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By all accounts, Craig Monroe was having an off-season with the Tigers, who asked Monroe to turn in his uniform and his pass to the players' parking lot last Friday, when he was designated for assignment. Here's what Rotoworld had to say at the time of the move:
The Tigers are cutting a guy with 59 homers and 236 RBI since the start of 2005. He's even a pretty good defender in a corner outfield spot. The big negative is that he carries poor OBPs even when he's swinging well. Still, there are more than a few teams that would like to have him around and some would probably even play him regularly. Expect him to be traded before he can become a free agent.
So how far off was Monroe with Detroit this year?
In light of the grotesquely ugly 8-3 loss that dropped their heroes behind the Cubs, Milwaukee fans are trying on second place...and the folks don't seem to like the way it looks on them. Fan comments from tonight's Milwaukee Journal Brewers Blog... “Something needs to change.” “…the manger has lost this team, they have no energy…Yost needs to be gone, the sooner the better!!” “(Yost) doesn’t know how to keep a team fresh.” “Other teams seem to have a book on the Brewers and know how to play them every day.” “The team seems to lack a leader.” “…this is quickly turning into a ‘typical Brewers season.’ Is .500 even a reality at this point?”
It pains me to include the St. Louis Ankiels in this table, but with Tony's Boys just three games behind the Cubs in the loss column, include them we must.
  Brewers Cubs Cards
Record 62-56 60-57 55-60
Pyth Record 59-59 62-55 50-65
Games Left 44 45 47
Home 22 23 24
Away 22 22 23
vs. Other Two 9 11 14
Over Last 75 36-39 40-35 39-36
Over Last 50 24-26 29-21 26-24
Over Last 25 9-16 12-13 13-12
Win Division* 53.7% 42.5% 3.5%
Win Wild Card* 2.6% 3.0% .2%
*From the Playoff Odds Report at Baseball Prospectus (subscription required), which involves running one million computer simulations of the rest of the season.
Looks like what the Chicago Cubs have done for pitching injuries (see Exhibits A and B), the St. Louis Cardinals continue to do for substance abuse (see Exhibits A, B, and C). But Rick Ankiel did hit a home run.
It was this bad: The Cubs just scored 5 runs in 3 games (plus an extra inning) against a team that had yielded 67 runs in its previous 7 games. The Cubs hit one home run in three games against a pitching staff that shared the NL lead with the Phillies in most homers yielded per game. The Cubs went 2-for-34 with men in scoring position, both of the hits coming in the 8th inning of the series finale, long after the game and the Houston sweep had ceased to be in doubt. Ironically, the Cubs have been at or near the top of NL in batting with RISP for much of the season. The Cubs still trail the Milwaukee Brewers, a team that was, itself, outscored in the past three days, 36-10; a team that has lost eight of its last nine road games and since its last visit to Wrigley Field has gone 17-21. The Cubs are about to play four road games against a talented young team after being embarrassed by a very poor one. Bad. Very bad. Side note: Today, the Hardball Times chronicled the pitch-by-pitch batting tendencies of 32 top minor league hitting prospects. Among those listed, Felix Pie swung at more first pitches than all but three. As we were reminded tonight, this skill has made the trip with Felix from Iowa.
Game Chat Cole Hamels vs. Ted Lilly Lineups:
Victorino RF Soriano LF
Iguchi 2B Theriot SS
Rollins SS Lee 1B
Howard 1B Ramirez 3B
Rowand CF DeRosa 2B
Burrell LF Murton RF
Helms 3B Pagan CF
Ruiz C Kendall C
Hamels P Lilly P
Cubnut addendum... New Phillie: Former Cub farmhand Kyle Lohse, acquired today by the Phils from Cincinnati in exchange for minor league lefthander Matt Maloney. Lohse is just 6-12, 4.58 this season, but he threw what was arguably his best game of the season and one of the finest in his career back on April 15th against the Cubs. Lohse tossed eight innings of four-hit, shutout ball with 12 strikeouts in a game the Reds would win 1-0, though Lilly, Wuertz, and Dempster combined to two-hit the visitors. The memory of how Lohse dominated the Cubs that day gives me the willies, so, speaking for myself, I'd just as soon see the guy make his Philadelphia debut against somebody else.
The Cubs—now just a half-game behind the flailing Brewers—open a seven-game homestand Monday night with a four-game series against the Phillies, followed by a three-game set with the Mets. The Brewers will begin a six-game homestand against the same two clubs in reverse order. However, since they don’t open against the Metropolitans until Tuesday night, the Brewers will have no direct control over whether or not they go to bed Monday night in sole possession of first place in the NL Central. One of baseball’s enduring clichés is the one that says a victory at the beginning of the season is worth just as much as one in the final days of a pennant race. Is it the same with defeats?
While the Cubs were busy dumping the Cardinals Tuesday night, Kerry Wood was earning a victory for the Class ‘A’ Peoria Chiefs over the Fort Wayne Wizards. Woody entered the game in the 5th inning with the Chiefs already ahead 4-0. He threw 12 pitches, recording two ground outs and a fly out while walking one. According to cubs.com, Wood's pitches were clocked between 91 and 94 mph. Wood is slated to pitch back-to-back games this Thursday and Friday, when the Chiefs host the Dayton Dragons. Cubs GM Jim Hendry is scheduled to attend Friday night’s game. In five minor league outings this year spanning five innings, Wood has allowed one earned run. striking out five and walking two. He has been touched for four hits.
How else to describe scoring nine runs in the first five innings on six singles and a double? (Obviously seven Giant walks to that point contributed.) Or the Cubs scoring 12 runs without Ramirez or Lee in the lineup and with Soriano only contributing a walk. Or Carlos Zambrano batting for himself in the last of the 5th, then not taking the mound in the 6th, departing with a 2-hit shutout after throwing only 80 pitches. (The long Cub fifth inning would seem to be the reason.) Or Koyie Hill collecting 5 RBI, all with two outs. (He must REALLY be ticked off about that Jason Kendall trade.) Or Jacque Jones delivering a two-out hit producing two runs; that’s two RBI for Jacque Jones, not just in the same week, BUT IN THE SAME AT-BAT! Or Cub hitters standing still for 10 unintentional walks. Or a wholly bizarre Cubs/Giants game taking place and Barry Bonds not having anything whatsoever to do with it. Weird.
The Cubs’ flashy new lefty-bashing lineup—with Ryan Theriot hitting leadoff and Alfonso Soriano hitting fifth--claimed its first victim Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field, as the red-hot home team recovered from a 5-0 second-inning deficit to beat the Astros, 7-6. With a sweep of the weekend series--the Cubs' first Wrigley Field sweep of the Astros since 1984--the team is now 47-43, 3 1/2 in back of the Brewers, who beat the Rockies at home on Sunday. Angel Pagan and Derrek Lee keyed a six-run Cub rally against Houston southpaw, Wandy Rodriguez, in the bottom of the second with two- and three-run homers respectively. Lee’s home run was his first since June 3rd. Houston tied the game in the top of the third at 6-6. Then, one inning later, Ryan Theriot connected for his second home run of the year to put the Cubs ahead for good. Jason Marquis, who gave up six earned runs, eight hits and three walks in just four innings, was as shaky as the Cub bullpen was effective. Eyre, Marmol, Ohman, Wuertz and Howry combined for five shutout innings, allowing three walks and three hits. Wuertz was credited with the win; Howry, with his fifth save. Barry and the Bondettes are next.

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