Archive - Jul 2009

I had a more thorough analysis of the trade partially written up, but then my dog ate it. C'est la vie.

And unfortunately I won't be around my computer much today, so feel free to continue the discussion here and any other deadline deals.

Otherwise, the Cubs march into Florida, a place that hasn't been too kind to them over the last few seasons. They beat them 2 of 3 last year, but in 2006 and 2007, were swept out of LandShark Stadium or whatever they're calling it these days. Rich Harden vs. Christ Volstad tonight, Zambrano pitches for the Cubs Saturday, but I don't see a starter listed for the Marlins anywhere. Sunday brings old friend Ricky Nolasco versus Ryan Dempster.

July 30th

Chris DeLuca tweets that the Cubs have acquired left-hander John Grabow from the Pirates. You can read my thoughts about him from earlier today. ESPN confirms that the deal is being finalized. I'll update as details emerge...

UPDATE #1: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette adds Tom Gorzelanny to the trade and the deal is "just about done".  No word yet on the Cubs cost.

UPDATE #2: Sun-Times says deal for Grabow will be announced after the game, no mention of Gorzelanny or the players going to Pittsburgh.

UPDATE #3: The Breaking News banner at ESPN Chicago says it's Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio for John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny.

UPDATE #4: Make it Kevin Hart, Jose Ascanio and infielder Josh Harrison for Grabow and Gorzelanny. Gorzelanny will be assigned to Triple A immediately but could be called up to take the fifth spot in the rotation to replace Kevin Hart for Tuesday's start versus Cincinnati. Other options could be Jeff Samardzija, Aaron Heilman (remember when he was good in spring training as a starter?), Mitch Atkins (6.92 ERA in Iowa), JR. Mathes (happens to be his turn in the rotation today at Iowa) or a mystery 5th pitcher. Hendry says Lou and Larry will figure it out on the plane.

Be sure to vote on the 100-game surveys below....

Time for a little rant.

In this era of internet fast - rapid dissemination of information, we've expected our hard-hitting beat reporters to keep asking the tough questions. Yesterday, the reporting on Reed Johnson's foot injury disappointed me. The news was lightning fast. I got a twitter text message from David Kaplan regarding Johnson's X-Rays showing a fracture in his foot. Then before blinking an eye there were links to articles from all of the major beat writers...Tribune's Paul Sullivan, Gordon Wittenmeyer/Sun-Times and Bruce Miles/Herald

The rumor talk hasn't grown much louder than a whisper so far for the Cubs, a few names sprinkled here or there, but it doesn't appear they'll make any big impact moves.

July 29th

Just Need an Better Extra-Point Kicker.
W - Wells (7-4), pitching to contact, GIDP chances
L - Hampton (6-8), pitching badly to contact

Things to Take from This Game
1.  The batters hit well.
Hampton didn't have much control or stuff today, giving up 9 runs in 4 innings.  The game was over after the first, which saw the first nine batters either get hits or advance a runner on a sacrifice, resulting in  six runs.  No one on the team had more than two hits, and only Soriano got to three RBI, courtesy of the home run in the first.  Among the hitters only Fukudome, who replaced Johnson early in the game for reasons yet unknown, failed to get on base. (Update: As Cubster reports in the second and thirty-eighth comments, Johnson has a fracture in his foot.)

 

2.  The batters don't hit Wells.
Randy Wells only had one strikeout, on a generous check swing call.  But the Astros didn't hit much of anything hard, recording just six singles.  The Cubs seemingly had a GIDP opportunity in every inning and converted four of them.

 

3.  First! (s)
The game featured Wells' longest outing in the majors to date, eight innings, and in consecutive at bats, the first major league homer and triple for Blanco and Hoffpauir.  Mitch Atkins made his major league debut in the ninth, pitching a scoreless inning.  It's also my first game linking to the awesome FanGraph's Game Graph pages, too.  Oh yeah: we might regain first place, depending on the Cards' game tonight.

 

The nothing-to-complain-about details, below.
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The Cubs five-game win streak doesn't make it to six and and the loss coupled with the Cardinals win over the Dodgers, drops the Cubs back to second place. Ryan Dempster returned from the disabled list and was nothing short of awful. 5 IP, 9 H, 3 K and 5 ER, 6 total and the error was his own. But at least he didn't walk anyone! With the Cubs catching a huge break when Roy Oswalt left in the second inning with a back injury, the Cubs just needed some decent pitching to stay in this one and they sure didn't get it from Dempster or the bullpen. 

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July 27th

For the second time in a week the Cubs go 13 innings, but manage the win this time to keep a half-game lead in the NL Central as the Cardinals defeated the Dodgers (Brewers lost again to drop 4 back). The class of the Central division since June, the Astros waltzed into Wrigley on the shoulder of the über-hot Wandy Rodriguez (4 straight wins and 0.62 ERA in July) and he didn't disappoint, holding the Cubs to a run on 7 strikeouts in 7 innings. Z matched those 7 innings and one run, although with just 4 K's and 4 BB's. That left it up to the bullpens and the Cubs' proved to be just a little bit better tonight

Alfonso Soriano had goat written all over him, going 0/5 with 3 K's and
failing to run on a tap out to third base that he claimed hit his toe.
Then with the bases loaded and 0 outs, he got one more chance and
launched one deep to center on top of the center field restaurant for
the win and give the Cubs the opener.

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It's everyone's favorite time of the year, so gather the kids around the fire and let's speculate away to our heart's content.

Cardinals - Like those annoying folks that get their Christmas shopping done early, the Cards are probably done wheeling and dealing picking up Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa. They missed out on the Christmas sales and paid a steep price in prospects, but they should help a team that has basically been riding a 16-7 April to justify the spending spree.

Brewers - They found an early deal getting Felipe Lopez to play second base for them and you know they're searching far and wide for a starting pitcher. They seemed to scoff at adding Doug Davis into that Lopez deal, but looks like they have their sites set on Wisconsin native, Jarrod Washburn.  Considering they have the third worst ERA in the league, and second worst among starters, I'm not sure adding Washburn and his Safeco-aided ERA is really gonna be much of a boost.

July 26th

Click on the image for the full-size animation.

Tim Souers is the illustrator and author of Cubby Blue and appreciates the opportunity to guest blog here at The Cub Reporter.
http://www.cubby-blue.com

July 25th

Bruce Levine reports Ted Lilly goes to the DL, righty reliever Justin Berg (acquired in the 2005 Matt Lawton trade from the Yankees) gets called up from Iowa. Lilly's MRI-Arthrogram apparently didn't show "any significant abnormalities" (possibly showing tendonitis but no structural damage) but as we've all seen what the media gets to report and what the radiologist and orthopods see isn't always identical.

Levine also says Lilly has agreed to having his sore left knee undergo arthroscopic surgery (scheduled for Monday) to clean up Lilly's meniscus (link to anatomy pic), speculating that he can be back in 3 weeks if they do that now.

From a report on Levine's ESPN-1000 radio show, Lilly said the shoulder got his attention the day after the game in Philly. The shoulder felt "a little unusual". Yesterday he tried to throw and had sharp pain. He said he was familiar with it as it felt like his symptoms in Toronto. Lilly said he expects himself to come back in 3 weeks...

Based on my experience, how long it takes to recover from a knee arthroscopy varies greatly and 3 weeks is certainly possible but continuing to push the envelope on these injuries is like playing with fire. This implies the medical staff thinks Lilly's shoulder injury is a cascade problem, meaning that his knee soreness lead to altered pitching mechanics that secondarily lead to the shoulder problem. I found evidence that they connected his knee and shoulder woes when his shoulder took the brunt of the blame in 2005. 

From this mlb.com article on the Bluejays archive circa Spring 2006:

Last year, he said he had a tendency to have a "stiff" landing with his right leg, which put unnecessary strain on his throwing shoulder. Perhaps not coincidentally, Lilly sat out last spring with a shoulder injury.

I did some additional background research on Lilly's shoulder problems from 2005. Back then his diagnosis was biceps tendonitis (link to anatomy drawing). He missed most of spring training and started his season by coming off the DL 4/10/05 but had a rough April and worked through the problem until it flared up at the end of July 05. This lead to a 2nd DL stint lasting 5 weeks. 2005 wasn't kind to Lilly producing a 10-11 record but Lilly is a tough guy and naturally he didn't make his injury an excuse in this end of season interview from the Bluejays site.

"To put it very mildly, I'm disappointed in the way I've gone out there and competed," Lilly said Wednesday after his last start of the season. "I guess, coming into this year, I just expected us to be competitive in this league. And [I expected] myself to really make a push to help us do that."

To be fair, injuries played a large part in his inability to meet those goals. Lilly missed all of Spring Training with a case of shoulder tendinitis, and when he came back, he clearly wasn't ready to pitch in the big leagues.

Regarding the 2009 version of Ted Lilly, his shoulder tendonitis/torn knee meniscus might just take 3-5 weeks if they don't push things and add the knee arthroscopic surgery to his recovery list. Getting Lilly back in September is just like trading for an All-Star for the pennant stretch (slamming head in Rob G's door).

A chronology of the Ted Lilly 2005 biceps tendonitis after the fold...

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Cubs 2009 2nd round pick D. J. LeMahieu (LSU) made his professional debut tonight at Fitch Park in Mesa, going 2-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, leading the AZL Cubs to a 4-1 victory over the AZL Brewers in Arizona League action.   

box score

July 24th

The big news is that the Cardinals have struck again on the trade market acquiring Matt Holliday from the Oakland A's for 2008 1st round pick Brett Wallace, RHP Clayton Mortensen and OF Shane Peterson. Wallace was a 5-star prospect according to Kevin Goldstein to begin the season and #2 on John Sickels list, with Mortensen and Peterson being "C+" prospects according to Sickels. Apparently being too right-handed isn't a concern for them as they're lineup could be Molina, Pujols, DeRosa, Ryan, Glaus, Holliday, *Rasmus and Ludwick.  Of course Glaus isn't back yet, and he'll probably be given a lot of days off when he does return but that's what their lineup could look like down the stretch.

Good news for the Cubs is that when Alfonso Soriano, Milton Bradley and Aramis Ramirez really start hitting, it'll be like making a trade.

(slams head in door)

I don't think this guarantees anything for the Cardinals, but it certainly doesn't hurt them this year, so....crap.

July 22nd

The Phillies Don't Go to 11.

 

W - Zambrano, (7-4), "working" from home and watching afternoon Cubs games, ending someone else's winning streak.
L - Moyer, (9-7), making the same reference to the same movie that everyone else always makes.
S - Gregg, (19)
Things to Take from This Game

 

1. A Balanced Attack
Seven different Cubs had RBI today, without benefit of a home run.  Bradley, Soriano and Ramirez all had two-hit games, Theriot had both 3 hits and stolen bases.  Perhaps most interesting, Bradley's five ABs were all with a runner in scoring position; he went 2-4 with a walk and an RBI. None of the hits were rockets, but I'll take it.

 

2. Well-pitched early...
Moyer had the Cubs fooled for the first three innings, and Z pitched well through the first five.

 

3. ... tense moments late.
The Phillies left the bases loaded in both the seventh and the eighth.  Marshall faced one batter, Dobbs, who singled in two runs that got charged to Z.  But Guzman then escaped from the inning, and eventually turned the game over to Gregg who escaped from the eighth and pitched an uneventful ninth for an impressive save.  The Cubs also finally did some damage to the Philly relievers, getting to both Durbin and Lidge, allowing our relievers some breathing room.

 

The 5-2 Roadtrip details, below.

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What are you gonna say about last night's game? Rich Harden looked dominating for a second straight game and the offense looked maddening for the about the 60th time this year. There's not a lot of strategy to complain about when the Cubs couldn't even muster a hit. The Cubs need to try to punch through tonight with Carlos Zambrano on the mound versus Father Time to avoid the sweep.


According to Wittenmyer, the Cubs do have some limited payroll flexibility to add a "mid-level" player, but don't expect a run at Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee. Wittenmyer mentions relievers as the most obvious targets and throws out the names of George Sherrill and Chad Qualls. If Geovany Soto has any setbacks recovering from his oblique injury, a catcher will become the focus with Rod Barajas being mentioned.

Milton should be back in the lineup today after a few private hitting sessions with Lou. Lou says he needs to relax at the plate and then spends a few sentences throwing Hendry and Milton under the bus for not getting Raul Ibanez or a left-handed hitter that could actually hit a home run or two.

"The only thing I talked about last season was a need for a left- hand
bat in a predominantly right-handed lineup who could hit the ball for
power and drive in some runs," he said. "You look at our production
last year and it was mainly from the right side.


"We didn't bring [ Jim] Edmonds
back and Edmonds hit quite a few home runs, so we needed a left-handed
bat. That's it. That was what I mentioned, that we could use a nice
productive left-hand bat in the middle of our right-handed hitting."


Piniella paused for some time before finishing his thoughts and finally said:


"Look, we still need a left-hand bat who can hit for some power and drive in runs."

This is as much on Lou as Hendry...as well as Bradley. Fine, Lou wanted a run-producing bat from the left side and Bradley hasn't delivered and Hendry (so far) signed the wrong guy. How about stop being so stubborn and move Bradley from the middle of the order and put him in a spot that his current talents might be better suited for? While I still think he'll start hitting, right now he's nothing more than a guy that can take a walk, move him to the top of the order and let him set-up some guys who are hitting. And while you're complaining about hitting, how about getting Jake Fox a start behind the plate instead of Three-Finger Hill?

You know, I don't think managers are all that important to a team, it starts with the talent, but if there's anything a manager needs to do its to work with the talent he does have and give them the best chance to succeed, not force them into pre-conceived roles that they're not suited for.

July 20th

Illegitimate.
W - Rodrigo Lopez. (2-0) (Seriously)

S - Chad Durbin (1)

Things to Take from This Game
1. Aspirin.

 

2. Well, the bullpen pitched well. Mostly.
Lilly never looked comfortable.  His 6/2 K/BB line looks good, but he fidgeted on the mound, was consistently wild in the strike zone, and it resulted in 7 ER in 4 IP.  A 3-run HR by Ibanez in the first, and a 2-run job by Ruiz in the second, and the Cubs were out of it.  Stevens and Heilman pitched well, before Guzman gave up a solo HR to Howard in the ninth.

 

3. Rodrigo Lopez, wtf?
The Cubs were shut down by Lopez, who departed for Chad Durbin and the embarassment of the three-inning save.  I can't begin to understand the combination of events that led to the cubs being six-hit by this pairing.

 

4. Oops.
Soriano watched a routine fly ball clank off of the heel of his glove for a run-scoring error.  You just don't see professionals miss fly balls in this manner; he didn't lose it in the lights, slip, get distracted, or anything.  Just missed it.  He then seemingly responded to the Phillies fans' mocking applause after he caught the next ball, by making an overly exaggerated graceful hop-catch on the ball after that. He did have three of our six hits, at least.

 

If you really want to, the details follow. 
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