Archive for July, 2009

GirlieView (07/31/2009)

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Quick Weekly Wrapup

  • Friday, 07/24: vs. Cincinnati, W (8-5)
  • Saturday 07/25: vs. Cincinnati, W (5-3)
  • Sunday 07/26: vs. Cincinnati, W (5-2)
  • Monday 07/27: vs Houston, W (5-1)
  • Tuesday 07/28: vs Houston, L (11-6)
  • Wednesday 07/29: vs Houston, W (12-0)
  • Thursday 07/30: vs Houston, W (12-3)

Fun week to watch Cubs baseball! I’m trying not to get over confident yet, but I’m definitely more optimistic than in weeks past.

Count-the-Mullets Results

Only 6. Disappointing turnout this year.

Question of the Week

This week I actually have four questions for your consideration:

  1. This has been talked about a little bit already but let’s hear your thoughts. Who do you want in the rotation now that Hart’s gone? Marshall? Samardzija? Someone else entirely? Let’s look at it two ways. Who do you want in the rotation? vs. Who will Lou use in the rotation? They are not necessarily the same. Rarely if you’re me.
  2. It seems when Soriano hits the whole team hits. When Soriano sucks the whole team sucks. Why is that? Is it even true, or is it just a perception? I remember thinking it last year too.
  3. What was so bad about Hart? It’s a serious question, not sarcastic. I’m really trying to learn. He looked fine, not great but fine, yet even when he was doing ok you didn’t hear a good word about him. Even from Len and Bob. Everyone seemed almost cynical about it … kind of like “well, he’s holding his own but heaven knows how he’s pulling it off” rather than “wow the kid’s holding his own!” Just a little Lizzie education with this question.
  4. Did you hear about the naked bat girl at the Marlins game last week? Me neither, just seeing if anyone’s paying any attention on a Friday afternoon. :-)

Weekly VFTB Highlights

  • I cant quit you man!!! (here)
  • We’re in first place!!!!!! (here)
  • Thank God for offense. (here)
  • Soriano should never hit leadoff again. (here)
  • I think you should have said.. “I’ll try not to Wee in the pool” (here)
  • Admit it. If I would have said that Kevin Gregg would have better numbers than Carlos Marmol at this point in the year, would you have believed me? (here)
  • [Bradley] seems to love to draw the walks and since he seems to have an allergy to driving in runs, why not hit him 2nd? (here)
  • you go with a professional hitter in that situation, not a pitcher who swings like Paul Bunyan (here)
  • A guy like Fontenot must be able to bunt. He is a medicore utility infielder. You have to know how to bunt. (here)
  • Lou didn’t pinch hit for Demp in the 4th because we just played a 14 inning game the day prior, taxing our bullpen, the top 1% of wage earners and your employer-paid health benefits. (here)
  • Maybe Jim Edmonds is available? (here)
  • I could have been a wideout for chrissakes. (here)
  • Bob, rather than replying sympathetically like a former catcher may, simply said that under normal circumstances calling balls and strikes is a tall order for Bucknor. (here)
  • Milwaukee – Still drunk, stupid and trying to keep from free falling. (here)
  • I think the next six games will tell the tale of if the ship has been righted. (here)

You’re right, Matt, this week will show us. Should be some exciting baseball! Enjoy it!

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Len & Bob Love, Peeing Your Pants, Former Prospects, Etc

Friday, July 31st, 2009

About Last Night

Reason # 487 why I love Len & Bob – Don’t know if you caught the game on WGN yesterday, but early in the game, C.B. Bucknor caught two balls off the shoulder in a matter of minutes and was obviously shaken by the experience. Len made the comment that he still needed to jump right back in there and call balls and strikes, which is a tall order. Bob, rather than replying sympathetically like a former catcher may, simply said that under normal circumstances calling balls and strikes is a tall order for Bucknor. Roll on Bob. That’s why I love you.

You Know It’s Coming – Jake Fox played yesterday….Jake Fox homered yesterday. Just saying. That’s my boy.

Questioning the Manager – At the time, it was a little more significant that it ended up being with the final score taken into account, but the Astros intentionally walked Koyie Hill with one out and runners on 2nd & 3rd and a 1 run lead. It seemed odd that you would walk a hitter with an average hovering around .200 to get to the pitcher in hopes of a double play when so often a pitcher strikes out. It all but guaranteed that Fukudome would come to the plate. It seemed like it would be smarter to go right at Hill and Hart in hopes of getting out of the inning without any damage. Agree? Disagree?

I Guess That Answers That Question – As I was watching the game early, I asked myself the question “when do we go with another option in the rotation for Hart?” I guess Hendry was listening to my thoughts and made a move accordingly. My guess is that now Marshall will make the transition back to the rotation, but at this point is that the right move? If you’re just going to move him back to the pen when Lilly comes back, would it be a better option to go with Samardzija or perhaps even getting out of the box and going with someone like Casey Coleman from AA. Just thinking out loud.

Around the division

St. Louis – Lost to the Dodgers, which paved the way for our return to 1st place.

Houston – Released Russ Ortiz after his last beatdown at our hands. Sorry about that, Russ.

Pittsburgh – Thanks for continuing to supply our needs. Always nice to have a store like Wal-Mart available 24 hours a day when we need something. Thanks again.

Cincinnati – Anxious to get rid of Dusty, dude. “I’ve got reason to believe that the Cardinals can’t wait to get their claws into Paul Janish to turn him into a Cy Young winner. I’d throw in Harang too if they’d just take Dusty off our hands.” (Red Hot Mama)

Milwaukee – Still drunk, stupid and trying to keep from free falling. I guess no one will be peeing their pants again this year…or at least not in celebration for a Brewers division title. I guess you have to differentiate sometimes.

News & Notes

  • The Tennessee Smokies, Class AA minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, announce a series of roster moves Thursday. RHP Chris Carpenter has been promoted from High-A Daytona. In a corresponding roster move, RHP Jay Jackson has been sent to Daytona. Jackson was pitching well with the Smokies with a 5-5 record and a 3.70 ERA. His control was a tad spotty, but I’m not sure why moving him down would suddenly help that.
  • Former Cub prospect, and Mark Strickler favorite, Brian Dopirak hit a grand slam and drove in 7 for the Blue Jays farm system. No reason to mention it other than to bring him up.
  • JR Mathes only allowed one run in 7.0 innings pitched
  • Casey Coleman only allowed one run in 6.0 innings pitched
  • Jay Jackson only allowed one run in 5.2 innings pitched
  • Jadel Mendez pitched 6.0 scoreless innings
  • Smaily Borgues was 3-for-4

Top Prospect Tracker

Photo Op

Right-hander Casey Coleman is 10-5 with a 3.26 ERA in 20 starts this season. (Carl Kline/MiLB.com)


Rich Harden vs. Chris Volstad

Harden says all of his first-half day/night, home/road stats are lopsided because of bad mechanics, not because he can’t pitch during the afternoon. The right-hander wasn’t using his legs enough but has figured out his troubles since the All-Star break. He now is 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA since the break, picking up the win in his last start, against the Reds. In that game, Harden gave up one hit — a Joey Votto homer in the first inning — before retiring 16 in a row. Harden struck out eight, and he has 21 strikeouts in three starts since the break. He didn’t walk a batter against the Reds — the second time he’s done that this year.

During the West Coast road trip, Volstad won both of his starts, claiming decisions at San Diego and Los Angeles. However, control has been an issue for the 22-year-old, who walked four in each of those games. In 5 1/3 innings at Los Angeles, he gave up four runs, all in the sixth inning. Home runs remain an issue, as he’s surrendered 21 in 21 starts. Volstad faced the Cubs on April 23 at Wrigley Field, giving up two runs on three hits in seven innings. He wasn’t involved in the decision, but Florida won the game. (MLB.com)

Has an incredibly projectable frame for a major-league starter. Is also a smart pitcher with a great feel for the position. Is still a little too hittable, and he must also improve his strikeout/walk ratio in order to maximize his big-league potential. A quality mid-rotation starter. (TSN.ca)

Carlos Zambrano vs. Burke Badenhop

Zambrano did not get a decision in his last start against the Astros, but did pitch well. He gave up one run on three hits over seven innings, and that one run came on Carlos Lee’s home run. Zambrano did walk four, and struck out four. It was his 13th quality start. He’s now 1-1 with a 2.52 ERA in his last six home games and has recorded a quality start in each of those games. He also has a hit in four of his last six games.

The Marlins have not formally announced a starting pitcher for Saturday’s game against the Cubs, but manager Fredi Gonzalez said it was “highly likely” Burke Badenhop will get the ball against the Cubs. Gonzalez did not officially pencil in Badenhop because he does not know what will happen with the unpredictable weather in South Florida over the next few days. If Badenhop does not throw Friday night, you can almost guarantee he will start Saturday. The right-hander would be making his first appearance since returning from a three-game suspension for hitting Dodgers second baseman Orlando Hudson with a pitch on July 26. Badenhop won his only start this season after holding the Phillies to one run over five innings on May 27. Left-handers Sean West and Andrew Miller were other potential options to get the start on Aug. 1, but will not as both started in the Minors on July 29. (MLB.com)

Has an ideal frame and a good feel for pitching and a solid repertoire. Can be used as either a starter or reliever. Is a little too hittable when his command is not quite where he wants it to be. Doesn’t strike out a lot of batters because of average stuff. A back-of-the-rotation starter or long reliever. (TSN.ca)

Ryan Dempster vs. Ricky Nolasco

Dempster was rusty in his first outing in 3 1/2 weeks. He had been sidelined with a broken right big toe, suffered July 5, and was going to be limited to 80-85 pitches. He threw 85 exact. But that was over five innings. He gave up six runs on nine hits and struck out three. He just wasn’t sharp, and the problem was location. He has one win in his last seven starts.

Nolasco took a no decision his last time out after holding the Braves to two runs on seven hits over seven innings while striking out five. The right-hander showed toughness on the mound, pitching himself out of several jams. In his next start, the 26-year-old faces the organization that drafted him. Nolasco is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA over three starts against the Cubs for his career. (MLB.com)

Has terrific command of his low-90′s heat, plus he features a strong curveball and good change-up. Is very effective against right-handed hitters. Will occasionally struggle with his mechanics and confidence. Injuries have so far wreaked havoc on his big-league potential. A decent mid-rotation starter. (TSN.ca)

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Trade

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Undoubtedly someone will type up something more about this soon. But the Cubs have completed a trade with the Pirates that brings left handed reliever John Grabow and pitcher (now in AAA) Tom Gorzelanny. The Cubs send Kevin Hart, Jose Ascanio, and minor league infielder Josh Harrison.

CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs today acquired left-handed pitchers John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny from the Pittsburgh Pirates for right-handed pitchers Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio and Single-A Daytona infielder Josh Harrison.

Grabow will be added to the Cubs 25-man roster prior to tomorrow’s game at Florida. Gorzelanny, a native of Evergreen Park, Ill., will join Chicago’s Triple-A Iowa roster.

The 30-year-old Grabow is 3-0 with a 3.42 ERA (18 ER/47.1 IP) in 45 relief appearances for the Pirates this season. He has posted a 2.22 ERA (7 ER/28.1 IP) and a .184 batting average against (18-for-98) in his last 25 appearances during the last two-plus months starting May 24. He has not allowed a run in 22 of the 25 outings, including 11 consecutive scoreless outings from June 24-July 22, covering 12.0 innings pitched.

Grabow has been especially tough in “close and late” situations this season, limiting opponents to a .212 batting average (22-for-104) in those spots. Overall he is limiting foes to a .246 batting average against, including a .234 mark by righthanders (29-for-124) and a .275 mark (14-for-51) by lefthanders.

In 2008, Grabow turned in the best season of his seven-year big league career when he went 6-3 with a 2.84 ERA (24 ER/76.0 IP) in 74 relief appearances with the Pirates. He limited opponents to a .215 batting average (60-for-279), including a .239 mark by lefties and a .207 mark by righties. Overall in seven seasons with Pittsburgh, the six-foot-two, 205-pounder is 20-15 with six saves and a 4.09 ERA (165 ER/363.1 IP) in 390 career relief outings. A native of Arcadia, Calif., Grabow was originally selected by Pittsburgh in the third round of the 1997 Draft.

A 14-game winner for the Pirates in 2007, the 27-year-old Gorzelanny has split the 2009 season between Pittsburgh and its Triple-A Indianapolis club. With Indianapolis, Gorzelanny has gone 4-3 with a 2.48 ERA (24 ER/87.0 IP) in 15 starts. He has a 0.96 ERA (4 ER/37.1 IP) in his last six Triple-A starts beginning June 27 and is 3-2 with a 1.21 ERA (7 ER/52.0 IP) in his last nine starts. Overall with Indianapolis, Gorzelanny has limited opponents to a .228 batting average, including a .195 mark by left-handed hitters.

Gorzelanny enjoyed his first full major league season in 2007 when he went 14-10 with a 3.88 ERA (87 ER/201.2 IP) in 32 starts with the Pirates. He has split the 2008 and 2009 seasons between Triple-A and the majors. He is 3-1 with a 5.19 ERA (5 ER/8.2 IP) in nine relief appearances for the Pirates this season during his big league stint from May 17-June 9.

The six-foot-two, 202-pound Gorzelanny made his major league debut with the Pirates in 2005 and was named Pittsburgh’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2006 after going 6-5 with a 2.35 ERA with Indianapolis. Overall in 76 major league appearances (65 starts) with the Pirates, Gorzelanny is 25-26 with a 4.79 ERA (204 ER/383.1 IP).

Hart, 26, has split the 2009 campaign between Chicago and Triple-A Iowa. He is 3-1 with a 2.60 ERA (29 ER/66.1 IP) in eight appearances (four starts) with the Cubs this season, earning the win this afternoon against the Houston Astros.

Ascanio, 24, has also split the 2009 season between the Cubs and Triple-A. He is 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA (6 ER/15.1 IP) in 14 relief appearances for Chicago this season.

Harrison, 22, is batting .286 (20-for-70) with one home run and nine RBI in 18 games with Daytona this season. He began the year with Single-A Peoria, where he batted .337 (102-for-303) with four homers and 33 RBI in 79 games.

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The 13 Man Staff Strikes Again

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Sometimes I just don’t understand the decisions made. Reed Johnson to the DL and Jeff Stevens to the big club. The only thing I can think of is that Stevens was still in town and Fuld couldn’t get here in time. The media release is after the jump. (more…)

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Catchers Galore, Wells for ROY, and Yahoo Error

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

About Last Night

  • For once, perhaps an injury won’t be that big a deal for this team. Admittedly, I enjoy watching Reed Johnson play, and I think he has been a huge addition for this team, but at the same time, I don’t worry about him being out for the next month. I have no doubt that Sam Fuld can do the job in a platoon with Kosuke until Reed comes back. By that time, the rosters will have expanded and both should have a role on this active roster. On the whole, not the end of the world if you ask me.
  • Randy Wells needs to get serious consideration for Rookie of the Year. Imagine if we have two straight. We’re on our way to being the Dodgers of the 90′s. Woo Hoo.
  • I find it interesting, and it will probably be corrected before the end of the day, that if you look at the pitcher lines for both teams are Yahoo, neither add up to the amount of innings that were pitched. Mitch Atkins pitched 0 innings, but yet the game was still over. The Astros pitched a combined 5 innings of work. That’s awesome.

Minor League Notes

Good to see we don’t have any catchers that are hitting the baseball down in the minors.

  • Welington Castillo (CATCHER) hit 2 home runs
  • Michael Brenly (CATCHER) was 3-for-5
  • Chris Robinson (CATCHER) was 2-for-3 with a walk
  • James Leverton only allowed one run in 5.2 innings pitched
  • Brett Jackson was 4-for-5
  • Ryan Flaherty went 2-for-6 with a triple and three RBI
  • Andrew Cashner went another five innings, only allowing 1 run and lowering the AA ERA to 1.09
  • Jovan Rosa has been named the Midwest League Player of the Week for the week of July 20-26.

Top Prospect Tracker

Photo Op

Junior Lake is batting .260 with five homers and 24 RBIs in 97 games this season. (Paul R. Gierhart/MiLB.com)

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Cubs roll, Johnson breaks foot

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Today the Cubs totally annihilated the Astros and took the lead with a decisive 12-0 win over the Astros.  It’s hard to say what was more dominant, the Cubs hitting or the pitching of Randy Wells; Mitch Atkins came in for mop-up action in the 9th and every single Cubs bench player saw action.

Lost to the Cubs today is center fielder Reed Johnson, who broke a foot on a foul tip.  Johnson will miss an estimated 4-6 weeks.  Expect Sam Fuld to return to the Cubs roster – Cubs catcher Koyie Hill is still pulling marathon man action behind the plate so a callup of C Chris Robinson is also a possibility.  Robinson is hitting .321 with one error for Iowa so this move makes the most sense.  It would also allow the Cubs to give Jake Fox time in LF, RF and occasionally at 3B and 1B in a backup role or late inning substitute.  Now the Cubs must substitute Fox for another player when he pinch-hits because they are burning their backup catcher – this an unnecessary consideration for Cubs’ manager Lou Piniella.

The Cubs will enjoy a day off Thursday prior to starting a series against the dreaded Marlins. I always hate playing these guys for more reasons than 2003. They always seem to bring good pitching and we always seem to have critical meltdowns when we play these upstarts. Florida is third in the wildcard race, 2.5 games behind San Francisco. Everybody talks about Hanley Ramirez but I’m as concerned (if not more) with their outfield. It consists of CF Cody Ross (14 HR, 463 SLG,) Brett Carroll and Jeremy Hermida. All of those guys can hit an extra base hit and so can Cantu. Dan Uggla leads the team with 17 homeruns and we all know about their pitching staff led by Josh Johnson. The Cubs will play three games in Florida and none of them appears to be in danger of being blacked out – they will then enjoy another day off on Monday.

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BJ Ryan maks an appearance

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Well, you gotta lose sometime, but what a weird game last night. Oswalt leaves early due to injury. A ball gets lost in the pitchers baseball jersey. Very very strange stuff. We’re out of 1st again, so let’s put the pressure on St. Louis again with a win today.

  • Tough outing for Dempster. Do you think it’s related to rust, the toe still bothering him, or just a bad outing?
  • Bullpen Monday = outstanding…..Bullpen Tuesday = not so much.
  • Justin Berg was sent down to make room for Dempster, and I’m not sure I would have went that route. I think Samardzija was the guy to go.
  • All this talk about the Cubs not having a catcher in the system to backup is garbage. You mean to tell me that we’ve got no one down there that can hit .198 in the Majors and catch a ballgame every so often? That’s what Koyie is hitting right now. I’m sorry, but I’m not buying the bridge Hendry and some of you are trying to sell me. I’d like to see Jeff Baker gone and Chris Robinson added to the 40 man roster and called up to backup Hill so we can actually afford to use a guy like Jake Fox at other positions and not worry about the fact that your backup catcher is on the field and could get hurt.
  • Big ups to Mark Buehrle on another great outing, breaking the consecutive hitless innings record. Not so much on his appearance on David Letterman.

Minor League Notes

  • B.J. Ryan pitched a scoreless inning of relief for Iowa, allowing a walk, but no hits.
  • Casey Fossum got hit hard in his five inning start, allowing five earned runs. Just when I bragged on him too.
  • Aaron Miles doesn’t appear to be coming back to this team. He’s hitting .222 in Iowa with a .234 OBP.
  • Josh Harrison earned Florida State League Player of the Week honors after two great series versus the St. Lucie Mets and Palm Beach Cardinals. Harrison batted .423 (11-26) over the last week and stole seven bases.
  • Craig Muschko pitched 6.0 scoreless innings
  • Alvaro Ramirez was 3-for-5
  • Jordan Petraitis was 3-for-4

Top Prospect Tracker

Photo Op

Jovan Rosa is batting .310 with 16 RBIs and two steals in 19 games with the Chiefs. (Scott Jontes/MiLB.com)

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Jeremy Papelbon sticks one to me

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Just when I start dissing on Jeremy Papelbon, he drops a great outing on us.

  • Jeremy Papelbon pitched 4.1 scoreless innings
  • Rafael Dolis pitched 5.0 scoreless innings
  • Austin Bibens-Dirkx only allowed one run in 9.0 innings pitched
  • Melvin Camarena was 4-for-6 with 6 RBI
  • Rebel Ridling went 4-for-4 with a HR

Top Prospect Tracker

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I Know We’re Winning…But

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Big ups to Sori for the walk off grand slam after another moron moment in the 11th where he didn’t even run on a ground out to third. It feels good to see this team hitting a hot streak at just the right time, but I came away from the game with a few questions / thoughts.

Lineup Shuffling - Kosuke got the night off tonight against the lefty, with ReJo in there to spell him. The offense suffered as a result. 0-for -12 combined. Johnson and Theriot simply couldn’t do anything at the top to set the table for the middle of the order, especially Lee who had a great day at the plate. In my opinion, Johnson isn’t really the guy I want at the top of the order. He looked confused at the plate tonight. I’d rather see Theriot lead off against lefties with someone like Milton Bradley hitting 2nd. In fact, I really wouldn’t mind a move for Bradley to the middle of the order against the righties as well. He seems to love to draw the walks and since he seems to have an allergy to driving in runs, why not hit him 2nd? Between Fukudome and Bradley, a pitcher has the potential to throw 15 pitches and have a pair of baserunners on for Lee / Ramirez / Soriano at the 3-4-5 spots. It’s worth a try. What’s the worst that can happen?

Along the same lines of lineup shuffling, would it have made more sense to hit Carlos in the 8th spot with Koyie Hill behind the plate? Hill isn’t really in there because of the offense. Wouldn’t that be the time to pull a LaRussa and go with the pitcher hitting 8th? Purists hate it, but I can see the value in it for someone like LaRussa with a guy like Pujols in that lineup. Then again, with Lee hitting the ball the way he has, why not try to get as many on base ahead of him as possible?

What’s Foxy gotta do? – Hill is an iron man behind the plate. We’ve seen that since Geo has gone down with the injury, but what I can’t seem to figure out is why Lou refuses to get Foxy in the lineup when he can. Is it really necessary to have him catch every game? Why not give Hill a night off every now and then if you trust Fox behind the plate, which obviously Lou does to a point or he wouldn’t have put him back there for a couple of innings tonight or awhile back? Fox can hit. I think we’ve all seen that so far at this level, so now it becomes Lou’s responsibility to get him at bats when possible.

Questioning Lou – I don’t question Lou’s decision to suicide squeeze with Fontenot in the 9th, despite it’s failure, but what I do question is the decision to leave Zambrano in the game to hit in the 7th inning with runners on 1st and 2nd and two outs. It was clear that Z wasn’t going to come back out to pitch the 8th. While Zambrano can handle the bat, when he’s up at the plate he’s thinking one thing and one thing only….HACK. That’s not the approach I want in that situation. I’d have rather seen Lou pinch hit in that spot in an effort to push that run in and get Z a chance at a win.

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