Archive for July, 2005

More Wood

Monday, July 25th, 2005

One of our readers, Greg, made a very good point against sending Kerry Wood to the bullpen this year. Wood’s worst inning is almost always the first. His numbers for that inning are terrible compared to the rest of the game. So that would put a damper on bringing him into a game to pitch only one inning. I don’t really have a great argument against that, other than it’s possible that with Wood knowing he’s only going to pitch one inning, he’d have a different mindset and wouldn’t have to pace himself. Either way, though, I still don’t think Wood should be put back into the rotation. And now the Tribune has posted this little piece of news.

So Kerry Wood may need shoulder surgery. I can’t say that I’m very surprised by that. However, there’s one quote in the article that stood out for me:

He(trainer Mark O’Neal) said Wood would not risk further damage to the shoulder by pitching the rest of the season without the cleanup of his shoulder.

In other words, the question isn’t really how severe is the injury, the question is, can Kerry Wood pitch through the pain in his shoulder? It seems clear at this point that Wood can’t pitch effectively when the shoulder pain flares up. And he can’t carry the load of a starting pitcher without having the pain come back. The Cubs are too deep into the season to experiment with Wood’s shoulder in the starting rotation anymore. If Kerry needs surgery the team should shut him down now, and he should have the procedure, and hopefully come back ready for the start of 2006. Then maybe the Cubs can salvage the final year of his contract.

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Knock On Wood

Friday, July 22nd, 2005

The Cubs have announced that one again, Kerry Wood’s shoulder hurts. He received a cortisone shot on Thursday, and will miss 1-2 starts, according to the team. I think it’s safe to assume that Wood will likely be put on the 15 day DL and miss 2-3 starts, before being re-evaluated and then rehabbing before he returns again to the starting rotation. And I’d like to suggest that Wood NOT be returned to the rotation at all this year. The Cubs have several choices on who will take Kerry’s spot. Glendon Rusch, who has been very consistent as a starter; Sergio Mitre, who has alternated between being very good and quite bad; Rich Hill or Todd Wellemeyer, both of whom are doing decently at AAA Iowa; or some combination thereof. My first choice would be to put Glendon Rusch back in the starting rotation, calling up either Wellemeyer or Hill for the bullpen, as Glendon will probably have to stretch his arm out again, so he won’t be able to go deep into games yet. And once Rusch is in the rotation, leave him there for the rest of the season.
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When Wood is ready to return, the team will be in one of two situations: either they’ll be in a dogfight for the Wild Card, or they’ll be totally out of the playoff hunt. If the Cubs are out by that time (and I don’t think they will be) it’s a no brainer to shut down Wood for the season, and hope that just maybe he can get healthy for 2006. But if the Cubs are still in the hunt, it gets trickier, because Wood is definitely a more talented starter than Rusch or Jerome Williams. But while the talent is nice, the Cubs need more than that now. They need consistency. They need to know that their starting pitcher is going to take the ball on the fifth day and pitch six, seven, even eight innings. They cannot afford to have a guy start and then leave after 3 innings with “discomfort”. The Cubs bullpen is simply not good enough to be exposed for that many innings, especially considering that Greg Maddux is normally not going to give the team any more than 6 innings himself. If you have to pencil in your bullpen to throw 10 innings every five days, without even factoring in the starts of 3 other pitchers, you are not going to win.

I’ve said it’s insanity to pay a middle reliever 9.5 million dollars, but at this point, that’s what I think the Cubs will have to do. If Wood is able to come back and pitch this season, he needs to do it from the bullpen. I’m not suggesting that he be made the closer, and I’m not suggesting that this be permanent, Kerry can be put back into the rotation next year. Something that might help more this year is keeping Kerry stretched out as a 2 inning setup man in front of Ryan Dempster, or just having him ready to go on days when Maddux is pitching. Can you imagine what it would be like for batters to face Maddux’s offspeed stuff for 5 innings, and then have to contend with Kerry Wood’s fastball and slider for the next 3? Wood may someday blossom into the starter we all want him to be, but for the remainder of this year, he does the team more good in the bullpen.


Joe’s Farm Report

Hey Guys, I just wanted to add to the end of this post so i didn’t steal Chris’s thunder. Here are some stats I noticed down on the farm the last few days.

Todd Wellemeyer (SP) – 7 IP, 3 Hits, 0 Runs, 0 BB, 6 K’s and a 3.31 ERA in AAA

Mark Pawelek (SP) – 4 IP, 2 Hits, 1 Run, 1 BB, 3 K’s, and a 0.56 ERA so far in Rookie Ball

Corey Patterson (CF) – 2 for 5 with 2 hits, 2 runs, 1 RBI, a home run and 2 SB. Hitting .286 in AAA


Is it just me or does A.J. Burnett’s face look weird? It’s all bubbly

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Thru Cub Eyes: Rick Sutcliffe

Friday, July 22nd, 2005

For some players I have had a rather difficult time finding enough interesting material to share in this forum. Not this time. Our Friday feature player has many stories and few of them are brief. After the season I may include more from Mr. Sutcliffe. For now enjoy this excerpt from Carrie Muskatís fine compilation Banks to Sandberg to Grace. Next week look for an extended excerpt from Ryne Sandberg!

sutcliffe Rick Sutcliffe

If Zim had hair, it wouldíve been red like mine. Heís like a father to me. Weíre both opinionated. What made us so close was our desire to win. Sometimes that desire got us in trouble. Managers arenít supposed to win games; theyíre not supposed to lose games for you. He won 25 games for us in í89, just the stuff he did.

The biggest story was right after the All-Star break. I pitched against the Dodgers and threw a complete game on Friday. I wasnít named to the team but that was because of Lasorda. I got a call to replace Mike Scott, who got hurt. The manager picks the pitchers but when someone gets hurt, itís the commissioner or league president, and they picked me. I said ìNo, Iím not going.î

He said ìEverybody knows you deserve to be there.î So I go and pitch an inning. It was at the All-Star game when I knew Iíd hurt myself again.

After that I threw four or five games and none were good. Zim calls me into the office, and he starts airing me out. He says ìI can call a better game than you.î

I said ìIf you think you can call a better game, you call it.î

He didnít talk to me for four days. He didnít say a word. All of a sudden weíre in Shea Stadium and Iím in the trainerís room getting a pregame rub. Zim said ìCome into my office when youíre done.î

He says ìI ainít calling pitches.î I said ìWait a minute. Four days ago, youíre the smartest son of a bitch on earth.î He says ìYou want me to call pitches? Iíll call them.î

Joe Girardi is catching. The first pitch of the game, Zim calls a change-up. I never throw a change-up on the first pitch – – not even the first inning. I threw it, and everything went perfect.

Three innings, nine up, nine down. We score a run in the fourth. In the fifth, they get a base hit, walk a guy, bunt single. Bases loaded, Darryl Strawberry, in his prime, at the plate.

Here comes Zim out to the mound and he gets out there, and Girardi pulls his mask up. Zim puts his hand over his mouth which means heís going to cuss. He put his hand over his mouth because he didnít want people to see that on TV.

He says, ìIíve got one thing to say ñ youíre on your own.î And he walks back to the dugout. Joe and I are laughing. I heard that Harry said on the air, ìSteve, I donít know what they are laughing about. This is a pretty tense situation.î Strawberry pops up and Kevin McReynolds hits into a double play.

Joe and I go back to the dugout and I said ìBoys, we donít know if weíre going to win or not, but weíre on our own.î

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Growing Weary of ESPN

Thursday, July 21st, 2005

When Ken Burns released his documentary on the history of Baseball back in the 90ís, I remember being left with mixed feelings. On the one hand it was a genuine epic look at Americaís pastime. The photography, the music, the essence and feel of it rivaled Burnsí other masterpiece, The Civil War, in my opinion.

And yet, by the end I felt somewhat hollow by the sheer one-sidedness, the unapologetic lovefest for all things Yankees. I had taped the entire series, but in the end I gave my tapes to a friend who probably enjoyed them more than I.

As I seek to feed my insatiable hunger for baseball night after night thru the games themselves or Sportscenter and Baseball Tonight, and even analysis from Around the Horn, I find myself with similar frustrations toward ESPN. I get so tired of their obvious American League East bias I donít know what to do. No matter what other games are on the itinerary, the Yanks-Red Sox series gets first dibs. And when these two clubs arenít paired off, itís onto other match-ups, like last nightís Yanks-Rangers contest. I mean, wereít these two teams featured on Monday night as well?

There were other games I would have rather seen. The Twins-Orioles game featured two potential playoff teams and with Rafaelís recent milestone (and hot bat to boot) the game held much more interest than the one that was shown.

And what about some attention to the two clubs with the best record in baseball? Being a Cubs fan, I understand why Iím supposed to despise the White Sox but I cannot help but feel sorry for their Rodney Dangerfield status this year. Ditto for the Cardinals. Again, by law I cannot root for them but they are more deserving of consideration than the Yankees.

Given this blatant sucking up to all things Yankees, I finally figured out what ESPN stands for: Every Steinbrennerís Player Network.

Oh, you think you can do better? Fine, your turn.

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Joe on the Radio – Yet Again

Wednesday, July 20th, 2005

In light of the Jody Gerut / Jason Dubois trade, I have been invited on as a guest of Life’s a Pitch to talk about the trade with some tribe fans. If you would like to listen, I will be on at 10:00pm eastern time on Thursday night, which will probably be tonight when most of you are reading this. The link for the show is www.sportstalkcleveland.com I’d love to have you all tune in and give me some feedback. If you can’t tune in live, it will be archived as always to the right in our radio appearances section. Give that a look. You will like what you hear.

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