Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Brewers

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Series Preview: Cubs at Milwaukee



Overview

Milton Bradley is suspended, Alfonso Soriano is hurt, and Kevin Gregg is a deadman walking. The three scapegoats of the season all seem to be getting their just desserts. Unfortunately, we are the ones that have to eat the crapcake they baked for us over these last 15 games.

Now we can sit here and eat it while trying to find something good to say about 2009, or we can start thinking about next season. It is usually at this point that I give you the matchups and what they mean for the upcoming series. However, I’ve decided to give a little analysis of where these starters are going to end up next season.
 
Sans Brewers pitchers of course. No one cares about Wisconsin.

The Matchups
September 21st - Tom Gorzelanny vs. Braden Looper
Tommy GoGo doesn’t have the kind of stuff the guy (Rich Harden) he is replacing today, but he might be just non-crappy enough to take Harden’s spot for 2010. What you lose in Harden (strikeouts, untapped potential) is replaced by a quality in Gorzelanny (reliability, durability) that Harden doesn’t have. GoGo is a fifth starter at best, but the Cubs could do worse next year.

September 22nd - Randy Wells vs. Dave Bush
Wells has fallen off these last few weeks (he has only won two games since August 14), but we can all agree that Randy has pitched his way into next season’s starting rotation. Depending on what happens with Zambrano, Wells will most likely be the future No. 4 guy. I personally think he deserves to be No. 3, but there is a pecking order and seniority blah blah blah.

September 23rd - Ted Lilly vs, Chris Narveson
He leads the team in wins (12). He has the lowest ERA (3.02) of all the starters. He has pitched more innings (170.0) than anyone not named Ryan Dempster. Ted Lilly did not pitch in the 2008 playoffs, nor was he the Opening Day starter of 2009, but he is the ace of this staff. Lou might refuse to give TRL the official title, but everyone knows it. He probably won’t be the No. 1 guy next season either, but then again, there have been greater tragedies in the world.

Conclusion
We can all agree these remaining games are early tryouts. Some guys have already made it (Lee, Ramirez) and some are playing a spot next season (Fox, Gorzelanny). But there is also some pride involved here. The friggin Brewers are only 2.5 games behind the Cubs. That team has sucked all year and I refuse to let them finish in second place.

Yeah, it doesn’t matter. I know. But do you know what does matter? The continued suppression of all things Wisconsin by the far superior people of Illinois.

Go Cubs.

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Game Recap: Brewers 7, Cubs 4 -- Game Over for Reals

Recap
Any shadow of a hope Cub fans had left on their bitter, broken hearts was dashed today after the Brewers pummeled Randy Wells and the Cubs by a score of 7-4. 

Actually that pretty well sums it up.  We've been writing for a while now about how gassed Wells likely is having pitched more innings than ever before, and it seemed to take the toll on him today as he only lasted 4 innings, giving up 5 hits, 5 walks, and 5 earned runs.  The funny thing about how over-looked Wells has been is that a recent ESPN article about rookie pitchers getting gassed late in the season actually omitted him on their list.  Douchebags.

Offensively the Cubs nickled and dimed their way into four runs, but really the hitters just didn't seem to have it.  So it goes.

Still, I'd like to see Wells pull it together for another win or two, but the likelihood of that happening is on the same level of the Cubs reaching the playoffs.  Which, if you notice the tombstone, isn't something we consider to be possible at this point (sorry, Token).  But hey -- we've got about 10 more Cubs 101 articles to come, including a whole whack about the Cubs of the last 3 seasons.  So, yay?

Gamecast: September 17th vs. Brewers

Dave Bush vs. Randy Wells

Story Lines

The Cubs blew a great chance last night thanks to Rich Harden not having command, and the Cubs are basically set back two days, which at this point is too much.

Sorry for the rush, but I had to parent conferences during planning today, so this is all I have. Hopefully, the Cubs will take the third game of the series today.

Game Recap: Brewers 9, Cubs 5 -- Harden hardly unhittable

Recap
A day after the Cubs beat the holy hell out of the Brewers, Milwaukee came back with a barrage of hits and runs against the soon-to-be departed Rich Harden.  The Cubs surrendered 9 runs off of 13 hits, with all the runs coming over the span of 4 innings.  But as bad as Harden was in being chased early, Balkin' Dave Patton was the true culprit of mediocrity in that he surrendered 4 earned runs in his 1.1 innings of work.  Who wants to bet he never pitches regularly in the majors again after this season?

Other culprits of mediocrity were Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto, both of whom were responsible for errors in the third and fifth resulting in 2 unearned runs.  But hey, Aramis and Geo also combined to go 3 for 9 with 2 runs scored, 2 runs driven in, and 1 homerun hit between them.  So, y'know, it kind of balances out.  ...sort of.  In the meantime, the Rockies are on the way toward beating the Giants tonight, although they've got a long way to go before victory is assured as the game is only half over.

On a side note, I'd like to address further what has already been written about the growing Chicago hate for Carlos Zambrano, hot on the heels of hatred for Milton Bradley and, by some, Alfonso Soriano.  First, while Rob and I have a split opinion on the value of Carlos, I know we both love the guy (minus his faults) and don't want him off the Cubs.  We just want there to be another guy who's better heading the rotation.

But ignoring that, while I think Milton Bradley is a freaking idiot, I still believe that he'll be a Cub next year and therefore I hope he'll be a productive Cub.  More to the point, I think he should be one.  Hating Milton for struggling or not getting a hit every time he's got an RBI opportunity is, dare I say it, stupid

Even worse, though, to me is the stupid hatred toward Soriano.  The Fonz has demonstrated no selfishness, but instead probably has a bit of a low baseball IQ.  That's not a crime worthy of hate.  He's also struggled all year while battling a knee injury.  Based on our shared opinion of Mark "Mary" Prior, playing hurt is an extremely admirable characteristic.  And belittling his past success in '07 and '08 as "one month of hitting well" is pretty ridiculous.  If the Cubs are a successful team in 2010, the massive, powerful bat of Alfonso Soriano will probably be a big reason for it.  And I suspect that if his knee is repaired, then his defense should be a shade better than shitty. 

So get over the Cub hate.  We'd be stupid to think that Carlos, Milton, Geo, and Alfonso are happy to have sucked so much.  And in the case of the Big Moose, Soto, and Sori, we'd be ignorant to forget how successful they've been not just in the past, but as recently as last season.  I get that being a Cub fan means, by our nature, that we are often swimming in the negativity, but give me a freakin' break!

Gamecast: Spethember 16th vs. Brewers

Braden Looper (12-6, 4.77 ERA) vs. Rich Harden (9-8, 4.04 ERA)

Story Lines
In for my former life, I was a sports writer. I know it is tough to come up with a stories, but I'm sick and tired of the "Trade Carlos" or "Cut Milton" stories that are coming up all the time. It's just time to move on and focus on other things, like the Cubs miracle run to the 2009 playoffs.

I still don't belive they can jump 4 teams, but it will be fun while they continue to stockpile wins against the Brewers. I didn't catch any of last night's game, because I passed out at 6:30 p.m. and didn't wake up until time for work this morning, but I was able to see a few good things that most of the media didn't point out:

  • The Cubs won to go back to 7 games over .500
  • The Cardinals lost to the Marlins, making it a 8.5 game lead (7 back in the loss column).
  • The Rockies lost to the Giants, making it a 5.5 game lead in the Wild Card (4 back in the loss column)
  • The Cubs walked 12 times
  • The Cubs scored 13 runs
  • Geovany Soto can hit again

A lot of things have to happen, but we are better today than we were last week.

Who's Hot
Derrek Lee - Lee was perfect last night. He had two hits to go along with his four walks. His OBP is not at .391, which is tops on the team. 

Mike Fontenot - I'm pretty sure I said Fontenot should get another crack at starting the other say. How does he respond? Oh, two hits, a walk and a RBI. Not too bad.

Geovany Soto - Soto hit another HR last night and saw his September line improve to .360/.452/.800.

Who's Not
Milton Bradley/Kosuke Fukudome - They were the only two starters who didn't pick  a hit last night. It would be nice to see both of these guys go on a tear in the last two weeks, but I won't be holding my breath.

Conclusions
I'm not crazy. Really, I know the Cubs making the playoffs is about as likely as the government running Health Care effectively. Still, it is more fun to follow a team with some kind of chance, and the Cubs still have a chace.

Game Recap: Cubs 13, Brewers 7

Game Recap
I have to admit I'm getting more than a little tired of the Chicago media and their stir tactics.  Honest to God, if they hadn't written their "will Milton Bradley be a douche in 2009" series back in March, chances are decent that he wouldn't have been.  And now Carlos is under the scope, fueling the fire that Rob has already lit here on GROTA.

With apologies to Rob -- but none to the Tribune writers -- Carlos is not a problem and does not need to be traded.  But don't take my word for it -- Bruce Miles wrote this epic that very effectively points out why we're a bunch of douche-bags for criticizing Zambrano but giving passes to the other dopes who act like he does.

As for the game last night, the Cubs had the most unusual bout of offensive supremacy I've seen all year.  They scored 13 runs, and 6 came from Things Other than Hits -- a sac fly by Carlos in the 4th, a bases loaded Hit by Pitch in the 6th, a fielding error in the 6th, a bases loaded walk in the 7th, a bases loaded Hit by Pitch in the 7th, and then a bases loaded walk in the 8th.  Weird.

In total, the Cubs had double digits in hits -- 11 -- but, more impressively, they actually had more walks, with 12 for the day.  Every Cub got on base at least once, yes Madisoncubaholic, even Milton Bradley, and 8 total Cubs had RBI. 

In the meantime, Carlos had a pretty good game, but an incredibly ugly 5th inning.  He let the Brewers do all their damage on 2 outs, but he would have left with having allowed 3 earned runs -- and in line for the win -- had Ryan Theriot not botched a play that would've ended the inning. 

So, because Carlos had a bad inning, does that add fuel to the Trade Zambrano fire?  I say no.  I understand Rob's frustration about the situation, even as I question his concept of what an ace pitcher does -- and with Clemens at the top of the list, I could rattle off a long list of "aces" who do not, nor did they ever, fit his description.  I understand that we all hoped, nay, expected greater things from the Big Moose in 2009, and after an on-and-off year in '08 we've now forgotten how well he pitched from '03-'07, as if he'll never be a 15 game winner again.

Anyway, with the Cubs win last night they now find themselves 5.5 games behind the Rockies in the Wild Card, and 4 games out in the loss column.  Just thought I'd point that out, too.

Gamecast: September 15th vs. Brewers

GameCastYovani Gallardo (12-11, 3.59 ERA) vs. Carlos Zambrano (8-6, 3.77 ERA)
Story Lines

The Cubs almost had a perfect night last night. They found a way to win without much offense, the Giants lost, but the Cardinals out-slugged the Marlins (which wasn't all bad, since the Cubs trail the Marlins in the Wild Card).

The Cubs are 6.5 games back in the Wild Card with 20 games left. That's a lot of games to make up, of course it is worse because the Giants, Braves and Marlins are still ahead of the Cubs. The Cubs are actually tied in the loss column with the Braves and Marlins now, so there is some hope.

Tonight's game is the worse match-up for the Cubs with Gallardo on the mound, but the Cubs are ready to break loose, I can feel it. Still, the playoff chances are really tiny right now. Lets just say the Rockies the finish 9-8 in their last 17 games. That would mean the Cubs would need to go 17-3, just to tie. I just don't see that happening. Now, if the Rockies fall apart and go 5-12, that is another story, but that would be a tough assignment as well.

Who's Hot
Derrek Lee - Lee's like a broken record, but in a good way. He hit another home run last night to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead, which turned out to be enough. He's hitting .304 overall now, and has 33 HR's. If the Cubs do make the playoffs somehow, it will be because of D-Lee.

Aramis Ramirez - Two more hits and he's hitting .324 now, which would be the highest average of his career. Too bad, he missed all that time this year.

Who's Not
Jeff Baker - Maybe it's time to give Fontenot a start. Baker's 1 for his last 18, which now opens the question of second base in 2010.

Everybody else - Only Jake Fox and Mike Fontenot picked up hits last night after our two best players.

Conclusions
The Cubs have to stockpile some wins to have a chance, and I would love to see the Giants sweep the Rockies, while the Cubs sweep the Brewers. If that happened, the Cubs would be 4 games back heading into the weekend.

Game Recap: Cubs 2, Brewers 0 -- Dempster wins again

Recap
The unluckiest pitcher on the Cubs won his 10th game this season, making him a too-little, too-late lucky bastard after all.  Ryan Dempster has been beaten up pretty badly at various points this year -- surely not many of us expected Clownsevelt to be a double-digit, sub-4.00 ERA pitcher by the time September rolled around.  And yet that's exactly where he's at after carrying a no-hitter into the 5th inning.  Dempster went 8 innings, allowed 4 hits, walked 1, and got his ERA down to 3.84 in one swift win.

Offensively, though, it was a nail-biter.  With a ridiculously crappy bullpen, I doubt many Cub fans felt safe with the 1-run lead the Cubs had until the 8th (thank you Derrek Lee for your 33rd homerun of the year hit in the 4th), and the Fukudome sacrifice fly didn't do much to create a safety buffer.  And yet when Carlos Marmol pitched in the 9th, he managed to walk "only" 1 on the way toward his 13th save of the year.

At this moment, the Giants are beating the Rockies 3-0 in the 3rd, which is good except even the Giants have fewer losses than the Cubs this year.  Still, it'd be better for our non-existent hopes for the Rockies and Giants to beat each other up a bit. 

Scratch that ... it'd be best for the Rockies to lose every game for the rest of the year.

Gamecast: September 14th vs. Brewers

Jeff Suppan (6-9, 5.05 ERA) vs. Ryan Dempster (9-8, 4.03 ERA)

Story Lines
A funny thing happened this last week, the Cubs last ditch playoff chances got a little boost. The Cardinals finally decided to lose, and the Rockies came back down to earth. Granted, the playoff chancesare still very remote, but they are better than they were a couple days ago.

The Cubs are 8-games back in the loss column in the NL Central, and 7 back in the Wild Card. Well, at least the Cubs still are playing  a few meaningful games this week. If they can find a way to cut into the lead a little this week, it might make this weekend's series a little bit more fun. I'm all for putting a little fear in the Cardinals before they cake walk into the playoffs.

This week, the Cubs get to face off against the Brewers. They still have a pretty good offense, but the pitching was been really up and down. Tonight, the Cubs send their most up and down pitcher, Ryan Dempster, to the mound.

Who's Hot
Derrek Lee - He is amazing right now, too bad the Cubs will likely miss the postseason once again during his second best year as a Cub.

Geovany Soto - Where did this come from? Oh right, Soto was once a good hitter. This at least gives us hope for next season. He has 7 RBI in his last three games.

Micah Hoffpauir - It looks like Micha's trip to AAA has helped him out. He's hitting .364 with two HR's in his last five games.

Who's Not
Milton Bradley - Welcome back Milton, it seems like yesterday when you were here on a daily basis. Lately, Milton is 3 for his last 19 at the plate.

Kusoke Fukudome - Maybe next year Fukudome will be able to put a complete season together. In his last six, Fukudome's got three hits. He's only hitting .154 in September.

Conclusions
The Cubs need a lot of wins, and it might interesting to see how many they can put together in the next few days.

Series Preview: Cubs vs. Brewers



Overview

A few months ago this four-game series looked like a season-defining moment. Now it’s just an attempt by two meh-ish to become eh-ish teams. How disappointing. Especially since I have tickets for one of these games. Damn September.

Anyway, it’s been a season of disappointment for both teams, so which one of them will age through the twilight of the season gracefully and which one will crap their pants hysterically?

Let’s find out.

The Matchups
September 14th - Jeff Suppan vs. Ryan Dempster
Suppan has had a tough season. More specifically he has had a tough three months. Suppan has only won one start since June 12. This is probably because he has given up more hits (86) than innings pitched (65) in that time period. Just sayin’.

Believe it or not, Dempster is pitching for his 10th win of the season. It seems almost as improbable as Taylor Swift winning Female Music Video of the year, but it’s going to happen. Did you hear that Kayne West? It’s going to happen.

September 15th - Yovani Gallarado vs. Carlos Zambrano
Two aces, two average records, two decent ERAs. While both Gallarado (12-11, 3.59) and Zambrano (8-6, 3.77) don’t have the worst numbers in the world, neither is throwing like an ace should throw. Let’s see someone earn his paycheck…preferably not the guy from Milwaukee.

September 16th - Braden Looper vs. Rich Harden
Despite a 4.77 ERA, Looper has a 12-6 record on the season. I guess that makes him the ace of the staff. Then again, ever since Sabathia and Sheets left, the word “ace” has been used rather liberally with the Brewers.

Despite how well Harden has been pitching since the All-Star Break, his last start says a lot about why the Cubs might not bring him back next season. Although he only gave up two hits and one earned run while striking out six, he also walked five batters and threw 103 pitches in only four innings. Harden needs to show he can be more efficient.

September 17th - Dave Bush vs. Randy Wells
Bush has pitched well in his last two starts going seven innings in both contests while only giving up three earned runs combined. He also struck out 11 batters on only 97 pitches in his last start against the D-Backs.

Wells was on the wrong end of some bad defense in his last start, which usually doesn’t bode well for a sinkerball, contact pitcher. Can’t really put the fault on Randy for that one. The last time Wells faced the Brewers was during his 2009 debut on May 8. He pitched five scoreless innings.

Conclusion
It amazes me that a team with so much offensive power as the Brewers have can have such a bad season. Then again, it amazes me that a team with as high a payroll as the Cubs can suck so much.

So I guess all we have left to play for is pride. I don’t want my team to lose to a team from Wisconsin. Wisconsin only exists to serve as a playground for Illinois. I am convinced that everyone who resides in Wisconsin is a hired actor. The place is just a gigantic theme park.

Go Cubs.

Tip for Purchasing Tickets Online
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marketplaces in the secondary market charge a service fee during
checkout regardless of what you are purchasing, such as Chicago Cubs tickets
or anything else. Typically you can walk through the first few steps of
checkout to find out if there will be any additional charges.  From
your friends at Neco.com
, the home of transparent pricing.

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