April 2008

TCR Friday Notes

- As one astute reader noticed - replacing the big bat of Alfonso Soriano with Mike Fontenot has all the makings of replacing Derrek Lee's bat in 2006 with Neifi Perez. After today's showing, it's hard to see if Eric Patterson is much better.. But with two lefties scheduled after today, I think it's time to (wait for it)....Free Matt Murton!

- A quick shout-out to a new member of the Cubs Blog Army. One of our readers has started Harry and Hawk, which covers both Chicago baseball teams. You can stop by and read half the articles.

Some site notes after the jump...

10 Questions with Steve Holley

Last year we did 19 questions with Inside the Ivy's Steve Holley. Due to budget cuts and the recession, we paired it down to 10 this year. You can find a list of their top 20 Cubs prospects either here or here.


1. Let's start right at the top, you named Tyler Colvin as the Cubs top prospect. What position do you think he'll end up playing in the majors and how worried should I be about that Ryan Harvey-esque 4:875:1 K/BB ratio

There has always been a good deal of emphasis placed on the strikeouts totals of low to mid-level minor league players. But if you want a player to develop into the type of hitter that Colvin projects as (lets say 20-25 HR potential), you are more often than not going to have to accept that strikeouts come with the territory. That doesn’t mean that Colvin is content with striking out. Working to lower them has always been at the top of his priority list, and toward the end of last season, he made a few adjustments in his approach that seemed to help him see more pitches and get into some good counts.

I believe he’s capable of playing any of the three outfield positions (though center is most ideal), but where he ends up may depend a lot on what Felix Pie does, or perhaps what the organization decides to do with Pie. On an unrelated note, Colvin got a little behind the eight-ball in spring training with a nagging elbow problem toward the end of his stint in big league camp. That could explain his slow start this season.

Game 15 Thread / Reds @ Cubs (3 of 3)

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Edinson Volquez SP *Ted Lilly
  1-0, 0.87, 9 K, 5 BB
0-2, 9.95, 8 K, 4 BB
       
CF Norris Hopper 2B *Mike Fontenot
2B Ryan Freel SS Ryan Theriot
RF *Ken Griffey Jr. 1B Derrek Lee
LF *Adam Dunn 3B Aramis Ramirez
SS Jeff Keppinger RF *Kosuke Fukudome
3B Edwin Encarnacion LF Mark DeRosa
1B *Joey Votto CF Reed Johnson
C *Paul Bako C Henry Blanco
P
Edinson Volquez P *Ted Lilly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, you didn't think this Lou vs. Dusty stuff was over? I mean, I made a graphic afterall, I need to get some mileage out of it. The Cubs go for the sweep and a win today means the Reds season is over.

(Rumbling from the crowd)

Oh...you say it's just April? Alright, well if the Cubs were about to get swept I'm fairly certain that at least one person in the comments would say that our season is over. But for all intent and purposes, as long as Dusty Baker believes that Corey Patterson is a legitimate major league lead-off hitter, the Reds season is over.

Step on their throats, Cubs!

Morning Rant

I wasn't around much for yesterday's festivities, so let me get a few things off my chest. I realize the Cubs have won three straight and eight of their last ten and I should probably just shut-up, but this sh** is bugging me.

- The "hop" that Soriano does before he catches a flyball is kinda lame. Then of course, I have a hard time relating to anyone who could drive a car like this. Lame as it is, it didn't create his calf strain and I'm not just saying that because the Cubs are in full-press denial mode. You can just look at the highlights of it. Soriano didn't leap more than six inches off the ground and landed just fine; he didn't roll his ankle or overextend his knee or anything. Whatever the problem was, it was already there and if it didn't happen on that play, it certainly would have the next time he ran out a ground ball or slid into a bag.

But if makes him stop leaping like one of the seven lords, then by all means, it was the "hop" that caused it.

EXST Cubs Rally to Beat A's, Eyre Throws "Live" BP

Some of you might be happy to know this, but more might not be...

Scott Eyre, on the DL since the last week of Spring Training with a sore elbow, has progressed beyond just throwing side sessions in the bullpen. While the EXST Cubs were playing the EXST A's on Fitch Park Field #3, Eyre threw a 25-pitch "live" BP session on Field #2 to some of the Cub position players who were not in the starting lineup of the EXST game.

Game 14 Thread / Reds @ Cubs (2 of 3)

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Josh Fogg SP Carlos Zambrano
  1-1, 7.00, 6 K, 3 BB 1-1, 3.20, 18 K, 2 BB
       
CF *Corey Patterson 2B *Mike Fontenot
SS Jeff Keppinger SS Ryan Theriot
RF *Ken Griffey 1B Derrek Lee
2B Brandon Phillips 3B Aramis Ramirez
LF *Adam Dunn RF *Kosuke Fukudome
3B Edwin Encarnacion LF Mark DeRosa
1B *Joey Votto C Geovany Soto
C #Javier Valentin CF Reed Johnson
P
Josh Fogg P #Carlos Zambrano

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As reported by the Trib's Paul Sullivan, the Soriano-less Cubs will have Mike Fontenot leading off, Mark DeRosa will be manning left field, and Eric Patterson will be in the wings. (This will be the first time in Fontenot's Major League career he has been penciled into the leadoff spot.)

As for E-Pat, he was hitting just .222 at Triple-A, with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 12 K/3 BB in 36 at-bats for the I-Cubs. He stole one base.

Tonight's head-scratchers and eye-openers:

The Ides of April

Déjà Vu all over again, Alfonso? For the second time in two years during mid April, Cubs star left fielder Alsonso Soriano injured a leg.

Last year he missed just a week from a mild left hamstring strain on April 16th. He returned to the lineup by April 22nd but was limited in his running as well as his outfield play for a few weeks after that injury.

Live from N'awlins

I just wanted to give a shout out to our friends at Inside the Ivy. Steve Holley is going to be live blogging from the Iowa Cubs game in New Orleans. This isn't your normal live blog though, as he'll be using "Cover it Live" so that readers can submit questions as the game goes on. Scout.com is usually subscription-based, but they're opening this one up for everyone, so head on over and get your questions answered on the Triple-A Cubs.

Bigger Than "The Thrilla In Manilla" or "The Rumble In The Jungle," It's "The Reunion At Wrigley!"

Do you remember that supercharged night back in 1999 when former Cub manager Jim Lefebvre, then manager of the Brewers, returned to Wrigley Field for the first time as skipper of another club, in a much anticipated showdown with Jim Riggleman?

I don't either.

But Johnnie B. Baker, Jr., is no Jim Lefebvre, and Lou Piniella is no Jim Riggleman. These guys are managerial heavyweights, and as much as Baker and Piniella claim there is nothing special about Baker's return to Wrigley beside the fact that both the Reds and Cubs will be trying to get a leg up on an NL Central rival, we all know much, much better.

Here, then, is a comparison to help you distinguish the combatants:

Cubs Mao-Down Team China at Fitch Park

The normally light-hitting Jose Made drove in six runs with two RBI triples and a Grand Slam homer, and Chad Fox and five other pitchers combined to throw a two-hit shutout, as the EXST Cubs (Boise group) probably created an international incident, drubbing Team China 11-0 at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning. 

While the more-advanced EXST Cubs (Boise group) were playing Team China on Field #3, the less-advanced EXST Cubs (AZL Mesa group) faced the EXST Giants on Field #2, and dropped a 4-3 decision in 11 innings.

It was not easy watching both games simultaneously, but I managed to do it without missing a pitch in either game, thanks in no small part to eleven cups of coffee, a bottle of amphetamines, and a strong bladder. 

Cubs Hits Of The Week (For the Week of 4/7 through 4/13)

The five hits that did the most to enhance the Cubs' chance of winning during the past, exhausting, extra-inning-filled week, as measured by FanGraphs' Win Probability Added (WPA):


#5 Big Hit:
Sunday v. Philadelphia, 3rd inning--Derrek Lee socked a two-run double off 67-year-old Jamie Moyer to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead they would eventually surrender. WPA .182

Cubs Week In Quotations

Male Bonding...

"We can bond a little bit on this road trip. And you've got a chance to catch up a little on rest with [mostly] night games."

Lou Piniella on the road trip


That's What She Said..

"For me, it's been better when it happens quick, because I don't have time to sit and think about it."

Kerry Wood on closing


Steady, Non-Essential, Low-Leverage Work


"We'll use him behind in the score if we have to. We'll find spots for him to work. We'll get him steady work. That's the important thing, steady work."

- Lou Piniella on Bob Howry's new role

Game 12 Thread / Cubs @ Philllies (3 of 3)

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Jason Marquis SP *Jamie Moyer
  0-0, 6.75, 2 K, 1 BB 1-0, 4.66, 4 K, 4 BB
       
LF Alfonso Soriano RF *Geoff Jenkins
CF Reed Johnson CF Jayson Werth
1B Derrek Lee 2B *Chase Utley
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Ryan Howard
RF *Kosuke Fukudome LF Pat Burrell
2B Mark DeRosa 3B Pedro Feliz
SS Ryan Theriot C Chris Coste
C Henry Blanco SS Eric Bruntlett
P
*Jason Marquis P *Jamie Moyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marquis was bypassed in the rotation on Friday because of a strep throat. His only 2008 appearance was last Saturday, when he pitched 5 1/3 very bumpy innings against the Astros (8 hits, a walk and 4 ER). He's 4-3, 4.64 lifetime against the Phils and beat them last year in his only start against Philly since joining the Cubs.

Moyer pitched for Lou Piniella's Seattle teams and went 98-48 between 1996 and 2002. He actually had two stints with the Cubs. After they released him in the spring of '92, the Cubs were kind enough to offer him a coaching job within the organization.

He has gone on to win 197 Major League games since then.

Game 11 Thread / Cubs @ Phillies (2 of 3)

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Ted Lilly SP *Cole Hamels
  0-1, 9.72, 5 K, 2 BB 1-1, 1.20, 10 K, 5 BB
       
LF Alfonso Soriano CF #Shane Victorino
CF Reed Johnson RF Jayson Werth
1B Derrek Lee 2B *Chase Utley
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Ryan Howard
C Geovany Soto LF Pat Burrell
RF Mark DeRosa 3B Pedro Feliz
2B Ronny Cedeno C Carlos Ruiz
SS Ryan Theriot SS Eric Bruntlett
P
*Ted Lilly P *Cole Hamels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lilly is coming off his shortest outing as a Cub, that is, in games that weren't meaningless end-of-season affairs or didn't involve his getting a quick thumb from the home plate umpire. In Monday's game, you'll recall, the Cubs staked Lilly to a 7-0 lead, then the lefty couldn't make it out of the fourth inning. Eventually the Cubs won 10-8 in 12 innings. Thank God for Jon Lieber and Evan Meek.

From the cubs.com report about the outing:

Petrick Rehab Progressing Onward at Fitch

Luke Sommer slammed an RBI triple to left-center to drive in the first run in the 4th, Josh Vitters lined a game-tying RBI single to right in the 6th and Nelson Perez hammered a game-winning bases-loaded triple down the right-field line in the 8th, as the EXST Cubs defeated the EXST Angels 5-2 at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning.

Billy Petrick got the start for the EXST Cubs, throwing a shutout/hitless inning in what could be one of his final rehab outings before he is ready to join the AAA Iowa Cubs.

Although he struggled a bit with his command (16 pitches, only eight strikes), Petrick seemed to throw the ball with better velocity than he did his last time out on Thursday. 

TCR Friday Notes

...Friday's game thread is below...

- As you've probably heard by now, the Cubs received 25-year old outfielder/first basemen Doug Deeds from the Twins today as the PTBNL in the Craig Monroe deal. A ninth-round selection of the Twins in 2002, the lefty was an honorable mention on John Sickels top 20 Twins prospects before 2007, but didn't make the cut in 2008 after a rough year in AAA. His scouting report on Scout.com before the 2007 season sure had some encourging notes:

Deeds is one of the more polished hitters in
the Twins’ organization, and each year he seems to grow at the plate.
He has the ability to hit to all fields, and has shown the ability to
hit at every level he has played at during his Minor League career.

Deeds is a great defensive outfielder, and
should have a future as an everyday corner outfielder in some
organization, hopefully the Twins. He makes all the plays in right
field, and has a tremendous arm that enables him to scare potential
base runners from advancing a base. He uses good closing speed to get
to balls that most outfielders do not get to, and has had his fair
share of outfield assists throughout his Minor League career.

His career line is still a solid 291/374/463 and hopefully a change of scenery will benefit him. I imagine he'll be headed Mike Wellman's way and on to Iowa.

Sightseeing on the Pacific Coast Highway...


...350 miles west of Chicago on I-80, Mike Wellman keeps tabs on the Iowa Cubs in the PCL...


Living here in Des Moines I've always gotten a kick out of the local team playing in the Pacific Coast League. I guess that makes the portion of the 'road to Wrigley' that runs through here the Pacific Coast Highway. Here's my dispatch after the season's first homestand.

Of the eight games scheduled four were lost to opponents, three were lost to Mother Nature [one of which was reclaimed as the front end of a day/night doubleheader] and two went into the win column.

The team now heads to Nashville for a four-game set with the [micro] Brewers as the I-Cubs and Sounds resume their subsidiary version of the growing rivalry between Chicago and Milwaukee.

It's hard to glean much from the limited six-game sample, very little of which was played in conditions conducive to baseball, but here are some early trends that will bear watching as the season unfolds:

Tags: 

Game 9 Open Thread / Cubs @ Pirates (3 of 3)

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP *Rich Hill SP Matt Morris
  0-0, 3.00, 4 K, 3 BB 0-0, 5.40, 2 K, 2 BB
       
LF Alfonso Soriano CF *Nate McLouth
2B *Mike Fontenot 2B Freddy Sanchez
1B Derrek Lee LF Jason Bay
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Adam LaRoche
RF *Kosuke Fukudome RF Xavier Nady
C Geovany Soto C Ronny Paulino
SS Ryan Theriot 3B Jose Bautista
CF *Felix Pie SS Brian Bixler
P
*Rich Hill P Matt Morris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After 27 innings of baseball in two games, I think the Cubs should just get credit for the third game and call it a sweep. It is three full games of baseball afterall.

Lou thought about switching up the rotation a bit and giving Marquis the start tonight, but he was still feeling the effects of the flu. So Rich Hill stays in his spot and as long as the rain stays away, I'm sure there's not a happier guy in Pennsylvania right now. Hill, a flyball pitcher, gets the cozy left field dimensions of PNC Park and the punchless Pirates instead of the hitter-happy Citizens Bank Park and the powerhouse Phillies lineup.

Rehabbin' Petrick Gets Some Game Action

Like the MLB regular season, there is a rhythm to Extended Spring Training.

Players get Sundays off, play games versus the EXST squads from other organizations on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and Thursday is "Camp Day." 

Game 8 Thread / Cubs @ Pirates (2 of 3)

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Ryan Dempster SP *Zach Duke
  1-0, 1.50, 5 K, 2 BB 0-0, 3.18, 1 K, 1 BB
       
LF Alfonso Soriano CF *Nate McLouth
CF Reed Johnson 2B Freddy Sanchez
1B Derrek Lee LF Jason Bay
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Adam LaRoche
RF *Kosuke Fukudome RF Xavier Nady
2B Mark DeRosa C #Ryan Doumit
C Geovany Soto 3B Jose Bautista
SS Ronny Cedeno SS Brian Bixler
P
Ryan Dempster P *Zach Duke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's true--the Cubs are unbeaten this season in games started by Ryan Dempster and Jason Marquis. (I know, we're talking about two games, but still, I'm pleasantly surprised.)

Chad Fox Rehab Full Speed Ahead

Chad Fox continued his active rehab,,throwing 1.1 IP (four up, four down) in today's Extended Spring Training game versus the Brewers EXST team on Fitch Park Field #3.

Fox looked sharp, striking out the first two men he faced and getting the last two on 5-3 ground-outs.

The 37-year old right-hander was signed to a minor league contract by the Cubs last January and received and NRI to Spring Training, but pitched in only one Cactus League game before being shut-down with a sore elbow. 

He had missed most of the previous two seasons after retiring in April 2006 with what he thought was an elbow problem that turned out be just scar tissue from a previous surgery.    

While there is clearly no room for him in the Cubs' bullpen (at this time), he is probably getting close to the point where he can be assigned to a full-season club, probably AAA Iowa. 

It's also possible that the Cubs have promised Fox that if he is not added to their 25-man roster by a certain date (like maybe May 1st or June 1st), that he will be free to make his own deal elsewhere (see Rod Beck circa 2003).   

This Little Piggy Went to Iowa

Sean Marshall was supposed to start for the Iowa Cubs tonight against Albuquerque in Des Moines. Instead he's on his way to Pittsburgh, exchanging roster spots with Carmen Pignatiello. Apparently Lou Piniella huffed and puffed and blew 'Piggy' back to the minors after the southpaw showed his appreciation for making the big club by walking both hitters he faced in Monday's 10-8 torture tilt.

Closure For Billy Buck?

Former Cub Bill Buckner threw out the first pitch before the Red Sox home opener Tuesday against the Tigers. In a tearful press conference--lot of that going around this week--Buckner said he had finally been able to forgive the media for the brutal treatment he and his family had received following Buckner's fateful error in Game Six of the Sox' 1986 World Series loss to the Mets.

For a whole generation of fans, Buckner's connection to that Mookie Wilson-hit ground ball has obscured the fact that the guy was a terrific baseball player. The onetime Dodger played seven full seasons on the North Side after the Cubs had acquired him and Ivan DeJesus in a January, 1977 trade for Rick Monday.

The All-Time Greatest Surprise Cubs Killers

A few of you were unimpressed by my previous post by telling me that it should be expected that the top hitters in the game were also the top hitters versus the Cubs. A fair assessment...

So who were the most unexpected Cubs killers? In other words, who saved their best to drive some nails in the Cubs' coffins? Reader "big_lowitzki" did the research for us and provided me with the list.

The All-Time Greatest Cubs Killers

After Carlos Lee beat up the Cubbies again this weekend with a 5 for 12 series, a homer and couple of RBI's (pretty low-key for him), I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the all-time biggest Cubs killers. So thanks to some of the wonderful tools over at Baseball Musings, I looked at which players had the highest all-time OPS while facing the Cubs with at least 350 Plate Appearances. Their database only goes back to 1957 as well.

TCR Donation Drive

So we've escaped the clutches of MVN, poked fun at Sam Zell's misguided attempt to sell naming rights to Wrigley Field and we have Arizona Phil. You're probably asking yourself right now, how can I help support this amazing website and make sure it lasts longer than Jason Marquis will as a Cub? Well, you can dress up in a Cubbie Bear costume, put on a sandwich board that says "Visit the best Cubs site on the web, THECUBREPORTER.COM" and stand outside Wrigley Field during each game of the next homestand. Be sure to get pictures if you do indeed go that route. We suspect that might not be your style, so if you're looking for a simpler alternative, you can just send us a bit of pocket change.

We're starting a little donation drive this month and we hope all that can help us out, will take a moment to do just that. This site did cost us a bit out of our own pockets to get started and now we have expenses such as domain names, server costs, Parachat and potential lawyer fees when the AngelFan Wife finally gets fed up with me burying my nose in a laptop. We'll take whatever you can scrounge up from the bottom of your couch cushions, whether it's a dollar or forty (or more if you have really deep couch cushions). If you're looking for a little guidance on an appropriate amount, if we could get 100 people to donate $20 each, that should cover our costs for the year (including Parachat) and leave a little left over for site improvements and advertising. We're even offereing some wonderful gifts to the top givers.

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