Goatriders of the Apocalypse

GameCasts

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Gamecast: September 9th at Pirates - Too Little Too Late

Carlos Zambrano (7-6, 3.80 ERA) vs. Kevin Hart (4-5, 4.67 ERA)

Story Lines

The Cubs face their former mate today as they go for the sweep. The Cubs pounded the Pirates last night, but it is a case of too little too late.

Sorry for the quick post, but I have a meeting to get to at school.....more later.

Gamecast: September 8th at Pirates

GamecastRyan Dempster (8-8, 3.96 ERA) vs. Zac Duke (10-13, 3.71 ERA)

Story Lines
Well, it is about time to focus on the NFL and College Football, becasuse the Cubs just are not very interesting. It will be interesting to see if the Cubs have a few players that start to sit or are shut down for the year.

Who's Hot
Derrek Lee - This guy is going crazy right now, and we can only hope that he continues this onslaught next season and leads the Cubs to a title.

Geovany Soto - Don't look now, but Soto's hitting .429 in his last two games. I know it is not much, but it is a start.

Jeff Baker - The Cubs will proably try to find a new 2B next year, but Baker might earn a shot. He's up to .297 on the seaon, and over an .800 OPS

Who's Not
Aramis Ramirez -
It's been a little rough for Aramis, who's hitting .174 in his last six games.

Ryan Theriot - Ouch! The Riot is 2 for his last 21, which is just about regular for a Theriot September.

Conclusions
I would have wrote more, but I was called into two meetings today at school. Enjoy some pressure free baseball.

Gamecast: September 7th at Pirates - Labor Day Edition

GamecastTed Lilly vs. Daniel McCutchen

Story Lines
Waitasecond, didn't I just write about this a few moments ago?

Having lost 2 of 3 from the Mets, the Cubs have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are atrocious on the road.  For all the wonders that the statistical community has done for all the baseball geeks in the world, I would love to see a reasoned explanation as to why a player -- or a team, for that matter -- can do well on the road one year, atrocious the next, and great again the year after.  It's just weird.

Who's Hot
Derrek Lee and Geo Soto both had a good game against the Mets, but otherwise the offense is colder than a porn-star's nipples moments before the director calls action. 

Who's Not

Hmm, where do we start?  Fontenot, check.  Bradley, check.  Theriot, double check.  Fukudome, check check check.  I'm just wondering ... when does the whole "playing for pride" thing start?

Conclusions
I've been to Pittsburgh.  They have a beautiful ballpark.  Absolutely gorgeous.  But the city itself is kind of scummy and the team sucks eggs through straws.  I don't care how bad the Cubs are on any given year, they should flat-out dominate the Pirates.  End.  Of.  Story.

GameCast: September 6th at New York

With real content to come later ... probably with the game half over by then:

GameCastRandy Wells (10-7, 2.90 ERA) vs. Mike Pelfrey (9-10, 5.03 ERA)

Story-lines:
Happy birthday Derrek Lee.  The newly-turned 34-year-old had a huge day yesterday, two days after the birth of his most recent child (that he knows of).  Lee's production of late is admirable, although it really symbolizes the season in many ways -- the Cubs have often had a hot hitter, but rarely have they had more than one at a time.  And while it's possible for a Derrek -- or, traditionally, an Alfonso -- to carry the team with his smoking hot bat, theoretically the other players should be more than capable of winning without that guy who's batting .450 the past week with 4 homers and 10 ribbies.  But that hasn't been the case in Chicago this season.

On the mound for the Cubs today is Randy Wells, a guy who should be mentioned more often when people talk about prospective Rookie of the Year candidates.  There are really only three guys in competition with him -- Chris Coghlan, who's batting .309 with 9 homeruns for the Marlins, Dexter Fowler, a switch-hitting center fielder with a great OBP and a number of steals, and the likely winner J.A. Happ, the reliever-turned starter for the Phillies who is presently 10-4 with a 2.77 ERA.

As cool as it would be for Randy to win the award, it's not exactly as if the Cubs have had a ton of ringing long-term success with their recent Rookie of the Year winners.  So, not so big a deal.

Who's Hot
The Afore-Mentioned Derrek Lee - He's 8 for his last 18 with 1 double and 4 homeruns (that means 50% of his last 8 successful contacts left the park) and a ridiculous 1.667 OPS.

Jeff Baker - He's batting .429 in his last 6 games.  It's about time the Cubs could count on a second baseman.

Who's Not
Pretty much every other starter on the Cub. Fukudome, Theriot, Ramirez, Fox, Soto, Hill, Fontenot ... all batting under .200 the past week.  Quitters.

Conclusions
Win, lose, just look pretty doing it, baby!

Doubleshot -- Game Recap: Mets 6, Cubs Blew ... er, 2. GameCast: September 5th at New York

Game Recap
Due to time constraints, laziness, and because I think it looks kind of cool, I'm going to combine yesterday's ugly recap with today's scag-like GameCast.

So.  Your team is struggling for offense and you have one guy who's been hitting the ball decently.  Do you:

A) stack the lineup to give him as many opportunities as possible to hit with runners on?
B) find your second best hitter on the team and bat that guy behind your "one guy" in order to create an illusion of protection?
or C) give him the day off.

Lou picked "C," and the Cubs lost again 6 to 2.  At least it wasn't the fault of Carlos Zambrano, who was recently accused of having "quit" on the season.  (I have a feeling that if you told Carlos to his face that he was a quitter, he'd probably punch his hand through your head.)  The Big Moose tossed 6 innings, surrendered 3 hits -- 1 a solo homer -- and struck out 7. 

Jeff Baker tied the 1-0 game in the 8th by knocking in Crazy Milton, and that was when Kevin Gregg stepped in and completed his own personal circle of suck.  Gregg allowed the only 2 men he faced to reach, and when John Grabow relieved him the former Pittsburgh reliever apparently started delivering his pitches underhand or something, because the Mets beat him as if they were Ike Turner high on coke and he was a getting-lippy Tina. 

The two pitchers -- Gregg and Grabow -- faced 7 men while getting none of them out -- they instead allowed 6 hits, 1 walk, and 5 runs to score. 

The Cubs bullpen.  Yay?

GameCastGameCast
Rich Harden vs. Nelson Figueroa

Story-lines
The.  Cubs.  Suuuuuuuck. 

Ignoring that, with expanded rosters (it's September already?) the Cubs have all sorts of individual guys for us to root for.  For example:

Bobby Scales -- Chicago's 31-year-old rookie is back for the first time in nearly 3 months.  I get why he was demoted to begin with -- it was an odd-man-out sort of deal -- but his numbers really aren't bad for a defensive sub.  in 26 games and 59 at bats, Scales is batting .254 with 2 doubles, 1 triple, 3 homeruns, and 7 RBI.  He's got a .343 OBP and a .818 OPS.

Micah Hoffpauir -- He returned to the team for the first time since early Sept.  As anybody not swimming in a bleached-out pool of optimism could tell you, he's had the kind of year one might expect from a guy in his late 20's who'd never had hitting success before just the previous season.  He's batting .228 with 8 homers, 25 RBI, and an OPS of .691.  Anybody still think he could land the Cubs Adrian Gonzalez?

Andres Blanco -- Rob's favorite Neifi-clone is back for the first time since early August.  He's batting .240 with a .298 OBP, and a .631 OPS. 

There are a few other September additions -- Justin Berg, for instance -- but I think we'll leave it at this for now.  I wonder which of this bunch of riff-raff will play today?

Who's Hot

Based on yesterday's play, we could probably make an argument for Jeff Baker -- he went 3 for 3, raising his AVG to .291 on this season.  Milton Bradley also went 2 for 5, and is flirting with a .270 AVG.
 
Who's Not

Micah Hoffpauir picked up right where he left off before his demotion, going 0 for 4 and dropping his AVG to .228.

Conclusions
If the Cubs are in the midst of a proverbial downward spiral, then they will have plenty of time to meet the Mets down there.  New York is already at the bottom of the barrell.  As screwed up as Milton Bradley is, and as frustratingly insane as Carlos Zambrano can be, the Mets may be the most dysfunctional organization in baseball right now.  So, I guess we've got that going for us.  Which is nice.

GameCast: September 4th at New York Mets

Note: this was written earlier in the day, but never got published.  Sorry about that.

GameCastCarlos Zambrano vs. Bobby Parnell

Story-Lines
It's an epic collision of suck!  The Cubs and Mets are both teams that had been expected to compete way back in the spring, only to suffer crippling injuries and personnel problems resulting in a Season of Meh. 

So what will happen in this, the high-tension battle of teams that can barely make the effort to don their uniforms before each game?  Who will win -- the angry, unfocused Cubs or the dysfunctional, injury-riddled Mets?  It's not a case of which team is better ... it's a case of WHICH TEAM IS WORSE!

Who's Hot

On this team?  After getting shut out by the White Sox?  Probably Cub fans everywhere, angry at the team's poor play.  But otherwise, not much of anybody.

Who's Not

Lou Piniella.  If anybody should be "hot," it should be him at his players.  Instead he appears resigned.  Speaking of resignation, why is Lou bothering to come back next year?  I remain unconvinced that he's done anything in 2009 to better his team's position.

Conclusions
The Cubs offense should pummel these guys.  Carlos Zambrano should shut them down.  It should be a cake-walk.  Instead it's just another long game in a long season.

GameCast: September 3rd vs. White Sox

GameCast

Carlos Torres (0-0 6.75) vs. Ryan Dempster (8-7, 4.15 ERA)

Story-lines
Ryan Dempster continues to try and salvage the first year of his new deal with the Cubs. At this point he looks like he may not even reach 10 wins, although I reiterate -- and will forever maintain this stance -- that while he's not worth the contract he signed, he's been one of the unluckiest pitchers on the team. Similarly, he was probably a little too lucky in 2008, so I guess everything balances out in the end. Anyway, Dempster squares off against the 27-year-old rookie Carlos Torres, who so far has pitched 9.1 innings in his big league career, allowing 7 earned runs, walking 9, and striking out 8. I just hope his cup of coffee isn't too bitter for him.

Dempster and the Cubs are theoretically competing for a wild card spot. The odds of them getting there are, as measured by the experts, in the neighborhood of 2%. As measured by the writers of this site, though, their odds are closer to Dog Piss Jones, which is another way of saying t'ain't gonna happen. But just to keep the embers of your hope warm in the ashes of this once-promising season, the Cubs will later this month play four games against their primary playoff-spot opponents the Giants, who in turn play 3 games against their primary playoff-spot opponents the Rockies. In theory, the Giants and Rockies could beat each other up a bit, the Cubs could beat up the Giants, and maybe they could sneak in and get wiped out in the first round of the playoffs by the Dodgers again.

It could happen. Then again, I suppose a huge bag of money could fall out of the sky and land right in front of me.

Who's Hot
Derrek Lee - D.P.Lee has had a shockingly good season, and in the past week he's hit 3 homeruns, driven in 5 RBI, and is batting .360. He's joined in this surprisingly productive week by Milton Bradley, who also is batting .360 over the past week but with 2 more doubles and 2 fewer homeruns. Also lighting the team on fire is Aramis Ramirez, batting .348 with 8 RBI.

Who's Not
Ryan Theriot - he's batting .200 this past week. He's joined by Kosuke Fukudome, who's hitting .217 and Jake Fox, whose .125 AVG is offset only by his grand slam.

Conclusions
They are on pace to win 83 games. They are pretty much out of everything but the race for respectability, although Rob might contend with that as well. But with 28 games remaining, and with such a weak schedule in September, I believe that even this erratic, unlucky, inconsistent ballclub can win 15 to 20 games. An 85-77 record is nothing to be excited about; even an 87-75 record isn't spectacular (and that's the best-case scenario), but Colorado has a slightly harder schedule and, hey, bag of money from the sky! Unfortunately, though, at this point the Rockies and Giants would pretty much have to die together in a fiery crash and be replaced by inadequate, scrub minor leaguers for the Cubs to have any kind of chance.

So we're playin' for respect, boys! Go get 'em!

Gamecast: September 2nd vs. Astros

GameCastFelipe Paulino (2-6, 6.96 ERA) vs. Ted Lilly (9-8, 3.35 ERA)

Story Lines

Today we continue with our look at the Cubs in 2010. This list is not the end all, be all, but it is a quick look to take our minds off the 2009 version.


Starting Pitcher - First base (Derrek Lee)


Contract 2009: 13.25 Million


Contract 2010: 13 Million


Stats 2009: .294/.373/.545 with 26 HR, 30 2B and 88 RBI.


Lee is easily turning in his best season since 2005 for the Cubs. Too bad that it is also another where the Cubs are probably not going to make the postseason. So, maybe we need to D-Lee to struggle to get there? Well, anyway....Lee has played better than anybody could imagine, including all those Micah Hoffpauir lovers out there. I've been using this one site for contracts, and it says that Lee is actually getting a pay decrease next year. I'm not sure if that is correct, but at least he will probably not get a huge raise. Still, he is going make another 13 million next year, and it will leave the Cubs with little contract flexibility.

He's also entering the final year of his deal, so maybe he is due for one last monster season. Then, he can lead the Cubs to....well you get the picture. I don't see any problems bringing Lee back next year, because the Cubs really don't have another option. Jake Fox? eh..Micah Hoffpauir?...Aaron Miles....Ok, I'm joking about Miles, but still the Cubs could do far worse at 1B as long as his neck holds up next year.


Running Totals
2010 Payroll:
57.8 Million


2010 Average: 11.5 Million (Five Players)

Who's Hot

Koyie Hill - Hill has five RBI during his last five games to go along with his .438 average (7-for-16). Geo get used to the bench the rest of the year.

Mike Fontenot - Wow, another member of the underachieving club is moving up with four hits in his last 11 at bats.
 
Who's Not

Ryan Theriot - It's the end of the year, so Theriot is wearing down a little. He's only got six hits in the last six games, which is good for a .207 average.

Conclusions

Labor Day is almost here, so do yourself a favor and have a good time over the next few days. These games are actually winnable, so the Cubs might be fun to watch.

Gamecast: September 1st vs. Astros - No. 5 Starter

GameCastBrian Moehler (8-9, 5.26 ERA) vs. Randy Wells (9-7, 3.06 ERA)

Story Lines

The Cubs are still playing bad, but lets take a look at the fifth part of our series looking at the 2010 Chicago Cubs.

Starting Pitcher - No. 5 Starter (??????????)

Contract 2009: 7 Million

Contract 2010: ????????

Stats 2009: 8-8, 4.19 ERA in 129 innings. 152/58 K/BB with a 1.29 WHIP

The big question is who is the fifth starter in the Cubs rotation. Granted, Randy Wells is really that guy this year, the Cubs don't have a 5th pitcher for the next season. Do the Cubs resign Rich Harden or do they let Sean Marshall have another shot at starting? Harden will probably be better, but of course there are health concerns there, and Marshall has been up and down.

If the Cubs sign Harden to a one-year deal it could be about 10 million, so the Cubs might be less than willing to give that kind of money.

Running Totals
2010 Payroll:
44.8 Million (4 Starting Pitchers)
2010 Average: 12.2 Million a player

Who's Hot

Anybody playing the Cubs.

Who's Not

The Cubs

Conclusions

The Cubs have been just about impossible to watch this season, and it doesn't seem to be getting any better. Here's hoping for a change of luck tonight.

GameCast: August 31st vs. Astros

GameCastRoy Oswalt (7-5, 3.86 ERA) vs. Rich Harden (8-7, 3.99 ERA)

Story-lines
Have you ever been in a long relationship that was pretty much a shell of itself for a month or two before it actually ended?  Perhaps you knew by the second week of November that there was no future with your significant other, but Thanksgiving was coming up and, y'know, you didn't want to be a sad participant explaining to mom and dad why another one got away... not to mention Christmas was just around the corner and he/she'd been hinting for a while at getting you something spectacular, and is six more weeks not worth a great Christmas gift?  That's sort of what it's like with Rich Harden and the Cubs right now. 

Chances are, they aren't going to sign him once this off season rolls around.  Odds are that whatever the Twins were offering was probably as good or better than anything they might get if he signs with another team and the Cubs are awarded a draft pick.  But while the relationship is all-but-over, the Cubs have another month of baseball to play and they're doing it more for the symbol than the possible result.  After all, if they let Harden go to Minnesota, then they would be giving up on the 2009 season while being "merely" 4 games out of the Wild Card.  Appearances are everything, though, and so no trade was made.  It kind of makes one wonder why they would have waived him to begin with.

Anyway, let's be honest.  Blogging about the Cubs right now sucks.  Hopes are diminished, games remain to be played, and here we are churning out on average more words about the Cubs on a daily basis than perhaps any of the major papers that cover the team.  Sometimes it's not fun, but like Harden, the Cubs, and you and your significant other, we're too invested to quit now. 

But don't worry ... just because things are ending soon doesn't mean it has to be dull.  The nasty photoshops are coming.

Who's hot
Aramis Ramirez - 11 for his last 26, with 8 RBI in his last 6 games, maybe Ramirez should play with a hurt shoulder all the time.

Derrek Lee - He's batting .320 with an .890 OPS in the past week.  Not to repeat myself a lot, but I'd love it if all the Lee haters and Hoffpauir supporters would man up and admit just how wrong they were.

Milton "Eff You" Bradley - Now that it's pretty much too late to matter, Bradley is putting on a clinic.  He's 12 for his last 22 with 2 homers, 5 RBI, and 9 runs scored in the past week.  In other words meet Fred McGriff, version 2.0.

Kosuke Fukudome - He's batting .333 with a .391 OBP in the past week.  His power numbers haven't really been there over that span, but it's not so important so long as he bats leadoff.

Who's Not
Ryan Theriot - A .154 AVG in the past week.

Jake Fox - His only 2 hits in his last 13 at bats have been a double and a grand slam. 

Conclusions
As bad as the Cubs have been, Houston's been worse.  Playing them at home, even as erratic as they've been, with Harden on the mound leads me to believe this should be a win tonight.  Don't prove me wrong, Cubs.  ::shakes fist::

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