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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Barrett’

Rainy Days and Mondays

Posted by sportsmaven on August 20, 2007

Carlos Zambrano made his first start after signing the 6 year $91.5 million contract last night and he looked like an entirely different pitcher.  I suppose $91.5 million would make most anyone a diferent person, but Carlos looked like the Carlos since the Michael Barrett fight — well at least for 3 innings anyway.  The 2007 version of the Chicago Cubs may go down in history as the team to break the curse, the best team that money can buy, or the biggest bust in baseball history (that’s what close to $400 million dollars in salary will buy you).

Carlos Zambrano Signs New Contract

(AP Photo/Jerry Lai)

That’s what makes last night’s rain postponed game and today’s afternoon game against the St. Louis Cardinals even more important in the here and now, take one moment, one game, one series at a time approach that Lou Piniella and his Chicago Cubs ballclub have adopted in their drive to the top of the NL Central standingsMomentum is a mysterious, sometimes fleeting force, often times, escaping at the times when it is needed the most.  The Cubs harnessed momentum on their side wth the Zambrano signing on the heels of the latest most important series of the season.  While Mother Nature lovely buckets have overflowed with much needed rain (at least for me and my newly sodded back yard), she hasn’t been so kind as of late, making the Cubs earn back that lost momentum gained at the outset of this series.  Whether the Zambrano signing/Cardinals series was an intentional marketing or motivation ploy, or just purely coincidental it seems to have worked.  Now if only Mother Nature, Ted Lilly, and the baseball gods would cooperate…..

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Chicago Cubs Lose Soriano and to Mets — What’s Next?

Posted by sportsmaven on August 6, 2007

So, Chicago Cubs fans, have we seen this before?  The Cubs got out of the gate playing horrible baseball this season, topped off by an on the air dugout brawl between their best pitcher (Carlos Zambrano) and their since departed emotional catcher (Michael Barrett), followed the next day by a tirade by their new manager, Lou Piniella, over a play that was called correctly.  All this vaulted the Cubs from a low-water mark of 8 games under .500 to a high water mark of 8 game over .500 in the span of 2 months to contend in the weak NL Central division.  Just when the tide is turning, the Cubs become human again, going 3-4 against the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets, and now this.

Alfonso Soriano Leaves Cubs Injured

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

It appears that OF Alfonso Soriano will miss 2-4 weeks due to a strained quad muscle, the same injury that sidelined 3B Aramis Ramirez for the last 5 weeks of the season in 2005.  Furthermore, the back of our rotation, needing to step up significantly, appears to be stepping BACKWARDS with horrible performances.  RP Kerry Wood saw his first action since being reactivated from the 15-day disabled list on Friday and looked impressive, striking out

Last night’s game was a prime example — SP Jason Marquis wasn’t sharp again, giving up 5 earned runs on 9 hits (including 4 doubles) and 3 walks.  The Cubs were still in the game until the suddenly flammable RP Will Ohman came in and put the game out of reach with his horrid performance.  The New York Mets are clearly the best team in the National League.  That was a proven point in this weekend’s series.  You can’t give a team like the Mets 23 baserunners and expect to win.  You can’t walk 7 guys and expect to win.  You can’t lose arguably your best hitter for a month and expect to win.  You can’t have your #3, 4, and 5 starters go less than 5 innings and expect to win.  You can’t have your bullpen lefty relievers take close games and put them out of reach and expect to win.

The Cubs have 51 games left in the regular season.  Do they compete despite the loss of Soriano, or do they fold in August like many a past Cubs team?  Only time will tell, but I do know one thing, history is certainly not on the Cubs side…..

Tom Glavine Wins 300

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

On another note, the Sports Maven does want to congratulate Mets P Tom Glavine on his 300th victory last night.  Tom Glavine is surely the best left handed pitcher of my generation, and it was a treat to watch him pitch another masterful game.  Not only is he an excellent pitcher, he is also one of the game’s all around good guys.  Congratulations, Tom Glavine!

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Early Thoughts From Chicago Cubs Camp

Posted by sportsmaven on March 4, 2007

The spring games have started and it seems like developments are becoming more apparent as the early games begin. Some of my thoughts on the Chicago Cubs in the early going are:

1. Looks like the Cubs are going to hit and score runs this season. The batting order looks solid with some questions around who will hit in the #2 hole (early leader appears to be Matt Murton when he’s playing, although Murton is getting some time hitting lower in the order.) With Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Murton, Michael Barrett, and Jacque Jones, there aren’t a lot of spots in the Cub order to pitch around. If Mark DeRosa hits like he did last year, sprinkle in a healthy Cliff Floyd, this lineup of hitters are the best in the National League Central Division.

2. On the other hand, defense may be an issue. Cesar Izturis is a Gold Glove caliber player. So is Derrek Lee. After that, it gets quite sketchy. Mark DeRosa appears to be solid and if he indeed is the starting second baseman, playing one position will help him, defensively. Soriano in CF is an unknown at this point. Ramirez can play defense if he wants, and Pinella will demand that he does. Barrett needs work, especially with baserunners and limiting his passed balls. Jones and Murton are ordinary. Most of the defensive lapses from the Cubs through the first three games of Cactus League play are from guys that are probably not going to make the team (like Scott Moore, Ronny Cedeno, and Mike Kinkade) but clearly, Lou Piniella is not pleased.

3. Speaking of Lou Piniella, looks like he will be more demanding from the players both publicly and privately, than Dusty Baker ever was with the Cubs. I like that. Lou calls it like he sees it. He’s not blunt, he’s honest. I look forward to more of that in the upcoming season. This will be refreshing, informative, and certainly entertaining.

Tomorrow is Cubs-White Sox in Mesa, Rich Hill vs. Jon Garland. Monday, is Mark Prior’s scheduled debut in Cactus League play and Kerry Wood is also scheduled to pich. It’s starting to get more interesting……

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