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Game 79 & 80 – Double Dose of Crap

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Cubs 7, Giants 13
Cubs 3, Giants 6

Box Score (Game 1Game 2) / Highlights (Game 1Game 2) / Condensed Game (Game 1)

WHAT WENT RIGHT

  • Carlos Pena went deep to bring the Cubs within one and then Koyie Hill hit a HR to tie it early. It was down hill from then on in game one.
  • Homeruns by Montanez and Ramirez. Neither of these guys project into the Cubs future but it was nice to see them hit long balls.
  • Nice defensive plays by Castro and Johnson. You expect good glove plays from Johnson but Castro hasn’t been up to par recently. I’ve been laying off of him because of his bat but it was nice to see him flash some leather, perhaps he will be our starting third baseman next year. I’d like to see him transition to the hot corner.
  • Samardzija put in two solid innings of relief, as did Mateo.

WHAT WENT WRONG

  • Poor pitching by Lopez and Grabow, both of those guys need to be released. I’ve been patient with Cubs general management for a while but Hendry needs to go now. Why are these guys with the team? Because of bad management decisions – let’s cut the head off of the snake right now. Same with Clown Kenney. But we all know our new Bozo Tom Ricketts will express total support for the management won’t he? Get a show on WGN Ricketts, I want to play the bucket game again. It’s sad to say but we have a loser team, loser management and a joker for an owner. Other than that things are just fine on the North Side, it isn’t even July and the Cubs are not even an afterthought.

ON THIS DATE IN BASEBALL HISTORY

  • 1907: The Washington Senators stole thirteen bases on Yankee catcher Branch Rickey. Apparently he was a smart fella but didn’t have much of an arm.
  • 1910: Cub infielder Joe Tinker stole home twice in the same game.
  • 1939: The New York Yankees hit 13 homeruns against the Philadelphia A’s to set a major league record for most homeruns in a doubleheader.
  • 1970: The Cubs helped the Pirates close Forbes Field by losing a doubleheader and the Pirates tied the Mets in the standings. Then the Pirates were doomed to play in Three Rivers Stadium for several years, it was like watching baseball being played at an airport.
  • 2010: The Cubs put Carlos Zambrano on the restricted list. We still don’t know the outcome.


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Game 77 – Cubs lose rubber game 6-3

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Cubs 3, Royals 6

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

What went right:

  • The Cubs mounted two good offensive onslaughts – the first was in the third when Geovanny Soto homered to make it a 4-1 ballgame. During the fourth Reed Johnson hit a ball hard and landed on second – DeWitt doubled him home and the Cubs reduced the lead to two. Soto then doubled home DeWitt and the Cubs were back in business with a one run deficit.
  • In the sixth the Cubs had two nice defensive gems – firstly Reed Johnson made a nice shoestring catch to save a base hit. On the next at bat Starlin Castro ranged to the left and picked off a ball that was headed for left center and Pena made a nice pick at first digging a ball to complete the out.
  • Carpenter came in in the eighth and he was bringin’ it. I’ve been rather concerned about Cashner’s setback because this guy was showing us the kind of lightning that one would expect from a seventh or eighth inning set-up guy. Now Carpenter appears to fit that role and it’s nice to see someone come up from AA and fulfill a needed spot.

What went wrong:

  • Randy Wells struggled right from the get-go. The first six runners reached base and it was 4-0 before an out was even recorded. Later in the fourth Wells let two more runs in making it a 6-3 game. Wells looked good two years ago and had a poor sophomoric season that included some injury concerns. To me this is his “make or break” season – if he can’t do better than what we saw tonight then he should probably be let go or traded. His command was off and when he was in the strike zone he got hit. Starting pitching was our downfall tonight and that was what went wrong.

The Takeaway: The Cubs tried hard but they don’t have what it takes to beat a team like the Royals. Kansas City has been a whipping boy for so long that their draft picks have had no choice but to come to fruition. We are seeing the seeing the same from the erstwhile Pirate losers, a team that now finds itself eight games ahead of the Cubs. We have aging superstars like Ramirez and Soriano who are overpaid for what they do. We also have younger guys like Zambrano and Fukudome that get paid much more than what their performance merits. So I as a fan must watch the games patiently and hope for a miracle. Because that’s about what it’s going to take to turn this team around, I’m not confident that Mike Quade, Jim Hendry or Crane Kenney have what it takes to get the job done.

On this date in baseball history:

  • 1906: Baseball had it’s first death when Herbert Whitney of the Burlington Pathfinders was beaned by a pitch.
  • 1916: The Cleveland Indians became the first team to wear numbered jerseys.
  • 1938: Carl Hubbell got his 200th win against the Chicago Cubs. He was the first player to really master the screwball from what I’ve read.
  • 1960: Rookie third baseman Ron Santo made his major league debut. He went three for seven in a doubleheader and the Cubs swept the Pirates. Santo drove in five runs.
  • 1966: Ron Santo got hit in the face by Jack Fisher of the Mets. I remember reading about this as kid, he’s lucky it didn’t end his career like the ball that hit Tony Conigliaro.

Tomorrow the Cubs go home to play a makeup game against the Colorado Rockies. The game will be televised at 1:20 PM CDT on CSN.

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

1st Star – Geovany Soto (.263 WPA)

2nd Star – Eric Hosmer (.112 WPA)

3rd Star – Chris Getz (.083 WPA)

Cubs Hitting: -.166 WPA

Cubs Pitching: -.334 WPA

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Game 66 – Come From Behind Surprise

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Cubs 5, Brewers 4

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

Let’s break with orthodoxy here – the Cubs won this game inexplicably. Down 4-1 late in the game Mike Quade got tossed for arguing balls and strikes.  Way to show some moxy Mike!   Despite the win and last minute heroics this team needs to be broken up.

There’s no way to make this franchise look pretty – all of the older players must be traded. This is a team of losers and I only watch them when I have to. So what needs to be done? I propose the following acts which should happen no later than the All Star Game. What I recommend is as follows:

  • Immediate dismissal of Crane Kenney and Jim Hendry.
  • Takeover of said functions by Tom Ricketts.
  • Trade immediately if possible: Pena, Ramirez, Soriano, Fukudome, Byrd, Johnson, Marshall, Wood,  Dewitt – anybody of value except the youngest players.
  • Rebuild the minor leagues, trade guys that aren’t panning out, promote guys that are.
  • Put Quade on an “improve or be fired” program with a one year objective, he’s not putting the right lineup card in, playing guys like DeWitt in left field instead of Campana.

I’m not going to try to make music out of sour milk, it’s time for a change.

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

1st Star – Yovani Gallardo (.323 WPA)

2nd Star – Aramis Ramirez (.321 WPA)

3rd Star – Starlin Castro (.233 WPA)

Cubs Hitting: +.292 WPA

Cubs Pitching: +.208 WPA

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Game 57 – Cubs Lose Another Heartbreaker

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Cubs 2, Cardinals 3

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

Today the Cubs played another competitive game, only to be beaten once again by the better team (and who isn’t better?) The sweep was consummated by yet another walk-off homerun by Albert Pujols and the Cardinals put the Cubs to sleep for 2011 by beating them 3-2 in the 10th inning. The North Siders are now 11 games behind the Cards, 11 games below .500 and are sporting a 6 game losing streak. I don’t want to berate these guys because it’s obvious they are trying, that notwithstanding it’s time for major surgery.

Why? Because the fans deserve better and the Ricketts family is with the fans on this one. I really like the new owner – he’s seen all the time welcoming fans to the stadium, he’s accessible and a true Cubs fan. He even put his money where his mouth is. Despite the commitment his team is spiraling like a plane with a missing tail fin – nothing seems to be working and the fans are voting with their dollars. Attendance is down about 5000 fans per game and it’s just the beginning of June, wait until they get a load of August when it’s hot! I’m going to follow protocol with format in just a few minutes but let’s be honest with one another – it’s time to go another direction with this team. Half-truths aren’t going to work, it’s time to start over, even if that means a rebuilding phase. I’ve been in the corporate world since 1979 and I’ve worked for companies as small as $20 million a year in sales to as large as a few billion. Sometimes you have to realize that your vision is imperfect and it requires change and I think that is where the Cubs are. I am confident that Tom Ricketts will make some moves after 2011 and am also hopeful for the future of the organization. That having been said here are the game highlights:

What went right:

  • Ramirez had a good game offensively doubling in the first two runs; he also singled later in the game.
  • Bottom of the 6th: Barney made a terrific play up the middle making a 4-6 putout to end the inning. This was a pivotal moment in the game and it got the Cubs out of the inning.
  • Bottom of the 8th: Sean Marshall was masterful climbing the ladder on Pujols – this guy has found his game again and Sean got him looking for high cheese. Well done sir!
  • I’m glad that Quade found a way to insert Brad Snyder – this guy has done it at AAA Iowa. I like his approach at the plate but he needs to put on a few pounds of muscle. Brad could be a low cost high end contributor, I hope that Quade will play him more frequently now that the Cubs are done for 2011. Let’s see what this guy can do.

What went wrong:

  • Without belaboring the point the Cubs gave up another walk-off, this time courtesy of Lopez. Why is this guy even on our roster? And why in the Sam Hill are we letting a notorious Cub Killer beat us?
  • Ramirez showed us why he’s not the defensive third baseman he used to be at third during the bottom of the seventh – he totally fumbled a transfer from his glove hand to his throwing hand resulting in an E5. Fortunately he got Theriot at second in a fielder’s choice on the following play.
  • Tyler Colvin is now hitting under .090, I really feel sorry for this guy but he needs to proceed directly to Des Moines and play every day. I’m not giving up on Tyler at all; in fact it’s perplexing as to why he hasn’t done anything since he got hurt. My guess is that five at bats a day for thirty days will get him back on track.

Tomorrow the Cubs go to Cincinnati to play my worst enemy, the Reds. It’s unlikely that I will be able to see any of the games since WGN will not be televising and the Reds organization chooses to black out Nashville, TN. The consolation prize is that I won’t see any Cubs losses but I wish them well and hopefully this six game skid will come to an end against Dusty’s team.

On this date in baseball history:

  • 1982: Cal Ripken began his consecutive games streak, a record that may withstand the test of time (at least for a while.) As a litmus test I would put it in the same category as Hack Wilson’s RBI record – some day someone will beat it but it won’t be any time soon.
  • 1989: The Sky Dome became the new home stadium for the Blue Jays. Funny how it happened in mid season – I can remember when it was the twelfth wonder of the world and it was drawing three million fans a year. Those days are long gone and the Jays have not been a significant team since then. Perhaps they should have a Welcome Back Carter Day.
  • 2000: On this date the Florida Marlins used their first round draft pick to select first baseman Adrian Gonzalez; for some reason they decided not to keep him. And finally:
  • 2002: The Houston Astros re-named their stadium “Minute Maid Park,” replacing the stigma of the former sponsor Enron. I’ve been to this ballpark and it’s not a bad place to see a game (despite the fact that it has a choo-choo.) Houston wasn’t the only city to have a stadium named after a corrupt company – my hometown football venue was named after Adelphia and the Regas family’s progenitors will likely spend the rest of their natural lives in jail. That having been said the Enron spectacle was one of the worst corporate scams this nation has endured – their top management scammed innocent investors and gamed the energy market in California with it’s market manipulations. I’m glad that Jeff Skilling got what he deserved but saddened that Ken Lay didn’t die with a guilty plea on is record, nor did he get the jail time that he so rightly deserved.

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

1st Star – Ryan Theriot (.471 WPA)

2nd Star – Albert Pujols (.371 WPA)

3rd Star – Carlos Zambrano (.320 WPA)

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Game 53 – Marmol Meltdown

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Cubs 3, Astros 7

Box Score / Highlights / Condensed Game

What went right:

  • The Cubs were “game” tonight, down 1-0 in the eighth they came back and took a 3-1 lead. Soto doubled and was replaced by Brad Snyder who scored when Houston pitcher Brad Lyles threw a ball away on a sac bunt by Colvin and Snyder scored. Colvin then advanced to second on the FC/E1. Barney then nailed a double off the wall which scored Colvin which made it a 2-1 game. Pena was then walked intentionally and Ramirez doubled him home making it 3-1. Things were looking pretty good.
  • I continue to be impressed by Tony Campana, although he doesn’t project to be a fixture in center field. He laid down a nice sac bunt tonight and came close to beating it out. He also helps out defensively when DeWitt is in left. This guy is fun to watch and he is rapidly becoming a fan favorite – he gives you everything he’s got.
  • The Cubs managed to put some guys in scoring position (although the weren’t able to get all of them home.)
  • As a general rule I like the effort that the young players are putting in – losing guys like Soriano, Byrd, etc. doesn’t bother me too much because we get to see our future.

What went wrong:

  • Men left in scoring position – this is what has really defined many of the Cubs losses this year. They get guys on but they don’t get ’em home.
  • Marmol was a little more than pathetic – six runs in the 9th? Come on Carlos! Worst I’ve ever seen him, he can plan his off time in July because he sure isn’t going to the All Star game.
  • Errors by Castro – the scoop to his left got him again for an error, he has to square his body up on those short hops or get used to 20 error seasons. He also made a mental error arguing with an umpire on a dropped third strike. Starlin needs to learn that he will not win those arguments but he may very well win a base if he runs these dropped third strikes out.

Tomorrow the Cubs will try to avoid a sweep against the lowly Astros. The game begins at 1:20pm and it will be telecast on WGN.

On this date in baseball history:

  • 1869: Baseball had it’s first rain out as the Cincinnati Red Stockings were unable to play against the Antioch Nine.
  • 1937: Carl Hubbell lost his consecutive game winning streak at 24 games. Hubbell was known for his screwball and it was said that his hand faced out when he walked after retiring.
  • 1938: Lou Gehrig played in his 2000th consecutive game.
  • 1964: Baseball had it’s longest game, a 7 hour 23 minute 22 inning affair between the Giants and the Mets. The Giants won it when Gaylord Perry threw ten innings of relief and got the win 8-6. Ironically it was the second game of a doubleheader.
  • 1966: Ron Santo appeared in his 364th consecutive game at third base, a National League record.
  • 1976: The Braves lose to the Padres 10-7. New Atlanta owner Ted Turner invites the 2994 fans who showed up for the game to the next game as his guests.
  • 2009: Carlos Pena is the first player to hit a ball into the A ring, the highest catwalk at Tropicana Field. The ball bounces off the roof scaffolding in play and is caught by the Twins’ Jose Mijares for an out.

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

1st Star – Carlos Zambrano (.325 WPA)

2nd Star – Matt Downs (.302 WPA)

3rd Star – Tyler Colvin (.251 WPA)

Turd of the Game – Carlos Marmol (-.901 WPA)

Official Recap Standings

Mark 6-4 (.600)

Joe 11-10 (.524)

Buddy 3-4 (.429)

Brandon 1-5 (.167)

Chet 0-2 (.000)

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