Archive for June, 2007

A Look Towards The Weekend

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

As we approach the all-star break and the Cubs sit one game below .500, I cannot help but feel pretty good about where the team stands. Seriously, despite how things look in the win/loss columns, the fact of the matter is that the Cubs are in a pretty good position to enter the break within striking distance of Milwaukee. A series win versus Milwaukee and a successful road trip versus two teams that the Cubs should beat up on, could result in the Cubs being 45-42. Hopefully within 5 games of the Brewers come July 10th. Mark my words. Still, I’m getting ahead of myself.

All of this week’s excitement has been great, but now the real build up starts. Don’t get me wrong, the last seven days have been a wild ride for the Cubs and their fans. The Sox sweep was a much needed confidence boost, and the “The Comeback” was a terrific momentum builder. While the Cubs fought their way back into that game, I think we know that we all owe a large “Domo Arigato” to Kaz Matsui. Yet in the grand scheme of things, it is the upcoming weekend that now looks bigger than ever. So let’s take a little peek ahead.

The probable pitchers look to be:
Friday: Yovani Gallardo, RHP (1-0, 2.70) vs. Rich Hill, LHP (5-5, 3.13)
Saturday: Ben Sheets, RHP (9-3, 3.09) vs. Sean Marshall, LHP (4-2, 2.44)
Sunday: Dave Bush (6-6, 5.06) vs. Jason Marquis, RHP (5-4, 3.46)

The Cubs are 5-4 versus the Brewers this year, 4-2 in Milwaukee and 1-2 at home. Overall we have outscored them 51-41.

The importance of this weekends games cannot be overstated. After this series, the oppurtunities to take head-to-head games versus the Brewers comes down to one more 3 game set in late August. There may not be a better time for the Cubs to be hot. Yet the Brewers are pretty warm themselves. They come in off of a sweep of Houston and winning 13 of their last 15. Buckle up folks, this should be a great series to watch.

Back to the Brewers pitching. While the Cubs have enjoyed a reasonable amount of success against Dave Bush and Ben Sheets this year, and in the past, they have never seen Gallardo. Gallardo is billed as a “rookie phenom”, and games versus new pitchers are always tough. I visited a few different baseball sites to try and get the book on Gallardo. I pooled and condensed what I read, and here it is.

Gallardo was called up June 14 to replace Cris Capuano after Capuano went on the 15 day DL. Gallardo was drafted by the Brewers out of high school and has enjoyed a fast rise through High A and AA thanks to a combined 188 Ks last season. This year Gallardo has been having a pretty good year, already amassing 110 Ks in 77 2/3 for AAA Nashville. Gallardo supposedly has 3 very good pitches. A mid 90’s fastball, high 80’s slider, and a very good curveball that has been called the best in all of AAA baseball. He also has a developing change up but supposedly lives on steady use of his fastball and curve. Scouts say that he is very mature in his approach and uses all of his pitches to set up hitters. They also say that he uses drastic changes in speed and various arm slots to keep hitters off balance. His first major league start was a win versus SF, although his numbers were a little less than phenomenal. In 6 1/3 he gave up 4 hits, 3 walks, and struck out 4. He was charged with 3 earned runs and gave up 1 solo HR. Gallardo’s second outing was a little more impressive. In 7 innings of work versus the Royals, Gallardo gave up 5 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 8. He gave up one earned run. The jury is still out on whether to call him a power pitcher or a finesse guy. Apparently he has the ability to us both approaches. A lot of sites did mention the fact that he is a fly ball pitcher and can be beat up with the long ball.

Looking over the Brewers last month of games, it is obvious that the name of the game for them is run support. Their pitching gives up plenty of runs, but their powerful hitting usually compensates. So really the key to this series has to be the Cubs pitching. The starters continue to do a pretty good job, but the Cubs bullpen is a mess and the Rockies series showed just how vulnerable ANY lead can be going into the late innings. That will have to change for the Cubs to have any success against the Brew Crew. I guess we will find out tomorrow if this day off has helped the bullpen get some rest. If the Cubs hot hitting continues. If Jacques Jones remains a Cub. Most importantly, if “Big Mo” is still hanging around Wrigley. I can hardly wait!

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Thursday Morning Prospect Report

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Rather than combine two days worth of prospect reports tomorrow because of the off day, I figured I’d shoot one up this morning before Tony’s preview of the Brewers series. Enjoy and Discuss!!

  • Donald Veal (AA) – 5 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 HR, 11 K, 4 BB (5.64 ERA)
  • Carmen Pignatiello (AAA) – 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB
  • Clay Rapada (AAA) – 1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER
  • Ronny Cedeno (AAA) – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 BB, 1 RBI
  • Tyler Colvin (AA) – 3 for 5, 2 doubles
  • Brian Dopirak (A+) – 0 for 5 with 1 K
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    Game 77 – Sweeping is Fun

    Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

    June 27th, 2007


    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
    Colorado 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 0   4 6 1
    Chicago 0 1 3 1 0 0 1 0 X   6 6 0
    W –  C. Zambrano (9-6)  L  – J. Hirsh (3-7) S – C. Marmol (1)
    Homeruns: M. DeRosa (7) M. Fontenot (3)

    Box Score

    I’m going to do this recap a little different today. I took the day off of score keeping and instead just used my clipboard to jot notes. As I did, I found that my notes over the past few games have basically be very similar. So rather than write the same stuff over and over, I’d like to open this one up for some discussion on your part, especially with the off day going tomorrow. That should give us a good long time to get some good debates in. With that being said, here are the questions I’d like to pose to you, along with my general answers. I’m keeping my answers brief so as to not spoil the discussion element.

  • What did you think of the performance of Billy Petrick? – Personally, I thought the kid did about what we could have expected. When you look at the box score, it looks as if he was terrible, but I don’t think he was. He pitched a perfect 7th inning, getting two of the hitters to strike out. He probably should not have come back out in the 8th inning, but with the amount of taxation on the pen over the last few days, Lou really wanted to get some of them some rest. Even that inning, Petrick looked good. His velocity was in the mid 90’s and aside from the walk to Matsui, he had good command and control.
  • If you look at the current corp. of relievers, what is your confidence level when they come into the game? If you had to rank each guy from 1-10 with 1 meaning you are not confident at all and 10 meaning you write it in the books. I’ll wait to give my rankings until there is a bit of discussion.
  • Kaz Matsui botched a pop fly and was given an error because the ball hit him. Troy Tulowitzki also botched one because of the “sun” and was not charged with an error. What are your thoughts on the way errors are given for fly balls that should be caught but due to the fielder being retarded, drop in front of them? Should they be errors or hits?
  • Do you feel bad for Florence Loewe, the 104 year old lady at the game today? She was somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 years old when the Cubs won the world series and will probably die without ever really seeing one (who remembers things when they are 5 years old?)
  • Finally, I took the liberty of taking a look at the lineup construction that Lou Piniella has put on the field this year. In 76 games leading up to today, Lou has used 64 different batting orders and 53 different player lineups, not including pitchers. That got me to thinking about what my ideal Lou lineup would be. Here it is:

    Alfonso Soriano (LF)
    Mike Fontenot (SS)
    Derrek Lee (1B)
    Aramis Ramirez (3B)
    Cliff Floyd (RF)
    Mark DeRosa (2B)
    Felix Pie (CF)
    Rob Bowen (C)
    Pitcher Slot

    I’m not 100% sold on the idea of Soriano in the leadoff spot, but he’s the best option right now. I toyed with the idea of putting Fontenot at leadoff with DeRosa hitting 2nd and moving Soriano to the 5th spot with Floyd protecting him. What are your thoughts?

    STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA

  • First Star – Mark DeRosa (27.2%)
  • Second Star – Carlos Zambrano (17.9%)
  • Third Star – Carlos Marmol (7.8%)
  • Turd of the Game – Jason Hirsh (-21.2%)

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  • Game 77 – Open Thread

    Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

    Scouting Report on todays starters from
    Jason Hirsh – Hirsh had his second consecutive rough outing in his last start, allowing five runs on seven hits while walking three over 5 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays. Hirsh has been enduring an up-and-down June. The 25-year-old allowed five runs over 4 1/3 innings on June 16 against the Rays, but in his start before that, Hirsh went the distance and allowed just one run against the Orioles. Hirsh has never faced the Cubs in his two-year career.

    Carlos Zambrano – Zambrano is 3-1 with a 1.14 ERA in four starts since his “new season” began June 1. He matched his career high with 12 strikeouts against the White Sox in his previous start, giving up one run on three hits over eight innings. Zambrano was sharp in the outing, mixing his pitches well and displaying sharp movement on his breaking ball.

    View the Cubs career numbers vs. Jason Hirsh – ESPN Splits

    View the game preview from Baseball Reference

    Notable Performances From Down On The Farm

  • Kyler Burke (A) – Went 0-2 with two walks (Acquired in the M. Barrett trade)
  • Ronny Cedeno (AAA) – Went 5-6 with 3 doubles
  • Brian Dopirak (A+) – 2 for 4 with a HR
  • Geovany Soto (AAA) – 3 for 5 with 2 RBI
  • Joel Santo (A+) – 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 6 K, 4 BB (W, 5-4)
  • Bret Prinz (AAA) – 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 K, 1 BB (Signed from the White Sox a couple days ago)
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  • Game 76 – Inching Closer

    Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

    June 26th, 2007


    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
    Colorado 0 1 0 2 0 1 0 0 1   5 10 0
    Chicago 3 0 1 0 4 0 0 0 X   8 11 0
    W –  T. Lilly (6-4)  L  – R. Lopez (4-1) S – W. Ohman (1)
    Homeruns: C. Floyd (4) J. Carroll (1)

    Box Score

    The headache was gone after some Advil this morning and I was ready for the game. I have to be honest, I was itching for the game to start all day. I hate night games because I have to wait all day for it to start. Good things come to those who wait was I was always taught and tonight, that was the case.

    Ted Lilly didn’t impress me tonight. He routinely suffered with his control and his command. He managed to get through six innings, which was a prerequisite for the start tonight, but when you throw 114 pitches, you should be able to get through seven. We really needed a a quality start from the starter for the simple fact that the bullpen has been taxed of late and desperately needed some rest. Lilly gave us enough, but could have given us more. The funny thing was that after the first inning, I really thought the two pitchers would have a totally different result than what we saw over the next three innings. Lilly finished the first with just 13 pitches, while Lopez finished it with somewhere in the neighborhood of 30. Lilly began to struggle and Lopez then settled down a bit, getting the lower half of the Cubs order on just 6 pitches in the second.

    The Jacque Jones Trade seemed to be all anyone, me included, could think about all day. As rumors began to break that Jones was headed to Florida, it was tough to confirm. The main reason for this was due to the fact that the deal was not fully done, as we found out later in the evening when it was announced that it had fallen through. For all of those itching to know what the deal was, here is my best estimation. I’m pretty sure the basics of it were something to the effect of Jones and a player to be named later along with just about all of Jones’ remaining salary for Graham Taylor. My guess is that Hendry decided that he wasn’t getting enough in return, which he wasn’t, and backed out of the deal. I think he made the right move here, because that’s too much to give up for Taylor. He’s got a crazy K/BB ratio, but I don’t know if I’m quite sold on him just yet. My guess is that Hendry will make some calls to Larry Beinfest tomorrow, but that the deal is officially dead. According to Jim Hendry:

    “It wasn’t really a good deal for us. We got close in one scenario, and talked to some other clubs (Monday), and I’ve got an other scenario. At the end of the day, I just felt like I wasn’t going to get rushed into it and make a deal that I didn’t think was good for us, so it didn’t get done.”

    That tells me that Hendry seems to have another team interested. I think he’ll be on the phone again most of the day tomorrow and we’ll go through this all over again.

    The 12th Pitcher is still not here. We added Billy Petrick, but in the process removed Ryan Dempster due to his oblique injury. That keeps us at 11 on the active roster and a need for yet another arm. Basically we’re in the exact same position we were in before the game. We’ll wait and see what happens, but I have to imagine that a move is in the works as we speak because of the fact that there is a day game tomorrow.

    Cliff Floyd is a definite threat in this lineup and needs to be in this lineup every day. I love what Lou is doing with Floyd and Pagan. We’ve had the late lead and both games of this series you’ve seen Floyd leave early to rest his body and give Pagan some time. When Floyd is in the lineup, there is no doubt that he makes the heart of the lineup more potent. People know he’s talented and respect that, as shown by his two intentional walks tonight. He needs to play as close to every day as possible while keeping himself healthy.

    Mike Fontenot continues to play well and was even put out there at shortstop tonight. Oddly enough he didn’t get a ground ball hit to him all night. I can’t remember the last time that happened, but I have to imagine it’s not very often. We’ll have to wait to see how Fontenot performs at short. My guess is that he’ll do just fine.

    We’re playing really well right now, and I know it’s probably frustrating to look at the scoreboard and see Milwaukee continue to win. My only words to console you is that if the Cubs continue to take care of business each day, things will sort themselves out. It’s way too early in the year to be scoreboard watching. Save that for September. In the meantime, just keep going out and winning each series and come September we’ll be right where we need to be.

  • First Star – Cliff Floyd (16.4%)
  • Second Star – Jamey Carroll (14.1%)
  • Third Star – Willie Taveras (13.8%)
  • Turd of the Game – Rodrigo Lopez (-44.0%)

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