Game Preview: Cardinals (27-21) @ Cubs (23-25)

UPDATE: Aramis Ramirez, who received a cortisone injection in his aching left hand yesterday, is back in the Cub lineup. Here's the batting order: Fukudome 9, Theriot 4, Lee 3, Ramirez 5, Soriano 7, Byrd 8, Soto 2, Castro 6, Wells 1

It's such a spectacular day in Chicago today, it's easy to imagine I live somewhere else.

As for this afternoon's matchup at Wrigley, if it seems late in the year for the Cardinals and Cubs to be meeting for the first time, that's because it is. Not since 1999 have the clubs gone this deep into the calendar without looking directly into each other's hate-filled eyes.

Our Cubs, winners of 8 of 11, seem to have dodged two injury bullets: Jeff Baker's problem yesterday, which included the loss of vision in his right eye, has been diagnosed as an ocular migraine. According to @CarrieMuskat this morning, he is now fine and is uniform. Also, Carlos Zambrano has fully recovered from whatever he had yesterday that seemed like it might be appendicitis but turned out not to be, and he is also ready to go. (BREAKING NEWS: Z's problem was "food-related." Do you really need to know any more?)

Derrek Lee, who could teach Albert Pujols a thing or two about how to slump (see below), looked like a different hitter in the L.A. series. He's 8-for-12 in the last four games and is also a .326 lifetime hitter against this afternoon's St. Louis starter, Chris Carpenter.

About the visitors...

After charging out of the gate 18-8 and building a five-game lead in the NL Central, the Cardinals have gone 9-13 and currently sit second, a game behind the Reds. They had lost four in a row before winning yesterday in San Diego. They have two starting pitchers hurt and unfortunately neither one of them is named Carpenter or Wainwright, who will go Sunday.

On offense, the great Pujols has looked very nearly mortal lately. He homered yesterday in San Diego, his first long ball in roughly two weeks—TWO ENTIRE WEEKS WITHOUT A HOME RUN!—but I think we can all agree that he still scares the crap out of us, can't we?

Oh, one more thing—Tony LaRussa is in a bad mood:

La Russa reiterated his frustration with a schedule that had his team start Thursday's game at 5:35 p.m. St. Louis time. The Cardinals then had to board a charter [from San Diego] for Chicago, then open a series against the Cubs at 1:20 p.m. today. La Russa said he voiced his displeasure over the scheduling with Padres chairman Jeff Moorad.

We don't like TLR when he's mad. Actually, we don't like him at all.

Friday's pitchers: Carpenter (5-1.3.09) v. Randy Wells (3-2, 3.99)

Carpenter is coming off a game he should have lost but didn't (8 H, 4 ER, 6 IP v. the Angels) because the offense bailed him out with an extra-innings victory. He has been relatively vulnerable to the home run ball this year, having already allowed nine after serving up just seven through all of 2009.

Wells limited the Rangers to just three runs over 8 1/3 IP last time out, though he didn't get the win. It was the third solid effort, none of which have provided a victory for Wells, since that ugly game in Pittsburgh back at the beginning of the month.


Why the hell is ARam still hitting 4th? I'm not too fond of Theriot in the 2 hole either. Speaking of 2 hole, I'm sure big Z feels better after a big deuce.

I'm wondering why he's playing at all.
His last 96 PA's : .247 .263 .258 .521

LaRussa should forfeit today's game in protest...

might have solved the 3b problem

Z taking grounders this morning

Bud Norris to the DL

Wasn't arm related, was it?

Biceps tendinitis and bursitis.

right bicep tendinitis and bursitis

think that's still the arm

Yeah I heard it driving home yesterday., and remember thinking it didn't sound serious. I think he's really on the DL with a case of the sucks.

That's an arm.

Thanks for the Verducci Effect updates.

Top 5 Cubs/Cardinal moments from the last few years

Top 10 All-Time Cubs/Cardinals game according to THT

The top 5 article is really a good one. I think the Neifi bit is probably TCR biased but amusing never-the-less.


Ted Lilly barreling over Yadier Molina happened the day after I wrote that, probably be #2 or #3 on my list.

great start...

2-0, nobody out and Carpenter pitching

Russell up already after 4 batters.

And it gets even better. 5 straight hits. Now 3-0.


be a good day to use Z and stretch him out.

and my afternoon suddenly cleared up.


Was that a straight steal attempt of third by Fukudome?

with molina behind the plate it's very doubtful...either dlee missed the hit/run, fuku thought a hit/run was on, or dlee brainfarted.

even if it's a ball you gotta swing unless it's crazy outside the zone because that's molina behind the plate.

3-2 count, both runners going

Lou was counting on Lee to make contact or take a walk. Not stare at strike 3.

not a terrible gamble considering Lee has good numbers against Carpenter as well. although at 5-0, I wouldn't take that gamble myself.

46  	15  	.326  	.367  	.435  	.802  	

ah...i thought it was a 2-2 was a 3-2.

I blame Rothschild. He's not at the game today.

Lester Strode is the worst pitching coach ever.

Wells to the bullpen!!!!

We'll have to "shorten him" up first, though, right? Wait a minute--maybe the zero innings pitched today will serve that function.

Lou is big on the punitive lineup decisions. It would be perfectly Lou-like for Wells to get the bullpen assignment now.

fwiw, Wells actually has been struggling the most of the starters lately and does have some bullpen experience in the minors.

Cubs get first 2 runners on...

bet they don't score 5 runs

-edit- Cubbery: Lee takes strike 3 and Fuku thrown out running

How does Lee not swing at that, with the runners going?


that was really odd for a guy with his experience.

Above the knees, right the freak down the middle. That was awful.

looked more like outside corner, but definitely a strike

Lee never even started to offer at it, and it looked like a for-sure strike the whole way. I don't know if he read it as a slider or what.

I knew this lineup sucked.


castro = split second lucky

take that curveball for the team Castro

james russell stands like a hitter, not a terrible swing

made carpenter throw 6 pitches at least...that's like 2-3 Theriot at-bats.

death to whatever band was playing "i like you" going to the break...

it's Kate Miller...whoever that is...she seems make your usual indie bar crappy music hippie stuff...only she can "actually sing."

Brenly agrees that Aram should go on the DL and bring up Chad Tracy who is batting 400 something in Dez Mo Nez. "Why didn't I think of that 2 weeks ago?" Sez Lou.

"Senility," mutters Trammel.

that wasn't even close on that grounder by Byrd, terrible call

as if it matters...


Now that Fuku and Byrd stopped hitting, time to give Colvin the at-bats he deserves.

Colvin now is .319/.380/.652...doubtful it could last, but as you said, Fukudome and Byrd aren't hitting much anymore so I'd like to see where Tyler settles in.

On the other had, does Castro stay at the big league level? It appears he needs some more seasoning, but does sending him down crush his confidence?

as they said, they brought up Castro for his defense and it has been good after the first 4 games.

he'll need to learn to adjust, but he deserves more time. He wasn't going to hit .350 all year anyway.

Castro is going to win the MVP award, just watch.

I don't know how long Lou will take to play the guy he insisted on bringing north, despite the risk to his development. He's probably doing a Dusty "I will pick the spots for him to best suceed, while FukuByrde rack up the poor at bats" thing.

You're usually the reverse of naive, but I think it's naive to think that a manager has the freedom to put any name he likes on the lineup card. You have to play your expensive players, if only to keep their trade value up. It's Hendry's job to trade Fukudome/Byrd/Soriano to make room for Colvin, who has been something of a surprise, otherwise they wouldn't have gone after Byrd last winter.

I've said before that I think Lou dislikes Soriano as much as I do, but they owe the guy $84 million for this year and four more years, whereas Lou is still owed a couple million for this year and then that's it. Who has the power in that situation? Lou manages the Cubs, and Soriano is the Cubs right now, unfortunately.

Fukudome has his own little Brinks job going, pulling down $13 million this year, $13.5 next year.

The Cubs are transitioning to a team of mostly homegrown players--not a moment too soon for my taste--where at least the best people will be on the field.

I think you're right that neither the GM nor the Manager ought to be devastating a player's trade value if it can be avoided, whether that player is high-paid or earns the minimum. But aren't you neglecting the responsibilities of both the GM and the Manager to protect and develop other resources, like good young players who good provide value while keeping costs low (and who have trade value of their own to be developed)? Colvin has been on the bench long enough to rot (and all the credit should go to him for not rotting in that time, I think). A 4-man outfield would not reduce the playing time of any of the now 3 starters to significantly damage what trade value they have. What to do with Nady then becomes the problem, I guess.

the manager fills out the lineup card with no one peering over his shoulder, but if he sits a GM's well paid player he should have a good reason.

guys with big contracts get a lot more of a chance to prove or bury themselves because they've (usually) done the things in the past that leads to big contracts.

imo, lou probably isn't thinking of sitting soriano or aram because he believes they can contribute.

didn't they just bench Z...essentially?

nonetheless, sitting Colvin when Soriano, Byrd, Fukudome were hitting was understandable, Nady got most of his starts versus lefties anyway. Byrd and Fuku are now struggling and neither have the track record of Soriano or Ramirez, so time to give Colvin a few extra starts.

At least you cannot bitch about the bullpen....

theriot takes one square in the ribs...ow.

he seems okay, but it was a flush hbp.

Great... can he get benched due to injury? Please?

...and grabes takes a comebacker off the arse...he seems fine, though.

Great... can he get benched due to injury? Pretty please?

marlon byrd demonstrating how much you can get away with while angry when you're a respected player.

1/2+ the league would have been ejected at a couple points there after that called strikeout.

they actually ejected Milton Bradley from his game just because of Byrd arguing...


I hate faces too.

this would have been a helluva game if James Russell had started

Who was the last free agent the Cubs signed to suck this much and this consistently? He is f***ing useless right now.

aaron miles?

Milton Bradley?

Oooo. I had forgotten about Miles. Yeah. Miles was a little cheaper at least.

Milton wasn't nearly this bad--but he was more visible as an individual.

except for the homers todd hundley was pretty useless...even/especially when actually catching.

I think Lester Strode should have pitched the 9th.

Look on the good side. Russell got stretched out over four innings so that he'll be ready to rejoin the rotation.