March 2009

Marshall Works Into 5th As Cubs Drop Mariners

Sam Fuld and Andres Blanco slammed home runs and Sean Marshall took a shutout into the 5th inning, as a Cubs "split squad" drubbed a Seattle Mariners "split squad" 8-1 in front of 10,910 happy fans at sunny Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon in Mesa

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Cubs Sign German, Send Five to Minor League Camp

Apparently unhappy with what they've seen so far from Luis Rivas, the Cubs have signed 30-year old super-sub IF-OF Esteban German to a minor league contract, with an NRI to Spring Training. German was released by the Kansas City Royals last Friday.

King for a Day: the Cubs' One-Time Game #1 Starters

As noted here and everywhere else yesterday, Lou Piniella has decided to give Carlos Zambrano the Opening Day assignment at Houston. It will be the fifth time Zambrano has had the honor; the Cubs have gone 2-2 in Z's previous Opening Day outings.

Fergie Jenkins started seven openers for the Cubs, while Rick Sutcliffe started five, and Rick Reuschel, four. The real fun in looking over this list at is noting which Cub pitchers got to go in Game #1 once, but never again. Here are the last ten such Cub pitchers:

Cubs Clutch Hitting Gets Lost in the Translation

Prepping for the first game of 2nd Round WBC play in San Diego on Sunday, Team Japan edged the Chicago Cubs 3-2 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park on a cool & breezy Thursday afternoon in Mesa, AZ. 

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Carlos Zambrano - Opening Day Starter and Could Still Pitch in the WBC

The headline pretty much says it all as Lou made it official today on the Cubs' Opening Day starter. If Lou skips the 5th starter as he mentioned, the rotation for the month of April could look like this.

Beware the BABIP

I harp a lot about BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) and how it's a good indicator if a player is due for a slump or a rebound from year to year, and even within a season. The general guideline is that a player will generally settle within a range of .290-.320 on their BABIP, with the league average being .300 for a hitter and .290 for a pitcher. Now pitchers have much less control over their BABIP than hitters, that is unless they throw a knuckleball or particulary good change-up that is hard to get good contact on, but hitters actually can outperform or underperform that guideline quite significantly thanks to an ability to hit line drives, speed and a few other minor factors. That being said, they don't outperform it by that much. If you look at the 3-year leaderboard for BABIP on Fangraphs, only three players have topped the .360 mark (Jeter, Holliday and Chipper Jones with Ichiro just missing). Now those are some of the best hitters in the game and their career BABIP's are pretty high as well (except for Chipper who has a .328 career BABIP) and it's been shown that players regress more towards their own BABIP levels than the league averages. That all being said, when you see a player hitting anything over .340, you need to start worrying that it will fall back a bit unless they've been able to sustain it for a few seasons. On the flip side, if a guy is suddenly below .280 he's either had a really unlucky season or he's about to leave major league baseball (see Jones, Andruw).

The All-Time Greatest Cubs Team

I believe I heard in the promo that on today's 30 Clubs in 30 Days show on MLB Network that covers the Chicago Cubs that they're going to announce their all-time greatest Cubs team. That seems pretty easy for the most part and I'm not sure of their criteria, but let's see if we can guess.

Red Alert! Lou Says Something About the Lineup Order

I don't put much stock in what Lou says about the lineup order a month before the season, but he seemed to indicate that Kosuke Fukudome is in line to bat second after the outfielder dropped by camp today with Team Japan.

Gameday Open Thread/Cubs @ Mariners

Rich Harden gets his first start of Cactus League play with Aaron Heilman set to pitch as well. Lineup is Miles 2b, Theriot SS, Hoffpauir 1B, Fox DH, Fontenot 3B, Johnson CF, Deeds RF,  Hill C, Taguchi LF

Ronny Cedeno will start at 2B  and Cub-for-a-minute Garrett Olson will start for the Mariners.

The Top 10 Best Seasons Ever by a Cub

As part of this Cubs history kick that started with Wiklifield, I had this idea of trying to figure out what was the best individual season by a member of the Cubs. As I started pouring through the research I decided that the burden of annointing the best Cubs' season ever was too much for this humble Cubs fan. Now I realize as a blogger and top 10 list-maker, I'm suppose to just present my opinion as fact and not accept any other arguments, but I decided for this instance to enlist the rest of the TCR writers.

I put together a list of 27 great Cubs seasons and put it to a vote and would weigh it MVP-style (10 pts for a first place vote, 9 for a second place vote, etc). The criteria for this list were all the Cubs' NL MVP seasons and Cy Young winners and then the best of the rest based on sabermetric dominance in either WARP-3 or Win Shares (Lee in 2005) , historical signifcance  (Wilson's RBI record in 1930) or place in Cubs history (Sutcliffe in 1984). Now there may have been a few names that deserved to be in that
original top 27 list over some other names, but I'm sure I didn't miss
the top season. As I mentioned in the poll, just think of it as the
NCAA tournament...there's a lot of arguments on who deserved to be in
the original 65 picks, but those that are left out never really had a
chance to win the whole thing. 

The only instruction I laid out for their votes was to use whatever
criteria each writer saw fit. Some of us have a sabermetric slant to
the world, some like MVP trophies, some just remember what we saw and
its impact at the time and so forth and so on. Transmission, Cubnut, Dr. Hecht and myself ended up participating and our ballots are listed at the end of the post. The final results for the readers voting is also at the end. We by no means believe this is the list to rule all lists, but it was an interesting exercise nonetheless. I mean if Arizona Phil or Christian had submitted their ballots, the final results could have been very different. Also, we tend to believe with our eyes and hearts and I don't think any of us saw much baseball before 1950 - and for some of us - not much before 1980. Speaking for myself, I had a hard time giving double credit for a player, generally focusing on what I felt to be their best season, even if they had a second or third great season that deserved to be recognized. But this is more art than science and the final results certainly are skewed by a small sample size.

Cubs Flush Royals at HoHoKam

Alfonso Soriano belted a two-run home run, Mike Fontenot drove in two runs with a homer and a double, So Taguchi drove in three runs with a bases-loaded triple, Joey Gathright scored three runs and drove in one, and Derrek Lee had an RBI double, as the Cubs drubbed the Kansas City Royals 9-1 in afternoon Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon, before 8,987 fans under overcast skies and in mid-60's temperatures

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The Fantasy Reporter

I know you all come here for your Cubs fix and I don't pretend to be some sort of fantasty baseball expert (that would be readers "The Joe" and "JD"), but my fantasy draft is Saturday and I feel like sharing. I much prefer a points league over the traditional 5x5 roto leagues, but mostly the same advice applies. If anything, the points league is a bettter reflection of the reality of baseball and our playing fantasy baseball gives us a better understanding of the sport itself. If you do play in a roto league, you need to be more worried about stolen bases than I am.

And just so you know that I'm not completely full of it, I have been playing since 1999 and besides one very unfortunate injury-riddled season, I usually finish "in the money" so to speak. I don't alway take the league, but I'm almost always in contention. Once again, not trying to pass myself off as some fantasy baseball expert, but you could do worse. If anything, I hope to convince you to acquire Troy Tulowitzki if you're in a keeper league. He's going to be a monster for the next six seasons.

So here's some general draft strategies and ideas on a handful of players. Those who play in a league with me are probably going to be wondering why there are so many players mentioned that are on my current team or have been recently or I've inquired about. Well, I liked them for a reason, so there you go.

The Cubs Trainer vs. The Secretive Nature of the Industry

Gordon Wittenmyer in his Sunday Sun-Times article extolled the virtues of Cubs trainer, Mark O'Neal. It's a really nice piece explaining how valuable an athletic trainer can be to the ballclub. Beyond the obvious treating of injured athletes, the job involves organizing effective treatment protocols, reviewing medical histories and records and something as simple as honest communication of his medical opinions to both the athlete and management after assessing all this medical input. It took some time but he's created a sense of trust of his judgement from athletes and management.

The line between keeping the manager and GM fully informed and not betraying a player's confidence is not a tough one to walk, O'Neal said, as long as it comes with honesty, straight talk and the confidence he and his staff know what they're doing.

Marshall Throws Four Shutout Innings, But Cubs Lose

Sean Marshall threw four shutout innings as the Cubs jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but the bullpen could not keep the Rangers down, as Texas rallied to defeat the Cubs 7-2 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa today, before a crowd of 11,082 under cloudy skies with temperatures in the mid-60's.

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Gameday Open Thread/Rangers @ Cubs

The Rangers travel to Mesa and Sean Marshall has another audition for the 5th starter spot.  Milton Bradley is playing right field as well and batting fourth. Matt Harrison goes for the Rangers.

Please take a moment today or tomorrow to vote on the best Cubs Season Ever.

Rank the top 10 individual Cubs seasons...1 is the best and so forth down the line. Please choose just 10.

Below is a list of 27 great seasons by Cubs players since 1900. We're in search of the greatest Cub season and while they're may be some that deserved to be in the top 27, we're sure that we didn't miss any that deserved the top spot. It's like our own version of the NCAA tournament. Choose whatever criteria you wish:  awards, historical significance, sabermetric dominance...whatever you feel makes it worthy of the title "Best Cubs Season Ever". We are going to close comments on the poll and ask that you wait until Tuesday when we'll have a full post up on this to discuss.

Geovany Soto: the Cubs' Bronx Bomber

In Friday's New York Times, Alan Schwarz profiled Geo
Soto, and we learn that despite being born in Puerto Rico and attending
high school there, Soto played his first "significant game" in New
York. The Cub catcher lived with his family in the Bronx from the time
he was four until age eight.

Soto remembers it very clearly. It might have been just
below the reservoir. Or maybe down near that ice rink. But it was
definitely in Manhattan's Central Park.

"It was awesome," said Soto... "You go with your dad to
the practice field, but never in my life I'd ever put a uniform on and
played with other kids. I felt like, 'Wow, it's really happening—I'm
going to play baseball.'"

Schwarz also writes about Soto's rapport with the Cubs pitching staff.

Cashner Hurt and Sale News

Just a few quick hits worth mentioning...

- First round pick Andrew Cashner, who was cut yesterday, has a strained oblique.

- Bud says talks are still ongoing on the sale betweeen Ricketts and the Tribune. It doesn't sound too optimistic that it will get done by Opening Day with Selig saying that there are still issues that need to be resolved.

Cub Rally Falls Short at HoHoKam

Doug Mientkiewicz homered, drove in two runs, and made a spectacular sliding catch, and a 9th inning Cubs rally fell one run short for the second day in a row, as the Dodgers edged the Cubs 5-4 in Cactus League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona, in a game played before a capacity crowd under partly cloudy skies and in mid-60’s temperatures

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Gameday Open Thread/Dodgers @ Cubs

The Cubs return to Mesa and take on the Dodgers. Batting second and pitching for them is Randy Wolf, the Cubs send out Dempster. The lineup from Muskat:

3B Aaron Miles, SS Ryan Theriot, 1B Derrek Lee, RF Milton Bradley, LF
Micah Hoffpauir, 2B Bobby Scales, C Koyie Hill, CF Joey Gathright and P
Ryan Dempster.

Rich Harden threw a 43-pitch simulated game and could start Tuesday.

Afternoon Delight

A few more links from this afternoon and an invitation to Parachat for tonight's game on WGN per request by Carlos. I may stop by after the kids are in bed.

- If you're worried about Milton Bradley being healthy enough this season and need a national writer in your corner, Joe Sheehan has your back.

Marshall Perfecto & Three Cub Bombs Drop A's at the Ho

Sean Marshall,threw three perfect innings and Alfonso Soriano, Jake Fox, and Aramis Ramirez slammed home runs, helping the Cubs dump the Oakland A's 6-4 under overcast skies and 80-degree temperatures and in front of 6.500 fans at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon.

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Gameday Open Thread/A's @ Cubs

As a service to our readers, I will avoid the obligatory double Sean puns for today's starters - Marshall vs. Gallagher. Here's the lineup from Muskat:

LF Alfonso Soriano, SS Ryan Theriot, 3B Aramis Ramirez, 1B Jake Fox, RF
Richie Robnett, CF Reed Johnson, C Paul Bako, 2B Andres Blanco, P Sean

You can listen to this one on the radio if you have the means.

Zambrano Sharp in First Game Action

Chris Snyder stroked a three-run homer off the scoreboard to key a five-run 4th, and the Arizona Diamondbacks drubbed the Chicago Cubs 9-1 in record-setting heat at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon in Mesa.

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Gameday Open Thread/Dbacks @ Cubs & Opening Day Starter News

Carlos Zambrano gets his first start of the spring, the Diamondbacks send Dan Haren out to begin the game.

Muskat says Lou is deciding between Zambrano or Dempster for the Opening Day start versus the Houston Astros. 

Gameday Open Thread/Cubs @ Padres and Day Old News

The Cubs travel to Peoria to play the San Diego Padres. Ryan Dempster and Jake Peavy will start. Here is the lineup from Muskat:

SS Ryan Theriot, 2B Aaron Miles, CF Reed Johnson, 1B Jake Fox, 3B
Fontenot, RF Doug Deeds, LF Richie Robnett, C Paul Bako, P Ryan


Recent comments

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  • I'm guessing 3/30 and all the two foot long hot dogs you can eat didn't work

  • Yes! In a 12-way tie for first!

  • Shit.

    Blew my prediction! I had them signing Zimmerman and trading for another arm.

  • Damn wanted Zimmermann

  • Yeah, this market. Remember when Ted Lilly signed a 4/$40m with the Cubs? It was like "Well, I guess if you can throw a ball, that's what the 3 and 4 starters are all getting." I'm glad I'm not a GM. Of course, they're spending our money...

  • in this market that seems like a decent deal relative to the market.

    given that d.price will probably get 30m-ish a year, 22m for 29yo zimm doesn't seem bad. i wouldn't complain about him suiting up for the cubs. one less option gone...

  • Zimmermann 5/$110m with Tigers. Youch.

    And the updated predications page:

  • Cubs 3B Christian Villanueva (who is out of minor league options) is hitting 358/464/500 for Obregon in the Mexican Pacific League (LMP), and is leading the LMP in OBP, is second in BAvg and walks, is seventh in SLG, and is tied for 8th in HR. He also has struck out only 16 times in 175 PA. 

  • CTSteve, thanks for spelling Zimmermann correctly. We don't need another first baseman.

  • The media has linked Cueto and the Cubs approximately zero times this winter. I'm thinking there's just not a lot of interest there on the Cubs' part. It seems unlikely.

    If the Cubs miss on Price, Grienke, and Zimmerman, they will aim for a mid-rotation starter via free agency or trade. However, I think this scenario also significantly boosts the odds that they extend Arrieta.

  • The Tigers are going after Zimmermann and the Red Sox will be throwing money at Price. Bringing Cueto back to the NL with the Cubs is looking like a serious possibility. Thoughts?

  • Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe in the financial impact to the Red Sox for not signing Jon Lester early in the free agent process:

    It will be interesting to ultimately add up the cost of letting Jon Lester go.

    The Red Sox botched up their negotiations with Lester in during spring training of 2014, making an initial offer of $70 million that was roughly $40 million short of what it should have been. Talks broke down and Lester was traded in July.

  •'re flip-flopping again?!

    Is this legal? What is the rule here on opining definitively and then changing your mind?

    I am not only surprised at your declaration, but Cutler's better 2015 showing. I don't get it - he went through Martz, Turner, Trestman, Kromer, and now Gase...and he is still here! And. he'll be here mext year too.

  • Happ signs w Jays

    Morsi saying Price won't be a Jay

  • needs more d.beeler and e.jokisch

  • As an Illinois tax payer I appreciate what they r doing