Cubs in the WBC, Pool Recap

Posted by Lionel on March 13, 2009.

As the WBC moves from letters to numbers (pools), let's take a quick look at what the Cubs and Cubs farmhands did in the lettered pool play.

Carlos Marmol (D.R.)-0-1, 5.40 ERA, 4 of 5 batters retired via K (tournament over)

Geo Soto (Puerto Rico)-.375 BA, .500 OBP, 1 double, 2 RBI's (Pool 2 v. U.S.)

Ted Lilly (U.S.)-1 start, 3 IP, 1 earned run, 1 HR, 2 K's (Pool 2 v. Puerto Rico)

Kosuke Fukudome (Japan)-.286 BA, .545 OBP, 2 Runs, 2 K's (Pool 1 v. Cuba)

Corey Koskie (Canada)-D.N.P. (tournament over)

Vince Perkins (Canada)-0-1, 1 start, 2 IP, 2 earned runs, 4 walks (tournament over)

Alex Maestri (Italy)-2 2/3 IP, 3 walks, 2 K's, no hits (tournament over)

Hung Wen Chen (Taipei)-D.N.P. (tournament over)

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Cubs in the WBC, Day 5

Posted by Lionel on March 12, 2009.

Theodore Lilly got his first start for Team USA on Wednesday. He gave up 3 hits and 1 run over 3 innings pitched. He struck out 2 and didn't walk a batter. But, in my opinion, it was a disappointing outing. Why? Well, the one run he yielded was on a HR...to Henry Blanco. That's right, Hank White took Lilly yard on an 0-1 pitch. Maybe Hank White knew what was coming, but still, it's Hank White.

Geo Soto got his first start behind the plate for Puerto Rico. And those who saw the game had to be nervous that Soto wouldn't get out of the first inning. In the top of the first, Randall "the sausage pounder" Simon was standing on first base. A double in the gap had Simon rounding third and heading home. That's around 2 and a half bills rumbling toward home. Luckily, the ball beat Simon and Simon slid instead of decapitating Soto, allowing Soto to record the out and keep his face pretty. Oh, and Soto batted too. He went 1 for 4 with an RBI, a run, a walk, and a strikeout. Unfortunately, he also left 5 teammates on base.

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Cubs in the WBC, Day 4

Posted by Lionel on March 11, 2009.

Italy lost to Venezuela, 10-1, ending their run. Cubs farmhand Alex Maestri came in in the ninth, well after the damage was done. He threw one inning, giving up a walk and striking out one.

But obviously the biggest news was the Netherlands beating the Dominican Republic for the second time, sending them to Miami and the D.R. home. Carlos Marmol was unfortunately one of the goats, if not the goat. He entered the game in the 11th inning after the D.R. took a 1-0 lead. He promptly gave up a double. After getting a groundout, he gave up a single. Tie game, blown save. He then threw away a pickoff attempt, leading to an error on him and the runner to head to third. He recorded a K, then intentionally walked Randall "the sausage basher" Simon. He went full with the next hitter before inducing a ground ball to 1-sack Willy Aybar. Aybar booted the grounder and the game was over.

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Batting Second, Kosuke Fukudome

Posted by Lionel on March 11, 2009.

Lou told Fukudome yesterday that he was intending to pencil him into the #2 spot. I like this move. While I may be the only person East of the Pacific and not named Lou Pinella who likes it, here's why I think it makes sense.

Obviously, his left-handedness makes him ideal for the 2 hole, allowing Lou to use Board Games (Milton Bradley) lower in the lineup. While I like Board Game's potential to do damage and drive in runs, I'd hate to see someone like ARam hitting lower in the lineup just to get a leftie in the middle of the lineup.

Fukudome is a patient hitter. Of his 590 plate appearances, he hit the ball on the first pitch 77 times. In contrast, he worked the count full 118 times and the count was 3-1 or 2-2 another 128 times, meaning he saw at least 5 pitches in 41.6% of his plate appearances. In contract, Soriano had 59 PA's where he hit the ball on the first pitch and 52 full counts. With a free swinger like Sorianio leading off, the old adage of the leadoff hitter allowing the rest of the team to see a pitcher's stuff is thrown out the window. But if Fukudome works the count, you essentially fill that role with your #2 hitter.

Fukudome's patience will also help Soriano get more SB's, if Lou allows Sori to steal. But the bigger bonus I see is that Fukudome can be used in hit and runs. Fukudome may be at his best when he's just trying to put the ball in play on the ground. He hit 30 points higher with runners on than the bases empty. If he can get Soriano to second, maybe the double play machine DLee won't have the 27 GIDP's he had last year. If he can get himself on along with Soriano, he allows crooked numbers to be put on the board.

Most people will point to The Riot as the best 2 hole hitter. But he doesn't bring the same qualities to the table. Sure, he hit 50 points higher that Fukudome last year. But he had slightly more first pitches put in play than full counts (89 to 85). The Riot hit into 16 double plays in 117 plate appearances with a runner on first compared to Fukudome's 5 in 114 PA's. I'm not saying The Riot doesn't bring some good qualities to the 2 hole. He struck out about half as much as Fukudome last year, and stole 10 more bags, but also did that in 20 more SB attempts. The Riot is also at his best in the hit and run, when he can try to punch the ball through the open hole.

Fukudome should be better with Sori and likely DLee batting in front and behind him. But looking blankly at the stats would normally shoot a big hole in my theory, as Fuku hit just .154 in the #2 spot last year. But Soriano missed time last year from June 12th-July 22nd. During that period, Fukudome logged 58 of his 89 plate appearances in the 2 hole. So while he struggled batting second last year, he spent the majority of his time batting behind guys like Reed Johnson and The Riot.

Whether this is one of those brain-childs of Lou that will be reversed in a few days (see Sori moving down in the lineup) is to be seen. And if Fukudome struggles again, it's not likely he'll stay in the 2 hole for long.

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Cubs in the WBC, Day 3

Posted by Lionel on March 10, 2009.

Another "off" day for Cubs players on Sunday. But Monday...

Korea defeated Japan in a shocker, especially given the 14-2 drubbing Team Japan had handed Korea two days earlier. Fukudome batted 7th again and started in CF. He went 1 for 3, bringing him WBC BA to .286. Japan will head stateside and play in San Diego on Sunday.

Vince Perkins started for Team Canada against Italy. Perkins struggled. In just 2 innings pitched, he walked 4 and gave up 3 hits. That lead to 3 runs, 2 of them earned, and the loss for Perkins. Team Canada was eliminated.

Corey Koskie and Geo Soto didn't play for their teams on Monday. Actually, Koskie didn't play for Team Canada whatsoever.

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What it takes to be a Cubs Fan...just a thought.

Posted by Arthur on March 9, 2009.

Born on the southside of Chicago, I am often asked how I became a Cubs fan. The simple answer...My Dad. He came to this country and great city in 1970 and lived on the southside. Only living a mile or so from Sox Park, he didnt choose that team as his team. He went with the Northsiders...why? Well, I asked him this question recently and he told me it was because of the following reasons:
1) he could travel the country and watch the Cubs on WGN
2) the fans are nicer and
3) the history.

Now I remember going to Cubs games as a kid. We would drive in from the western suburbs, park far away, take the red line, scalp a couple of tickets, buy some peanuts and then leave in the 7th inning to beat traffic. I love those memories. I hope to be able to have those memories one day with my very own kin...but until here is my quick run down of what I think it takes to be a Cubs fan:
1) Loyalty for the team...no matter what.
2) Flexibilty in the weather, in the lead off spot, in our relief pitching, in the ownership, in the rising beer costs, in the parking and in the loose morals of some of the fans.
3) Knowledge of the game, the team and history.
4) Respect of the past and the fans that come before us. My dad doesnt like seeing back tattoos or girls that are passing out at games...respect it.

Of course nothing makes me an expert in this, except for the fact that since I could remember I watched the game on WGN and listened to it on the radio at the exact time. I've travelled to spring training and enjoyed the game at its finest. I've seen the minor leaguers play when they are in town. I host Lionel and Jumbo a weekend a year to celebrate our blog and the team. I made my nephew learn the players and how to play the game. I've broken up with a girl because she was a sox fan.

So as the opening day nears...remember these few things as you prepare to go to Wrigley:
1) you are a fan and so are we...dont ruin the experience.
2) enjoy the park...it has been here for years.
3) if you see my dad...by him a coke.
4) wear your red and blue with pride.
5) Murphy's bleachers for pre-game.

I am sure someone has additional things to add to this list. But I am a simple fellow. I want my Old Style, a bag of seeds and good friends to share in the great Chicago past time of wrigley field and the Chicago Cubs.

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Cubs in the WBC, Day 2

Posted by Lionel on March 8, 2009.

OK, so it's technically Day 3 of the WBC, but Chinese Taipei was the only team in action with a Cubs player, and he didn't log any PT. So, we're making Saturday Day 2 of the WBC, and now we're officially underway with a whole host of action.

Chinese Taipei played their second game before any teams east of the Pacific played one. And they we're also eliminated before any of those teams played. Hung-Wen Chen did not see any action in either of the two games, but neither did half of the Taipei pitchers. Maybe sitting Chen is the reason they went 0 for 2.

The Dominican Republic took a huge shot to the chin in a loss to the Netherlands. Carlos Marmol (missing from TD's WBC Roster post because he said he wasn't playing at that time) came in in the 9th with the Dominican team down 3-2. He promptly plunked former Cub and Sausage-Clubber Randall Simon. He then struck out the next three Dutchmen, although one was via two strike bunt that went foul.

The U.S. and Canada reignited their border war, but did so without playing any Cubs or Cubs farmhands.
Puerto Rico started Pudge Rodriguez behind the dish, but Geo Soto DH'ed. Soto went 2 for 4, including a double, a walk, and an RBI. But things weren't all good. He K'd once and left 3 others on base, although two were left on with two outs in the eighth when the game was already well in hand.
Team Italy was struggling in the 5th inning, having given up 4 runs. With runners on first and second and only one out, they called Alex Maestri out of the 'pen. He promptly forced Miguel Cabrera to groundout to third, and then caught Magglio Ordonez looking to end the inning. He returned in the 6th, walking two but yielding no hits and no runs. He retired MLBer's Carlos Guillen, Cesar Izturis (although that's no accomplishment) and Endy Chavez.
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