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Game 7 (NLCS 2): Mets 4 – Cubs 1

Oct
20

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thoughts I had as this game was going on

1: the carriage is turning back to a pumpkin awful quickly

2: I wonder if tickets for Game 5 have dropped in price? (A bit! Hmmm.)

3: the great Tommy La Stella is 0 for 7 with 3Ks in the playoffs.

4: Starlin Castro went from never playing SS even as a backup to being the guy finishing out every game at SS. I’m going to miss him next season.

5: Everyone’s talking about the pitchers giving up 4 runs. They’ve given up 4 runs before. It’s more you’re not going to win games scoring 2 and 1 runs.

6: Really, the power covered up the problems with not getting enough base runners; six home runs in one game only producing eight runs is kind of not good in a way.

7: The silver lining to going down 3-0 in a series is seeing the Kitchen Sink game, with the Cubs trying crazily to win game 4 at any cost. Lester coming back on short rest is in play. Three inning starter is in play. Fernando Rodney starting and batting fifth is in play. Just having Jason Hammel pitch six innings probably not  in play.

8: That might also happen in this game. The Cubs dipped into the bullpen in Game 2, but everyone’s probably as rested and ready to go as they can be. Hendricks will be pulled at the first sign of trouble. Rondon hasn’t pitched in a week, so he’s going to be in at some point tonight. This’ll probably look a lot like Game 4 of NLDS; it’s all about the offense scratching something out.

9: if the Cubs can find a way to win one of the next two games, then Lester and Arrieta come up again and maybe they’ll find a way to be better, and anything is possible in a game 7. I don’t feel like it’s over even with a loss tonight.

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Game 5 (NLDS 4): Cubs 6 – Cardinals 4

Oct
17

Box

Just a bit late. I stopped doing back in the day because

  • the team was too boring to write about daily
  • other things were more interesting to write about daily
  • other people were mote interesting to write about the Cubs daily

These Cubs are very interesting, but the other two remain an issue. But, I started doing these things and I’m going to try and finish.

The Schwarber home run was fairly great. It’s seems impossible TV didn’t have an angle of where it landed. It’s kind of cute that it’s top of the scoreboard, but it’s also going to look very silly if they don’t finish this out. It was very much filling a need for something to talk about for a few days. Everyone was so excited about the Cubs advancing, on their home field even!, and then they had no next opponent to talk about for days. Obsessing about that ball filled one of them.

The thing they should’ve been talking about – and maybe just wore out in the hours after that game – was that bottom of the 2nd. The whole series turned on Lackey throwing Hammel a hittable pitch, and by throwing Javier Baez anything in the strike zone. Baez has looked better since coming back up in September and looked good in this series – he may be having his own Soler moment – but he still seems like a guy who will get himself out. Lackey broke in the moment, and that was huge. The Cardinals tied it back up over Cahill (the only bad night from some improbably good reliever) but that was most of the Cubs offense over two at bats.

I think there’s some talk about the Cardinals fading next year, and maybe they won’t win 100. They looked like an aging team in times during this series, but they’re still in good shape if Molina is fine next spring and Wainwright can taking his place back in the rotation. (He was pretty great out of the pen.) The order might change, but it’s going to be a three way dogfight between the same teams in the Central again in 2016.

It’s amazing how a few games can change perceptions of the team, if those games come in the playoffs. The talk coming into the Wild Card game was about the domination pitching of Arrieta & Lester. The talk the last few days has been the Mets pitching against the Cubs hitting, with the possible Cy Young winner being an afterthought. Arrieta did not look himself in his last start and I liked the idea of bumping him to Game 2 to give him an extra day of rest, but one bad start doesn’t counterbalance thirteen good ones. If he’s back to normal and the Cubs hit the Mets like they hit against the Cardinals, no one’s beating them. (The trouble is no one hits that well for long.)

What else? Berry got added to the roster! I’ve gotten a lot of well deserved taunting texts after insisting Soler was going to get benched for Berry last round, so I’m crossing my fingers he actually has a moment this round. I was a little surprised they didn’t add Herrera this round, because they’re shallow in the middle infield. Baez starts at SS, Castro can will move over there in a emergency, La Stella can cover second, and that’s just about it. Maybe Coghlan plays an inning or two at 2B again. Maybe Bryant gets eligibility at another position. Herrera can’t hit at all, but he could’ve allowed more movement. Berry can’t hit either. He can play outfield, but so can half this team. Maybe this is a trade off for more catcher swapping? They’re starting Ross tonight, that’d be the time.

I feel weirdly confident and not all nervous about this. There’s nothing to feel angst about, this is found money on top of found money. I’m not too worried even when they’re tied or down late, like I was the last few times. I don’t know what that means.

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Game 3: Cubs 6 – Cardinals 3

Oct
12

2015-10-10 18.40.48

I made the trip. I do a lot of planning of trips I never make and thought a lot about ways to get to Pittsburgh, didn’t find a way to make it work. St. Louis just lined up perfectly – mid afternoon game, so I could easily leave in the morning and get back almost the same day. I had nothing to do Sunday so I could just crash (and I mostly did, which is why you’re reading this Monday.) It was cheaper to buy a ticket and pay for gas for 500 miles than to go to Wrigley, all it took was doing a monotonous task for a long period of time. That’s my skill set!

Busch Stadium III is a nice play to see a baseball game. I really liked how the skyline sat beyond the stadium, looking nice and making it feel part of the city. The views of the field were great from the 200 level I was on. The concourses were spacious and had plenty of places to hang out away from your seats before the game. There’s far too many fan prompts to cheer – not quite as bad as the Chicago Bulls but not far off – and it was rare the fans actually started doing things on their own. The stadium was about 10-15% Cubs fans, who did try starting their own chants at times. The first time they tried, the stadium operations clue immediately disrupted them with music. It was kind of hilarious. Everyone was friendly and there was no real tension between fans, but a lot of high fiving of similarly dressed strangers after the game. Someday there will be a Cubs/Brewers game in Milwaukee and that’ll be a bit amazing. I’d definitely go back to this stadium another time.

This was a great game, one that didn’t feel completely safe even up five runs. Travis Wood and Trevor Cahill were dominant, but it felt like they had to be. The Cubs could do very little outside that one really big inning, and the Cardinals chipped away at the lead and threatened until the end. No Cubs game against the Cardinals ever feels comfortable and being a postseason game (down 1-0!) just ratcheted it up. They played it like a postseason game too – the two relievers were up and ready to come in earlier, and I’d guess Maddon wished he did make the move a few batters earlier even though Hendricks was just striking out everyone.

Jorge Soler finally was the Jorge Soler everyone was projected coming out of spring training. The home run was massive, putting an exclamation point on an half inning where the Cubs did everything right and the Cardinals seemed to do everything wrong. It was the later plate appearances which impressed me more, where Soler laid off some very close pitches to draw a couple of walks. He had that command of the strike zone last season, but lost it and was just getting beat by pitches low and away for months. It’d be easy to go right back to that after a lot of time on the bench, and it’s a big advantage for the Cubs if he can find that old form.

Everyone leaving the stadium was doing the series math: the Cubs stealing this game means it’s 1-1 going into an Arrieta start, which feels almost like 2-1 already. That’d give the Cubs two chances to win one game. They just had two chances and won one game. This could be a pivotal win.

Tsuyoshi Wada getting cut from the team was the only real news story of the off day. I thought it was very strange, but none of the beat writers had anything to say about except what was in the press release. Wada was a disappointment and wasn’t going to be brought back, but those kind of guys are usually dumped all at once after the World Series. There’s no advantage into putting Taylor Teagarden on the 40 man – he’s also a guy who’ll be cut right after the season. I think he’d have to be on the 40 man to be added to the postseason roster, but there’s no sign any of the catchers are hurt and need a replacement. There’s seems to be some story with Wada that isn’t being told – he was only used once when he was called up again, not even used on the days where the Cubs were unloading the entire bullpen – but who knows if has to do with the move. Teagarden got dropped off the roster for a short time because of lack of space, maybe getting him back on the 40 man now gets him an extra payday for being a good organizational solider? It probably doesn’t matter, but it’s strange.

Monday’s 5pm start is a bizarre time for a Cubs home game. Shadows! Arrieta really didn’t need the help, but thanks national TV.

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Game 1: Cubs 4 – Pirates 0

Oct
07

Why not?

There was a spirited debate today in my text messages after the lineup came out. Tommy LaStella, a guy most people forgot was ever on the team by July, was not the most straightforward choice for batting fifth. My biggest concern was putting Kyle Schwarber in the outfield in a critical game. Kris Bryant is a passable outfielder, maybe even average. If the Cubs decided to go with Bryant as a frequent centerfielder next year (2), it wouldn’t be optimal but they’d get by fine most of the time. Schwarber appears to be the second coming of Matt Stairs, and especially Matt Stairs in the outfield. It’s sometimes an adventure. He – and the Cubs! – have mostly gotten away with it, but there’s been plays a normal outfielder would’ve made and plays were thing nearly could’ve gone very wrong. Given the way he was slumping for the last month, it didn’t seem like it was worth the risk to put him out there.

And then…

(3)

Kyle contributed one very long single earlier and that’s was all they needed. I think he had about zero meaningful plays in right field too. Maybe Fowler does it himself anyway, maybe it’s really good scouting of what tendencies match up with which players, or maybe the roulette ball just keep landing on the right number time after time. The team seems good – “We Are Good” even – but it also feels like the 2015 Cubs are living a charmed existence. It doesn’t have to go that way – the Rodriguez misplay followed by the complete ineffectiveness of Alvarez showed how badly it can go the other way – but this is the year where everything seems to go right. You don’t get many of those.

Jake Arrieta went 9 innings, gave up zero runs, struck out twelve, allowed four hits and hit a couple of people, and it completely looked like his shakiest start in a while. Bar is high, he’s been incredibly dominant, but he was wild early (maybe overwhelmed by the moment) and lost it again in the middle innings before settling down. He locked back in fair the last few innings, after the scrum, but the Pirates had their chances. They just hit the ball very hard where people happened to be positioned. Four zero doesn’t say how close this felt like going the other way, but the Pirates just can’t break thru. That’s their story.

The Pirates prepared the Cubs for their next opponent well. The HBP to Arrieta was some true Cardinals Way junk. I didn’t like the TBS announcers that much and maybe that’s just local team bias, but their lack of familiarity with these two teams hurt the broadcast during that not-fight. Pirates were definitely angry about getting hit, but it’s also probably was a little bit about the second baseman who was in a wheelchair during introductions. This isn’t the end of it for these two teams, this is coming back as a remix in 2016.

It took me about 15 seconds to start trying to map out the rotation for the next series, and only that long because I fought hard to resist thinking about it from about the seventh inning on.  The design of these wildcard games it to make it tough for the Wild Card winner to throw their ace again in the next series. Tough, but not impossible.

                   Plan A    Plan B
Game 1 Friday      Lester    Lester
Game 2 Saturday    Hendricks Arrieta*
OFF    Sunday
Game 3 Monday      Arrieta   Hendricks
Game 4 Tuesday     Hammel?   Lester*
       Wednesday   
Game 5 Thursday    Lester    Arrieta

Traditional planning would have A. My preference is to go for Plan B; get Lester and Arrieta as many times as possible even if not on full rest. People with more sense than I pointed out maybe you don’t decide at all until you must. (4) If the Cubs win, hold back Arrieta onto normal rest to be either the close out guy or the guy who puts them back ahead in Game 3. If the Cubs lose game 1, play Arrieta right away because you then you know to find a way to get two wins from him and one win from anyone else, and you can’t afford to go with a Hammer or Haren or Bullpen Day in game 4. Playing aggressive has gotten the Cubs this far, so I’m thinking Arrieta’s going to be pushed hard.

That and figuring out the end of the roster are the talk of the next few days. The Cubs will add at least one more starting pitcher and maybe one more reliever. As strange as it would’ve seemed at the start of the season, I wonder if Jorge Soler is off the 25 man now. He only serves a purposes as right handed pinch hitter but they don’t seem to be using him much as that. I’d be sure LaStella would be the other guy to be dropped if he didn’t play this game and he’s the guy I’d cut. People will look at Ross’ numbers and think it’ll be him, but he’s Lester guy and he allows more double switching and positional movements; he’s as safe as they get. Berry’s another one that’s going to look weird to people who haven’t been closely following the team, but the only reason he’s getting paid is to steal a critical base in the postseason and he’s got to be active for that. Maybe Denorfia? The problem with having such a deep team is there are some hard cuts, but having a deep has at least put them in the position to make some cuts.

11 to go. Why not?

(1) And that out of the box thinking didn’t seem to amount to much; 0-2 for him, 0-2 for Austin Jackson in his spot.)

(2) Dexter Fowler is going to get paid so much for so many years and good for him

(3) I’m fairly sure I couldn’t do that last time I wrote one of these.

(4) uncertain why I need the thing I tend to do most explained to me; I was too happy in the moment?

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Spring Training roster, 03/15

Mar
14

I need to write about the trip, still, but this is quicker and those photos are someplace else.

Locks That We Knew Going Into Camp and I Really Can Stop Mentioning,

01 SS Theriot
02 RF The Fuk
03 1B D Lee
04 3B A Ram
05 CF Byrd
06 LF Soriano
07 CA Soto
08 2B Fontenot

09 SP Dempster
10 SP Z
11 SP Wells – not that you would’ve known it today.

12 CL Marmol
13 RP Grabow

14 ?P Marshall – the position is another argument…
15 ?P Gorz – …and no one seems to have the first clue…
16 ?P Silva – …on even who’s leading here…

17 CA Hill
18 2B Baker

And I think that’s it, at least coming in. There’s three more who had/have hopes of being included

possible opening day Disabled List!

DL SP Ted Lilly – this one keeps bouncing back and forth like a metronome. Even best case, it makes since for him to start on the DL and get the extra warmup starts, since they may only need four starters anyway.

19 PH Xavier Nady – I don’t like the idea of an OF who can’t throw until June; doesn’t really work at most any position, but since the idea here was to platoon him with Fukudome, that’s not very helpful. I’d start him on the DL until he can at least do something, but Lou brushed off that idea.

DL RP Angel Guzman – :( At least he got one good season. I’ll be shocked to ever see him pitch in the ML again.

Up four grabs

That still leaves 6 spots, and four of those are in the bullpen. One of those jobs is already accounted for:

20 RP Esmalin Caridad – already know how this one plays out. He’s got a live arm, so Lou will be thrilled to give him a shot. He’s got a walking problem, so Lou will bury him deep in the pen. This is your anointed setup man!

I’ll get back to pitching in a couple spots, but the bench is easier to finish out

21 OF (who can back up all three) – this was clearly supposed to be Sam Fuld coming into the season, but he might have had it snaked from him. Tyler Colvin does not have the positionally flexibility (he’s really more of a corner guy) but has been killing the ball and has that 1st round draft pick tag. James Adduci has hit a little less, but still really good and offers more defense. Colvin’s thought of a prospect (though I doubt he’ll be much more than he is at this point), but Adduci isn’t really and it’s not as though the Cubs would be risking a great upside by having him sit on the bench 6 days out of 7. No idea how this is turning out.

22 ?? – This spot is supposed to be backup shortstop, which means it’d be Andres Blanco, but he’s been hurt a week. It was never going to be Starlin Castro…but now it seems like it actually may be some other position entirely.

Bringing in Chad Tracy and Kevin Millar on NRIs never made much since, because there really wasn’t going to be a spot for them on the 25. That math changes if Fontenot can actually play a little SS – there’s no need for the fourth guy, and there’s room for an extra 1B/3B type. (As I’ve pointed out too many times, this is why they shouldn’t have bothered to keep Fontenot, but he’s hitting good so I should lay off.) If this spot exists, it looks like it’s Millar over Tracy, with Hoffpauir and LeHair trailing far behind. I don’t know that any of them will actually hit when the calendar turns to April, but the bench could use one more hitter so it’s worth trying.

The thing is, Fontenot has played all of four innings of SS. Maybe he’s been putting in a lot of work on the back fields, or maybe that was enough for Lou, but I’m not so convinced this plan is actually happening.

And all of that was easier than the last three bullpen spots.

23 + 24 + 25 RP (or maybe starter?)

Gorz and Marshall probably won’t make the rotation, or at least won’t be there for long, so there’s no specific need for a LHP over a RHP. Past that? Who knows. Everyone left who’s pitched, minus those not on the 40 man roster, and those cut already

  • RHP M Parisi – Rule 5 pick, seemed to be here as a starter not at all (and definitely won’t be hid like Patton last year); has been good in short stints
  • RHP J Samardzija – coming in, the idea seemed to be start in ML or AAA with no chance of bullpen; does Guzman’s injury change that? Has been hit hard and not looked good.
  • LHP J Gaub – on the fringe of the bullpen coming in, has pitched good
  • RHP M Mateo – not this year and lit up
  • RHP J Stevens – probably had a spot at the start, but has been hit hard, who knows
  • RHP J Berg – like Guab, but with a win and a save
  • RHP B Parker – not this year and lit up
  • RHP B Schlitter – not the year and OK

If you based it on just Spring Training, which is both dumb and what will probably happen, it’s clearly Parisi, Guab and Berg as the last three, with Stevens and Samardzija on the perphiary. But there’s still plenty of innings to change things.

centerfield

Nov
12

better example of the state of local baseball coverage

– 7 days and running dedicated to commentary on Sammy Sosa’s face without, I dunno, having someone find him and take another picture.

– Phil Rogers writing a column about how little budget room the Cubs have, then writing about how the Cubs must pick up Curtis Granderson’s 3/$24 salary ASAP.

This is why they are what they are. And by that, I mean the Cubs, who race into situations like that without thinking long term, and all the sudden you’ve got a slumping DH playing left field for 5 more years.

I’m mixed on Granderson. I think he had the fortune to sign a contract at the exact best moment for him, and someone is going to be stuck paying for that good year for the next three. If he was in some nice spot in between his really good 2008 and eh 2009, I think he’d a fine pick up, but there’s no guarantee. FanGraphs already has the Bill Jamies projections for next year, which tend to be a lot closer 2008, but my worry is another number on that page – 13% of his outs were on infield fly balls. Seems like a guy who was trying to hit for more power, and ending up too far underneath balls.

Maybe he can correct that in an easier park to hit. And the league adjustment will certainly help. Just not so certain that I want to give up the whole farm system.

He’s definitely a better idea than giving a multi-year deal to Marlon Byrd, which seems like the current rumor. You’d think the Cubs would learn not to take hitters from Texas. The 479 slugging is not going to work out well outside that park, and the 329 on base will. He’s already the wrong side of 30, and they’d be paying for decling years. A one year deal for a reasonable price might work, but Byrd’s the sort of fungible player you don’t sign long term, because you don’t want to be stuck with him if a better option comes along (or he suddenly becomes a worse option.)

I think Mike Cameron is every single team’s back up choice, so he’s going to end up getting a lot better deal than casual people expect. Maybe it’ll secretly be the year people pay for defense.

Kinda cool that the Burrell deal is the closest, having called it a while back. I stil think it’s the best the Cubs can do – they’re going to lose any deal they make for him, because they’ll be giving up the better player. You’ve just got pick the best bounce back candidate.

Roster note few have picked up on: Mike Fontenot being declared a Super Two player means he’s eligible for a big pay raise thru arbitration unless the Cubs non-tendered him. So, he’ll be cut, and the Cubs keep Aaron Miles around as a backup instead of eating his contract this year.

In my mind, the current opening day 25 looks like

CA Soto
1B D Lee
2B ???? (let’s say Baker)
SS Theriot
3B A Ram
LF Soriano
CF ???? (someone not on the roster)
RF Fukudome

SP Zambrano
SP Dempster
SP Wells
SP Gorz
SP yo-yo Marshall or Samardzija?

CA Hill
IF Miles
OF Hoffpauir??
OF Fuld?? or Colvin? or Johsnon??
IF Blanco or ???

RP Stevens?
RP Marshall or Samardzija
RP Caridad
RP Grabow
RP Guzman
CL Marmol

DL Lilly – he’s not late if he starts on May 1st. Bet on it.

A lot of question marks. Doesn’t really seem like it’s a 90 win team there.

This might be a good place for baseball comments.

10 good things for the Cubs in 2009

Oct
07

Because the only thing I love more than being a cynic is being a contrarian. In no order.

  1. No one got seriously hurt. Low bar, but still. Yes, they lost Ramirez for half the season, but I mean more of injuries that will carry over to 2010. No one’s elbow or shoulder was irrevocably damaged. Rich Harden, Angel Guzman, and Carlos Marmol were all involved, and none has new surgery scars and loose plans for returning in midseason. Soriano is getting knee work done, but that should leave him in a better spot than he was for most of this season. There are question marks here, but not due to a hoped for physical recovery.
  2. Derrek Lee was great.D-Lee only played 141 games, due to little injuries here and there, and maybe that’s gotta be the standard going forward.  Playing 10 games less than usual prevented him from setting career marks in counting stats, but his rate stats – what he did when he played – were as great as they’ve been since the spectacular 2005 season. 393 OBP/579 SLG. The double plays were traded for home runs (9% less ground balls, 12 % more flyballs), and a lot better results. He was a 5 WAR player, one of the top 25 non-pitchers in the league (defense counts) and isn’t near as close to being done as feared in April.The batter closest to 0 WAR – in other words, a guy worth exactly about as a random freely available AAA player – is Alexis Rios. The universe is awesome.
  3. Angel Guzman survived a full season.

    Guzman’s been on radar of Cubs’ fans since 2003, but he’s been on the radar of arm doctor’s even longer. After years of bouncing around the farm system and barely making cameos on the major league roster before heading right to the DL, this was the year he finally got to put it together. No one’s still hoping he’ll be the starter he was originally promised, but becoming the most solid & consistent pitcher out of the bullpen is plenty enough. 61 IP, 47 Ks, with only 23 BB and 41 Hits against him. After being a guy who had a fastball and didn’t show any much, he threw his slider 1/3rd of the time, and it was pretty effective. If the Cubs had picked their 2009 closer based on how well they were pitching in this season, not next or last, it would’ve been Guzman. As is, he’s looking like the logical 8th inning guy for next season, as part of a cheap & effective duo to close out games.

  4. Randy Wells was the happy surprise of the yearBefore the season, I was filling out TangoTiger’s Community Forecast, putting in my guesses for playing times for the Cubs. I remember this, because I saw Randy Wells name and could not even recall who he was. And then I selected “0 IP”. The important isn’t that I’m wrong (that’s never important), but that it’s hard to say Randy Wells exceeded expectations. He was so far off the radar, no one had any expectations for him.Wells was somewhere between 8-10 on the starting pitcher depth chart, and didn’t really get the shot in the rotation because he was good  (though he was in Iowa), or because someone else needed replacing, but because there were no good leftys in the bullpen and Lou thought Sean Marshall was more valuable pitching a couple batters every couple days than starting games (dubious.) Wells wasn’t supposed to start more than a game or two, but kept pitching well and hanging around until they couldn’t get rid of him. Now he stands as a 3rd or 4th starter, someone who’s expected to be in the rotation next season

    Even for those who projected him, in the process of projecting everyone, didn’t see him being this good – he walked less than expected, gave up less homeruns than expected, and threw a lot more innings than anyone expected.

    There are plenty of one year wonders – Rich Hill comes to mind – and I wasn’t thrilled about how many innings they put on his arm after it stopped mattering – but whatever happens next doesn’t taken away from what happened this year. Most pitchers would be thrilled to have one 12 win, 3.05 ERA season. He’s got that banked, everything else just adds on to it.

  5. Sean Marshall replaced Alfonso Soriano in right field.Season may have peaked right there. (Let’s put aside they lost that game. Or, if that bugs you too much, put Reed’s catch in Milwaukee here instead.)
  6. Ryan Dempster was actually worth his contract4 years/52 for a guy who’s had just 2 good seasons as a starter (but the good sense to have one of them just before free agency) is sort of the kind of move that’s left the Cubs in the finical situations they’re in. Hey, at least this year, it worked out fine. 200 IP, durable. Strikeouts were down, but his walks per 9 were as low as he’s had in any season ever. He didn’t get as much defensive help as last year, and he gave up more homeruns, but he did enough to make Hendry look good this year. At least on that one.
  7. Kosuke Fukudome had a non-disastrous season Last year, he put together 3 good months before completely falling apart. This year, he had 2 good months, one horrible, 2 good months, 1 horrible (which no one noticed because everyone had stopped caring.) At this rate, they’ll have to invent a new month for him to be great in by the end of his contract!It was no real coincidence that the downturns in Fukudome’s play correspond with Reed Johnson’s DL stints. This year, the Cubs figured out the rule to play by – under no circumstances should he start against a lefty – and stuck with it as best as they could.

    This is secretly why Sam Fuld probably isn’t making the 2010 team; Reed or no Reed, the Cubs have to get a right hitting platoon partner for Kosuke. Sam hits lefty. If they do keep Reed or get another guy who can play all 3 OF spots, they’re going to want another bat as the fifth outfielder, not Fuld. Someone will get hurt and he’ll come up, but he probably won’t be there opening day.

  8. Alfonso Soriano led off for the last time July 3rd. About 2.5 seasons late, but it was right to get a new start on Independence Day.
  9. A Ram was great when he was on the fieldI’m stealing from the TV broadcast, but look at these numbers: .317, 29 HR, 128 RBI. The injury robbed him of playing time, but not ability. If he gets back onto the field for 150 next year, he’ll can be counted onto have great numbers once again
  10. The sale is (almost) done This franchise has been in various levels of limbo for the last 2.5 years, as the sale has dragged along at least a 1.5 years longer than promised. That limbo bar got awful low last offseason; the moved that were made were made in environment where everything had to be cash equal or just about. If there had been an owner instead of a trustee in charge, would they have been swayed by fan support on keeping certain players? (Would they have made it worse?) Who knows, but I’m just sort of frustrated it with it being a concern. This process is taken a toll on this team, preventing things that need to be done from being moved on (which maybe needs to be another post), and this franchise will be significantly better off once it’s removed from this uncertainty.
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Crunch

May
22

Let’s not talk about the games. That would be fun. Let’s talk about the roster crunch.

Z!!!!!!! returns today, to brighten our days and warm our nights. Problem is, someone has to leave to make room. And it’s a totally obvious pick.

RP Ascanio: gone blown up good over the weekend, but looked really effective last night
RP Wells: techincally Z’s replacement, but has yet to actually give up an earned run, might be worth keeping around
RP Patton: not ready for this level, hasn’t pitched since May 9th (!!!), but can’t be sent down without being offered to the Rockies (and I keep thinking it’s the Reds because of that trade.)
RP Cotts: bad, though actually okay last time out but still Lou’s clearly lost completely faith in him. But can’t be sent down without eating the rest of his ($1.1 mil) contract, and that’d be #3 ate already this season.

3B Scales: kinda extraneous the second they traded for Freel, but is one of the few guys actually hitting. Possibly has to go thru waivers to get back to Iowa and might actually get grabbed at this point
SS Miles: still has 1.6 years and $4 mil left on his really dumb contract. Would not have a role on this team except he can play SS and no one else but Theriot could. Seriously, I can’t believe how great a player Ronny Cedeno apparently was, because the Cubs have had plenty of luck finding people who can play 2B and 3B, and 2B and SS, but playing all three is nigh impossible, and so you have 3 backup infielders when you really need 2 (and 1 Jake Fox.)

If Freel wasn’t just picked up, he might go on the list too. Reed is even a slim possibility, since he’s been reduced to 6th OF with Kosuke and Micah off to good starts, maybe even 7th behind Freel, but I think everyone still feels we’ll need depth there later on.

I think I’m rooting for Cotts to be cut, even though I think Marshall doesn’t really fit as a 1 out lefty (which is really only a problem if they use him like one), but I don’t think the Cubs are ready for that. Barring that, I’d really like to see a trade to get Patton to AA or AAA, since the Cubs really don’t need to continue playing with a 24 man roster. Both wouldn’t be bad if we could get Jake Fox up – even if he sucks, this is a good time to let him prove it because everyone else isn’t looking much better.

Can I say, this Padres series works out well for me, for once? I’ve got tickets to a 6:30 Cougars game tonight, which means I’ll probably catch up live watching the game on TiVo before it’s over. I think I’m stuck going out to dinner Saturday, but will be back in plenty of time for the game. And Sunday’s a day game, a fine day to flip between it and the indy race. Plus, they’re the Padres, so things may look up.

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Let’s all agree to love Milton Bradley

May
13

He’s easily becoming my favorite .186 (and rising!) hitter.

Friday!

Milton Bradley introduced his diplomatic side over the weekend in Milwaukee. Unfortunately, it was not televised.

The surprising transformation occurred during the middle of the seventh inning of Friday’s Cubs- Brewers game, right after Bradley was called out on strikes by plate umpire Tom Hallion, ending the inning.

“The first curveball, [catcher Jason] Kendall asked where it’s at,” Bradley said. “He said, ‘Outside.’ So I knew I never swing at that because that was outside, so it’s 3-2, and the same thing — it’s farther outside. But he calls it [a strike].

“I’m like, ‘Tooooom.’ He says, ‘I think it was a good pitch. Check it out. Let me know.’ “

Tuesday!

After hitting a monster shot that nearly landed in the upper portion of the center-field bleachers Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, Milton Bradley pressed his index finger against his ear as he strolled toward the dugout.

Booed after a strikeout in the fourth inning, Bradley apparently wanted the crowd of 39,963 to know his hearing was just fine, thank you.

“Nice to hear some cheers for once,” Bradley said. “I didn’t come here to suck. I know I’ve sucked so far, but give me some love, you know what I’m saying? I am a Cub.”

By the way, it’s now 25 days since Milton was ejected, and we still don’t know if he’s being suspended. It’s 2009, how in the world does this take so long?

Bonus fun quote!

Bradley’s shot off Peavy landed in the concourse above the lower bleachers. Piniella said it was the longest he has seen at Wrigley, while Soriano said the only ones he has seen go farther have been hit by Carlos Zambrano during batting practice.

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Games 11 to 20 and a lot of old copy on Angel Guzman

Apr
30

4-6. 4-6 doesn’t actually look good no matter how you look at it.

11: W 7-5
12: W 7-2
13: L 0-3
14: L 1-7
15: L 3-4
16: L 2-8
17: W 10-3
18: L 2-7
19: W 11-3

Let’s look at it another way.

Runs Scored: 0 1 2 2 3 7 7 10 10 11 (5.3)
No 4s, no 5s, no 6s. Lots of complete blowouts and shutdowns.

Runs Allowed: 2 3 3 3 4 5 7 7 8 10 (5.2)
Much more balanced, but a little packed on the high end.

MVP thru 20

1.58 Soriano
0.82 Fukudome
0.61 A-Ram
0.38 Hill
0.33 Lilly

Highlights in a period of nagging injuries
– a Z game where he wins and gets 3 hours and is completely awesome; guaranteed 2-3 a year. And then penciling himself onto the bench the next day.
– Harden looking pretty solid and getting half the wins in this set. Still have no idea how this is going to turn out.
– Angel Guzman finally getting his first win. Also, all the earliest articles mentioning Angel Guzman on the Tribune site:

May 20, 2002 Q & A

Now that some of the shining stars of the Cubs’ farm system (Patterson, Cruz, Hill and Zambrano) have reached the majors to be quickly followed by Choi, Prior and Kelton, what is the state of the Cubs’ farm system? Are there many, if any, other promising names beyond these and Ben Christensen? Or are we looking at a serious dropoff in talent again? –Larry, Washington, Utah

I’m looking at Baseball America’s list of the Cubs’ top 30 prospects. The first six (Prior, Cruz, Choi, Kelton, Hill and Zambrano) are older guys, but the next wave (outfielder Nic Jackson, right-hander Ben Christensen, shortstop Luis Montanez and left-hander ) are all in Double-A or below. Some of the other prospects the Cubs like are pitchers , Angel Guzman and Felix Sanchez. Most baseball people don’t predict a huge dropoff in talent.

Prior – you know
Juan Cruz – doing okay as a bullpen guy
Hee Seop Choi – back in the Korean league
David Kelton – retired, last played in 2006
Bobby Hill – last seen playing for the Newark Bears
Z – Z!

Angel Guzman
Nic Jackson – indy ball? only made one season at AAA and didn’t hit
Ben Christensen – never made it out of AA
Luis Montanez – AAA/MLB guy for Baltimore
Steve Smyth – made it up the same year, wasn’t ready, drifted back down, last seen in indies
Jae-Kuk Ryu – made it up with the Cubs and the Rays, wasn’t much good. Free agent?
Felix Sanchez – 2 career strikeouts!

Guess the second class was not a dropoff after all. No one knows nothing about prospects, or at least no one who spends all his team covering the major league team knows that team’s prospects.

03/21/2003:

Angel Guzman combines presence with pitches that dance. He has established an extremely high standard yet is only 21, suggesting the really good years lie ahead.

Guzman is the complete package. He should have fans hyperventilating as they count the days until he arrives as an ace with staying power.

But the Cubs have accumulated so many elite arms under general manager Jim Hendry and scouting director John Stockstill that they didn’t need to tip their hands about Guzman.

Not so much. This is the year after Prior came up and we were all willing to be snowed into believing there’d be more like him. The other elite arms:
– Bobby Brownlie – with the Nats? still hasn’t made the majors
– Andy Sisco – fat; ate himself out of the Cubs and other teams since
– Felix Sanchez
– Luke Hagerty – never made it to AA! fine result first a first round pick
– Todd Wellemeyer – yea yea I know
– Jae Kuk Ryu
– Justin Jones – hasn’t made it to AAA, but he started when he was 17 so he’s still only 24 and has a little bit of time left
– Carmen Pignateillo – briefly made it with the Cubs, now doing bad with the Twins (but at least HE made it)
– Billy Petrick – started the season with the Cubs in 07 and ended up all the way back down in A ball in 2008. Playing indy ball in Chicago.
– Ben Christensen

I guess the point here is, even if the first win came about 6 years after people start talking about, Angel still has had a better career than most. And if you really want to be depressed by the level of Cubs drafting this decade, go look at the list of first round picks; unless Brownlie makes it up this year, not a single 1st round will have made it since Prior in 2002. Or second round. Jake Fox and Petrick are third rounders.

And then there’s this: 06/29/2003:

Double-A starter Angel Guzman will have his shoulder examined Monday by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. An MRI of Guzman’s shoulder showed no tear, but even in a best-case scenario, Guzman is expected to miss several weeks.

Did they miss it? Did he just not tear it until later? Doesn’t really matter now.

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