Tagged: Ryan Theriot

Precision Scales

Bobby Scales is making Cub fans forget about Aramis Raimirez, for now.  Scales hit a pair of two run doubles to top off his best day in the majors in leading the Cubs to an 11-3 win over the Padres.  Bobby is now tipping the scale at .444.  Pun intended.

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Phil
Velasquez, Chicago Tribune / May 14, 2009 
    


Not bad for a 31 year old rookie who spent 11 long years paying dues in the minor leagues.  Am I wrong, or do I hear Disney calling?

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It’s funny how things work in baseball.  At the beginning of the season, I was not really aware of Bobby Scales or Randy Wells (tomorrow’s starter), but they may end up playing a big role for the Cubbies this year.  You never know where your next hero is going to come from.

The Cubs completed a much needed three game sweep of the struggling San Diego Padres.

Hey, it doesn’t make up for 1984, but any time the Cubs can beat the Padres, I feel a little bit better.  Like, maybe Leon Durham really did field that ground ball.

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A little revenge for 1984 and all those “Cub-Busters” T-Shirts!

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Remember these?

The Cubs are on a roll right now.  They’ve won 4 in a row and find themselves knocking on the door to first place.  Not even a little thunderstorm on Wednesday night could trip them up.

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Scott
Strazzante, Chicago Tribune / May 13, 2009 
 

This weekend should be good for the Cubs because they play the lowly Astros at Wrigley, while the Brewers and the Cardinals are set to slug it out.  St. Louis has a lot of injuries right now, so look for both the Brewers and the Cubs to pass the Cardinals after this weekend.  The NL Central is shaping up as one of the more competitive divisions in baseball.  

When will my father start trash talking about Ryan Theriot and his “sudden” home run binge.  In the wake of the whole Manny Ramirez thing, I’m sure he will give me some grief about it.  So, he only hit seven home runs in his career before this season.  The Riot hit two more homers Wednesday night giving him five so far in 2009.  Well, dad, I’m sure he is legit.

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Scott
Strazzante, Chicago Tribune / May 13, 2009


Photo Credits:


Roster Move

On Wednesday, Jeff Samardzija was sent down to Iowa and right handed reliever Chad Fox was called up to the majors.  From what I’ve read, the Cubs intend to start Samardzija for Iowa on Saturday.  Why did they bring him up to put him in the bullpen?  Piniella said today that they have a young bullpen and they could use a veteran reliever in the pen.  Fox is a 38 year old journeyman.  From all accounts, Fox pitched well during the spring.  So, why didn’t they just call up Fox instead of Samardzija in the first place?  Samardzija needs time in the minors.  He has one pitch, a fastball, and major leaguers clearly have have caught up with it.  On Tuesday, Aaron Rowand was in an 0 for twenty something slump and the cure for that turned out to be Jeff Samardzija.  He’s not fooling anyone right now.  I realize they have a huge stake in Samardzija, they did pay him some huge signing bonus with a ton of guaranteed money.  For now, the Cubs should stick to developing Samardzija as a starter.  I believe that is where he will have the most value to the team.

While watching tonight’s game at a local sports bar/eatery in our area, my wife and I couldn’t help notice how aggressive Ryan Theriot is becoming at the plate.  Does he now think he’s a home run hitter?  In the second inning he opened the at bat with two consecutive home run hacks.  Sure, I was happy to see the recent power surge out of Theriot, mainly because it helped the Cubs win some games.  Ryan, you’re my favorite player, but you’re not Aramis Ramirez all of a sudden!  Keep doing what you do best, working the count, drawing walks, timely base hits, etc.  Derrek Lee is the player I’d like to see more aggressive at the plate.
It was good to see the Cubs give Rich Harden some immediate run support.  The Cubs’ four run outburst in the first inning against the Astros was highlighted by a three run triple by Reed Johnson.  Harden, in turn, reciprocated by tossing what was probably his best outing of the year.  Cubs win 6-3.
Ted Lilly goes for win number four in game two against Houston.
I need to take this time to rant about my Lakers.  Tonight, the Lakers beat the Rockets 111-98 to tie the series at a game apiece.  They absolutely needed to lose that game one the other night.  The Lakers have not played a four quarter game in about a month.  Sure, they’ve been winning their games, but when you consistently build 15 to 20 point leads in the second half over opponents only to let them get back to within four or five late in the fourth, something is wrong.  They’re unfocused.  They’re not making free throws.  We’ve seen glimpses of the Incredible Shrinking Gasol.  They’re committing stupid fouls putting the opponent in the penalty with like 8 minutes left in a quarter.  Something has to give.  Getting embarrassed Monday at home was probably the best thing for the Lakers.  A crack over the head to wake them up.  They cannot take the Rockets lightly.  They’ll probably pull out this series, but honestly, right now Denver’s going to beat them in the next round.  The Lakers are at a crossroads.  One of two things can happen.  Either they will play like the champions they think they are or their erratic play will catch up to them.

Four in a Row!

On Friday, I’ll be making the trek over the Cheddar Curtain with my cheesehead friend Packer Pete to see the Cubbies demolish the Brew Crew.  Packer Pete said he’s bringing the Brewers goat, but that won’t have any adverse affect on the Cubs.  The Cubs are cursed because of a goat they wouldn’t let in to Wrigley, not some stupid stuffed animal wearing a Brewers jersey.  I’m confident of a Cubs sweep this weekend, even if they will be pitching a rookie on Friday night.  The Cubs will make Swiss cheese out of the Brewers.

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There’s something not right about wearing this on your head. 

The Cubs are likely to pitch Randy Wells from Triple A Iowa on Friday because they’ve placed Carlos Zambrano on the 15 Day DL.  Big Z strained a hamstring yesterday.  Until Friday, the Cubs have called up third baseman Bobby Scales from Iowa.  Scales, who has been in the minors for 11 years will finally get a chance to play in the big leagues.
How about Ryan Theriot?  Another home run!  Theriot has hit 3 home runs in the last four games.  He now has tied Lee and Fukudome for the team lead in RBIs with 15.  Way to go, Ryan!  By the way, the Cubs have now won four in a row after the 4-2 win over the Giants!
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Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
Photo Credits:

Power Surge & Honoring Number 31

He did it again!  In the bottom of the first today against the Marlins, Ryan Theriot launched a two run homer.  It was Theriot’s second homer in as many days.  Where did this come from?!

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                                   Paul Beaty,
Associated Press / May 2, 2009  

It’s great to see the power from Theriot, an unlikely source.

Derrek Lee also launched a monster home run onto Waveland Avenue.  The bats are starting to heat up!

Ted Lilly pitched one heck of a ball game today, going eight innings and only allowing a solo home run.

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     Paul Beaty,
Associated Press / May 2, 2009  

Tomorrow, the Cubs will honor Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux by retiring the number 31 each of them wore.  They are both deserving of the honor.  As I said before, I do wish that the Cubs would have retired Jenkins number before Maddux came up so that each of these pitchers could have had their own special day.  I won’t let that detract from what will be a very special day in Cubs history.  


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     Tribune photo
by Ed Wagner / February 16, 2004  


I have some fond memories of Fergie Jenkins.  I actually got his autograph twice.  The first time was at my first Cubs game on July 1st, 1982.  My father took a couple of my friends and I to the game and we got Fergie’s autograph on a scorecard before the game.  This was when stadiums were more lax about fans going down near the field.  Nowadays they’d probably tell you to sit down.  I’ve framed that scorecard not only for Fergie Jenkins and Jay Johnstone’s autographs that are on it, but also for it being my first ever Cubs game.  The second time I got Fergie’s autograph was when my family went down to Wrigleyville before the first night game in 1988.  We went to get a “First Night Game” t-shirt and who did we see walking into the same souvenir shop across from Wrigley?  Feguson Jenkins.  My father was actually the one that recognized him first.  After he signed an autograph for us, the clerks in the store asked who that was.  My father told them Fergie Jenkins.  Of course, we had to hear about the fact that Cub fans don’t even know who their players are and that they don’t know anything about baseball.  Blah, blah, blah.  Cardinal fan.    Fergie Jenkins is a great guy so I’d like to congratulate him on the honor, as well as congratulate Greg Maddux.   

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                             Tribune
archive photo / September 8, 2008  

If you go to http://www.chicagotribune.com, you can read Dave Van Dyck’s interesting article entitled “31 Things About Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux.”  It’s a good read.

Congratulations to Kyle Busch on winning the race at Richmond on his 24th birthday no less.  Happy birthday!

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                                         AP


I also have to congratulate the Blackhawks who came back to defeat Vancouver in Game 2 of their second round series.  Do I dare start thinking they have a chance here?

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Darryl Dyck,
Associated Press / May 2, 2009  


Photo credits:


A Riot at Wrigley

This was a game the Cubs needed to win.  Having already lost the opening game of a four game series with the first place Marlins due to their imploding bullpen, the Cubs found themselves five games behind the Cardinals.  This weekend, the Cardinals are padding their stats against the Nationals.  So when the Cubs fell behind 5-1 to the Marlins Friday, the prospect of digging a huge hole in the division for them loomed large.  

Rich Harden struggled.  He didn’t make it out of the fourth.  Harden’s low point was hitting a batter with the bases loaded to force in a run with two out in the fourth to make it 5-1.  Harden’s ERA has blown up to 5.11.  Not a good way to start May.  The Cubs added a run in the bottom of the fourth to make the score 5-2.  It stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth.
With the bases loaded and two out, Ryan Theriot stepped to the plate.  The Riot promptly launched his first career grand slam to put the Cubs ahead 6-5.  It was great to hear Ron Santo going nuts on the radio.  For those of you who have never heard Ron Santo on WGN radio, you’re missing something.  Santo is a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve and he lets it all out, good and bad.
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                            Phil
Velasquez/Chicago Tribune / May 1, 2009 
Yesterday was a great example why Ryan Theriot is my favorite Cub.  He always comes to play.  He’s dependable.  Sure, he may lack some baseball smarts on the base paths at times and he doesn’t have all the God given gifts other players have, but whatever he lacks he makes up with heart.

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Phil
Velasquez/Chicago Tribune / May 1, 2009


Some Game Notes

The bullpen struggled with control again.  Marmol walked the first two hitter he faced.  He did pitch out of it in the eighth.  Kevin Gregg made it more interesting than it needed to be in the ninth, but he held on to the Cubs’ 8-6 win.

Everyone knows I criticize Neal Cotts a lot on this blog.  Today I have to give Cotts his props.  After the Cubs took the 6-5 lead, Neal Cotts was warming up in the pen. “Please, no!”  I said to my self.  Well, I actually used more colorful language than that, but you get the idea.  Cotts came into the game in the top of the seventh and promptly did what he seems to do best, the four pitch walk to the first hitter he faced.  On the radio, Ron groaned.  The Cubs quickly got Marmol warming up, but would he be any better?  They finally got some offense going and got the lead on my favorite player’s grand slam and now they were going to blow it!  Cotts then retired the next three batters, including two on strikeouts.  I almost drove off the road.  I have to say something I never thought I would.  Good job, Neal!

Some Cubs who had been previously struggling at the plate showed some signs of snapping out of their funks.  Derrek Lee, Geovany Soto, and Reed Johnson each had three hits apiece.  Keep it up.

Aramis Ramirez came in to pinch hit, so hopefully we’ll see him in the lineup today.

Today, it will be Ted Lilly vs. Anibal Sanchez in a 12:05 start at Wrigley.

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.