Game 9 Open Thread / Cubs @ Pirates (3 of 3)

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SP *Rich Hill SP Matt Morris
  0-0, 3.00, 4 K, 3 BB 0-0, 5.40, 2 K, 2 BB
LF Alfonso Soriano CF *Nate McLouth
2B *Mike Fontenot 2B Freddy Sanchez
1B Derrek Lee LF Jason Bay
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Adam LaRoche
RF *Kosuke Fukudome RF Xavier Nady
C Geovany Soto C Ronny Paulino
SS Ryan Theriot 3B Jose Bautista
CF *Felix Pie SS Brian Bixler
*Rich Hill P Matt Morris












After 27 innings of baseball in two games, I think the Cubs should just get credit for the third game and call it a sweep. It is three full games of baseball afterall.

Lou thought about switching up the rotation a bit and giving Marquis the start tonight, but he was still feeling the effects of the flu. So Rich Hill stays in his spot and as long as the rain stays away, I'm sure there's not a happier guy in Pennsylvania right now. Hill, a flyball pitcher, gets the cozy left field dimensions of PNC Park and the punchless Pirates instead of the hitter-happy Citizens Bank Park and the powerhouse Phillies lineup.

Lou was pondering tinkering with his lineup as well, teasing us with playing Fukudome in center and Ward in right or Pie in center, Fukudome in right, and giving Fontenot a start at second to take advantage of the righty/lefty matchup with Matt Morris on the mound. Eventually he settled on rewarding Pie for his game-winning hit yesterday and giving a spot start to Fontenot, as you can see. Of course, Morris has shown little difference in his three-year splits (775 OPS vs lefties and 769 vs. righties) and was actually better versus lefties in 2007 (784 OPS compared to 828 OPS vs. righties).

The weather block on the left of the site says 30% chance of showers tonight and the map looks even more ominous, although it appears the green blob might stay north of the city the entire time.

Be sure to visit TCR tommorrow, as Mike Wellman of Road to Wrigley will have the first of his eyewitness accounts from Prinicipal Park in Iowa. He'll be stopping by here after each Iowa homestand, and will have some other articles throughout the year.


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"After 27 innings of baseabll in two games, I think the Cubs should just get credit for the third game and call it a sweep. It is three full innings of baseball afterall."

I think you mean three full GAMES of baseball.

thanks...knock a buck off your tab. :)

Woo Soriano!!!

Boo Hill!! (woo McLouth...fantasy points)

Is Hill going to get anyone out?? I think a sickly Marquis could have done this bad.

Now that Hill is out maybe the Cubs will start scoring some runs.

Soto a triple away from the cycle.

ok 7-3...lets make this one easy for once?

I think Godenot has been resurrected.

Actually, I think Fontenot is potentially the best hitter out of Theriot, Cedeno, and DeRosa. DeRosa has him beat on walks, but I think Mighty Mike actually has more pop. And, as we all know handedness is the most important factor, Fontenot has the edge in hitting from the correct batter's box.

let me take a stab at this...

tomorrrow Lou will be quoted that Hill wasn't sent down because he walked a zillion batters in 3 innings...and that they needed a lefty reliever in the bullpen, so they brought Pignatello back up (since they already have Marshall stretched out).

on another note...Nice work Jon Lieber.

Pignatello can't be called back up unless there is an injury.

And Hill is going anywhere.

re: Hill

just being silly...but Hill better have been noticing that Lieber throwing strikes made Lou smile.

Sweet double play!

It would seem unlikely that Hill would be optioned out over the weekend? I'd bet alot of money against it but stranger things have happened.


Go Cubs!!!

That may have been the ugliest sweep in baseball history. Still a sweep, though.

3 uglies beats a pair of sweet wins and a tough loss. Still, can't we extract some measure of good vibe from this series? Something about building a notion of "ain't over 'til its over" etc in the clubhouse, that stuff never gets old IMHO. My big man crush (probably premature) is for Mr. "Leave it to Lieber" who might be setting records for length of middle relief appearances this early in the season? Too early to vote for a TCR POTM?

How 'bout that Geovany Soto?

The Pirates aren't a great team and the Cubs squeeked out a couple but sweeping any series is always a bonus. Now just pull out 1 or 2 in Philly and its a nice little road trip.

Dood. A sweep is nice and tough to complete, I don't care who the team is. And Rich Hill isn't getting optioned. Relax bro.

Looks like rain tomorrow night in Philly. I guess we're playing two Saturday?

scott moore started tonite for 2nd...

okay, whatever.

1. i wonder what that lou and hill conversation was about in dugout
hill did not say anything lou did all the talking.

2. i would have made hill sit on bench and watch lieber pitch
first pitch strikes are huge.

3. coincidence that pie made last out in 3rd and lou made the double switch
i think lou is getting a hardon for johnson,we know he will start on saturday
but will it be pie or johnson on friday?

I think I might be gettin' a little bit of a hard-on for Johnson.

Maybe it had to do with the pitcher's spot coming up next to lead off the inning and Pie batting 9th after that? I dunno, sounds more like managing 101 then some perceived affection for a player.

the double-switch was standard managing as you mentioned, Pie made the last out and Lou knew that Lieber would be going more than one inning. That being said, Pie didn't look too hot out there today and Reed had another nice game. Two lefties this weekend as well...


So "picking up Reed in case Pie doesn't pan out" might have been a good strategy. I know, it's all very cursory being the ninth game and all, but still.

Pie looked awful in his 2nd AB (the only one I saw).

Matt Morris, an over-the-hill righthander, just toyed with him -- slow curve, slow curve, fastball right down the middle. Strikes 1, 2 and 3. No chance. Ugly. Given Pie's reaction, I think he is stressing a fair amount.

Hendry's two "shrug" additions -- Liebs and Johnson-- are paying big early dividends. Without Lieber, I think they lose yesterday's game -- Hill spits the bit after a 15-inning, bullpen-drainng marathon. Is Hill too comfy? Does he need a little pressure and sense of urgency to perform well?

Jason Kendall hitting .538 for the Crew.

he is definately looking good so far,and he is probally glad to be
out of toronto,wonder how stewart is doing for bluejays.

Hey people, don't forget to pitch in a few bucks to support TCR.

PS digging the "sweep" graphic.

Love the sweep graphic. Looking forward to updates from Road to Wrigley.

Nice to see Soriano starting to hit. Looked like Lee lost his hot-streak...maybe Zach Duke has a lasting effect on a guy. Tough road trip to Philly early in the year, Go get 'em Cubbies!

Samardzija (W, 2-0) 7.0 4 0 0 1 5 0 0.75

Second strong outing for Samardzija at Tenn. Very encouraging.

Was it Sutcliffe who said during ST '07 that we'd see Samninja sometime in '08? September call-up maybe? Maybe sooner?

Piniella hints Hill's on thin ice

Only option offered by Lou is bullpen.

nothing like a little incentive from Lou.

That is ridiculous.

Rich Hill is too good to not be given a real opportunity to work through some of his issues.

If anyone thinks that John Lieber will have a better year than Rich Hill, they are crazy.

Eventually Hill will have a better year than Leiber, but that doesn't mean trotting Hill out to the mound every 5 days will solve his problem.

Clearly Hill has been struggling with his control, and its been that way since spring training. If he has the same problem again his next start, something will probably have to change, either sending him down to Iowa for a few weeks or declare that some mystery injury is what's causing the problem and sit him down for 2 weeks of "rehab."

Right now, the Cubs have two capable 6th starters in Marshall or Leiber, theres no reason not to use them if there is something wrong with Hill.

Dave, if he'd like to show ANY improvement over the last 6 weeks worth of throwing, that would be great. He's not learning anything. He's not fixing anything. He still can't throw his curveball for a strike, so everybody's teeing off on his fastball. Coincidentally, he's also having problems throwing his fastball for a strike.

Seems to me the new delivery concocted by Rothschild isn't working for him. I don't really care how many guys steal off of him if he'd actually get some guys out.

i believe you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has categorically stated that "jon lieber will have a better year than rich hill in 2008". i don't read every comment on here; i may be wrong.

there has been no change in hill since pitchers and catchers reported. maybe he has an injury, maybe he has mentally hit the wall. maybe he has hit his ceiling altogether. that cannot be known yet.

but there is no reason to put the club at a disadvantage by putting hill out there, when he cannot find the plate. 75 or so pitches in 3 innings is not acceptable; what sort of hue and cry would be on here if it were zambrano going 75 in 3? or lilly? or heaven help us dempster?

you can holler "it's only 2 starts" as loudly as you would like, and you would be factually correct; it's lou's ear you need to reach. meanwhile some nice hitting from the un-stars salvaged a win and a sweep. shouldn't team wins be the measure?

i believe you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has categorically stated that "jon lieber will have a better year than rich hill in 2008".

Fair enough. But I don't think that sending Hill down to dominate in AAA is really going to help him much.

maybe he has hit his ceiling altogether.

His ceiling? Right not certainly isn't his ceiling, so that doesn't make much sense. If he "his his ceiling," he would be pitching like he did last April.

what sort of hue and cry would be on here if it were zambrano going 75 in 3? or lilly? or heaven help us dempster?

It probably wouldn't be as bad as people have been saying about Hill. First of all, I don't think anyone is saying that Hill is okay with his 75 pitches in 3 innings. That is awful. But second, I can guarantee you that if Z or Lilly threw 75 pitches through 3 innings, no one would be talking about sending them down.

Hell... if Rich Hill continued pitching like he has through April (i.e. 5.00 ERA, 1.55 WHIP), he would still have a better April than Z had last year.

shouldn't team wins be the measure?

Sure... if a team's success, but that is often irrelevant to an individual's performance.

His ceiling?

point taken.

no one would be talking about sending them down.

i think i am more in favor of sitting him down than of sending him down. not forever. only a period of time (2 weeks?). if there is any inkling of a physical malady (of which none of us have heard or read anything), get multiple opinions immediately. he is somewhat like pie, nothing left to prove in aaa, but needs to press "re-start" on 2008. with the cubs.

if Rich Hill continued pitching like he has through April (i.e. 5.00 ERA, 1.55 WHIP), he would still have a better April than Z had last year.

i am more interested in how rich hill progresses vs rich hill 2007, not hill vs zambrano 2007. right now there has been regression, not progression. but only one man's opinion.

I don't disagree with about being interested in the progression of Rich Hill.

I am just making a point that Z was this awful, or worse, last April, and there was little/no talk about taking him out of the rotation.

People forget that Hill was given a chance before to work out control issues while still on the big league roster - no reason to send him down again at this point.

And how about Lieber? The guy specifically didn't want to work out of the pen when he signed, but he's handled it like a professional and now may be close to getting a chance to start. Marquis, please pay attention.

Actually... Lieber was pretty clear when he signed in saying that he would do whatever was needed, whether that was starting or out of the pen.

And Leiber out of the pen has been genius so far. For real. A starter out of the bullpen adds a new dimension for games where you are either in extra innings or have to pull rich hill early, but yet, still in the game.

Lou needs to take the kids gloves off and give these guys some time. If you are going to commit to Hill, Soto, Pie, etc. then give them some time. Threateing to bench them, pull them or whatever after only a few games is only going to make them press and that isn't good for anybody involved. If Lou thought these guys gave them the best chance to win this year, thus making them starters, then let them be starters for more than a few games and see what they can do. Now if any of them are struggling still by the end of May then a change should be looked at.

Manny -- For the sake of clarity, I understand the phrase "take the kids gloves off" = stop coddling or stop going easy on them. To "give them some time" seems to be the opposite of taking off the kid gloves.

It seems to me that Rich Hill had one good start and one poor start. Not quite the time to go all paniky, it seems to me.

Yeah, I missed used that phrase. My bad, thanks for clearing that up.

I agree, let Hill stay out there for awhile still, no need to have a knee jerk reaction.

Recent comments

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  • 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.

  • most likely cost sharing + the league is short on players anyway. not many teams are chipping in on 'advanced instructional.'

  • I'm glad this is a one game playoff coming up, because McCutchen is one of my favorite MLB players. And as a baseball fan, I rather like the Pirates. I hope we beat them bad, of course. No mixed feelings here. And, I don't want a nail biter. Too old for that shit. The team of moran fans is easy to hate, though, and more suitable for a longer series.

  • A Jurickson Profar sighting!!!!???

  • I'd guess Jackson over Coghlan for the defense.

    EDIT: Now that I think about it, is Jackson a better defender?

  • Less stress on the pitching staff?