March 2008

It's All About Us: Opening Day 2008 From A Cub Perspective

For an Opening Day loss to a bitter in-division rival in which our ace had to leave the game prematurely, our leadoff man looked overmatched, and our new closer was tagged for three runs in an inning, that was a pretty satisfying game. All the credit goes to you, Kosuke. Thanks.

But former and perhaps future Cubs had a hand in games all across the land, and there were other Cub connections evident on this, the true Opening Day 2008.

Here is a Cub-flavored summary of today's already completed games:


D-Backs 4, Reds 2
.
Dusty loses his first game in the Cincy dugout. Corey Patterson goes
0-for-4, but doesn't strike out. Not once. In the whole game.


Nats 11, Phillies 6
.
Following their one-game home series against the Braves, the Nationals
traveled to Philadelphia to play the Phils. I can't find any way to
connect this game to the Cubs, except for the fact that scheduling a
Cubs-Brewers game in Chicago in late March when there's a perfectly
adequate domed stadium 90 miles north of Chicago is asinine...much like
scheduling the Nationals for a one-game home stand and then sending
them on the road.

Why is the Cubs Injury Calendar marked as "Beta"?

because it's not working right...

There are two known bugs with it currently which are that it will duplicate each "event" or injury as soon as you try and navigate to a new month or change the way you want to view it.

Also, in Internet Explorer, the calendar will get cut-off on occasion.

 

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

Rich Hill Sharp in Final Spring Training Outing

While the rest of his teammates spent the weekend in Las Vegas before heading back to Chicago for Opening Day, Rich Hill remained in Arizona and made his final Spring Training tune-up start versus the Angels' Salt Lake AAA club at the Diablo Park minor league complex in Tempe this morning.

Hill struggled with his control a bit in the 1st and 3rd innings (he walked a batter to load the bases in the bottom of the 3rd and then hit a batter to force-in a run), but he also retired the side in order in the 2nd, 4th, and 5th innings, including the last eight men he faced.

With a mandate from Larry Rothschild to throw between 80 and 90 pitches, Hill ended up throwing exactly 80 pitches (22-14-23-10-11 in innings 1-2-3-4-5, including 50 strikes and 30 balls).

In his five innings of work, the left-hander allowed one run (earned) on three hits, with two walks, four strikeouts, and a HBP, with a 6/5 GB/FB. 

The Last Time... (Cubs Opening Day Edition)

 

"Why, I remember when my father and I used to wake up at 5:30 in the morning and watch the season start in Japan."

--The Onion ("On Baseball's Opening Day")

Has Opening Day lost any of its luster since Major League baseball trash-canned the quaint tradition of starting every season with a single game, played in Cincinnati, the home of the game's first professional team, where the occasion was celebrated with a parade down the city's streets? Is the day less magical now that it has unfolded in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Japan, and the weekday game in the Queen City has given way to a made-for-ESPN event played on Sunday night? Of course it has.

But the thing is, it's still a damn special day on the baseball calendar and in WAY too many of the past 99 Cubs seasons, it has been the one and only day of the season when Cub fans' optimism was in full bloom.

Murton and Other Notes

Two quick notes from Gordon Wittenmeyer...

The Cubs are getting enough interest from other teams in outfielder
Matt Murton that a deal might get done by the end of the weekend to
keep the Cubs from having to send the .296 career hitter to the minors.

They're just making sure no injuries occur today and Murton will most likely be out of here.

The battle between lefties Sean Marshall and Carmen Pignatiello for Eyre's vacated spot is going down to the final day.

Could Lou Piniella Be A Better Manager Than Mike Scioscia And Worse Than Ozzie Guillen?

Absolutely, if you accept the premise behind an analysis in Friday's Wall Street Journal, which ranked 20 big league managers on:

    • Their teams' performance in close games, i.e., games tied through six innings
    • Their teams' won-loss record relative to its projected record based on runs scored and allowed (the "Pythagorean" projection)
    • How players' individual performances improved or declined under various managers, with allowances made for the players' ages

The managers were ranked in each of the three categories, and the ranks were averaged, giving each manager a composite score.

Lahey Claimed off Waivers

It's on the front of Rotoworld, but the Phillies claimed Tim Lahey today off waivers. They'll have to keep him on their 25-man roster all season to keep his rights beyond 2008 without a trade or cash exchanging hands. If he can't stick, he'll go through waivers again, but more likely end up back in the Minnesota Twins organization (if they want him). The Cubs are still owed a player for the Craig Monroe deal from the Minnesota Twins. It's certainly possible that it still might be Tim Lahey, but they'll have to wait for the Phillies to be done with him first.

Cubs Release Former Top Prospect

With Cubs Minor League Camp at Fitch Park ending on Sunday, the rosters for the Cubs four "full-season" minor league clubs (AAA Iowa, AA Tennessee, Hi-A Daytona, and Lo-A Peoria) are just about set.

Several players have been released or demoted over the past couple of days, including former Cubs top prospect Brian Dopirak.

MLB Open Draft Part Deux

A few weeks back, we had our draft for the TCR MLB Open league. We had enough willing participants for a seconds league and their draft was Saturday. I wasn't in this league, but reader "big lowitzki" is and provided me with the draft results. A quick reminder of the rules first:

H2H weekly play

No trades

Set your lineups weekly

Point system (Single = 1, Double = 2, Triple = 3, Home Run = 4, Run = 1, RBI = 1, Walk = 1, Stolen Base = 2, Caught Stealing = -1 )

Draft entire Pitching Staff, not individual pitchers (basically Wins, K's, ERA and WHIP are counted)

That's the basics, so let's see how they drafted.

Former Cub Manager Gomez Critically Injured But Improving

Catching up on day-old news here, but former Cubs manager Preston Gomez was critically injured Wednesday morning when he was struck by a pickup truck in Blythe, California.

The 84-year-old Gomez, who has been a special assistant for the Angels for many years, was on his home from spring training at the time of the accident. Gomez stopped for gas and after refueling his car, "stepped out around the end of the gas pumps and into the path of a large pickup truck," according to the Blythe police.

Hoff-POWER Twice Just Good Enough for Tie

Micah Hoffpauir slugged two home runs to help rally the Cubs from an 8-4 deficit, but then grounded out with the winning run on third with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, leaving the Cubs and Brewers tied at 10 in what was the final Spring Training game for the Cubs in Arizona.

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Gameday Open Thread / Brewers @ Cubs

The Cubs final game in Arizona this spring, as they'll hop on a plane to Vegas to finish off the spring training schedule this weekend versus the Mariners. With the Brewers and Cubs set to play next week, both managers go with minor league pitchers, Cory Bailey versus Mark DiFelice.

Cubs Appear Ripe for "Miracle" Season (in 1984)

No, this isn't a bold Ryan Dempster-like statement about the Cubs 2008 chances. We're going to hop into the DeLorean we have sitting around here at the sprawling TCR headquarters and visit my all-time favorite Cubs team - the 1984 ballcub.


I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who can point to the 1984 Cubs as the reason why they're still Cubs fans today. As a young nine-year old living in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, I had not yet quite sworn my life-debt to either Chicago team. If anything I was leaning towards the White Sox as they had just come off of a successful 1983 season and Dad G. fancied himself more a White Sox fan over the Cubs. Plus me and my brother scored like 8 White Sox helmets on a giveaway day the year before and that was kind of cool.

Then 1984 hit and the Cubs-love swept through Chicago. The mix of the "Daily Double", WGN, Harry Caray and being able to catch the end of most Cubs homes games right when I got home for school was enough to sway me to the Northsiders.

But, this piece isn't about my reasons for being a Cubs fan, rather about one man's bold prediction.

More On The Newest Cub, Reed Johnson

So the Cubs' Extra Righthanded-Hitting Outfielder spinner stopped and it landed on...former Toronto Blue Jay, Reed Johnson. The Cubs signed the 31-year-old Johnson to a one-year contract on Tuesday, in time for Johnson to make his Cactus League debut this afternoon against the Giants. (He went 2-for-5.)

Cherry Pie at HoHoKam

Felix Pie went 3-3 with a bunt single, a double, a triple, and a sac bunt, leading the Cubs to a 7-6 victory over the Texas Rangers before a capacity crowd at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon in sunny Mesa.

The Cubs and Rangers were tied 6-6 entering the bottom of the 9th. Facing Rangers reliever Robinson Tejada, Mark DeRosa struck out swinging and Henry Blanco lined out to short to start the inning, but then Pie smoked a triple into the right-centerfield alley, setting up a chance for Eric Patterson to be the hero. And that he was, as E-Pat lined a game-winning single into center, scoring a hand-clapping Pie from 3rd with the winning run.

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Cubs Headlines

site: 

Gameday Open Thread / Rangers @ Cubs

Ryan Dempster takes the mound today to celebrate his appointment to the starting rotation. The Rangers counter with lefty Kason Gabbard.

In site news, I've added the TCR blogroll  which you can access via Quick Links on the left sidebar or under TCR Junk Drawer up top. I'm sure I missed a few Cubs blogs, so drop me a note if you want yours added.

Cubs Announce Rotation and Closer

As promised, Lou Piniella announced the rotation and closer duties today. After going on back-to-back days, Kerry Wood apparently woke up still able to move and will be the Cubs closer to start the year. When he eventually goes on the disabled list this season, Carlos Marmol or Bob Howry should be able to step right in.

Quantum Broglio

I have always wondered that if someone could make a minor change here and there to the timeline, how different being a Cub fan might be. Cub history is littered with so many momentary adverse events that with an occasional tweak, the one hundred year World Series drought would never have been an issue. With just a little help from Mr. Peabody and the Wayback Machine--voilà: Lee Smith throws a different pitch to Garvey, Leon Durham bends just a little lower to field that grounder or Alex Gonzalez actually turns that 8th inning double play.

Here’s a time-warped tale of modern day Orthopedics coming to the Cubs rescue! In order to tell the story of the World Series Shuffle, I went to one of my favorite TV programs of the 1990’s and discovered there were missing episodes in the archives.

QUANTUM LEAP – The Chicago Cubs Episode

Cubs Rally to Tie White Sox in 10th

The Cubs rallied for three runs in the bottom of the 10th to tie the score, but the winning run was left stranded at 3rd, as the White Sox and Cubs played to an 8-8 Selig Special at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon in sunny and warm Mesa.

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  • If he puts up Soriano numbers I will be ecstatic

    jacos 32 min 12 sec ago view
  • I think Javy is learning--but he's learning to make contact, not learning to lay off pitches out of the zone. A quick glance at his plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs shows that his contact rate is up, especially his contact rate out of the zone, but his swing rate is up too, especially his swing rate out of the zone.

    Charlie 1 hour 6 min ago view
  • I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.

    Charlie 1 hour 20 min ago view
  • They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?

    QuietMan 2 hours 44 min ago view
  • Regarding Heyward--

    He'll play regardless of what he does, just like Soriano played for seven years before they finally ditched him.

    What can they do? All I can think of is they can keep hiring and firing hitting coaches until they find one who can get him to stop hitting balls with the handle of the bat.

    (All those broken bats added to his paycheck is just a bit much.)

    VirginiaPhil 2 hours 44 min ago view
  • Lester will probably be all right.

    I think Arrieta might have added too much muscle preparing for that butt-naked ESPN photo shoot. Pitchers are supposed to be loose, not muscled up.

    Seriously.

    VirginiaPhil 2 hours 51 min ago view
  • I have basically written off Heyward for this year -- if you are working on major swing changes in late July, you are going to struggle. Hopefully, he can be more productive at the plate next year. It will be interesting to see what they do with him if the Cardinals keep winning and close the gap. Heyward is dead last in the NL in slugging and in the bottom 5 in OPS -- yet still has a positive WAR. Hunh.

    billybucks 2 hours 54 min ago view
  • Has anybody in a Cub uniform ever thrown a ball 103 before?

    VirginiaPhil 2 hours 58 min ago view
  • He certainly looks better, no doubt, and is a different player than what we saw when he first came up. Full credit to him for changing his approach and saving his career.

    But he has zero walks in 35AB since the break, and 10 in 251 AB all year. He does seem to be able to hit some pitches out of the zone, but, a guy with his pop should be drawing more walks. However, it's easy to forget he is still only 23, and probably trying to make an impact to prove he should be an everyday player.

    billybucks 3 hours 7 min ago view
  • The usual suspects, Molina and Wong. Gyorko drew a walk with two outs, none on. I recall us (particularly Szczur and Bryant) swinging at everything Familia threw.

    VirginiaPhil 3 hours 9 min ago view
  • Yup. Thanks Q

    The E-Man 3 hours 14 min ago view
  • QuietMan 3 hours 22 min ago view
  • I for one hope that Sosa comes back soon.

    Rob Richardson 3 hours 42 min ago view
  • O/B interesting you should mention that. Google ESPN Science Aroldis Chapman and you'll be treated to how his mechanics and delivery are possibly historic. It's the 120% of his body stretch plus the torque. They compare him to the Unit and NRyan.

    The E-Man 4 hours 20 min ago view
  • Amazing how much lower the production gets when Bryant runs into a mini-cold streak. He doesn't stay cold for long. If just one of Zobrist or, gulp, Heyward, gets hot, they oughta have one more really nice winning streak in them. Having a closer that you have absolute confidence in can't hurt.

    Old and Blue 5 hours 4 min ago view
  • I hope they hold onto Jimenez. Outfield depth is questionable, especially with McKinney, who struggled this year but still, gone.

    Old and Blue 5 hours 15 min ago view