Archive for March, 2007

“Welcome to the Friendly Confines of The Pat and Ron Show”

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

My wife may have given me one of the most wonderful gifts ever for my birthday tonight. She surprised me with a little gem I had no idea existed. As much as I enjoy listening to Len and Bob, there’s nothing quite like taking in a Cubs game with Pat Hughes and Ron Santo. No one describes the game like Pat, and no one is a bigger Cubs fan than Ron. You feel every low and high he goes through during each game, just like you do.

My wife, being quite resourceful, somehow came across this CD produced under WGN radio. It’s basically a “greatest hits” CD of Pat and Ron’s best, most memorable and typically funniest moments. It’s a must own for anyone that loves the radio team. I’ve been laughing all evening.

Check it out at WGN Radio.

Not to mention proceeds go to the JDRF. It’s a good cause.

As Ron says, “it smells of wetness.”

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Prior is just another “employee”

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

I’ve about had it with this clown, he has an 87 mph fastball, an ERA close to 7 and he hasn’t done anything really since 2003. But as far as he’s concerned he’s the second coming of Nolan Ryan! The Cubs need to see what they can get for Prior now – I’d settle for Hayden Penn if Baltimore would do the deal. Prior is a whiner and the sooner we lose him the better.

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Your 2007 Chicago Cubs

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

With the last of the cuts made yesterday, the 25 man roster is set. Enough talk about Prior and Wood. Let’s talk about this years Cubs as they stand right now.

Lou Piniella announced his opening day lineup for Monday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds. Alfonso Soriano, Matt Murton, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Jacque Jones, Michael Barrett, Mark DeRosa, Cesar Izturis and Zambrano.

About a month or so ago, I remember reading some article that questioned why the Cubs would want Soriano’s numbers at the top of the lineup. At a glance, it seems to make some sense. He doesn’t fit the stereotypical lead-off hitter role. His numbers point to maybe a 3-spot hitter. Regardless, I like to have information as ammunition for arguments. So I went out and Googled the Internet for some research. What I found is that this is a pretty fervent argument, all over the web. Published columnists, bloggers, and every day Joes in public message forums all have something to say. There are a ton of differing opinions about the Cubs lineup! Most specifically at the top of the order. So I was curious to see what all of you think. Should Soriano be leading off? Some hard core stats guys say he shouldn’t. Too many strike outs and too many solo home runs. Others say that your best player should get the most at bats per game. That’s why he is where he is. Some simulators show that the the Nationals may have lost out on something like 25-40 runs last year because of Soriano hitting lead-off rather than a more RBI producing position in the lineup. There are numbers to support both sides of the argument. To me, it really is interesting to see all of the different viewpoints. So my question is: If these 2007 Cubs truly were your Cubs, how would they line up for you come Monday?

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Cubs demote Prior to AAA Iowa

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

No surprise there, Prior didn’t pitch at a major league-caliber level this spring. And today was no exception – Mark threw two wild pitches, gave up two hits and walked two in three innings. Also sent down to Iowa were Rocky Cherry and Angel Pagan; Prior presently sports a 6.91 ERA which ain’t gonna cut it at the major league level.

I like this move for two reasons. First of all, if Prior does still have some gas left in the tank it will give him time to really work on his pitching and get his velocity up to an acceptable level. Thusfar Mark Prior’s career has been a downward spiral and if he can’t cut it at Principal Park he’s probably going to end up getting traded.

Secondly this is the “tough love” that has up till now been missing in his relationship with the Cubs. Prior has been mommy-coddled for years, treated like the young superstar that just needs a little more time. Now time has run out and Prior is being treated like any other player, he has to earn his way on to the roster and he sure as heck hasn’t. It remains to be seen as to whether or not Prior will return to the Friendly Confines as an impact player, I for one am not holding my breath. Rather, I’m looking forward to Rocky Cherry’s call-up, he showed much better stuff this spring than Prior did.

In other news, Cubs outfielders showed their fannies defensively today. Floyd totally showed his defensive incompetence with two errors. This guy is a pinch-hitter and occasional sub at best and needs to accept his role. Soriano also had an error and should have caught another ball that dropped. The Cubs outfield as presently constituted will be very different than the one that ends the season.

Also, congratulations to former Cub Nomar Garciaparra and his wife on the birth of twin girls.

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Will Carroll Stops By For a Chat

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

If you’re not a regular listener to the Big League Baseball Report, shame on you. We had our second of what has become known as a BLBR Extra. This show, I was joined by Baseball Prospectus injury guru Will Carroll. Will is the author of the Saving the Pitcher, which is a great look at how baseball can begin to keep baseball virtually injury free when it comes to arm injuries to pitchers.

We talked about two Cubs to start the show. Do I really need to mention which ones?

Here is the link to the post on the podcast website. It has a built in flash player or you can download the MP3.

Enjoy and be sure to leave me some comments on the interview.

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Sun Times Want’s to Warn You

Monday, March 26th, 2007

Here is a “Head’s up” from the Sun Times, just in case you’ve been sleeping under a rock this winter and just woke up.

Wood burning? Kerry Wood is scheduled to see the team doctor today, after which a decision is expected to be made on whether he’ll open the season on the DL.

Bench warming? The final roster spot goes down to the final few days of camp, with infielder Ronny Cedeno taking a strong lead over infielder Tomas Perez into the week. Manager Lou Piniella said he plans to have all roster decisions done by the time the team breaks camp Thursday.

Talks heating? The deadline for completing talks on a possible five-year contract extension for ace Carlos Zambrano looms a week away, with perhaps a $10 million to $12 million gap to close. Zambrano said if a deal isn’t made by Opening Day, he’ll cut off talks until he becomes a free agent after the season.

To read the entire article, here is the link

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Injury Report

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

Mark Prior trying to pitch his way onto the opening day roster

Tomorrow, I’ll be interviewing Will Carroll as part of the podcast. If you haven’t yet subscribed to the show, here is a link to the RSS Feed and to iTunes. As part of the interview, which will focus on injuries, I’ll be sure to ask him about his thoughts on Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. Hopefully he’ll have good news for us. Until then, here is the basic update on the tandem.

Kerry Wood
He apparently feels like he’ll be ready to go for opening day. The Sun Times had the headline that read “Wood, Piniella not on same page”. The first paragraph made me laugh ‘Kerry Wood says he’ll be ready to start the season on time. Cubs manager Lou Piniella says he doesn’t plan to push Wood that fast. And a battle of wills could be more of an issue than Wood’s health when the roster is set. Don’t count on Wood winning that matchup.

I love the fact that Lou Piniella is not afraid to deal with egos. He puts people in their place and let’s them know how it’s going to be. Personally, I agree with Lou on this one. I am just as excited about having Wood in that bullpen as anyone else, but what need is there to rush it and risk being done for the season. Get your work in and get back to 100% and then make your case.

Mark Prior
Uncle Lou does appear to be leaning toward Prior’s corner a little more than he did in the past. He had pretty much decided earlier in the spring to send him to the minor league camp to get his work in and confidence up. Since then, Prior has responded by working hard to try to impress Piniella. That hard work has earned him a few more big league camp starts. He’ll take Zambrano’s spot on Wednesday against the Rockies. Zambrano will pitch for the minor league camp in their game. I can only imagine what his line will be there. He may throw a no hitter.

Regardless of what Zambrano does, Prior’s start is key because it’s 5th starter spot or bust for Prior. When asked about the idea of starting Prior in the pen, Piniella said it was “unthinkable”.

Good luck Mark and Kerry. We all want you healthy, but don’t stress so much.

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Introducing – My Fantasy Baseball Team

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

Recently, I was invited to take part in a fantasy baseball league put on by The Hardball Times. Maybe it was all my constant plugging of their site that got me the in. Last night was our draft for the 12 team league that uses the typical 5×5 stat format. It was my first league in quite some time, so I was a little rusty. Here are my picks by round and some brief rational. I had the 10th pick and it was a snake draft.

1. Derrek Lee – In my mind, he’s just as good as Albert Pujols, but fell to me based on last year’s injury. He has a better lineup around him and seems like a major bargain to get him at # 10.

2. Carlos Zambrano – He says he can win the Cy Young and I believe him. No matter what, he should rack up the wins and strikeouts, which is 40% of the pitching categories.

3. Aramis Ramirez – Stop it right now! No, I did not draft all Cubs, but man did it feel good to do it in the first three rounds. This pick added another huge bat.

4. Bobby Abreu – He’s got to be able to rebound from that poor power performance right? I mean, he did go crazy in the homerun derby two years ago, and he does have a tremendous batting eye. I’m banking on him.

5. Dan Uggla – In my mind, this pick could kill me or propel me. If his 2006 was a fluke, I might be in trouble. I should probably draft a backup in case.

6. Mariano Rivera – Danget, someone drafted a closer too early and now I have to fear the run on closers. Better pick up one of the best and scrounge for a 2nd late in the draft or on the waiver wire. It doesn’t hurt that he plays for the Yankees either.

7. Mike Mussina – What am I doing? Two Yankees in a row? I had to do it. I wanted to get a legit second pitcher and with him pitching for the Yankees, it makes him a threat every year to win 20. Maybe this is the year he actually does it. Let’s just hope this isn’t the year his arm falls off. Better look at some backup plans.

8. Delmon Young – This one is a major reach, but I believe very much in his talent. If he turns out to be an attitude nightmare, I could be sunk, because OF spots are not as easy to come by as they once were. In 30 games last year with Tampa Bay, he got 126 AB. He hit .317 / .336 / .476 with 3 HR and 10 RBI

9. Jason Schmidt – At this point, I figured why not. He is not as injury prone as people believe and he could really benefit from the move to Dodger stadium which is a very nice pitcher’s park. Or is it? In 2001, Dodger stadium had a park factor for runs at .810, which put them as the 4 best park for pitchers. In 2006, they had a park factor of 1.046, which put them at 10th worst. Hmm, maybe I should have done my homework on this one. Hopefully it doesn’t burn me.

10. Freddy Sanchez – I needed a SS at this point and Freddy can do that as well as play 3b and 2b. He’s very valuable in a fantasy standpoint for that reason. He’s not gonna help in the HR category, but the average won’t hurt.

11. Magglio Ordonez – Good power and one of the best outfielders available in the draft. Still don’t have a catcher, but at this point, I can probably wait longer and pick up Michael Barrett, who is still on the board.

12. Ervin Santana – Another reach on this one, but for some reason I really like this kid. With 3 SP already on my team, I can afford to hope for a good turnout with this one. The offense behind him worries me a bit though. It’s getting late, I better draft Barrett when it swings back around to me. Still no Bonds or Clemens.

13. Ryan Dempster – Danget!!! Barrett was picked and so was Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Now I may as well hold out for a catcher and go with my favorite, Jason Kendall. I could probably pick his butt off the waiver wire, but I better not take that chance. When in doubt, go Cub. Dempster, please deliver.

14. Troy Tulowitzki – I had Rich Hill all queued up to pick and he went right before my turn. I called an audible and drafted a pure SS playing in Colorado. He’s a rookie, but we all know what Colorado did to Neifi Perez. He’s built an entire career off it.

15. Mark DeRosa – At this point, i’m more into the NCAA tournament game between Georgetown and Vanderbilt than I am in the draft. It’s moving like Molasses uphill in January and I panic when I see it’s my turn and draft Mark DeRosa. Can I get a mulligan?

16. Eric Byrnes – CRAP!!! I had someone else ready and clicked the suggest button it drafted Eric Byrnes for me. Two wasted picks in a row. Crap Crap Crap!!!!

17. Mark Buehrle – Well, you can never have too much pitching. Time to stock pile and hope to dominate that half of the 5×5 or have room to trade for spare parts.

18. Jason Kendall – Better take him before another Michael Barrett fiasco happens. Plus, i’m getting off track with this draft and making late mistakes. I would hate to forget to draft a dang catcher. Three Picks left.

19. Kei Igawa – If this guy turns out to be better than Dice K, I will be thrilled. Matsuzaka went in round three. From what I’ve heard, they were not that far apart in terms of talent in Japan.

20. Akinori Iwamura – Bring out your imports. Why not? Maybe he hits me 30 HR for when A-Ram goes down with a bad hammy.

21. Matt Murton – Computer picked this one for me, but it seems like a fitting end to my draft. It just goes to show you that it all starts and ends with the Cubs in my life.

We Need You
Somehow, through no doing of our own, View From The Bleachers is nominated as a finalist for the Best Cubs Blog on Sports Illustrated’s website.

We need you to vote. If you come to this site, PLEASE follow this link and cast a vote in our direction.

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We Need You

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Somehow, through no doing of our own, View From The Bleachers is nominated as a finalist for the Best Cubs Blog on Sports Illustrated’s website.

We need you to vote. If you come to this site, PLEASE follow this link and cast a vote in our direction.

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