June 2008

Game 83 Thread / Cubs @ Giants (1 of 4)

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SP *Ted Lilly SP *Barry Zito
  5-8, 5.40, 95 K, 36 BB, 98.2 IP
3-11, 5.91, 44 K, 48 BB, 80.2 IP
RF *Kosuke Fukudome LF *Fred Lewis
SS Ryan Theriot 3B Jose Castillo
1B Derrek Lee RF #Randy Winn
C Geovany Soto C Bengie Molina
3B Mark DeRosa CF Aaron Rowand
CF *Jim Edmonds 1B Rich Aurilia
LF Matt Murton 2B Travis Denker
2B Ronny Cedeno SS #Emmanuel Burriss
P *Ted Lilly P *Barry Zito














Well that whole American League thing was no good...the Cubs went a paltry 6-9 against what was considered to be a soft interleague schedule at the beginning of the year.

Now it's back to the NL and back to the NL West, whom the Cubs have collectively beaten at an 18-5 clip. They'll get the offensively-challenged Giants tonight and it'll be up to Ted Lilly to try to keep them challenged. Lilly's overall numbers have been disappointing this year, but he's managed a 3.21 ERA in June up to this point. Most of his struggles this year can be attributed to a tendency to give up the gopher ball, but there's some hope that'll correct itself.

His Name Spelled Backwards is 'Ffej'

When the golden boy took the mound yesterday he must have felt right at home, what with the golden dome of the Iowa statehouse beyond the center-field wall and the Notre Dame fight song blaring over the PA system conjuring flashbacks of his alma mater.

Six innings and 101 pitches later Jeff Samardzija left having made another tentative promise on his well-financed junket through the bush leagues to the big-time.

He surrendered only one run despite walking six and recorded his first AAA win in his second start at that level.

Pie Tastes Bitter

Felix Pie went 2-3 with a lead-off first-pitch double roped down the RF line, a bases loaded RBI walk on a 3-2 pitch, a grand slam HR hammered over the CF fence, and a hard-hit 4-3 GO, as the AZL Cubs thumped the AZL Royals 18-1 at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in hot and sunny Mesa. 

box score

So do I really think Pie was sent to Fitch Park to "rehab" a "sprained thumb"?


Game 80 Thread / Cubs @ White Sox (1 of 3)

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SP Ryan Dempster SP José Contreras
  9-2, 2.63, 85 K, 38 BB, 102.2 IP
6-6, 3.96, 56 K, 26 BB, 97.2 IP
DH *Kosuke Fukudome SS Orlando Cabrera
LF *Eric Patterson C *A.J. Pierzynski
1B Derrek Lee LF Carlos Quentin
3B Aramis Ramirez RF Jermaine Dye
RF *Daryle Ward DH *Jim Thome
CF *Jim Edmonds 3B Joe Crede
C Geovany Soto 1B #Nick Swisher
2B *Mike Fontenot 2B Juan Uribe
SS Ronny Cedeno CF *Dewayne Wise














It's time for Round Two of the Cubs versus White Sox, a.k.a. Team Inferiority Complex.

The Cubs go with a lineup that's long on lefties and rich on suck. Fontenot? Cedeño?? Ward in the field??? Lou is clearly trying to win the game with one hand tied behind his back, thus completely demoralizing the hosts.

Dempster, who yielded just one run (though 10 hits) to beat the White Sox on Sunday night, gets the nod against Contreras, who the Cubs undressed last Saturday (9 ER, 10H allowed in 3.1 innings).

Game 79 Thread / Orioles @ Cubs (3 of 3)

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SP Radhames Liz SP Jason Marquis

1-0, 6.27, 14 K, 9 BB, 18.2 IP
6-3, 4.43, 41 K, 31 BB, 81.1 IP

2B #Brian Roberts LF *Eric Patterson
SS #Alex Cintron SS Ryan Theriot
RF *Nick Markakis 1B Derrek Lee
1B Kevin Millar 3B Aramis Ramirez
3B *Aubrey Huff CF *Jim Edmonds
LF Jay Payton C Geovany Soto
CF Adam Jones RF Mark DeRosa
C Guillermo Quiroz 2B *Mike Fontenot
P Radhames Liz P *Jason Marquis













Sure, baseball is a 162-game marathon and one individual game generally means very little in the grand scheme of things. But once in awhile a key game comes along that can define a team and a season. The Orioles threaten to take the series today, which would mark the Cubs first series loss at home since the end of April to the Brewers. We shall not stand for this threat against our beloved Friendly Confines So rise up, my beloved Cubbies against this island of misfits led by the Cubs' bespectacled cast-off.


For NL Central, These Are the Best of Times

As you may have noticed, the top three teams in the NL Central, the Cubs (48-29, .623), Cards (45-33, .577), and Brewers (43-34, .558), also currently have the three best records in the National League. Who'da thunk?

Here is how the Big 3 rank against the rest of the NL in various categories.

Hill Begins Long Climb Back

2008 33rd round pick Sean Hoorelbeke (Central Michigan) roped a two-run double into the left-centerfield alley on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, driving in the tying and winning runs and giving the AZL Cubs a 4-3 victory over the AZL Giants at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in Mesa.

box score

The AZL Cubs are now 1-2 in AZL league play.

3B Junior Lake gave the AZL Cubs a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 2nd inning when he blasted a towering HR onto 8th Street, but the lanky 18-year old Dominican infielder got yanked out of the game by Manager Franklin Font after he failed to run out a ground ball in a later AB.

Just a typical Day in the Life of AZL baseball.  

Prior to the AZL game, LHP Rich Hill threw a two-inning (35 pitches - 22 strikes & 13 balls) simulated game on Field #1 under the watchful eye of Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator Mark Riggins (who stood at various vantage points around the infield and home plate area during the session, including behind the mound).

All-Star Update

MLB has released the latest update on the All-Star voting and there would be three Cubbies in the starting lineup. Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome are one and two among the outfielders and Geovany Soto has a commanding lead over Brian McCann at catcher.

Of course, none of them deserve it, but it pays to be on a popular team that also happens to have the best record in baseball. A matter of fact, all the Cubbies are enjoying the residual benefits of a. 632 winning percentage. Derrek Lee is second in the voting, Mark DeRosa is second (poor Dan Uggla), Ryan Theriot is third and Aramis Ramirez is second(actually well-deserved). Using an advanced metric such as Runs Created, as tracked by The Hardball Times, here's how the All-Star voting should be shaking out. An asterisk indicates they are actually leading the voting.

Mark DeRosa vs. That Orioles Guy

The Tribune reports Tuesday that Mark DeRosa is "still hearing about" the Orioles' Brian Roberts, who will be on the field with his Baltimore mates tonight at Wrigley. (Wild thought—the primary sources of the Roberts reminders are those who ask DeRosa about Roberts and then write stories about his reaction to the reminders.)

For what it's worth, here are the 2008 numbers. First, an offensive comparison of Roberts, DeRosa (his total '08 numbers, not just those accumulated while he's playing 2B), and Cubs second basemen in total:

Cubs Hits Of The Week (Monday, 6/16 through Sunday, 6/22)

The five hits from the past week that did the most to enhance the Cubs' chances of winning, according to Win Probability Added as calculated by Fan Graphs:

#5.) Tuesday, 9th inning at Tampa, man on first, one out, Cubs trailing the Rays, 3-1. Kosuke Fukudome doubles against Troy Percival, sending Mark DeRosa around to third. It's so obvious the Cubs will at least tie up this game and send it to extra innings. It's so very, very obvious...right up to the moment the Rays retire Reed Johnson to lock down the 3-2 win. Fukudome double = WPA .150  

#4.) Saturday, 4th inning vs. White Sox, men on first and second, one out, Cubs trailing the Sox, 4-3. Fukudome hits a ground single to right, scoring Ryan Theriot from second base to tie the game 4-4, with much more run-making yet to follow in this fourth inning. Fukudome single = WPA .159

The countdown continues after the jump.

Game 76 Thread / White Sox @ Cubs (3 of 3)

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SP Javier Vazquez SP Ryan Dempster
  7-5, 4.13, 93 K, 24 BB, 96 IP
8-2, 2.76, 81 K, 37 BB, 94.2 IP
SS Orlando Cabrera RF *Kosuke Fukudome
C *A.J. Pierzynski LF *Eric Patterson
LF Carlos Quentin 1B Derrek Lee
RF Jermaine Dye 3B Aramis Ramirez
1B #Nick Swisher CF *Jim Edmonds
3B Joe Crede C Geovany Soto
CF *Dewayne Wise RF Mark DeRosa
2B Alexei Ramirez SS Ryan Theriot
P Javier Vazquez P Ryan Dempster














The national ESPN spotlight shines this evening on 1060 West Addison, which can only mean one thing:

The Yankees and Mets aren't playing each other this weekend.

According to the Sun-Times' up-to-the-minute Cubs reports via Twitter, Rob Reiner and his kid are in the house tonight. Could there be any clearer indication what an important contest this is?

Regarding tonight's starters...

A Start and a Stop


Hello again from Des Moines, the soggy branch office of the Chicago Cubs National League ballclub.

A bizarre homestand that began last weekend with a flood-delayed game played behind closed doors as a public safety precaution ended last night with the season's largest crowd witnessing the latest episode in the unraveling of Rich Hill.

One night after Sean Marshall required only 87 pitches to get 24 outs, Hill scatter-gunned 45 before he was taken into custody after a mere two-thirds of the first inning.

Game 74 Recap: Cubs 4, White Sox 3

Daylight Drama

W -
Wood (4-1), back-to-back jack winners, Aramis Freakin' Ramirez, A day's worth of bragging rights, listening to stunned silence of Hawk and DJ

L -
Linebrink (2-2), Blithering idiocy, Hawk Harrelson, listening to blithering idiocy, listening to three hours of Hawk Harrelson's blithering idiocy

Box Score
, Photos

Things to Take from This Game

1. Quality starts by the lefties

Lilly continued to have problems with the Home Run ball, giving up a solo shot to Dye in the second and a two-run blast to Pierzynski in the third.  Those wound up being the only runs the Cubs gave up, as  Lilly worked out of trouble in both the fifth and sixth.  Danks had a stronger game, striking out five and walking none, and left with a 3-1 lead.  He only gave up a run-scoring GIDP to Lee in the first.  However...

2. No Contest in the Battle of the Bullpens

Dotel came in for the seventh, and promptly surrendered back-to-back jacks to Lee and Ramirez.  Howry by contrast got the last out of the seventh and had an easy eighth, while Wood survived a near-miss home run that only registered as a leadoff double, and got out of the ninth without damage.  That set up the bottom of the ninth, where... 

3. Ramirez Walks Off

Aramis hit his second home run of the game, this one off of Linebrink and to dead center into the juniper bushes. Cubs win a great game, 4-3.


 The "why did you miss this game, and need to rely on my thrilling recap?" details, below.


Daryle Ward Completes the Fitch Park Phase of His Rehab

Daryle Ward went 2-3 and scored a run, and Sean Hoorelbeke and Dwayne Kemp drove in two runs a piece with RBI doubles, as the AZL Cubs and AZL Angels played to a 5-5 tie at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in what was a final tune-up for AZL Opening Day on Sunday.

Ward, who played 1B and hit 3rd in the order, left the game amidst the usual handshakes, hugs, and kisses that accompany a "rehabber" leaving for the airport in the middle of a game. Whether DW will end up in Iowa or Tennessee is apparently still TBD. But if all goes well at who knows where, Ward is supposed to rejoin the Cubs next week In Chicago.  

Game 73 Recap: Cubs 3, Devil Rays 8

Schizo Game

W - Balfour (2-0), getting out of Tampa

L - Marmol (1-2), 7-run sevenths.

Box Score
, Photos

Things to Take from This Game

1. Shields was fantastic

Shields pitched a fantastic six innings before giving up a run in the sixth on a Fontenot double, and leaving with runners on 2 and 3. The relievers allowed both inherited runners to score on a bloop by Fukudome and a seeing-eye bouncer by Theriot. Though he technically gave up 3, Shields was much more dominant than that for most of his outing.

2. Gallagher was terrific

Gallagher also pitched very well, with a particularly impressive live fastball. The Devil Rays successfully extended several at bats, with the same sort of grinding approach that we've enjoyed watching the Cubs employ for most of the year. Gallagher still managed to get through six, and worked out of a couple jams. A very encouraging outing by Gallagher, who only gave up one run, and that came on a double play that followed an error by Lee.

3. Marmol and Eyre were.... uh...

Marmol comes in to protext a 3-1 lead in the seventh, and goes walk, walk, hbp, hbp. Eyre comes in and goes Grand Slam to Crawford, triple, double, sac fly, double. Marmol was missing with his slider, both the HBP coming on sliders that got too far inside. Eyre was just bad.

The "we never again have to listen to pundits pointing out that the Cubs are the only team to not have a three-game losing streak this year, there, are you happy, Cubnut?" details, below. :)


Guzman throws in Intrasquad Game, Ward still taking BP

Angel Guzman threw two innings (25 pitches - 19 strikes, 3/1 GO/FO) in an AZL Cubs intrasquad game at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning, allowing two runs (one ER) on two hits, with no walks and two stikeouts (both swinging). 
Also, Daryle Ward continued his rehab at Fitch Park, with an extended pre-game BP session in which he clubbed bomb after bomb over the RF fence. He also shagged some fly balls in RF.

Game 72 Recap: Cubs 4, Devil Rays 5

How Many Losses?

W - Sonnanstine (8-3), loud domes, cowbells

L - Zambrano (8-3), soreness and discomfort, opposite field singles

S - Percival (17)

Box Score
, Photos

Things to Take from This Game

1. Cheap Runs

The Devil Rays scored a run in the first when DeRosa missed a line drive that allowed the runner to come around from first. It was a pretty bad miss by DeRosa. In the third the Devil Rays scored four times on a seemingly endless series of controlled swings producing opposite field singles.

2. Missed Spots, Calls

Zambrano didn't have much command of the fastball, missing up in the zone with some frequency. The home plate ump didn't have much command of his strike zone, either. It made for a bit of a bumpy game. But other than the third, both Z and Sonnanstine worked quickly and effectively. Cotts gave up a leadoff walk, but Wuertz got through the rest of the game without incident.

3. Missed Opportunity

The Cubs had a great chance to score in the fifth, with the bases loaded and no outs for Theriot, Lee and Ramirez. Theriot beat out a potential GIDP to score one run, but Lee and Ramirez couldn't drive the other runners in.

4. Another Wild Ninth

Soto makes up for last night's near-miss, and lines a home run off of Percival in the 9th, to make the game 5-4. DeRosa then walked, but Percival managed to nail things down from there. Another dramatic loss.

5. Uh. Oh.

Z left the game with two outs in the seventh after throwing a pitch to Eric Hinske. Soto saw something, and immediately got up, motioned to the dugout, and all went out to the mound. Z left and as of this posting has "Right Shoulder Discomfort" Edmonds had left the game in the fourth with "Left Foot Soreness." With Reed Johnson hobbled by a strained back, Fukudome had to play center. As per usual, stay tuned for updates.


Your "they're still the Devil Rays, no matter what their marketing department thinks the focus groups want" details, below.


Fukudome to Bat Leadoff

One of our trusted readers tells us that he heard on WGN radio that Lou Piniella has decided to bat Kosuke Fukudome leadoff until Alfonso Soriano is back...or until Lou changes his mind again. I would assume that Jim Edmonds would get the bulk of the work at the five spot from now on, at least versus righties.

Game 71 Thread / Cubs @ Rays (1 of 3)

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SP Ryan Dempster SP *Scott Kazmir
  8-2, 2.81, 75 K, 35 BB, 89.2 IP
6-2, 1.74, 54 K, 16 BB, 51.2 IP
CF Reed Johnson 2B *Akinori Iwamura
SS Ryan Theriot 1B #Willy Aybar
1B Derrek Lee CF BJ Upton
3B Aramis Ramirez RF *Eric Hinske
DH Geovany Soto 3B Evan Longoria
RF Mark DeRosa DH *Cliff Floyd
LF Matt Murton C #Dionar Navarro
C Henry Blanco RF *Gabe Gross
2B Ronny Cedeno SS Jason Bartlett












Matt Murton has been called up and Eric Patterson has been sent down. Welcome back to the Show Orange Guy, and good luck with Scott Kazmir, who has given up all of one run in four home starts this year (thanks nohit). The entire Rays team has been enjoying the comforts of Tampa, Florida with a shiny 26-11 mark at Tropicana Field. That's good for second best in the home record in the American League and has helped catapult them from the worst overall record in the league last year to the current AL Wild Card leaders. Most of that turnaround can be attributed to their pitching and defense and not that sketchy lineup that I'm looking at. But I guess you don't need good hitters if you can "Execute to the Max".

Game notes fun after the jump...

A Short History of the Short History of Cubs Designated Hitters

In the opener of the Cubs' just-completed series in Toronto, Derrek Lee, playing the part of Designated Hitter, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout; Aramis Ramirez, in his regular third base role, went 2-for-5.

On Saturday, Ramirez took over the DH role and went 1-for-5 with two K's and left five men on base; Derrek Lee returned to his accustomed position at first base and went 3-for-4 with two runs scored.

Always one to jump to a quick conclusion, on Saturday night, I got to thinking that just maybe this DH thing was a little trickier than one might imagine, especially for National League players who don't know what it is to have four or five at-bats in a game separated not by time in the field, but by long idle stretches in the dugout, or back in the clubhouse, doing whatever it is DH's do when they're not sitting idle in the dugout.

Len Kasper Chat Wrap

There isn't a whole lot going down today. The last-ever Hall of Fame game was to feature the Cubs versus the Padres this afternoon...and was poetically rained out. That'll save the Cubs from a freak injury at least.

To hold us over until the big Cubs vs Rays series tomorrow (imagine that, an IMPORTANT Cubs vs Rays series), reader Carlos sent me a link to a Len Kasper chat wrap on Baseball Prospectus from last week. He touches on his love of sabermetrics along with a bit of inside info on the personalities on the team. It's certainly worth a read.

I also would like to mention that the Cubs reached 20 games over .500 with the win yesterday. This is the soonest they've reached that mark since...1906, which is still the record for highest team winnng percentage in a season. Lou's 2001 Mariners did tie the 116 win mark, but had ten more games to do it (162 versus 152).

Some minor league info and run differential update after the jump...

Jost Another Saturday in the Park

Angel Guzman (on the 60-day DL while rehabbing from 2007 TJS) threw two innings (28 pitches) in an intrasquad game, and Daryle Ward (on the 15-day DL while rehabbing from a back injury) took an extended BP session, as the AZL Cubs spent their first day home alone at Fitch Park. 

Also, three more players signed out of the recent Rule 4 Draft have reported to Fitch Park, bringing the count up to 22 drafted players signed (with 29 still unsigned), plus three non-drafted free-agents (NDFA) signed.


Recent comments

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  • Geo Soto leaves the WSux and signs with the Angels who lost Chris Ianetta to the Mariners.

    Freed... The Angels also promoted Bobby Scales from director of player development to special assistant

  • AZ PHIL- Is Clayton Richard a free agent or not? One site I see he is, on another no. MLB has him listed as a free agent, Cot's contracts says he is a FA, baseball-reference says he's not, but Cubs have him on active roster. I know that he is just short of MLB 6 years service by just like 15 days, but that doesn't always matter.

  • Except that he gave up Russell and McKinney for a half-season of Hammel...

  • Beane cam at least point and laugh at Hammel.

  • The genius Angelo traded Olsen at Martzs request

  • Maybe Theo will sign Shark just so he can call Billy Beane and say: "Let's see...Russell? Check. McKinney? Check. Hammel? Check. Ninja? Check. Any other deals?"

  • To be fair to Emery and Trestman the foreshadowing of last year started happening well before them with the failure or mismanaging of multiple draft classes forcing the team to overspend in a free agency market that is even worse than baseball. Kyle Long seems like a good pick but they traded away another good one in Olson because of Martz's stupidity and inability to change his offense to fit the team talent.

  • HAGSAG: I think Domonic Brown does fit the criteria of a reclamation project, but unless he is willing to accept a minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training, I don't think the Cubs would be interested given where the Cubs are right now. A couple of years ago? Yes. But probably not now.

    Brown would be better-off going to a club that is rebuilding and re-establish his value there, like Chris Coghlan did with the Cubs. And if he can re-establish his value, he could get traded to a contender at the trade deadline and take it from there.  

  • "they just fade away"

    (Except in the cases of no-fade lefties like Moyer, Orosco and Rich Hill.)

  • Amazing to me how quickly it fell apart under Trestman. Year 1, they were a Chris Conte brain fart away from making the playoffs. Year 2 -- coach, staff and GM all fired.

  • I am sure Jonathon Mota will be signed next.

  • AZ Phil, what is your thoughts on Domonic Brown as a reclamation project?

  • He also played LF in deference to Curtis Granderson.

    Meh... other moves to make...hope to see a move or two soon.

  • I haven't seen much Bears football this year - difficult to watch the games out here, but the game I saw the week before I was watching in shock as I saw them actually make tackles. And Cutler has looked really good, too.

    I guess people can quibble about play calling, but the team I saw is way more than 50% better coached (my only very minor disagreement with your comment).

    Under Trestman, the team didn't do anything right. This team played like a well coached team when I saw them play the Rams.

  • "What is sometimes overlooked about Vogelbach because of his "bad body" and because he has struggled so much defensively is that he is a hard worker, has a great attitude, loves to play the game, and is very well-liked by his teammates, and while that may not seem important, teams do actually value stuff like that. "

    As well they should. Replace a word here and there and you are describing any worker someone would hire.

  • Hak-Ju Lee signs a minor league contract with SF Giants.

    Some closure on the 6 degrees of Separation for Matt Garza/Chris Archer