Archive for August, 2007

Game 133 – Preview

Friday, August 31st, 2007

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

CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs today acquired right-handed pitcher Steve Trachsel from the Baltimore Orioles for right-handed pitcher Rocky Cherry and infielder Scott Moore.

Trachsel, who returns to the organization that originally selected him in the eighth round of the 1991 Draft, is expected to be added to the Cubs’ roster this weekend. Chicago’s 40-man roster currently stands at 38 players.

The righthander joins the Cubs having recorded a quality start in each of his last four outings and in five of his last six starts with the Orioles, going 1-1 with a 2.37 ERA (10 ER/38.0 IP) in six starts this month. His 2.37 ERA is the fourth-lowest mark in the American League in August. Overall with the Orioles, Trachsel went 6-8 with a 4.48 ERA (70 ER/140.2 IP) in 25 starts this season.

The 36-year-old Trachsel has pitched in all or part of 15 major league seasons with the Cubs (1993-99),
Devil Rays (2000), Blue Jays (2000), Mets (2001-06) and Orioles (2007), compiling a 140-151 record with a 4.29 ERA (1166 ER/2440.0 IP) in 406 major league appearances, all but one as a starter.

A 1996 National League All-Star with the Cubs, Trachsel has posted double-digits in victories in seven seasons and made 30 or more starts in nine seasons. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder reached 200.0 innings pitched seven times.

Trachsel broke into the big leagues with the Cubs at the age of 23 in 1993 and was named National League Rookie Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News in 1994, going 9-7 with a 3.21 ERA in 22 starts for Chicago. He owns one of the only 10 Cubs one-hitters in the last 25 years (a 5-0 win vs. Cincinnati on May 13, 1996), he started the Cubs’ 1998 Wild Card tiebreaker and won 5-3 vs. San Francisco to clinch a post-season berth, and he was the Cubs’ Opening Day starter in 1999, the final season of his first stint with the organization.

During his first stint with the Cubs, Trachsel went 60-69 with a 4.35 ERA (554 ER/1146.1 IP) in 187 outings (186 starts). For the decade of the 1990s, Trachsel led all Cubs pitchers in wins, starts, innings pitched and strikeouts (829) in that span.

Cherry this season made his major league debut with the Cubs, going 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 12 relief appearances. The 28-year-old spent most of the 2007 campaign with Triple-A Iowa and went 2-0 with seven saves and a 4.59 ERA in 43 appearances, all but one in relief.

Moore has played in 18 games with the Cubs the last two seasons, batting .233 with two homers and five RBI at the major league level. He went 0-for-5 in two games with the Cubs earlier this season. The 23-year-old spent most of the 2007 season with Iowa and batted .265 with 19 homers and 69 RBI in 103 games at Triple-A.

Scouting Report on todays starters from MLB.com
Wandy Rodriguez – On the road again — four little words that have meant a big difference for Rodriguez. The left-hander owned a 2.28 ERA at home entering Sunday’s start against the Pirates. But Rodriguez’s road ERA is a whopping 7.80, the third largest difference in the Major Leagues since 1957 according to Stats, Inc. Rodriguez was roughed up the Pirates (four earned runs in five innings) and has given up 11 earned runs in his last 9.1 innings.

Sean Marshall – Marshall had been going through a rough August, without a quality start in four tries, but he rebounded in his last outing against the D-backs on Saturday. He allowed just one run on two hits over six innings of work, striking out five in picking up the victory. Marshall felt he was able to be more consistent with his location and is hoping to carry that through to his next start.

Additional Notes on Rodriguez
Assets: When he’s on, Rodriguez keeps his good fastball low in the zone and induces ground balls, while setting the heat up with a solid change and good breaking stuff.
Flaws: Command can be a problem, unable to establish a first-pitch strike often enough. Must work on his approach with runners on and on his endurance beyond the sixth inning.

Thoughts From Last Night
The thought that keeps coming to my mind is that Alfonso Soriano does not look healthy. He says he’s 90%, but unless that means 90% injured, I can’t see how it would be true. Are you guys worried with what you’ve been seeing? He’s limping and dragging that injured leg. I’m scared to death. I would really like to see us rest him starting tomorrow when the roster expands. It’s looking more and more like we’re going to the playoffs and a healthy Soriano would be a huge plus for us.

View the game preview from Baseball Reference for all sorts of useful information including how our guys have faired against today’s starter, bullpen rest report, and much more.

Tracked Players Results

Team Results

  • AAA – Iowa 3, Memphis 6
  • AA – Tennessee 5, Carolina 2
  • High-A – Daytona 6, St. Lucie 7
  • A – Peoria 3, Quad Cities 1
  • Short Season – Boise 8, Spokane 7
  • Arizona Rookie League – Cubs 4, Athletics 0

    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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  • Game 132 – Preview

    Thursday, August 30th, 2007

    Scouting Report on todays starters from MLB.com
    Manny Parra – Instead of using righty Yovani Gallardo on regular rest the Brewers are expected to pitch Parra, who would make his second big league start. The Cubs are 12-20 against left-handed starters this season and entered the series batting .252 against left-handed pitching overall and .274 against right-handers. Parra’s only other start was July 28 at St. Louis, his third Major League appearance. Parra pitched six innings against the Cardinals, allowing three runs, one of them earned.

    Ted Lilly – Lilly rebounded from a couple of poor recent starts but took a hard-luck loss on Saturday against the D-backs. He had given up 11 runs over his previous two starts, but held the D-backs to two runs on just four hits over six innings. Lilly struck out eight and didn’t walk a batter. However, he made one mistake to Conor Jackson, a fastball out over the plate, and Jackson parked it for a two-run homer that was enough to saddle Lilly with the loss.

    What to Watch For
    Facing a pitcher making his second major league start in the heat of a pennant race and countering with our most consistent starter all year, there is no excuse for why we shouldn’t come away with a win of the game and the series this evening. I will accept no less.

    View the game preview from Baseball Reference for all sorts of useful information including how our guys have faired against today’s starter, bullpen rest report, and much more.

    Roster Move(s)

  • The Cubs have sent Buck Coats to the Reds for a player to be named later. Remember, the Cubs are still owed a player from Pittsburgh as well from the Ceasar Izturis trade.
  • The Cubs have sent Clay Rapada to Detroit via waivers, which satisfies the player we owed them from the Craig Monroe deal.

    News and Notes

  • Tyler Colvin, the Cubs first round pick last year, is preparing to play for Team USA (Source) and was mentioned as the 12th best CF in the minors in Kevin Goldstein’s Future Shock column on Center Fielders:

    A first-round pick last year, Colvin has good numbers on the surface, reaching Double-A in his full-season debut and accumulating 225 total bases in 118 games. Unfortunately, the bad news balances out the good, for the most part. Colvin’s over-aggressive approach has led to just 14 walks in 462 at-bats, including just four in 55 games since a promotion to Tennessee. In addition, Colvin’s ability to play center has come into question, leading us to one of the tenets of prospect analysis–-when there are whispers that a player might have to move off a position, the chances are overwhelming that in the end that player will move off the position. There’s lots to like here, but still lots of work to be done, and if the walks don’t reach something approaching an even marginally acceptable level, then none of his other skills will matter much. (Source)

    Tracked Players Results

    Team Results

  • AAA – Iowa 3, Memphis 1
  • AA – Tennessee 4, Chattanooga 5
  • High-A – Daytona 0, St. Lucie 11
  • A – Peoria 5, Kane County 0
  • Short Season – Boise 9, Spokane 0

    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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  • Game 131 – Let’s Talk Z

    Thursday, August 30th, 2007


    August 29th, 2007

    Teams

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
    Milwaukee 0 0 0 1 1 0 4 0 0   6 11 0
    Chicago 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0   1 9 2
    W – B. Sheets (11-4)  L  – C. Zambrano (14-11) S – None
    Homeruns: None

    Box Score

    Rather than waste our time talking about something that’s not on everyone’s mind and instead, cut right to the chase. Let’s have a good discussion in the comments about Zambrano. In order for it to work, you’ve got to participate. Check back throughout the day and read the comments, participate. It’s therapy. Get it all out. Here are some ideas for topics:

  • Based on Zambrano’s recent struggles, is he still your game 1 starter in the first round of the playoffs?
  • What seems to be his problem out there? Why can’t he win # 15?
  • Do you feel he concentrates too much on what he does at the plate?
  • Are you worried about the cramping issues?
  • Does the big contract he signed make you nervous? If the Cubs had 1 day to take it back, would you want them to?
  • Does Carlos Zambrano need to “start his season over” again like he did earlier in the year? That would put him on season # 3.

    Let’s talk it up. Can we get 50 comments? I think we can.

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  • Game 131 – Preview

    Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

    Scouting Report on todays starters from MLB.com
    Ben Sheets – The team thought right-hander Ben Sheets might be able to pitch on Aug. 25 in San Francisco, but a second blister on his middle finger derailed those hopes. Now they are shooting for this series in Chicago, a key showdown between the National League Central’s top two teams. Sheets has not pitched since mid-July because of torn tissue around a tendon in his middle finger, and the blisters prolonged his time on the shelf. He threw in the outfield on Tuesday and said he expected to be ready to go.

    Carlos Zambrano – Zambrano walked four and gave up six hits over 5 1/3 innings in his last start against the Giants. He is 0-for-August, and has fallen short in four tries at his 15th win. Big Z also has yet to win since signing his $91.5 million contract with the Cubs. Zambrano has to watch the walks – he walked three in one inning, including a free pass to pitcher Matt Cain, who later hit a two-run homer. Zambrano is 2-0 against the Brewers so far this season.

    Additional Notes on Sheets:
    Assets: With a fastball that can reach into the upper-90s, Sheets keeps hitters off balance by mixing in a hard breaking curve. He has tremendous control and doesn’t shy away from working inside.

    Flaws: Hitters have a lot of success on the first pitch. Tends to slow down in the middle innings, but can pick it back up for the later frames.

    What to Watch For
    After a bad start last outing, tonight is the night we need him to show he’s worth the money he just received. Let’s look for 7 innings of work with limited to no walks and a cool temper at the plate. No temper tantrums and no fielding with your throwing hand.

    View the game preview from Baseball Reference for all sorts of useful information including how our guys have faired against today’s starter, bullpen rest report, and much more.

    News and Notes

  • Inside the Ivy takes some time to talk about Neal Cotts. Remember him? (Source)
  • Ryan Harvey and Nate Samson will be headed to Winter Ball in Hawaii this year.
  • Clark Hardman went 4 for 5 for Mesa

    Tracked Players Results

    Team Results

  • AAA – Iowa 8, Memphis 2
  • AA – Tennessee 7, Chattanooga 5
  • High-A – Daytona – No Game
  • A – Peoria 9, Kane County 10
  • Short Season – Boise 2, Spokane 3
  • Arizona Rookie – Cubs 7, Padres 2

    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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  • Game 130 – So Far So Good

    Wednesday, August 29th, 2007


    August 28th, 2007

    Teams

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
    Milwaukee 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0   3 8 1
    Chicago 0 0 0 0 1 0 4 0 X   5 9 0
    W – R. Hill (8-7)  L  – S. Linebrink (4-6) S – R. Dempster (22)
    Homeruns: None

    Box Score

    I mentioned that sweeping this series would all but eliminate the Brewers from this race and I’ll stick by that despite some disagreement. If we end this series at 4.5 games up on the Brewers, coupled with the fact that we don’t play them again this season and how they’ve played, there is no way they come back to be a factor. Right now, the Cardinals are the team we need to worry about, and we have five games still to play with them.

    Starting Pitchers
    Both starters looked decent last night on a night where it figured to be a hitter’s affair. Rich Hill continues to reinstate my confidence in him with another good start last night. This is the best time possible for him to begin to figure it out again. If the season were to end today, he’s my number three starter for the first series. He’s been more dominant than Jason Marquis and Sean Marshall, though Marshall at times has been close. I really think it will come down to those two as we move closer to October, with Marquis going to the pen as the long relief man.

    Hill struck out five of the first six hitters he faced, and made the hitters in the first inning look silly by getting two of them on a called strike. I love called strike three more than any other type of strike out. To me, it shows the pitcher out thinking the hitter and just dominating them. If the pitch is good enough to be called a strike, the hitter should have been protecting. The fact that they’re not swinging means they’re not expecting that pitch and are totally fooled, or they just don’t have a very good eye. Rich Hill made some good hitters look pretty bad in the first two innings. In the end, we got seven innings out of him and no walks, which is exactly what you want from your starter and were able to turn it over to the pen for the last two. Both Howry and Dempster also struck out two and closed the door. When the game was finished, the Cubs pitches did not issue a walk all night. That’s something we need to do more of.

    What are your thoughts on Rich Hill? Is he your number three starter if the playoffs started right now?

    Roster Moves
    Reinstated OF Alfonso Soriano from the 15-day disabled list and optioned LHP Carmen Pignatiello to Triple-A Iowa; Outrighted C Koyie Hill to Triple-A Iowa.

    Just to explain a little on these, starting with the Soriano reinstatement. I was a little surprised to see Pignatiello optioned to make room, but it makes sense when you think of it. With the rosters expanding to as many as 40 on September 1st, the Cubs probably wanted to keep that extra outfielder on the team to give Soriano a rest late in the game if needed. An 11 man pitching staff can be something Lou can deal with for a few days while we wait for the roster expansion.

    Koyie Hill had nothing to do with Alfonso Soriano. You may remember that on the 20th, the Cubs designated K. Hill for assignment and placed him on waivers. The purpose of this move was to make room on the 40 man roster for Henry Blanco who was returning from the 60 day DL. Once Hill cleared waivers (i.e. – No one wanted him), the Cubs have the ability to either release him, or assign him to the minor leagues. The Cubs chose to “outright” him to Iowa, meaning that he didn’t have to use an option. We will not see K. Hill up this September.

    Random Stat
    A few days ago, we debated what to do with Soriano and the leadoff spot. Someone mentioned that Soriano sees less pitches than Theriot and that he’s a hack. I agreed when I read the comment, but was surprised to see that it wasn’t entirely true. I wanted to show you what I found.

    This year’s pitch per plate appearance:

    Soriano: 3.66
    Theriot: 3.59

    Hmmm, what does that do for our opinions? I’m not sure.


    STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA

  • First Star – Jacque Jones (32.1%)
  • Second Star – Jeff Suppan (20.9%)
  • Third Star – Corey Hart (14.0%)
  • Turd of the Game – Scott Linebrink (-58.8%)
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