Thursday, March 31, 2005
It seems that Mark Prior will pitch this weekend in a minor league game. This will allow the Cubs to backdate Mark Prior's effective date on the disabled list and make him eligible to come off the DL as soon as April 12th.
All indications are that he will be DL'd before the start of the season.
Back To Normal
With the end of Cactus League play, the Ivy Chat logo returns to its regular season look.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
This Is A Recording
No Mark Prior on Saturday. The only thing that keeps Prior off the DL is Al Yellon, faith healer.
Spring Break Shark Attack: The Reality Show
It seems hundreds of sharks are as close as 10 feet off the shore of some of Florida's beaches. This is causing thousands of beaches to be closed.
I'm sure that most spring breakers are worried for themselves. But with the "success" of CBS' show from a few weeks back, isn't it possible they just want a taste of Shannon Lucio?
The Trib's web site has the following poll up:
Illinois needs one basket to win the national title. Who takes the shot?
- James Augustine
- Dee Brown
- Luther Head
- Deron Williams
Shouldn't the answer be Lute Olsen?
Dave Kaplan re-upped with WGN to do Sports Central for another three years. That means he won't be moving to WSCR or anywhere else before 2008 at the earliest. That means we can look forward to hearing a Kappy Kampaign for votes for Mark Grace for the Hall of Fame.
Then again, you can just hit the "CD" button on your car radio.
Something About Jerry
Jerry Hairston was 4 for 5 yesterday (s singles). He's clearly been the surprise of the spring with his consistency at the plate. What's funny is that Dusty Baker nearly refuses to talk about him. Could that be because the two people that Jerry could replace in the lineup are two people having brutal springs? Those two would be Todd Walker and Korey.
Now, I'm not as worried about Todd as I am about Korey. Todd has a track record of being a good hitter. Korey has a track record of hitting everything for 4 weeks and then flailing at everything for the next 5 weeks. So why doesn't Dusty want to upset either of these guys? Walker is a hard ass and Korey, if you believe what Steve Stone says, is close to uncoachable (Stone said that Korey refuses to listen ways to change his approach to hitting).
Hairston deserves a starting spot, and deserves to leadoff. Unless Jerry's destined to replace Hollandsworth in left, it's Korey and Todd who would sit. Would Dusty really put clubhouse cohesiveness above placing the best team on the field? All I know is that if this team starts to lose and the players perceive that there are better players stuck on the bench, the clubhouse will become an acid place regardless if Korey and Todd get placated with playing time.
The Wife arranged for dinner last night. For the first time since stamping on a glass, she organzied the anniversary evening plans. She chose Oceanique in Evanston. If you like fish, this is a solid place. The bouillabaisse was very tasty without being too spicy. The Wife had a tasting dinner of 6 courses.
The chocolate-creme custard dessert was outstanding. Her black-and-white cake was good, but not sweet enough for my tastes.
Another fine establishment to add to the list of places to go if you don't mind splurging for a meal.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
- Dusty Baker told fans yesterday that his opening day lineup would be Corey Patterson, Todd Walker, Nomar Garciaparra, Aramis Ramirez, Jeromy Burnitz, Derrek Lee, Todd Hollandsworth, Michael Barrett and Carlos Zambrano.
Any takers that Patterson swings at the first pitch? And misses?
- Mark Prior threw 51 pitches in a 4 inning simulated game. Afterwards, he said that he'd know he's completely healthy after he pitches in a game and emerges pain free.
Does that mean he wasn't pain free yesterday?
- Dick Vitale was on the radio on Monday and said that the success of coaches like Bruce Webber shows that there are a lot of coaches working at levels below Division I that could be successful in a big program.
So, a man who made his career by cozying up to big time college coaches like Gollumn to a gold ring, now says that college coaches are a dime a dozen?
March 29th, 1997
Monday, March 28, 2005
Not Funny, Not Sad
According to frequent reader and lovable curmudgeon Carlos Zambrano's Dad, Corey Patterson is living up to the name we love to call him here at Ivy Chat.
His stats as of Saturday:
.278 OBP (he musta gotten hit by a pitch -- see below)
We've got some specialness for Korey this week.
Three Stories, Done Deal
The Trib, Sun Times and Daily Herald all say today what was intimated last week. Mark Prior will start the season on the disabled list. But this is not big news. Careful readers of Cubs' news stories already knew this. See, the Cubs' brass still operates the same today as it did going back several years: Leak to the press what's going to happen through an innocuous statement to avoid the news becoming a surprise when it actually happens days later.
But the news of the day is that Kerry Wood is having his start delayed one day. Dusty "Truth in Advertising" Baker says that this is so that the Brewers don't get another look at Wood given that the Brewers play the Cubs 18 times this year. In other news, Dusty hired Wendell Kim to climb through the air ducts of Miller Park to steal the Brewers 6 years of tapes of Wood pitching against them.
While I may not be a big Kerry Wood fan, I would never suggest that I'd rather have Glendon Rusch or Ryan Dempster starting over Wood. This team is in huge trouble if it can't rely on both Wood and Prior. All that said, it's getting close to the time where this team must stop needing to rely on Kerry Wood. With his injury history and lack of dependability, maybe the Cubs go a different direction for a dependable starter. At $10.8 million per year, that's a lot to pay for partial seasons.
After reading Bleed Cubbie Blue and rereading the above, I need to correct what I implied. The papers don't state that Prior will go on the DL. Rather, each paper is now taking the tack of suggesting he might go on the DL. The statement that, "Mark Prior will start the season on the disabled list," is purely conjecture on my part. That's what I meant, but my preference for a brevity of words in an individual post screwed it up.
This is what happens when you blog without... what do you call it... thinking.
Friday, March 25, 2005
Tipping The Pitchers
When something is going to happen to players on our favorite team, the team management leaks it through the media. Today's leak appears in Paul Sullivan's column in the Trib.
Despite Mark Prior throwing in the bullpen yesterday, he will miss a minimum of one start. My guess is more because of what Paul pens:
(Glendon Rusch's ability to start) would give the Cubs the option of putting Prior on the 15-day disabled list to open the season. Prior threw another bullpen session Thursday, saying he still has some tenderness and inflammation in the elbow before adding his standard line: "I'm not worried about it."
The soonest we can see Mark is April 15th. I'm betting on May 1. The reason they use to delay him will be the same one they used to pull Kerry Wood yesterday:
"The facts are if he's healthy and pitching in September, it's all worked out, and that's what our goal is—to make sure he stays healthy all year and can concentrate on what he has to do now without too much interference and try to stay away from any negative thoughts that creep in." That was Larry Rothschild on Kerry Wood yesterday.
I expect to hear the same speech for Mark Prior in the next week or two.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Morty Leaves Del Boca Vista
Barney Martin, better known as Morty Seinfeld, died today at the age of 82 after a bout with cancer.
I hope he had good doctors. I can just see his visit to the oncologist:
Barney: They stole my wallet. The bum stole my wallet. MY WALLET'S GONE! MY WALLET'S GONE! I had my wallet in my back pocket. It’s gone.
NURSE: Are you sure?
Barney: Yes, I'm sure. I went in to get my chemo! Somebody takes my wallet. Is that the operation here?
DR. DEMBROW: Mr. Martin, I'm Dr. Dembrow
Barney: I'm not interested in the chemo. I want my money back. Somebody stole my wallet. I had $225 in there.
DR. DEMBROW: Why, I don't see how something like that could have happened.
Barney: Oh, you don't see. You don't see. Well it happened. Believe me.
DR. DEMBROW: All right, Mr. Martin, I am sorry about your wallet but would you like me to have the chemo?
Barney: What kind of clip joint are you running here?
DR. DEMBROW: All right, fine. (leaves)
Mrs. Martin: The least you could have done was hear your diagnosis.
Barney: I am not interested in his diagnosis. He's a bum.
Mrs. Martin: You came all the way from Studio City to see him.
Barney: I want to know what kind of an office this is where you can't leave your pants in the room. You tell me.
Bawck! Bawck! Bawck!
So, Al Yellon, over at Bleed Cubbie Blue, has suggested that I am a "Chicken Little" for suggesting that the sky is falling over Kerry Wood's and Mark Prior's injuries. "...it sure seems like things are going to work out OK," I was told.
I think Al is Kevin Bacon in Animal House. "All is well!"
Word out of Mesa is that Wood will skip his start today. There's a surprise.
See you in May, Kerry.
May? OK. June.
Big Day in Boring Month
This has been a boring spring training for the most part. The position players are set at just about everywhere other than left field, and even that is only a question of how much time will Jerry Hairston get versus Todd Hollandsworth.
The big events have been the pitching injuries to Kerry Wood and Mark Prior (and Joe Borowski if you want to include him, but I wasn't counting on him anyway). Today is the one day that could make big news. Wood pitches against the A's this afternoon. He's scheduled for 3 innings (40 to 50 pitches would be the guess). If he finishes all three innings, one sigh of relief can be released.
News on Mark Prior's side throwing should also be released. His health is the bigger news. Remember, it's three weeks from throwing off a mound to throwing in Wrigley. If he gets back on schedule, he only misses one start. How he throws and when he throws again is the key news Cub Nation should focus on.
Things Don't Change
According to WSCR, Corey Patterson has 44 spring training at bats. He has 12 strikeouts. Over a 625 AB season, that projects to 170 strikeouts.
Just the facts, ma'am.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Whom to Get
While the world is busy psychoanalyzing Barry Bonds and whether or not his son was sending a message by wearing a Barry Sanders jersey, those of us worried about winning on the field have other concerns. After Barry goes to jail for income tax evasion (ask any banker why he was passing cash in wads of $9,000 and you'll understand why Barry stands a good chance of going "inside for all day"), all that will be left is...
THE ACTUAL GAME OF BASEBALL.
With JoeBo out until the ivy is green, the Cubs must turn to other sources for a closer. Typical SOP for this club and Jim Hendry. Hendry runs this club like it's a TJ Maxx -- he tries to get the max for the minimum. Why add extra pieces when they are available if you don't need them at the time? Who needs Ugy Urbina or Try Percival? We've got LaTroy and Joe. What? One of them got hurt? Crap. Now we've got to give up actual prospects to fill a hole?
Well, now that Hendry has made the Cubs bed, I can think of a team that might be willing to sell the Cubs the sheets and pillows. That would be the Devil Rays.
Tampa has three players I would love to acquire. They would be: Aubrey Huff, Carl Crawford, and Danys Baez. The problem with the Cubs getting any of them is that they are all relatively cheap in terms of salary. Crawford would be a legit leadoff hitter and could play center or left. Huff would play corner outfielder and spell D Lee at first on occasion. Baez seems to be a solid closer. To get all of them would require unloading a ton of prospects.
Crawford is the anti-Korey pipe dream, so let’s ignore him. Huff is a year away from free agency. He’s expendable from the Rays perspective, but he’s also a valuable bargaining chip. He won’t be cheap. Baez isn’t considered a top closer so the premium you pay to get him is minimal.
If it’s me, I call down and try to get all three for a package of Patterson, Guzman, Dopriak and Pie. Yes, I go all in. But that’s me. Mr. Vegas.
That also won’t happen.
What does it take to get Huff and Baez, either individually or collectively?
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
From the Home Office On Michigan Avenue...
The Chicago Tribune today gives their wish list to the sequels they'd like to see to "Spring Break Shark Attack."
- American Idol Shark Attack
- Extreme Makeover Shark Attack
- Two and a Half Guys Shark Attack
- Celebrity Poker Showdown Shark Attack
- Happy Days Reunion Shark Attack
- America's Next Top Model Shark Attack
- Check, Please Shark Attack
- Suppernanny Shark Attack
- Law & Order: Shark Attack
- Antiques Road Show Shark Attack
If you don't have access to a radio, you may not have heard that Joe Borowski broke his hand yesterday when he was hit by a batted ball. He will be out close to two months.
There will be much hand wringing about this move. Color me skeptical as to its effect on the team. Joe had a miracle season in 2003. A guy who had done nothing as a pro stepped up and became a key cog in a near World Series team. In 2004, he was hurt. He'd lost about 5 to 10 MPH off his fastball. Now, he is supposedly back.
I'm not sure I have a lot of faith in the Borowski arm.
Once again, the klaxon alarm goes off for Jim Hendry. He failed to add a closer down the stretch in 2003 and 2004. Both times it cost him. Now, he needs to do it before the season starts.
You have a wealth of pitching prospects to deal, Jim. Many of whom you will never use and many of whom who will not pan out.
Make some moves.
Monday, March 21, 2005
Blood in the Water
So, Spring Break: Shark Attack has now been broadcast, its signal now on its way into the vast reaches of outer space.
I hate to say it, but I missed the flick. Was it any good? Was it as lousy as it seemed give this was CBS? My guess is that this is the kind of movie that needs full Showtime treatment. By that I mean body parts, entrails, and, of course, gratuitous nudity.
Show me the thumbs up or thumbs down, people.
The New York Times ran yesterday with the contrarian view on steroids. This view parallels mine: Steroids are no more or less proper than prozac, anti-ADHD drugs and all other "performance enhancers". Money quote:
Lawyers take the anti-sleep drug Provigil to finish that all-night brief, in hopes of concentrating better. Classical musicians take beta blockers, which banish jitters, before a big recital.Is the student who swallows a Ritalin before taking the SAT unethical if the pill gives her an unfair advantage over other students? If a golfer pops a beta blocker before a tournament, is he eliminating a crucial part of competition - battling nerves and a chance of choking?
What steroids is really an offshoot of is the culture of drugs in America.
We are a society of "better living through chemistry." If it's caffeinated beverages to keep you awake, to sudapheds to give you a boost before kickoff, to lasix so you don't have to wear glasses, to creatine for the weight room, to benedryll to get your kids to sleep on an airplane, to steroids in sports. It's all the same thing - improving your life through chemistry.
If we want steroids out of sports, it's not going to happen until we start to get "enhancement" drugs out of all phases of out lives and only start using drugs for recuperative and healing purposes.
That won't happen anytime soon. Excuse me while I go get my morning caffeine fix.
Sunday, March 20, 2005
Adding Page 2
Elaine Dickinson: Would you like something to read?
Lady: Do you have anything light?
Elaine Dickinson: How about this leaflet, "Famous Jewish Sports Legends?"
Last night, in Peoria, a second page was added to that leaflet. Glenbrook North won it's first Illinois Class AA State basketball title. And they did it with a rather unexpected starting five, according to coach Dave Weber.
"I think we made some kind of history [Saturday night]," Weber said in reference to his all-Jewish starting lineup. "I don't think anyone ever thought kids like that from a place like Northbrook could win a state championship. We knew we had to overachieve, and we did."
Glenbrook North was something of an athletic afterthought for many years. Other than an upset football win in the early 70's (they beat Kellen Winslow's team) and a soccer and a few hockey club titles in the mid 80's, the school has basically limited is prowess to academics.
That started to change about 10 years ago when Chris Collins arrived to revive a sleepy basketball program. Now, the team has finally broken through. Led by Coach Weber and a starting lineup of Sean Wallis, Matt Gold, Zach Kelly, Jonathan Radke, and should-be-Mr.-Basketball Jonathan Scheyer, they brought home the title last night.
Mazel tov, men.
Friday, March 18, 2005
And The Was Much Rejoicing
The Tribune's Ed Sherman reports that Hub Arkush has been fired and will no longer be involved with Chicago Bears' broadcasts. For those of us who listen to the Bears on the radio, this is tremendously good news! Hub was a decent analyst during games who became an insufferable blowhard after the games once he was in the presence of players and coaches. The dichotomy in what he was willing to say to a mass audience compared to a player's face was disgusting.
Now, the Bears only need to make two more changes to their broadcasts. First, Jeff Joniak needs steroid treatments to get his voice about 3 octaves lower. Can he at least make it sound below the level of crowd noise? I can never hear him.
Second, broadcasts could really be improved by having a... um.... good team.
When Harry Dissed Marky
WMVP's Harry Teinowitz threw out a tease yesterday afternoon that Mark Prior will miss a month. Given that there is no word from the Cubs, from Mark, from doctors, or from any other source, Harry's spouting of such inflammatory, unsubstantiated rumors does a disservice to Cubs fans. If Harry were to read this I would advise him to watch what he says. I'd also like to ask him one question.
Why are you so optimistic?
Thursday, March 17, 2005
I see today is a day of great rejoicing. I don't understand the big deal. Green beer for the NCAA tourney start? Isn't orange and black, the color of a basketball, more appropriate? How about a light blonde like the color of bleached hardwood?
I see our friend the Sloth has his Kelly Clarkson thing going again. Well, at least he likes one girl who doesn't have to run around in the shower to get wet. But what the hey does Kelly have to do with Ireland? Kelly, as in Kelly Green?
If I'm thinking Ireland and fine looking women, you don't go Kelly. You go Kathy.
All you need to know about Mark Prior and Kerry Wood is this: Once you see them pitch off a mound, it’s about 3 weeks before they pitch in a real game. That means Wood is on pace to pitch the home opener. Prior is on pace to sing Take Me Out To The Ballgame in May.
The Trib gave a rundown of the Cubs’ spring training stats. Looking at the players who have 20 at bats, here’s what we see:
Player AB AVG HR RBI
A Ram 24 .458 1 3
Nomar 22 .455 2 4
Dubois 20 .400 3 4
Hairston 20 .300 1 2
Barrett 21 .286 1 4
Player IP H ERA
Zambrano 9.0 5 0.00
LaTroy 5.1 7 1.69
Mitre 8.0 9 2.25
Maddux 6.0 9 3.00
That’s the good. Here’s the not so good:
Player AB AVG HR RBI
Burnitz 20 .250 1 6
Korey 28 .250 0 3
Walker 23 .174 0 1
Player IP H ERA
Dempster 8.2 10 6.23
Rusch 9.0 14 7.00
Guzman 3.1 8 8.11
All this screams small sample size, but hey. It’s all we have to look at.
If you need help picking your NCAA Tournament brackets, here's my advice. Look at mine and do the opposite. The one rule that I've followed: You never make money betting on Illinois. Oh, and hurry. You've got about 2 hours to get your picks in.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
With Congressional steroid hearings starting tomorrow, all the talk is that the "tough policy" that baseball has imposed on its players for drug testing really has no teeth. That’s a valid question, but it’s not what I want to know.
I’m still wondering why Barry Bonds wasn’t called to testify. It can’t be that Congress doesn’t want to hear from him, if anything, Congress would want him under their klieg lights to raise their own grandstanding ability.
I’m starting to wonder if Bonds can't testify because his testimony would spoil somehting else. I'm wondering if it has something to do with to do with the plea bargain that Greg Anderson is trying to negotiate. Anderson is the person from whom Bonds testified that he unknowingly obtained steroids. Dave Pinto speculates that Anderson is getting the deal in exchange for testimony against BALCO founder Victor Conte.
Could it be that Anderson is going to drop dime on someone else? Someone whom, if he testified on Capitol Hill would require immunity from prosecution?
If Bonds were the conduit for BALCO to reach athletes (in that Bonds arranged for meetings with BALCO representatives and other MLB players), Bonds could be facing criminal charges as an accomplice to distribute controlled substances. Testifying before Congress might blow this part of the case for prosecutors.
Bonds might be being left alone because he is facing criminal charges. I’d love to see a timeline of when Bonds got to the Giants, when BALCO was formed, and when BALCO started its growth phase.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Two Sons, Two Tournaments
The focus this past week in Illinois basketball has been on Bruce Weber. Bruce lost his mom during the Big ten Basketball Tournament. Illinois went on to win the tourney and clamp on to a great chance to win a national title.
Mrs. Weber has another son who is also a basketball coach.
Dave Weber is the head coach at Glenbrook North High School. On the day Mrs. Weber passed, Dave's team won a 1 point sectional final game. Tonight, behind 48 points from Jon Scheyer, Glenbrook North defeated Waukegan 70-58 to win the Loyola Supersectional and a spot in the IHSA Elite Eight.
Regardless how either team does from here on out, I hope that Mrs. Weber know this: Her sons and their students have done very well. Wish you were here to see it.
If there was one person I'd like to get to testify under oath, it would be Jim Hendry. Here's what I'd like to ask:
"At what point in tie were you aware that injuries to Mark Prior and Kerry Wood were chronic in not simply acute?"
It's very possible that Hendry never knew that these injuries had the possibility of being recurring. In fact, it's even likely. But there is a possibility that the Cubs' brain trust knew at some point over the last 6 to 12 months that these guys would face probable injuries in 2005. Not just the regular chance of injuries, mind you. Something more likely and more probable.
If that's true, then Hendry did the franchise and its fans a gross disservice by failing to keep Andy Sisco here. If there was upfront knowledge that two of the three rocks in the rotation could miss time, then Hendry had to do everything in his power to keep up the depth among the starters.
Letting two high-ceiling prospective starters go for nothing is gross negligence if Hendry had doctor's reports about deteriorating health on Prior and Wood.
I would like to know what Hendry knew and when he knew it.
Shaping Up Lousy
Korey Leading Off.
Dusty still managing like a kid on a PlayStation.
Yeah, this is shaping up as a hell of a year.
Monday, March 14, 2005
Never Doubt the Worrier
Now it's Mark Prior that's hurt. Anyone else out there still believe that his simulated game was "standard operating procedure"? Should I have just said "operating"?
Skimming the quotes, it's all non-denial denials as to when Prior will be back.
"The best-case scenario is that in two or three days, he'd start playing catch and it's completely relieved and we move forward. That's just purely speculation." - Cubs trainer Mark O'Neal
What's the worst-case, Mark?
"I'm optimistic that both of them will be fine." - Jim Hendry, referring to both Prior and Kerry Wood.
But not certain.
There is nothing good about any of this. Those of you who said we worriers were just being alarmists have failed to look at the history of those involved.
And those of you who said that the Cubs should hang on to their young talent and not try to win each year at all costs? This page has referred to a "window to win" that is tied to the young pitchers. That window requires that the pitchers stay healthy.
Wood and Prior are not keeping their end up.
Now, how does not getting Mike Lowell in 2003 look now? How does not getting Carlos Beltran in 2004 look now?
Jim Hendry has always made non-risky moves. The result: Bubkus. Time to make some risky moves, Jim. You've already lost Andy Sisco for nothing.
Move some youth and win.
Dumbest... Show... Ever!
And you thought that losing Dan Rather was the path upwards for CBS? You can count on one promo for this mind enhancer every commercial break during the NCAA's.
On the plus side, "Spring Break Shark Attack" promises to have Shannon Lucio, Bianca Lishansky, and Genevieve Howard in plenty of bikinis.
Pizza and beer and my house, right, Sloth?
Prime Time Reruns
On the rare occasion that I am in the car at 5:05 PM on your weekday evening, if you happen to flip on sports radio in this town looking to get some fix on the hot topic of the day, you really only have one choice: ESPN 1000.
The New Rick Telendar Show seems to use that time slot to go into a replay mode of some big interview from earlier in the day, sometimes, not even from Rick's show. "RICK TELENDAR: RELOADED" a segue screams.
Why would I want to listen to that? It's 5:00. Give me a summary of what you've been talking about. What are the hot stories. What's happened since I've been locked in my office crunching numbers.
Don't give me 10 minutes of talking to Paul Konerko.
WMVP does it right. They take the 5:00 segment to set up the rest of the show. They get the people just getting into their cars hooked by rattling off a series of topics that they will cover over the next two hours. It's live and it gets you interested in the rest of the show.
I'd give Telendar a chance, but I never hear anything that keeps me interested.
Perhaps that's why WSCR is getting burried in the ratings. They've lost me.
The More Things Change...
One year ago, this page noted how scripted the Cubs' officials words were regarding the health of Mark Prior. The rule seemed to be that the Cubs, while not telling you the story in whole words, would tell you if you just read between the lines. When Dusty Baker quipped about leaving pitchers behind for extended spring training, you knew that Prior wasn't going to be ready.
They're doing it again.
All three daily papers (Herald, Trib, and Sun Times) use this quote from Dusty Baker:
"We've talked about a few possibilities, rearranging things possibly if he's not ready at that time. I can't tell you at this point whom. I'm sure you guys will speculate.
"There's always a Plan B. I just hope we don't go to C and D."
The bottom line with Wood is that you just can't trust him to be healthy. Hell, you've got a better chance to see thongs on Oak Street Beach in March than you do to see 33 starts from Kerry Wood.
The more interesting thing is whom may replace Wood. The talk in Angel Guzman. I'm a little surprised they'd bring him up before May 1 (to try to save a year on free agency service time), but I'd rather see him then Glendon Rusch.
Fire up, Angel. Your time may finally be here.
Pure Unadulterated Love
Box score from yesterday's pre-season game:
IP H R ER BB SO
Zambrano 4 4 0 0 2 2
A little press and this guy would be the NL Cy Young favorite. Let's go, Panazzo.
Friday, March 11, 2005
Hoping, And Wishing, And Praying
When Steve Alford first came to the University of Iowa, there was great hope spread throughout Hawkeye Nation. We are getting an up and coming coach who did a solid job at a Direction School (Southwest Mizzou) who was a Big 10 All American? How can this be a bad thing?
Well, it's been a terrible thing. Not only has the program not developed, it has gone from the sleepy, somber days of Tom Davis to the continual handwringing of the present.
It's bad enough that Alford has been unable to win, but he's been unable to show any class. Steve has often been his own worst enemy. The ways he's defended the bad apples of his program do not paint a good picture of the university he represents.
It's time for Steve to move on. If an ass-whupping by Michigan State is needed to foment that process, so be it.
Iowa fans deserve better than this mope. Just look what Capt. Kirk has done with Iowa's football program. Ferentz doesn't need to ever share a stage with a guy like Alford.
Help us Mighty Spartans. End the misery.
What? Me Worry?
So, we’re not supposed to worry about Kerry Wood. First, they told us that his shoulder was fine and didn’t need an MRI. The next day, he got an MRI and a first class seat on an Airbus 319 to Chicago to see the team doctor for an exam. But don’t worry. Kerry says the shoulder is "phenomenally strong," we are told and that "Everything feels fine. Nothing is sore. Nothing hurts. It just was a little bit tight."
This guy will very quickly rise to be the target for the Cubs fans’ bile this season. When a team is not going well, fans always look to blame someone. Why not a 28 year old, oft injured, $11 million per year pitcher who has never won more than 14 games in a season?
Wood won’t deserve the bile, but he does deserve a downgrade in the expectations that fans place on him. With his history and his success, that people consider him a cornerstone of the Cubs’ franchise is ludicrous. All the SABR types out there will tell you that past performance is the best indicator of projected performance.
Pencil Wood in for 12 wins. Anything beyond that is a bonus. Expect more and you are a doofus. We’re right not to worry about Wood. Not because he may or may not be hurt, but because he’s far from the most important cog on this team. He’s behind Zamboni, Prior, A-Ram, Nomar, D Lee and maybe even Michael Barrett (140 games of Henry Blanco makes me shudder) in terms of importance for this team.
And when will Dusty Baker acknowledge that Carlos Zambrano is the ace of this staff with Mark Prior as his deputy? Who has shown the health and durability of this staff other than Zamboni? Well, who is under 35, anyway.
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Yes, Kerry Wood left a game with an arm injury again yesterday. This time, he has "shoulder tightness." But, it's nothing to worry about. Listen to Kerry himself:
It doesn't bother me right now. It's more like a little ... I don't know how to describe it. I've never had any problems up there (in my shoulder).
I guess Kerry meant to say, at the end of his quote, "So I guess I was due."
Now, I have no idea if this is just a minor thing or the start of a season-long problem. What I do know about Kerry Wood is this: This guy is as reliable as U.S. intelligence on Iraqi WMDs. Look at his career numbers:
Year G IP H R ER HR BB SO W L ERA
1998 26 166.2 117 69 63 14 85 233 13 6 3.40
2000 23 137.0 112 77 73 17 87 132 8 7 4.80
2001 28 174.1 127 70 65 16 92 217 12 6 3.36
2002 33 213.2 169 92 87 22 97 217 12 11 3.67
2003 32 211.0 152 77 75 24 100 266 14 11 3.20
2004 22 140.1 127 62 58 16 51 144 8 9 3.72
Total 164 1043.0 804 447 421 109 512 1209 67 50 3.63
Only pitched 200 innings and 30 starts twice in his career. Injuries in 5 of his 7 years in the bigs. He's now over five years removed from Tommy John surgery, which, according to Will Carroll, is the time window in which arm problems start to reoccur.
This is a man who, while gifted, is looked on by some (including Peter Gammons) as a savior and perennial Cy Young candidate.
Well, he's not. He's a solid pitcher who can be spectacular at times. He can also be lousy. And he gets hurt a lot. That's not a guy to build around. He's nice to have on your roster. But thank god for Carlos Zambrano and Mark Prior. They are the anchors of this team, not Kerry Wood.
Kerry Wood will be lucky to hit his 600 innings pitched in 2004 to 2006. That would prevent his option for 2007 from vesting. Right now, that looks to be a very good thing. $11 million per year for an unreliable, oft-injured pitched is a luxury I wouldn't want.
I hope he's healthy, The Cubs need him for 2005 if they want to win a World Series. But you are nuts if you are counting on him. He's burned you every other time.
TM PITCHERS IP H R ER BB SO ERA
KC Sisco, Andy 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0.00
The following are the witnesses who have been called/subpoenad to testify before Congress on March 11. Notice, no owners:
- Jose Canseco, former Oakland Athletic and Texas Ranger.
- Jason Giambi, current New York Yankee and former Oakland Athletic.
- Mark McGwire, former Oakland Athletic and St. Louis Cardinal.
- Rafael Palmeiro, current Baltimore Oriole and former Texas Ranger.
- Curt Schilling, currently of the Boston Red Sox.
- Sammy Sosa, current Baltimore Oriole and former Chicago Cub.
- Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox.
- Bud Selig, commissioner of baseball for Major League Baseball.
- Sandy Alderson, former general manager of the Oakland Athletics and current executive vice president of baseball operations for Major League Baseball.
- Don Fehr, executive director and general counsel of the Major League Baseball Players Association.
- Kevin Towers, general manager and executive vice president of the San Diego Padres.
Baseball in Gucci Gultch
Here’s my quick take on the steroids subpoenas. Why haven’t any owners been called? Most of the players being called to testify were named in Jose Canseco’s book. Well, so were owners. Now, it’s pretty clear they ain’t gonna call the one owner that I know was named in the book (even though he lives walking distance from the Capitol), but why not some of the others?
Is it perhaps due to the fact that none of these guys makes good TV compared to the actual athletes? Could it be that this is all a sham to elevate the profiles of the congressmen on the committee? Or, could it be that the owners have better clout with the politicians, which allows them to keep clear of the committee?
Unless Congress wants to subpoena the owners, this is all a sham.
And how stupid is Tom DeLay for scheduling this on the same day as the start of the NCAA basketball tourney? Guess what sports fans are going to be watching? Not the committee hearings, that’s for sure.
Tom Davis (R-VA) is chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, not Tom DeLay. I heard DeLay's name in conjunction with the hearings this AM on the radio and did not check the information myself.
Consider this blatant ignoring of standard journalistic practice my farewell tribute to Dan Rather.
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Doing More Lines
From today's split squad games. Ignore the finals, but examine the individual performances.
Pitcher IP H R ER BB SO HR
G Rusch (W,1-0) 3 3 0 0 0 1 0
S Mitre 3 3 0 0 1 2 0
M Wuertz 1 0 0 0 0 1 0
Sure, it was against KC, but so what? Very nice work.
Now, for the game against the Athletics:
Pitcher IP H R ER BB SO HR
C Zambrano 3 1 0 0 1 3 0
A Guzman 2 2 0 0 1 1 0
Who's that listed last? Yes. Angel Guzman. He's a year late, but he's looking good. The only negative on the day was Chad Fox blowing up in the ninth. And that's only bad if you were counting on him.
All in all, a great day.
Good News, Bad News
Lines from spring training games yesterday:
TM PLAYERS AB R H BI AVG
CHC Dubois, Jason - dh 3 1 2 1 .375 - HR (1)
Nice to see. Keep it up and the Cubs have even more flexibility -- lineup and trade.
TM PITCHERS IP H R ER BB SO ERA
KC Sisco, Andy 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0.00
I'm betting we don't get to see him in Cubbie blue. KC will try very, very hard to keep him on their 25 man roster if he posts numbers like this for the next three weeks.
Note: As a Rule 5 acquisition, Sisco would return to the Cubs should the Royals not keep him on their 25 man roster for the whole season.
Riffing on Prior
Steve Stone fielded questions regarding Mark Prior on his Monday WSCR stint. His angle was quite simple: Prior had mechanics problems last year. By pitching him in a simulated game, instead of an exhibition game, Larry Rothschild can stand on the mound with Prior and watch him up close and correct any flaws in delivery on the fly.
If this is all that’s going on, fine by me. It’s just that Prior’s never been healthy for a full season (yeah, crashing into Marcus Giles is different, but it counts). Until he takes the mound Thursday and pumps 30 fastballs into Henry Blanco’s glove, I will remain mervous. Or nervous.
...Welcome back, Sweaty Joe Borowski.
...NYPD Blue, which went out with a whimper, is being replaced by a show featuring a blind detective. Who carries a gun. Yeah, that makes boatloads of sense.
...24 fell off a cliff in the last 1 hour and 1 minute. Why kill off the CTU director's daughter? An EMP to wipe out all electrical function in a square mile of downtown LA? Set off by a company to "protect" itself? While it's nice to see Tony, and now Michelle, back, the writing needs to tighten up.
Monday, March 07, 2005
So, why isn't Mark Prior pitching yet? I'm somewhat relieved that there are no suggestive quotes being released this year like last year's "Bobby Welch" comment.
Ok, I'm relieved. Why am I nervous?
EA Sports MVP 2005 Review
So I plunk down and buy it. Get it home. Load it up (PC version). Hook up my Microsoft Sidewinder game pad (serial port). And...
Game no workie. Why? The game controller is "not recognized" the game tells me. Nice of EA to tell me that on the side of the box, that only certain controllers are recognized.
I despise software companies that do crap like this. I despise them enough not to buy their products, no matter how good they are.
So, I guess it's a run to Best Buy at lunch today to buy a new-fangled UBS dual joystick pad. I can't return the software, of course. It's open now.
Unless someone wants to take it off my hands. It's been out of the box since 10 PM last night. It cost $32. Anyone?
Back In The Saddle
You get back in Chicago and find out that Ron Santo couldn't work a pre-season Cubs' broadcast due to a stomach illness. According to the Sun-Times, "Santo had been scheduled to have some stomach tests, but the exam had to be pushed forward after he complained of increasing pain."
That doesn't sound good for a man with a history of bladder cancer.
Ron's always been one of my favorite people despite his atrociousness as a broadcaster. Come home quickly, Ronnie.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
And So It Starts
The problem with being on vacation when the Cubs are starting up is the inability to follow preseason results. While I understand they won today, that A-Ram drove in both runs with a dinger, that Korey started off right where he left off, details just aren’t available.
What is possible here at Club In-Law is to follow the quotes in the paper. I couldn’t help but notice these two from an article by Paul Sullivan about the reconstructed bleachers at Wrigley Field. It seems that fewer balls will land on Waveland and Sheffield once the bleachers are expanded.
"There's some meaning to [street shots], because ... at Wrigley and Fenway when you hit one well enough, you can hit it onto a street. ... At other parks, it's just an average home run. It adds a little juice, a little spark to it." – Corey Patterson
Then, in the next paragraph, we see this:
"It doesn't matter if it's in the first row, they all count the same," he said. "What about the people on the rooftops? Will they still be able to watch? That's a part [of Wrigley] that I like." - Nomar Garciaparra
Which one of these guys gets it and which one is thinking about "Touch 'Em All" on ESPN? And his contract?
The Wife and I have been hitting the desert casinos pretty hard this week. The Wife is a slot bandit while I prefer craps or blackjack. Here in California, games with balls and dice are outlawed. Here’s how they play craps. You get two “numeric cubes” with numbers 1 through six written on them. The pit boss shuffles 6 playing cards, ace through 6. He lines up the cards on slots number 1 to 6. You roll the dice. Whatever numbers you get, the pit boss flips over the corresponding cards. Whatever the number on the cards, that’s your roll. Say you roll a 1 and a 6. The pit boss flips over cards 1 and 6. If they are 4 and 2, your point is 6.
Goofy. I didn’t like it. Too slow and anti-climactic. You roll a 7 and it’s really a 4. Then, you make your point on the cubes, but the cards flip to a 7 and you’re out.
What is interesting is the sheer number of licensed slot machines. It used to be Red White and Blue, or Triple Double Diamond. Now, it’s all video slots. And the games include M*A*S*H, Men In Black, I Dream of Genie, Monopoly, Beverly Hillbillies, Price is Right.
How long until sports leagues sign up? The slots seem to be no risk licensing opportunities. You can’t wager on the outcome of a game. The leagues and the player’s associations could make beaucoup bux. I know, the leagues will never go for it as it makes a direct tie to gambling.
Well, they won’t until broadcast rights fees shrink.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
From the Left Coast
Greetings from Palm Springs. It’s going to be close to 80 tomorrow and I have my in-laws to baby sit. In other words, there is a heaven and it’s not Iowa.
So, Muhsin Muhammad is a Chicago Bear and David Terrell is not. Cap implications aside (and that’s hard to do in today’s NFL), this is a fantabulous move. While David wasn’t exactly Sosa-esqe, he was a lousy player who was a big distraction. And he cost his team on the field. Good riddance.
Welcome, Mushin. A word or two of warning. Chicago grows quarterbacks like Fargo grows rap bands. Good luck finding someone to get you the ball.
David joins the long line of Bear first round draft busts since the end of the Ditka era. If you look at the list since Dave Wannstedt’s first year in Chicago, the Bears have made 12 picks in the first round and traded away another. Here they are:
Year Round Pick Player
2004 1 14 Tommie Harris DT
2003 1 14 Michael Haynes DE
1 22 Rex Grossman QB
2002 1 29 Marc Colombo T
2001 1 8 David Terrell WR
2000 1 9 Brian Urlacher LB
1999 1 12 Cade McNown QB
1998 1 5 Curtis Enis RB
1997 No Pick – Traded for Rick Mirer
1996 1 13 Walt Harris DB
1995 1 21 Rashaan Salaam RB
1994 1 11 John Thierry DE
1993 1 7 Curtis Conway WR
I count 1 really good pick, that being the guy the Bears didn’t want and buried out of position until an injury occurred – Brian Urlacher. Beyond that, there’s 1 decent pick (Harris), 3 marginals (Conway, Thierry, Salaam), 5 pure busts (Columbo, Terrell, McNown, Enis, Mirer), and 3 unknowns (Harris, Haynes, Grossman).
It’s for this reason that the Bears keep spending money on free agents like Adewale Ogunleye, Muhammad, and John Tait: They haven’t been able to draft well. Drafting well allows a team to keep a core of players together longer as draftees don’t affect the cap heavily for several years.
While this is a good move for 2005, I’m not sure it’s a great move for beyond. Then again, a good draft in 2005 would be a big help.
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