Monday, February 28, 2005


Why am I being punished so?

Readers all -

Sorry for the inexcusable lack of blogging recently. I had a busy weekend and none of it involved work but rather 5 hours of museum visiting and a night of cousin visiting. Fun yes, but it kept me separated from my reader(s). With that said...

I just want my team to win. Any team.

I have four teams I root for: three Indiana teams and the Cubs. Of course, the Cubs are the only team that I am obsessed with. I love the rest of my teams, but the borderline manic obsession is not there. The issue with all this is, I love my teams, but they're all losers. Or, at least they have all been losers while I have followed them. My case:

The Hoosiers: Okay, maybe this one isn't fair. They consisently made the tournament and rattled of many a 20 win season under one Bobby Knight. But I'm not sure who is more responsible for them choking though - Bobby or his players. During my four year tenure at IU, the Hoosiers never made it past the second round, and twice were eliminated in the first. A very frustrating four years, as I was raised on Indiana basketball (that was half the reason that I wanted to go to IU). Of course, the year after I leave, they make the damn final game. Not that I'm complaining, mind you, it's just that I'm complaining. I gave my heart and soul to that damn team, and they didn't have the decency to win while I was in town. That being said, they suck pretty hard right now (excepting a recent OT win over Michigan State). But Byron over at the Cubdom, Cubs Blog Army, and about 47 other blogs could tell you about that more. He actually has to be there while this program falls apart.

then we have...

The Pacers: I love the Pacers, but I don't really like NBA basketball. I'm usually happier when I can follow the Pacers but not watch the games (except the playoffs). This year, I thought they would be my best chance to root for a champion. They had a terrific starting five and an impressively deap bench. I thought they would easily reach the finals until...The Incident. One cup of ice and suddenly half the Pacers team is gone. All of a sudden, there are two Joneses in the starting lineup...wha happen? This has just been a terribly frustrating season as the Pacers went from the Beast of the East to...worse than the Bulls (?!?). Unbelievable. Actually, the Pacers aren't even as frustrating as...

The Colts: Where to start? More offensive talent than Andrew Dice Clay (hint: offensive can be pronounced two ways) but their defense is like cloth diapers: leaky (these analogies are pretty bad - what can I say, I'm no poet). Anyway, I had high hopes going into the playoffs. Frankly, I think everyone did. They were unstoppable! Peyton was a god! exclamation point! After the first round against Denver, I doodling all over my lab book: Mr. Jason Manning, Mr. and Mr. Peyton Manning (hmmm, maybe I'm saying too much). He was the greatest, I hadn't had a non-sexual man crush like this since Hee Sop Choi (I'm still mad about that). And then...the fall. I'm not ready to talk about it yet. Once again, I was forced in the offseason to pretend yet another team of mine didn't exist. Sort of like the last two devistating years with...

The Cubs: I don't think there is an need to discuss them here. But, I will say this. My lovely wife and I are back in Chicago, we are here to enjoy a full season in Wrigleyville...there has never been a better time for the Cubs to win it all. Lets Go Cubbies!!!!!!

P.S. we are playing our arch rivals in volleyball tonight. Send some good Karma my way so I can report back with a stuning victory.

Saturday, February 26, 2005


Rant on Religion

I have added a new link to the left hand column. The Dad-in-Law has started pouring his many thoughts (rants) on God and religion into the blogosphere.

We've all been exposed to the arguments for religion (unless you have been living in a bunker eating only processed cheese and canned tuna). They are present everywhere you turn - billboards, commercials...the government (*cough* dubya *cough*). But very few of the non-believers ever bother to articulate their concerns regarding religion, whether it be because of apathy, fear of reproach, or lack of an outlet for their thoughts. But the Dad-in-Law has never been one of these people, a person who is particularily shy about expressing his views on religion and God (or the lack thereof).

Whether you believe in God, have no need for God, or have never given it much thought - this blog is a great primer on Atheist thought. The arguments are well thought out and quite reasonable. Go, check it out, and start and argument or two (it is long, but you can always read some of it and then come back later). Everyone loves to debate religion...right?

Note: I'll be back with a sports related post tomorrow, I promise.

Friday, February 25, 2005


I've got a golden ticket!

I just got through at the cubs online ticket office and scored tickets to opening day! Woo Hoo! I've never been before, so I'm pretty stoked.

section 506, row 3, seats 102-105.

It's Yak-Zee's in the morning and on to the game in the afternoon. Hot Dog!


With the news that Wood is starting opening day, we have also found out that Big Z will be starting on the Cubs home opener. That is good news, as he rules.

I'm just going to keep posting personal updates until something happens in baseball.

37 days, 16 hours, 37 minutes, 45 seconds until opening day. 44...43...42...41...40....

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Why em see, eh?

I know that my loyal band of readers looks up at me as, well, a hero I suppose. I feel a sense of responsibility to not disappoint my readers, as I know that many of you live vicariously through my various adventures (I'm sort of the Indiana Jones of the blogosphere - except that I report Cub news. And I don't have a hat).

So it is my hope that you, the reader, aren't too disppointed when I tell you that I'm not a very big guy. I'm more tall and skinny (think the smart kid on NBC's "Joey") than strong and athletic (, Joey). Just to give you an idea, here's a recent picture of me. Now don't get me wrong, I'd like to be stronger...I'd like to look like this. And how does one get stronger...join a gym! The problem is, most gyms remind me of this. But, I've found a secret that not many people know about. Did you know, young man, that it's fun to stay at the YMCA? That's right, I've joined the Lakeview YMCA, and it is a very nice gym. I'm totally going to be a macho, macho man.

It is different though. They have all the usual equipment: free weights, machines, elliptical thingies...everything you need to get enormous. I've worked out there for three days this last week, and I'm already starting to see some results. I won't lie to you, I'm a beast now. But it is weird sometimes. I mean, the Indian Chief is nice, but he's a starer and the Construction Worker, while certianly friendly, always hogs all the good machines. The worst, though, is the Leather Biker Guy - a total Chatty Cathy - always talking and talking and talking. I mean, I'm hitting the bench press pretty hard. I'm stacking up the weights - a five-spot on each side (beefcake!) - and he just goes on and on about how great the Navy is and how I can sail the seven seas...put my mind at ease...all that crap.

But seriously, it is a pretty sweet place to work out. People aren't trying to pick each other up (I mean for dates, not literally. Well, neither, I guess. Although that would be impressive. Sorry, I'm babbling) and mostly people just go about their business. I have yet to see the usual annoying gym behavior. A great alternative to Bally's and all those gyms stand for.


Look to the left...

No, this is not Liberal propaganda (although liberal propaganda is my very favorite type of propaganda). It is my attempt at getting you to swivel your eyes to the left and peruse the links I have made available. Most of the usual stuff is there - espn, baseball primer, tribune and suntimes - but there are also a few other things of interest.

The long list of blogs is, as it says, the Cubs Blog Army (the only army to which I would consider lending myself). Also over there is a link to WorldlyGossip, a blog by a lovely lady that also lives at the corner of Grace and Wayne, and talks about things that are much more important than pithy cubs observations/musings (like running, politics, and some other good stuff).

Also over there (look left again) is a link to the Official Iliad Reading of "From the Corner of Grace and Wayne." The good people over at, in an apparent fit of insanity, decided to read through the Iliad and sort of summarize/comment on it. It is one of the funnier things I have read, and once you are done, you too can wax philosophical about Homer and his Muse. I'm sure you have found yourself in the same position that I often do. You are at a party and someone starts discussing the Curse of the House of Atreus and you just stare back blankly. I know; I've been there. So do yourself a favor and check it out. There is also some great poetry over there too, so take a look.

Anyway, if you like what you read here, you will probably like what you read over at those two sites.

Finally, you can always see what I am reading and have read (plus a horribly written review of the book I finish). Both of the books that I list over there (look to the left again) are exceptional. Very, very good books. Read them. Now.

Anyway, that's all.



Yesterday, the lovely Missus over at Grace and Wayne accused me (with a somewhat suprised expression. That is, suprised I'm such an idiot) of not liking Hollandsworth. Why would I not like him, when he was so good for us last year? Just to be clear: I like Hollandsworth. I mean, I've had limitted correspondence with the man, but he seems alright. But, to paraphrase Inigo Montoya, "You seem a decent enough fellow, I hate to platoon you."

Hollandsworth brings a decent game to the table. He has moderate power, he's a solid defender, and (at least to my keen eye) an excellent baserunner (read: the anti-Alou). I'm not a big fan of his haircut (a little mulletty) but I can overlook that. All that aside, to be used optimally, he should be used at most in a platoon situation, where DuBois/Hairston get all the AB's vs. lefties. Otherwise, his numbers and health aren't going to hold up. I would go farther than that, and suggest that he should be used in less than a platton situation. He is an extremely valuable bat off the bench (lefties with power come in handy in the late innings) and can also spell Lee at first (L-E-E A-T F-I-R-S-T. get it, "spell Lee at first." I kill me) , Patterson in center, and Burnitz in right. This would get him plenty of AB's, strengthen our bench, and we can get Hairston in the leadoff position as much as possible, shifting Kid Korey down in the lineup.

That is all I was saying. There is nothing wrong with Hollandsworth. He is who he is and I just want Dusty to optimize his value to the team.

On another (old) note, I posted an entry regarding how Prior excelled late in the season, not because of the Bako-factor, but rather because of the "snappy curve/popping fastball" factor. Turns out Mr. Prior doesn't agree with me (Sun Times article). Now, I believe that Prior had better communication with Bako. I mean, I suppose Mark knows a little better than I do. A little. But still, I don't think that is the reason for Prior's resurgence at the end of the season. He had spent the first part of his return recovering from an injury, battling inconsistency and an inability to locate his pitches. He was clearly not the 2003 Prior. However, it all came together the last five games of the season. While I think a lot of this was physical, I concede that there was probably also a fairly large psycological factor at play here, as Prior was more at ease pitching to a familiar face. At being said, I think it could have been anyone he was familiar with catching. I just don't see anything special with Bako, and there is not familiarity excuse with Blanco this year, so Barrett should get the call to action for all of Prior's starts. I mean, who are you going to trust, me or Prior?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Sandberg to retire

oh wait, I meant to say that the Cubs are going to retire Sandberg's number.

When Chicagoans think of the number 23, only one name leaps to mind, and so it's great that they are retiring his number.

What? There was another 23? Well sure there was, but Robin Ventura hasn't played for the White Sox in years. What would make you think of him?


Leading off, For the Cubs...

Number 20, Corey Patterson (son...son...son)

An interesting article on today regarding several Cubs, one of which (hopefully you guessed from the title) is little Corey Patterson.

For the benefit of my faithful readers, I've clipped the relevant passages from the article mentioned above:

Top of the order: Corey Patterson met with Brett Butler this winter and discussed the philosophy of being a good leadoff hitter. Butler had a career .377 on-base percentage, including a personal high .413 in 1992 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"All we talked about was keeping things simple and narrowing your zone up and knowing what you're looking for in certain counts and certain situations," Patterson said. "It's not really rocket science -- and sometimes we make it hard. That was it. It was about focus and concentration and knowing what to do throughout the course of the season.

"It's a tough position," Patterson said. "At home, you're going to get up four times a game and on the road probably five. That's a lot of plate appearances. You've got to take care of yourself and [know] who to listen to. To me, there aren't a whole lot of great leadoff hitters in the game. He's one of them. He knows when to push the gas pedal, when to back off. We had a good conversation and it definitely helped me."

Patterson has been working with hitting coach Gene Clines on his approach this spring, and Baker said he was happy with the progress by the center fielder, who had 16 bunt base hits last season.

"I think I did a good job bunting last year," Patterson said.

Couple the above with this passage from this Sun Times article:

IN THE LEAD: Baker said Todd Hollandsworth has the edge on newcomer Jerry Hairston Jr. to be the Opening Day left fielder. That means center fielder Corey Patterson is likely to bat leadoff.

"Hairston hasn't played much outfield,'' Baker said. "He's more of a second baseman, so Hollandsworth has the inside track on most of the playing time. That's not a surprise. It's a matter of keeping him healthy and strong.''

That's a lot of info so I'll sum up. Basically, this negates my entire entry regarding Hairston leading off...or playing left...or existing in anything beyond the peripheral vision of Fearless Leader (I mean the manager of the Cubs, not of Boris and Natasha).

There is some encouraging stuff here. Patterson seems to be getting advice from the right person - sort of. Butler was very good at getting on base, which is something Corey really needs to work on. However, in this little snippet, at no point does he mention getting on base. He mentiones not getting tired out, bunting more (and Butler was the absolute master of bunting) and in yet another article, this time in the Trib, he mentions not striking out as much. None of these are bad things in a vacuum (hell, none of these are bad regardless of the Barometer) but they sort of skirt the big issue. Corey's fast, he's powerful, he's younger than me...but he doesn't get on base much. And that, my friends, is the true key to being a truly great leadoff hitter.

Oh, and one more thing on this subject: If Corey loses his power for the sake of a couple of strikeouts, I will club Baker to death (just kidding, I'm a passivist, I would never do that. But I might write a snippy letter to the Tribune). I was always a big Brett Butler fan, but he hit like a little girl. Patterson has the potential to put up a long string of 30-30 seasons.

The other part of the article deals with Hairston, Hollandsworth, and DuBois (who? what? who's that?). Dusty, in all his wisdom, promised Hollandsworth the majority of the playing time in left before the Cubs acquired Hairston. He has followed that up by spending the spring poining out reasons why Holly's the only choice for the job. To wit:

*clears throat*

item 1) DuBois is a sloppy defender and poor baserunner (after watching Alou I thought that was a requisit for the job)
item2) Hairston is a second baseman (although he played mostly in left last year).

So now Hollandsworth (he of the .336 lifetime on base percentage and having only played more than 100 games 4 times in his career) is going to swallowing up 80% of the left field AB's. And given that Walker's been promised the majority of games at second, Hairston and DuBois are going to have plenty of time on their hands. They've got the time - and so if they have the dedication - they could become one hell of Pinocchle partnership.

Monday, February 21, 2005


Do I look fat in this uni?

It appears that I should have purchased stock in Jenny Craig before the start of the season, because she is doing one hell of a job on baseball's finest.

Several players are reporting to camp with significant weight loss, most of whom have been implicated in one way or another with steriods.

A few of the suspects of note:

Our own Joe Borowski - Say it ain't so, Joe! In the off season there were mumblings of players heading into the Mexican Leagues and "bulking up." Borowski was a minor league washout, spent some time in the Mexican leagues, and made a triumphant return as a thirty save man with the Boys in Blue. Then, this off season, he managed to drop 15 lbs while rehabbing his shoulder. The implications have been winging around all winter that weight loss = 'roid rage recovery. However, with JoBo I have my doubts. I think his glory days have everything to do with having a hell of a slider, and his weight loss is due almost entirely to laying off the other sliders. He was never exactly a slim fella.

However, that is not true for all...

o-e-o Magglio - Ordonez has also dropped 15 lbs while rehabbing a severe knee problem. Again, I guess he could have lost all of this weight due to not being particularly mobile this winter (although I find weight loss is not usually what I experience when I remain non-ambulatory) but the question for Maggs is: where did all the weight come from. I only saw him play during a few Cross-Towm Classics this year, but he seemed a fine athletic specimen...not bearing an resemblence to the Michelin Man. However, the only "S" word that Maggs has been associated with during his career is "SouthSider" and that is bad enough that he needs no other "S"-words attached to his reputation.

Pudge Rodriguez - Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez has reported to Spring Training a whopping 22 lbs under last year's playing weight. This alone is pretty impressive, but it draws even more attention once one realizes that he is one of the players featured in Jose Canseco's book: "Steroids and me: A Love Story." I don't ever recall Pudge being all that pudgy, and so I'm not entirely sure how one loses 22 lbs of muscle in one winter. I imagine that there might be some rumblings about the Tigers camp this spring.

Finally, I have managed to obtain information from sources close to the Giants that Barry Bonds has also managed to lose an impressive 38 lbs this offseason, all from his head. Here's a shot of him before batting practice. you be the judge.

Sunday, February 20, 2005


The Weather may be cold, but the news is HOT

(sung to the meow-mix theme)
news news news news
news news news news
news news news news NEWS news news news




Ugueth Urbina's Mother Rescued in Venezuela

Urbina's mother was apparently being held in the jungle, surrounded with explosives to keep her from fleeing. This was a horrible ordeal for the entire Urbina family, and much more important than anything happening between the lines.

On the other hand, this is a baseball blog, and this rescue mission does have baseball implications. In fact, it offers a great opportunity for some idle speculation. The Tigers acquired Troy Percival this offseason, taking Urbina's spot in the coveted closer's role. Urbina is making lots of money (6 million/year) and has been made redundant as well as overpaid. All those factors slung together would seem to indicate that the flames of trade should start nipping at Urbina's backside.

The Cubs were rumored to be interested in Urbina during the offseason, but talk was sort of squelched by the realization that nobody knew how Urbina's situation would be resolved. However, now that he is most probably available, let's speculate idly the cons and pros of an Urbina acquisition.

-Urbina is not really great anymore - Ugueth has had some great seasons (like 1998 and 2003) but unfortunately Urbina - wait a minute - 1998 and 2003??? Those are the last years that the Cubs made the playoffs. That has to mean something.
-Urbina's ERA last year was exactly league average and he only pitched 54 innings. Hardly seems great for so much money.
-Possesses large quantities of "Magic Closure Pixie Dust"TM
-Has totally sweet name:
Ugueth Urtain Urbina Villarreal.

So, in reality, he probably wouldn't be a great guy to get, especially considering he would cost us a pretty prospect. However, not everyone operates in the reality based community, including one
Johnnie B. Baker Jr. Personally, I want to make things as easy for ol' Dusty as possible, and part of that is giving him an obvious closer candidate. That shifts a healthy JoBo and Hawkins down in the 7th and 8th innings, where they will probably be put into more important situations anyway. Let UUU come into the 9th with nobody on and use Hawkins with the bases loaded and the tying run on second in the 8th. Personally, I think we can stretch out a few more wins that way.

Patterson and Hairston at top of order?

The Sun Times is speculating on the possibility of having both Patterson and Hairston at the top of the order. I like that they are trying to think outside the box a bit, but I think they have it a little wrong. I am actually all for Hairston playing in left. I would like to see him lead off followed by Walker. However, the point of the Sun Times article was more that Patterson and Hairston were fast, rather than that they would get on base. Speed is all well and good, but I'm required to say that you can't steal first, and Patterson makes and awful lot of abrupt right turns before he makes it to first.

Before my readership turns on me (yes, I mean you, reader), I don't think I'm entirely crazy in having Hairston play left. First, let's accept that Dubois isn't going to play more than a few games in the outfield this year. I think that is a given. That puts left field between Hollandsworth and Hairston. I'm going to say that the defense is comparable, because I have no idea. That leaves offense: Hollandsworth has more power; Hairston has a high OBP & more speed. OBP has been found (and no, I have no references) to be more closely correlated with runs. Power is good, but not if there is nobody on base. As an added bonus, Hollandworth not starting means we have him coming off the bench, where he excelled last year.

So, my prescription for the Cubs is to start Hairston 80% of the time and lead him off, followed by Walker. Those two and going to get on base the most often, and Hairston can even steal the occasional base. Patterson can hit down in the order. He has easy 30 hr pop, and will still steal 30 or so bases. I'm hoping having a bit more OBP at the top of the order will help the cubs be a bit more consistent in the run scoring department.

No how's that for blind optimism.

Friday, February 18, 2005


Thoughts while sitting in Friday Traffic...

First off, I would like to thank Byron of The Cubdom and Cubs Blog Army for announcing on his site my arrival to blogging. He runs a great site (two of them, actually) and is kind enough to lend help to those of us who wish to get our ideas out. Plus, he is a fellow IU Hoosier, which puts him firmly on the side of good.

And with that...

Heard on the Steve Dahl Show:

Nipped in the Bud

A woman was fired from here job at the zoo for refusing to show one of her breasts to a gorilla. -News Man Buzz Killman

Apparently, the site of a breast is comforting to the ape. Ladies and Gentlemen, I think we have found the missing link. I mean, who among us doesn't find just a little comfort...well, nevermind.

But I think the more interesting point is, what did the job description look like? If I applied for a job and saw the list of responsibilities included:

- Clean small animal carcasses from Lion cage.
- hose down elephants
- flash jubblies at monkey

I'm thinking...I'm going to be ready to party, or I'm going to move on.

Also heard on Steve Dahl:

Military to use Ecstacy to treat Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome:

Really? Because, you know, ever since Brad and Jen broke up, I've been feeling a little stressed myself...

But seriously, I think it is nice that the government is slipping the soldiers a little action. After all, the government is the reason these soldiers had to fight in a completely unnecessary and unjustified war. The least they could do is compensate them. I wonder what they are going to do for the soldiers who end up fighting the Iran war...crack? PCP?

Final thought for the day...

(from the movie Stand by Me [paraphrased])

So, Goofy and Pluto are both dogs. Why does Goofy stand on two legs and talk while Pluto walks on four legs and can only bark?

What's up with that?


The Bullpen...

The bullpen has been a source of great consternation among everyone not named Jim Hendry. The question is: is all the concern warranted, or is this just a case of fans and pundits overreacting?

The answer: um...

Anyway, the bullpen has seen some turnover. Not enough turnover, but some turnover nonetheless.

Out (not that there's anything wrong with that)
Captain Tightpants
Kent Merker

Roberto Novoa
Stephen Randolph

Here to Stay
Ryan Dempster

...And the Rest
Michael Wuertz
Todd Wellemeyer
John Leicester
Will Ohman
Sergio Mitre

The Sleepers
Angel Guzman
Jermaine Van Buren
Jessica Simpson

Holy crap, that was a lot of work. And I haven't even started the "analysis". Okay, starting with those that have left this Wrigley coil: The King of Form-Fitting Trousers and Steve Stone's Mortal Enemy. Regarding TKFFT, I'm contractually obligated by the Collective Bargaining Agreement of the Cubs Blog Army (That's the CBA of the CBA fwiw, btw) to state that Farnsy is the quintessential "million dollar arm, ten cent head". I'm thinking that if he simply had 10 dollar control plus an 8 dollar slider to go with the million dollar arm, we could ignore the 10 cent head and Capitaine Pantalon Serré would be the closer du jour (get a French-English dictionary, mon amie). As far as Merker goes, I'm just glad he goes...away. I just wish it wasn't packaged with the Sultan of Dry-Wit, Steve Stone.

For the new arrivals, I'm pretty sure Randolph was brought in to bolster the bench. Last year he managed a nifty .417 (BA) .417 (OBP) .667 (SLG) line for a 1084 ops. This would be better than any Cub regular sported last year. I imagine that he has a fairly strong arm (he is a pitcher...technically), so I would suggest he take over right field for Sammy, except that I doubt he would have any more success hitting the cutoff man than did Sammy, given evidence by the fact that Randolph walked 76 batters while striking out 62 (I just threw up a little in my mouth). I mean, kripes, I exhibit more control at a Star Wars convention (you see, I'm a big nerd...get it?). Regarding Novoa, my only comment is that I had been pronouncing his name "Nova" in my head, which made me think of a Chevy Nova, so from now one Novoa will be Roberto "Chevy" Novoa (Eat that Berman).

For those members of the 'pen that are here to stay, I have nothing much to say. Hawkins gets a pass on this website as he is one of the few Fort Wayne Wizards I remember from my High Schools days, along with Torii Hunter and Matt Lawton. So I won't say anything bad about him (*cough* choke artist *cough*). I hear rumblings that JoBo is 100% but that is only at a 95% confidence level with a sampling error of +/- 3 percent. JoBo has apparently dropped 15 lbs or so as he has exchanged daily trips to the Sizzler for Seattle Sutton (please ignore rumors that he dropped all that weight by simply removing the syringe from his buttock, we like JoBo). I would personally like JoBo to return to his roll as closer, if nothing else just to keep LaTroy and Dempster out of that role. Hey, speaking of Dempster - STOP WALKING PEOPLE. Remlinger is your typical LOOGY (Lefty One Out GuY) except that he can't get lefties out. But hey, why should that affect how Dusty uses him. He's a left, dammit, and lefties pitch against lefties! Relieving is between a lefty and a lefty, and anything else is simply unnatural and just...gross. I mean, I'm not prejudiced or anything...I have friends that are lefties.

And now, the rest of the Bullpen. I have high hopes that lots of these guys can surpass most of the pitchers I have listed above. I especially like Leicester. He has a solid fastball and slider combo that was pretty effective last year with almost a strikeout per inning and pretty solid control (a 2.3:1 K:W ratio). Wellemeyer I like less, but still hold out hope for, and he struck out a whopping 11 men per 9 innings (!) but walked everyone else. The strikeouts make me happy :) but the walks make me sad :( , the combination of which makes me :|

Who else...Ohman is a lefty with a good track record in the minors (excepting time he missed due to injury...and it's always a good idea to ignore an injury history with young pitchers) and had something like 15 K/9 in the winter leagues (!!). Michael Wuertz had an up and down season last year, getting lots of grounders but also giving up plenty of taters (or tahters if you're british...or snobby). I like for Wuertz to have a quasi-breakout season...the diet coke of breakout seasons, if you will. As for Mitre, Hendry paid him some lips service this offseason (get your mind out of the gutter) but I seriously doubt that he will crack the bullpen. They seem to have it in their collective heads that Mitre is a starter not a reliever. Same goes for Guzman, who also will not crack the club because they want him to recover from his surgery last season. Look for him to pop up to the majors in the unlikely event that a Cub pitcher gets injured (must...keep...straight...face). Van Buren had success last year in the minors in the closer role, and I would like to see him break with the big club this year, but I sort of doubt it. Look for him in AAA this season.

That is all I have to say regarding the Bullpen. I would say that I have high hopes for the pen, but then I remember that Dusty is our manager, and all that goes out the window. He manages a bullpen about as well as I manage my personal finances which is to say the only reason I'm not living at the Y while praying for one of my "investments " to pan out is because my wife is very smart...I don't even know where my checkbook is.


A quick post

I'm sort of pressed on a deadline to get a paper out, but I thought I'd leave all my loyal and, dare I say, fanatical readers a thought for the day to warm them.

What if god was one of us, just a stranger on the bus...that would be pretty stupid.

Are you wam yet?

how about now?

Thursday, February 17, 2005


Barrett vs. Bako vs. Blanco vs. Old Lady with Cane

Last year the Cubs employed an effective catching tandem in Michael Barrett and Paul Bako. Barrett's main assett he brought to the game was a pretty good stick (no giggling) and Bako's best feature was that his last name rhymes with Taco. Bako was brought in as personal catcher/caddy for Maddux and proceeded to be out-slugged by Carlos Zambrano, Glendon Rusch and the entire Lakeview "Senior Living" Slow-Pitch Softball team.

His main assett was his defense...apparently. I mean, it pretty much had to be. He did throw out a whopping 29.4 % of runners that attempted to steal, just slightly below league average. Actually, this is not too bad considering he was catching Maddux most of the time. He only had one pass ball, which is nice, but then again he was catching Maddux, the patron saint of control. Barrett, on the other hand, threw out only 25% of runners and committed 8 passed balls. He also had an OPS of 826 as opposed to Bako's 571. Without doing a sophisticated analysis, it seems to me that Barrett is pretty alright, and Bako is...not. But that is why Bako is the backup and Barrett is the starter.

But my main concern is that people will be too down on Barrett because of a magical time period where Bako caught Mark Prior. During this stretch (coincidentally, also during "the stretch") Prior was on fire, with an era of 1.somethinglow and a bagillion or so strikeouts. He was quite impressive. Prior, I mean, not Bako. Prior could have been throwing to the late Abe Vigoda and he would have been fine. The fact that Prior started missing bats by locating his fastball and finally snapping off a few curves can be attributed more to the healing process, I think, than the healing words of Gabor.

The Cubs' new backup catcher, Henry the White, will hit about as well as Bako and has a strong arm to boot. I don't have much to say about him except that it is nice to still have someone around to make us appreciate Barrett's offense.

The point of this exercise is to point out that, unless it's Maddux's day to play catch, Barrett should be catching. Having a Blanco-esque bat in the linuep more than once a week is simply too much. Prior should be fully healthy at the beginning of the season, and unless he starts the season out more like Mark Clark circa 1999 than Mark Prior circa 2003, Barrett is the man.

...personally,I would prefer a backup catcher that can do some real damage, someone with some real veteran presence, someone like...Betty


Evaluating the Upcoming Season (or Optimism Bubbles Up)

I can't say that I dislike the offseason. In fact, I would go so far as to say I indeed like it. Trade talk and rumors combine with quart after quart of coffee to propel me through the bitter Chicago winter and into the sweet, sweet summer. That being said, thank god that the offseason is over.

I have never heard such pessimism as that which permeated the Cub community this winter. I mean, I think we can all agree that last season never happened. Many beers were diluted with tears (hey that rhymes!) after a booted and bartman'd ball (I'm on fire!), followed by a deep slumber, and hey - it's 2005. That being said, I will not be wasting any time dwelling on that which never happened.

Cubs v.2005 is going to be a good team. Let's not forget the Cubs had a 94-68 Pythagorean record last year, and that included a big, festering, vomitous mass in the middle of the diamond for half the season before - like the phoenix rising from the spewdom - the savior arrived - oops, try that again - the savior arrived. I'm looking forward to a big season out of Fidgety McTwitch-a-lot.

Another reason for optimism: (WARNING: Anecdotal evidence to follow) The Cubs were poor (read: sucked) with runners on third and less than 2 outs. It was remarkable really. They were even worse with the bases loaded and less than two outs. (I have no stats to back this up, btw) This cannot possibly continue into next year. I mean, there would have to be some sort of - I don't know - curse or something for luck like this to continue into 2005. And, as a member of the Physics community, I'm not capable of believing in superstitious nonsense like curses (besides, I'll have my lucky cap on all season, and cap beats curse like rock crushing scissors).

I will now go back to anxiously awaiting the season to start.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Up and running

After years of lurking at various blogs (Cub Reporter, Primer, etc), I have finally decided to post a blog of my own. I figured, if someone doesn't do something, this whole blogging thing isn't going to catch on. So I'm here to do my part.

Pitchers and catchers have officially reported today, and so here too am I, reporting to duty for the Cubs Blog Army.

I have to catch up on the off season though, as I missed out on a few things:

1) I hear rumors that Sammy might be heading to the Mets for Cliff Floyd
2) Word is Sammy might be going to the Nationals for Termel Sledge
3) Turns out Sammy is sticking with the Cubs, we all love Sammy
4) World's fattest man weds worlds smallest woman
5) Sammy is finally traded!

Now that that is taken care of...Lets Play Ball!

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