Archive for August, 2007

Game 130 – Preview

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Scouting Report on todays starters from
Jeff Suppan – Suppan matched up against Arizona ace Brandon Webb on Wednesday and remained winless in 11 starts since June 22 despite one of his better efforts. Suppan pitched seven innings for the first time since June 1, and was saddled with three runs on seven hits in a 3-2 loss. D-backs rookie Chris Young hit a changeup for a leadoff home run, and Orlando Hudson followed with a triple that turned into a go-ahead run in the first inning, but Suppan settled in after that flurry and the Brewers forged a short-lived tie in the sixth. Suppan is 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA against the Cubs this year.

Rich Hill – Hill posted his 14th quality start of the year in his last start, but did not get a win. He struck out 10, the fifth time in his career he’s reached double digits in strikeouts. What was working? His curve and a consistent fastball. He also was aggressive in his approach, which Hill needs to be successful. He shrugs off his personal win-loss record. “Personal goals aren’t what you look for,” Hill said. “When it’s all said and done at the end, it’s not what you did during the season, it’s how the team did. It’s a positive way of looking at it.”

Additional Notes on Suppan:
Assets: He has a workhorse mentality on the mound and bears down in the clutch. Uses his excellent curveball as an out pitch.
Flaws: His fastball isn’t too hot, so he has to learn to work around hitters’ hot zones, while still throwing strikes. Must work on his approach against right-handed hitters.

What to Watch For
This is our chance to essentially eliminate Milwaukee from the race. If we can sweep them, we can focus our attention to beating the Cardinals. We’ve got our three best starting pitchers on the mound this series, we’re at home, and we get Soriano back today. No Excuses!!!

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

  • Donald Veal finally got himself deep into a ball game, going 7.1 innings yesterday. Maybe he’s figuring things out.
  • The Cubs have announced that the following players will be attending the Arizona Fall League
    Matt Avery
    Justin Berg
    Grant Johnson
    Rocky Roquet
    Josh Lansford
    Joe Simokaitis
    Sam Fuld

  • Baseball America’s Hot Sheet mentioned a couple of baby Cubs (Source)

    Geovany Soto – It’s unclear why Soto is still in Triple-A, where the 24-year-old has proven to be one of the best hitters in the Pacific Coast League and the Cubs have shifted through multiple bodies behind the plate. Soto is hitting .358/.427/.653 on the year, and has hit .417/.465/.771 in August after a .367/.450/.735 July. Although Jason Kendall has hit well beyond any reasonable expectation (.298/.392/.404 in 104 at-bats) since joining the Cubs, Soto is likely the better near-and long-term option for the franchise.

    Josh Vitters – It may be harsh to hit the No. 3 overall pick in 2007 so early, but the hype he received as a hitter has not proven anything yet. In his first five games he is hitting .095/.091/.095 in 21 at-bats. He has also struck out five times and hasn’t drawn a walk yet. It’s hard to have a higher average than on-base percentage, but he’s done it so far.

    Tracked Players Results

    Team Results

  • AAA – Iowa 8, Memphis 10
  • AA – Tennessee 7, Chattanooga 3
  • High-A – Daytona 4, Vero Beach 3
  • A – Peoria 4, Beloit 2
  • Short Season – Boise 7, Yakima 5
  • Arizona Rookie – Cubs 8, Rangers 7

    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 – Best Time of the Year?

    Monday, August 27th, 2007

    For those of you that weren’t in the Chicagoland area last Thursday, we were hit hard with an incredible storm. I was on my way to O’Hare when it hit, and my Blue Line run took a mere hour and twenty minutes. When I arrived, the power was out to the O’Hare Hilton, with the exception of their work out room. I found that odd. The halls were lit with flashlights, but the workout room was fully lit with TV’s and the music blaring. In any case, I found out my flight to Arizona was canceled, and I decided right there that it was not to be, and gave up on the whole thing. It took me an additional three hours to get home. Sometimes I hate Chicago weather. On the bright side, I realized I had nothing to do for the weekend for a change, and I could finally sit down and watch the Cubs, and catch a pre-season Bears game.

    My second favorite sport to watch is football. As with the ’84 Cubs, my childhood memories revolve around the ’85 Bears. How could a kid not remember those Superbowl shuffling Bears? The Fridge, Iron Mike, Samurai Mike, and Sweetness? There’s been only two times in my life that I remember getting a reprieve from bedtime as a kid. The first was when the Cubs clinched the pennant in 1984, the second was when the Bears came back against the Vikings on Monday Night Football. I fondly remember my Dad yelling in the other room, and running down to get me out of bed to watch the rest of the game. It was one I’d never forget. Mostly because if any of you have seen my Dad run, you know it’s a funny scene.

    This weekend I sat on our couch after a day of fighting, I mean installing, a bifold door. I think I put sailors to shame with some of the language that spewed from my mouth. I needed a break, and the Cubs game was on just in time. As I sat watching and sipping some fine brew, my wife kept flipping back and forth to the Bears’ game. I found it annoying at first, as I had not been able to watch a Cubs game in over a week. After awhile, I began to enjoy it, and realized this may be the best time of the year for me. Football, both college and pro, and baseball is in full swing. 40 some games left, and the Cubs are in the hunt. Heck, in few days, Completely Useless By September can no longer be muttered this year. This could be a truly magical year for Chicago fans. The Bears should be on the Superbowl prowl, and with Alfonso Soriano returning tomorrow, the Cubs’ destiny is in their own hands.

    Not since 2003, I know it’s not so long ago, have I had a reason to run home to watch the Cubs, or stare longly at my computer screen watching the updates. It’s an odd feeling, but one I’m happy to be having again. The dog days of summer are passed, but the heat of the fall is just beginning.

    “From Right Field” appears every Monday on VFTB. Unless, Matt is arguing with doors.

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    Game 129 – Failed Execution

    Sunday, August 26th, 2007

    August 26th, 2007


    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9   R H E
    Chicago 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0   4 9 0
    Arizona 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 X   5 7 2
    W – E. Gonzalez (6-2)  L  – J. Marquis (10-8) S – J. Valverde (40)
    Homeruns: D. Lee (15) C. Floyd (5) C. Young (27 & 28)

    Box Score

    There is no reason to Hit & Run
    Most of the time, I don’t second guess Lou Piniella and his moves. I don’t harp on his frequent changes in the lineup or theory of playing the hot hand. For the most part, Lou has pushed the right buttons this year, but today I’ve got to say something. With the first two hitters reaching base in the 9th and the Cubs down a run, Jason Kendall came to the plate. After trying to get a bunt down in the early part of the at bat, Lou decided to put the hit and run on with two strikes for three straight pitches. The third pitch was a swinging strike by Kendall to strike out and allow Mike Fontenot to be thrown out at third base for the second out, completing the double play. Kendall was the number nine hitter in the order, which means that the top of the order was due up. I can understand the idea that Kendall is a good contact hitter, but when all you need is a single to tie the game, why put the hit and run on? I’m not saying this was the reason we lost the game, because it wasn’t, but it certainly didn’t help.

    The return of Soriano
    The biggest news out of this weekend was the announcement that not only would Alfonso Soriano return to the leadoff role when he came back, but that his return was slated for this Tuesday night against the Brewers. While I’m thrilled that he’ll be back in this lineup with his big bat, I’m scared out of my mind that he’ll push himself too hard and aggravate that injury. If he strains it again, we’ve pretty much lost him for the season. I know it’s a big series against the Brewers, but I’d really just like to see him wait until after Labor Day to return. That was the original plan of action and I think it was a better one. What are your thoughts? Should Alfonso Soriano be coming back on Tuesday? Are you worried about re-injury? Do we need him to beat a struggling Brewers team?

    Why was Craig Monroe playing today?
    I don’t mean to be hard toward are new acquisition, but did no one inform Lou Piniella that Craig Monroe doesn’t hit well against the righties? He’s hitting just .221 this season against them and a measly .249 in his career. He was brought here one reason and one reason only, to hit against lefties. He shouldn’t be in there for any other reason. Why not give Felix Pie a start today and let Jacque shift over to right field? Let’s not forget that this is not the savior. When you can’t hit righthanders, it doesn’t make you that valuable. There is a reason Detroit designated him for assignment. I just hope the Cubs don’t try to rely too much on him down the stretch, because I’m afraid they’ll find themselves to be very disappointed with the results.

    Most exciting play in baseball?
    Len Kasper referred to Derrek Lee’s inside the park homerun as perhaps the most exciting play in baseball. Lee’s didn’t look as pretty as one by someone like Carl Crawford or Ichiro, but it counted just the same. My question to you is this. What are other nominees for the most exciting play in baseball? The ones I could think of was a play at the plate in a clutch situation.

    On a side note, the last Cub to hit an inside the park homerun was Sammy Sosa on October 6th, 2001 against the Pirates (box score).

    Cliff Floyd is a beast!!!
    When Cliff hits a homerun, you always seem to know he got all of it. He hasn’t hit many of them this year, which has been a disappointment, but when we has, they have been “no-doubt-about-it” type homeruns. He hit one again today and as soon as he made contact I found myself wishing I was in Arizona so I could watch that ball majestically sail past that right field wall.

    Misc. Notes

  • Both errors by the Diamondbacks in the 1st inning were really bad errors. Conor Jackson completely missed a pickoff throw and Stephen Drew made a weird throw to third for no apparent reason.
  • Did you know that Chris Young was part of the White Sox farm system very recently? He was brought to Arizona in 2005 with Orlando Hernandez & Luis Vizcaino for Javier Vazquez.
  • I wonder if slamming the bat down in disgust is the wisest thing for Aramis Ramirez to be doing with an injured wrist.
  • Bob Melvin used Micah Owings, yeah the one that pitched against us, as a pinch hitter in the 4th inning, but had him bunt. What’s up with that?
  • I saw the commercial for the Wrigley Pavers outside the field and it got me wondering if anyone that reads this site has one or knows of someone who does.

  • Mark Prior says his goal is to be ready for opening day. Do you think A) he’ll be ready & B) that he’ll come of the pen like Kerry Wood? (Source)

  • Jose Valverde looked like a crazy Gramatica brother as he got the final out of the game. Take a chill pill man, it’s not that big of a game
  • Jacque Jones continues to flash the leather in CF. Whoever said he can’t play that position has some apologizing to do to Jacque.
  • As this season moves closer to the end, I find myself more afraid of the Cardinals than the Brewers.

    STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA

  • First Star – Chris Young (30.3%)
  • Second Star – Jose Valverde (16.8%)
  • Third Star – Daryle Ward (16.2%)
  • Turd of the Game – Jason Marquis (-25.4%)
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  • Game 126 – Preview

    Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

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

    The Chicago Cubs have acquired Craig Monroe (OF) from Detroit for a PTBNL

    SAN FRANCISCO – The Chicago Cubs today acquired outfielder Craig Monroe and a cash consideration from the Detroit Tigers for a player to be named.

    Monroe is expected to join the Cubs tomorrow night when the club begins a three-game set in Phoenix against the Arizona Diamondbacks at 8:40 p.m. CT.

    In all or part of seven seasons with Texas (2001) and Detroit (2002-07), the 30-year-old Monroe owns a .277 batting average with 35 home runs in 714 at-bats against left-handed pitching. In 2007, Monroe is batting .302 (29-for-96) with five homers, eight doubles and a .542 slugging percentage against southpaws. Overall, Monroe is a career .258 hitter (618-for-2,400) with 103 home runs and 384 RBI in 699 major league games.

    A member of the 2006 American League Champion Detroit Tigers, Monroe last season set career highs with 28 homers, 35 doubles and 92 RBI in 147 games. In the previous four seasons prior to 2007, the right-handed batter and thrower averaged 22 home runs and 81 RBI per season, reaching 20 homers or more in three of the four campaigns and totaling at least 70 RBI in all four of the years.

    Monroe has played all three outfield positions in his major league career, seeing action in 429 games in left field, 201 games in right field and 70 games in center field.

    The 6-foot-1, 205-pound native of Texarkana, TX was batting .222 (76-for-343) with 19 doubles, 11 homers and 55 RBI in 99 games for Detroit this season before being designated for assignment on August 17

    Scouting Report on todays starters from
    Carlos Zambrano – Zambrano started Sunday night, but threw 44 pitches over three innings before the rain came, so he’s being moved up in the rotation. The right-hander, who signed a new $91.5 million, five-year contract, looked as if the negotiations were not on his mind on Sunday. He threw just three innings, but struck out three, and did not give up a hit.

    Matt Cain – Cain continued his run of solid starts his last time out, allowing three runs on six hits in seven innings to beat the Marlins. He allowed a homer on his first pitch and another run later in the inning but worked into a groove after that to notch his fourth straight quality start. Cain was tagged for six runs in four innings in his only other start against the Cubs this season.

    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
    Matt Cain is one of the hard luck pitchers in the league that doesn’t get a lot of run support. Couple that with a newly signed Carlos Zambrano who showed No-Hit stuff on Sunday and you’ve got a recipe for a sweep. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a complete game shutout by Zambrano today.

    News and Notes

  • John Sickels of Minor League Ball has a piece about Sean Gallagher and has some images of his start. (Source)
  • The Hardball times has a good analysis and ranking of the draft (Source)

    Tracked Players Results

    Team Results

  • AAA – Iowa 3, New Orleans 4
  • AA – Tennessee 1, Mobile 3
  • High-A – Daytona 5, Jupiter 6
  • A – Peoria 8, Wisconsin 0
  • Short Season – Boise 4, Vancouver 6
  • Arizona Rookie – Cubs 5, Royals 8
  • Dominican Summer League – Cubs 2, Rockies 1

    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 125 – Rich Hill Has Returned?

    Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

    August 22nd, 2007


    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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