Archive for August, 2004

Giving Corey his Due

Wednesday, August 25th, 2004

Earlier in the season, Corey earned a one week reprieve from my acrimony for a nice bunt. In late July, he earned a full month’s reprieve for good play. With tonight’s big homer and his recent performance he has earned a reprieve for the entire season.

Furthermore, I take back all the bad stuff I said about the guy all year. He has officially converted me. I am a grumpy, bitter man whose personal scars do not heal cleanly; I have, since his overhyped entry into the major leagues, vented my pain on this undeserving player. I’m sorry, Mr. Patterson. I hope you can forgive me.

There. That was hard to do, but I feel good having done it. Mr. Patterson has forced me to re-evaluate where I stand on all the Cubs’ key players. Here are the results, using the Out of the Park Baseball five-star rating system. The dislike/like line is just to the left of 3 stars.

Michael Barrett, C:

I’m still not sold on this guy. I have too many images of his hamfisted defense in my head and there’s too much statistical evidence to think this year’s offensive output is not a fluke. I hope I’m wrong.

Derrek Lee, 1B:

Lee is my favorite current Cub, if only because his nickname is Rodan. Also because his head looks too small for his body.

Mark Grudzielanek, 2B:

Ol’ Double Dinger’s been knockin’ the ball around recently, but as far as I’m concerned, his only role on the Cubs team is keeping Todd Walker out of the lineup. And that’s bad.

Todd Walker, rotting on the bench:

A long time ago some jerk in Louisiana heard I was a big baseball fan and he said, “oh yeah, who’s the best second baseman right now?” I, of course, said the great Ryne Sandberg, but he, an LSU fan, picked his nose and said, “Nope! It’s Todd Walker!” Walker was still in college at the time; the idea of some aluminum-bat-wielding jerk being better than Ryno torqued my wrench, so I didn’t give Walker a chance — not until Boston did I consider him a major league hitter. But since he’s been a Cub I’ve been in his corner; a lefty who gets on base is EXACTLY what the Cubs’ lineup lacks. Put him in, Dusty!

Nomar Garciaparra, SS:

The anti-Grudz. All this guy has to do is play; his value in not letting the Cubs put feeble weiners like Ordonez and Neifi and A-Gone and their ilk in the lineup is enough. Statistically, he’s pretty brutal defensively, but with a strikeout-heavy pitching staff he’s in the right place. He only gets 3 stars because he’s not healthy, and I’m not convinced he will be through the rest of the season. Should he start eatin’ spinach and shake off the injuries, he’ll go to a 5 star Cubbie.

Aramis Ramirez, 3B:

I’ve got nothing but praise for the Musketeer. If he keeps it up he might pass up Rodan as my favorite Cub.

Moises Alou, LF:

I’ll give the guy props for hittin’ 32 bombs this year. But he looks older than Paul Newman when he’s playing LF and the guy’s OBP is below the league average. I expect more from Moisty.

Mr. Corey Patterson, CF:

3 stars and rising. Two months ago he’d be one star. Now he’s my little buddy.

Sammy Sosa, RF:

He’s trying very hard to forge an Ernie Banks legacy for himself. There’s no doubt that he has had a fabulous career as a home run hitter and in through maybe ’97 to ’01 he was magnificent. Now he’s starting to put up Kingmanesque numbers. He still smiles and makes like Chico Escuela, but I’m just not buying it anymore. Especially at that price.

Mark Prior, SP:

So what if he’s been inconsistent this season. I have no doubt that he’ll be a star for the Cubs for a long time. I can’t have faith in guys like Barrett because I’m using it all up on Prior.

Carlos Zambrano, SP:

Zambrano is the go-to guy on the staff this year. When he takes the mound, I’m relaxed, the same way I was during Maddux’s turn on the hill when he won his first Cy Young with the Cubs or Prior last year. “Zambrano” is Spanish for ACE! And Carlos is Spanish for “I am the…!”

Kerry Wood, SP:

I like watching him take the mound, but he’s the biggest question mark on our staff. As Yogi Berra might say, “he’s not as good as he oughta be, but he’s good enough to be really good.”

Matt Clement, SP:

Clement’s been just fabulous this year. If the Cubs do take the Wild Card (as they should), I’ll put good money that we’ll be seeing Clement coming out of the pen. Which is a NASTY thought. But at any point in the season Clement’s been one of the top 3 on the Cubs’ starting staff. It’s a shame that the offense usually takes a siesta on his turn to pitch.

Greg Maddux, SP:

No complaints here. Go get ’em, Greg. He gets “only” three stars because he’s buried so deep in this talented pitching staff that I’m not as excited as I thought I’d be to see him pitching for us.

LaTroy Hawkins, RP:

At the beginning of the year I was really excited about getting him. Now that he’s shown that he’s as shaky as a maraca in closing situations, I just don’t care about him. He’s no Bruce Sutter (he’s barely Dick Tidrow), but neither is he El Pulpo.

The rest of the bullpen guys are just too dicey to comment on. I have high hopes for John Liecester and Wellemeyer. These two dudes should help us save some money on the bullpen next year.

All in all, I feel darn good about the Cubs’ chances of hanging on to the ugly stepsister spot for the playoffs. It’s amazing what a tonic a three-game home series sweep of a second division team is for an ailing soul.

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I’ve got this feeling

Wednesday, August 25th, 2004

One of the things I have never done this season is give up. I have had my share of frustrations and heartbreaks with this team, but I am proud to say that I have believed all year that this team capable of good things. All year, Dusty has been saying that this team has not hit it’s stride, and that we need to be patient. So, I was patient. Now, I am seeing this team play some pretty good baseball. Granted, most of these wins are against teams we should be beating, but a win is a win, no matter who you beat. We went on a run like this last year and ran down to the wire with the Astros. I have this feeling that this year we are going to go on a similar run to the playoffs, but this time it will include running away with the wild card.

This team is clicking on all cylinders for once. We are scoring runs early with Corey at the top of the lineup. Steve Stone had this to say during the game last night after Corey ran the bases like a stud and slid into 2nd base ahead of a throw.

“We are seeing a player develop right before our eye” ~ Steve Stone

I am excited to see what is going to happen down the stretch. Everything just seems to be going right. I mean, my god, Matt Clement even got a win last night. If that’s not a strange sign from above, I don’t know what is.

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No More?

Monday, August 23rd, 2004

As we await news of Nomar Garciaparra’s MRI (which the Cubs get at 25 % off because of their inclusion in the “Frequent Scanner” club) a little move was made that at the time seemed kind of funny but, in that Rey Ordonez kind of way, now comes to the forefront and portends great sorrow. The Cubs signed Neifi Perez a few days ago. Right about the time Nomar started ridin’ the pines.

Feast on these stats and tell me that, if they could, the Cubs would not joyfully clone Rey Ordonez 24 times and fill the whole roster with him.

Now, IF this MRI turns out bad, and IF Neifi Perez ends up Ordonezing for the Cubs, THEN I will make lots of hating sounds.

They say that when you shoot yourself and die, that you lose control of your bowels. If the ivy at Wrigley Field turns brown early, you will know why.

UPDATE:

1) Okay, I admit it. Maybe Barrett’s not turning into a pumpkin.

2) It turns out, a la Prior, that it’s Nomar’s wrist, not his achilles tendon, that is the real problem. And since he played today, maybe he won’t go on the DL after all. Cross your fingers and hang on to those valuable Neifi Perez rookie cards.

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Victory for the testosterone boys

Monday, August 23rd, 2004

After Aramis Ramirez hit a big homer, Barrett got plunked by Oswalt. Barrett walked toward the mound, and both benches cleared. Later, a wild Kerry Wood hit his third batter of the game and got ejected.

Had Barrett kept his cool at the plate, Wood woulda gotten an easy victory. He hasn’t had many of them this year. Thirty years ago the batter would have shrugged his shoulders at getting hit and trotted to first. Now it’s a challenge to a guy’s manhood. It didn’t cost the Cubs any games in the standings, but it costs the game in a larger context. The idea that 1) a pitcher can feel it’s his right to plunk a batter after after a homer, and 2) that the hitter can act like the pitcher just raped his dear old grandmother after getting hit by a pitch, is symptomatic of a disease that runs through MLB: guys think they’re bigger than the team. Even an MVP only nets a team five to ten games in the standings, but every Jose Macias thinks he can strut around like Simba after an inside pitch.

The agents that fill Barrett’s head with the idea that he’s so precious a commodity that he oughta think about charging the mound, and the union that supports that representation, serve both to emancipate major league players and alienate them from their fans. The burden is upon the players’ union, and EACH INDIVIDUAL PLAYER, to improve their image, thus raising the game and hiking their salaries, because the MLB owners ain’t gonna help; they don’t seem to realize that tearing down said players HURTS them long-term.

Regardless, Cubs win. Take all the squabbles and hoo-hah away and that’s all that matters.

I might have set a record for the least focused rant in blog history, and for that I apologize.

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UGH

Sunday, August 22nd, 2004

Last night’s loss was like a swift shot to the stomach that knocks the wind out of you. Hopefully that only applies to fans, because this team can’t afford to play like that again today. Kerry Wood has to step up today. We need 8 innings from him, and a big enough lead that we don’t have to see Latroy trot in.

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