Archive - Jun 2007

June 30th

June 29th

If you missed that game, you'll be regretting it. Rich Hill spots the Brewers five runs in the first and then him and the bullpen combine to shut the Brewers the rest of the way as the offense chips away slowly at the lead. All to set up a 3-run ninth inning rally with a walk-off homer by Aramis Ramiez. 7 straight wins, six and a half games back and back to .500. Baseball is fun again.

Game Chat Yovani Gallardo vs. Rich Hill Lineups:
Hart RF Soriano LF
Hardy SS Fontenot SS
Braun 3B Lee 1B
Fielder 1B Ramirez 3B
Hall CF Floyd RF
Estrada C DeRosa 2B
Mench LF Bowen C
Weeks 2B Pie CF
Gallardo P Hill P

cubs_brewers.jpg This is as exciting as it's gotten around these parts in awhile. The Cubs are riding a hot streak winning their last six games and seven of their last ten games as they head into their most crucial series of the season. The Brew Crew are even hotter though, winning three straight and eight of their last ten. And while the Brewers stand seven and a half games ahead and probably look at us like a bug on the windshield in their drive towards the NL Central crown, a third straight series sweep by the Cubs might get them to drive off the road. Two of three will at least get them to start swerving a bit. I'll put up the game thread in just a few, but let's take a look at how the "top" 2 teams in the Central rank against each other. The Cubs lead the season series 5-4.
Category Brewers Cubs
Runs Scored 381 (3rd) 354 (6th)
Runs Allowed 339 (6th) 323 (5th)
Team Defensive Efficiency .700 (7th) .721 (2nd)
Starters ERA 4.24 (7th) 3.80 (3rd)
Relievers ERA 3.47 (3rd) 4.11 (9th)
Batting Average .267 (5th) .270 (1st)
On-Base Percentage .333 (5th) .330 (7th)
Slugging Percentage .455 (1st) .421 (5th)

June 28th

Recently TCR had the chance to review a DVD set commemorating great Cubs games since 1984. It seemed like something worth writing about on an off day. We’ve been looking for new fodder anyway—it gets SO monotonous covering a team that always wins. I remember the first time I came across ESPN Classic. I was clicking through the channels in a hotel room when I discovered it, and the thought that a whole cable channel could devote itself to showing historically significant games much as they were originally broadcast seemed too good to be true. After a few minutes, however, the novelty of seeing Willie Stargell and Steve Blass in a 1971 World Series game called by Curt Gowdy was outweighed by the tedium of waiting to see the game’s signature moment. In short order, I was back to grazing the cablescape in search of a Shannon Tweed movie on Cinemax. So it is with a handsomely packaged set of DVDs awkwardly entitled, “Chicago Cubs Legends Great Games Collector’s Edition” (CCLGGCE for short). The eight-disc collection was produced by A&E Home Video and Major League Baseball, and each disc presents one Cubs game from the past 23 years in its commercial-free entirety, some games more truly significant than others.

The Cubs continue to go with an 11-man pitching staff (six-man bullpen), but with a stretch of ten consecutive games looming starting tomorrow, and with hot and humid weather now a factor affecting the stamina of Cubs starting pitchers (Zambrano said he was sapped by the second inning yesterday), it seems very unlikely that Lou Piniella will want to go with a "short" (six-man) bullpen through the weekend. Trading Jacque Jones was supposed to be the method used to open up a spot on the 25-man roster for the 12th pitcher, but now it appears JJ might not be going anywhere anytime soon. So if Uncle Lou does indeed believe he needs a seven-man bullpen (and 12-man pitching staff), what move will the Cubs make to clear a spot for the 12th pitcher?

Good grief, you guys are verbose. Just for the sake of refreshing things, here's a new thread. Some random questions you can ignore, below...

June 27th

Game Chat Jason Hirsh vs. Carlos Zambrano Lineups:
Sullivan CF Soriano LF
Matsui 2B Fontenot 2B
Holliday LF Lee 1B
Helton 1B Floyd RF
Atkins 3B Pagan CF
Hawpe RF DeRosa 3B
Tulowitszki SS Hill C
Torrealba C Theriot SS
Hirsh P Zambrano P

June 26th

Game Chat Rodrigo Lopez vs. Ted Lilly Lineups:
Taveras CF Soriano LF
Tulowitszki SS Fontenot SS
Holliday LF Lee 1B
Helton 1B Ramirez 3B
Atkins RF Floyd RF
Spillborghs RF DeRosa 2B
Iannetta C Hill C
Carroll 2B Pie CF
Lopez P Lilly P

It's been all over the interweb the last hour or so, but we have our first reputable publication quoting a "National League source". So it's Jones and a "trunk load of the Cubs' money" to the Florida Marlins. The message boards are claiming the Cubs will get a pitcher from Single-A Greensboro. Stay tuned for updates. UPDATE: We've got 2 sources saying the deal has expanded to Jacque Jones, a PTBNL and about a $1 million in cash for a pitcher from Greensboro. Speculation surrounds lefty Graham Taylor at the moment. UPDATE #2: Ken Rosenthal says the deal has hit a "major snag" and speculates it could be about how much the Cubs will fork over in cash. UPDATE #3: Rosenthal says the deal is off, "barring an unexpected reversal". Boo!!!!

The Cubs open audition for their bullpen continues as Billy Petrick is en route to Chicago for tonight's game (I believe the poster "insidetheivy" is the editor Steve Holley so I trust the source). The subsequent roster moves have yet to be announced, speculation has centered on Jacque Jones getting traded (oh please, oh please), Dempster getting put on the DL and a possible demotion of Angel Pagan or Ryan Theriot although either of those seem highly unlikely. Petrick was a third round pick in 2002 who's battled all sorts of injuries throughout his career. He's found his way and his health so far in AA, posting a 2.37 ERA in 30.1 IP, 33 K's and 8 BB's. AZ PHIL: As recently as 2005, Baseball America had Billy Petrick rated as the Cubs #5 prospect (overall), and their #2 pitching prospect (behind only Angel Guzman). However, Petrick suffered a season-ending shoulder injury at Daytona fairly early in the '05 season, and missed the rest of '05 and most of '06 while rehabbing at Fitch Park. Like so many other Cubs pitching prospects who had their careers ended by shoulder problems, Petrick's future looked dim. However, he was moved to the bullpen this past Spring Training, and (somewhat magically) returned to at least somewhere close to his 2004 form. No longer a stud starting pitcher. the 23-year old 6'6 240+ Petrick has evolved into a quality relief pitcher, beginning the 2007 season at Daytona, before receiving a promotion to AA Tennessee. Petrick pounds the strike zone with a "heavy" 90-93 MPH sinker, and he led the MWL in fewest HR allowed per AB in 2004. He has allowed just 13 HR in 375 career minor league innings. In his last seven games at AA Tennessee, Petrick allowed just four hits and four walks in 12.1 IP, with 18 K.

June 25th

Season-changer?

Game Center, Play by Play, Box Score, Photos

W- Howry (4-4) Wrigley security workers. Former LSU tigers. Soriano. Derosa. Pagan. Saving potential scapegoats from scapegoatdom. Fans who stayed for the bottom of the ninth. Darn near everyone.

L- Fuentes (0-2 ) Doom and Gloom. Loser fanatics who think being famous and tough is all about trying to blindside a pro athlete in the middle of game.

Things to take from this game Where to start..... 1. The 9th inning. (part 1) 8 runs crossed the plate in the ninth. Six of there were for Colorado, but the final two to cross were the ones that mattered most. In a questionable effort to relieve a strained bullpen, Eyre came out to start the ninth, up 8-3, after pitching an effective 1.1 innings. The first three batters reached,Howry came in, three more batters reached, capped by a go-ahead home run by Troy Tulowitzki. Six batters, six runs, without an out registered. 2. The Ninth Inning (part 2) Some jackass got within a couple feet of blind-siding Howry with a full head-on sprint, after the home run. Some member of the Wrigley security crew earned his paycheck, spearing the clown at just about the last possible moment. Len reminds us it's a felony charge, not to mention, I presume, permanent banishment from Wrigley. 3. The Ninth Inning (part 3) They weren't rockets, but Derosa and Koyie Hill singled. By the time we exchanged pinch runners and runners forced, you have Jacques Jones standing on second, Hill on first, with two outs. Theriot hits the game-ending grounder to second, which Kaz Matsui boots into a game-continuing error. Bases loaded for Soriano, who delivers the come-from-behind, game-winning, two-run single. 4. That Scrappy LSU Middle Infield and other Heroes. Fontenot went 5 for 5 and now has hits in seven consecutive at bats. Theriort, entering the game on a double-switch, went 2 for 3, with the one "out" being the Matsui boot. They also turned a nice double-play. They scored 4 runs, total, while Derosa scratched out the ugliest 3 RBI you could hope to get, and Angel Pagan smoked a three run HR, back when this looked like it would be an easy victory.... 5. The Response The fans booed Eyre as he was pulled in the ninth, unfortunate given that he'd had a solid outing, until being left in for another inning. By the time Howry was done giving up the lead after that, the mood was predictably glum. But wow, the reaction when Soriano hit that single.... The comedy-free details, below!

Game Chat Jeff Francis vs. Jason Marquis Lineups:
Taveras CF Soriano LF
Matsui 2B Fontenot 2B
Holliday LF Lee 1B
Helton 1B Ramirez 3B
Atkins RF DeRosa RF
Hawpe RF Pagan CF
Tulowitzki SS Bowen C
Torrealba C Izturis SS
Francis P Marquis P
Congrats to Alfonso Soriano on his NL Player of the Week honors.

Well, it's time once again to dip into the mailbag and answer questions submitted by you, the fine readers and commenters at TCR. Let's see what's on your mind, and what I can do about it.

Dear Transmission,

For the last three and a half years, I was involved in an emotionally intense relationship with another man. You could cut the tension between us with a knife, but we always made it work, thanks to some wild but truly epic games of pitch and catch. In the last few months, however, well, it wasn't so good anymore. He'd go out when I'd want in, or I'd go down when he was expecting up. Things came to blows a few weeks ago, and while I've always had a temper, this was the first time that I ever hit him! I feel horrible about what I've done, but now, I'm afraid that I've driven him away for good. I think I've even driven him to "switch teams." Please help me, Trans, I'd do anything to get him back.

Buddy Is Gone, i'm a Zero.

Dear "BIG Z,"

June 24th

Word has been slowly leaking out all morning, and now the news has just crawled across ESPN News, so we'll run it, here: Beloved relief ace and former Chicago Cubs pitcher Rod Beck has died at the age of 38. No cause of death has yet been reported. Rod arguably is the most popular Cubs player to have spent less than two full seasons on this team. In 1998, he and Terry Mullholland seemingly pitched every day of August and September, helping the Cubs into the playoffs. For instance, he appeared on August 30th, 31st, September 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th, recording a save each time. He then pitched September 10th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 16th, and17th, with two wins and 4 saves. 35 times that year he pitched on no days of rest. He led the league in appearances that year, his 51 saves were a career high, although only good for second that year in the NL. He also led the world in grit-per-pitch. His 51st save was on September 28th, the 163rd game of the season, sending us to the playoffs as the NL Wild Card representative. Rod attempted a comeback with the Cubs in 2003, but failed to make the major league team. He spent April and May with the Iowa Cubs, living out of his camper trailer, which he parked behind center-field and from which he would host fans after the game. The Cubs released him at the end of May; he quickly signed on with the Padres, who had lost Trevor Hoffman to injury, and proceded to save 20 games with a sub-2 ERA. It proved to be the last in a seemingly unending series of improbable escapes and comebacks. On a personal note, Rod was my favorite Cubs player of the 1990s and beyond. From 2002 onward, my fantasy baseball teams and leagues have all used his name. As a guy who has never quite fit the mold myself, I loved the wild mullet from the Giants period, the fu manchu, the right arm dangling as if dead, swaying like a pendulum at his side when he stood on the mound, the beer belly, and his unending ability to reinvent himself as a pitcher, in order to continue to get batters out. The best eulogy you could hope to read about Beck comes from a lengthy ESPN article done during his Iowa Cubs period. Read it, here. Please humor me, and save the usual TCR game-related fodder, at least for awhile, to the game thread below this one.

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