Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Padres

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Game & Series Recap: Padres 5, Cubs 3 -- the wrong side of a sweep

As promised.

Tom Ricketts should know that his grace period ends the day he officially retains Jim Hendry.

I realize that I'm not a baseball genius.  Never claimed to be one, I'm just a fan with a pulpit.  (And even that isn't so big a deal, anybody can have a blog with a silly name.)  But I guarantee you that, if you gave me the Baltimore Orioles and a 150 million budget for 2011, I could turn them into an incredibly competitive team.  I wouldn't need to revise my front office, I could hire a the World Cup Octopus to be my manager, I wouldn't need a single prospect to actually develop into a talented major leaguer ... I'd just need a modestly strong free agent market to throw my money at.

That's basically what Jim Hendry did to save his ass before the start of the 2007 season.  At the time, we all knew that today was coming.  Sooner or later, his expensive players would bust -- you can't sign guys on the wrong side of 30 to multi year deals without expecting it to happen.  We knew that Soriano would become an albatross, that Fukudome was probably going to be a disappointment, that no starting pitcher in the history of baseball has ever signed a contract as big as Zambrano's and stayed healthy/successful for the duration, and then some. 

We knew all that, and yet here we are, furious at a mediocre-at-best 2010 season, watching the Cubs get swept at home in a four game series (something that probably almost never happens) to the Padres.

Blame the shoddy bullpen for this one.  Sean Marshall managed to go a third of an inning, squandering the lead Carlos gave him.  He surrendered 4 earned runs off of 4 hits and a walk, and that was all she wrote.  The Cubs, who collected 7 hits and 3 runs, could have kept their offense home for the day.  (They pretty much did, anyway.) 

The old Carlos would've met Marshall in the tunnel and beaten the crap out of him.  Somehow, that's no worse than what actually happened.

Anyway, this crappy series has ended and now the Cubs face another playoff caliber team -- the Braves.  Derrek Lee returns to Wrigley Field, yadda yadda.  I'll have the Series Preview up in a few minutes.

Game Recap: Padres 5, Cubs 1 -- Waily, waily!

Just when you thought I forgot...

So, where to start.  The good: uh, I'll get back to this one.

The bad: Casey Coleman, 4.1 innings pitched, 6 hits, 3 walks, 1 strikeout, 3 earned runs.

The ugly: Team LOB - 8; with 18 total scoring opportunities undelivered upon.  This.  Is.  CHICAGO!

Not much else to say about this game -- the Cubs gave us nothing to be excited about.  Apologies, then, for he length of this short and depressing game recap -- the one after today's game will be MUCH longer (by maybe as many as five whole words!).

Game Recap: Padres 1, Cubs 0 -- Lee to be traded?

Zzzz.  Cubs, Padres.  Zzzzz shutout.  Zzzznother loss.  Zz--wha'?  Derrek Lee might get traded?!

That's the rumor this morning, anyway.  It's sort of a nice deflection from the dead-to-the-ears-up ball team we are currently stuck following.  The Cubs last last night after allowing only 1 run, in the 1st off of a ground-out.  They then succeeded to hold the Padres to only 3 hits all night, even as the Cubs failed to score any runs themselves.

Therefore, I have to give props to Randy Wells.  Granted, he's a 5-11 pitcher this year now (ugly!), but he pitched 7 innings, struck out 6, walked 3, and lowered his ERA to 4.44.  Hopefully he'll have a better record next year, if he's a Cub.

Anyway, back to Derrek -- earlier this season he said he'd refuse to okay a trade to the Angels, but it makes sense that the Cubs would've gotten his approval before negotiating with the Braves.  With Atlanta losing Chipper Jones for the year, Lee makes sense to be a "McStiff Eats Ass" solution for them.

It'd be a cool idea.  Anything's better than keeping Lee at this point.  I doubt the Cubs would get any really good prospects, but who knows?

Rob puts in his two cents:

The latest word about the possible deal:

Those of you who get giddy about draft day and lust over single A prospects are having a confusing day.   We wouldn't likely receive any compensation at all at the end of the year from Lee, but here's a chance to get the proverbial bukkit-o-spit. 

Me, myself?  I would have traded him this past winter, when his value would never be higher.  We might have gotten some bullpen relief for him if he'd okayed the Angels trade.  Now, we'll get a class A guy that most likely we will never see.

For all his gaudy stats in 2005 and 2009, Derrek Lee did precious little, in my opinion, to help us.  FanGraphs recently revealed he was the least clutch starter in the majors in 2010, and even in his best years, when the cane got high, he was more willing to take a base on balls and hand the machete over to Ramirez.

I suppose I should be glad that I get six less weeks of DPLee than I was counting on.  Ok, yes, I am glad.  Of course, if that means I have to look at six weeks of X Nady and Micah the Hoff, what the hell's the difference?

It is time to find out if either Colvin or Ramirez can play first.  If not, then as I said last week, look for us to spend the winter debating whether or not to sign Big Donkey Dunn.  But if either of them can, then maybe we can use the money Dunn would want, and use it on some pitching.

But, of course!  Ricketts owns the team now.  He will use the salary savings to put a Smirnoff Ice Bar-n-Grill near the left field gate.  Drinking, chicks, revenues and drinking is all that overgrown Chad thinks about.  Fuckin' dick....

Game Recap: Padres 9, Cubs 5 -- Resigned to Medocrity

Hey -- remember that guy, Kevin Correia?  Remember how I said that he'd be the Cubs best hope of victory, because he's a middling starter at best?

Six innings pitched, 5 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 0 runs.  Ouch.

Meanwhile, Tom Gorzelanny -- one of the more reliable pitchers on the Cubs -- reliably surrendered 9 hits and 3 walks in 6.1 innings of work while allowing 5 earned runs, with most of the damage coming in the 7th.

And that's when things got interesting.

In the bottom of the 7th, trailing 5-0, the Cubs offense, er, "exploded" for 2 runs thanks to a Fukudome double.  Padres 5, Cubs 2.  Could a comeback be of order?

Nope.  The Padres scored two more runs in the top of the 8th, extending their lead to 7-2.  But wait!  The Cubs weren't done!

In the bottom of the 8th, Soriano doubled and DeWitt homered, giving the Cubs another 3 runs and 5 runs on the day.  Could a comeback be of order?

I sound like a broken record, but nope.  The Padres scored 2 more runs in the 9th, as they succeeded in making the Cubs bullpen their bitches in the late innings.  Final score 9-5.  Not so shocking.

If you are reading vitriol in my post, look again -- it's hard to get angry about a 90+ loss team losing to a team that's possibly headed to the post season.  At this point, I feel more resigned to mediocrity than anything else.

But hey, kids!  More baseball tonight!  Woo-hoo!

Series Preview: Cubs vs. Padres

Overview
Unless you're the Yankees or Red Sox, years like this one are bound to happen.  Especially if your team is managed by a doof who can't draft, and who throws piles of money -- and no-trade clauses -- at every swinging dick in the major leagues.

Actually, if this year teaches us anything, it should be that the Cubs need to renovate the holy hell out of Wrigley Field.  (Purists, this is your opportunity to leave the blog.)  Fans love Wrigley, but players hate it.  The training facilities are a joke.  The clubhouse is as cramped as a Cold War submarine.  Consequently, the best players in baseball aren't inclined to play at Wrigley Field.

I have always felt that compromises can be made.  The Cubs can, theoretically, gut Wrigley Field but leave it aesthetically pleasing.  This is something that perhaps needs to happen soon, or else we'll continue to have these down years where the teams' expensive, untradeable, excessively OLD veterans drag the team down like an anchor. 

Anyway, onward:

Monday, August 16th -- Tom Gorzelanny (6-6, 3.65 ERA) vs. Kevin Correia (9-7, 4.86 ERA)
If the Cubs don't get swept, it's because Tom Gorzelanny pitches respectably, while Kevin Correia relies on the success of the team which surrounds him.  Gorzo -- who, by no means am I advocating for in 2011 -- has pretty much done everything the Cubs have asked of him these last two years.  Correia's really nothing special.

Tuesday, August 17th -- Randy Wells (5-10, 4.60 ERA) vs. Jon Garland (11-8, 3.41 ERA)
Probably two months ago, I posted a comment about Wells being, potentially, a one-year wonder.  Sayers responded with a responding disagreement. 

Well, it's too early to say.  Just ask Geovany Soto, who went from being a Godsend to a one-year-wonder to a resoundingly effective catcher, one of the best in the league.  But, so far, Wells has severely disappointed us.  He's been inconsistent at best.

Jon Garland, meanwhile, could've been a Cub this whole time.  Just saying.

Wednesday, August 18th -- Casey Coleman (0-0, 8.64 ERA) vs. Clayton Richards (10-5, 3.80 ERA)
Regarding Casey Coleman: who? 

A guy goes on a road trip for two weeks, and when he gets back Geo Soto is on the DL and Casey Coleman is starting for the Cubs?  WTF?  Considering how effective Clay Richards has been, I wouldn't exactly count on the Cubs to win this one...

Thursday, August 19th -- Carlos Zambrano (4-6, 5.27 ERA) vs. Mat Latos (12-5, 2.32 ERA)
This game should be an excellent learning opportunity for Latos.  If he wants to see how the pros throw fits and violently lose their tempers, then Carlos is the mentor for Mat.

Conclusions

Confession time: sometimes I look at the young talent around the league and I feel real envy.  I realize that Starlin Castro is doing great (although his crunchy numbers are lacking), and that Tyler Colvin is on pace to hit 25 homers (altho' he's barely batting Geovany Soto's weight), and that Wellington Castillo has finally been given the call.  But, still, the Cubs seem lacking in the young, exciting players like Latos.  Maybe I'm just being grouchy.

Either way -- can the Cubs possibly win this series?  I sorta hope not.  It'll take a minor miracle, but my fingers are crossed for a really, really good draft pick...

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Game and Series Recap: Cubs 7, Padres 1 (1-2) -- Wait, they won?

Game Recap
What if I told you that my team has a pitcher with a 1.64 ERA, a WHIP of 0.77, and 55 strikeouts in 44 innings, to go along with just 14 walks? Is that something you would be interested in?

Ladies and gentlemen, gimme somma' dat Post All-Star Break Rich Harden!

Showing up just in time to earn himself a few extra million bucks as he heads toward the free agent market, Rich has been on fire in the second half of the season. Is it too little too late? Maybe kinda sorta, but I'll take it while we've got him.

Speaking of awesome Post All-Star splits, allow me to present Exhibit B: with a .367 batting average, .406 on-base, and .617 slugging, ladies and gentlemen, Jeffy B. Baker!

(Having said that, anyone wanna guess which of those two gets overpaid by the Cubs in negotiating an extension?)

With last night's game, the Cubs save some face as they depart from the home of Ron Burgundy and head straight for Mannywood. Now that the Cubs have saved themselves from a sweep, it's about time I dispense with the standard "impact of one game" speech.

Usually when the Cubs end up on the losing side of a 1-2 three-gamer, I talk about how different Cub fans would feel this morning if things were just a tinge different--specifically, what might have been if the Cubs went 2-1 instead of 1-2. We'd have a series win on our hands, and we wouldn't mind that one "L" given the two wins.

However, at this point in the season, every game is pretty damn huge. We're six back in our division, and five back in the Wild Card. These "one game" differences are really starting to add up.

And now we're headed to Dodgertown. This should be fun!

Current Record: 61-57
Position in the NL Central: 2nd place, 6.0 games back of the Cardinals
Magic Number: 51 (thanks to cubsmagicnumber.com)
Best Possible Record: 105-57
Worst Possible Record: 61-101
Record needed to win 90: 29-15
On Pace For: 85-78

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.

Game Recap: Cubs 3, Padres 6 -- Not looking good.

Recap
Last night's game was all about the oh-fer. Five Cubs failed to get a hit last night, including the first, second, fourth, and fifth hitters.

That's how seven hits and five walks translate into three runs.

The pitching was bad, but not horrendous. Ryan Dempster posted an almost-quality start, racking up 10 strikeouts in seven innings, while giving up four runs. Guzman put the Cubs in an even deeper hole in the 8th inning, but the L still went to Demp.

It's not looking good, guys. The pitching isn't working, the hitting isn't working, and we're in San Diego of all places.

Lately, the biggest problem seems to be plating runs. It's not that we aren't getting hits, and it's not that we're not getting walks. The base runners are there, and to a lesser extent, there's some power too--Lee had a double and a homer, and Baker doubled as well, in last night's game. But somehow, we just aren't scoring.

Maybe this year is some sort of balancing out of the baseball luck equation. After Jim Edmonds and Mark DeRosa and Geovany Soto and Ryan Dempster and Carlos Marmol and Mike Fontenot and Ryan Theriot had career years, we were due for some suffering this year I guess. Maybe?

Yeah, let's go with that for now. Unlucky.

In the meantime, go Cubs.

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.

Game Recap - Padres 4, Cubs 1, Time of Death?


Recap
Rob sent me this EMail earlier today:
"It is only out of respect of your wishes that I don't issue my annual "Time of Death" post today. But I think they are dead."

In response, I said:
You can do that. I'll just tack on an edit at the end in which I proclaim myself the doctor who just won't let go, hammering my closed fist into this season's chest, charging up the paddles for another electric burst, yelling BREATHE DAMMIT BREATHE even as you try to pull me away...

Sure enough, the lack of a lively offense, mixed with the closing incompetence of Kevin Gregg resulted in a blow-out at the hands of the incompetent Padres. Ouch.

It's hard to point a finger at just one player. Maybe it'd be easier to simply lift one finger at the whole team. Ted Lilly played his part last night, pitching 6 innings in his return to the roster, exiting after only 70 pitches, but the offense gave him no run support whatsoever. Sure, the Cubs managed 7 more hits, and they drew 5 walks, but they had 17 opportunities to drive in runs that they failed to capitalize upon. As a team they stranded 10. Mike Fontenot, Geovany Soto, and Aaron Miles all had 0-fers.

Kevin Gregg, meanwhile, has committed the greatest crime imaginable -- he's made Dave Kaplan right. That hurts. Goggle-wearing doucheman, I defended you! I put my opinion out there that people were wrong about you! And this is how you reward my loyalty, 4 earned runs against the PADRES?!? I was obviously mistaken. Gregg is a turdd.

So. Is this, then, the Time of Death? Am I, indeed, pushing away the knowing hands trying to hold me back from pounding the chest, from charging the paddles, from denying the obvious? Meh. Probably. When we look back on the failures of the 2009 season, while we will have plenty of fodder to go with I think that identifying this period -- the sweep at home against the Phillies, the surrender of another lead by Gregg -- as being the time when the final nail was hammered in.

Or, the Cubs could surprise us. What I didn't ask Rob in response to his EMail was whether or not he declared a Time of Death in 2007. (Rob: Technically, I did not.  But it was simply an accident of timing that I hadn't).   I sure as hell know I was on the brink of doing that, and I am certainly one of this blog's most reluctant. It's not a Cubs thing; rather it's a sports thing -- more often than not, teams will prove their fans' doubts right. But whether you "knew it all along" or not, you're still only right retroactively in my opinion. It'll be over when it's over, even if my gut tells me it's over already.

Does that make sense? No? Then I'll leave you with something that does...

Gregg eats ass.

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