Archive for September, 2005

Thru Cub Eyes: Kerry Wood

Friday, September 30th, 2005

With this being the last Friday of the regular season, this feature ends as well. But look for special editions at times over the winter. You never know if or when another excerpt from Carrie Muskatís fine compilation Banks to Sandberg to Grace will pop up. Thank you Ms. Muskat for allowing this series to run, Joe for his support and the encouragement from all of our readers, even Drew the Shrew.

Kerry

The only pitching coach I ever had was my dad. He started me with my mechanics. I had pretty strong mechanics, even as a young pitcher. My mechanics never got messed with. Theyíre still pretty much the same now as they were when I was younger. I never really had a pitching coach try to change my mechanics. The arm strength is just God-given, so you go from there.

I like strikeouts. They give you a little rush of adrenaline. And thereís days when I go out and get 27 ground balls if I can. But the days you go out, and you feel good, and you have good stuff, and you go 0-1 or 0-2 on a hitter ñ those are good days.

Iíve seen the film of the game against Houston. I canít believe itís me, just from the control standpoint. Itís just that day, that particular day, I was getting the calls, I was getting some breaks. A lot of luck was on my side. Everything had to work a certain way. Guys were swinging at bad pitches. I was getting borderline calls. The control was just there. I canít explain it. It pretty much came out of nowhere.

What would I be doing if I wasnít playing baseball? Thatís a pretty good question. I probably wouldnít be doing anything. Iíd be living with my parents, theyíd be supporting me. I wasnít big on school. I hated school. Iíve only got one talent. Fortunately, it worked for me. Iíve had success with it, and Iím going to ride it as long as I have it.

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Flawed Logic

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

Jeff Vorva of the Daily Southtown has a piece in Thursday’s sports section that states that Dusty Baker, when asked about what he would desire for next year’s team stated that he would like to see the Cubs bring in some good men. He states that playing at Wrigley during the day as the Cubs do for so many of their games is “conducive to clean-living guys with families rather than single guys who like to hang out.”

After reading the full article, I came to the conclusion to Dusty is just, once again, making excuses for his lack of managerial prowess. I did a quick look at the Cubs media guide and found the marital status of the Cubs players to see what type of team we had this year. Here is what I found.

Married Players
Ryan Dempster
Nomar Garciaparra
Jerry Hairston
Will Ohman
Mark Prior
Glendon Rusch
Kerry Wood

Married with Children (# of Children)
Michael Barrett (1)
Hank White (2)
Joe Borrowski (1)
J. Burnitz (3)
Chad “Mr. Sly” Fox (3)
Latroy “The King” Hawkins (2)
Todd Hollandsworth (2)
Derrek Lee (1)
Greg Maddux (2)
Aramiz Ramirez (1)
Mike Remlinger (2)
Todd Walker (2)
Scott Williamson (1)
Carlos Zambrano (2)

Eligible Bachelors
Jason Dubois
Mike Fontenot
Jon Koronka
Jose Macias
Sergio Mitre
Roberto Novoa
Corey Patterson
Todd Wellemeyer
Mike Wuertz

Now, when I look at that list, I see that 70% of our guys are at least married. Of the guys that are not married, only 1 is a regular starter. So everyday, we are marching 8 of 9 guys out their that are married men. If Wrigley is more conducive to married guys with families and not partiers, then why did the Cubs struggle so badly? Perhaps, and I could be wrong on this, it’s not a matter of partying, but rather talent. I have a hard time believing that if we were to bring in a guy like Derrek Jeter or David Wells, two known partiers, that they would be terrible pickups. It goes deeper than that. Dusty simply does not do a very good job preparing his club for success.

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Image of the Day

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

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About Nomar…

Tuesday, September 27th, 2005

Considering we spent most of last week debated the return of Greg Maddux to the Cubs for 2006, and since the team hasn’t done anything notable since then (besides being officially eliminated from contention), I decided to take the advice of one of our readers and address the situation of another Cubs player whose future with the team is up in the air: Nomar Garciaparra.

I was sort of hoping that Nomar would make the decision easy for me. Either he wouldn’t return from his groin injury this season, or if he did, he would continue the slump that had plagued him at the start of the season. Or maybe that being on a struggling team would finally cause those “selfish tendencies” he supposedly exhibited in Boston to finally surface. Instead, Nomar totally dedicated himself to his rehab, volunteered to play 3rd base when Aramis Ramirez went down, and has hit the cover off the ball since returning. Logic tells me that there’s no way in hell the Cubs should re-sign Nomar next year. He’s on the wrong side of 30, his production is declining and he’s injury prone.

So I figured I’d list out the pros and cons of keeping Nomar:

Pros
Hit .310/.343/.523 for an .866 OPS since returning from injury.

Volunteered to move to 3rd base to help the team. Might be open to moving to left field.

Line drive hitter, who uses all fields, something that Cubs have sorely lacked lately.

Still has a strong arm.

If the Cubs move quickly in the offseason, they can probably sign him for even less money than they did for 2005.

Cons
Suffered a major injury that will probably affect his lateral movement, making him a less effective shortstop. And his defense wasn’t that great before the injury.

His overall .751 OPS doesn’t look as impressive in the outfield as it does at shortstop.

Has played in 138 games in the last 2 years. At this point the injuries have to be seen as a trend.

He may want to become a free agent. In the past Nomar has expressed interest in playing on the West coast, and the Dodgers will need a shortstop and a 3rd baseman next year.

Conclusion
The Cubs are built on pitching, so I’m not sure they can afford to play Nomar at shortstop full time, especially when you consider the fact that the team may have to find a replacement for him if he gets injured again. However, the Cubs outfield was brutal this year, and I’d love it if Nomar agreed to play left or right field in 2006. While his power numbers may not be great for a corner outfielder, if there’s anything the Cubs have taught us the last two years it’s that home runs can be overrated. And it would be a lot easier to find a good replacement outfielder than a shortstop should Nomar suffer another injury setback.

What do you think?

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Thru Cub Eyes: Greg Maddux

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

Up until the 1990ís, the biggest goof by Cub brass was trading away Lou Brock. With the failure to sign Greg Maddux, I believe Brock slipped to #2. Who was to blame? Greg? GM Larry Himes? Scott Boras, Madduxí agent? Let the debate continue. The excerpt is from Carrie Muskatís compilation Banks to Sandberg to Grace. [The three pitchers he mentions below were starters Jose Guzman, Greg Hibbard and closer Randy Myers.]

Greg

They originally made me an offer that I accepted three days later. I didnít accept it on the spot. I called back three days later and accepted the offer, but that wasnít good enough. Because I had turned it down on the spot, it was no longer available to me.

And then at the All Star break, after I had made the All-Star team and was on my way to having another good year, they made me the exact same offer. And I think they knew I would turn it down. And I did. After the season, they made the exact same offer again. It never changed. The argument we had at the time was what my market value was. They said they were willing to pay me my market value, and I was willing to sign for a little less than that but we didnít know what that was. The only way to find out was to go through free agency. And once I talked to the Yankees and the Braves, then they no longer had any interest in signing me.

I think really it was all a bunch of hogwash. I think what they wanted to do was to get three pitchers instead of one and they didnít say it. Thatís why it got ugly. Looking back on it, as much as I enjoyed playing in Chicago and as much as I enjoyed living there and being a Cub, the grass was greener on the other side.

Iím glad it happened. At the time I was crushed. Iím glad it happened.

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Maddux: My Thoughts

Wednesday, September 21st, 2005

As promised, I’d like to share my opinions on what I would like to see Maddux do for the 2006 season. I’d like to first take a look at 3 of Greg Maddux seasons in his career to compare some numbers.

Year W L G GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB K ERA
1990 15 15 35 35 8 2 237 242 116 91 11 71 144 3.46
2004 16 11 33 33 2 1 212 218 103 95 35 33 151 4.02
2005 12 13 32 32 2 0 203.2 217 101 97 26 34 124 4.31

If you look at those numbers, you’ll notice that Maddux numbers really have not declined from his earlier days as an Atlanta Brave. With Prior & Zambrano the only locks in the 2006 rotation, I think you absolutely have to have Maddux back in ’06 for this team to have any shot at all at competing. Zambrano, Prior, Maddux and then it’s pick two from the list of question marks and hope. Wood, Rusch, Williams, Koronka, Hill, Dempster, Mitre or Guzman. It’s actually quite scary how uncertain our staff has become. If Maddux can add any type of stability in that rotation, by all means, bring him back.

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Maddux

Tuesday, September 20th, 2005

A lot of what I read these days seems to revolve around if Greg Maddux will return to Chicago next year. My question to you is this. What are the PRO’s and CON’s to him returning to the ballclub next year to finish his contract and probably retire? I’ll be back tonight to let you know what I think about the issue, but for now, please sound off with your opinion.

Also, I apologize for the lack of quality writing from me this last month or so. My wife and I recently moved into our first home and if you’ve ever moved before, you know what stress that involves. If not, head over to Andy’s weblog and take a look at all the work he’s done to his house to make it the kickin’ bachelor pad it is at the moment.

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Just What the Doctor Ordered

Sunday, September 18th, 2005

Well, now that Cubs seem to be done pretending that they are in the Wild Card race, but with the offseason too far away to start speculating on free agents, the time has come for a little distraction from baseball. For me, that distraction came this weekend in the form of poorly played golf and the one team that bring Cubs fans and Sox fans together…the Chicago Bears. As you may recall, prior to the Bears opening game against Washington, I picked the Bears to beat the ‘Skins 17-6, thus proving that I missed my true calling as a TV weather forecaster. So I, like many Bears fans, came into this weekend’s game against Detroit with serious doubts. Detroit had easily beaten Green Bay, shutting down Bears nemesis’ Brett Favre and Ahman Green. They had what could be one of the best young offenses in the league, with first round picks Charles Rogers, Roy Williams, Kevin Jones, Joey Harrington and Mike Williams. Listening to sports talk radio didn’t do much for my attitude either: according to most callers, Lovie Smith needed to be fired, most of the players cut, and the stadium shoved into Lake Michigan. Sunday’s Chicago Tribune was worst of all. In the head to head matchups of QB, RB, WR, OL, DL, LB, DBs, special teams and coaching, the Bears were seen to have an edge only at the running back and special teams positions. I waited anxiously today for noon to come, knowing full well that at that time, the mighty Detroit Lions would emerge from the tunnel, the sky would darken, Lake Michigan would boil, the earth would open up and swallow the Bears, and Chicago would be annexed as the latest suburb of Detroit. Well, it turns out, the experts know about as much as I do. The Bears dominated the game, scoring on offense, defense and special teams, running the ball at will, and seemingly catching more of Joey Harrington’s passes than his receivers did (it appears that putting Mr. Harrington in charge of such a high powered offense was, as Dan Hampton would say, like letting a monkey drive a limousine).

And so, after a 38-6 butt kicking, all was right with the world. The Bears vaulted into first place of the NFC North, and both the Vikings and Green Bay lost badly, thus raising hopes that just maybe, this our year. But if it isn’t, at least I can savor this victory for another full week, before the Bears have to go out and do it again. It even makes up for the bad golf.

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Thru Cub Eyes: On Vacation

Friday, September 16th, 2005

Series resumes next Friday. I was going to do The Universe but why ruin a perfectly good Friday with his self-centered ego-maniacal drivel? No post is better than a lousy post.

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