Gameday Open Thread

A tour of the latest from the web...

-  A rather random rumor that the Cubs may have some interest in A's shortstop Bobby Crosby.He's set to make $5.25M this year, so you know he wouldn't cost much in prospects and the A's would probably have to eat at least half his salary. If he's willing to be a utility guy, he'd be a step up from Aaron Miles. Baseball Prospectus projects Crosby at a .243 EqA versus Miles .232. Defensively, Crosby's been a bit above average (according to UZR) to below average (according to BP) at shortstop but probably has a strong enough arm to handle third base. Of course, he'd be replacing Joey Gathright or Micah Hoffpauir on the roster - unless Lou comes through with a six-man bench - and in that case he'd be replacing Bobby Scales, Jake Fox, Luis Rivas or Corey Koskie, in which we'd finally have an acceptable scenario for acquiring Crosby. That is unless the Cubs wise up quickly on this Aaron Miles fiasco that is about to be unleased upon unsuspecting fans.

- Caption fun with Ted Lilly at Big League Stew. Comment #3 has to be the winner.

- Dave Pinto runs through the Cubs expected offensive output. Marcel Projections and the Lineup Tool come up with 5.15 runs per game with the projected lineup, 5.42 with the optimum lineup. The Cubs scored 5.31 runs per game last year.

UPDATE: One wonderful reader pointed out that the probable lineup has Fukudome batting second which(to steal kmokeefe's line) is improbable (at least to begin the season). Let's try it on our own using the lineup of Soriano, Fontenot, Lee, Bradley, Ramirez, Fukudome, Soto, Theriot and the pitcher as suggested by Lou (actually Lou suggested Aaron Miles batting second, but we'll do that next).

That comes up with 5.29 runs per game. The optimal lineup of Bradley, Soto, Fukudome, Ramirez, Lee, Soriano, Fontenot, Pitcher and Theriot comes up with 5.469 runs per game. Flipping Miles for Fontenot results in: 5.025 runs per game and 5.317 with the computer-generated optimal lineup. 

- Lou took on Steve Phillips...Lou will win.

- Baseball Analysts takes a look at the All-Time One Teamers - the best player at each position to play for only one club. I checked on Ryne Sandberg(80.8) and Ernie Banks (80), but both are out-WARP'd by the author's choices of  Charlie Gehringer (85.3) and Cal Ripken Jr. (120.7). I was quite surprised to see Lou Whitaker(85.7) with a better career WARP-3 than Sandberg; I think I'll need to add him to my subjective Hall of Fame class.

UPDATE #2: Clearly I need an editor, as it was pointed out that Sandberg played 13 games for the Phillies in 1981.

- The miracles of science. We'll be taking donations for TCR's own $10,000 electrolysis machine in April.

- Split-squad action today, Cubs travel to Goodyear to take on the Indians; Carl Pavano vs. Chad Gaudin to start. Milton Bradley will DH in that game as well. Here's the lineup from Muskat:

CF Joey Gathright, SS Aaron Miles, 1B Derrek Lee, DH Bradley, LF Jason Dubois, RF Brad Snyder, 3B Bobby Scales, 2B Nate Spears.

Jeff Samardzija will lead the team in Las Vegas tonight versus the White Sox. MLB.com shows radio for the Indians game and TV for the White Sox game.

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
Marshall.

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

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. 

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
Dempster.

Carlos Marmol has changed his mind and will pitch in the World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic. Zambrano is still sitting out though.

Curt Schilling said if he does pitch this year, he would like it to be for either the Tampa Bay Rays or the Chicago Cubs. A Cubs source seems open to the idea.  Of course, I'm not sure if anyone has seen if he can still pitch.

Sam Fuld was named to Baseball America's All Winter League Team.

Thanks to the readers for the links.

Aaron Heilman goes for the Cubs, Jeff Marquez for the White Sox.

Corey Koskie signed a minor league deal and will join the Cubs after Team Canada is eliminated from the WBC. The Cubs have been searching for someone that could play third base and spell Aramis Ramirez on occasion, and with his left-handedness he seems like the perfect fit if the game hasn't passed him by.

Ted Lilly will start for the Cubs before heading off to Team USA. The Rangers will start Scott Feldman.

Lineup from Muskat:

 SS Ryan Theriot, CF Reed Johnson, 1B Micah Hoffpauir, DH Jason Dubois,
C Geovany Soto, 2B Mike Fontenot, LF Doug Deeds, 3B Luis Rivas, RF So
Taguchi.

 Yovanni Gallardo vs. Sean Marshall to start the game at HoHoKam Park.

Lineup from Muskat:

CF Joey Gathright, 2B Aaron Miles, RF Milton Bradley, 3B Aramis
Ramirez, LF Micah Hoffpauir, 1B Jake Fox, C Paul Bako, SS Darwin Barney
and P Sean Marshall.

The Cactus League season begins with its newest member, the Los Angeles Dodgers strolling into HoHoKam Park. Jeff Samardzija and Mitch Atkins are set to go for the Cubs. The Dodgers will trot out Claudio Vargas to start the game.

Feel the excitement!


Lineups from Sullivan:

Dodgers: Pierre LF, Ausmus C, Ethier RF, Loney 1B, Blake 3B, Kemp CF, DeWitt 2B, Young DH, Abreu SS
Cubs: Soriano LF, Theriot SS, Lee 1B, Hoffpauir DH, Soto C, Fontenot 2B, Johnson CF, Robnett RF, Scales 3B

 

 

Rich Harden vs.
Hiroki Kuroda
  *5-1, 1.77, 89 K, 30 BB, 71 IP 2008   9-10, 3.73, 116 K, 42 BB, 183.1 IP
  1-2, 6.43, 5 K, 7 BB, 7 IP Post   (None)
  *NL stats only      
         
LF Alfonso Soriano   SS #Rafael Furcal
2B *Mike Fontenot   C Russell Martin
1B Derrek Lee   LF Manny Ramirez
3B Aramis Ramirez   RF Andre Ethier
C Geovany Soto   1B *James Loney
CF *Jim Edmonds   CF Matt Kemp
RF Mark DeRosa   2B *Blake DeWitt
SS Ryan Theriot   3B Casey Blake
P *Rich Harden   P Hiroki Kuroda

 

Our very own Rob G. will be in the stands at tonight's game. Be sure to look for him on the broadcast.

Thoughts on Hiroki Kuroda from "Blue Notes," the L.A. Times blog about the Dodgers:

...when the Japanese import is on, dude typically gets into a serious,
sometimes unhittable groove. But he's often the Bizarro-version of
that pitcher after the first bit of trouble, more often than not
tossing himself further into trouble than figuring a way out of it.

In two starts against the Cubs this year, Kuroda has pitched 15 1/3 innings and allowed one earned run. In other words, we really haven't come across that "first bit of trouble" part.

 

SP Chad Billingsley   SP Carlos Zambrano
  16-10, 3.14, 201 K, 80 BB, 200.2 IP   2008   14-6, 3.91, 130 K, 72 BB, 188.2 IP
  0-0, 0.00, 3 K, 0 BB, 2 IP Post   0-1, 4.37, 20 K, 6 BB, 22.2 IP
         
SS #Rafael Furcal   LF Alfonso Soriano
C Russell Martin   SS Ryan Theriot
LF Manny Ramirez   1B Derrek Lee
RF *Andre Ethier   3B Aramis Ramirez
1B *James Loney   2B Mark DeRosa
CF Matt Kemp   CF *Jim Edmonds
2B *Blake DeWitt   C Geovany Soto
3B Casey Blake   RF *Kosuke Fukudome
P Chad Billingsley   P #Carlos Zambrano

 

It has taken a good 21 hours of self pity and a bracing White Sox defeat to clear my head and even let me think about previewing Game Two.

Yes, last night went down harsh, but from reading Rob's post and many of the ensuing comments earlier this afternoon, it is clear that there are still some optimistic souls in Cubdom. All I can say is, God bless you all.

 

Starters' Records Since 8/1/08

    W  
 L   
IP   
 H/9  
 K/9  
 BB/9  
 ERA  
 HR/9  
 No-Hitters Thrown
Billingsley 5 1 62 10.2 8.1 3.5 3.34 .73 0
Zambrano 2 2 47 8.6 6.5 5.0 7.28 1.80 1

 

Billingsley pitched twice against the Cubs this season. On both occasions, he matched up with Ryan Dempster. Once, Billingsley threw well (7 K, 2 ER in 6 IP); the other time, he threw not as well. The Cubs won both contests.

Among Cub hitters, only Jim Edmonds has more than 10 career plate appearances against the 23-year-old Billingsley, though Fukudome, Lee, and DeRosa have all tagged him for homers.

Zambrano, meanwhile,

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Ryan Dempster SP Derek Lowe
17-6, 2.96, 187 K,76 BB, 206.2 IP (2008)
14-11, 3.24, 147 K, 45 BB, 211 IP
    (Playoffs) 5-4, 3.34, 43 K, 23 BB, 67.1 IP
LF Alfonso Soirano SS #Rafael Furcal
RF *Kosuke Fukudome C Russell Martin
1B Derrek Lee LF Manny Ramirez
3B Aramis Ramirez RF *Andre Ethier
C Geovany Soto 1B *James Loney
CF *Jim Edmonds CF Matt Kemp
2B Mark DeRosa 2B *Blake DeWitt
SS Ryan Theriot C Casey Blake
P Ryan Dempster P Derek Lowe

 

The calender page flips to October and the Cubs are in the unfamiliar position of being the favorites. Well maybe not the favorites to win it all, I think that honor belongs to the Angels or Red Sox, but certainly the team to beat in the National League. TBS will wax poetic about curses and goats and I'll set the over/under line on a Bartman clip at top of the third. And I'll roll my eyes with each and every mention. 

But here we are, on the cusp of the playoffs with a Cubs team that is as good as many of us have ever seen; on the heels of a season that exceeded even the loftiest of expectations. Is this the team to break the drought? I don't know, but I sure do believe it is. 

As for today's game... 

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Angel Guzman SP *C.C. Sabathia
0-0, 7.04, 6 K, 4 BB, 7.2 IP (NL)
10-2, 1.78, 121 K, 24 BB, 121.2 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soirano CF Mike Cameron
SS Ryan Theriot 2B #Ray Durham
1B Derrek Lee LF Ryan Braun
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Prince Fielder
CF Reed Johnson SS J.J. Hardy
RF *Micah Hoffpauir RF Corey Hart
2B Ronny Cedeno 3B *Craig Counsell
C Henry Blanco C Jason Kendall
P Angel Guzman P *C.C. Sabathia

 

First, Paul Sullivan writes that despite his recent travails (5.40 ERA in September), Jeff Samardzija has made the post-season roster and that Chad Gaudin will likely be a spectator.

As for today's game, Mark DeRosa (calf strain) was hoping to get in a few swings so he
didn't have to go into the playoffs cold. Alas, he is not in the starting
lineup. Geovany Soto (sore hand) is also sitting.

The Brewers begin play tied with the Mutts for the Wild Card, with a one-game tiebreaker tomorrow at Shea in the teams' futures if things don't get settled today. (As I post this, the Marlins and Mets are waiting out a rain delay at Shea.)

 

"It's not going to matter because, well, it is going to matter but it's not going to matter,"

Translated into English, it means that Lou Piniella decided that Carlos Zambrano would not pitch the first inning or two of today's regular season finale at Milwaukee and Angel Guzman will.

Translated into Sullivanese...

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP *Ted Lilly SP Ben Sheets
16-9, 4.17, 180 K, 63 BB, 198.2 IP
13-8, 2.98, 157 K, 45 BB, 196 IP
       
RF *Kosuke Fukudome CF Mike Cameron
SS Ronny Cedeno 3B Bill Hall
1B *Micah Hoffpauir LF Ryan Braun
LF *Daryle Ward 1B *Prince Fielder
CF Reed Johnson SS J.J. Hardy
2B *Mike Fontenot RF Corey Hart
3B Casey McGehee 3B Rickie Weeks
C Henry Blanco C Jason Kendall
P *Ted Lilly P Ben Sheets

 

A Brewers win and a Mets loss (Mets currently up 1-0 in the 3rd) and the Brewers would clinch and the Cubs would know their opponent for the NLDS. To honor the occasion, Lou has trotted out the "B" squad. The game should be on Fox for most of the country I believe.

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Ryan Dempster SP Jeff Suppan
17-6, 2.99, 183 K, 75 BB, 201.2 IP
10-10, 5.06, 85 K, 66 BB, 172.2 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano CF Mike Cameron
2B *Mike Fontenot 2B *Ray Durham
1B Derrek Lee LF Ryan Braun
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Prince Fielder
RF *Micah Hoffpauir SS J.J. Hardy
C Geovany Soto RF Corey Hart
CF *Jim Edmonds 3B *Craig Counsell
SS Ryan Theriot C Jason Kendall
P Ryan Dempster P Jeff Suppan

 

The Cubs continue their Spoiler Tour 2008 and will do their best to knock out their division rivals. The only thing that probably really matters for the Cubs is that the races are still undecided on Sunday as the Phils, Brewers and Mets have their aces scheduled. Meaning if they have to use them, they won't be able to go again until Game 2 at the earliest and possibly not until Game 3 of the NLDS. Of course if the Brewers end up winning the wild card, none of that will matter to the Cubs either as they'll see the Dodgers and Derek Lowe in Game 1.

As for personal goals, Dempster goes for win number 18 and will try to keep his ERA under three for the season and Geovany Soto is looking to match or pass up Billy Williams Cubs rookie record of 25 home runs - Soto is at 23.

Game Chat | Press Pass | BR Preview

SP Rich Harden SP Pedro Martinez
(NL) 5-1, 1.66, 85 K, 25 BB, 65 IP
5-6, 5.50, 78 K, 40 BB, 103 IP
       
LF *Felix Pie SS #Jose Reyes
SS Ryan Theriot LF *Daniel Murphy
1B *Micah Hoffpauir 3B David Wright
CF *Jim Edmonds 1B *Carlos Delgado
2B *Mike Fontenot CF #Carlos Beltran
3B Casey McGehee RF *Ryan Church
RF *Kosuke Fukudome 2B Ramon Martinez
C #Koyie Hill C Robinson Cancel
P *Rich Harden P Pedro Martinez

 

The Cubs play their last-ever regular season game at The House That Jesse Gonder Built. In 44 years of play at Shea (the Mets played their first two years in the Polo Grounds), the Cubs have a 146-164 record.

Mark DeRosa and his strained calf muscle will enjoy tonight's game from the bench. Rich Harden makes his first-ever start against the Mets and Pedro Martinez, who is making his first start against the Cubs in 11 years, when he was still with the Expos.

A Cub win will give the team 97 wins for the first time since 1945.

WIth last night's extra-inning battle taxing the Mets' bullpen, Jerry Manuel has said he would consider using starter John Maine out of the pen tonight if/when he has to lift Pedro, who has only won twice in his last 11 starts.

I can't wait for all of these exhibition games to end so we can get down to real baseball.

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