Got up early today to have some TV fun with the Monsters in the Morning on Comcast. Thanks again to Mike North, Dan Jiggetts and Jen Patterson for their hospitality. Of course, one of the subjects that came up was Alfonso Soriano, the leadoff man who shouldn't be a leadoff man.
Over his last 22 games, Soriano is 14-for-95, or .147. Worse yet, his OBP has slipped to .296, which is unacceptable for any leadoff hitter. For June, Soriano is 8-for-50 with an OBP of .250. Lou needs to move Sori down to sixth or seventh and hit Theriot first. And he needs to tell everybody involved that he's not going to change his mind in 48 hours.
Speaking of Theriot, he went to right field twice yesterday to drive in runs. Ryan is one of my favorite friendly sparring partners, and I asked him about going the other way versus trying to "drive" the ball, not that I have anything against Theriot driving the ball.
"I'm just basically hitting the ball where it's pitched," he said. "Traditionally, I've been able to hit the inside pitch the other way. In the last month or so, I have been taking that inside pitch and turning on it quite a bit. I guess to be able to do both of them would be ideal. Hopefully, I can continue to work on that."
I appreciate the good discussion on that topic here. Friend of the court and stats man non pareil Colin Wyers has weighed in that Theriot's "problems" of late are the least of the Cubs' worries, and Colin is right. However, Theriot hasn't taken a walk since June 9. For the month, he's 12-for-49 for a .245 batting average. His OBP for June is .296, and his slugging is .327. He's walked twice and struck out 12 times this month. For the season, Theriot has 18 walks and 39 strikeouts. Last year, he put up an OBP of .387, walking 73 times and striking out 58. His isolated power (slugging minus BA) of .147 is still way up from last year's .052. So that's definitely a good thing.
Ryan Freel is supposed to begin his minor-league rehab tonight for Class AAA Iowa. Freel has been on the DL since May 28 with a left-hamstring strain. It'll be interesting to see what the Cubs do when Freel is ready. They've already sent Bobby Scales down when Aaron Miles returned. Andres Blanco may get sent out when Freel returned, but Scales and Blanco (not to mention Jake Fox) have been much more productive than Miles and Freel, in his short time here.
Speaking of the minors, one pitcher flying quickly under the radar at Iowa is right-handed reliever Blake Parker. Scouting director Tim Wilken took Parker as a corner infielder out of the University of Iowa in his first draft with the Cubs, in '06. Parker began at Class AA Tennessee, and in his first 13 games at Iowa, he's gone 0-0 with an 0.69 ERA and 7 saves. The Cubs like his stuff and the fact that he displays good "mound presence" for being a pitcher for a relatively short time. One of my minor-league gurus who visits here often says Parker has a good changeup, which is impressive itself. A Cubs guy told me it's not out of the question Parker could even make it up to the big club sometime this year. Keep an eye on this kid.
The Cubs have 38 quality starts now. They're 22-16, and the starters have a 2.17 ERA in those games. Ted Lilly leads the pack, with 10 quality starts, and he's my pick to be the Cubs' (probably) lone all-star.
Enjoy the calm before this week's storm with the Sox (and let's not call it the "Crosstown Classic") and the Indians.