Goatriders of the Apocalypse

GameCasts

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Gamecast: August 30th vs. Mets - No. 4 Starter

Nelson Figueroa (1-3, 5.40 ERA) vs. Carlos Zambrano (7-5, 3.80 ERA)

Story Lines

I hope everybody can read the sarcasm in my typing about the doom and gloom of the Cubs. If not, I still want the Cubs to play well, but I can't write the same things over and over about the Cubs still having chances to make the playoffs. So that being said, lets take a look at another player locked up in 2010.

Starting Pitcher - No. 4 Starter (Randy Wells)

Contract 2009: 402 Thousand

Contract 2010: 400+ Thousand

Stats 2009: 9-7 , 3.06 ERA in 126 2/3 innings. 78/33 K/BB Ratio with a 1.22 WHIP

Randy Wells has been better than anybody could have imagined this season. He was so good, that the Cubs pushed Sean Marshall to the bullpen to be the LOOGY, which worked as well. The problem was the offense once again not hitting, which meant that Randy didn't pick up a lot of wins, and neither did the Cubs.

Now, the Cubs have a guy that can slot into the rotation once again for 2010. I have a feeling that he will be a lot like Ryan Dempster, in the fact that he will probably see his ERA rise quite a bit in 2010. My guess is that he ends up being a 3.80 ERA to 4.20 ERA for next year, which is not terrible, but not really special either. The good thing is that he will be the No. 4/5 starter, so he doesn't have to be an ace.

Now the Cubs are making one last run at the Wild Card, the Cubs are going to throw Wells at least a few more times. The moment that chase ends, the Cubs really need to shut him down for the rest of year, so he doesn't develop any arm problems. I have to say, I'm quite happy with his performance and the fact he will make make less than 12 million dollars for next year.

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

Who's Hot

Milton Bradley - Hey, better late than the never, right? He had three more hits yesterday and his average is up to .268.

Jake Fox - Fox hit his first career grand slam yesterday, and he gets another start today with Alfonso Soriano still nursing his bum knee. Fox has 39 RBI and 10 HR's now.

Who's Not

Derrek Lee - Hey, even our best player has to have an 0 for 5 day every now and then.

Conclusions

I leave you today with Bruce Miles and his quote from Lou Pinella:

So I figured I’d ask Lou what he thought of his team being written off.

“I love it,” he said. “I hope they continue to write that. It would
be nice. What people write or don’t write has no bearing on how we do.
It’s good. There’s nothing wrong with playing the role of a big
underdog. There’s nothing wrong with that. We’ve got to go out and play
on the field regardless of what people write or don’t write. The less
attention, the better.”

Gamecast: August 29th vs. Mets - No. 3 Starter

Bobby Parnell (3-6, 5.08 ERA) vs. Ryan Dempster (7-7, 4.07 ERA)

Story Lines

The Cubs won, but the Cardinals pull out a crazy win...go figure. Ok, so onto our look at the Cubs in 2010.

Starting Pitcher - No. 3 Starter (Ryan Dempster)

Contract 2009: 9 Million

Contract 2010:13.5 Million

Stats 2009: 7-7, 4.07 ERA in 143 2/3 innings. 122/54 K/BB Ratio with a 1.36 WHIP

Ryan Dempster as a big reason the Cubs won 97 games a year ago, and he hasn't been in bad in 2010. Of course, he really has been up and down, which is the story of the Cubs 2009 season. Dempster was rewarded with a big offseason contract and we all knew that it might have been a bad idea. One year into the deal, and I'm sure Cub fans wished Dempster was not signed for three years.

The Cubs have a lot of money committed into the rotation for next year, and Dempster going to be getting a nice 4.5 million dollar raise. The problem with sinking so much money into guy's like Dempster is that it is hard to make improvements.

The problem is that Dempster will probably not be as good as he was in 2008, and he's getting paid more than Ted Lilly, who is a better pitcher at this point. Of course, if Dempster pitches with a sub 4 ERA in the last three years it would work out just fine. Does anybody else think he can do that for three more years? This is just another move of Jim Hendry that is going to tie the Cubs hands for the next few years.

Running Totals
2010 Payroll:
44.4 Million (3 Starting Pitchers)

Who's Hot

Alfonso Soriano - Dude, he had three hits yesterday including his first home run in ages. It is good to see, but I have a feeling he is heading to a nice DL stint. Looks like Jake Fox needs to get ready and play some OF.

Milton Bradley -
Maybe Milton can play just good enough over the last month and get some trade value for the Cubs. He had three more hits yesterday and is up to .262 on the season.

Who's Not

Ryan Theriot - Another 0 for 4 at the top of the lineup. He's down to .290 and looks rough out there.

Sam Fuld - Fuld's hot start is over, as he has seen his average did down to .259 with an 0 for  4 yesterday.

Conclusions

The Cubs need to win, but I'm not getting some hopes up.

Gamecast: August 28th vs. Mets - No. 2 Starter

Pat Misch (0-1, 4.09 ERA) vs. Ted Lilly (3.40 ERA)

Story Lines

The Cubs still suck....so we are moving on to the second part of our series on the Cubs players returning (AS OF NOW) to the 2010 Chicago Cubs, because we have nothing better to write about.

Starting Pitcher - No. 2 Starter (Ted Lilly)

Contract 2009: 13 Million

Contract 2010:13 Million

Stats 2009: 9-8, 3.40 ERA in 135 innings. 116/27 K/BB Ratio with a 1.11 WHIP

Ted Lilly has more strikeouts and less walks than Carlos Zambrano. I understand the walks, but how are the strikeouts possible? That was the really a telling stat with me, not to mention Ted's 1.11 WHIP. I really think the Cubs were dealt their biggest blow this year when Ted hurt his knee, which led to his hurt shoulder. At the time, he was mowing people down and keeping the Cubs in contention. Then, the Cubs lose him for about a month, the wheels come off. As Paul Harvey would say, "Now you know the rest of the story."

For all of Jim Hendry's move like trading for Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee, there where moves like Milton Bradley and Alfonso Soriano. He's really hit and miss. I was SURE that Ted Lilly's signing was the dumbest thing he has ever done, and that included getting Jacques Jones. There was no way this signing would work, but Ted's that lefty every team needs. He keeps you in games, throws strikes and wins. He's not going to win 15 this year thanks to his time on the DL, but I expect him to really be out No. 1 next year (Don't forget he makes about five million less than Big Z). Hopefully, he will be heathly all next year and lead us to the World Series. The best thing is that Lilly does not get a crazy raise next year. He makes another 13 million, which is still a lot of money. It just so happens our next pitcher will make 13 million next year, and he really needs to improve to earn it next year.

Running Totals:
Payroll for 2010: 30.9 Million (Two Starting Pitchers)

Who's Hot

Aramis Ramirez - This is just a lost year for Aramis with the shoulder issues. I won't be surprised if they shut him down in a few weeks to let him get his shoulder scoped. That way he is well over 100% at the start of Spring Training next year. Anyway, he's hitting .374 in his last six games with four RBI.

Koyie Hill - Hill's batting .500 in his last three games and is cleary the better hitter right now. Geovany Soto just needs to head to winter ball and find his swing.
Who's Not

Alfonso Soriano - It's time to shut him down just for sucking so much. Come back next year and lets try this again. He's 1 for 10 in his last four games.

Ryan Theriot - He's 4 for 24 in his last six games with a .240 OBP. Can say you are going to score many runs with that number. Guess What? The Cubs aren't scoring many...hmm...I might be onto something.

Conclusions

Ted Lilly rocks, and he is going to pitch a gem today. Mark it down, folks...No David Wright, no Jose Reyes, No Jeff Francoeur....oh wait we wouldn't mind him playing...well still the Cubs will probably find a way to lose 1-0 with Angel Pagan hitting an inside the park home run to right.

Gamecast: August 27 vs. Nationals - No. 1 Starter

GameCastJ.D. Martin (2-3, 4.76 ERA) vs. Randy Wells (9-6, 2.84 ERA)

Story Lines

Today, instead of rehashing the same old GameCast, we will start a series of looks at different players that are signed for next year, and some of the free agents. I will take a quick look at their preformance and some overall contract numbers. Feel free to debate the mertis of the players in the comment section.

Starting Pitcher - No. 1 Starter (Carlos Zambrano)

Contract 2009: 17.8 Million


Contract 2010:17.9 Million


Stats 2009: 7-5, 3.80 ERA in 128 innings. 105/60 K/BB Ratio with a 1.38 WHIP


Carlos Zambrano is paid like his is the ace of the staff. While he is a prefectly fine pitcher, it doesn't seem like he is going to win too many Cy Youngs in the future. 2009 will be the second year in a row where Big Z. does not pitch 200 innings, and his strikeouts have fallen once again. At least his opposing OPS has not really taken off, so people are not hitting him hard, but he has a tough time getting the K when he really needs it.


His contract is pretty big and the good thing is that it does not really jump any higher over the last three years. The problem is that he is getting almost 18 million. Ted Lilly has pitched better and thrown more innings, but makes six million less than Carlos. That being said, Carlos has the ability to turn things around and become one of the best pitchers in the NL if he starts to train a little bit more. Hopefully, he is serious about losing weight in the offseason and that will make him a better pitcher. 

If you look at Carlos, he is really a great snapshot of the Cubs' season. He's been up and down, and the Cubs certainly been up and down. Carlos has three years left on his deal, and baring a trade he will finish up his deal at Age 31, so there is still time for him to turn in a few more solid years. Tomorrow will look at Ted Lilly and what is probaly Jim Hendry's best FA signing ever.

Running Totals:
Payroll for 2010: 17.9 Million

Who's Hot
Milton Bradley - Can you believe it? When the games become basically meaningless, Bradley heats up and drives in three runs.



Koyie Hill - Don't look now, but Koyie's average is up to .242 after a three-hit night last night. It doesn't hurt that he is playing the Nationals, but hey I don't see Geovany Soto hitting.

Who's Not

Carlos Marmol - The Cubs got a nice seven-run lead, before Marmol walked the bases loaded. I still say the Cubs might want to look for some relievers in the offseason.

Aaron Miles  -  I know he laid down a sac bunt in the 7th, but he still sucks and he didn't get a hit.

Conclusions

The Cubs finally won last night, but didn't gain ground since Roy Oswalt decided to give up three runs in an inning. A win today would be nice, because winning is better to deal with.

Gamecast: August 26th vs. Nationals

GameCastLivan Hernandez (7-8, 5.47 ERA) vs. Rich Harden (8-7, 4.04 ERA)

Story Lines
The Cubs are dead, or about as close as they can be and still be alive. Any way, starting tomorrow I'm going to start looking at breakdown of what the Cubs have coming back for next season. I figure that might spice up the gamecasts a little bit more, since there is not a lot of positive things going on during these posts these days.

Did anybody else know that Livan signed on with the Nats? I misssed that one, and I follow a ton of baseball. I'm sure he will find a way to grind out six solid innings, while Rich Harden pitches for next season and that big contract.

Who's Hot
Milton Bradley -
He had four hits last night, but only 1 RBI, which came on his HR.

Who's Not

Ryan Theriot - On a night where the Cubs had 12 hits, Theriot went 0 for 5.

Conclusions
This is the time of year where we need to be working on other thigns, becuase the Cubs are pretty tough to watch. For once I'm glad I have a thesis to work on for grad school, because it actually gives me something to get my mind off the Cubs. Check back tomorrow for the first in a series of looks into next season.

Gamecast: August 25th vs. Nationals

GameCastGarrett Mock (2-5, 5.10 ERA) vs. Carlos Zambrano (7-4, 3.35 ERA)

Story Lines
The Cubs are facing the very real fact that they will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Baring a 10-game winning streak, the Cubs will have a tough time overtaking the 8-game lead the Cardinals have in the NL-Central and the 7.5-game lead the Rockies have in the Wild Card.

That being said, the Cubs have a great chance to gain some ground with the Nationals in town. The Cubs really need to sweep, and hopefully pick up a few games. In reality they need to be within 4 games when the Cardinals series in St. Louis takes place. That means they need to pick up four games over thier next 22. Since the Cubs have played four less games, that means they really need to win all of those four, and find a way to pick up two more games. Will that happen? We've seen bad play after bad series, but the Cubs are probably playing their weakest stretch of opponents of the season with dates against the Mets, Astros, Pirates and Reds, not to mention this series against the Nationals.

I'm not one who likes to give up hope, because we've all had plenty of bgad memories to go around in our Cub Fan lives. So, why not hope they can turn it around? The Cubs get a boost tonight when Carlos Zambrano returns to the mound. In other news....well there really is not much other news.

Who's Hot
Jake Fox - He provided some needed hits in the Cubs lone win against LA. Can he see some playing time? Probably not with Alfonso Soriano making all that cash in left.

Who's Not
Take your pick - Aramis Ramirez, Sam Fuld, Geovany Soto, Mike Fontenot and Soriano all hitting .227 or worse in thier last six games. No wonder the Cubs went 2-5.

Conclusions
The fat-lady is warming up and she is about ready to head on to the stage. The only way this turns around is the Cubs go on a winning streak for the ages, and I just have a tough time seeing this team do something like that.

GameCast: August 23rd at Los Angeles -- putting the weep in sweep

GameCastRyan Dempster vs. Chad Billingsley

Story-Lines
The Cubs play today not only to avoid being swept by the Dodgers, but to also stay above .500 on the season.  Ryan Dempster, who has had just about as bad a season as possible for a guy who just signed a ridiculous 4-year extension, will try to be the stopper.

Except -- not to sound like a broken record -- I still don't think Dempster's year has been as bad as it's looked.  At this point, due to time missed Dempster is on pace to pitch 182 innings, to surrender 185 hits, 71 walks, and to strike out 157.  Last year in 206.2 innings he surrendered 174 hits, 71 walks, and struck out 187.  Obviously there's a difference there -- but per 9 innings he's still striking out 7.71 to last year's 8.14 along with 3.3 walks to last year's 3.5, and his K/BB ratio is still 2.21 compared to last year's 2.46.  The one difference has been the amount of hits he's given up -- in '08 it was 7.6 per 9, this year it's 9.1  Question is ... should that be enough for a guy's ERA to go from 2.96 to 4.28? 

I think it's a bit of bad luck.  Teams have a batting average of balls in play (BABIP) of .309 this season on Dempster, compared with .288 last season.  Just a thought -- maybe he'll turn things around next year.

Who's hot
Maybe some of the girls watching the games?

Who's not
Aaron Miles.  Why not just make him the scapegoat, eh?

Conclusions
The Cubs will have a tough road ahead of them today against a very successful Dodgers pitcher in Billingsley.  Still, they can't lose all their games ...

...can they?

Game Recap: Dodgers 2, Cubs 1 -- One Hit?! GameCast - August 21st at Los Angeles

Recap
(forgive me for the U2 reference in the graphic)

Randy Wells must be having flashbacks to earlier this season.  After surrendering only 2 runs, both unearned, the Cubs starter received his 6th loss of the season, this one to the Dodgers.  (Then again, the unearned runs came off a double surrendered to Dodgers pitcher Randy Wolf, so...)  The Cubs, meanwhile, managed only a single hit.  Between their games last year and this season, Chicago and L.A. rarely have high scoring games and I have to wonder if it's just chance or if perhaps the Dodgers just have the Cubs' number.

And with that, we could have the shortest recap of the season.  I mean, what else is there to really say about the game?

In other news, though, Carlos Zambrano is set to return shortly.  He's coming back to a hostile environment.  Fans have begun turning on him (hi, Rob), members of the media have a low opinion of him (hi, Paul Sullivan), whereas jamokes like me think he's a bit of a gift horse whose teeth we shouldn't be counting. 

Basically, my take is this -- and Rob, if you respond to this article at all I hope you respond to this part -- the Ace as Responsible Leader is kind of a myth.  There are plenty of examples of amazingly good pitchers who were selfish douchebags that teammates hated, with Roger Clemens coming to the forefront in that case.  I'm sure even Rob would agree that Clemens was ace material all day long, but he was also a selfish asshole prick who wouldn't even travel with the team on days he wasn't pitching.  Maybe what Carlos needs is to actually grow more selfish, become obsessed with his body and his statistics, and build himself into an iron machine of muscle and pitching domination.  Just a thought.

(And, incidentally, when Roger Clemens was in his late 20's he was a pudgy, out-of-shape douchebag ... just like Carlos.  Keep an eye on this comparrison.)

Now for the GameCast portion of this -- known also as Kurt is a lazy bastard who won't be around much today, so he's doing it now:

GameCastTed Lilly vs. Charlie Haeger

Story-lines
We like to call this "playing with a fork in them."  That's what the Cubs are doing.  At this point the season has jumped the ghost so much that they might actually finish the year with a losing record, which would make them -- even with all the injuries -- the most under-achieving team in history.

I would like to very strongly suggest that if the Cubs enter September with a losing record -- or if they are damn close on Sept 1 -- then perhaps they should very strongly consider shutting down Ted Lilly, Aramis Ramirez, and anybody else who qualifies as a member of the walking wounded.  There's no point to them playing and delaying their rehabilitation time if all they are playing for is pride.

Who's Hot

Nobody's hot.  Not even Cub fans are hot at the team anymore, it's more of a sense of resignation. 

Who's Not
The list is long and painful.  Let's skip it.

Conclusions
Win, lose, meh. 

With the sale of the team, I think it's fair to say that everybody's focus is now on what the Ricketts will do, what the team will look like, and what will happen next once this season finally, mercifully ends.  In the meantime, at least these losses don't hurt so much.

GameCast: August 21st at Los Angeles

GameCastRandy Wells v. Randy Wolf

Story-lines
Another night, another tough game for a team that's less than good.  But remember -- a week-or-so ago, I suggested that we stop getting upset when the Cubs are beaten like donkeys and focus instead on the smaller accomplishments of the individual players.  For example -- wouldn't it be something for Milton Bradley to get his AVG up to .280 in the ass-eating style of Fred McGriff (killing the ball when it's pointless)?  And wouldn't it be something for Kosuke to get his average up to .290 in an attempt to help set the table for the resurgent Derrek Lee reach 30 homers and 100 RBI?

Randy Wells is one of those stories.  For a guy who needed 8 starts to get his first win, he's been pretty tough to beat this season.  With a 9-5 record, his only real competition for the Rookie of the Year award is the sexier J.A. Happ, who's 9-2 with a 2.66 ERA for the eventual repeat championship winning Phillies.  It will probably be a second place performance for Wells, unless J.A. ehapporates -- get it, it's like "evaporates" but incorporates Happ's name, I kill me -- but for Randy to have any chance he'll need to be next-to-perfect the rest of the way. 

So, that's tonight's story-line.  Can Wells step up?

Who's Hot
After last night's dull performance, I'll only go as far as to say that Fukudome is hot.  In fact, he's so hot that they may use him as a stove element the next time they film an episode of Iron Chef.  Snap, the bad jokes just keep on coming!  Still, I probably will never get tired of pointing out that Fukudome is not so great.  But he is one of the better Cubs.

Who's Not

It's a list both long and storied.  Let's just sum it up with the bullpen and most of the lineup and leave it at that.

Conclusions

I love me some late night baseball, and watching the Cubs for the individuals -- rather than the broken promise of playoff glory -- makes this a dramatically less frustrating activity.  You should try it some time.  You might just enjoy it.

GameCast: August 20th at Los Angeles

GameCastTom Gorzelanny vs. Jeff Weaver
Story-lines

Sorry for the belated GameCast.  I think I promised Yarbage I'd write it, only to forget. 

So, the present season appears lost, although there remains time to gain ground and sneak into the post season.  Still, I doubt anybody is expecting that to happen.  But on the off chance that the Cubs are going to surprise us, then it has to entail an ass-whipping of the Dodgers.  Seriously, y'all.  Enough's enough.

Who's Hot
Theriot, Lee, Baker, and Ramirez -- it's a case of the haves and have-nots right now.  In the past week, Theriot's batted .304 in the past week, but with few walks and a crappy OPS, Lee is batting .429 with 9 RBI (granted, 7 came from one game), Baker's batting .421, and Aramis is batting .417.

Who's Not

Soriano, Fukudome, Bradley, Soto -- meet the have-nots.  These four are complimenting the others by batting .214 or lower, with Bradley bottoming out at .167.

Conclusions
At this moment the Cubs trail 2-1, with the 1 coming off the bat of Fukudome.  As I mentioned briefly in the Series Preview, this may be Gorzelanny's last start of the season for the Cubs with Zambrano soon-to-return.  Unless he makes things interesting, which he has failed to do so far.

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