Archive for April, 2010

Ted Lilly Back…Down Goes Samardzija

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

From the Cubs Media Department:

The Chicago Cubs today activated left-handed pitcher Ted Lilly from the 15-day disabled list and optioned right-handed pitcher Jeff Samardzija to Triple-A Iowa.

Lilly will make his first start of the 2010 season tonight in Milwaukee.  He was placed on the disabled list on April 4 (retroactive to March 26) to continue his recovery from a left-shoulder arthroscopic debridement procedure performed November 3 by Dr. Lewis Yocum.

A 2009 All-Star, Lilly returns to the Cubs rotation after going 12-9 with a 3.10 ERA (61 ER/177.0 IP) in 27 starts a season ago.  Since joining the Cubs prior to the 2007 campaign, Lilly leads the club with 44 wins, a .629 winning percentage and 509 strikeouts in that span.  Overall, he is 44-26 with a 3.70 ERA (242 ER/588.2 IP) in 95 starts with the Cubs.

Lilly made two minor league appearances as part of his rehab process, combining to go 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA (2 ER/11.0 IP) with 13 strikeouts and two walks.  His most recent appearance took place Monday with Single-A Peoria, when he limited Burlington to one run on three hits and one walk in 7.0 innings, fanning nine.  Lilly threw 88 pitches in that final tune-up.

Samardzija is 0-1 with an 18.90 ERA (7 ER/3.1 IP) in four relief appearances with the Cubs this season.

I’m curious to see what role Samardzija will be used in down in Iowa. If you want him to be a member of the bullpen in the Majors, give him a chance to learn that role in the minors.

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Game 17: Well That Was Fun!

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Nothing better than watching a solid Cubs win where things seemed to go their way from batter one. I could be wrong because I’m not famous for my stat tracking, but I think Theriot’s leadoff double was the first time this year the Cubs’ leadoff batter got a hit.

As I said, things seemed to go their way from the outset. Back to back doubles to start things off, then later in the same inning a running gaffe by Lee ended up giving us a run. Things like that don’t usually happen to the Cubs. Mistakes are usually tragic and seem to multiply exponentially. Not so tonight, though there were indeed mistakes made. But nothing changed the momentum of the game and the Cubs really needed this.

First Star: Kosuke Fukudome (.256 WPA)
Second Star: Ryan Dempster (.236)
Third Star: Ryan Theriot (.099)

Here are a few tidbits:

  • Ramirez had the night off. Per Carrie Muskat he is working with Jaramillo on his timing.
  • Nothing made me happier than Ryan Braun costing himself a run when he trotted around second admiring what looked like a Prince Fielder home run which ended up (with replay confirmation) being in play. Braun could have easily scored. Which would have been doubly annoying since he was on base in the first place due to Fontenot botching a simple double play. Too much admiration, not enough action there Ryan. (Disclaimer: Ryan Braun is my least favorite MLB player by a mile.)
  • Fundamental mistakes, mental or physical, annoy me. Listen up Theriot and Fontenot. Even Bob Brenly commented on your “sloppy middle infield play during this road trip.” Note to Mr. Brenly: You’re being kind. It’s not just been this road trip.
  • Speaking of Fontenot: Honey, if your mates are telling you that squared-off cheek hair looks hot, they’re yanking you. None of your friends are sporting that look and if they are you need to find some new friends. Thank me later.
  • Happy Birthday Carlos Silva!
  • Ryan Dempster is this season’s best bunter.
  • Chad Tracy held his own tonight after one rough play to start the game. (And he also looks a lot like Ryan Dempster.) I’m very happy with him as a backup for our rough-starting Rami.
  • Marlon Byrd is the man!!!!!!!
  • Nifty play by Byrd flipping to Colvin to throw back a base hit by Gregg Zaun, since Byrd’s momentum was carrying him in the wrong direction. Might be able to see it somewhere again if you missed it the first time around.
  • Tyler Colvin hit one a country mile in the top of the ninth for two insurance runs. I heart Tyler.

From the Daytona Cubs Media Department:

Cubs Announce 4th Annual Beer Fest
Sample from Over 100 Different Types of Beer

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – The Daytona Cubs Beer Fest will take place on May 1st from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event will take place on the Riverwalk at Jackie Robinson Ballpark featuring over 100 different types of beer to sample from and live music from the Jimmy Buffett cover band, Captain Josh.

The 4th Annual Daytona Cubs Beer Fest is presented by Hooters. The lovely ladies from Hooters will be walking throughout the festival passing out goodies and prizes.

Tickets for the event are $20. That includes your price of admission, over 50 beer samples and bottled water. The Cubs will also offer free bottled water.

To purchase tickets or for more information please contact the Cubs at 386-257-3172 or go online to www.daytonacubs.com.

Enjoy your weekend and the remainder of the series! Sure did get off to a good start!

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GirlieView (04/23/2010)

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

First things first, Happy Anniversary to my wonderful parents, 44 years today and still going strong! xxoo

Other than that, I really don’t have anything titillating to talk about this week … things are kind of glum. Even the Lizzies are notably depressed, not in quantity but in tone, probably due to the fact that even I’m finding it difficult to maintain optimism. Our Cubbies are 6-10, have won only one series out of five, and are in their “easy month.” There’s no way to talk that around to being the start any of us wanted to see. So, let’s pull up our panties and move on, today is a new day and maybe the Brewers are tired after their explosive game last night. Fingers crossed! Enjoy the week in review. I’ll be back later with the game recap.

Lizzies

  • For the second straight start, Carlos Silva showed us who’s the better fat Carlos on this staff.
  • Hasbro for Silva is looking good early on.
  • I bet this series sets the record for most fat guys named Carlos with 3.
  • Considering the size of Lou’s gut, his instincts have to be good.
  • How can Soriano look at himself in the mirror?
  • if Soriano produced like Adam Dunn year in and year out, I could live with his horrendous defense… the only problem is he doesn’t.
  • I enjoyed reading Sixty Feet, Six Inches, despite the fact that Reggie Jackson is annoyingly full of himself.
  • Quit whining and start winning.
  • N=258 is impressive!! I may have to clean up my language a little bit.
  • interesting barometer of fan disgust
  • at 13 games in, it’s already feelin’ like a Next Year
  • Such is the life of a Chicago sports fan.
  • glad I missed this one.
  • When Samardzjia came into the game, I knew I could leave for the gym and not miss anything good.
  • We need some fire.
  • in a 100%-anti-Milton move, [Byrd] wearing a pitch on the head and running to first…I’m impressed.
  • That’s what she said.
  • Never caught, always the miscreant.
  • That was the end of my criminal career and the clean underwear I had on that day.
  • rehabbing from an alleged and awfully convenient right forearm strain.
  • Warn your neighbors: Ted’s back.
  • Rothschild is niether witch nor scientist.
  • What will it be like when they start facing stiff competition?
  • I missed the first two innings of the game and rather wished that I’d missed the last seven.
  • I actually thought we were going to do well against the Mets because… well, because they are the Mets.
  • maybe leave the office door ajar while loudly asking how Vitters is hitting in the minors
  • The real paradox is how offensive is the Cubs offense?
  • If I predict the Cubs will go hitless and they do, does that count towards the streak?
  • If Zambrano flourishes in the pen though, Hendry and Lou will be called prophets!
  • If [he] doesn’t, we’ll be reading about ”Carlos Zambrano, set-up guy” along with the P.K. Wrigley’s sports psychologist and Crane Kenney’s sprinkle-happy postseason priest in forthcoming historical volumes on our beloved Chicago Cubs.
  • Silva has a better shot at winning 10 than the other Carlos at this point.
  • I called for a change and apparently Lou listened.
  • As long as no one fills him in on the fact that his name is Silva, maybe we’ll see this kind of pitching all year long.
  • I’m not watching to see what they look like.
  • What the hell, I’ll drink the Kool-aid.
  • is it bad that i want to get swept so this team could be totally dismantled?
  • I find it hard to say Lou has no cojones, he just put Z in the bullpen

Lizard

  • Same stuff, different day.

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Cubs / Brewers Series Preview

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

MLB.com Scouting Reports

Ryan Dempster v. Jeff Suppan

Dempster should be 3-0. In his two starts in which he did not get a decision, he has given up two earned runs over 13 2/3 innings. In his lone win, which was against Milwaukee, he wasn’t as sharp, serving up five runs over 6 1/3 innings. The good news about his last outing against the Astros on Sunday was he bounced back fine after throwing 114 pitches vs. the Brewers on April 12. Ryan Braun homered off Dempster in the last meeting at Wrigley Field and is 6-for-26 lifetime off the right-hander.

The Brewers bumped Suppan’s start a few days in order to split their two left-handers in the rotation, and the result is that the veteran right-hander will make his second start of the season after seven days’ rest. Suppan started the year on the disabled list with a neck injury and was only so-so against the Cubs on a wind-blown afternoon at Wrigley Field on April 15, allowing four runs on six hits in five innings. Suppan surrendered home runs to Derrek Lee and Marlon Byrd that probably would have cleared the fence even without a stiff breeze blowing straight out, and he’ll have to keep the Cubs in the ballpark to have success in the rematch. Suppan was 3-8 with a 6.39 ERA at Miller Park last year.

Ted Lilly v. Doug Davis

Lilly returns to the Cubs rotation after passing all the tests in his rehab. He’s coming back from arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder. He made his last Minor League start Monday in Peoria. In that game, Lilly threw threw 88 pitches over seven innings and picked up the win. He struck out nine and gave up one run on three hits and one walk. Of his total pitches, 63 were strikes. The lefty also singled and was thrown out trying to steal. The shoulder actually has been the least of his problems as he was slowed this spring by the flu and then early in April by back problems.

The Brewers aren’t about to bail on Davis after three starts, but it’s time for the left-hander to start pitching to his track record. Davis has been steady as she goes since resurrecting his career in Milwaukee in 2003, but his first three starts of the reunion tour have been forgettable. He has yet to pitch past the fifth inning and couldn’t hold a 10-0, first-inning lead in Washington on Sunday. Davis was lifted with two outs in the fifth inning and the Brewers had to hold off a Nationals charge for an 11-7 win. Davis will continue to get the ball “for right now,” manager Ken Macha said on Tuesday, hardly a ringing endorsement.

Randy Wells v. Dave Bush

This would’ve been Carlos Zambrano’s turn in the rotation but he’s now in the bullpen. Wells stays on schedule. In his last start Monday against the Mets, Wells gave up one run on six hits over six innings but did not get the win as the bullpen imploded. He faced the Brewers on April 14 at Wrigley Field and struck out the side to start the game, then got into trouble in the fifth. He finished giving up 10 hits, four runs, and striking out seven over 6 1/3 innings.

Bush delivered seven shutout innings against the Pirates on Tuesday just when the team needed a quality outing. He allowed only three hits — two of them to Andrew McCutchen and the other an infield single to pinch-hitter John Raynor, who was promptly erased on a double play. Bush notched his first win of the season but could easily be 3-0; he exited with the lead on April 9 against the Cardinals and April 14 against the Cubs, only to see the game slip away each time by a reliever.


Golden Brewer Nuggets

Notes for the series are again provided from our friends at Brew Crew Ball:

This may not be the best time to be facing the Brewers’ bats or, in the case of Ted Lilly, making your 2010 debut against them. The Brewers are coming off a series where they scored 36 runs in three games against the Pirates, and scored 11 in the final game of their series with the Nationals as well. Even Prince Fielder, who had been held homerless through 14 games, picked up his first of the season Thursday.

For the second consecutive meeting, though, the Cubs are going to see the worst starting pitching the Brewers have to offer. Dave Bush has been very good in 2010, but Doug Davis has been absolutely awful (11.25 ERA, 2.5 WHIP in his first 3 starts), and Jeff Suppan is the textbook definition of “atrocious.” If the Cubs can hold the Brewers somewhere in the low teens in runs scored in Davis and Suppan’s starts, they might be able to stay in the game.

Finally, the Brewer bullpen is in a bit of a state of flux. Despite the Brewers winning four straight games, Trevor Hoffman has pitched just one time in the last week (the ninth of Thursday’s 20-0 blowout). LaTroy Hawkins has also only pitched twice (and blown another save) since blowing a game against the Cubs when these teams met the last time. Meanwhile, lefty Manny Parra, who has been a starter throughout his professional career, has pitched in relief in five of the team’s last six games.

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Game 16: A Wasted Opportunity

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Round 1 of the 10 round fight that is the 2010 baseball season is over with 16 games in the book. I can’t say it’s gone as I’d hoped, but keep in mind that this was one round. 90% of the season left. That said, tonight was a frustrating one.

Missed Opportunities – I didn’t expect much against Johan Santana, but when you have a chance to get to him you have to capitalize. The Cubs saw that opportunity multiplied by three in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings and let him off the hook each time. In the 2nd, Byrd led off the inning with a hustle double only to see Nady fail to hit the ball to the right side to get him to third. Instead, Nady grounds out to third base and Soriano hits a weak grounder to 1st. Geo had a shot to notch the two-out RBI but could only drive the ball to CF for a hapless fly ball.

In the 3rd inning we again see a leadoff double, this time courtesy of Fontenot’s bat. Gorzelanny tried to lay down a bunt to move him to third but had the ball sail up and in on him. He made contact, but more out of self defense than trying to be productive. The bunt wasn’t good enough and Fontenot was forced to stay put. Theriot did move him to third on a tag up play, but a fly ball to CF once again ended the inning and wasted an opportunity.

The 4th inning did not start with a double, but did see first and third with just one out and Soriano and Soto coming to the plate. Both have hit the ball well of late and both failed to get the job done. Byrd got caught in a pickle between 3rd and home and was tagged out at the plate on a play that could have possibly been ruled defensive interference due to the fact that Ike Davis was in his path as Santana was taking the ball and applying the tag. It wasn’t called and the inning ended one at bat later on guess what….a fly ball to CF.

Gorzelanny was dealing until the wheels fell off in the 6th. If you have the opportunity to get him a lead against one of the best pitchers in the game you have to take advantage. I don’t fault Gorzelanny for this loss. Wasted chances have to be the main bearer of the blame.

Rudy’s Help – I’ve noticed some real good things from a few of the players who played so poorly last year and I can only attribute that to working with the god of hitting. I guess I hadn’t really taken noticed of Geo’s OBP coming into the game, but I had noticed that he’d been taking a few walks of late. About midway into the game I happened to notice that it was in the .500′s and thought it must be a misprint on the screen. A quick check on Baseball Reference showed me that 12 walks and a .333 batting average has Geo reaching base more than half the time he steps in there. I don’t know if Geo has a new approach to hitting or if he’s purposely trying to take more pitches, but he’s done things right and really has gone unnoticed.

The other hitter that has shown good improvement at the plate seems to be Fontenot. Those are two names that, if they can get big production from, can be a huge help to the offense near the bottom of the order. Jeff Baker got a start tonight to give Ramirez a night off, but Fontenot needs to continue to get the majority of starts at 2B while he’s hitting so well.

Conslusion – I didn’t expect to lose this series. At the very least I expected a split. Now we face Milwaukee and it’s obvious they can score. Pittsburgh figured that out today after a 20-0 beat down. Gotta win game one. That’s the key. Lizzie will be recapping the action tomorrow night as I’m off to do some more Smokie scouting.

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Beat the Streak (+ Rule Change)

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Thought it might be prudent to review the specifications of our Beat the Streak game, for our newer readers and for our regulars too.

For each Cubs game, pick a player you think will get a hit. It doesn’t have to be a Cub, you can pick from the team they’re playing against if you’d like (sacrilegious, but we won’t call you out!).

Make your pick in the box to the right, which appears on every VFTB page. Use a consistent email address if you want me to apply your pick correctly. We’ve got a handful of Marks and a couple of Brians and even another Liz so we really pay more attention to the email than to the name.

Your pick must be placed before game time each day. If you make a pick while the game is in progress it will be discarded. If you make a pick after the game, it will be counted toward the next game.

If you make two picks, only your most recent pick will be counted. (This gives you the opportunity to change your mind.)

If your chosen player gets a hit, you get a point.

If your chosen player does not get a hit, you return to zero and start over.

If your chosen player does not play at all in the game, your point total stays unchanged.

If you do not make a pick for a game, your point total stays unchanged.

RULE CHANGE: If you don’t make a pick for three consecutive games, your return to zero and start over. Three strikes and you’re out. This is a new rule, and will go into effect tomorrow. So, if you have points today, and you don’t pick tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday you’ll be back at zero on Monday. (Doesn’t matter if you’ve missed some games recently, the count of three will start with tomorrow’s game since we’re just introducing the rule today.) Allowing unlimited skipping was acting as a disincentive, and we want you to play!

Standings will be posted once per week, in the Sunday game recap. This is also a change.

If you have any questions please post them below. Betcha didn’t think it was possible to write so much about a simple fun game did you? :-)

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In the News: An editorial + 7 stories that don’t begin with Z

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

What’s up, Cubs fans? Ha, it’s too bad there’s nothing going on with the team right now. Nope. No one is talking about the Cubs on the Interwebs or the radio today. Nothing to see here. Moving along, folks.

Editorial: Aw, who am I fooling? The Cubsosphere is thick with the volcanic ash spewing forth from yesterday’s announcement that Carlos Zambrano would go to the bullpen. And as well it should be. In my opinion, this is a strange and desperate act by a team with a long, long, long history of strange and desperate acts. Like many others, I don’t like the decision. In fact, I’ve been taking the move awfully personally - so much so that it actually dampened my enjoyment of yesterday’s 9-3 smackdown of the New York Mets.

I mean, just when I thought the Cubs were truly establishing themselves as a 21st Century team, they do something so completely illogical and contradictory to common baseball intelligence that I wonder whether we’re back in the 1960s greeting the arrival of the College of Coaches. Simply put, you don’t take a guy capable of throwing 180-200 innings with decent to good results and sit him in the bullpen. It’s just a terrible waste of resources. And, believe me, every other team that was likely to face Big Z as a starter is celebrating the fact that they now won’t have to.

What’s more, to make this move in April is not only a demotion for Carlos (who really hasn’t pitched badly at all aside from the Opening Day debacle), but also a strike against the confidence of any of the guys in the pen who were desperately trying to establish themselves. I know Justin Berg and Jeff Gray aren’t likely to set the world afire anytime soon, but these guys are ground ball pitchers who, if allowed to throw their game, could very well end up doing what Z is supposed to do without hurting the Cubs (so-far-excellent) rotation.

Having said all that, I realize that this may well be a temporary thing. Who knows, maybe Carlos goes down there, adds some stability to the whole confusing mess and helps the Cubs claim a few of these quite winnable series coming up. And maybe he does all that until Carlos Silva turns back into a pumpkin, opening the door to Z’s reentry into the rotation.

But, as mentioned up front, this is an odd, disturbing, risky move that does not reflect well on an organization that’s presumably trying to exude some confidence and establish itself as a force to be reckoned with in the here and now. If it works, Lou will look like a genius. If it doesn’t, we’ll be reading about ”Carlos Zambrano, set-up guy” along with the P.K. Wrigley’s sports psychologist and Crane Kenney’s sprinkle-happy postseason priest in forthcoming historical volumes on our beloved Chicago Cubs.

And now, on the with the news. Here are seven stories* that don’t begin with Z:

1. Did Braden Looper force Lou’s hand?  We learned yesterday that former Brewers starter Braden Looper, who was flat-out awful last season (-0.9 WAR), threw for Cubs scouts. Although the Loop claims to be game ready, the Cubs apparently weren’t impressed by what they say. Carrie Muskat tweeted ”…don’t expect a signing.” My question is: Was the scouting report on Looper so bad that it pushed Lou over the edge into making the Z decision?

2. Kevin Millar lands on his feet – and in a TV studio.  You can’t keep a good idiot down, as the (off-the-field) star of the Cubs 2010 spring training has accepted a job with MLB Network. I guess Mitch Williams can’t be expected to provide all of the comic relief.

3. X gets a ring.  Ever fantasize about a Cubs player getting a World Series ring? Well, that happened yesterday (Wednesday) as Yankees GM Brian Cashman travelled to Citi Field just to give Xavier Nady his 2009 World Series ring. Sure, X played in only seven games for the Yanks before going down with that much-discussed elbow surgery. But, hey, congrats to him.

4. BREAKING: Football will return to Wrigley this fall.  This story just hit the news. The Northwestern Wildcats and Fighting Illini will play a football game at Wrigley Field on Nov. 20. A press conference will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow (Friday) with all the details.

5. How many stars would you give Wrigley Field?  Two, three-and-a-half, four? Stadium Journey is a Web site that reviews sports venues of all shapes and sizes. Check out their fun-to-read look at the Friendly Confines.

6. Get in on the ground floor of a new social media site.  Could you identify a Cubs fan or Sox fan on sight? Y’know, assuming they weren’t wearing any identifying garb? That’s the premise of Eight Bit Studios forthcoming foray into social media. Click on that link to be one of the first fans to submit a photo and we’ll see just how Cubbish (or, gasp, Soxxish) you just might appear.

7. Ha ha – you shall not escape me so easily! You thought you’d gotten through an “In the News” post without nary a mention of a sign. But I’ve gotten you again! The owners of Wrigleyville’s rooftops have posted a silly YouTube video protesting the impending Toyota sign. You can read all about it – and watch the video – at the link posted.

####

*Reddish text = hyperlinks.

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Minor Details: 4/21

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Memphis 6, Iowa 5

Casey Coleman got the start, his third of the season, and got hit pretty hard for six earned runs over 5.2 IP. Through the first three starts, he’s improved on his k/bb ratio from last year and has it at 4.5 K’s/bb. I’ve got hopes for Coleman to make it to the Majors soon after winning 14 games last year for Tennessee. He’ll need to show mastery in AAA, though first.

Two familiar names pitched out of the bullpen and both pitched a scoreless fram. Both Jeff Stevens and John Gaub got into the game in relief and neither allowed a hit. Gaub had a tough first outing out of the blocks when he gave up two ER, but since then he’s thrown 3.1 scoreless innings, only allowing one base runner in those appearances. It’s early, but there is still potential there.

At the plate, Brad Snyder was probably the player of the night in the organization with a 4-for-5 night that included two HR’s, a double, and three RBI. At 27 years old, Snyder isn’t really much of a prospect at this point. He fits into the Micah Hoffpauir, AAAA type player, mold. Matt Swain of Wrigley Bound described it like this:

He’s chock full of power and can hit for moderate average, but won’t take many walks, leading to questionable on-base skills. I’m always surprised a 1st round pick with the success he’s had at the minor league level never got a shot to catch on somewhere.

Tennessee Smokies – Rained out (will play DH tonight)

MiLB.com had a note on Andrew Cashner that was written before he last start on Monday:

Tennessee right-hander Andrew Cashner had electric stuff in his first two starts, striking out the first seven batters he faced on Opening Night and carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his second outing. Cashner, 23, leads the SL with 20 strikeouts and had allowed only two walks and five hits in 10 1/3 innings.

Daytona 1, Tampa 4

Chris Archer, a pitcher I’m particularly fond of because he went to school about five minutes from my house, didn’t have a great outing for the Cubs. He went just four innings, giving up two home runs. I think I’m higher on Acher than most after a real nice stay in Peoria where he sported a 2.81 ERA. Tonight was not his night.

Not much to report at the plate. Brett Jackson got on base twice via the walk and Kyler Burke (another favorite of mine) had a double and a walk.

In non-team related news, Joe Rowe attended his 1,000th straight home game for the Daytona Cubs.

Peoria 4, Kane County 2

Matt Cerda delivered the game-winning hit for the second straight game with a two-run single in the seventh. He finished 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI.

Closer Jordan Latham came out of the bullpen for the eighth inning and allowed a leadoff single before racking up three strikeouts. In the top of the ninth Latham got the first two outs before issuing a walk and hitting a batter. With the tying run on first base, Latham struck out Myrio Richard to end the game.

Misc. Notes

Baseball America has a regular Q/A session with the readers. In this last edition, there was a question about Samardzija .

Q. As a Cubs fan, it’s sometimes painful to watch Jeff Samardzija pitch for the big club. There seems to be a common feeling that his development path hasn’t been a good one, and that the Cubs have rushed him because of the contract he signed. What is the track record of players who sign major league deals out of the draft? Is it really worth it to the player/agent to sign a big league deal and effectively start a clock ticking on his development timeline?

Tasha Kauffman
Lancaster, Pa.

A. The $10 million major league contract that the Cubs gave Samardzija to entice him away from an NFL career as a wide receiver really isn’t the problem. Samardzija signed that deal in January 2007, and the Cubs could have optioned him to the minors through this season if they wanted to. When Chicago promoted Samardzija to the majors in July 2008, they did so because he was pitching well in Triple-A and they needed help for the stretch drive—not because his contract compelled a callup.

In the history of the draft, 43 players have received major league contracts. Thirty-six of those deals went to college players who were expected to reach the big leagues before they ran out of options, so the contracts weren’t a development issue. The first high schoolers to get a major league deal, Todd Van Poppel, was a victim of a rushed timetable, but Alex Rodriguez, Josh Beckett and Rick Porcello have survived just fine.

There are two main issues with Samardzija. The biggest is that he’s still more of an arm-strength guy than a true pitcher. Even when he was throwing in the mid-90s at Notre Dame, he didn’t miss a lot of bats. His fastball straightens out when he overthrows, and while his slider and splitter have their moments, neither is a consistent weapon. His command also isn’t as strong as it needs to be.

The other problem is that in the last three years, the Cubs have moved him from a starter in Triple-A to a reliever in the majors, and back and forth again . . . again . . . and again. That’s tough on any pitcher, especially one who’s as raw and relatively inexperienced as Samardzija. I don’t ever seeing him becoming a starter, so I’d commit to making him a full-time reliever going forward. Have him focus on two pitches and not worry about pacing himself would be the best way to get value out of Samardzija. ~ Jim Callis

Minor League Transactions

Placed on 7-day DL: RHP Jon Nagel, LHP Chris Rusin, OF Sam Fuld
Reinstated from DL: RHP David Patton, C Mark Johnson

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Game 15: Vintage Soriano

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

I called for a change and apparently Lou listened. Not only did the offense come out hitting and hitting well, but Lou came out today and announced that Carlos Zambrano is the ace no more. His butt has been relegated to bullpen duty. We’re told it’s to help a struggling pen, but I have to believe it’s because of Z’s struggles more than anything. I can’t wrap my arms around how I feel about the move, but Lou’s in charge.

Vintage Soriano - I look at the roster approval ratings and I look at the numbers and they don’t add up. Explain to me how Soriano has a lower approval rating than someone like Ramirez. Look at their offensive output so far that year and you can’t make that case. Sori, with his big night at the plate has his average up to .327 and narrowly missed hitting for the cycle. I’m sorry, but I don’t get the voters. There were a few nice notes I wrote down on Soriano’s game tonight.

  • In the 2nd inning, Sori went 1st to 3rd on a sharply hit single to LF by Soto. It was a play that normally we’d see him simply pull up at 2nd and be content with station to station baseball. Tonight we saw a little aggressiveness early on that play. While it didn’t make a difference in that inning, it was good to see him come out with effort.
  • A lumbering triple in the 4th was good to see, but he definitely doesn’t run the way he used to. Even the Met’s announcers, who were terrible to listen to all night, noticed and commented on the fact that his run around the bases looked sluggish and cumbersome.
  • In the 5th, Soriano’s RBI single was beautiful. He stayed back on the pitch and went the other way for a nice single just over the head of L. Castillo. I’m used to seeing him swinging at terrible pitches and looking bad doing it. Tonight we saw him hit good pitches and even draw a walk.

I don’t know what it all means. Perhaps we’re on the cusp of seeing one of those hot hitting Sori streaks, something this offense is calling out for. One thing is for sure. He’s still capable of being an offensive threat. He may not be a threat like he once was, but it’s still in there for him to use.

Shhh, don’t tell him he’s not Batman – One of my favorite lines in the original Batman movie was when the criminal asked Batman who he was. Drawing him close, he spoke gently and proclaimed that he was Batman. Every time I watch Carlos Silva pitch, I picture him pulling us all close as we stare in amazement at this player who in know way resembles the Carlos Silva we expected and answering our question of who are you by telling us he’s really a fat Batman. As long as know one fills him in on the fact that his name is Silva, maybe we’ll see this kind of pitching all year long. Another nice outing tonight by Silva. I was a little surprised to see Lou not let him pitch into the 7th inning. This is the second time he’s pulled Silva too early. It’s as if he doesn’t quite trust him yet and doesn’t want to press his luck and land on a whammy. When a guy’s hot and the pen is not. Stick with him, Lou. Silva should have gone into the 7th.

Mr. Perfect – Don’t look now, but Lou’s getting real good production out of Geo lately. In five trips to the plate tonight, Geo had a pair of singles (one could have been a double if he didn’t slide like a little leaguer) and drew three walks. A perfect five of five in the on base category for Geo. Maybe it’s that styling new haircut he brought with him this off-season. We’ve still not seen the run production we did in the rookie year, but if he keeps hitting with the approach he’s taken this year so far that production will come and we’ll start to see him hitting higher than seven in the lineup.

Quick Hits

  • The Mets booth is terrible. I was quite frustrated that I was only given one choice for TV feed tonight and it was the Mets feed. It seemed like they interviewed someone every inning of the game, including a sleeper of a chat with Tom Seaver. My goodness I thought it was never going to end.
  • No need, regardless of the broadcast or sport, to ever show me the announcers. What is the point of cutting to shots in the booth. I’m not watching to see what they look like. It’s bad enough I’ve got to listen to them tell me what I’m watching as if I can’t see that Barajas just popped up the ball to short.
  • Big ups to Ike Davis on the over the rail grab into the 1st base side dugout in the 1st inning on Jeff Baker’s pop foul. That takes some presence and a little bit of guts. Very graceful play that should get web gem consideration.

First Star: Alfonso Soriano (.368 WPA)
Second Star: Carlos Silva (.236 WPA)
Third Star: Geo Soto (.084 WPA)

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