Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Give credit where it is due....and blame where it is due

OK, I don't shy away from any of my previous criticisms of Hendry and Baker, especially Hendry. Probably the worst part of the Prior injury (I was at the game Friday, it was horrific), is that it takes the heat off Hendry and reinforces the meme of, "the guy is it snakebit, whaddya gonna do with those injuries." As you can see earlier in this blog, I made a pretty clear case for, a) only an idiot would expect Prior, Wood and Nomar to stay healthy, so even though Prior's injury was "freak" it was still not entirely unexpected and b) therefore you only let Clement go if you have a bullpen to allow Dempster to take Clement's role in the rotation, and c) which you certainly don't unless i) you're the only guy in the world to think Borowski will come back to form, ii) you're the only guy in Chicago who thinks Hawkins can actually close after last year and iii) you have faith in Chad Fox going into this year with two elbow reconstructions (oh yeah, I was at the game where he blew out his elbow...). So Hendry has still done a crappy job since midyear 03. (read the blog below...we stayed the same while St. Louis improved and nothing else was done)

Having said that, as much as I don't like Baker, you've got to give the guy credit. Despite all the injuries, despite his getting booed, the Cubs have kept their heads together, and he and his staff have actually perhaps settled on a a couple of reliable setup men in Weurtz, Wellemeyer, and maybe Ohman. We're two games over 500 and 3 runs up as of this blog. We're not that far off the wild card; and even with Prior's injury if Maddux comes back to form we got a decent shot (and the warm weather is here finally) of staying in the hunt. Plus, with Walker back and DuBois getting most of the ABs (though why Hollandsworth was starting tonight is a bit beyond me), and with Aramis heating up, we're playing better.

And I think you've got to give credit to Baker -- for not panicking -- for keeping the crew together -- for getting them to play good ball. I still think he stinks as a manager -- but we're still in it, the Red Sox are coming, and meaningful games in September are on the Horizon.

Links and backup to follow.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Sox Manager Has More Class Than Anyone Associated With Cubs

Great article in Sun Times extensively quoting Ozzie Guillen about Sosa. Money Quote:

"Sammy Sosa did a tremendous job to put the city of Chicago on the top of the world. I don't know about the fans, but I think the media [was wrong] because somebody makes two mistakes and all of a sudden they take advantage of them and just wipe him out. He's a human being. I think Sammy can be one of the biggest reasons the Chicago Cubs have a lot of fans."

And from Frank Thomas:

That energy is definitely missing over there, I don't care what people say. He brought that crowd to their feet every day. Sammy is missed. Maybe some people say he's not, but he's missed. He always brought excitement and enjoyment to the game.

For a reminder of where I stand, read my first post, here.

This article also speaks to the complete lack of class of the Cubs organization, throwing Sammy under the bus, running him out of town, with the help of sportswriters (that means you, Mariotti). Just nuts. Read this for a previous post on Cubs class.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Some Back Up

Read this article in Monday's Sun Times by Jay Mariotti...

Money quote:

The man who has set back the Cubs is Jim Hendry. If he wasn't the man who also built them into a division champion, you might ask if his job should be in trouble. We're not sure if he has considered Lasik, but the general manager has developed blind spots that have reduced a pennant contender to a slacker in a division already ruled by the Cardinals, who scored 11 runs in the first inning Sunday and might clinch the National League Central by Memorial Day. So busy was Hendry in eradicating the clubhouse of Sammy Sosa and his Eminem-infested boombox, he seemed to forget about his other wintertime chores.

He left the Cubs without a closer, with Ryan [The Streaker] Dempster becoming the third pitcher to inherit the role in a month. He left them without corner outfield bats capable of justifying the loss of Sosa and Moises Alou. He lost an $8.25 million gamble that Nomar Garciaparra would avoid DL hell. He appears on his way toward losing the $32 million gamble that Kerry Wood would stay healthy for three seasons, which makes the departure of Matt Clement more painful, given his 4-0 record and 3.35 ERA in Boston.

I am pretty sure he must have been reading my blog - since I've making those exact same points since the first post back in March. I couldn't agree more with his points -- but the guy has chutzpah -- he was the one guy drumbeating for Sosa's departure since the cork bat incident, and still can't leave the guy alone.

Some of us said from the beginning that the reason we didn't make the playoffs last year had to do with the bullpen, not Sosa, but not Jay. He still won't stop on the poor guy. Pitiful if you ask me.


Please, please do not insult our intelligence, Hendry, ESPN Radio Talking Baseball, Tribune Company, please please do not. As I've said before, we SHOULD NOT BE SUPRISED, by the current state of events. Couple of points:

1. If you're running a company, and your killer head of sales gets a serious illness but recovers, believe me, you make sure you have good number two and number three guys as backups. When I called in the other day to ESPN radio, and read Hendry's comments, what I hear is, "we're snakebit, lots of injuries, woe is me." GIVE ME A BREAK. As I posted many times, no way Wood and Prior were staying healthy, no way No mar was staying healthy.

2. Then we have the bullpen. Clearly a huge weakness last year, both in setup men and closer. We don't talk to either Percival or Benitez (cmon, if Hendry wanted those conversations he could have them!). What does he do? Nothing, or almost nothing. He counts on Borowski to have an 03 year and not get injured. He counts on Chad Fox, he of two reconstructive elbow (elbow!) surgeries, to stay healthy. He counts on Remlinger, him of the big mouth and the non Cubs performance to get the job done. Shocker -- Borowski isn't getting it done and Hawkins can't close. We've seen this movie before. We know he can't close! Friday was personally my all time low for baseball games at Wrigley.

3. Why are 1. and 2. related? Because, if you had a solid bullpen in place, the decision to let Clement go with Dempster as a replacement I think is defendable on business terms. Wood or Prior goes down, you have Dempster as a fourth starter and you spot start guys like Rusch for number 5.

4. That's why, as much I don't like Baker, he HAD to let Zambrano finish the game on Sunday (yes I was there Sunday and Friday).

4. But we went into the season NOT TRYING TO WIN. Say what you want about the Yankees, but at least they try to win every year. It may not work out, but they put together a squad that can do it. What do we do? Nothing. We count on every guy who is injury prone to stay miraculously healthy and we count on every guy to NOT regress ot the mean and we count on fading superstars to somehow be as good as they were in 1999 and not in 2003. Oh yeah, and we do it (read the archives of this site!) with no class, slamming the guys who have performed for us.

5. So I reject the argument that we got snakebit, and I reject the argument that were "spoiled" by Hendry in 03 (what the radio guys said to me). The objective is to win a World Series. When you have the opportunity to do so you must go for it. We are wasting Prior and Zambrano right now. We knew based on last year's performance that we were much worse than St. Louis. They should be better this year with a healthy Matt Morris for the whole year and Larry Walker for the whole year. On paper, we shouldn't be.

6. Burnitz for Sosa has worked out, but was it really worth all the energy? Also, DuBois is awesome offensively, but we're starting Hollandsworth? Please. Finally Dusty started him against right handers yesterday. Again, Dusty after the fact claiming that he can't play him because of defense is a bunch of bull.

I say we hire Cashman when he gets fired in the middle of this year!


Oh yeah, and one more thing! At one of the games this weekend they called attention to some of Sosa's accomplishments and he got booed. Booed! Why? What did the guy do except have some of the best years in MLB history, hustley, and singlehandedly take us to the playoffs in 98? Give me a break. He's proabably the greates Cub whoever played. Have some class and think for yourself, fans!

Friday, April 22, 2005

We should actually be thankful for Nomar's injury, believe it or not....

The way I see it, the Cubbie faithful has been simultaneously a) waiting for Nomar to start actually PERFORMING and b) hoping against hope that he would stay healthy all year.

Now, instead of a bunch of usually very intelligent grown men and women hoping for something that recent evidence would say is pretty impossible, we're brought down to the reality of the 2005 Cubs campaign, and the weaknesses on this team.

Nomar hasn't been the same guy in years, and he hasn't been healthy in years. He was a great pick up last year -- no downside, maybe upside. A reasonable signing this year, as it was a one-year contract.

But with the Cubs getting rid of Sosa it evolved into this, "he is the new superstar." Cmon. He is essentially a veteran castoff and we got just what his recent performance (don't tell me about the Cactus league stats!) would suggest. Hendry, et al tried to use him to help say, "see, see what we're doing to build the team, replace Sosa?" Sorry, I would have preferred Beltran and Percival, and maybe Lieber.

So now we can ALL take a clear eyed look at this team, and not spend the summer "waiting" for Nomar to "get hot" and "hit for power." Lets just hope Hendry does the same thing for once.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

SHOCKER! Nomar Injured!

Sorry for the delay in posting -- was on extended vaca, traveling, etc.

So time to catch up on a few items here:

1. Nomar injured -- out 2-3 months!
-- C'mon -- you can't be surprised can you? As I said here,

To make the bet on the health on Wood and Prior is like betting that Nomar won't gon the DL this year (he'll miss at least 20 games this year -- write it down).

That was on March 17th, and it was in response for all the dopes who said, Yeah, but we'll have Nomar for the whole year. Uh huh.

2. So is anyone really surprised the offense isn't scoring runs? Aside from D-Lee and Aramis, I would argue there is no one a good (not great) pitcher can't handle. Yes, Corey is having a great year, so far, but can be handled easily. Minus Sosa and Alou, a big downgrade. I actually am starting to believe in DuBois, but Dusty isn't giving him the playing time. Crazy, but not surprising. A few nights ago he let Hollandsworth hit against a lefty only to replace him by Hairston (!) in LF in the other half of the inning.

3. I am surprised about the effectiveness of Dempster. If he can keep it up, I think you have to say this justifies the move to let go of Clement.

4. But what about Kerry Wood? When is he going to last 8 innings? I don't care about ERA with him -- if he can't last 8, he and the Cubs won't get Ws!

5. Cardinals have not gotten hot yet, Pujols Walker are struggling, and Prior and the Z-man are getting it done. We get 55 starts between Prior and Wood and we still have a shot in what appears to be a weak division. But I think there is no way the wildcard comes from Central -- West and East are too strong.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

What is usually the truth with people who continue to bad mouth, spread inneundos, and otherwise sully other people's reputations for no apparent reason? Why is it that the the Cubs Brass finds the need to just crap on Sammy right now? It's because they have to be justified in letting him go, and they are too small-minded to say there was the best Cubs player ever, who did wonder for the Cubs in the 90s.

Whatever happened to loyalty, to support? The guy's gone. Let it be. Even Dusty couldn't be quiet after he left. What's that Shakespeare said, "He doth protest too much."

I am talking about a column by Phil Rogers in today's trib on how Sammy could potentially be the single season home run leader with Bonds and McGwire out. Read it here.

But look at these quotes from the Cubs Brass:

From MacPhail:

MacPhail considered his answer carefully when asked if he believed Sosa.

"I think, on the subject of the hearings and what was discussed, that is something to be commented on out of New York and Washington, D.C.," MacPhail said. "I will tell you this—that through '02 there was no method of knowing who did what. There was just no mechanism for [testing]. Speculation at this point is inappropriate on everybody's behalf. All you can know is what has taken place from '02 on."

Nice. Classy.

From Hendry:

Hendry's answer also walked the fine line of not accusing Sosa or exonerating him.

"To accuse any player of performance-enhancing drugs is really unfair," Hendry said. "We can speculate until the cows come home about the last 10 years, who did what, did it change the record book? The stuff with Canseco's book—some people were probably accused [unfairly], and maybe some who were accused were accurate. I don't think we'll ever have a way to prove anything over the last 10-15 years. … To pinpoint a guy, say this guy took it and this guy didn't, is impossible to do."

Wow. That's supportive, Jim.

The only guy who was incredibly supportive was his hitting coach for five years, Jeff Pentland. But even that support got slammed by an un-named source for some reason (probably MacPhail):

I'm not surprised," said this person, speaking off the record. "Pentland's a players' guy."

Amazing. Unless there is something I don't know about Sosa, the Cubs Brass are unbelievably un-classy. Sammy single handedly saved baseball in 98. He was the reason to go to Wrigley in the late 90s. He played every game every season, and he played hard. He never mailed it in, ever.

Can they say one thing nice about him? Pretty disgusting.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Now was that so hard?

Opening Day start belongs to Zambrano

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