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Dempster’s Big Toe

By bullpenbrian - July 8, 2009 - 1:47 am 1 comment.


Tough day all around for the Cubs.

First they lose Dempster to a broken toe. Secondly, they lose a close game and a chance to make up ground on the Cardinals and Brewers.

Dempster’s injury really came out of nowhere.

The good news, however, is the DL should free up Ryan to spend more time with his ailing daughter. A much needed mental break, indeed.

After all, I can only imagine the guilt that comes from spending more time at work than with a hospitalized offspring.

With that in mind, it’s hard to fault Dempster for not exactly being the dominate pitcher he was a year ago.


Aramis Returns!

By bullpenbrian - July 7, 2009 - 1:50 am Leave a comment.


The Cubs went 24-25 since losing Aramis to the DL May 9.

What’s more impressive is Chicago didn’t lose any ground in the division race, either.

They were 2.5 games back on May 8 and began Monday night’s game 2.5 back as well.

No question Aramis adds more punch to a lineup that’s on the upswing, especially considering the protection he’ll provide D-Lee batting in the three hole.

Shame on me for writing Derek Lee off earlier this season. Since May 16 Lee is batting .343 (43 total games) with 14 home runs and 38 RBI during that stretch.

Look closer at the numbers and Lee has 18 multi-hit games, 11 multi-RBI games and has also knocked in 16 runners with two outs. That’s big-time!


No Wrigley No Runs

By bullpenbrian - June 23, 2009 - 1:46 am 2 comments.


The Cubs are six games under .500 on the road.

Obviously, it’s not the pitching that’s put them at 13-19 away from Wrigley, but the lack of run scoring.

Entering Monday’s game, Chicago was batting 24 points lower on the road than at home.

Whatever the reasons are for not scoring, the Cubs won’t win the Central without an improved road record.


Lilly Is Cubs’ Ace

By bullpenbrian - June 4, 2009 - 1:47 am Leave a comment.


I’ll say it again. Ted Lilly is the Cubs’ best starter.

He’s won back-to-back crucial games in his last two outings.

Five days ago Lilly sparkled against the mighty Dodgers in keeping Chicago from falling below .500.

Five days later he’s huge in the Cubs’ most important game of the season–an extra innings 3-2 win against the Braves.

Many fans don’t view Lilly as an Ace, but I do!


Wednesday Another Gut Check For Cubs

By bullpenbrian - June 3, 2009 - 12:56 am 1 comment.


Wednesday’s game has fast become the most important of the season–you don’t want a loss like this one to linger.

Everything went so well for the first eight innings. Soriano and Lee homered. Randy Wells was unhittable, and a sizable lead was handed over to Marmol and Gregg.

This is how the Cubs are supposed to look!

But when it all goes for not, it’s a huge punch to the gut. And, had I been watching the game in the Cubs’ dugout I would have taken my own hacks at the Gatorade machine.


Seattle Right Move For Junior

By bullpenbrian - February 19, 2009 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

Seattle just makes sense for Ken Griffey Jr., always has and always will.

The sacrafice of one more year (maybe two?) away from sunny Orlando saves a lifetime of work by Ken.

Had Junior signed with Atlanta it merely becomes a footnote to the season, perhaps, not even news-worthy enough for ESPN’s Bottom Line.

Instead, his signing with Seattle ignites a celebration that begins this weekend with his arrival at Spring Training and will last through September – whether Griffey is healthy or not.

Of course, being away from family comes at a price, but watching Dear Ol’ Dad get his praise should make life away from Florida worth while for the Griffey clan.

Besides, there’s no question Griffey’s return will rejuvenate his career, as it did for a brief time two years ago when he resurfaced at Safeco for the first time since being traded to the Reds.

Better still; the Mariners have an open spot at DH providing Griffey’s tattered legs a fighting chance to stay healthy for a full season.

Who knows, maybe, just maybe, he captivates the baseball world one final time with his towering home runs…giving baseball fans weary of PEDs, steroids and HGH headlines some much needed relief.

Forget about World Championships. Forget about his time on the training table in Cincinnati. This is the way Griffey’s career is suppose to end, and thankfully, Junior sees it that way too.

Jr batting during his return to Safeco in 2007


Braves Acting Dumb

By bullpenbrian - January 8, 2009 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

John Smoltz signing with Boston is the right move for him, not so much the Braves.

For years the Atlanta franchise set the standards for comforting its players, retaining dominate starting pitching and winning division titles, but this particular case officially marks the end of that era.

Obviously, Smoltz is nearing the end of his remarkable career; he’s 42-years-old and coming off a season in which he pitched in just six games.

So of course, there’s reason for Atlanta to be concerned about John’s durability, even despite the fact he’s rebounded successfully from multiply arm ailments.

Yet, Braves CEO Terry McGuirk says “I just don’t know what’s going on with him [Smoltz] right now,” “for him to walk away from that [Atlanta’s $2 million incentives-based offer] and to go to another place, I’m just shocked and surprised.


Since when should anyone be shocked or surprised that a player skips town for more money?

You pay people like Smoltz what they’re worth…and for a guy who’s won 210 games and saved 154, it’s more than the lame offer of $2 million with incentives of pitching 200+ innings.

In turn, Boston is bright enough to take a chance on Smoltz who’s won no less than 14 games since returning as a starter in 2005 (with the exception of the 2008 season).

The deal breaker: Boston offered Smoltz a higher base salary ($5.5 million) with more attainable statistical incentives for a 40+ year-old pitcher while setting no time table for his return.

If McGuirk and the Braves can’t see the value of keeping a John Smoltz, they won’t see the post season either.


Glavine Speaks Clearly

By bullpenbrian - January 7, 2009 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Brett Favre took note of Tom Glavine’s decision not to hold his team hostage during the off season?

While openly stating he’d enjoy another season in Atlanta, the lefty has graciously offered to pitch elsewhere if the Braves don’t want him back for 2009.

There’s no reading in-between the lines, no confusion as to what’s being asked for and most importantly, no drama.

Although, with Smoltz setting sail for Boston, I think it’s more likely Glavine follows suit and heads east as well.

The Mets seem like the most logical option…easy transition for Glavine and the club has yet to broker a deal with any of the top F.A. pitchers on the market.

Not that Glavine -a 300 game winner- has anything more to prove, but you’d have to believe Tommy would be in favor of redeeming himself in New York after his final start of the 2007 season which sealed the deal for the Mets’ historic collapse: 7 ER, 5 H & 2 BB in 0.1 of an inning against Florida.

I say, go for it Glavine.


Griffey Still Better Than Bradley

By bullpenbrian - January 6, 2009 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

During the past four seasons Ken Griffey Jr. has averaged 41 more games played than Milton Bradley.

Since 2005 Griffey averages 131 games per season…Bradley averages just 90.

In this same time frame Griffey has posted 110 HRs, 328 RBIs vs. Bradley’s 62 HRs and 204 RBIs.

And you’re telling me a left-handed batting Bradley is a better sign for the Cubs than Junior?

Put Griffey in Wrigley’s small outfield, platoon him with Gathright and Fukudome, and let the man chase his ring with Chicago.

Not to mention, Griffey would be a far better addition to the clubhouse and would come to the North Side at a far more reasonable rate than Milton’s 3-years $30 million.

My prediction that Griffey ends up with Tampa Bay or Seattle appears spot-on after reading this report.

Of course, this isn’t a brilliant uncovering on my part, but the result of common sense.

Griffey’s agent, however, says six teams are interested in signing Junior…probably lasting no more than two seasons.

And whereas Tampa Bay appears to make the most sense for Griffey, given his family commitments (which resides in Orlando), the Rays’ signing of Pat the Bat greatly lessens that possibility.

Obviously, a return to Seattle is the fan’s choice for Griffey, but I think Junior surprises us all by signing elsewhere.

The guy has always been in search of a ring…Seattle isn’t postseason bound…and the Rays chances for a championship are always tough playing in the AL East.

Noting Junior has lost more than “a step” defensively, my best guess says Ken goes for an AL team where he’ll have the opportunity to DH.

So I’ll go out on a limb with this prediction…Junior signs with Boston to fill-in for an ailing Big Papi, or with Atlanta to stay close to home and help lead the Braves past New York in the East!


Wrigley Field Tour

By bullpenbrian - August 14, 2008 - 12:54 am Leave a comment.

  • Thursday August 14th – Turner Field
  • Game (121): Cubs 11 – Braves 7
  • Record (74-47) – 1st place NL Central

The skinny: This afternoon I did the Wrigley Field ballpark tour.

From start to finish the tour was timely, informative and money well spent.

Plus, the Blue Angles continually buzzed the stadium while practicing for this weekend’s Air & Water Show and the weather was impeccable too: 75-degrees and sunny.

Soon I’ll upload some pictures from the tour onto the site as well.

Basically, here’s how it works. A ballpark tour guide leads a group of 30 or so people around the yard while talking about the history and nuances of Wrigley Field.

We began the tour sitting in the third base grandstands, then moved to the luxury suites, next through the press box, followed by the visitor’s locker room, moved down to the bleacher seats and finally wrapped things up with the Cubs’ locker room and a trip onto the playing field.

My favorite part, the visitor’s locker room: it’s small, outdated, yet overflowing with history.

It’s surreal knowing you’re standing in the same room that was once occupied by Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth, Roberto Clemente and even Vince Lombardi – just to name a few.

As for the game this evening, the benches clearing probably helped release some pressure from both parties.

And most importantly, no Cubs were injured in an unnecessary field brawl.

I’m a huge Tommy Glavine fan, but the 42-year-old is looking his age: 7-R, 7-H, 4-BB & 2-HR (4-IP).

I hope the southpaw Hall of Famer hangs it up after this season.

So, the Cubs’ sweep against the Braves gives the team eight straight road victories.

Don’t look now, but Chicago is merely one game below .500 on the road (29-30).

It’s all about the offense folks…the Cubs have scored 6(+) runs in all eight games.

And better still, the club has scored 5 or more runs in 20 of its last 22 victories: WOW!

Obviously, it’s wonderful the offense is clicking on all cylinders, but what happens if it sputters?

Gee, I hope the team won’t have to rely on Bob Howry (5.53 ERA): 3-R, 4-H, in 0.2 innings pitched tonight.

Still, watching the Cubs play this past week has been a real treat; tremendous hitting, solid pitching and several outstanding defensive plays have preserved its 4G lead in the Central.

Look out tomorrow though; it’s those damn Marlins again.

No question things haven’t gone the Cubs way in Miami lately, but maybe an eight-game winning streak can reverse the team’s poor fortunes at South Beach.

Also, how many people do you think would show up for a ballpark tour of Dolphin Stadium?

W – Lilly (12-6)

L – Glavine (2-4)

  • Notes: The Cubs have won 7 of 8 and 14 of its last 17 games overall.
  • They’ve also improved its road record to just one game below .500 at (29-30).
  • Chicago is (7-0) in its last 7 starts against left-handers.
  • They’re also (24-11) on the season when facing a lefty.
  • Ted Lilly has identical home and road records this season, (6-3).

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