Preview: The Peoria Northsider Report
The Peoria Northsider Report
News and Commentary on Major League Baseball's Only Truly Cursed Team!
Let's Warm Up the Stove!
Well it was amazing that our apathy here at PNR reached the point that we went through an entire season without a post! With the Cubbies centennial season (w/o a world championship) upon us, and with Hendry making some major moves, maybe we can stoke a fire in the offseason stove.
I'll give Hendry credit for being willing to throw big dollars out there again this year to land Fukudome. But the the lion's share of his other moves this winter puzzle me. So maybe we have a right fielder who will out achieve the platoon of Jones & Floyd, but I'm not convinced we have a center fielder. So far Felix Pie seems to be Corey Patterson II. What do you think?
Cubs continue free spending ways & sign...Left handed Pitcher Ted Lilly to a 4 year, $40 million deal
. I don't know what has gotten into Jim Hendry this off season (and unfortunately it may have come 3 years too late), but it certainly is promising.
In fact, this pessimist may start to believe that the Cubs might just be on their way to becoming the favorites in a weak NL Central division.
Certainly, the acquisition of Crazy Lou as manager looked to portend such a spending frenzy, as we suggested on this page a month and a half ago
. None of us, however, expected Jim to open the purse strings so liberally.
Oh and by the way - welcome Ryno to Peoria!
We're glad to have you!
FROM THE RED STATESWell it has been some time since I have posted anything on the blog, pretty busy with school going in full swing, not to mention some computer problems. At any rate I have extra time this week because I am on my regularly scheduled "The Cardinals are in the World Series so I am going on Vacation" Vacation.Being motivated also by my good friend Chris' message he left me on my cell phone about the Cardinals could be the team with the fewest wins to win the World Series. To that I publicly respond by saying "who cares". That's true, who cares, except for maybe bitter jealous Cub fans, especially those who have never had the pleasure of seeing their beloved Scrubbies play in a Fall Classic, where as I being the youngest poster on this blog have now got to see the Cardinals playing in 5 of them.I must say my feelings are mixed so far in this one. Going into it I was hoping to not have to re-live the debacle of 2004. Chris insists the 2004 World Series was a choke job by the Cardinals, I disagree. We just ran into a buzz saw in that series and we never led at any point in the 4 games, that is no choke job. My definition of a choke job would be getting 5 outs away from your first World Series in decades, with a lead, with your ace on the mound and imploding after one of your own fans interferes in a game a denies your left fielder the chance of catching a fly ball. Then ultimately getting your bootay spanked the next night to finish off the mother of all choke jobs.Saturday night I was just hoping to not have to re-live 2004, and was pleasantly surprised at the pitching performance of Mark Prior's college team mate at USC, and getting game 1. Then I began to get greedy and thought man if we could steal game 2 and go home up 2-0, with Carpenter and Suppan set to go, we will be in great shape. It wasn't meant to be when the ghost of Don Denkinger appeared in the shape of Kenny Rogers and "smudge gate". I was 10 years old when the Dink screwed us in 1985, and remember it well, and I got that same feeling watching Kenny "George Brett" Rogers, the camera man beating scum bag cheat his way through a masterpiece. We got beat by a "clump of dirt" and a pitcher clearly on the juice. Not to mention footage showed the same clump of dirt on the same spot on his hand in his 2 previous outings in the postseason. Listening to the "Gambler" or "Cheater" in his post game press conference he clearly is a man lying through his teeth. The story changed three different times in a three or four minute interview. At any rate we move on to St. Louis satisfied with a split against their best 2 pitchers, with our worst 2. Now we get to see what Detroilet can do with Carpenter and Suppan who is one of the biggest big game pitchers in the past decade or so. Jack Morris, Clemens, Smoltz and Suppan. He may not be flashy but I don't know any other pitcher going today that I would want in a big game. As attested to by his 15 innings, 1 run performance in the NLCS. Not to mention he out pitched Roger Clemens in game 7 of the 2004 NLCS. And he didn't even have a "clump of dirt" on his pitching hand.So I got mixed feelings, excited we got out of there with a split, but bummed out by last nights game, especially to see Kenny Rogers get away with his obvious cheating ways. But I like our chances in the next 2 but that means nothing.Cub fans should be pulling for the Cards for 2 reasons, maybe a World Championship by your arch rival will motivate the tribune to spend some cash and build a winner, and also you could say you won the season series against the the World Champions. I know most fans would not take much from that but when your relegated to pulling for the Cubs you gotta take small victories when you can get 'em. I would gladly help you Cub fans out and take a ring, even if it means being the team with the fewest wins to win the World Series.On a side note I will admit I might have to start watching the Scrubbies again, should make for good TV watching Pine[...]
Welcome to the north side crazy Lou!
As many of you know by now, the Cubs have brought crazy Lou Piniella on board to manage the national league ball club from Chicago
Although some rather influential members
of the CBA regard this as a negative development, we do not share that opinion.
Crazy Lou's arrival suggests that Lou himself believes that the organization is able and willing to do what it takes in the near-term
to get this team back into playoff contention since Lou [reportedly] wasn't interested in long-term building projects.
Now whether Lou's belief is justified remains to be seen (clearly there must be some doubt due to the Herculean nature of that task).
At the very least though, the Cubs must have done a good job convincing Lou that they are serious about taking the necessary [and no doubt dramatic] measures to fix this miserable team.
Then again, they just installed a salesman as team President.
Well, even if none of that pans out - at the very least
some of us frustrated Cubs fans can derive vicarious satisfaction through Lou's public tirades when things start heading south (as we know they inevitably will).
That’s worth quite a bit to fans who have little else to grab onto.
Lou embodies the "we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore!" ethos better than anyone else, and as such he is the consummate fan's choice to manage this incompetent team.
When Lou overturns a table in the clubhouse, we will feel as if he had overturned that table for us.
Turn over another one buddy!
When Lou rips up 1st
base and throws it into right field, he will be throwing that base on our behalf.
Go throw 2nd
into center crazy Lou!
When Lou kicks dust repeatedly onto an ump after a bogus call, we will be screaming lustily for more dirt to be kicked due to the many years of travesty that we have suffered from umpires, players, managers, and the inept organization itself!
Kick some more dirt for me!
If nothing else, I will sleep better at night knowing that someone very near to the top is as torqued-off as I am at the way things are going.
I would, however, suggest that everyone in the clubhouse keep their wallets in sight
I don't have a clue why I'm bothering with this, but here goes.Now that it is September, we can begin the traditional look-ahead to next year. Even with my advanced years, I can not recall a season like this one, where we could have launched this topic in May. But, since it is now OFFICIALLY September, we begin a short discussion of Cubs 2007, hopefully to be followed by the Blog being hijacked by Football season.It looks to me like blame for the 2006 season will be placed on the resident imbecile in the manager's chair rather than where it should be, with the tag team of Hendry & Ownership. Be that as it may, I do look forward to ANYONE who dines on something other than toothpicks to be pacing the dugout next year. A lot of pundits will predict that it will be Peoria boy, Joe Girardi, who may escape the "living soap opera" in Florida. I wouldn't mind that. The only down side is that I hate to see a good, standup guy like Girardi become the next person everyone in Chicago hates. That would truely be misdirected hatred.I would talk more about the players coming and players going, but time doesn't permit that right now. So I'll turn this column over to the readers, if we still have any.
Survey: Two questions about the 2006 seasonA few days ago I stated that with the Cubs 2006 season about wrapped up, it only remains to be seen if the Sox will repeat, and if that will have any positive effect on the Northside. I think there is a good chance that the Sox will repeat and I think we all know that it will have no effect on how the lovable losers are managed.That being said, I would like to get your opinion on two interesting topics.1) The Cub brass will at least have to make it look like they care about this fiasco. So who will be the scapegoat for the 2006 season? Baker? Wood, by way of not re-signing him? other?2) Okay, a bone for Randy. :) How many home runs will Pujols hit this year? And since he's presumably not doing it with steroids, how's he doing it?
Revisiting pre-season prognostications:
I hate to tell you that I told you so, but...
I published the following post
on this page December 20th of last year - just after Jacque Jones was signed to a 3 year deal:
That sound you just heard...
was the sound of the Cubs 2006 season flushing down the toilet. You see, the Cubs just inked Jacque Jones to a 3-year deal:
Why are prospects for next season swirling down the johnny as a result of this signing?
Because it signals most of all that Jim Hendry just doesn't understand the extent of the problems with this team as it is currently constructed and managed.
This is not a team on the cusp of playoff contention in need only of minor improvement (and it is arguable how much improvement [if any] Jones provides over the underwhelming Jeromy Burnitz).
This is a team that is deeply flawed - and deeply flawed on a number of levels. It is especially flawed in terms of offense (or lack thereof) - but it is also a team that has a very questionable starting rotation. That's never a good combination. It's certainly not a team that will contend.
Here's the bottom line - Jacque Jones isn't the answer to what proved to be an absolutely horrendous (from an offensive standpoint) OF last year. The offensive production was downright offensive last year, if you get what I mean. And Jones isn't going to substantially improve things.
In fact you can write this down - because it comes from a baseball realist - this team as presently constructed will struggle to finish third in the division next year (and that's assuming no injuries).
You don't like that prognosis? Go over to fantasy land and get your fix of continually deferred hope. For my part, I don't deal in fantasy - only reality - and sometimes it really does bite folks.
I suspect that Jim will tell us in the near future just how "satisfied" he is with the team as presently constructed. Just like last year in fact. He was satisfied with what he had then - in fact he was pretty sure the club could "survive" when Wood, Williamson, and Garciaparra returned in early August. And that turned out splendidly as we all know.
And to be honest, I don't know why he wouldn't be "satisfied."
After all, who isn't satisfied with fourth place in the division!
It didn't take a rocket scientist to realize that the team Jim Hendry assembled was destined for failure. Looking forward, what will be particularly revealing is how this team will continue to ring up losses at an alarming rate even after the return of Wood and Prior
(image) What a fool looks like..........
Obviously there is nothing more to say about the 2006 edition of the Chicago Cubs. The prophet Christoper has proven to be as accurate as Isaiah. This is getting embarrassing, and I've been a Cub fan for a long time. Tooo long. Looks like the highlight of the season will be Pierre's robbing Bonds of # 714 (temporarily). The only questions that remain are: will the Sox repeat; and if so, will that add enough embarrassment to drive change on the north side? The answer to the first one is "maybe", and to the second one "I doubt it". Mediocrity has been perfected and transformed to profitable success on the north side. I don't believe Tribune Co. wants to change that. Since there is nothing more to say I'll just shamelessly sign off with a personal picture documenting too many years of yearning. I suppose Randy would call me a "ledgie". But a fool seems more appropriate.
FREAKEN ANGELO...Well I have said it once and I will say it again, "the Bears will never win anything until Jerry Angelo is fired." In the weeks leading up to the draft I kept hearing that the Bears have zero needs because we were returning all 22 starters. In my own mind, I was thinking that this was simply pre-draft pandering on Jerry's part to increase any possible trade value he might be considering. I was thinking he possibly couldn't be so stupid to not see any needs on offense. He couldn't be so stupid to realize that 11 returning starters on defense was good, because we had a good defense. However, 11 returning starters on offense was bad BECAUSE WE HAD THE 31ST RANKED OFFENSE IN THE LEAGUE. So in other words they sucked last year, but we got tham all back again this year, and in Jerry's mind that's a good thing. He couldn't be that stupid.I learned a valuable lesson, never underestimate the level of stupidity in the front office of the Chicago Bears. I was wrong, Jerry Angelo is that stupid.I heard leading up to the draft that we had no needs, we don't need a tight end, we don't need a wide reciever who is capable of getting down the field and catching the ball, we don't need a few lineman to back up our AARP squad we got on the line, no we need defense. I will be the first to admit that another cornerback was needed, but there was so much on offense that we needed more. At the 26th pick the Bears had their choice of tight ends. I personally would have been aggressive and tried to move up and get Vernon Davis, but even at 26 we had Marcedes Lewis, Fassano, Klopfenstein, or my personal favorite Leonard Pope, who we passed on 3 times. Instead, we traded down into the second round to get the third round pick we gave away for Ricky Manning, and used that to draft another cornerback. Real shrewed there. Then even another cornerback in Devin Hester, with our original pick in the second. In all 5 of our first 5 picks are on the defensive side of the ball, and we finally picked a lineman and a fullback in the 6th round.Thank the Lord we are set with such a solid offense that we are in for another great season.
FROM THE RED STATESI last spoke to Chris at church on Sunday, and as per his norm, he assured me that the Cubs season was done, the Cubs have now won 3 straight without Derrek Lee in the lineup. Chris is my friend and even though he is a Cubs fan, I tried to encourage him, I tried to talk him in off the ledge, but he was adamant that the Cubs were screwed. Again I say, since that time the Cubs have won 3 straight. Which is why I must say I am surprised that I didn't see the "Cubs are going to the World Series" post on the blog. Chris is what we Cardinal fans commonly refer to Cub fans as a "ledgie." You know one minute there are out on the "ledge" and ready to throw themselves off, and then the Cubs win a few and all the sudden they are the greatest team of all time. So cheer up Chris, the Cubs season is far from over.I think it is about time to give Maddux a whiz quiz. Let me get this straight, the guy goes from a over 4 ERA to below 1, in one off season. Especially when you consider he is 40 years old. Maddux is clearly one of the greatest pitchers of our time, and of all time, but come on. His fastball is about 4 or 5 mph faster than he has been in the past few years, supposedly as a result of his so-called "workout regiment" in the off season. Yeah it sounds like about the same workout regiment Barroid Bonds was going through about the time he turned 40 years old. This "workout" isn't sponsored by Balco is it. I thought something might be funny when I saw Maddux doing commercials for the "Whizzinator." Although I will confess three of his four starts have been against the Cardinals, and Dodgers, who have two of the most pathetic offenses in the NL, so let's hold off judgement until he pitches to a team with more than one player hitting over .300. However, the mysterious 5 extra mph on his fastball is suspicious.At any rate, as I told Chris on Sunday, the Cubs just need to hang in there for a couple months, stay in the race and make their run down the stretch when they get everybody back. Their offense is definately much improved, and much better than the Cardinals. The Cardinals have only Pujols doing anything, which amazes me that teams still continue to pitch to him. As the season goes along, and we start playing series against other contenders, I look for Alberts walks to rise dramatically. Our pen is rounding into shape, as I suspected it would, 14 consecutive shutout innings is very impressive. We need another bat or two, but I definately don't see us or anyone for that matter running away with this division as the Cardinals have the past two years. Which might be a blessing considering the past two years the Cardinals haven't played a meaningfull game in two or three months before the playoffs. I think that hurts you come playoff time. I look for the NL Central to be an exciting race, and the wildcard is definately coming out of the Central again, with the West being a joke, and the Mets running away with the East, and the Braves being lucky to finish .500. Looking forward to it.
UH-OHLee's injury makes ya kinda wish for a run-producing RFer and more starting pitching, doesn't it?At this point I'd be happy, no, make that ecstatic, if the Cubs are .500 by June 30 . . . There will be a drop in run production, which is at 5.4/game right now. A decent number, but aside from losing Lee's production, this will create a big hole in the line-up that cannot be filled by anyone. Either, at best, a .270/.330/.350 type platoon will be implimented at first or Walker will be moved over there and the production at second will be slightly less than those numbers. Plus, even if Ramirez gets hot (I don't see anyone really pitching around Walker or Barrett at this point) he'll be pitched around. And then there is the loss of Lee's defense, which is outstanding. With the current starting pitching every run is needed, except when Maddux is dealing.There is only room for a little hope. This is found in the fact that Ramirez and Jones haven't produced much except for a few sprained butt references (.196/.288/.348 and .207/.273/.345, respectively) and they could start to produce (even though I don't expect Jones to contribute much more than .250/.320/.400, but I'd take that). Pierre can pick it up some as a table setter, raising his OBP into the .350s from his current Neifi-esque .295. Barrett and Walker are already producing a lot while Murton and Cedeno have been solid and fantastic offensively; and Wood/Prior/Miller might be well enough to start during Lee's extended leave, but how much they can deliver is still unknown. A lot needs to happen to compensate for Lee's hiatus. Like I said: ecstatic if the Cubs are .500 by June 30.
JUST HONK IT, DUSTYI'm not sure if this is just an L.A. thing--I don't remember this being the case when I lived in/drove in/worked in Chicago-- but it seems that whenever fellow Angelinos drive through any sort of tunnel, they honk their car horns just for fun. Everything from beep-beep to the classic shave-and-a-hair-cut . . . two-bits honk. And I think I've even heard a scat or two from the artsy crowd--you know the type driving hybrids and other vehicles resembling toasters. It seems my 3 year-old son has picked up on this and now demands that we join in. I confess that I encourage it because he enjoys it, even though the Mrs. is (rightly) worried about honking enduced road-rage. So whenever we approach a tunnel or bridge, he starts commanding, "Just HONK it, daddy." "Just honk it." I'd like to co-opt his demand--not because Walker is a fellow honky--but because we need his offense in the line-up everyday. Now, I should have said this over the weekend when I thought of it, but didn't have the time. And I'd like to thank Walker for bolstering my case--well, actually his case--with last night's performance, solid defense and great production. So let me just throw this out there and be as clear as possible: Todd Walker should start everyday.No righty/lefty platoons. No let's get Hairston/Neifi some abs. No let's get some defense in there with a ground ball pitcher. Just play Walker. His offense more than makes up for any perceived defensive liability.I'm not trying to cherry-pick stats and make a case, but I believe the following supports the Just Honk It argument for Walker . And I'm mostly thinking of Walker in comparison to Hairston, because--hopefully--Neifi will be used more to play SS or 3b . . . hopefully . . .- Walker has proven himself to be a valuable offensive player for years. His VORP in '04 and '05 was 19.8 and 25.9 while Hairston's was 9.3 and 0.5. For comparison's sake, Neifi's VORP in those years was 8.6 and 6.6 for Chicago, but he had a -14.4 VORP for the Giants in '04 and -4.8 in '03.- Walker gets on base more because he has a consistantly higher average than Hairston, even though they walk at about the same rate. And they both strike out at a relatively low rate as well, 12% of the time (From '01-'05: Walker had 309 K/2519 AB with 223 BB while Hairston had 228 K/1843 AB with 161 BB). Neifi strikes out at a lower rate than both (10%) but walks less than half as much (from '01-05: 232 K/2416 AB with 102 BB).- Hairston has never proven he can thrive with more than 300 abs ('01: 532 ab/.233 avg; '02: 426 ab/.268 avg; '05: 380 ab/.261 avg). And he is 29, not a still-developoing 24 year old.- Hairston appears to be more of a .260's hitter with a .320-.330 obp than the .303/.378 numbers he put up in his best year so far ('04: 287 ab), right before he came to Chicago.-Walker's Career SLG: .443; Hairston's career SLG: .371.- Walker can play everyday and be more than adequate at second defensively. -The differential at 2b between Walker and Hairston is not what it is made out to be (although Hairston and Neifi are better defensively, with more range). Here is the comparison of Fielding Pct./Zone Rating from '01-'05: Walker .984/.822 .989/.820 .975/.788 .981/.824 .985/.802 Hairston .976/.839 .982/.844 .980/.822 .983/.882 .973/.843If the choices at 2b are Walker or Hairston, I'd start Hairston on the low end of once or twice a week. This would give him roughly 30-35 starts and about 140 PA plus pinch-hitting, late inning defensive substitutions, pinch-running and the always entertaining Dusty double switches. More importantly, by limiting Hairston's appearances and playing Walker, this would give the Cubs a very solid number two hitter ahead of Lee and Ramirez.The good news is that Dusty isn't that far off from doin[...]
Baseball Prospectus RadioBaseball Prospectus
is offering a downloadable (and podcasting) radio show at http://www.baseballprospectus.com/radio/
It's excellent listening. If you're interested in stats, their sabremetricians will keep you up to date with much more powerful measures than the standard AVG and ERA.
RE-LEE-FWell, Hendry's contract can be rescinded with a big "Psych!" from the Trib-brass, now that Lee has just been inked to a 5 year deal worth $65m [Actually, as Chuck over at Ivy Chat notes, the 5 year deal essentially includes a $5.4m raise this year ('06) and $13m over the next 4 ('07, '08, '09, 10)]. This is the right move, locking him up for the long term. But this is only what Hendry should have done; no monumental accomplishment like downing a box of Krispy Kremes during the 7th inning stretch. It isn't as if Lee indicated he wanted to stay--oh wait, he did. I'm not, however, a big fan of no trades clauses, which this contract apparently has. Better to bump up the salary slightly than be stuck with an oft-injured, low-producing, former stud that cannot be moved . . . Kerry Wood anyone?Hendry has stumbled and bumbled this off season--with only his Enron-Christmas-Party type spending on the bullpen being somewhat redemptive. Although he had to do something there too. He sat on his hand (not hands because he had to hold the donut) while he watched Furcal, all the decent Right Fielders, and all quality starting pitchers being "snatched up" (a bone for the pre-mills out there and a chart for the uninitiated). We're left with Jackie "I hit once a week whether they need me or not" Jones and the personal injury firm of Miller, Prior, Wood and Labrum. Throw in doing everything in your power to alienate your only legitimate #2 hitter and offensively productive second baseman--the living, bearded quote machine--and that's the inept GM trifecta. Outstanding Jim, you almost did the bare minimum. Now let's hitch our wagon to Dusty for another couple of years too.But, of course, I'm not bitter about any of this. Now where did I put those donuts?
What a Great Game!
As a Cubs fan, the most exciting part of the season is the first few weeks, when we still believe we have a chance at winning the division and attaining some level of playoff glory.
The rest of the season?
Well, not so much.
Inevitably (by early June), we end up like Jim Mora, referring to the playoffs only in the most exasperated of tones.
So forgive us for celebrating. This is, after all, our
time of year.
Last night's game was so much fun, I even went downstairs and got my 2 1/2 year-old son out of bed to finish watching the last inning and a half with me (much to my wife's displeasure).
How about Michael Barrett hitting a game-saving/winning homerun in the 7th/8th innings two games in a row?! I was watching the interview with him after Saturday's heroics (which Camden was at btw), and he is a class act.
That it came against the Cardinals only made it that much nicer. How does that sweep taste Randy?
I don't want to stir up any unfounded optimism (the starting rotation remains a major cause for concern at this point), but if Wood and Prior can come back and contribute for the last 2/3 of the season - this may be a pretty dangerous team.
The offense is improved, and the bullpen is markedly better (if we could have only have had this bullpen in 2003). Walker continues to demonstrate why he needs to be the everyday starting 2nd baseman for this club - he is a solid and patient hitter who works pitchers long into counts and gets on base at an impressive rate.
It's also nice to see Jones finally get a hit or two - apparently the National League ballclub from Chicago needs a free swinging outfielder who strikes out a lot, and Jones has been filling that role admirably thus far.
I think the upcoming road trip at L.A. will be telling, especially since I am projecting the Dodgers to win the west this year and threaten for the pennant crown as well.
If the Season Only Ended TodayWell, we are off to the races!! 1st place and undefeated!! What a way to finish the season. If this were only the finish. :) But our only bonafide starting pitcher not on Medicare just started, so now what do we do for the next four days?
MY NEW BUSINESS IDEA...It just hit me, I have a great idea for a business that I think will make me a fortune. I am going to open up my own Jack Kevorkian assisted suicide business for all you Cubs fans that are ready to committ Harry Caray. Let's see for 100$ I will put you Cubs fans out of your misery and end it all. With the Illini's predictable second round choke job in the NCAA (although a big, no I mean HUGE assist goes to the three idiots that must have won some contest and got to be refs for a NCAA game. Well let's just call it what it was-we got screwed and lost to a pathetic team in Washington who made 5 baskets in the second half, thanks to 39 free throws compared to our 11). That's right I called Washington pathetic, and if Jay Bilas and Dick Enberg would have atleast stopped slurping Brandon Roy long enough they might have realized that he only made 4 field goals in the whole game. Brian Randle shut him down atleast until the refs bailed him out and put him at the line where he scored 12 of his 20 points. Along with those that, the Bears appear to be willing to settle for the team we got right now, they have signed nobody and I mean nobody, all while being 23 million dollars UNDER the salary cap. They offered Randle El like 5 bucks an hour if he wanted to come home to Chicago, no wonder why we missed out on him. I guess we got the team we got. I can understand the rational thinking of Jerry Angelo, and when you think about it it makes perfect sense...if we actually improved the team especially the offense, who knows we might actually get to the playoffs again, and then once we got there we might actually maybe win a game, and then once we won one game we might get some momentum built up and go to the Super Bowl, heck we might even win the Super Bowl. That would be great but then once you do that other teams will be raiding your roster looking for free agents then we will have to give everyone a raise to keep them so screw it let's just keep the guys we got which is pretty much the same roster we had the year before when we finished 5-11, settle for 1 trip to the playoffs every 5 years or so, please don't actually win the game just make the playoffs so we can raise our ticket prices and sell more tickets. We wont have to pay anyone and we can stay 23 million under the cap. Collect out 100 million dollars from the league every year in TV revenues and make a fortune. We can go 5-11 every year, have the 4th over all pick and keep drafting running backs who idolize a pot smoking, new age-idiot, who bails out on his team and only decides to return when he finds out he will be forced to give back all the money he stole from the organization.On second thought, I might be my first customer..
Why doesn't this surprise me?
Mark Prior is feeling discomfort in his shoulder
and missed his most recent pitching session so he can be examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum:
Chicago Cubs pitcher Mark Prior will see a specialist in Los Angeles on Wednesday after cutting short a throwing session due to soreness in his right shoulder.
Prior was scheduled to pitch off the mound Tuesday, but he never got there. The shoulder flared up during long tossing.
"It wasn't getting loose so we weren't going to try it," pitching coach Larry Rothschild said.
The right-hander will be examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum.
Peoria Northsider Report projected Cubs opening day rotation:
By way of observation: at this point in his career, Maddux is barely a serviceable #5, but injuries will force him to fill the #2 spot.
That's serious trouble folks. You'd better be praying the offense puts up some serious runs with that rotation (at least Lee looks to be picking up where he left off - however - he just paid a visit to Slocum too after bruising his shoulder in the WBC:
Meanwhile, first baseman Derrek Lee visited Yocum on Tuesday after he bruised his left shoulder diving to catch a foul ball during the United States' victory over Japan on Sunday at the World Baseball Classic.
I'd say the Cubs pretty much have locked up a 3rd place divisional finish.
Good thing the organization was so aggressive in the offseason eh?
Wrigley Latrine Action
I thought twice about even posting this, but after serious deliberation, I have decided to point everyone toward this video snippet
of one seriously disturbed Cub fan. Those who have experienced the lovely troughs in the men's bathrooms at Wrigley and might have a story or two about them can add another to their book of Wrigley Field lore.
WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC...Well, I may have been a little hasty in predicting earlier that the USA was going to win this deal.
Don't get me wrong, I think the US team is very solid but I saw the first few innings of the Dominican/Venezuela game yesterday, and there is no doubt the Dominican lineup is extremely solid.
In fact I think this may be the best lineup ever assembled on one team, including All Star Games. How would you like to pitch to this...Alfonso Soriano 2bMiguel Tejada ssAlbert Pujols 1bDavid Ortiz dhMoises Alou lfAdrian Beltre 3bJaun Encarnacion rfRamon Hernandez cWilly Tavares cfThat's just freaking ridiculous. That's 2 MVP's, 3 Rookies of the Year, and a combined 164 HR's last year FROM THE FIRST 4 GUYS IN THE ORDER. The rest of the lineup aint too shabby either. I am not too sure about the Dominican's pitching staff, they had Bartolo Colon pitching yesterday, so I think the US definitely has the edge in pitching and they're going to need it going up against this lineup.
The US bullpen is sick with Lidge, Cordero, Street, (I think Wagner pulled out) - but that's still an imposing threesome in the late innings. If we're ahead after the 6th, forget it - game over.The Dominican lineup is ridiculous though. It's going to be very tough to beat that. Early in the spring anyone will tell you that the pitching is ahead of the hitting, but that didn't seem to matter to these guys when they get 11 runs off of Johan Santana, Carlos Zambrano, and a very strong Venezuelan pitching staff.Needless to say I am seriously hoping for a USA/Dominican match up. I must confess it was a little heart wrenching to be happy when Derrek Lee hits a homerun. I'm also looking forward to a Pujols /Lidge battle. You have to admit these great meaningful games are a lot more interesting than watching some Class A stiff with numer 89 on his back striking out against some other bum you never heard of, with a bunch of pitchers jogging across the outfield.It is officially baseball season. Praise God.
More Pictures from the Peoria Northsider Report...
Well, we think you've had to suffer through Randy's mug long enough so we're going to brighten things up around here a little bit.
After all, there's nothing of note going on in Cub land - this team as presently constructed will fight for 3rd
in the division this year (sorry to burst the bubble of BCB readers).
In fact, here's a picture that captures what I anticipate will be the essence of the Cubs season this year (picture the Cubs as the guy on the right):(image)
Can anyone say F-U-T-I-L-I-T-Y? All together now...
In case you're wondering, the 800 pound gorilla on the left won the fight.
Well, that's the extent of the Cubs related content of this post. And now for something completely different...
To wit, we're going to indulge in the posting of some family photos at TPNR.
Here's my oldest son (Christopher Jr) and I at an apple farm this last October:(image)
Here's my youngest son (Calvin Nicholas) in his room among his animals:(image)
Finally, and since we are, after all, infidels at this site - here's my personal favorite of the [in]famous Mohammed cartoons:(image)
That is really quite funny.
Red States Randy in Cubs Glory...
Ok - here are the long awaited photos of Red States Randy (the resident Cardinals fan here at our blog of the truly cursed) sporting that glorious Cubs hat that he rashly vowed he would wear last season if Derrek Lee beat Albert Pujols in even one
of the three triple crown categories:(image)
That's a close-up of Randy - I think he looks rather happy wearing that hat - don't you?
In fact, I'll bet that after seeing these photos he wishes he would make rash vows more often.
Here's one of Randy in his natural habitat conversing with a fellow simpleton (i.e., Cardinals fan):(image)
As you might be able to tell from these pictures, Randy is a rather large fellow. In fact, he was an offensive lineman for a NCAA Division I football program (on a football scholarship no less) when he was in college.
That's one of the reasons I chuckle when I see commentators on our blog leave insulting or sniping comments to Randy's posts.
I'm fairly certain they wouldn't have the fortitude to say to his face the sentiments they occasionally leave in the combox.
Oh well. Randy - thanks for being a good sport! And if you care to make any more hasty vows in the near term, we're all ears my friend!
WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC...Now that the winter olympics are almost over (praise God for that), and the Illini appear to be on their way to a first or second round loss in the NCAA Tournament, I'm really getting fired up about the upcoming baseball season.I have yet to watch one single second of the Olympics, and judging by the ratings they are recieving, I'm not alone in that. I guess it's safe to say I am not a big fan of curling, ice skating, or skiing for that matter. I have absolutely zero interest in any winter olympic sport. I don't like the summer olympics much more, although at least they have basketball, boxing, and some of the track and field events are pretty cool - but still they are almost as bad as the winter olympics. The truth of the matter is I haven't watched much of the olympics in years. I think the year was 1988 (I could be mistaken on that), but I recall watching Roy Jones Jr. totally dominate this Korean boxer, and lose on a decision by biased judges. The Korean was a bloody mess, and Jones barely even broke a sweat and he still was hosed on the decision. Jones did everything but knock the dude out, which is pretty difficult to do with the head gear they wear in amateur boxing, but he still busted his face all up. When Jones got screwed, I knew then and there that the olympics were a fraud and ruled by the political agendas of a few. Especially in those sports where there is no real objective score but the competitors rely on subjective judging - Americans always get screwed. Sometimes it even occurs in those sports where a score is kept, as many will recall from the hose job the Americans received in the 1972 Gold Medal Basketball game against Russia, where a so called olympic official not once but twice put time back on the clock to allow the Russians to score the winning basket. You got the impression that this judge would have just kept putting time on the clock until the Russians won the game.The fact that the Olympic committee stopped playing baseball and softball has done nothing to encourage me to watch, in fact it has done the opposite. The United States dominates these sports, especially the Womens softball team, which hasn't lost a game in world competition in years. The Olympics are a fraud, and a joke, and that's why I choose not to watch. Some are now suggesting that the advent of cable tv and the ability to watch the many other sports is the reason for the low ratings. Years ago the Olympics were a big deal, and they were, in fact, the only game in town. I suppose this has a little to do with the low ratings, but for the most part I think it is just due to the games being a fraud, they're no longer fair competitions. They're not even real competition, the games are like WWF Wrestling, it's a joke.That's why I am pretty excited about the World Baseball Classic. I am actually looking forward to watching. Partially because I am baseball starved right now, but also because I'm looking forward to the Americans kicking some foreigner butt. I was disappointed that Albert Pujols chose to play for his native Dominican team, but I think the US roster is still strong. We got Derrek Lee at first, Chase Utley at second, Jeter at short, A-rod at third, Varitek behind the plate. The rotation is anchored by Roger Clemens, Dontrelle Willis, Jake Peavy, and CC Sabathia. The US bullpen is absolutely sick with Lidge, Wagner, Cordero, and Huston Steet ready to close out games. I'd hate to be t[...]
MY NEW JONESThe Jacque Jones signing has been much maligned and, considering Hendry's apparent lack of interest in a superior option just down the I-5 from me, rightfully so. My feeling was that Burnitz would probably put up similar numbers with more power. But beyond this, as others have mentioned, a team like the Cubs should not have so many questions mark running around the outfield, especially on the derriere that will be firmly implanted in front of the commuter friendly/freeloader hating knot hole.The biggest problem with Jones is his decline from 02-03 to 04-05. Which will more accurately reflect his level of performance for the next three years? The 330 hits in 02 and 03 or the 271 hits of the last two years? Considering that he will be slotted to "protect" Lee and Ramirez (who will both have OBPs of between .350 and .400), this could really help the offense. Or hurt it equally.Jones (31 on April 25)Year avg/obp / slg 2002 300/341/511 (577 ABs) 2003 304/333/464 (517 ABs) 2004 254/315/427 (555 ABs)2005 249/319/438 (523 ABs) His BB/K rates were .29, .20, .34, and .43 while he hit 27, 16, 24 and 23 homers.Interestingly, Jones and Burnitz had pretty similar years in 05. As a matter of fact, even including Burnitz's 04 season in Colorado, Jones has been better the past four years.Burnitz (37 on April 15)Year avg/obp / slg 2002 215 /311/365 (479 ABs)2003 239 /299/487 (464 ABs) 2004 283 /356/559 (540 ABs) 2005 258 /322/435 (605 ABs) His BB/K rates were .43, .31, .47, and .52 while he hit 19, 31, 37, and 24 homers. If these trends continue, the Cubs have at least become younger in right without losing anything offensively. The hopes are, of course, that Jones will move back towards his 02-03 seasons. Burnitz doesn't possess a potential like this any longer. With the possibility of a platoon in right involving Jones and Grissom (please, anyone), right should be more productive. Last year, Burnitz was .267/.345/.430 against right-handed pitching in 423 ABs (15 HR, 50 BB, 70 SO). Jones was .268/.348/.466 against right-handed pitching in 369 ABs (17 HR, 42 BB, 84 SO) while only .201/.247/.370 against left-handed pitching in 154 ABs (6 HR, 9 BB, 36 SO). Again, Jones should produce as much as Burnitz while possibly giving a decent improvement if a platoon is factored in or he moves back towards his 02-03 lines.Another factor is defense. Jones has a reputation for his defense--notably his range. But his arm might be just as valuable. John Walsh, in a recent article on The Hardball Times site, Canons and Popguns -- Rating Outfield Arms, has attempted to rank outfield arms. According to his calculations, the best right fielders at throwing out runners (Kill Rate) are: Francoeur, Hawpe, Gibbons, Jenkins, and Ordonenz. But, the fifth best at holding runners from getting extra bases is none other than Jacque Jones (Hold Rate of 114, minimum of 75 opportunities). He is behind Lane (HldR 124), but only slightly behind Rios (HldR 117), Diaz (HldR 117), Vlad Guerrero (HldR 115). As far as runs saved by right-fielders, Jones again ranks fifth at 2.4 runs, behind Francoeur (5.5) Jenkins (3.6), Rios (2.6) and Lane (2.5). The improvement is seen especially in light of Burnitz's rate of -4.3 runs saved, second worst.So what is Jones to the Cubs over Burintz? Younger. Slight offensive improvement (despite his BB/SO). Big defensive improvement. French name.Another factor that had to be considered was the [...]
Sammy "Say it ain't" Sosa...Well it appears that Chris' boy and longtime Cub icon, Sammy Sosa, has rejected the Nationals one year offer, and according to his agent, "doesn't want to go through another season like he had last year."Why, what happened to the Cub legend? What, just because he can't use the juice anymore and cork his bat he don't wanna play. Let's take a look at some of Sammy's career numbers pre-cork bat incident, and his numbers since then...According to MLB.com Sammy has 8401 Ab's and hit a whopping 588 HR's for his career. Good for a HR every 14.3 AB's. Pretty impressive numbers I must say. However, let's look at his stats since the corked bat incident in 2004, he has hit a total of 30 HR's since in 658 Ab's, or 1 HR every 21.9 Ab's. Now I will admit that it has never been proven that a corked bat will help anyone to hit a ball longer, but they did outlaw it for a reason. You mix the cork bat he used his entire career, with the roids he was popping, makes for a pretty fraudulent career. I get a kick out of Cub fans bashing McGwire and his apparent steroid habit. McGwire was always a tremendous power hitter, hitting a rookie record 49 HR's in 1987. Looking at Sammy's career you can see that the juice and the cork must have come along right about 1992 or 1993, interestingly enough right about the time he was traded to the Cubs (after all, I believe 4 of the 9 MLB players that have been busted for roids were former Cubs, atleast the last time I checked). Why do I say 1992/1993 time frame, well lets look at the numbers. His career high before 1992 was 15 HR in 532 Ab's, or 1 HR 35.4 Ab's. He hit 10 HR's once, and a few partial seasons with the White Sox, and Rangers, where his power numbers weren't pretty. In 1992, which was his first year with the Cubs, if I'm not mistaken, he hit 8 HR in 262 Ab's for a HR in 37.7 Ab ratio. Then all the sudden, out of no where, in 1993 he hits 33 HR in 598 Ab's, 1 in 18.1 Ab. This must be where the roids kicked in. I think the cork came along in 1998 when he had never hit more than 40 then all the sudden bangs out 66 HR's. So Chris can argue all he wants about Big Mac and his steroids, but it is clear that Sammy was popping the juice as well. Not to mention Big Mac never got caught red handed, cheating like Sammy did with his corked bat. McGwire was always a great power hitter, even from his rookie year, Sammy was a skinny outfielder with little to no power before the juice. The numbers don't lie, Sammay Sosa, the Cub icon was and always will be a fraud.