On their regular sports page Thursday, the Wall Street Journal takes a look at some of baseball's arguably "bad ideas." Included is the strategy of having the pitcher bat eighth, which a certain St. Louis Cardinals manager routinely did the past couple years but this year has said he will do more sporadically.
This afternoon at Wrigley, when Rich Harden goes up against former teammate Jason Marquis, Geo Soto will make his first start since last Tuesday in Houston, and while Lou Piniella says Aramis Ramirez's back is getting better, he adds "one more day [of rest] won't do any harm."
As for Milton Bradley, Paul Sullivan reports:
Bradley is still projected back by the weekend,
though Piniella said Bradley told him he's feeling better, "though he
still feels (the groin strain) somewhat."
On the anniversary of Jackie Robinson's Major League debut 62 years ago, Bradley is also the subject of a long piece by Gordon Wittenmyer about the sad history of race-baiting by Cubs fans.
Notes following a successful home opener and heading into a well-deserved off day for the 5-2 Cubs:
-- It was just last September 15th, the day after Carlos Zambrano no-hit the Astros at Miller Park, when Ted Lilly held Houston hitless until the seventh inning before Mark Loretta stroked a clean, line-drive single tp recprd the Astros' only hit of the night.
That evening, Lilly, Jeff Samardzija (remember him?), Carlos Marmol, and Bobby Howry combined for the one-hit victory.
In this afternoon's home opener against the Rockies, Lilly was followed to the mound by Angel Guzman (1/3 IP), Aaron Heilman (1 IP), and Kevin Gregg (1 IP). It's the fourth time in Cub history that at least four pitchers have pooled their efforts to throw a one-hitter.
-- This afternoon's patchwork lineup, necessitated by Milton Bradley's sore groin, Aramis Ramirez's achy back, and Geovany Soto's bum shoulder, accepted nine walks by Colorado pitchers. That's 19 BBs in the last two games and five runs scored on bases-loaded walks.
Of course, scoring on a bases-loaded walk is no way to strike terror into the hearts of the rest of the National League, but on a day as cold and hitter-unfriendly as today was, it's not a bad way to go.
Update: First pitch now set for 2pm.
Highlights, lowlights and other observations from the Cubs' 8-5 win over the Brewers Sunday night in Milwaukee, a victory that leaves the Cubs at 4-2 as they return home for the Wrigley Field opener on Monday afternoon.
"We've Seen This Movie Before" Moment of the Night:
In his first at-bat since beating the Brewers with a dramatic, ninth-inning home run on Saturday, Alfonso Soriano crushed Jeff Suppan's first pitch of the game over the centerfield wall, his fourth HR in the young season.
Play of the Night:
Reed Johnson's leaping catch to rob Prince Fielder of what would have been a game-tying grand slam in the bottom of the fifth. Instead Fielder wound up with a sac fly and a reason to tip his helmet to Reed Johnson.
All I'm going to say about this victory is, Alfonso Soriano reminded us why it's worth having a left fielder who can't actually field, Kosuke Fukudome continues his drive to be christened "Mr. April," and Carlos Marmol, who is officially NOT the Cubs closer, made our opponents' best hitters look helpless in a way that the guy who is our closer never, ever could.
Cubs (2-1; 1st in NL Central) vs. Brewers (1-2; 4th in NL Central) at Miller Park
First meeting in 2009. Cubs won 9 of 16 games between the teams in 2008.
Rich Harden (0-0) vs. Braden Looper (0-0)
Carlos Zambrano (1-0, 1.50) vs. David Bush (0-0, 18.00)
Ryan Dempster (0-0, 3.00) vs. Jeff Suppan (0-1, 13.50)
From coverage of this afternoon's Cubs/Brewers game, Milwaukee's home opener, in Friday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Update: Paul Sullivan reports in the Tribune that Soto underwent an MRI today and has "minor inflammation in the biceps area." He will not be going on the DL.
Soto is likely to sit out the Friday and Saturday games in Milwaukee and "possibly all three depending on how he feels this weekend." Aaron Miles will be the designated emergency catcher behind Koyie Hill while Soto recovers.
W - Ted Lilly (1-0)
L - Brian Moehler (0-1)
In the spirit of Passover, we begin tonight's recap by asking, why is this night different from all other nights?
Tonight the Cubs sent nine men to the plate in each of the first two innings, building a lead so large, it allowed Ted Lilly to throw his own personal game of Home Run Derby and still win his first game of the season.
Details after the jump.
Jake Arrieta gives up first inning run
For the first time in a year, 33 starts.
Old news, sorry if it's 3/44-
J-Hey being classy by repaying an old teammate:
With Paredes moving to 3B, how do you see playing time shaking out between him and Galindo? Do you think Galindo gets starts at 1B? Galindo is more of a prospect than Paniagua, right?
Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.
This kid would be a key piece in a trade for a pitcher, imo.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!