GAME 111 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (54-56) @ NEW YORK METS (56-54) SHEA STADIUM, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: ESPN
Victor Zambrano, RHP
5-9, 4.19 ERA
76/57 K/BB, 10 HR in 118.0 IP
Carlos Zambrano, RHP
8-4, 3.24 ERA
132/64 K/BB, 12 HR in 147.0 IP
LF *Matt Lawton SS #Jose Reyes
2B #Neifi Perez 2B Miguel Cairo
1B Derrek Lee CF #Carlos Beltran
3B Aramis Ramirez LF *Cliff Floyd
SS Nomar Garciaparra 3B David Wright
RF *Todd Hollandsworth RF Mike Cameron
C Michael Barrett C Mike Piazza
CF #Jose Macias 1B *Marlon Anderson
P #Carlos Zambrano P #Victor Zambrano
Both Zambranos are switch hitters. That's pretty cool. Enjoy the Joe Morgan broadcast...
GAME 110 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (54-55) @ NEW YORK METS (55-54) SHEA STADIUM, 12:20 pm CDT, TV: FOX
Jae Seo, RHP
2-1, 2.00 ERA
14/3 K/BB, 3 HR in 18.0 IP
Greg Maddux, RHP
8-8, 4.67 ERA
86/24 K/BB, 20 HR in 140.2 IP
LF *Matt Lawton SS #Jose Reyes
2B *Todd Walker 2B Miguel Cairo
1B Derrek Lee CF #Carlos Beltran
3B Aramis Ramirez LF *Cliff Floyd
RF *Jeromy Burnitz 3B David Wright
SS #Neifi Perez RF Mike Cameron
CF #Jose Macias 1B *Marlon Anderson
C Henry Blanco C Ramon Castro
P Greg Maddux P *Tom Glavine
Perez, Macias and Blanco that is. When you include the pitcher in things, it really is almost laughable that there are so many days when we're fielding just five proper hitters. Still, that'd probably have been enough had the Mets sent out Kaz Ishii as scheduled. He's not a proper pitcher - he could probably walk the three blind mice to load the bases and give up a Greg Maddux grand slam. Sadly, the Mets came to their senses and so they sent him to the minors, and now the Cubs will have to face Jae Seo today...
GAME 109 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (54-54) @ NEW YORK METS (54-54) SHEA STADIUM, 6:10 pm CDT, TV: WGN, WPIX
Tom Glavine, LHP
7-9, 4.50 ERA
56/47 K/BB, 8 HR in 128.0 IP
Rich Hill, LHP
0-0, 3.78 ERA
18/7 K/BB, 2 HR in 16.2 IP
LF *Matt Lawton SS #Jose Reyes
2B *Todd Walker RF Mike Cameron
1B Derrek Lee CF #Carlos Beltran
3B Aramis Ramirez LF *Cliff Floyd
SS Nomar Garciaparra 3B David Wright
RF *Jeromy Burnitz C Mike Piazza
CF #Jose Macias 1B Chris Woodward
C Michael Barrett 2B Miguel Cairo
P *Rich Hill P *Tom Glavine
In an attempt to salvage the season, the Cubs are going to attempt a final, desperate treatment, both experimental and controversial. If successful, it could breathe life into a lifeless team, although the chances of success are remote. On offense, the Cubs will take an injection of Nomar-oxolin, something that certainly should improve run production but has the nasty side effect of allowing balls to travel safely into left and centerfield while the Cubs pitchers look upon in bewilderment. Of course with 2 backup shortstops now on the roster, Dusty can start making switches for defensive purposes as early as the 5th inning. Maybe we can petition the league to allow us to play a 10th man as a permanent short centerfield. For the bullpen, it will be alternating doses of Woodfil-citrate and Scott-exin. The pills are considered too volatile to be used on an everday basis and the side effects can be nasty. Woodfil-citrate was once considered a powerful drug to be used every 5th day and expected to provide positive results. The FDA has soured on it since and only considers it a last ditch attempt when all else has failed. It should now be used in only smaller, less potent doses until further modifications are made in the offseason. It could provide a boost, but it's more likely to result in chronic shoulder pain. Scott-exin has been effective in the past, but recent worries over it's stability and unstable structure have led it to be shelved for almost a year. Although there are hopes that it can be useful in the immediate future, chances are it won't reach it's full effectiveness until next season. The Cubs hopes now lie with the infusion of this merry band of three, can they resurrect our season? That's an awful lot of weight to put on a bad groin, an achey shoulder and a patchwork elbow. SBUC OG!! (Rally Cry)
Because this season terminates here? Well, the last few days might suggest as much, because you don't need me to tell you that 4-6 against the Giants, Diamondbacks and Phillies just doesn't cut it. Then again, there's still some reason for hope: today the Cubs activated Nomar Garciaparra, Kerry Wood and Scott Williamson from the disabled list, disabled Jerry Hairston, demoted Sergio Mitre to Triple-A Iowa, and designated Mike Remlinger for assignment. Is it enough to save this team? Not in my opinion.
On Wednesday night, with the bases loaded and the game tied, one out in the bottom of the ninth, Mike Wuertz struck out Pat Burrell swinging. Michael Barrett though allowed the ball to get away, and though he recovered in time to catch Jimmy Rollins in no man's land, marooned between third and home, Barrett then literally threw the game away. What ought to have been a simple inning-ending rundown turned into a catastrophic game-ending score. And that led me to think, just how bad is Barrett's defence? And to what extent does it undermine his rather more quantifiable offensive value? The common consensus, which is based based largely on just watching the two behind the plate and with which I agree, is that Barrett is at best a mediocre defensive catcher, but that Henry Blanco is a fine defender, one of the best in the game. Perhaps it would be interesting to monitor just how the two have fared so far this year. There are plenty of complex defensive metrics around that aim to measure defence, but I generally find them just too obscenely obscure, abstract, incalculable, contradictory etcetera. But Catcher ERA, a very simple yet alarmingly crude and therefore flawed statistic, gave me an idea - calculate each pitcher's line throwing to Barrett, and then their line throwing to Blanco, and see what that throws up. And so I did...
GAME 108 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (54-53) @ PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (56-52) CITIZENS BANK PARK, 12:10 pm CDT, TV: WGN, CSN
Brett Myers, RHP
9-5, 3.21 ERA
135/41K/BB, 18 HR in 140.0 IP
Mark Prior, RHP
7-3, 3.26 ERA
105/20 K/BB, 14 HR in 102.0 IP
LF *Matt Lawton SS #Jimmy Rollins
2B *Todd Walker CF Jason Michaels
1B Derrek Lee 2b *Chase Utley
3B Aramis Ramirez RF *Bobby Abreu
RF *Jeromy Burnitz LF Pat Burrell
SS #Neifi Perez 1B *Ryan Howard
CF #Jose Macias 3B David Bell
C Henry Blanco C Todd Pratt
P Mark Prior P Brett Myers
The paramedics are coming tomorrow in the form of Nomar, Wood and Williamson, although I'm not sure if you can resuscitate a smoldering corpse. Today's game was a fantasy conflict for me, as I have both Myers and Prior on my team. Normally I root for a 1-0 victory by the Cubs in these cases, with the winning run scored against the opposing teams bullpen. But, more first inning shenanigans by Prior and now I'm just rooting for us to save our season. I do my best not to label anything a must-win game before September but this is about as close as you can get. Go Cubs!!!!
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.

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