Archive for February, 2007

Balls and Strikes

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

Ball 1
-I’ve seen a couple of different baseball blogs mention an (as yet) unsubstantiated trade rumor involving the Brewers Geoff Jenkins for Jacque Jones. I, for one, am not a big Jones fan but I don’t see the point of this deal either. While I don’t like the guy, I do see Jones’ value to the team. For the moment anyway. I do believe that he is in a crowded outfield where he will eventually be trade bait, but I don’t think Jenkins would be the deal the Cubs are looking for. Which by the way, I DO think they are looking for a deal. Depth is one thing, but I think the Cubs have left themselves some options for an impact trade, depending on health and early season performance. I definitely think that any such deal could involve Jones, but I’m saving my thoughts on that for another post.

Strike 1
-Some reports have surfaced that the Cardinals have interest in Roger Clemens. The same reports also mention their interest in Pavano, Lieber, and Penny. Desperation may be too strong of a word, but I’m guessing their rotation looked stronger on paper than it has in camp. Just what I need, another reason to dislike the Cardinals. I was kind of liking the idea that Cardinals may have painted themselves into a corner this year. I usually admire the way they refuse to let pitchers dictate terms to their organization. Plus, over the last few years they’ve really found a way to get a lot from a little, in regards to their pitching. If they win the central this year with the projected starters that they have right now, I will cry.

Ball 2
-Telling the world how healthy the Cubs are in Spring Training seems to be a little premature and dangerous to me. You don’t spit into the wind, you don’t tug on superman’s cape, and you DO NOT flaunt health in Cubs camp in February. At least that’s how I think that song goes. I’ll admit that my optimism meter is pegged, but it always is this time of year. If healthy, Miller, Wood, and Prior could mean a lot to this year’s team…IF…A big fat February IF! I will remain guardedly optimistic for a while longer, thank you.

Strike 2
-Michael Barrett on a possible contract extension: “I will put no deadline or nothing on anything,” Barrett said. “For me, I feel like I’ve been through a lot as a player, and I feel completely blessed to be a part of this team. For me, if there’s a distraction that keeps you from appreciating putting on a Cubs uniform, then something ain’t right. That’s the way I feel.”

Hold on one second…I just….I just got a little something in my eye. **Sniffle**.

THE punch. The bleeding bean bag. Now this quote. Find all the faults in his defense that you want, but I love Michael Barrett’s attitude and toughness.

Ball 3
-Five freaking votes shy! Eight in ’05? This sucks for Ron Santo. 2009 is a long ways away, and we’re not talking about a man who is the picture of health. Posthumous awards stink, because ironically, they only mean something to the living.

Strike 3
-At least three different times in this young Spring Training, I’ve read that Lou Piniella has placed an emphasis on pitchers throwing strikes. I’ve already heard Prior repeat this new and innovative approach. Now this from Tribune writer Paul Sullivan:

Piniella’s objective with his pitchers is getting them to throw fastballs for strikes because last year’s staff led the National League in walks.
“We’ve talked to our catchers about getting them out on three, four pitches, as opposed to working the count,” Piniella said. “Not too many good things can come from long counts. First of all you’re letting the hitters see all of your pitches. Second of all your infielders aren’t going to be as attentive so they aren’t going to make as many good plays behind you. Third of all you have pitch counts and there are guys who will be out of games sooner than you would like. Fourth of all you’re in running counts all the time, so you’re opening up holes for the hitters to hit the ball through. And finally the manager is not going to be very pleased.”

AMEN!

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Ron Santo gets shafted again

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

What is the point of a veterans committee if they don’t seem to want to elect anyone? Ron Santo again fell short today of the mandatory 75% needed for election. He received 69.5%, which was five votes short of the 62 needed. This seems like a waste of time that continues to break a man’s heart year after year. Ron Santo wants to be in a hall of fame, deserves to be in the hall of fame, yet continues to be denied year after year.

Baseball needs to somehow step in and right this injustice. If you’re going to form a committee, then obviously there is a need. If that is the case, then things should be getting done. Santo will have his next chance at election in 2009.

Update from Mastrick: Keith Olbermann of ESPN Radio and MSNBC named Baseball’s Veterans Committee as his nightly “Worst Person in the World;” can’t says I disagree. Perhaps the Veterans Committee is not elitist, nonetheless I think that it’s authority should be rescinded and a better method should be adopted. Look at the names on Joe’s list!

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I wonder if this is the year

Monday, February 26th, 2007

The Hall of Fame veterans committee is set to announce their findings on Tuesday and a few names are legit possibilities. With that in mind, i’d like to take the time to quickly highlight a book I was sent recently to review. I am not generally a history of baseball kind of guy, so I am not as familiar with older players. Because of that, I didn’t enjoy the book as much as others I’ve been sent. However, if you do like baseball history, this is a good read for you.

The book takes you inside a number of players being considered by the committee and Sam Reich makes the case for some of them. One of the names mentioned is Ron Santo, who many feel is well overdue for his induction.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can do that right on their website.

Go out and get the book and get yourself some info.

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Happy Birthday, Mr. DeRosa!

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Mark

If anyone has a decent picture of Mark in a Cubs uniform, send me the link and I’ll switch it.

He does have nice teeth.

Anyone else see a resemblance to Ron “The Penguin” Cey?

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Illini Basketball – A Season from hell

Monday, February 26th, 2007

As an Illinois basketball fan, i’ve been very spoiled over the last few years. After all, this is a team that has been winning a lot lately. This year has been one of the toughest. Yes, Illinois seems like they’re headed back to the tournament, but if you look deeper, you’ll see a team that has had a very tough year and desperately needs some rest from the crazy bug. If you’re unfamiliar with what I’m talking about, let’s review.

Injuries bite hard – Injuries have hit the Illini hard. Broken noses, pulled groins, car accidents, etc. are killing this team. Bruce Weber said one time early in the year that he has trouble scrimmaging in practice because at any given time, he doesn’t ever have 10 healthy bodies.

DUI Issues – Both Rich McBride and Jamar Smith have had issues with driving while intoxicated this season. I don’t generally attribute that to the coach, because he can’t possibly go everywhere with them and make all their decisions for them. It’s time for kids to grow up and start making better, more responsible decisions. However, if it continues the way it has this year, Weber may have some very tough questions coming from the AD on how he plans to prevent it in the future.

Date with the Devil – This rant is about Tommy’s favorite school, Indiana. I bet you didn’t know that Indiana is a synonym for hell, did you? Well it is. Why do you think their team color is red? I also bet you didn’t know that the Devil has taken up human form these days. He looks like this. Kelvin Sampson broke the unwritten rule this year and ruffled a lot of feathers in the process. Prep star Eric Gordon had given coach Weber a verbal commitment that he was bringing his # 1 shooting guard self to play for the orange and blue. Then, Sampson comes on the scene and begins to woo the young kid. Sampson one out and stole our prize. It’s as dirty as stealing someone’s girlfriend right under their nose. It’s something you just don’t do. That left Illinois on the outside looking in with about a week or two until early signing day. Basically, up a creek without a paddle.

That is just some of the issues this team has faced, not to mention the fact that they seem to score less than sister Mary Catherine at the local nunnery. All that makes for a season I desperately wish would have turned out better. There is still hope, but it’s very small this season. Sounds a lot like the life of a Cub fan.

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Sunday Notes

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

Kerry Wood is bringing sexy back – Not only has he lost over 30 pounds, but he can also throw a baseball. After months of throwing towels, Wood was back to throwing hard round objects. According to Lou Piniella “If I were Kerry Wood, I’d be very pleased with the way I threw. He looked nice and comfortable out there. He threw the ball nice and easy. [For the] first time out on the mound, [it was] very encouraging. He had some life, threw some real nice breaking pitches. I’m sure he was probably a little nervous going out there first time out. I’m not talking about [first time] throwing batting practice but getting through the 25 pitches he threw. It was really encouraging.”

Dice K dazzles in his debut – “Matsuzaka threw his first 20 pitches from the stretch position and the next 20 from a full windup. He followed that with one pitchout to each side of the plate and then one pitch to the outside of both sides with Varitek in a crouch. His fastball sped up as the session progressed. Of his 44 pitches, 20 were breaking balls.” ~ ESPN.com

I’m going to be announcing a couple of new additions to the staff this week as well as writing a non cub related post on the state of the Illinois Basketball team. Close your eyes if you don’t want to see non Cubs stuff. Enjoy your Sunday.

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Here’s a picture to save for the grandkids

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

Yep, Mark Prior throwing to live batters in February. Who would have thunk it! Apparently the Cubs’ approach (and the rehab suggested by Dr. Andrews) seems to be making an impact – Prior is way ahead of last year’s roadmap. It appears as though he is going to dogfight Wade Miller for the #5 spot in the rotation; according to Rotoworld, Rich Hill is secure in the 4 hole and (for the time being) Lilly and Marquis are favorites for the second and third starters’ roles. Not that the actual numbers matter mind you.

It will be interesting to see if Prior and/or Miller emerge from Spring Training healthy and rarin’ go go. It’s going to be hard for Marquis to make this rotation if both of those guys have successfull springs. And of course it’s also going to be interesting to see which Mark Prior will emerge from Ho-Ho-Kam Park – will it be Dr. Jeckyl or Mr. Hyde? Will it be the guy that is virtually unhittable or will it be the one that almost got his high ankle socks knocked off in 2006?

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Respect for the uniform

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

Today’s Chicago Tribune commented on the fact that Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild gave some “unsolicited advice” to prospect Jeff Samardzija on how to properly position one’s baseball cap upon one’s head. It appears from this Spring Training picture that said advice was listened to and acted upon.

Undoubtedly this is how it’s going to be under Lou Piniella and I like it. I’m tired of seeing players with pine tar and white sweat marks all over their hats and helmets, it’s disrespectful to the uniform. Those guys make enough money to afford a new cap or helmet every once in a while. Insofar as the ‘hip hop’ look with the cocked cap, why not let them wear their pants low with their drawers hanging out the top too?

Baseball gives the players some latitude when it comes to uniforms, I think they should show some respect and wear the uniform the way it’s intended to be worn.

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Forgive me for gloating a little

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

My Dores are a perfect 6-0 after defeating Rice, Arizona State, Baylor and Ohio.

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