April 2010

4/24 Check out the Byrd's Nest

Marlon Byrd posted an update in his blog, the Byrd’s Nest, and he explains his success hitting with runners on and two outs. Byrd added to his RBI totals Saturday night with a two-out RBI single in the third. Of his total 14 RBIs, 12 have come with two outs. Pretty clutch. Plus, have you noticed how he always runs hard around the bases? That’s his style.


— Carrie Muskat

4/24 Leadoff man & Ramirez

Marlon Byrd was the Cubs’ leadoff man on Monday in New York against a lefty but that has been the only time. Lou Piniella is still tinkering with lineup vs. southpaw pitchers. On Saturday, Ryan Theriot was back in the No. 1 spot.

“I put Theriot in the eighth spot one time and rested him the second day and he’s responded and is swinging the bat well,” Piniella said. “Right now, we have Theriot leading off and Byrd in the two hole. I don’t think it’s over with but I’m comfortable with this lineup tonight.”

Let’s just say it’s a work in progress.

“I’ve always told you guys I like to stay constant,” Piniella said. “Sometimes you have to tinker with it and sometimes we’ll give people days off and then you really have to play with it. I’d prefer to have the same leadoff hitter.”

Aramis Ramirez was back at third but dropped to fifth against Milwaukee’s Doug Davis.

“We need for him to hit,” Piniella said of the third baseman, who is batting .127, and did not start two straight games to work with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. “He’s always been an integral part of the offense before I got here and during my years here and he’s also a really good RBI guy. We need Aramis to hit, there’s no question.”

— Carrie Muskat

4/24 Lineup & roster move

The Cubs did option right-hander Jeff Samardzija to Triple-A Iowa to make room on the 25-man roster for Ted Lilly, who was activated from the disabled list. Also, Aramis Ramirez is back in the Cubs’ lineup for Saturday’s game against the Brewers.

SS Theriot

CF Byrd

1B Lee

RF Nady

3B Ramirez

LF Soriano

2B Baker

C Soto

P Lilly

— Carrie Muskat

4/24 Roster move preview

The Cubs have to make a roster move prior to Saturday’s game to make room for Ted Lilly, who will be activated from the disabled list. With Carlos Zambrano going to the bullpen, the obvious move is sending a right-hander to Triple-A. Jeff Samardzija has an 18.90 ERA in four games, having given up seven earned runs on five hits and six walks over 3 1/3 innings. He is the most likely candidate. Whether Samardzija would start or be used only in relief at Iowa is not known. Among the other right-handers, Jeff Gray has given up three earned runs on six hits and two walks over five innings (5.40 ERA) and Justin Berg has given up four earned runs on six hits and three walks over seven innings (5.14 ERA).

— Carrie Muskat

4/24 Minor matters

J.R. Mathes threw eight shutout innings to help Iowa beat Memphis, 6-0, on Friday. Darwin Barney had two hits, both doubles, and two RBIs.

Starlin Castro extended his hitting streak to 10 games, going 3-for-4, in Tennessee’s 16-7 win over Carolina. Castro is batting .426 so far and .489 during his hitting streak. Craig Muschko struck out six over six innings for the win. Ty Wright had three hits, including two homers, and seven RBIs. Robinson Chirinos also homered and Brandon Guyer extended his hitting streak to five games. The Smokies are 13-2.

Michael Brenly reached base three times, getting two hits and a walk, in Daytona’s 11-3 loss to Tampa. Brooks Raley took the loss, giving up 11 runs (eight earned) on 12 hits over 2 2/3 innings.

Robert Whitenack gave up four runs on six hits over four innings in Peoria’s 5-1 loss to Quad Cities. Hak-Ju Lee has hit in eight of his last nine games and Greg Rohan has a nine-game hitting streak.

— Carrie Muskat

4/24 Race to Wrigley

RACE.JPGMore than 8,300 runners packed under the Wrigley Field marquee on the corner of Clark and Addison streets as part of the 5th Annual Race to Wrigley Saturday. The record number of runners helped raise more than $150,000 to benefit Chicago Cubs Charities and Children’s Memorial Hospital. Ernie Banks served as the official race starter.

The course route began under the marquee and led runners through the Lakeview neighborhood and inside the ballpark’s concourse before finishing at the corner of Clark and Addison. Lars Juhl won in 15 minutes 25 seconds, while Christine Anderson claimed the top female time at 18:17.

(photo courtesy of Edward Thomas, Fanfoto)

— Carrie Muskat

4/24 Numbers game

Here’s something to think about: MLBTradeRumors compiled the biggest contracts based on average annual value. The Cubs’ new set-up man is No. 10:

1. Alex Rodriguez: $27.5 million (2008-17)
2. Alex Rodriguez: $25.2 million (2001-07)
3. Joe Mauer (2011-18) and CC Sabathia (2009-15): $23 million
4. Johan Santana: $22.92 million (2008-13)
5. Manny Ramirez (2009-10) and Mark Teixeira (2009-16): $22.5 million
6. Roger Clemens: $22 million (2006)
7. Manny Ramirez (2001-08) and Roy Halladay (2011-13): $20 million
8. Miguel Cabrera: $19.04 million (2008-15)
9. Derek Jeter: $18.9 million (2001-10)
10. Carlos Zambrano: $18.3 million (2008-12)

In case you were wondering, here are the largest contracts by position:

Catcher: Joe Mauer: eight years, $184 million
(Note: the next largest among catchers is Jorge Posada’s four-year, $52.4 million deal)

First base: Mark Teixeira: eight years, $180 million

Second base: Chase Utley: seven years, $85 million

Shortstop: Alex Rodriguez: 10 years, $252 million

Third base: Alex Rodriguez: 10 years, $275 million

Outfield: Alfonso Soriano: eight years, $136 million; Vernon Wells: seven years, $126 million; Matt Holliday, seven years, $120 million.

Starting pitcher:
CC Sabathia: seven years, $161 million
Johan Santana: six years, $137.5 million
Barry Zito: seven years, $126 million
Mike Hampton: eight years, $121 million
Kevin Brown: seven years, $105 million

Relief pitcher:
Joe Nathan: four years, $47 million
Mariano Rivera: three years, $45 million

— Carrie Muskat

4/24 Dempster vs. Brewers

Ryan Dempster definitely gives the Brewers trouble. He’s now 13-3 in his career against Milwaukee after Friday’s win. He also beat them April 12 at Wrigley.

“Normally, he’s got a real good slider against our right-handed hitters,” Milwaukee manager Ken Macha said of Dempster after Friday’s game. “He’s got a real good split-finger [fastball] too, and tonight some of the left-handed hitters were saying they had a difficult time picking up the rotation on that.

“It’s just my feeling that we’re getting closer to breaking through on this thing, OK?” Macha said. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but we scored some runs off him down in Chicago, and tonight Prince [Fielder] comes up and hits a ball off the top of the wall and Rickie [Weeks] had tremendous at-bats against him. I think we’re getting close to breaking through, we just have to stay confident and have that feeling that we’re going to get him.”

The Cubs are 3-1 this year against the Brewers with two more games this weekend.

“For some reason, the Cubs are giving us a lot of trouble this year,” Milwaukee’s Gregg Zaun said. “It seems like every time we make a mistake out over the plate, they’re capitalizing on it.”

— Carrie Muskat


4/23 Catching up with Milton

If you miss Milton Bradley, he’s back in Chicago on the South Side as the Seattle Mariners face the Chicago White Sox. Check out this interview. http://bit.ly/bgYenP

— Carrie Muskat

4/23 Big Z's first day at new job

Carlos Zambrano and closer Carlos Marmol headed out to the visitor’s bullpen at Miller Park after the third inning was completed on Friday. It’s the first step in Big Z’s transition from starting pitcher to reliever. Zambrano stopped to talk to third base umpire Wally Bell before walking across the outfield with Marmol. Lou Piniella said he didn’t expect to call on Zambrano Friday but wait until Saturday to give the right-hander a chance to “get acclimated.” Zambrano has not pitched in relief since 2002.

— Carrie Muskat