Juan Cruz, RHP 0-0, 2.65 ERA, 17 IP 17 K, 10 BB, 2 HRRich Hill, LHP (2006 AAA) 1-0. 1.44 ERA, 25 IP 33 K, 7 BB, 1 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS Aramis Ramirez, 3B *Todd Walker, 1B Matt Murton, LF *Jacque Jones, RF *Freddie Bynum, 2B Henry Blanco, C *Rich Hill, PEric Byrnes, CF #Orlando Hudson, 2B *Chad Tracy, 3B Conor Jackson, 1B *Shawn Green, RF Damion Easley, SS #Johnny Estrada, C Andy Green, LF Juan Cruz, P

It'll be a battle for Hill to win over some fans after his disappointing debut last season. "One-pitch" Hill did little to impress as he relied almost exclusively on that 12-6 curveball and straight as can be fastball. He's always had a changeup and cutter, but aparently didn't feel confident enough in them to use them against major league hitters. Things have supposedly changed and he's got a slider in the repertoire as well now and hopefully remains his focused self as he did at the end of spring training and his first month in AAA ball. Personally, I hope Hill has found the way cause the potential of two dominating lefties in our rotation is quite tasty, plus I feel he's gotten a bit of a bum wrap around here as if it's impossible for him to adjust or improve upon his game from his less than stellar debut last year. Hell look at John Koronka, the guy finds a slider to go with his fastball/changeup and he's suddenly mowing down major league batters. On the mound for the D-Backs is ex-Cub Juan Cruz who gets his second start of the season. I'm guessing he's going to be pretty amped up to face his old team and it would be wise for the Cubs to take a few and let the guy get himself into some trouble. Of course that doesn't jive with our offensive game plan of swing early, swing often. The Cubs need to find some offense and find it quick. When things go wrong on the northside, there seems to be an automatic reflex of blame Dusty, but not a manager in baseball is going get runs out of a team who has 3 positions unable to top the new Mendoza line of a 300 OBP and their cleanup hitter not even slugging 400. Dusty can juggle it all you want, these guys just aren't producing right now and it's up to this offense to start hitting. I do like the small switch of Walker behind Ramirez as hopefully Ramirez will actually see some pitches near the strike zone. Of course, that small change is probably negated by having Blanco and Bynum in the lineup. Speaking of lineups, that's an interesting one that Bob Melvin is putting out there today. Andy Green? Is Davanon hurt or something? And Hudson batting second? The guy is hitting 220/277/336 from the right side for his career. I was always curious as to why a hitter who is just horrible from one side of the plate, just doesn't scrap switch-hitting. Of course Hudson does have a 281/343/438 line as a righty this year (in 32 Ab's) versus a 194/280/239 line as a lefty(67 AB's) but I'll guess that those numbers trend towards his career line by the time the year is up. Let's get a win Cubbies and GO HILL!!!
About a month into the season, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some stats, meaningless as they are. The Cubs are 4th in Team Defensive Efficiency The Cubs are 10th in Team ERA, the relievers are 7th, but 6th in Total Runs Allowed. The Cubs are 2nd to last in Total Runs Scored and are only 2 runs above the Marlins despite playing one more game then them. The Cubs are 2nd to last in Team Slugging, only the Padres trail. The Cubs are 3rd to last in Team OBP, only the Padres & Pirates trail. Cubs as a team versus lefties: 192/273/279 Cubs as a team versus righties: 284/337/441 Individually by position, I'll use GPA (Gross Production Average), a better measure than OPS as it weighs on-base percentage as 1.8 times more important than slugging percentage, divides the whole thing by four to make it look like a batting average and adjusts for ballpark factors. Michael Barrett: .298 (about 6th among those catchers who play regularly) Ronny Cedeno: .278 (4th, well ahead of the struggling Rafael Furcal) Aramis Ramirez: .243 (9th ahead of only Vinny Castilla, David Bell & Pedro Feliz) Matt Murton: .275 (9th) Juan Pierre: .213 (2nd to last only ahead of Chris Duffy) Jacque Jones: .248 (11th if he qualified, ahead of Jose Guillen, Jeromy Burnitz, Juan Encarnacion and Jeff Franceour) Todd Walker: .312 (2nd if he was a second baseman, 6th for 1st baseman) As for starting pitching (25 IP cutoff): Greg Maddux is 5th in PRC (Pitching Runs Created), 6th in ERA, 4th in VORP Carlos Zambrano is 50th in VORP Sean Marshall is 24th in VORP And the relievers: Ryan Dempster is tied for 7th in saves, 6th in's WXLR (Reliever Expected Wins Added) Bobby Howry is 21st in WXLR
GAME TWENTY-SIX IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (14-11, 4th, 4 GB) AT ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (14-13, 2nd, 1 GB) Chase Field, 8:40 PM CDT Weather: Damn Hot!!! TV: CSN, DirecTV 746 Radio: WGN, XM 188
Miguel Batista, RHP 2-1, 6.33 ERA, 27 IP 24 K, 11 BB, 2 HRGreg Maddux, RHP 5-0. 1.35 ERA, 33.1 IP 24 K, 6 BB, 1 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF Michael Barrett, C *Jacque Jones, RF #Neifi Perez, 2B Greg Maddux, PCraig Counsell, SS Eric Byrnes, CF *Chad Tracy, 3B *Luis Gonzalez, LF Conor Jackson, 1B *Shawn Green, RF #Johnny Estrada, C #Orlando Hudson, 2B Miguel Batista, P

Cubs vs. Batista Neifi Perez: 9-21, 429/500/619, 3 BB Juan Pierre: 4-16, 250/368/250, 3 BB, 1 K Aramis Ramirez: 1-11 091/231/091, 2BB, 0 KD'Backs vs. Maddux Luis Gonzalez: 31-98, 316/362/673, 10 HR, 7 BB, 10 K Craig Counsell: 11-45 244/261/289, 1 XBH Shawn Green: 12-28, 429/529/857, 3 HR, 6 BB, 7 K

Maddog Maddux to the mound tonight and he'll have to face-off against some fellas who've gotten the better of him through the years. Luis Gonzalez and Shawn Green haven't been fooled too often by Maddux and we'll see how The Master handles those two tonight. Nice of Bob Melvin to put Conor Jackson between them whom I assume Maddux will go after if he ever gets in trouble. Neifi appears to have taken the role of Maddux's personal second basemen and he's actually had some good at-bats versus Batista throughout his career, so more than a justifiable start for Rubby's brother. We'll see if Maddux can continue the golden touch he had in April and if the Cubs bats can find some runs. GO CUBS!!!
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart | Photos
W: Zach Duke (2-2) L: Angel Guzman (0-1)
Greg Maddux was named April Pitcher of the Month, that's cool. Plus he pitches tomorrow versus the Diamondbacks. And that's about all the good news we have for today. Angel Guzman looked the part of a rookie once again, occassionally brilliant, occassionally wild, giving up 2 runs in the first in a sequence of events that looked like this if you were scoring at home: HBP, K (swinging), 2B (RBI Sanchez), BB, FC-3, WP (Run Scored), BB, GO-3. He then gave up a 2-run homer to a guy hitting worse than Jacque Jones. And then with the game still possibly within reach in the 6th, Guzman put a couple runners on before yielding to Roberto Novoa who promptly booted a tapper that would have ended the inning without a run crossing the plate, instead four did and that was more than enough for Cubs nemesis Zach Duke. For the 2nd time in this young season, Duke made Cubs hitters look like he was throwing ping-pong balls out there, only allowing 5 hits and one walk for his first career shutout. Congratulations kid and let me be the first to say that I hope we miss you the next time our two teams battle. Off to Arizona where the players can hook up with the spring training groupies they met in March. I kid, actually they can say hello to half the team that is rehabbing.
CUBS 2, PIRATES 1 W: Bob Howry (2-0) L: John Grabow (0-1) S: Ryan Dempster (7) Wrapup | Box Score
Sounds like it was a nail-biter last night, as the stoppable force (the Cubs' offense) came up against the moveable object (the Pirates). Our boys in blue (well, actually, white with blue stripes) prevailed, with some timely hitting from Matt Murton overcoming some bad baserunning by Jacque "It's A Dumb Decision" Jones. Sean Marshall was very efficient -- it looks like's he's learning how to pitch at the big league level and it's a good thing, considering he's currently the Cubs' #2 starter. Of course, I didn't get to see it, because of the arcane MLB blackout rules. In case you're wondering, yes, I am going to mention this every time it comes up, which means every time the Cubs and Pirates play each other. In case you didn't read my post the lat time I wrote about this (and I don't blame you), I live in an area where Pirates games are blacked out under MLB rules, as are Phillies, Orioles, and Nationals games. That means none of those teams' games are available to me on DirecTV Extra Innings. The Phillies, Orioles, and Nationals have a number of games broadcast either over the air or on the local Fox or Comcast sports channel, and I get those games. But, because I am outside of the Pittsburgh area as far as DirecTV is concerned, I cannot get Fox Sports Pennsylvania (or whatever it's called), which broadcasts Pirates games. So, there is no way for me to watch a Pirates games. Now obviously that's not that big of a deal, except for the 15 TIMES A YEAR the Pirates play the Cubs. It's a stupid, arcane set of rules that MLB and DirecTV need to work together to change.
GAME TWENTY-FOUR IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] PITTSBURGH PIRATES (7-19, 10.5 GB, 6th)) AT CHICAGO CUBS (13-10, 3.0 GB, 4th) WRIGLEY FIELD, 7:05 CDT Weather: 58 degrees, cloudy, wind 11 mph R to L TV: CSN Chicago, DirecTV 743 Radio: WGN, XM 187
Sean Marshall, LHP 2-0, 4.22 ERA, 21 1/3 IP 15 K, 7 BB, 3 HRVictor Santos, RHP 1-4, 6.48 ERA, 25 IP 17 K, 10 BB, 3 HR
*Nate McLouth, CF Jack Wilson, SS Jason Bay, LF Craig Wilson, 1B Joe Randa, 3B *Jeromy Burnitz, RF Ronny Paulino, C Jose Castillo, 2B Victor Santos, P*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 2B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF *Jacque Jones, RF Michael Barrett, C John Mabry, 1B *Sean Marshall, P

Cubs vs. Santos Aramis Ramirez: 7-18, 389/421/833, 1 HR, 1 BB, 1 K Michael Barrett: 3-21, 143/217/190, 2 BB, 2 K
I guess that's what it's come to, as Marshall goes out to try to stop a modest two-game skid. I mentioned that the Cubs hadn't given up that many runs in a two-game span since 2000; a bit more research reveals that they hadn't been out-scored by that many runs in a two-game span since 1975. But enough about that. Let's see if Marshall can go 3-0 tonight. Sure would be nice.
Mike Kiley reports in the Sun-Times that Rich Hill has apparently been recalled from Iowa (presumably to replace Glendon Rusch in the starting rotation), and that David Aardsma has been optioned out, with Rusch transferred to the bullpen effective immediately. No word yet on whether Michael Wuertz will be recalled, too, but if he is recalled prior to Thursday, Wuertz will not burn a minor league option and will accrue MLB service time for his time spent in AAA the last couple of weeks. (If a player spends less than 20 days on option to the minors in any given season, no minor league option is used, and the player continues to accrue MLB service time for the entire period of time spent in the minors). If Will Ohman is next to go down, the Cubs might want to keep him around for a while longer (at least through Thursday), because the Diamondbacks are loaded with left-handed hitters. Ohman is at his best when he is used just as a LOOGY. On the other hand, Rusch is not effective against left-handed hitters, and he also gives up too many walks, hits, and home runs to be an effective relief pitcher.
With the first month of the season in the books (and/or down the drain), we're gonna review the Cubs organization and check out the pipeline. First up, the catching corps:
BREWERS 9, CUBS 0 W: Chris Capuano (4-2) L: Carlos Zambrano (0-2) Wrapup | Box Score
It's May now, right? No need to think about April anymore, no need to realize that the Cubs just gave up 25 runs over two games for the first time since September 8-9, 2000. Let's just think about what May has to offer: the return of Kerry Wood, continued improvement from Mark Prior and Derrek Lee, and who knows, maybe Juan Pierre will start getting on base occasionally.
BREWERS 16, CUBS 2 W: Doug Davis (1-2) L: Glendon Rusch (1-4) Gameday | Box Score
I have very little to say about this game. When the search for good news points to Mike Restovich's first hit as a Chicago Cub, it's time to go home. Dusty Baker is making noise about taking Rusch out of the rotation, and i don't think there's anyone who would argue against that right now. Except, of course, there is the question of who would replace him -- Rich Hill, I suppose, or possibly the return of Jerome Williams, neither of whom fill me with delight, but either of whom would be better than Rusch is. Today's game looks like it isn't going to happen, at least not on time. I'm currently sitting in the Indianapolis airport, and my flight to O'Hare is delayed, as is my flight out of O'Hare. If the game does happen, there's a good chance we'll fly right over Wrigley Field (the flight path to Harrisburg does that most of the time) so I'll make sure to wave. UPDATE 2:05 PM: I'm still on the ground at O'Hare thanks to mechanical problems, but it looks like they're playing at Wrigley. Win #1 from Big Z would make my bad travel day, which is keeping me away from the No Longer Tiny Baby, a little easier to take.
GAME TWENTY-TWO IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] MILWAUKEE BREWERS (12-11, 4.0 GB, 5th) AT CHICAGO CUBS (13-8, 2.0 GB, 4th) WRIGLEY FIELD, 1:20 CDT Weather: 59 degrees, overcast, wind 12 mph left to right TV: WGN, DirecTV 746 Radio: WGN, XM 185
Glendon Rusch, LHP 1-3, 6.41 ERA, 19 2/3 IP 14 K, 8 BB, 7 HRDoug Davis, LHP 0-2, 7.66 ERA, 24 2/3 IP 20 K, 21 BB, 3 HR
Rickie Weeks, 2B JJ Hardy, SS Geoff Jenkins, RF Carlos Lee, LF *Prince Fielder, 1B Bill Hall, 3B Damian Miller, C Brady Clark, CF Doug Davis, SP*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF *Jacque Jones, RF Jerry Hairston, 2B Henry Blanco, C *Glendon Rusch, SP

It is nice of the Brewers to send out a pitcher pitching worse than Glendon Rusch against the Cubs today. 21 walks in 24 2/3 innings? That is rough. Seeing how the Cubs are tied for last in the NL in walks taken, though, it might not be that big of a deal. The Tony Clark rumors continue to gain steam. I think he would be a nice pickup for a the Cubs, a guy who could fill in while Lee is out and then move to a pinch-hitting role for the rest of the season. As far as other candidates are concerned, I was at the Indy Indians-Columbus Clippers game last night and was excited to see that Carlos Pena was in the lineup for the Clippers. I thought he might be a decent dark-horse candidate for the Cubs -- cheap to get and might put up some decent numbers -- but I saw nothing from him that made he think he was ready for the big leagues right now. So, scratch that and let's hope Jim Hendry can put something together to get Clark. The Cubs are humming along nicely with significant pieces of their team missing. They're doing it with pitching (4th best ERA in the NL), not hitting (2nd worst OPS in the NL), and it would be nice to pick up a decent bat to guard against a day when Walker and Cedeno will no longer be hitting in the mid-.300s. Hey, if you're in Indanapolis, Montreal, Denver, or Fort Myers (random, huh?) turn on your radio in about an hour to hear me chat with Will Carroll on the second hour of Baseball Prospectus Radio. Yes, the second hour, otherwise known as "the hour they don't podcast." I'll have them record it for me, though, and if I manage to say anything remotely interesting I'll have it posted on TCR later this week.
CUBS 6 BREWERS 2 W: Greg Maddux (5-0) L: Dave Bush (2-2) Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play
Greg Maddux goes to a MLB-leading 5-0 and wins the 323rd game of his career, leaving him just one win behind Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton for 13th on the all-time win list, as the Cubs (13-8) beat the Brewers (12-11) 6-2 at Wrigley Field Friday afternoon. With Wood, Prior, and Miller out until... whenever, having Greg Maddux get off to what is probably the best start of his career really hits the spot. And I'll have another one, thank you. I guess it wasn't the best Greg Maddux performance you'll ever see, as he struggled with his command at times. But still, Maddux at less than his best is better than Glendon Rusch (who was skipped to allow Maddux to get the start), so it was plenty good enough for me and I'm happy. It was nice to see Jacque Jones do what he does best, and that is crush RHP. An RBI double and a solo HR (his 4th of the season) to left-center plus a single thrown in for good measure equals a 3-4 day for Jonesy. He also got his batting average up to a more respectable .231. Ronny Cedeno had three more hits, including a two-run home run and a bunt single, and Matt Murton contributed an RBI double. Juan Pierre had two hits and scored two runs, and Todd Walker was on base three times. And even Henry Blanco got a hit. Almost lost in the glow of Maddux's 5th victory of the season and career win number 323 were the three no-hit shutout innings (1 HBP, 1 BB, and 6 K) by the Cub bullpen (Howry to Eyre to Williamson), with Eyre striking out the side in the 8th and Williamson striking out the side in the 9th. The Cubs bullpen is pretty good. MLB ALL-TIME WINS: 1. Cy Young - 511 2. Walter Johnson - 417 3T. Grover Cleveland Alexander - 373 3T. Christy Mathewson - 373 5. Warren Spahn - 363 6. Pud Galvin - 361 7. Kid Nichols - 360 8T. Tim Keefe - 341 8T. Roger Clemens - 341 10. Steve Carlton - 329 11. John Clarkson - 327 12. Eddie Plank - 326 13T. Nolan Ryan - 324 13T. Don Sutton - 324 15. Greg Maddux - 323
GAME TWENTY-ONE IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] MILWAUKEE BREWERS (12-10, 3.5 GB, 5th) AT CHICAGO CUBS (12-8, 2.5 GB, 4th) WRIGLEY FIELD, 1:20 CDT Weather: 64 degrees, sunny TV: WGN, DirecTV 746 Radio: WGN, XM 185
Greg Maddux, RHP 4-0, 0.99 ERA, 27.1 IP &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp 18 K, 5 BB, 1 HRDave Bush 2-1, 3.54 ERA, 28 IP 23 K, 6 BB, 2 HR
Rickie Weeks, 2B JJ Hardy, SS Geoff Jenkins, RF Carlos Lee, LF *Prince Fielder, 1B *Corey Koskie, 3B Damien Miller, C Brady Clark, CF Dave Bush, SP*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF *Jacque Jones, RF #Neifi Perez, 2B Henry Blanco, C Greg Maddux, SP

The powers-that-be here are all going to be away from their computers all day, so this will have to do as a preview. Greg Maddux goes for victory number five in the month of April. To say the least, he's been pretty good so far this year. His biggest problem of the last few seasons has been giving up an absurd amount of home runs, a problem which so far has been rectified, only one long ball to date and that was to Jim Edmonds in a game that was already in hand. And I wouldn't be too surprised if Maddux served that one up to set up Edmonds later down the road, a devilish trick he's been known to play on opposing lineups. The Brewers are the "sleeper" pick of choice this year for a playoff run whether by division or wild card. After finally finishing a season at the .500 mark, Doug Melvin and the Brewers braintrust have assembled a fine team on a modest budget with uber-prospects Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy and Prince Fielder already making contributions. Even the man on the mound, David Bush, was quite the coup in the Lyle Overbay trade(in my honest opinion) and if those peripherals stay in that range, he'll be a thorn in the Cubs side for years to come. I still think they're a year away from truly contending from the playoffs, but a run of good luck for them and bad luck for the rest of the NL Central and I definitly see them fighting for playoff glory in September. More than anything, they seem to be our nemesis along with the Reds the last two seasons, so expect some hard fought battles. GO CUBS!!! Hanley Ramirez, SS #Alfredo Amezaga, CF Miguel Cabrera, 3B Josh Willingham, LF *Mike Jacobs, 1B Dan Uggla, 2B Chris Aguila, RF Matt Treanor, C &nbsp&nbsp * Scott Olsen, P*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B *Jacque Jones, RF Henry Blanco, C Angel Guzman, P
Here are the team-by-team start breakdowns for the entire Cubs sytem again, including the major league team. What other information would you like to see in a report like this? CHICAGO CUBS C: Michael Barrett 15, Henry Blanco 5 1B: Derrek Lee 14, Todd Walker 5, John Mabry 1 2B: Todd Walker 11, Jerry Hairston 6, Neifi Perez 3 3B: Aramis Ramirez 18, Neifi Perez 2 SS: Ronny Cedeno 19, Neifi Perez 1 LF: Matt Murton 19, John Mabry 1 CF: Juan Pierre 20 RF: Jacque Jones 15, Angel Pagan 3, Freddie Bynum 1, John Mabry 1 SP: Carlos Zambrano 5, Glendon Rusch 4, Greg Maddux 4, Sean Marshall 4, Jerome Williams 2, Angel Guzman 1
MARLINS 7 CUBS 5 W: Ricky Nolasco (1-0) L: Scott Williamson (2-1) SV: Joe Borowski (3) Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart| Photos
Top of the 8th, bases loaded, one out, Baker calls for Howry and double-switches with the guy who made the last out, Jacque Jones(pretty good defender) with John Mabry(not so good defender). The next hitter hits a flyball toward the right foul line which Mabry appeared to lose in the sun (not wearing any sunglasses) and the ball drops in for a double, 2 runs score and another run scores on the ensuing sac fly. Howry then does NOT come out for the ninth inning, which you would think would be the point of the double-switch, since you could have just pinch-hit Mabry for Howry if Howry wasn't going to pitch the ninth. In betwen, the Cubs score 2 runs in the bottom of the eight (thanks to Fish-Killer Matt Murton's 2 out, 2 RBI single) that would have given them the lead. This is how manager's can lose games for teams. Should Mabry have caught the ball? Absolutely. Should Williamson not have loaded the bases? You bet. Was there any reason to double switch at that point? Not a single one; at least not a good one. A stinging loss as the rest of the NL Central wins (again), sans Houston who plays the Dodgers tonight (and Pittsburgh but they don't really count). Angel Guzman looked the part of his first major league start. Occasionally wild, often filthy, squeezed a bit by the umpire, but good enough to last 5 innings with only 3 runs against. 2 of those runs off a Josh Willingham homer that was hit off a curveball well below the zone that Willingham just lifted into left field and the wind helped out a bit. A solid, if not spectacular debut by Guzman. Personally, I thought it looked a little better than Marshall's debut although the level of competition paled in comparision. No way to go into an off-day, thanks Dusty!!!


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