Archive for April, 2011

GirlieView (04/25/2011)

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Happy Monday! Hope you all had an enjoyable weekend. We’re here to recap last week’s chit chat on VFTB, really good stuff and some movement in the season-long contest standings. First, let’s have a look at this week’s Lizzies.


  • So here McNutt is pitching in the big leagues for the first time and proud to have but what else, a three ball and no strike count on the hitter.
  • Trey McNutt is the best baseball name this side of Dick Pole.
  • ASININE… As in, what my wife thinks of my fantasy sports teams.
  • I have the full team set of dentist, tax attorney, b-list comedian, billy goat sound-alike rock star, chemical engineer and cardio thoracic surgeon bobbleheads that Doc Raker played against at 2007 Cub Fantasy Camp where he named himself Doc Raker after hitting .450 off a machine with real live bobbleheads playing defense. Only the Eddie Vedder replica has any value.
  • Sometimes one good hit is all it takes to get of the schnide.
  • Little Bip was a fixture at the top of my Earl Weaver Baseball lineups for many years.
  • If James Russell fans 10 tomorrow I’ll eat my keyboard.
  • I’ll cover mine with tabasco and eat it if he strikes out 7.
  • I never understood why a manager would trot out a middle-of-the-bullpen guy in a late and tied game and be surprised when he promptly gave up a run.
  • I’m no genius but can’t Buddy pick up the pace some and change the schedule to say work the next 146 games or so?
  • Not a whole lot of difference aside from the 160 points of slugging.
  • Pena still has his appendix.
  • Reminded me of Milt…maybe he’ll snap a bat over his knee next time
  • If I lose the .500 slugging wager, you can bet that I’ll be sending Doc Raker a Carlos Pena jersey. I may even get it signed.
  • if you lose that bet, send Raker a Pena jersey signed by Jeff Baker.
  • I’d like a Samardzija jersey…one with his name on the back. All of that tackle-twill alone would make it worth a lot.
  • I see your genius at work, once Pena signs it it becomes worthless and you can pick it up for $5 of the discount rack at Wrigleyville Sports, you are a genius.
  • Damn! My plan is foiled! I’ll have to move on to jswanson’s idea.
  • Rumor is he put all of them on at once and forgot he was wearing them…..walked right out the front door Lohan style.
  • Not to talk in the 3rd person but the Dragon mentioned the drafting of Lincecum in the comments section last week.
  • I’m curious how time in the Randy Hudley League factors into this equation. Some of those guys can really rake.
  • And this is just cruel–my security word is “zambrano.” True story.
  • The best thing about the Shark throwing two innings in game one is that we likely won’t see him in game 2.
  • The only good thing about James Russell starting the game is that he’s not available in the bullpen that day.
  • two things to remember..1) We are .500 and only have 3/5 of our starting pitching. 2) Soriano and Ramirez look like they came to play this season. Not sure I have witnessed this quick of a start from either guy in their entire Cubs career to date.
  • re: the 5th starter, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that it’ll be Doug Davis soon. It’s kind of like that feeling you get 4 hours after you eat taco bell — the feeling that something awful is about to happen.
  • I can’t believe I’m saying (typing) this, but I’d rather see Doug Davis starting than James Russell. I think I’d rather see Jeff Russell, Kurt Russell, and Nipsy Russell too.
  • how many SBs did we give up yesterday, like 18?
  • I’ll bite. So far our slugger has slugged out one double and eight singles, for ten total bases. Z has a single, double, and a long ball for seven. Awesome.
  • Finally, for now on, anytime I’m frustrated, disappointed, or just plain angry, I will be describing myself as Grabow. Like, Jeff Sa-garbage-bija makes me Grabow. Wing sauce that makes wings too hot to eat makes me Grabow. And John Grabow makes me want to Grabow someone square in their Grabows.
  • Anyone willing to defend Pena at this point is obviously someone I would enjoy playing sandlot ball against and be playground captians , you can even pick first. Your pick: I will pick Billy, he hits 1 HR every 100 AB’s, really far HR, really cool. Ok, my pick: tha guy who get’s hits almost everytime up. Your pick: Tommy, stikes out a lot but hit that double last June. My pick: Jimmy- .385 avg. Your pick: That kid who hit 40 bombs back in 4th grade. My pick: the kid that’s going to hit 40 bombs today.
  • The Mudcats give me media credentials, though it’s rare that I use them to conduct any interviews, primarily because I’m too lazy to wade through naked men in the clubhouse to get cliche answers to my questions.
  • I think one question would suffice. Or a glance.
  • Normally anything mentioning Grabow goes in the next section according to the memo I sent out to everyone about writing recaps, but today that wasn’t the case.
  • What went wrong: The game didn’t get rained out.
  • Letting Russell start a game is basically giving up.
  • As for Russell’s next start, I’m with Buddy. Hell, let COLVIN pitch.
  • Maybe Byrd or Pena could take Russell’s next start?? I’m normally a Hendry defender, but having Russell start ‘two actual MLB games that count in the standings, you know the standings that determine who plays baseball in October and who doesn’t’ is inexcusable.
  • One start I can live with, everyone gets caught off guard from time to time especially with two starters going down on the same day. But immediately following pitch one of Russell’s first start (and allowing time to down two Old Styles and three Advils), Hendry should have been moving Heaven and Earth to prevent pitch one of a potential second start.
  • I want to see [Russell] finish the season with about 70 games and 33 innings pitched.


  • Darwin doesn’t have to work hard to be a good hitter. He naturally selects good pitches.

Lizzie Standings

Each week I’ll post the cumulative standings for the Lizzie contest. Remember you get one point for each Lizzie and three points for a Lizard. We currently have 25 commenters with points. I’ve decided I’ll go ahead and give everyone some love instead of just the top 10, at least until the list becomes unmanageable. Great job everyone!

1. Buddy
2. jswanson
3. Doc Raker
4. Chet
5. Chuck
6. cap’n
6. Seymour
8. Aaron
8. JoeA
8. Rich Beckman
11. chris in Illinois
12. DavidMBeyer
12. Dragon
12. MJ
15. Deezer
15. Kris
17. Benjamin
17. Doug S
19. DannyB
19. Eric
19. greg
19. Mark
19. Randy
19. Ryno
19. Tim

The Weekly Aura

Our weekly aura took a nosedive this week, dropping from B to C. Each week I’ll tell you the previous week’s aura, and ask you to rate how you are feeling this week. When we’ve got a few weeks under our belts I’ll post a graph so we can watch how we’re feeling as the year progresses.

How are you feeling about the Cubs right now?
a.) Good. We’re on the right track.
b.) Ok. I’m still confident.
c.) Fair. I’m concerned.
d.) Poor. We’re in trouble.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (VFTB and/or Chet’s Corner and/or GirlieView ) and Facebook (VFTB and/or GirlieView)

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Game 21 – Rotation Woes Continue

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Dodgers 7 – Cubs 3

Box Score / Video Highlights

What Went Wrong

  • Carlos Zambrano allowed five runs in the top of the first.  Falling behind that early in a game makes it difficult to win.  Z left after allowing six total runs in five innings.  His ERA is now 5.28 as all five Cubs starters continue to struggle.
  • Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and Marlon Byrd all struck out in the first inning.  The Cubs scored twice in the frame but had a chance for more.  When Soriano struck out with runners at second and third to end the inning with the Dodgers leading 5-2, it was an early turning point in the game.
  • Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro each committed errors.  Castro’s blunder led to an unearned run.   Miscues at the big league level are never a good thing, but when these two guys commit errors it makes Cubs fans particularly uncomfortable.
  • Castro went 0-for-4, his worst performance of the season.
  • Former Cub Aaron Miles posted three hits to help set the stage for the middle part of the LA order.

What Went Right

  • Darwin Barney had another solid day at the dish, going 2-for-5 with an RBI.  He now has driven in 11 runs this season and has boosted his average to .329.
  • Justin Berg retired the side in order in his season debut.  After a rough spring training, it is important for the right hander to get off to a good start with the big club.
  • The Cubs offense was not silent in the thrashing.  It totaled ten hits, with multi-hit Easter Sundays turned in by Kosuke Fukudome, Barney, Ramirez and Marlon Byrd.

News & Notes

  • Today was Zambrano’s first loss since last August.
  • It  is not official, but it looks like the Cubs are leaning toward giving James Russell another start on Tuesday.  He worked a side session this weekend and be treated more like a starter this time around.  The Cubs hope that this will lead to better results.
  • The Cubs are now 0-4 on Sundays this season.  However, they are 3-0 on Mondays entering tomorrow night’s battle with the Rockies.
  • Quade showed a little fire today, arguing with third base umpire Jeff Nelson about whether or not Jerry Sands legally tagged on a fly ball before scoring in the first inning.

Stars of the Game
Based on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star – Aaron Miles (.155 WPA)

2nd Star – Hiroki Kuroda (.091 WPA)

3rd Star– Matt Kemp (.090 WPA)

Official Recap Standings

Buddy 3-0 (1.00)

Joe 5-5 (.500)

Mark 2-2 (.500)

Chet 0-1 (.000)

Brandon 0-3 (.000)

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The Minor League Week in Review

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Prospect Spotlight

Name: Brett Jackson
Age: 22
How Acquired: Drafted by the Cubs in the 1st round (31st overall) of the 2009 Amateur Draft

This week we shine the light on the top prospect in the system, in my opinion, Brett Jackson. He’s shone brightly to start the year and has many believing that he will be in the Majors sooner than expected. Perhaps as soon as June or July. I’m not ready to go there just yet, but I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen of Jackson to this point.

Jackson’s quick bat, loft in his swing and plus speed should make him an annual 20-20 threat in the Majors. He could stand to cut down his strikeouts, but he doesn’t swing and miss as much as some teams feared and should hit for power and average. Jackson gets good reads and jumps, has average arm strength and makes accurate throws. He’s not a true five-tool player or a pure center fielder, but Jackson does a reasonable impression of both. The Cubs are counting on him to crack their lineup in 2012, if not sooner” ~ Pre-2011 Scouting Report on Jackson from Baseball America.

So far, Jackson has hit the ball well and has improved the plate discipline. My only note would be that he’s in AA and not AAA. Not sure why the Cubs left him in AA this year, but my guess is that won’t be for long:

Year     Lev   G  PA   R 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG   OPS
2010   A+-AA 128 580 103 32 14 12  66 30 11 73 126 .297 .395 .493  .888
2011      AA  15  67  18  4  2  3  11  6  2 12  11 .404 .515 .731 1.246

News & Notes

  • Rafael Dolis left his most recent start early due to a back injury
  • Brian Schlitter was returned to the Cubs after an injury voided the waiver claim of the Yankees and the Phillies
  • Trey McNutt and Jay Jackson both returned from the DL this week. Jackson made his first start of the season and instantly needs to be considered for the empty spot in the Major League rotation.
  • Mark Prior was placed on the AAA DL with a groin injury. Oh wait, he’s not our problem anymore.

What They’re Saying

Each week, Jim Callis and Matt Eddy of Baseball America host a chat for readers to post questions. Here were the Cubs highlights from this week:

Q – When Matt Sczcur signed his contract with the Cubs in January you said if he were available in this draft he would be a first round pick. Now that we have seen the amount of depth in this draft do you still hold this opinion? Thanks

Jim Callis – This draft is loaded. But my point was is Szczur played as well this spring as he did last summer in his pro debut (translate his 347/414/465 line to college and what do you get?), he would have been a first-round pick with his combination of outstanding athleticism and performance. That kind of season and those kind of tools would put him in Mikie Mahtook territory somewhere in the middle of the round.

Q – Best case scenario for Brett Jackson…a healthy Grady Sizemore?

Matt EddyI really [like] Cubs Double-A CF Brett Jackson’s well rounded game, but I think a Sizemore-in-his-prime comp is a bridge too far. I’m tempted to say that Jackson could be a Curtis Granderson type as a lefty hitter who’s athleticism and defensive range might be a bit undersold. Granderson had similar over-the-fence power at Jackson’s age. Oh, and the strikeouts are always going to be part of the package.

This Week’s Discussion

his week, as part of the look at the farm system, I want to list the guys at each position that I root for most from a developmental standpoint. These are guys I really want to see be successful. I’d like to hear yours as well.

C – Steve Clevenger

1b – Rebel Ridling

2b – Bobby Scales

SS – Ryan Flaherty

3B – Marquez Smith

OF – Brett Jackson

OF – Tony Campana

OF – Matt Szczur

SP – Hayden Simpson

RP – John Gaub

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Game 20 – Cubs Win a Wild One

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Cubs 10 – Dodgers 8

Box Score / Video Highlights

My thanks for Joe for letting me write about this one – I flew in yesterday from Austin, TX and was itching to get back into the baseball season.  This game had something for every Cubs fan – some timely hitting, a little life on the basepaths and some downright persistence by the Cubs – they didn’t give up.  Some highlights of the game and observations:

What went right:

  • Castro and Barney are both hotter than a pair of two dollar pistols:  Combined they were 7 out of 10 with 4 runs scored and 6 RBIs.  Will these guys one day become a Daily Double?  One can only dream.
  • Aggressive baserunning:  I liked how Quade initiated the double steal in the third; later on Castro got caught dead to rights on a steal but he put his head down and went into second.  Loney pitched the ball to second and Starlin was safe, I hope a few young ballplayers saw this play and the wisdom of just running the play out instead of giving up.  Amusingly Barney was caught in the same situation later in the game but made the wrong choice, he stopped dead in his tracks about fifteen feet from second.  Fortunately James Loney blocked Barney’s return to first and Darwin was rewarded with a free pass to second on the Dodger first baseman’s error.
  • Quade made a smart decision going with an all righty lineup against Teddy Baseball – the Cubs executed 11 hits during Lilly’s 5 1/3 innings.  Mike also made a smart substitution in the ninth putting Carlos Pena in as a defensive replacement – he made a fine play to get a throw from Darwin Barney who went deep in the hole to steal a base hit away from the Dodgers.
  • The Cubs showed us a “never quit, never give up” attitude.  Their tenacity was rewarded with a win.

What went wrong:

  • Keystone Cubs:  The North Siders have to shore up their defense.  The first defensive lapse was by Castro – he appeared to intentionally drop a ball to get a double play.  The umpire then enforced the rule book calling a dead ball foul which gave the Cubs one out instead of two.  Starlin will improve on defense, that much we know.  Soriano also flubbed a play in left and there was a question in my mind as to why Quade didn’t substitute for Soriano after Lilly was pulled.  The Dodgers don’t have any lefthanded relievers and Soriano had already struck out three times.  C’mon Mike, you’re a hands-on manager!  Later in the game Soto had a throwing error on a stolen base attempt – the runner moved on to third and scored after a weak relay throw by Castro to the plate on a subsequent play.
  • Dempster is still running out of gas in the fifth and sixth and Mike Quade needs to wake up and smell the coffee.  Were I the Cubs manager I would have Ryan on an extremely short leash in the fifth – Dempster let LA get right back into the game and one bad pitch by Marshall resulted in a two run Dodger lead.  Fortunately the Cubs’ offense fought back.

Thankfully the Cubs came back and salvaged the win in rather spectacular fashion, it was a great game to watch and the Cubs will play the Dodgers again tomorrow for a shot at a rubber game victory.  The game will be televised on TBS as well as CSN.

Stars of the Game
Based on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star – Starlin Castro (.373 WPA)

2nd Star – Jeff Baker (.245 WPA)

3rd Star– Andre Ethier (.238 WPA)

Official Recap Standings

Buddy 3-0 (1.00)

Joe 5-5 (.500)

Mark 2-2 (.500)

Chet 0-1 (.000)

Brandon 0-2 (.000)


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Stat of the Week: Best Defensive Teams So Far

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

The Indians, Royals, and Rangers feature the three best records in the American League. Not coincidentally, they also feature three of the top-rated defenses thus far in 2011.

The 2010 AL Champion Rangers are hardly a surprise considering the addition of former Fielding Bible Award winner Adrian Beltre, but the Royals were supposed to be battling for the AL Central cellar, not the division lead. Kansas City upgraded defensively this offseason with Jeff Francoeur and Alcides Escobar. Though it’s still April, the moves appear to be paying off.

The Colorado Rockies sit on top of the National League, both in Wins and in Runs Saved. Last year’s Fielding Bible Award winner at shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki, has done it all on both sides of the ball.

Here are the top defensive teams of the young season:

Best Defensive Teams- 2011
Team Runs Saved
Rangers 14
Rockies 10
Royals 9
Cardinals 7
Brewers/Orioles 6

The Mets and Phillies rate as the worst defensive teams thus far. Only Angel Pagan and Pedro Beato have positive Runs Saved totals at this point for the Mets, who have cost themselves an estimated 26 runs (over two wins!) just with poor defense so far this year. An aging infield of Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, and Wilson Valdez has struggled in the field, making Fielding Bible Award winner Chase Utley’s absence all the more conspicuous.

Worst Defensive Teams- 2011
Team Runs Saved
Mets -26
Phillies -18
Mariners -17
Diamondbacks -16
Cubs -14

“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week®,”

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