Archive for August, 2007

Game 125 – Preview

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

Scouting Report on todays starters from
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

    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


    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
    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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