Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Big Z Reminds the World That He is the Best Hitting Pitcher in Baseball

Just a quick recap from last night's 11-3 butt kicking the Cubs gave the D-Backs. Basically it was the Carlos Zambrano show last night. His pitching was okay he didn't have his best stuff, but worked through it and tossed 7 strong innings. It was his bat that shined last night. A single, a double to the deepest part of the park that was a foot away from being a homer, and then just for fun he hit an actual homer. Good times all around. Soriano and Fontenot also hit homers, with Milton Bradley adding two base hits. Perhaps the offense is coming around.

In a couple hours the Cubs get the honor of facing Cub killer Doug Davis. Davis has a 3.52 ERA in his career against the Cubs. Ryan Dempster will try and throw strikes today against a lineup that loves to swing and miss. Fukudome will get the day off against the lefty, meaning Reed Mantle starts in center. Soriano in left and Milton in right. Derrek Lee should return today, Aramis might be going to the DL. Finally Carlos Marmol is 100% and ready to go when needed.

Go Cubs!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sox Postponed Again

The Sox and Mariners game has been pushed back 21 hours. They will play a double-header tomorrow starting at 4:05.

This was going to be a terrible thing because the pitching matchup was a doozy for the Sox tonight. Fortunately for the Sox they were able to get the game pushed into a doubleheader tomorrow and the pitching matchup should stay.

There is a chance that Ozzie decided to push Danks back to the night-cap and go with Danks against Felix Hernandez. I don't know this for sure but I would expect Jakubauskas to staye in his slot and pitch game one. Either way the Sox have a good shot at beating him, but odds are it's going to be a tough one in game two.

I sure do wish I lived in Chicago still, because I would surely be at tomorrows doubleheader. 2 games for the price of 1, I'm in for sure. Unfortunately I live in Columbia, Missouri which means I will be watching the games on the computer tomorrow. Darn.

EDIT - It is now official that Danks will start game 2 and Colon game 1. Hope for the sweep, it sure looks like it's possible.

I really don't like the desert

I don't why I always feel uncomfortable when the Cubs head to Phoenix. Maybe it is watching year after year as Randy Johnson dominated the Cubs. Maybe it is because games in that awful stadium look so artificial. 

What is scary about tonight is that Dan Haren's 1-3 record really doesn't paint an accurate pitcher on how well he has pitched this year, reaffirming Justin's belief that win-loss record means absolutely nothing for a pitcher. Haren has posted an ERA of 1.38 so far, and has received a total of one run of support in three games. Yikes.

The good news is that the Diamondbacks haven't been playing well so far this year at 7-11. Mark Reynolds, Justin Upton, and Chris Young have struck out a combined 54 times this year, so if Ted can establish a strong fastball and use his curveball at the right times, he should have some success. 

I just wanted to get my thoughts on Derrek Lee out there. The past two years he has had issues with neck spasms, and he will most likely be back within the next week. However, it really is not the worst thing that he isn't getting at bats right now. Despite Micah Hoffpauir's fielding issues, there really is no question he is driving balls a lot better than D-Lee is this season. It isn't the end of the world that Hoffpauir gets at-bats while he is hot and Lee is not. However, the Cubs success hinges in no small part on Derrek getting healthy and starting to swing the bat at least to the level he did last year. 

New Pitcher for us to face

Rather than face Yusmiero Petit as I said yesterday, Ted will be up against Dan Haren. Haren is better and a Cubs loss is almost a certainty. Might Be Run by Idiots Part 1 of a whole freaking lot

So I just made my daily trek over to to see who was playing when tonight, and I was greeted by this gem. is wondering why so many "good players" are still free agents three weeks into the season. Lets examine the list of these players who "could help teams in a hurry if signed right now."

1. Pedro Martinez- Now I just made the case that Pedro has some of the greatest pitching stats of all time, but those days are behind him. Teams have been trying to sign him since the WBC, but he wants at least $5 million to play. Guess what Pedro, teams don't have money (except apparently the Cubs, but that money is only to be used for cutting bad relief pitchers) you aren't that good, you can't stay healthy for an entire season, and you won't put up good numbers. Not to mention it will take him a few weeks to get ready for full time playing duties. No help in a hurry here.

2. Ben Sheets- Sheets won't be healthy until August at the earliest, do I really need to say more?

3. Paul Byrd- Byrd decided to take a Roger Clemens approach to this season, and now that he says he is ready to pitch, a team will probably sign him soon. He will still need at least a month to get ready to play in the majors (that is no hurry) and he isn't a good pitcher anyway. I'd guess he ends up eating innings for a fringe contender, and his only real impact will be negative.

4. Jim Edmonds- I like Edmonds, and I want the Cubs to sign him, but I don't think he will helping in a hurry. He will also take a month to get ready, and even then his defense is awful and his bat may or may not be there.

5-7. Frank Thomas, Geoff Jenkins, Luis Gonzalez- I'll tackle these three all at once. I bet they can all play tomorrow but their impact will be very bad. Thomas is finished, Jenkins might be able to pinch hit or DH platoon in the AL, and Gonzalez is DONE.

8. Mark Mulder- Finally we arrive at the dumbest one of all. Mulder has pitched 12.2 innings the last two seasons. He might only be 31, but he isn't healthy and never will be healthy again. His ERA was 7.14 in 2006 when he managed 93.1 innings so he isn't good anyway. Hurt pitchers cannot help a team nor can they do it in a hurry.

Take your stupid crap somewhere else Next time try to pimp out players that don't suck/ can't play anyway because they are hurt. 

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Holy Crap Now We Can't Stay Healthy

So I  thought we could get swept this weekend, but Rich Harden had other ideas. After the Cubs looked awful for two days and suffered two more injuries, the two best players on the team Aramis and Carlos Marmol. Fortunately the pair should be back tomorrow or Tuesday. To add to the concern Derrek Lee's neck problems acted up again after he hit a first inning double.

Wow that's a lot of injuries to some key players. When Alfonso Soriano got hit in the head by Todd Wellemeyer it seemed like the Cubs hit rock bottom. Soriano manned up and took his base, and hope was restored. Fukudome continued to be the best hitter on the team with a five RBI day, which gave Rich Harden all the support he needed in his six inning two earned run performance. That closes the book on a very forgettable stretch of Cubs baseball.

On to "hell week" where we get to go to the Cubs ho. use of horrors Chase Field (10-25 all time) to face the Diamondbacks and then return home to face the Florida Marlins who still have the Cubs number. My personal policy of not watching Cubs-Marlins games will most likely remain intact, aided by a trip home. If the Cubs go 4-3 this week I would be really happy, I'm expecting a 2-5 week.

Tomorrow brings not only my 21st birthday, but the weekly holiday known as Ted Day. Ted will continue to defend his honor by trying to shut down the Diamondbacks against Brandon Webb replacement Yusmiero Petit who owns a 2-0 career record against the Cubs with a 2.81 ERA. Wonderful, please Ted deliver us victory on my birthday.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bad Game, But Good Win

I know yesterday I said that I am sick of good games, but that's just because I was being bitter. I really only hate them when we are the ones getting smoked. Today this was not the case. Today I didn't mind the game, actually I guess I'll say I enjoyed it.

Alexei's slam was fantastic. He is now the 2nd fastest player to 5 grand slams in his career. Mark Buehrle was great. Bullpen was good. Corky Miller got a few hits. Great defensive plays by the two guys who can't hit (Owens and Lillibridge). All around just a good day.

Tomorrow is not going to be so good. Contreras vs. Halladay. Mercy, we are in trouble tomorrow. I can't wait to see the money line on that game. It's going to be darn close to +200.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I'm Bored of Bad Games

The Sox have not been in a good game for the last 7 days. Look at these scores starting with today and going backwards, 0-14, 2-6, 8-2, 3-10, 12-2, 8-3. One game was within 4 runs and that was really a 6-0 game, and the 8-3 game in Tampa was really a drubbing too. Now it's one thing to say that I'm getting bored and I'm mad about it, but it's another to look at what the effect it has on the team is.

Jenks has not pitched a competitive inning in 8 days. What happens when there's a 2-1 game in the 9th and suddenly we throw him back into the fire? What happens to the rest of the bullpen for that matter? What happens in a tie game when we have the winning run on third base with less than two? No one is used to getting that run in because every game has been a blow out one way or another. None of the starting pitchers have had any pressure on them. Either they go out there and pitch like a 4 letter word similar to poop, or they have a 6 run lead before they blink. How do they respond to a 0-0 game in the 7th?

There are no answers to these questions. And the way I see it the answers are more likely to be negative for the Sox than positive. Experience breeds success. If you are not used to playing in close games, you will not be used to winning close games. I'm not saying let up when we have the lead. I'm just saying that when we lose games we need to be able to take something from it. And when you are down 14-0 going into the 9th, there's not much to take away from that game.

The Cubs Suck

I'll call it a combined overreaction from the Cubs losing the last two games because they can't score runs and a recent roster move really pissing me off, but I think this Cubs team is going to struggle more than I thought this season. 

Zambrano was actually really good yesterday pitching 7 innings giving up 3 earned runs. Neal Cotts got three outs, though he made sure to let Joey Votto hit a homer first. A certain former Notre Dame pitcher came in for the ninth and managed to give up two more runs. 

The pitching hasn't been the problem, the hitting has. Soriano has remained pretty consistent from day to day. He had two more doubles yesterday, though he was picked off of second on one of them. For once Alfonso Soriano isn't the early season problem. My two least favorite Cub hitters, Ryan Theriot and Kosuke Fukudome aren't the problem either. Aramis is Aramis. Which makes me wonder,  we have four guys hitting really well so what the heck is the problem?

Simple Derrek Lee is a shell of himself, and he has gotten some basehits, they haven't amounted to anything and he continues to struggle at the plate. I keep thinking that Geovany Soto is coming around, but it isn't happening. It would be nice to see him start to get hits. Mike Fontenot has been exposed as a platoon/bench player who is overwhelmed as the everyday starting second baseman. He used to always hit the ball well, and always on a line. Now he is grounding out or striking out seemingly every at-bat. This doesn't mean I want Aaron Miles to play, because he is actually worse. 

Then we come to the Milton Bradley situation. I have said multiple times that no matter what he does on the field, Milton Bradley's hilarious attitude about baseball will always make me like him. Naturally Bradley has literally done everything possible to test that patience. He is hitting .043, stopped talking to the media (I don't blame him for that really), hurt for who knows how long, and made me watch more Aaron Miles. I'm still on Bradley's side, his batting average will come up a lot once he comes back. He is under a ton of pressure from the Cubs fans and I think he let that get to his head. This groin injury is essentially a Soriano reminder. He hurt his leg running around and when he first got back he wasn't ready. Lou is taking the proper approach and sitting him for the time being. Odds are we see Milton return Sunday or Monday full time. That is when he will start hitting, and just like Soriano in 2007 and 2008, he will produce in a big way.

The one positive of Milton being hurt? More Reed Mantle which brings a nice big smile to my face. 

I have quite the weekend/week of hell coming up in school, so I'm going to preview all the weekend games at once. Hopefully I can get a short recap of all the games up, but there is a good chance that I won't write anything of substance until next Wednesday. 

Friday- Ryan Dempster (Dumpster?) v. Adam Wainwright
The best pitching matchup of the weekend, except that I'm not sold on Dempster being good yet. Call me a horrible pessimist (I am) but I don't trust Dempster at all. Wainwright wasn't good against the Cubs last week, but he benefited from the umpires. If his control is bad again then the Cubs need to be PATIENT. Take the walks and then DRIVE THE DAMN RUNS IN. No more of this bases loaded but we either don't score or only score one run crap.

Saturday- Sean Marshall v. Mitchell Boggs
Marshall was pretty good against the Cards last time out, hopefully he can go a bit deeper into the game and hold down Albert Pujols who has awakened in a big way. Mitchell Boggs sucked as a starter last season, not that it matters the way the Cubs have been hitting. Really this is the one game I think the Cubs could win this weekend, except that I'm sure Neal Cotts will pitch at some point and ruin any lead we might be lucky enough to get.

Sunday- Rich Harden v. Todd Wellemeyer
On paper this matchup screams Cubs win, except that Harden was amazing his last start so I'll bet he pitches like crap this time out. Wellemeyer is still getting the job done, though I think a good offense could really whack him around. Unfortunately the Cubs don't have a good offense, so instead we will wait around and pray that Aramis or Alfonso can bail the team out.

Odds are the Cubs get swept away this weekend. A combination of inability to drive runs in and the fact that the Dusty Cubs are back swinging away means we score maybe 5 runs all weekend.

If that happens I'll be back Monday morning with one hell of a rant about this team. Until then Go Cubs! and hopefully the offense can improve. 

Players Revealed

Sorry I'm late on this, I'm busy being pissed at the Cubs (more on that in about 5 minutes).

Player A- Pedro Martinez

Player B- Sandy Koufax 

Now obviously if I were to toss those two names out almost everybody would automatically take Koufax. I'm basically saying that in my opinion Pedro was the more dominant pitcher over each player's prime. For those who think that all those complete games are really cool, keep in mind that this stretch of pitching ruined Koufax's arm and forced him to retire. 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Crane Kenney is a loser

Crane Kenney is a wannabe, pure and simple. Now don't get me wrong, Kenney has accomplished a lot in his life. He has a law degree from the University of Michigan, which is really impressive. However, he is not a baseball man and should really stick to the area of expertise that he knows best.

It seems to me every time he forays into the Cubs headlines, it is for something stupid. Hiring the Greek Orthodox priest to "bless" the Cubs dugout and "remove" the billy goat curse before the playoff last year was one of the odder, dumber things to have been done by a typically inept Cubs management team. 

How many Cubs officials, be it Jim Hendry, Lou, or players, have you ever heard acknowledge the "curse?" None! Of the real, genuinely passionate Cub fans I know, none of them have ever referred to it either. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of "Cub fans" that love to talk about it. But usually this is limited to the fair-weather fans and the girls from the North-side who think it is cool to "love" the Cubs because their Dad does. It is all a bunch of BS, and the fact that a high-ranking Cubs official makes a mockery of the team and stadium with shenanigans like Kenney did is just awful. 

I know this is about six months too late, but Kenney's latest headline-grabbing move brought it back up for me. 

I don't like Dusty Baker. 2003 was great, but he bumbled NLCS Game 5 in Florida, which is what really led to the collapse. He bumbled the end of 2004 with a team that was probably the best in baseball apart from the Cardinals that year. 2005 was blah and you'd be hard-pressed to find a worst major league ball club than the one Dusty watched over in 2006. My point is, I don't like him. 

However, Crane Kenney going out and saying at Cubs Convention that the 2007 team wouldn't have made the playoffs if Dusty was managing is nothing short of idiotic. Ok Crane, I know it must be cool for you to be the big guy and stand in front of 500 people and be a smart ass. Everyone in that room probably agreed with you, but you are a professional and the things you say reflect on the Cubs organization. Find me one other high-up management type in baseball, or any other sport, that would go out and blast a former employee, let alone manager.

After all this, according to an article in today's Tribune, Kenney went to Dusty last night and denied that he had said or done any of that. Well Crane, according to the same article, the incident is on video. For someone with a law degree from a great University, Kenney sure is a moron.

My advice to Mr. Kenney is to stay in his North shore mansion, keep his mouth shut, and just bide your time until the Ricketts family takes over. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wait You Have to Score to Win a Baseball Game?

Funny the Cubs offense was not aware that scoring runs is the way to win. After Ted Lilly pitched a masterful game for seven innings, the Cubs decided not to score off of Johnny Cueto and the Reds won 3-0. 

Ted gave up one unearned run in his seven innings pitched, though that run was Ted's fault for his bad fielding. Joey Votto his a RBI double off of Angel Guzman in the eighth and Kevin Gregg let Jay Bruce hit a homer in the ninth to finalize the final score. Quick aside- I said I don't want the Cubs to be responsible for Jay Bruce getting hot this season, but they are. Two homers in as many games.

The first inning was the Cubs best chance to score, Fukudome and Lee got one out singles. Milton Bradley and Aramis both blew chances to drive the runs in. The rest of the night the offense laid down and took it from Cueto. A few scattered hits, and even David Weather and Cordero shut the Cubs down. 

Aaron Miles shouldn't start, though tonight's loss wasn't his fault. Also Aramis will be getting his cleanup spot back very soon if Milton can't start hitting.

Tomorrow I might have something early, but with an afternoon game between Harang and Carlos Big Z El Toro Zambrano I doubt it. Z was awful last time out, and I think it continues tomorrow, meanwhile Harang has been really good this season and I see no reason why that won't continue.

Prove me wrong Cubs, but I doubt it.

Cubs Win and Happy Ted Day

Last night the Cubs put the old smackdown on the Reds and cruised to a 7-2 win. Rich Harden dominated for six innings, and the bullpen took the Cubs home, though Neal Cotts secured his fate by sucking and forcing Carlos Marmol to pitch.

The wind made it impossible to hit a home run to left field, though Derrek Lee did his best. I still don't see how that ball didn't make it into the basket. Micah Hoffpauir launched a homer and hit a deep sac fly, Aramis had 3 RBI and the offense was buzzing for once. Fontenot is still slumping, but I'll ignore that for now.

I felt like the live blog was a success last night even if nobody ever reads it. I'll probably do one of those a week or every two weeks throughout the season.

Onto tonight's game where Johnny Cueto will try and stop the unstoppable force that is Ted Lilly. The Reds were 4-0 against Ted last season, but I think Ted was just setting them up for some domination today. The Cubs were 3-1 against Cueto last season, so something has to give. With any luck the wind will be blowing in and helping Ted keep those flyballs in the park, and the Cubs will get the win.

Finally, maybe, just maybe we get the return of Milton Bradley tonight. Happy Ted Day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ahhhh, That One Was Frustrating

Despite the fact that I said I expect Brad Bergensen to dominate the Sox, I'm still unhappy about how this one went down. All three times now Contreras has failed. Sox have lost all 3 games in which he has pitched by a combined score of 31-8. That's not good. But that's not the only thing that bothers me.

The first thing, and probably most important thing, is that the Sox allowed Nick Markakis to take over the game. Pitching to him with a base open is stupid. I understand Huff had hit a homer earlier in the game, but he's a perfect double play candidate and Markakis already had 3 hits in the game. Stick your ego in your back pocket and go around the guy. If you are going to lose to the Orioles make it be someone other than Markakis. And I know Huff and Scott were good today, but they are not quite the talents that Markakis is, so why push the envelope with him?

Next is the "B" bullpen as opposed to the "A" bullpen. In each and every game Contreras has pitched he has done well for a few innings only to lose his control and lose the lead in the process. But that's not the biggest problem. The problem is that we let these games slip to a point of no return. When Contreras goes out in comes the band of struggling relievers. From Richard to Carrasco to MacDougal to Egbert the offense never gets another chance. I don't have a problem using thos pitchers, you have to at some point. But in key situations, use Linebrink or Dotel, or even Thornton to give the offense a chance to get back at it. Today as well as the other 2 losses in which Contreras pitched the game went from close to blow-out awfully quickly. The Sox can hit, they can dig out of holes, you just have to give them a chance.

Finally, it's time for Podsednik, or Beckham, or someone else. Anderson and Owens are just awful at the plate. Anderson had one productive out today which drove in a run, but he also wailed at three pitches right down the middle in a key spot later in the game. Owens' pinch hit was almost as hard to watch as Contreras trying to pitch past the 5th inning. I know Podsednik is probably not ready yet, and Beckham is not really a center fielder, but my god do we need a fix out there.

The good news is that this game is over and Contreras doesn't have to pitch for another 5 days (and as the matchups look to shape up it will be against Halladay, so we may as well forfeit that one now). Tomorrow Johnny Danks is back on the bump and hopefully the hitting can get back on track against Guthrie. However from the looks of the weather we may be fighting it again tomorrow, which would be another time Danks has to wait to pitch.

Cubs-Reds Live Blog

Brad Bergesen Scares Me

The thing that bothers me with this guy is that not only has he never pitched a game in the majors, but I've never even heard his name before a few days ago. Now I don't claim to be an Orioles minor league expert, but I do know that when there are young studs coming up through the system you hear about them. So that would lead you to believe that he's not that good right? False.

Bergesen was the Orioles minor league pitcher of the year last year, and he has a 2.45 ERA with a 1-1 record in Triple A so far this year. He had a very good spring with an ERA just over 3 while striking out 11 in 11.2 innings.

The Sox are a team that are really hit or miss against young pitching. Sadly more often than not it's miss... see Greg Smith, Andy Sonnenstine, Brian Burres among many others. With the day off and playing in a new ballpark tonight, I'm not sure the hitting tear the Sox have been on will continue.

So here's my guess. There are three scenarios I see happening (and by laying them out odds are they will all be wrong), but here goes. 1) Bergesen dominates, 7,8 innings or so. Sox lose bad. 2) Sox torch the guy and Sox win easily. 3) Bergesen falls into the young pitcher mold and overthrows. Not able to find the strike zone. Walks like 6 guys, and the Sox win.

Let's hope for scenario 2 or 3, but I'm afraid it's gonna be number 1.

Something New for Tonight

Instead of posting a recap for tonight's Cubs game, I am going to write a Bill Simmons style game diary. Odds are it will be really long and mostly boring, but I'm going to try it for one night. If this works I think I will do it for one game a week, if it doesn't work we never have to see or hear from it again.

Also here is a blind player comparison to hold you over. This one is a bit tricky and complicated, it involves two historically great players. One is still active while the other is old. These are the best four year stretches of each players career. I'm not using wins and losses because pitchers wins is the dumbest stat ever.

Player A
905.1 IP 2.16 ERA 28 CG 11 SO 219 ERA+ 1153 K .925 WHIP 11.2 K/9 2.0 BB/9 3 CY Young

Player B
1192.2 IP 1.86 ERA 89 CG 31 SO 172 ERA+ 1228 K .909 WHIP 9.3 K/9 2.0 BB/9 3 CY Young

So who would you take based on the stats? I'll have the players and a bit of an argument for each after the reveal. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

More Derrek Lee Panic and Other Cubs Thoughts

Now two weeks into the season opinions on the team and players are starting to become more formed and more valid. Two weeks worth of games still don't dictate any sort of legitimate sample size, but there are some things that can be seen from that time. 

My number one problem remains the bullpen, specifically Neal Cotts, but as I have said before the Cotts situation will take care of itself sooner rather than later. Vizcaino hasn't been seen much, though he has impressed me a little. David Patton has been pretty good as well, I have to say that his curveball is going to get a lot of major league hitters out. Marmol is Marmol and will remain the go to guy for Lou the whole season. Heilman and Gregg both impressed me this weekend, and maybe, just maybe they can be respectable arms at the end of games.

Derrek Lee is most likely going to drive me crazy this season. Don't even think of him as a home run threat anymore. His power is gone, and I'm starting to wonder just how long Lou lets this thing go on. He isn't a three hitter, not when Aramis is on the team. Lee did hit a big double on Saturday, but really the extent of his power is weak doubles down the line. He isn't hitting the ball hard to the gaps, and his one homer came at home off of Houston Street who is perhaps the worst pitcher in baseball right now. Lee has a limited time remaining in the 3-hole. 

Geo and Milton have both had slow starts to the season based mostly on being injured. I'm not worried about either one quite yet. Milton has brought an awesome approach to the plate, taking lots of pitches and once this whole suspension crap/groin injury get taken care of I have complete faith in Milton being an awesome player for the Cubs. Geo got hurt after one game, and hasn't been back long enough to get concerned quite yet. His approach looked real good Friday and Saturday which tells me that he will be back being Geo very soon.

Lou still doesn't know how the bullpen is going to work, and he continues to manage without much intelligence. I'm not worried about that because the same thing happened the past two seasons and he got his head on straight pretty quickly.

7-4 and 1st place after two weeks. Reds and at Cardinals for three games each this week. So far, not so bad. 

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Week 2 NL Central Power Rankings

1. Chicago Cubs (7-4) - It was pretty hard to choose who deserves the top spot, but I had to give it to the Cubs, especially after taking 2/3 from the Cardinals this weekend. To be quite honest, the Cardinals could have easily won all three games this weekend, just as the Cubs could have won the first game. Both bullpens so far look shaky, but Carlos Marmol gives the Cubs a slight edge in my book as of right now...but that could quickly change. 

2. St. Louis Cardinals (8-5) - The Cardinals offense is on fire right now. Clearly Joe Thurston and Brian Barden are going to come down to earth, but I think that will be about it. Ryan Ludwick seems to really be in the same zone he was in last year, and I fully expect him to give Albert protection all year round. I don't think Chris Duncan's average will keep up, but I think he will have enough pop to scare opposing pitchers. Even with losing Chris Carpenter they should have enough to stay right at the top the way Lohse and Wellemeyer are throwing strikes. Adam Wainwright needs to stop throwing so many pitches, but it seems he always does what he has to do on 3-2 counts. 

3. Cincinnati Reds (6-5) - They are kind of quietly above .500, which is a good starting point for a team trying to jump tiers in a division. They have gone 2-0-1 in series against teams in the Central, which is also a good starting point. A series win against the Cubs would be a great way to establish themselves early in the season.

4. Pittsburgh Pirates (6-6) - The P's (as a friend of mine refers to them), have two things going for them that they didn't last season. They haven't been beat up by the Cubs as they did in the first few weeks last year. Also, and more importantly, Paul Malholm and Zach Duke have both looked solid so far, going a combined 4-0. Matt Capps too has looked solid so far, which is more than most teams in this division can say for their closer. 

5/6. Houston Astros/Milwaukee Brewers (4-8) - I know this a cop out. However, I couldn't pick between the Astros 36 runs scored this year (lowest in the division) or the Brewers 60 runs allowed (highest in the division). Lance Berkman really needs to get things going. 

No Game Tonight: Rotation is Moved Around

So we aren't playing the Cardinals tonight because of too much rain. The game will be rescheduled as a day-night doubleheader on July 12. 

Ted had a bit of a cold anyway, so he will pitch Wednesday while Z will go Thursday. That means Sean Marshall will pitch Friday. Rich Harden will face Micah Owings on Tuesday. 

Go Cubs, lets hope to steal two of three from the Reds. 

Saturday, April 18, 2009

So Far So Good in Tampa

Hey, 2 out of 3 aint bad (someone said that right?) But seriously it isn't bad at all. The Sox won the first game in a really close game and the bullpen came through in the clutch. Game 2 was one we could have won, but one bad pitch by Thornton hurt big time. And Game 3 was a great overall hitting performance against a good pitcher (Kazmir).

So as we look towards tomorrow morning (12:38 start, why 38?, different post different day), the Sox have a real chance to win this series. Which to me was almost unfathomable when the Sox arrived in Tampa. And the way I see it, the Sox easily could be on the brink of the 4 game away sweep, something they surely haven't done in long time. But that's not the case so we look towards tomorrow as a chance to walk out of Tampa on a 2 game winning streak and 4-2 on the first 6 of the 9 (scheduled for 10) game road trip.

Tomorrow is Floyd vs. Garza. Winnable game for sure, I wouldn's say the Sox are favored to win this game, but if Gavin is on the Sox should win this game. Garza is a good pitcher but he's not unhittable by any means. And if (and this is a hypothetical - Office Space joke) the Sox win the game, this trip would be on path for one of the more successful trips in a long time. If the Sox were to win tomorrow and then grab 2 of 3 from the Orioles, which I think is really possible, They would finish the trip off at 6-3. You play .667 baseball on the road and you should win 100 games easily.

I was a little concerned with how this first road trip was going to go, but so far so good, so here's to a win tomorrow, and more good baseball as we move on to Balitmore.

Aramis Bails Team Out

Lots of people are getting bailouts lately. Today was Ryan Dempster, who struggled earlier as I was writing a brief recap of yesterday's bailout. Well the Dumpster turned back into Dempster and got the last 10 guys out he faced. 

Then Neal Cotts did his best to get cut and walked two guys on 8 pitches. Marmol cleaned it up, only to start his own thing in the eighth which Kevin Gregg came in and stopped. Heilman and Angel Guzman finished the night on the mound giving Guzman his first career win.

That of course is not the story here, Aramis continues to be one of the top clutch hitters in the game, and his two-run walkoff homer was no exception. It took until the eleventh inning to get his first hit, but it was well worth the wait.

Derrek Lee hit a game tying double off Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse in the fifth, Aaron Miles gave the Cubs a brief lead in the sixth with an RBI hit. Marmol allowed the game to be tied by a Yadier Molina double in the eighth, but Gregg was able to end that inning without more runs being scored.

The bullpen was awesome today, allowing only the one run. Gregg dominated his two inning and Heilman got the job done. Beside Cotts, who I think will be given the door soon, the bullpen impressed today.

We can't have a hero every night, and that is my only problem with today's game. Too much reliance on Soriano or Aramis to bail out the offense because nobody else can get a clutch hit. The RISP batting did improve a bit today, but it still has to get better.

If the weather cooperates tomorrow night Ted Lilly will try and remind all of Cardinal nation who is boss. Todd Wellemeyer will try and shut down the Cubs offense which may just be starting to heat up. 

Keep winning and try and get 3 of 4 tomorrow so we can remind the Cardinals who the boss of this division is.

Soriano bails the team out, Dumpster In Progress Fail

So yesterday the Cubs won because Alfonso Soriano hit another 2-run go ahead homer in the eighth inning. This time off Chris Perez who the Cardinals had just called up. Carlos Zambrano struggled through 7 innings giving up 7 runs, but got bailed out by Soriano. Carlos Marmol came in and after some early problems keeping his slider going for strikes, then he went to his fastball and ended the game pretty quickly. Strike out to Ludwick and got Greene to ground into a double play.

Onto a "live" update of today's game. Dempster was good the first two innings, but in the third he turned into Dumpster. Walking people and then letting Ludwick beat us. He got out of it only giving up 3 runs, but I'm guessing the Cardinals get more runs next inning.

Now I'm watching Aaron Miles play baseball which I hate, listening to Thom Brennamen weep for Tim Tebow, and Miles grounds out. Typical, such a bad player. I'll have a recap of this fun after we are done being dominated by Kyle Lohse

Friday, April 17, 2009

4/15 Player A v. Player B revealed

I know this has taken too long to get up here, but I've been really sick the last few days. Most of you probably know the answers already. 

Player A is... Washington Nationals 1B/OF Adam Dunn (photo courtesy

Player B is... St. Louis Cardinals 3B Troy Glaus (photo courtesy

Based solely on numbers this one is a little tricky, but I think I'd still take Adam Dunn based on the OPS. If age is factored in, Dunn becomes a no-brainer. Stay tuned, we'll have another one up soon (hopefully involving an AL player). 

Cubs Lose Two Straight, Welcome a new rookie

So school work and illness has made the Cubs contingent of TCB unable to post the past few days. The Sox contingent finds himself employed and with less free time. Luckily my school work is done and its time to blog.

Quick summary of the last two days. Rich Harden- one bad start, Cubs fans get karma for chanting at Marquis, offense sucks. Adam Wainwright-struggling, Sean Marshall- respectable, Umpire- AWFUL, Milton Bradley-awesome, offense still sucks.

Today the Cubs try to even the series with the Cardinals sending Carlos Big Z El Toro Zambrano against rookie starter P.J. Walters. Walters is making his first career start which spells doom for the Cubs.

Big Z has been pretty good this year, and I would expect that he is able to toss 7 innings today without much problem if he can keep his head on. Just throw some strikes and get guys to hit the ball on the ground.

Walters is exactly the kind of guy who in the past has come up and just shut down the Cubs. Hopefully the team can remain patient and take walks. Put this guy under pressure and then GET THE BIG HIT.

No Milton for one more day, which means we have Hoffpauir in RF and hitting fourth.

I think Cubs lose 5-1, but I hope I am wrong.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stop Backing Down Sox

This afternoons game was frustrating for all of us. Any time the score is 0-0 half way through a game (after 4.5 innings) and you lose a game 9-0 it's gonna sting. But what happened in the 8th inning actually made me more upset than losing the game itself.

This Perry character comes in the game and throws four pitches at guys heads. This is in a 6-0 ballgame at the time. Now I understand, young guy, first few times in regular season games, trying to impress a manager, I get it. But when your team is up 6-0 and the opposition is not threatening at all you have to lay off the intimidation garbage.

Bottom of the 8th rolls around and a perfect situation to throw a pitch up an in to one of Detroit's best hitters (Cabrera) presents itself. The Sox were not going to come back in this game. They had a golden opportunity to take something away from it. Now I'm not saying you need to hit the guy (I'd prefer actually doing it) but just let him know we aren't gonna take this crap all season. Buzz one either at his shoulder or behind his head and send the message we need to send. Alexei would have been happy, Fields would have been happy, and probably more importantly the Tigers would learn to stop messing with the Sox. Not to mention odds are it would have caused a riff between Cabrera and the pitcher (Perry).

Sure it could have cost MacDougal a few games (and frankly I think that would benefit the team) and maybe cost Ozzie some chump change and a game. But it would have brought the team a little bit closer. The pitchers could prove to the hitters that they have their backs. And the Tigers (and possibly the rest of the league) would probably stop throwing pitches at Sox guys heads.

But this one incident isn't the root of the problem. The Royals are one of the main offenders of this problem. Earlier this year I thought there was a situation in which they deserved a retaliation pitch. And two times last year there were incidents. One in which Miguel Olivo decided to charge the mound because D.J. Carrasco isn't good at pitching (couple pitches were a little too inside) and one series where the sox were out HPB'ed (is that a term?) like 7-0.

I thought this team had a fiery manager who would stick up for his players in any situation. Well if you can't get a pitchers to knock someone on their rear 8 games into the season, I can't imagine any situation later where he would authorize it.

Understand that this is not a post about the state of the team. They are fine, and I think they will be right in the thick of things when August/September roll around. I'm just sick and tired of watching pitches buzz but Sox players heads and opposing guys don't expect any retaliation. The Sox had a chance to set a precedent for the second time this year, and instead I think the exact opposite precedent has been set. You throw at us, we'll take it. When it should be, come too far inside on use and your next hitter is going to be needing some ice to heal that bruise. Sorry Ozzie, but this was a opportunity to pose the White Sox will on the Tigers, the AL Central, and the American League, and you let it slip away.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

4/15 Player A v. Player B

These two players don't have the star-power of the first post, but their numbers are still intriguing. Both of these guys can contribute to a winning ball club, despite the low averages. 

Player A 
BA - .247
OPS - .902
HR - 280
BB - 808
SB - 59

- MVP 26, ROY 4

Player B
BA - .256
OPS - .858
HR - 304
BB - 788
SB - 56

- MVP 30, two-time Silver Slugger 

So, who ya got?? Comment away!

4/14 Player A v. Player B revealed

Player A is... Houston 1B Lance Berkman (photo courtesy

Player B is... Chicago Cubs LF Alfonso Soriano (photo courtesy

As I said, this one was pretty easy: Berkman is the logical choice. I didn't include steals (Soriano has 250 and Berkman 72) because I thought that would give Soriano away seeing as he just got to 250 a few days ago. What is a little baffling to me is how Berkman has more runs scored than Soriano. I would think Alfonso would have more after all those years atop the great lineups in New York and Texas. I'll try to make the next one a little more difficult and surprising. If you enjoyed, please come back and continue to comment. 

Sox-Tigers Postponed

No makeup date has been set. I wish they would play games in domes or in warm weather early in the year. This is 2 of 8 (9 if you count the makeup date) that have been postponed now.

Really not a good day to have the game postponed for the Sox. Danks on normal rest, hitters coming alive, young pitcher on the mound for the Tigers. Unfortunate. I'd guess Danks will get the call again tomorrow. Could be Porcello or Galarraga for the Tigers. My guess is they skip Porcello, but I honestly don't know.

I'm still not a big fan of cancelling games without giving it the best chance possible, but at least today they waited til game time to call this one off. Go get em tomorrow Sox.

Sox Sign Podsednik To Minor League Deal

The White Sox have signed Scott Podsednik to a minor league deal to help replace Dewayne Wise after yesterdays injury. Podsednik is supposedly healthy and ready to go.

Here's what we know. Wise is out for 6 to 8 weeks and Ozzie has been quoted as saying he doesn't expect to see him back until June at the earliest. Jerry Owens' contract was purchased and he is now on the active 25 man roster. Anderson is expected to start for the time being (including today). I'd say we are probably about a week or two before we see Pods on the big league team.

Now for this game to start. No word from Hawk and Stone about when this game could start. Radar doesn't look great though.

A Nice Chat With Lou and Other Cub Thoughts

Well seven games into the season the Cubs have been playing some close dramatic baseball and I'll admit I'm a bit more interested in the regular season than I thought I would be. So here are my opening week Cubs impressions.

First the Lou chats are becoming my favorite part of this team. He hates the bullpen right now, and if they don't start throwing the ball over the plate it will only get worse. Starting the first week he was with the Cubs Lou set the precedent that he has no problem walking out to a relief pitcher mid at bat and informing them that if they don't start throwing strikes then he will put his foot somewhere they don't want it. Ryan Dempster got this early on, and yesterday Aaron Heilman got his first Lou chat of the season. While less Lou chats mean that the pitchers are doing their jobs, I wouldn't mind seeing a few more of these as the season goes on.

Don't start the Alfonso Soriano MVP talk just yet. While I will only be calling Soriano MVP for the next few weeks, that doesn't mean he is the MVP. He had a white hot week at the plate, he has done it before and he will do it again. Just remember that he will also have some cold stretches that will have Greg calling for him to be moved down in the order. 

Don't buy Fukudome quite yet. Great start to the season but he did this last year. Don't get sucked in thinking he has it all figured out just yet. Come June 1 if he is still hitting really well then we can start talking about him being great this year. So far he is just repeating last season.

Bradley, and Aramis will be fine and can take their time resting throughout the season. Bradley is going to miss time with nagging crap like this groin strain thing, and Aramis has always missed games with little crap too. We have plenty of protection for Bradley especially with Fukudome hitting right now. Fontenot can do the third base thing once every two weeks if he has too, so I'm not worried about that either.

Reed Mantle remains the highlight reel fielder that we all love.

This starting pitching is pretty good and after Thursday we should know what we have. Ted almost tossed a no hitter. Rich Harden dominated and looked healthy (that won't last), Big Z is Big Z and Dumpster was average. After Sean Marshall starts this week the whole thing should round into shape. It seems that right now I feel pretty good about the Cubs starting pitcher no matter who is going that day.

Carlos Marmol is really good at getting guys out and I still love him.

4/14 Player A v. Player B

Every so often TCB will give the blind stats of two players and let you decide which one you'd rather have on your team. The next day the identities the players will be revealed. Hopefully some biases and misconceptions can be sorted out (because we all have them!). This first one should be a pretty easy one. So, here we go...

Player A
AB - 4822
BA - .301
OPS - .972
HR - 289
R - 897
- Has finished 3rd in MVP twice and 6th in ROY 

Player B
AB - 4962
BA - .282
OPS - .848
HR - 274
R - 804
- Has finished 3rd in MVP once and 3rd in ROY

Who ya got?? Comment away! 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Nice Win for Sox

I didn't think Detroit was more of a home run ballpark than the Cell but, I said in my last post that the ball will start flying out of the park and today it happened. Dye hit's career number 300, Konerko hits career number 300, Quentin knocks two out. Very nice job by Sox hitters today, 10 runs in Comerica is quite the feat.

Sadly Gavin was not at his best today. He allowed 6 runs on 5 innings and the worst part of the performance was the 7 walks. Gavin continues to struggle when he lets guys on base. He has good enough stuff to be a legitimate ace in the American League, but he is going to need to continue working on location, and making better pitches when he allows people on base. I think he will be fine though. Nothing too big to worry about there (after all he did get the win today)

Tomorrow is Danks vs. Rick Porcello. Steve Stone was talking up Porcello during Sunday's game, so that concerns me a little bit, but Porcello was not so good in his first start as he allowed 4 earned in 5 innings allowing two home runs in the process. Sox are really hit or miss against guys they have not seen before. Sometimes they kill them sometimes they can't hit a thing. Let's hope for the first option of those two.

Cubs 4 - Rockies 0 (Game 7)

Great game, bad weather. The wind definitely robbed the Rockies off a few homers, most notably Ryan Spillborghs in the first inning. However, Ted Lilly was fantastic, and had the control he didn't have in Houston. I successfully avoided saying any combination of the words "no" and "hitter," so don't put that one on me. 

Today was really the best version of Ted Lilly, as he was moving quickly and throwing first pitch strikes. I just love Ted's demeanor in general, but especially when he is rolling. He figuratively puts his head down and chugs away at batters. Z could learn a thing or two from his teammate. 

I know I will probably harp on this more than I should because I so badly want him to succeed, but lost in the first week of the season was that Kosuke's solid start all came on the road. The road was not kind to him last year, where he batted .225 and had an OBP of .322, so this past week hopefully starts him in the right direction away from Wrigley.

At Wrigley today, he continued to get on base with 3 walks and one hit. Derrek Lee showed some signs of life with two hits and an RBI, so hopefully a few home games is what he needs to jump start his season. 

If you would have told me a month ago that Dome would be the 3 hitter and Mike Fontenot would be starting at third to open Wrigley, I'd pretty obviously say the Cubs lose. They won with a patchwork lineup today because of a great start from Ted. As Spiderman said (and as confirmed by Peter Griffin) everyone gets one. 

NL Central Power Rankings (Week 1)

After the first week in the NL Central, here are is how I think the teams stack up. 

1. St. Louis Cardinals (5-2) - Chris Carpenter's start alone really made this week a success for the Cardinals. I would argue if they hadn't won a game besides Carpenter's and he had pitched that well, it still would have been relatively successful. Kyle Lohse's complete game yesterday was simply icing on the cake. There are clearly bullpen issues, but which team in the division doesn't have them? 

2. Chicago Cubs (4-2) - Despite the solid road trip in terms of wins, there were a lot of things to cause concern for this week. Milton Bradley got nicked up. The lack of infield depth is already being tested with a gimpy Aramis Ramirez. Kevin Gregg (closer) and Neal Cotts (only lefty) look terrible out of the bullpen. Derrek Lee doesn't look anything like a 3 hitter should. However, the starting pitching was pretty good and Alfonso Soriano looks like an MVP. So does Fukudome in his own diminished way. 

3. Cincinnati Reds (2-3) - A good week for Aaron Harang (including that great CG yesterday), really should have Reds fans feeling good. Clearly Volquez needs to rebound this week from a bad start against the Mets, but he did only give up 4 runs to a good lineup. Joey Votto is off to a scalding start, and once they  can get the speed with Hairston and Taveras back in the lineup, it will be solid. 

4. Pittsburgh Pirates (4-3)  - I know they have more wins than the Reds and took a series on the road from them, but the Reds simply are deeper and more talented. However, the Pirates stayed competitive against the Cardinals in St. Louis, and Nyger Morgan looks like he could be a legitimate major league leadoff hitter. With him, McLouth, and Ryan Doumit, the Pirates have some nice pieces in their lineup. However, a good team would have those guys complementing one or two star hitters.

5. Milwaukee Brewers (2-4) - On Sunday Night Baseball, Jon Miller (or it might have been one of the other two) made a comment on how without Sheets and Sabathia, Braun and Fielder will have to outhit the production they lose from the two star pitchers. Sheets and Sabathia combined for 24 wins last year, and just think of what that equates to at the plate. I just don't think it is possible, but it is only the first week. 

6. Houston Astros (1-5) - This team is too old, and though they had their chances against the Cubs in the opening series, they just didn't show up in St. Louis. Lance Berkman is off to a really slow start, and this lineup just can not survive that. 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sox Week One

This would probably be a long post if I did it in paragraph form, so I'm going to do it in bullet form and not do too much explanation.

  • 3-3 isnt bad, would have been nice to be 4-2, but it could have been much worse. Half game out of first after one week, good not great.
  • The pitching has been fantastic. Contreras was the worst starter and MacDougal the worst reliever and I really dont see too much a problem with either as we move forward. The bullpen has been downright nasty, rough day against the Twinks can be overlooked, and Jenks struggling in non-save situations is not a huge deal. Dotel has been unreal, Thornton great, Linebrink good, and Richard better than expected out there.
  • Hitting started out slow, but it is coming around a little bit. Only 5 runs in 3 games against the Royals is not good, better in series 2. Looks like it will continue to get better. Alexei and Quentin are the keys. They got going against the Twins and off the Sox went.
  • Lots of balls to the warning track. The ball will fly more as the Sox travel to different parks and as the weather warms up. This team will hit a lot of home runs. (Bold prediction, right)
  • Amazingly the weather held off. Opening Day had to be pushed back, but then they got 6 straight games in. Not bad for April in Chicago.
  • 6 road games coming up, I predict 3, 4 would be nice. Anywhere between 2-5 is possible
This used to be in bullet form but a certain writer (cough Justin cough) changed the layout of the site. I like the new layouts, but I think no longer will I be using bullets.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Not Much To Say For the Sox But...

It's about time.

Sadly I was unable to watch this game because I live in Columbia, Mo where the Sox obviously do not take precedence over the Cardinals. And that's fine, but FOX does not allow MLB.TV users to watch the other FOX games. Also the p2p stream I often use was not working for me. So woah is me and I didn't get to see it. (I am not angry or complaining, I'm just stating facts)

However, it was great to "see" that the Sox decided 4 games was enough messing around and it was now time to hit. Just about everyone stepped up today at the plate. Every starter got a hit except Lillitbridge and Konerko and both of them reached base on walks. It was great to see Alexei get going, and Carlos hit his second home run of the year. So all around nice job by the hitters today, and hopefully we can get that to coninue.

Bartolo "The Gravy Train" Colon arrived right on time. He was awesome today (at least gameday made it seem that way). I'm really not at liberty to comment much further on him, other than saying, it's great to know he is still able to shut down a major league team in a regular season game.

Soriano Bails us Out

Cubs 6 Brewers 5

Thank God for Alfonso Soriano. I know a lot of Cub fans don't like Soriano and his streaky hitting, but tonight he bailed the team out. His two run homer with one out in the top of the ninth gave the Cubs a 6-5 lead and Marmol closed out the win.

So much negative came out of this game, I was ready to write the recap after the seventh when the bullpen collapsed, but I'm glad I waited. The offense was led by Soriano, Fukudome, and Aramis. Each hit a homer and they drove in all the Cubs runs. 

Zambrano was laboring most of his start, though he did go six innings allowing three runs. The Cubs scored only on Fukudome's homer (more on him later) until Dome tripled home Soriano in the sixth. A Soriano fielder's choice tied the game at three in the top of the seventh.

This is when the fun started. Of course by fun I mean the second straight night of bullpen pick'um that almost made Lou kill somebody. Angel Guzman got an out before walking two, then Cotts came in to face Prince Fielder which of course ended in a walk. Aaron Heilman took his turn and to nobody's surprise JJ Hardy hit a two run single. A bizarre strike out and run down ended that inning with the Cubs down 5-3. 

Aramis homered in the top of the eighth and Heilman stayed on to work an uneventful bottom of the inning. Carlos Villanueva who is holding the closers spot for Trevor Hoffman was able to get Koyie Hill out before facing Reed Mantle. Reed got a clutch single and Joey Gathright came on to pinch run. Soriano came up a sent the ball waaaaay over the fence and the Cubs got the 6-5 lead. Carlos Marmol struck out Braun and Fielder to end the game and the Cubs stole a win.

Now a brief talk about Fukudome. Him and Soriano are carrying the team this first week, and there are some encouraging signs from Dome. He is being aggressive with first pitch fastballs and it seems like the league hasn't remembered the book on him. I hope this is more than just another Fukudome hot April that turns worse as the weather gets warm.

Tomorrow night Sunday Night Baseball takes a trip to Milwaukee to watch Dempster go against Jeff Suppan. Hopefully the Cubs play better as a team tomorrow. 

Rich Harden Impresses, Lou Pinella and Kevin Gregg Blow It

This took a while because I didn't want to write about the game at all, but considering Harden at a pretty impressive start I thought I should throw something up. 

Rich Harden was great today, 6IP 10K 1ER 3 H 2BB. If he does that every start then he will win lots of games. Now he won't do that every time he pitches, but he deserved better today. The offense sucked again Milton Bradley hit a bomb for his first ever Cubs hit and home run. Then the Cubs got lucky with a Koyie Hill 2-run homer. They had a 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the seventh despite some shaky defense and blown chances on offense.

That's when Lou Pinella took over and really blew this game. Aaron Heilman came in a walked a guy then recorded and out, Lou then brought in Neil Cotts to face the lefty, who he hit. Then Carlos Marmol had to come in early and bail out his teammates which he did. Top of the eighth Lou called on Aaron Miles to pinch hit for Marmol with runners on first and third with one out. Micah Hoffpauir is on the bench for that situation Lou not Miles. Miles sucks, I won't get into his even being on the team, but that situation wasn't the proper use of Miles. Of course he grounded into a Derrek Lee play (double play for those not aware of DPLee) and that threat was over. 

Sean Marshall started the bottom of the inning to face a lefty, who he quickly walked then Lou pulled him for Luis Vizcaino. Vizcaino got his two batter out and should have just been left in to get the final out, but Lou brought in Kevin Gregg who did get a strikeout to end the inning.

After a useless top of the ninth Gregg tried to finish the game, but it didn't work. He walked a batter, gave up a double to Rickie Weeks to tie the game and eventually Ryan Braun hit a weak grounder to SS that Ryan Theriot tried to throw home without success. Cubs lose, Theriot, Lou, and Gregg all are the goats of the day.

Marmol should be moved to closer pretty soon since Gregg has been awful in all three of his appearances so far this season. Two of them have resulted in weak walk off hits and the other he allowed a run on opening day. Theriot sucks at defense, which we all know, but he was especially awful yesterday. 

Hopefully Lou just had old man problems for one day, but he lost that game. If Micah Hoffpaiur is sitting on the bench and you need a pinch hitter there is never any reason for anyone else to be used. Especially in the eighth inning. Also don't parade out relief pitchers when they can get more than one out or face more than one batter. Just stupid managing yesterday, but its one game and Big Z is going today.

Big Z against Dave Bush tonight at 6:05. Again Bush is a righty so the standard Soriano, Fukudome, Lee, Bradley, Aramis, Fontenot, Theriot, Hill, Zambrano should be put out there. The nice thing about Z starts is that his bat is actually useful for hits instead of bunts. 

Friday, April 10, 2009

Another Rich Harden D-Day

Again Rich Harden's health shouldn't determine the Cubs winning the NL Central this season, but his health would give us a run at 95-100 wins. Today he makes his first start of the regular season, and after sucking pretty bad in New York and his previous ST start as well, I'm not optimistic. Then again I'm never optimistic since I thought Brian Moehler would ground the Cubs into frustration and instead he couldn't get out of the second inning.

I'm still convinced that Harden is hurt and I think today the Cubs will finally have to admit that if he has another poor start. A healthy Harden can't throw more than six innings, and that is usually pushing it. Now he did do pretty good against the Brewers last season and his strikeout ability matches up well with their willingness to strikeout. So if Harden is really healthy instead of throwing 85 MPH fastballs then he should be able to shut down the Brewers. If he is hurt then he will get blasted in the first three innings and we lose the game and put him on the DL to rot for a while.

Braden Looper starts for the Brewers today which should be good for the Cubs. Looper isn't a good pitcher and he no longer has the mysterious help of the Cardinals around him. Even with Geo out for a couple more days the Cubs lineup should be able to be patient and get some runs against Looper.

I would expect the standard Soriano, Fukudome, Lee, Bradley, A-Ram, Fontenot, Theriot, Hill, Harden lineup today since that worked Thursday and Geo isn't ready to play yet (thanks WBC).

I'll take the Cubs to win 7-4 if Harden is actually healthy, but if the Cubs are lying again and Harden is hurt they lose 10-7.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Not Looking Great for Sox So Far

The White Sox just finished losing the opening series of the year to the Royals. And while we have no clue how good the Royals are actually going to end up being this year, it's not good to get beat like this at home. The Sox were out-pitched and out-hit in the series. Three great pitching performances went pretty much wasted (Buehrle left the game trailing). And in a three game series the Sox came up with one big hit, luckily it won a game.

So on we look towards the next series, and surprisingly it doesn't look good, despite the fact that I don't think the Twins are very good. The way the pitching matchups worked out (because of off days) it will be 4 v 4, 5 v 1, and 1 v 2 (that's rotation order for each team, Sox listed first).

Game 1 is obviously a winnable game, but it comes at a bad time because of how poor the hitting has been. Hopefully they are able to break out of it quickly and get to R.A. Dickey quickly but it may take a few innings, and frankly I don't know what the Sox are going to get out of Contreras tomorrow. Winnable, but far from a sure thing.

Game 2 is Liriano against Colon. Similarly to Contreras there is no telling what kind of Colon will show up. I do know that the Mariners beat Liriano, but I also remember how good he was before his injury. He can easily shut the Sox down in this game. And with Colon going he may not even need to be that good. Odds are Sox don't win this game.

Game 3 is Buehrle and Blackburn. Pretty even matchup, it's hard to predict that far into the future because there's been 3 games and I'd be predicting 3 games in the future, doesn't seem right. Seems like a toss up at this point though.

So the way I see it it's going to be tough for the Sox to win even 2 games in this series, and my goal of winning 4 of 6 seems really tough to reach. But hey, the pitching has been good, and bats like Quentin, Ramirez, Pierzynski, and Konerko have to wake up at some point right? (I hope)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I Eat Crow for One Night: Cubs 11 Astros 6

Well this afternoon I ripped into Kosuke Fukudome and all his supporters for placing hope and trying to make it fact. Naturally Fukudome rips off a 4-5 night with a homer. Don't think that means Fukudome will all the sudden be awesome this year because he has done this before, but it was nice to have Fukudome help the offense tonight.

Everybody wanted the offense to step up today and they sure did. A four run first inning that was generated by singles and walks all over the place was followed by a Mike Fontenot 3-run homer in the second. Aramis hit two-run double in the fifth and Fukudome capped it off in the ninth. Overall everybody beside Ted and Milton got hits, but Milton drew three walks today and his approach at the plate continues to impress. He draws a 3-2 count almost every time and eventually his luck will turn around, probably this weekend.

Pitching wise there have been better starting efforts. Ted labored through five innings tonight giving up four homers. It was a classic April Ted start that I hope we don't see again. His control was good enough so that he didn't have men on base when those homers were flying, but Lou still looked peeved the whole time. David Patton came on and gave Hunter Pence a homer right away, but then he settled down and got the next six guys out. Marmol and Guzman both got through their innings with ease to end the game. No walks for the Cubs pitchers tonight which was an awesome thing to see.

Some Notes
After the homer I didn't like Patton, but after watching him work I think he has a future on this team. He just needs to keep throwing strikes and good things will happen. 

Angel Guzman same thing. Throw strikes and your stuff will give you success. Guzman has really encouraged me early and hopefully he can continue this success. 

Milton Bradley, like I said above is soooo close to breaking through with a hot streak. He walks a ton which is really good and he runs up some pitch counts. 

Derrek Lee got another RBI today, but he is still struggling at the plate and unlike Bradley I'm not seeing signs of success. 

Fukudome gets a break until his next bad game, and I refuse to get sucked into any early season hot streak. It happened last season and he fell off, this time around I will remember his fall off.

Finally Ted needs to be better this April and then continue that success into the other months instead of getting hot in the summer. That way he can have a 20 win season and challenge for the Cy Young.

Off day tomorrow and then Brewers this weekend, look for a series preview tomorrow.

White Sox 0 Royals 2

Not too good tonight. No late inning heroics, no clutch 2 out hits, barely any hits at all. Not the best day overall for the Sox to say the least.

However the pitching continues to be stellar so far. Gavin was great, Thornton fantastic, and Linebrink struck out all 3 batters he faced. However I don't feel I can give too much credit to the pitching yet because I still believe it's too early to actually pick on the hitting. I will say this, as good as the pitching has been that is as bad as the hitting has been. I'll leave it at that.

Disappointing game, lucky for us there is another one literally right around the corner. We are only about 15 hours away from the rubber match. Hopefully Johnny D is on his game tomorrow because we have seen some problems with Davies before. He is 2-1 against the Sox. Couple games with about 5 innings and 3 runs, 1 with 7 innings 3 runs. I'm not a doctor but it seems as though the Sox will be scoring 3 runs tomorrow. Hopefully young John can hold down the fort.

Lineup and One Last Thought

Twitter has informed me of that Soriano, Fukudome, Lee, Milton, Aramis, Fontenot, Theriot, Hill, Ted will be the lineup tonight.

If we can just be patient and wait for that one sinker that doesn't sink we can win this thing.

Time to Examine the Fukudome Myths

While getting into my daily online fight with fellow Cub fans, the subject of Kosuke Fukudome came up once again. I obviously think he is a waste of space and time and should be put on the bench to rot. Others think he is the lost hope and will magically get better this season because of various excuses that they have for him which really amount to a whole lot of hope without any actual reason.

Excuse number 1- He was adjusting to a new culture, new country, new everything
That's fine, except that while he got more used to those things over the course of the season, he actually got worse as a hitter. Remember his batting average went down each month of the season. So maybe instead of adjusting to life in the United States, he should have adjusted to major league breaking balls.

Excuse number 2- His core wasn't strong last year and he got tired from the long season
This is actually a valid excuse at first look, but don't be fooled. He got most of September off, starting only 9 games because of his not being good. I find it almost unfathomable that a baseball in any country wouldn't have known to do core workouts to play baseball, since that is the most important part of a players body in baseball. A few sit-ups in Japan won't make anybody a better player, all the stories at the start of last season were about how great of shape this guy was in and how hard he worked out. Now a year later I'm not going to buy any crap about him not being in good enough shape from the same writers who 10 months ago were praising the guy for how good of shape he was in. 

Excuse number 3- His translator was fired, he has a new one now
That doesn't even have anything to do with baseball, but its a popular explanation for his struggles. I of course blame his inability to hit a low inside slider, but you can say whatever you want. 

Excuse number 4- His defense is so good that we can live with his offense
Tell that to Lou who moved his ass out of the position where he is good at defense and put him on the bench at the end of last season for not hitting. 

Excuse number 5- There isn't a better option in center so we have to play him there
WRONG! Reed Johnson (known as Reed Mantle around these parts) did a fine job as part of a platoon last season and if needed he could take over full time as Lou Pinella has already hinted at. Johnson doesn't hit very much against rightys, but he has better numbers than Fukudome and Johnson doesn't misplay half the balls hit to him in center.

Excuse number 6- Evil Milton Bradley moved him out of his position of most value
This one is all on Fukudome. He couldn't be the left handed bat that the Cubs needed so they brought in another one who can hit. Blame your savior Fukudome lovers.

Seriously this guy has gone from one of my early 2008 favorites to nearly my least favorite player. People make excuses for him like he is their brother and no matter how much he sucks, they refuse to hate him. Keep hoping suckers, but I know that Lou will have him sitting on the bench very quickly if he doesn't hit. Lou isn't one to sit around and watch a wet noodle in his 135 million dollar machine he showed last season that he would replace crap hitting early in the season when he sent Felix Pie to the bench, and he will do it again despite the price tag if Fukudome doesn't start hitting.

Help Us Ted Lilly You're Our Only Hope

Tonight's series ending game against the Astros features Ted Lilly (also known as The Savior) going against another junk throwing sinkerballer Brian Moehler. The Cubs went 2-1 against him in 4 games last season, but they never really beat him up. That doesn't make me fell good about tonight because the Cubs love to get eaten up by sinkerball pitchers.

Ted wasn't very good last April and hopefully he will be more like the Ted we all know and love and less like the Ted who sucked last April. The Cubs will be missing super catcher Geovany Soto tonight with some shoulder soreness, he might miss Friday as well. That pretty much pencils Koyie Hill in the eight hole where he will receive protection from Ted Lilly.

Since Moehler is a righty we will get another dose of Fukudome in center, I'll guess he hits second tonight to keep the RLRL thing going. That means Theriot will probably hit seventh, Fontenot sixth and the fearsome threesome of Lee, Bradley, and Aramis go 3-4-5. 

Lee and Bradley have been the tale of two struggles so far. DLee had an RBI last night, but he still hasn't had good at bats. Bradley hasn't gotten a hit yet, but almost every at bat this season he has gone 3-2 which means his luck is going to change fast.

With Soriano apparently in one of his hot streaks here early on the Cubs should be able to get to Moehler for enough runs to win, but remember that Carlos Lee hasn't gotten us yet and Ted isn't good in April. I'll take the Astros to win 7-4.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Too stressful, too early

Cubs 2, Astros 3 (10 inn.)

To me it just felt weird that the Cubs played an extra-inning game this early. It takes me a week or so to get adjusted to baseball again, whether its judging balls off the bat or whatever else. Extra-inning games kind of fall into that category, you just don't expect them this early, and when they happen it seems somewhat unnatural. 

One extra-frame aside, tonight's loss really shouldn't bring anyone down that much. Ryan Dempster's performance tonight was extremely encouraging. Every start he made last year erased a little more of the giant doubt and skepticism I had in my mind about him. This hasn't completely gone away yet, and it wasn't just because of his walk-a-thon in the playoffs. My mind simply can not wrap around Ryan Dempster as a great starter yet, despite the 2.96 ERA in 2008.

Like I said before, tonight was the kind of start (in both senses of the word) that Dempster needed: 6 innings, 2 earned runs, and 5 strikeouts. For the better part of the game, he was attacking the strike zone. I think it is safe to say that Demp won't hit the 17-6 2.96 mark he did last year, but if he can be somewhere around 15-7 3.40, that would be great. Tonight was a solid step in that general direction. 

Another bright spot was Angel Guzman, who didn't give up a run and recorded two strikeouts in his lone inning of relief. For all the Juan Cruz's the Cubs have had over the years, the baseball gods owe Cub fans one these pitchers to pan out and contribute. Seeing as Guzman was supposed to be a stud starter, I don't think wanting him to be a solid middle relief guy is asking too much. He certainly has the pitches. 

One thing that I am a little concerned about is that in 19 innings this season, the Cubs haven't scored multiple runs in an inning. I imagine that will change tomorrow, but it is worth noting. 

Sox Opening Day Remarks

Ill start with the the number of things that I am happy about in this game. First off and most importantly SOX WIN. Great comeback in the late innings, and it was great to see the bullpen not only hold the deficit in place, but then Bobby comes in and nails it down.

I am also very happy with Thome's start. He was mashing the ball all day. If that continues the Sox will be incredibly dangerous through the middle of the lineup.

The next thing that I liked to see Getz used in a hit-and-run situation, and him being able to execute it to a tee (would have liked the ball on the ground, but we will take it).

Finally I was very happy with Getz and Fields on the defensive end. The play Fields made in the 5th with the bases loaded truely saved the game.

Now on to the things that I wasn't thrilled with. First off, we did not get a great Mark Buehrle. He was all over the srike zone and he was leaving a lot of pitches up. However to go 5 innings allowing just 2 runs without the good stuff is hopefully a sign of great things when he has his best stuff.

Next is getting runners in from 3rd with less than 2 outs. There were two key opportunities in the 2nd inning and then 1 more with Quentin in the 8th. Luckily Fields and Thome were there to save the day with some huge 2 out RBI. Can't rely on those to come through all year... guys on 3rd with less than 2 must score almost every time.

The next thing I was not thrilled about was the overall hitting performance by a number of guys in the lineup. Most importantly Carlos Quentin. Carlos had a number of pitches to hit today and he didn't make it happen. The most important situation for the Sox came in the 8th with Fields on 3rd with 1 out and Carlos at the plate. Last year this would have been a no brainer RBI and probably a big hit or even a HR, today, he struck out. Hopefully this is not something that will continue.

The other guys I was not thrilled with offensively were Wise, Pierzynski, and Alexei. All of them had some key AB's and were unable to come through. I'm not going to go crazy about this today because it's one game and it not a big deal at all because the Sox won. I trust Alexei and AJ to come around, but I'm a little concerned about Wise. He has got to get on base if this team wants to be successful. The top two hold the key to the Sox in 09. If Wise and Getz are hitting, the Sox lineup is a guantlet, those two at the top struggle suddenly it's not as hard to get through.

Cubs v. Astros (Game 2)

According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, this will be the Cubs lineup this evening in Houston:

1. LF Alfonso Soriano, R
2. SS Ryan Theriot, R
3. 1B Derrek Lee, R
4. RF Milton Bradley, S
5. 3B Aramis Ramirez, R
6. CF Reed Johnson, R
7. C Geovany Soto, R
8. 2B Mike Fontenot, L
9. P Ryan "Will Ferrell's understudy" Dempster, R

- As Justin predicted earlier, there are changes with a lefty on the mound in Wandy Rodriguez. I mentioned Rodriguez in my "hinge players" post as an extremely important player for the Astros success. Of all the non-Oswalt pitchers in the Houston rotation, he is the one most capable of putting up a good performance, let's just hope that doesn't happen tonight. 

- I would expect Aramis to build on his home run last night, as he always performs well in Minute Maid Park. He has 16 career home runs there, which is the most in a ballpark he hasn't called home (Wrigley, clearly, and PNC Park are the top two). The Crawford boxes really blend well with Aramis' power stroke, as we saw last night.

- Aramis will need to get some runs in tonight because (again as Justin said earlier) Carlos Lee certainly will not be held down like he was last night. In 90 career games against the Cubs he has hit .313-27-76. Probably most impressive is his .610 slugging percentage against the Cubs. Watch out Ryan Dempster.

Game in 40 minutes. Go Cubs.