Lee Accepts Trade to the Braves. Fans Try To Do the Same.

Dailies
‘The D-Lee News’ is closing it’s doors forever.  

A favorite feature of Prose and Ivy since I launched the site in 2007, The D-Lee News segment in the side column (scroll down to get to it) will be retired after the 2010 baseball season.  Today it was announced that Derrek Lee has been traded to the Atlanta Braves for three young pitching prospects.  I thought Lee was going to end up being one of the toughest calls for Ricketts/Hendry to make this off-season.  Apparently, the decision was to let a class act go, but not for nothing.  Listed below is a review of his career up to this point, including a solid stint leading the Cubs to multiple division titles and landing himself one NL Batting title.  Right below the graphic summarizing his career is everything that’s been posted on my D-Lee News segment here on Prose and Ivy.  Again, the D-Lee News will not exist as a feature on Prose and Ivy following the end of the regular season.

As I said on my Twitter account today when the news was announced:
@proseandivy Goodbye Derrek Lee, you’ll be missed. Good guy, all class.  Feel free to win it this year because NEXT YEAR, is all our’s.

Lee career review.png

Photobucket

GM Hendry and Lee.

Every regular season we’ll be keeping tabs on one guy who MUST perform up to expectations for the Cubs to continue repeating in the Central Division and hopefully finally make a run through October!

Lee’s current 2010 stats: 16 HR, 56 RBI, .335 OBP, .416 SLG AND .251 AVG.

Lee’s 2009 stats: .309 AVG, .395 OBP, .585 SLG, 35 HR, 111 RBI, 1 Baby. First time since 2005 Lee puts up 30 or more HR’s in a season.

Lee was one of the biggest reasons the team had their best April in 2008, hit 10,000 wins all-time, had a 55-26 record at Wrigley, captured the NL Central Division crown for the second year in a row…and really the only reason we stayed in playoff contention as long as we did in 2009!!! Lee’s final stats for 2008 (for those that are interested): .291 AVG, .462 SLG%, .361 OBP, 20 HR, 90 RBI.

(Note: Here were my thoughts on Lee during Spring Training 2008…good thing his stats turned around when the games started to count: As of my post on 3/18 Lee is having a ROUGH Spring. 3-for-39 so far with about as many walks as strike outs, only four RBI’s and a BA of .154. Let’s hope he’s just warming up and once we get closer to our everyday lineup he gets comfortable with the guys around him and his stats improve drastically. Do your thing D-Lee…seriously, SOON, Opening Day will be here before you know it! (And so will the end of September, so be sure to continue to show up and deliver!)

Of course, 2008 didn’t turn out the way Lee or anyone else would’ve liked…nor did 2009 for that matter. Here’s to a horrible Spring once again in 2010, a great regular season and a postseason with a happy ending to report in the D-Lee News of October 2010!! For you stat guys/girls out there, his final 2009 Spring stats: 19-for-58, 5BB, 9SO, .369 OBP, .458 SLG, .322 AVG. Can’t wait for Spring to get here!!! Go Cubs Go!!! UPDATED: Lee’s horrendous 2010 Spring stats: 7-for-40; 3 HR; 9 RBI; 8 BB; 11 SO; .294 OBP; .450 SLG and a scary .175 AVG. 2010 should be great.

Go Cubs Go!

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We’re a Major League Baseball team.

Dailies


cubs amex commercial.jpgEverybody
: Hello. Do you know us?
[Everybody, except Zambrano, puts on their caps]
Everybody: We’re a Major League Baseball team.
Lou Piniella: But since we haven’t won a pennant in over 100 years, nobody recognizes us – not even in our own home town.
Ryan Dempster: That’s why we carry the American Express card.
Derrek Lee: No matter how far out of first we are, it’s cool. You know, it keeps us from getting shut out at our favorite hotels and restaurant-type places.
Aramis Ramirez [pointing to us] So if you’re looking for some Big-League clout, apply for that little green home-run hitter.
Tyler Colvin: Look what it’s done for US. People still DON’T recognize us but…
[Tyler snaps his fingers]
Carlos Zambrano: We’re contenders now.
[Also dressed in a tuxedo, Starlin slides into home plate and holds up a green credit card]
Starlin Castro: The American Express card: Don’t steal home without it.

17.5 games out of first in the NL Central.  Go Cubs Go!


Listen to my guest appearance on St. Louis Cardinals’ radio show, ‘i70 Baseball’ on blogtalkradio

Dailies

Every now and then, I make an appearance on another blogger’s blog or radio show and sometimes, they aren’t Cubs fans.  Usually, if they don’t root for the Cubs, they are Cardinals fans (just the way it’s been working out).  These guys in particular are Bill Ivie (Cards) and Matt Kelsey (Royals) and they have a great show on blogtalkradio.com called i70 Baseball.  We had fun discussing the weekend series between the Cubs and Cardinals (what a fluke that series win for the Cubs was, huh?), Piniella’s announcement, the future of the Cubs come this off-season, whether the rivalry between the Cards and Cubs is the same that it used to be and why the Cubs and Cards annual series always seem to be tight even if one team is 1 game out of first and the other is 17 games back.

Have a listen and feel free to leave a comment in the comment section agreeing or disagreeing with anything I said!  Go Cubs Go!


http://www.blogtalkradio.com/btrplayer.swf

Listen to internet radio with i70baseball on Blog Talk Radio

 

D Lee Denies LA

Dailies

Lee opted to stay with the Cubs instead of waive his no-trade clause to be sent to the Angels. As far as I’m concerned, he’s one of the best Cubs first basemen of all-time.  If he wants to stay and finish his contract, so be it.  Happy to have him through the rest of 2010. Technically we’re not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs so who’s to say we can’t pull off something miraculous.  Granted, we are WAY further behind in the standings than I would’ve expected to be at this point.  I would have thought we’d be about 5 games back and still in the thick of things by now and only behind the Cards possibly (I really don’t think anyone saw this season coming from Cincinnati).  However, Lee’s commitment to the team is something I respect and I’m happy to have him slugging away (or let’s face…or not) for the rest of this season. I mean, not this happy:

…but happy.

Lilly on the other hand is another story and I’m not sure how much longer we have Super Ted on the squad.  Demp had his time at the top and Zambrano was supposed to be the team’s ace and he completely fell apart over the time Ted’s been here.  In the few years we’ve had Lilly he’s been the least supported, most consistent pitcher on the team.  If we had five Lilly’s and essentially in that case, no ace, we would have won more games over that time period than with the guys we’ve had.  I honestly believe that.  I think we would have three-peated in the Central from ’07-’09 and would have seen the playoffs for one more season than we did.  Which would have given us one more chance at redemption to make up for being swept in the first round of the playoffs two years in a row.
We are definitely sellers in the market though as you don’t hear any of the big names left as rumored to be coming to the Cubs.  Lee doesn’t appear to be going anywhere and Lilly is the big sideshow right now that all the other clubs are coming to see/scout and hopefully land in their own flying circus.
The team is going to look extremely different next year and I’ve accepted that.  Great chance that our first baseman, second baseman, rotation, bullpen and right field all are all occupied by different players in 2011.  If you have any favorites on this team, enjoy them now because next year, who knows whether they’ll be back or not.
On a personal note, my father-in-law has been moved from the hospital to the rehab center and it seems as if he’ll finally start the rehabilitation process after having a stroke three weeks ago.  I was up there with him over the weekend but had a chance to catch the Hall of Fame induction on MLBN.  Lots to come about that in the coming days.  Go Cubs Go!

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New York, New York….It’s a Helluva Town!

Dailies

The Cubs (5-7) roll into the big apple today, looking to kick off a four game series against the Mets (4-8).  Both clubs have struggled to provide run support to their starting pitchers, however, the Mets have had it slightly tougher in that their starters aren’t exactly providing quality starts either.  Tonight’s matchup at Citi Field:

Cubs at Mets

 

 

R. Wells
Wells ERA 2.92 REC 1-0
Last appearances:
4/14 vs MIL 6.1 IP, 4 ER ND, 7-6
4/08 at ATL 6.0 IP, 0 ER W, 2-0

 

 

J. Niese
Niese ERA 6.55 REC 0-1
Last appearances:
4/14 at COL 5.0 IP, 5 ER ND, 6-5
4/08 vs FLA 6.0 IP, 3 ER L, 3-1

Wells takes the mound tonight for the Cubs.  Last year, the rookie sensation caught fire and didn’t slow down, becoming the Cubs second most reliable pitcher behind Ted Lilly.  This year, with Lilly starting the season on the DL, Wells is expected to continue his success and not suffer a sophomore slump.  Once Lilly returns to the rotation (Saturday) there will be key decisions to be made regarding the 25-man roster and the starting rotation.  Until then, there are a week’s worth a games to be played and the current five man must keep the ship together until Ted is back to help right it.

Both the Mets and the Cubs are looking up at division leaders with 8-4 records.  As expected, those teams are the Philadelphia Phillies and the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Phillies are always a thorn in the Mets side and New York is going to have to figure things out quickly to stay in the race, even though the baseball season hasn’t even flipped the calendar page to May yet.  They will look to start figuring things out against the Cubs tonight.

The Cubs will hopefully face a tired and frustrated Mets team after their brutal series with the Cardinals this weekend which included a 20 inning marathon (the only game the Mets won over the weekend against St.L).  The Cardinals are still the team to beat in the Central so it would do us well to win the series against the same teams the Cards win series against.  I wouldn’t sweat Pittsburgh sitting above us in the standings just yet.  Like I like to say here at Prose and Ivy, “We’ll Always Have Pittsburgh”.  I believe that will again ring true in 2010.  A great start is bound to fall apart for the Pirates.

So tonight the Cubs must win a game they are expected to win once again.  They let us down over the weekend dropping a series to the lowly Houston Astros.  We can’t scoreboard watch this week and be disappointed time and again.  These are games we need to win so the offense needs to be there against a Mets rotation that is struggling to figure things out thus far.  And in order to do so, Lou has devised a brand new line up for three of the games this week where the Cubs face lefties.  A test drive if you will of a line up against opposing left handed pitchers that Lou thinks may result in greater production.  If that holds true, then tonight I could potentially be watching, firsthand, this Cubs line up take on New York at Citi Field:

Byrd CF

Baker 2B

Lee 1B

Nady RF

Ramirez 3B

Soriano LF

Soto C

Theriot SS

Wells P

So far this season, Theriot is 1-for-11 against lefties which forces Lou to move Theriot to the eighth spot in the lineup.  Although is production is down against lefties at the top of the lineup, considering he’s a guy who can get on base and is counted on to set the table for the bigs, for a number 8 hitter, even one who is struggling, we could do a lot worse.  Nady hitting clean up isn’t something I’m thrilled with.  I much prefer Ramirez in the clean up spot considering he’s a stronger power numbers guy and is healthier than Nady right now.  Nady can’t do this every time they play lefties since he is still recovering from elbow surgery.  However, considering they face a lefty pitcher three times this week against the Mets, you can figure I’ll see Nady in the line up in the 4 hold at least once.

I don’t know much about Byrd’s record in the leadoff spot.  He’s a level headed guy with a lot of potential and a quick start to the season so you don’t lose much productivity by replacing Theriot with Byrd there.  If you have Nady hitting clean up, you don’t have Fukudome playing so he’s not an option there.  Soriano is out and no one else makes sense.  That might be more the reason why Byrd hits lead off in this line up.  More of a process of elimination than anything really.  When Sori’s not playing and Colvin is in the line up I’m not sure that he fits in the no. 6 hole quite as easily.  He has shown great patience at the plate though and an ability to go deep so perhaps all Lou would have to do is write in Colvin’s name that day as opposed to Soriano and his line up is still good to go.  I have a feeling I may see the answer to that scenario at some point this week too with the Cubs playing the Mets here in New York for what should shape up to be an evenly matched, intense, equally important to both teams, four game series.

Likely pitching matchups for the next few games are as follows: Wells v. Niese tonight, Zambrano v. Pelfrey tomorrow and then Silva v. Perez on Wednesday evening.  On paper, I like our odds and I can’t wait to see Silva in person.  I’m surprised by his quick start to 2010.

citi-field-hot-water-new-york[1].jpgLooking forward to seeing the Cubs this week at Citi Field…I feel like the circus has come to town.  Go Cubs Go!

Fuld, Colvin, Fukudome Left to Right in 2010

Dailies

Hey, wait a second…that doesn’t sound half bad.  Fuld, Colvin, Fukudome with Reed Johnson as our fourth and heavily relied upon outfielder.  Three guys who aren’t afraid to hustle after a ball and own the glove where would be bloop singles go to die.  Three guys who aren’t afraid to get a face full of ivy in exchange for a much needed out.  Three guys who aren’t injury prone and beyond their prime.  Three guys who don’t have handicapping attitudes that effect themselves, their teammates and the entire organization.  Three guys Cubs fans could really get behind.

So then what do we do with Soriano and Bradley?  Well come on.  Bradley?  I don’t care what his mother says.  “My son is willing to come back to the Cubs if they are willing to have him back”. Or however she put it….give me a break.  If the Cubs DON’T trade him, of COURSE you’re coming back to the Cubs.  And you better hope that 24 other guys in Cubs uniforms, your manager, your general manager, the general public and Cubs fans (especially those who sit in the bleachers) have a really short memory.  Anyway, bottom line….Bradley?  You trade Bradley.  Get rid of him.  Apology or no apology.  I read a blog from an Orioles blogger suggesting perhaps the O’s would be willing to take a chance on Bradley.  Really?!?  Great!  How about Roberts for Bradley?  How about that?  No scratch that.  Give us a quality reliever to throw into the seventh or eighth inning to set up Marmol.  That would be a huge help and a great answer to ‘then what do we do with Bradley’.
As for Soriano, make him our 2B.  Seriously.  Trade Fontenot and see what other bullpen help we can get or package him in a deal that may land us more depth on the bench or a quality 2 or 3 starter.  Let Baker and Soriano platoon at 2B with Blanco as the key reserve off the bench.  You put Sori at 2B and we keep his bat in the line up while returning him to his defensive roots.  
If we did that, our opening day lineup 1-8 could look like:
Fukudome RF
Theriot SS
Lee 1B
Ramirez 3B
Soriano 2B
Colvin CF
Fuld LF
Soto C
It honestly doesn’t look as intimidating without Bradley’s name on paper.  But hey, we’re three and zero in games without him since his suspension.  The beginning of these few games have been filled with hit parades and tons of runs.  Maybe having something that looks good on paper shouldn’t be the goal.  Maybe it’s going to take the old faithfuls (Lee, Rami, Sori) with a good mix of reliable (Theriot, Fukudome, Soto) and a healthy mix of talented, hungry youngsters (Colvin, Fuld).  That may be what we need after all.  Maybe keeping up with the Joneses doesn’t necessarily require spending like the Joneses at all, even though we’re in a major market.  Forget spending like the Joneses and try scoring W’s and making the playoffs like them.  That’s what’s important and maybe a little mix up of the line up with some new blood is just what we need.  And what’s easier to root for than homegrown talent?  Straight out of the farm system?  Very cool and very exciting for fans regarding the organization as a whole.
So in 2010, if I were Piniella (who I believe will be given one more shot at this thing, along with Hendry) I would heavily consider an outfield of Fuld, Colvin and Fukudome left to right.  No fear and an extreme desire to succeed.  Sounds like a brilliant recipe to me.  What do you think?  Go Cubs Go!

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If only…

Dailies

If only Lee didn’t wait so long to turn it on this season.

If only Bradley wasn’t turning out to be what we were warned about as fans.
If only Soriano had a healthy knee.
If only Ramirez spent more time on the field and less time on the DL.
If only Soto hadn’t had the munchies this year.
If only Z was performing like a real ace.
If only Lilly and Wells had more run support.
If only Dempster wasn’t screwed over by a lame offense as well.
If only Reed Johnson hadn’t followed it off his foot.
If only Lou had gone away from Gregg as the closer sooner.
If only we’d kept DeRosa.
If only we had room on the roster for Hoffpauir and/or Fox.
If only Miles wasn’t occupying a spot.
If only the Rockies hadn’t found that hot streak.
If only Pujols didn’t have another killer year (and by killer I mean Cub killer).
If only it wasn’t 11:40pm on the East Coast.  I’d go on and on.  But it is.  And overall, it is, what it is.  All of these things have happened this year and we are where we are.  Incredible win over the Brewers tonight only by far a perfect or strong outing overall.  Zambrano nearly gave up way too much before he left.  Milwaukee couldn’t throw a strike if their life depended on it walking in and hitting people to give up more runs than the Cubs actually earned.  We’ll take it, sure…especially with the Cards losing tonight and the Giants (also fighting for their Wild Card life) on top of the Rockies as I write this…which means…the Cubs could gain ground in the Central and the WC race.  Nothing to complain about there, but still, it is what it is.
Fourteen games left.  Need to keep winning.  St. Louis and Colorado are very strong and are not going down without a fight.  We need to keep winning and let the chips fall where they may.  Soriano had successful surgery today which is great to hear.  We need him ready for the Spring so sooner the better with regards to the surgery.  And of course, Lee needs to keep his hot streak up.  He hit the 100 RBI mark tonight which is incredible that he could have a .300 30+HR and 100RBI season this year considering the way the season started for him.  Love seeing him do well…just need to continue for another 14 games and then we’ll see.
Continues tomorrow against the crew….Harden vs. Looper.  No one has the obvious nod between the two of them as far as I’m concerned.  Do your thing Harden and get that W!  Go Cubs Go!

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Three Men and a Baby

Dailies

Zambrano earned some clout.  Soriano’s out.  And Lee missed another game on paternity leave for the birth of his second child.

Congratulations D-Lee, hope baby Lee and Mama Lee are doing well!  Adding one baby to your 2009 stat line after writing this, just because, why not!

Had fun at the Cubs game tonight at Citi Field…until about the eighth inning that is.  Zambrano, who has struggled in the two games he had prior to this one since coming off the DL had a strong outing.  His control seemed to be a bit off but he still got results.  He gave up a solo shot to New York’s up and coming left fielder Cory Sullivan in the second inning but aside from that he was effective getting out of any self made jams and keeping the Mets off the board.  From my seat in the second row of the front section of the upper deck behind home plate, I had a great view of pitches as they crossed home plate.  The point of view up there (section 514 for the record) is amazing and makes it real easy to agree or disagree accurately with the ump’s balls and strikes calls.  I think Zambrano got robbed a bunch, but then again, was the recipient of a few gifts as well.  Parnell benefited the same for the Mets so all is fair in love and strike zones. 

Parnell has had a rough go of it for the Mets but he was strong through his seven innings as well.  Not as strong as Zambrano though.  The Cubs managed to load the bases three times in the game and unfortunately only came away with a run during the eighth inning.  Timely hits was not this team’s strong suit tonight and I’m sure it didn’t help having Soriano on the bench and Lee’s bat home by the crib.

Soriano is out indefinitely and I must say…I think we’re looking at 2010.  I hate saying that before we are mathematically eliminated and I love our bench guys, I just don’t think we have enough to do what it takes this year.  When I left Citi to the pumping fist of K-Rod and the smiling faces of Mets fans, the Rockies were up 2-0.  Currently as I type this, the D-backs are up 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth.  If the Rockies come back and win, putting us seven games out, I think that’s exactly what we’ll be, figuratively.  Out.  Seven is too much to over come without some ground-breaking miracle that MLB Network will talk about for ages.  Without some kind of miraculous finish to the season, I think we’re done.  I didn’t think that before I left today for the ballpark and I won’t think it until we are officially seven out.  But if it comes to that, I believe we’re done.

I got to the stadium in time for batting practice.  I don’t normally get to the stadium that early and it was great.  I was standing right by the outfield wall where all of the Cubs pitchers (most) were stretching and warming up their arms.  Marmol looked great (too bad we didn’t see him tonight).  Lilly was there and I took the opp to shout some praises.  Berg was having a blast with kids asking him for baseballs, you could just tell he was digging it.  And Grabow was being harassed by two 10 year old kids for a baseball.  The same baseball he was currently warming up with.  Funny what kids don’t get.  Even after he said to them point blank, “I’ll give it to you when I’m done with it”, they still pestered him for it, asked why he needed it, and then began harassing another pitcher for the ball at his feet that he wasn’t using.  This guy was warming up right next to Grabow, the guy who promised them his ball.  Ah, the New York City public school system.

One kid next to me during BP was pretty cool.  Little Mets fan but clearly a baseball fan in general.  He had asked me if I could help him point out where the Cubs were on the field during warm-ups that he had in his stack of baseball cards.  Of course I could.  He was very excited to see Ted Lilly in person and was hoping to get an autograph.  I don’t know that that happened, but it was fun taking in BP with someone who still sees the game like an eleven year old kid.  Baseball the way it should be.

Once again Cubs Nation turned out and there were more Cubs fans around me than Mets fans in my immediately portion of the section.  One Cubs fan who had never been to Citi before was surprised that there aren’t any bleachers.  ‘That’s just not right’, he said.  Funny how bleachers are such a part of Cubs baseball.  He was floored that the stadium had no bleachers.  As if it made the game of baseball impossible to be played without them…like the Mets’ new ball field had no place for shortstop.  Funny.  Good guy to watch the game with.  Unfortunately after we celebrated the Cubs tying it up in eighth, I was correct when I told him the Mets would take the lead again once Gregg came out to pitch in the bottom of the same inning.  I really dislike Gregg.  He needs to be off this team in 2010.  He has done nothing but hurt this team in the greater picture and he needs to go. 

Mets played great defense tonight aside from their couple of mishaps in the field.  One easy pop up that should have been an out dropped in for Bradley and I believe it was Bradley again who benefited from an error at first.  To make up for it all was Parnell who had bases loaded at one point and got out of it with two strike outs and then a brilliant defensive play on the mound when a shot up the middle fired at him and he was able to stop it and get the out at first.  Unreal.  Mets win 6-2…scoreboard watching time.  Let’s hope we don’t let the GB mark reach seven.

Tomorrow’s another day at Citi and I believe Lee will be back.  No Soriano, but we’ll see if Fuld can make something happen.  And while Zambrano did his thing today, he deserved a win he didn’t get.  That’s to the fault of the Cubs inability to score guy in position and keep the stranded total down.  Hopefully that changes tomorrow and Marmol gets to show his stuff successfully in more than just the warm ups.  Get the W tomorrow boys….Go Cubs Go!
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Bang for Your Buck

Dailies

I want to know if your team gives you enough bang for your buck.  And by ‘buck’ I mean it in a number of different ways.  The financial investments: tickets, merchandise and maybe some of you like myself with the Cubs, a way to watch the games like MLB.tv.  The emotional investment: the time spent watching games, the energy put into rooting for your team, the mental effort put into analyzing the decisions your manager or general manager make with your club and the amount of heart put into celebrating your team’s victories/agonizing over defeats/arguing with fans of other teams, especially rivals over whose team is better.

Take the Cubs for instance.  You arguably can’t get more bang for your buck.  The moment a new title pennant flies at Wrigley, the Cubs would be the team that give its fans more bang for their buck than any other team in baseball.  The history: huge.  The drama: unmatched.  The stadium: historic.  The reputation their fans have with other fans: lovable losers…basically bottom of the barrel, respected yet bashed with glee (especially by their rivals’ fans).  The players…just to name a few: Soriano.  Ignites Cubs games on a regular basis with leadoff home runs.  Regular representative of the team come the All-Star game.  Raises the heat on debates on where in the order he should hit.  Carries himself like a professional and makes Cubs fans proud to root for him.  Bang for your buck?  Absolutely.  

Theriot.  Awesome nickname: The Riot.  Awesome first name: Ryan.  It is my name and sounds like Sandberg’s first name.  Hard to go wrong there.  Hustles on every hit ball and is among team leaders in all hitting categories.  Helping carry this team during a very tough stretch where extremely important keys to the team’s success have been injured.  Bang for your buck?  You bet.  

Bradley.  Controversial off the bat (pun intended) which is always entertaining providing lots of bang for the buck.  A huge threat when hitting well and finally in a long term deal, first of his career.  Love hate relationship with the fans….love hate relationship with the media…love hate relationship with…I’m guessing you name it.  Bang for your buck?  Possibly only Zambrano tops Bradley for most interesting character on this team.  

Lee.  Batting champ on the resume.  Team leader.  Scapegoat.  Absolutely dangerous when he hits his stride.  Hoffpauir hot on his trail causing fan debate as to whether it’s time to let Micah take the role full-time away from Lee.  Talented, hot topic, leader in the clubhouse and proven winner.  Bang for your buck?  Please, absolutely.  

Soto.  Rookie of the Year.  Sophomore slump.  First rookie catcher to start an all-star game in forever.  Handles one of the most talented starting rotations in all of baseball and from what I’ve read on several female Cubs fan blogger sites…apparently the ladies are big fans as well.  Bang for your buck?  YUP.  

Fukudome.  Please.  From the off-season where all we could talk about as Cubs fans was will he-won’t he up through opening day against the Brewers at Wrigley to the cool headbands, through the hot first half of his rookie season to the crash of his second half and a decent start to ’09.  Plus you know the club must be thrilled with what he does for the organization in overseas merch and interest in the club.  Bang for your buck?  Tons…and bang for your yen as well for that matter.
The bench. This is where you really tell if you’ve got a team that gives you bang for your buck, or just a few over-priced stars and everyone else who happens to dress the same as them everyday.  The Cubs’ bench has managed to step up and keep our team in the thick of the NL Central race and provided fans with quality guys to root for.  This bench as a whole has become the 2009 version of DeRosa when it comes to heart, versatility and ability to step  up and fill in in a crunch when injuries happen.  Without our talented bench, the Cubs would be in a lot of trouble right now heading into the the thick of Summer.  Bang for your buck?  Over and over again (thankfully). 

Zambrano, Harden, Lilly, Dempster, Marshall.  You bring your guys and we’ll bring ours.  I like our chances, injuries, ups and downs and all.  Bang for your buck?  No matter what day it is, you got it.  Especially Zambrano.  Bananas.  Cramps.  Tantrums.  Strikeouts.  Opening day starts.  No hitter.  Team Ace.  Beating up catchers in the dugout.  And a ton of heart.  Bang for your buck?  Maybe the definition of said phrase.  
Like I said…this club could arguably be the one team in the league that provides the most bang for your buck.  And I’ll go ahead and say it flat out, I believe they do just that…and there is no argument to be had come the day they raise a new World Series title pennant.
Cubs fans…think of a reason this is true that I forgot to list?  Tell me in the comments.  And fans of other teams who disagree and believe that their team in fact gives them and their team’s fans more bang for your buck…tell me their too.  Interested to hear your thoughts.
Great run lately for the Cubs.  Love the fight we’re seeing and loving that with even with all the injuries, we are right in the thick of this thing.  Harden’s turn tomorrow in Detroit.  And since I mentioned Ryne earlier…as a side note, I completely agree Ryno.  Completely agree. Go Cubs Go!
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How good are we?

Dailies

Today on Twitter I put it out there that the Cubs would sweep this series from the Cardinals.  So much for that.

Forget should be, could be, would be.  How good ARE we?  Honestly, maybe not that good.
Sure, healthy I think we could be unstoppable.  But this is the major leagues, who wouldn’t be unbelievable at full strength?
It is what it is.  Here’s what it is:
HITTING Cubs ranking across the entire National League:
Batting Avg .252 tied for 11th
SLG Avg .427 ranked 5th
OBP .339 ranked 7th
SO 268 ranked 7th
BB 144 ranked 7th
HR 46 ranked 4th
Hits 312 ranked 13th
Stolen bases 20 ranked 11th
Games 37 (fewest in the NL)
So what are we looking at here.  We’ve played the fewest games in the NL so we don’t have the at-bats the other teams have.  Yet, the at-bats we have had have only been so productive.  Two-thirds of the National League has a better batting average than we do.  About 80% of the league has more hits than we do.  Yet, our walks are up there in the top ten putting our OBP up there in the top ten as well. We’re getting on base and showing above average patience.  Not quite enough in the results category though and somehow while our patience has been rewarded at times with plenty of walks, over half the NL is either more patient than we are overall or are swinging at better pitches than we are as we rank 7th in the NL in strikeouts.  Soriano and Lee of course may step forward, they surely help in that category (Soriano leads the team with 36), but overall, this is an issue.  The key problem with the team so far as far as I can tell by just taking a quick look at the numbers is well displayed in using Soriano as an example in that Soriano also leads the team in home runs, hits, doubles (tied with Fukudome), runs, RBI’s and total bases.  
Can he be amazing some nights? Yeah.  Is he sometimes awful?  Well, yeah.  Does that make him good?  Um…at times?  But certainly no better than that.  And that’s pretty much where the team is performing as a whole.  Lots of moments where we look brilliant and then plenty of examples of ‘wait, what?’  Injuries happen to everyone…every team.  No single player ever won the World Series.  This is a team sport.  So let’s just forget about injury bugs for a while…our bench and back up guys are just as important as the starters.  Their at-bats count just as equally.  They cross home plate, it counts as a run just as it does a starter.  If they fly out, no breaks there.  No half outs.  No mercy rule for bench/support guys.  It is what it is.  And right now, this team…from marquis starter to last guy on the roster, this team isn’t very good. Not often enough anyway.
Thirty seven games in.  21-16, three games behind the Milwaukee Brewers.  That’s what happens when you have a stat sheet that looks like the one listed above.  Starters or supporting players, this team has to get more consistent.  Tonight’s three hit display was pathetic and I agree with a lot of Cubs fans in that we could be sitting pretty right now 20% of the way through the season if we had that fire night in and night out.  I don’t think it’s there right now.  I do believe what I said in my last post that Piniella has done a great job keeping us in the thick of things considering that we’re not at full strength.  Problem is, those that do get to play must get more consistent.  Otherwise, we’re not that good of a ballclub.  At best, we’re ok.  And when was the last time a team that was just ok did anything special?  
Season’s still young but it can get away from you in a hurry.  Let’s hope the guys start hitting their stride, finding that patience at the plate and those that are struggling shake off the rust finally and really start contributing.  Otherwise, maybe it’s time to give some other guys a shot who make a difference on a consistent basis.  
Before I sign off here, let’s take a look at the pitching stats:
PITCHING Cubs ranking across the entire National League:
ERA 4.50 ranked 10th
Wins 21 ranked 4th (behind two others in our own division, Cards and Brewers)
Saves 9 tied for 8th
Hits 293 ranked 15th
ER 163 ranked 8th
HR 45 ranked 2nd most
BB 151 ranked 6th
SO 308 ranked 1st
And yet again, there you go.  For every one thing we’re doing well, there’s something bringing us down to mediocrity.  Should, could, would…paper…forget it all.  This team is going to have to find a way to be much more consistent and develop in the areas they are lagging behind.  It’s up to Lou and the coaches to figure this thing out.  As far as I can tell, more patience at the plate, smarter pitch/swing selection, more control on the mound, keeping the ball down (when the opposition hits it, they are apparently hitting it a LONG way) and perhaps a change at closer is in order to bring this thing up to par.  
Should we be good?  Yes.  Could we be good?  Sure.  Love our roster on paper?  Me too.  Are we all that good?  Right now?  Not really.  Lucky to be three games out.  Let’s see how the rest of this series against the division rival Cardinals goes.  Would be a great time to really start throwing this thing in gear.  Go get ’em Demp. (oh, and as for which of these guys I think deserves an all-star vote as I promised in my last post?  Just one…Fukudome.  The rest, I’d have a hard time justifying so far).  Go Cubs Go!
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Fried and Tried

Dailies

Three weeks since my last post.  No excuses.  I started a new job on April 6th and I’ve never learned so much or felt like my brain had been squashed and fried to a level mush as I have in the past three weeks.  I get home and all I can do is ‘tweet’ and watch the game.  Statistical analysis and even witty retorts when I get home regarding the Cubs and the Majors are hard to come by when you feel like 90% of your brain isn’t working.  You’ve heard the term ‘leave it all out on the field’?  That’s how I feel like my brain capacity has been performing.  I get home at night and I feel like I have 10% left.  That’s basically enough for me to remember how to put the key in the door, eat dinner and log on to MLB.TV and watch the game.  A few nights I didn’t even get out of the office until 11:00pm.  I was able to log in at the office and watch the game because no one else was around but man my brain could use a little performance enhancing drugs lately.

But like I said in the above paragraph, no excuses.  I should be blogging.  It’s one of the things I enjoy most and if I’m going to hope you guys keep coming back to visit, I know how important it is to keep posting.  I kick this one off like this because of the comment Jeff left in the Prose and Ivy Chat room in the column to the right.  You’re right dude, my bad.  This baseball season has been unreal so far…lots to talk about.  Whatever I can muster up, I’m sure I can manage to unlock the door, eat dinner and log on to MLB.TV on only like 5% brain power and blog with the other 5%.  You’re right, my bad.
I’ll admit too, without going into details, I’ve been straight up bummed lately.  I’ve been performing stand up comedy for eleven and a half years now, acting for about half of that and producing tv/film projects for half of THAT, including a few pilots for my own shows that I created and have pitched to networks.  Simply to get this off my chest before diving into baseball because I really haven’t told anyone about it and it’s really effected my desire to write lately, I recently found out that an idea of mine may have been straight up stolen by a network.  I won’t say who and I won’t say what, but I will say this.  A production company I have a deal with to represent my pilot in the marketplace recently pitched the project to said network.  They loved the idea.  They thought it would be a great companion to another show they have in the same genre.  When they said what they show was, I couldn’t believe my ears.  They were basically telling the production company in the pitch that my new idea would pair up nicely to a show they have coming out and without them knowing that the production company that was pitching it to them was representing me…basically…without them knowing who they were talking to…stated that they have a show I pitched to them a year ago.  They loved it and thought it’d be perfect for their demographic yet nothing happened.  ONE year later and all of a sudden they have a show JUST like it coming out…that I CREATED.  It’s up to the lawyers to do their thing now, but I seriously can’t believe it.  I commit eleven and a half years of my life to my career in comedy and just like that, instead of enjoying what should be an amazing time in my career, successfully getting a show I created that I would write, produce and star in on the air…I have to deal with this crappy side of it where it seems to have been stolen out from under me.  Some executive at the network with no tie to the dedication and amount of time that I’ve poured into my career does something completely unethical and now here I am in this position.  It sucks.  It seriously sucks.  And it’s effected my desire to do a whole lot of anything accompanied with the exhaustion of the new job.
Anyway.  I came to the page today and while I’ve occasionally posted a comment in my chat box or a tweet on Twitter over the past few weeks, I hadn’t really blogged.  When I came on today and saw Jeff’s comment about me not blogging in a while, it bummed me out further.  I love this blog, I love following the Cubbies and love communicating with everyone on here about the season.  Can’t let frustration or exhaustion get in the way of my enjoyment on here and I’ll have to remember that going forward.  Thanks for the kick in the **** there Jeff, appreciate it.
ALL of that being said (phew) game and a half out tonight as it stands and a crazy season so far across baseball and in the NL Central.  I can’t believe we’re looking at four team race and I can’t help but wonder if it will hold up the entire season.  I can’t help but hope the Big Z comes around and the injury bugs decide to fly elsewhere for a bit.  The article on here about Fukudome and his old batting coach recovering his old stroke was really interesting.  Comparing hitting to boxing is really smart.  Have to use your legs and transfer the power properly or else you’re going nowhere.  Hopefully Fukudome will keep it going throughout the entire season this year since he’s got one year under his belt and doesn’t have to worry about things like moving his entire family over and adapting completely to a whole new environment and batch of new teammates.  
Soriano looks great, it’d be great if Lee would wake up.  Bradley for that matter. I feel like if Bradley were to come around and Lee wakes up, this is going to be a whole different race in the Central.  I can’t believe we’re only 1.5 games out with the injuries we’ve had to Z, Lee, Zambrano, Bradley, Ramirez, Soto…and on and on.  This team, healthy…very dangerous.  Can’t wait to see us heal and start tearing away in the Central.  No expectations…but come on.  This roster, healthy?  Good stuff.
I don’t know about sticking with Gregg.  Long term anyway. I understand we’re only midway through May so I wouldn’t quite jump the gun and make the switch yet either (to Marmol) but seriously, Gregg has to be on the on the edge of his seat and looking into his rearview mirror all season long knowing that there is a perfectly capable firethrower that could step in and take over in a second.  We’re lucky to have the situation we have with two capable pitchers with some teams barely competing with closers that can hardly claim to put any real fear in the opposing batters.  Just need Gregg to be more consistent and then no reason to look in the rearview and all the world to be confident, use Marmol’s gun to set him up and close out the eighth before Gregg shuts ’em down in the ninth.
I like the way Piniella has worked the rosters and obtained the most out of this bunch this year.  Can’t be easy when the middle of the lineup is mush.  I know about mush.  Not easy to work with.
Here something maybe some of you Cubs fans can answer for me…here’s Cubs.com photo of this year’s Cubs to vote for for the All-Star game.  
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Listen tonight as I guest on the United Cardinals Bloggers Radio Hour

Dailies

I’m going in.

Cardinals/Cubs series this weekend Thursday-Sunday at Wrigley.  The Cubs will have home-field on their side…I won’t be so lucky come this evening.

If you get a chance tonight, listen in to the United Cardinals Bloggers Radio Hour (link here) and hear me guest as we chat about all things baseball, including this weekend’s Cubs/Cards series.  Not so sure that there will be any other Cub fans included as guests so Cubs fans should feel free to call in and back me up!  (Actually, the guys mentioned that they’d keep it civil…but you never know when it comes to this rivalry!  I’m definitely looking forward to it so if you get a chance, dial it up on-line.  Also on tonight as a guest is fellow MLBLogger Redbird Chatter.  Should be a great time and an even better series this weekend!

Had a chance to watch today’s game on-line and man…does it hurt to get beat by Marquis!  Losing at Wrigley is always a horrible feeling…but having a cast-off and lay down the beating?  Not cool.  And Marquis and his stuff?  Please.  That was pathetic.

Opening Day on the other hand was awesome.  Cubs have opened the first week of the season up strong going 5-3, currently in second place behind the Cardinals.  Lilly was amazing through seven delivering the goods no one is to speak of until it’s over (you know what I’m saying) and it’s great to see him come out strong.  Not concerned at all about Zambrano, can’t wait to see him this weekend.  I feel bad for teams who don’t have that ace that makes you believe every five starts you are going to win.  Great fun in having that with Zambrano…wish I could make the Apr 21 game against the Reds to get the Zambrano no-hitter statue.  That thing is pretty cool and a great symbol of an amazing pitching performance.  Love Dempster and expect great things from him this year.  Harden got roughed up today but again, it’s early, not concerned.

Soriano is having one of his best Aprils so far ever, especially in the past few seasons and Fukudome seems to be in his April zone like last year.  With Bradley injured with a bum groin (surprise) it’s going to be important he performs like he’s capable of.  I love the balance in the lineup Bradley brings, but this injury is a great opportunity to see Reed play a whole lot more. Nothing wrong with that.

Hopefully Soto comes around.  Sore shoulders and catchers?  Not a good mix.  If Soto is healthy I don’t foresee a sophomore slump so hopefully his body holds it together.  Same with Ramirez and Gregg actually.  Injuries could be a huge problem for this team this year, something that could ruin plans we’d all love to make come October.  Ramirez’s bat and glove don’t have the back up Gregg does.  Marmol can step up and close I feel without a real problem…backing up Ramirez?  That’s much tougher.  Miles at 2B and Fontenot at 3B isn’t exactly the ideal.

Lee on the other hand.  Aside from today’s solo shot, it’s been a slow start and really the only weak link in the healthy part of the Cubs lineup right now.  I’m kind of hard on Lee because I expect a lot from him.  He needs to step it up and be his a Cardinal killer this weekend.  Any time we get the Cards at Wrigley, we have to take advantage of it.  Playing in St. Louis is never easy…need to get these four games this weekend while we’re inside the Friendly Confines.

We’ll see how friendly the podcast/radio hour confines are this evening.  Can’t wait to talk Cubs baseball with hard-core baseball fans.  Again, call in if you get a chance and say hey.  Come back soon for a new post recapping the experience!

Go Cubs Go!

Heil-Yeah! And No Need to Rename it the ‘L’illy Flag

Dailies

Ted Lilly got his first win of the year and all is well in Cubville.  zambrano_pumping_fist_1.pngMonday night Zambrano picked up another win with seven strong innings, allowing only one run and looked absolutely dominant.  Not only physically, but mentally too, the way he looked hungry for even more success and more domination after every strike thrown and out collected.  Having a warrior like Zambrano pitching for your ball club every five days is such a treat to look forward to, in between starts.  He’s the type of personality I love having on this team.  His scuffle with Barrett in the dugout last year came from his passion for winning and it ended up being one of the things that sparked the Cubs to success last year.  That fire in his eyes is the type of thing that, once contagious, can really propel a team to their best start since 1975…huh, what do you know…exactly the position the Cubs are in after 20 games into the season.

The Mets’ Heilman couldn’t keep up with Zambrano and the Cubs hit him hard over and over…a theme that continued throughout the evening.  Even one of the Cubs’ least effective bats found a way to put an exclamation point on the team’s dominance when Pie hit a 3 run shot in the eighth to put the game away.  I haven’t enjoyed a home run like that since Opening Day when Fukudome went yard to tie it up.  Sure, any Cubs home run is exciting, but these two came for guys in moments I really wanted them to come through and exceed expectations…or to some degree, meet them.  I couldn’t have been happier for Pie when the ball found its way into the cage just over the ivy in right.  A great ending to a great game.

cedeno slam.pngAnd then today…my goodness.  Not only does Lilly show signs of coming around and matching the results put up Demp and Big Z finally, but he even comes away with the win at that.  No ‘L’ flag for Ted today.  The Cubs’ bats are on a ridiculous streak and I LIKE IT.  Seriously, it’s hard to remember the last April that was this much fun to follow the Cubs.  Every single one of our starters today got a hit and six of the eight position players are hitting .300 or better.  What a rough couple games the Cubs gave Sosa there with Pie going yard after being in such a slump and then today Cedeno comes in and jacks him out of the park for a grand slam putting the game out of reach on a whole other level.  CEDENO.  Not Lee, not Ramirez…Cedeno.  Everyone is hitting.  I mean, look at this box score:

4/22/08

Chi Cubs AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Johnson, LF 4 0 1 2 1 1 3 .339
Pie, CF 5 0 2 0 0 0 4 .206
Lee, 1B 4 1 1 0 1 0 3 .353
Ramirez, 3B 4 1 1 0 1 0 3 .280
Fukudome, RF 3 2 3 0 2 0 0 .357
DeRosa, 2B 4 1 1 1 1 0 6 .309
Cedeno, SS 5 2 2 5 0 2 7 .345
Blanco, C 2 1 1 0 1 0 3 .357
  b-Ward, PH 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .077
  c-Soto, PH-C 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 .317
Lilly, P 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 .200
  a-Fontenot, PH 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .206
  Howry, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  d-Murton, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 .111
  Marmol, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
  e-Marquis, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .250
  Hart, K, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Totals 36 8 14 8 8 3 33

Also, great to see Marmol lock down 2 more K’s and the Cubs get out with the win without wasting innings from Wood and get a chance to let him rest today.  The more days we can do that for Wood, the better. 

And now next up, Hill on the mound in the high altitude, higher expectation environment of Coors Field.  With all the recent success the Cubs have had to start the season including this five game win streak, Hill is going to be expected to continue to show signs he deserves to be one of our starters and to keep this thing going…especially when it comes to the bigger picture: the 10,000 all-time win mark for the Chicago Cubs.  Now, does that really matter in the long run for this season?  No, but it would still be a cool milestone for the organization to hit.   With all the hitting that is going on, I don’t expect it take very long to get there. 

Tomorrow night, a six game win streak and 10,000 all-time Cub wins is certainly not out of the question.  Go Cubs Go!
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We’ll Always Have Pittsburgh

Dailies

52-24 and 2 sweeps.  That’s our record so far against Pittsburgh this season.  We’re 6-0 against the Pirates with an overall record of 12-6 on the season.  Thanks to this last win against the Pirates, we took over first place by 1/2 a game over the Cardinals.  And this weekend, it wasn’t even close.

Unbelievable.  I feel like I’m saying “I’ll take that anyday” a lot so far this season.  Well, roughly 12 times anyway.  One run wins.  Ugly wins.  Completely dominating wins.  Completely dominating wins back to back.  And even wins that come back-to-back-to-back in a sweep.  It’s been a great first month so far.  I mean look at these two box scores from the past two blowouts over the Pirates:

4/20/08
box score 4:20.png
4/19/08
box score 4:19.png

That is an amazing weekend of baseball.  With the new format here, I’m not even sure they lined up correctly honestly, but really…what’s it matter?  Both days happened regardless of whether they line up with the correct date here and the Cubs look great.  I think it’s amazing it’s happening without our All-Star outfielder and leadoff hitter but boy, signing Johnson sure does look like a really smart move now, huh?  Why do we continue to see rumors that the Cubs are looking at Coco Crisp?  Maybe, they’re just that, rumors.  With Johnson in the leadoff spot, I’d be interested to hear what the Cubs record is opposed to others leading off, besides Soriano (anyone know?).  Lee is amazing.  Even people in the message boards (my point being not just me) are talking about Lee killing it this year and predicting he finish with the triple crown.  Hey, who am I to argue?  He looks great.  And Ramirez seems to be coming around lately too, especially today with his four hits (matching Theriot’s four hits as well). 

I’m glad Fukudome’s deal isn’t more serious, just a cyst over his eye.  It does go to show again how valuable Derosa is though as he played right field today.  He’s supposed to be our starting 2B and he has since played LF and RF (could Brian Roberts do that? I don’t know that he could).  Eyre is supposively coming back, so that will be interesting.  We haven’t gained too much from those who took his place in his absence, but I certainly don’t want the Eyre of 2008 that we’ve seen so far to come back.  We don’t need that now.  We already have Weurtz.  Isn’t that bad enough?

And if Dempster was unhappy about his inning management today, well then somebody help him out with that or tell him something that he thinks will help.  Because whatever he’s doing is working as I was right.  Demp is justified as a starter starting the season at 3-0 and having one of the best starts among all Cubs starters. 

Speaking of which, Zambrano goes tomorrow against the Mets.  A much truer test of the Cubs’ abilities.  MLB.com’s story is right.  I believe the Pirates are a team you should beat.  But the Mets are another story…so…we’ll see.  Maine is on the mound for the Mets and he’s having a great season too.  Should be another pitcher’s duel Zambrano finds himself in.  Let’s hope the Cubs didn’t waste all the good offense on the Pirates.  Time to ‘meet the Mets’ all right…with a giant offensive onslaught.

Let’s keep it going…Go Cubs Go!
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A New Feature on Prose and Ivy

Dailies

While I will definitely continue writing here as close to daily as possible, whenever I get a chance to add a little something extra to this space, I’m going to try throwing on this new feature as an add-on to my writing.  Of course, I’m not sure the embedding is going to be compatible with the new format.  (If so, great, if not, I guess there will be a link at the end of this to click on).  This was my first attempt so they’ll get better as we go (promise).  Those AL East comments I talked about yesterday are coming either later this evening or tomorrow at the latest.  Rough game today, huh?  I don’t know what Lilly’s waiting for.  Hill’s in danger of losing his spot in the rotation and Lieber didn’t look so hot today giving up Griffey’s #596, a 3 run shot…seriously…could someone besides Zambrano and Dempster please start showing something in the starter’s role please?
lilly pitching 4:17.pnggriffey 596 HR.png

Please?

That would be great.  In the meantime, feel free to click this link to play the first Prose and Ivy Cubcast!  Good times.  Go Cubs Go!

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They Could All Be Fun

Dailies

reds v cubs.pngAs I write this, the Cubs are up 11-3 in the middle of the 8th inning tonight against the Cincinnati Reds.  Cincinnati was down by more than Ocho by the middle of inning numero Cinco and there was no looking back.  What an unbelievable game.  Zambrano looks amazing.  7 innings and only 2 runs given up on 8 hits and 5 strike outs.  He even doubled and had an RBI.  Now if only the rest of the starters could follow suit. 

I didn’t really know what to expect with this being the first game with Soriano.  15 days.  Wow.  That is horrible.  It’s unfortunate it happens on a move (the hop) that isn’t even necessary to field his position…and odd that it happened doing something he does game in soriano swinging bat close up.png and game out, fly ball putout after flyball putout.  I like the fact that it opens up the opportunity to get the Theriot/Fontenot LSU double play combo on the field and it gives great value to Derosa’s existence on the roster.  Still though, losing Soriano is huge and it will be interesting to see how it affects us over the next couple weeks. 

Now, when I created the D Lee News and every other link list in the sidebar, I had the freedom of using them and adding to them anytime I wanted.  Since the blog format change, they haven’t been working properly always so I haven’t been able to keep the D Lee News or the Pitchers/Beer section as I’d like.  So let me say this, as for the pitcher/beer result for today’s game, it’s obvious, no?  Zambrano, this tall, ice cold, frosty mugged beer is on us.  You may be expected to stay off the soda and coffee…pull up to the bar with a bunch of bananas, a potassium pill and some pretzels my friend.  This beer’s for you…and its on us.

As for the D Lee News…if you look at the archives or have been a regular visitor to Prose and Ivy since Spring Training…you’ll know how worried I was about Lee.  He looked so amazingly bad in Spring Training, regardless of whether it counted, I really thought it mattered.  Turns
D Lee.png out…I was wrong.  Lee is having an unbelievable start to the season.  Fukudome has totally stolen the show, but Lee is probably the biggest reason the Cubs kick things off at 8-5 (about to go 9-5 as they are now up 12-3 in the top of the ninth with one out, about to put this one away).  Coming into tonight’s game Lee leads the team in AB, R, Hits, Doubles, HR, RBI, total bases, slugging %, and batting average (not counting Blanco who only has 8 AB on the season).  Are you kidding me?  No.  I did not see this coming.  And it is probably the second best surprise of the season.  Fukudome is the first.  He had another great game tonight going 2-for-3, scored twice, 2 RBI and walked twice.  He’s hitting .353 on the season and leads the team in on-base percentage.  Imagine this lineup when Soriano is healthy and hitting and Ramirez is hitting and in a timely manner and for power as expect, at that.  Incredible.

For now though, Soriano is out and we’re looking to make due.  Tonight was a great start coming away with the W.  9-5 on the season including a nice two game smackdown of Dusty in his return to Wrigley.   Hard to complain about too much so far.  A few pitchers need to pick up their game a bit and they know who they are, although I have no problem with the press harping on their struggles.  Hopefully it will motivate them to turn things around and join the rest of the team on their level of extraordinary play so far this season.

A number of publications in the beginning of the season picked the Cubs to win the Central and many picked them to win the whole thing.  I’ve been thinking about that (who hasn’t) for a while now and if that were the case…I was thinking about what it would be like to play the American League champion whoever they may be.  Lots of thoughts on facing every American League team in the Classic.  Those thoughts to be posted in the upcoming days…but let’s face it, if the Cubs are representing the National League in the World Series, bring on anyone from the American League…they could all be fun.  Tomorrow, to kick things off: the AL East.

Great game tonight!  Go Cubs Go!
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.500 After 2 Series. Now Let’s Ruin the Pirates’ Home Opener!

Dailies

Great weekend!  Went back to my alma mater to do some comedy and had a great show!  Saw some friends and family I hadn’t seen a while…good times. 
Cubs Win Wrigley Field Sign.pngAnd if that wasn’t enough, the Cubs got their first series win of the season and some of our guys are looking great so far!  Fukudome has taken over Chicago.  They may call Matsui “Godzilla”, but even he couldn’t take over a city the way Fukudome has taken over Chicago.  He’s basically done exactly what I expected…brought a complete playoff atmosphere/excitement to every home game at Wrigley.  Some players just do that (like I’ve said in an earlier blog ie, Lebron James, etc) and Fukudome is definitely one of them.  How exciting it must be for him to be making such an impact in a new league, in front of new fans.  Making the decision to make such a move with his career and family couldn’t have been easy and I’m happy to see its working out for him so far.

The Cubs are in a place now where no matter who they’re playing, I feel like they’re going to win.  And not in that love-is-blind kind of way either.  No homer predictions day in and day out here…I genuinely feel like they are going to win every game they play (not literally, but you know what I mean).  They are .500 after six games, against two division rivals.  As of now the Brewers and Cardinals are 5-1 leading the NL Central up 2 games over the Cubs in the standings.  Good luck with that.  That 2 game lead is about to evaporate very quickly.  I believe the team is still coming together and shaking off some winter rust.  Lee came through huge today with his third home run of the season and even Soriano hit one out!  Fukudome looks great, Zambrano has had two strong starts and Wood looks like he’s coming into his own in the closer role.  Dempster and Marquis showed they deserve those last two spots in the rotation in the Spring and now that they’ve completed their first starts of the season and shook any nerves off about it, I’m hoping they’re ready to move forward and raise some ‘W’ flags in the process. 
soriano runs out of the box.pngD Lee.pngIt’s a long season but there is just something about this team.  I believe .500 is going to be long in the rear-view mirror come the end of the season…and in a good way.  Milwaukee spoiled our opener in an exciting fashion and tomorrow we roll into the Pirates home opener.  Here’s hoping the Cubs pull off the same thing with the Pirates that the Brewers did to us.  The schedule organizers do a great job with all the division games right up front.  This division is probably going to be tight all the way down to the wire this year, just like last year (I realize this, it’s just fun to talk a little trash every now and then).  Having these divisional games up front is an exciting way to start the season…you always want to get out of the gates quickly…but especially against teams in your own division.  Let’s keep winning these series.  Zambrano looked awesome today…must’ve had a whole bunch of bananas laid out for him in the locker room before this one!   (Hey, whatever it takes…)

Looking forward to tomorrow’s game with Lilly on the mound.  Before I sign off, just want to say thanks to Mark and MLBlogs.com for putting Prose and Ivy on the MLB.com homepage!  As always…Go Cubs Go!
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You Know What It Could Be?

Dailies

Worse. 

It could be a lot worse.  So what, two games down, no wins to show for it.  Its two games.  Soriano will be leading off tomorrow and well see how that goes.  It wont be the first time Lou switches up the line up and thats to be expected.  Its not like we were going 1-8 like that for 162 games anyway.  Lets see if Soriano up first against the Brewers makes a difference.  Soriano loves the leadoff spot and Theriot says the spots where hes most hit most and is most comfortable.  It was all about Sorianos legs…protect Sorianos legs in the 2 hole…and now Piniella feels hes running just fine so he will hit him lead off.

It was great to see Lee go deep today.  He had a great day which is refreshing after his Spring…the sooner he can get going the better.  Especially with Soriano and Ramirez drawing nothing but zeroes today.  Somebody has to be counted on and hopefully with one game left against the Brewers in this opening series, we can get a W and leave only down a game kicking off the season.  Again, its one thing to lose games up front, but to lose them to a team in your division is a whole other story.

lilly pitching game 2.pngI would have liked to have seen Lilly have a good first outing.  He got batted around pretty bad.  Hopefully hes able to pull it together for his next time out.  Tomorrow, Dempster will find himself warming up in a whole different scenario.  Lets hope he has a different outcome and the bats show up to help him out.  Would love to see him get to a save situation so we can see if Woods horrible outing was just nerves or something else.  I still think Marmol should be the closer, but if were going with Wood, the sooner he can get it going (just like everyone else on this team), the better.  And Im sure he will.  Im sure everyone will and we will be just fine.  (Did I convince you?  Not even sure I convinced myself…)

Go Cubs Go…beat those Brewers tomorrow!
(And as for all those apostrophes that were left out of this post?  I left them out on purpose in honor of Mr. Cub and his new statue outside Wrigley.  I can’t believe they forgot the apostrophe!)  Here’s the story if you haven’t heard alreadyLETS PLAY TWO)
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‘Z’ Day is Finally Here!

Dailies

OPENING DAY AT WRIGLEY!  FINALLY!
zambrano openind day 2008.pngAbout two hours from now the Chicago Cubs will start their quest of winning the Major League Baseball championship for 2008.  After following every move the team made all offseason closely and watching every Spring Training game available, I couldn’t be more excited, or more ready.  I think Lou has the team ready to go mentally and physically and I think they’ve made all the right decisions with the roster.  Last year’s battle with the Milwaukee Brewers will probably closely resemble this year’s outcome only I believe the Cubs will win the division by five games over the Brewers this time.  Nothing of course makes this more likely then beating them head to head and today is our first shot at ’em for ’08.

Wrigley is going to be rocking, I just know it.  I can’t wait to hear what people think of the adjustments made to the field and the stadium.  I can’t wait to hear what the players think of it.  I can’t wait to hear the right field bleacher fans’ reaction to Fukudome the first time he takes his place in the outfield wearing number 1, ready to go.  I can’t wait to see if bats that were heating up at the end of Spring continue to do so in the frigid Chicago weather.  I can’t wait to see Zambrano take the mound completely pumped to take the first game in the battle of the Cubs/Brewers and ready to win his first Opening Day.  I can’t wait to see if John Kruk is right about D Lee and that he’s going to be in NL MVP form this year out of the gate and throughout the season.  I can’t wait to see the first ‘W’ flag of the season raised above the scoreboard.  I can’t wait to watch the final out of a game and then see it actually count in the standings.  And I can’t wait to understand how this new blogging format works so I can fully communicate/take advantage of all its functions in enjoying this season with you.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way about an Opening Day before and I’m not sure what exactly is making this one so different.  I’m definitely glad the wait is over though!

Let’s Play Ball…GO CUBS GO!
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