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Everyone -- even your aunt in Thunder Bay -- knows by now that the Jays are playing not the Cubs but the Sosa-less Cubs this weekend. Still, this weekend should be a heck of a challenge for the Jays, whose insanely great offence has struggled only against this season's elite starters...two of whom will be on the mound tonight and tomorrow afternoon. And unlike a couple of AL East rivals I could mention, excellent starting is usually followed by a lights-out performance by the Cubs bullpen, which has been stellar this year. It's a classic case of "irresistible force meets...other irresistible force." I know, it doesn't quite work...

Are the Cubs unbeatable? No, because Chicago doesn't have a lot of offensive depth or power, so the onus will be on Esco, Davis and Lidle to go right after their hitters. Yeah, I'm lookin' right at you, Dougie! With the tragic disappearance of Mark Bellhorn, the Cubs' two power sources have been replaced in the lineup by the likes of Troy O'Leary and the un-cryogenically-frozen Tom Goodwin. Surprisingly, though the much-dissed acquisitions of Eric Karros and Mark Grudzielanek have worked out very well for the Cubbies, as both veterans came to the club psychologically prepared to play a reduced role -- and have performed admirably when used. They'll both likely start all three games this weekend, with Hee Seop Choi on the DL.

I wonder if Alex Gonzalez can still attract those pre-strikeout screams of adulation from the Seventeen set.

On to the Advance Scout!

* Dusty Baker on the team's outlook sans Sammy: "We're on a mission, we have a goal. You just can't let yourself get distracted" ... In the team's first game without the suspended superstar, the Cubs got runs from seven different sources and RBIs from five different players ... The Cubs are 11-8 without Sosa in the lineup ... They're 6-3 in interleague play ...
* Look out! Kerry's coming tonight, and he's bringin' the heat ... He's had six double-digit strikeout starts this year, including his last three starts ... Opponents are just hitting .166 off him ... He struck out 11 in seven-and-two-thirds against New York on Saturday, allowing his only run on a solo shot to Hideki Matsui ... Mike Remlinger approached Wood on the mound during Saturday's injury to delay, urging the Texan to "finish[] the job for Hee Seop" ... Then Remlinger picked up his teammate on the field, striking out Jason Giambi to end a bases-loaded threat ...
* The Cubs called up 3B/OF David Kelton to replace Choi ... Kelton went 2-for-4 with a single and double in his first major league start on Wednesday ...
* Eric Karros has hit .400 since Hee Seop Choi's scary concussion last Saturday afternoon -- including, of course, his spoiler longball off fabled ex-Yankee Juan Acevedo in that very game ... Modest, Karros defended Torre's decision: "Nine times out of ten, I'm not going to hit a three-run homer" ... Choi has a sore neck but is in good spirits ... Wisely, the Cubs have told him to refrain from exertion over the next two weeks while he convalesces on the DL ...
* Corey Patterson is 0 for his last 8, but that follows a string of six multi-hit days in seven games (.433) ... That span included an impressive four triples ... His counting stats are good across the board, as his his slugging -- but only seven walks, considerably fewer than his home runs (12) or stolen bases (11) ... He's at 317/336/574 ...
* Moises Alou is 8 for his last 16, and is at 301/363/453 on the season ... He may DH all weekend, given his grisly past with artificial turf (remember his sickening injury in Cincinnati?) ...
* Despite struggling a bit against New York, Joe Borowski has been close to automatic this year ... He's struck out 34 while walking 7, and has held hitters to a .177 average ... He picked off Charles Gipson at first to end Sunday night's game, leading to that famous fists-pounding-the-ground "no, no, no!" image ...
* Kyle Farnsworth is holding opponents to a .151 average ... A Melvin Mora home run and two other hits last night dramatically raised his opponents' average, which was at a stifling .133 ...
* Mark Prior has only issued 3 or more walks 3 times, in what should sadly be a contrast-of-styles matchup with Doug Davis on Saturday ... He's been more hittable than Wood, but that's not saying much: opponents are hitting .207 against him ... One ray of hope: The Astros lit him up four starts ago, with seven runs (six earned) on seven hits ... Prior went to Vanderbilt (he would later transfer) rather than sign with the Yankees, who drafted him with a sandwich pick out of high school in 1998 ... Hooray for higher education! I'm delighted that he has the education needed for a life after baseball ...
* Mark Grudzielanek is just 1 for his last 13 ...
* You think the Cubs won't miss Sosa? His replacements are Troy O'Leary (206/252/309) and Tom Goodwin (190/227/254) ... Goodwin is, however, a perfect 9-for-9 on the basepaths ... Ooh, I'm so scared ...
* Shawn Estes, whose name is already causing Jays hitters to salivate (given the alternatives this weekend), has surrendered seven or more runs four times ... But he pitched a gem against the Orioles on Tuesday, with seven shutout innings, six hits, two walks, five strikeouts ... He only allowed one runner past second base ... But, alas, those are the Orioles ... Mike Hargrove blamed the Orioles' anemic attack on the club's inability to lay off Estes' curveballs ... The patient Jays should do better ... Estes has coaxed 16 ground-ball double plays this season ...
* Sosa will not make the trip to Toronto. Baker suggested he remain in Chicago to get more batting practice cuts in at Wrigley, rather than the 10-15 swings he'd get as a non-starter in Toronto ... "He was just finding his stroke," said Baker of Sosa ...
* Baker has been asked a lot about racism in baseball and in Chicago lately, after Gary Sheffield, Pedro Martinez and Jose Canseco all made statements expressing their belief that Sosa has been singled out unfairly because of his skin colour ... Baker: "I came 20 years after Jackie and [racism] was big time when I was there...It's changed some, but it's more subtle...That doesn't mean it's not there. People have a way of going about it differently" ... Baker says he's recently experienced a woman clutching her purse close to her body after he entered an elevator, and a motorist conspicuously lock his car doors when Dusty drove up beside him ...
* Todd Wellemeyer "saved my bullpen," according to Baker, with his five innings of relief last night ... But he now won't be available until Sunday at the earliest ...
* Second-base prospect Bobby Hill has been playing third at AAA Iowa -- not to convert him, says GM Jim Hendry, but to give him some experience in case the Cubs still need a third baseman later in the season ... The Cubs are also pleasantly surprised -- nay, delighted -- with the G-man's performance at second ...
* Cubs fans continue to debate whether their beloved club should include 22-year-old starter Carlos Zambrano in a potential Mike Lowell deal ... The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Marlins have yet to "get serious about a trade" with the Cubs ...

Probable Batting Orders

vs. LH

4 Grudzielanek
6 Gonzalez
8 Patterson
DH Alou
3 Karros
2 Miller
5 Martinez
7 Kelton
9 Goodwin

vs. RH

4 Grudzielanek
6 Gonzalez
8 Patterson
DH Alou
7 O'Leary
3 Karros
5 Martinez/Harris
2 Miller/Bako
9 Goodwin

Pitching Probables

Friday: RH Wood vs. Escobar
Saturday: RH Prior vs. Davis
Sunday: LH Estes vs. Lidle

Bullpen Usage

Long: Wellemeyer R
Short: Farnsworth R, Guthrie L
Setup: Remlinger L, Alfonseca R
Closer: Borowski R
Advance Scout: Cubs, June 13-15 | 14 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_Pat - Friday, June 13 2003 @ 03:06 PM EDT (#100220) #
Wow! A Thunder Bay shout out. I thought people in Toronto were completely unaware of Thunder Bays existence. There is a very loyal fan base in TBay.
Mike D - Friday, June 13 2003 @ 03:10 PM EDT (#100221) #
Full disclosure, Pat: My mom's from there, so I actually *do* have an aunt in Thunder Bay (two, in fact). She was a high-school classmate of Paul Shaffer at Fort William C.I.

Mom reads occasionally, so I won't reveal the class year.
Pepper Moffatt - Friday, June 13 2003 @ 03:26 PM EDT (#100222) #
Wow! A Thunder Bay shout out. I thought people in Toronto were completely unaware of Thunder Bays existence. There is a very loyal fan base in TBay.

Atleast you don't have to explain to your coworkers twice a day that, yes, indeed, there **is** a London in Canada as well.

Do the Whiskey Jacks still play in Thunder Bay?

Dave Till - Friday, June 13 2003 @ 03:56 PM EDT (#100223) #
My mother is also from Thunder Bay (Fort William). I went there a couple of times when I was a child (which was a long time ago :-)). I mostly remember the mile markers on Highway 17, indicating how far it was to the nearest town. (I have no relatives there now.)

Somewhere, I have photos of the Wawa Goose, and of the thermometer in White River (boasting that it was the coldest place in Canada).
_R Billie - Friday, June 13 2003 @ 04:21 PM EDT (#100224) #
Hijack: According to the Ravens site, the Jays have promoted Dustin McGowan to AA with at least one more roster spot to fill following the promotions of Baker, Pond, and Wiggins to AAA.

A bit surprising considering Bush was the guy I was expecting to go up...he still might to fill that extra spot.
_DS - Friday, June 13 2003 @ 04:49 PM EDT (#100225) #
Just to add to the previous comment: To make room for all three guys being promoted to AAA, P Tim Young was released.

I would have to think that Bush is the other guy going to AA. His numbers are even better than McGowan. I don't think any of the hitters have done enough to warrant being brought up yet.

As for the replacements at Dunedin, I could see Brandon League and Sandy Nin being promoted.
_Pat - Friday, June 13 2003 @ 04:50 PM EDT (#100226) #
The Whiskey Jacks are done. Although I think Strawberry played against the Jacks when he was with the Saint Paul Saints. I live in Winnipeg now, but my home town is Thunder Bay. We have the Goldeyes here.
_DS - Friday, June 13 2003 @ 05:05 PM EDT (#100227) #
One other quick reason why Bush is going to New Haven: Dunedin's all-stars were named, which included Jordan DeJong, Chad Pleiness, Jesse Harper, Russ Adams and Tyrell Godwin. If Dunedin's two best pitchers (Bush and McGowan) weren't named, maybe it's because the league was informed in advance of their imminent promotion. Maybe I'm reading too much into things, but it would seem foolish to have these guys named to an all-star team and promote them a day later. Just a thought.
_R Billie - Friday, June 13 2003 @ 05:14 PM EDT (#100228) #
The FSL All-Star game is played tomorrow. So I assume all the teams in the league are on break from baseball for the weekend. There wouldn't be much reason that I can think of to hold Bush back from being promoted at the same time as McGowan. Unless there's something else at play with the way the pitchers' scheduled pitching days fall.
_Pete D - Friday, June 13 2003 @ 05:21 PM EDT (#100229) #
Mike, I think this serious might be more difficult than you purported... We're facing three quality starters, and the Cubs have won their three series' against AL teams (including the Yanks). The Cubs usually lose when they can't seem to produce offensively, so we have to hit these guys hard. If it's a pitching duel, it will definitely be tough on the Jays.

One of my friends is going to college up in Thunder Bay, and he says no one leaves the residence because there's nothing to do. But c'mon you wussies!! You can bowl, and curl... and.. other things.

I heard the Whiskey Jacks were bought out by a Japanese league... those sell-outs.
_Mick - Friday, June 13 2003 @ 05:32 PM EDT (#100230) #
"Nine times out of ten, I'm not going to hit a three-run homer".

I noticed this quote in last Sunday's papers and it immediately became one of my favorite Stupid Athlete Quotes of all time.

Memo to Erik Karros:
EK, if it's true that nine times out of ten you won't hit a three-run homer, it stands to reason that in a 600-AB season, you are good for 60 jacks and 180 RBI ... in addition to whatever you do with the other 540 at-bats.

My dear ol' dad used to teach statistics to college sophomores, and each year he'd start the first day by asking "What's 50 percent of 100?" then marvel at the number of students who pulled out pencils -- or calculators.

Yes, yes, I know what Karros meant.
Gitz - Friday, June 13 2003 @ 05:35 PM EDT (#100231) #

Did you pull out a pencil or a calculator?
_Jordan - Friday, June 13 2003 @ 05:48 PM EDT (#100232) #
There's now a separate thread on the promotions.
_Spicol - Friday, June 13 2003 @ 07:34 PM EDT (#100233) #
I've chimed in with my opinion on numerous other Canadian locales so it only seems appropriate I do so here as well....

Thunder Bay is the only city where you can spit on a downtown sidewalk and people say "Hey, good idea".
Advance Scout: Cubs, June 13-15 | 14 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.