Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Maddux ain't about to walk away

Barry Rozner's column in the Daily Herald today gives Cub fans hope and a little fear. Rozner caught up with his old friend Greg Maddux via the telephone in Las Vegas. Contrary to what the Cubs field manager said last season the soon to be 40 year old Maddux is nowhere near hanging it up. He wasn't going to do so after the 2005 season, won't after the 2006, and will probably keep playing as long as somebody "gives him a shirt". Here's what Maddux said to Rozner about the retirement talk:

“They can assume anything they want. I’m not,’’ Maddux said with a hearty laugh as he left a Las Vegas golf course and headed for his kids’ school Tuesday afternoon. “I just told my wife (Kathy) yesterday that I need to have a good year so someone will give me a job and I can play again next year.

“That’s my thinking. If I do well enough, maybe I get to play again. I love it. It’s fun. I’m not ready to give it up.’’

So it looks to me like Maddux is primed to have a good season, so he can find a place to play next season(2007). My stance on this remains the same. As long as Greg Maddux wants to pitch there should be a spot for him on this ballclub. I know Maddux is not the pitcher he was in the mid-90's, still I will take him as a number 5 starter any day of the week. The problem in Maddux's latest stint with the club is that he has been forced to be more than a number 4 or 5. Here's more from the Rozner piece:

Overall, Maddux has at least done something no other Cubs starter has done, and that’s take the ball every time it was offered. In the last two years, Maddux is 29-26 with a team-leading 68 starts and 437 innings.

Only Carlos Zambrano, 16 years younger than Maddux, has as many wins (30-14), but he has fewer starts (64) and innings pitched (433).

As for Mark Prior, the 25-year-old is 17-11 in 48 starts and 285 innings, while the 28-year-old Kerry Wood is 11-13 in 32 starts and 206 innings.

It comes as no surprise that he's outpitched the injury riddled starters Prior and Wood. The fact that at 38 & 39 year old Greg Maddux has made more starts and pitched more innings than Zambrano, a pitcher considered to be a "horse" speaks volumes. Jim Hendry's inability to add starting pitching to this club has increased Maddux's value to this club for this year and 2007. Maddux is the only pitcher on this staff that you can count on to take the ball every fifth day. I look at the rotation as it stands today and I ask whether or not the Cubs can afford to let Maddux walk after the season.

The pitcher that some in Atlanta used to call the professor has a goal for 2006:

“I’d like to throw about 230 innings this year,’’ Maddux said. “I’d like to maybe be a little healthier this year than last year and if I can it’ll show up in innings."

Maddux has not done that since the 2001 season with the Braves. Still last year Maddux ate up innings for the Cubs, throwing 225 at 39 years of age. The competitive fire still burns in #31.

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