Sean Marshall,threw three perfect innings and Alfonso Soriano, Jake Fox, and Aramis Ramirez slammed home runs, helping the Cubs dump the Oakland A's 6-4 under overcast skies and 80-degree temperatures and in front of 6.500 fans at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa this afternoon.
So ends the saga of Jake Peavy to the Cubs for 7 or more players. But is the deal really dead? In fact, even the Brian Roberts deal isn't exactly dead. These kind of non-transactions take a "life" of their own. So I thought we might play a little game. One of the more common cliche's is "the best trade is often the one not made".
The Cubs get to enjoy their off-day with a nice come from behind win yesterday and a 5-1 road trip that puts them on the right side of the .500 mark away from Wrigley. They'll play 16 straight starting tomorrow, 13 of those coming at home and the three road games at Pittsburgh. It seems like a great time to increase their lead in the Central, but the Brewers have a pretty easy go of it as well. The schedules through September 4th (three game series unless otherwise noted):
Cubs (16 with 13 at Home): vs. Reds, vs. Nats, @ Pirates, vs Phillies (for 4 games), vs Astros
Brewers (14 with 9 at Home): vs. Astros, vs. Pirates, @ St. Louis (2 games), @ Pitt, vs. Mets
Cardinals (13 with 7 at Home): vs. Pirates(2 games), vs Braves, vs. Brewers (2 games), @ Astros, @ Diamondbacks
So that's looking forward, but what about taking a look back at the 2008 season. Peter Gammons on Friday brought up Geovany Soto's name as an National League MVP candidate and it got me thinking about who is the Cubs 2008 MVP.
Your candidates after the jump...
Jon Lieber and Scott Eyre threw in rehab outings with the AZL Cubs at Fitch Park Field #3 this morning, as Larry Rothschild, Lester Strode, and Carlos Zambrano (who was visiting buddy Angel Guzman) watched from the bench, and a gaggle of Cubs brass watched from the observation tower.
Hitting lead-off and serving as the DH, Alfonso Soriano got into his first game action in almost six weeks, as the AZL Cubs defeated the AZL Padres 6-3 at Padres Field #1 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, AZ this morning.
In the second inning of Wednesday night's game, Soriano was late to react to a high and tight fastball from Braves' emergency-starter Jeff Bennett, and got hit on his left hand. He was taken from the game to a nearby hospital, where X-rays evidently revealed a "minimally displaced fracture of the fourth metacarpal."
Paul Sullivan writes in the Tribune that the Cubs will recall Micah Hoffpauir from Iowa as the team begins its interleague schedule with three games at SkyDome this weekend. Lou Piniella's plan is to let Hoffpauir play first base and left field, which will alternately allow Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano to "rest" as they see DH duty.
We all know Alfonso Soriano has been dealing with leg issues for awhile. Last August, against the Mets, he pulled up lame rounding 2nd base with a hamstring pull that kept him out of the lineup for a month and prevented him from running the bases aggressively the rest of the 2007 season. During spring training this year, people were questioning why he wasn't running all out. Manager Lou Piniella said in spring training he didn't want his left fielder running much to prevent any leg injuries. Certainly there was enough time for his hamstring injury to have healed in the offseason, so the Cub braintrust knew something wasn't right this season from the beginning in Arizona. This April, he pulled a calf muscle sometime before or after making a signature hop-catch in left field, which cost 2 weeks on the disabled list.
Last night after two days of rest (he didn't play the last game in Houston), Soriano obviously wasn't running normally on what should have been an easy leadoff double to the RF corner where he gimped toward 2nd base and had to do a headfirst slide to get into 2nd safely. Two plays later, Soriano "boldly" took off early on a line drive rope by Derrek Lee which Pirate right fielder Xavier Nady just missed making a diving catch. The ball popped out of Nady's glove letting Soriano score. If the catch was made, it would have been a baserunning blunder. His play in the outfield shows that his running is causing problems there as well. A single by Jason Bay in the bottom of the 1st, which if he had normal wheels would have been his fly ball to catch. It dropped in softly for a single and was ultimately fielded by CF Reed Johnson. In the 4th inning Zambrano and Soriano singled, Theriot walked. After a fielder's choice putting Sori at 3rd base, ARam hit a medium deep fly to right. Although Nady has a strong arm in RF, if Soriano had any confidence in his legs, I am sure he would have challenged Nady's arm, instead Nady's throw was cut off since it was obvious Soriano and his leg wasn't a threat to score. In the 5th, he hit into a double play and even the Pirate TV commentators were showing replays on how funky his running looked while not even making the play at first base close. Soriano was mercifully replaced in the bottom of the 6th by Micah Hoffpauir and as it was a blowout game one wonders if it was the score or Lou's frustration with Soriano's running that lead to that move. The Chicago TV feed had their camera's on the Cub dugout showing the intereaction between Piniella and Soriano where it appeared to me that Lou was trying to get Soriano to fess up and admit that his leg is hurting, although he adamantly denied being injured.
The five hits that did the most to enhance the Cubs' chance of winning during a week that can only be described as Sorianolicious, as measured by FanGraphs' Win Probability Added (WPA):
#5 Big Hit: Wednesday, v. the Padres, 7th inning — The Cubs had knocked Jake Peavy from the game and taken a 4-0 lead before the Padres drew to within a run, thanks to a 3-spot in the top of the fifth. Geovany Soto then smashed a Wil Ledezma pitch for a two-run homer to give the Cubs some breathing room. WPA .143