Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Tigers

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The best idea for a Cubs trade that you will read over the course of this offseason.

I'm going to cut to the chase on this one because I think it's such a good idea.

Milton Bradley and Ryan Theriot, for Curtis Granderson and Dontrelle Willis.

Boom. Absorb that gem of amazingness for a second while I tell you about how awesome it is.

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Before we try to decide which baseball numbers are most relevant, let's talk cash for a minute here.

As you well know, MB is owed $9mil in '10, and $12mil in '11 (guh).

Ryan Theriot is in his first year of arbitration eligibility, so it's hard to say what he'll be owed. Let's just call it $2mil every year til 2013 when he becomes a free agent.

As for the Tigers, Dontrelle Willis is owed $12mil next year (!), and Granderson is owed $5.5mil, $8.25mil, and $10mil over each of the next three seasons, with an option in 2013.

SUMMARY: Cubs would pay MB and RT about $27mil over the next three seasons, Tigers would pay CG and DW a combined $36mil.

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Let's move beyond business, to baseball.

The Cubs are (still, even after trading away Mark DeRosa,) too right-handed. They've got a right-handed shortstop that plays league average defense there -- surely, a commodity, but not necessarily an automatic keeper, either.

They need a center fielder, and they could use a lefty. Oh yeah, there's also the whole get-rid-of-Milton deal.

Granderson bats lefty and plays center. And even though he's traditionally led off, his .453 slugging percentage would put him behind only Lee and A-Ram of the Cubs' everyday players in the category -- as in, perhaps could be that middle-of-the-order lefty RBI guy.

The Tigers' starting shortstop, according to their depth chart, is some guy with a last name starting with D that I have never heard of. As in, they could use an unterrible shortstop. And given the state of the Detroit economy, they'd thank God if Hendry called and offered to take D-Train off their hands.

Would taking on Dontrelle be a complete waste of money? Maybe. But aside from the amount owed him in 2010 being exactly equivalent to MB's 2011 requirement, the NL is an easier place to pitch than the AL.

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The Cubs get rid of Milton. They lose Theriot, who is a player with positive value, but they have Andres Blanco's glove on the roster, and Starlin Castro on the fast track. They'd also get a quality left-handed bat to man center field for them.

The Tigers get a good shortstop, a guy that's proven he can mash at the DH spot, and the chance to erase the $12 million owed to Dontrelle from their books.

One potential challenge: convincing Dombrowski, who's wanting to get Granderson's contract off the books, to take on Milton's 2011 commitment (the 2010 pill should be easier to swallow given the savings the deal generates on D-Train's deal).

To that end, I'd be willing to spend a few million 2011 dollars on getting Milt's contract within a workable range to make the deal happen. That's how much value I think the trade adds to the Cubs.

Beyond that reason, tell me why this isn't a great idea.

Game & Series Recap: Tigers 6, Cubs 5 - SWEEEEEEP

Cubs (don't) Win!
First, before I get to the Recap, I will say what is on everybody's minds -- especially Jason, who I can tell is particularly pissed off by Rob's a-HAH! moment from yesterday.

Geovany Soto tested positive for, of all things, pot use back in the spring.  BIG F!_!(KING DEAL!!  Unless he was baking moments before a game it would NOT have affected his play any more than drinking the night before would have.  Blaming his slow start on smoking pot is flat-out ridiculous and we'll just leave it at that.

(P.S. For those wondering ... don't smoke, haven't smoked, will never smoke)

Onward to the even uglier side of things...

Either Detroit is really good or the Cubs are really terrible.  Maybe it's a bit of a mix of both.  But after winning 4 straight, Chicago has now lost 4 in a row.  They find themselves a game under .500, 3.5 back of the division.  As Jon Miller said on his show this morning, 3.5 games is basically "a good weekend," and while the Cubs haven't been getting timely hits they have at least been hitting regularly as of late.

At this point we have seen that they are capable of putting up runs, getting bit hits, winning in clusters, and out-pitching their opponents.  But we've also seen that it is not the norm.  Probably on Monday -- as I will be busy getting married this weekend -- I'll outline a few alternative lineups that Lou has never tried but probably should and we'll keep the debate alive.

In the meantime, guh.  What an ugly series.  Probably the biggest frustration on my part is the team's lack of doing something -- anything -- to fix the problems. 

Current Record: 34-35
Position in the NL Central: 4th place, 3.5 games out
Best Possible Record: 127-35
Worst Possible Record: 34-128
Record needed to win 110
: 76-17
On Pace For: 80-82

GameCast: June 25th vs. Tigers

GameCastTed Lilly (7-4, 3.04 ERA) vs. Armando Galarraga (3-7, 5.62 ERA)

Story Lines
The Cubs try and avoid a sweep today with staff ace Ted Lilly on the mound. After two pretty heartbreaking losses, the Cubs still find themselves 3.5 games out of first thanks to the Cardinals losing 11-0 to the Mets last night.

Things are not pretty in Chicago, and we all know that. It seems like the good karma we picked up last weekend is now gone after three straight losses. There is no reason to beat a dead horse, so lets go get a win.

Who's Hot
Geovany Soto - In this last 7 days, Geo's hitting .316 with a 1.335 OPS. I'm not saying he's out of the slump, but this is a good sign. He hit another home run last night, but I have a feeling he won't play today with the day after the night game.

Derrek Lee - Our 1B is not sporting a .294 average and a 21-game hitting streak. Too bad we can't get any wins for him.

Who's Not
Milton Bradley - He can't even break a bat correctly after striking out in the 9th last night.

Cubs hitting with RISP - They went 1-15 last night in those spots. You are not going to win many games like that.

Conclusions
The Cubs had 11 hits last night, but they were not at key times. At least they are getting some hits, but now they must come at clutch situations. If only we had a clutch player.

GameCast: June 24th at Detroit

Game CastRich Harden (4-3, 5.27 ERA) vs. Rick Porcello (8-4, 3.54 ERA)
Story-Lines

Just when you thought they were out of the woods, the Cubs have resumed hibernating.  Except they've actually been dealing with another problem the last few days.  Where before the team wasn't getting hits, now they're just not getting timely hits.  Perhaps it's the result of Von Joshua's hard work?

Anyway, the Cubs continue to pitch well but have been victims of an inordinate amount of really, really bad luck.  That includes Rich Harden, who hasn't been quite so invincible this year.  I'm sure he'll be looking to make up for his most recent attrocity of a game in some kind of epic manner tonight.

Who's Hot
The offense, except when it matters -- yesterday the Cubs managed to collect 7 hits and draw 4 walks, which really isn't so bad.      At the top of the list though has to be Derrek Lee and Micah Hoffpauir.  Lee got another two hits while Hoffpauir hit a go-ahead 2 run homer that should've won the game.

Who's Not
Kosuke Fukudome - As Rob might have mentioned, Fooky has been in the Slump of Slumps as of late.  Rob has given up on Kosuke, wheras I want to give him a bit more time to get out of this one before also raising the surrender flag on his career as a Cub.

Kevin Gregg - As we noted recently, he's actually been very reliable as of late.  But blowing a save and costing the Cubs a win is always reason to fall under the "not" category.

Conclusions
I still think that batting Soriano leadoff is a mistake, but it appears as if he'll stay there forever.  Oh well -- I guess the Cubs will have to find a way to win around that particular problem.

Game Recap: Cubs 4, Detroit 5 -- Another Tough One

Recap
Carrie Muskat called this one an "excruciating loss" in her recap. Not sure there are really too many other ways to describe it.

Usually the Cubs win when they score four runs, but a pinch hit home run off the Cub closer put the Tigers into the win column in Tuesday night's contest.

Intrepid reader Dizzle pointed out that Gregg's last 9.2 innings had happened without his giving up a run. Beyond that, Kevin Gregg has quietly been having a pretty fantastic June. He's struck out eight and walked just one opposing batter in 10.2 innings of work, posting a 1.69 ERA.

Was Kevin Gregg, in a way, on the wrong side of the "due" list coming into tonight's game? Unfortunately, I'd have to say, kinda.

Does that make him completely useless from here on out? Hardly. Before tonight's disaster, Gregg had an ERA below 3.00 since May 1. Furthermore, he's turning out to be a considerable improvement over the guy the Cubs passed on this offseason.

I hear ya, guys--losing this way sucks. Unfortunately, it's a pretty likely thing to have happen once or twice over the course of a season. Let's hope Gregg can get back on track and be ready to go the next time we need a save in a close game.

Gamecast: June 23rd vs. Tigers

Carlos Zambrano (4-2, 3.44 ERA) vs. Edwin Jackson (6-4, 2.39)

Story Lines

The Cubs travel to an American League park for the first time all season today, which means they can use the DH. Does that mean the offense will improve? On paper it should, but that also means Carlos Zambrano can't hit. I'm writing this early, so my guess is that Micah Hoffpauir will get the start at DH with the righty on the mound. Of course, Milton Bradley could DH and Micah could play OF.

The Cubs remain 2.5 games out after St. Louis' loss last night to the Mets, but the Cubs are facing a first place team that just beat up on the Brewers.

Carlos Zambrano will take the hill for the Cubs. He's been pretty solid of late, and hopefully he can keep the Tiger offense at bay long enough for the Cubs to generate some offense.

Who's Hot

Derrek Lee - Lee's been the best hitter of late, and he now owns the best average on the team. Now if anybody else could get hot the Cubs might move to the top of the NL Central.

Who's Not

Mike Fontenot - Mike is 2-for-12 in his last six game with no RBIs or Runs scored.

Conclusions

The Cubs showed a little heart last week picking up four wins a row, but the offense looked bad last night. Tonight's matcup isn't great, but hopefully the Cubs find a way to win.

Series Preview - Chicago Cubs vs Detroit Tigers



Overview


The Tigers remind me a lot of Cubs teams of yore.  They've got three pretty good hitters (Cabrera, Inge, and Granderson) and a bunch of pretty bad hitters (um...everyone else).  When I see that, my mind wanders to the days of Sosa, Grace, and whoever the third guy is in any given year. 


Those aren't such great memories.  Why'd I have to bring those days up again.


I'm not crying.  I'M NOT CRYING.

Of course, the Tigers are employing that formula and actually winning a bit.  I guess it helps to have some half-decent pitching.  Crazy, right?

So anyway, in this series the guys to watch out for are the three I mentioned.  Seriously.  Nobody else on that team can hit.  Ordonez has lost the ability to catch up to the fastball, Adam Everett never could hit, and Placido Palanco, the fourth tenor, has lost the ability to hit the high notes - er, fastballs.  Not so impressive.


But you know what's weird?  What's weird is that the Tiger's have hit better at home - a lot better - than on the road.  Given the cavern that is Tiger Stadium, that's fairly surprising.  I know they brought in the fences and all, but what happened to the park that caused people to say that the Tigers would never sign a big name free agent hitter?  Have I just not been paying attention?  Do I pay that little attention to the American League?

Oh.  Wait.  Yeah, that's it.  American League baseball is boring.  Right.

Got it.

The Matchups


Tuesday, June 23rd - Carlos Zambrano vs. Edwin Jackson

Incidentally, also like Cubs teams of yore*, the Tigers have three good pitchers and a bunch of mediocre/bad pitchers.  That is, if you believe that Edwin Jackson is a good pitcher.  Turned into a starter by the Tampa Bay Tampas of Tampa, Jackson has had a bad season followed by a mediocre season and then now this season.  I guess he's improving?

(* my what, you ask?  Mmmmm...punny)



I dunno what's come over Jackson (probably the fact that he's allowed a .255 BABIP.  Anything under .290 is considered luck to some degree), but it'd be great if he decided to stop.  Like, today.  I'm not, however, going to say that the Cubs should get to him and he's due to fall apart.  Every time I say that, things get bad.  Every single time.

Zambrano has been a beast since returning from the DL.  He's been nearly unhittable, keeping the ball on the ground and the hitter off balance.  I'd be more worried about the lack of strikeouts if he didn't look so good out on the mound.

Wednesday, June 24th - Rich Harden vs. Rick Porcello

Rich Harden, on the other hand...not so good.  What the hell happened to this guy?  I guess the easy answer would be to point at an injury as injuries can lead to poor control.  I mean, maybe that's it.  Or maybe he's just off to a really bad start.  Either way, it's be just super if he'd turn it around.

Rick Porcello, a rookie for the Tigers, has underwhelming numbers but pretty good success.  He doesn't strike out a ton of people and his control is nothing all that amazing, but he's been effective this year.  He throws about 1.5 groung balls for every play ball, so that's probably why he's gotten away with the middling periferals.


Thurday, June 25th - Ted Lilly vs. Armando Gallaraga

Lilly continues to be the solid of the solid, with his worst outings coming in at "okay".  He hasn't suffered through a really terrible start since April.  His secret?  Feasting on the blood of the Trixies.  Sadly, Trixies are nowhere to be found in Toronto, so he never had the chance to really find his true talent level.

Also, did you know you can make a really fetching lamp out of the skull of a Chad?  True story.

Gallaraga has been one of the crappy two thirds of the Tiger's rotation (that was a mouthful).  That's probably all you need to know.

Conclusion

Are the Cubs the new hotness or what their hotness simply a result of playing crappy competition?  Wouldn't you like to know. 

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