Archive - Mar 2008

For an Opening Day loss to a bitter in-division rival in which our ace had to leave the game prematurely, our leadoff man looked overmatched, and our new closer was tagged for three runs in an inning, that was a pretty satisfying game. All the credit goes to you, Kosuke. Thanks.

But former and perhaps future Cubs had a hand in games all across the land, and there were other Cub connections evident on this, the true Opening Day 2008.

Here is a Cub-flavored summary of today's already completed games:


D-Backs 4, Reds 2
.
Dusty loses his first game in the Cincy dugout. Corey Patterson goes
0-for-4, but doesn't strike out. Not once. In the whole game.


Nats 11, Phillies 6
.
Following their one-game home series against the Braves, the Nationals
traveled to Philadelphia to play the Phils. I can't find any way to
connect this game to the Cubs, except for the fact that scheduling a
Cubs-Brewers game in Chicago in late March when there's a perfectly
adequate domed stadium 90 miles north of Chicago is asinine...much like
scheduling the Nationals for a one-game home stand and then sending
them on the road.

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Carlos Zambrano SP Ben Sheets
2007 Record 18-13, 3.95 ERA 2007 Record 12-5, 3.82 ERA
2B Rickie Weeks SS Ryan Theriot
CF *Tony Gwynn Jr. LF Alfonso Soriano
1B *Prince Fielder 1B Derrek Lee
LF Ryan Braun 3B Aramis Ramirez
3B Bill Hall RF *Kosuke Fukudome
RF Corey Hart 2B Mark DeRosa
SS JJ Hardy C Geovany Soto
P Ben Sheets CF *Felix Pie
C
Jason Kendall P #Carlos Zambrano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening Day 2008 has arrived and the season starts off with a division rival tilt between our beloved Cubbies and those Brew Babies from up north. This will be Zambrano's fourth straight Opening Day start, he's 0-1 with an 8.16 ERA in the previous three. Maybe it's Mother Nature's way of calming his nerves with the impending rain delay.

Additionally...(from Cubnut)

The Cubs need to get off to a fast start and not just because it's no fun digging yourself out of the kind of hole Lou's boys escaped last year. Between now and the end of May, the Cubs have 33 home dates; the Brewers, just 25. (Six of those Cub home games are against Milwaukee.)

At the end of the season, the situation is reversed: in September, the Cubs play just 9 home games; the Brewers, 16...the final three when they host the Cubs.

March 30th

While the rest of his teammates spent the weekend in Las Vegas before heading back to Chicago for Opening Day, Rich Hill remained in Arizona and made his final Spring Training tune-up start versus the Angels' Salt Lake AAA club at the Diablo Park minor league complex in Tempe this morning.

Hill struggled with his control a bit in the 1st and 3rd innings (he walked a batter to load the bases in the bottom of the 3rd and then hit a batter to force-in a run), but he also retired the side in order in the 2nd, 4th, and 5th innings, including the last eight men he faced.

With a mandate from Larry Rothschild to throw between 80 and 90 pitches, Hill ended up throwing exactly 80 pitches (22-14-23-10-11 in innings 1-2-3-4-5, including 50 strikes and 30 balls).

In his five innings of work, the left-hander allowed one run (earned) on three hits, with two walks, four strikeouts, and a HBP, with a 6/5 GB/FB. 

March 29th

 

"Why, I remember when my father and I used to wake up at 5:30 in the morning and watch the season start in Japan."

--The Onion ("On Baseball's Opening Day")

Has Opening Day lost any of its luster since Major League baseball trash-canned the quaint tradition of starting every season with a single game, played in Cincinnati, the home of the game's first professional team, where the occasion was celebrated with a parade down the city's streets? Is the day less magical now that it has unfolded in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Japan, and the weekday game in the Queen City has given way to a made-for-ESPN event played on Sunday night? Of course it has.

But the thing is, it's still a damn special day on the baseball calendar and in WAY too many of the past 99 Cubs seasons, it has been the one and only day of the season when Cub fans' optimism was in full bloom.

Ryan Dempster's final tune-up before he's unleashed on the National League. The Mariners send out Jarrod Washburn which should give us an idea on the type of lineup the Cubs will send out versus lefties.

Two quick notes from Gordon Wittenmeyer...

The Cubs are getting enough interest from other teams in outfielder
Matt Murton that a deal might get done by the end of the weekend to
keep the Cubs from having to send the .296 career hitter to the minors.

They're just making sure no injuries occur today and Murton will most likely be out of here.

The battle between lefties Sean Marshall and Carmen Pignatiello for Eyre's vacated spot is going down to the final day.

Manager Lou Piniella said before Friday's late game that each lefty
would get an inning of work during the two-game set against Seattle.

It seems Lou really want to give Marshall every chance to win that spot, even though Pignatiello has easily outperformed him this spring.

March 28th

Absolutely, if you accept the premise behind an analysis in Friday's Wall Street Journal, which ranked 20 big league managers on:

    • Their teams' performance in close games, i.e., games tied through six innings
    • Their teams' won-loss record relative to its projected record based on runs scored and allowed (the "Pythagorean" projection)
    • How players' individual performances improved or declined under various managers, with allowances made for the players' ages

The managers were ranked in each of the three categories, and the ranks were averaged, giving each manager a composite score.

Two more games before they count...Ted Lilly vs. Carlos Silva tonight in Vegas. Cubs were down 5-0 as soon as I flipped it on and Theriot grounded into an rally-crushing double play. We sure we don't Soriano batting leadoff?

It's on the front of Rotoworld, but the Phillies claimed Tim Lahey today off waivers. They'll have to keep him on their 25-man roster all season to keep his rights beyond 2008 without a trade or cash exchanging hands. If he can't stick, he'll go through waivers again, but more likely end up back in the Minnesota Twins organization (if they want him). The Cubs are still owed a player for the Craig Monroe deal from the Minnesota Twins. It's certainly possible that it still might be Tim Lahey, but they'll have to wait for the Phillies to be done with him first.

With Cubs Minor League Camp at Fitch Park ending on Sunday, the rosters for the Cubs four "full-season" minor league clubs (AAA Iowa, AA Tennessee, Hi-A Daytona, and Lo-A Peoria) are just about set.

Several players have been released or demoted over the past couple of days, including former Cubs top prospect Brian Dopirak.

...1,753 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.

- I had been on record saying that the Cubs choosing between Dempster, Marquis, Lieber and Marshall wasn't much of a choice at all. Just pick whatever shade of gray you're in the mood for and go from there. If anything, Marshall still having options made him the obvious choice to get sent down and be available when the inevitable injuries hit. Now that the decision has been made to go with Dempster and Marquis with Lieber to the pen and Marshall suddenly fighting for the LOOGY role, I will say I feel a bit reassured, at least in one area. 

Cubs pitchers have a tendency to run up their pitch counts early in games and it's particularly worrisome with Ryan Dempster early on, who still has to get use to pacing himself as a starter. But, with Lieber, Hart and possibly Marshall in the pen, that really shouldn't be much of a problem, as all three can go multiple innings. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if Dempster and possibly Marquis will be getting some really quick hooks in their games this year to see Lieber come in for three to four innings.

- Sports Illustrated has gone and ruined our season, predicting us to lose in the World Series to the Detroit Tigers. I believe last year they picked the Los Angeles teams to square off and I'm sure we all remember how 2004 went after SI picked us to win it all. Curse you SI....

- Speaking of the Cubs and Tigers in the World Series, I stumbled across this gallery from the 1945 World Series.

- ESPN's Page2 goes through each and every painstaking year since we last won it all. 


- Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus takes a look at the Cubs signing of Reed Johnson and thinks it's another "uncreative use of resources", par for the Cubs' course.

- Doug Glanville's second career as a freelance writer sure looks promising. He writes in the New York Times about some of his past spring training exploits.

3 days until Opening Day....

A few weeks back, we had our draft for the TCR MLB Open league. We had enough willing participants for a seconds league and their draft was Saturday. I wasn't in this league, but reader "big lowitzki" is and provided me with the draft results. A quick reminder of the rules first:

H2H weekly play

No trades

Set your lineups weekly

Point system (Single = 1, Double = 2, Triple = 3, Home Run = 4, Run = 1, RBI = 1, Walk = 1, Stolen Base = 2, Caught Stealing = -1 )

Draft entire Pitching Staff, not individual pitchers (basically Wins, K's, ERA and WHIP are counted)

That's the basics, so let's see how they drafted.

March 27th

Catching up on day-old news here, but former Cubs manager Preston Gomez was critically injured Wednesday morning when he was struck by a pickup truck in Blythe, California.

The 84-year-old Gomez, who has been a special assistant for the Angels for many years, was on his home from spring training at the time of the accident. Gomez stopped for gas and after refueling his car, "stepped out around the end of the gas pumps and into the path of a large pickup truck," according to the Blythe police.

Micah Hoffpauir slugged two home runs to help rally the Cubs from an 8-4 deficit, but then grounded out with the winning run on third with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, leaving the Cubs and Brewers tied at 10 in what was the final Spring Training game for the Cubs in Arizona.

box score

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