Archive for August, 2007

Game 125 – Rich Hill Has Returned?

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007


August 22nd, 2007

Teams

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
Chicago 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 6 1
San Francisco 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 7 1
W – C. Marmol (3-1)  L  - P. Misch (0-3) S – R. Dempster (20)
Homeruns: None

Box Score

  • I came into this game really believing that Rich Hill had returned to form after his last start. I left the game tonight with mixed feelings. If you look at the box score and see two runs and 10 strikeouts through seven innings of work, you think that he must have been dealing all night. That’s true, if you take away the first couple innings of work when the Giants hit him awfully hard. It seemed like every hitter put the ball in play strongly. Thankfully, Hill settled down and was actually quite good the rest of the way. I’m still pretty confident that he can get the job done for us, and it’s important to remember that he should be able to get better the more outings he has. Keep in mind that this is his first full year in the big leagues.
  • Barry Zito hasn’t been very good this year, especially when you factor in the amount of money he was paid by the Giants in the off-season. However, both times we’ve face him, he’s been great. If you only saw those two starts from him, you would think his year is going quite well. Thankfully, we’re done seeing Mr. Zito for the rest of the season.
  • Early in the game, the Cubs walked Barry Bonds intentionally and I wasn’t sure why. Sure, he’s the all time homerun leader, but he’s not as good as he was in the past. Late in the game, I can understand not wanting to pitch to him, but with the score at 0-0 in the early innings, there is no reason to no pitch to Bonds. Have some onions and throw to him. If he beats you, he beats you.
  • This was a game we could have won in regulation innings had we taken care of business in the 8th inning. After bunting the leadoff man to second, the Cubs had two hitters come to the plate needing just one single. Take care of business so we don’t have to go to extras, where we are 2-7 on the year.
  • I loved the idea of the squeeze bunt in the 10th after we had already scored the go ahead run. It’s worth taking a chance on in an effort to extend the lead and give Dempster a cushion in the 10th.
  • Jake Fox’s play in RF trying to pick up the ball and throw home was just embarrassing.
  • Cliff Floyd has been money in this series with two big hits. He’s had the two run single in game one and now the leadoff double in the 10th to spark the win. It’s good to have him back. Hopefully this helps ease the pain of his loss and helps him keep his mind off it.

    STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA

  • First Star – Barry Zito (33.9%)
  • Second Star – Carlos Marmol (25.3%)
  • Third Star – Rich Hill (23.0%)
  • Turd of the Game – Pat Misch (40.3%)

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  • Game 125 – Preview

    Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

    Scouting Report on todays starters from MLB.com
    Rich Hill – Hill is coming off a win against the Cardinals, in which he gave up one run on three hits over seven innings. The lefty also struck out seven. It was an encouraging performance after his previous outing against Colorado, when he was roughed up. Against the Cardinals. Hill was able to locate his fastball well and effectively use his changeup and curve. His only mistake was a pitch that catcher Jason Kendall wanted low and inside but ended up up and away to Albert Pujols. Pujols did what he does – hit it out for a home run.

    Barry Zito – Zito was masterful in his last outing, twirling seven one-hit innings to beat the Marlins. The left-hander walked two and struck out five to win for the first time in four starts. Zito faced the Cubs one other time this season, picking up the win on July 17 after allowing one earned run and striking out eight in seven innings.

    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

  • First round pick, Josh Vitters made his debut with the Arizona Rookie team. He’s been added to the player tracker.
  • Left-handed pitcher Michael Bunton has been called up to Boise from the Mesa Cubs
  • Tony Thomas was mentioned in the BA Hot Sheet:

    Despite being one of the most productive hitters in the country this spring at Florida State, scouts generally were not overwhelmed with Thomas’ tools. He hit .430/.522/.733 for the Seminoles and was a first-team All-American, so the Cubs grabbed him in the third round. Thomas has so far rewarded the Cubs by becoming one of the best hitters in the Northwest League, hitting .308/.388/.566 on the year, including .368/.443/.627 in August. He also has 19 steals in 20 attempts as a professional after stealing 31 in 36 tries at Florida State. A big concern for Thomas, however, is his defense, as scouts felt it was below average in college, and he has already made seven errors in 24 games at second base. If Thomas does not improve enough defensively to stay at second base, his value would be significantly reduced. (Source)

  • Brian Dopirak was mentioned in the BA Hot Sheet:

    After crushing the Midwest League three years ago, nothing has gone right for Dopirak since then. His stock has plummeted, both in the system and on the prospect scene in general. Dopirak broke his foot on Opening Day last year and his swing was never right at Double-A West Tenn when he returned. After hitting just .218 in Double-A this season, the Cubs sent him back to Daytona where he’s steadily progressed over the last two months. Last week, Dopirak hit .391 to improve his overall numbers to .279/.327/.503 in 298 at-bats, and he’s showing the power of old with 16 homers, 19 doubles and 55 RBIs. (Source)

    Tracked Players Results

    Team Results

  • AAA – Iowa 1, Memphis 3
  • AA – Tennessee 1, Mobile 6
  • High-A – Daytona 11, Jupiter 7
  • A – Peoria 4, Wisconsin 5
  • Short Season – Boise 3, Vancouver 4
  • Arizona Rookie – Cubs 5, Angels 3

    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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  • View Through The Rear View #5

    Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

    I cannot tell all of you how much I enjoy writing this column. Every week is an adventure and it has been so much fun. I do not pretend to remember all of these events, or players from the top of my head. I do quite a bit of research for these columns and it ends up being a lot of fun. I see names or particular events that recall vivid memories of baseball, or just life in general. That is my sickness in being a Cubs fan. In terms of baseball, it is all I have ever known. Because of that, there are players and events that tie themselves together with my life. So every week, when I begin a new column I get to take little trips down memory lane. I find myself enjoying memories and being reminded of things that have long since slipped my mind. That is why, not every player that I have profiled has been a particular fan favorite, or even favorites of mine. Mostly they are just guys who occupy a place in time for me personally. I have been a Cubs fan for most of my life, so there is a certain nostalgia involved when I see or hear a particular name that sparks a particular memory for me. This week’s column is no different.

    The early 90′s were tough for me, they were for most Cub fans, but I think I took them particularly hard. I spent the late summer of 1989 in basic training. I was thrilled about the Cubs all season long, only to spend the whole post season locked away from baseball. Stolen glimpses of sports pages told me that things weren’t going well for the Cubs and their eventual demise was a huge let down. Yet, there I was playing the eternal optimist and building pretty high hopes for Cubs baseball in the 90′s. I would spend the first half of the decade living in St. Louis and dealing with the fact that despite the hopeful beginnings to the decade, the Cubs could finish no better than 4th in the NL East from 1990-1993. Losing guys like Dawson and Maddux was tough enough, but then came 1994. The baseball strike and Sandberg’s retirement was testing my love for the Cubs, and baseball in general.

    During the spring of 1995 a friend of mine, a Kansas City Royals fan no less, would end up getting me excited about baseball all over again. I remember the day perfectly because this friend, Kevin, who was a huge Royals fan ran into me at a bar. We didn’t see each other often, but when we did, it was usually baseball that we talked about. When he asked me about the Cubs, my indifference was obvious. Kevin could not believe how down I was on the Cubs, and how little I knew about the upcoming season. Being a good guy, he could tell that I needed a little lift. He talked rabidly about the Cubs talented young outfield, in particular, the addition of the Royal’s Brian McRae. I knew who Brian McRae was, it was hard not to. Over the last few years a lot had been made about Brian playing for his managing father, Hal McRae, in Kansas City.

    Fulfilling a family legacy, Brian McRae was drafted by the Royals in 1985. The same year that his father was helping them win a world series. Brian would make his eventual major league debut in August of 1990. One year after Brian’s debut, his father would become the manager of the Royals in 1991. Brian would end up playing three full seasons for his father in Kansas City before being trade to the Cubs for Geno Morones and Derek Wallace in 1995. Despite McRae never really becoming a star, the Cubs really got one over on KC.

    To tell you the truth, there isn’t too much glamour to McRae’s short Cubs career. There really isn’t too much glamour to his entire career. McRae was, by definition, a journeyman. He was durable, a decent hitter, and good base stealer. What makes me mention Brian McRae is his attitude and demeanor.

    Early in the 1995 season when the Cubs came to St. Louis, Kevin bought some bleacher seat tickets and treated me to a game. Kevin wore a McRae Royals jersey and I wore an old Sandberg jersey. We went early and hung around during BP. McRae was shagging fly balls and we were hanging over the wall enjoying some of the give and take you don’t see so much anymore. McRae noticed Kevin’s jersey and talked with us quite a bit. He was super nice and personable. Even to the Cardinals fans who were giving him a hard time. We were BS-ing with McRae and when he went in to hit we jokingly told him to try and hit a couple to us. McRae knocked a couple around the park and then very obviously began trying to hit balls our way. Not known for his power we weren’t sure if we would get a chance. Before long one particularly good crack of the bat sent a ball right at us. Leaning into flower bed that used to separate the bleachers and the outfield wall at Busch II, I strained against 5 or 6 other people to reach for the home run. I stretched to catch the ball and ‘WHAM!’ it hit the padding just out of our reach and went bouncing back in to the outfield. So close! We laughed it off and settled in to keep our first row bleacher seats for the game. When the Cubs took the field in the bottom of the first McRae ran out early, came straight to our section of the bleachers and tossed us each a ball. I still have mine to this day. The Cubs won and some of my faith was restored in baseball, and baseball players that day. I met McRae one other time a few years later, and I brought up that day to him. He laughed as if he remembered and signed an autograph for me. I don’t know if he really remembered it or not, but he acted as if he did and was just as friendly as that first day. McRae went on to be traded to the Mets, then to the Rockies, and eventually to the Blue Jays where he would end his 10 year career. He would also go on become an analyst for ESPN and currently works as a radio host for MLB.com.

    So while Brian McRae didn’t offer a whole lot to the baseball world, or to the Cubs. He did occupy a place in time in my life. When I needed a little pick me up from baseball, McRae gave it to me. Never mind the fact that he might have been hopped up on “greenies” while doing it. It was insignificant and fairly trivial, but it was something that I needed. Another peice of my life tied to the Cubs that I’ll never forget it.

    As we drive on, that’s my View 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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    Game 124 – The Jason Show

    Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007


    August 21st, 2007

    Teams

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
    Chicago 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5   5 7 0
    San Francisco 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   1 3 0
    W – S. Eyre (1-1)  L  - T. Lincecum (7-4) S – None
    Homeruns: None

    Box Score


    (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
    Derrek Lee slide across for another run in the 9th!!!

    I can’t tell you how frustrated I’ve been over the last few days. Between rain delays and bad internet connections, it seems like I haven’t put anything of substance together on here in weeks. I don’t know how good the connection will be this morning so I’m making this short.

    I’ve been doing some thinking about this team and this division of late and I still can’t seem to get my head around what is happening and going to happen. Part of me believes in my heart that it will turn into a one or two team race, but with all three teams playing so poorly, it just seems like it will come down to who wants to win a game on the last day. The Brewers have had their chance to run away and sputtered. We’ve had many opportunities to not only overtake, but begin to separate from the pack and haven’t taken advantage. Even the Cardinals surged themselves back into the mix with the additions of Rick Ankiel and Joel Pineiro only to fall back a few steps when they came to Chicago. It’s really a weird year for this Central division and I don’t know how it’s going to end.

    As far as last night goes, can we all agree that Tim Lincecum is really good? Remember, he’s a rookie and just 23 years old. He flat out dominated the Cubs last night for 8 innings and should have left the game at that point with a one run lead. None of our guys could hit him and no one was working the count. He had pitch counts under 10 four or five different innings and had only thrown 72 pitches through seven. That’s filthy good. I really debated just turning the game off after the 8th, but decided to hang in there. I’m glad I did.

    This is a series I’d like to see us sweep. We’ve got Rich Hill going today, and he “returned” in my eyes after his last start, facing Barry Zito who has struggled this season to live up to the hype. We close it out with Carlos Zambrano who hasn’t gotten his chance to stick a boot up someone’s butt yet since his contract facing Matt Cain. Cain is one of those hard luck starters similar to Rich Hill. He’s had 18 starts where the Giants have scored 3 or less for him. Only three times have they scored five or more for the poor kid. If we can get a sweep in this series, it gives us a little slack to play with against a better Arizona team. 4-2 road trip is what I’ll settle for at this point. 5-1 would have me ecstatic.

    Finally, it was so good to see Koyie Hill finally released. He was worthless and taking up a roster spot. Henry Blanco makes a return that I didn’t think would happen this year. It’s always good to see feel good things like that. Let’s go get em’ tonight. Be sure to check back around lunch for Tony’s latest edition of Through the Rear View.


    STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA

  • First Star – Jason Marquis (23.3%) Way to go Jason!!!!
  • Second Star – Jason Kendall (12.2%)
  • Third Star – Ryan Theriot (11.4%)
  • Turd of the Game – Brad Hennessey (-25.4%)


    Graph courtesy of Fan Graphs

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  • Game 123 – Preview Again

    Monday, August 20th, 2007

    Scouting Report on todays starters from MLB.com
    Joel Pineiro – The senior circuit certainly seems to agree with Pineiro, who has gotten deep into two games in a row and is throwing strikes. Whether it will continue remains to be seen, but he’s been a big lift for a rotation that is cranking out quality starts lately.

    Ted Lilly – Lilly was frustrated after his last start against the Reds. The lefty didn’t get a decision, giving up six runs on six hits over five innings. He threw 85 pitches, and just couldn’t make the adjustments in the game to get his rhythm. He faced the Cardinals on April 20 and lost, giving up two runs on four hits over seven innings.

    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 6, Memphis 3
  • AA – Tennessee – No Game
  • High-A – Daytona 6, Palm Beach 0
  • A – Peoria 4, Clinton 13
  • Short Season – Boise 0, Spokane 4
  • Arizona Rookie – Cubs – No Game
  • Dominican Summer League – Cubs – No Game

    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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  • From Right Field – On the Road

    Monday, August 20th, 2007

    As I’ve said before, if anyone still listens to me, I don’t go to games at Wrigley Field anymore. There is one exception to that rule, but I’ll divulge my Rule 17.6B at a later date. After I spent a ton of cash in 2005 on ten games, watching a terrible product, and dealing with more and more “dudes.” I called it quits. Then it struck me, I could still see my beloved Cubbies, but give my money to other more deserving teams. I’ll road trip to other stadiums to watch the Cubs! Hot damn, I’m a genius!

    I’ll be honest, I haven’t done this as much as I’d liked to, but I have seen games in Milwaukee (I know, wow what a trip!), Cleveland, and Phoenix. They’re all small market teams that really need the support more than the Cubs, so I feel better knowing where my hard earned coin is headed. Like Grady Sizemore’s contract….Mmmm, Grady Sizemore. I love me some Grady Sizemore. Or, Eric Byrnes….golden mop haired boy of never ending energy. Even better, Geoff Jenkins, who I am sure only has a roster spot on the Brewers because he looks similar to Brett Favre. OK, scratch Geoff Jenkins. There’s nothing of worthiness in Milwaukee but, Sprecher and Lakefront Breweries.

    What always amazes me is the incredible amount of Cubs fans at each park. Phoenix, by far is absolutely ridiculous. Last spring business sent me westward in April at the same time the Cubs were on their west coast road swing. As I typically do, I headed to the nearest establishment close to Chase Field (I still call it the BOB) to take in some libations before the game. I had tucked my Cubs hat into my back pocket for fear of a beat down from the locals. What I found was that Cubs fans out numbered all other patrons somewhere around 10 to 1. It was like strolling around Wrigleyville. I even saw the highly secretive, pastel plaid shorts, upturned collar polo shirt, flip flop Cubs fan. Alas, I was too slow at getting a picture of the shy beast, as he put on his over sized sun glasses and made a break for the restroom.

    Get ready folks, I actually have a point this week. Here it comes.

    In two weeks “From Right Field” will be on a road trip! Yay me! Once again, business takes me to Phoenix. I can hear your jealousy. Phoenix? In August? How does one get so lucky? To which I say, you’re right. I have no luck it all, which is why I’m a Cubs fan in the first place. We go hand in hand, like peanut butter and jelly, Mark Grace and a smoke, or Harry Caray and a Budweiser.

    You see, even though I’m seeing the Cubs, I’m still sticking it to the man. Do hear me McDonough? I’m giving my money to the D’backs! Take that you GM of gargantuan proportions. You’re down $56.73 in revenue this year! Just try to sign a free agent now. No one can stop me with this evil plot, unless the Cubs go deep in the playoffs like they did in 2003, and I’ll need to pay my respects in person just like in ’04 and ’05.

    “From Right Field” appears every Monday on VFTB. Unless, of course, Matt is dreaming of Eric Byrnes running down a line drive to the gap.

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    Game 123 – Preview

    Sunday, August 19th, 2007

    Scouting Report on todays starters from MLB.com
    Kip Wells – Wells appears to be trusting his stuff, and that’s a key. When he gets too fine, he gets in trouble. When he simply throws pitches with movement down in the strike zone and doesn’t try to pinpoint perfect location, he looks good. Wells has been as good as any pitcher in the St. Louis rotation lately, and for once that’s not damning with faint praise.

    Carlos Zambrano – Zambrano was named NL Pitcher of the Month in July but is still looking for his first win in August – and his 15th of the season. The right-hander gave up 13 hits in his last start against Cincinnati, and failed in his third try at win No. 15. In his past three starts. Big Z has given up 23 hits and 12 walks over 17 2/3 innings. That’s a lot of baserunners. What’s wrong? Hard to say – he may be trying to do too much. Against St. Louis this year, Zambrano is 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA.

    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.

    What To Watch For – If ever there was a time to watch for a Carlos Zambrano no-hitter, tonight is the night. Fresh off his big contract extension and on the national stage of Sunday Night Baseball, Big Z will try to keep the winning ways going for the Cubs. I fully expect him to have one of his most dominant starts of the year, but my fear is that he’ll come out too hyped up and be wild early, which will run the pitch count up early.

    News and Notes

  • The tracked player report now includes the level each player is currently assigned to. That is a very nice improvement that First Inning has set up.

    Tracked Players Results

    Team Results

  • AAA – Iowa 6, Memphis 7
  • AA – Tennessee 10, Chattanooga 4
  • High-A – Daytona 2, Palm Beach 9
  • A – Peoria 0, Clinton 4
  • Short Season – Boise – No Game
  • Arizona Rookie – Cubs 8, Athletics 8
  • Dominican Summer League – Cubs – No Game

    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 122 – A Tale of Two Innings…and Rain Delays

    Sunday, August 19th, 2007

    August 18th, 2007

    Teams

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
    St. Louis 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 0   3 8 1
    Chicago 0 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 X   5 4 2
    W – S. Marshall (6-6) L – A. Reyes (2-12) S – R. Dempster (19)
    Homeruns: J. Encarnacion (8) B. Ryan (4) A. Pujols (27) D. Ward (1)

    Box Score

    Due to their win yesterday the Cubs entered today’s game with sole possession of first place for the first time in a long time. With the win in game one of the series the Cubs accomplished a few things other than jumping in front of the Brewers. They cooled off the surging Cardinals and extended their lead over them to three full games. They also won the first game of this series, which on paper looked like a probable loss facing Braden Looper who has been very strong against the Cubs and seemingly unbeatable in day games. That puts the Cubs in position to do real good things this weekend and amazing things if Sean Marshall could do the job today…with Big Z throwing Sunday and Lilly throwing on Monday.
    This weekend was also the air and water show in Chicago which means that fighter jets will buzz Wrigley Field numerous times during the weekend causing batters, umps, and hitters ducking and covering. This is usually humorous except for the time that Steve Trachsel was pitching for the Cubs and had a strike three called back because the hitter was too frightened to swing. Trachsel who had been in control of the game, had a melt down and gave up run after run in a Cubs loss.
    When Trachsel was pitching for the Cubs he often took criticism for pitching and working too slowly. Sean Marshall is cut from the same cloth. He takes a long time to work and especially so if he gets into trouble.
    As Joe mentioned in the preview today’s game presented us an interesting (In the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog eating contest…disgustingly intriguing sort of way) pitching match up. Sean Marshall has been unreliable and sometimes really bad in recent outings only pitching 13 innings in his last three games. His opponent was Anthony Reyes. The winner of World Series game 1 last year started this year at 0 and 10. He was sent down to the minors and has been pretty good since his return.

    Interesting (Maybe) Preliminaries
    Jacque Jones has been hitting .360 since the All Star break with 26 RBI. Lee and Ramirez have 12 RBI COMBINED.

    Albert Pujols has a .659 slugging percentage since the All Star break. I have heard it said that great hitters seem to bat more than one time in the line up. I often find myself counting innings ahead to see when Pujols is due up again and what situation he might be hitting in.

    Can we stop hearing about the brilliance of Tony LaRussa for batting his pitcher eighth? If this were some great idea people would have been doing it for years. In the game today the Cardinals had runners at first and second with one out in the second and the pitcher Anthony Reyes due up in the eighth spot. The announcers Matt Vasgersian and Joe Girardi talked about how LaRussa’s strategy worked great because this was a perfect sacrifice situation. But this meant that a true hitter would now bat with two outs instead of one. Even though one runner would have moved into scoring position it does not make up for the lost out. With good hitters failing seven out of ten times, you would rather have a true hitter batting with one out rather than two.

    When the lineups were finally announced after the rain delay they were announced by representatives of the teams, which is how FOX often does it. However, this time a bat boy for the Cardinals announced their team and Jimmy Farell the retiring Wrigley Field umpire’s room attendant announced the Cubs. While Jimmy Fallon or Will Ferrell would have been entertaining…Jimmy Farell was not. Farell mispronounced Ryan Theriot’s name (Tear EE OTT) as well as Jason Kendall (Ken DELL). Attaboy Jimmy!!! You must have learned from Lou who calls our left handed reliever “Steve Eyre.”

    Rain Delay 1
    I thought there would be two redeeming aspects of this rain delay. First, being able to see Roger Clemens pitch a little. Second, to hear some of Joe Buck calling a game. (There probably is a little manly sports related infatuation with Joe Buck since he called both the World Series and Super Bowl by the time he was 35). I enjoy hearing Joe Buck because I think he calls a great game, his success is not merely due to nepotism. Sadly, Joe was not there because he announced a football game last night.
    I figured we would have Dick “Adolpho Soriano” Stockton calling our game but instead we got Matt Vasgersian and Joe Girardi. Pretty bad. Vasgersian might be remembered for being in the Padres booth for Rick Sutcliffe’s drunken rant a few years ago. (If you can find this on youtube check it out.) Sutcliffe was invited to return to the Padres booth, where he used to work with Vasgersian, for a half inning. Sutcliffe was so out of it that he began commenting on the fact that Vasgersian had been rumored for many jobs over the previous off season. “Matty. Whaddya still doing in San Diegooo?” One of the jobs that Vasgersian was up for was following Chip Caray into the Cubs booth. He was one of the final candidates…and thank goodness they chose Len Kasper.
    (By the way Steve Stone worked with Hawk Harrelson on White Sox broadcasts last week. There are rumors that the Sox might be interested in hiring Steve Stone and moving Darrin Jackson to the radio booth. Stone and Hawk got stellar reviews.)
    Vasgersian will always be remembered for being on one of the two primary announce teams for the XFL. How legitimate was the XFL? The two main announce teams were comprised of Vasgersian teamed with Jesse “The Body” Ventura and Jim Ross teamed with Jerry “The King” Lawler. Three wrestlers/ wrestling announcers and Vasgersian. While I would guess that Matt does not like that this is on his resume he had some great XFL type commentary when Daryle Ward hit is grand slam in the third inning. Vasgersian called it “A Chicago Style Salami”. Dirty jokes aside…commentary at its’ worst.
    The team also went on to opine that the crowd’s excited response to the grand slam was partially due to their understanding that Ward was playing in place of Cliff Floyd who attended his father’s funeral this morning. Heartwarming but probably false.
    (On a real side note I was saddened to hear that “Adolpho” Stockton has been replaced by Kenny Albert on FOX NFL’s “B” team. The Bears get the “B” team a lot because the “A” team is often at NFC East games. I don’t love Stockton, but Kenny Albert does not speak “big game” to me.)

    The Two Innings
    The Cubs Third
    Kendall led off the third with a walk.
    Marshall flailed and failed at a sac bunt but Kendall advanced when strike three got away from the catcher Molina.
    Theriot walked.
    A big play in the inning came when Jacque Jones beat out a double play ball at first base keeping the inning alive.
    Derrek Lee lined a ball into the opposite field scoring the first run. He was 3 for 4 today and hit the ball hard. He should have had a first inning double, but So Taguchi played a quick bounce off the wall and held Lee to a single.
    Ramirez who is hitting .349 with runners in scoring position walked the bases loaded.
    Just when I was questioning why Lou is batting Ward clean up instead of Murton or Kendall he hits a long fly ball grand slam into the center field bleachers. His first Cub home run. Cue the XFL tryout comments and the Cubs are up 5-0.

    The Cardinals Sixth
    Marshall began the sixth by walking Pujols. Even though he only had thrown 70 pitches Lou pulled Marshall. 5 inning for Marshall with only one walk, five hits and two solo home runs. I like that Lou pulled him so quick. Marshall seems to fall apart real fast in the fifth or sixth. Today he didn’t have that chance.
    Marmol came in and things got weird.
    Marmol was erratic and walked Encarnacion.
    Rolen came to the plate representing the tying run. He flew out and Pujols advanced on a sac fly.
    Then Marmol threw a wild fastball that bounced off the bricks. Kendall made an athletic play to grab the rebound and flip it to Marmol who was covering home making a play on Pujols trying to score. The ball beat Pujols but he clearly slid under the tag. The Cubs got a break and he was called out.
    Then I saw a play I have never seen before. Chris Duncan struck out on a pitch that hit him in the thigh. It got by Kendall but Duncan could not advance on a dropped third strike because the ball had hit him.
    Inning over. No damage done. Except for those who like watching good baseball.

    Rain Delay 2
    Bob Howry gave up a solo shot to Pujols in the eighth.
    Encarnacion singled and Duncan stepped up representing the tying run again.

    Duncan has a lot of power and hits righties hard. The rain came down real fast as the Cubs rushed to warm a leftie as fast as the rain. Howry got to 1-2 on Duncan working the outside corner. He then took his time, drying his hands and walking around the mound until the umps had no other choice than to call out the groundscrew for the second rain delay.

    One hour later a warm left handed Carmen Pignatiello throws one curve ball to strike Chris Duncan out looking. Just like you write it up.

    Abhorations
    The Cards outhit the Cubs 8 to 4.

    The Cards hit three homers to the Cubs one.

    This was one of those games that the Cubs only scored in one inning and allowed the other team to claw back in it.

    But the Cubs only walked two and the home runs were all solo shots.

    In Conclusion
    Remember how great rain delay theater used to be. Reruns of This Week in Baseball and The Baseball Bunch. Today we had to sit through many minutes of Jeanne Zelasco, Kevin Kennedy, and Erik Karros holding court. Long live Mel Allen’s voice!!! How about that !!

    STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA

  • First Star – Daryle Ward (20.2%)
  • Second Star – Derrek Lee (12.3%)
  • Third Star – Carlos Marmol (11.6%)
  • Turd of the Game – Anthony Reyes (-20.3%)
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    Game 122 – Preview

    Saturday, August 18th, 2007

    Scouting Report on todays starters from MLB.com
    Anthony Reyes – It’s as though Reyes is a different pitcher since his late-July recall from the Minors. He’s taking a bit more of a grip-it-and-rip-it approach, getting away from a tendency to overthink things early in the year. Reyes needs to locate his fastball and throw it even when he has runners on base, then work off the heater with his curveball and changeup.

    Sean Marshall – Marshall pitched well enough to win on Sunday in Colorado. He gave up three runs on five hits and avoided the big inning that often plagues pitchers at Coors Field. His biggest mistake was trying to go low and inside against Troy Tulowitzki in the fifth inning. The ball caught some of the plate and all of Tulowitzki?s bat, sending it into the left field bleachers.

    View the game preview from Baseball Reference for all sorts of useful information.

    What To Watch For – The Cubs have had a hard time staying above water when they move into first place. It’s important for them to show that they can begin to widen the gap between them and the rest of the division. Sean Marshall hasn’t pitched out of the 6th inning since July 28th, so hopefully he can give the Cubs a quality start.

    News and Notes

  • Donald Veal’s latest journal entry has been posted. This edition talks about the dog days of summer and the prospect of September Major League call-ups. (View Journal)
  • John Manuel of Baseball America took some time to do a draft chat the other day. Here were a couple of questions asked regarding the Cubs draft. (Source)

    What position do you see Josh Vitters playing for the Cubs? And how long before he is in the big leagues?

    For me, his best comp is Pat Burrell–amateur 3B, probable LF in pro ball, possible 1B.

    What was the reason for the delay of the announcement of Vitters’ signing until the last second? He wasn’t considered to be a tough sign.

    Seemed like they were waiting for Moustakas to announce; hard to come down on the Cubs for going over slot if Moustakas got $4 million, but at the same time, the Cubs wouldn’t have given Vitters $3.2 million had Moustakas signed for the $3.15 million slot that was assigned for No. 2.

    What do you think of the cubs draft overall, and is it possible for Vitters to make it to the bigs in less that three years?

    It’s solid, nothing extravagant, good college players, big Josh Donaldson fan and have really come around on Darwin Barney, just a winning player.

    Tracked Players Results

    Team Results

  • AAA – Iowa 5, Omaha 9
  • AA – Tennessee 2, Chattanooga 1
  • High-A – Daytona 4, Palm Beach 6
  • A – Peoria 4, Cedar Rapids 6
  • Short Season – Boise 3, Spokane 2
  • Arizona Rookie – Cubs 3, Mariners 8
  • Dominican Summer League – Cubs 7, Indians 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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