Sunday, July 31, 2005
On the Matt
So, the Cubs go out and pick up Matt Lawton. First, we still don't know who was traded in exchange. Rumors persist that it is Jody Gerut. If this pans out, the trade needs to be evaluated as 25 year old Jason DuBois for 33 year old free-agent-to-be Lawton.
Not great, not bad.
Lawton sure seems to be a Felix Pie stop gap. If the Cubs are convinced Pie is ready for 2006, Lawton isn't back. If Pie needs another year, then Lawton will be resigned.
But this move still stinks of lost opportunities. This is a trade that needed to be made in February. Instead of starting the year with a legit leadoff hitter, Jim Hendry has saddled his team with making up 5 games and leapfrogging 5 teams in less than 60 games.
Forgive me if my excitement is stiffled.
ESPN confirms that it is Gerut for Lawton.
Get Ready for the Grade
With under 1 hour to go, the Cubs seem ready to make no moves. The Alfonso Soriano deal still seems far fetched to me and the rumor of Dave Roberts for prospects is just too dumb for Jim Hendry.
I await to see the reaction from the fans. Most are gonna be spiting bile. A few are gonna move the goal posts and say that deals can still be made until August 31st.
That, my friends, is 35 weeks too late. This team was flawed from day 1 and Jim Hendry failed to address those issues. He still has a few minutes, be we will be able to judge him after today.
When you spend $100 million on payroll, you better produce results.
This better cost some people some jobs.
Paving the Way
The LA Times has this report which is the first media play in what is likely the start of Dusty Baker's exit from Chicago.
According to a Cubs' source:
"Dusty wants desperately to manage the Dodgers … and [supporters] would love to get a buzz going about Dusty in case the Dodgers were thinking of letting Tracy go at the end of the season.
"He would love the Dodgers to come calling and then hope the Cubs would let him go."
While it looks like Dusty will survive the weekend, it's just about certain he won't be back next year.
As the LA Times is a Trib owned paper, and the Trib owes Dusty $4 million in 2006, look for this story to get a lot of play tomorrow and on the radio. Well, at least on WGN.
Friday, July 29, 2005
Trades and Windbags
Generally, you can't link to a Jay Mariotti column without saying that he's a bloviating bladder of hot air. But, today, he's right on. His opinion on the Cubs and the booing is 100% correct. It's just...
Wasn't this yesterday's news? Why did he wait a day to comment? Could it be that he heard WSCR's Boers and Burnstein and their callers rip Dusty for a few hours yesterday and then Jay decided that he'd better chime in? With opinions that would agree with everything that he heard?
Would a windsock like Jay do that?
Then there's this rumored trade for Alfonso Soriano. Getting him for left field wouldn't be the worst thing, but it wouldn't help that much, either. Where does he bat in the order? Can't lead him and his .315 OBP off (his OBP has declined for the third straight year). Perhaps second, but that gets another low OBP guy infront of Lee and Ram. I suppose he could go 5th, after Ram and before Burnitz. But his speed would seem to be waisted.
I'd rather see a three way deal with A Sor going to the Mets and Cliff Floyd coming home.
But even that won't be enough. Bullpen help is "must need" as well.
For those of you who seem to think that if the Cubs just keep winning every series that they'll make the playoffs, think again. Let's say the Cubs win every three game series left on the schedule 2 games to 1, and split every 2 or 4 game series evenly.
Well, there are thirteen 3-game series left on the schedule. If they win the next three against Arizona, go 2-1 in each of those and .500 in the remaining 18 games (4 series of 4 games, 1 series of 2 games), that will put them at 18 games over .500. That equates to an even 90 wins.
That won't be enough wins to make the playoffs.
And, even if you think it is, are you foolish enough to think that this Cubs' team can win every road series? Phily, Mets, Houston, Colorado, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Milwaukee? Of course not. There will be some losing series.
That means, the only way to win is to start sweeping.
If you believe that a 5-2 homestand against Arizona and San Fran is "Mission Accomplished," you are a lost soul. 5-2 is holding steady. Progress is required. That means 6-1 or 7-0 at some point.
Not with this lineup. No way, no how.
This site tends to project forward rather than look back, but a few points in yesterday's game deserve a rewiew. While attending the game (the guest of one of our regular talkbackers here), Dusty Baker was out-managed by our host. And these were first guesses, not second.
Sixth inning: Jody Gerut enters the game as part of a double switch with Will Ohman replacing Matt "Little Big Red" Murton and Jerome Williams. Says the host: "Why double switch? The pitcher's spot is now eight at bats away. No way Ohman lasts that long. And now, your batter hitting .500 is out of the game!"
Result: Ohman gives up two runs in the 7th and is replaced before he ever came to bat.
Sixth inning: Gerut doubles. Jerry Hairston sacrifices Gerut to third. Both host and guest scream that this is stupid. The sac bunt doesn't avoid a double play and forces the rookie, Cedeno, to deliver. Additionally, Hairston could have hit to the right side and achieved the same result, but still retained the possibility of generating a base hit.
Result: Cedeno whiffs. Lee gets the 4 finger OBP enhancer. A Ram's loose jersey and an inside pitch earns a base. Barrett, reverting to his pre-Florida series performances, taps out to third.
Always fun to be smarter than a four million dollar per year tax cheat.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
It seems all the players were upset that the fans got on LaTroy Hawkins when he pitched in each of the last three games.
"It was a little classless," said Derrek Lee. "If you want to boo him when he comes in, fine. But chanting 'Hawkins [stinks]' for the whole inning is out of line. It's OK to boo someone, but chanting that on and on is overboard."
Dusty Baker and Ryan Dempster agreed.
Well, did you guys ever think that the fans getting on Hawkins may have unnerved him to the point of giving up baserunners in each game he was in? Or are you guys so protective of your little fraternity that criticism of a guy who almost single-handedly blew one season and part of another is now out of bounds? Not to mention Hawkins also ripped the fans first. You may recall that Hawkins once said to the San Francisco Chronicle that he loved Chicago, Baker and the Cubs players. But of the fans, he said, "Well, only got so much love to go around."
First Kent Mercker, then Luis Gonzalez, now this?
At least Ryan Dempster had this right:
"As a visiting player I could count on one hand how many times I heard the Cubbies get booed. Last year and this year, it seems like I can count on one hand every homestand how many times we get booed.
That's what happens when you come a couple outs from going to the World Series in '03."
LaTroy Hawkins was a big part of preventing a second shot at that World Series. He gets his ass booed. And it helped the Cubs win 2 games and tie up a third.
Little Big Red Man
The newspapers are all turning up the volume on how well Matt Murton has been playing. The Trib and Daily Herald all do mini profiles on Matt today.
This should put additional pressure on Dusty Baker to play the kid.
I'll be at the game today. My suggestion: When Murton finally gets his first home run, the fans throw packs of Big Red chewing gum at Matt. Kinda like the "O'Henry" bars thrown at Henry Rodriguez.
With Matt, all the packs need to be the small, 5-stick packs and not the 20 stick jumbos.
Don't Stop Believing
Barry Rozner's column holds this piece today:
That’s two really terrible games in a row for the White Sox, and that’s to be expected when you’re bored and have a huge lead in July.
And it really doesn’t matter how they play between now and October as long as they can stay healthy and get their game back together by the end of September, when they’ll want to pick up some steam heading into the postseason.
That sounds just like what you keep telling yourself when the wheels are starting to fall off.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
A Long Journey
Back in the spring of 1988, I was a junior living in Daum Residence Hall at the University of Iowa. There was a guy who lived there who I was friends with named Mike. We called him "Pugs" because he had a strong resemblance to The Adamms Family's "Pugsly."
He was a big Cubs fan who hated Greg Maddux. I told him to be patient and that you can't judge a rookie pitcher. That May, just before the end of the school year, Mike saw me missing free throws on the Daum basketball court and yelled at me, "Nice pitcher!"
Yeah, nice pitcher.
Tick... Tick... Tick...
When you see that the Cubs are now getting almost as far behind second place in their DIVISION as they are from the Wild Card lead, chasing the Wild Card becomes problematic. Chasing Houston is what's the issue now.
And with so many teams bunched around .500, there may not be a lot of trading partners.
I'm beginning to have doubts that Jim Hendry will pull off even one big trade, much less the two needed to resuscitate this team.
A win today does not erase yesterday's failure to capitalize on a certain opportunity.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
NSFW: R-Rated Language
This clip is from sometime in 1984 and is probably making its way around the Cubs Blog Army. Keep your volume low or watch it at home.
Clearly, Jim Frey isn't cut from the same cloth as Jim Riggleman when it comes to pitching inside.
Sitting on the Side
Check this list:
Sammy Sosa $16,000,000
Kerry Wood 9,500,000
Corey Patterson 2,800,000
Nomar Garciaparra 8,250,000
That's a lot of money being paid to people who don't contribute.
NY Sun: White Sox Suck
Check this article from the New York Sun (hat tip: Baseball Musings). In brief, the White Sox offense is putrid. Almost historically so for a team winning as many games as they are.
But their pitching is good enough to win the World Series.
So, Corey Patterson has fallen back on the "I was misquoted" angle that all idiot atheletes fall on when they say something idiotic.
What's fun about this story is that Dusty Baker calls Corey a liar.
Remember the story? Corey said that no one had tried to work with him to shorten his swing. Baker said that every coach from Don Baylor to Jeff Pentland to Dusty's entire staff has tried to get Corey to shorten his swing.
Baker explained Monday that Patterson, who is on a rehab assignment in Class AAA Iowa to alter his swing and approach to the ball, said that his comments were mischaracterized in the Sun-Times story. He left a voice mail for Baker telling him that. Baker has yet to speak with Patterson on the phone.
"He called and left a message and said that story wasn't accurate," Baker said. "He said there was no way that whatever he said could be construed as that. He knows we know that's not true.
So, what we have in Corey is a stubborn bonus baby who never learned to be a baseball player despite ongoing training attempts by the Cubs. Despite this, he was promoted up the chain without ever really justifying promotions. And, when he finally failed is a disastrous, public fashion, what does he do? Blames everyone but himself.
Most likely this is a gambit to force a trade. But, it could backfire. Corey may not even get a September call up if he is still in the organization if he keeps this crap up.
The fans booed LaTroy Hawkins last night. Isn't that wrong? With the Cubs trailing and Always Nervous LaTroy coming in to pitch, wouldn't that have signaled to the fans that a rally was about to start? I'd have cheered him coming in.
Now that Kerry Wood is a reliever, isn't the need to carry an extra reliever now gone? With Wood out of the rotation, shouldn't Prior, Zambrano, Maddux, Williams and Hill/Rusch all be able to go five innings? Can this team finally bring up an extra bat now that Kerry's arm is in a sling?
Can I see more of Ronny Cedeno? I've yet to see anything I don't like.
Monday, July 25, 2005
Just saw this posted by our friends at the Cub Reporter:
LHP Sean Marshall placed on DL on 07/24/04; Complaining of shoulder and bicep soreness, tests to be done
INF Mat Craig is day-to-day with a quad injury
OF - Felix Pie sprained ankle on 06/16/05; Placed on 7 day DL on 06/21/05; Diagnosed with bone bruise during rehab and is still not 100%; Still a week away from playing
LHP - Jon Connolly placed on DL on 07/16/05 with "recurring" shoulder injury; Will be out all season
INF - Jemel Spearman out sine 04/26/05 because of wrist injury; Had surgery at some point and it should cost him the season
P- Angel Guzman out with forearm stiffness and inflammation in pitching elbow; Will be out for the season
P – Rocky Cherry left game on 4/21/05 after 1/3 of an inning. Tommy John surgery performed on 05/05/05
Can't Jim Hendry's guys keep ANYONE healthy? They've lost *4* players from that squad to season ending injuries. Pie's sprained ankle was misdiagnosed. Marshall is pending diagnosis, but with this team's track record, I'm expecting tests to confirm Ebola.
Maybe this guy is still sneaking around...
Time to Move
Look at the schedule. The Cubs are at home playing the Giants as they trail in the Wild Card by 4 in the loss column. Where's Atlanta? Playing their next three against the Nationals. Where's Philadelphia? Playing their next three against the Astros.
I guarantee you this: Two of the four teams ahead of them will lose at least 2 games in the next three days.
If the Cubs are going to make up any ground, this is the week to do it. A sweep of the Giants and they go from 4 games back of the Wild Card to no worse than 2 games back.
If the Parrot is to be resuscitated, the next three days are huge.
Lotsa gabbing the AM on Jeromy Burnitz's bunt. Was it good strategy or not? Well, I don't really have a problem with Burnitz bunting as my expectations for him would be to ground into a double play leaving a runner on third with two outs and A Ram would have been walked intentionally, anyway. Regardless, taking the bat out of your #4 hitters hands is curious.
But that's not the biggest strategic error.
The REAL mistake in strategy is batting Burnitz BETWEEN Lee and A Ram! If there isn't a clearer signal for the need of another bat in this lineup, I don't know what is.
P.S. Was anyone else as disappointed in Barrett last night as I was? The way he's been walking, I thought he was going to force in a run for sure.
If you looked at what the Cubs schedule was coming out of the All Star Break, you’d probably be somewhat pleased with their record. You figured that they had to win at least 6 of the first eight and that one win in St. Louis was good enough. So, a 7-4 start was a good start – which is just what they did. The reality is that, at this point in the season, 8-3 was needed given the competition. And, when you look at the injuries racking St. Loser right now, 9-2 was realistic. This team is not off to as good a start as you would like to see.
The Tribune says that Kerry Wood has "chafed at the idea of being used out of the bullpen." Imagine the chafing if he weren’t making the bux his is now and had to wear Toughskins.
So, Chicago Bears fans have their hopes up this year because Rex Grossman is ready to be the QB? Color me skeptical when someone tells me the season rests on the arm of an oft-injured QB who has 6 career starts in his 2 years in the league.
What's going on in the NFL that every single first round draft pick is unsigned? There must be something in the collective bargaining agreement that the agents are trying to negotiate around.
Lance Armstrong is not the most dominating individual in any sport in history. While what Lance has done is truly sensational, the title of most dominant individual in sports history is an honor that goes to Dan Gable. He was undefeated in 64 prep matches, and was 118-1 at Iowa State. His only defeat came in the NCAA finals his senior year. He won titles at the 1971 Pan American Games, the 1972 Tbilisi Tournament and the 1971 World Championships. He won six Midlands Open championships, a gold medal at the 1972 Summer Olympics without surrendering a point to any of his opponents.
After mopping up on the mat, Gable went on to coach the Iowa Hawkeyes wrestling to a NCAA record 9 consecutive national titles.
Lance Armstrong and 7 Tour de France wins in a row? Phsaw!
Sunday, July 24, 2005
If You Still Have Illusions
No chance Kerry Wood ever fulfills his promise in a Cub uniform. He's gone after the 2006 season when his contract expires. If you don't believe that, you will after reading
Pitcher Kerry Wood, sidelined with a strained right shoulder, may need surgery this offseason to correct the problem, Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker said Sunday.
I hope he gets healthy. And becomes someone else's problem.
Yes, Jeromy Burnitz is having a decent season. Yes, he's an above average defender and seems to be smart on the basepaths (most of the time). And he seems to "get it" when it comes to going about the job of playing major league ball.
But this guy has just too many brain cramps to make me want to see him for the rest of the year. Take tonight. Jeff Suppan is a 6 inning pitcher. It's 114 degrees on the field. So, what does Jeromy do to help his team?
In the first, with runners on, Jeromy swings at pitch #2. In the third, he grounds out on pitch #4 -- not too bad. Then, in the sixth, the inning where Suppan generally loses it, Burnitz leads off with a first pitch ground out.
For a guy that seems to know the game, he gets rampant bouts of amnesia. Not a guy to win with.
Friday, July 22, 2005
Picture of the Day
Shamelessly stolen from Desipio.com.
Buying and Crashing
Despite the last two days of collapsing, the Cubs should still be a buyer. Bruce Miles does yeoman's work in today's Daily Herald and suggests that Austin Kearns should be the guy. Oh, and don't miss the last line of the article.
Call me unconvinced about Kearns. His three hits yesterday had more to do with the Cubs' bullpen than it did Kearns' ability. In case you misunderstand, please remember that Jeff Blauser was considered a good signing because he hit well in Wrigley.
Regardless, the Cubs need to buy for 2006. They need to prevent the 2005 version of Scott Rolen haunting them for the next three years in Houston or St. Louis. If that means that a losing team sends away prospects for Billy Wagner, Austin Kearns and Juan Pierre, so be it.
And speaking of crashing, if the Cubs get swept by the Cardinals, look for me to win my second bet with Al.
Speaking of Al
I just wanted to welcome him to the "Reality Based Community."
Thursday, July 21, 2005
In case you are wondering, I opened my chute. Al's down there somewhere...
Set VCRs and Radios to "Record"
Barry Rozner has this progamming note in his column today:
WGN Radio’s Dave Eanet will host "First Step to the Hall: The Sandberg Game," from 7-10 p.m. on Aug. 1, the day after Ryne Sandberg’s Hall of Fame induction.
If you miss that era of broadcasting (June 23, 1984), you’ll get three hours of Harry Caray, Milo Hamilton, Lou Boudreau and Vince Lloyd, along with comments from Sandberg and teammates, and pregame and postgame cuts from that day.
The day before the ceremony (Aug. 30), Comcast SportsNet will show the entire game at 6:30 p.m.
Anyone out there able to record the WGN Radio broadcast and convert it into an MP3?
Two guys, call them Al and Chuck, go sky diving. They jump out of the airplane at 5,000 feet.
"Can we open the chutes now?" screams Chuck.
"Patience," says Al. "We have plenty of time left."
They free fall down to 500 feet.
"How about NOW?" screams Chuck.
"Patience," says Al. "We still have plenty of time left."
At 50 feet, Chuck looks nervously at his friend. "Come on! NOW?" screams Chuck.
"Patience," says Al. "We still have plenty of time left."
When they get down to 5 feet, Chuck pleeds, "SHOULD WE PULL OUR RIP CORDS NOW?!?"
"No need to," says Al. "We can jump from here."
Lost in Translation
Greg Couch writes his second good piece in the last few days.
If this page seemed to have a Corey Patterson fetish, it was only because this page never saw the results match the hype. Once he was sent away, the "Korey" topic was also sent away.
But this article from Couch contains this section which is fascinating.
Dave Keller, the Cubs' minor-league hitting coach, was in Des Moines for a few days to work with Patterson. The Des Moines Register quoted Keller at length Tuesday, saying Patterson's feet were too close together in the batter's box, which forced him to lose balance. "We're trying to get him a little bit wider base," Keller said.
I asked Patterson if he has been told his feet are too close together.
Has he been told to widen his base, spread his feet?
"Not really," he said.
I'm unclear if this is an indictment of Corey Patterson or the Jim Hendry regime. Is Corey profusely stubborn or do Jim Hendry's instructors lack the ability to teach young players?
Before you answer, "Corey's stubborn, dumbass!" ask yourself this: How many position players have the Cubs developed the last 5 years? The last 10? The last 20?
This is an indictment of both of them.
Now What To Do
So, Mr. Reliable, Kerry Wood, lasted two starts before the balsa in his shoulder started to act up again.
For those of you not here yet, let's get you straight on a couple of facts:
1) The Kerry Wood of May 1998 is gone and is not coming back. Never. No way. No how.
2) Wood's fall of 2003 was a fluke. He'd not pitched like that since before his surgery in 1999 or any time since the end of 2003. What do we know about small sample sizes?
3) Five years after a Tommy John surgery is usually the time that an arm starts to give out again. Year five ended in 2004.
4) He's 28 with an 8 figure per year contract that expires after the 2006 season.
So, what does this all mean? Simple. It's time to plan for the replacement of Kerry Wood. Can that be done and still salvage the 2005 season? Doubtful, but possible.
It sure looks like Baltimore can't close the deal for A.J. Burnett as they cannot agree on how much money to absorb from Florida related to Mike Lowell. With Burnett a free agent at the end of the year, Florida is looking to get anything for him. The Cubs should step in and take Burnett.
And Juan Pierre.
Burnett is at least capable of getting through the rest of this season. That gives the Cubs some consistency in the rotation. Pierre fills a hole in center and at leadoff.
And it gives the Cubs a fighting chance to make the playoffs this year. 'Cause a team that goes 5-2 against the Pirates and Cinci while being 5 games back with 70 games left isn't good enough to make it.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
He Did Wear A Red Shirt
James Doohan 1920-2005
From his obituary. I knew about his finger. I didn't know this in detail:
He was among the Canadian forces that landed on Juno Beach on D-Day. "The sea was rough," he recalled. "We were more afraid of drowning than the Germans."
The Canadians crossed a minefield laid for tanks; the soldiers weren't heavy enough to detonate the bombs. At 11:30 that night, he was machine-gunned, taking six hits: one that took off his middle right finger (he managed to hide the missing finger on the screen), four in his leg and one in the chest. Fortunately the chest bullet was stopped by his silver cigarette case.
From Robert Feder's column today:
Three of the market's highest paid and highest profile personalities would no doubt gladly pay to have every copy of the spring ratings book burned. The numbers this time just didn't add up for Mancow Muller, morning host on Emmis Communications' alternative rock WKQX; Mike North, morning host on Infinity's sports/talk WSCR, and Roe Conn, afternoon host on ABC's news/talk WLS.
The Score's rival, ABC-owned ESPN flagship WMVP, retook the sports/talk lead thanks in part to White Sox baseball broadcasts.
Roe Conn needs to get Garry back, and fast.
Is Mancow still alive?
And, WSCR's morning man needs to start calling celery salt suppliers.
Anyone But Cinci
Have you seen this team's offense the last two games? Pathetic.
"WHAT?!?!" you scream. Seven runs last night, nine before that, what the hell's wrong with the offense.
What's wrong is the sickening number of runners left on third base with less than two outs.
Inning The First. Hairston stranded on third by Derrek Lee (who gets a pass considering the rest of his season) and Jeromy Burnitz (who I just don't trust).
Inning The Second. Aramis Ramirez, after a leadoff double, sees Neifi Perez retired on two pitches. After a Blanco walk, Prior goes down on a foul tip.
Inning The First. Two runs in, one out. Ramirez walks and is doubled to third by Michael Barrett. Burnitz pops out on pitch #1. Neifi strikes out on four pitches.
These are just a few examples. They get ignored because the Cubs win both games. Here's a little tip. The Cardinals won't let you get away with dumb play like that. Neither will any of the playoff caliber teams.
If the Cubs were to play like this against anyone but Cinci, they'd lose both these games.
The only good thing is that Dusty seems to know this. "We should have scored a lot more runs," said Baker. "We had four or five situations where we just wanted a sacrifice fly."
Dusty also seems to know what has become clear to this writer: Jerry Hairston is not a long term solution at leadoff. Fred Mitchell's Cubs Notes includes this nugget:
Baker offered a tepid endorsement of new leadoff hitter Jerry Hairston, who has replaced the demoted Corey Patterson in that role.
"[Hairston] is doing pretty good. We still want him to stay out of [hitting the ball in] the air," Baker said. "We want him to be more aggressive running on the bases too. But he's getting better."
Combine this with Jim Hendry's WSCR interview yesterday where he singled out Juan Pierre as the prototypical leadoff man every team would like to have, and it becomes obvious that the Cubs are going to try to obtain a leadoff hitter.
Great. What have you been waiting for? You've needed one since the day Kenny Lofton signed with the Yankees. Something makes me think there are times when Jim Hendry might fail to see something obvious coming. Like winter.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
No Kybosh, Just A Quell
All the papers throw water on the Juan Pierre talk, but they do make clear that they don't view Jerry Hairston as a long term option. Jim Hendry is obviously shopping for another center fielder as Corey isn't coming back and Felix Pie is going to need at least a few weeks to get his swing back after missing a month with a sprained ankle.
The other rumor being toned down is on Austin Kearns. They suggest that Rich Hill gets it done for the Reds. I'm not sure I pay that much for a guy who's numbers declined each year he was in the majors and was demoted by the big club.
What's positive is that deals are being discussed, and not for the Preston Wilsons of the world.
Well, when your team is still four games under their high water mark, and that high mark was still a very low tide, you better be looking for players better than Preston Wilson.
Eye On Pie
He's still hurt, but Phil Rogers on ESPN.com profiles Felix Pie. He doesn't talk about Pie's high strikeout numbers, but he does compare him favorably to Corey Patterson in one way - Pie wants to win while Corey wanted to hit third.
West Tenn manager Bobby Dickerson said. "He loves to win. That's the biggest thing I've seen. He really enjoys winning ball games, and he always wins. Every team he's been on has made the playoffs, and three won championships."
Dickerson called Pie an "unselfish, talented player." Patterson is gifted with all the talent in the world but has never accepted being one of the guys.
When Patterson struggled in the leadoff spot -- his on-base percentage was .270 when he was demoted -- he talked about wanting to be a No. 3 hitter. How about just being happy to be written anywhere onto a lineup card in the major leagues? Patterson made big catches and got some big hits, but day after day, week after week came up empty, making it difficult for Dusty Baker to keep going to him.
Patterson could never quite fulfill the hype that followed his being selected with the third pick overall in the 1998 draft, then tearing up the Midwest League in his first season as a pro. The beauty of his tenure could turn out to be that he allowed multitalented Pie to develop quietly in the Cubs' farm system.
Dickerson says Pie is a team leader.
"Everybody who plays the game wants to win, but he thrives on it," Dickerson said. "A lot of players go 0-for-4, their team wins and there's not really any jubilation. He's the type of guy that he goes 0-for-4, the team wins and he's happy. I remember one time this year we had won six in a row. He's walking off the field going, 'My team! My team! My team is great!' He just enjoys being part of something special, and it [becomes contagious] around him."
I dunno if Pie will make it. But, it already seems easier to cheer this kid on.
OK, who kidnapped Michael Barrett? And, will whomever did please keep him? The Beta Unit that replaced him is much better.
For his career, Michael has walked once every 13.7 plate appearences. Since July 8th, the start of the Florida series, Barrett has accumulated 9 walks in only 29 plate appearences. His OBP in the last 8 games is a sick .621!
This cannot be a small sample size thing, can it? Can it be a guy who maybe picked Zambrano's laptop and found Baseball Prospectus?
Whatever it is, keep it going.
Monday, July 18, 2005
DHuBois for Gerut
First trade is in, of what hopes to be many. Jason DuBois goes to the American League for Jody Gerut. ESPN has all the info here.
One only hopes that this is the end of the 12 mane pitching staff and not the end of Matt "Hit 4" Murton. Or, if they keep the 12 man staff, let's hope for the end of Jose Macias and not Murton.
Never Too Early
Only 6 more weeks until the 2005 Hawkeyes take the field at Kinnick. Last year's 10-2 team keeps asking themselves the same thing: How'd we win 10 with a backup's backup's backup at halfback? Here's the fall matchups.
2005 Football Schedule
9/3 Ball State
9/10 at Iowa State
9/17 Northern Iowa
9/24 at Ohio State
10/8 at Purdue
11/5 at Northwestern
11/12 at Wisconsin
I see 8-3 at worst. If they get past Ohio State at 4-0, they could run the table. Camp Randall will be their biggest late season test.
January 4, 2006 could be a rematch of the Orange Bowl from a few years back. Iowa-USC, right place this time. With the ADT National Championship Trophy on the line.
How pathetic is that name? Does it come with a free home alarm?
Couch is Spot On
In what is probably the best column of his career, Greg Couch lays out the theory espoused here ad infinitum. Key graph:
The Marlins are in the same spot as the Cubs, only without fans or revenue. And they supposedly are considering selling Juan Pierre, who would be a dream leadoff hitter for the Cubs. Let's say the Cubs dump prospects for him. They go on an instant run for the wild card, right?
But if they don't make it after trading for Pierre, then what have they lost? A bunch of prospects? And they'd have Pierre for next year, after he turns 28.
The last batch of surefire position-playing prospects for the Cubs was Hee Seop Choi, now a mediocre first baseman for the Dodgers; Corey Patterson, now in Des Moines; and Bobby Hill, now a utility player for the Pirates. Occasionally, a former Cubs prospect develops for another team, but that's worth the risk.
Absolutely. The Cubs must be buyers. Even if they don't win this year, they cannot let more guys slip right past them to other teams. Where is this team today in terms of titles if they trade for Scott Rolen in 2002? Sign Jim Thome in 2003? Sign Miguel Tejada in 2004? Trade for Carlos Beltran in 2004?
Juan Pierre is back on the Wish List. Pie for Pierre is OK with me. And get Wagner, too.
Things That Drive You Nuts
"Leading off is about getting on base," Baker said. "You want your on-base percentage at about .350 or better, and you hope he has speed and can get some stolen bases and put pressure on the opposing pitcher. - Dusty Baker in today's SunTimes.
What the hell were we doing watching Neifi Perez and Corey "the Des Moines Disaster" Patterson doing in that spot?
Saturday, July 16, 2005
Think It's All Good? Think Again
Just when you think it's safe to go back in the water, the Cubs start pulling the "cheap" crap again.
In today's Tribune, Dave Van Dyck gets off the ottoman to tell us that the Cubs are likely buyers, but they won't be buying the best.
Among late-inning relievers possibly on the market are Roberto Hernandez of the Mets, Jeremy Affeldt and Mike McDougal of Kansas City, Danys Baez of Tampa Bay, David Weathers of Cincinnati, Billy Wagner of Philadelphia and Eddie Guardado of Seattle. Wagner and Guardado are probably out of the Cubs' price range.
Now, this could simply be the Cubs trying to keep the market lower than were they to indicate their interest.
More likely it's the Cubs, who are dropping $40 million in contracts in 11 weeks, preping the fans for a bargain basement acquisition.
Well, Mr. Denis FitzSimons, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Tribune Company, might want to be aware that this team has already spent in excess of $100 million in payroll alone on the 2005 Cubs. If you allow the team to spend only an additional $3 million instead of $5 million, you’re going to waste the WHOLE THING.
Look up "penny wise, pound foolish" and you’ll see the Cubs marquee.
Friday, July 15, 2005
Hello I Must Be Going
Ben Grieve activated today. Adam Greenberg to be either DL'd or returned to West Tenn.
Adam's been in a fog since getting conked. Hopefully, we'll see him again in September.
Greenberg's been DL'd. Good. Keep him with the big club on the bigger salary.
Happy Birthday to Ivy Chat. I must be insane to be doing this.
It sounds like WSCR is going to move Boers and Burnstein to the 2-6 PM slot as soon as September. They have the best show on the station and the current 2-6 slot is a waste of time. While I like Brian Hanley in small doses, Mike Mulligan comes off as a pre-pubescent cheerleader and Doug Buffone needs a drool towel.
What remains unsaid is who would fill in the vacated 10 to 2 slot? It could be Mike Murphy as he's just has his contract extended and, with the White Sox joining the station next year, Murph will be preempted a lot.
But that also seems unlikely as Murph's show tends to go more toward whacky angles and conspiracy theories. There's already plenty of that on AM radio middays of the non-sports variety.
I'd guess that WSCR goes in a new direction. Some new hires.
If I can suggest some names, go get Bruce Wolf and Garry Meier.
ESPN Radio's national morning show picked up on what must be this column from Carol Slezak. Contacting Mark Cuban via e-mail, she got him to comment on the possibility of one day owning the Cubs. Why would she ask him that? Well, he's in town to sing the Seventh Inning Stretch at Wrigley.
Is there any evidence beyond this that the Cubs are for sale?
Now, I'd love to see the Trib sell the team to someone with very deep pockets who has a tremendous ego. The Trib has the deep pockets, but they lack the Ted Turner type who is willing to spend to massage his ego at all costs. Is Cuban that guy? Double yes with cheese. But before they sell to Mark Cuban, I'd like to see them sell to someone from Chicago. Someone who understands this city and its people.
"The Cubbies are such an institution, if they became available (to buy), it would certainly be exciting to consider," says Cuban. This guy is from Pennsylvania who grew up a Pirates fan and now resides in Texas. He doesn't get the Cubs and their fans. He's interested because owning the Cubs would be cool.
No thanks. Stay in the NBA where no one pays attention, please.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
I linked to this last year, but thought everyone might like a refresher now that Adam Greenberg is on the Cubs' major league roster.
One thing's for sure. He needs a better photographer.
Well, this planet has three suns, but it's sure close.
Must Happen Events
Pessimism runs wild at Ivy Chat. But you want a positive outlook? OK. Here are five things the Cubs must do to get back in the race and make that Parrot reanimated:
1) Home wins – The Cubs are 21-21 at home. That won't cut it. This team cannot afford to lose any more series at Wrigley. With only 39 games left in the Confines, anything less than 27 home wins will be fatal.
2) Keep it even on the road - The Cubs are one under away from home. That's fine so long as they don't start to slip much under that. With trips remaining to Phily, Shea, Pac Bell, St. Loser (2) and the Juice Box (2), anything much under 18 wins will also be fatal.
3) Murder da' Bums - Ten games against Cinci, 9 against Pittsburgh, 3 against Colorado and 3 against Milwaukee remain. I'd say that a team that thinks playoffs should knock off about 17 wins here.
4) Add several players - While Nomar Garciaparra would be a bonus, Jim Hendry needs to make multiple big moves. An outfield upgrade is needed to bat in the middle of the order and a bullpen piece is needed to take some pressure off of Ryan Dempster. This page has not hidden its desire for Billy Wagner. Moving Dempster to setup and having the lefty-righty option of Dempster with Wagner is just dreamy.
5) Play defense in trading - Not only do the Cubs need to add players, they need to prevent other teams from acquiring players. Where are the Cubs in 2003 if they get Ugueth Urbina? I don't know, but he's not helping Florida. Same goes with 2004 and the Carlos Beltran/Houston fiasco.
I find it hard to imagine the Cubs doing ANY of these 5. Prove me wrong, guys. Sweeping Pitt would be a good start. But, knowing this team, 2-2 is the probable outcome.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Of all the responses over at The Cub Reporter, this is the only one that made me want to stick a branding iron in my eye sockets:
Q: Speaking of the management, is Dusty helping or hindering this team? Is he doing his job? What kind of future does he have with the organization, and what kind of future would he have if you were pulling the strings?
A: I'm a Dusty Baker fan and always have been. Remember that the Cubs won in 2003 in part despite his wacky lineups and bullpen choices.
Prediction: the Cubs go on a tear starting the 2nd half, and Baker is given a two-year contract extension.
Good old, Al. What is he smoking? He admits Dusty was negligent in 2003 and that's a reason to keep him? Because the negligence didn't hurt?
But, hey. Maybe I'm the dope. Maybe Dusty deserves to stay. Well, I've summarized what the other TCR posters said to answer the question:
Rob – Gone "long term".
Brent – Out at end of contract
John – Hendry won’t fire him, "yet." Readers don't know how long "yet" is.
Ruz – Dusty needs to go, but no comment on when to expect that.
Derek – Out at end of contract
Joe – Out at end of 2005 season
Alex – Finishes contract. Possible extension to 2012 if 92 wins achieved in 2006.
Scott – "Needs to go." No opinion on if he actually will go.
Whipple – Gone if it was Whipple’s choice. No opinion on if he actually will go.
Mitterwald – Let him finish contract and decide then.
Phil – Wants Dusty gone and new manager for 2006. No opinion on if he actually will go.
Geiser – Fired in October
10Man – Wants Dusty gone now. No opinion on if he actually will go.
Me? I said Baker would be gone by 8/1/05.
So, only one person suggests extension. And I think he was joking.
Come on, Al. You're too smart for this.
Speaking of Harry Potter
Emma Watson aka Hermione Granger aka Sloth's next crush.
Put Tax Day 2008 on your calandar, Rob, and she's all yours to take to Culver's in Manitowoc.
Back to Hogwarts
Yeah, I've read the Harry Potter books. I got suckered in about 4 years ago when the Wife bought the first book to save for the Five Year Old (like they weren't going to have copies in print when he could, you know, read).
The first book (Sorcerer's Stone) was a fast read, very creative, and actually had a good mystery to it. The next two books were already available in paperback, so I plunked down my $5 per book and picked up Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban. By the time I finished book three, I was hooked. Once I saw the long range planning that Ms. Rowling put in her books (Sirius Black was mentioned on like, what? Page 1 of Book 1 and he was held back as a character until Book 3?), I looked forward to the next installment.
Then came Goblet of Fire. How underwhelming was that? Lots of fluff to fill pages. Plot holes everywhere. A storyline that had no bearing on the outcome (The whole reason he's in the tournament is so he can grab a cup?). The book was redeemed in the last 75 pages. It ended strong and I figured Rowling would take her time and churn out a winner for Book 5.
Order of the Phoenix? Sucked. Korey-level sucked. More meandering story telling. A plot that would have made the modern George Lucas proud. A death without meaning. A techno-gobbleddy gook ending that would make a Star Trek fan say, "Huh?"
And, most of all, no mystery. I was looking forward to trying to figure out what was going on. Shame on me. There WAS nothing going on.
So, now, Book 6, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince", is due this weekend. I'm going to have to read it. Why? I have to know how the story ends. I did the same with Rendevous with Rama. I read the follow on novels. They were OK, then lousy, then putrid. But I had to finish them.
I hope Rowling has done better work this time. I don't want to be chewing my tongue off while I read more about Harry's pounding heart for the 537th time.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Mid Year Roudtable
My contribution to the Cub Reporter's queries.
* Before the season started, it was probably Dusty Baker that most divided opinion among the Cubs faithful, but Corey Patterson has been staking claim to that dubious honor of late. Now that he's in Iowa, the question is this: Can This Career Be Saved? And, if so, should it be in a Cubs uniform, and I-Cubs uniform, or just any other uniform as long as he's not our problem anymore?
Given my public statements on this player, my answer will not exactly be a surprise. A reclamation project is doubtful. This is a guy who had terrible stats at every level above low A. His OBP and OPS declined each time he moved up a league. If past performance projects future performance, then he’s toast. He’s well over 3,000 professional at bats.
If his career can be resuscitated, which I doubt, it should be at Iowa or in another uniform.
* On a more positive note, how about that Derrek Lee? He's on pace for probably the best offensive season in the history of this franchise. Give us your best guess on what his end-of-season numbers will be, and how close he'll come to capturing the made-up-of-outdated-stats-but-still-pretty-cool Triple Crown.
He'll end up at about .345 with 47 homers and 120 RBI. He'll be in the top 3 in each category, but not take a league title in any of the categories. His best shot is at the batting title.
* Ronny Cedeno, Matt Murton, and Adam Greenberg have all been called up recently, and Felix Pie might have made the jump if he hadn't been injured. Is a youth movement the right thing for the Cubs to do right now?
Absolutely. There is a theory that the Cubs will never go for a full-blown youth movement as the fans won’t buy 3 million tickets to watch such a season. I don’t believe that, but it’s possible McPhail et al do (aside: Cubs fans are smart enough to pay and cheer for good, young talent – if they’ll pay for Macias, Perez, Patterson and Remlinger, they’ll pay for anything). As this season is all but over, but the tickets are already sold, why not take the final 75 games to see what you have in Cedeno, Murton, Greenberg, Pie, Nolasco, Hill and so forth? Given that the Cubs will free about $40 million in salary after this season, what better way is there to see what you need to spend free agent dollars on versus filling positions in house?
Play the kids.
At the same time, don’t pass up on acquisitions that could help this year, but would definitely help in future years. That means a Billy Wagner should be acquired if, for no other reason, to prevent St. Louis from getting him and locking him up against the Cubs for the next 4 years.
* Let's talk starting pitching. Wood and Prior have been hurt, Maddux's skills seem to be slipping, and Zambrano has been inconsistent. Are our Four Aces overrated, or is this just more typical Cubs fan panic?
Kerry Wood is not overrated. He was at one point, but now it seems to be conventional wisdom that Kerry is a 6 inning, 13+ win guy. That said, he’s clearly not an ace. Zambrano and Prior have pitched, at times, brilliantly. Both seem to be suffering from career-transition crisis: They are no longer young, inexperienced players, but they aren’t veterans yet. They need to start relying more on guile and smarts and less on talent. They could learn something from that guy wearing #31 down the bench.
Maddux is no longer a dominant ace. I, for one, wouldn't mind if his 2006 salary doesn't vest. That said, he's still the third best starter on the team in terms of reliability.
This team has two aces, a crafty vet, and a no-longer-youthful, oft injured enigma.
* Except for Ryan Dempster, the bullpen has been a big disappointment. Who's fault is that -- the pitchers' (for lack of talent), Dusty's (for incorrect usage), or Hendry's (for poor construction)?
A combination. Dusty should have had Glendon Rusch in the rotation and Dempster in the pen from Opening Day. But, even with that error, who is to blame for the third consecutive year for having unreliable relief talent? That’s only Jim Hendry. What makes this error worse is that, like leadoff, bullpen has been a glaring weakness for two years. That Hendry has failed to address it (sans one LaTroy Hawkins signing) borders on negligent.
* Speaking of the management, is Dusty helping or hindering this team? Is he doing his job? What kind of future does he have with the organization, and what kind of future would he have if you were pulling the strings?
I was a supporter of Dusty getting the job while Don Baylor was still here. I was wrong. While he did bring in a good, fresh attitude (“Why not us?”), he’s not a good fit for a team that doesn’t rely on juiced balls or juiced players. If he has to think and strategize, he’s close to worthless. Comments from Larry Rothchild about finally changing Wood’s mechanics don’t give me much confidence, either.
Then, you realize that the reason Corey Patterson was sent down to Iowa was that Dusty refused to bench him. Jim Hendry had to make roster changes to force Dusty’s hand (what have you been waiting for, Jim?). That means the GM and manager are not on the same page.
Given all that, with one year left on Dusty’s contract, I see no way Hendry gives Dusty an extension. That means Dusty is gone at the end of the year or sooner. I heard via a Chicago media insider that Dusty was gone if the losing streak reached 9. He’s a 3 or 4 game losing streak away from losing his job.
Fearless prediction: Dusty Baker is no longer in Cubbie blue by August 1.
* Jim Hendry has been pretty quiet so far this year, making just the Jerome Williams trade (let's pretend Enrique Wilson never happened). Was the Williams move a good one? And, with the benefit of a half-season of hindsight, how would you rate his off-season moves?
His offseason moves were atrocious. And that’s not hindsight, that’s foresight. The “Sammy took all his focus” is an excuse. How many hours does it take to make three phone calls a day? OK, four if you include the one to the union that said, “Have you approved the waiver of the vesting option?” This team has needed a bullpen upgrade since last year and a leadoff hitter since Kenny Lofton signed with the Yankees. Not getting those players has cost this team a season and a half.
Hendry seems to hate making big, splashy moves. Well, that’s why the Cubs didn’t/haven’t traded Angel Guzman, Bobby Brownlie, Andy Sisco, Corey Patterson, Jason DuBois, David Kelton and now will get little to no value for any of them. In the mean time, St. Louis gave up talent for Mulder. Houston did so for Beltran last year. Both beat up on the Cubs. Jim Hendry needs to learn that stockpiling prospects doesn’t help unless you use them, either on the field or in trade. Look at the Derrek Lee trade. Great move. Where’s the next one just like it?
* Okay, let's cut to the chase. With the Cubs four games under .500 as of this writing, 13 1/2 games out of the division, 8 out of the wildcard, and losers of 8 in a row, is the season over, or can this team still make the playoffs if the right moves are made?
If: Murton can play, Felix Pie pans out or a leadoff hitter is acquired (Juan Pierre), an RBI outfielder can be obtained, a big time closer is added (allowing Dempster to go setup or be righty/lefty with say, Billy Wagner), Cedeno pans out / Nomar returns, and there are no more injuries...
...the Cubs will just miss the playoffs.
* The trading deadline is fast approaching. If you're the GM of this team, are you a buyer or a seller? What are you buying and/or selling? Who's on the table, who are the targets, and how does it all shake out? Name me those names!
Players to sell:
And Kerry Wood
Players to buy:
* Finally, every baseball season has its moments. When we look back at the first half of 2005 in years to come, which moments, plays, games, or performances will be remembered as the most defining/enjoyable/surprising/heartbreaking etc.?
LaTroy conking a throw off of Jose Offerman
Any Corey Patterson swing-and-a-miss, watching him look behind him to see where the catcher caught the ball to see if he guess right and the pitch was, indeed, a strike.
It's Not Camelot, But...
My "contribution" to the Cub Reporter Blogger Round table is up. I'll cross post my comments here a little later so readers can bash me singularly for my dumb ideas, poorly constructed thoughts, and overall bad grammar.
Thanks to Ruz, Brent, George, John, Rob for the forum.
Because I don't skim the Daily Herald over the weekend, I missed this huge article from Bruce Miles (hat tip: Fire Dusty Baker.com).
This backs up what I heard via a well-known Chicago sportscaster -- that Dusty is on life support. I heard that, had Dusty and the Cubs lost game 1 in Miami, Hendry was all set to find a new manager. By no means do I think that winning three straight earns Dusty anything more than a short lifeline.
With the arrival of Matt Murton, Adam Greenberg and the impending arrival of Felix Pie, many of you, like me, worry if a Dead Manager Walding Dusty will play these kids. Miles touches that subject:
To replace Patterson and Dubois, Hendry took the bold step of bringing up a pair of kids from Class AA ball: outfielders Matt Murton and Adam Greenberg.
It will be interesting to see how much playing time this pair gets under Baker, who only grudgingly gives regular playing time to young players.
The fate of the Hendry-Baker relationship could turn on this issue.
Don't believe what Miles is saying? Check this quote from Hendry the night Patterson was sent down:
"Dusty will write the lineup," Hendry said. "But we're in a situation where hopefully they [Murton and Greenberg] will give us a spark."
If that's not a message from Hendry to Dusty on what to do, I don't know what is. When the Cubs return on Thursday, the most exciting thing about the Cubs may simply be the lineup.
Monday, July 11, 2005
Check this passage from a Trib article on how Adam Greenberg recovered from his beaning.
Kerry Wood and Mark Prior stayed in the trainer's room after the game to help Greenberg get through the initial stages of the injury, and Wood offered to stay in Greenberg's room Saturday night to keep tabs on him.
It was a gesture that clearly touched the 24-year-old rookie.
"One of the trainers asked who would stay in my room, and [Wood] said, 'I'll stay, I'll stay,'" Greenberg said.
It sounds like the medical staff wre afraid of a concussion and needed someone to keep waking Greenberg up. Kudos to a couple of millionaire athletes who could have ignored a brand new rookie.
I may get on Kerry Wood, the pitcher, but you'll never see me get on Kerry Wood the person.
Cubs 2005 season to date: In 3,227 plate appearences, the Cubs have struck out 524 times (a rate of 16.2% of the time) and walked 226 times (a rate of 7.0%).
In the just concluded series, in 127 plate appearances, the Cubs struck out 22 times (a rate of 17.3% of the time) and walked 17 times (a rate of 13.4%).
Season to date, their strikeout to walk ratio is 2.32. For the Marlins series, it was 1.29.
This leads to one question. Who are these guys? Corey CAN'T have had THAT much of an effect on the ratios.
P.S. Brian: I guess our bet about Corey getting to 170 Ks is off. I don't see any way he gets to 625 at bats. He was on a 160+ pace, but that was accelerating. It would have been very close.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
May 28, 2005: LaTroy Hawkins plays his last game in a Cubs' uniform.
Cubs proceed to win 5 in a row, and 7 out of their next 8.
July 7, 2005: Corey Patterson plays his last game in a Cubs' uniform.
Cubs proceed to win 3 in a row.
Coincidence? I think not. This team was happy to be rid of LaTroy. Jerry Hairston told WSCR yesterday that the team had a players only meeting after Corey and Jason DuBois were optioned to Iowa.
You think they were just clearing the air?
They were telling each other that now it was time to get serious. There would be no more excuses. Upper management had just eliminated a big place to point their collective finger.
And, speaking of a collective finger, ain't it interesting that Dusty et al weren't allowed to be in the meeting?
While the parrot stays until this team gets to at least 7 games over .500 (a new high water mark), there is a chance. The first 8 games after the break are Pitt and Cinci. Take all 8 and I'm a believer again.
Until then, believers are just dumb.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Neifi Perez. Leadoff double in the 7th. What does Dusty do? Pinch hit Todd Hollandsworth for Matt Murton, but no pinch hitter for Kerry Wood.
After consecutive strikeouts by Holly and Wood, Dusty's ass is saved by Jerry Hairston, a guy Dusty doesn't like and doesn't want to have in the game.
Friday, July 08, 2005
I haven't had much to say on the terrorist attacks in London, yesterday. But I just came across this:
"My first thought when I heard - just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, 'Hmmm, time to buy.'" - Fox News's Brit Hume, 7/7/05
This man should be removed from a microphone immediately. Profit speculation while 50 people are dead and hundreds hurt? Is there anything lower?
Please remember that sports are a diversion. Sports is entertainment. What happened in London is what's important. My heart goes out to everyone affected by the actions of a few diseased animals who don't deserve to be called human beings.
Bruce Miles does an excellent job of calling out Dusty Baker's approach in today's Daily Herald. While the rest of the article looks a little familiar, that the MSM is now starting to publicly ridicule Dusty is only good for us fans.
I don't think Dusty finishes the season with the team. If you start seeing articles like these in the Trib, Dusty is a goner.
Not in my delivered paper, but available on-line is this piece by Phil Rogers. In the piece, Rogers calls out both Hendry and Baker. He also blames (incorrectly) Baker for Chad Fox's injury. Regardless of whose fault Fox's bad arm is, the suits in Trib Tower won't respond kindly to public declaration that of one of their employees (Baker) possibly destroyed a valuable operating asset (Fox).
I'll be shocked if Dusty finishes the month in Cubbie Blue.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
A Long Time Coming
On April 11, 2003, I sent the following email to the Cubbies.com listsev:
Date: Friday, April 11, 2003 4:10 PM
Subject: Dump Time
I've had enough of Corey Patterson. It was obvious to me 3 years ago, this guy ain't got it. He's a poor man's Odibbie McDowell.
He doesn't put the ball in play. He doesn't play good defense. And when he does get on base, he can't run because he's always getting picked off or doubled up.
This team is a 2nd baseman 3rd baseman and a centerfielder away from contending. And one of those guys has to be a leadoff hitter.
As to Bobby Hill, I hear he thinks the Mendoza line is north of Des Moines.
I take no joy in Corey being sent down (the K is being sent down as well), other than it allows the Cubs to add a player that can be truly useful. Corey may be a good guy, he may not. I've never met the man.
That said, this is a move made about three years too late. Had this kid been left for a full season in Iowa or even Double A, perhaps it would be a different story. Perhaps he wouldn't have been so arrogant. Perhaps he would have learned to bunt.
I expect the next time we see #20 in Cubbie Blue, the name on the back will be "Pie."
So long, Corey, and thanks for trying.
I hear your bus boarding. Get on it.
I'm in heaven! I can't get over it! FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There's a Jew back on the Cubs! First one since Jose Bautista, I believe.
Welcome Adam Greenberg!
Anything else of note?
The Big Rumor
ESPN 1000's Bruce Levine reported tonight on his 6:05 PM report, that the Cubs have had enough of Korey Patterson. Barring a huge next game or two, Korey is headed to Iowa to get himself straightened out.
This report means several things:
1) The Cubs indicated this to Korey some time ago, probably around the time they benched him for two games. They are leaking it public now because the decision on him is immanent.
2) Korey's trade value is zero. You would think that there is no way they send Korey down because it would send a signal to the other teams in baseball that Korey's value is minimal. Well, sending him down means the Cubs have already explored trades and there are no takers! What takers there might be are offering garbage.
3) The Cubs can't send Korey down unless he clears waivers. Right? Well, that they are leaking to the press that management is ready to send him down means he has already cleared waivers.
With his 1-4 tonight with a K and a popup, I expect Korey to be in Iowa by Monday.
This Ledge Isn't High Enough
Many of our fellow Cubs fans jumped off the ledge with today's shut out against a shlub with a 5.09 ERA. Well, 5.09 prior to facing the Cubs.
I'm certain the Sloth jumped. Beyond his lack of posting, I saw this when I drove past Corn Hole, IL a little while ago.
The "Not Watching" Watch
If you think it's time for Dusty Baker to take his act back to California and focus on keep his income taxes current, here's where you want to look to see if the Trib will launch him.
Watch the TV and radio ratings. If the ratings stay high, that means WGN TV and radio will continue to earn high rates for advertising spots. So long as they aren't being hurt financially, Dusty will stay, at least until the end of the year.
If the ratings start to fall, the Trib could find themselves being cost dollars in lower ad rates. If they are losing ad dollars, losing Dusty and his remaining $5,950,617.28 in salary gets more and more palatable.
Now, where can we find that data? I have no idea. Perhaps one of our compatriots knows where to get Arbitron and Nielson data?
Give This Man A Break
While we all know now that Derrek Lee's arm is not in immanent danger of falling out of his shoulder, what I want to know is this: Why this man is being allowed to suit up for the All Star Game?
Although Baker wants to play it cautiously this week with Lee, he said he supports Lee going to and playing in the All-Star Game.
"It's hard sitting out your first All-Star Game. That's a little tough. We'll see. We'll see how he heals." - Dusty Baker
Now, I'm all for him going and doffing his cap and getting his bonus. But I don't want to see him swing anything more than a cocktail at that game.
Go have a good time, Derrek. But if you weren't willing to go for the cycle in a game that actually counted because you were concerned about your health, why play in a meaningless exhibition?
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
There Are Always Possibilities
I'm sure you all saw this lineup that was washed away last night:
1. Perez SS
2. Macias 2B
3. Walker 1B
4. Ramirez 3B
5. Hollandsworth LF
6. Burnitz RF
7. Barrett C
8. Patterson CF
9. Prior P
There are four possible reasons for this disgusting display of what was supposed to be a public, professional entertainment event.
A) Dusty Baker knew the game was going to be rained out and made this public to earn some brownie points with Perez and Macias. He really had no intention of playing this lineup.
B) Dusty is trying to embarrass Jim Hendry by showcasing the 25 man roster that Jim has saddled him with. It's now clear that, were Dusty GM, Sammy and Alou would have returned. As they are not here, Dusty is playing his guys, and not Jim's. They would be Hairston, DuBois and Ronny Cedeno.
C) Dusty is trying to get himself fired. A few more games out of first, and he will be. Trying to lose is a sure way to accomplish this goal.
D) Dusty is now certifiably insane.
I go with B, but any of the four are possible. Am I missing anything?
A Selfless Act
Curt Shilling, on the mend and slowly recovering his strength, is going to the bullpen to work out his kinks and fill a gap for the Red Sox. With Keith Foulke also hurting, the bullpen is thin in Beantown. An interesting quote from the Sox GM:
"We don't need a five-inning starter right now. We need Curt Schilling to be himself." - Theo Epstein
Jim Hendry had a similar comment about Kerry Wood who, like Shilling, is also on the mend:
"We don't need a five-inning starter right now. We need Kerry Wood to stop being himself." - Jim Hendry
What It Took To Win - 2003
Normally, a team is not helped by injuries. In 2003, that was not the case. A major injury was the key factor in getting Jim Hendry to upgrade his team. The upgrades he was forced to make led to the Cubs tasting post-season victory for the first time in over 90 years. That injury occured two years ago today.
On July 6, 2003, the Cubs fell to the Cardinals 4-1. In the eighth, Corey Patterson tried to leg out a grounder and shredded his knee crossing first base. At the time, Corey had good numbers, but had been slumping. After a tremendous May, Corey slipped to .269/.319/.452 in June. By July 6th, he'd lost 30 points in average, 18 in OBP, and 82 points in slugging from their peaks. He never got a chance to try to recover from this slump as he would undergo reconstructive knee surgery and miss the rest of the season. He's still trying to recover.
So, what does Jim Hendry do? He's got a team that's toddling along at 44-43 but it has some talent. He's got a declining, but still potent Sammy Sosa. Moises Alou is chugging along at .298 and Mark Grudzielanek is at .296. Mark Prior's got a sterling 2.69 ERA. Carlos Zambrano is emerging. And Kerry Wood looks like he might finally be the real deal for the first time in 5 years. Does Jim go for it? Yes, in a way. Instead of making a big splash in going after the big name of Mike Lowell, he tries to fill an inside straight. Robbing Pittsburgh blind, Hendry goes and gets Kenny Lofton and and Aramis Ramirez for Bobby Hill (named later) and a few throw away prospects.
So, where does this lead? What happens when the Cubs get a leadoff hitter and a decent third baseman (A Ram was only decent with the Cubs in 2003)?
The Cubs won the division in 2003 two years ago today. They won because Hendry's hand was forced and he had to make a trade. To bad Hendry wasn't forced to do that this year.
Too late now.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Hello, Mr. Baker? This is your wakeup call. What? You didn't order a wakeup call? Well your team phoned it in tonight from Atlanta.
Did you say, "Who is this?" Why, just call me Jim. Jim with management.
You're welcome, sir. Good day.
Kerry gives you five innings. Big Whoop. Look what Ricky did.
IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Nolasco, R (W, 8-0) 9.0 4 1 1 0 6 1 2.71
Yeah, don't trade Mitre because "we need him." Don't trade Wood. Don't trade Rusch.
Fine. I can live with that.
Then you must trade the Nolasco's of the world and generate value from them before they turn into the Bobby Brownlies and Angel Guzmans. But that I mean worthless, oft-injured woulda-shouldas.
One A Day
It seems the manufacturer of pain releiver OxyContin is laying off 825 employees.
I guess Rush Limbaugh has his addiction under control.
Better, But A Long Way To Go
Back in late 2003, I suggested that the Cubs would be better if every single starting position player went away. That was Sammy, Alou, Lofton, Karros, Grudzielanek, Gonzalez, Ramirez, and Miller.
Well, I was wrong about two players from that team. Lofton was still needed and Ramirez turned into one of the best hitters in the league.
That said, there are still 6 position players from this team I'd like to see go away. Not because I loathe these guys (like I did with Alou and Sosa), but because they just aren't good enough. Look at this year's team and see if you can honestly say that they are guys you can build around.
OK, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, yeah. They stay. But the rest?
Todd Walker - nice bat, but still a sub par player
Neifi Perez - backup at best
Michael Barrett - not good enough a hitter to make up for his weakenss as a receiver.
Todd Hollandsworth - Perfect 4th outfielder.
Jeromy Burnitz - Great if you can bat him 7th. Notsohot if you bat him 4th.
Korey - I think we covered this one.
Why is this team 1 game under and 5 back of a playoff spot? Because it's not very good.
100+ pitches gets 15 outs. Not acceptable.
Wanna shake up this team? Trade Wood to Texas. They need the pitching. They have stuff to give back. It's home for Kerry. It frees a lot of money for 2006.
He clearly will not be back after his contract is up after next year. Trade him now and realize some value for him.
"That's A Big Twinkie"
"The major problem is contact. That's the only problem that there really is. Pretty big problem." - Dusty Baker on Korey Patterson's struggles.
I had no idea Baker played Winston Zeddmore.
"You've got to be (positive), to where it doesn't affect you to the point where you're not eating or not sleeping ... I've been there. That’s not happening. That's not the case, which is definitely a positive for me." - Korey Patterson on his lack of production
This is Korey's worst performance of his career. If something in his past led to eating and sleeping disorders and it wasn't this, what was it? His knee injury?
"The only problem with Walker is speed. If I have to do that, I'll do it. But I have just now moved Walker back to second." Dusty on Baker the leadoff skills of Todd Walker
Is it me, or does this sound like Jim Hendry is telling Dusty what to do? "If I have to" sounds very fishy to me.
Saturday, July 02, 2005
Seventy-nine games in. Two games short of the midpoint. So what has this team accomplished?
1 seven game win streak.
1 four game win streak.
3 three game win streaks.
On the flip:
1 seven game losing streak.
1 four game losing streak.
3 three game losing streaks (one of which is currently in progress).
Is there any wonder this is team is 1 game over .500? I suspect that's only because of the odd number of games played. They HAVE to be one side or the other.
Anyone who tells you that this team hasn't shown their true colors, or only needs to get healthy, or needs to keep the faith, needs to wake up and take a look at this team.
It is not playoff caliber. As we told you before the season started.
Is it fixable within the next 85 games? Sure. All that's needed is a new left fielder, centerfielder and shortstop.
What's frustrating is that this was known back in April for SS and earlier for LF and CF. What's even more frustrating is that this team has blown 18 games of schedule and 5 games on .500 since their peak. That gets harder and harder to recover as the days slip by.
But what's the most frustrating is that the guy in charge either doesn't know this, or DOES knows this and has done NOTHING.
Friday, July 01, 2005
Fun To watch
One of my only fun things to do when Korey bats is to watch his reaction to his own at bats.
When he swings and misses, invariably he immediately looks back to see where the catcher caught the ball. What he's doing is checking to see if the ball he swung at was a strike or not.
In other words, when he swings, he's guessing. He doesn't know where the ball is!
Only Todd Hundley did it better.
The Last 162
Looking at Korey's last "season," here's his performance:
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS
652 87 161 29 3 26 65 39 184 35 8
Dusty bats him 1st or 2nd and no one in the media asks him why he still does so. Or asks Hendry why he allows it.
Discuss amongst yourselves.
Larry Rodriguez, the camera man attacked by Kenny Rogers, made the media rounds yesterday. I heard him on ESPN Radio with Mike & Mike, then, post-Wrigley, I heard he was on with Boers & Burnstein on WSCR.
I'd venture he was on with sports talkers all over the nation yesterday.
Now, let's be very clear here: Rogers was wrong, stupid and deserves a long punishment. But for this camera man to go around in the national media telling his side of the incident is sickening. Rodriguez filed charges against Rogers. That means that Rodriguez is going around doing self promotion all because a CRIME was committed!
Must be nice to be a camera man. Hey. If this guy had been on the floor when Dennis Rodman was a Bull, he could have gotten a check for his "pain and suffering."
That's not what this is about, is it, Larry?
Highight Among Lowlights
Although the seats in Section 204 were about 16 rows behind those the last time I visited Wrigley, the company was sure different. Included in attendence was the Five Year Old. When asked by another in our party, "Who is the best player on the team?" he responded, "Derrek Lee."
This prompted me to ask, "Who's the worst?"
"Korey!" came the unhesitating reply. Chortles from our party followed. Pride oozed from dad.
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