Archive for June, 2012

Game 72: Swinging at Tumbleweed in the Desert

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

The Cubs had the unfortunate task of running into the red hot buzz saw that is Diamondbacks’ starter Wade Miley this afternoon, which made it easy for me to watch the replay of the game rather quickly. I’d be lying to you if I were to say I watched the game as intently as I have others in recent weeks, because quite honestly I’m bored of watching the same thing every day.

The losing isn’t the issue, it’s the style of losing. I predicted the team to win around 65-70 games on the year, which definitely isn’t that hard of an accomplishment for a major league quality team. What I forgot is that the Cubs currently aren’t fielding a major league quality team.

I know, I know. I’m being a little harsh. I’m happy that the team is giving guys tryouts –Valbuena, Castillo, Clevenger, Campana etc. — to see if we can sort through the muck and eventually field a real MLB roster. In doing so, a team is obviously going to struggle on a nightly basis in terms of consistency. I get that, trust me I do. I am a Cubs and Bills fan who understands the process of everlasting rebuild phases.

My issues lie in that the same mistakes are made over and over on the field. This leads me to believe that A) the young guys haven’t figure out how to learn from their mistakes or B) don’t want to listen on how to learn from their mistakes. I’d have to believe that Sveum gets on guys about mistakes even though he probably had zero expectations for “Project World Series” year one. Like I said before losing isn’t what I take issue with, it’s the lack of progress seen on the field.

Maybe I’m expecting too much. Anyways on to the game.

Five Step Draw

This was a good game to watch if you enjoy a solid pitching matchup. The aforementioned Miley (not the scantily clad teenage drama queen) pitched a dominant eight innings, striking out seven Cubs in the process. To be honest, I was thinking he was closer to ten K’s while I was watching the game. I guess I’m just a Scrooge.

I thought Matt Garza pitched effectively enough to deserve win, but he continues to not have that GREAT kind of performance that gets fans excited. I’m starting to cool on him being a future staple of the pitching staff because of his inability to keep teams off the scoreboard on occasion. Again I’m harping on something that isn’t that big of a deal because the guy is usually a “quality start machine” but I’d like to see a dominant performance every once in a while.

RISP Ain’t Crisp

The runners in scoring position issue gets brought up multiple times a week. Enough to the point where I really didn’t want to talk about it in this article……BUT the differences in average between the two teams this weekend was pathetic.

Cubs with RISP:   3 for 25   .120

Diamondbacks with RISP:  13-32    .406

Yikes…….. At lot of that has to do with Kirk Gibson’s willingness to push his team towards being aggressive regardless of the count in the at-bat. The Cubs have a similar approach in at-bats, but they are often selective at the wrong times and free-swingers at the wrong times. For example taking fast balls right down the pipe and then swinging at sliders way out of the zone. The eighth was a prime example of this. Frustrating.

Rizzo Bells Are Ringing

Supposedly the call-up is happening in time for Tuesday night’s battle with the Mets, although there has been no official confirmation of that unless I missed it. I would have liked to see LaHair get a start in the outfield tonight in preparation for his impending sentencing to right.

I understand his struggles against lefties, but I fail to see how we are getting any better results with him out of the line up. We aren’t. Sveum’s man crush for Jeff Baker aside, there should have been a way to get LaHair reps in the outfield today, even in sweep up duty in the later innings.

Side note: Who is getting the demotion/DFA when Rizzo comes up? Reliever? Baker (wishful thinking)? Campana/Reed Johnson? I have no idea.

All things considered, the Cubs were a foot and a half away from tying the game in the eighth with Barney’s homer. Would that have changed the way the bottom of the eighth was played out? Probably, but it didn’t happen that way. The Cubs haven’t had much luck with those kinds of bounces this season. In the end however, they’ve left too many plays on the field to even sniff a .500 record and I don’t see that ending anytime soon.

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Game 71: A Long Night of Wasted Opportunities

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Cubs 5 @ Diamondbacks 10

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

Given the unusual nature of the Cubs’ loss Saturday night, I’m inclined to eschew the normal What Went Right/ What Went Wrong pattern and just give you the gist of the game.

At over 70 games into the season, we’re all well aware of these Cubs’ usual pattern for losing.  Either the bullpen surrenders a meager lead or the bats don’t show up altogether.  Most of our losses come down (in broad terms at least) to one of those scenarios.  Saturday night was neither.

Instead, the Cubs did show a lot of life at the plate, especially early against Diamondbacks’ starter Ian Kennedy.  In less than 5 innings of work, the Cubs tattooed him for 5 runs on 10 hits, including a homer.  If he hadn’t been able to work out of a couple early jams, his night would have been much shorter.

And that homer?  It came off the unlikely bat of Cubs’ starter Paul Maholm (just the second HR in his career).  Do yourself a favor and watch the highlight of Maholm’s bomb into the RF bleachers.  He knew it was gone right away–in fact, anyone who heard the sound it made off his bat knew there was a good chance–and he slowed into his homerun trot much faster than you’d expect of a pitcher.  His confidence was Soriano-esque.  Maybe even Sosa-esque.  Seriously, check it out.

Maholm’s homer briefly put the Cubs up 2-1, but after his lap around the bases he developed a case of Zambrano-itis and couldn’t maintain his effectiveness on the mound.  He didn’t make it through the next half inning, giving up 6 runs on his way out.  It looked like Maholm had done the bullpen’s usual job for it, throwing away a lead and digging the Cubs into another inescapably deep hole.

But this wasn’t a usual night for the Cubs at the plate.  In fact, you could say a couple of them were downright hot–of the Cubs’ 14 hits Saturday night, DeJesus and Castro accounted for 4 each.  You read that right–both of them went 4 for 5.

However, of the 8 times they reached the basepaths, they scored and/or drove in a run exactly zero times.  Bob and Len spent the later portions of the game talking about how unbelievably difficult it is to be on base that much and not factor in to the final score at all.  It’s very hard to get 4 hits in one game–it’s unthinkable that two guys would do it at the top of the lineup and wind up stranded on the basepaths all night long.

And while it was frustrating to watch them get stranded over and over, it’s not like the rest of the lineup didn’t do anything.  Aside from the 5 runs they put up, the Cubs hitters did a good job of working counts and seeing a lot of pitches.  That’s at least part of the reason they were able to get rid of Ian Kennedy so early (although I suppose you could make a case that the reason they had so much success against him is because he’s Ian Kennedy–the Cubs’ bats did cool off considerably after he left the game.).

However you look at it, this wasn’t the same kind of lousy offensive effort from the Cubs.  Yes, they were still pretty lousy, but it was a different kind of lousy than what we’ve seen for most of the year.  And frankly, it wasn’t nearly as agonizing to watch as many other losses have been.  At least we were competitive tonight–at least there was a chance to get back in it.  If anyone had been able to hit at all behind DeJesus and Castro, we might have had a much better outcome.

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Game 70: Same Stuff, Different Day

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Box Score/ Highlights/ Condensed

We lost again. Theo and Co. are getting closer and closer to the top pick of the 2013 draft, day by day, mediocre pitch by mediocre pitch.


Pitching: The Shark has been coming back down to Earth lately, and now he is 5-6 with a 4.34 ERA. Sadly, the only pitcher used last night with an ERA under 3.5 was Shawn Camp. Thankfully, he pitched a pretty solid inning.


Hitting: Individually, the guys did an OK job. And by OK, I’m judging by the standards of a team with the worst record in baseball. As a team though, it is easy to see why we are the worst team in baseball. Once people get into scoring position, nobody can get them home! The guys that can get on base are the guys who bring people home, which causes quite the dilemma when you think about it. Therefore, the only RBI last night came from a solo shot by Soto in the 4th. 

Summary: At the rate we are going, we will be getting the top pick in next year’s draft and we will be the laughingstock in Boston. By the end of the season Theo will be the butt of every Bostonian baseball fan’s jokes. Heck, he may even be the butt of some Cubs diehard’s jokes. But c’mon guys, we’re rebuilding and there’s always next year!


Walk A Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes: In this case, “Someone Else” is Theo Epstein! The Cubs could bring up Anthony Rizzo on Saturday. Many people are speculating/hoping that these lineups the Dale is using will drive Theo into a rage so that he will have no choice but call up Rizzo. 

Pretend for a minute that YOU are Theo Epstein and your team holds the worst record in baseball. You have called up Anthony Rizzo and he is putting up stellar numbers. You can trade anyone on the team as long as Soriano is packaged in the deal and you can acquire  any player of your choice who will be a free agent this winter. What is your next move?

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Liz-tistics – DH Edition

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

I’m giggling as I write this. If you know me even a little bit, you know I know next-to-nothing about baseball statistics. So I made up my own. Called Liz-tistics.

And in this episode, we’ll review the results of my scintillating and scientific designated hitter research in last week’s GirlieView. I know you’ve all been waiting!

  • My hypothesis: Old folks like me, brought up on baseball before the Steroid Era, prefer no designated hitter, while younger people love it.
  • My testing methodology: Ask VFTB readers their preference. And their age.
  • My assumptions: I guessed at the ages of those who didn’t provide them. (Good for another giggle.)
  • My results: My hypothesis was maybe half right. The elderly among us don’t care much for the DH, but young guys don’t either. Only those in their 30s prefer it.

Now where can you find exciting stats such as these as we wind down on a Friday afternoon and wait for a Cubs game? (No real need to answer that!)

Here’s the next Liz-tistics question, and when Joe has an open spot on the writing roster again I’ll be back with the exciting results! (read: because we’re bored and there’s only so much stuff we can rehash this season.)

  • List your top three favorite Cubs in order. They can be anywhere in the system, not just at the MLB level. Thanks for answering!
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Diamondbacks Series Preview

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Probable Pitchers

Courtesy of

Friday at 9:40pm EDT – Jeff Samardzija vs. Joe Saunders

Samardzija has struggled on the road, posting a 2-3 record and 6.00 ERA compared to a 2.36 ERA at home. The right-hander has to remember to slow things down and not try to muscle pitches. He has one win in his last six starts. Pitching against his former team on Saturday, Saunders made one costly mistake to the Angels in his six innings. The lefty served up a two-run homer to Mark Trumbo and took the loss, as the D-backs were shut out on one hit against Ervin Santana.

Saturday at 10:10pm EDT – Paul Maholm vs. Ian Kennedy

Maholm is 0-3 with a 5.59 ERA in his past seven starts. In his last outing against the Red Sox, he was charged with two first-inning runs. The lefty now has an 8.31 ERA in the first inning. After allowing six runs in 5 2/3 innings to the Rangers on June 12, Kennedy bounced back on Sunday, giving up just two runs to the Angels over eight innings. Unfortunately for the D-backs ace, his offense was shut out for the second straight game.

Sunday at 4:10pm EDT – Matt Garza vs. Wade Miley

Garza earned his first win since April 29 in his last start against the White Sox. He gave up five hits, including home runs to A.J. Pierzynski and Paul Konerko, and also struck out six.

How to Pitch to the Big Boys

Each series we’ll take a look at the top three home run hitters in the opposing team’s lineup to establish how to get them out and minimize the damage.

Aaron Hill – 10 HR’s

Paul Goldschmidt – 9 HR’s

Jason Kubel – 8 HR’s



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