Cubs Look Unbeatable In Atlanta

I can’t say this with certainty, not having checked all the numbers, but I’m pretty sure the Cubs are unbeaten this year in games in which Alfonso Soriano clubs three home runs in the first four innings, every starting position player gets at least one hit, the starting pitcher allows one earned run or fewer in six innings or more, and our catcher steals a base. Overall, the current five-wins-in-six-games run has been handsome indeed. The Cubs have outscored the opposition (i.e., Braves and Brewers) 39-14. They’ve scored in the first inning of all five victories. Cub starting pitchers have thrown 37 2/3 innings while allowing just 12 earned runs (2.87 ERA) and the bullpen has yielded one run over 15 1/3 innings. Oh, yeah—Alfonso Soriano and Felix Pie have gone a combined 27-for-56 (.482) with 6 HR, 16 RBI and 16 runs scored. Handsome.
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Soriano has struck gold thanks to his baseball leprechaun Pie. Buddies off the field and now on. What a gigantic difference it makes when you have two guys at the top of the order who produce.

It's apparent that Felix Pie looks up to Alfonso Soriano. Hopefully Soriano can be a mentor to the young Pie and significantly aid his transition into the major leagues. Even if Pie doesn't hit, his glove in center field is worth its weight in gold. It makes a huge difference to have him patrolling out there.

But he is hitting, ST. He IS hitting. Huzzah for good baseball.

do we have another Pie in the minors somewhere that we can put in RF?

The Cubs made a huge mistake when they didn't take Pie with them after Spring training. I said so at the time. He had made the team. It was absolute nonsense ...just an ourtright lie...that he was being sent to Iowa for more "seasoning," nope ...he was sent down because the Cubs figured it was smart to finesse his contract so that they could control him for an extra year. And that was stupid because it led to the chaotic experiment of Soriano in center sandwiched between a platoon in LF and a platoon in RF that often included DeRosa looking puzzled as to why he was there and Theriot running around in mad circles under every flyball his way.

If the Cubs had kept Pie they would have started the season with Soriano comfortable in LF and probably not playing hurt, Pie in center making all the plays and the two of them ending innings early with their outfield assists. They are an outstanding pair of outfielders and have a calming effect on our pitching staff because of the confidence they give them. Not to mention the fact that Pie and Soriano are very close and Pie's presence helps Soriano hit if you can believe him.

It also would have forced a decision about the excess outfield baggage Hendry hired much earlier.

And just for the record, Pie's numbers from ST when he was told to flatten his swing and shorten it...

.352 .397 .407

Pie's numbers at Iowa this season

.389 .443 .563

And Pie's numbers since returning to the Cubs

.393 .400 .607

And most importantly is the intangible PIE brings to the team. Where he goes, his teams win. He played on teams with winning records all through the minors. Not easy in this system. And So far this year with the Chicago Cubs

Cubs are 17-9 .654 with Felix
Cubs are 10-23 .303 without

Cubs 12-8 in his first stint from April 17-May 9
Cubs 5-1 since he came back

Felix Pie would have kept the bullpen from blowing games? His powers have no limits....

Imagine putting Pie, Theriot, Fontenot and Kroeger in the same lineup? What hell we'd bring forth on our enemies

glad the kids up, PLAYING and hitting right now.

Barrett's been waking up, Lee's gotten cold, just need to start getting something out of RF.

Can Teixeira play right field?

"And that was stupid because it led to the chaotic experiment of Soriano in center sandwiched between a platoon in LF and a platoon in RF that often included DeRosa looking puzzled as to why he was there and Theriot running around in mad circles under every flyball his way."

The problem was not Pie's contract but rather too many veteran outfielders with guaranteed contracts.

Fonzie
Murton
JJ
Floyd

If you added Pie to that, it was even worse.

Thank God he's here and lets hope we continue to play .654 baseball with him. If so, win win the central easy.

CWTP-
I love your enthusiasm for the kid. Right now, he's doing great. But let's temper it a little with the assumption that he's not going to have a .393 average at the end of the year.

With the knowledge everyone had on April 1, it was a smart decision to leave him in AAA. Otherwise, we might all be bitching in 2010 or whenever when we don't have him under club control for an additional year. No one could have predicted Jones, Murton, and Floyd would have all suffered this miserably so far.

I love what Pie is doing so far, and he's absolutely been a spark plug for the offense. But hindsight is always 20/20. Let's hope he continues this torrid pace, and at the very least he'll continue to play a great centerfield. Just don't start handing out the MVP award.

Obviously Felix is not going to hit .393 for the rest of the season, but i'd be ecstatic if he stays around .280 which is where he is now.

Felix is at .286 and has the OPS near 800. He just needs to develop some plate discipline, if he can get his OBP around say, 340, for a rookie that would be terrific. Everything else about Pie's game screams "Here I am."

We should probably temper the Pie enthusiasm SLIGHTLY by noting he hasn't had many ABs against LHP, and when he has, he's looked very VERY overmatched. Cubs will need to platoon him for this year, but that's OK. I can live with Pagan every 4th game or so as a RH hitting substitute in CF. He has a little pop and terrific speed.

but if the Cubs platoon him, how will he ever learn to hit LH major league pitching?

Floyd on the beverement list, Fontenot takes his spot:
http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?...

do we have another Pie in the minors somewhere that we can put in RF?

Tyler Colvin. Starting sometime in 2008.

Felix Pie would have kept the bullpen from blowing games? His powers have no limits….

no, Felix alone wouldn't be enough, he would need Fontenot to accomplish that feat.

http://tinyurl.com/2u4gm8

Sun Times Headline:
...Gordy Wittenschmidt calls Fonty "David"

Floyd, who was consoled by teammates and manager Lou Piniella before leaving Turner Field, was placed on Major League Baseball's bereavement list, and it's unclear when he'll rejoin the team. A player on the bereavement list must remain there for a minimum of three days and no more than seven.

The procedural move allows the Cubs to replace him on the roster, which they plan to do by recalling middle infielder David Fontenot from Class AAA Iowa in time for tonight's game against the Atlanta Braves.

Doug -

Uh... why do we have to assume that? The kid is a stud and a real blue-chip prospect. Ain't saying he's guaranteed to hit .393 on the season, but it's not entirely out of his grasp either.

CWPT: I completely share your enthusiasm (I felt the same for C-Pat, early on) re Pie. However, its my opinion that the GM "strongly suggested" that Lou should try to get JJones going and keep him in as many games as possible.

Unfortunately.

Didn't our pal Bogey tell us Levine reported that Hendry had a deal in place for JJ and Lou talked him out of it over the offseason?

and it isn't it Lou who said he had to give his vets at-bats especially early in the year to get them going?

http://cubs.scout.com/2/650278.html

interview with Vitters...

Your high school coach, John Weber, told us that you have 20-10 eyesight. When did you first discover that?

I went down to Dr. Greg Harrison a few weeks ago. He’s a renowned guy that a lot of major league teams use. He said that I had the best eyes that he’s seen since Barry Bonds because he actually worked with Barry. It was a pretty good compliment.

Actually, the Cubs' current run has nothing to do with Pie. It's because I've been playing one of those computer baseball games with Sori and Pie 1/2 in the lineup and scoring a lot of runs, sending good mojo the Cubs way. I started playing the game six games ago, and it looks like I'll have to keep playing the rest of the year, me being the superstitious bastard that I am.

Of course, in the game I managed to pick up Randy Johnson somehow and I turned him into our closer, and Demp is a starter. Oh, and I signed Javy Lopez. Other than that, same basic lineup.

I only started playing because the real team was making puke every night.

maybe the cubs should have expermimented with putting Soriano in right field to begin the year.

with Pie waiting in balance, soriano was only going to be roaming CF for a short period.

that would have allowed Murton & Cliff to play the only position they are capable of.

go Pie go

There's a reason why every team that talked trade with Hendry over the past two years has consistently mentioned Pie - the kid had all the tools that the scouts love to see, and his age only accentuated his potential. Give credit where it's due; Hendry didn't give the kid up - one of the better non - trades he's made in his tenure (add Rich Hill to that list as well).

Old & Blue: Which game?

I saw Pie play alot last season at Iowa and I must admit, to this point, he has developed much quicker than I thought possible. He was almost completely undesciplined last year at the plate. His defense has never been questioned but his offensive skills have really improved.

GO Cubs GO

After braggin up Pie on my last comment. I will reserve some optimism until he has been around the league a turn or two. We all remember hitters who fell off badly after major league pitchers found a chink in their strike zone.

GO Cubs GO

My two cents on Pie:

Its gonna take him a couple of years to become the super star that he is going to be. But until then, he's gonna play just fine.

I agree with Rob that we know now that it was Piniella, not Hendry, who was responsible for JJ starting the year with the Cubs and blocking Pie. That's what happens with new managers. Chalk it up to Lou's learning curve.

I'm working on a theory that players who feel unloved by their current employers don't have good years. As far as I know, the Cubs haven't talked to Barrett about the future, beginning in 2008. He knows he's not wanted and he's playing like it.

JJ had a bad last year with the Twins, and now he's having a miserable year after hearing all winter that the Cubs were desperate to move him.

Soriano was heading to free agency last year but the Nats wanted him.

Pierre did okay. I guess he's a counter-example.

Anybody like or hate this idea?

I guess Andruw Jones is another example. He knows that the Braves feel that eleven years of an HOFer's career is enough.

You obviously know a lot more about baseball than me, VP - but doesn't a body of evidence exists that suggests players usually outperform their career averages in so - called "walk" years? I don't know how you factor in whether a player's existing team still wants him back, but this phenomenon seems to occur more often than not.

And Pierre didn't exactly feel unloved, since the Cubs had just traded three young pitchers for him.

Interesting theory. Barrett loves Chicago. I don't he's playing poorly because "he's not feeling the love." I think offensively he is slumping (homerun or not) somewhat and defensively, he's terrible and his confidence and concentration is falling apart. Witness last year when he played on the US team, he caught for Clemens. He didn't exactly become Johnny Bench overnight, but his catching was a little better and he was hitting very well. He was better focussed. We've seen the best he can do and frankly, it ain't enough. I love that he likes being a Cub, but he is the prototype bad Cub the team always seems to have. We aren't going to get Pudge (thank goodness), so how about Schneider...or Javy ...or Mike Scoscia...or...?
JJ can leave too. No offense, I like the guy, but he is a buzzkill.. Go Cubs!! Keep up the winning.

So maybe we can buy this for Jack and Mikey and it will make them all better:

http://www.makezine.com/blog/img413_392.jpg

(this picture is a safe link, I promise)

Levine closed out his show today by saying the Cubs are "committed" to playing Pie and trading an OF.

I also love the way Pie is playing and agree that with his defense a BA of .285 - .300 would be acceptable since he doesn't walk much. The big test will be whether or not he can adjust when the league adjusts to him. One only need look at the less-toolsy but damn fine minor league and rookie-season hitter Dwight Smith to see what can happen when a hitter can't make adjustments.

What I find remarkable about this 5 out of 6 streak is that this club has done it while Derrek Lee has posted a robust 172/314/276 line.

Having Soriano at 545/571/1242(!) and Pie's #'s mentioned above over the same time period sure helps.

All I know is Lee better start getting me fantasy points again! It's all about my team!

Lou has had his ups and downs, but one thing that I like about the guy is that he seems perfectly comfortable with reversing a decision if it isn't working. His predecessor was notoriously stubborn and didn't like making changes that might highlight the fact that he made a bad original decision, but Lou doesn't seem to be hindered by that kind of insecurity.

Lou gave JJ a chance and benched Pie because he believed it was the right thing to do. It didn't work. So, he simply changed his mind.

Too many managers (hell, too many people in life) seem to feel that sticking with a decision is a sign of strength, and changing one's mind is a sign of weakness. That kind of thinking can ruin a baseball team.

It's nice to see we have a guy that doesn't get emotionally attached to his decisions.

lou would have to consistantly do something 2 days in a row to commit to something. he still hasnt figured out what to do with most of the pen and injuries seem to be the only time the lineup stabilizes. dont care about that stuff, personally.

no one wants to talk about batting 2 speedy non-ob% guys up front in the lineup 1/2, huh? that's an old chestnut not been dusted off for a while. but i guess its hendry making lou bat soriano/pie back to back.

=p

Well said, crunch.

its not that i hate lou or love dust...im just kinda thrown for a loop about what's dusty's undeniable fault via hardheaded stubbornness vs. what lou surely is being forced to do by others because he's bigger than jesus on stilts. things lou isnt "accomplishing" are the fault of those above him forcing his hand or the 1/2 of lockerroom from last season's team is somehow tainted by dusty making them perform like they are now.

to too many it ultimately comes down to looking at everything but the people actually gaining the stats, the players.

the sad flipside is on a performance basis a lotta these guys arent performing as they did under dusty so far...in a negative way.

crunch... to be fair, there is a big difference between batting Pie 2nd and Neifi! 2nd.

Pie is a young prospect with loads of potential. He also has phenomenal speed.

Neifi was a veteran with extremely little ability and less potential. He also had mediocre speed.

With that said... I do not expect Soriano and Pie to have good OBP at the top of the lineup, which does worry me.

And Colin, no... there is no chance that Pie hits .393 all season. It is most definitely out of his grasp, and I would put money on it.

"...no one wants to talk about batting 2 speedy non-ob% guys up front in the lineup 1/2, huh? that’s an old chestnut not been dusted off for a while. but i guess its hendry making lou bat soriano/pie back to back."
_______________________________________

There's a massive difference between the "speedy non-OBP guys" that Dusty gave the most AB's to and the 2 guys that Lou is using in the same spots. Dusty used his 2 worst offensive players at the top of the lineup far too often because he thought their speed had some kind of value or some other non-sense. Soriano and Pie (to this point) are actually producing. If Dusty was here, it's safe to say that Izturis would be his #2 hitter.

bjs... i agree.

i do worry about low obp guys at the top of the order, but comparing pierre and neifi to soriano and pie is pretty silly.

you mean todd walker batting 2nd? cuz he had twice as many games and ab's hitting 2nd last season. when he wasnt there he was hitting 3rd a lot...covering for the 1st baseman with the broken arm.

neifi hit 2nd in like 25 games...it just seems like 162. it was a long season.

season before when his speed was more in tact he hit 2nd for a good chunk of the year when t.walker and matt lawton and werent (walker got more plates in the #2 slot, too).

todd walker...your cubs #2 hitter when healthy more often than not. *shrug*

well in 2004 he was the #1 hitter a lot. go figure.

and no, its not safe to say what "dusty would do" since there's so many dusty critics that just wanna automatically throw the most crap option they can think of and say he'd do it. ya know...lou's been doing a lotta things dusty "would do"...there's just not a lotta talk about it.

i mean, if dusty was in charge and did exactly (100% exactly) every move lou made this season there would be plenty to pick apart and dissect starting with the fact this team is 5 games under .500 in june carrying a mostly healthy lineup/pen/starting for most of the season.

not that what i believe matters much to lou, but if i were him i would at least consider flipping lee and pie in the order.
lee has looked miserable since his white sox grand slam; perhaps he is still hurt. perhaps he is pressing after being the one who called for the player's only meeting, i have no way of knowing.
in any event, he would appear to be trying to hit home runs and instead popping everything up; seems to me the formula is hit line drives and the home runs will follow.
no way for me to present this numerically; just a hunch that if he batted 2 his natural patience coupled with the need to hit to right/advance soriano would break up his funk.

Let's pick up another game tonight.

Go Jason Marquis vs. Tim Hudson, and Go Brandon McCarthy vs. Ben Sheets.

Go Alfonso .. next time maybe you'll get someone on base for ya.

WRONG!

WORNG!!!

Dusty was using Izzy #2 - He'd rarely be playing Theriot with Izzy/DeRosa available, let alone batting Theriot #2 the way Lou did when he was hitting. And as 433 mentioned so eloquently, Lou is willing to play the hot hand. He doesn't have such a fragile ego that prevents him from admitting he's wrong... that something's not working, it's time to change it.

Using Walker at the top of the order was one of the right things Dusty did. Using Neifi anywhere but #8 was punishable by death.

I'd have TheRiot/Fontenot at the top of the order and we'd be leading the division by 10-12 games.

Any manager who openly states that walks "just clog up the basepaths" is truly an idiot. Lou is not a genius, but I have yet to hear him spout nonsense of that magnitude.

you mean todd walker batting 2nd?

Todd Walker was always a decent obp guy - one of the best on the cubs if I recall without looking back at the numbers.

i were him i would at least consider flipping lee and pie in the order.

Seriously? You would bat Pie 3rd? Pie doesn't belong anywhere near the 3rd spot. I have no problem with Lee batting second, at least when A-Ram is back, but Pie is not a #3 hitter, which is where you typically put big time run producers.

Don't be blinded by Pie's fast re-start. I like Pie, but there is no way he continues to maintain a line of .393/.400/.607.

"WRONG!
WORNG!!!"

aw...i didnt make the facts, the players did. blame them.

crunch... Todd Walker had an OBP over .350 in each of his years with the Cubes (.352, .355, .352), so I really am not sure what you are trying to get at when you talk about Walker and low obp in the Dusty era.

Lou does seem to have a pair of those "dugout dice", though he is at least playing the hot hand and building his lineups accordingly.

On the other hand, his use of the bullpen is ugly. Too bad he doesn't have the 2005-2006 version of Howry and Eyre.

“just clog up the basepaths”

And this phrase is used out of context for the 1,398th time. Way to go TCR!

Smoltz out of tomorrow's game! Cubs draw Buddy Carlyle. Can I get a hell yeah? =)

Seriously? You would bat Pie 3rd?

yes.
temporarily.
he is as hot as lee is cool.
try it for 5 games and take stock of the situation.
soriano is the leadoff.
aram is day-to-day or worse.
floyd is temporarily unavailable (all best wishes to he and his family).
lee needs the jump-start.
anybody else in the 3 spot is as laughable a suggestion as mine, but i guess you chose not to offer one.
jones? no thanks.
murton? no thanks.
de rosa? no thanks.
barrett? not likely, but let's see in 5 games.
maybe it goes back to soriano-pie-lee-aram; it was only a temporary suggestion.
in the interest of having the hot bat do the most good, coupled with the need to get the real number 3 back on a roll.

Yep, I still would like people on in front of Soriano. Imagine how those HRs would have looked with people on base?

Solo HRs aren't going to win us many baseball games because very rarely are we going to get 4 of them in a game.

Also, I think Crunch's point was that Dusty batted Walker the majority of time at second and he actually had a good OBP, which is a point for Dusty.

Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong Crunch:-)

SORIANO - LF
PIE - CF
LEE - 1B
BARRETT - C
JONES - RF
DEROSA - 3B
FONTENOT - 2B
IZTURDIS - SS
MARQUIS - P

I wonder if having Pie around has helped Soriano relax at all offensively. Those two guys definitely seem to have developed a close bond. They always seen to be sitting next to each other in the dugout and chatting amiably. And it seems like maybe when one guy gets a hit, the other wants to respond in kind. So I do think that Soriano can be a mentor to Pie but I think that having Pie around as a buddy maybe is helping Soriano relax a bit more at the plate.

Who can Fontenot take under his wing and mentor?

Dusty said guys who can't run just clog up the bases when they get on. What was the context that we're missing?

He said the same thing on ESPN, this season.

The problem is that, in addition to being stubborn, Dusty is just plain dumb (D-U-M-B) in that he turns his ignorance into a manifesto.

Who can Fontenot take under his wing and mentor?
____________________________________

D-Lee... he'll probably come out of his slump with Fontenot playing next to him.

Fontenot goes 2 for 2 with 2 bases on balls, 2 RBI, a double and a triple. He turns an unassisted double play. Comes in to close it out in the 9th.

make that a triple play...

What he was saying is that a slow guy who walks, with no one on base will take at least two more hits or more to get him home. SO, maybe he's better off swinging the bat so that he may hit a home run or double. This is not dumb at all. A walk for the sake of a walk isn't so great.

He wasn't advocating swining at bad pitches and making an out, he was advocating be aggressive and utilzing power.

i back dlee to get some hits today. he's too good to be this bad.

I'm callin' it-- a double for D-Lee in the first inning.

YOU THE MAN ROMERO

I was close-- a single and an advance to second on the throw.

But not bad.

D-Lee's gonna triple down the right field line in the top of the third.

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