Lucky Number 13

For the second time in a week the Cubs go 13 innings, but manage the win this time to keep a half-game lead in the NL Central as the Cardinals defeated the Dodgers (Brewers lost again to drop 4 back). The class of the Central division since June, the Astros waltzed into Wrigley on the shoulder of the über-hot Wandy Rodriguez (4 straight wins and 0.62 ERA in July) and he didn't disappoint, holding the Cubs to a run on 7 strikeouts in 7 innings. Z matched those 7 innings and one run, although with just 4 K's and 4 BB's. That left it up to the bullpens and the Cubs' proved to be just a little bit better tonight

Alfonso Soriano had goat written all over him, going 0/5 with 3 K's and
failing to run on a tap out to third base that he claimed hit his toe.
Then with the bases loaded and 0 outs, he got one more chance and
launched one deep to center on top of the center field restaurant for
the win and give the Cubs the opener.

Armchair Managing: In the bottom of the 7th with 2 outs after a Jeff Baker double, the Astros walked Koyie Hill intentionally  to force Lou's hand with Zambrano due up. Z did double in an earlier at-bat and was at 103 pitches and Lou stuck with Z for the at-bat. He mercifully grounded out to end the inning and then was replaced by Aaron Heilman to start the eighth. I mean, I love Z as good-hitting pitcher, but there are better options on the bench, especially if Z is done for the night. Of course, the game ends up going 13 innings and the Cubs needed all those extra bats, although they may not have if the pinch-hitter came through.

Armchair Managing II: Bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th with one out, Lou sends Mike Fontenot out to pinch-hit. Then Lou calls for the suicide squeeze to the surprise of everyone and Fontenot whiffs at the attempt and Bradley is out at home. I actually thought it was a good call, just poor execution. Fontenot would then add a poor throw to third base on a triple by Jason Michaels with two outs in the top of the 10th. A decent throw nails him by plenty, but luckily Jeff Stevens got the next batter.

The Bullpen: Speaking of Stevens, it was my first look at him since his call-up and I have to
say I like what he has to offer. He seems to have a little deception in
his delivery and his 93-95 mph seems to get up on the hitters with a
little late movement catching them off-guard. His breaking ball has a
steep drop that he was able to control...at least tonight.

For all the hand-wringing over the relief corp, they entered the game 6th in ERA in the NL(3.79) as a group and that ranking might improve after 6 scoreless last night.

Great Moments in Parachat: I could never do justice to a Transmission recap, but some solid offerings in tonight's Parachat..

  • The Mike Fontenot/Orphan parallel...add "Esther" to his list of nicknames
  • clothing optional charity dining with Ryan Theriot
  • Bobby Jenks bobblehead does not resemble Bobby Jenks
  • Brenly and 17 yr old gymnasts
  • Celebrity church-going and my brush with fame
  • Reminder to self to write down Parachat moments as they happen instead of trying to remember them 3 hours later
    • I have much to learn
    • appreciating Transmission's recaps...
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Comments

Two Soriano things:
- Way to Cadillac that homer. Stay alert up there tonight!
- What's the over-under in games on Alfonso realizing the Hit Alien has reinhabited his body, thus alerting the alien to depart once again for Planet Stroke?

Then Lou calls for the pitch out
---
proving suicide is painless?

Didn't see the game ... how did Samardzija look in his two innings? Was he a one-trick pony or did he have a decent breaking ball/offspeed pitch working at all?

did fox prove himself sufficiently as catcher to get the day-game-after-a-night-game start vs hampton on wednesday?

and here's hoping the cubs get more than 4 2/3 out of dempster tonight. the bullpen did a fabulous job monday night; replicating that performance tonight would be a tall order.

Fox looked so good behind the plate I thought he was Koyie Hill till I read this. Samardzija threw one heading straight for the wall and Fox snared it. Man I like this kid.

as with every position Fox has played so far, he looks uncomfortable but passable....

IF Lou called for the pitchout on behalf of the Astros, Cooper didn't listen apparently as the ball was over the middle of the plate. Guess poor execution on both teams...

OVER-UNDER ON DEMPSTER:

1. NUMBER OF INNINGS:

2. NUMBER OF WALKS:

3. HR'S:

I am going with 5, 4, 1

Hey Rob G. correct if I'm wrong but didn't Stevens give up a triple in one inning. The next inning he gave up a double, left two runners on base and Marshal had to finish the inning.

well it was a double that Fontenot's horrible relay throw turned into a triple. Then another 2-out double to Tejada followed by an intentional walk and Lou went with the lefty-lefty match-up and brought in Marshall.

So if he wasn't a rookie and Lou had any trust in him, it's possible Lou lets him face Carlos Lee and let's say he gets him out, which means 2 IP and 3 K's and a 1 WHIP, which last time I checked is good. 

I just liked the way he threw, but I also liked the way that Samardzija threw when he first came up and Sean Gallagher, so there you go.

From piratesreport.com:

The Cubs have stepped up their pursuit of reliever John Grabow, but they may not have the prospects to interest the Pirates.

(what? Matt Brubeck and Bobby Hill aren't enough this time around?)

That's really surprising that Josh Vitters and Andy Cashner isn't enough for John Grabow.

Rob G. who gets sent down to AAA when Dempster comes back today?

I assume Justin Berg, he didn't pitch the 5 days he was here...

A pinch hitter maybe gives you an extra 10% chance to take the lead, depending on who you go with, but if it's Hoffpauir it's less than that. Balance that against having an extra batter later, and I think it was the right decision. Plus Fox is the only guy on the bench who was more likely to give you a 3 run lead there, and then you get into the whole 'we can't take Fox out because Hill may get hurt' issue, and you wind up downgrading your defense someplace (and your bats if Lee or Ramirez are removed for Fox, and subsequently replaced in the lineup by the likes of Blanco or Baker as pinch hitters).

In other words, decision correct.

Yeah, I hadn't seen Stevens either and that was especially encouraging. I had the Astros feed on and one of their announcers said during Stevens stint something like "just what the Cubs need, another good young arm."

Damn straight.

And yay for Fox. See Lou, he can catch. Now, can he throw out runners....

He has a real easy delivery to the plate and the ball just gets on hitters fast.

Good to see.

Wonder what it would take to get Epatt back from Oakland?

Wonder if he could handle MLB 2nd base job at this point?

Could he be worse than Fontenot?

The heartbreak of the Fontenot AB was not just the missed bunt, but the fact he actually hit a fly ball that would have won the game had Lou not tried to get cute with the squeeze.

I haven't looked into the details too closely--it may very well have been the right decision. But I really wanted Fox to come in there and hit a fly ball in that spot.

Font was probably the right, actually. He was Lou's third straight lefty pinch hitter after Hoffpauir and Fuku, and Kosuke's insertion took Hill out of the game, meaning Fox was almost definitely going behind the plate if the Cubs couldn't walk off there.

They were facing the righty Valverde. So given all that, I expected Font to bat there as opposed to Blanco or Fox.

Now all he needs to do is spend an hour a day for the next two weeks practicing his bunting. If you can't hit better than .230, you'd damn well better be able to sacrifice.

If you watch that bunt attempt Esther's front leg totally bails out like he was trying to bunt for a hit.

In that situation all he had to do was make contact and the game is over.

Damn 'idget.

It's almost like he doesn't practice sacrifice bunting on a daily basis. This would have been his first sac of the year.

I don't expect an MLB player to practice a fundamental skill on a daily basis unless he has not yet mastered it. Yes, 97 mph is a fast pitch, but this guy is a professional hitter. If NL pitchers have to know how to do it, the hitters damn well better be able to.

So, say your manager asks you do something, which requires practice, that you haven't done in a high pressure situation in a year, and you fail at it. Whose fault is it, yours for not being psychic or his for asking you to do something you're not prepared to do?

An MLB manager's main job is putting his players in situations where they are going to tend to be successful. Lou failed to do that - this wasn't a "safety" squeeze, this was a suicide squeeze. That's do or die, regardless of what pitch is thrown, or where it is. As I understand, Fontenot then went on to do something that he was comfortable doing - i.e. hitting a fly ball to the outfield. Fontenot failed, but the main failure was Lou asking him to do something he wasn't likely to be able to do.

Players hit HR's in BP every day, but they don't do it in the games.

I agree with you on this. Among the scrappy qualities that Fontenot lacks (along with the ability to steal) is the ability to bunt. If he could bunt, it might be very good for him because he could bunt his way on base once in a while and maybe abbreviate some of his frequent slumps.

He's a fly-ball and line drive hitter who was in a good situation in the 9th inning until he got the bunt sign. Fontenot hits very few pop-ups and pop-flies. He does have a little weakness for balls breaking below the knees, which he usually turns into grounders to second. Otherwise, he tends to give the ball a decent ride.

In 22 plate appearance with a runner on third and less than two outs, Fontenot has driven in 13 runs, hitting .333 with three sac flies--compared to zero sac bunts this season.

Reason I care about Fontenot: love that swing.

Reasons I don't care about Fontenot: subpar fielder; a middle infielder should steal bases.

Reason I resent all the abuse heaped on Fontenot in TCR: He's of no importance. The Cubs have no investment in him. Every day, in order to play, he has to convince Lou that he'll contribute with his bat. At some point, Lou will lose confidence in his hitting and someone else will play.

So pick on one of the guys who is in the lineup already when the card comes from the printer. Pick on Bradley. Maybe he'll go bonkers, and then he won't have to be in the lineup.

Fontenot's %'s this year:

17.5% LD, 43.1% GB, 39.3% FB, 10.8 IFFB% (infield pop-ups)

among Cubbies that qualify, he's 2nd in infield pop-ups this year to Soriano, and third in groundballs behind Theriot and Fukudome. Now a FB 40% of the time isn't bad, but he's more likely -  albeit slightly - to hit a groundball this year.

I still didn't mind the call, if you're Mike Fontenot you should know how to bunt, god knows he doesn't have much else to offer right now.

What are Fox's numbers?

Or...where'd you get this info, Rob?

fangraphs...

in very limited ab's for Fox...

17.6% LD, 37.6% GB, 44.7% FB, 10.5% IFFB

thanks

Hendry said " I'd leave Kevin's room and the same names we talked about were on the Internet two hours later."

The Erin Andrews video guy must have the rooms bugged too.

Just another good thing about the Internet.

via rotoworld...


Daisuke Matsuzaka told Japanese reporters Monday that the Red Sox' required training regimen is to blame for his shoulder woes.

"If I'm forced to continue to train in this environment," he said, "I may no longer be able to pitch like I did in Japan." Matsuzaka has always been known for having an odd warm-up routine and it sounds like the Red Sox have been trying to break his habits. None of this is going to sit well with upper management.

One thing I haven't seen mentioned here yet is that there was a decent chance we would have won it in the 8th with LaTroy pitching, until the ump tossed him out of nowhere and Valverde had to come in.

Apparently, Aramis is 0-7 lifetime against Valverde with 5 Ks. I assume his numbers are much better against Hawkins. Anyway, it was really weird how he got tossed from the game, apparently for arguing from the mound. You just don't see that too often, and it arguably helped the Astros.

One other thing re: Fox catching. He was passable, but I don't know if he's using a brand new glove or what, but he dropped quite a few pitches that just bounced right out of his glove, including a strike 3 on Hunter Pence in which Pence clearly ran out of the baseline to avoid the tag, forcing Fox to throw to first and my heart rate to reach hummingbird levels. Oil that thing up, Jake!

Hopefully the long inning by Valverde means he won't be available tonight if the Astros have a late lead.

still hates Chicago

http://blogs.chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/spor...

"Maybe he was having a bad day," Hawkins said. "I thought he had determined who he wanted to win the game anyway."

from what I remember, Hawkins was unhappy with a call, ump took exception and stepped out and raised a hand like "enough already", and then tossed him almost immediately after that...either Hawkins said one more thing or made some gesture.

"I thought he had determined who he wanted to win the game anyway."

That just about sums up Latroy Hawkins right there.

Does Hawkins quote get him suspended or merely fined?

Any chance we can add Aaron Miles to a trade to Pittsburgh
or Washington and send 2 prospects also?

Stevens trade bait?

http://eastwindupchronicle.com/cubs-sign-wang-tsu-an/

The Chicago Cubs have signed their third player in Taiwan this year, inking 6′5 Sanhsin HS righty Wang Tsu-an to a minor league deal with a signing bonus reportedly exceeding 300,000.

Having been flamed by some for my "Fontenot Sucks!" diatribe this month, I hope you few can seeore clearly now.

As a major leaguer, who has been goimg down the toilet simce after his "torrid" start to the month, you MUST get a bunt down on that play.

I thought it was a beautiful call and a game winner. Lou does have a pulse.

A blown layup.

C'mon, Fontenot(29) isn't the first decent hitter to have a tough time at the plate for awhile. Case in point, Your 2009 Chicago Cubs. Case in particular, the man he replaced, Mark DeRosa, put up these numbers .239 .293 .320 .613 at age 29.

As for missing the bunt, what's so unusual about missing a bunt???? We've all seen players strike out bunting. And even while Bob Brenly was saying he liked Lou putting the squeeze on in that situation because he had done the same thing when he was managing he had to admit that his squeeze play failed as well.

The fact is, if Lou doesn't call for the squeeze then Fontenot's one-out fly ball scores the winning run and he's the hero of the game not the goat.

"if Lou doesn't call for the squeeze then Fontenot's one-out fly ball scores the winning run"

Do not agree. You cannot assume he would have had the same pitch to swing at, under the same circumstance. It is not just the whif, its his completely downward spiral since the first five days of July you were probably giddy about. Check his stats last 14 and 7 days.

He just as easily could have struck out as hit a an RBI fly ball.

And, BTW, plenty of people considered the 2009 Mark DeRosa the team's MVP. I do not think you can compare mighty midget to DeRo based on his current prowess at the plate.

Everyone keeps ignoring the fact that he also screwed up what should have been a "routine" relay that would have nailed the runner in the next inning. That play was huge (or would have been huge had Stevens not gotten out of that inning). He's not a big leaguer.

The way I see it Fontenot had some early success and because of that early success we collectively went all "Murton" on him. He's way way way overrated by Cubdom. Most other big league clubs would send him to the minors.

the relay throw is mentioned in the game recap...do you want "everyone" to just keep repeating it?

Damn 'idget
---
don't rile up the 'idget's of the world -- we don't need them boycotting TCR in short order.

After reading THIS the Ricketts deal seems a little shakier than it did before.

can't find the original Bruce Miles story, but Baltimore's asking price for Sherrill.

Baltimore's asking for way too much. Bruce said they wanted two of Cashner/Castro/Jackson/Carpenter to start the deal.

http://www.northsidebaseball.com/Forum/viewtopic.p...

It's tough being right all the time, but someone has to do it ; )

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/16878...

''It's hard to predict,'' Hendry said Monday. ''Nobody ever goes to work when you're in the race and doesn't want to try to do something that might help. And sometimes not the big splashy things that we've done in the past.''

In other words, don't expect Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee.

''Sometimes it might just be an incrementally better move,'' Hendry said, ''or something that makes you a little stronger here or there, which we'll try to do by Friday. I don't know if that will happen, but we'll try.'

Yeoman's work, Rob!

Alas, I would have rendered my recapping services, had mlb.tv not concluded that I was blacked out from the game, while cable TV concluded I wanted to see the Rangers' broadcast more than the Astros' broadcast...

Gaub has been at Iowa since late June, but he spent the first two weeks of July resting his elbow. Since July 17 he has pitched almost every other day, going two innings on one occasion and one and two-thirds on another.

7.2 innings, 0 runs, 4 hits, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts.

They're not resting him, so I have to think they're getting him ready for something. He certainly gives the Cubs an alternative to overpaying for an experienced journeyman lefty.

Mark Kotsay and cash to White Sox for Brian Anderson

Who was Kotsay playing for?

DFA'd by the Red Sox after their trades last week...

Thanks.

Cubs bullpen does move up a spot to 5th and now has a 3.70 ERA as a group...

Best BAA against of any group, but also the most walks...

starters and relievers are combined for 2nd in total strikeouts behind Giants as they try to keep that streak alive...thought the Cubs have played 2 less games than the Giants (32 K's behind them though)

but also the most walks...

*shakes fist at Zeus & Cotts*

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=ys-tradebuzz...

RSox supposedly offer up Bucholz in a trade offer for Halladay, says Blue jays are shopping Scutaro vigorously...

Rich Hill's career may be toast after yesterday's early hook. He apologizes and blames his troubles on continuing shoulder tendinitis.

http://breakingnews.baltimoresun.com/2009/07/28/i-...

mike fontenot, aaron miles, andres blanco, jeff baker...

pick your flavor of crap...i guarentee none will make anyone very happy.

i like fontenot's line-drive power upside and D (i know some dont)...but upside can only take you so far when you're not delivering it enough.

that said...miles, blanco, and baker are...well...yeah, they're miles, blanco, and baker.

ew.

Yeah, I'd be all for sending Fontenot down to Iowa to get himself back on track if we had anyone who could do a better job right now. But I'm still against trading for an overpriced second baseman. Part of the reason I'm willing to suffer through Fontenot's slump (in addition to his upside) is that he's earning near the league minimum and thus making it possible for the Cubs to have guys like Zambrano, Soriano, Ramirez, Lee, Lilly, and Dempster, not to mention the high-priced players who are not performing. Trading Fontenot for something off of the scrap heap solves little to nothing.

I'd be intrigued by Aaron Hill. I would only want Freddy Sanchez if the Cubs could get a bargain on him--which seems unlikely. Who else is actually available?

i thought his back was bothering him?

Dempster activated, Berg sent down...

Bourn, Keppinger, Tejada, Lee, Blum, Pence, Rodriguez, Coste, Oswalt

vs.

Fukudome, Theriot, Lee, Ramirez, Bradley, Soriano, Fontento, Hill, Dempster

Funny -- I thought we got rid of Bob Howry.

Why bring Heilmann in? Strange and very bad decision.

why bring stevens in to begin with? unlike the bench in the 9th the pen still had available players in it...ones that didn't throw 36 pitches yesterday.

i cannot keep up with the proper bullpen usage by the book of crunch...

yesterday you bitched that nobody has seen stevens and now he's used too much. Honest question...what are the bullpen guidelines that a manager should use?

don't pitch more than 3 days in a row? pitch count? pitches over certain days? use guys evenly regardless of game situation and leads? honestly, I really would like to know what you feel are the proper way to use them, there must be a pretty strict set of guidelines you follow that stirs up all this venom? And what managers in your opinion do a good job with their pen?

on parachat i joked it had been 3 months since he last pitched.

today i'm making a point about how a guy who threw 36 pitches yesterday...36, yesterday...was coming in with other arms in the pen available.

in a way they're related, but you don't see an issue with bringing in a kid who threw 36 pitches last night with marmol, heilman, gregg, samninja available?

i think that stands out a little more than joking about the 25th man not being used more than once a week.

and i have no idea where this "venom" i have is, btw...i assume parachat stuff.

pretty sure marmol was getting the day off today...and the pen has been pretty taxed lately besides Stevens.

But if you were truly just joking about Stevens not being used much (or Patton or whichever pitcher or player you keep making that joke about), my bad...

as for using Stevens, as I said the bullpen was taxed. Guzman and Marshall were already used. I'm guessing Marmol had the day off after being used 3 of the last 4 including yesterday (and I know you're very concerned about his over-usage).  Heilman had been used  3 of 4 including yesterday and Ninja pitched the last 2. Considering Stevens hadn't pitched in a week or so since yesterday, I didn't see the big deal. 36 is high, but not extravagant to use in b2b games, especially if you haven't pitched in a week.

I also would have prefered Guzman to not have given up that home run and to let Stevens get out of the inning instead of bringing in Heilman.

well, im not trying to wash over my belief that lou uses the arms in the pen in a weird manner or anything...if you're picking up that vibe you're on the right track.

i'm not outraged by it as much as i like joking about the "24-man roster" that patton/stevens have provided, though.

it's not like i expect these guys to throw 3-4 times a week, but i've seen guys used all year in situations that i find weird, especially blowouts. the whole early-season marmol/gregg 100+ pitch weeks...etc.

17 hits for the 'Stros. Ugh.

Sometimes you just have those games where the balls fall in.

I am not going to say Lou's management cost us that one, but it sure as hell didn't help.

Cards up 6-0 in the 6th, welcome back second place.

Jeff Smardzija hello Iowa.

Aaron Heilman sucks

(sorry, that's 3/44...but it feels good to say it)

I think you're being unfair.

To sucks.

Sucks is better than Heilman.

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