A slumping Cubs squad squares off against a Pirates team already planted in place in sweet home Chicago.
Thanks to the vague benefits of interleague play, the Cubs came back to Chicago having endured a brief, ugly road trip to St. Louis and San Diego before jetting back to the Windy City to face a Pirates team that had been knocking around town over the weekend. In the course of losing two of three games on the South Side, the Bucs' offense had been shut out by Gavin Floyd and Clayton Richard, scratched out a run against Mark Buehrle, and barely slipped in a win to avoid the sweep with a ninth-inning rally off of Bobby Jenks on Sunday.
The Cubs had endured the even more humiliating indignity of six straight losses during their journey, in no small part because the offense managed five runs in total, a slump so complete it earned Kosuke Fukudome a mini-benching. When Ryan Freel is labeled a godsend, you know things aren't merely ugly, they're so coyote ugly that, where the offense is concerned, you're boxing helena. Things have become so desperate that consideration's been given to whether putting Alfonso Soriano back at second base might help punch things up on an otherwise punch-drunk ballclub. As such fancies go, I would suggest a trip to all of the brave talk about putting Soriano in center back when he signed. Thinking back on that, I suppose November's a time for dreaming, what with Christmas still in the future; in contrast, late May is when you're supposed to be settling in with what you have, not pretending that your left fielder's a transformer because you don't like what you've got now that he's long since out of the wrapper.
Despite bunting into a ninth inning double play the other night, the Braves' Adam LaRoche is having a nice season. Is it for real?
David Adam LaRoche was selected in the 29th round of the 2000 amateur draft by the Atlanta Braves out of Seminole State Community College. He was a pitching prospect when drafted, but the Braves converted him to offense. This looked like an intelligent switch in LaRoche's first professional appearance for Rookie League Danville, as he hit .308/.381/.507 in 201 at-bats, walking in just over 10 percent of all plate appearances.
For his efforts, LaRoche was promoted to High-A Myrtle Beach. As a 21-year old, LaRoche hit a paltry .251/.295/.361, with his walk rate dropping to 6 percent of all plate appearances while his strikeout rate climbed to almost 22 percent. He also only managed 7 home runs, matching the previous season's total in 271 additional at-bats.
The Braves pulled out a squeaker in a matchup of a veteran starter and a young pitcher making his second major-league start.
CF Willy Taveras
2B Eric Bruntlett
3B Morgan Ensberg
LF Mike Lamb
1B Jose Vizcaino
RF Jason Lane
SS Adam Everett
C Raul Chavez
P Ezequiel Astacio
If I gave you no other information, what would you deduce from
In preparing the annual top prospect list for Baseball Prospectus 2004, BP authors participated in the annual extended roundtable discussion of baseball's top prospects. The ranking and review process balanced translated statistics, scouting reports, and injury reports with the strong personal opinions of BP's finest…all with the goal of putting together the "best damn prospect list the world has ever seen." In Part I today we'll listen in on the discussion of the top prospects among pitchers, catchers, first basemen and second basemen. Parts II through IV will run Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. We'll also unveil the final list Tuesday, with the Top 50 prospects (we've expanded from prior years' Top 40) revealed. Rany Jazayerli will be along to discuss the Top 50 list and the process that went into compiling it in Tuesday night's Chat.