Archive for August, 2010

Funtastic Friday: Discussion(s) Time

Friday, August 13th, 2010

I sat down last night after watching the Cubs lose yet again and begin to put my thoughts together on a recap. There really wasn’t much that came to mind so I decided to instead throw some random questions out for discussion on this Friday morning. Let’s begin.

Fun Times At Wal-Mart – The other day I was at Wal-Mart, and after fighting my way around all the freak shows that shop there, I reach the checkout to pay for the few items I had in my cart. I was heading to a buddy’s house that weekend for a night of bocce, corn hole, and risk. I know it’s sounds like we’re a bunch of losers, but it’s fun nonetheless. All that said, I was charged with bringing supplies for the burgers. One of the items I had in my cart was a package of really good Sara Lee hamburger buns. These things were prime time. They were the Cadillac of buns, only out done by J-Lo. The cashier, who will remain nameless not to protect her identity but because I didn’t look at her tag, proceeds to pick up the buns to scan them and then squeezes them and comments how soft they are. I don’t know how you would react to this travesty, but it royally pissed me off. I picked out those buns strictly because of how beautiful they looked. Her squezing them before I had a chance to lay hands on them is like some dude getting freaky with your fiance’ on your wedding day. It’s just not right for someone to do that when that priviledge is reserved for you and only you. To make matters worse, I swiped my debit card and entered my pin only to have this goober hit the wrong key on her end, causing me to do it over 3 times and look the lime moron that can’t get the debit card machine right.

Question(s): Am I wrong for being mad at her for defiling my buns before I had the chance? Should I have turned to the people behind me and exclaimed that I’m not the one holding up the line with this debit stuff, it’s the cashier?

Snake Bite? – Keeping in theme with the dorked out guys game night, I returned home late that night and went to bed. That next day one of the guys that was in attendance told me about what happened to him when he returned home that night. He opened the door to his apartment and was greeted by a copperhead snake in his living room. Not a dead one as part of some sick practical joke, but rather a very alive one. If you know me or have read the site for awhile, you’ll know the fact that I’ve never seen a snake live in the wild. My only encounters with snakes are at the zoo when they’re in cages and when they are at someone’s house as a pet. Let’s just say I have a very healthy fear of snakes that would make Indiana Jones blush and so I’m very grateful for this fact. When I asked my friend what he did, he told me that he scared the snake into the bathroom, locked the door, and went to bed. That raises a couple questions in my mind.

Questions: Should this story have me even more afraid that I’ll run into a snake in the very near future? Would you have the guts to chase the snake into the bathroom or would you run like a little girl to your neighbors house? What do you do when you have to go to the bathroom, knowing the snake is probably still in there and hiding for an ambush when you open the door?

Leading off with Lou – I’m growing tired of the lineup that Lou routinely trots out there day in and day out with Tyler Colvin hitting leadoff. Obviously it’s the goal of every hitter in the lineup to get on base any way possible as many times as he can. However, it’s more important for the leadoff hitter over all others simply because over the course of a game and the overall season, he’s going to get the most chances to come to the plate. For some reason Lou has found it appropriate to put Colvin in that spot despite his low on base %, propensity for stike outs, and low batting average. Don’t get me wrong, I like Colvin. He’s on of my favorite Cubs. I don’t don’t like him in that spot.

Question: What do you think of Colvin as the leadoff hitter? Who would you have hitting leadoff?

Random Picture of the Day


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In the News: Where we at?

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Well, Cubs fans, I’m guessing we’ve all reached a point in the season where wins and losses really don’t matter much any more. In fact, if you really want to put a twisted spin on things, every loss from here on out ensures/enhances the team’s chances for a really good draft pick and, assuming that pick is handled well, a really good prospect. So there’s that.

As far as news goes, through no fault of his, Mark scooped most of the major stories in his game recap yesterday. Nonetheless, I thought I’d offer up a “Where We At?” post recapping the major changes of late and running down the current state of our wonderful 25-man roster. So, in no particular order, here goes:

Mike Fontenot traded to the San Francisco Giants for Evan Crawford.Turns out, I wasn’t all that far off the mark in my “In the News” post on Tuesday, wherein I joked that Fontenot had headed down to L.A. to go clubbing with Theriot. Each of the two crucial segments in the Cajun Connection will heretofore be located in the Golden State. Just remember, guys …

♪ ♫ You can check out any time you like/But you can never leave (CUE GUITAR SOLO!) ♪ ♫

Well, it was quite a run for Lil’ Babe Ruth. Acquired in the Sosa deal, called up in ’07 to very moderate success, exploding as a fantastic bench player in ’08 only to fall upon pretty hard times the last couple of seasons. Going into ’09, I had hopes that Fontenot would finally put it all together and solidify a spot as the Cubs’ starting second baseman, but that never happened. Some would say he’s not good enough, and that’s certainly possible, but I still don’t think he got a particularly fair audition. Remember, he’d spent only about a month or so as the starting 2B before being thrust into the hot corner following Aramis’ horrible injury. And since then, his playing time has been inconsistent to say the least. I’m not saying he’s a diamond in the rough or anything, but, well, you never know what might have been. In any case, I hope he serves the Giants well.

Crawford is, from what I can tell, a young version of car-jumping Cubs footnote Joey Gathright. A guy with fantastic speed who has trouble making contact with the baseball. When I first heard about the trade, I figured Crawford must be either really young or not particularly good, because it seems like the Giants really need outfielders. So I’m keeping my expectations low — if he can eventually turn into a decent fourth/fifth outfielder/pinch runner, this trade may turn out to be OK. Here’s a scouting report from Wrigley Bound.

John Grabow is done for the year.This isn’t exactly surprising, just depressing. I don’t mean depressing for our bullpen, just a little sad that Jim Hendry paid so much money for a guy who has done so little for the team. I realize it’s not exactly Grabow’s fault — his knee has probably been bothering him throughout the season, and I’m sure he wanted to pitch more and better. Still, this is where overpaying for a “veteran” relief pitcher really bites you in the arse.

Wellington Castillo called to replace Geo while Soto is on the DL for a sore shoulder.  I saw only about an inning or so of last night’s game, but all indications are that Castillo looked pretty good and showed off a great arm at one point. He also got his first MLB hit. His body type is very similiar to Geo’s; it’s going to be hard to tell the two of them apart. It’ll also be interesting to see whether they send him back down when Soto comes off the DL or DFA/release Koyie Hill. It’d be pretty harsh to release Koyie so late in the season, though, no? I know, I know … he can’t hit worth a damn. But Lou loves him.

Micah Hoffpauir has been called up to replace DLee, who is on the bereavement list while he tends to his ailing grandfather.  Not sure what more we can say about Micah. Seems like a great guy, but he’s not the future at first base. Welcome back … for a while … ?

UPDATE:  Carrie Muskat tweets that Derrek is expected to rejoin the team in St. Louis tomorrow.

Aramis Ramirez is nursing a sore rib cage and will be replaced at third base, for the time being, by Jeff Baker. I guess that partly explains who Fontenot was dealt and not Baker, though Blake DeWitt came up as a third baseman so, if Baker is dealt, the Cubs could put him at the hot corner now that…

…Darwin Barney has been called up.  As I tweeted last night, I was glad to hear about this. I’ve heard/read nothing but good things about Barney’s baseball acumen and solid glove. Don’t expect him to hit much; he basically profiles as a young version of Andres Blanco – the middle-infield defensive specialist we saw last year. But I think every team needs a guy like that.

Lou will return on Friday for the St. Louis series.  Comically, Tony LaRussa presumably won’t be in the dugout for the Cards as he’s been suspended for his loud-mouth shenanigans during the Reds-Cards dustup (or do you prefer “brouhaha”?) the other day.

Well, I think that just about sums everything up for the moment. So here’s where I’ve got the 25-man roster at:

Cubs 2010 25-man roster
 
Starting lineup
1. Tyler Colvin RF
2. Starlin Castro SS
3. Micah Hoffpauir 1B
4. Aramis Ramirez 3B
5. Marlon Byrd CF
6. Alfonso Soriano LF
7. Wellington Castillo C
8. Blake DeWitt 2B
Bench
9. Jeff Baker 2B/3B
10. Darwin Barney 2B/SS
11. Koyie Hill C
12. Xavier Nady 1B/OF
13. Kosuke Fukudome OF
 
Starting rotation
14. Ryan Dempster RHP
15. Tom Gorzelanny LHP
16. Randy Wells RHP
17. Carlos Zambrano RHP
18. Thomas Diamond RHP
 
Bullpen
19. Sean Marshall LHP
20. Justin Berg RHP
21. Andrew Cashner RHP
22. Marcos Mateo
23. James Russell LHP
24. Casey Coleman RHP
25. Carlos Marmol RHP
 
On the DL: Angel Guzman RHP (60-day), Carlos Silva RHP (15-day), John Grabow LHP (out for season), Geovany Soto C (15-day)
On the bereavement list: Derrek Lee 1B
And, forward, into oblivion, we go…
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A Guide To How Waiver Wire Deals Work After July 31

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

With the Cubs dealing Mike Fontenot to the Giants yesterday, some people are asking themselves: “Wait, I thought the trade deadline already passed!!!” It did, sort of. You see, there really is no “trade deadline”. You can make a trade any day of the year. The reason we talk so much about the July 31st deadline is because after that deadline, the process becomes a little more complicated. Let’s talk a little bit about how it works.

What are waivers?
Every team is allowed to place any player on the 40 man roster on waivers at any time during the season. When that player’s name is placed on the list, every GM in baseball sees it and has to gauge whether or not that player would be of use to them. If so, they can place a claim on them. If there claim is granted, that player will then go to the team whose claim was granted and they will pick up the rest of that player’s salary for the remainder of the contract and pay a $50,000 claiming fee. Basically, it’s a way to move players you don’t want without getting anything in return. Generally, only small name players are claimed. It can also be used as a way to gauge what teams are interested in a particular player.

Each team is allowed to place up to seven names per day and no player is allowed to be placed on waivers more than twice in a season. The first time, they are placed on revocable waivers. The second time, they are placed on irrevocable waivers.

What’s the difference?
There are revocable waivers, which basically means that a team can pull a player back (or change their mind) from the waiver wire in the event a team claims that player. There are also irrevocable waivers, which means a team must allow that player to leave if they are claimed.

So how do trades happen?
When a team is interested in dealing a player after the July 31st, non waiver deadline, they place that player’s name on the waiver list. If after 48 hours, no team has claimed that player, they have cleared waivers for the season and can be dealt after the non-waiver deadline with out fear that a team can claim them and block the deal. At that point, a GM may contact various teams to see what the interest might be. If a player is claimed by a team when placed on waivers, then they are the only team who can trade for that player. In other words, if the Cubs placed Derrek Lee on waivers today and the Cardinals claimed him. The Cubs would only be able to work out a deal with the Cardinals after July 31st. If no deal can be reached, then the team simply pulls that player back.

What if more than one team tries to claim a player?
There are two ways that team priority is determined for claims. For waiver wire trades, order is determined in reverse order of record, with the league that that player is in getting first priority. What that means is that when the Baltimore Orioles placed Tejada on waivers, all the American league teams in reverse order of record, got first crack at claiming him. If no one was interested, it went over to the National League in reverse order of record. Essentially, it means our best chance to get a player is to get one from the NL.

Before the July 31st deadline, waivers are determined by order of record, with the league not factoring it at all.

  • Waivers are required for assignment to the minor leagues for any player who does not have options remaining.
  • Irrevocable waivers are required to remove a player from the 40 man roster (i.e. Brian Dopirak) Hopefully that helps a little. If you have questions, I’ll do my best to answer them.
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Game 114: Oh Well….

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Tonight the Cubs lost 5-4 against the Giants. This game doesn’t disappoint me as the team is nowhere near contention; at this stage I’m looking at prospects and ignoring the results somewhat. Last year around this time I visited San Francisco and saw the Cubs beat the Giants twice; this ended San Francisco’s pursuit of a playoff spot. This year the scenario is basically the same but the Giants have a better team. I would recommend a visit to this city for a Giants/Cubs series, it’s a good ballpark and an even better city. Skip Fisherman’s Wharf however, it’s a tourist trap.

First the obvious news, the Cubs traded Mike Fontenot to SF for Single A prospect Evan Crawford (in 2009 he lead the Big 10 with 27 stolen bases for Indiana.) I like this trade because Hendry is continuing to exchange some of today for tomorrow. Guys like Fontenot will help out the team they are traded to and I wish Mike the best of luck. By the same token the Cubs will benefit by getting a young player who might add value in the future – Crawford appears to have decent speed on the basepaths – this also clears room for Darwin Barney on the 25 man roster. When you are dismantling a Major League team with bloated salaries you expect these kinds of moves – in other news Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez was forced to miss yet another game because of a nagging injury, this time to his ribcage. What will it be next week, a wisdom tooth? Let’s give him some time off like Lee, I’m not interested in what Aramis does as he doesn’t appear to be part of the rebuilding effort. Let’s see what Hendry (or his replacement) does with Aramis in the offseason. In my opinion he doesn’t add value although I’m thankful for his past contributions when he was healthy and motivated.

Significant events in tonight’s game:

  • Bottom 1st: Castillo gets his first ML start behind the plate. Bases juiced nobody out in the bottom of the first. Gorzellany clearly isn’t on his game. Buster Posey comes to the plate batting .341, he’s my favorite for Rookie of the Year. I’d like to see the Cubs trade Soto and Dempster to SF for Posey and a prospect – the Giants are a “now” team and the Cubs are rebuilding. It would be a great off season move. Posey sacrifices the run in 1-0 Giants, men on second and third. Base hit by Burrell to left Giants lead 3-0 man on first one out Uribe at the plate. Uribe strikes out on a slider. Base hit by Sandoval with two out. Fly out to Colvin retires the side – 3-0 Giants.
  • Top 2nd: Burrell nails DeWitt at the plate. I want to take a long hard look at Blake, I’m not convinced he’s part of our future.
  • Top 4th: Byrd pokes a leadoff homerun into the left field stands. 3-1 Giants.
  • Top 6th: Base hit by Castro to start the inning. Double by Nady scores Castro, 3-2 Giants with nobody out. Nady advances to third on a fly out to Rowand. Zito promptly gives up a single to Soriano and the game is tied 3-3.
  • Bottom 6th: Rowand hits a solo to LF. 4-3 Giants.
  • Top 7th: Colvin hits a HR to tie the game with one out. 4-4 ballgame. Next pitch hits Castro in the back, didn’t look intentional.
  • Bottom 8th: Burrell (Cub Killer) leads off with a homerun (5-4 Giants.) Why in the world did nobody sign this guy? Pat the Bat has always hit. Ground rule double for Sandoval, Berg is getting hit. If Trammel actually cared he’d go to the mound right now. I’m glad Alan has been given a chance so we can rule him out for next year.

So that was the ballgame. In other news most of us saw what happened when Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips decided to talk smack. It clearly didn’t go over with the Cardinals and fireworks ensued yesterday. It seemed to be a catalyst for the Cards as they proceeded to sweep Cincinnati and take the lead in the NL Central. If I were Dusty I’d have a talk with Phillips – after all, four of the Reds are former Cardinals. How will his comments help team morale? Phillips owes his team an apology methinks. Let’s see what happens next, Piniella will be back for the next series, not that that will make a difference. I’m more concerned about 2013.

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If You Thought This Year Was Bad…..Wait ‘Til Next Year!

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

I don’t like handcuffs.  Some of you do, and I understand, they are just not for me though.  The ability to have freedom of movement and use of my arms is a plus in my book.  The cubs on the other hand……well read on…..

I was perusing the list of entries I have made for this blog over the past three weeks and noticed something telling.  Check out the names of these titles in Chronological order:

  • 07/15 – Game 90: All Aboard The Second Half Bandwagon!
  • 07/20 -  Game 95: A Win For Lou
  • 07/28 -  Are We Still In It?
  • 08/02 -  Game 106:  Another Day , Another Game, Another Loss

I literally went from excited about our chances, to curiously wondering if I am an optimist in full bloom, to picking up the pieces of my special Cubbie Kool-Aid mug that literally slipped from my hands during one of the double digit margin losses we suffered somewhere at the end of July and start of August.

(By the way doesn’t it seem as though we have suffered a string of losses that blurred together in a mosaic as if it were happening in a parallel sports universe.  Kind of like we were being stabbed over and over but couldn’t feel it because we were already dead?)

Many would argue, and I hope you do, but I see little to gain from this point on.  I know, I know, we get to see the young guys play.  We get to see what’s in store for 2011!!! Yippee!!!!

Oh wait…..

Here lies the problem if you are a Cubs fan in 2010…….Who are we going to see?  Castro and Colvin have been here and contributing for a better part of the season.  Cashner has had his number called for weeks and the new shine has worn off.  Welington Castillo has been called up, his .259 BA in five Minor League seasons leaves me thinking “poor mans” Geovany Soto.

Let’s face it, as much as the Cubs want to start looking from within for talent, as Mr. Ricketts has said, they have a long haul ahead.  If you think about it, the youth is already here.

Which holds a bigger problem……does it really come down to money spending between now and the off-season to bring the Cubs back to a post-season contender?  All I see are handcuffs, big salaries paid to players that it would take a miracle to move or a major concession of cash on the part of the Cubs.  Hendry is going to have to pull off one of the largest overhauls in the history of pro sports in order to right this ship.

The more realistic and expected approach from the Cubs……To hope these once great ballplayers can play up to their ability again, as they have failed to do for two straight seasons.

Some will argue still that Ramirez , Soriano, and Lee (who could be gone…I say could) are not to blame.  They will say that these guys are great ballplayers and not the problem.  By my question to them would be, who else is supposed to plate the runs on this team? Fontenot? DeWitt? Castro, Colvin, and Byrd have more then done their part.  When we really need that hit, when we need that tough three, four, or five hole hitter it hasn’t been there consistently.  You know what this makes them….not great!

I want to take you on a little trip, it’s called the 2011 Chicago Cubs Flyover.  Put on your Rose colored glasses and the flight attendant will crank up the kool aid! Let’s fly over Wrigley on opening day 2011….oh wow! It’s sold out again!  Look no ivy!

“Who is that in left field?”

Why that’s Alfonso Soriano! Yup he’s here until 2014! (groans throughout the plane)

“Yah, Byrd is still in Center, he was our all-star last year!”

Oh yes, Marlon is here for his sophomore effort as a Cub, let’s hope he can replicate his 2010 numbers which were a career best.

“Tyler Colvin, he’s so dreamy!”

Oh yeah, Tyler is in right again, I mean with his stellar performance in 2010 what would you expect?

“Look Blake DeWitt and Starlin Castro in the middle infield!”

Yup we know what Castro can do but what about this DeWitt guy?  Why were the Dodgers so easy in parting with him?  I mean he was a first round pick a few years back (5th overall I believe) and we know how the Cubs love to hang on to their top picks until the talent literally rubs off of them.

“Hey, it’s Rammy, or A-Ram, or A-Rammy, or whatever you want to call him.”

Yes, I call him broken.  Guess what? He is still at third, he and his thumb, hip, back, shoulder, knee, and every other injury prone limb on his body.  Granted he is wonderful on a half season workload these days….except in 2010. hmmmm…..

“Hey, Look Big Z is punching out our new first baseman in the dugout!”

Folks, we’re gonna land the plane now. Our pilot is experiencing some sort of nausea and can’t seem to fly anymore.  Oops, he just threw up on the yoke!

Take a breath……

Do you see where I am going with this?  The team is not going to change as much as people want.  Our problem this season was offense and the only position based spot we have truly open is first base!  Does anybody wanna bet we see Derrek Lee again?  I have this nagging awful feeling that he wants to stay real bad.  We know how Jim can be with “his guys” when he looks out for them.  That being said, not much will change in the first eight spots of the order regardless.

We could have gotten past our pitching issues this season with some offense.  The Cubs had the same excuse for their offensive production in 2009…..”our big guns didn’t hit!”  Maybe those “Big Guns” of 2003, 2007, 2008 are not big anymore?  Maybe they are old rusty models?

My biggest concern for 2011 is not our pitching or our manager…..insert whoever.  It is our offense and our cornerstones.  I have said before that the great Casey Stengel couldn’t win with these guys playing at this level.

Along with the rest of Cub nation, I am not sure I can handle a repeat of 2009 and 2010, but the outlook is bleak.  We seem handcuffed for 2011, doomed to repeat the same frustrations.  I am hoping for a miracle……like finding the key to these handcuffs.

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Game 113: Victory At China Basin

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

The Cubs lost a game in extra innings last night (Monday, August 9th), but I was impressed.  As a team, they played well.  And as a team, they were managed well.

Tonight’s performance (Tuesday, August 10th) was also impressive.  The San Francisco Giants fell to the mighty Chicago Cubs, 8-6, at AT&T Park in China Basin.  As a team, the Cubs played well.  And, as a team, they were managed well.

Oh, there were plenty of defensive miscues, and  Aramis’ TOOTBLAN in the fifth inning was fairly indefensible, but when you win all that other stuff tends to fall by the wayside.

The Cubs lineup was perfectly balanced (lefty, righty, lefty, righty, etc.), which worked out nicely.  They scored four runs in the top of the first, and they scored two more in the top of fourth.  Two time Cy Young Award Winner Tim Lincecum was lifted for a pinch batter in the bottom of the fourth.  That ain’t chopped liver.

Tyler Colvin and Starlin Castro each singled, stole a base and scored in the first inning.  Also in the first inning, Aramis had an RBI single and Kosuke hit a two-run shot over the right field wall into the drink.  Starlin Castro had three RBIs for the evening.  Mike Fontenot pinch hit in the eighth and knocked a two-run double into right field.

Cardiac Carlos Marmol made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth, allowing two runs on four hits, before he shut things down.

Yes, I enjoyed this game.  I like the way the Cubs are playing right now.

A note for the insomniacs:  The Perseid Meteor Shower will be peaking tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday nights.  Those who know are anticipating 50-100 shooting stars per hour on those two nights.

It is recommended that you go outside someplace where it’s DARK, lie down and look up into the sky.  I wouldn’t miss it.

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In the News: Cubs scramble to fill 25-man after every player bails

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

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Hello, I’m Dat Cubfan Daver and this is DCD 360. Tonight we have BREAKING NEWS about the Chicago Cubs. According to unconfirmed reports, the team’s General Manager Jim Hendry was seen shrieking into his cellphone earlier today as he tried to refill the Cubs 25-man roster after every single player in uniform for last night’s depressing 4-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants asked to be placed on the disabled, bereavement or restricted list before tonight’s game.

As many of you may know, the team’s manager Lou Piniella left the team to care for his ailing mother. First baseman Derrek Lee followed suit yesterday, departing for Sacramento to be with a sick grandparent while catcher Geovany Soto hit the DL. And, of course, starting pitcher Carlos Silva is recovering from cardiac surgery.

Not to be outdone, starting left fielder Alfonso Soriano told the team that his best friend in the world — his Hummer — is suffering from severe transmission problems and needs his support immediately. Utility infielder Mike Fontenot informed interim manager Alan Trammell that he appreciated the two meaningless at-bats yesterday but, with Blake DeWitt on the team, he doesn’t have a sno-cone’s chance in hell of playing anyway, so he’s heading south to go clubbing in L.A. with Ryan Theriot. Carlos Zambrano simply got a note from his Anger Management Therapist, informed the team that his arm felt “crampy” after walking seven batters, and headed for an undisclosed location Ozzie Guillen’s place.

Left-handed reliever John Grabow was spared having to make an awkward excuse because he’s already injured and has been for the most of the season. Currently on a rehab assignment in Arizona, Grabow was expecting to rejoin the team on its next homestand — but he’s not making any promises.

Meanwhile, one-time starting right fielder Kosuke Fukudome was spirited away in a limosine by a group of sunglasses-wearing Japanese businessmen. His tersely worded (er, lettered) statement to the team, sent via text message, was simply “BRB.” Could Kosuke’s abductors be representatives of his former Japanese team, the Chunichi Dragons, seeking to reacquire him? As Bruce Miles mentioned on his blog this past weekend, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the Cubs might consider just such a deal. (Read the paragraph immediately below the lineup.)

The rest of the team made similiar excuses and vacated the team’s hotel in San Francisco, leaving behind nothing and no one besides Marcus Mateo wrapped in duct tape and wearing a princess tiara. (It’s a rookie thing.)

Perhaps the most tragic aspect of the whole sordid affair is, just as the last active Cubs player cut and ran from the Sheraton San Francisco, first baseman Micah Hoffpauir and catcher Wellington Castillo came stumbling into the hotel lobby. When the two attempted a hasty retreat, Cubs GM Jim Hendry barred the lobby doors like Antti Niemi, whipping his cellphone around like a hockey stick.

Stay tuned to DCD 360 for further updates.

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In other news, if you live in the Chicago area, don’t miss the upcoming screening of famed film documentarian Ken Burns’ new project “The Tenth Inning.” This is highly anticipated sequel to Burns’ multi-part “Baseball” documentary that aired in 1994. Cubs fans will particularly enjoy a close-up look at Sammy Sosa’s historic 1998 home run chase with Mark McGwire.

A private screening will be held on Thursday, August 19th, at 6:30pm at The Bank of America Theatre (18 West Monroe Street). Tickets can be purchased by visiting wttw.com/events or calling (800) 775-2000.

And if you can’t make the screening, “The Tenth Inning” is scheduled to air September 28 and 29 on PBS.

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Game 112: And Down The Stretch They Come!

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Coming into Monday, the Cubs were a dismal 47-64, including 20-32 on the road. Despite the ugly numbers, I was actually excited about watching tonight’s matchup vs. the second place San Francisco Giants. After all, Chicago’s Drama King was on the hill.

As irritating as Carlos Zambrano has been this year, there is still something fascinating about him. Perhaps it’s the potential for a world-class meltdown, complete with smashed coolers. Or maybe it’s the hope that Lou Piniella will one day blow his stack and try to teach him a lesson, a la the famous Rob Dibble incident. At any rate, a Big Z start is appointment television.

The Cubs started quickly against rookie Madison Bumgarner, staking Zambrano to a 2-0 lead. Obviously feeling guilty about the rough treatment, Carlos tried to give the game right back to the Giants in the second inning. After walking the pitcher to load the bases, the former Cubs ace wiggled out of a mess by striking out Andres Torres. Bullet dodged!

Big Z was back at it again in the bottom of the 3rd, but some nice infield defense bailed him out of trouble. Somehow five walks through three innings resulted in zero runs for Bochy’s boys. Miraculously, the Cubs stranded two more baserunners in the 4th.

The Giants 5th started with, you guessed it, another walk. Somewhere in Texas Mitch Williams was smiling. A Renteria single, a Posey double, and a wild pitch tied the game. Thanks to a rotten at bat by Pablo Sandoval, Zambrano managed to keep it close. After 95 pitches and 11 baserunners, Big Z got the hook. That may have been the luckiest five innings I have ever seen.

Tyler Colvin gave the Cubs the lead in the 6th, but the bullpen provided spotty relief.  Berg and Russell tossed a little fuel on the fire, and the Giants tied things up in their half of the inning. Andrew Cashner successfully navigated a rocky inning+, then it was time for the usually reliable Sean Marshall.

Right about that time, a storm knocked out our Direct TV signal. Ugh! My first impulse was to craft a dramatic ending that would make Roy Hobbs proud. Instead, you can probably guess what actually happened: extra innings, squandered opportunities, and another road loss.  Glen Close wasn’t in the stands either.

And now for some random thoughts:

  • Koyie Hill is a terrible hitter. Here’s hoping the Cubs upgrade the backup catcher position next year.
  • Marlon Byrd has been much better than I expected. He should be a nice placeholder in CF until Brett Jackson is ready.
  • I still enjoy watching Carlos Zambrano swing the bat. He’d be a ton in slow-pitch softball.
  • Tyler Colvin has been a pleasant surprise, but he must improve his strike-zone judgment.
  • “Kung Fu Panda” is the best nickname in all of sports.
  • “Rammy” is the worst nickname in all of sports. Nice effort Mr. Brenly. Very creative.
  • The 2010 Cubs have plenty of problems, but how about a team on-base percentage of .323? Brutal.
  • SARCASM ALERT! It’s a good thing Jim Hendry brought back John Grabow.
  • With Thomas Diamond on the roster, it’s only a matter of time before Dustin Diamond sings “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.”
  • Speaking of “Saved By The Bell,” do yourself a favor and Google “Mr. Belding and Steel Panther.”
  • I hope Alan Trammell gets another shot at managing, although it probably won’t be in Chicago. He got a raw deal in Detroit.
  • I have a bad feeling that Xavier Nady will be the Cubs 1B in 2011. If that doesn’t make you feel better about Derrek Lee, nothing will.
  • In other NL action, Hunter Pence walked twice tonight for the Astros. The end of the world must be near.
  • John Miller is a really good announcer with a really big melon.
  • The only thing better than west coast baseball is west coast baseball and cold beer. Proud to be an American!
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A Tale of Two Diamonds

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Yesterday we saw start # 2 for Thomas Diamond. It’s safe to say that it didn’t quite go as well as the first start. That got me curious about some first career starts for the Cubs. I put together a list of the first career games for starting pitchers for the Cubs since 1990 and ranked them by game score below.

Player Date Opp IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit Str GSc
Shawn Boskie 1990-05-20 HOU 9.0 5 1 1 1 6 1 117 76 78
Amaury Telemaco 1996-05-16 HOU 7.0 1 0 0 4 6 0 111 68 77
Ryan O’Malley 2006-08-16 HOU 8.0 5 0 0 6 2 0 109 60 68
Frank Castillo 1991-06-27 PIT 8.0 5 2 2 1 2 0 99 64 65
Steve Trachsel 1993-09-19 FLA 7.0 4 2 2 1 5 1 109 68 65
Juan Cruz 2001-08-21 MIL 6.0 3 2 2 1 8 0 84 52 65
Mark Prior 2002-05-22 PIT 6.0 4 2 2 2 10 1 103 65 64
Bob Scanlan 1991-05-07 HOU 7.0 5 1 0 3 1 0 93 58 63
Kyle Farnsworth 1999-04-29 FLA 6.0 6 2 1 1 5 1 92 60 58
Thomas Diamond 2010-08-03 MIL 6.0 7 3 3 3 10 0 122 77 53
Scott Downs 2000-04-09 CIN 6.1 5 3 3 6 4 2 108 59 49
Geremi Gonzalez 1997-05-27 PIT 5.1 6 3 3 3 6 1 96 59 47
Lance Dickson 1990-08-09 STL 6.0 8 3 3 1 3 0 82 52 46
Kerry Wood 1998-04-12 MON 4.2 4 4 4 3 7 0 102 62 44
John Koronka 2005-06-01 LAD 5.0 6 3 3 3 4 1 98 64 44
Angel Guzman 2006-04-26 FLA 5.0 6 3 3 4 5 1 87 52 44
Juan Mateo 2006-08-03 (2) ARI 5.0 6 3 2 3 2 0 88 54 44
Phil Norton 2000-08-03 SDP 5.0 5 4 3 4 4 1 91 52 43
Sean Marshall 2006-04-09 STL 4.1 4 4 4 1 2 1 65 42 40
Joey Nation 2000-09-23 STL 5.1 6 5 5 6 6 1 103 53 36
Turk Wendell 1993-06-17 STL 3.2 8 5 5 2 2 0 69 41 25
Carlos Zambrano 2001-08-20 (2) MIL 4.0 4 7 7 4 3 1 70 41 25
Brian McNichol 1999-09-07 (2) CIN 4.0 8 6 6 3 4 3 89 47 23
Steve Smyth 2002-08-06 SFG 3.0 6 7 7 1 2 2 66 38 20
Sergio Mitre 2003-07-22 ATL 3.2 10 8 8 3 0 1 70 40 6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/6/2010.

Diamond’s game, while not at the top of the list, was the first time a pitcher had struck out 10 in his debut since Mark Prior did it. That got me thinking about the worst outings ever for the Cubs in their big league debut as a starter. Here is what I found:

Player Date Opp Rslt IP H R ER BB SO HR GSc
Sergio Mitre 2003-07-22 ATL L 4-8 3.2 10 8 8 3 0 1 6
Fred Fussell 1922-09-23 (1) BSN L 4-8 7.0 14 8 7 5 2 0 16
Steve Engel 1985-07-30 STL L 3-11 3.0 6 6 6 5 1 1 19
Steve Smyth 2002-08-06 SFG L 10-11 3.0 6 7 7 1 2 2 20
Don Elston 1953-09-17 PHI L 4-16 3.0 8 6 6 0 1 0 20
Brian McNichol 1999-09-07 (2) CIN L 3-10 4.0 8 6 6 3 4 3 23
Carlos Zambrano 2001-08-20 (2) MIL L 2-10 4.0 4 7 7 4 3 1 25
Turk Wendell 1993-06-17 STL L 10-11 3.2 8 5 5 2 2 0 25
John Flavin 1964-08-25 HOU L 4-5 2.1 6 5 5 2 2 0 25
Dick Burwell 1960-09-13 CIN L 6-8 5.0 6 6 6 3 0 2 28
Johnny Klippstein 1950-05-03 PHI L 2-5 4.0 9 4 4 2 2 2 28
Charlie Gassaway 1944-09-25 (1) PHI W 7-6 8.0 13 6 6 7 4 1 29
George Stueland 1921-09-15 PHI L 3-6 4.0 6 5 5 3 2 0 29
Dick Ellsworth 1958-06-22 (1) CIN L 2-6 2.1 4 4 4 3 0 0 30
Drew Hall 1986-09-14 PIT L 2-9 4.0 4 5 5 4 1 0 31
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/9/2010.

And just cause you know you’re curious, here are the worst debuts for any team since 1920:

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt IP H R ER BB SO HR GSc
1 Arnie Munoz 2004-06-19 CHW MON L 14-17 3.0 10 11 11 3 1 2 -7
2 Mike Busby 1996-04-07 STL ATL L 3-13 4.0 9 13 8 4 4 4 2
3 John Stephens 2002-07-30 BAL TBD L 3-10 3.0 10 9 9 1 1 3 3
4 Jim Johnson 2006-07-29 BAL CHW L 11-13 3.0 9 8 8 3 0 1 6
5 Casey Daigle 2004-04-09 ARI STL L 6-13 2.2 10 8 8 0 0 5 6
6 Sergio Mitre 2003-07-22 CHC ATL L 4-8 3.2 10 8 8 3 0 1 6
7 Fred Heimach 1920-10-01 PHA WSH L 3-13 5.0 13 9 8 1 0 0 6
8 Kyle Denney 2004-09-14 CLE DET L 3-11 3.1 10 8 8 2 1 2 7
9 Bill Perrin 1934-09-30 (1) CLE CHW L 5-9 5.0 13 9 8 2 3 0 8
10 Charlie Zink 2008-08-12 BOS TEX W 19-17 4.1 11 8 8 1 1 0 9
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/9/2010.
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