Archive for August, 2010

In the News: What to do, what to do … with Big Z?

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Hello, Cubs fans. Whew! What a game last night. Did you know that if you combined the big league and Triple-A Cubs’ run production from yesterday, you’d get 34 runs? Yep, Iowa beat the Albuquerque Isotopes 20-9 yesterday while, as you presumably know, a sparse Monday night crowd at Wrigley witnessed the big boys trounce the Pirates 14-2.  The (MLB) Cubs now have a 4-9 record against the Bucs this year so, if they win the next two games in the series … well, they’ll still finish the year with an embarrassing 6-9 record. (69, dude!) But at least it’ll be somewhat less embarrassing. Anyway, let’s get on with the news:

So what do we do with Carlos Zambrano?  He’s 3-0 with a 1.84 ERA since returning to the rotation from the restricted list and initiating anger management therapy. His velocity is still somewhat questionable and his walks are still too high, but I guess you can’t argue with those results. (Uh, can you?) To be honest, he appears to me at the moment like a souped-up version of Carlos Silva — basically a ground ball pitcher who goes out there and battles through five or six innings (albeit with, as mentioned, a much higher walk rate).

So I ask you, loyal readers. Should the Cubs cast aside any plans they might have had to trade Big Z during the off-season, or should these better results actually fuel trade efforts. (You see, every other team in baseball, he’s still a starting pitcher! We were just kidding around with the bullpen thing! The line starts here!)

To be honest, I’m pretty open to arguments on both sides at this point. I’m no Z hater — I still think moving him to the bullpen early in the season was an embarrassing panic move (and Carlos himself recently said as much) and his overall season stats aren’t all that bad considering his uneven playing time.

Plus, as I’ve mentioned in past posts, the Cubs rotation for next season is chock full of middle- to lower-level starters without many higher-end guys. Now I’m not saying Big Z is a No. 1 or even a No. 2 starting pitcher at this point. But if he can pull himself together enough to be a No. 3ish guy next season, wouldn’t that — along with Demp — be better than nothing at the top of the rotation? Carlos is still only 29.

The benefits of trading him are, obviously, the Cubs could presumably, maybe (depending on the deal) shed some of his salary and lose the perennial distraction he’s become. But much depends on whether Jim Hendry feels that Zambrano’s relationship with the team really did hit the end of the road with this year’s meltdown. If it did, then Jimbo will presumably be pulling out the stops to move Z once the season is over.

Let’s have the Adam Dunn debate!  C’mon, everybody’s doin’ it. Marlon Byrd likes Adam Dunn, and Adam Dunn likes Wrigley Field. So should the Cubs sign the Big Donkey to be their starting first baseman next season? Maybe a two-year deal like the Nationals gave him? Three years, tops?

I’m loathe to use this phrase again, but “much depends” on whether the Cubs intend to pursue one of the Big Three (Pujols-Gonzalez-Fielder) first base free agents in 2012. Now I’d guess Pujols will remain in St. Louis, commanding a truly massive deal, and Gonzalez will either stay in San Diego (as the face of the franchise) or move on to Boston. That leaves Prince, who will be the youngest of the three and certainly familiar with the NL Central. Granted, he’s got some mountain-sized risks of his own, but Fielder is still the guy I’d go after if the Cubs are serious about putting a big name at first base.

If not, then Dunn would be a decent option as long as the price is right. He’ll turn 32 this fall, so the Cubs could still get a decent level of production out of him for at least a couple of seasons. Y’know, .500+ slugging and good OBP to offset bad defense (which is less bad at first base) and a high strikeout rate. Might be worth a shot.

A few miscellaneous notes:

  • An MRI on Geo’s knee came back negative and he’ll probably play tomorrow (Wednesday) in the season-series-ending game against the Pirates. Soto’s OBP currently sits at .401. Will he finish the season at or above .400? I hope so, though it would only serve to make me more frustrated with the fact that neither Lou nor Mike Quade will bat him higher than eighth in the lineup.
  • The Hawk mentioned being open to serving on Ryne Sandberg’s coaching staff, should Ryno get the Cubs managerial job. Imagine a staff with names like Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson, Greg Maddux, Bob Dernier and Ivan DeJesus. You couldn’t say the Cubs don’t promote from within.
  • I called it! It felt a little dubious to include former Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge in my latest Cubs Next Manager Power Rankings but, sure enough, Jim Hendry did interview the Wedgie last week. Here’s a handy resume to peruse.

That’s all the news I can muster today. See you next time, Cubs fans. And, remember, it’s not Quade-mania it’s Quaderophenia.

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Free Cubs Ticket for 9/1 game

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

I have four tickets to the game against the Pirates on Wednesday that includes a free lunch at Sports Corner before the game (minus alcohol). One of the guys that is scheduled to go with us may not be able to make it. If you’re interested in going in the event that he has to cancel, please send an e-mail to: with the following:

  • Name (and comment name you use on the site)
  • Age
  • Why you should be the one we choose to go with us
  • Phone # where you can be reached if selected. (I should know this evening.

To be able to win, you must be able to do lunch before the game.

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Game 131: Back to Earth We Go

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Winners: Reds

Losers: Cubs

The Cincinnati Reds showed the Cubs exactly what it takes to be the class of the division.  In a game that was as much a definition of the Cubs 2010 season, as it was a replay of the defensive weaknesses that plague the team, the Cubs lost 7-5.

I know what you are thinking, the Cubs scoring five runs  is in no way a common theme to this season, but the Cubs losing a close game, well that’s called hitting the nail on the head.

The Reds are simply doing what they need to be doing down the stretch….beating the teams they are supposed to beat, payrolls be damned.

I took a look at this Cubs team today and realized something, for the $130 million payroll that they carry there is not one player on this team that would be considered a star.  Not one player that strikes fear in the opposition.

Soriano is pretty much a clown to most opposing teams, as is Aramiz Ramirez.  Yes, their bats show some pop from time to time but their fielding is attrocious.  For every run they drive in they cost us two.  They are pretty much the closest thing to “star power” on the north side.

Today’s game was a seesaw battle that saw the Cubs go down 3-1, bounce back to tie it 3-3, then go down 5-3 and with the sweet swing of Fukudome’s bat on a two run homer to left center, they tied it back up at 5-5 just before the dreadful bottom of the eighth inning.

Jay Bruce managed to get on base in the bottom of the eighth (shocker, I don’t really need to see Jay Bruce anymore this season……we can call him the new Cub killer!)  Ramon Hernandez, the Reds catcher, shot a ball behind the running Bruce into right field. A good jump  had Bruce headed to third in what looked like a close play in the making.  Here is where the Cubs, or more specifically Aramis, took over.   Fukudome’s long throw from right came in a little off target but not by much.  Instead of getting in front of the throw Aramis did another one of his patented ole”, backhand stabs at knocking down the ball.  The ball got by him and the go ahead run, Bruce, scored.  Bob Brenly made sure to comment on the lackluster attempt at knocking down the throw.  Something tells me Aramis is not high on Brenly’s list?

At any rate, another ball was hit Aramis way in the next at bat and he made a flailing effort to make the stop, which of course failed and another run scored.  It  would make it 7-5 Reds and Cordero time!

In a close game the Reds did what they needed to do.  They moved the runners, made contact, and scored the runs.  The Cubs on the other hand did what they do best, which is find a way to shoot themselves in the foot.

Wake me when it’s 2012.

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Friday Discussion: Going to the Game

Friday, August 27th, 2010

This one is going to be short and sweet. It’s simply a question on your feelings for the rest of the season. Each game we continue to see Wrigley Field packed, despite the losing record of the team. As a Cub fan, do you think it’s wrong for those people to be showing up?

I ask the question because I am heading to Chicago with the family Saturday and in the process will be catching two games. I’ll be in attendance tomorrow in Cincinnati and then on Wednesday in Chicago against the Pirates.

Am I total tool for buying two games worth of tickets at this point?

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In The News: Cubs Win! Booooo!

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Greetings, Cubs fans. Are you enjoying “The Quade Bounce”? Yeah, I realize it’s only the perennial under-performing Washington Nationals, who recently had to DL their pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg AGAIN, but I still go to bed a little happier at night with a Cubs win in the books.

Of course, not everyone feels that way. I’ve read a few rants on these here Interwebz as of late decrying how the team is actually hurting itself by winning games and, thereby, lowering its 2011 draft pick position. Look, I understand this line of thinking and agree in a sense. About a month or so ago, I started wishing the Pirates were a better team this year so the Cubs could really hit bottom and get a better draft pick. Of course, as this chart (courtesy of Tales from Aisle 424) demonstrates, the Bucs aren’t the only problem. Remember, the Orioles, Diamondbacks, Mariners and Indians are also God-awful this year.

But, more to the point, I’d like to ask anyone truly angry that the Cubs are winning a few more games: Precisely what would you do to rectify the problem? I mean, if you, angry Cubs fan, were given a managerial or coaching position on the team, would you advise Starlin Castro to intentionally strike out rather than get a clutch hit, as he did last night? Would you advise Ryan Dempster to lower his strikeout rate? Would you engage Aramis Ramirez in a thumb war in hopes of causing a recurrence of the injury that plagued him earlier in the season?

I guess what I’m saying is: The remainder of the 2010 season is going to play out as its going to play out. Yeah, there would be a benefit to being the worst of the worst, but there’s really no realistic way of competing in that arena. So let it go, let the team play and let’s hope the young players get as much good experience as possible.

And now, on with the news:

Joe Girardi to address the Chicago media on the morrow.  The Yankees roll into town tomorrow to take on the contending (argh!) Chicago White Sox and their manager, Joe Girardi, is no dummy. He’s expecting the media throng to pelt him with queries regarding whether he would/will manage the Cubs next season, and Joe’s gone on record as saying he will answer those questions — one last time. Should be interesting.

Carlos Silva to swing by Peoria.  Rehabbing hurler Carlos Silva is expected to pitch a few innings for the Peoria Chiefs tomorrow (Friday) night. Assuming all goes well, he’ll likely be back in the Cubs rotation later next week. I’m curious to see how the team handles its starting pitching staff come September. I mean, Casey Coleman pitched pretty well the last time out. And I believe Jeff Samardzija is still going to get a chance or two. How are they going to fit these guys in with Demp, Da Gorz, Big Z, Wells and Silva firmly ensconced?

Speaking of pitchers … remember the Maine!  How am I supposed to remember him when I don’t know who the hell he is? In case you didn’t hear, the Cubs sent looks-like-a-knuckleballer Justin Berg back down the minors a day or two ago and called up left-hander John Maine. He was acquired in the Aaron Heilman deal and has yet to make an appearance for the North Siders. His strikeout numbers, noted by Bruce Miles in that article, look good. Maybe he’s the LOOGY the Cubs have long been looking for. Or not.

Sammy Sosa, on the record.  Maybe you’ve read it, maybe you haven’t. But click on that link for the full text of Sammy Sosa’s recent interview with Chicago Magazine. To be honest, I haven’t had a chance to read the whole thing but, from what I can gather, Slammin’ Sammy says precious little about the ‘roids issue.  Still, given Roger Clemens recent indictment and Mark McGwire’s apparent success with the Cardinals, the timing is interesting. Would you want to see the Cubs welcome Sosa back to Wrigley Field?

Andre Dawson Day: August 30, 2010.Yes, the Cubs will honor the Hall of Famer Hawk before Monday’s game against the dreaded Pittsburgh Pirates. I still think the timing is a little odd – why not do it on a weekend when more people will be there? But so it goes.


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