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
Base Running Follies "I wasn't aggressive running the bases because I knew it was hot and I was trying to stay strong. I saw Ortiz bobble the ball and thought I had a chance. When I tried to slide, I was too late. Last night at home, I could move my toe around and it was much better.' - Carlos Zambrano Paging Tom Skilling "Generally as a good hitter, you find your stroke at about 200 at-bats, plus this is the hitters' time of year. We have a lot of guys from warm-weather places, and they're more comfortable with this [weather].î -Dusty Baker Yogi Baker "Plus, they can hit, If you can hit, sooner or later, you'll hit.'' -Dusty Baker
GAME 66 PREVIEW CHICAGO CUBS (34-31) at NEW YORK YANKEES (34-32) Yankee Stadium, 2:05pm CT, TV: FOX
SP Chien-Ming Wang SP *Glendon Rusch
SS #Neifi Perez SS Derek Jeter
CF *Corey Patterson LF *Tony Womack
1B Derrek Lee RF Gary Sheffield
RF *Jeromy Burnitz 3B Alex Rodriguez
3B Aramis Ramirez DH *Hideki Matsui
2B *Todd Walker C #Jorge Posada
C Michael Barrett CF #Bernie Williams
LF *Todd Hollandsworth 1B *Tino Martinez
DH Jason Dubois 2B *Robinson Cano
Don't forget to drop into the Parachat for in-game discussion!



GAME 66 REVIEW SUICIDE BY BULLPEN
CUBS 1 YANKEES 8
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
W: Chien-Ming Wang (4-2) L: Glendon Rusch (5-3)
Though the Cubs had been trailing 3-0, they had narrowed the deficit to two in the top of the sixth on a Jason Dubois solo home run. It was imperative then that the Cubs consolidated things in the bottom of the inning by keeping the Yankees off the board. When Rusch allowed both Posada and Williams to reach, taking him to 98 pitches, Dusty decided Glendon's mediocre outing had run its full course. With lefties Tino Martinez and Robinson Cano up next, Rich Hill was given the call (the guy's come a long way from being demoted from the Daytona rotation at around this time last year). Showcasing the gorgeous curveball for which he's famed, Hill struckout Martinez with ease, but when he followed that though with a walk to Cano to load the bases with just the one out and the top of the Yankee order up, Dusty motioned to the bullpen again. If the Cubs were ever going to win this one, leaving those bases loaded was the only real option. Not only would that keep the game close, it could just give the Cubs some much needed momentum with which to rally. To achieve that though they needed a dominating pitcher to come in and batten down the hatches, they needed as good a reliever out there as they could possibly muster at this stage in the game. Instead Dusty Baker indefensibly chose Joe Borowski. And the rest is history, as Jeter crushed a high and over the plate, somewhere in the eighties fastball for his first career grand slam, and with it all Cubs hopes of winning the game and or the series were crushed too. If there was any doubt about it before (and there certainly shouldn't have been, because it's been clear for a while now that Borowski is golden brown and lightly buttered toast), there definately cannot be any now. Joe Borowski has to go, and if he'd care to take the bitterly disappointing Cliff Bartosh and the part of Dusty's brain which implores him to persist in making such ridiculous bullpen decisions with him, that'd be much appreciated. Also much appreciated, of course, is the great service Borowski did the Cubs' bullpen in 2002 and 2003, when he surprised many, perhaps even himself, with his imperious relieving. But the time now has come for the Cubs to relieve themselves of the burden Borowski has sadly become, and sentimentality cannot get in the way. With Bartosh and Remlinger both now largely defunct too, the Cubs are currently operating a bullpen, and an eight man one at that, overcrowded with guys they cannot trust with the game on the line. That needs to change. Hendry has dismissed the 'pen's cracks long enough. What can be done? Firstly, Borowski and Bartosh need to find their way off the roster by whatever means possible, and if that means cutting them and paying the rest of their salary for the year, then so be it. Remlinger needs to be put on the trading block, or used solely as a mopup guy if there are no takers of his bloated contract. Jermaine Van Buren, who's been lights out in Iowa (28.2 IP, 17 H, 4 HR, 12 BB, 37 K, 1.88 ERA), needs to follow in the footsteps Borowski once took. And there's no getting away from it, unless Scott Williamson's very close to returning, and rushing him back wouldn't be that wise, the Cubs probably need outside help (and experience) to offset the fact that Wuertz, Wellemeyer, Ohman and Van Buren would have only about 160 major league innings in their careers between them. Who from outside the organisation can help? I think I'll turn that, and my position on this bullpen, over to your debate in the comments...
Our low A team in Boise revealed their roster the other day. C - Jonathan Douillard C - Mark Reed (younger brother of Mariners CF Jeremy Reed) 1B - Chris Gaskin 3B - Brandon Taylor (17th round pick from 2005 draft) 3B - Elvin Puello INF - Jonathon Mota (youngest player on the team at age 18) SS - Jose Rios INF - Scott Hode (24th round pick from 2005 draft; shortstop at Arkansas) OF - Alfred Joseph OF - Carlos Quinones OF - Davy Gregg (27th round pick from 2005 draft) OF - Jeff Culpepper (draft and follow from last year) OF - Jesus Valdes LHP - Andy Santana LHP - Darin Downs LHP - Jesus Yepez LHP - Luke Hagerty (and we were worried he'd stick with the Marlins) LHP - Scott Koerber RHP - Edgar Baez RHP - Michael Hyle (22nd round pick from 2005 draft) RHP - Mitch Atkins RHP - Nick Thompson P - Roger Evenson (15th round pick from 2005 draft) P - Victor Ramos (signed by Cubs after 4 years with Pirates organization) Boise's season begins on June 22nd. In other minor league news, West Tenn clinched a playoff spot on Thursday, but Peoria was eliminated on the same day.
So the Cubs head to Yankee Stadium for a weekend series, and I thought I'd take this opportunity to introduce you all to the team. See, since they're in New York, they don't get the media attention that they probably deserve. They toil in obscurity in a decrepit stadium (which is, thankfully, going to be replaced soon), and because they don't have the revenue to bring their payroll over $200M, they're struggling to stay over .500 and are six games behind the free-spending, large market Orioles. So, herewith, a quick sketch of the 25 guys who wear the pinstripes (which, by the way, are a slap in the face of tradition and ought to be replaced by something in a nice solid-color doubleknit):
I just read this over at FoxSports.com, a little brief snippet on Derrek Lee's chances of winning the triple crown...
Anyhow, if Lee is able to maintain his lead in all three categories, he'll become the first hitter to pull off the feat since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. More notable, however, is that Lee would become the first National League hitter ever to win the triple crown.
I suppose he means other then Paul Hines (1878), Hugh Duffy (1894), Heinie Zimmerman (1912), Rogers Hornsby (1922 & 1925), Chuck Klein (1933) and Joe Medwick (1937). Sheesh... It is Fox Sports though, so what should I expect? [Update] It looks like someone got the word to Mr. Perry as he's changed the wording. It now reads...
Anyhow, if Lee is able to maintain his lead in all three categories, he'll become the first hitter to pull off the feat since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
I didn't mean to pick on the fella - it's the first time I recall reading any of his stuff and the rest of the article was quite enjoyable with some good insights. Anyway, in other news...
GAME 64 PREVIEW FLORIDA MARLINS (32-30) at CHICAGO CUBS (34-29) Wrigley Field, 7:05pm CT, TV: FSFL, WGN
SP Greg Maddux SP A.J. Burnett
CF *Juan Pierre SS #Neifi Perez
2B #Luis Castillo CF *Corey Patterson
LF Miguel Cabrera 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Carlos Delgado RF *Jeromy Burnitz
3B Mike Lowell 3B Aramis Ramirez
C Paul Lo Duca 2B *Todd Walker
RF Juan Encarnacion LF *Todd Hollandsworth
SS Alex Gonzalez C Michael Barrett
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
First things first, Sergio! A wonderful performance blighted only by the return of his facial hair. And the fact no-one now can bring themselves to look past his last sixteen innings or so whenever someone has the audacity to suggest he should be traded. But you know me, though I'm one of Mitre's biggest fans, since before this time last week too, I'm audacious. And trading Mitre now makes a lot of sense. His value may never be higher, this team still has serious needs that can only be resolved via trades, and the Cubs are staring down the barrel of a serious pitching roster crunch come next year, with five or six pitchers the Cubs believe to be major-league ready (Maddux, Rusch, Mitre, Williams, a healthy Guzman and now Rich Hill too) potentially fighting over just two rotation spots behind Prior, Zambrano and Wood. It's a nice position to be in, but something is going to have to give somewhere. What a contrast in styles we'll see today. There's Maddux, of course, who hasn't thrown a pitch over 90mph in years. And then there's A.J. Burnett, who hasn't thrown a pitch over 100mph in, well, the last four days (actually, I'm not even sure of that, he's probably thrown a side session in that time). There's Maddux, who throws more pitches than you can shake a stick at (but no curve) with all the guile in the world. And then there's Burnett, who throws nothing but red-hot heat and knee-buckling power curves (okay, that's not quite true, he does once every few starts throw a change, and that change is about as fast as Maddux's fastball!). There probably couldn't be a greater contrast between two pitchers, at least short of Maddux being left-handed. And yet both at their best are as good as any pitcher in the game. There's more than one way to skin a cat. Go Cubs! And behave yourselves in the comments, or I'll send Greg Maddux over to skin your cat. And you thought he looked like such an amicable guy...
According the Arlington Daily Herald, LHP Rich Hill will get called up this weekend in time for the Yankees series. The club will probably use him out of the bullpen over the weekend, figuring that a player's first major league start in Yankee Stadium would be a bit much. Chances are he'll get his first start next week versus the Brewers. Talk about rapid ascension through the system, Hill, who hadn't pitched above advanced A ball before this season(and rightfully so), suddenly found his control to go along with all those strikeouts. He began the season quite terribly at AA West Tennesse, before finding his groove and then getting the call to go to Iowa a few weeks ago. His stats so far this season: W. Tenn: 4-3 3.28 ERA; 57.2 IP; 21 BB; 90 K; 9 HR Iowa: 1-1 4.34 ERA; 18.2 IP; 6 BB; 29 K; 5 HR Totals: 5-4 3.54 ERA; 76.1 IP; 27 BB; 119 K; 14 HR Rate Stats: 14.07 K/9; 3.19 BB/9; 4.40 K/BB; 1.65 HR/9 He certainly gives up a few too many home runs, but if you want to dominate big league batters, you do it with the strikeout and he's certainly gotten that part of the game down, leading all of the minor leagues so far this season in that category. I believe a 40 man roster move will need to be made, although I must admit I've lost track of it's current state. If a move does have to be made, Bartosh, Borowski or Koronka lead the way in my opinion. Nothing like a legitimate prospect getting his chance in the show to get me giddy this morning.
GAME 63 PREVIEW FLORIDA MARLINS (32-29) at CHICAGO CUBS (33-29) Wrigley Field, 7:05pm CT, TV: FSFL, WGN
SP Sergio Mitre SP Josh Beckett
CF *Juan Pierre SS #Neifi Perez
2B #Luis Castillo CF *Corey Patterson
LF Miguel Cabrera 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Carlos Delgado RF *Jeromy Burnitz
3B Damion Easley 3B Aramis Ramirez
C Paul Lo Duca 2B *Todd Walker
RF Juan Encarnacion LF *Todd Hollandsworth
SS Alex Gonzalez C Michael Barrett
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
Could Dusty perhaps do us a favour and get Corey out of the two spot? Honestly, there's just absolutely no good reason for it. Making outs, especially on the basepaths, with Derrek Lee coming up behind you really isn't the greatest way to help Lee's chances of getting enough RBI to win that triple crown. Todd Walker is the perfect two-hole hitter, and I personally couldn't care a less that Todd's in no hurry to break the 100m world record anytime soon. What else could be done to shake things up a bit? Well, I'm past wondering whether or not Cliff Bartosh deserves a spot on the roster (the conclusion I've come to is no), but I am now starting to wonder if Joe Borowski shouldn't be joining Bartosh on his way somewhere else, preferably quite far away. Borowski's fastball, as far as I've seen, is topping out at an extremly hittable 87-89mph, and his slider is equally unimpressive. And he's duly getting smacked as if it's 2004 all over again. Borowski's given up 3 home runs in his 8.1 innings, and unless his stuff magically improves, I'm not sure his results will either. As for Bartosh, I'm even less happy about that trade now than I was the day it when down (and I was pretty unhappy back then, let me assure you, because Bartosh was a day or two from going through waivers). Bartosh doesn't have the same problem with stuff as Borowski, but his results have been underwhelming to say the least, and I'm bitterly disappointed since I actually thought he'd be okay. Instead he's given up 5 home runs and walked 11 in 18.2 largely irrelevant innings. And largely irrelevant right now sums Bartosh up pretty nicely. Meanwhile, Bear Bay, who we squanderously gave up to acquire Bartosh, has taken promotion to High-A comfortably in his stride - on Sunday he threw seven innings of one-run ball while striking out 10, and his line on the year now is 66.2 IP, 62 H, 9 HR, 14 BB, 73 K and a 3.11 ERA. And in Iowa meanwhile Ben Grieve, Mike Fontenot and Jerome Williams, all ready right now to improve upon what we have at the major league level, at least in my view, are being left to fester. Great, just great. Oh. Go Cubs!
They've updated the All-Star voting and our boy NEIFI! is still off the radar. What are you people waiting for? Spread the word! I know some of you have season tickets, bring a sign, do what it takes. NEIFI! needs you!!! At the moment, here is where our Cubbies stand....
I came across this over at Bleed Cubbie Blue. (Don't forget to VOTE NEIFI!). To sum up, Todd Helton would be willing to move to left field if traded to a contender. The Rockies have reached the point of considering moving their franchise player, with first base prospect stud, Ryan Shealy tearing up AAA ball. As with any trade, this is wrought with obstacles such as... 1) He hasn't played left field since 1997, where he played 13 games 2) His contract runs until about 3001 for something like $800 million a year (actually 2011 with a club option for 2012 at about $16 million a year) 3) He'll turn 32 this year and is having a rather awful year, particularly a massive loss in power so far. 4) Career road splits: .296/.392/.519 Career Home Splits: .371/.464/.688 Now if the Cubs have the opportunity to make such a deal, do they pull the trigger?

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