Archive for July, 2007

Game 99 – Go For the Jugular

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007


July 25th, 2007

Teams

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
Chicago 0 0 0 2 4 0 0 1 0   7 14 1
St. Louis 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0   1 8 0
W – T. Lilly (11-4)  L  - A. Wainwright (9-8) S – None
Homeruns: None

Box Score

It looked like tonight was going to be a pitchers duel between Ted Lilly and Adam Wainwright. Unfortunately, for Mr. Wainwright and the joy of Cubs fans, the bottom fell out. The fourth inning saw timely hitting by a plethora of Cubbies. The hit parade continued for Jacque Jones, Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot, and Aramis Ramirez. Cliff Floyd also looks like he’s found his swing with some scalded balls, and hello, what do we have here, Alfonso Soriano showed up.

The middle infield was spectacular with four double plays. You just can’t find much to complain about tonight. It was a good old fashion beat down. One of the keys has been the Cubs approach against Albert Pujols. He looks completely flummoxed, yes I used the word flummoxed, against Cubs pitching. Kudos to Lou’s staff for figuring out whatever it is that has Fat Albert completely off balance.

We’ve taken two, let’s get the third, and end St. Louis’ misery tomorrow. The Brewers are literally within a fingers grasp. And a half game out from the Wild Card.

The big story, the Reds helped us out, and beat the Brewers. Two games back, and Milwaukee’s front office made a move to strengthen their bullpen. Perhaps the feel of hot Cub breath on their necks is making them a tad bit nervous?

Matt’s Notes: Bob Brenly (with an LY), made me laugh when he noted Adam Wainwright’s curveball broke like Mark Prior’s. “When Mark Prior is healthy.”

My wife and I like to pronounce So Taguchi’s name as, “Soooooo Tah Guchi!” I don’t know why. It just makes us giggle.

Matt’s Rant – Take it or Leave it: I’m getting a little tired of hearing about Josh Hancock’s death as being described as “tragic.” It was hardly tragic. He was intoxicated, decided to drive, and while impaired was talking on his cell phone and driving. I’d hardly call that tragic. What’s tragic is that he couldn’t control himself. Let’s close the book, and move on.

The above was edited by Matt, as it was worded poorly. He is also seeking sensitivity training.


STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA

  • First Star – Ted Lilly (18.6%)
  • Second Star – Mike Fontenot (14.2%)
  • Third Star – Cliff Floyd (12.9%)
  • Turd of the Game – Adam Wainwright (-31.3%)

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  • Game 99 – Open Thread

    Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

    ***** Breaking News *****

    The Milwaukee Brewers have acquired reliever Scott Linebrink from the Padres in exchange for Joe Thatcher (P), Will Inman (P), and Steve Garrison (P)

    I’ll have a full breakdown of this deal on Friday during the midday.

    Scouting Report on todays starters from MLB.com
    Ted Lilly – Lilly is coming off a win over the Giants in which he gave up three runs on six hits and one walk over five innings. His outing was shortened in order to help him stay strong in the second half. He did serve up career homer No. 752 to Barry Bonds, his third off the lefty. Lilly is 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA in four July starts.

    Adam Wainwright – Wainwright is finally pitching like he expected to do all along. He’s on a roll, with a 2.86 ERA over his past 11 starts, and he’s doing nearly everything right. Wainwright’s throwing more strikes and allowing fewer homers, he’s getting the ball down, he’s coming at hitters with his full assortment — fastball, curveball, slider/cutter and changeup — he’s a load when he’s going right, and these days, he’s going right.

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

    View the game preview from Baseball Reference

    Tonight’s Lineups

    St. Louis Chicago
    D. Eckstein – SS A. Soriano – LF
    S. Taguchi – CF R. Theriot – SS
    A. Pujols – 1B D. Lee – 1B
    J. Encarnacion – RF A. Ramirez – 3B
    S. Rolen – 3B C. Floyd – RF
    C. Duncan – LF M. Fontenot – 2B
    Y. Molina – C J. Jones – CF
    B. Ryan – 2B K. Hill – C
    A. Wainwright – P T. Lilly – P
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    Through The Rear View

    Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

    Today is the first in a weekly column that I am going to write in a “Where are they now?” sort of format. The column is devoted to former Cub players. In the process of deciding who would lead off my column, I stumbled across this tidbit and my choice became easy.

    “After a successful, but frustrating, five-inning outing Sunday, sources said Olsen scuffled with fellow starter Sergio Mitre in a tunnel behind the Florida dugout during the bottom of the fifth.”

    That news was in regards to Marlins pitcher Scott Olsen, fighting with former Cub Sergio Mitre. News of former Cubs always catches my eye, but this had the makings of something a little more interesting. There were several versions of the story, but from most accounts it appears that Olsen (emerging candidate for MLB Bonehead of The Year) was being an ass his usual self. His frustration boiled over to berating a clubhouse attendant for a loose button on his uniform shirt. Supposedly Mitre admonished Olsen for his behavior and that is when all hell broke loose. Olsen ended up getting a two game suspension for insubordination. I really liked the sound of Mitre being the good guy. Put that together with the fact that he is having a decent season, and it made profiling Sergio an easy choice for me.

    A little history: The Cubs selected Sergio Mitre in the 7th round of the 2001 amateur draft. His rise through the Cubs lower farm system was pretty quick, spending just a year each at Boise and Lansing. His steady improvements at the minor league levels made him a candidate for a call up when Mark Prior and Kerry Wood began to have health problems. Mitre made the jump from AA West Tennessee for his big league debut in July of 2003. In a spot start for an injured Mark Prior, Mitre drew a tough first assignment. He went up against Greg Maddux and the Braves at Turner Field. It proved to be more than the 22 year-old Mitre was ready for. In 3 and 2/3 innings he gave up 8 earned runs on 10 hits and three walks. He went on to take the loss and was sent back down to West Tenn the very next day. Despite his unmemorable major league experience, Mitre enjoyed reasonable success that year in AA ball. All totaled Mitre struck out 128 in 145 innings of work at West Tenn and continued to show promise. All of that promise, along with Prior being hurt AGAIN, led to a 2004 opening day roster spot for Mitre. He would go on to start nine times for the injured Prior, but with fairly unremarkable results. Mitre would spend most of 2004 and 2005 bouncing between Iowa and Chicago. Yet in 2005, he would end up enjoying his longest and most successful run with the big league club. He appeared in a total of 21 games and pitched 60.1 innings as both a starter and reliever that year. The highlight of which, was a complete game shutout against the Florida Marlins. Which may have ended up being an audition of sorts, because in December of 2005 the Cubs shipped Mitre to Florida as part of the Juan Pierre trade.

    Now in his second season with the Marlins, the 26 year-old Mitre appears to have finally found his stride. After an injury plagued 2006 campaign, Mitre came back strong for the start of 2007. He had a very good spring for the Marlins and earned himself a spot in the rotation. Since then he has gone on to start 18 games and pitch 105 innings. While his record of 4-5 may not look especially great, he is playing pretty well. The Marlins team is not real good and the bullpen has let Mitre down several times resulting in quite a few no decisions after quality outings. At the time that I started writing this column Mitre was sporting a 2.82 ERA, which was sixth best in all of baseball. However, perfect timing led to Mitre starting last night against the Diamondbacks, and he had a rough night. His ERA is now 3.34, still good enough to be ninth best in the National League. Despite not being a big strikeout guy, Mitre has individual numbers similar to Ben Sheets and Josh Beckett. He simply gets far less help, offensively and defensively. His control is better this year (BB/9 1.89), as well as his efficiency (P/IP 14.30). Unfortunately for Mitre, he is a ground ball pitcher on a team that ranks second to last in fielding percentage and tied for second in team fielding errors. In his return to Wrigley earlier this year, Mitre showed just how much he has grown since leaving the Cubs organization. He allowed just 3 hits, one walk and struck out 7 in just 4 innings of work. He left that game with a hamstring injury, but he looked good.

    Personally, my memories of Sergio Mitre have always been tied to the disappointments of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. It probably isn’t fair to lump him into that situation, it’s just hard not to. Mitre spent the early part of his career being shuffled around, based upon the health of those two guys. If the Cubs could have been more patient with Mitre he may have paid dividends for them. He was doing what all teams hope for out of a young prospect by improving every year at every level. Bad timing simply forced the Cubs to put him on a faster development schedule than he was capable of. Consequently, the team struggled to find his identity and pitching role. Now he appears settled as a starter for the Marlins.

    I don’t usually end up rooting for a lot of former Cub players to be successful. Yet, I always kind of liked Mitre and only hope for his continued success. Unless of course, his spot in the rotation comes up on September 25th, 26th, or 27th.

    As we drive on, that’s my look Through The Rear View.

    Through the Rear View appears every Wednesday. If you have a topic to suggest, send Tony an e-mail.

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    Breakfast on the Farm

    Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

    No spotlight today, but I wanted to discuss a comment from yesterday’s edition.

    Another nice outing for Donnie ~ Braden

    I’m hoping the comment was sarcastically. If not, here is why I was less than impressed by the outing and outings of his this season. Yesterday was yet another case of Veal being a thrower instead of a pitcher. He’s beginning to remind me a lot of Kerry Wood in the fact that he doesn’t pitch to contact. He works too deep in counts far too often and as a result, can’t seem to get deep in games against competition that should be below him at this level. In his last 10 outings, Veal has managed to get out of the 5th inning just twice, and through the 6th just once. Three of his last four outings he’s gone under five innings of work, and that “nice outing” in which he allowed 0 ER was due to an error he committed in the inning. If Veal wants to remain highly touted in this organization, he’s got to turn things around. My guess is he’s going to be back in AA next year.

    News and Notes

  • Kerry Wood threw 12 pitches in a scoreless inning on Tuesday night for the Class A Peoria Chiefs as he continued his rehab.
  • Milwaukee Brewers prospect, Angel Salome was suspended for 50 games Tuesday after testing positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance under baseball’s minor league drug program.Tracked Players Results

    Team Results

  • AAA – Iowa 10, Colorado Springs 3
  • AA – Tennessee 1, Carolina 1
  • High-A – Daytona – No Game
  • A – Peoria 9, Fort Wayne 3
  • Short Season – Boise 3, Spokane 9
  • Arizona Rookie – Cubs 5, Athletics 6View 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 98 – Whipping Boys Come Through Big

    Wednesday, July 25th, 2007


    July 24th, 2007

    Teams

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
    Chicago 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 1   4 10 2
    St. Louis 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 1   3 8 1
    W – C. Zambrano (13-7)  L  - K. Wells (4-13) S – R. Dempster (17)
    Homeruns: None

    Box Score

    Both Jacque Jones and Ronny Cedeno came through in the clutch with base hits to drive in runs and the Cubs added a much needed insurance run in the 9th to get this win. With the Brewers playing the Reds, it is essential that we take this series and then sweep the Reds. If we can do that, we should be able to take at least one game off that Brewer lead.

  • Jacque Jones is now hitting .304 in the last 28 days and .429 with a .520 OBP in the last seven. Please stop busting on him.
  • How much crap would Ronny Cedeno have gotten if his error would have allowed a run to score in the 7th?
  • Mark DeRosa left the game with left hamstring tendinitis. Is it just me or does it seem like we’re making roster moves at just the right times (i.e. – Ward gets hurt, DeRosa gets hurt, etc.)

    STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA

  • First Star – Aramis Ramirez (27.9%)
  • Second Star – Skip Schumaker (19.3%)
  • Third Star – Bob Howry (14.6%)
  • Turd of the Game – Albert Pujols (-28.9%)
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  • How can you not like this guy?

    Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

    Great interview with Len Kasper by the illustrious Desipio.com.

    Highlights:

  • Just how awful would Neifi have been playing without his beloved greenies?

    LEN: I just feel bad for all his fans.

  • I’ve been offered a book deal to write one akin to Sports Guy’s “Now I Can Die In Peace” after the Cubs finish their 100th championshipless season in 2008. Mine would be called, “Please Shoot Me In the Head.” Do I risk being all Dan Shaughnessy and profiting on my favorite team’s misery if I accept? Also, to save you the time of reading it, I’ve already written your dust jacket review. How does this sound? “The greatest book ever written. Makes ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ look like a steaming pile of dung.” Nice, huh?

    LEN: I think this would work better: “It’s the best thing I’ve read since last Thursday’s WGN blog post by Len Kasper.”

    Score one for Lenny.

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  • Game 98 – Open Thread

    Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

    Scouting Report on todays starters from MLB.com
    Carlos Zambrano – Zambrano became the National League’s first 12-game winner with a victory over the Giants in his last start. The Cubs took advantage of a 9-0 lead to give Zambrano a breather, pulling him after 80 pitches and five innings. He gave up two hits in the shortened start and struck out three. Since June 6, when he declared he was starting his season over, Zambrano is 7-2 with a 1.43 ERA and has given up 10 earned runs over 63 innings, while striking out 66.

    Kip Wells – Good news has been more common than bad news for Wells lately, even if it hasn’t been all sunshine and light. Wells is clearly headed in the right direction, as his eight excellent innings against the Marlins showed. He’ll get the ball to start a critical homestand, as the Cards have a week of games against the two teams they’re chasing in the standings.

    View the Cubs career numbers vs. Kip Wells – ESPN Splits

    View the game preview from Baseball Reference

    Transactions

  • Ronny Cedeno recalled from Iowa (AAA)
  • Scott Moore optioned to Iowa (AAA) to make room for Cedeno

    Useless Stat of the Day
    Jacque Jones has hit Kip Wells to a .421 clip in 19 career at bats against him with two home runs

    Tonight’s Lineups

    St. Louis Chicago
    A. Kennedy – 2B A. Soriano – LF
    S. Schumaker – RF R. Theriot – SS
    A. Pujols – 1B D. Lee – 1B
    C. Duncan – LF A. Ramirez – 3B
    J. Edmonds – CF C. Floyd – RF
    S. Rolen – 3B M. DeRosa – 2B
    A. Miles – SS J. Jones – CF
    Y. Molina – C J. Kendall – C
    K. Wells – P C. Zambrano – P
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  • Watch out Peoria Here Comes Wood

    Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

    Kerry Wood says he does not have a timetable for his return, but as we start to hear of strikeouts and ERA, I believe Cub fans are starting to take notice a little bit. Taking notice aside, I don’t think Cub fans are ready to go down that road again with a player that has provided such excitement and broke so many hearts.

    Tonight, Wood takes one step closer in his rehabilitation process as he makes a rehab start for the Class A Peoria Chiefs against the Fort Wayne Wizards at O’Brien Field. He is expected to throw one inning, and if the outing goes well, Wood will pitch again on Thursday and Friday against Dayton. The Chiefs will also have Cubs catcher Henry Blanco on the roster for the duration of the home stand as a catcher and designated hitter.

    Wood was placed on the disabled list April 1st with tendinitis in his right shoulder and has been making simulated and rehab starts at the Cubs Spring Training facility in Mesa, AZ. In the Arizona Rookie League he made four appearances from July 14-21 going 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA. In four innings of work he allowed four hits and one walk while striking out five.

    Most Cub fans are very familiar with Woods history. No pitcher in major-league history reached 1,000 strikeouts more quickly, either in games or innings pitched. He had a fastball once clocked at 102 miles per hour and a devastatingly hard curve/slurve that tumbled a foot in its journey to home plate; Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell once said of the pitch, I got no chance.

    Selected with the 4th overall pick in 1995, Wood made his Cubs debut in 1998 with a 13-6 record and a 3.40 ERA. He made national headlines on May 6th, 1998 when he tied the Major League record with 20 strikeouts in a 1-hitter against Houston. He won the 1998 National League Rookie of the Year as the Cubs won the NL Wild card. Wood went 14-11 in 2003 while leading the NL in strikeouts and making the All-Start team. Wood helped the Cubs to the 2003 Central Division title and in the NLDS he went 2-0 with a 1.76 ERA and also hit a home run. Last season, Wood made 10 starts in 21 appearances and was 3-4 with a 4.23 ERA. He entered the 2006 season with a 70-54 career record, a 3.57 ERA and 1286 strikeouts in just 1109 innings.

    Wood said he feels like he has turned the corner. Even if he has, the culture in Chicago has changed. In years past, there were visions of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior taking us to October, striking out everyone on the way. Now fans are more interested in the play of rookies Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot, the fastball of Marmol and the reemergence of Ronny Cedeno.

    While I believe most Cub fans wish nothing but the best for Wood, they have zero expectations left for him. Maybe that is the way it is supposed to be. Can he come back in late September and revitalize a bullpen that has more than its share of ups and downs this season. Should we even expect him to?

    Does Kerry Woods arm have a few ounces of beauty left in it?

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    Reason # 4072 to quit using the term “closer”

    Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

    I want to preface by saying that I was not disappointed to see the Brewers go down in extra innings to the Reds. What disappointed me was the way it happened. With the Brewers in the road in Cincy, they have the opportunity to save their “closer” for that big situation that warrants a save. I normally have no issue with this, but last night the most critical situation in the game took place with Francisco Cordero sitting in the bullpen.

    Ned Yost brought in Grant Balfour to face the Reds in the bottom of 12th inning, which was fine. Balfour began the inning with a walk to Jeff Conine and a four pitch walk to Pedro Lopez. At that point, it was clear that Balfour was not the guy to have out there. Ned Yost should have called the pen after the leadoff walk and had Cordero stir and begin to throw. After seeing a four pitch walk, it’s time to walk out to the mound real slowly to talk to Balfour and stall for time.

    David Ross comes to the plate and hits a ball to Balfour who makes a bonehead play to third to try and get the lead runner. He was called safe and the bases are now loaded with a guy who didn’t appear to have anything good working for him on the mound. No move for the pen, and Javier Valentin singles on the first pitch to win the game for the Reds.

    I’m not saying that the move to Cordero should have come to start the inning. My frustration is with managers that seem to think a closer, which is the dumbest term every invented, should only pitch the last three outs of the game when their team is winning by one, two, or three runs. If the biggest situation of the game is bases loaded and one out in the 7th inning, why not use your best guy in that situation? Protecting that inning is just as important as protecting the last inning. They all count the same.

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