Cubs Enjoy the Company of Pirates

The Cubs record against the Pirates the last three seasons and its affect on the team overall record.

  Overall
Against Pirates
Record w/o playing Pirates
2007 85-77 .525 8-7 .533 77-70  .524
2008 97-64 .602 14-4 .778 83-60  .581
2009  70-67 .511 8-2 .800 62-65  .488

I was expecting it to make a bigger difference to be honest. Even at a .581 winning percentage, the Cubs would have had the best record in the NL last year and - at least in the Brewers case - they had plenty of success against the Pirates as well in 2008 (14-1). This year you could definitely make a case for them living off the fat of the land.


- The Cubs tied some major league record with 8 hits in the first inning yesterday. The 2009 season has now been redeemed.

- Some fans will be happy to hear that Milton Bradley left after the first inning because of some hamstring tightness.  He was going to get a day off on Wednesday anyway and the Cubs were up big, so probably no big deal. According to the article, if he plays in 23 of the last 24 games, he'll match his career high in games played in a season.

- The same article says Andres Blanco and Sam Fuld probably won't be available until Friday. 

- Reed Johnson is likely out for the season.

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Comments

Any chance Skinny Dick gets us draft pick compensation?

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2009/09/elias-rankin...

right at the cusp of "B" status and missing another month might drop him out unfortunately....

Thanks and thanks.

Some good news there is that Grabow and Harden are squarely in the A category. Figgins and Polanco (if those are targets) are at the bottom of the A and Jack Wilson is at the bottom of the B's.

lefty marmol...i mean, grabes...is almost a sure thing to be re-signed.

no team in their right mind would give up a first or second round pick for Grabow or Gregg (I know, you didn't mention Gregg)

Mariners seemed to give up a lot for Wilson and Snell, I would assume they plan to pick up his option.

I could see a team giving up a 2nd round pick for Grabow. Well... I guess you mean besides the Cubs, but a late second round could be like the 80th pick. I could definitely envision the Yankees making that deal, for example, assuming they can just pay above slot to grab a 2nd round talent later in the draft.

well there is no shortage of stupidity in this world....so I should never say never. Cubs though would be much better off if they were all Type B except Harden.

I wouldn't be terribly upset if he comes back. Offer him arbitration and if some team wants to give him a 3 year contract - have at it. I would guess that he's not going to get a huge raise, because you could find enough comps who had good seasons at reasonable salaires.

You know TRN..when we're not discussing Milton Bradley....I agree with you mostly.

I know Bradley gets injured often, but a hamstring injury is always especially worrisome because they tend to linger for months. I hope he's tip-top by the time ST rolls around.

He was having an interesting September.

.267 BA=.267 OBP 9 straight games at this point without a walk.

We know... you told us the same thing yesterday, as if the 8, and now 9, games are at all relevant.

That's like saying the 8 hits in a row the Cubs had yesterday were irrelevant. Or MB's .118 BA in April was irrelevant because he only had 34 AB's.

Of course it's relevant when a stat manipulator like Uncle Milty, a guy who wants the umpires to be aware of what a great eye he has for the strike zone, decides to hit like Neifi Perez instead of Milton Bradley.

9 starts in a row without a walk. He hasn't had a walkless streak like this one all year and coming off a 23 walk July and a 15 walk August it's like there's an imposter wearing his uniform.

The last time I remember a September OBP performance like this was 2006 when stat padding Juan Pierre needed 37 hits to reach 200 and wound up .323 .333 for the month. Unfortunately, the hits aren't coming fast enough yet for MB to raise his season stats up nearer his career numbers.

Just out of curiosity here, do you have a point of some sort?

People complained about Milton walking instead of driving in runs - now he's batting fifth, trying to drive in runs, and you're complaining that he's not walking enough. Yep, I think that gets us up to date. What exactly do you want him to do?

I'd like him to do what he was hired to do, hit in the middle of the order and drive in runs. They certainly didn't hire that big oaf to bat second. That's what middle infielders are for.

Agreed. Heaven forbid our manager uses players in the positions they're most suited for. Is it Theriot or Baker that you would have batting second?

It makes the Cubs a little better to bat Fukudome first and Bradley second. Both players are comfortable in roles where they don't have RBI responsibilities. (Fukudome, who is having a good season with the bat, just got to 50 RBI in the second week of Sept., while Bradley is inching toward 40. Remember that like Bradley, Fukudome was acquired to play right field.)

Medium- and long-term, however, the Cubs want to unload both players. Nobody will want Fukudome as a leadoff hitter. He has 6 SBs and 9 CS's. Nobody will take Bradley off our hands if his job description is that he plays right field and bats second. If you don't get RBI from your right fielder, who is going to bat fifth and do that job for you? Theriot? Baker? Zambrano?

I can think of a leadoff hitter who had a similar offensive skill set to Fukudome's - Wade Boggs. You don't need to steal bases to hit leadoff, you need to get on base. Then there's also the fact that left field is the #2 offensive position in baseball and we've been hitting our left fielder leadoff for the last three years.

It's not the end of the world if your RF and CF bat #1 and #2 in your lineup. If Soriano comes back healthy, he can hit #5 next year and drive the other four guys in. What about 6-8? Who cares, really? When you've already average a run every time the first 5 guys bat whatever Soto/Theriot/Baker do is icing on the cake.

If Fukudome could hit like Boggs, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

"I can think of a leadoff hitter who had a similar offensive skill set to Fukudome's - Wade Boggs. You don't need to steal bases to hit leadoff, you need to get on base."

Nice insult to Boggs, one of the best pure hitters in modern baseball history.

Boggs career OBP .415
KFuk career OBP .368

Yeah very 'similar'.

Put Fukudome in Fenway for half his starts, and throw out his horrendous 2nd half of 2008, and they are very similar.

Yea.... Boggs was helped just a bit from Fenway:

Home: .354/.443/.491 OPS: .934
Away: .302/.387/.395 OPS: .781

Away from Fenway, Boggs was just mediocre.

His Fenway numbers were even more crazy, I think a .475 OBP (don't feel like looking it up again). That being said, he had the bat control to pound the ball off the Green Monster. Had he played all his home games at some other park, he probably would have figured the best way to get a lot of hits there.

My point is that he was a high OBP guy who didn't steal a lot of bases, but went to the playoffs a lot and scored a lot of runs.

His Fenway numbers were even more crazy, I think a .475 OBP (don't feel like looking it up again).

Wow... .369/.464/.527 OPS: .991

Neither one is my idea of a leadoff hitter, but you do come up with good examples to prove your points. I don't mind Fukudome too much these days. He's almost tradeable, which tells you how far he's come back. Tradeability is a big thing to me. If a guy is good, why can't you deal him? Zambrano never bothers me too much, because realistically, they could trade him tomorrow. Teams would line up. I'm not sure why, but they would, partly because of his age. (Also, some other teams might have decent pitching coaches!)

I'm not sure if Bradley's contract will ever be tradeable, even if the Cubs pay half. And Soriano will never be tradeable. And don't kid yourself, paying a guy $18 million means that no manager can ever bench him.

I'm not sure if Bradley's contract will ever be tradeable, even if the Cubs pay half.

So Fukudome is tradeable, but not Bradley? Huh?

Since you inquired in your usual charming manner--

Fukudome is not a slugger, but his SLG is .442. Bradley's is .414.

As you pointed out the other day, Fukudome is batting .286 with RISP. Bradley's number is .225.

Any positive stats you have for Bradley involve bases on balls, which impress stats-oriented fans, who are the enlightened ones, of course, more than they impress GMs and other baseball people.

I used to wonder why Bradley had such low HR and RBI totals over his career. The explanation was always that he was injured a lot. But this year he has low totals and he has missed very little time. Of course, the manager benches him whenever he can, which is not very often since the Cubs owe Bradley a lot more money for a long time and need to keep applying the lipstick.

I would be surprised if Bradley plays again after the Cub contract expires. He made his bundle--off of us.

Baseball Reference says that Bradley's slugging is .452 and Fukudome's is .408. If that were park adjusted it would be a wider difference. The difference between their slugging #'s this year is essentially Fukudome's triples.

"I would be surprised if Bradley plays again after the Cub contract expires. He made his bundle--off of us."

A statement like this really makes me wonder if you have watched any Cubs games this year.

Actually, BR has Fukudome at .442, MB at .414....Fuku also has 14 more doubles..

I agree though TRN...can't see how MB won't be here next season.

Crap, I didn't realize that it's correct to label a player based on a partial season, rather than looking at their careers. Thanks for correcting me.

Oh...sorry, you were looking at career slugging.

Did your Mom not love you enough? Jesus Christ.....

Yeah..ok...so for all of MB's partial seasons....he's slugged better.

Of course, since the Cubs cant get Milt's 2008 season, or even the 2003-2004 seasons...we get what he has done in his first full season with the Cubs.
In this season, he has been out slugged by Fukudome.

Hopefully, Mr. OBP will remember to hit in both halves of the season next year, and we can all rest easy...

" . . . wonder if you have watched any Cubs games this year."

I haven't been watching Bradley his whole career, just this year.

I saw what Von Joshua saw. After three weeks on the job, Joshua dissected Bradley's swing from the left side and said, "You can't hit like that."

Let me put Bradley's 2009 in context. Let's compare it with Felix Pie's entire craptastic major league career. Why Pie? Because Pie was such a failure with the Cubs he went from #1 prospect to out-the-door in 260 AB's. And if he had succeeded with the Cubs there probably would be no MB in RF and no perrenial need for " a left hand bat."

So, if we straight line project Bradley's production up to Felix Pie's career 470 AB's who would have more RBI's, Career Felix Pie or 2009 Milton Bradley?

It's not even close. Pie=55 MB=49 Amazing when you consider that Pie is a sub .700 OPS guy who bats mostly 8th, next mostly 2nd, with a career .243 BA while Bradley has 257AB/372 this year hitting 3,4, or 5.

Same team, same season:
(~310 PA) Bradley has 22 RBI hitting 3-5.
(~530 PA) Derrek Lee has 96 RBI hitting 3-5.

It's really a pity that the collective knowledge of TCR readers seems to shrink every year.

There are four things that go into getting RBI's. The #1 most important thing is having runners on base in front of you. Lee has driven in 65 runners, which leads the team. He also has come to the plate with a total of 380 runners on base, which also, guess what, leads the team. The #2 guy with opportunities has been Ryan Theriot, but he's had 19% fewer opportunities. Bradley has had 31% fewer opportunities (or Lee has had 44% more).

The second most important thing, is how well you hit when those guys are on base. Lee has hit decently - .293.378.540 with runners on and even better with runners in scoring position, .304.401.640. Bradley has pretty much sucked doing that .225.406.350, but hasn't been too bad with runners on .283.424.428.

The third thing to look at is how many outs there are. There's nothing better for racking up RBI totals than coming up with a guy on third and less than two outs. I don't have those numbers handy, but what I do have is Lee's coming up with RISP for 152 times and scoring position with 2 outs 54 times. So Lee has come up with runners in scoring position and less than two outs 98 times. Bradley has come up with that same scenario 54 times. Not quite a 2-1 difference, but pretty close.

Finally, there is the factor of how good baserunners are the guys who bat in front of you. The Cubs have been a really bad baserunning team this year, so it's hard to say whether any player overall has had an advantage there.

It's not like I want everyone to sit and analyze every detail of a baseball game in a statistical manner - I understand the appeal of saying 'RBI's good'. It's just that I wish you would think a little about how components add up to things, or at least read what other people say before posting non-sense like the above.

It's a pity that MB has mostly stunk this season. It's a pity you don't see that.

Let's all just move on to 2010, and hope that Soto, Soriano, Bradley, etc play up to capabilities.

Can you read?

Me: "Bradley has pretty much sucked this"
You "It's a pity that MB has mostly stunk this season. It's a pity you don't see that."

which I can only assume was followed by another suck on the crack pipe.

Hmm.. I heard an annoying, screeching sound. It sounded like a pathetic idiot...tilting at windmills..alone.. It was probably nothing though.

It's probably safer to do your drugs outside of the dealer's closet.

TRN:
"It's really a pity that the collective knowledge of TCR readers seems to shrink every year."

And we appreciate you leading that charge.

This would have been much more pithy had it made sense. Which thing did I say that shrunk your personal knowledge of baseball?

TRN:
"Which thing did I say that shrunk your personal knowledge of baseball?"

I am not sure TCR has the bandwidth to fit it all...

That's OK, Manny, I just wanted you to list one.

Typical Manny.

You even had to get the last post in when you already had the last post, sad...

...speaking of irrelevant.

YEah ...Baker has sure sucked since the Cubs got him for nothing...

okay.

The brilliant WSCR 670 guys think the Cubs should trade Samardzija to the Bears.

*sigh*

Do the Bears have anyone who can hit left-handed? I heard we have been looking for one of those guys for the past couple offseasons.

If it's true that Lou wants more speed next year, maybe we can get Hester back for Samardzija.

RIP Jake Fox...long live bobby scales

I dont see any benefit of Scales playing LF. Atleast with Fox you can showcase his bat some more on a regular basis, the defense might not be pretty but your trying to find a place to trade him for something you need. Bobby Scales isn't going to do shit for this organization.

Here's my theory:

This is Bobby Scales' last hurrah as a member of the Cubs. He's a 31 year old career minor leaguer, and you can't keep using roster spots on guys like that forever. So, the Cubs are trying to help him out by showcasing him as much as possible in his last month so he can potentially catch on with another team, while also giving him maybe his last shot at living his dream.

Anyway, he's obviously not in the Cubs' long-term plans (I hope), and he's been a good soldier over the last 11 years or whatever, so this is his chance to play as much as possible in the bigs before he either hangs it up or gets signed by another squad.

Anyway, if that's really what's going on I applaud the humanity Hendry/Lou are showing him. Unfortunately, it's currently at the expense of giving Fox and Hoffpauir consistent ABs.

So play Scales at second base for Chrissakes.

Pretty much what I said yesterday. Scales's skill set is remarkably similar to TCR favorite Jose Macias.

So, Kevin Gregg -- have you thought about your next career after baseball?

eyeglass frame fashion designer?

Chris Sakes...is he a cousin of Kurt Suzuki?

We are all cousins of Kurt Suzuki. We are the same human family.

We're also all the cousins of Kevin Gregg.

Sorry.

Nice game for the beleaguered Miles, Hoffpauir and Fountainout. Michah's season slash stats now look pretty decent.

Other TCR favorite, Ronny C is up to .284 .339 .459 as a Pirate, now. Wonder if he's finally going to put it together, then we can hear people bitching about him being traded for years. Definitely something to look forward to.

Michah's season slash stats now look pretty decent.

They do? I am assuming that "Michah" is Micah Hoffpauir: .228/.276/.423 OPS: 699

You would be assuming incorrectly. I am speaking of the Micah Hoffpauir who is hitting .236/.288/.450 OPS: 738. Certainly not as good as your favorite player, but not worthless either.

Ah... I didn't factor in today's game. My bad. Of course, we have a sample size issue when you can have one game make a 40 point difference in your OPS.

Do you mean Cubs fans bitching he was traded in the first place, or Pirate fans bitching when he's traded back to the Cubs when he's due to get paid more than league minimum?

A.

I think if this blog were two years older there would still be people bitching about Bob Tewksberry getting traded.

Sigh...I need a day off tomorrow.

He hasn't had a walkless streak like this one all year
---
At first, I thought MB changed around Aug 27th after his 4 for 4 outing in a blow out loss vs Washington. About that time he was quoted regarding being on the field the least amount of time.Taking pitches tends to make games longer and so I considered that he might applying that philosophy to all phases of the game. Kind of like Dusty's "clogging the bases" concept run amuck in his mind.

Then I looked up each game. In the games immediately after that quote he did get 4 walks in the 5 games from 8/26 thru 8/30 and had two games of 3/3 and 3/4.

His last walk was on 8/30. So it's been 9 games (8/34, .235) since his last walk.

The change correlates better to when Lou switched him out of the 2 hole into the 4-5 spots starting on Sept 2nd vs Houston. No walks since in 7 games after that point (6 hits/26AB, .230).

Absurdly small sample size to consider much out of this "streak" and it's probably all a coincidence. Still, it was oddly fun wasting time on it.
---
"All I'm saying is I pray the game is nine innings, so I can go out there the least amount of time possible and go home," Bradley said.

http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/news/story?id=44...

"He hasn't had a walkless streak like this one all year"

speaking of, how about that Carlos Marmol?

Is he not wild cuz it's over?

He just doesn't look like a guy who would bend under pressure but I can't see his brain.

Z's first win since july 22...ow.

well there is no shortage of stupidity in this world...
---
Here's a comp:

...agreed to terms on a three-year, $11 million contract with the Chicago Cubs

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2227664

A few observations about the schedule and the standings:

--the Cubs play only one team that is ahead of them in the wild card standings (and not currently in first place) from here on out: the Giants, on the road, for a 4 game set from September 24th through 27th.

--the Giants series is the end of a 10 game road swing (the other two series are 3 game sets with the Cardinals and Brewers); these are the only remaining road games on the schedule; there is a possibility that the Cubs will be mathematically eliminated during this road swing

--the Cubs are now 31-40 on the road

--at home the Cubs play Cincinnati 3, Milwaukee 4, Pittsburgh 4 and Arizona 3. All of these teams are below .500. Cubs are currently 8-4 vs. the Reds on the season, 6-4 vs. the Brewers, 8-2 vs. the Pirates and 1-2 vs. the D-Backs (in Arizona).

--Colorado has 11 home games left and 12 road games. In addition to the Giants, they also play the Cardinals 3 times at home and the Dodgers 4 times on the road. Everyone else on their schedule is below .500.

--SF has 22 games left, 9 on the road and 13 at home. They play the Dodgers 6 times (3 home, 3 away), Colorado 3 times at home and the Cubs 4 times at home. The rest of their games are against below .500 teams.

--Florida has 24 games left, 9 home and 15 on the road. They play 3 at St. Louis, 6 against the Phillies (3 home, 3 away) and 3 at Atlanta. The rest of their games are against below .500 teams.

--Atlanta has 24 games left, 13 home and 11 on the road. They play the Cardinals 3 times on the road, the Phillies 3 times at home and the Marlins 3 times at home. The rest of their games are against below .500 teams.

--Of course, when you look at the wild card, you need to keep in mind that the first place teams could be back in the mix. I don't think that's likely for the Cardinals, but it is not out of the realm of possibility for the Dodgers (currently 3.5 games up) or the Phillies (currently 6 games up)

--Cub fans need to root for the Cardinals, Dodgers and Phillies to win against the Rockies (7 games), Giants (6 games), Marlins (9 games) and Braves (6 games).

--The Giants have two series (7 games) against the Cubs or teams tied with or ahead of the Cubs in the wild card standings. The Rockies, Marlins, Cubs and Braves all have just one series against another wild card contender; the Cubs have a 4 game series and the other series are all 3 games

--on the ESPN standings page, the Cubs' playoff probability is 1.2% at this point. Their destiny has not been in their hands for a long time. At this point, short of perhaps winning out (which would give them 95 wins and an unprecedented 27 game winning streak to end the season) they will need substantial help and a lot of luck to make it in. Out of principle, I have refused to give up until the team is mathematically eliminated, but this is tough.

now that is the post of an eternal optimist....

Well, hope springs eternal, as the poet said. More likely is that at some point during the 10 game road trip, the Cubs are eliminated after coughing up some bad losses.

dcf - let go!

Just let it go.

It is easy. You will feel a big burden lifted. It is futile.

There is a fine line between an "optimist", and just not knowing when to throw in the towel.

Close your eyes...take a big breath...

let go.

2010 is not far away.

on cue, Rockies come back with 2 in the 9th to win...still 8 back.

The Cubs did move up a spot in the WC standings though and Giants loss, only 4 games out of 2nd.

If the Rockies go 11 and 11 over those last 22 games the Cubs would have to go 20 and 4 to catch up with them. If the Cubs go 20-4, odds are that they will win 2 or 3 games against the Giants, so you wouldn't need to worry too much about them (or the Marlins). But even at 20 and 4, a pace the team hasn't been able to play at all year, they still need help just to get to a playoff game for the wild card. 1% seems a bit high.

I bet you play the lottery, too, dcf.

(It's ok. So do I....)

Way to go DCF!

What if Micah Hoffpauir becomes the lefthanded #5 hitter we needed all along? We already got DeRosa back in the form of Jeff Baker...

Fukudome
Bradley
Lee
Ramirez
Hoffpauir
Baker
Soto
Theriot

Its a great vision, but sadly I dont expect Hoff or Fox to be with the club in 2010.
You know as well as I do that we are stuck with our blockbuster outfield troika for a few years.

It's not a terrible April lineup, but we all know why that can't happen. There's another righty who will be in the lineup.

only 4 games out of 2nd.
---
...that's some goal, 2nd place in the wild card race.

My apologies if this is 3/44, but I just ran across this interesting article about Andres Blanco by Joe Posnanski:

http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2009/09/07/magical...

It's a nice, sentimental article. I like it.

Something I've been wondering about Blanco, that the article doesn't address, is why he made it to the majors at age 21 despite never having seen AAA and having put up piss poor offensive numbers in the minors. Blanco was consistently promoted to the next level despite never improving with the bat until age 22 when he began to just hover around AAA and MLB. Why? Why didn't anyone say, hey, let's leave him in A-ball another season or part of a season and see if he gets more comfortable with the bat? Let's see if he can strengthen his hands. Blanco experienced his greatest sustained offensive success this year at Iowa where he put up an OPS over .800 and hit 6 homeruns. Suddenly he seemed to have made some strides hitting AAA pitching. While an .800 OPS at Iowa is not exactly amazing, it puts the 25-year-old Blanco back on the level of enticing defensive SS. If he could put up on OPS of .630 or better, he could at least be a valuable backup SS/2B, something that didn't seem all that likely as recently as last season.

Lots of love for Blanco's glove in the article and the comments. Definitely worth a read. Also has links to some other plays worth watching.

OK, I am going to say it. It was a nice play, but other shortstops don't leave their feet to make it. Watching Theriot on a daily basis gives you a warped perspective of what normal range is, I think.

It is a nice story, though. Thanks for the link.

cynic...that play was awesome for anyone, Tejada and Jeter watch it go to center, Theriot falls down watching it go to center, Cedeno dives to make the play but then fumbles the ball trying to throw it.

http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=6498573

Would love to see the plus/minus stats on that one. I think Cedeno may make the play on his feet.

For all the stuff that has gone wrong this season i can't imagine it going wrong again next season.

For the amount of hate i have for the Cubs signing Bradley he can do better than what he has done this season.

Soriano had his first really bad year, but players like him can rebound.

DLee looks to have returned to his MVP year, as long as he doesn't shatter his wrist i see no reason why he can't continue that into next year.

Ramirez had a freak injury, he should be good next year as well.

Theriot, Fuku just need to keep what they are doing. Soto needs a personal trainer.

I don't have any real concerns with the pitching staff, just keep doing what your doing minus Kevin Gregg.

So besides a good April and July Soriano has stunk, and Bradley has been among the least productive RFers in baseball, and Ramirez was injured for a long period of time. 3 of your 4 major offensive threats were injured, or ineffective or both. I just don't see that happening next year.

If Soriano can still crush 20 HR's on 1 knee, fully healthy he still has 40 HR pop. For all the negativity I have thrown at Bradley he is bound to have a good year next. Everytime i bad mouthed Neifi Perez he seemed to have a good game, so I am going with that philosophy into next year. Ramirez...christ it would be nice to get his extra 50 RBI back as well. As far as i am concerned between those 3 we are missing about 150 RBI's from this team. Which puts us right back as being one of the top offenses in the league.

I guess thats my attempt to say its not as bad as it looks.

"For all the stuff that has gone wrong this season i can't imagine it going wrong again next season."

See NYM in 2008. See NYM in 2009.

But overall I agree there should be some optimism that a few parts on this team should be able to rebound and if the injury bug can stay away for the most part next year, this team should be able to contend for a division title again. But with a $140+MM payroll, it should be that way every year.

Submitted by Charlie on Thu, 09/10/2009 - 10:10am.
Something I've been wondering about Blanco, that the article doesn't address, is why he made it to the majors at age 21 despite never having seen AAA and having put up piss poor offensive numbers in the minors.

====================================

CHARLIE: Andres Blanco was signed by the Kansas City Royals to a substantial bonus out of Venezuela as a 16-year old during the International Signing Period in 2000 (the Cubs signed 16-year old Ronny Cedeno out of Venezuela a year earlier). As a scrawny teenager, Blanco was compared to Omar Vizquel (defensively), and (just like the Cubs have done with Starlin Castro) the Royals fast-tracked him through their system (DSL Royals in 2001, GCL Royals in 2002, and a jump to A+ Wilmington in 2003).

Blanco was brought up to the big leagues in April 2004 (six days after his 20th birthday, becoming the youngest position player ever to play for the Royals) when Angel Berroa went on the DL. He was subsequently optioned to AA, where he was named the Texas League's "Best Defensive Shortstop" by Baseball America and where he played as the Royals rep on the World Team in the MLB Futures Game that year. He also was named one of the Royals Top 10 Prospects by BA post-2003 and post-2004.

However, Blanco sustained three significant injuries that resulted in extended DL time in the years 2005-07 (knee injury that required surgery in 2005, torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder that required surgery in 2006, and a torn hamstring in 2007) that caused him to run out of minor league options at age 23 before he could get his career back on track.

Blanco was dropped from the Royals 40-man roster post-2007 and signed with the Cubs as a Rule 55 Minor League Free-Agent (six-year minor league FA) prior to the 2008 season. He has spent the past two seasons getting his career back on track (while adding some muscle to his frame), and while the knee and hamstring injuries  left him with below-average speed for a middle-infielder, he still is an exceptional defensive SS (and 2B), and he has improved a lot as a hitter (.285 at Iowa in 2008 and .304 with an .827 OPS at Iowa in 2009) and developed some power, too (he has hit as many home runs in 2009 as he hit in his first eight seasons combined). 

Blanco is still only 25 years old (he's a year younger than Ronny Cedeno), and while he is out of minor league options, he won't be eligible for salary arbitration until post-2011. If the Cubs were to release Aaron Miles and Miles were to sign with another club for the MLB minimum salary ($400K) with the Cubs paying the balance ($2.3M), the $400K the Cubs would recover in 2010 payroll would just about pay Blanco's 2010 salary (which will probably be around $450K). So I would expect the Cubs to release Miles sometime prior to the 2010 season, with Blanco (at least as things stand right now, anyway) being the Cubs #1 middle-infield back-up in 2010.

Is Blanco gritty,scrappy or lefthanded enough to fill that void?

Plenty, and the Cubs could also subtract Miles's horrendous beard.

I like AZ Phil's idea. And thanks, Phil, for filling me in on Blanco's career trajectory. I really liked the Cubs signing him, and like it more now. I wasn't aware of the knee and hamstring injuries, though.

we still haven't won a playoff game... ugly bullpen night.

Peoria Chiefs lose 9-8 giving up 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th to Cedar Rapids. Chris Huseby blown save, 2 runs, 4 walks and a hit batter to end the game. Lots of offense (2 or more hits) from Ridling, LeMahieu, Burke, Rosa (4-5, 2 doubles, 4 rbi) and Brenly

http://peoria.chiefs.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp...

Chiefs lose the series 0-2 and their season is done.
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The Tenn Smokies lost their opening playoff game to Huntsville 4-2, Marcus Mateo gave up a 3 run HR in the 8th in his 2nd inning blowing a 2-1 lead. Tyler Colvin had a solo HR.

http://tennessee.smokies.milb.com/milb/stats/stats...

I am going to have to add my vote to the give Colvin a look gang. He seems to be a 'see ball, hit ball' hitter, so he the adjustment he faces skipping AAA may not be that big.

Has anyone noticed/discussed this?

If my schedule-checking is correct, The Cubs haven't experienced a day where they gained ground on the Cardinals since AUGUST 3. That's 39 days where they didn't claw even a half game back in the standings.

Even in the context of this crushing season, this seems completely unreal to me, maybe even unprecedented?

I've known it's been a long time, and Colorado is now doing the same thing (though only since about the home Mess series for them).

The Cubs have a pretty good shot at having 5 starters with 10 wins and sub-4 ERA's, and they're not going to come close to the playoffs. Wonder when the last time that's happened.

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