Archive for September, 2011

Game 152 – Win #4,000

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Cubs 2, Astros 1

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

What Went Right:

  • Starlin got hit #194 today. For those of you who don’t want to do the mental math, that’s just 6 more hits to reach #200. He has also hit safely in 30 straight games.
  • Tony Campana managed to manufacture a run out of a walk. Ramirez moved him over to 2nd base, then he stole third, and then he scored on a throwing error. Man, I sure wish he would do more for the Cubs. Being fast and turning walks into home runs (in theory) just isn’t good enough.
  • Lopez pitched pretty well! I was surprised, but it was good to see him go 7 innings and strike out 7 batsmen. Given, it was the Astros, but hey, a K is a K, no matter which way you flip it.

What went wrong:

  • The Cubs had 2 errors today. Ramirez had a throwing error (Pena should have been able to pick it up) and LaHair just misplayed a seemingly harmless ball and turned a single into a double.
  • The Cubs left 9 men on base, and were 0-8 with runners in scoring position. The runs we did get were a homerun by LaHair and a run scored on an error. What is wrong with our hitting??
  • Quade keeps playing the old men. Given, Montanez got to play for a little while, but still, why have Soriano and Ramirez be prominent players at this point? There is nothing to play for. The young guys need to show everyone what they are capable of doing.
  • Marshall was kind of scary in the top of the 9th, when he intentionally walked J.D. Martinez to load the bases. By some stroke of luck, he managed to get out scot-free, but if he would have done that against any other team, he wouldn’t have been so fortunate.


Bryan LaHair hit is 2nd home run in the Bigs, which translates to his 40th of the season in both the Minors and the Majors. That’s pretty good. He and Rodrigo Lopez did their parts to help the Cubs win their 4,000th home game. Maybe this will help Lopez’ popularity increase a little bit. I mean, helping the Cubs to their 4,000th home win is worth something, isn’t it? Maybe not when your team is one of the worst in the Majors.

The Astros lost their 100th game of the season. They’ve never lost 100 games in a season in the 50 year history of the franchise. They’re the first team to 100 losses this season, and will most likely be the only team to reach that number this season.

The Takeaway:

The Cubs are bad. We have a lot of work to do this off-season, but we have to figure out which players to keep, and which players to ship out. I could give a few helpful hints, but people get paid a lot of money for that, and I don’t want to give out my expertise for free. But one thing I will share: play the kids.

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

1st Star – Rodrigo Lopez (.277 WPA)

2nd Star – Clint Barmes (.229 WPA)

3rd Star – K. Wood (.172 WPA)

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Cubs Win! Cubs Win!…Or Do They?

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

The complete title of this book is “The Curse: Cubs Win! Cubs Win! … Or Do They?” It was published in 2010, and was written by Andy Van Slyke with Rob Rains.

I have had this book in my possession for over a year, and I didn’t get around to looking at it until now. I’d like to explain why. It’s because of the words “The Curse” in the title. I’m tired of hearing about “The Curse”, and that’s why I didn’t pick up this book until now.

I am, however, glad that I did pick it up. I enjoyed reading Mr. Van Slyke’s book.

First, a word about the authors. When I first picked up this book, I thought I might have heard the name Andy Van Slyke, but I really couldn’t place it. So I did some research. Andy Van Slyke was born (in 1960) and raised in New York State (Utica and New Hartford, respectively).

Andy Van Slyke was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1979. He played for the Cardinals from 1983 to 1986. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1987 and played for them from 1987 to 1994. In 1995 he played for the Baltimore Orioles and the Philadelphia Phillies.

During his playing years Mr. Van Slyke won five Gold Gloves and was a three-time All-Star selection.

He coached for the Detroit Tigers from 2006 to 2009, and co-authored “Tigers Confidential, The Untold Inside Story of the 2008 Season”.

Co-author Bob Rains is the sports editor of St.Louis, an online daily newspaper.

So, it is clear to me that neither author has any direct ties to Chicago or to the Chicago Cubs.

It has been said that Andy Van Slyke was as well known for his wit as for his baseball ability. With that in mind, here are a few quotes from and about Andy Van Slyke:

– “Every season has its peaks and valleys. What you have to try to do is eliminate the Grand Canyon.”

– “I have an Alka Seltzer bat. You know, plop plop fizz fizz. When the pitcher sees me walking up there they say, ‘Oh what a relief it is’.”

– “My biggest problem in the big leagues is that I can’t figure out how to spend forty-three dollars in meal money.”

– “They wanted me to play third like Brooks (Robinson) so I did play like Brooks – Mel Brooks.”

Without giving too much away, I could describe this book: “The Curse – Cubs Win! Cubs Win! … Or Do They?” as existing within the category of “sports fiction”, and as being about the Cubs finally breaking their 100+ year drought and playing in the World Series.

This might be a good book for the Ricketts family, Crane Kenney, The new GM, et al, to look at.

I do think it’s worth asking: Why would two guys with strong ties to St. Louis and no ties to Chicago, write a book about the Curse of the Chicago Cubs?

One thing I couldn’t help but notice as I was reading: All of the fictional bad guys in this book have Italian surnames. And none of the fictional good guys have Italian surnames.

Also, the authors attempt to establish a familiarity with Chicago by dropping the location names “Wrigleyville” and “Rush Street” repeatedly. As a fourth generation Chicagoan, my feeling is that this only establishes their “UNfamiliarity” with my home town.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

– “He grinned when he thought about the former owner of the Cincinnati Reds, Marge Schott, who wanted to know one time how come she was paying people – scouts – when all they did was watch baseball games.”

– “The players came and went, but the fans remained.”

– “It’s easy to cheer for a winning team. Try coming to games and finding a reason to cheer when the team is 30 games out in August. Let’s see who has the best fans then.”

– “I figured if they were younger than 25 and already in the majors, chances are they will be protected. If they are older than 32, chances are we don’t want them, or we will be able to look at them separately.”

I enjoyed reading “The Curse….”, even with the aforementioned reservations. And as I also mentioned previously, this might be a good one for the Ricketts family and Chicago Cubs organization to look at.

I thank Joe Aiello and Ascend Books for providing me with a copy of “The Curse…” to read and to review.

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Game 151 – Quade Bets The Wrong Horse; Cubs Win Anyway

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Cubs 4, Astros 3 (12 innings)

Box Score / Highlights

What Went Right

Patience – an impressive display of patience by our hitters today. The Cubs drew a total of 9 walks, and two each for the free-swinging Starlin Castro and Marlon Byrd. The so-called winning run scored in the 12th because of Castro’s second walk.

Garza – there’ll be more about him later. But I can’t begrudge him this spot, other than Carlos Lee, Garza carved through the AAAAstros with relative ease. In five of his nine innings he faced only three batters. After Carlos Lee homered to lead off the second, the Astros had only one baserunner reach second base until the 9th.

Marmol – he was nasty today. Only one hitter even saw a single ball; 17 of his 19 pitches were strikes. He retired 6 straight hitters. The rest of the bullpen was solid; but Marmol was brilliant.

What Went Wrong

Mike Quade – see below…

Umpires – the umpires were terrible, particularly home plate umpire Jeff Nelson. In the first Darwin Barney grounded into a double play off of his left hand – even though most of the Astros believed he’d been HBP. In the 9th, Castro struck out on a pitch that was both high and outside.

Fast forward to the 12th, bases loaded with Cubs, one out and Marlon Byrd at the plate. Byrd goes up there hacking even though Astros reliever David Carpenter had walked Castro, intentionally walked Ramirez, thrown a wild pitch and after going 3-0 to Reed Johnson, he threw the fourth intentionally wide to him too. That sounds like a guy who has command of the zone.

So after taking ball one, Byrd gets antsy and swings. Not, mind you, at a pitch that he can really drive; just at something that might’ve possibly had the chance of being called a strike. He gets a hold of it; it bounces once, then a second time right on the chalk halfway up the third base line. The third time it bounces after Astros third baseman Chris Johnson touches it in what appeared to be (admittedly, after replay) foul territory. It grazes the chalk again after Johnson touches it; third base umpire David Rackley calls it fair and home plate umpire Jeff Nelson does not overrule him. Cubs Win, Cubs Win – even though Castro, who watched the flight of the ball, wasn’t convinced himself.

The umpires weren’t needed much, but on the close/important calls they got almost everything wrong.

I’m unclear as to whether the Astros can protest the outcome.  Judgment decisions are not permitted for protest – but if ever there was a game that would be easy to pick up from the point in question, this would be it.

The Takeaway

Mike Quade might be the worst MLB manager. I’m not intimately acquainted with every other manager, but certainly there can’t be too many who regularly use a bench player to start in an unfamiliar position and/or bat him cleanup, or who with expanded rosters aren’t familiar with the appropriate time to use a pinch runner, or who can be so easily bullied by their starter and convinced beyond all rational thought that the starter deserves a fourth chance to face the ONE guy who has given him trouble – even though the bullpen boasts a reliever who has completely owned the same player. And that was just today!

Quade can’t fill out a lineup card – as evidenced by his stubborn refusal to give Bryan LaHair (never mind anyone else on the bench who has something to prove) a regular starting spot during a meaningless September. Today was essentially the Opening Day lineup with the notable exception of Jeff Baker in RF – notable because he was batting cleanup (though he shouldn’t) and playing in RF (though he shouldn’t).

The horse racing handicapper who moonlights as the Cubs’ manager also didn’t get much sleep last night. That can be the only acceptable explanation why when Carlos Pena hit a one-out double in the 11th, Quade didn’t immediately pinch-run for him with someone faster. You know, like ANYONE on the bench! After Campana walked, the cynical part of me was really pulling for a gapper whereby Campana would foolishly pass Pena on the basepath; I could almost taste the sweet agony.

But the cherry on top of Quade’s one game résumé was his stubborn refusal to remove Garza in the 9th. Garza had been cruising, and we all know he’s not the easiest person to remove from a game. Unfortunately, that’s Quade’s job…and unfortunately Mike Quade doesn’t like doing his job – or so it would seem. Garza had thrown 96 pitches at the start of the 9th. At that point, Quade was doing the right thing – Marmol was up and throwing; we had the wait-and-see approach with Garza.

Then Garza threw three straight balls and wound up surrendering a single. Here is the point at which Quade fails. REMOVE HIM! Barring a double play, Carlos Lee was going to hit as at least the tying run. Marmol sports a 3-for-21 record against Lee. It’s a literal no-brainer. Marmol still has wiggle room if he works his normal antics and no matter what happens Garza can’t suffer the loss.

Lee belts a game-tying two-run blast. Bogusevic then singles (finally we get a visit to the mound) and Paredes just misses the second two-run homer of the inning when he flies out to deep right field to end the threat. Garza would finish with 124 pitches, the most in his CAREER…remember, this is September and we’ve been eliminated for some time.

From what I remember, Quade was a fine third base coach – he’s a horri-awful manager.


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

1st Star – Fernando Rodriguez (.434 WPA)

2nd Star – Carlos Lee (.418 WPA)

3rd Star – Carlos Marmol (.291 WPA)

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Game 150 – Just Walk It Off

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Cubs 6, Reds 8

Box Score / Highlights

What Went Right

  • There are long home runs in baseball, and then there’s the home run Carlos Pena hit in the top of the first.  At The Great American Ballpark, there’s a party area for fans above the batter’s eye in center field.  It’s easily three full stories above the field level.  Tonight, Pena deposited a ball there.  The distance he hit it was so shocking that the cameramen couldn’t initially find it.  Every angle I saw followed the supposed trajectory of the ball into the blacked-out wall and lawn that constitutes the batter’s eye–it took them all at least a second to realize Pena had launched one into such rare territory.  Put it this way: he hit it so deep, Aramis Ramirez–who was on first base, and himself no stranger to long home runs–rounded second looking over his right shoulder in amazement.
  • Starlin Castro got another hit tonight–his 193rd of the season.  He’s had 54 multi-hit games (although tonight was not one of them), including 21 three-hit games.  It seems now, barring injury, that it’s a question of when, not if he will get 200 hits this season.  And when he does, he’ll become the youngest Cub ever to reach that mark.  Say what you will–and some of you often do–about the rest of his game; his hitting prowess, especially this early in his career, puts him in elite company.  Heading into what looks to be a tumultuous offseason, I’m glad he’s a Cub.
  • Bryan LaHair has a nine-game hitting streak going, which might not be terribly impressive until you factor in that his only plate appearances this season have come in those nine games.  I know almost anyone can play well in garbage time, but so far LaHair is making the most of his opportunity.  Now if we could just get him some regular time at first base, we might get a sense of what he’s capable of.
  • For a team not used to late-inning heroics, it was nice to see Tony Campana and Alfonso Soriano come off the bench in the 9th and put up back-to-back pinch hits to help temporarily fight off the loss.  Darwin Barney also pitched in late with a hit to take a win away from Homer Bailey and a save from Francisco Cordero.  It didn’t last long, but any fight from this team is still appreciated.

What Went Wrong

  • Randy Wells is who we thought he was!  HE IS WHO WE THOUGHT HE WAS!  Two-run homers from Pena and Byrd spotted him a rare four-run lead in the 1st, but it wasn’t enough tonight.  I’m not inclined to tear into him too bad, but entering a game with a four-run lead and not making it out of the 5th inning is a frustratingly Cub-tastic outing.
  • The bullpen didn’t do much to help, but my real beef here is with Quade.  He didn’t get a great start from Wells, and needed a lot of work from the pen, but why burn Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol in the 7th and 8th innings, respectively?  In both those innings the Cubs were still down by two runs, and even if he didn’t expect to score again and take the game to extra innings, why use up all your guys with late-inning experience?  Sean Marshall came out to pitch the 9th and 10th innings, leaving James Russell to surrender the walk-off homer to Jay Bruce in the 11th.  I know Russell has greatly improved throughout the course of the season, but is he really the guy you’re holding onto for that kind of late-inning duty?  I just don’t get… I can’t understand… you know what?  Forget it.  The season’s almost over, and Quade will probably be fired soon after we hire a new GM.  I’m done trying to figure out why he does the things he does.
  • After that 1st inning, the Cubs really let Homer Bailey off the hook.  The closest we came to scoring against him again came in the 3rd, when we loaded the bases with no outs and couldn’t get anything out of it.  The secrets of hitting with runners on base is as mysterious to this Cubs team as the mechanics of time travel, the meaning of the Sphinx, and the Colonel’s eleven secret herbs and spices.

The Takeaway

Not a lot left we can take away from this season.  Mostly it’s about preparing for next year.  So please pardon me for shouting, but PLAY THE KIDS, MIKE! PLAY THE DADGUM KIDS!!!

Stars of the Game

Based on Win Probability Added (WPA)

1st Star – Sean Marshall (.280 WPA)

2nd Star – Alfonso Soriano (.211 WPA)

3rd Star – Joey Votto (.206 WPA)

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Northside Archives: A Wacky September

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

With expanded September rosters and playoff chases come all sorts of weird stat lines, matchups, and general oddities. Here’s a quick glimpse back at a smattering of September days in Cubs’ history.

September 2, 1972 – Milt Pappas throws a no-hitter against the Padres. He retires the first 26 hitters; home plate umpire Bruce Froemming allows the 27th to “earn” a walk. Pappas retires the 28th to preserve his no-hitter.

September 3, 1970 – Billy Williams requests the day off breaking his then-NL record of 1,117 consecutive games played.

September 8, 1998 – Steve Trachsel serves up Mark McGwire’s 62nd home run of the year. Big Mac celebrates his new record with a big hug from his ‘roid buddy Sammy Sosa.

September 9, 1965 – Sandy Koufax throws a perfect game against the Cubs. No pitcher has thrown a perfect game or no-hitter against them since.

September 10, 1969 – The Cubs lose at Philadelphia 6-2. The loss puts them into 2nd place behind the Mets; the Mets never look back en route to their first World Series title.

September 11, 1968 – Fergie Jenkins loses 1-0 to the Mets, his fifth 1-0 loss of the year. He compiled a 20-15 record that year; but in nine of those loses the Cubs were shutout by their opponent.

September 14, 2008 – Carlos Zambrano tosses the first no-hitter for the Cubs since 1972. The game is against Houston and played in Milwaukee; it’s moved because of a hurricane threatening the Texas coast.

September 15, 1946 – The second game of a doubleheader at Ebbets Field ends with the Dodgers securing a 2-0 victory when gnats take over the field and force the players to take cover. Gnats.

September 16, 1975 – The Pirates hand the Cubs the most one-sided shutout loss in major league history, 22-0. Rennie Stennett goes 7-for-7 for the Pirates; it’s a nine inning game.

September 17, 1953 – Ernie Banks makes his debut (he commits an error). He is the first black player to play for the Cubs – more than seven years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.

September 18, 1999 – Sammy Sosa becomes the first player in history to have two 60-homer seasons. He’ll need to buy a ticket if he ever wants to be in the Hall of Fame, however.

September 19, 2010 – Welington Castillo’s bat breaks into pieces, one of which winds up in the chest of Tyler Colvin. Colvin scores on the play but hasn’t been the same since.

September 23, 1908 – Fred Merkle fails to touch second base on what should have been a walk off by Al Bridwell for the Giants. Johnny Evers alertly calls for the ball and steps on second base preserving a 1-1 tie. The game is called due to darkness. When the two teams end the season tied atop the standings, the game is replayed. The Cubs win the replayed game and go on to win their most recent World Series title. The play is unfortunately referred to as Merkle’s Boner.

September 24, 1984 – Rick Sutcliffe tosses a two-hitter to clinch the Cubs’ first playoff appearance since 1945. The Cubs will grab a 2-0 series lead over the Padres in the NLCS and then completely collapse.

September 27, 1935 – The Cubs win their 21st consecutive game and in doing so clinch the NL pennant. They would go on to lose the World Series to Detroit.

September 28, 1998 – At Wrigley Field the Cubs beat the Giants 5-3 in a one-game playoff to secure the NL wild card berth. Mark Grace caught the final out of a wild ninth inning that saw the Cubs surrender 3 runs.

September 29, 1986 – Rookies and brothers Greg and Mike Maddux are the first siblings to start games against each other. Greg and the Cubs get the best of Mike and the Phillies, 8-3. The game takes place in Philly – where else – the City of Brotherly Love.

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Game 149 – We Were Promised Rain

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Cubs 2, Reds 7

Box Score Highlights

What Went Right

 March to 200  – Starlin Castro improved on his major league lead in hits with lead-off singles in the first and sixth innings. The pair of safeties gave the shortstop 192 hits on the season as he continued his quest to be the first Cubs player with 200 hits since Juan Pierre in 2006.

Sixth Inning Offense – The Cubs didn’t get much going offensively all night, but the sixth inning went exactly as you would draw it up. After Castro’s second lead-off single of the night he was moved up two bases by the third batter (Aramis Ramirez) and driven in on a double by the clean-up hitter (Carlos Peña).  Alfonso Soriano drove in the second run with a ground ball to the right side of the infield.


  • Casey Coleman’s Line: 3.2 innings, 6 hits, 6 runs, 3 walks, 4 K’s
  • Bullpen Line: 4.1 innings, 2 hits, 1 run, 0 walks, 4 K’s

At Least It Was Quick – On nights when the Cubs are out of it early and aren’t putting up a fight, the best thing you can ask for is a mercifully quick game. We had that tonight with a game time of just 2:21.


What Went Wrong 

Casey Coleman – There were a few other things here and there (they only scored two runs, left another nine men on base) but the biggest obstacle facing the Cubs on Wednesday night was the hole dug by starting pitcher Casey Coleman. I feel like a broken record picking on the starters time and time again but what else is there to say. On the positive side, Coleman was around the strike zone most of the night. Unfortunately, he was getting a little too much of the plate and couldn’t get through four innings. At this point in his career, Coleman simply doesn’t look like a major league pitcher while giving up nearly a run an inning over the course of the season. On a side note, he should have kept the beard.


 Misc. Notes

  • After seeing Johnny Cueto leave the mound with an injury in the fourth I couldn’t help but flash back to the Dusty Baker-managed Cubs teams of yore and the repeated injuries to our young starters. Perhaps Baker gets a bad wrap for running pitchers into the ground (and yes, Cueto has only thrown 150 innings this season after starting the year on the DL), but it seemed like a typical Dusty move when he allowed Cueto to keep pitching in a meaningless game after he first showed signs of injury.
  • A foam finger found its way onto the warning track in the top of the 8th inning. I make note of this only because the foot speed of the security guard convinced me that if I was ever going to run onto the field and hope not to get caught, I would make sure I was at Great American Ballpark.
  • Reds reliever Sam Lecure’s mustache was fantastic…a real thing of beauty.


The Takeaway

The radar teased us all night but the Cubs certainly didn’t. Despite the positive tilt in the “What Went Right/What Went Wrong” section, Chicago never put up a fight. Ramon Hernandez’s 3-run home run off Coleman in the second inning was all the Reds needed (though they tacked on another four runs for good measure). After winning the series opener, the Cubs will need a solid start out of Randy Wells to salvage a split in the finale on Thursday.


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

1st Star – Ramon Hernandez (.228 WPA)

2nd Star – Johnny Cueto (.166 WPA)

3rd Star – Juan Francisco (.123 WPA)


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Chet’s Corner : Just get me some pitching!!!!!

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

After catching a few innings of Rodrigo Lopez the other night, I decided to do a search on available pitchers for the 2012 season.

I think most of us can agree that the Cubs starting pitching is a weakness to describe it kindly.   The bigger problem is that we really don’t have any young substantial help in the pipeline, or at least anybody who will contribute next season. 

Starting pitching is important (understatement of the year) and it is one area where I would not mind seeing the Cubs make a few big signings in the coming years.   In other words, if they have money to spend…..SPEND IT ON PITCHING!!!!!

Below is a list of available starting pitchers who will be free agents in 2012.  This list comes courtesy of Cot’s Contracts.  It’s a great site for all sorts of contract information.

 * means player or team has an option for 2012

Mark Buehrle CWS
Chris Carpenter STL * (Re-upped)
Bruce Chen KC
Aaron Cook COL *
Kyle Davies KC
Ryan Dempster CHC *
Justin Duchscherer OAK
Zach Duke ARI *
Jeff Francis KC
Freddy Garcia NYY
Jon Garland LAD *
Aaron Harang SD
Rich Harden OAK
Livan Hernandez WAS
Edwin Jackson CWS
Kenshin Kawakami ATL
Scott Kazmir LAA
Hiroki Kuroda LAD
Rodrigo Lopez CHC
Paul Maholm PIT
John Maine COL
Jason Marquis WAS
Kevin Millwood NYY
Scott Olsen PIT *
Roy Oswalt PHI *
Brad Penny DET
Oliver Perez NYM
Joel Pineiro LAA
CC Sabathia NYY (has an opt out)
Carlos Silva NYY
Javier Vazquez FLA
Adam Wainwright STL *
Tim Wakefield BOS
Chien-Ming Wang WAS
Brandon Webb ARI
C.J. Wilson TEX
Chris Young NYM

So, without further ado, what do you guys think of the free agent market for pitchers next season?  Their are a few on this list that I would not mind having in Cubbie Blue.

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Game 148 – Cubs Lose in a Bore

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Cubs 1, Reds 2

Box Score / Highlights

Reds pitcher Mike Leake carved up the Cubs in this yawn fest, leading the Reds to a 2-1 victory. His last two starts have been against the hacktastic Northsiders and he’s went 17 innings while throwing a combined 181 pitches; Ryan Dempster would throw 128 in just 7 innings tonight.

What went right:

  • Starlin Castro opened the game with a walk and did NOT get tagged out after nearly getting faked out by Joey Votto.
  • Darwin Barney knocked two hits to get that OPS up to .674. Remember in April when some people were calling him ‘untouchable’?
  • Bryan LaHair played.
  • We’re one game closer to the end of Mike Quade.

What went wrong:

  • Speaking of Mike Quade, with the Cubs down one and 8 outs remaining, he decided to let Dempster hit despite already having thrown 100 pitches. This is September. There are 14 pitchers on the staff and plenty of position players to pinch hit. Dempster would finish the game with an unnecessary 128 pitches; third most in his career and most pitches in a decade.
  • Tyler Colvin has 4 hits against Mike Leake, all of them home runs. He did not get an at bat. Also not getting an at bat were D.J. LeMahieu and Tony Campana.
  • The Cubs offense. The impatience of the entire organization is unbelievable:
      • Major League: 29 out of 30 in walks
      • AAA: 16 out of 16
      • AA: 10 out of 10
      • A+: 9 out of 12
      • A: 16 out of 16
      • A-: 2 out of 8
      • Rookie/AZL: 13 out of 13


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

1st Star – Mike Leake (.471 WPA)

2nd Star – Francisco Cordero (.165 WPA)

3rd Star – Brandon Phillips (.146 WPA)

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Game 147 – Cincy Slugfest

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Cubs 12, Reds 8

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game


  • Starlin Castro actually walked! However, it was against Dontrelle Willis, so it probably shouldn’t count.
  • Aramis Ramirez gave the Cubs an early lead with an RBI double in the 1st inning. Alfonso Soriano plated the Cubs second run with a single to left. Run number three came home on a fielder’s choice grounder from Geo Soto.
  • The Cubs added two more in the 3rd inning via a Jeff Baker homer and a Soto double.
  • The slugfest continued in the 4th. The Cubs knocked out Willis with three more runs on doubles by Castro and Soriano.
  • Castro flexed his muscles in the 5th inning with a two-run poke to left-center.
  • Ramirez smacked home run number 25 in the 6th.
  • The Cubs made it an even dozen when Reed Johnson singled in a run in the 8th.


  • Lopez gave up a monstrous home run to Reds 3B Juan Francisco. I think that ball is still travelling. After Willis rifled a single to right (he can’t pitch anymore but he can still hit), Brandon Phillips tied the game with a two-run bomb. Phillips got Lopez again with a solo blast in the 5th.  Rookie catcher Devin Mesoraco added another Reds homer in the 6th.  Despite throwing batting practice for most of his outing, Lopez got the ugly win.
  • Len Kasper spent what felt like forever giving us the heights and weights of Reds’ players. Maybe tomorrow he’ll tell us the color of their eyes.
  • My fantasy football team lost the season opener. Time to fire the GM!


Is it too much to ask for the Cubs to find a 1B like Joey Votto? OK, it probably is, but I’m asking anyway.

With the Reds playing sub-.500 baseball in 2011, much of the country has ignored Votto’s MVP follow-up season. Through September 12th, Joey has ripped up the league to the tune of:

  • .320/.427/.553
  • 28 home runs
  • 35 doubles
  • 100 walks

Votto won’t even sniff the 2011 N.L. MVP award, but he’s having a similar season to his winning campaign (I won’t bore you again with my rant about the terrible job sports writers do with annual awards). Votto just turned 28, so he’ll be punishing opposing pitchers for quite some time.

Back to the Cubs. I know that many VFTB readers want Bryan LaHair at 1B next year, but let me ask you this…What if the Cubs decide to make him a corner OF? Or, what if LaHair turns out to be the next Michal Hoffpauir? Is there another 1B on your radar screen? Please share your thoughts and ideas for 2012.

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

1st Star – Brandon Phillips (.198 WPA)

2nd Star – Starlin Castro (.162 WPA)

3rd Star – Aramis Ramirez (.142 WPA)

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