Friday, April 30, 2004

Go Choi, Go Choi!

3 straight games with a home run? Say it aint so Big Choi! Choi is now up to 9 HR's and 18 RBI on the season.

Already your starting to hear little whispers on what is wrong with Derek Lee? How could we trade Choi for this bum?

Look Derek Lee should be fine. His April and May averages for the past 3 years are .223 and .246. After that he turns it up a notch. The tough part to handle is the more Choi hits the worse he makes the deal look. I hope Derek Lee turns into a monster and out performs Choi.

But on the other hand, I am just loving every second of the success that Choi is having. It upset me when some fans on The Cub Reporter were ripping Choi because he batted .220 and that he sucked and was over-rated. Saying stupid crap like he had his shot and blew it.

Yet it is still only one month, and Choi has yet to do it for a full season. For the doubters of Derek Lee you can be comforted with the fact he has a couple good seasons under his belt and should expect something along those lines.

Cubs Make Trade

Forgot to mention yesterday the Cubs made a trade with Detroit.

The Chicago Cubs today traded left-handed pitcher Felix Sanchez to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for right-hander Jon Connolly and a player to be named later.

Connolly, 20, was selected by the Tigers in the 28th round of the 2001 draft. He spent the 2003 campaign at West Michigan-A, where he went 16-3 with a 1.41 ERA in 25 starts, including 5 complete games. His ERA was lowest among all minor league pitchers. He was selected as the Tigers "Minor League Pitcher of the Year" and was named to the Midwest League mid- and postseason all-star squads. He also was selected to Baseball America's second-team minor league all-star squad. He started the 2004 season at Lakeland-A and has gone 2-2 with a 3.68 ERA in 4 starts.

Looks like a good deal to me.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Mr. Clutch

Alex Gonzalez had another game winning hit yesterday and naturally the talk returns that he is our best clutch hitter. I roll my eyes and say sure whatever makes you sleep at night sweet heart.

I have no formal psychological training but I am sticking with the theory that Cubs Fans are so shocked he actually gets a hit, much less has a meaningful one, that you must shower him with praise because you might not see it again for a month or two.

Are you Mr. Clutch when you bat .210 with RISP in 2003?

Are you Mr. Clutch when you bat .178 in close and late situations in 2003?

Are you Mr. Clutch when you bat .100 with the bases loaded in 2003?

Yeah its nice he comes up with a meaningful hit a few times a year but what about the other 500+ AB's he had? A broken watch gets the time correct twice a day, it doesn't mean it is working properly and getting the job done.

Ex-Prospect Watch

Just updated the stats of Choi, Hill, and Cruz to your right. And as I was writing this Hee Seop Choi just hit his 8th home run of the year, his 2nd in as many days.

Hill hasn't been seeing alot of AB's lately because Jose Castillo has been showing some power in the time he has played. Still Hill sports a .300 BA and a .400 OBP. He is not stinkin up the joint.

My assessment of the trades to this point in the season are as followed.

Hill for Aramis Ramirez. No contest. Am-Ram is living up to expectations and then some. A+

Choi for Lee. Choi gets a massive edge here. Anytime when you could of had a player making league minimum out performing someone who makes millions you give it to the kid. D-

Cruz for Pratt. Trade competent major league pitcher for mental case? Last I checked Andy Pratt had walked 9 batters in 6 innings of work in the minors and is sporting a huge ERA down there also. F-

Things that make you go hmmmmm:

Pratt is the son of Tom Pratt, the pitching coach for the Cubs' Class A farm team at Daytona.

In a strange coincidence, the scout who signed Choi was former Cubs Pacific Rim coordinator Leon Lee, who is Derrek Lee's father.

Two trades in the last year to aquire an employee's son. Hmmmm.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

D-Backs fan also

I consider myself an Arizona Diamond Backs fan also. I will root and cheer for them on the days they are not playing the Cubs. The reason for this was because I was living in Arizona at the time the D-backs became a franchise. Being a huge baseball fan my only other MLB game I had been to was the Anaheim Angels. Now finally a baseball franchise was in the city of Phoenix and I could go whenever I wanted to.

I attended the 2nd game ever at the B.O.B. and nearly every Cubs series including the game in 1998 where Kerry Wood set the 3 game major league record for SO's by a pitcher. For a few years after that my job would give me 3rd base side seats just a couple rows back from the field. Regulars who sat in front of me were Jerry Colangelo, Alice Cooper and Jeremy Roenick at the time. Kids would always be trying to get autugraphs from them every game. A special moment i happened to witness was when a kid was trying to get Randy Johnson's attention in the dugout to sign his ball. After about an inning Johnson stuck his head up and looked around. He motioned to the kid to give him the ball and disappeared back into the dugout.

A few innings had passed and the the kid was wondering if he would ever get his ball back. To his relief Randy Johnson reappeared and instead of giving the ball back to the kid he threw it to Jeremy Roenick and made the motion for him to sign it as well. The kid at this point was confused at what was going on. Roenicks wife handed him a pin and he signed the ball and gave it back to the kid.

Apparently what took so long was that Randy Johnson was passing the ball around the dugout so the entire team could sign the ball and added the extra sentimental value of getting a Hockey star to sign it as well. A very unique momento for this kid which I am sure he will never forget.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Knockout Pitches has a cool article on the ten best knockout pitches in MLB.

Kerry Wood is #2

"That hard, sharp break is filthy,'' says one major league manager.

Redbird Nation must of seen the rough draft of the list however.

Number 11? Jeff Fassero's hanging curveball.

Hehe, classic.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Good Start For The Offense

Well we needed a boost out of the gate with Prior's injury and we are getting it. This looks a lot like our offense last year. Beating up on poor pitching teams, only to slow down against the better pitching ones and coming back to reality. Unlike last years team the lineup seems to be producing from top to bottom.

           BA    HR  RBI  Runs   OBP 

Walker .346 2 10 13 .462

Patterson .292 3 8 13 .352

Sosa .303 5 10 13 .410

Alou .353 7 18 14 .405

Ramirez .333 5 16 12 .364

Lee .254 2 11 11 .352

Barrett .304 4 12 9 .346

Gonzalez .283 2 5 10 .309

Walker already has 10 RBI in 15 games. That is 25% of the way to Mark Grudz's total of 38 RBI in 121 games. Just another reason why Walker needs to play over Grudz.

Everyone is hitting reasonably well and contributing to the offensive load. If this continues along this pattern for the rest of the season it means this team will be less likely to fall into an offensive droughts. What i like the most is the OBP's. Take out Alex Gonzalez and the lowest OBP is .346 from Barrett. Very nice indeed.

Last April Sosa had to carry the offensive load just for us to be competitive. That is not happening this year. While he had a great month last year that pressing at the plate cost him as the season wore on. Sosa can now just be patient and let the game flow to him, because the RBI and the HR's will come to Sosa anyways.

Dumb Jock Killed in Afghanistan

That was the title of an article from the Washington Post. The rest of the article was clean and tasteful but as we all know it is a left wing Democratic news source who couldn't even leave alone a fallen soldiers memory without taking one insulting crack at his legacy.

That is really not what I want to draw attention to. I want people to see how the left wing anti-war freaks are not for our soldiers, how they want our soldiers to die, how they are giddy with joy when one of the more famous ones gets killed defending his country. These people have no moral compass, they have no compassion for human life as long as they get to keep all of their material possessions and sacrifice nothing.

Go Portland Independent Media Center and its comments section. Don't ever be fooled that the anti-war left supports our soldiers, they never have and never will. Because if they truly support our soldiers they wouldn't be trying to piss on Pat Tillman. He was a soldier of the United States of a America. Maybe that slipped these stupid idiots minds. I highly doubt it.

Update: Went back and looked at the Indymedia site and it looks like it is the title of the post. I was thrown because directly below it, it says author: Washington Post. So I will take that one on the chin (like Corrie Sanders did against Vitali Klitschko, hehe), but leave the post as is. I am not in the habit of correcting factual errors by completly erasing the mistake and then posting no retraction like the New York Times and BBC websites do on a regular basis.

Friday, April 23, 2004

A Sad Day

By now you have heard that former NFL Cardinals player Pat Tillman was killed in combat in Afhganistan. To me and to many residents of Arizona Tillman was a special person in our hearts for what he did on the field of play.

I was living in Tempe and attended Arizona State football games when Arizona State was a nationally ranked football program. Jake "The Snake" Plummer got all the press but alot of people looked to Tillman for the fire and passion when they cheered. It was unusual for me going to games because i have and always will be an Arizona Wildcats fan, but it was a great place to watch football games because you couldnt help but cheer for some of its blue collar players like Tillman.

Tillman gave the ultimate sacrifice to his nation because he honestly believed in his heart it was the right thing to do. I believe in my heart that our nation is doing the right thing also.
In a time where we are used to seeing selfish acts Tillman was anything but that. So it was equally disturbing when I went to read The Uncouth Sloth and heard about how a couple radio commentators on the Score called Tillman a selfish dumbass for walking away from a high priced gig and joining the Army, because he wasn't home for his family.

Who in the hell do these guys think they are? I think Sloth summed it up best.

Pat Tillman is a Goddamned HERO, and you two fat mopes are scab-encrusted pud pullers.

I hope they are fired, they have no compassion for human life, much less respect for a man who served his country and asked for nothing in return. That is a Patriot, that is a Goddamned Hero!

Update: Ivy Chat also calls Tillman a Patriot. Northside Lounge pays his respects also.

Update: People are dieing in buildings and we are playing a game. Pat Tillman.

That is what was said when Tillman was asked by Jamir Miller, a former teammate, about his decision to join the military.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

The Walker Situation Take Two

I get sick of hearing how Walker is a butcher in the field and Mark Grudz's is this far superior defensive 2nd baseman. If you just want to look at last year, then you will win any argument. But the wonderful thing about baseball you can go back and look at some of the stats to tell what is an aberration or what is reality.

If this argument took place 1 year ago today we would be talking about how superior Walker is defensively to Grudz. I am dead serious.

1 year does not make a career.

I am going to delve into stats that the new wave stats people use as fact to prove Grudz's is superior to Walker.

Last year Grudz's had a 5.00 Range Factor and a .854 Zone Rating. Walker had a 4.75 Range Factor and Zone Rating of .788.

But if you look a little deeper you will notice that Grudz in previous years was actually worse than Walkers one bad year.

In 2002 Walker had a Range Factor of 5.14 and a Zone Rating of .824. Grudz had a 4.54 Range Factor and a .842 Zone Rating.

2001 Walker had a Range Factor of 5.09 and a Zone Rating of .822. Grudz had a 4.70 Range Factor and a .823 Zone Rating.

There is a myth surrounding Walker as a horrible 2nd baseman and there is a myth surrounding Grudz as this defensive wizard who we can't live without. Was it the long grass at Wrigley that turned around Grudz's defense? Was it Alex Gonzalez? Was Walker better suited to fast astro turf as compared to grass fields in Boston? Did Barry Larkin help? These are questions that are tough to answer, but Walker has shown he is at the very least just as good of a defensive 2nd baseman as Mark Grudz over his career.

I think the reason people say Walker is horrible in the field is because he goes after the tough plays and trys to get the out and doesnt always have success. My biggest gripe with Grudz over the years is that he is slow as a brick and only goes after plays that he knows he will have success with. Walker to me is the more agressive 2nd baseman that will atleast attempt to try and make a play instead of just letting the ball go to the OF like Grudz has a habit of doing.

I will probably get flamed for that last paragraph but oh well. Walker is not a horrible defensive 2nd and Grudz is not as good with the glove as your lead to believe.

The Walker Situation and Etc....

With Mark Grudzielanek coming off the DL shortly talk has centered around whether Grudz should lose his job to Walker. The Cub Reporter has a good article explaining what he would like to do in this situation, that is worth a read.

I have always liked Todd Walker, I was one of the few if not only bloggers saying we should go after Todd Walker instead of Luis Castillo. My idea of salary for Walker was way off base, but I am glad the Cubs got one of my "Top Priority" pickups from my Nov 13th post of last year.

The reality of the situation is we need Walkers bat more than we need Grudz's glove. We need that left handed bat in the lineup if for nothing else than for the pitcher to change his rhythm. The reason teams try and get a balanced lineup of lefthanded and right handed hitters is because your less likely to fall into slumps this way. Right handed dominated lineups tend to get all hot at the same time and then all fall cold at the same time. Right handed hitting lineups are more likely to be shutdown by good RHP teams.

My biggest grip about Grudz is his hitting is mostly shallow. He put up a good batting average and that was about it. Walker atleast as better extra base ability and can drive in runners from the top of the lineup unlike Grudz. For a team that needs offense, then Walker is the clear cut choice.

Having two lefthanded hitters getting on in front of our right handed hitting lineup is perfect in my opinion and has been helping this lineup a ton. I thought Sosa would benefit a lot from Walker and Patterson ahead of him, but in fact Aramis Ramirez has capitalized the most. In fact Walker, Patterson, and Sosa are this teams best hitters against RHP. So I can see why Am-Ram is having a huge year so far. He is getting a ton of people on ahead of him and is driving them in.

I blasted Baker for wanting to put Derek Lee in the 6th slot, but I will give Dusty his props on this one. I think its a shrewd move and has payed off. Derek Lee is supposed to be the better hitter and more feared than Am-Ram ,so what would be better than to sandwich Am-Ram between Sosa and Lee? Seems to be working to me.

Just a Quick Note

Haven't been feeling well lately and I wanted to do a team report post, so instead I will just mention that the Cubs currently rank #1 in SO's for the pitching staff.

That sounds wonderfull and is probably impressive considering Prior is out. But on the bad side our team is dead last in issuing the most walks in baseball to date.

Currently in 139 innings our pitching staff has walked 73 batters and struck out 126.

By contrast the Florida Marlins staff ranks 2nd in SO's with 116, but have issued only 39 walks to rank #3 on the list.

Strikeouts are all fine and dandy but the Cubs staff as a whole is walking an alarmingly high rate of batters.

Yeah last year the Cubs ranked 1st in strikeouts and next to last in walks. At the Cubs current pace they would walk 759 batters. Thats about 142 more than last year.

This staff needs to get its act together because you cant be walking this many batters against Houston and St. Louis.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Wavin Wendell Strikes Again

Who tries to make a runner score from 2nd on a sac fly to the outfield? Yep thats right Wavin Wendell Kim.

Walker was being agressive and advancing to 3rd on a deep fly ball by Sosa to Griffey. Walker already slowing down and stopping at 3rd suddenly gets the "GO" sign from Wavin Wendell to advance to home, because on the relay throw the person had a slight bobble with the ball.

Todd Walker is gunned out by a mile at home, thus ending the inning.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Pratt Demoted

Well the Cubs finally sent Andy Pratt to the minors, and recalled Francis Beltran.

The good is Beltran can actually reach the catchers mitt. The bad is Beltran had a horrible spring training.

6 IP, 15.00 ERA, 15 hits given up, 10 earned runs. So its not like Beltran earned a trip to the majors.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

The Alex Gonzalez Mentality

Its always nice to see a young pitcher taking notes from Alex Gonzalez.

Hangover: Young left-hander Andy Pratt was able to sleep Saturday night after taking the loss in the Cubs' 5-2 decision to Atlanta. Pratt walked both batters he faced, throwing one strike in his nine total pitches.

"It's a new day, it's a long season," Pratt said. "You put it behind you."

If he needs counseling, he's got Remlinger to call on. Even though he's on the disabled list, the veteran pitcher has been sitting in the bullpen with the other relievers during games.

No big deal, nothing is wrong, It's not my fault, I dont need any changes, leave me alone.

There are things you can put behind you and there are things you need to remember vividly so you dont repeat them. If you cant hit the strike zone that should keep you up worrying at night and wondering what the hell is going on.

If you can sleep at night and not worry about it, it means 1) You don't give a damn 2) Your ego is so huge you assume your job is safe no matter what.

And by his comment, "It's a long season" assumes he will be around all year and no one will dare send him to the minors.

This kid needs a reality check. Sending him to single A ball might get his attention and start making him care.

Choi Likes Playing for the Marlins less than a week, fans have started chanting his name during at-bats.

``It's got to be a plus for him,'' McKeon said. ``To get received like this has got to be a tremendous lift for him. He's come out and done it early and gotten the fans on his side. It's got to help his confidence.''

Ohh man it was awesome when they would shout his names during Cubs games. Do we hear anyone chanting Derek Lee, Derek Lee? Not to bag on Lee, but Choi brought excitement to the fans and probably the team. Right now it's just kinda bland.

Choi is enjoying his role with the Marlins and likes playing in Florida more than he did Chicago, the franchise he signed with in 1999. The biggest reason is his relationship with McKeon, Cox and hitting coach Bill Robinson.

I am sure this is just the standard getting accustomed to the new guy, which Baker did extremely well. Or is it......

The coaches have gone out of their way to communicate with the 6-foot-5 first baseman. Even though Choi speaks and understands some English, McKeon and Cox learned about a dozen Korean phrases during spring training to use in the clubhouse and dugout. ``Cho ta,'' which means ``great job,'' is their most popular one.

``I sympathize with him, I really do,'' Robinson said. ``I realize how tough it's got to be here. It's a different culture, a different way of life. But the thing we've got to remember is it's still baseball. And he knows baseball.''

I don't remember our coaches even attempting to learn any Korean to help out Choi, just passing it off on his interpreter. What McKeon and his coaches are doing is trying to make Choi as much at home as possible. That goes along way in itself to help out Choi.

For me personally this tells me Choi is glad to get away from Dusty Baker, who lied to him and tried to personally keep him in a slump just so he wouldn't have to play him. Much like what he did with Bobby Hill vs. Lenny Harris. Harris started, Hill rotted on the bench.

And I don't blame Choi one bit, he is probably bitter at how Baker treated him and is finally happy he has a coach that respects him.

Kudos to McKeon for taking a personal interest in Choi which is more than Baker even tried to do. Atleast he now has a manager that will honestly help him, not hinder him.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Andy Pratt SUCKS!!

What the hell was Hendry thinking when he traded Cruz for Pratt? Atleast Cruz could get the ball into the catchers mitt. Pratt throws over the catchers head, or 5 feet in front of the batter in the dirt.

Update: Ohh great another ball that doesnt even reach home plate, and the crowd is booing him like crazy

Next pitch after that is 5 feet in the air, Bako nearly misses it. With that Pratt's day is over, bases loaded.

Andy Pratt needs to be demoted to the minors TODAY. This guy makes Mitch Williams look like Greg Maddux. Just horrible, horrible.

Final Update: Pitch by Pitch account of Pratt's performace through gameday.

Pitch 1 - Ball
Pitch 2 - Ball
Pitch 3 - Ball
Pitch 4 - Ball

Craig Wilson walks.

Pitch 1 - Hit By Pitch

Chris Stynes hit by pitch. Craig Wilson to 2nd.

Pitch 1 - Ball
Pitch 2 - Ball
Pitch 3 - Blocked Ball in Dirt
Pitch 4 - Ball

Jose Castillo walks. Craig Wilson to 3rd. Chris Stynes to 2nd.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Prior Out Till June?

From his own mouth...

His projected return may be pushed back to June at his current pace.

"It's just getting [the arm] stretched out," Prior said.

Prior said in a normal year he would throw from the beginning of January until the start of spring training.

"So obviously that's how long it usually takes [to get ready]," he said.

"Hopefully it doesn't take that long. It's more of a gut thing. I just know it's not right yet. It's not strong enough. It's not as easy to throw my long toss as it usually is."

I guess I will have to defer to the Ivy Chat Media Rule on this one and see what he has to say about it.

Good Stuff About Patterson

With some bloggers and fans concerned about Patterson's strike zone/and base running judgement, I thought I should point out an area that is being over looked.

The last couple days we have seen Patterson leg out infield singles. I have noticed that if the defensive person is lunging left or right or bobbles the ball just once then Patterson will beat the throw to first or the defender wont even try throwing.

On a few occasions in this young season Patterson has prevented double plays by sheer hustle.

The only other person in baseball, that I have seen, who makes defenders rush this quickly is Ichiro Suzuki. Which is a testament to Patterson's speed, and should put away any doubts that he isn't fully recovered from his knee injury.

He is 24, not everyone turns into Albert Pujols out of the gate. Give it time.

Ex-Prospect Watch

I hope Lets Play Two doesn't mind but I have been trying to figure out tables for awhile now and cannibalized his "Lets PLay Two Trade Tracker."

I just want to put up stats of Choi, Hill, and Cruz as we go through the season, which you can now find to your left (NO YOUR OTHER LEFT!!!).

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Intriguing Confrontation

If your lucky enough to switch back and forth between the Astros and Cubs game, it should be interesting to see Clemens squaring off against Bonds tonight.

Clemens dominates the inside of the plate and Barry Bonds stands right on top of the plate with his suit if armor. The last time Clemens saw Bonds was in a interleague game last year where he hit Bonds.

I kind of hope Clemens throws a fastball somewhere near Bonds inflated head, and Clemens is crazy enough to do it. Ahhhh Baseball season, isn't it fun?

UPDATE: Clemens 1 Bonds 0

Clemens intentionally walked Bonds the first trip to the plate and struck him out the next two times up.

Re: Pitching Abuse

Cubs Now! is one of the better new Cubs blogs i have noticed since the begining of the year.

His post about pitching abuse is the classic arguement. Players of the past did it and didnt have a problem so why cant pitchers today?

Sounds simple but will never happen in baseball again. Nolan Ryan was the last of the old war horses. He was the last of the generation that grew up under the mentality of pitching all the time, and finishing what they started. This was something they have been doing since childhood. So physically they were prepared to do it through out their career.

It is impossible to step into major league baseball right now and say your going to throw 150-160 pitches a start and pitch 270 innings. Their bodies have never even come close to that kind of physical strain and will crack under the abuse.

The reliance on the closer changed baseball forever, much like the 3 point line changed basketball forever. Once you cross that line you cant go back.

In order for baseball to get back to pitchers throwing nearly 300 innings they need to start the physical training down in little league. Right their you run into a massive road block. For every Fergie Jenkins or Nolan Ryan a slew of youngsters suffered arm injuries due to over work at a young age. This is why in little league you can only pitch your youngsters 15 innings max per week.

You can say the life of a pitcher was cruel back in the day because only the strongest survived. For many years Sandy Koufax pitched with an arm injury, yet he still posted fantastic numbers. He had to finally retire because he couldnt take the pain anymore. This problem is solved for todays athletes in the form of Tommy John Surgery. To be a pitcher back then was like going through a meat grinder.

I think in the end he totally gets why they are great...

In fact, maybe great pitchers are great precisely because they can effectively pitch a lot of innings and throw a lot of pitches per game.

Its because thats the way they were raised. Pitchers today are coddled and protected for the most part. Whether thats good or bad is debatable.

If Kerry Wood grew up in the 1940's/50's and did exactly what he did in his first year for the Cubs, that would of been his last season in baseball. He would be a minor foot note in history. Great arm, got injured, too bad.

I think today's baseball allows players to come back after that, even though surgery is the biggest reason why. Lower pitch counts and less work help keep players like Wood in baseball and help them make a career out of it. I think thats why baseball phased in closers and bullpen, because they were missing out an alot of great arms that otherwise couldn't handle the stress of going 300-400 innings a year. Would you even know who Eric Gagne was if he pitched back then?

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

My First Prediction For the Year

I haven't decided whether to go through the whole dog and pony show of who will win what award and where each team will finish.

I just wanted to say, watch the Milwaukee Brewers, they will be much better than bloggers and fans think. We as Cubs fans like to pump we have one of the best farm systems in baseball. Right now Milwaukee has thee best farm system. Whether it starts to pay off this year, I don't know.

But the team they have now can give other teams problems, especially on the hitting side. 1 - 8 is a collection of scrappy little hitters that will single and double you until you claw your eyes out in frustration.

The top of that list is Craig Counsell. .266 career hitter with a .349 career OBP. Known for getting the big hits when his team needs them, ask the Marlins and D'Backs. You may hate his batting stance but he make pitchers work to get him out, he isn't an automatic out like ohhhh say Alex Gonzalez. In fact I wouldn't mind a straight up swap for the two of them, Counsell is a slick fielder also whether it be 3rd, 2nd, SS or OF.

Counsell could be on the way down, but that's no problem because the Brewers can replace him with a better guy named Bill Hall. He only batted .429 this spring with 10 RBI and 7 steals. It could be only a matter of time till Podesdnik and Hall are running rough shod against the likes of Barrett and his mighty 25% throw out rate.

Lyle Overbay, Ben Grieve, Wes Helms, Junior Spivey and Geoff Jenkins are the other notable batters. Jenkins and Spivey for which this lineup will depend on alot of its production. Overbay could be the wild card if he can just be Mark Grace like.

Most people will look at that and say its garbage, in fact on paper it even looks like garbage. The reason I like the lineup so much is that it reminds me of the Angels lineup a few years ago. None of them were really house hold names, just a collection of scrappy little hitters who didnt give up. I like to call it the "Pit Bull" mentality. Doesnt matter the size of the opposing dog or how many runs they are behind they will keep working and clawing until the final out of the 9th inning.

Naturally the biggest weak point is the pitching staff. But in all due respect the worst staff in the NL Central belongs to the Reds. I find the Brewers staff to be bad, but has the potential to just be mediocre. The bullpen could become a strong point by seasons end, and the Brewers have some arms they could call on from their deep farm system if they are ready.

Either the Cubs, Houston or St. Louis will falter and the Brewers will finish the year in 3rd place. They might even be .500.

I could be crazy, or I am just taking my scouting reports from MVP Baseball 2004 where the Brewers are always finishing 1st and kicking my ass, lol.

Whats the fun in predicting the Cubs are going to win the Division? Thats a given. I want a challenge in this little prediction/bragging rights contest. And I will go with the Brewers as one of the teams that comes out of no where this year.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Opening Lineup Impressions

Derek Lee hitting 6th - What is Lee's job to get on base so Alex Gonzalez and Michael Barrett can strikeout with a runner on base? I know Baker doesn't look at OBP, but put Lee 4th.

Michael Barrett - 3rd Inning Barret is looking HORRIBLE behind the plate. No big surprise. Looks like Wood is afraid to throw breaking balls in the dirt because Barrett is getting eaten alive trying to handle them. Again no big surprise.

Kerry Wood - Looked like Kerry Wood. 5 IP, 6 SO's, 3 BB, 95 pitches.

Mike Wuertz - Looked impressive in his debut striking out 2 batters in his first inning.

Joe Borowski - The Borowski watch is on in Chicago. Started off the inning with 88 MPH fastballs and 80 MPH sliders with the first two hitters. Then struggled with the next three hitters where his fastball was topping out at 86 MPH and slider was only occasionally hitting 80 MPH.

By that account his velocity is nearly 5 MPH off from where he should be. Not a good sign, especially with Baker looking for any little excuse to move Borowski from the closers role.

I am sure Baker instilled a great confidence boost in Borowski in the 1st game by warming up Hawkins when things got just a little bit harry. Its all a matter of time till Borowski gets demoted.

More later if anything else interesting happens.......

Cat Fight on Baseball Tonight

You add John Kruk to the cast and it turns into, "The Best Damn Sports Show." Peter Gammons was about to blow a gasket because he was so upset with Harold Reynolds when he didnt understand why Clemens or Pettite was the opening day starter. I have never seen Gammons that upset.

John Kruk was basically calling Reynolds an idiot for not wanting Roy Oswalt as the opening day starter!

Ohh man if Baseball Tonight is that fun every night this is going to be a great season.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

SI Scouting Report

The Sports Illustrated Scouting Report of the Cubs has a side bar of what an opposing scout thinks of the Cubs and one thing caught my eye.

Why would they get an unproven guy like Michael Barrett for such a great pitching staff? One day I saw Maddux shake him off four times before throwing a pitch.

I have never understood it either. And I will continue to stand by that Barrett will end up being a defensive and game calling disaster behind the plate.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Turning the Corner?

I have said for awhile now that if Kerry Wood can lower his walk totals from 100 a year to 60-70 he will turn into a 20 game winner. Naturally over the years, when i say this I get told I am crazy, and the obvious excuses come flying that its the bullpen blowing all of Kerry Wood's wins. Yeah sure, whatever.

Wood this spring might be showing signs of turning that corner from middle of the road 12-14 game winner and achieve his birth right of becoming a true staff ace and winning 20 games a year to match his gaudy SO totals.

Through 25 innings pitched this spring he has struckout 25 batters, most importantly he has only walked 8 batters in that time. Factored out over a full season and that would put him at around 72 walks for the entire season. So its no surprise to see that he has won five out of six spring starts either. Walk less, win more. Its as simple as that.

I hope this carries on over into the regular season because we are going to need a much improved Wood, what with Priors injury and all.

Friday, April 02, 2004

The Sports Illustrated Curse

I have been fearing the Baseball Preview issue for awhile now and low and behold Kerry Wood makes the cover. If there is one curse I do believe in its the Sports Illustrated Cover Curse.

In the July 7, 2003 issue Mark Prior and Kerry Wood made the cover of SI's Baseball Midseason Report. Mark Prior's next scheduled start was July 11, 2003 against the Atlanta Braves. We all know what happened in that game.

In that case it looks like the curse was purely after fresh meat, because Kerry Wood was virtually unaffected as he pitched two complete games in a row on July 9 and July 19 while giving up only 1 run.

Sadly the curse gets its revenge later in the season, when on the October 13, issue Kerry Wood makes the cover with the slogan, "Do You Believe?" His next start was game 7 of the NLCS on October 16, against the Florida Marlins. And we all know what happened in that game.

The SI Curse isnt perfect, and some years it takes a year off. I am hoping the SI Curse is asleep at the wheel and drives off a cliff so that it never see's Kerry Wood is on the cover.

The Goat may have claimed Mark Prior as its sacrificial lamb. We don't need a turf war for which curse can out do the other.

I can just see it now....

SI Curse: Man I made those Cubs fans squirm in Atlanta, huh Goat?

Goat Curse: Thats small potatoes compared to what i have set in motion.

SI Curse: Oh really?

Goat Curse: Yeah, you just made Prior fall in a contorted mess on the ground. I am going after his achilles tendon.

SI Curse: Now you wanna get nasty?

Goat Curse: Hey you were all gloating about the Atlanta thing, I just upped the ante.

SI Curse: Ok you want to play like that? Kerry Wood is on the cover April 5th. ITS ON GOAT BOY!!! ITS ON!!!

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Fan Feedback

If none of you read Redbird Nation regularly, shame on you. Its one of the best blogs for the St. Louis Cardinals.

What I would like to point you to is his March 30th post titled, "How Much Would You Pay for Edgar Renteria?" In that post Jeff Luhnow, the Vice President of Baseball Development for the St. Louis Cardinals emailed Redbird nation and wanted to know what the fans thought about signing Edgar Renteria.

This is what Luhnow wrote in an e-mail to Redbird Nation.

I thought it might be interesting to start a discussion about signing Renteria. We all know what he brings to this team and we all know his contact is up at the end of this year. I'd be very interested to hear from you and your fellow bloggers [about] what kind of contract you think would be most appropriate for the Cardinals and Renteria. Clearly we all want him here, that's not the issue. The issue is what would be a good contract for both sides, one that the fans would support and is "doable" based on other deals out there, his likely demands, etc. Years and money is the question.

Unfortunately, this will have to be a one way conversation -- you all talking, me listening, for obvious reasons, but I would like you to have a voice.

Is that wonderful or what? No one in a million years would think blogging would take off this fast and start having this much influence. I know political bloggers are starting to have a direct affect on shoddy reporting practices in major news organizations all over the world. With the power of the internet you can cross check stories instantly between hundreds of thousands of people and in some cases millions.

The very fact that someone in Cardinals management is interested in what the fans think shows they care about their fan base and want to know how to best address it.

Imagine if the Vice President of Baseball Development for the Cubs contacted The Cub Reporter with a similiar question on one of our players? That would be AWESOME! It would feel like the fans had a voice, and possibly a say in whether a player left or was signed long term.

I am extremly jealous of whats going on over at Redbird Nation. But I am also extremly proud to see a baseball team making that gesture.

Ofcourse I had to chime in and say that Renteria should never be allowed to hit the Free Agent market otherwise he will not resign with the Cardinals. I pointed towards the Cubs getting rid of Alex Gonzalez and Moises Alou's contract after this year. And if i was GM of the Cubs I would be all over trying to get Renteria and weakening a division rival.

I think I gave some of them nightmares. Hehehe. I cant let them have all the fun, they are still the St. Louis Cardinals afterall!