The Cubs are trying to claw their way back to .500 today against the Milwaukee Brewers today. It would be the first time all season the Cubs have made it back to .500 all season after the opending day loss to the Atlanta Braves.
More importantly, it marks Randy Wells' second start on his way to a Cy Young this season. Oh, I can dream since I just spent $11 on Wells in a deep NL-Only auction on Saturday (In my defense, I did have a ton of money to spend and it was after I picked up Ryan Bruan and Adrian Gonzalez). So, I really need Wells to pitch well to justify the dollar amount.
Well, back on topic now. The Cubs offense finally broke out on Monday to the tune of nine runs, which was fueled by home runs by Jeff Baker, Xavier Nady and Aramis Ramirez. It was good to see some of the other guys get going as well. It will interesting to see how they continue to hit this week.
In other news, it looks like Derrek Lee is day-to-day with a thumb injury. Apparently he injured it back in Atlanta and it was bad enough for him to come out of the game yesterday. At the time it looked as if the Cubs would cruise to a win, but the pitching staff had to make things interesting.
The Cubs called up right-handed pitcher Jeff Gray from Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday and placed right-handed reliever Esmailan Caridad on the 15-day disabled list because of a right-forearm strain.
The injury to Caridad, who has struggled in the setup role during the season's first week, is not considered serious.
Meanwhile, Xavier Nady is replacing first baseman Derrek Lee in the lineup for the Cubs (3-4), who will host the Milwaukee Brewers (3-4) at 1:20 p.m. Lee injured his right thumb Monday in the Cubs' 9-5 victory, which was sparked by Nady's three-run homer. Aramis Ramirez will bat third in the order.
Xavier Nady - With Lee on the mend with a thumb, Nady becomes very important. He's 3 for 7 so far with a HR and four RBI.
Kosuke Fukudome - Hitting .400...check....OPS over 1.000...check...HR...check...bunch of walks....wait..One walk? We'll see if it continues.
Tyler Colvin - He's got one hit so far and really needs some at bats in AAA to continue his development.
I don't know about you, but I could use a win today. With the Astros coming into town this weekend, it's time to run up a winning streak.
Just when we think that the offense is a shell, the Cubs delivered an epic opening day victory against Doug Davis and the Brewers. But before we get too excited -- it was Doug Davis. And the Brewers. Just sayin'.
Offensively, the Cubs took the game thanks in part to a solid, all-around thrashing of Doug. Ryan Theriot finished the day with a hit and a walk. Marlon Byrd went 3 for 5, raising his AVG to .208. Aramis Ramirez delivered his second homerun of the season in the 4th, a 2 run shot that more-than put the game out of reach. Even Alfonso Soriano collected 2 hits behind Xavier Nady, who went 2 for 4 with a 2 out, 3-run homerun in the 3rd inning.
All told, the Cubs collected 13 hits en route to a massacre at Wrigley. Not that Ryan Dempster didn't try his best to cost the team the game.
Clownsevelt managed to pitch into the 7th, but he gave up 5 earned runs and walked 4 in the process. He was mostly effective at maintaining control of the Brewers, except for when Ryan Braun faced him. Braun was responsible for 4 of Milwaukee's 5 runs. Dempster Pwnage. He was effectively relieved by James Russell, Jeff Samardzija, and Carlos Marmol (yes, that's right, Jeffy Spellcheck himself pitched and pitched well).
The Cubs have tomorrow off before resuming play against the Brewers on Wednesday. Look on the bright side, Goat Readers, Chicago is now 3-4.
The Cubs try to right the ship after a fairly disastrous 2-4 stretch to open the season. Quite honestly, with as much that has gone wrong in the first 6 games, they should be happy with that 2-4 mark. The bullpen has more or less been a trainwreck, the hitting (and moreso clutch hitting - depending on whether you believe such a thing exists) has been putrid, and even the defense has been shaky.
Ryan Dempster was one of the bright spots of the road trip, going 6 strong innings last time out, in a game where the team desperately needed that kind of outing following Zambrano's season-opening debacle. Demp struck out 9 last Wednesday, but we know how that one ended, courtesy a John Grabow meatball to Chipper Jones.
The Brewers come into Chicago with a 3-3 mark, having split their first 6 games, all at home. The last of those games was an 8-7 win over the Redbirds last night in a game that went well past 10:00PM local time. Obviously, it's not a long trip from Milwaukee to Chicago, but with only 14 hours between games, and a commute sandwiched in there..perhaps they'll be sluggish today.
Doug Davis is one of those pitchers that always seems to give the Cubs fits. He works at a Trachselian pace, and those patient (ahem) Cubs hitters don't do well with slow pitchers. Plus, he's a junk-balling lefty...add it up and you have a recipe for success against the Cubs offense of late. Davis has a career 9-6 mark with a 3.20 ERA against the Northsiders, including 2 gems last year.
The Cubs starting pitching - 5 nice starts in a row, stretching back to Dempster's start last Wednesday. The Cubs could really use that mark to head to 6 after this afternoon.
Good God, take your pick. Soriano can't catch or hit. It can't be this bad permanently, right? Grabow continues to show that he can't be trusted in high leverage situations. Problem is, who outside of Marmol and Marshall (and he might be needed in long relief) can be? The 4-5-6 section of the lineup had a TERRIBLE series in Cincy. They need to wake up, stat.
Not sure why, but I feel good about this one. I think the bats wake up, and we see a lot of runs scored on both sides today, with the Cubs getting a much needed win.
Keep the faith.
After falling off to a 2-4 start, the Cubs head home to do battle with their inter-division rivals, the Milwaukee Brewers. This should be an extremely exciting series of high scoring games, agonizing defeats, and fan-felt rage and frustration. In other words, the Cubs are boned.
Or maybe not. But it's hard to miss the fact that Chicago is already falling into old, bad habits. Last year when they started out looking like a shined-up turd, this blog in general -- and this writer in particular -- took the cautious, realistic approach. I said that, sure, our hitters are struggling, but we all knew that players like Bradley, Soto, and Fontenot wouldn't continue to suck all year long.
Turns out I was sorta wrong about that.
Therefore, while I am extremely confident that Ryan Theriot, Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, and Geovany Soto are all better than sub-.200 hitters, and while I have little doubt that any offensive struggles so far are not reflective of how well the team will hit once those guys start putting wood to rubber, I will not play the cautious realist this time. If you want to tap dance on the ledge, and act all butt-hurt every time the team plays like they belong in an American Legion softball league, go right ahead. I've learned my lesson.
...but I'm not really worried just yet.
Anyway, I do not have time to write any of the match-ups for the coming series except for the first one. Either AJ can step in and write the latter two, or I'll do it when I get home tonight. But here's what's relevant to today:
Ryan Dempster (0-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Doug Davis (0-0, 9.00 ERA)
If ever the Cubs had a chance to a) shut down their opponents and b) explode offensively, then today is the day. Dempster is probably not worth his big ol' contract, but he's got some good games left in his surgically-fortified arm.
Doug Davis, meanwhile, is 15-22 in his last 2 seasons, hasn't gotten his ERA to below 4 since his last tour of duty with Milwaukee back in 2005, got his ass kicked royally in his first game of the season, and is cruisin' for another bruisin' tonight against a hurting, hungry Cubs offense.
We'll get you the other match-ups for the series later today. Feel free to visit us again.
The Milton Bradley saga continues! After Jim Hendry suspended him for the remainder of the '09 campaign, there was some talk that the union would contest it. But then - then! - the Cubs decided not to withhold the $400,000 Bradley would have been set to lose, and so Milton and the union have accepted it without complaint.
At the same time, M.B. issued an apology to the team and fans. I think that if he was sincere in his sorrow, then he would indeed admit he does not deserve the $400k still owed to him. I and a lot of Cub fans would have respect for the man if he actually ask Jim to keep the money that he has not earned. Or better yet -- if he was a smart worker, he would take that remaining cash and donate it to a couple of major charities (perhaps even Cubs Care) as a way of winning over the fans.
No matter what, Bradley needs to start the healing if he means to play in Chicago next year, and cheap words will not get it done. A gesture like a $400k donation, and perhaps seeking psychiatric help, would go a very long way.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand -- the Cubs failed to sweep Milwaukee, although it wasn't due to the better effort of Jeff Samardzija. The Shark shocked me by pitching 5 innings, allowing 5 hits, 1 walk, striking out 3, and allowing 3 runs off of 2 homers. He also hit a homer himself, although his offensive stroke was about all the Cubs had tonight.
Thus, the Cubs failed to sweep. Still, they're only 4 wins away from finishing at .500. It's gonna hai!
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.
(with the graphic hopefully coming soon)
In yesterday's GameCast, I wrote that a gassed-out Randy Wells might "get lit up tonight worse than a bum with a fresh bottle of anti-freeze at hand." Wells responded by pitching 6 innings, allowing 7 hits, walking 0, and striking out 5 while surrendering only 1 earned run.
Wells now looks certain to finish the year with a winning record and has a shot at hitting 12 wins on the season, which means he now has a good shot of finishing the year with more wins than his ROY competition in JA Happ. But upon further review, Happ is having a helluvayear. They've both pitched about 153 innings; Happ has surrendered 130 hits to Randy's 152, but he's walked 52 to Randy's 43, and Happ has 105 strikeouts while Wells has 93. To me, it looks as if Wells should at least get several first place votes, but he'll be lucky to get any.
Offensively, the Cubs combined for 8 hits and 5 walks, with 4 of those coming from Derrek Lee (he was 3 for 4 with 1 walk). Lee and Ramirez drove in the motherload of Cub runs, with Derrek elevating his homerun totals on the year to 35 and RBI stats to 109. Seriously -- Lee saves his best for years the Cubs kind of suck. What's up with that?
The Cubs play today for a series win.
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.
This is the reason why the Brewers are a middling, .500 team-at-best -- their pitching sucks. The same Cubs offense that struggled to scratch together more than 3 runs against the playoff-bound Cardinals went off on the Brewers like Milton Bradley at a press conference, scoring 7 runs in the first 2 innings.
Probably the best story of the night -- at least for this Derrek Lee mark -- was the continued production of M.V.Lee. Think about it like this -- four years ago, Lee had a season for the ages, batting .335, hitting 50 doubles and 46 homeruns, and he still only managed to drive in 107 RBI. So far in '09, in about 75 fewer at bats, Lee has had about 40 fewer hits, 17 fewer doubles, 12 fewer homeruns, is batting about 30 points less, and he's still managed to hit the 107 RBI mark. Somebody find Dusty Baker and ask him: how the hell does that happen?
The Cubs easily outpaced the Brewers tonight, with strong offensive nights from Lee, Aramis Ramirez (who followed a Lee homerun in the second with a homerun of his own), and Jeff Baker, who went 2 for 5.
On top of the hits, Tom Gorzelanny continued to make an argument for his inclusion into the rotation next season by way of surrendering 6 hits in 5 innings, walking 1, and striking out 9 while allowing only 2 earned runs. He was relieved by Aaron Heilman who managed to allow 5 runners on base in 2 innings of relief without surrendering a single run. Go figure.
All told it was just another pointless-but-fun night of baseball. Props to Lee for his bat mastery, and to the Cubs for winning in the face of ass-hattery.
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.