Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Cubs

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/managed/grota/drupal/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 33.

Gamecast: June 15, 2010, PT Barnum's Athletics at Cubs

Trevor Cahill (5-2, 2.91) vs. Big Z (2-4, 6.05)

Overview
Well kids, at least we got one against those pesky White Sox.  And in what fashion.  We may just spill our winning ways into the gulf of baseball and claim that BP Cup afterall.  I feel like I am beating a dead horse (not nearly as fun as a pinata due to the lack of candy) but the Cubs go as far as their offense.  The good news is, the A's are close to anemic in terms of offense as well. 

One sign of the A's desperation for a bat, they have traded for King Valley Fever (not as cool as Disco Fever), Conor Jackson to add to their OF rotation.  CoJack has had a hard time establishing exactly what type of player he is, batting anywhere from leadoff to cleanup... and hitting about .238 on the year.

Who's Hot
Marlon Byrd- 
Marlon seems to have his bat back after a brief hiatus.  Over his past 7, Byrd is batting .500 with 2 HR and an .889 SLG.  Gotta love it when he is going. 

Who's Not
John Grabow
- Well, he had a rehab start, meaning he's on track to make it to the club.  Bad news... he got lit up.  Badly.  Even minor leaguers are torching the guy. Can we get a do over on that contract?

Conclusion
On paper this should be a struggle to plate a run.  Maybe we can have a second pitcher flirt with a no-hitter tonight.  I'll be there working my magic and hoping I don't get poured on, so I'll keep you posted as best as my phone internet will allow me to.  And as I finish this it starts pouring...awesome.

Reader Blog: Week ten awards: The fat lady has cleared her throat

Well, at least one of the Chicago baseball teams got back on track this weekend.


Wait, that doesn't provide me any solace--I hate the Sox! Leave it to the Cubs to get the struggling South siders rolling again. Mark Buehrle's been struggling, hasn't gone more than 5.1 in his last three starts? No problem! A.J. Pierzynski can't hit the broad side of a barn? Take a crack at the Cubs' staff! Gavin Floyd has the worst ERA in the majors? No worries--how does a no-hitter through 6.2 sound?


After a 3-4 week in which the Cubs sank to a season-low eight games under .500, they're 7.5 back of the Reds after getting a game back with yesterday's exciting win. The Sox are the same number back of the Twins and have Detroit to chase down as well, so it's safe to say Chicago baseball isn't as good as, say, Chicago hockey.


After Lou's tirade against Steve Stone, it looks like he may have finally glanced at the stat sheet. He said yesterday that Colvin "is going to play a lot more than he has been" even though the same suggestion from Stone elicited a tirade in which he said "What job has [Stone] had in baseball besides talking on television or radio? What has he done? ... I'm tired of these guys, I really am." 


But the fact is, though Colvin went 0-for-3 yesterday, all he's done the last 15 times Lou started him is go 19-for-48 (.396). And one of Lou's "five major league outfielders" is hitting .185 in June after hitting .253 in May. This slump was as predictable as the sunrise since it has happened all three years he's been a Cub. I'm talking, of course, about Kosuke Fukudome. Both Colvin and Fukudome are left-handed and, conveniently, one of them sucks and one of them is good along with being an important piece of the team's future. So apparently Lou is able to take suggestions, just not without yelling at the person first.


Although, I'll believe it when I see it since Lou also said on June 5 that Colvin would "be in the lineup most of the time," and he then sat four straight games June 9-12. Lou's change of heart back on the 5th, you'll recall, was after a reporter asked about Colvin's playing time and he snapped at him, too. Sigh.


Ryno of the Week: Obviously Ted Lilly, who would have been 2-0 were it not for Marmol's blown save in Milwaukee. He threw 16 innings and allowed just one run on five hits and one walk. He also struck out 11 and thrilled a wet crowd at Wrigley by taking a no-hitter into the ninth (more on that tomorrow). Ex-Cub Juan Pierre kept him out of the history books but it was still a fantastic week for Theodore Roosevelt Lilly.


Marlon Byrd gets a special mention after a ridiculous 13-for-26 week that included two home runs and five RBI. He's batting .333 on the season.


Honorable mentions: Geovany Soto, Jeff Baker


Goat of the Week: Though he doubled and scored the only run yesterday, Alfonso Soriano was still just 2-for-20 last week. He's in one of those funks where he's swinging at just about everything, and he's now batting .111 in June.


I have to say, it was almost as if James Russell was trying to win this fake award. In two appearances he went 1+ innings and allowed five earned runs on seven hits, good for a 45.00 ERA. He was summarily sent to Triple-A Iowa.


Dishonorable mentions: Derrek Lee, Kosuke Fukudome

The Cubs have lost a couple (Game Recaps, etc)

Not even Carlos Silva could stop the Cubs' most recent slide.

He certainly tried his best, and pitched well enough to win for most teams: seven innings, six strikeouts, and just two runs allowed. Andrew Cashner and Carlos Marmol each contributed a scoreless inning of relief to the Cubs' pitching effort, as well.

But Mark Buehrle and the White Sox were better. And now, in two games, the Cubs have lost a 10-5 shootout and a 2-1 pitcher's duel.

Strange that the Cubs were only able to score one run in their more recent loss when the leadoff man went 3-for-5 and their cleanup hitter was 3-for-4 -- except, not really strange at all, because this is the Cubs we're talking about.

Speaking of which: this is what Rob and I are talking about when we don't buy your optimistic analyses, Sayers. Of course, I encourage you to continue carrying the banner for us all, and I appreciate your enthusiasm, I truly do. But with Derrek Lee going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, Alfonso Soriano posting the same line, and Chad Tracy striking out in both of his at-bats, where do you see the unlucky break for the Cubs? It's one thing to aggregate stats and say the 10% should really be a 40%, but I see nothing on the field of play to suggest the Cubs are suffering from just some bad breaks.

And now the Cubs are eight games back from .500. We're about to be enter "Root for one player" mode, where instead of getting pissed off every other day about another stoopid loss, you pick your favorite guy and track his stats independently.

Game on ESPN tonight. Can we prevent the sweep?

Gotta play defense. (Game Recap: Cubs 4, Brewers 5)

For this team to win, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez have to find a way to produce with the bat.

It's not that the team won't score every once in a while without them. Clearly, we have some good hitters elsewhere on the roster. But when Lee and A-Ram are out, that means Xavier Nady and Chad Tracy are in on the corners.

Tracy's bad throw allowed Rickie Weeks to score on the botched rundown, and Nady's high throw into the stands allowed Carlos Gomez to score on the final play of the game.

Ryan Dempster wasn't very good either. Again, a Cub starter walked five Brewers yesterday. Also, Tom Gorzelanny sucks at pitching from out of the bullpen.

Nine walks, three unearned runs, really makes you proud to be a Cubs fan doesn't it!

Laaaaame.

Gamecast: Cubs at Brewers (June 10, 2010)

Ryan Dempster (4-5, 3.76) vs. Dave Bush (1-5, 4.97)

Overview
Well, it was nice to see an offensive outburts last night.  Luckily it was the nationally televised game for documentation purposes, because I am pretty sure that no one in Chicago was actually watching that game.  The big story for the day is that the Cubs are marching out the bench, which means wonderfully quirky lineups that include Chad Tracy as a cleanup hitter.  No, I don't get it either.  But hey, we won last night, so for now, Lou is a genius again.

Cubs look to get back on track and get a series win while picking up ground on the recently-swept Cardinals.  With Dave Bush on the rubber, that is a strong possibilty.

Who's Hot
Byrd and Soto:
  Both went yard twice last night and the Cubs had a total of 5 HR.  Byrd has been particularly hot and is hitting .481 on the month.

Who's Not
Ryan Theriot's ability to get on base
-  He just bugs me.  He swings in situations he shouldn't, he just recently figured out what a walk is, and has averaged 1 extra base hit in the past two months.

Conclusion
Home Run Derby.  Preferably one sided and only including Cubs hitters.

Wait, we won? (Game Recap: Cubs 9, Brewers 4)

Props to the bats in last night's game. The Cubs can actually hit -- who knew!

In particular, Marlon Byrd and Geovany Soto can hit. Each had two home runs. Derrek Lee added one of his own to give the Cubs five taters against Brewers starter Randy Wolf.

Geovany Soto is now hitting .269/.406/.463 on the season, with seven home runs. He's within striking distance of the .285/.364/.504 he hit in 2008.

Marlon Byrd is leading the NL in batting average, and has 21 doubles and nine home runs. And 34 RBI. And four steals. Very nice, Marlon.

And Derrek Lee's home run last night was a big one -- the 300th of his career. Bravo to that guy. Here's to his continuing to figure out how to get going again this season.

Carlos "The Starter" Zambrano got the win last night, giving up just two hits over five innings. Except actually, he wasn't very dominant: five walks, a HBP, and just two strikeouts. And one of the two hits he gave up was a two-run double to Randy Wolf. Oh well, it was good enough.

Kudos to Andrew Cashner for posting two shut down innings in relief. It's feeling like this team FINALLY has the last three innings of the ball game covered with Cashner, Marshall, and Marmol (all 100% Chicago Cubs products, I might add).

So, yeah: Hooray!

Gamecast: Cubs at Brewers, June 9, 2010

Carlos Zambrano (1-4, 6.14 ERA) vs. Randy Wolf (4-5, 4.66 ERA)

Overview
Well, that sucked.  Ted Lilly once again got screwed from a win, this time by someone other than himself.  The Cubs look to even the series up tonight with Big Z, a man very familiar with the comforts of Miller Park.  Including his no-hitter, which wasn't against the Brewers, Z is 4-0 with a 1.96 ERA in his last five starts at Miller Park.  Z faced the Brewers at Wrigley on April 15 and gave up four runs in five innings.  I expect a much more consistent (oxymoron?!) Z tonight than the one we saw in April, or even his last start, for that matter.

As I stated in my Series Preview, Wolf is one of those guys that seems to give us trouble.  Luckily, he's had the affinity to help other teams "clog the bases" this season.  If the Cubs can show a little patience, I think they can see their bats awaken for a few crooked numbers tonight.

Who's Hot
Lou Piniella-
This is more a hope than anything.  I'd like to see him light a fire under someone.  Anyone.  I'm kind of tired of his lack of fire and inability to speak cohesively in a press conference.

Who's Cold
The Cubs- 
Dropped 6 of the last 8.  Hard to point at one particular person when they whole team is sort of letting you down.

Conclusion
Polish will win the sausage race.  Also, the Cubs will win.

Series Preview: Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers, June 8-10, 2010

Series Preview
As a former resident of Milwaukee, I came to really enjoy when the Cubs play the Brewers (or at play in Miller Park).  Brewers fans are like a more naive version of Cubs fans with even shorter fuses and tolerence for their players (See: Corey Hart, Mat Gamel, JJ Hardy, anyone that's ever pitched there not named CC Sabbathia).  At 5-1 on the season against the Brewers so far, apparently the Cubs really like playing Milwaukee as well.

The Brewers have been struggling a lot this year, even when compared to our ballclub.  Outside of their ace, Gallardo, the pitching staff lacks an identity.  The team just dumped Jeff Suppan (about 2 years too late...).  The bullpen is even worse, with future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman unable to nail a game down they Crew has turned their hopes to journeyman John Axford to close out games.  The Cubs hope to continue these woes and get themselves back on track as well.

The Matchups

Tuesday, June 8, 2010: Ted Lilly (1-5, 3.61) vs. Yovani Gallardo (6-2, 2.64)
Whenever I think of Yovani Gallardo, all I can think of is the billboard of him near my old place telling me in Spanish to get my swine flu vaccination.  He may not have swine flu, but he is pitching like he's got something lately.  Over his last 10 starts, Gallardo has gone 6-0 with a 1.86 ERA.  Much of this success can be attributed to the fact he is walking fewer batters and staying in the zone.  Gallardo really is an "ace" with good stuff so long as he can control it.  The best way to get at him is by forcing him to come out of the stretch with men on base and by working the count in order to get his pitch count up (and hopefully, him out of the game earlier)

Lilly has been pretty good lately as well, producing five straight quality starts.  His last outing against the Pirates seemed to be smooth sailing until he was bit by a Neil Walker home run in the eighth inning and handed the loss.  Regardless, Lilly has looked better and better in each successive start.  I expect to see more of the same out of him in Milwaukee.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010: Carlos Zambrano (1-4, 6.14) vs. Randy Wolf (4-5, 4.66)
The Wolf Pack has really been off his game this season.  Most of the struggles he has stems from the fact that his walk rate is much higher this year.  Despite only issuing 1.7 free passes a game last year, he has walked at least four batters in three of his last four starts.  While most teams would see a pitcher like Wolf and pounce on the opportunity to face him at this juncture, the crafty lefty is one of those guys that always seems to give Cubs hitters fits.  Hopefully Jaramillo preaches patience Wednesday night.

Big Z likes to pitch in Milwaukee.  Hopefully he can continue his success in the ballpark in his second start since coming out of his bullpen role.  I personally think there are going to be some growing pains, just as there were with Lilly coming back, but that Z will get a little bit better each start.  I guess we will see if my prediction is correct on Wednesday.

Thursday, June 10, 2010: Ryan Dempster (4-5, 3.76) vs. Dave Bush (1-5, 4.97)
Dave Bush makes me smile when I see him as a probable.  He was taken out of the rotation last week, and then put back in it this week after the Suppan DFA.  When I think of Bush, I think of the home run ball.  I think someone is going to win $1000 from the back to back jacks game on Thursday.  Just a prediction.

Dempster is coming off a quality start and some actual run support that finally let him get a W.  It seems that the home run ball is also back to being relevant for Ryan, so it will be key for him to avoid walks during the game.  Honestly, this game has the makings of a home run derby 10-9 type game.

Conclusion
I think the Cubs take 2/3.  I like our pitching over theirs, and their pitching is "good" enough to let us run into a few runs.

Buy Chicago sports tickets for road games and at Wrigley Field at Coast to Coast Tickets!

All hail King Silva! (Game Recap: Cubs 6, Pirates 1)

Book it: Carlos Silva is 8-0 to start the 2010 season.

And while plenty of stathead baseball types think the win is an overrated stat, it seems as though Silva has truly been earning each and every one this season. No exception today, as Carlos pitched seven innings, gave up four hits and just one walk, and struck out five.

His ERA for the season sits at 2.93, an incredible number for him.

At what point does a competitor call Jim Hendry about Silva's availability? I'd still trade him if it were me: the 2010 club simply isn't any good, and the $10+ million he's owed in 2011 could be used to nab a premier first baseman in 2012 (coughprincefieldercough).

On offense, the MVPTG ("of Today's Game", that is) award goes to Ryan Theriot, who stole third, smacked a leadoff double to go with a single, and also walked twice, scoring four times on the day. Bravo, kid; make yourself look good for the trade deadline.

Two other Cubs had multiple hits today, so kudos to Marlon Byrd and Geo Soto. But they get their gold stars taken right back away for some poor base running early in the game. Idiots.

Starlin Castro went 0-for-3 and is now hitting .272 on the season. It's pretty much 100% likely that he'll end up with an average below .250 rather than above it, right?

Cubs win, scoring a good chunk of runs against a terrible pitcher as presented by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hey, there's a first time for everything!

Gamecast: Cubs at Pirates (June 7, 2010)

Carlos Silva (7-0, 3.12) vs. Dana Eveland (3-4, 6.45)

Overview
The Cubs head back to Pittsburgh to see if they can at least salvage a game in this "series" that was extended because of a rainout.  Although it doesn't have as much draw as the "Z Returns" headline this game originally had, today the Cubs will feature a pitcher that has to be considered "ace-like" for the staff so far in terms of his results.  Silva's success this season is demonstrated by his record, and he hopes to keep it up today.

The only other real headline for this game is just how much the Pirates have owned the Cubs this year.  This is a very big swing from last year, and hopefully one the Cubs can rectify with a win today.

Theriot will once again be in the leadoff spot with Baker at 3B and Xavier Nady patrolling Right Field.  Maybe Theriot gets a walk again.  Who knows... I'm dreaming big.

Hot/Not
Still on hold until I see some sort of sustained success from a Cubs player.  This will likely be active tomorrow.  I need to just start finding exciting news about Cubs players that is worthwhile putting here.

Conclusion
Can the Cubs shake the Pirates hold on domination over them?  We will see.  Most importantly, what do you want to see this lineup do today? 

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award