Preview: Cubs for Breakfast
Cubs for Breakfast
Cumann Daorchluiche Cubs na Chicago
A Rumor the Cubs will Confirm
Jim Hendry laughed off the Gary Sheffield rumors the other day, but according to the Tribune
and the Rocky Mountain News, "Cubs sources" admit they are interested in trading for Rockies' outfielder Preston Wilson. According to the Trib article, the Nationals wanted him but refused to give up Ryan Church and pitcher Zach Day. If the Rockies are looking for a young center fielder and a mediocre pitcher, I should think the Cubs would be able to swing that kind of a deal, as long as they don't ask for Felix Pie.
The bandwagon is rolling fast, first with the Tribune itself contemplating the Cubs going after Johnny Damon
, to Mike Kiley's off-day write-up suggesting Corey could be half-way out the door
, to the Tribune website publishing a fan's complaints
about Patterson's apparently fan-unfriendly attitude.Ross's prescience
(now there's a candiate for Len's Word of the Day) is undeniable.
In this morning's article Winded City
, the Boston Globe's Gordon Edes explains the Chicago Cubs to Red Sox Nation.
The Enigma in Center
Ross, a poster at Bleed Cubbie Blue
, composed an appropriate faux news item last week about Corey Patterson. According to the blurb, Corey was named the Cubs official whipping boy
after the departure of LaTroy Hawkins to the Giants.
Interviews like the real one Corey gave to the Daily Herald today
will only make sure that this happens!
The headline reads "Patterson Sees Himself as Offensively Versatile". Corey's ego is as big as his talent, but only one of them has reached its full potential. If I were Chuck at Ivy Chat
, I'd say it would be easy to switch the adverb and adjective in the headline and it would then be more accurate. But Ross's news item was only a joke, wasn't it?
I am so jealous, not only of those of you who get to see the Cubs in person these days, but also just on TV. The west coast games so far have been on far too late at night for me (the 9 pm central starts are 3 am here). Every morning I've been checking the scoreboard at Yahoo and delighted to see the Cubs on top day after day this week with my breakfast. But I haven't seen a game on MLB.TV or listened to Gameday audio since their last day game in Chicago, so I'm missing out on the hot streak! Oh well, I'll get to see them Sunday on the computer, and hopefully on a real TV next Wednesday.
That was going to be the game I would see them at in person this year, but my trip to Chicago got canceled at the last minute. I am over the disappointment and looking to maybe come over in September. But I put my 3 upper deck box tickets up on Ebay, so if you are interested, please take a look at the following link. You can pick them up at the box office, and the way things are going, get them for a real good price too.http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=6536734241&rd=1&sspagename=STRK%3AMESE%3AIT&rd=1
Danny Graves, late of the Reds, and Eli Marrero, Kansas City, have both recently been "designated for assignment" by their clubs, and speculation has resulted among Cub fans about the utility of either being signed by GM Jim Hendry after their release.
The Daily Southtown article linked here
says the Cubs are mildly interested in both, but that Marrero might require a trade before his 10-day DFA period is up, due to higher demand. Graves' 10-day period has passed as of today.
Fantasies Don't Come True
Which Cubs are on your fantasy team? Are you sorry you picked them? I was out of town
when my league had its in-person draft in March. I had to have a friend pick my team (don’t ever let that happen to you), and I only had time to tell him to put a couple of Cub players on it. So, what does he do? He goes and picks seven Cubs for my 21-man roster!
Could you name seven Cubs you’d want on your fantasy team, given the team’s performance so far?
Well, I’ve had Nomar, Walker and Wood all sitting on the bench for ages, and wasn’t allowed to replace them until six weeks into the season. Prior has been great for ERA, WHIP and Ks, but I’ve got four other pitchers with as many or more wins than him. I’m very happy with Jeromy Burnitz’s performance in real life, but in a 12-team fantasy league with a pool of all MLB players, you expect a little more from your corner outfielders. Michael Barrett dragged me down in April, but I knew I’d be happy with him by the end of May. Most disappointing, of course, has been Aramis Ramirez. He has fewer RBIs than anyone on my team except for Barrett and Scott Hatteberg
(and of course Nomar and Walker). Johnny Damon
, who last I checked was a leadoff hitter, has four more RBIs than A-Ram.
My team, the Frank Chances
, is currently languishing in 10th place. Although I picked up potential rookie phenom Clint Barmes
to replace Nomar, his awesome April has turned into a decidedly average May. Which Cub players are you happy or unhappy with on your fantasy team? And did you find any “lightning in a bottle
” from the later rounds of your draft?
Rehashing an Old Hope
It has been a long time, nearly a year, since I’ve seen any reference made to Derrek Lee’s home/road splits for home runs established with the Marlins. Remember, in 2003 Lee hit 20 home runs on the road but only 11 at home in the cavernous Pro Player stadium. In 2002, he had put up the same 2:1 ratio. Much speculation was spouted when Lee was traded that his HR totals could potentially increase by one-third after his move to the Cubs. Of course, it didn’t turn out that way in 2004. Lee increased his home totals by seven, but his road totals decreased by six, leaving him with 32 jacks for the season as opposed to 31. That is a 3% increase in longball production, not 33%.
Maybe it just took a year to warm up for the slow-starting giant, at least that’s what we hope. Lee has six homers in 17 games at home and four homers in 16 road contests. At this pace, he will hit 29 at home and 20 on the road in 2005. While it would be foolish to expect his output to date to hold up over the course of the whole season, expecting last year’s hoped for 33% increase—about 40 total jacks—seems more than reasonable.
Now Those are the Cubs I Remember
I was going to post this after the six or seventh loss of The Streak, but then I thought I’d wait for when they lost their 8th of 9, which seemed inevitable what with the tenuousness of Z’s victory the other day.
These are the Cubs I remember. It’s like the 1970s all over again. Raise expectations with a great, but ultimately futile, season. Check. Produce back-to-back-winning seasons with contention through September. Check. Right about now, it’s time to dash all hope as the realization sets in that our team is just not that good. In the early ‘70s, our hopes were raised and dashed, raised and dashed, and then the slow, unending decline set in that beat fans down with cruelty and no pity.
Last week I tried to look at the Flip Side of things, trying to find reasons to be cheerful, or at least not despairing. Today, I don’t have a good feeling about the rest of the season, and I’m starting to think the Cubs’ record will be 23-31 when I finally get home to Chicago to see the Cubs on June 7th and 8th next month.
Why? I can’t rehash the litany you all know so well. (The one that goes: “Corey/leadoff/Bullpen/Closer/Hawkins/Hollandsworth/Dubois/Injuries/Dusty/Blah/Bloody/Blah”)
I don’t like it, but I am jumping on the bandwagon of pessimists among us. It seems the familiar thing to do.
Life on the Flipside
Look at the standings in MLB. Anyone else find it hard to take that perennial Cub rivals the Cardinals and the White Sox, and Sammy Sosa’s new team the Orioles, are the hottest teams in baseball?
That just makes the hurt even worse, no? Maybe, but for every action there is a reaction, and every 45 rpm single
has a flip side
Cub-deniers the Marlins
are in first in the NL East.
(But the insufferable Yankees
are fighting for last place in the AL East.)
Arizona, Milwaukee, and the ex-Expos are all doing better than the Cubs.
(But the Astros are doing worse, and Carlos Beltran’s new squad is barely doing any better.)
Aramis Ramirez seems to be channeling 2004 Moises Alou
on the basepaths, and in terms of general hustle.
(He also seems to have found Moises’s bat from last year sometime this week.)
(Joe Borowski is apparently looking good in Iowa.)
Milwaukee has a 6-game winning streak.
(Greg Maddux goes today. And it’s a day game.)
I think the creations of this website
are priceless, and deserve wide circulation!
The Cubs Blog Army
is going all out on this Neifi! For All-Star campaign
and I think it is great. But there is no way I’m clicking through 50 votes every day until June 30!
At least with the Virtual Waiting Room
, all you had to do was refresh, and not go through a tedious list of repetitive tasks like some 1970s data entry operator
For Augie Ojeda, maybe, but Neifi!?
Question: What is .983?
Answer: Why it’s the on base plus slugging percentage (OPS) of Neifi Perez after 17 games and 52 plate appearances, of course.
But I will not dwell on the wonder that is Neifi, or Dusty, or Nomar, or LaTroy, or Wood’s shoulder.
What about the fact the entire Cubs’ lineup, with the exception of Derrek Lee, is just going up hacking every at bat? If I recall correctly, Aramis Ramirez and Michael Barrett were both more patient last year and willing to work a count, and both were much more productive. I know the style of Baker/Matthews/Clines is to be aggressive in the zone, but I think the top of the order (and Barrett) especially, needs to get more selective. Actually, I think Corey Patterson is a little more patient than he was last year, which was really an imperative, but Hairston, Hollandsworth, Burnitz, Dubois, Blanco, Ramirez, Perez and Barrett are all giving the pitcher way too much of a break and giving themselves way too few pitches to see.
Does anyone believe anything Baker or Hendry says?
All winter long, Hendry went on about Dempster as a closer. Never happened, never even pitched in relief during the Cactus League.
All spring long, Baker went on about Patterson as the lead-off man. Corey did bat lead-off in the Cactus League and underwent special lead-off man instruction. That lasted what, about two weeks (in the regular season)? Of course, Patterson has a grand total of two walks (and 15 strike outs) in 18 games and an on base percentage of .308. I’m glad he’s not in the 1 hole anymore. I just don’t like the way Cubs management seemingly campaigns
for assigning players certain roles, and then abandons the direction they led everyone to believe they were taking, without explanation. Be more circumspect, guys, it’s OK. If you’re not sure Hawkins is going to work out as closer, go ahead and say so. He can deal with it. Don’t put up a smokescreen, like with Dempster, and expect the fans to follow along next time.
Nomar We Hardly Knew Ye
Or, Nomah Nomar
It seemed too good to be true. When the trade materialized out of thin air at the 11th hour, and during the Cactus League ’05 when the old Nomar made a guest appearance, ripping the cover off the ball all across the desert. Of course it was too good to be true
Muscle ripped off the bone? That’s a far worse image than the close-up on Carlos Zambrano’s blood blister that ESPN showed during my evening meal (we had Cubs for dinner tonight, on the actual TV instead of the computer).
The poor guy, as they say here, must be “in bits.” After everything that’s happened in his last year or two, this really takes the biscuit.
Neifi is going to be the man—who else would be available? Could anything be done about adding a big bat in left field, at this time of year?
Bring Us Your Reds
Looking forward to reading all about Kerry Wood's dominant return to Cincinnati, where he sets 'em up and mows 'em down. For a pitcher who lacks consistency, this is one area (pitching in Cincy) where has yet to let us fans down. I'll have to read about it Tuesday morning because the game will be on too late for me to watch on this side of the pond.
I got stuck with the Pirates announcers on MLB.TV yesterday, and although they weren’t as annoying as I remember them from last year (constantly referring to their team as the “Buccos”), I’m grateful that the Cubs can attract higher caliber talent (despite my initial dislike of Bob Brenly). The Pirates play-by-play man Lanny Somebody is one of those small market nobodies with no sense of narration. Too quiet. The color man meanwhile is ex-Pirates pitcher Bob Walk, who is good at analyzing the pitching, but lacks knowledge of many of the opposing position players. Should perhaps point out that these guys, while definitely local boosters, did not shy away from criticizing their own team and manager. (They also questioned several of Dusty's moves, including Hairston's sac bunt and taking out Maddux after 77 quality pitches).
We Now Resume Your Regular Programming -- Hopefully
My apologies for the lack of updates. Hibernating is a good way to describe it, but that's the website, not me. I've simply been off-line from the CBA
but not off-line from the Cubs. Funny though, as soon as Cubdom Byron
put it in the Editor's Pick category, CFB tanked. Didn't take too long for him to notice and yank the link from that exalted section. Must be some twisted fear of success on my part, eh?
I hope to post once or twice a week over the coming months. Let’s see if I can manage the transition from an off-season news link hub to a more personal fan blog….
Some random tid-bits:
--I have been put off by what seems like an out-of-control wave of negativity from the media, Cubs message boards, and Dusty Baker, since the season started about 10 days ago. Nobody seems to want to give this team a chance. At the other end of the spectrum is new Cubs TV analyst Bob Brenly, who seems to always be making excuses for poor Cub performance. I don’t like either extreme. I do like Len Kasper though.
--“While putting up a North Side ballpark might have been folly even five years prior to 1913, new forms of public transportation—the electric street car and the elevated trains—were by then serving the north side of the city.” If that’s the kind of thing that makes your eyes glaze over, then don’t read Wrigley Field: The Unauthorized Biography
, by Stuart Shea. I, however, eat up that kind of stuff and have enjoyed Shea’s book. Did you know, for example, that more NFL games have been played in Wrigley Field than any other stadium? Did you know that Wrigley Field (version 1.0) took only seven weeks to build?
--There are now around a thousand Cubs fan blogs, but did you know that there is also a brisk business on the Internet of Anti-Cubs fan sites?http://cubssuck.blogspot.com/http://spaces.msn.com/members/longer12/http://www.angelfire.com/il2/cubssuck/http://cubssuck.knup.net/http://store.dartboard411.net/048.html
--Soon to come: an essay on a season (2003) of following the Cubs over Internet radio
--Okay, it might not be that soon. But after that, I’ll write about a season (2004) of following the Cubs over MLB.TV
New Cubs Closer: Chad Fox?
I had not seen this floated anywhere before now, but Bruce Miles in this morning’s Herald
mentions--matter-of-factly--that non-roster invitee Chad Fox is a candidate for the closer job. Dusty has apparently not made up his mind yet, after telling the press last week that he had a pretty good idea of who would get the nod.
Despite this curious report, I still think Joe Borowski will get the job.
The World Turned Upside Down
Hey, I liked the picture of Greg Maddux in the green hat, posted on Bleed Cubbie Blue
yesterday. I hope everyone had a good St. Patrick’s Day, if they were so inclined to observe or celebrate it.
What did I do on the day, seeing as I am posting from Ireland where March 17th is a national holiday. Why, I played baseball of course.
Here in my town we have one of the few baseball clubs in the country, I have been involved in the youth program for four years, and also sometimes hang out with our adult team (who are all quite a bit younger than me). So after our local parade, which enjoyed sunny, 65-degree weather, the senior team congregated at the rugby club
, threw up the homemade backstop, and had their first intra-squad game of spring training (the amateur Irish Baseball League season begins in three weeks).
Your correspondent, although more than twice the age of some of the real players (mostly aged 16 to 25), didn’t acquit himself too badly. I made four plays at second base, one in left field, and blew a couple both at the keystone and in right. I had three at bats and only saw four pitches (I guess I’m like Corey that way, or maybe Nomar!), but never reached base on my infield outs.
So, while many of my fellow Irish residents were walking around with a sore head today on March 18, I’ve been limping around with sore legs, back and arms. The world has truly turned upside down.(Back to Cubs content in next post)
Dubois Deserves a Shot
Right now, I have my eyes closed and my hands over my ears, and I am muttering repeatedly “I can’t hear you!” “I can’t hear you!”
If you want to know what I think of the Wood and Prior situations, please see above.
Regarding the rest of the roster, I am sorry to hear that Dave Hansen has been rushed to hospital for an emergency appendectomy, and that he will be out for three weeks. I was looking forward to Hansen possibly performing the role that Todd Hollandsworth did so well during the first half of last year: crafty veteran lefty hitter off the bench. Now, he clearly will not be ready for Opening Day and his future with Cubs is decidedly murky.
Speaking of Hollandsworth, I wonder if he is feeling the pressure coming from below from both Jerry Hairston Jr. and Jason Dubois. Hairston demonstrated his value in the outfield on Saturday, making assists on two plays from center field. Dubois, meanwhile, is leading the Cubs in Spring home runs and is hitting .389, behind only Aramis Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra, and Henry Blanco among 25-man roster players. I watched him last night muscle the ball to left on that RBI single and thought: that guy is a major leaguer. Dusty Baker will not start him in front of Hollandsworth, but I hope he and Jim Hendry will reward the MVP from Game 162 last year with more than a bench role on the big club. He deserves it.
From around the country:Cubs fans stretching HoHoKam for record
(Arizona Republic)Nats reliever Beltran to have elbow surgery
Barrett Should Catch Maddux
Just a short break from my (business) trip to poke my nose into the Cubs world this week:
I saw the televised Cubs-Rangers game on my laptop Monday night in Munich, and although I wound up falling asleep before it was over, I enjoyed seeing Joe Borowski yell at himself after that first walked batter and then get out of the jam quickly. Also savored the Greg Maddux appearance, but I have just one thing to say about the personal catcher thing that was brought up during the broadcast and in the papers the next day.
Dusty Baker says that Michael Barrett will be catching Maddux this year, at least during Spring Training, because Barrett can learn so much from the experience. Maddux says that he’s happy pitching to anyone, but with the same guy you can work together on days off, watching hitters and developing strategies for certain players.
That all makes sense, but it always seemed to me that all that work was sort of, well, wasted on the back-up catcher who only pitched on days when Maddux would start (as Paul Bako did last year).
Here’s a suggestion that takes into account the starting catcher’s need for regular rest and the back-up’s need to stay sharp, Maddux’s preference for working with his catcher on off days, and Dusty’s desire to have Barrett benefit from working with Maddux.
Why not have Barrett take the day off the day before
every Maddux start? That way, Barrett plays 130 games with regular days off and Dusty’s rather understandable desire to have the two work together is achieved. The only downside is that Maddux would only have one day to prep with his catcher before starts rather than four, but at least it would be the day before.
Maddux said early this Spring that Michael Barrett is going to become one of the best catchers in the league. I think these two should be throwing to each other on a regular basis, even though I expect some to contend that Blanco was hired specifically to help Maddux hold runners at first. But if Barrett is going to become one of the best, he is going to have to start doing that too.
Spring is Here
Now is an appropriate time for me to suspend news updates indefinitely. I’ll be traveling all next week, and real life is cutting into my excess Cubs energy despite the mounting excitement about the upcoming season.
Next Monday’s spring training game against the Rangers is going to be available to watch here in Ireland on NASN
, the special pay channel that shows American sports. I have access to NASN for the first time this year (got satellite finally) and would have ordered it in time for the game if I weren’t going to be in Germany next week.
I like all the noises coming out of Mesa, but I’m wary because of the way the Cubs dealt with springtime injuries last year. Most interesting to me will be finding out what the pitching staff will look like next month, with all those prospects and non-roster guys competing for just a few open slots, and the fifth starter position still wide open.
I see the radio broadcast of today’s Spring opener against Oakland will be available through MLB.com
– I’ll have to think about subscribing again. It would be nice just to hear Pat and Ron
– it would certainly help get this lingering winter feeling more like spring.
The Monday After
It's the Monday after the Virtual Waiting Room Weekend.
Want to hear my ticket story? I’m sure you don’t, but too bad. I was after tickets for June 10th, the first game of the Red Sox series. As you probably know, that was the first series to sell out, and no, I did not get lucky. This left me with a dilemma when I finally got the chance to order tickets after four mind-numbing hours watching the PC screen.
Like many, I like baseball the way it was played when I first became a fan. I don’t actually like inter-league play, because of the unbalanced schedule, but I am only going to be in Chicago for about a week this year and it corresponds with the inter-league part of the schedule. On the other hand, I could probably stretch my trip by a day or two and go see the Marlins on the 13th. Trouble is, that’s a night game, and I like night baseball even less than inter-league play. So although the Marlins game would have been somewhat more meaningful, given the two teams’ history together and the fact that Florida should be an NL contender in ’05, I decided to go see the Blue Jays on the 8th in the sunshine with my Dad. We’ll sit in the same section (upper deck box) we sat in for the Cubs 16-15 victory over the Reds
, when Bill Buckner and George Mitterwald both hit a pair of homers and both Reuschel brothers pitched, with Rick coming in to win the game in the 13th inning. We also had luck in that section last year, in another walk-off victory
in extra innings.
In the Tribune today
, we learn that Carlos Zambrano will start the Cubs’ spring opener against the Athletics on Thursday. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild also confirms that Ryan Dempster could be fifth-starter material. Could this mean that Joe Borowski truly is looking like his old self?
Meanwhile, in the Sun-Times
, the Cubs have apparently denied that they are talking to Detroit and Oakland about their surplus closers, Ugueth Urbina and Octavio Dotel.
When I started Cubs for Breakfast on last November 1st, I imagined it would follow this news aggregation format up until the season started in April. Once the season starts, although there is a lot of news, it is almost all game news and we all have plenty of things -- like watching the actual games -- to focus our Cubs energy on. When the season starts, I thought, I would migrate to a more traditional blog format, flexing some writing muscles and including personal views and impressions of an overseas Cubs fan.
Although I've been on vacation the last 10 days, I've checked the headlines, and it seems all the stories from all the sources are the same - almost like during the season. Since it's been awhile, I'll go ahead and post some of today's headlines below. Over the next six weeks, I will continue to watch for significant (and, of course, obscure) news which I will pass on, but I will start experimenting with more personal blogging as well.
PS: I am going to skip the Sosa
soap opera stories.HeraldBorowski happy with early results (Miles)Sun-TimesAll in the Cubs family: Mia gets Wrigley honor (Kiley)From around the country
Apparently, ESPN will be showing more baseball games this year, at least in April and May, due to the lack of hockey. Does that mean more analysts are needed? Today's New York Post
says both Steve Stone and Eric Karros
could land color jobs with the network shortly, and the Los Angeles Daily News
confirms that Karros' is a done deal.
No news this morning, but an article making the rounds since Friday is enough to provide a little bit of cheer cheer to Cubs fans, if you haven't already seen it. The Arizona Republic reported
that 15 members of the Cubs' spring roster arrived early last week, including Corey Patterson and Jason Dubois.
Oakland GM Billy Beane told the Athletics' fan fest that Octavio Dotel is not on the trading block
, despite the Cubs' apparent interest in the closer.Over the next week and half I will be offline more than usual, and so updates to this site will be few, and possibly, non-existent
. In the meantime though, check the other sites in the Cubs Blog Army (listed on the right side of the page) for ongoing coverage of the Cubs.