Game 49 Review

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W: Greg Maddux (3-3) L: Wilson Alvarez (1-3) SV: Ryan Dempster (5)
Itís nice to get back to the writing discussing a win. The Cubs extend their winning streak to 4 and for the first time since April 30th, .500 can be seen in the rearview mirror. The game started off as well as you anyone could hope. The first pitch of the game was an 87 mph meatball down the middle of the plate by Wilson Alvarez to Jerry Hairston. I thought to myself, that I bet scouts have gotten the word out that Hairston likes to take pitches to start off the game and wondered if Hairston should every once in awhile, rock that first pitch fastball just to keep teams on their toes. Of course Alvarez dared to throw the exact same pitch on the next offering and Hairston sent it over the left field stands for a quick 1-0 lead. And then I thought to myself, what the hell do I know? The Cubs seemed to pound Alvarez for as long as he was in the game, but only managed a 4-0 lead. The Dodgers cut it to 4-2 after Corey Patterson just missed making 2 consecutive amazing plays, one ended up being a short-hop single and the other a 2 run double off the left center field wall. Aramis Ramirez continued what is hopefully a season long hot streak going 3 for 4, including a solo homer to extend the lead to 5-2. The game belonged to Greg Maddux who notched career victory #308 and is now only 43 strikeouts short of becoming the 9th pitcher in history with 300 victories and 3000 strikeouts. For the third straight game Maddux didnít walk a batter and continually had the Dodgers meekly grounding balls around the infield. Despite walking the first two batters in the 8th, Todd Wellemeyer continued his scoreless streak with some help from Will Ohman. Ryan Dempster gave up a home run but managed his fifth save. Carlos Zambrano goes tomorrow and hopefully he comes with his best. A win tomorrow is somewhat essential to staying over .500 and gaining some much needed momentum before facing the super hot San Diego Padres, particularly since John Koronka looks to be called up on Wednesday for his major league debut.


This is all very encouraging. I'm still on a high from the LaTroy trade. What exactly is the status on Jerome Williams? If I'm not mistaken, he recently pitched in a game(I think started) for the Giants, so unless some new injury has came about in the last week or so, why isn't he up? But, as Rob said, Ramirez is finally hitting the ball like he's worth all the money we gave to him and maybe KPax is coming into some consistency. The bullpen has been very impressive, and aside from the hanger that Dempster left up for the homer last night, his stuff was brilliant. But the bullpen better be ready to go long relief tomorrow night. I don't forsee Koronka lasting long.

Williams hasn't been in the majors since early April -- he was only supposed to go down to AAA ffor a few starts because the Giants didn't need 5 starters, but he has been struggling with his delivery and is, I would say, not yet ready to come back to the majors.

Agreed Christian, but I've heard that the Cubs are hoping and preparing Williams to start June 6 in place of Prior. Hopefully he has a good start in AAA before then.

"but he has been struggling with his delivery" Hopefully Rothschild can find video on him and help him like he helped Wood. Yikes! Glad to have comments back, peace and chicken grease!!

I got the impression that Williams was not in "game shape" yet, and that the Cubs were going to wait and see how he does with at least his start this week in Iowa. He has potential, but he also has had his share of injuries/surgeries, so he fits right in with the Cubs pitching staff.

Well going by Christian's description of Williams, I wouldn't bet much that Williams would be ready that soon. Hell, bring a starter up from the minors. It's not as if it's gonna make or break our season.

-on the trade I had big plans to ruin your guys season. You guys thought 3 blown saves in my first 5 opportunities was bad, that pales in comparison to my long term plans to screw you guys. Sincerely, LaTroy Hawkins

Jerome Williams is a longshot at best, if we're talking near term. Here's what John Sickels had on his site last week: "Several comments in the diaries lately about Jerome Williams of the Giants, and about how bad he is pitching at Triple-A. No kidding. 1-4, 9.39 ERA, 30.2 innings, 47 hits, 15/17 K/BB. Ugh. His ratios have never been as good as his reputation, but those are downright dismal numbers. Most worrisome is the awful K/BB ratio. Oftentimes, when a pitcher's ratios deteriorate this sharply, there is some sort of underlying health issue. If I were a betting man, I'd lay good odds right now that Williams is either hiding an injury, or is about to suffer an injury." Not good. I hope the Cubs got the entire medical report on Jerome before the OKd the deal.

Oh well, either way we got rid of LaTroy (and hopefully his contract?), picked up a solid prospect and a has-been(though just 1 year) w/ a history of injuries and that's what the Cubs are best at. This way, any further problems that Jerome has can't be blamed on the Cubs

Well Aardsma pitched yesterday for the Jaxx and Williams goes today for Iowa. Aardsma's outing was "ok". 5BB (1 IBB) wasn't good to see but what is good is that Hendry was there. He chatted with an aquantice of mine and apparently was there just for Aardsma. Interestingly enough when assked if Aardsma was the "key" to the trade he immediately replied emphatically no and that he likes Williams. Remember this is a guy who is only 23 and lost his Mother recently and his Father had transplant surgery in sprin training. Hendry just thinks that he is somehwat behind and needs to work through some mental things. Also, Williams is really excited to be a Cub and Aardsma is as well calling playing for the Cubs a dream. Another Note...Hill was promoted to Iowa yesterday.

Does anyone know how much cash we sent to the Giants in this deal? The reports say we sent "LaTroy Hawkins and cash considerations" but that's not quite the level of detail I was hoping for.

I'm not sure where I read it, but I believe the Cubs agreed to pay most of Hawkins salary for this season but none of it for next season.

John Koronka? Wow, I didn't see that one coming.

>John Koronka? Wow, I didn't see that one coming. He's the same John Koronka for whom a spot on the 40-man roster was saved over the winter . . . when the Cubs could have used that spot on (gulp) Andy Sisco . . . blah, blah, blah.

Going to the game tonight and tomorrow, can't wait!!!!!!!!!

D- It was in the Tribune this weekend that that Cubs picked up all but $900,000 of this year's contract for Hawkins plus his prorated bonus' for this year. And the Cubs are not on the hook for his $3.5 million plus bonuses next year. Very good trade for Cubs considering hawkins was not wanted here anymore.

Here is the official reasoning behind bringing up Koronka: "He's the best candidate to take us deep in a game and he's throwing the ball pretty good," Baker said of the lefty. "We're in [a stretch of 20 consecutive games], and I didn't want to tear up my bullpen." As for why not Williams.. "He's not quite in tip-top shape yet. He's got a few starts to go," Baker said. Basically Welly, Williams and the other possibilities are not stretched out to go 6-7 innings yet or aren't on the 40 man. Also, Koronka is on the 40 man roster (like i have been saying all along).

I hope people are still keeping the "Vote Neifi" campaign alive. He is still among the best, if not the best SS in the NL thru the 1st two months. Here are a couple stats among qualified NL SS: Avg: .304 (3rd) OPS: .784 (3rd) Fielding %: .986 (T1) Errors: 2 (T1) Zone Rating: .891 (2nd) He is playing a Gold Glove SS with a top notch bat thus far. The pleasant surprise of the year...Ninja Neifi!!!

Saxfax, As has been noted many times, the Cubs gave up on Sisco because he has a huge attitude problem and bad work ethic. Don't get caught up thinking he would be the savior for the pitching staff this year. He had a nice start, but look at his May numbers... 5.40 ERA 12H (3HR) & 10BB in 11 2/3 innings Yuck, with a capital Y.

Nobody should be thinking Sisco would of been the savior of anything for at least 2-3 years. He would of been in single A this year again, like he has been for the past 3 years (was in A ball for 3 years and couldn't move up...hmm). His numbers showed nothing to deserve a promotion and his attitude was horrible. 2004 numbers (Daytona A ball): 4-10, 4.21 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 126 IP, 118 hits, 65 BB and 134 K's.

Manny, You're right about Koronka. It all has to do with roster space. The Cubs' current 40 man roster has the following Cubs pitchers, with the reason they can't be the #5 starter on Wed. in parentheses. Aardsma (not ready... yet) Bartosh (in bullpen) Borowski (pen) Crouthers (retired, this is holding a spot for a player the Orioles will send us to take his place) Dempster (pen) Fox (injured) Guzman (injured) Koronka (hello!) Leicester (pen) Maddux (#2 starter) Mitre (#4 starter) Novoa (pen) Ohman (pen) Pinto (unavailable from a Sunday start and struggled mightily in Iowa) Prior (injured) Remlinger (injured) Rohlicek (AAA pen) Rusch (#3 starter) Wellemeyer (pen) Williams (not ready) Williamson (injured) Wood (injured) Wuertz (pen) Zambrano (ace) The next best options on the 40 man roster after Koronka appear to be either newly acquired Jerome Williams or AA starter Renyel Pinto, who has pitched well since his demotion. Other than that the only choice would be to bring someone onto the 40 man roster that isn't currently on it (such as Rich Hill or Raul Valdez). So it looks like we'll see Koronka for one start, and the rest will depend on the performances of Koronka, Williams, and Pinto.

Shawn- Thanks for the good breakdown... Make even more sense why Dusty and Hendry went with Koronka.

Manny, You're right about Neifi!, as well! But you forgot to mention he's tied for 3rd amongst NL SS's in fielding range. Vote Neifi!!

>Don't get caught up thinking he (Andy Sisco)would be the savior for the pitching staff this year. Entirely the opposite, my friend. I've been stating my case for the past three months that Sisco would NOT have been a contributor to the parent club for at least another year. As for losing Sisco, what's done is done, in my opinion. With the emergence this season of Rich Hill and Sean Gallagher (and a healthy Sean Marshall)--all of whom came much more cheaply to the Cubs than Sisco--the farm system isn't hurting from the loss of big Andy.

I go away for a nice long weekend drinking wine along the Moselle and apparently all Hades breaks out on this site. Personally, I do enough things accidentally to make myself look like a Jackass, so I try to avoid intentionally looking like Bottom in "A Midsummer's Night Dream." But apparently some other visitors could not resist auditioning for the role. Back to baseball, the Cubs have had some nice successes the last two weeks, but the fact is they have had a run of devastating injuries, most of them (Prior's broken elbow, Borowski's broken arm, Garciparra's groin, and Todd Walker's knee) of the pure bad bounce, Billy Goat curse, bad Karma category. Rather than being mad at the Tribune Company, Hendry, Dusty, the Training staff, I think we should put the blame directly where it belongs. That's right, its God's fault. Perhaps he wants some sort of sacrifice. Maybe we will figure it out someday. Please, God, haven't we paid enough for Frank Chance ruininng poor Fred Merkle's life back in 1908!! Back to reality, that the Cubs have stayed competitive is a tribute to Dusty's strength as manager, his leadership (as opposed to his weaknesses as a tactical manager, pitcher abuse, and blindness to to the power of OBP). But I don't see how that success can be sustained with Mitre and below replacement level pitchers like Koronkas starting. Not against the San Diegos, Yankees, and Red Sox who we will be playing over the next 19 games. But hopefully they will surprise me and stay in the wild card race. If they can stay within 7 to 8 games over the next two months, they may be able to make a strong run with Wood and Prior back in the rotation and Garcipparra back in the line-up. I have been rooting for this team since 1965 so why should let experience overcome hope at this point. Finally to take some shots at some rather big, easy targets, I wonder if any of you found Paul Sullivan's article on team defense, relying on fielding percentage, as astounding as I found it. 140 years ago the founding father of sports writing, Harry Chadwick, wrote how worthless fielding percentage was in judging a fielder. And this guy gets paid to cover the Cubs (and publicize how he feels about the geeky fans). On another sports writering front Mike Downey's column gave some nice insights on how Latroy Hawkins managed to build up ill will among the media types who cover the Cubs. Almost wish we could have traded Latroy to the Yankees or Philadelphia. Would have given him some perspective on Chicago.

Great to have comments back! The trade is spectacularly good for the Cubs. For a season and a half of an expensive set-up guy, we received two of the better pitching prospects in the National League. Both Williams and Aardsma were brought up too early by the Giants, in my view, but the talent in both is undeniable. Props to Hendry -- is there any GM that has made better mid-season trades than he has done repeatedly?

How many games has Neifi played at short? I really don't think he has a prayer at GG because he started the year as a utility man...I aqlso think he'll be an after thought for the All Star game too among players and coaches. Anyway, to the Cubs success as of late, it does feel good to win like we have been, but we have to keep perspective on who we are winning against. Since the day after our 7 game losing streak ended and we beat the Phillies to go 4 games under .500, We've gone 7-2 against certifiably bad teams (Rockies, Astros, and Pirates) but only 5-5 against very good to average teams (White Sox, Mets, Nationals, Dodgers) The stretch between now and the Yankees series ending June 19th will go a long way to determing if this team really does have potential to make some noise. I certainly feel better than I did a week ago, but this team still has some major holes...and unless the fill ins in the rotations keep performing above expectations to keep us in games, we could be right back at several games under in a couple of weeks, and we'll be calling for heads again.

I'm starting to think about mid-season trades if the stretch to the ASB doesn't go well. The Cubs could really haul in some young talent with the "sell high" type of players they have who are producing well: Perez, Rusch, Walker. Any thoughts on who might be available?

Another signing? "Gonzaga University senior outfielder Jeff Culpepper signed a contract with the Chicago Cubs". Looks to have pretty good numbers. Story Here

Ok that link didn't work, try this...

I really don't think he has a prayer at GG because he started the year as a utility man Assuming Nomar stays on the DL for most of the season and the Cubs don't trade for a starting SS (which are both safe assumptions), Neifi will easily qualify for a gold glove at short. Nomar only played 12 games at short. In the stat book he has played 39 of the Cubs 49 games at short.

rafael palmeiro won a gold glove in 99 playing 28 games at 1st base. its a useless tossaway award usually skewed by whoever has the better bat if the voters even dare to research what theyre voting on anyway. its unfortunate its a tossaway, but they keep screwing up and rarely keep their objective view solely on the glovework.

renteria over agonz. a couple years ago was a joke for something "closer to home"

Adam, 7 - 2 against bad teams and 5 - 5 against good teams. If you assume that half the teams are "good" and the other are "bad" and you apply those winning percentages over the course of the rest of the season, that would put us at 96 wins. I'll take that anyday. 96 wins MAY win the central and WILL win the wild card.

Chad...Astros, Pirates and Rockies do not represent the lower half of talent of the league...even the lower quarter is pushing it. But more importantly, no need to take it literally....the point is, over the next 20 days we are playing nothing but good to very good teams. Just because we are on a little hot streak on the backs of the bottom feeders of the league, I don't think we should assume that we are on our way to the playoff chase...we have to continue playing good ball against good teams...or we will be back to where we were before we can say "I'll take a 96 win season anyday"

Chad - the Cubs are 1 game over .500 after going through the easiest part of the schedule for the first 2 months of the season. SO in reality the Cubs were a .500 team against some of the worst teams in baseball. Not exactly a good sign. However, the Cubs do tend to play to the level of their competition. Anything is possible in the next few months.

As for the Perez for the All-Star game, there are about 5 others who are more deserving than him. SS's who deserve it more than him. Cesar Izturis - .344 BA, 33 R, .390 OBP Clint Barmes - .323 BA, 34 R, 27 RBI, .368 OBP

Don't forget, the Red Sox played .500 baseball for three straight months last year.

Felipe Lopez, Jimmy Rollins and Eckstein and Vizquel deserve to be mentioned as well. Perez isn't exactly blowing people away.

Lowitski...I didn't mean to imply Neifi wouldn't qualify for GG...I meant that he wouldn't get the votes because players would view him as a utility man, and go with a bigger name. It's purely speculation on my part.

The Redsox had Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, Keith Foulke, Derek Lowe, Johnny Damon, David Ortiz, Jason Varitek..........oh do I really need to name all the talent? Ohh and dont forget Pedro either......zzzz.

Cubs were at .500 at the all star break in 2003, before winning the division. They were near .500 in June of last year. No, their record now does not count them out...I just think we have more holes do to injuries and otherwise than we did the last 2 years. 2003 and 2004, I think we grossly underperformed versus potentional in the first halfs. in 2005, I don't think our record is indicitive of underperforming. I personally think our current record reflects our current talent.

Adam, I think this team has more talent that the pre-all star game team of 2003. +'s at Catcher, 1B, maybe 2B, SS (yes Neifi is a + over AGonz), 3B. - in left and right even in center. I know we have had injuries to the pitching staff but the 2003 bullpen was easily AS bad if not worse than this year and for closer, I NEVER like JoBo EVER and I think Dempty is a + over him.

According to - probably the worst at actually getting a scoop but.. "Rumors out of Oakland say the Cubs want OF Eric Byrnes, but the Chicago Tribune claims says Chicago isn't interested. (updated: 05/31/2005)"

Props to Hendry -- is there any GM that has made better mid-season trades than he has done repeatedly? Walt Jocketty says hi.

You want a GG player who got snubbed? Todd Helton won the GG at first base last year. Where is the campaign for D Lee to win that award? Or is he so good we just assume he won.

Recent comments

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  • Hagsag 8 hours 40 min ago (view)

    Thank you Phil, I can see this is a work of love.


  • Wrigley Rat 1 day 1 min ago (view)

    Cubs Reportedly Sign Powerful Infielder Alejandro Rivero Out of Indy Ball:


  • crunch 1 day 20 hours ago (view)

    * except for playing 1st base


  • crunch 3 days 16 hours ago (view)

    a lot of people were all-in on it being a 2022 thing, but given how MLB has held the DH over the player's heads like it's some kind of extremely valuable chip worth more than the players seem to think it's worth...who knows...


  • Cubster 3 days 17 hours ago (view)

    any estimates on the chances of the DH in the NL anytime soon?


  • crunch 3 days 18 hours ago (view)

    k.schwarber is hella good at post-season baseball.


  • Cubster 3 days 19 hours ago (view)

    Carter Hawkins introduced to the press...


  • crunch 3 days 20 hours ago (view)

    e.castillo and t.payne off the 40man in 100% totally expected moves.

    both are/were catcher organizational depth.


  • crunch 3 days 21 hours ago (view)

    for those keeping track of the heating-up Mets head of baseball operations search, theo has already ruled himself out.

    mets want(ed) some heavy hitters (including b.beane and d.stearns), but none of them are on board...well, MIL took stearns off the board before he could chime in because he has a year left on his contract.


  • Arizona Phil 4 days 1 hour ago (view)

    Something to keep in mind about clearing MLB 40-man roster slots for players eligible for selection in this year's Rule 5 Draft is that you can't non-tender players to create 40-man roster space for Rule 5 Draft eligibles. That's because players can only be non-tendered on 12/2, and the pre-Rule 5 Draft roster filing deadline is 11/19 (almost two weeks - PRIOR TO -the contract tender date). NOTE: Normally the roster filing deadline is 11/20, but it's moved up to 11/19 this year because 11/20 falls on a Saturday in 2021


  • Arizona Phil 4 days 2 hours ago (view)

    BRADSBEARD: Just one game, some BP, infield practice, and baserunning drills. So not much to glean from that so far. 


  • crunch 4 days 17 hours ago (view)

    minor league baseball has to provide housing for minor leaguers starting 2022 (paid for by MLB parent clubs).  this is HUGE news and will make it possible for guys to stick around longer without having to quit the game just to earn a basic living.  for minor league players working in expensive housing markets this is a life saver.

    activist players from the OAK and LAA minor league teams as well as minor league player labor advocacy organizations were a huge part of making this happen.  good work.


  • bradsbeard 4 days 21 hours ago (view)

    Did you have any occasion to observe Pedro Ramirez? Not sure if he got into any games or not (now that I think of it, you wrote up at least one game he played in). 


  • Arizona Phil 5 days 2 hours ago (view)

    azbobbop: Certainly LHSPs Drew Gray and Luke Little have emerged as legit significant high-end SP prospects. RHSP Luis Devers has probably displaced Koen Moreno as the top "pitchability" SP prospect in the lower levels of the Cubs system. Tyler Schlaffer (another "pitchability" guy) also had an impressive Instructs, although Devers is a better SP prospect because he has a solid three-pitch mix and knows how to use it, while Schlaffer has just the 92-94 FB & CV (although both are solid offerngs) and isn't as polished as Devers is.


  • Hagsag 5 days 8 hours ago (view)

    This is the first time I have heard about the four month program in November. 


  • azbobbop 5 days 15 hours ago (view)

    Phil, now that instructional scare finished, which players impressed you the most and who are disappointments.