May 2007

Cubs Pipeline to Venezuela in Jeopardy?

Luis Aparicio. Dave Concepcion. Manny Trillo. Ozzie Guillen. Magglio Ordonez. Bobby Abreu. Omar Vizquel. Carlos Zambrano. Miguel Cabrera. Ramon Hernandez. Johan Santana. Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez. Victor Martinez. Melvin Mora. Felix Hernandez. Jose Lopez.   Just a few of the many past and present MLB stars from Venezuela. On Opening Day 2007, there were 51 players from Venezuela on MLB 25-man rosters, with many more Venezuelans playing in the minor leagues.  Since 1999, the number of Venezuelans playing in MLB has doubled.  Last July, the Cubs gave 16-year old Venezuelan RHP Larry Suarez (currently at EXST at Fitch Park) a reported $850K signing bonus (an amount equivalent to "2nd round money").

An Embarrasment of Riches…

...not in the "we have too much of a good thing kind of way", but more of the "wow this is embarrassing with how much this roster cost the Cubs." And as Mark DeRosa stated yesterday, "There's no good reason for this to be going on." A team built to hit home runs is currently 9th in the NL in runs scored because well, they're 9th in the NL in home runs hit (among some other reasons). Derrek Lee is on pace to hit 14 home runs this year as is Alfonso Soriano. Cliff Floyd won't even hit double digits at this point (8), and Jacque Jones and Matt Murton are in Juan Pierre territory at the moment. I'd love to believe that better times are to come, we still have the best run differential in the Central at +11 and the likelihood of all those players setting what would be essentially career lows for home runs in one season (when you consider playing time) is rather unlikely. This being the Cubs though, the unlikely and improbable in their most negative connotations has become standard operating procedure, so the best I could muster up is some sabermetric optimism after the jump.

Mateo Flips Three at Fitch, Looks Fit to Phil

The EXST Cubs (Boise/Mesa) rallied with four runs in the bottom of the 8th to defeat the EXST Angels 6-4 at Mesa's Fitch Park Field #3 this morning, in a game that featured the second rehab start for RHP Juan Mateo. Mateo, who has been on the Cubs 15-day DL with a sore shoulder since ST, increased his innings to three and his pitch count to 40+, as he threw 41 pitches (29 strikes, 4/2 GB/FB), with his fastball topping out at 92 MPH. He allowed three hits (one HR) and one run, but no walks, with three strikeouts, in his three innings of work. As long as he does not having any significant negative physical symptoms in the aftermath of today's game, Mateo looks fit and ready to leave Mesa and continue his rehab (gradually increasing his pitch count) at Daytona or Tennessee, with a return to the Iowa starting rotation probably by no later than mid-June, possibly even earlier.


Conclude what you will... NL hitters with more home runs than Derrek Lee (incomplete list): Tony Clark Scott Thorman Joe Borchard Ronny Paulino NL hitters with more RBI than Alfonso Soriano (incomplete list): Rich Aurilia Joe Borchard Chris Duffy Ryan Theriot NL hitters seeing more Pitches per Plate Appearance than Mark DeRosa: Todd Helton Adam Dunn Albert Pujols NL hitters with a higher batter average with RISP than Derrek Lee: (None)

Game 48 Recap: Cubs 1, Dodgers 2 (11 innings)

One to forget on Memorial weekend

Game Center, Box Score, Play by Play, Game Chart, Photos

W -Billingsley (3-0), finding ways to lose

L -Guzman (0-1), finding ways to win


Things to take from the game

1. Second Guessing

It's been a good day for the armchair managers. Let's see:

  1. Lou pulls Hill, who has thrown 66 pitches in 6 shutout innings, so that Ward can pinch-hit with a runner on second and two outs in a 0-0 game. Doesn't work.
  2. Lou asked Barrett, hitting fourth and with no sac. bunts on the year, to bunt with runners on 1st and 2nd and nobody out in a 1-0 game in the eighth. Doesn't work.
  3. With the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth, Lou pinch hits Aramis Ramirez for the hot-hitting Pagan, a move that requires Jones to enter the game as a defensive replacement. Doesn't work.
  4. Lou pulls Wuertz, after an effective seventh, for Eyre, who hasn't pitched in a week, to start the eighth. Doesn't work.  (Eyre gives up HR to Ethier, tying the game)
2. More slow curves than you can can swing a stick at Both Hill and Wolf pitched well, Hill especially so. His reworked legkick(s) out of the stretch seemed to be effective both at holding runners on, and without distracting from his ability to pitch well out of the stretch. 3. Whiff in the Fifth Murton doubles, Pagan bunts his way on, and with Pagan advanceing on a wild pitchwe have runners at 2 and 3 with no outs. To my eyes, at least, Wolf tries to pitch around Izturis, in hopes that he'll either chase something, or walk and set up a DP with the pitcher hitting. Izturis lays off some sliders in the dirt, but with a 3-1 count, he weakly taps one to third. No run scores. Hill strikes out, Soriano walks, and Theriot grounds out. That's runners on 2 and 3, no outs, no runs scored. On average, a team should score two runs from that point in an inning. 4. New ways to lose. Bottom of the eleventh begins with two walks issued by Guzman, Marmol in to intentionally walk a batter, then Marmol hitting Pierre to end the game, on what would have been a wild pitch to end the game, had Pierre not gotten in the way. That's a new one. All the nutty details, below


Game 46 Recap: Cubs 8, Dodgers 9


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W -Seanez (2-0), Fate

L - Ohman (0-2), faith in a benevolent creator

S - Saito (15)

Things to take from this game:

1. The Magnificent Seventh

It isn't just that we came back from a 5-1 deficit with a seven run outburst. It's how we did it. Seemingly every hit this inning was opposite-field on controlled swings and purposefull at-bats. It was easily the most enjoyable half inning of Cubs offense all year.


2. The Execrable Eighth.

It was followed by the most frustrating inning all year. Wuertz got pulled after a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, for Howry. Howry gave up three straight line drives, and looked pretty frustrated with himself upon exiting for Ohman. Ohman faced one batter, gave up a hit, and in came Guzman who gave up the lead. Five straight hits, total, to start the inning.


3. Take Jeff Kent. Please.

Kent had four RBIs off of Lilly, and also arguably the hardest hit ball, all night, which wound up being just a fly out to the center field wall in the heavy LA night. At least he flubbed an easy double play attempt.


4. Picked.

It's sort of a small thing to focus on, but Derrek Lee got picked off of second, the play after doubling in the tying run in the seventh. Without that, we would have had one more run, and, conceivably, a tie game after nine

5. Soriano feeling better?

He misplayed a ball in the outfield, but at least Soriano looked like an offensive force, today. He took third on the throw after an RBI double, and seemed to look good doing it. Three hits, two RBI and two runs scored out of the leadoff spot.

The details, in all their triumph and tragedy, follow.

“They Named it San Diego, Which of Course in German Means a Whale’s Vagina”

It's hard to go wrong with an Anchorman quote, especially when talking about "America's Finest City". I'm on vacation this week thus the lack of lineups in the game threads and my general lack of presence to keep you guys in line in the comments but The Angel Fan Wife and I procured a baby-sitter, (Uncle Chris) and headed on down south for my first look at the Bums in Blue - 2007 style. The drive from Long Beach was rather breezy, only a bit of traffic just as we reached the outskirts of the city. Camp Pendleton were in the midst of some sort of training or maneuvers as there were about 3 very large helicopters doing all sorts of interesting stuff, either that or we were being invaded by a family of three trying to cross the road.

Game 44 Recap: Cubs 1, Padres 2

Aww, Hell's Bells.

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W - Wells (2-2) , fat, white, middle-aged, millionaire men. L - Marshall (0-1) , Fairness S - Hoffman (13) Things to take from the game 1. Marshall's first start of the year It's odd. Marshall hasn't really impressed me with my one eye on the TV, and yet I look up, and he's pitched six shutout innings with 2 hits, 2 BB and 5 K. The Padres got some good swings at him that wound up being harmless outs, and there's no disputing the results. 8 K's when he leaves the game after 7, with really only one mistake. And he leaves on the hook for a loss.... 2. The Seventh Cubs load the bases on Wells, and the inning ends with a 4-6-3 GIDP by Izturis. Marshall puts one runner on, just his fifth runner of the night at that moment, and Kouzmanoff crushes one into the upper deck in the left field bleachers. We go from a 1-0 lead, and a chance to blow the game open, to a 2-1 deficit. Len mentioned, at the start, how the Cubs scored 9 runs in his 9 losses, last year.... 3. DeRosa's good night DeRosa and Murton were the only guys who seemed able to handle Padres' pitching. DeRosa's fourth hit of the night came with two outs in the ninth, an opposite-field triple off Hoffman that was within 3 feet of going out of the park. Jones comes in to pinch-hit, works a 3-2 count, and lines out to RF to end the game. We gave Hoffman a good scare, but missed a crucial chance to avoid Hoffman, entirely, in the 7th. 4. Brevity You don't need many points, when it's a 2-1 game won on a home run. More tough luck for Marshall. More interesting things than you thought could be squeezed from this game, below.

Game 43 Recap: Cubs 1, Padres 5

I stayed up for this?

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W - Peavy (6-1) L - Hill (4-4) S - Hoffman (12) Things to take from this game 1. Lee returns to the Lineup With Lee hitting third, we also get Soriano hitting first, and Theriot dropped to second. He looked better than his 0 for 5. Maybe that's not saying much. 2. Flattened Hill Rich Hill looked shaky from the very start. The curve wasn't breaking and the contol wasn't there, and as a result he gave up four HR, two to Cameron. That said, he still struck out 8. In any case, we got in a quick hole against Peavy, which is never a good thing. 3. Missed opportunities Cubs had several modest two out rallies ended without any results. Most of which I missed, due to a bad connection 4. No Payoff Overall, a very disappointing game to watch. Got to see Hill give up lots of home runs, the offense sputter, and not even a late-inning rally to keep things interesting as it approaches midnight.

Cub Plays Of The Week

As measured by David Appelman’s wonderful Fangraphs site, which calculates Win Probability Added—the methodology is explained here—the five worst and five best moments in the remarkably dramatic Cubs week that began with last Sunday’s game against the Phillies and ended with Saturday’s game against the White Sox. The Five Worst (in ascending badness): 5.) Monday v. Mets, 6th inning. Paul LoDuca doubles off Rocky Cherry, driving in Carlos Delgado to cut Cubs lead to 4-3. (Decreased likelihood of Cub victory by 22.3%) 4.) Saturday v. White Sox, 8th inning. Paul Konerko homers off of Bob Howry, giving White Sox 6-5 lead. (-24.1%) 3.) Saturday v. White Sox, 6th inning. Joe Crede homers off of Jason Marquis, tying game, 5-5. (-25.2%) 2.) Monday v. Mets, 9th inning. Michael Wuertz walks Carlos Delgado. Mets win 5-4. (-33.9%) And the #1 Worst Moment of the Week for the Cubs… Thursday v. Mets, 9th inning. Carlos Delgado hits two-run single off Scott Eyre. Mets win 6-5. (-45.7%)

Game 42 Recap: Cubs 6, White Sox 10

One to Forget Game Center, Play by Play, Recap, Box Score, Photos, Game Chart

W - Massett (2-1), Joe West's ego, infield drying compound stock-owners.

L - Zambrano (4-4), Joe West, Soriano's legs, brooms.

Things to take from this game

1. Just a couple of bad innings

It's not much consolation, but Z actually looked good for most of the game. He totally lost it in the seventh, we didn't get him out of the game soon enough, and Cotts couldn't pitch out of the jam. (That AJ guy brought in four runs with one swing of the bat.) But other than thatinning and the third, Z actually looked sharp to me.

2. 2 out RISP

Barrett had a couple missed opportunities to knock in some 2-out runs. In the grand scheme of things, it wound up being the least of our problems, but at the time it seemed consequential. Sox had far, far more LOB, by the end of things.

3. Sox pitching

Massett looked shakey in the first, but settled down to give up only 3 hits and 2 runs through 5 and two thirds. The Sox bullpen didn't allow a hit until a Theriot single in the eighth.

4. What's up with Soriano?

At this point, I'm convinced that either Soriano isn't healthy, or he isn't hustling. Either way, it's noticable affecting his on-field play. (FWIW, my guess is this is health-related.)

5. Joe West strikes again

With West and Bucknor in this umpire crew, we should have set up a pool for whom would eject whom, and why and when. Answer winds up being West ejects Floyd in the bottom of the 9th, over balls and strikes, and West's inability to distinguish the one from the other.

More interesting observations than you can handle, below.

Game 41 Recap: Cubs 11, White Sox 6

Grand. Play by Play Box Score Photos Game Center


W - Howry (1-3), Drama.

L - Aardsma (2-1), MLB.TV, FOX, and everyone else who conspired to keep me from viewing this game.


Things to take from today's game

1. Blowing in the wind

The fifth inning saw a series of home runs, including a particularly wind-aided one from Barrett, and another from Marquis.

2. Derrek Lee nearly killed Santo

Lee hit a pinch-hit grand slam, his first at bat in a week, in the bottom of the 8th, breaking the game open 11-6. The Cubs had already come back to take the lead in the inning, on a triple by Theriot, single by Soriano, and triple by Ramirez.

3. Rockin' Wrigley

Limited to the audio feed, it was impressive to hear the chorus of boos that preceded each A.J. at bat, the chants of "Let's Go Cubbies," and especially, the sing-along at the end of the game. It sounded as if 40,000 were joining in on "Go Cubs, Go."

Due to only having the audio cast, I don't have many observations about the game. Help me fill them in, on the message board. Parachat review, below.



Game 40 Recap: Cubs , White Sox

Pagan Worship

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W - Lilly (4-2), Paganism, newspaper editors in need of another round of inane puns L -MacDougal (1-1) S - Dempster (9) Things to take from this game 1. The other Chicago team can play ugly ball, too. Four errors, passed balls and wild pitches. The Cubs capitalized on a very sloppy game by the Sox. 2. The other Chicago team's bullpen can blow games, too. Buehrle left with a 3-1 lead, and MacDougal tacked on two more runs to Buehrle's record. MacDougal had no control at all today, and wasn't helped by catcher Toby Hall, who was playing his first game from coming off the DL for shoulder injuries and spelling A.J. against the lefty. 3. The Bullpen strikes back. Howry and Dempster pitch 2 spotless innings, with 4 K's. Man, did we need that. 4. Lilly struggles through Lilly didn't have the dominant curve or sharp command of his fastball, but managed to pitch out of trouble all game. 5. Pagan's big game. It wasn't just the hitting (3-5 with a triple and 2 RBI), it also was the energy. His triple was on a ball that didn't get passed the spot on the first-base line where the outfield wall juts outward, and he then scored on a wild pitch on what would have been an impossible play for a slower runner. The details follow.

Game 39 Recap: Cubs 5, Mets 6


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W - Burgos (1-0), the forces of evil. L - Dempster (1-2), decency. Things to take from this game 1. We got the Mets' B-team today No Wright, no Beltran, no Reyes, no Easley, no LoDuca, no Alou. Starter Jason Vargas is making his debut for the Mets. Julio Franco is playing 3rd base. He played 3 games there last year, and hadn't played at third prior to that since his rookie year. In 1982. For 2 games. Gotay has never played SS before his one inning there, last night. David Newhan is an OFer playing 2nd base. Brenley mentioned something about a league policy requiring at least 4 "regulars" in a starting lineup, and wondered if Selig might put a phone call in to the Mets for this. Only if we beat them, Bob..... (ah, seems Bob was discussing a spring training policy? In any case, we're facing the B-team.) 2. The pitching "duel" Don't let the box score fool you: while Guzman and Vargas kept the game low-scoring through five, neither was really dominating. It wasn't the sort of pitching duel that has you oohing and ahhing. Vargas was "pitching to contact" and retiring Cub after free-swinging Cub on lazy grounders and fly balls. Guzman kept pitching out of minor trouble, inning after inning. Finally, Vargas started to lose it in the sixth, ending this faux-duel. 3. Cramps Guzman gets a cramp in his leg, batting int he top of the sixth. The Cubs procede to hit a pair of 2-run HR that inning (Pagan and Ramirez), and Guzman is pulled from the game, in line for his first ML Win. 4. Solid Middle Relief Wuertz and Ohman both pitched well. 5. The Ninth Dempster loaded the bases with one out in a 5-1 game when he walks Beltran. Dempster must have looked at the home plate umpire the wrong way, as the ump then gestures at him. Seemed like an overreaction on the umpire's part. Facing Chavez, Dempster goes 3-2 on him, then walks him, too. 5-2 game, winning run now at bat in Ruben Gotay. He gets Gotay in an 0-2 hole, when Gotay serves a single into left. 5-3, bases still loaded with one out... With Shawn Green up, Lou calls for Eyre, who has great numbers against Green in their careers. Green is removed in favor of David Wright. Wright lines the first pitch right back up the middle, just out of the reach of Izturis. 5-4, bases still loaded, one out. And with Delgado facing Eyre, he singles just past a diving Theriot. Murton tries to throw out the winning run at the plate, but his throw is way off the money. Probably wouldn't have mattered, anyway. We enter the bottom of the 9th leading 5-1, leave it with a loss.

Game 38 Recap: Cubs 1, Mets 8


All Wet GameCenter, Recap, Photos, Box Score, Play by Play W - Sosa (3-0) L - Hill (4-3), Mother Nature, every Cubs fan who stayed up to watch, everybody who now goes out and picks up Sosa in their fantasy league. Things to take from this game 1. It got played.

Three hours and seven minutes delayed by weather, the game finally started around 10 eastern time. Maybe 2000 people stayed for the start of the game.
2. Jorge Sosa
We got one-hit through 7+ innings by Jorge Sosa.
I will let that set in for awhile.
3. Did I mention that Jorge Sosa one-hit us? 4. Reyes tweaked something.
Running out of the box in the bottom of the eighth, Jose Reyes came up limping. Not sure why, yet.
5. Hill's start
Hill was a bit wild, with four walks, but really only looked bad on the HR to Easley. Still got a lot of strikes with the big bad curveball. Certainly not his best performance, but also probably not as bad as his line might indicate. In a game of Hill against Jorge Sosa, you really expect to win, even if Hill is having a bit of an off night. Tough game to lose so thoroughly.
The full run-down follows. I can't believe I stayed up for this.

East Coast Road Trip Misery Loves Company

Since beginning a trip to New York and Philadelphia last Friday, the Brewers have lost 5 of 6 and been outscored 35-28. Their win was a laugher (12-3) against the Mets, and they’ve also been on the wrong end of an ass kicking, 9-1, by the New Yorkies. The Cubs have lost 4 of 6 with the Phillies and Mets and been outscored 33-28. One of their wins was a laugher (10-1) against the Mets, and they’ve also been on the wrong end of an ass-kicking,  8-1, by the Mets.

Draft + Follow Update

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article here about players selected by the Cubs in last June's Rule 4 draft who did not sign at the time, but who will be eligible to be signed up until ten days prior to the '07 June Draft, as long as their team is not involved in NCAA, NAIA, or NCJAA post-season play as of May 28th. These players can be signed under the "Draft+ Follow" rule, and this is the last year for the D+F. (Starting with the 2007 draft, any player not signed by August 15th cannot be signed and goes back into the draft the following June). Well, the Cubs have signed two "Draft+Follow" players they had selected in last June's draft, and they are two of my top four: 3B Jovan Rosa (Lake City CC) and RHP Jordan Latham (College of Southern Idaho).

Game 37 Recap: Cubs 10, Mets 1

A Laugher. (And we were the ones laughing!)

GameCenter Play by Play Box Score Photos Game Chart

W - Zambrano (4-3 ). The fight against high-blood pressure L - Maine (5-1) Important things to take from this game. 1. The Latest Lineup: For two days in a row, Theriot leads off and Soriano hits third. 2. Fontenot's 2007 debut : While I'm sure he is too esoteric of a player and the move too inconsequential for anyone here to have an opinion about it, nonetheless I will point out that he stroked a double in his pinch-hit appearance. 3. Like the title says: It's been a long time since we had a game that was over, early. Let alone, in a good way. 4. Z's return to form. Z had several dominating innings, and several more innings where he successfully avoided potential disasters, the sort of one-bad-inning-to-ruin-a-good-start events that we've seen from him before. He only struck out 3 through 8, and gave up a couple of shots to Shawn Green. But still, it was a great improvement. 5. Ramirez's mammoth grand slam. Aramis hit a tape-measure grand slam to blow the game open in the sixth. You'll be seeing it on the sports highlight show of your choice. And now, for what you really came here for....


Recent comments

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  • I can relate to that, E-Man. I don't think I'll enjoy watching a high-stakes away game like this on TV. I've watched a lot of games this season after they ended or at least after the Cubs got out to a decent lead. Since they usually win, I've gotten to see a lot of baseball.

    But in this case I think we should probably all watch the game live, and not let the pressure exceed the pleasure.

  • Remember, as I told my wife when our kids went off to college -- this is a good thing! Enjoy it!

  • Fully agree -- can't prove it. But, the numbers are what they are, and a lot of his OF games have come in Aug & Sept, when he has been killing the ball otherwise. And, knowing how baseball players love routine, it seems logical that it could at least be a a factor.

    Really, really, really hope I'm wrong on this.

  • Indeed! It has been absolute blast -- from getting swept by the Phillies to sweeping the Giants, I have always enjoyed being part of this group. Hope we have a lot more games to talk about this year.

  • Yes, cheers to me! I've noticed a fairly strong correlation between my tenure and Cubbie victories. 

    And thanks to Michael for our new diggs--and to y'all for sticking around! 

  • CHEERS to CT Steve for keeping this alive in 2015. Who would have thought that the season would have been so successful to this point? Thank you CT STEVE!

    I think I may be too nervous to watch the entire game. I will probably watch in bits and pieces - and constantly check MLB App. I will be like Blockhead: Nervous Nellie.

  • You can't prove the performance is because he played the OF. You just can't. Sorry.

    BTW, Bryant hit .168 in July playing 3B exclusively.

  • oh man, early on it seems like he made at least 1 stupid baserunning blunder per game and almost every single one turned into a positive for the cubs. it was magical.

  • Not surprised about Lester but bit surprised about Hendricks. Guessing that if something happens to Arietta right away they go to Lester but if they've burned relievers and are in extra innings they go to Hendricks.

  • My kids' 8:30pm (ET) bed time will be waived tonight (They are Rizzo & Castro fans). We'll get geared up in our Cubs apparel and will watch this as a family. I am stoked. Go Cubs!

  • Bryant: Base running adventures.

  • Remember Bryant's home-away splits, too.

    Wrigley: 21 HR, 59 RBI, .311/.408/.629
    Road: 5 HR, 40 RBI, .243/.333/.360

  • Good Lord this season has flown by so far. I need more Cubs gifs--the four on the article today are not enough. I need a 100 best moments of the season listicle of gifs.
    Rizzo: The slide, the catch.
    Russell: All the defense.
    Bryant: Pelting the video board.
    Soler: 125 MPH ground balls.
    Schwarber: DINGERS, surprising LF catches.
    Fowler: Walks, the many walks he should have had on 3-2 BS strike calls.
    Baez: That 3B play.
    Ross: Walk-up music? Bullpen appearance?
    Denorfia: Walk-off.
    Castro: Walk-offs.

  • No evidence other than 8 hits and 0 HR in 45 AB....

    I just think hitters like their routines -- think Boggs or Ted Williams -- and messing with that routine adds an element of change. I want my best hitters in their normal routines.

  • evidently i was busy burying context and meaning.

    i was excited about this playoff season kicking up in the drama of that environment, but it was stated insanely muddled.

  • Woke up early and couldn't get back to sleep in excitement/anticipation. Go Cubs Go!