Wednesday, June 22

Brewers Brat-ed by the 7th Inning Blues

Cubs vs Brewers -- June 21

The Cubs offense had a curious sense of timing last night, going hitless for 5 innings before erupting with a 4-run 7th Inning, a scoring burst that proved enough for a 4-2 win and fresh call-up Jerome "The Big Grill" Williams' (1-2) first win in a Cubs uniform.

After a Hollandsworth single with 1 out in the 1st inning, they looked subdued from then on, puttering through uneventful at-bats at the hands of Victor Santos' (2-7). Perhaps unlucky this season, the economical Santos induced groundout after groundout, looking in control, and then the errors began.

Operating in a rather symmetrical fashion, the lead-off man, Todd Hollandsworth, reached third base on an error by Geoff Jenkins in right field. Derrek Lee then slapped the first pitch over the left field wall to tie the score at 2. Almost immediately, the scenario repeated itself. Burnitz made it to base safely after a fielding gaffe at second base by Junior Spivey's ouster, Rickie Weeks. Again, with Ramirez at the plate, he crushed the first pitch faced into deep left center, falling only a few feet short of slamming the great Bratwurst water slide normally reserved for the home-team heroics.

The outburst negated an otherwise slow-but-steady performance by Santos and the Brewers, also cancelling out Bill Hall's two solo home runs in the game, his 9th and 10th of the season.

In response, Jerome Williams was in rare form, displaying the kind of command the Cubs envisioned when stealing him from the Giants in the Hawkins-for-Williams-and-Aardsma deal. With a firm grip on his sinker and changeup, Williams pitched seven strong innings, giving up 3 hits and walking four while striking out 6. Wellemeyer and Dempster pitched reasonably in relief, not allowing a hit in their 2 innings of work but walking 3 between them, and the game came to its unexpected end.

"It was an excellent debut for Jerome," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "Had it not been for Billy Hall, they wouldn't have gotten any runs. Billy had a great day over there, but Jerome made the pitches when he had to and he did an outstanding job. He kept the ball down and worked pretty quickly."

Williams was not the only run-saver on the team. Hairston Jr, filling in for the "resting" Patterson in center field, made a superb catch against the wall to rob Carlos Lee of extra bases.

There was a modicum of drama in the 6th when Williams' puka shell necklace, one given to him by his mother before she died, broke on the mound, but I guarantee it's already glued together and back around his neck where it belongs.

With 6 runs off 7 hits and 2 errors, there was little else to report.

The Cubs need to make a habit of this - stealing games when they appear beaten. In the space of 5 seemingly innocuous pitches the game had come full circle; the team once in control were now finished, the team once subdued were now alive.

Chances and reversing fortunes like this would have been very helpful at Yankee Stadium over the weekend.

Tonight's Pitchers
CHC: RHP Carlos Zambrano • 4-3, 3.56 ERA in 2005 • 1-1, 1.88 ERA vs. MIL in 2005
MIL: LHP Doug Davis • 8-6, 4.47 ERA in 2005 • 1-1, 1.77 ERA vs. CHC in 2004

According to reporter Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs are more than in the hunt for Oakland CF Mark Kotsay. Along with the Yankees and the Red Sox, the Cubs are looking for his superb defense and reasonable offense. It provides a small dilemma given Patterson's play at the position, although if the trade was made, the Cubs might well move Patterson to right and Burnitz to LF, a position he has played before. Kotsay can also play in right field, but regardless of how the 3 line up, it would definitely strengthen the starting lineup and the bench.

Kotsay is batting .276 on the season with 5 HRs, 37 RBIs and 36 runs. His OBP is around .336 this year, although it hovers around .345 for his 9-year Major League career. He's a lifetime .286 hitter, and as I've already mentioned, he is a superb defensive center fielder.

Rosenthal also mentions the wonder that is the Cubs' perfectly formed farm system. Our mix of prospects and rookies is considered one of the best in the game, deep in good pitching and promising hitters (Ronny Cedeno: batting .351 at AAA-Iowa this season), and compared to the Yankees, we have more than enough minor-league weapons to outdo them in trade competitiveness. It also helps that the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs are on the list of teams Kotsay could be contractually traded to without his permission.

So what do we think? Kotsay for 2 prospects? Good trade?


At 11:24 AM, Blogger Jason said...

I could get on board with that.

At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

You guys are trade crazy. Stop messing with our roster! If we ever get everyone healthy, we will be one of the best teams in baseball. I predict Holly will have a much better second half than first, and I also predict that our pitching staff will be lights out after we get Wood and Prior through the rotation twice. And if I'm wrong, I won't really care what you guys think, because the Cubs will be out of it and I'll be extremely depressed.

Trades are bad news in a lot of cases. I don't want to see Cubs making trades with teams who actually have a shot at anything. In fact, I'd be just as happy, right now at least, if the cubs don't make any trades. Our team is GOOD. We built this team around pitching, and even though two of our best starters have missed a ton of games, and Maddux is a notoriously slow starter, we have been playing over .500 ball. We've got a first baseman who seems to be having a career year, a third basemen who is finally hitting the way we all expect him to, and good defense around the diamond. The near future is bright for the Cubs. Let them play ball.

At 3:55 PM, Blogger JT said...

I hate to say it Lazlo, but I disagree. In his position, Hendry has to be going to work every day thinking about how he can improve his ballclub, and right now there are guys we could survive without.

If the opportunity is there to get a good player at little real cost (given the A's who want a couple of prospects and no weighty salaries whatsoever, most likely), the chance has to be taken.

The season, while still quite lengthy, can't be resolved to sitting around for Hollandsworth, a man batting .259/.333 OBP/.405 SLG over the last 4 years, to "come around".

Guys will come back from injuries, yes, but I think given Hollandsworth's age and his difficulty with facing the fastball (check out his scouting report... after his rough 2001 season where he suffered nerve damage in his legs, his speed is slower as are his reaction times marginally), he would be a better player if he platooned with a newcomer or as a guy who can provide strength in depth.

No disrespect to him or you intended, of course, but he is the example you mentioned in another comment, but the reasonable price of a couple of prospects from one of the best MLB farm systems out there would be a small price to pay for a valuable, everyday player who doesn't come with huge ego or any kind of karmic imbalance to provide to the team (I'm referring to Kotsay here), as that's what being a GM and an owner is about -- trying to help your team.

It doesn't mean we morph into the Yankees and pursue the headline-grabbing swap or drain our system top to bottom. It just means making one or two smart and understated moves when the chance presents itself. One has been made -- Hawkins for Williams and Aardsma -- and a guy like Kotsay could only help and not hurt.

Over the same time period as Holls, Kotsay has been a .292/.348/.465 hitter, posting averages over .300 in June, July and September.

I also should have mentioned that he is currently the Oakland lead-off man, a position we desperately need stability and effectiveness.

A guy like Kotsay would not only help the outfield strength, but could be that lead-off man we so desperately need.

At 3:58 PM, Blogger JT said...

Hollandsworth's numbers that I mentioned are his stats after the All-Star Break, just as point of reference.

He is actually a better hitter pre-All Star Break.... his 4 year numbers before the ASB are .290/.350 OBP/.490 SLG.

At 5:03 PM, Blogger Hyposquasher said...

I think it would be interesting to add certain players. I don't want to see a big-name-big-ego added to the team at this point. i also don't want to see most of our team leave. I have to agree with lazlo that it would be sad to give up Hollandsworth, he has streaks of brilliance that I usually interpret as an example of what he could be in the future. Maybe that isn't so, but I have to admit that it seems like the addition of a consistent player like Kotsay would help immensely. The key word JT used was "underrated" when describing a move we could make. I think that is a perfect way to describe any trades for the Cubs in the near future, meaning that it would be a move that most people would tend to ignore or not glance more than once at, but would help the team in the long run.

However, I also think that the Cubs are going to be a damn good ball club as they are when some of these players start getting healthy again, as Lazlo pointed out. So, all in all, I think I am somewhere in between the thoughts of JT and Lazlo.

Imagine the Cubs a month from now, with Garciaparra, Wood, and Prior healthy, Kotsay starting, and Hollandsworth and Neifi Perez solid bench contributors. Now that is a team not to be trifled with.

However, it all seems a bit moot, as I've just read that Kotsay wants to stay in Oakland.

At 12:17 AM, Anonymous Lazlo said...


If the Cubs' goal today was to make me sick, they succeeded. Zambrano, what are you doing to us?!! And Jo Bo gives up yet another home run... AHHHHHH!!!! I'm going to go bald because of these guys.

However, Rich Hill had a heck of a night. Pitched over 4 innings and no runs! His ERA dropped almost 16 points! And, he tallied a double and a run scored. Now, if he can do all that consistently, we'll find a position for him to play and then move him around so he can pitch when there are left handed batters and play outfield when there are righties. BLAAAGGHHHHHHHH...

At 12:29 AM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

Correction, Hill hit a single and advanced on an error.

Corey asked to be put into the lead off role prior to todays game. Baker is pretty happy about that, though he may have changed his mind after todays game. I think this could be good for the Cubs, provided that Patterson does what goes along with being a leadoff hitter:
Being more patient in the box.
Trying to bunt for hits.
Cutting down on his swing--trying to be a contact hitter, rather than trying to force a home run.

At 1:24 AM, Blogger Jim said...

If you think Correy is playing poorly now, wait till he's replaced.

I'm telling you, it's too early for a trade. The Cubs might benefit, but the teams that they can get people from know that they can draw things out to get as much from the Cubs as possible.

The Cubs are still within close striking distance of the wild card, and everyone knows it. The other GMs will push to get twice the value of whatever the Cubs offer. And the Cubs won't be willing to give away quality prospects until after the break.

At 3:00 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...


In the Lee vs. Lee competition, the Cubs Lee seems to be the better. After two at bats, D Lee is now tied with C Lee for RBIs, and D Lee has two home runs today. Take that C Lee. Just because you're first in the alphabet doesn't make you a better player.

At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

Lee is 3-3 with 3 Runs scored and 3 RBIs. I have a solution for any of our players having offensive struggles. They should have their names legally changed to Lee. Holly could become T Lee, Corey could be C Lee. Blanco could be H Lee, though it doesn't have quite the same ring to it. What do you think?


Post a Comment

<< Home