Can Any Cub Anywhere Play This Game?

Taking a cue from his counterpart in the big leagues, Iowa Cub manager Bobby Dickerson held a pre-game meeting yesterday in the team's clubhouse at Principal Park in Des Moines. The team had made 10 errors in its previous three games.

After the meeting the troops went out and made three more in the process of losing 5-3 to the Sacramento Rivercats.

The battle of capital cities was also a battle of pitching prospects as former Cub Sean Gallagher opposed current hotshot Jeff Samardzija.

Gallagher rationed 89 pitches over seven strong innings to get the win. Samardzija labored while throwing 102 in just four plus and took the loss.

Jake Fox did manage to extend his hitting streak to 17 games with a single in his last at-bat, but be advised that he's also gone a season-long six game stretch without homering. He was also brushed by a pitch for the eighth time, another of the many categories in which he leads the league.

Samardzija is clearly working on stuff other than his fastball. After the first inning he seemed to start most batters with some kind of breaking pitch. All told he threw first pitch strikes to 15 of the 24 hitters he faced, but the Rivercats reached him for eight hits in his short, pitchy stint.

In the Sacramento 3rd, he came a little undone after CF Sam Fuld approached a routine single like it was a rattlesnake for a two-base error. Samardzija issued a four-pitch walk and then wild-pitched a run home, cussing his way back to the mound in his best Zambrano impression after the ump called the runner safe on a close play at the plate.

Between the starting pitchers and I-Cub reliever Vince Perkins the scoreboard radar gun was registering in the mid to upper 90's throughout. Perkins comes near the century mark.

Jeremy Blevins, the chip that brought us Jason Kendall a couple years back, relieved Gallagher in the 8th and surrendered a run in less than an inning; right in keeping with his ERA of nearly seven.

Leading off for the Rivercats and playing CF was Eric Patterson who managed two hits and a run scored. Patterson also swiped his 19th base in 23 tries. I-Cub catcher Chris Robinson leads PCL catchers in fielding percentage but he, Mark Johnson and Jake Fox have combined to catch only seven out of 48 base stealers this year. The Cub organization doesn't seem to put much premium on either efficient pitch counts [how many years running have they led the NL in strikeouts?] or the holding of runners.

OTHER ODDITIES: After Richie Robnett tripled in a run in the bottom of the 2nd Dickerson ordered a squeeze bunt on consecutive pitches; both were popped foul and glanced off the glove of Sacramento's diving third baseman...eerie similarity: even though it was almost completely rebuilt as recently as 1992, Principal Park has chunks of concrete falling off just like Wrigley Field! Three small areas of the place have been closed to the public for the duration of the homestand which ends on Thursday...Fox was out from here to Chicago trying to go 1st to 3rd on a single to right - it appeared that the bad idea was Dickerson's in the 3rd base coaching box...Fox has now played 29 games @ 1B, two @ DH, one @ 3B, one in LF, and two @ catcher...Dickerson loves to bunt - in Sunday's game the team loaded the bases on three straight and yesterday's attempted squeeze[s] came after two successes earlier in the week...MW

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Comments

Thanks, Mike!

And DANG, I didn't know Perkins had that kind of heat. I am unsure of how he was acquired-- from Baseball Cube it looks like he was probably signed as a minor league free agent? I am guessing he's a Wilken draftee from the Toronto days.

Perkins minor league K/9 is 8.8, fwiw.

Well, the Cubs season is over 25% done, and we are through Memorial Day, so I think it is the first truly fair time to take the temperature of the team. So let me give my take of the season AS A WHOLE thus far.

The Cubs are 21-22, and in 4th place in the NL Central. Currently, they are 5 games behind Milwaukee, 4 games behind St. Louis and 2.5 games behind Cincinnati. At one game under .500, this is tied for the team’s low-water mark for the season in terms of games over/under .500.

OFFENSE (Grade D+): The Cubs have really struggled scoring runs thus far this season. After leading the league last year, the Cubs are currently 11th in the NL is runs scored. Now clearly some of that has to do with injuries to some key players:
- Aramis Ramirez has been on the DL since May 9th with a dislocated shoulder.
- Geovany Soto, while not visiting the DL, has had a banged up shoulder and has missed time.
- Milton Bradley has had some legs issues and missed some time.

But the suckitude at the plate thus far can’t be blamed soles on injuries. Many of the starters (and bench players) thus far just are not hitting, and it is not “still early” anymore. While these players can still clearly turn things around, when we are past Memorial Day it is time to start worrying about some of these players.
Soto - .214/.331/.277/.608
Lee - .248/.314/.416/.730
Fontenot - .208/.299/.368/.667
Bradley - .198/.314/.376/.690
Miles - .204/.250/.265/.515
Johnson - .238/.319/.333/.653
Lee has shown signs of coming out of his funk over the past 6 games he has played in, so hopefully he is turning the corner, but the other guys are big worries in my opinion. I am not sure if someone like Soto or Bradley are hiding injuries thus not letting them perform at their best, but hitting around .200 this far into the season with the expectations around each of them is just not good. In Bradley’s case, that is not even taking into account other LH OF’s that Hendry could have signed that are having real good seasons (Ibanez and Abreau). Bradley at this point has been an absolute failure. He has not been fan friendly, media friendly, cries about the umpires too much, and most importantly he has performed miserably so far. I saw a sign early on of the Bradley situation turning into a JJ situation and unfortunately it has become pretty close. He better get things turned around ASAP or it could become very ugly at Wrigley with him and his shitty attitude and temperament.

The Cubs offense has had some bright spots, most notably the resurgence thus far of Kosuke Fukudome (I have been totally wrong thus far about him as I never though he was going to rebound, but this is about the time last year he started to fall off.). He, along with Ramirez, has been the two anchors this season. Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Theriot and Micah Hoffpauir have also had been productive at times, but all are now slumping pretty badly as of late.

The bench is weak overall. I don’t think we could have expected much out of Gathright, Freel, Miles, Scales, etc., but Koyie Hill has been a pleasant surprise when he has filled in for Soto.

The offense will clearly get better when Ramirez gets back and some of these players start breaking out of their season long slump, which most, if not all will eventually do. It is just when will that happen and will it be too late?

STARTING PITCHING (Grade C+): The Cubs have also struggled a little bit for them in starting pitching, but they have also had injuries to Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden. They are currently 8th in the NL in ERA (4.26) for starting pitching, but when their staff is all together and healthy I wouldn’t be surprised to see them move up that ranking and easily sneak into the top 3-5. I don’t believe they will make it back to the top like last year with a 3.75 ERA, but starting pitching is not a worry in my mind. The Cubs currently have Wells and Marshall who can fill that 5th spot with the other in the pen for long relief. So right now depth is not an issue as long as the main four (Z, Harden, Lilly and Dempster) are healthy. Now if one of them goes down for long term, then Hendry will need to go out and look for another arm. But let’s please think positively about this one.

RELIEF PITCHING (Grade F): The Cubs relief corps has been very bad overall as a group. They are currently 14th in the NL in ERA (5.23). The Cubs have tried a few arms (Fox and Smardzija) from the minors to help out, but they didn’t work out. The Cubs also let go of Jose Vizcaino while he was supporting a 0.00 ERA, which many attribute to some kind of bad clubhouse behavior which hasn’t really been addressed yet by Lou or Jim to my recollection. Marmol hasn’t been his dominating self of the past couple years, but he is coming off a big workload from last year and is on pace to come close to matching that this year. Gregg has had his ups and downs. He struggled early on, but has settled down this month, but I think we can all expect a roller coaster ride with him through out the season and not any kind of slam the door shut closer we all wish we could have had. Guzman has been actually been pretty good by keeping his BB’s down and giving the Cubs solid innings. Patton and Cotts are an absolute waste of space on the Cubs roster. Firstly, Lou hasn’t used Patton very much and is basically hiding him in the pen to keep the Rule 5 guy on the team. And when he does pitch he just doesn’t look good. But being 5 games down in the division, this is not the time to try and hold on to some single A pitcher. As for Cotts, there is absolutely no reason to have him on this team anymore. Firstly, he sucks. Secondly, he can’t get out LH hitters, the only reason he is on the team. Hendry has been so willing to eat contracts and cut bait on other players this year, I can’t understand why he won’t do the same to Cotts. There has got to be some kid in the minors that can do at least what Cotts is doing. Please, cut bait and move on Mr. Hendry. But honestly besides Marmol getting a little better and Gregg possibly being more consistent, I am not sure where any realistic improvement can come from in the relief corps. I don’t see another option besides going out and getting an arm in a trade.

OVERALL (Grade C-): After performing so well last year and a $140MM payroll this year I don’t think many people would have predicted this team to be under .500 even at this point in the season. While the season is not over and the Cubs shouldn’t be sellers, there are some definite holes that need to be filled (relief pitching and another bat). It does not look likely that any productive long term moves can come from the dismal farm system. And of course I have very little confidence in Jim Hendry to make the necessary trades to get those whole filled properly. But, another worry is the team’s latest stretch. I looked at the overall numbers for the most part and didn’t have the past 8 games weigh too heavy on the season to date, but this clearly has to be a concern as it appears not having ARam in the lineup has finally caught up to the Cubs and they just have way too many players just not hitting all at once. This team can still be a 90 win team. They need to get healthy though as priority #1 and then improve their bullpen. If they can do those two things then it will all come down to if these slumping players can turn things around or a bat can be added to the lineup to spark that improvement. As always, as a Cubs fan I am skeptical, but will be cheering them on every game.

Go Cubs!!

P.S. You may all now nitpick and flame away…:)

It must be wall of text day.

Got anything you'd like to get off your chest in 5,000 characters or more?

Let me sum it up for you:

$140 million payroll. 1 game below .500. C- grade.

Man - THAT was concise!

Offense: D+
Starting pitching: C-
Relief pitching: F

Well, as you know, there's currently a huge gap between ability and performance. I would agree the offense is performing at a D- level. They're capable of an A offense.

I think you're being too harsh on the starting pitching. They're decent.

I don't get your "cut bait" reference. The idiom is "fish or cut bait" similar to "put up or shut up." People who cut bait are sitting on the sidelines not participating in the action. If you want Hendry to cut bait, you can be assured he already is.

Yeah I don't get it either. What's he trying to say? I just don't get it. It's too confusing.

Thanks for the idiomatic lesson though. We are all much the wiser, I'm sure.

Yeah, when you're trying to make a point always say the opposite of what you mean. Brilliant!

Missing parts bait. Members of the 2008 Cubs team cut by Hendry.

How they're doing so far...

Wallflowers:
Jon Lieber - unsigned age 39
Jim Edmonds - unsigned and 39
Daryle Ward - unsigned age 34
------------------------------------------------------------

Active:

Henry Blanco - Padres - 3HR, .176 .263 .373// CS- 36%
(Geovany Soto's CS- 22%)

Felix Pie - Orioles - OPS+ 50, lost LF starting job, .190 .269 .310 , career may have been saved when Lou Montanez injured his thumb

Mark DeRosa - Indians - OPS+ 94 and rising after a slow start, 7HR 30RBI (T20 in AL), .260 .327 .429

Ronny Cedeno - Mariners - .188 .250 .375, OPS is right around his career average

Matt Murton - Rockies - .276 .323 .517, back up with the big club

Rich Hill - Orioles - 2 starts, 1-0 3.18 ERA 12 K's/11.1 IP

Jason Marquis - Rockies - 6-3 4.45 ERA, just Jason doing his first half thing. I would have kept Marquis until the All-Star break then tried to deal him for someone we could actually use.

Chad Gaudin - Padres - 1-3 5.40 starting pitcher, 7.02 BB/9IP makes for a fat 1.59 WHIP

Scott Eyre - Phillies - 3.48 ERA but sucky 7.0 BB/9!, reduced to a limited role, 10.1 IP in 18 appearances

Kerry Wood - Indians - the closer sports a 7.20 ERA and 1.80 WHIP, 'nuff said

Michael Wuertz - A's - 2-1 1.96 ERA 0.83 WHIP, ouch!

Bob Howry - Giants - his 1.53 WHIP is actually higher than last year, only allowed one home run in 17 innings though

Kevin Hart - Iowa - struggling as a relief pitcher, 0-3 5.18

Jeff Samardzija - Iowa - 6 starts, 1-1 4.40 ERA, took a 1.03 WHIP into last night's start but didn't last 5 innings

Carmen Pignatiello - Rochester AAA (Twins) - 11 Earned Runs in 7.0 IP

Like many others, I never understood what Hendry was smoking when he dumped 2008 team MVP Mark DeRosa and the perennially effective Michael Wuertz. Still don't. We could use both of them.

Ward is playing in Charlotte.

Thanks! If I left anyone off the list let me know.

Ward for Charlotte AAA, .340 .436 .574 47AB

You missed that Scott Eyre is broke.

The rumor mill is interesting. Lot of Cubs talk, probably because they're one of the few teams that could ostensibly take some salary on. I'm not sure how true that is with the ownership thing and Ricketts selling girl scout cookies to pay the payroll, but there's the rumors anyways.

Apparently Peavy only interested in being moved to the Dodgers or Cubs. I think it's clear at this point it's a salary dump and they'll pretty much take anything for him. The question is, even if he's given to you, does the Cubs rotation need another 10M+/year starter or should they look at improving other pieces of the team? I say pull the trigger. Cy young caliber pitchers won't be lying around the trading block like this when the economy improves.

Also interesting that the Rox might be nearing firesale status.

Plus if the Cubs got Peavy, how awkward would it make the Cubs-Sox inter-league games? I think Peavy v Bartolo Colon would be awesome.

In some sort of video game world where payroll doesn't mean anything, I'd love to have Peavy. In the real world, I'm really worried that acquiring him would mean no flexibility in terms of addressing the club's actual problems (i.e. offense and bullpen).

Also, the final year of his contract gets really ugly ($22 million, if I'm not mistaken) if he's not a perennial Cy Young contender. IMO, there are very few guys in the league that should make that kind of dough, and he's just not one of them.

Right, I can definitely see your point. Still, like I said, when things improve you won't see guys like this just sitting around looking for someone who can pay him.

You're probably right about that. I'm just concerned that the Cubs can't really pay him because they need to pay someone else instead (hopefully a big bat, although I don't really know where you'd put a big bat on this team unless you can convince Lee to waive his NTC).

What happened to all the low payroll teams willing to give up their superstars before they had to pony up the big extensions? Getting Aramis from the Pirates was the absolute best kind of trade - the Cubs got a young stud with his best years ahead of him because his former team knew they couldn't afford to keep him.

These days, teams like the Rays are somehow convincing their young superstars to sign long term extensions for way below market (see: Longoria, Evan).

Anyway, Peavy concerns me because his best years likely aren't ahead of him, his road splits aren't that good, and his salary eliminates any flexibility the Cubs would have for the next few years. Seems like a big risk to take to fill a tiny hole in the dam when water's gushing through elsewhere.

Maybe you could find a taker for Dempster if you got Peavy?

Geez, of the two you would think Peavy would be easier to move if you had to and SD is having trouble moving him. Demp earning 12 mil this year, also has a NTC.

The Padres are finding out just how easy it is to move Peavy right now.

If the Cubs continue their current trajectory those NTCs become less of an issue. Nobody wants to play for a .440 team getting booed out of their park every night by 30,000 really pissed off fans. The Cubs aren't there yet, of course.

Not sure that Peavy is hard to move as much as Peavy doesn't want to go anywhere.

Huh?

When comparing the two (Peavy vs. Dempster), you would think it would be easier to trade Peavy (making $11MM this year) than Dempster (making $12MM this year w/ signing bonus). But trading anyone with a NTC is never easy, especially when one of them is in a great pitchers park, great weather city and team is on a 10-game winning streak.

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090525&c...

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090526&c...

current leaders
C - Molina
1B - Pujols
2B - Utley
SS - Hardy
3B - D. Wright
OF - Braun, Soriano, Beltran

I assume Brewers had a lot of home games as their 2nd or 1st at most of the spots.

"Bradley at this point has been an absolute failure. He has not been fan friendly, media friendly, cries about the umpires too much, and most importantly he has performed miserably so far..."

But other than that, Mr. Lincoln, how'd you like the play?

I think Navigator needs to point out how you butchered the joke.

Soriano, Theriot, Fukudome, Bradley, Hoffpauir, Fontenot, Hill, Freel, Marshall

Won't that leave Zambrano as the 2nd left handed bat off the bench(assuming the Scaled one is still sick)?

Didn't Scales p-hit yesterday?

I believe that makes the bench Soto, Johnson, Miles, Scales with Lee still stick but supposedly feeling better according to Muskat.

Muskat also says the weather not looking good for tonight.

"I think Navigator needs to point out how you butchered the joke."

I'll just blame Wilkens...and Fleita...and Hendry.

it's been a while since larry rothschild has been dragged through the mud in a fan freakout, so i'll blame him.

there were so so so many bad moves made in last night's game...i'm still getting over Z hitting instead of fukudome. they already let asscan hit for himself only to replace him at the top of the inning. i could care less how many people think it's cute to watch him swing as hard as he can at something (that something usually a fastball when it turns into good contact), fukudome is a professional hitter and soriano follows him. if you're gonna bat soriano first don't give away the #9 slot.

gotta agree on that one...I don't care if Z pinch-hits early in a game or of there's a good reason to save a guy for later, but that was a pretty crucial moment. Fukudome did have a brutal road trip but so did everyone else and he had a nice homestand before that. Now if it was Miles sitting on the bench, I wouldn't have cared as much.

Besides utter stupidity, my only other guess is that Pirates would have gone with a lefty there and either Lou has to burn someone else (if anyone else is even left) or have Fukudome face the lefty and just strike out.

pinella's most crucial move of the night was getting out of the dugout fast enough to get between the ump and freel on a play freel was VERY upset about. freel chilled out real quick when pin got there and walked away.

freel was the last available IF'r since scales (who would most likely only be available to PH, anyway) was used earlier.

Have we seen this?

http://deadspin.com/5270503/carlos-marmol-leaves-t...

"Cub reliever Carlos Marmol is taking a leave of absence from his day job to fly to New York, as his wife is scheduled to give birth there this week. So then who was the very non-pregnant "female companion" he was snuggling with two weeks ago?..."

i briefly mentioned something in an earlier thread, didn't have a pic though...

stay classy, Carlos.

Marmol impregnating anyone is very impressive. I imagine his junk dropping down and to the left every time he tries to copulate.

There's a good joke in here somewhere, poor delivery. Sorry.

Tonights lineups (just reported on WSCR):

Cubs: Umpire, Umpire, Umpire, Umpire, Umpire, Umpire, Umpire, Umpire, Umpire SP (21-22)
Pirates: Umpire, Umpire, Umpire, Umpire, Umpire, Umpire, Umpire, Umpire, Umpire SP (21-24)

Lee better, can probably pinch hit...Scales worse, probably not available.

Valley fever, swine flu?

http://muskat.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/05/526_qui...

Rich Harden, who is on the DL with low back problems, has yet to start a throwing program, so he may not be ready to return when his 15-day stint is up. If Harden was healthy, Lou Piniella said he'd probably move Sean Marshall to the bullpen to give him another left-hander. Right now, Neal Cotts is the only option.

I caught some of the pregame meeting with Lou and reporters. He basically said they don't know anything about Harden yet because he hasn't started throwing. He is still getting treatment. Once he starts throwing they'll have an idea of what his arm will need to be ready for pitching. It's a non-arm injury, so there is a chance he starts throwing here in a day or two and feels simply like he had a few extra days off between starts, does a simulated game, and then rejoins the rotation. Then again, he could feel like he needs awhile to get sharp again before doing so.

Also, from seeing Lou's facial expression, Cotts is as good as dead. Lou said flat out: "we need a lefty in the bullpen that can get lefties out, it's as simple as that." After which he made the note about using Marshall in that role if Harden weren't on the DL. Sounds like when Harden is back Well stays, Marshall to the pen, and Cotts likely gone.

He went further to note that he wanted to use Guzman in that situation, but since Marmol was gone he was saving Guzman for Marmol's place in the pen, and was forced to then use Cotts.

"since Marmol was gone he was saving Guzman for Marmol's place in the pen"

Basically, the reporters should have put a dunce cap on him right then. Even Dusty didn't do things that stupid.

Vitters hit his 11th in the first inning tonight. That's 8 (so far) in the last 10 games.

Added a single and a seldom seen walk, before I go to bed. Also started a 5-4-3 DP.

Fearless prediction: Everyone on this board will be happy we didn't make the Peavy trade 3 years from now.

*edit - Oh shit, Carpenter struck out the side in the first then came out. I am assuming that's not because he got called up to Daytona.

Speaking of Daytona... Cashner gave up one run on three hits on five innings tonight. On the season he's got a 2.41 ERA with 24K's, 8BB's and no HR's in 23.2 innings.

I also noticed that Carpenter got pulled after one inning.

There was a 1:35 rain delay in that game-- is it possible the delay was after the first inning and they didn't want Carpenter going back out afterward?

I hope so, though the opposing pitcher may have.

Hey dudes,

Any idea on the rain delay?

Team seems to be playing well tonight, no?

Let it rain...Let it rain...Let it rain

Take the W any way you can.

game called. cubs win. wee.

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