Archive for April, 2010

Just when you thought you’d seen it all

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Today Joe asked us to chip in as to what we thought the Cubs should do to stop the malaise that the Cubs currently find themselves in. Today the Cubs brass responded by announcing that Carlos Zambrano will be the starter that goes to the pen when Ted Lilly returns.

Naturally the first thing I did was consult my calendar; today is indeed April 21st and not the 1st and there is no significance to today’s date insofar as tomfoolery is concerned. That having been said I’m a bit stultified as to the reasoning behind this move; a more logical move would have been to send Silva out there (he of the zero walks) or possibly Gorzelanny (who took a smack on the shoulder in his last start and might need to be eased back into throwing a couple of innings at a time.)

Time will tell but this appears to be a desperate move by a couple of very desperate men. Piniella said that, barring a trade this move made sense to him, possibly for an extended period of time. I don’t like it simply because Z often has troubles in the first inning and it takes a couple of innings for his splitter to really start splitting. I was also dismayed when I saw that the Cubs were taking a long hard look at former Brewer Looper, he of the long ball fame. Are they really serious or victims of a particularly generous happy hour? Let’s consider trades and moves but let’s consider possibly taking a look at Juan Cruz (who’s available) or another bonafide bullpenner.

In other news Andy MacPhail and the Baltimore Orioles signed former Cub Corey Patterson to a minor league contract. He will report immediately to AAA Norfolk where he will compete with former Cub Joey Gathright to back up former Cubs Felix Pie, who is injured and former first round pick Luis Montanez, who also came up in the Cubs minor league organization.


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Minor Details: 4/20

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

First Inning Players of the Night

Memphis 4, Iowa 3

Thomas Diamond has been a pleasent surprise for far this year after being claimed off waivers from the Rangers in early September. He’s a former 1st round (10th overall) pick in the 2004 draft. Tommy John surgery in 2007 has affected his progress greatly. Perhaps he’s over that hump. In three starts that span 16 innings so far this year for Iowa he’s sporting a 2.25 ERA

Carolina 5, Tennessee 6

Chris Carpenter made his first start since coming off the DL and went three innings giving up two hits and a run. Starlin Castro also had a nice game at the plate as he went 2-4 with a 2-run homer that gave Tennessee a 2-0 lead in the top of the first.

Robinson Chirinos was named by the Southern League as its “Hitter of the Week,” for the duration of April 8 – 18.  The award is Chirinos’ first of the season.

Through April 18, Chirinos led the Southern League with a .759 slugging percentage and was tied for the league home run lead with three.  Chirinos, who is currently riding an eight-game hitting streak, went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs Friday night against the Chattanooga Lookouts.

Dunedin 6, Daytona 4

I hadn’t realized this till now, but did you know that David Patton is pitching for High-A Daytona this year? This is the same pitcher that was on the big league roster for a good amount of time because of his rule 5 status last year. We just couldn’t let his arm go back. Now he’s pitching in High-A frickin baseball? Seriously.

Peoria 8, Kane County 7

Justin Bour went 3-for3 out of the DH spot for the Chiefs with a double and a walk. He’s now hitting .366 / .462 / .537 on the year with 10 RBI in just 41 AB’s.

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Coffee Talk: The Pinocchio Paradox

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Wordless Wednesday time gives you something interesting to discuss.

Beat the Streak Leader

jswanson – 3

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Game 14: A Call For Change

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

I wanted to use Lizzie’s title from the game 13 recap, but decided that it would be silly. I missed the first two innings of the game and rather wished that I’d missed the last seven.
I don’t know how to write a recap on games that feature the same issues day in and day out. It’s insulting to you to think you don’t already know these issues. Instead I’m calling for changes. I want to hear any changes you might suggest to Lou for tonight. This is not something where you simply holler out for Soriano to be released and stupid stuff like that. Rather, it’s a call for you to put yourself in Lou’s spot for tonight. What are you going to do to score enough runs and get through a game with the pitching staff to win tonight and tonight only. That’s our focus.

Here are some tools at your disposal:

  • Career numbers vs. Oliver Perez – (Source)
  • Baseball Reference game preview – (Source)
  • Bullpen Health Report in the sidebar

In addition, I’m calling for everyone who watches the game tonight that typically does so in the same manner every time to do something different and be prepared to share that tomorrow when we’re recapping a win.

For me, I’m going to go back to keeping score (haven’t done it the last 4 games) and I’m going to wear my Cubs hoodie now that the ban has been lifted.

First Star – Mike Pelfrey (.394 WPA)
Second Star – Jose Reyes (.240 WPA)
Third Star – Koyie Hill (.092 WPA)

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Say it Brother Brenly!

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Yesterday our own Lizzie commented rather succinctly about the Cubs most recent loss to the less than Amazin’ Mets.  Always an optimist Lizzie did not have a negative spin to her article but she made a couple of very cogent statements that I felt needed to be expanded upon somewhat.  And today Cubs commentator Bob Brenly threw his two cents in with respect to Alfonso Soriano’s recent mishap, this time occurring in the batter’s box.

Brenly has been in Chicago for a while now so he’s certainly entitled to let it all hang out.  I’ve also liked his astute analysis of Cubs games from Day One – he says it like it is and his decision-making appears to be sound.

One of Lizzie’s observations was on Soriano’s admiration of the ball he hit deep into the well; I’ve always hated this practice and, were I a pitcher I’d put seam marks on that fella’s tuckus the next time he came up.  It’s somewhat disrespectful to both the pitcher and the game – batters should put their heads down and circle the bases, pausing briefly to slap hands with both the first and third base coaches.  That’s how ya do it in my book.  This time Soriano turned a triple into a double in a key part of the game; it reminded me of an instance that once happened when the Cubs played the Braves early in Andruw Jones’ career.  Andrew shagged a ball hit to center and Atlanta’s manager Bobby Cox instantly sent his replacement out to the outfield.  When Jones returned to the dugout Cox put his head down, looked at Jones and both headed quietly to the clubhouse.  It was like watching Daddy and his errant son going to the woodshed to pick out the correct belt for the infraction.

And that is what our manager should have done which leads me to another of Lizzie’s observations.  Piniella indeed looks tired and if the current ragtag play continues he should be allowed to resign his position with dignity.  And I’d like nothing better than to see Brenly fill out the rest of the year and see if he can put some fire under the team’s collective fantails.

Going into today’s action we’re four games behind, it’s certainly not an insurmountable deficit and there’s plenty of time to wright the ship.  Our starting pitchers are doing pretty well, including our fifth starter Carlos Zambrano (at least in terms of performance.)  We have to cut down on the bonehead plays (ahem Mr. Soriano,) start turning some crisper double plays (are you there Mr. Theriot?) and our manager needs to start showing some drive and motivation (assuming there’s some gas still left in the tank.)  And our GM needs to start sending messages to the bullpen, starting with Mr. Samardzija.  My best advice to him is to start working on cardio, start catching some footballs again and switch into the sport that he has more God-given skills for.


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In the News: As bullpen founders, Cubs fans wonder

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Greetings and good day to you, fellow beleaguered Cubs fans. Instead of drowning you in more of the negativity that’s flowing through the copper tubes of the Internet like…well, I won’t go there…like water, I’d like to very simply and straightforwardly take a look at some of the news stories* affecting our embattled Major League baseball team. They are as follows:

Cashner tears up Tennessee.  You’re concerned about the bullpen. I’m concerned about the bullpen. That guy with the funny hat and a beer can in each hand is concerned about the bullpen. One idea I floated in spring training (and I wasn’t alone) was that highly touted Cubs pitching prospect Andrew Cashner could be the right-handed set-up guy we’ve all been longing for. Now, granted, Cashner’s control was not good in spring training. But he appears to have found his focus – he’s struck out 25 batters om 17.1 innings pitched in Double-A ball.

The primary sticking point is that Cashner has been a starter in the minors, not a reliever. Would it hurt his development as a, perhaps, top of the rotation starting pitcher to call him up and put him in the pen? Let the debate begin, because the 2010 Cubs need to figure out their bullpen and figure it out fast.

Remember Juan Cruz?  In other potential bullpen candidate news, some are wondering whether we could see a return of slim, hard-throwing right-hander Juan Cruz. The always entertaining Phil Rogers reported that the Royals were open to trade offers for Cruz, a product of the Cubs farm system who made his Cubs debut in 2001 and was traded to the Braves (where he, of course, flourished) in 2003. Cruz had a down 2009 with the Royals but was pretty effective in the previous three seasons for the D’Backs.

Caridad goes to extended spring training.  I know, I know – many might think Esmailin Caridad, who seemingly appeared out of nowhere in 2009 to snag the theoretical position of Cubs primary right-handed set-up guy this season, should never have broke camp with the team to begin with. And it’s probably safe to say that MOST thought so after his awful last couple outings vs. the Reds. In any case, he’s now in Arizona rehabbing from an alleged and awfully convenient right forearm strain. It’ll be interesting to see whether he ever makes it back into the big league bullpen or becomes a brief footnote in the Tale of 2010.

Y’know who can’t help the bullpen? TED LILLY.  That’s because he’s too busy kicking ass, taking names and headed like a screaming liner back into the starting rotation. Last night (Monday) in Peoria, Ted went a full seven innings with nine Ks! He gave up just one run and walked only one as well. The guy even singled and walked – and tried to steal a base. Warn your neighbors: Ted’s back. (His first start will likely be against the Brewers on Saturday.)

Signs, signs…everywhere a sign!   Continuing my torrid streak of news posts about signs, I give you – a red glowing Toyota logo! The much-discussed left-field adornment cleared a major hurtle yesterday when it was granted approval by the city’s zoning officials. It’s not out of the woods and over your head yet, however, as Alderman Tom Tunney still appears to be a little dubious about the idea. He says he’s not sure just what he’ll say when the matter goes before the Commission on Chicago Landmarks on May 6.

Len and Bob keep it short.  Have you noticed how the Seventh Inning Stretch interviews during the games have been a little bit more abbreviated so far this season? That’s because Len and Bob are trying out a new, shorter format to try and strike a balance between giving celebs some face (and plug) time and staying focused on, y’know, the baseball game in progress. Len revealed this in their latest (as of this writing) podcast – check out it out if you’re so inclined.

16th Annual Lou Gehrig Day to be held at Wrigley Field, June 19.  Tickets are on sale now – and will be available only through May 7 – for this exciting, important event. Per the press release, “The event begins at 10:00 a.m. with a pre-game party at Goose Island Brewpub in Wrigleyville hosted by 93XRT’s Lin Brehmer.  Following the party, guests will catch an exciting match-up between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Angels at Wrigley Field.  The National Anthem will be sung by Chicago folk rock singer Michael McDermott in honor of Lou Gehrig Day and the Les Turner ALS Foundation.” For more info, e-mail or visit the Les Turner ALS site here. Remember, tickets are going fast and will be on sale for only a few more weeks.

From putting out fires to taking care of the umpires.  That’s the career path of former Des Plaines Fire Chief Tom Farinella. Check out this cool human interest story.

A 101-year-old fan visited Wrigley last week.  Katie Dobey was born in a fateful year – 1908. Last week, this lifelong Cubs fan got the VIP treatment at the Friendly Confines. Hey, if we can’t celebrate the team right now, let’s at least celebrate a few of its fans.


*Reddish text = hyperlinks.

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Minor Details: 4/19

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

I went to the Smokies game last night and came away with a couple quick impressions.

  1. Andrew Cashner was really good, but different than we’ve seen so far this year. He didn’t blow guys away with the strikeout (five on the night through seven innings), but he didn’t allow good contact. Everything hit was in the infield or shallow outfield. He was a notch ahead of the hitters.
  2. Starlin Castro has such a smooth and fluid demeanor about the way he plays defense at SS. I’m excited to see him in the Majors.
  3. Tony Campana is crazy fast. He made every play at first a close one, even the routine grounders. At one point he almost beat out a grounder to the pitcher. He did steal a base and it wasn’t even close.

First Inning Players of the Night

Nashville 0, Iowa 4

No recap sent by the Nashville media department. Guess that must be too difficult for them.

Carolina 1, Tennessee 2

A classic pitchers’ duel went to the Tennessee Smokies on Monday night, as Tennessee beat the Carolina Mudcats 2-1 thanks to an RBI single by Jake Opitz in the top of the ninth inning.

Starter Andrew Cashner pitched seven innings, only allowing one run on two hits. The right-hander struck out five batters in the game, increasing his Southern League lead to 25 strikeouts in 2010.

The Mudcats jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first. During Luis Terrero’s at-bat, Kris Negron broke from second to try and steal first. Smokies catcher Robinson Chirinos made a throwing error that allowed Negron to score to put Carolina 1-0.

The pitchers settled into a nice groove until the top of the sixth. With Tony Campana at third and Starlin Castro at first, Ty Wright hit a grounder to third baseman Jake Kahaulelio. He threw onto second to retire Castro for the second out of the inning, but Carolina second baseman Jose Castro overshot first base with a throwing error to allow Wright to reach second and Campana to score to tie the game at one.

That was the only run Carolina starter Matt Klinker allowed in the contest. Like Cashner, he pitched seven innings while only allowing a run, although Klinker gave up five hits.

Tennessee’s top of the ninth rally began with a Brandon Guyer single to lead off the inning. Guyer stole second base and advanced to third on a groundout by Ryan Flaherty. Optiz collected his seventh RBI of the season when he singled in Guyer to give Tennessee a 2-1 lead.

Ryan Buchter began the bottom of the ninth for Tennessee on the mound. He retired Yonder Alonso on a swinging strikeout before manager Bill Dancy brought in Jake Muyco for the final two outs. Muyco did allow a single but was able to record the save as he struck out Eric Eymann looking to end the game. Muyco now has a team-leading three saves this season.

The Smokies and Mudcats will play game two of the series at 11 a.m. tomorrow. Fans can listen to the game on Tennessee’s Chris Carpenter will face Carolina’s Dallas Buck.

Dunedin 4, Daytona 2 & Dunedin 2, Daytona 4

The Daytona Cubs (5-7) and Dunedin Blue Jays (6-6) each picked up a victory on Monday night. The Cubs took game one of Monday’s doubleheader, 4-2, but the Jays took game two by the same score.

Daytona got on the board in the top of the second inning. Nelson Perez, David Macias and Mark Reed hit three straight singles with one out off Jays starter Andrew Liebel (1-2) to load the bases. After a line-drive out by Junior Lake, Brett Jackson cleared the bases with a triple down the right field line.

The Cubs made it 4-0 in the top of the fourth inning. Right fielder Kyler Burke reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to second on an error by Dunedin third baseman John Tolisano. Cubs third baseman took advantage with a single to center field that brought home Burke.

The Blue Jays scored a single run in the third and then the fifth before threatening in the bottom of the sixth inning. Luke Sommer came out of the bullpen for Daytona with runners at first and second with no out and struck out Sean Shoffit for out number one. Cubs Manager Buddy Bailey then went to Michael Perconte who struck out the next two batters to end the threat.

Rafael Dolis (1-1) pitched five solid innings to pick up his first win of the year. Liebel took the loss for Dunedin. Perconte pitched a one-two-three seventh to pick up his first save of the season and finish off the victory.

In game two, Matthew Spencer gave Daytona a 2-0 advantage with a home run in his first at-bat as a Cub. Josh Vitters had walked before him to set the table.

It was all Dunedin from there as Brian Van Kirk scored the first Blue Jays run in the bottom of the second inning. Right fielder Daniel Perales brought him in with a sacrifice fly.

The Blue Jays tacked on two more runs in the third inning. After a John Tolisano, designated hitter Travis D’Arnaud doubled off the right field wall to tie the game at two. Van Kirk followed with a single to score D’Arnaud and give the Blue Jays their first lead of the day at 3-2.

Mike McDade continued the Blue Jays onslaught with a solo home run off of Cubs starter Dae-Eun Rhee (0-2) to make it a 4-2 Dunedin advantage.

Jays starter Ryan Page (1-1) pitched six strong innings to pick up his first victory of 2010. Rhee took the loss for Daytona. Matt Daly sat the Cubs down in order in the top of the seventh inning for his fourth save of the year.

The Cubs and Jays will meet in the rubber match of the series on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. Alberto Cabrera will get the call for Daytona and Chuck Huggins goes for Dunedin.

Peoria 2, Burlington 1

The Peoria Chiefs welcomed Chicago Cubs All-Star pitcher Ted Lilly on Monday night in the final game of their home series against the Burlington Bees. Lilly started on the mound for the Chiefs and batted ninth, becoming the first Chiefs pitcher in nearly ten years to hit for the team. Lilly would not disappoint as he pitched seven innings and allowed only one run as the Chiefs won 2-1. The victory is the fourth consecutive for Peoria and improves their record to 7-5.

Burlington got on the board early against Lilly as Hilton Richardson led off the game with a walk. Following a Deivy Batista strikeout, Wil Myers hit an RBI triple to left-center that scored Richardson. Lilly worked his way out of the inning by striking out Joey Lewis and Gerard Hall.

Lilly took his first at-bat in the third inning and registered the first hit for the Chiefs, lining a single over Hall at shortstop. He was thrown out attempting to steal second and later drew a walk in his only other plate appearance in the fifth.

The Chiefs came back to tie it in the bottom of the fourth. Hak-Ju Lee drew a walk followed by a Logan Watkins pop-up on a bunt attempt. Lee then stole second and third base and was driven in by a Matt Cerda RBI single.
Peoria took the in the bottom of the sixth inning. Cerda singled to start the frame before advancing to a wild pitch with Greg Rohan at the plate. Rohan then drew a walk and Justin Bour scored Cerda on an RBI single. Jovan Rosa flew out to center field and Alvaro Ramirez grounded out to second base to end the inning with the Chiefs leading 2-1.

Lilly (1-0) went seven innings and allowed one run on three hits and a walk while striking out nine. Rob Whitenack pitched the final two innings of the game and did not allow a single runner to reach base. He struck out one on his way to his first save of the season. Lilly and Whitenack retired the final 16 Burlington batters in order.

All recaps provided courtesy of the respective team’s media department. For a complete breakdown of the organization head to the First Inning organizational report.

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Coffee Talk: Run Ins With The law

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

The theme today is very simple. I want to hear about a time or times you had a run in with the law. Maybe it was that time you had too much to drink, got in a brawl and found your butt in the local jail for the night. I don’t know what it is, but I want to hear about it. I’ll start.

When I was somewhere in the neighborhood of five or six, my mom would let my brother and I play in the yard. Being mischievous, we would venture out of the yard and look at other people’s yards. We decided that perhaps it would be fun to take people’s packages that were left on the doorstep by the mailman, play with them for a little while (unopened) and then put them back. It was always a blast when you’re little. One day, upon bring a package home for inspection, my mom stumbled upon our endeavor and was surprised to say the least. That night, when my dad came home, they loaded both my brother and me in the car and drove to the local police station in Chicago. After having some words with the officer on duty, he proceeded to tell us that what we did was against the law and that we were being sent to jail. From there he proceeded to lead us to an empty cell, put both of us inside, and slam the cell door. Then, all three adults left the room for a brief second, which caused us both to literally freak out in hysterical crying. My parents came right back in and took us home.

Long story short, I never stole mail again.

Beat the Streak Leaders following 04/19 game:

GV Hub – 4

Jesse – 4

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Game 13: Broken Record

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Does this sound familiar: Great starting pitching, plenty of opportunities, obscene number of runners left on base, minimal run production, bullpen can’t hold it together. Things start falling apart. Cubs lose. I could have just copied one of many other game recaps and just changed the date. That’s not good.

Random thoughts throughout the game (let’s hear yours too!)

  • Tonight was Jackie Robinson night at Citi Field, since the Mets were on the road when the other teams celebrated on April 15. Everyone looked good in their 42s one more time!
  • Lou is tired. ESPN showed what seemed like way too many shots of Lou strolling around the dugout yawning like nobody’s business.
  • I’m sure it’s just the angle, but it seems like Mets pitcher Jon Niese has the biggest glove I have ever seen.
  • In the top of the 2nd, Soriano admired his long hit to right center instead of running right out of the box. Result was a double instead of a triple. As it stands, it didn’t really matter in a 6-1 loss, but it says a lot about Soriano’s woes, and the Cubs woes in general. To add to my Soriano ire, he hopped when he caught an Ike Davis short fly to left in the bottom of the fifth, despite saying he was done hopping.
  • Speaking of Ike Davis, he had a nice solid single in his first major league at bat. You could see how excited he was, trying to stay stoic at first base when they gave him the ball. Good for him. (And good for us that it wasn’t as damaging as Jason Heyward’s hit in his first at bat.)
  • Top of the fifth, no outs, Wells on 2nd, Byrd on 1st, why isn’t Baker bunting in this situation?
  • I like Marlon Byrd. He might not be the best fielder or even the best hitter, but I like his work ethic and approach to the game. Along with being the anti-(guy we can’t mention), he’s also the anti-Soriano. Once I heard the lineup today (but before the game started) I knew immediately that Byrd would know exactly what it means to be a leadoff hitter. It requires a different approach than being third, fourth, fifth or eighth. I’m not sure our usual leadoff hitters know this difference and that it requires a change in approach.
  • That’s about it from me. It’s early, I know. If this and that and the other thing would have happened, we might be 10-3. But instead, we’re 5-8, three losses in a row, we’ve won but one series out of four, and this looks way too much like the Cubs team I watched last August, with or without the guy we can’t mention.

First Star: Angel Pagan (WPA .298)
Second Sta
r: Jon Niese (WPA .274)
Third Star: Marlon Byrd (WPA .250)
Honorable Mention: Randy Wells (WPA .182)

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