Archive for July, 2008

Heading To The Break

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Today I had a  of things I needed to get done around the house. An online test to take (I passed, thank you very much), some painting, and final touches on a bathroom renovation, that took entirely too much time last weekend. I didn’t figure to get any time to watch the game, especially since I had pissed away yesterday drinking, and eating, and drinking some more. The gods were with me, and I managed to finish up my honey do’s in short order, and watch the game. Sort of. I napped through some of it.

 After Friday and Saturday’s win, I really just hoped the Cubs would sweep, and go into the break on a winning note. At least, that’s what I thought would be nice especially after the meltdown from Saturday, ahem Carlos. It’d still be a series win, which is all you can ask for, but I like to see teams hit the break on a winning note.

Alas, it was not to be today. Dempster did not have his “A” stuff and really struggled with his command. I got the distinct feeling that he was thinking too much about getting to 11 and 0 at Wrigley. It’s a part of the mental game that gets taken for granted too much. As I’ve said before, the grey matter can really mess you up, in the long term and from game to game. Ahem, Carlos. The short rally in the bottom of the ninth was not menat to be. I really thought the best chance they had to make the game interesting was after Edmond’s double, and then in the eighth, when A-Ram hit that weak grounder to Castillo for the DP.

I kind of had the feeling the whole team was already mentally in the break. Oh well, it happens. As long as they get back to business when they get back.

  • Carlos Marmol was named to the All Star game today in place of Kerry Wood. I really hope Clint Hurdle keeps him out of the game.  That arm needs serious rest. Lou if you’re reading this (yeah, right) please tell Hurdle to keep Carlos on the bench.
  • Did anyone else notice Edmonds drop a four letter word after his double? I did. He knew he missed a homer. That would of changed a 3-1 game to 3-2. Had he gone yard, I think the Cubs would of won. 
  • Just a mini-rant. For whatever reason, I couldn’t get to VFTB from work the past couple of days. I mean seriously, how am I supposed to kill time? I guess, take it as an FYI, if I’m not posting, I’m not ignoring anyone. I can’t get here.  Grrrrr.
  • Would anyone be interested in a series of articles/posts pertaining to items like how a balls spin, fade, hook, when they’re hit? Defensive positioning? Does anyone have a question that no one on TV ever seems to answer?
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Wha…wha…what Happened?

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

Yesterday, my wife and I headed into Libertyville, for the sole purpose of having a nice lunch, drinking some tasty beers, and most importantly, watching Rich Harden make his debut. Our second date was watching Fred McGriff take the field as a Cub, so it’s kind of a silly ritual.

 After the seventh, the Cubs were clearly not going to lose. Up 7-1, we decided it was time for a walk to clear our heads of the beer, enjoy the fantastic weather, and hit some of the shops. A fantastic Chipoltle dip was calling my name!

 I woke up this morning and saw the score. 11 innings? Holy crap! What happened? It’s clear that Carlos Marmol is suffering, either physically, and most definitely mentally. He’s been overused, and brought up to think he’s unhittable. Um, not so much. Thank god for the All-Star break, although I think he may need a little longer to get him right in the head.

In other news, Kerry Wood is suffering from a finger blister. Good gosh, remember his rookie season, and that was his biggest problem? Are we reverting back to 1998?

Hey, things could be worse. Did anyone see the Cards lose last night? Yikes!The Princess of Nebraska move007 On Her Majesty’s Secret Service trailer

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Scouting the Giants

Friday, July 11th, 2008

Series Tale of the Tape

Pitching Matchups

Matt Cain – A pair of familiar problems plagued Cain through most of his previous start: He too often threw his fastball around the letters and he didn’t attack the strike zone as much as necessary. The righty lasted six innings and gave up five runs and three walks against the Dodgers, unable to beat Los Angeles for the second time this season. Cain was brilliant in eight shutout innings against Cleveland two starts ago, but he’s struggled with his consistency all year.

  • Throws a hot, sinking fastball in the mid-90’s. Adds a strong curveball and solid change-up to his repertoire. Is fiery, smart and durable.
  • Needs to do a better job of getting ahead in the count more often, and improve his overall command. Must also avoid the big inning.
  • Is an ace starter in the making.
  • 1-1, 3.21 in last 14 IP

Jason Marquis – This will be Marquis’ first start since July 1. Because the Cubs wanted to get Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster more starts leading up to the All-Star break, Marquis ended up getting some side work done, and being a backup in the bullpen — just in case. He faced the Giants in his last outing, giving up two runs on four hits and three walks over seven innings. He’s one of the few Cubs who have fared better on the road, compiling a 3.38 ERA away from Wrigley Field as opposed to a 6.29 ERA at home.

  • Marquis has smoking 98-mph heat and is able to keep the ball in the park by inducing ground balls with his biting slider. He handles hitters equally well from both sides, keeps runners close, and doesn’t let that leadoff man do any damage.
  • While his pickoff move may keep runners from stealing, base-runners seem to preoccupy him. He loses focus on the batter and gives up an uncharacteristic number of walks when he already has runners aboard.
  • Solid mid- rotation starter.
  • 0-2, 7.36 in last 11 IP

Kevin Correia – Correia emerged with a no-decision in his last outing, although it may have been the best of his four starts since he returned from the disabled list. Correia went 6 1/3 innings and was charged with four runs before the Giants proceeded to lose to the Cubs, 6-5. Correia lamented his lack of command with his changeup, which he said was responsible for two mistakes against Jim Edmonds. The first resulted in a second-inning leadoff walk that generated a run; the second was a full-count pitch that Edmonds stroked for a two-run homer.

  • Has a good sinking fastball in the low-90’s, plus a solid change-up and slider. Pitches with good command. Is aggressive against right-handed hitters.
  • None of his pitches strikes great fear into hitters, so he needs his mechanics and command to be fine-tuned. Struggles to get left-handed hitters out.
  • A decent bottom-of-the-rotation starter.
  • 0-1, 4.59 in last 17.2 IP

Rich Harden – The hard-throwing Harden makes his Cubs debut against a National League team he is pretty familiar with in San Francisco. Harden stymied the Giants in the Bay Bridge Series last month, tossing six shutout innings of one-hit ball and striking out nine, and he holds an 0.84 career ERA against them. He last pitched on July 6 for Oakland, meaning he gets an extra day of rest following a pair of mediocre five-inning outings by his lofty standards.

  • Backs up mid-90’s heat with a deep arsenal, including a good slider and strong change-up. Is relaxed in tight spots and is capable of getting out of trouble.
  • He’s become a walking hospital ward, which threatens to limit a promising career. Doesn’t get ahead in the count enough, creating high pitch counts.
  • An ace right-hander when healthy.


Tim Lincecum

– Lincecum looked human in his most recent start, allowing four runs and nine hits in six innings at New York. It was his first loss of the season in eight road decisions. It also marked the first time he lost following a Giants defeat. He had been 9-0 with a 2.61 ERA before encountering the Mets. The National League All-Star defeated Chicago on July 3, surrendering three runs in six innings while striking out eight.


  • Has excellent heat, tremendous deception and an almost picture-perfect delivery that may avoid injuries over time. Is a pure strikeout artist.
  • Has to answer durability questions, mainly due to his slight frame (5-11, 170 pounds). Needs to keep the ball in the park with greater frequency.
  • A budding star pitcher.
  • 1-1, 5.25 in last 12 IP

Ryan Dempster – Dempster is 10-0 at Wrigley Field, and he will try to finish the first half on a high note. In his last start against the Reds, the right-hander gave up one run on two hits and four walks over seven innings and struck out five. He’s the second pitcher in franchise history to win 10 wins in one season after recording at least 20 saves the year before. The only other Cub to do that was Phil Regan. In his last eight home starts, Dempster is 7-0 with a 2.08 ERA, and has gone at least six innings in each of those games. After this start, Dempster will go to the All-Star Game, his second appearance and first since 2000.

  • 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.
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Jeff Samardzija is starting to look legit

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

News & Notes

  • Jeff Samardzija struck out 7 batters and only allowed 2 earned runs over 7.0 innings pitched
  • Jason Dubois hit 3 home runs
  • Julio Pena pitched 4.2 scoreless innings
  • Marcos Perez only allowed 1 ER over 7.0 innings pitched

Player Tracker

Game Recaps

Iowa 2, Round Rock 3 – (Box Score)
Iowa 5, Round Rock 2 – (Box Score) – Jason Dubois homered in three straight at-bats as the Iowa Cubs defeated the Round Rock Express 5-2 in game two of a doubleheader at Principal Park Wednesday. The Cubs dropped game one, 3-2.

Dubois’ first shot put Iowa up 2-0, when he drove Chad Reineke’s pitch to left center field for a two-run homer. He made it 3-0 with a solo shot in the third. Dubois capped off the evening with his third of the game and 16th overall with a booming shot to center off Express reliever Jorge Sosa and was greeted at the dugout by a standing ovation from the crowd. Two batters later, Matt Craig connected on his first home run this year as an Iowa Cub to take a 5-0 lead. Round Rock collected two runs on back-to-back homers in the seventh inning for the 5-2 final. Iowa starter Jeff Samardzija threw six shutout innings and a seven-inning complete game. The right-hander allowed seven hits on the night, walking no one, and striking out seven to earn his third win.

Felix Pie and Andres Blanco tallied two hits in the win. Reineke was charged with the loss, lasting four innings, giving up three runs on six hits, including a pair of home runs to Dubois. Dubois became the first I-Cub hitter to homer three times in a game since Jake Fox accomplished the feat on August 11, 2007 at Albuquerque. The Cubs and Express took game one into extra innings with a 2-2 tie, but Mark Saccomanno hit the deciding run, a solo homer, for Round Rock in the eighth.

Tennessee 9, West Tenn 3 – (Box Score) – Nate Spears drove in three runs and Esmailin Caridad pitched a strong game to lead the Smokies to a 9-3 win over the visiting West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx. A boisterous crowd of 2,726 watched the Smokies improve to 15-7 for the second half of the season and solidify their position in first place in the North Division.

Tennessee jumped on Diamond Jaxx starter Doug Fister (5-10) early in the contest, tagging him for six runs in the first three innings. In the first inning, Jake Fox got the scoring started with a two-run double Matt Camp and Tyler Colvin. In the second, Tennessee plated another run thanks to Kyle Reynolds’ seventh home run of the season to make the score 3-0 Smokies. The Smokies touched up Fister for three more runs in the third, with Colvin smacking a triple to right field to lead off the inning. After an RBI single by Southern League All-Star Doug Deeds, Spears drilled his second home run of the season to give the Smokies a 6-0 early advantage.

Caridad (3-1) cruised through the first five innings of work, allowing just four hits. He ran into a bit of trouble in the sixth, giving up back to back home runs both to deep center field off the bats of Johan Limonta and Adam Moore to pull West Tennessee to within 6-2. Darin Downs came on in relief of Caridad to end the threat in the sixth.

West Tennessee was able to pull to within three runs in the top of the seventh, but Greg Reinhard came on in the seventh to shut the door on the threat. Reinhard would finish out the game on the mound to earn his fourth save of the season. He was aided by the Smokies offense in the bottom half of the seventh, as Tennessee would score an additional three runs to put the game out of reach. Sam Fuld connected with his second home run of the season to increase the lead, with Spears earning his third RBI of the night with a single to score Colvin. Spears, Fox, Colvin, and Deeds would all end the night with multiple hits.

Tennessee will try to increase their winning streak to five games in a row against the visiting Diamond Jaxx on Thursday night at Smokies Park beginning at 7:15 pm. The Smokies will look to left-hander James Russell (3-4, 4.59) to lead the way against Diamond Jaxx righty Travis Chick (2-4, 4.41). The five game set will continue on through Saturday July 12th, with all game times at 7:15 pm.

Boise 7, Eugene 3 – (Box Score ) – Josh Vitters and Ryan Keedy each hit home runs, part of an 11-hit attack, as the Boise Hawks opened up a five-game road trip with a 7-3 victory over the Eugene Emeralds, before 2,530 fans at Civic Stadium.

Vitters homer, a two-run shot in the first, gave the Hawks a 2-0 lead, one they would not relinquish. A Ryan Sontag bloop single scored Kyler Burke from third in the second to make it 3-0, with a Carlos Perez RBI single and a Burke sacrifice fly in the third made it a five-run lead.

Keedy’s blast, his first professional homer, capped the scoring in the seventh – as the Hawks moved two games above the .500 mark this season, and gained a game on Spokane in the Northwest League standings.

Despite Jeff Beliveau striking out five men in two innings of work, Jon Muller got the win for the Hawks, retiring six of the final seven men to close the game. Keedy, Vitters, and Ryan Flaherty each had two hits in the victory.

The Ems, who have lost seven in a row and 9-of-10, got a 3-for-4 night from Daniel Robertson.

Game 2 of the series is tomorrow night, with Justin Bristow meeting Rey Garramone.

Daytona 6, Dunedin 2 – (Box Score )

Peoria 5, Kane County – (Box Score )

AZ Cubs 8, AZ Athletics 7

Deep Rising full

– (Box Score )

DSL Cubs 10, DSL Rockies 2 – (Box Score )

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Carlos Zambrano is awesome and yet I complain

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Last night I missed most of the game due to my satellite going out. It’s frustrating because in the four years I’ve had Dish or DirecTV, it’s never gone out and over the past two nights it’s gone out twice due to rain. That being said, I feel guilty writing about a game I really didn’t see but a few pitches of. Instead, I’d rather use this time to complain and whine about a bunch of things. Enjoy!!!

  • Why is it that Lou continues to feel compelled to use Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol so often. After 8 innings of Zambrano and a four run lead, why not bring in Michael Wuertz last night to have him finish it out? Maybe you didn’t know this, but Wuertz has the lowest ERA in the bullpen at 2.70 if you don’t count Cotts since he’s been here part time, and yet the lowest innings pitched of all the regulars.
  • MLB announced that Sheryl Crow, 3 Doors Down and Josh Groban are scheduled to perform during the all star game. Josh Groban?!?! Who cares if he’s only singing God Bless America. I don’t want to listen to that tool. I’d rather see that big fat fire fighter that performs. – (Source)
  • This morning I decided to redeem a coupon I got in the mail from Wendy’s for a free breakfast sandwich of which I can’t pronounce the name. I’ve tried two separate Wendy’s locations on my way to work and neither are open for breakfast. Today I tried the third and waited in the drive thru, blocked in, for 20 minutes only to be told when I got to the window that they had no food and were not setup for breakfast. Oh, you can bet that there will be hell to pay when I call that Wendy’s back today and speak with the owner.

I’ll be back a little later with some news on the farm.

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My take on the Rich Harden Deal

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

You’re going to read and hear a lot of “experts” break down the deal that took place between the Cubs and A’s as well as the deal that took place the day before between Cleveland and Milwaukee. Please don’t buy in wholly to any of them, including this “expert”. It’s not a knock on anyone’s talent or intelligence, it’s simply a fact that trades can’t be evaluated fully until a few years down the road. If there was ever more proof of that statement in a season it’s this one. Both the Tigers and the Mets made major deals in the off-season to pull in potential game changers. Both were essentially anointed the representatives for their respective leagues in the 2008 World Series. Both have gone on to hover around .500. Sometimes you just never know. You just have to wait and see. With that being said, I think the best way for me to break down the deal is to give my thoughts on each of the six players involved and let you decide for yourself. I’ll preface it by saying that I’m pleased with the deal.

Rich Harden – This is the staple of the deal, yet most are skeptical of his health. Obviously when you have a player that has missed the type of time that Harden has missed, you have to enter the deal with a bit of apprehension. At the same time, you have to look at the extreme upside of the deal and the talent of Rich Harden. Let’s take a look at his injury history over the past five years.

  • 2005 – Missed 34 games due to a strained left oblique.
  • 2006 – Missed 34 games due to a back strain
  • 2006 – Missed 129 games due to a sprained right elbow
  • 2007 – Missed 151 games due to a strained pitching shoulder.
  • 2008 – Missed 31 games due to a strained pitching shoulder.

When he’s on and healthy, Harden is one of the best pitchers in the game of baseball. He makes very little in relation to the talent he possesses. He’s signed through 2008 at a rate of $4.5 million with a $7 million club option. That’s less than Ted Lilly and less than Jason Marquis, both of whom he is better than. If he pays off, the Cubs have a legit 1-2 combo in 2009 in a division that will see the Brewers lose both of their top two.

Chad Gaudin – No one seems to mention Gaudin in the trade as a key part, but rather as an afterthought. I disagree with that assessment. Gaudin provides the bullpen help we could use with the versatility to be able to pitch out of the rotation if needed next year. He loves to rely on his slider and has good movement on his fastball. A’s fans felt that he was more valuable to their team than Joe Blanton, and that tells me a lot because Blanton has been a very good pitcher for the A’s. Don’t get me wrong, Gaudin isn’t going to dominate the top of the rotation, but he has found his niche in the bullpen and that’s what we had as a need. Ideally, it would have been better if he threw left handed, but I’ll settle. He’s in his arbitration years, which means his salary is low and we’re in control of his next two years. He could turn out to be the gem in the deal.

Matt Murton – Let’s get this straight. Repeat after me. Matt Murton is NOT an all star, nor will he ever get close to being an all star. Murton is a weak hitting, high on base, poor fielding outfielder with low versatility. He’s an average starter on most teams. Losing him, especially when we have no need for him, is not a loss.

Eric Patterson – I was a big Patterson fan from the day he was drafted, but like Murton, he was a player that was ready for Major League time on a team without a spot for him. Those types of players need to be moved and exchanged for other pieces that are needed. Patterson has good speed and works hard, but he doesn’t have the talent potential of his brother. I’m not bothered by losing him either.

Keeping Mum buy Sean Gallagher – The 2008 Minor League Baseball Analyst mentions the following on Gallagher. “Strong/durable pitcher with three average to above pitches and the ability to get hitters out without his best stuff. Keeps the ball down, prevents the long ball, and has good fastball command, keeping hitters off-balance by throwing all three pitches at any time. Improved velocity, but curveball regressed.” They project him as a 4th starter. I have a little higher hopes for Gallagher and like his makeup, but you have to give up talent to get talent in return. At his best, I don’t think Gallagher projects to anywhere near the potential Harden projects to.

Josh Donaldson – A lot of bloggers haven’t heard of Donaldson, which is fine. Some people aren’t as up on the farm system and prefer to focus their efforts on the players involved on the field right now. Donaldson is a pretty good prospect, though. He’s a college guy out of Auburn that was picked in the supplemental part of round 1 last season by the Cubs as compensation for losing Juan Pierre to free agency. Coming into the season, he ranked as the # 7 prospect in the system by Baseball America, but was off to a rough start. What worries me a little is the slow start he’s off to this year after playing so well last year. Some have said that the Cubs made a mistake including him in the deal, but with Geovany Soto playing the way he is, I’m OK with dealing Donaldson. If he wasn’t 22 years old, it may be a different story, but the fact is that if Donaldson develops, you have a log jam at a position you really can’t afford to have a jam at. Deal him now and bank on Geo. Is that really a bad thing?

Athletics Fans React

  • Wow. I’m surprised Gaudin left in the deal as well. I hear Donaldson is a “walk machine” and Murton and Patterson seem AAAA talent at best….
  • I totally agree. I’m not seeing anything here that was worth losing Gaudin over! He is starter ready and was only put in the bullpen due to Harden’s return in a crowded rotation. I could of let Harden go but Gaudin just crosses the line. I don’t know much about these guys from the cubs but I’m not thinking the cubs fans will miss any of them.
  • Murton is more or less Bobby Kielty – that’s useful to the A’s right now, but not terribly exciting. Donaldson is a catcher who appears to be not hitting in A ball. Patterson is a toolsy outfielder who’s hit decently in the minors and is already 25. Gallagher is a young pitcher who’s put up good (but rarely great) numbers at every level in the minors, but hasn’t had major league success. Clearly Beane sees some real upside in at least one of these players, but I’m honestly not sure which.
  • The A’s were robbed blind by this trade. Robbed blind. Quite possibly the saddest day of my A’s fan life…Not even someone like Pie? Vitters? And dealing Gaudin too? Jeez
  • I honestly don’t think Harden is 100 percent healthy. His last two games were his two worst games of the season and I’m guessing Beane is pulling a quick one because, hell, you have to sell on Harden while you can still get something for him and he isn’t on the DL for the 100th time. Interesting that Cubs fans are delighted about it given that they had two of the most legendary injury prone pitchers of the last decade in Wood and Prior. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s why Gaudin was included as the Cubs insurance policy in case Harden shows up, pitches one game and winds up back on the DL. I could be wrong, but that’s how I’m viewing this right now. I knew a Harden deal was coming. I could just sense it. But I was hoping Beane would get more for him without having to include Gaudin.

Thoughts from Last Night

  • Geo is legit and has me excited. He hit another homer last night and rightfully deserves the starting spot in the all star game.
  • Does bat wagging scare you as much as it scares me? When I see guys like Brandon Phillips and Gary Sheffield wag that bat it scares the crap out of me.
  • Jerry Hairston got robbed blind all night at the plate. He’s hitting the ball really well and those are going to get through tonight I fear.
  • Kudos to Bob Brenly for talking a little trash during an at bat by DeRosa. Harang had him 3-0 and Brenly says something to the effect of “before DeRosa gets walked by Harang, I want to send a birthday wish to….” Harang walked DeRo on the very next pitch.
  • Should it really be called an RBI when the hitter walks to bring in the run? RBI means run batted in, but if the hitter doesn’t actually use the bat, that seems weird.
  • In the 4th inning, Fukudome had a ball drop in front of him and he went on to throw out Adam Dunn at second on a force because he had to hold up. The hitter is given a fielder’s choice, but when you think about it, Fukudome didn’t really have a “choice” in the matter.
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Cubs Acquire Rich Harden & Chad Gaudin from Oakland

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

CHICAGO Keeping Mum psp – The Chicago Cubs today acquired right-handed pitchers Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin from the Oakland Athletics for right-handed pitcher Sean Gallagher, outfielder Matt Murton, infielder Eric Patterson and catcher Josh Donaldson.

Harden, 26, is 36-19 with a 3.42 ERA (206 ER/541.2 IP) in 97 appearances (89 starts) in all or part of the last six seasons with Oakland.  He has 523 strikeouts in 541.2 innings pitched, an average of 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings, and has limited opponents to a .224 batting average.  He pitched in the 2003 and 2006 postseasons.

The righthander is 5-1 with a 2.34 ERA (20 ER/77.0 IP) in 13 starts this season with Oakland, fanning 92 batters in 77.0 innings, an average of 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings.  His 2.34 ERA would rank second in the majors behind only Oakland’s Justin Duchscherer (1.98), but he is just shy of the necessary innings to qualify.  Harden’s .206 batting average against would rank third in the majors.  He has 92 strikeouts and 31 walks this season, one strikeout shy of a three-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio.  Harden has allowed only five home runs in 77.0 innings.

Among pitchers with at least 12 starts this season, Harden leads the majors with 10.75 strikeouts per nine innings (San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum is next at 9.49) and he ranks 12th with 10.40 baserunners allowed per nine innings.

Harden spent one month this season on the disabled list (April 10-May 11) with a strained right shoulder and has averaged six innings per start since returning, four times pitching into the seventh inning or beyond.  He has turned in a quality start in seven of his last 10 outings, posting a 2.02 ERA (14 ER/62.1 IP) and a .190 batting average against in that span starting May 17.  Overall, he has allowed two earned runs or less in 10 of his 13 starts.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Harden went 3-0 with a 0.68 ERA (2 ER/26.2 IP) in four starts vs. the National League during interleague play this season, limiting those foes to a .132 batting average.  In his career, Harden is 5-1 with a 1.81 ERA (11 ER.54.2 IP) in 10 interleague appearances, nine as a starter.

A native of Victoria, British Columbia, Harden is 10-3 with a 2.95 ERA (49 ER/149.1 IP) during the last three seasons, limiting opponents to a .201 batting average, though five stints on the disabled list have kept him to 29 appearances, 26 as a starter.  His 2.95 ERA and .201 batting average against would lead all big league starters if he had accumulated the necessary innings during the last three seasons to qualify for league-leader rankings.  In his career, he is 18-3 with a 1.45 ERA (35 ER/217.1 IP) when pitching at least seven innings (29 starts).

Gaudin, 25, is 5-3 with a 3.59 ERA (25 ER/62.2 IP) in 26 appearances (six starts) with Oakland this season, including a 3.38 ERA (10 ER/26.2 IP) in his 20 relief appearances.  He has not allowed an earned run in 15 of his 20 relief outings and has pitched 1.0 inning or more in 17 of those appearances.  The 5-foor-10, 185 pound Gaudin joins the Cubs having turned in a 1.50 ERA (1 ER/6.0 IP) in his last seven relief outings beginning June 21.

The New Orleans native has pitched all or part of the last six seasons in the big leagues with Tampa Bay (2003-04), Toronto (2005) and Oakland (2006-08), going 24-23 with two saves and a 4.33 ERA (25 203 ER/421.2 IP).  He returned to the bullpen this season after making 34 starts with Oakland last season.  Gaudin is 8-5 with two saves and a 3.63 ERA (59 ER/146.1 IP) in 111 relief appearances in his career.

Gallagher, 22, is 3-4 with a 4.45 ERA (29 ER/58.2 IP) in 12 appearances (10 starts) with the Cubs this season.  He has split the last two seasons between the Cubs and Triple-A Iowa.  Gallagher was originally selected by the Cubs in the fifth round of the 2006 Draft.

Murton, 26, has split the 2008 season between the Cubs and Triple-A, batting .250 (10-for-40) with two doubles and six RBI in 19 games for Chicago this season.  He has spent all or part of the last four seasons in the majors, hitting .294 (256-for-870) with 28 home runs and 104 RBI in 308 big league games.  He was acquired by the Cubs on July 31, 2004 from the Boston Red Sox as part of a four-team, six-player trade.

Patterson, 25, has also split the season between the Cubs and Triple-A and hit .237 (9-for-38) during his three stints in the big leagues this season.  He was originally selected by the Cubs in the eighth round of the 2004 Draft.

Donaldson, 22, batted .217 (51-for-235) with six home runs and 23 RBI in 63 games for Single-A Peoria this season.  He was selected by the Cubs in the second round of the 2007 Draft.

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Scouting the Cincinnati Reds

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Series Tale of the Tape

Starting Pitcher Matchups

Tuesday Aaron Harang vs. Ryan Dempster

Aaron Harang – Originally scheduled to face the Nationals, Harang was pushed back to Tuesday due to stiffness in his right forearm. Harang’s velocity wasn’t where it usually is in his last start, against the Pirates on Monday, but his stuff was still pretty good. The right-hander pitched seven solid innings, giving up three runs on seven hits with a walk and eight strikeouts, but received a no-decision. Harang has just one win in his last nine starts and is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA through three career games against the Nationals.

  • Has trouble getting ahead in the count and struggles against right-handed hitters.
  • 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.
  • Good mid-rotation righty.
  • Pitches – Fastball (71% / 90 mph), Slider (24% / 81 mph), Curveball (2% / 75 mph), Changeup (3% / 82 mph)

Ryan Dempster – It was the same old routine for Dempster in his previous start. The righty pitched well at AT&T Park — six innings of two-run ball on five hits and seven strikeouts — and he walked away without a decision. The Cubs won, but Dempster was pulled in the seventh, up 5-2, and then watched Carlos Marmol cough up three runs. He’s pitched eight times on the road and hasn’t won once. Meanwhile, he’s 9-0 at Wrigley Field.

  • 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.
  • Pitches – Fastball (56% / 91 mph), Slider (27% / 84 mph), Changeup (17% / 82 mph)

Wednesday – Johnny Cueto vs. Carlos Zambrano

Johnny Cueto – Cueto gave the Reds’ overworked bullpen the rest it needed in his last start, against the Nationals on Thursday. The 22-year-old rookie pitched seven solid innings, giving up just three runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out eight. He threw just 95 pitches, with 66 going for strikes. Cueto has given up just six runs in his last four starts. His only career start against the Cubs came on May 5, when he pitched six innings and gave up three runs on six hits, with two walks and eight strikeouts.

  • Has an impressive arsenal of pitches, tremendous command and poise. Understands how to work hitters and displays the ability to dominate.
  • Lacks experience at higher levels. Is a diminutive right-hander, so arm injuries down the road will always be a concern.
  • A future ace starter.
  • Pitches – Fastball (63% / 93 mph), Slider (30% / 85 mph), Changeup (7% / 84 mph)

Carlos Zambrano – Zambrano looked well rested and sharp in his first start coming off the disabled list last Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals. The right-hander threw six shutout innings and struck out five. He gave up four hits, and only two got out of the infield. He had good tempo and command of his pitches. The Cubs limited him to 87 pitches in the outing, and he’ll probably be able to go deeper against the Reds. He’s 2-0 this season against Cincinnati.

  • 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.
  • Pitches – Fastball (67% / 91 mph), Slider (15% / 82 mph), Cutter (8% / 89 mph), Curveball (1% / 70 mph), Changeup (1% / 83 mph), Splitfinger (9% / 84 mph)

Thursday – Bronson Arroyo vs. Ted Lilly

Bronson Arroyo – After what he called “the worst outing” of his career on June 24 in Toronto, Arroyo has posted two of his better starts of the season, his last coming on Friday, as he shut down the Nationals and led Cincinnati to a 3-0 victory. Arroyo pitched six shutout innings and gave up just five hits, walking three and striking out three in helping the Reds to their fifth win in seven games. Arroyo likely would have lasted another inning, but went out of the game when a run-scoring situation came about and Cincinnati needed a pinch-hitter.

  • He’s an economical pitcher who locates his pitches well. Right-handed hitters find him particularly tough.
  • Needs to work on his ability to pitch beyond the sixth inning and isn’t as effective from the stretch with runners on.
  • Good mid-rotation starter.
  • Pitches – Fastball (43% / 88 mph), Slider (20% / 75 mph), Cutter (3% / 84 mph), Curveball (20% / 72 mph), Changeup (14% / 80 mph)

Ted Lilly – Lilly gave up two runs on six hits and two walks over seven innings in his last start against the Cardinals, but did not get a decision. St. Louis rallied against Kerry Wood for the win. The lefty was cruising until the sixth when Rick Ankiel led off with a homer. Lilly faced the Reds on April 17, and took the loss, giving up five runs on six hits over six innings while striking out six.

  • 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.
  • Pitches – Fastball (48% / 87 mph), Slider (23% / 82 mph), Curveball (11% / 70 mph), Changeup (18% / 78 mph)

All scouting information taken from / /

Hot / Not on the Reds

Who’s Hot

  • Brandon Phillips
  • Jerry Hairston Jr.
  • Adam Dunn
  • Joey Votto

Who’s Not

  • Jay Bruce
  • Edwin Encarnacion
  • Paul Bako


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Because I’m Always Right

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

If you believe my title, you’re certainly not my wife, or you haven’t been reading VFTB long enough. But I jest. Like Joe wrote yesterday, the C.C Sabathia trade doesn’t have me worried one bit. If Ben Sheets can stay healthy, then sure, the Brewers will have one heck of a one-two punch in their rotation. After that….are you kidding me? Let’s not forget that Sheets is the Kerry Wood of the Miller Valley, and can rarely stay healthy. That’d be one heck of a bet to take. Which one actually makes it through one year without visiting the DL?

Thus far this season, I’ve remained quiet. I can’t anymore. I’m just too gosh darned right to be quiet any longer. And if you can’t sense the sarcasm, you’re certainly not my wife, or you haven’t been reading VFTB long enough. I’ll stand by my four pillars of correct assumptions thus far. Please plant tongue firmly in cheek.

  • Jim Edmonds was a good pick-up, regardless of his stats in San Diego (which is home of some awesome brews, by the way), his former relation to that city just south of us where fans love white polyester pants, and red shirts, and Felix Pie is not likely to see the ivy covered walls of Wrigley any time soon. Awaiting any further moves Jim Hendry makes this season, I believe….No, I know, that this is the move that will pay off in the long run. I love the Johnson/Edmonds platoon.
  • Rich Hill won’t be back. I’d put good money down Pie sees the Friendly Confines before Hill does. Sorry Rich, but I never cared for your soft tossing ways. More than anything, I always got the impression you were soft. Soft in the head, that is. Baseball is more mental than any other sport. You have to be able to suck it up when you’re stinking it up, and push on. You’re ability and mechanics got you here, get back to relying on them, don’t let the grey matter between your ears screw it up.
  • The Cubs don’t care for Matt Murton, because of his defense, or lack thereof. Yes, he’s been steadier this year in short stints, but visions of last year still haunt the Cubs front office. Baseball has a long memory, unless you’re Joe Morgan or Tim McCarver, and what happens years ago will follow you around. Can’t run a good route to a fly ball? Do it frequently? Everyone knows about it. It’s on tape now, dude.
  • I am only truly scared of one thing. Pinella pulling a Dusty, and over working Marmol until his right hand knuckles are scrapping the grass tops on the way to the dugout. Yes, he’s young, and his stuff is electric, but good, golly, gee, please let up on the gas Lou. I’d like Marmol to be a fixture in the pen for a few years. Not a flash in the pan. Let up Lou, let up.Congratulations, you just sat through one of the many theories I spew from my mouth multiple times a week to my wife. To which she has learned, and will often recite back to me, “Because you’re always right.”

Damn straight. Now I’m off to figure out how to rectify the economy…

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