Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Series Previews

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Series Preview: Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers

Series Preview
Overview

It was about a week ago when pundits and fans alike were sticking a shiny fork in the Houston Astros.  Everybody agreed -- Houston was a terrible, miserable team, and, with only 1 win against 9 losses, they weren't reaching the playoffs in 2010. 

The Chicago Cubs are presently 6-10, only a half game better than the 5-10 Astros.  Does that mean, logically, that the Cubs are half a game away from being done for in 2010 as well?

They sure as hell are playing like it.  The Cubs are scoring runs in trickles, they are giving them up in droves, and most concerning of all: they have put their most expensive, most unpredictable, most talented starter in the bullpen due to their dire need for a righty reliever.

Actually, that whole mess in the bullpen led me to recently speculate that maybe the Cubs should have gone with a six man rotation, instead.  Here's the logic: starters would be getting an extra day of rest, meaning they'd be able to go longer in games.  In a six man rotation, it wouldn't matter if Carlos Zambrano needed 130 pitches to get through 7 innings -- and, not having a Carlos Zambrano to bridge the gap between Carlos Zambrano and Carlos Zambrano's most trusted closer, Carlos Zambra--er, Marmol, would not have been so big a deal.

Think about it.  A six man rotation.  Just slightly less crazy than moving the Big Moose to the bullpen, but still crazy enough to reek of desperation.  Anyway, on with the preview:

Friday, April 23rd, 7:10PM - Ryan Dempster (1-0, 3.15 ERA) vs. Jeff Suppan (0-0, 7.20 ERA)
Jeff Suppan is the gift that keeps on giving.  He's not a particularly effective pitcher, which means the bumbling Cubs offense might stand a chance.

Ryan Dempster, meanwhile, has 22 strikeouts to 8 walks in 20 innings of work.  He has been, shockingly, a pretty good-ass pitcher. 

Saturday, April 24th, 6:10PM - Ted Lilly (0-0, -.-- ERA) vs. Doug Davis (0-1, 11.25 ERA)
Davis, used to be known as the Dragon Slayer due to his ability to out-duel better pitchers.  These days, he might now be known as the Dragon Chaser due to the how likely he is to cause Brewer fans to consume massive amounts of drugs in order for them to get through watching one of his starts.

He'll be facing Ted Lilly, in Ted's 2010 debut.  Enjoy these Lilly starts while they last -- if the Cubs are 12-20 in a few weeks, Roosevelt will be on the shopping block along with half of the other guys on the Cubs.

Sunday, April 25th, 1:10PM - Randy Wells (1-0, 2.45 ERA) vs. Dave Bush (1-0, 2.41 ERA)

Wells and Bush have some early-season similarities.  They've both made 3 starts, with Wells pitching 18.1 innings and Bush pitching 18.2.  Wells has given up 22 hits, Bush has surrendered 14.  Wells has walked 5, Bush has walked 6.  Wells has struck out 13, Bush has KO'd 10. 

But most similar of all -- both men have similar ERAs and offenses that have not supported their efforts.

Conclusions
As I write this, word in the ShoutBox is that Juan Cruz just got DFA'd by the Royals.  While I shudder to think that the Cubs have fallen to the point where they need to take Kansas City's cast-offs, anything is better than Carlos Zambrano in the bullpen.  Anything.

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Series Preview: Chicago Cubs at New York Mets

Series Preview
Overview

Picture Dennis Green, his bloodshot eyes glazed over, yelling into a microphone, "the Cubs are who we thought they were!"  He wouldn't be wrong, and yet we are acting frustrated and angry to discover that the bullpen is a steaming pile of dog crap. 

Consider the positives of this development -- would you rather a bunch of mediocre relievers got hot at the start of the season, put up respectable numbers for a while, and then fell off the planet?  After all, even a crappy player can look great for a few weeks (just ask Neifi Perez).  If the Cubs had started out the way we'd hoped, then we might've had to deal with who-knows-how-much suck once the pen's talent dissipated under the summer sun, and Lou and Jim held onto them out of hope that their talent would re-emerge.  Instead, their soul-crushing mediocrity has already been revealed, and now Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella can start figuring out how to fix it. 

But still.  Holy Hell.  The last few innings of the most recent games are almost certainly being played over and over on a loop in a masochist's basement somewhere.  They were painful.  The worst team in baseball beat the Cubs at Wrigley TWICE

What this bodes for the upcoming series in New York remains to be seen, except that the Mets are coming off of a 20-inning mega game against the Cardinals.  If our bullpen sucks worse, at least they are well-rested.  The Mets are screwed.  Let's take a closer look.

Monday, April 19th - Randy Wells (1-0, 2.92 ERA) vs. Jonathon Niese (0-1, 6.55 ERA)

The Cubs offense needs to have a killer's mentality here.  Niese has lasted 11 innings in 2 starts, has surrendered 8 earned runs, and has looked worse than the Elijah Woods/Carrot Top hybrid that Johnny Depp plays in Alice in Wonderland. 

Wells, meanwhile, has picked up from where he left off last year.  He is not the most dominating pitcher to play the game, but he seems to pitch with efficiency and intelligence.  New York might be the toughest offense he's faced this season -- keywords: might be -- but he should manage.

Tuesday, April 20th - Carlos Zambrano (1-1, 9.45 ERA) vs. Mike Pelfrey (2-0, 1.29 ERA)

In his first outing of the season, Carlos Zambrano pitched as though he was constructed entirely of ass.  He gave up 8 earned runs.  It wasn't ugly, it was ridiculous.  Then, in his second game, the Moose went 7, struck out 9, and managed to shave about 43 points off of his ERA in one go.  Finally, most recently, Carlos pitched 5, walked 3, struck out 8, gave up 4 runs (3 earned), and he did it on 121 pitches.

This is the reason Carlos Zambrano is never going to be a traditional ace.  He has too many inconsistent games, where he's not locating a pitch, or his mechanics are screwed up.  Maybe he physically can't always be successful on 4 days rest and can only be effective every other game.  Maybe he's just too emotionally immature to master the thinking part of the pitching process.  Who the hell knows?  But if my every-other-game theory is true, he's due for a good one in New York, unless he'll be reeling from the 120+ pitches he tossed.

His opponent is Mike Pelfrey, a pitcher coming off of a 10-12 season and a 5.03 ERA, two years removed from going 13-11 with a 3.72 ERA.  He's started out well in '10, but he had to pitch an inning of relief yesterday.  If this doesn't jeopardize his start on Tuesday, then he should still be less-than at his best.

Wednesday, April 21st - Carlos Silva (1-0, 0.69 ERA) vs. Oliver Perez (0-1, 3.75 ERA)

Holy cow!  Carlos Silva?  A 0.69 ERA?!  Doesn't he know that he's supposed to suck a tolerable amount of ass until Lilly's ready to return, at which point he's to be sent into the bullpen?!

Chances are, he's not really a 0.69 ERA pitcher.  Odds are good that he will start giving up the hits and walks that he's known to surrender in droves.  It's likely that, even if he has a year comparable to his '07 season (13-14, 4.19 ERA), he will take a thrashing now and again.  I'm betting it happens sooner rather than later.

Oliver Perez is coming back from an '09-ending injury.  He's 3 years removed from the best season of his career, but he's off to a decent start in 2010.  Still, like Silva, he's probably closer to being a pitcher with an ERA in the mid 4's (or worse), and he'll take some beatings.  Hear that, Cubs offense?  He's due for a beating!

Thursday, April 22nd - Tom Gorzelanny (0-1, 1.93 ERA) vs. Johan Santana (1-1, 3.00 ERA)
Hmm.  Tom Gorzelanny, who's been pitching his balls off, against Johan Santana, who's one of the greatest pitchers of this era of baseball.

Tom Gorzelanny, who's got a WHIP of 1.07 against Santana, who's allowed an unusual number of runs to score when compared to the amount of hits and walks he's given up.

Tom Gorzelanny, who looks like Sloth from Goonies, against Santana, who is a dominating lefty.

Yeah, let's just give this one to the Mets.

Conclusions
Despite their awful, horrendous, despicable bullpen, regardless of the fact that they just lost a home series against the ASTROS, ignoring the offensive and defensive struggles of some key players, it's hard to dispute that the bullpen-depleted Mets are in a position to defeat the bullpen-depleted Cubs.

I'd look -- at the very least -- for a road split.  At the most, the Cubs have a legitimate shot at taking 3 of 4.  Or, if you want to be a realist, you can say that they have a legitimate shot of being in position to take 3 of 4 before the bullpen squanders it.  Either way.

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Series Preview: Houston Astros Vs. Chicago Cubs

Cubs vs. Astros
God, I love it when the Brewers leave town. There is something about that team, whether it's Ryan Braun's general douchiness or my fear that Prince Fielder is gonna eat all my veggies, that just annoys me. One thing I love more than the Brewers leaving with their tails between their legs is a 1-8 team coming to town to hopefully pad the win totals, and hey, look! Here come the Houston Astros!

Make no mistake, the Astros are a bad team. There is no reason the Cubs shouldn't win this series, which means they will probably get swept. At which point Cubs fans will be screaming to bring up Sam Fuld to be brought up to play all 9 positions, because at least he has heart, damnit!

Before I get to the matchups, a quick note to my fellow followers of the Cubs: At what point does constantly booing Alfonso Soriano become self-defeating? I understand being unhappy with his play, who wouldn't be? But if Soriano can ever turn it around, is the constant booing going to help bring that about? Newsflash: If he cannot turn it around, the best the Cubs can do would be to eat the contract and release him. Nobody will trade for him with that contract. It will not happen. Just drop that idea right now. So, maybe instead of booing a guy who clearly needs some sort of confidence boost, just politely clap, and save the booing for Jim Hendry, the man most responsible for his contract. Just sayin'.

Game 1: Carlos Silva vs. Felipe Paulino

Carlos the Hutt makes his Wrigley debut after a best case scenario 1st start against the Reds. Few experts or fans would have predicted that, and with Silva coming up against a farily toothless Astros lineup, the chances for a 2nd quality start to begin the year look good.

Felipe Paulino makes his 2nd start of the year after getting roughed up by the Phillies to the tune of 4 walks, 4 hits and 4 runs over 5 innings. Please repeat that performance. Last year Paulino was 3-11 with a 6.27 ERA, and has that really awful chin patch of facial hair. What's the point of that? Just grow a damn beard or go home.

Game 2: Tom Gorzelanny vs. Roy Oswalt

Gorzo, like Silva, comes into his 1st home start of the year after a great opening start at the Reds without a win (Yet Jeff Gray has a win, which should tell you all you need to know about the value of wins as a useful statistic). Gorzo went 6 1/3 and gave up 1 run on 4 hits and struck out 7(!), and a repeat of that performance would be welcome, because the Cubs have the good fortune to be going up against the only good player on the Astros for game 2, Roy Oswalt.

Oswalt is probably feeling thankful for this start. His 1st two saw him up against some bums named Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay, who have something like 53 Cy Youngs between them. Gorzelanny isn't quite on their level, despite what his lovely family may tell you. Oswalt is 0-2 with a 3.75 ERA to begin the year.

Game 3: Ryan Dempster vs. Wandy Rodriguez

Dempster comes off a bit of an off say despite getting his 1st win of the year. Class Clown gave up 5 runs on 7 hits and 4 walks over 6 1/3. His control was a bit off, which Dempster struggles with at times, but as he does, he kept fighting and giving the Cubs a chance to win. If he has his control, he should take care of teh Astros lineup without too many issues.

Wandy Rodriquez has struggled out of the gate, which you would expect from a player on a 1-8 squad. In his last start he got roughed up by Albert Pujols, giving up an RBI single and 3 run HR off the Clean and Virtuous slugger of the Cardinals, who is not bad at this baseball game. Wandy is a lefty, so hopefully the Cubs can put their many right handed bats to good use. (By the way, I love saying "Wandy". Try it, it's fun!)

Overall, I see the Cubs taking 2 of 3 without issue, and a sweep is within possibility (It's hard to sweep a team, no matter how awful they are). Anything less would be a good indication that this Cubs team just won't be serious contenders as currently constructed. Expect 2 wins, hope for 3, and go Cubs.

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Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Chicago Cubs

Preview
Great news, Cub fans!  The first home-stand of the season is about to begin!

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:

The Match-Ups
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.

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Series Preview: Cubs at Reds

Goat Riders
The Cubs leave Atlanta and head to Cincinnasty with a 1-2 record. Things could be worse, and they most certainly could be better.

The team lost on Opening Day, in a game where Carlos Zambrano decided to stop pitching and start throwing fastball after fastball. Presumably, the idea was to generate a bunch of contact early in counts, and hope batted balls turned into outs instead of towering home runs to right field.

We all know how that went.

Carlos will have a chance to bring his ERA down from 54.00 on Saturday, in Game 2 of this upcoming series with the Reds. In fact, if he manages to allow one or fewer runs in 7.2 or more innings pitched, it'll come all the way down to below 9.00. For what that's worth.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Game 1: Carlos Silva vs. Homer Bailey

I thought all along that Silva would be stashed in the 'pen as a long reliever, and that Gorzo and Marshall would take over starting duties until Mr. L-to-the-Illy came back. But here we are on the fourth game of the 2010 season, with Silva the Hutt slated to start.

Whether he wins or loses, Silva will probably give up several hits -- maybe six or seven in six innings pitched. He won't strike many batters out, and the difference between winning and losing may come down to how many walks he gives up. We want singles and ground ball outs, not walks and fly balls. A lot like Randy Wells, actually.

Also, Alfonso Soriano has three hits in as many at-bats against Homer Bailey. Just saying.

I bet the final score is 6-4. One team will win and the other will not win.

Game 2: Carlos Zambrano vs. Aaron Harang

So like I was saying, Big Z gets a chance to redeem himself on Saturday, as he faces Aaron Harang for the billionth time in his career.

I'll predict Carlos gives up four in six, Harang gives up three in seven, and that Jeff Samardzija puts this one out of reach for the Cubs, allowing two or three runs himself in an inning of relief.

Game 3: Tom Gorzelanny vs. Mike Leake

Again, I find myself saying, "As long as he doesn't walk a bunch of batters he'll be fine." No doi, AJ. But it's really true of Gorzo, also. He's not gonna rack up strikeouts, and he has OK stuff. His problems always seem to happen when he walks five or six batters in the midst of a five or six inning start.

I'm gonna guess he walks three, and gives up several runs -- but that it won't matter, because the Cubs are facing a rookie right-hander, a class of pitcher that always seems to confound them. They might not score more than two runs against Leake.

For pessimism's sake, I'll suppose the Reds win the first game, giving the Cubs a second consecutive series loss and a 2-4 record by the time they get home.

I'll be especially pissed if Theriot strikes out four more times or Grabow issues three more walks, but I'll probably be able to forget absolutely everything bad about this series if Tyler Colvin stays hot and does some cool stuff.

I love Tyler Colvin. There, I said it.

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Series Preview: Cubs at Atlanta, opening day

Series Preview
Welcome to opening day, 2010!  It feels as though last season was an eternity ago, when in fact it was just over half an eon.

Since then, the Cubs sale has been completed, the bullpen has been decimated, the cancer has been traded, but not a whole lot of upgrading has occurred.  How will this spell success over the course of the new year?  Who the hell knows!  But for a while, at least, we'll play the optimists while the Cubs work out their kinks and move quickly to be rid of whatever puzzle piece does not fit. 

Just one bit of caution for you all, and heed my prophetic words closely:

Some poor players will start out amazingly well
.  This does not mean they are the second coming of Babe Ruth.  Remember Tuffy Rhodes and do not get too closely attached to these jamokes, because sure as anything you will see some of them working Full Service at your local ESSO come September.

Some amazing players will start out very poorly
.  Yes, Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano, I am looking at you both.  Just because a few Cubs will enter May chasing after Mario Mendoza does not mean that they are washed up.  Remember 1983 Ryne Sandberg and don't give up on these guys for career minor leaguers like Micah Hoffpauir, because sure as anything they will be smoking the baseball like it was a fat blunt come September.

In other words: in all circumstances, be they fantastic or dismal, exercise patience.  The quality of the future cannot be predicted from the first few moments of the coming day.

Onward with the preview.

Monday, April 5th - Carlos Zambrano (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Derek Lowe (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Oooh, those scary Braves.  So nerve-wracking!  So ultimately meaningless!  Carlos Zambrano enters 2010 with something to prove.  He had, far-and-away, the worst year of his career in 2009, going 9-7 with a 3.77 ERA in 28 starts.  He is now 2 seasons removed from his last fully healthy season.  He has promised to stay calm, be brave, and wait for the signs (the one Canadian who reads this site and listens to CBC just snickered). 

He faces off against Derek Lowe, a player who lives off the name value of once being a Boston Red Sock.  Lowe played well in pitcher-friendly Los Angeles, but his first season in Atlanta was a lot like his last season in Boston - rife with a lot of runs scored against.

Say what you will about the Cubs and their pending bullpen woes, but the offense should be good.  Lowe is just a touch better than a tin can.  If Carlos Zambrano can stay calm, this is a very winnable game for Chicago.

Wednesday, April 7th - Ryan Dempster (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Jair Jurrjens (0-0, 0.00 ERA
Ryan Dempster had a chance to sign with Atlanta a few years ago, had the Cubs not pursued him and kept him in Chicago following his epic 17-win season.  He is scheduled to face Jair Jurrjens, a 24-year-old who, based on his 2009 performance, deserves to pitch on opening day far more than the guy the Braves actually have tapped for the role.  Only problem is that Jurrjens is trying to get (or stay) healthy and has had a nagging shoulder problem this Spring, according to ESPN.

Dempster, meanwhile, was a slow starter in 2009, but he really focused and pitched exceedingly well after tripping over the dugout and breaking a toe last year.  Chances are he will try hard to get off on the right foot on Wednesday.

Thursday, April 8th - Randy Wells vs. Tommy Hanson
Wells, last year's one and only pleasant surprise, will be pitching under quite a bit of pressure for the next little while.  After all, it's not so uncommon to see surprise successes flop.  We won't know for sure how well Wells will wallop his woeful wopponents (ran out of words that start with "w") for a month or two.  His first opponent of the new year is another sophomore looking to prove that 2009 wasn't a fluke, Tommy Hanson. 

Hanson's a 23-year-old who went 11-4 with a 2.89 ERA in 21 starts last year.  While it's ridiculous that the Braves continue to develop young, successful talent, particularly in pitchers, the Cubs have one thing they do not: Greg Maddux (HAH!).  Maddux mentoring Wells will hopefully work in our favor. 

Conclusions
The 2009 Cubs won on the road about as often as the Jonas Brothers score with their groupies.  A fast start is important.  But with the shaky bullpen and unanswered questions, it might be a bit much to assume a fast start from the Cubs this year.

Still, the Braves are throwing at them one veteran pitcher with a penchant for giving up runs and two young pitchers who may or may not have had fluky years in 2009.  How the Cubs do in this series will tell us nothing about the rest of the year, but getting off on the right foot would be nice.

And so would avoiding a 14 game losing streak to start the year.  I'm not expecting it, but c'mon.  I'm a Cubs fan.  It's something we worry about every freaking year.

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Series Preview: Cubs vs. Diamondbacks



Overview

Well it’s finally here. The end of the season.

As tough as this season as been on some of us, I’m personally not looking forward to the winter. Do I want to see the Cubs win? Of course, but baseball is baseball. It’s a great game that people all across the country can enjoy the same way. The weather is hot, the beers are cold, and the game is there for us almost everyday from April through September. I am going to miss it.

At the expense of getting sappy, it is time for this dogshitary of a season to end. We might not be able to watch baseball until the snow melts, but there will be plenty to talk about over the coming months.

But first, we have the D-Backs…

The Matchups
October 2nd - Billy Buckner vs. Tom Gorzelanny
Tommy GoGo will be on the team Opening Day next year, but it’s just a matter of determining his role at this point. I’d say No. 5 starting spot is his job to lose at this point.

October 3rd - Daniel Cabrera vs. Randy Wells
Wells has fallen apart lately, and understandably so. Wells has never pitched this many innings in a season and there is no doubt in my mind fatigue is a factor. I’m just glad he’s having his growing pains now rather than during a season when it matters.

October 4th - Doug Davis vs. Ryan Dempster
The man who leads this team in innings pitched will finish off the 2009 season for us. I think Dempster learned a little something about conditioning this season, but we also have learned something about Dempster: He’s not a reliable top of the rotation pitcher.

Conclusion
I’ll admit that I was filled with optimism going into this season, too much for my liking actually. Outside of a Milton Bradley trade and perhaps a new addition to the middle of the infield, you’re already looking at your 2010 Cubs.

Will we be as optimistic next March as we were in the last one? I doubt it, but just keep this in mind folks: Almost every player on this team played below their career averages and preseason projections. Maybe we would like to place the blame on some combination injury, illness, pot, batshit craziness, or apathy, but I see the 2009 season as being the exception rather than the rule.

Baseball is a game of numbers. These numbers have been proven over and over again. For a whole team (outside of Derrek Lee) to play this bad all in the same season is…well…utterly ridiculous.

I’m not saying the team is cursed or that the manager needs to be fired or that a clubhouse cancer needs to be eradicated. No one reason (or combination of reasons) for failure exists. Naturally we want to find an answer, but the answer is simple: statistical anomaly.

I know the Cubs are far from perfect, but the window is still open and will still be open for a few years. You don’t have to be optimistic going into next season, but don’t expect such a subpar result either. Just saying.

Go Cubs. The end.

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Series Preview: Cubs vs. Pirates

Series Preview
Match-Ups
Overview

Fall Training enters its final week starting with a four-game set against the 4A Pirates. Day games, doubleheaders, and beating up on the Pirates. You got to love it.

Some guys need this week to make a statement about where they belong next season. Some guys need this week so their manager remembers their name come March. Some guys need this week just so they can save whatever dignity they have left (Single-digit wins for Zambrano? Seriously?).

But for us fans, we need this week just to have some effing closure. Many of us came to terms with the crappiness of this team months ago, but now we need a sign that a Milton Bradley-free 2010 Cubs team will give us something to look forward to on the other side of a bitter winter.

And if the Cubs can’t do well against teams like the Pirates and D-Backs…

The Matchups
September 29th – Kevin Hart vs. Ryan Dempster
Dempster has turned what looked like a disaster of a season into a something decent. His 3.68 ERA isn’t awful, but I think we can all agree that this isn’t the same pitcher we saw in 2008. Demp will be aiming to get to 200 innings pitched on the season. Hopefully he will be better conditioned for next season so he can do it again...but with a little thing I like to call "success."

September 30th – Charlie Morton vs. Ted Lilly (Game 1)
TRL has been by boy this year for one reason and one reason only: he does not walk batters. In his last start against the Cards, Lilly didn’t walk a single batter over 7 2/3 innings. That was the 10th time he has done that this season. 10th! Is there any wonder why he is the ace of this staff?

September 30th – Jeff Karstens vs. Calros Zambrano (Game 2)
It might have been a few months late, but Zambrano finally pitched like a guy earning big money in his last start. He went the distance and shut out the Giants (a team that had something to play for) on the road. That’s what an ace does. Too bad that will never be Big Z.

September 31st – Paul Maholm vs. Tom Gorzelanny
This will most likely be Tommy GoGo’s last start of the season. Based on his play since joining the Cubs, I would say Gorzo has probably earned the fifth spot in the rotation next season. Then again, who knows what’s going to happen with Harden, the Shark, and Zambrano. Either way, Gorzelanny will be on the 2010 roster.

Conclusion
Dear Cubs,

We have five months of freezing weather ahead of us. Please give me something to dream about while hibernating. Don’t suck. Thank you in advance.

Go Cubs,
Kyle

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Series Preview: Cubs at San Francisco

Series Preview
Match-Ups
Overview

The season is winding down and the Cubs are on the road against one of the toughest teams in the west.  But even the Giants look as if they are not playoff bound.  Still, San Fran will be playing their asses off in this series, and if they have any pride the Cubs will be playing the role of spoiler.  As Dusty would say, "you gotta respect the game enough to try to win, dude." 

That Dusty was always one righteous dude. 

Match-Ups
Thursday, September 24th - Ryan Dempster vs. Bad Brad Penny

Clownsevelt has won managed to win his 10 games.  So has Penny, who's been a lot worse.  Considering who the Giants are turning to later in the series, if the Cubs want to even have a chance for a split this is a must-win game.

Friday, September 25th - Carlos Zambrano vs. Tim Lincecum

The Big Moosey looks like he's going to fall short of 10 wins this year.  As Rob would point out, it's not what you'd expect from an ace.  As I like to point out, from 1993 until 1996, Roger Clemens was a shell of himself, struggling to stay healthy, to pitch effectively, and to be the Ace everybody thought he was.  In other words, Carlos is a shell of himself this year, but that doesn't mean he won't be the best pitcher on the team next year.  He has my support and confidence, so long as the journos fail to chase him out of town.

Saturday, September 26th - Tom Gorzelanny vs. Barry Zito

One's a lefty who lost his zip (but has put up half-decent numbers).  The other's a lefty with unmet potential.  What happens in this game is a total toss-up, but if Gorzo wants to have a shot at starting with the Cubs in '09 then he must know he's under the microscope on Saturday.

Sunday, September 27th - Ted Lilly vs. Matt Cain

I love Ted Lilly with the fervor of a cupid-shot ass monkey (whatever that means), but not even I think he's favored to beat Cain.  Still, stranger things have happened, like that time I came up with the cupid-shot ass monkey metaphor.  What was I thinking?

Conclusions

Who the hell knows?  The Cubs are toast, but have been playing better knowing that Milton Douchely is gone.  Or maybe that's a coincidence.  Either way, they're playing spoiler and will try to bust some San Francisco ass.

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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.

Tip for Purchasing Tickets Online
Most online brokers and
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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