Archive for February, 2005

Stockpiling?

Thursday, February 10th, 2005


The last two Hendry trades make a fellah like me wonder if Mr. Hendry is stockpiling players some other team covets for an early June trade. Farnsworth’s trade value was high enough to get a former #1 draft pick (who, admittedly, hasn’t set the minors on fire) and garnered a replacement. The Sosa deal was motivated by getting anything back for the franchise’s leading jonron hitter, but apart from Hairston they just got a couple of turds which didn’t seem to fit their particular toilet bowl.

Perhaps Hendry has made inquiries and knows what some other teams are looking for to unload a big bat, and he’s making sure he can fulfill those requests…because it doesn’t do a lot of good for the Cubs to win 92 games and miss the playoffs for the next 3 years while keeping all of their prospects if they can keep a few and push the team into the playoffs…

I’m crossing my fingers that Scott Moore or Novoa was high on somebody’s list of players to have and that Hendry now has the cards to replace Sosa’s bat.

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Conversation with Pat Hughes

Monday, February 7th, 2005

Recently, I had the absolute priviledge of talking baseball with one of the best radio play by play guys in the game today. Pat was gracious enough to lend 30 minutes of his day to me and subject himself to my questions. I had every intention of providing a full transcript of the discussion, but alas, that task proved to be extreemly long and arduous. As a result, I am providing the audio of the interview, which in my opinion is better anyways. The only downside is for those with a slow connection to the internet. You may have to wait awhile, but I promise you it’s worth it.

As far as I know, the audio should work on all computers. It’s in MP3 format, so your computer should just use the default MP3 player to play the file. Please leave some feedback on the interview in the comment section. Enjoy!!!!!!

Click Here for the Interview

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Breaking the Joe-opoly

Monday, February 7th, 2005

Edit by Joe – My interview with Pat Hughes is complete and will be posted as soon as I get home from work today (4pm est). We now return you to Dave’s regularly scheduled post.

Joe’s had so much good stuff recently that the rest of us have just been trying to stay out of his way. But today he showed weakness and didn’t post anything. I’m happy to take the sloppy seconds.

Item #1, as a current resident of Allentown, PA, just 1.5 hours from Philadelphia, is the Super Bowl. I didn’t watch it, and I have gone on record as saying that Philly fans are just about the least classy on the whole that I’ve ever met. I think about 5 percent of Cubs fans are jerks I wouldn’t want to be associated with. When talking about Philly fans, I’d turn that number up to 25 percent. So to those 75 percent whose decency is steamrolled by the other 25 percent, I offer my condolences and a reminder that this year was a HECK of a year. They oughta be proud.

Item #2 is that I’m looking at the Cubs’ lineup and it’s not too bad. Here’s how I’d set it up:
1. Walker 2B
2. Garciaparra SS
3. Lee 1B
4. Ramirez 3B
5. Patterson CF
6. Barrett C
7. Burnitz RF
8. Dubois LF
Burnitz moves up when Henry the White is catching. My lineup puts the 4 best guys in the top 4, but runs out of steam at #5.

Here, however, is what I’d expect Dusty to do:
1. Patterson CF
2. Walker 2B
3. Garciaparra SS
4. Ramirez 3B
5. Lee 1B
6. Burnitz RF
7. Hollandsworth LF
8. Barrett C

Not enough of a difference to hate Baker, but all the same, that 6 or 7 spot, Burnitz, could be a big problem.

I’ll go on record with a Burnitz prediction:
.245 ba, .325 obp, .450 slg, 27 HR, 84 RBI, about 65 runs. VORP of about 20, and somewhere between 12 and 15 win shares. I expect he’ll be an anchor of this offense, in the sense that he will keep them from moving forward.

The other problem spot is Todd Hollandsworth, who’s at his best as the man off the bench. As the starter, he’ll be a greater drag on the offense than the other option, Dubois.

Let’s hope somebody unexpected puts up a career year or Hendry pulls the trigger on someone who resembles Aubrey Huff in early June, because there are going to be a lot of frustrated great pitchers on this Cubs staff at years’ end.

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Like Fantasy Baseball?

Saturday, February 5th, 2005

www.Fantasybaseball.com, “The Official Website for Fantasy Baseball”, covers all angles of the fantasy game including: draft strategies, player profiles and statistical analysis with daily updates on the state of the game. The site also offers a wide variety of writers from all over the country who deal with injury reports, player and team profiles and historical comparisons.

Another aspect of the site that sets it apart from all other websites is the section entitled: Fantasy University. Fantasy U is actually a series of over 20 articles that explain everything that goes into the fantasy game. There are Freshman courses for those of you who are new to the game (explaining things like how to figure out batting average), to Soph/Jr. classes which break down some of the strategies used to succeed in fantasy baseball, all the way up to Senior and Graduate level courses which to speak to the complexities of the game including things like sabermetric analysis.

The FB site has also tried to put together a large array of tools that the fantasy gamer will find useful including draft boards, draft strategies, player projections and weekly updates on Who’s Hot and Who’s Not (all put together by the expert staff).

In addition don’t forget to check out the Forum section where fans can voice their opinions on current stories or issues that are making the rounds in the fantasy world.

Review written by Ray Flowers
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Brooks Kieschnick Part 2

Thursday, February 3rd, 2005

Ok, James, you asked and I told you I would work on it. Here are the questions and answers from Brooks Kieschnick that you wanted.

Do you think you’ll get a shot at the closer’s role?

I don’t think so. My value to the team is to come in and get a ground ball and then come to the plate and hopefully get a hit.

Do you think you have what it takes to even be considered for the role?

I think I do. I closed in college quite a bit and love the challenge of being in games at the end where the game is on the line.

Would you want it if you did?

I definitely would not turn it down.

Would you ever consider coming back to play for the Cubs?

I always leave all options open. I can say I really enjoyed the fans there but I am happy where I am right now.

Don’t forget, Monday morning I will be posting my talk with Cubs play by play guy, Pat Hughes. I have to say, I enjoyed talking baseball with Pat for a little over 30 mins. He knows his stuff and I think you’ll enjoy what he had to say.

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Quick Plug

Thursday, February 3rd, 2005

First off, if you haven’t read Andy’s post on the wind, it’s highly worth the scroll down. Now, I just wanted to throw a quick shameless plug my way and announce that Monday morning I will have a 30 min interview with Cubs play by play man Pat Hughes. If I can get it going nice, I’ll have audio as well as text. If not, it will just be a whole lotta text.

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Windy Wrigley

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2005

As promised, I’ve prepared some more detailed stats on the effects of wind at Wrigley Field.

I wrote a nifty little computer program that will go out to MLB.com, suck out a year’s worth of box score data, and sort out all the stats by the direction of the wind. Now that I’ve got that program done, I’ll be able to continually make these tables throughout the 2005 season with little effort.

As I looked through the 2004 numbers, a few things stood out:

* My hand-collected stats back in September were slightly off. They actually won a few more games with the wind blowing out than I originally thought.

* Whenever Maddux would take the mound on a WGN-TV broadcast day with the wind blowing in, Chip Carey would always make a point of it to say that it’s a “good day for Maddux to pitch.” As it turns out, Maddux was 4-0 with the wind blowing OUT and 4-4 with the wind blowing IN at Wrigley. At first it seems counterintuitive, but the reason is simple: the Cub offense provided more run support when the wind was blowing out.

* Derrek Lee and Sammy Sosa each hit more than twice as many home runs with the wind blowing out compared to it blowing in, but it’s The Musketeer that benefit the most from the friendly breeze at the Friendly Confines. Aramis Ramirez belted a modest THREE home runs with the wind blowing in, but a whopping SEVENTEEN dingers with the wind blowing out. You can decide for yourself what might be causing this, but I think his massive uppercut swing causes a lot of high fly balls that are either carried out or knocked down.

* With a lineup full of power hitters, the 2004 Cubs didn’t just like the wind to blow out at Wrigley, they depended on it. Wind blew out, they scored 5.79 runs per game and had an impressive .667 winning percentage. Wind blew in, they scored 4.71 runs per game and had a dismal .457 winning percentage.

With the departure of two of their most prolific home run hitters, the 2005 Cubs may have to rely on methods of scoring runs other than the long ball. Or, they may just ride the jet stream whenever the wind happens to be going their way.

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Interview with a former Cub

Tuesday, February 1st, 2005

In 1993, the Cubs had the 10th pick in the June amateur draft. With that pick, they chose an Outfielder from the University of Texas. Brooks Kieschnick was a high prospect in the Cubs organization. In 1996, he got his first shot at the big leagues with 29 AB’s, mostly in a pinch hitting role, and hit .345. In 1997, Brooks was given 90 AB’s, this time including some starts in Left Field. In that stint, he hit a mediocre .200 and was never again seen in a Cub uniform. He went on to be left unprotected in the expansion draft and was chosen by Tampa Bay. From there, he would go on to Cincinnati & Colorado via Free Agency. Both of these stops proved disappointing for Brooks and the organization. Finally, Brooks was given his break when he signed with the division rival, Milwaukee Brewers. Since then, he has gone on to not only pinch hit, but also pitch regularly out of the Brewer’s bullpen. Recently, I caught up with Brooks to ask him a few questions. Enjoy!!!

At what point growing up did you know you wanted to be a major league baseball player, and at what point did you really feel like “Hey, this could actually happen”?

Since I was old enough to know what a major league baseball player was I knew that is what I wanted to do. I felt like it could really happen when I was in college.

Drafted in the first round is a big weight on a player’s shoulders. In the Cubs organization, you were a very highly touted prospect that according to a lot of Cubs fans “Never met his potential”. Now, playing for a division rival, how does it feel to not only hurt the Cubs with your arm out of the pen, but also your bat as a PH?

It feels great just to be in the big leagues. Some fans probably do feel that way and that is their right. Whether it is the Cubs or any one else in the big leagues, I enjoy getting a chance to pitch and hit against them.

Do you feel that you were given a fair shake in the Chicago system as your were developing or do you think they gave up on you too early?

If 70 ABs in a row was a chance then I guess I did not meet my potential. In my eyes I think they gave up on me to early. I would have loved to get 500 ABs in one season to see what I could have done with that.

You are looked upon by most around the league as a genuine throwback player that will do whatever it takes to help his team win, including converting from an OF to a pitcher. Whose idea was this and do you ever miss playing the OF on a day to day basis?

That is exactly what I am, a throwback player. I just love to play the game. Coach Gustafson had mentioned it to me a few times and some players also said a few things after I had pitched in a blow out game in the minor leagues. I don’t really miss it because now I get to do both.

As a major league player, you are able to see a lot of places, and meet a lot of people. Please share a few of the best non baseball moments in your life since coming to the bigs. (i.e. – meeting so and so, or going here, or doing this

I have met some really great people, some baseball and some not. I have met some movie stars and I have been able to travel to places that I would have never gone to if it weren’t for baseball.

What was the hardest thing about being a # 1 draft pick and is there anything you would do over again?

The hardest thing about being a # 1 draft pick is that you under a microscope all the time and sometimes are not allowed to just be a baseball player. I myself wanted to be treated just like everyone else. The only thing I would have done differently was to go out and have fun playing the game instead of worrying when I was going to get to the big leagues.

What was the best thing about being a team’s # 1 draft pick?

I guess the best thing about it was knowing that you were liked by the people that drafted you and you were going to be given an opportunity to show those people your game. That is what was so frustrating for me with the Cubs is that the people that drafted me were gone after a year and a new regime came in and brought a whole new staff and new ideas on what they wanted for there team.

What is the worst and best thing about minor league baseball?

The worst thing about minor league baseball is the travel. The best thing is the relationships that you build with your teammates that you come up through the minor leagues with.

Who is the nicest pro ball player that doesn’t typically get noticed in the press?

I have 2, Dave Burba and Wes Obermueller. They are both great guys.

If you could play commissioner for a day, and could make changes to the game of baseball, what changes would you make and why?

I think he is doing a great job and would not change a thing.

What is the biggest issue facing the game today and how can MLB get past it?

I plead the 5th.

This and other sites are part of a great new tread in sports journalism called blogging. Do you read any blogs and if so, which ones?

I am going to have to say no but I am definitely going to read this one.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I see myself hanging out with my wife and kids. Probably doing a lot of hunting and fishing.

Where do you see the Cubs in 2005?

I see them in Chicago and Milwaukee about 16 games a year.

I know a lot of those answers were safe answers, but you have to give him credit for actually consider doing an interview for a Cub fan. After all, the Cubs gave him the shaft. Hopefully you enjoyed it. I have always liked Brooks and wish him all the best in 146 games this year.

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