It is a cold, miserable day in Des Moines. The steady rain may change to snow by the time the Iowa Cubs are scheduled to open their home season at 7:05 tonight versus the Memphis Redbirds, the team that caught them at the tape last Labor Day and squeezed past into the PCL playoffs. Ironically, that change in the form of precipitation might increase the chances of the game being played. Just in case the game tonight gets called I had a couple of hot dogs for lunch.
The I-Cubs beat the Isotopes on getaway day yesterday in Albuquerque, 10-6, behind five RBI from holdover Bobby Scales to split their season-opening road swing through Texas and New Mexico at 4-4. At the plate Tony Campana, Lou Montanez and Scales are off to hot starts. Fernando Perez has drawn eight walks and swiped three bases and Bryan LaHair has already knocked in nine runs. There hasn't yet been much pitching to which any of those responsible would sign their names. Chris Carpenter has fanned eight and walked but two so far in five innings spread over three appearances.
Here's alink to a new feature at the I-Cub website this year that's a nice one-stop daily clearinghouse for media reports: http://iowa.cubs.milb.com/news/page.jsp?ymd=20110317&content_id=16994120&vkey=news_t451&fext=.jsp&sid=t451
No doubt there are better days ahead weather-wise and this club deserves some breaks in that department. Last year the team was 4th out of 16 in the PCL in attendance despite that Des Moines is 14th in the league in population.
Weather relenting, J.R. Mathes starts for Iowa tonight. It feels like he's been here as long as Wakefield's been in Boston, maybe longer if you asked him.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.
If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?
#Cubs plummet to 19-5 in August.
Fun with FIP
- J. Hammel 3.07 ERA/4.27 FIP (3.68 FIP last year)
- J. Arrieta 2.62 ERA/3.05 FIP (2.35 FIP last year)
- J. Lester 2.81 ERA/3.67 FIP (2.92 FIP last year)
- K. Hendricks 2.19 ERA/3.37 FIP (3.36 FIP last year)
- J. Lackey 3.41 ERA/3.72 FIP (3.57 FIP last year with Cards)
zastyryzryzryzny put in 3.2ip 1h 0bb 3k
he's great when his control is "on"...problem is it's rarely "on" consistently. he could vault up the cubs prospect list if he ever gets better with that aspect of his game.
JD's take was just trying to get in a lefty to better deal with mostly lefty Dodgers lineup.
My second thought was what you came up with. My first thought was he was trying to light a fire under Hammel.
Maybe he was trying to spare him another brutal road start? NY, Colorado...
joe got a pitcher up for hammel at nearly the 1st sign of trouble in the 3rd...pulled after 2.1
not injured and though it wasn't his day so far he wasn't looking like a pure disaster.
really short leash on him. zastryznzryzryny in.
Russell and Soler can attest that Urias has a pretty good curve/slider - two big strikeouts looking to get out of that jam in the first.