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Game 34: Reds 9 – Cubs 0

May
08

Cubs 19-15, -2.5 (2nd)
Reds 14-21, -8.0 (6th)

POTG: walking three times is neat, but I can’t quite give it to Fontenot – no one
Runner Up: no one

This was awful. I hope this is rock bottom because I can’t imagine it getting worse.

Nice that after Lieber got lit up, the two guys who might replace him get touched as well.

Leaving Volquez to throw 118 pitches in a 9-0 game is so Dusty.

That’s all I got.

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Game 33: Cubs 3 – Reds 0

May
07

Cubs 19-14, -2.5 (2nd)
Reds 13-21, -9.0 (6th)

POTG: SP Z!!! (8 UP, 3 H, 3BB, 3 K, 0 R, QS [6], W [5/87]; H)
Runner Up: LF Soriano (2 H, 2B), SS Ryan Theriot (2 H, R, SB), 2B Cedeno (H, 2 RBI)

Z was dominant tonight. Again, there wasn’t a big strikeout numbers, but the Reds barely got anything going all game. Taking away two runners – Soto easily throwing Griffey out on the failed hit and run and picking Votto off second base – gave Z two easy outs, and the Reds were giving multiple easy at bats by the end

1: 13 (1-5-7)
2: 24 (9-1-6-8)
3: 21 (5-4-6-6)
4: 16 (2-3-9-2)
5: 15 (3-6-2-4) [89 pitches, so a decent effort ends Z after this inning]
6: 10 (2-1-3-4) [99 pitches]
7: 6 (1-3-2) [105 pitches]
8: 8 (5-1-2) [113 pitches]

No wonder Z wanted to go back in the 9th – he could’ve brought it home under 120 if things kept up. (It only took Wood 13 pitches to close it out.) It didn’t occur to me until I mapped that out, but a great way to stop run scoring is to never let more than four people bat in the inning. The Reds were completely held down here.

Quick turn around = good excuse for some guys to take a day off. Kosuke looks like he could use one, and I wonder if they’d give A Ram at least the start of the game off to not over extend him. This’ll be Lieber’s first start of the season, but the Reds are very beatable and it’d be nice to win the last game of a series which they haven’t managed since the Mets.

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Game 32: Reds 8 – Cubs 3

May
06

Cubs 18-14, -2.5 (2nd)
Reds 13-20, -8.0 (5th)

POTG: C Geovany Soto (HR, 2B, 3 H, BB)
Runner Up: SS Ryan Theriot (2H, 2B, BB, R, RBI)
I dunno: SP Ryan Dempster (6 IP, 0 ER but 5 R)

All I can think is if Mike Fontenot doesn’t go home, Theriot walks him home, and Lee ties it up with the ground out. And if Fontenot turns a makable double play in the 3rd, 2 runs come off the board. I’m sure he knew all of this last night and felt horrible, but so does everyone else. He was the best player the last two game and continued his hit streak here, and the way the loss happened still over shadows all of that.

Quick thoughts
– At least Dempster pitched well
– DeRosa’s really scuffling
– sending down Pie for another pitcher would be so dumb
– the short bench really could’ve hurt last night, but Pie got on.
– if Marshall needs to be stretched out, why not send him to Iowa, where he can actually start
– Soto is awesome

Cubs really need Z! to be a stopper here.

Last 16 POTG
3 Z!
3 Fontenot
2 Marquis
2 Soto
1 The Riot
1 Cedeno
1 A Ram
1 Reed Johnson
1 Lilly
1 Lieber

Season Total
5 Z!
4 D Lee
4 Soto
2 Fukudome
2 Fontenot
2 Marquis
1 Lieber
1 Dempster
1 1 A Ram
1 Hart
1 1 Johnson
1 Hill
1 The Riot
1 Cedeno
1 Lilly
1 Lieber

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Red Dust

Oct
15

When trying to figure out where the Cubs are going to finish in the future, you’ve got to take a look at the rest of the division. Not that it’s worth a close look yet, because the off season may change things, but you can pick up trends of where franchises are going.

The Brewers are obviously going to be pretty good for an extended period of time. I’d set a baseline of 80 wins for them; if everything goes completely wrong (like they don’t fix the pitching), they still should be around 500. They’ve got a high ceiling from there, and will surely be the consensus pick for the division in ’08.

On the other side, Houston doesn’t seem to be going in the right direction, but I’m not sure it matters with the talent they have left. Pittsburgh could still pick smart people this off season, but they’d have years of rebuilding. St. Louis kinda seems to be now in the same situation, except they’re going to waste the prime years of a top flight Hall of Fame player in the process.

The Reds are the wild card; they’re always close on talent, maybe a starter and a solid guy in the bullpen from being competitive. (I always think of them as a strong offensive team, but they could use some help there as well.) The Reds usually put up a run of very good baseball during the season, usually early, before turning into their usual disappointing season, seven straight of those now. Still, a few smart moves and some luck, and I think they could be the third strong(ish) team in this division.

Thankfully, the Reds are not going to let that happen.

Reds hire Dusty Baker – Cincinnati Enquirer

[Reds GM Wayne] Krivsky said Baker “embodies winning, leadership, credibility.”

ha!

“We’re going to play exciting baseball. We’re going to play fundamental baseball,” Baker said.

hahahaha

“He had two of the most high-profile players ever to play the game when they were going through rocky times,” [Jeff] Brantley said. “I’m talking about Bonds and Sosa. Dusty handled them both well.

“That’s the key. It ain’t going to be the pitching staff. It’s going to be about how he handles (Ken Griffey Jr.).”

I don’t even need to have witty/sarcastic remarks. This is so awesome.

Reading more in the Cincy papers, you can find Reds personal saying things like
– Wood had “the worst mechanics in baseball”, so it’s not Dusty’s fault. (You’d think a coach might want to catch and correct that before he breaks his arm. Guess not!)
– Prior “hurt himself”, whatever that means
– Kent Mercker thinks Dusty is great. In Chicago, Mercker confronted Chip Caray and Steve Stone, and Dusty protected him from punishment, so I hope Mercker would be appreciative.
– oh, the Chicago newspapers had it in for him, of course.
– Marty Brennaman may still heavily dislike Dusty, because no one can get him to say a quote otherwise.

I’m glad Dusty got this job, because it means Adam Dunn will be gone from the division very soon (surely to the Nationals as part of Jim Bowden’s master plan to recreate his old 70 win teams). Maybe Josh Hamilton will be gone too – Dusty is much more a Norris Hopper guy. I’m not looking forward to the first Reds trip to Chicago (April 15) and am already rolling my eyes at the “how dare you boo a guy who brought you within five outs of the World Series” columns, but mostly I’m thrilled to discount a contender. It’s not even specifically because they signed Dusty, though I love the idea of being able to watch him implode a team from a safe distance this time

The Reds problem is more talent evaluation than managers. The last couple of interim managers have turned things around for a while, and then dropped off in following seasons. The managers haven’t changed how they run things during those stretches, and changing managers gives the same results, so you’d think it’d be time to try something else. By making a splashing manager pickup instead of going after more talent, the Reds management show they still don’t have a clue. They could’ve used the extra money they’re paying Dusty over what they would’ve given Pete Mackanin on improving the players on the field and it would’ve made a lot more difference.

The bonus is one less bad person on Baseball Tonight. You know, the Cardinals still need a GM and Steve Phillips is right there…

Game 162: Reds 8 – Cubs 4

Oct
01

Reds 72-90, -13
Cubs 85-77, +2 (+19 from last season)

POTG: LF Soriano (HR, 2B, 3H, 3 RBI)
Runner Up: CF Jacque Jones (2 H, 2B, R, RBI), SP Ted Lilly (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB), RP Kerry Wood (1 IP, H, 3 K)

They really should’ve kept playing the B-Squad! (plus Soriano)

Dempster sucking in a non-save situation was not a surprise. Jason Marquis sucking was a bit more worrisome. It seems like I was the only person in the world who had him ahead of Hill lately, but I was totally fine with the Cubs flipping Hill to the 3rd spot and sending Marquis to the bullpen after this. Party on Friday or no party on Friday, Marquis still sucked on Sunday.

Last 6 Marquis Game Scores: 64 38 61 13 33 0

I kinda want to throw that last one out since it was a starter, but why – it’s obviously affected how things are turning out.

Last 6 Hill Game Scores: 36 31 71 40 47 73

So it’s 2 good games to 2 good games, but Hill’s good games have been better and his bad games haven’t been quite as bad. Neither guy is the hot pitcher they were at the start of the season.

Hill Sep ERA: 5.08
Marqus Sep ERA: 6.21

By the way, Rich Hill needs a nickname so I can look him up in B-Ref quicker. Getting to choose between him and a minor leaguer is a bit annoying. (Or perhaps I need to start marking favorites.)

I don’t think Marquis gets used besides extra innings or mopping up anyway, so it makes no difference if he’s on the roster. The bigger deal is getting an extra Lilly start, since Z would start twice in a five game series regardless. That’s a big improvement.

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Game 161: Cubs 4 – Reds 0

Sep
30

Cubs 85-76, +3
Reds 71-90, -14

POTG: SP Rich Hill (6 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 4 K, W [11/17])
Runner Up: LF Matt Murton (HR, 2B, 2R, RBI), C Mr. Soto (3H, 2 2B, R, RBI), CF Felix Pie (2 H, SB), RP Sean Marshall (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 3 K)

This was the best lineup ever

SS Theriot
2B Fontenot
LF Murton
CA Soto
CF Pie
3B Cedeno
1B Blanco
RF Fuld

Despite putting the most Iowa Cubs lineup possible, the team that spent last night celebrating winning the division (and getting their hotel invaded by fans) were trying a heck of a lot more than the home squad. A little bit of it to do with guys trying to make sure they made the roster (though the two best performances were of guys who were certain to make it), but I think it was also the Reds just losing the will to care. Plenty of no-hitters come against teams who don’t care or just aren’t any good (and with the OF injuries, the Reds are both.) I don’t think it tainted Rich’s performance at all, but it sure aided it.

I would’ve left Rich pitch as long as no hitter was intact. I know you want to save something for the playoffs, but I don’t think it’s very applicable here. Rich hasn’t pitched in a week and won’t pitch again for another week (or more.) When he’s got that much time between starts, you might as well let him air it all out.

Today’s game will be fun for the Spring Training cameos (how many guys can play in one game), but more interesting for following the scoreboard and seeing if there’s a tiebreaker mess left behind.

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Game 160: Cubs 6 – Reds 0

Sep
29

Cubs 84-76, +3 (CLINCH)
Reds 71-89, -13

POTG: SP Carlos Zambrano Is The Greatest Man Alive (7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K, W [18/82])
Runner Up: LF Soriano (2B, HR [32/240], 2R, RBI), 1B D Lee (HR [22/238], 2 RBI), 2B Mark DeRosa (2 H, 2 R), CF/RF Jacque Jones (3 H, 2B, 2 RBI)

Yep.

Yep.

Yep.

Yep.

Game 153: Cubs 3 – Reds 2

Sep
21

Reds 69-83, -10.5
Cubs 80-73, +1.5

POTG: SP Ted Lilly (7 IP, 2 R, 5 H, BB, 8 K)
Runner Up: RP Bobby Howry (2 IP, 0 R, H, 2 K, W [6/35]), LF Alfonso Soriano (HR [28/236], 2H, OF A [16/38]), SS Ryan Theriot (2 H, R), 2B Mark DeRosa (2 H, BB)

I need to invent a time machine so I can go back and find time to do this yesterday when this game was still vivid in my mind.

Lilly was really sharp, as good as he’s been, and on three days rest. It’s something they can file away to use later on, if they get the chance. The bigger point is Lilly’s been well worth the contract handed out to him this season, probably the best of an otherwise weak class. This performance was above and beyond expectations and few comparable guys have done that this year.

Norris Hopper has to be one the fastest guys in the league, and he was still gunned down by many steps. How can anyone still be running on this man? Not that I mind, because it’s saved the Cubs from quite a few tough innings. It does help no one believes he’ll field the ball correctly in the first place, which seems to have caused a good third of his outfield assists this year.

Mark DeRosa is really going to miss the Reds: 533/593/711 in 54 ABs. Three more games! That’s also above and beyond.

There’s no way they could manage to pitch Howry for two innings if not for this goofy off day. And Marmol being a successful closer would’ve caused some sort of revolt, so it really worked out for the best.

NINE TO GO.

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Game 152: Reds 5 – Cubs 2

Sep
19

Reds 69-82, -9.5
Cubs 79-73, -0.0

POTG: RP Carlos Marmol (1.2 IP, K, 1 marooned)
Runner Up: 2B Mark DeRosa (2 H, BB), CF Jacque Jones (H, RBI)

NO POWER = NO WINS. Forget coming back on three days starts or which bullpen guys were used when, if the Cubs can’t do anything more than hit singles, they’re probably not going to win too many games. They ran up against a good pitcher on a good night, so I wouldn’t be so worired about this if it wasn’t a trend.

I don’t know that you can definitively say three days of rest was the reason Z wasn’t any good. It appeared to be both a pitch choice issue (relying on only one) and a mechanical issue (because he couldn’t get the others over), both of which could happen on normal rest. Maybe the missing day threw him off, but he didn’t run out of gas early because he was short a day – he got better as the game went along and he got into a comfort zone. Z just wasn’t comfortable earlier on.

I do know that you can say I’ve been using the word definitively waaaaay too much.

Theriot in September: 167/243/258. Something’s wrong here. Cedeno could give you those numbers, which wouldn’t really help anything. Getting back to average at shortstop would help a bit, but it’s going to have to come internally.

I wouldn’t oppose giving Soriano a day off, but I think they’re going to just go with him with the off days.

Game 151: Cubs 7 – Reds 6

Sep
18

Cubs 79-72, +1
Reds 68-82, -10.5

POTG: 2B Mark DeRosa (5H, 2 RBI, HR)
Runner Up: LF Alfosno Soriano (2 2B), 1B D Lee (H, BB, HBP, 2 R), 3B A Ram (2 H, 3B, 2 RBI, R, BB), RF Cliff Floyd (HR, 2 RBI), C Jason Kendall (2 H), RP Kevin Hart (2 IP, H, K, 0 R)

THAT was a game. Every moment after the Reds got the lead for the last time, it didn’t seem like the Cubs were winning this one. Even when Lee got his hit, Theriot not getting to third made me think there still was trouble ahead. A Ram’s hit changed everything, in a “start calling people on your phone to make sure they hadn’t given up on this game” (and they had!). DeRosa’s hit was just the capper, it was over once Ramirez got it pass Hopper. Not that DeRosa’s five hits weren’t great.

It was fascinating to watch Lou switch between his main bullpen crew and the burnouts and newbies as the game went in and out of reach. Wuertz must’ve been (past tense) on the good side of the ledger to be brought in when he was, Eyre was brought in to keep it close and Wood was warmed up in the bullpen, but as soon as the Cubs slipped behind, it was time for Hart and Ohman. Lou wasn’t going to waste any pitches from the guys he trusts (Howry, Marmol, and Dempster.) I guess you’ve got avoid burning guys out even this close to the end of the season, but this comeback doesn’t happen if Hart and Ohman don’t hold the Reds right there.

Hill’s going to have to start again, and hope it’s not like this. The flakiness of Hill, Marshall and Trachsel makes me completely okay with the idea of pitching guys on 3 days rest today and tomorrow. Plus, it’s Z, he can do pretty much anything he wants to do at any time, I’m pretty sure.

11 TO GO. Time to come up with plans for defeating the Cubs.com Waiting Room on Sunday,

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