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GAME 122 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (59-62) @ COLORADO ROCKIES (45-76) COORS FIELD, 4:05 pm CDT, TV: CSN, Fox Sports Rocky Mountain
Byung-Hyun Kim, RHP
3-9, 5.33 ERA
82/50 K/BB, 10 HR in 103.0 IP
Mark Prior, RHP
8-4, 3.70 ERA
130/39 K/BB, 20 HR in 119.1 IP
LF *Matt Lawton 2B Luis Gonzalez
2B *Todd Walker RF *Jorge Piedra
1B Derrek Lee LF Matt Holliday
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Todd Helton
RF *Jeromy Burnitz 3B Garrett Atkins
SS #Neifi Perez CF *Larry Bigbie
CF *Corey Patterson C Danny Ardoin
C Henry Blanco SS *Omar Quintanilla
P Mark Prior P Byung-Hun Kim
Games at Coors Field always make me think of video game baseball. It seems playing here is like playing one of EA's video games on the Rookie Level, where you could hit a HR pretty much anytime you needed it. Just push up on the joystick and swing, Voila, 3 run blast! To keep the optimism going around here, I took a look at the Cubs upcoming schedule. Here's a quick breakdwon:
No shocker here, Jerry Hairston was activated from the DL and Matt Murton was sent down to Iowa. Always good to know that it doesn't matter how well you play, just how long you've been in the league. Wonderful message to send to the prospects in the system!
I don't like to give credence to rumors by putting them on the site, but since this one is pretty pervasive I'll make an exception: Roger Clemens. I don't believe it, and the people I asked who know about these sorts of things don't believe it. Of course, that doesn't mean it isn't going to get talked about, or that people aren't going to jump to their own conclusions. One person said to me yesterday that Clemens "fits the profile" of the kind of person who uses PEDs. Does he? How many older power pitchers have tested positive? None. What he fits is the stereotype of the kind of player people think would use. Couple that with the fact that he's a guy that lots of people love to hate and you've got a guy who's being put on trial in the court of public opinion, a court where "innocent is proven guilty" is ignored in favor of the much lower standard of "I think he did it, therefore he must have." This kind of crap really pisses me off. One unfortunate side effect of the players who have tested positive is that every player who fits the stereotype gets smeared as a possible user; pretty much any older player with power or a guy who showed up at camp lighter than he used to be gets saddled with the "cheater" label. The way people take as given that these guys, or any number of other players, are using steroids disgusts me. For many people, fans, bloggers, and "professional writers" alike, one mention of steroids is the only opening needed for the worst traits of their humanity to come out. It always amazes me how people can state as fact that so-and-so is a steroid user, often weaving elaborate conspiracy theories to deflect attention from the fact that there's no actual evidence. What proof is offered? None. It's simply a situation where innuendo, personal agenda, and a desire to be a part of the conversation add up to libel. Yes, libel. Look it up. I didn't want to get off on a rant here, since I've pretty much stayed out of the steroid discussion over the last few years because I don't have anything constructive to add to it, but I guess I couldn't help myself. I think this latest round of rumors is witch-hunting at its worst. I don't think Major League Baseball is going to announce anytime soon that Roger Clemens has failed a drug test, and I don't think it's because there's some sort of baseball-wide conspiracy theory protecting him. And I'm not interested in getting into the "well, if he does test positive, what does it mean for his legacy/the Hall of Fame/the future of the game" BS. If a positive test result is announced, then we'll talk. Until then, I'm not going to speculate and I wish other people would follow suit. I know that's a futile wish, but a guy can dream, can't he?
It's a day off for the Cubs, so it's basically a day off for the Cub Reporter writers. There are still things to talk about though, like: * Who will get sent down when Jerry Hairston is activated tomorrow? Is it the end of Matt Murton's stay in the bigs? It doesn't seem likely that the Cubs will go to 11 pitchers on their way into Coors Field. * There's a little article on Adam Greenberg on MinorLeagueBaseball.com. He still hasn't recovered from his beaning, which happened over a month ago. At this point, I imagine the Cubs will wait until after 9/1 to bring him back. They are going to bring him back to the bigs, right? [UPDATE 8/19:] One of the pics on Cubs.com this morning, to go along with this article, is a picture of Greenberg being helped off the field. He looks like a guy who just got hit in the head, but I bet he's not too happy with that picture geting a wide release. Poor kid. * Who else will get called up for September? There's been quite a bit of discussion about it in the comments, and plenty of people think Jermaine van Buren should get a look, but the fact that he's not on the 40-man is going to make it more difficult. Not that there aren't people on the 40 who could be cut to make room for him (I'm looking at you, John Koronka), but the Cubs might be reluctant to DFA someone, even a meatball like Koronka, just to get JvB a brief taste of the bigs. * Much of the TCR staff is on vacation or business trips or otherwise unavailable over the next few weeks, so we're putting out a call for guest writers. If you have something you'd like to write about, drop me a line and let's talk about it.
GAME 121 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (58-62) @ HOUSTON ASTROS (64-55) MINUTE MAID PARK, 6:05 pm CDT, TV: ESPN
Roy Oswalt, RHP
14-9, 2.57 ERA
1123/34 K/BB, 12 HR in 178.2 IP
Carlos Zambrano, RHP
9-9, 4.54 ERA
96/26 K/BB, 21 HR in 156.2 IP
LF *Matt Lawton CF Wily Taveras
2B *Todd Walker 2B Craig Biggio
1B Derrek Lee LF #Lance Berkman
3B Aramis Ramirez 3B Morgan Ensberg
SS Nomar Garciaparra 1B *Mike Lamb
CF *Corey Patterson RF *Orlando Palmeiro
RF *Jeromy Burnitz SS Adam Everett
C Michael Barrett C Brad Ausmus
P #Carlos Zambrano P Roy Oswalt
Man, I like typing that # before Big Z's name. How silly is it that he switch-hits? I think it's one of the coolest things going. I'm happy to see that the lineup seems to be stabilizing over the last week or so -- we have a Lawton/Murton platoon in left, Blanco catches Maddux and Prior, and the 3-4-5 is Lee-Ramirez-Nomar. Pretty much the way it should be. PS -- Davey Johnson is managing again, and managing a team of youngsters to boot. Just sayin'.
In Rotoworld.com's Strike Zone Archives, you'll find a quick rundown of next year's free agents and a guess by the author of who they'll end up signing with. It goes position by position and even gives a sneak peek of the top free agents for the following year as well. Here's who they think will sign with the Cubs and their reasoning:
Now is not the time for irrational exuberance. The win last night raised the Cubs' post-season chances from 1.10% to 1.72%. The optimist in me points out that the Cubs improved their chances by 56%, while the pessimist in me wonders how there can possibly be an optimist in me after 30 years of following the Cubs. Tonight our creaky warrior, Carlos Zambrano, takes on Houston's little giant, Roy Oswalt, who is six feet tall in the same way I resemble Brad Pitt. No matter, he brings the heat and is one of the main reasons, along with Clemens and Pettitte, that the Astros are in good position to capture the wildcard. Have you seen their upcoming schedule? Milwaukee, San Diego, Los Angeles, Cincinnati -- if they haven't put some ground between themselves and the pack of dogs in the NL East, I'll be shocked. Back to Zambrano and his back for a second...apparently the Cubs have given El Toro a regimen of exercises to help his back. When I went to physical therapy for my back last year, I got a series of exercises, and let me tell you, they worked great. When I did them. All the prayer stretches, cat-and-camels, and Superman stretches in the world don't help you when you spend your time slouched in front of the computer chatting with your friends in distant places. Carlos, man, take it from a guy who knows: DO YOUR STRETCHES. You'll be glad you did. One final note -- I got an email from Peter Bragiel, who has created a website for Wrigley Field beer vendors. check it out, find the vendor who serves your section, and make sure to tip generously on the next Old Style you buy.
GAME 120 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (57-62) @ HOUSTON ASTROS (64-54) MINUTE MAID PARK, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: WGN, Fox Sports SouthWest
Andy Pettitte LHP
10-8, 2.62 ERA
116/31 K/BB, 11 HR in 154.2 IP
Greg Maddux, RHP
9-9, 4.54 ERA
96/26 K/BB, 21 HR in 156.2 IP
RF *Matt Lawton CF Wily Taveras
2B #Neifi Perez 2B Craig Biggio
1B Derrek Lee 1B #Lance Berkman
3B Aramis Ramirez 3B Morgan Ensberg
SS Nomar Garciaparra RF Jason Lane
LF Matt Murton LF *Orlando Palmeiro
CF *Corey Patterson SS Adam Everett
C Henry Blanco C Brad Ausmus
P Greg Maddux P *Andy Pettitte
In the back of my mind and locked in a box high upon a shelf, I hold out hope that the Cubs will make some mad dash toward the playoffs in these last 42 games. In reality, we have a 1.08% chance right now. The Giants have better odds right now to make the playoffs as do the Dodgers and every team in the NL East. So, for the rest of the season I have come up with a cheat sheet for my rooting interests, in order of importance. 1. Fantasy Baseball Stats (I have Aramis, Prior and Z on my team) 2. Derrek Lee's Quest for The Triple Crown 3. Greg Maddux winning 15 games 4. Matt Murton getting playing time and doing well 5. Hendry sees enough to realize that Bakerschild (Baker/Rothschild) are not the right coaches for this team. 6. The Astros don't make the playoffs The item above takes precedence over the item below and if the Cubs do make some remarkable run, they will of course take over precedence to all other items. Today Maddux goes for win #10 and he's only got about 8 to 9 more starts to win 6 more games this season. I hope good old Maddog does it once again, just for the novelty and more proof that showing up everyday is almost as important as playing well when you do play. We'll see if the Cubs can recover from yesterday's butt-whoopin'. At least with Maddux on the mound we're unlikely to be witness to a parade of walks. The long ball is another story though. Go Cubs!
Glendon Rusch has this split in his time with the Cubs...
IPHHRBBKERA
as starter161.015214421153.41
as reliever67.084531524.30
It's enough to make you wonder just why this change to the rotation has been so long coming. It's long been obvious that a Rich Hill throwing just two pitches is not a major league starter. The disappearance of both his cutter and changeup at the major league level do lead one to wonder just how good a third pitch he really has. It doesn't need to be a great pitch, just good enough that he's able to throw it when and where he wants in order to keep the hitters guessing and off balance. That in turn will improve the effectiveness of his fastball, which isn't anything special, and his curveball, which is very special, will do the rest, provided he can throw it for called strikes. The trouble is that Hill has yet to prove that he can consistently get that curveball across the plate, and developing and improving pitches takes time, time that the 25 year old Rich Hill doesn't really have in abundance. If he can't make the necessary adjustments, he's doomed to life as a lefty specialist. Jim Hendry's behaviour at the deadline suggests he obviously believes in Hill's ability to adjust, and his upside if he can is pretty considerable. But then again Hendry seemingly also thought that Rich Hill was the best bet to step into the rotation when Kerry Wood went down in Cincinnati, and that right now looks like a poor judgement. Whatever, the Cubs now find Glendon Rusch back in the rotation, and Todd Wellemeyer once again makes the transition from Iowa starter to Chicago reliever. John Koronka's stay was thankfully a brief and irrelevant one. And Jermaine Van Buren meanwhile wonders just what on earth a guy has to do. Perhaps his overdue chance will come when the dominating relief ace Kerry Wood goes for his overdue surgery.
GAME 119 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (57-61) @ HOUSTON ASTROS (63-54) MINUTE MAID PARK, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: CSN, Fox Sports SouthWest
Wandy Rodriguez LHP
7-5, 6.18 ERA
57/34 K/BB, 14 HR in 78.2 IP
Glendon Rusch, LHP
5-4, 3.98 ERA
77/40 K/BB, 9 HR in 97.1 IP
LF Matt Murton CF Wily Taveras
2B *Todd Walker 2B Craig Biggio
1B Derrek Lee 1B #Lance Berkman
3B Aramis Ramirez 3B Morgan Ensberg
SS Nomar Garciaparra RF Jason Lane
C Michael Barrett SS Adam Everett
RF *Jeromy Burnitz LF Chris Burke
CF * Corey Patterson C Humberto Quintero
P *Glendon Rusch P #Wandy Rodriguez
Wow, this is the lineup of the team leading the wild card hunt. I guess pitching and defense can get you a long way. For the eternal optimists out there who still think we have a shot at making the playoffs, I think it's fair to say we have to sweep the Astros this series. We'll play them a grand total of 10 times before the season is out, but I doubt we'll be as lucky as to miss Roger Clemens in those 2 series at the end of September. And if you can't beat a fella named Wandy, you have no business in the playoffs anyway. I like this lineup a lot, which generally means that run scoring will be minimal. It's always a good idea though to load your lineup with righties when playing at The Juice Box and the super-short left field porch it houses. We'll see the good southpaw on the Astros in Andy Pettitte tomorrow, so it'll be another chance to load up the lineup with righties. I wonder if Murton will get a start in both games, spelling Burnitz tomorrow instead of Lawton. Some doozy pitching matchups after tonight as well, at least when you look at the names. Pettitte vs. Maddux tomorrow and Zambrano vs Oswalt on Wednesday. If the Cubs offense can't get going playing here and then Coors Stadium, there's nothing that will cure it. If anything, we can begin to play the role of spoiler and spoiling the Astros post-season hopes sure would be fun. Go Cubs!!!

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