Aramis Ramirez has been placed on the DL, and Ronny Cedeno has been recalled to take his spot on the roster. Of course, with the Cubs a mere 7 1/2 games out of the wildcard with five whole weeks of the season left, we can't expect Cedeno to actually play! This also explains why a third baseman (like, I don't know, Mike Fontenot, who's sporting a .374 OBP in Iowa) wasn't called up to replace A-Ram; we're going to need the veteran presence of Neifi Perez and Jose Macias at third in order to jump past Philadelphia, Florida, Houston, New York, Washington, and Milwaukee and make the post-season. Ramirez will be replaced, at least for today, by Nomar Garciaparra, making his first-ever appearance at third base. Iiiinteresting. Is it a one-off thing, or is it a way for Nomar to make himself a little more desireable on the free-agent market? Once the game starts, he will become the 103rd player to man third base for the Cubs since the Ron Santo trade.
USA Today has come out with a special section on "Baseball Announcers Yesterday & Today." Overall, it's a really entertaining package. It includes a ranking of all current radio announcing teams, and for the most part I think they get things right. Except. They rank Pat Hughes & Ron Santo a ridiculous 13th in the NL and 26th in the majors! Come on! They score along three axes, two of which are "fan rating" (the excitement and uniqueness the announcers bring to the broadcast, as well as their ability to connect with their audience) and "entertainment rating" (how well the announcers interact, the fun they have in the booth and the stories they tell, among other things) and I don't see any possible way that Pat & Ron (and especially Ron) could be rated lower than a "9" in either of these categories. They offer a feedback link, and I hope the members of the TCR community will take a few seconds to drop them an email in defense of one of the most entertaining radio teams in baseball.
Felix Pie won't be playing in the Arizona Fall League, as reported in cubs.com. Also, the nearly complete AFL rosters and a bit of a preview are up at minorleaguebaseball.com. They do a quick rundown of some of the bigger name prospects and the only Cub reviewed is Angel Guzman.
Once upon a time, not too long ago, Guzman appeared poised to become the next Mark Prior. The only thing that's resembled the Cubs ace has been an injury history. He's made just a few outings in the Arizona League, but still only 23, there's time for him to become a top flight pitching prospect again
Also, Buck Coats is designated as a "Taxi-Squad" player, meaning he'll only be available on Wednesdays and Saturdays or if there is an injury. And the Cubs will be adding one more pitcher before games begin sometime in early October.
Aramis Ramirez left today's game early after straining his left quadricep muscle. On a sure double play grounder to short, Ramirez did his best attempt at hustling and then clutched his upper left leg before collapsing while crossing first base. It wasn't even a close play. It was the right quad that he's been nursing lately although apparently he has strained the left quad as well this season. After the game, trainer Mark O'Neal had this to say:
"We didn't feel a significant defect in the quad itself. Obviously, you're looking to make sure you don't have any major muscle disruption like Nomar [Garciaparra] had [with his groin], and we didn't find anything like that.
Well they did the MRI and came out with an official press release saying:
The results of the MRI indicated a moderate to severe strain of his left quadricep muscle. Ramirez will be re-evaluated on Friday.
Hard to decipher how long he'll be out, but there's just no good reason to risk anything at this point. Normally in these situations and considering how remote the Cubs chances at the playoffs are at this point, you'd bring up some lil' Cub who may have a future with the ballclub and see what they can do. In this case it would be Mike Fontenot who normally plays second base but has experiemented with third base a bit. But this is the Cubs and Dusty and I'm sure they're still suffering from delusions that a huge winning streak is just around the corner, plus you got to reward Macias and Neifi for the great years they're having. Thus I fully expect Nosferatu to man the corner spot for as long as Ramirez is out and now I think 70 wins might be a reach. This also may be a crushing blow to any chance Lee had at the Triple Crown as their is just absolutely not one good reason to pitch to him anymore with people on base. What a season!
It's bullet-point Wednesday! * I saw exactly one at-bat of last night's game. I turned it on in the 4th to see the score, watched Jeromy Burnitz hit his granny, and then turned it off and went to sleep (I was tired!). Therefore, I have a completely skewed concept of what last night's game was all about. I was happy to wake up and see the touchy-feely stories about Jerome Williams and his dad, sad (but not surprised) to see the latest in the shortstop saga, and psyched when I remembered that it was Prior's turn to pitch. I should be able to get home in time for the end of the game (one advantage to living in the Eastern time zone), and that might be the last baseball I see for a little while as I am headed to India on a business trip at the end of the week. * When the Cubs signed Greg Maddux, I was happy because I felt that a talented young picher like Mark Prior would have a lot to learn from him. I didn't think that one of the things he'd learn would be how to give up home runs. Maddux's HR/9 rate skyrocketed upon his return to Chicago -- it was 0.53 for the first 18 years of his career, and is 1.39 over the last two seasons. In his first three seasons, Prior gave up 43 homers in 446 2/3 IP. That's .87 homers per 9 innings. This year, he's given up 21 in 125 1/3 IP, a rate of 1.51 HR/9. Is it something to be worried about? Probably not, but you know me. * Why did the Braves take Jorge Sosa out of the rotation in the first place? Oh, right, because injured starters Mike Hampton and John Thomson were on their way back. Here's what Sosa did during his 12-game stint in the rotation: 12 GS, 5-2, 2.77 ERA, 65 IP, 59 H, 47 K/26 BB Here's how Hampton & Thompson have done since their return: 5 GS, 1-3, 6.64 ERA, 21 2/3 IP, 43 H, 12 K/7 BB And Hampton is, of course, back on the DL, with Sosa starting in his place this afternoon. * I have nothing to do with the "Cardinals are birds of prey" add that has popped up in the Blogads in the right-hand column (though I do appreciate the profane typo). Bring back Rachel Wacholder, I say! * I don't have any problem with backup catchers -- every team has to have one -- but a problem arises when two of your starters prefer to throw to hm. Instead of throwing away that spot in the order once a week (14% of the time, roughly), you're throwing it away 40% of the time. If your backup catcher is as craptastic as Henry Blanco, that's a real problem. The solution? Get a better backup catcher or get your starters comfortable with the front-line guy. Meanwhile, on to today's game: GAME 127 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] ATLANTA BRAVES (71-55) @ CHICAGO CUBS (61-65) WRIGLEY FIELD, 1:20 pm CDT, TV: WGN, FSS, DTV 734
Mark Prior, RHP
9-4, 3.66 ERA
140/41 K/BB, 21 HR in 125 1./3 IP
John Thomson, RHP
8-2, 2.63 ERA
64/45 K/BB, 10 HR in 92 1/3 IP
SS #Rafael Furcal LF *Matt Lawton
2B Marcus Giles 2B *Todd Walker
3B #Larry W. Jones 1B Derrek Lee
CF Andruw Jones 3B Aramis Ramirez
1B Julio Franco RF *Jeromy Burnitz
RF Jeff Francoeur SS Neifi Perez
LF *Ryan Langerhans CF *Corey Patterson
C *Brian McCann C Henry Blanco
P Jorge Sosa P Mark Prior
GAME 126 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] ATLANTA BRAVES (71-54) @ CHICAGO CUBS (60-65) WRIGLEY FIELD, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: TmS, CSN
Jerome Williams, RHP
3-6, 5.13 ERA
46/28 K/BB, 11 HR in 72.0 IP
John Thomson, RHP
3-3, 4.53 ERA
39/16 K/BB, 4 HR in 59.2 IP
SS #Rafael Furcal LF *Matt Lawton
2B Marcus Giles 2B *Todd Walker
3B #Chipper F. Jones 1B Derrek Lee
CF Andruw Jones 3B Aramis Ramirez
1B *Adam LaRoche RF *Jeromy Burnitz
RF Jeff Francoeur C Michael Barrett
LF *Kelly Johnson SS #Neifi Perez
C #Johnny Estrada CF Jerry Hairston
P John Thomson P Jerome Williams
Keep hitting homers Lee and I hope the Cubs pitchers do their best to avoid Andruw Jones. Help a brother out, you know! I want something substantial to root for the rest of the season and the Triple Crown is still very much within reach. Go Cubs!!!
This from cubs.com:
[Felix] Pie will be one of seven Cubs players in the Arizona Fall League. The others include second baseman [Eric] Patterson, outfielder [Matt] Murton, first baseman Brandon Sing, utility player Buck Coates and pitchers David Aardsma and Angel Guzman. One more pitcher will be named to the Mesa Solar Sox team, Cubs player development director Oneri Fleita said.
That seems to conflict with 2 of the AFL eligibility rules which are: ï Each Major League team provides 6 players. There are 6 teams in the AFL, each one a mix of 5 MLB teams players. ï All Triple-A and Double-A players are eligible, but they must have been on at least a Double-A roster no later than August 1st. ï One player below the Double-A level is allowed per MLB team. ï One foreign player is allowed, as long as they do not live in a country that has a winter ball league, including the Carribbean Confederations or Australian Winter League. ï No Players with more than one year of ML service (before August 31st) are allowed. The exception are any players picked in the Rule 5 draft. ï Players on disabled lists in the minors must have been activated 45 days before the end of their season to be eligible. Guzman is from Venezuela and Pie is from the Dominican Republic and Pie is expected to be activated Saturday, which is certainly not 45 days before the end of the AA season which finishes it's season at the end of the month. If they are referring to the end of the MLB season, it's still not 45 days by my calculations. Is Cubs.com wrong or is there explanation? And if Pie is going with Guzman, I have to find a way to get to Arizona for a couple of games. Any guesses on the other pitcher? I'm thinking Jermaine Van Buren or Ricky Nolasco. ---- Things to make you shiver... "One guy you've got to really be thankful for is Neifi Perez," Baker said of the backup shortstop who has started 89 games at the position. Garciaparra has started 24. "Hopefully, Neifi comes to the rescue again until Nomar gets better." "In that situation, you've got to take a chance, especially because Corey [Patterson's] not going real good right now," Baker said. "You've got to take a shot right there. He threw it on target."
GAME 125 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] ATLANTA BRAVES (70-54) @ CHICAGO CUBS (60-64) WRIGLEY FIELD, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: Comcast
Carlos Zambrano, RHP
10-5, 3.07 ERA
149/69 K/BB, 12 HR in 164.1 IP
Tim Hudson, RHP
9-7, 3.45 ERA
83/49 K/BB, 11 HR in 133.0 IP
SS #Rafael Furcal SS LF *Matt Lawton
2B Marcus Giles 2B *Todd Walker
3B #Chipper F. Jones 1B Derrek Lee
CF Andruw Jones 3B Aramis Ramirez
1B *Adam LaRoche RF *Jeromy Burnitz
RF Jeff Francoeur C Michael Barrett
LF *Kelly Johnson SS #Neifi Perez
C Johnny Estrada CF *Corey Patterson
P Tim Hudson C #Carlos Zambrano
Here I am, so excited to actually sit down and watch the game, that I totally forgot to post the lineups. The Braves come to town with their rookie sensation Jeff Francoeur, who has yet to draw an unintentional walk. I'm going to go out on a limb and say he'll get at least one against the Cubs. The Cubs have to win. Every day, they have to win if they thingk they have a chance at the playoffs (which they don't). But, if they don't win every day (which they won't) I'm going to do my best to be like Al. Which is not so say I'm going to ignore the myriad problems with this team, but rather that I will do my best to pay attention to the positive things that have happened, are happening, and will continue to happen between now and the end of March.
Team Records updated through 8/21/05; Individual Stats updated through 8/21/05
Organizational Records
TeamW-LGB/Pos.Last 10
Chicago Cubs60-64(Div)18.0/4th
(WC)6.5/7th
6-4
Iowa Cubs58-6710.0/4th3-7
West Tenn Diamond Jaxx*31-241.5/2nd5-5
Daytona Cubs27-286.0/5th7-3
Peoria Chiefs26-316.0/8th3-7
Boise Hawks25-343.0/3rd4-6
AZL Cubs6-137.5/9th4-6
Cubs Ex W/L: 60-64; (2003) 64-60; (2004) 68-56 * West Tennessee clinched the first half North Division title of the Southern League
Apparently over in Red Sox Nation things aren't so peachy. There seems to be some sort of front-office struggle bertween GM Theo Epstein and president John Henry, the result being a ton of roster moves that defy logic like the continual jerking back and forth of 3B Kevin Youkilis and the Millar-Petagine-Olerud three-headed monster at first. Now, apparently, some are suggesting that manager Terry Francona should be fired. Keep in mind this is the defending World Champs, who currently enjoy a four-game lead in the AL East. Our A-B compadre, Evan Brunell, takes a look at whether Francona has helped or hurt the Sox during his tenure. I think it's amazing that this discussion is even going on, but given that it is I think Evan takes a good look at it. Boston fans, if you're really clamoring for a change, I'm sure the Cubs would let Grady Little out of his contract...
Six Cubs will be playing in the Arizona Fall League this year for the Mesa Solar Sox. RHP David Aardsma RHP Angel Guzman SS/CF Buck Coats OF Matt Murton 2B Eric Patterson 1B/OF Brandon Sing Not exactly who I would have expected, but I'm not exactly sure who makes a good candidate for the AFL. According to the article, the AFL is for AA and AAA prospects and only one player below AA is allowed per major league team, in our case, that would be Eric Patterson. Last year the Cubs sent, LHP Sean Marshall, RHP Jae Kuk Ryu, LHP Russ Rohlicek, C Geovany Soto, SS Ronny Cedeno, 1B Brian Dopirak and OF Adam Greenberg. Greenberg was a member of the "Taxi Squad" and could only play on Wednesday and Saturdays. Wacky!! The 2003 roster featured RHP David Cash (no idea), RHP Ben Christensen, RHP Jason Szuminski, C Casey Kopitzke, INF Brendan Harris, INF Ryan Theriot (also a "Taxi Squad") member, and OF Jason Dubois. Organizational Report will be up either late today or tomorrow.
I looked up from my dissertation just long enough to notice that Adam Greenberg has made The Paper of Record. It's odd that they would decide to run an article on him now, all of the sudden. But it's a fine piece, framing both him and Dusty Baker in a very nice, sympathetic light. Sadly, it seems that Greenberg still struggles with lingering effects of the beaning. Sorry I can't write more, but I encourage you to check it out.
GAME 124 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (60-63) @ COLORADO ROCKIES (46-77) COORS FIELD, 2:05 pm CDT, TV: WGN, KTVD
Jeff Francis, LHP
11-9, 5.80 ERA
104/55 K/BB, 19 HR in 141.0 IP
Greg Maddux, RHP
10-9, 4.40 ERA
101/28 K/BB, 21 HR in 163.2 IP
LF Jerry Hairston Jr. 2B Luis Gonzalez
2B #Neifi Perez CF * Cory Sullivan
1B Derrek Lee 1B *Todd Helton
3B Aramis Ramirez LF Matt Holliday
SS Nomar Garciaparra 3B Garrett Atkins
RF *Jeromy Burnitz RF Dustan Mohr
C Michael Barrett C #J.D. Closser
CF *Corey Patterson SS *Omar Quintanilla
P Greg Maddux P *Jeff Francis
Playoffs or not, we can take a series from the Rockies, right? The quest for 15 wins continues for Maddux, he needs 5 wins in 7-8 more starts. Go Maddux!!!
...but the radar shows it should clear soon. GAME 123 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (60-62) @ COLORADO ROCKIES (45-77) COORS FIELD, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: WGN
Aaron Cook, RHP
1-1, 5.16 ERA
9/5 K/BB, 0 HR in 22.2 IP
Glendon Rusch, LHP
5-5, 4.28 ERA
81/42 K/BB, 10 HR in 101.0 IP
LF *Matt Lawton SS Luis Gonzalez
2B *Todd Walker 2B #Aaron Miles
1B Derrek Lee 1B *Todd Helton
3B Aramis Ramirez LF Matt Holliday
RF *Jeromy Burnitz 3B Garrett Atkins
C Michael Barrett RF Dustan Mohr
SS #Neifi Perez C Todd Greene
CF *Corey Patterson CF *Larry Bigbie
P *Glendon Rusch P Aaron Cook
GAME 122 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (59-62) @ COLORADO ROCKIES (45-76) COORS FIELD, 4:05 pm CDT, TV: CSN, Fox Sports Rocky Mountain
Byung-Hyun Kim, RHP
3-9, 5.33 ERA
82/50 K/BB, 10 HR in 103.0 IP
Mark Prior, RHP
8-4, 3.70 ERA
130/39 K/BB, 20 HR in 119.1 IP
LF *Matt Lawton 2B Luis Gonzalez
2B *Todd Walker RF *Jorge Piedra
1B Derrek Lee LF Matt Holliday
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Todd Helton
RF *Jeromy Burnitz 3B Garrett Atkins
SS #Neifi Perez CF *Larry Bigbie
CF *Corey Patterson C Danny Ardoin
C Henry Blanco SS *Omar Quintanilla
P Mark Prior P Byung-Hun Kim
Games at Coors Field always make me think of video game baseball. It seems playing here is like playing one of EA's video games on the Rookie Level, where you could hit a HR pretty much anytime you needed it. Just push up on the joystick and swing, Voila, 3 run blast! To keep the optimism going around here, I took a look at the Cubs upcoming schedule. Here's a quick breakdwon:

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