GAME 60 PREVIEW BOSTON RED SOX (32-28) at CHICAGO CUBS (32-27) Wrigley Field, 2:15pm CT, TV: FOX Greetings from Hannover Germany, where beer and cigarettes are the order of the day! Well, just the beer for me, actually, though I feel like I've been smoking for the last week. I'm checking in from my business trip to deliver some important breaking news. It seems that the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. Not only that, but they're in the middle of a series with the Boston Red Sox, who a) won the World Series last year, and b) before that, hadn't won one since 1918. Why, I had no idea! And apparently neither did anyone else in the country, since that seems to be the only storyline surrounding this series. OK, not the only storyline -- there's also the "Nomar gets his ring, sort of" story. But there's a whole lot more going on in Cub- and Red Sox-land. So here are seven other things that the national media should be talking about: 1. The Cubs have won 11 of their last 13 and are currently 1/2 game out of the wildcard spot. 2. With Kerry Wood and Mark Prior missing significant time with injuries, Carlos Zambrano (4-3, 2.94, 75K/31 BB) has emerged as the ace of the staff and one of the best young pitchers in baseball. 3. Zambrano isn't the best starter on the Cubs this year -- that honor goes to Glendon Rusch (5-1, 2.07, 42/27), who's gunning for the Mr. Unsung Award two years running. 4. Derrek Lee:hitting::German guys:beer drinking 5. N-E-I-F-I 6. The Red Sox are looking up at the Orioles, which is strange, but not as strange as the fact that they're looking down at the Yankees, and can't even see them because the Blue Jays are in the way. 7. Just like the Cubs, the Red Sox are weathering pitching injuries (to David Wells and Curt Schilling), though they're doing it mostly by climbing on Big Papi's back and letting him drag them over .500. I was going to go for ten, but I ran out of steam after two Red Sox ones and, honestly, I don't care enough about them to find three more. Go see what Evan has to say at Fire Brand of the American League if you want more Carmines info. Truth be told, the Red Sox are one of my favorite teams and I was really happy to see them win the Series last year. But I'll be even happier once El Toro shuts them down this afternoon on national TV, thereby verifying his All-Star bona fides, and Rusch does the same on ESPN tomorrow night.
GAME 59 PREVIEW BOSTON RED SOX (32-27) at CHICAGO CUBS (31-27) Wrigley Field, 1:15pm CT, TV:WGN
SP Greg Maddux SP Bronson Arroyo
CF *Johnny Damon SS #Neifi Perez
SS Edgar Renteria CF *Corey Patterson
1B *David Ortiz 1B Derrek Lee
LF Manny Ramirez RF *Jeromy Burnitz
RF *Trot Nixon 3B Aramis Ramirez
C #Jason Varitek 2B *Todd Walker
3B #Bill Mueller LF *Todd Hollandsworth
2B #Mark Bellhorn C Michael Barrett
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
Nothing like two of the more storied franchises meeting each other to get the national media on it's high horse. I'll let them try and still grasp for some sort of story line that still links the two clubs. If this series was last year, I'm not sure I could bear to watch the coverage, but with last year's improbable Red Sox championship run, we're all spared a bit of the melodrama. Now to more important matters and the actual game in hand. Maddog versus Cornrows, I mean Bronson Arroyo. (Does he still have that ridiculous hairdo?). Maddux so far has escaped the first two innings without allowing a baserunner while Arroyo has given up 2 homers to Burnitz and Holly and the Cubs lead 3-0 in the bottom of the second. Dusty stacked the lineup with lefties today as as they are hitting .295 versus Arroyo this year compared to righties hitting only .170. Seems to be working so far..... I'm going to go enjoy the game and hope some of that good fortune the Red Sox enjoyed last year, rubs off on the Cubbies before they leave town.
Nothing like reviewing something that isnít complete. Almost every media outlet grades each teamís respective drafts in the NBA and NFL with some randomly chosen letter grade, as if you could pass judgement on something before anyone's put on a helmet or laced up a sneaker. NFL.com writer Gregg Easterbrook, a lover of all religions, puts my distaste for rating drafts much more eloquently then I could. The reality is, and especially when it comes to the grand old pastime, that a draft can only truly be evaluated a good few years down the line. Hereís all 51 of our picks and some information, useful or not, about some of the soon to be baby Cubbies.
GAME 58 PREVIEW TORONTO BLUE JAYS (31-28) at CHICAGO CUBS (30-27) Wrigley Field, 1:15pm CT, TV: ESPN, WGN
SP Sergio Mitre SP Roy Halladay
RF Reed Johnson SS #Neifi Perez
LF *Frank Catalanotto CF *Corey Patterson
CF Vernon Wells 1B Derrek Lee
1B Eric Hinske 3B Aramis Ramirez
3B Aaron Hill 2B *Todd Walker
2B #Orlando Hudson LF Jason Dubois
SS *Russ Adams LF *Todd Hollandsworth
C Ken Huckaby C Michael Barrett
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
John got a bit tied up with other matters, I assume of vast importance, for how else could he dare shun his TCR duties? A demerit for him.... It was another disappointing loss last night, thanks in part to a mental lapse by Will Ohman (not covering first extended the eighth and the next hitter singled home a run) and then an unfortunate throwing error by NEIFI! (the ball squirted away from the outstretched Derrek Lee, resulting in another Blue Jay score). Two runs on two very makeable plays. The difference in last night's game? You guessed it: two runs. So today, although the game hasn't quite reached "must-win" status, more like "good idea to win" status, the Cubs trot out Sergio Mitre versus former Cy Younger Roy Halladay. Halladay has regained his 2003 form, it appears - he's 9-2 with a 2.56 ERA and 4.53 K/BB ratio. On paper it looks like the Cubs are set up to be swept, but, as the saying goes, that's why they play the games. Sergio has shutdown the Blue Jays for six innings so far and the first four and one-thirds of those innings were of the perfect variety before Aaron Hill reached on an infield single. Not impressed by the Cubs' offense, Sergio has contributed with the bat as well, doubling in a run and then scoring on a single by Corey. It's 2-0 Cubs entering the top of the 7th and Mitre is back on the mound with Ohman up in the pen. Keep it up....
GAME 57 PREVIEW TORONTO BLUE JAYS (30-28) at CHICAGO CUBS (30-26) Wrigley Field, 7.05pm CT, TV: CSN, RSN
SP *Glendon Rusch SP Josh Towers
LF Reed Johnson SS #Neifi Perez
RF Alex Rios 2B *Todd Walker
CF Vernon Wells 1B Derrek Lee
1B Shea Hillenbrand RF *Jeromy Burnitz
3B Aaron Hill 3B Aramis Ramirez
2B Frank Menechino CF *Corey Patterson
C #Gregg Zaun LF *Todd Hollandsworth
SS John McDonald C Michael Barrett
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
It's been a hard day's drafting for the Cubs. Now they've got a ballgame to play too. Patterson and Walker return to the lineup, and Glendon Rusch, with a multitude of freshly drafted young arms queuing up behind him, takes the mound. Go Cubs!
Part 1: History of the Cubs draft Part 2: Trades & GMís Part 3: The Couldaí Been Cubs Weíve strolled through the tortured history of the Cubs draft, which perfectly leads us up to draft day 2005. A number of excellent articles exploring the history of the draft have come out in recent days and I recommend checking these out. Alan Schwarz The Magic of #5 Alan Schwarz Best, Worst Draft Picks Peter Gammons A Draft Unlike Any Other As for the Cubbies, theyíre slotted to pick 20th and scouting director, John Stockstill has only one philosophy when it comes to the draft,
We take the best available talent. To me, the only way to [draft] is to stack up the players, take the best ones, and that's it."
Here are some of the names being rumored to possibly be the Cubs first round pick.
BLUE JAYS 4 CUBS 1
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
W: Gustavo Chacin (6-4) L: John Koronka(1-1) SV: Miguel Batista (10)
That certainly was an unfortunate loss. I didn't see the play where Gustavo Chacin reached on a sacrifice bunt but it sounded like a somewhat ill-advised decision to try and nail the lead runner. I did see the pitch to Reed Johnson that landed in the bleachers and there was nothing wrong with it. It appeared to be a low slider, well below the knees that Johnson just happened to turn around for a three run blast. With Jerome Williams having a few successful starts in Iowa, Kornonka's major league debut with the big league club may be a short one. The Cubs offense struggled mightily, wasting a few scoring opportunities early in the game, particularly annoying was Jerry Hairston grounding into a double play to end the second with Michael Barrett on third. The next respectable Cubs scoring opportunity didn't come again until the 9th and once again was thwarted by the double play. It began well enough, when Aramis Ramirez homered to leadoff the inning and then continued the rally by getting runners on 1st and 3rd with one out. Up comes Todd Walker pinch hitting for Jose Macias and representing the tying run. No, wait, back goes Todd Walker and up comes Jose Macias, 2 for 3 on the day. Dusty for no good reason pinch hit for Hairston with Corey Patterson the 8th and now was short a man on the bench. So he called back Walker, hoping Macias would do anything except hit into a double play.....grounder up the middle, easy 6-6-3 game ender. Tomorrow it's more night baseball at Wrigley, as Glendon Rusch tries to maintain his Cy Young pace and keep his ERA under 2.00 and the Cubs try to regain their winning ways.
GAME 56 PREVIEW TORONTO BLUE JAYS (29-28) at CHICAGO CUBS (30-25) Wrigley Field, 7.05pm CT, TV: WGN, RSN
SP *John Koronka SP *Gustavo Chacin
LF Reed Johnson CF Jerry Hairston
RF Alex Rios SS #Neifi Perez
CF Vernon Wells 1B Derrek Lee
1B Shea Hillenbrand 3B Aramis Ramirez
3B Aaron Hill LF Jason Dubois
2B Frank Menechino RF *Jeromy Burnitz
C #Gregg Zaun C Michael Barrett
SS John McDonald 2B #Jose Macias
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
It was about a month ago now that the Cubs stood at 12-17, having lost a record seven in a row under Dusty Baker. There was talk of the season being over. A month later how things have changed. The Cubs have won nine of their last ten, twelve of their last fifteen, eighteen of their last twenty-six, and they stand proudly a few games above five hundred, atop the wild card standings no less. But, just as it was wrong to be too down on the Cubs back at the beginning of May, it's just as wrong to be too high on them now. Baseball is a game of peaks and troughs, good streaks and bad, and that cocktail of a combination has a nasty habit of creating undue optimism and pessimism in near equal disproportion. These Cubs are a good team, but they certainly have their flaws and limitations. That they'll be sending out Koronka, Rusch and Mitre to face the Blue Jays over the next few days could give us an untimely reminder of that. That's not entirely fair though. Rusch has been magnificent so far this season, twice as good as even I had dared hope (no, literally! I thought an ERA around 4.00 would be an achievement for him - he currently stands at 1.96). Naturally, that kind of a figure is only going to head in the wrong direction in the long term, but hopefully he can continue his dominating form a while longer. And I am meanwhile one of Mitre's bigger fans - I see a pitcher with a plus sinker that induces multitudes of groundballs (the kind that stay in the ballpark), a decent slider and an improving changeup that get a fair if unspectacular numbers of punchouts, and acceptable enough control of all three to not walk too many. That, and his youth and paycheck, make him serviceable in the short-term, perhaps even a decent starter in the longer term once he's got some experience under his belt. Suggestions that he shouldn't be accruing that experience with the Cubs right now strike me as bizarre given the next best option, apparently, is John Koronka, a pitcher that truly doesn't belong in a major-league rotation. Indeed, it's only Koronka's turn in the rotation right now that I really worry about. Hopefully the Cubs can score some runs tonight and the bullpen be in fine fettle, because an okay fastball, a good changeup and not much else doesn't seem to get you around the lineup too many times at this level. All the same, go Koronka and go Cubs! Interleague play. There's a topic that raises debate. So, debate. Personally, I quite like it. Let's be honest, we're the Cubs, and we're not ever going to see an American League team otherwise! I don't think that'd be a good thing. The current system isn't ideal, it's unbalanced for starters, but it's better than nothing. Don't worry though, I'm not completely anti-traditionalist - the DH should go. PS. Keep an eye out tonight too for Rich Hill vs Adam Wainwright, Cubs vs Cardinals at Triple-A, also starting at 7.05pm CT
GAME 55 PREVIEW CHICAGO CUBS (29-25) at SAN DIEGO PADRES (34-22) PETCO Park, 3.35pm CT, TV: CSN, Chan4
SP Woody Williams SP Carlos Zambrano
SS #Neifi Perez CF *Dave Roberts
2B Todd Walker 3B *Sean Burroughs
1B Derrek Lee RF *Brian Giles
RF *Jeromy Burnitz 1B Phil Nevin
3B Aramis Ramirez C Ramon Hernandez
LF *Todd Hollandsworth LF Xavier Nady
CF *Corey Patterson SS Khalil Greene
C Henry Blanco 2B Damian Jackson
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
There'll be no Carlos Zambrano versus Jake Peavy, as Peavy has "an upper respiratory infection", which sounds to me suspiciously like a cold. Then again I have about as much medical knowledge as Dr Drake Ramore. Peavy's absence is both good news and bad news. Good because Peavy's typically extremely hard to score runs off, and instead the Cubs will see Woody Williams making what for all intents and purposes is his first rehab start since hitting the disabled list. Bad because Woody Williams isn't anywhere near as much of a delight to watch as the young and supremely brilliant Peavy. Is he better than our Zambrano though? Your call. Go Cubs! In other news, I have a deep and profound hatred of Jim Mecir.
Remember that TCR Round-table at the very start of the Season, where the staff all made predictions on the upcoming season? Well, neither do I. Which is why I figured that with one-third of the season complete, it's time to look at some choice selections of the questions and our answers. There isn't a lot of new commentary, below, just an edited synopsis of our answers, and a few flags for the truly ridiculous predictions (mine on Todd Hollandsworth, anyone?) and the truly inspired (Rob's on Derrek Lee.)
GAME 52 PREVIEW CHICAGO CUBS (28-25) at SAN DIEGO PADRES (34-21) PETCO Park, 9.05pm CT, TV: WGN, Chan4
SP *Darrell May SP Greg Maddux
Someone post the lineups in the comments!
Yesterday my computer's power supply unit ground to a halt. As did the Cubs' winning streak, which at seven games was their longest under Dusty Baker. I'm back up and running now though (with a brand new flat screen LCD monitor too, even if right now it's calibrated such that reds in particular are horrendously garish!). And it's the job of Greg Maddux to get this team back up and running tonight (in the final game of the first third of our season) before we watch these offences attempt the thankless task of scorings runs off Carlos Zambrano and Jake Peavy in a pitching haven of a ballpark tomorrow. Go Cubs!
Part 1 Part 2 Trivia Question: Name two current NFL players who were once drafted by the Cubs? I'll end this look back at the Cubs drafts through the years by looking at some of the players the Cubs had a chance at obtaining or gave up too early on. This is all for fun and there are no fingers being pointed here. Just a frivolous look at who could have been Cubbies if the things broke the right way. In Part I, I introduced the all-time greatest drafted Cubs, a list of players drafted by the Cubs and their contributions as Cubs. Here's that list again to spur your memory.
GAME 52 PREVIEW CHICAGO CUBS (27-24) at SAN DIEGO PADRES (33-20) PETCO Park, 9.05pm CT, TV: ESPN, Chan4
SP Tim Stauffer SP *Glendon Rusch
SS #Neifi Perez CF Dave Roberts
2B Todd Walker 3B Geoff Blum
1B Derrek Lee LF Ryan Klesko
RF *Jeromy Burnitz 1B Phil Nevin
3B Aramis Ramirez C Ramon Hernandez
CF *Corey Patterson RF Miguel Ojeda
LF T Jason Dubois SS Khalil Greene
C Michael Barrett 2B Damian Jackson
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
The Cubs have won their last 6, and 9 of their last 11. The Padres though put us in the shade - they've won 22 of their last 28. Yikes! They did lose last night though, to the Brewers, and they're probably due a losing streak right about now given the sensational May they've had! Speaking of sensational, how about Derrek Lee? After April (.419/.490/.767), for which Derrek won the NL Player of the Month award, I implored him to keep it up. Sadly, he did tail off a bit, only hitting .313/.424/.646 in May. You're not going to win NL Player of the Month awards hitting like that (and indeed, Abreu took the honours). Obviously hugely disappointed with his slumping, Lee last night reminded us he's still alive, going 5-for-5 to start June, four singles with a three-run homer to cap it off. Should we be surprised at his present 1.000/1.000/1.600 line in June? No, of course not, Lee usually improves a lot when the summer months roll around! Keep on rolling, Cubbies, roll on. I hate these West Coast night games, starting as they do at gone 3am in the morning here, but as long as we keep winning them, I shan't complain too much!
Part 1 Trivia Question: Which drafted Cubs player, through a series of trades, eventually landed the Cubs, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg? The Cubs have had 10 general managers since 1965 starting with John Holland and ending with our current leader of operations, Jim Hendry. As you'll see, their focus on the draft and ability to evaluate, develop and exchange those drafted players into major league parts will help us evaluate their mark on this Cubs franchise. This wouldn't be one of my pieces if we didn't have a list:
MLB gave their first update on the state of NL All-Star Balloting yesterday. For everyone that had any reservations about the Neifi Write-in campaign, I have a bit of information that should remove any lingering moral scruples... Nomar Garciaparra is the top NL vote-getter at SS. The totals: 1. Garciaparra, N. Cubs 235,899 2. Eckstein, D. Cardinals 212,209 3. Furcal, R. Braves 212,160 4. Reyes, J. Mets 189,929 5. Barmes, C. Rockies 183,338 The three best SS in the NL this year, arguably, have been Barmes, Izturis, and Neifi. Neifi needs you. (So does Derrek Lee, who has less than half the votes of Pujols.)

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