Archive for July, 2007

Game 105 – Open Thread

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Scouting Report on todays starters from MLB.com
Adam Eaton – Eaton pitched a solid 6 1/3 innings against the Pirates, allowing four runs on eight hits. His chance for a 10th win was erased when the Phillies’ bullpen could not hold on to the lead. Eaton allowed two runs in the first inning, but he settled down to retire 13 consecutive Pirates from the second to sixth inning. Lifetime against the Cubs, he’s 5-2 with a 4.31 ERA.

Jason Marquis – Marquis is coming off a loss to the Cardinals, when he served up six runs over five innings. It was the third start in his last four in which he gave up six runs. Ill-timed walks hurt Marquis as well, and he needs to be careful not to overthrow. The right-hander is 2-2 with a 6.67 ERA in five starts this month, and has walked 12 over 28 1/3 innings.

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

View the game preview from Baseball Reference

Game Notes

  • Adam Eaton has a career 3.68 ERA in four starts at Wrigley Field, the most recent of which was in 2005 when he was with the Padres
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  • Lunch On The Farm

    Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

    News and Notes

  • Rick Ankiel (remember him?) hit his 31st HR of the season for Memphis (AAA). His transformation from pitcher to outfielder appears to be complete. (Source)
  • Henry Blanco suffered a setback (imagine that) in his rehab that will delay him (Source)
  • Kevin Goldstein from BP featured Geovany Soto in his Monday Morning Ten Pack:

    Geovany Soto, C, Triple-A Iowa (Cubs)

    Itís probably wrong to criticize the Cubs at this point, as theyíve turned this around 180 degrees from their awful start and now sit just a half-game out of both the National League Central and NL wild card races. Yet, here I goóJason Kendall still stinks, Koyie Hill is hitting an unacceptable on any level .163/233/.288, and yet Geovany Soto is left rotting away in Iowa. It makes no sense. Soto went deep on both Friday and Saturday, giving him home runs in four of his last five games, and even with an 0-for-5 night on Sunday, he sits at .335/.408/.602 in 79 games for Iowa. Even those who bleed Cubbie blue should be having a hard time rationalizing why heís stuck at Triple-A, and why the Cubs even traded anything at all away for Kendall in the first place. (Source)

    Tracked Players Results

    Team Results

  • AAA – Iowa 0, Salt Lake 1
  • AA – Tennessee 6, West Tenn 11
  • High-A – Daytona 5, Palm Beach 6
  • A – Peoria 3, West Michigan 2
  • Short Season – Boise – No Game
  • Arizona Rookie – Cubs – No Game
  • Dominican Summer League – Cubs 6, Yankees 4View the full organizational report from First Inning

    Don’t see someone listed in the tracked players report? Leave us a comment and we’ll be sure to add that name to the regular rotation.

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    Game 104 – Another Lefty Does Us In

    Monday, July 30th, 2007


    July 30th, 2007

    Teams

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
    Philadelphia 0 0 3 0 1 0 0 0 0   4 9 0
    Chicago 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0   1 3 0
    W – C. Hamels (12-5)  L  - T. Lilly (11-5) S – B. Myers (7)
    Homeruns: T. Iguchi (7) A. Rowand (15) R. Theriot (3)

    Box Score


    (AP Photo/Jerry Lai)

    I’m getting used to this best record in MLB since June 3rd stuff. It’s taken me to the point where I honestly expect the Cubs to win every game and losing even one feels like a tragedy. Tonight was a big night, because it would have ended the chase for the top spot in the Central. Instead, we’ll have to hope we can take care of business tomorrow and hope the Brewers do their part against the Mets.

    If the Cubs are going to be successful the rest of the season and into the playoffs, they have to begin to hit lefties. We’re in the bottom five in batting average and on base percentage against the lefties in the NL. Don’t get me wrong, Cole Hamels is a very good pitcher, but it’s not just Hamels that has stifled us. Lou at one point went to the funky lineup with Soriano in the fifth spot to change things up. I’m not sure if that’s the answer, but something needs to happen. Who knows, maybe Matt Murton is the bat we need to combat the lefties. Maybe this chance to win the RF spot down the stretch is the incentive he needs to step his game up to the quality we saw last year. If he can do that, he might just be the answer to this lefty problem.

    Ryan Theriot was very good tonight. He’s turned into a good everyday shortstop, which is something even Lou probably didn’t expect. Coming into the year, most people were saying that Theriot was not a ML shortstop and that he didn’t have the glove to play the position. He’s served up a lot of crow on a silver platter for people to eat this season with his 2 errors in 50+ games at short. He tried his best to win the game on his own with two hits, but when you’re the only one hitting the ball, you can’t expect much.

    Misc. Notes

  • Rick Sutcliffe said that Ted Lilly was sending Jimmy Rollins a message when his pitch went behind him in the 1st. Rick, please shut up.
  • Derrek Lee’s catch in the 3rd on Jimmy Rollin’s foul pop was a thing of beauty. On a full sprint toward the dangerous part of the field, he makes the catch.
  • The Phillies had both Shane Victorino and Michael Bourn go down with injuries. I don’t root for injuries, but I’m hoping these guys need to sit for the next two days and then come back for the Milwaukee series.
  • Ronny Cedeno didn’t help his cause in my book when he swung at the first pitch as a pinch hitter for Lilly. The Cubs had just gotten Michael Wuertz up to get ready. I would have liked to see him take a few pitches.
  • Is it just me, or does having the game on ESPN just make it seem more intense? I get excited by it.

    STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA

  • First Star – Cole Hamels (35.1%)
  • Second Star – Aaron Rowand (21.9%)
  • Third Star – Ryan Theriot (9.7%)
  • Turd of the Game – Ted Lilly (-16.9%)

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  • Game 104 – Open Thread

    Monday, July 30th, 2007

    Scouting Report on todays starters from MLB.com
    Cole Hamels – Hamels pitched seven strong innings against the Nationals, allowing two earned runs on six hits. His night was done well before the game was decided and, though he was denied his 12th win of the season, the Phillies won the game in extras. Hamels tried to get a win on his own bobblehead giveaway night, but the Nats rallied in the ninth inning. He’s allowed two or fewer walks in his past four starts.

    Ted Lilly – Lilly has won his last seven decisions and has a 2.77 ERA since June 15, giving up 17 earned runs over 55 1/3 innings. He’s also recorded a hit in four straight starts. In his last outing against the Cardinals, he gave up one run on six hits over seven innings. He’s the first Cubs lefty to win 11 games since Greg Hibbard went 15-11 in 1993.

    View the Cubs career numbers vs. Cole Hamels – ESPN Splits

    View the game preview from Baseball Reference

    Who’s Hot

  • Pat Burrell – .435 / .570 / .758 in the month of July with 5 HR and 21 RBI
  • Ryan Howard – 10 HR’s in July
  • Shane Victorino – 9 SB and a .350 average in July

    Who’s Cold

  • Cole Hammels – 6.33 ERA in his last four starts
  • Abraham Nunez – .154 average in July
  • Pat Burrell – .203 / .370 / .364 on the road this year.

    Tonight’s Lineups

    Philadelphia Chicago
    S. Victorino – RF A. Soriano – LF
    T. Iguchi – 2B R. Theriot – SS
    J. Rollins – SS D. Lee – 1B
    R. Howard – 1B A. Ramirez – 3B
    A. Rowand – CF M. DeRosa – 2B
    P. Burrell – LF M. Murton – RF
    W. Helms – 3B A. Pagan – CF
    C. Ruiz – C J. Kendall – C
    C. Hamels – P T. Lilly – P


    News and Notes

  • Pending physicals, the Rangers have dealt Mark Teixeira and Ron Mahay to the Braves for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, and two prospects. (Source)
  • Chad Tracy (ARI) had a lubricating injection on Sunday. Is it just me or does this seem to make him a porn star?
  • The family of late St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock dropped a wrongful-death lawsuit against Mike Shannon’s restaurant stemming from the player’s death in April. (Source)
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  • Spotlight On A Hidden Gem

    Monday, July 30th, 2007

    I’d like to take a minute to highlight a very good Cubs blog that does things a slightly different way. Everyone is out there is giving their thoughts using words, but one blog is doing it with his artistic talents. I’m not talking Photoshop talents. Tim Souers does his talking with his art supplies.

    I first found Tim’s site, Cubby Blue, thanks to an e-mail asking for a link. I checked out his work and was very pleased with everything I saw. He does great work and has been doing it for awhile. I’d like to take the chance to show off some of my favorites from his portfolio of Cubs artwork.

    If you’ve never been to Tim’s site, shame on you. Take some time to visit and subscribe to his RSS feed. You’ll be glad you did.

    http://www.cubby-blue.com/

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    From Right Field

    Monday, July 30th, 2007

    Last week Joe, the awesomely cool proprietor of this internet establishment of Cubs fandom, asked me if I’d like to do a weekly column. What could I do? I jumped at the chance. I’ve managed to somehow pull the wool over his eyes to where he lets me post my thoughts on the Cubs any old time I want. And you lucky souls get to read it. To which I am truly sorry. No, honestly. I am sorry. I never meant for my inner thoughts on the Cubs to ever see the light of day. Mostly because they frighten me. They probably frighten you. I mean seriously, I wanted Cesar Izturis to be the starting shortstop. Surely something is very wrong in this head of mine. I even like Jacque Jones, and I keep pulling for Scott Eyre. How did I get one Joe Aiello, to let me ramble on a few times a week? It’s all in the wrists, my captive little readers.

    As we all know, there’s a lot more going on out there than just Cubs baseball. Calm down folks, the idiocy of that comment will pass…..just….wait….for…. it. With “From Right Field,” I’m going to attempt to tackle some stories outside of Northside baseball, and cover stories elsewhere in the MLB. Heck, maybe even something outside of baseball. It will all depend on my mood, which changes as often as the wind direction in Wrigley. Which brings me to why I’m even writing.

    We’ve all established our roots into Cubs fandom by some experience, family mantra, or the shear fact that being a White Sox fan is probably even more painful. At least the North Siders get the publicity, right? 2005? What the heck happened then? I jest, of course, as I have Sox fan friends. Silly little fellas and fella-ettes they are.

    My first experience with the Cubs dates back to 1983. My Dad took me out to the old ballgame one dreary April afternoon, to watch the Cubbies take on the Philadelphia Phillies. I can still see the field from our seats in the upper deck looking down the left field line. As an eight year old, I don’t recall much of the game, except that Ron Cey hit a home run that went right down that said left field line. I, being quite the “Penguin” fan, rejoiced at seeing my very first Cubs home run at Wrigley. It didn’t last long, as the crew in blue, called it foul after quick meeting. Which resulted in the immortal Jim Frey coming out to have a little “Come to Jesus” meeting with these fine umpires. They reversed the call, making it a home run once again. Lordy, this baseball is exciting stuff! Naturally, Philadelphia’s manager Pat Coralles, not to be outdone, discussed the matter further, which in turn resulted in the ball being called foul again. Benches cleared, and a brawl of mammoth proportions ensued. My eight year old brain was tumbling with thoughts of how cool baseball was. Homeruns, arguments, and full blown fist-a-cuffs. It can’t get any better than this! Where was this in my t-ball games?

    That one game, sparked my life long sentence of loving the Cubs. Through hell and high water, I’ve stood by them, although sometimes I’m more likely to be hiding quietly in the shadows. They’ve annoyed, tormented, loved back, and beaten me over the head these past thirty two years, and I wouldn’t change it for a lifetime of winning. This franchise is a fantastic character when each year a new chapter is written that is full of drama, comedy, horror, and sometimes a little science fiction. Players that have come and gone, some even welcomed back. Guys with names of Jody, Ryno, Leon, Shooter, One Dog, Mickey, Sammy, Moises, Kerry, and Bob. Yeah, that’s right. I said Bob.

    My love for the Cubs can be summed up in one little statement. It’s from the movie “Jerry Maguire,” to which I’m sure many of you will remember the scene. Jerry is discussing the latest contract negotiations between the NFL Cardinals and his ego bloated client, Rod Tidwell.

    Jerry says, “I am out here for you. You don’t know what it’s like to be ME out here for YOU. It is an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege that I will never fully tell you about, OK?”

    And so is my love for the Cubs.

    “From Right Field” will appear every Monday. Except in cases where Matt loses track of time while dreaming of Cesar Izturis.

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    Breakfast on the Farm

    Monday, July 30th, 2007

    Spotlight on Mark Holliman (Player Page) – This is one of my favorite Cub prospects and I’m not sure why. I tend to favor pitching prospects over hitting prospects, so that has to have something to do with it. Holliman is also a college guy, which is also something I tend to favor. High School players, especially pitchers just tend to be a lot more risky. Holliman is a 3rd round pick from 2005 out of the University of Mississippi. He didn’t get a chance to pitch in ’05, probably due to the college workload and a late contract signing, but he spent 2006 with High-A Daytona. He was average down there, but received a promotion for this season due to his age (23). He’s responded well with an ERA very close to being under 3.00. He’s cut down his walks a tad, but has seen his strikeouts drop as well. He’s not been dominating hitters, but he’s getting the job done. What has impressed me the most this season is his ability to be efficient with his pitches. He’s been able to get into the 7th, 8th, and even 9th inning fairly regularly, which is something that can’t be said of highly touted, Donald Veal. He’s probably not going to be better than a lower end of the rotation starter if he can’t begin to overpower the lesser competition, but for some reason I’m a big fan of his. I’m excited about seing him pitch next month when they come to Carolina.

    John Sickels had the following to say about Holliman in his prospect book (buy the book)

    Mark Holliman was drafted in the third round in 2005, out of the University of Mississippi. He made his pro debut last spring and pitched OK in the Florida State League, although he wasn’t spectacular. Working with a 90-92 MPH fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup, he has a four-pitch arsenal and tries to keep people off-balance by mixing his pitches at all points in the count. He is not overpowering, and when he makes a mistake high in the zone he can be hit hard. His ratios for Daytona were a mixed bag. He needs to improve his command within the strike zone at higher levels. Grade C</blockquote

    News and Notes

  • Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus released his minor league positional rankings for second base on Thursday. Our own Eric Patterson made the list at number 3.

    3. Eric Patterson, Cubs
    Age: 24.3
    Hitting: .302/.364/.489 atTriple-A (99 G)Patterson is such a different player than his older brother. Corey far surpasses him in terms of athleticism and tools, but Eric is much more of a baseball player, armed with sound instincts and a good approach. He√≠s also no slouch tools-wise, though, with above-average speed and enough juice in his bat to slug 12-18 home runs annually. He deserves a shot at the Cubs’ job in 2008, but the parent club is loaded with veteran infielders, which leaves Patterson with no obvious opening unless one is created for him. (Source)

    Tracked Players Results

    Team Results

  • AAA – Iowa 6, Salt Lake 1
  • AA – Tennessee 9, West Tenn 7
  • High-A – Daytona 9, Jupiter 1
  • A – Peoria 6, Dayton 5
  • Short Season – Boise 3, Vancouver 7
  • Arizona Rookie – Cubs 4, Athletics 7View the full organizational report from First Inning

    Don’t see someone listed in the tracked players report? Leave us a comment and we’ll be sure to add that name to the regular rotation.

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    Game 103 – Bring on the East

    Sunday, July 29th, 2007


    July 28th, 2007

    Teams

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
    Chicago 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2   6 13 0
    Cincinnati 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   0 3 0
    W – C. Zambrano (14-7)  L  - M. Belisle (5-8) S – None
    Homeruns: D. Lee (11)

    Box Score

    Imagine how nice it would have been to come back and get that win on Friday which would have given us the sweep of the Reds. Instead, we’ll come home riding a two game win streak and face the NL East.

    Carlos Zambrano tossed another gem to become the NL’s first 14 game winner this year. He’s been ridiculously good since the fight with Barrett and has begun to make a legit case for why he is the 2007 NL Cy Young leader. He predicted at the beginning of the season, as he did last year as well, that he would win the award this year. After the brutal start, it was looking as if he was on crack. Now, you have to wonder what winning a Cy Young in a contract year would do to the price tag he’s going to command. How much does it raise per season? $1 million? 2? I mentioned a few months ago that I wanted to see Zambrano traded because I was tired of him. I want to apologize and say that I was a moron. This is a contract that needs to get signed. With the departure of Michael Barrett, who figured to be the other big contract that was expiring, it’s vital that the Cubs pony up to keep this guy in a nice Cubs uniform. The key will be when the team sale takes place. If it happens early, the owner will probably want to make a splash of some sort to show the fans the serious commitment to winning. Signing Zambrano long term would be a just that move. On the other hand, if the team gets sold later in the off-season calendar, it could spell doom for re-signing Zambrano for the simple reason of who wants to wait around. We’ll just have to wait and see.

    Not only was big Z dominant on the mound today, he got the job done with the bat, picking up three hits at the plate in four at bats. I was curious about who the best hitting pitchers in the Majors were this year, so I decided to take a look. I used a minimum plate appearances of 50, which means you’ve really had a chance to show your stuff. 12 guys met that requirement coming into today’s game. Here is how they’ve looked:

    It looks like Zambrano is the best hitting in the NL as of right now. When he’s in the lineup, it’s almost as if we are playing with a DH. I really wish that he would stop trying to field every line drive with his pitching hand. He’s out there playing with reckless abandon, and we can’t afford that. He did it again today, but missed, thankfully. Len and Bob mention it every time he does it, and I think they’d like to see it stop just as much as I would.

    Aramis Ramirez had another nice game, and you have to wonder where we would be had he not re-signed this off-season. He’s quietly making not only a case for the MVP award, but also for his first gold glove award. He’s not their yet, but he’s close. He’s third in fielding percentage behind Pedro Feliz (SF) and Scott Rolen (STL). He’s committed just 5 errors, one behind Feliz and Rolen. The problem is, there isn’t a good way to definitively measure defensive play. It’s not just a matter of least amount of errors or highest fielding percentage. As we all know, the gold glove also takes into account what you do at the plate (don’t ask me why). I don’t think Ramirez will win it this year, but next year is definitely a possibility. How cool has it been to see his transformation into a legit gold glove candidate compared to where he was when he came to Chicago in 2003. Like Zambrano, I still have a criticism on Ramirez. He’s propensity to admire his long doubles is getting to the point where it’s turning into a Sammy Sosa-esque annoyance. Toward the end of the road, Sosa would hop and then bolt to 2nd only to be thrown out or narrowly be called safe. Ramirez is falling into that same trap and it’s going to end up getting him hurt.

    Alfonso Soriano seems to have broken out of his slump, but I’ve convinced myself that he’s just a streaky type of hitter. I have no statistical proof, and I’m too lazy to go looking for it today, but you have to admit that when he’s on, he’s hot as hell. When he’s off, he’s cold as ice. Hopefully, we’re in line for another one of those hot streaks, basepaths included. He picked up two steals today, and probably should have picked up a couple RBI’s on a homerun that was called a double due to fan interference. The replays were inconclusive, but I’m giving the hitter the benefit of the doubt. What was frustrating to me about the play was the baserunning mental lapse by Zambrano.

    RULE 3.16 – When there is spectator interference with any thrown or batted ball, the ball shall be dead at the moment of interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference.

    The idea of the umpire nullifying the interference essentially means that they give the baserunners the amount of bases it’s assumed they would have reached. For Zambrano, he was given third, but would have been given home as well had he not held up on the fly ball with two outs. My only guess is that he was either admiring it or really forgot how many outs there were. Thankfully, it was a play was didn’t factor into the outcome.

    Finally, Derrek Lee continues to make the critics stick it where the sun don’t shine as he’s got his power stroke back. He’s now hit 5 homers in the past 8 games and is up to 11 on the year. It’s not the 40 that I think we were all hoping for coming in, but at this point, it gives us the power we’re needing in the middle of the order.

    Misc. Notes

  • It appears that Al Yellon has changed his tune after calling for a trade of Sean Marshall for Jon Garland. After Marshall throws yet another solid game, suddenly he’s become valuable to Al. Come on Yellon, have a spine and stick to your beliefs for more than a day. (Source)
  • The Red had Scott Hatteburg in the leadoff spot today, which made me salivate. He’s one of my favorite hitters and I would love to see a guy like that hitting leadoff for us. I’m not saying we should go out and get him, because I would have no idea of where to put him, but his hitting approach makes me giddy. He takes walks and works deep into a count. MMMM, Walks!!!
  • Lou Piniella was flirting with Ken Griffey last night during the game. Griffey looked over into the Cubs dugout and Lou caught his eye. Lou stuck his tongue out and smiled. Isn’t that what you do when you like a girl and want her to notice you? Maybe Lou’s working his magic. Lou, can you pull A-Rod’s ponytail as well?
  • Changes have finally come to the veteran’s committee voting process, but unfortunately for Ron Santo, one of the changes was not to give him a complimentary induction to Cooperstown or to vote every year. Sorry Ron, better luck in 2009.
  • Jason Jennings got rocked today for the Astros, giving up 11 runs in just 0.2 innings of work.
  • Kerry Wood could be back as early as Thursday if all goes well this week in his rehab work.
  • Homeplate umpire, Ed Rapuano had a tough day today. He took a shot to the chest twice in areas that weren’t protected. Hopefully he has the day off tomorrow. He deserves it.

    STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA

  • First Star – Carlos Zambrano (42.3%)
  • Second Star – Aramis Ramirez (13.6%)
  • Third Star – Derrek Lee (10.3%)
  • Turd of the Game – Mike Fontenot (-9.0%)

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  • Game 103 – Open Thread

    Sunday, July 29th, 2007

    Scouting Report on todays starters from MLB.com
    Carlos Zambrano – Zambrano is coming off a win over the Cardinals, his second this season. In the game, he gave up two runs, five hits, three walks and struck out five. Since June 6, the animated right-hander is 8-2 with a 1.56 ERA, serving up 12 earned runs over 69 1/3 innings while striking out 71. He leads the NL in wins, and is moving up the ranks in strikeouts.

    Matt Belisle – Belisle remains winless since May 29 after his most recent start, a 5-3 loss against the Brewers on Tuesday night in Cincinnati. The right-hander was removed after giving up four earned runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings. In his past 10 starts, Belisle has given up an average of 3.7 earned runs and 7.4 hits in under six innings of work. In six of his past 10 starts, he’s settled for a no-decision.

    View the Cubs career numbers vs. Matt Belisle – ESPN Splits

    View the game preview from Baseball Reference

    Tracked Players Results

    Team Results

  • AAA – Iowa 2, Salt Lake 5
  • AA – Tennessee 3, West Tenn 1
  • High-A – Daytona 5, Jupiter 2
  • A – Peoria 0, Dayton 4
  • Short Season – Boise 1, Vancouver 3
  • Arizona Rookie – Cubs 3, Mariners 6

    View the full organizational report from First Inning

    Don’t see someone listed in the tracked players report? Leave us a comment and we’ll be sure to add that name to the regular rotation.

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