Goatriders of the Apocalypse

GameCasts

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Gamecast: October 2nd vs. Diamondbacks - Three Games Left Edition

Billy Buckner (3-6, 6.59 ERA) vs. Tom Gorzelanny (7-2, 4.20 ERA)

Story Lines

This is not going to be long and neither is the reminder of the season. The Cubs caught a break last night when the sky opened and washed away another fantasic preformance.

All kidding aside, the Cubs and D-Backs are playing for nothing. It will be interesting to see how Gorzelanny pitches as he tries to get a rotation spot for next season.

Who's Hot

Jim Tracy - Nothing like taking over a job in June and turning it into gold. The Rockies clinch a playoff spot, and it will be good for Tracy's pocketbooks next year.

Who's Not

Matt Diaz - Anybody see the great baserunning from Matt the other night? Ouch! That is a great way to lose a game. Maybe the Cubs can figure out something like that.

Conclusions

Enjoy your weekend and get ready for an interesting football weekend.

Gameccast: October 1st vs. Pirates

Pat Maholm (8-9,4.44 ERA) vs. Jeff Samardzija (1-3, 7.53 ERA) 
Story Lines

The official Wait until 2010 is underway, and I can't wait for it, because I'm sick of the 2009 bunch (except Derrek Lee). 

The Cubs looked terrible yesterday, but they get one more chance against the Pirates today. 

The Cubs are going to look at Jeff Samardzija one more time tonight. I would suspect he will get an extended look next spring, since the Cubs probably are not going to bring back Rich Harden. 

Who's Hot

Hopefully, the Cubs in 2010 

Who's Not

Kevin Gregg's rib - Looks like he's been pitching hurt for a little while.  

Conclusions

Enjoy the last couple games of 2009. I have a feeling the Cubs will make another run next year.

Gamecast: September 30th vs. Pirates

Game 1: Charlie Morton (4-9, 5.01 ERA) vs. Ted Lilly (12-8, 3.02 ERA)


Game 2: Jeff Karstens (3-5, 5.45 ERA) vs. Carlos Zambrano (9-6, 3.69 ERA)

Story Lines

Little did I know that Kevin Gregg has been shut down for the year. Wow, that is some exciting news for a team that clinched another winning season. For as bad as the Cubs seemed this year, they will probably end up with 85-87 wins. They actually would probalby win every game if they played the Pirates all the time.

Today, Ted Lilly tries to lower his ERA under 3, and Carlos Zambrano attempts to pick up his 10 win. IT looks like the Cubs will continue to shut down players this year. I find it unlikely that Aramis Ramirez gets many starts as he will need to rehab his shoulder for 2010. It will also be interesting to see how some of the other younger players react to the playing. Is Tyler Colvin the answer? I doubt it, but Jim Hendry's job will be on the line in 2010, so the Cubs should be active in the offseason.



Who's Hot

Derrek Lee - Can we get another year of Red-Hot Lee? He picked up two more RBI yesterday, and now has 111 on the season. Too bad it goes for nothing.

Sam Fuld - Fuld had three hits yesterday to raise his average to .302. Not bad for his longest stint with the Cubs.

Who's Not

The Cubs Playoff Hopes - The Cubs were officially elminated from the playoffs yesterday after the Rockies beat the Brewers. Well, I guess Next Year is the Year.

Conclusions

I haven't seen a game in about a week thanks to my moving, and dealing with floods in Georgia. I all I know is that I will be at Opening Day in 2010 in Atlanta. Who's with me? 

GameCast: Sept. 29th vs. Pirates

GameCastKevin Hart (4-8, 5.38 ERA) vs. Ryan Dempster (10-8, 3.68)

Story-lines
The Cubs are down to their last seven games and if they wanted to finish things on a high note, then they couldn't have thought of an easier schedule to end the season -- they've got four against the 59-96 Pirates, and then 3 more against the 68-88 D-Backs.  Not that things have gotten any less weird in Crazyville.

On the pitching staff, Kevin Gregg has been mercifully shut down.  Like a scene from Holy Grail, Gregg tried his hardest to assure the Cubs that he wasn't quite hurt, that he felt like going for a toss now, but they overruled him nonetheless and have sent him home for the season -- and, hopefully, for his career in Chicago.  At the same time, Carlos Zambrano has threatened retirement because of his crappy season.  Think about it.  He might finish the year with 10 wins and a mid-3.00's ERA, or essentially the same numbers as Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells, and he considers it such a disappointment that he doesn't want to live through another ordeal of sucking that badly.

Damn.  Maybe he's got the ol' Ace Mentality after all.

Speaking of mentality, or at least of mental, we've been shocked to see Lou Piniella drop heavy hints that Milton Bradley's future in Chicago is a very short one.  Lou wants the Cubs to go out and pursue an RBI producer, citing his disappointment in Bradley for failing to live up to the team's expectations.  And before somebody throws out the whole "you can't drive 'em in if they aren't on base" line again, let's not forget that Milton Bradley batted something like .220 with runners on base. 

And finally, I've come up with the perfect solution for dumping Milton.  It seems certain that the Cubs'll have to pretty much pay for his contract no matter what.  I would like to officially propose that the team offer him on their dime to any independently-owned minor league team that would take him.  It would be the modern day equivalent of ruining a player's career by trading for and then benching him, and it would be only fitting for Bradley to get banished to baseball purgatory for his so-called mental disease.

Of course, this would only be a last-ditch option, if there are no big-league takers.  Still, I think it would be somehow fitting.

GameCast: September 27th at San Francisco

GamecastRandy Wells (11-9, 3.00 ERA) vs. Matt Cain (13-7, 2.99 ERA)

Story-lines
How impressive has Randy Wells been?  Look at the very basic line comparing him with Matt Cain -- probably any team in baseball would take the Giants stud without qualms, but in reality his numbers are no better than Randy's.  Perhaps Wells has been even better than we give him credit for.

Probing deeper, let's compare exactly how well Randy is doing pound-for-pound through the amazing power of projections.

Matt Cain -- through 204.2 innings -- 13-7, 175 hits, 22 HR, 70 BB, 158 SO, 1.20 WHIP.
Randy Wells -- projected through 204.2 innings -- 15-12, 203 hits, 19 HR, 54 BB, 124 SO, 1.27 WHIP

Not bad, not bad at all. 

Now, one of the most interesting questions we'll be asking this off season is whether or not Wells is a one-year-wonder, or if he is a future staple in the Cubs rotation.  Jim Hendry -- should he be back next year -- will be taking a fairly big roll of the dice in assuming that both Randy and lefty Tom Gorzelanny are big league material. 

Regardless, he is very close to having -- minus the 20 strikeout game and high SO totals -- a comparable-if-not-better rookie season than Kerry Wood in 1998.  And he is now poised to finish an improbable sweep of the Giants while cementing the Cubs third consecutive winning season -- and sixth of the decade -- not that it means too much.

The funny thing to me is that there have been a fairly large number of hardcore fans -- and some bloggers -- who have hated this season, who are practically giving up on the franchise because of this season, but all things considered this year has mostly just been mundane.  It hasn't been horrible, it hasn't been great. All it has been is average at a time when we want anything but.  Really, that's not so bad, and it's on par with my expectations of the Cubs organization.  They won't reach the playoffs every year, but they should compete.  Even Yankee fans couldn't ask for much more than that.

GameCast: September 26th at San Francisco

GameCastTom Gorzelanny (6-2, 5.08 ERA) vs. Barry Zito (10-12, 3.99 ERA)

Story-lines
15 wins, 9 losses.  That's the Cubs record so far in September.  Of course, we all know it came too little, too late, hot on the heels of a morbid 11-17 August. 

Maybe it's because there's no pressure anymore.  Maybe it's because this is how the Cubs should've been playing all along.  Or maybe that's just it -- without the pressure, the Cubs are playing up to their talent level.  Whatever it is, Chicago is two wins away from finishing at .500 for the third straight year, and it looks as if they will have completely squashed the Giants' playoff hopes along the way.

Hey, we'll take it. 

Last night we saw a reminder about why we love Big Z.  He outpitched his opponents, he outhit them, and between innings he very well may have saved a small child from a burning building somewhere.  It was just one of those nights for Carlos, one of those tantalizing, why-can't-he-do-this-all-the-time nights. 

We've argued it back and forth here, but I'm pretty sure GROTA is unified in wanting Zambrano to return next season.  Even Rob never said he wanted the Moose gone, he just felt -- understandably -- that Zambrano's not the Roy Halladay of the Cubs.  Because he's not.  If he ever writes a follow-up to his smashingly successful auto-biography, he can probably title it Too Volatile to Win 20, the Carlos Zambrano Story.  But on a solid team with 5 pitchers who will more often than not win their games, we can probably live with the knowledge that Carlos will have his seasonal ups and downs but will always, always buckle down and be there to win games in October.  Lest we forget that he's served the role of "ace" on more playoff Cub teams than any other Cub living or even recently dead.

Back to the game at hand, Barry Zito used to be an ace and Tom Gorzelanny wants to pitch us his belief that he can start next year.  We get to find out how likely his chances might be in just 30 minutes or so.  Go Cubs.

GameCast: September 25th at San Francisco

GameCastCarlos Zambrano (8-6, 3.91 ERA) vs. Tim Lincecum (14-6, 2.47 ERA)

Story-lines
Ah, Carlos Zambrano.  What a shiz-with-a-"z" season you've had.  For the second consecutive year, you've thrown under 200 innings -- this year you'll probably top out at around 170.  You also, for the second straight year, went winless in August.  Not to mention the fact that you have walked more guys this year already than you did in all of last season, despite having tossed 32 fewer innings so far.

In other words, folks, this is not a shining season for Zambrano.  And rather than ponder whether or not he will demand a trade, perhaps we should instead be worrying about his inevitable arm injury and whether or not he'll ever have even a single season that justifies his massive contract.  My thoughts are that he will, because Carlos Zambrano is just that tough.

But, you know, I could be wrong about that.  Still, I do know one thing: the Giants are a tough team, and they are turning to one of their best pitchers tonight.  If Carlos wants to avoid any chance of finishing the year with an embarrassing 8-8 record -- a possibility -- then he'll need to hunker down and out-duel an ace tonight.

GameCast: September 23rd at Milwaukee: Sweep Edition

GamecastJeff Samardzija (1-2, 7.89 ERA) vs. Chris Narveson (1-0, 4.22 ERA)

Story-lines
Maybe there's something to this concept that a team plays better when it need not keep a watchful eye on the piece of shit right fielder whose negative attitude festered in the clubhouse all year long.  (I'm speaking rhetorically, of course.) 

Or, maybe the Cubs have taken a page out of Milton Bradley's book and now that they have nothing to win, they're playing like the loose team they haven't been all season long.  Or maybe the Brewers just suck that badly.  Regardless of why, the Cubs are on the verge of a rare road series sweep, although Lou has decided to play roulette by handing the ball over to Jeff Samardzija. 

Speaking of everybody's favorite mentally ill professional athlete, Milton Bradley's mother has been speaking to the media lately.  This is perfectly normal behavior for a man over the age of 30. 

She wants you to know that Milton's son, who is apparently the only 3-year-old in all of Chicago to be enrolled in school, has been the victim of racial taunts and slurs from his classmates and teachers this past summer.  Apparently, in this society in which teachers live on egg shells -- especially when it comes to their behavior with their students -- Milton's kid has been getting called all sorts of inappropriate names. 

One guy I know thinks we should go easy on Bradley because he is clearly mentally ill.  It's an interesting point, but there's a huge depth of difference between a fan like me calling him a nutjob and him being clinically diagnosed as having anything more than the world's biggest chip on his shoulder.  Still, if Milton would consider getting help, I would fully support it and welcome him back to his second chance in Chicago.  (Which his mother says he's open for, if the Cubs want him.) 

But back in the land of reality, where it is not acceptable for your mother to speak on your behalf if you are a grown adult, I'm very curious to see where Milton winds up -- because he's going to be headed somewhere.  Maybe Cincinnati, since Dusty always wanted a crack at managing him, or more likely a city where they don't care how you play like D.C.  Either way, Milton's done.

GameCast: September 22nd at Milwaukee

GameCastRandy Wells (10-9, 3.06 ERA) vs. Dave Bush (5-7, 5.88 ERA)

Story-lines
After delivering an unholy ass-whupping on the Brewers last night, faded Rookie of the Year candidate Randy Wells will vie for his 11th win of the season against Brewers punching bag Dave Bush.

Wells has been pretty erratic the last few starts, although I'm impressed to note that he's actually having a better month ERA-wise than he did in August (3.10 to last month's 3.70). 

I'm still trying to figure out if Wells is the real deal.  He turned 27 a few weeks ago, which makes him a late bloomer, and his strikeout totals are a very unCub-like 5.39 per 9 innings.  Still, he's strung together a very effective season and has obviously earned a justified chance to start in the rotation next season as well.  Which isn't to say he won't get lit up tonight worse than a bum with a fresh bottle of anti-freeze at hand.

So far in 2009, Randy's record against Milwaukee is 0-1 in 2 starts with a 5.00 ERA in 9.0 innings of work.  But even if the Brewers tee off on him like it's batting practice, the Cubs will have no excuse not to respond in kind -- Dave Bush isn't exactly the poster child for Cy Young candidates. 

Anyway, since we can no longer have the expectation of a Cubs playoff appearance, we will now focus on how they are 5 wins away from their third straight winning season.  In fact, they can go 5-8 the rest of the way and still finish with 82 wins ... for whatever that's worth, which isn't much. 

GameCast: Sept. 21st at Milwaukee

GameCastTom Gorzelanny (5-2, 5.29 ERA) vs. Braden Looper (13-6, 4.89 ERA)

Story-lines
And so the death march continues.  The humanist in me thinks it would be wrong to compare this season to a genocidal march that wiped out a vast and horrifying number of native Americans, and yet passing up on the opportunity to call the remaining road games of this season the Trail of Tears would be too much for me.  Still, I know it's in bad taste.

Faustus posted a link in the ShoutBox (what's that?  You can't see the ShoutBox anymore?  Try to log in, dumb-ass) which mentioned the willingness of Carlos Zambrano to pitch in Los Angeles, Boston, or across town.  If Carlos winds up flaming out and leaving the Cubs in disgust, I will make it my personal mission to ruin every attacking member of the Chicago media.  Guys -- stop destroying beautiful things.  There are plenty of news-worthy things to slag, you don't need to chase the good and colorful ones out of town.

Ignoring the now totally eliminated playoff hopes, the Cubs still have a good chance of finishing with a winning record for the third season in a row.  That would be their first time doing that since back when bell-bottoms were still popular and Ron Santo had both his legs.  It's an extremely small, ultimately pointless consolation prize, but it's still better than being the Pirates.

Anyway, Tom Gorzelanny has a fair chance of being a starter next year.  Braden Looper often pitches with a gas can located on the mound.  This should be a winnable game, and the recently-put-asleep offense has a chance of waking up. 

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