Posts Tagged ‘Alfonso Soriano’

Starting Nine: National League Central

January 15, 2010

Next up in our Starting Nine series is the National League Central. Outside of the St. Louis Cardinals re-signing Matt Holliday, there haven’t been any big-time offensive additions to this division. As a whole, this might be the weakest offensive division in baseball (yes, even passing the NL West).

Let’s take a look at the starting lineups for all six teams in this division as presently constructed.

St. Louis Cardinals

1. Skip Schumaker, 2B

2. Brendan Ryan, SS

3. Albert Pujols, 1B

4. Matt Holliday, LF

5. Ryan Ludwick, RF

6. Yadier Molina, C

7. Colby Rasmus, CF

8. David Freese, 3B

9. Chris Carpenter, P

Quick Take – Re-signing Holliday was crucial to this lineup. Despite having Holliday and Pujols in the three-four spot, this lineup will only be as dynamic as Rasmus and Freese takes them.

Milwaukee Brewers

1. Rickie Weeks, 2B

2. Alcides Escobar, SS

3. Ryan Braun, LF

4. Prince Fielder, 1B

5. Casey McGehee, 3B

6. Corey Hart, RF

7. Gregg Zaun, C

8. Carlos Gomez, CF

8. Yovani Gallardo, P

Quick Take – The Brewers sacrificed some offense for defense in 2010. This isn’t the powerful Brewers’ lineup of the last couple of years. There are a lot of automatic outs from seven through nine.

Chicago Cubs

1. Alfonso Soriano, LF

2. Kosuke Fukudome, RF

3. Derek Lee, 1B

4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B

5. Marlon Byrd, CF

6. Geovany Soto, C

7. Ryan Theriot, SS

8. Mike Fontenot, 2B

9. Carlos Zambrano, P

Quick Take – This lineup is getting old in a hurry. If Soriano, Ramirez, and Soto can come back from disappointing 2009 seasons, the Cubs could be in business in 2010. However, I still think they are going to be hard pressed to score runs in 2010.

Cincinnati Reds

1. Drew Stubbs, CF

2. Brandon Phillips, 2B

3. Joey Votto, 1B

4. Jay Bruce, RF

5. Scott Rolen, 3B

6. Ramon Hernandez, C

7. Paul Janish, SS

8. Chris Dickerson, LF

9. Bronson Arroyo, P

Quick Take – This lineup looks good for now and even better for the future. If Bruce can stay healthy, he could have a breakout year in 2010. I would like someone better than Janish at SS, but top prospect Todd Frazier isn’t ready to take over just yet.

Houston Astros

1. Michael Bourn, CF

2. Kaz Matsui, 2B

3. Lance Berkman, 1B

4. Carlos Lee, LF

5. Hunter Pence, RF

6. Pedro Feliz, 3B

7. J.R. Towles, C

8. Tommy Manzella, SS

9. Roy Oswalt, P

Quick Take – This six through nine is brutal. It’s hard to have a top offense when the bottom part of your lineup is this bad. Top catching prospect Jason Castro is not too far away, so this is Towles’ last stand with the Astros.

Pittsburgh Pirates

1. Andrew McCutchen, CF

2. Akinori Iwamura, 2B

3. Garrett Jones, 1B

4. Ryan Doumit, C

5. Andy LaRoche, 3B

6. Lastings Milledge, LF

7. Ryan Church, RF

8. Ronny Cedeno, SS

9. Zach Duke, P

Quick Take – I think in order to maximize their offense’s potential, the Pirates will play Jones at first and Church in right instead of playing Jones in right and Jeff Clement at first. The Pirates’ offense will be better in 2010, but will still have a hard time scoring runs on a consistent basis.

Last, but not least, tomorrow we will take a look at the National League West.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Chicago Cubs Find Their Center Fielder, Sign Marlon Byrd

December 31, 2009

Center field as really been a black hole for the Chicago Cubs during the 2000’s.

They started off the decade with the legendary Damon Buford and over the last 10 years have had players like Gary Matthews Jr., Corey Patterson, Juan Pierre, Jacque Jones, Alfonso Soriano, Reed Johnson, Jim Edmonds, and Kosuke Fukudome patrol center field.

Either players they had playing center weren’t very good overall (Patterson), or not very good defensively (Soriano), or were a short-term solution (Edmonds). Today, the Cubs hope they have finally found a long-term solution to their center field problems–at least for the next three years.

According to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago, the Cubs have signed former Texas Ranger Marlon Byrd to a three-year, $15 million contract. Not a bad start to the new year for Byrd.

Byrd is the latest Cubs' CF

I hate sitting on the fence with these type of free agent deals, but I am very torn on this one. Half of me sees the positives to this deal and the other half sees the negatives.

As far as the positives go, I definitely see a few.

First and foremost, the contract is not an albatross. A three-year deal at essentially $5 million a year will not break the Cubs’ bank. What’s the harm in paying your starting center fielder $5 million a year?

Second, the signing of Byrd allows Fukudome to move to his natural position of right field. Fukudome looked out of place in center last year and this move will improve the Cubs’ outfield defense.

Byrd isn’t the best defensive center fielder in the world, but having him in center and Fukudome in right is an improvement over Fukudome in center and Milton Bradley in right.

Lastly, Byrd is coming off a career year with the Rangers in 2009. Byrd hit .298 with 20 home runs and played in a career high 146 games in 2009.If Byrd can produce those numbers with the Cubs, then this is a great deal for the Cubs.

And it’s with that last paragraph, where I start having my doubts about Byrd.

Haven’t we seen this act play out before us time and time again? A mediocre player has a career year in his free agency year, earns a nice contract, and then never lives up to that deal.

That scenario has been a time honored tradition in baseball for the last 25+ years.

Byrd’s only other year of significance in he majors was back in 2003 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He played in 135 games that year hitting .303 with seven home runs, a .784 OPS, and 11 stolen bases.

Since that year, Byrd has been a fringe starter/forth outfielder with the Phillies, Washington Nationals, and Rangers. Byrd never lived up to the hype that made him one of the Phillies’ top prospects in the early-2000’s.

Ironically for me, Byrd has a lot of former Cub Gary Matthews Jr. in him. Matthews too, was a fringe starter/forth outfielder for most his career, then had one great year with the Rangers in his free agency year, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim signed him to a huge contract.

Now Byrd’s contract isn’t nearly as bad as Matthews was, but the similarities are there.

Another concern I have about Byrd is his home and road splits. Last season in Texas, his home OPS was .873 and his road OPS was .740. That is a huge difference.

Byrd was the Cubs’ first big signing of the offseason and they will need a lot more than him to get where they need to be. I look at the Cubs’ roster as of today, and I feel it’s significantly worse than it was just two years ago.

Unless a lot of Cubs’ players have bounce back years in 2010, it looks like next year is going to be another frustrating one in Wrigleyville.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

Curtis Granderson: What’s His Trade Market?

November 12, 2009

One of the biggest shocks coming out of this weeks general manager’s meeting in Chicago was that the Detroit Tigers have let it be known that OF Curtis Granderson could be had in a trade.

This was shocking to everyone because I don’ think the word trade and Granderson have ever been used in the same sentence. Why would the Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski look to trade Granderson?

Here are some of the contracts the Tigers are paying in 2010:

Nate Robertson: $10 million

Dontrelle Willis: $12 million

Carlos Guillen: $13 million

Jeremy Bonderman: $12.5 million

Magglio Ordonez: $18 million

That’s *$65.5 million committed in 2010 to a bunch of players who probably aren’t worth $15 million. Since those contracts are untradeable, the Tigers are looking to trade some of their more valuable pieces.

Curtis Granderson

Granderson could be on another team in 2010

Hence, the Granderson and Edwin Jackson trade rumors.

For a GM to say a player can be had and for him to actually trade that player are two different things. But if a team were to look into trading for Granderson, what are they getting?

I did this last month with Brad Hawpe, so let’s now look at the trade market for Granderson. What are his pros, his cons, and what teams could be interested in the Tigers’ center fielder.

Pro’s

I think we can all agree on that Granderson is one of the great ambassadors for the game of baseball. He is extremely smart, he extremely well spoken, he has worked for TBS during the playoffs, and has traveled all across Europe promoting baseball.

Off the field, he is everything a team would want.

On the field, he is no slouch either.  Last year, he set a career high with 30 home runs and continues to be one of the better defensive center fielders in the game. He also is one of the more durable outfielders in the game as he has averaged 155 games played over the last four years.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Granderson is his contract. Granderson is due only $5.5 million in 2010, $8.25 million in 2011, and $10 million in 2012. Granderson also has a club option for $13 million in 2013.

That is a very reasonable contract for a guy who is only 28-years-old and in the prime of his career.

Cons

While Granderson’s power numbers have increased over the last two years, everything else offensively seems to have declined.

His average has gone from .302 to .280 to .249 in the last three years

His OPS has gone from .913 t0 .858 to .780 in the last three years

His walk percentage decreased from 11.4 percent in 2008 to 10.2 percent in 2009. Not good for a leadoff hitter.

You really have to start wondering if Granderson thinks he is a legit power hitter? His groundball percentage was 29.5 percent in 2009. By far and away the lowest of his career.

It’s like he has Willie “Mays” Hayes syndrome.

Now that we have looked at the pros and cons of Granderson, now let’s take a look at what teams would be interested in trading for Granderson.

Chicago Cubs: Anytime you have Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley manning the corner outfield spots, you have one of the worst outfield defenses in baseball.

Granderson would give the Cubs a plus outfielder and someone who could track down balls that Soriano and Bradley couldn’t get to. Kosuke Fukudome is basically a fourth outfielder at this point.

Born in Illinois, Granderson would be perfect for the Cubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks: If the Diamondbacks are willing to pick up Brandon Webb’s $8.5 million option and they are looking to sign pitchers on multi-year deals this offseason, then trading for Granderson is not the craziest thing in the world.

A Chris Young for Granderson swap might make sense for both teams. Granderson would bring leadership to the Diamonbacks locker room, which is something they desperately need with all of their young talent.

Young would provide a young, low-cost replacement for Granderson.

New York Yankees: Granderson would be a great fit in the media capitol of the world. He would also be a major upgrade over Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner. Both of whom are fourth outfielders.

A package including David Robertson would be a good start for the Tigers.

Texas Rangers: With Marlon Byrd and Andruw Jones free agents, the Rangers could use a center fielder. Now, they do have Julio Borbon who can play center field and they could put David Murphy in left and Nelson Cruz in right in 2010.

But if they can get Granderson, then they can put him in center, put Borbon in left, and Cruz in right. This would give the Rangers a superior fielding outfield and would allow Murphy to move into a outfield/platoon roll.

Of course, in both scenarios Josh Hamilton would be the DH for the Rangers.

Chicago White Sox: The White Sox need a center fielder, but there is a better chance of me playing center field for the White Sox than Granderson.

What is fascinating, is that if this was five years ago the Tigers would have no problem finding a suitor for Granderson. But now, there are so many teams who have young, good center fielders, that the market for a player like Granderson is pretty thin.

There is probably more talent now at the center field position than there has been in the last 25 years. From Grady Sizemore to Drew Stubbs to Matt Kemp to Andrew McCutchen, baseball is flooded with talented center fielders.

I am going to say, at the end of the day,  there is a 10 percent chance Granderson gets traded.

*All contract information was supplied by Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg


2009 All-Fantasy Bust Team

September 16, 2009

With most teams having roughly 18-20 games left on their schedule, I think its’ safe to say we know by now which players were surprises and which players were busts in 2009.

Tomorrow, we will take a look at the All-Fantasy Breakout Team. As for today, I think we will take a look at who were the fantasy busts in 2009.

These are the players who owners drafted very high in hopes that these players would lead their team to fantasy supremacy in 2009. Instead, these players fell flat on their faces because of various reasons and cost owners hundreds of dollars.

Without any further adieu, here is the 2009 All-Fantasy Bust Team sponsored by the Julio Lugo, Co. “Nobody Knows Sucking Like A Lugo.”

Honorable Mentions – Chris Iannetta, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, JJ Hardy, Rick Ankiel, Kevin Gregg, Garrett Atkins, Lance Berkman, Alfonso Soriano, Manny Ramirez, Jake Peavy

CatcherGeovany Soto, .222/10/40

After winning the 2008 National League Rookie of the Year award with a .285/23/86 hitting line, many owners expected a repeat performance from Soto in 2009. Not so much.

Davis has not lived up to the hype

Davis has not lived up to the hype

First Base – Chris Davis, .216/19/49

This was a close call between Lance Berkman and Chris Davis, but because Davis was so ridiculously over-hyped, Davis wins it. Everyone’s preseason man-crush has fallen flat on his face in 2009.

Things got so bad for Davis that he was sent to the minors in the middle of the season. That my friends, is a bust.

Second Base – Mike Fontenot, .232/9/40

Second base was the hardest position to pick a fantasy bust because so many two-baggers are either having breakout years or their typical years. Fontenot on the other hand, is having neither.

At this point in the season, Fontenot has roughly 100 more AB’s than last year and has the same amount of HR’s (nine), RBI (40), six less runs scored, and his average is 72 points lower than last years.

Not what the Cubs or fantasy owners were expecting this year.

Shortstop – Jose Reyes, .279/2/15

I had a dilemma with this pick. Do I pick the guy who has just sucked all year in JJ Hardy? Or do I pick the guy who has missed the majority of the year with an injury in Jose Reyes?

I will go with Reyes because Reyes, who was taken in the first two rounds in most leagues and crippled a lot of fantasy teams this year. Reyes went on the DL on May 26th and was never heard from again.

Third Base – Alex Gordon, .202/4/12

This was supposed to be the breakout year for Alex Gordon. That’s what I was telling myself when I drafted Gordon in my league. Instead, 2009 has been a disaster for the Royals young third baseman.

Gordon got off to an awful start in April, then had hip surgery, came back, got sent to the minors, and now is back up again. I am not even sure if Gordon is worth keeping in my Keeper League at this point.

Outfield – Milton Bradley, .260/12/39

It seemed like everyone knew this was going to happen except Chicago Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry. Bradley is like the movie GI Joe. Sure, we all knew it was going to suck, but we kind of wanted to see it any way just to see how bad it was going to be.

I mean 39 RBI in 121 games? Pathetic

Outfield – Josh Hamilton, .270/10/49

Hamilton was the feel good story of the 2008 season. His performance in the HR Derby was stuff of legend and he put up a .304/32/130 hitting line.

2009 has been a lost season for Hamilton. He has been hurt the majority of the year and really never found his groove at the plate.

Outfield – Magglio Ordonez, .296/7/40

From 2006-2008, Ordonez averaged 24 HR’s and 115 RBI. In 2009, Ordonez’s power has vanished faster than the storyline’s on Entourage.

Very puzzling how Ordonez has kept his average up, but has lost all his power.

Liriano has been a bust in 2009

Liriano has been a bust in 2009

Starting Pitcher – Francisco Liriano, 5-12 with a 5.71 ERA

Like Alex Gordon previously, this was supposed to be the year for Liriano. He was two years removed from Tommy John surgery, the Minnesota Twins were expected to compete in the AL Central, and at 25, Liriano was going to mature into an ace.

None of the above happened. Liriano is one of the main reasons the Twins are not in first place and is now pitching out of the bullpen

Starting Pitcher – Daisuke Matsuzaka, 1-5 with a 8.23 ERA

Matsuzaka won 18 games in 2008. Going into last night’s action, Matsuzaka has won a grand total of 1 game in 2009.

Fantasy owners can thank Bud Selig’s marketing ploy, otherwise known as the World Baseball Classic for this.

Starting Pitcher – Brandon Webb, 0-0 with a 13.50 ERA

Last year, Webb was 22-7 with a 3.30 ERA and finished second in the Cy Young voting for the second year in a row. All fantasy owners got out of Webb this year, was one lousy start.

Webb was the third overall pick in my league and in most leagues went in the first two rounds. If your first or second pitcher taken doesn’t win a game during the season, it usually spells doom for your team.

Closer – Brad Lidge, 0-7 with a 7.18 ERA and 10 blown saves

Despite having 29 saves this year, Lidge has been a fantasy disaster all season. He doesn’t have a win, he leads the majors in blown saves, and has killed fantasy owners all year long in the ERA category. His WHIP is 1.823 which is not helping the situation either.

Fantasy Week In Revew, Sept. 7 – 13

September 14, 2009

As hard as it may be to believe, there’s still fantasy baseball to be played. With fantasy football now in full swing, many people are forgetting that the fantasy baseball playoffs are in full swing.

Not me.

As always, here are the fantasy studs and the players who could kill your fantasy baseball hopes for the week of September 7th-13th.

Fantasy Studs

Billy Butler – .419/2/12 with one SB. It seems like Butler has been around forever, but he is only 23 years old. He could be in-line for a massive breakout season in 2010.

Russell Martin – .286/2/9/.385. It’s good to see Martin make a celebrity guest appearance in the fantasy stud column.

Juan Uribe – .409/3/7. Uribe has been red hot for the San Francisco Giants. Unfortunately, the rest of the Giants’ offense hasn’t followed suit.

Raul Ibanez – .333/4/7. Ibanez hasn’t been the same since coming back from a groin injury a couple of months ago. Hopefully for the Philadelphia Phillies Ibanez is getting hot at the right time.

Javier Vazquez – 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA and 17 K’s in 16 IP. Has anyone noticed the year Vazquez is having? If the Atlanta Braves gave him any run support, he would be right up there in the Cy Young race.

Pedro Martinez – 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA and 11 K’s in 14.2 IP. The good news — Pedro pitched eight shutout innings against the New York Mets. The bad news — it took him 130 pitches to do it.

Not sure how smart that was by Charlie Manuel leaving him in there for that long.

Jason Frasor – Four saves with a 0.00 ERA and three K’s in 3.1 IP. Frasor is making the case to be the Toronto Blue Jays closer in 2010.

Joakim Soria – Four saves with a 0.00 ERA and eight K’s in 3.2 IP. Soria has had a down year by his standards. A trip to the DL this year really hurt Soria.

Reasons for Concern

Alfonso Soriano – Soriano will miss the remainder of the season because of knee surgery. It’s been a pretty awful season for Soriano and for owners who depended on him.

I for one, have never been a fan of Soriano. Soriano will be 34 next year and I expect his production to be on a steady decline from here on out.

Brad Lidge – The Phillies officially removed Lidge from his closers duties. The plan is to have Lidge pitch in “low-stress” situations until he gets himself right.

Lidge has had six months to get himself right and if it hasn’t happened by now, I don’t think it will happen this year.

Tim Lincecum – Lincecum missed his last start because of back pain. His missed start caused a lot of fantasy owners first-round heartbreak.

The good news is that if you made it past the first round and have Lincecum on your team, he is expected to start tonight against the Colorado Rockies.

Fantasy Week In Review, July 13-20

July 20, 2009

Thanks to the official end of the first half of the 2009 baseball season, it was a short week last week. Some teams only played three games (I think the Detroit Tigers want a do over), while others played four.

Just because it was a short week, it doesn’t mean that there wasn’t some solid fantasy performances. That being said – here at the fantasy studs, players who might be of concern, and the potential pickups for the week of July 13 – 20.

Fantasy Studs

Yunel Escobar – .500/2/8 with three doubles. This kid has so much talent it’s ridiculous. Hopefully he will now put it together at the major league level.

Jim Thome– .500/2/7/.615. Five years after he retires, Thome will be the most interesting Hall of Fame debate in quite some time.

Edwin Encarnacion– .583/2/6/.688. After missing most of the first half with an injury, Encarnacion is looking to have a big second half.

Raul Ibanez– .500/2/5. Ibanez picks up right where he left off in the first half.

Lackey pitched like an ace on Sunday

Lackey pitched like an ace on Sunday

Alfonso Soriano – .400/2/5. The Chicago Cubs really need this guy to wake up in the second half. So far he is off to a good start.

John Lackey– 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and six K’s in nine IP. Lackey was outstanding yesterday vs. the Oakland A’s. I have Lackey on my fantasy team and this was a great sign for myself and other Lackey owners in the world of fantasy baseball.

Roy Oswalt– 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA and five K’s in nine IP. Oswalt walked into Dodger Stadium and tossed the very rare complete game. Oswalt is a notorious second half pitcher (68-20, 2.86 ERA for his career), so fantasy owners should expect more of the same from Oswalt in the next couple of months.

JP Howell – Three saves, zero hits, zero walks, and four K’s in three IP. Howell has really stabilized the Tampa Bay Rays pen. He has nine saves and a 1.97 ERA on the season.

A quick note about Howell. Howell was drafted in the first round (31st overall) by the Kansas City Royals. The Royals traded him just two years later for Joey Gathright.

Just one of the many reasons why the Royals have had one winning season since 1994.

Reasons for Concern

Orlando Hudson – Hudson left Sunday’s game with soreness in his left wrist. It’s something that is not believed to be serious, but it is worth noting that this is the same wrist that Hudson had surgery on last year.

Keep an eye on this situation going forward.

Nelson Cruz Cruz fractured his right ring finger when he was diving back to first base in Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Twins.

Like Hudson’s injury, Cruz’s injury doesn’t appear to be serious.

Cruz was scratched from the lineup on Sunday and is considered day-to-day.

Mark DeRosa – Things have gone as badly as humanly possible for DeRosa since the St. Louis Cardinals acquired Mr. Versatility from the Cleveland Indians in June.

DeRosa started 0-9, then went on the 15-day DL with a wrist injury, and is now 0-6 since returning from the DL. That is 0-15 for those of you scoring at home.

Potential Pickups

Garrett Jones I wrote about Jones on Sunday. Jones is hitting .286 with seven HR’s in just 14 games. As long as he keeps hitting, he should get plenty of AB’s in Pittsburgh.

Jason Schmidt – Yes, Jason Schmidt is still alive. Do you want to throw up? Jason Schmidt made six starts in 2007, zero starts in 2008, and will make his 2009 debut tonight against the Cincinnati Reds and has made $46 million in that span.

I am not expecting much out of Schmidt these days. He is probably a four or five inning pitcher at this point in his career. He might get a cheap win over the Padres or the Nationals here and there, so he might be worth a pickup if you have a spot open on your roster.

Cubs vs Brewers…

May 10, 2009

Today’s live game blog is between NL Central rivals, the Chicago Cubs vs the Milwaukee Brewers. We should get a good pitching matchup tonight as Ryan Dempster (2-1, 4.86 era) squares off against Brewers’ ace Yovani Gallardo (3-1, 3.02era). This will be the Cubs first game without Aramis Ramirez who suffered a dislocated left shoulder in Friday night’s game against the Brewers.

Game – Chicago Cubs vs Milwaukee Brewers

Date – 5/9/09

Starting Lineups

Cubs

1. Soriano, LF

2. Theriot, SS

3. Fukudome, CF

4. Bradley, RF

5. Hoffpauir, 1B

6. Soto, C

7. Fontenot, 2B

8. Scales, 3B

9. Dempster, P

Brewers

1. Weeks, 2B

2. Counsell, 3B

3. Braun, LF

4. Fielder, 1B

5. Hardy, SS

6. Hart, RF

7. Duffy, CF

8. Kendell, C

9. Gallardo, P

Top 1st

First pitch of the game to Soriano is a curveball high for ball 1. Looks to be a pretty good atmosphere in Milwaukee as the stadium is sold out for this one. This Cubs’ lineup looks really weak without Ramirez and Lee.

On a 3-2 count, Gallardo paints the black with a fastball to strike out Soriano. Perfect pitch.

Gallardo gets back to back K’s as Theriot strikes out on a curveball in the dirt. Gallardo has thrown 5 curves so far this game and none of them have been for strikes. Theriot should have been sitting on a fastball and should have been laying off the curve.

Fukudome works a walk. Again, 2 curveballs thrown and still none for a strike.

Bradley grounds weakly to Weeks to end the inning.

Bottom 1st

One of the great things about the baseball package is that you get to see commercials from other cities. Apparently the Piggly Wiggly is a big sponsor of the Brewers. That is just funny to me.

Weeks K’s on a slider about 2 feet outside the strike zone.

Counsell, who it seems like has been in the majors since 1980 ropes an opposite field single to left.

Braun is a beast!!! Braun rips a mediocre fastball into the gap in left center and Counsell scores all the way from 1st. 1-0 Brewers. If the relay throw from SS had been on the money, Counsell would have been out at home.

On the very next pitch, Braun attempts to steal 3rd and Soto throws the ball into LF. Braun scores to make it 2-0. If the Cubs make 2 good throws, they are out of the inning with no damage.

Fielder K’s on just a terrible AB.

Hardy K’s as well to end the inning.

So despite striking out the side, Dempster gives up 2 runs on 2 hits.

After 1, 2-0 Brewers.

Top 2nd

Hoffpauir starts off the inning with a double to right. That ball was smoked. Hoffpauir really needs to learn how to play the OF. When Lee comes back, Hoffpauir will sit on the bench and he has too good a bat to be sitting on the bench.

Soto singles to left and now it is 1st and3rd with nobody out for Fontenot.

Gallardo paints the black again as he strikes out Fontenot on a 94 mph fastball. Another perfect pitch from Gallardo.

Up comes Bobby Scales who spent 11 years in the minors. Wow, that is a lot of bus rides. Scales didn’t see fastballs like the one he just saw from Gallardo. 94 at his eyes. Scales K’s to make it 2 outs. Big out right there because now the pitcher is up.

Dempster flies out to center and despite having 1st and 3rd with nobody out, the Cubs don’t score.

Still 2-0 nothing Brewers heading into the bottom of the 2nd.

Bottom 2nd

The Brewers’ sideline reporter is named Telly Hughes. If that isn’t a perfect name for a reporter, I don’t know what is. It sounds like he should have been a character in Anchorman.

Hart goes down looking on strikes. This game has been a strikeout fest so far.

Duffy hits one back to the mound and now there are 2 outs.

Kendell strikes out but because the pitch he swung at was 3 feet outside and in the dirt, the ball got by Soto. Kendell is on at 1st. Big play there because it clears the pitcher for next inning. However, Gallardo is not a joke at the plate. He is the anti-Al Leiter.

Gallardo strikes out to end the inning. That is 6 K’s now for Dempster.

After 2, it is still 2-0 Brewers

Top 3rd

Gallardo finally has got his curve working as he throws a wicked one to Soriano to strike him out. 5 K’s for Gallardo.

Gallardo walks Theriot. Those are the types of walks that anger managers. Throw strikes to guys like Theriot. What is the worst he can do? Single to left? Can’t walk a guy like that. Have to let him beat you with the bat.

Fukudome flies to left and now there are 2 outs.

Ok, do you know want to know why pitchers no longer throw complete games? It’s because the strike zone is the size of a shoe box. Gallardo just threw 2 pitches to Bradley that were right down the middle and called balls. All these things like K-Zone and Questech have hurt the game. Umpires are scared to call strikes because they are graded by these stupid machines.

Instead of being out of the inning, Gallardo is now forced to throw more pitches adding to his pitch count. RIDICULOUS.

However, no damage was done as Hoffpauir flies out to center.

Bottom 3rd

Weeks leads off the inning with a single in the hole between SS and 3B. Weeks is looking like he is finally coming into his own this year.

Dempster just threw a 2-1 splitter to Counsell. Are you kidding me? CHALLENGE HIM!!! I really wonder what is going threw the head of pitchers and catchers sometimes. Counsell walks and now it is 1st and 2nd with nobody out for Braun. Dempster is digging himself a nice hole here.

Braun walks on a pitch that was probably a strike. Got to love Questech.

Fielder hits a HIGH fly ball to center that is deep enough to score Weeks from 3rd. 3-0 Brewers.

Hardy pops one up and Soto reaches into the stands to make the catch. Way to help your team out Brewers fans.

Wow, what a play!!! Hart rips one off of Dempster’s shoulder, the ball goes over 2B, Fontenot gets to the ball and makes an off balance throw to get Hart. Really great play. Saved a run

That inning could have been a lot worse for Dempster. 3-0 Brewers after 3.

Top 4th

Soto down looking on K’s. Home plate umpire Jerry Crawford’s strike zone is all over the place.

Fontenot hits one past Fielder and down the RF line. Fontenot at 2B with a double. Hart got to that ball quickly and made the play at 2B a lot closer than it should have been.

Both teams are giving Jerry Crawford a piece of their mind. I know Crawford is a very good umpire, but tonight he is having a bad night.

Scales pops out to Counsell in foul territory for the 2nd out.

On a 1-1 count, Gallardo threw Dempster a curveball. My head is going to explode. Wow, Gallardo just walked Dempster. That is a no-no.

Gallardo strikes out Soriano to end the threat. It wasn’t a very good AB by Soriano as he went up there swinging at everything.

Bottom 4th

Dempster strikes out Duffy to start the inning.

Dempster won’t be winning the Gold Glove anytime soon. Kendell hits a ground ball back to him, the ball pops off his glove, he panics and then throws the ball into RF. Kendell on 2nd.

Gallardo ropes the ball, but right to Theriot at SS for the 2nd out. No chance of a double play.

Weeks, showing great patience at the plate draws a walk. Again, Dempster finds himself in trouble.

Dempster is dodging bullets as Counsell flies out to Fukudome in CF

We head to the 5th with the Brewers leading the Cubs, 3-0

Top 5th

Gallardo has thrown 89 pitches so far so he needs a quick inning in order to stay in the game longer

Theriot grounds out to Counsell at 3B for the 1st out.

Fukudome lines one to Hardy for the 2nd out. The Cubs are doing Gallardo and the Brewers a favor right now.

Bradley bloops one between Duffy and Hart for a single.

Hoffpauir blasts one over the RF fence for a 2-run HR. If you wanted the definition of a “bloop and a blast” that was it. The Cubs need to find a way to get Hoffpauir’s bat in the lineup everyday. He can flat out hit.

Gallardo bounces back and strikes out Soto to end the inning.

The Cubs get back in the game and it is now 3-2 Brewers.

Bottom 5th

Braun gets hit in the helmet with a Dempster changeup. That might have been the least scary player hit in the head moment in baseball. Braun got hit in the head and acted like nothing happened.

For some odd reason Braun tries to steal 2nd with Fielder at the plate and he gets throw out by 5 feet. I think Braun is a great player, but that was a bad baseball play. To say Ken Macha looks displeased would be the understatement of the century.

Fielder strikes out for the 2nd out of the inning.

Hardy pops out to Fukudome in CF to end the inning.

Dempster keeps dodging bullets and after 5 it is 3-2 Brewers.

Top 6th

I am getting the sense that this is one of those games where the Brewers keep the Cubs in the game by stranding runner after runner and the Cubs find a way to steal it in the end. I am getting that feeling.

Seth McClung comes into the game to replace Gallardo. Gallardo walked 4 and struck out 7 in 5 innings. Not Gallardo’s best performance but he does leave with a lead.

McClung gets Fontenot swinging for the 1st out.

Scales flies out to Hart in right for the 2nd out of the inning.

McClung makes quick work of Dempster and strikes him out on 3 pitches.

A nice inning by McClung.

Bottom 6th

Hart pops up to Hoffpauir in foul territory for the 1st out.

Duffy lines out to Fukudome in center for the 2nd out.

Kendell grounds one off of a diving Hoffpauir’s glove for a single.

McClung strikes out to end the inning.

After 6 in the books, it is still 3-2 Brewers.

Top 7th

It was just announced that this game is the Brewers’ 7th shutout of the season. The Brewers are starting to become the success model for small market teams.

McClung still in there and gets Soriano to ground to Counsell for the 1st out.

Theriot works a walk and is on 1st with Fukudome coming to the plate. As my summer league coach used to say….”Oh those bases on balls.”

Fukudome gets a broken bat single to right. Theriot goes to 3rd. The Cubs are set up now with 1st and 3rd with 1 out and Bradley coming to the plate.

Bradley walks and Macha is gonna make the call to the pen.

Lefty specialist, Mitch Stetter comes in to face Hoffpauir. Talk about being thrown into the fire.

Good morning, good afternoon and good night to Hoffpauir. 3 pitches and Hoffpauir is done. Macha comes out again to make another pitching change. Not a bad day at the office for Stetter. 1 batter faced, 3 strikes and 1 out.

Carlos Villanueva is summoned out of the pen to face Soto. Big spot here.

On a 2-2 pitch, Villanueva throws a perfect curve on the outside corner but thanks to Jerry Crawford’s ever shrinking strike zone it is called a ball. Just terrible.

Thankfully for the Brewers, Crawford’s terrible call didn’t cost them because Soto grounds to 3rd to end the inning.

Bottom 7th

Dempster still in there despite throwing 110 pitches. I like it. Old school baseball. I was watching Game 4 of the 1983 ALCS between the Orioles and White Sox on the MLB Network this morning and Brit Burns threw 150 pitches in that game. The legendary Brit Burns was throwing 150 pitches back in the day. Amazing how much the game has changed. 

Braun was a beast on Saturday

Braun was a beast on Saturday

Weeks flies out to Fukudome for the first out.

Craig Counsell turns on a fastball and hits it out for a HR. That ball barely made it over the right field fence. That was his first HR since June 17th of last year. Counsell now has more HR’s than David Ortiz. I am just sayin’.

It’s back to back at Miller Park as Braun crushes one to LF. I guess that was payback for getting hit in the head. 5-2 Brewers.  

Neal Cotts comes in to replace Dempster and promptly walks Fielder on 5 pitches. I already see the fumes coming out of Piniella’s ears.

Hardy smacks one up the middle for a base hit. Theriot got a glove on it but was only able to knock the ball down. 1st and 2nd and still only 1 out.

Cotts night is done. Piniella looks like he wants to punch Cotts as he approaches the mound to take the ball.

David Patton gets the call from the pen to face Hart and is greeting by a single up the middle scoring Fielder. 6-2 Brewers. I thought the Cubs’ bullpen was supposed to be a strength this year? Guess not.

Duffy grounds to Hoffpauir and Hoffpauir gets the force at 2nd. 1st and 3rd with 2 outs now.

Kendell bloops one to left for a single and Hardy scores to make it 7-2 Brewers.

Brad Nelson is called upon to pinch hit for the pitcher. He looks like a poor man’s Matt Stairs. Nelson came into the AB 0-20 on the season and on a 3-2 count, Patton throws him a curveball. What??? The guy is 0-20!!! Throw him a fastball. Makes zero sense.

Bases loaded now for Weeks. I have Weeks on one of my fantasy teams, so I am hoping for a big fly here. I will settle for a single. Duffy scores to make it 8-2 Brewers. This has turned into a route.

9-2 Brewers as Patton throws one that gets by Soto. I guess my feeling that the Cubs might win this game was a little off.

Scales makes a nice play on Counsell to end the inning.

But the damage was done. 6 runs on 6 hits and after 7 it is now 9-2 Brewers

Top 8th

If anyone is in the Milwaukee area this weekend, the Piggly Wiggly has a sale on Tombstone Pizza. 4 for $10. I think that is a pretty good deal.

Jorge Julio is on to pitch for the Brewers so this game isn’t over yet.

That’s what you want to see from your reliever if you are Ken Macha. Up 9-2 and Julio walks the first batter. Good times if you are Macha. Fontenot on 1st.

Julio redeems himself by stricking out Scales.

Aaron Miles comes up to bat for Patton. Miles hits a ball up the middle but Weeks slides to his right, backhands the ball and flips to Hardy for the force out. Great play by Weeks.

Soriano gets a broken bat single down the left field line. Miles goes to 3rd and it’s 1st and3rd with 2 outs.

Julio drills Theriot right in the ribs. That is going to leave a mark in the morning. Bases loaded now for the Cubs.

Julio throws a 55 ft slider in the dirt that gets by Kendell. Fontenot scores to make it 9-3 Brewers.

Like I said, this game isn’t over yet. Fukudome crushes one to center for a 2 run double. It is now 9-5 Brewers. I am sorry, but if you can’t protect a 9-2 lead, you shouldn’t be pitching in the major leagues.

Big Todd Coffey is on to pitch. Well this is strange. The lights just went out at Miller Park. Half the stadium lights went off. Great, only when I am blogging does stuff like this happen.

Right now the game is delayed. Faaaaaaaaaaantastic.

Well, that wasn’t so bad. We are back and so are the Cubs’ bats. Bradley hits one to deeeeeeeeep center for a double. Fukudome scores to make it 9-6.

Coffey strikes out Hoffpauir to end the inning.

The Cubs are trying to make a comeback as they score 4 runs to make it a 9-6 game

Bottom 8th

Chad Fox is the next pitcher out for the Cubs. Really? Chad Fox? These are desperate times for the Cubs.

Glallardo got the win on Saturday

Gallardo got the win on Saturday

Braun walks to lead off the inning. Your team just scores 4 runs to make it 9-6 and you walk the first batter of the inning. Unreal. A wild pitch advances Braun to 2nd.

Fox, who is coming back from 2 Tommy John surgeries, throws 3 pitches to Fielder and has to come out of the game. Looks like he hurt his arm again. Perhaps that was the last pitch in Fox’s career. 

Aaron Heilman will take over for Fox. Right now every Met’s fan reading this just cringed. Heilman coming in with a 3-0 count walks Fielder. That walk will be charged to Fox.

Hardy walks and now the bases are loaded. Piniella looks about as happy as Mets’ fans looked when they saw Heilman enter the game.

Oh boy. Heilman just walked Hart to force in a run. Braun scores to make the score 10-6. Still nobody out.

Duffy single to center and Fielder scores to make it 11-6 Brewers. I don’t think Heilman is winning any brownie points with Piniella at this point.

Kendell hits a sacrafice fly to right that scores Hardy. 12-6 Brewers.

Coffey down on strikes. 2 outs

Weeks strikes out to thankfully end this inning. That was brutal to watch.

The Brewers tack on 3 more to make it 12-6 after 8.

Top 9th

Soto starts the 9th with a single to left. This game is now 4 hours long. Good times.

Fontenot grounds into a 4-6-3 double play. Nicely turned by Weeks and Hardy. 2 outs.

Scales lines one to center that Duffy dives for and traps. A single for Scales. This game will never end.

Reed Johnson enters the game as a pinch hitter. Braun makes a diving catch in left to end the game.

The Brewers win this marathon 12-6. With this win the Brewers improve to 18-13, while the Cubs fall to 16-14. If the Cubs want to win the NL Central or even compete for a wild card they better get their bullpen in order because right now it’s terrible.

I would also like to wish all the mothers out there a Happy Mother’s Day!!! Or to take a page out of Ralph Kiner’s book….On mother’s day, I again wish you a happy birthday.