April 2006

GAME 22 REVIEW
BREWERS 16, CUBS 2 W: Doug Davis (1-2) L: Glendon Rusch (1-4) Gameday | Box Score
I have very little to say about this game. When the search for good news points to Mike Restovich's first hit as a Chicago Cub, it's time to go home. Dusty Baker is making noise about taking Rusch out of the rotation, and i don't think there's anyone who would argue against that right now. Except, of course, there is the question of who would replace him -- Rich Hill, I suppose, or possibly the return of Jerome Williams, neither of whom fill me with delight, but either of whom would be better than Rusch is. Today's game looks like it isn't going to happen, at least not on time. I'm currently sitting in the Indianapolis airport, and my flight to O'Hare is delayed, as is my flight out of O'Hare. If the game does happen, there's a good chance we'll fly right over Wrigley Field (the flight path to Harrisburg does that most of the time) so I'll make sure to wave. UPDATE 2:05 PM: I'm still on the ground at O'Hare thanks to mechanical problems, but it looks like they're playing at Wrigley. Win #1 from Big Z would make my bad travel day, which is keeping me away from the No Longer Tiny Baby, a little easier to take.
GAME TWENTY-TWO IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] MILWAUKEE BREWERS (12-11, 4.0 GB, 5th) AT CHICAGO CUBS (13-8, 2.0 GB, 4th) WRIGLEY FIELD, 1:20 CDT Weather: 59 degrees, overcast, wind 12 mph left to right TV: WGN, DirecTV 746 Radio: WGN, XM 185
Glendon Rusch, LHP 1-3, 6.41 ERA, 19 2/3 IP 14 K, 8 BB, 7 HRDoug Davis, LHP 0-2, 7.66 ERA, 24 2/3 IP 20 K, 21 BB, 3 HR
Rickie Weeks, 2B JJ Hardy, SS Geoff Jenkins, RF Carlos Lee, LF *Prince Fielder, 1B Bill Hall, 3B Damian Miller, C Brady Clark, CF Doug Davis, SP*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF *Jacque Jones, RF Jerry Hairston, 2B Henry Blanco, C *Glendon Rusch, SP

It is nice of the Brewers to send out a pitcher pitching worse than Glendon Rusch against the Cubs today. 21 walks in 24 2/3 innings? That is rough. Seeing how the Cubs are tied for last in the NL in walks taken, though, it might not be that big of a deal. The Tony Clark rumors continue to gain steam. I think he would be a nice pickup for a the Cubs, a guy who could fill in while Lee is out and then move to a pinch-hitting role for the rest of the season. As far as other candidates are concerned, I was at the Indy Indians-Columbus Clippers game last night and was excited to see that Carlos Pena was in the lineup for the Clippers. I thought he might be a decent dark-horse candidate for the Cubs -- cheap to get and might put up some decent numbers -- but I saw nothing from him that made he think he was ready for the big leagues right now. So, scratch that and let's hope Jim Hendry can put something together to get Clark. The Cubs are humming along nicely with significant pieces of their team missing. They're doing it with pitching (4th best ERA in the NL), not hitting (2nd worst OPS in the NL), and it would be nice to pick up a decent bat to guard against a day when Walker and Cedeno will no longer be hitting in the mid-.300s. Hey, if you're in Indanapolis, Montreal, Denver, or Fort Myers (random, huh?) turn on your radio in about an hour to hear me chat with Will Carroll on the second hour of Baseball Prospectus Radio. Yes, the second hour, otherwise known as "the hour they don't podcast." I'll have them record it for me, though, and if I manage to say anything remotely interesting I'll have it posted on TCR later this week.
GAME 21 REVIEW
CUBS 6 BREWERS 2 W: Greg Maddux (5-0) L: Dave Bush (2-2) Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play
Greg Maddux goes to a MLB-leading 5-0 and wins the 323rd game of his career, leaving him just one win behind Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton for 13th on the all-time win list, as the Cubs (13-8) beat the Brewers (12-11) 6-2 at Wrigley Field Friday afternoon. With Wood, Prior, and Miller out until... whenever, having Greg Maddux get off to what is probably the best start of his career really hits the spot. And I'll have another one, thank you. I guess it wasn't the best Greg Maddux performance you'll ever see, as he struggled with his command at times. But still, Maddux at less than his best is better than Glendon Rusch (who was skipped to allow Maddux to get the start), so it was plenty good enough for me and I'm happy. It was nice to see Jacque Jones do what he does best, and that is crush RHP. An RBI double and a solo HR (his 4th of the season) to left-center plus a single thrown in for good measure equals a 3-4 day for Jonesy. He also got his batting average up to a more respectable .231. Ronny Cedeno had three more hits, including a two-run home run and a bunt single, and Matt Murton contributed an RBI double. Juan Pierre had two hits and scored two runs, and Todd Walker was on base three times. And even Henry Blanco got a hit. Almost lost in the glow of Maddux's 5th victory of the season and career win number 323 were the three no-hit shutout innings (1 HBP, 1 BB, and 6 K) by the Cub bullpen (Howry to Eyre to Williamson), with Eyre striking out the side in the 8th and Williamson striking out the side in the 9th. The Cubs bullpen is pretty good. MLB ALL-TIME WINS: 1. Cy Young - 511 2. Walter Johnson - 417 3T. Grover Cleveland Alexander - 373 3T. Christy Mathewson - 373 5. Warren Spahn - 363 6. Pud Galvin - 361 7. Kid Nichols - 360 8T. Tim Keefe - 341 8T. Roger Clemens - 341 10. Steve Carlton - 329 11. John Clarkson - 327 12. Eddie Plank - 326 13T. Nolan Ryan - 324 13T. Don Sutton - 324 15. Greg Maddux - 323
GAME TWENTY-ONE IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] MILWAUKEE BREWERS (12-10, 3.5 GB, 5th) AT CHICAGO CUBS (12-8, 2.5 GB, 4th) WRIGLEY FIELD, 1:20 CDT Weather: 64 degrees, sunny TV: WGN, DirecTV 746 Radio: WGN, XM 185
Greg Maddux, RHP 4-0, 0.99 ERA, 27.1 IP &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp 18 K, 5 BB, 1 HRDave Bush 2-1, 3.54 ERA, 28 IP 23 K, 6 BB, 2 HR
Rickie Weeks, 2B JJ Hardy, SS Geoff Jenkins, RF Carlos Lee, LF *Prince Fielder, 1B *Corey Koskie, 3B Damien Miller, C Brady Clark, CF Dave Bush, SP*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF *Jacque Jones, RF #Neifi Perez, 2B Henry Blanco, C Greg Maddux, SP

The powers-that-be here are all going to be away from their computers all day, so this will have to do as a preview. Greg Maddux goes for victory number five in the month of April. To say the least, he's been pretty good so far this year. His biggest problem of the last few seasons has been giving up an absurd amount of home runs, a problem which so far has been rectified, only one long ball to date and that was to Jim Edmonds in a game that was already in hand. And I wouldn't be too surprised if Maddux served that one up to set up Edmonds later down the road, a devilish trick he's been known to play on opposing lineups. The Brewers are the "sleeper" pick of choice this year for a playoff run whether by division or wild card. After finally finishing a season at the .500 mark, Doug Melvin and the Brewers braintrust have assembled a fine team on a modest budget with uber-prospects Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy and Prince Fielder already making contributions. Even the man on the mound, David Bush, was quite the coup in the Lyle Overbay trade(in my honest opinion) and if those peripherals stay in that range, he'll be a thorn in the Cubs side for years to come. I still think they're a year away from truly contending from the playoffs, but a run of good luck for them and bad luck for the rest of the NL Central and I definitly see them fighting for playoff glory in September. More than anything, they seem to be our nemesis along with the Reds the last two seasons, so expect some hard fought battles. GO CUBS!!! Hanley Ramirez, SS #Alfredo Amezaga, CF Miguel Cabrera, 3B Josh Willingham, LF *Mike Jacobs, 1B Dan Uggla, 2B Chris Aguila, RF Matt Treanor, C &nbsp&nbsp * Scott Olsen, P*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B *Jacque Jones, RF Henry Blanco, C Angel Guzman, P
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Here are the team-by-team start breakdowns for the entire Cubs sytem again, including the major league team. What other information would you like to see in a report like this? CHICAGO CUBS C: Michael Barrett 15, Henry Blanco 5 1B: Derrek Lee 14, Todd Walker 5, John Mabry 1 2B: Todd Walker 11, Jerry Hairston 6, Neifi Perez 3 3B: Aramis Ramirez 18, Neifi Perez 2 SS: Ronny Cedeno 19, Neifi Perez 1 LF: Matt Murton 19, John Mabry 1 CF: Juan Pierre 20 RF: Jacque Jones 15, Angel Pagan 3, Freddie Bynum 1, John Mabry 1 SP: Carlos Zambrano 5, Glendon Rusch 4, Greg Maddux 4, Sean Marshall 4, Jerome Williams 2, Angel Guzman 1
GAME 20 REVIEW
MARLINS 7 CUBS 5 W: Ricky Nolasco (1-0) L: Scott Williamson (2-1) SV: Joe Borowski (3) Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart| Photos
Top of the 8th, bases loaded, one out, Baker calls for Howry and double-switches with the guy who made the last out, Jacque Jones(pretty good defender) with John Mabry(not so good defender). The next hitter hits a flyball toward the right foul line which Mabry appeared to lose in the sun (not wearing any sunglasses) and the ball drops in for a double, 2 runs score and another run scores on the ensuing sac fly. Howry then does NOT come out for the ninth inning, which you would think would be the point of the double-switch, since you could have just pinch-hit Mabry for Howry if Howry wasn't going to pitch the ninth. In betwen, the Cubs score 2 runs in the bottom of the eight (thanks to Fish-Killer Matt Murton's 2 out, 2 RBI single) that would have given them the lead. This is how manager's can lose games for teams. Should Mabry have caught the ball? Absolutely. Should Williamson not have loaded the bases? You bet. Was there any reason to double switch at that point? Not a single one; at least not a good one. A stinging loss as the rest of the NL Central wins (again), sans Houston who plays the Dodgers tonight (and Pittsburgh but they don't really count). Angel Guzman looked the part of his first major league start. Occasionally wild, often filthy, squeezed a bit by the umpire, but good enough to last 5 innings with only 3 runs against. 2 of those runs off a Josh Willingham homer that was hit off a curveball well below the zone that Willingham just lifted into left field and the wind helped out a bit. A solid, if not spectacular debut by Guzman. Personally, I thought it looked a little better than Marshall's debut although the level of competition paled in comparision. No way to go into an off-day, thanks Dusty!!!
GAME TWENTY IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] FLORIDA MARLINS (5-13, 7.0 GB, 5th) AT CHICAGO CUBS (12-7, 1.5 GB, 4th) WRIGLEY FIELD, 1:20 CDT Weather: 56 degrees, Sunny, Wind Blowing Out to CF @ 8 mph TV: WGN, DirecTV 745 Radio: WGN, XM 185
Angel Guzman, RHP (2006 AAA)1-2, 6.61 ERA, 16.1 IP &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp 23 K, 3 BB, 4 HRScott Olsen, LHP 1-1, 1.50 ERA, 12 IP 7 K, 8 BB, 0 HR
Hanley Ramirez, SS #Alfredo Amezaga, CF Miguel Cabrera, 3B Josh Willingham, LF *Mike Jacobs, 1B Dan Uggla, 2B Chris Aguila, RF Matt Treanor, C &nbsp&nbsp * Scott Olsen, P*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Matt Murton, LF Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B *Jacque Jones, RF Henry Blanco, C Angel Guzman, P

It's the much anticipated major league debut of uber-prospect Angel Guzman, who's struggled through a variety of injuries throughout his storied minor league career. His ERA doesn't look pretty from Iowa but that K rate and K/BB rate sure do. If he continutes that sparkling control along with lofty strikeout rates, it's going to make for some tough decisions when Blue Cross & Blue Shield (Jay Mariotti's line, not mine) are ready to return. He won't have quite as friendly weather conditions as Marshall did yesterday, but he still has the same pitcher friendly Marlins lineup. A word of advice kid, pitch around Miguel Cabrera if anyone is on. Jacque Jones makes another start versus a lefty, third straight in the series. Discuss. Of course, according to Dusty, you have to fail in front of his eyes first. If only we had some sort of record, maybe a shorthand that would recap the history of a players accomplishments and setbacks throughout his career, if we only had the technology. GO CUBS and good luck Guzman!!!
GAME 19 REVIEW
CUBS 3 MARLINS 1 W: Sean Marshall (2-0) L: Dontrelle Willis (1-1) SV: Ryan Dempster (6) Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart| Photos
Apparently Dontrelle had some crazy streak of never losing in April in his career. That was before he met the his lefty match, the one, the only, THE Sean Marshall. An efficient 7 inning, 96 pitch outing (AAA lineup notwithstanding) and Marshall comes away with his 2nd victory of the season while Willis's streak ends. I only listened to the game on XM radio, but I'm guessing the chilly weather and the fierce wind blowing in helped suppress the score. The Cubs adapted to the weather well though, executing "small ball" to perfection. After an Aramis Ramirez walk, #5 hitter Michael Barrett sacrificed Ramirez over and "Marlin-killer" Matt Murton brought him in with a single. In the 7th, the Cubs added 2 more runs after a Barrett double (in which he jammed a finger sliding into second, luckily he was scheduled for a day off tomorrow), another RBI hit by Murton (this time a double), a sac bunt by Jacque Jones (at least he can do something against lefties) and the most exciting play in baseball, a suicide squeeze dropped down by Jerry Hairston, that was good enough to not only score Murton from third but Hairston was safe at first(later to be picked off by Willis). Howry gave up his 2nd run of the season in a rocky 8th inning, which included having to face Miguel Cabrera representing the go-ahead run. Dempster though shut the door in the 9th with a 1-2-3 inning and his numbers so far this season are a Gagne-like: 10 K, 3 BB, 0 HR, 11 IP, 1.64 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, .154 BAA. Another shining example of how spring training numbers don't mean a thing. A bona fide winning streak now at three games, with the major league debut of Angel Guzman tomorrow in the sunshine. A sweep would be quite nice against these guys.
GAME NINETEEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] FLORIDA MARLINS (5-12, -6.0 GB, 5th) AT CHICAGO CUBS (11-7, - 1.5 GB, 4th) WRIGLEY FIELD, 7:05 CDT Weather: 43 degrees, Overcast, Wind Blowing In From CF @ 16 mph TV: CSN Chicago, DirecTV 739 Radio: WGN, XM 185
Sean Marshall, LHP 1-0, 6.28 ERA, 14.1 IP 8 K, 5 BB, 3 HRDontrelle Willis, LHP 1-0, 2.92 ERA, 24.2 IP 15 K, 9 BB, 0 HR
Hanley Ramirez, SS Dan Uggla, 2B Miguel Cabrera, 3B Josh Willingham, LF Wes Helms, 1B Miguel Olivo, C Chris Aguila, RF Reggie Abercrombie, CF &nbsp&nbsp * Dontrelle Willis, P*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Michael Barrett, C Matt Murton, LF *Jacque Jones, RF Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B * Sean Marshall, P

The D-Train rolls back into Wrigley for the fifth time. Want to impress your friends with small sample size goodness? Drop this one on them before gametime: Willis is 2-0 at Wrigley with a 1.01 ERA. In 27 2/3 innings, he's struck out 23 and hasn't given up a home run. Meanwhile, our young lefty (only seven months younger than Willis, actually) is being positively babied by Dusty Baker, a manager with a reputation for over-extending his young starters (when he actually plays them). And I'm not trying to re-open either the pitch-count argument or the Dusty-doesn't-play-kids argument, because I'm actually trying to draw attention to something he's doing that I agree with. Marshall has been extended in each of his starts, from 65 pitches to 79 to 86 in his last start. I expect him in the mid-90s tonight -- now he just needs to figure out how to make those pitches stretch over more than five innings. Is it too early for scoreboard watching? The Astros start their second fifth starter, Fernando Nieve, against Brad Penny & the Dodgers, while the Cardinals offer up Jeff Suppan to the Pirates and the Reds (how are they six games over .500?) try to suggest that Dave Williams is a major league starting pitcher. Good luck with that.
DC Tom alerted me to the 30th anniversary of the Monday game, and I in turn asked him to share his memories and thoughts on the game. My remarks come first, and his remarks follow. I hope you enjoy these two perspectives. Or, at least, his! Readers of this site, historically, have expressed the full range of opinions about whether and how baseball and politics mix, and how they ought to mix, if at all. My own opinion is that politics is the process of publicly contesting the proper ordering of society ñ its distribution of resources, its expression of values and priorities, and the extent and nature of persons' obligations to each other. Far from being a dirty word, or something done only in designated locations, like city hall, I see politics as virtually synonymous with social living. Baseball, which in a thousand different ways rests within a social context, is inextricably linked to politics; To me, those connections often are as subtle and intriguing as the game itself. Most of the time, however, most people donít notice these connections, and donít particularly care. It is, after all, the game itself that matters the most to the baseball fan. But occasionally, a particular connection between baseball and the wider political climate becomes the thing that truly matters. Jackie Robinson's debut with the Dodgers. Jack Buck, trembling from physical infirmity and the emotion of the moment, on September 17th, 2001. ìI have never used steroids. Period.î And thirty years ago, today, on what was the 100th anniversary of the first game the Chicago Cubs ever played, Rick Monday, Chicago Cubs center-fielder, grabbing an American flag from a man who had run onto the field in order to set the flag on fire.
GAME 18 REVIEW
CUBS 6 MARLINS 3 W: David Aardsma (1-0) L: Josh Johnson (1-2) SV: Ryan Dempster (5) Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart| Photos
So much for stability from our boy Z, just as crazy as ever, accentuated by his Bo Jackson-like breaking of a bat over his knee after striking out. In the end, he kept us in the game long enough for Josh Johnson and some suspect defense to give the Cubs the victory. Another one of those not so pretty victories, but they all count the same. Ronny two-bounced a throw to home on a double in the corner that should have had Miguel Cabrera. Then, after making a nice scoop on a bad throw by Neifi at second base, unnecessarily rushed a throw to first that pulled Walker off the bag. No harm on that one though as Z got out of the inning. Walker butchered a pop fly in the infield and Barrett then 2 hopped a throw to second base on a stolen base attempt that should have erased Walker's miscue. Once again, no harm done though. It all led up to the bottom of the eight which started off with a double by Juan Pierre and then 2 walks to Cedeno and Walker, who had been robbed by 3 fine defensive gems up to that point. Ramirez hit a high chopper to Cabrera at third base who inexplicably threw home in an attempt to nail Pierre with the all important first run for the Cubs, despite the Marlins being up 3-0. Should have went for the sure out, Mr. Cabrera. Murton had another excellent at-bat, going with a pitch up and away to right center to tie the game and then Jacque Jones finished the comeback with an opposite field 3-run shot. The chic pick for next Cubs manager Joe Girardi just left poor Josh Johnson out there to suffer, despite obviously having no control over his pitches (like the 8 BB's in 8 IP wasn't enough of a sign). Cubs go for 3 in a row tomorrow with Sean Marshall on the mound. Let's see if he can survive past inning 5 this time.
GAME EIGHTTEEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] FLORIDA MARLINS (5-11, -6.0 GB, 5th) AT CHICAGO CUBS (10-7, -2.5 GB, 4th) WRIGLEY FIELD, 6:05 CDT Weather: Clear, 68 degrees, Right to Left @ 5mph TV: ESPN, WCIU Radio: WGN, XM 185
Carlos Zambrano, RHP 0-1, 3.97 ERA, 22.2 IP 21 K, 17 BB, 4 HRJason Vargas, LHP 1-1, 7.20 ERA, 15.0 IP 9 K, 13 BB, 4 HR
Hanley Ramirez, SS Dan Uggla, 2B Miguel Cabrera, 3B Josh Willingham, LF *Mike Jacobs, 1B Chris Aguila, RF Reggie Abercrombie, CF Matt Treanor, C * Jason Vargas, P*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Michael Barrett, C Matt Murton, LF *Jacque Jones, RF #Neifi Perez, 2B # Carlos Zambrano, P

Marlins vs. Zambrano Miguel Cabrera: 2-15, 133/235/333, 1 HR, 4 KCubs vs. Vargas

Big Z goes in search for his first victory and some stability. With the current M.A.S.H. unit the Cubs are putting out there, it would be nice if we could rely on something beyond Greg Maddux. Z needs to find his All-Star form immediately and the rebuilding Marlins are prime bait. You can't put much stock in April games but winning 2 out of 3 at the very least seems essential against a team likely to be the worst in the NL when it's all said and done. I have nothing good to say about the lineup. I suppose with 3 straight lefties in the series, Jones and Neifi were bound to get starts. GO CUBS!!!
No recap on last night's game; instead let's take a moment to remind ourselves how lucky we are to be seeing Greg Maddux's late-career resurgence. An ERA of 0.99 is just silly, and wonderful. Coming up this week, the Cubs start an 8-game homestand with the Marlins and the Brewers. Most of last week's irrational exuberance left when Derrek Lee did, but those who believe in team character should expect the next few weeks to show us What This Team Is Made Of. Florida Marlins Know Your Enemy: Fishstripes, Maverickball (minors) Monday: Jason Vargas vs. Carlos Zambrano Tuesday: Dontrelle Willis vs. Sean Marshall Wednesday: Scott Olsen vs. Undecided I've seen Undecided pitch some pretty good games, and some pretty bad ones. Right now the candidates for Wednesday seem to be Angel Guzman and Rich Hill, and I'm in the Guzman camp mostly because I already know what Rich Hill can do and it isn't that impressive. Guzman might be more of the same, or he might not be, but we don't know and that's more interesting. The Cubs will face three lefties in this series, which is both unusual and potentially troubling. Dusty had Todd Walker in the lineup against Mark Mulder, but I have to assume we'll see the debut of the Mike Restovich experience at some point in this series. If it has to happen, let's hope it happens when Marshall, who is more of a flyball pitcher, is on the mound. Milwaukee Brewers Know Your Enemy: Al's Ramblings, Brewers Bar Friday: Dave Bush vs. Glendon Rusch Saturday: Doug Davis vs. Greg Maddux Sunday: Chris Capuano vs. Carlos Zambrano Looks like the Cubs will miss Ben Sheets this go-around, which is good. The Brewers are an exciting young team, which means they're likely to have more weekends like this last one, where they beat the Reds 11-0 on Saturday and then lost by the same score on Sunday. At least it's always interesting. With Kerry Wood's setback last week (he cut a simulated game short of Thursday due to "pain under his right arm"), I'm resigning myself to Rusch staying in the rotation a bit longer. Wade Miller was transferred to the 60-day DL, which means he can't come back until June 1st -- I do wonder why the Cubs chose to push him to the 60 instead of Mark Prior, who is theoretically after Miller on the comeback trail?
GAME SEVENTEEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (9-7, 4th, -2.5) AT ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (11-6, 2nd, -1.0) Busch Stadium, 1:15 PM CDT Weather: TV: WGN Radio: WGN, XM 187
Jason Marquis, RHP 3-0, 2.79 ERA, 19.1 IP 12 K, 4 BB, 1 HRGreg Maddux, RHP 3-0. 1.33 ERA, 20.1 IP 14 K, 4 BB, 1 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 2B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Michael Barrett, C *Jacque Jones, RF Matt Murton, LF #Neifi Perez, 2B Greg Maddux, PDavid Eckstein, SS Juan Encarnacion, RF Albert Pujols, 1B Scott Rolen, 3B *Jim Edmonds, CF *John Rodriguez, LF Yadier Molina, C #Aaron Miles, 2B *Jason Marquis, P

Cubs vs. Marquis Michael Barrett: 7-15, 467/529/800, 2 BB Juan Pierre: 3-15, 200/294/2002 BB,1 KCardinals vs. Maddux Albert Pujols: 10-27, 370/357/741, 3 HR, 3 K David Eckstein: 6-14, 429/429/571 Juan Encarnacion: 10-29, 345/387/483, 1HR, 1 BB Jim Edmonds: 7-28, 250/250/536, 2 HR, 5 K Scott Rolen: 15-58, 259/343/431, 2 HR, 7 BB, 10 K

This is the marquee (heh heh) pitching matchup of the day, as two of the five 3-0 NL pitchers hook up (there are also two 4-0 pitchers). Both of these guys are being extremely stingy in the earlygoing -- each of them has walked as many batters as Glendon Rusch did last night. Maddux is holding opponents to a 149/197/239 batting line, and Marquis' offensive numbers (200/200/300) are almost as good as the numbers of the batters who have faced him (214/257/314). In fact, Tony LaRussa has used Marquis as a pinch-hitter, which says as much about St. Louis' bench as it does about Marquis' batting prowess. It would be easy for the Cubs to justify a sweep at the hands of the Cardinals in the first series of the post-Lee era. I'm not going to talk about team character and junk like that -- even without Lee the Cubs have enough talent to win games -- but instead will simply say that a win today would be awfully nice, and right now there's no one besides Maddux I'd rather have on the hill. GO CUBS!!!
GAME 16 REVIEW
CUBS 1 CARDS 4 W: Sidney Ponson (2-0) L: Glendon Rusch (1-3) S: Jason Isringhausen (5) Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
I have a challenge for Dusty Baker, any other member of Cubs management, God, Deep Blue, or any other reader. Explain to me the strategic merit of the double-switches that occurred in the fifth and sixth innings. For those of you who missed it: With the game tied at one, the Cards loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth with two outs. Pujols is coming up. Dusty Baker brings in Scott Williamson. The pitcher's spot is five batters away in our lineup (Ramirez ended the previous inning.) Baker brings in Neifi Perez to replace Walker at second base, and flips the batting order. Williamson, instead of being due up fifth (the ninth spot in the order) is due up eighth (Walker's spot, the third in the order.) Williamson gives up a base hit to Pujols, giving the cards a 3-1 lead, before getting the third out. The Cubs go three up, three down, in the top of the sixth. Williamson struggles in the bottom of the sixth, getting one out, giving up one run, with a rally continuing. So Baker replaces Williamson with Scott Eyre. He also replaces Matt Murton with Freddy Bynum. Bynum is now hitting third (replacing Williamson, who replaced Walker) while Eyre is hitting seventh (replacing Murton). With the double switch, Eyre goes from being five spots away from hitting, to being nine spots away. Eyre gets the last two outs. When the Cubs bat, they get set down, 1-2-3, again. So again, the spot in the order that the pitcher was double switched out of never came to bat. Murton and Walker are now out of the game that we are losing by three runs- Walker with four offensive half-innings left in the game, Murton with three left to go. In Baker's defense, when he pulled Walker, we were tied, but the Cards had the bases loaded. When Murton is pulled, we're already losing by three. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the only reason to do a double switch when you bring in a new pitcher, is because you want that pitcher to be able to pitch the next inning as well. The switch pushes the pitcher's spot further away from batting, so that you don't have to either pinch-hit for him, or watch him flail away at the bat. So if the pitcher's spot is due up first, second, third, or even fourth, and you're quite certain that you don't want your pitcher to bat, but you DO want him to pitch the next inning, then you do the double switch. Now, I have the advantage of writing this piece after the fact, knowing that neither of these double-switches wound up serving their function, and in fact gave Bynum and Perez ABs that should have gone to Walker and Murton. But for the life of me, I can't understand that first double-switch. Why not just leave Walker in the game? If we rally in the bottom of the inning, and we get to the 9th spot in the order, Baker is then free to pinch-hit with whomever he wants - Barrett, Restovich, Hairston, or Perez - and we bring in a new reliever to a game where we've (likely) drawn closer. If we don't get to the 9th spot in the order, Williamson can pitch the next inning, and Walker can still hit. And it further removes the necessity (which isn't even a necessity, just the option) of making that second double-switch, the following inning. Am I missing something, here? Is it worth removing two of your best offensive players from a game that still has a long way to go, and from a lineup that's missing Derrek Lee, and inserting your two weakest hitters, all in order to be absolutely certain that Williamson and then Eyre could pitch the next inning without maybe having to take his turn in the batting order or be pinch-hit for? I just don't get it. Did it affect the outcome of the game? Probably not. But there has to be some sort of Hippocratic Oath for managers, obligating them to not make moves that are more likely to harm the club than to help it.
GAME SIXTEEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (9-6, 4th, -1.5) AT ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (10-6, 3rd, -1.0) Busch Stadium, 1:15 PM CDT Weather: 77 degrees, Cloudy, Wind 7 mph left to right TV: WGN, DirecTV 735 Radio: WGN, XM 187
Sydney Ponson, RHP 1-0, 3.97 ERA, 11.1 IP 5 K, 1 BB, 2 HRGlendon Rusch, LHP 1-2. 6.60 ERA, 15 IP 11 K, 4 BB, 7 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Todd Walker, 2B Aramis Ramirez, 3B *John Mabry, 1B *Jacque Jones, RF Matt Murton, LF Henry Blanco, C *Glendon Rusch, PDavid Eckstein, SS Hector Luna, 2B Albert Pujols, 1B Scott Rolen, 3B *Jim Edmonds, CF Juan Encarnacion, RF Yadier Molina, C So Taguchi, LF Sidney Ponson, P

Cubs vs. Ponson Jacque Jones: 5-26, 192/267/308, 3 BB, 5 K Todd Walker: 6-18, 333/368/389, 1 BB, 1 KCardinals vs. Rusch Albert Pujols: 13-38, 342/419/737, 3 HR, 6 2B Jim Edmonds: 13-49 265/308/327, 3 BB, 12 K Scott Rolen: 8-26, 308/455/577, 2 HR, 6 BB, 7 K Juan Encarnacion: 5-14, 357/438/429, 2 BB, 2 K So Taguchi: 4-18 222/263/222, 1BB, 1 K

Let's just forget about last night's game, all I have to say is that Jacque Jones should probably not be in there versus lefty pitchers, especially those of the quality of Mark Mulder. Granted, options are limited, but Restovich can play right field and wastiing 3-4 at-bats a game doesn't seem like the best use of your talent. Today it's Butterball Rusch versus another out of shape pitcher, Sydney Ponson. If the game gets out of hand, I say they settle the score in a sumo match. Rusch should make all efforts to avoid pitching to Pujols and Rolen today as he has a lot better luck versus Edmonds. GO CUBS!!!
I know it's four hours until gametime, but the last thread was filling up rapidly, so: GAME FIFTEEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (9-5, 2nd, -0.5) AT ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (9-6, 4th, -1.0) Busch Stadium, 7:10 PM CDT Weather: 75 degrees, Wind 8 mph left to right TV: WGN, DirecTV 736 Radio: WGN, XM 187
Mark Mulder, LHP 1-0, 4.05 ERA, 20 IP 10 K, 1 BB, 4 HRJerome Williams, RHP 0-1, 2.45 ERA, 11 IP 5 K, 9 BB, 1 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF Jerry Hairston, Jr., 2B *Todd Walker, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Michael Barrett, C *Jacque Jones, RF Matt Murton, LF Ronny Cedeno, SS Jerome Williams, PDavid Eckstein, SS *John Rodriguez, LF Albert Pujols, 1B Scott Rolen, 3B Jim Edmonds, CF Juan Encarnacion, RF Yadier Molina, C #Aaron Miles, 2B *Mark Mulder, P

Cubs vs. Mulder Jacque Jones: 5-15, 333/412/533, 2 BB, 6 K Neifi Perez: 9-25, 360/393/480, 2 BB, 1 KCardinals vs. Williams Albert Pujols: 1-12, 083/083/333, 1 HR, 2 K Jim Edmonds: 1-13, 077/294/077, 4 BB, 4 K Scott Rolen: 0-9, 000/182/000, 1 BB, 3K

Jerome Williams has allowed 18 baserunners in 11 innings, yet he has an ERA under 3.00. How is this possible? Well, seven of the walks came in his first relief appearance and his first start -- he got shelled in the former case and pitched lucky in the latter. I expect his ERA will come up if his walks don't come down, but whether that happens tonight or not who knows? At least, he's handled Pujols, Edmonds & Rolen well in his career. Besides, we aren't paying attention to how well Jerome is pitching -- we're too busy rending our garments over the injury to Derrek Lee. There is no positive way to spin the two-to-three-month loss of the best hitter on the team (and one of the best in all of baseball last year), so I'm holding on to two pieces of informational driftwood to try to survive this baseball shipwreck: 1. Todd Walker and Jerry Hairston should get more at-bats this way. The smartest thing to do is move Walker to first base, and have him play there every day (or, failing that, against every righty), with Hairston becoming the everyday second baseman. The word that Mike Restovich is joining the team makes me fear that's not going to happen, though -- why bring up a guy to play backup outfielder unless you're going to take your current backup outfielder (Mabry) and move him to first base? Mabry has more experience at first than Walker, and he has the advantage of being four inches taller, but he's not going to make us forget Lee's Gold Glove smoothness. Plus, the offensive drop will be more noticeable if Mabry gets Lee's ABs -- in my plan you essentially replace Lee with Hairston, which I think is better than replacing him with Mabry. Playing Mabry at first every day isn't the best thing the Cubs could do, but I certainly think it's better than trying to trade for a first baseman, especially someone like (as has been mentioned in the comments) Doug Mientkiewicz. That would result in a titanic drop-off offensively that wouldn't be made up for on the defensive side, and given that we're likely to see more Neifi now (as I doubt that Dusty will enact part two of my plan and just let Hairston play second every day) the Cubs can't afford to punt offense at two spots in the lineup for two months. 2. Will Carroll says he "fully expects" Lee to beat the timeline for his return and be back in less that two months. Based on what? I don't know, but I'll take it. So now we have to turn our attention to the Cardinals, who will be out for blood after getting swept at Wrigley. Sure would have been nice if Lee and his career 11-15 against Mulder could be in the lineup. But it can't, so let's try not to dwell on that to much and move on as best we can. Besides, how great would it be if the Cubs could march into New Busch and take two out of three from the Cards without Prior, Wood or Lee?
With Derrek Lee expected to be out of action for anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks, the Cubs have apparently selected 27-year old OF Michael Restovich to replace D-Lee on their 25-man roster. Although no official announcement has been made by the Cubs, Restovich was not in the Iowa lineup Thursday night in Albuquerque, and Iowa Cubs broadcaster Dean Ellis with KXNO radio in Des Moines reported tonight during the game that Restovich was no longer with the Iowa club, and that he apparently was set to join the Chicago Cubs in St. Louis. If so, he should arrive in plenty of time for Friday night's game at the new Busch Stadium. A right-handed hitting slugger from Mayo HS in nearby Rochester, Restovich was selected by the Minnnesota Twins in the 2nd round of the 1997 Rule 4 (June) Draft. He turned down a scholarship from Notre Dame to sign with the Twins. He spent seven seasons in the Twins organization, including 61 major league games in the years 2002-04. Baseball America had Restovich rated as the Twins' second-best prospect in 2000 and 2001, and as their third best prospect in both 2002 and 2003. BA also had him rated as the 37th best prospect in all of baseball as recently as 2003. Out of options, Restovich was claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on March 31st of last season, and then was claimed off waivers again five days later by the Colorado Rockies. He was traded to Pittsburgh on May 11th, and spent the rest of the 2005 season with the Pirates. He played LF and RF, and also had 28 PA as a PH, where he went 4-27 (.148) with four singles, one walk, and 14 strikeouts. He was designated for assignnment by the Pirates on November 21st. In 132 MLB games, Restovich has hit .254, with a .333 OBP and .408 slugging %, including 3 HR and 6 RBI. He has 1 + 123 in MLB service time. Restovich signed a minor league contract with the Cubs on January 3rd, and received an invitation to Spring Training as a non-roster player. He had a mediocre Spring Training (he hit .222 and led the team in strikeouts) and was sent to Iowa on March 29th, but he has been on fire his last six games in AAA: .480 (12-25), .536 OBP .760 SLG 1.296 OPS with 1 HR, 7 RBI, 2 2B, 3B, 3 BB, 2 K. Although Restovich played some 1B in Spring Training, it was the first time he had played the position since high school. So expect Todd Walker and John Mabry to get most of the playing time at 1B until Lee returns, although Restovich could get some starts against left-handed pitchers. Restovich could also spell Jacque Jones in RF against a tough LHP. Because he will be out of action for anywhere from 8-12 weeks, it is likely that Derrek Lee will be placed on the 60-day DL, although either Mark Prior or Wade Miller (or Kerry Wood, but he's too close to returning) could be transferred to the 60 DL. Players on the 60-day DL do not count against the 40-man roster. Or the Cubs could recall Brian Dopirak (who is out of action at West Tenn with a broken foot) and then immediately place him on the 60-day DL. The problem with doing that is that Dopirak would immediately begin to accrue MLB service time, and would receive the MLB minimum salary ($327,000) instead of the $60,000-ish salary he is getting now per the "split contract." If Lee is placed on the 60-day DL or Prior or Miller is transferred to the 60-day DL, Lee would be eligible to be reactivated on June 19th, Prior would be eligible to be reactivated on May 26th (he was placed on the 15-day DL effective March 27th, and time spent on the 15-day DL counts toward the 60 days), and Milller would be eligible to be reactivated on May 31st.
If you still hold out hope that today is going to be a good day for you, don't read the rest of this post and stay away from the papers and news for the rest of the day. The Trib is reporting that Derrek Lee could be out 2-3 months. From the Trib:
He suffered a fracture of the distal radial bone and the distal ulna bones while trying to brace himself from Furcal, who was charging towards the bag while beating out a bunt.
WSCR and Comcast Sports have apparently confirmed the story as well. He should be in a cast for 6 weeks, then he'll have 2 weeks in rehab which is the standard rule of thumb for broken bones. There's is a small possibility that the bones will heal faster but don't hold your breath. I'm not even going to bother with potential replacements and how this will affect the Cubs for the time being. It's obviously not good and nobody in baseball that we can get is going to make up the difference. You just gotta hope some guys get hot at the right time and can pick up the slack. I expect Ryan Theriot to get called up as Neifi and Hairston split time at second base. Todd Walker will likely get the bulk of first base duty with the occasional start by John Mabry. As AZ Phil suggested in a previous thread, Michael Barrett should consider picking up a first basemen's glove and taking some grounders starting tomorrow.
This is the most content-free post you will probably ever see on TCR. Derek Lee flew to Chicago for test on his injured wrist after x-rays taken at Dodger Stadium were inconclusive, none of the papers have anything, and Will Carroll came up empty as well. I guess we have to wait and see. To quote David St. Hubbins, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation. I hope at least we'll see Todd Walker playing first and Jerry Hairston playing second for the next few days.
GAME 14 REVIEW
CUBS 5 DODGERS 4 W: Scott Williamson (2-0) L: Danys Baez (0-1) SV: Ryan Dempster (4) Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart| Photos
I made it out to Dodger Stadium once again and scored some nice tickets right behind home plate, second level, prime area for foul balls. (More on that in a minute). The AngelFan Wife and I got a babysitter and went to the game with a pal from work and his gal. He's a moderate Dodger fan, but was more interested in the Cubbies that were on his fantasy team performing well (Barrett & Ramirez). The Dodgers have two video scoreboards at the park, one basically consists of generals stats and what not, the other is the fancier color version with tidbits on the players. Here's what I learned from the Dodger information board: - Michael Barrett's cousin is Scott Fletcher - "O" is for Offense (that was for Olmaedo Saenz) - John Mabry was the Cardinals Rookie of the Year in 1995 - John Mabry is 9 home runs away from 100 (I'm sure the Mabry watch will be up on ESPN in no time) - Jacque Jones attended USC - Ronny Cedeno is the 3rd best hitter in the NL against right handed pitchers - Ronny Cedeno is the 2nd best hitter in the NL at night - Neifi Perez has played 2b, SS, 3B and Catcher in the majors (guess who our new emergency catcher is) Why do I mention all of these factoids? Cause the game isn't worth talking about. The Cubs played poorly and lucked into a victory. The Eyre/Lee bunt fiasco will hopefully turn out to be a whole lot of nothing, but to say the least I'll be on edge until I hear a definitive word (so far X-rays were inconclusive on Lee's wrist). While I'm sure most of you watching the game noticed all the dinks that fell for the Cubs, it was even worse at the ballpark as just about every ball hit by the Cubs had that wobbly wood sound of a ball that clearly missed the sweet spot of the bat. This game was the anthisesis of Monday's game, instead of well-pitched, well-defended, well-executed affair, it was luck and bad defense that got the Cubs win. I did get to witness Cedeno's first two walks of the season, although the first was one of the most extreme unintentional-intentional walks I've ever seen. Marshall was okay, his curveball will certainly be his defining pitch through his career. Batters were bailing at it all day and it appears he can throw it at 2 very different speeds (low 70's and mid 80's). And why Marshall gets pulled after 85 pitches and retiring 10 batters is a bit beyond me. I suppose we can't complain about Baker hurting young arms though. I pretty much missed most of Aardvark's inning as the AngelFan Wife was on a quest for an It's It Ice Cream, which apparently is no longer sold at the ballpark. Considering how cute she looks in a cap & jersey, I'll forgive her. Walker's "I Hope I Catch It" defense worked once, then it cost us a run later in the game, Jacque Jones saved another run on the same play with a good throw to home which pretty much ended up saving us the game. Well, okay, Baez and Repko saved the game for us, but whatever. Oh yeah, the foul ball thing....Bill Mueller, 2nd inning, screaming foul ball straight back just over the screen. Right at me and I cup my hands together for sort of a basket catch. BAMN!, right off the palm of my left hand and 3 rows back. Should of had the right hand over the left and tried to get my body in front of it. Humiliating and made more so by the fact that a buddy from work and the AngelFan Wife were there to witness it. I won't be able to live it down unless I catch the next one and who knows when that will happen. I'm honestly devastated, maybe that's why I'm so disgusted by the game. The Cubs won, makes the off-day more bearable and you need these kinds of win every once in awhile. The Redbirds are up next starting on Friday. Another series victory over them would really get me to start believing. That's unless Derrek Lee's wrist is broken, then I'm going to start believing that we actually may be cursed.
...with the series victory. GAME FOURTEEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (8-5, 2nd, -1.5) AT LOS ANGELES DODGERS (7-8, 3rd, -2.0) Dodger Stadium, 9:10 PM CDT Weather: Clear, 71 degrees, wind out to center at 5 mph TV: CSN, DirecTV 741 Radio: WGN, XM 189
Brad Penny, RHP 2-0, 1.50 ERA, 18 IP 18 K, 1 BB, 2 HRSean Marhall, LHP 1-0, 7.71 ERA, 9 1/3 IP 4 K, 2 BB, 2 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF *Todd Walker, 2B Derrek Lee, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B *John Mabry, LF Jacque Jones, RF Michael Barrett, C Ronny Cedeno, SS *Sean Marshall, P#Rafael Furcal, SS *Kenny Lofton, CF #Jose Cruz, LF Jeff Kent, 2B Olmedo Saenz, 1B Bill Mueller, 3B Sandy Alomar, C , LF Brad Penny, P

Cubs vs. Penny Aramis Ramirez: 6-15, 400/400/467 Juan Pierre: 5-16, 313/421/375, 3 BB, 2 K Todd Walker: 3-20, 150/150/300, 1 HR, 4 K Neifi Perez: 3-18, 167/211/222, 1 BB, 1 K Michael Barrett: 1-16, 063/059/125, 5 K

I mentioned that last night's game had the potential to be "a nice tight game," and both pitchers held up their ends of the bargain. Zambrano pitched out of trouble a bit (walking five and hitting one) but timely defense kept most of those baserunners from crossing the plate. Derek Lowe was just slightly better, blanking the Cubs and getting out of the only jam he found himself in, in the 6th. Tonight's starter, Brad Penny, has looked great so far this season. In his three starts he's truck out 18 and walked only one. He's given up only one earned run in each of his starts. Sean Marshall, on the other hand, has struggled. I've seen a number of articles talking about how well he's pitched, and his poise, and I guess that's true when you look at the fact that he has barely any experiece above A ball, but examined as major league starts, they're not that great -- he's given up nearly a run an inning. On the positive side, he's only walked two batters and he's keeping the ball down. After throwing 65 and 79 pitches in his last two starts, he should be available to be stretched out a bit, possibly up to the 90-100 pitch range.
I have to admit, I'm feeling the pull of unrealistic hopes and dreams that Trans talked about last night. Maybe that's why I'm on my way toward three posts in one day. Of course, it could also be because The Lovely Wife and (Not So) Tiny Baby are out of town. Whatever the reason, my increased output is your theoretical gain -- before I post the lineups for tonight's game, here's a look at the next seven days. First up, a trip to Chavez Ravine, home of the mellifluous Vin Scully. One of the nice things about the Extra Innings package is getting to hear Vin call some game throughout the summer -- I'm hoping tonight is one of those nights. Maybe I'll watch the game on the tiny TV in the bedroom so I can drift off to Vin's dulcet tones. I'll keep my eye out for Rob G. in the stands -- I imagine he'll be the guy who's still there in the 8th inning. Know Your Enemy: Dodger Thoughts, 6-4-2 Monday: Greg Maddux vs. Brett Tomko Tuesday: Carlos Zambrano vs. Derek Lowe Wednesday: Sean Marshall vs. Brad Penny The Dodgers will be without Jeff Kent tonight and possibly longer. They're already without Nomar Garciaparra (shocking, I know) and Eric Gagne, but still have plenty of weapons, like Cub Nation's winter mancrush Rafael Furcal, the currently-uninjured D.J. "J.D." Drew, and Bill Mueller, who just keeps hitting. By the way, Tueday's matchup ought to be interesting, as two of the biggest grounball pitchers in the game (Derek Lowe was 33 in the majors last year, Zambrano #14) face off. Could be a nice tight game, as long as Z keeps his emotions in check and Lowe lays off the sauce. After L.A., it's on to St. Louis, and our first look at new Busch stadium. Know Your Enemy: Get Up Baby, Cardnilly Friday: Glendon Rusch vs. Sidney Ponson Saturday: Greg Maddux vs. Mark Mulder Sunday: Carlos Zambrano vs. Jason Marquis Cubs.com has Jerome Williams scheduled for Friday, but I'd say it's more likely Williams will be skipped so that the rest of the starters can stay on normal. By Friday Albert Pujols' consecutive at-bats-with-a-homer streak could be up to about 15, and Izzy's blown save streak should be just about as high. Jim Edmonds is sitting out the current Pirates series after getting cortisone injections, but he'll be kind enough to return in time for the Cubs series.
I can't guarantee I'll be able to keep this up all season, but I went through all the box scores for the Cubs and all their minor-league affiliates and tallied who had started at what position, and how often. At the beginning of the season, before too many injuries, demotions, etc., this should give a good idea of who is considered the "starter" at each position and at each level. I will leave it to Arizona Phil to come along and add his interpretation and analysis; for now, here are the numbers: CHICAGO CUBS C: Barrett 8, Blanco 3 1B: Lee 11 2B: Walker 7, Hairston 3, Perez 1 3B: Ramirez 9, Perez 2 SS: Cedeno 11 LF: Murton 11 CF: Pierre 11 RF: Jones 6, Pagan 3, Bynum 1, Mabry 1 SP: Zambrano 3, Rusch 3, Maddux 2, Marshall 2, Williams 1 IOWA CUBS (AAA) C: Soto 8, Kopitzke 3 1B: Sing 9, Deardorff 2 2B: Fontenot 6, Theriot 4, Coats 1 3B: McGehee 9, Coats 1, Deardorff 1 SS: Ojeda 6, Theriot 5 LF: Restovich 4, Strong 4, Deardorff 3 CF: Pie 11 RF: Coats 5, Restovich 5, Theriot 1 SP: Ryu 3, Walrond 2, Valdes 2, Guzman 2, Hill 2 WEST TENN DIAMOND JAXX (AA) C: Richie 7, Reyes 2, Farina 1 1B: Hoffpauir 8, Dopirak 1, Lewis 1 2B: Patterson 10 3B: Moore 8, Lewis 2 SS: Rojas 7, Cates 3 LF: Montanez 7, Lewis 2, Hoffpauir 1 CF: Walker 9, Greenberg 1 RF: Greenberg 8, Montanez 2 DH: Lewis 3, Moore 1, Cates 1 SP: Mathes 2, Marmol 2, Wells 2, Mateo 2, Cash 1, Baez 1 DAYTONA CUBS (A+) C: Fox 8, Rick 2 1B: Craig 10 2B: Spears 8, Salas 2 3B: Spearman 10 SS: Simokaitis 10 LF: Jackson 5, Culpepper 4, Salas 1 CF: Fuld 10 RF: Harvey 6, Culpepper 4 DH: Jackson 5, Fox 1, Harvey 1, Rick 1, Wick 1 SP: Berg 2, Gallagher 2, Hagerty 2, Holliman 2, Johnson 2 PEORIA CHIEFS (A) C: Muyco 5, Reed 4, Morgan 1 1B: Norwood 9, Garcia 1 2B: Chirinos 9, Rivera 1 3B: Taylor 10 SS: Johnston 7, Rivera 3 LF: Valdez 6, Defendis 4 CF: Gregg 8, Ciaramella 2 RF: Ciaramella 6, Defendis 2, Valdez 2 DH: Garcia 8, Chirinos 1, Norwood 1 SP: Veal 2, Blackford 2, Billek 2, Yepez 2, Atkins 2
4-16-1957 Traded Ray Jablonski and Ray Katt to the New York Giants. Received Dick Littlefield and Bob Lennon 4-16-1938 Traded Curt Davis, Clyde Shoun, Tuck Stainback and $185,000 cash to the St. Louis Cardinals. Received Dizzy Dean 4-17-1976 The Phillies are down 12-1 in Wrigley after three innings, as Steve Carlton fails to escape from the second. Rich Reuschel, Mike Garman, Darold Knowles and Paul Reuschel can't hold the lead, however, and the Cubs trail 15-13 after the Phillies score 3, 5, and 3 runs in the 7th, 8th and 9th. The Cubs rally to tie the game at 15 in the bottom of the 9th, but the Phillies score three more in the 10th, including Mike Schmidt's fourth home run and 8th RBI of the day. The Cubs rally for one more in the bottom of the 10th, but the Phillies win, 18-16, while the Cubs set a National League record for the largest blown lead to lose a game. 4-17-1974 Newly acquired catcher George Mitterwald hits a double and three home runs, including a first-inning grand slam, with 8 RBI. The Cubs beat the Pirates, 18-9. Mitterwald finishes the season with 7 HR and 28 RBI
GAME 11 REVIEW
CUBS 7 PIRATES 3 W: Glendon Rusch (1-2) L: Ian Snell (0-1) Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
We saw several encouraging things in today's game. Glendon Rusch pitched six strong innings, marred only by Craig Wilson's homerun. Aramis Ramirez seems to be getting locked in - he followed up yesterday's long double with a two-out RBI single in the first, and a two-run homerun in the sixth. Juan Pierre had three hits and scored two runs, hopefully a sign that he's coming out of his early-season slump. Cedeno continued to hit the ball sharply and gave a strong performance in the field. Finally, the mildly injured Jacques Jones made an appearance as a pinch-hitter, and drew a walk. But what's most impressive - and surprising - for me is Ryan Dempster. Admittedly, I was unable to follow the Cubs very closely at the end of last season. So while I knew Dempster was pitching very well, I didn't have a good sense for just how well. Pat Hughes tells me that Dempster now has a 28 and 1/3 scoreless inning streak, spanning 28 appearances, I believe. Is it premature (or perhaps, even over-due?) to talk about Dempster as one of the game's elite closers? As I write, the Cubs are 7-4, in a four-way tie for first place. They're there without Prior, Wood, and having had to start their 5th OF due to injuries. Feeling the pull of unrealistic hopes and dreams, yet?
GAME ELEVEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (6-4, 4th, -0.5) AT PITTSBURGH PIRATES (4-9, 6th, -4.0) PNC Park, 12:35 CDT Weather: Cloudy, 58, Wind right to left @ 8 mph TV: CSN, DirecTV 743 Radio: WGN, XM 185
Ian Snell, RHP 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 10 IP 7 K, 5 BB, 3 HRGlendon Rusch, LHP 0-2, 8.00, 9 IP 6 K, 3 BB, 6 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF *Freddy Bynum, RF Derrek Lee, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B *Todd Walker, 2B Matt Murton, LF Ronny Cedeno, SS Henry Blanco, C *Glendon Rusch, P* Nate McLouth, CF Jack Wilson, SS Jason Bay, LF Craig Wilson, 1B Freddy Sanchez, 3B *Jeromy Burnitz, RF Jose Castillo, 2B Humberto Cota, C Ian Snell, P

Pirates vs. Rusch Jack Wilson: 15-33, 455/500/667, 1 HR, 3 BB Craig Wilson: 14-26, 538/571/769, 1 HR, 2 BB, 5 K Jeromy Burnitz: 2-20, 100/217/250, 1 HR, 1 BB, 2 K

Bynum #2 and Walker #5, huh? I think it would be smarter to put Walker #2, move Murton and Cedeno up, and bat Bynum #7. But, of course, Bynum is fast, therefore he has to bat at the top of the order. This could this be Rusch's last chance to keep his rotation spot, though more likely he'll stick around until Kerry Wood is ready, even if he's merely mediocre. But we can hope, can't we? The guy he's matched up against, Ian Snell, hasn't been too impressive this year either, but at least he hasn't given up six home runs. Angel Pagan's hamstring injury from last night is serious enough that he'll probably head to the DL. There's a chance Felix Pie will be called up, but Mike Restovich seems more likely. I haven't seen or heard an official annoucement yet. I'll post the transaction here as soon as I know it. And, of course, it's time for my annual MLB blackout rules rant. When I was living in San Diego, I didn't get to see the Padres, even though I was more than 60 miles from San Diego and the town I lived in did not carry the cable channel the Pads were on. Now that I live in Pennsylvania, I'm lucky enough to have four teams blacked out: Phillies, Nationals, Orioles, and Pirates. I get Baltimore, Philly, and Washington games either via the regional sports channel or over the air, but I'm too far away from Pittsburgh for DirecTV to give me the Fox Sports channel from Pittsburgh. So, no Pirates games to be found anywhere. It's just silly.
GAME 10 REVIEW
CUBS 1 PIRATES 2 W: Zach Duke (1-1) L: Jerome Williams (0-1) S: Mike Gonzalez (2) Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
Ugh, a tough game to lose. Zach Duke returned to last season's form. After the Cubs had forced him to scuffle and struggle and throw pitches in the first two innings, the lefty settled down, pitching seven strong innings. The Cub defense let down Jerome Williams, aiding the Pirates in the only two runs they would need. Cedeno got charged with a throwing error on a difficult play in the hole, which allowed Craig Wilson to score from third. Bynum, (who replaced Pagan in right field after Pagan seemed to seriously injure his left knee while running to first) misplayed a Wilson drive off the right field wall, and then jogged after the ball while Wilson legged out a triple. (What was up with Wilson's wheels? He stole a base in advance of the Cedeno error, and eventually scored after his triple. Wilson hit one triple and stole three bases all of last year!) Williams also threw a ball away on a pickoff play, giving Cub fans everywhere a sense of deja vu. The Cubs had one golden scoring opportunity in the eighth, with runners at first and second, one out, Duke out of the game, and Ramirez and Barrett up; Ramirez popped up, Barrett struck out, and that was pretty much the game. If that's the bad news (and indeed, it's considerable), the good news is that Williams pitched quite well - certainly well enough to merit another start, while our horde of supposedly near-ready injured starting pitchers continues to recuperate. Murton kept raking, and Eyre looked good in relief. While I'm not sure that this really counts as good news, I'll also add that Aramis managed to not pull a leg or butt muscle, when he had to go from a walk to a sprint in a single step upon realizing that his 410 ft. double was not, in fact, going to be a home run. Congrats, Aramis.
GAME TEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (6-3, 1st) AT PITTSBURGH PIRATES (3-9, 6th, -4.5) PNC PARK, 6:05 CDT Weather: Clear, 72 degrees, wind out to center 15 mph TV: WGN Radio: WGN, XM 186 -->
Zach Duke, LHP 0-1, 6.55, 11 IP 6 K, 5 BB, 3 HRJerome Williams, RHP 0-0, 3.60, 5 IP 2 K, 5 BB, 1 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF Jerry Hairston, 2B Derrek Lee, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Michael Barrett, C #Angel Pagan, RF Matt Murton, LF Ronny Cedeno, SS Jerome Williams, PChris Duffy, CF Jack Wilson, SS Jason Bay, LF *Jeromy Burnitz, RF Craig Wilson, 1B Joe Randa, 3B Jose Castillo, 2B Humberto Cota, C *Zach Duke, P


After writing how the Pirates haven't been using Craig Wilson enough, we'll see him tonight in place of Sean Casey, who will be out 6-8 weeks with two fractures in his lower back after a collision with John Mabry last night. Yeowch. In other Pirate (and ex-Cub) injury news, Jody Gerut has been placed on the Restricted List after electing to have knee surgery against the wishes of the team. The Cubs made a roster move too, sending Michael Wuertz to AAA where he blongs and recalling the 100% valley-fever-free Roberto Novoa. Todd Walker gets four hits last night and sits tonight. Get used to it, Cubs fans. Jerome Williams makes his first start of the season tonight. As Kerry Wood, Wade Miller and Mark Prior inch closer to returning (Wood threw to hitters today and both Miller and Prior had 40-pitch sessions yesterday), Williams needs to establish himself if he hopes to stay in the rotation past May. Then again, he could always take Glendon Rusch's spot.
GAME NINE IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (5-3) AT PITTSBURGH PIRATES (3-8) PNC PARK, 6:05 CDT Weather: Overcast, 68 degrees, wind right to left @ 12mph TV: CSN+ Radio: WGN, XM 186
Victor Santos, RHP 1-1, 4.66 ERA, 9 2/3 IP 9 K, 4 BB, 0 HRSean Marshall, LHP 0-0, 8.31 ERA, 4 1/3 IP 2 K, 1 BB, 1 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF *Todd Walker, 2B Derrek Lee, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Michael Barrett, C *John Mabry, RF Matt Murton, LF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Sean Marshall, P*Nate McLouth, CF Jack Wilson, SS *Sean Casey, 1B Jason Bay, LF Joe Randa, 3B *Jeromy Burnitz, RF Jose Castillo, 2B Humberto Cota, C Victor Santos, P

Cubs vs. Santos Michael Barrett: 2-19, 105/150/158, 1 BB, 2K Derrek Lee: 3-18, 167/286/500, 2 HR, 3 BB, 3 K Aramis Ramirez: 7-16, 438/438/938, 1 HR, 1 K

Aramis is back in the lineup, as is Todd Walker. Jacque Jones will apparently miss the entire series, allowing Dusty to use Mabry tonight and probably Angel Pagan tomorrow. Who knows, maybe Freddie Bynum will get a start on getaway day. I'd like to see Marshall last a little longer than he did in his first start. In his (short) outing, he wasn't too bad, and now he has a chance to build on his spring success and force Dusty's hand when Wood/Miller/Prior are ready to return. GO CUBS!!!
As the Cubs head to Pittsburgh to start their first road trip of the season, I thought I'd take a few minutes to tell you what you need to know about this NL Central rival. When their fans close their eyes at night, they see Sid Bream in their nightmares. My buddy Mark might want to avert his eyes for the next few paragraphs. In the early '90s, the Pirates were the class of the NL East. They won three staight division titles from 1990-1992 behind an exciting core of young players which included Bobby Bonilla, Andy Van Slyke, Doug Drabek, Jay Bell, John Smiley, and Barry Bonds, who won his first two MVP awards in 1990 and 1992.
Mike Kiley reports in the Sun-Times that Kerry Wood is scheduled to pitch a simulated game tomorrow at Fitch Park in Mesa, and probably another next Thursday. If all goes well, that would put Woody's first minor league rehab start on April 25th, keeping him on the same pitching schedule as the temp #5 starter. If he stays on that schedule (pitching the same days as the temp 5th starter), and depending on how many rehab starts he needs to make (probably at least two, those being the April 25th and April 30th Iowa Cubs home games in Des Moines), Wood could return to the Cubs starting rotation on Friday night May 5th at SD, or certainly no later than Wednesday night May 10th at SF (again, if all goes well and there are no setbacks). It is possible (but not real likely) that he could make just one rehab start (April 25th at Des Moines) and return to the Cubs rotation at Wrigley Field on Sunday April 30th versus MIL. There is no specific schedule suggested for the return of Mark Prior or Wade Miller at this point. As far as the current 3-4-5 starters are concerned, all three (Sean Marshall, Jerome Williams, and Glendon Rusch) are scheduled to pitch the three games this weekend in Pittsburgh. Pitching tonight, Marshall is the only one of the three who could start next Wednesday night in LA, but don't forget that Angel Guzman is "shadowing" Marshall at Iowa, pitching on the exact same schedule. So if Marshall gets blasted tonight, Guzman could be recalled to replace Marshall in the starting rotation as early as next Wednesday in LA. And between Williams and Rusch, whichever one pitches best this weekend will probably get the start next Friday night in STL, with the other skipped until a 5th starter is needed on April 25th. That 5th starter slot (needed permanently beginning on April 25th) is the one Kerry Wood would slip into, either on April 30th, May 5th, or May 10th (depending on how the rehab goes).

One more time....

The Cubs make their lone trip of the season to Dodger Stadium next week and I was wondering who might be up for a little venture to Chavez Ravine for the Monday night game, April 17th; 7:10pm PST? The tentative pitching matchup is Greg Maddux versus Brett Tomko. Enjoy a little baseball, beverage and world famous "Dodger Dogs", (apparently world famous for their sucktitude). Email me if you're interested, we'll figure out the ticket situation once we know how many people are going. Those who think it's a good idea to leave before the 9th inning need not apply....

GAME 8 REVIEW
REDS 8 CUBS 3
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart | Photos
W: Eric Milton (2-0) L: Carlos Zambrano (0-1)

The first piece of good news is we don't face the Reds again until the end of May. The second piece of good news is we're off to play the Pirates next and they've struggled mightily out of the gate. The third piece of good news is Matt Murton broke out of his mini-slump with 2 RBI's, 2 Hits and a Home Run. The final piece of good news is I saved a bunch of money on my car insurance.

What I really took from this game was the importance of on-field leadership. Without Henry Blanco catching and Neifi manning the hot corner, we could really see the calming influence they both had on Carlos Zambrano as he really settled down after gettting into some tough jams early. Oh wait, no he didn't, he tried to pick off Eric Milton from first for no apparent good reason and then he tried to pick off Eric Milton later in the game from third base for no apparent good reason. And I believe at one point I actually saw steam coming from his ears. At least Barrett's all well and rested. Hopefully his bat won't cool off with the rest.

What's there to say? The Cubs stunk up the joint today, Baker should of forgotten about getting the scrubs some starts today and put some better bats in the lineup, waiting until we were a bit closer to full strength (or at least until Aramis came back). Walker hits lefties just fine and Milton just fine as well, same goes for Barrett. Off for a nine game road trip from Pittsburgh to LA to St. Louis. Let's get them tomorrow Sean Marshall!!!

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GAME EIGHT IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CINCINNATI REDS (5-3) AT CHICAGO CUBS (5-2) WRIGLEY FIELD, 1:20 CDT Weather: Cloudy, 74 degrees, Out to Center @ 18mph TV: WGN Radio: WGN, XM 186
Carlos Zambrano, RHP 0-0, 4.42 ERA, 10 2/3 IP 10 K, 9 BB, 2 HREric Milton, LHP 1-0, 2.57 ERA, 7 IP 3 K, 0 BB, 1 HR
Ryan Freel, CF #Felipe Lopez, SS *Adam Dunn, LF Rich Aurilia, 3B *Scott Hatteberg, 1B Austin Kearns, RF Brandon Phillips, 2B Dave Ross, C * Eric Milton, P*Juan Pierre, CF Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B Derrek Lee, 1B Matt Murton, LF #Angel Pagan, RF Ronny Cedeno, SS #Neifi Perez, 3B Henry Blanco, C # Carlos Zambrano, P

Reds vs. Zambrano Adam Dunn: 6-25, 240/355/600, 3 HR, 5 BB, 8 K Austin Kearns: 3-16, 188/381/313, 4 BB, 5 KCubs vs. Milton Aramis Ramirez: 9-24, 375/375/833, 3 HR, 4 K Neifi Perez: 3-20, 150/190/300, 1 HR, 1 K Derrek Lee: 4-17, 235/222/765, 3 HR, 2 K Michael Barrett: 6-16, 375/444/813, 1 HR, 2 BB, 1 K

Big Z goes to the mound for the third time this season and tries to win the Cubs their 2nd series of the year. I understand Barrett can't catch every game and I kind of expected Blanco to be Z's personal catcher for most of the year. It seemed that Z was a little annoyed by Barrett in some comments I heard, plus the whole Venezuelan brothership thing going. But Barrett's been smoking hot and without Ramirez in the lineup (should be back tomorrow), you'd think it would be a good idea to bend the rules for a game. Of course with Homer Happy Milton on the mound and some gusty winds hopefully Blanco can lift a couple into the jet stream. GO CUBS!!!
GAME 7 REVIEW
CUBS 4 REDS 1
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart | Photos
W: Greg Maddux (2-0) L: Brandon Claussen (0-1) SV: Ryan Dempster (2)
A game loss by the Reds more than won by the Cubs, but take them anyway you can. The Reds committed an abysmal 5 errors, a few of them caused by the speed of Juan Pierre. He bunted for a hit to leadoff the bottom half of the first and 2 batters later attempted a steal of third which Javier Valentin air-mailed over the 3rd basemen's head for the Cubs first run. Lee was also stealing on the play and advanced to third on the throw, scoring on a Barrett sac fly. Pierre reached again when his speed forced Tony Womack to rush a throw to 1st. although the error was apparently given to 1B Scott Hatterberg. A little bit more of the Reds defensive foolishness followed and the Cubs scored their third run of the day on a Barrett grounder to third that Encarnacion muffed. On the type of day you dread when Maddux is on the mound (wind blowing out 18 mph+ to right), Maddog proved an old dog can learn new tricks. He kept the Reds batters fooled all day, locating his pitches to perfection and even throwing a few pitches that barely topped 60 on the gun. The only blemish was a walk to Dunn and then a double to Edwin Encarnacion. The Cubs had Dunn at the plate, but a less than perfect throw by Cedeno short-hopped Barrett, who made little effort of his own to get the ball despite having plenty of time to get the lumbering Dunn, and the ball skipped away. Barrett more than made up for it with a 2 out single to score the Cubs final run, ending the day 1 for 3 from the plate with 3 RBI's (I believe currently tied for the NL lead with 13). The bullpen went back to being fantastic, 2 scoreless innings by Scott Eyre and a rather uneventful 9th for Dempster. Eyre got through the 7th inning on a mere 8 pitches, so Dusty rightfully put him out for the 8th. He got himself into a little trouble by giving up a single to Brandon Phillips and a walk to Ryan Freel (who replaced Ken Griffey in center after Griffey left with stiffness in one of his knees). This left Eyre with the dubious task of having to face Dunn as the tying run, but Eyre quickly dispatched Dunn on a groundout to 2nd. Not the prettiest of games, the Cubs caused some havoc on the bases with their speed but also ran into some outs. The defense was generally solid beyond the one run scoring play for the Reds, Ronny Cedeno and Angel Pagan both making nice plays in the 9th to secure the victory. The Cubs try to win the rubber match tomorrow with Big Z going against Homer Happy Milton. The Cubs have now won 5 games, Glendon Rusch has lost two.

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