March 2007

Cubbie Blue Bones And Groans

Dr. Joseph Hecht returns with a new recurring column, a breakdown of injuries to our Cubs and some of our division rivals. --------- Under the Category: Break out the Blue Duct Tape. Kerry Wood’s latest ache is apparently proximal triceps related. He is officially on the DL and back to slow rehab mode although there has been no word on when towel drills will begin. So far no MRI has been ordered but who knows since we’re not getting much information. Baseball Prospectus’ Will Carroll has said: “What’s not so bad is that sources tell me that pain is not in the back of the shoulder, but rather nearer the triceps where Wood has already had problems this spring.” I commented on the situation a few days back on this TCR thread. Included is a nice link to triceps anatomy. Godspeed Woody… -----

Gameday Open Thread / Cubs @ Mariners

Vegas Baby, Vegas! Cubs versus Mariners in the desert at Cashman Park. Ted Lilly versus Miguel Batista. Which of these Cubs is most likely to have spent the whole night gambling, drinking and hitting the strip joints? A) Carlos Zambrano B) Cliff Floyd C) Ryan Theriot D) Henry Blanco E) Scott Eyre

2007 TCR Prediction Contest

As Christmas Opening Day approaches, time to put on the prognostication hats and have some fun with the Cubs season. Reader Bryan has offered to tabulate the results and I'll come up with the prizes at some point (still owe chifan3887 for his Free Agent Frenzy win, I didn't forget about you). So predict away... Five points for a correct answer. 1. Who will have the most plate appearances in the #2 spot of the lineup? 2. Who will have the most plate appearances in the #8 spot of the lineup?

Gameday Open Thread / Diamondbacks @ Cubs

The last game at Hohokam Park for the year and Arizona Phil tells us that they're cutting it off after nine innings even if it's tied so everyone can pack up and head to Vegas for the weekend series versus the Mariners. Wade Miller goes for the Cubs against a split-squad DBacks crew led by Doug Davis on the mound.

Gameday Open Thread / Rockies @ Cubs

Mark Prior velocity watch vs. Aaron Cook. Snooze. - In other news, the Cubs and Zambrano are still talking about an extension, the Sun-Times has sources saying negotiations center around a five-year deal in the $75 to $85 million range (that includes his $12.4 million contract from this year, so essentially a four-year extension).

The Broken Unicorn

Our resident doctor, Joseph Hecht takes a look at the plight of one of our Cubs heroes. ---------- I have an idea for a dramatic play. Synopsis: It’s about a dysfunctional family. The father ran off years ago, leaving two children and their mother, except for one postcard of Wrigley Field, the father has not been heard from since.

Royal Pain Has Happy End

With both teams probably "out of pitchers," and with a tie game looming, Ronny Cedeno lofted a two-out three-run walk-off home run off the scoreboard in left field, giving the Cubs a hard-fought 13-10 ten-inning victory over the Kansas City Royals in front of 10,886 fans at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa today. box score

Gameday Open Thread / Royals @ Cubs

I'm officially bored of spring training....let the games begin!!!! Rich Hill versus fellow lefty Jorge de la Rosa today at Hohokam Park. The Kerry Wood news from Will Carroll doesn't sound too bad, far less damning than Mr. Wittenmeyer's speculation that Wood will be fortunate to be back by June.

More Roster Cuts

The Cubs cut four more from their spring training roster including uber-prospect Felix Pie. The other three were all non-roster invitees - Tomas Perez, Les Walrond and Koyie Hill. 31 players remain in camp with six more cuts needed to be made. I would guess.... To the DL: Kerry Wood (pesky shoulder) Mark Prior (they'll invent something so he can hang back in Arizona and get some work in)

You Have to Laugh…Unless You’re Kerry Wood

It looks like poor Kerry Wood has gone and done it again, another year, another arm injury. The details have yet to come out but something didn't go right after yesterday's outing and it could just be a re-aggravation of the triceps strain from earlier in spring training or possibly a brand spanking new one to add to the trophy case. Once the Cubs P.R.

Z’s Six Strong Stick Jints with Loss

Carlos Zambrano threw six innings of one run ball, Ronny Cedeno and Aramis Ramirez hit home runs, Mark DeRosa was 2-4 with a single and a double, and Michael Barrett was on base four straight times on two singles and two walks, as the Cubs defeated the Giants 6-2 before a capacity crowd of 12,752 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa today. box score

Cubs 2007 Season In Review

Opening Day is still more than a week off, but the prognostication season is well under way. Sports Illustrated’s annual preview was mentioned here yesterday, but The Hardball Times and Baseball Prospectus are also out with their player-by-player predictions, as is Baseball Think Factory’s Dan Szymborski, father of the ZIPS Projections.

THT, BP (with their PECOTA Projections) and Szymborski each employs a unique methodology, which I won’t even try to summarize or explain. Regardless, I thought it would be worthwhile to stack all three sets of Cub player predictions side by side, focusing on the eight likely starting position players plus Cliff Floyd, the five starting pitchers including Wade Miller, and the closer, Ryan Dempster.

The THT numbers come from their most excellent season preview book featuring the work of one Rob G.; the Baseball Prospectus numbers come from BP 2007; and I pulled the ZIPS Projections from the Baseball Think Factory site. (Thanks again, Dan, for your permission to use them here.)

Also, to round out the field, I consulted my old friend, Phil, a very smart, very dedicated Cub fan who can calculate slugging percentages in his head and who, coincidentally, turned me on to The Cub Reporter what seems like a very long time ago. Phil employed no simulation models or complicated algorithms in coming up with his picks, but rather, a time-honored technique called educated guesswork that took about 15 minutes.

Cubs Trivia Bonanza

I have a few here I've been saving for a slow day....
  1. Who holds the single-season record for most home runs by a Cubs rookie?
  2. Who has hit the most home runs as a pitcher in Cubs history...bonus if you can name how many?
  3. In 1962, The Chicago Cubs used the first African American Major League Baseball coach. Who was he?
  4. Who was the youngest pitcher in Chicago Cubs history?
  5. Name the winningest left-handed pitcher in Cubs history...by total number of wins?

We’re Number 15! We’re Number 15!

I’m putting together a look at how some of the online pubs and soothsayers foresee the Cubs season ahead. In the meantime, the Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview edition is on the street. SI has the Cubs pegged for second in the NL Central, behind the Cards and out of the post-season picture. The magazine, which ranks the Cubs as MLB’s 15th strongest club overall, figures the Brewers, Astros, Pirates and Reds will fall in order behind our heroes in the Central.

Cubs Ward-Off Rangers with Walk-Off Salami

Just like old times. A Cubs Spring Training game at HoHoKam Park. Sammy Sosa in the outfield. Heck, even Wayne Messmer and his wife Kathy are at the game, singing "God Bless America" before the game and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in the middle of the seventh inning. Best of all... Cubs Win!! Cubs Win!!! Cubs Win!! Yes, Daryle Ward clubbed a one-out grand slam HR in the bottom of the 9th inning, giving the Cubs a hard-fought 11-7 victory over the Texas Rangers in front of 11,674 fans at cloudy and breezy Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa today. Ward, who has now gone 5-10 with 10 RBI in his last three ST games, had earlier given the Cubs a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the 7th, with a two-out line-drive RBI single. box score

Can We Forgive Sammy?

Today in Mesa, Arizona, the Cubs will square off against the Texas Rangers in Cactus League action, which would normally pass by without much reason for the casual Cubs fan to pause. Today though will be a little different, today the Rangers bring with them a man that is as synonymous with the Cubs as the ivy planted in the outfield at Wrigley, a man who very much like Ernie, Fergie and Ryno, needs only a first name introduction - Sammy. The rise and fall of Sosa has been discussed and dissected; ad nauseum. What made him famous ending up making him infamous. The rumors repeated so often, they're essentially accepted as facts. Did he or didn't he? The definitive evidence will likely never be revealed to settle the case. But to be convicted in the court of public opinion, the burden of proof is far less stringent and the verdict was delivered long ago. The man abused and fans were not amused, a matter of fact, many felt used.

Cubs Drop Game, Cut Six

I wasn't at the game, but the Cubs dropped a 4-2 decision to the Colorado Rockies today at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson. box score After the game, the Cubs announced several roster cuts, optioning C Geovany Soto to Iowa, and sending NRI LHP Ryan O'Malley and Carmen Pignatiello, C Jake Fox, 3B Casey McGehee, and 1B Micah Hoffpauir to the minor league camp at Fitch Park. The Cubs have also released RHP Eli Diaz and Alfredo Francisco, LHP Nate Bland, C Kevin Ciarrachi, 1B Jason Hart and Luther Murphy, INF Derek Wathan, and OF Tony Miller and Nate Price from minor league camp, and OF Davy Gregg has retired. Diaz was a 2006 40th round draft pick out of Texarkana JC who pitched at AZL Mesa last season, Francisco was a one-time hot-shot Dominican 3B prospect who received a big bonus from the Cubs five years ago, but was converted to a pitcher when he couldn't learn to hit curve balls and sliders, Murphy was a 2005 "draft+follow" JC player (selected in the 46th round out of Palm Beach CC) who signed with the Cubs prior to the 2006 Rule 4 Draft and then was assigned to AZL Mesa, Price was a '06 NDFA (University of Iowa) who hit a combined .263 as a "4th OF" at Peoria and Daytona last year, Ciarrachi was signed last December after playing in professional independent leagues the previous five seasons, and Bland (ex-HOU) , Hart (ex-TEX), Wathan (ex-FLA), and Miller (ex-COL) were minor league FAs signed to minor league contracts during the off-season by the Cubs. Gregg was a speedy CF selected in the 27th round of the 2005 draft out of the University of South Carolina who played at Boise in '05 and at Peoria last year.

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  • When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.

    I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.

    VirginiaPhil 2 hours 31 min ago view
  • Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.

    The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.

    Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.

    Old and Blue 4 hours 34 min ago view
  • If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.

    billybucks 13 hours 37 min ago view
  • Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."

    billybucks 14 hours 19 min ago view
  • This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.

    Charlie 14 hours 30 min ago view
  • I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.

    They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.

    However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.

    The E-Man 14 hours 37 min ago view
  • I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
    - They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
    - Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.

    billybucks 14 hours 40 min ago view
  • new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup

    crunch 14 hours 51 min ago view
  • Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.

    .500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.

    blockhead25 14 hours 57 min ago view
  • ...i hate espn.

    nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.

    oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.

    crunch 15 hours 13 min ago view
  • I'm liking this rookie Nathan.

    CTSteve 15 hours 14 min ago view
  • Richard DFA'd. Meh...

    The E-Man 18 hours 5 min ago view
  • Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.

    Charlie 20 hours 37 min ago view
  • The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.

    chitownmvp01 21 hours 10 min ago view
  • If the ball didn't deflect off the pitcher's mound, the game wouldn't have ended. Montgomery did miss his location though, but if that same contact was made and went in any of direction, good chance of ground out if it doesn't get through.

    If it was 1 night later, Chapman would be out there and we probably would be going to extras.

    Also, If KB wasn't robbed of a HR, perhaps we would have won. We will never know. Nice play by Melky though.

    chitownmvp01 21 hours 12 min ago view
  • The comparison isn't Chapman replacing Rondon. It's Chapman replacing Richard (hopefully) in the pen. Chapman's better.

    billybucks 23 hours 9 min ago view