Archive for February, 2012

Chet’s Corner: A Look Back To See The Future

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

The second the Glenlivet hit my lips there was no turning back.   I delved into a deep dark space that only Cub fans can find……..

Last night I decided to sit down and watch Clubhouse Confidential on the MLB Network.  I dig the show and usually they cover some interesting tidbits that add a little flavor to baseball outside of what you may get on a game telecast or a local newspaper.  They dig pretty deep and really much of the information is over-analysis, which I love.  The best part is the show runs only 30 minutes.   It’s as if the producers of the MLB Network know that most baseball fans have ADD or the attention span of a gnat, whichever wanes first I suppose.  Only on this very night the topic of young star pitchers headlined the show.  Even more to the point, they were talking about strategies to keep these young pitchers healthy.  The concept of innings limits and pitch counts came to the forefront and the two young pitchers being showcased were Matt Moore, the young phenom of the Tampa Bay Rays,  and of course Stephen Strasburg.

Did you know that Mark Prior logged over 230 innings in 2003?  All that even after missing 3 starts mid season because of the Giles collision….oh god the collision, do you remember the collision?  That’s when it all started!!!!  More Glen please!

I feel like Mark Prior has become the poster boy for young phenoms whose arms turn to mush, and apparently, so does the MLB Network.  The entire segment was flashes of Matt Moore, Stephen Strasburg and then of course the tragedy of Mark Prior!  They showed clips of the young Moore and then plastered across the screen that he will not be under an innings limit for the coming season.  Then they started in on Strasburg, who has a bevy of limits.  I don’t even think Stephen can shake more then 5 hands with his right arm this season per day….too many….might get hurt.  I am pretty sure that the word careful would be a gross understatement.  He reminds me of the fine china that sits in a cabinet, people look at it and say, “ooohhhh pretty” but never get to eat on it because , well,  it’s expensive and god forbid it gets chipped.

You know Tom Seaver drinks scotch, I bet he loves it….tickles his throat just so……

Tom Seaver jumps on the telecast and starts ranting about all the innings limits and pitch limits.  He starts into something that might turn into a “back in my day…” rant that your gramps would tell you.  He boasts on about how teams would try to figure out how to keep a guy in the game, not take him out.  You do have to wonder, how come they could figure this out back then but now we have tinker bells who hurt their arm when the wind blows out of the east?  Could you imagine telling Bob Gibson he was on an innings or pitch limit? Pretty sure you would need some forceps to find the rosin bag.

I bet they rubbed scotch on it, better yet they soaked a towel in single malt and wrapped it around their arm between innings.  That reminds me of the towel drill, Mark should have soaked that towel in scotch and sucked on it.   

The show of course gave us a look at Prior in his dominant stage and then a look at the disaster after.  He had tons of life on his fastball when he was going good……then it became flat and managed to gravitate towards the top of the zone, which in turn typically ended with the ball out on Wavleand avenue somewhere.  As if it isn’t enough to go through this in real time we now have it shown to us in highlight reels.  Here is how the best pitcher you had over the last 12 years went to crap, enjoy the walk down memory lane!  They then start comparing Prior to Strasburg and I tell you what, I hope you didn’t dump your paycheck on this guys rookie card.  The mechanics are almost identical.

Oh Good, it’s Mitch Williams to tell us about mechanics.  The only mechanics “Wild Thing” was worried about back in the day were the ones used to curl that awesome mullet….and it was awesome.  I bet he put scotch in it……

The next thing we get on the show is Will Carroll from SI (AKA, the resident injury expert for every sport.)  I started following Will through Manningate last football season and then he became a useful tool on twitter passing along his injury news.  Will looks like an everyday average Joe, and kind of reminds me of Stinky from the movie Beautiful Girls, if you have seen it, you know what I mean.  He starts in on fatigue playing a major factor in injuries to pitchers.  So now we have a battle going on between fatigue and mechanics…..hmmmmm.

So maybe Prior broke down because of the weird set of “non-pitching” injuries that he incurred…..

  • 2002 (Sept) – Strained Hamstring running the bases….out for season
  • 2003 (Mid-season) – collision with Marcus Giles ……missed three starts
  • 2004 (Pre-Season) Achilles Tendon Injury….. missed 2 months
  • 2005 (May) Comeback liner in the throwing elbow…..1 month

Or maybe, just maybe, it was all the above.  One thing is for sure, at some point in time these young guns will have to pitch.  Durability is a part of sport, it is part of what makes a player great….even if it only lasts a season or two.

Time to buy more scotch………



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The Ending of An Era

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

The Captain’s Done: Jason Varitek has decided to end his 15-year tenure with the Boston Red Sox, according to Fox Sports. Varitek holds the record for most games caught in a Red Sox uniform with 1,488. He caught no-hitters for Hideo Nomo, Derek Lowe, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester, and won two World Series rings. When the Sox made their World Series run in ’04, it was hard not to cheer for them. Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez, and Varitek were the stars of the show that year. It’s nice that at least one of them stayed out of the negative spotlight; Damon joined the dark side and Manny, well, he just kept being Manny.

My favorite memory of Varitek will always be the time he punched A-Rod with both hands. Both hands. I bet the pretty boy never saw it coming.

How Can You Take A Urine Collector Seriously? And how do you find yourself a job collecting urine samples of MLB players? It seems like a less than desirable job. The collector of Ryan Braun’s now infamous urine samples, Dino Laurenzi, Jr. is on the defensive. Dino said, “This situation has caused great emotional distress for me and my family. I have worked hard my entire life, have performed my job duties with integrity and professionalism, and have done so with respect to this matter and all other collections in which I have participated.” Apparently, he did follow protocol for storing samples when the local FedEx office was closed. Regardless of the situation, I still think Braun’s should have some kind of punishment. Getting off scot-free is a bit ridiculous, but I digress.

Another Normal Day in the Life of an ex-NFLer: Ben Patrick, former Arizona Cardinal’s tight end, saved some lives on his way to Colorado on Saturday. He and some pals were heading up into the mountains for the weekend when they came across an overturned van with people trapped inside. So, naturally, Ben just hopped on top of the van and pulled the occupants to safety. That’s a pretty selfless thing to do. Better add that to the resume.

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Was Albert Pujols Leaving the Cardinals Bad for the Cubs?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Coming into the season, the general view is that Albert Pujols leaving St. Louis to head to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim was probably bad news for the Cardinals and good news for the rest of the National League Central.  After all, Albert Pujols was almost unarguably the best offensive player in baseball over the past decade.

I will avoid debate regarding the level of decrease the Cardinals will face in 2012 as a result of transitioning from Pujols at first base and Lance Berkman in right field to Berkman at first and Carlos Beltran in right field because I am honestly not very concerned with 2012.  I expect the Cubs to be bad in 2012, hovering in the 70-75 win area they have occupied the last two seasons.  In 2013, I expect the Cubs to “compete” in the NL Central in 2013, by which I mean that they will be within five or six games of first place at the All Star Break and finish around .500.  I expect the Cubs to actually be competitive with a legitimate shot to win the NL Central in 2014.

Let’s look at the landscape of the NL Central in 2014: the Brewers will probably have lost a significant amount of their starting rotation (including possibly Zack Greinke) and do not have the prospects or money to replace the players they are going to lose.  The Reds will almost certainly have lost Joey Votto sometime in the prior calendar year, and will probably be looking to rebuild around Devin Mesoraco.  I will believe the Pirates are going to put it all together when they actually put it all together.  And the Astros are further behind the Cubs, although they should be coming closer two years from now.

Now envision the contract Albert Pujols would have taken from the Cardinals had he been willing to give a hometown discount.  Let’s say he had been willing to take $22 million per year for eight years.  Between Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, the Cardinals would have $39 million, about 40% of their average payroll over the last several years, committed to two players who will be 34 years old in 2014.

Instead, the Cardinals have only $24.75 million committed towards 2014: Holliday’s $17 million and Jaime Garcia for $7.75 million.  Add to that a front office that has been one of the consistently strongest in baseball and one of baseball’s highest rated farm system, and the Cardinals may be able to retool from a team that relies on older vets Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran and Chris Carpenter very quickly.

If there is one team that I truly despise, it is the Cardinals.  But they are also the team I most respect and fear.  If I see the Brewers five games behind the Cubs in mid-August, I am pretty confident the Cubs will maintain the gap.  If I see the Cardinals five games back, I get nervous.  The Cardinals are the Yankees of the National League.  They are the team that turns other team’s has beens into Cy Young award winners.  They are the team that drafts a pudgy third baseman in the thirteenth round of the draft and winds up with Albert Pujols.

I would have loved to see the Cardinals bogged down in massive contracts to two aging veterans through the majority of the decade.  But while having to fight it out with a Cardinals team that has all of its pieces in tact may be more difficult, it is equally true that it will mean more to also beat a Cardinals team at full strength instead of feasting on the eventually inevitable husks of two aging former superstars if Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are able to build a team that reaches the promised land.

**I wrote everything above here on Sunday evening, but thought an update was necessary due to the news that Yadier Molina is about to sign a 5 year, $70-$75 million contract extension with the Cardinals.  Molina has been one of the best catchers in baseball over the last five seasons, including probably being the best defensive catcher in baseball over that period.  While I would generally avoid a contract that pays a catcher big dollars through the season where he will turn 35, the Molina brothers have done a good job of being able to stay behind the plate into their mid-30s.  

And if the Cardinals had signed Albert Pujols this offseason, there is almost no conceivable way they would have been able to keep Yadier Molina after 2012.

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Morning News: Thousands of Words (Mostly in Pictures)

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Burning Rubber  Opening up with NASCAR news might not be a great way to hold your attention this morning, but I think this falls into the must-see category, so bear with me.  After more than twenty-four hours of rain delays, the Daytona 500 got rolling around 7:00pm EST last night.  Several wrecks and delays held up the progress of the race, but things got really out of control when Juan Pablo Montoya lost control of his car and slammed into a track-drying trailer full of jet engine fuel.  Click here for a few more details and some crazy GIFs of the fiery crash.  Fun fact: apparently they used laundry detergent to smother the fire.

Red Sox Nation is Now a Dry County  In the wake of the late-season collapse that cost Terry Francona his job and paved the way for the Cubs to hire Theo Epstein, the Red Sox recently announced a ban on clubhouse drinking.  Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and other players admitted to drinking beer during games when they weren’t playing, and faced significant criticism after their flame-out to end the season.  The Boston front office and new manger Bobby Valentine decided to remove any further in-game temptation from this year’s team with their own small-scale prohibition.  Francona’s not impressed and said yesterday that he thinks it’s nothing more than a PR move.  No word yet on which player will step up Al Capone-style to corner the illicit booze market with moonshine and toilet wine, but it won’t be Jason Varitek, who plans to announce his retirement Thursday.

Keeping the Kings  A big congratulations to the city of Sacramento.  Less than a year ago it looked almost certain that the Kings would leave northern California, most likely for Anaheim.  But a last minute agreement between the Maloof brothers who own the team, the city, and the NBA has forged a deal to build a new stadium that will keep the Kings in Sacramento for the foreseeable future.  After the Sonics were so unceremoniously stolen from Seattle, I’m glad to see a different ending to a similar story for Kings fans–and I don’t even like basketball.

Cubs Roundup  Spring Training is almost in full swing, so you can expect daily reports like this one from Tribune malcontent beat writer Paul Sullivan.  In short, Kerry Wood had a rough day, first getting eliminated from the Cubs bunting championship by manager Dale Sveum, and then hitting Starlin Castro on the wrist during live BP (Castro’s fine).  Sullivan also put together a photo montage covering the aftermath of the accidental plunking.  Also, Cubs DH LF Alfonso Soriano doesn’t like the rumors of the team’s attempts to trade him this past offseason.  Someone needs to remind Soriano that he’ll make his guaranteed $54M no matter whose lineup he’s crippling.

VFTB Bidness  The Boys of Spring blog is giving awards to other Cubs blogs, and View From the Bleachers has been nominated in several categories, including the fan favorite category, called The Ryno.  We’re not gonna win it, but you can head over here and limit the scale of our public humiliation.  Or just click over and have a laugh at our utter lack of popularity in that particular corner of the Interweb. Also, don’t forget to enter the VFTB NCAA bracket contest. See details here.

Finally, Cubs pirate pitcher Jeff Samardzija has a new headshot, and it’s a doozy.  Enjoy.

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Who Am I?

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Who Am I? is a feature here at VFTB designed to give some of the focus back to those who make the site a success: YOU! We’ll tell you a bit about one of our regulars and you guess who it is. We’ll be back later in the day with the answer.

(This is the final installment of Who Am I? for now. We’re going to actually be able to talk about real live baseball very soon so we’re clearing the decks in preparation for that! I do have a waiting list of folks who’ve already indicated they’d like to be included in case our beloved Cubbies are completely out of it and we’re bored by mid-May. So, if you’d like to be placed on the Who Am I? waiting list, let me know at … the more the merrier!)

Who Am I?

  • I’ve only been in the Chicago area since 2000, so I’m a fairly new (but no less enthusiastic) Cubs fan. I usually go to Wrigley once a year on my birthday. I’ve been a baseball fan since childhood.
  • I thought Hendry was ok and I have high hopes for Theo, though I don’t expect miracles. I do not expect the Cubs to contend in 2012.
  • I found VFTB through a Google search about four or five years ago, and was drawn to it because of the civility. My favorite part of the site is the conversation among the readers. It’s great to see people of such varied backgrounds coming together solely due to the shared love of a team.
  • I find Carlos Zambrano to be ultra-annoying, and I was sad to see Aramis Ramirez leave (even though I thought he needed a kick in the rear sometimes).
  • I favor a combination of stats and gut.
  • If I was to dine with Seymour he’d have the answer to a question he and Doc Raker have been asking for years.

Who Am I?

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