August 2005

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!
You'll be seeing a few guest pieces over the next week or so as most of the TCR staff is cruising around the world from all the money we make from Paypal donations and you guys clicking on the ads. You guys do click on the ads, right? Hope you enjoy and we'll be back at full strength in a few weeks to bring you up to date coverage of everyone of Neifi's at-bats in September. Many of you may know me already, but the guys here at The Cub Reporter have asked me to write something. If you don't know me, then let me introduce my self. I am Chris Yarbrough formally from the state of Alabama. I now reside in "The Natural State," which is Arkansas for you guys who are keeping score. I am a sports writer in El Dorado, Ark., which is right above the Louisiana border. I mainly cover high school sports, but I do get to cover the occasional Louisiana Tech football game. This was supposed to run on Monday, but a short staff and a hurricane caused me to forget as I got out of work around 1 a.m. Also you can check out my site, The Yarbage Cub Review. We try to keep things going over there. Now onto our show:
The dismantlement of the 2005 Chicago Cubs continues. Todd Hollandsworth, like Matt Lawton and Mike Remlinger before him, possesses no value to the Cubs beyond this year, since his contract expires over the winter and promises no compensatory draft picks. Furthermore, any value he holds this year has been rendered an irrelevance by the Cubs' 62-69 circumstance. Moving him, and others in the same boat, to teams that still harbour dreams of October baseball is an inarguably sensible strategy, for, even if the typical return in players is similarly valueless and irrelevant, the transaction at least saves dollars that can ideally be spent more effectively at a later point. And, in some instances, the faceless names acquired in such deals do end up possessing long-term value. If possible then, the Cubs should perhaps also be considering moving Ben Grieve and Neifi Perez over the next day or two, while monitoring the markets for Ryan Dempster, Greg Maddux, Glendon Rusch and Jeromy Burnitz, although the need to clear waivers makes deals there unlikely. Moving Todd Walker would be far less wise. In the Cubs' particular instance as regards these small trades, there's also the Dusty Baker factor. It has to be at least wondered if putting such tantalising options such as Lawton, Hollandsworth and Reverse-split Remlinger just out of Dusty's otherwise inescapable reach plays any part in these moves, even if it's just a secondary motivation. From this vantage point a good few thousand miles away, Dusty Baker's misuse of the roster he's been afforded is as clear as day, even if the extent of the impact of that misuse, both absolute and relative, is far more debatable. Just what the view looks like from Hendry's much more privileged viewpoint, and just what difference, if any, that view is responsible for when it comes to his roster construction - those are the predominant thoughts on my mind when it comes to the Cubs these days. Are these moves, or any moves, what he believes to be best for the team, or best for the team as long as it's managed by Dusty Baker, on whom Hendry has all but staked his own position too? If the latter, I think it's entirely possible that Hendry's self-compromise is having just as great a detrimental effect as the much more obvious (and therefore much more maligned) mis-management of Dusty Baker. I spoke yesterday about Hendry's courage with regards to the Matt Lawton mistake, but if he sees Dusty Baker as a mistake, one that's compromising him and the team as a whole, the greater act of courage would be to send Dusty Baker packing, even if by doing so he runs the risk of going the same way himself. On the other hand, if he doesn't see Dusty Baker as a mistake, and this year's team is his own way of constructing a team capable of winning the World Series, I personally don't think he's got a good enough grasp of the big picture to be a general manager anyway. Discuss.
Todd Hollandsworth was traded to the Atlanta Braves tonight for minor league (wait for it)....pitchers Todd Blackford and Angelo Burrows. If you're too lazy to click the link, here's what the Cubs PR department has to say about the 2 "prospects":
Blackford, 20, is in his second professional season, having been selected by Atlanta in the 13th round of the 2004 draft. In 27 career games, the right-handed pitcher has gone 6-5 with a 4.60 ERA. This season, Blackford has gone 5-3 with a 3.17 ERA in 12 games for the Class A Danville Braves. He has held opponents to a .219 average and issued just two homers in 59 2/3 innings of work. Burrows, 25, was selected by the Braves in the ninth round of the 1999 draft. The right-handed pitcher has split the 2005 season between Class A Rome and Myrtle Beach, combining to go 4-3 with three saves and a 3.32 ERA in 30 relief appearances. Burrows, who began his career as an outfielder, batted .250 in 334 career games before being converted to a pitcher in 2004. In his first season on the mound, he was 2-5 with a 4.10 ERA in 22 relief appearances. He struck out 30 batters and allowed five homers in his 37 1/3 innings of work.
Matt Murton will be called up tomorrow to take Holly's spot and it looks like Jermaine Van Buren will be called up and placed on the 40 man roster to take Kerry Wood's spot, who will be placed on the DL tomorrow. Trans: To quote Bob Dylan,
Goodbye's too good a word, babe So I'll just say, "fare thee well." I ain't saying you treated me unkind. You could have done better but I don't mind. You just kinda wasted my precious time. But don't think twice, it's all right.
GAME 131 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] LOS ANGELES DODGERS (59-71) @ CHICAGO CUBS (62-68) WRIGLEY FIELD, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: ESPN, CSN, Fox Sports West 2
Jerome Williams, RHP
4-6, 4.74 ERA
51/31 K/BB, 12 HR in 79.2 IP
D.J. Houlton, RHP
4-7, 4.83 ERA
72/33 K/BB, 11 HR in 96.1 IP
3B Antonio Perez CF Jerry Hairston Jr.
SS *Oscar Robles 2B *Todd Walker
2B Jeff Kent 1B Derrek Lee
LF *Ricky Ledee RF *Jeromy Burnitz
1B Jason Phillips 3B Nomar Garciaparra
CF Jayson Werth LF *Todd Hollandsworth
C #Dionar Navarro SS #Neifi Perez
RF #Jose Cruz Jr. C Michael Barrett
P D.J. Houlton P Jerome Williams
You think we have problems, the Dodgers have Ricky Ledee batting cleanup and Jason Phillips starting at first base over Hee-Seop Choi even though a righty is on the mound. And every time I point out the deficiencies of another team's lineup, they pound us. Not to mention they have a relatively bad pitcher on the mound, who's certain to throw a gem tonight. You know when you look at Jerome Williams' numbers, he's not that good. Doesn't strike out a lot of guys, way too many walks for a guy who doesn't strike out all that many hitters and for a guy who's suppose to keep the ball on the ground, he's given up way too many dingers. He does have youth and "upside" going for him though. Why is Todd Hollandsworth in the lineup? That is really going to be the worst part of the rest of the season. Cause everyone including the Cubs brass has declared the season over, but Dusty just can't live with being below .500. So he's going to trot out marginal vets (Perez, Holly, etc) in an attempt to say he's a winning manager, thus not only is this season ruined, he's going to screw us up for next year too. Awesome!!! And how the hell is this game on ESPN by the way? Go Cubs!!
The white flags are upon us and here's another one. Kerry Wood will go under the knife on Wednesday for arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. When they first discussed surgery, I recall reading something about a 3 month recovery period and that is was very similar to the procedure that Matt Morris underwent for the Cardinals last year. That means he could start throwing once again in December, plenty of time to start addressing the issues with his mechanics that are probably the source of his problems. Whether that will happen is another story of course. I wonder if the Cubs will DL him and call someone up or just wait until Septemeber 1st when rosters expand. Could this finally be a way to get Jermaine Van Buren up? My limited roster knowledge tells me they could put Wood on the 60 day DL and get Van Buren on the 40 man roster. Speaking of the 40 man roster and September call-ups, any guesses? Here's mine for what they're worth. Adam Greenberg (once AA playoffs are over) Jermaine Van Buren (see above) Mike Fontentot (only if Todd Walker gets traded) Matt Murton Rich Hill Sergio Mitre Geovany Soto (almost always call up a 3rd catcher) I think John Koronka is a small possibility and Ronny Cedeno will stick around once Aramis comes back off the DL. I don't see any point in wasting money to bring up Ben Grieve.
Thanks to Steve Holley of Inside the Ivy for helping to fill in the blanks on some of the injuries to our minor leaguers. If you care what is going on with our lil' Cubs, you'll certainly want to check out the site. Some of the best inside info you'll get. MVN also has new minor league site devoted entirely to the Chicago Cubs. Check out Road to Wrigley. Team Records updated through 8/28/05; Individual Stats updated through 8/28/05
Organizational Records
TeamW-LGB/Pos.Last 10
Chicago Cubs62-68(Div)20.5/4th
(WC)7.5/7th
4-6
Iowa Cubs62-696.5/4th5-5
West Tenn Diamond Jaxx*34-281.5/2nd5-5
Daytona Cubs30-316.0/5th6-4
Peoria Chiefs29-335.0/6th5-5
Boise Hawks29-373.0/3rd6-4
AZL Cubs8-179.0/9th4-6
Cubs Ex W/L: 65-65; (2003) 68-62; (2004) 71-59 * West Tennessee clinched the first half North Division title of the Southern League
After a two week holiday, it's nice to be back. Or at least it would be if I wasn't coming back to the realisation that the Cubs are now tied for fourth in the division with the Cincinnati Reds (who've gone 35-25 since they fired their manager), and that Matt Lawton has been traded. Not that Matt Lawton being traded in itself is a bad thing: not at all, for while the Cubs mustered just an unremarkable pitching prospect by the name of Justin Berg, who like most pitching prospects deep in the system enjoys only the slightest chance of ever contributing at the big league level, that's a whole lot more than they'd have got had they held onto him. Had he stayed, Lawton, a free agent at year's end whose current contract rules out offering arbitration with a view to draft pick compensation as a viable option, would have walked away leaving the Cubs with nothing, and he'd have left the Cubs a million dollars lighter in the pocket between now and then too. This trade isn't a case of the Cubs' front office being cheap though, it's a case of them being sensible, if not courageous too, for it takes a big man to be at as ease with his mistakes as Hendry has shown himself to be here. That said, there is only so much praise you can heap upon someone for clearing up their own mess. On deadline day I wrote...
Whichever way Hendry tried to spin it in the press conference, this trade is a rental. Matt Lawton is entering the final months of a four year deal that's paying him $7.5m this year. And when this season is done, Lawton, whose contract includes no options, will file for free agency. With Lawton turning 34 in November, and doubtless looking for a multi-year deal all the same, this being a rental or not, it's probably best left that way. But it is a rental. And that says much for the Cubs' attitude towards this season, it says that they still clearly think they can make the playoffs. But this team right now stands at just 53-52 and is very much flawed, as this lousy homestand against lousy Western opposition [Giants, Diamondbacks] has demonstrated. Nomar, Wood and Williamson, who Hendry is viewing as mid-season pickups, will not change that, promoting Van Buren won't either, and neither will Matt Lawton, whose simply not an impact ballplayer.
The Cubs only gave up Jody Gerut, who managed just 18 plate appearances with the Pirates before succumbing to the problems with his knee that have ruined his season, but right now the Cubs' delusions of competitiveness mean that in the long-term they've exchanged him for Justin Berg, and that's just an unjustifable trade. In the short-term, Lawton gave Dusty Baker a convenient excuse to screw over Matt Murton, and the Cubs threw in a million dollars or so too. And for what? Parity with the Cincinnati Reds in 2005? I need a holiday.
GAME 130 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] FLORIDA MARLINS (69-60) @ CHICAGO CUBS (61-68) WRIGLEY FIELD, 1:20 pm CDT, TV: Fox Sports Florida, WGN
Carlos Zambrano, RHP
10-5, 3.03 ERA
159/69 K/BB, 13 HR in 172.1 IP
Josh Beckett, RHP
12-7, 3.45 ERA
128/45 K/BB, 10 HR in 140.2 IP
CF *Juan Pierre CF Jerry Hairston Jr.
LF Jeff Conine 2B Todd Walker
3B Miguel Cabrera 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Carlos Delgado RF *Jeromy Burnitz
RF Juan Encarnacion 3B Nomar Garciaparra
SS Damon Easley LF Todd Hollandsworth
2B #Luis Castillo SS Ronny Cedeno
C Matt Treanor C Henry Blanco
P Josh Beckett P #Carlos Zambrano
Go Cubs!!
GAME 129 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] FLORIDA MARLINS (68-60) @ CHICAGO CUBS (61-67) WRIGLEY FIELD, 12:20 pm CDT, TV: Fox
Greg Maddux, RHP
10-10, 4.56 ERA
104/29 K/BB, 24 HR in 169.2 IP
Dontrelle Willis, LHP
17-8, 2.67 ERA
124/41 K/BB, 7 HR in 178.2 IP
CF *Juan Pierre LF Jerry Hairston Jr.
LF Jeff Conine 2B Todd Walker
3B Miguel Cabrera 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Carlos Delgado C Michael Barrett
RF Juan Encarnacion 3B Nomar Garciaparra
2B Damon Easley RF *Jeromy Burnitz
SS Alex Gonzalez SS #Neifi Perez
C Matt Treanor CF *Corey Patterson
P *Dontrelle Willis P Greg Maddux
Maybe Dusty will figure out how a double-switch works today. Maybe pigs will fly... Go Cubs!!!
The Cubs traded Matt Lawton to the Yankees today in exchange for minor-league righty Justin Berg. Berg was a late-round draft-and-follow in 2003 and played for the Wisconsin Woodchucks (!) of the Northwoods League until he signed in May of '04. After struggling as a reliever in rookie ball, he was moved into the rotation at Class A Staten Island this year and went 6-2 with a 3.53 ERA and 52/20 K/BB ratio. So the Cubs ended up trading Jason Dubois for Jody Gerut, Gerut for Lawton, and Lawton for Berg. I'll grade that as "incomplete" and wait to see how Berg pans out. To take Lawton's spot on the roster, they called up Scott McClain, the 33-year-old career minor leaguer (except for a 9-game cup of coffee with Tampa in '98) who just hit 291/358/578 with 30 homers for Iowa. He is nominally a third baseman though all in all it would be better if he left his glove in Iowa City and concentrated on being the righty bat off the bench that the Cubs need (as evidenced by Todd Hollandsworth's pinch-hit appearance in yesterday's game).
GAME 128 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] FLORIDA MARLINS (66-59) @ CHICAGO CUBS (61-66) WRIGLEY FIELD, 1:20 pm CDT, TV: WGN, ESPN
Glendon Rusch, LHP
5-6, 4.21 ERA
87/43 K/BB, 10 HR in 107.0 IP
Jason Vargas, LHP
4-1, 2.43 ERA
33/16 K/BB, 0 HR in 37.0 IP
CF *Juan Pierre CF Jerry Hairston Jr.
LF Jeff Conine LF *Matt Lawton
3B Miguel Cabrera 1B Derrek Lee
1B *Carlos Delgado C Michael Barrett
RF Juan Encarnaciony 3B Nomar Garciaparra
2B Damon Easley RF *Jeromy Burnitz
SS Alex Gonzalez 2B #Neifi Perez
C Matt Treanor SS Ronny Cedeno
P *Jason Vargas P *Glendon Rusch
Sorry about the title.... Well at least Ronny will get to play, what an interesting lineup. Nomar at third is interesting as well and I have no doubt that he could thrive there. He's got the arm and won't have to worry about covering all that ground that he can't really cover anymore at short. Of course he has absolutely no use there as a Cub in the foreseeable future. As for the game itself, Jason Vargas and his wild locks look to shutdown the Cubs as well as auditioning for my fantasty team. (See I could use one more pitcher for the stretch run). The Marlins are my pick to take the Wild Card, I love their rotation (Beckett, Burnett, Willis, Vargas, whoever) and the lineup isn't too shabby. Although their missing a few guys today that makes it not look so hot (Castillo, Lowell). Plus the high comedy of more press conferences with Jack McKeon possibly mispronouncing his own players names should be played out for a nationwide audience. The good teams seem to bring out the best in the Cubs, sure we lost to the Braves, but the losses were close games. Let's hope for more of the same this weekend. (The close games and generally well-played basesball, not the losing) Go Cubs!
Aramis Ramirez has been placed on the DL, and Ronny Cedeno has been recalled to take his spot on the roster. Of course, with the Cubs a mere 7 1/2 games out of the wildcard with five whole weeks of the season left, we can't expect Cedeno to actually play! This also explains why a third baseman (like, I don't know, Mike Fontenot, who's sporting a .374 OBP in Iowa) wasn't called up to replace A-Ram; we're going to need the veteran presence of Neifi Perez and Jose Macias at third in order to jump past Philadelphia, Florida, Houston, New York, Washington, and Milwaukee and make the post-season. Ramirez will be replaced, at least for today, by Nomar Garciaparra, making his first-ever appearance at third base. Iiiinteresting. Is it a one-off thing, or is it a way for Nomar to make himself a little more desireable on the free-agent market? Once the game starts, he will become the 103rd player to man third base for the Cubs since the Ron Santo trade.
USA Today has come out with a special section on "Baseball Announcers Yesterday & Today." Overall, it's a really entertaining package. It includes a ranking of all current radio announcing teams, and for the most part I think they get things right. Except. They rank Pat Hughes & Ron Santo a ridiculous 13th in the NL and 26th in the majors! Come on! They score along three axes, two of which are "fan rating" (the excitement and uniqueness the announcers bring to the broadcast, as well as their ability to connect with their audience) and "entertainment rating" (how well the announcers interact, the fun they have in the booth and the stories they tell, among other things) and I don't see any possible way that Pat & Ron (and especially Ron) could be rated lower than a "9" in either of these categories. They offer a feedback link, and I hope the members of the TCR community will take a few seconds to drop them an email in defense of one of the most entertaining radio teams in baseball.
Felix Pie won't be playing in the Arizona Fall League, as reported in cubs.com. Also, the nearly complete AFL rosters and a bit of a preview are up at minorleaguebaseball.com. They do a quick rundown of some of the bigger name prospects and the only Cub reviewed is Angel Guzman.
Once upon a time, not too long ago, Guzman appeared poised to become the next Mark Prior. The only thing that's resembled the Cubs ace has been an injury history. He's made just a few outings in the Arizona League, but still only 23, there's time for him to become a top flight pitching prospect again
Also, Buck Coats is designated as a "Taxi-Squad" player, meaning he'll only be available on Wednesdays and Saturdays or if there is an injury. And the Cubs will be adding one more pitcher before games begin sometime in early October.
Aramis Ramirez left today's game early after straining his left quadricep muscle. On a sure double play grounder to short, Ramirez did his best attempt at hustling and then clutched his upper left leg before collapsing while crossing first base. It wasn't even a close play. It was the right quad that he's been nursing lately although apparently he has strained the left quad as well this season. After the game, trainer Mark O'Neal had this to say:
"We didn't feel a significant defect in the quad itself. Obviously, you're looking to make sure you don't have any major muscle disruption like Nomar [Garciaparra] had [with his groin], and we didn't find anything like that.
Well they did the MRI and came out with an official press release saying:
The results of the MRI indicated a moderate to severe strain of his left quadricep muscle. Ramirez will be re-evaluated on Friday.
Hard to decipher how long he'll be out, but there's just no good reason to risk anything at this point. Normally in these situations and considering how remote the Cubs chances at the playoffs are at this point, you'd bring up some lil' Cub who may have a future with the ballclub and see what they can do. In this case it would be Mike Fontenot who normally plays second base but has experiemented with third base a bit. But this is the Cubs and Dusty and I'm sure they're still suffering from delusions that a huge winning streak is just around the corner, plus you got to reward Macias and Neifi for the great years they're having. Thus I fully expect Nosferatu to man the corner spot for as long as Ramirez is out and now I think 70 wins might be a reach. This also may be a crushing blow to any chance Lee had at the Triple Crown as their is just absolutely not one good reason to pitch to him anymore with people on base. What a season!
It's bullet-point Wednesday! * I saw exactly one at-bat of last night's game. I turned it on in the 4th to see the score, watched Jeromy Burnitz hit his granny, and then turned it off and went to sleep (I was tired!). Therefore, I have a completely skewed concept of what last night's game was all about. I was happy to wake up and see the touchy-feely stories about Jerome Williams and his dad, sad (but not surprised) to see the latest in the shortstop saga, and psyched when I remembered that it was Prior's turn to pitch. I should be able to get home in time for the end of the game (one advantage to living in the Eastern time zone), and that might be the last baseball I see for a little while as I am headed to India on a business trip at the end of the week. * When the Cubs signed Greg Maddux, I was happy because I felt that a talented young picher like Mark Prior would have a lot to learn from him. I didn't think that one of the things he'd learn would be how to give up home runs. Maddux's HR/9 rate skyrocketed upon his return to Chicago -- it was 0.53 for the first 18 years of his career, and is 1.39 over the last two seasons. In his first three seasons, Prior gave up 43 homers in 446 2/3 IP. That's .87 homers per 9 innings. This year, he's given up 21 in 125 1/3 IP, a rate of 1.51 HR/9. Is it something to be worried about? Probably not, but you know me. * Why did the Braves take Jorge Sosa out of the rotation in the first place? Oh, right, because injured starters Mike Hampton and John Thomson were on their way back. Here's what Sosa did during his 12-game stint in the rotation: 12 GS, 5-2, 2.77 ERA, 65 IP, 59 H, 47 K/26 BB Here's how Hampton & Thompson have done since their return: 5 GS, 1-3, 6.64 ERA, 21 2/3 IP, 43 H, 12 K/7 BB And Hampton is, of course, back on the DL, with Sosa starting in his place this afternoon. * I have nothing to do with the "Cardinals are birds of prey" add that has popped up in the Blogads in the right-hand column (though I do appreciate the profane typo). Bring back Rachel Wacholder, I say! * I don't have any problem with backup catchers -- every team has to have one -- but a problem arises when two of your starters prefer to throw to hm. Instead of throwing away that spot in the order once a week (14% of the time, roughly), you're throwing it away 40% of the time. If your backup catcher is as craptastic as Henry Blanco, that's a real problem. The solution? Get a better backup catcher or get your starters comfortable with the front-line guy. Meanwhile, on to today's game: GAME 127 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] ATLANTA BRAVES (71-55) @ CHICAGO CUBS (61-65) WRIGLEY FIELD, 1:20 pm CDT, TV: WGN, FSS, DTV 734
Mark Prior, RHP
9-4, 3.66 ERA
140/41 K/BB, 21 HR in 125 1./3 IP
John Thomson, RHP
8-2, 2.63 ERA
64/45 K/BB, 10 HR in 92 1/3 IP
SS #Rafael Furcal LF *Matt Lawton
2B Marcus Giles 2B *Todd Walker
3B #Larry W. Jones 1B Derrek Lee
CF Andruw Jones 3B Aramis Ramirez
1B Julio Franco RF *Jeromy Burnitz
RF Jeff Francoeur SS Neifi Perez
LF *Ryan Langerhans CF *Corey Patterson
C *Brian McCann C Henry Blanco
P Jorge Sosa P Mark Prior
GAME 126 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] ATLANTA BRAVES (71-54) @ CHICAGO CUBS (60-65) WRIGLEY FIELD, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: TmS, CSN
Jerome Williams, RHP
3-6, 5.13 ERA
46/28 K/BB, 11 HR in 72.0 IP
John Thomson, RHP
3-3, 4.53 ERA
39/16 K/BB, 4 HR in 59.2 IP
SS #Rafael Furcal LF *Matt Lawton
2B Marcus Giles 2B *Todd Walker
3B #Chipper F. Jones 1B Derrek Lee
CF Andruw Jones 3B Aramis Ramirez
1B *Adam LaRoche RF *Jeromy Burnitz
RF Jeff Francoeur C Michael Barrett
LF *Kelly Johnson SS #Neifi Perez
C #Johnny Estrada CF Jerry Hairston
P John Thomson P Jerome Williams
Keep hitting homers Lee and I hope the Cubs pitchers do their best to avoid Andruw Jones. Help a brother out, you know! I want something substantial to root for the rest of the season and the Triple Crown is still very much within reach. Go Cubs!!!
This from cubs.com:
[Felix] Pie will be one of seven Cubs players in the Arizona Fall League. The others include second baseman [Eric] Patterson, outfielder [Matt] Murton, first baseman Brandon Sing, utility player Buck Coates and pitchers David Aardsma and Angel Guzman. One more pitcher will be named to the Mesa Solar Sox team, Cubs player development director Oneri Fleita said.
That seems to conflict with 2 of the AFL eligibility rules which are: ï Each Major League team provides 6 players. There are 6 teams in the AFL, each one a mix of 5 MLB teams players. ï All Triple-A and Double-A players are eligible, but they must have been on at least a Double-A roster no later than August 1st. ï One player below the Double-A level is allowed per MLB team. ï One foreign player is allowed, as long as they do not live in a country that has a winter ball league, including the Carribbean Confederations or Australian Winter League. ï No Players with more than one year of ML service (before August 31st) are allowed. The exception are any players picked in the Rule 5 draft. ï Players on disabled lists in the minors must have been activated 45 days before the end of their season to be eligible. Guzman is from Venezuela and Pie is from the Dominican Republic and Pie is expected to be activated Saturday, which is certainly not 45 days before the end of the AA season which finishes it's season at the end of the month. If they are referring to the end of the MLB season, it's still not 45 days by my calculations. Is Cubs.com wrong or is there explanation? And if Pie is going with Guzman, I have to find a way to get to Arizona for a couple of games. Any guesses on the other pitcher? I'm thinking Jermaine Van Buren or Ricky Nolasco. ---- Things to make you shiver... "One guy you've got to really be thankful for is Neifi Perez," Baker said of the backup shortstop who has started 89 games at the position. Garciaparra has started 24. "Hopefully, Neifi comes to the rescue again until Nomar gets better." "In that situation, you've got to take a chance, especially because Corey [Patterson's] not going real good right now," Baker said. "You've got to take a shot right there. He threw it on target."
GAME 125 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] ATLANTA BRAVES (70-54) @ CHICAGO CUBS (60-64) WRIGLEY FIELD, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: Comcast
Carlos Zambrano, RHP
10-5, 3.07 ERA
149/69 K/BB, 12 HR in 164.1 IP
Tim Hudson, RHP
9-7, 3.45 ERA
83/49 K/BB, 11 HR in 133.0 IP
SS #Rafael Furcal SS LF *Matt Lawton
2B Marcus Giles 2B *Todd Walker
3B #Chipper F. Jones 1B Derrek Lee
CF Andruw Jones 3B Aramis Ramirez
1B *Adam LaRoche RF *Jeromy Burnitz
RF Jeff Francoeur C Michael Barrett
LF *Kelly Johnson SS #Neifi Perez
C Johnny Estrada CF *Corey Patterson
P Tim Hudson C #Carlos Zambrano
Here I am, so excited to actually sit down and watch the game, that I totally forgot to post the lineups. The Braves come to town with their rookie sensation Jeff Francoeur, who has yet to draw an unintentional walk. I'm going to go out on a limb and say he'll get at least one against the Cubs. The Cubs have to win. Every day, they have to win if they thingk they have a chance at the playoffs (which they don't). But, if they don't win every day (which they won't) I'm going to do my best to be like Al. Which is not so say I'm going to ignore the myriad problems with this team, but rather that I will do my best to pay attention to the positive things that have happened, are happening, and will continue to happen between now and the end of March.
Team Records updated through 8/21/05; Individual Stats updated through 8/21/05
Organizational Records
TeamW-LGB/Pos.Last 10
Chicago Cubs60-64(Div)18.0/4th
(WC)6.5/7th
6-4
Iowa Cubs58-6710.0/4th3-7
West Tenn Diamond Jaxx*31-241.5/2nd5-5
Daytona Cubs27-286.0/5th7-3
Peoria Chiefs26-316.0/8th3-7
Boise Hawks25-343.0/3rd4-6
AZL Cubs6-137.5/9th4-6
Cubs Ex W/L: 60-64; (2003) 64-60; (2004) 68-56 * West Tennessee clinched the first half North Division title of the Southern League
Apparently over in Red Sox Nation things aren't so peachy. There seems to be some sort of front-office struggle bertween GM Theo Epstein and president John Henry, the result being a ton of roster moves that defy logic like the continual jerking back and forth of 3B Kevin Youkilis and the Millar-Petagine-Olerud three-headed monster at first. Now, apparently, some are suggesting that manager Terry Francona should be fired. Keep in mind this is the defending World Champs, who currently enjoy a four-game lead in the AL East. Our A-B compadre, Evan Brunell, takes a look at whether Francona has helped or hurt the Sox during his tenure. I think it's amazing that this discussion is even going on, but given that it is I think Evan takes a good look at it. Boston fans, if you're really clamoring for a change, I'm sure the Cubs would let Grady Little out of his contract...
Six Cubs will be playing in the Arizona Fall League this year for the Mesa Solar Sox. RHP David Aardsma RHP Angel Guzman SS/CF Buck Coats OF Matt Murton 2B Eric Patterson 1B/OF Brandon Sing Not exactly who I would have expected, but I'm not exactly sure who makes a good candidate for the AFL. According to the article, the AFL is for AA and AAA prospects and only one player below AA is allowed per major league team, in our case, that would be Eric Patterson. Last year the Cubs sent, LHP Sean Marshall, RHP Jae Kuk Ryu, LHP Russ Rohlicek, C Geovany Soto, SS Ronny Cedeno, 1B Brian Dopirak and OF Adam Greenberg. Greenberg was a member of the "Taxi Squad" and could only play on Wednesday and Saturdays. Wacky!! The 2003 roster featured RHP David Cash (no idea), RHP Ben Christensen, RHP Jason Szuminski, C Casey Kopitzke, INF Brendan Harris, INF Ryan Theriot (also a "Taxi Squad") member, and OF Jason Dubois. Organizational Report will be up either late today or tomorrow.
I looked up from my dissertation just long enough to notice that Adam Greenberg has made The Paper of Record. It's odd that they would decide to run an article on him now, all of the sudden. But it's a fine piece, framing both him and Dusty Baker in a very nice, sympathetic light. Sadly, it seems that Greenberg still struggles with lingering effects of the beaning. Sorry I can't write more, but I encourage you to check it out.
GAME 124 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (60-63) @ COLORADO ROCKIES (46-77) COORS FIELD, 2:05 pm CDT, TV: WGN, KTVD
Jeff Francis, LHP
11-9, 5.80 ERA
104/55 K/BB, 19 HR in 141.0 IP
Greg Maddux, RHP
10-9, 4.40 ERA
101/28 K/BB, 21 HR in 163.2 IP
LF Jerry Hairston Jr. 2B Luis Gonzalez
2B #Neifi Perez CF * Cory Sullivan
1B Derrek Lee 1B *Todd Helton
3B Aramis Ramirez LF Matt Holliday
SS Nomar Garciaparra 3B Garrett Atkins
RF *Jeromy Burnitz RF Dustan Mohr
C Michael Barrett C #J.D. Closser
CF *Corey Patterson SS *Omar Quintanilla
P Greg Maddux P *Jeff Francis
Playoffs or not, we can take a series from the Rockies, right? The quest for 15 wins continues for Maddux, he needs 5 wins in 7-8 more starts. Go Maddux!!!
...but the radar shows it should clear soon. GAME 123 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (60-62) @ COLORADO ROCKIES (45-77) COORS FIELD, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: WGN
Aaron Cook, RHP
1-1, 5.16 ERA
9/5 K/BB, 0 HR in 22.2 IP
Glendon Rusch, LHP
5-5, 4.28 ERA
81/42 K/BB, 10 HR in 101.0 IP
LF *Matt Lawton SS Luis Gonzalez
2B *Todd Walker 2B #Aaron Miles
1B Derrek Lee 1B *Todd Helton
3B Aramis Ramirez LF Matt Holliday
RF *Jeromy Burnitz 3B Garrett Atkins
C Michael Barrett RF Dustan Mohr
SS #Neifi Perez C Todd Greene
CF *Corey Patterson CF *Larry Bigbie
P *Glendon Rusch P Aaron Cook
GAME 122 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (59-62) @ COLORADO ROCKIES (45-76) COORS FIELD, 4:05 pm CDT, TV: CSN, Fox Sports Rocky Mountain
Byung-Hyun Kim, RHP
3-9, 5.33 ERA
82/50 K/BB, 10 HR in 103.0 IP
Mark Prior, RHP
8-4, 3.70 ERA
130/39 K/BB, 20 HR in 119.1 IP
LF *Matt Lawton 2B Luis Gonzalez
2B *Todd Walker RF *Jorge Piedra
1B Derrek Lee LF Matt Holliday
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Todd Helton
RF *Jeromy Burnitz 3B Garrett Atkins
SS #Neifi Perez CF *Larry Bigbie
CF *Corey Patterson C Danny Ardoin
C Henry Blanco SS *Omar Quintanilla
P Mark Prior P Byung-Hun Kim
Games at Coors Field always make me think of video game baseball. It seems playing here is like playing one of EA's video games on the Rookie Level, where you could hit a HR pretty much anytime you needed it. Just push up on the joystick and swing, Voila, 3 run blast! To keep the optimism going around here, I took a look at the Cubs upcoming schedule. Here's a quick breakdwon:
No shocker here, Jerry Hairston was activated from the DL and Matt Murton was sent down to Iowa. Always good to know that it doesn't matter how well you play, just how long you've been in the league. Wonderful message to send to the prospects in the system!
I don't like to give credence to rumors by putting them on the site, but since this one is pretty pervasive I'll make an exception: Roger Clemens. I don't believe it, and the people I asked who know about these sorts of things don't believe it. Of course, that doesn't mean it isn't going to get talked about, or that people aren't going to jump to their own conclusions. One person said to me yesterday that Clemens "fits the profile" of the kind of person who uses PEDs. Does he? How many older power pitchers have tested positive? None. What he fits is the stereotype of the kind of player people think would use. Couple that with the fact that he's a guy that lots of people love to hate and you've got a guy who's being put on trial in the court of public opinion, a court where "innocent is proven guilty" is ignored in favor of the much lower standard of "I think he did it, therefore he must have." This kind of crap really pisses me off. One unfortunate side effect of the players who have tested positive is that every player who fits the stereotype gets smeared as a possible user; pretty much any older player with power or a guy who showed up at camp lighter than he used to be gets saddled with the "cheater" label. The way people take as given that these guys, or any number of other players, are using steroids disgusts me. For many people, fans, bloggers, and "professional writers" alike, one mention of steroids is the only opening needed for the worst traits of their humanity to come out. It always amazes me how people can state as fact that so-and-so is a steroid user, often weaving elaborate conspiracy theories to deflect attention from the fact that there's no actual evidence. What proof is offered? None. It's simply a situation where innuendo, personal agenda, and a desire to be a part of the conversation add up to libel. Yes, libel. Look it up. I didn't want to get off on a rant here, since I've pretty much stayed out of the steroid discussion over the last few years because I don't have anything constructive to add to it, but I guess I couldn't help myself. I think this latest round of rumors is witch-hunting at its worst. I don't think Major League Baseball is going to announce anytime soon that Roger Clemens has failed a drug test, and I don't think it's because there's some sort of baseball-wide conspiracy theory protecting him. And I'm not interested in getting into the "well, if he does test positive, what does it mean for his legacy/the Hall of Fame/the future of the game" BS. If a positive test result is announced, then we'll talk. Until then, I'm not going to speculate and I wish other people would follow suit. I know that's a futile wish, but a guy can dream, can't he?
It's a day off for the Cubs, so it's basically a day off for the Cub Reporter writers. There are still things to talk about though, like: * Who will get sent down when Jerry Hairston is activated tomorrow? Is it the end of Matt Murton's stay in the bigs? It doesn't seem likely that the Cubs will go to 11 pitchers on their way into Coors Field. * There's a little article on Adam Greenberg on MinorLeagueBaseball.com. He still hasn't recovered from his beaning, which happened over a month ago. At this point, I imagine the Cubs will wait until after 9/1 to bring him back. They are going to bring him back to the bigs, right? [UPDATE 8/19:] One of the pics on Cubs.com this morning, to go along with this article, is a picture of Greenberg being helped off the field. He looks like a guy who just got hit in the head, but I bet he's not too happy with that picture geting a wide release. Poor kid. * Who else will get called up for September? There's been quite a bit of discussion about it in the comments, and plenty of people think Jermaine van Buren should get a look, but the fact that he's not on the 40-man is going to make it more difficult. Not that there aren't people on the 40 who could be cut to make room for him (I'm looking at you, John Koronka), but the Cubs might be reluctant to DFA someone, even a meatball like Koronka, just to get JvB a brief taste of the bigs. * Much of the TCR staff is on vacation or business trips or otherwise unavailable over the next few weeks, so we're putting out a call for guest writers. If you have something you'd like to write about, drop me a line and let's talk about it.
GAME 121 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (58-62) @ HOUSTON ASTROS (64-55) MINUTE MAID PARK, 6:05 pm CDT, TV: ESPN
Roy Oswalt, RHP
14-9, 2.57 ERA
1123/34 K/BB, 12 HR in 178.2 IP
Carlos Zambrano, RHP
9-9, 4.54 ERA
96/26 K/BB, 21 HR in 156.2 IP
LF *Matt Lawton CF Wily Taveras
2B *Todd Walker 2B Craig Biggio
1B Derrek Lee LF #Lance Berkman
3B Aramis Ramirez 3B Morgan Ensberg
SS Nomar Garciaparra 1B *Mike Lamb
CF *Corey Patterson RF *Orlando Palmeiro
RF *Jeromy Burnitz SS Adam Everett
C Michael Barrett C Brad Ausmus
P #Carlos Zambrano P Roy Oswalt
Man, I like typing that # before Big Z's name. How silly is it that he switch-hits? I think it's one of the coolest things going. I'm happy to see that the lineup seems to be stabilizing over the last week or so -- we have a Lawton/Murton platoon in left, Blanco catches Maddux and Prior, and the 3-4-5 is Lee-Ramirez-Nomar. Pretty much the way it should be. PS -- Davey Johnson is managing again, and managing a team of youngsters to boot. Just sayin'.
In Rotoworld.com's Strike Zone Archives, you'll find a quick rundown of next year's free agents and a guess by the author of who they'll end up signing with. It goes position by position and even gives a sneak peek of the top free agents for the following year as well. Here's who they think will sign with the Cubs and their reasoning:
Now is not the time for irrational exuberance. The win last night raised the Cubs' post-season chances from 1.10% to 1.72%. The optimist in me points out that the Cubs improved their chances by 56%, while the pessimist in me wonders how there can possibly be an optimist in me after 30 years of following the Cubs. Tonight our creaky warrior, Carlos Zambrano, takes on Houston's little giant, Roy Oswalt, who is six feet tall in the same way I resemble Brad Pitt. No matter, he brings the heat and is one of the main reasons, along with Clemens and Pettitte, that the Astros are in good position to capture the wildcard. Have you seen their upcoming schedule? Milwaukee, San Diego, Los Angeles, Cincinnati -- if they haven't put some ground between themselves and the pack of dogs in the NL East, I'll be shocked. Back to Zambrano and his back for a second...apparently the Cubs have given El Toro a regimen of exercises to help his back. When I went to physical therapy for my back last year, I got a series of exercises, and let me tell you, they worked great. When I did them. All the prayer stretches, cat-and-camels, and Superman stretches in the world don't help you when you spend your time slouched in front of the computer chatting with your friends in distant places. Carlos, man, take it from a guy who knows: DO YOUR STRETCHES. You'll be glad you did. One final note -- I got an email from Peter Bragiel, who has created a website for Wrigley Field beer vendors. check it out, find the vendor who serves your section, and make sure to tip generously on the next Old Style you buy.
GAME 120 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (57-62) @ HOUSTON ASTROS (64-54) MINUTE MAID PARK, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: WGN, Fox Sports SouthWest
Andy Pettitte LHP
10-8, 2.62 ERA
116/31 K/BB, 11 HR in 154.2 IP
Greg Maddux, RHP
9-9, 4.54 ERA
96/26 K/BB, 21 HR in 156.2 IP
RF *Matt Lawton CF Wily Taveras
2B #Neifi Perez 2B Craig Biggio
1B Derrek Lee 1B #Lance Berkman
3B Aramis Ramirez 3B Morgan Ensberg
SS Nomar Garciaparra RF Jason Lane
LF Matt Murton LF *Orlando Palmeiro
CF *Corey Patterson SS Adam Everett
C Henry Blanco C Brad Ausmus
P Greg Maddux P *Andy Pettitte
In the back of my mind and locked in a box high upon a shelf, I hold out hope that the Cubs will make some mad dash toward the playoffs in these last 42 games. In reality, we have a 1.08% chance right now. The Giants have better odds right now to make the playoffs as do the Dodgers and every team in the NL East. So, for the rest of the season I have come up with a cheat sheet for my rooting interests, in order of importance. 1. Fantasy Baseball Stats (I have Aramis, Prior and Z on my team) 2. Derrek Lee's Quest for The Triple Crown 3. Greg Maddux winning 15 games 4. Matt Murton getting playing time and doing well 5. Hendry sees enough to realize that Bakerschild (Baker/Rothschild) are not the right coaches for this team. 6. The Astros don't make the playoffs The item above takes precedence over the item below and if the Cubs do make some remarkable run, they will of course take over precedence to all other items. Today Maddux goes for win #10 and he's only got about 8 to 9 more starts to win 6 more games this season. I hope good old Maddog does it once again, just for the novelty and more proof that showing up everyday is almost as important as playing well when you do play. We'll see if the Cubs can recover from yesterday's butt-whoopin'. At least with Maddux on the mound we're unlikely to be witness to a parade of walks. The long ball is another story though. Go Cubs!

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