2005-06-01T21:19:15.980-07:00OK, 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)
2005-05-13T18:56:55.016-07:00Great 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."
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.
2005-05-11T11:23:58.256-07:00Read this article in Monday's Sun Times by Jay Mariotti...
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.
2005-05-11T08:20:36.243-07:00Please, 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!DUMP HENDRY. HE'S INSULTING OUR INTELLIGENCE!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!cubsNomarWoodSosaAlouchicagoChicagoGarciaparraHendryDustyBakerDuBoisCoreyPattersonESPN[...]
2005-04-22T14:44:18.553-07:00The 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.
2005-04-21T13:47:57.170-07:00Sorry for the delay in posting -- was on extended vaca, traveling, etc.
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).
2005-03-28T19:25:13.276-08:00What 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.
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."
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."
I'm not surprised," said this person, speaking off the record. "Pentland's a players' guy."
2005-03-22T09:54:59.473-08:00Prior feels great, but Borowski broke a bone.
2005-03-22T09:47:55.420-08:00Of course he should go in. Anyone who says otherwise doesn't look at the numbers, and doesn't objectively make the call. Here's Rob Neyer (subscription required):
The subject was the Hall of Fame – specifically, the candidates on the Veterans Committee ballot. Joe and I agree about Ron Santo, of course; Santo's so obviously a Hall of Fame-caliber player that it's actually sort of offensive that we're still having this conversation, three decades into his retirement. We agree, too, that otherwise the vets committee ballot is pretty slim pickings, with nary another obvious choice among the lot.
The case for Santo is simple: He's one of the eight greatest third basemen in major league history. He's also the best third baseman who's not already in the Hall, which come to think of it is about as good a qualification as any other.
2005-03-17T11:43:01.313-08:00in the Tribune. Money quote:
If the injuries to Wood and Prior don't prove to be just routine spring scares, if they are prevented from making at least 55 combined starts and winning 30-plus games, then some really hard questions will need to be asked. The answers could shake the foundation of the Cubs' front office and field staff, with no job safe, least of all Baker's.
The Cubs only chance of winning this year is 55 starts plus from Wood and Prior. If we don't get that, we don't make the playoffs, period.
They used to be called Kid K and The Natural. They used to be compared with Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. But until further notice, they are little more than Kerry Would and Prior Restraint, if not Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Your guess is as good as mine right now about what kind of seasons they'll have, what kind of careers they'll have and whether the club's window of opportunity -- about halfway through a six-year period, I figure -- is doomed to shut with the most disappointing thud to date. If there is encouragement that Prior's mechanics are sound enough to survive a tricky period, Wood's mechanics continue to be wild and reckless enough to bring criticism from Radio Free Steve Stone. It's more than sad, more than spooky.
2005-03-14T18:55:03.353-08:00Here we go again. Of course now it is the ides of March.
2005-03-14T15:05:44.220-08:00Seriously, I hate to throw that term around loosely -- and I've been reluctant to use it on questioning the local media's quickness to jump on the Get Rid of Sosa Bandwagon -- but how is it that I and the media see Carlos Zambrano so differently? Is it because he doesn't talk to the media that much? And when he does, he is not nearly as articulate as Prior?
Mark Prior would be a good bet for the Opening Day replacement. Baker had said previously that the planned rotation sequence to begin the season was Wood, Prior, Greg Maddux, Carlos Zambrano and either Ryan Dempster or Glendon Rusch. Zambrano probably has to control his emotions better
before he's ready to start Opening Day.
2005-03-14T14:46:58.816-08:00I guess Wood is a little more injured than they let on...This would be funny if it wasn't so serious. Money quote:
That's a big change from last Wednesday, when Wood removed himself from a game against the Texas Rangers after two innings because his shoulder felt odd. Wood said it wasn't pain but he couldn't specifically describe how it felt.
Wood's scheduled start today was scrapped quickly after an MRI taken Wednesday night showed that the Cubs' initial claim that he would remain on schedule was far-fetched. It's significant that Dempster will be starting today in Wood's place with Rusch following him to the mound.
2005-03-12T06:02:52.953-08:00From Fox Sports:
Baseball balked at the subpoenas. Stanley Brand, a lawyer for the commissioner's office, said the committee had no jurisdiction, was trying to violate baseball's first amendment privacy rights, and was attempting to "satisfy their prurient interest into who may and may not have engaged in this activity."
Reacting to Brand's comments, committee spokesman David Marin said: "Mr. Brand has his facts wrong. He failed to recognize that House rules give this committee the authority to investigate any matter at any time, and we are authorized to request or compel testimony and document production related to any investigation. It's a shame that Major League Baseball has resorted to hiding behind 'legalese' - and inaccurate 'legalese' at that."
2005-03-12T06:00:53.816-08:00from Thursday's SunTimes:
NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT, REALLY
The Cubs sent Kerry Wood back to Chicago for tests on his tight right shoulder Thursday. The word from the team is it's not serious. Cubs fans heard that several times last season, only to find out later the injury was severe.
Injury: Mark Prior arrives in camp with right Achilles tendinitis.
Cubs claim: ''I'm not that concerned,'' Dusty Baker says. ''It's a minor thing,'' Prior adds.
Reality: Prior's first outing is June 4.
jury: Mike Remlinger arrives in camp still recovering from rotator-cuff surgery the previous fall.
Cubs claim: ''We don't know for sure Rem won't be ready [for Opening Day],'' Jim Hendry says.
Reality: Remlinger's first outing is May 25.
Injury: Mark Grudzielanek's right Achilles flares up April 10.
Cubs claim: ''If he can fight through the initial irritation, he can get used to it,'' former trainer Dave Groeschner says.
Reality: Grudzielanek doesn't play until June 19.
Injury: Kerry Wood leaves May 11 game after two innings with tightness in his right triceps.
Cubs claim: ''It just got tight and stiffened up,'' Wood says. ''It didn't kill me out there.''
Reality: Wood doesn't pitch again until July 11.
Injury: Todd Hollandsworth fouls a ball off his right leg June 27.
Cubs claim: Doctors tell the team Hollandsworth should be fine after taking a couple of days off.
Reality: Hollandsworth misses the rest of the season.
Injury: Aramis Ramirez injures his groin running the bases July 2.
Cubs claim: ''Hopefully, this is going to be just three to five days,'' Hendry says.
Reality: Ramirez doesn't play again until July 18.
2005-03-10T11:20:14.413-08:00Will be adding to this post later; but I heard the deputy to the committee answer MLB's lawyer on Mike and Mike in the morning, and the quote was "we have the right to subpoena anyone for any reason according to House Rules." Gee that's great. He went on to say (in an incredibly arrogant tone) that Congress could do a lot short of legislation, to "help" such as oversight. This is of course despite the fact that MLB already addressed this issue (with accolades from Senator McCain!).
2005-03-09T19:18:51.530-08:00The Cubs only chance of winning this year is 55 starts plus from Wood and Prior. If we don't get that, we don't make the playoffs, period. Unfortunately, we now have Wood leaving a game early yesterday and Prior missing his spring turn. The Cubs are saying no big deal to both, but after admitting after the fact they weren't completely honest about Prior's calf and Wood's back the last couple of years, this is pretty depressing. Already. And it's not even the ides of March yet.
2005-03-09T18:55:53.246-08:00OK -- we all know Steroids are bad for the game. We get it. I for one, would like to see Bonds and Giambi punished for breaking the rules. But the fact is, Baseball now has a policy in place which will eventually eliminate steroids. Again, I hate them, and think all of Bonds and McGwire's records should be asterisked.
Stanley Brand, a lawyer for the baseball commissioner's office, criticized the committee for an "an absolutely excessive and unprecedented misuse of congressional power." He said the committee was interfering with the federal grand jury investigation in California into illegal distribution by subpoenaing Giambi, a grand jury witness who might have to testify at a trial.
"Not even the Iran-Contra committee attempted to do that," Brand said.
2005-03-07T14:33:49.263-08:00On Sosa: Give me a break! What did this guy do to deserve the rancor and the "bandwagon" to get run out of town? Let me review (and destroy) the usual "reasons" given:1) He's overpaid -- since when is this a reason to hate a guy? I don't remember anyone screaming he was underpaid when he hit 60 HRs for the cubbies all those years. Cmon. The guy deserves everything he has earned.2) He whined about moving down in the order. Um excuse me -- how do we know this? Because Baker went out of his way to talk to the media and complain that he couldn't move Sosa down in the order because he was too sensitive! Can you imagine Torre or Cox going to the media about how he wants to move a player down in the order but the player is sensitive? No way - either they move him or they don't -- they certainly don't say something that can only make their player look bad. This is inexcusable from Baker.3) He got injured sneezing. He's a big guy who hurt his back. Tell me why that is a capital offense but when Wood gets injured every year -- sometimes by sleeping on those Heavenly mattresses at Westins -- we forgive him? Don't get me wrong, I love Wood -- but why is this a crime?4) He's the reason the cubs didn't make the playoffs -- THIS IS UTTER Hooey. The cubbies didn't make the playoffs because, number one, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood between them missed probably 20 starts at least. Number two, the cubs bullplen blew tons of saves. Number three, Baker is a terrible tactical manager, routinely costing the cubs 5 wins a year I bet. Sosa hit 35 HRs missing six weeks! Yeah he slumped last year -- but that is not the reason they missed the playoffs.5) He's bad for chemistry -- My personal favorite. Who says he is bad for chemistry? Oh yeah, of course lets see...Mark Prior -- who is one injury away from being the Mark Bird Fidrych of his day, and Todd Walker who's been here what, one year? Who are these guys to say anything? First of all, no one should say anything bad about a teammate, as John Wooden says here: " You never, absolutely never, criticized a teammate. That's my job, not yours."Second, if you do, you do it privately. Third, if you're gonna do it, only true leaders who've earned it should do it. Greg Maddux has the stripes, and Kerry Wood has earned it as well But that's it. No one else should say a word! Finally, chemistry is overrated! as this NY Times article shows.But what you need is strong management, a strong leader, which evidently we don't have. Instead we have a manager who throws his star under the bus, allows the team to be distracted by criticizing Steve Stone of all people, and blows game 6 and 7 in 03 by refusing to use a very rested Zambrano and/or Clement.6) He left early the last day -- Who knows what happened? According to Sosa, Baker told him he could have the day off. He shows up, and when the game starts, he leaves. Was it appropriate? No. Was it the end of the world? No way. And again, we see a manager and organization determined to try and get him out of town.Yes the guy slumped last year, a bit -- but, I've never seen a player who runs EVERYTHING OUT even down 6 runs in the 9th inning. Sammy hustled, and was someone I could show my kids as someone who played the game hard 100% of the time. If Hendry wanted to get rid of him to make room for DuBois and another free agent signing, fine -- that's a reasonable baseball move. But instead of going after Beltran, we are left with Burnitz for essentially the same amount of money we would have paid Sosa. Sorry, I'll take Sammy [...]
2005-03-07T08:49:19.453-08:00After years of frustration reading our local coverage of the cubbies, and the last year of media-inspired turmoil -- I feel compelled to write this blog. Sosa, Baker, Bartman -- I think the Trib and the Sun Times have missed the real stories in a heck of a lot of what has happened the past couple of years. Here goes...comments are encouraged!