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
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):

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