Monday, January 24, 2005

Random musings…

Congratulations to Al Yellon for a well deserved “Best Cubs Blog” award of 2004 from the recent poll conducted by The View from the Bleachers. As I have said repeatedly, I believe that Al Yellon has the finest Cubs blog of them all, which is 1) why I voted repeatedly for him in this poll, and 2) why he heads the list of the CBA on the sidebar of this site. He has interesting insights, and he shares his experiences from personally attending every home game (!), which allows the rest of us to vicariously live out this dream existence. As an added bonus, he is intransigently superstitious – and he always provides me with a good chuckle on this front – in fact he was the motivation behind this post, written early last year after the infamous Bartman ball was blown to smithereens. Al seems like a genuinely fine person, and it’s a pleasure to read his blog every day! Keep up the great work Al!

On another front, Dusty Baker announced at the Cubs Convention that kkkorey Patterson would be his leadoff man, which caused much consternation and hand wringing by Chuck at Ivy Chat and yours truly.

That’s just what this franchise needs – the gentleman who led the team in strikeouts last year leading off! At least he is a threat to steal bases and create havoc once on base we’re told. The problem, of course, with this reasoning is that he actually needs to get on base to create havoc (his .320 OBP last year was the lowest among the regular starters in case you were wondering). Once he is down in the count – you can forget about it, he is virtually guaranteed to strike out. Let me ask you - Is this the profile of a player who should be seeing the majority of at-bats for this team? I, for one, think not.

Knowing Dusty, however, I think we’re going to be extremely frustrated as a fine hitter like Nomar will probably be sandwiched between kkkorey and Sosa, which will be a recipe for 1) another year of a high percentage of stranded runners, 2) a general lack of offensive synergy (see #1), and most importantly – 3) a lack of run production (see nos. #1 & 2).

When you get right down to it, I am not optimistic about next year folks. I agree completely with Chris De Luca’s analysis in today’s Sun-Times:

Outlook: Mark Prior and Kerry Wood combined for a 14-13 record. They must stay healthy and be more consistent. Carlos Zambrano and Greg Maddux were the two horses of the rotation. Unlike last season, the fifth spot is up for grabs, and the Cubs will be auditioning for a closer in spring training. Strikeout-prone Corey Patterson will be the leadoff hitter. The middle infield is more stable with shortstop Nomar Garciaparra on hand for a full season and Todd Walker full-time at second base. Alou's loss and a declining Sammy Sosa will change the way pitchers work power threats Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee.

Bottom line: This is a weaker team than what the Cubs opened with last season.

It might be difficult for Prior and Wood to improve their records – especially if they are subject to the same cruel ignominy Matt Clement endured last year – little to no run support. How I would love to be proven wrong on this, but pessimism currently rules the day here at the PNR. Acquiring Magg$ would improve things somewhat, but the Cardinals are still the favorites to win the central in my opinion – with the Cubs a long shot to win the wildcard.


Oh, and will the 2 co-bloggers who haven't replied to my recent email please reply so we can get this roundtable thing off the ground?

:-/ X 2