GAME 107 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (54-52) @ PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (55-52) CITIZENS BANK PARK, 6:05 pm CDT, TV: CLTV, CSN
Robinson Tejeda, RHP
2-2, 2.95 ERA
42/39 K/BB, 2 HR in 55.0 IP
Jerome Williams, RHP
3-4, 4.61 ERA
36/20 K/BB, 8 HR in 56.2 IP
LF *Matt Lawton SS #Jimmy Rollins
CF Jerry Hairston CF *Kenny Lofton
1B Derrek Lee 2b *Chase Utley
RF *Jeromy Burnitz RF *Bobby Abreu
3B Aramis Ramirez LF Pat Burrell
2B *Todd Walker 1B *Ryan Howard
SS #Neifi Perez 3B David Bell
C Michael Barrett C Mike Lieberthal
P Jerome Williams P Robinson Tejeda
How nice of the managers to put out the same lineups as last night, makes putting together these previews much simpler. Unfortunately for the Cubs, Jerome Williams doesn't handle the lefties as well as Big Z normally does. Something to watch for in tonights game. I wasn't witness to the cardiac moments of last nights game, but by all accounts it seems the Cubs staved off flatlining the season for at least another day. Today they face what appears to be a rookie having quite a nice little season when you look at that ERA. Then you look at his K/BB ratio and the fact that he's walking 6.4 per 9 innings and you realize he's ripe for a drubbin'. Sure he seems to keep the ball in the park (no small feat at Citizens Bank) as well as probably being the benefactor of some outstanding defense. But if there was ever a night for the Cubs offense to remain patient at the plate, tonight would be the night. Go Cubs!
Faced with a glut of outfielders, the Giants designated Marquis Grissom for assignment yesterday. Normally, I'm all against signing aging players who are showing a considerable decline in their skills. BUT, over the last 3 years there is one thing that Grissom has done well and it's something we are in the need of. The boy's been mashing lefties... against lefties from 2002-2004: .325/.369/.616 against righties from 2002-2004: .272/.303/.414 It could very well be just a statistical anomaly as his career splits look like this... vs. lefites .285/.336/.467 vs. righties .266/.310/.393 Still, quite a measured difference in slugging. He has been rather horrible this season against all pitchers, but he's been injured as well, so his at-bats have been limited. The only reason to do this would be to get a respectable right handed bat to be used off the bench as we're very much lacking that. Right now the options for Baker are, Murton (on the days he doesn't start), Macias, Blanco or Barrett depending on who's starting that day, and soon to be Neifi/Garciaparra, once again, depending on who's starting. Since I can't tell you how much I dislike carrying 12 pitchers, all the more reason to find a guy who can fill a more needed and useful role. Of course, the more I think about it, the more I realize what a dangerous situation it would be. Dusty could very well fall in love with Marquis's veteran moxie and end up using him over Murton and Hairston, including a number of unnecessary starts. His defense is just about as bad, if not worse then Hairston's, so there's another knock against him. And what we really need is bullpen help (unless Wood/Williamson are the saviors.....to say the least I have my doubts) and preferably a more dependable starter to insert behind Prior/Zambrano. Anyway, just something I saw today and thought Hendry could look into.
GAME 106 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (53-52) @ PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (55-51) CITIZENS BANK PARK, 6:05 pm CDT, TV: CSN
Vicente Padilla, RHP
5-9, 5.45 ERA
54/42 K/BB, 16 HR in 79.1 IP
Carlos Zambrano, RHP
7-4, 3.43 ERA
128/61 K/BB, 12 HR in 139.0 IP
LF *Matt Lawton SS #Jimmy Rollins
CF Jerry Hairston CF *Kenny Lofton
1B Derrek Lee 2b *Chase Utley
RF *Jeromy Burnitz RF *Bobby Abreu
3B Aramis Ramirez LF Pat Burrell
2B *Todd Walker 1B *Ryan Howard
SS #Neifi Perez 3B David Bell
C Michael Barrett C Mike Lieberthal
P #Carlos Zambrano P #Vicente Padilla
Wow, that's a lot of lefties in the Phillies lineup. Luckily Big Z handles them almost as effortlessly as he does the righties. I suppose we found the answer to the "Where Will Matt Lawton Play" sweepstakes? Sorry, Murton. Let's hope that he still gets to play against lefties as Lawton doesn't hit those southpaws all so well. As anyone could have predicted, Dusty pretty much went with alternating righties and lefties down the order, so let's hope we have a few more Felipe Alou's out there. I made my point last week that we needed to do a lot better in our homestand if the playoffs were to be reached this year. So we've now moved onto having to roll over the competition rather then just beating them soundly. And since the teams we face this week are some of our direct competition, 5 out of 6 is just about mandatory. And with three-fifths of our rotation nothing more than average, that will be a tough task to accomplish, unless Lawton can inspire our offense to another nice stretch of healthy run scoring. Go Cubs!
When the Cubs acquired Jody Gerut just a fortnight ago, I wrote that...
With so many similar hitters to Gerut, it's difficult to see just exactly where he fits in right now. I suspect though that Gerut will replace Ben Grieve on the major league roster with immediate effect, thereby effectively ending his Cub career, and that we won't see Adam Greenberg again this season either. Dusty will probably use Gerut in a straight platoon with Jerry Hairston as the centre fielder and leadoff hitter, which, despite Hairston's reverse splits, is probably the right way to go. It would not surprise me if, having become an irrelevance, Hairy were then traded before the deadline... And, finally, if Gerut performs, particularly with regard to his power returning, this could mean the end for Corey Patterson in Chicago. For such a seemingly minor move, this trade could end up having some pretty major long-term ramifications. We will see.
That all fell down from the "Dusty will probably..." bit onwards, perhaps because the great man's allergic to "the right way to go". Gerut made just two starts for the Cubs in his shortest of tenures, neither in centre field, where he didn't play an inning for the Cubs. And the second of those starts was cut short by the trade. Otherwise, he was limited to occasional pinch-hitting and late-inning defensive work in left field. In all, he went 1-for-14 as a Cub, with a double, two walks and three strikeouts, and a single run scored. It was Gerut himself that became the irrelevance, not Hairston, and Gerut that quickly found himself traded. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for that is that it's not been hard to see where Gerut's power has gone. His swing right now consists of a real downward chop on the ball, and groundballs have a nasty habit of not going over the fences. Without power, and with an enormous platoon split, in the long-term Gerut is highly unlikely to amount to anything as a starting major league outfielder. It may be that the Cubs have seen enough to think that Gerut's power may not be coming back any time soon, and that it's time to move him now before other teams come to the same conclusion. Whether or not the Cubs would be right in such an assessment of course remains to be seen. Whatever, it turns out the trade of Dubois for Gerut will have no long-term ramifications at all. Instead, it's this new trade, for Matt Lawton, that holds potentially interesting implications...
Team Records updated through 7/31/05; Individual Stats updated through 7/31/05
Organizational Records
TeamW-LGB/Pos.Last 10
Chicago Cubs53-52(Div)13.5/3rd
(WC)4.0/5th
5-5
Iowa Cubs48-5810.5/3rd2-8
West Tenn Diamond Jaxx*22-140.0/1st6-4
Daytona Cubs14-229.0/5th5-5
Peoria Chiefs17-206.0/5th6-4
Boise Hawks19-210.0/1st6-4
AZL Cubs0-33.0/9th0-3
Cubs Ex W/L: 53-52; (2003) 53-52; (2004) 57-48 * West Tennessee clinched the first half North Division title of the Southern League
The Cubs acquired OF Matt Lawton from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for OF Jody Gerut. I also stumbled across this tidbit which hasn't been widely reported.
The Pirates also sent the Cubs cash in the deal.
Goodness, what else did Hendry get in the deal, a free car wash, Littlefield's first 2 children, a tropical cruise, use of the company jet, free cellular minutes? Lawton's stats: 2005: .273/.380/.433 16/25 SB opportunities Career: .269/.370/.422 163/229 SB opportunities He hasn't played centerfield since 2000 for the Twins and not regularly since 1998, so I assume he'll either take over full-time left field duties or platoon with Matt Murton. Either way, the days of Todd Hollandsworth starting should be over. Dusty's ideas for a lineup are quite different then mine, but Lawton should immediately be put in the leadoff role. I'd try something like this. LF Lawton 2b Walker 1B Lee 3B Ramirez RF Burnitz C Barrett CF Hairston SS Perez P Pitcher Spot and when Garciaparra returns... LF Lawton SS Garciaparra 1b Lee 3b Ramirez RF Burnitz 2b Walker C Barrett CF Hairston P Pitcher Spot and if Lawton cares to play center or Burnitz in center, I mean, either can't be much worse then Hairston out there... CF/RF Lawton SS Garciaparra 1b Lee 3b Ramirez RF/CF Burnitz 2b Walker C Barrett LF Murton P Pitcher spot If you believe in the whole Righty-Lefty matchup thing you can even try this... CF/RF Lawton SS Garciaparra 1B Lee RF/CF Burnitz 3b Ramirez 2b Walker C Barrett LF Murton P Pitcher spot Overall I like the deal and it certainly addresses one of our biggest offensive issues. Of course, our starting pitching is mediocre, the bullpen still sucks, and we just lost 3 out of 4 to a sub .500 team at home, but whatever. It's a nice move, although I feel bad for Jody Gerut, who Cubs management told was going to be around for awhile. Kind of a bush league move to make towards a kid from Chicago. But I guess you can't pass up a good opportunity. Lawton is making 7.5 million this year and is a free agent after the season. He may lead to Burnitz's option not getting picked up this off-season and moving into the right field spot for next year as well. Time will tell. [ruz]: Well done again, Mr. Hendry, and why does Dave Littlefield keep taking your calls? Lawton provides an immediate upgrade in the outfield -- he's hitting 276/382/438 and has stolen 16 of 25 attempted bases -- and will look good at the top of the batting order. He's also a plus defender and a guy the Cubs might want to consider bringing back next year.
GAME 105 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (51-55) @ CHICAGO CUBS (53-51) WRIGLEY FIELD, 1:20pm CDT, TV: WGN, KTVK
Greg Maddux, RHP
8-7, 4.41 ERA
85/23 K/BB, 19 HR in 136.2 IP
Brandon Webb, RHP
8-8, 4.11 ERA
101/41 K/BB, 15 HR in 142.1 IP
2B *Craig Counsell CF Jerry Hairston
RF *Chad Tracy 2B *Todd Walker
LF *Luis Gonzalez 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Tony Clark RF *Jeromy Burnitz
3B Troy Glaus 3B Aramis Ramirez
CF *Shawn Green LF *Jody Gerut
SS Royce Clayton SS #Neifi Perez
C Chris Snyder C Michael Barrett
P Brandon Webb P Greg Maddux
No, not just because of the way this season seems to be slipping away from us inch by inch as we lose games because we can't score runs off Mike Gosling, but because Brandon Webb has one of the best sinking fastballs in the game. With Jody Gerut's downward chop of a swing, I'm betting on a lot of him grounding into a double play or two today.
Low-90s fastball, fine slider, side-arm herky-jerky motion, and these minor league numbers...
YearIPHHRBBKERASV
Double-A West Tenn200453.023224641.8721
Triple-A Iowa2004/0546.227617581.9319
Pringles Park, the home of the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, plays very much like the pitcher's park, and the Southern League as a whole is a pitcher's best friend too. But Van Buren, a former Rockies top prospect, now 25 and just over a year and a half removed from the Independent Leagues, has taken the same kind of success to Iowa and the Pacific Coast League, which is very much hitter friendly. With our bullpen in Chicago not exactly dependable, what's not to like? And what's to lose? The flagrant underemployment of Sergio Mitre, who's thrown just 3 innings since the All-Star Break? Send him to Iowa, or preferably elsewhere today via trade, anywhere where the innings will come thicker and faster, and give Van Buren the shot that he deserves.
Phil Garner, Davey Lopes, Steve Sax, Glenn Hubbard, Tommy Herr, Bill Doran, Bobby Grich, Chico Lind, Manny Trillo, Willie Randolph, Damaso Garcia, Johnny Ray, Lou Whitaker, Frank White, Juan Samuel, Julio Franco, Harold Reynolds, Jose Oquendo Running through these names is all that needs to be done to understand why Ryne Sandberg is a Hall of Famer, and should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer. For a decade, Sandberg was unarguably the elite second baseman of the Major Leagues, both offensively and defensively.
GAME 104 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (50-55) @ CHICAGO CUBS (53-50) WRIGLEY FIELD, 3:05pm CDT, TV: WGN
Rich Hill, LHP
0-0, 4.22 ERA
14/5 K/BB, 1 HR in 10.2 IP
Mike Gosling, LHP
0-2, 4.13 ERA
10/14 K/BB, 1 HR in 24.0 IP
SS Royce Clayton CF Jerry Hairston
2B #Alex Cintron 2B *Todd Walker
LF *Luis Gonzalez 1B Derrek Lee
3B Troy Glaus 3B Aramis Ramirez
RF *Shawn Green RF *Jeromy Burnitz
1B Conor Jackson C Michael Barrett
CF Luis Terrero SS #Neifi Perez
C #Koyie Hill LF Matt Murton
P *Mike Gosling P *Rich Hill

Use this thread to discuss all the rumors that are flying around as Sunday's non-waiver trading deadline ticks ever closer...
GAME 103 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (50-54) @ CHICAGO CUBS (52-50) WRIGLEY FIELD, 1:20 CDT TV: WGN, Fox Sports Arizona
Mark Prior, RHP
7-3, 3.23 ERA
97/30 K/BB, 14 HR in 94.2 IP
Javier Vasquez, RHP
9-9, 4.37 ERA
127/24 K/BB, 20 HR in 140.0 IP
2B *Craig Counsell CF Jerry Hairston
RF *Chad Tracy SS #Neifi Perez
LF *Luis Gonzalez 1B Derrek Lee
3B Troy Glaus RF *Jeromy Burnitz
1B #Tony Clark 2B *Todd Walker
CF *Shawn Green LF Matt Murton
SS Royce Clayton 3B #Jose Macias
C Chris Snyder C Henry Blanco
P Javier Vasquez P Mark Prior
Let's hope this game turns out as well as the first time we faced Vasquez on Opening Day. I'm supposing that Ramirez's quad injury is acting up and that's why we're subjected to another Jose Macias start. Looks like Holly is back to the bench as Murton gets his first start versus a righty this season. I'm sure if he does well, Dusty will take all the credit. As I mentioned in the comments of the last post, if we can't take a series from the D'Backs at home, Hendry needs to keep his eye more focused on the seasons beyond this one, which means looking to move some of our veterans if the price is right. It doesn't have to be a fire sale, but anything that gets us better for 2006 and beyond should be considered if the cost is 2005. Of course a 3 game winning streak will change my opinion. Go Cubs!!!
GAME 68 PREVIEW CHICAGO CUBS (34-33) at MILWAUKEE BREWERS (31-37) Miller Park, 7:05pm CT, TV: FSN, CSN
SP Tomo Ohka SP Greg Maddux
SS #Neifi Perez CF Brady Clark
CF *Corey Patterson 3B Jeff Cirillo
1B Derrek Lee 1B *Lyle Overbay
RF *Jeromy Burnitz LF Carlos Lee
3B Aramis Ramirez SS Bill Hall
2B *Todd Walker 2B Rickie Weeks
LF *Todd Hollandsworth RF *Geoff Jenkins
C Henry Blanco C Damien Miller
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
Losing six of seven is a good way to find yourself too close to Mr 500 than is comfortable with a payroll this sizeable. The Cubs now have four against the Brewers to put this right before they head over to US Cellular Field this weekend to wrap up interleague play for the year. Meanwhile, it's becoming quite obvious that Dusty Baker neither reads The Cub Reporter nor thinks along similar lines. It may be the thinking part that's giving him the trouble there. Neifi and Corey continue atop the order, and doubtless they'll do their absolute best to sabotage Derrek Lee's already improbable triple crown bid from there tonight as always. Keep your eyes on the second base prize that is Rickie Weeks. He's a kid that's got a lot of talent but strikes out an unhealthy rate. Sound familiar? Meanwhile, note Lyle Overbay's sub-.300 average! Tomo Ohka was acquired by the Brewers from the Nationals for Junior Spivey. Ohka's peripherals say the only way his current 2.86 ERA is going is up, up, up and away! It'll be nice to see the pitchers batting again. I know I don't fit the traditionalist bill, but I really abhore the designated hitter. Besides missing out on the comedy value of pitchers hitting, it just seems wrong that a player should be allowed to play only half the game. It also makes the game so less tactical. Hey, Dusty, have you considered managing in the AL? Sorry, that's two cheap shots at Dusty in this post already, but I'm becoming increasingly frustrated with him. Don't forget to drop into the Parachat for in-game discussion! And go Cubs!
Just the other day I was complaining about the state of our bullpen. Now, hardly heartened by events in New York over the weekend, my critical eye is increasingly being tempted to waiver elsewhere. And by elsewhere, I mean the top of our batting order. The Cubs yesterday managed to load the bases with just the one out in the top of the seventh inning when Jason Dubois was predictably plunked. Trailing by four still at that reasonably late stage, putting something on the board then was pretty much essential if the Cubs were to have any chance at all of avoiding the sweep and winning a first ever game in Yankee Stadium. To the plate came Neifi Perez. There was a time earlier in the season when that would have been no bad thing (with only slight reluctance, even I lent my backing to the Vote Neifi! campaign back then!). But it was only when Neifi slapped the second pitch of the at-bat right back to Mussina, who turned the inning-ending double-play, that I thought to take a closer look at Neifi's performance this. And how well the game of baseball as it's played on the field hides even the gravest of sins. For until yesterday when Neifi went 0-for-5 with that big GIDP, with the Neifi-0-meter discontinued I hadn't quite noticed the extent of his slide back to his usual oblivion...
Neifi PerezPABAOBPSLGBABIP
Through April 27th66.393.422.607.404
Since207.251.271.364.257
What slaves baseball players are to the fickle mistress that calls herself BABIP. To start the year, Neifi was seeing the ball so well, his swing was in such perfect sync, his contact was so square and true and/or his luck so lucky that he could put the ball between the foul lines and in front of the fences and on those balls in play hit .404. The only real difference since, bar a little less power, has been those balls in play no longer all going his way. Without the power or patience to weather that drought, Neifi's production has dried up altogether. Periods of hot and cold - they're the story of every player's season (well, except Derrek Lee). It's the balance of those hot and cold streaks that determines a player's overall numbers. And the trouble with Neifi's overall numbers right now, at least until he gets hot again, is that they're simply not good enough. For Neifi, it's been the same for his entire career, a few superficially fruitful years in Coors Field aside. And, that's why, obviously, Neifi signed as a backup shortstop on account of his glove more than anything. The Cubs had no right to expect any more from Neifi than they've received from him to date. Indeed, they were somewhat lucky that he had that hot streak to begin the year in the first place. But the Cubs have the right to demand more both from shortstop and from their lead-off man. It's not acceptable to give the most plate appearances of all your hitters to the man least likely to get anything from them. It's scarcely acceptable that the Cubs give Neifi any plate appearances at all. For that reason, the Cubs should perhaps be seriously considering something extremely radical - giving genuine lead-off hitter Jerry Hairston time at shortstop, defence be damned. Neifi's defence is largely very good, but good enough that we overlook entirely the failures of his bat? Hairston certainly failed to live up his reputation as an above average defensive second baseman earlier this year, but that he had such a reputation in the first place is in itself a positive, and his defence at second shouldn't be written off on the basis of a few clumsy plays in new surroundings. Hairston hadn't played a major league inning at short until a week or so ago, but he grew up a shortstop (and a good one at that if you believe the word of his coaches), and played there regularly in college and occasionally in the minor leagues, so the idea isn't as far-fetched as it may seem. If his defence can cut it, and the experiment will be worth it even if the answer is it can't, Hairston's on-base percentage at the top of the order (and the absence of Neifi not only from the top of the order but the lineup altogether) will really help run-scoring matters. The incentive for Hairston is obvious too - being able to add "can fill in at shortstop" to his resumÈ could add quite a few dollars to his paycheck when free agency rolls around after 2006. At the very least, it's worth a try on the Cubs' part, even if they only want to advertise it as "giving Neifi a much-needed day off here and there". Also batting ahead of Derrek Lee these days is Corey Patterson. That has to change too, and the quicker the better, with Todd Walker, whose knee seems fine to me the way he was running at the weekend, the obvious best "solution" to replace Corey batting second. Maybe more on that, with some idle speculation about Corey's psyche on my part, some other time.
Team Records updated through 6/19/05; Individual Stats updated through 6/19/05
Organizational Records
TeamW-LGB/Pos.Last 10Ex W/LW/L (2003)W/L (2004)
Chicago Cubs34-339.5/2nd4-635-3237-3037-30
Iowa Cubs29-429.0/4th4-628-4332-3941-30
West Tenn Diamond Jaxx*44-250.0/1st5-543-2633-3637-32
Daytona Cubs34-316.0/3rd6-433-32N/AN/A
Peoria Chiefs35-354.0/4th6-436-34N/AN/A
Boise HawksJune 22ndN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
AZL CubsLate JuneN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
* West Tennessee clinched the first half North Division title of the Southern League

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