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The Cubs and reliever Michael Wuertz agreed to a one-year deal worth $860,000 today, continuing Hendry's policy of avoiding arbitration. Wuertz, who made $415,000 last year, had submitted a $975,000 figure, with the Cubs offering $750,000.

Regardless of how arbitration might have gone, the Cubs get a premium middle reliever for under a million bucks. Wuertz's ERA+ numbers for the last two years are 174 and 134. As the relevant mlb.com article points out, last year he ranked second in the league in percentage of inherited runners stranded. Finally, Dan Szymborski's "ZiPS" projection system puts Wuertz's 2008 ERA at 3.33, second on the team behind Howry. The awesomeness of Wuertz's contract only escalates when compared against Hendry's pattern of signing veteran middle-relievers to three-year, multi-million dollar contracts.

The last Cubs player to go to arbitration remains Mark Grace in 1993.

Slow news day.

I was reading The Hardball Times today, which eventually led me to this Retrosheet page of all known instances of a major league player batting out of order.

Care to take one guess at the former Cubs jersey-wearer who has been involved in not one, not two, but three instances of batting out of order in his career? (Yes, I'm being a bit legalistic in how I've phrased this...)

May 4, 1980, Dusty Baker hit in Ron Cey's place in the order for the Dodgers, hitting into a force out that also left runners on the corner and the inning still going. Ron Cey was called out, and who came back up to bat? Baker, again. Second time being the charm, he hit a three-run homer.

August 8, 1998, and Giants' manager Dusty Baker makes five (count 'em, five) substitutions in the top of the sixth. Long story short, Rich Aurilia batted out of turn. The Giants weren't the only ones confused - the Braves didn't figure it out, but it didn't matter. They beat the Giants 14-6.

April 16, 2004, One of the more famous Dusty Moments on the Cubs, as Baker thinks he has made a double switch, but fails to inform Mr. Congeniality, C. B. Bucknor. When Ramon Martinez comes up in the pitcher's position and the Reds object, Kent Mercker is called out. Baker leaves the field, but not before throwing his lineup card (hey, it's a bad carpenter who blames his tools), his hat, and a fit.

Like I said, slow news day.

Not as old or celebrated as the Macy's parade, but more entertaining, it's.... it's.... Thanksgiving-Themed Baseball Names! Re-hashbrowning what we came up with, last year, here's your All-Turkey Team.
10-15-07 - Dusty Baker announced as Reds new manager 11-2-07 - Wayne Krivsky trades Phil Dumatrait for World Series MVP Augie Ojeda

0-for-Arizona

Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W - Davis, getting the heck out of Arizona. L - Lilly, 8 hours of sleep. Series stands 2-0 Diamondbacks Things to Take from This Game 1. Body Snatchers Davis pitched like Lilly, and Lilly pitched like Davis. Lilly didn't have command of anything, was continually battling back from behind in the count, while Davis was getting ahead (with some help from the Cubs batters) and racking up a lot of strikeouts. Just pretty clear, pretty early, which pitcher was going to have the easier time of it. 2. Trading Homers in the 2nd Soto gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead on a home run, but Chris Young came back with a bomb of a 3-run home run in the bottom half of the inning. Byrnes also tripled in a run that inning. 3. Augie Ojeda vs. the World. Ojeda is threatening to outhit Soriano, Lee and Ramirez combined. Two more hits, including an RBI single that also took Eyre out of the game with an owwie finger. 4. Need Coffee. I think this game must have set some sort of record for 3-2 counts. Wood finally came in and threw strikes, gets some quick outs. Dempster also pitched a quick inning. But wow, other than that, lots of long at bats and base-runners all night. Not much to analyze with this game. Lilly got hit hard, and while the Cubs had a runner on base every inning, the hitters repeatedly failed to convert them into sustained rallies. But it's a best of five series, not a best of 3, and we have at least one more game to enjoy. The time-for-bed details, below.

What Ifs Box Score, Play-by-Play, Photos W- Webb, well-played playoff baseball, second-guessers L- Marmol, dreams of 9th inning heroics. S - Valverde Series stands at 1-0 D-backs Things to Take from This Game 1. As Good as Advertised Webb and Zambrano were both pleasures to watch in this game. While each one gave up some baserunners, they also both managed to pitch out of modest, recurring trouble with ease. Z, remarkably, had better control than Webb, walking just one to Webb's three. 2. Plenty of chances to Second Guess There are at least three big points in the game where managerial decisions stood out. First, the decision to have Z. swing away with a runner on second and zero out in the fifth. Had he successfully bunted the runner over, Soriano's fly ball to center would have created a run. Second, the decision not to take down Theriot for a pinch-hitter (Ward, I would hope) with the bases loaded in the sixth. Theriot hit a chopper for an infield hit and RBI, who knows what Ward would have done. The most important decision, however, was 3. Pulling Z after 85 pitches Other than a mammoth HR to Drew, Z looked like he was having an easy time dispatching with the D-backs, but he got pulled after 6 innings, with 85 pitches, a walk, a run, and eight K's to his name. The rationale, which certainly is reasonable, being that Z needs to come back on three days rest, you have Marmol available in the bullpen, and Z has had a recent of history of cramps and here we are on a hot Arizona evening. Problem is, however, that.... 4. Marmol Struggles Marmol didn't have control of his breaking stuff, and when he got behind to Reynolds, had to come in with a low fastball, and Reynolds hit it out to left to break the 1-1 tie. He continued to struggle, eventually giving up a sacrifice fly to Conor Jackson. (A fly that featured the strongest throw from Jacque Jones that we've seen in two years.) The D-backs score 2 runs in the inning after Z. leaves, for a 3-1 lead. Lyon and Valverde hold the lead in the 8th and 9th, although Lyon gave up a couple of warning-track shots to Ramirez and Floyd, and Valverde walked Ward to bring Soriano up as the tying run. Soriano finished the game, and an 0-5 night, with a 6-4 forceout. Your we-need-to-win-three-out-of-four details, below.

 

CUBS WIN

 

 

DIVISION

 

Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W- Zambrano (18-13), Cubs Fans Everywhere. Setting up your rotation for the playoffs. L- Arroyo (9-15), for one night, at least, talk of Cubs' history. Magic Number - 0 (Brewers Lose 6-3.) Things to Take from This Game 1. Cubs Clinch the Right Way
We're playing baseball in October, folks. Check out this picture, courtesty of our own "Brick." It's too large to really be done justice inside of a Word Press column.
2. Resting Easy, Early
Soriano led off the game with another solo Home Run. Theriot added a sacrifice fly in the second, and Zambrano looked to be in command of his pitches and his emotions early.
3. Power Game
Besides Soriano, Lee hit a two-run homer in the fifth, and Jones had a blast of an opposite-field, two-run double in the eighth. Really, from the second inning on, you just felt that we had this game in hand. But it was good to see the Cubs keep pouring it on.
4. Great pitching.
Z had no troubles at all with the Reds injury-riddled lineup, and neither did Howry or Dempster. Not a lot of strikeouts tonight (just 5), but really few serious rallies or even hard-hit balls.
your 4 years in waiting details, below.

Flushed by the Fish

Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W - Olsen (10-15) L - Trachsel (7-11), ridiculously high left-field scoreboards that convert homers into doubles. My efforts to will the Cubs to victory by wishful thinking. S- Gregg (31) Magic Number - 2 (Brewers have LOST 9-5) Things to Take from This Game 1. Weak Starts Olsen and Trachsel had quite similar performances - they couldn't finish off hitters with two strikes, struggled early, found something resembling "grooves" for a couple of innings before running into trouble again, and getting run from the game early. Trachsel's splitter actually got a lot of swings and misses, but nothing else was working. 2. Attempted Comeback The Cubs got a big lift in the sixth when Cabrera threw away what should have been an inning ending double play. It led to three runs. 3. Great relief work by Wood, Marlins Kerry Wood inherited a bases loaded, no outs jam from Eyre in the sixth. A strikeout and 5-3 double play later, and we were out of it with no runs scored. He hit 97 on the gun, and looked totally locked in. Provided a big lift to the dugout, but we couldn't translate it into any success against the Marlins bullpen. Pinto in particular looked very vulnerable, coming with two outs after Ramirez had doubled high off the left-field wall. He walked the first two batters faced to load the bases, but then struck out Jones. Dempster pitched a shakey eighth, giving up an insurance run. 4. Middling Infielders Derosa and Theriot went 0-9 with a run scored and ten (TEN!) combined left on base. We left a combined 19 on base - the Marlins left 16. No matter what happens tonight, we're going into game 160 in first place. The still-worrisome details, below.

It Ain't Easy.

Box Score, Play by Play, Photos

W- Willis (10-15), losing quickly, "getting 'em tomorrow." L- Lilly (15-8), wide outside corners, getting ejected for talking to a teammate, the fight against high blood pressure, hypertension, and generalized anxiety disorders. S- Tankersley (1), the last threads of hope for Brewers fans. Cubs Magic Number: 4 
  • Brewers Magic Number: 8
  • Combined Games Left: 10
Things to Take from This Game 1. How did we let this guy beat us? Willis pitched 8 strong innings, and struck Soriano out three times swinging at mid-80s fastballs over the plate. Both pitchers were helped by a generous strike zone, but I still don't quite get how Willis dispatched with us so quickly, inning after inning. Only a long Monroe HR in the 8th kept us from being shutout 2. Some bloops and blasts in the 2nd Lilly didn't look too bad himself, with the big curve seeming to be his best pitch tonight, at sharp-but-not-dominant. He gave up a couple of weak bloopers to Willis and Ramirez, and a couple of shots to Uggla and Hermida, resulting in four runs in the second. Wuertz and Hart both looked quite strong in relief 3. Lack of Right-handed Pop off the Bench With an entirely right-handed lineup in against Willis, our first two hitters off the bench were Cedeno and Kendall. In the 9th, with Murton due to face right-handed Lee Gardner with two outs and representing the tying run, Piniella went to Floyd, which in turn brought in left-handed pitcher Tankersley. Floyd acquitted himself well against the lefty, but his lineout to deep left-center ended the game. 4. Loose Lips In the 9th, Derosa exchanged words with the home plate ump after a strike three call on a pitch that appeared to be well off the outside corner. The same pitch was called a strike on Ramirez, who later in the at bat flew out. On the way back to the dugout, he passed along some thought or another to Murton, within ear-shot of the umpire. Gets ejected. We'll have to hear the full story on this, later... Your not-yet-panicking details, below. (And the moment I type that, Bill Hall hits a three-run HR to make it a 7-1 Brewers lead. Nuts...)
It's time once again to check the email inbox, and answer questions submitted by you, the loyal readers of TCR.
Dear Transmission, I am a former child star who is trying to regain a normal life. At a very young age, I was thrust into the limelight for all to gawk at this gangly, slightly awkward, annoyingly precocious kid. Not unlike Wil Wheaton. Like so many, I quickly flamed out from over-exposure. I ran through a series of talent-managers, each of whom made very questionable decisions on when and how to cast me. I burned out, and have spent the last several years in therapy and seeing one doc after another. I'm back in the business now, and have landed a modest but recurring role back on TV, with room for my character's role to grow. Yet I can't help but feel that the joke is on me, that my appearances are treated as something as a novelty act. Do I have any chance of regaining my early glory and being treated as a serious performer again, or am I doomed to halcyon recollections of glory years long past?

Kid Wonderful

Dear KW,

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