(Cubbie) Blue Dominates Red Once Again

The Cubs won their third in a row and take the opener versus the Cincinnati Reds on a cold and windy night at Wrigley. Rich Harden and Aramis "Two-out RBI" Ramirez did the heavy lifting with some assistance from Micah Hoffpauir and Chris Dickerson's glove.

Why the Cubs Won: From what I was able to watch, Rich Harden rebounded quite nicely from his last start, needing just 92 pitches to get through six innings while fanning eight. If the Cubs weren't already up by five, you have to think he could have easily come out for the 7th inning. The mid 90's velocity still isn't there as he sat in the 89-92 range (topping out at 93 mph), but he dazzled the Reds with his lethal fastball/change combo. There was a bit of a scare in the fifth when  Wily Taveras hit a sharp grounder up the middle off Harden's glove that ricocheted to his right. Harden scampered to try and make the play but his cleats failed him and he landed face down in the grass, groin and shoulder still in tact though.

Aramis came through with the big hits tonight, a two-out RBI single in the fifth - an opportunity that was only afforded to him thanks to Chris Dickerson dropping a Derrek Lee flyball two at-bats earlier. Then in the 6th, he picked up Reed Johnson who struck out with the bases loaded to drive in two more - once again with two outs - which pretty much put the game away. Hoffpauir kept up his torrid start with his first home run of the season in the second and then hit a sac fly to center before curiously being pinch-hit for in the sixth.

Fail: After Harden showed off his speed beating out a well-placed sac bunt attempt to load the bases in the 2nd, Alfonso Soriano struck out and then Kosuke Fukudome flied to center to end the threat. Neal Cotts faced three batters, giving up a hit, another walk and striking out one.  Geovany Soto air-mailed a throw to second base that Ryan Theriot made a nice play on to keep from going to the outfield and almost got the swipe tag out on a stolen base attempt by Joey Votto. Replays made it look like he did get Votto on the hand, but the bad throw by Soto made it a tough call for the ump. After Jay Bruce fouled a ball to the Bartman seat where a fan made the catch, Bruce immediately singled in the Reds second run. The crowd, for no good reason, booed the fan who caught the ball although Soriano wasn't going to make the play, and the ball was farther in the stands than in Game 6. A rogue calico cat launched from the bleachers took a swipe at a grounds crew member before getting tossed by its tail. And the MLB.tv delay that is about 10 pitches behind this year.

Armchair Managing: In the 6th, with the bases loaded and Micah Hoffpauir due up, Lou pinch-hits with Reed Johnson when the Dustinator goes to lefty Daniel Herrera. A reasonable move with Johnson's .837 OPS vs. lefties in his career, plus with the Cubs up three at the time, a defensive upgrade. But Hoffpauir already hit a home run plus a deep sac fly to center and has been scorching hot since about 2007. Johnson unfortunately struck out, although Ramirez picked him up with a 2-out, 2-RBI single, but I'm not sure you want to take the bat out of a hot hitter's hands.

Death Pool: Neal Cotts leads the way but  0-for-2009 Joey Gathright is making a strong case for the first player to get dropped from the original 25-man roster.

(Photo credit: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

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Comments

think gath is probably safe...he's supposedly a great clubhouse guy and doesn't mind bench work. lou seems to like him, he's got speed, and he can adequately play all 3 OF slots.

i dunno if the guy will get 200ab, but i bet he'll see 80+ games. gath is 0 for 4...1bb, 8 games.

is there a reason why we don't get game threads here? are they on a different page?

we won't be doing game threads for the most part this year, just use the last post.

damn recession.

Yep. Rob can no longer afford to pay the helper monkeys.

actually, ad revenus has been cut quite significantly, but mostly none of us liked doing them.

Sounds like you need to "hire" an "intern" to put up a game thread every day.

What a shame we couldn't get through a 7-2 game without having to go to Marmol.

Re: the Dickerson error...
I think Kasper had it right--Dickerson had to be affected by how close the ball came to hitting the edge of the basket. Too bad D-Lee hit that ball into that wind, but worked out for us anyhow.

Did that cat really get chucked from the bleachers? How the hell do you get into the stadium with an adult cat? And furthermore, how do you sit in the bleachers for a good hour and a half with a cat without getting mauled or noticed by security? Crazy.

I've got Cotts in the first to be DFA'd pool. Lou didn't look very pleased with him. At least the car jumper can pinch run, Cotts offers nothing at this point.

Prediction: Marshall gets the shaft again. Cotts to Iowa, Samninja to Chicago rotation, Marshall to Chicago pen.

That cat must have gotten in by its own means. The heaviest coats and blankets would not protect you from a furious, trapped cat.

Is there anything in Wrigley Field rules barring you from bringing a cat to a game?

Unless it was a seeing-eye cat, yes.

Pets: Animals, except for service animals assisting visitors with disabilities, are not permitted on Wrigley Field property.

http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/chc/ballpark/guide.jsp

Maybe it was a talking cat, brought in by a mute. Probably didn't consider that, did you, Brick?

"The cat's vocal apparatus differs from our own and is not designed with speech in mind."

http://www.messybeast.com/cat_talk.htm

Another brilliant, beautiful theory of mine...killed by ugly facts.

I'm not certain that www.messybeast.com is peer reviewed.

As soon as I submitted that, I knew someone would look it up. Damn Internet.

According to a couple of posters on Sun Times web site (fwiw) they saw that cat chucked from first row of left field bleachers.

Drunks, racists and now cruelty to animals.

Calico cat was there to sing in the 7th inning stretch?

or at least recite some T.S. Elliot poetry.

(i'm back from a slow boat in china)

Welcome back, Dr. Hecht!

Are you sure it wasn't a sloe boat in china?

GUBSTER?! Are you really back? We gots to talk!

Cat wearing a goat mask--not allowed.

How long is it going to take before Lou moves Aramis up to 3rd in the batting order. Having the 1.000+ OPS's of Soriano, Fuku and Ramy at the top of the order to get the most at bats makes sense doens't it?

Watching DLee bat these days hurts my eyes, he's got to get moved down in the order.

I think the larger question is if Lee's decline continues (which I am not fully convinced it won't), how long can you keep running him out there every game.

As long as our infield's poor throws keep getting caught by Lee. As long as he keeps saving errors.

Hoffapauir is not far behind Lee in fielding ability.

Yeah, I hear Hoff is good at first and don't get me wrong, Hoffpauir is nice, but Lee is a gold glover and easily one of the top 1B in baseball. With as much thunder as the Cubs have in the lineup, I gladly take a production hit starting Lee over Hoff. Of course, I definitely would bat him 6th or thereabouts. Lee hit 6th & 7th for many many years, so I don't understand the reluctance to move him down the lineup. That, to me, is puzzling.

Yeah, I don't get it either. DLee doesn't seem like a prima donna, so moving him down in the order shouldn't hurt his ego or anything.

If Aramis can get moved off his usual clean-up spot, Lee can get moved off his 3 spot. And Lou can't even use his Soriano excuse that the 3 hole is the only place he can hit, since he hasn't been able to hit for power since 2005.

Lee has always said he doesn't care where he bats and I do think Ramirez should bat third, but Lee has hardly been struggling lately.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?n...

.320/.379/.520 on the homestand...3 multi-hit games in 6 played. Sounded like he had a HR last night if not for the wind that was blowing out to right.

Well, he is 1 for his last 10, but yes, he did have a couple of good games on this homestand which has helped raise his average to a robust .200 - right on the Mendoza line.

But, regardless of his stats, his lack of power or clutch hitting is more the concern.

I don't know what I love more about Cotts:
A. His 3.33 WHIP
B. His .385 BAA

I think it has become when, not if, as to Cotts being released.

Doesn't Cotts have an option left? Why release him?

The hit last night was a ground ball, but then he fell apart on that walk. Still I would have left him in for at least one more batter. You can't pitch when after every hitter you have to look over your shoulder to see if your manager is coming to get you. This is just Eyre v 2.0.

You can't pitch when after every hitter you have to look over your shoulder to check the runner you just walked.

Yeah, I know it doesn't quite work since he's a lefty. But still.

My point is that as a manager in baseball, just like a manager in almost any organization, your most important task is to help your players succeed. Lou may do that with position players (I don't think that's the case either) but he is totally gormless about it when it comes to pitchers.

Well, I just learned a new word.

I agree, Lou does have a short leash with his pitchers and it's exacerbated when they walk guys, but what is he supposed to do? Just let Cotts keep failing? If he leaves him in to walk the bases loaded last night and someone manages a hit or a HR, all of a sudden we're looking at a real tight game that should have been a blow out.

Right now, the only time I trust Cotts is if we're already losing by 10 runs or so. Lou can try to help him succeed all he wants, but if you can't get the job done there's only so much positive reinforcement a manager can give.

We know Cotts can be effective, but he's not right now and Iowa is the right place for him to get it back together.

It's the three-base walks that really bother Lew.

Charlie, according to the TCR 40-man roster Cotts doesn't have an option left...I was in your boat thinking he did though

From AZ Phil, a couple of threads back.

Q-BALL: Neal Cotts is only making $1.1M, so I wouldn't be surprised if the Cubs DFA him and see if anyone is interested, and if nobody is interested, the Cubs could try to outright him to AAA. He can refuse an outright assignment because he has three-plus years of MLB service time, but if he refuses, he terminates his contract and the Cubs don't owe him any termination pay.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Personally, I'd have given Cotts one more hitter last night. He'd actually recorded an out, so he was having a great outing (for him). Single was a roller up the middle. It seems to me as a manager you need to have a range of responses, from pat-on-the-back to ass-kicking. Also seems to me that Lou has a pretty small range of responses to struggling pitchers.

well this is uncomfortable, like we showed up to work wearing the same dress...

You wear a dress to work?

sometimes...is there a problem?

I guess not. I just would have pegged Chad or Trans to be TCR's link to the LGBT community.

Ed Wood taught me that crossdressing is not an element of LGBT...unless you're substituting transsexual with transvestite.

Touche. Eddie Izzard, too, I guess.

Chad's probably been pegged before.

I'm gonna take that as a gay joke.

Cotts is out of options but may be willing to be sent to the minors to keep his salary. As per usual, AZ Phil lays out the scenario...

http://thecubreporter.com/2009/04/20/tcr-donation-...

Self-serving spam alert: my interview with Len Kasper, mostly about music:

http://www.magnetmagazine.com/2009/04/22/qa-with-c...

Nice job. I'll have to figure out what power pop is. I always thought it was The Smithereens, but they don't get a mention so I must be way off.

That ball Lee hit would definitely have been a homer. It missed by about two feet with the wind.

The wind was blowing so hard, cats were flying all over the place.

I'd say the Smithereens qualify, but it's a pretty wide genre. Len's never mentioned them, but I'll bet he likes some of their stuff.

Lou has always liked Cotts--at least theoretically--and has been unusually patient with him considering what he's gotten from Cotts in return.

One of my first impressions of Lou was him raving about Cotts' arm in spring training '07.

For the money he's making, it would be a shame to give up on Cotts. He had a great spring training, so I'm not sure what happened mentally between then and now, but you can tell he is fighting himself just to throw strikes.

I've seen Cotts pitch in a game 3 times this season, and every time there has been a shot of Lou Piniella in the dugout bitching at Rothschild after a walk. I'm sure Lou's already tiny level of patience he normally has is wearing razor thin, but I think we are better off having Cotts work through his issues rather than jumbling our roster and moving Marshall to relief so we can bring Samardzija up to start.

I'm not sure why we didn't make a Cotts-like offer to Joe Beimel. Since he signed a $2MM contract with Washington, he probably could have been had for less to play to a contender (you would think).

http://espn.go.com/chicago/columns/blog?post=40861...

As far as the possibility of trades, some teams have contacted the Cubs about their relief corps. The Cubs can't send either David Patton or Angel Guzman to the minors without going through the waiver process. Guzman is out of options; Patton, because of the Rule 5 draft in December 2008, must stay on the big league team all season or be subject to waivers before he can return to the minors. The Cubs would lose both pitchers without compensation if they tried to put them through the waiver process.

In the short term, look for Samardzija to be called up as soon as the Cubs can trade one of their relievers.

Alright, so which one of you is scassidy42?

I think it is time to start giving Vizcaino some more high leverage innings. He is our 3rd best reliever, IMO (outside of Gregg and Marmol).

That really scares me. Vizcaino has a history of catastrophic late inning collapses. I mean really epic stuff.

He's got good stuff, but when he gets excited or in trouble, that slider tends to REALLY flatten out.

I think me and Lou think that Heilman is the Cubs 3rd best reliever. Guzman and Patton next (in either order), and Vizcaino just ahead of Cotts.

I would hate to see Guzman go, after all the work and time the Cubs have put into him and the quality of stuff he has, it seems like we are just now seeing what he can do.

If they can trade Patton for a lefty specialist or AAA prospect, it would seem to be worth it.

http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/video?id...

amazingly ESPN guy thinks Soriano was going to make the catch in that clip. The ball was either going to hit the top of the railing or the side of the wall.

ESPN-
ENTERTAINMENT

sports
program
network

*interrupts the thread to show a live barry bonds AB*

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  • I don't hate Coghlan as a PHer but he's leading off today which is as bad as Austin Jackson doing so last year. He doesn't even have the speed.

    johann 3 min 17 sec ago view
  • TLS has options. He will be up again in Sept, and maybe earlier.

    Rob Richardson 13 min 59 sec ago view
  • Very odd -- TLS .308/.419 in July (in 26 AB). Strange move for a team struggling to score runs. Hard to imagine Coghlan doing better than that. Maybe they like Coghlan better as a PH?

    billybucks 24 min 24 sec ago view
  • Sorry to nitpick -- but the first game wasn't a save.

    billybucks 39 min 8 sec ago view
  • Wow La Stella sent to Iowa and Coghlan brought up. I'm not a huge Stella fan but he has been hitting lately and is to me better than Coghlan. Neither are good defensively but I guess Coghlan can play the outfield allowing Bryant to stay at 3rd more where he's better.

    johann 40 min 37 sec ago view
  • Not 2nd to last but Cubs are definitely bottom of the pack in the 2nd half in oWAR and wRC+. #1 in dWAR though which is certainly a good sign for the playoffs.

    johann 45 min 42 sec ago view
  • I was going to say that you wouldn't want Heyward to achieve Soriano's OBP--.317 with the Cubs--but now I see that he's already done that. Pitchers have lost their fear of him.

    Oh, well, at least Chapman seems to be as good as advertised.

    VirginiaPhil 54 min 19 sec ago view
  • Thanks to E-man and Quiet Man for the link on Chapman in a previous post. It's funny because I never really noticed Chapman's delivery until I saw him doing it in a blue uniform. Two saves in a Cubs uniform already. I hope they don't need him today, despite that smooth delivery.

    Old and Blue 56 min 16 sec ago view
  • Cubs are middle of the pack in average, 5th in OPS, 2nd in walks, 4th in runs scored in MLB. Their runs scored ranks 17th in the MLB in July.

    Boston, leading everything, continues to rake in July.

    Old and Blue 58 min 43 sec ago view
  • Lester has given up one run or fewer in 11 starts this year. So I'd answer yes. Three of his last four starts were duds, yes. Not worried about him at all. Arrieta is concerning, to be sure. I look it at as, what he was doing was historic, so the regression was bound to happen. He showed in his start against the Mets that he's still capable, and I'd bet on him regaining his form.

    Tito 1 hour 55 min ago view
  • marlins getting a.cashner and c.rea from SD

    crunch 2 hours 1 min ago view
  • This is not an attack...But In what stat are the Cubs second from last in MLB, in hitting? I don't see this.

    Dusty Baylor 3 hours 8 min ago view
  • How odd the stats:

    Cubs 1st in pitching in MLB

    2nd to last in hitting.

    In May they were 1st in both.

    The E-Man 3 hours 24 min ago view
  • trevor clifton (high-A) could be interesting in a couple seasons...could even become a high/middle rotation guy. he's got a lot of pluses in his pitching except control.

    eric leal's (high-A) progression through the minors should be worth watching even if only projects to be an mid/end-rotation starter.

    we also gotta keep a long-distance eye on guys like jose paulino (ss-A) and preston morrison (A).

    crunch 12 hours 3 min ago view
  • As Johnny Bach used to say when it was time for the MJ Bulls to crank up the defensive pressure: "Release the Dobermans!", and Jordan, Pippen, Rodman and Harper would just suffocate the other team.

    I'd love to add Carl Jr. to that group - he's got the stuff.

    billybucks 12 hours 23 min ago view
  • Historically, the Moneyball guys have been great at identifying productive hitters. Not so much with pitchers.

    billybucks 12 hours 24 min ago view