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.

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