I’m having a blast. Wrigley is 10,000 times better than Citi (or Yankee). Amazing that a 95 year old park can be so much better than one that is three months old…
…No bombardment of audio nor advertising. Organ music…
Interesting that the stores sell tons of variant merch, but almost all just blue and red. Funny how teams can survive without black jerseys and a sponsored noisefest between every inning…
To the NY Yankees: you guys are on crack giving up what you had. If they can make this place work you could’ve made Yankee Stadium work without a Hard Rock Café.
Reading this late today made me feel good about the Cubs and Wrigley. Then I started looking back over today’s game stories.
The good feeling passed.
Writing at FirstInning.com, Matt Swain reports on lefthanded-hitting outfielder Kyler Burke, acquired back in ’07 by the Cubs from San Diego in exchange for Carlos Zambrano punching bag, Michael Barrett.
Of the 6-3, 205-pound Burke, currently boasting an 857 OPS for Class-A Peoria, Swain says:
…this breakout has been a long time coming, as Burke hasn’t enjoyed this kind of sustained success since high school. The puzzling part is trying to figure out what has changed. The ’06 supplemental first rounder hasn’t improved his plate discipline, line drive rates, or anything really. But his 27 doubles easily lead the league and make it hard for me to believe he’s just been lucky. One possibility is that hitting in front of Josh Vitters is affording him more fastballs to hit, and he is taking advantage. Burke has a sweet swing from the left side of the plate and a body that was made to play baseball. Right now he lives in the outfield gaps, and probably needs to alter his swing a bit to project for more power, but he has the bat speed to be a home run threat down the road.
The Boston Globe reports that the Cubs and Rays “have watched [Pedro] Martinez throw in the Dominican and both teams have begun to at least explore how much money it would take to lure Martinez back to the mound.”
The 36-year-old Martinez, who went 5-6, 5.61 for the Mets last season, has been unable to get teams to bite on his reported $5 million asking price.
At first blush, it’s hard to imagine why the Cubs are worried about starting pitching and not offensive help: Cub starters currently have the league’s best ERA (3.68), while the Cub offense has produced fewer runs than all but three other NL clubs.
But as Rob G. theorizes at The Cub Reporter, the addition of Martinez (pictured this spring pitching for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic) could then free up the team to trade a suddenly surplus starter like rookie Randy Wells for the much needed injection of offense.
In honor of this weekend’s Twins/Cubs series at Wrigley, the Cubs’ first taste of interleague play this year, I enlisted the incomparable Baseball-Reference.com to pull up a list of all players who have worn both Cubs’ and Twins’ uniforms.
Best Cub to also play for the Twins: One candidate would be righthanded pitcher Bill Hands, who won 92 games for the Cubs between 1966 and ’72, but went just 11-15 in two seasons in Minnesota.
Overall, though,the nod has to go to longtime Cub catcher, Randy Hundley, a cornerstone of the tragic ’69 team, who caught more than 900 games for the Cubs between ’66 and ’77. Along the way, Hundley set some records for durability—playing in 160 games in 1968—but he also destroyed his knees. That helps explain why he was so useless by the time he landed in Minneapolis in 1974, hitting just .193 in 32 games.
Best Twin to also play for the Cubs: Would have to be third baseman Gary Gaetti, who was a Twin between ’81 and ’90, hit 201 HRs as a Minnesotan, and played on two World Series-winning clubs for manager Tom Kelly.
As a Cub in ’98 and ’99, Gaetti hit 17 HRs, the most memorable of which helped the Cubs beat the Giants in a one-game playoff for the Wild Card berth.
Other players of recent vintage with Twins/Cubs pedigrees:
Rick Aguilera (pictured)
And if you’re asking, “Where the hell is George Mitterwald on that list?” remember, this is recent vintage. But rest assured, all weekend long, I will be saying to myself, “C’mon Cubs, let’s win this one for The Baron.”
Harden, who was disabled on May 18th because of a back strain, was limited to 70 pitches, which got him through the first 4 2/3 innings of the game, won by Iowa, 10-3.
The righthander gave up three hits, two walks, and two runs (only one earned), while fanning six. He was perfect through the first two innings, striking out three of the first six batters he faced, before Round Rock got to him for three singles and a run in the third inning.
“Everything felt good,” said Harden, who had a 4-2 record and 4.74 earned-run average before going on the disabled list May 22 with a back strain. “I just wanted to try and establish my command, work on getting ahead of the hitters, and throwing off-speed pitches for strikes…”
[Harden] reports [back to the Cubs] with the same pitches with which he left – a fastball that hit 92 miles-an-hour twice Monday, and the usual breaking and off-speed offerings.
“I swear, the hardest I ever threw in a rehab was 93 – ever,” Harden said. “I’ve never really been too concerned with my velocity. I’m not too concerned with that. It’ll be there.”
Round Rock’s Jason Smith was impressed, especially after striking out against Harden in the fourth inning.
“He threw me a split-finger during that at-bat was probably one of the best pitches I’ve ever seen,” Smith said. “His fastball didn’t have great velocity, but he put it where he wanted.”
Harden is expected to rejoin the Cubs in Houston and return to the rotation this Saturday, when the Twins visit Wrigley Field.
Through eight starts for the Cubs this season, Harden is 4-2 with a 4.74 ERA; since joining the team from Oakland last July, he is 9-3, 2.09, with 142 strikeouts in just 114 2/3 innings.
First of all, I fully realize how cynical it is of me to dwell on the negative following a 14-inning victory which allowed the Cubs to capture a road series and gain a game on all three teams ahead of them in the National League Central race.
But honoring incompetence is fun, and there was just so damn much of it on display Sunday, holding a bat and wearing a Chicago Cub uniform, that I just can’t help myself.
#3. Alfonso Soriano’s strikeout against David Weathers in the ninth inning, with the potential lead run at third base and two out. WPA -12.3%
#2. Micah Hoffpauir’s pop out against Jared Burton in the tenth inning, with the bases loaded and two out. WPA -17.5%
And the most damaging moment on Sunday…
#1. Geovany Soto’s double-play ball against Francisco Cordero, with men at first and second and one out in the 13th inning. WPA -22.3%
Interestingly, Soto, who didn’t start the game and didn’t even enter the frey until pinch-hitting for Aaron Heilman in the top of the ninth, accumulated a WPA of -33.6% in just four, fruitless at-bats.
And Alfonso Soriano, whose 14th-inning home run proved the game-winning blow, increased the Cubs’ probability of victory by 33.2% with that one stroke. Up until that point in the game, however, Soriano, who was 0-for-5 before hitting in the 14th, had a cumulative WPA of -20.2% for the afternoon.
In three of the first four innings of Saturday night’s loss at Cincinnati, the Cubs had a man standing at second base with none out and couldn’t bring him home.
They have also been miserable all season long with bringing men home from third with less than two out:
In 114 such situations through Friday night’s game, they have generated just 57 runs (50%). That is by far their worst performance in the last ten years. In fact, the ’09 Cubs have generated an OPS of just 698 with a man on third and less than two outs. Not only is that a ten-year team low, it’s a ten-year low by a mile. (The ’08 Cubs’ 808 OPS is the distant runner-up.)
The best I can say about the Cub offense right now is that it is sufficiently pathetic to distract me from what a terrible third base Mike Fontenot played tonight.
Statistics from Baseball-Reference.com.
One night after Randy Johnson won his 300th game, Carlos Zambrano won his 100th.
It has taken Zambrano eight full seasons plus a fraction of a ninth to get to 100, so he’s averaging about 12.5 wins per season. Assumings he continues to win games at the same rate, he’ll reach the 300 mark in just 16 more years, when Z will be 44 years old, and the Cubs will be 117 years removed from their last World Series win.
Also tonight, Zambrano cracked a home run which proved critical in the Cubs’ one-run victory over the Reds. It was Zambrano’s 18th career HR, extending Z’s career record for home runs by a Cubs pitcher. (Fergie Jenkins ranks second with 13.)
Randy Johnson, who has played 22 seasons, has hit one career HR. At that rate and assuming Zambrano never hits another home run, Johnson will catch up with the slugging Cubs pitcher in 374 years, when The Big Unit is 419 years old.
I think Zambrano has a better chance of reaching 300. Or maybe not.
Through tonight’s crushing defeat in Atlanta, the Cubs’ Randy Wells has started five games in 2009, pitched a total of 32 2/3 innings and allowed 6 earned runs.
He is 0-2, with 3 no-decisions and an ERA of 1.69.
In Wells’s five starts, the Cub bullpen has pitched a total of 13 1/3 innings and allowed 11 earned runs, for an ERA of 7.43. Kevin Gregg has personally allowed 6 earned runs in just 1 inning pitched.
Again, in Wells’s five games, he has allowed 6 ER in 32 2/3 IP.
In those same five games, Kevin Gregg has allowed 6 ER in 1 IP.
That’s all that needs to be said about that.
A selection of reactions to Friday’s tense Cub victory as it happened:
@dodgerthoughts #Dodgers-Cubs underway. Martin singles but is stranded in top of first.
@dodgerthoughts Billingsley retires Cubs in order on 12 pitches with two strikeouts.
@TheBlogfines Great start to the second for the Cubs. Please get those 2 in. I’ll settle for 1 even after seeing last night’s execution.
@TheCubsInHaiku Here we go again / Two on with nobody out / #Cubs score zero runs
@TedLillyFanClub at rooftop, lots of tedheads floating around
@TheBlogfines Andres Blanco does something good for a change, makes a great play up the middle, and sick dig by Lee at first to get out of it. Still 0-0.
@Aisle424 Go Andy White Go. You kind of suck and have already helped the team more than Aaron Miles.
@TheBlogfines No hop out of Soriano when he caught a flyball! That’s the best thing he’s done in about 2 weeks.
@dodgerthoughts Blanco has stranded five baserunners in two at-bats for #Cubs. 0-0 tie with the Dodgers, top of the fifth.
@Aisle424 I think Ronnie just stopped himself from saying “God damn it!” We’re all right there with you, Ron
@TheCubsInHaiku Now is the time, #Cubs / Fukudome on third base / With nobody out
@TorturedFanBase This is pissing me off. It’s one thing when no one gets a hit-its another when 2 guys come up and just piss away their AB #Cubs
@gameticker Matt Kemp home run off Ted Lilly (23% change in win probability) Cubs 0, Dodgers 1 in the 7th
@wpbc Koyie Hill-shocker
@TorturedFanBase Fukey sac fly #cubs up 2-1. Cubs fans are the greatest!
@cubs_fg 2-1, 84 % to Win, Top 8, 2 Outs, ___, Juan Pierre ground dp off pitcher Carlos Marmol.
@TedLillyFanClub goggled one warming up
@Aisle424 Wrigley on their feet.
@The Blogfines And Scales boots what would end the game. Now I’ll be surprised to come out of this inning better than tied.
And Friday’s AHNY Tweet of the Game goes to…@Aisle424 for his heartfelt ode to Andres Blanco:
Go Andy White Go. You kind of suck and have already helped the team more than Aaron Miles.
Touching, and said only the way a true Cub fan could say it.