Bobby Scales! wants you to know that since he's finally made it to the majors he plans on staying for a while. While he's there he might as well get used to winning, too.
Was anybody sweating the 2 run lead San Diego held until the 5th? The Cubs sure had some chances in the early innings but were unable to capitalize on walks, doubles, wild-pitch advancements, and mascot mischief until Alfonso Soriano finally said ENOUGH! and cranked a run-scoring double.
After that it was a verifiable hit parade as the Cubs scored 1 or more runs every inning until they shut it down after the top of the 9th. The Fonz and Fuku were responsible for 6 of the Cubs 11 hits, and both managed double doubles - giving both 9 on the year. (A Soriano-Fukudome double team? But how can that possibly work? They're practically from different worlds! One is dark skinned and from the Dominican, the other is Asian and from the Far East! What is this, Rush Hour 4?)
Also among the big hitters was Milton Bradley - who hit a 2-run homer in the 6th - and the previously mentioned Bobby Scales! who has now played in 5 games and collected at least 1 hit each time.
By the way, on the flip side Derrek Lee and Mike Fontenot both went 0 for 3 and Lee struck out every at bat. Clearly he's done for, rather than merely rusty.
Rich Harden lowered his ERA thanks to 6 innings of 4 hit, 1 walk ball. The only damage he allowed was done in the 1st inning, a two-run shot by Adrian Gonzalez. Harden responded to his early troubles by popping a ligament out of his arm. (No, wait, he actually buckled down and owned San Diego the rest of the way out.)
The bullpen delievered 3 solid innings. Heilman, Marmol, and Gregg gave Cub fans what we needed - shutout baseball with only a few pants-crapping moments - like when Carlos Marmol issued one of his trademark walks.
The Cubs are now 1.5 games out of first place, by the way. I hope St. Louis has enjoyed their lead.
Jake Peavy (2-4, 4.27 ERA) vs. Rich Harden (3-1, 4.83 ERA)
(With some contributions from the ever-interfering Kurt who tacked on a few paragraphs for no reason but to display his ridiculous sense of entitlement and power.... mwahahahaha)
Where do we begin? Well, it has been an interesting couple days here at GROTA since avoiding the sweep on Sunday. There have been articles about blowing up Wrigley, people calling other people names, and even some posts about our purpose as fans. I for one am glad that baseball is back on the TV, because like many other media sites we don't do well with off days. (I hope everybody gets the sarcasm intended during the first paragraph).
For real, the Cubs are trying to get back on tract against the lowly Padres. Kurt and Jason already pointed out a few major themes. So, I will keep this short.
First we'll note that, according to Cubs.com Derrek Lee won't be spending time in a neck splint on the Disabled List. Fans of Micah Hoffpuair will despair over this turn of events, but the Cubs have concluded that Lee's neck isn't on the brink of cracking in half and he should be able to play productively. If he isn't back in the lineup tonight, he should be around in time to experience a Round 2 battle royale with Chris Young tomorrow. As for tonight...
Jake Peavy (Future Cub) vs. Rich Harden (Future DL'd Cub) will face off in game one. Harden needs to stop walking guys and it will be just fine for him.
Kosuke Fukudome - after a little cold streak, Fukudome has played well in his last 7 games. He's hitting .353 with a couple extra base hits.
Milton Bradley - Don't look now, but Cpt. Crazy is starting to hit. He's hitting .286 with a 2B and HR in his last six games.
Geovanny Soto - Our ROY is still in Spring Training or something, because the player wearing No. 18 is not the Geo we want or need. He's still stuck on 4 RBI and 0 HR, while hitting a robust .169.
The Bullpen minus Kevin Gregg, Angel Guzman and Carlos Marmol - There is one thing that many of us agree on, and it is that without a bullpen the Cubs will not make the playoffs. It's impossible in this day and age, because starters only go about 6 innings. That means, on average, they have to get 9 outs, which our bullpen seems impossible without giving up runs and walks.
This is an important series for the Cubs. A victory could spark a multi-win streak, but a loss could bring out the boo birds, which is something I really don't care for.
We'll probably have more on the subject of booing in the near future, but for now we'll leave with this: it's not unique to Chicago that fans turn hostile. It just happens that the media has harnessed a fine microscope in inflating just how "severe" the hostility of fans can get. Consider Philly where they boo Santa Claus when they get the chance. But the Cubs are a good team with really just some moderate struggles this year and an impatient fanbase isn't going to turn things around for them. Then again, winning a lot of games will probably silence an impatient fanbase. Tonight would be a good night to start that process.
(editor's note: this Preview was written mostly by Jason with a few tidbits thrown in by Kurt. If you read a line that's funny, Jason wrote it. If it's lame, blame Kurt)
Oh, the Padres, how we scorn you. Who can forget the way you crushed our hopes and deprived the Cubs of their first trip to the World Series in 39 years?
...hold on, that was 25 years ago and nobody really cares anymore?
Who can forgive the smoking bat of that fat, hit-machine pud known as Tony Gwynn? Imagine what his career would have been like if he hadn't gone blind and died tragically prematurely ...
...wait, that was the fat, hit-machine pud known as Kirby Puckett?
Ahem. Anyway, the Padres are exactly the team we thought they were back in the winter time when they came >< that close! to trading Jake Peavy to the Cubs. Imagine what the Cubs would be like right now with Peavy in their rotation? They'd be unbeatable!
...oh, he's 2-4 with a 4.27 ERA? Dammit.
Regardless, the Cubs are 17-14, 2.5 games out of first, while the Padres are 13-19 and are eating the Dodgers' smoke. Plus it's a home series. Sounds to me like it's advantage Chicago, but let's break it down by outing:
Tuesday, May 12th - Rich Harden vs. Jake Peavy
Now *this* is a marquee matchup. The 2-4 Jake Peavy goes up against Rich Harden and his...4.83 ERA. Huh. But...
No really, both these guys are really good! I was ready to trade four prospects, a DeRosa, three Ronnie Cedenos and a generous helping of Cubbie Pride* for Jake Peavy and his arm of gold. He was supposed to combine with Harden to form a rotation, not a Tuesday matchup. WHY JIM HENDRY!! WHY DID YOU NOT TRADE FOR HIM?!? You broke my heart.
And Harden! He's one of the few guys out there who can honestly claim to have better stuff than Peavy. His poor ERA, in my humble opion, is largely a result of his having poor control of his changeup in several of his starts, and not because of any issues with velocity (despite the protestations of hack writers).
If both pitchers are on this game, look for few runs and tons of strikeouts. Not a good day to be a batter.(* yeah, that's right, I said Cubbie. Suck it)
Wednesday, May 13th - Ted Lilly vs. Chris Young
Here's hoping Lee can make it into the lineup. I love a good fight. Young, generally an excellent pitcher, has also struggled a bit this year (4.76 ERA). I thought Petco was a pitcher's park. Actually, I thought Petco was a pet store, but that's neither here nor there.
Lilly, on the other hand, has been awesome this year. Sporting an ERA just a notch above three, Lilly is the proud owner of a 4-2 record. He's also the proud own of Illinois' largest collection of human shins. Who knew he had a thing for shins?
Color me surprised.
Thursday, May 14th - Randy Wells vs Chad Gaudin
Wait, what? Chad Gaudin? Huh. We could kind of use him right about now, couldn't we? I mean, not that Dave Patton hasn't been great and all**. DAMMIT, CHAD, YOU COULDN'T HAVE TRIED A LITTLE HARDER THIS SPRING? Granted, he's continued to issue more walks than a gleeful warden, but apparently his genius plan of pitching his way off the Cubs roster and into a starting rotation has paid off. But he still looks like an extra from the set of Deliverence.
Wells, on the other hand, has been the Cubs best pitcher with a zero point zero zero ERA. Wells also has a pet monkey. That's all I know. But in seriousness, he wasn't exactly unhittable in his last outing. However he has to know that there's a gig waiting for him once Carlos returns, and if a few decent starts keeps him on Lou's happy list then just maybe the Cubs have an answer to one of their bullpen conundrums in Wells.
(** far be it from me to mention that I said we should keep Gaudin going into the season)
I'm sorry, call me crazy, but I have to call split again.
Note From Kurt
I'm with Jason. I'm not sure how they'll pull it off, but a split appears inevitable.
In all seriousness, we keep harping patience here at GROTA which has earned us the respect of half the Cub fan nation and the scorn of the other half. Those Cubbie Downers appear intent on taking us out via a full-body fling off a building ledge, but we're fast! We're nimble! They're not gonna get us!
However! (You knew there'd be a however, right?) Sooner or later the Cubs will need to buckle down and reel off 10 or 15 straight wins. Or at least, they need to win 10 of 15. Or something. But this up and down and up and down thing needs to end!
So go get 'em! Go Cubs!
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As the Peavy trade rumors continue, the so-called details of the alleged trade have supposedly begun to become apparently clearer. The current rumor includes Ryan Theriot in the trade, leaving Cub fans asking the most obvious question - who the eff replaces Theriot?
Here at GROTA, we've already tapped the Ragin' Cajun as being Grade A Trade Bait, since he will be hard pressed to duplicate his offensive production next year. But if Theriot goes, who replaces him? Surely not Ronny Cedeno, whose jersey number could double for his IQ, and probably not Raffy Furcal, whose price coupled with his bad back and his desire for a long term deal (plus his insistence on trying to cripple Derrek Lee) make him an unlikely candidate.
Actually there are some interesting options out there, with Orlando Cabrera being perhaps too old to be likely, but the guy who I'm thinking about in particular is current Pads shortstop Khalil Greene, 29 years old, coming off a really shizz-itty year where he batted .213 with 10 homers and 35 RBI in 105 games played. He missed time with a broken hand, but the hand wasn't the reason he tanked.
So, here's the question for debate - would Greene be an upgrade over Theriot?
My thoughts are that Theriot will be pressed to do as well as he did this year, and Greene will struggle to do as poorly. However, Greene will also cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 million next season and, at 29, he's at a crossroads. He may rebound and play great, or it might turn out that he's done as a baseball player before his 30th birthday.
In my opinion, if it gets the Cubs Peavy, then I'm all for it. Greene could be a pleasant surprise, and he may appreciate playing in a more hitter-friendly ballpark.
Do you have an opinion? Post 'em if you've got 'em.
It's been discussed here a little ... Jake Peavy is apparently willing to be traded from the Padres, and thus far the Cubs are 1 of 5 teams he'd accept a trade to. Now, obviously, a Cubs team with a rotation of Zambrano-Peavy-Harden-Lilly-Dempster (or Samardzija, or Marquis, or a warm bucket of spit - it really doesn't matter when those other guys are in there) would be ridiculous, but it's also pretty unlikely.
The primary concern has to be salary. Zambrano is making 17.75 million next year, Lilly makes 12, Harden 7, and Dempster will likely be making 10 million on a back-ended deal, assuming he comes back at all.
With Peavy's 10 million+ salary - which is actually quite a bargain for his level of talen - that would give the Cubs starting 5 a payroll of $56 million plus - there were 6 teams with smaller payrolls in 2008, including the Rays who are still in position to reach the World Series for the AL.
I say that, hey, if the Cubs can afford it, then they should do it. But file this one under Trades to be Mades - what would the Padres want for Peavy? I'd assume that, minimally, Marshall, Pie, and probably somebody of Samardzija's level would be asked for by the Padres.
Brenly to the Brewers?
Our friend over at MLB Trade Rumors reports that Bob Brenly is being considered to manage the Brewers, and this just weeks after he extended his deal to broadcast for the Cubs.
Regrettably, Steve Stone is now calling games for the White Sox, and is signed up to do so for the next six years. Guh. Maybe there are other options out there, but most of them suck. I anticipate that if Brenly goes, he'll be hard to replace in the booth, although I know there are some people out there who might loudly disagree.
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
FOR AND ON BEHALF OF ALL CHICAGO CUBS FANS WATCHING THE CUBS GAME ON 3 JUNE 2008 AT 00:04.
COMCAST SPORTSNET CHICAGO,
UNNAMED PRODUCER OF COMCAST SPORTSNET CHICAGO,
UNNAMED CAMERAMAN OF COMCAST SPORTSNET CHICAGO,
SAN DIEGO PADRES,
CHICAGO NATIONAL LEAGUE BALL CLUB,
(Jury Trial Demanded)
Plaintiffs, by and through their undersigned attorneys, for the Complaint in this action, hereby allege as follows:
1. This action is filed by the victims of unnecessarily dramatic coverage of the final out of the Chicago Cubs game started on June 2, 2008 and finishing shortly after midnight on June 3, 2008. Plaintiffs are the loyalest of Cubs fans, brave enough to stay up after their bed time in hopes of witnessing the Cubs' eighth consecutive victory. The defendants together conspired to perpetrate unnecessary drama at the end of said game.
2. Pestilence is a Chicago Cubs fan who suffered heart failure immediately before the final out of the game was recorded. Pestilence is filing this action on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of viewers who are likely to have suffered similarly. Pestilence and the undersigned attorneys will seek to elevate this matter as a class-action complaint.
3. Comcast Sports Net Chicago is the broadcast outlet that aired the game in the greater metropolitan Chicago area, and select households subscribing to MLB EXTRA INNINGS.
4. Carlos Marmol is the Chicago Cubs pitcher who set the table for the unneccessary drama by allowing two runners to reach base before grooving a pitch over the heart of the plate.
5. Adrian Gonzales is the San Diego batter who crushed said grooved pitch into the seats closing the 4 run lead to 1 run.
6. Michael Barrett is the San Diego Padres catcher who is primarily responsible for the underlying action that caused the unnecessary drama. Barrett is a former Chicago Cub who left the team under dubious circumstances. Had his warning track flyball been a home run, the emotional scarring of this home run would have been more significant than if another Padre, who had not been a former Cub, had tied the game. Barrett has a propensity for hitting dramatic home runs.
7. Kerry Wood is the Chicago Cubs closer who relieved Carlos Marmol. Wood also hung the slider that Michael Barrett hit for a warning track flyball.
8. The Unnamed Comcast Cameraman filmed the 9th inning of said game. This cameraman willfully filmed a much higher trajectory of the flyball than was necessary. Due to this high trajectory camera angle, hundreds of thousands of Cubs fans were momentarily led to panic as they assumed Michael Barrett's warning track flyball was indeed of home run distance sufficient to reach the Western Metal Supply Co. warehouse far beyond the left field fence.
9. The Unnamed Comcast producer chose to use the unnamed cameraman's feed of the flyball. This decision contributed to the heart attack suffered by Cubs fans everywhere.
10. Len Kasper and Bob Brenly are the Comcast announcers who emphasized the unnecessary drama by not reassuring viewers early enough that the baseball would remain within the confines of the playing field.