Game Preview: Pirates (26-50) vs. Cubs (33-43)
First, the lineups...
Tabata, LaRoche, McCutchen, Jones, Milledge, Alvarez, Doumit, Cedeno, Karstens
Fukudome, Theriot, Lee, Ramirez, Colvin, Soriano, Hill, Castro, Lilly.
Now, the news...
- Z gets sent to the corner with his dunce cap and Grab-Ass to the disabled list with a sprained knee. Miles says Grab-Ass should be out 3-4 weeks. Jeff Stevens and James Russell get the call-ups with Tom Gorzelanny scheduled to start tomorrow.
- Jon Morosi of Fox Sports says that the Red Sox and Cubs discussed a deal for Mike Fontenot before the Red Sox grabbed Eric Patterson after he was DFA'd by the A's. Morosi also says that the Cubs are "halfway" to sell mode...half-assing it as always.
- The Smokies landed 9 on the Southern League All-Star team after taking the first half division title. They are:
OF Tony Campana
C Robinson Chirinos
C Steve Clevenger
1B Blake Lalli
OF Ty Wright
RHP Austin Bibens-Dirx
RHP David Cales
LHP Ryan Buchter
RHP Hung-Wen Chen
Andrew Cashner and Starlin Castro were also early contributors to their run.
- Bruce Levine put this piece of info out there in his chat today.
The reasons Hendry was enabled to sign people to long-term deals was Sam Zell's insistence that they build up the product so he can get a higher buyout from the Ricketts family. Hendry was on an airplane when the Soriano deal was done by other team executives. Jim has to take his share of blame, but let's not start with revisionist history.
As one of our readers pointed out, Zell hadn't even bought the team by that point (wasn't until April of 2007), so Levine seems to just be shoveling whatever B.S. Hendry is feeding him...or just made an honest mistake about the timeline of ownership.
Cubs try to solve the Pirates puzzle today...recommended for ages 4-5, but does require adult supervision.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump
Grimm not doing himself any favors lately re: making the playoff squad. Seems to have lost the feel for his curveball.
j.grimm is literally worse than hitler.
felix pena, your turn.