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.)
CUBS 9 DODGERS 5
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
W: John Koronka (1-0) L: Derek Lowe (4-5)
The Cubs are playing in my neck of the woods, so I thought I'd try one of those running diaries that is all the rage. I'll try and update every half inning or inning as long as the twins cooperate. Pre-game You know it's your first major league start when the L.A. Times list the matchup as Derek Lowe versus Jeff Koronka. At least the picture was right, I think. I've actually never seen Koronka. Top of the 1st The great Vin Scully lets us know the Cubs haven't swept a series in Dodger stadium for 10 years. He also says Ramirez turned an ankle yesterday which explains his absence. Scully can't explain why Enrique is batting second.... Neifi doesn't waste any time, singling on the first pitch. Neifi doesn't waste any time getting thrown out at second either. Lee singles but Mr. Burns ends the inning. Bottom of the 1st Scully says Koronka is a "southpaw all the way"...what the hell does that mean? Someone told Koronka to stay away, away, away. Scully says Koronka has surprisingly had trouble versus lefties in his career and on cue, Drew singles. Replay shows it was a bad call though, third day in a row Lee makes a throw while on his butt.
GAME 51 PREVIEW CHICAGO CUBS (26-24) at LOS ANGELES DODGERS (26-25) Dodger Stadium, 9.10pm CT, TV: ESPN2, FSN2
SP Derrek Lowe SP *John Koronka
SS #Neifi Perez SS #Cesar Izturis
3B #Enrique Wilson 3B Antonio Perez
1B Derrek Lee CF *JD Drew
RF *Jeromy Burnitz 2B Jeff Kent
2B *Todd Walker 1B Olmedo Saenz
CF *Corey Patterson RF Jayson Werth
LF Todd Hollandsworth C Jason Phillips
C Michael Barrett LF Mike Edwards
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
The Cubs' system is chock-a-block with pitching. Yet filling in today for the Mark Prior as the Cubs try to run the streak to a season-high six with a first sweep of the Dodgers in LA for a decade will be a real non-prospect making his major league debut. Koronka's not yet 25, but he's already into the eighth season of a minor league career over which he has a 4.41 ERA. If that doesn't say it all for his talent, his fastball doesn't reach the nineties, and his only quality off-speed offering is his changeup. The Cubs' decision to add him to the 40-man roster last November was then at best rather bizarre. Their decision to actually use him in a major-league game today probably borders on capitulation (of course, now that I've forecast him getting tatooed left, right and centre, watch for him throwing shutout ball). Strangely the decision makes some sense though. Besides Sergio Mitre, of all our prospects only Angel Guzman and Jerome Williams are refined enough to comfortably handle the jump to the majors. The diagnosis on Guzman though is a strained right forearm, and at best he'll only throw his first pitches since the spring in a few days' time. Jerome Williams meanwhile has struggled terribly of late, and the decision to place him for a while at Iowa, where he last night threw six solid innings (2 runs on 8 hits, 1 crushed home run that was only just fair, no walks and 4 strikeouts), is entirely the correct one in my view - he needs some confidence running through his veins again. Behind Guzman and Williams lies a whole host of talent, led by Renyel Pinto, Ricky Nolasco and Rich Hill from West Tennessee. Calling them up would though represent really throwing them in at the deep end, sink or swim, since not one of the three has a successful inning at Triple-A under their belt. Is that the wisest way to treat prospects? It's debatable. Of the more experienced options, the Cubs' decision to leave Todd Wellemeyer and Ryan Dempster, who've both started games this year, in the bullpen where they seem to have found a groove is probably wise. Though he only throws in the mid-eighties, Raul Valdez, signed out of the Dominican Republic last year, throws a wide variety of pitches at a wide variety of speeds from the left side, but he would be going on short rest today and he'd require someone being kicked off the forty. Jon Leicester meanwhile started a previous emergency start, but he was roughed up a bit by the Mets in that game and he's lost Dusty's faith. And that really leaves just Koronk-urgh. It's not ideal, but for today, it'll have to do. Hopefully the offence shows up, hopefully Valdez or Leicester can start next time around, and hopefully Mark Prior gets well soon. Roll on, Cubbies, roll on. [UPDATE Rob G.] I'm going to try and do a running diary of the game (twins permitting), updating every half inning or so.
Trivia Question: Which player drafted by the Cubs, went on to have the most illustrious Cubs career(that should be easy), who would you rank #2 and #3 though (considering their Cub career only)? Tell me if this sounds familiar. The games wealthiest clubs, particularly one in New York, were outspending the more financially constricted ballclubs to sign available players. Salaries (actually bonuses) escalated out of control and something needed to be done to restore competitive balance. Proposals were introduced, arguments were made and rules were changed. And in 1965, the amateur draft was introduced, now known as the First Year Player Draft. On June 7th of this year, the 41st baseball draft will be conducted and the Cubs first selection of the day will be at the 20th spot. This is a rather low pick historically for the Cubs, whose first pick from year to year on average is around the 10th or 11th pick. Considering draft slots are selected in reverse order of win/loss records, this is a dubious distinction indicating the organization's futility over the years. All those upper round picks though should have been the fruits of a better tomorrow, but as you'll see, the Cubs drafting has been nearly as disappointing as their play.
Carlos Zambrano turns 24 today. So here's a birthday wish to our favorite web-surfing, muttering, gesticulating, switch-hitting, complete game-throwing, goateed behemoth of a perpetual-Cy Young Award contender. We Love Ya, Z. For some birthday reminiscences, how about these.... Remember when we wondered who would be better, Zambrano or Cruz? Remember the first time we discovered Z was a switch-hitter? Remember Z retiring Barry Bonds in an especially tense series in 2003, Z getting all excited, and Barry sulking about it? Here's a question: what should we get Z for his birthday? (photo from http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/mlb/photo/photogallery/2003_2nd_half_moments)
CUBS 2 DODGERS 1
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
W: Michael Wuertz (4-2) L: Yhency Brazoban (2-1) SV: Ryan Dempster (6)
Looks like I'm stuck doing the Game Review. My First One. I don't like doing them. So this will be the stripped-down version. Things to know about this game: 1. There was a very bad "Batter's Interference" call against the Cubs. In the seventh inning, with Corey running, Dubois struck out, and the catcher, recent call-up Mike Rose, pulled a Reggie Miller and drew the contact with Dubois on the throw down to second. Ed Rapuano called interference on Dubois, and thus Corey is out at second when he had stolen the base, cleanly. It was good to see Dusty get up and argue a call. 2. Zambrano was nearly unhittable. One hit, in fact, over eight innings. 3. With a runner on first and nobody out in the ninth, tie game, Gagne on the mound, Dusty asked Burnitz to bunt. Burnitz has one sacrifice bunt since 1999. He bunted hard to the third-baseman, forcing the runner at second base. Let me quote to you from the delightful children's story and excellent allegory, The Little Prince:
"If I ordered a general to fly from one flower to another like a butterfly, or to write a tragic drama, or to change himself into a sea bird, and if the general did not carry out the order that he had received, which one of us would be in the wrong?" the king demanded. "The general, or myself?" "You," said the little prince firmly. "Exactly. One must require from each one the duty which each one can perform," the king went on. "Accepted authority rests first of all on reason. If you ordered your people to go and throw themselves into the sea, they would rise up in revolution. I have the right to require obedience because my orders are reasonable."
Bob Brenley came dangerously close to questioning Baker's decision, using The Little Prince-style logic. We'll see if Baker is allowed on the plane back to Chicago. 4. With runners on second and third, two outs in the ninth, facing Gagne, Dubois ropes one down the left field line, just foul, before striking out to end the inning. Interesting that Baker let Dubois hit, with the Proven Veteran Left-handed Bat Off The Bench, Hollandsworth, left sitting on the bench. Personally, I would have let Dubois hit, too. 5. Ed Rapuano had a terrible, inconsistent strike zone. 6. NEIFI!!! with the go-ahead single in the tenth, run scores when the left-fielder boots the ball. 7. A shout-out to all the people in Parachat, who were going strong at a Dusty Baker's dozen, in an extra-inning game that started at 7 pm on the West Coast. I'll put on the coffee, in the morning. 8. Dempster hit Antonio Perez in the batting helmet with a Curveball to start out the bottom of the tenth with a run one lead. Perez wasn't pleased, but nothing happened, and he stayed in the game. 9. Dempster recovers to get a sacrifice bunt, pop-up, and 6-3. Game over, one-hitter. And so the Cubs, for all the drama and disasters and disabled-list trips, finish May on a five game winning-streak, and two games over the .500 mark.
GAME 50 PREVIEW CHICAGO CUBS (25-24) at LOS ANGELES DODGERS (26-24) Dodger Stadium, 9.10pm CT, TV: WGN, FSN2
SP Brad Penny SP Carlos Zambrano
SS #Neifi Perez SS #Cesar Izturis
2B *Todd Walker RF Jayson Werth
1B Derrek Lee CF *JD Drew
RF *Jeromy Burnitz 2B Jeff Kent
3B Aramis Ramirez LF *Ricky Ledee
CF *Corey Patterson 3B Antonio Perez
LF Jason Dubois 1B *Hee Seop Choi
C Henry Blanco C #Mike Rose
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
The Cubs have seen the best and worst of Zambrano so far this year - he's been brilliant and unhittable in some starts, wild and certainly fallible in others. And throughout he's of course been ever emotional. Which Z will it be tonight though?
From Al Yellon's Bleed Cubbie Blue, way way down at the bottom of the post, after his review of the new Star Wars movie:
Finally, the usual "reliable sources" tell me that further trades may be on the horizon, which may include one or more starting players. Beyond this I cannot comment without compromising my source, and I'd like to keep the information flow. Stay tuned.
That, my friends, is one of the best cases of burying the lede I have ever seen in my life. So who's it gonna be? Speculators, mount up!
CUBS 5 DODGERS 3
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
W: Greg Maddux (3-3) L: Wilson Alvarez (1-3) SV: Ryan Dempster (5)
Itís nice to get back to the writing discussing a win. The Cubs extend their winning streak to 4 and for the first time since April 30th, .500 can be seen in the rearview mirror. The game started off as well as you anyone could hope. The first pitch of the game was an 87 mph meatball down the middle of the plate by Wilson Alvarez to Jerry Hairston. I thought to myself, that I bet scouts have gotten the word out that Hairston likes to take pitches to start off the game and wondered if Hairston should every once in awhile, rock that first pitch fastball just to keep teams on their toes. Of course Alvarez dared to throw the exact same pitch on the next offering and Hairston sent it over the left field stands for a quick 1-0 lead. And then I thought to myself, what the hell do I know? The Cubs seemed to pound Alvarez for as long as he was in the game, but only managed a 4-0 lead. The Dodgers cut it to 4-2 after Corey Patterson just missed making 2 consecutive amazing plays, one ended up being a short-hop single and the other a 2 run double off the left center field wall. Aramis Ramirez continued what is hopefully a season long hot streak going 3 for 4, including a solo homer to extend the lead to 5-2. The game belonged to Greg Maddux who notched career victory #308 and is now only 43 strikeouts short of becoming the 9th pitcher in history with 300 victories and 3000 strikeouts. For the third straight game Maddux didnít walk a batter and continually had the Dodgers meekly grounding balls around the infield. Despite walking the first two batters in the 8th, Todd Wellemeyer continued his scoreless streak with some help from Will Ohman. Ryan Dempster gave up a home run but managed his fifth save. Carlos Zambrano goes tomorrow and hopefully he comes with his best. A win tomorrow is somewhat essential to staying over .500 and gaining some much needed momentum before facing the super hot San Diego Padres, particularly since John Koronka looks to be called up on Wednesday for his major league debut.
GAME 49 PREVIEW CHICAGO CUBS (24-24) at LOS ANGELES DODGERS (26-23) Dodger Stadium, 7.10pm CT, TV: ESPN, FSN2
SP *Wilson Alvarez SP Greg Maddux
2B Jerry Hairston SS #Cesar Izturis
SS #Neifi Perez RF Jayson Werth
1B Derrek Lee CF *JD Drew
3B Aramis Ramirez 2B Jeff Kent
LF Jason Dubois 1B Olmedo Saenz
RF *Jeromy Burnitz LF *Ricky Ledee
CF *Corey Patterson 3B Antonio Perez
C Michael Barrett C Jason Phillips
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
These days a week of games hosting the Astros and Rockies is about as easy as they come. The Cubs played some good ball, their oppositions some quite bad, but the sum total of it all was the Cubs going 5-2, the minimum requirement in my eyes, and with that dragging themselves back up to five hundred for the first time since the terrible losing streak that began the month. Now though we'll see what the Cubs are really made of. They've largely squandered a pretty comfortable schedule thus far, and being at five hundred, even despite the injuries, is not something of which they should be proud. Now the next three weeks bring encounters with nothing but good to excellent teams. The Dodgers, Padres, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Marlins and Yankees; this is a nineteen game stretch born to give us a better idea of just where we stand. Are hopes of playoff baseball unfounded? Newsflash - Dusty Baker picks same lineup two days in a row! Sadly, that means more Neifi Perez batting second, and less Todd Walker playing second. If I didn't know better, I'd say Dusty's given Walker's job to Jerry. If so, it's great that Dusty's come to the realisation that getting on-base by whatever means possible is a good thing. It's not so great he's not yet realised he doesn't need to relegate Walker to pinch-hit home runs to do so. Hairston for left field! Maybe Walker's still hurting though. In which case, Dusty, carry on. And carry on Cubs, too, let's run this winning streak to four!
Team Records Updated through 5/29/05; Individual Stats Updated through 5/29/05
Organizational Records
TeamW-LGB/Pos.Last 10W/L (2003)W/L (2004)
Chicago Cubs24-247.5/2nd6-427-2125-23
Iowa Cubs 22-284.5/3rd6-4&nbsp&nbsp
West Tenn Jaxx34-160.0/1st5-5&nbsp &nbsp
Daytona Cubs25-232.5/3rd4-6&nbsp&nbsp
Peoria Chiefs25-254.0/3rd7-3&nbsp&nbsp
Boise HawksSeason begins in June N/A N/A &nbsp&nbsp
AZL CubsSeason begins in JuneN/A N/A &nbsp&nbsp

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