August 2009

8/29 Baseball Prospectus, then and now

On April 2, Baseball Prospectus projected the Cubs would win 95 games and three-peat in the Central Division. My, how things have changed. In a recent article sorting out the NL teams playoff picture, here’s what Baseball Prospectus had to say re: the Cubs:

“As for the Cubs, there’s no crying in baseball. Projected to be the league’s strongest team, with the corresponding easiest schedule, they’ve instead fallen flat due to a mix of injuries and ineffectiveness in their lineup, with heavy hitters like Milton Bradley, Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto failing to deliver the goods for one reason or another. The meat of their remaining schedule, such as it is, consists of a makeup game with the White Sox and a total of seven games at St. Louis and San Francisco. Meanwhile, they’ve got 20 games remaining against the Brewers, Astros, Reds and Pirates, against whom they’re already a combined 29-15. It’s probably too little, too late to save their season, but as Joaquin Andujar famously said, ‘Youneverknow.’

– Carrie Muskat

8/29 Lineup update – Ramirez starting

Aramis Ramirez was supposed to get Saturday off, but instead he will start at third. Jeff Baker was scratched after taking ball off his right little finger in BP. Here’s new lineup:

SS Theriot

RF Bradley

1B Lee

3B Ramirez

CF Fukudome

LF Fox

2B Fontenot

C Hill

P Dempster

– Carrie Muskat

8/29 Lineup update – Baker scratched

Jeff Baker was scratched from Saturday’s lineup after taking a ball off his right little finger during batting practice. Baker was taken to a local hospital for X-rays. He was to start at third base in place of Aramis Ramirez, whom Lou Piniella wanted to give a day off. Not sure how the Cubs will tweak the lineup, but one option is move Jake Fox from left to third and start Sam Fuld in left.

– Carrie Muskat

8/29 Ramirez update

Aramis Ramirez is already looking ahead to a busy offseason.

The Cubs third baseman has spent the last two winters stepping up his leg workouts, and the extra sessions have paid off. But now, Ramirez says he’ll have to add more shoulder exercises. He’ll do just about anything to avoid surgery.

“You never know how you’re going to come back [from surgery],” said Ramirez, who missed two months because of a dislocated left shoulder. “It’s more muscle than anything. I work on it every day.”

And this winter in the Dominican?

“I’m going to have to go for my shoulder, too,” he said. “It’s a lot more work now, less time to play with the kids. I’m going to have to put a lot of work in this offseason. I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ve never had surgery, thank God, and hopefully, I’ll finish my career without having it.”

He’s feeling better since having a cortisone shot on his shoulder but admits he will have to put up with pain the rest of this season.

“I won’t be [100 percent] this year,” Ramirez said. “Next year, I will be.”

The team is struggling, too, as it tries to reach the postseason. There’s still a chance, Ramirez said.

“You have to respect the fans, you have to respect your teammates, the front office, the manager, and show up to play every day,” he said. “We’re 6 1/2 back in the Wild Card, so we’re not done yet. You still have to show up and play and give your best.”

– Carrie Muskat

8/29 Soriano to get MRI

Alfonso Soriano and the Cubs decided not to wait, and the outfielder went to have an MRI on his left knee Saturday. Soriano has been bothered by the knee for the last four months, but it has become even more difficult for him to run in recent weeks.

“There’s no sense delaying it,” Piniella said. “We’ll have him do it today and once we get the results, then we know exactly what to do.”

Soriano said he wanted to have the test done for peace of mind.

“It’s something that needed to be done, so the quicker the better,” Piniella said. “He’s not moving well. Give him all the credit in the world — he goes out there and does the best he can.”

Soriano hit a game-winning three-run homer on Friday in the Cubs’ 5-2 win over the Mets.

– Carrie Muskat

 

8/29 Lineup

Alfonso Soriano is getting an MRI, and Aramis Ramirez was given the day off Saturday, so the lineup includes the “F Troop” of Fox, Fukudome and Fontenot.

SS Theriot

RF Bradley

1B Lee

LF Fox

CF Fukudome

2B Fontenot

3B Baker

C Hill

P Dempster

– Carrie Muskat

8/28 Morning person

Apparently, Milton Bradley is not a morning person. The Cubs outfielder said Friday that he’s had a tough time adjusting to day games at Wrigley Field.

“Strange as it may seem, people don’t understand, you play baseball your whole life and you’re on teams and play mostly night games,” Bradley said after Friday’s 5-2 win over the Mets. “You’re getting up at 2 in the afternoon to come to the field to do whatever you have to do. Here, you have to get up at 8 o’clock in the morning to get ready.

“It’s an adjustment for your body,” he said. “You may be ready for it and say, ‘Oh, I can handle it, I can do that.’ Your body is going to tell you something different. It’s an adjustment to get ready and revved up. This is the Major Leagues, it’s not Spring Training. This counts. It’s an adjustment to get ready to go every day. That’s the only thing I can attribute it, too. I’m doing everything else the same.”

What’s weird is that the stats would say he’s done better under the sun. He has a .232 night time average compared to .288 day, and Bradley was batting .304 at Wrigley compared to .208 on the road.

Since July 12, Bradley was batting .356 with four homers and 11 RBIs at Wrigley. Maybe in the second year of his three-year deal, Bradley will feel more comfortable at home during the day?

“Absolutely,” he said. “Hopefully, I have a terrible spring and come into the season and just go off. I used up all my good hits [this year] in Spring Training.”

– Carrie Muskat

8/28 Soriano to have MRI Monday

Alfonso Soriano, who hit a game-winning three-run homer Friday for the Cubs, will have an MRI on his left knee Monday. The knee bothers Soriano in the field, and it showed as he had trouble chasing balls in the Cubs’ 5-2 win over the Mets. When he homered off Brad Stokes, Soriano limped around the bases.

“The last three days, I’ve played and when I put weight on the knee it gets worse,” he said. “I want to see what I have with my knee because it’s not right.”

– Carrie Muskat

8/28 Be yourself

Koyie Hill was surprised to hear Milton Bradley mention his name and a comment the catcher had made to him because the exchange took place in Spring Training.

When asked Thursday if he had any regrets, Bradley said no. “I’m not going to stop being me,” Bradley said. “Koyie Hill told me if I ever change, he’d kick my [backside], and I ain’t trying to get a foot in my behind.”

Hill remembers the conversation.

“I told him to ‘be yourself’ and not to feel like you can’t get aggravated, or you can’t get mad,” Hill said Friday. “If you throw a helmet every now and then or punch a cooler every now and then — basically my point was ‘Don’t lose your fire just because people are watching. Don’t change your intensity because people are watching.’ That can happen. First time you throw a tantrum, they put it on the front page of the paper and you back off and you’re not the same guy. That’s what I didn’t want.”

The message apparently resonated with Bradley.

“He’s mentioned it to me before during the season,” Hill said. “I know he remembers that.”

– Carrie Muskat

8/28 Brett Jackson to DL

Outfielder Brett Jackson, the Cubs’ No. 1 pick in the June Draft, was placed on the disabled list Friday because of inflammation in his right wrist. Jackson was batting .308 in 24 games at Class A Peoria with six homers, 16 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. He was expected to be back in time for the Chiefs’ final regular season series Sept. 2-4, and for the playoffs.

– Carrie Muskat

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