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:



TOP OF THE SECOND INNING:


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


HENRY MORENO at bat:
1. strike one (foul)
2. strioke two (swinging)
3. strike three (looking)


YSMELIN ALCANTARA at bat:
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.

Comments

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.)

http://yhoo.it/9vbK1h

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:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/20/dust...

Cubs are the least efficient team in baseball

-Forbes

- 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.

http://blogs.forbes.com/sportsmoney/2010/07/a...

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.

http://www.chicagobreakingsports.com/2010/07/...

I thought he retired at the end of 2008?

*rimshot*

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.

http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/chicago/chat/...

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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The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC. 

    Arizona Phil 54 min 1 sec ago view
  • ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels. 

    M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores)  the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating. 

    Arizona Phil 56 min 35 sec ago view
  • E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.  

    Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).  

    Arizona Phil 1 hour 6 min ago view
  • PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.

    The E-Man 1 hour 49 min ago view
  • AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.

    Hagsag 6 hours 34 min ago view
  • Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!

    Hagsag 6 hours 35 min ago view
  • Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.

    Eric S 16 hours 16 min ago view
  • With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.

    johann 19 hours 14 min ago view
  • it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.

    crunch 19 hours 26 min ago view
  • It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.

    Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.

    The E-Man 19 hours 35 min ago view
  • That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.

    I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.

    Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...

    These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.

    No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.

    The E-Man 19 hours 41 min ago view
  • a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...

    it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...

    crunch 19 hours 59 min ago view
  • Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.

    johann 20 hours 35 min ago view
  • Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.

    johann 20 hours 53 min ago view
  • Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.

    The E-Man 20 hours 55 min ago view
  • soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.

    he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.

    crunch 21 hours 13 min ago view