Archive for April, 2008

Vitters Promoted to Peoria

Friday, April 18th, 2008 has reported that Josh Vitters has been promoted to Peoria along with Leon Johnson, while Jonathan Mota moves to Daytona and Andrew Rundle has been sent back to Extended Spring Training. Vitters hadn’t exactly torn the cover off the ball in Arizona, but the Cubs must have seen something from him in the past week that warrants a promotion. AZ Phil at The Cub Reporter predicted a move was upcoming but thought Jeffrey Rea would be the one to go to Peoria instead of Vitters.

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Another Lilly….Another Loss

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

First Star – Joey Votto (.328)
Second Star – Reed Johnson (.210)
Third Star – Edinson Volquez (.169)
Top Play – Joey Votto’s double in the 4th (+.238)

Four games started by Lilly and three of them turn into losses for the team. I understand that he was one of the best in the rotation last season, but last seasons stats don’t carry over. We need him to be effective this season if we’re going to win this division by 10+ games like I expect. I say that in all seriousness, but it’s met to also portray that just because Lilly is struggling, it doesn’t mean I’m worried about the season as a whole. I’m merely worried that we won’t win by as many as I would have thought.

At this point, with both Rich Hill and Lilly struggling, I’m left with some burning questions that I’d like some feedback on. I think I’ve got my answers, but I’m not sure if you agree.

1. If you had to make a decision to pull either Lilly or Hill out of the rotation right now, who would it be?
To me, it comes down to a question of commitment. Which one are you more committed to? The aging veteran you invested a decent about money in or the youngster supposedly just coming into his element? I would pull Lilly, at this point, for a few reasons. First, age is a factor. We’re going to have more upside with Hill because he is younger. Why not get him the innings he needs to begin to work out his issues? A move to the pen for Hill would be much more likely to yield confidence issues because of his lack of experience. Lilly on the other hand would seem to deal with a demotion a little better because he’s had success in the past. He doesn’t lack confidence in his stuff…his stuff is just not working. For the Cubs, I think they will be more inclined to stick with Lilly longer because of the money invested.

2. Who do you bring into the rotation to replace Lilly or Hill?
This one is actually a good problem to have because it means we have options. Both Jon Lieber and Sean Marshall have my confidence. I would be fine with either in the rotation. If I had to choose one, I’d choose Lieber simply for selfish reasons. He usually works quickly and limits his pitches, which tends to make the game shorter. Shorter games = happier wife = well, you get the picture.

3. How long until we should consider a change?
I’m a big proponent of the one month idea in the beginning of the season, especially when you factor in the fact that we’re still winning games. With a series against the Pirates this weekend, it’s not out of the question to assume the Cubs will be in first place come Monday morning. I’m gonna wait until May 1st before I seriously entertain the idea of making one or potentially two changes to the rotation.

4. Why do the French have their own flavor of vanilla ice cream?
If you can figure this one out, you may have the keys to the meaning of life in your back pocket and just don’t realize it.

Two of three is the minimum I’ll accept this weekend. Let’s go out and make it happen, starting with Rich Hill tomorrow.

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Soriano Who?

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

First Star – Kosuke Fukudome (.166)
Second Star – Derrek Lee (.102)
Third Star – Mark DeRosa (.101)
Top Play – Fukudome’s double in the 1st scoring 2 (+.149)

All star information comes from WPA. For More Information visit

I present to you three reasons I’m not worried about Soriano going on the shelf for a few weeks or even a month.

Reason # 1He wasn’t really helping the team to begin with
Is it just me does everyone realize that the record so far has basically been achieved in spite of the start that Soriano has gotten himself off to. He hasn’t been hitting the ball well at all and maybe some shelf time will help him regain his stroke. We saw what happened last year when he came back. He put the team on his back and carried us to the postseason.

Reason # 2It gives us a chance to take a good long look at Eric Patterson and Felix Pie
I’m a big fan of both of these guys and really want them to be a part of the future for this team. In order for that to happen, they have to in turn be a part of the present. Both have proven themselves at the AAA level and now need to get a shot at playing every day. With Soriano going on the shelf, it opens the door for one or both to step in, get a chance to play and hopefully impress. In case you forgot, I actually wrote about how Patterson could be our version of Brian Roberts. I still believe that to be the case if given the chance.

Reason # 3It finally gives us the chance to move him to the middle of the order with good reason
Two leg injuries in less than a year, enough said. Soriano is not a leadoff guy after this. His legs are going to be a problem for the rest of his career, so it’s time to get something out of our investment for the long haul and begin to move him down in the order.

Misc. Notes
  • Ryan Theriot just missed hitting home runs in back to back games for the first time in his career in the 1st inning.
  • DeRosa looked completely lost in LF on a Joey Votto flyball in the 2nd. I’m all about some DeRosa love, but to assume that he’s the long term solution in the OF is a terrible idea. Not only has he said he doesn’t want to be a full time outfielder, but it’s not his best defensive position as evidenced by tonight. Give the at bats to Johnson and Patterson and let DeRosa shift back to 2B.
  • Big leads allow me to relax and go to bed early (after the 6h)
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Soriano to DL and Patterson Recalled

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs today placed outfielder Alfonso Soriano on the 15-day disabled list with a right calf strain and recalled infielder Eric Patterson from Triple-A Iowa.

Patterson will wear uniform No. 4 and is available for tonight’s game against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field.

The 25-year-old has a career .296 (451-for-1522) batting average with 80 doubles, 28 triples, 38 home runs and 114 stolen bases in 396 minor league games. Selected by the Cubs in the eighth round of the 2004 Draft, Patterson made his major league debut last season and saw action in seven games, going 2-for-8 (.250) with one double.

Patterson is batting .222 (8-for-36) with one double, one triple, one home run and three RBI in 11 games with Iowa this season. The left-handed batter and right-handed thrower has played nine games at second base, one game in center field and was utilized solely as a pinch-hitter in his other contest. Patterson batted .298 (14-for-47) with one double, one home run and five RBI in 21 games with the Cubs during Spring Training this year.

Soriano strained his right calf after making a catch to end the top of the first inning last night. He is batting .175 (17-for-57) with one double, two home runs and five RBI in 13 games this season.

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Just Stop The Hop

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

First Star – Derrek Lee (.291)
Second Star – Mark DeRosa (.179)
Third Star – Carlos Marmol (.173)
Top Play – Lee’s HR off A. Harang in the 5th (+.319)

All star information comes from WPA. For More Information visit

In case you missed it, Soriano made a routine catch in the first inning off the bat of Brandon Phillips. As usual, he did his characteristic retarded hop and this time it came back to bite him in the calf. He was helped off the field by a teammate and was pinch hit for to leadoff the game by Mike Fontenot. I’ll be honest with you. I’m not the least bit sympathetic for him and take the attitude that he gets what he deserves. I know it sounds cold and you never really want to make lite of peoples misfortunes, but when you do dumb things, you get what you deserve. Hopefully it’s just a tweaked ankle that can serve as a warning to knock off the hop for the good of the team. It’s made me nervous from the time I first noticed it. Hopefully this fixes that.

Random Game Notes

  • There is much talk about the lack of black players in the league these days, but I’m concerned about the lack of white players sporting the Jackie Robinson jersey today. Here is a complete list of the 330 players that sported the # 42. It needs more white boys. Can’t they honor a great man too?
  • Ryan Dempster has been better than most would have expected so far this year, though the walks were a bit alarming tonight. Overall, I think we made the right call with bringing him into the rotation.
  • Would you have guessed that Derrek Lee would be atop the leaderboard for home runs after the first half of April?
  • I think way too much has been made about the return of Dusty Baker to Wrigley Field than was needed. I found myself completely forgetting about it once the game got started, which is the way it should be.
  • Harry Pavlidis mentioned on his blog “Corey Patterson flew out to Felix Pie. Much to my relief, this proves that they are not the same person.”
  • Coming into the game, for some reason, the Reds lead the playoff probability percentage on Baseball Prospectus. I can’t quite figure that out. They’re not as good as they will be down the road. They’re not going to be a factor this year.
  • I asked the question yesterday that no one answered so I’ll ask it again. If you had to pick between Ted Lilly or Rich Hill right now to win one game for you, who would you throw out there?
  • Ken Griffey Jr hit home run # 595 and each time he hits one it starts the talk about what could have been. Griffey is one of my favorite players and that got me thinking about what my all time favorite lineup would look like.

C – Jason Kendall
1B – Mark Grace
2b – Craig Biggio
SS – Jack Wilson & Rey Sanchez
3B – Kelly Gruber
OF – Kirby Puckett
OF – Ken Griffey Jr
OF – Ichiro
SP – Greg Maddux
SP – Steve Avery
SP – Steve Trachsel
SP – Curt Shilling
SP – Matt Clement

What does yours look like?

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Probables & Farm Report

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008
Question of the Day

If you had one game to win and you had a choice between Rich Hill and Ted Lilly as your starter right now, who do you throw on the mound for the start and why?

Scouting Report on Today’s Starting Pitchers

Ryan Dempster – Dempster should’ve picked up a win in his last start against the Pirates. He gave up one hit over seven scoreless innings, and that was a first-inning single to Jason Bay. Dempster was pulled for a pinch-hitter after throwing 98 pitches. He’s still getting used to starting, Lou Piniella reasoned. But Jason Bay hit a game-tying home run off Kerry Wood to force extra innings, and the Cubs eventually won in 15. Dempster has looked solid as a starter. His hard work this offseason appears to have paid off.

Aaron Harang – In notching his first win of the season, Harang was impressive for eight innings in a 4-1 win over the Brewers at Miller Park on Thursday. Taking advantage of Milwaukee’s aggressive swinging, the Cincinnati ace worked ahead most of the day and allowed one earned run on five hits without a walk and three strikeouts. Of his 99 pitches, 74 were for strikes. Harang retired 20 of his last 22 batters in the game. In six starts last season vs. the Cubs, Harang was 3-2 with a 4.76 ERA. At Wrigley Field over his career, he’s 4-0 with a 4.65 ERA in eight games.

  • He uses his size to his advantage and is fairly durable, able to pitch effectively beyond the fifth inning. He can work out of jams.
  • Has trouble getting ahead in the count and struggles against right-handed hitters.
  • Good mid- rotation righty.

View the stat preview from Baseball Reference here

All Scouting Information taken from and

News and Notes

  • Mark Holliman pitched 6.0 scoreless innings
  • Dae-Eun Rhee pitched 6.0 scoreless innings and is 3-0 with a 0.56 ERA in 3 starts for Peoria
  • Kyler Burke was 3-for-3
  • Tony Thomas hit 2 extra-base hits
  • Matt Matulia was 3-for-3

    Tracked Player Results

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

    Organizational Roundup

    (AAA) – Iowa Cubs – Won against Nashville (5-4)

    (AA) – Tennessee Smokies – Lost to Montgomery (3-10)

    (High A) – Daytona Cubs – Lost to Vero Beach (6-10)

    (A) – Peoria Chiefs – Won against West Michigan (4-0)

    (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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    Minor League Notes

    Monday, April 14th, 2008

    I’ve come across some news and notes for some of our farmhands and I thought I’d pass them along to you.

    Jonathan Mayo mentioned Jeff Samardzija in a recent article on in the “Year Away” section. – Source

    Remember when the Cubs took Jeff Samardzija, the two-sport star out of Notre Dame, and people thought perhaps they had invested too much in a guy who hadn’t done that much pitching? Well, talk about shortening the learning curve — the former wide receiver has allowed just one run on seven hits over his first 12 innings in two starts, both wins.

    Baseball America lists some minor league transactions pertaining to the team – Source

    Released: RHP Yusdel Tuero, C J.D. Closser
    Acquired: OF Doug Deeds from Twins for future considerations
    Recalled: LHP Sean Marshall
    Optioned to Triple-A: LHP Carmen Pignatiello
    Placed on 7-day DL: 3B Matt Craig
    Reinstated from DL: C Tony Richie
    Reinstated from inactive list: RHP Yusdel Tuero

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    Farm Report – 4/14

    Monday, April 14th, 2008

    News and Notes

    • Marquez Smith was 3-for-8
    • Tyler Colvin was 3-for-6
    • Doug Deeds hit 2 extra-base hits

    Tracked Player Results

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

    Organizational Roundup

    (AAA) – Iowa Cubs – Lost against Nashville (1-7)

    (AA) – Tennessee Smokies – Won against Jacksonville (8-7)

    (High A) – Daytona Cubs – No Game

    (A) – Peoria Chiefs – Lost a DH to Kane County (1-2 & 4-6)

    (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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    Salvaging Something Out Of The Deal

    Sunday, April 13th, 2008

    First Star – Kerry Wood (.253)
    Second Star – Carlos Zambrano (.240)
    Third Star – Bob Howry (.209)
    Play of the Game – Zambrano reaches on a FC and advances to 2nd (.322 WPA added)

    I’m trying another recap style. How’s this one?

    The Pitching – Jason Marquis started his day disastrously, pitching himself into major trouble in the first two innings of play, yet only giving up one run. After that he seemed to settle into a bit of a groove until the bottom of the fifth. Lou came out to talk to him with two outs as if to remind him that if he left at that point, he hadn’t yet qualified for a win. That was enough and Marquis took care of business and got the last out. Michael Wuertz came in to start the 6th and did not look good at all, giving up a leadoff home run and then the tying run before being lifted with runners still on the bases and no outs. It was a tough situation for Sean Marshall to come into, facing Chase Utley and Ryan Howard back to back. He did a good job in getting both to fly out, only allowing a run on the Utley sac fly. Carlos Marmol came in to finish it out after being off the past few days for some much needed rest. Woody came in and pitched tremendously in a critical time of the game to pick up the win after Howry save that made me a bit nervous. I think Wood’s outing was an important one because it showed he could go two innings without his arm falling off. At the same time, I was nervous when he couldn’t find the plate to start the ninth. I was fine with Lou bringing him back out there, but began to get a little nervous that it was the wrong call after the first few pitches appeared to have no planned location whatsoever.

    Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due – During the game, there was a discussion by Len and Bob about replay in the game that stemmed from a call that saw Soriano called out on a grounder despite what appeared to be Ryan Howard taking his foot off the bag. One of the things Len mentioned, and it’s funny that he mentioned this prior to a call later in the game, that it’s common for people to complain when the calls in a game are poor, but rare when you see a team either compliment an umpires calls or admit that they went in their favor. With that being said, I think it’s important to say that the call against Soriano was too close to tell, even after several replays in slow motion. The ump did the best he could with what he had. Later in the game, DeRosa but a ball out of the park over the foul pole and was given credit for a home run. Charlie Manuel argued the call, stating that the ball went over the pole foul. This time, I thought the Phillies probably missed out on a call, but again the play was a judgement call. Even after seeing it on replay it was inconclusive. The point of all this is that it’s important to cut the umpires a break. Each time we complain, we do so with a couple of things factoring into the equation that the umpires don’t have, our team bias and the ability to see the play replayed many times in slow motion. Umpires are human. They make mistakes and yet do the best they can. They take great pride in getting the calls as accurate as they can because they know they’re at the highest level of their profession. No umpire wants to lose a job in the Major Leagues. I give the guys the benefit of the doubt and take the position that no umpire has ever decided the game. If you don’t like the call, you shouldn’t have put yourself in a position where that call can make or break you.

    Excuse Me…I Didn’t Mean To Hit That Single – Geovany Soto was brought into the game as a pinch hitter for Felix Pie who was brought in as a pinch hitter to begin with. After a Ronny Cedeno stolen base of third, which could have turned into one of those all or nothing Cedeno plays, Soto took a half swing and accidentally made contact with the ball, sending it just past Utley and scoring the tying run of the ballgame. Geo had been 0 for the last 9, so it’s nice to see him get a key hit in a key situation. It’s certainly better than the result we would have received from Pie in that situation.

    I Get A Star For That?!?! – Who knew you could be the 2nd star of the game after an 0-1 performance? One of the only problems I have with the WPA system is that it’s fielding independent. An example would be the Zambrano fielder’s choice play that scored Cedeno. If it was looked at in terms of ERA, the pitcher wouldn’t have been punished for the error by Utley. It’s not so with WPA. Since fielding is not factored in, only the hitter and pitcher are debited and credited. If a play is good for the hitter’s team, the hitter gets the credit and the pitcher takes the bad parts. Because the error by Utley happened on Zambrano’s at bat, Big Z was credited with doing something great and Seanz was debited despite it being Utley’s fault.

    Taking a page out of the Cubs book, the Phillies busted out with a power hitting in the leadoff spot today in Geoff Jenkins. They’re not trying a new concept, but rather save Shane Victorino go on the DL last night. Coming into the game today, Jenkins has a grand total of 14 plate appearances (4 in the leadoff spot) from the 1st or second spot in the order. The majority of his time has come in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth spot. It’s an interesting thing to try.

    Matt’s Notes

    Phew, this might take a bit to shake the rust off. My first recap of the year. Good thing I’ve got Jamie “the ageless wonder” to help me along. While all the talk was about Rich Hill’s spot in the bullpen this morning, I kept wondering how strange it was that I felt better having Jason Marquis returning today. How weird is it to think that Dempster or Marquis are the men in the rotation to stop the bleeding?

    Jamie Moyer was his typical self. Around the zone, which was quite small today, but servicable for four innings. Sound familiar? Marquis, on the other hand, was obviously still feeling his way through his mechanics after a bout with strep throat. He made the first two innings, shall we say, interesting. Then seemed to settle in for a bit. A very tiny bit. As in just the third inning.

    In the meantime, the Cubbies roped together a 4-2 lead, off of a foul ball home run from Mark DeRosa. Say what you want, but he was way out in front of that pitch. There’s no way it was fair. The natural hook of a right hander’s hit kept that ball barely within the foul line. There’s no way it was still fair over the pole, it would have hooked foul before then. In any case, the Cubs caught a break. Which seemed to be the only way they could win on this road trip.

    Chase Utley’s throwing error brought in Ronny Cedeno, whom I still have no idea why he was used as a pinch runner in the 8th. Let’s see, Mark DeRosa. Smart ballplayer and base runner. Cedeno. Not so much. His steal attempt of third made my heart jump into my throat. He got lucky, because that throw was on the money, and about .000001 seconds too late. Have I mentioned how much his baseballs stupidity bugs me? OK, where was I? Oh yes, Utley’s throwing error scored the go ahead run in the top of the tenth, which was another gift. And can I say that Ryan Howard doesn’t look like he could stop a throw anywhere near the dirt? Then again Henry Blanco looked like he hadn’t seen a catcher’s mitt in a few years today too. Ugh. Why do I always seem to recap ugly games?

    I guess on the plus side, Howry seemed to get himself slightly righted, and grabbed himself a Save. Let’s hope this gets him back into the mix, because if I have to watch Michael Wuertz throw watermelons like he did today, so help me.

    Let’s hope the Cubs take this 4-2 gift of a road trip and put some hurting on the Reds. I’m not a fan of winning ugly. But I’ll take it for now.

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