Archive for July, 2009

So, What Do You Think?

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Joe got his sweep and also had a fun high-scoring game to watch live and in person Sunday so I’m confident he had a great time!

How are you all feeling about the team after the weekend? Here’s some choices:

  • Great! The Cubs have turned themselves around!
  • Not Great! They beat the hapless Nationals, don’t get excited.
  • Hopeful, let’s see how it goes vs. the Phillies then we’ll know more.
  • Who cares? A win is a win!

Feel free to use one of these, combine a few, or make one up for yourself! What do you think?

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Sweet Lou

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

“Sweet Lou – Lou Piniella: A Life in Baseball”, by Melissa Isaacson is a new book, published in 2009. It contains a lot of valuable insight about the current manager of the Chicago Cubs, much of which I did not know. Here are some pearls:

One phrase which comes up over and over to describe Lou’s personality, is: “Lou’s Lou”. I guess this phrase is similar in some ways to “Manny being Manny”, and it is used by Mr. Piniella’s long time buddies to describe their friend. “Lou’s Lou”. What more can I say?

Lou was once told, “I never realized how intelligent you are because you hide it so well with your temper.”

I learned, from this book, that Lou’s grandparents emigrated to Florida from Spain. My dad had been telling me that “Piniella” is an Italian name. When I informed my dad that the name was, in fact, Spanish, he thought for a second, then smiled and said: “Hey, like my grandmother, she was from Spain, too.” Then The World’s Greatest Living Cubs Fan smiled and smiled. And it’s true. My great grandmother was Spanish, from Spain.

The book talks about Lou growing up in West Tampa and Ybor City. I’ve been to Ybor City and I liked it. Saw the old cigar factories and visited an active brewery. Check it out.

Johnny Bench is quoted: “When you’ve won as much as we have, I guess it’s like sex. It’s great every time, but you don’t have all those weird reactions like you did the first time.”

Lou learned a valuable lesson about managing while with the Yankees: “You can’t manage scared. Sooner or later, you’ll be fired – every manager knows that – but while you have the job, you must do it your own way.”

Lou credits Yogi Berra with showing him that: “Patience is an art. Just because you have a certain position of responsibility, it doesn’t mean you have to be uncivil.”

In describing his famous temper, Lou says: “I’ve got that Spanish temperament, that blood, whatever it is, and I get a little excited. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

George Steinbrenner once told Lou: “You’re the manager. You do the managing. I’m the owner. I’ll do the second-guessing. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

**I have to say that George Steinbrenner comes off in this book as being maybe just a little bit unbalanced.**

When Lou was working as the color analyst for the Yankees he enjoyed “the free time it afforded him for his family, golf, the track, and other business involvements. Most of all, he appreciated the noticeable absence of stress.”

When Lou was interviewing with Marge Schott for the job of managing the Cincinnati Reds, she wasn’t very familiar with him. “Marge Schott thought Piniella was a rum-punch drink you picked up in Puerto Rico. She didn’t know Piniella from a bale of hay.”

And Lou is credited with telling his players in Cincinnati: “We have 162 games – we’re going to win 50 for sure. We’re going to lose 50 for sure. I want you guys ready for the other 62. When they’re going to be, I don’t know, but that’s what I want you ready for, to bust our behinds for those other 62.”

We are reminded of “Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko’s Ex-Cubs Factor, Royko’s theory that the A’s had no chance because they had more ex-Cubs than the Reds.”

Bret Boone of the Seattle Mariners says Lou: “ended up being my all-time favorite manager that I ever played for”. Bret further describes Lou as: “a teddy bear who really, truly loves his players.” By the way, the Mariner’s slogan that year was “Refuse to Lose.”

Gary Shelton described Lou managing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as being “like Butch Cassidy leading the Teletubbies.” “In the end, as Shelton said, some managers plant and some harvest, and Piniella was ‘an autumn kind of guy on a spring sort of franchise’.” Lou eventually told the Tampa Bay ownership: “You can’t pay me enough money to lose.”

The final chapter of the book, titled “Curses”, is about Lou Piniella managing the Chicago Cubs. Of course, this was my favorite chapter in the book. And Lou is quoted as telling reporters: “Curses are for people without self-confidence.”

After being in Chicago a few months Lou declared: “Now I know why you guys haven’t won. It’s just everything here. Guys don’t take pitches; they don’t learn how to slide step in the minors. It’s crazy, I’m reteaching things guys should know. I’ve had to completely change the mentality. Any time something goes wrong, it’s ‘Oh well, it’s just the Cubs.’ That shit has to stop.”

Another reaction Lou had to Chicago: “What is it with the media in this town? I don’t shave and it’s a f***ing news story.”

Lou’s old friend Lee Elia once said about Cubs fans in Wrigley Field: “Eight-five percent of the f***in’ world is working. The other fifteen come out here.”

In as extremely prescient 2007 quote, Lou said: “You don’t take superstars out of the lineup.”

I enjoyed reading “Sweet Lou – Lou Piniella: A Life in Baseball”. I came away with a much deeper appreciation for Lou’s experience and track record as a manager. And with that in mind, I wish Lou and the Cubs and all Cubs fans the very best for the second half of the 2009 season.

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GirlieView (07/17/2009)

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Quick (Really Quick!) Weekly Wrapup

  • Thursday, 07/16: @ Washington, W (6-2)

You’ll notice I skipped the part of the week that occurred before the All Star Break. I don’t want to think about it anymore. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a new season. Ok, not completely new because you don’t start a new season 3.5 games back but new enough for me.

Question of the Week

If you haven’t yet given your opinion on what’s to come (or even if you have!) how do you feel about the second half? Do you expect the Cubs to be able to turn it around? Or do you think we’ll see more of the same? I wasn’t able to catch much of last night’s game so it’s hard for me to judge how they looked (though I did see the 9th inning and that was quite nice!) What do you think?

(Not Many) Weekly Highlights

Not much going on here this week but I was still able to uncover some gems among your posts.

  • It was nice to see Lilly pick up his 100th career win
  • It’s time to quit worrying about egos or salary obligations and start playing the hot hand.
  • It’s time to buck conventional thinking and take chances.
  • I hated the first half of this year.

That about sums it up. :-)  Have a great week!

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King of the Castle

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Taking a look at each night’s starters is something I’m going to get in the habit of bringing to you around the mid day when there is a night game and in the morning on a day game. Also in that post will be the minor league results from the night before and the minor league top prospect player tracker. Today, that info is after the jump. Nice win last night, now let’s go out and win again tonight.

I was impressed with the lower 3rd of the order last night. Koyie Hill played a really nice game and Jeff Baker and Rich Harden each chipped in as well. Good production from those guys.

Also, I had an idea that I wanted to kick around with you. I’d like to do some sort of new game called King of the Castle (apologies to Borat). The basic premise is that we’d get two participants and I would send them a question. They send back a 200-300 word (i.e. 2 paragraphs or so) argument as to their thought on the question. Both people are given the same question and then we posts the answers. Most convincing argument wins and stays on the mountain for another week. We would run it on either Friday or Monday. If you’re interested in participating, let me know in the comments section and I’ll get up with you ASAP.

Scouting Tonight’s Starters

Carlos Zambrano – picked up his first win since June 5 in his last start, July 12 against the Cardinals. Big Z gave up three runs on five hits and two walks over six innings while striking out seven. He also hit his third homer of the year, and 19th of his career. Zambrano is 1-1 with a 1.86 ERA in three July starts.

Craig Stammen – Scott Olsen was scratched from this start, so Stammen will get the nod instead. Stammen seems to finally be “getting it” as a Major League pitcher. Following a hard-luck loss in which he allowed just one run in seven innings at Coors Field, the rookie right-hander pitched a complete game at Houston for his second victory of the season. Stammen scattered nine hits and walked one while allowing two runs to the Astros in a 13-2 blowout. Stammen has gone deep into games recently because of his ability to throw his sinker for strikes early in the count. (MLB.com)

Is pretty good at minimizing the damage when he gets into trouble on the mound. Can either start or relieve. Serves up too many fat pitches to hit, which leads to problems for his team. Relies too much on his defense. Back-of-the-rotation starter or reliever. (TSN.ca) (more…)

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How about that, a timely win

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Today’s “earthshaking” announcement was referred to in Joe’s previous post – the Cubs have signed BJ Ryan. Another small move by Hendry, from what I can see he doesn’t have any more big bullets left in his holster. Also reported this week was the possibility that the Cubs could enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy – this move would protect the Cubs against future lawsuits against the unprofitable and somewhat clueless Tribune organization. This probably needs to get done but the ramifications regarding players salaries might be consequential. Wonder if the Cubs will want to restructure some of these arrangements; if so it will be interesting to see the effect that this would have on the rest of the league.

That having been said the Cubs won an important game that they needed to win; now they need to win at least two more against the struggling Washingtonians. This team is called the Nationals but the “(G)Nats” is a more appropriate nickname. This team is like a ship foundering at sea, it’s subject to the eddies and flows of the tides. A decisive series against these guys is imperative because we might not be so lucky in Philadelphia.

I liked the hit and run that Piniella called with Fuld late it the game; it was perfectly executed and Soriano’s terrible baserunning gaffe earlier in the game compels me to conclude that Fuld and Fox should get the starts until Soriano proves he’s worthy of getting his job back. Johnny Cochran became famous in the OJ trial for his saying: “If the gloves don’t fit you must acquit.” My saying about Soriano is just as simple: “If he doesn’t hit he has to sit.” Fuld stayed in to replace Soriano in left, perhaps Piniella is getting the message too. Marmol didn’t look as shaky as he has recently, the Cubs made the right move getting him into and out of the game. Marshall on the other hand looks dejected in his relief role, perhaps Ryan can take the role that Marshall has and Sean can move to swingman/long relief, a role that he excelled at in the past.

Let’s see how the Cubs do against the Nats in the remaining three games, to paraphrase Anthony Bourdain we need to “tear these guys up like a meat piñata at a pit bull party!”

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Breaking News: Cubs Sign BJ Ryan

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Gordon Wittenmeyer tweeted about 5 minutes ago that the Cubs got BJ Ryan on a minor league deal. (Source)

Wonderful news.

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A Sweep is Needed

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

I’m going to the Sunday game, so at the very least, I wanna see a win that day. This is a really sweepable series. It’s almost a must sweep series and definitely a must win series. The Nats are not a good team and good teams pounce on that. Let’s start being a good team beginning today. It’s a new season for Soriano and Bradley. 2nd half stats start now and I’m willing to let the 1st half stay in the past. Let’s forgive and start over, right now.

Scouting Today’s Starting Pitching

Rich Harden – was not sharp in his last start before the break. Against the Cardinals, he gave up four runs on seven hits and four walks over five innings. Among the hits were Albert Pujols’ 32nd home run. The problem was both command and location, and that’s not going to get it done. Harden was pitching on extra rest, too. Maybe being on the road will be better. He has not won at Wrigley Field since May 12, a span of five starts, and has an 8.63 ERA in that stretch.

John Lannan – In his final outing before the break, against the Astros, Lannan had one of his worst starts of the season. He gave up five runs on 11 hits over five-plus innings. He was staked to a 4-2 lead, but things started to unravel in the sixth. After Ivan Rodriguez led off with a double, Geoff Blum singled off the glove of shortstop Cristian Guzman to put runners on first and third. Jeff Keppinger followed and tripled to right-center field to drive in Rodriguez and Blum and tie the score at 4. (MLB.com)

Has a quality left-handed arm that relies heavily on pinpoint control. Pitches with a lot of savvy and displays a sound arm capable of logging major innnings. Needs to show the ability to miss bats a little more often at the highest level. If his control is off, he’s not able to overcome it with sheer stuff. Should become a quality mid-rotation starter. (TSN.ca)

John Lannan Pitch Usage

Top Prospect Tracker – July 15

Minor League Photo of the Night

James Adduci is hitting .319 with two homers and 37 RBIs in 84 games this season. (Jerry Hale/MiLB.com)

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MLB Network Program Alert

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

MLB Network sent me this release for a show tonight that I’ll tune into:

July 15, 2009 – MLB Network will televise 30 Clubs / 30 Report Cards, a midseason report, today, Wednesday, July 15 at 8:00 p.m. ET. Following predictions made during Spring Training on MLB Network’s 30 Clubs / 30 Days, analysts John Hart, Dan Plesac, Victor Rojas and Mitch Williams will host a two-hour conversation as they review report cards for each of the 30 Major League Baseball clubs.

The show will include analysis on the second half of the season and potential American League and National League MVPs, Cy Young Award winners and Rookies of the Year. Hart, former general manager of the Texas Rangers, will also discuss farm reports, giving updates on Minor League players to watch.

30 Clubs/30 Report Cards will re-air until 12:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 16. Attached is a 30-second on-air promo of the show.

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Top Prospect Tracker – 7/13

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Here is a breakdown of the Baseball America top prospects for the organization for 7/13, which was a day that primarily featured off-days.

(more…)

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