Goatriders of the Apocalypse

GameCasts

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Gamecast: August 19th at Padres

GameCastRich Harden (7-7, 4.30 ERA) vs. Mat Latos (4-2, 4.01)

Story Lines
Hit the town, still dressing down
Looking for some action
Mr. Jagger said it best
He knows you never get...no satisfaction
But Mr. Dylan knows
That everyone is more or less a rolling stone
And Mr. Lennon, so quiet, knows better or so I've been told
That says it all, doesn't it?
We always want what we never get
Well listen hear, my friend
I can't continue to pretend that it's alright
'Cause that ain't right...That ain't right
I hear you're gonna make it big, rake it in
With your master plan, Mr. Hendrix understood
Those are only castles made of sand
Mr. Wilson took some pills...and I don't blame him
It's hard to be alive...Mr. Page, how he played
Mr. Drake stayed up late and made me cry
That says it all, doesn't it?
We always want what we never get
Well listen hear, my friend
I can't continue to pretend that it's alright
They've said it all haven't they?
But what I want, what I want to say
Is listen hear my friend
I can't continue to pretend that it's alright
No matter what we get
We never find our happiness
Ain't that a crime? Maybe that's why I've been told
Since I was six years old to compromise
But that ain't right...That ain't right

There is not much to say at this point. The Cubs need wins, and instead they are losing to the Padres once again. That says it all, to quote Duncan Sheik.

Who's Hot
Who cares, because the Cubs are not getting it done. I'm pretty sure I won't have a hot player here until the Cubs actually win a game.

Who's Not
Take your pick - Milton Bradley, Kosuke Fukudome Ryan Theriot, and Geovany Soto all went hitless last night.

Angel Guzman - Guz gave up an inside the park HR last night. I'm not sure what it looked like, since I didn't watch the game. Anyway, the bullpen failed to keep the game close.

Conclusions
The Cubs are four back in the loss column of the Rockies and Cardinals now. It looks like there will be no joy in Mudville, unless the Cubs win about 10 in a row.

Kurt
Just a few random thoughts tacked onto the GameCast ...

Hey everybody, let's man up and stop having this self-pity fest.  You'd think the Cubs were en route to a 100-loss season, rather than an 80-85 win season.  You'd think they were controlled by inept, disinterested ownership, full of players without a recent history of immense success, on the decline.  You'd think that this crappy downturn is unrelated to the 400+ days of time spent by Cub players on the Disabled List this year, including four starting pitchers and various key components of the starting lineup. 

You'd think a lot of things, but you wouldn't think that Cub fans were made of sterner stuff because, pardon my French, but we're all acting like a bunch of pussies. 

At this point I have no qualms with people who are ready to call 2009 a lost cause, but going negative on 2010 and beyond is just ridiculous.  Enough with the Cubbie Nihilism already!  If you can't see how dramatically better off this organization is now compared with how it looked 20, 10, or even 5 years ago, then you are so caught in your Cubbie Misery that you may be a lost cause.

Unlike these guys, who are not.  So, again: Man Up.  It's not the end of the world that 2009 isn't The Year, and it's no promise of what is to come in 2010.  Stop acting like babies.

Gamecast: August 18th at Padres

GameCast

Ryan Dempster (6-6, 4.23 ERA) vs. Cesar Carrillo (0-1, 30.86 ERA)

Story Lines
There really is not much to say about the Cubs at this point. They are on life-support and in danger of dying any minute now. While the Cardinals are winning games in late innings, the Cubs are losing in heartbreak fashion.

It looks like Kevin Gregg is out as closer, and who knows who is in. My guess is that Marmol gets the nod, but you can never know.

The Cubs will need to string together a bunch of wins to get back into the race. I'm not holding my breath.

Who's Hot
Really there isn't a reason to go here tonight, but Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez each had two hits last night. Too bad everybody else sucked.

Who's Not
Mike Fontenot/Aaron Miles - A nice big 0-for-8 last night from the middle infield. I mean, Miles and Fontento shouldn't see the lineup again any time soon.

Conclusions
The Cubs are on death's doorstep, which is tough to take as a fan. Until they are eliminated, I will keep hope, even if it is a slight hope.

Gamecast: August 17th at Padres

GameCastTed Lilly (9-7, 3.59 ERA) vs. Kevin Correia (8-9, 4.51 ERA)

Story Lines
How do you follow up a series against the Pirates? How about a trip to lovely San Diego. I spent a weekend out in San Diego, and let me tell you, it might be the best place to live in the nation. It's kind of stuck in this perfect weather situation, and I know why Brian Giles hasn't left in a trade. Nonetheless, the Pirates are another bad club. They were just swept by the Cardinals (Thanks guys). Even closer Heath Bell couldn't slam the door last night, so the Cubs find themselves five games back in the Central heading into this week.

The big news is that Ted Lilly is back from surgery and shoulder problems to once again give the Cub fans hope. It also means we will not have to see Jeff Samardijza any time soon stroll to the mound in something other than an Iowa Cubs uniform. Anybody think we should trade him while we can actually get something?

Lilly was probably the Cubs best pitcher before he got hurt, and now he needs to return to that form since the Cubs are falling faster than 2009 stock prices. In other news, Ryan Theriot is still out with some kind of stomach virus, so that means Aaron Miles gets one last start before the Cubs DFA tomorrow (Please happen, please!).

Who's Hot
Koyie Hill -
Who knew catchers need some time off? Since Geovany Soto got back, Hill's actually been kind of productive at the plate. He's hitting .400 with a .933 OPS.

Sam Fuld - Fuld's doing everything that has been asked of him, and he will probably head to Iowa once Reed Johnson gets back next week. Well, unless Alfonso Soriano comes with isuckrealbaditus this week. Fuld's .450 OBP during his lastest hot streak.

Who's Not
Alfonso Soriano - It's really too bad that Soriano caught isuckrealbaditus this year, becuase we are paying him a lot of money. He's 3 for his last 29 folks with no walks. Should we move him back to the top of the order?

Mike Fontenot - He was supposed to start yesterday, before the rainout. Maybe Lou has come to his senses and put Jeff Baker back in the lineup. Yep, Fontenot's 1 for his last 6. Top of the wish list next year, new 2B or trading Soriano? I'm guessing it's a 2B, because nobody in their right mind would take Soriano. Well, the Dodgers did take Todd Hundley once, so there is hope.

Conclusions
With the Cardinals in L.A., the Cubs really need to get a couple games this week in the standings. They flip-flop on Thursday, and the Cubs will have the tougher four-game set with the Dodgers. They need a sweep, and I suggest that they don't pitch to man named Adrian Gonzalez.

Gamecast: August 16th vs. Pirates

Ross Ohlendorf (10-8, 4.30 ERA) vs. Rich Harden (7-7, 4.30 ERA)

Story Lines

The Cubs really need to sweep here this weekend, because a trip out West looms with the Dodgers. The Cardinals are pretty close to sweeping the Padres, and the Cubs need to keep pace heading into the road trip. The Cards play three against the Dodgers, before getting a four-game series against the Padres. The Cubs luck has them playing three against the Padres, with four against the Dodgers. So, it is imperative that the Cubs find a way to club Ross Ohlendorf.

Is it possible for Ohlendorf to have 10 wins? The Pirates only have 46 wins as a team, but Ohlendorf has been able to scratch out a few W's. For the Cubs, Rich Harden heads back to the mound after a heartbreaking loss last Tuesday. Harden was perfect through five, then he gave a walk and a home run to tie the game at 2-2. Hopefully, he has the same stuff this time out and the offense gives him a little help.

The Cubs did game a .5 game in the Wild Card after the Rockies and Marlins were rained out yesterday, but they still remain in 5th place.

Who's Hot

Jeff Baker - Baker is playing 2B for the long haul it looks like. He had two RBI yesterday, including his second home run as a Cub. He's got a 1.298 OPS in his last seven games.

Geovany Soto - This might be a little early, but any news is good news right? Soto picked up two more hits yesterday after getting a hit on Friday. Hey, at this point we'll take any production we can get.

Who's Not

Alfonso Soriano - What can I say? Well, my mom raised me to think that if you don't have anything nice to say, you shouldn't say anything at all. Well, let me say that in his last seven games, Soriano has 3 hits in 29 at bats. That says it all to me.

Conclusions

The Cubs should win today. They seem to beat up on the bad teams, and run away against the good ones. Maybe a trip to San Diego will help them prepare for the Dodgers, or at least give us a little more false hope for another week.

Gamecast: August 15th vs. Pirates

GameCastZach Duke (9-10, 3.40 ERA) vs. Tom Gorzelanny (4-2, 6.23 ERA)

Story Lines

Yesterday was just what the doctor ordered. I mean, maybe it was a little overkill, but fun nonetheless. Of course taking Game 1 was a must, but Game 2 will not be easy. The Cubs have faced Duke twice this season and scored a total of five runs off him in 14 innings. They won both games, but a third time might be a bit harder if Duke is on his game.

For the Cubs, Gorzelanny heads back to the mound for, hopefully, his last start of the season. With Ted Lilly due back Monday, and Carlos Zambrano right after that, Tom will likely head to Iowa for a few weeks, or to the bullpen. We can only hope that his start in Colorado was just a bad day, because the Cubs really need to win this game.

It looks like Aramis Ramirez and Milton Bradley will be both be back in the lineup today against the Pirates. Ramirez was sent home Friday with a sore throat, and Bradley was held out with a sore hip. Good thing we didn't need either one of them today.

Who's Hot

Derrek Lee - Lee scored twice, had three hits (two doubles) and seven RBI.....in four innings. That's how bad the Pirates were yesterday. He's up to .290 on the season with 81 RBI. Not a bad season for the "washed up" Lee.

Ryan Theriot - Theriot remains on a tear after yesterday's three hit day. He pushed his average to .302.

Sam Fuld - Fuld had two hits and two walks yesterday, but somehow managed not to pick up a RBI. Fuld has been the perfect part time player for the Cubs, or maybe he should play for Alfonso Soriano.

Who's Not

Mike Fontenot/Aaron Miles -
Both guys came into the game late and went 0-for-4 combined. It looks like it is Jeff Baker the rest of the way.

Conclusions

The Cubs need to win, and beating Zach Duke a third time might give them a little momentum heading into the road trip where they will start with the Padres. Hopefully, Ramirez and Bradley bounce back tomorrow and the Cubs breeze to another victory.

Gamecast: August 14th vs. Pirates

GameCastCharlie Morton (2-5, 3.81 ERA) vs. Randy Wells (8-5, 3.01 ERA)


Story Lines

This Cubs team is finished. Toast! Well Done! ________ insert your own word, because the team that played this week is not heading to the playoffs. That being said, this Cub team is about to get some help. Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly and Aramis Ramirez should be back in the lineup soon, and that means the Cubs should play better. Does that mean the Cubs will make the playoffs? I don't have those answers, but hopefully the worst baseball of the season is behind them.

Well, who would you rather play after losing five in row? I can't think of an better opponent than the Pirates. The Bucs come to Wrigley at the prefect time to get the Cubs back on track. So, if things don't get better this weekend, they are never going to get better.

Of course, the Cubs will turn to Randy Wells, who was looking like the ROY for a time. Then, he made the trek to Coors and saw his ERA skyrocket to 3.01. All kidding aside, Wells had a bad game, which happens to everybody in Coors. Wells will try to right the ship this afternoon.

Who's Hot

Jeff Baker - Well, it looks like Mike Fontenot is not playing anytime soon thanks to Jeff Baker. Baker's only hitting .579 in his last six games with an OPS of 1.426. That's crazy hot, too bad the Cubs have sucked during that time. Overall, he is up to .275, which is a lot better than Fontenot.

Ryan Theriot - The Riot has been steady for about a week. He's hitting .406 durin his last seven games. Too bad he's only score four runs.

Who's Not

Geovany Soto - 1 for 19 in his last six games. That's pretty bad, and a bad season just got worse for our ROY.

Aaron Miles - Yeah, how long before we cut this guy? The DL stint has not helped and he has one hit since coming off the DL.


Conclusions

It is tough to be a Cub lately, but things can get better with the Pirates in town. If they get worse, we can all look forward to the new owner (hopefully) and new GM (most likely) that will revamp the team and take us to the promised land.

GameCast: August 13th vs. Phillies

GameCastCliff Lee (9-9, 2.95 ERA) vs. Ryan Dempster (6-5, 4.04 ERA)
Story-lines

The Cubs are playing desperate baseball, trying to avoid a home-series-sweep.  The Phillies were swept themselves by the Marlins just before coming to Chicago.

Cub fans are in the news again, this time for the terrible act of -- gasp! -- dumping a plastic cup of beer on the head of a Philly outfielder.  I'm just amazed that nobody has done that to Milton Bradley this season. 

Frankly, if I'm spending $6.50 on a single cup of beer, then I should be allowed to do whatever I want with it.  It's a ridiculous price for booze but even more ridiculous than that is the faux outrage of the douchebags who covered the act.  Beer spilling at ballgames is as old as beer swilling, and while it doesn't happen much anymore -- again, because of how freakin' expensive the beer is -- it's hardly the end of the world. 

Back to the game at hand, Ryan Dempster will be facing off against Cliff Lee.  Both pitchers are having underwhelming years, although Lee's still got a sub-3.00 ERA.  Considering that certain Cubs have struggled greatly against lefty pitchers -- like Fukudome -- and considering that the team in general has been struggling against everybody, I suspect this will not be the easiest game to win.

Who's Hot
Cub fans at their team -- Frustration is a part of our language.  This year looks to mark the 102nd straight season in which the team left fans feeling ANGRY, or in different terms, this marks the continuation of every year of our life so far. 

Who's Not
Lou Piniella -- Between his man-crush on Samardzija and his idiocic handling of his lineups and his bullpen, I would like to merely reiterate the previously-made statement that the Cubs might someday soon be better off with a younger manager who owns a better sense of what's happening in-game.  I'm not saying fire Lou, but I will say again that if the Cubs win this year it will be in spite of him.  He brings nothing to the table anymore.

Conclusions
Actually, so far this series has reminded me a lot of the last one the Cubs played against the Phillies (which I may have mentioned previously).  One game against a pitcher who doesn't belong in the bigs was a blow-out.  One game went to extra innings, only to be squandered because of a bullpen malfunction.  And one game ... well, we'll see.

Gamecast: August 12th vs. Phillies

GameCastPedro Martinez (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Jeff Samardzija (1-1, 6.29 ERA)
Story Lines
The Cubs need a win. After a couple weeks of beating up lower foes, the Cubs have responded by going 1-4 so far against two playoff teams. In the process, the Cubs have lost 3.5 games in the standings and once again the whole Cub Nation is on edge wondering if the Cubs will ever win again.

Ok, so that's a little bit of an hyperbole, but you get the point.

This has all the markings of a great loss on paper. Pedro Martinez makes his return, and pushes back his Hall of Fame induction by one year. For the Cubs, Smardzija makes his first career start. Hopefully, this means Jeff heads to Iowa to become a full-time starter, and the Cubs stop jerking him around.

I'm not sure what to expect from Smardzija, but I don't have high expectations. Maybe he can give us 5-6 innings of 3-run ball. That would be great. Now, the Cubs offense just needs to find a way to score some runs.

Who's Hot
Jeff Baker - It looks like Baker's trip to Colorado really paid off. He's kill the ball to the pace of a .571 average in this last six games.

Milton Bradley - Bradley came up with the big hit to tie it last night, but a HR would have been better. He did have a double as well, so we are seeing a big improvement here.

Who's Not
Geovany Soto - Eh, Lou has to move him down or something. It looks like he is no improvement over Koyie Hill as this point.

Alfonso Soriano - He did have a sac-fly last night, but that was about it. Can we all chip in a few dollars and pay off his contract, because I can't take five more years of him out in left field.

Conclusions
The race is far from over, but time is starting to be an issue. The Cubs really need to stay within 1-2 games heading into September. Also, it looks like nobody is coming to help, so get used to this group.

GameCast: August 11th vs. Phillies

GameCastRich Harden (7-7, 4.41 ERA) vs. J.A. Happ (8-2, 2.74 ERA)

Story-lines
We've got a former National League phenom (if you can give a veteran of the major leagues that title) against the '09 equivalent -- Harden battles to justify his season, Happ battles for Rookie of the Year consideration.

We've got one of the nastiest teams in the N.L. -- the defending World Champions -- against a team struggling to stay in playoff contention, coming off a road series in which "pummeled" less than describes just how badly they were beaten. 

We've got an offense full of false starts -- the Cubs collected 44 hits in their 4 game series vs. Colorado, leaving 41 men on base as a team and squandering 76 total scoring opportunities -- against a team coming off a sweep against a division rival.

In short, we've got a very interesting series that I would characterize as being considerably more important than the last one, even if the Phillies aren't direct rivals with the Cubs for the Wild Card.

Who's Hot
Hits-wise, a lot of guys.  In the past week the Cubs have five players batting .348 or better: Milton Bradley (.529), Ryan Theriot (.348), Kosuke Fukudome (.350), Koyie Hill (.417), and Jeff Baker (.444).  And yet, only one player on the team -- Fukudome has more than 3 RBI in the past 6 games.

Who's Not

Mike Fontenot -- batting .154 in his last 13 at bats -- actually has Cub fans expressing their fondest wishes for Jim Hendry to pursue Mark Grudzielanek.  It's gotten that bad.  Joining him in the cesspool of suck this week is Derrek Lee, who's batting .227  with 8 strikeouts, perhaps a significant reason why the Cubs left so many guys on base this past week. 

Conclusions
Contrary to what one reader suggested, the Cubs did not look over-matched against the Phillies last month on the road.  Still, against Happ and the mysteries of Pedro Martinez -- especially considering that Pedro's squaring off against the biggest waste of a roster space in the pitching staff this year (Jeff Samardzija) -- this series is no easy win for the Cubs.  Wouldn't it be nice for them to start off on the right foot tonight?

Gamecast: August 10th at Rockies

GameCastsTom Gorzelanny (4-1, 3.38 ERA) vs. Jorge De La Rosa (9-8, 5.00 ERA)

Story Lines
This is going to be quick, because I feel like dying after running in the 96 degree, 90 percent humidity in Atlanta, GA today.

The Cubs are watching their season go down in flames. It's over, folks, stick a fork in them, because two games is too much to hand in the NL Central. Seriously, Cub fans have to get a grip. Yes, they did look bad yesterday, but that is not really news when it comes to the Cubs. I thought coming into the series a split is what the Cubs needed against a tough foe on the road. Guess what? They can get a split tonight if Gorzelanny throws a solid game and the Cubs score a few runs against a pitcher who has a pretty high ERA.

In other news, Aramis Ramirez is likely to miss another start. This is going to be trend with him coming back from the shoulder. I wouldn't doubt that he goes under the knife this offseason.

Also, it looks like Pedro Martinez will start Wednesday against the Cubs. Should be interestesting.

Who's Hot
Milton Bradley - The good thing yesterday was the Bradley had four hits. It looks like he is well suited for the two hole. Now if Ramirez could get back and know him in. He's up to .266 now.

Koyie Hill - Hill finally got a few days off and responded with three hits to push his average to .220.

Who's Not
Alfonso Soriano - He's selfish, and can't play defense. There really is not much to say.

Jeff Stevens - He looked pretty rough yesterday by giving up four runs. Anybody think John Smoltz can fill in in the pen?

Conclusions
The Cubs are not as bad off as some of the fans would say. All it takes is a good win tonight and all is right heading into the series against the Phillies.

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