Archive for May, 2005

Dodger Thinkings

Monday, May 30th, 2005

I hate the west coast trip more than anything in baseball. It has only gotten worse since moving to the east coast. Now, games begin at 10pm. Luckily, tonight’s game was on ESPN and started at 8. So, due to the early start, I am awake enough to put a few coherent thoughts on the site. Here are the thinkings from last night’s win.

  • One of the most important things for the Cubs to focus on is jumping out in front early. Too many times this year, they have let the opposing pitcher settle into a groove and that has caused nothing but trouble for the offense. In game 1 of this series, the Cubs decided that this would be a good thing to do and jumped out to a 4 – 0 lead early. In 2003, the Cubs were always jumping out in the first three innings and were scoring a lot of runs as a result. Jumping out first goes a long way toward settling in and finding a groove.

  • Corey Patterson has been hitting in the 7th spot, and I like this place for him FOR NOW. I would eventually like to see him in a place that allows him to get on base and steal a little more. The 7th spot seems like a place where he is going to need to try to run every time he reaches first. With the 8 and 9 spot following him, there is nothing to lose by trying to get in scoring position. Tonight, he stole 2nd after reaching early in the game, and that was a great thing to see.
  • It’s been great to see Maddux pitch 6+ innings consistently. I know a lot of people were worried that he didn’t have it in him at this point in his career, but he’s proved otherwise. I just wish he could impart some of that pitch count knowledge to some of the other starters on the staff. I haven’t really seen them improve since Maddux arrived. That either means Maddux is not much of a teacher and wants to keep his knowledge to himself, which would mean his professor nickname should be stripped from him. Or, it means the kids are not listening to the old man. I tend to think it’s the latter.
  • I am thrilled to see Dempster nailing down saves with relative ease and Ram heating up. Both of these facts are a welcome relief.
  • Tonight I was able to listen to Vin Scully, one of the last remaining legendary broadcasters in the business. I haven’t listened to him much, but I came away rather unimpressed. He’s not as sharp as I have heard in the past. Also, one rather odd thing I noticed was that he has no color guy with him in the booth. Perhaps this is why I came away from the game bored. I’m not sure why Scully was alone in the booth, but that is something I am not in favor of. A guy needs that support, no matter how good you are. It just makes for a more enjoyable broadcast to have two people interacting together.
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Don’t Blame Len and Bob

Monday, May 30th, 2005

This year, I have been reading the WGN Blog off and on. It’s kind of hard to forget about it, seeing as they mention it at least 5 times every broadcast. If they do not have the most hits in the CBA, I don’t think there is any hope for them. What has bugged me recently is the idiot readers they have. It’s either completely clueless girls who complain that Len and Bob are picking on poor, innocent bat boys, who just so happen to be the equipment manager. Or, it’s comments like the following:

Len and Bob,

I don’t like your broadcast at all. So far today i’ve heard.

1. It’s ok for Corey Patterson to strike out a lot, because thats what he’s always done, and he can’t learn.
2. It’s tough facing a struggling team, because they are sure to turn it around. Thats garbage Bob. If it was a hot team beating us, you’d be saying, “Well there hot, what can you do”

You guys toe the company line to an extreme. Keep telling us stories about the equipment manager and Len’s music group. I dont know about anyone else, but I don’t care.
I want to know why Dusty cant manage a bullpen, and why our hitters never work the count.

At least Steve Stone told us the truth.
You guys are just fluff.

First, how can you go to someone’s site and be THAT rude? I find it funny that this idiot could type that stuff out on the computer, but would he have the balls to say it right to Brenly’s face? I don’t think he would. No matter what people say about Len and Bob’s broadcast, they are there to promote the team. It is there job to make the broadcast a happy one no matter how many the Cubs are ahead or behind. If they fail at that, people turn the game off, and sponsors do not want to advertise. It’s a business guys, when will people wake up and see that? Stop being so critical of a broadcaster. If you were in their position, which is one of the best in the business, you would be promoting the crap out of the Cubs as well. If not, they would find someone else who would. They are just doing what they are paid to do. Get off their back people.

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Lest We Forget….

Monday, May 30th, 2005

There ain’t no doubt I love this land,
God Bless the USA.

IwoJima_flag

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Game Season Over

Saturday, May 28th, 2005

Well, I held out as long as I could but after yesterday’s injury to Mark Prior, I’m officially giving up on the Cubs season. And to think, I almost made it to June this year. I’m sure some people are thinking that it’s nuts to give up before Memorial Day, while others gave up 2 weeks ago, but the truth is, until yesterday when I looked at this team, I saw good starting pitching, a flawed offense and a bad bullpen. While the offense and bullpen could have been improved through trade, Prior’s injury is most devastating because he’s irreplaceable. There’s only one pitcher who the Cubs could possibly trade for who could have the kind of impact that Prior does, and the Cubs simply don’t have enough trade bait to pry Roger Clemens away from the Astros, and then address the rest of their needs. While Joe points to the Cubs pitching depth, I’ve got to disagree with him on that point; the Cubs pitching depth is now a myth. Prior is out, there is no ETA on Kerry Wood, Angel Guzman hasn’t thrown a pitch this season, Bobby Brownlie has been bad at AAA and while using Wellemeyer or Dempster might be an option, that would only serve to further weaken an already bad bullpen. The Cubs need to make some deals with an eye towards next year. The LaTroy Hawkins trade was a good start, and with that fresh in my mind, I want to take a look at some of the other Cubs who have high trade value, and who might want them.

Glendon Rusch
It’s hard to believe, but Rusch may have more trade value than any other Cub right now. A left handed pitcher who can give you quality innings either as a starter or a reliever, and one with an extremely reasonable contract, teams should be knocking down Jim Hendry’s door in June and July to try and aquire Rusch. Almost any contending team could use him, but right now the teams with the greatest need for Glendon’s services would be:
Yankees: Need help in the rotation and the bullpen
Texas: They’re always looking for pitching
Boston: With Schilling and Wells both old and injured, Boston might want to hedge their bets
Atlanta: Thompson and Hampton are both on the DL

Jeromy Burnitz
Burnitz is another valuable player, as he’s a lefthanded hitter with good power who plays good defense as a corner outfielder and is mobile enough to play center in an emergency. He’s also hitting well enough this year to show that his Coors Field season wasn’t a “Coors Field season” and he has a manageable contract. Possible suitors:
Atlanta: Raul Mondesi and Brian Jordan both look finished
Angels: With Vlad out, Burnitz would be an upgrade over Juan Rivera
White Sox: Jermaine Dye is terrible on offense and defense

Todd Walker
Walker’s a low priced 2nd baseman who hits for good average and power. His defense isn’t great, but it’s better than advertised and he’s a good team guy. Possible destinations:
Minnesota: they have gotten very little offensively from their middle infielders
Angels: an upgrade over Adam Kennedy
San Diego: Mark Lorretta’s injury leaves a big hole

Ryan Dempster
If Dempster continues to pitch well in the closer’s role, a lot of teams will be after him at the deadline:
San Francisco: He could reteam with LaTroy
Atlanta: Their closer situation is up in the air
Yankees/Mets/Rangers/Cardinals: Really, who couldn’t use an extra arm in the bullpen?

There are a few other guys of value on the Cubs, but these four players are the ones that Jim Hendry should be able to command the most from in trades. Hendry’s shown a knack for making good deals during his career, so hopefully he can work his magic and start rebuilding this team.

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Cubs Deal the King

Saturday, May 28th, 2005

Latroy Hawkins to SF for Jerome Williams and David Aardsma

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Top 5 Reasons to NOT be upset and panic

Saturday, May 28th, 2005

Well, I have to admit that I was bummed about seeing Prior get rocked by that line drive. I, like most people, panicked and thought horrible thoughts. However, the more I rolled it around my mind, the more I became OK with the situation. I know it seeps absurd, but I am honestly fine with it. So, to help ease your pain, I’d like to present my Top 5 Reasons to NOT be upset, from the home offices in do me, NC.

5. No Offense, but it’s the offense that is the problem, not the pitching.

I tried to use a lame pun there, but it’s the truth. The fact of the matter is, it’s not that pitching was our problem. Our problem was and is our offense. It’s nonexistant to this point. If it would have been someone like Derrick Lee going down, I would have been much more upset. If it HAD to be someone, I can live with it being a pitcher instead of one of our few producing hitters. Take heart in that.

4. We have a great amount of SP depth

Coming in to this year, we were once again at or near the top of the list for SP. We have great talent at the position with more to spare. Without Prior, we have Zambrano, Maddux, Rusch, Dempster, Mitre, Raul Valdez, Bobby Brownlie, Todd Wellemeyer, etc all of who are capable of doing the job for us. Plus, in a month or so, Woody comes back. We’re OK in this department, no matter what anyone says.

3. It’s not like we were playing well to begin with

I would be very upset if we were dominating this year and then had this happened. However, this team has sputtered out of the gate and hadn’t looked that promising. Prior had been pitching lights out and what had it gotten us? Not much. So, until the team decides that it’s time to play like they’re capable of playing, losing Prior is not going to make that big of a difference.

2. We could get closer to losing Dusty

Look on the bright side. If this team REALLY tanks it now, the reverend could be gone by the end of the year. That’s got to give everyone some bit of hope. I know it does to me. We just need something to spark this team, and I am positive that a manager change would do it. I’d really love to see the Cubs pull Brenly from the booth and put him the manager’s seat. The last few games, he’s been dead on in identifying the team’s problem. They are not seeing enough pitches and are trying to hard to make something happen. They need to relax, take some pitches, and get something to drive. Instead, the Cubs are swinging at everything they see. They flashed a graphic on the screen in the game yesterday that showed there were 3 Cubs in the top five for swinging at the 1st pitch. Patterson, Dubois and Barrett all hover around the 50% of the time mark. That’s a major problem in my eyes.

1. You had to know an injury was coming.

When have we NOT gotten hit by the injury bug? You had to be expecting it sometime.

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THE CURSE LIVES!

Saturday, May 28th, 2005

Last one on the ledge, please close the window.

prior hurt

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Thru Cub Eyes: Steve Stone

Friday, May 27th, 2005

If it’s Friday it must be time for another first person account of life in a Cub uniform. This excerpt is from Carrie Muskat’s fine compilation Banks to Sandberg to Grace. Look for it wherever fine Cub literature is sold. Sorry, I could not find a picture of Steve in a Cub uniform after an exhaustive search.

stone-s embarass9 stone orioke

A lot of people don’t realize when they talk about the Cubs’ 20 game winners that I won 20 games for the Cubs. But it took me three years. I was 23-20 in three years, and the fact is ’74, ’75 and ’76, we didn’t make anybody forget about the ’27 Yankees. The fact that I was over .500 was a major accomplishment.

I had some very good times in 1975. The Cubbies were actually in the race. I started out 5-0. The Cubs were in the race from the middle of June. We had a real interesting collection of guys. George Mitterwald hit three home runs and it was the highlight of his life because I think he ended up hitting ten for the year, maybe even less than that. We had Carmen Fanzone who was a terrific guy and, unfortunately for Carmen, a better trumpet player than a baseball player. We had Oscar Zamora as our closer, who told our pitching coach Marv Grissom that if he came to the park with his eyes swollen – because he never really had come in at night – that it was the ozone. It wasn’t that he was partying all night, it was the ozone. He’d come in with his eyes looking like the old fighter Carmen Basilio. Marv assumed it wasn’t the ozone. I think Oscar led our staff with 13, 14 saves. We weren’t particularly good, like so many teams I was on, but we had a good time.

I was the Cubs’ first free agent. I was the first guy ever to go without a contract. So the Cubs didn’t want to pitch me the second part of the year when I was healthy. They did pitch me in one game. Fortunately, Roland Hemond was in the seats. I threw five innings, gave up two hits and one run, and threw the ball great, and Roland Hemond and Bill Veek drafted me in that first free-agent draft. And I won 15 games for them in 1977.

I spent 15 years with Harry and we never rehearsed an opening. Not one. Ever. Harry wanted one microphone, took the mike, and Arne (Harris) would go in our ears “OK.” No countdown, just go get ‘em. … I had no idea what he was going to say. I’m not sure if he knew what he was going to say, but I do know sometimes he would say exactly what I was going to say.

I thought it was up to me to analyze pitchers, A couple times Harry would go and analyze the pitchers first thing out of the box and then hand the mike to me. I had no idea where he was going and maybe the spontaneity of the thing is what made us.

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Reading Assignment

Friday, May 27th, 2005

Hey guys, I have a golf tournament today so unless my fellow writers feel compelled to jot a positive note down for you, I want to draw your attention to a couple articles in today’s newspaper.

ARTICLE 1

That said, they cannot possibly be this bad, a view shared by Tribune Co. execs who warily approved the club’s first $100 million payroll. They are playing like a Dead Team Walking largely because Baker is moping around like a Dead Manager Walking. Is it me, or is he acting like someone who doesn’t want the gig much longer, a man weary of Wrigleyville’s 97-year burden and the reality that his best chance to break through vanished on a wicked October night in 2003? His energy level and toothpick quotient have dropped significantly since the collapses of the last two autumns, and while I won’t accuse him of quitting like Sammy Sosa, I will submit that $3.5 million a year is an obscenely high price for complacency. There is a school of thought that the Tribsters never would fire Baker and eat his salary before his contract expires after next season, but when a franchise has employed 14 skippers in 25 years of ownership, you come to realize anything is possible when the bosses are identifying scapegoats.

ARTICLE # 2

Cubs manager Dusty Baker wants to make sure his team doesn’t try to make up all the lost ground in too big of a hurry.

“You’ve got to do the slow walk,” Baker said. “If you keep winning series, you’ll slow walk. You go seven, six, five, four — next thing you know, hopefully, they see the whites of our eyes and we are right up on ‘em.”

All in all, it’s not looking good for the Reverend and this team right now. They are playing like they forgot to put down the emergency brake. It’s causing them to just sputter and go very very slow. Someone needs to figure it out VERY SOON!!!!!

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