Monday, August 31, 2009

Thome, Contreras Traded

Jim Thome has been traded to the Dodgers and Jose Contreras is on his way to Colorado. The Sox got a minor leaguer in exchange for each player.

These are two fantastic moves by Kenny Williams. To get both Thome and Contreras off the books for the rest of this year and to cement neither being a part of this team next year is fantastic. To get rid of Contreras is great in itself because we not longer have "no choice" but to start him because he is now gone. Also we do not have to worry about resigning him. Plus we got a player in return. I have no clue what the Rockies are thinking. Why in the world would you take this guy? He's been one of the worst pitchers in the league over the last month and just lost his spot in a rotation that has lost 7 of its last 8 games.

As for Thome, I wish him well. However for the Sox this is an awesome move. To get a player for a guy that shouldn't be playing everyday even on this horrible Sox team is a clear win. However I am really pulling for the Dodgers to win it all now. I have always liked Jim Thome and I think he deserves to win it all. I commend him for coming here thinking that we could help him get that ring, but it just doesn't seem like it's in the cards.

All in all, as terrible as this season has gone Kenny Williams has been absolutely brilliant. He has acquired 2 players that are signed long term that are both stars, while getting 2 aging vets off the books. Kenny also got rid of some concern about what would happen next year with some vets which seemingly can't be paid since the acquisitions of Peavy and Rios, while also grabbing two prospects in the meantime. Sure the 2009 White Sox coulnd't suck more than they do right now, but the future is continuing to look incredibly bright for the 2010 Sox.

Stop Believing: Cubs Lose to Astros

I said in the series preview this morning that the Cubs should sweep this series, especially if they win game 1. They didn't win game 1, and Roy Oswalt has a lot to do with that. When the Cubs lose to a bad pitcher like Justin Lehr or Nelson Figueroa that is bad offense. When Roy Oswalt does what he did tonight, that is just getting beat by one of the best in the game. 

Rich Harden was hardly on his game today, looking like the first half enigma that ran up a high pitch count with lots of walks and strikeouts. His inability to control the strikezone really cost him tonight, as did Carlos Lee. Harden finished with five innings pitched, five earned runs, six walks, and nine strikeouts. Awful.

Carlos Lee was up to his usual tricks against the Cubs driving in four runs including a two-run homer to deep left-center field. The Cubs shouldn't pitch to him ever. Miguel Tejada is a free swinger hitting behind Lee, take your shot at him rather than Lee. It might sound stupid, but this guy clearly has a thing at Wrigley, he deserves the Bonds treatment.

The Cubs offense was up to its usual tricks for most of the game. Ryan Theriot did get two hits which was nice to see, and Koyie Hill got another hit. Derrek Lee was the hitting "star" with a double (really a dropped flyball) and a homer off LaTroy Hawkins in the eighth. 

The rest of the offense fell victim to bad at bats (Milton Bradley, Fukudome, Jake Fox) and Michael Bourne (Aramis Ramirez). Seriously no other center fielder in the league catchers two of the balls Aramis hit tonight. 

This team just continues to disappoint. Really that is all there is to say about this right now. The next two days should be Cubs wins. If they aren't then something really bad happened. 

Aramis Ramirez Strange Home/Road Splits

As the Cubs get ready to go out on the road this week I want to examine one of the stranger statistical trends I've ever seen. See three years ago Aramis Ramirez forgot how to hit on the road. Looking at his career numbers there isn't much difference. Aramis has a career home OPS of .863 and an .831 road OPS. Not really that big a difference when it covers a 1400 game sample.

Every season of Aramis' career before 2007 Aramis either had better numbers on the road each season, with the exception of 2004 where he had a .900+ OPS both at home and the road. 

Starting in 2007 though Aramis stopped being as good a hitter on the road. It doesn't mean he was Aaron Miles like bad, or even replacement level bad, just not as good. In 2007 he had a 1.046 OPS at home. It fell a whopping .266 to .780 on the road. You can look at that and call it a one season wonder, but then it happened again in 2008. The OPS went from 1.040 at home to .752 on the road. It's happening in 2009 again too. His 1.066 OPS at home is brilliant, but his .812 just isn't quite as good. What the heck is going on here?

The first thing that stuck out to me was the difference in BABIP, his home BABIP in each year are .350, .340, and .414. On the road it drops to .279, .269, and .276. That could certainly be one cause, but over the course of the season he only has about a six or seven hit difference either way. That doesn't explain such a large difference. 

Perhaps Wrigley is just a really hitter friendly park and Aramis takes crazy advantage of that. The park factors (100 being neutral, anything over being batter friendly, lower means pitcher friendly) show that Wrigley is around 105. That ranks near the top for friendly home parks for hitters, so there could be something to that. Certainly that helps explain the collective team offensive woes on the road, but why is one player have such a disparity, and why is that disparity something that suddenly started in 2007? The park factors didn't drastically change in 2007, and there weren't any major structural changes that would change the wind (New Yankee Stadium, US Cellular removing rows). 

The 2005-6 bleacher reconstruction couldn't possibly be the reason. The wall dimensions remained the same across the whole field, and they added rows to the bleachers, but did that really make a difference to hitters or just ballhawks on the street. 

The arrival of Lou Pinella and a new hitting coach Gerald Perry is biggest change between 2006 and 2007 that I can think of. It was also the time of his new contract, and when his hustle was under scrutiny from Cubs fans. My non-statistical side would like to say that Ramirez is hustling harder in front of the home fans and trying harder. The statistical side of me says that makes no sense at all. If hitting a baseball was as simple as trying harder everybody would be great at it. 

Something strange is going on here, I can't explain it. Can anybody else?

Cubs-Astros Preview: The Last Chance

This is it Cubs fans, this series right here will tell you optimists all you need to know about this team. The false hope tour has already been a disaster with a 3-3 start, but a 3-0 finish might just salvage it. Of course this Cubs team is incapable of actually beating teams when they need to so it doesn't matter anyway. 

The Houston Astros come to town having just been swept in the airplane hangar formally known as Bank One Ballpark. They are 62-68 14 games out of first and four behind the Cubs in the NL Central. Here are the pitching matchups.

Monday- Rich Harden (8-7 3.99) vs. Roy Oswalt (7-5 3.86)
The best pitching duel of the series happens in the opening game. Oswalt's last start against the Cubs ended early when he left the game with some back pain. Oswalt will be making his fourth start against the Cubs this season, he is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA against the Cubs so far this season. There really isn't a mystery with Roy Oswalt, he is one of the best pitchers in the game when he is healthy.
Rich Harden is in a real nice stretch of pitching right now. This game is occurring at night, and the weather is cool. I fully expect to get the complete Rich Harden experience in this game. Six brilliant innings that include the standard home run in inning three, and another in the fifth. This game is a straight up pitchers duel, there won't be much scoring, and it will more or less come down to whose bullpen blows up first.

Tuesday- Randy Wells (9-7 3.06) vs. Brian Moehler (8-9 5.26)
Baseball is such a strange game. Last season Moehler shut down the Cubs on a few occasions and became my most feared Astro starter. This season the Cubs have pounded him, though he has been better on the road than at home. 
Randy wasn't very good last time out, the team site says he was having issues with his slider, I think he is suffering from having a ton of IP this season. Either way he has not allowed a run in 14 innings against the Astros this season, so hopefully that is the trend that wins out here. The Cubs should pound that Astros in this game and I fully expect them to.

Wednesday- Ted Lilly (9-8 3.35) vs. TBA
You never know what you might get from TBA. He might be a young stud with electric stuff or an old man who is on his last leg.
Ted is Ted. He's awesome. He was brilliant his last start against the Mets, but had to take the no-decision thanks to the Cubs late scoring offense. Ted pitching at home is usually money in the bank and without knowing who the Astros starter is I'll call this one a Cubs win. 

Hitters to watch
Lance Berkman- .276/.404/.507 18 HR 65 RBI
Berkman is one of the best hitters in the game and always a threat at the plate. Berkman is usually one of the top MVP candidates in the game, but the Astros down season and his injuries have prevented him from being the star he usually is. Not that a .911 OPS is something to be ashamed about.

Carlos Lee- .307/.353/.497 21 HR 81 RBI
No matter Lee's stats he is the number 1 threat to the Cubs in this and every series. Just like Adam Dunn hitting at least one homer is standard, Lee hitting at least one in a Wrigley series is too. He might get two or three. The hope here is that he always comes up with nobody on-base which would reduce the damage he can do.

Miguel Tejada- .303/.332/.433 10 HR 69 RBI
Tejada is a hit and swing machine. He doesn't like to take walks, but he can still rack up hits. I won't insult him too much since the Cubs might get him in free agency this season, but Tejada is very capable of getting himself out and likes to swing. The Cubs pitchers should be able to take advantage of that.

For the third series in a row I'll predict a sweep. If Harden wins game 1 it should be a sure thing. Even the most optimistic of fan sees this as the last hope, I see a sunk ship that is briefly resurfacing only to hit another iceberg in New York this weekend. 

Just get it done

Avoiding another, "the Cubs have played poorly but they are only x games out" post is at the top of my list of priorities. But I can't help but get my emotions sucked in a little because 5.5 games out of the wild card looks a lot better than the 7-8 range they were floating in for awhile. This team is mediocre, plain and simple. Serviceable offense at home, virtually none on the road pretty much defines the 2009 Cubs. However, mediocre teams do get into the playoffs and sometimes they win it all (2006 is a pretty good example of that).

The Cubs missed a golden opportunity by going 3-3 this past week. Had they even won today they would sit at 4.5 games of the wild card. Due to inexplicable losses to the Nationals and whiffing like crazy on pitches from marginal major league talents like Nelson Figueroa just support the idea that the Cubs will not make the playoffs.

Granted the 5.5 games they stand back right now is really a lot more being that they are behind 4 teams. This upcoming week, however, presents the same kind of opportunity the Cubs wasted this past week with the Braves and Marlins squaring off. I'm more scared of the Braves because of their pitching so the Marlins taking 2/3 would be good. Either way the Cubs have a chance to gain games on someone. Whether they hold up their end of the bargain is what counts, and with the way this season is gone that isn't very likely.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Soriano is on the brink of a hot streak. It would seem to make little to no sense considering how poorly he has played lately and the cortizone shot/injury situation, but that wacky law of nature that major leaguers reach their career averages is still there. I fully expect (and I'm a huge Soriano critc/cynic) him to somehow get to around 28-30 home runs this season. Sori destroys mediocre arms, and with Brian Moehler, TBA, and Carlos Torres (no disrespect to the Sox) going after Oswalt today, he should have his opportunities.

If the Cubs can 5 out of 7 this week, I would imagine they would sit at at least 4.5 if not 3.5 games back of the Wild Card this time next week. This is a tall task indeed, but with the starting rotation intact and the Astros and Mets on the schedule....COME ON!

Photo courtesy

Morning Cubs and Sox Links

Nothing quite as bad as having both teams in Chicago losing on a Sunday afternoon. You have to live with the loss for more than 24 hours. Both teams have a lot of issues to iron out, onto the links.

I'm trying a new format today, let me know if this is better or worse.

Cubs lose. Tribune. MLB. AP. Sox lose. Tribune. MLB. AP.

Big stories of the day. 

Hill to play more over Soto. More here. Soriano gets cortisone shot in knee

Peavy to be looked at on Monday. More here. and here. and here. Won't start vs. Cubs

Cubs get good injury news. Twins don't like Harden's price

Lou doesn't mind being the underdog. Sox look for miracle in Metrodome. Ozzie being Ozzie

Ozzie stands by what he said. Wary of callups. Sox won't miss dome

Dempster models new helmet. Familiar callups. Quick hits. Harden update. Sam Fuld story

Santo suffering with bad team. Ozzie says "F@#$ it". Rios struggling

Sox in Brief. Bo Jackson after sports. More dome talk

Cubs in Brief. Cubs-Sox meaningless. Z crap.  

Ricketts a hit with fans. Z nonsense

Sunday, August 30, 2009

On to Minnesota, Can It Get Worse?

It's hard to fathom this team do any worse this week than they have over the past week, but I honestly wouldn't be surprised if they do. With the next 3 games in the TwinkieDome and then 1 at Wrigley it seems as if the Sox season, if not over yet, will be over by Thursday. That is if history follows as it normally does meaning the Sox will suck in Minnesota and the Cubs/Sox series will even back up like it always does.

But that being said, it's hard to imagine this bad of baseball can continue for much longer. With a team with as much talent as the Sox have (both pitching and hitting) it's hard to believe that they will continue to play this poorly. Maybe the trends that we know will reverse. Maybe because we've played so poorly lately that we all we need is to play in a place where we are supposed to play poorly. We are normally good in New York, solid in Boston, and don't struggle against bottom feeders at home (Orioles). So maybe the normal sweep in Minnesota won't happen. and maybe that can turn around this season.

I know I'm stretching here, but I'm hanging on for dear life. The way I see it is that we need to find a way back into 2nd ASAP and then need to be within 3 by the 2nd week in September. So if we fail like normal against the Twins, the season will end. So I'm just trying to do anything to make myself think this thing isn't over yet. Even though by Thursday I'm sure I will be write back on this bog claiming we are done.

Now That is the Cubs I Know

Enough of the silly winning thing, the real 2009 Cubs are back. After two days of winning baseball games and looking like a good major league team, the Cubs scored one run against Nelson Figueroa. It was a sobering 4-1 loss that reminded all of us why the Cubs will not be participating in this year's playoffs.

The game started out promising enough when Big Z worked a quick 1-2-3 first and then Milton Bradley scored on a single from Aramis Ramirez. I thought that would be the start of a pretty easy Cubs win, little did I know that would be the only real threat the Cubs offense would give Figueroa the whole game. 

Meanwhile Big Z's first inning was just a mirage. He got hit around quite a bit in the third inning when the Mets took a 2-1 lead. They scored after getting two singles, a throwing error from Z, and then two more singles. Z's next and final inning would be the fourth where he gave up five straight singles that scored two runs before being removed from the game for Tom Gorzelanny

Give Gorzelanny and the rest of the Cubs bullpen credit because they came in and shut the Mets down. Gorzo worked 1 2/3 perfect innings before giving way to Sean Marshall who worked two innings of one-hit ball himself. John Grabow and Angel Guzman finished with an inning each both of which were perfect. Without question the bullpen gave the Cubs a great chance to win the game despite not getting a very good effort from their starter.

Big Z's struggles are a bit concerning, but I won't panic quite yet. Perhaps I need to write a post blasting Z (turned Derrek Lee's season around) or perhaps Z just needs to get back in the grind of pitching again. I'm giving it one more start before I start to get worried about Z.

I don't need to wait to panic about the offense. To be honest the Cubs lineup isn't any better than the Washington Nationals (it might be worse). Theriot needs to hit at the bottom of the lineup or needs to learn how to take walks again. We are basically back to having Soriano like at-bats in the leadoff spot. Theriot is striking out at a disturbing rate, something to watch for as the season goes on.

What happens at the bottom of the lineup is something I hope to not see next season. Mike Fontenot is a complete disaster (though his BABIP isn't the greatest) and Geovany Soto (also very unlucky) remains an overweight shell of the 2008 ROY. Soto is obviously still the future at catcher, but man is he bad this season. When Koyie Hill is a bigger threat at the plate you have issues. 

This team remains exactly what it was two days ago. Flawed, bad, and incapable of going on the winning streak needed to really get back into the wild card race. 

Time for Fans to Make a Hard Choice

For most of the season the Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano has been struggling at the plate. We've known for some time that Soriano has been playing with a bad knee, and it got bad enough this week that the Cubs made him get a MRI which revealed some inflammation but no structural damage. 

What it really did was offer us a really good reason why the Cubs highest paid position player has looked like a confused minor leaguer for most of the season. It also presents fans with an interesting dilemma when it comes to injured players. We all often criticize them when they don't play with injuries and call them soft, yet now that we have a guy toughing it out and playing everyday he gets knocked too. 

So what do we as fans want? Do we want players who get the big money deals to play through the pain even if they aren't able to play well, or would we rather them sit out when they don't think they can go?

Either way I think Soriano deserves some praise for gutting it out this season. He hasn't been very good at the plate for a number of stretches and that certainly has been one of the main reasons the Cubs haven't been as good as we thought. Still Soriano put pressure on himself to carry the team when Aramis went out. He didn't want to go on the DL with a seemingly mild knee problem when the team was already missing one star player.

It turned out the Soriano did need some DL time, and that is something the Cubs needed to take care of a long time ago. Some rest over the All-Star break got his knee feeling better and he was able to put together a .995 OPS in July because of that. Going on the DL in June probably fixes most of these problems. For whatever reason Cubs management didn't address this problem then, and it ballooned out of control.

Soriano will probably get a cortisone shot early this week and return to the lineup full time next weekend. Any chance the Cubs have of making the playoffs sits on that injured knee or Soriano. It would take a September 2007 like effort from Soriano (1.108 OPS) for the Cubs to even think about making it.

So next time a player tweaks a hamstring or strains an oblique, think about the ramifications of them playing hurt. We can't call players soft and then get mad at them for not playing well while they are inured.  

Blind Comparison 8/27 Reveal

The other day we presented you with two potential AL MVP candidates. Here they are stats with names.

Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera

Player A: 7 seasons 1003 games 1184 H .313/.384/.545/.929 202 HR 732 RBI 249 2B 142 OPS+

Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira
Player B: 7 seasons 1026 games 1126 H .289/.378/.542/.920 234 HR 771 RBI 234 2B 135 OPS+

So now that you know who is who, which guy would you rather have?

Morning Cubs and Sox Links

Another day and more mixed results in Chicago. The Cubs blast the Mets while the Sox get handed their most embarrassing loss of the season in New York. 

Cubs win. Tribune. MLB. AP.  Sox lose. Tribune. MLB. AP.

Soriano's MRI reveals inflammation. More here.

Bakers hurts finger. update. Waiver claim updates. More here

Cubs want a better start from Big Z. Soriano and Bradley on fans. 

BP update on Cubs. Aramis ready to work this offseason

Some nice Sun-Time articles. Here too. Also here. Broadcasters having fun

Beckham likes playing a lot. Thornton ready for stretch run

Ozzie rants. Freddy wants to start in 2010. Sox in brief. Sox breaking Ozzie's heart

Peavy's rehab stories. The news isn't the greatest. 

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Peavy Pulled Early

As if this day couldn't get any worse. Well it just did. Peavy was taken out after 67 pitches citing "elbow soreness" as the reason for exiting. He went 3.1 innings (same as Contreras) allowing 4 hits, striking out 4.

All signs point to this meaning he will need yet another rehab start. Which means we are yet another week away from not being as bad a team. So guess what, we have "no choice" but to put Jose back in there against the Cubs. Thank god that's a day game and the Blink concert is that night. Christ this season went south in a hurry.

False Hope Tour Begins

It appears that the Cubs are going to toy with a few people's emotions for the next few days. Today's 11-4 win over the Mets was the Cubs second win in as many days, and it appears that some may have found some hope. The offense looked real good against a real bad pitcher, and the bullpen was really good on a day where the Dumpster showed up.

The key hit in the game came in bottom of the fifth inning when Jake Fox came up with the bases loaded and two outs. The exact situation which has tortured the Cubs all season ended with Fox hitting his first career grand slam and turning a 4-4 tie into a 8-4 lead. Fox added to his outstanding day at the plate with a RBI triple late in the game.

Fox wasn't the only hitting star for the Cubs, Aramis Ramirez was a late addition to the lineup and it paid off big time as he added two RBI. The first came on a double in the third inning to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead and the second tied the game at four in the fifth. Milton Bradley had another outstanding game going 3-4 with a RBI double, two singles, a walk, and two runs scored.

It was the kind of offensive showing that we all envisioned when the season started. Constant pressure put on the opposing pitcher and big hits in clutch situations. The only Cub who didn't have a good game was Derrek Lee who went 0-4. Something tells me there won't be anybody upset at him for that.

Pitching wise Ryan Dempster didn't give a very good start. He allowed two runs in the first inning and two more right after the Cubs had taken a 3-2 lead. He was struggling with his command most of the day, and spent most innings pitching himself into and out of jams. Fortunately the offense was able to pick up the slack and Dempster had just enough  stuff to avoid serious problems.

The bullpen turned in two stellar innings from Aaron Heilman (probably his last Cub appearance) and a perfect ninth inning from Sean Marshall. 

I wouldn't be surprised if the Cubs gain more ground in the wild card standings tonight, but don't let that suck you in. This team has been great at home all season, and we all knew that they would beat up on some bad teams. Any progress made at Wrigley will be quickly undone as soon as we are back on the road. 

Still there is nothing wrong with enjoying a real fun win in front of a packed house. Tomorrow Big Z takes the mound to try and complete the sweep. 

There is a bit of bad news as Alfonso Soriano's MRI results could mean his season has to end. While that may make some Cubs fans happy, the fact that Soriano has been playing hurt means he won't be as big a disaster in the future as some think. 

Ozzie Must Be Chastised for This

Ozzie said, "we have no other choice" but to start Jose. So why play then? Why even go out there, why risk injury. If our only choice is to start Contreras, and therefore forfeit the game, why even play?

And even worse than that, why lie to the fans? Really, no other choice? There is not another pitcher in the organization, from Triple A to Single A? No one? False. I can name two people that could have pitched, Daniel Hudson and Carlos Torres. What about D.J. Carrasco? How about Wes Whisler, Jeffrey Marquez, Lucas Harrel, or John Van Benschoten? Want me to start naming Double A pitchers? None of these people can pitch? Not one? You are lying Ozzie.

And what is Jake Peavy doing today? Oh yeah, that's right, HE'S PITCHING. Why not let him start this game, basically as a rehab and then put Carrasco in after him? Is it that much more straining to pitch in the majors than it is to pitch in Triple A? No it is not. You still use the same motion, you still throw as hard as you normally would, the only thing that's different is that the game doesn't matter, so you can experiment. But that doesn't make a difference either. Because if we are going to pitch Contreras we are flat out saying, this game doesn't matter, we aren't going to win.

I'm sick and tired of the excuses from Ozzie on this subject. Usually I am fully on Ozzie's side, but this is absolute garbage. Think outside the box, don't just sit there and throw out a joke of a pitcher and watch your division deficit grow and grow and grow.

Oh, and Sergio Mitre is throwing a perfect game as I write this. God I can't take this team anymore.

Morning Cubs and Sox Links

Cubs get a rare win against the Mets. If there aren't Sox links on here I apologize that means I had a late night. 

Cubs win. Tribune. MLB. AP. Sox. Tribune. MLB. AP.

Soriano to have MRI on his knee. Prospect to DL

More Milton stuff. Even more. Koyie Hill's advice. Sullivan mailbag.

Chemisty at heart for Cubs. Lee wins award

Could Contreras start Saturday?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Frustration at the Tipping Point on the South Side

I'm starting to get really really angry with this team. But I refuse to give up until Peavy is on this ball club. But what I'm afraid of is that by the time he gets here in a week he will not be able to salvage this season.

They continue to fail in every situation they can. They are good enough to be in the game, they are good enough to win the game, they just don't do it. It's really starting to bother me. The 7th inning is a perfect example. Sox start out on fire, 3 hits gets 1 run in, so there are men on 2nd and 3rd with no outs. All we need is a flyout followed by another flyout. That's all. But no, soft line out, man thrown out at home, another man thrown out at home.

Time and time again they are in these games, are in the golden opportunity to win the game, and they come up short. Whether it's baserunning, lack of clutch hitting, bullpen mishaps, fielding blunders, and the list goes on, they always find a way. Its getting to a point that is unbelievable. It's hard to even fathom the fact that they keep finding ways to do it.

The Sox have not won a game in which they did not dominate it since August 19th. Of course they've only won twice since then, but it really kills me that every game that is contested, we do not win. If we aren't way ahead, we won't win.

I'm within seconds of exploding. And I have a pretty strong feeling that tomorrow is the day. I know we can do it, and I know if we can get there we can win in the playoffs, but we have to continue sitting here and watching them find ways to dig a hole. And they are getting darn close to digging a hole that we can't get out of.

How are they doing now? Sox edition

The Sox and Cubs both had a good amount of player turnover this past season off season. Though these posts may be better served after the season, I figured I'd put them together now. The following is a list of what players that left Chicago this past season are doing now.

Orlando Cabrera - Twins - .281/.314/.376, 5 HRs, 54 RBI - Cabrera signed a one-year deal in with the A's during the offseason. After the offense fueled by himself and other Oakland acquisitions Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi didn't take off, he was sent to the Twins at the deadline. Cabrera has a much worse UZR than last year (-15.2 v. 14) and his BB/K ratio is the lowest it has been in 8 years. When you factor in the clubhouse issues, it would appear the Sox didn't miss much not retaining him.

Joe Cred
e - Twins - .229/.293/.421, 15 HRs, 48 RBI - Crede has only played in 88 games this season, and it seems likely he won't even reach the 97 he played with the Sox in 2008. He hasn't played since last Friday due to back issues, shocking. When he has played his fielding numbers have been solid, but with how Beckham has played it is pretty clear not re-signing Crede was absolutely the right move. I'm sure his lack of productivity would be a lot more upsetting for the Twins if his salary was much higher than the $2.5 mil they are paying him. Fact of the matter is right now the ideal left side of the Twins infield is completely made up of White Sox scraps.

Nick Swisher - Yankees - .243/.366/.476, 21 HRs, 67 RB
I - For all the press Swisher has gotten this year (primarily on MLB Network I feel like), I really don't think he has been that great. His .366 OBP is decent, but it still doesn't reach the levels it did in Oakland. The 21 home runs are nice, but no doubt he has benefitted from that pathetic short porch in new Yankee Stadium. Would he have these numbers on another team? I don't think so. I would also imagine most Sox fans would rather have a healthy Quentin, Rios, or Dye playing over Swisher.

Juan Uribe - Giants - .267/.303/.440, 8 HRs, 30 RBI
- Jayson Nix has been a cheaper and just as effective utility man/backup infielder. Not much more to say about that.

Javier Vazquez - Braves - 11-9, 3.02 ERA, 102 SO, 1.05 WHIP, 9.82 K/BB - Vazquez is having his best season since 2003 when he was a member of the Montreal Expos. If he was putting up these numbers in the Sox rotation, they would probably be in first place. However, there is absolutely no guarantee he would, and I'm sure the change of scenery can account for a good amount of the improvement. As an outside observer, I thought Kenny made the right decision trading Vazquez, and with the young players he got in return the jury is still out on this deal.

Mike MacDougal - Nationals - 36.1 IP, 1.98 ERA, 14 saves v. 1 blown save
-Even though MacDougal was on the Sox until late April, that was early enough I felt he should be included on this list. The Nationals signed him on May 3 and has been pretty darn good as their closer. Would he have these numbers as a member of the Sox? I would highly doubt it.

Photos courtesy and

Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano beat Mets

The two most hated Chicago Cubs players carried the Cubs offense to a nice 5-2 win over the injured and hapless Mets. Milton Bradley scored two runs, and Alfonso Soriano hit the game winning three-run homer, which more than made up for some defensive miscues made by both.

Ted Lilly continued his Wrigley Field dominance with a 7 1/3 inning 2 ER performance. He should have gotten the win for his effort, but had to leave after having runners on first and third with just one out. Kevin Gregg came in and struck out Jeff Francoeur. Next Fernando Tatis "doubled" to left center on a ball that hit off Soriano's glove and landed at his feet. Fortunately for the Cubs Daniel Murphy tried to score from first on the play, and was thrown out at home to end the inning.  

Milton Bradley led off the top of the eighth with his second double of the game, and advanced to third on a deep fly from Derrek Lee that would have been a homer on some days. Aramis Ramirez proved why he is the Cubs best clutch hitter by getting the game tying RBI single. After Jeff Baker walked, Soriano came up with a chance to redeem himself. 380 feet of flyball later Soriano was forgiven and the Cubs had a 5-2 lead. It was Soriano's first homer in August, and will hopefully spark one of his patented hot streaks.

Carlos Marmol gave us all a scare to start the ninth inning when he walked Omir Santos. He was able to settle down after that getting a flyball from Corey Sullivan, then striking out Jeremy Reed and Gary Sheffield. It was Marmol's second save chance since being named closer and also his second solid inning as closer. The control issues are still there, but perhaps he is starting to figure them out as the closer. 

The whole country is subject to this Mets-Cubs debacle tomorrow, so hopefully we can get another win. The season might be over, but that doesn't mean wins can't be fun. 

Cubs-Mets Series Preview

Two teams that are having awful seasons meet for the first time in 2009. Both the Cubs and Mets entered the season with high expectations, and both are going to end the season as major disappointments. They haven't Met yet this season, and will play each other six times in a short time period. Here are the matchups.

Friday- Ted Lilly (9-8 3.40) vs. Pat Misch (0-1 4.09)
Ted Lilly tries to get this tenth win of the season against a bad lineup and a bad pitcher. Of course Ted has a bad lineup behind him too. Ted has been money at home this season going 6-1 with a 1.86 ERA. Since the team is just about out of it, I'm betting it's time to start a nice winning streak of false hope.
Misch is a mystery to me, though he appeared in Wrigley once for the Giants in 2007 and gave up three runs. He has been starting for the Mets AAA team most of the season, and while I wish him the best of luck after this start, let's hope he's more Jeff Samardzija than Randy Wells. 

Saturday- Ryan Dempster (7-7 4.07) vs. Bobby Parnell (3-6 5.08)
Ryan Dempster tries to build on his solid effort against the Dodgers last week. This last month of starts should be interesting to watch from Dempster as his stint on the DL probably has his arm nice and fresh for the stretch run of meaningless baseball. I see no reason for Dempster not to give a solid effort in front of the whole country.
Parnell continues the Mets mystery starter tour. He has had both good and bad starts this season for the Mets, hopefully this time he has a bad one. Ryan Theriot is the only Cub that has gotten a hit off Parnell, so we should put the pressure on him to have a big game. Parnell did have two relief appearances against the Cubs in September last year.  

Sunday- Carlos Zambrano (7-5 3.80) vs. Nelson Figueroa (1-3 5.40)
Big Z tries to rebound from his horrid return to the Cubs last time out. He's found the right lineup to abuse with his sinker. Again I expect big things from the Cubs starters this weekend, and Z has a lot of writers to shut up. Not to mention he should be trying to get his own trade value higher.
Figueroa isn't good. I say this knowing that he will dominate the Cubs because the Cubs are poor at offense. He features five pitches, but he said his success in his last start was because the Marlins hadn't seen him before. The Cubs have gotten to him before as he is 0-4 against us.

Batters to watch
This is where I list Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Jose Reyes, Johan Santana, Carlos Delgado, and John Maine. Wait they are all on the DL right now. Have to feel bad for the Mets fans the way this season has gone. Still they do have some potent bats in the lineup and here they are.

Angel Pagan CF- .290/.339/.493/.832 116 OPS+ 6 HR 26 RBI 11 SB
A former Cub outfielder Pagan is probably most known for his time on the DL and his part in Hawk Harrelson's greatest meltdown. He has filled in nicely for the Mets and is probably their best player right now. I was a bit sad to see him go after 2007, but I'm happy that he has found a place to play, and I'm sure he figures in the Mets future plans with his play this season.

Daniel Murphy 1B- .262/.317/.395/.712 86 OPS+ 7 HR 45 RBI
No Murphy isn't the greatest player on earth, and I'll bet he would be on the bench for a healthy Mets team, but he is what they have right now. Plus he is exactly the kind of player that beats the Cubs pretty good.

Luis Castillo 2B- .315/.406/.369/.776 107 OPS+ 1 HR 34 RBI 15 SB
Sort of the Mets fans whipping boy, Castillo has turned in a very good season for the Mets despite some early miscues. Plus he is a notorious Cub killer so I'll bet he has a five hit series with at least one homer and three or four stolen bases. 

This isn't a good Mets team, but the Cubs aren't a good team either. I'm serious when I say I expect this team to go on a run now that they are out of it. The starting pitching has come together and should have some rested arms. Again I'll say the Cubs should sweep this series, but knowing the Cubs they will be lucky to take two of three. 

Morning Cubs and Sox Links

These are a bit late this morning, blame the lack of Internet and my 8am class yesterday. The Cubs lost a series to Washington while the Sox salvaged a game from the Red Sox

Lets start out with a Bo Jackson update

Cubs lose. Tribune (no joke there isn't one, just Bradley talk). MLB. AP

Sox win. Tribune. MLB. AP

Lou says blame him for the season. I'll find somebody to blame Lou don't worry. 

Harden and Heilman claimed on waivers

Milton Bradley link dump. Here. Here. Here. Here. There may or may not be two stupid opinions on the Tribune site from two stupid writers, I don't know, I'm just saying.

Big Z jokes he wants to be traded. Three takes on Cubs. Roundup

Cubs want to make noise on field. Lou on chemistry

Cubs-Mets time. Preview. Similar things

Onto the Sox. Starting with Peavy updates. Here. Here. Here

Sox-Yankees preview. Buehrle rebound. More Buehrle. Another preview

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Harden/Heilman Claimed on Waivers

It was reported today that Rich Harden and Aaron Heilman have both been claimed on waivers by NL teams. Basically this means that the Cubs have until Monday to pull them back, let them go to the claiming team for free, or work out a trade.

Whoever put the claim in for Heilman should be thanked 1,000 times. Quite frankly he can't leave here quick enough, of course that is assuming Hendry lets him go. If he is able to get a warm body for Heilman that would be great, if not just let the bum go. 

Harden is a bit more complicated situation. It is believed that the Marlins are the team that claimed him. Letting him go for free isn't really an option, but there is a debate to be had about trading him. If the Cubs wanted to resign him after the season then I would say they should keep him. If they don't want to sign him and think the prospects they get from Florida would be better than the two draft picks he would command as a Type-A free agent, then hopefully a deal can be worked out.

I would rather keep Harden that way either we get the draft picks, or resign him. I hate to see Harden leave the team the way he is pitching right now, but it comes down to the question of value. If the players gotten in a trade are more promising then the ones that would be drafted next June it's hard to argue against making that deal. 

Cubs Just Don't Have It

There are some losses that break your heart because of the shock, some break your heart because of the lack of effort, and then there is a loss like today when you see a team that just doesn't have it. The 5-4 loss to the Washington Nationals not only meant the Cubs lost a home series to the worst team in baseball, but it serves as the final nail in the coffin for even the most optimistic Cub fan.

Randy Wells day was a disaster from the beginning, one could even call it a Dumpster-like start. He gave up a walk, double, homer, walk to start the game before ending the first down 3-0. He have up two more runs on the day- one the Adam Dunn homer we have all been waiting for, the other a Cristian Guzman ground out in the second inning. Wells mowed down the Nationals after that, but the damage had already been done. 

Watching him pitch today confirmed in my mind that he should have his season innings capped off pretty soon. He has a solid arm that is going to be needed next season and exposing him to too many innings is going to put him in serious injury range. Let him start maybe three or four more times, but spread them out giving him plenty of rest. Limit his pitch count in those games, and make sure he gets babied as much as possible. 

The offense was the upsetting thing yet again. Of course whenever I hear that a pitcher is a "strike-thrower" I know the Cubs are in for a long day anyway. The offense has a hard time hitting a pitcher if they can't work the count and take some walks. Ryan Theriot has been miserable in the leadoff spot recently, why Fukudome isn't hitting there makes no sense to me. Bradley is in a no-win situation at this point, and the bottom of the order is brutal. Why Mike Fontenot gets to start any game is the most questionable thing Lou has done.

Kudos to Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez today, they were the offense hitting a homer each and Ramirez drove in the fourth run with an eighth inning single. Those two are really solid 3-4 hitters, and with Fukudome-Bradley leading off the Cubs should have a potent top 4. The missing piece is really the fifth spot, Fukudome has had to bat there in Lou's mind, but the missing link is Geovany Soto. Soto playing up to his ability would be a great addition to this lineup, and would allow everybody to hit in their ideal spot.

The Mets come in town next, a series I can't fathom the Cubs not winning. There are going to be a lot of dark days ahead in September and a lot of days like today where the Cubs should win the game, but just don't. Given the expectations coming into the season it really is too bad. 

Blind Comparison 8/27

Today's blind comparison brings two AL MVP candidates under the microscope. Both these guys have spent time in both leagues, and both have gotten nice big contracts recently. Here they are.

Player A: 7 seasons 1003 games 1184 H .313/.384/.545/.929 202 HR 732 RBI 249 2B 142 OPS+
Player B: 7 seasons 1026 games 1126 H .289/.378/.542/.920 234 HR 771 RBI 234 2B 135 OPS+

So who would you rather have and who do you think each player is? Leave you guesses in the comment section. 

Morning Cubs and Sox Links

Cubs beat the Nationals thanks to Milton Bradley, while the Sox lose on a walk-off homer by David Ortiz. 

Milton Bradley. Tribune. MLB. AP.

Cubs could leave Mesa for Spring Training

Milton needs to tune it out. Dealing with adversity. Racist fans too. More on Milton

These links suck. I didn't want to link these, but I'm doing it against my better judgement. 

Some guys on the Cubs are good guys. Geo's tough season. Not giving up

Sox lose. Tribune. MLB. AP.

AJ most hated guy in baseball. Peavy not likely to start Saturday

Lack of urgency? Ozzie wants things to happen

Relievers want to step up. Dye's slide not related to Rios

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Milton Bradley beats Nationals

For all the things that have come out from Milton Bradley the past few days he deserves to be applauded by at least one Cubs fan. This is where you will get that Milton love. He hit a two-run homer tonight and added the go-ahead RBI fielders choice before the Cubs offense blew up in the eighth.

Rich Harden had a very bad start to the game, allowing the bases to be loaded before getting a single out. He was able to get out of that jam with only one run allowed. He settled down and was able to cruise through six innings allowing only one more run and striking out six. Angel Guzman and John Grabow were able to get the next six outs. Guzman was the winning pitcher and beneficiary of a rare Cubs offensive explosion.

Through seven innings it looked like the Cubs offense was going to disappoint again, with the exception of Milton Bradley, but it was just a waiting game tonight. After taking a 3-2 lead in the seventh, the Cubs put the game  to bed with a six run eighth. Koyie Hill capped a 3-3 night with a two-run double to give the Cubs a 5-2 lead. Derrek Lee drove two more in with a double of his own, and an Aramis Ramirez RBI single was the final blow to the Nationals.

Carlos Marmol did come in for the ninth, and I'd imagine the rain storm that started gave him some issues with his control. Still he loaded the bases before getting an out, managed to get two outs, and then a run scoring double. He was able to record the third out and seal the Cubs 9-4 win. 

During Koyie Hill's 20 something straight start streak he got a lot of crap here for his poor hitting, I stand by that criticism, but he is a nice backup catcher to have. Tonight's 3-3 effort was just another feather for Hill to put in his cap this season. He's thrown out baserunners and gotten the occasional big hit, something that can't be said for Geovany Soto. It seems to me that Hill has earned his spot on next seasons team as the backup, though I hope he doesn't have to split time with Soto like he has this year. Soto needs to have a comeback season in order for us to be successful in 2010.

Marmol didn't make any of us feel better about the closers spot, but I will hold off on writing him off because the weather was pretty bad when he was pitching. Angel Guzman did look stellar, and I have to wonder when he will become the main set-up guy rather than the seventh inning man. Grabow has sort of assumed the eighth inning role, which is fine because he's done a great job, so I guess I won't pine for Guzman to always pitch the eighth yet.

Good things tonight for the Cubs, always nice to get a win even if the season is over. 

The Sox Are Bad

The White Sox are not a good team. That is all I have to say tonight.

Things to look for in the last month

With the Cubs season more or less over we will be treated to six weeks of bad, meaningless baseball. That means that those of us who will still be watching every night need some things to cheer for while realizing that wins won't exactly be occurring very often. I've got five things I'll be cheering for this season.

1. Milton Bradley continued strong play
Milton has been the player we all wanted him to be so far this second half. His line of .291/.415/.436/.851 is pretty darn good, and right about what we should have expected out of Bradley. Hopefully Bradley continues to hit the ball and play good defense. He has been remarkably healthy this season and his batting eye doesn't really slump. 
Bradley having a great finish to the season is also probably needed so that Jim Hendry doesn't go something stupid by trading him this offseason. Fukudome-Bradley would be a great 1-2 in the batting order next season, and fan venom/stupid media members may prevent that from happening.

2. Randy Wells
I know last week I wrote the Cubs should think of shutting down Wells, and I stand by that, but if he continues to pitch I will be rooting for him to continue his brilliance. JA Happ probably has the ROY award wrapped up, but anything can happen in the last month of the season. If Wells can get three or four more wins and keep his ERA under 3 (a tall task I know) then he should be in prime position to win the award. If the Cubs shut him down, well then I know his arm will be rested a ready for next season.

3. A resolution to the second base issue
This means Jeff Baker being good at baseball the rest of the season. While I think the Mike Fontenot experience will go away after this season, Baker continuing to be good is important. Lou and Hendry must see that Fontenot, even in small doses, belongs in AAA. I also hope Baker can end the need for Aaron Miles.
If the Cubs want to platoon at second base, why not have Andres Blanco be Baker's partner? He won't produce offensively at all, but his defense at second and short combined with his ability to switch hit means he can take both Miles and Fontenot's spots. 

4. See what we have with Jake Fox and Sam Fuld
Give Soriano and Aramis plenty of time off, I would be in favor of shutting them both down completely, but I don't know that they would agree to this. The Dave Kaplan's of the world want to see Fox and Fuld play on a regular basis so show them what they would have. Odds are both fall off from what they've been doing, and if they do we get to end all the dump Soriano and Bradley for Fox and Fuld stuff. 
If they continue their hot play then the offseason options open up like crazy. Fuld and Fox might be attractive options in a trade, or can fill valuable backup spots for the Cubs.

5. Carlos Marmol the closer
The rest of the season will serve as the 2010 closer audition for Marmol. We've talked about his before, but it bears repeating. If Marmol can take care of the ninth inning the rest of this season, he will lock down the closer role.
If he can't show that he's the closer of the future, there are plenty of free agent closer options that can be looked at. Heck I wouldn't be against signing one of them anyway, but knowing exactly how Marmol responds as closer is important.  

Morning Cubs and Sox Links

Sox lose against the Red Sox. Cubs lose in Z's return to the Washington Nationals.

Toughest feat in baseball. 

Cubs lose. Tribune. MLB. AP.

Soriano scratched from lineup. Arizona Fall league players. For Sox too

Riggleman back at Wrigley. Quick hits. Awful. Need a good homestand.

It's sad and pathetic how Cubs fans have treated Milton Bradley

Sox lose. Tribune. MLB. AP.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sox Pull Off Most Pathetic Display of 2009 Season Yet

Very rarely am I so angry that I write a post literally seconds after the game. Usually I allow myself to settle down a little bit so that the post will not turn out 100% irrational. But for the second time this season (first was the Linebrink Cubs game) I cannot help but to spill my guts onto the blog. So here goes.

I can honestly say that this was the most frustrating game to lose on this season. Sure the Cubs loss was bad, and sure there have been some games that have really made me angry, but today I am genuinely pissed. The Red Sox handed the game to our Sox tonight and we didn't take it. In one of the more epic fails I can remember, the Sox could not get the ball out of the infield after the Red Sox basically gifting the Sox a man on third with no outs.

Dye steps up there and looked totally over matched. Then AJ stepped up to the plate with one thought in mind, "I'm not going to screw this up," which is the absolute wrong attitude. Because as we all know when you think it, you do it. He tried to over think the game and it killed him. then Rios looked like he was scared to get a hit. Pathetic.

But it's not only the top of the 8th inning that kills me. The bottom is just as bad. I can handle the fact that Linebrink gives up the home run. You have to accept that when he comes in. But what makes me the most angry is what happened after the winning homer. Linebrink curled up in a little ball and went into the figurative fetal position (he would have done it for real if that was acceptable). 2 more runs cross the plate and the Sox are buried before they ever get to step back up there.

I also take major issue with what happened in the 7th inning. First 2 guys get on, good. AJ bunts, good. Rios flys out allowing for a sacrifice, good. Cox hold Konerko with 2 outs at third, absolutely unacceptable. If you are going to give up an out to move a runner to third, you have to send him when the hitter does what you asked him to do. Why move him over if you are afraid to move him in. There is an obvious disconnect between the manager and the third base coach, and Ozzie better address later tonight.

So now the Sox are 0-2 in two games that were definitely winnable. Tonight more than last night, but nonetheless they are empty handed. 0-2, 9 games left, and 3 are already losses (Twinks). That means there are 6 winnable games left on the trip. We win them all we escape with our heads barely above the water. We win 5 or less, we've failed. See you later Sox, all you had to do was survive until Peavy came back, and guess what, you couldn't even do that. What an absolute joke. It's been fun, and I'm still going to watch, but mark down August 25th as the official date the White Sox died.

Z Gets Hit Around in Return

For all the pumping up of Z I've been doing the past day (I stick by it by the way) he was awful in his return tonight. He only lasted 4 1/3 innings and gave up eight runs (3 after he left, thanks a lot Aaron Heilman) and really didn't have his good stuff. He did hit a homer though, which accounted for the only meaningful Cubs offense the whole night. 

Not that it mattered given the poor pitching, but it was another struggle tonight from the Cubs bats virtually across the board. Zambrano got the homer, and Milton Bradley was able to get two hits, but the rest of the team did nothing. Ryan Theriot, Derek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and Kosuke Fukudome all struggled big time at the plate. Geovany Soto was his typical pathetic self (with his bi-weekly double snuck in), and Mike Fontenot was just as bad as he has been all season.

Really it was the story of the season in one night again. Complete failure in every single aspect of the game. It even included appearances from both Aarons. Heilman gave up a grand slam and Miles stuck out after a 3-0 count. Perfect. So much for home healing all wounds. 

The season is over, it has been for some time really, but this game just reinforces that fact even more. At least Milton Bradley had a decent game, though I'm sure he did something to offend somebody.

The concern for Soriano's knee might not be shared by most Cubs fans, but it is a major concern. If Soriano's knee really has been bothering him for the past four months then that explains much of what has gone on this season. I know playing hurt isn't considered a virtue when Soriano does it, but you have to give him credit for trying to help out the team even if it hasn't worked out.

Any results from Soriano's upcoming MRI will be put up here ASAP because it really could change the whole way we look at his season. I also had another Z defense lined up, but I think I'll save that for after one of his next start. Instead I'll either pick on Theriot or Soto or Fontenot. Plenty of guys to blame and quite frankly I don't feel like defending any Cub not named Milton Bradley right now.