Archive for April, 2010

Game 22: A Series of Disappointment

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

First Star: Matt Capps (.205 WPA)
Second Star: Luis Atilano (.177 WPA)
Third Star: Tyler Clippard (.144 WPA)

I said at the beginning of the series that we need to not take the Nationals for granted. It’s a team that can be you if you allow them to. This series, today especially, the Cubs allowed the Nationals to beat them.

  • The Cubs left 11 men on base, including one very careless one in the first inning. After Ryan Theriot reached base to start the inning on a single, Fukudome drew a walk to put runners on first and second with no one out. Things looked primed for a big inning to start the home half of the inning. Derrek Lee hits a long fly ball to RF in which the throw went late to third. Theriot, being the greatest ballplayer in the entire world, took third on the play. Unfortunately Fukudome didn’t get the memo that you’re allowed to tag on a fly ball. He failed to take second and instead of second and third with one out, the Cubs had first and third with one out. Aramis Ramirez hits a long fly to LF, which advances Theriot home and leaves two outs with Fukudome on first. Tyler Colvin, on a pop up that should have been caught by Adam Kennedy close to home plate, reaches first base. Fukudome simply jogged to second, taking advantage of the fact that Kennedy would make the catch. Had he run hard from the moment of contact given the fact that there were two outs, he could have reached third easily. That doesn’t seem like a big deal except when you factor in the other baserunning gafff. Had he been on the ball, the Cubs get another run in the 1st and potentially win this game. Bob Carpenter, the Nats play by play man, said “He’s done a bad job of baserunning this inning.”
  • For the most part, Ryan Dempster has looked really good this year. Today, a costly mistake probably cost him the game. In the 2nd inning, with two outs and a man on second, Dempster was facing the # 8 hitter in the lineup in Will Nieves. On a 3-2 pitch, with the pitcher on deck, Dempster gives Neives something to hit and got burned for an RBI single to give the Nats a 2-1 lead at the time. Atilano would end the inning on a ground ball to Fontenot, but the damage was done. I understand the concept of trying to be aggressive with the 8th hitter in the lineup to keep the pitcher in the on deck circle to lead off the inning, but when your team is struggling to score you have to take away any opportunity your opponent has to put up a run. That was an opportunity for the Nats and the Cubs would have been better served to pitch around Nieves on that pitch.
  • Adam Dunn hit a home run today and the moment he hit it all I thought about was all the talkers that come out from under the rocks every now and then to praise Dunn and rip Jim Hendry for not trying to bring him to Chicago to play for us. I’d say this: Dunn is a great home run hitter. He always seems to beat us with the long ball. That’s about all he does, though. Look at his numbers. It’s HR or BB for Dunn. Factor in his atrocious defense that makes even Soriano blush, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Cub fans in the bleachers would tear Dunn up every time he makes a bonehead play in the OF, which is the only place you could play him due to the personnel we have in house.
  • Marlon Byrd made a crazy grab on a fly ball that was lost in the sun off the bat of the pitcher in the 5th. Carpenter and Rob Dibble were raving about how it was the play of the year. I’m sorry, but the play of the year does not happen on a ball you essentially lose in the sun. That said, plays like that are reasons why Wrigley Field needs a jumbotron. I’ve not been to Wrigley in a long long time, but I know how frustrated I would get when I couldn’t see a replay either on a close play or a great play. You shouldn’t have to record a game and re-watch it just to see a replay.
  • At what point do you need to consider moving Lee lower in the order. He’s hitting so bad lately and yet Lou continues to march him out there as the # 3 hitter in the lineup. I’ve decided that when your middle of the order hitters are struggling the way Ramirez did about a week or so ago and the way Lee is now, you need to move guys that are hitting the baseball into those slots. Soriano and Soto are both swinging the bat well. Fontenot has been hitting the ball hard. You don’t have to have a home run hitter in there to drive in runs. If you’ve got a runner on second, all it takes is a single.

Tough to lose this series coming off the great Brewers series that featured offensive explosion, but the Cubs brought this on themselves. Three of four would be perfect against the snakes next series.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Coffee Talk: Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

God’s Computer Control Panel

What amuses you about this image?

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Game 21: Cubs lose a close one, end 4 game win streak

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

First Star: Livan Hernandez (.324 WPA)
Second Star: Tyler Clippard (.170 WPA)
Third Star: Tom Gorezelanny (.159 WPA)

Tonight the pesky Nats stopped the Cubs’ winning streak with a masterful pitching performance by Cubs nemesis Livan Hernandez.  It seems the older this guy gets, the slower he pitches and the more difficult he becomes for Cubs hitters.  And he’s also having a lot of success against teams other than the Cubbies – he came into tonight’s game sporting a 0.75 ERA and left with minimal damage to that mark, having only given up 1 earned run in 8 innings.  Since I rarely take the opportunity to watch the Nats, I can safely say that this team is showing lots of improvement – Nyjer Morgan is a first-rate center fielder and he and new shortstop Ian Desmond put together enough firepower and raw speed to take a 2-0 first inning lead against Cubs’ starter Tom Gorzelanny.  Gorzellany exited after yet another quality start – he didn’t have his best stuff but he gave up just two earned runs in seven innings pitched.

Then our stubborn and unyielding manager brought in his ace (John Grabow) to face the Nats in the 8th – Grabow responded by nearly throwing the ball over Derrek Lee’s head and Morgan reached on the throwing error.  He then stole a base and scored when Desmond rapped another  hit to the outfield.  Ironically Grabow’s ERA went down because the run was unearned; this one of the quirks in baseball scoring that hopefully will one day be addressed.  If a runner reaches on an error by the pitcher, why should that run be unearned?  I’m still dismayed by Piniella’s insistence on throwing Grabow to the wolves in key situations; it’s no different to me than when I saw Dusty do the same sort of thing with LaTroy Hawkins.  Hopefully our new owners are watching these games – Piniella’s management is not sufficient to merit an in-season firing but I think it’s time to let Lou retire with dignity after this season ends.

I haven’t been commenting much this season after games so I’d like to take this opportunity to say how thankful I am about the early season performances of Byrd, Fontenot, Soto, Soriano, Theriot and Fukudome.  We’ve been winning ballgames recently and these guys have absolutely been crucial to that success.  I’d also like to recognize how well our starters have pitched – barring a terrible Opening Day our front five have really done a great job.  Tomorrow the Cubs have a 1:20 start so let’s get this series back on track.  In other related news Nats prospect Stephen Strasburg threw 5 no hit innings for AA Harrisburg.

This perspective came from guest author, Chet:

There is nothing quite like watching a baseball game in 38 degree weather on a rooftop in Wrigleyville during the month of April. Night games are usually the toughest to manage as the temperature drops to ridiculous levels as the sun fades. It also doesn’t help when the home team provides little to no excitement. How does one run sound on seven scattered hits sound? Yes, the Cubs managed to end their four game win streak and they did it in unimpressive fashion by plating one run. Basically all the Nationals had to do was breathe in order to win this game. Add to this a nice pitching performance by the Livan (Livan Hernandez is 3-1 with a 0.87 ERA and is hinting at shades of his younger years) and you have a disaster.

Going into this evening Tom Gorzelanny had a 2.40 ERA over three games. At first glance you would think his season is off to a great start….not so fast. His current record is 0-2, yah zero wins and two losses! You may be asking how a guy flaunts a nice ERA and still hasn’t managed to scratch out a win. The answer is easy, the offense goes to sleep when he pitches. Hibernation would be a better word… the tune of one run over 3 starts. One run of support in 3 games is an atrocity and Tom has every right to wonder what he has done to deserve this. Not since Milton Bradley has a guy faced such……wow, sorry….not sure what I was thinking….moving along.

With the team on a 4 game win streak and coming off an extra innings win the previous night, Tom Gorzelanny had every reason to feel good about sealing up his first win of the season. The Cubs stood at .500 going into the evening and were chomping at the bit to get above and beyond. However, when the wind blows in out of the north it is equivalent to kryptonite with this team. Take away the long ball and you have an offense that is slower then erosion. They were able to give Tom one more run tonight to double his support total over 4 games. Meanwhile, Gorzelanny gave up two quick runs in the first but stymied the Nationals for the next 6 innings. Yet, another stellar performance from a guy at the back of the rotation. When the eighth inning rolled around John Grabow gave up his token run making a two run deficit look like a mountain. By the way, Grabow is slowly becoming that guy out of the pen. I get the same gut wrenching feeling I used to get when Alfonseca, LaTroy Hawkins, or Felix Heredia took the bump…..eight runs was never enough for these guys….ever!

As the final three outs flashed by and my finger tips started to numb I silently welcomed myself back to another year of Cubdom. A lack of clutch hitting or the inability to manufacture runs seems to be a broken record as of late and until this team can find a way to right the ship there will be a lot of cold and slow nights on the north side.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

In the News: One trophy to rule them all

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Hello, Cubs fans. I’m afraid I don’t have a ton to offer today. I’ve been on the DL the last couple days battling an illness, so I’ve fallen a little out of touch with some of the minutiae surrounding our favorite baseball team. I, of course, am ecstatic to see the team put together this nice, little four-game win streak, which, let’s hope goes to five games and a series win tonight (Tuesday).

Editorial. So have I changed my critical opinion of moving Z to the pen? Mmmm, yes and no. It definitely has paid dividends so far. I found it amusing that, though Carlos did surrender a run in his first relief appearance against the Brewers on April 24, he also essentially negated that run by hitting a sac fly. If that’s not Big Z in a nutshell, I don’t know what is. And he was key in last night’s (Monday’s) victory over those pesky Nats.

So, though I still find the move a little hard to swallow in terms of pure baseball logic, I think, as long as either Gorzelanny or Silva can reasonably replicate Big Z’s production in the rotation, the move is understandable and, yes, even beneficial in the short-term. Carlos Silva deserves huge props for putting together an April that far, far exceeded just about anyone’s expectations (certainly mine). He’s been truly remarkable.

And now, on with the news*:

♪ ♫ You’d just like a…Crosstown Trophy…so hard to get through to you!  ♪♫ Ahem – sorry, just channeling my inner Jimi Hendrix there. One big story in recent days is the announcement that Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf have agreed to add a little extra motivation to the always competitive crosstown, interleague series. The winner will receive the “BP Crosstown Cup,” which is sure to displayed with much local pride, uh, somewhere in late June. The Cubs and Sox will play June 11 through 13 at Wrigley Field and June 25 through 27 at the Cell. ♪♫ Ninety miles an hour, girl, is the…speed I drive. ♪♫

Big Z sees his bullpen role as temporary.  He was mum at first, but Carlos told reporters that he and Lou did agree that his role as a set-up man was a short-term proposition presumably until Jim Hendry could find another suitable arm. I’m somewhat surprised to see no indications that the Cubs have even looked into giving Juan Cruz a shot after he was released by the Royals last week. In any case, this reminds me of the old saying, “Don’t do anything too well or they’ll make you do it for the rest of your life.” Be forewarned, Carlos, be forewarned.

Speaking of Carlos Silva, should we trade him?  That’s what New York Post writer Joel Sherman suggests in this article from over the weekend. He sees the Dodgers, who recently put the Silva-esque Vicente Padilla on the DL, as suitable trade partners. Sherman posits lefty reliever George Sherrill and utility infielder Jamey Carroll as reasonable returns for Silva’s contract. I don’t really think there’s much chance of such a deal happening. For starters, Sherrill is a lefty reliever, and the Cubs have plenty of those. Second, the Cubs don’t have any room for a utility infielder at the moment – which is a shame, because it’s still a little unnerving to think that Mike Fontenot is backing up Ryan Theriot at the shortstop position. But it’s an interesting question to consider, at least theoretically: Should the Cubs “sell high” on a pitcher with as dubious a history as Carlos Silva’s?

The state of Nady.  One Cubs player who’s never really been able to get on track in this opening month is Xavier Nady. Granted, he’s had only 34 plate appearances as of this writing. But, aside from that one rip-roaring home run against Milwaukee’s hated Doug Davis on April 12, he just hasn’t scalded left-handed pitching the way the team was hoping. So Lou has decided to make the perhaps unexpected move of giving X some at-bats against right-handed pitching to try and get him to “stay on the ball” a little longer. I hope it works, as I’m still happy to have X’s bat on the roster and I really want to see this guy succeed. Then again, I really want to see Tyler Colvin succeed, too, and there are only so many ways to fit those two into the outfield and…ah, nevermind.

MLB adds another tech option to your busy day.  Are you an subscriber who also has a PlayStation 3? If so, you can now view out-of-market games on the big screen via your PS3. Pretty cool idea. I don’t have one myself; I do have a Wii, however, so I’m kind of wondering whether MLB would add this option for us Wii users.

UPDATE: Here’s a story that fell through the cracks.  A Cubs fan almost sacrificed his life to catch a foul ball in Miller Park this past weekend. The fact that this article is aimed at personal injury attorneys gives rise to a new form of lawyer – the Ballhawk Chaser.


*Reddish text = hyperlinks.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Minor Details: Cubs Get Adrian Gonzalez

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
  • Project Prospect mentioned Starlin Castro in their latest “10 Up, 10 Down” article:
    “Castro is fresh off a 10-game hitting streak, with multi-hit games in nine of them — he went hitless in a double-header on Sunday. While he could stand to be more patient, his Double-A line to date is very impressive.”
  • Baseball America did something fun in their “Ask BA” section. When asked to do first round draft with all the players picked from 2000 to 2009 based on their Major League production so far, they came up with an impressive list. The Cubs pick in this imaginary draft? Adrian Gonzalez.
  • I forgot to answer my own question as to if the Cubs would use Samardzija out of the rotation or the pen down in AAA. His recent outing for the Iowa Cubs answered that question. He’s being used out of the pen, which is the best possible move they could make for his development.
  • Brad Snyder won PCL player of the week honors and had this to say:
    “Cubs farmhand Brad Snyder hasn’t played in the Majors despite an expanded-roster callup with the Indians in 2006 and seven seasons of Minor League experience under his belt. His performance over the last week, though, shows what he’s capable of, and if he hits consistently late into the summer, he may be hard to keep in Triple-A. Although he started the season cold, he’s shaken off that 1-for-18 funk, hitting safely at least once in every game since his slump-busting 2-for-4 day on April 15. On Wednesday, he homered twice and missed the cycle by a triple, driving in four runs. He drove in two more, doubled, stole a base and scored during a 3-for-4 outing the next day.”

Top Players from Monday

  • Tony Thomas was 3-for-4 with 3 RBI for the Smokies. He’s not getting the full time starts due to a split with Ryan Flaherty and has now begun to play a little OF
  • Ryan Flaherty was 3-for-5 with 3 RBI for the Smokies. He’s a favorite of mine and probably of Marks due to the fact that he’s a Vanderbilt product. I’ve been very dissappointed in his play early on. I had a lot of hope for him to be a guy that could see big league time this year on the infield. He’s gotta step his game up to make that happen.

Just the Smokies last night, which is why the list is so short today.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us: