Archive for April, 2009

GirlieView (04/30/2009)

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

GirlieView is a day early this week, but with good reason. Guess where this girlie will be tomorrow. Go ahead, guess! Yay! I’ll be at Wrigley in the Dugout Box seats row A in honor of the day of my birth. With any luck part 2 of my birthday present (part 1 being the tickets themselves) will be a Cubs win. I’m a photo junky so I’ll post some during the week.

Meantime, let’s talk about this past week. Feast or famine, huh? Either the Cubs were winning big and looking great, or losing badly and looking like they forgot to show up. I gauge how the week went overall by how much I’m looking forward to recapping it. This week, not so much. But I try hard to see the good in everything, so let’s give this a go!

Fri 24/Sat 25/Sun 26

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– Neither feast nor famine Friday in St. Louis, but this tough one run loss was made worse by the injuries to Ramirez and Marmol. This also was the first of a two-day-Lou-experiment with Soriano batting third. He looked awful and I’m happy to have him back in the leadoff spot. I’m not saying he’s a classic leadoff hitter and I’m the very very very last person to cater to anyone’s ego but if he isn’t happy in the other positions he’s not going to do well so if he keeps hitting I’ll live with it. I like talking lineups, in fact it’s one of my favorite topics of discussion, but there’s not much to talk about here. He’s won the spot for whatever reason, and I think he’ll be staying. Saturday, yuck. Famine. 7-2 and not in our favor, with Patton giving up the grand slam to Pujols and taking us out of the game. Sunday, FEAST! Cubs came out scoring and just kept going. 10-3 Chicago. Derrek Lee had neck spasms and had to come out of the game before he even had a chance to play defensively, making an already tentative situation worse. At least we won. Soriano was back to leading off.

Mon 27/Tue 28/Wed 29 – I thought with Soriano’s leadoff home run maybe the run of good luck would hold over from Sunday but no go. Haren pitched a great (full) game and we’re back to famine again. And I think they even looked a little worse than the 7-2 score implies. Bad fielding, bad bullpen, Soto is having a rough time (difficult for me to admit considering he is my favorite Cub) … just a hard game to watch overall. So, I went to bed. Tuesday’s a new day! And it was. Feast! Chicago 11, Arizona 3. This is the kind of game I like to watch. Alas, I fell asleep. I’m a morning person at heart. But I enjoyed reading about it the next day! Wednesday. Famine. Hard to watch, hard to discuss. Very disappointing. What needs done? Anything? Or do we wait it out and see how things progress?

Thurs 30 – Well, I’m writing this before tonight’s game so I can’t say what tonight will bring. It’s a crappy weather day here in Chicagoland though at this point it seems the game should get in. I hope for a strong first game to welcome the Marlins to Chicago but I’d be even happier with a strong game tomorrow (See Paragraph 1).

Even though there were a few feasts in there, the whole week left me with a sour taste in my mouth. I’m not worried, it’s a long year, but I also haven’t found it very enjoyable to watch either. 10-10 record (before Thursday’s game), second to last in the NL Central, injuries all around, bad bullpen, questionable defense … this is not a good time by anyone’s standards. Today (or tomorrow, see Paragraph 1) would be an excellent time to turn things around. I am an optimist at heart, but I’m having a hard time seeing the path out of this mess. I do believe there is one, though!

Some other stuff – I found this week’s chemistry discussion to be really interesting. The “feast or famine” theme played out here as well. Seems folks either think chemistry means a whole lot, or not much at all. I didn’t see a lot of middle ground, yet I think there is some. If chemistry meant nothing, then teams full of great players should never lose, even if they all hate each other. If chemistry meant everything then, heck, I ought to be on the Cubs just by virtue of being a delightful dinner companion. I have a fantastic group of friends with great chemistry among us and I can assure you we are collectively good at almost nothing. So I think there’s merit to both sides. Haven’t you ever worked with a problem employee who brought down the morale of the entire department? It sucks, doesn’t it? Then when s/he leaves all of a sudden it’s better … people aren’t calling in sick anymore, productivity is up, etc. No, I don’t have any hard and fast stats on it. And no, chemistry is not going to turn a bunch of slackers into an award winning department or baseball team. But I think it can turn multiple individual bits of talent into a greater whole.

One last thought – I read with great glee Joe’s post about commenting etiquette, particularly the final paragraph. Because even though I’m a delightful dinner companion with a positive and optimistic attitude who tries to see the good in everything and not intentionally insult anyone, I have a nickname among my previously-referenced group of friends. Longshoreman Lizzie. I swear like a sailor. Though I have absolutely no intention of airing out here, I’m happy to know if I slip it will be ok. Thanks Joe!! :-)

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When do we see changes?

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

It’s early is the season, I’ll admit that now, but at what point do we see changes? How long do we wait before we begin to say we’re worried that there are holes that need to be addressed? When is the proper time to begin retooling in areas that are weakening our team?

The way I see it right now, the following changes need to be made.

  1. The Bullpen – Not a day goes by that this pen doesn’t give up a run. Today it was our “best” reliever who couldn’t find the strike zone if it bit him in the crotch. Unfortunately, is there really an answer? Jose Ascanio The Secret dvd is a definite possibility, but the Cubs have him pitching out of the rotation. Chad Fox

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    is also pitching well for Iowa, but ultimately, we may be stuck with what we have for awhile.

  2. Too many OF

    War Wolves dvdrip I see no reason why Joey Gathright is on this roster right now. It’s not that I don’t think he can be valuable, but rather that I don’t see him being valuable for this Showdown at Area 51 movie full team. With Hoffpauir able to play in the OF and both Kosuke and Reed Johnson able to play CF, there is no reason to carry essentially 6 OF. Let’s dump Gathright and bring up a bat in the form of Jake Fox. At this point he doesn’t even need to play the IF. Give him some starts in RF when Bradley needs to rest. Give him a start at 1B if Lee or Hoffpauir is unavailable. Having Fox on the roster even allows the use of Koyie Hill’s hot bat as a pinch hitter because Fox has experience behind the plate and could move there in a pinch if Geo got hurt late in the game after using Hill.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll have the farm report up later today.Dark Blue psp

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A Quick Review of Commenting

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Lately we’ve had some heated discussions of the merit of Jake Fox, the ability of Ryan Theriot and the reliability of rechargeable vs. non-rechargeable batteries (not actually, but that may be a good discussion).

As is the case when people have disagreement, words are said that shouldn’t be said. For example, instead of saying “Pablo, you’re an idiot saber nerd….Ryan Theriot is a god”, a better way to handle it is to simply continue to make your case without the ridicule against the commentor.

I really like the disagreements we’ve had over the players we’ve been talking about, particularly Jake Fox. Let’s just try to get along. As far as the language, I’m trying to be more lax with that. Just keep it somewhat PG. Don’t be dropping any f-bombs and things of that nature and we should be good. In the meantime, carry on.Herbie Rides Again release

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Strange Things Are Happening (or should be)

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

One of my son’s favorite movies is Toy Story. When Woody begins to realize he’s being replaced in Andy’s life as the number one priority, the song Strange Things Are Happening is being played and you begin to see Andy’s room take on a new theme. What if we had this Cubs team take on a new theme as well. Here’s how:

  1. Koyie Hill is swinging a hot bat and Geo is not. Call me crazy, but why not ride out the hot bat of Hill and let him start a few games in a row until his streak is over. It’s strange, but why can’t a backup catcher replace an All-Star in the lineup for a few days when he’s hot and the all star is not? Why can’t we be strange here?
  2. It’s clear Soriano is going to be our leadoff man. With Zambrano going one triple away from the cycle, what about hitting him 8th on days he starts and hitting Theriot 9th. Worst case scenario is that if Theriot leads off the inning, you have someone with some speed on before Soriano comes up. Best case scenario is you have Zambrano swinging a good bat and driving in some runs. I don’t have the research in front of me, but a lot of people who have analyzed lineups actually feel the best spot for your worst hitter is the 8th spot, as strange as it may sound. What if we tried it one game out of five?
  3. Jake Fox is tearing the cover off the ball, and it continued yesterday as you’ll see below. Dave always argues that he’s not a 3B because he’s only played three games there in his minor league career. Call it strange, but what if we used him as pinch hitter and tried him at third, assuming he’s going to be a step down defensively, knowing he could provide some offense? Tony LaRusa has a converted OF playing 2B this year because he had nowhere else to play him and wanted his bat in the lineup. Let’s give it a try.
  4. Milton Bradley returned to the lineup (though I doubt he was “100% healthy” like Lou had said he needed to be) and had a pair of hits and a walk. Strange!!!
  5. Bullpen in…..bullpen out….no runs allowed……strange!!!!!

Yesterday on the Farm

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Nashville 7, Iowa 4

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  • It’s getting silly. It reminds me a little of 1998 when every day fans would ask themselves “Did he hit one? Did the Cubs win?” All people cared about was if Sosa hit a home run. That’s the way I’ve been feeling with Jake Fox in AAA. Every day I get excited to check the box score and see if he hit another one, as was the case yesterday when he went 2-for-4 with his 12th homerun of the season.
  • Starter JR Mathes Shadowboxer on dvd

    gave up 12, count ’em, 12 hits in five innings of work to go with four ER and took the loss. It drops him to 3-2 on the year.

  • Another Chad Fox sighting and another scoreless inning. That brings his ERA to 1.93 on the early season.

Tennessee 5, Carolina 7

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  • Every member of the pitching staff that appeared in the game for the Smokies (Casey Coleman, Jeremy Papelbon, and Blake Parker) gave up runs in the game.
  • Wellington Castillo Titan A.E. trailer got the start behind the plate and hit a home run. He went hitless his last start on the 26th, so it’s a nice rebound for him.
  • The Mudcats shut down the red hot Tony Thomas and held him to an 0-for-3 day at the plate.

Daytona 0, Brevard County 1

Daytona got no-hit in this one and I thought it might be more fun to give you the game recap provided by the Cubs media department to read.

DAYTONA – Brevard County starting pitcher Evan Anundsen (2-2) worked nine innings of hitless baseball in the Manatees (12-6) 1-0 victory over the Daytona Cubs (9-9).  The no-hitter was the first in the Florida State League since 2006.

The game was dominated by the pitchers as it was a scoreless ball game until the eighth inning.  The Cubs got a very good spot start from Craig Muschko who worked four scoreless innings and only gave up three hits and struck out four.

Jose Pina came on for the next two innings and was just as good.  The Daytona newcomer struck out three and only allowed one hit.

With Steve Vento (0-2) on the mound in the eighth left fielder Logan Schafer hit a one-out triple off the wall in right field.  After a walk to Eric Farris, Cubs Manager Buddy Bailey elected to go with a lefty-lefty match-up as he brought in Dustin Sasser to relieve Vento.  Sasser got ahead of the reigning Florida State League Player of the Week, Caleb Gindl, but surrendered a RBI single to center field that would be the difference in the game.

Things did get interesting in the bottom of the ninth for Anundsen.  He induced a pop fly to shallow left field off the bat of second baseman Nathan Samson, but it was dropped by shortstop Brent Brewer for his second error of the game.  Anundsen did not get rattled and promptly struck out designated hitter Tyler Colvin to complete the no-hitter.

Peoria 3, Cedar Rapids 0

Peoria 1, Cedar Rapids 0

  • It was a good day to be a starting pitcher named Chris as both Chris Archer and Chris Carpenter both made good starts for the Chiefs. Archer went 5 innings allowing just 1 hit and striking out 8 hitters while picking up the win to run his record to 1-0. Carpenter went 6 innings, giving up just 2 hits and stuck out 3. He induced 11 GB and just 3 flyballs.
  • In game 2, Rebel Ridling went 3-for-3 with a homerun, his 2nd on the year.

Organizational Depth Chart – Righty SP

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Jake Fox is Ridonkulous

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

What Happened Yesterday

Chicago 2, Arizona 8

I didn’t see much of this game, which is something you’ll learn when we’re on the road to the west. Living on the east coast and having a job to go to in the morning causes me to prioritize sleep or losing baseball. What I do know is Dan Haren is outstanding. Honestly, did you really expect to beat him last night based on the way he’s pitched this year and the lineup we trotted out there? When Reed Johnson is your cleanup hitter, odds are you’re not going to be winning that game.

Iowa 7, Nashville 3 Phantasm trailer

  • Staying true to the title, Jake Fox played out of his mind yet again last night with two more home runs, giving him 11 on the season in 18 games. Just to give you some prospective, that puts him on a 99 HR pace over the course of a 162 game season. I’m at a loss as to what more the guy needs to do to merit a call up. At some point, it becomes beyond ridiculous and enters into ridonkulous territory.
  • For some reason, Sam Fuld is still the leadoff hitter for Iowa, despite the fact that he’s now hitting .233 after the 0-for-5 night. I’m not sure why he’s hitting in that spot, probably because he has a little speed and plays CF. After all, that’s the stereotype, right?
  • Randy Wells picked up his third win on the season with a six inning quality start that was finished off three scoreless bullpen innings from the trio of Jeff Stevens, Jason ‘don’t call me Tom’ Waddell, and Greg Reinhard. For Waddell, it was a rebound outing after getting hit hard in his outing on Saturday.

Tennessee 4, Carolina 6

  • Tony Thomas picked up another two hits, including a double, and is hitting .349 on the season out of the leadoff spot. He’s definitely raised his stock with this start so far and I hope he continues to produce at this level to earn himself a promotion, whether to AAA or the big league team.
  • One of the prospects we got in return for dealing Michael Wuertz to Oakland was Ritchie Robnett (Justin Sellers being the other one). He was a former top prospect who showed promise but never really developed. He’s playing the OF for the Smokies and doing poorly at the plate. With an 0-for-2 night at the plate, he’s now hitting .116 on the young season and things don’t look good.
  • Oak Park, Illinois native Brian Schlitter, who was acquired in the deal for Scott Eyre with the Phillies, picked up the loss after surrendering two 9th inning runs.

Daytona 4, Brevard County 2

  • Robinson Chirinos led Cubs hitters with a three-hit night performance that left him a home run shy of the cycle.  He also scored a run in the second.
  • Ryan Searle got the start for the Cubs and went five innings, picking up his second win of the season. It’s his second straight start with a win.
  • Nate Samson Marked for Death release , who isn’t off to the best start with the bat, played 2B and got on base three times with two hits and a walk out of the leadoff spot.

Peoria Chiefs – **** Rained Out ****

The scheduled Monday night game between the Peoria Chiefs and Cedar Rapids Kernels has been postponed due to rain and wet grounds at O’Brien Field. The rain throughout the afternoon plus the ominous forecast led to the postponement. As a result, there will be a doubleheader played at O’Brien Field Tuesday with first pitch of game one slated for 11:00 AM. Tuesday is D.A.R.E Day at the ballpark when thousands of 5th and 6th graders throughout the Peoria area will be in attendance. The Chiefs will start RH Chris Carpenter (0-1, 3.21) in game one and RH Chris Archer (0-0, 2.25) in game two while the Kernels will start LH Manuel Flores (1-1, 4.15) in game one and RH Manuarys Correa (1-1, 7.31) in game two.

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The Peoria Chiefs in conjunction with the Chicago Cubs have announced that catcher Mario Mercedes has been added back to the Chiefs roster after being placed on the disabled list last week with a calf strain. As a corresponding roster move, outfielder Cliff Andersen has been placed on the disabled list due to a strained right hamstring suffered during Sunday’s 8-7 win.

Mercedes was signed as a free agent by the Cubs in 2003. So far this season Mercedes has started two games and averaged .333 with one RBI in six at bats.  In his first start of the season with the Chiefs on April 11, he was 1-for-4. In his second game on April 14, Mercedes raised his average to .333 in two at bats with one hit and he drove in one run. He collected a pinch-hit single on April 15 and was lifted for a pinch-runner. Mercedes was placed on the DL the next day with a strained right calf.

Andersen, a ninth round pick in 2006 out of Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City, strained his right hamstring on his way to first base Sunday afternoon. Andersen lined the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning into the left-center gap but pulled up at first base and was replaced by Tony Campana. In 11 games this season, Andersen is batting .296 with a double, one triple, three RBI and four runs scored. He heads to the DL in the midst of a five-game hit streak (6-for-12) that has improved his average from .133 to .296.

Thanks to the Peoria Chiefs media department for the information and media write up

Organizational Depth Chart – 1B & DH

A Passage to India divx

John Sickels of had the following to say in his prospect book about Micah Hoffpauir this year:

Micah Hoffpauir has been hanging around Des Moines since 2004, but his ’07 and ’08 monster seasons were just too much for the Cubs to ignore any longer. No, he is not going to hit .342/.400/.534 in the majors in the long run, but he could likely hit .270-.280 with 20-25 homers if you gave him 500 at-bats. His walk rate isn’t high, but his strikeout rates have been remarkably low for a power hitter the last couple of seasons in Triple-A, which could make him ideally-suited as a pinch-hitter. He has no speed and his defense at first base is merely average, but the bat should prove useful to someone if the Cubs can’t find a spot for him. Grade C due to age.

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