Archive for May, 2011

Game 47 – Hurry up and rain!

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Cubs 4, Mets 7

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

The following is a recap from guest contributor, Norm Bothwell.

What went right:

  • Cubs come out of the gate with guns blazing, scoring four runs in the first. Kosuke Fukudome and Carlos Pena each had a walk (who else?!) and both came around to score. Reed Johnson and Alfonso Soriano came through with runners in scoring position and two outs, each hitting a double and collecting two RBI.
  • James Russell pitched 3.2 innings and gave the fans a sarcastic cheer by throwing a first pitch strike in the wake of the Berg disaster. He ended up giving up a run off a few singles and a sac fly by the Mets pitcher, Dillon Gee

What went wrong:

  • Cubs offense got ONE more hit (and zero walks, of course) after that first inning outburst.
  • Casey Coleman was hittable and Quade gave him the quick hook in the 2nd inning. His line ended at 1.1 innings, 7 hits, 6 runs, all earned, 1 BB with no strikeouts. He has more walks than strikeouts on the year.
  • Two of those earned runs scored thanks to Justin Berg, who replaced Coleman and proceeded to throw twelve (TWELVE!!) consecutive balls, allowing two men to score, and gets replaced without throwing a strike. Berg’s doesn’t strike many out, he walks too many, and he’s rather hittable. The only positive is the lack of home runs he gives up. He won’t be a major league pitcher for very long.
  • The rain came too late.

Draft thoughts:

Baseball America came out with their Top 200 prospects for the upcoming June draft. I’ve noticed that a few of the experts see the Cubs taking high school Mr. Everything, Bubba Starling, with the ninth pick who BA has ranked as the #2 hitter behind Anthony Rendon. He’s a five tool athlete who is committed to the University of Nebraska to play centerfield in the Spring and quarterback the Huskers in the Fall. An up-the-middle, raw, athlete? Yup, sounds like the Cubs. He’s expected to fall to number nine due to his expected bonus demands. The draft is strong this year with college pitching. A name I’ve seen linked to the Cubs is Sonny Gray (#12 overall prospect), a short right hander the Cubs selected in the 27th round of the 2008 draft. If you like him you see a top of the rotation pitcher with a 94 mph fastball and hammer curve, arguably the best 1-2 punch in the draft. If you don’t like him, you have a shutdown closer. Most reports currently have him falling out of the top 10.

A pitcher I’m interested in is Texas junior, Taylor Jungmann (#8). A 6’6” right hander that controls the strike zone with a 93 mph fastball and a 78 mph curveball. Imagine, a Cub pitcher that doesn’t walk many guys. A man can dream!

Tom Ricketts said they are going to build from within through the farm system. With this years draft reported to be the strongest in years, it’s time to walk the walk and not be afraid to pay what it takes to get Starling if he falls.

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

1st Star– Carlos Beltran (.219 WPA)

2nd Star –Reed Johnson (.163 WPA)

3rd Star– Daniel Murphy (.146 WPA)

Official Recap Standings

Mark 6-3 (.667)

Buddy 3-3 (.500)

Joe 9-10 (.474)

Brandon 1-4 (.200)

Chet 0-2 (.000)

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Chet’s Corner: Sports Bucket List

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

I got a text message today that Chet was going to be unavailable to write his weekly piece due to work commitments. Since when does work come before VFTB? Instead, you’re stuck with me this Wednesday afternoon on short notice. I have to warn you, editorial column type posts are not my strength, but I’ll try to get you through it.

We’ve all heard of the bucket list concept when it comes to living life. Heck, maybe you’ve even been treated to the movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman about the concept. Side note, I’d highly reccomend that one over another Nicholson movie, About Schmidt where you’re subjected to a very naked Kathy Bates in a hot tub. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, the concept goes a little like this:

You make a list of all the things you want to accomplish in all facets of life before you “kick the bucket”. Instead of applying it to my whole life, I’d like to present my sports Bucket List in abbreviated fashion.

Visit Fenway Park – I hate the Red Sox, but there is something magical about old ball parks. I’ve been to Old Comiskey and Old Yankee Stadium, but never Fenway.

See a No Hitter Live – I don’t really have a requirement that I need to be in attendence. I simply want to watch a game from start to finish, live. The closest I’ve ever seen is a Zambrano start against the Diamondbacks a few years back. You may ask why I don’t count the Zambrano no hitter in Milwaukee. It’s because I was blacked out for that game and couldn’t watch. I had every intention of watching the Randy Johnson perfect game against the Braves, but instead went to Wal-Mart with my wife. Ugh.

Attend a Duke / Carolina game – If you don’t live here in the tobacco road area, you don’t understand how much hype the game gets. I’ve been to a game at the Dean Dome and it was a crazy experience. I can’t even imagine what it would be like for that rivalry.

Visit the Four Major Sports Hall of Fames – I’ve been to Cooperstown already, though it was way back in 1996. That leaves three to go with the most likely one being Canton since it’s somewhat on my way to Chicago on a road trip.

Stand on the Pitchers Mound at Wrigley Field – Seriously, how cool would that be?

See the Cubs / Illinois Basketball Win the Championship – If  you had to pick which would happen first, which would you pick?

Hit a Hole in One – I say it every time I talk about this. When it happens, it will be my last golf shot ever. I’m going out on top.

There you have it. Now I want to hear your list.

 

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Game 46 – Cubs dominate the Mets

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Cubs 11, Mets 1

Box Score / Highlights


Tonight was a fun game to watch as the Cubs administered a beat-down on the Mets.  All things considered the damage was 11-1 as the Cubs gave the hometown fans something to cheer about.  Some highlights for the game:

What went right:

  • Offense offense offense:  The Cubs scored frequently and put the Mets away in the second.  The second inning was orgiastic as the Cubs plated five runs compliments to Ramirez (a single,) Montanez (a double,) and an RBI by Barney (who is tied for the lead in RBIs.)  Castro singled and the Cubs lead 5-0.  The Cubs tagged on two more runs in the fifth and sixth and then blew it away in the seventh.
  • Dempster pitched a strong game:  Ryan went into the game with a league-worst 6.91 ERA and came out with a 6.29 ERA.  All told his line was 7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER , 5K and 1 BB.
  • We didn’t make the defensive miscues, the Mets did:    Ronnie Paulino made a couple of defensive miscues which lead to the Cubs victory.  And Soriano made a shrewd play on a carom off the left field wall in the fifth.  Sometimes he looks comical out there, tonight he didn’t.
  • Great contribution by Cubs’ role players, particularly Lou Montanez.  I remember when this guy was drafted third overall – he was a hot-shot shortstop prospect out of Florida.  Things didn’t work out and he was let go; Andy MacPhail gave him a shot in Baltimore and he ended up with a minor league contract where he started in Chicago.  It was great to see him have a good game although I’m not sure he has what it takes to stick.  Personally I like Campana better.
  • Mop up:  Congratulations to Grabow and Samardzija for good relief, particularly the Shark who struck out the side.

What went wrong:

  • Nothing, unless you want to consider the Mets’ defense.

Other notes:

  • Today the Cubs put Matt Garza on the DL retroactive to the last date he pitched.  They said it was because of a bone bruise and I’m not reading much into it, he should be back soon.  Randy Wells seems to be slated to start Saturday’s game in his place and the MRI on Cashner came back negative.  I’m not sure Andrew will pitch again this year and quite frankly I’m not sure what his future will entail.  Shoulder injuries are a whole lot different than elbow problems, this year isn’t going to be one in which I see Cashner making a contribution.  We will see what happens but Andrew Cashner’s stock is much lower in my portfolio.

On this date in baseball history:

  • 1935:  The first night game was played at Crosley Field in Cincinnati.  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt pressed the button to turn the lights on.

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

1st Star– Ryan Dempster (.188 WPA)

2nd Star –Lou Montanez (.139 WPA)

3rd Star– Darwin Barney (.105 WPA)

Official Recap Standings

Mark 6-3 (.667)

Buddy 3-3 (.500)

Joe 9-10 (.474)

Brandon 1-4 (.200)

Chet 0-2 (.000)

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Cubs / Mets Series Preview

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Ryan Dempster vs. Joe Niese

Dempster gave up four runs in a shaky frame against the Marlins, and he allowed five runs on eight hits over five innings total for a no-decision. He will try to bounce back against the Mets, but their current roster is batting .365 against him. Niese will look to keep the momentum going after a stellar outing against the Nationals at Citi Field on Wednesday. The lefty threw seven scoreless innings and notched seven strikeouts. Niese is 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA against the Cubs all-time.

Casey Coleman vs. Dillon Gee

Coleman impressed in his latest start Thursday, shutting out the Marlins over 5 2/3 innings to win for the first time since April 16. He struck out a career-high seven. Coleman is 0-2 with a 9.69 ERA in three starts at home this season. Dillon Gee had the best outing of his career Thursday against Washington, holding the Nats scoreless for 7 2/3 innings — the furthest into a game he has pitched. He had a no-hitter through 5 2/3 before it was broken up by Livan Hernandez.

Carlos Zambrano vs. R.A. Dickey

Zambrano will be happy to get back to an NL ballpark where he can hit. In his last start in Boston, he gave up three runs, seven hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings. He faced the Pirates in his first start of the year, but did not get a decision. The knuckleballer had a 7.36 ERA in May before a strong outing at Yankee Stadium on Friday. Dickey struck out six and allowed one run — a Mark Teixeira homer — in six innings. The Cubs rocked him for seven runs in his start against them last year.

Joe Janish scouts the Mets

Who’s Hot – Before Sunday’s loss vs. the Yankees, infielder Justin Turner had an 8-game hitting streak, an RBI in 7 consecutive games and reached base in 12 straight. During his hitting streak he hit .424 (14-33) with six doubles, one run and 12 RBI. In short, he WAS the Mets offense for about a week — and when his streak was snapped, so were the Mets. Jose Reyes has been hot since Opening Day, leading the NL in hits (62), triples (6), multi-hit games (20), and stolen bases (17), and is tied for second in doubles (14). Francisco Rodriguez keeps everyone on the edge of their seats, but he’s converted 13 consecutive saves and won the one game he blew.

Who’s Not – Carlos Beltran started out hot, but is 4 for his last 20 — a bad time to go into a slump considering that sluggers Ike Davis and David Wright are on the DL. Jason Bay is 5 for his last 14, but his season has been marred by fits and starts; he’s hitting only .234 on the season with a .662 OPS and 8 RBI in 26 games. Lefthanded-hitting catcher Josh Thole looked good for the first two weeks of the season, but has been spiraling downward since Ronny Paulino joined the club; Thole is 2 for his last 27 and hitting .204 with a  .522 OPS. Thole is also struggling defensively; he already has 7 passed balls, has caught only 6 of 31 attempted stealers, and has had communication problems with some of the Mets pitchers. Oh, and he quit his Twitter account.

News / Notes – The Mets pitching — and the bullpen in particular — has been a surprise thus far. Unfortunately, the offense has been underwhelming and streaky. Injuries have also hurt the Mets in this young season; Bay and Paulino began the year on DL, lights-out reliever Pedro Beato just came off, Angel Pagan has been on it since April 21, and he was recently joined by Davis and Wright.  The Mets have already positioned six men at second base, but may have finally found a semi-permanent solution in the hot-hitting Turner.

Prediction – Looking solely at the pitching matchups, I like the Mets chances in games two and three. Dillon Gee has ordinary stuff but is getting by on guile and advantage of mystery — most MLB batters haven’t seen him before and the scouting report on him is still incomplete. And although knuckleballer R.A. Dickey has fallen back to Earth this year, he does have days when the knuckler dances — plus, I think the one pitcher the Mets offense has a chance to score against is Doug Davis. Being a pessimistic Met fan, though, I’m expecting the Cubs to take at least two of the three games.

Joe blogs about the Mets on his blog, Mets Today

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Chicago Cubs Cookbook

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The complete title of this book is “Chicago Cubs Cookbook – All-Star Recipes From Your Favorite Players”. It is edited by Carrie Muskat, and was published in 2010.

First let me say that proceeds from the sales of this book benefit the Dempster Family Foundation. That’s a good thing!

Secondly, I cannot tell a lie: I have not, as yet, tried to make any of these recipes. But I intend to!

Thirdly, I enjoyed reading this book. It’s easy to get too caught up in the wins vs. losses, analyses of the various statistics, etc. We sometimes forget that these are real people, with real lives. “Chicago Cubs Cookbook” reminds us that the Cubs are real people, who eat real food, and who sometimes cook, too. It was a nice change of pace.

Here are some specific observations:

- The first direction listed under “How to Build the PERFECT Chicago Dog” reads as follows: “Boil the hot dogs in 145 degree water per package instructions.” I thought water boiled at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

- The discussion about Randy Wells’ Hot Wing Dip includes the following statement: “The way Randy sees it, most people eat chicken wings and have dip at their football parties. ‘This way,’ he says, ‘it combines both’.” I cannot argue with that logic.

- The “Cubs Clubhouse recipe for Yogurt Mashed Potatoes” comes from Tom “Otis” Heilman, his brother Tim, and Gary Stark, who run the Cubs home clubhouse. The ingredients include: 4 potatoes, 4 Tbsp. plain low-fat Greek yogurt, and 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth. Those are my kinda ingredients!

- The discussion leading up to “John Grabow’s Loaded Mashed Potatoes” contains the following quote: “It’s pretty easy to make,” Grabow said, then cautions, “It’s not very good for you.” I’m all in favor of comfort food which is easy to make.

- Two recipes which especially grabbed my attention were provided by Jim Hendry’s friend Vickie Courville. They are “Crawfish Etouffee” (etouffee literally means “smothered” or “suffocated”), and “Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. I like crawdads and I make gumbo (or is it Jambalaya?) with chicken and sausage and shrimp, so these two are right up my alley.

- The “Build-Your-Own Steak Tacos” from Hub 51 with marinade, Tomato Salsa and Guacamole directions are very good looking.

- Brett Jackson contributed a gluten-free buffalo meat and spaghetti squash which looks interesting. I have dabbled in gluten-free eating. This recipe has potential, and Brett says: “…you can be creative with your protein base.”

- Theodore Roosevelt Lilly III contributed a simple recipe for a great breakfast dish which he calls “Egg In The Hole”. Gotta love it!

- Fergie Jenkins’ wife, Lydia, finally decided to try cooking wild game, (some of Fergie’s pheasants), in a manner that she thought would make them taste tolerable. Fergie gave her the recipe (“Fergie’s Bagged Pheasant”) and it turned out great! I’m a big believer in cooking bags.

- Ted Lilly also presents a chili recipe from Stanley’s Kitchen and Tap. The recipe for “Stanley’s King of Chilis” looks delicious, but I’m afraid I don’t have all of the many ingredients in my kitchen. I’ll have to visit Stanley’s on Lincoln Avenue, and let them do the preparation for me.

- Lou Piniella (you remember him) presents “Anita Piniella’s Layered Chicken Salad” and says: “If we’re winning, I go out a little more. If not, I tend to stay in.” The ingredients for Anita’s salad look tasty. I think this one is Dave-proof and doable.

- Mike Quade says “…once I get home for the winter, my time is consumed by two of my other passions – fishing and cooking. My home along the Florida Gulf Coast affords me with some of the best shallow saltwater fishing in the country, and the only thing better than the challenge of catching these fish is the fun of preparing them.”

“Q” likes to serve his “Pecan-Crusted Snook with Cajun Cream Sauce” with “roasted potatoes, sweet corn relish, and blue cheese and pear salad”. I gotta try this one.

- Ryne Sandberg’s wife, Margaret, contributed a recipe for Chicken Tacos, which looks delicious.

- Ryne also presents a recipe for “Harry Caray’s Rigatoni with Vodka Sauce”. There’s a winning trifecta right there.

- Ryan Theriot presents a Jambalaya recipe (“Chef John Folse’s Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya”), which, as I mentioned before, is right up my alley.

- Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Marmol present a Dominican dish called “Mangu”, from Sobeida Minaya’s “Tropical Taste” restaurant near Humboldt Park (my old stomping grounds). It says here that “Mangu is eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the only change is what you have on the side”. I can live with that.

- Micah Hoffpauir presented “Grandma Ernestine Adams’ Blonde Brownies”. I don’t usually get worked up about brownies because I don’t really care for most chocolate that much. But these “blonde” brownies don’t contain chocolate. Sign me up!!

- Len Kasper presents his mom’s Michigan “Apple Crisp” recipe, and Jeff Stevens presents a “Banana Nut Bread” recipe courtesy of his girlfriend, Christina. Both of these desserts look extremely tasty.

There are a lot of opportunities for “good eatin’” contained in the Chicago Cubs Cookbook.

I have to say I’m not a fan of the plastic binding system used on this book.

Nevertheless, I did especially enjoy the background stories behind the recipes. They put some very human faces on the members of the Chicago Cubs (past and present).

I recommend the “Chicago Cubs Cookbook – All-Star Recipes From Your Favorite Players” to anyone with an interest in cooking and/or eating, as well as to anyone who follows the Chicago Cubs.

It’s for a good cause.

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GirlieView (05/23/2011)

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Happy Monday! Let’s have a look at the week in review!

Lizzies

  • The Cubs continued their season long theme of leaving men in scoring position.
  • I think you guys that keep giving the Cubs a B-/C+ have been drinking way too much Old Style.
  • why isn’t there a “e, terrible , we’re doomed .”
  • I’m usually completely hooked by this point in the season. But this year, any time they manage to pique my interest, they follow-up with a craptacular loss (or 3).
  • It’s starting to be painful to watch
  • Beltran does sort of fit the bill: aging player riding out a giant contract with dwindling numbers. Come on over, pal.
  • When your longterm outlook looks bleaker than KC’s, it may be time to clean house.
  • According to the Cubs website the Cubs are starting a new catcher, ‘Hill,C’ , who is this guy? I hope he is better than ‘Hill,K’.
  • Profanity is much more pleasurable when directed at loafing on the field.
  • The White Sox are crappier than the Cubs.
  • Soriano is a huge liability in left field.
  • Unless the new Carlos Zambrano is a lot more like the old Zambrano of 2003/2004ish, then I’m not going to start liking him again anytime soon.
  • Between his insults of opposing teams/players and the thug mentality of Volquez to the head kicking of Cueto, these guys are classless in my book
  • Fielding was atrocious. The Reds scored seven runs and didn’t earn a single one of them.
  • That was ugly.
  • Blame it on the rain all you like. Sure didn’t bother the Reds.
  • Man I had a great night in front of the TV last night. Did I mention I didn’t watch the Cubs game? I’m so smart sometimes…
  • The Cubbie DT’s if you will.
  • We don’t consistently pitch well, we don’t consistently hit well, and we don’t consistently field well.
  • The lack of identity plagues this ballclub and has for some time.
  • A team poorly built, poorly coached, and that executes poorly on the field. Should any of us really be shocked that the season is (again) over in mid-May?
  • An 8 year old who doesn’t get paid a dime can sum up where the Cubbies are right now.
  • The beauty of an inconsistent team is that it fails to consistently suck.
  • I realize it is more acceptable now to hate, but we should enjoy the freedom displayed by this individual liberated from society’s inhibitions. Of course he was probably drunk.
  • Don’t alienate any part of your fan base, especially if you are having trouble filling the seats.
  • Interesting sight on espn.com’s Sweet Spot blog. You can read the whole article if you want, but the main thing is the picture at the end.
  • I wouldn’t mind seeing Reed Johnson in left and Jeff Baker at third from here on out. Heck, at least we’d go down swingin’…..
  • LOL, clarification on my comment above this one…. At least we’d go down swingin’ from a **figurative** standpoint (heart, effort, etc) with Johnson and Baker in the lineup everyday. With Ramirez and Soriano, of course we will go down swinging, just in a much more literal way.
  • I wouldn’t jump straight to “Coleman looked really good.”
  • Any lineup that gets Soriano out of left on defense is OK by me.
  • We could further protect those fragile pitchers by having the coaches pitch. Each player on the team could have one at bat per inning, and games could all end in ties.
  • I think that the Pitcher hitting makes for a far superior product because there is actual strategy involved.
  • Bringing the DH to the NL would suck, you don’t take away the best thing it has going for it.
  • The DH is akin to little league rules.
  • And thus begins the hardest weekend in my sports-watching career: a lifelong cubs and red sox fan finally seeing his two teams play together in his home city, without being able to go to a game.
  • i’m expecting a sweep by the redsox . that way i have something to be happy about if we only manage to win one .
  • Errors in the infield. Errors in the outfield. Throwing errors. Fielding errors. Passed balls. Basically the same thing we’ve seen all year from this team.
  • I am so fed up with Soriano’s half assing act that I’m tempted to contact Comcast sportsnet, WGN, and the Cubs front office and asking them to remove all camera coverage and video replay evidence of every ball hit to the vicinity of left field so none of us have to be subjected to a lazy, pathetic multimillionaire that can’t and won’t be bothered to give a 60 percent effort in return for the GDP of a small country he’s being paid.
  • I’m now afraid to go to Fenway tonight and tomorrow…..

Lizard

  • By heartbreaking do you mean nauseating?

Lizzie Contest 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. I lopped off the list to keep it manageable. Everyone with 2 or more points appear. An additional 13 folks have one point apiece. We currently have 38 commenters with points! Great job everyone!

1. Buddy
2. jswanson
3. Doc Raker
4. Chet
5. Seymour
6. cap’n
7. Aaron
7. Chuck
7. Rich Beckman
10. Kris
11. JoeA
12. DavidMBeyer
13. Dragon
14. chris in Illinois
14. MJ
16. Deezer
17. Jesse
17. walterj
19. Benjamin
19. Doug Bagley
19. Doug S
19. Eric
19. Mark
24. Randy
24. Wes

The Weekly Aura

Our weekly aura took a bit of a nosedive. We’re hovering in the C-/D+ zone now. Maybe just a touch better than that but not much! The graph is showing the expected trend.

Each week I’ll tell you the previous week’s aura, and ask you to rate how you are feeling this week. Thanks to a suggestion from the insightful walterj, we will now include an “e” choice. While changing the scale may slightly skew the previous results to the good, I believe it’s a necessary addition at this point.

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.
e.) Terrible. We’re doomed.


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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This Week in Farmville: 5/15 – 5/21

Monday, May 23rd, 2011


(Photo credit: Adam Kline)

Overall Minor League Record: 101-69

WEEK IN REVIEW

While the Chicago Cubs find themselves four games under .500 entering the final full week of May (with an identical 20-24 record as they had after 48 games a year ago), the rest of the organization finds itself in great shape as we head towards Memorial Day. A glance at the standings finds each of the Cubs’ minor league affiliates occupying either 1st or 2nd place in their divisions, with Tennessee (27-16) and Daytona (31-12) sporting the best records in their leagues.

Last week, the entire farm system continued its winning ways with an overall record of 21-5, finishing with a perfect 8-0 record on Friday and Saturday. The following is a brief recap of how each team in the organization faired during the week:

Iowa Cubs  – Pacific Coast League

Overall (20-22) – 2nd Place, North Division

Last Week – (5-1)

This Week – vs. Tuscon (1gm), vs. Las Vegas (4gms), @ Round Rock (2gms)

  • While the I-Cubs are the only team in the Cubs’ minor league system with a losing record, the team had an impressive 5-1 record last week putting them within 2-games of .500 after Saturday’s rain-shortened 4-3 win over Tucson.
  • The I-Cubs finished the week on their first three game winning streak of the season after coming up short in their five previous attempts this season.
  • Brad Snyder and Bobby Scales have had the hottest bats during the team’s recent success. Snyder entered Sunday’s action with an eight game hit streak, during which he has connected for two home runs and driven in seven runs. Scales has hit safely in his last five games, his second longest streak of the season after hitting in 10-straight to start the season.

Tennessee Smokies  – Southern League

Overall (27-16) – 1st Place, North Division

Last Week – (6-1)

This Week – vs. Mobile (2 gms), vs. Mississippi (5 gms)

  • The Smokies, which feature six of the Cubs top 10 prospects, dominated the competition last week with a 6-1 record in games against Charlotte and Mobile. The only blemish on their week was 2-1 loss to Charlotte on a rare low-scoring night for Tennessee.
  • Tennessee scored a combined 50 runs in their six wins during the week, which included outbursts of 13, 11, and nine runs in separate games.
  • Cubs highly-touted prospect Chris Carpenter joined the Tennessee roster on Thursday after starting the season at AAA-Iowa. Carpenter, who was the Cubs’ third round pick in the 2008 draft, spent parts of both the 2009 and 2010 with the Smokies as well.
  • There has been no shortage of power in the Smokey Mountains through the first two months of the season as Tennessee leads the Southern League with an astounding 52 home runs in 44 games. For reference, Montgomery is a distant second with 38 homers as a team. Outfielder Ryan Flaherty has led the charge with 10 home runs and 46 RBI.

Daytona Cubs  – Florida State League

Overall (31-12) – 1st Place, North Division

Last Week – (6-1)

This Week – vs. St. Lucie (4 gms), vs. Brevard County (3 gms)

  • Daytona’s 31-12 record is not only the class of the Florida State League, but gives them the best record in all of baseball. The D-Cubs entered Sunday on a four game winning streak and with a record of 15-6 through the first three weeks of May.
  • Aaron Kurcz, who entered the season as the 25th ranked prospect in the Cubs system according to Baseball America, improved his record to 3-0 after a five-inning, one-hit performance against Palm Beach on Wednesday. Kurcz lowered his ERA to 2.38 in the win.
  • Another of the system’s top-ranked prospects, second baseman Logan Watkins, has been less impressive in his first season of Advanced A-ball, hitting just .167 in his first 35 games with Daytona. Watkins looks to be starting to come around, however, hitting a respectable .250 over his last 10 games.

Peoria Chiefs  – Midwest League

Overall (23-19)  – 2nd Place, Eastern Division

Last Week – (4-2)

This Week – vs. Clinton (2 gms), vs. Wisconsin (3 gms), @ Cedar Rapids (2 gms)

  • The Chiefs rounded out the Cubs’ solid week on the farm with a three game winning streak of their own, giving them a 4-2 record on the week. It was the fourth winning streak of three or more games for the Chiefs this season.
  • Leftfielder Anthony Giansanti had an eight game hitting streak come to an end in Friday night’s win against the Clinton Lumberkings. Giansanti entered the streak hitting just .167 on the season, but hit .461 during those eight games and raised his average 50 points to .217.
  • While the Chicago Cubs’ defensive maladies have been well documented this season, perhaps there is hope for the future as the Chiefs turned two double plays on Saturday, giving them a league leading 51 on the season.
  • 2010 first-round pick Hayden Simpson pitched 4 2/3 innings on Saturday, giving up three earned runs while striking out five. While Simpson has yet to collect a victory this season (0-1, 4.63 ERA), the Chiefs are 7-2 in games he has started.

TOP PROSPECT REPORT

#1) Brett Jackson, of (Current Team: Tennessee)

Season: .295/.420/.518, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 13 SB

Last 10 App: On Disabled List since May 12

#2) Trey McNutt, rhp (Current Team: Tennessee)

Season: 1-2, 6 G, 6 GS, 2.38 ERA, 22.2 IP, 16 K, 5 BB, 25 H

Last 10 App: 1-2, 6 G, 6 GS, 2.38 ERA, 22.2 IP, 16 K, 5 BB, 25 H

#3) Chris Carpenter, rhp (Current Team: Tennessee)

Season: (AAA) – 2-1, 1 S, 13 G, 0 GS, 6.41 ERA,19.2 IP, 20 K, 17 BB, 20 H

(AA) – 1-0, 0 S, 1 G, 0 GS, 3.86 ERA, 1.1 IP, 1K, 3 BB, 1 H

Last 1 App (AA) : 1-0, 0 S, 1 G, 0 GS, 3.86 ERA, 1.1 IP, 1K, 3 BB, 1 H

4) Hayden Simpson, rhp (Current Team: Peoria)

Season: 0-1, 9 G, 9 GS, 4.63 ERA, 35 IP, 29 K, 14 BB, 42 H

Last 10 App: 0-1, 9 G, 9 GS, 4.63 ERA, 35 IP, 29 K, 14 BB, 42 H

#5) Josh Vitters, 3b (Current Team: Tennessee)

Season: .257/.296/.431, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 0 SB

Last 10 App: .297/.316/.459, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB

#6) Jay Jackson, rhp (Current Team: Iowa)

Season: 1-3,  0 SV, 6 G, 6 GS, 7.94 ERA, 28.1 IP, 13 K, 14 BB, 35 H

Last 10 App: 1-3,  0 SV, 6 G, 6 GS, 7.94 ERA, 28.1 IP, 13 K, 14 BB, 35 H

#7) Rafael Dolis, rhp (Current Team: Tennessee)

Season: 1-2,  3 SV, 13 G, 4 GS, 2.73 ERA, 29.2 IP, 23 K, 16 BB, 26 H

Last 10 App: 0-2, 3 SV, 10 G, 1 GS, 3.63 ERA, 17.1 IP, 10 K, 1 BB, 20 H

#8) Matt Szczur, of (Current Team: Peoria)

Season: .320/.398/.369, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 10 SB

Last 10 App: .300/.383/.300, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 8 SB

#9) Reggie Golden, of  (Current Team: AZL Cubs)

Season: .333/.412/.400, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1 SB

Last 4 App: .333/.412/.400, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1 SB

#10) Robert Whitenack, rhp (Current Team: Tennessee)

Season: (HighA) 3-0, 0 SV, 4 G, 4 GS, 1.17 ERA, 23.0 IP, 25 K, 1 BB, 11 H

(AA) 4-0, 0 SV, 6 G, 6 GS, 2.57 ERA, 35.0 IP, 20 K, 11 BB, 31 H

Last 4 App (AA): 4-0, 0 SV, 6 G, 6 GS, 2.57 ERA, 35.0 IP, 20 K, 11 BB, 31 H

Other Notables

Alberto Cabrera, rhp (Current Team: Tennessee) – Baseball America #11

Season: 5-2,  0 SV, 8 G, 8 GS, 5.62 ERA, 41.2 IP, 30 K, 18 BB, 54 H

Last 10 App: 5-2,  0 SV, 8 G, 8 GS, 5.62 ERA, 41.2 IP, 30 K, 18 BB, 54 H

D.J. LaMahieu, 2b (Current Team: Tennessee) – Baseball America #13

Season: .358/.386/.500, 2 HR, 26 RBI, 3 SB

Last 10 App: .405/.421/.568, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB

Marcus Mateo, rhp (Current Team: Iowa Cubs) - Baseball America #18 – Optioned 5/17

Season: 0-0, 1 SV, 2 G, 0 GS, 6.75 ERA, 1.1 IP, 2 K, 1 BB, 1 H

Last 10 App: 0-0, 1 SV, 2 G, 0 GS, 6.75 ERA, 1.1 IP, 2 K, 1 BB, 1 H

Robinson Lopez, rhp (Current Team: Peoria) – Baseball America #19

Season: 3-1, 0 SV, 9 G, 4 GS, 4.15 ERA, 39.0 IP, 19 K, 15 BB, 41 H

Last 10 App: 3-1, 0 SV, 9 G, 4 GS, 4.15 ERA, 39.0 IP, 19 K, 15 BB, 41 H

Kyle Smit, rhp (Current Team: Tennessee) – Baseball America #20

Season: 2-0, 0 SV, 12 G, 0 GS, 7.16 ERA, 16.1 IP, 19 K, 13 BB, 21 H

Last 10 App: 2-0, 0 SV, 12 G, 0 GS, 7.16 ERA, 16.1 IP, 19 K, 13 BB, 21 H

Logan Watkins, 2b (Current Team: Daytona) – Baseball America #21

Season: .167/.266/.233, 0 HR, 13 RBI, 4 SB

Last 10 App: .250/.333/.393, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB

Ryan Flaherty, of (Current Team: Tennessee) – Baseball America #22

Season: .322/.391/.611, 10 HR, 46 RBI, 3 SB

Last 10 App: .417/.512/.722, 2 HR, 19 RBI, 0 SB

Aaron Kurcz, rhp (Current Team: Daytona) – Baseball America #25

Season: 3-0, 0 SV, 8 G, 7 GS, 2.48 ERA, 32.2 IP, 29 K, 15 BB, 29 H

Last 10 App: 3-0, 0 SV, 8 G, 7 GS, 2.48 ERA, 32.2 IP, 29 K, 15 BB, 29 H

Brooks Raley, lhp (Current Team: Tennessee) – Baseball America #26

Season: 1-3, 0 SV, 8 G, 8 GS, 6.03 ERA, 37.1 IP, 22 K, 21 BB, 53 H

Last 10 App: 1-3, 0 SV, 8 G, 8 GS, 6.03 ERA, 37.1 IP, 22 K, 21 BB, 53 H

Junior Lake, ss (Current Team: Daytona) – Baseball America #27

Season: .301/.328/.446, 3 HR, 22 RBI, 16 SB

Last 10 App: .300/.364/.300, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 5 SB

Jae-Hoon Ha, of (Current Team: Tennessee) – Baseball America #28

Season: (HighA) .311/.344/.523, 6 HR, 27 RBI, 6 SB

(AA) .296/.296/.444, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB

Last 6 App (AA): .296/.296/.444, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 0 SB

Esmalin Caridad, rhp (Current Team: Iowa) – Baseball America #29

Season: 2-1, 2 SV, 16 G, 0 GS, 8.31 ERA, 26.0 IP, 21 K, 18 BB, 37 H

Last 10 App: 1-0, 0 SV, 10 G, 0 GS, 8.31 ERA, 17.1 IP, 12 K, 15 BB, 22 H

Dae-Eun Rhee, rhp (Current Team: Daytona) – Baseball America #30

Season: 1-0, 0 SV, 6 G, 2 GS, 2.41 ERA, 18.2 IP, 13 K, 13 BB, 18 H

Last 10 App: 1-0, 0 SV, 6 G, 2 GS, 2.41 ERA, 18.2 IP, 13 K, 13 BB, 18 H

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Game 44 – What an 8th

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Cubs 9, Red Sox 3

Box Score / Video Highlights / Condensed Game


A thrilling end of the game to say the least.  After some concerning injury setbacks the Cubs rallied in the eighth to pull off a victory and stop Boston’s win streak at eight.  The Cubs go into tomorrow night’s rubber game with questions insofar as the starting pitcher and center fielder as it was announced that Matt Garza is suffering from elbow tightness and Marlon Byrd was beaned early in the game.  Some highlights from tonight’s game:

What went right:

  • Zambrano pitched a quality game and hung in there – we needed a good start as the Cubs are now down three starters.
  • The Cubs hung in there and didn’t give up – they fought and scratched and kept the game close until the bats woke up in the eighth.
  • Timely hitting and pinch-hitting in the eighth – the Cubs scored 8 runs in the 8th to put the game away.  Barney and Castro did what they did best by setting the table, Ramirez got picky at the plate and coerced a walk out of Albers to load the bases.  Pena did the same and Albers walked the second Cubs run in – Johnson lined the game-winning hit off the scoreboard scoring the tying and winning runs.
  • Keystone Red Sox defense, they looked pretty bad.
  • Kerry Wood rebounded and pitched a strong eighth inning.

What went wrong:

  • Prior to the game the Cubs learned that Matt Garza would not be able to pitch on Sunday, this totally disrupts what was at best an uncertain rotation.  Rumor is that the Cubs will have a Bullpen Day on Sunday – I’d rather see them bring up the best Double A or Triple A option and give Garza two starts off.
  • Byrd got hit in the face and was immediately removed from the game.  It looked pretty bad but Marlon did not lose consciousness and appeared to be cut slightly under the left eye.

Tomorrow the Cubs will go for the series win with Tim Wakefield as the announced starter for Boston, hopefully the wind will be blowing in for the knuckleballer.  The Cubs could use some breaks after losing the opener and tying Game 2.

On this date in baseball history:

  • 1919:  The New York Giants traded Jim Thorpe to the Boston Braves for Pat Ragan.  Thorpe was a better footballer than he was a baseball player, as were a few that came after him.
  • 1952:  The Dodgers scored 15 runs in the first on the way to a 19-1 victory over the Reds.  It was a Major League record.
  • 2005:  Korean Dae-Sung-koo lines a double off Randy Johnson, causing Mike Piazza to lose a million dollar pledge.  Piazza told teammate David Wright that he would donate a million dollars to charity if the Korean got a hit.  I’m unsure as to whether or not Piazza delivered as promised.

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

1st Star– Casey Coleman (.273 WPA)

2nd Star –Marlon Byrd (.122 WPA)

3rd Star– John Buck (.115 WPA)

Official Recap Standings

Mark 5-3 (.625)

Buddy 3-3 (.500)

Joe 9-10 (.474)

Brandon 1-4 (.200)

Chet 0-2 (.000)

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Game 43 – We Waited 93 Years for That?

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

Cubs 5, Red Sox 15

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

The following recap is a guest post by Dustin Godsey

What Went Right

Getting ‘em on – It wasn’t as though the Cubs didn’t give themselves an opportunity to stay in the game, as they racked up 12 hits off Boston starter John Lester. The Red Sox’ big lefty has struggled of late having now given up four or more runs in three consecutive starts, and the Cubs hitters put pressure on him from the start. Chicago put runners in scoring position in each of the first six innings, and it’s hard to complain too much about the offense that knocks around the opposing starting pitcher the way the Cubs did. That said…well, we’ll get to that shortly.

Jeff Baker – Leading the hit parade for the Cubs was Jeff Baker, who finished the night 4 for 5, with hits in each of his four at bats against Lester. It’s no secret that Baker is the ultimate platoon infielder against lefties, but he has been even more impressive so far this season in particular, and has raised his average against southpaws this season to .513.

James Russell – When your first two pitchers of the night can’t give you more than four innings in the first game of the series, you need someone to come in, calm things down and eat up a couple innings in hopes that your bullpen isn’t completely depleted going into the weekend. That was Russell tonight. He wasn’t spectacular, but he pitched three quiet innings, allowing just three hits and no runs.

What Went Wrong

Getting ‘em in – Again, it’s hard to scream too loudly about an offense that gives you 12 hits in the first six innings, but as has been the case often this year the Cubs left a lot of runs on the table. Baker and Aramis Ramirez combined for seven hits from the three and four holes, but didn’t have many opportunities to turn those hits into runs with Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney going just 1 for 10 in front of them.

Doug Davis – Davis threw 24 pitches before retiring an out (though that wasn’t all his fault) and despite a 1-2-3 second inning, it was pretty clear from the start that the bullpen was going to get some work. Despite throwing 42 of his 89 pitches for balls, Davis’ night couldn’t be classified as wild. He stayed right around the strike zone all night, sometimes to his benefit, but often not as he gave up eight hits and walked three in his 3 2/3 innings.

 

Scott Maine – Ugh. 1/3+ innings, 37 pitches, and two balls hit by Youkilis and Saltalamacchia that may have traveled about a quarter mile each. Any thought that the Cubs might stay in this one was erased during Maine’s brief time on the hill.

Defense (again) – Another bad night in the field for the Cubs, finishing the night with another four errors. Errors in the infield. Errors in the outfield. Throwing errors. Fielding errors. Passed balls. Basically the same thing we’ve seen all year from this team.

Misc. Notes

  • Jeff Samardzija pitched the eight-inning in mop-up duty and didn’t look like the same “Shark” we’ve been used to seeing. There wasn’t much on the line though, so I’m not too concerned with the bad outing in this case.
  • With Bob Brenly taking a night off to watch his son play in Dayton, Bill Buckner filled in admirably as color analyst along side Len Kasper.
  • After the Volvo sign above the Green Monster kept it from landing on Landsdowne St., Jared Saltalamacchia’s fifth inning home run ball found it’s way into the hands of none other than Cubs president Crane Kenney, who took in the game from atop the left field wall.
  • The “Good Luck Bruins” sign on the padding behind the plate was a nice show of camaraderie amongst the Boston sports teams.
  • The Cubs and Red Sox will wear throwback uniforms from the 1918 season on Saturday commemorating the last time the two teams me in Fenway Park. Just think, if not for Steve Bartman and Aaron Bleeping Boone, they might be wear 2003 throwbacks instead.

Tomorrow’s Forecast

The pitching match-up for Saturday’s game 2 would appear to favor the Cubs, with Carlos Zambrano matching up against Alfredo Aceves, who is making his first start of the year, and just the sixth in his four seasons. Big Z will look to regain his form after picking up his first road loss of the season earlier in the week in Cincinnati. With Boston putting a right-hander on the mound, the Cubs lineup will undoubtedly take on a different look on Saturday. Kosuke Fukudome will most certainly replace Reed Johnson in RF, and it will be interesting to see what combination Quade goes with at DH/LF. Prediction: Cubs 5, Red Sox 3

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

1st Star– Casey Coleman (.273 WPA)

2nd Star –Marlon Byrd (.122 WPA)

3rd Star– John Buck (.115 WPA)

Official Recap Standings

Mark 4-3 (.571)

Buddy 3-3 (.500)

Joe 9-10 (.474)

Brandon 1-4 (.200)

Chet 0-2 (.000)

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