Archive - Jun 2008

June 30th

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SP *Ted Lilly SP *Barry Zito
  5-8, 5.40, 95 K, 36 BB, 98.2 IP
3-11, 5.91, 44 K, 48 BB, 80.2 IP
       
RF *Kosuke Fukudome LF *Fred Lewis
SS Ryan Theriot 3B Jose Castillo
1B Derrek Lee RF #Randy Winn
C Geovany Soto C Bengie Molina
3B Mark DeRosa CF Aaron Rowand
CF *Jim Edmonds 1B Rich Aurilia
LF Matt Murton 2B Travis Denker
2B Ronny Cedeno SS #Emmanuel Burriss
P *Ted Lilly P *Barry Zito

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well that whole American League thing was no good...the Cubs went a paltry 6-9 against what was considered to be a soft interleague schedule at the beginning of the year.

Now it's back to the NL and back to the NL West, whom the Cubs have collectively beaten at an 18-5 clip. They'll get the offensively-challenged Giants tonight and it'll be up to Ted Lilly to try to keep them challenged. Lilly's overall numbers have been disappointing this year, but he's managed a 3.21 ERA in June up to this point. Most of his struggles this year can be attributed to a tendency to give up the gopher ball, but there's some hope that'll correct itself.

When the golden boy took the mound yesterday he must have felt right at home, what with the golden dome of the Iowa statehouse beyond the center-field wall and the Notre Dame fight song blaring over the PA system conjuring flashbacks of his alma mater.

Six innings and 101 pitches later Jeff Samardzija left having made another tentative promise on his well-financed junket through the bush leagues to the big-time.

He surrendered only one run despite walking six and recorded his first AAA win in his second start at that level.

If his dues-paying teammates resent his gilded glide through the system you wouldn't have known it by watching Koyie Hill throw out two base stealers or Luis Figueroa snuff out another threat by going way out of his way to snare a ball on the inskirts of CF and throw out the guy who hit it there.

Samardzija [I spelled it that time without looking it up] was also helped by a viagran breeze blowing straight in from LF @ 20 MPH. It caught one ball smoked to left-center and blew foul another that was thumped well beyond the RF fence.

Over the course of his season-and-a-half in pro ball the kid the Cubs lured from the NFL has now made 43 starts covering 229 innings. He's surrendered 257 hits and walked 94 while fanning 118. Not exactly glittering results.

Still, having now witnessed the most recent six of those innings I get why the Cubs got Samardzija.

First of all, he's imposing on the mound at 6'5" and 220. When he gets in jams he pitches like he's playing football. Case in point: Yesterday he faced Dallas McPherson in the top of the third protecting a 2-1 lead. McPherson leads all of pro baseball this year with 28 homers and just this weekend had a string of seven straight games with a homer snapped. To that point Samardzija hadn't topped 91 on the scoreboard speedometer. The sixth pitch of what ended as an eight-pitch strikeout registered 94 [scouts at Principal Park have told me that their guns consistently register 2-3 mph's faster than the ballpark's].

After looking like a prop at the plate in his first two AB's, Samardzija came up with the bases loaded in the fifth and got interested, slicing a sharp single to right through a drawn-in infield.

In short, the guy clearly likes to compete.

He threw first-pitch strikes to only 14 of the 24 hitters he faced. He only had one inning where he retired three straight. But his arm is lively and, money no longer being a concern, he seems to care mostly about winning. McPherson, a one-time phenom himself, was quoted in the local paper this morning as saying that Samardzija's fastball and splitter are both big-league caliber.

Once they're thrown as accurately as the Brady Quinn passes Samardzija used to catch, that's where he'll be throwing them, I suspect.

ALSO: His two RBI's yesterday give Micah Hoffpauir 26 in only 22 games with the I-Cubs this year...Figueroa almost suffered an improbable injury when he emerged from the dugout to lead-off in the bottom of the 2nd and was nearly run down by the golf cart the hot dog gunner was riding in...as a p.s. to AZ Phil's Pie post yesterday, I got to interview Felix once last year not long after he was sent back from his first taste of the 'bigs'. It was a rainy morning on a weekday with a matinee scheduled. An I-Cub official escorted me to a players' lounge area of the full, bustling clubhouse where I waited for Felix, apparently the last of the team to arrive. When he did he was sullen and practically non-communicative until the subject of his buddy Alfonso Soriano came up. Later our chat was interrupted by the team official who had to inform Felix why his rental car had been towed after he parked it smack dab in front of his downtown hotel late the previous evening and where he would have to go to get it back. It didn't sound like anybody was going to go get it for him which surprised me at the time. As for his general demeanor and tardiness to the ballpark, I was inclined to chalk them up as natural for a kid with his background in a strange place where the language too was unfamiliar. Given all the whispers going around Chicago media this spring about Pie's bad case of 'big-leagueitis', I have to wonder now...MW

June 29th

Felix Pie went 2-3 with a lead-off first-pitch double roped down the RF line, a bases loaded RBI walk on a 3-2 pitch, a grand slam HR hammered over the CF fence, and a hard-hit 4-3 GO, as the AZL Cubs thumped the AZL Royals 18-1 at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in hot and sunny Mesa. 

box score

So do I really think Pie was sent to Fitch Park to "rehab" a "sprained thumb"?

Well...

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP *Sean Marshall SP *Mark Buehrle
  0-1, 5.40, 12 K, 8 BB, 13.1 IP
5-6, 4.04, 57 K, 27 BB, 104.2 IP
       
RF *Kosuke Fukudome SS Orlando Cabrera
SS Ryan Theriot C *A.J. Pierzynski
1B Derrek Lee LF Carlos Quentin
3B Aramis Ramirez RF Jermaine Dye
DH Geovany Soto DH *Jim Thome
LF Mark DeRosa 3B Joe Crede
CF *Jim Edmonds 1B #Nick Swisher
C Henry Blanco 2B Alexei Ramirez
2B Ronny Cedeno CF Brian Anderson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 About a week ago, the Cubs set an ugly precedent by losing three in a row to the Rays. I see no good reason to set another today by losing their fourth in a row.

Sean Marshall takes the mound and it could be his last start for awhile. When Zambrano returns, Marshall could be headed to the bullpen to give Lou another lefty while Eyre nurses his sore groin or he'll head back to Iowa. Unless he does something special today and someone craps their pants before a decision has to be made (looking at you Marquis).

Back-to-back ESPN Sunday night games and I'll be watching this with one of my oldest friends who's visiting for a few days. I've tried not to hold it against him that he's a White Sox fan all these years. But sometimes I can't help it...

June 28th

Game Chat | BR Preview

SP Sean Gallagher SP Javier Vazquez
  3-3, 3.97, 39 K, 19 BB, 47.2 IP
7-6, 4.24, 97 K, 29 BB, 107 IP
       
RF *Kosuke Fukudome SS Orlando Cabrera
LF Mark DeRosa C *A.J. Pierzynski
1B Derrek Lee LF Carlos Quentin
DH *Daryle Ward RF Jermaine Dye
3B Aramis Ramirez DH *Jim Thome
CF *Jim Edmonds 3B Joe Crede
C Geovany Soto 1B #Nick Swisher
2B *Mike Fontenot 2B Alexei Ramirez
SS Ronny Cedeno CF *Dewayne Wise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Some juggling of the 2, 4, and 5 spots in the Cubs lineup today, and Theriot sits for another game.  Ramirez plays for Uribe, otherwise the same lineup for the Sox.  Today also marks the half-way point in the Cubs' season, with a win putting the Cubs exactly on pace for 100.  Cubs beat Vazquez pretty easily last time; this is Gallagher's first time facing the Sox.

 

AZ PHIL UPDATE: Prior to the game, the Cubs placed LHP Scott Eyre on the 15-day DL (groin), and recalled RHP Jose Ascanio from AAA Iowa. 

Ascanio just recently returned to the Iowa Cubs from Venezuela, after missing about ten days (Bereavement Leave and then visa problems) while attending his brother's funeral. 

Although Ascanio is one of the Cubs top pitching prospects, and while he does have MLB experience, the Cubs probably would have preferred to bring up a pitcher who can throw more than one inning (Ascanio is Iowa's closer), but Kevin Hart (concussion) and Randy Wells (leg) are injured, and MLB veterans Mike Burns and Hector Carrasco threw a lot of pitches the last couple of days. (The Cubs could transfer RHP Chad Fox to the 60-day DL if they need to open a slot on the 40-man roster for Wells, Burns, or Carrasco at some point down the line).

 

In what may have been the worst professional baseball game I ever saw, the AZL Cubs defeated the AZL Padres 16-15 yesterday in a four-hour nine inning game in 108 degree heat at Fitch Park Field #3.  

Bad fielding, bad pitching, bad everything.

box score

June 27th

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SP Ryan Dempster SP José Contreras
  9-2, 2.63, 85 K, 38 BB, 102.2 IP
6-6, 3.96, 56 K, 26 BB, 97.2 IP
       
DH *Kosuke Fukudome SS Orlando Cabrera
LF *Eric Patterson C *A.J. Pierzynski
1B Derrek Lee LF Carlos Quentin
3B Aramis Ramirez RF Jermaine Dye
RF *Daryle Ward DH *Jim Thome
CF *Jim Edmonds 3B Joe Crede
C Geovany Soto 1B #Nick Swisher
2B *Mike Fontenot 2B Juan Uribe
SS Ronny Cedeno CF *Dewayne Wise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's time for Round Two of the Cubs versus White Sox, a.k.a. Team Inferiority Complex.

The Cubs go with a lineup that's long on lefties and rich on suck. Fontenot? Cedeño?? Ward in the field??? Lou is clearly trying to win the game with one hand tied behind his back, thus completely demoralizing the hosts.

Dempster, who yielded just one run (though 10 hits) to beat the White Sox on Sunday night, gets the nod against Contreras, who the Cubs undressed last Saturday (9 ER, 10H allowed in 3.1 innings).

John Nuveen poster for Wrigley Field

From a campaign for Nuveen Investments designed specifically for use in and around the Wrigley Field skyboxes.You can see the rest of the posters here and here.

June 26th

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SP Radhames Liz SP Jason Marquis

1-0, 6.27, 14 K, 9 BB, 18.2 IP
6-3, 4.43, 41 K, 31 BB, 81.1 IP




2B #Brian Roberts LF *Eric Patterson
SS #Alex Cintron SS Ryan Theriot
RF *Nick Markakis 1B Derrek Lee
1B Kevin Millar 3B Aramis Ramirez
3B *Aubrey Huff CF *Jim Edmonds
LF Jay Payton C Geovany Soto
CF Adam Jones RF Mark DeRosa
C Guillermo Quiroz 2B *Mike Fontenot
P Radhames Liz P *Jason Marquis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sure, baseball is a 162-game marathon and one individual game generally means very little in the grand scheme of things. But once in awhile a key game comes along that can define a team and a season. The Orioles threaten to take the series today, which would mark the Cubs first series loss at home since the end of April to the Brewers. We shall not stand for this threat against our beloved Friendly Confines So rise up, my beloved Cubbies against this island of misfits led by the Cubs' bespectacled cast-off.

WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE!

June 25th

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SP Matt Albers SP *Ted Lilly
  3-2, 2.77, 25 K, 21 BB, 48.2 IP
7-5, 4.71, 91 K, 34 BB, 91.2 IP
       
2B #Brian Roberts LF *Eric Patterson
RF *Nick Markakis SS Ryan Theriot
3B Melvin Mora 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Aubrey Huff 3B Aramis Ramirez
C Ramon Hernandez CF *Jim Edmonds
LF *Luke Scott C Geovany Soto
CF Jay Payton RF Mark DeRosa
SS #Alex Cintron 2B *Mike Fontenot
P *Matt Albers P *Ted Lilly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Albers gets the emergency start in place of the scheduled O's starter, Brian Burres.

As you may have noticed, the top three teams in the NL Central, the Cubs (48-29, .623), Cards (45-33, .577), and Brewers (43-34, .558), also currently have the three best records in the National League. Who'da thunk?

Here is how the Big 3 rank against the rest of the NL in various categories.

June 24th

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SP *Sean Marshall SP Jeremy Guthrie
  0-0, 4.15, 5 K, 7 BB, 8.2 IP
3-7, 3.51, 68 K, 30 BB, 102.2 IP
       
2B #Brian Roberts RF *Kosuke Fukudome
RF *Nick Markakis LF *Eric Patterson
3B Melvin Mora 1B Derrek Lee
1B Kevin Millar 3B Aramis Ramirez
C Ramon Hernandez CF *Jim Edmonds
LF *Luke Scott C Geovany Soto
CF Adam Jones RF Mark DeRosa
SS #Alex Cintron SS Ryan Theriot
P Jeremy Guthrie P *Sean Marshall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bah...the Internets ate my preview, so here's the cliff notes version.

  • Orioles first trip to Wrigley...ever
  • Marshall called up, Reed Johnson to the disabled list.
  • Cubs going for 15th straight home win, Orioles are .400 on the road. Do the math.

Go Cubs!

2008 33rd round pick Sean Hoorelbeke (Central Michigan) roped a two-run double into the left-centerfield alley on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, driving in the tying and winning runs and giving the AZL Cubs a 4-3 victory over the AZL Giants at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in Mesa.

box score

The AZL Cubs are now 1-2 in AZL league play.

3B Junior Lake gave the AZL Cubs a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 2nd inning when he blasted a towering HR onto 8th Street, but the lanky 18-year old Dominican infielder got yanked out of the game by Manager Franklin Font after he failed to run out a ground ball in a later AB.

Just a typical Day in the Life of AZL baseball.  

Prior to the AZL game, LHP Rich Hill threw a two-inning (35 pitches - 22 strikes & 13 balls) simulated game on Field #1 under the watchful eye of Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator Mark Riggins (who stood at various vantage points around the infield and home plate area during the session, including behind the mound).

MLB has released the latest update on the All-Star voting and there would be three Cubbies in the starting lineup. Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome are one and two among the outfielders and Geovany Soto has a commanding lead over Brian McCann at catcher.

Of course, none of them deserve it, but it pays to be on a popular team that also happens to have the best record in baseball. A matter of fact, all the Cubbies are enjoying the residual benefits of a. 632 winning percentage. Derrek Lee is second in the voting, Mark DeRosa is second (poor Dan Uggla), Ryan Theriot is third and Aramis Ramirez is second(actually well-deserved). Using an advanced metric such as Runs Created, as tracked by The Hardball Times, here's how the All-Star voting should be shaking out. An asterisk indicates they are actually leading the voting.

The Tribune reports Tuesday that Mark DeRosa is "still hearing about" the Orioles' Brian Roberts, who will be on the field with his Baltimore mates tonight at Wrigley. (Wild thought—the primary sources of the Roberts reminders are those who ask DeRosa about Roberts and then write stories about his reaction to the reminders.)

For what it's worth, here are the 2008 numbers. First, an offensive comparison of Roberts, DeRosa (his total '08 numbers, not just those accumulated while he's playing 2B), and Cubs second basemen in total:

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