Saturday, April 21, 2007

Strained Hamstring = Great Career Move

Let's face it, the depth chart Lou had to start off the year with just wasn't working. Soriano made an acceptable center fielder, but he wasn't that great. And he was floundering in the lead-off spot in the order. After 12 games with him in the lineup, we were a moderate 5-7 in the W-L column. So he did what every potential Cubs star does and injured himself. In this case, it was a strained hamstring.

Enter Felix Pie. Brought up to fill in for Soriano, in his first game he dazzled us with his defensive abilities. So what if his hitting has been lackluster at best; he has speed, a great arm, and he's a true CF and lead-off man. The hitting will come in time, he was a great hitter in all three of the minor league classes he played in.

Soriano is set to return on Monday. So the question on everyone's minds is, what happens to Pie? It appears that Lou might have the answer.

Manager Lou Piniella said putting Soriano in left would take some of the strain off the hamstring. Soriano, who signed an eight-year, $136 million contract in the offseason, said he was all for the move.

"We're going to put him in left field. We're going to leave him in left field, put him in left field," Piniella said Saturday before the game against the Cardinals. "It will be less running. It will be much better for him. ... He's OK with that, I talked to him about it. He understands."

If Soriano is nursing his hamstring in left, whoever will play center? I just wish we had some young prospect with a terrific arm and great offensive potential that plays center and can lead-off...

Please Lou, keep Felix Pie in the lineup. Put him at the lead-off spot, move Soriano to the cleanup spot where he belongs. Your logic before the season was that he had a great year last year at lead-off. Well that's working out really great so far isn't it?

Move the Murton/Floyd platoon over to right field, and get Hendry to trade Jacque Jones. Either get a pitcher for him, or get a prospect and call back up Angel Guzman. We need that 12th pitcher.

Just try it for a little while Lou, at least until Soriano is out of the danger zone.

Desired Lineup:
  1. Felix Pie - CF
  2. Matt Murton/Cliff Floyd - RF
  3. Derrek Lee - 1B
  4. Alfonso Soriano - LF
  5. Aramis Ramirez - 3B
  6. Michael Barrett - C
  7. Mark DeRosa - 2B
  8. Cesar Izturis - SS
  9. Pitcher (Preferably Hill, Lilly, or Marquis)

DeRosa, Barrett, and the Platoon are interchangable in the order. The rest should be permanent. Quit screwing with people's scorecards Lou.

I guess if I knew more than Lou I would be managing the Cubs, so maybe I should just shut up. Or maybe he got the job over me cause I'm not very skilled at throwing bases. I really hope it's the first one, cause if I know baseball better than our manager we have some serious problems.

EDIT: I forgot, Ryan Theriot can be mixed in at SS, 2B, or RF. Whoever needs a break. The Riot is as versatile as you can get.

Sweet, Sweet Revenge

Last year, in case you've been living under a rock, the Cardinals won the World Series. Jason Marquis was a part of this World Series team, part of why I was wary of him at the beginning of the season. You don't just let the enemy come and join your side. I would make a Harry Potter comparison here, but that would make me look like a loser. If you're a Harry Potter fan, you know what I'm getting at. If you're not, let's just say that Snape killed Dumbledore. Geezer had it coming.

What's different about Marquis, however, is that last year he was terrible. God-awful, you might say. After posting a regular season ERA of over 6.00 last year, the Cards wisely decided to not put him on their World Series roster. It must have been a wise choice, considering they won and all.

So today was Jason's day to prove them wrong for letting him go, to prove that last season was just a fluke, and to prove to us Cubs fans that he's the real deal. And the pitcher he was facing? Anthony Reyes, the man who took his spot on the roster for the NLCS and the WS. And as for the game? Let's just say revenge is a dish best served cold. I don't really know how that applies here, but Jason rocked the house. F--- you Cardinals (Jason's words, not mine).

Game Summary for April 21st, 2007

  • Score: Cubs whomp on the Cardinals, 6-0.
  • Player of the Game: Jason Marquis. Got his revenge and pitched a scoreless game through 7 innings. He now has a 1.88 ERA, lagging behind Wonderboy's 0.41 but in front off Lilly's 2.42. Did anyone expect numbers like that from those three?
  • Subject of Lou's Wrath: The duo that is Ramirez/Pie. Went a combined 0-for-8, everyone else in the starting lineup had a hit, including Jason Marquis.
  • Comments: Marquis continued the tradition lately of starting pitcher I expected to be bad tearing things up (see: Ted Lilly). Pitched 7 scoreless innings, and Will Ohman even came in and pitched two scoreless inning to finish it off. Who expected that? Barrett's three run shot in the first put this one away early, and Cedeno added a solo homer later on just to rub it in. Apparently Pie made some quality defensive plays (I didn't watch, can you tell?), but his offense is lacking. Looks like he has a shot of staying in the lineup though, more on that later.
  • Magic Number:150. The Astros are on a 5 game winning streak. Something is wrong with the world.

Tomorrow is the rubber game with Wade Miller pitching. I'm actually happy I'm going to be working during that, a man can only take so much depression before he snaps.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Things Do Not Look Good Thus Far

Today's depressing display of awful marked the 16th game for the Cubs this season. Seeing as this is a 162 game season, and it's hard to write a season in review post after 16.2 games, we're going to consider this the 1/10th of the way season review. Why review the Cubs progress 1/10th of the way through the season? Because I forgot to do one after two weeks, and doing a 1/9th season review is awkward. Actually, screw it. Doing 1/9th makes a lot more sense, considering it divides evenly. I'll write this in two days, it will give me a chance to review how we fully fell apart against the Cardinals. Until then, you can come up with your own ideas of why we suck.

There are some things you miss when you don't actually Watch the Game

After looking around the interwebs for a bit, I discovered there was something about the game that was lost in the simple recaps I had read earlier. It appears that Ronny Cedeno was called out at second because the home plate umpire sucks at calling balls and strikes. It's not that he's bad at deciding which is which, but he's terrible at making his decisions known.

The next question is, why is Cedeno running instead of Pie? You figure it would be the rookies that are supposed to make the rookie mistakes.

It's All in the Timing

I've figured out why the Cubs are consistently losing. Their timing is way off. I'm not talking about the timing of their swing or anything like that, but the timing of when they score runs. When we win, we tend to score far more runs than we need. When we lose, however, we're usually just a run or two short. We have our big run scoring days when the other team scores hardly anything, and when we only score a few runs they always manage to score a couple more.

The Cubs have not won any 1 or 2 run games. We have lost 3-5, 2-4, 5-6, 0-1, 3-4, 6-8, and now 1-2. That's seven of our ten losses that have been within two runs! So we're close to being great, we're just off with the timing. on days like last Saturday when the Reds score nothing, we don't need to get seven runs. Or when San Diego scored four on Monday, I think us scoring 12 runs might have been a little excessive. Any chance we could have saved any of those for the 14 inning game the next day? Share the love people.

Game Summary for April 20th, 2007

  • Score: Cubs lose to the Cards, 2-1.
  • Player of the Game: Aramis Ramirez. Went 2-for-4 today with the lone RBI for the Cubs, and has a hit in all 12 games he has started.
  • Subject of Lou's Wrath: Henry Blanco, as much as it pains me to say it. Popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt with runners on first and second and no outs, and the play would have been a triple play except Lou had to argue that Blanco should have been out on interference cause he ran into the catcher. The umpires succumbed to Lou's anger, and the next two batters proceeded to strike out.
  • Comments: Ted Lilly continued the pattern of all of our starting pitchers being good except for Miller and Big Z. His only mistake was giving up a Preston Wilson home run in the seventh after walking Jim Edmonds. The Cubs just couldn't get any production today, probably because Felix Pie wasn't in the game. What are you doing Lou? You don't bench the prodigy, are you nuts? He better be back tomorrow.
  • Magic Number: Still 151. Sitting at the bottom of the division, all alone. I would cry if I wasn't so used to this.

Jason Marquis pitches tomorrow and tries to show the Cardinals what they're missing. They sure didn't miss him last year in the World Series. We need Pie back, and if Derrek Lee could just get a home run for once we should be alright.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Solution to All Our Problems

Rich Hill pitched another incredible game today. I'm being completely serious when I say that I expect him to be a strong competitor for the Cy Young award. Sure he scared us all a little bit with that awkward stumble off of the mound, but I'm impressed that he was able to overcome that embarrassment and finish the inning strong. We just need to find four more kids like him and the World Series will be a breeze.

Game Summary for April 19th, 2007

  • Score: Cubs dispose of the Braves, 3-0.
  • Player of the Game: Rich Hill. Was lights-out yet again, and he hasn't had a major gaffe yet. Currently leading the league with a 0.41 ERA and a 3-0 record.
  • Subject of Lou's Wrath: Nobody. This was a stress-free game, the only pitchers we had in there both performed very well. Some hitters had poor games, but nothing worth getting angry about.
  • Comments: Rich Hill pitched a beautiful game, holding the Braves scoreless in 8 inning. Ryan Dempster picked up his 3rd save of the year, and he surprisingly hasn't given up a run yet. The Cubs scored on two solo home runs, one by Barrett and one by Ramirez, and an RBI double by Mark DeRosa. Not too bad, but it would be nice to see us string some more hits together.
  • Magic Number: 151. We're currently tied with St. Louis for the last position in the Central, with the Cards being in the midst of a 4 game skid. Probably not how anyone thought the season would start off.

Tomorrow we start a three game series against the Cardinals at Wrigley in a fight for the worst record in the Central Division. Lilly pitches tomorrow against Braden Looper for the Cards. Both pitchers have a 2.37 ERA, so this might turn out to be a tough one. I just hope the Cubs can win a series for once and instill some confidence back it the fans that are tired of the same old stuff. I just don't know if we can win any games without Rich Hill.

Another DeRosa-Bonds HR Update

After MarkyMark's blast in the first last night, Barry responded. Buckle up folks, we're knotted at 4.

Go Cubs.


Our Bullpen Needs a Nap

That's right, it turns out that the latest tendency the Cubs have of blowing games when the bullpen comes in to pitch is because they're overworked. Lou mentions the painful 14 inning game we all just had to endure, when he used all six of his bullpen pitchers. He then mentions that Ohman will get his stuff together eventually, which is a boldfaced lie. However, this is my favorite line:

Prior to Wednesday's game, Piniella stated that only Eyre, who used two pitches to get the final out in the ninth, was really rested.

Apparently being rested does not equate to pitching well as Eyre decided to follow up his first two easy outs with a walk, a single, another walk, and then two more singles. The Cubs had the lead for about 5 minutes when Eyre fell apart. I don't care how rested he was, Lou should have taken him out after the second walk. Even Dusty would have seen that coming.

Game Summary for April 18th, 2007

  • Score: Cubs lose to the Braves, 8-6.
  • Player of the Game: Mark DeRosa. The man is a machine. Another home run, two more RBIs, he's on pace to hit about 40 of them. Would have been Pie, but no one has won it twice in a row yet, and I'm trying not to overhype the kid too much.
  • Subject of Lou's Wrath: Scott Eyre. Was handed the lead on a silver platter, proceeded to vomit on said platter. Bad table manners Scott.
  • Comments: Zambrano was bad in the first inning, but it's April so we expect that. What's important here is that the offense actually fought back to take the lead, and the bullpen couldn't hold it. Again. Pie scored two runs and is still the most exciting thing about this team.
  • Magic Number: 152. Slowly dropping, but no fast enough. Remember, this needs to get to zero by the end of the season. A few weeks before would be nice too.

Rich Hill pitches tomorrow, so you can put away the Prozac. He's facing off against Mark Redman, who is 0-2 with a 12.96 ERA. If we can't finish the job here, an intervention is in order.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

An Open Letter to the Chicago Cubs

Dear Cubs,

If you're going to lose anyways, please don't drag it out for 4 hours and 15 minutes.

Also, play Felix Pie more. Get rid of Jacque Jones if you have to. In fact, do that either way.

And never put in Will Ohman with the game on the line. Call Angel Guzman back up from the minors as quickly as possible and send Ohman down. He needs the extra work, he'll thank you for it later.



Game Summary for April 17th, 2007
  • Score: Cubs lose to the Padres, 4-3, in 14 agonizing innings.
  • Player of the Game: Felix Pie. Has already thrown out more players at the plate than the rest of the team combined.
  • Subject of Lou's Wrath: Himself. I think he gave up on this game when he put Ohman in to blow the lead, and put Jason Marquis in as a pinch runner, meaning if we somehow managed to tie it Marquis would be playing first. Shame on you Lou.
  • Comments: All that matters in this game is Felix Pie, the rest is an afterthought. I'll write more on him later, but all you need to know now is that Soriano will be out for about a week, so the kid has plenty of time to convince Jim Hendry and Lou that Jacque Jones is a waste of time.
  • Magic Number: 153. The Cubs sit alone at the bottom of the standings in the Central Division. A sad day indeed.

Cubbies say the darndest things

I was perusing the ESPN page for the Cubs today and came across this blurb under the team notes area. The reporters were discussing the switch of Murton to right field, and then this transpired:

Asked if he needs a stronger arm in right, Piniella paused for about 15 seconds and said, "You guys ask tough questions. Ten, 11 games into the season, why can't you all throw a softball right down the middle?" He laughed, but never answered the question.

Sounds like the skipper isn't very confident with the Frenchman's throwing abilities.

The Cubs are facing Greg Maddux this afternoon, which should be interesting to watch. Michael Barrett served up this quote when asked about encountering the legend today:

"I'm going to try to hit a line drive off his head..."

Barrett then tried to cover himself by claiming he was joking, but I'm not so sure about that.

Cubs vs. Padres at 1:20 today, our worst against their classiest. May God have mercy on our souls.

Monday, April 16, 2007

BP (April 17th, 2007)

  • With Soriano questionable for the next few days, the lineup is once again in question (isn't it always?). This writer thinks that if Alf needs more than a few days, its time to give Felix Pie (who's hitting in the upper .400s down in the minors) a shot at center.
  • Speaking of injuries, all signs point to Aramis coming back to start at third tomorrow. But with the way "The riot" and DeRosa worked out today, I think Lou might want to consider giving him one more day off.
  • And on that note, MarkyMark has evened the DeRosa-Bonds HR race at 3. Booyah.
  • Finally, props to the seagull that tried to hit Marquis with a pizza crust during the first inning of tonight's game. You got a heck of a lot closer than I've been able to so far. (Jeeze Jason, even the freaking birds hate you -- I mean, thanks for not screwing up tonight.)

Bittersweet Victory

That game was incredible. It was cold, and I was tired, but we got to see some great baseball on the offensive and pitching side. And when Lou came out to discuss that fly ball that Soriano trapped, the crowd went nuts. I've never been so excited to see a manager. It's just too bad he kept his cool.

The reason the game was bittersweet was that Soriano strained his hamstring on that very play. The Cubs have him listed as day-to-day, but that could mean anything. Prior and Wood have been listed day-to-day for a combined 6 years or so.

The ump could have at least called it a catch out of pity.

The lineup today was strange to say the least. Murton and Jacque Jones were flipped in the outfield, with Murton playing right and Jones playing left. Theriot was at 2nd base and DeRosa was at 3rd, with Aramis still out with tendinitis. Murton was batting cleanup for some inconceivable reason, and though he did hit fairly well I still can't figure out why Lou put him where the home run hitters go.

When Soriano went out with the injury, Floyd came in to play left field, shifting Jones over to center and further confusing everyone in the stadium. I'm not sure if all this changing around was the cause of it, but there were a couple near collisions out there. Soriano and Jones hit gloves once as Soriano made the catch somehow. Not a big confidence booster with regards to fielding.

There was hitting aplenty though as the Cubs ran up the scoreboard to a 12-1 lead. DeRosa, Barrett, and Floyd all had home runs spread out over the 5th and 6th innings. Murton legged out a ground ball and beat the DP throw in one inning, allowing Floyd to score. Jason Marquis even had two hits to help himself.

Some other random notes from the game:

  • It was cold. I'm starting to think that baseball in Chicago in April is a bad idea.
  • I was sitting behind someone who I thought must be the most white trash Cubs fan at Wrigley. The he opened his mouth and I learned that he thought Juan Pierre sucked last year, he can't stand Ronnie Woo-Woo, and he's from the south side. And then I knew that my suspicions were true.
  • I high fived Ronnie Woo-Woo again. Always fun to do. Later I saw him go for a high five while walking past some girl and she just kept walking like she had no idea who he was. Stupid Trixies.
  • There's a lot of things you can yell at a Padres outfielder, but my favorite is: "Hey! You throw like Jacque Jones!"
Alright enough with the jibber-jabber. Here's your game summary.

Game Summary for April 16th, 2007
  • Score: Cubs dominate the Padres, 12-4.
  • Player of the Game: Cliff Floyd. Went 2-for-3 with 4 RBIs and a 3 run blast to right field. Would have given this to Jason Marquis, but with the run production we had today his performance was really just an afterthought.
  • Subject of Lou's Wrath: Hamstrings. Who said they were allowed to go and get strained? Also Will Ohman, because when you give up a 3-run homer with 2 outs in the 9th it's always bad, even when we're up by 11.
  • Comments: Great pitching, great hitting, great game. If it wasn't for the Soriano injury it would have been nearly perfect. And I'm still trying to figure out what Lou was doing when he chose the lineup and positions for today. Whatever it was, it worked.
  • Magic Number: 153. Milwaukee sits alone atop the division, but they will fall soon enough.
Wade Miller faces off against Greg Maddux tomorrow. Excuse me while I go cry now and get it out of the way ahead of time.

Goin to the Game

In a spur of the moment decision, I'm going to the Cubs game tonight. Bleacher seats are $16 if you get the college discount. And at that price, why wouldn't you go?

If you're not in college, just call the ticket office and tell them you go to Northwestern, they'll give you the promotion code over the phone.

Hint: It's the school mascot. In all caps. Plural. If you can't figure that out, you don't deserve the cheap seats.

I just wish we had someone better than Marquis pitching. Someone like Rich Hill. Or half of the pitchers in baseball.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

BP (April 16th, 2007)

Just a few things on my mind:
  • You know it's sad when the opposing team is walking pinch-hitters to get to your $100+ million dollar man (*cough* Soriano *cough*)
  • In Alfonso's defense he is 3 for 3 in something this year; getting picked off if he somehow reaches base. Yikes.
  • How cool is it that are best player on the team right now is named"the riot"?
  • Congrats to Big Z, you now have more home runs than Lee, Barrett, and Soriano combined.
  • On that note: Barry has stolen the lead in the annual DeRosa-Bonds Rivalry. MarkyMark 2, Bonds 3. Keep the faith.

Today is Opposite Day

My preseason predictions went like so: our offense will be amazing with the high-powered group of Soriano, Lee, Ramirez, Jones, and Barrett, and our pitching will be disappointing considering how much we paid for it.

Forget everything I said before the season started. It was all a pack of lies.

Ted Lilly pitched a great game today, only giving up one run and two hits in six innings. My first question is, why did he only pitch six innings? I mean I understand that Lou is trying to be the opposite of Dusty Baker, but that seems a little extreme.

Our offense, on the other hand, looked horrible. The only bright spot was Ryan Theriot who went 3-for-4 while filling in for Aramis while he's fulfilling his obligatory stint on the bench with an injury. This time, it's tendinitis. The only other Cub to get a hit was Soriano, with a double. In the 6th inning Soriano led off with that double, and then Theriot got a single, advancing the speedy Soriano all the way to 3rd base. Lohse then managed to strike out Jock Jones, DLee, and he made Barrett fly out to end the inning. If we can't get a run with men on first and third with not outs, then there is no hope for our offense.

Game Summary for April 15th, 2007
  • Score: Cubs lose to the Reds, 1-0.
  • Player of the Game: Ted Lilly. Great pitching, not sure why Lou pulled him so early but the bullpen held up very well. Too bad he had zero run support.
  • Subject of Lou's Wrath: Batters number 3-8 in the order. None of them had a hit. Neither did Lilly in the 9 spot, but he's a pitcher, that's not his job. Everyone else is paid to get hits, and I give them all an F on their performance reviews.
  • Comments: Lilly pitched extremely well, the offense didn't produce. Lather, rinse, repeat.
  • Magic Number: 154. Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Cincy all have 5 losses. The Cubs don't even have 5 wins yet.

Living Here is Gonna Be So Awesome in 9 Years

Ok so I know I'm a little slow on the draw here, considering they announced this at 3 PM Central Time, but Chicago was chosen by the USOC as the American city that will make a bid for the 2016 Olympics. This means that if I'm still living in the area in 9 years, I'm gonna go to the Olympics! That's pretty awesome to think about. Or at least I'll be able to walk through downtown and pass a ton of foreign people wearing athletic garb. That will be pretty cool too.

As mentioned in the article, if Chicago pulls off this bid we could be having Olympic baseball and softball at the Friendly Confines. Also mentioned is that those sports were decided to be eliminated starting with the 2012 Olympics, because London doesn't have a place to play baseball. Well I say screw London. If I don't get to see some Olympic baseball at Wrigley, I'm going to have to write a strongly worded letter to Mayor Daley voicing my disappointment. And then I'll have to vote 8 times in the next election to prove how upset I am.