May 2010

In the spirit of honoring the Chicago Blackhawks, who are now just two games away from the Stanley Cup championship, and temporarily ignoring the black comedy that is the Chicago Cubs, here is a video that will warm the heart of every Hawks fan who remembers the joy of listening to the great Lloyd Pettit. (Pettit, of course, also worked alongside Jack Brickhouse in the Cubs broadcast booth for several years.)

The video was mentioned in Ed Sherman's Business of Sports column last week in Crain's Chicago Business.

Jesus Morelli extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a 1st inning RBI double, leading one squad of Cubs to a 5-3 victory over the Giants on Field #3, while the other squad of Giants defeated the other squad of Cubs 6-2 on Field #2, as the EXST Cubs and EXST Giants played a Memorial Day Cactus League Extended Spring training split squad doubleheader at Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ. Both games were stopped after eight innings.


Making his first appearance on the mound since throwing 16 consecutive balls (no strikes) and walking all four batters he faced in a game versus the EXST Angels at Diablo Park on April 28th, RHP Chris Huseby appeared to be headed down a similar path today, throwing seven of his first eight pitches for balls, before allowing a two-run RBI triple. However, he then suddenly seemed to turn a corner, and proceeded to strike out the side on just 10 pitches (all strikes), stranding the runner at 3rd. Then after completing his one inning of work, Huseby remained in the game as a DH, grounding out 6-3 in the 3rd and reaching base on a HBP (glancing blow off his helmet) in the 5th, before heading for the clubhouse.

A collective cheer can be heard in that state of mind known as Wrigleyville...

UPDATE: (tweet from Gordon Wittenmeyer) Grabow to DL, Cashner called up.


I wrote this piece before the update. Sometimes things just make sense.

Randy Wells, aka Buzz Lightyear "To Infinity and Beyond" (5 runs and no outs is an ERA of ∞) gets a DO-OVER. After Randy Wells failed on just about all of the 16 pitches (and 5 runs) he threw in the first inning 'bullpen' tryout on friday vs the Cardinals. He gets to show management that he actually can once again go deep into a game with a quick return to the first inning on the holiday-day game against the Pirates. His competition for that bullpen spot, Tom Gorzellany won the battle to the bullpen. Gorz matched Wells with five quick runs vs the Dodgers on Wednesday's game which was so disappointing that Com-Ed pulled the plug on the Wrigley light grid.

Wells also is returning to the scene of the crime from May 6th, his other ugly outing. As we recall, he also gave up 5 first inning runs in the first on two walks, two singles and two doubles. Lou didn't have quite the quick hook that day as Wells stayed in to give up two more runs in the 2nd inning in what was to be an 11-1 blowout to the Buccos.

Oh, oh Domino. Tom Gorzellany will be in the pen, ready to pitch mop up in the first few innings if history should repeat itself. Gorz, the newest long reliever supplants big Z in the bullpen. Zambrano is supposed to start Wednesday in Pittsburgh, although Z never did get stretched out in a game even as the opportunity presented itself in Wells "oopsie" friday.

With all the roster shuffling soon to occur, the questions are who goes away when Andrew Cashner arrives this week and why isn't Cashner coming today? Is it management indecision or can't they get the radiologist who read John Grabow's MRI  to review it again to see that there IS something wrong, very wrong.

From today's Sun-Times:

Grabow already has undergone an MRI on his left knee after experiencing discomfort, but no injury was found.

Here are the unofficial statistics for EXST Cubs players updated through May 29th. (There is no Official Scorer at Cactus League Extended Spring Training games, so the stats are not official).

The long-awaited announcements have been announced:

Carlos Zambrano will make his return to the starting rotation on Wednesday in Pittsburgh and Tom Gorzelanny be moved from the rotation to the bullpen, where he will joined by a new teammate...

Andrew Casher, who will be summoned from Iowa on Monday, according to Carrie Muskat. Cashner has given up four hits and a run in two innings pitched since the I-Cubs moved him into the pen. Overall, his numbers at Triple-A this year have been stunning. 0.86 ERA and 17/2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 17 IP.

Carlos Romero bounced a game-tying RBI single to right, Alvaro Ramirez lined an RBI single down the RF line, and Pin-Chieh Chen knocked-in two insurance runs with a two-run single, as the EXST Cubs rallied to score four runs in the bottom of the 8th to defeat the EXST Brewers 5-2 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in Mesa. The game was pre-planned as a ten-inning contest, so that more Brewer and Cub pitchers could get game work.


Besides the four-run rally in the 8th, other EXST Cubs highlights today included Tarlandus Mitchell and Austin Kirk combining to fan ten Brewers in just 5-1/3 innings, and Jesus Morelli extending his hit streak to 15 games with a 1st inning single. (Morelli is now hitting 382/447/574 in 21 EXST games since being moved down to Extended Spring Training from Peoria).

Another indescribably beautiful summer day in Chicago; not bad since we're still in May.

Rookie Adam Ottavino, a first-round draft pick back in '06, has been called up to make this start for the Cardinals in place of the injured Kyle Lohse. I don't actually know what the Cubs' recent record is against guys making their Major League debuts, but I feel like it's horrendous. (This game from earlier this year leaps to mind, though Leake has certainly performed well overall.)

Rafael Disla, Cody Shields, and Xavier Batista ripped RBI triples in a five-run Cub 7th, leading the EXST Cubs to an 8-3 victory over the EXST A’s in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning in Mesa.


21-year old Cuban Defector RHP Juan Yasser Serrano got the start for the Cubs and went three innings, allowing one run on four hits and a walk, while striking out two. This was Serrano’s third appearance in the last week, and his pitch count has been increased each time out (one inning - 13 pitches last Saturday, two innings - 23 pitches this past Tuesday, and now three innings - 40 pitches today), as it appears that the Cubs are making an effort to get him through Extended Spring Training as quickly as possible. Serrano received a reported $250K bonus (essentially equivalent to "4th round money") when he was signed by the Cubs this past March.


UPDATE: Apparently this was old news, or at least in that the Dempster agreed to this awhile back according to Levine and the money was already used to sign Xavier Nady.


Ryan Dempster has pulled a rather surprising move by agreeing to defer $3M of his salary from this year over the next 3 years at little to no interest. This is according to a Ken Rosenthal tweet. I'm sure we'll get the rest of the story soon enough and see if this was just Dempster's idea or the Cubs approached him because of an impending deal.

Granted deferring $3M when you make $12.5M is like deciding between taking out the Rolls Royce or the Lamborghini for a spin, but it shall never be uttered that Ryan Dempster isn't a team player.

UPDATE: Aramis Ramirez, who received a cortisone injection in his aching left hand yesterday, is back in the Cub lineup. Here's the batting order: Fukudome 9, Theriot 4, Lee 3, Ramirez 5, Soriano 7, Byrd 8, Soto 2, Castro 6, Wells 1


It's such a spectacular day in Chicago today, it's easy to imagine I live somewhere else.

As for this afternoon's matchup at Wrigley, if it seems late in the year for the Cardinals and Cubs to be meeting for the first time, that's because it is. Not since 1999 have the clubs gone this deep into the calendar without looking directly into each other's hate-filled eyes.

Our Cubs, winners of 8 of 11, seem to have dodged two injury bullets: Jeff Baker's problem yesterday, which included the loss of vision in his right eye, has been diagnosed as an ocular migraine. According to @CarrieMuskat this morning, he is now fine and is uniform. Also, Carlos Zambrano has fully recovered from whatever he had yesterday that seemed like it might be appendicitis but turned out not to be, and he is also ready to go. (BREAKING NEWS: Z's problem was "food-related." Do you really need to know any more?)

Watching some daytime MLB. Camera just zoomed in & didn't realize it caught a pitcher cheating. Don't ask me who/what. Tricks of the trade.

That was a tweet from @CJNitkowski at mid-afternoon Thursday, sent while the former Major Leaguer kicked back and watched sixth-inning action between the Dodgers and Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Bill Shaikin's story in the LA Times explains what caught the attention of Nitkowski and the Dodgers' Casey Blake, who had singled and was standing on first base.

Tags: 

Runey Davis drove-in four runs with a bases-loaded triple and an RBI single, Sergio Burruel knocked-in two more with a two-run single, and Jesus Morelli extended his hitting streak to 14 games with an RBI double, leading the EXST Cubs to an 8-4 victory over the EXST Angels in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #2 this morning in Mesa.

Going for two of three against the Dodgers and some semblance of momentum as the Cardinals come to town over the weekend.

Dodgers against Ted Lilly (1-4, 4.30):
Martin 2, Paul 9, Kemp 8, Blake 5, Loney 3, Johnson 7, DeWitt 4, Carroll 6, Ely 1 

Cubs against John Ely (3-1, 3.41):
Theriot 4, Castro 6, Lee 3, Byrd 8, Fukudome 9, Nady 7, Baker 5, Soto 2, Lilly 1

Yeeechhh! That was nasty.

Wednesday night at Wrigley, the Cubs spotted the Dodgers a 5-0 lead, squandered opportunities to get the game close or even, then did get the game close, failed to get it closer, and lost.

Here's a professional summary of the 8-5 defeat, which was interrupted by an 18-minute power outage in the fourth inning.

Some quick thoughts...

— Tom Gorzelanny struggled with his command from the outset and all in all, pitched just poorly enough to provide some public relations cover to Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella in the next few days, when, I'm thinking, they will officially yank the lefty from the rotation in favor of Carlos Zambrano.

The EXST Cubs and EXST Giants played a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader at Indian School Park in Scottsdale this morning, with the Giants rallying with two runs in the bottom of the 7th to take the game played on Field #3 by a score of 4-2, while the other squads of Cubs and Giants played to a 4-4 tie on Field #4 as the Giants scored the tying run in the bottom of the 8th. (The game on Field #4 was stopped after eight innings).

The Cubs beat the Dodgers, 3-0, on Tuesday night as Ryan Dempster outdueled Clayton Kershaw. Derrek Lee had a single, double, and two-run homer, and drove in all three Cub runs.

It was Dempster's first victory since April 23rd, Lee's first three-RBI game since April 16th, and his first three-hit game since the fourth game of the season way, way, way back on April 9th. 

The EXST A’s defeated the EXST Cubs 5-1 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Papago Park Field #2 in Phoenix this morning.

-- The I-Cubs' Andrew Cashner was named PCL Pitcher of the Week. That's what winning two starts while allowing one run and just eight hits over 13 innings will do for you. And let's not forget: he won the second of those games while dealing with the pressure of having TCR's very own Mike Wellman in the stands.

-- The Giants fan site, 22gigantes, pointed me to an mlb.com article in which the 30 MLB clubs were ranked for drafting success, based on All-Star appearances, Cy Young Awards, etc., won by their draftees in recent years. Cub draftees earned six such awards—four All-Star appearances plus ROY Awards for Kerry Wood and Geovany Soto—which tied the team for 11th place with the Giants, Marlins, and Cardinals.

Jesus Morelli drilled a two-run single to right with two outs in the top of the 9th to plate the tying run, and Brandon Guyer followed with an RBI double off the CF fence to drive in Morelli with what turned out to be the game-winning run, as the EXST Cubs rallied for four runs in the 9th to edge the EXST Angels 6-5 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Diablo Park Field #3 at the Tempe Buttes this morning.

Here are the unofficial statistics for EXST Cubs players through May 22nd. (There is no Official Scorer at Cactus League Extended Spring Training games, so the stats are not official).

My wife and I went to the I-Cub game tonight with friends. Free general admission for a donation to an organization that provides those in need with the "basic essentials." We got in for a can of shaving cream, a couple bars of soap, a toothbrush and a disposable razor.


It was a beautiful night with a breeze whipping out of the south @ 20-25 mph. A misty spray from the grounds crew hosing down the infield carried all the way to our seats behind the Iowa bullpen down the third baseline. My buddy and I agreed that a slugfest was in store.


Jae-Hoon Ha went 4-4 with two triples, a double, and a single, scored three runs, and drove-in two more, Jesus Morelli reached base four times on a single, a double, a triple, and a walk, scored twice, and knocked-in three, and George Matheus had two singles, a double, and two RBI, but it was left to Wes Darvill to drive-in the winning run as the youngster bounced a single through a drawn-in infield with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 7th, rallying one squad of Cubs to an 8-7 victory over one squad of the Giants on Field #3, while over on Field #2, Alvaro Ramirez doubled and tripled, drove-in one run, and scored another, Chris Huseby doubled, walked and scored a run, and Pin-Chieh Chen had two hits, a run scored, and an RBI, but the other squad of Giants clubbed five triples, a double, and a home run, and took advantage of two costly Rafael Disla errors to score four unearned runs, en route to an 8-4 victory over the other squad of Cubs, as the EXST Cubs and EXST Giants split a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader this morning at Fitch Park in Mesa.


21-year old RHP Juan Yasser Serrano made his debut with the Cubs on Field #3, tossing a 13-pitch, ten strike, 1-2-3 inning (4-3, 4-3, and 5-3). Serrano is the Cuban Defector who was signed by the Cubs for a reported $250K bonus this past March, and he appears to be a polished hurler who should advance quickly through the system. I would think he will probably get assigned initially to Daytona (fellow Cuban Defector OF Smaily Borges is already there), once he has gets his arm strength up to where it needs to be. Serrano is not a big guy (maybe 6’1), and he has a solid (almost stocky) build.  

Cody Shields launched a grand slam home run to cap a five-run Cub 1st inning, but the EXST A’s followed with twelve unanswered runs while holding the EXST Cubs scoreless en route to a 12-5 victory in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.


Oakland A’s 18-year old 6’7 Dominican RHP Michael Inoa made his long-awaited pro debut at Fitch Park today, throwing one inning (10 pitches) for the EXST A's. He walked Sergio Burruel on a 3-2 pitch to lead-off the bottom of the 7th inning, before inducing Blair Springfield to bounce into a first-pitch 5-4-3 DP, and striking out Jose Guevara on three fastballs. Inoa received a record $4.25M bonus when he signed with the A’s as a 16-year old in July 2008, but his debut was delayed for more than a year due to a sore elbow.

First things first:

Earlier this afternoon, the Cubs officially signed 36-year-old Bob Howry, demoted Justin Berg to Iowa, and designated David Patton for assignment.

Howry has been well analyzed here and elsewhere, but just in case you've missed it...

The now-ex-former-Cub appeared in 14 games for the Diamondbacks before his recent release, was scored upon in 8, and was cut loose by the D-Backs with an ERA of 10.67 and 6 home runs allowed in just 14 1/3 innings pitched. He was coming off a decent season last year in San Francisco, where he had a 3.39 ERA, a 2:1 K/BB ratio, and allowed fewer home runs in 63 IP (5) than he did in just a few weeks this season in Arizona. (Park effects at work, both ways, maybe?)

As for the game tonight...

Bobby Wagner lined a two-out RBI single to right to drive-in the tying run in the top of the 7th, and then Arismendy Alcantara and Vismeldy Bieneme stroked consecutive RBI singles in the top of the 8th to give the Cubs a two-run lead, as the EXST Cubs defeated the EXST Angels 3-1 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Diablo Park Field #3 at the Tempe Buttes this morning.

UPDATE: Apparently CSN Chicago jumped the gun on that one as Sullivan is saying that nothing has been agreed upon, although the Cubs are interested in bringing Howry into the bullpen fold.


It appears that Carlos Zambrano's return to the rotation can be partially credited to the return of Bob Howry to the Cubs. He'll join the team this weekend after being released by the Diamondbacks earlier in the week.  Howry was 1-0 with the Diamondbacks and that's where the good news ends. He also had a 10.69 ERA in 14 IP, 1.674 WHIP, struck out 6, walked 6 and I guess this isn't a typo, but gave up 6 home runs in those 14 IP.  Howry did have a decent season with the Giants last year with a 3.39 ERA albeit a 2-6 record to follow up the 5.35 ERA he put up with the Cubs in 2008. If Fangraphs data can be trusted, his fastball is averaging 89.4 mph, down about 2-3 miles from where he's been most of his career.

Speaking of Z, he'll throw a 60-70 pitch simulated game on Monday and he may have found his spot in the rotation after tonight. Sloth was pitching a gem against the Phillies before a line drive knocked him out of the game hitting his bare pitching hand. Grab-Ass came in to finish the 7th inning and they head to the bottom of the 8th, up 2-0 and looking for their 4th straight win.

The EXST Angels hammered the EXST Cubs 11-1 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa this morning.

Theriot, 2B #Victorino, CF
Castro, SS Polanco, 3B
Lee, 1B *Utley, 2B
Ramirez, 3B *Howard, 1B
Byrd, CF Werth, RF
Soriano, LF #Rollins, SS
Baker, RF *Ibanez, LF
Soto, C Ruiz, C
*Gorzelanny, P *Moyer, P

Jeff Baker gets an odd start in right field against the lefty Jamie Moyer. No word yet if Xavier Nady is injured or Lou just wanted to get Baker a start, albeit it with the current 5 outfielders already fighting for at-bats, worrying about Jeff Baker getting his hacks would be the least of my worries. For what it's worth, which is absolutely nothing, Baker is 2/7 against Moyer including 1/3 with a double last year.

Jeff Stevens has been called up and will take the bullpen spot of Esmailin Caridad who is back to the disabled list with a right elbow strain. Sean Marshall will get the bulk of the 8th-inning set-up duty until Lou and Larry change their mind again. Marshall's new job probably won't start until tomorrow though as Marshall has pitched three days in a row.

The Phillies are tops in the league in runs scored and tops in the league in OPS against lefties at .846. Good luck to you, Sloth (hat tip to Jacos for the find).

The  I-Cubs are off today and on their way home to begin a binge of games in Des Moines over the next six weeks after a junket to Nevada where they cleaned up by going 7-1 in Las Vegas and Reno. Seems like a good time to check up on them.

The Cubs go for a third consecutive win and try to close out the homestand at 4-4 before they get the crap beaten out of them in Philadelphia as they match-up with the Rockies.

Jhoulys Chacin (yo-LEES cha-SEEN), 2-1, 2.66, goes up against Carlos Silva (CAR-los SIL-va). Silva, 4-0, 3.40, is attempting to become the first Cub pitcher to begin a season 5-0 since Greg Maddux did so back in 2006.

The EXST Giants swept the EXST Cubs in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader played at Indian School Park in Scottsdale this morning, winning 6-2 on Field #1 and 3-2 on Field #2. The game on Field #1 was terminated after seven innings of play, and the game on Field #2 was stopped after the Cubs took their turn (and failed to score) in the top of the 8th. And as usual, the games were played simultaneously.

Aramis Ramirez blasted a one-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the 11th to lead the Cubs to a 4-2 win over the Rockies Monday night at Wrigley. Lou Piniella's post-game press conference, the main topic of which was a player who never even appeared in the game, was at least as newsworthy as the main event.

First about the game:

The Cubs had leads of 1-0 and 2-1 courtesy of run-scoring singles by Aramis Ramirez and Koyie Hill, before the Rockies tied the game in the 8th inning on a single and three walks, two by John Grabow and one by Carlos Marmol. Marmol redeemed himself by inducing an inning-ending double play, nicely initiated by Starlin Castro, to preserve the tie. 

Chris Huseby singled twice, doubled, walked, and knocked-in three runs, Alvaro Ramirez singled three times, stole two bases, and scored two runs, and George Matheus had three hits and scored twice, leading the EXST Cubs to a 6-5 victory over the EXST A’s in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Papago Park Field #2 in Phoenix this morning.

Here are the unofficial statistics for EXST Cubs players through May 15th. (There is no Official Scorer at Cactus League Extended Spring Training games, so the stats are not official).

Brandon May had a double and two singles, three RBI, and a run scored, and Arismendy Alcantara cranked a solo home run, leading the EXST Cubs to a 9-2 drubbing of the EXST Brewers in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action at Maryvale Park Field #7 in Phoenix this morning.

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