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Oh, Hill, And Open Thread: Cubs vs. Cardinals, Friday 7/28, 1:20 CT

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I suppose you have all been sitting patiently staring at your monitors this morning, waiting to see... "What's Al going to say about Rich Hill?"

So, I'm going to be nice. This was his tenth major league start. It was the second time in the ten starts that the Cubs actually won the game, 5-4 over the Cardinals last night. (The other was his first ML start, almost a year ago to the day, July 25, 2005 against the Giants, a game he was removed from trailing 2-1, and the Cubs came back to win 3-2 in the last of the 9th.)

So that's ten starts; the Cubs are 2-8 in those starts, and Hill is 0-6 with four no-decisions.

I noted in the comments in last night's game thread that several of you thought Hill should have been left in to work out of the fourth-inning jam. Sorry, but excuse me? After having thrown 83 pitches to get ten outs, you want to leave him in? As has been the case in every start I've seen, Hill simply was all over the place, occasionally getting a Cardinal to swing at a 72-MPH breaking pitch, but mostly just issuing walks and getting hit hard. I'm not going to say "told you so", but seriously -- what's the point? As suggested in this diary, why not bring back Jerome Williams?

Incidentally, one of the regulars in my friend Ron's LF group (the ones that you often see sitting right at the curve of the "well" there) got hit square in the face by Juan Encarnacion's 2nd-inning HR off Hill, which was a line drive that never got much more than 20 feet off the ground. He was taken away on a stretcher and went to Illinois Masonic Hospital complaining of vision problems. If I find out anything further about him today, I'll let you know.

Speaking of HR, you might have seen us on TV when Michael Barrett hit his bomb onto Waveland in the first inning -- it flew directly over our section, with me standing up holding my arm up (I have no idea why, because it was at least 20 feet over my head), and Mark wearing a yellow T-shirt and Cubs road cap.

As you know if you live south or west of Chicago, huge tornado-generating thunderstorms pounded that part of the area in the late afternoon and early evening. But at the ballpark, it rained for about five minutes, and all we were treated to other than that were some weird-looking cloud formations, a purple-and-orange sunset, and a couple of wind shifts which actually made it pleasant out, and the baseball was also quite pleasant. Todd Walker had a "Trade Me Now!" game, with his sixth HR, and a couple of very nice defensive plays; Aramis Ramirez also played great defense, and the Cubs won for the seventh time in ten meetings with St. Louis this year (go figure: 7-3 vs. the Cardinals, 33-58 vs. everyone else) despite some serious mismanagement of the bullpen by Dusty Baker.

Yes, that's right, there's a slam at Dusty Baker. It would help, of course, if the starting pitcher could go more than 3.1 innings -- but if the Cardinals had tied the game off Ryan Dempster (something he seemed interested in helping them accomplish, allowing two hits before a nicely turned DP ended the game), all Baker had left in the bullpen for extra innings was Scott Eyre.

But, a win's a win, and I refer you to the "Baker will stay" diary for discussion of the announcement that Dusty will finish this season. In that article, Jim Hendry is quoted as saying:

"But I felt like we should put that [issue] to bed for now and very briefly after the season is over I'll try to move expediently on making a decision on what direction to go."
Which, to me, is a veiled way of saying exactly what I advocated earlier this week -- let the guy finish the year with a little dignity, and then move on to someone new.

I wanted to comment also today on Teddy Greenstein's sports media column; he goes into detail on Tim Kurkjian's bold statement earlier this week that the White Sox were "extremely close" to acquiring Alfonso Soriano, which has turned out to be not true. Greenstein writes:

One of the challenges is figuring out which sources to trust.

"There's so much misinformation out there," he said. "You get something from a general manager and then call another GM with that piece of information, and he says: 'Where did you get that? It's not even close.'"

When a source told him the Sox were on the verge of landing Soriano from Washington, Kurkjian filed a television report that picked up.

And this, my friends, is what I've been trying to tell you about the sources that I have as well. I do trust the ones I have; I know how they get their information, and even though the two biggest things I've posted here (the A-Rod "discussions", and the Todd Walker to the Giants possible deal) didn't happen -- it doesn't mean that the information wasn't correct at the time I got it.

Incidentally, I asked one of my sources last night if Hendry is still working on deals, and the one-word answer was "nonstop". And I believe him, especially after reading this quote from Paul Sullivan's article:

"Maybe by [Monday's trading deadline] if a couple of guys aren't here anymore, then it'll open up some playing time for somebody else," Hendry said. "I'm not going to make my final judgments on every one- or two-run loss or win that we have between now and October."
That sounds like Hendry DOES want to rid this roster of people by Monday. It does NOT mean that the major, big-name acquisitions are going to be made by Monday -- because seller teams like the Cubs simply can't make such deals at the July deadline. I think the reasons for that ought to be obvious.

About trades, first, I'm not sure I believe this rumor, but I thought I'd pass it along anyway, a possible return of Juan Pierre to the Marlins -- and one of the players potentially involved in the return to the Cubs would be Renyel Pinto, who was part of the original Pierre-to-the-Cubs trade. As I said, I'm real skeptical about this one, but thought I'd let you all know. (Hat tip for this one to my SB Nation colleague Craig at the Marlins site FishStripes.)

Also this morning, there is another Greg Maddux to the Mets rumor, fueled along by the fact that Maddux has apparently given his tacit approval to such a deal. According to that article, it would save the Cubs $3.5 million (since the Mets would pick up the remainder of his contract).

I don't see this happening -- first, Maddux hasn't thrown all that well for a couple of months, and second, even given that, the Cubs aren't going to deal someone of his stature and get a couple of miscellaneous A-ball pitchers in return. Prediction here: Maddux stays.

Now, given the fact that there's a game in just a few hours, let's move on to make this the open game thread for this afternoon's contest.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Marmol
C. Marmol
vs. Jason Marquis
J. Marquis
3-4 W-L 12-7
4.50 ERA 5.62
41 SO 64
33 BB 46
7 HR 24
vs. StL -- vs. Cubs
Proof that wins mean nothing: Jason Marquis leads the National League in wins with twelve. He has the third-worst ERA of any pitcher who has enough innings to qualify. Part of that is because he has given up at least twelve runs in a game twice this season; that's the first time such a thing has been done since 1940. Marquis has allowed 24 HR this year and has never won in Wrigley Field. He did throw eight shutout innings against the Astros in his last start.

Carlos Marmol, after a good start to his career, has taken to walking people -- 22 in his last 20 innings over the last four starts, and he wound up winning two of those starts. If he can throw strikes and keep the ball down today, the Cubs could win their second in a row.

Michael Barrett, who would be second in the NL in batting average at .332 if he had a few more plate appearances (he's got 304; at 3.1 appearances per team game required to qualify, he'd need 313 as of today), is hitting .472/.525/.889 vs. the Cardinals this year, with 4 HR and 11 RBI in 36 AB. Only two catchers have ever won batting titles (Ernie Lombardi, NL 1938 and 1942, and Bubbles Hargrave, NL 1926 -- no, Mike Piazza never won one, not even when he hit .362 in 1997; Tony Gwynn won that one). But with Joe Mauer leading the AL, and Barrett having a shot, that'd be an amazing feat, catchers winning the title in both leagues in the same year.

Discuss amongst yourselves.