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?
GAME 62 PREVIEW FLORIDA MARLINS (31-29) at CHICAGO CUBS (33-28) Wrigley Field, 7:05pm CT, TV: FSFL, CSN
SP *John Koronka SP *Dontrelle Willis
CF *Juan Pierre SS #Neifi Perez
2B #Luis Castillo 2B Jerry Hairston
LF Miguel Cabrera 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Carlos Delgado 3B Aramis Ramirez
3B Mike Lowell LF Jason Dubois
C Paul Lo Duca RF *Jeromy Burnitz
RF Juan Encarnacion CF *Corey Patterson
SS Alex Gonzalez C Michael Barrett
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
The Cubs get a brief respite from interleague play (they're now 4-5 against the AL this year, with six games to play) as fishy Florida visit town. On the mound tonight for those Marlins will be the one that got away, Dontrelle Willis, who is currently enjoyable an unbelievable season. No, literally, I don't believe it - he's 10-2 with an ERA touching two. I don't believe he'll keep it up either. The Cubs tonight have their chance to give his numbers a little more respectability, and in the process they could make themselves feel a little less rueful about throwing in the young lefty who'd never pitched an inning above Low-A ball when it came to acquiring the bust of a closer that was Alfonseca and fellow throw-in Matt Clement. At least he didn't figure out too badly. How the Cubs might be wishing they had either Clement or Willis starting for them tonight, given that as it is they have to throw John Koronka out there. Injuries or not, there's now no excuse for Koronka being in the rotation any more as far as I'm concerned, because the Cubs could surely by now have reconfigured schedules, days of rest and the like to avoid the unfortunate situation of a pitcher scarcely capable of getting out minor leaguers on a regular basis having to try and prevent major leaguers getting runs across the plate. Hopefully he can keep us in the game tonight, but I'm not holding my breath. Jerome Williams at Iowa is looking like quite a coup given the way he's turned his season around in his first three starts as a member of the Cubs organisation (18.1 IP, 18 H, 2 HR, 3 BB, 13 K, 2.45 ERA). The Cubs certainly have to balance the short-term needs of the big league club with the long-term development of their prospects at all times, but there's no real conflict of interest here now as far as I can see. Williams' weight (reportedly 260 pounds, 20 pounds overweight) isn't a concern in the short term given Williams' recent success in spite of it, nor in long term given Williams' own determination to shift it. Neither is his lack of a truly refined third pitch too problematic, given that he's already achieved major league success without one. Refining either his slider or curveball while in the minors would certainly be nice, but it's hardly essential or urgent, and the need for someone better than Koronka in the rotation right now seems to me more pressing. And Williams, given his recent success, looks like a good bet. Unfortunately, the Cubs seem intent on keeping Williams at Iowa for a while yet. In that case we can only hope Kerry Wood returns double quick. He's making his first rehab start at Iowa tonight on a 60 pitch limit - listen live here from 7.05pm CT if you like. The Marlins haven't been that impressive of late, winning just five of their last eighteen to drop from top to bottom of the NL East. Their big problem has been a shoddy bullpen and a lineup unintent upon scoring runs. Sound familiar? It was only a month or two ago we were in the same situation. Cubs, let's not go back there!
Added a 'Ex W/L' column to Organizational Records which is the major league teams expected win/loss record determined by the differential of runs scored and runs allowed, often referred to as the team's pythagorean record. Team Records Updated through 6/12/05; Individual Stats Updated through 6/12/05
Organizational Records
TeamW-LGB/Pos.Last 10Ex W/LW/L (2003)W/L (2004)
Chicago Cubs33-286.5/2nd6-434-2734-2732-29
Iowa Cubs 26-387.5/4th3-7&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp
West Tenn Jaxx40-210.0/1st5-5&nbsp&nbsp &nbsp
Daytona Cubs33-294.5/3rd6-4&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp
Peoria Chiefs32-323.5/4th5-5&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp
Boise HawksSeason begins June 22nd N/A N/A &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp
AZL CubsSeason begins in JuneN/A N/A &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp

&nbsp
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels "Henry was good. He said he will slap me." - Carlos Zambrano, on Henry Blanco coming out to talk to him after walking the first 3 batters in Sundayís game versus the Padres Not Settling for Second Best "It's early, but we don't want the Wild Card. We want to win the division. We will win the division. That's our goal." - Carlos Zambrano laying the smackdown Not That There's Anything Wrong with that... "He's a beauty." Jeromy Burnitz, on Carlos Zambrano
GAME 61 PREVIEW BOSTON RED SOX (32-29) at CHICAGO CUBS (33-27) Wrigley Field, 7:05pm CT, TV: ESPN
"The Cubs are just simply not a good team. They beat a lackadaisal, average team twice in a row and will likely sweep, but that doesnít make them good. Their closer is highly unimpressive. I donít like their bullpen. Zambrano now is an injury concern, what with his blister before and turf toe. Take Derrek Lee and Neifi Perez out of the equation, and theyíre lousy. Perez and Lee, repeating last year, and this club is below .500. Theyíre not a good club, period." --Evan Brunell, Fire Brand of the American League
And if a frog had wings, he wouldn't bump his ass a-hoppin'. Replace "Zambrano" with "Schilling" and "Lee and Perez" with "Ortiz," and it's like looking in a mirror, isn't it, Evan? I'm not too upset, though. It must be hard when you finally win a World Series and then, a third-of the way through the next season, you're in danger of finishing behind a team that you beat by twenty games last year. So, I can understand the frustration. Tonight, Glendon Rusch takes on knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. If the wind is blowing out, that'll be good for Wake and bad for the Cubs bats, so think "lake breeze" thoughts.
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.

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