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Theroit’s Throw Home

By bullpenbrian - April 11, 2009 - 12:28 am 1 comment.

cubsmilwaukee1

Theroit made the right decision on the game’s final play by coming home with the baseball. Problem is, he made a poor throw to Hill. Weeks scores, game over. A good toss from Ryan and Weeks goes from hero to goat.

Unfortunately, I thought Koyie Hill’s two-run shot was the break he needed to establish himself as one of the guys. I talked about the importance of that Wednesday.

Given Hill’s near-tragic hand accident and the fact he’ll always play under Soto’s shadow, I’ve been rooting for the guy to succeed.

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Brewers Post CC

By bullpenbrian - April 10, 2009 - 12:15 am 1 comment.

CC and Sheets leave Milwaukee and most fans thinks the Brewers can’t contend in the Central without them.

Thing is, the Brewers were contenders long before CC arrived… and don’t forget that Sheets’ long history of ailments didn’t exactly make him a hinge-pin in the Brewers’ success.

No question the two hurlers will be missed. And, let’s be honest here…they’re very few, if any, pitchers who can duplicate Sabathia’s second half from ’08.

But the Brew Crew won’t roll over and play dead, nor should they.

What’s left of the starting staff is decent. Hoffman eventually shores up the closer’s role.

Middle relief is an issue, but the youthful lineup is so talented they’ll easily score enough runs to cover the shortcomings in the pen.

Also, remember Milwaukee was willing to splurge financially in order to keep Sabathia.

Now, that money is still in the bank. And who knows, if they’re in the race come July maybe Milwaukee goes for another home run type trade!

Still, it’s interesting that in season’s pasts we’ve discussed the Brewers targeting 2009 as their year to break out. Not that I don’t give major props to the front office for going for it last season.

Yet, I keep hearing Brew Crew fans say they won’t contend this season.

Rubbish, people.

No doubt CC going every three days ruined the coming-out party a bit early, but the Brewers still have a shot at nabbing a second serving of post-season cake from the break room.

And even without Sabathia and Sheets, the Brewers can have their cake and eat it too.

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Brewers Smart With Fielder’s Short-Term Deal

By bullpenbrian - January 23, 2009 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

The Brewers are wise not to commit to Prince Fielder beyond two years.

Sounds strange I’m sure, considering the guy’s shaping up as one of the most productive, and feared, power hitters in the game.

Problem is, he’s also shaping up much like his father, and not in the home run kind of way.

Prince’s robust gut presents a serious issue for the Brewers if they’re thinking about handing over the keys to the franchise to a guy who could eat himself out of the league before reaching the end of a big money, long-term deal.

His listed playing weight of 260lbs (he’s certainly heavier) is in no way favorable for a long-term playing career.

Just look at dear old dad, Cecil, who entered the league at a listed weight of 240 pounds (ie 290lbs) before his bulk rapidly declined his career.

Granted, Cecil averaged 38 HRs per season from his 26th birthday to his 30th, but just as quickly he became limited by injuries to averaging a meek 124 games per season from his 30th birthday to his retirement at age 34.

Thus, if Prince is anything like his father, and there’s no denying the physical similarities, the Prince’s career should be peaking around the time his new contract expires two years from now.

This is precisely when Milwaukee should cut ties with Fielder, letting him sign big, free-agent-money elsewhere, most likely with an AL team where the big-fella can DH.

It’s very likely the Brewers will miss out on a year or two of Fielder’s best baseball, but they at least they won’t be saddled in the long term with a huge contract for a huge player whose best years are behind him.

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October Rotation

By bullpenbrian - September 26, 2008 - 1:28 am Leave a comment.

  • Friday September 26th – Miller Park
  • Game (159): Brew Crew 5 – Cubs 1
  • Record (96-63)

The skinny: So, Lou has set the post season rotation as follows: Dempster, Zambrano, Harden & Lilly.

No question Ryan is the No.1 with the opener at Wrigley.

The right-hander is (14-3) at home with a 2.86 ERA including 114 punchouts vs. just 52 walks.

Furthermore, Dempster has allowed just six home runs in 129.0 innings pitched at the Friendly Confines, that’s hugely important in October when home runs are magnified.

And, should the series need a fifth game, Dempster will again pitch at home.

My personal change to the rotation would be dropping Z’ to the four spot, moving Harden to the No. 2 and making Lilly the No. 3.

Might sound nuts, but I would rather see a reliable Harden go instead of Zambrano possibly going coo-coo for CoCo Puffs in front of the home crowd.

Plus, should Z’ bring his A-game on the road, that’ll go a long way in quieting the home crowd.

Still like Lilly going in front of Zambrano too.

The crafty lefty has been hot lately; he’s (7-3) since the All Star break, (3-1) in four September starts and (3-0) in his last three outings.

Plus, Lilly’s road ERA of 3.89 is far better that his home mark of 4.50.

All that being said, the Cubs’ rotation is strong no matter who pitches in what turn, it’s the bullpen that’s the real concern.

Turns out I was right about Howry; Lou is including him on the post season roster.

Of course, I haven’t said many positive things about Howry, and I wouldn’t have him pitching in my post season pen, but it’s worth noting that Howry’s lone positive is his professionalism.

No matter the situation, the righty won’t get flustered or lose his composure on the mound.

That alone makes Howry a valuable addition, but it’s a stretch nonetheless.

Although, given another bad outing by Gaudin tonight and Howry appears to be the hotter hand, sadly enough.

You know things aren’t going well for Gaudin when he allows a go-ahead home run to the (.236 avg.) batting Rickie Weeks.

On the other hand, Edmonds’ long ball this evening is a positive, the Cubs desperately need his left-handed bat in the lineup next week.

And, it seems the veteran is warming up for post season play, he’s notched three dingers in his last eight games.

The next two games seem of little importance to Chicago, but I’d still prefer the Cubs face New York than either Philly or L.A.

And for that to be the case, the Cubs need the next two games.

Tampa Bay Rays winners of the AL East, who knew!!!

W – McClung (6-6)

L – Marshall (3-5)

  • Notes: Cubs have won 10 of 15.
  • They’re (8-6) overall vs. Milwaukee this season, (4-1) at Miller Park.
  • With Edmonds’ blasts the Cubs now have six players with 20+ HR: Soriano, Aramis, Lee, Soto, DeRosa and Jimmy.
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It’s A Beautiful Thing!

By bullpenbrian - September 18, 2008 - 12:23 am Leave a comment.

  • Thursday September 18th – Wrigley Field
  • Game (151): Cubbies 7 – Brew Crew 6
  • Record (92-59) – 1st place NL Central
  • Magic No. – 2

The skinny: You can just tell the Cubs see the finish line.

The team’s four run ninth had everything to do with not giving in, not wanting to lose.

And it’s a beautiful thing to watch day-in and day-out!

Can’t get enough of Aramis either…no questioning the fact he’s the Cubs’ MVP in the lineup this season.

Going 2-for-4 today, Aramis is now 7-for-11 on the homestand including 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 4-R, 3 2B, & 2-BB.

He also extends his hitting streak to 10 games batting 18-for-40 during the streak.

And, in his last 23 games Ramirez has 6 HR and 26 RBIs which, includes (3) three-run jacks and a grand salami.

Not to forget, his two-out double in the ninth kept the Cubs alive for big Geo’s moment of glory.

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!!!

And while we’re handing out awards, Geo gets rookie of the year too, his game-tying three-run bomb in the ninth seals the deal.

The catcher’s overall numbers stand at (.285 avg.) 23 HR & 86 RBIs. What’s to argue?

Also, D. Lee needed this game-winning hit more than any other player in this Cubs lineup.

Yes, Lee has been consistently good at getting on base, but it seems his clutch plate appearances always end with a weak fly out to right field or a rally-killing double play ball.

Recently though, Lee has been building up for a big hit that finally came in the 12th this afternoon.

Derek has three extra base hits in his last four games, has driven in five RBI in his last six contests and improved his hitting streak to five games.

Not in favor of home plate umpire Ed Rapuano’s decision to toss Edmonds in the middle of an at-bat.

Clearly, both pitches to Jim were outside…close, yes, but outside.

And sure, Edmonds has every right to quip about the calls…his bread and butter is driving the ball the other way…the game is on the line…so, if the pitches are outside say something!

Besides, that’s what Lou expects from his players, and especially from a long time veteran like Edmonds.

And more, two of Edmonds last five hits are home runs…so; losing Jim to Felix Pie is a huge turn of events at the dish.

Today is a prime example of why I continually scream DEFENSE MATTERS!

DeRosa’s botched double play ball in the sixth kept the door open for Milwaukee to tack on four runs, all unearned.

And, if it’s not for the Cubs’ miraculous comeback, that’s the deciding play in the game.

On the flip side, DeRo has been huge for this team playing six different positions while committing just 11 errors overall.

Why do teams still run against Soriano???

Not that I mind, but WHY, WHY, WHY???

What do the advance scouts see with Alfonso’s arm that I don’t?

Obviously, not the best outing from Harden…115 pitches, 7 walks, but he did keep himself and the Cubs in position to win the game.

Still, I’m far from being too critical about Rich: 5 of his 11 starts have been quality outings, he’s allowed just 12 ER in 65 IP, and he’s (5-1) overall with Chicago.

All this being said, there’s not a Cubs fan alive who’ll forget this game, how could you?

The ninth inning rally with two outs, Geo’s smash of a home run, Wood working out of two jams in extras, Edmonds getting tossed and D. Lee’s game-winning hit!

It’s a beautiful thing!!!

W – Wood (5-4)

L – Villanueva (4-7)

  • Notes: The Cubs have won 9 of its last 10 rubber matches.
  • Harden made his 100 career start this afternoon.
  • In Oakland the right-hander made 89 starts going (36-19).
  • Against the N.L. Harden has a career (10-2) record.
  • 53 of the Cubs 92 wins have come at Wrigley.
  • Chicago lead the NL in runs scored with (803).
  • Big Geo has reached base safely 42 times in his last 29 games.
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Soriano Is So September

By bullpenbrian - September 16, 2008 - 12:14 am Leave a comment.

  • Tuesday September 16th – Wrigley Field
  • Game (149): Cubs 5 – Brew Crew 4
  • Record (91-58) – 1st place NL Central
  • Magic No. – 4 G

The skinny: Alfonso Soriano now has 20 HR in 40 September games during his two seasons with the Cubs.

More recently, the left fielder has 7 HR in his last 15 games pacing the Cubs on its five-game winning streak.

And tonight, his seventh inning blast off CC basically flushed Milwaukee’s season down the crapper too.

Speaking of which, I understand Milwaukee’s intentions in firing Ned Yost before the Cubs series, yet I strongly disagree with club’s decision to dismiss its manager.

If there was ever a time to fire Yost it was after his team blew its 8.5 game lead in the Central last year, and not with less than two weeks in the regular season to go this year.

Yet, the Crew decided to bring Yost back in ’08 showing its loyalty to a guy who made due for years without good players on the roster.

Now, the organization’s bid to energize the club at the cost of Yost’s head only reaffirms the Brewers’ worries that its post season aspirations are spinning out of control.

If I‘m Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin, I tell Yost to create a distraction like the incident between Manny Parra and Prince Fielder in Cincy a few weeks ago.

Remember that the Brewer followed the dugout head-butting between Parra and Fielder on a tear while also taking control of the Wild Card.

Now suddenly the answer to a team’s struggle is to can the manager with less than two weeks to go in the regular season?

Sure, I’ll be the first to say that Yost protected his players more than he should have this season.

But have the skipper call some players out, punch a water cooler or do something to stir the pot before canning the man whose team one game out in the Wild Card.

Yeah, it’s ok for the front office to disagree with the manager’s philosophy, but why risk upsetting a clubhouse that’s with striking distance of its first post season birth in 26-years?

On the other hand, what makes Lou such a dynamic manager is that he understands when to protect his players and when to challenge them.

Cubs lose nine in a row a Lou goes bananas after the game; afterwards his team rebounds on a five-game winning streak.

Next time stir the pot Ozzie Guillen style Ned!

Anyway, back to the Cubbies…loved the way Dempster battled tonight: 114 pitches, 1-BB & 9-K.

The right-hander has now produced 10 quality starts in his last 14 outings going (7-3) in that span.

Plus, his 13 home wins are the most by a Cubs pitcher since Fergie posted 13 at Wrigley in 1971.

And, Dempsters’ 13 home wins are three more than any of his other competitors in MLB.

I’ve said before Aramis is the Cubs’ MVP in this lineup.

The guy continually comes through in the clutch and the bigger the stage for Ramirez the better.

Tonight was no exception for the third baseman against Sabathia, who had yet to lose a game in a Brewers uniform: 3-for-4, 2 RBIs.

Final thoughts: great ‘D from Reed and Aramis, and another strong outing from Bobby H who nearly watched CC go yard before walking the tying run on four pitches.

W – Dempster (16-6) – Wood (31)

L – Sabathia (15-9) – (9-1)

  • Notes: Of the Cubs 91 wins, 51 have come at Wrigley.
  • That’s the most home wins for Chicago since posting 56 in 1935.
  • Since September 1st the Cubs have extended its lead over the Brewers in the Central from 4 G to 8 G.
  • The last pitcher to win more than 13 home games in a season is Russ Ortiz who ended his 2003 campaign in Atlanta with 14 wins at Turner Field.
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CC Ya Later

By bullpenbrian - July 28, 2008 - 2:56 am Leave a comment.

  • Monday July 28th – Miller Park
  • Game (106): Cubs 6 – Brewers 4
  • Record (62-44) – 1st place NL Central
  • 20-Games in 20-Days – (5-6)

The skinny: Playoff games typically come down to pitching and defense.

So, it’s no surprise tonight’s playoff-like matchup was determined by both.

Had it not been for Rickie Weeks’ throwing error in the seventh, the Cubs probably come out with the short end of the stick.

Nonetheless, the Cubbies found a way to win, and that’s what good teams do.

The Cubs’ lineup worked CC Sabathia – 124 pitches – for 4 runs on 9 hits with 3 stolen bases and just three punch outs.

That’s a helluva job considering CC was (4-0) with a 1.36 ERA since joining Milwaukee.

Still, CC isn’t the only obstacle the Cubs have to conquer in this four-game series.

The Brewers post the second best home record in the NL (32-20), lead the NL Central in divisional games with a (28-19) record, and flaunted a (22-11) record against lefties entering tonight’s game.

Not to mention, the Brew Crew also leads the majors with (20) wins in its final at-bat and have the support of ‘Brewers Fever’ in Miller Park: tonight set a franchise record of eight straight sellouts.

Anyway, Lilly pitched well again on the road; walking just one batter, striking out four and kept the Cubs in the game into the seventh inning.

Lilly gets overlooked on this staff headlined by Zambrano, Dempster and Harden, but the lefty has been a godsend away from Wrigley and on a team that’s seven games under on the road (23-30).

In Lilly’s last three road starts entering tonight’s outing he’s (3-0) with a 2.18 ERA, and (5-3) overall away from home.

Really, the only downside to Lilly’s campaign has been his knack for allowing the long ball.

So, how fitting Hardy and Braun go back-to-back in the sixth to tie the game 2-all.

In 23 starts this season Lilly has served up 25 dingers, including the two this evening, and that’s just three short of his season total from a year ago (28).

Nonetheless, the guy has been wonderful in my opinion, home or away.

Speaking of road games, as of late the Cubs have played better away from the Friendly Confines.

In the last nine road series the club has posted a (3-4-2) mark, which, has been improvement enough to keep them atop the NL Central for 11 weeks.

However, with the way the Central is shaping up, this tally needs to withstand a (.500) winning percentage in the final two months.

And, for the Cubs to reach such mediocrity, they’ll need the return of its big-bats in the lineup.

Thankfully, D. Lee showed up this evening to capture the glory going 3-for-5 with 3-RBIs, but he was also a bad throw away from padding his NL lead of GIDP.

Still, give the man some credit for putting the ball in play, even if Weeks should have turned the hit into two outs, and his game-winning double in the ninth.

And, despite his recent subpar homestand (4-for-18), Lee is batting (.326 avg.) in July (32-for-98) and has also managed 47 hits in his last 34 games.

On the contrary, Lee’s late inning heroics shouldn’t have been necessary with the Cubs leading by one-run entering the seventh.

Hello Bob Howry – a.k.a. – the weak link.

Seriously, I’m speechless.

And all I have to say about Howry can be read here.

Should be another heart-stopper tomorrow night: Zambrano vs. Sheets.

Now, let’s just hope Lou doesn’t phone Howry

W – Gaudin (7-4) – Marmol (5)

L – Torres (5-3)

  • Notes: The Cubs have not played a series at Miller Park since June 4-6th, 2007, Chicago won two of three.
  • In games decided by two or fewer runs the Cubs are (26-29).
  • In the last two games Soriano is 5-for-9 with a HR and five runs scored.
  • Since beginning the season (0-3) with Cleveland, CC Sabathia has rebounded to go (10-5) with a sparkling ERA just above 2.00.
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