Archive for April, 2008

That's It….The Season's Over

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

First Star The Flying Scotsman dvd – Mike Fontenot (.218)
Second Star – Mike Cameron (.210)
Third Star – Ryan Braun (.186)
Top Play – 5th inning – Bill Hall singled to center (Liner). Corey Hart scored. Bill Hall advanced to 2B on error. Error by Derrek Lee. (+.141)


Another loss, so it must be time to panic. After all, the Cubs are on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. Then again, we could having the issues that the Yankees are having, with A-Rod and Posada going to the DL. Instead I offer up some questions and thoughts from what I saw before falling asleep after it was 10-4. No need to panic.

  • Tonight was a cold night, so in response to a recent diary by lizzie, the pitchers were allowed to blow on their hands by the home plate umpire. I’ve always wondered if they use that permission and turn it into a way to add moisture to the ball. Think about it, how hard would it be to have saliva enter the cupped hand when you’re blowing. Not hard.
  • Geo singled up the middle on the first pitch he saw. Think he was anxious after two solid days off after striking out like it was going out of style? He finished 2-for-4, which is much improved.
  • Contrary to what some may think, the tag on Pie in the 2nd was not a dirty play.
  • Derrek Lee tied the all time Cub record for HR in April with 8. 8? Seriously? That’s all?
  • It was refreshing to see a power guy like Ryan Braun lay down a bunt in the fifth for a hit. How cool for it be to see Fatty lay one down and chug down to first?

    Let’s put this one in the archives, forget about it, and get a good rebound win tonight with Dempster on the mound.

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    Smokies Roster Moves

    Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

    From the Smokie Media Dept.

    Sevierville, Tennessee — The Tennessee Smokies Professional Baseball Club, the Class AA Southern League Affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, announced several roster moves today. RHP Chad Fox and LHP James Russell have been added to the active roster and will join the team on their trip to Jacksonville. RHP Justin Berg has been called up to Class AAA Iowa, and RHP Juan Mateo will rejoin Class A Daytona.

    In other news, LHP Scott Eyre from the Chicago Cubs roster will join the Smokies in Jacksonville for a rehabilitation start scheduled for Wednesday April 30th. Eyre has pitched with the Cubs organization during the last two seasons, posting a 2-1 record with a 4.13 in 55 game with the Cubs in 2007.

    Fox is a 37-year-old is a native of Spring, TX. He is in his sixteenth season of professional baseball. The Chicago Cubs acquired Nannini as a minor league agent in January 2008. Fox has pitched at the Major League level since the 1997 season, but has not appeared in a game over the last two seasons due to a injured right elbow.

    Russell hails from Colleyville, TX and is a 22-year old left-hander. James is in just his second season of professional baseball after being acquired in the 14th round of the 2007 draft. Russell attended the University of Texas after graduating from Navarro (TX) Junior College in 2006.

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    Game 26 Probables & Farm Report

    Tuesday, April 29th, 2008
    Series Tale of the Tape

    Scouting Report on Today’s Starting Pitchers

    Jason Marquis had another strong start Thursday, earning a no-decision in Colorado in a game the Cubs went on to lose. For the first six innings, he neatly matched his previous outing against the Pirates, giving up one run on six hits. He added two more hits and another run in the seventh, however, yielding a solo homer to Chris Iannetta on a sinker meant to go down and away that came back over the plate. He threw 98 pitches over seven innings for his longest start of the season, striking out four while walking two.

    Ben Sheets is slated to return to the rotation after missing his last turn with soreness in his right triceps. He exited a start against the Reds after five innings with the ailment, which he said began back on April 12 in New York. The Brewers need a healthy Sheets back in action because he’s off to a great start: he leads the NL in WHIP at 0.64 and opponents are hitting only .146 against him. He allowed two hits in no runs in 6 1/3 innings against the Cubs on Opening Day and will get a boost in this game by the return of center fielder Mike Cameron from a suspension.

    • With a fastball that can reach the upper-90′s, he keeps hitters off-balance by mixing in a hard breaking curve. Has tremendous control and can work inside.
    • Has a wealth of injury and durability issues that continue to wreak havoc with his career. Hitters also have a lot of success on his first pitch.
    • An ace starter when healthy.

    View the stat preview from Baseball Reference here

    All Scouting Information taken from MLB.com and TSN.ca


    Tracked Player Results

    • Matt Camp was 3-for-4

    Got a player you’d like to see added to the player tracker? Drop us a line in the comments The Flying Scotsman dvdrip

    Organizational Roundup

    (AAA) – Iowa Cubs – Lost vs. Fresno (3-11)

    (AA) – Tennessee Smokies – Won vs. West Tenn (8-6)

    (High A) – Daytona Cubs – Lost vs. Juniper (1-2)

    (A) – Peoria Chiefs – No Game

    (SS) – Boise Hawks open their season June 17th

    (RK) – Arizona Cubs open their season June 22nd

    View the full organizational report courtesy of First Inning here.

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    No such thing as a stupid question …

    Sunday, April 27th, 2008

    I’ve been told many times that there’s no such thing as a stupid question other than one that is not asked, or something like that … I hope some kind soul here will pacify me and answer some of my … well … silly little questions … things I always wanted to know but was afraid to ask. And, maybe others have questions they were afraid to ask too!

    Question #1. What exactly is a first base coach’s job? I know they pat a lot of butts and hold a lot of batting gloves and elbow protectors, but what does Sinatro actually do over there?

    Question #2. Had some nice front row seats at Wrigley on the 18th right between home plate and the Cubs dugout and watched them beat the Pirates. Stuck around awhile afterwards since I just didn’t want to leave those seats (plus I like watching the groundskeepers fix up the field). Soon enough I spotted a few Pirates heading over to the Cubs dugout. They were sort of half out of their uniforms and didn’t appear to have showered yet. What were they going over there for? Do the Cubs have better digs than their visitors? Or maybe they were just going to hang out?

    Question #3. While watching the Nationals games, I heard Len and Bob several times mention they took the Metra train after the games. That seemed odd to me. Wouldn’t they ride a team bus or something? Seemed odd that they were on their own.

    These are the silly little things I like to know. I have more, but I’ll leave it at that for now. Thanks in advance to anyone who will spend time answering. :smile: The Flying Scotsman move

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    Rompin In Washington

    Saturday, April 26th, 2008

    First Star – Carlos Zambrano (.217)
    Second Star – Derrek Lee (.145)
    Third Star – Mark DeRosa (.091)
    Top Play – Mark Derosa’s single in the 1st (+.103)



    AP Photo – Pablo Martinez Monsivais

    Reed Johnson – I’m going on record now, and I know it means I’m changing my tune, that I am fine with Reed Johnson as the every day center fielder for this team. He’s shown me enough over the first month of the season for me to send Pie down yet again for every day at bats. I am almost to the point where I am considering the idea that moving Pie might be the best option for this team. It’s obvious they’re doing everything in their power to not give him a chance so why not try to get something for him while his stock is still high? I’m not quite sold on the idea just yet, but I’m slowly moving there.

    Reed continued to show his talent today with a pair of singles on 10 pitches seen. I throw that number in there just to make Matt smile. He’s got to stay in that leadoff spot when Soriano comes back. I don’t know how Lou can do anything else. Soriano is not the answer in that spot, especially now that his legs are recovering.

    Ryan Theriot – He seems to have taken the 2nd spot in the order and made the most of it. He had a good game today, going the other way and taking what the pitcher gave him. He’s had some goofy things the past two days with the choice to try for a steal of third with less than two outs and the power guys up in game one and the error tonight on an easy ball. I’ve been pleased with Theriot this year. I think he’s come ready to play and knows that there is a hot hitting Ronny Cedeno that is making the case for the job. We mentioned it yesterday that Ronny hasn’t taken the job yet from Theriot, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens. Ronny is younger and has more upside. If he can take the job, more power to him.

    The Platinum Sombrero – Geo needs a day off. He is getting killed at the plate this series. In his 8 at bats this series, he has 8 strikeouts. That’s got to be tough for a rookie to deal with, especially when you have all the other responsibilities of a catcher with handling a pitching staff. My guess is that with a day game tomorrow, he’ll have two days off with Monday being an off day. Hopefully that will help him recharge and get those K’s out of his head.

    Carlos Zambrano – Man, he was a little wild today and struggled to keep that pitch count down. Thankfully, the Nats couldn’t counter with a run all game on him. They had their chances, getting runners on each inning, but Z did just enough to get out of it each time. I was a little disappointed to see Lou run him out there in the 7th, but my guess is that Zambrano had a say in that decision. He finished the game with 114 pitches, which isn’t terribly high, but could have been limited because of the lead. Why not let Zambrano go six and then let Jon Lieber, who hasn’t pitched since the 23rd coming for an inning or two of work? I’d like to save Zambrano as much as possible, when possible. On the hitting front, I’m beginning to wonder why it is Carlos is a switch hitter. It seems to me like he would be more successful at the plate if he focused on one side of the plate and stuck with that.

    Don Sutton – For the last two games, I’ve watched the Nats feed on MASN and have been confused on some of the logic by Nats color guy, Don Sutton. He’s a hall of famer, but some of the things he mentioned over the past things had me scratching my head. For example, he marveled over Ryan Dempster moving his glove when pitching from the wind up. He couldn’t figure out what that was all about. I understand the confusion, but to keep mentioning it throughout the broadcast just accents the fact that he had no idea what was going on. In case you’re wondering, Demp does the glove movement to keep from tipping his pitches. He starts with the ball in the splitfinger grip, which is one of the harder grips and then moves that glove around to conceal when he’s changing grips. It’s actually quite clever. Tonight, Sutton said he disagreed with the signing of Zambrano long term because Z has emotional issues. That would be the least of the reasons I would worry about the contract. For me, I worried because of injuries. Z plays all out and has the habit of doing dumb things. He breaks his bat over his knee. He reaches for line drives with his pitching hand. He pitches late into the game. He’s just asking for an injury, but to say that he shouldn’t get the contract because of emotions is dumb. As he matures, he will continue to grow up and learn how to handle things like that. Let’s remember how young he still is.

    I’m off to see game three in person tomorrow with Tom C, aka pepi. I should have some pictures for you and some notes on my experience in the new park on Monday.

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    Weekly Farm Roundup

    Saturday, April 26th, 2008

    In response to a recent request from a reader, I present to you the weekly look at how things are going down on the farm. We’ll do this every weekend.

    Iowa Cubs 10-10 (2.5 GB)
    Jacob Fox is an interesting case this year. I can’t decide if he’s hot or cold. I guess it depends on how you evaluate a player. He leads the team in RBI and HR, but is hitting just .176. Of his 14 hits, nine of them have been for extra bases. Unfortunately what jumps out at me is the K/BB ratio of 24 to 1. Fox is an interesting cat. He’s 25, so his clock is ticking. Usually it doesn’t take the college guys this long. He got a taste of AAA last year for about 100 at bats and did well with them. I’d really like to see him do something because of his power and versatility on the diamond. He’s capable of playing on the corners both in the outfield and the infield.

    On the pitching side of things, Jose Ascanio, who came over from the Braves in the Will Ohman trade, has pitched well so far out of the bullpen. In nine appearances he’s sporting an ERA of 2.25 with a 9.49 K/9 ratio. He’s overpowering guys down there right now and could be in line for a call up if someone like Michael Wuertz continues to struggle and agrees to a demotion (doubtful). Sean Gallagher is also doing quite well, which means we have even more ML ready arms and not enough slots for all of them.

    Tennessee Smokies 9-13 (7 GB)
    For the Smokies, no one seems to be overly impressing with the bat. The team as a whole is below the Southern League averages in BA, OBP, SLG and OPS. That could be a good reason why they’re not doing so well in the record department. One of the players I follow, Tyler Colvin, is off to a slow start at the plate and has struck out too much. He says he’s working on it, and the strike outs are going to come for a young hitter that’s still learning. The most important for us to do is not freak out and remember that’s he a kid, he’s shown he can be successful so far in the past, and he’s a work in progress. At this point, there is nowhere for him to play anyway. I like his makeup and his interview presence. I know the latter doesn’t help on the field, but it comes in handy when the success comes at the ML level.

    I’m slowly loosing hope in Donnie Veal. He can’t seem to shake the control issues that plagued him so badly last year. He’s walked 11 guys in just 17 innings of work. He’s got good stuff if he can just learn to throw strikes and trust his stuff. I’m anxious to find out if the walks have been a result of nibbling around the plate or if he’s just been wild. I’ll have to check into that. He’s still getting his strikeouts, averaging just a shade under nine per 9 IP. I wonder if a move to AAA would lift him up a little, similar to what it did for Jeff Samardzija last year. We’ll just have to wait and see.

    Next week we’ll take a look at the Peoria Chiefs and Daytona Cubs.

    For the full breakdown on how every player in the system is doing so far, make sure you check out the organizational depth chart provided by Baseball Reference. They break it down by team and position throughout the organization. Here are the links: (Hitters / Pitchers)


    Tracked Player Results

    • Josh Donaldson was 3-for-5
    • Ryan Acosta struck out 5 batters and only allowed 2 earned runs over 6.0 innings pitched yesterday
    • Russell Canzler was 3-for-4
    • Jose Ceda struck out 6 batters and only allowed 2 earned runs over 5.0 innings pitched yesterday

    Got a player you’d like to see added to the player tracker? Drop us a line in the comments

    Organizational Roundup

    (AAA) – Iowa Cubs – Won vs. Memphis (16-3)

    (AA) – Tennessee Smokies – Lost vs. West Tenn (2-12)

    (High A) – Daytona Cubs – Won vs. St. Lucie (8-7)

    (A) – Peoria Chiefs – Won vs. Fort Wayne (4-3)

    (SS) – Boise Hawks open their season June 17th

    (RK) – Arizona Cubs open their season June 22nd

    View the full organizational report courtesy of First Inning here.


    Minor League Webtopia
    • Mike Muyco is moving from behind the plate to the mound – (Inside the Ivy)
    • Steven Clevenger was promoted to AA
    • John Donaldson was mentioned on Baseball America’s prospect hot sheet in the “not hot” section – “Donaldson (.105/.105/.158 this week) was named the No. 2 prospect in the Northwest League in 2007 after hitting .346/.470/.605 with nine home runs in 49 games for short-season Boise. That success hasn’t carried over into 2008, as Donaldson is hitting only .157/.213/.257 for low Class A Peoria and has only one home run in 18 games. After showing outstanding patience in the NWL in 2007 to the tune of a 37-34 BB-K rate, Donaldson has walked only four times and has struck out 15 times in 2008.” (Baseball America)
    • Arizona Phil dropped some knowledge on us about what’s going on in extended spring training and broke down where the free agent situation stands for the future. Don’t forget to donate to their cause. (The Cub Reporter)
    • The Peoria Chiefs have made some roster moves (Inside the Ivy)
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    Ain’t No Thang

    Saturday, April 26th, 2008

    First Star – Will Nieves (.350)
    Second Star – Saul Rivera (.288)
    Third Star – Lastings Milledge (.199)
    Top Play – Will Nieves homerun in the 9h (+.361)


    Rather than recap a game I really didn’t get to watch completely, I’d like to talk about something that Matt mentioned in the comment section yesterday.

    Pitches taken is another one of my least liked stats in this new fangled baseball mentality. Wow, he’s seeing 4 pitches per plate appearances. What if three of them were strikes? Or he’s watching the one pitch that’s in his zone and should hit? Not too worry, he’s seeing more pitches so it’s all good. For example, in my first game this year I saw, eight pitches (I’ K’ed), four pitches (I K’ed), and six pitches (I k’ed). Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    While we’re at it, 1 Run Losses? What kind of moronic record keeping is this? Why aren’t we keeping 1 Run Wins too? And what’s the difference? A win is a win, a loss is a loss.

    Would you agree that it’s important for our starting pitchers to keep their pitch counts low for the game? I think everyone would. Well, it may sound obvious, but the overall pitch count is made of up each individual at bats added together. If guys can see a good amount of pitches, it increases the starting pitchers overall pitch count. It seems elementary, but it’s true. I’m not saying that it’s always important to see four pitches. What I am saying is that if you see a pitch you can hit hard, go for it. If not, be patient, make the pitcher work and more than likely you’ll get the pitch you can drive.

    In addition to taxing the starter, taking pitches means we get into the bullpen quicker. Getting into the bullpen is vital because it means weaker pitchers. Guys are in middle relief for a reason, they don’t have the skill to pitch as a starter or as a late inning guy. These are the guys you can capitalize on and begin to put the game away against. To see these guys, that starter has to be out of there before the 6th on most occasions. The only ways to make that happen are pitch counts, poor performance, and injury. Since you can’t control injuries and poor performance by the starter probably already means you’re winning, running up the pitch count is something you can do whether you’re winning or losing.

    When I keep score, I count pitches. I like to see a starter average 15 or less per inning. If he can do that, he should be able to go seven with 105 pitches. That’s a great outing that saves the bullpen. Pitch counts, while important, are not an isolated stat. They need to be looked at in the context of the game, but to completely dismiss them is silly.

    As for one run losses, they do keep track of one run wins too. It’s in the other side of the column, Matt. What a team’s one run record tells me is that, yes they won the game, but it could have easily gone the other way. If you’re winning games by one run, the team’s run differential is not very much. Luck isn’t the best way to describe it, but it a way, it means that your record is due partially on luck. The White Sox won the world series in 2005 and were very good in the one run games. The next year, with the same team, they weren’t winning those game and saw their record go the other way. It’s all about context for these stats.

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    Game 23 Probables & Farm Report

    Friday, April 25th, 2008
    Series Tale of the Tape

    Scouting Report on Today’s Starting Pitchers

    Ryan Dempster looks to remain unbeaten on the season when he pitches in new Nationals Park on Friday. Dempster has allowed just four earned runs over his last 18 innings. He’s 6-0 lifetime against the Washington/Montreal franchise with a 3.40 ERA in 18 appearances, including 10 starts.

    Odalis Perez is still winless, but it’s mostly not his fault. He’s pitched well enough to win in four of his five starts. The latest example was against the Marlins on Sunday. The only run off him in six innings was unearned, on a Ryan Zimmerman throw from third that nearly landed in the first-base box seats.

    • His fastball reaches the low 90s and he adds a wicked curve that helps him rack up the strikeouts.
    • Too often he leaves the ball up in the zone looking for the strikeout and when he does that and a hitter’s expecting it, look out. Doesn’t have much endurance.
    • Strong mid-rotation lefty.

    View the stat preview from Baseball Reference here

    All Scouting Information taken from MLB.com and TSN.ca


    Tracked Player Results

    • JR Mathes only allowed one run in 6.0 innings pitched
    • Justin Berg only allowed one run in 6.2 innings pitched
    • Jonathan Wyatt was 4-for-5
    • Tony Thomas hit 2 extra-base hits
    • Casey McGehee was 3-for-4

    Got a player you’d like to see added to the player tracker? Drop us a line in the comments

    Organizational Roundup

    (AAA) – Iowa Cubs – Won vs. Memphis (3-2)

    (AA) – Tennessee Smokies – Lost vs. West Tenn (1-2)

    (High A) – Daytona Cubs – Won vs. St. Lucie (7-2)

    (A) – Peoria Chiefs – No Game

    (SS) – Boise Hawks open their season June 17th

    (RK) – Arizona Cubs open their season June 22nd

    View the full organizational report courtesy of First Inning here.

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    Losses Feel Bad…Let’s Not Get Anymore!!!

    Thursday, April 24th, 2008

    First Star – Aaron Cook (.220)
    Second Star – Felix Pie (.205)
    Third Star – Daryle Ward (.155)
    Top Play – Chris Ianetta’s home run in the 7th (+.197)


    I sit here at the computer wondering what to write about. I hate writing long recaps of a loss, because I like to put it behind me and move to the game coming up. With that being said, I’d rather lead the discussion for you with some questions and points to ponder. We’ve been getting more traffic lately, which has led to more discussion in the comments. Thanks for keeping it civil and intelligent. It’s appreciated. Don’t forget you can always participate with posts of your own via the diaries.

    • Felix Pie had a couple hits today and has his average up to a staggering .237. Obviously this is not great, but are you starting to see potential in him if you were or are a hater?
    • Jason Marquis went seven strong innings today and kept the pitch count low, despite a first inning that saw his pitches go all over. Is he the third best guy in the rotation right now?
    • Am I the only one impressed with Kosuke’s range in the outfield? He seems to get great jumps on the fly balls and prevents balls in the gap like it’s going out of style. Is there anything that this guy can’t do?
    • Geovany Soto’s four hits in game one of the series was the second time he’s done that this season. In Cub history, only six catchers have done that in a full season. Michael Barrett and Joe Girardi were the most recent. No catcher in Cub history has ever had three or more games with at least four hits. I will go on record and predict that Geo will do it at least two more times this year.
    • What are your thoughts on the concept of using Mike Fontenot in the leadoff spot when Reed Johnson is out of the lineup? In his four at bats, three of them involved three or less pitches seen. His first at bat was very good though, with a six pitch single.
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