Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Albert Pujols

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Gamecast (July 25, 2010) Cardinals @ Cubs

The Cubs go for the sweep against the Cardinals. I hope the Cubs beat the Cardinals every time they play them this year but I have a personal animase towards the Reds based mostly on the personalities of the current team. Johnny Gomes, more than anyone else, just rubs me the wrong way. I don't want to see Dusty Baker win again either. For that reason, alone, I hope the Cardinals beat the Reds... but if the Reds do beat the Cardinals, I hope it's partly because the Cubs beat down the Cardinals every time they played them! Let's see the Cubs sweep today's series and turn a good home stand into a great one!

Today's Matchup: Chris Carpenter (141.2IP, 3.05ERA, 3.72xFIP) vs Ryan Dempster (133.2IP, 3.70ERA, 3.85xFIP)

One of the reasons why the Cardinals have not fallen from grace is the relative health of Chris Carpenter over the last two years. Carpenter seems to have gotten a little more wild this year than he has been in the past. That being said, he is still very good and with Wainwright and Jaime Garcia doing their part, the Cardinals have a nice 1-3. Still, Ryan Dempster has been almost as good as Carpenter this year. His great gift is the ability to strike people out, but he is more wild than Carpenter even.

Given the relative closeness of the two starting pitchers, this will turn into a question of who has the better offense, bullpen and luck. Here's hoping the Cubs win those factors.

Who's Hot: Starlin Castro is now sporting a snazzy .343 wOBA as a 20 year old shortstop. Not half bad. To put into context, Aramis Ramirez has a career wOBA of .357. Castro, as a 20 year old, is performing not that far below an average Aram season. His season is mildly BABIP influenced, as Castro has a BABIP of .348 but as a guy with decent speed who hits a ton of line drives and ground balls, he likely to maintain a BABIP well over .320 for his career, making his .348 BABIP this year only slightly above his eventual average. I'd have been happy with him if he were hitting .270 with an SLG of .360 or so but this .308/.358/.449 stuff is exciting beyond belief.


Who's Not: Well, speaking of Aramis, ever since his 3 HR game, he has gone 3 for 12 with 2 walks and no Xtra base hits. I know that would count as a good stretch throughout most of the season, but after Tuesday's performance, I figured we'd see him keep it up. He has a five game hitting streak so I guess I shouldn't be complaining but hey, come on Aramis! You spoiled us the last couple of weeks!

Conclusion: Dempster pitched in that same game where Aram hit his 3 jacks and he wasn't great. I hope he can limit the Cardinals and especially Albert Pujols tonight. Including the last game against the Phillies, Pujols has gone 0 for 10 with 2 walks in his last 3 games. Let's keep him off the scoreboard again tonight, enjoy the sweep and move on to Houston.

Gamecast (July 24, 2010) Cardinals @ Cubs

This was from the gamecast comments from yesterday:

" I'm sure we annoy you Cubs fans plenty, but I believe it has to do with the fact that we (Cardinals) have had such great success over the years, and especially in the last decade, whereas you Cubs have had huge disappointments even in your best recent years, and of course the whole 102-year drought thing. Those two very different histories make us Cards fans sound smug and obnoxious when we think we are only teasing you guys; and conversely even your actual angry talk doesn't bother us much because your team hasn't been able to back up your talk. It's like the little brother that hates the big brother's teasing, whereas nothing the little guy says even phases big brother.


I suppose my pointing this out sounds smug and obnoxious to most of you, but I actually don't mean it to. It would be a LOT more fun if the Cubs were in the position of the Reds this year. Even though I generally pull for whoever is playing the Cubs, I simultaneously dream of the possibility of the Cards and Cubs playing for the pennant some year. THAT would be putting all the chips in the pot, eh?


As I post this, the Cubs are beating the Cards 5-zip in the opener, so my smugness is currently in check..."

Here's the deal, Token, I don't give a flying f&ck about the Cubs' 102 year "failure" as you guys like to throw in our face daily. That "history" has zero to do with this team and this organization. The Cubs may be playing somewhat poorly right now but this isn't your father's Cub organization. This team has zero connection to, for instance, the 1978 team that was the first team I followed as a young bright eyed eight year old. The truth is, going forward, the Cubs are going to be winning more championships than your Cardinals. Why? Because the Cubs can spend money you guys can't and at the moment, we also have a better farm system. This has more to do with reality than some stupid curse that only people like you like to perpetuate. Very few Cub fans actually believe in the "curse" or like to talk to about 100+ years of losing. That just has nothing to do with us today or our team. You may as well be teasing our team for playing in a stadium with vines on the walls. That is why I am annoyed by you guys. It's tired. We've heard it. We don't enjoy the losing. Your opinion of both the current Cubs organization and Cubs fans is just wrong. Find a new way to "tease" us.
 
Today's Matchup: Blake Hawskworth (59.1IP, 4.85ERA, 4.41xFIP) vs Tom Gorzelanny (80.2IP, 3.12ERA, 4.02xFIP)

Whew, after that rant, let's preview this game. It's already going but I will pretend it hasn't started yet. Gorz has been very good since coming back into the rotation. The key to his game is not to walk more than a batter or so every three innings and keep blowing people away. Hawksworth is nothing more than a mediocre middle reliever. Mediocre middle relievers rarely become decent starting pitchers. Dave Duncan, after Suppan yesterday, and Hawksworth today, doesn't look like such a miracle worker.

Who's Hot: Alfonso Soriano hasn't had too many of his patented hot streaks this year but so far, he's producing at a .380 wOBA, which would be a career high, and he's stayed healthy. Like Soto, he probably should be moved up in the order but it's kind of amazing to me how much better the Cubs' offense would be had Ramirez and Lee just had normal seasons this year.

Who's Not: Coming into today the Cardinals offense has gone two straight games without scoring a run. That's the first time in 15 years that has happened. That that occured after an eight game winning streak is beyond unlikely. I doubt this continues but it would be nice if Gorz could put another big zero on the board today.

Conclusion: A win would be nice. I ranted above and mostly about the Cubs but I wanted to point something out. In the last 3 years, the Cubs have won 2 division titles, the Cardinals have won 1. Just saying.....

The Pujols Challenge remains open

Just a reminder --

Not too long ago Albert Pujols said he's clean and would get tested every day if that's what it took to prove his innocence.  Obviously, we support daily tests in his case.  After writing a lengthy article in which we accepted his challenge, we contacted several media types who promised to pass the information on to those in St. Louis.  So far it's been a week without response, and so yesterday we sent the following EMail to two St. Louis journalists:














to dgoold@post-dispatch.com,
rlaymance@post-dispatch.com
date Thu, Jul 23, 2009 at 3:22 PM
subject We want to test Albert Pujols
Greetings,

My name is Kurtis Evans, I write for a Chicago Cubs blog called Goat Riders of the Apocalypse (www.goatriders.org).  During the All Star break Albert Pujols, stung by allegations that he's cheated to achieve his ridiculous numbers, said he's willing to be tested "every day."

At the time, my website accepted his offer (http://www.goatriders.org/grota-challenges-pujols).  On the off chance that our acceptance never reached your inbox, I would like to make sure it does now.  We are serious about this; if Albert Pujols is willing to take daily drug tests to prove his innoncence, in the name of the game's sanctity we would like to help him. 

Please pass the message onto him on our behalf.

Kurtis Evans

We're still waiting ...

Goat Riders to Pujols: We Accept Your Offer

Steroids
Dear Albert:

Recently you were quoted as saying that you are frustrated by the steroid speculation that you have been the brunt of.  In your own words:

just because Manny made a mistake, now I have to pay? Just because A-Rod made a mistake, now I have to pay? Oh, guilt by association? That's wrong. . . .I would never do any of that crap. You think I'm going to ruin my relationship with God just because I want to get better in this game? You think I'm going to ruin everything because of steroids?  . . . . Come test me every day if you want, everything I ever made in this game I would give back to the Cardinals if I got caught.

Mr. Pujols, we can't accept this offer fast enough.  And let me say that we appreciate your generosity in making this offer.  After all, we at GROTA are firm believers in the importance of the sport's integrity.  There are millions of children out there who have grown up only to discover that their hero -- be it Manny, or Sammy, or Raffy, but not A-Rod (because nobody idolized him) -- is a cheat.  If you in fact are clean, sir, then you would be just about the only one.  That would be amazing!  That would be exactly what the sport needs!  We want to help you help baseball, Mr. Pujols!

So here's what we're going to do.  We at GROTA are a simple Cubs blog that you have surely never heard of (as people your age are not particularly internet savvy).  That means we're poor, working types who cannot easily afford the expensive tests that actually find the designer drugs.  So, we will start a charity drive here.  This charity drive will serve a two-folds purpose.

First, we will use that money to buy the really, really good drug tests.  Not the urine tests that you can beat, but hair follicle and blood tests.  A quick Google search confirms that these tests are expensive -- but they do exist and they work.  The problem with Major League Baseball, though, is that they only ask you to pee in a cup -- and I'm not convinced by any measure that you are unaware of when those tests are coming.  (Of course, that doesn't mean we think you're cheating, sir, it just means that we think it's possible that shady stuff could be going on.  We want to be sure, though, and we're sure you would appreciate our thoroughness.)

Since HGH is still undetectable in urine tests, blood is the only way to go.  David Epstein reports that HGH-seeking blood tests have existed for more than half a decade now, and there are some labs that will do a test for as little as $50 a pop.  Hair follicle tests for high levels of testosterone, on the other hand, appear to be pricier.  So let's just say -- and we'll confirm the exact figures later -- that we need to raise $250 a day to test you in hair and blood (and that might be on the conservative side.  Then again, who knows, perhaps there is a testing company in the Chicago area who would do it for free -- this is something we will look into).

I'm quite certain that the millions of Cub fans out there would donate more than that to prove your honesty, Mr. Pujols.  After all, Cub fans -- like all baseball fans -- want to prove the sport has integrity, and testing you would do that! 

Therefore, on the assumption that we can in fact raise more than the total daily cost of the drug test kits, the second thing we will do is this: whatever we have left over will go to a charity of your choice if you are clean.  (And on the unlikely chance that you are not clean and we have an overflow of donations, it'll go to a charity of our choice.  Either way the down-trodden win.  Perhaps there's a charity out there that benefits families scarred by steroid use -- we'll find them and help them out.) 

And if you are in fact unclean, sir, then rather than force you to "give back" everything you've ever made in the game to the Cardinals, you can instead donate it to a cause supported by this website -- and perhaps you'll also agree to retire in disgrace?  (We can discuss the ramifications of a failed test.  I'm sure we'll agree on something fair.)

Here's the thing, Mr. Pujols.  We won't just be testing you for a week or two.  We'll test you every single day of the regular and off-season.  We won't quit testing you in October -- we'll keep testing you for as long as you play and it comes up clean.  (But we will pay out to the charities in October if you have passed all 180+ tests each season.)  And although it's impossible to beat a blood test, we won't test you at a set time every day -- we will test you randomly, perhaps immediately before (or after) you have gotten on the team plane, or before (or after) you have entered your hotel, or before (or after) a game.  The point is you will never know when it's coming.

We would never have thought to issue this challenge had you not welcomed it with your statement.  But since you insist that you are clean, and as you welcome being tested "every day" -- your own words -- then it only makes sense that you stand behind what you have said. 

Also, we'd love to see a copy of your original birth certificate, but we can discuss that one later on.

So please, Mr. Pujols, I am sure that you are as anxious to clear your name as we are.  Contact us at media (at) goatriders (dot) org.  We'll set something up and get the ball rolling as soon as possible.

Y'know.  For the kiddies.  And to prove your innocence.  Really. 

Gamecast: July 11th vs. Cardinals

GameCastBrad Thompson (2-5, 4.92 ERA) vs. Ted Lilly (8-6, 3.32 ERA)
Story Lines

Derrek Lee hits a HR yesterday and we're all feeling good, until "he whom shall not be named" goes yard for the Cards and everything goes to hell.

The Cubs find themselves in a tough situation now after losing game one. They are 4.5 games back and in danger of getting run out of the NL Central Race. But Cub fans don't fear, because Ted Lilly is here!

If there is one man who can lead us through these dark times, it is our man Ted. Lilly's been the Cubs best pitcher and they are in need of a great performance.

In other news, Sam Fuld will join the Cubs in Soto's spot. That means Jake Fox is the backup behind the dish, and it means we probably won't see him in a game the the rest of the weekend.

Who's Hot

Ryan Theriot - The Riot had two hits yesterday, so I guess that is something.

Derrek Lee - Lee did his job by hitting the 3-run bomb. Too bad Rich couldn't get keep the Cards scoreless.

Who's Not

Reed Johnson, Kosuke Fukudome - They combined for an 0-for-10 yesterday. OUCH! Maybe they can do something today.

Aaron Heilman - The game was still close until Aaron walked to the mound. He two hits, two walks and four runs in an inning of work.

Conclusions
The Cubs need a win, but I have no clue what is going to happen. Which team shows up? Your guess is as good as mine. Today's game is on Fox, so pray they are giving you the game in your area.

Gamecast: May 19th vs. Cardinals

Ted Lilly (5-2, 3.27 ERA) vs. Joel Pineiro (4-3, 4.17 ERA)

Story Lines

The Cubs and Cardinals renew their rivalry in St. Louis tonight. The two teams seem to be heading into opposite directions. The Cardinals are 3-7 in their last 10, while the Cubs are 7-3.

The Cubs would be in first place if it weren't for the red-hot Milwaukee Brewers. As it stands, the Cubs are two games back of the Brewers.

The Cubs have put together a 21-15 record with all kinds of players who haven't played well or are injured.

Tonight the Cubs send Ted Lilly to the mound against Joel Pineiro. The Cubs probably have the better of the match ups tonight, but stranger things have happened.

Who's Hot

Derrek Lee - Hello Derrek, welcome to the 2009 season, even if it took him 36 games. In his last seven games, Lee's hitting .333 with 1.012 OPS. I really hope he is breaking out and not just a quick flash in the pan.

Kosuke Fukudome - Who's hitting .400 in his last seven? Well, if you guessed Fukudome, you're right. He's not hitting for power, but he has .454 OBP.

Angel Guzman - He is quickly overtaking Aaron Heilman as the 7th Inning
pitcher. He has looked dominate in the last couple outings, which is
something

Who's Not

Mike Fontenot - Err, where's Mark Derosa when you need him? Oh right, Cleveland. As for our 2B, he hasn't had a hit since May 9th. He's in the lineup tonight, but with Scales and Freel on the roster, he might start losing AB's.

Neal Cotts and David Patton - Are these guys still on the roster? I guess so, but I feel the winds of change coming.

Conclusions

The Cubs really need to keep hot with the Brewers playing the Astros this week, before heading to Minnesota. The Cubs do end the week in San Diego, so they have a great chance to gain some ground.

Gamecast: April 24th vs. Cardinals

cubs @ cards
Story lines

The Cubs come into the series down two games, and they are playing the best offense in the league (I gagged as I typed that). The Cubs have shifted around the lineup, thanks in part for Crazy Milton sitting out with only one hit this season. Ryan Dempster will try and get back to his dominating stuff from last year, instead of walking everybody.

The Cubs will also have to hold down Albert Pujols, who is crushing the ball early in the year.

Who's Hot

After two games and 1 run, I'm going out on a limb and saying nobody's hot. We need to win before anybody can move back up.

Who's Not

The Bullpen - I'm not ready to give on them, but we need some improvement.

The bottom third of the lineup - I could have said everybody, but it looks we need to get going.

Conclusions

The Cubs are scuffling heading into this season, and the Cards are coming off a sweep of the Mets. All it take is one game to get the next winning streak going. I think it starts tonight.

Most Valuable Player - they got it wrong, again

Albert Pujols is the best player in baseball. 

Today, and forever, he is the 2008 National League MVP.  As we all know, he played on a fourth-place team.  He was the best player in baseball this past year, on a team that finished below Houston.

Some of you may know where I'm going with this, so hang on.  But first, Brad Lidge was the MVP of the National League this past year.  He saved every game he was asked to.  Without him, the Phils do not win the East, let alone the whole bowl of chips.  I understand the voting took place before the playoffs, but as we well know here in Cubland, a bad closer equals lots of games pissed away equals a poor record and no postseason play.  Lidge was the Beast from day one to day last, and he should have been the MVP this year.

But Pujols was the best player in the league. Just like Andre Dawson was the best player in baseball in 1987, and of course, he won an MVP for a LAST place team.  Albeit, a team within 3 games of fourth. 

The difference?  Naturally, I am preaching to the wrong choir here, since none of us probably followed Pujols as closely as I followed Dawson in 1987.  I know that Dawson did not hit .220 in September, as Pujols did this year.  Yes, Pujols has a bad elbow.  Dawson's knees (rather infamously) were "bone rubbing against bone" as Harry Caray pointed out a million times that summer.

Anyway, if anyone did in fact follow Pujols day in, day out, this year, you can let us know.  Yes, he pretty much Led his team's offense this year, but I did not notice that he literally picked his team up and carried them on his back,as Dawson did that year.  Dawson had about 15 more homers and 20 more RBIs in an deader offensive era.  The Cubs won 77 games that year.  Without Dawson, they might have not won 60.

Pujols is the best player currently in baseball.  In 1987, Dawson was a Force of Nature.  He simply wasn't human.  That's why he deserved an MVP and Pujols doesn't.

Damn you, Cubs!

Although I have yet to see nor hear anything official, it would appear as though my cunning ruse will soon fail.

We've been planning on attending the Cubs-Jays series from the get-go, while intentionally skipping the stinking pile of poo that is Jason Marquis.  However, part of my hopes were on Carlos starting Friday's game against the hated Blue Jays.  Unfortunately, because Lou Piniella appears intent on the Cubs laying the smack down on the Braves, it's possible-if-not-likely that the Big Moose will be starting tomorrow night in Chicago.

The coup de grâce in this entire deal comes from the Blue Jays website.  We finally bought our tickets tonight to Friday's game, and the official website of the perennial third place AL East team reports that A.J. Burnett will be kicking off the three-game set by squaring off  against Cub phenom Sean Gallagher.  

Don't get me wrong, I like Gallagher quite a bit.  I'll enjoy watching him pitch.  But he is no Big Moose, not by a long-shot, and I am angry, fiercely angry at the Cubs for apparently trying their hardest to get to the playoffs by possibly enabling Carlos an extra start over the span of the baseball season.

But, hey, it's just one report and while I have intentionally avoided reading the Chicago papers, I have yet to hear anything official from the Cubs front office about it.  Besides, don't the Cubs know that A.J. Burnett is a tough pitcher and Carlos has a better chance of beating him?  Bastards.

Pujols wiped out

Get it?  It's a poo pun.  I'm sure the Desipiots aren't in the least bit surprised.

Anyway, it turns out that they don't make a band-aid big enough to cover all of the wounds on Albert Pujols.  ESPN is reporting that the man who broke the Major League color barrier will be out for the next three weeks, which is an excellent chance for the Cubs to spring toward sweet, delicious dominance.  You see, while the Cubs have a rough schedule ahead of them - they play 16 of their next 24 games on the road, including 18 against teams with .500 records or better - the Cardinals are also facing a difficult schedule.  They play 11 of the next 24 games on the road, including 9 in a row, including 9 against teams with .500 records or better.

Okay, so the Cubs definitely have a rougher ride ahead of them, but, without their key offensive player, St. Louis will not have any easy wins for the next three weeks.  This could have been a chance for the Cardinals to really close the gap between them and the Cubs - who definitely have a make-or-break month ahead of them - but now they will struggle to simply keep up.

Tough pu...jols.  (Couldn't resist). 

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