View From The Bleachers

June 26, 2007

Game 76 – Inching Closer

Filed under: General — Joe Aiello @ 11:05 pm

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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  • Game 76 – Open Thread

    Filed under: General — Joe Aiello @ 7:00 pm

    *******Jacque Jones Trade Update – Called Off?*******

    FOX Sports – Barring an unexpected reversal, the Marlins’ trade for Cubs outfielder Jacque Jones is not going to happen, has learned. The Marlins pursued Jones with the intention of making him their regular center fielder, but the deal hit an unspecified “major snag” Tuesday night, according to a major-league source. The Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported that Jones had been traded Tuesday night, but the Cubs did not inform Jones that a deal had been completed, according to another source. The holdup likely involves money — Jones, 31, is owed the balance of his $4 million salary this season and $5 million next season. The low-revenue Marlins almost certainly would require the high-revenue Cubs to pay the majority of Jones’ remaining salary. Any transaction involving more than $1 million requires the approval of the commissioner’s office.

    VFTB Update – Wade Miller has been placed on the 60 day DL to make room for Petrick. Ryan Dempster was sent to the DL to open the 25 man roster spot. My guess is that it’s due to the Jones trade falling through.

    Scouting Report on todays starters from
    Rodrigo Lopez – Lopez helped the Rockies complete a three-game sweep of the Yankees in his last outing. He allowed just two runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. Lopez is now 2-0 with a 3.52 ERA over four starts in the month of June. The 31-year-old has never faced the Cubs in his seven-year career.

    Ted Lilly – Lilly matched his season high with 10 strikeouts in his previous start, but didn’t get a decision against the Rangers. The lefty served up back-to-back homers in the second inning and five runs over the first three frames before settling down to make it through the seventh. Somehow, Lilly has to get more consistent with outings. He was roughed up the only previous time he faced the Rockies, yielding six runs (five earned) over just 1 2/3 innings.

    View the Cubs career numbers vs. Rodrigo Lopez – ESPN Splits

    View the game preview from Baseball Reference

    Notable Performances From Down On The Farm

    Chris Amador (A+) – Went 4 for 4 with a double and a homerun (9).
    Eric Patterson (AAA) – Went 3 for 4 with a base on balls
    Carmen Pignatiello (AAA) – Pitched a perfect inning of relief, striking out 1. (Could he get the call?)

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    Rumor Has It

    Filed under: General — Joe Aiello @ 4:11 pm

    That our 12 pitcher is now en route from the Tennessee Smokies. His name? Well, it’s none other than Billy Petrick. Petrick was a 3rd round pick in 2002 for the Cubs, drafted ahead of Rich Hill that year. He’s a product of Morris H.S., which is also responsible for producing the former 7th round pick from the Twins, Kelly Dransfeldt. Here are Petrick’s numbers so far this season at two different levels in the organization. The first is his numbers from Daytona (A+) and the second row represents his numbers from Tennessee (AA)

    No word has come over the wire as to if this is in fact true. If it is, it would mean that a 40 man roster spot would opened. How could that have happened?

  • Jones has been traded or DFA’d
  • Miller has been placed on the 60 day DL
  • Blanco has been placed on the 60 day DLWe’ll see which is the case.

    Update – I’ve seen some rumors around the web that Jones has been dealt to the Marlins. No word on if they’re true, but i’ve seen it on both a Cubs message board and a Marlins message board as well. Stay Tuned!!!!

    Update # 2 – Ryan Dempster is reportedly headed to the DL, which would mean the Cubs need two pitchers. Billy Petrick has been confirmed as one, but how he gets on the 40 man roster is still a mystery.

    Update # 3 – The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is reporting that Jacque Jones has in fact been dealt to the Marlins. (Source)

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    Speculating the Move for the Night

    Filed under: General — Joe Aiello @ 12:29 pm

    The Cubs will be making a roster move today. Jim Hendry wouldn’t say who or what the move would be, be he did say they would make one before the game tonight to shore up the pen. Here are some possibilities to wet your appetite.

    Option 1 – Trading Jacque Jones is probably everyone’s hope, but if we do, what are we really getting back. We’re certainly not getting bullpen help for him. I have mixed feelings about moving Jones for a couple reasons. First, he hits left handed and runs above average. Those are two things that can be valuable off the bench. He can also play all three outfield positions in a pinch. Yes, he’s not hitting, but he’s always hit in the past, so he can be a contributor off the bench.

    Option 2 – DFA Jacque Jones. I’m tired of hearing this option being mentioned. I really don’t think people understand what DFA means. As soon as the Cubs DFA Jones, it gives them 10 days to decide what to do with him. They would have options of either trading him, outright releasing him (and paying for the rest of his contract this year and next year up front in one lump sum), or hoping he’ll clear waivers and offer him the chance to go to Iowa, which he’d be silly to do. How do we win by doing this? When you force yourself into a corner to make a move, you never get anything even decent in return. Teams won’t deal with us at that point seriously when they know they can get Jones for nothing in 10 days.

    Option 3 – Sending down Ryan Theriot is an option people are floating around now that Mike Fontenot seems to be playing so well. This option surfaced when it was reported yesterday that he was taking grounders at SS. Hendry said today when he was interviewed that Theriot is not leaving the big league club, so that option is all but squashed.

    Option 4 – Option Angel Pagan to Iowa is another option for the Cubs to consider. On the surface, it would drop them down to four outfielders on the active roster, but with DeRosa and Ward capable of playing out there, it would be safe enough. The problem is that Pagan is actually producing as a backup outfielder and to demote him would weaken the bench.

    That puts the Cubs in a bit of a quandary. If you exercise option 3 or 4, your options for who you recall from Iowa or Tennessee are limited to just 40 man roster guys. That gives you the following choices off the 40 man roster:

  • Rocky Cherry – Great Name, but he’s just plain bad
  • Neal Cotts – The odds on favorite for the promotion
  • Juan Mateo – Getting shelled in A ball.
  • Jeff Samardzija – See Juan Mateo
  • Sean Gallagher – Not an option because he hasn’t been in the minors for 10 days since being demoted
  • Clay Rapada – See Sean GallagherJoe’s Wish
    What I’d like to see happen is for the Cubs to deal Jones for minor league talent, freeing up a 40 man roster spot. Use that spot to add Carmen Pignatiello to the mix and promote him. Place Ryan Dempster on the 15 day DL retroactive to June 23rd and promote Neal Cotts to fill the void of a long relief man. This gives the Cubs a long relief guy they need in Cotts and a new arm in Pignatiello, who likens himself to a young Jamie Moyer.

    As always, we’ll keep you updated in the event that the Cubs are actually courteous enough to announce there moves earlier than 5 minutes before game time tonight.

    Side Note – The Cubs signed RHP Bret Prinz and stationed him in Iowa. He pitched last night and got a scoreless inning of work in.

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    Filed under: General — Matt @ 12:02 pm

    Obviously, “the fan” last night was thinking what everyone else was thinking at that point. I certainly don’t condone that behavior, and am glad it’s now a felony. I’m keeping this short since, like Bartman, these guys need to be put out to a pasture quickly, and forgotten.

    I just loved Howry’s recap of the whole incident:

    “He said, ‘What are you doing?’ ” Howry said. “I said, ‘I’m out here trying to give up home runs. What do you think?’ “

    Awesome. Simply awesome.

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    June 25, 2007

    Game 75 – Speechless

    Filed under: General — Joe Aiello @ 11:48 pm

    June 25th, 2007


    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
    Colorado 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 6   9 13 1
    Chicago 4 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 2   10 18 1
    W –  B. Howry (4-4)  L  – B. Fuentes (0-2) S – None
    Homeruns: A. Pagan (3) T. Tulowitzki (7)

    Box Score

    I don’t think I can remember a game that the Cubs won so thrillingly, yet I wanted it to be over more than this one. I came into the game with a slight headache and an upset stomach. I figured that with the way the Cubs were playing, it was worth staying up and watching, instead of taking an early exit to the bed. I had my clipboard and scoring software fired up and was really enjoying the. Then I read a post by Mark in the late innings and all hell broke loose. The Cubs gave up 6 runs in the 9th and I was e-mailing his sorry butt to blame him. Obviously it wasn’t his fault, and I can’t stand it when people are superstitious like that. In fact, I’ve even debated taking down commandment number nine. We all know the rest of the story, so let me break down my thoughts on one of the biggest games of the year as best I can (stupid headache still remains).

    Jason Marquis was really good at doing the little things that don’t show up in the box score last night. For example, he routinely got ahead of the Colorado hitters with strike one. It may not sound like much, but take a look at some of the Rockies best hitters and their averages in the various counts.

    Name 0-0 0-1
    K. Matsui .346 .345
    M. Holliday .473 .313
    T. Helton .393 .389
    G. Atkins .364 .138
    B. Hawpe .330 .283

    Every single one of the Rockies 2-6 hitters last night see their average drop when hitting in an 0-1 count. Jason Marquis was very good last night, I believe, because he routinely was up in the count. When he did miss with strike one, he usually came right back to even it up. If he can do this consistently, he’ll find a lot more success. He was unfortunate to get a no decision in the game, but I came away from the outing encouraged by the performance of Jason Marquis. It wasn’t an out of this world performance, but from the lower end of the rotation, it’s exactly the kind of outing we can hope for.

    Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry will probably be remembered in this game for giving up the lead, but let’s take a look at the rest of their outings first starting with Scott Eyre. When Lou brought in Eyre, it was to get Michael Wuertz out of a jam, which he promptly did by striking out Brad Hawpe swinging. That’s a big situation right there that he extinguished, yet won’t get any credit for from people that want him DFA’d or released. He hasn’t been able to come through in those types of situations in the past and should get credit for it. In the eighth inning, he started out rough with a double and a walk, but settled himself down and induced a double play and got a strikeout to end it. In my opinion, that should have been the end of his outing, though I can see why Lou would trot him out there for the ninth. With a shorthanded bullpen, at least in the eyes of Lou, he wanted to get as much out of his lowest rated reliever as possible. It’s not really fair to Eyre, but sometimes you do what you have to do. In my mind, Lou set Eyre up for failure by sending him out there for a third straight inning. It’s not something a setup man is used to. Obviously you have to put some of the blame on Eyre, but not as much as people will do in their comments or recaps. That’s not fair.

    As for Bobby Howry, how can you all of a sudden call for hoarse head on a platter with how well he has been pitching? I’m sorry Mark and everyone else, but you people flip flop more than a fish out of water. First it’s the Cubs are good, then they lose a game and everyone needs to be shipped out. Tonight, Howry will come in and pitch big and you won’t say anything about dumping them. The fact is, a bullpen is always and will always be a crapshoot. Spending tons of money to address it is foolish. Just ask Baltimore who spent a lot of money to revamp their pen in the free agent market only to see their bullpen ERA have them ranked 28th in the Majors. 5.28 sounds great when you spend a lot of money doesn’t it? Last year Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry were outstanding and everyone was praising Jim Hendry for getting the players he did, when he did. This year, those same moves are being bashed, by the same people. Have some backbone people. Stick with one side for once. I’m still supporting Eyre and Howry, because right now, what are the options? You can’t go around releasing people and signing new players in the middle of the season. There is a reason those players are available, and it’s because they’re not any good. Give me the name of one free agent out there that you’d want. Just one. I dare you.

    Mike Fontenot continued to play well in the game, but let me explain to you why he’s not one of the stars of the game. When you look at the WPA, Fontenot would not even be one of the top 3 if you only looked at the Cubs from last night. How can that be, you say? He went 5-5 with 2 RBI. Let’s take a look at his at bats to figure out why.

  • First Inning – He singles, but it’s with a tie game in the 1st inning with an out already in the inning. That isn’t much of a game changing play. Then he gets caught stealing and loses most of what he gained for the single in the first place.
  • Third Inning – Here he leads off with a single and eventually scores a run. Great, but the Cubs already had a 4-0 lead, so at that point, you’re not gaining that much momentum.
  • 5th Inning – Hits a double and scores a run to lead off the game, but again, the Cubs had a nice lead and it was getting later in the game, which means their probability for winning was already pretty high.
  • 6th Inning – Singles in a run, but again, the Cubs WPA was already in the 90% range. There isn’t much room to improve that.
  • 8th Inning – Hits another double, but at this point the game was all but won, or so we thought.

    As you can see, it’s not necessarily what you hit, but rather what situations you hit in. Mike Fontenot continues to play well for us, but today just didn’t get the big opportunities to shine.

    Alfonso Soriano finally came up with some big RBI’s. I’m tired of the fact that his RBI totals are not what they should be for the amount of power he has. Last night he came up really big with a big time hit when it really mattered. I’ll lay off him for a day, but I would really like to see more RBI’s out of him in the future.

    Lou Piniella was really close to getting raked over the coals today. If the Cubs lose this game, he gets killed for not using Marmol and for not bringing Jacque Jones in to pinch run for Rob Bowen earlier than he did. If Jones it pinch running from the beginning, there is a good chance he scores on the error by Matsui. It’s easy to second guess after the fact, so I’m not really going to do that. I wouldn’t want Lou’s job for one day. I’m just really glad we won, because Lou may have had a Lee Elia type tirade with the media had we lost.

    Misc. Notes

  • Willie Tavares has 24 bunt hits and the next closest to him has 7.
  • Mark DeRosa’s daughter has walking pneumonia.
  • I’m not a big fan of pitchers trying to stop the ball with their bare hand like Marquis did in the 4th.
  • Mike Fontenot was seen taking ground balls at short yesterday before the game.
  • Wade Miller is close to returning. (Do you care?)
  • In the 4th inning, Comcast went to commercial break in the middle of an at bat. How bush league is that?
  • In the White Sox game, Mike Quade made the right call to not send Pie home on the DeRosa single. In a tight game like that, why run into an out with 0 outs in the inning? It was the right call.

    STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA

  • First Star – Alfonso Soriano (67.9%)
  • Second Star – Troy Tulowitzki (56.8%)
  • Third Star – Mark DeRosa (26.1%)
  • Turd of the Game – Brian Fuentes (-79.0%)

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  • It’s deja vu all over again

    Filed under: General — @ 11:42 pm

    I’ll let Joe handle the honors of writing the post-game analysis on this one. Some of you know that I posted a thing about how great it felt with the way the Cubs have been playing recently. No sooner than I posted it the Cubs gave up six runs!

    I still feel real positive about things, except for the fact that our GM is still a retread and Eyre and Howry shouldn’t be in Cubs uniforms. Our Cajun Connection infield is still exciting, we have competition at 2B, SS, CF, RF and setup relief and competition is a good thing.

    The Cubs will be making a roster move tomorrow to shore up the bullpen. I sincerely hope our lame duck GM will consider dumping the two guys that almost blew tonight’s game as well. Of course we all know when that will happen – when hell freezes over or when pigs fly. Whichever comes first.

    I’m still not giving up on this team. Will this team break my heart once again? Perhaps…thank God for Soriano!

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    Game 75 – Open Thread

    Filed under: General — Joe Aiello @ 6:30 pm

    Scouting Report on todays starters from
    Jeff Francis – Francis had a career-high nine strikeouts over seven innings on Wednesday against the Yankees while yielding only one run on five hits. When he wasn’t striking out batters, he was forcing 11 groundouts. His past two starts — against the Red Sox and Yankees — have resulted in 12 innings and only one allowed run. He’s only allowed five runs through 26 innings and four June starts.

    Jason Marquis – Marquis is in a funk. He hasn’t won since May 9 and is 0-3 in eight starts since. The right-hander is falling behind in the count from the start, and unable to go deep in games. And he’s not relying on his strength, which is his sinker. He was 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA in April, and needs to find what worked again.

    View the Cubs career numbers vs. Jeff Francis – ESPN Splits

    View the game preview from Baseball Reference

    Notable Performances From Down On The Farm

    Buck Coats (AAA) 2-4, 1 Run, 1 HR 2 RBIs
    Sean Gallager (AAA) Win, 5 Inn, 1 Hit, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks
    Matt Craig (AA) 1-4, 1 Run, 1 HR, 2 RBIs
    Justin Berg (AA) Win, 7.1 Inn, 6 Hits, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks
    Kyle Reynolds (A) 2-6, 1 Run, 1 Double, 1 HR, 1 RBI
    Brian Dopirak (A) 3-5, 1 Run, 1 Double, 1 HR, 2 RBIs
    Elvis Lara (RK) 3-5, 2 Runs, 1 HR, 3 RBIs
    Roberto Sabates (RK) 4-4, 2 Runs, 1 RBI, 1 BB
    Yusdel Tuero (RK) Hold, 2 Inn, 0 Hits, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks

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    Sox Sweep, it’s just OK in my book

    Filed under: General — Matt @ 12:35 pm

    I know, I know, the sweep of the Sox it’s the greatest thing since beer came in cans with wide mouth openings. I’m just as happy about the sweep as the rest of you, but for other reasons.

    For one, it’s the best baseball I’ve seen the Cubs play all year. Timely hitting, excellent defense, and only one real running gaffe in three games. I guess the ghost of Michael Barrett still remains. Or Jacque Jones is still in charge of the base running drills. Either that, or Angel Pagan knows he’s fast and wants to run until the cows come home, or Mike Quade puts up the “stop” sign. Which, by the way, seems to happen all too often. Seriously Mike, stopping Pie and Pagan on a ball hit over the right fielder’s head? We’ve got the anti-Wendell Kimm in the third base coaches box. What gives?

    All you Izturis detractors what do you have to say for yourself? And yes, I know he hits like he’s swinging a toothpick, but he made some gold glove caliber plays this weekend. Calling for Soriano to throw to second in game two was a huge key. I’m not sure Theriot makes that call.

    Let’s be honest, that is a bad Sox team. We pretty much beat the Charlotte Knights, with some underachieving MLB players smattered into the lineup. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but these are the teams this Cubs team should beat. Say like the Texas Rangers. Oops, that didn’t go so good did it. If we roll through the Rockies, I’ll be pretty excited about this weekend’s series with the Brewers. Although the Rockies just swept the Yankees, and then got swept by the Jays. So who knows what Rockies version we’ll see. The Cubs need to take care of business this week. Making a move on the NL Comedy Central is essential in the next seven days, then I’ll be one excited Cubs fan.

    On a side note, the WGN Radio crew noted that two weeks ago, reports of clubhouse dissention were running rampant. Lou had lost the players, and anarchy was beginning to roll. Suddenly Michael Barrett is traded and it’s all lovey dovey. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I’m thinking Mr. Barrett was causing more problems than we knew.

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