Archive for March, 2010

Bullpen roundup

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Here we are less than two weeks away from Opening Day.  Most of the Cubs’ lineup is falling in place as we thought it would; the only question in the rotation seems to be if Silva or Gorzelanny will stick when Lilly comes back up in mid- to late April.  On the bench there is the shortstop backup question and whether or not either Millar or Tracy will accept a demotion to Iowa (there won’t be room for both.)

Far and away the biggest question marks are in the bullpen and we can expect to see a lot of them in April.  Marmol, Marshall, Caridad, Berg and Russell appear to be locks and all are pitching well.  After that it gets dicey – Grabow and Samardzija will almost certainly make the 25 man roster but neither is pitching effectively.  And God help us if anybody gets hurt – we’ll have Diamond ready in the minors and after that you’ve got Gaub, Atkins and Cashner, none of whom appear to be ready at this time.  I’ve seen enough of Parisi to conclude that he has no future wearing Cubbie Blue and he will be returned to St. Louis (assuming they will take him back.)

Pretty soon roster cuts will begin in earnest and a few teams are going to have to part ways with relievers that might still have a little gas in the tank – I’m hopeful that the Cubs will be able to latch on to one or two and possibly return Samardzija and Berg to minor league camp.    Samardzija’s pitches look like frozen ropes and he’s real hittable, I see a lot of blown saves and L’s in his 2010 future if he doesn’t get more development time in Iowa.  Berg has certainly pitched well but having three minor leaguers in our pen is a dicey proposition.  Hopefully the Cubs can make a trade or pick up someone prior to Opening Day – it’s going to be easier to do now than it will be after the season starts.

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In the News: Boof in the pen? Never!

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

G’day, Cubs fans. We seem to have hit the dog days of spring training. As Joe elucidated in his post yesterday, the 25-man roster is slowly but surely shaping up. But, otherwise, there’s not a ton of earth-shaking news to report. (And, now that I’ve said that, the Cubs will surely make a trade today.) Nonetheless, here’s a summary of the top team-related stories* and a few superfluous notes:

Boof?! Please, God, no. In bullpen news, this frightening item came to my attention today. Rumors are afloat that Jim Hendry might be looking at trading for former Twins RHP Boof Bonser, who’s now with the Red Sox. First and foremost, Bonser is not a particular good pitcher (5.12 career ERA) and he’s coming off an injury. Apparently, the Red Sox are looking at him only as a long-relief option. So he really wouldn’t fill the Cubs’ need for a veteran right-handed set-up guy.

But there’s a greater issue at stake here: That is, no one – and I mean, no one – should be legally allowed to change his or her name to “Boof.” What’s next? Boff Logan? Tap-that-ass Grabowsky? You just shouldn’t be able to do that. And I will not sit here and allow a player with that kind of first name on my Chicago Cubs. It ain’t gonna happen. I’ll organize protests if I have to. Forget health care reform! This is important! (Ahem. Oh, and Bruce Levine continues to chirp that the Cubs are still eying Blue Jays reliever Jason Frasor as a trade target.)

Xavier Nady will head north with the team. So reports Levine in a 3/21 blog post (via Lou Piniella). X will still not be cleared to make long throws until a couple months into the season, making him a liability of sorts when he does play one of the corner spots. But his swing has looked pretty good in spring training, so let’s hope he can do some damage at the plate. This also means it’s difficult to see how the team could fit Millar and/or Tracy onto the roster. Putting Andres Blanco on waivers still seems the only way, which I’m not really crazy about. I still don’t see how Mike Fontenot can be expected to be the nominal starting second baseman and backup shortstop without drastically overexposing him.

Ted Lilly, rising. In typical Lillyesque fashion, Ted is kicking ass at shoulder rehab and is now projected to be ready by mid- to late April. I guess that makes my May 1st prediction look a little too conservative, but let’s see what happens. Ted threw a 35-pitch simulated game yesterday (Monday) and, from what I’ve read (uh, somewhere), he’d like to get two spring training starts. I believe the plan would then be to still have Ted throw a couple more minor league rehab games before returning to the rotation. In any case, I still don’t see any cause to panic over Ted as this is all working out pretty much as planned way back in January when the Lillyhammer had his shoulder surgery.

Update: Bruce Levine reports that Lilly will not make any Cactus League starts. He’ll stick to starting some minor league games and working his way toward a mid-April return to the team.

Tom Ricketts to address a roomful of well-to-do individuals this week. Namely, he’ll appear at The Executives Club of Chicago’s breakfast on Thursday. It appears as though the public can attend, but you’ll have to pay $57.50. I’m considering showing up and reenacting the upscale restaurant scene from the Blues Brothers. “How much for your women? Your wife…the lee-tle girl. I want to buy your women.”

Yesterday’s (Monday’s) game results: Cubs lose 9-2 to Indians. I saw the first couple innings of this game and listened to most of the middle innings via my At Bat 2010 BlackBerry app. Long story short: Fausto Carmona dominated. (He’s apparently been having an excellent spring.) Jeff Samardzija went for the Cubs and was…well…Jeff Samardzija. Not terrible but not great. Seriously, I don’t know what to do with the Shark. He appears to have the stuff to keep hitters off-balance to a certain extent. But he gives up too many deep fly-balls and doesn’t induce enough ground balls. And unless he really refines his secondary pitches, I still don’t see him as a strikeout guy.

So where does that leave Samardzija? In the same place he’s been for a while now – in limbo between going to Iowa to be a starter (Jeff has one remaining option year) or just sticking with the big league team as a middle reliever. It’ll be interesting to see how the Cubs handle this. If the team does send the Shark to Iowa, it would open a bullpen spot for, perhaps, lefty James Russell – who’s reportedly getting some serious consideration. I’ve seen Russell pitch a couple times now and I like what I see: Quick worker, throws strikes, not dominating but not afraid to challenge hitters. In short, he reminds me of a left-handed Randy Wells.

Today’s (Tuesday’s) game: Cubs vs. Royals, 3:05 CDT. Looks like the game will be available via mlb.tv (Royals feed). Gameday audio options appear for the Royals radio feed and an mlb.com crew doing the Cubs. Demp gets the start. Here’s the Cubs lineup via Carrie Muskat:

Theriot SS

Colvin RF

DLee 1B

Aramis DH (←Back at last, though not playing defense yet. He’s been troubled by sore triceps.)

Byrd CF

Soriano LF

Fontenot 2B

Hill C

Tracy 3B

####

*Reddish text is hyperlinks to my sources. Check back for updates!

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Projecting the Roster: Week 3 and A Discussion on Running up the Score

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Another week means we’re that much closer to opening day. The roster has just about taken shape, despite the fact that there are still 40 guys in camp.

Here is how big league camp breaks down with two weeks to go. (Projected 25 man roster players in BOLD)

Catchers
Geovany Soto
Koyie Hill

Robinson Chirinos
Chris Robinson

Infielders
Derrek Lee
Aramis Ramirez
Mike Fontenot
Ryan Theriot
Jeff Baker
Chad Tracy

Andres Blanco
Micah Hoffpauir
Kevin Millar
Darwin Barney
Ryan Flaherty

Outfielders
Alfonso Soriano
Marlon Byrd
Kosuke Fukudome
Xavier Nady
Tyler Colvin

James Adduci
Sam Fuld

Pitchers
Carlos Zambrano
Ryan Dempster
Randy Wells
Sean Marshall
Tom Gorzellany
Jeff Samardzija
Carlos Silva
Carlos Marmol
John Grabow
Esmailin Caridad
Justin Berg
James Russell

John Gaub
Mike Parisi
Jeff Gray
Angel Guzman
Ted Lilly
Marcos Mateo

Roster Notes

  • The outfield appears to be coming down to one spot as the fifth outfielder. That spot needs to have the ability to play all three spots and hit off the bench. With Colvin’s showcase spring, he’s the guy if the season started right now and I’ve actually come to like that. In fact, I thought about the idea of shopping a guy like Fukudome and going with Colvin full time in RF. Would you go for it?
  • The infield appears to be set except for one spot. The question is going to come down to how comfortable Lou feels with Fontenot as the backup SS to Theriot. If he fits that spot, it would free up a roster spot for a guy like Chad Tracy to show he still has a Major League at bit. I believe Fontenot has shown enough to make me comfortable with him as our backup SS. I’d rather roll the dice with him and leave Blanco off the roster in favor of a bigger, more powerful bat off the bench.
  • Pitching staff is set save one spot at the end. It looks like all four starters battling for the last two spots in the rotation will make the opening day roster, with two of them going to the bullpen (yes, that includes Carlos Silva making the roster). Of the candidates left battling for that last spot, James Russell has been head and shoulders above the rest and probably deserves the first crack at sticking. I’d like to see Gaub get a shot, but he hasn’t pitched well enough to justify a spot over Russell at this point.

Deadspin Question of the Day

In response to your post about having to take the dive in any game against a child, I have to say I refuse to abide. I’m 23 and was playing checkers with my 7-year-old niece this past summer when the opportunity for a QUADRUPLE-JUMP presented itself. Seeing that this NEVER happens, I took full advantage and jumped the [crap] out of those checkers, claiming victory for the good guys.

My niece was non-too happy and my sister declared me a jerk. Is she right?

I’m not a subscriber to the let the kid win theory. Call me a tool for doing it, but every time I play Memory with my four year old, I go all in and try to beat him down. In fact, during the most recent battle, my son was winning something like 15 matches to 5 about midway through the game. I was trying my hardest to get a match, but found myself missing by a card each time only to watch him smile widely, talk a little trash and find the match I had just failed to make. As the beat down wore on, I actually started to get frustrated and a tad bit mad, not at him, but at my lack of ability. In the end, I went on a great run to end the game and narrowly pull out a victory. I was proud of how well my son played and I think me playing hard will teach him how to win as well as how to lose with class because he’ll see that I don’t put the other person down or things like that. Kids need to be taught how to lose and how to fail.

Along the same lines, one of my biggest pet peeves in sports is when a losing team or losing coach complains that the other team ran up the score. The topic came up on Saturday night as one of my buddies said that Kentucky and John Calipari was running up the score by still shooting 3′s late in the game with a big lead. I had no problem with it for a few reasons. First, sports is just as much a mental game as a physical game. In a tournament that seems to show anyone is vulnerable (see Kansas), a team needs as much of a mental advantage as possible. By running up the score, a team can make themselves that much more intimidating and seemingly unbeatable down the stretch. In addition, it keeps the confidence up on your side. Second, people that complain that the other team ran up the score are pansies. If you don’t want them to score, play some frickin defense. Don’t like the big lead? Keep them out of the end zone. People need to learn how to fail and deal with disappointment. They need to learn to use that as fuel to get better and come back stronger. Stop shielding people. It just raises wimps.

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“The Art of Failure”

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

When I picked up the new book titled: “What The Dog Saw – And Other Adventures”, by Malcolm Gladwell, I was not expecting to find anything in it about the Cubs. Far from it.

“What the Dog Saw” consists of the author’s favorite articles from among those he has published in “The New Yorker” magazine, where he is a staff writer, since 1996.

The title of the book, “What The Dog Saw”, is taken from a piece Mr. Gladwell wrote about Cesar Millan (aka “The Dog Whisperer”) back in May of 2006, titled “What the Dog Saw – Cesar Millan and the Movements of Mastery”. It was the knowledge that this article was included which drew me to the Gladwell book.

I have had an interest in dogs, and more recently in Cesar Millan, for some time now. As a matter of fact, in some canine circles I’m known as “The DoggieDude”. I was The DoggieDude before I was The CubbieDude.

I enjoyed reading about topics as varied as: Mr. Popeil’s Gadgets, Ketchup vs. Mustard, Investment Strategies, Hair Dyes, the Birth Control Pill, the Kinesiology of Cesar Millan, Enron, Homelessness, Radiographic Interpretation, Plagiarism, and Connecting The Dots in the first eleven articles.

(The Ketchup vs. Mustard article (titled: “The Ketchup Cunundrum”) sheds light on the condiment discussion which Joe started recently.)

Then I innocently began reading the twelfth article, titled: “The Art of Failure – Why Some People Choke and Others Panic”. Mr. Gladwell describes the psychological studies of “performance under pressure”, and cites examples from tennis & golf tournaments, scuba diving accidents, & fatal aircraft piloting events, in his analysis of the art of failure.

And it dawned on me that, although this article was published in August of 2000, I was reading a detailed description of exactly what happened to the Chicago Cubs during the postseason of 2008.

It gave me no pleasure to be reminded of those three games then, and it gives me no pleasure to bring them up again now. But at least I have a better understanding of the mechanisms of what occurred in October, 2008.

Mr. Gladwell closes his article with the only thing you can say: “I feel horrible about what happened. I’m so sorry.”

Note: Malcolm Gladwell’s book: “What The Dog Saw” seems to be available in two different cover designs. I chose the more interesting design to accompany this review.

Additional Note: All of the previously published articles in “What The Dog Saw” are available and can be read free of charge on Malcolm Gladwell’s own website: gladwell.com, listed under “The New Yorker Archive”

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GirlieView (03/19/2010)

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Happy Friday!

As much as I’d like to think the Lizzies are newsworthy, this column is not typically considered to be up there in the breaking news arena. Nevertheless since I’m making the first post since it happened and you may not be aware, I’d be remiss if I didn’t report the Cubs have made a further eight cuts on their roster. The following guys were affected:

Andrew Cashner (P)
Wellington Castillo (C)
Casey Coleman (P)
Thomas Diamond (P)
Brian LaHair (OF)
Blake Parker (P)
Jeff Stevens (P)

So there you go. My news bit of the week.

GirlieView Quiz/Survey/Contest

Last week we voted on which of six Cubs would make the Opening Day roster. We’ll report those results on Opening Day. This week (since Carlos Silva isn’t appearing as useless as many of us once thought) we’ll talk about pitchers. Specifically, starting pitchers.

Which of these pitchers will make at least one start in a regular season game during the month of April?

1. Carlos Silva
2. Jeff Samardzija
3. Ted Lilly
4. Sean Marshall
5. Tom Gorzelany

We’ll revisit on May 1 (happy birthday to me!) and see how everyone did with their predictions!

Lizzies

  • 4. [Kevin Millar] Yes (effectively giving us a 24 player roster)
  • It was like a flashback to when Titanic was at the Oscars.
  • Twas like a lamb led to slaughter, I tell you.
  • You now have a valid reason to wander into a Victoria’s Secret location at the mall.
  • who are these Rangers stiffs?
  • When Ramirez misses his 30 games and if Lee misses any time we’re the Pirates.
  • Home is where the heart is…
  • Real baseball fans follow the strategy that is happening between the pitcher and the hitter, between the manager and the line up and between the manager and the bench and bullpen.
  • I don’t really have a problem with the idea if it allows the team to add to its financial dominance over the NL Central.
  • The roster remains as confusing as ever.
  • Did Theriot get big bucks for his endorsement deal, or just free Internet for life?
  • I actually posed it to my wife today over lunch and surprisingly enough, she didn’t blow it off with a “you’re a moron” type reply.
  • didn’t quite make it in the ten commandments, but was one of the last four out
  • thanks for providing clarification on #6…things could have gone past PG-13 in a hurry
  • would single malt scotch be considered a condiment?

Lizard

  • Milton reaps what he sows.

Have a great weekend! And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (VFTB and/or GirlieView) and Facebook (VFTB and/or GirlieView)

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Funtastic Friday: Magic Condiment Fingers

Friday, March 19th, 2010

It’s tournament time everyone. This is by far my favorite time of the year. I actually went as far as to sing a messed up version of a Christmas tune to celebrate.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
There’ll be brackets a bustin
‘n folks will be cussin
and calling in sick don’t ya know?

That’s all I’ve got so far, but it’s a work in progress. I love the next few weeks so much. We have March madness separated in between by my birthday on the 24th and then capped off with my national holiday, Opening Day. This will actually be the first time in I don’t know how long that I’ve decided to go into work on opening day. The only reason being that the Cubs play later in the day. If it weren’t for that, my butt would be on the coach all day, disturbance free.

Am I the only one that has an opening day ritual? Even as early as grade school, my mom would let me skip school on opening day and watch baseball. Typically I’ll get takeout of some kind for lunch, usually something like a sampler platter from TGI Fridays and endulge in fatty foods and baseball. Depending on the weather, I even try to play golf in the morning. What’s your opening day tradition? Let’s hear them in the comment section.

Deadspin Funbag Question of the Day:

I don’t know if you’re a reader of www.deadspin.com, but I love the weekly fun bag, with questions of all randomness fielded by Drew. I’d love to run a piece like that weekly or even monthly, so feel free to send me random questions that in no way have to be sports related to joe@viewfromthebleachers.com. Just put Funtastic Friday in the subject so I know what they’re for…or don’t, I don’t care either way.

The plan in the meantime is to pull a random question from their archives that I find particularly amusing and pose it to you for your input and answers on a fairly regular basis. Today’s initial edition is one that came up recently. I actually posed it to my wife today over lunch and surprisingly enough, she didn’t blow it off with a “you’re a moron” type reply. In fact, she actually engaged in a bit of contemplating over the question and semi-participated in the answer.

Assuming you could only use 5 condiments the rest of your life and they were stored in a fresh and never ending supply (one per finger on one of your hands), which condiments would you choose AND which finger would they be stored in?

The question becomes difficult because this would include breakfasts (maple syrup/honey), desserts (chocolate syrup) and of course any lunch/dinner meal you could think of. Salad dressings do not count on their own unless you use them as a dipping sauce/topper (blue cheese for wings).

Which 5 would you choose and in which finger? Why?

I put some thought into this while scarfing down my bison burger at Ruby Tuesday and came up with the following:

Index Finger: Ketchup – It has to be ketchup, because it’s the condiment that I probably use the most, which means it has to be stored in the most accurate finger on my hand. Any other finger tends to be a little less accurate and that doesn’t seem smart for your MVC.

Thumb: Honey: It seems like an odd choice, I know, but I absolutely go ape for some good honey. Ever buy that honey in a big glass jar that didn’t even have the ability squeeze out? That stuff was a mess and gave honey a bad rap. Now, if you can get by the stickyness of the flip cap that takes a moment with the jaws of life to pry open, you’re able to enjoy a sweet sauce that can serve so many functions. It can double as a breakfast treat or top what we call in our house a monkey sandwhich (peanut butter, banana and a drizzle of honey). If it wasn’t so dang dangerous, I’d seriously consider raising bees just to steal that stuff right out from under them,

Middle Finger: A-1 Sauce: I gave this one a lot of thought and feel the only place to put the A-1 is the middle finger. Every time I eat a fat steak (without bones cause I’m weird like that), I put a healthy pond of A-1 on my plate to dip it in. I ask for it in restuarants and people always give you that funny look like you’re committing a cardinal sin that didn’t quite make it in the ten commandments, but was one of the last four out (note the tournament reference). I simply can’t enjoy my steak without it, so putting in the middle finger means you have to extend it while you pour that stuff on your plate. What a perfect message to all those who look down on the act.

Ring Finger: Mayonnaise: I’m not a huge fan of the stuff. By itself, it’s really kind of gross, but I can’t eat tune without it. Since I love me some tuna melts, mayo becomes an essential condiment for my hand.

Pinky Finger: Hot Sauce – I put hot sauce on my eggs. I put hot sauce on my hot dog. It goes in as much food as I can. Oddly enough, I’ve never put it on pizza, though I hear that’s good too. Hot sauce simply has to make the cut.

Just Missed the Cut

- Duck Sauce – I don’t like Chinese food, but could absolutely drink that stuff when I’m done eating an eggroll.
- Honey Mustard from Chili’s – Need I explain?

Random Picture of the Day:


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In the News: Theriot Strikes a Deal (Update)

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Good morning, good afternoon, good night, Cubs fans. You’re out! Actually, you’re in – In the News. And you’re in deep. A couple of notable individuals in the Cubs organization, on the other hand, are in the money. Let’s get to today’s top stories*:

Ryan Theriot may have lost in arbitration, but he’s won an endorsement deal.  Our scrappy, controversial and outspoken starting shortstop is now the official spokesperson for the RCN data/voice/TV network. He signed a two-year deal that will put him in advertisements and at several community events. Congrats to Ryan, though this could get kind of awkward next year if Starlin Castro is made starting shortstop and Theriot is dealt. But I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Ricketts looking to accelerate some dollars to the Cubs bottom line with “lighted billboard.”  Odds are, you may have caught wind of this story already, but it’s one to keep an eye on. The Cubs, having ended their relationship with Chevy,  are now looking to Toyota for a revenue stream. The, of late, greatly beleagured Japanese automaker would sponsor a lighted billboard to be perched over the left field bleachers. (The sign would also conveniently and partially block the Horseshoe Casino ad on the building across the street, from which the Cubs draw no revenue.)

So far, the plan has seen initial resistance from Alderman Tom Tunney regarding the sign’s effect on Wrigley’s historical landmark status. And some, more traditionalist Cubs fans are crying foul at the idea of putting a “jumbotron” (or “minitron”) at the Friendly Confines. I don’t really have a problem with the idea if it allows the team to add to its financial dominance over the NL Central.

Jim Hendry quietly goes about his charitable activities.  I know a lot of Cubs fans like to rip on Ol’ Jimbo, but he deserves some credit for his under-the-radar charity work. Case in point: Hendry made an appearance at a Omaha, Nebraska school this week to promote the Children’s Scholarship Fund, which helps low-income families pay school – even private ones. Oh, and for the sabermetrically inclined, Jimbo even tied baseball to algebra, saying, “It’s a combination of statistical analysis and great scouting.”

Coming soon to Lakeview: The Steve Goodman Memorial Post Office.  (Or something to that effect.) Sounds like a great idea to me. In other music news, and for purely selfish purposes, I’d like to recognize the passing of another brilliant singer-songwriter, Alex Chilton, who died yesterday at age 59. Click here to listen to one of the greatest pop songs ever recorded.

Andres Blanco to return this weekend.  Oh, right – the baseball team. Look for defensive specialist Blanco to be back in the lineup over the weekend. Y’know who else will be playing shortstop this weekend? Mike Fontenot. Hey, I’m happy Mike is doing well so far this spring but considering him as a backup shortstop makes less sense than ever if he’s the front runner for the starting second baseman position. Does Lou seriously think Fontenot can play 160-odd games? The roster remains as confusing as ever.

Tuesday’s game results – Cubs win 4-1.  In case you hadn’t heard, Carlos Silva – yes, Carlos Silva – pitched virtually lights-out on Tuesday as the Cubs dominated the Rangers for a solid victory. ESPN’s Rob Neyer thinks Silva could be an acceptable No. 5 starter for the Cubs if he (Silva, that is) gets his fastball up above 90 MPH. I’m keeping my expectations low, but ground balls do win baseball games – and if Carlos can get them, he could provide some value after all. He does seem genuinely happy and excited to be a Cub.

Today’s (Thursday’s) game: Cubs vs. Dodgers at 3:05 CDT.The baseball contest will be broadcast via mlb.tv if you have it. Here’s the Cubs lineup via Carrie Muskat:

Theriot SS

Kosuke RF

DLee 1B

Aramis Tracy 3B (←Aramis was a late scratch from the lineup but Muskat assures us it’s nothing to worry about)

Colvin CF

Soriano LF

Fontenot 2B

Geo C

Demp RHP

*Reddish text = hyperlinks to my sources. Check back for updates!

####

Breaking news update: Angel Guzman has decided to have shoulder surgery. Carrie Muskat quotes Angel as saying Dr. James Andrew gave him “hope.” I assume this means Guzman is out for the season and his hopes of ever returning to the mound in a major league game remain quite precarious.

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Wordless Wednesday…(well maybe a few words about the DH)

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

I kind of like doing the whole wordless thing, but I’ve been wanting to comment on a post I found a few days ago, so I’m breaking the silence.

I can’t post the article in full because it’s subscription based on ESPN Insider, but the topic itself is an interesting one. We’ve long debated the idea of baseball doing away with the DH. Everyone has mixed feelings on the topic. Personally, it doesn’t bother me a whole lot that it’s still around. I love scoring a game with the DH because it makes for a cleaner sheet. At the same time, I can also see the argument that it’s not how baseball was created.

Tom Tango proposed a couple changes to how the DH is run in the AL which made me think a little.

1. House Rules

His concept here is that it’s the home manager’s decision whether or not to use the DH. It’s the way it’s done in spring training and may add an element of strategy for teams without a great offense when a team like the Yankees come to town.

2. One-and-Done

The concept here is that when it’s the pitcher’s turn to bat, regardless of where in the order that may be, the DH is essentially a pinch hitter that is given one at bat and then must be removed. The manager has the choice when the situation arrives whether or not to use a pinch hitter or simply let the pitcher hit. This concept is the one that most appeals to me because it’s most like the NL game.

3. My Bodyguard

I hate this idea, but it’s definitely interesting. The DH is tied to the pitcher. When the starter comes out, so does the DH that was attached to him.

4. Relay

Either the DH or the Pitcher must be removed each time. It’s basically the opposite of # 3.

What are your thoughts?

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In the News: The Shape of Things (UPDATED)

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

 Shapes of things before my eyes,
Just teach me to despise.
Will time make men more wise?

~ The Yardbirds

That song is running through my head as I write this – even though the shape of the Cubs 2010 roster, which is evolving as we speak, isn’t necessarily teaching me to despise. In fact, with one relatively minor annoyance, I’m mostly happy with what’s gone down thus far in spring training. And I’d like to use today’s “In the News” to build on Joe’s great post from yesterday about projecting the roster. So let’s get to the news*:

Now leading off for the Chicago Cubs…Ryan Theriot!  Well, er, probably. Most of the reports I’ve read about this indicate it’s a done deal, though the linked-to ESPN article indicates Lou is “80% certain” about the decision. This is my minor annoyance. I just feel like, in Kosuke Fukudome, you have a guy with strong splits against right-handed pitchers in terms of OBP and P/PA (pitches seen per plate appearance) and who’s, therefore, perfectly suited to this role. I know, I know…he’s not fast, but he’s a smart baserunner with (based on my wholly subjective take) better instincts on the basepaths than Theriot. That said, I have no problem with Theriot batting leadoff against left-handed pitchers, where his splits are very strong. (Ryan has a career .360 wOBA [.813 OPS] vs. LHP.) Why not just platoon them, Lou? Anyway, I’m not going to freak out too much about this decision. It could change. (In a related story, Kosuke’s hitting coach from Japan is back on the scene.)

Mike Fontenot, scrappy as ever, has a leg up.  (See the fourth paragraph of this linked-to Bruce Miles blogpost.) I’m referring to the second base position, of course. As Bruce mentions, this would free up Jeff Baker to be that oft-mentioned “super sub,” playing second, third and first base. I also read somewhere yesterday (can’t remember just where at the moment) that Baker will play some left field in spring training so Lou can get a look at him in the outfield. I know some Cubs fans will see this as bad news, but I’ve never completely given up on Mike Fontenot. He’s got a good skill set (compact swing, some power, good defense at second base), so he could rebound. I’m a little concerned about using him as a full-time player, but I’m guessing we’ll still see Baker at second base vs. left-handed pitchers and perhaps Andres Blanco (assuming he makes the team) there as well.

Ted Lilly is a father…oh, and he’s feeling better.  Ted and his wife welcomed a son (his first child), Theodore Roosevelt Lilly IV, to the world on Sunday. Congratulations to the happy couple. From a health perspective, Ted seems to be doing well and getting close to making a spring training appearance. As Carrie Muskat mentions in the linked-to article, we still shouldn’t expect Ted to make his first start until mid-April or very early May.

Update: Bruce Levine posted the following on his live chat page today (Tuesday) regarding Ted Lilly – “According to Piniella, Lilly will throw against live hitters on Thursday when he returns to camp then do that again a few days later. That will be followed by a simulated game and then, according to Piniella, he will get what he assumes will be one start in a Cactus League game before spring training ends. After that, Piniella said he will probably need only three minor-league starts before making his way back to the 25-man roster.”

Turning to the bullpen…  How is that shaping up? Well, nothing particularly earth-shaking to report. As Bruce Levine reveals in the linked-to article, Jeff Samardzija will throw a minor league intrasquad game tomorrow (Wednesday) to try and hold ground in the rotation battle. (Were I a betting man, I’d put money on the Shark winding up in the bullpen. But we’ll see.) And Jeff Gray, the right-hander acquired in the Aaron Miles/Jake Fox trade is finally expected to make an appearance later this week.

As I mentioned in the comments section of Joe’s post yesterday, I’m keeping an eye on RHP Thomas Diamond, who I saw pitch (on TV) in Vegas on Friday night. He’s a mountain of man who, if he can throw strikes, could be a intimidating presence in middle relief. And, of course, there’s still hot prospect Andrew Cashner, who seems to have trouble throwing strikes whenever I see him pitching. But he’s got tons o’ talent. Oh, and Ken Rosenthal reports a Cubs scout was on hand to watch potential trade-target Jason Frasor of the Toronto Blue Jays pitch (not very well) this week.

Update: There was some speculation about the Cubs going after veteran RHP John Smoltz for the bullpen or even a starting role. Ain’t gonna happen. Smoltz just accepted a job as an analyst on the TBS network. There’s some confusion on this, however, as baseball biz expert Maury Brown is insisting Smoltz is heading to MLB Network, not TBS.

Another, Smoltz-specific update: Maury Brown was nice enough to personally contact me and clarify that Smoltz will be working at both MLB Network (as an analyst) and TBS (commenting on Braves games). Thanks, Maury!

The first round of roster cuts hath occurred.  And more could be on the way, according to a reported, uh, Sun-Times report. I, for one, am glad I got a chance to catch a fleeting glimpse of Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson, both of whom could play starring roles on the Cubs someday. As expected, last year’s Rule 5 guy, David Patton, was sent to Double A to work on his consistency and try to erase the memory of Albert Pujols hitting that massive grand slam off of him last season. (Sadly, if Patton never pitches in a major league game again, this is probably what I’ll always remember about him. Twas like a lamb led to slaughter, I tell you.)

Major League Baseball has formed a platonic relationship with Victoria’s Secret.  That’s right, guys. You now have a valid reason to wander into a Victoria’s Secret location at the mall. (Lizzie, I await your commentary.) They’re selling baseball-themed women’s wear under the “PINK” label. In all seriousness, for some cutting remarks on the matter, check out this post by Twitter favorite Ari Bo Bari.

Previous day’s (Monday’s) game results: Cubs lose 5-2 to Rockies.  And, in case you haven’t heard, their bus broke down on the way to the game and Kevin Millar was HILARIOUS. Big Z gave up a bunch of hits but only one run and claimed he felt great.

Current day’s (Tuesday’s) game preview: Cubs vs. Rangers, 3:05 CDT. Gave coverage will be broadcast on WGN radio (and, presumably, via mlb.com’s Gameday audio). Word is, we’ll get yet another dose of Carlos Silva. He’ll quite ironically square off against a young, mega-fireballer by the name of Neftali Feliz. Here’s the lineup via Carrie Muskat:

Theriot SS

Kosuke RF

Nady DH

Byrd CF

Hoffpauir 1B

Soriano LF

Fontenot 2B

Soto C

Tracy 3B

And here’s the Rangers lineup via Rangers beat reporter Jeff Wilson:

Julio Borbon CF

Elvis Andrus SS

David Murphy LF

Nelson Cruz RF

Chris Davis 1B

Matt Brown 3B

Taylor Teagarden C

Joaquin Arias 2B

Neftali Feliz RHP

C.J. Wilson and Pedro Strop will follow Feliz. 

*Reddish text = hyperlinks. Check back for updates!

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