Archive - Jul 2010

Manager Ryne Sandberg's Iowa Cub lineup SCORED 4 runs in 9 minutes? I LOVE THIS STAT! That translates to 26.6 runs per hour. Thankfully, they suspend games in triple-A rather than just wash them out and make it a do-over. The RPH just might go up when the game resumes in a month.

Manager Lou Piniella's Chicago Cubs GAVE UP runs at a similar velocity. After last night's 17-2 debacle vs the Rockies in an 8th inning that saw 11 consecutive hits (13 total hits but 11 hits with 2 outs) and 12 runs score...that's what I'm talking about, RUNS PER MINUTE. The only problem is that the Chicago National League franchise's role model has been Captain Peter Wrongway Peachfuzz. It was too painful for me to use a stopwatch on that fiasco. The last time the Cubs gave up 12 in one inning was Sept. 24, 1985 vs the Expos. The Expos won that game 17-15 and Expo hat wearing Andre Dawson went 4-6 with 8 rbi and 3 homers. Oddly, a pitcher named Ray Fontenot took the loss for the Cubs. At least those Cubs scored 12 runs over the last 3 innings, which is more than this inept group could claim.

Why can't the I-Cubs just play out their schedule at Wrigley and hide the lame ducks in Des Moines?

As far as the trading deadline ending later this afternoon, the Saturday morning latest says Lilly is still on the block with the Dodgers, Twins, Tigers and Yankees for some reason showing interest. "Minor sniff's" on Xavier Nada and Little Babe Ruth are out there per Ken Rosenthal. Something about interest in DBack Kelly Johnson too. If they wanted him now, it seems they missed the boat since he would have come for less when he was a free agent nobody wanted last off-season. Did Jim Hendry misread the saying as buy-high and sell-low? I hate it when we get stuff bass-ackwards.

and a bit more detail on runs-per-minute after the break...

July 29th

Orioles President Andy McPhail, of the royal baseball McPhail lineage (grandpa Larry, dad Lee) had a chance to snag another ex-Cub and went another direction today by hiring non-nonsense manager, Buck Showalter.  Recent speculation by Tribster, Steve Rosenbloom, had Sandberg on Andy's speed dial but it seems it wasn't so. The O's beat writer for mlb.com said the short list was former O's catcher Rick Dempsey, former Indians manager Eric Wedge and Bobby Valentine, who has recently volunteered his services as the next Cub manager.

With less than 48 hours to go on the trade deadline and the Cubs season over long ago, Hendry seems on the brink of not being able to move any of his overpriced talent.

Well-done sir.

The latest of course is that Derrek Lee wouldn't waive his NTC to go to the Angels  who happen to reside in Southern California where he is building a home. As a 10/5 man, he has earned that right,  so fair enough. But please don't invoke the love of the city or your teammates because you're kind of screwing them over.

"I think the bottom line is family. I like Chicago, I enjoy my teammates. It was the decision we made."

You may be thinking that he just didn't want to go to the Angels who are pretty much out of it, but according to Bruce Levine, the Rangers came up with an offer as well and they're very well on their way to the playoffs at the moment. I don't know anything about Lee's personel life, but for the $13M he's making this year, it seems like he could overcome the 2-month inconvenience. Since Lee is still having a crap year and the team is obviously moving on past him for 2011, it'd be nice if he was benched for prolonged period of times to start giving whomever the Cubs think might be next year's first basemen some much needed game experience (Colvin, Soriano, Ramirez, Hoffpauir, etc).

- Ted Lilly seemed like a slam dunk to get moved, but teams seem to be balking at picking up his salary. The Cubs should of course just offer to pay most of it, if it can net them a decent pair of prospects, but Hendry still can't figure out how free agent compensation works, so I'm doubtful he'll figure out the idea of sunk costs. The Phillies are of course out now as they picked up Roy Oswalt, leaving the Mets, Twins and Dodgers as the most likely targets, although all seem hesitant at this late hour.

On the other hand, if these teams are so hesitant to pick up his salary or Lee's, both should easily clear waivers and if they don't, dear god Hendry, just let them go and save the money since there's no way in hell you'll offer them arbitration cause you never do that.

- I haven't heard much on the Ryan Theriot front lately past the Rockies and Tigers rumors. Xavier Nady's continued awfulness has nullified his trade value.

So at this moment, we all have the joy of following a terrible team that can't even conduct a proper fire sale. Cubs fever...catch it.

July 28th

On Memorial Day, 1922, the Cubs and Cardinals completed a trade between games of a split doubleheader. After playing for their respective teams in the morning game, Cubs outfielder Max Flack and Cards OF Cliff Heathcote were traded for one another. Each man played for his new team in the afternoon.

The Cubs and Rockies have no doubleheaders scheduled this weekend, but in line with rumors that have been coming out of Chicago the past couple days, the Denver Post is reporting that Ryan Theriot may begin the weekend series as a Cub and end it as a member of the Rockies.

Four pitchers combined to throw a five-hit shutout, and Vismeldy Bieneme reached base four times, stole two bases, and scored three runs, as the AZL Cubs blanked the AZL Padres 3-0 in a game that was played in a steady monsoon drizzle at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa Tuesday night.  


July 27th

By all accounts, Ted Lilly will be an ex-Cub by Saturday's trading deadline, in which case tonight's start at Houston will be his last for the team. Signed in December, 2006 after finalizing a deal with Cubs GM Jim Hendry moments before Hendry underwent an angioplasty, Lilly will go down as one of the GM's savvier acquisitions.

If you're a Twitter user and are not currently following us (@thecubreporter), please do so. The goal is to get to 600 followers—we're currently at 584—before Alex Rodriguez hits his 600th home run.

And then rub his nose in it.

July 26th

A couple items from the rumor mill...

Ken Rosenthal says the Cubs are running a Kosuke Sale. And Bruce Levine is apparently reporting that Ryan Theriot's stock went up over the weekend and that he is now on the radars of the Rockies, Padres, and Tigers. Tip o' the hat to @TheCCO, who passed along Levine's report, and also to Tim McGinnis of Aisle 424 (@Aisle424) who wrote so eloquently of Theriot:

July 25th

The last post is getting a little long in the tooth and a little bitchy, so let's move on to happier things like Andre Dawson's Hall of Fame induction today and the Cubs on the brink of a three game sweep over the Cardinals.

I don't have much to add actually on Dawson's speech today much like anything involving this site lately, but that smiling photo with the plaque classes up the joint.

As for the Cubs, they're third in the league in runs scored in July behind the Giants and Yankees. Who'd thunk? Three guys have OPS numbers north of 1.000 (Castro, Ramirez and Soto) with Byrd, Lee and Colvin around the .800 or above mark, leaving Soriano(.732 but with 5 HR's) and Theriot(.641) to bring up the rear.

Z threw two scoreless last night for Iowa with no walks, a hit and three K's and should join the team this week if he apologizes to his teammates for...giving a shit about losing? And probably for destroying the Gatorade cooler, I hear it was a clubhouse favorite.

Dempster got beat up a bit against the weakly 'Stros last time, but the offense bailed him out of a loss.

Lineup for tonight's game from Muskat's twitter feed:

rf colvin, ss castro, 1b lee, 3b ramy, cf byrd, lf sori, c soto, 2b riot, p demp

It's official. I've double-dared (if I were Ryan Theriot, it would be a single dare) the Baseball Gods to invoke their wrath. All I can hope for is that they won't think about reversing reverse psychology.

My spouse loves to travel. I love baseball season. This has lead to 30 years of negotiating the avoidance of travel during just a few parts of the year. Early April and September-October.

I'm serious losing this battle. Last year we took a 3 week trip to China, breaking my string of being at Wrigley Field for opening day, a streak of over 30 years (I've been back in Chicago since college days).

The one absolute taboo was that we wouldn't take a major trip in September or October because that was the wrapup of the baseball season and playoffs. Her argument was September/October is the best weather for travel to many of her favorite places. For years, she checks in every so often asking that if the Cubs were out of contention, could we take a trip in September or October.

After taking this seasons beatings and holding out hope as long as I could, I've given in. The plane tickets are booked to southern France and I'm daring the Baseball Gods to beat me up, invoking the 1935 Cubs as my lesson on what I'm about to miss...

July 23rd

He said he would meet the press on Wednesday afternoon but word was he jetted back to Chicago instead. Then the plan was to talk with media types after a pitching cameo Thursday night. He pitched a little but didn't talk at all, using the Iowa Cubs media relations people the way bigshot execs use secretaries to dodge phone calls. The enabling continues.

To his credit, Carlos Zambrano took it upon himself to scribble a few marks of Zorro for unaccountably adoring fans before last night's game in Des Moines. The biggest crowd of the year, nearly 13,000, had assembled, but Zambrano wasn't the only attraction. It also happened to be Casey Blake bobblehead night and Casey Blake is big in these parts. He hails from Indianola, a village not too far south of town.

— A season-high crowd of nearly 13,000—more than 5,000 above than the I-Cubs' average—was on hand for Carlos Zambrano's rehab appearance last night in Des Moines. 

Zambrano threw a bumpy but scoreless inning in which he got 10 of 15 pitches over the plate, but allowed two singles and was saved from a third hit by Sam Fuld's catch against the center-field wall. (See Mike Wellman's full account here.)

 

Current plans are for Zambrano to pitch in Round Rock over the weekend and then in Albuquerque on Tuesday before rejoining the big club in Colorado.

July 22nd

After getting stood up at a mid-day press conference with a once angry pitcher in exile from the big leagues I went home after work to change into shorts and sandals and then headed back to the ballpark. Last night I pulled my first shift of the summer in the "Ryne Line," the nightly queue that forms in the stands to get a brief audience with the only HOF'er currently at work in baseball's minor leagues.

Since I was there alone I was left to pass the wait by watching the Oklahoma City Redhawks take BP before the grounds crew painted the infield a dark red and bright white. I couldn't help but eavesdrop on some of the conversations going on around me. One guy a few spots back remarked that he can't stand the Metrodome and doesn't plan on going to a Twins' game again until or unless they get an outdoor stadium. Good luck with that, pal!

Eventually I got the manager of the first place Iowa Cubs to sign a PCL ball and one of the cards they were passing out at the Wrigley Field turnstiles on the day in 2005, about a month after his induction at Cooperstown, when his #23 was retired and hoisted up the foul pole.

I don't know enough about big league baseball or Ryne Sandberg to know what kind of a manager he would be at that level. I do think he has grown into his role as a manager at this level.

After all these years, I should know better than to underestimate the Cubs' ability to screw things up, but each time they do, I am somehow sickened anew. This 10-week, all-expenses-paid farewell tour of the National League granted to Lou Piniella is just the latest example.

July 20th

After 23 years as a manager and many, many victories, though not a single one of them in the post-season as the manager of the Chicago Cubs, Lou Piniella is retiring at season's end.

Piniella, Jim Hendry, and Tom Ricketts are scheduled to meet with the press at about 4:15.

More to come later on.

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