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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.
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...
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.
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!!!
For those lovers of Google News, there's another site called SportSpyder which does just about the same, but is devoted entirely to sports. What I like more about SportSpyder is that they update almost instantly AND now The Cub Reporter is one of the news sources. Check it out and I highly recommend bookmarking it if you like to stay up-to-date on Cubs news. On the left you'll see us listed an an independent news source and I think as long as we include the word "Cubs" somewhere in the post, it'll show up on the site. You can do searches as well, and just typing in Felix Pie came up with this week's Organizational Report as the top listing. I'm amused if anything.
Before we begin, if anyone is interested in writing a blog about the Cubs farm system, MVN is looking. Please contact Evan Brunell, writer of Fire Brand of The American League and owner of MVN. Be prepared to submit a writing sample. There are currently 3 minor league blogs on MVN that you can check out, a general minors blog, a D'Backs one and a Red Sox one. You should also be prepared to be able to write once a week. Back to our regularly scheduled programming. Team Records updated through 8/14/05; Individual Stats updated through 8/14/05
Organizational Records
TeamW-LGB/Pos.Last 10
Chicago Cubs57-61(Div)17.0/3rd
Iowa Cubs55-6311.0/4th5-5
West Tenn Diamond Jaxx*26-235.0/2nd3-7
Daytona Cubs22-279.0/5th5-5
Peoria Chiefs24-244.0/5th6-4
Boise Hawks22-312.0/2nd3-7
AZL Cubs3-115.5/9th3-7
Cubs Ex W/L: 57-61; (2003) 61-57; (2004) 63-55 * West Tennessee clinched the first half North Division title of the Southern League
The Tribune reported last weekend that Felix Pie, the undisputed number one prospect in the organisation, would be back playing for the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx (Double-A) as of Tuesday. But it's now Saturday, and as yet Pie has still not returned. It appears not that Pie's situation has worsened, but that Paul Sullivan had some pretty poor sources, and that Pie was never slated to return this week at all. Instead, he's still in Mesa, and remains a ways away, as the deep bone bruise to the inside of his sprained right ankle is taking its time healing. Pie sustained the injury trying to stretch out a triple on June 16th. The injury has so far cost him the chance to go to the Futures Game and the Southern League All-Star Game. That said, Pie would have attended neither had he been called up to Chicago in early July, as was Jim Hendry's crazy plan. The injury got in the way of that, thank God, because Pie is nowhere near close to being ready, and Greenberg got the call instead. Speaking of Greenberg, he has still not fully recovered from his first major league pitch, July 9th, which of course hit him in the head. Greenberg returned to play a few games for West Tennessee, but, suffering from dizziness and headaches when he plays, he's been sent to Mesa for further tests. His only consolation is a career major league on-base percentage of 1.000. Greenberg projects as a very useful fourth outfielder, for he can hit for average, draw walks, run the bases well and play defence at all three outfield positions. At least Adam Greenberg has had a taste of the majors, even if it was a short and very painful one. Angel Guzman tore the labrum in his right shoulder in 2003 in what was supposed to be one of his final minor league appearances before promotion to the big leagues. Fully healthy again in Spring Training this year, and expected to be up for good by May or June, Guzman then went down with a strained right forearm and later developed inflammation in his elbow. The injuries had kept him sidelined all year, but on Thursday Guzman was finally back. He started for the Arizona League Cubs in Rookie Ball, throwing 2 innings and 25 pitches, allowing one single and striking out four, his power-sinker of a fastball averaging 94mph, just a tick or two down on his velocity before the injuries. Guzman will now pitch every fifth day the rest of the year, and then head to the Arizona Fall League. If he can stay healthy, his three plus pitches (fastball, curve, changeup), his superb control and his well-regarded makeup on the mound make him an extremely good bet to be an above average major leaguer.
Carlos Zambrano, RHP
8-5, 3.30 ERA
134/65 K/BB, 12 HR in 150 IP
Jason Marquis, RHP
9-10, 4.24 ERA
68/55 K/BB, 19 HR in 142.1 IP
SS Little Davey Eckstein LF *Matt Lawton
3b #Abraham Nunez 2B *Todd Walker
1B Albert Pujols 1B Derrek Lee
CF *Jim Edmonds 3B Aramis Ramirez
LF *John Rodriguez RF *Jeromy Burnitz
2B Mark Grudzielanek C Michael Barrett
RF So Taguchi SS #Neifi Perez
C Mike Mahoney CF *Corey Patterson
P *Jason Marquis P #Carlos Zambrano
I hope the Cubs don't face too many more lefties. I can't handle Jose Macias at the top of the order like he was yesterday, and I don't care that got two hits yesterday or that he's hitting nearly .300. resident Pollyanna, Carrie Muskat, writes of how the Cubs are now "unburdened," like the fact that the Cubs managed to string hits together a few times will suddenly turn the season around and put them on the road to a stirring last-minute grab of the wildcard prize. It must be tough to be continually upbeat about your team like that, and never question them. At least the Cubs managed to end the losing streak before the double shot of national TV this weekend, so we'll be spared Tim McCarver and Joe Morgan droning on about the problems of the team, like they have any freaking clue what's wrong with them. I'm sure Morgan will have lots to say (or, more precisely, he'll have one thing to say and he'll say it over and over again) about Corey Patterson coming back; Patterson strikes me as just the type of player that a guy like Morgan, forgetting everything about what got him into the Hall of Fame, loves. On another note, keep a good thought for Mike Cameron; he's in the hospital after the most horrific collision I've seen in a game and even though he's a Met I wish him a speedy recovery.
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
W: Greg Maddux (9-9) L: Mark Mulder (13-6)
Well thank god that's over and I knew that it would take some sort of bizarro world where Maddux pitches a complete game, Noseferatu (Neifi/Macias) go a combined 4 for 10 with 3 runs and an RBI and Korey manages to go a game without a K. Take them any way we can get them.


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