Archive for July, 2008

What is it about Arizona that makes the bats go cold?

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

We always hear the excuse that cold water shrinks a penis. We hear the excuse that cold weather curbs hitting. How do you explain not being able to hit in a hot weather environment? The Cubs wasted a gem of an outing that I really felt had the making of a no-hitter. So much, in fact that I set the Tivo in the 5th so I could record the last few innings and have them on DVD. Rich Harden was that good last night. Unfortunately, Randy Johnson got it done and the Cubs went down 2-0.

If you throw out the 9 run explosion in Houston on Sunday, the Cubs have put up the following numbers over the last few games: 0, 1, 1, 2. That’s not gonna get it done. It’s become very clear that this team, specifically this offense, sorely misses the bat of Alfonso Soriano. Now the key is to try to get some offense over the next few days in his absence and try to keep this lead in the division.

News & Notes

  • Cubs draft corp. gets fined – According to, MLB has fined the Cubs for “failure to notify the League office prior to signing a player.” Seriously, if this is really that big of a deal that MLB has to fine a team, they’ve got to get out more. Why not try to figure out a better solution to the All Star game fiasco that almost turned into a complete farce. Fix things like that rather than fine teams for forgetting to let you know they signed a player. (Source)
  • No DL for Kerry Wood? – I’m crossing my fingers that this is the case, but the more I think about it, the more I feel like maybe it would almost be the best scenario for Woody to go on the DL and let the blister fully heal. If you’ve ever had a blister, and who hasn’t, it’s hard to do anything without aggravating it. It might be a better idea to have him let that thing really get better and then come back around August 1st. That would give him, essentially, 2+ weeks of heal time.
  • Rehab Start # 1 for Soriano – Alfonso Soriano played yesterday with the AZ Cubs and went 0-2 with a walk. The most amusing part was that he was brushed back off the plate in his first at bat. I wonder if the pitcher did that on purpose or if he really had a lack of control. You’ve got to wonder with a kid that low facing a guy that big.
  • The One That Got Away?Brian Dopirak, one of the most talked about prospects in the system over the last few years is currently playing DH in the Toronto organization in Dunedin (A+). He’s finally having the kind of breakout year in the power and overall offensive area that many believed he was capable of when he was with the Cubs. The only problem is that it’s in an area that’s lower than AA and he’s 24. It’s nice to see him doing well, but I’m not quite sure why Baseball America keeps highlighting it every time he hits a HR.

Farm Recaps

Peoria 7, Great Lakes 1 – The Peoria Chiefs won the final game of their three-game series with Great Lakes today with a score of 7-1 in front of 5,607 fans at O’Brien Field. The win puts the Chiefs at 21-10 in the second half and at 51-48 overall.

The Chiefs put up the first run of the game in the second inning off Loons starter Josh Lindblom. Lindblom walked Jovan Rosa to lead off the inning, and after Rebel Ridling flew out to left, Luis Bautista singled. Brandon Guyer doubled to left to score Rosa and put the Chiefs up 1-0.

Great Lakes matched the Chiefs with a run of their own in the fourth. With one out, Andrew Lambo hit a solo home run to right field off Jay Jackson to tie the teams 1-1.

The game didn’t stay tied for long as the Chiefs answered back in their half of the fourth with two more runs to again take the lead. Bautista singled with one down off Loons reliever Justin Miller, and Guyer reached on an error by Great Lakes third baseman Brandon Taylor. Luis Flores added a base hit to score Bautista and put the Chiefs ahead 2-1. Elvis Lara then reached on a fielders choice as Flores was thrown out, and Guyer scored to extend the lead to 3-1.

Peoria pulled even further ahead in the sixth thanks to a three-run homer from Guyer. Rosa was put into scoring position courtesy of Miller, as he walked and then moved to second on an error by the pitcher. Ridling followed with an infield single, and Bautista advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt. Guyer hit a three-run homer, his eighth of the season, over the left field wall and out to the street to make it 6-1.

Bautista led off the eighth inning with a solo home run, his 11th of the season, to left field off Loons reliever Miguel Ramirez to extend the Chiefs lead to 7-1.

Jose Pina started for the Chiefs and threw three innings, keeping the Loons scoreless and allowing only one hit. Jackson (2-0) came in to throw four innings and allow one run on four hits while striking out seven. Ashwood pitched one inning, giving up one hit and no runs.

Boise 9, Everett 5 – A six-run third inning helped guide the Boise Hawks to their eighth victory in nine games and their sixth-straight home win, knocking off the Everett AquaSox, 9-5, before 2,187 fans at Memorial Stadium.

Ten men came to plate in the third, as the Hawks got an RBI fielders choice from Josh Harrison, a bases loaded walk from Ryan Keedy, and RBI infield single from Carlos Perez, a Kyler Burke sacrifice fly, and a Drew Rundle RBI double to build the big lead.

Everett would make it tight late, as Welington Dotel’s second homer of the night in the ninth made it 9-2, with the Frogs closing to 9-5 on a wild pitch with two outs in the inning. However, John Muller got Nate Tenbrink to ground out to first with the tying run on deck to end the game, notching his eighth save.

Harol Tolentino got the win, throwing five shutout innings, becoming the first Hawk pitcher to win as a starter this season. Marwin Gonzalez and Keedy each had three hits in the game, while Harrison drove in three. Dotel went 4-for-4 in the loss for Everett.

Game 3 of the series is tomorrow night, with James Leverton of Boise meeting Steven Hensley of Everett.

While I’m thinking about it, if you haven’t had a chance to watch the ESPY’s, which I never do, you missed this courtesy of Justin Timberlake, who I now have new respect for.

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Cubs vs. Diamondbacks

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Series Tale of the Tape

Probable Pitchers

Monday – Rich Harden vs. Randy Johnson (9:40pm EDT)

Tuesday – Jason Marquis vs. Micah Owings (9:40pm EDT)

Wednesday – Ted Lilly vs. Doug Davis (9:40pm EDT)

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Monday Notes

Monday, July 21st, 2008

Question of the Day

Which team that currently trails us scares you more? Milwaukee or St. Louis? Why? For me, I’ve maintained that it’s Milwaukee, who appears to be going all in. They know they can’t resign CC Sabathia or probably even Ben Sheets. They just added Ray Durham, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make another move for the bullpen. St. Louis doesn’t appear to be looking into anything, which has Tony LaRussa frustrated. All that considered, I look for the Cards to begin to fall off as the year wears on into August. Milwaukee is the team to catch us in my opinion. What do you think?

News & Notes

  • Apparently A.J. Burnett has slowed on his trade demands and no longer wants to leave Toronto, let alone come to the Cubs. – (Source)
  • Kerry Wood appears to be headed to the DL, which would be the 12th time in his career. The good thing is that it’s just due to a blister and not arm trouble. In addition, because the Cubs haven’t used him in a few days, the DL stint can be back dated, which shortens the trip if needed.
  • Rich Hill mentioned that he seems to have figured out what has caused the control issues. He blames it on back pain, which I can attest can mess you up big time. I don’t pitch, but I’ve tweaked my back on two separate occasions and they’ve been quite painful and debilitating for a few days. I really hope that’s the issue because that would be a great insurance addition if Rich Harden were to flop down the stretch. At the same time, if Hill starts to come back strong, does that mean Dempster is gone after this season?
  • Alfonso Soriano is set to play the first game of his rehab stint tonight for the Arizona Cubs. My fear is that he hits a home run tonight and thinks he’s back for good. Rookie league is a lot different that big league pitching. Please be patient and get your cuts in and come back for the Florida series this weekend.

Revenge of the Creature on dvd

Farm Recaps

Iowa 2, Nashville 1 – Jeff Samardzija tossed six solid innings as the Iowa Cubs defeated the Nashville Sounds 2-1 at Principal Park Sunday afternoon.

Samardzija (4-1) allowed just three Sounds to reach base in his six innings of work, including two hits, to pick up the win.

After striking out two in the top of the first inning, Samardzija worked
with a 1-0 Cubs lead when Andres Torres roped a lead-off home run to left field off Nashville starter Chris Narveson.

Third basemen Casey McGehee made it a 2-0 lead with a solo home run to right field. Originally ruled a triple, umpires later overturned the call.

That was all Samardzija needed, as the right-hander went on to retire eight in a row from the third to fifth inning. He allowed hits to Brendan Katin in the first and pinch hitter Mel Stocker in the sixth. Stocker would score the Sounds lone run that inning after stealing second and advancing to third on a wild pitch. Vinny Rottino brought Nashville to within one when he drove Stocker in with a two-out sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.

Narveson took the loss (3-12) giving up the two runs on four hits, while
striking out seven in five innings on the mound. Iowa reliever Michael Wuertz pitched a perfect ninth inning for his first save of the season.

Samardzija, Hector Carrasco, and Wuertz combined to strike out 12 on the day. Samardzija’s nine strikeouts tied a season-high for the right-hander.

Peoria 7, Great Lakes 1 – The Peoria Chiefs bounced back to beat the visiting Great Lakes Loons 7-1 in the middle game of a three-game series on Sunday afternoon at O’Brien Field. The win improves the Chiefs to 20-10 in the second half and will give them at least a two game lead over second place Beloit in the Western Division. Peoria jumped on Great Lakes starter Bryan Morris to claim a first inning lead. Jonathan Wyatt hustled his way into a double on a ball blooped into center field. Nate Samson followed with an opposite field double to score Wyatt from second and put the Chiefs in front 1-0. After Samson stole third base and Jovan Rosa struck out, Rebel Ridling hit a ball back up the middle to score Samson to make it 2-0. Samson helped spark the Chiefs offense in the third inning after drawing a one-out walk against Morris. He picked up his second stolen base of the game when he swiped second to move into scoring position. Rosa’s league-leading 31st double of the season scored Samson from second to extend the Chiefs lead to 3-0.

Kreier retired the first ten batters in the Loons batting order before giving up a one out double to Erik Kanaby in the fourth inning. A fly out to the warning track in center field by Andrew Lambo moved Kanaby to third base, but Kreier got Eduardo Perez to fly out to left field to end the inning.
The Chiefs chased Morris from the game in the fifth inning. Jake Opitz walked to start the inning, and Wyatt followed with his second hit of the day to put two on with no outs. Samson moved bother runners into scoring position with his 19th sacrifice bunt of the season. With two outs, Ridling dropped a base hit into left field that scored both Opitz and Samson and give the Chiefs a 5-0 lead.

Peoria broke the game open in the sixth inning against Loons reliever Miguel Sanfler. Opitz reached on a fielders choice and stole second base to move into scoring position with one out. Wyatt collected his third hit of the afternoon with a single up the middle to score Opitz and make it a 6-0 Chiefs advantage. After a walk to Samson, Rosa laced a single into left field to score Wyatt and make it a 7-0 game.

Great Lakes broke up the shutout in the ninth inning against Chiefs reliever Jordan Latham. Kanaby got his third hit of the game with a leadoff base hit and moved to second on a ground out by Andrew Lambo. A passed ball moved Kanaby to third base, and Eduardo Perez grounded out to score Kanaby and make it 7-1.

The 20-year old Kreier tossed six scoreless innings for the second time this season. The right-hander allowed just two hits, both to Kanaby, while striking out one and walking just one as he notched his fifth win of the season. Jake Muyco worked two scoreless innings out of the Chiefs bullpen while allowing just one hit. Latham allowed an unearned run in the ninth inning on one hit, and he struck out one.

Player of the Game – Kevin Kreier (P) – Kreier held the Loons scoreless for his six innings pitched, completing this feat for the second time this season. He allowed only two hits while striking out one and walking one as he took the win, his fifth of the season.

Tennessee 7, Huntsville 3 – The Tennessee Smokies (45-58, 18-12) snapped a three game slide to the Huntsville Stars (58-42, 17-13), by winning 7-3 at Joe W. Davis Stadium Sunday night in front of 1,532. The win gives Tennessee a one game lead for first in the Southern League North division over the Stars. The Smokies tagged a pair of two-run homeruns in the third inning for an early 4-0 advantage. Sam Fuld followed a Mark Holliman single by launching a missile of the right field wall. Jake Fox then singled with two outs and Blake Lalli crushed another ball to right and out of the park.

Mark Holliman was fantastic in the start going 5 innings of shutout baseball. He would issue a walk along with four strikeouts. Tennessee added to their lead in the sixth. Fuld singled with two outs and scored on a Nate Spears double. Lorenzo Cain helped get Huntsville on the board. He tripled past a diving leftfielder Jake Fox. Cain scored on an Alcides Escobar groundout to short. The Stars took advantage of four walks in the eighth inning which plated two more runs to make the score 6-3. Fox then celebrated his 27th birthday in style by connecting on a solo homerun in the ninth.

Boise 9, Everett 6 – Drew Rundle gapped an RBI triple in the seventh inning to break a 6-6 tie, as the Boise Hawks won their fifth straight home game with a 9-6 victory over the Everett AquaSox before 1,891 fans at Memorial Stadium. The win for the Hawks was their seventh in eight games and pulled Boise within five games of first-place Spokane in the Northwest League’s Eastern Division. The Hawks scored three in the second inning to take an early lead, as RBI doubles from Michael Brenly and Josh Harrison, along with a Kurt Calvert RBI single gave Boise the 3-0 lead.

The AquaSox would rally, getting back-to-back RBI doubles from Luis Nunez and Kevin Reynolds in the third to cut the lead to 3-2, then take the lead in the fifth on a Nunez RBI single, building a 5-3 advantage. Boise would retake the lead in the sixth on a bases loaded walk to Kyler Burke and a Harrison two-run single, but a Reynolds RBI single in the seventh re-tied the game, setting up Rundle’s heroics. Luke Sommer got the win for the Hawks, tossing three innings of two-hit relief, retiring the final seven men in order. Calvert went 3-for-4 in the win, with Harrison, Rundle, and Burke each recording two hits. Nunez went 3-for-4 in the loss for the Frogs.

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Gotta Blame the Offense

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

First Star – Brian Moehler

Second Star – Ted Lilly

Third Star – Geoff Geary

There is not another way to say it. When the offense gets you one run and that comes on a home run, there is no excuse. I remember Roger Clemens used to have this problem when he pitched for the Astros. Each outing he’d give up one or two runs but have his team not score. Ted Lilly was the victim last night as he went seven strong innings, only giving up a homer. This pleased me because his last outing was anything less than desirable. He’s definitely solidified his spot as a very solid third starter in this rotation and I really trust him.I took a look at the Win Probability added by the offense and the pitching last night and it only confirmed my feelings from last night. Here’s a glance at the numbers.Pitching: .002 (but they were at .188 before the Pence double)

Offense: -.502

What does that mean? Well look at it this way. When you start a game, each team has a 50/50 chance of winning that game. The -.502 means that our hitting essentially gave the game to the Astros. Not only did the offense not add any chance of winning to the team, but they were so bad that they essentially gave that 50% to the Astros. The easiest way to look at it is like a tug of war. Each team starts with the same amount to pull to win the game. That amount is 50%. By the Cubs offense going negative essentially 50% due to the offense, it’s not the pitching’s fault. At the same time, you could argue that the Astros pitching had some hand in the win, but it’s hard to argue that it was more due to someone like Brian Moehler than it was our lack of hitting. Props to Jimmy ballgame for coming up with another home run. That was all we could muster.


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Scouting the Astros Series

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Series Tale of the Tape

Scouting Reports

Ted Lilly – is looking forward to getting off to a better start in the second half. The lefty did win nine games, but in his last outing July 10 against the Reds, he was pulled after 2 2/3 innings. It was his shortest start of the season. Lilly gave up four runs on six hits, including two home runs, in the loss. He was 7-4 in the second half last year.

  • Lilly is that rare pitcher who can throw with control and power and all with his left arm. Can pitch well late into his starts and is rough on left-handed hitters.
  • In general, Lilly has very good stuff but when he gets hit, he gets hit hard, mostly because he offers too many pitches up in the zone that hitters can drive. Also has trouble with right-handed hitters.
  • Decent mid-rotation lefty.

Brian Moehler – ended his first half on a positive note, allowing four runs over six innings in a win over the Pirates. The right-hander allowed one run over three consecutive starts before yielding five to the Braves on July 4. Moehler faced the Cubs once this year, taking a loss after yielding three runs over five innings. Lifetime vs. the Cubs, Moehler is 1-1 with a 4.18 ERA over seven games (four starts).

  • Has a wealth of experience and be used in a wide variety of roles. Doesn’t get fazed whenever batters start getting the better of him.
  • Has trouble harnessing his pitches, and doesn’t have the stuff to blow hitters away. Is no longer reliable in pressure situations.
  • A long reliever.

Carlos Zambrano – The All-Star right-hander will try to pick up where he left off in the second half. Zambrano held the Reds to one hit over eight innings in his last start prior to the break. Big Z was limited to 100-105 pitches in that game because it was his second start after being on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder. In his two starts since coming off the DL, he’s given up one run on five hits over 14 innings. This was the second straight first half in which Zambrano won 10 games. Let’s see if he can match that in the second half.

  • He can throw big heat from two different angles and has hit 99 on the gun. His slider can be a great out pitch and he has remarkable endurance.
  • Command is his one consistent flaw, but he can be effectively wild. Throwing from different angles gets him into trouble when his mechanics aren’t right.
  • A legitimate frontline starter.

Wandy Rodriguez – has a 3-4 record and a 4.50 ERA over eight career games vs. the Cubs. He allowed eight hits over 5 1/3 innings against the Nationals on July 12, getting a win despite four earned runs.

  • When he’s on, he keeps his good fastball low in the zone and induces ground balls, while setting the heat up with a solid change and good breaking stuff.
  • Command can be a problem at times. Must work on his approach with runners on, as well as his endurance beyond the sixth inning.
  • A quality mid-rotation starter.

Ryan Dempster – ended the first half on a sour note, suffering his first loss at Wrigley Field in 12 starts. The right-hander gave up four runs, seven hits and three walks over 6 2/3 innings in the outing. It’s the second time in his dozen starts at home that he’s given up four runs. Dempster faced the Astros once this season, May 20, and took the loss.

  • His slider devastates both righties and lefties and he smokes a sinking fastball past hitters at 92-94 mph. He has a deceptive delivery that helps both when going to the plate and keeping runners honest.
  • Sometimes his abundant energy gets in the way; he’ll find himself too pumped up early on and get knocked around a bit. He has some problems with his command and gets in homer trouble when he leaves his fastball dangling up in the zone.
  • Quality starter and/or reliever.

Brandon Backe – had one of his best outings of the season against the Nationals on July 13, shutting Washington out through seven frames on five hits. His previous start against the Pirates lasted only three innings thanks to a nearly three-hour rain delay — he allowed no runs on three hits. He’s 4-2 all-time against Pittsburgh with a 3.09 ERA.

  • His stuff, particularly his great curveball, can be nasty against right-handed hitters. Can work himself out of tight spots with aplomb.
  • Injuries have constantly plagued his career. Left-handed hitters hammer him on occasion. As a starter, stamina has often been an issue.
  • A mid-rotation starter when healthy.

Scouting Reports provided by and

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