Archive - 2010

July 25th

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.

Carlos Zambrano got into his first game action since his infamous dugout meltdown at U. S. Cellular Field on June 25th, throwing a perfect 1-2-3 second inning (12 pitches - 10 strikes) at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa tonight.

The AZL Cubs lost the game 2-1, as the AZL Royals scored two runs in the top of the 6th off RHP Luis Liria (4 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 6/4 GO/FO, 58 pitches - 37 strikes) to overcome a 1-0 deficit.

box score

Iowa Cubs RHP Jeff Gray (groin strain) got the start for the AZL Cubs, throwing one inning (12 pitches - 9 strikes) in what was his second rehab outing in three days (he threw an inning for the AZL Cubs this past Saturday night also). Gray struck out Cameron Connor (swinging) to lead-off the game, before surrendering a one-out single to Daniel Mateo. Gray then got out of the inning when Michael Antonio grounded into a room-service 6-4-3 DP. Gray has been on the I-Cubs DL since May 31st, and looks to be about ready to return to Des Moines.

There wasn't much Cubs offense tonight, as Royals pitchers limited the Cubs to just one run on four hits, retiring 10 of the last 11 Cub hitters. The Cubs scored their lone run in the bottom of the 4th when Albert Hernandez and Ryan Cuneo singled, advanced a base a piece on a well-executed double-steal, before Hernandez scored on a WP.

Here is Zambrano's inning, pitch-by-pitch:

July 19th

According to the Playoff Odds Report at Baseball Prospectus, your Chicago Cubs enter play tonight with a .66% chance of reaching the post-season. Yes, point-six-six percent, as in 66 percent of 1 percent. Pretty sad, huh?

The Astros, however, come into the game with a .00075% chance of reaching the playoffs, so by BP's figuring, the Cubs are about 866 times more likely to get to the post-season than are the Astros.

Feeling better now about 2010?

The Astros lead the season series, 4 victories to 2.

Astros lineup v. Carlos Silva (9-3, 3.45; 2-0, 3.12 all-time v. Astros)
Bourn 8, Sanchez 6, Berkman 3, Pence 9, C. Lee 7, Keppinger 4, C. Johnson 5, J. Castro 2, Rodriguez 1

Cubs lineup v. Wandy Rodriguez (6-11, 4.97; 4-4, 3.74 all-time v. Cubs)
Colvin 9, Castro 6, Lee 3, Ramirez 5, Byrd 8, Soriano 7, Soto 2, Baker 4, Silva 1

"It's just disappointing, I guess, to think you have a team where everybody in here thinks you can still do it and you can't. You'll never know what could have happened."

So said White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura to Phil Rogers of the Tribune on August 1, 1997, the day after Ventura's bosses completed the so-called "White Flag Trade," in which the Sox shipped three of Ventura's veteran teammates to San Francisco for six minor leaguers, all while Ventura's team—52-53 at the time—sat just 3 1/2 games behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians.

"This team had a chance, and it didn't seize it. It was hard to look at this team and feel very confident. I wasn't interested in finishing second in a poker hand."

July 18th

Deep Threat beat Rich Harden Friday night, a guy he relieved effectively a few times in late 2008 when both were better pitchers than either of them has been in 2010...Brad Snyder mashed TWO three-run homers last night as the I-Cubs won again to preserve their one-game lead in a division where all four teams are separated by a mere one and a half games. If the Iowa record could be promoted to Chicago the Cubs would find themselves a scant half game behind the Reds...let's see, there was one other thing - oh yeah, Zambozo's coming to town on Tuesday and Wednesday on a rehab assignment before assuming his new duties as the Cubs' anger manager. I suppose it's too much to ask that the tranquilizer darts wear off while he's back in town for the first time since playing here on his way up as an allegedly teenaged man-child, but I'll try to drop in just in case.

July 17th

With one month left until the deadline to sign players selected in last month's 2010 Rule 4 Draft, here are the draft picks and Non-Drafted Free-Agents (NDFA) who have been signed by the Cubs, and those who remain unsigned.

So far, the Cubs have signed 23 of their 50 draft picks, plus three NDFA. The Cubs typically sign about 30 of their 50 picks, so expect the Cubs to sign maybe another seven players before the deadline.

In some cases, the Cubs are scouting draft picks who are playing in summer collegiate "wood bat" leagues or with high school all-star squads to determine if the player is worth what the player is asking. In other cases, the Cubs may be waiting to sign a player to an "over-slot" bonus until closer to the deadline so as to not have too much of a negative impact on other clubs who are still negotiating with players selected in that same round.

Generally speaking, players selected on the 3rd day of the draft (round 31 and below) are either "fall-back" options in case players selected in higher rounds are not signed, or "long-shots" with low market value, or players who are thought to be virtually unsignable due to a solid college commitment.

NOTE: The 8/15 deadline does not apply to college seniors selected in last month's draft, but the Cubs have already signed all of the college seniors they drafted.

1. HAYDEN SIMPSON, RHP (Southern Arkansas) – at AZL Cubs (DL - illness)
4. HUNTER ACKERMAN, LHP (Louisburg JC) – at AZL Cubs
5. MATT SZCZUR, OF (Villanova) – at BOISE
10. AARON KURCZ, RHP (College of Southern Nevada) – at BOISE
11. ERIC JOKISCH, LHP (Northwestern) – at BOISE
12. AUSTIN REED, RHP (Rancho Cucamonga HS – Rancho Cucamonga, CA) – at AZL Cubs
13. PIERRE LePAGE, 2B (Connecticut) – at BOISE
14. COLIN RICHARDSON, RHP (Winter Haven HS – Winter Haven, FL) – at AZL Cubs
15. ELLIOT SOTO, SS (Creighton) – at BOISE
16. RYAN HARTMAN, RHP (Mt. Zion HS - Mt. Zion, IL) – at AZL Cubs (DL – unknown)
20. RYAN CUNEO, 1B (Delaware) – at AZL Cubs
22. JEFF VIGURS, C (Bryant U.) – at BOISE
23. MATT LOOSEN, RHP (Jacksonville U.) – at BOISE
24. DUSTIN GEIGER, 3B (Merritt Island HS - Brevard County, FL) – at AZL Cubs
25. ERIC RICE, RHP (Palm Beach State CC) – at AZL Cubs
28. JOE ZELLER, RHP (The Master’s College) – at AZL Cubs
32. BRENT EBINGER, LHP (Lambuth U.) – at BOISE
34. DUSTIN HARRINGTON, INF (East Carolina) – at AZL Cubs
37. CHAD NOBLE, C (Northwestern) – at AZL Cubs

DOUG CHERRY, 2B (U. of Washington) - at AZL Cubs
JAKE McALOOSE, 3B (Old Dominion) - at AZL Cubs


2. REGGIE GOLDEN, RF (Wetumpka HS – Wetumpka, AL) – will attend U. of Alabama if he does not sign
NOTE: Cubs will receive 2011 2nd round pick one slot lower than where they selected in 2nd round in 2010 if Golden does not sign
6. IVAN DeJESUS, CF (Cupeyville School – San Juan, PR) – will attend UAB if he does not sign
7. BEN WELLS, RHP (Bryant HS – Bryant, AR) – will attend U. of Arkansas if he does not sign
9. KEVIN RHODERICK, RHP (Oregon State)
17. STEVEN BROOKS, CF (Wake Forest)
21. CODY COX, RHP (Grassfield HS – Chesapeake, VA) – will attend Old Dominion if he does not sign
26. DANNY MUNO, SS (Fresno State)
27. BRYAN HARPER, LHP (College of Southern Nevada) – will transfer to U. of South Carolina if he does not sign
29. CASEY HARMAN, LHP (Clemson)
30. KARSTEN STRIEBY, 1B (Arizona Western JC)
31. BENITO SANTIAGO, Jr, 1B (Lon Morris JC)
33. MATT STITES, RHP (Jefferson CC) – will transfer to U. of Missouri if he does not sign
35. CHRIS ANDERSON, RHP (Centennial HS – Blaine, MN) – will attend Jacksonville U. if he does not sign
36. TYLER BREMER, RHP (Yavapai JC) – will transfer to Baylor if he does not sign
39. CASEY LUCCHESE, RHP (College of Charleston)
40. BRIAN SMITH, LHP (St. Mary’s Catholic SS – Pickering, ON) – will attend Volunteer State CC if he does not sign
42. TREY NIELSEN, RHP (Skyline HS – Salt Lake City, UT) – will attend U. of Utah if he does not sign
43. DANNY WINKLER, RHP (Parkland JC) – will transfer to Central Florida if he does not sign
44. JAKE ROGERS, 1B (St. Petersburg CC)
45. DEVON AUSTIN, C (Couer D’Alene HS – Couer D’Alene, ID) – will attend New Mexico State if he does not sign
46. JERAD EICKHOFF, RHP (Olney Central CC)
47. CLAYTON CRUM, RHP (Klein HS – Harris County, TX) – will attend Ohio State if he does not sign
48. ERIC PAULSON, 3B (Fremd HS – Palatine, IL) – will attend Bradley U. if he does not sign
49. BRYCE SHAFER, RHP (Valparaiso)
50. ERIC JAGIELO, SS (Downers Grove North HS – Downers Grove, IL) – will attend Notre Dame if he does not sign


July 15th


Phillies (47-41) @ Cubs (40-50)

Phillies lineup v. Ted Lilly (3-8, 4.08; 1-4, 6.43 all-time v. Phillies)
Rollins 6, Victorino 8, Werth 9, Howard 3, Francisco 7, Ransom 5, Ruiz 2, Valdez 4, Blanton 1

Cubs lineup v. Joe Blanton (3-5, 6.41; 0-0, 2.75 all-time v. Cubs)
Theriot 4, Colvin 9, Lee 3, Ramirez 5, Byrd 8, Soriano 7, Castro 6, Soto 2, Lilly 1


— According to Bruce Levine, Carlos Zambrano had a 25-pitch throwing session in Mesa, following the completion of his anger-management counseling. Zambrano and the Cubs are supposed to decide next week where Zambrano will be headed for his rehab stint.

— Paul Sullivan wrote that Jim Hendry and Ted Lilly got together before last night's game to discuss Lilly's future. Lilly, who will start this afternoon's game against the Phillies' Joe Blanton, was awful in his last two starts before the break, against the Reds and Dodgers—5 homers, 18 hits and 14 ER allowed in just 10 1/3 innings.

July 14th

Sergio Burruel smacked a bases-loaded triple to put the Cubs on the board, and Blair Springfield reached base four times on two singles, a double, and a walk, drove-in two runs, and scored two more, leading the AZL Cubs to a 10-5 victory over the AZL Rangers in Arizona League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa tonight.

July 13th

Xavier Batista rapped out three singles and an RBI double and scored four runs, and his teammates took advantage of six errors, as the AZL Cubs defeated the AZL Dodgers 11-5 in Arizona League action at HoHoKam Park in Mesa tonight.


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