Archive for April, 2005

Open Discussion Thread

Tuesday, April 5th, 2005

Rather than say the same things as about 30 other blogs today, i’d like to pose a question. Yes, we won the game yesterday, but were you worried about the following:

  • Carlos Zambrano’s pitch count efficiency
  • Carlos Zambrano arguing balls and strikes in the first game and gettting tossed
  • The amount of walks issued by Cubs pitchers

That was 3 things I noticed. Discussion pleas.What excited you? What worried you?

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Writer’s Picks for 2005

Sunday, April 3rd, 2005

Joe


AL East – New York Yankees
AL Central – Chicago White Sox
AL West – Anaheim Angels
AL Wild Card – Texas Rangers

NL East – Atlanta Braves
NL Central – St. Louis Cardinals
NL West – San Diego Padres
NL Wild Card – Chicago Cubs

AL World Series Rep – Anaheim Angels
NL World Series Rep – Chicago Cubs
World Series Winner (# of Games) – Anaheim Angels in 6

AL MVP - Vlad Guerrero
AL Cy Young – Johan Santana
NL MVP – Scott Rolen
NL Cy Young – Mark Mulder
MLB Comeback Player – Austin Kearns

Biggest Name Traded – Todd Helton
Biggest Name Injured – Manny Ramirez
Biggest Impact Acquisition – Scott Podsednick
Biggest Acquisition Bust – Jarret Wright

Dave


AL East – New York Yankees
AL Central – Minnesota Twins
AL West – Oakland A’s
AL Wild Card – Boston Red Sox

NL East – Philadelphia Phillies
NL Central – St. Louis Cardinals
NL West – Los Angeles Dodgers
NL Wild Card – Chicago Cubs

AL World Series Rep – New York Yankees
NL World Series Rep – Chicago Cubs
World Series Winner (# of Games) – Chicago Cubs in 7

AL MVP - Mark Teixeira
AL Cy Young – Johan Santana
NL MVP – Bobby Abreu
NL Cy Young – Carlos Zambrano
MLB Comeback Player – Preston Wilson

Biggest Name Traded – Roger Clemens
Biggest Name Injured – Jim Edmonds
Biggest Impact Acquisition – David Wells
Biggest Acquisition Bust – Omar Vizquel

Anthony


AL East – New York Yankees
AL Central – Cleveland Indians
AL West – Anaheim Angels
AL Wild Card – Boston Red Sox

NL East – Atlanta Braves
NL Central – St. Louis Cardinals
NL West – Los Angeles Dodgers
NL Wild Card – Chicago Cubs

AL World Series Rep – New York Yankees
NL World Series Rep – St. Louis Cardinals
World Series Winner (# of Games) – New York Yankees in 7

AL MVP - Ichiro
AL Cy Young – Randy Johnson
NL MVP – Albert Pujols
NL Cy Young – Carlos Zambrano
MLB Comeback Player – Nomar Garciaparra

Biggest Name Traded – Ken Griffey Jr.
Biggest Name Injured – Jason Schmidt
Biggest Impact Acquisition – Adrian Beltre
Biggest Acquisition Bust – Orlando Cabrera

PLEASE LEAVE US YOUR THOUGHTS!!!

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Could Be Better / Could Be Worse – Final Edition

Sunday, April 3rd, 2005

So here it is. The final edition of the six part series has arrived. Today I’d like to focus on our Ace SP. Tomorrow, we’ll be set to kick off opening day with our “Writer’s picks for the 2005 season”.

Ace of the Staff – <a href=”Carlos Zambrano
I consider Zambrano the ace solely due to the uncertainty of Prior and Wood’s health. When Prior is healthy, his composure and maturity, when coupled with his stuff beats out Big Z. But for now, we’ll look at who IS healthy and that’s Carlos. Zambrano, in some peoples mind, is the pitcher with the best potential for greatness on this staff. That’s a tremendous compliment for such a young kid. The problem I see with him is what I call the Jose Lima fear. Lima was cash money in his first two full years in the bigs, winning 21 games in the second year. His emotion on the mound was praised and always highlighted on Sportscenter. However, after that, he has done NOTHING. His emotions constantly get the best of him. My fear is that Carlos, in his 3rd full season of starts, will implode this year. I fear that he will let his emotions get the best of him and due to pressure of leading a staff, will fold. I hope with all my being that I am wrong on this fear. Maybe Carlos will come out and have a 20-25 win season and win the Cy Young. Regardless of what happens, I like his upside and will take my chances. He’s a good Ace to have in the hole. Nonetheless, I chose to display an Ace with a skull and crossbones. Zambrano can either be the Ace or the death of this staff in 2005.

Could Be Better
Does it get any better than a Lefty who throws heat and knows how to control it? Does it get any better than a player who is a legit Cy Young candidate every time he takes the mound? Randy Johnson, right? Wrong!!! Johan Santana is an absolute stud for the Minnesota Twins. A 20 game winner in his first full load of starts in the bigs, this kid has star written all over him. He was the unanimous Cy Young winner in the AL last year, and I have every reason to believe it will happen again this year. He has electric stuff that he knows how to handle. The fact that he plays for the Twins makes him that much more scary. If he could win 20 for a non-dominant team, imagine what he could do with a lineup like the Yankees behind him. He could win 30 games.

Could Be Worse
So our # 1 and # 2 have health concerns and that leaves us with our # 3 pitcher taking over the reigns as the Ace. Look on the bright side. At least our Ace is not Dewon Brazelton. That is what the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have to look forward to in 2005. One fan is not all that excited about the prospects of Braz.

Dewon Brazelton: ah, the mystery that is Dewon Brazelton continues to evade definition. Brazelton has teasingly shown flashes of the effectiveness that made him a first-round draft pick only a few years ago. Rays fans are wary: they’ve seen that ilk before. I offer no promises, but I’ll say this. Joe Kennedy was effective, then went south, and the Rays traded him: now he’s pitching very effectively again, and this time in Colorado, of all places. I would recommend patience. Braz is still young, there’s still time, and the rewards could prove to be worth the wait. Let’s not make the same mistake twice.

The jury is still out on Braz, but it’s not looking promising. Their hopes are penned up on some of their other young pieces, including BJ Upton and Seth McClung.

Vorp Numbers

Santana – 88.8
Zambrano – 61.3
Brazelton – 12.6

Well, that’s all folks. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading this series as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Here’s hoping all of our players play past their potential and we bring home the World Series in 2005. If not, It could always be worse. We could all be Kansas City Royals fans.

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Could Be Better / Could Be Worse – Part V

Saturday, April 2nd, 2005

It’s hard to focus today with the Illini game just 9 hours away as I write this. Today we have the opportunity to talk about the CF position, which is one that a lot of people that write Cubs blogs despise. Tomorrow, we’ll cover the Ace SP and “Closer” on the team. Enjoy!!!

CenterfieldCorey Patterson
This is a guy that takes a TON of heat from Cub fans. Numerous times on this site, we’ve bashed him to the ground about so many aspects of his game. Don’t believe me? Listen to the audio found here from when I was on Life’s a Pitch radio show the first time. It’s a good listen if you have 15 – 20 min. to spare. Over the last year my hatred for Patterson has diminished. I would not go as far as to say that I like him now, but at least I no longer despise him. Gotta start somewhere right? He is maturing as a hitter and I believe this year may be another step forward. His habit for being overly aggressive at the plate is the one thing that bugs me. Sure he swings for the fences, but how many young players don’t? He just needs to learn to wait back a little more to see some pitches. This is what I would go up to him and tell him if I was Gene Clines this year. “Corey, let me explain something to you. As a leadoff hitter, you are writing a book in your mind and for your teammates about the starting pitcher in that first at bat. The more pitches you see, the more you know and the better that book is for the next AB. It’s as if you’re able to study that player’s cliffs notes. Take some pitches so we can see what these guys throw.” He would then proceed to look at the first pitch that is called for a ball, look back at me and smile, and then proceed to take 3 straight monstrous hacks for strike 3.

Could Be Better
Do I really have to mention another Cardinal? Jim Edmonds, despite turning 35 this year is still one the top CF in the game today. His defense is great and his bat is outstanding. While I would not want him to replace Patterson for the longhaul, 2005 would be nice. It’s hard to pick a guy this old to be the top CF, but he’s just that good. Stupid Cardinals!!!!

Could Be Worse
Look at it this way the next time you bash Corey Patterson, our CF in 2005 could be Luis Matos from Baltimore. Matos comes in ranked by CBS Sportsline as the 32nd best CF. Anytime you come in ranked lower than the number of teams, you know you’re probably not that good. Matos fits that bill. Granted, he did have a decent year in 2003, but that was the first one of his career, including the minors. He has no power to speak of, which is fine if you’re a contact guy or a speed burner. Matos is neither. He hit .224 last year and stole 12 bases.

VORP Numbers

Edmonds – 88.9 (1st in the Majors)
Patterson – 27.9 (6th in the NL)
Matos-8.1 (Last in the AL)

Unrelated Side Notes

  • Andy has added a link to contact me via AIM up in the right corner. It’s next to my e-mail contact link. Feel free to contact me via either anytime. I always love hearing from the readers.

  • In case you never had a chance to listen to them, look to the left and we have 4 audio files. Three are from my appearances on a Cleveland Sports Talk Show called Life’s a pitch, and the other one is a well worth listening to interview with current Cubs radio man, Pat Hughes. Check them out as you start to get up for the baseball season this year.
  • Random Question – Why did the Cubs not just skip signing Burnitz and go with Dubois, Patterson, Hollandsworth, with Kelton on the team as well for depth?
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Could Be Better / Could Be Worse – Part IV

Friday, April 1st, 2005

Well, it’s now 2 days away. Baseball is close enough now that you could just reach out and touch it. With that being said, I better work doubletime to get this series done before Monday, when we post our picks for the season. So, without further delay, lets get started.

ShortstopNomar Garciaparra
When we got Nomar last year for next to nothing, I almost wet my pants from excitement. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was on the couch watching the end of the baseball game on Fox, which just happened to NOT be the Cubs game. It usually isn’t here in NC. I was anxiously awaiting any trade news and it had been a very slow afternoon. Finally, right before they left the broadcast, they got word of the trade and announced it. I jumped out of my seat and cheered. This year, I am more excited than ever to have Nomar on the roster. We have one of the best Shortstops in the game today and he’s been on fire this spring.

From everything I read this spring, he’s healthy and ready to return to form in 2005. I hadn’t realized how rare it was to have such a good offensive shortstop until I researched the Cubs shortstops since I have been alive. Here is the list.

  • A. Gonzalez

  • R. Guttierrez
  • J. Hernandez
  • J. Blauser
  • S. Dunston (Fan Fav. but really not very good with the bat)
  • R. Sanchez (Childhood hero and I have no clue why)
  • L. Bowa
  • I. DeJesus

Boy oh boy that is quite a terrible list. That right there could be the entire Could Be Worse section for Shortstop. Makes me thankful for Nomar in 2005.

Could Be Better
Like I said before, there are not many better these days than Nomar, but there is one guy that I would rather have. Michael Young from the Rangers is just a class act. When Texas went out and traded for Soriano, that left a hole at shortstop. It also made Michael Young’s position, second base, unavailable anymore. Instead of pout and hold out, he simply went to the manager and said put my and short and I’ll get the job done for you. At that point he had only played 18 big league games at the position. Last year, in his first full year at short, he committed only 19 errors, which isn’t bad given the difficulty and newness of the position. Young is faster, cheaper, and younger than Nomar and hits for just as much contact and power. I’ll take that any day of the week when you couple it with his sacrificial attitude.

Could Be Worse
If the list above isn’t enough for you, just remember that our starting shortstop in 2005 could be none other than the Seattle Mariners own Pokey Reese. You mean people actually pay money for him to play? Apparently after the M’s threw all their money at Sexson, Beltre and Sele, they had no money for a decent SS.

VORP Numbers

M. Young – 60.1
Nomar – 15.6 / 12.6 (Boston / Chicago)
P. Reese-7.3

Third BaseAramis Ramirez
This is a guy that always killed me in fantasy leagues. I would draft him based on what COULD be and it never actually WAS. When we got him in the trade I was more excited about Kenny Loften arriving than Ramirez. Boy was I wrong. Ramirez has been exploding onto the scene of late and enters 2005 as a legit MVP candidate. Between improving his power numbers and batting average to cutting down his errors at one of the toughest places in the infield to play, Ramirez has become the team’s franchise hitter. I have not been able to figure out why we aren’t giving him the 13 million he wants. He makes almost 9 now. What is 4 million more to lock up a guy long term that can help you for a long long time. If nothing else convinces Hendry to make this deal, it should be the long line of IT COULD BE WORSE Cubs thirdbasemen since Ron Santo.

Could Be Better
Yes, it can indeed get better than Ramirez, in my opinion, though only slightly. As much as it pains me to admit it, the Cardinals have a better option at the hot corner in 2005. Scott Rolen has virtually the same numbers as Ramirez but his glove is just so much better. He makes plays that just make my jaw drop at times when I see them on Baseball Tonight. He’s a true star and I wish we had him. At the same time, he is a Cardinal, so I hate him with a passion and would have a hard time welcoming him to the team.

Could Be Worse
Can it get much worse than Alex Gonzalez at third? Not only can he not hit (except for the occasional clutch walk off homer), but he’ll be playing a new position for the Devil Rays in 2005. I ran across this headline “Gonzalez ready to sizzle at third” Are they serious? If they are, the GM and that writer need to be fired if they really believe that. Good Luck Tampa, you’re gonna need it this year.

VORP Numbers

Rolen – 73.7
Ramirez – 59.6
Gonzalez – 1.5 / -1.0 / -2.9 (Mon / SD / Cubs #’s)

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