July 2010

Twenty-Six Runs per Hour

Manager Ryne Sandberg's Iowa Cub lineup SCORED 4 runs in 9 minutes? I LOVE THIS STAT! That translates to 26.6 runs per hour. Thankfully, they suspend games in triple-A rather than just wash them out and make it a do-over. The RPH just might go up when the game resumes in a month.

Manager Lou Piniella's Chicago Cubs GAVE UP runs at a similar velocity. After last night's 17-2 debacle vs the Rockies in an 8th inning that saw 11 consecutive hits (13 total hits but 11 hits with 2 outs) and 12 runs score...that's what I'm talking about, RUNS PER MINUTE. The only problem is that the Chicago National League franchise's role model has been Captain Peter Wrongway Peachfuzz. It was too painful for me to use a stopwatch on that fiasco. The last time the Cubs gave up 12 in one inning was Sept. 24, 1985 vs the Expos. The Expos won that game 17-15 and Expo hat wearing Andre Dawson went 4-6 with 8 rbi and 3 homers. Oddly, a pitcher named Ray Fontenot took the loss for the Cubs. At least those Cubs scored 12 runs over the last 3 innings, which is more than this inept group could claim.

Why can't the I-Cubs just play out their schedule at Wrigley and hide the lame ducks in Des Moines?

As far as the trading deadline ending later this afternoon, the Saturday morning latest says Lilly is still on the block with the Dodgers, Twins, Tigers and Yankees for some reason showing interest. "Minor sniff's" on Xavier Nada and Little Babe Ruth are out there per Ken Rosenthal. Something about interest in DBack Kelly Johnson too. If they wanted him now, it seems they missed the boat since he would have come for less when he was a free agent nobody wanted last off-season. Did Jim Hendry misread the saying as buy-high and sell-low? I hate it when we get stuff bass-ackwards.

and a bit more detail on runs-per-minute after the break...

Andy McPhail snubs Ryne Sandberg

Orioles President Andy McPhail, of the royal baseball McPhail lineage (grandpa Larry, dad Lee) had a chance to snag another ex-Cub and went another direction today by hiring non-nonsense manager, Buck Showalter.  Recent speculation by Tribster, Steve Rosenbloom, had Sandberg on Andy's speed dial but it seems it wasn't so. The O's beat writer for mlb.com said the short list was former O's catcher Rick Dempsey, former Indians manager Eric Wedge and Bobby Valentine, who has recently volunteered his services as the next Cub manager.

Ryan Theriot—a Modern-Day Max Flack?

On Memorial Day, 1922, the Cubs and Cardinals completed a trade between games of a split doubleheader. After playing for their respective teams in the morning game, Cubs outfielder Max Flack and Cards OF Cliff Heathcote were traded for one another. Each man played for his new team in the afternoon.

The Cubs and Rockies have no doubleheaders scheduled this weekend, but in line with rumors that have been coming out of Chicago the past couple days, the Denver Post is reporting that Ryan Theriot may begin the weekend series as a Cub and end it as a member of the Rockies.

Cubs Shutout Padres at HoHoKam Water Park

Four pitchers combined to throw a five-hit shutout, and Vismeldy Bieneme reached base four times, stole two bases, and scored three runs, as the AZL Cubs blanked the AZL Padres 3-0 in a game that was played in a steady monsoon drizzle at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa Tuesday night.  

Good Times with Ted

By all accounts, Ted Lilly will be an ex-Cub by Saturday's trading deadline, in which case tonight's start at Houston will be his last for the team. Signed in December, 2006 after finalizing a deal with Cubs GM Jim Hendry moments before Hendry underwent an angioplasty, Lilly will go down as one of the GM's savvier acquisitions.

Game Thread: Cubs (45-54) @ Astros (40-58)

A couple items from the rumor mill...

Ken Rosenthal says the Cubs are running a Kosuke Sale. And Bruce Levine is apparently reporting that Ryan Theriot's stock went up over the weekend and that he is now on the radars of the Rockies, Padres, and Tigers. Tip o' the hat to @TheCCO, who passed along Levine's report, and also to Tim McGinnis of Aisle 424 (@Aisle424) who wrote so eloquently of Theriot:

A Double-Dare to the Baseball Gods

It's official. I've double-dared (if I were Ryan Theriot, it would be a single dare) the Baseball Gods to invoke their wrath. All I can hope for is that they won't think about reversing reverse psychology.

My spouse loves to travel. I love baseball season. This has lead to 30 years of negotiating the avoidance of travel during just a few parts of the year. Early April and September-October.

I'm serious losing this battle. Last year we took a 3 week trip to China, breaking my string of being at Wrigley Field for opening day, a streak of over 30 years (I've been back in Chicago since college days).

The one absolute taboo was that we wouldn't take a major trip in September or October because that was the wrapup of the baseball season and playoffs. Her argument was September/October is the best weather for travel to many of her favorite places. For years, she checks in every so often asking that if the Cubs were out of contention, could we take a trip in September or October.

After taking this seasons beatings and holding out hope as long as I could, I've given in. The plane tickets are booked to southern France and I'm daring the Baseball Gods to beat me up, invoking the 1935 Cubs as my lesson on what I'm about to miss...

What's So Big About Z?

He said he would meet the press on Wednesday afternoon but word was he jetted back to Chicago instead. Then the plan was to talk with media types after a pitching cameo Thursday night. He pitched a little but didn't talk at all, using the Iowa Cubs media relations people the way bigshot execs use secretaries to dodge phone calls. The enabling continues.

To his credit, Carlos Zambrano took it upon himself to scribble a few marks of Zorro for unaccountably adoring fans before last night's game in Des Moines. The biggest crowd of the year, nearly 13,000, had assembled, but Zambrano wasn't the only attraction. It also happened to be Casey Blake bobblehead night and Casey Blake is big in these parts. He hails from Indianola, a village not too far south of town.

On Z's Return, Lilly's Exit, and Girardi's No-Comment

— A season-high crowd of nearly 13,000—more than 5,000 above than the I-Cubs' average—was on hand for Carlos Zambrano's rehab appearance last night in Des Moines. 

Zambrano threw a bumpy but scoreless inning in which he got 10 of 15 pitches over the plate, but allowed two singles and was saved from a third hit by Sam Fuld's catch against the center-field wall. (See Mike Wellman's full account here.)


Current plans are for Zambrano to pitch in Round Rock over the weekend and then in Albuquerque on Tuesday before rejoining the big club in Colorado.

When the Cat's Away El Mouse Will Finally Play

After getting stood up at a mid-day press conference with a once angry pitcher in exile from the big leagues I went home after work to change into shorts and sandals and then headed back to the ballpark. Last night I pulled my first shift of the summer in the "Ryne Line," the nightly queue that forms in the stands to get a brief audience with the only HOF'er currently at work in baseball's minor leagues.

Since I was there alone I was left to pass the wait by watching the Oklahoma City Redhawks take BP before the grounds crew painted the infield a dark red and bright white. I couldn't help but eavesdrop on some of the conversations going on around me. One guy a few spots back remarked that he can't stand the Metrodome and doesn't plan on going to a Twins' game again until or unless they get an outdoor stadium. Good luck with that, pal!

Eventually I got the manager of the first place Iowa Cubs to sign a PCL ball and one of the cards they were passing out at the Wrigley Field turnstiles on the day in 2005, about a month after his induction at Cooperstown, when his #23 was retired and hoisted up the foul pole.

I don't know enough about big league baseball or Ryne Sandberg to know what kind of a manager he would be at that level. I do think he has grown into his role as a manager at this level.

Don't Underestimate the Cubs: They Can Make a Mess of Anything

After all these years, I should know better than to underestimate the Cubs' ability to screw things up, but each time they do, I am somehow sickened anew. This 10-week, all-expenses-paid farewell tour of the National League granted to Lou Piniella is just the latest example.

Let the Lou Piniella Farewell Tour Begin

After 23 years as a manager and many, many victories, though not a single one of them in the post-season as the manager of the Chicago Cubs, Lou Piniella is retiring at season's end.

Piniella, Jim Hendry, and Tom Ricketts are scheduled to meet with the press at about 4:15.

More to come later on.

Big "Z" Returns to The Game

Carlos Zambrano got into his first game action since his infamous dugout meltdown at U. S. Cellular Field on June 25th, throwing a perfect 1-2-3 second inning (12 pitches - 10 strikes) at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa tonight.

The AZL Cubs lost the game 2-1, as the AZL Royals scored two runs in the top of the 6th off RHP Luis Liria (4 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 6/4 GO/FO, 58 pitches - 37 strikes) to overcome a 1-0 deficit.

box score

Iowa Cubs RHP Jeff Gray (groin strain) got the start for the AZL Cubs, throwing one inning (12 pitches - 9 strikes) in what was his second rehab outing in three days (he threw an inning for the AZL Cubs this past Saturday night also). Gray struck out Cameron Connor (swinging) to lead-off the game, before surrendering a one-out single to Daniel Mateo. Gray then got out of the inning when Michael Antonio grounded into a room-service 6-4-3 DP. Gray has been on the I-Cubs DL since May 31st, and looks to be about ready to return to Des Moines.

There wasn't much Cubs offense tonight, as Royals pitchers limited the Cubs to just one run on four hits, retiring 10 of the last 11 Cub hitters. The Cubs scored their lone run in the bottom of the 4th when Albert Hernandez and Ryan Cuneo singled, advanced a base a piece on a well-executed double-steal, before Hernandez scored on a WP.

Here is Zambrano's inning, pitch-by-pitch:

Game thread: Astros (37-55) @ Cubs (42-51)

According to the Playoff Odds Report at Baseball Prospectus, your Chicago Cubs enter play tonight with a .66% chance of reaching the post-season. Yes, point-six-six percent, as in 66 percent of 1 percent. Pretty sad, huh?

The Astros, however, come into the game with a .00075% chance of reaching the playoffs, so by BP's figuring, the Cubs are about 866 times more likely to get to the post-season than are the Astros.

Feeling better now about 2010?

Do the Cubs Have a White Flag in Their Future?

"It's just disappointing, I guess, to think you have a team where everybody in here thinks you can still do it and you can't. You'll never know what could have happened."

So said White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura to Phil Rogers of the Tribune on August 1, 1997, the day after Ventura's bosses completed the so-called "White Flag Trade," in which the Sox shipped three of Ventura's veteran teammates to San Francisco for six minor leaguers, all while Ventura's team—52-53 at the time—sat just 3 1/2 games behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians.

"This team had a chance, and it didn't seize it. It was hard to look at this team and feel very confident. I wasn't interested in finishing second in a poker hand."

Short Relief

Deep Threat beat Rich Harden Friday night, a guy he relieved effectively a few times in late 2008 when both were better pitchers than either of them has been in 2010...Brad Snyder mashed TWO three-run homers last night as the I-Cubs won again to preserve their one-game lead in a division where all four teams are separated by a mere one and a half games.

2010 Rule 4 Draft Update

With one month left until the deadline to sign players selected in last month's 2010 Rule 4 Draft, here are the draft picks and Non-Drafted Free-Agents (NDFA) who have been signed by the Cubs, and those who remain unsigned.

So far, the Cubs have signed 23 of their 50 draft picks, plus three NDFA. The Cubs typically sign about 30 of their 50 picks, so expect the Cubs to sign maybe another seven players before the deadline.

"Lilly Watch 2010," plus Joey Hates Us; He Really, Really Hates Us!


Phillies (47-41) @ Cubs (40-50)

Phillies lineup v. Ted Lilly (3-8, 4.08; 1-4, 6.43 all-time v. Phillies)
Rollins 6, Victorino 8, Werth 9, Howard 3, Francisco 7, Ransom 5, Ruiz 2, Valdez 4, Blanton 1

Cubs lineup v. Joe Blanton (3-5, 6.41; 0-0, 2.75 all-time v. Cubs)
Theriot 4, Colvin 9, Lee 3, Ramirez 5, Byrd 8, Soriano 7, Castro 6, Soto 2, Lilly 1


— According to Bruce Levine, Carlos Zambrano had a 25-pitch throwing session in Mesa, following the completion of his anger-management counseling. Zambrano and the Cubs are supposed to decide next week where Zambrano will be headed for his rehab stint.

— Paul Sullivan wrote that Jim Hendry and Ted Lilly got together before last night's game to discuss Lilly's future. Lilly, who will start this afternoon's game against the Phillies' Joe Blanton, was awful in his last two starts before the break, against the Reds and Dodgers—5 homers, 18 hits and 14 ER allowed in just 10 1/3 innings.

Springfield & Burruel Lead Cubs to Victory

Sergio Burruel smacked a bases-loaded triple to put the Cubs on the board, and Blair Springfield reached base four times on two singles, a double, and a walk, drove-in two runs, and scored two more, leading the AZL Cubs to a 10-5 victory over the AZL Rangers in Arizona League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa tonight.

Dodger Miscues Just Keep On Giving

Xavier Batista rapped out three singles and an RBI double and scored four runs, and his teammates took advantage of six errors, as the AZL Cubs defeated the AZL Dodgers 11-5 in Arizona League action at HoHoKam Park in Mesa tonight.

All Stardust Memories

Hey, consecutive weeks with three-day undefeated stretches! Do you think…never mind.

Ever been to an all-star game? I’ve been to two which ties with holes-in-one on my personal list of something-you-don’t-see-every-day experiences.

I went with some pals to the 1983 game at Comiskey Park where Fred Lynn hit the first [and still the only?] grand slam in AS history off of Atlee Hammaker. What I remember more than that is drinking across the street at a joint called McCuddy’s [I think] that was presided over by an old matriarch proprietress who regaled us with stories about Ruth dashing over for a cold one between innings when the Yankees were in town. Speaking of the Bambino, the other highlight of that trip was another old gal, the Babe’s sister, who was in attendance and whose autograph I got on a game program which I cannot locate now. I don’t remember her name but I remember that she noted herself as “Babe Ruth’s sister” in a parenthetical p.s. to her signature.

A Tale of Two Ballparks

On Monday, June 28 I watched the Cubs snap the Pirates’ 17 game road losing streak from the vantage point of Bob Uecker seats in the last row of section 506 at Wrigley Field. They didn’t look any less ugly from there than they would have up closer.

Five days later was my maiden voyage at sparkling new Target Field in the Twin Cities. What a contrast of premises AND tenants.

Updates on Beatings, Byrd and Berg


Lineups for Cubs @ Diamondbacks...

Cubs vs. Ian Kennedy
Fukudome 9, Theriot 4, Byrd 8, Colvin 7, Nady 3, Ramirez 5, Castro 6, Soto 2, Gorzelanny 1

D-backs vs. Tom Gorzelanny
Young 8, Johnson 4, Upton 9, Montero 2, Reynolds 5, LaRoche 3, Drew 6, Gillespie 7, Kennedy 1

The dramatic high point of my Independence Day was seeing a little kid take a dump in our community pool.

Speaking of the Cubs...

Sunday's 14-3 loss marked not just the Cubs' second defeat to the Reds by 11 or more runs in the course of their four-game series, it was the Cubs' third such shellacking in their past nine home games. (You may have forgotten this doozy from a couple weeks back.)

Not sure what other point to make about this except personally, I'm pretty numb to the whole business. The 14-3's no longer bother me any more than the 3-1's or 2-0's.

Acceptance is the last of the Seven Stages of Grief, right?

Cubs Pitchers Smoke Out the Tribe

Three Cub pitchers combined to throw a four-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts, as the AZL Cubs celebrated the 4th of July with a 2-0 blanking of the AZL Indians in Arizona League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa tonight.  

Gone With the Wind?

Is it just me or has the number of good old fashioned slugfests at Wrigley Field dwindled in recent years? Even throwing out the fact that this year's Cubs couldn't hold up their end of one, my sense is that there are lots less of the 10-9, 11-7, 14-10 type scores that used to tax the old green abacus on a regular basis once the summer wind started to blow out of the south.

Who else listened to or saw the Cub-Phillie classic that I think was 8-7 after one and ended 23-22? I remember moaning that the Cubs were the only team that could put up 22 and still get beat.

Angels Blank Cubs at HoHoKam

With Cubs Player Personnel Director Oneri Fleita in attendance, RHP Jadel Mendez worked-out of a no outs/bases loaded jam in the top of the 8th to preserve a scoreless tie, but was not as fortunate in the top of the 9th as the AZL Angels scored four times en route to a 4-0 whitewashing of the AZL Cubs in Arizona League action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this evening.

Recent comments

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  • RF is actually easier to play than LF in PNC so I'd guess Schwarber is there and that's why he was playing it Friday but yeah I'd say that's hopefully accurate.

  • Guess for Wednesday's lineup: Fowler (CF), Schwarber (LF), Bryant (3B), Rizzo (1B), Castro (2B), Montero (C), Russell (SS), Arrieta (P), Coughlan (RF)

  • Dusty already has blue and red wrist bands.

    /cmon dude

  • a day old, but fwiw...

    Carrie Muskat @CarrieMuskat · Oct 4
    Theo and Jed at Miller Park to talk to #Cubs Maddon and staff. Playoff roster to be finalized by Wednesday morning

  • I'm guessing the order is the other way around.

  • cc sab going into alcohol rehab, missing the post-season for the yanks.

  • no bud black? cold.

  • Break up the Cubs!
    MLB.com throws out two names to manage the Nats: Dave Martinez and Wally Backman.

  • matt williams (WAS) fired...shocker. he lost control and confidence of that clubhouse way before papelbum got there.

    having a roster chock full of egomaniacs and assholes doesn't help.

    he won 'manager of the year' last year, fwiw.

  • If he were dealing with Chicago traffic, I would take my chances with the golf cart.

  • You can get to the MKE airport from Miller Park via all surface streets, no real reason to get on the expressway. Unless he is in a real hurry to get to Az.

  • CUBSTER: I would think a cab or a limo would get Motte to the airport faster than a golf cart. The maximum speed of a golf cart is (what?) maybe 15 MPH, which could actually be dangerous on an expressway. 

  • from the Sunday Trib...

    Reliever Jason Motte waved as he left the visitor’s clubhouse at Miller Park on a golf cart en route to the airport to catch a flight to Arizona to start a rehab assignment.
    Motte has been on the 15-day disabled list since Aug. 24 because of a right shoulder strain, but there’s a possibility he could rejoin the Cubs if they advance deep in the playoffs.
    Motte is scheduled to pitch in simulated games and in Instructional League games in Arizona.

  • 8 in a row to end the year...let's do this playoffs thing.

  • shelby miller (ATL) finishes the season with a win, snapping his 24-game winless streak...because ATL bats are non-existent.

    3.02 era, 1.25 whip, 205.1ip, 171K

    6-17 w/l...ugg.

  • Totally independent of the Cubs winning or losing today, Dan Haren came into today's game having earned $2M of his potential $3M in performance bonuses for 2015. 

    By making the start (his 32nd start of the season) he picked up $500K, and he'll get the remaining $500K if he can throw at least 8.2 IP in the game (he was at 181.1 IP coming into the game, and he needs to reach 190 IP to get the remaining $500K), 

    It's a bit like the old "Bowling for Dollars" TV show, but of course Haren is actually "Pitching for Dollars."