Tough Times

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ASTROS 5 CUBS 1
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
W: Brandon Backe (4-3) L: Greg Maddux (2-3)
ROCKIES 5 CUBS 2
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
W: Jason Jennings (2-6) L: Carlos Zambrano (3-3)
Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, Greg Maddux, Glendon Rusch and Sergio Mitre looks to be the rotation for the time being. That five, responsible for all but two of the twenty-one starts since the off-day on May 2nd, have combined for a 3.11 ERA over that time. And yet, in those nineteen games, the Cubs are just 9-10. The biggest reason for that is an offence which doesn't seem too interested in scoring any freaking runs. The result is quality starts from Carlos Zambrano such as yesterday's go wasted as Jason Jennings improves to 2-6 and lowers his ERA to less than eleventy billion. Short of the Cubs being afforded a fourth out in their half of the inning, it's not immediately obvious whether there's an available solution to these run-scoring problems. Outside of Derrek Lee and Jerry Hairston, the Cubs have no-one with more than a handful of at-bats with an on-base percentage above .321. Making outs at that kind of a rate ends big innings before they've even begun. A walk here and a walk there though keep frames alive longer, and that leads to more opportunities for hitters to drive runners home. Sadly, Michael Barrett, Jason Dubois, Corey Patterson, Jeromy Burnitz and Neifi Perez, five out of eight hitters in the lineup, have drawn just 34 walks between them all year long. Even more sadly, I wouldn't bet upon any of them, besides Burnitz, to walk at a significantly better rate from here on out. That's the real problem. The other real problem has been Aramis Ramirez. Unless he's injured though, it's unfathomable that he's not going to improve dramatically. His low average is related not so much to strikeouts or a lack of home runs but to nothing going his way on balls in play, as was the case earlier in the season for the now red-hot (but not walking) Michael Barrett. Average aside, there's not been too much wrong with Ramirez. He's striking out only fractionally more than he did last year, his walk rate is at its highest in his career and the power certainly hasn't disappeared. His return to form will definately help things, to an extent. Also potentially helpful will be the return of Todd Walker. The second baseman's bat is definately an asset. However, the same applies to Hairston's, who as I mentioned above, by virtue of getting hit by a ridiculous number of pitches, is only one of two in the lineup presently getting on-base at a good enough rate. The Cubs cannot afford to lose that. What they could and should instead do, I now think, is shift Jerry to left-field, full time, batting him lead-off ahead of Walker. Burnitz and Dubois can then sort right-field out between themselves until one of them exhibits a tool besides power. Corey Patterson meanwhile can hit sixth until the end of the time, and Ben Grieve can get on the first flight from Iowa. Besides Hollandsworth, he represented the only bench bat capable of actually hitting a lick while (you guessed it!) not continually acting as another step towards the end of the inning. Demoting him was as stupid a move as the Cubs could possibly have made. Well, besides batting Neifi Perez lead-off the next day. He's hit just .224/.256/.306 in May. Don't vote Neifi!
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  • If he puts up Soriano numbers I will be ecstatic

    jacos 1 hour 6 min ago view
  • I think Javy is learning--but he's learning to make contact, not learning to lay off pitches out of the zone. A quick glance at his plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs shows that his contact rate is up, especially his contact rate out of the zone, but his swing rate is up too, especially his swing rate out of the zone.

    Charlie 1 hour 41 min ago view
  • I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.

    Charlie 1 hour 54 min ago view
  • They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?

    QuietMan 3 hours 18 min ago view
  • Regarding Heyward--

    He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.

    What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.

    (All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)

    VirginiaPhil 3 hours 19 min ago view
  • Lester will probably be all right.

    I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.

    Seriously.

    VirginiaPhil 3 hours 25 min ago view
  • I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.

    billybucks 3 hours 29 min ago view
  • Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?

    VirginiaPhil 3 hours 32 min ago view
  • He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.

    But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.

    billybucks 3 hours 41 min ago view
  • The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.

    VirginiaPhil 3 hours 43 min ago view
  • Yup. Thanks Q

    The E-Man 3 hours 49 min ago view
  • QuietMan 3 hours 57 min ago view
  • I for one hope that Sosa comes back soon.

    Rob Richardson 4 hours 16 min ago view
  • O/B interesting you should mention that. Google ESPN Science Aroldis Chapman and you'll be treated to how his mechanics and delivery are possibly historic. It's the 120% of his body stretch plus the torque. They compare him to the Unit and NRyan.

    The E-Man 4 hours 54 min ago view
  • Amazing how much lower the production gets when Bryant runs into a mini-cold streak. He doesn't stay cold for long. If just one of Zobrist or, gulp, Heyward, gets hot, they oughta have one more really nice winning streak in them. Having a closer that you have absolute confidence in can't hurt.

    Old and Blue 5 hours 39 min ago view
  • I hope they hold onto Jimenez. Outfield depth is questionable, especially with McKinney, who struggled this year but still, gone.

    Old and Blue 5 hours 50 min ago view