Cubs Hits Of The Week (Monday, 6/16 through Sunday, 6/22)

The five hits from the past week that did the most to enhance the Cubs' chances of winning, according to Win Probability Added as calculated by Fan Graphs:

#5.) Tuesday, 9th inning at Tampa, man on first, one out, Cubs trailing the Rays, 3-1. Kosuke Fukudome doubles against Troy Percival, sending Mark DeRosa around to third. It's so obvious the Cubs will at least tie up this game and send it to extra innings. It's so very, very obvious...right up to the moment the Rays retire Reed Johnson to lock down the 3-2 win. Fukudome double = WPA .150  

#4.) Saturday, 4th inning vs. White Sox, men on first and second, one out, Cubs trailing the Sox, 4-3. Fukudome hits a ground single to right, scoring Ryan Theriot from second base to tie the game 4-4, with much more run-making yet to follow in this fourth inning. Fukudome single = WPA .159

The countdown continues after the jump.

#3.) Friday, 7th inning vs. White Sox, none on, none out, Cubs trailing the Sox, 3-2. Moments after Derrek Lee has homered off Octavio Dotel to cut the visitors' lead to 3-2, all Cubdom is perched on its edge of its collective seat, wondering, "Can Aramis Ramirez tie up this game with one swing of his bat and in so doing, earn $7,000 for the lucky entrant in WGN Radio's Back-to-Back Jacks Contest?" The answer is yes and yes! Ramirez home run = WPA .222

#2.) Thursday, 7th inning vs. Tampa, men on first and second, one out, Cubs trailing the Rays, 1-0. Mike Fontenot connects for a ground-rule double off the new age artificial turf at Tropicana Field—give me the good ol' days when games were played on 100% real AstroTurf!—to score the tying run, put the Cubs in position to eventually claim a 3-1 lead, and give Carlos Marmol an opportunity to prove he's a human being. Fontenot double = WPA .258

#1.) Friday, 9th inning vs. White Sox, none on, none out, game tied 3-3. Scott Linebrink, who has been virtually unhittable all season long, throws a low fastball to Aramis Ramirez, who promptly deposits it over the centerfield wall, earning the Cubs a 4-3 win and leaving Sox announcer and lifetime .239 hitter Ken Harrelson utterly speechless, which is an achievement so profound, not even Win Probability Added can fully measure its significance. Ramirez home run = WPA .358


Jeff Samardzija was promoted to AAA tonight, replacing Sean Marshall who will join the Cubs Tuesday.


Comment: They're fastracking Samardzija again(4.86 ERA, 44K 42BB in 16 starts) who really doesn't seem ready-- definitely not as ready as Donnie Veal (2.76 ERA in 16 starts). And I believe Veal would benefit more from the promotion after the confidence draining season he had last year.

I agree. I have yet to see signs that Jeff is ready for AAA let alone the big leagues.

Trying to convince Samardzija not to walk away from baseball and pursue a career as a wide receiver?

Since 5/28 his stats are:

21 1/3 IP, 1.23 WHIP, 2.64 ERA, 16K/10BB

Given his recent performance, he is not unworthy of a promation but I'd rather have him working on a secondary pitch in AA. Though with Hart on the DL, Veal might get his spot.

Here's a Whittenmyer brief on Marmol's mechanics, Johnson's rumored DL stint, Rich "head case" Hill, Kosuke leading off and Edmonds' hand. High signal to noise ratio.

ya know...i know its popular to term these things "mental breaks" in the press and all, but hill has had control problems in the past.

i oliver perez a "head case" cuz he cant do what he did in 2004 even though he hasn't been significantly injured since he "tanked"...or is he just a guy who's had spotty control his entire tenure who got it right one year and has the tools to get it right in the future?

rich hill put in a stellar season last year and even pessimists should have expected more than what he's put in this year...but to label his issues being some kinda greinke-like thing is a bit premature, but quick to be put on players the past many years.

maybe he is a f'n headcase...who knows...

Rich Hill K/BB:

'05 (AA): 90/21
'05 (AAA): 92/14
'06 (AAA): 135/21
'07 (MLB): 183/63

And then:

'08 (MLB): 15/18
'08 (AAA): 32/28

He didn't just pull his shit together for a year in '07 and then fall back to earth. He hasn't had command problems like this since A ball.

BB/IP is more important for this conversation, really. heck, pitches per outing and IP he actually achieved would be even better.

he throws a lot of pitches.

he "clicked" in AAA 06 for a 1/3rd of a season and came up to the bigs for a 1/3rd of a season of some shakey control, but effective, outings. -edit- i guess he "clicked" in a partial tear he went on in AAA 05, too, but he was marmol-AIDS awful with his control in his 05 callup.

in 07 he had a nice year, occasionally wild...but overall effective. it wasn't like he was lights out and popular discussion was whether he'd have control over "both" his pitches in every outing and whether he'd break out a 3rd pitch that day.

hill's doing worse than expected, but i don't really find is extremely shocking he's having control problems. the extremity of them is hard to take, though.

Um, doesn't it seem likely changing his mechanics has screwed him up? That'd seem pretty likely to me.

Article states Hendry has not spoken to Reed about a DL DL stint. No mention of back injection. RJ states he will be working out @ Wrigley today.

If that Whittenmeyer article about Marmol is correct, then props to Old and Blue, who pointed out the flaw in his delivery a few days ago.

Rich Hill benefitted a lot from his relationship with minor league pitching coach Alan Dunn, who was hired away from the Cubs by the Orioles last year. Hill credited Dunn with turning his career around, and Dunn is probably is the one person who would be able to help Hill with his mechanics.

Even after Hill became a major leaguer in 2006, he would still see Dunn (who was a ST pitching instructor) every February at Fitch Park to help him get his season started. 2008 was the first time Hill did not see Alan Dunn at Fitch Park.  

And it's no secret that Hill's best friend on the Cubs was Michael Barrett. Barrett is the type of personality who functions as a "Big Brother" to certain younger players who look up to him, and when you take Barrett away, certain personality types are left adrift.

While he certainly has defensive liabilities and a tendency to make dumb mistakes on the bases, one thing Barrett did do was help Hill develop and maintain the confidence and mental toughness he needed to be a consistetly effective MLB pitcher. Barrett was Hill's Big Brother (and Barrett was Murton's Big Brother, too, BTW) 

You might wonder why an intelligent adult major leaguer would need others to help him build and maintain confidence and also to help him stay locked-in mechanically, but some just do. And it just so happens that Hill is one of the more "needful" ones.

With Hill out of minor league options as of next season, I suspect he very well might end up with the Orioles in 2009 (or perhaps even soorner), where he would be reunited with his pitching guru, Alan Dunn. And Orioles Scouting Director John Stockstill is the guy who drafted Hill back when Stockstill was the Cubs scouting director.

If Hill goes over in a trade, anyone still want Brian Roberts in return?

Also, I'm assuming the Cubs knew Barrett and Dunn were instrumental in Hill's development. Do you think they thought at all about Hill would fare without both guys this year? If they didn't think it would have a negative impact on Hill, that would seem to be a pretty glaring lack of foresight on management's part.

Can Roberts pitch? have the Cubs fared without Barrett?

Given the way they played last year after the Barrett trade, and so far this year, I'd say they have been playing at a 100+ win clip. Nothing personal -- my son and I met him at a team function, and he seemed like a very nice guy.

Players get traded or go free agent all the damn time. If Hill's pysche is so fragile that the trade of one player ruins him, then his MLB career wasn't going to be very long anyway.

If that happens, then I would consider it a failure on the Cub's part, as well as on Hill's. They've spent a heck of a lot of time and care on Hill's development, and to have to throw it all away after waiting on his potential would really be a shame.

Imagine where this team would be if they didn't just give up all the time.

Anyone still want to complain about Aramis "not hustling"?

I don't remember anyone on this site complaining about his performance on the field this year, so your snark is a moot point. Please try again.

Whatever you say, Boss. I was speaking more of Cubs fans in general, but I'll take your pointed criticism under advisement.

The three teams with the best records in the NL as of this morning:

1. Cubs
2. Cardinals
3. Brewers

The Dbacks are only 2 games over .500 after getting off to that super hot start. I guess it was a mistake for a lot of national media to 'crown their asses' so early :) looks like they might be fighting the pukey Dodgers for a playoff spot.

The Cubs have allowed the fewest runs of any NL team. The Cubs have also scored more runs than every other team in baseball other than the Texas Rangers.

Speaking of the Rangers...I know it was a pre-arranged deal with the Reds and his career might have gone down a completely different path had he stayed with the Cubs, but sweet Jesus how awesome would this team be with Josh Hamilton in CF? Could they have broken the mythical 1000-run barrier?

Cubs have 48 wins with 5 games remaining in the first half of the season. Good show, fellas.

I am not buying the arguement that without Dunn and Barrett, Rich Hill can't be a major leaguer. Coaches, and players come and go, if your career is dependant on the same constant then you were never meant to be a major leaguer in the first place.

Rich Hill's problems are Rich Hill's problems.

You're right, Mike. They certainly are his own problems. I'm going to choose to believe that Rich is mature enough that he can handle the heartache that comes with his snugglebuddies leaving the organization.

But, at the same time, the problems that he's having are problems that NOBODY in the organization, the media, the blogosphere, or anywhere else, for that matter, have been able to diagnose. I think it's mechanical, but I don't know for sure. Could be that he's a big baby.

Nobody knows what's wrong with him. It's got to be something. You can't just fall flat on your face like that. He walked 2.91 batters per 9 innings at the big league level last year. Now, he's been demoted to AAA and he's walking 10.29 batters per 9 innings. I could go on and on with the stats, but I think everybody gets the point. There's just no explanation for it. It's mind-boggling.

So in the case of Rich Hill's sudden unexpected decline. We as a group Blame Michael Barrett?

I know I don't count, but leave me out of that one.

seeing that they were SD teammates for 5 minutes, you can certainly blame Barrett for Edmonds' production as a Cub

.311/.358/.581/.939 4 HR, 16 RBI

yeah he's lost 5 steps defensively in the OF over the last 2 years but still, no one thought he could still perform like this.

Submitted by Dr. aaron b on Mon, 06/23/2008 - 11:13am.

So in the case of Rich Hill's sudden unexpected decline. We as a group Blame Michael Barrett?


DR AARON B: Of course not. 

Blame Rich Hill.

Look, Rich Hill is a nice guy, but he's also a high risk/high reward/high maintenance fussy prima-donna know-it-all who needs things to be set up a certain way in order for him to feel confident and comfortable. And for whatever reason, Hill was willing and/or able to listen to Alan Dunn and Michael Barrett when he normally tunes everybody else out. And that helped Hill reach the comfort zone he needed in order to be a confident and successful MLB pitcher.

But it's not like Dunn and Barrett are the only two people in the world who can fill that need. Hill jut hasn't found their replacements yet. (Or maybe he just needs to learn to do it himself, except apparently he can't).

In some organizations, a key member of the starting rotation falling apart like Hill has done would have been catastrophic. But Jim Hendry was smart (or lucky) enough to cover himself with several fall-back options (like Gallagher, Marshall, Hart, and Lieber) in case any of the pre-2008 presumed rotation starters had failed, so that the Cubs still somehow have managed to run up the best record in baseball in spite of getting zero contibution from Rich Hill.

Phil, I was just keeping the "I blame Michael Barrett" running joke going. But since we have you hanging around today. May I ask what your current opinion of the following players, and where their futures are headed?

Felix Pie
Eric Patterson
Matt Murton
Mark Holliman
Jeff Spellcheck
Donald Veal

Obviously all of these guys are trading chips of some sort. But I am more curious as to what kind of players you think they ultimately become. Thanks in advance.

Submitted by MikeC on Mon, 06/23/2008 - 10:36am. I am not buying the arguement that without Dunn and Barrett, Rich Hill can't be a major leaguer. Coaches, and players come and go, if your career is dependant on the same constant then you are never meant to be a major leaguer in the first place.

Rich Hill's problems are Rich Hill's problems.


MIKE C: That's correct.

Rich Hill's problems are of his own making.

He is what he is.

And that is a high risk/high reward/high maintenance fussy prima-donna. 

Submitted by Dr. aaron b on Mon, 06/23/2008 - 12:22pm.

Phil, I was just keeping the "I blame Michael Barrett" running joke going. But since we have you hanging around today.

May I ask what your current opinion of the following players, and where their futures are headed?

Felix Pie

Eric Patterson

Matt Murton

Mark Holliman

Jeff Spellcheck

Donald Veal

Obviously all of these guys are trading chips of some sort. But I am more curious as to what kind of players you think they ultimately become. Thanks in advance.


AARON B: I understand what you were trying to say regarding Barrett, but I just wanted to make it very clear that Rich Hill's problems are of his own making.

Because he apparently lacks the self-confidence and working knowledge of his own pitching mechanics to be a successful MLB pitcher on his own, he necessarily has to rely on the kindness of strangers to help him find The Promised Land.

ERIC PATTERSON: As I've said before, E-Pat can play in the big leagues right now. He is a genuine #1 or #2 hitter with the power to hit 15 HR and steal 20+ bases. He can also bunt and he will take a walk. He also will probably strike out a bit too much.

But defense is his main problem.

He is a "natural" second-baseman, but his physical talents actually would project him more as a CF. He plays 2B like a bull in a china shop, lacking the ball-handling skills required of a middle-infielder. He's like a two-guard playing point guard.

See, Patterson actually has some defensive attributes. Like plus-range for instance. His best trick is going to his right behind second-base, back-handing the ball, and throwing the runner out at 1st. And he is a decent flyhawk, with an ability to go out into the outfield to catch pop-ups. Maybe not quite Shawon Dunston good, but good.

But while most second-baseman use that little sidearm flip when making throws to 1st base or to the SS on a 4-6-3 DP ball, E-Pat usually throws overhand, but it's kind of like the way girls throw. So the shorter the throw, the more you have to hold your breath. It's kind of like when Bears QB Bobby Douglass would throw those 90 MPH 10 yard screen passes that nobbody could catch back in the 1970's.

What's kind of interesting is that Alfonso Soriano plays LF like a shortstop (throwing almost sidearm, but very accurately), while Patterson plays 2B like an outfielder (throwing overhand, like a centerfielder, but not accurately). The Cubs really should have moved Eric Patterson to CF right after they drafted him, but there was no organizational need for him to play CF at that time, while there was a hole in the organization at 2B.

I guess you could play Patterson at 2B and just live with his defense being what it is. He might outhit his defensive miscues. But ideally I would play him in CF (or LF, but playing CF takes more advantage of his athleticism).

Unfortunately, Patterson did not play any CF post-2007 (AFL, DWL, or VWL), instead waiting until Spring Training to try the move to CF. And once Piniella decided on Felix Pie as his CF, Patterson was optioned to Iowa and moved back to 2B.

Although I suspect Patterson will get traded somewhere where he can play LF or CF everyday and hit #1 or #2 in the order, if the Cubs do end up keeping him, he will very likely be used sort of like Mike Fontenot is now (and probably taking Fontenot's spot on the roster), except Patterson will play OF more than than 2B.

It's POSSIBLE that Patterson could end up being the Cubs CF (and #2 hitter) of the future, but if so, he needs to start playing CF a lot more (like at AAA or in winter ball post-2008).

FELIX PIE: No doubt in my mind he will eventually be a Gold Glove CF with lots of OF assists.

The best thing that could happen to Pie right now is to get traded somewhere where his new team lets him be what he is. At heart, he is a 15-20 HR guy, with maybe 30+ doubles and 10+ triples. And a lot of strikeouts. And not a lot of walks. Ideally, he would hit 6th or 7th in the order. He is NOT a slap hitter.

Pie will be out of minor league options in 2009, so I'm beginning to think he might get traded sooner rather later, perhaps in a deadline deal prior to July 31st, possibly to someplace like Colorado (which needs a fast CF to cover all the ground at Coors Field). .

Then again, Pie is only 23 years old. He is still just a kid. So the Cubs might decide to keep him, and pencil him in as the Opening Day everyday (or at least platoon CF) in 2009. But next year they won't be able to option him to Iowa if he struggles as they did this year. The Cubs will be stuck with him if they don't trade him.

MATT MURTON: He's just messed up. Even more than Pie, Murton needs to be traded someplace where he can get a CTL-ALT-DEL reset. He can put the hammer to the ball and he has the capability to hit HRs (I've seen it), but for some reason he just won't elevate his swing in games.

I expect Murt to get traded someplace like SD, where he can play LF. He has zero future with the Cubs.

JEFF SAMARDZIJA: He has a really nice 92-94 MPH bat-breaker power sinker, but he needs to develop his secondary stuff. He always seems to be working on a new breaking ball or a different kind of change-up.

If he can develop both a decent breaking ball and change-up, he can be an MLB rotation starter, Develop one of the two, and he can be an MLB reliever. Power sinker only with no decent breaking ball or off-speed pitch to go along with it? Try the NFL or maybe Arena Football, Jeff.

MARK HOLLIMAN: His first two years in the Cubs organization (Daytona in 2006 and Tennessee in 2007), Holliman had outstanding first halfs and then hit the wall in mid-season (at about 100 IP).

Holliman was a Friday night starter (#1 starter) in college at Ol' Miss, and never threw more than about 110-120 innings in a season prior to signing with the Cubs. He still needs to prove that he can handle the workload of a professional starting pither (or even a heavily-used reliever) over a full-season.

So far he has all the earmarks of an MLB two-inning middle-reliever. He usually has pretty good control, and he throws three pitches for strikes. He just doesn't seem to have a whole lot of stamina. He might even end up being just a AAA (eventually 4-A) guy.

DONALD VEAL: Throws a plus-plus curve and a smooth riding fastball with some nice boring movement into right-handed hitters. And his change is OK, too. But he has all kinds of problems finding a consistent release point and repeating his delivery. He also has a lot of difficulty throwing strikes. Sometimes he's unhittable, sometimes he's the worst pitcher in the league.

He also tends to cruise along and then have a really, really bad inning. He gets into a jam, and it just snowballs to hell. But with his stuff, I could envision him as an MLB lefty reliever, either a LOOGY or maybe even an 8th inning lefty set-up guy. But he just throws too many pitches per inning to project as a starting pitcher (at this point in time). He can single-handedly burn out a bullpen when he starts. I think he will probably get traded.  

Nicely done. Seems a shame to bury this much insightful analysis inside the comments; this is worthy of its own thread. Cheers.

Much thanks for the reply Mr. Phil. I could see all of those guys getting dealt in the next 40 days. SAMARDZIJA and Holliman would be my guesses to remain in the organization.

Good read, Phil.

Because another Cubs blog was reporting on Friday that he was out Fitch for a workout.

Submitted by Chifan on Mon, 06/23/2008 - 2:01pm.

Because another Cubs blog was reporting on Friday that he was out Fitch for a workout.


CHIFAN: I didn't see Freddy Garcia when I was there, but he could have thrown in the "10-Pack" bullpen behind the clubhouse.

He didn't throw in a game or "live" BP session, though. At least not when I was there.

CHIFAN: Jeff Samardzija is guaranteed $1.3M in 2009, $2.5M in 2010, and $2.8M in 2011 (and that's with no minor league split, too, he gets that even if he's pitching at Daytona), so I would imagine the Cubs are hoping REALLY hard that the Shark somehow can emerge as an MLB pitcher sometime in 2009 so that the money he's going to get is being paid to an MLB pitcher, not to some struggling middle reliever at Iowa or Tennessee.

I disagree on Samardja not being ready.

This is the trap of statistics. Some guys will hit 289 in AAA and be moved up to the majors and hit 285, while some other guy could hit 330 in AAA and hit 220 in the bigs. This is why scouts have jobs rather than the GM just calling up the guy with the biggest numbers. And fool can look at two ERAs and point out the lower one. A scout can tell you why he's pitching that ERA and try to predict what will happen at the higher levels.

Off-days still suck, but if there was a game tonight, I never would've seen Felix Hernandez hit a grand slam off Johan Santana. =D

Heard a podcast today with ESPN's Peter x2, saying they expect the trade market to shake out a lot earlier this year. FWIW, Gammons said he'd expect the Cubs to make a push for either Erik Bedard, AJ Burnett or CC Sabathia.


Gammons said he'd expect the Cubs to make a push for either Erik Bedard, AJ Burnett or CC Sabathia.

Best two out of three?

I'll put my vote in for Bedard.

Erik Bedard (29) can sit on Seattle's DL with his bad back and be just about as useful to us for free!

A.J. Burnett at (31) the worst $13 million dollar pitcher alive. He comes with a big fat 5.42 ERA and leaves a burnt bridge in Toronto.

C.C. Sabathia (27) now you're talkin'.

Sabathia has 4.02 ERA and is a free agent after the year. With the draft class next year being billed as being pretty bad, so I dont think a 2 month rental is a good idea, which is a strike aganist Burnett, who I wonder if he might be a chemistry issue given what has happened in Toronto. I guess that leaves Bedard who I think is the most likely acqustion as we and Seattle match up well. They have moved back Ichiro to RF so they need a CF who can cover alot of ground (Pie or Patterson), a lefty flyball pitcher could dominate in that park (Marshall or Russell) and they could also an upgrade at SS over Betancourt (Cedeno). I can see for a 4 for 1 deal with 3 of those guys plus one long-term prospect with some upside like a Kyler Burke.

So why does it matter that Sabathia is a free agent after the year? If a 3 month rental gets us to the World Series I could care less. Also, his 4.02 ERA is heavily weighted by a few bad games to start the season. He has been awesome since.

I think either Bedard or Sabathia can get us over the hump, so I would rather have the one whose rights I would control for another year.

Wow -- searing insight from Peter Gammons. Who else could have come up with that?

Brewers won again.
Top 3 teams in the NL are in the NL Central.

Submitted by Ryno on Mon, 06/23/2008 - 4:01pm.

I disagree on Samardja not being ready. This is the trap of statistics. Some guys will hit 289 in AAA and be moved up to the majors and hit 285, while some other guy could hit 330 in AAA and hit 220 in the bigs.

This is why scouts have jobs rather than the GM just calling up the guy with the biggest numbers. And fool can look at two ERAs and point out the lower one. A scout can tell you why he's pitching that ERA and try to predict what will happen at the higher levels.


RYNO: If and when Samardzija can perfect at least a passable breaking ball and off-speed pitch, he goes to the front of the class. Because his power sinker is a primo pitch.

In fact, he probably would have put up better numbers at Daytona in 2007 and at Tennessee this year if he threw just the one pitch (power sinker), but in order to be an MLB pitcher he has to develop his secondary pitches, and the process required to do that can lead to some ugly numbers along the way.

I haven't seen the Shark since Spring Training, so he may be finally getting his secondary stuff to work for him and that's why he got promoted. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

Submitted by Dr. aaron b on Mon, 06/23/2008 - 2:38pm.

Much thanks for the reply Mr. Phil.

I could see all of those guys getting dealt in the next 40 days.

SAMARDZIJA and Holliman would be my guesses to remain in the organization.


DR. AARON B: In addition to getting $6.6M (guaranteed) 2009-11, Samardzija also has a full "no trade" through 2011.

With Hendry a likely lame duck GM (what with future ownership in doubt), it's not much of a stretch to figure he will sell the farm if it means getting the guys he feels he needs to make the Cubs as strong as possible headed into the stretch drive and (hopefullly) the post-season.

I see Rockies LHP Brian Fuentes as the most-likely trading target right now because the Cubs can offer the Rockies a CF and young pitching. Fuentes has experience as a closer and can close on days when Wood isn't available, and on other days he would give Lou a viable lefty option for the 8th inning against certain teams where a lefty might be preferable. 

Getting a veteran frontline starting pitcher might be a bit more complicated.

Good info in this thread AP. Fuentes would be a nice pickup. I think one of the biggest obstacles to getting Bedard is the amount Seattle gave up to get him. Even with a different gm, they might feel the need to get a good haul in return. Though to be quite frank, i'd be willing to give up a fair amount.

As for Hendry, I think he has his faults as a gm, but overall i think he's done an above average job. I hope the new ownership group gives him a fair shake.

AZ Phil,

Do you think Hendry would trade both Pie annd Patterson, given that CF is the one spot wide open for 09 and the free agent at the postion is weak or do you think he will move both if needed. Also which pitching prospects do you think COL would be interested in as the guys that would fit Coors (Gallagher and Shark) are likely to be included as Gallagher straight up for Fuentes would be slanted for COL and Shark's NTC would preclude a deal to Col as no pitcher in their right mind would sign off to a trade to Coors. Are other MLB near ready prospects are LHP flyball guys (Hill, Marshall, Russell, and Veal).

One other thing about Rich Hill....

If Hill spends the entire 2008 season on a 25-man regular season MLB roster, he would be eligible for salary arbitration post-2008 as a "Super Two." But by getting optioned to AAA and then spending more than 20 days on optional assignment, Hill no longer has a shot at being a "Super Two" and so he will not be eligible for salary arbitration after the 2008 sesaon.

However, Hill could file a grievance with MLB claiming he was injured prior to the optional assignment (that would be the mysterious "back injury" reported recently that has kept him out of the Iowa rotation for much of the last month and caused the Cubs to send him to Chicago to be examined by a specialist), and if the grievance were to be upheld (as happened with both Mark Prior and Juan Mateo last season), the minor league option would be revoked and Hill would get placed on the Cubs MLB DL retroactively and he accrues the service time he would need to qualify for salary arbittration as a "Super Two."

So don't be surprised if Hill gets placed on the Iowa DL again with a recurrence of that "back injury," and once that happens, watch to see if Hill files a grievance with MLB claiming a "pre-existing injury," hoping to get the optional assignment revoked.

Joe Morgan's got clout and not very good in the booth (cause it doesn't have room for him AND his ego)...but you've got to like this quote:

'I played against him, and when you look at third basemen, he was the best third baseman of his era,'' said Morgan, ''I thought that's the way you judged it. Every year I voted for Maury Wills and Ron Santo. Those are my first two guys. To me, they were both a no-brainer.''

So screwed up they think he injured his hand with an AWKWARD SWING OF THE BAT.

"Pie, who was batting .222 in 36 games at Iowa, also was headed to Mesa, Ariz., to undergo an MRI on his left hand, and will rehab there. Fleita said Pie either jammed his hand or injured it on an awkward swing and has been playing in pain for a few games.

"It's one of those freaky injuries you get in that soft spot between thumb and forefinger," Fleita said Monday

It seems to me it's about time to bury the myth that Pie is coachable. He's about as coachable as Rich Hill or Matt Murton. These players are naturals who are absolutely clueless when it comes to analyzing and changing how they do what they do. JMHO


What does injuring his hand have to do with not being coachable?


For at least the last year, if not two, he's been working (hint: with a coach) on shortening his stroke---result: he swings so awkwardly he damages his hand.

2007.220 Cubs
.220 Licey
2008.220 Cubs
.220 I-Cubs

Maybe it's just me (and Lou), but if Pie were coachable, I'd expect to see some ...SOME...improvement by now.

But, like I said, this is JMHO.

I will agree on this. I saw Felix play in Memphis last week and his swing was AWFUL. Several people around me with no cubs knowledge at all made comments to the fact. It was a choppy,slow, stab at the ball kind of swing. He looked extremely uncomfortable at the plate.

Doing okay back in AA after the Angels signed him away (from the Independent Bridgeport Bluefish). Hopes to play someday for LAA.

WTF Navigator....why you lumping Murton in with Pie? Murton has shown over and over he can adjust, you just dont hit .296 with a .364 OBP by accident over 844 career AB's without the ability to adjust what you do at the plate.

People are trying to make Murton into a 30+ hr hitter and want him swinging from his ass. What is wrong with 10ish HR 70+ RBI, while hitting .300 and the ability to take a walk? (over the course of a full season)

He does that and overnight he becomes a legitimate major league left fielder, mediocre defense and all. And he's capable of it. But he steadfastly refuses to make ANY changes in his approach at the plate.

you cannot have watched murton at ALL any time over the past 3 years to say that.

he's had more batting stances than cal ripken jr. over that time.

Crunch... don't get facts get in the way of the truth, my friend.

approved, Kfuk is the greatest thing since sliced bread. He has a 48 million dollar contract to boot for basically being a Japaneese Matt Murton. When Murton got regular (PT 2005-2006) He was a 300/365/455 hitter with 20 HR's in 595 at bats. It wasnt until Lou fell in love with all things lefthanded that Murton got the shuttle treatment. He is the guy the minions will be bitching about when he gets dealt somewhere and turns into Jason Bay. His only fault is that he isnt "flashy" or "toolsy" enough for Cubs brass that have a scouting background.

Well, as some genius around here said, any fool can compare statistics, but I had no idea Fukudome's all-round dopey defense limited him pretty much solely to playing in left field.

So basically you think that Fukudome's defense is worth 12 million dollars a year?

Maybe his lefthandedness and knowledge of fine sake make him worth the dough? Murton never played RF until he had to at the MLB level. Why people get so much joy out of casting him a scrub is beyond me. Murton's only crime is that he didn't come up in an organization like ATL.

Murton never played RF until he had to at the MLB level.

I believe that is not true. I am pretty sure that he played RF when he was in Boston's system.

Murton's no scrub but he sure is uncoachable when it comes to his hitting. He's absolutely sticking to his guns there.

He doesn't want to change. He doesn't see a need to change. He won't change.

But, sorry for the pun, I think he's short-changing himself.

His selectiveness at the plate might be. Cubs are more patient this year at the plate than I've ever seen them... that has to be contributing to their offensive prowess. Is this due to Fuku-contagion (as some have alleged) or simply coincidence?

I think that since Fukudome plays better defense by leaps and bounds than Murton, Fukudome gets on base 50 points higher than Murton, Fukudome is on pace to steal three times as many bases than Murton (projected, mind you... Fuku on pace for 20 steals if he gets to 600 AB's), and Fukudome is not a graduate of the Moises Alou & Jacque Jones School of Baserunning, he's worth the money. I may be an idiot for thinking that, but I'm willing to take that criticism.

Also, if Matt Murton actually wanted to hit 296/354/451 while Lou Piniella was managing this team, he might play. He hasn't done that yet. He hit and slugged 15 points lower than that last year, and he's been miserable in a very small sample this year.

fair and valid points wes. But lou has done him no favors as far as giving him PT. He went 2/3 on Saturday and hasnt gotten off the bench since. As a former player yourself, you can surely attest to how hard it is to stay sharp from the pine.

Yes it is. And that's a sad reality of playing this game at the professional level. It's a unfortunate paradox, of sorts. The only way to get more PT is to earn it. Prove to your skipper that he's made the right decision by putting you in the lineup. Yet, more often than not, you don't get enough run to play your best. Lou is particularly this way. The knock on Dusty was that no matter how well you hit, you had to continue to do so for an extended period of time before he'd replace one of "his guys" with you. At least Lou is willing to make a change if you start playing better than the guy who's playing your position everyday.

I suppose the long and short is that if you don't execute when you're called on, then you aren't going to play. And unfortunately for Matt, while his career numbers are nice, they aren't as nice in the Piniella era. Nice OBP, but Lou finally saw enough of his stupid mistakes on the bases and in the field and sent him down. That's why he's not playing.

One other note, do keep in mind that Lou sees all these guys in the cage every day. That's probably just as much of a determining factor on who plays LF or 2B that day than anything else other than what handed pitcher we face on a given night. We don't see those BP swings. We don't see how Matt hits in BP everyday. Maybe it's poorly. Wouldn't suprise me with his stats this season between the Cubs and AAA. My personal opinion is that Lou is going to try to get him going against some lefties and hopefully that'll spark his bat.

I'm totally talking out of my ass here, but it seems to me that Lou highly values good defense. It feels like our team defensively is significantly better than last year. Is there any legitimacy to that? Murton obviously is not an asset in that regard.

I think there is truth to that. Or you could say that Lou REALLY hates to see boneheaded mistakes (unless your name is Soriano). However Soriano, nor DeRosa are Gary Pettis out there in Left.

The Cubs have a .713 Defense efficiency rating this year (5th in MLB).

The cubs had a .712 Defense efficiency rating last year (tied for 2nd in MLB).

So the Cubs' defense has played at almost the exact same level as last year.

no freddie bynum sightings at wrigley this week

wonder if mcfail made the trip

Comparing stats from two wildly dissimlar players is a slippery slope. In the '06 - '07 season, Zach Randolph averaged 23 and 10, while Tim Duncan averaged 20 and 10. All you have to do is watch these two guys play to realize who the better player is -- by far.

Can anyone here reasonably say that Matt Murton is anywhere near the player that Fukudome is? Come on, now. Is there another right fielder in the NL you'd prefer to have out there than Fukudome? Why?

Is he worth $12 million a year for four years? Who cares? In terms of free agent signings, who's made a bigger, more immediate (positive) impact on the Cubs throughout their dismal history? Dawson? Randy Myers? Mike Morgan? Anyone??

If it costs $12 million a year to get complete players who know what the hell they're doing out there, okay. Need I mention that Juan Pierre costs $9 million a year and Andruw Jones $18? Yeah, I'm okay with $12 million for Kosuke.

I like Orange Guy. He's got a good approach at the plate and gives you an honest effort. But the man has too many limitations for this club. If he just needs time and the right situation to blossom into the next Jason Bay, then why has he drawn such little interest from other teams?

Meanwhile, in just two and a half months on this continent, facing new pitchers, playing in new fields, adjusting to a new culture with new cuisine, Fukudome has established himself as one of the premier right fielders in the NL and one of the most well-rounded players I've seen in many years as a Cub fan.

Basketball and baseball stats are 2 completely seperate animals. Someone HAS to average a certain amount of points and rebounds on each team because a certain amount of points are scored each game. Jason Bay was traded 2 times for exactly the same reason Murton can't get a shot in Chicago. He doesnt look like a track and field guy in a baseball uniform. He got a shot, and Pittsburgh reaped the benefits. Carlos Quentin is another guy. Nobody wanted him. Arizona soured on him because he didnt have the natural tools of Upton or Young, or the Financial anchor of Byrnes. He gets traded to the South Side for .35 cents on the dollar. Look at him now. Fukudome IS the superior player to Murton today. He is also 4 years older and has been given a legitimate shot to develop. He is also in his prime. I just am of the opinion that Murton is a quality MLB hitter. We've all seen it. And we will see it for years to come once he is traded. I just hope it happens in another division.

Fukudome leads all NL RFers with 53 Runs Created and is second in the NL in defensive win shares.

On what planet does anyone think Matt Murton would be doing that? I love Matt Murton and he probably deserved a shot and it probably wasn't the best $12 MM spent, but it made the team better and the CUbs have the money to spend for this minor upgrades.

Matt Murton's problems are his own, just like Rich Hill. The guy can't even hit a homer in Iowa right now, I don't know why anyone wants to wait around for him to figure it out in Chicago when the Cubs don't have to and dont' have the luxury to wait for it. 

Fukudome's kicking his ass on every level at this moment. I know we all want the Cubs to win this year, not next year or in 3 years. Enjoy it...and hope Murton helps land Sabathia or Harden or Bedard.*

* I've surmised that the Cubs shouldn't waste any time except going after those 3 pitchers..and I'm a bit skeptical on Bedard**). 

** Did anyone notice that the LEAGUE ERA in the AL is 3.95 this year? They just have better pitchers or crappier hitting? The NL ERA is 4.44 right now.


Too bad Murton can 't play 2nd or SS.

What's the source for that league ERA data? I just checked, and they have NL 4.23 and AL 4.12.

surprisingly, Baseball Reference...

at least Eric Bedard and Zambrano's pages...

further examination shows that the lgERA on the player pages is park adjusted. Not exactly sure how that works, but my mistake.



I'd stay away from Bedard. His stuff is lauded but his approach and grit are consistently called into question. He doesn't go deep into games and comes down with some strange ailments. McLaren stopped short of calling him a gutless turd, but it's clear Bedard is all about Bedard. He's shown little interest in being a good teammate (sits in the clubhouse by himself on days he doesn't pitch), exudes no leadership and has poor work habits. No thanks.

Sabathia kind of crapped himself during the ALCS last year and I doubt we have the prospects to interest the Indians. He seems destined for the Bronx. Harden has the stuff, but his fragility is well-documented. He's only made 10 starts this season.

Speaking of injury-prone guys, the one who does interest me is Burnett. Yes, his era is crappy (due to control issues), but he seems motivated to come here and might flourish in this environment.

See, I told you comparing stats was a slippery slope! I was just hoping to illustrate that numbers don't tell the whole story, particularly about skill levels, team contributions, blah blah blah.

Maybe you're right that Murton just needs 600 PAs in a season or two to show what he's capable of. Hell, most Major Leaguers want that. I just see his ceiling as a league average corner outfielder in terms of offense and a below-average defensive outfielder. That would probably fly okay with several teams, including good ones. He does have a good eye and I love watching his balance and weight distribution as he swings. And he has shown power in bursts (including oppo power).

But he's the wrong fit on this team. I'd be perfectly happy keeping him on the bench, but you can only carry so many one-dimensional role players. Sure, he won't necessarily "hurt" you on the bases or in the field, but he won't offer you anything special in either regard. While guys like Hoffpauir or EPatt or Ward are no better defensively (for sure), they do offer that one special skill (power, speed, PHing, respectively) that Murton doesn't have.

The one semi-special skill Murton has is plate discipline (and plate coverage), and that will always travel well. He's also still young enough and cheap enough that I think he'll get a shot somewhere. What he and the Cubs could use right now is for him to go on an HR tear either in the bigs or in Iowa. It would up his trade value and generate some much needed interest.

well said Joe. I completely agree. My only caveat is that he is used to bring value back. I have hear far too much of the dump Murton for a used infield rake and a Loogy.

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  • in case it hasn't been mentioned yet, Twins are hiring Indians 32-year old Derick Falvey from the Cleveland Native Americans organization.

    Suppose McLeod could still be asked by another organization but likely staying put.

    Rob G. 18 min 21 sec ago view
  • Well put, both your remark, and Crunch's.

    Transmission 19 min 27 sec ago view
  • I saw the Gordon HR. It was like a funeral where the mourners were made to play baseball. So sad...

    CTSteve 23 min 38 sec ago view
  • i wanted to watch more of it, but it started to feel like i was going beyond witnessing a human experience that isn't often seen into an uncomfortable voyeurism. these guys are in pain.

    crunch 42 min 46 sec ago view
  • wow I am glad I missed the start of the MIA game.  I would have been sobbing.

    Transmission 51 min 54 sec ago view
  • Baez!!

    Brick 55 min 59 sec ago view
  • baez grand slam!

    crunch 56 min 4 sec ago view
  • lulz, MIA with a 5-0 lead after 2 innings.

    crunch 1 hour 24 min ago view
  • d.gordon leads off MIA inning with a HR...came up to bat wearing j.fernandez's helmet.

    he barely made it back into the dugout after crying his way around the bases.

    i can't watch this game anymore. it's too much...too real.

    crunch 1 hour 45 min ago view
  • FLA really doesn't look like they're mentally/physically prepared for this game. never seen anything like's not just a few people in the dugout still feeling it large, it's pretty much everyone.

    i doubt it will lead to some kinda error-filled little league quality game, but everyone looks drained and still draining.

    ...and onto the cubs game. go #100.

    crunch 1 hour 52 min ago view
  • The Marlins organization is obviously affected deeply by this. I feel for the people there. And I understand circumstances have changed.

    But retiring his number. Wow. Literally a week ago the rumor mill was fast and furious about how Fernandez was going to be traded this winter, with the front office in response doing almost nothing to deny it. And to turn around and retire his number, just like that, when they obviously felt the organization would have been better long-term without him, just reeks of insincerity.

    John Beasley 2 hours 29 min ago view
  • jose fernandez's number is going to be retired by FLA.

    there's custom jerseys on their way to tonight's game (and hopefully will make it on time). all the marlins are going to wear #16 tonight.

    this still sucks.

    crunch 4 hours 59 sec ago view
  • probably saturday depending on what they do with hammel (assuming friday for ham).

    crunch 8 hours 58 min ago view
  • Lester is going to get one more start, right? It sure would be nice to see him get a shot at 20 wins.

    Charlie 9 hours 29 min ago view
  • Nicely done! I think in my 10-14 games I went .500 or a little over. Strangely, I went to the Cards games they mostly lost (incl Saturday) and the one SF game they lost, plus a couple Brewers games they lost, too. I should have gone to just Reds games. But still - saw mostly very good baseball on the North Side this year. Regardless of what happens come October - the Cubs are positioned for some good times in the next 3-5 years.

    The E-Man 10 hours 53 min ago view
  • Attaboy!

    billybucks 11 hours 46 min ago view