Archive for July, 2010

Game 93: Marlon Byrd Makes History

Monday, July 19th, 2010

First Star – Starlin Castro (.186 WPA)
Second Star – Geo Soto (.168 WPA)
Third Star – Tom Gorzelanny (.128 WPA)


We had some friends over last night and as they were leaving, just before the game was getting started, I said to one of them that I just wanted us to manage to get a hit against Roy Halladay on national TV. When the dust settled, you would have thought Halladay pitched Saturday and Cole Hammels on Sunday based on the scores. In the end, if Geo holds on to the throw to the plate on Saturday, we’re 4-0 out of the break. Nonetheless, I’ll take 3-1 any day of the week against a really good Phillies team that just hasn’t played the kind of baseball they’re capable of this year.

STRIKE ONE – Roy Halladay was very hittable and I couldn’t be more grateful. ESPN flashed two different things that had me amazed. First was the stat that Halladay throws a strike within the first two pitches of an at bat 92% of the time, which is tops in the Majors. That’s insane when you really sit down and think about what that means. That means this guy is, at worst, in a 1-1 count 92% of the time and you can bet he’s generally in an 0-2 count more often than not. No wonder he’s not only dominating guys, but going deep into the ballgame. He’s not fooling around up there. The second thing they showed was a four screen shot of him delivering all four of his pitches at the same time. You couldn’t tell the difference in arm angle or mechanics at all. All four pitches looked exactly the same coming out then went their separate ways.

STRIKE TWO – The trick to beating Roy Halladay? Apparently a team of Colvin’s and Castro’s can do the job. I wasn’t all that thrilled with those two hitting 1-2 in the lineup, but it worked and worked extremely well for Lou last night with both of the kids picking up three hits.

STRIKE THREE – Marlon Byrd scored three runs and didn’t collect a single hit. That got me thinking of times when a guy scored that way. Oddly enough, a guy that was in the ballpark last night, Joe Morgan, once scored five runs without the benefit of a hit. (Box Score) Also interesting on Byrd, his HBP in the 2nd inning was his 16th of the year. The last Cub to do that was Frank Chance back in 1905 when he had 17. I think it’s safe to say that Marlon has a pretty good chance of beating that. Speaking of Frank Chance, we have a post in the works on the old guy later this week.

That’s strike three and I’m out. We’ll be back around lunch time with “Great Moment’s in Cubs Bust History” where we’ll take a look at former Cub…….(You gotta check back to find out).

Also, don’t forget to take a look at Minor League Monday where we look at the power hitters in the organization.

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Morning Wake Up: Minor League Muscle

Monday, July 19th, 2010

It’s my goal over the course of the work week to post a morning thread along the lines of the Coffee Talk threads we did at the beginning of the year. Each day will have a theme and be comprised of some basic components from day to day.

Today we’ll start off with Minor League Monday and take a look at the power bats in the system based on the home run.

Age Tm Lev PA R 2B 3B HR ▾ RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Brad Snyder* 28 IWA AAA 330 55 21 5 14 58 15 1 34 71 .305 .379 .555 .934
Matthew Spencer* 24 KNX,DYT AA,A+ 284 27 8 2 12 41 7 1 21 65 .264 .320 .450 .770
Robinson Chirinos 26 KNX AA 247 41 21 0 12 50 1 3 32 23 .322 .413 .600 1.013
Bryan LaHair* 27 IWA AAA 290 35 22 0 11 43 3 0 29 59 .311 .383 .525 .908
Jason Dubois 31 IWA AAA 147 25 6 0 11 26 0 0 19 42 .218 .340 .532 .872
Russ Canzler 24 KNX AA 218 37 16 1 11 29 2 4 25 45 .309 .394 .580 .974
Ty Wright 25 KNX,IWA AA,AAA 363 57 23 0 10 52 5 2 16 43 .295 .335 .452 .788
Josh Vitters 20 KNX,DYT AA,A+ 327 41 19 0 10 38 5 1 18 58 .247 .308 .411 .719
Micah Hoffpauir* 30 IWA AAA 344 47 20 2 10 57 1 0 39 55 .234 .326 .415 .740
Welington Castillo 23 IWA AAA 205 25 12 1 10 46 0 2 16 42 .251 .314 .497 .811
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/18/2010.

Some notes on this list that jump out to me:

  • Age – This table is a list of guys with at least 10 home runs in the system this year. The concerning thing about the list is the age of the hitters. We’re always taught that guys develop their power skill as they get older. That’s well and good, but there really aren’t any guys on this list, with the exception of Josh Vitters, that is even considered a promising option for the big leagues going forward. Brad Snyder is a guy that is intriguing, but just doesn’t have a spot to play if we don’t clean out some of the OF options in the big leagues.
  • Lack of RBI - Looking a few of these guys, there is a strange lack of RBI given the amount of HR’s they’ve hit. Jason Dubois and Russ Canzler just don’t seem to be producing a lot of runs.
  • Robinson Chirinos – I’d really like to see him get a shot at the Major’s to show what he can. He’s hitting for power, with 12 HR and 21 doubles, drawing more walks than striking out, and throwing out runners at a 35% clip. It deserves a shot come September.

What’s On Tap for Today

Carlos Silva (9-3, 3.45 ERA) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (6-11, 4.97 ERA)

Silva’s last start ended after 1 1/3 innings when he was ejected by umpire Brian Runge for arguing a close play at first. Silva had some soreness in right calf but has had plenty of rest.

Rodriguez lost his first game in three starts, but he still pitched good enough to earn the win his last time out. He gave up three runs, all on a homer by Cardinals left fielder Matt Holiday in a 4-2 loss. He has regained his 2009 form after a tough start to the season.

Strength – Can induce ground balls with early strikes or set batters up with a good change and breaking stuff. Is durable for his size.

Weakness – Since he’s only 5-11, 195 pounds, injuries down the road are a concern. Needs to pitch more consistently on the road.

Notes taken from MLB.com and TSN.ca

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Game 92: I Should Have Known Better

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

First Star – Randy Wells (.488 WPA)
Second Star – Ross Gload (.411 WPA)
Third Star – Placido Polanco (.285 WPA)


The Following is a guest post from Buddy

John Lennon said it in 1964, and it’s just as true today.

Exactly why did I think the Cubs might make some noise in the second half? Didn’t I just sit through three+ months of rotten baseball? And even if those first 90 games weren’t enough, haven’t I watched this bad movie year after year after year?

Fortunately, their performance against the Phillies on July 17th brought me to my senses. In case you were actually living your life on Saturday, here’s a quick review of what you missed…

  • The Cubs wasted yet another solid outing by a starting pitcher, as Randy Wells shutout the Phillies for seven innings.
  • As good as Wells was on Saturday, the Cubs offense was just as bad. Cole Hamels and company held the Northsiders to one run and only ONE extra base hit. Aren’t the bats supposed to heat up with Chicago’s summer weather? The answer is, not when you have a collection of hitters who are allergic to getting on base.
  • Just when it looked like one run might be enough, Carlos Marmol reminded us that the mailman isn’t the only person who walks. Five, count them, five free passes for the Cubs closer. Watching him sabotage the 9th inning was worse than watching that crappy Matt Damon/Iraq film.
  • Now trailing 4-1, the Cubs were stymied by the usually horrendous Brad Lidge. You’ve got to hand it to our Cubbies. They have a knack for making ordinary closers look like Mariano Rivera.

And just like that, my world makes sense again. Despite what Ted Lilly tells the media, the Cubs are NOT turning this thing around. If Jim Hendry has half a brain (which is debatable), he will use the last two weeks of July to dump salary and infuse some young talent for 2011 and beyond. I just hope Uncle Lou has stocked up on whiskey and smokes. It’s going to be a LONG summer.

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Game 91: Aram-O-Rama

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Chet talked yesterday about an Aram-o-meter. I’ll take it from there and call this game “Aram-O-Rama”. This game was all Aramis. Well, I take that back. We also had some Byrd-Is-The-Word. Plus some Frilly-Lilly (Sorry Ted. It rhymes! I meant it in a good way.) And a hearty dose of Nasty-Marmol (also in a good way!). But after the first half Aramis had, I’ll be happy to give him top billing for a change!!!

A funny thing happened in this game that I don’t recall seeing in the first half. The Cubs kept pace. This happened yesterday too (before they broke the game open). Seems like in the first half, if the opposing team scored first the attitude (among the fans or the players or both) turned immediately to “oh well, game’s done, we lost” even if that lead was taken early in the game. It doesn’t feel that way to me now. The game isn’t automatically lost just because the other team scores. That’s positive.

Game Notes:

  • I don’t like Todd Hollandsworth. There. I said it. Now I’ll move on.
  • Marlon Byrd got the Cubs’ first hit in the bottom of the 2nd, only to promptly become the lead end of a Soriano double play to end the inning.
  • Wrigley Field Road Tour!!!! I really want to do this. But they’re only allowing 10 hours for the 100 miles and I’m more at a 12-hour pace right now. Like a turtle. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to ride all the way up there and only see the 8th and 9th innings!! My goal for the year will be to work on my speed and make the trip next year if it becomes an annual event.
  • Shane Victorino got the first Phillies hit in the fourth with a home run that made it 1-0.
  • Things got a little gamey for ol’ Teddy-boy in the 5th after a pair of singles by Cody Ransom and Carlos Ruiz left runners on 1st and 3rd with only one out. But, he struck out Wilson Valdez and Joe Blanton to get out of the inning unscathed.
  • Aramis Ramirez (my BTS pick!) led off the 5th with a nice single. After a fly out by Byrd, Soriano walked and Castro grounded out (but NOT into a double play, yay!) Soto was intentionally walked to bring up Ted Lilly. Lilly worked the count to 3-2 and all the fans stood and cheered him. He walked and helped his own cause, “driving” in Ramirez from third to tie the game at one. Theriot grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
  • A two run homer by Ryan Howard (after Jayson Werth walked) gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead in the 6th.
  • The Cubs got those runs back in the bottom of the 6th when Marlon Byrd hit a nice long home run after an Aramis Ramirez double. No doubt about this one, it was long gone! Way to go Marlon! And I have to say, Ramirez looks sharp lately. It’s like he’s a different person.
  • Easy 7th inning for Teddy, three up three down.
  • Starlin Castro singled to lead off the bottom of the 7th and moved to 2nd on a wild pitch. Soto hit a sacrifice fly to get Castro to third (another thing we didn’t see too much of earlier in the season … a little bit of small ball!!!) Maybe Starlin will steal home again, wouldn’t that be a hoot!! Fukudome pinch hit for Lilly and promptly struck out on four pitches. Lilly himself fared better two innings back and I might have gone with him! Theriot actually worked his count full (another thing we rarely saw in the first half). He struck out, but it was at least a better at bat than usual for him.
  • Lilly left the game with 10 strikeouts, his season high.
  • Speaking of 10, Sean Marshall needed only 10 pitches to get through the Phillies in the top of the 8th!
  • Ramirez hit a ball completely out of the ballpark in the bottom of the 8th to give the Cubs a 4-3 lead. As I said, Ramirez is looking really, really good of late. Joe called it all season long and no one believed him including me.
  • Marmol struck out the side in the ninth and that was that!

Win Probability
(don’t understand this graph? Click here to learn all about it!)

First Star: Aramis Ramirez (WPA = .378)
Second Star: Marlon Byrd (WPA = .253)
Third Star: Ryan Howard (WPA = .184)
Honorable Mention: Carlos Marmol (WPA = .166)
Funny Note of the Day: Lilly’s WPA as a batter (.131) was better than as a pitcher (-.013)

Beat the Streak after the game:
Chet = 2
Lizzie = 2
Terrelle Pryor = 2
April = 1
Chase Kahlenbeck = 1
Jack McClendon = 1
Joe L. = 1
mrbaseball2usa = 1

A series tie (at least) already and we’ve still got two games to go! Enjoy the weekend and Go Cubs Go!

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GirlieView (07/16/2010)

Friday, July 16th, 2010

The best part about doing this GirlieView column is that I don’t always feel obliged to talk about baseball. True, this is a baseball blog and you probably come here to read about baseball, but sometimes I like to go off topic. Sometimes I go way off topic (bunny story from a few weeks back) and other times I stay in the periphery. Today is periphery. On Thursday in his In the News column our pal Daver talked briefly about a new Cubs’ cookbook. I’m all about cooking, so that perked me right up. You’ve gotta see the cover. Even if you have no interest in cooking, or in buying the book (the proceeds from which will benefit the Dempster Family Foundation) you’ve just got to see the cover. It’s interesting in so many ways. So here you go.

You can ponder that while I move on with the week in review. If you find a quote you like, or that piques your interest, make your way back through this week’s articles to read more!

Lizzies

  • Bad sign when you get old, you don’t even remember what you say.
  • I would like to thank the academy, my parents, and the Cubs for sucking so bad! It gives me the creative energy to come up with some of these things! If they were good my writing would no doubt be boring and bland and lizzie/lizardless.
  • This team has been playing a lot more interesting baseball of late.
  • Joe Aiello = 10
  • There is a right and wrong way to get tossed and Silva did it the right way.
  • Can’t you just let me think we split?
  • 4-3 still isn’t bad. At least they beat the team should have beaten.
  • Cubs Trade Deadline Primer – NOW AVAILABLE
  • As a blogger, I tend to look at the break as just that, a break.
  • That was even before I knew some old dude was going to make me drop my underwear and cough.
  • Why not schedule all MLB games as day games and make the Sunday night game be the Future’s game?
  • Home field advantage should be determined by whatever team has the best record in the World Series.
  • Easy peasy.
  • …Lemon Squeezie.
  • As soon as the game ends, I forget about it.
  • A Cubs cookbook is on the way.
  • Price could have thrown three pitches behind Ryan Howard, and he still would have swung.
  • I can’t believe McCarver hasn’t said “An Angel in the Outfield” yet. Time is running out, Tim!
  • I can only imagine what the stats guy the Cubs hired sounds like at a party trying the impress women with the Cubs zone ratings and things like that.
  • I am hoping he gets traded for a bag of balls
  • The gameplan was to build a big lead with the soft schedule and then defend it. Oops.
  • who’s Bobby?
  • Put this on our list for 2011 ….we need a leadoff hitter.
  • Castro stole home!!!!!
  • They showed a toddler sitting in the front row trying to eat a baseball. I immediately thought of Moises Alou……what if Moises was playing in this game and that was a foul ball? Would you have let your infant child gum the thing?  I think not considering where Alou’s hands have been.
  • My wife just noticed that Len Kasper is leering at her in a weird way……so am I.
  • I don’t feel bad for him as nine run deficits build character especially when you travel 700 miles to see it happen, something us Cubs fans know a lot about.
  • Lou needs to remember this performance, this is not a one time thing…Howry is officially broken!
  • I think everyone watching or listening to the game expected Howry to come through as he usually does, and he didn’t disappoint.
  • Not really a list that makes you want to slap your mama.
  • Just curious Joe, what kind of things do make you want to slap your mama?

Lizard

  • I don’t have a “man crush” on Sean Marshall but there’s potential!

Wanna play Beat the Streak with us? You can find out all about it here. And, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (VFTB and/or GirlieView and/or Dave) and Facebook (VFTB and/or GirlieView)

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June Stat Madness Results

Friday, July 16th, 2010

I apologize for taking my sweet time with posting the winner / results of the contest from June. Sometimes life gets in the way. In case you have no idea what I’m talking about in terms of the contest, we asked folks to predict stats for various aspects of the team for the month of June. The questions were:

  1. How many games will the Cubs win in June?
  2. How many homeruns will Derrek Lee & Aramis Ramirez combine for in June?
  3. How many hits will Starlin Castro get in June?
  4. How many walks will Geovany Soto take in June
  5. How many times will Aramis Ramirez strike out in June?
  6. How many bases will Ryan Theriot steal in June?
  7. How many batters will Carlos Marmol strike out in June?
  8. How many innings will Bob Howry pitch in June (Rounded to nearest complete inning)

We had a good amount of interest in the game and I was blown away by the winner’s score. For every amount you were off (above or below) for each question, you got a point. The winner scored a remarkable 18. That’s an average of just over 2 off for each question. That’s insane.

Without further adeau, the winner of the June Stat Madness competition was a guy names Ian. He has chosen for his prize, a copy of The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America’s Pastime

Here were some of the notable finishers:

27th place – Rich Beckman (53)
28th place – Tyrelle Pryor II (54)
31st place – Seymour Butts (56)

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Two Reason’s I’m Glued to Cubs Baseball in the 2nd Half

Friday, July 16th, 2010

You might be saying to yourself that the season is over and it’s time to start focusing your attention somewhere else. Hogwash.

One commenter wrote:

“Dear Cubs,
Please, I don’t want to start studying my fantasy football just yet. Give me a reason not to. Thanks.”

Poo Poo to you, Doug S (but e-mail me about fantasy football). I’m sticking to this team for two reasons.

To see if Aramis Ramirez can rebound in the second half

This one may not seem all that big. After all, what good does it do for Ramirez to have a killer second half if the Cubs are mired in a hole of filth and have no chance to make the playoffs? It’s not all about individual stats, right? That’s true to a point, but in this instance it’s imperative that Ramirez have an outstanding second half of the season. The reason: Ramirez is signed through 2012 with the last two years being option years. 2011 is a player option and 2012 is a club option. To put it simply, Ramirez can elect to be a free agent at season’s end. The only reasonable reason he would elect to do that, which would void the last two years of his contract ($30.6 million) would be if he felt he could make more on the open market. A quick look at the potential free agent 3B class shows:

Garrett Atkins BAL *
Jorge Cantu FLA
Eric Chavez OAK *
Pedro Feliz HOU
Bill Hall BOS *
Brandon Inge DET
Maicer Izturis LAA
Mike Lowell BOS
Melvin Mora COL
Nick Punto MIN *
Ty Wigginton BAL

Not really a list that makes you want to slap your mama. If Ramirez can rebound this year, there is a very good chance he could blame the 1st half struggles on the hand, opt out of his deal, and instantly be the top third baseman on the market come November. That’s a big step in the right direction for our payroll flexibility, considering Derrek Lee’s contract is also scheduled to come off the books this year. I’m a Ramirez guy, and I think he’s been good for this franchise since coming over from Pittsburgh, but it’s time to let him move on if we can.

To see if Lou lasts through the end of the season

I think we’ve collectively agreed that Lou is not coming back after this season. The biggest question people have asked all year is whether or not Lou would actually finish the year as the manager of this team. I’d like to go on record and say it’s time to fire Lou Piniella. I don’t think 2010 is his fault entirely. After all, he’s tried just about every lineup possible, moved guys from the bullpen to the rotation and back again and still can’t get the production he should from the talent we have. At some point you have to hold the players accountable for the mess and give Lou some absolution. At this point, you don’t even need to call it a firing. Give Lou the option of walking away with dignity. Have him cite some family issues or health issues. It’s got to be mentally taxing and that enough should constitute health issues when you’re a guy his age. Simply let him walk away from the mess and go out in style.

Then comes the important part. Replace him with Ryne Sandberg on an interim basis. We’re always stuck, when a manager is fired, with a member of the current staff for the remainder of the year until a proper search and interview process is done. Screw that. We’ve got a guy in AAA that is primed and ready to step in. Simply sit down with Ryno and let him know that it’s the Cubs desire to give him first shot at the manager position with the Cubs. Let him know that the next 60 or so odd games will be his interview. You’re not necessarily looking for a complete turnaround, but rather a change in the overall play. See if he’s up to the challenge and use that time to evaluate his ability to manage a Major League team before you commit a three or four year deal to him with a number of good managers scheduled to be available at season’s end.

Right now, the decision about what to do with Sandberg is quickly approaching and it’s going to be an important one. If you’re not going to commit to him or at least give him a chance now, the overall odds are that you’re not going to have to opportunity in the future to see him managing the Cubs. He’s ready to be signed somewhere at this point. If it’s not going to be here, he’s going to ask for permission to go somewhere else. I’d hate to see that happen to a guy that is such an icon in the Cubs organization.

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Game 90: All Aboard the Second Half Bandwagon!

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

First Star: Aramis Ramirez (.190 WPA)

Second Star: Ryan Howard (.183 WPA)

Third Star: Derrek Lee (.109 WPA)


Well,  I’ve had a few days off from Cubbie Baseball and I actually feel somewhat refreshed.  The All-Star game will make you want real baseball.

I decided I would do the recap in a different form tonight. I wanted to give everybody an idea of what it would be like to sit and watch a game with me (or at least give you a glimpse into my brain during a game).  So here we go…….

First thing I realize this evening ….. Keith Moreland filling in for Bob Brenly.  Apparently Brenly was covering Florida State League and his son Michael is in the process of a 13 game hit streak.

Getting Keith Moreland as our color commentator tonight is interesting and sort of disappointing.  It was like showing up at your local bar expecting to see the same bartender; The guy or gal you have gotten to know through the years, and all of the sudden there was a shift trade and you get somebody new that you don’t know and have no history or conversation with.  They don’t know how to make your drinks right and won’t let you swear at the top of your lungs and throw pretzels at the TV!  Anyhow, you know what I mean right?  Sort of takes the fun out of it.

Wind Blowing out tonight.

Ryan Dempster  7-7,  Era 3.61 is starting for the Cubs.
Jamie Moyer 9-8, Era 4.51 (47 Years Old) Starting for the Phillies

1st:

  • Ryan Dempster served up a meatball to Ryan Howard who crushed a 2- run homer  onto Sheffield in the first inning.
  • To lead off the first inning Theriot cues a ball to first on a 3-1 count and grounds out.  Put this on our list for 2011 ….we need a leadoff hitter. Oh God,  I feel like this could be the first half all over again!
  • Tyler Colvin got hit by a 79 MPH heater from Jamie Moyer.  Ouch, I guess.
  • Moyer plunks two batters in the first.  Marlon Byrd was happy to get plunked ….not even sure he felt it.
  • Remember the Shawon-o-meter?  I think we need an Aram-o-meter! In the First inning the Cubs answer back as Aramis Ramirez hits a two run double down the left field line.  Aramis is now hitting over .200…..C’mon, let’s bring it back!  Aram-o-meter!!!! (if you don’t know what this is google the shawon-o-meter from the eighties).

2nd:

  • Dempster pitches an uneventful and clean second inning.  I note this because he got jacked up in the first and felt good for him to get back on track……trying to channel my inner positive here people!
  • Starlin Castro (my pick to click in the second half) tripled off the center field wall in the second.
  • Dempster attempts suicide squeeze and misses a ball that bounces 3 feet in front of home and gives Ruiz fits…….meanwhile Castro takes home plate….it is scored as a stolen base!! Castro stole home!!!!! Count it! (Honestly, you need a little luck and this is where it starts…..it’s gonna be our half!!!!!)

3rd:

  • Dempster  walks the lead-off hitter in the third…..it was the pitcher…..yup, a 47 year old Jamie Moyer.  Being fair, Demp got the next three batters.  See what I ‘m saying,  this ain’t the first half!
  • Colvin lines a shot down the first base line and Keith Moreland says this about Ryan Howard, “ He moves around well for a big man” .   Howard just missed it and Colvin took first. Being kind of a big guy myself, I giggled.
  • D-Lee!!!!!!!! Home Run to Left……titanic two run shot!!!  When he hits well, I call him D-Lee rather than his error making, double play hitting into alter ego named Derrek Lee.
  • They showed a toddler sitting in the front row trying to eat a baseball. I immediately thought of Moises Alou……what if Moises was playing in this game and that was a foul ball? Would you have let your infant child gum the thing?  I think not considering where Alou’s hands have been.
  • Soriano pulverized a ball onto Waveland.  Second half baby!!!!!!!!

4th:

  • Jamie Moyer lasted three innings and I still think that is amazing for a guy who is a stone’s throw away from 50!  As I have said before,  47 is the new 30!
  • Apparently Dave Herndon is up for Cy Young this year and his 0-2 record is another statistical aberration.   Something about young pitchers with bad records….the cubs can’t hit em……but wait, it’s the second half!!!! Looks like the second half bandwagon is temporarily stalled out on the side of I-94…..bad tranny, we’ll be back up in an inning or so.

5th:

  • Another rather boring inning for Dempster….just how we like ‘em.

(by the way, things have been slow for the past two innings so I wanted to enlighten some of you on a new discovery I have made.  How many of you have heard of Glide?  It’s a cream of sorts that looks like a mini speed stick. You apply it, as you would deodorant in a speed stick form,  to areas that chafe a lot.  I use it when I work out or attend street fairs on hot days…it’s like a second skin…..no chafe!  My plug for the day.)

  • Back to the game…….Tyler Colvin knocks a ball into the right field corner and all Keith Moreland can do is talk about his soft hands.  A beautiful hit though.
  • Derrek Lee hits behind the runner in the next at bat and exhibits some baseball fundamentals advancing the guy on second to third. If it was the first half he would have grounded out to the shortstop holding the runner on second!  Bandwagon is fixed and back on the road!
  • Ryan Howard sprawled for a wide throw at first to end the threat. He does move well for a big man and I say that with pride!

6th:

  • Howard dribbles a ball up the middle and Castro has to eat it.  Man, Howard can move…..say it with me…FOR A BIG GUY!
  • We are learning more then we need to know about Keith Moreland……current discussion is regarding odd jobs before his baseball days…..okay it’s kind of cool to know this stuff.
  • Len Kasper trying his hardest to jinx us…..talking about how you never feel comfortable in a game like this….meanwhile Dempster walks his second batter of the inning…..only one out.
  • Dempster gets out of the jam as he puts down two in a row. Why? You know why ….second half!
  • We just found out that Michael Brenly has extended his hitting streak to 14 games.  Does this mean Bob won’t be back anytime soon?
  • Starlin Castro gets his second hit of the night…..my pick to click!

Cubs 6
Phillies 2

7th:

  • Dempster got the first two but has allowed a few to get on base.  Piniella is going to pull him and put in Marshall.  If it was the first half, Lou would have left Dempster in and paid the price…..we are getting somewhere folks!
  • Marshall gets the job done….as usual.
  • What does this girl from dancing with the stars singing the seventh inning stretch have to do with the Cubs or Chicago? My wife just noticed that Len Kasper is leering at her in a weird way……so am I.
  • Wow, this guest conductor interview is going to be terrible.
    Yup, I was right. Painful…nails on a chalkboard.  She said it felt like doing a concert…..oh boy.  It was the seventh inning stretch sweetheart…..your still hot though.
  • Theriot got gunned down….. I think….too mesmerized by this girl from Dancing With The Stars…….she sounds like helium leaking from a balloon.
    Apparently everything she has done has been “ A dream come true” …..oh god, please stop.
  • Marlon Byrd got hit by a pitch to keep the inning going and Len Kasper sent her away. Usually they ask the seventh inning stretch guest conductor to stick around.  She was ushered out before the inning ended.
  • Aramis again!!!!!! Second two run double of the night down the left field line….Lee and Byrd score!  Aram-o-meter, let’s get it going!!!!!
  • Soriano bloops a ball into no man’s land in left and Aramis scores.  Floodgates are open and the bus is chugging along!!!!
  • Soto! Soto! Soto!  Two run dong and guess what….he was my beat the streak selection!!!!! Boo-yah!
  • Danny “Joan” Baez gives up a double to Castro……remember, my pick to click in the second half.

8th:

  • Marshall K’s Ibanez to end the 7th and Howard to start the 8th……how valuable is he?  I don’t have a “man crush” on Sean Marshall but there’s potential!
  • They just showed an 11 year old Phillies fan in the crowd.  He looked like he ate a bad hot dog or something.  I don’t feel bad for him as nine run deficits build character especially when you travel 700 miles to see it happen, something us Cubs fans know a lot about. Suck it up kid!
  • Cubs load the bases ….Baez in s0me trouble but has two outs. Are we sure this is the Phillies that came to town?
  • Soriano singles in a run……okay 12-2 are we safe yet?

9th:

  • If they brought in Marmol right now, you know… to get him some work, I think we would lose. Just me thinking out loud.
  • It’s Howry?  Wow Len just jinxed the heck out of us…..he said Howry has been a lot better with the Cubs then the D-backs.  I think I hear the Second Half Bandwagon engine conking out….oh boy, he walked the first batter!!!!!
  • Okay Len you did jinx him a bit.  Howry let’s in two runs!!!! One more out, come on Howry!!!
  • Oh my god, get him out of there!  Ryan Howard jacks his second Homer of the night!!! A two run shot hooking around the right field foul pole. Lou needs to remember this performance, this is not a one time thing…Howry is officially broken!  Actually Len didn’t jinx him he just sucks!
  • Cashner comes on and gets the pop out, cue the music…….thank you baseball gods.

Cubs 12

Phillies 6

Well, I am exhausted.  I just about did a play by play in a game recap blog post…..sorry everybody. Hope you enjoyed the first game of the second half.

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In the News: The Future (future, future, future)

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

I know newsrooms are supposed to stick to the present day and give the cold, hard facts on what’s going on. Generally, we stick to the “if it bleeds, it leads” dictum here at VFTB – or, in the case of Carlos Zambrano, “If he screams, he leaves.” But we never do anything nice and easy here. We like to do it nice … and rough. So today I’m going to whip out my Cubbie blue crystal ball, wave my hands around it in a manner that will make you all uncomfortable and tell you what I see. Here goes:

I see … Ryne Sandberg managing the Cubs next season. Wait, hang on, my crystal ball is issuing a caveat. Who knew crystal balls could issue caveats? Anyway, it’s saying that, assuming Lou Piniella does retire after this season (and most expect him to … I certainly do), if the choice for his replacement is between Ryne Sandberg and Joe Girardi, I think Ryno is more likely.

You may have read Sun-Times writer Gordon Wittenmyer’s article on Girardi earlier this week. And Al Yellon makes a strong, historical case for why Girardi would be a good choice. But, considering the Yankees are kicking holy ass this season (.636 winning percentage, two games up in the AL East) and could well be on their way to (groan) yet another World Series championship, I just don’t see Joe Girardi leaving NYC. Why would they mess with a good thing?

Ryno believes he’s ready and, given how this season is turning out, I believe Cubs management will look to Sandberg to be the “good cop” to Lou Piniella’s “bad cop.” Organizations often alternate managers in this manner – going from a tenured “old school” guy to a newer, more surprising choice. (Not that Ryno would be surprising to us, but he would be to anyone not paying attention.) And the Cubs could very well follow suit.

Naturally, other names may come up. Some fans were screaming for Fredi Gonzalez after he was fired from the Marlins earlier this season, but he’s likely headed back to Atlanta to take over after Bobby Cox retires. And let’s just leave Bobby Valentine on ESPN so we can change the channel when he comes on, OK?

I see … spring training staying in Mesa, Arizona. With the news that the rich guys from Naples, FLA have jumped in their swamp boats and whizzed back to their respective mansions (look out – gators!), and that Mesa is claiming to have met the Cubs financing deadline, all signs point to spring training taking place exactly where we’re used to seeing it. Well, I presume a shiny, new stadium will be built somewhere, somehow at some point. But this epic saga FINALLY appears to be winding down. You can thank me later for my exhaustive and erudite coverage.

I see … Derrek Lee headed to the West Coast. Hmmm, it’s hard to say from the image swirling around my crystal ball whether DLee is going out there to visit family or play for the Angels. But, I must say, Fox Sports Jon Morosi makes a pretty convincing, if brief, case (scroll down to “July 14 News and Notes”) for why Derrek would be a good fit for the Anaheim Baseball Team Based In And Around Los Angeles And Known Heretofore As The Angels.

If that does happen, I would guess we’d see Xavier Nady as our starting first baseman for a while. Although X has been a pretty huge disappointment so far this season (ugh … .288 wOBA in 156 PAs, negative WAR), that may not be a bad thing because I still think he’s a much better hitter than he’s shown, and he hasn’t exactly gotten regular ABs. I wish he’d get hot because he could make a good stop-gap first baseman next season while the team perhaps readies itself to sign Prince Fielder or Adrian Gonzalez in 2012.

I see … Tom Ricketts finally getting around to reading his favorite magazine, Forbes, and then promptly throwing it against the wall. Hey, Tom’s a busy guy, and he hasn’t gotten around to reading the new Forbes yet, OK? But he will, and when he does, he’ll read this article that pegs the Cubs as the “least efficient” (financially speaking) team in Major League Baseball this season. (Wait, hang on a sec, my crystal ball is now telling me that the article in question is actually a blogpost. Shutup, crystal ball!)

It’s costing the team over $2 million dollars per win (and precious few of those, no?) in 2010; whereas, say, the ridiculously overperforming Padres are spending a little more than $400,000 per win. One of the few bright sides to this season is that it might (we hope) be quickly and effectively educating the numbers-oriented Ricketts group on just how - and how not – to build an effective roster.

I see … Thomas Diamond and Darwin Barney on the 25-man roster. My crystal ball, stubborn as always, won’t tell me exactly when. But Diamond, a right-handed pitcher and former No. 1 draft pick, has performed very well at Iowa this year and just pitched two hitless/scoreless innings in the Triple A All-Star game. I’ve got to believe he’s going to force his way into the Cubs bullpen at some point soon – or at least get a September callup. As I may have mentioned here before, I liked what I saw of Diamond in spring training — he’s a big, imposing guy with decent velocity.

Also mentioned in that All-Star Game story is young squire Darwin Barney. I’m not sure he’s ever going to hit much (only a .709 OPS in 357 PAs so far this season), but he’s gotten very high marks on his defense. He could make a great middle-infield backup, who could occasionally be used to rest Starlin Castro and whoever’s playing second base. “The Purple Evolutionist” is another guy we could see in September.

I see … a post office named after Steve Goodman on Irving Park Road in Chicago. My, my – so specific, crystal ball. Waitaminute, now you’re just reading the newspaper! The only potential stumbling block to honoring the great songwriter could be that President Obama, a noted White Sox fan, has to sign off on the dedication. I smell veto.

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