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If you purchased tickets for any of next week's Cubs/Giants games so your kids could one day say they saw Randy Winn or Mark Sweeney playing leftfield, you may be screwed. Per the Commissioner by way of Phil Rogers in today's Tribune:
When Aaron was chasing Babe Ruth's record of 714, then-Commissioner Bowie Kuhn ordered the Atlanta Braves to play Aaron during a series in Cincinnati rather than hold him out so he could hit the record-breaker at home. Selig seems set to follow that precedent if the San Francisco Giants should sit Bonds during their upcoming trip to Chicago and Milwaukee. "Clubs are in pennant races now," Selig said. "I would hope that would be the overriding issue and factor. You want to try to win every game and play your best team. … I hope everybody uses good judgment. I believe they will."
In Tuesday night's 78th All-Star Game, the American League beat the National League 5-4, the tenth consecutive ASG victory for the AL. The Cubs' Alfonso Soriano brought the NL to within a run with a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, but after J.J. Hardy, Derrek Lee, and Orlando Hudson walked to load the bases, the Angels' Frankie Rodriguez retired Aaron Rowand to secure the win. All in all, the Cubs acquitted themselves quite nicely. In addition to his ninth inning walk, Lee had a single and a stolen base. Soriano went 1-for-3. Total Cub production for the night: 2-for-5 with 2 RBI, a walk, a run scored, and a stolen base. The National League clearly owes the Cubs a debt of gratitude for the effort. Maybe they will grant the Cubs an automatic berth in the post-season. That would be nice. Update: Prince Albert is mad at Tony LaRussa for leaving him on the bench while Rowand flew out to end the game. Considering that "this game counts," it did seem like an odd decision.
The bottom three hitters in the Orioles lineup for tonight's game at U.S. Cellular Field were Freddie Bynum, Paul Bako, and Corey Patterson. BB&P went a combined 3-for-13 with four strikeouts. Still, the trio collected a pair of walks and scored three runs between them, and Bynum, who had two of the ex-Cubs' safeties, also smacked a triple. Bynum (4th) and Patterson (16th) stole bases as well. The fact that these three have landed on the O's roster at the same time and in their starting lineup ON THE SAME NIGHT says a lot about the state of the Baltimore American League Ballclub and the job in front of Andy MacPhail. It also says something about the state of the Chicago White Sox, who the Orioles hammered tonight, 9-6.
A little something to break up the afternoon before debating how to attack former, almost-Cub Jason Simontacchi... The following is from the Milwaukee Journal's game story by Tom Haudricourt. See if you can decipher it. I cannot.
The Brewers hit the official halfway mark of the season with a 47-34 record, matching the best in franchise history (1979). With only three games left against Milwaukee (Aug. 28-30 at Wrigley), the Cubs will need help to make a serious run at the Brewers, much less any other NL club with a notion of playing serious baseball at some point. (Emphasis added)
Obviously, the Cubs will need outside help to make up the 6.5 game deficit. But what's with the rest of that passage? Doesn't it come off like a slam? Those nice folks up north don't talk they?
Recently TCR had the chance to review a DVD set commemorating great Cubs games since 1984. It seemed like something worth writing about on an off day. We’ve been looking for new fodder anyway—it gets SO monotonous covering a team that always wins. I remember the first time I came across ESPN Classic. I was clicking through the channels in a hotel room when I discovered it, and the thought that a whole cable channel could devote itself to showing historically significant games much as they were originally broadcast seemed too good to be true. After a few minutes, however, the novelty of seeing Willie Stargell and Steve Blass in a 1971 World Series game called by Curt Gowdy was outweighed by the tedium of waiting to see the game’s signature moment. In short order, I was back to grazing the cablescape in search of a Shannon Tweed movie on Cinemax. So it is with a handsomely packaged set of DVDs awkwardly entitled, “Chicago Cubs Legends Great Games Collector’s Edition” (CCLGGCE for short). The eight-disc collection was produced by A&E Home Video and Major League Baseball, and each disc presents one Cubs game from the past 23 years in its commercial-free entirety, some games more truly significant than others.
Road to Wrigley recaps the best thing to happen to the Chicago Cubs organization on Thursday.
Game Chat Ted Lilly (5-4, 3.69) vs. Vicente Padilla (3-8, 6.57) Longtime American Leaguer Lilly is 4-4 lifetime against the Rangers, 1-1 last year as a Blue Jay. Padilla, the former Phillie, is 3-4, 4.40 lifetime against the Cubs, though no current Cub hitter has done much against him (D-Lee, 4-for-20; DeRosa, 3-for-16). Beginning with Tuesday night's series opener, 20 of the Cubs' next 26 games were/are against teams with sub-.500 records. Hard to slice it any other way--it's a drag to be coming into this game hoping to merely take two of three instead of trying to complete a sweep. Plus it was hell last night having to watch all of those clips of Good Sammy at the post-game press conference, spreading happiness and light.
(Quick aside before I get to the Game Thread: The Barrett-inspired post below triggered almost 300 comments! Just wait until we fall out of the race and trade Zambrano to the Mets. We'll blow the MVN server all to hell!) Game Chat Jason Marquis (5-3, 3.14) vs. Kameron Loe (2-6, 6.56) It was a good news/bad news day for Michael Barrett. Good news: Barrett was traded to a first-place team in a desirable city with heavenly weather. Bad news: Barrett won’t get to hit against the Rangers’ Loe, he of the 838 OPS Against. Loe was sent to AAA Oklahoma City in early June after a start against the Tigers in which he allowed nine runs over just 2 2/3 innings. He returned to the bigs last Thursday, throwing eight shutout innings against the Pirates (which probably says more about the difference between the Tigers and the Pirates than about what Loe learned at Oklahoma City). Marquis is 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA in his last seven starts and hasn’t won a game since May 9th. On the other hand, nobody’s talking about inserting an arthroscope in his shoulder.
Buster Olney of ESPN is reporting that the Cubs have traded catcher Michael Barrett to the Padres in exchange for catcher Rob Bowen, a minor league pitcher and cash. Steve Stone, appearing on the Mike North Show (WSCR Radio in Chicago), at 9:00 a.m. local time, confirmed that Barrett was being traded, saying he (Stone) had spoken to a friend who had gotten off the phone with Barrett just minutes before. Stone also said that a source told him the Cubs had become "frustrated" with Barrett's inability to improve his defense over the past couple weeks, which led Stone to infer that the team was pursuing a deal. Stone pointed out that Jim Hendry avidly pursued Barrett during the catcher's years with the Expos and that Cubs player personnel exec Gary Hughes was also a huge Barrett supporter, having drafted him when Hughes was employed in Montreal. Mike North further reported that according to rumors that WSCR was hearing, the Cubs would be receiving Bowen and set-up man Scott Linebrink in return (different than what Olney's sources told him). Obviously, acquiring Linebrink in the swap would make the deal much more attractive from the Cubs' point of view. UPDATE (Rob G.): Olney got it right and the prospect is 19 yr old outfielder Kyler Burke, who you can read about over at "Road to Wrigley". As for our new catcher, Rob Bowen, a few scouting reports, the first from Sportsnet:
Assets: A switch-hitting catcher who excels from the left side, showing decent power. He's an above-average defensive catcher, able to block and throw very well. Flaws: He's a weak hitter from the right side and generally lacks discipline at the plate. Career potential: Good backup catcher who can be a No. 1 if needed.
And a 2004 scouting report from Baseball America I pulled off a message board:
He is solid defensively and is very agile behind the plate. He has a plus arm and has a quick release. He is also very adept at blocking balls in the dirt. Offensively, he has natural loft in his swing, which should lead to power potential. He is a switch hitter, but scouts like him better from the left side.
Essentially the Cubs are taking another shot at a raw player on the right side of 30. His caught stealing rates are pretty bad over the last few years but those can depend a lot on your pitching staff. Offensively, at least he can take a walk. At worst, we've got a much better #2 catcher as Henry Blanco's career looks in jeopardy. At best, Bowen finds his groove and we've got a relatively cheap new #1 catcher for the next three years.
(Sorry--this was to have gone up 90 minutes ago. Pretend it's then.) Game chat Sean Marshall (3-2, 2.12) v. Robinson Tejeda (5-7, 6.49) Lou’s Fight Club resumes interleague play Tuesday night with the first of three games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, formerly known as Ameriquest Field, formerly formerly known as the Ballpark At Arlington. A couple things about the place haven’t changed over the years. It’s hot. And lots of runs are scored there. Rightfield and the right-centerfield alley are especially home run-friendly territory. Marshall, who beat the Mariners for his third straight win last Wednesday and has held opposing hitters to a .216 AVG this season, has never pitched against the Rangers. Tejeda, meanwhile, has one career start against the Cubs, back in ’05 when he was a Phillie (6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, no decision). Other notes: Rangers SS Michael Young has the highest batting average in the history of interleague play, .348 (min. 300 PA). Also, DH/RF Sammy Sosa has mashed lefties this year--.347 AVG with 17 RBI in just 49 AB, 1.092 OPS. Sosa, you may recall, used to play for the White Sox.


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