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GAME 16 REVIEW
CUBS 1 CARDS 4 W: Sidney Ponson (2-0) L: Glendon Rusch (1-3) S: Jason Isringhausen (5) Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
I have a challenge for Dusty Baker, any other member of Cubs management, God, Deep Blue, or any other reader. Explain to me the strategic merit of the double-switches that occurred in the fifth and sixth innings. For those of you who missed it: With the game tied at one, the Cards loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth with two outs. Pujols is coming up. Dusty Baker brings in Scott Williamson. The pitcher's spot is five batters away in our lineup (Ramirez ended the previous inning.) Baker brings in Neifi Perez to replace Walker at second base, and flips the batting order. Williamson, instead of being due up fifth (the ninth spot in the order) is due up eighth (Walker's spot, the third in the order.) Williamson gives up a base hit to Pujols, giving the cards a 3-1 lead, before getting the third out. The Cubs go three up, three down, in the top of the sixth. Williamson struggles in the bottom of the sixth, getting one out, giving up one run, with a rally continuing. So Baker replaces Williamson with Scott Eyre. He also replaces Matt Murton with Freddy Bynum. Bynum is now hitting third (replacing Williamson, who replaced Walker) while Eyre is hitting seventh (replacing Murton). With the double switch, Eyre goes from being five spots away from hitting, to being nine spots away. Eyre gets the last two outs. When the Cubs bat, they get set down, 1-2-3, again. So again, the spot in the order that the pitcher was double switched out of never came to bat. Murton and Walker are now out of the game that we are losing by three runs- Walker with four offensive half-innings left in the game, Murton with three left to go. In Baker's defense, when he pulled Walker, we were tied, but the Cards had the bases loaded. When Murton is pulled, we're already losing by three. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the only reason to do a double switch when you bring in a new pitcher, is because you want that pitcher to be able to pitch the next inning as well. The switch pushes the pitcher's spot further away from batting, so that you don't have to either pinch-hit for him, or watch him flail away at the bat. So if the pitcher's spot is due up first, second, third, or even fourth, and you're quite certain that you don't want your pitcher to bat, but you DO want him to pitch the next inning, then you do the double switch. Now, I have the advantage of writing this piece after the fact, knowing that neither of these double-switches wound up serving their function, and in fact gave Bynum and Perez ABs that should have gone to Walker and Murton. But for the life of me, I can't understand that first double-switch. Why not just leave Walker in the game? If we rally in the bottom of the inning, and we get to the 9th spot in the order, Baker is then free to pinch-hit with whomever he wants - Barrett, Restovich, Hairston, or Perez - and we bring in a new reliever to a game where we've (likely) drawn closer. If we don't get to the 9th spot in the order, Williamson can pitch the next inning, and Walker can still hit. And it further removes the necessity (which isn't even a necessity, just the option) of making that second double-switch, the following inning. Am I missing something, here? Is it worth removing two of your best offensive players from a game that still has a long way to go, and from a lineup that's missing Derrek Lee, and inserting your two weakest hitters, all in order to be absolutely certain that Williamson and then Eyre could pitch the next inning without maybe having to take his turn in the batting order or be pinch-hit for? I just don't get it. Did it affect the outcome of the game? Probably not. But there has to be some sort of Hippocratic Oath for managers, obligating them to not make moves that are more likely to harm the club than to help it.
GAME SIXTEEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (9-6, 4th, -1.5) AT ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (10-6, 3rd, -1.0) Busch Stadium, 1:15 PM CDT Weather: 77 degrees, Cloudy, Wind 7 mph left to right TV: WGN, DirecTV 735 Radio: WGN, XM 187
Sydney Ponson, RHP 1-0, 3.97 ERA, 11.1 IP 5 K, 1 BB, 2 HRGlendon Rusch, LHP 1-2. 6.60 ERA, 15 IP 11 K, 4 BB, 7 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 2B Aramis Ramirez, 3B *John Mabry, 1B *Jacque Jones, RF Matt Murton, LF Henry Blanco, C *Glendon Rusch, PDavid Eckstein, SS Hector Luna, 2B Albert Pujols, 1B Scott Rolen, 3B *Jim Edmonds, CF Juan Encarnacion, RF Yadier Molina, C So Taguchi, LF Sidney Ponson, P

Cubs vs. Ponson Jacque Jones: 5-26, 192/267/308, 3 BB, 5 K Todd Walker: 6-18, 333/368/389, 1 BB, 1 KCardinals vs. Rusch Albert Pujols: 13-38, 342/419/737, 3 HR, 6 2B Jim Edmonds: 13-49 265/308/327, 3 BB, 12 K Scott Rolen: 8-26, 308/455/577, 2 HR, 6 BB, 7 K Juan Encarnacion: 5-14, 357/438/429, 2 BB, 2 K So Taguchi: 4-18 222/263/222, 1BB, 1 K

Let's just forget about last night's game, all I have to say is that Jacque Jones should probably not be in there versus lefty pitchers, especially those of the quality of Mark Mulder. Granted, options are limited, but Restovich can play right field and wastiing 3-4 at-bats a game doesn't seem like the best use of your talent. Today it's Butterball Rusch versus another out of shape pitcher, Sydney Ponson. If the game gets out of hand, I say they settle the score in a sumo match. Rusch should make all efforts to avoid pitching to Pujols and Rolen today as he has a lot better luck versus Edmonds. GO CUBS!!!
I know it's four hours until gametime, but the last thread was filling up rapidly, so: GAME FIFTEEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (9-5, 2nd, -0.5) AT ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (9-6, 4th, -1.0) Busch Stadium, 7:10 PM CDT Weather: 75 degrees, Wind 8 mph left to right TV: WGN, DirecTV 736 Radio: WGN, XM 187
Mark Mulder, LHP 1-0, 4.05 ERA, 20 IP 10 K, 1 BB, 4 HRJerome Williams, RHP 0-1, 2.45 ERA, 11 IP 5 K, 9 BB, 1 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF Jerry Hairston, Jr., 2B *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Michael Barrett, C *Jacque Jones, RF Matt Murton, LF Ronny Cedeno, SS Jerome Williams, PDavid Eckstein, SS *John Rodriguez, LF Albert Pujols, 1B Scott Rolen, 3B Jim Edmonds, CF Juan Encarnacion, RF Yadier Molina, C #Aaron Miles, 2B *Mark Mulder, P

Cubs vs. Mulder Jacque Jones: 5-15, 333/412/533, 2 BB, 6 K Neifi Perez: 9-25, 360/393/480, 2 BB, 1 KCardinals vs. Williams Albert Pujols: 1-12, 083/083/333, 1 HR, 2 K Jim Edmonds: 1-13, 077/294/077, 4 BB, 4 K Scott Rolen: 0-9, 000/182/000, 1 BB, 3K

Jerome Williams has allowed 18 baserunners in 11 innings, yet he has an ERA under 3.00. How is this possible? Well, seven of the walks came in his first relief appearance and his first start -- he got shelled in the former case and pitched lucky in the latter. I expect his ERA will come up if his walks don't come down, but whether that happens tonight or not who knows? At least, he's handled Pujols, Edmonds & Rolen well in his career. Besides, we aren't paying attention to how well Jerome is pitching -- we're too busy rending our garments over the injury to Derrek Lee. There is no positive way to spin the two-to-three-month loss of the best hitter on the team (and one of the best in all of baseball last year), so I'm holding on to two pieces of informational driftwood to try to survive this baseball shipwreck: 1. Todd Walker and Jerry Hairston should get more at-bats this way. The smartest thing to do is move Walker to first base, and have him play there every day (or, failing that, against every righty), with Hairston becoming the everyday second baseman. The word that Mike Restovich is joining the team makes me fear that's not going to happen, though -- why bring up a guy to play backup outfielder unless you're going to take your current backup outfielder (Mabry) and move him to first base? Mabry has more experience at first than Walker, and he has the advantage of being four inches taller, but he's not going to make us forget Lee's Gold Glove smoothness. Plus, the offensive drop will be more noticeable if Mabry gets Lee's ABs -- in my plan you essentially replace Lee with Hairston, which I think is better than replacing him with Mabry. Playing Mabry at first every day isn't the best thing the Cubs could do, but I certainly think it's better than trying to trade for a first baseman, especially someone like (as has been mentioned in the comments) Doug Mientkiewicz. That would result in a titanic drop-off offensively that wouldn't be made up for on the defensive side, and given that we're likely to see more Neifi now (as I doubt that Dusty will enact part two of my plan and just let Hairston play second every day) the Cubs can't afford to punt offense at two spots in the lineup for two months. 2. Will Carroll says he "fully expects" Lee to beat the timeline for his return and be back in less that two months. Based on what? I don't know, but I'll take it. So now we have to turn our attention to the Cardinals, who will be out for blood after getting swept at Wrigley. Sure would have been nice if Lee and his career 11-15 against Mulder could be in the lineup. But it can't, so let's try not to dwell on that to much and move on as best we can. Besides, how great would it be if the Cubs could march into New Busch and take two out of three from the Cards without Prior, Wood or Lee?
With Derrek Lee expected to be out of action for anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks, the Cubs have apparently selected 27-year old OF Michael Restovich to replace D-Lee on their 25-man roster. Although no official announcement has been made by the Cubs, Restovich was not in the Iowa lineup Thursday night in Albuquerque, and Iowa Cubs broadcaster Dean Ellis with KXNO radio in Des Moines reported tonight during the game that Restovich was no longer with the Iowa club, and that he apparently was set to join the Chicago Cubs in St. Louis. If so, he should arrive in plenty of time for Friday night's game at the new Busch Stadium. A right-handed hitting slugger from Mayo HS in nearby Rochester, Restovich was selected by the Minnnesota Twins in the 2nd round of the 1997 Rule 4 (June) Draft. He turned down a scholarship from Notre Dame to sign with the Twins. He spent seven seasons in the Twins organization, including 61 major league games in the years 2002-04. Baseball America had Restovich rated as the Twins' second-best prospect in 2000 and 2001, and as their third best prospect in both 2002 and 2003. BA also had him rated as the 37th best prospect in all of baseball as recently as 2003. Out of options, Restovich was claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on March 31st of last season, and then was claimed off waivers again five days later by the Colorado Rockies. He was traded to Pittsburgh on May 11th, and spent the rest of the 2005 season with the Pirates. He played LF and RF, and also had 28 PA as a PH, where he went 4-27 (.148) with four singles, one walk, and 14 strikeouts. He was designated for assignnment by the Pirates on November 21st. In 132 MLB games, Restovich has hit .254, with a .333 OBP and .408 slugging %, including 3 HR and 6 RBI. He has 1 + 123 in MLB service time. Restovich signed a minor league contract with the Cubs on January 3rd, and received an invitation to Spring Training as a non-roster player. He had a mediocre Spring Training (he hit .222 and led the team in strikeouts) and was sent to Iowa on March 29th, but he has been on fire his last six games in AAA: .480 (12-25), .536 OBP .760 SLG 1.296 OPS with 1 HR, 7 RBI, 2 2B, 3B, 3 BB, 2 K. Although Restovich played some 1B in Spring Training, it was the first time he had played the position since high school. So expect Todd Walker and John Mabry to get most of the playing time at 1B until Lee returns, although Restovich could get some starts against left-handed pitchers. Restovich could also spell Jacque Jones in RF against a tough LHP. Because he will be out of action for anywhere from 8-12 weeks, it is likely that Derrek Lee will be placed on the 60-day DL, although either Mark Prior or Wade Miller (or Kerry Wood, but he's too close to returning) could be transferred to the 60 DL. Players on the 60-day DL do not count against the 40-man roster. Or the Cubs could recall Brian Dopirak (who is out of action at West Tenn with a broken foot) and then immediately place him on the 60-day DL. The problem with doing that is that Dopirak would immediately begin to accrue MLB service time, and would receive the MLB minimum salary ($327,000) instead of the $60,000-ish salary he is getting now per the "split contract." If Lee is placed on the 60-day DL or Prior or Miller is transferred to the 60-day DL, Lee would be eligible to be reactivated on June 19th, Prior would be eligible to be reactivated on May 26th (he was placed on the 15-day DL effective March 27th, and time spent on the 15-day DL counts toward the 60 days), and Milller would be eligible to be reactivated on May 31st.
If you still hold out hope that today is going to be a good day for you, don't read the rest of this post and stay away from the papers and news for the rest of the day. The Trib is reporting that Derrek Lee could be out 2-3 months. From the Trib:
He suffered a fracture of the distal radial bone and the distal ulna bones while trying to brace himself from Furcal, who was charging towards the bag while beating out a bunt.
WSCR and Comcast Sports have apparently confirmed the story as well. He should be in a cast for 6 weeks, then he'll have 2 weeks in rehab which is the standard rule of thumb for broken bones. There's is a small possibility that the bones will heal faster but don't hold your breath. I'm not even going to bother with potential replacements and how this will affect the Cubs for the time being. It's obviously not good and nobody in baseball that we can get is going to make up the difference. You just gotta hope some guys get hot at the right time and can pick up the slack. I expect Ryan Theriot to get called up as Neifi and Hairston split time at second base. Todd Walker will likely get the bulk of first base duty with the occasional start by John Mabry. As AZ Phil suggested in a previous thread, Michael Barrett should consider picking up a first basemen's glove and taking some grounders starting tomorrow.
This is the most content-free post you will probably ever see on TCR. Derek Lee flew to Chicago for test on his injured wrist after x-rays taken at Dodger Stadium were inconclusive, none of the papers have anything, and Will Carroll came up empty as well. I guess we have to wait and see. To quote David St. Hubbins, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation. I hope at least we'll see Todd Walker playing first and Jerry Hairston playing second for the next few days.
GAME 14 REVIEW
CUBS 5 DODGERS 4 W: Scott Williamson (2-0) L: Danys Baez (0-1) SV: Ryan Dempster (4) Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart| Photos
I made it out to Dodger Stadium once again and scored some nice tickets right behind home plate, second level, prime area for foul balls. (More on that in a minute). The AngelFan Wife and I got a babysitter and went to the game with a pal from work and his gal. He's a moderate Dodger fan, but was more interested in the Cubbies that were on his fantasy team performing well (Barrett & Ramirez). The Dodgers have two video scoreboards at the park, one basically consists of generals stats and what not, the other is the fancier color version with tidbits on the players. Here's what I learned from the Dodger information board: - Michael Barrett's cousin is Scott Fletcher - "O" is for Offense (that was for Olmaedo Saenz) - John Mabry was the Cardinals Rookie of the Year in 1995 - John Mabry is 9 home runs away from 100 (I'm sure the Mabry watch will be up on ESPN in no time) - Jacque Jones attended USC - Ronny Cedeno is the 3rd best hitter in the NL against right handed pitchers - Ronny Cedeno is the 2nd best hitter in the NL at night - Neifi Perez has played 2b, SS, 3B and Catcher in the majors (guess who our new emergency catcher is) Why do I mention all of these factoids? Cause the game isn't worth talking about. The Cubs played poorly and lucked into a victory. The Eyre/Lee bunt fiasco will hopefully turn out to be a whole lot of nothing, but to say the least I'll be on edge until I hear a definitive word (so far X-rays were inconclusive on Lee's wrist). While I'm sure most of you watching the game noticed all the dinks that fell for the Cubs, it was even worse at the ballpark as just about every ball hit by the Cubs had that wobbly wood sound of a ball that clearly missed the sweet spot of the bat. This game was the anthisesis of Monday's game, instead of well-pitched, well-defended, well-executed affair, it was luck and bad defense that got the Cubs win. I did get to witness Cedeno's first two walks of the season, although the first was one of the most extreme unintentional-intentional walks I've ever seen. Marshall was okay, his curveball will certainly be his defining pitch through his career. Batters were bailing at it all day and it appears he can throw it at 2 very different speeds (low 70's and mid 80's). And why Marshall gets pulled after 85 pitches and retiring 10 batters is a bit beyond me. I suppose we can't complain about Baker hurting young arms though. I pretty much missed most of Aardvark's inning as the AngelFan Wife was on a quest for an It's It Ice Cream, which apparently is no longer sold at the ballpark. Considering how cute she looks in a cap & jersey, I'll forgive her. Walker's "I Hope I Catch It" defense worked once, then it cost us a run later in the game, Jacque Jones saved another run on the same play with a good throw to home which pretty much ended up saving us the game. Well, okay, Baez and Repko saved the game for us, but whatever. Oh yeah, the foul ball thing....Bill Mueller, 2nd inning, screaming foul ball straight back just over the screen. Right at me and I cup my hands together for sort of a basket catch. BAMN!, right off the palm of my left hand and 3 rows back. Should of had the right hand over the left and tried to get my body in front of it. Humiliating and made more so by the fact that a buddy from work and the AngelFan Wife were there to witness it. I won't be able to live it down unless I catch the next one and who knows when that will happen. I'm honestly devastated, maybe that's why I'm so disgusted by the game. The Cubs won, makes the off-day more bearable and you need these kinds of win every once in awhile. The Redbirds are up next starting on Friday. Another series victory over them would really get me to start believing. That's unless Derrek Lee's wrist is broken, then I'm going to start believing that we actually may be cursed.
...with the series victory. GAME FOURTEEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (8-5, 2nd, -1.5) AT LOS ANGELES DODGERS (7-8, 3rd, -2.0) Dodger Stadium, 9:10 PM CDT Weather: Clear, 71 degrees, wind out to center at 5 mph TV: CSN, DirecTV 741 Radio: WGN, XM 189
Brad Penny, RHP 2-0, 1.50 ERA, 18 IP 18 K, 1 BB, 2 HRSean Marhall, LHP 1-0, 7.71 ERA, 9 1/3 IP 4 K, 2 BB, 2 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF *Todd Walker, 2B Derrek Lee, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B *John Mabry, LF Jacque Jones, RF Michael Barrett, C Ronny Cedeno, SS *Sean Marshall, P#Rafael Furcal, SS *Kenny Lofton, CF #Jose Cruz, LF Jeff Kent, 2B Olmedo Saenz, 1B Bill Mueller, 3B Sandy Alomar, C , LF Brad Penny, P

Cubs vs. Penny Aramis Ramirez: 6-15, 400/400/467 Juan Pierre: 5-16, 313/421/375, 3 BB, 2 K Todd Walker: 3-20, 150/150/300, 1 HR, 4 K Neifi Perez: 3-18, 167/211/222, 1 BB, 1 K Michael Barrett: 1-16, 063/059/125, 5 K

I mentioned that last night's game had the potential to be "a nice tight game," and both pitchers held up their ends of the bargain. Zambrano pitched out of trouble a bit (walking five and hitting one) but timely defense kept most of those baserunners from crossing the plate. Derek Lowe was just slightly better, blanking the Cubs and getting out of the only jam he found himself in, in the 6th. Tonight's starter, Brad Penny, has looked great so far this season. In his three starts he's truck out 18 and walked only one. He's given up only one earned run in each of his starts. Sean Marshall, on the other hand, has struggled. I've seen a number of articles talking about how well he's pitched, and his poise, and I guess that's true when you look at the fact that he has barely any experiece above A ball, but examined as major league starts, they're not that great -- he's given up nearly a run an inning. On the positive side, he's only walked two batters and he's keeping the ball down. After throwing 65 and 79 pitches in his last two starts, he should be available to be stretched out a bit, possibly up to the 90-100 pitch range.

One more time....

The Cubs make their lone trip of the season to Dodger Stadium next week and I was wondering who might be up for a little venture to Chavez Ravine for the Monday night game, April 17th; 7:10pm PST? The tentative pitching matchup is Greg Maddux versus Brett Tomko. Enjoy a little baseball, beverage and world famous "Dodger Dogs", (apparently world famous for their sucktitude). Email me if you're interested, we'll figure out the ticket situation once we know how many people are going. Those who think it's a good idea to leave before the 9th inning need not apply....

GAME 8 REVIEW
REDS 8 CUBS 3
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart | Photos
W: Eric Milton (2-0) L: Carlos Zambrano (0-1)

The first piece of good news is we don't face the Reds again until the end of May. The second piece of good news is we're off to play the Pirates next and they've struggled mightily out of the gate. The third piece of good news is Matt Murton broke out of his mini-slump with 2 RBI's, 2 Hits and a Home Run. The final piece of good news is I saved a bunch of money on my car insurance.

What I really took from this game was the importance of on-field leadership. Without Henry Blanco catching and Neifi manning the hot corner, we could really see the calming influence they both had on Carlos Zambrano as he really settled down after gettting into some tough jams early. Oh wait, no he didn't, he tried to pick off Eric Milton from first for no apparent good reason and then he tried to pick off Eric Milton later in the game from third base for no apparent good reason. And I believe at one point I actually saw steam coming from his ears. At least Barrett's all well and rested. Hopefully his bat won't cool off with the rest.

What's there to say? The Cubs stunk up the joint today, Baker should of forgotten about getting the scrubs some starts today and put some better bats in the lineup, waiting until we were a bit closer to full strength (or at least until Aramis came back). Walker hits lefties just fine and Milton just fine as well, same goes for Barrett. Off for a nine game road trip from Pittsburgh to LA to St. Louis. Let's get them tomorrow Sean Marshall!!!

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