Archive for April, 2009

Holy Macaroni! 5-2!!!!

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Over the last week, I’ve sat back and read most of the posts and comments.  Chiming in with my usual blather of sensical talk.  Or at least what I perceive to be sensical talk.  I’m beside myself in the daily garble of Chicken Little “the sky is falling” talk. Seven days into the season, and the world is coming to an end.

It appears that this year being calm, cool and collect, is not in the Cub fan’s dictionary.  Raggin’ on D-Lee because he’s hitting under .100, Milton Bradley hurt himself, Geovany has played two games, Aramis has a sore back, Piniella has no idea how to manage.  The list goes on and on.  Seven days, sigh…….I’m not sure I can take six months of this.

In seven games, the are 5-2.  FIVE AND TWO!!!!

And that’s with all of the issues stated above.  Bradley’s out, Geovany is out, D-Lee is hitting (or lack of hitting) like a he’s got a tuna in his hands, the bullpen has been less than spectacular (May I clean those goggles Mr. Gregg?), and yet…….they’re FIVE AND TWO!!!! Wait Until Dark

The Cubs lost a game they should have won, and won a game they should have lost.  By my math that would put their record somewhere around…hmmmm, let me figure this out…….carry the one………FIVE AND TWO!!!!

Serenity now.

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Maybe we lay off Derrek Lee

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

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First Star

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– T. Lilly (.326 wpa)

Second Star – D. Lee (.182 wpa)

Third Star – K. Hill (.130 wpa)


Ted Lilly was masterful – I have a confession. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I feel safe among you. Come close. I’ve never seen a no-hitter. I know, I know, Carlos Zambrano pitched one last year. Unfortunately that game was not on television for me in North Carolina. I once made plans to watch the Braves on TBS when I was in college as they were facing Randy Johnson. I went to the store with the wife that evening and then forgot to turn the game on. Result? Perfect game!!! The closest I’ve seen is Zambrano against the Diamondbacks a few years ago, but yesterday I was holding out hope in Ted Lilly.

There was a start difference in this start and the last. Lilly definitely had significantly better control. At one point, his curveball was so ridiculous that it made Todd Helton (I believe) flinch, only to break sharply over the plate. There’s something incredibly satisfying about watching a pitcher carve up a lineup with them literally having no chance to combat it. It wasn’t the Kerry Wood 20 strikeout dominance, but more akin to the days when Greg Maddux was in the zone in his later career. He simply did what he wanted to the hitters without the benefit of an overwhelming about of swing and misses.

I asked after his last start “After tonight, do you start to worry about this being the year or do you chalk it up to the fact that when a pitcher is staked to a big lead early, they tend to relax and groove a few? I don’t see Lilly being that kind of guy, he’s way too intense. I worry a little that this is the year he regresses, not strictly based on tonight, but more on a hunch. Thankfully, most of my hunches tend to be wrong, but I’d like to know if you’re worried.” I like Lilly a lot, but I still worry a little that he won’t be as good this year as he has been since coming over. Again, I hope I’m wrong.


What exactly do we expect from Derrek Lee

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– The debate has been raging over the past few years and recently over the last few days. There are people who are Lee fans and those who are Lee haters. You’re either in one camp or the other. I tend not to be in the hater category from a stats standpoint, but more from a hype standpoint. I’d like to make a statement and we’ll see what you think. The worst thing to ever happen to Derrek Lee’s career in Chicago was his 50 homerun, 107 RBI, 2005 season. If Lee doesn’t go crazy that year, the expectations on him are not nearly as high. His first year in Chicago was exactly like his time in Florida and everyone was satisfied. Then he has the bustout year in ’05 and suddenly everyone feels as if he’s Albert Pujols. He’s not. Looking at his career, he’s a 25+ HR, 85-95 RBI hitter that tends to see his average hover in the.280-.290 range. Take away 2005 and he does that year in and year out. He’s Mark Grace with a little more power and a little less average. Everyone loved Mark Grace and hates Derrek Lee. Why? 2005. If that year doesn’t happen, Derrek Lee doesn’t have near the amount of haters that he currently has. That being said, what should we expect from Lee to fairly evaluate him. Perhaps we could come up with some baseline standards and measure him against those.

Completely homegrown lineup – The Rockies trotted out a lineup yesterday that was completely homegrown. By that I mean that either they drafted or signed as a non-drafted FA and developed in their system every player in their lineup. On the contrast, the Cubs only had one, Ryan Theriot. I found that little tidbit interesting as I’m a big fan of developing your own talent. When we will see our team develop a Todd Helton or a Prince Fielder or Ryan Braun? When will we develop an Albert Pujols? Wouldn’t that be nice?

  • The Cubs lineup had a massive power drought with Soto, Ramirez and Bradley out of the lineup yet still got the job done.
  • Soriano’s caught stealing in the first appeared to be a busted hit and run. If you noticed, he was looking back as he was running, which is usually a sign that the runner was going as part of a bigger plan.
  • Why are the Under Armor ads still on the outfield walls? I thought I remember them having issues and wanting to renege on the deal.
  • Mad props to Koyie Hill for getting the job done in Geo’s absence so far, despite a barking toe.
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Lunch on the Farm – 4/12

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Just the Smokies and I-Cubs in action yesteday, so it’s an abbreviated edition of Lunch on the Farm. I’m going to start making it so you just click the link to read the whole entry for the minor league posts that have some length. (more…)

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A Cubbie Moment

Monday, April 13th, 2009

While Reed Johnson’s catch wasn’t as spectacular as the diving grab he made last year, his play last night was no less impressive, and possibly more important.  With the bases loaded in the 5th, ESPN’s Jon Miller blessed the moment by saying, “Fielder has never hit a grand slam.” so every Cub fan knew what was coming.  It came when Prince “legitout” Fielder launched a moon shot into right field. ESPN had a lovely shot of the ball zooming along the rafters of Miller Park towards the stands.  To say that the Fielders hit looked Ruthian would be an understatement. It was such a preordained moment, such a rocket shot, that to be disappointed would be like crying because the sun rose in the east.  All you could do was watch and admire. But something happened at the top of its flight. Rather than carry the ball just fell, almost straight down, like a grape from the Sears Tower.  Johnson, a 4th inning replacement for a gimpy Milton Bradley, leapt, his glove made contact with the ball as his body hit the wall, and for one wonderful second you thought, “He caught it. Did he catch it?” As his body bounced back onto the warning track, Johnson reached into his glove, “He caught it! He’s gonna show it!” as double clutching at the ball, he rifles it into the infield.

After all there is still a game to be played.  One runs scores, leaving runners at 1st and 3rd, and Prince fielder gap mouthed in the coaches box.

As ESPN shows replay after replay for the rest of the game, the layers of the play unfold. You get to see Reed slow down on the warning track, measuring his steps, before taking 2 big steps into the wall and jumping. You get to see Fielder watching his drive as it went towards the wall, not celebrating, so he must have known he didn’t get it all, his face dropping for a second as the ball is caught, but then quickly scanning the infield to see what the runners were doing, (This was nicely pointed out by Joe Morgan). You get to have the Cubs appeal at 3rd and 2nd to see if the runners left early (the appeal is an underrated aspect of the game), they didn’t which is amazing self control on such a clear home run. Best of all you got to see Dempster get out of the inning with the Cubs still up 3, and as they go to commercial ESPN shows Fielder tipping his cap to Johnson in right field. This is sort of a cheesy gesture but make me giddy.

How many times has a Cub robbed someone of a HR?  And of a Grand Slam? So it was fun to watch the replay over and over, and to have Jon Miller explain about Reinhold Messner (not the Ben Folds 5 album) and crampons as a way to describe Johnson’s planting his foot in the wall for balance and lift.  It was even fun to be angry the rest of the night as Morgan, Phillips and Miller repeatedly said Johnson saved 4 runs. He saved 3.  It was fun to ask why was Johnson playing right field and Fukudome playing center—a clear indication Lou thinks Fuku is going to hit and going to play nearly every day. It was fun to realize that the Blue Jays gave Johnson away for free, how does this happen? And when they drilled Johnson in the 6th, was it on purpose? It doesn’t make any sense, but it sure looked like it. Johnson sure thought so.

Johnson’s catch made an otherwise boring game memorable, in the sense that that play would be shown over and over on sports center, it made me proud to be a Cub fan.  With our bullpen and bench, it is going to be a long year, Johnson’s catch was the first piece of Cubbie Magic that will hopefully make this a great year.The Pacifier release Anna Karenina movie full

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Soriano for MVP

Monday, April 13th, 2009

First Star – A. Soriano (.213 wpa)

Second Star – C. Counsell (.133 wpa)

Third Star – R. Theriot (.124 wpa)


I’m gonna try something a little different for the recaps and see how it goes. Each game, I’ll pick three topics and throw them out there. There will also be a poll whenever Pulse Poll gets their act together and fixes their site, so be sure to voice your opinion in that as well. From time to time, there will also be some quick hit type notes at the end.

Rick Sutcliff Said Alfonso Soriano Would Win The MVP

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– For a notoriously slow starter, Soriano sure seems to be interested in fulfilling the Red Baron’s prediction. If he can stay healthy, which has been the issue, I don’t see why he can’t win it or at least come close. He’s the best power threat on this team and is still a threat to steal a base. He proved both yesterday with another leadoff homerun and a steal.

His spot in the lineup sparked a debate between Joe Morgan and Steve Phillips in the booth. Morgan felt Soriano was right where he need to be because of his comfort in that position. Phillips basically took the stance that Soriano’s power threat was too valuable in that spot and needed to be moved down in the order. I tend to agree with Morgan on this one, simply because we don’t need

Soriano in the middle of the lineup. If we didn’t have guys like Bradley, Ramirez, Soto and even Fontenot in the heart of the lineup, it would be essential for Soriano to be in the middle. Since we’re blessed with the other guys, Soriano can hit where he’s comfortable. Besides, how fun is it to see him go yard off the first pitch and see Jeff Suppan just shake his head in dissappointment. That rattles a pitcher a lot more than an opposite field single would if Theriot was leading off. There is just something about being down 1-0 after one pitch that gets to a pitcher. That was evident last night.

When Does Kosuke Fukudome Earn Your Trust?

– He got on base three more times last night and seems to be a different hitter this year. Granted he hit this way in April last year, but I keep finding myself asking the question “what does he have to do to earn our trust?” I know for me, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I’ve pushed and campigned for him to be in the starting lineup since spring training and I’ll continue to do so until he proves me right or makes me look foolish. The question then falls to the fans. What does Fukudome have to do to completely win back your trust. Think back to opening day last year when Fukudome mania really got underway. Wouldn’t it be great to go back to that? He’s the key to this team, in my opinion.

I Hate Our Bullpen The Time Traveler’s Wife full – When I look up and down the pen, it scares the crap out of me. Kevin Gregg can’t seem to come in without giving up something. Neal Cotts started the year in the minors last year because of sucktitude and is the only lefty. Luis Vizcaino had an ERA over 5.00 last year. Guzman can’t stay healthy and, as Mastrick mentioned, can’t get hitters out despite having great stuff. Finally, David Patton is a freakin Rule 5 pickup. The only one with any sort of comfort for me is Marmol. This pen has the potential to be very troublesome all year. Mark my words.

  • Going back to the lineup discussion, Joe Morgan contradicted himself. He mentioned he wanted Ramirez in the third spot in the order because it would get him more at bats over the course of the year, but then later mentioned he would hit his worst non-pitcher 7th in the lineup. Not sure if he knows, but that would ALSO get a bad hitter MORE at bats. It works the same as it does for the third hitter, Joe.
  • Soriano has shown good patience in the early going this year
  • If Reed Johnson doesn’t come into the ballgame for Milton Bradley, Prince Fielder has himself a grand slam. Neither Bradley or Micah Hoffpauir get to that ball and make as spectacular a catch as Johnson does.
  • Another series win. Now we go home and try to win the series against Colorado. Baby steps all year. Win each series and finish with 100+ wins.
  • “The Cubs said Bradley had strained his right groin, which he apparently aggravated while taking extra batting practice. Piniella said Bradley would miss Monday’s home opener. His status is day-to-day.” ~ Paul Sullivan (Source)
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Minor League Wrap – 4/11

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

AAA – Iowa Cubs Class of 1984 hd defeated Round Rock 6-1

  • Jake Fox went 3-for-5 with a triple and three RBI
  • Bobby Scales went 1-for-3, but committed two errors in the field
  • Mark Johnson went 0-for-3 and is hitless on the season
  • Esmailin Caridad got the start and went five strong innings, giving up five hits and striking out six and not allowing a run.

AA – Tennessee Smokies defeated Jacksonville 6-2

Casey Coleman allowed a run and five hits over five soli d innings, while the Tennessee Smokies (2-1) found enough offense for a 6-2 victory over the Jacksonville Suns (1-2) in front of 4,746 Saturday night at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. Coleman (1-0) struck out six with one walk over his five inning performance for the win in his first Double-A outing. Willie Glen (0-1) allowed three runs and five hits over six innings, while allowing three walks with four strikeouts in the loss. Brian Schlitter (1) saved the game as he entered with a 3-1 score in the eighth inning, recording the final out of the frame. Schlitter allowed a solo homerun in the ninth inning to finish the game.

Tennessee opened the scoring in the second inning as Blake Lalli connected on a one-out, solo homerun off Glen. The Smokies padded the lead in the third inning when Matt Camp and Ty Wright each singled in runs against Glen for a 3-0 advantage. The Suns got on the board in the bottom of the frame on a two-out single from Bryan Petersen, cutting the Smokies lead to 3-1. After five innings of scoreless play, Tennessee added insurance against the Jacksonville bullpen in the ninth inning as James Adduci and Welington Castillo singled in runs back-to-back. Tony Thomas’ sacrifice fly later in the inning opened a 6-1 Smokies lead. Brad Davis belted his first homerun of 2009 in the bottom of the frame to end the scoring at 6-2.

High A – Daytona Cubs Hannibal Rising ipod The Bridge of San Luis Rey rip defeated Brevard County 4-0

A night after explosive bats stole the show at Jackie Robinson Ballpark, it was the pitchers who dominated. Right hander Dan McDaniel (1-0) threw six scoreless innings of one-hit baseball to give the Daytona Cubs (2-1, 2-1) a 4-0 victory over the Brevard County Manatees (1-2, 1-2).

The contest followed the path of a pitchers duel for most of the evening, as Daytona took a one-run lead in the bottom of the second, an advantage that held steady for six more innings. Third baseman Jovan Rosa led off the inning with a bloop single to right off Brevard County starter Evan Anundsen (0-1), which was followed by another single off the bat of left fielder Marwin Gonzalez. With runners on first and second, Russ Canzler hit a line drive of his own to right and drove in Rosa. Rosa would leave the game after scoring with an apparent leg injury sustained while rounding third.

The final runs occurred on a bizarre play in the bottom of the eighth. With runners at the corners and two out, second baseman Nathan Samson dropped a bunt down the first base line. Samson would beat the throw from Manatees pitcher Rafael Lluberes. The throw sailed into right field, which allowed both runners, Mark Reed and Starlin Castro, to score easily. As Samson continued on to second, the throw from right field was off the mark and wound up in foul territory beyond left field. A final throw to try and get Samson at home plate ricocheted off Samson’s back and he scored safely on what began as a bunt for a single and an RBI.

However, the star of the night remained McDaniel, who used combinations of fastballs and off-speed pitches to keep the Manatee hitters guessing.  The 20-year old recorded three strike outs while issuing a walk in the winning performance. Cubs relievers Steve Vento, Dustin Sasser, and Jake Muyco would put the finishing touches on the night with a combined three innings of two-hit baseball.

Low A – Peoria Chiefs lost to Kane County 3-2

Despite solid pitching all the way through, the Peoria Chiefs fell to the Kane County Cougars 3-2 in 10 innings Saturday night at O’Brien Field. In the top of the 10th, Jason Christian scored all the way from first on a Steve Kleen single off Chiefs reliever Erik Hamren to break the 2-2 tie. Hamren came on to relieve Josh Whitlock in the top of the 10th. After a Dusty Coleman groundout, Christian walked setting the table for Kleen’s game-winning single. Chiefs starter Chris Archer got himself into and out of trouble in the third to keep the game scoreless for the time being. After walking the first three Cougars of the frame, the recently acquired right-hander struck out Coleman. Christian grounded into a fielder’s choice Ridling throwing out Juan Nunez at the plate. Archer then induced a flyout to center off the bat of Kleen to end the threat.

With the game scoreless in the fourth, the Chiefs broke through offensively. Junior Lake blooped a double down the right field line. Cliff Andersen bounced into a fielder’s choice, with Lake out at third on the play. Ryan Flaherty poked a single through the right side of the infield and Andersen moved to third, setting the table for Rebel Ridling. With three runs driven-in already on the young season, Ridling added two more to his total, ripping a double off the wall in right-center field to plate Andersen and Flaherty and give the Chiefs a 2-0 lead. The Cougars got one of those runs back in the top half of the fifth against reliever Jose Pina. With Mitchell LeVier at third and Juan Nunez at the plate, Pina fired a wild pitch allowing LeVier to score and cut the Peoria lead in half at 2-1.

Kane County tied the game in the top of the fifth against Alberto Cabrera. Dusty Coleman led off with a single and Jason Christian was thrown out trying to stretch his single into a double. With Coleman at third and the infield drawn in, Steve Kleen tied the game with a groundout to third base.

Archer lasted just three innings but didn’t allow a hit. The Clayton, N.C. native walked four and struck out five. Jose Pina made his 2009 debut in relief of Archer. The third-year Chief gave up one run and one hit in 2/3 of an inning while walking two. Cabrera went 3 1/3 innings in relief. The returning Chief gave up one tally on three hits. Josh Whitlock hurled a scoreless eighth and ninth. Hamren was draped with the loss in his season debut, allowing the one run in the fifth. Jose Figueroa started for Kane County. The southpaw went three innings, giving up two runs on six hits. Josue Selenis earned the win after firing two scoreless frames, and Jose Guzman earned the save after pitching a spotless 10th.

Top Prospect Tracker

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To view the entire organizational recap of box scores, be sure to visit the Cubs page on FirstInning.com

Thanks to the Tennessee Smokies, Peoria Chiefs and Daytona Cubs media department for providing game recaps. Edward Scissorhands full

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Minor League Wrap – 4/10

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

AAA – Iowa (0-2) – Lost to Round Rock by a score of 6-2

  • Jake Fox went 2-for-3 with a HR, BB, & 3 RBI – I would have liked to see him make this team out of spring training, which would have given us another guy with the ability to get behind the plate. He’s more versatile than Micah Hoffpauir and could probably been used a little more. He’ll probably get his shot if Soto may be out for any extended period of time seeing that we don’t have a minor league catcher on the 40-man roster.
  • Jose Ascanio got the start, but went four innings, giving up two hits and holding the Express scoreless. He didn’t leave with an injury. My guess is that he just needs to stretch out before going deep into ballgames. Chad Fox and Kevin Hart also tossed scoreless innings late.
  • Christopher Robinson started at catcher and picked up two hits,  both singles. More than likely, if Fox doesn’t get the call, Mark Johnson would get the call to backup Koyie Hill instead of Robinson.
  • The Round Rock Express retired the late Mike Coolbaugh’s # 32. If you forgot, Coolbaugh was hit in the head with a line drive in August of 2007

AA – Tennessee (1-1) – Defeated Jacksonville by a score of 10-3

  • Tony Thomas exploded at the plate, going 4-for-5 with two home runs, a double, four runs and five RBI. I knocked this crew a little yesterday and they answered the call as a result. Thomas is hitting .556 on the young season so far.
  • Darwin Barney, the other part of the Thomas-Barney DP combo also hit a HR and drove in two.
  • Blake Lalli is a kid I’m curious about. He was signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in 2006 out of Gardner-Webb University and has hit fairly well so far in his minor league career. Over the course of three different levels, he hit .326 / .367 / .504 with 11 HR and 70 RBI in in 111 games last year. His primary position is 1B, but he played a little catcher as well. He went 2-for-4 last night out of the fourth spot in the order and is hitting .500 on the season.

High A – Daytona (1-1) – Defeated Brevard County by a score of 7-6

Opening night at Jackie Robinson Ballpark began with fanfare and a pitcher’s duel and ended with plenty of fireworks. After four-and-a-half scoreless innings, the Daytona Cubs (1-1) and Brevard County Manatees (1-1) combined for 13 runs before the Cubs came out on top, 7-6. A D-Cubs franchise and opening night record 5,113 fans watched the back-and-forth battle that saw the lead change hands four times.

Before the real fireworks took off with the postgame celebration, the Cubs bats came to life in the bottom of the fifth. Three walks issued by Manatees reliever Lucas Luetge, followed by back-to-back Starlin Castro and Nathan Samson singles plated four runs to break the seal. Castro’s hit was his fifth consecutive to start the 2009 season (he would ground out his next time up), while Samson’s was his first of the season.

The Manatees put together a five run rally of their own in the fifth off Cubs reliever Ryan Searle, who gave up four consecutive singles before being replaced by Craig Muschko.

In the bottom half of the frame, Cubs hitters used two doubles by Tyler Colvin and Jovan Rosa to lead off the inning, which scored the tying run. Third baseman Marquez Smith would give Daytona the lead once again two batters later with an RBI single to right-center field.

Another run for Brevard County in the eighth brought the game back to even; however, Cubs first baseman Jovan Rosa drove in his second run of the game to give Daytona its winning margin.

A double-play ball to second baseman Nathan Samson, who would apply the tag on the lead runner before firing to first, would bring the opener to a celebratory close.

The teams combined to use ten pitchers, with reliever David Cales (1-0) earning the win after throwing one-and-two-thirds innings of one hit baseball, including a strikeout. Manatees righty Rob Wooten took the loss despite not recording an earned run in his one inning of work.

Low A – Peoria (1-1) – Lost to Kane County by a score of 3-2

The Peoria Chiefs fell to the Kane County Cougars 3-2 in their second game of a three-game set on Friday night at O’Brien Field. The loss puts the Chiefs to 1-1 overall on the season.

With the score tied at two in the seventh, the Cougars went on top for good against Chris Huseby. David Thomas led off the inning with a single to right. Thomas stole second and was driven in after first-baseman Steve Kleen smoked a single just past the diving Josh Vitters to put the Cougars up 3-2.

The Chiefs jumped on the board in the second inning against the Cougars starter Shawn Haviland. Vitters lined out to center to start the inning and Nelson Perez The Bridge of San Luis Rey divx ripped a double down the left field line. Rebel Ridling, last night’s hero, came through with an RBI single up the middle, giving the Chiefs an early 1-0 advantage.

The Cougars came back to take the lead in the fourth inning after third-baseman Jason Christian doubled to right field and Kleen drove him in with a double of his own tying the game 1-1. After a single by Franklin Hernandez that advanced Kleen to third, Mitchell LeVier delivered a sacrifice fly to left, putting Kane County in the lead 2-1.

The Chiefs tied the game in the sixth inning against relief pitcher Kenny Smalley. Josh Harrison Into the Sun movies led off the inning doubling into left field. Kyler Burke grounded out, moving Harrison to third. Vitters took advantage of a drawn-in infield,  smacking a single into left to score Harrison and knot the game at two.

The Chiefs had a chance to tie the game in the eighth against Cougars reliever Leonardo Espinal. With one out, Harrison reached on an error by Dusty Coleman at shortstop and stole second. Kyler Burke bounced out as Harrison advanced to third as the tying run. But Espinal got Vitters to line out to first base to end the threat.

Chiefs starter Chris Carpenter allowed two runs and five hits in five innings of work in a nodecision. The righty struck out six and walked one. Marcus Hatley threw a scoreless inning and allowed a hit and a walk. Huseby (0-1) took the loss allowing two hits and one run in his inning of work. Mike Perconte threw two perfect innings and struck out two.

Top Prospect Tracker

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To view the entire organizational recap of box scores, be sure to visit the Cubs page on FirstInning.com Class of 1984 movie

Thanks to the Peoria Chiefs and Daytona Cubs media department for providing game recaps.

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Deja Vu'?

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

It smells a lot like 2008 to me. Same offensive weaknesses. Same blown save. Same poor management. Same blown game — which is something we end up saying far too often of the course of the season. Shoulda. It’s always shoulda.

Say what you will, and yes, I could have addressed this as a comment to Joe’s post — but I wanted to highlight a couple of things — but yesterday’s game had a familiar feel to it, didn’t it? I am telling you right now, on April 11, 2009, that if we don’t address these things and change them? We won’t go any farther than we did last year. And that is IF we make the playoffs. Why do I say that? I will tell you. We have a lot of talent on this team, but you can’t make them smart unless it starts with the coaching staff.

You know the difference between the Cubs and Red Sox over the last few years? Besides the obvious difference in jewelry obtained? Patience. No team works a pitcher like the Red Sox. And that starts with Dave Magadan — who preaches it. Make the pitcher work. Look at a lot of pitches. Be patient and you’ll get your chance. We are built a lot like the Red Sox. Lots of talent. Some old, some young. Good rotation. Solid pen. While the Cubs are swinging at every 3-1 pitch and every 2-0 pitch they see, regardless of the situation; the Boston team waits and waits and waits. They fight off two strike pitches — while we still swing for the fences. Why am I writing all this?

I got dressed down yesterday for suggesting that one of our problems is Gerald Perry. The commenter named statistics to prove me wrong. We scored a lot of runs and were led the league in this or that, blah, blah, blah. We beat up the bad pitchers, yes we do. And the good ones usually eat us up. Thankfully, there aren’t that many good ones. It’s the tweeners who you have to beat with regularity, and we lose far too many games to pitchers who shouldn’t beat us because we don’t work them. We let them off the hook time and time again. Our team would score runs if Aiello were the hitting coach — but how and when you score is equally important. Scoring 16 runs off a worn bullpen? Not as impressive as a guy working the count, fouling off four balls and coming through with a big hit in a game situation. And if you’ve been watching this team for any length of time you’d know that we don’t play that way. Hey, stat guys? Check this out — the team who sees the most pitches and draws the most walks usually wins.

Lou mismanaged the bullpen again. Thank goodness it didn’t go extras because I’d hate to see Reed Johnson pitch. The clean shaven Kerry Wood walked the ever so fearsome Chris Duffy and voila’ — one out of position left fielder later…it’s tied. Why didn’t Gathright come in to play left? Has anyone asked that?

I’m ranting now, because I’m pissed. I apologize for the Gordon sized post – I try to keep my rants short; but I have a bad feeling and yesterday’s game didn’t do anything to help me feel better. Sure, we might reel off ten in a row now. It does not change yesterday — and it does not change our deficiencies which I feel dramatically need to be addressed.

Play better. Play smarter. Win games and save us all from the agony of games like that.

It would have been nice to see the China Doll win that game. He was great. There are no heroes, however, when the team loses. Too bad for Koyie Hill, too.

Sherm

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Walkin' the game away!!!

Friday, April 10th, 2009

First Star – Rickie Weeks (.412 WPA)

Second Star – Koyie Hill (..307 WPA)

Third Star – Corey Hart (.257 WPA)


I want to start it off with a comment that has it locked down perfectly:

It’s a long season, and I hate to get too high after a win or too low after a loss…but jeepers, this guy Gregg does not appear to have closer ’stuff’ and Theriot manages too look even shakier defensively than last year. A tailor made DPLee ball to put in into extras and he tries to off balance a throw to get the Brewers fastest guy at the plate? Really? Think it through before it happens…there’s a reason you’re playing at DOUBLE PLAY DEPTH there Ry. ~ Cap’n Obvious

I logged onto my computer after the loss and was greated by this comment and thought he hit it on the head perfectly in a few ways.

First, it is a long season and it’s important to not to dwell on either result, but this game pissed me off. Walking the number of hitters we walked in the late innings is inexcusable. Come on bullpen, throw the dang ball over the plate.

Second, it seemed like the entire game, we had mental questions. Soriano got a late break on a ball in the early innings that forced Theriot to break back on it and call a ball that he had no business fielding. Lou seemed to confuse himself with the bullpen use, bringing in 426 relievers in an attempt to get nine outs. Then Theriot tries the play at the plate to end the game despite the DP depth he was playing. If your manager sets you in that alignment, it means he wants you to go to second for the 6-4-3 DP to keep the game alive. Couple that with the air mailed throw and Theriot didn’t have the best day in the field.

Rich Harden looked really good in his six innings and was missing bats like his usual self. Of all the pitchers in the rotation, he is definitely my favorite to watch. There’s just something really amusing about watching pitchers pile up a lot of strikeouts. Harden made guys look like minor leaguers at the plate on more than a few occasions. I had wanted to watch his speed via the radar gun in the early innings, but the Brewers TV feed was having issues with their radar gun. The first pitch he threw clocked in at 105MPH and then the next fastball clocked in at 65 mph. After that, they turned it off, so it wasn’t until I was caught up on the DVR and was able to switch to WGN that I saw a true reading. He hovered around 89 – 90 all day, but was able to ramp it up as high as 97, which should encourage many. He got a tough no-decision, but six innings of good work counts as a win in my book.

Koyie Hill played his role on this team perfectly tonight and even provided a little more than we can anticipate. It wasn’t so long ago that I wrote “Coming into last night’s game, Koyie Hill was hitting a paltry .201 / .270 / .306. This is a far cry from the numbers he put up last year in Iowa that had everyone wanting to give him the starting job because of the winning record our pitchers had when he was behind the plate. At this point, he’s not taking someone’s roster spot than would be more deserving, but I wonder out loud why he’s still on a minor league roster in our system. He’s never performed behind the plate, aside from the year he had last year. He’s not in the long terms plans for this team, especially with the emergence of Geo behind the plate and Josh Donaldson in the next few years, so why not cut ties right now?” Perhaps I spoke too soon. He knows his role right now with Geo out and so far he’s played it perfectly.

It’s a tough way to lose, especially against a division rival and perhaps our biggest competition in the division this year, but with Zambrano and Dempster going next, there is no reason we can’t still win this series before coming home. Keep that in mind. We’re not home yet.

Photo Credit:

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(AP Photo/Jim Prisching) One Night at McCool’s download

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