Two developments on the ownership front:
As reported by Chris de Luca in the Sun-Times and noted by a reader under the previous post, there is z-e-r-o chance that MLB owners will approve beer-drinkin' regular guy/billionaire Mark Cuban as the next owner of the Cubs. According to de Luca, this seems to place "the group headed by John Canning, Jr.—(Commissioner Bud) Selig's personal favorite—back as the frontrunner."
Cubs color man Bob Brenly interviewed for the Brewers' managerial job on Thursday, leading Paul Sullivan to wonder if former Cub and onetime Chicago playboy Mark Grace would replace Brenly in the Cubs' booth, assuming BB lands the Milwaukee job.
According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Brewers GM Doug Melvin will probably limit the number of candidates to three, with Brenly competing for the slot against former Mets manager Willie Randolph and former A's manager Ken Macha. Brenly's appeal vis a vis the other two options includes his having won a World Series with the Diamondbacks and his deep knowledge of the Cubs personnel. Melvin expects to make his selection next week.
Former Cub pitcher Kevin Foster died over the weekend after losing a six-month battle with cancer. He was 39.
With a career ERA in the upper 4's and a middling won-loss record, Foster hardly stands out from the many forgettable Cub pitchers who populated the roster between 1994 and '98. ('"Jim Bullinger,'" anyone? Do I hear a "Willie Banks" or a "Rodney Myers"?)
Foster was different in at least one respect from the others, however. He was a local kid, who attended Evanston High School and grew up a Cubs fan.
|Rich Harden||vs.||Hiroki Kuroda|
|*5-1, 1.77, 89 K, 30 BB, 71 IP||2008||9-10, 3.73, 116 K, 42 BB, 183.1 IP|
|1-2, 6.43, 5 K, 7 BB, 7 IP||Post||(None)|
|*NL stats only|
|LF||Alfonso Soriano||SS||#Rafael Furcal|
|2B||*Mike Fontenot||C||Russell Martin|
|1B||Derrek Lee||LF||Manny Ramirez|
|3B||Aramis Ramirez||RF||Andre Ethier|
|C||Geovany Soto||1B||*James Loney|
|CF||*Jim Edmonds||CF||Matt Kemp|
|RF||Mark DeRosa||2B||*Blake DeWitt|
|SS||Ryan Theriot||3B||Casey Blake|
|P||*Rich Harden||P||Hiroki Kuroda|
Our very own Rob G. will be in the stands at tonight's game. Be sure to look for him on the broadcast.
Thoughts on Hiroki Kuroda from "Blue Notes," the L.A. Times blog about the Dodgers:
...when the Japanese import is on, dude typically gets into a serious,
sometimes unhittable groove. But he's often the Bizarro-version of
that pitcher after the first bit of trouble, more often than not
tossing himself further into trouble than figuring a way out of it.
In two starts against the Cubs this year, Kuroda has pitched 15 1/3 innings and allowed one earned run. In other words, we really haven't come across that "first bit of trouble" part.
|SP||Chad Billingsley||SP||Carlos Zambrano|
|16-10, 3.14, 201 K, 80 BB, 200.2 IP||2008||14-6, 3.91, 130 K, 72 BB, 188.2 IP|
|0-0, 0.00, 3 K, 0 BB, 2 IP||Post||0-1, 4.37, 20 K, 6 BB, 22.2 IP|
|SS||#Rafael Furcal||LF||Alfonso Soriano|
|C||Russell Martin||SS||Ryan Theriot|
|LF||Manny Ramirez||1B||Derrek Lee|
|RF||*Andre Ethier||3B||Aramis Ramirez|
|1B||*James Loney||2B||Mark DeRosa|
|CF||Matt Kemp||CF||*Jim Edmonds|
|2B||*Blake DeWitt||C||Geovany Soto|
|3B||Casey Blake||RF||*Kosuke Fukudome|
|P||Chad Billingsley||P||#Carlos Zambrano|
It has taken a good 21 hours of self pity and a bracing White Sox defeat to clear my head and even let me think about previewing Game Two.
Yes, last night went down harsh, but from reading Rob's post and many of the ensuing comments earlier this afternoon, it is clear that there are still some optimistic souls in Cubdom. All I can say is, God bless you all.
Starters' Records Since 8/1/08
|| No-Hitters Thrown
Billingsley pitched twice against the Cubs this season. On both occasions, he matched up with Ryan Dempster. Once, Billingsley threw well (7 K, 2 ER in 6 IP); the other time, he threw not as well. The Cubs won both contests.
Among Cub hitters, only Jim Edmonds has more than 10 career plate appearances against the 23-year-old Billingsley, though Fukudome, Lee, and DeRosa have all tagged him for homers.
How the Cubs and their NLDS opponents stacked up in a variety of statistical categories. (Team's National League rankings appear in parens; "DER" refers to Defensive Efficiency Ratio and "RZR" refers to Revised Zone Rating. Throughout, * means stats are through Saturday, 9/27. )
|711 (2nd)||OPS vs.
|66% (4th)||SV %
Here's another interesting set of numbers—the performance of the Dodgers offense before and after the acqusition of Manny Ramirez:
|SP||Angel Guzman||SP||*C.C. Sabathia|
|0-0, 7.04, 6 K, 4 BB, 7.2 IP||(NL)
||10-2, 1.78, 121 K, 24 BB, 121.2 IP|
|LF||Alfonso Soirano||CF||Mike Cameron|
|SS||Ryan Theriot||2B||#Ray Durham|
|1B||Derrek Lee||LF||Ryan Braun|
|3B||Aramis Ramirez||1B||*Prince Fielder|
|CF||Reed Johnson||SS||J.J. Hardy|
|RF||*Micah Hoffpauir||RF||Corey Hart|
|2B||Ronny Cedeno||3B||*Craig Counsell|
|C||Henry Blanco||C||Jason Kendall|
|P||Angel Guzman||P||*C.C. Sabathia|
First, Paul Sullivan writes that despite his recent travails (5.40 ERA in September), Jeff Samardzija has made the post-season roster and that Chad Gaudin will likely be a spectator.
As for today's game, Mark DeRosa (calf strain) was hoping to get in a few swings so he
didn't have to go into the playoffs cold. Alas, he is not in the starting
lineup. Geovany Soto (sore hand) is also sitting.
The Brewers begin play tied with the Mutts for the Wild Card, with a one-game tiebreaker tomorrow at Shea in the teams' futures if things don't get settled today. (As I post this, the Marlins and Mets are waiting out a rain delay at Shea.)
"It's not going to matter because, well, it is going to matter but it's not going to matter,"
Translated into English, it means that Lou Piniella decided that Carlos Zambrano would not pitch the first inning or two of today's regular season finale at Milwaukee and Angel Guzman will.
So maybe you and a group of acquaintances divvy up some Cubs season tickets. Now that the boys are going to the playoffs and playing an as-yet-undetermined number of games at Wrigley, what do you do? What else—you sue!
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.