Archive for May, 2005

Kind of makes you long for the Dave Groeschner Era…

Monday, May 23rd, 2005

From Espn’s website:

Cubs right-hander Carlos Zambrano has been told to cut back on his computer time because the hours he’s spending typing could be contributing to his elbow problems.

Zambrano said he had been logging about four hours a day communicating via e-mail with his brother.

“I have to spend one hour and take it easy,” Zambrano said.

Zambrano looked fine Saturday, allowing just one hit in seven innings against the White Sox.

“It’s not carpal tunnel, but if you don’t watch it, who knows what it can lead to? We are trying to alleviate it,” Cubs manger Dusty Baker said.

The Cubs were told after Zambrano had to leave his May 14 start against Washington early with a sore elbow that was the result of a non-pitching condition and activity. So they also told Zambrano to lighten up on his batting practice.

“I feel completely healthy,” Zambrano said.

Is that really the most likely possibility for Zambrano’s tender elbow?
From Baseball Prospectus 2005:

We’re trying not to be Pitch Count Nazis, but if there’s one pitcher who deserves a petition for clemency, it’s Zambrano, who is simply too good and too exciting to let go to waste.”

From the Bill James Handbook 2005, in an article entitled “Can We Really Predict Injuries?” by Sig Mejdal of Baseball Info Solutions:

That somehow youth and usage create a significant negative effect while usage and youth alone do not, is a tad concerning. In my experience, interactions (youth and usage) without the main effect (youth or usage) are quite rare. Still, I will be watching Carlos Zambrano’s season with interest as he was the youngster with by far the most high-pitch outings last year.

That’s a guy who’s skeptical about the pitch-count-hurts-young-pitchers debate, and STILL he’s worried about Z.

Zambrano’s pitches per outing this year: 106, 111, 108, 118, 105, 96, 136, 64, 108.
9 starts, 952 pitches, about 106 pitches per outing.
2nd in MLB in Pitcher Abuse Points, after being 3rd in the league last year and 10th the year before. And he’s always the youngest guy in the top ten.

So is it really that he’s screwing around on a computer for 4 hours a day that made him miss a start, or is that there are few guys in major league baseball whose arms have been abused like his over the last few years?

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Classless Act

Saturday, May 21st, 2005

Sometimes I wonder how people have no common sense whatsoever. I just so happened upon the post you see below. After reading it, I was so disgusted that someone would be that classless to even THINK the post would be remotely appropriate. After leaving my comment in disgust, I was going to just never return to the site. However, the more I thought about it, the more angry I became. Cancer is a very serious issue and one that is not a joking matter. To infer in a post that it’s unfortunate that cancer did not take Dusty Baker’s life is irresponsible, and heartless, regardless of if it was meant as a joke. I would like to publicly ask that the writer of the post would not only apologize publicly on the site, but make a donation to the American Cancer Society in Dusty Baker’s name. I would urge everyone that reads this post to leave their comment in show of support of my donation and apology request. The post that angered me is listed below.

CHICAGO–In a rare physically visible appearance, Prostate Cancer apologized yesterday for claiming the lives of so many loving, caring, knowledgeable, and valuable human beings, while leaving Dusty Baker alive. Noted contributors to the human race claimed by Cancer are Don Ameche, Bill Bixby, Sir Alec Guiness, Johnny Ramone, Telly Savalas, and Frank Zappa. All of Cancer’s famous victims had made the world a better place to live, which is exactly why Cancer did not claim Baker’s life.

“You know, you knock off someone like Obi-Wan Kenobi, David Banner, or Kojak, and people stand up and take notice. You knock off Dusty Baker, and who gives a crap?” Cancer said. “I’m just not going to waste my time with that guy. Plus, his prostate was weird-looking.” Cancer manifested itself in the lovable form of a Zodiac crab consisting entirely of undifferentiated cells, much to the delight of the children in the area.

While Cancer would not reveal plans for future victims, it did express its sorrow for claiming so many good people, while refusing to take Baker. “Why do bad things happen to good people, and not to total idiots? Don’t ask me. I’m a genetic mutation, not a philosopher,” Cancer said.

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Sox Series not My Fantasy

Friday, May 20th, 2005

Forget about everything written ad nauseum about the Cubs-Sox series this weekend. (With notable exception to my colleagues at the View.)

How is todayís game going to affect me?

I joined a fantasy baseball league at seasonís dawn and up til now it has been rather harmless because it is an all AL set-up. But now we are complicating my life with Freddy Garcia facing Greg Maddux. How was I to know Garcia would be in this position when I drafted him as the ace of my staff back in March? Sure I knew the schedule but when you have all of 90 seconds to make a decision you donít mull over all of the ramifications.

Normally I would be all for a repeat of opening day, a good ol 16 run onslaught. But not against my Freddy! He’s lost back-to-back games as it is. Can we wait til tomorrow and Sunday to pummel the Sox?

This is not to say I hope the Sox win. I am still a Cubs fan, after all. That will never change. ButÖ. Could we perhaps have an extra-inning victory where Garcia strikes out 12 Cubs and exits the game with the score 0-0? Then Derreck Lee can crack the game winner in the 10th and everybody goes home happy. True, I wonít get 35 points for the victory but I wonít lose points, either.

Repeat the above scenario for every fantasy pitcher on my roster. Letís see, who else do I have? Matt Clement. Hmmm all sorts of mixed emotions there being ex-Cub and all. Did somebody say we donít face Baltimore this year? Good, cuz I have two of their starters, Chen and Bedard.

In other action this day I have Kenny Rogers and his 30 inning scoreless steak going against the Astros so gamble away, Kenny! By dayís end, be my guest to make it 39!

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Thru Cub Eyes: Ron Santo

Friday, May 20th, 2005

Every Friday this season we are proud to bring you personal anecdotes from those who played in a Cub uniform. These reflections find their source in Carrie Muskatís fine compilation Banks to Sandberg to Grace. Look for it in your favorite outlet featuring fine Cub literature.
Next week: Steve Stone

santo

When I first went to Wrigley Field, Iíll never forget it. Iíll never forget leaving the clubhouse in the left field corner and walking with Ernie Banks. In those days when you were a rookie your teammates wouldnít talk to you, but Ernie talked to me. Weíre going out and he said ìWhatís this feel like?î I said ìErnie, I canít believe it.î

I walked on the field and there was an atmosphere. Thereís nothing like it. The stands were empty. It was so beautiful. It was like playing in my backyard. It didnít feel like ìJeez, Iím overwhelmed.î It felt like ìThis is baseball.î

Leo didnít have to kick me in the ass but, but there was one time when I was in a slump. It was June and Iím still hitting over .300and leading the club in RBI and Iím hitting fourth in the lineup. I was the captain. I would take the lineup card out to the umpires. Usually Leo would walk over and give me the card and say ìHowís so-and-so doing?î

Heíd always confide in me. He always had a comment. On this particular day, he walks over, hands me the card and walks away. I put the card in my pocket and go out to loosen up. Billy Williams came over to me. Now we never changed the lineup. Billy says ìAny changes in the lineup?î I take it out and Iím hitting seventh. I look at this and Iím pissed.

Leo used to stand behind the cage and watch hitting. Every day, arms crossed, watch hitting. And then heíd walk away. So heís back there. Itís my turn to hit and because Iím hitting seventh, Iím in the third group. And Iím pissed. I get up there and take ten swings; the next time, five swings; the next time, three, and another three. After the last turn I turned and looked right at him, and I threw the bat at the cage and I walked out of the cage.

The game starts and I go 4 for 4, two home runs and drove in five runs. What did he do? He got me on track. He won that battle. I didnít realize it. He got me out of the slump.

You donít know how tough it was to leave the Chicago Cubs. When general manager John Holland called me, my first wife was sick with salmonella poisoning. I had taken her to the hospital in the middle of the night. The next morning John calls me and says ìRon, weíve got a chance. You know weíre moving players. This is the toughest thing Iíve ever had to do. Youíre a 5 and 10 player and you have a right to turn it down, but we have a chance to get three pitchers from the California Angels and they want you bad. Theyíre willing to give you a two year deal, unbelievable money!î

I said ìJohn, you called me at a bad time. My wife is in the hospital and I donít have time to talk about it or even discuss it. Call me in a week.î I hung up the phone and I had tears. I didnít cry, I just had tears.

A week later he calls me and I said ìJohn, Iím not going to move my family to California.î I wanted to be a Cub. Then he really hurt me and said ìWhere do you want to go?î I had to hang up the phone. I bawled because I knew that was it. I called him back and said ìIím going to retire. Iím not going anywhere.î

Then I got a call from White Sox manager Chuck Tanner and I was staying in Chicago. To be honest when that happened, I lost my desire and love for the game. I hit .300 that last year for the Cubs, I had 25 home runs or whatever. But I lost my enthusiasm. Even tho I was happy to stay in Chicago, it wasnít the same.

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Cross-Town Rivalry

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

The first Cross-Town series is already upon us, and well, I just don’t care that much. First of all, it’s just too early for all this, and second, living in the Chicago area, it’s one of the most overhyped sporting events we have around here. A big part of the problem is the total media oversaturation. It’s not just the coverage, it’s that the coverage is lazy. Every newspaper, TV and radio station has a field day, essentially rehashing the same old stories they ran last year. The papers always do the same things: pick an All City Team and of course, regale us with tales from the classic matchups way back in 2002 and if we’re lucky, list out the players who have the best statistics in the series for each side. The radio coverage is even less creative. Essentially, all hosts spend the week on autopilot, taking phone calls that go like invariably like this: “I’ve been a Cubs/White Sox fan for over 20/40/200 years and I just want to say that all those Cubs/White Sox fans out there are nothing but white trash/yuppie scum/overweight meth addicts/mincing faries/idiots who only go to the park so they can get drunk/start fights/wave while talking on their cell phone/run on the field and attack various umpires and opponents. Finally, you can count on every TV station in the city to dig up every two-bit hack that ever played for both teams, to ask them about the differences between Cubs and Sox fans. It has been like that all week, and will be again in the week leading up to the 2nd series. So you will have to forgive me if I’m a little less than enthused about the whole rivalry thing.

However, I did want to take a quick look at this series, because it does have some important implications for both teams. For the Sox it’s pretty simple, they need to keep piling up wins. Despite jumping out to the best record in the majors, they aren’t running away from the Twins who are only 5 games back in the division. With a lot of games left to play between the two rivals, the White Sox need to pour it on now, as they have not fared well against Minnesota during the late season series. Also, while I think that the Sox are counting on Frank Thomas to bolster the lineup and guys like Konerko and Dye to improve their performances, their pitching is likely to slump at some point, and it’d be nice to have a cushion when that happens.

The Cubs are another story. They are trying to build some momentum after winning 5 of their last 7, but to be honest, they haven’t beaten anyone who’s very good, and they haven’t exactly looked like world beaters in those games either. So this is the weekend when we find out what this team is made of. Will they prove to be a legitimate playoff contender, just a brilliant Jim Hendry trade away from the World Series? Or will Derrek and the Dominos be knocked over by the seemingly invincible White Sox? One thing is for sure, with the pitching matchups favoring the Cubs the pressure is on Dusty Baker. If the Cubs are embarrassed at home by their in-city rivals, Baker’s job is going to be in serious jeopardy. I believe that the key for the Cubs will have to be the suddenly resurgent bullpen. They’ve been good as of late, but is this real, or is it just a death rattle before the next implosion? If the answer is the latter, then this could be Dusty Baker’s last Cross-town Series.

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