Tuesday, February 28, 2006

You know they're not going to lose 162 consecutive games.

I don't want to be any sort of optimist here but I think the Cubs have a pretty damn good shot this year. The team is in a good position to win the perennially weak NL Central Division. The offense is looking like it could produce more than 3 runs a game. Finally, Dusty has threatened to actually teach his players fundamentals (like how to run in lefthand turns on the basepaths, how to field a ground ball, and how to complete a throw to first base.)

In this new season many questions about the team's future have arisen. How will Juan Pierre and Jacque Jones rebound from their previous lackluster seasons? Will the rookies perform like they did in the second half of 2005? Last, just who the hell will play 2nd base; Todd Walker, Neifi Perez, or Jerry Hairston Jr.? In this latest entry, I venture to at least drunkenly stammer through something like answers.

Juan Pierre is an interesting looking guy. Even when he was having an off year he could hit circles around Korey Patterson. Juan had a .326 obp last year which is not all that great. Then compare that to the .329 obp Korey put up in his best year and you can see that Juan is going to be a lot better Mr. Patterson could ever hope to be. Juan usually hits in range of a .355 obp which makes him the new baseball Jesus compared to Korey. Juan is a run producing machine and will set the table much better than any leadoff man the Cubs have had in the past decade. Last year Juan scored 96 runs! This was on a down year folks. Korey's best year was in 2004 when he scored 91 runs, and this was the only year he would come within 20 runs of that number. Even if Juan is not able to return to his old form he will still make the Korey Patterson years look like Bush League baseball.

I hate how people say that Juan is going to be a step down in the fielding department compared to Korey. This is a myth. Juan can field just as well as Korey could. There are complaints about Juan's arm strength but I think that if you would just look at the facts Juan had 7 assists last year in center field and 6 assists in 2003. If you look at the stats of Korey he had similar numbers over the same span of time yet people never complained about his ability to throw the ball. In fact Juan's 7 assists last year was better than 13 National League center fielders and he was tied with Kenny Lofton. All while Juan played in the absurdly large center field of Dolphins Stadium. I am here to say once and for all get off the man's back for Christ's sake and be glad we have such a great player in center field. He will fill his role better than any of us could hope. He will get on base, set the table for Lee, and surprise us all with his defensive play.

Next is the odd character of Jacque Jones who I will now dub the Lumberjacque because I find it amusing and a bit ironic. If we were to take last year as the Lumberjacque's only year of playing baseball then he would be a step down in all aspects of hitting and fielding compared to Jeromy Burnitz. If we take into account all of his years and compare them to Jeromy Burnitz... Oh shit. DAMNIT HE SUCKS! I'm sorry but I am just plain pissed that the Cubs picked up the Lumberjacque. He will merely be an average player at best but he will actually be no worse than Jeromy was last year and if anything the Lumberjacque has room to grow. If you look at the numbers he was only a tiny smidgen worse than Jeromy was last year but he is 6 years younger so maybe he will be able to bounce back. If not, then Hendry can work some of his mid-year magic and we won't have to live long through the anguish of the Lumberjacque era.

On to the next question... Will the rookies Matt Murton and Ronny Cedeno live up to their lofty expectations or will one of them be the next Jason Dubois. I have faith in Dusty that he will actually play our two young stars. I also have faith that both of them are going to be good players. If you look at the facts both of these young men shot up through the minor league ranks and when they got to the big show neither of them blew up like another former Cub of the same description *cough* Korey *cough*.

First, I will look at Ronny Cedeno. This young man looked great last year in his limited action. He was able to field at the difficult short stop position surprisingly well for a rookie and even made what I felt to be some spectacular plays. At the plate he was able to show a good eye posting a .300 ba and a .356 obp in 80 at bats. The 11 strike outs is a bit alarming to me but he still never ceases to impress. Ronny won the Rookie of the Year in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Matt Murton is like Todd Walker but better. Matt put up stupefying numbers in last season. In 140 ab he hit an insane .321 ba and .386 obp while posting 22 strike outs and 16 walks. His strike out to walk ratio is very good and that is something that the Cubs need badly. A man who strikes out little and walks frequently is very valuable to any club but especially to the Cubs. His power numbers are even better. Matt hit 7 homers last season and had a .521 slg percentage. His fielding is pretty shabby but it think it was a bit of the jitters. Someone once said it is easy to catch a ball in a minor league park but it gets a little more difficult when another deck is added. I would like to dub him Opie because that is what my father calls him.

On to the last question... Who the hell is on 2nd? I will tell you who I think should be on 2nd, Todd Walker period. He is the best 2nd baseman on the team and the fact that Neifi Perez is even in the race is a testament to the insanity of Dusty Baker and not the awesome skills of Neifi. Todd Walker is the best in all categories and I will now lay it out for you. Todd is the best at hitting. He is far superior to Neifi Perez at hitting and he is superior to Jerry Hairston Jr. People the man had a .305 ba and a .355 obp last year. That beats the hell out of both Neifi and Jerry by at least .020 and at most .050. In addition, Todd is the better fielder!? He has a better fielding percentage than both Neifi and Jerry and he has fewer errors over a span of 164 games if you were to calculate out the stats. This is just like people jumping on Juan Pierre's back because he has a bad reputation that he picked up from god knows where. Get the hell off the man's back and let him play superior baseball! Todd Walker is the best player and if Dusty doesn't make him the 2nd baseman and makes Neifi the man then I may go crazy. I could live with Jerry Hairston Jr. but I know that Todd Walker is the best player for the job and the only conceivable reason he doesn't get the job is because the Cubs really want to deal his ass.

Who knows I may come back to answer the questions of the pitching staff but I doubt it will happen at least not this week. I have a big ass mid-term I should be studying for right now.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Most Blunderful Time of the Year

Every year we as Cubs fans, no, baseball fans are subjected to so much vomit that you have to wonder how much the GMs drank at winter meeting.

Cub Nation is vomiting so much speculation right now that it would make a frat boy proud. Miguel Tejada is the fancy of every Cub fan right now. Now having said that, every Cub fan wants to give up anything to have him. Tejada is a reliable player and a MVP caliber player, but I don't think his crap can be used like currency. He is worth a great deal but he isn't worth what many propose he is.

I have read that topflight talent like Prior and Zambrano are fair game when it comes to acquiring Tejada. If this is not crazy then I don't know what crazy is. Zambrano is the Cubs ace and Mark Prior can be even better than Big Z and that is scary. Tejada is a great player but Ronny Cedeno is no slouch and can easily fill the gaping hole of SS or 2B while the Cubs go out and acquire more reasonably priced talent to fill in the position not filled by Cedeno.

I think the Cubs should go after the player they were going after before all this hoopla erupted, Julio Lugo. Guess what Miguel Tejada had 89 runs last year but guess who else did... Julio Lugo. Moreover, Lugo did it in 38 less at bats and with a higher on base percentage. Lugo also had fewer strike outs than the new baseball Jesus and had more walks than him as well. You might now be asking yourself, "but batting is only a small part of the game compared to defense so how do they match up there?" Well intrepid readers I have the answer they are both equal. That's right equal. In fact Lugo is slightly better when it comes to putouts/chances (Tejada 753/252, Lugo 759/311) and range factor/zone rating (Tejada 4.72/.818, Lugo 4.94/.841).

If I were the Cubs I would pay no mind to the crazy Cub fans of America (hey, we are crazy. Losing for 97 years will do that) and listen to reason. There is no need to overpay for Tejada when you can have Lugo for so much less and get just as much out of him.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Well Fuck Me Running...

The Bears are in 1st place. (Insert gloating, because my predictions of dominant defense came true!) This iteration of the Bears could have a real chance at winning a Super Bowl if only they had a... I don't know... the Bears never have a good one... they throw oblong orbs downfield with accuracy and velocity. Oh, I got it a QUARTERBACK! The one position that consistently bites the Bears in the ass is back to potentially spoil the party.

Kyle Orton has done far more than is expected of him during his tenure as the QB. Then again, Orton has also done far less than is expected of him. What I mean by this is Orton is good at managing the game and not throwing the ball to the other team, but Orton also takes almost no pass attempts and doesn't really produce any yards except for once in a blue moon. Orton shows flashes of brilliance every now and again reminiscent of the Heisman candidate at Purdue. On the other hand, Orton shows flashes of the player that was benched at the end of the season at Purdue. Orton has shown that he has a cannon for an arm that is even better than "Fragile" Rex. The problem is his throws are off the mark or his incompetent receivers drop them.

I postulate this to you. If Orton struggles against the Gay Steel Workers of America (which he will, the Steelers still have a decent defense) then put Grossman in for a few series and see what flies. I think that you will be pleasantly surprised to see a QB that can move the offense with his arm rather than wearing out the running crew.

In other well fuck me running news. Fuck me running the Cubs actually made a move this offseason to fill in an offensive gap and defensive gap, get this, in the same move! Jim Hendry took the time to put the fork down and actually talk to another team about a trade in the OFFSEASON? Is that a typo? No, Hendry actually didn't wait till halfway through a baseball season to make a trade. He did it in the offseason. The Cubs picked up center fielder Juan Pierre. Pierre is decent at what he does. His arm is suspect but he takes good routes to balls hit his way and he can get to them in a hurry. At the plate he is disciplined and doesn't swing at everything like certain players that played the position in the past for the Cubs (Patterson and Macias.) Pierre lacks any semblance of power but is an on base machine none-the-less. He has the speed to steal a lot of bases which in effect turns his many singles into potential doubles. This has another benefit that many are failing to see. If the Cubs actually do make it to the post season this year, Pierre's ability to steal bases well will come in very handy. Steals in the post season mean a lot because they screw with the pitcher’s head and put the runner into the all important scoring position. The most important thing about this whole deal is Korey Patterson won't be playing center at Wrigley any more.

Now that the hole in center is filled the Cubs should get right back out on the dancefloor to take a drunken and belligerent Milton Bradley back home. We need more crazy on the Cubs like I need AIDS but while Bradley is crazy he is also crazy good. Bradley is a fielding machine and his right field taylored arm will be very welcome in the limp wristed outfield of the soft throwing Matt Murton and Juan Pierre. Bradley, like Pierre, doesn't have typical outfielder power, but also like Pierre he is an onbase machine. Bradley had some problems staying on the field last year but I think that he will be healthy and ready for the 2006 season.

On another note. Ding Dong the Macias is dead. I will no longer have to scream at the T.V. every time Dusty puts Macias in the game because he is long gone. Now I can only scream at the T.V. if Dusty makes any other asinine move.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

I'm back and confused as ever!?

I'm back stalwart reader of my blog... I really mean reader. I am back in school and I decided to pick up the pen... Keyboard. The topics of this blog will now change from the downright infuriating Cubs to the Bears and the Utes(I go the University of Utah and have front row seats expect kick butt pictures football fans.)

I will still post about the Cubs every once and a while but the main emphasis will be on football. I no longer have any ability to watch Cubs games because I am removed from home and MLB extra innings from Directv. Therefore I will mostly go off hearsay and whatnot from the Trib and the Sun-Times(worst paper ever.)

Now then down to the business of getting down. The Utes have a big game this weekend against the Utah State Aggies(sucking since 1997.) Sophmore quarterback Brian Johnson has a real chance to cement himself as a real Division 1 quarterback against the weakling Aggie defense. Johnson lacks any sort of decision making facilities but the good thing is the Aggie defense is just as clueless. I anticipate another game of Johnson handing the ball off to Quinton Ganther and ______ (insert slot wideout.) For Johnson to impress me and the rest of the MUSS(Mighty Utah Student Section!) he has to get his head in the game and realize he is one of the fastest players on the field and he is allowed to venture past the line of scrimmage every once and awhile.

It was extremely frustrating watching Johnson have a clear running lane but instead of taking off downfield he would pass to a receiver for a short gain. Johnson is a faster and more agile quarterback than Alex Smith could ever hope to be but he remains behind the line because he has no clue whether to run or pass. I have a quick fix for this problem... create specific plays for the kid to run! Johnson has Vickesque speed and ability with his legs and he is just a waste if he cements himself in the backfield like Chad Hutchinson.

On the other side of the ball there is no contest. The Aggies suck on offense and the Utes are good on defense(in the first half.) As long as the Ute offense can take a stick to the Aggies in the first half we will be fine.

Anticipated score Utes 28 Aggies 17.

Now on to the Bears. I was thoroughly impressed with the performance of Kyle "Jesus" Orton in preseason and Sean Salisbury was bold enough to predict Orton to be the Offensive Rookie of the Year. I wouldn't quite go that far but I think Orton will be good enough to not screw up as much as past Bears qbs(Hutch,KOrdell,Mighty Quinn.) I anticipate the amazingly underrated defense and Orton will lead the Bears to a wildcard berth in the playoffs. Now some of you might be wiping your eyes in disbelief at this point but let me explain.

The defense will undoubtedly keep the Bears in every game and even contribute to the scoring. I think that this is the best defense the Bears have had in 10 years including 2001. The d-line is strong up the middle with Harris and Scott up the middle with Tank Johnson coming in for relief. In addition Wale and Brown are coming off the ends fast and furious, which will give every o-line in the league a absolute headache. I anticipate more than 10 sacks for Brown while offenses concentrate on Wale. The Linebackers are healthy and raring to make runners struggle to turn the corner. Urlacher will be an absolute nightmare again using his great range to shut down the field on running plays as well as passing plays. Lance Briggs is deadly on a blitz and I anticipate many rushed throws coming on account of this young man. Hunter Hillenmeyer was impressive last year when he had to fill in for Urlacher and I anticipate him having a breakout year in place of the below average Joe Odom. Lastly the Secondary is amazing this year with the shutdown corner Tillman riding #1 receivers up and down the field. Nathan Vasher is a dark horse for Bears defensive MVP. The kid out of Texas has great hands and I anticipate no fewer than 7 ints. Mike Brown is back and is moved to strong safety. Brown will be well utilized from this new position and I see a boat load of tackles for him in the future while he comes into the box to screw with offensive coordinators.

On the other side of the ball Orton will sling it around to a full stable of able bodied wideouts. Moose will have a dropoff in performance this year but it won't be like he fell off a cliff more like a gentle sloping curb. The wildcard is Mark "preseason is fantastic" Bradley. He is a great possession receiver and having him in the slot position will add a great dimension to a formerly anemic Bears offense. In the time that Orton isn't hucking the ball with great accuracy and strength he will be handing it off to the quick and elusive TJ and the bruising Cedric "don't call me Ricky" Benson. I see either one of these guys getting 900+ yards. The running game will take pressure off Orton and allow him to flourish like Big Ben last year. Seriously if you look at last year's Steelers they had a good running game fueled by 2 good running backs which allowed Big Ben to be comfortable when he had to throw and didn't put the bulk of the burden on his shoulders. I am leaving out the most important factor though. The o-line is better than ever. I mean seriously we only got better this year by adding Fred Miller and getting rid of the complicated blocking schemes of last year. This will lead to a more productive backfield and a more productive passing attack.

Football is in full swing again and I couldn't be happier... becuase neither of my teams have screwed up yet(I'm looking in your direction Cubbies... that's right you!)

Monday, May 30, 2005

Ding dong the witch is dead

Sorry about the delay folks but I have a job now... and it has me working 10 hour days. Anywho I have had little time for the Cubs recently but I have tried to keep up.

As I see it we are just where we should be right now at .500. The Cubs have been beating the ball like a redheaded step child scoring over 5 runs in 3 consecutive games! In addition the Cubs beat teams they should've hammering the sorry looking Astros and Rockies. Most importantly LaTroy is gone and I can stop bitching about him! (I wish him luck in San Fran and I'm sure he will do much better there.)

On a sad note Mark Prior a.k.a. Jesus is on the DL with a fractured elbow.

I thought that the Red Sox had proved that curses don't exist but apparently the Cubs still have their monkey strapped to their back.

The Cubs have a tough stretch in front of them with the Dodgers and the Padres coming up. Hopefully the Cubs can keep up this tear that they are going on. The key is to not let deficits in starting pitching get to us. The Cubs need to jump on opponents early if they want to make it through this. In addition the bullpen needs to keep up the good work.

I am not extremely enthusiastic about the players the Cubs picked up in the Hawkins deal. While both of them have potential to be good pitchers, judging by the fact that they are both former first rounders, I can't see them doing well immediately. They both have ERAs in the mid 6 range.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A new beginning

The past two games have been an awakening for the Cubs. I think that by sweeping the battling Bucs in spectacular fashion the Cubs should have a new spring in their step.

The Cubs beat the Bucs not once but twice in one run games. It was a miracle to say the least... actually now that I think about it, it must have been. The Derrek Lee homer had to be divine intervention, right?

What about THW and Macias, two of our worst hitters, coming in and hitting a crucial tying run single and a winning sac fly?

Even better, what about Dumpster trying his best to blow the game but getting the save because of good defense? If there is a god, he had his hands all up in the 9th inning of the last two games.

These two wins should really give the Cubs a boost going into the series with the Sox. The events of the past two days are just the beginning of the turnaround. Slowly but surely the pieces of this season are coming together. The bullpen, the starting pitching, and the offense were the first three pieces. Defense is the last piece, and we all know that this piece of the puzzle has been lost under to couch and covered by a pile of fallen cheetos. The Cubs are riding high on a wave of momentum right now and the schedule coming up should allow them to keep on sailing on.

The Cubs have three tough ones against the hated Sox but then play the god awful Rockies and Astros in the Friendly Confines. Both the Astros and the Rockies are absolutely terrible road teams sporting two of the worst road records in the big leagues.

The Cubs have gotten through what I hope to be the worst of their season and now the only direction is up. There is no way a team like the Cubs, with all the talent they have collected on the field, can be beaten in our division by a team like the BREWERS. Our starting pitchers wipe their asses with players like Brady Clark and Lyle Overbay.

Derrek Lee is having an MVP season... Derrek Lee should be the MVP. If Derrek keeps his pace up he might just be the first person not named Barry Bonds to hoist the award in 4 years. Derrek is batting like a maniac and his fielding is golden glove material. He leads the team in all major batting and baserunning statistics, which I have to admit is kind of sad.

Joe Table was the MVP of the series blowing two one run games in Hawkins like form. I guess you can scratch him off the list of closers we want to trade for at the deadline.

In other news I can't call LaTroy 1R if he continues to pitch so well, and I couldn't be more happy. I really don't like making fun of LaTroy and hope that he does well and returns to dominant 2003 form. The guy can really pitch and if he can keep his juevos I hope that the Cubs keep him at the trade deadline.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Stinging defeats

Last Night the Iowa Cubs lost to the Salt Lake Stingers 6-2, the Cubs lost to the Nats 3-4, and today the Cubs lost to the Nats 4-5. A sad 24 hours in Cubs baseball has passed and hopefully it will not continue as it has.

The AAA game last night was a terrible affair on the mound and at the plate. The newly acquired Daren Oliver sporting a 34 ERA at the beginning of the game. He gave up 6 runs off of nine hits including a three run homer and a run scoring double.

Todd Walker wasn't impressive in his first rehab start with the Iowa Cubs. Walker went 0-3 and really couldn't manage to get solid contact with the ball.

Roberto Novoa pitched in the 6th inning. He had a good outing as he struck out 1 batter and didn't allow any runs or hits.

Big Joe was doing rehab, and he performed in a solid 8th inning, not allowing any runs or hits but allowing a 4-0 walk. Big Joe has pitched 6 games for the Iowa Cubs and has a 3.00 ERA.

I missed the big league game last night but was happy to see that LaTroy pitched 1 1/3 innings only allowing 1 hit and no runs. He came in, in the 7th inning and stayed for the 1st out of the 8th. He is performing well in the set up role, the role he was SIGNED for.

T Dub had a good game last night too, pitching 2 innings and only allowing 1 hit. The night before he picked up the save as he bailed out Remmy. T Dub is progressing nicely and I hope Dusty continues to use him on a regular basis.

On to the business of today's game.

Greg Maddux was the pitcher of record today and he was having a decent game until the scary mound monster ate his control. I wasn't surprised that he gave up that gigantic 2 run homer by Johnson in the 5th, because the mound incident threw off his rhythm.

Neifi was the goat of the game as he committed 1 1/2 errors and had a Macias like day with the bat.

I say he had 1 1/2 errors because I would not have scored that first error as an error. The second error is something that has plagued the Cubs all to often this year and is the reason why the Cubs are near the bottom of the league in fielding. On a simple ball hit basically right at him Neifi booted the ball and allowed the eventual winning run to score. More times than I can imagine easy balls hit at Cub players result in errors that lead to runs scored by the other team. The bleeding has to stop right now.

I really hope Dusty gets canned soon and Bob "I'm just announcing till they fire Dusty" Brenly will take over. Dusty really has lost the energy for managing over the past 2 seasons and you can see it every time you look at him in the dugout and every time you watch the Cubs blow a game thanks to simple defensive fundamentals.

Don't get me wrong I think that Dusty's decision making ability has gone up 10x in the past couple of weeks and he is starting to make managerial moves that make sense. The problem at hand right now is his inability to teach the Cubs fundamental skills of baseball. Last year the Cubs couldn't run the bases and this year they couldn't field their way out of a paper bag.

On a lighter note the Cubs pen is pitching lights out and it is mostly thanks to the young arms of the Rolling Dubs, Good Ohman, and Cliff "I don't have a nickname" Bartosh.

Also it seems as though Macias has made a deal with the devil because he hit a very un-Macias like 2 hits today and 1 RBI. It is like as Neifi loses energy Macias is there to suck it up... somebody should start to monitor Macias and make sure his is not a Vampire.
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