Big "Z" Returns to The Game

Carlos Zambrano got into his first game action since his infamous dugout meltdown at U. S. Cellular Field on June 25th, throwing a perfect 1-2-3 second inning (12 pitches - 10 strikes) at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa tonight.

The AZL Cubs lost the game 2-1, as the AZL Royals scored two runs in the top of the 6th off RHP Luis Liria (4 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 6/4 GO/FO, 58 pitches - 37 strikes) to overcome a 1-0 deficit.

box score

Iowa Cubs RHP Jeff Gray (groin strain) got the start for the AZL Cubs, throwing one inning (12 pitches - 9 strikes) in what was his second rehab outing in three days (he threw an inning for the AZL Cubs this past Saturday night also). Gray struck out Cameron Connor (swinging) to lead-off the game, before surrendering a one-out single to Daniel Mateo. Gray then got out of the inning when Michael Antonio grounded into a room-service 6-4-3 DP. Gray has been on the I-Cubs DL since May 31st, and looks to be about ready to return to Des Moines.

There wasn't much Cubs offense tonight, as Royals pitchers limited the Cubs to just one run on four hits, retiring 10 of the last 11 Cub hitters. The Cubs scored their lone run in the bottom of the 4th when Albert Hernandez and Ryan Cuneo singled, advanced a base a piece on a well-executed double-steal, before Hernandez scored on a WP.

Here is Zambrano's inning, pitch-by-pitch:


JIN-HO SHIN at bat:
1. strike one (looking)
2. strike two (looking)
3. foul
4. foul
5. foul
6. ball one
7. IN PLAY: 5-3 ground out

1. strike one (foul)
2. strioke two (swinging)
3. strike three (looking)

1. ball one
2. IN PLAY: 5-3 ground out

"Z" looked very good tonight, throwing all of his pitches for strikes, with good sink on his two-seamer. He will supposedly be moving up to Iowa later this week.

After his one inning of work, Zambrano went out to the bullpen and threw an additional 15 or so pitches, signed some autographs along the RF foul line, and then retired to the Cubs dugout to hang with the kids.

One thing about Carlos Zambrano... he sure doesn't play The Big Shot Major Leaguer when he's down here. I half expected him to help the off-duty AZL Cubs pitchers chase down foul balls in the stands.


Thanks as always, Phil. The way Silva has pitched the last two times out, there may be a starting spot waiting for Zambrano after all.

On an unrelated note, my mini rant on Twitter about the kid who seemed to be bullied into throwing back Ryan Howard's home run ball Sunday night earned us a link, though not a direct mention, on the Big League Stew blog at Yahoo. (Click on the word "goaded.)

If Silva is going to start pitching like Silva, maybe Zambrano will start pitching like Zambrano.

So maybe it was something of a Freaky Friday situation the whole time?

Dustin Nippert takes a line drive to the noggin:

Cubs are the least efficient team in baseball


- The Cubs rank last among 30 teams thus far in 2010, requiring $2.07 million in payroll per win, and underperforming their projected win total by 9 games.

- Filtering out teams with winning records, the 2nd and 3rd least efficient teams thus far in 2010 are the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners...both of whom have required approximately $1.5 million in payroll per win.

Additionally, the Orioles and Mariners surpass the Cubs in terms of underperforming relative to projected win totals. The Orioles are the worst at 14 games below projected wins, while the Mariners are 10 games below projection.

When you consider that the only reason Jim Hendry has a job at all is thanks to the present General Manager of the hapless Baltimore Orioles is it any wonder why the Cubs are in their present mess? Jim Hendry was MacFail's protege. He learned everything he knows about being a GM from Andy.... and it shows.

so a guy took # of wins, divided it by payroll, and wrote a few hundred words about it?

wow, now that's a slow news day.

One thing to keep in my mind about Carlos Zambrano's roster status...

Any player who is on the Restricted List as of August 1st for any reason other than a PED suspension is not eligible to play in the post-season (MLB or minor leagues), and so if the Cubs were to somehow make the playoffs, Zambrano would not be eligible for the LDS, LCS, and WS unless he is activated from the Restricted List prior to 8/1.

So to protect themselves in case they somehow magically make it to the 2010 post-season, the Cubs must make sure to reinstate "Z" from the Restricted List by 8/1.

Lou announced he's retiring at the end of the season.

I thought he retired at the end of 2008?


And now Lou follows Rob G into retirement : ^)

Hopefully, Hendry and his toadies are next.

Is Ryno ready for the big leagues?

Bruce Levine (1:43 PM)
He's done everything he can as far as getting experience. I've talked to scouts who have watched his game, and I'm told he runs a good baseball game. That's a question better asked of Hendry and the Ricketts after this season.

Better chance of managing the Cubs next year- Sandberg, Girardi, or other?

Bruce Levine (1:57 PM)
I think Sandberg should get a lot of consideration. Another name that keeps coming up is Washington third base coach Pat Listach. He coached in the Cubs organization and is highly thought of throughout baseball.

From his chat today. Other stuff as well.

not retired. just been deterred by the paying job for about 3 months now and that should run through the end of August. It's truly been the project from hell.

the team sucking ass hasn't helped things on my end either.

in good news, Cubnut and AZ Phil have really stepped it up and I couldn't be more appreciative.

Really glad to hear the "not retired" answer. I was a-feared that the Cubs had sucked you into lethargy/inactivity/burn-out land.

I get up in the morning because of this blog.

I look forward to when you return to more active status. Stay strong.

I look forward to when you return to more active status.

It'll be like making a midseason trade.

what a nice way of saving him from getting fired.

I suppose there's little chance it won't be Ryno unless they hire a new GM too, which they should.

I would think Hendry staying would increase Ryno's odds of getting the job. Hendry has spoken highly of Ryno and advanced him through the minors.

A new GM would likely have no relationship with Ryno, and unless Ricketts forces whoever the GM is to hire Ryno, the new GM probably has his own candidates in mind.

That said, I still think there's a good chance Hendry gets fired.

I think that's what I said or was trying to...

if they let Hendry stay, I'm sure it's Ryno. If they hire a new GM, they should let that GM pick whomever he thinks would be the right fit.

The Cubs have moved two pitchers (RHPs Yohan Gonzalez and Corey Martin) temporarily up to Iowa from Peoria, apparently in preparation for a corresponding roster move(s) where the Cubs will be recalling a pitcher or two from Iowa (one probably being Jeff Stevens, since he is the most-rested of the I-Cubs relievers who are already on the Cubs 40-man roster).

This could mean that Stevens (or whoever) will replace Mitch Atkins on the 25-man roster (since Atkins won't be able to pitch again for a few days), or possibly Bob Howry (who could get DFA'd), or both Atkins and Howry could get dropped (with Atkins being optioned to Iowa and Howry getting DFA'd) if the Cubs promote two pitchers.

Side-armin' RHRP David Cales has pitched lights out at Iowa since getting promoted to AAA from AA Tennessee (where he was the Smokies closer), so he could possibly get moved up to Chicago, too. LHRP Scott Maine (acquired from AZ in the Aaron Heilman deal) is another possibility for promotion, if the Cubs look beyond guys who are already on the 40-man roster.

You don't think Gray will go straight back to the big leagues?

Submitted by The Real Neal on Tue, 07/20/2010 - 1:10pm.
You don't think Gray will go straight back to the big leagues?


REAL NEAL: It's possible, but Gray was optioned to Iowa prior to going on the DL, and he may need to prove he can get outs at AAA before the Cubs think about recalling him.

Gray has had a really bad year between the groin strains, and is a likely candidate to get dropped from the Cubs 40-man roster post-2010, since he will be out of minor league options next season.

Yeah, I suppose you're right. I am just seeing guys like Atkins, Howry and Berg pitch and thinking "He can't be that bad."

lou quits...who's on deck?

Recent comments

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  • it's day old news, and it's got nothing to do with the cubs, but ichiro signed a $2m deal with MIA (with a $2m option for 2017).

    neat. 41 years old and damn close to 3000 hits.

    also, rain delays suck.

  • take that giants

  • I think that if a team objects to the 1-game wildcard playin game so much, they could just win the pennant and avoid themselves the trouble.

  • Per Jesse Sanchez at, Cubs reportedly have signed 20-year old Cuban OF Eddy Julio Martinez for $3M bonus. 

  • BLOCK: Of course any advantage is an advantage. An MLB, NBA, or NHL team getting the extra game at home in a seven game series is an advantage, I just don't think it is enough of an advantage for winning a division and/or having the best record in a conference or league over the course of an 82-game season (NBA and NHL) or 162 game series (MLB).

  • TEX takes the opening game from TOR (@TOR) 5-3.

    TOR lost bautista + donaldson in-game due to injuries...TEX lost beltre...dunno if any will be lingering issues leading to missed games.

  • Ride the Kid Magic! Schwarber hadn't homered in a long time before last night.

  • Greg Maddux was 8-18 in his rookie season. Kyle has the 8 wins down pat.

    Think Baby Maddux.

    Prof. Harold Hill's THINK system at work.

    Kyle is on the far left.

  • I support this. Hendricks has not only looked better lately but seems to start struggling after a few innings which is better than the 1st in the playoffs.

  • Just tweeted via Jesse Rogers: Hendricks starting Game 2. Wow. Just wow.

  • That was good!

  • Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.

  • My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
    1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.

  • Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.

  • Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.

    How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?

    Call me lost.

  • Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.