The 162 Game Preseason Begins
That was the title for my entry for the Maple Street Press team preview I wrote, and pretty much sums up how I'm approaching the 2008 season. Oh sure, I should be grateful for the back-to-back playoff appearances and the fact that the Cubs are the favorites to do it again. But I'm just having a hard time mustering the excitement right now. It seems a lot like the 2008 team, and sure I'm curious about the new blood, but they don't quite have my full attention yet. Plus, after last year, what could they possibly do during the season to make me any more confident about their postseason chances than I was last year? Well they could be healthy and Harden and Z could be hitting 95+ regularly in Septemeber, but that's about it. And I have to wait until September for that to happen.
So now that I peed all over your Opening Day enthusiasm (send hate mail to carriedotmuskatatcubsdotcom)...on to the game we go.
We're going to scale back the game previews this season by the way. I hope no one minds. Not that it would change anything if you did. If there's something particularly interesting about the day's game - like it be Opening Day for example - something might go up, otherwise just use the last post to talk about the game if you're not in Parachat. We will try to do more game recaps though - not all of the Transmission variety - to cover the gap.
|LF Soriano||2B #Matsui|
|CF *Fukudome||C Rodriguez|
|1B Lee||1B #Berkman|
|RF #Bradley||LF Lee|
|3B Ramirez||SS Tejada|
|2B *Fontenot||3B #Blum|
|C Soto||RF Pence|
|SS Theriot||CF *Bourn|
|P #Zambrano||P Oswalt|
Carlos Zambrano 12-7, 2.70 ERA vs. the Astros in his career in 166.2 IP; a 3.58 ERA in Minute Maid Park.
Roy Oswalt: 12-11, 3.11 ERA vs the Cubs in his career in 160 IP.
Join us in Parachat for the game, Transmission should be recapping the festivities.
Meanwhile on the SouthSide
For sure! Russell and Baez are the first infielders in a while to make me think of star defensive players in football or basketball--it's almost like they force turnovers, and they definitely play the field with a degree of athletic aggression I'd expect from a linebacker.
[Edit: Was meant to be a response to JB above.]
tebow hit a HR in the 1st pitch he sees in instructs..lulz.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?