His Name Spelled Backwards is 'Ffej'

When the golden boy took the mound yesterday he must have felt right at home, what with the golden dome of the Iowa statehouse beyond the center-field wall and the Notre Dame fight song blaring over the PA system conjuring flashbacks of his alma mater.

Six innings and 101 pitches later Jeff Samardzija left having made another tentative promise on his well-financed junket through the bush leagues to the big-time.

He surrendered only one run despite walking six and recorded his first AAA win in his second start at that level.

If his dues-paying teammates resent his gilded glide through the system you wouldn't have known it by watching Koyie Hill throw out two base stealers or Luis Figueroa snuff out another threat by going way out of his way to snare a ball on the inskirts of CF and throw out the guy who hit it there.

Samardzija [I spelled it that time without looking it up] was also helped by a viagran breeze blowing straight in from LF @ 20 MPH. It caught one ball smoked to left-center and blew foul another that was thumped well beyond the RF fence.

Over the course of his season-and-a-half in pro ball the kid the Cubs lured from the NFL has now made 43 starts covering 229 innings. He's surrendered 257 hits and walked 94 while fanning 118. Not exactly glittering results.

Still, having now witnessed the most recent six of those innings I get why the Cubs got Samardzija.

First of all, he's imposing on the mound at 6'5" and 220. When he gets in jams he pitches like he's playing football. Case in point: Yesterday he faced Dallas McPherson in the top of the third protecting a 2-1 lead. McPherson leads all of pro baseball this year with 28 homers and just this weekend had a string of seven straight games with a homer snapped. To that point Samardzija hadn't topped 91 on the scoreboard speedometer. The sixth pitch of what ended as an eight-pitch strikeout registered 94 [scouts at Principal Park have told me that their guns consistently register 2-3 mph's faster than the ballpark's].

After looking like a prop at the plate in his first two AB's, Samardzija came up with the bases loaded in the fifth and got interested, slicing a sharp single to right through a drawn-in infield.

In short, the guy clearly likes to compete.

He threw first-pitch strikes to only 14 of the 24 hitters he faced. He only had one inning where he retired three straight. But his arm is lively and, money no longer being a concern, he seems to care mostly about winning. McPherson, a one-time phenom himself, was quoted in the local paper this morning as saying that Samardzija's fastball and splitter are both big-league caliber.

Once they're thrown as accurately as the Brady Quinn passes Samardzija used to catch, that's where he'll be throwing them, I suspect.

ALSO: His two RBI's yesterday give Micah Hoffpauir 26 in only 22 games with the I-Cubs this year...Figueroa almost suffered an improbable injury when he emerged from the dugout to lead-off in the bottom of the 2nd and was nearly run down by the golf cart the hot dog gunner was riding in...as a p.s. to AZ Phil's Pie post yesterday, I got to interview Felix once last year not long after he was sent back from his first taste of the 'bigs'. It was a rainy morning on a weekday with a matinee scheduled. An I-Cub official escorted me to a players' lounge area of the full, bustling clubhouse where I waited for Felix, apparently the last of the team to arrive. When he did he was sullen and practically non-communicative until the subject of his buddy Alfonso Soriano came up. Later our chat was interrupted by the team official who had to inform Felix why his rental car had been towed after he parked it smack dab in front of his downtown hotel late the previous evening and where he would have to go to get it back. It didn't sound like anybody was going to go get it for him which surprised me at the time. As for his general demeanor and tardiness to the ballpark, I was inclined to chalk them up as natural for a kid with his background in a strange place where the language too was unfamiliar. Given all the whispers going around Chicago media this spring about Pie's bad case of 'big-leagueitis', I have to wonder now...MW

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Comments

It looks like Samardzija will inherit Scott Eyre's bullpen spot next season, one of two spots reserved right now for pitchers with untradeable contracts.

Everyone is making excuses for Samardzija's numbers, but Piniella won't. If you want to see Samardzija in a game, make sure the score is lopsided.

In football, big-time college teams are the equivalent of baseball's Triple-A. Smart move by Hendry-McDonough, competing with the NFL for a college pitcher of unknown worth.

Yep, 6 walks in 6 innings for Lou will get you express mailed back to DesMoines.

C C Sabathia" !!

Also, Hendry claims his "pitching people" believe Rich Hill is making "progress."

And Lou said Gallagher was headed to the bullpen "until he responded to a fireside chat on the mound with Piniella on Saturday by showing some fire of his own in a strong finish to his outing."

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/10312...

given his FB background I'm sure JS won't wet his pants if/when LP whispers in his ear during a chat on the mound...

Also VP, JS played baseball as well as FB @ ND so I don't think his worth as a baseball prospect was entirely 'unknown'; he simply had the additional leverage of being a likely 1st round draft pick in the NFL on his side of the bargaining table...

okay, the contract they gave him was nuts, but they got someone with a lot of talent with their fifth round pick. That's after having no 2-4 picks.

Remember when Geovany Soto was a nobody? How about Theriot mucking along in the minors? Give it some time, folks...

I'm wondering if the Cubs could ask Fonzie to reach out to the kid at this point, seems he would at least listen to what his friend's advice would be regarding his current predicament.

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080629&c...

Braun's only 33 k votes behind him for 3rd, Ken "I am living off my reputation" Griffey Jr. passed him for 2nd and he is 210 K votes shy of him. I am all for voting for the guys who deserve it, but with 3 guys vying 2 spots, it should be Braun and Kosuke.

I really like Kosuke's game, but it is amazing that an OBP guy can look so bad striking out against LHP.

Done, what a pain in the ass. Curiously, the check boxes go back to checked each time, authorizing MLB to send you junk mail. I didn't pick Braun OR Jr, btw.

Why do you think they allow you to vote 25 times??!!!

yeezus, they're banking on you neglecting to uncheck a box at least once so they can make some money off ya.

according to espn

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3466661

CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano declared himself ready to return to the rotation after throwing a pain-free session in the bullpen Sunday.

The Cubs could use some good news. The team, which is coming off a sweep by the White Sox and has injuries mounting, also will be without leading RBI man Aramis Ramirez for some time. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Sunday night that the slugger has asked for time off to take care of a personal matter in the Dominican Republic and will miss the next three games against the Giants in San Francisco.

sorry this is 3/44 ;-{

Lou may have no choice but to pencil in the pesky redhead for a few days and move 'dero' to 3B...

K. Fukudome rf
R. Theriot ss
D. Lee 1b
G. Soto c
M. DeRosa 3b
J. Edmonds cf
M. Murton lf
R. Cedeno 2b

W.Cares
W.Cares
R.Winn
B.Molina
A.Rowand
W.Cares
W.Cares
W.Cares

Off the beaten path, but I like Lou's Gallagher-to-the-bullpen theory. I think he wanted to do this with Guzman last year before Guzman got hurt.

Given that Gallagher throws 93-95 as a starter, you can probably up that to 95-97 as a reliever. Also, I'm wondering if he stretched out Gallagher to 121 pitches Saturday because he doesn't have a strong intention on starting Gallagher much more anyway. Here's my guess as to what the Cubs' September/postseason bullpen might look like:

Wood
Marmol
Fuentes (think Lou/Hendry want him badly)
Gallagher
Howry
Lieber (long man; Lou trusts guys who don't walk people)
Eyre

"was also helped by a viagran breeze"

A viagran breeze. Hah!

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