Archive for June, 2007

It’s deja vu all over again

Monday, June 25th, 2007

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

Monday, June 25th, 2007

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

Monday, June 25th, 2007

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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More on the sweep

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

You can’t write enough about a happy day like this one was. Despite the fact that the Cubs family lost one of it’s favorite sons – Shooter Beck will be missed by all of us old-timers, he was certainly a character. What I will always remember most about Rod was the Winnebago he parked outside of Sec Taylor Stadium in Des Moines – I-Cubs players quickly learned where the open bar was and his contribution was not so much the stellar numbers he put up at Iowa – rather he was the team morale leader and even fans learned that they could stop by and meet one of the friendliest guys in all of baseball. Rod Beck will be sorely missed by all of baseball.

As for the Cubs game…I’m totally shocked. We’re playing good baseball, stingy defense and, outside of Angel Pagan’s miscues we’re running the bases well. I’m sure that Angel had a serious and frank discussion with Piniella after the game – had Angel been looking at the third base coach he never would have had the collision at second and the second baserunning miscue was totally unacceptable. I look for Angel to be the guy that gets sent down on Monday unless the Cubs DL Dempster/DeRosa or waive Eyre/Jones.

And what about the superlative relief work that Marmol is putting in! This is the kind of Cubs team we dreamed of – Soriano throwing out runners, hitting homeruns and the second-best ERA in the National League. The Cubs are still 7.5 back but I’m still hopeful, the team is playing good baseball and that’s all I really expect. The rest is just icing on the cake.

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Game 74 – Defense Wins Championships

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

June 24th, 2007


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
Chicago (N) 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0   3 12 0
Chicago (A) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   0 7 0
W –  S. Marshall (4-2)  L  – J. Contreras (5-8) S – B. Howry (2)
Homeruns: A. Soriano (15)

Box Score

(AP Photo/Jerry Lai)

Quick, when was the last time the Cubs swept a series at U.S. Cellular field? Can’t Remember? That’s because it hadn’t ever happened before today. The Cubs got the job done today sweeping a less than potent White Sox offense this weekend. The Sox scored a total of two runs in the series. I am thankful, more than ever, that I am not a Sox fan. This is just not their year, despite the fact that I picked them to win the AL Central. Boy is that pick making me look bad right now. I would imagine that Kenny Williams will soon realize it’s time to sell off the spare parts and reload. He didn’t invite me to their closed door meeting the other day that involved Paul Konerko, but if he had, I would have told him to sell. Stick a fork in em, they’re done.

Sean Marshall was back in full form today after a shaky start last time out. Marshall went just 6.1 innings and Lou pulled him. I’m not sure why Lou decided it was better to bring in Marmol, but I trust his judgement. At the time, Marshall had only thrown 81 pitches (54 for strikes). Marmol came in and proceeded to make me second guess the decision by missing with the first three pitches he delivered. I even heard someone yell for Lou to put Marshall back in. Maybe he thought it’s like basketball or little league, where you can swap guys in and out. I was a little disappointed in the fact that Sean didn’t seem to get ahead of the hitters with strike one as much as he usually does, but he made the pitches he needed to make and got the outs when he needed them. He also wasn’t particularly over powering on the mound, only striking out three hitters. I’ll take it though, considering he is our 5th starter, or at least he is on paper.

The Defense came up huge today, which is so odd due to the fact that it’s been such a weakness for us so often this year. Len Kasper, who is a devout scorekeeper like myself, mentioned that he places stars next to big fielding plays and had already noted four of them in the middle of the game. The Cubs made play after play in the field and everyone seemed to get in on the action. Poor Paul Konerko was robbed three different times by great plays. Ceasar Izturis played spectacular in the field making two great plays on Konerko, one of them a diving stab to his right in the 3rd inning. Derrek Lee made a weird fielding play to deflect a Jim Thome ground ball with runners on base to save a run. Lee deflects the ball, scrambles wildly to get it and has the presence of mind to flip to Marshall who was covering first base. The ball got to Marshall just inches before a sliding Thome comes in. Angel Pagan also had a strange catch on Konerko in which it appeared that he lost the ball, only to make a last ditch effort in the form of a dive to make the grab. All those plays helped immensely, but the play of the game had to be Soriano’s gun to the plate after catching a popup from Scott Podsednick in the 5th. That throw was right on the line and saved a run for the Cubs. Defense really doesn’t ultimately win championships in baseball, but it can certainly lose them as we all know to well. Today, the D came up HUGE!!!

Injuries have hit the Cubs in a weird way the last few days. Mark DeRosa had his migraine issue and then had a reaction to medication yesterday that kept him out of the ballgame. He was back in the game today, which is very good to see, considering the fact that Aramis Ramirez does not look good on the basepaths. I wouldn’t say he looks terrible, but he’s in obvious pain when he runs and i’ve got to imagine he’ll be getting sporadic days off until that leg fully heals. Look for DeRosa to play third on those off days. You can’t take Ramirez out of the lineup, especially with the fact that he’s swinging a hot bat right now. My guess is that Lou will play Ramirez similar to the way that the Giants play Barry Bonds. He’ll get a lot more rest than a normal starter would get so as to not aggravate that injury. I feel confident with DeRosa in the lineup at third base on those days. He has said it’s the defensive position he feels the most comfortable and he’s shown that to be the case with some of the spectacular plays he’s made in the field in Ramirez’s absence. The other crazy injury that we really haven’t heard much about. Ryan Dempster was injured with a strained oblique and was unavailable yesterday and today. I thought it was odd when Bobby Howry came in to close out the game on Saturday, but I chalked it up to Ryan needing a rest. It was mentioned in the game that Dempster was unavailable and my guess is that Bobby Howry will fill in during his brief time off. He picked up the save today and Saturday and has looked good doing it, despite a little shakiness in the 9th inning today.

Ozzie Guillen was ejected in the top of the 8th inning after arguing a play that the umpires got right. Pagan was rounding second on a base hit to right off the bat of DeRosa. As he was, he ran into the Sox fielder, which the third base umpire noted by pointing at the play. What happened after that was pure chaos as both Pagan and Pie were tagged out. The umpires got together for about 5 minutes and finally ruled that all the runners were safe and it would be bases loaded with no outs. Ozzie came out for clarification and wound up getting tossed in the process. It’s a strange play that I don’t think i’ve ever seen before and it delayed the game for 10 minutes. Delaying the game makes me mad, especially when I have dinner plans with my wife and son. Don’t ask me why, but a 17 month old doesn’t understand that a game is running long because a manager had to argue a play that the umpires got right.

I’d be sad if I didn’t mention again that Rod Beck passed away today. Tribune beat reporter, Mark Gonzalez semi-broke the story this morning when he posted on his blog that he had received sad news that would sadden the whole baseball world. I checked back later in the day to see if he had updated the blog only to see that the post had been removed. I thought that was the right thing to day, considering the fact that mentioning it in the first place only leads to speculation. If you’re not going to name a name, don’t even mention it in the first place. It almost seemed like he tried to break the news without actually breaking the news for some reason. Rod Beck was one of my favorite Cubs in 1998 and I was thrilled when he came to Chicago. He was an everyday type of hero to fans, especially when he was with the Iowa Cubs. He would routinely invite fans out to his RV to have a beer and talk about baseball. He was very fan accessible overall. He was a guy that “got it” when it comes to how players are ambassadors to the fans for the game of baseball. He will be missed.

Misc. Notes

  • Len Kasper mentioned that when Alfonso Soriano is on his game, he’s the best hitter in the game. I don’t know if I agree with that, considering he notoriously struggles to hit the breaking ball. There is a reason why he liked to hit leadoff and it’s because he sees the most fastballs from that spot. I can think of at least 5 other guys that I would rule as being better than Soriano when they’re on.
  • Mike Fontenot got a stolen base in the game and was running in the ninth with Derrek Lee at the plate. I’m not sure where the speed is coming from, but if Fontenot can become a runner on the bases, that would increase his value even more.
  • Is it just me or has Will Ohman looked really good lately? He’s been perfect in his last 3 outings after today and my confidence in him is rising.
  • The Cubs have now played the White Sox to a 30-30 series draw all time since these games have begun to count.
  • Soriano’s homerun today was yet another Solo Homerun. (That was for you Tommy)
  • Len and Bob talked to Lee after the game, which seemed odd. Derrek was 0-5 at the plate and was very close to receiving the dubious distinction of being elected the turd of the game. Wouldn’t it have been better to talk to someone else?

    STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA

  • First Star – Sean Marshall (41.6%)
  • Second Star – Alfonso Soriano (16.2%)
  • Third Star – Tadahito Iguchi (10.4%)
  • Turd of the Game – Angel Gonzalez (-17.2%)

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