens up the possibility for a mistake, which opens the possibility of knocking him around a little. I love Matt Murton just like the next man. I’ve always been high on him since I spoke with him at West Tenn and talked hitting with him, but the fact is, he’s the odd man out. Either deal him or demote him until we can figure this mess out.

Derrek Lee
I love the fact that everyone has their panties in a bunch because of Lee’s lack of power. The guy has an OBP of close to .500 and almost had a cycle today. Who cares if his first homerun didn’t come until today? Relax and enjoy the fact that he’s hitting the ball well and getting on base at a very nice clip. He’s on base almost half the time he comes to the plate. What more do you want? I don’t think Lee is going to be a 45 HR guy. I think that year was career year and he’ll settle into his 30-35 homeruns each year, which is fine. It’s not all about the homeruns. It’s about things like getting on base, slugging at a good rate, and driving in runs. If you can do that without the HR, then have at the number 3 spot in the order.

Ben Sheets goes down
This is going to piss off a lot of Brewers fans, but I could care less. Half of them drink too much anyway. Ben Sheets went down with a groin problem and I cheered when I heard the news. Was I happy that a player got injured? Of course not, but if God comes to me and says “Joe, someone is going to get hurt and i’ll give you a choice of what team to make it happen to.” Choice number one would be St. Louis. Choice number two right now would be the Brewers and the fact that it’s their ace makes it that much sweeter. Get well soon Big Ben. Hope you enjoyed your stay in the city of big shoulders.

Michael Keaton
Is there anyway he could possibly never sing anywhere near Wrigley again? This guy was brutal behind the mic and to make matters worse, he’s a Pirates fan (I didn’t realize there was such a thing). He forgot the words or didn’t know them to begin with. I really hope Len and Bob post video of his work on their site, because it was bad. At one point in his song, he said “Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out to the car.” The CAR?!?!?!? Good idea Michael, why don’t you go out to your car, and don’t bother to come back. I love your movies, but please stay in Hollywood and out of Wrigleyville. Leave that job to guys who can do it well, like Ditka. =)

Conclusion
The Cubs played exactly the way I expect them to play when they’re on their game. They’ll score a lot of runs and pitch fairly decent. Hopefully the funk is over and the real Cubs have stepped forward. We’ll see how this weekend with the Cards goes. If we can get through that with a series win, there is some very favorable matchups coming our way in late April and early May. A winning streak could be in the foreseeable future.

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