Thursday, September 30, 2004

Go Padres, Dodgers, Rockies.....

officially we can't be eliminated until Saturday at the soonest......I'll attempt to recover this evening for one last desperate attempt this weekend. Let's hope some other teams play spoilers like the Reds did.

Prior though found his groove.....what an absolutely outstanding big game performance. Every Cubs player needs to go to his locker and give them their apologies. He deserved that win today.

What a shame.....nothing to do at this point but win your games and hope some teams help you out.


This is the only way I can cope. I'm going to wax poetic here a bit, so bear with me...

My gut tells me you just don't recover after a loss like that, much like you don't win game seven last year after blowing that lead in game six , but my heart tells me I have to scrape whatever "fandom" I have left and hope and pray it works out somehow. I've been living and dying with this team for 24+ years(since I was 5) and I know many have been doing it longer. But I've seen and gone through worse like Brant Brown's dropped fly ball in 1998, any year that involved Don Baylor as our manager or Ed Lynch as our GM. This year still has a chance to work out. And maybe some people's definition of being a fan is to bitch about everbody and everyone as soon as things don't go the way they think they should. Well with 4 games left I don't see the point, the cavalry isn't coming.

So until it's truly over, I'm going to go root for my team and if they do pull this out, at least I'll know in my heart that I belong there celebrating with them. The time will come after the season to reflect on what needs to be improved, what could have been done better, but right now it's about one thing and one thing only. BELIEVING!!!

It's corny, it's silly, it's even Disneyesque but I don't see any other alternative at the moment. If I don't believe, and you don't believe, I certainly don't expect the Cubs players to believe. This team didn't give up in April when their best pitcher got sent to the DL for 2 months. They didn't give up in May when Wood and Sosa got sent to the DL. They didn't give up in June when they faced a brutal schedule and promptly went 15-13. They didn't give up in July when they had to start penciling Alex Gonzalez's name back in the lineup. They didn't give up in August even though Sosa struck out something like 1000 times with runners on and they won't give up in September despite blowing 2 9th inning leads to crappy teams. So I certainly don't expect them to give up tomorrow. Yeah it's a tough spot, we have to win all 4 games and possibly a tie-breaker, that's fine, whatever it takes. And if they don't do it, yep, I'll be pissed, things will get thrown, my weekend will be ruined. But I'll pick up my cap, dust it off, unearth my Prior jersey and be ready for Opening Day next year. I will never give up on this team, I will always be a Chicago Cubs fan.

Go kick their ass tomorrow Cubbies!!!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

that blew......

well that completely ruined my evening, win the FUCKING game today Cubbies!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

A Notes Column.....

A couple of things to mention, none of which require a lot of detail:

- The Angels suspended Guillen for the rest of the season and playoffs. apparently for showing up Scioscia on live television for being taken out for a pinch runner after getting hit in the foot. Everyone thinks there's more to this story and I'm inclined to agree. Guillen must have threatened or done something REALLY, REALLY stupid in the clubhouse to warrant this move. Personally if he did something like that, then you have to appreciate the Angels move, no player is above the team. They say it wasn't a message move but it obviously is. The Angels are my 2nd favorite team, so it's a tough move but more power to them. I still think they can beat the A's(only if they can beat the Rangers though)

- Ichiro's run at the hits record is rather meaningless to me. Don't get me wrong, he's the best leadoff man in baseball, but so many of his hits are of the infield/slap/single variety that they are absolutely NO different than a walk as they don't advance runners more than one base. A matter of fact taking more pitches would be more beneficial in the long run. Give the guy credit, he has an amazing ability to place a baseball with his bat, but MVP, not even close.

-My current award winners without any reasons:
AL MVP: Manny Ramirez
AL Cy Young: Johan Santana
AL ROY: Lew Ford

NL MVP: Mr. Bonds
NL Cy Young: Randy Johnson, close 2nd is Ben Sheets (although I think Zambrano or Clemens ends up with it)
NL ROY: Jason Bay

Managers of the Year(Better known as the award for the guy who's in charge of a team that the media thought would suck at the beginning of the year): Buck Showalter, Jim Tracy

- MLB O-zone stat is a joke, please ignore it. Read
this guy
if you don't believe me.

- On Friday night, the Dodgers brought in Eric Gagne in the bottom of the 9th with Barry Bonds due up 4th. Gagne walked the 3rd batter, which was soon followed by a trip from Jim Tracy where he was ordered to intentionally walk Mr. Bonds. He then managed to walk J.T. Snow to walk the bases full before Y. Torrealba hit a liner out to LF.

So with arguably the best reliever in the game, you don't trust him to get the final out. You will pay for this scaredy cat move, Mr. Tracy, some day soon. Playing with fear will always catch up to a team, no matter what sport you play. Mark my words on this one....the baseball gods will make the Dodgers pay for this some day soon.

- I've given up being angry at Baker's insistence to keep pitchers out there for 120+ pitches in blowouts, like death and taxes, it's just going to happen, I'll have to accept it.

Monday, September 27, 2004


Didn't I mention something about not having a letdown? No reason to recall the horrors of the weekend as we still ended up 8-4 on the road trip and in 1st place of the wild card(focus on the positive, focus on the positive). Our last chance to beat up on some chumps:

Some numbers:
Runs Scored: Cubs -7th, Reds -10th
OBP: Cubs - 11th, Reds -8th
SLG: Cubs -3rd, Reds - 9th
BA: Cubs - 6th, Reds -13th

K/BB: Cubs-2nd, Reds- 12th
ERA: Cubs -3rd, Reds-15th
HR Allowed: Cubs - 5th, Reds - 16th (Worst in league)

Zambrano vs Claussen (5.91 ERA)
Maddux vs. Hancock (5.50 ERA)
Rusch vs. Hudson (2.55 ERA)
Prior vs. Harang(5.03 ERA)

Just keep winnin'.....just keep winnin'.....just keep winnin'

Here's the playoff race update:
Cubs 87-68 (7 games left & 1-2 since last post)
Home(43-32) 7 games left - Reds(4) Braves(3)
Away(44-36) 0 games left
**Note** - Please don't blow this, please don't blow this

Giants 87-69 (6 games left & 1-2 since last post).
Home(47-35) 0 games left -
Away(40-34) 6 games left - Padres(3), Dodgers(3)
**Note** Have to root for the Padres in this series and hope the NL West is close enough that the dodger series is relevant

Astros 86-70 (6 games left & 2-1 since last post).
Home(42-33) 6 games left - Cardinals(3), Rockies(3)
Away(44-37) 0 games left
**Note** "Oswalt is going to battle through injuries for his last 2 starts, Rolen is due back as well.

Padres 85-71 (6 games left & 3-0 since last post).
Home(41-37) 3 games left - Giants(3)
Away(44-33) 3 games left - D'Backs(3)
**Note** Still have to win outright in my opinion to have any chance

Dodgers 89-66 (7 games left & 2-1 since last post)
Home (45-29) 7 games left - Rockies(4), Giants(3)
Away (44-37) 0 games left
**Note** The Rockies can play the ultimate spoiler role this week, Dodgers very much want to go into Giants series clinched already or no worse than a tie.

Cubs control their own destiny(that shoud be good right?), and need at least 3 of 4 from Reds. I was hoping for a Thursday/Friday clinch, I fully expect this to go down to at least Saturday, probably Sunday. 91 wins gets you a tie, 92 should clinch it in my opinion. 6 of 7 will GUARANTEE us a tie, all 7 and we win it outright with no help.

I expect no favors from the Braves other than tinkering their rotation so they're set for the playoffs. I'm pretty sure all their regulars will play because if you're Bobby Cox and the Braves, if you have the CHANCE to knock the Cubs out now rather than later, I'd go for now.

Friday, September 24, 2004


Hopefully no letdown today against a team with a lame duck manager and a bunch of players not all that interested in baseball at the moment. Last city in our 12 game, 4 city road trip......ignore the night life fellas!!!

Some numbers:
OBP: Cubs - 11th, Mets -14th
SLG: Cubs -1st, Mets - 11th
BA: Cubs - 4th, Mets -15th
Runs Scored: Cubs - 7th, Mets - 12th

K/BB: Cubs-2nd, Mets- 15th
ERA: Cubs -3rd, Mets-8th
HR Allowed: Cubs - 5th, Mets -3rd

Rusch vs. Benson(4.44 ERA 57BB/121K)
Prior vs Heilman (4.86 ERA in 3 games and 8BB/12K)
Wood vs. Leiter (3.19 ERA which is 2.45 at home, 90BB/106K - can we all say lucky?)

Once again a team/ballpark that doesn't give up a lot of homers, to our homer happy Cubs. We did survive Pitt though with only 1 homer from Ramirez the whole series.

Keep up the magic...cubbies. "Just keep winnin'.....just keep winnin'....just keep winnin'"

Just keep winnin'......

Just keep winnin'.....just keep winnin'.....just keep winnin'.
For some reason that phrase keeps going through my head evertime I think about the Cubs (and for those 'Finding Nemo' fans, just repeat that phrase like "Dory" does in the film replacing her swimming with winning, it's rather catchy)

The Padres didn't do us a favor last night, but the Astros did. This leaves us 1 game behind the Dodgers and a 1/2 game up on the Giants, 2 1/2 on the Astros, with the Padres barely holding on at 4 1/2 games. The Cubs once again hold their faith in their own hands, which is where you want to be with 10 games left. (well actually I'd rather be where the Cardinals are at this point)

Here's the playoff race update:
Cubs 86-66 (10 games left & 3-0 since last post)
Home(43-32) 7 games left - Reds(4) Braves(3)
Away(43-34) 3 games left - Mets(3)
**Note** - Just keep winnin', just keep winnin', just keep winnin' - I told you it's catchy

Giants 86-67 (9 games left & 2-1 since last post).
Home(46-33) 3 games left - Dodgers(3)
Away(40-34) 6 games left - Padres(3), Dodgers(3)
**Note** A little bullpen implosion helped the cause last night. I hate the Dodgers more, but not seeing Mr. Bonds in the playoffs can't be that bad.

Astros 84-69 (9 games left & 1-2 since last post).
Home(42-33) 6 games left - Cardinals(3), Rockies(3)
Away(42-36) 6 games left - Brewers (3)
**Note** "Go Cards!", he says painfully

Padres 82-71 (12 games left & 2-1 since last post).
Home(38-37) 6 games left - Giants(3), D'Backs(3)
Away(44-33) 3 games left - D'Backs(3)
**Note** They need to win their last 9 games and still hope for a Cubs/Dodgers/Giants collapse or some combo thereof.

Dodgers 87-65 (10 games left & 1-2 since last post)
Home (45-29) 6 games left - Rockies(4), Giants(3)
Away (42-36) 3 games left -Giants (3)
**Note** HUGE win for them last night, may have saved their postseason chances.

If I was a betting man at this moment, I'd take the Dodgers and Cubs, although counting against Mr. Bonds is tough.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

This is funny...

I came across this while looking for some Baker quotes for a post I'm planning. It was back in April or something but many ways can you say funny?

"I'm so sick of people saying that 'scouting's the thing of the past,' or that 'you've got to analyze with numbers.' This is a franchise that's done everything the 'old school way' since the beginning, and we've won almost 400 games since coming into the league. But do the statheads ever acknowledge that? Or is that not enough of a 'sample size' or something?"
--Chuck LaMar, Devil Rays general manager

"Statistics can mean whatever you want them to mean. There's no accountability there--that's the problem."

"See, there you go again! Four-hundred's a lot, but you try to make it sound like that's not very good. How many games have you won, huh? How many? ...That's what I thought."
--LaMar, after being informed that his team has won only 39% of its games since 1998

Ahhhh....Chuck, the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Orioles will always have a good thing to say about you.

That's GOOD baseball...

So much to write about it.....

The Cubs take care of business and sweep the Pirates including last night's miraculous 1-0 Zambrano/Perez dual. Maybe one of the best games I've watched in a long time. 2 starters were dealing, great defense and the PLAY of the year by Sammy!!!! Maddux got his 15th win today and pitched mostly well (not to mention one of the great reactions when he gave up that 3rd run...pretty sure he didn't want that pitch there). That's 17 straight years with 15 or more wins.........impressive...MOST IMPRESSIVE!!!

A loss tonight by the Dodgers to the Padres (Ishii 4.75 ERA 85BB/83K's vs Wells(3.50 ERA 17BB/90K's) and the Cubs will be tied with Dodgers and either a half game up or down on the Giants). Can't imagine what Ishii's ERA would be if he didn't pitch half his games in Dodger Stadium. Poor Dodgers...

At the moment it's a 4 team race(barely) with 2 spots open. Dodgers, Giants, Cubs & Astros. Dodgers and Giants get to beat each other up for 6 games as well. The only way the Cubs don't make the playoffs at this point is if they BLOW it.

I have a few more thought provoking topics to write on including MLB's O-Zone, Ichiro, the fall of the Angels, the fall of my fantasy team and the awards race that I'll try and get to in the next couple of days.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Updated pitcher starts

The word is Baker is skipping Clement at least for the next start and going with Rusch...Interesting!!! Clement has struggled since the break while Rusch has pitched well in moderate action. Here would be the updated pitcher starts if Baker goes that way the rest of the season.

@Pirates(3) - Wood, Zambrano, Maddux
@Mets(3) - Rusch, Prior, Wood
Cincy (4) - Zambrano, Maddux, Rusch, Prior
Braves(3) - Wood, Zambrano, Maddux

Unfortunately this leaves Rusch as the starter if we play a tie-breaker, I do not like this, Baker had the luxury with the doubleheaders to tweak his rotation accordingly and it seems short-sighted to not think that far in the future. But a combo Clement/Rusch for a tie-breaker game would not make me happy, especially if it's the Giants as Clement has struggled most of his career against them. Let's hope it's a mute point.

13 games left....

According to, Rusch will be starting Friday against the Mets as Baker's plan to sweep the doubleheader versus the Marlins didn't exactly work out. I really don't know his plan now, is he going to skip Clement or go with a 6 man rotation? Of course with how many pitches Prior threw last night, an extra day off wouldn't be bad, not that we can afford it though. Personally let Clement pitch Friday on 3 days rest as he barely threw any pitches yesterday.

The matchups for this series:
Wood vs Fogg (4.82 ERA, 63BB/75K, 15 HR allowed)
Zambrano vs Perez (3.22 ERA, 72BB/217K, 22 HR allowed)
Maddux vs Van Benschoten(6.91 ERA, 19BB/18K, 3HR allowed in 28.2 IP)

Wednesday's ESPN2 game should be fun, and hopefully we don't make Fogg look so good again. Garciaparra is hopeful to return this series as well.

Runs Scored: Cubs -7th, Pirates -13th
OBP: Cubs - 11th, Pirates -12th
SLG: Cubs -1st, Pirates - 13th
BA: Cubs - 4th, Pirates -11th

K/BB: Cubs-3rd, Pirates- 10th
ERA: Cubs -3rd, Pirates-10th
HR Allowed: Cubs - 6th, Pirates - 1st

I'm a little worried about this series, the Pirates don't give up a lot of homers as a staff, we rely on homers as an offense and throw in that PNC is very friendly to lefties(which we have few of) but not righties (which we have a lot of). I'm nervous. Another sweep would be great but 2 out of 3 wil suffice. Astros and Giants are matched up for the next 3 games as well, so we should gain ground on one of them. I'm hoping Walker gets 2 of the 3 starts over Grudz in this series, but I don't expect it.

I do have to give credit to our bullpen lately, they have seriously stepped it up. Some numbers of our bullpen:

9/20 vs. Marlins 5.2 IP, 0 Runs, 3BB/6K
9/20 vs. Marlins 1.1 IP, 0 Runs, 0BB/0K
9/19 vs. Reds 2 IP, 0 Runs, 1 BB/1K
9/18 vs. Reds 2 IP, 0 Runs, 3BB/4K
9/17 vs. Reds 2 IP, 3 Runs, 1BB/3K
9/16 vs. Reds 2IP, 0 Runs, 0BB/2K
9/15 vs. Pirates 4 IP, 0 Runs, 1BB, 6K
9/14 vs. Pirates 6 IP, 0 Runs, 1BB/6K
9/13 vs. Pirates 2 IP, 2 Runs, 0BB/2K

That's a 1.67 ERA over the last week not to mention that the 3 runs versus the Reds that Wellemeyer gave up on Friday and the 2 runs that Dempster gave up on 9/13 were when both games were already decided. I've been critical of the bullpen most of the season but I have to applaud them lately.

The last bad outing was against the Marlins on 9/12 when Mitre and Leicester gave up 6 runs in 4.1IP after a rough 3.1 IP by Rusch. Of course Farnsworth is back and Baker will use him, Oh Boy!!!!!

Monday, September 20, 2004

Playoff race update

A little busy at work so just enough time to update the playoff race - I'm eliminating the Phillies (and probably the Marlins & Padres by next week) and adding the Dodgers:

Cubs 83-66 (13 games left & 6-2 since last post)
Home(43-32) 7 games left - Reds(4) Braves(3)
Away(40-34) 6 games left - Pirates(3), Mets(3)
**Note** Lost control of their own destiny today in terms of winning outright, still can match wins with the Giants for a tie.

Giants 84-66 (12 games left & 5-1 since last post).
Home(44-32) 6 games left - Astros (3), Dodgers(3)
Away(40-34) 6 games left - Padres(3), Dodgers(3)
**Note** They miss Clemens unfortunately but get Oswalt, as long as they don't sweep the Astros I won't get worried.

Astros 83-67 (12 games left & 5-1 since last post).
Home(42-33) 6 games left - Cardinals(3), Rockies(3)
Away(41-34) 6 games left - Brewers (3), Giants(3)
**Note** Still have to root for the Cards....This is PAINFUL!!!

Marlins 79-70 (13 games left & 4-5 since last post).
Home(42-35) 3 games left - Phillies(3)
Away(37-35) 10 games left - Braves(3), Phillies(4), Expos (3)
**Note** These fish are FRIED(the cheesy headlines are back)...Last 10 games are still on the Road

Padres 80-70 (12 games left & 3-3 since last post).
Home(36-36) 9 games left - Dodgers (3), Giants(3), D'Backs(3)
Away(44-33) 3 games left - D'Backs(3)
**Note** I'm no longer worried about them, losing half your infield will do that.

Dodgers 86-63 (13 games left)
Home (45-29) 6 games left - Rockies(4), Giants(3)
Away (41-34) 6 games left - Padres (3), Giants (3)
**Note** The injuries to the Padres might save this team, plus 4 games with the Rockies. If they win in the playoffs I'll be ABSOLUTELY amazed. Still wouldn't be surprised if the Cubs end up battling them for the WC spot.

Dodgers are 9-9 in September, Cubs 11-6, Giants 11-5, Astros 14-4.
Some seperation occurred last week as the Astros, Giants & Cubs look to be the last meaningful contenders(throw in the Dodgers if you like). 2 weeks of high intensity baseball.....this should be fun. Having a healthy Garciaparra would be extra nice. As usual GO CUBS!!!

Friday, September 17, 2004

Tonight's matchups....

Well tonight's a good day to gain some ground:

Atl vs. Flo
Byrd (3.34 ERA) vs. Kensing (15.00 ERA)

Mil vs. Hou
Sheets (2.83 ERA) vs. Oswalt (3.55 ERA)

Peavy (2.26 ERA) vs. Lowry (4.35 ERA)

Cubs vs Cincy
Zambrano (2.80 ERA) vs. Hudson (2.43 ERA - only 4 starts this year)

Mon vs. Phi
Armas (4.88 ERA) vs. Milton (4.87 ERA)

I'll even throw in the Dodgers as I'm sticking to my "I won't be surprised if we end up fighting the Dodgers as well for the WC spot" assertion:

LA vs Col
Nomo(7.73 ERA) vs. Wright (4.13 ERA)

Don't know what to say about last night's game, another one run victory though, it's becoming an epidemic. If we even out our record in those, we'll cruise to the Wild Card. A-Ram baby, thing of beauty.

Keep it going....

Thursday, September 16, 2004

More useless playoff probabilities

If the Giants play at their winning percentage they'll be around 90-72 or 91-71 to end the season (8-7 or 9-6 in their last 15 games). For the Cubs that means going 12-7(.632 winning percentage) the rest of the way would give us 91 wins. With the competiton we're facing that should be possible, 1 win vs the Marlins(out of 2), 6 vs the Reds(out of 8), 2 vs Mets(out of 3), 2 from the Pirates(out of 3), 1 from the Braves(out of 3). All of that seems very reasonable to me(although I certainly hope we do better) and with the Giants competition, 91 might be a stretch for them, although they do have Mr. Bonds. With K. Greene out, the Padres road got a bit tougher, the Phils would have to win out from now just to reach 91, the Marlins just loss A.J. Burnett for at least a start, which leaves the Astros. They worry me as well, veteran team, last chance for a lot of them, and Clemens/Oswalt is tough. They do have a suspect bullpen and 3/5th's of a poor starting rotation which means they could lose 2 out of 3 to the Brewers much like that 3 out of 5 to the Pirates. They also would have to go 12-4 to get to 91 wins against tougher competition than the Cubs face. I'm still feeling quite hopeful.

To summarize and since for some reason I believe 91 wins is the magic number, here is what the teams will have to do the rest of the way to get to 91: (These are unweighted winning percentages meaning 8 games versus the Reds is the same as 2 versus the Marlins)

Giants: 9-6.....Remaining opponents winning percentage: .551
Cubs: 12-7.....Remaining opponents winning percentage: .493
Astros: 12-4....Remaining opponents winning percentage: .549
Marlins: 15-4....Remaining opponents winning percentage: .518
Padres: 13-3....Remaining opponents winning percentage: .482
Phillies: 16-0...Remaining opponents winning percentage: .467

In less than perfect math if we weigh them(oppenents winning percentage x games played versus that team....add it all up and divide it by TOTAL GAMES LEFT)
Giants - .553
Cubs - .483
Astros - .513
Marlins - .521
Padres - .470
Phillies - .474

For the Astros, in my opinion, they'd have to split the last 4 with the Cards, 2 out of 3 from Giants, and win out versus Rockies and Brewers for the magical 12-4. The Padres get to face the D'Backs for 6 which lowers their opponent winning percentage, but that also means they could face R. Johnson twice. The Cubs don't have the easiest road in terms of opponents winning percentages but they also have the least farthest to go(besides the Giants), not to mention everyone else has to beat up on each other. If the Giants win this thing or take over the say the least they deserve it. If we don't make it, to say the least, we blew it cause it's ours for the taking.

And I'm going out on a limb here, but it would not suprise me the least if we end up fighting the Dodgers for this Wild Card spot as well, they're limping to the finish with a horrible rotation, one reliever left and an average offense. Penny is due back Wednesday which certainly will help but how much will he pitch and how effective. The only good news for them is they have 7 games left versus the Rockies, which may just be enough to get them in.

Great American Ballpark.....

Great name for a stadium......right up there with the former, "The Ballpark" in Arlington....which is now a mortgage company.

Anyway 50% chance of rain in Cincy the next 2 days....more doubleheaders would be very bad. The Giants seem to have taken care of their business with the Brewers as their currently up 4-0 in the bottom of the eight. Their next 15 games are all against good teams though that they've gone 11-18 so far this season against, if that means anything. And they'll probably miss Clemens when they face the Astros but will get the Oswalt, all this after missing Sheets in Milwaukee.

Some numbers:

Runs Scored: Cubs -8th, Reds -10th
OBP: Cubs - 11th, Reds -10th
SLG: Cubs -1st, Reds - 9th
BA: Cubs - 5th, Reds -14th

K/BB: Cubs-3rd, Reds- 12th
ERA: Cubs -3rd, Reds-15th
HR Allowed: Cubs - 6th best, Reds - 16th (Worst in league)

Wood vs. Hancock (5.82 ERA)
Zambrano vs Hudson (2.43 ERA but in 6 games and a 14BB/22K ratio)
Maddux vs. Harang (4.89 ERA)
Clement vs. Hilson...I mean Wilson(4.85 ERA)

Just keep taking care of business

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I change my mind...

After the last 2 games, Iet Clement pitch the tie-breaker if it comes to that, otherwise sit Prior and use him in long relief. His lack of control this year is alarming and if he doesn't have his control the Cards will destroy him as will the Braves and Dodgers most likely. He's definitely been our 5th best starter this year and there's no reason to think otherwise.

Good win today (2 outs in the top of the 9th as I write this with a 13-5 lead). Prior was once again disappointing.


A quote from Baker also stolen from the Cub Reporter reader 'MannyTrillo':

"This has been the worst year of injuries I've had as a manager," Baker said Tuesday. "As soon as you get whole, another part goes down.

"I don't appreciate people getting on this team so much about different things, small things, because of the amount of injuries we've had and we've had to overcome a lot," Baker said. "People say, 'How come you're not in first place like the Cardinals?' They haven't had the injuries we had this year and we didn't have the injuries they had last year.

"When the year starts, they ask, 'What do you want out of the year?' and you say good health and everybody laughs at you. Good health is something we take for granted but it's real. I've always said if I can keep my first team on the field more than yours, we're going to beat you. Where we are right now, even though we're not where we want to be, we've done it short most of the year."

Look I hate excuses more than the next guy, but I really think the Cubs are in this predicament mostly cause of injuries. And yes they got most of their guys back by what July, but it's not that easy, it takes awhile to get going sometimes and the nagging injuries on top of that haven't helped the cause and they've barely been whole for any reasonable length of time.
Here's a list:

Cubs 2004 Injuries (60 denotes 60 day DL, * is what I consider a key injury, all info from
Remlinger x2
*Grudzielanek (60)
*Prior (60)

Cubs 2003 Injuries (60 denotes 60 day DL, * is what I consider a key injury, all info from
Veres x2

That's 7 key injuries to 4, not to mention a lot more time lost. Some will argue with the Gonzalez and Borowski as key injuries. Here's my take, Gonzalez did suck, but you couldn't trade him until he got healthy and the replacement that were in there were even worse than him, Borowski has been good the last 2 years and I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm betting the reason he sucked this year is cause of what ailed him and he refused to let anyone know or just tried to suck it up. For reference Cardinal injuries:

2004 Injuries
Rick Ankiel
R. Cedeno
M. Lincoln
*S. Kline
K. Calero

2003 Injuries
L. Painter
*J.D. Drew x2
*E. Marrero
R. Springer
K. Calero
C. Widger
*M. Morris

Not a meaningful injury to the Cards all year to be honest, Matheny is good defensively but that's about it and S. Kline is a reliever.

I'm going to go listen to the game....hopefully the brooms will be out.


C-Pat saves the day yesterday as we make a guy with a 5+ ERA who likes to give up the homer on a day with the wind blowing out look like an All-Star. C-Pat's first homer though was possibly the most wind-blown homer I've ever seen in my life, when he swung he knew it was a fly ball out, but the LF just kept backing up and it nestled beautifully into the basket.
What a game!!!! Also with Oliver Perez pitching today, a very big win for the Cubbies.

Some updates and other notes:

Baker switched Prior and Wood, so here's an update on the upcoming pitching starts...all speculative of course:

Pirates(1) - Prior
@Cincy (4) -Wood, Zambrano, Maddux. Clement
@Florida(2 - Doubleheader) - Prior, Rusch(I assume)
@Pirates(3) - Wood, Zambrano, Maddux
@Mets(3) - Clement, Prior, Wood
Cincy (4) - Zambrano, Maddux, Clement, Prior
Braves(3) - Wood, Zambrano, Maddux

This now sets up Prior as a tie-breaker or GAME 1 starter if it gets there. I don't like that as much. Prior of last year yes, inconsistent Prior of this year obviously struggling for his control, no!!!

Stealing some stuff from The Cub Reporter that I commented on yesterday, here's Maddux's stats since the All-Star Break:
___________ RECORD IP BB K ERA
July _________4-1 35.3 2 23 2.29
August ______3-1 39.3 9 27 2.97
September___1-1 14.7 2 9 1.23
TOTAL 8-3 89.3 13 59 2.42

(That info was from the Cub Reporter)......

Although very impressive, here are his opponents since the All-Star Game:
Cincy (10th in RS)
Brewers x4 (14th in RS)
Phillies (4th in RS)
Giants (1st in RS)
Dodgers (9th in RS)
Expos x2 (15th in RS)
Pirates (13th in RS)

Not the best of the best here....he pitched well against the Phillies, got the win against the Giants but it wasn't a real good outing, he did well against the Dodgers(who I thought would be ranked higher) but got the loss. Everyone else kind of sucks.

I love the guy but he seems to have missed some of the good teams we've played so far, like the Padres(very good on the road to a tune of 5.7 Runs per game), Astros twice and @ Colorado.

This all stemmed from a discussion of what our playoff rotation should be, say we get there, I said if we have the luxury it should be Wood, Zambrano, Maddux, Prior with Clement in long relief. The stats for the top 3 against expected playoff opponents:

Atl - 1-0, 1.29 ERA, 7IP, 5H, 1R, 1ER, 3 BB, 11K, .200 AVG
LA - 1-1, 1.80 ERA, 10 IP, 7H, 3R, 2ER, 4BB, 9K, .189 AVG
STL - 1-0, 2.08 ERA, 13 IP, 8H, 4R, 3ER, 2BB, 15K, .174AVG

Not faced Atlanta
LA - 0-1, 2.84 ERA, 6.1IP, 8H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB,5K, .320AVG
STL 1-1, 4.58ERA, 19.2IP, 24H,10R,10ER,0BB,12K, .308AVG

Atl - 0-0, 1.29ERA, 7IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 7K, .095AVG
LA, 1-0, 0.00ERA, 8IP, 2H, 1R, 0ER, 2BB, 11K, .077AVG
STL 1-1, 2.78ERA, 22.2IP, 7R, 7ER, 10BB,27K, .171AVG

This all screams small sample size of course. It's very hard to pick between Z and Wood, but Z's overly emotional ways tend to frighten me a little bit come playoff time. It's a tough call. Wood is better than his ERA demonstrates this year as he's really been screwed by his defense this year more than any other Cub pither (and I'm not talking unearned runs here).

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Never easy

I think it's safe to say that IF the Cubs make the postseason, it WILL NOT be easy. It's going to involve tie-breakers possibily and it's definitely going down to the last series versus the Braves. I figured out the rotation from here to the season end:

Pirates(2) - Clement, Wood
@Cincy (4) -Prior, Zambrano, Maddux. Clement
@Florida(2 - Doubleheader) - Wood, Rusch(I assume)
@Pirates(3) - Prior, Zambrano, Maddux
@Mets(3) - Clement, Wood, Prior
Cincy (4) - Zambrano, Maddux, Clement, Wood
Braves(3) - Prior, Zambrano, Maddux

This means the Maddux very well may have to beat his old team on the last day of the season and then we get to meet them 2 days later. It also conveniently works out that Wood is set-up to pitch a tie-breaker game or Game 1 of the NLDS which I like a lot.

Last night the Cubs did something they HAD to do and that's win on a day when the team ahead of them has an off-day. The Cubs in theory control their own destiny due to the fact they have to play 3 more games than the Giants. With 21 games left, I don't know how much that matters, but I DO KNOW winning on the days the Giants don't play is VITAL.

After this series against the Brewers, the Giants are left with the Padres, Dodgers & Astros. Hopefully all of them will beat up on each other as I've mentioned and no one gets hot. Here's a WC breakdown of contenders updated from last week:

Cubs 77-64 (21 games left & 3-3 since last post)
Home(41-32) 9 games left - Pirates (2), Reds(4) Braves(3)
Away(36-32) 12 games left - Reds(4), Marlins(2), Pirates(3), Mets(3)

Giants 79-65 (18 games left & 3-1 since last post).
Home(42-31) 9 games left - Astros (3), Padres(3), Dodgers(3)
Away(37-34) 9 games left - Brewers(3), Padres(3), Dodgers(3)
**Note** They miss B. Sheets unfortunately

Astros 78-66 (18 games left & 3-3 since last post).
Home(39-33) 9 games left - Brewers (3), Cardinals(3), Rockies(3)
Away(39-33) 9 games left - Brewers (3), Cardinals(3), Giants(3)
**Note** Go CARDS, go S. Estes - I've just sold my soul...

Marlins 75-65 (22 games left & 4-3 since last post).
Home(38-30) 12 games left - Expos (4), Braves(3), Phillies(3), Cubs (2)
Away(37-35) 10 games left - Braves(3), Phillies(4), Expos (3)
**Note** Last 10 games are on the Road

Phillies 74-70 (18 games left & didn't include them last week..WHOOPS!!).
Home(36-35) 10 games left - Expos (3), Pirates(3), Marlins(4)
Away(38-35) 8 games left - Reds(2), Marlins(3), Expos (3)
**Note** Bowa's desperate plea to save his job

Padres 77-67 (18 games left & 4-2 since last post).
Home(36-36) 9 games left - Dodgers (3), Giants(3), D'Backs(3)
Away(41-31) 9 games left - Dodgers(3), Giants(3), D'Backs(3)
**Note** There's no good reason for it, but this team worries me the most other than the Giants

hopeful that Clement is healthy today and R. Macowiak doesn't have any more kids....

Saturday, September 11, 2004


Got a chance and just sit down and watch the game which was to say the least nerve-wracking. Wasted opportunities early and then getting to a tough pen in the Marlins.


- Big win with Rusch vs. Burnett tomorrow, a win tomorrow would be huge but at least a loss wouldn't be catastrophic anymore.

- D. Lee swinging at that 3-1 pitch had the dogs(and wife) scurrying from the room. You know better Derek.

-Made up for it big time with that double, looked like Cabrera gave up on it though. He wasn't going to catch but I thought he could have saved it going to the wall. No matter though.

- I was near crazy when Neifi went up to pinch-hit in the 8th, but then remembered that Walker has been a very BAD pinch hitter for whatever reason and Perez did have a huge day yesterday, so not such a bad move and I calmed down when they called him safe at 2nd.

- Barrett bunting with 2 strikes was a little maddening, although trying to win it right there was the move to make. Try and get your run in the 8th and not go into extra innings.

- Baker must have got the memo that these games matter as he played it as a must win, dropping Sosa to 6th and all of his in-game moves.

-Hawkins ate his Wheaties...I believe that was a nine pitch, 3 K strikeout 9th inning...RARE and IMPRESSIVE!!

Knockout opportunity tomorrow.....

Friday, September 10, 2004

I'm ill......

Well Cubbies, you've put yourself in that corner you never should have gotten into. A MUST WIN game. That is what the 2nd game of this doubleheader is now. Mathematically sure it isn't, but I GUARANTEE you if they lose this game they will NOT make the playoffs, a matter of fact they may not win another game this series.

You should get on the Internet Baker..

Apparently Baker didn't read my blog, as McKeon once again shows him who's the better manager. The Marlins start all their regulars in the 1st game of the series realizing the importance of this game and this series and Baker starts R. Martinez and T. Goodwin. You are AN ABSOLUTE IDIOT Baker. You just had an off day yesterday.....these are major league players, I think they can handle 2 games in a day...if you have to give them a day off, do it 7 days from now, NOT Today.

Blame Wood if you want, he's given up 1 run today in my opinion. Defense hurts him again. I'd like to say as long as we win the next 3, but we're not going to. More scrubs will play in the 2nd game and this team hasn't shown up for a BIG game all year.

My patience is just about run out....

Make It So.....

These are the words Dusty should use to his team... "Just Make It So". No excuses for the next 4 games, you just need to win them (at least 3 out of 4).

Here's some numbers:

Cubs 7th in Runs Scored, Marlins 11th
Cubs 11th in OBP, Marlins 10th
Cubs 2nd in SLG, Marlins 11th

Cubs 4th in Team ERA, Marlins 5th
Cubs 3rd K/BB ratio, Marlins 6th

Very similar teams, with the Cubs power hitters giving them the nod. The wind is supposed to blow out the first 3 games, so that's good news for the Cubs hitters. McKeon last year did laps around Baker in the playoffs, lets all pray it doesn't happen again. If the Cubs lose the 2nd game of today's doubleheader to a kid just called up from single 'A', there is no way I can possibly have anymore faith for this team.

A lot of people want to blame Baker for this team's supposed underachievement. You're all welcome to, but he's certainly not the sole responsible party. Here is the way I see it in no particular order:

1) INJURIES - I'll have to do it more scientific but I'm pretty positive there isn't a team still in the playoff hunt who has lost as many key players than the Cubs have this year for an extended period of time. Throw in all the nagging injuries to Garciaparra, Sosa, Ramirez, etc and it's not easy playing baseball.

2)BULLPEN - Blame Baker but I don't think his usage patterns were all that different than any other manager, with what he got. I blame Hendry on this one. He's been a great GM so far except in this area, he gave out a very bad contract to Remlinger last year (3 yrs for a guy in his mid 30's) and keeps saying he plans to upgrade the bullpen and it hasn't really worked. Hawkins was a good deal, Mercker has been respectful, and well I don't know who to blame Farnsworth on. I still believe he should have made a deadline deal for a reliable reliever. They're always available and signing K.Foulke over Hawkins would have been even better. (or both and not sign Remlinger, Mercker and a few other stiffs the last couple of years)

3)Sosa - He's a shell of the player he's been...hate to say it. Everybody in the league has his scouting report memorized, low and outside breaking balls and high fastballs. Don't waste your time with anything else. He's defense is bad and I'm being kind and more than anything he hasn't adjusted all season. He's nothing to fear anymore.

4)Baker - The only thing I really blame him for is the Cubs atrocious OBP. From day 1 of spring training he has deemphasized walks and patience and it has hurt the team. Think he would have learned from Mr. Bonds in San Fran. A lot of fans get angry at Alou and Garciaparra for their first pitch hacking ways, but I assume none of those fans played a game of baseball in there life. Both those guys are REALLY good fastball hitters, in general you're going to get a fastball early in the count cause the pitcher wants to get ahead, are they supposed to wait until the count is 1-2 and they're being thrown a bunch of offspeed stuff? I don't think so. Both of those guys have been very good hitters for awhile now and yes they won't walk a lot cause they swing early but they have value in putting the ball in play and hitting over .300 most of their career with good power. As for Sosa, Lee, and the rest of the team minus T. Walker and Hollandsworth well I don't know what their excuse is so I blame Baker on this one.

Minor problems - Prior, nagging injuries, bad baserunning team, Wendell Kim, wacky lineup construction.

I'll be tuned to MLB radio and WGN all weekend. Playoff time Cubbies!!!

Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Rookie Pitcher

Here's a link to a story about the 'fella' pitching the 2nd game of tomorrow's doubleheader.

Probably end up throwing a complete game one hitter against us....(I'm sounding more like a Cubs fan everyday)

It never happened....

I'm going to pretend that last night's game didn't happen, it will help me cope with the rest of the season. Do it with me!!!

The Astros are losing the 1st game of a DH at the moment, although that could change soon. I've done everything I can to keep the season in perspective, one loss is one loss, it doesn't define a season, there's still time to put together that unfathomable hot streak, In Dusty we Trusty, control our own destiny, etc, etc. Well this weekend is it....3 out of 4, no less, I demand it. The Cubs need to play this series like it's the playoffs, no ifs, ands, or buts, this is your season whether you realize it or not. No one takes a day off, no wacky lineups, put out your best and play your best...NO F****** EXCUSES anymore. Your season is NOW!!!! has Wood and Prior going tomorrow. Wood has absolutely dominated the Marlins in his career(4-0 1.85 ERA) and he needs to do it again. The 'Good' Prior needs to come out and we need the sweep to start the series. Zambrano goes Saturday and Clement will probably miss Sunday's start which means we need another miracle performance from Rusch. It appears we'll miss Beckett, but a Pavano/Wood matchup to start the series should be fun, they throw a rookie named Kensing for the 2nd game and then D. Willis whose wacky motion is no longer covering up his mediocre stuff and then the recently injured A.J. Burnett on Sunday.

As I mentioned yesterday, barring a rainout the Cubs don't have an off day the rest of the season, so to all those Cubbies with nagging injuries, find the Advil, makes friends with the cortisone shot if you have to, smoke some pot if need be(for some reason Farnsworth strikes me as someone who could help you find some) and play, not only play, but play well. No more AB's for the scrubs to keep them fresh, no wacky lineups, no bullpen experiments, this is the your time Cubbies to not let down a nation of fans once again, it is in YOUR hands.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

What is there to say?

One run loss.....sound too familiar. Hard to pinpoint the exact reason for this one, lots of guys left on base, overuse of the bullpen cause of Clement's injury, it all adds up to a very, very painful loss. The race got a little tighter last night as the Astros and Marlins won and we have a legitimate 5-6 team race (count the Dodgers in if you'd like). Here's my breakdown...

Cubs 74-61 (27 games left). They should win this, but of course they should be 10 games up right now. Nagging injuries to Sosa, Ramirez, Garciaparra, & Clement could make all the difference. Personally this is the time to just suck it up.
Key games - 6 left versus Florida, 3 versus Braves (last weekend of the season), 2 doubleheaders though versus Marlins means starts for Rusch, everyone else is a cupcake (not that it helps the Cubs lately)

Giants 76-64 (22 games left). Still think they have a chance to catch Dodgers and well they have Mr. Bonds, unfortunately he doesn't come out of the bullpen to pitch for them.
Key games - 6 left versus Dodgers, 6 versus Padres, 3 versus Astros ...that's pretty brutal

Astos 75-63 (24 games left). Great offense, but down to 2 good starting pitchers and a suspect bullpen. Biggio/Bagwell/Clemens I'm sure want it more than anyone else though.
Key games - 6 left versus St. Louis, 3 versus Giants...Go CARDS!!! (Can't believe I just said that)

Marlins 71-62 (29 games left). Pretty good staff and offense has been better lately, biggest threat to Cubs in my opinion.
Key games - 6 left versus Cubs, 6 versus Braves, 7 versus Phillies.....hope Bowa and the Phils can beat them this year

Padres 73-65 (24 games left). Honestly don't know how team has survived to this point, but they have. And whether you believe in it or not, D. Wells sure has been a winner his whole career.
Key games - 7 left versus Dodgers, 6 versus Giants, 1 today against Cards.....need to beat up on Rockies & D'Backs in between

**Dodgers 79-58 (25 games left) 4.5 game lead in the West but their starting staff isn't very good, their bullpen isn't very good anymore past Gagne. They do have one of the best managers in the game in my opinion and the offense has been quite good this year. Brutal schedule though so they may fall back.
Key games - 7 left versus Padres , 6 versus Giants, 3 versus Cardinals.....

By all statistical measures and reasonable viewpoints, the Cubs should win this thing and Baker has usually had his teams playing well in September. Let's hope this is one of those years (and that McKeon doesn't manhandle him in the managing duties like last year's playoffs)

Maddux goes tonight within 2 wins of his 17th straight 15 win season. Every Cub pitcher from here on out, has to pitch absolutely brilliantly in my opinion as our offense is very hit and miss (particularly with the nagging injuries). Tomorrow is the last day off of the season barring a rainout, so get ready for some baseball!!!

Thursday, September 02, 2004

A One-Run Win????

If we lost last night I may have not been able to come to work, but amazingly we pulled out a close game for once. Of course LaTroy had to make it a little closer. Kerry does his Jekyll/Hyde impression from very bad Friday to DAMN good yesterday and of course gets no run support.

That and Florida is under siege so we may not even have baseball this weekend.

I did forget to comment that the Cubs picked up Grieve and DeFelice in deadline deals. Grieve isn't very good but we needed a left-handed bat off the bench and you just have to assume Hollandsworth is done for the season sadly. Hope they can bring him back next year. DeFelice just gives us the option to pinch hit for Bako in the games he starts and will rarely see an at-bat. Both subtle but smart moves by Hendry.

And in other, much more amusing news, the Cards are THINKING of putting Ankiel on their postseason roster if Kline isn't healthy enough to return. OH PLEASE, Mr. LaRussa find a way to screw up your team. If I'm the other 25 guys on the Cards roster, I have to be thinking are you really willing to put any of our postseason games in the hands of one of the biggest nutcases to ever play this game. I can only hope......

Well that's it, I'm behind on my project at work and with the possibility of no baseball this weekend, blogging might be light until Monday. Best wishes to those in Florida as that hurricane looks huge...