September 2005

Operation Spoiler, Phase 2

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.

4 and Counting

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.

Fall Instructional League

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

Back Home

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...

Jaxx Jacks in Jacksonville

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.

Big Billing, Small Performance

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...

Theriot Called Up

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.

Observations from the Ballpark

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.

Cubs Organizational Report Week 23

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.

Sing When You’re Winning

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].

Brooming Marvellous

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.

Back-to-Back Jaxx

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.

Giant Killers

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

Cubs Playoff Baseball, Kind Of!

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!

Streaking

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

Anywhere But Busch

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.

Cubs Organizational Report Week 22

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.

Hairy Predicaments

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.

Laughing at the Schedulers

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.

Sweeping Those Pesky Kids Under the Carpet

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...

Hurricane Katrina: How You Can Help

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

Red With Envy

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.