SOUTHERN LEAGUE (AA) NORTHERN DIVISION PLAYOFFS GAME 2 THREAD (JAXX LEAD BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES 1-0) [PARACHAT] CAROLINA MUDCATS (77-57) @ WEST TENN DIAMOND JAXX (83-56) PRINGLES PARK, 6:35 pm CDT, RADIO: Dixie 1310 WDXI
The Jaxx made a good start to the Southern League playoffs last night, winning the opening game of the series 3-0 (recap, boxscore, play-by-play) on the back of Renyel Pinto's fine pitching and multi-hit games from Eric Patterson, Casey McGehee, Brandon Sing and Jose Reyes, who is not the Mets' shortstop. Last season Renyel Pinto won the Southern League Pitcher of the Year title, but this year it was not to be. Why's that? Because, keeping it in the family, it was tonight's Jaxx starter, Ricky Nolasco, that took home the prize, leaving poor Pinto this year had to settle just for being named the best left-hander in the league. Yes, indeed, it would seem that the Jaxx have orchestrated something of a monopoly over the pitching prizes.
GAME 140 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (68-71) @ SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (63-75) SBC PARK, 9:15 pm CDT, TV: WGN, Fox Sports Bay Area
Noah Lowry, LHP
12-11, 3.71 ERA
153/67 K/BB, 18 HR in 174.2IP
Carlos Zambrano, RHP
12-5, 3.16 ERA
174/75 K/BB, 14 HR in 188.0 IP
CF Jerry Hairston Jr CF #Randy Winn
SS Ronny Cedeno SS #Omar Vizquel
1B Derrek Lee 1B *J.T. Snnow
3B Nomar Garciaparra LF Moises Alou
C Michael Barrett 2B #Ray Durham
RF *Jeromy Burnitz 3B Edgardo Alfonzo
2B #Neifi Perez RF #Todd Linden
LF Matt Murton C Mike Matheny
P #Carlos Zambrano P Noah Lowry
On June 22nd, Carlos Zambrano gave up eight runs in two and two-thirds innings to the Milwaukee Brewers. It was his 15th start of the year and he's had 13 starts since that ill-fated game. As of June 22nd: 4-4, 4.27 ERA, 8.5 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, .97 HR/9 Since June 23rd: 8-1, 2.08 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, .38 HR/9 On the opposing mound, will be crafty left-hander Noah Lowry, who was just named the pitcher of the month for August. Does he have an equally defining turning point to his season? Well it looks like the Brewers once again inspired a pitcher to greatness. Lowry gave up four runs in five and a third innings on July 31st to the Brew Crew. As of July 31st: 6-11, 4.48 ERA, 7.8 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 1.18 HR/9 (22 starts) Since August 1st: 6-0, 1.19 ERA, 7.9 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, .20 HR/9 (6 starts) I'm going to guess that August was the exception to an otherweise mediocre season. The one thing the above comparision does tell us is that major league pitchers get pretty fired up when they get trounced by the Brewers. Barry Bonds may return later in the series, and I have plans to see the game on Saturday (Prior vs. Hennessy). Could hurt my ability to secure some cheap tickets. Fiddlesticks!!! Hey, a sweep and we're above .500. It could happen, no, really, mathematically it could happen. Go Cubs!!!
SOUTHERN LEAGUE (AA) NORTHERN DIVISION PLAYOFFS GAME 1, IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CAROLINA MUDCATS (77-57) @ WEST TENN DIAMOND JAXX (83-56) PRINGLES PARK, 6:35 pm CDT, RADIO: WDXI
It's not all doom and gloom in the Cubs' system. No, the team's Double-A affiliate, the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, have qualified for the postseason by virtue of winning both the first and second halves of the season in the Northern Division of the Southern League! Today, the Jaxx commence a best-of-five series against their biggest rivals this season, the Carolina Mudcats, a Florida Marlins affiliate, and given that the Cubs aren't giving us much to cheer about at the Major League level, why shouldn't we revel in the fact that the Jaxx have enjoyed a terrific year? It's pure escapism!
GAME 139 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (67-71) @ ST LOUIS CARDINALS (88-51) BUSCH STADIUM, 7:10 pm CDT, TV: CSN, FSMW
Mark Mulder, LHP
15-6, 3.62 ERA
96/59 K/BB, 16 HR in 176.1IP
Greg Maddux, RHP
11-11, 4.41 ERA
112/30 K/BB, 24 HR in 183.2 IP
CF Jerry Hairston Jr SS David Eckstein
SS Ronny Cedeno 3B *Abraham Nunez
1B Derrek Lee 1B Albert Pujols
3B Nomar Garciaparra CF *Jim Edmonds
C Michael Barrett RF *John Mabry
RF *Jeromy Burnitz LF So Taguchi
2B #Neifi Perez C Yadier Molina
LF Matt Murton 2B Hector Luna
P Greg Maddux P Mark Mulder
Maddux should have 5 more chances to win 4 more games to keep his 15 wins a season streak alive. Assuming the Cubs keep a 5 man rotation and don't skip any starts, here's Maddux's slate for the rest of the year. Tonight 09/07 @STLC 9/12 vs. Cincy 9/17 vs. STLC 9/23 vs Houston 9/29 @ Houston Pre ASB #'s: 2004: 7-7 4.51 ERA/18 BB/77 K/20 HR/112.2 IP 2005: 8-6 4.67 ERA/20 BB/72 K/16 HR/115.2 IP Post ASB #'s: 2004: 9-4 3.48 ERA/15 BB/74 K/15 HR/101.0 IP 2005: 3-5 3.97 ERA/10 BB/40 K/8 HR/68.0 IP He should surpass his innings mark tonight to get his contract to vest for next season as well. It would be real nice if he helped knock the Astros out of the playoffs to keep the streak alive. The Cubs trounced Mulder the only time we faced him this year in Chicago, to the tune of 7 runs in 4 innings. Murton was actually the only hitter to not get a hit that day among the starters. Maddux happened to start that game for the Cubbies as well, throwing a 101 pitch, complete game for his 9th victory of the season. This is the last game we'll all see the Cubs play at Busch Stadium and I can't say I'm the least bit sad. It's been the house of horrors for us throughout the years and there is something communistic about artificial turf (yeah I know they went to grass, but the glory days were 115 degree days in the middle of August watching Willie McGee, Vince Coleman and Ozzie Smith run all over us). A win today and the Cubs take the season series at Busch Stadium, I believe that hasn't happened since 1995(we really need a fact-checker here at TCR). It would also give them no worse than a tie for the overall season series, even with 4 games left at Wrigley before the season ends. Go Cubs, but more importantly GO JAXX!!!
On the day of the Cubs' last-ever game at the current Busch Stadium, guest writer Justin Hamm checks in with his thoughts on the stadium. He's not misty-eyed about its impending demise, that's for sure. ---------- On the Implosion of Busch Stadium Sometime in late October or early November, not long after what is no doubt going to be another insufferable playoff run by the Cardinals, a demolition crew will gather in downtown St. Louis to perform a glorious and long-overdue act. Theyíre finally going to blow the complete and holy hell out of the ballpark-size Cubby-bear trap they call Busch Stadium. Yes, Busch is the place where shortstop/defensive artiste Ozzie Smith did his best and most memorable work, and the place where Big Mac hit dinger number 62. But itís also the place where the Redbirds keep the 9 World Series and 16 NL pennant banners to which their fans allude when lording it over Cubs fans, and the place where, 18 years ago, a certain chubby seven-year old with a missing front tooth and a haircut he still insists was not a mullet caught his first-ever glimpse of live big-league action.
GAME 138 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (66-71) @ ST LOUIS CARDINALS (88-50) BUSCH STADIUM, 7:10 pm CDT, TV: WGN, FSMW
Matt Morris, RHP
14-6, 3.91 ERA
101/27 K/BB, 15 HR in 161.0 IP
Glendon Rusch, LHP
5-8, 4.83 ERA
92/47 K/BB, 11 HR in 113.2 IP
LF Jerry Hairston Jr SS David Eckstein
SS #Neifi Perez CF *Jim Edmonds
1B Derrek Lee 1B Albert Pujols
RF *Jeromy Burnitz C Yadier Molina
3B Nomar Garciaparra 2B Mark Grudzielanek
2B *Todd Walker LF So Taguchi
C Michael Barrett 3B *Abraham Nunez
CF *Corey Patterson RF Hector Luna
P *Glendon Rusch P Matt Morris
What's the point of this lineup? Whatever... If you haven't heard, Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon was fired today. Any chance we could get a managerial platoon of Lloyd and Dwigh Smith? That worked well in 1989, at least the left-field version.
The second line in the minor league records are the teams overall records. The seasons are over for Iowa, Daytona, Peoria and the Arizona Summer League. Team Records updated through 9/05/05; Individual Stats updated through 9/05/05
Organizational Records
TeamW-LGB/Pos.Last 10
Chicago Cubs66-71(Div)21.5/4th
(WC)7.0/7th
5-5
Iowa Cubs64-758.5/4th3-7
West Tenn Diamond Jaxx*39-31
83-56
0.0/1st5-5
Daytona Cubs34-34
69-66
4.0/5th6-4
Peoria Chiefs33-37
68-72
4.5/6th5-5
Boise Hawks+34-401.0/3rd6-4
AZL Cubs9-19
19-37
9.0/9th4-6
Cubs Ex W/L: 68-69; (2003) 71-66; (2004) 74-63 * West Tennessee won both halves of the North Division title of the Southern League; Their playoffs begin on Wednesday, Sept. 07 against the Carolina Mudcats in a best of 5 series. + Boise Hawks have 2 games remaining versus the Spokane Indians and must win both and have the Tri-City Dust Devils lose to the Yakima Bears to clinch the division.
For someone that crossed him earlier in the season with some unappreciated comments about playing time, Dusty Baker of late has been showing an awful lot of loyalty to Jerry Hairston Jr, and it's somewhat hard to work out just why. Hairston has become a regular in the outfield, and while that was slightly desirable earlier in the year for a lack of better options, things have since changed with the emergence of Matt Murton. Dusty, who was far too slow moving Hairston into the lineup at the expense of the ill-fated Jason Dubois and Todd Hollandsworth arrangement, is now too slow getting him back out. Jerry Hairston is a very fine utility player. He's also a very decent second baseman, though Walker is comfortably better. But there is one thing that Hairston's not, and that's an outfielder. The biggest problem really is that he plays the outfield like an infielder. As a result of spending a lifetime dealing with grounders and popups, his handling of flyballs off the bat, in terms of reads and jumps, is poor. To try and compensate for that, or perhaps because it's what he's done all his life in the infield, his initial reaction is invariably to step in. On occasions, that can help him get to shallower flies, and he's even not too bad going from side to side, for certainly Hairston can run when he stretches his legs. But anything over his head, and Hairston's original forward motion, combined with the sideways then back routes that he then takes, promises either Hairston getting his body into shapes you never knew were possible or, more often, the ball landing untouched and rolling to the wall for extra bases. Hairston also has very much a second baseman's arm, leading to players as unrenowned for their speed as Albert Pujols tagging up from first to take second on flyball outs that don't even come close to making the warning track. It's just not pretty and it's costing the Cubs a lot of runs. Then there's the issue of his bat. Hairston over the last three years has managed a .278/.355/.381 line, which is exactly bang in line with what his peripherals suggest is his natural level. That uncanny ability to get on-base should not be underestimated. That said, his complete lack of power, while not as much of a factor as long as he's stationed at second base, becomes a significant problem if he's going to play the outfield. While the average NL second baseman this year has hit .278/.340/.414, relative to which Hairston's numbers don't come out at all unfavourably (and Walker's come out extremely well), the average NL left fielder this year has hit .272/.346/.460. Those eighty points of slugging mean that Hairston's bat simply doesn't stack up in the outfield, and it never will. That and his glove ought to have the Cubs very much on the lookout for a better option in left field (and his glove ought to preclude any ideas of him playing centre field, where Burnitz would be a far better option if push came to shove). It quickly became obvious that Jason Dubois wasn't such a better option in left field, and that's why Hairston first got a job out there. Matt Murton though is a different ballplayer to Dubois, and one that Dusty needs to now be giving the playing time. We know that Hairston can do out there, and we know that it's not good enough. Murton's not a top prospect, but he has the tools - the ability to hit for average, and very advanced strike zone judgement - to fashion a solid Major League career. He's done with the minors, and he deserves his shot. Speaking of the minors, Corey really should have remained put there. Since his return from Iowa, Patterson has essentially picked up where heíd left off before his demotionÖ
GABRH2B3BHRRBIBBKAVGOBPSLGSBCS
22739131114319.178.211.26020
Itís all very well criticising Corey for such lamentable performance, and he deserves it since heís so oblivious to whatís best for him, but the Cubs apparently donít know any better, and thatís the greater crime. It was essential that Corey stayed at Iowa until heíd learnt the necessary new hitting processes - recognising balls and strikes, being more selective, laying off the high fastball, going the other way and not pulling everything, and so on ñ and not only learnt them, but had them stick so tight that he wouldnít ever be able to shake them off again if he tried. The new processes needed to become second-nature. They also needed to yield results, the kind of results thatíd make even Corey sit up, take notice and once again have confidence in his own ability, a real and unflappable self-belief. Only then would he once again be ready for the big time. When Corey was recalled he was nowhere near that point. As a result, the Corey we see now is no different to the one that was dispatched to Iowa in July with his tail between his legs. He can still run, he can still field and he can still throw, but at the plate heís a man convinced of his swing and miss fate before the pitcherís even come set. Baseball is a game of failure, but Corey has become enveloped and overwhelmed by his failings. For Corey then, the best thing now would be to not play another game all year, to not see another game all year, to not think about another game all year, to become as removed from the game of baseball as possible. Extradition to England for five months at the Cubsí expense with immediate effect could do the trick. Then, come January, say, let the overhaul of his game begin once again, and let it not be interrupted until itís complete. Thereís no guarantee itíll ever be completed, that itíll ever work, but itís increasingly looking like the only chance he has right now of a worthwhile Major League career. Heck, right now, Iíd almost rather have Hairston in centre field. Better yet, let Adam Greenberg build on his 1.000 career OBP in the big leagues. Or, if you want him to enjoy the Southern League playoffs, call up Calvin Murray. Or Ben Grieve to play right, and shift Burnitz to centre. I don't care, just do something.
GAME 137 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (66-70) @ ST LOUIS CARDINALS (87-50) BUSCH STADIUM, 1:15 pm CDT, TV: WGN, FSMW
Fifteen of the Cubs' last twenty-seven games are against either the St Louis Cardinals or the Houston Astros, for there was supposed to be a big three horse race down the stretch. But none of the teams have kept their end of the bargain. The Cubs fell out of things far too soon, and the Astros have had serious problems scoring runs. The Cardinals, meanwhile, just picked up where they left off last year, and ran away with the division before the others had even noticed it was gone. What the Cardinals have done so far this year is remarkable. This is a team that's been without Scott Rolen, Reggie Sanders, Larry Walker and Yadier Molina for large chunks of the season, that's had to weather the decline of Jim Edmonds, and that was thoroughly ripped off in the Mark Mulder trade. And yet, regardless, they've put the excuses aside, and have simply got on with the business of winning, day in and day out. As much as I hate to say, I wish our Cubs were more like these Cards.
GAME 136 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (65-70) @ PITTSBURGH PIRATES (55-80) PNC PARK, 12:35 pm CDT, TV: WGN
Once again, Dusty has decided that in pursuit of the division title the wild card a winning record the right to pick first in next year's amateur draft, Ronny Cedeno and Matt Murton get in the way. Or rather, to quote the official line, they'll learn more from sitting on the bench watching Neifi Perez slap at the ball and Jerry Hairston turn every single flyball, routine or otherwise, into an adventure in body contortion...
I feel completely cut-off from what's happening in the U.S., but thanks to the Internet I can sort of follow the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and it's absolutely heartwrenching. Private relief organizations are struggling to provide the most basic necessities (food, water and shelter) to the residents of Louisiana and Mississippi whose lives have been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. If you would like to help by donating your money or your time, here is a list of relief organizations to contact: American Red Cross", 800-435-7669 Operation Blessing International, 800-436-6348 America's Second Harvest, 800-344-8070 -- Food Bank Catholic Charities USA, 703-549-1390 Lutheran Disaster Response, 800-638-3522 Mennonite Disaster Service, 717-859-2210 -- The Mennonites were especially helpful in my area after the Cedar Fire Salvation Army, 800-725-2769 If you have the ability to open your home to hurricane evacuees, contact MoveOn.org's Hurricanhousing.org.
Today's piece was written by Don Nelson (twinscubsfandon) and he has been a practicing Cubs fan since 1969. He lives in suburban Chicago and frequently talks about starting his own blog, which, he notes, requires a lot less energy and commitment than actually doing it. He works in advertising and carries a 1970 Don Kessinger baseball card in his briefcase. The beauty of having your favorite baseball teamís season reach a virtual end before its actual end is that you can get a head start on your season retrospective. (ì2005: A Kansas City Royals Year In Reviewî could have been penned in mid-May.) When I look back on the Cubs season, one of the more noteworthy events, I think, was the Red Soxí visit to Wrigley back in June. Youíll recall that series offered a satisfying result (two Cub wins out of three), the proverbial ìplayoff atmosphere,î and a lot of media blather about how the two franchises simply belonged on the same field.
Well, let me introduce myself before you read my dull words, that somehow made it into this very-appreciated site. I'm Carlos Rubi, an eighteen year old high school senior from Merida, Mexico; I've been a Cubs fanatic since 1994, and will be one until... well, until I stop caring. Or until I get married. Some of you may know me from the Parachat; I'm usually there to spend every other game, classes-permitting I also run a weblog Dusty Says, along with two other people. Well, then, I shall leave you with the article. Thanks to TCR for giving me this opportunity... He has the stuff to be the Cubs' closer of the future! How many times have we heard that in the past ten years? Try to remember the number. Three, four? Wrong. The closer role is as vital as a bag of carrots; though, in the modern way of playing baseball, it must be a role well defined and set to an individual. Through the minor leagues, and even in the major leagues, several lethal pitchers with arrow fastballs and knee-buckling breaking stuff have joined the spinning wheel that is the Cubs bullpen. Guys like Myers, Gordon, Alfonseca, Veres, Remlinger all have closed games for the Cubs, but all of those were acquired by trades or free agency. This story, though, will focus on the guys scouts have labeled as the perennial closers of the future (COTF); none of them, at the time of this article, have been able to succeed at that role.
GAME 133 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] LOS ANGELES DODGERS (60-72) @ CHICAGO CUBS (63-69) WRIGLEY FIELD, 1:20 pm CDT, TV: WGN, Fox Sports West 2
GAME 132 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] LOS ANGELES DODGERS (60-71) @ CHICAGO CUBS (62-69) WRIGLEY FIELD, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: WGN, Fox Sports West 2
Mark Prior, RHP
9-5, 3.68 ERA
147/45 K/BB, 21 HR in 132.0 IP
Brad Penny, RHP
6-8, 3.75 ERA
102/33 K/BB, 14 HR in 151.0 IP
CF Jayson Werth CF Jerry Hairston Jr.
SS *Oscar Robles SS Ronny Cedeno
2B Jeff Kent 1B Derrek Lee
LF * Ricky Ledee RF *Jeromy Burnitz
1B Jason Phillips 3B Nomar Garciaparra
3B Mike Edwards 2B *Todd Walker
C #Dionar Navarro LF Matt Murton
RF #Jose Cruz Jr. C Henry Blanco
P Brad Penny P Mark Prior
It would be nice, if over the last month, Prior could regain some of that confidence and swagger that he once possessed. He's been quite ordinary since coming off the DL, giving up at least 3 runs in seven of his last eight starts, seeing his ERA rise from 3.07 when he shutout the Pirates for eight innings on July 14th to it's current state of 3.68. Not bad, just not great and Prior needs to be great. His problem is easy enough to diagnose, his propensity to give up the big fly. His HR/9 rate is 1.43 this year, compared to 1.06 last year and a miniscule 0.63 in 2003. Keep it in the park, my friend! Looks like Dusty got the message that the kids should play, at least for a day. Let's hope it goes that way for the bulk of the season. Go Cubs!

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