Wednesday, March 30, 2005
follow the logic:
-- getting on base is not making an out;
-- making outs is the antithesis of scoring runs;
-- ergo, getting on base means scoring runs.
easy, huh? perhaps too easy. statistically valid?
the national league in 2004 sorted top-to-bottom in on-base percentage and runs scored is really quite close. is this statistical evidence?
more mathematically, if one takes the last three years of NL team statistics (2002-2004) and plots the ratio of runs/OBP against runs, one can correlate runs scored to OBP with an r-squared (a statistical measure of the degree of correlation between two sets of data) of .9262 -- which is nearer to 1.0000 (total correlation and dependency) than either batting average (0.8929) or slugging percentage (0.8204). on-base percentage is a more accurate indicator of run-scoring potential than either.
in fact, the only team really out of order in the 2004 resorting referenced above is... the cubs. how can that be explained? by abnormally high power output of the 2004 cub team (235 HR).
this led me to introduce a fourth correlative -- OPS. when the ratio of R/OPS is plotted against runs and subjected to an r-squared calculation, the result is 0.9312, the highest of the bunch.
so what can we conclude? essentially, that dusty is wrong when he says hitting is the thing -- and that he was allowed to be wrong last year and still score because his team hit 235 homers. this year, however, with sosa and alou missing -- a double hit, in that neither their 74 home runs nor their 124 walks have been convincingly replaced -- things are likely to be different.
this is a team which is likely to decline in OPS from last year's fifth best showing, and that may indicate a lot of difficulty scoring in 2005. but we shall see.
How smart is it to have a fragile pitcher throw 92 pitches in his first real game since March 9? Wood was unable to make his start last Thursday because of his bad back. Now the Cubs have him throwing nearly 100 pitches. He'll go again on Sunday against the minor leaguers and be ready next Friday to pitch the Home Opener at the Friendly Confines. Can this really go according to plan? I won't bet on it...
Cubs reduce roster to 30
Adios: Cody Ransom (traded to TEX for PTBNL); Stephen Randolph (released); Angel Echevarria and Calvin Murray(reassigned to minor league camp); Will Ohman (optioned to Iowa)
Looking at the Cubs current roster, it looks like David Kelton will be the odd man out as far as position players--unless Baker decides to only take eleven pitchers north. With only one healthy "innings eater"(Zambrano) I'll bet he takes 12. As far as pitchers go, if Mark Prior goes on the DL both Mitre and Wellemeyer will likely head north with Dusty's twelve man staff.
Monday, March 28, 2005
more on mitre
i know mitre is the anointed one du jour, and many are high on him and expect him to contribute this year.
but mitre pitches with a lot of guys on base -- a 1.39 whip in 2003 at west tenn, 1.32 in iowa last year. and it isn't his walk rate, which isn't terribly bad. the inescapable truth is that mitre simply gets hit. his career minor-league number of 9.04 hits/9 innings is very high in the context of successful major league starters, whose career minor league number is often closer to 7.5. he's never had a minor-league season (despite already having over five hundred innings under his belt) where he allowed less than 8.41 hits/9; that also is very unusual for a decent major league starter, even in just their first four minor league seasons.
mitre's also not a great strikeout pitcher, with 390 in 508 innings -- 6.91 K/9. but i think that of somewhat less concern, as -- while not in the class of the best cub pitchers -- this is still a respectable rate.
one can compare (unfavorably) mitre's propensity to give up base hits to bobby brownlie or reynel pinto -- or even angel guzman -- all of whom have come to eclipse mitre's rank in the potential pecking order.
it's also quite common to add one or two hits/9 on the career minors number in the majors. the only cub pitchers who approached 10.0 hits/9 in 2004 were a lame borowski (11.39), wellemeyer (9.99) and sergio himself (12.37). no one would call these performances tolerable.
i know his era seems low -- but in the minors, era is often low thanks to the smaller power numbers. and mitre is possessed of the vaunted heavy ball, which helps still more. and he hasn't been knocked out of the park in the majors either. and yet -- and yet -- he HAS been knocked AROUND it to devastating effect.
does any of this mean that mitre cannot or will never make it? certainly we can't predict the future. maybe this will be the year mitre figures it out. but i think that, barring such a turn of a corner, it would be prudent to limit expectations of mitre unless he shows greater ability. a projection on the order of current/recent cubs jimmy anderson (9.25), ryan dempster (8.68) or alan benes (9.14) seems more realistic than the likes of zambrano (7.81), clement (7.88) or wood (5.81).
Cubs acquire former White Sox catcher Mark Johnson
Hank Blanco must be nervous about his spot...
Andrew Jackson's Monday Nite CubCast
Mariners -versus- Cubs
8:05 Chicago time
Television: Fox Sports Northwest (DirecTV channel 651)
Radio: 720 AM
CLICK ON COMMENTS FOR GAME THREAD
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Observations from Arizona
If you are a big baseball fan you cannot beat Spring Training in Arizona. Just in the Phoenix area you have 9 teams playing their home spring games. About 100 miles southeast of Phoenix you have 3 teams that call Tucson home. If you want to see Spring Training baseball Arizona is the place. Downtown Scottsdale has one of baseballs famous restaurants. The Pink Pony has reached legendary status among baseball fans. The Pony is a good ole fashioned booze and steaks place. I could just imagine Billy Martin or Harry Caray holding court at a table.
I saw the Cubs play 4 games. It's hard to make any judgements in Spring Training and over such a short period of time it's even harder. That being said here goes:
- POSITIVES THAT I EXPECTED - Nomar can hit. (That's a real news flash.) His wrist looks to be healthy. He hit 4 Homeruns in the 4 games I saw. Zambrano looked awesome in his two starts.
- SURPRISES - I was impressed by Jerry Hairston, Jr. Hairston hit better than I expected and he was really good playing the 2b. Todd Walker was playing really good defensively. I have complained again and again about Walker's d. But, he played really good. It's looking more and more to me like Dusty will play DuBois in LF against left handers. When Hollandsworth get's hurt hopefully DuBois will be the everyday LF.
- NEGATIVES THAT I EXPECTED - Sergio Mitre is just plain brutal. I don't expect anything from this guy. It doesn't look to me like Mitre will ever make it. Defensively the Cubs have big issues. Nomar is a liability in the field. He made 5 throwing errors in the 4 games I saw. The Cubs are still gonna strike out a ton. Patterson still looks fine in one at bat and confused in the next at bat. Burnitz is gonna be Burnitz. If he makes contact great. Making contact is difficult for Jer0my.
- OTHER STUFF - David Kelton is gonna be gone following the spring. I don't see how this guy makes the team.
- MINOR LEAGUERS - I wandered over to Fitch Park and watched the minor leaguers twice. Ryan Harvey was really hitting the ball hard. The guy is really thin. If he bulks up his legs he might be the Cubs power hitter late this decade. Felix Pie and Eric Patterson stood out. Matt Murton who the Cubs got in the Nomar deal had a couple of really good hitting sessions. Cub fans at Fitch Park were raving about Brian Dopirak.
It sure is enjoyable seeing the Cubs in Mesa. HoHoKam is a great spring home. The Cubs have a great setup in Mesa with Fitch Park just down the street. As a Cub fan and a baseball fan you owe it to yourself to get out to Arizona and enjoy a spring training sometime in your life.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
his next attempt at an outing will supposedly come during the regular season -- april 8, the home opener -- having put in just four spring training innings.
besides restating the obvious and what's already been said here and by steve stone, i'm not sure how to comment. except to shake my head and recount the need to get help in the bullpen fast.
but rereading the post that kicked this whole disaster off is a keen warning to those who really believe wood has "lower back tightness".
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
the kids in the pen
how can that be? after all, this team saw the flowering of jon leicester and michael wuertz last season, did they not? this team is giving wunderkind sergio mitre a long look in hohokam. this team has glendon rusch and ryan dempster to fall back upon. what's to worry?
in short: PLENTY.
let me say first that hawkins and remlinger have my unmitigated respect. these two are fine relief pitchers, and i have few worries about them. but they will only account for at best 150 innings of the 480 or so one must expect from the bullpen. so who else is pitching out there?
last season is was mercker, farnsworth, rusch, leicester and beltran. three of these five (mercker, sleepy and beltran) are gone, with beltran on the 60-day DL after elbow surgery, leaving 154.2 innings to be filled.
in writing last night, my next paragraph went:
enter joe borowski, who will likely end up the linchpin for the bullpen. he is the hopeful closer at this point, and it is no exaggeration to say that the cubs are depending on his arm for 70 quality innings, which would be seventy more than last year. barring that, if he could simply fill farnsworth's innings, that would help immensely. but even if jobo comes through with that big year, there's still 260 unaccounted innings.well, what a difference a day makes! the 'linchpin' of the pen is down for six weeks -- meaning that there's something like 280 innings still unaccounted for, even if borowski heals right.
maybe 60 are eaten up by the callups and the end of the bench in meaningless mop-up. with rusch presumably in the rotation to replace clement, 220 innings -- essentially the same innings pitched by mercker, farnsworth, leicester and beltran last year plus some extra work -- are to be split between dempster, randolph, leicester, wuertz, fox, wellemeyer and mitre. let's examine these pitchers.
fox is a veteran and a good pitcher -- the cubs are even trying him on for closer this spring -- but he's averaged about 31 innings a year over his career, including 43.1 in 2003 and 10.2 last year before succumbing to elbow pain. this is a recurrence of the pain that aborted his 1999 and 2001 seasons. fox could be a factor -- but the cubs must fear becoming reliant on him, given his difficult history.
dempster put a decent run together in relief for the cubs last year after august 1 -- but it was only 20 innings, after all. dempster's career numbers say all there really is to know about the guy. he struggles with control, can have a problem keeping the ball in the park, has occasionally been benched. could he eat innings for the cubs? probably. would they be innings you want him out there for? that's another question entirely, and quality issues will come back to keep dempster's role smaller than most seem to want to acknowledge, i think.
randolph would presumably be the second lefty as a means of filling mercker's role. problem is, randolph isn't mercker, who was brilliant in 2004 again. while posessing good stuff, randolph exhibits little control, walking 55 in 39 relief appearances for arizona in 2004. if he pitches as many as mercker's 53 innings of last year, the cubs will suffer for it.
this leads to the cubs young arms and the hopes of many. mitre has done nothing in the majors to merit discussion, despite his hype and wonderful minor league career. counting on a flowering right now seems to be asking a bit much for a player who gave up 71 hits and 20 free passes in 51 late-season innings last year. similarly, wellemeyer too must do something before he becomes anything more than a mop-up man. anything can happen, but more than 30 innings out of either of these two probably indicates problems for the cubs.
leicester wowed many in his rookie 2004, but a closer look at his splits indicates potential trouble ahead. a scintillating june and july gave way in august to a good old-fashioned beating, presumably as leicester began to become a known commodity. his post-ASB numbers -- 4.50 ERA/1.57 WHIP -- are probably in the range of what fans should expect this year.
wuertz has pitched only 29 innings in the majors, so it's hard to say what one should expect -- except that 50 innings of high-caliber performance is asking a lot. his splits reveal a very light workload spread throughout the season, which left him well-rested for his surprising semptember contribution. a greater role in the pen would be an end to that kind of rest and, possibly, performance.
all in all, the young cub arms in the bullpen are likely to prove troublesome and undependable. that's not a surprise, really -- very few first- and second-year relief pitchers are really strong contributors. the problem for the cubs, however, is that they appear to be in a position where they have to rely on them for something. remlinger, hawkins and borowski may be a good late-inning combination, but those three alone will not be enough. the 2003 squad saw jobo, farnsworth and remlinger contribute 70+ good innings -- and got near-perfect health in the rotation all year, a shining 43 innings from mark guthrie and 724 runs of offensive support, a 41-run surplus -- all to manage 88 wins. the 2001 version got rock-solid 75+ innings of work from farnsworth, fassero and van poppel -- and again near-perfect health in the rotation, a brilliant tom gordon and 76 net runs scored -- all for the same 88 wins.
looking around the league at the really solid teams, most go five-deep in really strong relief performers, with sub-4 (indeed, sub-3 for top squads like the cardinals and braves) ERAs over a minimum of 45 innings. given the possible offensive challenges of 2005, the cubs will probably need at least one of their kids to step into that role this year for any chance of significantly exceeding the .500 mark.
and what are the chances of that?
The Bullpen: Plan B
With Wood and Prior both huge question marks to start the season, I'll eliminate Dempster and Glendon Spahn. This probably puts the Cubs and you fans back into the horror that was 2004. LaTroy Hawkins will probably start 2005 as Cub closer. This is not what I want to see, but this is the "experienced-veteran/Dusty's guy" approach.
Once you get past Dempster, Rusch & Hawkins the options for Baker are Mike Remlinger and a bunch of young right handers, Wuertz, Wellemeyer, and Leicester. History tells us Baker won't go with one of the young guys. Jim Hendry's inability to make any upgrades to the Cub bullpen this offseason is going to bite this team. Now the Cubs are looking for a closer. The price just went up for Dotel and Urbina.
Monday, March 21, 2005
if you need a shot of optimism...
1) a healthy ryan dempster is still a ryan dempster with a career WHIP of 1.56 and ERA of 4.99. how high can expectations get?
2) the dominating starting staff -- even if it has a healthy wood and prior -- is still replacing matt clement's hard-luck 3.68 ERA with dempster and replacing the 2004 glendon rusch with the sparkling 3.47 ERA/1.23 WHIP in all likelihood with the glendon rusch of the career 4.93 ERA/1.45 WHIP.
3) joe borowski, mike remlinger and chad fox are all coming off arm troubles, and -- as we've discussed before -- the bullpen is only mediocre when healthy and will probably get more work this year.
4) nomar will be nice, but aramis is probably going to come back to earth a bit.
5) patterson, burnitz, hollandsworth and young jason dubois (if he makes the club with his impressive spring) may well constitute the worst outfield in the NL -- no blowing smoke about that, despite what our seventh president tries to spin. considering two of the cubs' top run producers occupied the outfield corners last season, that is a big difference.
6) defense remains a problem -- an important problem -- especially on the infield and especially if the bullpen sees more innings.
and most importantly -- mark prior's 2004 "achilles injury" was his elbow. the cubs have never really discovered what's wrong in there. larry rothschild can say things like "This is something he may have to learn to deal with regularly", and "... it shouldn't be a problem. Medication will calm it down" -- but he knows as much as you or i what is really going on mechanically in there, which is nothing. and how long do you imagine the cubs can or should trot the 25-y/o franchise pitcher out to the mound with consistent elbow pain -- pain debilitating enough to double his walk rate and raise his ERA by more than a run even after two months off -- of an indeterminate origin?
optimism... maybe it's merited. other teams have problems too, i know. but with its question marks in the outfield, the bullpen -- even in the assumed strength, the rotation -- this cub team is starting to look a bit too similar to cub squads past where it sometimes was hard to see the cheese through the holes.
can't be trusted?
"It just seems to me they can't be trusted," McCain told ABC's "This Week."pardon me for my persistent dubiousness and apparent insensitivity, but since when are the american people harmed by the insensitivity of their entertainers? are we going now to pass laws against poorly reworked orchestration? are we now going to pass laws against operas performed in english translation? are we now going to pass laws to persecute jerry bruckheimer generally? this concern for some conveniently nebulous "sensitivity" to the general welfare -- and, of course, unquestionably, for the children -- should compel them to do so under this strange calculus.
"What do we need to do? It seems to me that we ought to seriously consider ... a law that says all professional sports have a minimum level of performance-enhancing drug testing," McCain said.
"I was a little dubious about the necessity of having hearings because I had been told that baseball had installed a weak, but legitimate, regimen," McCain said. "I now applaud my colleagues in the House because what this highlighted was the absolute insensitivity of both the owners and the players to the American people."
but how long, i wonder, until we get a law against second-rate politicians barring them from put-upon moral concern and baby-kissing?
mccain's ostensibly pious sympathy also reaches out to tragic figure mark mcgwire:
He also offered advice to Mark McGwire, the retired slugger who repeatedly evaded questions about his and others' steroid use.because we all know that american heroes cannot sully their principles in duplicity for their own egregious monetary ends.
"The first thing Mark McGwire should do is get himself a new lawyer," McCain said. "I was saddened by what he had to say, and it's unfortunate because he's one of America's heroes."
i'm no fan of steroid use, and i think it has imbalanced the sport in a way that is akin to forsaking golf for a long-drive competition. and i've no sympathy for a baseball organization that has sought refuge from competition in this same government by hiding itself behind the blatantly wrong 1922 antitrust exemption.
and yet -- congressional intervention over the matter of steroids is merely a pretext by which the federal government can extort from baseball a measure of protection money. i know of no clearer way to state it. it will not fix the problem of performance enhancement -- a problem that has no regulatory solution for so long as the science of performance enhancement continues to advance -- but will certainly direct a stream of funds at government to shut them up about it.
this is how congress works. this is how john mccain works. and it is at least most of the reason why baseball is averse to congressional regulation -- not out of any moral virtue, but a desire to keep their money.
i'm convinced that the ownership particularly could care less about performance enhancement -- they will find a way to market their product no matter how the product is modified. steroids were a convenience that baseball capitalized upon -- "chicks dig the longball", you remember. but they might just as happily raised the mound back to 1968 standards and sold randy johnson and roger clemens rewriting the other side of baseball's historical ledger to bring baseball back out of post-strike antipathy. perhaps they chose to encourage what they believed to be the easier path to resurgent popularity and profitability -- but they certainly chose the most opportune one.
and now -- cue the literary irony -- some politicians sit in judgment of that? hardy har har.
so pardon me if i don't get step onto my high moral soapbox and declaim the right of congress to protect the sacred moral purity of the people and the nation. no one has done more to destroy those things -- to the extent they ever existed -- than those who now facetiously claim to defend them.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Cubs infield defense
This spring the talk has focused on how good the Cub infield will hit. They hit great on Sunday. Garciaparra had two HR's and 3 RBi. Before we get ahead of ourselves and start making the comparisons to Santo, Kessinger, Beckert and Banks we have to consider there is another half to game of baseball. "Defense wins championships" and "strong up the middle" are cliches for a reason. The Cubs are going to find it very difficult to win games if their defense routinely gives 29 or 30 outs per game.
Besides Derek Lee the Cub infield defense is very poor. Ramirez had an outstanding year defensively in 2004. I doubt he will repeat that. We all know about the problems Todd Walker has at 2B. The talk in Boston was what the BoSox lost offensively they made up for and then some with the defense of Orlando Cabrera.
This is not a permanent solution but it may help. I'd like to see Walker in LF and get Jerry Hairston in at 2B. Hairston is smooth around 2B and might take some of the pressure off of Garciaparra at SS. It won't happen. But hey, it can't get much worse than the performance on Sunday.
Mitre didn't get nay help from his defense on Sunday but he did not look like a 5th starter option for the Cubs. Mitre is not even Frankie Castillo. If Wood and/or Prior are going to be out for awhile hopefully Jim Hendry is ready to scan the waiver wire and find the 2005 version of Glendon Rusch.
Where have you gone Luis Montanez?
About 45 minutes before the game at HohoKam I drove south to Fitch Park. Walking up I was excited to see the Cubs young players hit. I watched players on one diamond and looked over at the other. In the box was a #13. It couldn't be could it? Was it him? (I felt like the guy at the end of the Eight Men Out suspicious of the CF in a bush league game.) Now I just gazed in amazement as the 23 year old 2B Luis Montanez took his cuts.
The Cubs onetime shortstop of the future and #1 pick in 2000 (3rd overall) has never made it past A ball. When he was drafted Montanez was compared to another Miami shortstop A-Rod. As I watched Montanez hit I couldn't help but think how disappointed he must be. Such high expectations surrounded Montanez. Now his future in baseball is up in the air.
The tale of Luis Montanez makes you wonder why baseball teams give such large signing bonuses to high school draft picks. Take a look at the 2000 draft. For every A-Rod there are a bunch of Luis Montanez'.
Friday, March 18, 2005
time to take some chances
but the truth is that the cub bullpen is weaker this year than last (all the moreso with farnsie's "replacement" headed to iowa) and was not a world-beater last year. there are some quality arms out there, such as remlinger and hawkins (who should be given yet another shot at closing, imo). you can hope for the best out of joe borowski and jon leicester, but you may not get it. and leaning on the likes of todd wellemeyer, michael wuertz, stephen randolph and ryan dempster is a dangerous game, methinks, and one the cubs aren't likely to win.
the cubs are already in an bad way with the starting staff -- phil rogers is stealing from us, btw -- and the bullpen is going to see more work because of it. the argument could easily be made that the cubs pen was actually protected last year by throwing so few innings -- 458.1, second-least in the NL. it's time to take some chances.
koch has something to prove. he still tosses mid-90s, albeit with a pretty straight ball. and he says he understands that he has to pitch, rather than throw. this might be a guy that greg maddux could help. and the cubs plain out need the help.
whether they know it or not yet is another thing.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Sammy tells panel...
"I am clean."
"Everything I have heard about steroids and human growth hormones is that they are very bad for you, even lethal," Sosa said in his prepared testimony. "I would never put anything dangerous like that in my body."
"To be clear," Sosa added, "I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs. I have never injected myself or had anyone inject me with anything. "
Okay Sammy. I'm glad to see you took this real serious.
More on Selig, Fehr, Canseco, & McGwire's testimony later.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
San Francisco Chronicle reports Dusty will be gone when contract expires after 2006
Disgruntled Chicagoans just don't get Dusty
Tuesday, March 15,
Scanning the Cactus League and some people under the microscope: Dusty Baker: The bottom line is that Dusty has had chances to win that long-awaited championship, and his teams haven't come through. Life could be worse. Over the long haul, it should be enough that his strengths (character guy, players' manager, solid instincts) overshadow some horrific autumnal episodes.
It's not enough at all. The Chicago media can't let go of last season, insisting on pinpointing the blame. After pushing for Sammy Sosa's departure - - absolutely the right move on the Cubs' part -- writers and broadcast outlets are now obsessed with Sosa: his feud with Baker, how he will be missed, who's winning the spring training war of words.
Good lord, get over it. Sosa is one of the great prima donnas of our time (he was late for his physical in Baltimore because he insisted in riding in a limousine, not a conventional car). Baker protected this guy like a father covering his bratty son's tracks. Now the media has gone totally insane, to the tune of, "OK, Dusty, you got rid of Sammy; let's see what you do now."
The fact is, Baker may not have enough winners. Two years ago, after his weak Game 7 performance against Florida in the NLCS, Kerry Wood admitted, "I choked." Mark Prior, speaking of last season's collapse, used that same word about the team. That should be the biggest of Baker's concerns, not a bunch of idiots calling him a dummy.
One of Dusty's friends, a white man, recently told me, "I hate to say this about my town, but a lot of people in Chicago don't want to see a black man in a job that responsible." That's a loaded statement, but don't dismiss it unless you've walked in Baker's shoes. Racist, impatient or just plain dumb, people in Chicago don't get Dusty. They don't deserve him, either. Win or lose, he will be long gone as soon as his contract expires in two years.
Don't wait two years Dusty if you wanna leave!
Dusty has put his Bay Area writer-friends to work. Now the opponent is gonna be Chicago and Cub fans. Dusty always has an alibi and an excuse. Mr. Jenkins(Dusty's mouthpiece) can use the excuse of racism and paint Chicago as a Midwest backwards town. Maybe that flies in the Bay Area. (That plane won't even get on the runway at O'Hare or Midway.)
Chicago has a lot of problems Mr. Jenkins(Dusty). We have big city crime, we have a public school system that needs to be fixed, we have a Czar running city hall, we have a billion dollar park downtown that our kid's kids' will pay for, we have scandals every week in our government offices, etc.. We know Chicago ain't perfect. As a sports town our problem is believing in every Manager that says they've come here to build a winner. That's what Dusty, Jauron, Baylor, Wannstedt, and all of the rest have told us.
Dusty Can't Handle Chicago
Baker is too thin-skinned to handle the Chicago media. If Baker was not ready for media and fan scrutiny, why did he come to Chicago? The facts are the facts. Baker came to the Cubs touted as a manager who could handle superstars and keep the clubhouse happy. All of that blew up in 2004. The team became unlikeable and blamed the everbody (except themselves) for blowing the wild card. On the field Dusty Baker has not managed worth a damn since he has been in Chicago. If Kerry Wood "choked" in game 7 of the 2003 NLCS, it was Baker who choked in game 6.
Dusty's unnamed white friend
Why didn't Mr. Jenkins publish the name of Dusty's white friend who called Chicagoans racist? If somebody's gonna make racist allegations in print, I'd at least like to know who's making the allegations.
If Dusty's nameless white friend would like to comment I'd love to hear from you.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
I'm supposed to b e worried about my brackets and the alma matter...
Almost everything that you hear out of spring training is sugar coated (just another reason not to believe the Cubs on Wood and Prior). That is probably why Steve Stone's take on Prior and Wood in today's Bright One is really refreshing. Stone (who will be broadcasting on ESPN according to Goodbye 1908... ) had this to say on Prior:
On those who've questioned Prior's toughness, Stone said: ''I won't name names, but coming out of camp last year at times was [the opinion] that Prior probably wasn't tough enough. That he had to pitch with pain. That he has to go out there, that's what major-league pitchers do. I have to believe if he's telling you he's hurting, he's hurting. And because they can't find a cause doesn't make the pain any less real. So you've got a multimillion-dollar talent, you want to keep running him out there and saying he's not tough enough? Well, I'll tell you what: Let him go and see if anybody else picks him up.''
The Stone Pony saved his greatest criticism for #34:
''Wood has shown no adaptability,'' Stone said. ''He wants to throw the ball 95 to 96 [mph]; he wants to throw it at times through the catcher. When he loses his mechanics, he can't get them back again. Somebody is going to have to tell Kerry the object of the game is to pitch. That's why they call you a pitcher. If not, they call you a thrower. And if they call you a thrower, and if you keep saying you can't change your mechanics, and if in fact your mechanics are partially responsible for you getting hurt every year, you've got a couple of choices: You can take all the money you've made --which is a bundle -- and you can go sell cars. Or you can make some adjustments and try to stay around this league for 10 years.
Man, I will sure miss Stoney on the television broadcasts. He never would(or could) have said anything like this while working for the Tribsters. I cannot wait to hear Stoney on the Score after Dusty mismanages a ballgame this summer. Dusty thought he could chase Stoney's criticism out of town by getting him off of the television broadcasts. In a funny way he took the muzzle off of Stone.
Speaking of the Cub broadcast booth, Len and Brenly have a blog! Everybody does, right Paul Sullivan? Visit the blog and welcome Len and Brenly to Chicago.
I'll try and focus on my brackets. Feel free to suggest who I should have in the Final Four...
Monday, March 14, 2005
Fragile Prior will miss his next start
The Cubs are now looking at a starting rotation on Opening Day of Carlos Zambrano, Greg Maddux, Glendon Rusch, Ryan Dempster and Sergio Mitre. Honestly ask yourself how long the Cubs can get by with that group of starting pitchers.
Sunday, March 13, 2005
Wrigley netting to be permanent...
If it wasn't for Fran Spielman of the Sun-Times you would never know what MacPhail's men are planning next at Clark and Addison. Today we learn that the Cubs answer to the falling concrete is to install netting that will be "much more attractive". The nets are intended to be permanent. Here's what one Tribster told Spielman:
"It'll be much more attractive and much closer to the skin of the rafters. It'llThis is really hard to understand. The Cubs are so concerned with their 1,700 extra bleacher seats that they are avoiding the major work that is needed on the Grandstand. The netting is just going to allow the Grandstand to fall into greater disrepair, before the Cubs finally have to consider ripping down the current upper deck and rebuilding.
be pressed up tight with the goal of trying to have it assimilate the color of
the concrete it's protecting. You really won't be able to see it," said a Cubs
official, who asked to remain anonymous.
I wonder if the Genius will keep defending Mark McGwire? The evidence against McGwire is starting to pile up. Today's NY Daily News goes so far as to tell the public what Big Mac was taking in the early 90's:
Here's a look at the steroid cocktail FBI informants say Mark McGwire took
to become big in the '90s:
1/2 cc of testosterone cypionate every three days
1 cc of testosterone enanthate per week
1/4 cc of equipoise and winstrol
v every three days, injected into the buttocks, one shot for one cheek, one shot
for the other
Many of us knew McGwire and Sosa were not normal in 1998 and beyond. The fact is these guys are not gonna say anything to damage their legacy--as tainted as it might be. You have to go after the Manny Alexander's of the world to get something in these investigations. Get Manny the Mule in front of the Commission on Thursday if you want answers. You know with Uncle Bud, Don Fenr, Sahm, Palmeiro and the rest you're just gonna get the typical dog and pony show.
Saturday, March 12, 2005
Cubs make roster moves & Review Brenly and the other guy...
Bill Holden's walk from Arizona to Chicago is approaching Dallas/Fort Worth. Bill started walking on January 11th in Arizona. He'll arrive at Wrigley Fd. on June 30th. That's 2100 miles. You can track where Bill's at on This Old Cub.com. All proceeds from Bill's walk will support JDRF.
Tell 1060west your thoughts on CHIP & STONEY's REPLACEMENTS
Cubs vs. Angels on WGN TV & Radio today @ 2:00
Let us know what you think of the new broadcast team. Bob Brenly and the other guy (Len Kaspar). Click on comments below.
Friday, March 11, 2005
Some of these people are downright nuts. No offense to you, but everyone with a PC and a printer believes they’re a writer. That’s the worst aspect of the Internet Age — everyone has something to say and a blog to say it in.who -- us? lol! sullivan here proves his mettle as an actual writer by summing up the interweb perfectly in three sentences.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
but somewhere along the way, expectation met with reality -- and faltered. 1999 was a lost year for wood, and periodic arm problems since have taught cub fans to keep wood at arm's length. still posessed of a remarkable talent, wood remains an intimidating starter. but inexplicable rough patches continue to haunt him, when his control leaves him flailing on the mound.
now no longer young at 28, wood was pulled out of his spring start yesterday with shoulder tightness, ringing a familiar alarm bell for a pitcher who has made as many as 30 starts just twice in his seven big-league years.
some in the blogosphere point to gratification delayed -- and i can hope for that as well. but, until that hope materializes (or doesn't), we are left to rely on the pitcher we have.
and the golden lustre of that pitcher is gone. in truth, wood best compares at this point of his career to names like chan ho park and wilson alvarez. where peers like tim hudson have become consistently dominating and younger players like mark mulder and johan santana are reaping glory and awards, wood remains enigmatic -- never having won more than 14 in a season despite dominating stuff and maddening glimpses of untouchability.
does that mean that wood is worthless? certainly not; his health remains fundamental to any chance of success in 2005. but a realist with an eye to the future should view a pitcher like wood with a certain amount of antipathy, understanding that for all his promise he may never be any better than he's been -- indeed, that his career may not be very long at all. is it wise to make a long-term building block out of a player like wood? would a good year be a spur to rekindled hope or a reason to move him while his value is high?
i don't claim to know. but it seems increasingly clear to me that wood is unlikely to be the dependable ace that he once appeared certain to become.
Cubs fly Wood back to Chicago
Angel Guzman your table is ready.
Mark Prior's outing today looked like this:
3 IP, 4 H, 2 K's, 1 BB, 1 ER
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
The fragile nature of the Cubs starting staff
I was nervous last week when Mark Prior skipped a start to pitch a simulated game. The Cubs continue to tell us that everything is okay. Prior is scheduled to pitch three innings on Thursday.
As a Cub fan I can't help but think of last year. The injuries to Prior and Wood were devastating. The Cubs kept telling us that the pitchers were gonna be back soon. Their return dates kept getting moved back.
You couldn't believe anything the Cubs said about their players health in 2004. Hopefully, in 2005 we can believe the Cubs. Woody will be okay. Prior will be fine. Somehow, I just can't talk myself into believing them.
Bleacher renovation: (Spit and Polish)
Sitting with hundreds of Cubs fans in front of a panel stacked with aldermen, landscapers, architects, Tribune execs, and Cubs PR guys, it was hard for me to grasp exactly what the new Wrigley renovation means for the organization.
The proposed plan which will cost the Cubs 30-50 million bones, looks to be a great addition to an already iconic mecca for baseball fans across the country. But let's dissect the numbers...
An addition of 1790 seats, multiplied by 81 home games at $20 a seat, and an estimated $20 per game in concessions, total around $5 million in added revenues.
This means that this project will take 5-10 years to pay for itself.
Are we forgetting that the grand-stand is losing concrete already and the entire stadium is going to need renovation is the time frame it will take to make money on the proposed renovation? And can the cubs justify spending this money now,when they could be spending the 30-50 million on fielding a world champion team?
Yours truly posed this question at the meeting last night, and was given a good old-fashioned spit and polish chrome job by one of the Tribune companies best face men, Mark McGuire.
"I assure you that the Cubs #1 priority is to win a world championship of the Friendly confines of Wrigley field" McGuire chimed to the legitimately concerned question of a 1060west fan.
"With cub attendance peaking, isn't their a risk of adding on right before a decline in attendance, when the money could be spent on making the on-field product better suited to make a run for the championship?" 1060west MCav asked.
"We feel with attendance where it is, we act fast to meet the needs of the fan." Mr. McGuire responded, smiling and waving to the applause of the fans in the audience.
I hope he is right, and that the cubs are able to keep posting great attendance numbers, via winning games, and making the play-offs, and ultimately winning the World Series, but as a businessman second and a fan first...
I would like to see the Cubs spend the dough on the team, fielding a World Championship, team, then add the all the freaking bleacher seats the city can hold...
Spit and Polish all you want, this is all about the dollars, not about fielding a world championship baseball team at 1060west addisson.
Just a bit outside,
Sunday, March 06, 2005
Blogcast Sunday: Cubs vs Giants 2:00 CT
Sunday, Sunday, Funday!
Here are the lineups:
Jimmy Anderson P
Click on Comments for the Game Thread
Cubs -- 1 run, 4 hits, 1 error
Giants -- 10 runs, 17 hits, 1 error
THE GOOD -- Hollandsworth tripled
THE BAD -- Garciaparra made the Cubs first error of the spring. Jimmy Anderson and Michael Wuertz were roughed up.
PAT & RON MOMENT -- Ronnie missed the game because of an upset stomach. Hughes was joined by several different people. Jon Miller was pretty fun to listen to. Miller suggested they play all of the Sunday night games at Wrigley and Fenway.
Cubs record 3-1 in Cactus League
Friday, March 04, 2005
Cubs Official Release and Drawings on Bleacher Expansion
We have been talking about the Bleacher Expansion for so long that it has become an old story. On Thursday the Cubs released a press release and some new drawings of the bleachers and Wrigley Campus. My view has always been if it generates more revenue that will be put back into the club...it is good for the team. Many may disagree with this and I understand and appreciate your position. I love Wrigley Field and all of the nostalgia. I really hope that these additions will set the stage for long term on the field success for the Northsiders.
There's a good article on the windfall the Cubs will receive on Chicagosports.com. In this article sports consultant Marc Ganis says they Cubs additional revenue will be less than one would think:
The Cubs "historically have been one of the slowest clubs in adopting new
revenue-stream opportunities in the ballpark," said Ganis, president of
Sportscorp Ltd. "What they are doing now is playing a game of catch-up."
Marc, this team played only day baseball until 1988. Anyways, Ganis estimates that the Cubs will only net 40-45 cents from every new dollar generated from the improvements.
Here's the Official Release.
Here are the latest drawings of the changes.
The Cubs will have a meeting with the community on March 8, 2005. We'll let you know what happens at the meeting.
The Cubs moved their Cactus League record to 2-0. They roughed up Felipe Alou's Giants 8-3. Nomar(above in 1st inn.) and Dave Hansen(in 6th inn.) hit HR's.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
THE GOOD: Aramis Ramirez was 1-2 with a HR and 2 RBi. Todd Walker started a great 4-6-3 twin killing on Mark Kotsay in the bottom of the 3rd. Cub pitchers Zambrano, Mitre, Anderson, Ohman and Wuertz held the A's to one run.
THE BAD: Before Aramis' bomb, Nomar was hit in the wrist. Patterson led of the game with a K. In the 5th inning with two outs the Cubs tried a double steal with Cedeno successfully taking second but Hairston was gunned down at the plate on the backend of the attempt.
PAT & RON MOMENTS: Early in the game Ronnie told us how good he felt about Burnitz playing RF. He added that Burnitz had lost weight and looks to be in great shape. I couldn't help but wonder how Burnitz had lost the weight.
Later in the game we found out that Pat had bought Ronnie his lunch at the ballpark. Ronnie also told us that Todd Hollandsworth has the quickest bat he has seen since Billy Williams.
THE ATTENDANCE GAME: Pat won the attendance game.
CUBS CACTUS LEAGUE RECORD: 1-0
Dempster Utility Pitcher...I have an idea
Ryan Dempster could be stepping into the starting rotation, or the set-up role, and will even get time at the closing slot.
RyDem sat out most of last season, nursing a limp wing, and now is fired up and ready to step into any pitching capacity he is needed.
I don't think I am alone on this one, Dusty has a history of riding his starting pitchers, harder than Buffalo Bill Cody rode his pony in the early days of the US postal service.
All of this chatter about a utility pitcher got me thinking...So sit back and soak this one in.
With Prior, Wood, Maddux, Zambrano, Dempster, Hawkins, Borowski,Remlinger, Rusch.
This leaves a handful of pitchers in the pen, Mitre, Wellmeyer, Weurtz...
Couldn't we just let each of these guys pitch one inning every game???
With a nine-man nine inning rotation, you would stymie oppossing batters by switching it up on them every time they come to the plate. No need to wait for Dusty to ride a pitcher to his pending doom..
Game to Game the rotation changes the 9th man in the rotation sits 3 days, while one of the bullpen bandits replaces the 1st picther the next day and everyone gets bumped one inning...Genius..Why aren't I the manager of the Cubs, why aren't I the commissioner of the entire MLB?
The bullpen itself would be alive with 3 guys warming up through-out the entire game, this will also keep everyone awake in the pen, too bad we didn't try this when farnsworth was here, it might have curbed his late night frolics at the local watering holes.
Think of the possiblities, 9 man rotation, it might be the greatest invention since artificial turf, or corked bats, or undetectable steroids.
Let me hear your objections to this 9 man rotation that will surely revolutionize the game you once knew, and I will squadh the opposition and nay-sayers and prove my theories on a full season of PS2 '05 baseball. that is just like real anyway.
That is my infinite wisdom for today...Tune in next week when I think of a new way to revolutionize the sport....4 quadrant baseball fields that make foul balls obsoletet, everything is fair...
Just about outside,
Sandy Krum: whistle blower or rat?
Former Cub trainer Sandy Krum is among the shades of gray. Krum could be labeled a whistle blower or a rat depending on your point of view. Following an article in Wednesday's Bright One Krum(along with his lawyer) hit the talk show trail joining The Scores midday show. As Krum pursues a wrongful termination lawsuit against the Cubs his allegations threaten to cast the shadow of 2004 on the Cubs 2005 season.
According to Krum on August 15, 2004 he went to Cubs GM Jim Hendry and told him that Cubs head trainer Dave Groeschner was practicing without a license. That's a no-no in Illinois. Groeschner had been the third trainer in San Fran and came to the Cubs at the recommendation of the Cubs manager Dusty Baker. In addition to telling Hendry that Groeschner did not have the needed license to practice in Illinois, Krum gave Hendry a laundry list of 40 complaints of things he had seen in the Cub clubhouse. Krum and his lawyer would not reveal what those 40 complaints include.
After being fired at the end of the season, Krum claims that Cub manager Dusty Baker has phoned him three times. The last phone conversation is pretty unusual:
"He (Baker) said, 'You're not having suicidal thoughts or crazy thoughts, are you?'''
Krum said. "'You're not going to file a lawsuit [against the Cubs], are you?'''
Krum acknowledges that he knew he was committing career suicide when he walked into Hendrys office on August 15.
In today's Sun-Times Dusty claims that he was calling Krum because he was concerned for his well-being. "I felt bad for him because I knew how much he loved it,'' Baker said. "So I just called him to see if he was all right. I have known Sandy since he was a bat-boy kid.''
It's funny how the Cub manager found the time to phone a fired assistant athletic trainer THREE times during the offseason. This is the same manager who didn't find the time to call Sammy Sosa and clear up their differences until after the slugger was traded.
- Why is Dusty so concerned with Krum filing the lawsuit?
- What are the 40 complaints about what was happening in the Cub clubhouse?
- Will we ever find out?
While Krum prepares for life after Baseball, Groeschner has found his way back to San Fran. "Someone needs to take a good look at San Francisco and see what's going on and do a thorough investigation'' Krum states. With the connection Dusty's Cubs have to the Giants I find this quote fascinating. Barry Bonds' Grand Jury testimony and the steroid controversy that now surrounds the game makes me wonder how much the Cub manager knew in Frisco and what did he or "his guys" bring to the Northside.
If this reaches trial (I have real doubts that it ever will) Krum's attorney, Robert Fioretti would like the depositions be made public. "We would take depositions of everyone in the clubhouse, and I think the depositions should be open to the press,'' Fioretti said. You know the Tribsters and MLB have other ideas.
Is Krum a whistle blower? Is Krum a rat? Is Krum just trying to cash in on baseball's offseason blackeye? Many shades of gray exist in the baseball world today.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Santo comes up short
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
#10 is due
Last week I popped in the DVD of This Old Cub. I know that it has been written about over and over again. But ladies and gents, it's time for Ron Santo to take his place in Cooperstown next to Fergie, Ernie, & Billy. When you look at third sackers only Mike Schmidt is clearly above Santo. Santo's numbers compare favorably with the numbers of HOF third baseman Brooks Robinson and Eddie Matthews (players who played in Santo's era).
What keeps Santo out of the Hall? There are a bunch of theories:
- The Cubs of the late 60's already have three players in Cooperstown, even though they never won.
- Santo was loved in Chicago, but nationally he was virtually unknown.
- Many of Santo's NL peers hated his antics on the field. His clicking of the heals in 1969 was considered show boating -- an absolute no-no in those days.
- The Don Young incident.
- Many don't like that Santo and Tribune owned WGN TV & Radio have been campaigning for his induction for years.
Everything listed above is crap.
Santo deserves his day in Cooperstown. He's not being voted on by snot nosed writers who only know Santo as the Cub fan broadcasting games on 'GN Radio. With Santo's peers making the call he should be in. Hell, when you watch This Old Cub every veteran in the HOF claims to have voted for Ronnie.
It would be great to see Ronnie finally get the call on Wednesday. History tells us that it won't come that easy for #10. It's a shame. One day Ronnie will get the call. I hope the Veterans do it soon enough so Ronnie can answer the call and enjoy his moment in upstate New York.