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Trivia Question: Which player drafted by the Cubs, went on to have the most illustrious Cubs career(that should be easy), who would you rank #2 and #3 though (considering their Cub career only)? Tell me if this sounds familiar. The games wealthiest clubs, particularly one in New York, were outspending the more financially constricted ballclubs to sign available players. Salaries (actually bonuses) escalated out of control and something needed to be done to restore competitive balance. Proposals were introduced, arguments were made and rules were changed. And in 1965, the amateur draft was introduced, now known as the First Year Player Draft. On June 7th of this year, the 41st baseball draft will be conducted and the Cubs first selection of the day will be at the 20th spot. This is a rather low pick historically for the Cubs, whose first pick from year to year on average is around the 10th or 11th pick. Considering draft slots are selected in reverse order of win/loss records, this is a dubious distinction indicating the organization's futility over the years. All those upper round picks though should have been the fruits of a better tomorrow, but as you'll see, the Cubs drafting has been nearly as disappointing as their play.
GAME 50 PREVIEW CHICAGO CUBS (25-24) at LOS ANGELES DODGERS (26-24) Dodger Stadium, 9.10pm CT, TV: WGN, FSN2
SP Brad Penny SP Carlos Zambrano
SS #Neifi Perez SS #Cesar Izturis
2B *Todd Walker RF Jayson Werth
1B Derrek Lee CF *JD Drew
RF *Jeromy Burnitz 2B Jeff Kent
3B Aramis Ramirez LF *Ricky Ledee
CF *Corey Patterson 3B Antonio Perez
LF Jason Dubois 1B *Hee Seop Choi
C Henry Blanco C #Mike Rose
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
The Cubs have seen the best and worst of Zambrano so far this year - he's been brilliant and unhittable in some starts, wild and certainly fallible in others. And throughout he's of course been ever emotional. Which Z will it be tonight though?
From Al Yellon's Bleed Cubbie Blue, way way down at the bottom of the post, after his review of the new Star Wars movie:
Finally, the usual "reliable sources" tell me that further trades may be on the horizon, which may include one or more starting players. Beyond this I cannot comment without compromising my source, and I'd like to keep the information flow. Stay tuned.
That, my friends, is one of the best cases of burying the lede I have ever seen in my life. So who's it gonna be? Speculators, mount up!
CUBS 5 DODGERS 3
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
W: Greg Maddux (3-3) L: Wilson Alvarez (1-3) SV: Ryan Dempster (5)
Itís nice to get back to the writing discussing a win. The Cubs extend their winning streak to 4 and for the first time since April 30th, .500 can be seen in the rearview mirror. The game started off as well as you anyone could hope. The first pitch of the game was an 87 mph meatball down the middle of the plate by Wilson Alvarez to Jerry Hairston. I thought to myself, that I bet scouts have gotten the word out that Hairston likes to take pitches to start off the game and wondered if Hairston should every once in awhile, rock that first pitch fastball just to keep teams on their toes. Of course Alvarez dared to throw the exact same pitch on the next offering and Hairston sent it over the left field stands for a quick 1-0 lead. And then I thought to myself, what the hell do I know? The Cubs seemed to pound Alvarez for as long as he was in the game, but only managed a 4-0 lead. The Dodgers cut it to 4-2 after Corey Patterson just missed making 2 consecutive amazing plays, one ended up being a short-hop single and the other a 2 run double off the left center field wall. Aramis Ramirez continued what is hopefully a season long hot streak going 3 for 4, including a solo homer to extend the lead to 5-2. The game belonged to Greg Maddux who notched career victory #308 and is now only 43 strikeouts short of becoming the 9th pitcher in history with 300 victories and 3000 strikeouts. For the third straight game Maddux didnít walk a batter and continually had the Dodgers meekly grounding balls around the infield. Despite walking the first two batters in the 8th, Todd Wellemeyer continued his scoreless streak with some help from Will Ohman. Ryan Dempster gave up a home run but managed his fifth save. Carlos Zambrano goes tomorrow and hopefully he comes with his best. A win tomorrow is somewhat essential to staying over .500 and gaining some much needed momentum before facing the super hot San Diego Padres, particularly since John Koronka looks to be called up on Wednesday for his major league debut.
GAME 49 PREVIEW CHICAGO CUBS (24-24) at LOS ANGELES DODGERS (26-23) Dodger Stadium, 7.10pm CT, TV: ESPN, FSN2
SP *Wilson Alvarez SP Greg Maddux
2B Jerry Hairston SS #Cesar Izturis
SS #Neifi Perez RF Jayson Werth
1B Derrek Lee CF *JD Drew
3B Aramis Ramirez 2B Jeff Kent
LF Jason Dubois 1B Olmedo Saenz
RF *Jeromy Burnitz LF *Ricky Ledee
CF *Corey Patterson 3B Antonio Perez
C Michael Barrett C Jason Phillips
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
These days a week of games hosting the Astros and Rockies is about as easy as they come. The Cubs played some good ball, their oppositions some quite bad, but the sum total of it all was the Cubs going 5-2, the minimum requirement in my eyes, and with that dragging themselves back up to five hundred for the first time since the terrible losing streak that began the month. Now though we'll see what the Cubs are really made of. They've largely squandered a pretty comfortable schedule thus far, and being at five hundred, even despite the injuries, is not something of which they should be proud. Now the next three weeks bring encounters with nothing but good to excellent teams. The Dodgers, Padres, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Marlins and Yankees; this is a nineteen game stretch born to give us a better idea of just where we stand. Are hopes of playoff baseball unfounded? Newsflash - Dusty Baker picks same lineup two days in a row! Sadly, that means more Neifi Perez batting second, and less Todd Walker playing second. If I didn't know better, I'd say Dusty's given Walker's job to Jerry. If so, it's great that Dusty's come to the realisation that getting on-base by whatever means possible is a good thing. It's not so great he's not yet realised he doesn't need to relegate Walker to pinch-hit home runs to do so. Hairston for left field! Maybe Walker's still hurting though. In which case, Dusty, carry on. And carry on Cubs, too, let's run this winning streak to four!
Team Records Updated through 5/29/05; Individual Stats Updated through 5/29/05
Organizational Records
TeamW-LGB/Pos.Last 10W/L (2003)W/L (2004)
Chicago Cubs24-247.5/2nd6-427-2125-23
Iowa Cubs 22-284.5/3rd6-4&nbsp&nbsp
West Tenn Jaxx34-160.0/1st5-5&nbsp &nbsp
Daytona Cubs25-232.5/3rd4-6&nbsp&nbsp
Peoria Chiefs25-254.0/3rd7-3&nbsp&nbsp
Boise HawksSeason begins in June N/A N/A &nbsp&nbsp
AZL CubsSeason begins in JuneN/A N/A &nbsp&nbsp

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GAME 47 PREVIEW COLORADO ROCKIES (14-32) at CHICAGO CUBS (22-24) Wrigley Field, 12.05pm CT, TV: CSN
SP *Glendon Rusch SP Byung-Hyun Kim
SS Clint Barmes SS #Neifi Perez
2B Luis Gonzalez 2B *Todd Walker
1B *Todd Helton 1B Derrek Lee
CF Preston Wilson RF *Jeromy Burnitz
C Todd Greene 3B Aramis Ramirez
LF Matt Holliday CF *Corey Patterson
3B Garrett Atkins LF Jason Dubois
RF Dustin Mohr C Michael Barrett
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
I commented just yesterday that "Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, Greg Maddux, Glendon Rusch and Sergio Mitre looks to be the rotation for the time being." That last all of a matter of hours, and so, the Cubs now have something in common with every other major league baseball team - no Mark Prior. He's been placed on the 15-day disabled list, with Roberto Novoa promoted from Iowa to the bullpen. One of Ryan Dempster or Todd Wellemeyer will probably move from relief back into the rotation. Todd Walker commented yesterday that the grass is partially responsible for our offence woes. Perhaps at his request the Cubs cut the grass a little shorter then, because the Cubs scored ten runs Friday and won comfortably. Or perhaps the bigger issue was that the wind was blowing out. If anything at Wrigley sets it apart from other ballparks, it's the wind rather than the grass. Wrigley can be transformed from Coors one day to PETCO the next all according to which way it blows. Andy Rutledge from the View From the Bleachers has been tracking the Cubs' performance so far this year and last, and his findings for this year in particular are startling - the Cubs have scored well over twice as many runs per game with the wind carrying the ball as with it holding it up. That's a ridiculous difference. Unlike the grass, is this then an adequate excuse? Again, not really, in my view. Scoring less runs due to the wind is nothing to be ashamed of. Being out-adapted by oppositions that aren't anywhere near as familiar with the conditions certainly is. The Cubs have played in Wrigley for many years now, and they above all should know then that they have to deal with the wind when it comes to formulating their team for the season, their lineup each day and their approach each at-bat. Anecdotally, all of us have noticed that the Cubs seem to go for the long ball regardless. The Cubs won't win like that. There's some good news though. Come the summer the wind tends to blow out more often, and that should help. Mark Prior or not, there's still not enough reason to completely give up on this team yet. Things could be a lot, lot worse. We could be the Rockies, for instance.
Mark Prior was hit in the arm by a comebacker in the 4th inning of today's game and left in obvious pain. Preliminary reports indicate a bruise only, no fracture, so I'm thinking at most he'll miss one start and maybe not even that. Finally a bit of potential good news on the injury front. [Rob G. Update:] Espn is reporting that an MRI later revealed a "slight" fracture. No timetable on his return as of yet. From personal experience, a broken elbow takes at least 3 weeks to heal and 3 weeks for rehab although mine was probably significantly worse. On the other hand I'm not a major league pitcher, nor had access to the same technology and therapists that Prior will.
In doing my research for this weeks organizational report, I came across this small, buried nugget at Inside the Ivy (subscription may be required to access link). Pitcher Dave Crouthers, one of the three prized players we received from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Mr. You-Know-Who, has decided to RETIRE from baseball. Reasons were not given.
WHITE SOX 3 CUBS 4
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
W: Mark Prior (4-1) L: Luis Vizcaino (2-2)
After yesterday, not to mention his own last few outings, Mark Prior came to the realisation that he simply can't trust his bullpen. So he went the distance himself and averted a potentially very embarrassing sweep by the White Sox in our own backyard. In the end, thanks to Jason Dubois and the return of the much-missed three-run shot, Mark Prior didn't quite need to throw that perfect game I was speaking of earlier, though he did retire the first ten hitters he faced with ease, effectiveness and efficiency, four of them by strikeout. A solo home run by Tadahito Iguchi though tied the game at one (Henry Blanco had put us ahead!), and Mark Prior, as is becoming slightly unnervingly common, fell apart a little. Aaron Rowand doubled, Paul Konerko followed with a walk as Prior started to pull his fastball down and away from right-handers as he does, and AJ Pierzynski hit a line drive. Derrek Lee saved the day and the tie by leaping to snare the ball and then throwing to second for the double play. That at least made up for his horrendous earlier error that cost the Cubs a run. Lee, who had been at first, paused at second on a Burnitz double upon the say-so of Juan Uribe, who alledged the ball had gone foul. By the time Lee realised he'd been duped, he could only make it to third, where Ramirez stranded him by lining out to left. Ramirez made some good contact today, two lineouts, a warning track shot and a walk, and his .233 batting average on balls in play won't last, so don't worry about him too much. The tie didn't last though. Jermaine Dye put a good swing on a fastball to lead off the fifth, and Prior didn't truly settle down again until he managed to strike out impressive debut pitcher Brandon McCarthy on a full count. A 1-2-3 sixth for Prior followed, the pitch that got Podsednik on strikes (again) being particularly nasty. Podsednik reached just once, and his speed had no influence on the game as a result. You can't steal first base. Well, not today at least. The Cubs last year were supposedly a team overly reliant on the home run, far too inconsistent in their run-scoring, a dozen one day but not very many the next. That's changed so far this year, or at least of late, with the Cubs instead being very consistent, just scoring not very many runs at all every time out. Jason Dubois was obviously a bit fed up with that, so he launched a Luis Vizcaino offering to deep right-center, his natural power alley, and for the first time in what seems an age, the Cubs had a lead of more than a run. Prior kept it that way by pitching his way out of jams in the seventh and eighth, getting a pair of critical pop-ups and a big double play respectively. By the time Konerko hit the third home run of the day off Prior in the ninth to halve the deficit, it was too little too late. Cubs win, Cubs win! The Cubs have a critical seven days coming up. Three against the Astros and four with the Rockies, all at Wrigley. 5-2 would put them back at .500. Let's do it!

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