One of the biggest things that stood out to me during that game wasn’t the pitching. It was so strange seeing Wrigley Field half empty. I forgot what it was like seeing Wrigley Field empty. We’ve become spoiled lately with Teams that are capable of competing and big payrolls. All the ‘Cub’ fans who are booing now need to look back on those miserable years in the 90s and pretty much all of the 80s. Don’t get me wrong I love winning as much as everyone else, but I want to keep things in perspective. I’m happy if the Cubs make a good run for the playoffs and have a winning record (maybe I’m part of the problem). A lot of people wonder how I can still consider Sammy Sosa one of my favorite players. One of the reasons is he was the only reason to watch the Cubs for a lot of years. But I digress… If anyone hasn’t had a chance to re watch that masterpiece of game, I encourage you to watch on MLB network, MLB tv or whatever means you have. It made me remember why I watch baseball.
After over a year of hiatus, Cubbyman is back with the 2010 Cubs season.
I had a pretty emotional and lengthy absence here. I had to go away to attend a funeral for my grandfather. He was truly a great man will be missed. Unfortunately, I’ve spent the last day or so packing and catching up on missed Cubs stuff. I’m not fully caught up but there are a few things I can touch on before I get back to business as usual.
– Matt Murton and Rocky Cherry have returned to the 25 man roster replacing Billy Petrick and Jake Fox. I really can’t see anything wrong with this move. Matt Murton has been hitting the ball well and Cherry and Petrick at this point offer about the same value. Jake Fox was never going to be up long. He was rewarded for a great season and I imagine we will see him up again in September. I also see Murton’s call-up as a showcase. It is pretty obvious he does not fit into Lou Piniella’s plan. If Murton can show some of last year’s form he may still have some trade value. If not he’ll be a fine 4th outfielder when Jacque Jones is traded.
– Speaking of trades, I don’t expect the cubs to make any major moves today. Felix Pie will NOT be traded. Trading him with center-field wide open makes no sense. It is likely some minor deals involving Jones, Cedeno, or minor league Starters will be made. With the impending sale of the team, the Cubs cannot take on much payroll. Don’t be surprised if nothing happens.
– Kerry Wood has one final test before he is called up. He has come along way and is still throwing hard. He will be pitching in AA in the next day or two. If he pitches well and has no abnormal pain, he will be called up this week. I can’t even explain how huge of a lift that would be to have Wood in the bullpen.
– For those who are looking for a Mark Prior update. There really isn’t one. He underwent surgery this spring and he will not be able to pitch this year. According to the Mailbag for the Cubs is in San Diego. I honesty, would be surprised to see him pitching even early next year. If he does, it’ll likely be with another team. There is only so much money you can invest in someone who is not playing. I think the Cubs have reached that point. I still can’t believe he asked for raise in the off-season.
– The Cubs were rumored to be the leaders in the Gagne sweepstakes be he has been traded to the Red Sox. The still seem to be interesting in Jermaine Dye from the White Sox and Carlos Silva from the Twins. Dye would further that log jam in right field but would be an upgrade. He could put up some serious numbers at Wrigley. Carlos Silva is an average starter at best. He pitches to contact and puts up average numbers. Moving to the NL central could help his value a bit, but with the surplus of starters the Cubs have, I really can’t see the deal happening unless it is part of a bigger deal.
It seems like 20 years since the last time I posted. I’ve been very busy lately trying to sort out my move and as well as a get a job. I recently have had a death in the family which has reduced my desire to write recently. But Good news, I’m back writing today. Unfortunately, I’m time limited so It won’t be a long post. Here is a few quick notes…
– Despite losing two of three from the Diamondbacks the Cubs are still in really good shape. They are sitting only 3 games out of the NL central and only 1.5 games off the wild card.
– Derrek Lee’s suspension is over and the lineup should be back to normal. We saw last year how much this team needs Lee’s bat in the lineup, not to mention his defense.
– Carlos Zambrano is going for his league leading 13th win of the year. This is fantastic.. After really struggling early, Zambrano turned his year around and is once again one of the best in the business. The Cubs need a big day from him today to get back on track. We are so close to first place we can almost smell it.
– The Cubs recalled Ronny Cedeno from AAA Iowa today. As most of you know Ronny has been destroying the ball all year in AAA since he was sent down (.360/424/.553). You may remember Cedeno had made the team out of spring training on the bench. He was later sent down because he wasn’t being used essentially. I’m sure Ronny will be given a lot of playing time initially. If he plays well there is a good chance he could take over the short stop position for the stretch. On that note, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a showcase move to shop Cedeno around. Scott Moore, was sent down to Iowa to make room on the roster. Moore had one start in place of the suspended Derrek Lee.
– Kerry Wood appeared in his 3rd game and reported was throwing 95. It is Kerry Wood so I’m not getting too excited..BUT… Kerry Wood has not talked about feeling good in a long time. He seems to really believe he’s better. With all of his injuries to his shoulder and all the rehab he has done over the last few years, no one knows his shoulder better than Wood. The fact that he is throwing 95 again tells me a lot. He’s not afraid to let loose out there, and that is a great sign for the Cubs. See you in August Wood!
Has anyone else felt a little let down that Mr. Bonds has not started any of the games in Chicago? I imagine, Bonds won’t be playing in most away games coming up. I think he wants to hit the record at home. I really think Bonds is blowing his chance to make peace with the public. Chicago is one of the biggest markets in baseball, the 3rd largest city in the United States. If Bonds plays a few games, smiles a few times and maybe conducts an interview or two, it might make a difference. I know he is booed pretty much everywhere he goes, but people like to boo. People want to see Bonds play, people want to see him hit his historic homeruns. When Bonds is at the plate, all eyes are focused on the at bat and the flashbulbs of cameras are going off everywhere. There is an anxiety that if one blinks they will miss something they will always regret. That excitement is good for baseball, and if Bonds was smart it could be good for him as well.
Enough of that babbling. Derrek Lee has elected to serve his suspension over the next 5 days. He fouled a ball off his ankle and was in some discomfort. He has decided just to serve the suspension now and let the injury heal. This really isn’t a bad time for the Cubs. The Cubs will be playing all out of division games and Lee will be back just in time for the important St. Louis series.
In other news, the Cubs traded Cesar Izturis and cash to the Pittsburg Pirates for a player to named later. Izturis was deemed expendable after the strong play from Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot. Jake Fox was called up to take the roster spot. Fox is a catcher who can also play the outfield. Fox has been tearing the cover off the ball in AA and had a great spring with the Cubs. So far in AA, his slash stats are as follows: .284/.327/504. It appears he is not the most patient hitter but he will add some power off the bench and will likely get a spot start or two behind the plate. If Fox gets off to a hot start I expect Koyie Hill to be dropped.
I mentioned the Kendall trade earlier. Unfortunately, I have not had time to fully breakdown the deal. So here goes… I like this deal for the Cubs. Kendall really struggled in April and May. He turned it around and started hitting close to his career marks in June. Kendall will never be the player he once was but he still should do a pretty good job behind the plate. By all accounts he his a great club house guy and plays decent defense behind the plate. The Cubs didn’t really give up much for him. They traded Rob Bowen (a career .230 something hitter in the minors) and a Lefty prospect who is too old for the league he is playing in. The Pirates and the As will be paying the majority of Kendall’s salary. If he continues to struggle he is a free agent after this year and there is no real damage done. If the trade inspires Kendall and he plays well it could be one of the steals of the year.
In other News, Kerry Wood threw another inning for the Class A rookie league team in Mesa. His numbers for the game were not nearly as impressive but Wood says he felt better than the game before. He said he was locating his fastball and his shoulder felt good. Before I get too excited, I should point out we have heard this before. However, I can’t help feel excited with the prospect of both Wood and Marmol in the bullpen.
Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry announced the cubs have picked up catcher Jason Kendall from the Billy Beane and As, for a Rob Bowen and minor league LHP Jerry Blevins. I’ll post a breakdown of this trade tomorrow afternoon.
The Cubs opened the second half of the season with a bang sweeping the Astros. Unfortunately, I can not comment on the games because I missed a large portion of all 3 games due to a combination of Ottawa Lynx games. Until I catch up on those games I’ll stick to talking about the future except for one thing… Alfonso Soriano batted 5th against Wandy Rodriguez on Sunday. Lou Piniella wanted to add a bit more right handed power to the middle of the lineup against lefties. He believes the Cubs lost a little pop against south paws with the Barrett trade and the demotion of Matt Murton. In other news, Cliff Floyd has had a sore shoulder the last few days and is day-to-day. Henry Blanco has still not started his rehab assignment due to pain in his shoulder, but is expect to start in the next few days.
Tonight, Barry Bonds will be chasing history. Barry Bonds is sitting on 751 homeruns and can very well tie Hank Aaron during this series. After getting off to a hot start in April hitting 8 homeruns) he has cooled off quite a bit. He has hit only 9 homeruns since April. He hit his last homerun July 3rd off Aaron Harang, a 2 run shot on an 0-2 count. The hype surrounding Bonds will likely overshadow a great match-up of young pitchers on the mound. The future Star, Tim Lincecum will face the young but struggling Rich Hill.
Tim Lincecum (4-2, 4.63)
Lincecum was really on the fast track to the majors. In 2006 with the University of Washington Lincecum had a great year. He went 12-4 with a 1.94 era in 125.1 innings pitched. He struck out 199 while only walking 63. His rate stats were equally impressive. (14.29 K/9, 4.52 BB/9, 5.39 H/9, .57 HR/9, 1.10 WHIP. In his professional career, he has also been impressive. Like most players adjusting to the major leagues he has had some growing pains. After posting a 2 wins and a 3.24 era in 33.1 innings pitched in 5 starts in May, Tim struggled with his control in May. In 5 starts he lost 2 games and posted a 7.71 era in 25.2 innings pitched. The biggest reason for his struggles? He walked only 11 batters in May, then lost his control and walked 18 in only 25.2 innings in June. The Good news for the Giants is that he seems to be back on track in July. In two starts, he has gone 2-0 with a 2.08 era and only walked 3 batters while striking out 17 in 13 innings pitched. Hopefully, the Cubs will face the June version.
Rich Hill (5-6, 3.81)
Rich Hill has really been struggling over the last month or so. The Cubs seem to believe Hill might be tipping his pitches but have been unable to find and correct the issue. I’m no expert on the matter but I think another problem could very well be a lack of a quality 3rd pitch. Hill has a good fastball and a really good curve ball but that is it. He also throws both of these pitches in great numbers. My assumption is that hitters are likely sitting on the fastball or curve ball and hurting the ball when they see it. Oddly, enough, Hill’s strikeout rate has actually increased and his walk rate decreased during the his struggles. This leads me to believe that his struggles likely are not here to stay. The Biggest concern for Hill is the long ball. He gave up 13 homeruns in May and June as well as 2 in one start in July. He gave up only 3 in April. This is very good news for Barry Bonds. For the those that are wondering, Barry Bonds is 0-2 with one 1 walk against Hill.
Lineups (Will be Posted when Available)
Thanks to the All-star game news has been pretty slow lately, but this bit of news is particularly exciting. Mark Cuban has applied to become the owner of the Cubs. This guy is the polar opposite of the Tribune Company in management style. His primary concern is winning. He’s not afraid to be fined for ripping the umps and is not afraid to get his hands wet in the day to day operation of the club. (Which probably makes Joe Giradi’s chances at managing the Cubs a long shot at best in the future). We’ve all seen his name pop up over the years as being interested in buying the Cubs. Ever since the Cubs were actually put up for sale, I’ve been very excited about prospect of a new owner especially if that new owner is Mark Cuban. I truly believe that Mark Cuban is the type of owner than could break the longest championship drought in modern sports.
In other news, Wrigley field was apparently torn up pretty bad during the Police concert over the break. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some funny hops in the outfield over the next few days.
The Cubs have Optioned Felix Pie back to AAA and called up prospect catcher Geovany Soto. For the most part I agree with this move. Soto has been hitting cover off the ball in AAA (.341/412/.584. The Cubs have really benefited this year from bringing up players who are hot in the minors. Just look at the accomplishments Mike Fontenot (.356/.376/.577) has put up. year. I don’t see the needs to keep 3 catchers on the roster, especially when two are weak hitting all fielding types. Koyie Hill or Rob Bowen should be sent down.
Kerry Wood is scheduled to start pitching for the Cubs Rookie League team in Mesa. Keep your fingers crossed, a healthy Kerry would could really solidify bullpen.
Every year I am amazed at why people are so down about the All-Star game and it’s related events. Many people are mad about how the players are chosen, the way the All-Star game settles home field advantage, or even how the whole event seems to be one big gimmick. In my opinion, there really is no better way to choose the players. Despite the fact that the game actually means something, the All-Star game is still a showcase for the fans. The fans vote in to see their favorite players despite their performance. That’s the way it should be. No matter how much we obsess about the game, it is still just entertainment. If the majority of the fans want that aging player in the game, who doesn’t have anything left in the tank over they new kid on the block who’s breaking out, I don’t have a problem with it.
I know many people hate the fact that the All-Star game determines home field advantage for the World Series. Is that really such a bad thing? The rule was put in place after Bud Selig was put in a no win situation and had to rule the 2002 All-Star game a tie. With the rule in place the teams now play and manage to win. The players actually look like they care, and the games have been better because it. In my opinion, that makes it all worth it. Besides, what better way to choose which league holds home field advantage in the World Series. I like that we pit the league’s perceived best players against each other to battle it out. Having the fans vote means the League’s Rosters may not be the very best the league has to offer, but both teams are subjected to the fan vote which makes it a moot point. Some people will argue that team record should determine who has home field advantage in the World Series. However, I don’t think that is any more fair than the All-Star game. The two teams do not play the same competition in the year, so why is it fair to go strictly by record? I realise we want to reward a team for playing well during the regular season. But, I think playing the lower seeded teams and having home field advantage through the League Championship series is a good enough reward.
Homerun Derby 2007
The Homerun Derby is tonight and should be an entertaining affair. At least for the first few rounds before the novelty wears off. It’s exciting to see a lot of younger guys in the derby this year. I must admit, It would have been fun seeing Barry Bonds in there. I understand why he made the decision he did, but I really dislike how he isn’t giving anything to his fans. He is refusing to give anything to the Hall of Fame, pulling out of the MLBPA licensing agreements (taking himself out of video games), and now refusing to participate in the Homerun Derby. I just have this perception that he thinks Baseball and fans owe him something when in reality he owes baseball and his fans to be out there. He is missing a great opportunity to endear himself to the fans and those who loathe him. He says he is ‘his own man’ and that he is. I have never seen a player give his fans and enemy’s so much reason to dislike him. With every move he makes, he becomes increasing more selfish in the eyes of the fans. He wants us to celebrate his accomplishments but I now understand Selig’s point of view. Why should we celebrate Barry Bonds when he won’t do anything for us?
With that being said here is my prediction for tonight.
For Round One Standings:
Round 2 Standings:
Final Round Standings:
I had the winner right, but my bracket for www.mlb.com was way off other than that. I wanted to say I was fairly impressed with Bond’s comments during his interview. He did dodge questions but he did appear to be at least reaching out to the fans a bit. I hope we continue to see the new Barry.
Happy Live Earth day. There is nothing like listening to some good music especially for a good cause. The bad news is the Cubs lost to the Pirates yesterday and the Brewers won dropping the Cubbies back to 5.5 games back. The Cubs also lost Dempster for an extended period of time. He was unable to throw off the mound without pain and will not be able to complete a rehab assignment over the break as previously planned. The Cubs bullpen has turned around it’s luck lately and has pitched fairly well the last few weeks. The Cubs are 6 out 7 in save game attempts without Dempster and have posted a 3.30 era in the time span. The Cubs have won 11 out of their last 14 and find themselves only 4 games out of the National League Wild Card.
Cubs Vs Pirates
The Pirates and the Cubs both enter the game on runs of 7-3. However, the Cubs have gone 19-11 over their last 30 and the Pirates in the same time period are 15-15. The Pirates have had the Cub’s number the last two years. The Cubs in 2006 and 2007 are currently 9-13 against the Pirates. Tonight the Cubs Ted Lilly will be taking on the Pirates John Van Benschoten.
Ted Lilly (7-4, 3.84)
After struggling in June (5.40 ERA), Lilly rebounded and pitched a great game against the the Nationals in his last start. He threw 7 innings allowed 3 hits and a run. Ted Lilly is slightly less effective against righties (.696) than lefties (.559). Lilly has been struggling lately limiting the walk. He has walked 8 batters over his last 2 starts. However, this trend will likely not continue. Lilly has struck out 92 while only walking 26 in 105.1 innings pitched this year. In 4 games against the Pirates, the Bucs have had his number. He has allowed 9 earned runs in 14.2 innings pitched. Lilly has 4 hits in 34 tries this year. He also has 2 sacrifices on the year.
John Van Benschoten (0-2, 4.35)
Van Benschoten was called up June 15th from AAA Indianapolis and will be making his 4th start of his year and the 9th of his career. He made his major league debut August 18th, 2004. Over his career he is 1-5 with a 5.84 era in 50 innings pitched. So far this year, righties (.726 OPS) have given him much more trouble than lefties (.482 OPS). Van Benschoten has been lights out in the first inning this year. He has yet to give up a hit or a walk in the 1st inning. At the plate, Van Benschoten has 1 hit in 13 at bats and 2 sacrifices. His one hit was homerun back in 2004.
Cubs (Career Vs Van Benschoten)
Alfonso Soriano LF (No History)
Ryan Theriot SS (No History)
Derrek Lee 1B (No History)
Aramis Ramirez 3B (No History)
Daryle Ward RF (No History)
Mark DeRosa 2B (No History)
Jacque Jones CF (No History)
Koyie Hill C (No History)
Ted Lilly P
Pirates (Career Vs Ted Lilly)
Jose Bautista 3B (.143, 1-7, 1 RBI)
Freddy Sanchez 2B (.333, 2-6)
Xavier Nady CF (.667, 2-3)
Jason Bay LF (.167, 1-6)
Josh Phelps 1B (.333, 3-9)
Ryan Doumit RF (.500, 1-2, 1 RBI)
Ronny Paulino C (.600, 3-5, 1 homerun, 3 RBIs)
Jack Wilson SS (.333, 2-6, 1 RBI)
John Van Benschoten P