Tuesday, May 10, 2005


it's rare that our decisions in life are so quickly and thoroughly exposed as the malformed and idiotic mental effluent they are as has happened to dusty baker in the last few days. one almost must be moved to pity. no sooner had he installed dempster as closer and leicester to the rotation than the utter silliness of the notion was laid bare before millions on television over an appropriately dismal background of falling rain.

i want, in an existential vein of indifference brought on through emotional battery compounded by extreme cynicism, to say that i don't blame either player or even baker himself. these people are small actors on a larger stage. i don't want to go mystical on you, but did anyone imagine that a boston world series ring would be followed synchronistically by excellence on chicago's north side? the gods are benevolent; but they have their limits, and desire entertainment in the bacchanal of man's futility as well as that of his success.

leicester clearly isn't a major league starter. as was pointed out before, the novelty of the kid wore off in july 2004. now that teams have seen him and the book is out, leicester simply doesn't have the material for success. since august 1 of last year, he has thrown 31.2 innings, given up 26 runs (25 earned) and 39 hits with 21 walks against 27 strikeouts. that's a WHIP of 1.89 and an ERA of 7.10. the most surprising aspect of leicester's numbers is frankly the innings pitched. why is he still in the majors?

just as bad -- and maybe worse -- ryan dempster clearly isn't a major league starter *or* reliever. dempster has had 1019 major-league innings to testify before god and everyone that he isn't very good. an affable personality has perhaps kept him in clubhouses -- but, even granting that, he can be personable between long relief appearances. it's bad enough to give him the rock every fifth day. but to hand it to him in the fragile ninths? the notion transcends lunacy into sadism. it cannot be fathomed that the cubs options are so few as to necessitate giving ryan dempster a significant role on this pitching staff. and yet, this is where we are.

i noted yesterday that this team was conceived and constructed without the potential to score consistently. but that's only half the story. jim hendry also neglected to provide the team a bullpen that could win games. it's essential to understand that the injury to borowski is a mere sidelight of this problem. indeed, even if he had been healthy and effective, this team was still destined to rely on the toss of the dice for some 200 critical supporting innings from the start. menander's "alea iacta est" broke the roman republic, but it's a poor philosophy of general management.

fox's elbow injury was utterly predictable, as was dempster's futility -- and beyond them lay only shaky kids like leicester, wuertz, novoa, wellemeyer and bartosh.

this was an experiment destined to fail because it was poorly constructed. where the second tier of the bullpen was stocked in 2004 with solid relievers like mercker and beltran -- perhaps not great pitchers but players with a real chance of success -- this year's edition was designed to rely on these inexperienced and subpar performers. it was almost a no-brainer to start calling for bullpen help wherever it could be had even in march.

hendry and the cubs are now rumored to be eyeing help along the lines of felix rodriguez to danys baez and jorge julio to jose mesa to darren oliver. what's wrong with rod beck you ask? i don't know. the cubs aren't in a position to rule people out, seems to me.

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