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Bullpen Brian's Tweets

Push Lilly Back

By bullpenbrian - April 9, 2009 - 12:15 am Leave a comment.

cubshouston1

Obviously, Fukudome needed the breakout game he put together. Still don’t like him in the two-hole, though.

I’d rather see him bat below Theriot and in front of Hill. That said, he’s bought himself another game in the starting lineup.

Fontenot looks terrific at the plate, as many expected. Yet, I’ll admit this winter I was hesitant to anoint him the starting second baseman.Wasn’t sure if his numbers would keep up with his small – no pun intended – sample size at the dish. Apparently, they will.

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Hill Spells Soto

By bullpenbrian - April 8, 2009 - 12:15 am Leave a comment.

cubshouston1

Ouch! Soto leaves with a sore shoulder, major bummer. Cubs say he’ll sit for a game or two. If it’s longer I’d place him on the DL. Don’t risk bringing Soto back before he’s ready, the guy is too valuable.

This means Koyie Hill’s feet are put to the fire. Remember, the Cubs let veteran Paul Bako walk in favor of Hill, which, wasn’t a mistake. Hill is young, talented and motivated…I’ll take that over old-goat Bako any day.

No doubt Hill can hold his own behind the plate and the Cubs know he’s an average hitter at best, but that’s all you need in a back-up player. Besides, it’s a nice opportunity for Hill to get his feet wet early in the season – even if it’s at the expense of Soto.

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Cubs Opening Day

By bullpenbrian - April 7, 2009 - 12:44 am 4 comments.

cubshouston1

I’m wondering if Lou was just posturing this winter about moving Soriano down in the lineup.

Was the skipper’s intention all along to play a simple little mind game with Sori, merely planting a small reminder in Alfonso’s brain that they’re other options for the Cubs at leadoff?

Six weeks of Spring Training and we can count on one hand how many games Sori didn’t bat out of the No.1 hole. And if Lou truly wanted to test Soriano elsewhere in the order wouldn’t we have seen more of that in Arizona?

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Houston A Contender

By bullpenbrian - March 23, 2009 - 6:15 am Leave a comment.

Pudge Rodriguez makes the Astros instant contenders in the NL Central.

Certainly, Houston is no Chicago, but I-Rod always seems to make his team better…significantly better at that.

Remember, both the Marlins and Tigers were laughable at the time Pudge joined them…yet, he led each to the World Series.

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Griffey & Dunn Together Again?

By bullpenbrian - January 30, 2009 - 12:41 am Leave a comment.

For the next 16 years the Cincinnati Reds own Ken Griffey Jr. $5 million per year, it’s all deferred money from Griffey’s original contract signed with the Reds in 2000.

Still, the sure fire HOF is yet to be signed this off season, a bit surprising considering Griffey isn’t in need of more dough and could be reeled-in on the cheap.

I still believe Junior would have been a better sign for the Cubs than Milton Bradley, but the Cubs’ miss is another club’s opportunity, yet who those teams are is still unclear.

The latest reports out of Griffey’s camp say four teams are interested in him for at least the 2009 season.

Seattle is obviously one of the bidders, but after that it’s anyone’s guess.

What we do know about Griffey is he’d prefer to play closer to his home in Orlando, wants to play for a winner and wants a regular deal, meaning no minor league deal or an invitation to Spring Training.

So, here’s what I’m thinking:

After watching the Red Sox gamble with Brad Penny and John Smoltz it seems reasonable they’d also take a shot on Junior.

Plus, Griffey could fill the void left from Sean Casey’s recent retirement and the Red Sox will again be contenders for a World title.

Tampa Bay appeared to lose interest with Griffey after signing Pat Burrell, but the Rays would be such a solid fit it’s hard to imagine there’s still not an opening for Griff, if for no other reason than location.

Speaking of which, location alone has the Marlins in positioned to be considered as well.

Not only is the location prime for a Griffey signing, but the organization’s strong personnel efficiency typically fields a competitive team.

And should Philly fall into a post World Series let-down the Marlins are sure contenders in the division against the questionable Mets and rebuilding Braves.

Of course, for years the Braves were included in Griffey trade talk but never appeared to be serious.

Although, Atlanta is about a close as Griffey can get to Florida without playing for either the Rays or Marlins.

Lastly, however, is Houston: perhaps close enough to Florida and a likely contender in the NL Central.

Not to mention, there’s still an opportunity for Junior to once again pal up with his good buddy Adam Dunn, an unsigned free-agent and a Houston native to boot.

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Hampton Worth Risk

By bullpenbrian - December 1, 2008 - 1:09 am Leave a comment.

Here’s the funny thing about Mike Hampton’s career (141-105): the guy could throw 10 more years in the bigs, make All Star teams, win post season games and capture a Cy Young Award but, he’ll always be remembered for signing that 8-year, $121 million dollar free-agent deal with the Rockies!

Apparently, that signing had everything to do with he and his wife approving of the Denver school system for their kids…surrrrre Mike.

But that’s beside the point. Starting pitching is so thin Hampton’s 3-4 record and lofty 4.85 ERA from a year ago has earned him a 1-year $2 Million dollar deal from the Houston Astros.

At the surface this is a surprising move. After all, the guy merely tossed 78 innings all of last year and that’s on top of missing the entire seasons in both ’06-’07.

Still, contrary to popular belief, I don’t believe Hampton is entirely the injury-riddled player he’s made out to be.

Prior to 2005 Hampton fell short of 30+ starts in a season just twice: 1996 (27) & 2004 (29).

Then, at age 32, arm troubles set in during the 2005 season while with Atlanta.

While the setback was unfortunate, it’s wasn’t all that unusual — an aging starting pitcher suffering from arm discomfort…geez, who’d of thunk it?

That said, they’re plenty of starters who’ve rebounded from arm trouble…like Hampton’s former teammate John Smoltz and current teammate Russ Ortiz.

Think about this though, Hampton is now 36-years old, he’s rested and rehabbed his arm for the past three seasons, the Astros gave up nothing to sign him, and the lefty’s six seasons in Houston (1994-99) was the highlight of his career.

Part of his run with the ‘Stros included a 22-win season in 1999 and second place finish in the Cy Young Award that same season plus, a 15-win season in 1997 which included 7 complete games and 2 shutouts.

Perhaps, the Astros catch lightning in a bottle with Hampton…if not, they dump him without losing much.

I’d say, pretty good deal.

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No No Notes

By bullpenbrian - September 15, 2008 - 6:39 pm Leave a comment.
  • Carlos tossed the 13th no-hitter in Cubs history and the first in 36 years (Milt Pappas – Sept. 2nd 1972)
  • Eight of the Cubs’ 13 no-no’s have come during the modern era of baseball, five happened in the 1800’s.
  • The 36 years between no-hitters is the third longest stretch in baseball: Philly waited 58 years (1906-54) and Detroit 38 years (1913-51).
  • The Mets (46 years) and Padres (39 years) are the lone teams in MLB without ever having thrown a no-hitter.
  • Z is the third Venezuelan to ever throw a no-hitter: the White Sox’s Wilson Alverez (Aug. 11, 1991) and Florida’s Anibal Sanchez (Sept. 6, 2006).
  • Carlos is the first pitcher to throw a no-no with his last name beginning with a Z.
  • He is also the first Cubs pitcher to record 10 strikeouts during a no-hitter.
  • The no-hitter is the first in Miller Park’s history.
  • Ken Holtzman is the last Cubs pitcher to throw a no-hitter on the road (June 3, 1971 at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium).
  • Zambrano and Holtzman are the only Cubs pitchers to throw a no-hitter in a night game.
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Zambrano’s No-Hitter!

By bullpenbrian - September 14, 2008 - 6:19 pm Leave a comment.

  • Sunday September 14th – Miller Park
  • Game (147): Cubs 5 – Astros 0
  • Record (89-58) – 1st place NL Central

The skinny: 110 pitches, 73 for strikes, NO HITS!!!

Great day for Zambrano. Great day for Cubs fans!

From the seventh inning on, I paced back and forth in front of the television like a caged lion, waiting on edge for Z’s next pitch.

Theriot waiting for the long-hop off Castillo’s grounder about did me in, I’m talking down on hands and knees!

But at long last, Erstad swings and misses and the Cubs’ have its first no-hitter in 36 years!!!

Props to Carlos for keeping it together mentally. If only this would last…

The talent, of course, has always been there. Mentally, not so much. If only…

Anyway, loved WGN playing Van Halen’s “On Top of the World” as the Cubs celebrated.

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The Cubs needed something special from its ace with the pressure of the division race building. Eight innings of three runs or less would’ve got the job done. So we can only hope a no-hitter adds a little extra steam to the playoff push.

Remember, September has been tough on the Cubs, no Harden, no Zambrano, and a nine-game losing streak.

Meanwhile, it seems the only team playing worse than Chicago is Milwaukee, thankfully.

What a day to be a Brewers fan.

The Crew drops four straight at Philly, falls into a tie for the Wild Card, and watches the hated Cubs celebrates a no-hitter on their home field.

So, how about that Aaron Rodgers guy?

W – Zambrano (14-5)

L – Wolf (10-12)

  • Notes: Zambrano’s Line: 9 IP, 0-R, 0-H & 10 Ks.
  • Carlos retired the final 13 batters he faced.
  • Michael Bourne drew the only walk against Carlos in the fourth with one out: the next batter, Miguel Tejada, grounded into a double play.
  • In the fifth Zambrano plunked Hunter Pence with two outs, David Newhan followed by lining out to D. Lee ending the inning.
  • Carlos also went 1-for-3 with a single in the third inning; he later scored on Lee’s double to right.
  • Soriano’s lead off homerun is his 28th this season and the 49th leadoff bomb of his career.
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Lee Not A Three

By bullpenbrian - September 3, 2008 - 12:25 am Leave a comment.

  • Tuesday September 2nd – Wrigley Field
  • Game (139): Astros 9 – Cubs 7
  • Record (85-54) – 1st place NL Central

The skinny: How do you lose a game scoring 7 runs on 15 hits?

Try three errors and Bob Howry (4-R, 4-H & no outs).

Howry (5.63 ERA) shouldn’t throw another pitch for the Cubs this season.

And, as you well know, I’ve been calling for Howry’s dismissal for months now.

With the roster expanded Lou has to find a viable replacement for Howry to setup Marmol and Wood.

This is imperative people!!!

So, let’s hope Angle Guzman works out, but it shouldn’t have come to this in the first place.

Jim Hendry should have pulled the plug on Howry in July and swung a trade for middle relief…and I don’t care what prospects he needed to give up to complete that trade.

Tonight, Derek Lee missed on two chances for game-winning hits, left 6 men on base and sure enough, grounded into another twin killing.

Why not move Lee out of the three hole?

Not only does Derek lead the world in GIDPs, but he has just 3 HR in his last 62 games.

Furthermore, of Lee’s 18 HRs this season only four have come with men on base.

Sorry, but that’s not three hole material.

Move Lee into the two spot and bat Ramirez third and Soto cleanup.

Plus, why haven’t the Cubs’ hitting coaches changed Lee’s swing???

I’m still concerned about Zambrano too.

By the fifth his velocity dropped into the upper 80′s and he threw just 63 percent of his pitches for strikes overall.

Again, I’d have no problem pushing Z’s next start back another day or two.

Tomorrow is a big game for this club; the seven game homestand comes to a close and the Cubs play 16 of the next 22 games on the road.

Better go get’em on getaway day.

W – Wright (4-3) – Valverde (39)

L – Wood (4-3)

Notes: The last time Chicago dropped a series was July 21-23 at Arizona.

  • The last time the Cubs fell in a series at home was June 24-26 vs. Baltimore.
  • At Wrigley the Cubs are (51-23).
  • Chicago has held first place in the Central Division for 99 straight days.
  • Soriano’s leadoff homerun is his fourth of the season and 48th of his career.
  • Mark DeRosa has 25 RBIs in his last 26 games and is batting (.323 avg.) at home.
  • Derek Lee has not registered a multi-homerun game since September 11th, 2006.
  • Zambrano’s 0-for-2 night snaps his 13-game hitting streak; the second longest streak for a MLB pitcher ever: Wilbur Cooper managed 15-games in 1924.
  • Z also failed to extend his Major League record of eight straight games with an RBI by a pitcher.
  • Vote for Pat Hughes & Ron Santo here.
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Smells Like Soriano

By bullpenbrian - September 1, 2008 - 2:08 am Leave a comment.

  • Monday September 1st – Wrigley Field
  • Game (138): Astros 3 – Cubs 0
  • Record (85-53) – 1st place NL Central

The skinny: Last September 1st I was sitting two rows behind home plate at Wrigley Field for a game against the Astros.

I could smell Alfonso Soriano in the on-deck circle. He reeks of money.

Coincidentally, Jason Marquis was on the hill facing rookie left-hander Troy Patton (now with Baltimore).

Marquis tossed 6.2 innings of 2-R baseball and the Cubs edged Houston 4-3 to keep a 1.5 G lead over Milwaukee in the division.

Of course, the Cubs’ lineup looked a lot different than it did today: Ryan Dempster notched his 24th save, Bob Howry had a respectable 3.61 ERA, Jason Kendall was catching, Craig Monroe was in right field and Jacque Jones manned center.

Fast forward to today…Marquis goes 6 innings, allows 2-R, but falls 3-0 against the Astros.

Now, I’ve been hard on Marquis all season, but, despite any comments about the right-hander’s inconsistency, the Cubs just don’t score runs when he’s on the bump.

Take for instance Marquis’ lowest point this season – a four game losing streak from June 26th to August 1st – the Cubs scored one or fewer runs in five of his six starts.

No pitcher wins games with that kind of offensive output.

And although I wouldn’t mind seeing Samardzija replace Jason in the rotation, I hand it to Marquis for being a gammer: he’s lasted into the sixth inning in his last 10 starts while posting a (5-3) road record.

Yet, it’s the same old story for Marquis this afternoon: Cubs get shutout on four hits.

Granted, Roy Oswalt was hurling for Houston, but it’s not like the Cubs have been efficient at the plate lately either.

Since Soriano’s game-winning bomb Friday, the Cubs have strung together 27 consecutive singles without an extra base hit.

On the bright side, Jon Lieber is back after an extended trip on the DL; his return is a huge plus for this bullpen (2-3, 3.43 ERA).

And, Koyie Hill is back after his horrific off season accident in which he severely severed the fingers on his right throwing hand.

W – Oswalt (13-9) – Valverde (38)

L – Marquis (9-8)

  • Notes: Here are the September call ups: IF Micah Hoffpauir, IF Casey McGehee, C Koyie Hill & RP Michael Wuertz.
  • Also, pitchers Angel Guzman & Jon Lieber were both activated from the DL.
  • Chicago has not lost three straight home games since August last year: Mets (0-1), Cincinnati (0-2).
  • Jason Marquis is (7-3) during day games and (2-5) under the lights.
  • Esquire Magazine put together a list of the best performances singing the national anthem at a sporting event. Ron Messmer’s singing of the anthem at the 1991 NHL All Star game is in the top five.

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