Release the Hounds! Friday Night Foxhunt...

Ahh, opening night at the ballpark. The aromas of the stadium grills. The energy of the gathering crowd. The intense greenness of the diamond. The excitement in the PA announcer's voice. The flowers in the restrooms!?

Even the national anthem singer last night at Principal Park in Des Moines couldn't wait to get the Iowa Cubs' home season started. She zipped through a snappy rendition in a minute or so and away we went.

Alas, once the game was put in the hands of professional ballplayers it ground nearly to a halt right out of the blocks.

A nearly 40-minute first inning saw both starting pitchers walk in a run and get paid a visit from their respective dugouts on the mound.

When the I-Cubs finally got to hit, leadoff man Sam Fuld popped one foul down the third baseline and headed for first. A hustling batboy sprinted from the home team's dugout and grabbed at Fuld's bat, by then in the grip of Round Rock's catcher. Only the catcher wouldn't let go. The confused batboy looked up at him pleadingly and the catcher pointed his attention to the stands where the ball had landed. Fuld was on his way back to the batter's box and wasn't yet done with his bat.

The first inning might never have ended had the sizzling Jake Fox not swung at the first pitch he saw and grounded into a fielder's choice that broke up an otherwise monotonous, if profitable, stretch of four straight walks by Round Rock's impostorous southpaw hurler.

Later on Fox would fire a run scoring single and launch a towering solo homer to maintain his per game RBI average at precisely two and the I-Cubs eased to an 8-3 win in front of an unusually large and comfortable opening night crowd of nearly ten grand.

By the second inning the renewed joy of baseball had already worn off for many and the scoreboard was inviting children to the playground under the first base grandstands. Such are the times we live in.

First game kinks were fairly minimal. There were a few pitches clocking in on the scoreboard radar screen at 50 mph, but the whole operation was otherwise in mid-season form.

I'll be back there tonight to have a look at the Notre Dame receiver turned thrower. If, that is, I can keep myself out of the playground. Tonight's promo is an earmuff giveaway; they shouldn't be necessary if the weather holds. Tomorrow afternoon is Samardzija jersey-shirt day. I'll check to see if they spell it right...MW

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Comments

thanks for the fantastic report, Mike...

Jerry Blevins sent down by the A's btw...

Murton with a 1.035 OPS so far in Triple A with a HR and 2 SB's...

Harsh.

thanks for the AAA recaps...last one got lost in TCR being TCR...

also, milton bradley fined and suspended 2 games...

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=407941...

the last one had 146 comments, don't think it got lost...although most were regarding Bradley and Friday's game.

A little elaboration [had to hurry this morning to my son's ballgame; he knocked in the gamewinner in a seesaw 18-17 comedy of errors]: Fuld had a hustling triple to the right-field corner & is the kind of ballplayer I enjoy watching & rooting for...Bobby Scales stroked three doubles, is a switch-hitter and seems prospective...Randy Wells shrugged off his uneven first inning and lasted another four during which he fanned six and walked no more...Fox wears #50, tucks his pants @ Ruthian length & really looks menacing @ the plate right now - his manager [Bobby Dickerson] says, "there isn't a fastball he can't turn around..."

never mind about Scales' prospectability; I'd forgotten that he's 31 - a damn good 4A player though...

He has a sweet swing. Consider me a fan. Probably not the next Cub's all star, but I think he could hang in the bigs.

Ok, I'm in Seattle. I can't expect Fox to show the Cubs game out here...of course it's also blacked out so I can't watch it online either. That makes total fucking sense. But, what pisses me off is that there's also a Dodgers/Rockies game and a D-Bags/Giants game. But wait, which game are they broadcasting here? Yankees/Indians. What the mother fuck? I hate MLB, I hate Fox and I hate fucking Joe Buck. Fuck all.

[EDIT] Yes, Joe Buck, thanks for that analysis: "No one likes to see their ERA at over 28". Nothing like mailing in your knowledge of baseball.

I totally agree with you.

The Yankees Cleveland broadcast was frustrating. What was 10 times more frustrating was the fact that the game was a total laugher, and the local network (or Fox, whoever) didn't change over to the great (Cubs) or even decent (Dodgers) game. Instead they made us watch 7.5 innings of meaningless baseball with associated blather.

i got stuck with that game.

i think i heard for (almost literally) an hour how nice and up-to-date and awesome as all hell and better than hotels and etc etc etc...the yanks new clubhouse is.

i was bored with the game, too, but c'mon announce crew...

I ended up turning it off early. They didn't get my advertising money. So there.

Mike, in your next report please let us know how Cotts looks for the I-Cubs.

...at least temporarily, in a tie with 15 after hitting his second home run today in a record setting 20-2 romp (and still playing) vs the NY Yankees.

(insert second guessing Hendry here)

I know it's early and some guys (MB, Soto) haven't gotten going yet, but it really seems like this team is nowhere near as good as last year's.

We really miss DeRosa's power/versatility. The bullpen has been pretty brutal so far. The starting pitching has been very inconsistent, and for as much depth as we supposedly had I have no idea who our 6th starter will be when Harden gets injured.

Give them credit for winning more often than they're losing so far, but unless the bullpen starts throwing strikes and Bradley starts hitting (and stays on the field) I'm really nervous that we'll be looking up at STL at the end of the year.

I like this team just as much as last years, just have to work out the bullpen. Once Soto and Bradley join the fun the offense will be even better.

The starters just need to pitch at least 6, this team is going to score alot of runs.

I do think the bullpen will work out, just going to take time to shuffle guys in and out from Iowa. Surely someone out there in the world can throw strikes?

"Surely someone out there in the world can throw strikes?"

I know what you mean. I especially dont understand what happened to Cotts. Did Andy Pratt invade his body?

Yeah, it's way too early, bro. This team has thunder unmatched in the league besides maybe the Cards or Dodgers. I was a huge Derosa fan and I'm totally with you on that, but if you look at his numbers year to year '08 is way out of whack. I don't think he'll be able to repeat.

The bullpen definitely is troubling and as long as you have the likes of Neil Cotts out there, it will continue to be troubling; Neil Cotts is not a good pitcher. The team needs a LOOGY that can throw strikes in a bad way. Give Cotts another week or so, but if he doesn't start nailing things down I'm cool with seeing if Waddell or Papelbon can step up. It's not like they'll be able to do much worse.

I agree that DeRo probably won't quite get to his numbers from 2008, but I'd say he's very likely to hit 12-18 homers with a .350+ OBP. Not an elite slugger by any stretch, but a good bat with decent power who can play a lot of different positions well.

Fontenot might be able to put up similar numbers, but the problem is Aaron Miles. When Rammy goes down with his annual 15-20 game injury we're replacing his bat with Miles. Last year, DeRo just slid over and Fonty came in put up good offensive numbers.

It just feels like our bench is incredibly weak this year. I love the Hoffpauir addition, but with Miles and Gathright we're really struggling to come up with decent pinch hitters late in the game. I also think we need a much more versatile 25th man than Gathright. He's way too one-dimensional to take up a roster spot.

And the point I made in my original post about not knowing who our 6th starter would be is a legitimate concern, I think. Last year, Marshall was a very capable 6th man. This year, he's in the rotation and our 6th man is who? Kevin Hart? Please no.

I'd say the '6th man' is Samardzija and #7 is probably Guzman. Then you've got Adkins and Wells as rookies who might get a start. Now I'm not saying these guys are great but those are the names.

Heilman looked good in ST, too.

Yes, well, the Fox guys were handing the Indians their 2009 rings already after 12 games. Give the AL hurlers some time to adjust to DeRo, just as KC did to Hamilton last night. Looks like Josh already misses MB.

As far as Hendry, have you looked at what Pie and Isturis are doing in Baltimore? Kudos, JH! BTW, Brian Roberts is still tearing it up at leadoff. Let's start some trade talk rumors!

Miles hit with 2 outs, RISP was a big lift. Miles is moving in. Sorry, Font.

Bullpen: If they Start throwing strikes, the "out of option" guys will be switching to Padres uni's. Not that we can't take it all WITH these guys. Gooozzz has experience but doesn't, if you know what I mean. And Marmol clunking Pujols was, to me, in the Spirit of Championship Baseball. Carlos The Matador standing tall in front of the menacing horns! Great wins last 2! Don't let them get up today!

Lou is handling the bullpen like it consists of Marmol, Marmol, Marmol and maybe Gregg.

Love seeing these cocky Cardinal bastards choke this game. EFF them.

Am I the only one who wanted to see Zambrano pinch hit for Heilman in the 10th, instead of Gathright?

no

What is his purpose on the roster?

Gaithright isn't a bad player. He's super fast. In a late inning pinch running situation the guy will probably do more good than bad. As for pinch hitting I don't think thats his strong suit.

The Cubs haven't had a real speed guy off the bench in a very very long time.

Gaithright isn't a bad player.

Actually... yea, he is a bad player.

He's super fast. In a late inning pinch running situation the guy will probably do more good than bad.

Fast isn't very helpful if the player doesn't know how to use it. He has incredibly speed, but has struggled at points to be effective stealing bases, and he doesn't use his speed well defensively either.

Ok he's the 25th man who would you consider a 'good' 25th man across the major leagues?

Jake Fox.

Hmmm... that is a good question, and I would have to look into it.

But that really isn't my point.

My problem with Gathright is not in comparison to other 25th men, but instead in comparison to who the other options are/were for the Cubs.

Namely... I would gladly take Felix Pie over Gathright, and would probably rather have Jake Fox up than Gathright.

Pie better than Gathright? I think thats pretty much a wash.

As for Jake Fox, he's super hot right now and I think he'll be a right handed Hoffpauir clone, which wouldn't be so bad.

I personally like having a speed guy at the end of the bench. Just my personal preference I guess. I liked Ced Landrum waaay back in the day :)

Pie better than Gathright? I think thats pretty much a wash.

Well... we have already had this conversation, numerous times, back when Gathright was signed and Pie was traded.

But yea... I think that Pie is at least as good now, and will be better.

Pie is better defensively. Pie has more power. Pie is significantly younger.

But oh well...

Gath, at the present moment, is a better player than Fox and Pie. I respectfully disagree.

OH yeah, I forgot to say: Speed never slumps. *eye roll*

in case the team bus gets stuck in a tunnel after a 1000 car pileup, he can jump over the cars and get help.

great googley woogley !

Didn't realize that this was Guzman's FIRST MLB WIN. Who would have thought it wouldn't come until he was 27 years old.

BTW.... Soriano takes a lot of shit on here (and other places) for his D, but he deserves some credit for turning that double play late in the game today.

That was a huge play.

Sori doesn't have a particularly strong arm, but it's deadly accurate, he's been at the top of the league in outfield assists (adjusted for games missed due to injury) ever since he was moved to the OF. If only he knew how to go back on a ball hit over his head, he'd actually be a pretty damn good defensive OF.

Mini-rant: when Gathright came up, both Pujols and Barden were playing back, behind the bags. Why doesn't Lou have Joey drop a drag bunt in that situation down one of the lines? If he keeps it fair, he'd definitely beat it out and the Cubs win.

Mini-rant 2: Neal Cotts. Go away. Yeah, there'd be no lefty in the pen, but I'd rather have a RH reliever that can throw strikes than a deadbeat who keeps his job just because he's LH. Send him to Iowa, recall Chad Fox, and have Hendry start looking for a lefty middle reliever via trade.

Too late to trade Scott Baker back for Greinke? That post-draft trade is beginning to look like an epic screwup on my part.

I hadn't seen it mentioned, but nice clutch performance by Gregg in bailing out Marmol, and not a bad job by Marmol in the previous inning against the heart of the lineup.

Agreed, Gregg looked great out there. Nice to see him finally look dominant instead of average. If he can pitch like that 9 times out of 10, I think he'll be perfectly fine.

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