Tagged: Joey Gathright

What Next?

The Cubs traded Joey Gathright to the Orioles for Ryan Freel, a player that was scratched from playing today because he has hamstring tightness.  Perfect.

Oh, by the way, the bullpen imploded again in a 12-6 loss to the Brewers.  Now Aaron Heilman can’t find the plate.  Chad Fox, whom they just called up, got hurt throwing a pitch in the eighth inning.  Derrek Lee is going to have tests done on his neck tomorrow.  He didn’t play, again.  Ramirez will be out at least six weeks.  Geovany Soto looks disinterested.  I’m afraid to watch tomorrow’s game to see what’s going to happen next.
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Just when things are starting to look up…

The Cubs were in action today looking to keep their perfect May going.  Things are starting to look better.  Players are getting back into the fold after injuries.  Bats are heating up.  Power is coming from unlikely places.  The bullpen is actually holding onto late inning leads.  They were actually looking to win a four game series against a first place team.

Along with being a Cubs fans comes a sense of cautious optimism.  You never really want to get too high, because you know the other shoe will most certainly fall.  Being a Cubs fan is an emotional roller coaster.  Today was a perfect example of this.
Today began on a high note with the retiring of number 31 in honor of Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux.  
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Tribune photo
by Scott Strazzante / May 3, 2009 

Congratulations to both Fergie and Mad Dog.  This honor couldn’t happen to two classier men.  What a great day it turned out to be for such an event!  Maddux’s flag is on the right field foul pole and Fergie’s is on the left field foul pole.

Fast forward to the fifth inning with the Cubs and Marlins tied at two.  Zambrano leads off and lays down a bunt.  He caught the defense off guard and he legged out a hit.  What a great weapon Zambrano is!  The crowd is going crazy.  

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Scott
Strazzante, Chicago Tribune / May 3, 2009 
 

But wait.  Is that Zambrano limping?  Is that the trainer coming out of the Cubs dugout to go talk to the ace pitcher? 

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Scott Strazzante,
Chicago Tribune / May 3, 2009

Apparantly, Zambrano strained a hamstring.  Initially, Zambrano wanted to remain in the game.  I think Piniella wanted to pull him out and err on the side of caution.  When Piniella went back in the dugout, Big Z signaled that he needed to come out.  Oh, boy.  See, the Cubs are finally getting their walking wounded back, bats are heating up, Zambrano legs out a bunt hit, and what happens?  We can’t get too high because our ace pitcher is probably headed to the DL.  See how it works?  And who did Lou have pinch run for Big Z?  Let’s see, who’s on the bench?  Joey Gathright.  Nah, too speedy.  How about Rich Harden?  Exactly.  Lou put in Rich Harden to pinch run.  Harden, a pitcher who the Cubs should thank their lucky stars isn’t already on the DL this year.  Let’s risk him getting hurt on the base baths.  Lose two starters in the same inning to base running injuries.  Yeah, our bench isn’t weak, right?  The inning continued with the Cubs loading the bases for Derrek Lee.

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Scott
Strazzante, Chicago Tribune / May 3, 2009 

Derrek’s starting to heat up!  Lee smoked a grand slam to deep center giving the Cubs a 6-2 lead.  All was right with the world!

Until Carlos Marmol came in with the score 6-3 to drop the proverbial other shoe.  First batter he faces launches a homer to make it 6-4.  Then he walks the next batter.  Something isn’t right with Marmol.  Hopefully it’s only rust he needs to work out.  Well, he righted the ship and got out of the eighth inning.  

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Scott
Strazzante, Chicago Tribune / May 3, 2009 
 

Gregg pitched the ninth to preserve a 6-4 Cubs win.  So many ups and downs.  One thing for sure, the Cubs are starting to play better.  They’re starting to hit.  The bullpen looked better in the last three games against Florida.  We’re ready for the Giants!

Photo credits:

Did the Cubs make the April grade?

April has come to an end.  Twenty-one games are in the books.  Being a teacher, I’m used to grading my students’ performance.  I’m going to take this opportunity to grade the Cubs players’ April performance.

Outfielders
Alfonso Soriano, B
        He’s personally won at least two games this year.  His batting average has started to
        dip.  I’s now .284.
Reed Johnson, C+
        Outfield play has saved Cubs on a number of occasions.  Great attitude and seems to
        be a great team guy.  He is hitting only .216, though.
Kosuke Fukudome, A
        Solid start to season with his .338 average.  He leads team with 15 RBI.  We’ve seen
        this before, however.  Can he extent the hot hitting after the All-Star Break?
Milton Bradley, F
        Should be an incomplete, as he hasn’t played much.  His attitude and distractions
        earn him an F.
Joey Gathright, INCOMPLETE
        One hit in nine at bats.  The jury is still out.
Micah Hoffpauir, B-
        .303, two homers, nine RBIs.  Sloppy defense at times.
Infielders
Derrek Lee, C-
         Good defense.  Some timely hits, but still hitting only .189.  Time to move down in the 
         order.
Aramis Ramirez, B+
         When he’s in there, he’s the Cubs most dangerous hitter.  .358 with 14 RBIs.  Has
         battled injury issues thus far.  The Cubs CANNOT afford to lose him for any extended
         length of time.
Ryan Theriot, B+
         Hitting .317.  Plays hard and is dependable.  Base running gaffes are a weakness.
Mike Fontenot, B-
         Hitting only .232, but has four homers and ten RBIs.  A good team guy.  His defense is
         better this year.
Aaron Miles, C+
         Cubs are getting what they should have expected from this light hitting infielder.
Catchers
Geovany Soto, F
         This saddens me.  Slow start, hitting .109 with only five hits on the season.  Is he
         still hurt?  Can’t throw out any base stealers.  A Cubs Rookie of the Year off to a slow              
         start the following year.  Anyone remember Jerome Walton?
Koyie Hill, B
         A solid backup.
Starters
Carlos Zambrano, C+
         Can be inconsistent.  Still will let his emotions take over at times.  4.64 ERA.
         36 hits allowed in 33 innings along with 13 walks.
Ryan Dempster, C
         29 hits allowed in 30 innings along with 14 walks.  5.40 ERA.
Ted Lilly, C+
         2-2 with a 3.80 ERA.
Rich Harden, B
         If you take out the awful game I saw him pitch against Colorado, he’s probably been the 
         best of this bunch so far.  2-1, 3.86 ERA.
Sean Marshall, B-
         3.32 ERA is best among the starters.  He keeps the Cubs in the game.
Bullpen
Aaron Heilman, C+
         I was actually ready to give him an A- before todays game because of his 0.82 ERA.
         I’m so mad after tonight, I’ve downgraded him.
Angel Guzman, C-
         His 3.97 ERA now actually looks good in this bullpen.  Sad.
Kevin Gregg, F
         11 hits in 9.2 innings pitched and a 5.59 ERA is not going to get it done as a closer.
Davis Patton, F
         Threw a home run derby pitch to Pujols with the bases loaded.  Has a 9.35 ERA.
Carlos Marmol, C+
          Mr. Reliable started out strong.  Even he has struggled of late, even before his injury.
          6.00 ERA.
Neal Cotts, F
         Only because there isn’t a grade lower than F.
Jeff Samardzija, F
        You see Jeff Samardzija, I see Kyle Farnsworth.  6.75 ERA.
The Overall Grade = C
The Cubs finish April at 10-11.  They are a very average team right now with a lousy bullpen.  
They’ve scored 97 runs and given up 104.  They are 4-5 at home and 6-6 on the road.  The Cubs face a challenge right now.  They trail St. Louis by five games right now.  St. Louis has three more games against the woeful Washington Nationals this weekend.  The Cubs have three more games against the first place Marlins.  The Cubs don’t want to start digging themselves too deep of a hole.  There’s an old baseball adage that says while you can’t win a pennant in April, you can lose a pennant in April.  Thank God it’s May.
         

It’s Only April, Right?

The second game of the Cardinals/Cubs weekend series began with Lou Piniella’s modified lineup being sent out there.  The new lineup was as follows:

Theriot, SS
Fukudome, RF
Soriano, LF
Lee, 1B
Fontenot, 3B
Johnson, CF
Soto, C
Miles, 2B
Marshall, P
Going into this game we found out that the injuries of Carlos Marmol and Aramis Ramirez are thankfully not catastrophic.  Both are said to miss only a few days.  Ramirez may be out about a week.  The Cubs went into the game shorthanded.  Alfonso Soriano actually was the backup second basemen and catcher Koyie Hill was the back up third basemen.  Why are the Cubs this shorthanded?  In addition to Marmol and Ramirez, Milton Bradley is still out.  Why don’t they just put him on the DL already so they can call someone else up?  If Ramirez will be out a week, why not just put him on the DL, too.  Is this going to be the theme of the Cubs season, never putting anyone on the DL so their bench can be thin for a week or more at a time?  
The game began as a strong pitcher’s duel between Sean Marshall and Mitchell Boggs.  Marshall really had his breaking ball working today.  The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the 4th when St. Louis struck for three runs.  The big inning was set up by Soriano misplaying a Khalil Greene hit that went for an RBI double.  The Brian Barden promptly delivered a two run single.  The Cubs answered in the top of the fifth with a two out rally.  Sean Marshall reached on an error.  Theriot later singled him home to make it 3-1.  The Cubs then had runners on second and third in the fifth.  Soriano came up and completely demonstrated why he should not hit anywhere except lead off.  Boggs threw him three pitches low and outside, one actually bounced in the dirt, and Soriano swung at all three.  Eric Karros, who was the color commentator for Fox echoed what I’ve been saying all along.  Soriano is best suited hitting leadoff.  He will not get the same pitches hitting third, fourth, or fifth in the lineup.  Karros also said the obvious, that Soriano is too undisciplined a hitter to hit in the middle of a lineup.  I agree.  Plus, he doesn’t seem to have the mindset to hit anywhere else but leadoff.  Soriano is now 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position this year.  
What is with the Cardinals defense?  The lead the majors in errors thus far.  They’re just lucky they are scoring enough runs to overcome the sloppy play.  We can only hope that the Cardinals bats eventually cool off and the shoddy defense ends up costing them games.
In the top of the seventh, Joey Gathright came in to pinch hit for Sean Marshall.  Gathright reached on an infield hit.  Theriot was up next.  Threiot is hitting well now and he’s a good contact hitter.  With Gathright’s speed, why not hit and run?  Well, nothing seemed to be in motion.  With the count 3-2 on Theriot, Gathright was picked off.  Gathright has not been playing much.  That may continue.  In the bottom of the seventh, with the score still 3-1  David Patton came in to relieve Marshall and promptly walked the bases loaded.  Who was up next?  Yep, Albert Pujols.  I told my wife, “Well, it’s about to be 7-1”.  David Patton then proceeds to throw a batting practice cookie to Pujols that he crushed over the Gateway Arch. You could see Geovany Soto throw his arms up in disgust as soon as Pujols hit it.  I’m sure Soto did not call for a home run derby pitch to Pujols with the bases loaded.  Unbelievable. Game, set, and match.  One milestone did happen.  Neal Cotts was brought in with two outs in the eighth and got Colby Rasmus to fly out to center.  Woo hoo!  He actually retired a major league batter!  There was much rejoicing in my household.
So the Cubs now trail the Cardinals by 4 games.  The head to head record is now Cardinals 3, Cubs 2.  It’s only April, right?
In other news, Kobe finally took matters into his own hands, scoring 38 the rout the Jazz.  The Blackhawks have gone up 3-2 on the Flames.  The Bears still do not have a legitimate wide receiver.  Let’s see what they do tomorrow.  Tomorrow morning is my wife’s 5K.  Tomorrow afternoon it’s Rich Harden vs. Todd Wellemeyer.  I’ll be flipping back and forth between that game and the race at Talledega.  Should be an exciting Sunday.