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.
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.
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.
A few stories have popped up since I wrote the last one, so let me update.
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.
Please feel free to add or make up your own.
Here's my attempt:
5 Runs on the Road, Lilly Pitching, Not Enough.
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.
I watched just two innings of last night's affair, tuning in as Micah Hoffpauir gave the Cubs the lead and turning it off right before Ryan Raburn's ball landed. The saying goes something like "a picture is worth a thousand words"...well here's my word quota for the night.
A Loss, or a Metaphor?
confounding was the decision to let Blanco bat with the bases loaded
and two outs in the sixth.
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.
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."
(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)
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!).
Thursday's Chicago vs. Chicago showdown at Wrigley Field will be the first Major League game to be streamed live to mobile phones, specifically to iPhone and iPod Touch users who have installed the MLB.com At Bat 2009 app and the new Apple 3.0 operating software.
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.
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:
The Cubs struggles offensively are obviously no secret and it's been a team wide affliction that I don't even think a roll in the hay with Amy Winehouse could fix. I took a quick look at their OPS numbers since May 1st:
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."
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.
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.
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...
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.''
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.
If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?
#Cubs plummet to 19-5 in August.
Fun with FIP
- J. Hammel 3.07 ERA/4.27 FIP (3.68 FIP last year)
- J. Arrieta 2.62 ERA/3.05 FIP (2.35 FIP last year)
- J. Lester 2.81 ERA/3.67 FIP (2.92 FIP last year)
- K. Hendricks 2.19 ERA/3.37 FIP (3.36 FIP last year)
- J. Lackey 3.41 ERA/3.72 FIP (3.57 FIP last year with Cards)
zastyryzryzryzny put in 3.2ip 1h 0bb 3k
he's great when his control is "on"...problem is it's rarely "on" consistently. he could vault up the cubs prospect list if he ever gets better with that aspect of his game.
JD's take was just trying to get in a lefty to better deal with mostly lefty Dodgers lineup.
My second thought was what you came up with. My first thought was he was trying to light a fire under Hammel.
Maybe he was trying to spare him another brutal road start? NY, Colorado...
joe got a pitcher up for hammel at nearly the 1st sign of trouble in the 3rd...pulled after 2.1
not injured and though it wasn't his day so far he wasn't looking like a pure disaster.
really short leash on him. zastryznzryzryny in.
Russell and Soler can attest that Urias has a pretty good curve/slider - two big strikeouts looking to get out of that jam in the first.
Classic Scully - great stuff.
Thank God we'll still have Hawk next season. (cricket cricket cricket)