Sunday, July 31, 2005

Farnsworth to the Braves

From MLB.com:

The Braves announced after their game against the Pirates today that they acquired right-handed reliever Kyle Farnsworth from Detroit, in exchange for right-handed pitchers Zach Miner and Roman Colon

Gerut for Lawton

The Cubs traded away short-lived Jody Gerut for Pittsburgh Pirate Matt Lawton. Lawton is sporting an AVG/OBP/SLG of .273/.380/.433 which looks pretty good for a potential leadoff hitter. Lawton has also stolen 16 bases although he has been caught 9 times.

Hollandsworth's .249/.301/.388 can be used more sparingly from the bench. This would have been more uplifting to me two days ago. After these last two games, I'm not feeling too excited. Hopefully the Cubs will pick up some momentum with this trade and build on that with the addition of Garciaparra, Wood, and Williamson on Friday.


At least someone is hopeful...

The following comments are from Cubs GM Jim Hendry, yesterday, and with regard to the anticipated return of Wood, Garciaparra, and the addition of Williamson:

As for the roster, things have a way of taking care of themselves. We just have to play well for the five days. Hopefully we will get a big lift from them. You know, obviously we're hoping Woody will give us a big lift in the pen. He threw very well the last two pens here with no discomfort. Scott, you never know how that's going to go. He's throwing very well - he's been working steadily at 90-93, working mostly at 92s. His slider is pretty good. Hopefully, we can get good fortune like we did last year with Ryan Dempster. Scott has already spent his whole career in the 8th and 9th innings, so it wouldn't be the same adjustment that Ryan had to come back.

For Nomar, Oneri (Fleita) was with him in Peoria and he really showed no signs of any problems. He looked just like the guy moving around in spring training. Obviously, we wanted to get him a few more at-bats. He's chomping at the bit to go now, but you do need more than 7 or 8 at-bats. Hopefully, we'll get a good taste of the old Nomar and that will give us a big, big boost.

As far as the roster goes, you know you might have some ideas today of how you're going to do it, but that can change by Friday. Somebody else could come down with some tendinitis and make the pitching decisions easier. I'm not really worried about it. I'm very hopeful that they will all come back and be at least a great percentage of what you would expect them to be.


I've bolded every time he used some form of the word hope in that statement. As you can see, there's a lot of hope, apparently, at 1060 W. Addison these days.

Is such hope, well founded? Well, Here are just a few of the questions I have:

How long will it take Nomar to get back into full form? And how long do the Cubs have, exactly, in terms of making a move up the wild card ladder? If you'll recall, it took Grudzie about two months to finally get back to form when he came back from his achilles injury last year, while a capable Todd Walker wasted away on the bench.

What about Wood and Williamson? Well, hope is about all you've got with these two very uncertain propositions - Wood out of the pen (never done or even attempted) and Williamson returning from Tommy John (Dempster certainly didn't have the form when he returned last August that he has now).

Is this uncertainty what Hendry is pinning his hope on? Hope for what? The playoffs this year? Are you kidding me? Is Nomar going to instantly transform this team so that they can consistently put together hits and runs? Will Wood and Williamson pitch perfectly out of the pen (which is what this team needs with the razor thin margins this offense produces)?

Surviving what exactly...

More Jim Hendry comments, from Friday's Tribune:

Hendry said the Cubs could survive with what they have, especially if Garciaparra returns successfully from surgery in another week. "Nomar's a pretty good hitter," Hendry said when asked if he absolutely needed one more bat. "Hopefully we can do something by Sunday, but it's not a situation where [we're] desperate."


I'm not sure what context he is using the term survive, because clearly he cannot be talking about the team surviving the playoff race.

I can only conclude that Jim Hendry must have been referring to his job when he talked about being able to "survive" when these three join the roster later this week. After all, someone has to begin to ask questions about the effectiveness of a GM who has cobbled together a team that is near the top of the league in payroll and yet struggles to hover around .500.

So the question is - is he right?

Will the addition of these three enable Hendry to survive another year of high salaries and mediocre results?

Most probably. Blind faith Cubs fans (with apologies in advance to Al) have proven themselves particularly astute at enabling an inept franchise whose only true skill seems to be an uncanny ability to consistently produce substandard teams.

I can dream can't I?

No I'm not talking about the Cubs adding Super star Manny Ramirez (although that would be nice), I'm talking about the Cubs losing Dusty Baker. This would be addition by subtraction in my opinion. From the Los Angeles Times:

Dusty Baker would like to return to Los Angeles to manage the Dodgers, according to a person close to the Chicago Cub manager.

Baker, who played eight seasons for the Dodgers, is unhappy in Chicago, where he has managed the Cubs for 2 1/2 years, the source said. Baker has 1 1/2 years left on a contract that coincides with current Dodger manager Jim Tracy's, though Tracy could opt out of his contract after this season.

According to the 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."

That would be a departure from Baker's previous feelings about the Dodgers.

When he left the organization for San Francisco after the 1983 season, Baker believed he had been betrayed by rumors of drug involvement and once vowed to never work for the Dodgers again.

Presumably, Tracy will manage the Dodgers for at least another season.

While there are signs that Tracy and General Manager Paul DePodesta don't always share common baseball philosophies (Hee-Seop Choi's participation, for one), DePodesta appears satisfied with Tracy's work.

The body of evidence, so far, says Tracy stays through 2006, the end of his two-year extension.

Baker managed the San Francisco Giants for 10 seasons that included three postseason appearances and one World Series.

After the 2002 season, he signed a four-year, $15-million contract to manage the Cubs, and came within a win of the World Series in his first season in Chicago.

Those who know Baker often have put his final job in Arizona, where he would work for Jeff Moorad, his longtime friend and agent who now is a general partner there.


Perhaps we could pray that Tracy opts out of his final year and the Cubs release Baker. I'd be willing to bet that DePodesta is dumb enough to take him.

And for all those who think the Cubs are making the playoffs - when you struggle at home to split series with sub .500 teams, you're probably going to have problems both at home and on the road with quality teams like the Cardinals, Astros, and Braves (24 games remaining with those three teams).

And even though Nomar, Wood, and Williamson will [allegedly] be on the squad by the end of this week, their impact can be summarizd by four simple words:

Too little, too late.

If you haven't already, start thinking about next year [again], and pray that this non-managing manager flies the coup for the greener pastures of LA.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Below .500 and Win Your Division

A week or so ago Chris and I were talking about a team winning the division with a record below .500. In my opinion, with the divisions watered down so much now thanks to Chris' boy Bud Selig, sooner or later it will happen. Sooner may be this season, the San Diego Padres lead the NL West by 2 games, with a 51-52 record. Granted it is just July 30th, but there is only two months to go. It could happen this season. What a joke the MLB playoffs would be then with a team below .500 in the playoffs. Baseball would be as bad as the NBA, great job Bud.

FROM THE RED STATES

Well, I don't know if the St. Louis Cardinal players are starting to sweat, but I know one fan who is a nervous wreck. From what I have seen from this team the past week, I don't think we could beat Sister's of the Poor in a 3 game series. Maybe if it were at Busch, but I doubt it. I guess it would depend on whether or not Carpenter was pitching.

The lead which was 13.5 games just 2 weekends ago, after sweeping the Astros, is now down to 8.5. The Astros have won 12 out of their last 13 games and cut that lead by 5 games in that time span. There is serious trouble in the Lou. I am afraid my beloved Cardinals are in danger of missing the postseason altogether. Thankfully, we built a sizable advantage, but the advantage seems to get smaller and smaller every day. I fully expect the Cardinals to be out of first place by September 1st.

The fact is we are entering the toughest part of our schedule, with upcoming series against Atlanta, Florida, and the Cubs. All while the Astros are looking like the 27 Yankees. With still 11 games against the Cubs, it is not out of the question that the Cubs might catch us as well. The Cardinals are in serious trouble. Fundamentally, we look like a little league team. With the exception of Carpenter, I have absolutely no confidence in any of our starters. The bullpen which was solid early on, really killed us in the Cubs series. The bench, well they are all starting right now, so there is no bench. Well, when you give up 7 runs to the Dodgers and lose, you have issues.

The fact is, the Cardinals as they are right now are just not that good of a team. When your starting lineup consists of Mike Mahoney, Scott Seabol, John Rodriguez, and John Gall things ain't looking too good. They look even worse when you second best everyday player in the lineup is Abraham Nunez. You heard it here first, the Astros will be in first place by September 1st, and the Cubs will be nipping at the heels of the Cardinals, bank on it.

Well on a happier note I enjoyed the pictures of Chris and Bill at "Wrigley Stadium". I am glad you guys enjoyed yourselves, as much as one could enjoy themselves at Wrigley. I am glad the roof didn't cave in on top of you, or a beligerant drunk didn't barf all over your seat.

Probably the main reason I hate the Cubs so much, is not just because I am a Cardinals fan, but because of that stupid ball park. I have never shared this with the readers on this blog, but I have been to Wrigley once in my life, and will never set foot in the place ever again. I was 9, and the year was 1984. I went with my parents and my sister to a Cubs/Cards game. The Cardinals jumped out to like a 7 run lead, only to have Bruce Sutter give up a HR to Sandberg in the 9th to tie the game, and then again in the 11th to win it. I got to see Wille McGee hit for the cycle, that was about the only redeeming thing about that game. I got to witness my dad and the drunken moron behind us get nose to nose, and chest to chest before the ushers and security broke it up. Why, well this clown called my sister, who was 8 at the time, a "bitch" for rooting for the Cardinals. Naturally, this didn't sit to well with the old man, and he let the dude know it.

The fact is the vast majority (not all) but definately a majority of Cub fans go to Wrigley, not for the baseball, but just simply to go to Wrigley, and get drunk. What's the difference between Cardinal fans and Cub fans, a Cardinal fan says "lets go watch the Cardinals game", where as a Cubs fan says, "let's go to Wrigley today." They could have dancing pink elephants at Wrigley and there would still be 30,000 people sitting in that dump getting wasted. Most Cub fans know this truth to. Most importantly, the Tribune Company knows this and that's why they don't do jack to put a winning team out there. They figure we will just put an average team, and make a killing selling beer to the 30,000 people who come here just to go to Wrigley.

Lets do a case study. Some lazy afternoon go to Wrigley and wait til about the 5th inning and go out into the bleachers. I'd be willing to bet if we went up to a hundred people, we couldn't find 10 that would know anything about the game, let alone the score, without looking up at the scoreboard. Those are my thoughts on "Wrigley Stadium." I know it is probably a little controversial here on a Cubs blog, but hey I say what I think, and I think Wrigley is a dump.

True, knowledgable baseball fans go to Busch to watch a game. I have been there probably 100 times in my life and I ain't never seen any Cardinal fan call a 8 yeard old girl a "bitch" just for rooting for the other team. Of all those games, and the ones I have watched on TV or listened on the radio in my life, which must put that well into a thousand Cardinal games at Busch Stadium, I can never remeber a fan interfering with a ball in play, ala Steve Bartman. I am not saying it ain't never happened, but I don't ever remember it happening. I have seen a ball in play rolling down the line and a fan start to reach out for it, then realize it was a fair ball and then pull his hand back.

But anyway enough of my ramblings on "Wrigley Stadium", Bill and Chris, I'm glad you had fun. If you want some real fun, sometime we should go to Busch for a game. As I like to say "a bad day at the ballpark, is better than a good day at work." Or "a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work", or "a bad day on the golf course, is better than a good day at work."

Friday, July 29, 2005

Chris & Bills' Almost Excellent Adventure



At this point Christopher is still smiling and optimistic (we haven't entered Wrigley yet).







That wonderful nostalgic scoreboard.
(Notice the flags indicate a good breeze in from right field.)











Chris & Bill behind 3rd base











Rothschild in search of talent.

Jerome is warming up.












Unfortunately this game reached its apex at this point. The Diamondback's second batter, Chad Tracy, crushed a ball through that stiff right field breeze to make it 1-0. Although he was in a jam in nearly every inning, which ran his pitch count up, Williams would only allow that run and deserved a better fate. The bull pen gave up 5 runs later and once again an anemic offense led to defeat.

Dag Nabbit!

ESPN is reporting (through the afternoon Sportscenter) that talks are ongoing between the Red Sox, Devil Rays (Chuck LeMar is a disgrace), and the Mets (is there no end to Omar Minaya's free spending madness?) for a trade that would send Aubrey Huff to the Red Sox, Manny Ramirez to the Mets and I can't remember whom to the Devil Rays.

How the Mets would be able to take on another $20 million per year contract after their free spending in the off season is beyond me. Minaya is starting to really peave me off.

If this goes down, it will be the second time this year that Minaya has snatched up a top player who Hendry was reportedly interested in. And in case you forgot, the Mets (who were just pitiful last year) are just as much in the wildcard race as the Cubs.

Do you think Minaya's aggressiveness has had anything to do with that dramatic turn around?

To trade or not to trade...

Well, As Camden mentioned earlier, Bill and I were at the Diamondbacks game yesterday. It was a beautiful(!) day, and it's always a treat to be at Wrigley, which is about all I can say positively about yesterday's game. Oh yeah, we enjoyed an excellent dinner at Portillo's on our way back to Peoria - I ordered the big beef with HOT peppers, a hot tamale, and a vanilla malt (Portillo's is one of the few places where you can actually taste the MALT in their malt shakes).

In any event, the Cubs stunk it up offensively, never managing more than one hit in any inning, but that's become somewhat commonplace for a team that has been wildly inconsistent this season. In fact, it seems that as AmRam and Lee go, so goes the fate of the Cubs. Yesterday those two posted an 0-6 line, which was also (interestingly enough) the final score of the game.

Well enough of that.

The question before us is whether the Cubs should be active before the fast approaching trade deadline. The most exciting rumors involve Manny Ramirez or Alfonso Soriano. In fact, this speculative reasoning from Desipio (far and away the finest Cubs related blog/media enterprise there is) is very interesting:

But Hendry’s thinking bigger than Soriano…he’s thinking Manny Ramirez. The problem isn’t that the Cubs and Red Sox need a third team to make the deal happen, the problem is that they need the Reds to be that third team. The deal being discussed would send Rich Hill and Corey Patterson from the Cubs to the Reds, Adam Dunn and Kent Mercker to the Red Sox and Manny Ramirez to the Cubs and minor league pitcher Jon Papelbon to the Reds.

The problem is going to be getting the Reds to do anything.

The Red Sox are sick and tired of Manny, and last week when he hid in the Fenway scoreboard and nearly missed a pitch, and then SI reported Manny wanted a trade…again. But the Sox are not in a position to get rid of Manny without replacing his bat. There is also not a fit on another team where they could just trade Manny for that stick. The Cubs don’t have anything to deal for Manny, but they have plenty to deal to the Reds for Dunn.

The Reds don’t want to trade Dunn to the Cubs, and they want a Major League caliber player and two top pitching prospects .

So this deal fits everybody’s needs. The Red Sox replace Manny with a younger player and a guy who can approximate his offensive value, and they get a lefty reliever (even if it is Mercker).

The Reds get the value they identified they needed for Dunn, and they don’t have to send him within the division to the Cubs.

The Cubs get a great left fielder and we can read stories for a week full of [expletive] about how Dusty will be able to “communicate” with Manny.

Are there drawbacks? Of course there are. Manny’s effort makes E-ramis look like Pete Rose. His defense makes Jason Dubois look like Ichiro. But he can hit. No, not hit, he can rake.

If the Reds back out, then Hendry will turn to a lesser deal for Soriano, and the headaches that having an outfield made up of two second basemen and Jeromy Burnitz will cause.


Well that's all good and well - and I would love to have Manny Ramirez on the Cubs, especially since he is one of the finest hitters currently in the game and it would make the remaining games certainly more exciting to watch.

But the real question is whether the Cubs should do anything before the trade deadline if they don't get exactly the deal they want. The rational for making a less than ideal deal (work with me here) BEFORE the deadline hinges on a number of factors, of course, not the least of them being the assistance the trade would give to the team THIS year.

Now, since this team has so little margin for error (they will have to play 40-20 over the next 60 games to get to 92 wins which will probably be cutting it close in terms of getting in via the wildcard) , the question has to be asked what the liklihood is of the Cubs putting up that kind of record EVEN WITH the acquisition of Ramirez or Soriano.

Don't forget that of the 60 remaining games, 11 of those are against the Cardinals, 10 of them are against the Astros, and they have 3 left with the red hot Braves. So they have 24 games left against pretty darn good teams. In other words, the Cubs will have to play really really well and really consistently over the next 60 games to get in.

Would acquiring Manny Ramirez or Soriano help them get there? Probably (and Ramirez would be more of a help than Soriano), but I still don't think it would be enough in light of the miniscule room for error the Cubs currently have AND the other problems that still need to be addressed (the bullpen).

So, if that's true (and I think it is), then the Cubs should only make a trade if it helps them beyond this season. A short-term fix for this season (like the Astros did last year with Beltran) will probably prove futile, since it will take nothing short of a herculean effort by this club to get into the postseason and I just don't think it's happening - even with the names currently being mentioned.

So memo to Jim (since we know you're a regular reader of the pablum found at this blog), take Ramirez if you can get him, but forget about Soriano.

If you can't get Ramirez, be more aggressive in the coming offseason than you were last year and go get some impact bats either through trade or free agency (and the former will probably be easier than the latter).

Hendry Interested in Soriano

Jim Hendry is inquiring about Texas Ranger Alfonso Soriano.

If the Cubs get Soriano, that doesn't necessarily mean second baseman Todd Walker will be in the deal or going somewhere else in a separate swap. The Cubs would like Soriano to play left field, even though he has said in Texas he didn't want to be an outfielder.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Peoria Northsiders Present

Two of our posters, Chris and Bill, are attending the Cub game today against the Arizona Diamondbacks. We'll see if the Cubs can snag another win with those two in attendance. Meanwhile, I'll be watching Nomar play tonight for the Peoria Chiefs as they take on the Daytona Dragons.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

FROM THE RED STATES

Well, I got the chance to talk to my good buddy and fellow poster on this blog, Chris today. Although the conversation was brief, he managed to gimme a few pot shots about the Cardinals injuries this season. He claims that the Cubs injuries to Prior, Wood, and Nomar are far more serious than the split squad spring training team the Cards have been fielding the past week or so, I disagree, and here is why...

First of all, injuries are no excuse for a teams poor play, in spite of the losses of Rolen (pretty much all season) Sanders, Molina, Walker all currently on the DL. Morris, Interestinghausen, Edmonds, and Grudzielanek have all also been DL'ed or missed significant time due to injury. That's why you call it a team sport, when someone gets hurt, you fill in with another on the team. The Cardinals have demonstrated this truth by continuing to win with the likes of Nunez, Mabry, Taguchi, and more recently Rodriguez, Mahoney, Seabol, and now Gall. This could be why we are the best team in the NL.

A lot of a teams injuries are the fault of management in my opinion. Why, you ask? Well for example, certain players have a history of being "injury prone" like a Larry Walker, or a Mark Grudzielanek or for the Cubs, Kerry Wood and Nomar Garciaparra. I would not classify Prior as "injury prone" because really most of his injuries have been freak accidents. Getting a line drive off the elbow or a collision on the basepaths are really freak occurences. Management takes alot of blame for a relying on these kinds of players without getting a decent back up. That's really been the Cubs problem. No reliable people to fill in for those players when they are injured, especially for those players that have a history of being injured.

Let's compare our two teams, the Cubs lost Prior for a month or so, Wood for most of the seasaon, and Nomar for all but two weeks of the season. The Cardinals have been without Rolen for 40-50 games, Molina for about 3 weeks now, Walker although now DL'ed for the first time he rarely plays more than 3 games a week. We have been without Sanders now for 2 weeks or so, and he won't be back for another month at least. Thats just the beginning or our list of injuries. We could throw in Matty Mo for the first 3 weeks of the season, or Interestinghausen for about 3 weeks, or Grudzielanek for about 2 weeks, but just the injuries to Rolen, Sanders, Molina and Walker is enough to make my case.

I know what your thinking Cubs fans, because Chris made the same argument over the phone..."well let's take Carpenter, and Mulder or Morris out of your rotation, and see what happens". To this I respond Morris was out of the rotation the first 3 weeks of the season and we still won. Carpenter was out for the last month of the season last year, and the playoffs and although we lost the World Series, we still won most of our games down the stretch and managed to win 2 playoff series without him last year.

Cub fans have for 2 years now been whining about the injuries to Prior and Wood. The fact of the matter is though they are pitchers, they only play every 5 games. Thats why the loss of a pitcher is not as devestating as the loss of an every day player. For example, if I as a Cardinals fan could put one Cubs player on the DL for 15 days, and my choices were Derrek Lee or Mark Prior, I would take Derrek Lee off the team and put him on the DL, for the simple fact that in those 15 games Prior will only have an affect on 3 maybe 4 games, where as the loss of a Derrek Lee will have an affect on all of them. I'm sure a Cubs fan given the same choice between Carpenter or Pujols, any wise fan would take Pujols out of the lineup.

Now I will grant you losing two starting pitchers at the same time has double the affect, but still is no where near as tough as losing one every day player, who affects the outcome of games every day. Let alone when you are without 4 regular, every day players, as the Cardinals are right now, and playing with 2 more banged up.

Like I said earlier though, injuries are no excuse. You still play the games and they count, you just plug in another guy, and everyone picks up the slack. Again, that's why baseball is a team sport.


Matt Clement Hit in Head

Our prayers are with Matt as he recovers from being hit by a line drive.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Some Cub Look-Alikes

Monday, July 25, 2005

WERE IN SERIOUS TROUBLE

Well it looks like the decision in the off season to stick with the outfield that is like 3 weeks away from drawing Social Security is going to hurt the Cardinals. Larry Walker is going to be DL'ed any day now. We have lost Sanders until early September at the earliest. Edmonds is banged up. You combine that with injuries to Rolen, and Molina. Were in big time trouble. We still have a some what comfortable lead in the division 11 games over the hotter than hot Houston Astros, so I ain't really swating yet, but Walt Jocketty needs to make some moves.

There is serious talk now of shutting Rolen down for the rest of the season. Who knows when Yadier Molina gets back. he was supposed to be back right after the All Satr Break, then it was for the Cubs series, now who knows.

I am hearing trade rumors on the Cardinal boards of a deal with Baltimore for Melvin Mora. We send them Jason Marquis and a prospect for Mora. I guess the thinking is Mora can play third until Rolen gets back (if he gets back) and then move Mora to the outfield. I think it is pretty safe to assume Larry Walker is done for the season, and maybe for his career. The pitching staff has been keeping this thing going, so I think it would be unwise at this point to go screwing with the strength of the team.

Anyway you slice it, the Cardinal lead is safe for now, but we got some serious problems. One good thing, Cub fans can't be whining about our lack of injuries this year. I doubt there is another team in baseball who has had more injuries than us.

FROM THE RED STATES

Start printing the "bleeping" World Series tickets Cub fans, you took two out of three in St. Louis. Thanks in part to Tony "freaking" LaRussa, with that ridiculous, joke of a line up he turned in for Saturday's game. He has this habit of just giving games away to rest players for future games and it is really starting to tick me off. You know instead of giving 1 guy a day off 1 game, then someone else the next, he seems to just rest everyone all in the same game. Against the Blue Jays, the day before Halladay was to pitch, he decided to rest Walker, Edmonds, Pujols, Grudzie, and Sanders. With the injury to Rolen that made 6 bench guys playing that day. We not only lost that game, but also lost to Halladay the next day. He did the same thing again this weekend. Only this was not the Blue Jays, this was the hated, arch rival Cubs, and he gave the game away Saturday, in hopes of resting Pujols and Walker for the next game against Prior. What doesn't make any sense is if he was gonna rest Pujols, why not in Sunday's game so he would have 2 days off in a row. Don't give me that tweaked shoulder bit, that was just an excuse to give Albert the day off at home, and not catch any grief. I know Pujols is like 0-9 in his career agaisnt Williams, but I still want Pujols in the lineup every game against the Cubs. Pick another day for crying out loud!

The first and last game went as I expected, the Cardinals winning in game 1, and the Cubs winning in game 3. The second game though really ticks me off. That's the game I thought for sure we would win. Morris against Williams. Until LaRussa decides to give Pujols the first game he has had off at Busch, in I don't know how long, maybe ever. He also decides to rest Walker, who is down to playing about 2 games a week. With the injuries to Rolen, Sanders, and Molina that made for a match up between the Cubs and the Memphis Cardinals. Way to go Tony. For future reference dude, it might be ok to do that against the Blue Jays, Red Sox, or anyone else on our schedule, but when we play the Cubs or the Astros, we play our best.

What a joke! But you still play the games and the Cubs managed to win 2 out of 3. Could be a great boost in confidence and momentum. We'll see.

A Blissful Weekend

I was fortunate to see both the Cub wins this weekend in person. Beside the bonus that the Cubs squeeked out two wins, they were able to defeat the Cardinals in St. Louis. But the sweetest part of the deal for me was the joy of watching my brother-in-law experience his first Cardinal losses.

This misguided individual had the fortune of seeing 25 Cardinal wins without seeing a loss. I was present for 6 of these wins (4 were Cub games). It was all too sweet for me to be present and to see such dejection. My in-laws have all blamed this occurrence on my new Cub jersey my mother-in-law gave me before the game on Saturday. How unfortunate for them. To top it all off, my dog urinated all over a picture of Jim Edmonds at their house. My dog is learning well!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Neifi!

After Dempster walked the pinch hitter (and he had him down 1-2 before eventually walking him - throwing a miserable SLIDER on a 3-2 count no less!), and THEN gave up a single double to Eckstein (a play in which I very nearly threw my remote through the television) - I will admit that I thought the Cubs had blown it [again].

And yet, after a Todd Walker double, an intentional BB for Lee (whom the Cardinals avoided like the plague tonight), an excellent sac bunt by Burnitz (when the heck was the last time he was asked to lay down a bunt?!), and another intentional BB to Aramis (which loaded the bases)...

Neifi! comes through with a very surprising grand slam home-run (and after Neifi's homer, there's no need to dwell on the miserable AB by Barrett - and don't even get me started on the AB by Jose F. Macias)!

Very nice boys - although I don't know how many of these types of games I can take. Even though the Cubs won the series - I feel like we just committed a crime and we need to get out of town as quickly as possible to tell you the truth.

In any event, this is what this team needs to continue to do - just win series. 1 down - 20 series left. If they win them all, they finish with 94 wins.

win 2/3 vs. SF
win 3/4 vs. AZ
win 2/3 vs. PHI
win 2/3 vs. NYM
win 2/3 vs. CIN
win 3/4 vs. STL
win 2/3 vs. HOU
win 2/3 vs. COL
win 2/3 vs. ATL
win 2/3 vs. FLA
win 2/3 vs. LAD
win 2/3 vs. PIT
win 2/3 vs. STL
win 3/4 vs. SF
win 2/3 vs. CIN
win 3/4 vs. STL
win 2/3 vs. MIL
win 2/3 vs. HOU
win 1/2 vs. PIT
win 3/4 vs. HOU

That gets them to 94. Split a 4 game series or lose a 3 game and it reduces their total possible wins by 1 (assuming the Cubs don't make it up by sweeping a subsequent series).

Nomar will be here in Peoria!

Nomar will be here in Peoria Tuesday as the Chiefs open up a 4 game series against Dayton and it would be nice if the wife and I are able to get over to O'Brien field to see how he looks. We'll see - I'll report if we're able to make it to a game.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

"AND ANOTHER THING"

From a pretty realistic Cardinals fan, the Cubs have alot of talent. They definately are capable of getting into the playoffs as the WC this season, and with the likes of Prior, Zambrano, and Maddux in a short series, could do some damage.

I frequent the Cubs message board because, well to be quite honest with you it is quite entertaining. There is nothing more funny to a Cardinal fan than a p.o.ed Cubs fan, when the Cubs are losing. You hear the same old stuff "fire Hendry", "fire Baker", "trade so and so". The excuses that some come up with are classic as well. However I don't want to bash anyone right now. My purpose is to lift you all up, because to be quite honest with you, I am pulling for the Cubs to win the WC, because I want to see a Cubs/Cardinals NLCS. As I have posted many times I am hoping for it, because it would be awesome to see, in my opinion.

The brunt of the complaints heard on the Cubs board are with Hendry and Baker. From an outsiders perspective let's look at what these two have done. Hendry in the offseason and Baker during the season. First Baker. I am telling you guys this, in my opinion, Dusty Baker has no clue how to manage a baseball team. Decisions that seem so obvious from anyone with really very little ammount of true baseball knowledge, seem to be difficult for this guy to understand. First of all his lineup. How long did it take for him to realize that LaTroy Hawkins was not a closer? When it was plainly clear to any who watched him, that Hawkins was not a closer. Being a closer is a tricky thing. There is a big difference between being the 8th inning guy and the closer. Some mentally have it, some don't, and it was clear that Hawkins did not have it. Whatever "it" is Hawkins did not have it. Yet he kept trotting him out there day after day (granted because there weren't any other options for him) ruining the confidence of what was once one of the best set up men in baseball. Secondly, Corey Patterson. How long did it take Baker to figure out Patterson is not a lead off batter? I will grant Dusty, again there weren't really any other options. But it was clear to anyone Patterson was not a lead off man, yet day after day he was at the top of the lineup. By the time Dusty figured it out and moved him around in the lineup,he had pretty much ruined Corey's confidence as well, and now he is struggling in AAA. Third don't get me started on his handling of the pitching staff. You can't keep running your starters out there game after game throwing 130 pitches and not expect arm problems. Back in the glory days of Fergie Jenkins and Bob Gibson, you could. Nowadays you can't. These pitchers (not just Cub pitchers, but really all of them) have been babied so much throughout their careers. High School, and college coaches so afraid of injuring them would put them on pitch counts, limiting their use of breaking balls and sliders, really babying them. Now they get to the bigs and they are expected to go out there and throw 130 pitches every game, makes little sense to me. Now again I will cut Dusty some slack and looking at the Cubs pen, well if it was a tired Prior, or the likes of a Remlinger or a Wellenmeyer with the game on the line, I'll take Prior.

Thats why I think the real problem is with Hendry. I don't so much think Hendry blew it this off season as I will explain in a minute, I think some of the mistakes came the year before.Now Hendry got alot of credit for his trades down the stretch in '03, and deservedly so, I mean he stole Lofton, Ramirez, and Simon from the Pirates. But since then he ain't done jack.

First let's look at this past off season, and I think Hendry really only blew it getting rid of Alou. I think that was his only real mistake. The Cubs left field situation is a joke, and although Alou is getting paid out the wazoo, he was the best option for the Cubs. As far as some other OF'er's he could have signed, what were his options. Carlos Beltran, 119 million, for what .275, 10 HR, I think he wisely knew that Beltran was gonna milk that hot streak in the NLCS last year for all it was worth. He knew he would be in a bidding war with the likes of the Yankees and Mets. Don't give me the injury excuse because looking at the guys career numbers, he is not really slumping this season, he is pretty much in line for his career. The problem is after the NLCS, and the contract his agent parlayed that into people expect more and he is definately the most over rated player in baseball. Hendry wisely backed away. JD Drew, well JD drew although one of my favorites because of his testimony and faith in Jesus Christ is predictably hurt again and under achieving. All at the bargain basement price of 11 million dollars. Magglio Ordonez, 7o million and has he even played this year. There weren't really any decent options, thats why his mistake was letting go of Alou. I disagreed with dumping Sammy at the time, for the Cubs sake, because of the OF situation I just spoke of, but looking back on it and what Sammy has done this year, and the contract relief it gives the Cubs it was a good move.

What about a closer. Well Percival was available. Hendry wisely realized that Percival was an aging closer, a fastball slider pitcher who's fastball wasn't as fast and his slider not sliding as much. What has Percival done this year? Nothing because he has been hurt. A SS was definately a need for the Cubs, and I think Hendry wisely backed away from Renteria, maybe the second most over rated player in baseball because of the price tag that would come with him, 10 million a year for a .280. He gambled on Nomar at 8 million and lost because of Nomar's injury. It was a gamble given Nomar's injuries of the past few seasons, but a wise gamble in my opinion, I probably would have done the same. When healthy Nomar is far superior than Renteria. He lost that doesn't make it a bad move. He chose Walker over Grudzielanek at second, call it a wash both are pretty much equal.

I have no problem with Hendry's moves this past off season. A few moves in the past though, are different. First of all, not resigning Kenny Lofton after the '03 season. Lead off man, outfielder, seems like a huge need for the Cubs right now. Secondly, Ivan Rodriguez, name me a better catcher to groom a young talented pitching staff, and not a bod bat in the line up either. Was a free agent after '03 and to my knowledge the Cubs never made a play for him. Thirdly, letting go of Julian Tavarez. Filled in well with the Cards as the closer when "Interestinghausen" went down. Good in middle relief, why did the Cubs get rid of him. I'm not sure if this was Hendry or MacFail that blew it on that one.

Where do the Cubs stand now as the trade deadline approaches. Well I think they have the talent to get it done, but realistically looking at the WC the Cubs are 5.5 out. However the hard part is there are 4 teams ahead of them, including a surging Astros team. Realistically it ain't looking too good. Would a desperate trade at the deadline really make much of a difference? Would any player available really help improve those chances? I think not. Especailly when you consider trading out of desperation, just trying to increase an unrealistic chance anyway. GM's all over the league are salivating at the "desperate teams" trying to do anything to make the playoffs. Their standards go down as to the player they want in return, and the price they are willing to pat goes up, not a good combination when in the buying market. However I would really suggest being "sellers" as well because as I have said earlier, the Cubs have a lot of talent and in my opinion are pretty close to getting there. There are a few players I think the Cubs should consider trading, Wood if you could find a GM "desperate" for starting pitching infatuated with his "potential" and would give you a decent outfielder. Say the Texas Rangers who have an abundance of good outfielders, I'm sure you could probably get a Kevin Mench for Kerry Wood. Greg Maddux, San Diego would clssify as a "desperate" team especially for starters. Maddux is from San Diego and I'm sure wouldn't mind finishing his career there.

The Cubs are close, so I wouldn't sell the farm. Knowing that as well, and how unrealistic as it is I wouldn't allow myself to be one of the "desperate" teams as well.

FROM THE RED STATES

I may be a homer, but personally I think the rivalry between the Cubs and Cardinals is the best in all of sports. Any who questions my thinking, well did you watch that game last night. That was definatley one of the best baseball games I have watched in a long time, it was made better by the fact the Cardinals won, but I like to think I would be saying the same thing if the out come were different.

I guess I am in the minority because MLB figures that most fans like to watch an "Arena" baseball game. You know a game where the fences would make any high schooler thinking long ball. I guess thats the main reason for the DH. A game featuring watered down pitching, with some pitchers that would be pumping gas in Iowa somewhere, back in the glory days of baseball. Heck watching some of these guys, has me thinking about getting my arm back in shape.

Forget all that jazz my friends, give a good old fashioned pitchers duel. A game where the outcome is riding on every pitch. A game you can watch in 2 1/2 hours. Not these ridiculous 3 1/2 hour home run derby's. Especially when these HR's are being hit (for the most part) by roided up freaks, and aided by juiced baseballs, and ballparks smaller than most high school fields.

I don't know about you guys but my fingernails are gone. I was so excited about last nights game. I posted a few days ago, how I thought that would be the game to see, and boy the Cubs and Cardinals did not disappoint, well Zambrano and Carpenter did not disappoint. An 11 inning game played in 2 1/2 hours, 2-1 final score. That my friends is a great game in my opinion. Watching Zambrano and Carpenter duel in that July St. Louis heat, both going 9 innings was priceless.

After last nights game, it is settled in my mind why the Cubs/Cards rivalry is far superior to the over rated, east coast, ESPN hyped rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees. Frankly I am so sick of the Red Sox and Yankees. The Red Sox and Yankees are like the two rich kids in high school, bickering about who's car that their daddy bought them, is tricked out more. They think so highly of themselves and just assume that the whole baseball world revolves around them, and that were all on pins and needles to see what happens next. When in reality the vast majority of baseball fans could give a crap less.

The Yankees and Red Sox has been over hyped because they are both on the media saturated east coast, and the brawls that have occured between them recently. Forget that crap, the Cubs and Cardinals is a real rivalry, a rivalry based on baseball, not which owner can out spend the other.

Great game last night, and looking forward to two more.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

There's the first series to get away...

With that series split - if the Cubs win out their remaining series (21 to go), they end up with 94 wins.

Here's what it will take to get to 94 wins now - they have to...

win 2/3 vs. STL
win 2/3 vs. SF
win 3/4 vs. AZ
win 2/3 vs. PHI
win 2/3 vs. NYM
win 2/3 vs. CIN
win 3/4 vs. STL
win 2/3 vs. HOU
win 2/3 vs. COL
win 2/3 vs. ATL
win 2/3 vs. FLA
win 2/3 vs. LAD
win 2/3 vs. PIT
win 2/3 vs. STL
win 3/4 vs. SF
win 2/3 vs. CIN
win 3/4 vs. STL
win 2/3 vs. MIL
win 2/3 vs. HOU
win 1/2 vs. PIT
win 3/4 vs. HOU

That will equal 46 wins/21 losses, for a final record of 94-68 (a record that probably gets them in).

I've bolded the series that will be challenging for them to win. Every series from this point forward that they fail to win drops their total possible wins by at least one (and 2 if they lose a 4 game series).

There's not a lot of room for error at this point.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

One series won (Pirates) - 22 to go...

As I noted in an earlier post, for the Cubs to get to 95 wins they have to win every one of their remaining series (and that will equal going 50-25 over the 75 games remaining after the all star break).

The calculus is simple - If they win every one of their remaining series - that will get them to 95 wins, and a likely postseason berth via the wildcard (and btw - in the last 5 years, the lowest win total to get a team in through the wildcard was 91 wins in 2003 and the average win total of the wildcard winner for the last 5 years is 93).

Now, in reality - the Cubs don't have to actually win every one of their remaining series to get to 95 wins - if they drop or split a series, for instance, they can make it up with a subsequent series sweep.

However, for every series loss or split that isn't made up by a subsequent series sweep, the total wins the Cubs can finish with drops by one. For example, if they win 21 of the next 22 series (and don't sweep any of the remaining series) - they finish at 94 wins. If they win 20 of the next 22 series (and don't sweep any of the remaining series) - they finish with 93 wins, and so on.

You get the idea.

How probable is it that the Cubs win out their remaining series and get to 95 wins or even 20 of the next 22 to get to 93 wins?

Well, consider that 4 of the 22 remaining series are against St. Louis - 1 is against Atlanta - and the Cubs have 3 remaining series against a surging Houston team.

My friends, the Cubs will have to play - not like an above average or even a good team from this point forward - they will need to play like an incredible team to even get to 93 wins (let alone 91).

Think about it, just to get to 93 wins they have to win 20 of the next 22 series - and 4 of the remaining 22 series are against the Cardinals (the team with the best record in the NL in case you forgot)!

It ain't happening, this is not an incredible team - they have played like a slightly above average team (recent results against terrible teams not withstanding) and a slightly above average team just won't be able to do what it takes to get to 95 (or 93) wins.

And the gravity of this somber reality will become more and more apparent with every subsequent series loss from this point forward.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

FROM THE RED STATES

Dudes, I really need to get a life. I just spent the last hour breaking down the Cardinals season thus far and I have found some amazing facts.

Well I was curious about the Cardinals consistency. I was thinking about how the Cubs seem to win 4 or 5 in a row, then lose 4 or 5 in a row. So I broke down the Cardinals season thus far and found remarkable consistency. Look at these numbers.

-After 92 games the Cardinals are 60-32.
-Broken down into two 46 game segments they are 30-16 the first 46 games, and 30-16 the
second 46 games.
-Broken into thirds the Cardinals are 20-11 the first 31 games, 20-11 the second 31 games,
and 20-10 the third 31 games, (I guess this means we will lose tonight.)
-Broken into quarters (this is ridiculous), 15-8 the first quarter, 15-8 the second quarter,
15-8 the third quarter, and 15-8 the last quarter.

I know what your thinking, first who cares, and secondly dude, you do need to get a life. The second maybe true considering right now my life revolves around the Cardinals, my job, and last but certainly not least my relationship with Jesus Christ.

I am just amazed by this consistency. No real losing streaks, they have lost 3 in a row only twice this season. Yet have won 4 in a row twice, 5 in a row three times, and six in a row once.

Could this consistency have anything to do with their dominance in the NL again this season. I mean I guess a team could be consistently bad. To me though it seems more productive than winning 5, losing 5, winning 4, losing 4 etc.

It took me an hour to figure all that up, yeah I really do need to get a life.

Dubois Dealt

Jason Dubois has been traded to the Cleveland Indians for Jody Gerut.

From the Daily Southtown:

Nothing appears imminent, and there is conflicting speculation about whether or not the Marlins want to part with Pierre.

The Cubs, however, did make a deal Monday night for a backup outfielder. They traded minor league outfielder Jason Dubois to Cleveland for Elmhurst native and Willowbrook High School graduate Jody Gerut.

Monday, July 18, 2005

FROM THE RED STATES

Well I certainly hope my Cardinals are not like me and looking past the Brew Crew to the upcoming series between the Cubs and Cardinals in Busch Stadium. Interestingly enough, if not for the Cardinals, the Beermakers would be over .500 in in the thick of the Wild Card race. Unfortunately for them though, that don't mount up to a hill of beans. That would be like me saying "boy if it weren't for the Red Sox playing so well last year, we would be World Champs".

But since I am just a mere mortal, and can't resist the temptation to look ahead to this weekend, I will go ahead and do it. As near as I can figure the pitching match ups will go like this...A Carprnter vs. Zambrano in game 1. Morris vs. Williams in Game 2, and Suppan vs. Prior in Game 3.

Well the match up in game 1 is definately the game to see. The Cardinals have not faired to well against Zambrano thus far in his career. His 2-4 record is decieving, because according to his other stats Zambrano has pitched in some tough luck against the Cards. In fact, I was shocked to find out he is sub .500 for his career. Honestly the only time I can remember the Cardinals actually scoring a few runs off him was last year in the infamous bean ball game, right after the All-Star break.

That having been said Chris Carpenter is fastly establishing himself as the best pitcher in the NL, if not basbeall. He is the leagues first 14 game winner, and is threatening to win the pitchers version of the Triple Crown, leading in W's, he is second to Clemens with a 2.34 ERA, and his 137 K's trails only Pedro. He has 4 CG shutouts and has not allowed more than 1 run in his last 6 starts. Frankly, I look for a 2 hour, 2-1 game. Who has the 2 runs, well who knows.

The second game pitching match up of Morris vs. Williams is definately an edge to the Cardinals. However the match up in game 3 of Prior vs. Suppan definately favors the Cubs.

Well my prediction I like the Cards in game 2, and the Cubs in game 3. It is hard right now to go against Carpenter, so I think he gives up the 1 run and the Cardinals win 2-1, and take the series 2 out of 3. However, predictions don't mean didly squat and Carpenter and Zambrano could both get shelled and it could be a 10-9 game. But I think the Cards win 2 out of 3.

What do my fellow posters think? If you guys ain't scared, cowboy up and make a prediction.


Farns Update

Kyle Farnsworth pulled out his butt-whooping skills this weekend in a game between the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals. Runelvys Hernandez hit Carlos Guillen in the head causing the benches and bullpens to clear. Hernandez had hit two people prior to this and Mike Maroth nailed a guy, albeit accidentally, causing the umpire to issue the warnings.

After the bullpens cleared, there was just a big mass of bodies around home plate, although no one was really doing anything. Out of the blue, the Farns stealthily ran around the crowd and football tackled Jeremy Affeldt and pinned him to the ground. It was a beautiful reminder of his total domination over Paul Wilson a few years back.



Although I never liked your regular two week slumps, I'll miss your 101 MPH heat, your black belt skills, and your overall aloofness.

Here's to you, Dr. Tightpants.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

FROM THE RED STATES

Well, I know all is well in Cardinal Nation when the last time I spoke to my good buddy Chris, a week or so ago over the phone, the only ammo he had against me was a few worn out Rick Ankiel jokes. He spoke as if Corey Patterson, who is now a .175 hitter in AAA, and Kerry Wood were actually living up to there hype and potential. Yes the same Corey, or as he is referred to in Cubbieland as KKKorey, who some Cubs fan were saying is better than Jim Edmonds. I know Edmonds and especially Rolen are having down years, but I still wouldn't trade them for KKKorey Patterson or Errormis Ramirez any day of the week. Despite Rolen's lack of hitting so far this season, his defense has been typical Rolen.

Also nice this year is Cubbieland really has no legitmate excuses as to why they are being dominated in the NL Central this year as the Cardinals have had their problems with injuries as well. Interestinghausen, Rolen, Edmonds, Walker, Molina, Morris, and now probably Sanders have all missed significant time due to injuries. Although Cub fans still fail to let me down with the funny, sometimes ridiculous excuses ala our favorable schedule, like the Cubs haven't played the same teams we are playing.

Now, all that having been said, the Cubs are starting to heat up a little bit. They have managed to win 5 in a row, although it was right after losing 8 in a row to the Braves and Nats. They manged to sweep Florida and are poised to do the same to the Pirates. They have managed to climb back to within 4 games of the WC. The Nationals are predictably sinking like a rock. They started off fast, winning a lot of 1 run games and winning with a lot of luck, but need I remind you that though they are now in Washington, they are still the Expos. I look for the Braves to win that division yet again. With no one really giving them much of a challenge. The Phillies and Mets pretty much stink, Florida is under achieving to this point, and the Nats are returning back to the Expos.

The NL West is pretty much a joke with those teams tripping over themselves and I think the Padres trip over themselves the least and win out there.

With the resurrgence of the Astros, and the Cubs back to getting healthy I really think it comes down to those two for the WC. Both teams will feast on the also rans in the Central while the Nats come back down to earth. I disagree with Chris as I think maybe 90 wins might get the WC as I really don't see the Nats getting 93-95 wins. The Cubs and Cardinals have 14 games remaining, while the Astros have only 6 with the Cardinals. The Cardinals have owned the Astros this season which is a disadvantage to the Cubs. I think it comes down to this...can the Cubs split with the Cards, which I think is pretty likely given 8 of the games are in "Wrigley Stadium". Then the head to head with the Astros. I truly believe the difference in the WC, as I have posted this before, is the difference in competition between the East and Central. Although I don't necessarliy think the Astros or Cubs are a better team than the Nats or Florida, I just think the likes of Cincinnasty, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee are far worse than the Phillies and Mets. The Cubs and Astros are both gonna get fat on those teams, while the East pounds each other. The difference for the Cubs will be playing .500 against the Cardinals, and beating the Astros. It should be interesting as the Cubs pitching rounds back into health and form, getting a healthy and productive Nomar back will be huge. Also with the current winning streak the Cubs go from sellers (which Chris is saying) to the buyers I think they need to be at the deadline. I disagree with Chris, which we have disagreed on alot of things here lately, but this deal is far far far from being over.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Do the math folks - it's over...

Despite all the evidence (and we have over half a season's worth) which to a reasonable person would suggest exactly the opposite conclusion, some eternally optimistic folks continue to hold out hope for the postseason for this club.

Well, let's do the math, and you can arrive at your own conclusions.

The team's current record is 43-44 and they have 75 games remaining:

9 vs. PIT
10 vs. CIN
14 vs. STL
7 vs. SF
4 vs. ARI
3 vs. PHI
3 vs. NYM
10 vs. HOU
3 vs. COL
3 vs. ATL
3 vs. FLA
3 vs. LAD
3 vs. MIL

What will it take to get to the postseason? Well that's a speculative question -and as we know - there are 2 routes to get there - win your division or win the wild card. For all intensive purposes (and barring some ridiculous disaster) the Cardinals have already locked up the division. So that leaves the wild card as the most realistic avenue for the Cubs to attempt to enter the postseason.

What will it take to win the wild card? It's anybody's guess, but you have to start somewhere, and so I'm guessing that possibly 93 games puts you right in that race (and this may very well be too low - last year it took 92 games to win the wildcard and this year the Braves and Nationals are both looking tough). So, for the sake of argument, let's start with 93 games gets you in (and as I said, I think this number may be on the low side).

That means the Cubs would have to go 50-25 over their next 75 games, and to do that my friends, they would have to win every one of their remaining series (and that includes taking 8 of the 14 remaining games with the Cardinals).

Now let me ask you - how probable do you think it is that this team will win every one of their remaining series?

And even this may not be enough, as I mentioned - so it may also take a few series sweeps as well to actually get in.

There is no way my friends - pack it up and start planning for next year. This team has played itself into a position where there is now no margin for error. If you think this team can win every one of it's remaining series, DEA agents probably need to be paying you a visit.

But, and nevertheless - as one erstwhile commentator has shown himself especially adept at saying...

Keep the faith!

Preston Wilson to the Nationals

Looks like we don't have to worry about Wilson coming over to the Cubs. The Washington Nationals have dealt Zach Day, J.J. Davis, and a PTBNL or cash for the Rockies' Preston Wilson.

Some Other Rumors:

Cubs might have interest in Mike MacDougal from the Royals to help the bullpen

The Yankees might have an outside interest in Corey Patterson (this one is ridiculous)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

FROM THE RED STATES

Well the NL blows it again in the All Star Game. That makes 8 in a row for the AL. Are we really this much worse than the AL, I don't think so. Part of the problem was NL fans voting a joke of a starting lineup, which really screws everything up as far as picking the reseves. Some guys don't get picked who should, and some get picked who shouldn't, all because some guy who don't deserve it gets in there, ala Mike Piazza, Jim Edmonds, Carlos Beltran. Those 3 guys took the place of some one else more deserving and really threw things out of whack.

So once again the AL will recieve homefield advantage in the World Series. No matter which two teams play, no matter their records, no matter if they are a divisional winner or a wild card team. What a miserable joke. All for some game in mid July, with the likes of Mike Sweeney, some guy named Brian Fuentes, and Felipe Lopez. Who are these freaking guys, and further more why should something as important as homefield for the biggest event in baseball depend on them. What a joke. So if the Cardinals get in again this year, we will again have to start in the AL's park. My prayer though is atleast it would be against a team that atleast managed to be the best team in their own division over the course of 162 game season. Face it sports fan the wild card is a joke, homefield being settled by the ASG is a joke, and the MLB post season is fast becoming a joke.

My solution: Let's make it like the NBA and as long as you show up to all your games you get in the playoffs. Teams with sub .500 records make the playoffs. Let's expand the playoffs, and drag them out for two months as well. Let's play the World Series in late November early December. I know what started this whole wild card travesty, it was the 1993 Giants who won 102 games that season and yet didn't make the playoffs because they finished 1 game behind the Atlanta Braves, who won 103. That's when they crying started. "How can they not be in it, they won 102 games, waaaaahhhhh, waaaahhh, waaaaahhhhh." So now we have the wild card to award a second place, bunch of losers another shot at glory. Well I say the 93 Giants already had their second chance at glory, as well as their 3rd, their 4th, 5th, 6th,7th...all the way up to their 162nd chance. They had 162 chances to get it done. That seemingly meaningless game on a Tuesday night in May that they threw away, came back to hurt 'em. Or the game where they had a lead but there bullpen blew it. The fact is they lossed, and despite how many games they won, they didn't win enough. The same goes for every other second place team, they didn't get it done over the course of the season and should not be rewarded a second opportunity. If we award second place a chance, why not third place. I mean a team like the Cubs last year should have been given a chance to redeem themselves for a lackluster regular season. Well then why do we cut it off it 3rd place, why not 4th place as well. Why don't the Pirates or the Reds get that same chance. What about last place, why not them as well. Why don't we just have everybody make the playoffs, and everyone will get a second chance. Like I said drag the playoffs out for 2 months like the NBA.


For all those that say the wild card creates great pennant races down the stretch that otherwise would not be there, well it eliminates true life or death pennant races as well. Take the NL West race in 1993 between the Ginats and Braves. What a great race it was, especially knowing that the loser was going to feel some tremendous heart break knowing that they would be done, despite how many games they won. What a great race. The two best teams in the league battling over a 6 month season, down to the wire, a true life or death race. Today, it would be no race. Down the stretch both teams would be lining up their pitching rotations for the playoffs, not really caring who wins because they would have bigger fish to fry.

Take Bobby Thompson's HR to beat the Dodgers on the final day of the season in 1956,to quote from Bob Costas' book, Fair Ball: A Fans Case for Baseball, sums it all up, that great call of the "the Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant", would now sound like this "the Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant, the Dodgers win the wild card, the Dodgers win the wild card, the Dodgers win the wild card."

The wild card has done one thing, and one thing only, it has taken 100 years of baseball tradition and sacrificed it on the altar of greed and the almighty dollar. A game that was so pure has now been tainted. Purity was always one of the best things about baseball, the best team always won, it is not like that anymore. The best team does not always win, and it has been disgraced.

Friday, July 08, 2005

I Have to Think This Was Not Baker's Idea

From the AP:

ATLANTA -- The Chicago Cubs optioned struggling center fielder Corey Patterson to Triple-A Iowa on Thursday night following their eighth straight loss."Obviously, things have not been going well in here," general manager Jim Hendry...

Thursday, July 07, 2005



After hearing the comments Andy McPhail made today while visiting the Cub's Class A affiliate in Peoria, I believe this is the official status at headquarters.

Monday, July 04, 2005

I appreciated Randy’s Christian testimony in his last “From the Red States” update. However, I want to point out a couple of things. In spite of what the lexicons say, several Bible scholars believe that the traditional King James usage of the word “carpenter” for the Greek word transliterated “tektone” is incorrect or inaccurate. Ray Vander Laan argues that a better choice of word here would be “builder”. Given the raw materials available in the vicinity of Nazareth during the earthly life of Joseph and Jesus, it is more likely that Jesus was a worker, former or builder with stone.

If you’re still with me, you ask, “what does stone have to do with the Chicago Cubs?”. The answer is Stone, Steve Stone my friends. He was the lone voice of one crying in the baseball wilderness, chiding Chicago Cubs players and management to get serious about their approach to this game. But, alas, our only honest baseball prophet was run out of town.

Stone’s most recent comments on Mark Prior facing the Sox may have proven to be unfounded, but by and large what he was saying before and since he left town is accurate.
Management can put the best array of stars on the field possible, but in the end the players have to get it done. Last year’s team, injuries notwithstanding, had the playoffs in their grasp and let it get away. The prophet Stone was correct to tell it like it is, but got run out of town in the process.

My concern this year is that I perceive that team management has not held up their end of the bargain. Content to stand pat with the hand they have, this team is slouching into the second half of the season at .500 and the Cardinals are nowhere within site. With the Nats playing the way they are, it is probably going to take at least 25 over .500 to take the wildcard spot away from Atlanta. If Wood and Prior are truly healthy then we can at least take some solace in having one of the best starting 5 in the league. But the pitiful anemic offensive pattern of 2004 is back. Other than Superman Lee over at first base and an occasional outburst by Aramis, the offense is in the tank. The second half of this year is going to be AGONIZING to watch. To see your starting pitchers go out there day after day and hold the opposition to only 2 or 3 runs over 7 innings but still lose is despicable. And I am afraid that we are going to see too much of this kind of baseball in the second half.

I know we are only halfway through the season, plenty of baseball left, but unless management decides to get serious and acquire an outfield this season is already over. Burnitz is probably having a decent year for Burnitz, but it’s not enough to propel this team. “Full House” Holly is a good guy, good reserve, but is not of starter caliber these days. If there were such a position as “designated fielder” then I wouldn’t mind Corey in my center field spot. However, there is no such thing, so I say we ship Corey to Peoria.

I believe that this year represents a turning point for the Chicago Cubs as a franchise. With the close call that the Cubs had in 2003 and the last-minute flop of 2004, Cub fans are at the apex of their interest or possibly now slightly past it. The frustration is building quickly and you can see it manifest itself in how players who have traditionally been loved are now getting booed off of the field when they don’t come through. If management doesn’t take action to strengthen this team soon, they are going to see a decline in fan interest that may take a decade to get back.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

From the Red States...

Well being the wretched sinner that I am I am so thankful for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who through His sacrifice and shed blood makes it possible for me to have eternal life, and freedom from sin. What does that have to do with baseball, you ask? Well first of all this blog and my devotion to the Cardinals are just little parts of my life, my relationship with Jesus is my life, without Him I have no life, but here is what this has to do with baseball... Jesus was a carpenter, my Savior was a carpenter. The Cardinals have been searching for an ACE pitcher for a few years. Really since Matty Mo won 20 games in '01. We now have a true ACE, and the savior of Cardinal fans, this one included, is a Carpenter. How do these numbers grab you for Chris Carpenter, 12-4 with an ERA of 2.60. He is second in the league in K's for those Cub fans overly fascinated by the strike out and the fact that most of our pitchers don't strike alot of guys out. Over his past 4 starts he has given up exactly 1 earned run. That my friends is freaking amazing. He is pitching his way into a start in the ASG, and putting his name in the mix for the CY Young. If he is healthy he as dominating as any pitcher in baseball ask Todd Helton, one of the best hitters in the game, who said this after last nights game, "a 95 mph fastball, and then he mixes in a 75 mph hook on the corner, this guys is nasty, the best I have faced this year, I was lucky to just put the ball in play." Sounds like an ACE to me. Know I just hope what Carp is doing will rub off on the rest of the staff, Mulder, and Suppan especially, who have been stinking up the place.

Anyway, Camden, my fellow poster on this blog has done an excellent job of keeping you up on all the trade mill rumors. Being a Cardinal fan I am mostly interested in what are the needs of the Cardinals and how can we fill them at the deadline, but I also keep an eye on what the Cubs are trying to do. So since Camden has done such a good job of keeping you up to date on Cub rumors, I will try my best to fill his shoes and keep you up to date on what I am hearing from Cardinal nation, for those Cub fans that may be interested.

The Cardinals clearly need help in the OF. With Walker injured and really stinking up the place, and likely retired at the end of the season. Sanders is like 2 years away from Social Security, assuming of course that Chris's boy G-Dub, doesn't totally screw up Social Security for everyone but the millionares. Although Sanders is playing awesome we still need another OF, maybe two to fill in the rest of this season, and move in and start next season. The names being mentioned on the Cardinals front are many of the same the Cubs are talking about, Dunn, Willy Mo Pena, Huff, Crawford, Floyd, Lawton, and Cameron. We also need help with another righty in the pen, and maybe another right handed bat off the bench. We are terrible against lefties this season. The biggest rumor I have heard so far is Nunez, Mabry, Anthony Reyes (are best pitching prospect and former teammate at USC with Prior, who many say was the best pitcher on that staff) and either Marquis or Suppan to the D'Rays for Huff and Baez.

Thats really the Cardinal rumor mill. I have heard some whacked out rumors like Clemens, but that is just whacked. No way the 'stros are trading us Clemens. Especially when they have trimmed 7 games of the lead in the month of June, and don't look now Cub fans but they are only 4 games behind you guys. I think this makes them buyers at the deadline, not the sellers they were a month ago.

Anyway, it appears Derrek Lee has past Pujols to be the starting first baseman in the ASG. Although I didn't vote for him because I couldn't bring myself to vote against my man Pujols, Lee deserves it. However I only voted once because I think that's all you should vote. Lee should thank like the 4 Cub fans that voted online like 20000 times each. The voting system is a joke. By the way just to update you, Albert is even with lee in rbi's and right there in hr's. As far as average Lee's has dropped about 10 points in the past week while Albert's has risen 10 points in that same week. I was looking at their numbers and I found an interesting stat...for the most part in this comparison we call the hr's and rbi's a wash for Lee and Pujols, they are pretty much equal in those two categories. As far as the 40 point difference in average how does this stat grab you...in 79 games Pujols has 305 AB's and 104 hits, for a .341 AVG. Derrek Lee has played in 78 games, with 294 AB's and has 112 hits for a .381 AVG. A 40 point difference in average, which seems so large and insurmountable, boils down to 11 extra AB's and 8 hits. Think of that, thats amazing and why I love baseball. 8 little hits. Over the course of a season where most average around 600 AB's the difference between another stiff hitting .250 and a all-star caliber player hitting .300 is 30 base hits over the course of 162 game season, thats a hit every 5.4 games or about a hit a week. One extra hit a week and a guy goes from being sent down to AA to a 6 year 100 million dollar contract. A hit a week, a Texas league duck snort, a gracious scorekeeper, one litte ol' hit. So when you think in those terms, Lee really hasn't done that much better than Pujols. He has however done better, and really has carried his team and deserves to start in the ASG. Congratulations.