Archive - May 2006

May 16th

Our jeremiad had no apparent effect -- one day later and no one (not even Transmission) has been fired. So, back to what's happening on the field. GAME THIRTY-EIGHT IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] WASHINGTON NATIONALS (13-25, 4th, 10.5 GB) AT CHICAGO CUBS (15-22, 5th, 8.5 GB) Wrigley Field, 7:05 PM CDT Weather: TV: WCIU, DirecTV 744 Radio: WGN, XM 186
Carlos Zambrano, RHP 1-2, 3.88 ERA, 48 2/3 IP 54 K, 33 BB, 6 HR 233/359/439, .300 BABIP Livan Hernandez, RHP 1-4, 6.52 ERA, 50 2/3 IP 34 K, 17 BB, 11 HR 307/359/533, .323 BABIP

Alfonso Soriano, LF #Jose Vidro, 2B *Nick Johnson, 1B Jose Guillen, RF *Ryan Church, CF Ryan Zimmerman, 3B Wiki Wiki Gonzalez, C Royce Clayton, SS Livan Hernandez, P*Juan Pierre, CF Matt Murton, LF *Todd Walker, 2B Michael Barrett, C Aramis Ramirez, 3B *Jacque Jones, RF *John Mabry, 1B Ronny Cedeno, SS #Carlos Zambrano, P
Nationals vs. Zambrano: Daryle Ward: 6-25, 240/269/280, 3 K Royce Clayton: 3-16, 188/188/313, 5 KCubs vs. Hernandez: John Mabry: 12-21, 571/591/952, 2 HR, 2 K Aramis Ramirez: 6-19, 316/316/737, 2 HR, 4 K Henry Blanco: 5-15, 333/412/400, 2 BB, 2 K Neifi Perez: 8-30, 267/290/300, 1 BB, 1 K Juan Pierre: 18-68, 265/296/294, 2 BB, 6 K

For the last few years, I've wondered if Carlos Zambrano might be a sort of Livan Hernandez 2.0 -- a big, beefy righty capable of putting up 200-inning seasons over and over without succumbing to injury. Up until this season, the comparison would have been a compliment. This year, though, Livo has struggled mightily. He's still a horse, averaging 104 pitches and more than six innings per start, but batters are hitting over .300 against him, something they've never done to him in his career. That number should come down into the .275 range, but it might not happen this year, and I'm actually optimistic it won't start heading down tonight. The current Cubs roster has hit him well, with John Mabry and Aramis Ramirez leading the way. Meanwhile, Zambrano has handled the current Nats, allowing no home runs and giving out only three walks, two to Jose Guillen (who's hurt) and one to pitcher Brian Lawrence. I don't know why I'm optimistic about tonight's game -- maybe it's because I've been travelling over the last three weeks and haven't actually witnessed much of the current skid -- but I am. Whatever it takes, I guess. Go Cubs!

At just about the 1/4 mark in the 2006 season, here is the Cubs intra-organizational leader-board. Nothing very complicated, just the kind of stats you might find in the newspaper.

May 15th

For all those who would rather shoot the messenger.

May 14th

GAME 30
PADRES 5 CUBS 9
W: Steve Trout (2-0) L: Mark Thurmond (2-2) S: Lee Smith (4)
I have no interest in giving a review of the May 14, 2006 9-0 debacle. Instead, here's a review of the Cubs/Padres game from May 11, 1986. It was a real team effort today, with six Cubs driving in at least one run, and the bullpen picking up the slack for Steve Trout, who despite the win, logged his fourth consecutive poor outing. No one can get Gwynn out, and Terry Kennedy went four for four, after seeking out some pre-game tips from the hitting coach about how to approach left-handed pitchers - from the CUBS hitting coach, Billy Williams. While Trout's struggles are cause for concern on a team desperate for a reliable starting pitcher, the offense showed signs of life. Lopes hit his first homerun of the year, Sandberg doubled twice and Cey once, while Durham and Davis contributed two hits and Dernier scored twice. The Cubs' half of the second inning featured some of the ugliest baseball seen this year, as the Cubs scored four off of fielding errors by Jerry Royster and Garry Templeton, with Tim Stoddard coming in to replace Mark Thurmond. The Cubs should have had more, really, except for a botched bases-loaded squeeze play that resulted in Durham being picked off third. After Baller put two men on in the ninth, Big Lee was woken up from the pen to throw a one-pitch save. Dunston took the 0 for 5, snapping his modest six-game hitting streak. With Dernier hitting even less than Dunston, something needs to be done with that leadoff spot. That something, frankly, should be Lopes, who continues to pound the ball and show the best baserunning instincts on the team, forty years old or not. It's probably too much to ask him to play Center, however, and so far, the rumors of Moreland's moving from Right to Third, with Cey benched, traded, or released, prove to be just that, rumors. The other corner positions are manned, unless we want to ship off Matthews and/or Durham to make room for Lopes this year, and then Grace and Palmeiro next year. While there are plenty of Cubs fans ready to throw in the towel with our slow start and play for next year, already, it's premature to call for either of the kids to be brought up, as each one probably needs at least another year of seasoning. Same with Dave Martinez, but realistically, he could out-hit Dernier, now. Tomorrow is an off-day, and with exhibition games scheduled later this week against Des Moines and then the White Sox, Frey plans on going with four pitchers in the starting rotation. This will effectively keep Guy Hoffman in the bullpen, while Sutcliffe and Trout try to figure things out. So while problems abound for Frye and the '86 Cubs, at least today provided some much-needed respite.

May 13th

As critical as I have been of Baker, I actually am not yet ready to join the "Fire Him Tomorrow" crowd. I just don't see the failings of the 2006 Cubs to be Baker-induced. No Prior, no Wood, no Lee, no offense from Ramirez, Pierre or Jones - these things are not Dusty's fault. Murton (up until now) and Cedeno have played every day. I really don't get the argument that we are seeing the results of a team filled with Dusty-style players. Who are they? Lee? Ramirez? Walker? Barrett? Cedeno? Murton? Dempster? Zambrano? Maddux? Is Jones more of a Dusty Player than Burnitz was? (Pierre over Patterson, sure, I'll give you that.) If anything, the fundamental play of the team has improved over last year while the number of seemingly random and innane managerial decisions has declined, at least from my vantage point. Most fundamental, if we were to fire Baker tomorrow, who would replace him? Another Bruce Kimm? If we can't entice Bobby Valentine or Lou Pinella to take over, who is there that we could get, mid-season, that would be worth having? While we should have fired him last year, I don't think that firing Dusty now would accomplish anything more than a hollow, token gesture to fans demanding immediate but half-baked solutions to problems that extend wider and deeper than our choice of toothpick-tasters. Replacing Baker with Matthews, Rothschild or Clines would be meaningless. And all that said, I don't want Baker around for 2007. With that in mind, here are the first 15 questions I would ask a prospective Cubs manager, before even bothering to entering into discussions about specific personel. What would you ask? How would you answer?

GAME THIRTY-SIX IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] SAN DIEGO PADRES (20-16, 1st, 0.0) AT CHICAGO CUBS (15-20, 5th, 7.5 GB) Wrigley Field, 1:200 PM CDT Weather: Crappy TV: CSN Chicago, DirecTV 735 Radio: WGN, XM 188
Greg Maddux, RHP 5-2, 3.64 ERA, 42 IP 33 K, 8 BB, 3 HRChris Young, RHP 3-2, 3.61 ERA, 42 1/3 IP 33 K, 16 BB, 7 HR

*Dave Roberts, LF Mike Cameron, CF *Brian Giles, RF Mike Piazza, C Khalil Greene, SS Vinny Castilla, 3B *Adrian Gonzalez, 1B Josh Barfield, 2B Chris Young, P*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B *Jacque Jones, RF Jerry Hairston, LF Neifi Perez, 2B Henry Blanco, C Greg Maddux, P
Padres vs. Maddux: Brian Giles: 11-27, 407/500/667, 1 HR, 5 BB, 5 K Vinny Castilla: 13-45, 289/319/556, 3 HR, 1 BB, 9 K Mike Piazza: 17-65, 262/273/462, 4 HR, 1 BB, 10 K Geoff Blum: 6-25, 240/269/240, 1 BB, 7 K Eric Young: 12-55, 218/237/255, 2 BB, 2 KCubs vs. Young: Jacque Jones: 2-11, 182/182/455, 1 HR, 2 K

The Cubs have sent Angel Guzman back to Iowa and called up Jae-Kuk Ryu to take his place on the roster. Since Kerry Wood is scheduled to be activated on Thursday, I'm guessing Ryu will start on Wednesday and then will be sent back down to make room for Wood. What? You want to know something about today's game? Hmm. I think the best thing that could happen today would be for the game to be rained out. That would prevent the team from fielding a lineup that includes Neifi and Blanco, with Matt Murton on the bench. I'm guessing this won't be a one-game rest for Murton; I expect we'll find out tht he's been benched, so now he can sit around all day and think about how he's thinking too much. That's useful. And why, exactly, did Hendry bother to call up Ryan Theriot? Do you think it's doing him any good to be sitting on the bench watching the team lose? I mean, yeah, it's the majors and all, but how is this helping his development?

May 12th

what a horrible lineup. Jones has a bad groin and Dusty says Walker needs a day off. Guzman's already hit a guy and walked Giles. Good start. Well I'm swamped at work. This will have to do. Cubs Lineup: *Juan Pierre, CF #Neifi Perez, SS Ronny Cedeno, SS Aramis Ramirez, 3B Michael Barret, C *John Mabry, 1B Matt Murton, LF Jerry Hairston Jr., RF Angel Guzman, P Padres *Dave Roberts, LF Mike Cameron, CF *Brian Giles, RF Mike Piazza, C Khalil Greene, SS Vinny Castilla, 3B *Adrian Gonzalez, 1B Josh Barfield, 2B Woody Williams, P

May 11th

GAME THIRTY-FOUR IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (15-18, 5th, 6.5 GB) AT SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (16-18, 5th, 3.5 GB) Telephone Company Park, 2:30 PM CDT Weather: 68 degrees, Sunny, Wind Out to RF @ 13mph TV: WGN, DirecTV 735 Radio: WGN, XM 189
Jamey Wright, RHP 2-3, 4.61 ERA, 33 IP 19 K, 16 BB, 5 HRSean Marhsall, LHP 2-0, 3.12 ERA, 34.2 IP 26K, 11 BB, 3 HR
Ronny Woo-Woo, SS *Shrunken Head, CF *Having A Horrible May, 2B Please Start Hitting, 3B *Isn't This Why We Got Him?, 1B 1 RBI in 3 Weeks???, C *See I'm Not That Bad, RF One Step Closer to Getting Benched, LF *Still A Rookie, P, P*Randy Winn, RF #Omar Vizquel, SS Lance Niekro, 1B *Asterisk, LF Pedro Feliz, 3B *Steve Finley, CF Mike Matheny, C Kevin Frandsen, 2B Jamey Wright, P

Cubs vs. Wright: Aramis Ramirez: 6-29 207/273/241 1 XBH, 2 BB, 6 K John Mabry: 8-25 320/346/360 1 XBH, 1 BB, 2 K Juan Pierre: 7-14 500/500/786 1 HR, 3 2B, 0 BB, 1 KGiants vs. Marshall:

Sean Marshall has a 0.89 WHIP this year, holy freaking efficiency. It's been more than a pleasant surprise that he's been able to be so effective, so quickly in the majors. Let's hope he keeps it up today and we'll see if he has the guts to go after Bonds. After one comes two, let the streak begin!!!

OK! I finally figured out how to get my Big Board and organizational update file uploaded to the server. It's available here: Big Board and Organizational Update There are multiple tabs -- the first tab is the big board, showing the current rosters of every team in the system. Each team has its own tab as well, showing starts by position for each team. In addition, the players' names are linked to up-to-date splits for just about every player in the system, thanks to the tremendous work done over at Brew Crew Ball. I'll update this as often as I can, and as always I welcome suggestions and corrections. I've added a link to the right-hand column ("The Big Board") and I'll post notices here when I've updated the page.

May 10th

GAME 34 REVIEW
CUBS 8, GIANTS 1 Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart | Photos
W: Carloz Zambrano (1-2) L: Matt Cain (1-5)
I didn't really catch much of the game, only the first few innings on XM radio. Jon Miller made it sound like the Cubs defense was a bit shaky(Jones error, Z didn't cover first base on a potential DP, Pierre let one over his head) but for once the bats were there to overcome. By all accounts Z looked good and we find out that when you go after Bonds, it is possible to get him out every so often. I thought Bonds was going to take his normal day off tomorrow as it's a day game following a night game but Alou said he'll play. It'll be up to Sean Marshall to try and win the series and keep Bonds from climbing a rung on the all-time home run ladder. Glad the losing streak is over, the dogs, AngelFan wife and kids are safe once again. Looking forward to starting a winning streak.

GAME THIRTY-THREE IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (14-18, 5th, 6.5 GB) AT SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (16-17, 4th, 3.0 GB) Telephone Company Park, 9:15 PM CDT Weather: 63 degrees, clear, Wind Out to CF @ 17mph TV: CSN Radio: WGN, XM 189
Matt Cain, RHP 1-4, 6.27 ERA, 33 IP 26 K, 13 BB, 8 HRCarlos Zambrano, RHP 0-2, 4.43 ERA, 40.2 IP 48 K, 28 BB, 6 HR
Take A Freaking Pitch, SS *Out Machine, CF *Wishing He Got Traded, 2B Stop Gawking, Start Hitting, 3B *Desperate Times, Desperate Measures, 1B Pull A Pitch, LF *Fragile Ego, RF Hank To The Rescue, C #Drill Bonds for Me, P*Randy Winn, RF #Omar Vizquel, SS *Mark Sweeney, 1B *The Devil Incarnate, LF *Steve Finley, CF Pedro Feliz, 3B Kevin Frandsen, 2B Mike Matheny, C Matt Cain, P

Matt Cain's a pretty high-end prospect who's struggled out of the gate in 2006. I'm sure tonight will be a huge confidence booster for the kid. At least with Z on the mound, the chances of Bonds getting drilled skyrocket. Do something!

GAME 32 RANT
GIANTS 6 CUBS 1
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart | Photos
W: Jason Schmidt (3-2) L: Rich Hill (0-2)
Eighth verse, same as the first. You know, I've been calling for Dusty Baker to be fired for so long now that I can't get particularly exercised about joining the growing chorus right now. It's like this $^#&@ piece of property I'm trying to sell in California -- we found a buyer last September, but have had to deal with the San Diego County bureaucracy and a ludicrously incompetent buyer's agent for so long that when (if?) we finally do close, I'm not going to feel any joy or happiness, or really even relief. All I'm going to feel is a sense that this Thing that has been hanging over me is gone, and there will be a void that will, eventually I'm sure, go away and we'll just start to get on with our lives without wondering every day if this is actually going to happen or if we're just going to keep slogging along, waist-deep in stress, for the rest of our lives. That's how it is with me and the Cubs at the moment. I'm not going to go back through the TCR archives and find all the times I and others wrote about getting rid of Dusty, but they are there. There are many reasons why I thought it was the right thing to do over the last few seasons, and all of those reasons still apply. In fact, they apply now more than ever.

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