June 2009

TCR Tuesday Notes

Nothing too exciting last night, Rich Harden worked out of a lot of trouble his last three innings, but did strike out 9 in 7 innings without giving up a home run. Milton Bradley went 2/4 with an RBI, a ricochet short of going 3-4. Soto and Fox continue to hit as well and the Marmol/Gregg combo actually did their job. Then we all remember it's the Pirates.

It's Also a Kick in the Junk

Our pal Tim Souers was inspired by Saturday's post and gave me this awesome graphic. And I don't really care to harp on the trade, but let me give you my final thoughts. The Cardinals got a good player and it should help them...a little. DeRosa was a 3.8 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) last year, he's been 1.1 so far this year as his defense at third hasn't been too great (at least according to UZR). The Cardinals are going to get him for a little over a half year and the 2 main guys he's replacing are Joe Thurston and Brian Barden who have combined for 0.8 WAR to this point. You can't just simply add and subtract it though, so my rough back-of-the-envelope guestimating says he's probably gonna be good for anything between 1-3  more wins on the year for the Cardinals, which is indeed significant for an individual player.

Well Ain't That a Kick in the Pants

The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired former Cub super-utility Greek God Mark DeRosa for RHP Chris Perez and a player to be named later.

I wonder how many standing ovations he'll get from the Wrigley faithful before they realize they're cheering for the Cubs most bitter rival to beat them.

Cubs Win, Gatorade Cooler Loses Again...Bradley Sent Home.

I'll make this brief, but wanted a place to discuss the latest in "As Milton's World Turns". First though, the Cubs won, they hit a 2-run home run and a 3-run home run. It's nice to know those haven't gone extinct. Jake Fox and Geovany Soto did the damage and no truth to the rumor that Soto was promised White Castle if he hit one out today.

Randy Wells got his second win on the year, two solo shots being the only marks against him.  After 98 pitches and 7 innings, the increasingly baffling Lou went to Carlos Marmol and he predictably walked two of the first three hitters, gave up a couple of hits with some assistance from Soriano losing a ball in the sun (which I admittedly didn't see) and was mercifully pulled for Sean Marshall who got out of the jam by inducing the 3-2-3 double play by A.J. Pierzynski with the bases juiced.

Game 69 Recap: Cubs 5, Tigers 6

5 Runs on the Road, Lilly Pitching, Not Enough.
W - Galarraga (4-7)
L - Lilly (7-5)
S - Rodney (16)
Things to Take from This Game


1. Fox, Fukudome lead Attack
Jake Fox staked the Cubs to a 3-0 lead on a big home run in the first.  Fukudome had a triple and a double in the game, while Hoffpauir hit an impressive opposite field home-run in the ninth.  An encouraging day from the supporting cast, but also a day with continued futility when there were RISP.


2. Lilly is Ineffectively Wild in the Strike Zone
Lilly got hurt on several breaking and offspeed pitches that got up into the heart of the strike zone. Just one BB to 6 Ks, but10 hits an 6 ER in 6 IP.  Santiago and Ordonez each hit two-run homers off of him, and Raburn had two RBI hits. Cabrera also hit a homer that was incorrectly ruled a double.


3. No Dramatic Comeback, Today.
Rodney gave up the homer to Hoffpauir, but otherwise slammed the door by striking out the side.


The one-run-short details, below.

Motor City Misery

11 Hits, 7 BB's for the Cubs offense....just 3 runs. One of those 11 hits was a solo home run by the somewhat rejuvenated Geovany Soto, meaning the Cubs needed 10 hits and 7 bb's to score the other 2 runs. The Yahoo box score says the Cubs left 13 on base as a team (seemed like 130), with Jake Fox and Micah Hoffpauir leading the way with 8 and 7 left on base each (some of those the same baserunners).  The offensive ineptitude and Rich Harden's gopher ball won't keep me from making fun of the bullpen though, who managed to walk in the two deciding runs.


Game 66 Recap: Cubs 0, Braves 2

A Loss, or a Metaphor?
W - Vazquez (5-6)
L - Dempster (4-5)
S - Soriano (6)
Things to Take from This Game


1. An Evening Full of Singles and Scoring Opportunities...
The Cubs had 9 hits off of Vazquez, all of them singles, and another hit off of Soriano in relief. 


2. ...That Leads to Nothing but a lot of Getting Left Stranded on Second Base.
The Cubs left 12 men on base.  Perhaps most
confounding was the decision to let Blanco bat with the bases loaded
and two outs in the sixth. 


3. But at Least there are Consolation Prizes?
We can be happy that Dempster had a fine performance, gutting out 6.2 innings in the Atlanta heat.  He still had some control problems, but other than McLouth, the Braves struggled to do much against him.  And that has to make up for some of the frustration at getting shut out, right?


The futile details, below.

AZL Cubs Rally for Opening Day Victory

Dwayne Kemp ripped an RBI single to drive-in Robert Bautista with the game-wining run, as the AZL Cubs rallied with three runs in the bottom of the 9th to defeat the AZL Angels 6-5 in Arizona League (AZL) Opening Day action at Fitch Park on Sunday. Kemp also clubbed an RBI triple earlier in the game, and Bautista drove in three runs with a squeeze bunt, a FC grounder, and a single, while also stealing three bases.


20-year old 2B D. J. Fitzgerald had a memoraable pro debut, going 4-4 with two doubles, two runs scored, and a stolen base. The Cubs 22nd round pick in the 2009 Rule 4 Draft (First-Year Player Draft) out of Dyersburg State CC, "DJ Fitz" was a star baseball player at Ocean Lakes HS in Virginia Beach, VA. He signed an NLI with Georgia Southern, but ended up at a Tennessee JC instead.

20-year old RHP Toby Matchulat got the start for the AZL Cubs, and was stellar, throwing four shutout innings (7/1 GO/FO), while allowing just two harmless singles and no walks, with four strikeouts. Matchulat just missed making the Boise Opening Day roster, after having an impressive Extended Spring Training at Fitch Park. An 11th round pick out of Wabash Valley JC in 2008, the lanky 6'5 right-hander struggled big-time with his command in his pro debut last year (29 BB in 18.2 IP), but he has really turned it around this year. Kudos to AZL Cubs Pitching Coach Rick Tronerud and Minor Leagure Pitching Coordinator Mark Riggins for helping Matchulat find a better arm slot and a more consistent release point.

Father's Day: Darren Baker asks the question...and Dusty has no answers

Roster Update: Angel Guzman to the DL with a right triceps strain, Kevin Hart called up from Iowa.

Happy Father's Day everyone.

I've mostly been shoulder shrugging since the story came out that Sammy Sosa was on the positive test list for PED's that the MLB Players Association didn't destroy. To me it was old news. After the "Steroid Era" cloud passes and everyone in it washs off the stink, I wonder what will be the impact on what baseball should consider one of it's most important assets, the kids who fall in love with the game because of their father's (or mom's, but today is father's day) love of the game.

On this father's day, one of the things I treasure most is that my son is a Cubs fan and a Baseball fan. So when I read this brief Fred Mitchell article in the Tribune, it made more impact on me than when the Sammy news was leaked in the NY Times.

"The worst part for me is that I don't know what to tell my son [Darren]," the Reds manager said after Saturday's Civil Rights Game luncheon at the Duke Energy Center. "He asks me, 'Dad, are there any good hitters not on something?' I just tell him that everyone is under suspicion. I will just be glad when it's all over."

Game 63 Recap: Cubs 8, Indiginous Persons 7

Single in the Gloamin'


W - Gregg (2-1), the bullpen, hopes for a good second half, belief in the Ex-Cub Factor, TCR authors who predicted "seven runs shall not win this game."
L - Vizcaino (1-3), anyone who went home early. 


Things to Take from This Game


1. Cleveland Scores Seven Unanswered
Harden didn't have it today, and gave up three-run homers to Luis Valbuena and Victor Martinez in the second and third.  DeRosa added an RBI single in the fourth.


2. Cubs Score Eight Unanswered
The Cubs began their comeback in the fifth with a solo HR by Johnson, and another by Lee in the sixth.  They scratched out four in the eighth, featuring a two-run single by Blanco, but the highlight of the game had to be Derrek Lee's second homer of the day, a game-tier in the bottom of the ninth off of Kerry Wood.  The game ended in the tenth with Luis Vizcaino giving a two-out walk to Soriano, who then stole second and scored on a generous "hit" as Theriot smashed one off of Victor Martinez at first base.


3. Signs of Life
Patton and Heilman gave us three easy innings of relief, Marmol worked out of a jam of his own construction and Gregg one of the defense's construction, for five shut-out innings total.  Soto and Soriano looked a lot more comfortable today, and of course Lee is red hot. Blanco also looked surprisingly good at the bat.


The exciting details, below

The Uncomfortable Reunion

(Hallway somewhere in Wrigley Field, two players emerge from the visiting team's clubhouse dressed to the nines in their gray road uniforms)

KW: Man, I sure miss this place...this city.

MD: Well, when you move to Cleveland, there's a good chance you'd miss living in Kazakhstan.

(They share a laugh as a portly gentleman comes towards them, head down, cell phone glued to ear)

Your 2009 Boise Hawks!

The Boise Hawks begin play tonight, kicking off their 2009 season. They will play 77 games (76 "league" games plus tonight's Opening Night exhibition game versus Treasure Valley CC) up through the first week of September, with one game scheduled each and most every day (they get only three days off for the entire season!). 

Game 62 Recap: Cubs 6, Bad Father's Day Gifts 5

es, Six.
W - Gregg (1-1)
L - Thornton (4-2)
Things to Take from This Game
1. Eventful day for Getz
Sox second-baseman Getz doubled in a run, made a fine run-saving catch at second, but also had two errors.  The second one was notable because...
2. Big 8th for Cubs
...it came at the start of the Cubs' half of the eighth, letting Hoffpauir get on.  Without that, the inning would have ended with a Bradley strikeout with one man on base.  Instead, Lee had a chance to save the rally, and hit a three-run homer to bring the Cubs within a run at 5-4.  Soto made it back-to-back homers off of Linebrink, tying the game.
3. Z, Bradley, Lee look fine
Z gave up a two-run homer to Alexei Ramirez and the Getz double, but otherwise looked like he was in command of his fastball and pitched well.  Bradley, other than that strikeout, continued to show a good eye and had a couple of sharp singles. Lee of course continued his hot hitting.
4. Most everyone else does not
Marmol kept getting hit on sliders up in the zone, giving up a couple of Runs.  Soriano kept hitting from behind in the count, Theriot kept swinging from his ass, Fukudome and Blanco failed to spontaneously transmogrify into major-league hitters.
5. However...
After the exciting 8th, Reed Johnson led off the bottom of the ninth with a pinch-hit single, Blanco bunted him to second, and Soriano got just enough of one to bloop a ball into right-center for the game-winning hit.
All the late-inning heroics follow....

Game 61 Recap: Cubs 1, Bleached Hosiery 4

A Dank Day.
W - Danks (5-5)
L - Dempster (4-4)
S - Jenks (15)
Things to Take from This Game

1. K to BB
Danks walked none and struck out nine.  Dempster walked six and struck out four.  You tell me how the day went.

2. The Cubs' "Offense"
Was "led" by two bloop singles by Milton Bradley.

3. Sox scratch it out
Dempster almost was effectively wild.  Alexei Ramirez hit a home run in the first, but the other runs were products of some effective small ball played by Guillen and the Sox - a couple of impressive bunt plays, a sacrifice fly, and a squib triple accounted for the rest of the Sox scoring.  The story here isn't a weak performance by Dempster or Danks looking unhittable;  it's Cubs hitters continuing to swing from their asses and producing nothing.


The "I bought a bad-ass new computer, and all I have to show for it is this stinking recap?" details, below.

Sammy Sosa Tested Positive and Why I Don't Care

There was always one brief glint of hope for Sammy Sosa to wiggle his way into the Hall of Fame and eventually get his number retired by the Cubs and that was to cover his tracks better than the other nincompoops who abused performance enhancers. Well...he didn't or so it seems.

I'm Just A Fuzz Machine & I Don't Work For Nobody But You...

No official word yet as to whether or not the mysterious "fuzz machine" made the trip from Des Moines to Chicago along with Von [when there's somethin' wrong in the neighborhood who you gonna call?] Joshua. The unorthodox device is a pitching machine contraption that somehow both accelerates and decelerates a batter's swing, according to Carrie Muskat's expose earlier in the season. If Joshua couldn't get it through security at Des Moines International he may have just rented a car, thrown it in the trunk and headed east.

The Sun-Times has a piece this morning about "three Cubs to watch." In that spirit, here are three I-Cubs who currently bear a little closer watching:

Fall Guy

The Cubs fired hitting coach Gerald Perry today and promoted Triple A hitting coach Von Joshua.

"Every day, we have five guys in the lineup who have played in the All
Star Game. For whatever reason, we're just not performing anywhere
close to the level that they all have performed throughout their
careers. Sometimes you have to try something different."

Bradley's Error Will Live On in Cub Lore Forever...or Maybe Not

Though we're in early June, the Cubs are still very much in the thick of the division race (mathematically, at least), and Milton Bradley's bone-headed play in right field didn't cost the Cubs a victory on Friday or even a single run, the symbolic potential of this play is truly awesome.

A Public Safety Alert for TCR Readers In and Around Chicago

Be forewarned—the entire downtown area is overrun with Nordic boys wearing Kirby Puckett jerseys. I know; I have seen it for myself!

This afternoon's Twins starter, Kevin Slowey (8-2, 4.21), is prone to the gopher ball. (That's "gopher" as in home run, not Golden Gopher.) Cubs starter Randy Wells is prone to getting screwed by the non-performance of his offense and/or his bullpen.

Cubs Pursuing Pedro Martinez

The Boston Globe is reporting that the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs seem to have the most interest in Pedro Martinez. Both teams have sent scouts down to the Dominican to see him pitch (hitting 94 mph with his fastball) and are beginning to explore just how much it might cost to sign the future HOF'er (I would hope). It's said he's looking for $5 million.

2009 Cubs Draft Tracker Ticker Picker - Day 3

ROUND 31 (950): Andrew Clark, 1B (Louisville) 

L/L, 6'3, 220, 21 years old

COMMENT: College junior... Transferred to Louisville after spending freshman year at Ole Miss... Hit 350/479/555 with 9 HR & 55 RBI, with 21 doubles and two triples, and 55/27 BB/K in 317 PA for Cardinals in 2009... 2nd Team All-Big East... Was named Gatorade "Indiana High School Player of the Year" and was an AFLAC All-American his senior year in HS...

A Look at a Decade of the MLB First Year Draft

Reader Real Neal breaks down the first round of the draft in a variety of ways to see if there's an optimal strategy and how have the Cubs done relative to their drafting position.


Two topics are always
in hot debate this time of the year, when it comes to the MLB draft.
How have the Cubs done, and who should they pick?

With that in mind, I am
taking a look at 10 years worth of first round picks to try and help
answer those questions. I am only looking at the top 30 picks each
year (yeah I know the Cubs draft 31st), just to simplify
things. The 10 year range I used was ’96 to ’05. It’s just
too early to tell what is going to happen with highschoolers only
drafted three years ago. I used WARP3, even though Baseball
Prospectus has got something a bit wonky going on with their WARP3
scores for 2009, which seem exaggerated. I figured since the
majority of these players are still playing, though, that the slight
wobble could sort of build in a little projection.

To start off with, here
is some general charts, which should be self explanatory.

2009 Cubs Draft Tracker Ticker - Day 2

ROUND 4 (140): Chris Rusin, LHP (Kentucky)
L/L, 6'2, 190, 22 years old
COMMENT: College senior was the Wildcats' "Friday night starter" (#1 starter)... Workhorse went 7-4 with a 4.20 ERA, 14 games (14 GS, 4 CG), 94.1 IP, 95 H, 27/108 BB/K, and a .258 OBA for Wildcats in 2009... 87-89 MPH fastball and decent curve, but change-up needs work... Had elbow surgery in 2008...  


MLB Draft: Nobody Knows Nothin'

The 2009 MLB draft is going to be a three day event this year starting tonight with round 1 moving into prime time on the MLB Network. That seems pretty dumb. They're going to put a press conference of guys announcing names against actual baseball games. I know I'll be watching the Cubs vs. Astros games instead. In their quest to emulate the NBA and NFL drafts, MLB forgot to notice that the other two sports do their drafts in the offseason when people have no football or basketball to watch. Granted, it would be hard to do it in the offseason, but they should at least put the first round on a Monday or Thursday and jerry-rig the schedule so there's very few games that night or make them day games leading up to the draft (I've copyrighted that idea Selig, don't try and steal it).

The Cubs have the 31st pick in the first round thanks to a few players being unsigned last year by other teams and thus getting two draft picks. The Cubs don't draft again until the second round and pick #79. This is Tim Wilken's fourth attempt at trying to pump up the Cubs system and although the only major league return so far has been Jeff Samardzija, Josh Vitters is quickly working his way to the top of the minor league prospect charts and Josh Donaldson was one of the key pieces in the Rich Harden trade last year. Wilken avoided the topic of who the Cubs might draft in a recent interview at Scout.com but did say he almost always picks the best player regardless of positional need, but if there is a hole in the system it's left-handed pitching. He does prefer shortstops and center fielders in general, feeling they have the athletic ability to move around the diamond, although he does feel the system is pretty stocked at shortstop and catcher right now in terms of depth.

Who will the Cubs pick with their first pick? I've listed below a few players that have been mentioned in mock drafts and whispers. AJ Pollock's the name you'll see the most but Jim Callis at Baseball America in his morning mock draft doesn't believe he'll last to the Cubs.


Rich Looks Hardened; Aaron's Miles Away

He doesn't exactly pack 'em in like Wood and Prior used to.

A crowd of about 7,000 gathered last night at Principal Park. Some portion of it was there for the express purpose of watching Rich Harden tune up for his return to the big leagues this weekend.

I watched Harden warm up in the bullpen before he took the mound. From less than 10 feet away he sure doesn't look the 6'1" or the 195 # attributed to him in the media guide.

The other thing I noticed right away was that his pant legs went all the way to his shoetops. The rest of the team tucks 'em below the knee, knickers style. I'm guessing he paid for the fashion privilege with a post-game clubhouse spread before catching the first plane out of town.

He retired the first six batters he faced on only 22 pitches without topping 90 mph. The second inning required only eight.

In the 3rd his velocity rose noticeably and he struggled a bit. I'm not alleging  cause & effect there - just reporting.

At Least Fukudome's Subconscious is Healthy

On the day of the rule 4 draft, I'll keep this short. It's based on a Sun-Times article by Gordon Wittenmyer about why Kosuke Fukudome is surprising the Cubs management with his solid performance so far in 2009. I guess the surprise is they had virtually written him off when they went out and got another multi-year contract, free-agent,  left handed hitting right fielder (OK, Bradley is a switch hitter) for the second year in a row. The article implies that the reason Fukudome was bad the second half of 2008 was that he was having subconscious mechanical problems with his swing, related to his 2007 elbow arthroscopy for the removal of bone chips.

But perhaps the most important reason and least known publicly was the affect his surgically repaired right arm had on his swing.

Fukudome had elbow surgery late in the 2007 season, and the elbow started bothering him last season right about the time his decline began in May. By the end of the season, his hitting mechanics were a mess.

''I didn't feel the pain physically, but I must have been subconsciously feeling the pain of the elbow,'' said Fukudome, still reluctant to openly admit pain. But when asked if it was a factor last season, he said, ''Probably it was.'' 


Recent comments

The first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, click "View" to see rest of comment.