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

The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • based on what SF has been doing every other year lately, getting access to the postseason playoffs seems to be what's important. bring on dat short series!

    that said, skipping the sudden death 1-game WC would be nice from here on out.

  • I know what you are saying, but I feel compelled to point out that there's no such thing as luck, curses, etc. The Cubs this year have as good as a chance as the Pirates to move on to the next round. If the Cubs proceed to the next round or not tomorrow, it will not be because of luck, but because one team outlasted the other. When/if the Cubs are lucky enough to make it to the league series, that's where they may find their biggest challenge. The Dodgers have a good, deep pitching staff.

  • debuting the new format 1 game "sudden death" WC matchup at yankee stadium does a perfect job of showing the intense emotion and drama this game can be.

    that said, i'm ready to not see yankee stadium or hear fans at yankee stadium for another 5 and 1/2 months. at least i don't have to sit through the braves with their "tommy hawk chawp" this postseason.

  • i'd like to know why the internet radio feed of the game (which is always delayed by a few seconds at best) is almost a minute faster than the ESPN cable TV coverage. wtf?

  • i dont know what order they'll be in, but i pretty much expect fowler/schwarb/rizzo/bryant/montero/castro/lastella/arrieta. any change at all (aside from the first 4 guys) wouldn't shock me, though. coghlan is still a wildcard in the lineup joe could always march d.ross out there with very slow arrieta pitching.

  • Yup. Have to agree. Baseball, like golf, certainly has that psych component for the player. There is no real reason why a fielding position should affect a batting average. The Cubs are 106 years over due for a little luck. Don't you guys think so? Maybe the rookies can bring some dumb luck on.

  • probably stacking capable lefties vs cole while keeping the "hot" castro in the game. fwiw, he's 1-6 lifetime with 0 bb/k vs cole (double).

    i chalk bryant's issues at the plate while playing OF up to coincidence so far.

  • I will call your dead horse, "Trigger".

    In one game, when anything is possble, I am glad that Joe Maddon is our Manager.

    He knows the stats better than all of us. It would seem, IF La Stella gets the start at 3B, it will be only up to the point that they were to get the lead (crosses fingers). From everything I have read, the game will be managed like a hoops game: offense/defense. So expect La Stella to be out of the game by the 5th. This team is incredibly deep which is so surprising. We never woulda thunk it.

  • i don't know what their roster plans are, but j.herrera is out there practicing with the team.

    i can't imagine him making any roster, though. dude had 4 PA the entire month of sept. him being a good dude to be around while keeping the clubhouse loose seems to be his main role at this point.

  • I know it's my own personal dead horse to beat --but Bryant has been a lousy hitter when playing the OF this year. Given that it's his first playoff game, I really hope they keep him in his natural position and don't mess with his routine.

    Lousy as in 8-for-45 with one XBH and no HR. Small sample and all that -- but why take the chance?

  • hard to tell what's up given they'll probably want to stack as many good lefties into the lineup as possible.

    castro being a bit hot doesn't help things. if he was still cool they'd probably stick la stella at 2nd and call it a day.

  • Madden won't announce lineups but Stella is practicing at 3rd and Bryant in LF today. I'd rather see Bryant at 3rd but I guess Stella has been hotter than Coghlan.

    /edit. Though I guess they could be practicing this with the idea Stella would come in as a PH then double switch him to 3rd base and Bryant to LF. Hope that's the plan instead

  • I really like the sound of that idea about expanding the AFL to ten teams. Each org. gets to field more players.
    They should do that anyway, regardless of Adv. Instructs.

  • Dallas Beeler, Corey Black, David Garner, Pierce Johnson, Steve Perakslis, James Pugliese, Duane Underwood Jr, and Rob Zastryzny threw early-morning bullpen side-sessions at Riverview yesterday.  

    Underwood threw last, and received specific one-on-one instruction from pitching coach Mike Mason. 

  • HAGSAG: There are only five advanced instructs squads left, and presently the only "co-op" team operating is the Angels/Cubs.

    The league was originally established as a "parallel" league to the AFL (a sort of "junior AFL"), for players too advanced for traditional ("basic") instructs but who were unable to get placed on AFL rosters due to AFL player-limits.

  • He is but I would think it'd be better to start out with offense and then bring in Jackson and LaStella once they have a lead. Stella has very good PH #s too.