Archive for May, 2006

Basebrawl

Saturday, May 20th, 2006

Okay it’s all over now except the shouting. I’ve had a chance to review footage of the Barrett/Pierzynski incident several times. The more I see it the more I’m compelled to say that both players should receive suspensions of equal length – Pierzynski for instigating and Barrett for reacting in an unsportsmanlike manner.

Even Barrett admits that the original hit was clean, what bothers me is how the Sox’ catcher lowers his shoulder into Barrett after the play just like a pulling guard would in football. It is unfortunate that Barrett reacted in an immature manner but it’s hard to imagine how I would respond in a similar situation.

Now the Cubs will lose their second-best hitter for several games. I hope that Barrett will show some character and apologize for his actions; Pierzynski has a questionable reputation and anybody that watches this incident can clearly see why. A normal ballplayer would have given Barrett a hand and pulled him up to his feet. But I’ve yet to hear anybody accuse AJ Pierzynski of having class. Hope you enjoy immortality AJ, your picture with Barrett ranks right up there with Robin Ventura’s photo op with Nolan Ryan.


Joe’s Take

Pierzynski’s Role – A.J., while I agree is easy to hate, plays aggressive baseball. I do not blame him for any of this fight and I actually would not even suspend him. If you watch the film, he went in hard, which any good baseball player in a rivalry better do. If you slide in that circumstance, you’re a pansy. Plain and simple. It’s not being a thug to barrel over a guy. The objective is to win. As far as the plate slap, who cares? In a moment of pure adrenaline like that, of course you’re going to have that release. That was perfectly fine. Then, he gets up, DOES NOT walk toward Barrett, Barrett simply grabs HIM. They exchange looks and Barrett clocks him. Where in that is A.J. an instigator? He’s not.

Barrett’s Role – You block the plate? Expect to get pounded!!!! Don’t come up and be a hot head. Barrett lost his cool and HE is the only player besides the ones off the bench that were involved that should be disciplined.

Feel free to disagree with me, but you’re wrong. =)

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Let’s Play GM

Saturday, May 20th, 2006

Well, all hell has broken lose now and it has become very clear that this team is going nowhere fast. Obviously I know the usual lines: “It’s early” “We have so many more games to play”. Blah Blah Blah. I want the team to win as much as anyone else, but I am realizing now that if we think this team is actually close to contending for a title, then we’re crazy. There is a difference with being a decent team and being a team contending for a title. With that being said, I want to play GM for an afternoon and tell you what my plan would be if I were to be hired today.

Trade Block
Juan Pierre – I was as excited about getting him as anyone else, but when I take a closer look at his numbers, we should have been worried about the massive drop from 2004 to 2005 in the numbers. His batting average went from .326 to .276 and his OBP went from .374 to .326. Those are huge drops. That, coupled with his average defense, terrible arm, and miserable start to this season seem to make Juan Pierre a mistake. I put him on the block, but at this point, what can we really expect to get in return. Pierre will be a FA and hasn’t hit well. That’s not a guy in high demand.

The Rest of the team

First base – I bring up Brandon Sing to try his hand at 1b until Derrek Lee returns. He is a patient hitter that knows how to draw walks and has some pop in his bat. John Sickel’s mentions “His MLEs show him as a .240ish hitter at the major league level, albeit with enough power and walks to be useful.” It’s worth giving him a try while Lee is out. He’s struggling in AAA a little, but I like his plate discipline. There is definitely no need to go out and get a guy like Conine to play 1b when we have young guys to do it.

Second Base – No more of this 9 headed second base nightmare. After we move Sing to 1b, Todd Walker can go back to playing 2b. Jerry Hairston is again assigned to bench duty, with the occasional starts in the OF and on Walker off days. Neifi Perez would then be the odd man out. He has no value for THIS team. That is not to say he’s not a valuable player on another team. Perez is the type of player you want on your bench as a utility guy with a good late inning glove. Unfortunately, the Cubs see him as a regular in the starting lineup. He probably has some trade value to a team looking for some depth in the IF.

Shortstop – Ronny Cedeno is going to be our starter for years. I feel good about him. Don’t let the errors fool you. He knows how to field the ball. He’s still in learning mode. Once he starts to get a better feel for the hitters, you’ll see a lot less errors from him. He stays.

Third Base – People are going to think I’m crazy for this one, but here me out. I trade Aramis Ramirez for young SP to hopefully anchor the rotation of the future. We could probably get one very good arm, maybe two. Perhaps San Diego would be interested in Aramis and we could get a guy like Cesar Carrillo out of the deal. He’s a local kid out of Mt. Carmel H.S. who went to Miami and lit it up. He has good movement on his fastball and has great command of his pitches. He can get you out in all kinds of way. Most importantly, he throws ground balls. The reason I even consider trading Ramirez is simple. Back problems. This guy doesn’t work hard to keep his body in shape and we’re going to get burned bad if we keep him. We stole him when we got him. Now, let’s sell high and pawn him on someone else. Plus, I hate when he doesn’t hustle. Then, with Ramirez gone, we can see what Theriot can do with the bat over at 3b, which is a position he plays.

Outfield – Murton stays and plays every day. With Pierre gone, the time is almost right for Pie, though not yet. He’s just not hitting good enough quite yet for the promotion. Although, by the time Pierre gets traded, which could take awhile for us to get him up to the point where we could get value for him, Pie may be ready. Assuming we trade Pierre right away, and get decent value, it leaves us with a couple of options to explore in CF. 1) We throw Hairston out there every day and finally see what he can do as a regular player. 2) We bring up a kid like Buck Coats from Iowa and see what he can do with some time. Then, in late July or early August, I hand the reigns over to Pie and see what he’s got for the final two months of the season. Jacque Jones, we are stuck with. Although, he’s really not THAT bad. I can deal with watching him out there if it means we have a chance to see some of the other kids play.

Rotation – Prior (Hopefully), Wood, Maddux, Zambrano, Marshall

Basically, my defense looks something like this:

C – Barrett
1b – Sing
2b – Walker
3b – Theriot
SS – Cedeno
LF – Murton
CF – Hairston or Coats
RF – Jones

Is it a roster that is going to score a ton of runs? Of course not, but the most important thing right now is to evaluate what we have so we know where to go with it. As far as the manager goes, I am torn. There really isn’t anyone out there worth going for is there? Bobby Valentine, Lou Piniella, etc are all names that are mentioned, but really, are they any better than Baker? I think Joe Girardi was our guy and we missed it. Another option would be a guy like Brenly as a stop gap or perhaps see about luring a guy like Mark Grace out of a the booth. I’m not sure the kind of person it would take. That’s the hardest thing.

So what do you think? We scrap the season, without really dismantling the team and take some time to see what this farm system has to offer. In addition, we potentially get a very nice SP to help the rotation. When you couple him with Zambrano, Prior, assuming he gets healthy, and Pawelek, that could be a nice start. Until we see what he actually HAVE, we can know where we need to GO. What was once considered one of the top farm systems in the majors is not one of the thinnest. Aside from a couple of names that are considered top guys, we have a farm of fringe players that probably are career minor leaguers or major league bench material. Let’s start sifting through what we have.

Now it’s your turn. Sound off on me and my plan. Come up with your own.

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Game 1: Advantage WhiteSox

Friday, May 19th, 2006

Let’s face it folks, there’s nothing to be disappointed about insofar as today’s game; we were simply beaten by a better team. In fact, when you compare the two organizations, the Chisox have a better GM, a better manager, a better team and a better minor league organization. I give the Cubs the nod in the ownership area – otherwise we’re outclassed by these heathens from the South Side in every other category. My hat’s off to the WhiteSox – it’s their day in the sun. One of these years us North Siders will get our priorities straight and it will be our turn for glory!

In unrelated news today, the Chicago Tribune’s very own weblog reports that Andy MacPhail and Jim Hendry have met with Cubs beat reporter Paul Sullivan and his boss about the way the Trib is covering the Cubs this year. They are reputedly “unhappy” about their coverage. So what do they want, censorship? It’s the Chicago Tribune, not Pravda. Methinks MacPhail and Hendry should improve their product, the press coverage will take care of itself. More bumbling and incompetence from the Cubs’ front office, Cubs fans deserve better.

Down on the farm:
The I-Cubs have won three straight and Felix Pie had a homerun in the last game. They have also released lefthanded starter Raul Valdes and leftfielder Matt Padgett. Valdes was scouted when I saw him in Nashville and will be picked up immediately by somebody – Padgett is a career minor leaguer who had some decent years recently with the Isotopes but couldn’t cut it in Iowa. Daytona won their sixth in a row in a come from behind victory and 2005 second round draft pick Donnie Veal improved to 3-2 3.07 ERA with a 5-1 win for Peoria. Contrary to earlier reports, 2005 first round draft pick Mark Pawelek will begin his season with the short season Boise Hawks on June 19th.

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What would it take?

Friday, May 19th, 2006

As we get closer to the series kickoff with the neighbors, I am reminded of a story that my friend Rob shared with me. He told me about a fan that was fed up with his team, which happened to be the Royals, and sold his allegiance to them on E-Bay. I did a little searching and found the story on SI.com.

Chad Carroll auctioned off 25 years of loyalty to the Royals on eBay on Tuesday, along with jerseys, hats, baseballs and other memorabilia.

And in a spate of irony, faithfulness to a club with one of the smallest payrolls in Major League Baseball sold for a paltry $278.47.

“It really does feel like a big weight has been lifted,” Carroll, 34, who lives in Maryland but grew up listening to Kansas City games from his home in Iowa, told The Kansas City Star. “I really can’t tell you how good it feels. I really can’t.”

A group of nine friends bid for Carroll’s freedom, splitting the cost and earning the right to select his new favorite team.

Imagine being so fed up with losing that you completely give up on your team and choose another one. Really, it’s unheard of and I’m not exactly sure why. What about sports teams draws us in so deep that we can’t ever free ourselves from pain and begin again?

Last year the White Sox did the unthinkable and won the World Series. Throughout the end run to the title, tons of Cub fans quickly changed allegiance temporarily to cheer on the hometown team. Some scoffed and said that they were sellouts or fair weather fans. However, when you spend your entire life as a fan and only experience storms, when does it become OK to long for some sunshine?

This is a question that Cub fans are beginning to seriously consider. Sure, we’re not going to go out and sell our things on E-Bay, but Cub fans have to see how good things look on the Southside these days. They have to see the green grass on the other side of the U.S. Cellular fence. When the Sox won the World Series, what did they do but go out and make their club stronger by adding Thome and Javier Vasquez. Instead of becoming complacent for the next hundred years, Kenny Williams worked the phone and has tried to repeat as champions, something that hasn’t happened since the Yankee’s three peat in the late 90′s. Ozzie Guillen has been asked on numerous occasions what it would take for the City to become a Sox city. He has always replied that it would take at least two championships. Well, that could be a very real possibility as the Sox are currently playing .650 baseball and the Cubs are not even close to .500.

So as you’re watching the games this weekend on TV or in person, think about what it would take for you to switch over to a new team. Here are some questions for you to answer in the comment section.

1) What needs to happen with the Cubs to provoke you to switch completely over to a new team?
2) What team would you consider? Why?
3) Would you ever consider cheering for a team like the Yankees since they know how to win?

Hopefully the 2 out of 3 we took from the Nationals is the start of something good to come this year. I doubt it, but you never know what to expect from anyone, including crazy ex Royals fans.

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Nats Avoid Sweep

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

box score

For awhile I fully expected to see him riding into Wrigley on the back of a donkey while children lay palm leaves in his path and the crowd chanting Hosannas from the stands. Though he didnít exactly get crucified by the Washington Nationals, Kerry Woodís Triumphal Return was rudely interrupted as the Prodigal Son (switching biblical metaphor here) got knocked around for 4 earned runs (3 home runs) in 5 innings and once again there just wasnít enough offense to erase a 5-0 deficit.

The bullpen did pretty well in the last 4 innings, tho Ohman delivered up another run.

Juan Pierre continues to struggle. 0 for 5. Ugh.

Most interesting commentary had to do with the importance of the Official Scorer. Brenly pointed out that it’s all a matter of perspective. As a player who might face arbitration, a hit here or there could make a difference, especially if as a pitcher it makes a difference on how many earned runs you have tagged against you. But as a manager, who cares? Only thing that matters is if the team won the game.

Speaking of the game, Neifiís good intentions of bunting for a base hit in the 9th was overshadowed by his inability to once again execute. Game over.

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Wisdom from the Staff Ace

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006


Freddie Bynum must be watching some old Nike commercials….

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SQUEEZE!

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

Man I love watching those plays! About the only play that’s more exciting is a straight steal of home. The Cubs looked great again tonight in another convincing victory over the Nats, and Woody takes the hill tomorrow. Jacque Jones is flirting with an .800 OPS now and there was even a sign in right field that said “no more boos!” The Cubs pitchers have only given up five hits in the last two games as Sean Marshall et al combined for a one-hitter.

No roster move was announced but Freddie Bynum hit a homer and Theriot pinch-hit so I assume Jae-kuk Ryu was sent down. Theriot will go down tomorrow unless Ramirez is headed to the DL, which I don’t suspect to be the case. When will Ramirez and Prior get personal trainers and begin to condition themselves like athletes?

In the minors, Adam Greenberg and Brandon Sing were sent down from Iowa to West Tenn and Micah Hoffpaiur and former Cubs #3 overall pick Luis Montanez were promoted to Iowa. Montanez hit .369 for the Diamond Jaxx and also had 25 RBIs and 5 stolen bases. Third baseman Scott Moore is hitting .298 7 HR 27 RBI for West Tenn and Eric Patterson has compiled a .303 4 HR 17 RBI record thusfar with 14 stolen bases. Bobby Brownlie appears to be in his final throes as a Cub prospect; his ERA is 11.05 after getting hammered at Iowa. West Tenn’s bullpen features three pitchers with ERAs under 2.00, including closer Clay Rapada who has 11 saves.

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Winning isn’t everything…

Wednesday, May 17th, 2006

But it sure beats the heck out of losing. Amazing how much difference even one win makes. Cubs fans finally had a chance to scream and holler…and even ignore another bonehead baserunning blunder by Jacque Jones. Carlos Zambrano looked like Carlos Zambrano again and I saw a lot of line drives, even on outs. The Cubs still need a hitting instructor to teach them how to work counts though, Hernandez even managed one five-pitch inning for the Nationals.

BTW Jones is now hitting at a healthy clip, he’s sporting a .775 OPS and his trend is upward. Now he has to get his head back into the game when it comes to baserunning and hitting cutoff men.

Today’s Chicago Tribune poll shows that only 34% of Chicagoans favor Dusty’s immediate dismissal. In fact, Chicagoans seem to be evenly divided as to whether or not Dusty should be clipped now, given till the end of the season, or re-hired. This surprises me because Chicago is typically not a city that sits on the fence.

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I’m sorry I can’t help it

Monday, May 15th, 2006

Brought to you courtesy of http://cubsfun.blogspot.com/. Check out the “freefall” graphic at that site – funny stuff!

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