September 2005

GAME 160 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (78-81) @ HOUSTON ASTROS (87-72) @ THE JUICE BOX 7:05 pm CDT, TV: WCIU, Fox Sports Southwest
Andy Pettitte, LHP
17-9 2.42 ERA
165/41 K/BB, 17 HR in 215.1 IP
Carlos Zambrano, RHP
14-6 3.33 ERA
194/83 K/BB, 20 HR in 216.1 IP
2B Ryan Theriot 2B Craig Biggio
SS #Neifi Perez CF Wily Taveras
1B Derrek Lee 3B Morgan Ensberg
3B Nomar Garciaparra LF #Lance Berkman
LF Matt Murton 1B Mike Lamb
RF *Jeromy Burnitz LF Jason Lane
C Michael Barrett SS Adam Everett
CF *Corey Patterson C Brad Ausmus
P #Carlos Zambrano P *Andy Pettitte
I really had no idea that Andy Pettitte was having THAT good of a year. Z's quest for .300 will have to come from the right side. A hit in one or two at-bats will put him above .300, if he gets three or four at-bats and manages only a single hit, he'll stay below .300. 2 hits off Pettitte and he's a lock. Also, with 6 more K's, Z will top 200 K's for the first time in his career, plus help out my fantasy team. Macias's earth-shattering walk and solid throw last night weren't enough to get him in the lineup tonight. What's a guy have to do? Joking aside, good to see Theriot has recovered from his bout of food poisoning. I wonder if the Astros clinch before Sunday if Geovany Soto will get a start sometime this weekend? I don't believe he's gotten into a game yet since being called up. The Cubs can take the season series tonight as well, so far they're 8-5 against the 'Stros. They'll have to do it against their top 3, Pettitte tonight, Clemens tomorrow, and Oswalt on Sunday (assuming they haven't clinched by then). Puts the 'Stros in an awful spot if they end up tied with the Phils for the Wild Card as Brandon Backe will have to start a playoff death match. Of course having those guys pitching the next 3 games, where 2 wins clinch the playoffs is a good recipe for avoiding said death match. And be sure to come by Monday as we'll being posted our year end round-table discussion starting with the TCR writers. For the rest of the week, I'll try and keep the other playoff race summaries up-to-date after the jump.
GAME 159 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (77-81) @ HOUSTON ASTROS (87-71) @ THE JUICE BOX 7:05 pm CDT, TV: CSN, Fox Sports Southwest
Wandy Rodriguez, LHP
10-9 5.62 ERA
77/52 K/BB, 17 HR in 121.2 IP
Glendon Rusch, LHP
8-8 4.62 ERA
106/52 K/BB, 13 HR in 138.1 IP
2B #Jose Macias 2B Craig Biggio
SS #Neifi Perez CF Wily Taveras
1B Derrek Lee 3B Morgan Ensberg
3B Nomar Garciaparra 1B #Lance Berkman
LF Matt Murton LF Jason Lane
RF *Jeromy Burnitz RF Chris Burke
C Michael Barrett SS Adam Everett
CF *Corey Patterson C Raul Chavez
P *Glendon Rusch P *Wandy Rodriguez
4 straight wins for the Cubs and they finish at .500. 4 straight wins and 3 wins by the Phils this weekend and the Astros are sent home for the winter. 3 out of 4 for the Cubs and a Phils sweep over the Nationals and we have ourselves a one game death match for the Wild Card. The Cubs who may be the poster child for playing down or up to their competition (depending on your viewpoint, which matters a lot, just ask Obi-Wan Kenobi); Try and assume the role of arch-nemesis to this merry band of space travelers. At least I suppose that's what Astros are, maybe they're just big Jetsons fans down there in Houston. As you can tell, they're isn't much to say about this game or the rest of the season. Not only was it over a long time ago, but we're subjected to a lineup half-full of guys I hope never wear a Cub uniform again. Wow, has it not been fun to be a Cub fan the last month or so. And no, I'm not blaming Baker for these lineups, there's no one left on the roster who's capable to play right now worth watching (assuming Theriot still has his head buried in a toilet somewhere). For the rest of the week, I'll try and keep the other playoff race summaries up-to-date after the jump.
40 Cubs are playing in Arizona now in a 3 week instructional week stint in Arizona. Apparently there are games involved. I'm sure there's someone out there who knows more about this than me. But here's the roster of players in case anyone cares. Pitchers RHP Alberto Alburquerque RHP Olivo Astacio LHP Alejandro Astorga RHP Justin Berg RHP Angelo Burrows RHP Marco Carillo RHP Julio Castillo RHP Robert Hernandez RHP Kyle Holden RHP Mark Holliman RHP Brett Jackson RHP Grant Johnson RHP Dary Maria RHP Jon Mueller LHP Mark Pawelek LHP Clay Rapada LHP Jayson Ruhlman RHP Roberto Sotolongo RHP Scott Taylor LHP Donald Veal Catchers Oscar Bernard Yusuf Carter Enrique Lujan Jake Muyco Mark Reed Infielders 1B Brian Dopirak SS Dylan Johnston 3B Scott Moore SS Jonathan Mota 1B Ryan Norwood 3B Elvin Puello SS Kyle Reynolds SS Joe Simokaitis 3B Brandon Taylor Outfielders CF Davy Gregg RF Ryan Harvey OF Wilson Inoa OF Victor Liriano LF Jesus Valdez LF J.D. Westphal -- There's a couple of recent trade acquistions like Justin Berg, Angelo Burrows and Olivo Astacio. A whole bunch of 2005 draft picks including 3rd rounder Mark Holliman, a RHP from Ole' Miss who never made it to any of the minor leage teams as he signed rather late. 1st rounder Mark Pawelek is there too, something I'm not so thrilled about. I'd love to trust the Cubs brass and think they know how to handle pitchers and their workloads, but I don't. I swear more of our pitchers get injured than stay healthy. Ryan Harvey and Brian Dopirak are both down there too. Maybe they can room together and discuss the finer points of looking good while striking out, maybe attend a guest lecture by Corey Patterson.
GAME 151 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (74-76) @ MILWAUKEE BREWERS (73-76) MILLER PARK, 6:35 pm CDT, TV: WCIU, FSN
Doug Davis, LHP
10-10, 3.95 ERA
183/88 K/BB, 24 HR in 202.2 IP
Jerome Williams, RHP
5-8, 4.30 ERA
60/39 K/BB, 12 HR in 102.2 IP
SS #Neifi Perez CF Brady Clark
2B *Todd Walker SS J.J. Hardy
1B Derrek Lee 1B *Lyle Overbay
3B Nomar Garciaparra LF Carlos Lee
RF *Jeromy Burnitz RF *Geoff Jenkins
LF Matt Murton 3B Bill Hall
CF *Corey Patterson 2B Rickie Weeks
C Michael Barrett C Damien Miller
P Jerome Williams P *Doug Davis
2 weeks left and every series is crucial from here on out. We're guaranteed to see some well-played baseball this week as the two teams battle it out for the crucial third spot in the NL central. Sure, history tells us that no one remembers who finishes second, but it's got nothing to say about third place. Throw in that Dusty is chasing the white whale named Mediocrity (better known as a .500 record) with Ned Yost's ship not even a boat length behind and we got the makings of some gripping baseball up the 294. The season series is on the line as well, the Brew Crew currently up 7-6. Jerome Williams goes to the mound tonight, he's been living the life of luck his last 5 starts: 2-2, 2.35 ERA, 30.2 IP, 14K/11BB, 1 HR Okay luck and keeping the ball in the ballpark, still think he has a lot to prove before I'm ready to pencil him in as a starter next year. September baseball, it's fantastic.
Boy oh boy, these last two weeks are gonna be fun. We're pretty much reduced to personal milestones and the .500 mark, so here's a handy clip-and-save for the last twelve games: * Greg Maddux needs three more wins to get to 15 wins for the 18th straight season, and the Cubs will juggle the rotation so he gets a shot. * Carlos Zambrano needs two more wins to match his career high of 16, set last year. If he gets those two wins, he'll have 50 for his career. He's already set a career high in strikeouts, and is over 200 IP for the third straight year. * Zambrano is also currently hitting .303, easily the highest mark of his career and the best batting performance by a Cub starting pitcher since Mike Krukow hit .314 in 1979. His SLG of .474 is the highest by a Cub pitcher since Dave Roberts slugged an even .500 in 1978. * Derrek Lee is 6 homers away from 50, 6 extra-base hits away from 100, 12 hits away from 200, and 27 total bases away from 400 for the season. He also has a five point lead in the batting race, a race I ridicule and make no mention of unless a Cub has a chance at winning it. * Jeromy Burnitz is 2 homers away from 300 for his career, while Todd Walker is 2 away from 200. Walker also has a good shot at a new career best in SLG. *Michael Barrett is 1 homer and 8 RBI away from tying his career highs (16 and 65), set last year. He's also in range of new career best in OBP and SLG. * Henry Blanco has a good shot at career highs in AVG and SLG.
SOUTHERN LEAGUE (AA) CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES GAME 3 THREAD (JAXX LEAD BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES 1-0) [PARACHAT] WEST TENN DIAMOND JAXX (83-56) @ JACKSONVILLE SUNS (79-61) PRINGLES PARK, 6:35 pm CDT, RADIO: Dixie 1310 WDXI TV: Internet Video Feed
The Suns took Game 2 by a score of 1-0 in a terribly umpired game to level the series. Now the Jaxx are back home, where they'll stay until this series is over and the Championship decided. Tonight Ricky Nolasco takes the ball in an absolutely pivotal game, and the teams lineup so...
The weekend is coming, the Cubs were on the losing end of the division-clincher (sort of, maybe) last night, and not even the fact that the game was called on account of rain with the tying run on-deck can excite me enough to string together a full column. Who knows, maybe Jose Macias would have gotten on, and then Mighty Jerry would have hit a game-tying grand slam, but we'll never know, will we? Anyway, on to the bullets... * I flipped on Wednesday night's game when I got home from Washington D.C. and it was the bottom of the 10th inning, and I swear to God, the first thought that went through my head was, "how are the Cubs going to blow this game?" It's sad, but what's even sadder is that they managed to do it in the very next inning by walking the leadoff batter, making the wrong throw on a sacrifice bunt, and making the wrong throw on a sacrifice fly. Van Buren, Hill, and Hairston thus add themselves to the long, long list of Cubs who apparently never learned the fundamentals of the game. I haven't seen a team this poor in the basics since I don't know when. By the time Sean Casey hit his inevitable bases-clearing double, I didn't have the energy to complain about why Hairston was playing so shallow. It's just demoralizing sometimes. * Since I turned on the game late, I missed Michael Barrett getting hit in the head, but it looks like he could be back in the lineup as soon as today. He appears to have avoided a concussion, which is good news. * How about that Matt Murton? It's Small Sample Size City, but it looks like maybe he can make it at the major league level. Hopefully the 100 ABs he got this year will convince Dusty to give him a shot at a full-time job next spring. Bruce Miles has some advice for Dusty on how to take credit for Murton's success. * If you want to read Paul Sullivan's version of the exact same notes that are in Mike Kiley's piece, it's right here. Kiley does scoop Sullivan on the whole "Nomar and Mia are class acts" story, but other than that it seems like the beat reporters' seasons are winding down, too. * Former TCRer Derek Smart writes about What Went Wrong this year over at Baseball Anaylsts. Good stuff. We'll have our own versions up in the next few weeks. * Predicted Cardinals line-up for today's post-clinch game: CF: So Taguchi 2B: Hector Luna 1B: Chris Duncan LF: Reggie Sanders 3B: Scott Seabol RF: John Mabry SS: Abraham Nunez C: Mike Mahoney [UPDATE 2:00 PM] GAME 148 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (94-54) @ CHICAGO CUBS (72-75) WRIGLEY FIELD, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: WGN, Fox Sports Ohio
Glendon Rusch, LHP
6-8, 4.62 ERA
99/49 K/BB, 11 HR in 126.2 IP
Matt Morris, RHP
14-8, 4.04 ERA
104/30 K/BB, 17 HR in 171.2 IP
SS David Eckstein LF 3rd Generation Mediocrity
CF * Jim Edmonds SS #I Control Dusty's Brain
1B Albert Pujols 1B M.V.P.
RF Reggie Sanders RF *Shows Up, Hits, Goes Home
2B Mark Grudzielanek 3B Will Play Third For Pennant
RF So Taguchi 2B *I Left Boston For This?
C Yadier Molina CF *0-4, 4 K
3B Hector Luna C Perfectly Adequate Backup
P Matt Morris P *Just a Swingman
LaRussa is playing a whole lot more veterans than I thought he would. Unfortunately, so is Dusty.
SOUTHERN LEAGUE (AA) CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES GAME 2 THREAD (JAXX LEAD BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES 1-0) [PARACHAT] WEST TENN DIAMOND JAXX (83-56) @ JACKSONVILLE SUNS (79-61) THE BASEBALL GROUNDS, 6:05 pm CDT, RADIO: Dixie 1310 WDXI TV: Internet Video Feed
The Jaxx connected twice yesterday, which is worthy of mention not just because it leads to silly titles such as the above, but also because the Baseball Grounds in Jacksonville is one of the most pitcher-friendly in all of baseball, with most of the outfield between left-centre and right-centre well over 375 feet from the plate. Anyway, the Jaxx won't have to put up with too many enormous cans of corn, because after tonight's game they'll head back home to Jackson, West Tennessee, where the series will be decided once tomorrow's off-day is out of the way.
The West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx opened their first Southern League Championship Series in four years last night, and I missed it, because the scheduling change slipped my mind. But at least the Jaxx won (recap, box, play-by-play), and how! With the recent promotions of Felix Hernandez, Francisco Liriano and Matt Cain to the big leagues, yesterday's starter for the Jacksonville Suns, Chad Billingsley, is most probably the best pitching prospect in the minors right now. He throws a lively fastball anywhere from 93 to 97 and has superb secondary stuff in the shape of his plus-plus slider and hard curveball. In his last seven starts prior to yesterday's contest, Billingsley had a 46.2 IP, 17 H, 3 HR, 15 BB, 46 K, 0.96 ERA line, and if 17 hits allowed in his last 46.2 innings pitched wasn't ridiculous enough, try 12 in his last 40.2. Or 0 in his last 7, for it was only last Thursday that Billingsley combined with reliever Jonathon Broxton to pitch a no-hitter, in the process picking up his sixth consecutive win. All in all, I think it's fair to say that the kid, for he's only 21, was on a roll. And did it bother our Jaxx one bit? Well, let's just say that...
GAME 145 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CINCINNATI REDS (67-76) @ CHICAGO CUBS (71-73) WRIGLEY FIELD, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: WGN, Fox Sports Ohio
Carlos Zambrano, RHP
13-5, 3.18 ERA
180/78 K/BB, 15 HR in 195.0 IP
Eric Milton, LHP
7-14, 6.63 ERA
111/47 K/BB, 39 HR in 165.2 IP
2B Ryan Freel CF Jerry Hairston Jr.
SS #Felipe Lopez 2B *Todd Walker
LF *Adam Dunn 1B Derrek Lee
CF Wily Mo Pena 3B Nomar Garciaparra
1B *Sean Casey RF *Jeromy Burnitz
C Jason LaRue C Michael Barrett
3B Edwin Encarnacion LF Matt Murton
RF Chris Denorfia SS #Neifi Perez
P *Eric Milton P #Carlos Zambrano
Just kidding about the title, we can hopefully agree that this is about the best lineup we can hope for with the current Cubs personnel. Don't forget to listen in on the Jaxx quest for the Southern League championship. It's currently 4-2 Jaxx in the top of the second, 3 of the runs coming in on a Brandon Sing homer off Dodger uber-prospect Chad Billingsley. Jae-kuk Ryu is going for the Jaxx. Go Cubs!!!
GAME 144 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CINCINNATI REDS (66-76) @ CHICAGO CUBS (71-72) WRIGLEY FIELD, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: CSN
Greg Maddux, RHP
12-11, 4.28 ERA
116/32 K/BB, 24 HR in 189.1 IP
Aaron Harang, RHP
9-12, 3.60 ERA
146/50 K/BB, 16 HR in 185.0 IP
2B Ryan Freel CF Jerry Hairston Jr.
SS #Felipe Lopez SS #Neifi Perez
2B Rich Aurilia. 1B Derrek Lee
LF *Adam Dunn 3B Nomar Garciaparra
1B *Sean Casey 2B *Todd Walker
RF Austin Kearns RF #Jose Macias
C #Javier Valentin LF Matt Murton
CF Wily Mo Pena C Henry Blanco
P Aaron Harang P Greg Maddux
As I pointed out in this week's organizational report, Maddux has 4 more chances to win 3 games and they may skip someone else's start so that he gets 5 more chances. I'm not sure how I feel about that, forcing your way to a record doesn't seem like the right way to go about things, on the other hand skipping what most likely will be a Glendon Rusch start, doesn't mean anything to me either. What's worse, Macias starting, or Macias hitting ahead of Murton? Tough call... The Cubs march on.... Go Cubs!!!
West Tennessee's MVP shortstop Ryan Theriot has been called up for today's game, a move necessitated by Ronny Cedeno breaking his left hand on Saturday, being most probably out for what's left of the season, and therefore leaving the Cubs light up the middle. Due to expanded rosters, Cedeno avoids the disabled list, but Kerry Wood has been shifted to the 60-day DL to make room for Theriot on the 40-man roster. Daytona infielder Carlos Rojas will replace Theriot in the Jaxx's championship series versus the Jacksonville Suns, which now begins on Tuesday rather than Wednesday after a scheduling change. Congratulations to Theriot, but wouldn't you hate to leave your team when they're on the brink of a championsip, even if it's just the Southern League? And why do we need him with the big club? Neifi will play shortstop, Walker plays second and the combination of Hairston, Macias and Nomar can back all those positions up. It seems pointless, especially when you have Mike Fontentot already on the 40 man roster. I suppose there's a reason behind this and it might actually be good, but quite a blow to the Jaxx and their championship aspirations. As for Theriot's skills, he's been considered an absolute defenseive wizard through his years with the farm system and a lightweight with the bat. That is until this year, when he scrapped switch-hitting and went to hitting exclusively from the right side. He's way old to be considered a prospect (he'll turn 26 in December), but he did hit a robust .304/.365/.391, stealing 24 bases in 34 attempts with 45 walks to 38 strikeouts.
I had a chance to go to Saturday's game at SBC Park, what will most likely be my only chance to see the Cubbies up close this year. Here's a few things I noticed, pardon my bullet pointing: - Did the insane thing of driving up from L.A. to San Francisco for the day(and then back). Don't ask why, but I have my reasons, none of them were all that comforting when I was up at 4:00 am though. I made the trip with a pal of mine who's never been to SBC park and then introduced me to the Carl's Jr. breakfast burger, which we affectionately named "Death on a Bun". Not only does it include hash brown nuggets on the burger, they throw an extra dose of hash browns as a side order, for an extra cost you can purchase a defibrillator.
Abbreviated organizational report this week since the minors league seasons are over except for the AA Jaxx. I'll get a post up with the final minor league numbers in the next few weeks. For more info on the Cubs' minor league system, check out Rudy Kamman, writing at Road to Wrigley. Team Records updated through 9/12/05
Organizational Records
TeamW-LGB/Pos.Last 10
Chicago Cubs71-72(Div)19.5/3rd
(WC)5.5/5th
8-2
Iowa Cubs64-758.5/4th3-7
West Tenn Diamond Jaxx*39-31
83-56
0.0/1st5-5
Daytona Cubs34-34
69-66
4.0/5th6-4
Peoria Chiefs33-37
68-72
4.5/6th5-5
Boise Hawks34-423.0/3rd5-5
AZL Cubs9-19
19-37
9.0/9th4-6
Cubs Ex W/L: 72-71; (2003) 76-67; (2004) 79-64 * West Tennessee swept their first round series over the Carolina Mudcats and face the Jacksonville Suns for the Southern League championship starting on Tuesday, September 13th.
By virtue of an 11-2 rout (recap, boxscore, play-by-play), the Cubs beat the Marlins in the playoffs. Or, to be more precise, they swept the Marlins in the playoffs. And Dusty Baker was nowhere to be seen. No, I'm not day-dreaming about October 2003 and what could have been, but rather I'm talking about the Cubs' Double-A affiliate, the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, who yesterday completed their three-game sweep of their Marlins' counterpart, the Carolina Mudcats. They'll now progress to the Southern League Championship Series for the first time since 2000, where, starting Wednesday, they'll take on either the Jacksonville Suns (Dodgers) or the Birmingham Barons (White Sox) in another best-of-five series [Update: Suns it is, they completed their own sweep of the Barons on Saturday].
GAME 142 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (69-72) @ SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (64-76) SBC PARK, 9:15 pm CDT, TV: CSN, KTVU
Brad Hennessey, RHP
4-6, 4.96 ERA
51/42 K/BB, 13 HR in 89.0 IP
Mark Prior, RHP
10-5, 3.69 ERA
160/47 K/BB, 23 HR in 144.0 IP
CF *Corey Patterson CF #Randy Winn
LF Jerry Hairston SS #Omar Vizquel
1B Derrek Lee 1B *J.T. Snow
RF *Jeromy Burnitz LF Moises Alou
3B Scott McClain 2B #Ray Durham
2B #Todd Walker 3B Pedro Feliz
SS Ronny Cedeno RF #Dave Ortmeier
C Henry Blanco C Yamid Haad
P Mark Prior P Brad Hennessey
How about that Matt Cain last night? I fell asleep right after Derrek Lee's home run (I'm old), and apparently I didn't miss much else besides a sterling pitching performance from the 20-year-old Cain. The Giants still apparently think they're in the NL West race. They're seven games behind the Padres (the Cubs are closer than that to the wildcard lead), but the Giants announcers, the excellent Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow, kept talking about what the Giants needed to do to catch San Diego. Why is it that I didn't think that was crazy, the way I would if Bob & Len were saying it? The Cubs are going to miss the reactivation of Barry Bonds -- it looks like he'll come back tomorrow, once the Cubs re on their way back home. What, exactly, did Corey Patterson do to deserve the leadoff spot? Was it getting picked off on Thurday? Is it the 2-for-15 he's currently on? Maybe it's the fact that he's hitting 177/217/291 since his recall, or 153/196/260 since June 21st. It must be something...
SOUTHERN LEAGUE (AA) NORTHERN DIVISION PLAYOFFS GAME 3 THREAD (JAXX LEAD BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES 2-0) [PARACHAT] CAROLINA MUDCATS (77-57) @ WEST TENN DIAMOND JAXX (83-56) PRINGLES PARK, 5:05 pm CDT, RADIO: Dixie 1310 WDXI
After winning last night's game 2-1 in the ninth (recap, boxscore, play-by-play) to take a 2-0 series lead, the residents of West Tennessee have their brooms out tonight as the Jaxx look to go sweeping. Ricky Nolasco was simply outstanding yesterday, pitching eight scoreless frames. Though he had just the two innings in which he kept the bases clean, and a number of runners got themselves into scoring position, Nolasco immediately slammed the door shut every time, dialling his sinking fastball up to a very impressive 94mph in the late innings and inducing huge strikeouts with his excellent "Uncle Charlie" (or curveball, to you and me). 8 innings, 6 hits, 2 walks and a hit by pitch, 11 strikeouts, and, most importantly, 0 runs. Impressive.
GAME 141 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (69-71) @ SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (63-76) SBC PARK, 9:15 pm CDT, TV: CSN, KTVU
Matt Cain, RHP
1-1, 2.25 ERA
6/5 K/BB, 1 HR in 12.0 IP
Jerome Williams, RHP
5-7, 4.77 ERA
56/36 K/BB, 12 HR in 88.2 IP
LF Jerry Hairston Jr. CF #Randy Winn
SS #Neifi Perez SS #Omar Vizquel
1B Derrek Lee 1B *J.T. Snow
RF *Jeromy Burnitz LF Moises Alou
3B Nomar Garciaparra 2B #Ray Durham
2B #Todd Walker 3B Pedro Feliz
C Michael Barrett RF #Dave Ortmeier
CF *Corey Patterson C Mike Matheny
P Jerome Williams P Matt Cain
Jerome Williams gets a chance to pitch at his old haunt, while attempting to gain enough Dusty points to keep him in mind for next year's rotation. For the Giants, it's one of their top propsects, 20-year-old Matt Cain on the mound. The Giants 1st round pick in 2002, his ascent through the system has been swift and for the most part justifiable. After putting up a respectable season in AA ball at age 19 last year (6-4, 3.35 ERA,40 BB, 72 K, 7 HR, 86.0 IP), he followed it with an average year at AAA Fresno (10-5, 4.39 ERA, 73 BB, 176 K, 22 HR, 145.2 IP). Considering he won't reach his 21st birthday until October 1st, that's not too shabby, not to mention the PCL is certainly a hitter's league. His numbers look like the perfect candidate to be a Cub, don't they? Lots of K's, lots of walks and lots of home runs allowed. Baseball America had him rated as the Giants top prospect before the season and possessing the top curveball in the whole system. He ranked as the 13th best prospect in all of baseball as well. As for the Cubbies, the march to .500 continues, player development be damned. I'll be at the game tomorrow and with the Giants throwing out righty Brad Hennessey, it's unlikely I'll get to see both Murton and Cedeno play and potentially neither. Wouldn't mind seeing them in person. I do get to see Prior pitch which is always fun and could be made more fun if he plunked Barry Bonds right in the armguard (if he happens to play). Go Cubs and Congratulations to the Jaxx, who swept their first round series tonight with an 11-2 thrashing of the Carolina Mudcats!!!
SOUTHERN LEAGUE (AA) NORTHERN DIVISION PLAYOFFS GAME 2 THREAD (JAXX LEAD BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES 1-0) [PARACHAT] CAROLINA MUDCATS (77-57) @ WEST TENN DIAMOND JAXX (83-56) PRINGLES PARK, 6:35 pm CDT, RADIO: Dixie 1310 WDXI
The Jaxx made a good start to the Southern League playoffs last night, winning the opening game of the series 3-0 (recap, boxscore, play-by-play) on the back of Renyel Pinto's fine pitching and multi-hit games from Eric Patterson, Casey McGehee, Brandon Sing and Jose Reyes, who is not the Mets' shortstop. Last season Renyel Pinto won the Southern League Pitcher of the Year title, but this year it was not to be. Why's that? Because, keeping it in the family, it was tonight's Jaxx starter, Ricky Nolasco, that took home the prize, leaving poor Pinto this year had to settle just for being named the best left-hander in the league. Yes, indeed, it would seem that the Jaxx have orchestrated something of a monopoly over the pitching prizes.
GAME 140 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (68-71) @ SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (63-75) SBC PARK, 9:15 pm CDT, TV: WGN, Fox Sports Bay Area
Noah Lowry, LHP
12-11, 3.71 ERA
153/67 K/BB, 18 HR in 174.2IP
Carlos Zambrano, RHP
12-5, 3.16 ERA
174/75 K/BB, 14 HR in 188.0 IP
CF Jerry Hairston Jr CF #Randy Winn
SS Ronny Cedeno SS #Omar Vizquel
1B Derrek Lee 1B *J.T. Snnow
3B Nomar Garciaparra LF Moises Alou
C Michael Barrett 2B #Ray Durham
RF *Jeromy Burnitz 3B Edgardo Alfonzo
2B #Neifi Perez RF #Todd Linden
LF Matt Murton C Mike Matheny
P #Carlos Zambrano P Noah Lowry
On June 22nd, Carlos Zambrano gave up eight runs in two and two-thirds innings to the Milwaukee Brewers. It was his 15th start of the year and he's had 13 starts since that ill-fated game. As of June 22nd: 4-4, 4.27 ERA, 8.5 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, .97 HR/9 Since June 23rd: 8-1, 2.08 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, .38 HR/9 On the opposing mound, will be crafty left-hander Noah Lowry, who was just named the pitcher of the month for August. Does he have an equally defining turning point to his season? Well it looks like the Brewers once again inspired a pitcher to greatness. Lowry gave up four runs in five and a third innings on July 31st to the Brew Crew. As of July 31st: 6-11, 4.48 ERA, 7.8 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 1.18 HR/9 (22 starts) Since August 1st: 6-0, 1.19 ERA, 7.9 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, .20 HR/9 (6 starts) I'm going to guess that August was the exception to an otherweise mediocre season. The one thing the above comparision does tell us is that major league pitchers get pretty fired up when they get trounced by the Brewers. Barry Bonds may return later in the series, and I have plans to see the game on Saturday (Prior vs. Hennessy). Could hurt my ability to secure some cheap tickets. Fiddlesticks!!! Hey, a sweep and we're above .500. It could happen, no, really, mathematically it could happen. Go Cubs!!!
SOUTHERN LEAGUE (AA) NORTHERN DIVISION PLAYOFFS GAME 1, IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CAROLINA MUDCATS (77-57) @ WEST TENN DIAMOND JAXX (83-56) PRINGLES PARK, 6:35 pm CDT, RADIO: WDXI
It's not all doom and gloom in the Cubs' system. No, the team's Double-A affiliate, the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, have qualified for the postseason by virtue of winning both the first and second halves of the season in the Northern Division of the Southern League! Today, the Jaxx commence a best-of-five series against their biggest rivals this season, the Carolina Mudcats, a Florida Marlins affiliate, and given that the Cubs aren't giving us much to cheer about at the Major League level, why shouldn't we revel in the fact that the Jaxx have enjoyed a terrific year? It's pure escapism!
GAME 139 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (67-71) @ ST LOUIS CARDINALS (88-51) BUSCH STADIUM, 7:10 pm CDT, TV: CSN, FSMW
Mark Mulder, LHP
15-6, 3.62 ERA
96/59 K/BB, 16 HR in 176.1IP
Greg Maddux, RHP
11-11, 4.41 ERA
112/30 K/BB, 24 HR in 183.2 IP
CF Jerry Hairston Jr SS David Eckstein
SS Ronny Cedeno 3B *Abraham Nunez
1B Derrek Lee 1B Albert Pujols
3B Nomar Garciaparra CF *Jim Edmonds
C Michael Barrett RF *John Mabry
RF *Jeromy Burnitz LF So Taguchi
2B #Neifi Perez C Yadier Molina
LF Matt Murton 2B Hector Luna
P Greg Maddux P Mark Mulder
Maddux should have 5 more chances to win 4 more games to keep his 15 wins a season streak alive. Assuming the Cubs keep a 5 man rotation and don't skip any starts, here's Maddux's slate for the rest of the year. Tonight 09/07 @STLC 9/12 vs. Cincy 9/17 vs. STLC 9/23 vs Houston 9/29 @ Houston Pre ASB #'s: 2004: 7-7 4.51 ERA/18 BB/77 K/20 HR/112.2 IP 2005: 8-6 4.67 ERA/20 BB/72 K/16 HR/115.2 IP Post ASB #'s: 2004: 9-4 3.48 ERA/15 BB/74 K/15 HR/101.0 IP 2005: 3-5 3.97 ERA/10 BB/40 K/8 HR/68.0 IP He should surpass his innings mark tonight to get his contract to vest for next season as well. It would be real nice if he helped knock the Astros out of the playoffs to keep the streak alive. The Cubs trounced Mulder the only time we faced him this year in Chicago, to the tune of 7 runs in 4 innings. Murton was actually the only hitter to not get a hit that day among the starters. Maddux happened to start that game for the Cubbies as well, throwing a 101 pitch, complete game for his 9th victory of the season. This is the last game we'll all see the Cubs play at Busch Stadium and I can't say I'm the least bit sad. It's been the house of horrors for us throughout the years and there is something communistic about artificial turf (yeah I know they went to grass, but the glory days were 115 degree days in the middle of August watching Willie McGee, Vince Coleman and Ozzie Smith run all over us). A win today and the Cubs take the season series at Busch Stadium, I believe that hasn't happened since 1995(we really need a fact-checker here at TCR). It would also give them no worse than a tie for the overall season series, even with 4 games left at Wrigley before the season ends. Go Cubs, but more importantly GO JAXX!!!
On the day of the Cubs' last-ever game at the current Busch Stadium, guest writer Justin Hamm checks in with his thoughts on the stadium. He's not misty-eyed about its impending demise, that's for sure. ---------- On the Implosion of Busch Stadium Sometime in late October or early November, not long after what is no doubt going to be another insufferable playoff run by the Cardinals, a demolition crew will gather in downtown St. Louis to perform a glorious and long-overdue act. Theyíre finally going to blow the complete and holy hell out of the ballpark-size Cubby-bear trap they call Busch Stadium. Yes, Busch is the place where shortstop/defensive artiste Ozzie Smith did his best and most memorable work, and the place where Big Mac hit dinger number 62. But itís also the place where the Redbirds keep the 9 World Series and 16 NL pennant banners to which their fans allude when lording it over Cubs fans, and the place where, 18 years ago, a certain chubby seven-year old with a missing front tooth and a haircut he still insists was not a mullet caught his first-ever glimpse of live big-league action.
GAME 138 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (66-71) @ ST LOUIS CARDINALS (88-50) BUSCH STADIUM, 7:10 pm CDT, TV: WGN, FSMW
Matt Morris, RHP
14-6, 3.91 ERA
101/27 K/BB, 15 HR in 161.0 IP
Glendon Rusch, LHP
5-8, 4.83 ERA
92/47 K/BB, 11 HR in 113.2 IP
LF Jerry Hairston Jr SS David Eckstein
SS #Neifi Perez CF *Jim Edmonds
1B Derrek Lee 1B Albert Pujols
RF *Jeromy Burnitz C Yadier Molina
3B Nomar Garciaparra 2B Mark Grudzielanek
2B *Todd Walker LF So Taguchi
C Michael Barrett 3B *Abraham Nunez
CF *Corey Patterson RF Hector Luna
P *Glendon Rusch P Matt Morris
What's the point of this lineup? Whatever... If you haven't heard, Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon was fired today. Any chance we could get a managerial platoon of Lloyd and Dwigh Smith? That worked well in 1989, at least the left-field version.
The second line in the minor league records are the teams overall records. The seasons are over for Iowa, Daytona, Peoria and the Arizona Summer League. Team Records updated through 9/05/05; Individual Stats updated through 9/05/05
Organizational Records
TeamW-LGB/Pos.Last 10
Chicago Cubs66-71(Div)21.5/4th
(WC)7.0/7th
5-5
Iowa Cubs64-758.5/4th3-7
West Tenn Diamond Jaxx*39-31
83-56
0.0/1st5-5
Daytona Cubs34-34
69-66
4.0/5th6-4
Peoria Chiefs33-37
68-72
4.5/6th5-5
Boise Hawks+34-401.0/3rd6-4
AZL Cubs9-19
19-37
9.0/9th4-6
Cubs Ex W/L: 68-69; (2003) 71-66; (2004) 74-63 * West Tennessee won both halves of the North Division title of the Southern League; Their playoffs begin on Wednesday, Sept. 07 against the Carolina Mudcats in a best of 5 series. + Boise Hawks have 2 games remaining versus the Spokane Indians and must win both and have the Tri-City Dust Devils lose to the Yakima Bears to clinch the division.
For someone that crossed him earlier in the season with some unappreciated comments about playing time, Dusty Baker of late has been showing an awful lot of loyalty to Jerry Hairston Jr, and it's somewhat hard to work out just why. Hairston has become a regular in the outfield, and while that was slightly desirable earlier in the year for a lack of better options, things have since changed with the emergence of Matt Murton. Dusty, who was far too slow moving Hairston into the lineup at the expense of the ill-fated Jason Dubois and Todd Hollandsworth arrangement, is now too slow getting him back out. Jerry Hairston is a very fine utility player. He's also a very decent second baseman, though Walker is comfortably better. But there is one thing that Hairston's not, and that's an outfielder. The biggest problem really is that he plays the outfield like an infielder. As a result of spending a lifetime dealing with grounders and popups, his handling of flyballs off the bat, in terms of reads and jumps, is poor. To try and compensate for that, or perhaps because it's what he's done all his life in the infield, his initial reaction is invariably to step in. On occasions, that can help him get to shallower flies, and he's even not too bad going from side to side, for certainly Hairston can run when he stretches his legs. But anything over his head, and Hairston's original forward motion, combined with the sideways then back routes that he then takes, promises either Hairston getting his body into shapes you never knew were possible or, more often, the ball landing untouched and rolling to the wall for extra bases. Hairston also has very much a second baseman's arm, leading to players as unrenowned for their speed as Albert Pujols tagging up from first to take second on flyball outs that don't even come close to making the warning track. It's just not pretty and it's costing the Cubs a lot of runs. Then there's the issue of his bat. Hairston over the last three years has managed a .278/.355/.381 line, which is exactly bang in line with what his peripherals suggest is his natural level. That uncanny ability to get on-base should not be underestimated. That said, his complete lack of power, while not as much of a factor as long as he's stationed at second base, becomes a significant problem if he's going to play the outfield. While the average NL second baseman this year has hit .278/.340/.414, relative to which Hairston's numbers don't come out at all unfavourably (and Walker's come out extremely well), the average NL left fielder this year has hit .272/.346/.460. Those eighty points of slugging mean that Hairston's bat simply doesn't stack up in the outfield, and it never will. That and his glove ought to have the Cubs very much on the lookout for a better option in left field (and his glove ought to preclude any ideas of him playing centre field, where Burnitz would be a far better option if push came to shove). It quickly became obvious that Jason Dubois wasn't such a better option in left field, and that's why Hairston first got a job out there. Matt Murton though is a different ballplayer to Dubois, and one that Dusty needs to now be giving the playing time. We know that Hairston can do out there, and we know that it's not good enough. Murton's not a top prospect, but he has the tools - the ability to hit for average, and very advanced strike zone judgement - to fashion a solid Major League career. He's done with the minors, and he deserves his shot. Speaking of the minors, Corey really should have remained put there. Since his return from Iowa, Patterson has essentially picked up where heíd left off before his demotionÖ
GABRH2B3BHRRBIBBKAVGOBPSLGSBCS
22739131114319.178.211.26020
Itís all very well criticising Corey for such lamentable performance, and he deserves it since heís so oblivious to whatís best for him, but the Cubs apparently donít know any better, and thatís the greater crime. It was essential that Corey stayed at Iowa until heíd learnt the necessary new hitting processes - recognising balls and strikes, being more selective, laying off the high fastball, going the other way and not pulling everything, and so on ñ and not only learnt them, but had them stick so tight that he wouldnít ever be able to shake them off again if he tried. The new processes needed to become second-nature. They also needed to yield results, the kind of results thatíd make even Corey sit up, take notice and once again have confidence in his own ability, a real and unflappable self-belief. Only then would he once again be ready for the big time. When Corey was recalled he was nowhere near that point. As a result, the Corey we see now is no different to the one that was dispatched to Iowa in July with his tail between his legs. He can still run, he can still field and he can still throw, but at the plate heís a man convinced of his swing and miss fate before the pitcherís even come set. Baseball is a game of failure, but Corey has become enveloped and overwhelmed by his failings. For Corey then, the best thing now would be to not play another game all year, to not see another game all year, to not think about another game all year, to become as removed from the game of baseball as possible. Extradition to England for five months at the Cubsí expense with immediate effect could do the trick. Then, come January, say, let the overhaul of his game begin once again, and let it not be interrupted until itís complete. Thereís no guarantee itíll ever be completed, that itíll ever work, but itís increasingly looking like the only chance he has right now of a worthwhile Major League career. Heck, right now, Iíd almost rather have Hairston in centre field. Better yet, let Adam Greenberg build on his 1.000 career OBP in the big leagues. Or, if you want him to enjoy the Southern League playoffs, call up Calvin Murray. Or Ben Grieve to play right, and shift Burnitz to centre. I don't care, just do something.
GAME 137 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (66-70) @ ST LOUIS CARDINALS (87-50) BUSCH STADIUM, 1:15 pm CDT, TV: WGN, FSMW
Fifteen of the Cubs' last twenty-seven games are against either the St Louis Cardinals or the Houston Astros, for there was supposed to be a big three horse race down the stretch. But none of the teams have kept their end of the bargain. The Cubs fell out of things far too soon, and the Astros have had serious problems scoring runs. The Cardinals, meanwhile, just picked up where they left off last year, and ran away with the division before the others had even noticed it was gone. What the Cardinals have done so far this year is remarkable. This is a team that's been without Scott Rolen, Reggie Sanders, Larry Walker and Yadier Molina for large chunks of the season, that's had to weather the decline of Jim Edmonds, and that was thoroughly ripped off in the Mark Mulder trade. And yet, regardless, they've put the excuses aside, and have simply got on with the business of winning, day in and day out. As much as I hate to say, I wish our Cubs were more like these Cards.
GAME 136 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (65-70) @ PITTSBURGH PIRATES (55-80) PNC PARK, 12:35 pm CDT, TV: WGN
Once again, Dusty has decided that in pursuit of the division title the wild card a winning record the right to pick first in next year's amateur draft, Ronny Cedeno and Matt Murton get in the way. Or rather, to quote the official line, they'll learn more from sitting on the bench watching Neifi Perez slap at the ball and Jerry Hairston turn every single flyball, routine or otherwise, into an adventure in body contortion...
I feel completely cut-off from what's happening in the U.S., but thanks to the Internet I can sort of follow the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and it's absolutely heartwrenching. Private relief organizations are struggling to provide the most basic necessities (food, water and shelter) to the residents of Louisiana and Mississippi whose lives have been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. If you would like to help by donating your money or your time, here is a list of relief organizations to contact: American Red Cross", 800-435-7669 Operation Blessing International, 800-436-6348 America's Second Harvest, 800-344-8070 -- Food Bank Catholic Charities USA, 703-549-1390 Lutheran Disaster Response, 800-638-3522 Mennonite Disaster Service, 717-859-2210 -- The Mennonites were especially helpful in my area after the Cedar Fire Salvation Army, 800-725-2769 If you have the ability to open your home to hurricane evacuees, contact MoveOn.org's Hurricanhousing.org.
Today's piece was written by Don Nelson (twinscubsfandon) and he has been a practicing Cubs fan since 1969. He lives in suburban Chicago and frequently talks about starting his own blog, which, he notes, requires a lot less energy and commitment than actually doing it. He works in advertising and carries a 1970 Don Kessinger baseball card in his briefcase. The beauty of having your favorite baseball teamís season reach a virtual end before its actual end is that you can get a head start on your season retrospective. (ì2005: A Kansas City Royals Year In Reviewî could have been penned in mid-May.) When I look back on the Cubs season, one of the more noteworthy events, I think, was the Red Soxí visit to Wrigley back in June. Youíll recall that series offered a satisfying result (two Cub wins out of three), the proverbial ìplayoff atmosphere,î and a lot of media blather about how the two franchises simply belonged on the same field.
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