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D-backs proudly display lineup card from 2005 season opening 16-6 loss vs. Cubs

By bullpenbrian - February 28, 2013 - 3:05 pm Leave a comment.

Diamondbacks opening day lineup 2005

I stumbled across this picture on the blog Old Time Family Baseball. The writer, Michael Clair, is a finalist to join the MLB Fan Cave for the upcoming season.

He recently snapped the photo while on a tour of Chase Field in Arizona. Not entirely sure why this particular lineup card is on display at the ballpark–the Cubs won the 2005 season opener 16-6 vs. the Diamondbacks.

Nonetheless, there are some former Cubs ties with players Luis Gonzalez (1995-96), Chad Tracy (2010) and Koyie Hill (2007-12).

As for the game, the Cubs scored in 7 of 9 frames, mashing the D-backs’ pitching for 23 hits. Starter Javier Vazquez was lit up allowing 7-ER on 10-H in 1.2 innings.

Derrek Lee (who would go on to have the best all-around season of his career winning the National League batting title (.335), a Silver Slugger Award and a Gold Glove while finishing third in MVP voting), went 4-for-6 with a HR and five RBI.

Aramis Ramirez went 3-for-4, including a HR, 4 RBI and 4 runs scored. Jeromy Burnitz had 3 hits and Nomar Garciaparra added 2 hits and 3 RBI. Even Corey Patterson had a big day going 3-for-5 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored.

Carlos Zambrano started for the Cubs, but lasted only 4.2 innings allowing 3 runs on 7 hits with 4 walks and 8 strikeouts. Glendon Rusch took over in the fifth, pitched 2.1 innings allowing 2 runs, and earned the win.

Despite a promising start, the Cubs lost the next three games and hovered around .500 until the beginning of May, when they suffered a 7-game losing streak. A few weeks later the Cubs bounced back winning 7 straight to jump above .500, but the success was short lived.

The Cubs thereafter experienced two 8-games losing skids, one in July the other in August, that wipe the team out of postseason contention. They finished the campaign (79-83) under Dusty Baker, then in his third season as Chicago’s manager (sad trombone).

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Cubs Trade For Derrek Lee Nov. 25, 2003

By bullpenbrian - November 25, 2012 - 2:15 am 9 comments.

Nov. 25, 2003: the Cubs trade minor leaguer Mike Nannini and Hee-Seop Choi to the Marlins for Derrek Lee.

For all the heat Jim Hendry received during his tenure as Cubs GM, this was one of his better deals.

Lee, then 28, had just wrapped up his first Gold Glove and a World Championship with Florida. He was in the prime of his career, his best seasons were still ahead and he would soon become the clubhouse leader in Chicago.

Meanwhile, Nannini never reached the majors and Choi finished his underwhelming career with the Dodgers two-years later.

Lee of course went on to have the best season of his career in 2005. He played 158-games, won the NL Batting Title (.335), Silver Slugger Award (46 HR, 107 RBI), his second Gold Glove and finished third in the MVP race (5.7 WAR).

It’s hard to know what happens in Lee’s career had he not broke his wrist in April of 2006 after colliding with Rafael Furcal near first base in Los Angeles. He returned from the injury two months later, but clearly wasn’t the same hitter as before the collision.

Lee’s recovering wrist appeared to cripple his power during the next two seasons, including the playoffs, before his return to form in 2009: .972 OPS, 35 HR, 111 RBI. Now 34, however, it proved the last glimpse of Lee as the power-hitting threat from four-years earlier.

Lee’s numbers offensively didn’t live up to his 5-year, $65 million contract in 2006 (in fact, the ink had yet to dry when the wrist injury occurred) but his value on defense and outstanding leadership arguably made him the face of the franchise until Starlin Castro‘s arrival in May of 2010.

Three months later Lee was traded to the Braves for three minor leaguers, none of which have yet to reach the big leagues. Lee’s seven years spent on the North Side were over and soon so was his major league career.

Nevertheless, Lee’s arrival in Chicago ultimately proved a landslide trade-win for Hendry and the Cubs.

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Is Derrek Lee’s Career Over?

By bullpenbrian - January 19, 2012 - 2:01 am Leave a comment.

When Carlos Marmol beaned Derrek Lee on August 3 last season, fracturing his left wrist, I began wondering if it was the beginning of the end of Lee’s career?

Age was already taking its toll on the then 35-year-old who was hitting .246 for Baltimore before the Pirates came calling on July 30.

However, a switch back to the National League rejuvenated Lee from the start. He homered twice in his debut against the Cubs before Marmol’s errant pitch sidelined over the next month.

Karma appropriately took Lee’s side when he came off the DL on September 3 to again face his former mates at Wrigley Field.

He capped a 3-for-5 day at the plate with a game-winning, two-out grand slam in the top of the ninth–fittingly coming against Marmol.

Lee piled up three more hits the following day. He was hitting .412 with Pittsburgh, including a nine-game hitting streak.

In his following 23 contests since returning from the DL, Lee was hitting at a .349 clip with 5 HR and 15 RBI. All totaled, Lee played 28 games with Pittsburgh hitting .337 with 7 HR and 18 RBI–Hardly numbers that would signal the end of a career.

Yet, midway through the offseason the former Cub remains unsigned.

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Less Z, More Cubbie Occurrence

By bullpenbrian - August 15, 2011 - 2:33 am Leave a comment.

You have to believe there’s a smile on the faces of Jim Edmonds, Michael Barrett and Derrek Lee–all of whom have had nasty encounters with Big Z.

Until Hendry slapped Zambrano on the 30-day disqualified list on Saturday, the pitcher had basically escape those confrontations scot-free–despite the fact Carlos was the guilty party on each occasion.

Now that Carlos has dug a hole he can’t climb out of, at least in the short-term, his rivals can whaler in the pleasure of seeing him swim in his self created mud bath.

But I figure the three former Cubs probably share our feelings about Zambrano more so than feelings of revenge against him. No one is surprised, just saddened and exhausted by Zambrano’s continuous antics.

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Is this the end of Derrek Lee’s career?

The Pirates placed Lee on the 15-day DL with a fractured left wrist on Saturday.

Leave it to Carlos Marmol to end Lee’s season, and possible his career, when he struck Derrek on the wrist with a pitch on August 3.

Lee played just five games with Pittsburgh since being acquired during the July 31 trade deadline. He managed five hits, two of which were HRs in his debut, and 3 RBI.

Where the 35-year-old ends up next season is anyone’s guess.

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In another Cubbie occurrence. Former Cub Jason Marquis was knocked out of his Sunday start, literally, by another former Cub and now Met, Angel Pagan, who smashed a come-backer off Marquis’ right fibula.

Marquis is out a minimum of 4-6 weeks, although it doesn’t appear a huge loss to Arizona’s hopes of winning the west division. Marquis is (0-2) with a 12.38 ERA since joining the D-Backs via trade from Washington.

What it does prove, however, is an opening in Arizona’s starting rotation. Hmmm…could  Big Z be the next Big Cactus?

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Anyone notice the Brewers have the second best record in the NL, tied with Atlanta’s (70-51) record?

Milwaukee is 25-9 since July 6, which is the best record in the Major Leagues, and have a solid 5.0 games cushion over St. Louis in the Central.

The next four series for the Brewers are against teams with below .500 records, including the Cubs. And if Milwaukee can improve its lead by one or two more games heading into September, the likelihood of St. Louis catching them is slim to none.

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D-Lee D-Lite

By bullpenbrian - August 2, 2011 - 2:00 am Leave a comment.

On vacation in south Florida this week. What Cubs fan couldn’t use a few days away? Needless to say, I’m keeping the Cubs chatter short and sweet the next couple of days. After all, my vacations come around about as often as a Cubs winning streak.

Always the addict, I couldn’t miss Derrek Lee’s first game as a Pirate. He didn’t disappoint–not me, not Pittsburgh, not Cubs fans.

Lee became the first Pirate to homer twice in his Pittsburgh debut since another former Cub, Shawon Dunston, did it against Cleveland on Sept. 2, 1997.

Lee made a grand entrance, the Cubs won, and I slipped into Margaritaville watching at the Pineapple Grill.

I think I’ll try for two in a row tomorrow night.

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D-Lee, Marquis & Theriot

By bullpenbrian - August 1, 2011 - 2:06 am Leave a comment.

It’s weird enough the Pirates were buyers at the trade deadline. But seeing Derrek Lee suite up for Pittsburgh is simply strange!

The soon to be 36-year-old was dealt on Sunday from Baltimore for Minor Leaguer Aaron Baker.

In another weird twist of fate, Lee’s first game with the Buccos comes against the Cubs, as was the case last August when Lee was dealt from Chicago to Atlanta–switching uniforms and dugouts at Wrigley Field on August 19.

Lee posted modest numbers in 85 games with the Orioles: .246, 12 HR, 41 RBI.

As of late, however, he’s been swinging a hot stick hitting .309 with 19 RBI and 11 extra-base hits since July 8.

I couldn’t be happier for the guy. He’ll be revered in Pittsburgh for his leadership and as one of baseball’s all time ‘Good Guys’. Lee is well deserving of a divisional race, if just on professionalism alone.

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More Lee Please

Derrek spent seven seasons on the North Side, 2004-10.
-.298 avg.
- 179 HR
- 239 2B
- 574 RBI
- 924 games

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Another former Cub, Jason Marquis, was traded from Washington to Arizona on Saturday for Minor League SS Zach Walters.

He’s scheduled to make his first start Wednesday against San Francisco in a crucial divisional game. Arizona trails the Giants by 2.0 games.

-“This is the best I’ve seen him since Colorado,” one scout says of Marquis, who pitched for the Rockies in 2009. “His mojo is back,” a Nationals official says. “He’s got his movement again. He’s throwing strikes. He’s not the same guy as last year.”

-Marquis is 32-years-old making $7.5 million this season
-Was (8-5) with a 3.95 ERA through 20 starts with Nats.
-He’s pitched in five post seasons, including one World Series in 2004.
-Spent two years in Chicago, 2007-08, going (23-18) with a 4.57 ERA.

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Love the fact St. Louis traded for Rafael Furcal, unseating Ryan Theriot from the everyday starting lineup.

I’ve had no qualms rooting against ‘The Riot’ since he dissed the Cubs this past offseason.

His comments were a cheap shot against his former team, especially considering the Cubs supported him to a fault.

So I’ll admit to gaining some pleasure watching Theriot struggle on both sides of the ball in St. Louis this year.

With Theriot near the league lead in errors and mired in a 2-for-38 slump, the Cards elected to go with an aging former All Star instead, even despite the fact Furcal joins St. Louis hitting .197 through 37 games with the Dodgers.

It’s not my nature to throw stones, but it’s gratifying knowing Theriot isn’t getting the confidence from his current team the way he did in Chicago in what’s become a what-goes-around-comes-around sort of thing.

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Albert Pujols The Next Derrek Lee?

By bullpenbrian - June 22, 2011 - 1:01 am Leave a comment.

Lots of question marks surrounding Albert Pujols’ broken left wrist.

How will it change Albert’s contract negotiations? Will he return to his old form? Can he still break Bonds’ career home run record?

I’m immediately reminded of Derrek Lee suffering a broken wrist during the 2006 season.

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Derrek Lee Heading To Baltimore?

By bullpenbrian - December 22, 2010 - 12:01 am Leave a comment.

Andy MacPhail, former CEO of the Cubs, is hard at work in Baltimore trying to land another former Cub–Derrek Lee.

Despite Lee’s Gold Glove at first base, the 34-year-old is coming off his worst season offensively.

Lee slightly improved at the plate following his trade to Atlanta, but combined to hit .260 with 19 HR an 80 RBI between the Cubs and Braves.

MacPhail’s first target, Adam LaRoche, was offered a three-year deal worth $21M, but has reached an impasse with the club.

That’s opened the door for Lee, whose age and declining durability make it likely he’ll only receive a one-year offer.

Meanwhile, I’ve always been fascinated by teams willingness to sign Corey Patterson. The Blue Jays inked the former No.3 overall pick to a minor league deal this week.

Could the biggest Cubs bust of the last decade do anything worse not to deserve a contract? He’s a career .253 hitter and has never posted an on-base percentage above .320–lousy for a leadoff-type hitter.

Why, why, why do teams keep signing him?

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Former Cubs In The Playoffs

By bullpenbrian - October 11, 2010 - 12:01 am Leave a comment.

I didn’t expect Dusty Baker’s Reds to knock off the Phillies in the NLDS. But I was hopeful Baker’s bunch would at least have a good showing. That, of course, didn’t happen with Philly making a clean 3-0 sweep.

Although the Reds managed more errors (7) than runs (4), there’s no shame losing a short series against the likes of Halladay, Oswalt & Hamels.

Cincinnati, however, was primed for a Game 2 victory before costly fielding mistakes allowed a four-run lead to evaporate. Sorry Baker-haters, but you can’t blame Dusty for losing the ball in the lights!

Former Cubs in the playoffs:

Derrek Lee, ATL: 2-for-12 (.167), 2-R, 0-HR, 0-RBI, 1-BB, 5-K.

Mike Fontenot, SF: 1-for-4 (.250), 1-R, 1-3B, 0-BB, 1-K.

Kerry Wood, NYY: (0-0) 3-Games, 4.50 ERA, 2.0 IP, 1-ER, 4-H, 2-BB, 3-K.

Kyle Farnsworth, ATL: (0-0) 2-Games, 0.00 ERA, 2.0 IP, 0-ER, 1-H, 1-BB, 1-K.

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Derrek Lee Update

By bullpenbrian - September 21, 2010 - 12:01 am Leave a comment.

Derrek Lee has finally got it going offensively with Atlanta.
He crushed a two-out, seventh-inning grad slam to power the Braves to a 6-3 come-from-behind win on Sunday, then went 2-for-4 Monday night at Philly.

Lee has reach base safely in 16 of his last 20 games.
Is batting .338 with 12 runs, 11 RBI and 10 walks since August 30.
And since joining the Braves has raised his average 20-points (.256).

The prospects of Lee returning to the post season, however, remains in jeopardy. Philadelphia has won eight straight, including a 3-1 vicotry Monday against Atlanta, increasing its lead in the East to 4.0 games.

The Braves, meanwhile, hold a two game edge in the Wild Card.
But San Diego and Colorado continue to close the gap quickly.
A hot-hitting Derrek Lee could prove the difference maker down the stretch.

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