Archive for September, 2006

Cubs take series from the Dodgers

Thursday, September 14th, 2006

Today was the battle of the wounded wing pitchers as the Dodgers and Hong-chih Kuo met Wade Miller and the Cubs in front of another sparse crowd at Wrigley Field. Wade Miller actually didn’t look too bad, giving up two earned runs on a dinger to Marlon Anderson in five innings of work. The Cubs promptly tied the game up but Carlos Marmol got shelled, giving up three runs to the Dodgers on a homer to JD Drew.

The Cubs came to life when the Dodgers brought in Brett Tomko – Cedeno and Pierre singled, then The Riot did a beautiful job of hitting the ball where it was pitched, sending it bounding into right and scoring Cedeno. Aramis Ramirez then came up and launched one into the left field bleachers, giving the Cubs a 6-5 lead. Dusty did the right thing in the ninth, going to Bob Howry for the close and saving Dempster for a less critical situation. Ryan Theriot was removed from the game with a bleeding fingertip, the injury did not appear to be critical.

Cincinnati comes to town tomorrow and I shall be blacked out until Sunday due to the fact that Major League Baseball actually thinks that people in Nashville, TN care about the Cincinnati Reds. What sense does that make? Why would most people in Tennessee actually care about some team up north? Baseball’s blackout rules are truly draconian!

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Cubs lose 6-0, Rusch’s career uncertain due to blood clot

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

Today the Cubs announced that Glendon Rusch will begin treatment for a blood clot in his lung; Rusch was rushed to the hospital on Tuesday after he began experiencing chest pains. The treatment regimen is scheduled to last 3-6 months and his baseball future is uncertain. I am going to put aside my opinions about Glendon’s baseball ability and future with the Cubs to wish him Godspeed and hope that he fully recuperates.

That having been said, Angel Guzman lowered his record to 0-6 and increased his ERA to 7.81 tonight as the Cubs got drummed by Nomar and the Dodgers. As has often been the case, Guzman looked as though he was throwing BP and was out of there after 4 innings. He reminds me a lot of a pitcher the Mets and Cubs had named Anthony Young; Anthony looked like he had all the tools but the one tool he lacked was the one that he needed to win ballgames. Other highlights from tonights game: Nomar went 2-5 with 2 doubles and 2 RBIs, Furcal went 3-5 with a homer and 3 runs scored, Izturis made another bad play at short and Ryu pitched an effective ninth inning of relief.

The good part of this year has been the opportunity we’ve gotten to see the young pitchers from the AA and AAA levels. Hill looks like he might be ready to join the rotation; Marshall and Mateo are question marks and each will have about three more starts to show us what they have. I think both Ryu and Marmol will start out at Iowa and benefit from some more seasoning at the minor league level; look for Chris Shaver to promote to Iowa and he’ll be knocking on the door as well.

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Is it worth it?

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

I’m not a big fan of hockey anymore. Between moving the North Carolina and the strike, my interest in the Blackhawks has quickly faded. However, I did happen to notice this story the other day.

The Islanders and goalie Rick DiPietro agreed to a 15-year, $67.5 million contract, believed to be the second-longest in North American sports

Obviously, I know this is a baseball site. So, my question to you the reader is this.

If you were going to sign a current player in the major league’s to a 15 year deal at their current age, who would it be and why? Perhaps you’re of the school, like I am, that no player is worth a contract this long. I’m interested in who people see as valuable in baseball these days. Also, include the maximum dollar amount you would pay per year.

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A comedy of errors

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

It was a comedy of errors tonight in Wrigley Field, fortunately Cesar Izturis’ 11th inning basehit prevented the game from ending like a Greek tragedy. The Cubs had six defensive miscues and nearly gave the ballgame to the Dodgers. Ryan Dempster earned yet another blown save – this time he watched helplessly as Cesar Izturis demonstrated brick hands on an easy grounder and Derrek Lee showed Cubs fans his best impression of Billy Buckner on another infield groundball. Freddie Bynum again proved that he has the hands of a sturgeon at second base tonight, committing three errors and a poor throw in two innings. At one point the Dodgers led the hapless Cubs 7-0.

Luckily the Cubs are learning about Bynum now instead of next year – this guy makes Soriano look like a Gold Glove second baseman. Probably the lowlights of the game came in the fifth and seventh innings when the Cubs had clusters of basehits. These egregious demonstrations of base-clogging had to have made Dusty furious, fortunately in the fifth Jacque Jones delivered a key strikeout to prevent the Cubs from totally filling the bases with useless baserunners. Matt Murton then saved the day by hitting a double down the line, thus clearing the bases and making the score 7-5.

Then later in the seventh the Cubs filled the bases again and thusly tied the game. But then came the errors – finally the Cubs were able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat when they got two more baserunners in the eleventh frame and Izturis singled up the middle to defeat his erstwhile teammates.
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In other major league action, a fistfight broke out between Kansas City’s catcher John Buck and their pitcher Runlevys Hernandez after the third inning. Hernandez gestured to the Royals’ receiver as they were returning to the dugout and then the fur began to fly. KC players stopped the fight and both players went back in after the altercation.

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Debate Team

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

Is there anything better than a good ole fashioned debate on the criteria for the MVP award? Is it for the player who is most valuable to his team? Or should it go to the guy with the best stats? Should it go to only hitters or should pitchers be included? We discuss these as well as give our picks for who should win based on various criteria. In addition, we discuss the wild card races in both leagues as we head down the stretch.

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A solemn day as baseball observes 9/11

Monday, September 11th, 2006

Today baseball showed it’s classy side as remembrances were observed across the country. Without commenting I’ve included some of the significant photos of today’s ceremonies throughout the league. The rest of this post will be devoted to baseball activities involving the Cubs.

When Hill takes the hill….

Good things happen. Earlier in the season I was thinking it would make sense to move Rich out to the pen and have him take Ohman’s job as lefty specialist. He was getting consistently rocked – he threw his fastball right down the pipe and it seemed like everybody knew when that big bender was coming and they sure timed it. Hill got demoted to AAA Iowa and promptly resumed doing what he’s done at every level in the minors – he struck out batters right and left, had a miniscule ERA and kept hits and bases on balls to an absolute minimum.

So I watched with great approbation when Hill came back up to the majors, to my surprise it appeared that Hill was now avoiding the center of the plate with his fastball and he had begun to throw his bender less predictably. He also had begun to toy with a changeup and a slider that had a wicked downward break.

So now we have to wonder if it might make sense to pencil Hill into the starting rotation for next year – we’ll have three more starts or so to make decisions. If Hill can indeed earn a spot it means that the Cubs can go with Zambrano, Marshall and Hill as sure starters, get one quality free agent pitcher and let Prior, Marmol and Mateo battle it out for the fifth spot. Such a strategy would probably free up enough money to sign both Carlos Lee AND Zito and put the Cubs back on the map. Maybe that’s just crazy thinking but it sure is fun to speculate!

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Question of the Day

Monday, September 11th, 2006

Here is a discussion question for you. Assuming the Cubs decide to not bring back Dusty Baker for next year. If you are Jim Hendry, and you have three people interested in the job, which of the three do you choose?

Joe Girardi – Has done a great job with kids, but we’ve not seen what he can do with veterans on his roster. Also, lacks managing experience, especially in a big market like Chicago.

Bob Brenly – Likes to build with the farm, and has a ring. Some say he lacks good manager intelligence though.

Lou Pinella – Seems to have a reputation built on hype. He failed in Tampa and many were glad to see him go.

If those are your only three choices, who do you hire, and why?


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“Well, there you go again”

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

I always liked that old fella, sometimes I didn’t agree with his exact positions but I still would consider him to be one of the best Presidents of his time. You could trust the man. At one time in his life Ronald Reagan actually did play by play for the Cubs while he was a radio announcer for WHO in Des Moines, Iowa.

I can just imagine The Great Communicator watching the 2006 team lose it’s 87th game with 19 left to play. I can see Dusty offering his normal excuses as to why the team lost yet again and Reagan repeating the quip that he made famous in the 1980 debates. ‘Well, there you go again Dusty!’

More excuses, more of the same, more incompetent leadership, no ability to drive results, can’t get players excited, why is Hendry sitting on his hands? Oh, I know, Jim Hendry does what he says he is going to do. He can ignore results and “evaluate at his own pace” and rip the fans off by putting a shoddy product on the field because he’s the emperor of the Cubs. He can do whatever he wants!

All the while the Cubs slide lower and lower, they are on pace for a 64-98 season, the 6th-worst record in the team’s 131 year history.

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From out of the dust…

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

I’m not a Dusty Baker fan. Many in the CBA are not Baker fans. In my opinion he hasn’t done a lot to get people into his corner. All the same, I saw a quote that made me want to shrink myself down to the size of a moth, then fly into his head to the middle of the voluminous space within, then expand myself to normal size so that I can occupy his body and take over the team. And that’s saying a lot, because I know nothing about managing a baseball team and I wouldn’t know where to start on a shrink ray. Maybe cold water?
Anyway, this is the quote, regarding giving Cedeno the job vs. Theriot keeping the job when Izturis returns:

“We’ll see,” Baker said. “Theriot has done pretty good. We’re in the producing business.” …

I don’t have a problem with Lovie Smith saying things like that, because he does it. He’s benched vets in favor of younger players who produce, and vice-versa. Also, he wins. I tend to like that, too.
But this dude is NOT in the “producing” business. If he were in the producing business, he would understand that it’s never bad that a guy gets on base (no matter how much he might clog the bases) because more baserunners means more chances for runs. If he were in the producing business, he wouldn’t have played Neifi Perez, Dusty’s personal Chewbacca, as much as he did. If he were in the producing business, he’d let Matt “The Red Menace” Murton play every day and hit second and would make Jacque Jones sit every time a lefty came into the game.
The Baker approach has many strengths and I think he’d succeed in the right situation. Guys want to play for him because they feel safe. In theory that means free agents would want to come here and the guys we get would produce (the reality has not worked out that way, but given the many variables I’m willing to cut him a little slack). Guys know they can work through a slump without losing their jobs like they would under Bob Boone, or fantasy team owners, or me, probably.
But there is NOTHING in Baker’s history that says he’s “in the producing business.” There’s plenty in his past to suggest that he likes continuity and is comfortable with seeing the same thing every day. That ain’t all bad if you admit to it.

I was thinking about how I would have rephrased Dusty’s answer and I kept coming back to this: Dusty has never presented a plan for successful baseball. Apart from riding your starters until Dr. James Andrews disciples’ eyes turn into dollar signs every time he turns on WGN, and apart from favoring veterans, I don’t have any idea what he thinks a winning team does.

What are your guesses? What’s Dusty’s BIG IDEA for winning? Please share both serious and humorous thoughts.

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