Carlos Zambrano got the opportunity to redeem his baseball soul thanks to the grace of Touchdown Jesus and the Cubs bullpen works this time in a 4-3 win at Cincinnati.

The Good: Z pitches quite well going 7 innings and giving up 3 runs and a home run against 9 K's, including striking out the side in his last inning. The Cubs offense doesn't strand a runner. After Ryan Theriot breaks up the perfect game to lead off the 4th, he takes second on a wild pitch that bounced in front of catcher Ryan Hanigan. Hanigan throws it away and it bounces into center field and Theriot was going to try third base (and it looked like he would have probably been nailed to me), but ran into shortstop Orlando Cabrera. No interference obstruction was called though despite the protests of Lou and Theriot. That made the count 2-0 on Fukudome and he showed bunt on the next pitch but took it for a strike. Not sure if he was just trying to dupe Harang or was seriously considering a bunt, but he then takes the ensuing curveball deep to right for the first 2 Cubs runs. He almost hit a second one out in his next at-bat. Soriano hit a hanging slider out for run number 3 and Jeff Baker with the clutch pinch-hit home run off Arthur Rhodes. Marmol's slider was biting and the Reds were flailing away for the save.

The Bad: The Cubs didn't leave anyone on-base cause they just managed one walk and 5 hits, 3 of them home runs and Lee got picked off first base. If they did plus/minus ratings like in hockey, Soriano was probably a 0, because the first run by the Reds was thanks to a linedrive with 2 out that Soriano turned the wrong way and then lept and missed by an inch that should have ended the inning. #8 hitter Ryan Hanigan then singled him home despite first base being open and Harang on-deck. Grabow did get through the 8th, but gave up a single to lefty Joey Votto and a rocket to lefty Jay Bruce that Lee made an outstanding leaping stab to rob a hit. A bit worrisome we have another Mike Remliger situation brewing.

Next Up: Tom Gorzelanny makes his 2010 debut against 2009 draftee Mike Leake making his major league debut.


no-go for Lilly tomorrow

stiff back

as we speed towards June

Quicksand jesus!

And I think Mr. Whipple's parachat comment deserves repeating:

Did you hear the good news? Jesus has risen! Well, half way...

Hope I got that right.

That is correct.

I love that image. It's the funniest thing in ages. Well done, sir.


Theriot should indeed have been given 3rd base, but not for interference. When a fielder gets in the way of a baserunner, that's obstruction. Interference is when a runner gets in the way of a fielder.

Being a youth baseball commissioner means you learn nitpicky details like this.

Glad to see Dr. Zekyll came back instead of the Opening Day Mr. Zyde.

Go Cubs!

It could be a worse bullpen. We don't have George Sherrill.

T. Diamond with the start at Iowa, 5 IP, 5 K, 1 ER, 1 BB
J. Gray 2 scoreless innings
J. Stevens faced 3 batters, gave up 2 BB's and a hit
Schlitter with 2 scoreless innings as well

Offensive explosion in AA with Castro going 3/5, Bibens-Dirx strikes out 6 in 5 innings giving up 2 ER.

Daytona bats wake up a bit in a 7-4 win although B. Jackson is still hitless. Vitter 1/6, LeMaheiu 1/6, Burke 2/6, M. Brenly with a 3-run HR.

Peoria: H. Lee 1/4 with an RBI, Watkins 1/5, pitching gets roughed up in a 6-2 loss.



Thank you, Howard Dean.

Gray will be up shortly.

Who is Austin Bibens-Dirkx and why is his name so hard to spell?

if he gets called up in the next year or two, will the Cubs market X-games?

guys I missed

Alberto Cabrera threw 6 shutout innings giving up 2 hits in Daytona, AA Ty Wright went 4/5 with a HR.

I keep forgetting we have Thomas Diamond. Would the Cubs consider him for the bullpen if he continues to show some control at AAA, or are they looking at him exclusively as back end/rotation insurance?

Woody and Hoffman had theme music but Thomas Diamond's a natural for the bullpen

dim the house lights:

That'll only work if boozed up bleacher bums can remain reverently silent and Thomas Diamond can somehow throw his warmup pitches in extreme slow motion. Under those conditions, it will be the most affecting theme music of all time.

Maybe after a loss the Cubs can play Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings over the stadium sound system, too:

Wow, a YouTube standoff. Cubster is the Cub Reporter king of video/photo references but Charlie has just thrown down a challenge! This is excitement!

Personally, after this latest Cubs performance, I'm hoping to become Comfortably Numb.

By the way, Charlie, thanks for the Adagio for Strings link. Heartbreakingly beautiful music. Perfect for Cubs fans (sigh).

If you liked that, here's something I think you'll really enjoy:

I recommend it as a theme until we blow somebody out for the first time.

Good choice!

the Jewish version of Touchdown Jesus

I notice Samardjza is well rested.

Thank you Lou

Would you rather have him on the Bears or Cubs?

Ryan Theriot has strained right calf and may be scratched. He is hitting (right now) in BP. If he can't go, Font will move to SS

(whispering softly: Starlin Castro is hitting .462)

Theriot, Fuku, Lee, Ramirez, Byrd, Soriano, Font, Soto, Gorz


Stubbs, Cabrera, Votto, Phillips, Rolen, Hernandez, Gomes, Dickerson, Leake

THen I would assume same lineup tomorrow (replace Gorz w/Demp obviously) for the opener?

leadoff bb, double, pitch around Lee

what are the odds of scoring with the bases loaded and 0 out?

0% if you're the Cubs.

Ramirez goes out of the zone and pops it up, Byrd misses 2 fastballs and fouls them off and K's on a sinker, Soriano is Soriano.

Soriano leaps for a ball in foul territory...about 3 feet from the wall and misses it.

Gorz still K's Votto though.

I know it's only one inning, but the offense failing to cash in even one run in a situation like that--there is no more ideal situation than bases loaded, no outs, middle of the lineup due up--frustrates me even more than bullpen meltdowns. They'll have to win and score more than 3 or 4 runs today for me to forget that.


BUT...what about Rudy Jaramillo!

He is the best batting coach in baseball, right?

Leake vs. Gorz:
89 mph fastball
88 mph fastball
88 mph fastball
88 mph changeup

If your changeup is the same speed as your fastball, you might want to ditch the changeup.

No runs will come of this.

I am of the opinion that A-Ram is hurt. The guy does not look right yet, and did not have much of a spring. We will see, and it is early, but this guy is not the same at the plate.

He's overswinging right now (I think) and he's missing some pitches he shouldn't miss because of that. That doesn't necessarily mean he's not hurt too, of course.

things we've learned early...defense and bullpen might not be overrated.


deserving to lose a game...

Where are we at on the Soriano departure countdown?

I think we're down to 5 years left


I am floored with the terrific beginning of the starting pitching. The scenario of bullpen blows happened last year when the starters were doing well too. And, they were BETTER!

This year, so far with MAgic Rudy, and a reliever that has two losses in four appearances, it is going to be a long year.

I can see why many picked the Reds 2nd.

The wnidow can be closed soon unless changes are made.

I'm starting a new stat called UZR/5. Soriano is currently -66. Now I remember why I couldn't wait for baseball to end last year.

Where's big lowitski to tell us Soriano is, in fact, a good outfielder?

remarkably, he still has good defensive numbers over a 3-yr span from all the guys he threw out the first 2 years...actually it's heavily swayed by his first year with being just above average in 2008

I just can't buy that. Is it reasonable to cite Soriano as evidence that the defensive metrics need a lot more tuning?

well sure they do, but it's a 3-yr average.

Using UZR/150, he's 22.4/5.2/-15.9 and Plus/Minues he's 16/5/-4.

That puts him 12th over 3 year in UZR/150 for all outfielders (and 3rd for LF'ers behind Crawford and Holliday). 15th in +/- for all OF'ers and still 3rd for LF'ers behind the same two.

I'm not citing them as perfection, but guys can have career years defensively like they do offensively. It's not measuring talent as much as what happened and Soriano did eliminate a lot of runners with his arm and made less errors and not as many screw-ups those first 2 years.

I think what's most alarming is that the more he plays LF, the worse he seems to get at it. I know he's had leg problems and all that, but it really seems like he has a serious mental block about catching fly balls, and the more he drops the more it affects him.

If there are runners on first and second and outfielder drops fly ball and throws to third for force out, is that considered an assist?

yes, could be an error and an assist depending on the nature of the drop.

you get credit for basehits that should sometimes be errors or bloops that someone should have been caught, not sure why folks get up in arms over anomalies in defensive stats.

and I'm not saying that UZR or +/- are perfect or anything, but if you use 3-yr averages (which is about 1-yr worth of hitting sample size), you start to get a decent picture with them. In Soriano's case you can clearly see the decline that matches what's happening on the field.

Thanks Rob.

Is there a way to tell how many "assists" Soriano got with the drop/error?

not that I know of...

he still got the out though, so not sure if there's any difference other than aesthetically. I'm guessing he gets some extra credit for an outfield assist over just making the play, but I don't know the mathematics behind it.

fwiw, +/- is now on Fangraphs pages.

I never said that. I said that his first year as a Cub the defensive metrics showed him to be a good left fielder. I also said, very clearly, that he had gotten worse. But I notice that you conveniently left that out.

You said one more than one occasion, usually after someone complained about his defense, that stats showed he was a good OF.

I haven't followed whether you said he has gotten worse. It was an error of omission, not comission. And it was meant in jest anyway.

Tito, I remember specific conversations, with you, about this. I said very clearly that the stats showed that he was a good lf (not OF - two different things) in his first year. And that is still true. And it is true that I have said he has gotten worse.

Be honest, Big. I've been reading your comments for a long time, and you don't say things like, "the defensive metrics showed him to be a good left fielder," for the simple reason that when you have metrics to back you up, you state the thing as a fact. How could the metrics be wrong?

"He was a good fielder in '07"--that's more your style, isn't it?

I state the fact, and then say why, showing the facts.

But whatever. The stats showed Soriano to be one of the better LFers in the league for his first year as a Cub. And I still agree with the stats. He was decent, if not good, that first year. He struggled at some things, but he overall he was a decent/good LFer that first year.

And Soriano has looked really, really awful since then, and the defensive metrics (last I looked) appear to be reflecting that over the last year or so.

Soriano needs transplant surgery...both legs and a new glove hand


In searching for a replay of Soriano's error today (I did not watch the game), I Googled "Soriano's Error".

I received 2,890,000 results.

Try it!

he jogged to the ball, not like he was camped under it, but he had plenty of time to get himself in position to catch it glove-arm-out on the popped into his mitt and bounced out of the webbing.

he was expecting something a bit more routine judging by how he approached it.

no hop, btw. =p URL's are lame but look at the videos below for Gomes reaches base on Soriano error

Thanks. WOW - Brennaman really drives home the pathetic point even more...

So, did anyone pick Gomes would outhit Byrd?

Ouch... the truth hurts.

In the strange but true category: Moving Soriano to second makes the Cubs a better defensive team. Plus it gives a lineup slot to Rollin' Colvin.

in this category, is Soriano at 2b equal to Fontenot at 2b defensively?

No, I assume he'd be as bad as always, but that still saves us runs over what he's doing in left. I think he needs a sports psychologist.

Not as much better as moving him to the bench. Or Taiwan.

I didn't see a lot of spring training, so I didn't notice this until today. But when I saw Tracy up to bat today I had to do a double take because I thought it was Aaron Miles. Yuck.

Miles was more versatile, he could make outs from both sides of the plate

Miles always caused a case of blinding rage for me. Just the fact that he was allowed to play major league baseball annoyed me.

haha!! Good one Cubster!

this version of Adagio for Strings works better for Baker/Fonty...

progressive trance is a plague upon humanity...and so is dubstep while i'm picking on stuff...

Recent comments

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  • My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
    1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.

  • Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.

  • Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.

    How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?

    Call me lost.

  • Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.

  • Unbeleivable Dodgers:
    I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
    Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:

    Some "Highlights"
    Carl Crawford $20MM
    Brandon McCarthy $17MM
    Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
    Darwin B $2.2MM
    Dan Haren $10MM
    Matt Kemp $18MM
    Brian Wilson $10MM
    Ryan Webb $2.2MM
    Dee Gordon $2.5MM

  • So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.


    And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):

  • i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.

    there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.

  • I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.

  • O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already. 

  • I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.

    I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.

  • Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.

  • With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined). 

  • BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.

    If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).

    As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).

  • I want my baseball team to win by playing better baseball. I don't want umps, fields, or fans to have anything to do with it.