April 2008

So Far, So-So...

Four games into their season-opening eight game homestand the Iowa Cubs are off to a sputtering 1-3 start.

THE GOOD NEWS: Both Seans [Marshall and Gallagher], Neal Cotts, Eric Patterson and Matt Murton.

THE BAD NEWS: Micah Hoffpauir, Sam Fuld and Matt Murton.

Marshall started the opener and retired all nine batters he faced, six of them on strikes, as he pitch-counts his way back from an ill-advised audition for a spot in the Chicago bullpen.

Cubs Hits Of The Week (For The Week Ending 4/5)

The five hits that did the most to enhance the Cubs' chance of winning this week, as measured by FanGraphs' Win Probability Added (WPA):


#5 Big Hit:
Saturday v. Houston, 3rd inning--Derrek Lee cracks a solo home run off Roy Oswalt to tie the Astros, 2-2. Lee would later employ his game-tying skills to more good use. (See #4 Big Hit.) WPA .120

Cubs Week in Quotations

A few years back, TCR brought you "Cubs Week in Quotations"...we know you missed it.

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Before we get down to business, time to honor our past
"It's the best. This is the epitome of American
life to be able to have this honor bestowed upon me; think about that.
Just me. And when I'm no longer here, I'll still be here. It's amazing.
This is amazing to me."
-Ernie Banks

"It's a miracle that I made it from there to here. When I had my number retired, I thought it was the
greatest honor because it was the first number ever retired by this
franchise. It will still be there 100 years from now, and that's how I
feel about this statue. I know it'll be here 100 years from now. It's a
miracle. But it is proof that if you find satisfaction in your life,
miracles can happen."
-Ernie Banks

"What apostrophe?"
- Sculptor Lou Cella responding to his grammatical error on the Ernie Banks statue

Game 6 Recap: Cubs 3, Astros 2

Up to .500

 

 

W - Zambrano (1-0), outfield arms, broad strike zones, Derrek Lee
L - Villarreal (0-2), Budweiser shills
S - Wood (3), the home-stand

 

Things to Take from This Game

 

1. Cubs pitchers cruise
Zambrano
pitched 7 relatively strong innings with 7 Ks and 2 ER. His worst
trouble came in the first, which began with runners at 2nd and 3rd
before Erstad struck out and Lee flew into a 7-2 DP, with Soriano
nailing Bourn at the plate. Cubs pitchers didn't allow a walk,
and Zambrano cruised through the middle third of the game with 9
straight outs. No one reached base against Marmol or Wood in the
8th and 9th

 

2. Derrek Lee is crushing the ball
Lee
finally made an out, and even that was a lined shot that might have
cleared the wall on another day. His go-ahead home run off of
Villarreal was hit about as hard as a person can hit a ball.
Everything is getting smokback up the middle of the field.

 

3. Soriano helps out
Soriano's
throw home in the top of the first was perfect.  He also hit one out,
just scraping over the basket in the left field wall to give the Cubs a
2-1 lead. Hopefully it's the start of better days ahead.

 

After a shakey start to the homestand, we at least walk into Pittsburgh as a 3-3 team. Details below.

 

Tags: 

Game 5 Recap: Cubs 9, Astros 7

It's... It's.... It's.....
Cubs Game Recaps!

W-
Hart (1-0), the Lees, extra-base hits
L- Oswalt (0-1), relief pitchers
S- Wood (2), hope for this homestand

Things to Take from This Game


1. No easy innings

Other than the sixth
and the half-inning ninth, no inning went without someone scoring a
run. Marquis struggled through five and a third, featuring
rolling sliders and fastballs that kept moving back over the plate, but
getting out of potentially disasterous innings with 3 GIDPs.
Oswalt gave up ten hits and a walk without striking anyone out in six
and two-thirds.

2. The Lees

Derrek
and Carlos combined for seven hits, five runs, four rbis, three
doubles, two home runs, and awful defense. Derrek dropped a ball
at first that started a 2-run sixth inning for the Astros. Carlos
Lee wandered about aimlessly in left field, occasionally drawing stray
baseballs closer to him by virtue of his gravitational field.

3. More love for Fukudome

KF's
day featured a fine running catch, a bunt single that surprised the
whole ball-park, and the go-ahead, two-run double in the five-run
seventh inning.

4. Then, there's Soriano...

Whose 0-5 with 5 LOB day leaves him with a .045 average to start the year.

That je ne se qua of mine that you didn't know you missed until you saw it again, the dinge an sich goodness inherent in a recap, below

 

Tags: 

Game 5 Thread / Astros @ Cubs (2 of 3)

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Roy Oswalt SP Jason Marquis
(2008) 0-1, 5.06, 6 K, 1 BB (2007) 12-9, 4.60
       
CF *Michael Bourn LF Alfonso Soriano
RF Hunter Pence CF Reed Johnson
1B #Lance Berkman 1B Derrek Lee
LF Carlos Lee 3B Aramis Ramirez
SS Miguel Tejada RF *Kosuke Fukudome
3B Ty Wigginton 2B Mark DeRosa
2B Mark Loretta C Geovany Soto
C Brad Ausmus SS Ryan Theriot
P
Roy Oswalt P *Jason Marquis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here's where we are:

The Cubs need to win a game started by Roy Oswalt or be assured of having lost the season's first two series, at home, to division rivals Milwaukee and Houston.

Yeeech!

The good news is, the Cubs have had at least a few productive offensive games against Oswalt (11-10, 3.97 lifetime v. Cubs), which is more than they can say about their encounters with Chris Sampson.

Game 4 Thread / Astros @ Cubs (1 of 3)

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Chris Sampson SP Rich Hill
(2007) 7-8, 4.59 (2007) 11-8, 3.92
       
CF *Michael Bourn LF Alfonso Soriano
RF Hunter Pence SS Ryan Theriot
1B #Lance Berkman 1B Derrek Lee
LF Carlos Lee 3B Aramis Ramirez
SS Miguel Tejada RF *Kosuke Fukudome
3B Ty Wigginton 2B Mark DeRosa
2B Mark Loretta C Geovany Soto
C J.R. Towles CF *Felix Pie
P
Chris Sampson P *Rich Hill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Profiling the Astros:

TCR Friday Notes (presented by OfficeMax)

we kid...we kid.

Soto gets knocked over by Weeks
Observations from the first three games:

  • A bad idea is a bad idea and I'm glad Lou doesn't take 20 games to come to these conclusions. Theriot batting leadoff was just never a good idea and Soriano batting second is even a worse idea. Soriano doesn't have the patience or bat control needed for that spot and Theriot doesn't get on nearly enough that it's going to help the teams bottom line - scoring runs. Kudos to Lou to for the willingness to admit his mistake quickly and moving on just as quickly.
  • Has Geovany Soto been listening to Henry Blanco or did he dust-off a copy of "Michael Barrett's Defensive Drills for Catchers"? It's never good when between you and Jason Kendall, Kendall looks like the better defensive backstop.
  • While legal, Weeks took one heckuva cheap shot at Soto. I'm not sure if Weeks was just angry at getting plunked a few times, but he's made a career of getting hit by pitches, so he needs to get over it quick. As for the play itself, the ball wasn't all that close to Soto and it wouldn't have taken any effort by Weeks to go around him. I'm frankly shocked that the Cubs didn't retaliate later in the game. On the other hand, we needed the win pretty badly and maybe it's best to save that for down the road.
  • This Fukudome character is pretty good.

Game 2 Thread / Brewers @ Cubs (2 of 3)

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Jeff Suppan SP Ted Lilly
(2007) 12-12, 4.62 (2007) 15-8, 3.83
       
2B Rickie Weeks SS Ryan Theriot
CF Gabe Kapler LF Alfonso Soriano
1B *Prince Fielder 1B Derrek Lee
LF Ryan Braun 3B Aramis Ramirez
3B Bill Hall RF *Kosuke Fukudome
RF Corey Hart 2B Mark DeRosa
SS JJ Hardy C Geovany Soto
P Jeff Suppan CF *Felix Pie
C
Jason Kendall P *Ted Lilly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sun is shining over Lakeview, The Cub Reporter made it through April Fool's Day without hearing from a single corporate attorney, and the Cubs are only one game out of first. A good day to be alive.

Fukudome's First Was Fabulous, But He's No Kaz Matsui


Kosuke Fukudome's Cub debut
was so riveting Monday afternoon, it was almost enough to distract from Kerry Wood's ninth-inning failure and the larger disappointment of losing the opener to the Brewers.

But terrific as it was, Fukudome's plate performance didn't quite match up to what one of his countrymen, Kaz Matsui, did when he first took the field for the Mets four years ago. On that evening, Matsui slugged the first pitch in his Major League career 429 feet, well over the center field fence in Atlanta's Turner Field, and set his new team off on a 7-2 season-opening victory. In addition to the homer, Matsui ripped a pair of doubles and walked twice, so he reached base five times in five PA's.

Given the way Matsui eventually stunk up New York, it could be argued that his Met career went straight downhill following that first game.

In any case, here's a review of the most prominent Japanese hitters to cross the Pacific and how they fared in their first regular season games on American soil:

Contest Winners

Enough with the April Fool's Day hijinx, time to hand out some prizes from some of our past contests.

MLB '08: The Show PS3 Giveaway

It was a simple 6 question contest with a tiebreaker and three folks got all six correct, with another six getting five correct answers. Unfortunately I only have five games to give as prizes, so it came down to the tiebreaker for those who got five correct. Before I reveal the winners, the correct answers:

More Sponsorship News

Christian here (well, sort of -- more on that in a sec). I was supposed to wait until later this afternoon to announce this, but I had to jump the gun a bit and I hope the other writers don't mind. When the Motorola deal was announced, Rob hinted at other sponsorship deals, some of which have already been mentioned.

Take a second and check out the "Our Writers" page, and then come on back. I'll wait.

Tags: 

The Cub Reporter Presented by Motorola®

Check out that headline...thanks to the hard work of Cubnut, we've struck a sponsorship deal with Motorola. As far as we know, it's the first of its kind. We actually need to still cross a few T's and dot a few I's on the final deal, but we felt the off-day was the perfect time to make the announcement. We realize the whole thing is a little unorthodox and some folks will call us sellouts. That's fine, we'll accept the criticism knowing that this will be better for the site in the long run.

The deal is pretty simple, in exchange to referring to ourselves as "The Cub Reporter Presented by Motorola®" or "TCR Presented by Motorola®", Motorola backs up the Brink truck and gives us a bunch of cash to run the site. And of course, like any sponsorship deal, Motorola gets their name and logo plastered on the site.

Tags: 

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The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.
  • Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]

    Eric S 14 min 23 sec ago view
  • ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.

    cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/

    crunch 48 min 25 sec ago view
  • HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC. 

    Arizona Phil 3 hours 44 min ago view
  • ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels. 

    M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores)  the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating. 

    Arizona Phil 3 hours 47 min ago view
  • E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.  

    Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).  

    Arizona Phil 3 hours 57 min ago view
  • PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.

    The E-Man 4 hours 39 min ago view
  • AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.

    Hagsag 9 hours 25 min ago view
  • Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!

    Hagsag 9 hours 26 min ago view
  • Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.

    Eric S 19 hours 7 min ago view
  • With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.

    johann 22 hours 5 min ago view
  • it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.

    crunch 22 hours 17 min ago view
  • It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.

    Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.

    The E-Man 22 hours 26 min ago view
  • That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.

    I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.

    Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...

    These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.

    No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.

    The E-Man 22 hours 31 min ago view
  • a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...

    it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...

    crunch 22 hours 50 min ago view
  • Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.

    johann 23 hours 26 min ago view
  • Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.

    johann 23 hours 43 min ago view