You Are Now Free to Vomit: Cubs End Homestand with Loss to (Gulp!) Astros

The Cubs squandered another superb start, this one by Ryan Dempster, and lost 3-2 to the Astros in 10 innings Sunday afternoon. To make matters worse, the bullpen culprits on this day were the Cubs' two relief studs so far this young season, Carlos Marmol, who surrendered the tying run in the 9th, and Sean Marshall, who took the loss after allowing a double by Jason Michaels and a sacrifice fly by Pedro Feliz in the 10th. To make matters worser, the the now 5-7 Cubs wound up dropping two of the three games to Houston, thus ending the season's first homestand at 3-3. To make matters even worser, the Astros really, truly suck.

In the aftermath of the loss, Lou Piniella announced that Marlon Byrd, who had three hits and both Cub RBI Sunday, would henceforth be leading off against lefthanders with Jeff Baker moving up to the second spot and Ryan Theriot sliding down to eighth. (Byrd has actually hit leadoff or sixth more often than in any other spot in the lineup throughout his career.)

Young lefty Jon Niese is supposed to start for the Mets when the Cubs begin a four-game visit to Citi Field on Monday night, so Lou's new lineup will get its first go right away. Randy Wells is scheduled to start for the Cubs.

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Perhaps a little ex-Cub schadenfreude will ease your pain:

A report on the worst start of Jason Marquis's career--http://bit.ly/8YjcDa

Okay, hide the kids, here's the pitching line:

 ip   h   er   bb    k   hr
0.0   4    7    1    0    0

If you're trying to figure it out, and it doesn't add up, it's because he HBP Prince Fielder AND Jim Edmonds. The bases were loaded when he plunked Edmonds.

I blame the offense, again.

i blame lou, rothschild, obama, and free masons.

The fee masons don't get enough publicity anymore.

free mason conspiracy...barry bonds is involved somehow, too.

So I was doing some work on my car thinking "I wish I could be watching the Cubs game right now". After hearing about the game I'm kind of glad I missed the asshattery.

Seriously. I was literally wearing Soto's ass on my head, figuratively. I basically turn on the Cub game for background noise, fully expecting a loss, then am pleasantly surprised if they win, but spend more of my attention on my fantasy team.

Damn. It's too true.

Harold Ramis was in the booth for the 7th with Len and Bob. He said something to the effect of "the Cubs have got this one." I laughed out loud at that. Has he never seen a Cubs game before? If I didn't think they were probably going to blow it anyway, I would say he jinxed it.

Why did Hill take Soto's place late in the game? Soto was 2-3 and has been hitting well lately. Was Soto hurt? I see Hill came up with a runner in scoring position and two outs ninth. That just seems strange to me. Is Hill that much of a defensive game changer?

so much so that he fumbled the ball trying to catch Pence stealing that ended being the tying run..

Pence had a great jump, it would have been a close play if he had gotten it off and the throw was on the money. And it would only have been close with Hill, not Soto.

But the point is that your bring Hill in for defensive reasons only if he is a significant improvement behind the plate. I happen to think that Hill's defense is highly overrated by the Cubs manager.

Pence had a great jump because Marmol failed completely to keep him close. Marmol can go stretches of numerous pitches without ever checking the runner.

Excellent defensive catchers will signal their pitchers to check on the runner.

well we do have greg maddux around...i think he checked a total of 10-12 runners his entire career.

i think his main skill and workaround for that is that he's greg maddux, though.

Not a bad skill to have.

You would think a former catcher would pay some attention to runners.

nonetheless, the irony (probably not actually irony) of the defensive specialist catcher not being able to actually handle the complexity of transferring the ball from his glove to his hand was pure Cubbery.

The last I saw Castro was doing pretty well. I am pretty sure 95% of the intelligent viewing public will disagree with me but I say bring up the kid just to add some electricity to the lineup. Anyone who wears that much jewelry probably isn't gonna lose much in the way of confidence no matter what happens.

Castro is off to a good start: Average in the .350s, OPS over .900.

I wouldn't mind seeing a Robinson Chirinos appearance at some point. He's off to a good start, and it looks like the HR power was not a complete fluke--he's got 3 in 29 ABs for AA, and he can play C as well as all over the infield. I don't know whose spot I'd give him--probably one of our reliever's.

But neither guy is a middle of the lineup hitter (Chirinos is just a bench player, actually), the place where the Cubs are really struggling. Soriano and Ramirez are not producing the way the Cubs need them to, and the rest of the lineup really isn't playing over their heads enough (or at all *cough* Theriot) to make up for it. The Cubs need Ramirez and Soriano to produce near their career averages in order for this team to at least stay in the playoff picture. It's no secret that the Cubs can't skate by on pitching and defense.

I was in the car yesterday for 9th inning, when Marmol blew the save. Santo kept muttering "Makes you wonder, makes you wonder."

Please get him out of the booth. In fact if the Ricketts want this to be "year one" ban all 1969 Cub players from the park.

They all combined do not have the playoff experience of Ryan Theriot but they reminisce like they were the 1927 Yankees.

Here's your statue, go home.

Another dandy Santo moment from yesterday:

Harold Ramis was in the booth with Pat & Ron in the top of the seventh, talking about writing a script for another Ghostbusters sequel. He talked about how the script wouldn't be done for a while and how he was writing new characters into it to mix with the old ones, blah, blah, blah--after which Santo says to him, "You've done so many great movies. Are you still producing and writing?

Personally, I pray for the day when the Cubs end the Seventh-Inning Stretch singers, but failing that, if they would just end the radio interviews with the singers, it would improve the listening experience immensely.

I listened to a little bit of the radio broadcast, too, and as much as I love Ron Santo, I kept asking myself: Did he fall on his head before the game?

I know Santo missed a game or two because of a heart problem, but as we all know he has been a joke in the booth for a long, long time.

If I heard correctly, he is skipping the four-game series in New York and Keith Moreland will be filling his seat. I thought Moreland did a great job when he filled in last year and I hoped then, as I do now, that there is some way to make him a permanent part of the team while offering Santo some sort of ceremonial position that would allow him to stay close to the club but not actually speak out loud within 15 or 20 feet of a live microphone.

Santo does not do NY anymore.

Hopefully it is Zonk doing the games, he has good style to go along with Pat.

We should start a pool as to when Lou will start Fontenot at short
or when Colvin gets his next start.

We could do that, but you know everyone would just pick June.

Just in time for Lilly's return

Oh yeah, let's get Fontenot to his rightful spot at SS where he can really shine as a 15 hr sub-par defensively shortstop. Because as we all know defense is stupid. Hitting 15 home runs is how you build a championship team.

blah... no offense to you, I'm just grumpy and tired of a team that can't play baseball. F- home runs and f- a 300 batting average. Get guys that can play the game and play it hard.

I could support leaving Soriano in LF every day if he could still catch a damn ball. I would do it just on the off chance he is about to go on a home run tear. But if he's not even going to catch the ball, fuck him. Colvin can catch a ball, let him play. Maybe he'll dazzle us with the bat. If not, at least he'll catch routine fly balls.

Remember when everyone was clamoring for Micah Hoffpauir to replace DLee at 1B last April?

Soriano will never again be a 40-40 guy, but let's not get crazy with the Colvin love just yet.

ironically Soriano will now be blocking the Amish Assasin.

blocking the Amish Assasin
---
I've been looking for a new way to use my Matt Clement brillo pad.

Ryno, you need to start rooting for the Mariners.

Milton Bradley on the roster, that automatically precludes me from being a fan... but in all seriousness:

Here's my formula. You start with a field of guys that play good defense. You don't need guys that hit 300, just players that will defend their position and do the fundamentals well: work counts, lay down bunts, make contact with the ball.

Next, you get some starting pitchers that go out there and keep you in the game. They don't have to be flashy, just able to keep you in the game a large majority of their outings. Wells, Dempster, Lilly, all perfect.

Then you find two guys that can mash. They hit 3 & 4. (This is the piece the M's do not have).

It sounds reductionist, but the more I watch the game and the older I get, the more I think the formula is really this simple and that batting average is a bunch of bologna.

It's worth noting that I've basically just described the St. Louis Cardinals. In fact, I believe one of the great fallacies in the baseball world is that without Pujols the Cardinals would be lost. It's not true at all. They actually have a good, somewhat non-flashy team.

"without Pujols the Cardinals would be lost. It's not true at all."

If he went down like Aram last year, I would bet they would not sniff .500,IMO.

The Cardinals finished 12th in fielding percentage in 2009, one place ahead of the Cubs.

I'm not sure anyone is arguing with you about batting average.

OBP and SLG matter, though. I mean, unless you've found some way to make laying down bunts actually produce more runs than being a good overall hitter. Working counts and making contact fits into both OBP and SLG.

i am soooo w/ cubnut re: the stretch singers & the interviews that go w/ them...such things in combination w/ a poor team approach intolerability; we are already @ the point where much of my fan-ness is essentially addictive behavior being repeated out of unbreakable habit...suffer the worst damned winter on record & 2 weeks in you're sick of the commercials, the team, the tired 7th inning act, the pat & ron shtick, the insufferable dave otto fill-ins...better stop; beginning to read like a suicide note...

I would really like to see this new ownership put a re-emphasis on baseball and the product on the field, not just the whole marketing mentality on what they would think of the "Cubbie Experience." First of all, real fans know the team is called the Cubs; Cubbie is a no-no.

Get rid of the seventh inning stretch nonsense. It's phony. Canned Harry is okay. I love Ron Santo, but that poor man needs to go to "special assistant to the owner- land."

"Canned Harry is okay"
I always thought they should turn that logo of Harry above the broadcast booth to a screen and show old Harry tape with audio for 7th. That would be cool.

the 'cubbie experience' is in full play with this ownership group.

"family" and "kids" and other marketing buzzwords are supposed to the be tools of the small market and minor leagues.

since the very late 90s wrigley field can fill itself in iffy weather playing the pirates with both #5 pitchers going.

i don't understand the reaching out to the "experience" crowd unless rickety plans on cutting or stagnating the payroll while preparing the next generation to come on board.

stagnating the payroll wouldn't bug me much...if you can't win when you outspend your competitors by 30-50 million...well, tough.

From Blair Kamin in the Tribune, Chicago zoning officials have signed off on the Toyota sign in left field! Bring on the payroll increases!!! http://bit.ly/bnnKV5

The bad news: They're getting rid of the warning track.

when the hell are they just gonna tear the craphole up and build a new park? meh...

not like i'm expecting it any time within the next 10-15 years or anything...

Yeah, at this point, do you really want to reminisce the last 80+ years?

"Tribune, Chicago zoning officials have signed off on the Toyota sign"

I heard they had a hard time putting the breaks on for that.

~showing myself the door~

I expected one of our Japanese prospects to be recalled from the minors.

DEY TOOK OUR JOBS!@!#!@!!

ramblerambleramble

Do we even have any Japanese prospects?

He's playing RF.

~still waiting for plus .300 average and 20-25 hr power~

You should hold your breath on that one.

No clue. It was a recall joke.

I don't understand the need to carry so many pitchers when they cannot be used!

Yesterday's use of Marmol is a perfect example of wasted space on the roster.

Clear out the useless "junk" and add a bench player to pinch-hit and play the field.

A third catcher would be great.

How many teams carry 3 catchers?

And how was Marmol used badly yesterday?

How many teams carry 3 catchers?

All the NL teams that have a reasonably sized bullpen.

You didn't answer the question. How many is that?

It looks like there are zero NL teams that carry a 3rd catcher, according to Yahoo's rosters.

But that doesn't mean that it's a bad idea - it may mean that the NL Managers and GM's are victims of group think.

Does the DH rule play into it?

I don't disagree. And I also agree that teams carry too many pitchers.

But lets be honest group think/status quo drives a lot of decisions.

fwiw, byrd to lead off tonight according to mustycats

cf byrd, 2b baker, 1b lee, rf nady, 3b ramirez, lf soriano, c soto, ss theriot, p wells

For shits and giggles I would flip Sori and Nady.

See if they can jump start that M'fer.

my idea involves battery cables too, but more literally

Pagan cf, Castillo 2b, Wright 3b, Bay lf, Francoeur rf, #29 Ike Davis 1b, Barajas c, Cora 2b, Niese P

vs.

CF Byrd, 2B Baker, 1B Lee, RF Nady, 3B Ramirez, LF Soriano, C Soto, SS Theriot, P Wells

yeah, that.

Count Cubs manager Lou Piniella among those delighted that Alfonso Soriano has promised to give up his patented "hop" while making catches in left field.

In fact, Piniella and others in the dugout had been requesting it for some time.

"All it can do is make your head bob and your eyes move and the ball flutter," Piniella, a former outfielder, said before Sunday's game. "It's like catching a knuckleball. So if you can keep stable and catch it conventionally, I think it will help him."

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

Ummm...uh...hmmm. Okay. At least everyone got together and decided it's about time Soriano did something that would help him play the game better...when he felt like it.

How many 3-4m dollar managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

I know how you hate facts and all, but he's having his worst fielding season now that he's given it up

your "facts" aren't very strong considering at least 2 (maybe all) of those errors aren't on plays where the hop would be applicable, whereas bad fielding mechanics are bad fielding mechanics regardless of the outcome.

this affects how he can throw after the play as well as actually making the play. he kills his forward momentum and wastes time even when it does all work out.

Fact: Soriano has stopped wearing underpants this year.
Fact: Soriano sucks this year.
Proof: Underpants are necessary for good baseball.
Therefore: Everyone on the team should start wearing underpants. I'm looking at you Soto!

I'm voting for you for president in 2012.

Hope.

via Ye Olde World O Roto:

"Felix Pie could miss up to three months with an injury to the latissimus dorsi muscle in his back."

yow.

also, louis montanez was called up to replace him. ha.

Admittedly, I was only annoyed by all the funky managing because it was Tony LaRussa. I pretty much want him to fail miserably at everything he does.

Ditto.

Except that playing a starting pitcher in LF while you have position players pitching is just plain dumb.

Also, RE: Posnaski:

And even now, he HAS to use the most pinch-hitters, and he HAS to change around his lineup, and he HAS to use a lot of relievers, and he HAS to move runners, and he HAS to sacrifice. It's his nature. He has to attack the game before it attacks him. Why? I think it's because he knows the limitations of the job. And he can't help but rage against them.

I think it's because he has a massive f***ing ego that he has to feed by pretending he has more of a say in the outcome of the game than he does. But then, I don't like him. It's sort of a half full half full of shit situation.

why is everyone wearing 42?

Mets were on the road for Jackie Robinson day so this is Jackie Robinson day at Citi Field.

Nice of Soriano to admire a homer that wasn't and turn a triple into a double.

thnx.

I think Jackie Robinson would be embarrassed by the Cubs wearing his number. They do not deserve it with their level of play.

The boo birds in the bleachers would probably boo Jackie Robinson.

Isn't that the meaning of life?

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