D Lee Denies LA


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!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for PROSE LOGO.png

Blessing in Disguise


When it comes to Chicago Cubs baseball, if recent events have taught us anything, it’s never say always.  One of my favorite things to say here at Prose and Ivy is, “We’ll Always Have Pittsburgh”.  Given our performance in the past against the lowly Pirates, it always appeared on the year’s schedule as a gift-wrapped blessing.  A small three day break if you will where wonderful things happen like Cubs home runs flying out of the park, pitchers dominating on the mound, Cubs ending up on the right end of a blow out and W flags are hooked to the flag pole rope at the top of the first for it’s inevitable rising after the top of the ninth.  Plan to head home early folks because the Pirates are coming to town.  There won’t be any Cubs batting in the bottow of the ninth because there won’t be one.  These games are given.  The Pirates can’t handle the talent and the skill level the Cubs bring to their games.  Regardless of how the Cubs were going, if you see Pittsburgh coming up on the schedule, get ready for at least a three game turnaround and find your brooms.  The Cubs were about to seem the Pirates and all will feel right again in Wrigleyville.

That was then.  This…is now.

All of a sudden, the Cubs can’t be counted on to beat one of the worst teams in all of baseball and the cellar dweller or the NL Central.  See that .342 winning percentage and the 17 games that they currently sit behind the division leading Reds?  Don’t let that fool you!  When the Pirates have had the all-of-a-sudden priviledge of playing the Cubs, they are a surreal .800 ballclub!  In ten games against the Cubs this year, they’ve won 8 and lost 2.  What?!?  WHAT!?!  There are certain things that this blog feels it can count on:  baseball magazines and websites and blogs will have the Cubs listed as contenders in the Central, talk whether this is the year and then the Cubs will let you down come October (some seasons even earlier); Dempster will predict the Cubs will win it all; Carlos Marmol will be responsible for at least six heart attacks across the midwest throughout the course of a season; Sox fans will hate on Cubs fans and vice versa; and if nothing else is going our way, hey hey…at least ‘We’ll Always Have Pittsburgh’.  Well, that last one apparently no longer applies.  And it just may be a blessing in disguise.

Think about how this season is going.  The Reds lead the NL Central and the Cubs currently sit in fourth place looking up at the unfortunate view of Brewers behinds, hardly even keeping the Cardinals in sight, while the Reds are a ******** 10 games out in front of them.  The offense thinks it’s still the off-season.  Carlos Zambrano is seeing a shrink.  Piniella seems to be snoozing through the first half of the season.  All of our ‘all-stars’ suddenly look too old, too injured, or too apathetic.  Castro started out hot and then cooled off to an average pace.  Wells can’t seem to find the form that kept him one of the club’s most dominant pitchers in ’09.  And for some reason, we CAN’T beat the Pirates.  Fine.  If that’s the way it is…if that’s the way it’s going to be, then perhaps the rest of the things we’ve come to expect can start to make a change as well.

Perhaps the head shrink can get Zambrano under control and he can perform out of the bullpen upon possibly returning after the All-Star break.  Perhaps Wells can find his form and start to lead this club through a charge to possibly make up 10 games to the top of the division.  Our crosstown rivals just made a huge push to put themselves in the club of relevant baseball teams for this year, and if they can do it I KNOW we can do it.  Perhaps we will find a way to win one run ballgames in the 2nd half of the season.  Those eighteen losses in one run games might just be the single most frustrating aspect of 2010.  Perhaps since what has become the norm against Pittsburgh has been turned on it’s head, maybe all of these other things we’ve come to expect from this team this year can take a change of course as well.  Perhaps it is a blessing in disguise.

Of course, if it does happen there is a very good chance that we may have a few different guys wearing that same disguise as there are rumors that everyone from Zambrano to Marmol to Fukudome to Lilly are on the trading block.  I’m not sure how far behind we need to be for Ricketts to consider himself a seller as opposed to a buyer.  He’s a good business man it seems, but he’s also a fan.  I wonder how hard it must be for him to make rationale decisions when analyzing at point this particular team is no longer going to make the push it needs to contend.  I wonder if Ricketts thinks Pittsburgh is just another symptom of an extremely frustrating and disappointing Cubs season.  I wonder if he can find a way out of this mess and find the blessings in all of this turmoil.  So many fans on-line if you read around the Cubsblogosphere have already said ‘please, no more’ or are very close to taking that flag and throwing it in like a towel.  I don’t like our odds against the rest of the league if we can’t even handle Pittsburgh.  However, I didn’t expect Pittsburgh to put the beating on us the way they have.  Hopefully an unexpected 180 on this season’s trajectory is around the corner as well.  If not Pittsburgh, we’ll always have fool’s hope, right? 

(Any thoughts you’d like to share can be done in the comments section, or if you’d like, you can call into tonight’s Baseball Bloggers Alliance podcast.  I’m guest hosting tonight at 11pm EST and you can find the show’s site and information here!  And since I’m hosting with WebSoulSurfer who runs a Padres blog, I’ve included a clip of the Derrek Lee/Chris Young fight.  Why not?  Enjoy.  Go Cubs Go!)

Boy, Oh Boy


I still can’t believe the Central is turning into a two team race and it’s the REDS battling the Cards for the division lead.  I felt in the beginning of the year that the Cubs are probably in a position where they are just too brittle and a little too old to really contend.  I picked them to win it all (of course) however deep down I knew it would take something more than a miracle to make it happen.  Sure, adding Castro was exciting and brought the team’s average age down a bit but in the end, he’s part of a team struggling to find a way to make it over the hump and win on a consistent basis along with the Cards and Cincinnati.

We’re not in a very good position looking up at the Reds with our star third baseman changing his batting grip because he’s too hurt to hit the way normally does and has for over a decade now.  It’s not good that that same player is openly speaking to the fact that the entire locker room is filled with guys playing through pain. Look at the calendar.  It’s only June 23rd.  We haven’t even hit the all-star break yet.  We haven’t even made any significant dent in the dog days of Summer.  We’re eight games back, too fragile, too old and too unlucky. Piniella is hoping we hit a streak leading up to the big game.  Why wouldn’t he?  Of course he does.  He’s a winner and he wants to win.  However I don’t see it happening with this squad in 2010.

Piniella recently mentioned the team is 10-16 in one-run games this year when a reporter brought it up.  26 games so far this year that the team was in and yet we fall six games under five hundred in those contests. Intangibles and luck win you one-run games and we are falling short in both cases.

Lilly started the season late and while physically present, has really shown up in the stat or win column the way we need him to.  Chances are Carlos Silva will be the team’s lone representative in the All-Star game on July 13th in Anaheim.  I’ve said it before and will say it again.  Carlos Silva?!?  If he’s the best we’ve got….the guy no one expected much from except to show up to the Cubs like aspirin and help rid us of a headache…then we are in big trouble.

Remember a couple years ago when the NL All-Star team was flooded with Cubs?  I attended the all-star parade that year here in New York and it was awesome to see our favorite Cubbies rolling down the Avenue of the Americas representing the best of the NL and the Cubs team with the most potential since the flip of the new milennium (yes I believe our 2007 and ’08 squads were better than the ’03 team).  Now we’re simply shells of our former potential.  The last names are the same but the guys in those uniforms are simply beyond their true opportunity to win it all.  It’s sad really but without significant moves or a stroke of dumb luck, once again this will not be our year.

This is that weird time of the baseball season where it’s too late to say it’s early and it’s too early to say it’s too late.  However this team needs to dig deep and make things happen quick.  Find a way to get on base and score some runs to support our rotation. Find a way to win one-run ballgames and of course when possible, enjoy being on the right side of a blow out.

Some big series are coming up and lots of baseball left to play, but boy, oh boy…it is time to dig in and start looking like contenders.  Cincy and St. Louis aren’t messing around and aren’t going to wait around for Chicago to get it’s act together.

Almost feels like it’s time to get that Cubbie swagger back that they had a couple years back, basically refusing to lose and just plowing ahead all about winning.  I went to Mets/Tigers tonight and the Mets improved on their home field advantage driving their record at home to 26-10.  They are a team that seems to have figured it out and are simply refusing to lose at home.  You can see a confidence in everything they do.  Winning breeds confidence of course, but I also believe a little bit of confidence or swagger might do the Cubs some good as well.  Going back in a couple weeks to see the Reds when they come to town.  Will be interesting to see one of baseball’s biggest surprise up close and personal.

On a personal note, things have been crazy lately as I’ve been completely baby crazy.  Found out that my wife and I are having a little BOY come October.  A BOY.  So cool.  Can’t wait to take the little guy to Citi Field and experience the great game of baseball.  Of course a trip to Wrigley is on deck as soon as possible too.  Never too early to catch a game at the greatest park in all of baseball.  A wild summer of hoping for playoff baseball and figuring out how this baby stuff is going to work come October.

This Fall is going to be exciting regardless with the little guy on the way…but throw in some playoff baseball and never mind blowing my mind.  My head might explode.   Go Cubs Go!

2010 Cub Concerns: Head, Shoulders, Knees and ‘Tos



Carlos Zambrano and Carlos Marmol.  A couple of Carloses (Carlosi?)  that we need to worry about in the head category, the mental game.  Zambrano had an awful ’09 by Big Z standards.  Every from Hendry down to Ronnie Woo Woo thinks this year is going to be potentially the biggest of his career. Piniella’s gone as far as saying that Z could hit the 20 win mark in 2010.  Zambrano’s going to have to keep his head straight and lay off the meltdowns if 20 wins is going to be anywhere near Z’s future this season.  He’s projected to once again start Opening Day for the Cubs, a position he’s been horribly unsuccesful in when it comes to which flag ends up flying for the Cubs at Wrigley after doing so.  From Opening Day right on through September, if we’re going to have a chance of picking up the games necessary to catch the Cards and make the postseason, Zambrano has to keep his head on straight and lead the way.  Be the ace we pay you to be Z.  Lead the way.
And set the example for another guy in the head/mental concern category for 2010.  This is finally what Marmol has been waiting for.  After spending years proving himself out of the bullpen as the set up guy, this year, he’s the man.  The owner of the job of Cubs’ closer.  After losing out two years ago in an audition and then only being given the chance to take over for an ineffective, season poisoning pitcher in Kevin Gregg he has now been given the role he’s coveted.  Let’s hope his head stays where we need it to be.  Focused on the task at hand day in and day out and not overwhelmed by achieving a goal he’s had his sights on for years.  Sometimes when we get where we want to be, it’s hard to maintain that momentum and it isn’t always what we thought it would be.  I have no doubt being the Cubs closer will be all Marmol feels it’s cracked up to be…I just hope he kicks off the season right in roughly a month from now and keeps up that momentum through all of 2010.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  I’m a Lil’ worried about Ted Lilly.  He’s saying all the right things as is the organization.  He’s taking his time in getting back and no one expects him to be available come Opening Day.  Not only am I concerned about what we get in Ted when he does return, I’m concerned about what his absence does to our rotation.  Without Lilly as part of the Cubs’ five, we’re looking at Zambrano, Dempster, Wells and then two guys currently sharing the same name on the back of their jersey: TBD.  That doesn’t exactly bode well no matter how much Muskat wants to report that this is Samardzija’s year or that Gorzellany or Marshall or Silva may have enough to do their fair share while we wait for our most consistent pitcher to get back in pinstripes.  Ted Lilly’s shoulder needs to show up in 2010 at 100% because without Ted healthy, we have no shot at the playoffs this year.
Angel Guzman is another guy who has seen some down time recently due to soreness in his shoulder and the Cubs are going to look to him as potentially a strong part of the bullpen this year.  With Nady’s elbow working it’s way back through possibly new throwing mechanics from the outfield, you have to acknowledge that once you start throwing different than your body is used to, it could have a negative effect on other parts.  IE: his shoulder.  These three shoulders need to get healthy and be ready come Opening Day.
Really, the only knees I am extremely concerned about are those of our left fielder, Alfonso Soriano.  One day he is saying that he doesn’t feel his knee is where it needs to be considering how much time has passed since his surgery late last year.  Then the next day, suddenly, it’s not feeling so bad.  Well, which is it Sori?  Good?  Not so good?  Hopefully Piniella and the team doctors keep a real close eye on Alfonso this Spring.  The appropriate number of plate appearances to shake off that Winter dust is one thing.  Let’s not push him beyond that though.  He needs to be as healthy as possible to hold his own in the six hole this year and getting to any fly balls he can’t hop too or anything too far left of Byrd’s range in center.  Soriano’s contract is already putting a damper on financial flexibility.  His knees can’t suffer from any sort of damper in the flexibility category as well.
Our man Geo behind plate represents the ‘Tos for this rundown of concerns for ’10 heading into Spring Training.  If the Cubs were the cast of NBC’s The Biggest Loser, Soto’s off-season efforts would’ve taken home the grand prize.  40 pounds lighter and the desire to prove his sophomore slump was nothing but a fluke could spell an amazing 2010 for Soto!  A more serious attitude towards winning and staying in shape, less weed and perhaps less snacks led to Soto’s weight loss.  We need him in shape and turning that bat around on opposing pitchers’ fastballs quick like an athletic catcher and not our fat friend who we like so much we can’t tell him he can’t play, we just stick him behind the plate to play catcher so he doesn’t have to move too much.  From the time Soto saw folks at the Cubs Convention right through reports coming in from Spring Training, the word has been that Soto looks amazing and is going to bring it this year.  With the first games of Spring around the corner, I can’t wait to see what he looks like in action.
Lots of competition on the ball club this year in rounding out the bench and guys coming back from injuries and off years should make for a thrilling Spring Training.  Can’t wait to see Sori, Millar, Zambrano, Nady, Soto and what happens in the battle for second base.  
Spring Training is here as guys have started to report even earlier than necessary.  You have to love the ambition and commitment.  Add some health to the mix this year, and we could be talking Cubs baseball right into October in the present tense, not looking back like last year.
Wells to start the Cubs opener this Thursday against the A’s…Go Cubs Go!

‘Lil’ Worried


Anyone else concerned about Ted Lilly?

Our most consistent pitcher over the past few years has only begun throwing lightly after having arthroscopic surgery on his pitching shoulder two months ago.  Hendry mentioned at the Cubs Convention today that Lilly is expected to be back by the third week of the regular season putting him on the mound end of April/first week of May.  Now, he’d only miss about four or five starts in that case, but I don’t know.  
I already don’t feel super confident in our starting rotation.  Not the way I did in ’07 and ’08.  Zambrano, Lilly, Dempster, Harden and Hill.  All healthy, on paper that just sounds solid.  Even when we were going into the first season of Dempster as a starter and Wood as our closer, it just felt like a decent experiment that would lead to a positive outcome.  Cut to ’10…Big Z, Dempster, Wells…Lilly after surgery and a number five guy that is completely up in the air.  
The organization is apparently interested in Contreras and going to take a look at Sheets.  I think Sheets will have an average season but his asking price is going to be too high for the Cubs budget and honestly, too high for what teams will get out of Sheets.  This isn’t Ben Sheets a couple of years ago.  This is Ben Sheets now.  And Contreras?  Can we rely on him to be a decent stop gap until Lilly is back?  Maybe?  And what about when Lilly comes back?  How will he perform?  Will he give us the kind of season we need out of Lilly in order to compete in the NL Central?  Without Lilly’s all-star worthy campaign and Lee’s unbelievable (out of nowhere) turn around in 2009, we would have finished in third or fourth place in the Central easily.  And now we have Lilly, arguably best as our number two pitcher, coming back from surgery on his pitching shoulder?  Yikes.  I don’t know.  Honestly, I’m a little worried.
One name I haven’t really heard thrown around a whole lot as an option in 2010 as a number four or five guy is Pedro Martinez.  He was phenomenal in the couple months that he gave the Phillies at the end of last season, including the playoffs.  I think he’s healthier and less risky than Sheets, has done more than Contreras and is a known warrior.  He comes to play every game he’s listed as the starting pitcher for the day and is amazing in the clubhouse.  He’s respected all over baseball and would add a lot to the chemistry and atmosphere among the ball club at Wrigley if brought over to the Cubs.  I was at Opening Day at Shea in 2005, Pedro’s first year with the Mets.  The place went insane when he was introduced.  I know this is five years later and he has a few seasons behind him on his downside, heading towards the end of his career.  However, there is just something about the fight in Pedro Martinez and what he brings that I believe is an option Hendry should be seriously considering.  Not sure where the Phillies stand regarding bringing Pedro back, but if they don’t want him, Hendry should make a call and an offer.  I just feel like Z, Demp, Lilly, Wells and Pedro would be a solid 1-5 and if any of them were to go down to injury or end up unable to perform for an expected stretch of time we still have significant five spot options already signed to wear Cub pinstripes in 2010.  
Something to think about.  I don’t know Contreras is the answer.  Not expecting Sheets.  Would be thrilled at the roll of the dice with Pedro.  Just a little worried about the rotation is all.  And by little, I mean very.  Anyone else?
Go Cubs Go!
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for PROSE LOGO2.jpg

MLB Network 1, Cubs 0


So far this off-season the MLB Network has more key free-agent acquistions than the Cubs do. Patience will definitely be a virtue while we wait to find out what last names will be attached to Chicago’s favorite bags of laundry.

Hendry wasn’t able to do anything significant during the Winter Meetings but that doesn’t really surprise me.  The economy is horrible so everyone’s being careful about every move they make and the consequences those moves may have in the long term.  Also, there’s always those couple key free-agents that the dominos don’t get to fall until those pieces land where they may.  In the past couple years guys like Fukudome, Matszuaka and Johan Santana played the role. This year it’s Halladay, Lackey and arguably Bay.  We know that there are certain pieces we can expect to be there come Spring, but there are 266 free agents still out there looking for a new address.  Anything can happen and it’s going to keep the miserably cold winter extremely interesting this year.

Happy to see Miles and Heilman go.  Never was thrilled with Miles being a Cub, he had huge shoes to fill when he was the replacement piece for fan-favorite and capable utility man DeRosa.  Heilman is just a joke.  He came in with promise when he reached the Mets and then went on to contribute to the horrilbe state the Metropolitans have fallen to.  I live in NY and have seen a ton of Mets games and read a ton of Mets headlines.  Heilman is a disaster and we’re a better team without him.

That somewhat, in some round about way brings me to Castillo.  Luis Castillo is playing for the New York Mets.  I’d like to remind everyone of that.  IF a trade actually ends up going through, whether it’s for Bradley straight up or involving as many as twenty-something teams, IF the Cubs end up with Castillo, be disappointed.  This is not the Luis Castillo that played with Florida.  This is an older, slower, less effective Castillo and he will not do much in getting the Cubs to where they need to be.  Again, living in NY has given me plenty of opportunity to see Castillo let down Mets fans from all over and become the hot target of New York boo-birds.  The Mets last won the Series in ’86 and last appeared in it in 2000.  You think the Mets fans’ level of patience brought out a lot of boos and negative press?  Wait until the fans of the Cubs, waiting 100 years and counting in taking home the trophy, get their hands on an inempt second baseman like Castillo.  We’re far better off with the Fontenot-Baker tandem.  I would prefer to upgrade at second if we can, but Castillo is not the guy.

Love Ted Lilly but I’m a little concerned about how long it will take for him to be effective next year coming back from surgery.  I know we have more pressing needs than a back up plan to Lilly, but it would be great to see if Hendry could work out a deal somewhere that brings in a solid starter as insurance.  I like his confidence in the guys we have, but I’d feel more secure in our shot if we had one more quality guy with the experience and numbers to prove he can handle it. Even more so than Gorzelanny or Marshall can offer.

Congratulations to Peter Gammons, look forward to catching you on MLB Network.  Hoping the Cubs give us a few guys to look forward to catching as well.  Go Cubs Go!

Straight out of Central Casting



Oh no.  Two years of division titles in the Central for the Cubs and that is where it stops.  Cubs are hot lately but it’s too little, too late if you were hoping for a three-peat.  Cardinals beat the Rockies tonight in the ‘I really don’t want to root for either of these teams Bowl’ and clinched the NL Central.  They had the better season.  Their superstars had the better year.  Their pitchers stepped up and outperformed us.  Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals for taking the Central.
Now we’re looking at the Wild Card.  Granted, we’re looking at it with horrible seats but at least we got tickets.  A few teams are standing in our way of claiming the Wild Card and our down in front chants aren’t doing much in making a difference.  It hasn’t seemed to work in our favor this last month of the season no matter what we do.  It seems any time we pick up a game on the Rockies, so does everyone else.  And if we lose a game, well, they do too.  And the Rockies have pulled a ton of comeback wins out making our late season heroics attempts moot.  We’re not out of it yet and it’s becoming quite the final couple weeks of the season.  Don’t know that I’d use the word ‘wild’ to describe it, but at least the games still mean something anyway.  For three more games that is anyway, possibly less.
Our elimination number is down to 3.  Any combination of Rockies wins and Cub losses that add up to three and we’re done.  These few games against the Giants have been a blast.  I must admit, when I saw Zambrano v. Lincecum as the opposing pitchers the other night, I thought we were toast.  Figures that’s when Z steps up and delivers his best pitching performance since his no-hitter a year ago.  Also figures that while Lee has been on a tear, he just happens to be the guy on base in front of Baker, who just happens to hit a 2 run shot to win a ballgame in the ninth, who just happens to drive in Lee, who just happens to be the victim of an overzealous Guzman celebration, who just happens to hit Lee (not Baker, who actually hit the home run) and who just so happens to injure Lee’s neck while doing so causing him to miss a couple games.  And that my friends is what we call the Chicago Cubs.
I wish this team would continue to play all out while we aren’t mathematically eliminated but it has been nice seeing the young talent shine.  I understand being careful with guys for next year, but since we’re still in it…I guess since we’re still in it, it does bother me a little shutting down guys like Harden and being so careful with Lilly who’s been our star all year on the mound.  And in total contrast, if you’re giving up on the season and looking to next year and giving guys a bit of lighter workload, why are we allowing Dempster to push to try and reach 200 innings?  Who cares if Demp wants to hit 200?  You want to save him and make sure his arm doesn’t throw any unnecessary pitches in 2009 we could use in 2010…then allowing this push to 200 is something I just don’t get.  Gorzellany has been great and the lineups and results have been working in our favor, but really who would’ve thought that’d be the case.  I kind of feel like the organization gave up on the season too soon and have simply been lucky that the make shift line ups have come through the way they have.  
So here we are three games away from elimination.  Let’s just keep playing hard and see where the chips fall.  Central is no longer a possibility…but let’s keep pushing and see if we can somehow make our way down front and capture the wild card.  Never know.  Right Yogi?  
Wells up again tomorrow.  Do your thing Wells and get that W.  Go Cubs Go!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for PROSE LOGO2.jpg

Didn’t see that coming


Today’s broadcast of Prose and Ivy Cubs Blog Talk Radio went really well I must say for the first live broadcast.  I didn’t get word out nearly early enough for people to know about it, mark it on their calendars and call in.  But the technology is really cool and I think it’s going to be a blast to do in conjuction with the written aspect of Prose and Ivy.  I’ll be sure to let you all know when the next broadcast is going to be well in advance this next time so you can call in and share your thoughts.  Talk radio is a whole lot cooler when people call in…er, even listen for that matter.  Next time, more advanced notice for sure.

What I didn’t see coming, was the final score of Reds 7, Cubs 5.  Sonnufa….I swear.  I left my apartment and it was 5-5 going into the top of the ninth inning.  Marmol was in and I figured we were good.  I can’t believe he walked two in a row.  That’s the real surprise.  Sure, Marmol has a tendency to be a little wild.  But his stuff his undeniably nasty and I stand by it that he is the Cubs best option for closer and should have been the guy since Opening Day 2009.  Going into 2010 I also believe he should be the guy.  Unless he happens to be taking off guys’ heads like Rick Vaughn did to wooden displays of batsmen in Major League, honestly, he’s our guy.  So, I’m on the talk show boasting about Marmol being the guy…I hang up (the show is recorded from your phone)…I look at my email and there’s a message with the final Cubs score….Reds 7, Cubs 5…loser?  Marmol.  Sonnufa…well, whatever.  I don’t know…we didn’t deserve to be tied in the ninth anyway.  Unbelievably poor support of Wells today.  Unreal.  If it’s not inconsistent hitting, it’s poor fielding.  Our starters can’t catch a break.  Read an article on Cubs.com today that reinforced my comments on air regarding quality starts from our rotation this year and how our team’s bats have pretty much taken them and thrown them away, never to matter again.  It’s really unbelievable when you think that our starters have a 3.76 ERA and we’re on the cusp of being eliminated from playoff contention, whereas last year we won the division with the same group of guys basically, and they had an ERA of 3.75.  Two solid years from the rotation.  Two very different results. 
Whatever moves are made in the off-season, I hope they revolve around studying how clutch guys are and what they’re average is with guys in scoring position.  I hope that is taken into great consideration.  That, and speed.  Maybe if we can find a couple guys with high OBP’s with some speed and timely hitting, maybe THAT will put this team over the top.  Maybe it’s not a ‘left handed power hitter’ that we need now or really needed this past off-season.  Maybe it’s simply a couple of speedy small ball guys to jump start the offense and fill in the necessary grind in between the large bats we already had on the team who are paid to go yard.  
I don’t know.  I just know that as soon as I saw the email with the final game result with Marmol as the loser, I just said out loud “well, that figures”.  Left my apartment to do the radio show as they were entering the top of the ninth.  We had overcome an inning filled with three errors early on to tie it up and now our most reliable bullpen guy was on the mound.  I thought, hey, this looks good to me.  Went out and put out a passionate plea to anyone who would listen to make Marmol the guy from here on out and through 2010.  Bam. Two walks and a double.  Reds win.  Marmol loses.  Didn’t see that coming.
Also didn’t see this coming either…apparently a pretty cool sports blogger conference that happened in June in NYC.  Another one coming up in Vegas in October.  My wife was upset that I watched 5 innings of Cubs baseball on my honeymoon one afternoon (she got over it and was cool afterwards, but at first…not so much)….imagine if we’d been married in October and I snuck off to this?  Now that would have made for an interesting radio show.  Check it out, pretty cool concept.  Hope to catch the next one next time they do it in New York.

Cubs v. Reds again tomorrow at Wrigley.  Mr. All-Star Theodore Roosevelt Lilly on the mound for the Cubs.  Go get your W Teddy Mustwin (see a couple of posts below this).  Go Cubs Go!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for PROSE LOGO2.jpg

Seven Ate Nine


There is an old children’s joke that reminds me of this Cubs season. 

“Why is six afraid of seven?”
“Because seven eight nine.”

As soon as we hit seven games back I felt that it was too much to overcome and that loss ate up any chances we had of winning this thing in ’09.  Add to it the fact that the Rockies keep winning and the rest of the pack keeps losing and they are separating themselves even farther in this wild card race.

Both the Cubs and the Rockies are 5-5 over their last 10 games.  However, the way those wins and losses fell, we’ve lost ground on the Rockies and are now eight games back in the wild card standings.  I can’t believe publications and outlets like ESPN even include them on their NL Wild Card standings/contenders lists any longer.  I mean, again, it would take a miracle.  So why not list the realistic chances only.  Anyone who hasn’t been mathematically eliminated would require a miracle to make it in, so in that case if you list the Cubs, might as well list everyone.

Our line up was sorely missing Lee as his return to the lineup included a couple of home runs and a victory against the Mets.  Putting all of that pressure and urgency on Wells’ starts in September is just too much for a rookie to realistically come through with so it’s no great surprise that Wells is proving to be unable to carry his weight through September.  Zambrano’s been touch and go, Demp hasn’t done anything special and there’s been no run support for Lilly or Wells.  So in that case we have to keep hoping Wells, a rookie, figures out a way to win and it’s just been too much.

Another Cubs loss today and a Rockies win.  An unfortunate pattern as of late.  I think I had the Dodgers winning the West and the Giants taking the wild card before the season began so if not the Rockies or Cubs, I suppose for my own record, the Giants are welcome to win the WC. 

The way this season is ending will raise lots of questions in the off-season.  Another starter needed?  A closer?  A new manager?  Use some of these class, talented youngsters to get a big name to win now with guys like Soriano, Lee, Ramirez and Bradley playing and getting up there in years?  Trade any of those guys in a blockbuster trade and perhaps that will make a difference?  I don’t know.  But the off-season will provide a ton of questions, predictions, analysis and trade proposals.  Hendry will have his work cut out for him in figuring out the last few moves necessary to mold this roster into a World Champion team. 

Until then, we still have 27 games left.  Eight games out.  Has seven ate ’09?  Probably.  But if the math works in our favor, then history may as well.  And if that’s the case, the off-season business may be a lot different, the chemistry may be okay and the language we hear will be something entirely unexpected.  First of the 27: Lilly against the Pirates.  We’ll always have Pittsburgh is a popular saying here at Prose and Ivy.  Tomorrow, we’ll see if that’s still true and if so, whether it makes any difference or not in the standings.  Go Cubs Go!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for PROSE LOGO2.jpg

Is This too Matchy-Matchy?



We have no shot at making up ground in any race if we decide to match those above us win for win, loss for loss.  The Cubs just wrapped up a pathetic 5-0 shutout effort against the crosstown Chicago White Sox.  And the whole game was a horror to watch, aside from Dempster that is.

Another strong pitching outing by a Cubs starter thrown away by the team’s hitting and defense.  Like Lilly as of late, Dempster controlled the Sox for a majority of the game until a couple errors put the Sox up 3-0, all three runs unearned.  No run support for Demp and no quality defense either.  One error on Soriano was ridiculous.  He slipped running over to catch a fly ball.  We all know what was coming next…the hop.  Now is the hop the reason for the slip?  I don’t know.  The Heckler recently had a headline about the Cubs initiated a prayer section in left to help out Soriano’s defense.  Wouldn’t be a bad idea honestly.  Yesterday I applauded the decision to replace Soriano with Fuld as a defensive replacement and that should’ve happened today.  I believe Sori should only be playing through seven innings.  Give him his at bats to see what kind of damage he can do with the bat, then, late in the game, prevent him from doing damage with his glove in the field.  I like having him on the team, he’s a vital cog to the Cubs success.  Unfortunately lately he’s also a huge reason why we get the L’s that we do…whether it’s his slump, his hop or his glove…we can’t afford anything but perfection right now. Oh, and honestly, if this cortisone thing isn’t working out, pull him all together.  He may be in so much pain right now it’s effecting his play.  Anyone else notice how pathetic those three swings were when Sori struck out to end the game?  It’s like he wasn’t even trying and just wanted to get it over with.  If he’s not able to do the job, sit him.  The few games we have left are too valuable to take a chance on a guy who may or not be feeling good enough to do what it takes.  Especially when there are no signs that he is healthy enough to do so.  Think Lou, be smart when putting that lineup card together man.  If he can’t go, put in someone else.  (sigh)

The Rockies are currently down against the Mets in the seventh inning 6-2.  Chances are they will lose.  The Cardinals are losing 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth.  As we all know, with the Cards this year, anything is possible.  But if they lose, yet again we’ve successfully combined our outcome with the Rockies and Cards and matched them result for result.  Forget the division, no threepeat, I get it.  But the Wild Card is not impossible.  Not if we win and they lose.  Will they lose?  Yes.  SO…WE HAVE TO WIN.  A pathetic 5-5 showing in the homestand and now off to New York to take on the Mets.  The Mets, who could only potentially take one of three against the Rockies, not helping the Cubs at all.  The Mets, who could possibly find a way to turn it on against the Cubs this weekend and do some more black cat voo-doo by sweeping the series while the Rockies blow up, not guaranteed or likely, but it wouldn’t be surprising the way things are going.

And to the Sox!  Vomit.  I said yesterday, no one better to play spoiler against than your crosstown rival.  Unfortunately the Cubs ended up on the wrong side of the final score and the fans in black left Wrigley happy today.  With the Rockies losing we lose a chance to make up ground but at least if the Mets hold and close this thing out, we won’t lose any ground.  Just such a shame to see the scoreboard and see the Rockies losing and know that we blew a chance to make up valuable ground in the WC race.  Have to take advantage of these opportunities.  The match game won’t do us any good at all.

Heading to Citi tomorrow to watch Zambrano take on the Mets.  Let’s hope the bananas and fluids are on the menu this evening and the mechanics come out to shine.  Need Z to dominate tomorrow and for the first time this season, Go Arizona (they’ll be playing the Rockies).  Tick tock boys.  Let’s get some runs and make up some ground!  Go Cubs Go!
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for PROSE LOGO2.jpg

Teddy Must-win


When my brother was about seven years old or so, he got a toy called Teddy Ruxpin.  This robotic creature was a cross between a teddy bear and a boom box.  It had everything.  Cassette deck in the back to play the storylines, storytelling ability, soft exterior making it an attractive soft teddy bear best friend and a mechanical inside making the whole thing work.  Wasn’t a whole lot this little guy couldn’t do.  Was the go to toy that year and was easily the most popular kid’s entertainment around at the time.  Had a best friend named Grubby who was a fatter, sloppier version of Teddy Ruxpin, yet still had the same mechanical make up, great for entertainment, just not as sharp on the outside and not the number 1 guy in toy sales that year.

This year, Ted Lilly is the Cubs Teddy Ruxpin.  Sounds ridiculous I know.  But this guy is the man this year and there isn’t much he doesn’t offer.  Eight solid innings today giving up only four hits shut down the Astros and gave the Cubs a much needed series win.  Like I said yesterday after the night cap W, currently quoted on the MLB.com home page (at the time of posting anyway….September is the season for scoreboard watching.  And now after Lilly did his thing, we have to sit and wait. 

But Lilly was the man today.  Eight innings, base hit…trying to generate and manufacture runs by attempting to even steal second base.  Unsuccessfully of course, but still the fire and desire was there.  Aside from Lee’s going yard for 2 runs, today was all Lilly.  Can’t blame him.  All quality starts since the break and just one win to show for it.  The Cubs offense hasn’t shown up to support his brilliant pitching so of course he was out there trying to grind in the runs himself. Whatever he can do to get the W because the Cubs need them now more than ever.  Hardly any season left and it’s on every Cub to give it all the way Lilly did today.  Go a little further.  Push a little harder.  Do the extra things that help the team end up victorious at the end of the day. 

Lilly’s effort, heart and desire today is what we need day in and day out.  Clearly the wild card victory is Colorado’s to lose, but let’s keep winning and keep the pressure on them to win or else give up ground to us DAILY.  No time to waste.  Our lone all-star stepped up and set the standard that all other Cubs should look to live up to and surpass if possible.  Lee is finally healthy and he’s inching closer to a potential .300 30HR 100RBI season and it couldn’t come at a better time.  Bradley prides himself on the fact that the media was wrong to harp on ‘can he stay healthy’ considering he’s hardly missed all that many games.  Ok, great.  But you need to produce in these games Bradley.  Stay hot and produce.  Support great pitching performances like the one Lilly put in today.  And don’t stop putting the pressure on those above us.

Colorado has the Mets, hopefully the Mets can pull their JV team together and upset the Rockies tonight.  If so, we’ll pickup a full game in the standings.  Atlanta beat Florida last night.  Best thing that can happen tonight is for Florida to beat Atlanta.  Let them share the beating and games lost in the standings during their intra-wild card standing series this week.  If that were to happen and the Giants lose as well.  We could be looking at five teams within five games of each other with a month left to play.  Gotta love it.

Going to Friday night’s game at Citi Field against the Mets.  Zambrano will be starting for the Cubs.  He would be the Grubby to Ted Lilly’s Teddy Ruxpin.  When Lilly pitches, those games are absolutely must-wins.  Same with Wells and also Zambrano.  Lilly is the unofficial ace of the staff this year with his all-star status and Wells has high expectations to live up to with a stellar rookie campaign as he and Lilly share the team lead in wins at 10.  But Zambrano needs to step up and deliver the great story with the mechanical side of him and not continue to simply produce the sloppy, fiery, entertaining outside of Zambrano.  He is the official ace of this ballclub and we need to be able to count on him.  His games are must-wins as well, so come Friday, that’s exactly what he needs to come away with.

Tomorrow we get the White Sox and those games are always interesting.  If any one team is going to play spoiler to another, can’t think of any other team better to do so against than your crosstown rival.  Let’s hope the pitches keep finding their places and the bats stay hot.  First thing’s first though.  We did our part today in getting the win.  Now, once again, something we’ll be getting real used to over the course of September…time to sit back, stress out…and keep a real close eye on that scoreboard.  Thanks MLBlogs for showcasing Prose and Ivy on the MLB.com home page today.  I’m sure it helped attract a whole new batch of MLBlog readers, perhaps some Cubs fans, and hopefully some return readers over the course of the final month of the regular season.  Feel free to comment regarding anything Cubs/MLB related in the blogs or in the chat section to the right…and enjoy the rest of the season.  This one is getting REALLY interesting….Go Cubs Go!

(And just for fun, for those of you unfamiliar with Teddy Ruxpin and Grubby, take a look at this):

Thumbnail image for PROSE LOGO2.jpg

Bare Minimum


Ted Lilly.

That’s it.  One All-Star for the Cubs this year.  This of course does not include injury replacements and of course the fans will get to vote in the final reserve.  I supposed there’s a chance a Cub could end up being included in either.  But for today in the offical All-Star selections by fans, by players and by managers one Cub is included and that was Ted Lilly.
Every team gets at least one representative.  A pity all-star if you will.  If you don’t think that this year’s team is far inferior to that of last year, simply look at this year’s all-star roster versus last year.  I went to the All-Star game parade in New York last year and there were over half a dozen Cubs on the team.  Felt like after the all-time legends came by, every other car had a Cub in it.  This year, no one is dominant in a Cub jersey when compared to the rest of the National League.  Marquis is even an all-star this year.  I swear, if the NL’s potential home field advantage in the Series comes down to some all-star battle between someone on the American League team (looking at the lineups, probably a Yankee or Red Sox player) versus Jason Marquis, I will be incredibly bummed.  I can’t believe this.  The only thing worse would’ve been having DeRo on the All-Star team as an Indian or Cardinal.  
Almost at the break and we’re 3 games out.  We’ll get Rami, Reed and Guzzie back on Monday.  Hopefully that helps.  Last year’s playoff sweep of a loss to LA hurts even more so looking back at where we were last October and where we are today in July.  Last year’s team was MUCH better than this year’s and the expectations were rightfully high.  If this year’s team wins the Central again I’ll be surprised, let alone make any noise in the playoffs.  Maybe it’s simply the injury bug being a little thirstier this year around the Cubs dugout?  I don’t know.  But I see, baseball people see it and overall the fans see it.  This Cubs team is not as good as last year, nobody is performing where they were at last year and as a result I feel increasingly stronger that if we had a shot at winning it all, last year was the year.  This year’s team, there’s just something off.
Way to go baseball fans, not voting in Sori or Fukudome based on name and reputation alone.  Vote in the proper guys.  Congratulations to Ted Lilly.  Having a decent season and well deserves to represent the Cubs in the All-Star game a week and a half from now.
One Cub on the NL All-Star roster versus last year’s dominant population of Cubbies.  Pathetic.  But accurate and deservedly so.  The fans got it right in their lack of Cubbies this year.  Let’s hope the second half of the season is much different than the first for the rest of the roster and that Lilly keeps it up.
Are you happy with the NL and AL rosters?  Anyone get snubbed in your opinion?  Disagree with me with regards to the Cubs?  Agree?  Let me know.  Cubs/Brewers in a few minutes from now.  Lilly on the mound.  Can’t wait.
Go Cubs Go!
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for blogfooter2rectangle2.jpg

May I Have a Minute of Your Time?

Hey, hey there Cubs fans, it’s me your friendly neighborhood Gatorade dispenser.
Make that, your not so friendly Cubs dugout Gatorade dispenser.
Gone are the days when pitchers would beat up catchers to take out their frustrations.  I’ve never missed Barrett more than I have recently, that’s for sure.  A quick message to the Cubs: I am not the reason you are a hot mess right now.  Not one bit and I’d appreciate it if you would please STOP beating the crap out of me to make yourselves feel better.
Eight losses in a row and then two W’s.  Probably six more to follow to match the previous eight that’s how unpredictable and consistently inconsistent you guys have been.  And now Z get’s suspended six games…for bumping the umpire.
Um, excuse me…didn’t anyone happen to catch what he did to me?!?!  Hello?
And how about you Demp…how’s that pitching hand feel after punching the CRAP out of me, huh?  Feel better now?  Think busting up your hand on my lightning rod logo is going to help things?  Is that listed in your book o’ tricks “How to get out of a horrible rut”?  Don’t think so.
Maybe a little less time getting suspended and losing your crap and a little more time getting timely hits, knocking in some runs and striking some opposing batters out.  
I mean, I’m not one to throw folks under the bus, but how about we look around and suggest a few other potential punching bags in the dugout to take your frustrations out on?  How about Soto, maybe a backhand upside the head will knock some sense into his sophomore slump of a season.  How about a quick right to Lee…maybe be Hoffpauir even…take Lee’s spot and in receiving your first sign from Sweet Lou, your first action is smacking Lee upside his head to maybe rattle something inside that head of his in a place that makes hitting for power and average happen?
Speaking of Sweet Lou, how about since June is coming up, somebody rough up Lou a bit and shake out one of his famous quarter of the way through the season tantrums that always seems to light a fire under your behinds and get those W’s piling up?  We’ve seen it before and we win with a bench coach filling in for Lou’s managing….hard to win with our team relying on tantrums from Z, Lilly and potential injury causing moves by Dempster to try and light a fire.  C’mon Lou, you and I say hi at least a dozen times a game…slug down some ‘ade, cleanse that pallet and get out there and light a fire, man!
I love being in the Cubs dugout.  I dream of a day where I get poured out on someone in celebration of a Cubs World Series.  I’ve already been repaired once this season and this beating Z gave me was WAY over the top.  I want to be here for you guys, but I can’t continue like this.  I’m happy to do my part, but please go back to beating up each other and leave me out of it.  In fact, run around the bases so many times we’re destroying teams like the Cardinals and Brewers or please, stick to destroying each other to light that fire and then come see me for a cold beverage after you’ve both come to and the team is on a tear, ripping up the Central.
This team is better than this.  We couldn’t have been held together by Rami and DeRo last year, right?  It’s time you guys step it up and use that energy in a productive way.  Let’s start with the Dodgers.  And most importantly, please stop hitting me.  Hit the Dodgers, hit the Dodgers pitching, hit each other, hit the bars in Wrigleyville.  Whatever it takes.  But please, more W’s and less bats and fists to me.  I’m not the reason you’re losing.  Figure it out fast though because if I have to listen to the Brewers, Cardinals and Pirates dispensers gloat about how awful we are one more time…I’m going to grab one of those bats myself and there’s no telling what might happen then.
In tribute to the NBA playoffs…get the W’s this weekend and beat L.A.!  (And it’s hit parade.  Not hit gatorade, for crying out loud).  Go Cubs Go!
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for blogfooter2rectangle2.jpg

Listen tonight as I guest on the United Cardinals Bloggers Radio Hour


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!

Observations and Salutations


Three games into Spring Training and the Cubs are 3-0.  Sweet.  Hoffpauir has looked great at the plate in both power stats and patience.  I kind of feel bad for guys like Hoffpauir and Fox though because it seems like every Spring these guys deliver unbelievably consistent stats, yet we simply have no room for them on the 25 man roster.  It’s a shame too.  It must drive these guys crazy.  Hopefully one of them breaks through this year somehow, especially if their Spring is as impressive as Springs past.  Hoffpauir’s the DH today so he’ll have another chance to shine this afternoon.

What’s up Lilly!  I’m happy to hear that you have the Cubs’ best interests in mind when it comes to your pitch count in the WBC.  Everytime I hear that, it feels like a boxing championship someone is trying to win.  Anyway, I always enjoy hearing that organizations have prevented their key players from playing in this tournament.  I know it’s a great thing for the game and a fun exhibition of the world’s greatest sport.  However, when you’re investing millions in guys to come through when it counts during the regular season, it’s too scary of a possibility that the guy goes down to injury in an exhibition competition.  Big Z, Lilly, Harden, Dempster and Marshall.  Ok, fine.  But if we were to lose any of those top four it would make us extremely vulnerable and a much less powerhouse in the National League.  The Cubs are definitely the on-paper favorites to repeat in the Central but a huge part of that is pitching.  We can’t lose Lilly to something stupid so I’m glad he has the team’s best interests at heart.  Have a great time Lilly, but come back healthy for sure.

Speaking of staying healthy…what’s up with the quad Milt?  We definitely need that to be a precautionary measure in pulling himself from the game the other day.  Milton Bradley makes this team so much better, especially when you figure his power in the middle of the order allows for us to keep Soriano up top leading off and not constantly questioning if we should be using his power later on in the order.  Not sure that he’ll end up leading off yet having not seen much from Theriot or Miles as of yet this Spring…but more than likely that’s where Piniella will start him come Opening Day.

I know it’s been a little while since his signing and I’m not even sure he’ll make the roster, but I like the signing of Taguchi. From what I’ve seen of the guy he can be pretty clutch late in games when you need a big hit.  If he sticks, his bat may be a great option off the bat here and there throughout the season.  The Cubs are in a great situation with how deep they are, a great problem to have.  Tons of people to look at and consider this Spring.  I’d love to be a fly on the wall in Piniella’s office throughout S.T. and the regular season.  That would be fascinating.  The flying ability would be cool too.

Today the Cubs and the White Sox take their crosstown rivalry across the country to battle in exhibition.  Heilman will get the start for the Cubs.  Living in New York, I’ve seen quite a bit of Heilman over the years.  He’s a guy that would surprise me if he were to take the fifth starter spot in the rotation.  It’ll be interesting to see how he handles the couple innings he gets today, as well as how Rami looks at third.  Always good to get those cuts in, work out the kinks from the winter months.  It came up in the chat box I have set up here in the right hand column the other day as to who should back up Ramirez at third.  Any Cubs fans out there have a preference?  I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

The Cubs have outscored their opponents 22-11 so far this season.  11 runs given up in 27 innings.  Not too shabby, but could definitely be better.  22 runs in three games.   Looking good.  Good start to the Spring.

Here’s to a good ol’ fashion walloping of the Sox today.  Go Cubs Go!



standings 6 game magic number.png

Magic is fun….but magic is hard to believe in unless you see the magician actually pull off the trick. The Cubs magic number to clinch is down to six.  I’ll be a lot more excited about it when I see them complete the trick officially.
Today was a beautiful step in that direction, for sure.  Ted Lilly…talk about tough acts to follow.  A day after Zambrano pulls off the first Cubs no-no since 36 years prior (no wait, let me rephrase that, just in case, and let’s say since 36 years earlier), Lilly had to take the mound and try to match the level of success Z accomplished not even 24 hours before.  And by match success, I mean simply get the ‘W’.  He did…and then some.  Lilly came out firing on all cylinders and no-hit the Astros even further, for a combined 15 innings when coupled with Z’s performance!  It started to get to the point where I felt bad for the Astros.  It didn’t quite get to that point, but it was close.
I don’t know what’s going to happen and where the Cubs will be come the end of October, when there’s no more baseball to played in ’08, but there’s no doubt that this season has been full of special moments no matter what.  Fukudome’s start, Soto’s year, Dempster’s return to the starter role, Wood’s surge to All-Star form, Theriot’s all around great play, the incredible diversity and contribution of Derosa, the surprise addition of Edmonds, the up and down year of Soriano, Zambrano’s no-hitter and today’s performance by Ted Lilly.  Lots of great moments, definitely worth the price of admission both financially and emotionally up until now.  HUGE expectations exist though for the final trick of the season.  The anticipation certainly has been exciting…have to wonder if they’ll be able to pull it off…
Great game today, unbelievable lead in the Central all things considered and the magic number sits there at six.  Let’s hope Dempster continues to saw opponents half and doesn’t begin a Cubs disappearing act with tomorrow’s start against the Brewers.  The series are just going to get bigger and bigger from here on out.  GO CUBS GO!!!
Thumbnail image for blogfooter2rectangle2.jpg

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


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:


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!
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for blogfooter2rect

A New Feature on Prose and Ivy


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


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!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for blogfooter2rectangle.jpg

Sometimes You Don’t Have to Look Good…Just Not As Ugly As the Other Guy


And that was the case in the last game the Cubs played.  3 errors.  12 innings of professional, major league baseball, a level where no game should look like this.  The Cubs only went 1-2-3 twice in twelve innings and yet still needed three extra frames to put away the Pirates.  I must admit, I’m a little surprised how similar this was to the Cubs home opener against the Brewers after requesting that we ruin the Pirates’ home opener in the same fashion the Brewers ruined ours.  I mean, aside from Gagne looking like he was about to pass out it was basically the same game.  Thankfully, the Pirates had a guy named Meek on their team who had the worst day of all.  I was forced to watch the game today on GameCast.  Here was the situation in the top of the 12th, or at least how I saw it:

bases loaded in T12 Ramirez at plate.jpg1 out, Top of 12, bases loaded.  Ramirez steps up.  He hits a sac fly to right to score Theriot who had walked and stole second.  Watching a game like this is quite possibly the least exciting way I can think of to watch a game (I really missed my MLBTV access today as I wasn’t able to do so on the computer I was on today), but its better than nothing I guess.  After Ramirez’s sac fly, here’s what I saw (exciting huh?):
Ramirez sac fly to right to put Cubs ahead.jpgIn a weird way, I guess it was…I mean we took the lead right?  But honestly, somebody needs to tell ESPN what kind of season Fukudome’s had so far and GET THAT MAN A PHOTO!  I can understand Meek wanting to hide his face today…but c’mon.  Let’s get Kosuke a photo, huh?  After all said and done, the Cubs won ugly but it will count just as much as any other this season.  Here’s how the entire top of the 12th played out:
the 12th inning.jpg
Theriot didn’t even start and managed a stolen base (the Cubs had FOUR on the day!)  Then Soriano managed to find his way on base.  One hit in six at bats today but this walk was key and let’s face it…while we’d love to see Soriano get some power numbers like usual, we really just want him on base to set up the other guys and see what his legs can manage to steal.  That’s what counts.  Set the table for the other guys in the lead off spot.  Johnson had himself another great day and has turned out to be a great pickup.  Glad to see that even though the Cubs made way too many errors themselves (you can’t expect to win too many games where you make 3 errors) they were able to take advantage of the Pirates’ errors and miscues, including Meek’s wild pitches.  Looking at the averages of the guys in today’s lineup, it seems like people are starting to hit.  Lee had a decent day at the plate (2-for-5, 2 walks and a run scored) and of course Fukudome lit things up again.  Sometimes you just have to simply be better than the other guy, not necessarily impressive at all yourself.

I’m glad we were able to give Wood a break today.  Any chance we can get I think we should and it would be nice if Howry could get his you-know-what together.  Marmol was lights out though (as expected) and I never had a doubt about the Cubs pulling this out once he entered the game.  Hard to watch, easy to look back and enjoy.  Here’s to winning the ugly ones!  Don’t get too used to it Lilly.  They won’t always work out in your favor like this one did.  It wouldn’t hurt for you to start turning this thing around either.  Just fyi. 

4-3…three game winning streak…let’s keep it up!  Go Cubs Go!
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for blogfooter2rectangle.jpg

You Know What It Could Be?



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)
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for blogfooter2rectangle.jpg