Thursday, May 10, 2007

Friends Of Lollygaggers, I Mean Kerry!

Hey Dudes and Dudesses. I want to thank all of you that visit and post here because of the sparkling wit and insight provided by your humble host Clute. Ok,Ok, I know you really come here because of Lollyagger Girl Kerry, but I would be remiss if I didn't say thanks to all of you for your support.

I'm sure most of you have noticed that I'm not able to post as regularly as I would like or you deserve, but time constraints with starting a new business and my family have made it difficult to find the time.

I'm sure you can all understand and hope you still check back from time to time with us as I'll do my best to post when there are some major events shaking up Cub Nation.

I'd like to invite all of you to visit the outstanding site 1060 West, as I'll be contributing there. This will allow me the opportunity to still spout off on the state of affairs concerning our beloved men in blue without the obligation of posting regularly.

1060 West is really one of the most well written Cub sites and quite frankly, I can't figure why in the hell they'd welcome this bricklayer of a writer into their fold. I feel privileged to be associated with 1060 West and can only believe it will provide a larger audience to view my rants and ravings.

I just hope the gang over at 1060 West motivation to bring me on board wasn't based on getting Kerry's phone number? Hah!

Anyway, thanks again everyone and "Go Cubs!"

Clute aka Tony Almeida RIP

Friday, May 4, 2007

It's Starting To Get Old...

Watching our Ace acting like a rookie. I have been as big an advocate of Zambrano as anyone, but his temper tantrums are wearing thin on me. What about you.

It's not like he is a rookie anymore. Though he's only 26, this is his 5th full season and his emotions are getting the best of him. Much to his credit, he righted the ship today, but is this the way we expect an Ace to act on the mound?

I know his stuff is filthy, but would you feel comfortable with him on the mound in the seventh game of a playoff series? If this continues, Piniells should suspend his ass and send a message. GROW UP you clown.

I've heard now for two years how he's going to win the Cy Young award. I'm not saying he doesn't have the stuff to do the job, but shut the fuck up already. If you're going to blow a gasket every time an umpire squeezes you a little you can forget the Cy Young and eventually the respect of your teammates as well.

Don't get me wrong, I want Zambrano to do well and I don't want to trade him but, Piniella has to knock some sense into this hothead or he'll never be as good as he thinks he is or be the type of guy we want to tie up for the next 5 years.

I hope Zambrano will finally grow up soon, otherwise it's Addios MF, at the end of the season and it'll be another major miscalculation by our crack front office.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Two Hole!

Now that The Riot, has been inserted into the lineup as a much of a regular as any other player besides the Big Three of Lee, A-Ram and The Fonz, it's time to look at who really belongs in that two hole. First clue, it's not The Riot.

Our fearless LSU alum deserves the leadoff spot. If Piniella can get over his man crush of Soriano, which I think he just might, the lineup would fall into place quicker than Rosie O'Donnell can say Gulf of Tonkin, Google it!

The Cubs are loaded with run producing hitters but are a little thin on high OBP guys.

I don't know of any successful lineup that is configured without it's most disciplined hitters at the top of the order. So who deserves to be in that two hole following The Riot?

Well first let's look at a couple of factors that are unique to the two spot in the order. First, besides a high OBP is the ability to advance the runner on base in front of you. Not usually a quality of a free swinging power hitter. Next, the ability to hit down in the count so as to allow the leadoff man an opportunity to steal. Again not usually a quality of a free swinging power hitter. Let's face it, when you have the team's best hitter on deck, a free swinger in the two hole just doesn't make any sense.

We now have to examine what is lost in the way of run production by placing an extra base hitting machine in the two hole. First, you weaken the bottom of the order's ability to drive in runs with fewer men on base in front of him. For example, even with Soriano's recent surge in hitting his OBP is still no higher than DeRosa's, Murton's or even Jones. It would appear that more RBI potential is lost with Soriano hitting second than having either of the aforementioned three, not to mention Soriano's lack of patience that doesn't allow him to advance the leadoff man or even allow him a chance to steal a base.

Murton and DeRosa have shown as RH sticks, the ability to hit behind the runner, there power isn't prodigious, therefore you're not sacrificing an RBI machine in the two hole who could produce more runs scored lower in the lineup, and you'd probably help them both with their batting average hitting immediately in front of Lee.

The 3, 4 & 5 hitters of Lee, A-Ram and The Fonz, would be as potent as any in baseball providing plenty of run scoring opportunities with high OBP hitters on base in front of them. You also still have a solid bottom of the order with Barrett and the Jones/Floyd/Murton/DeRosa revolving door depending on who's starting, therefore taking most of the pressure off Pie to contribute offensively.

The starting rotation has been more than solid enough for the Cubs to be at least be a 500 team, but the lack of runs scored is the sticking point even taking into account the bullpen has given up a few games. The Cubs just need more base cloggers on base before the middle of the lineup and the runs will come.

Piniella has to get Soriano out of the top of the order.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Questions Answered!

After watching tonight's 3-2 loss to the Pirates, I hope you can all see why The Riot should be hitting leadoff. Only one stat I really need to give you, 3BB's. Now don't give me this shit he's hitting at the top of the order in the 2 hole, because what he gives you is negated by the whiff machine hitting in front of him, unless Soriano makes the last out of the prior inning.

The Cubs have to get the free swinging Soriano out of the top of the order and get anybody that understands that when you bat one or two in the order, your main job is to get on base, anyway you can, period! Top of the order guys usually have good speed but they also have good plate discipline, which results in a high OBP.

Let me use the example of another power hitting left fielder to illustrate my point. If the Cubs had Adam Dunn in left field instead of Soriano, it would probably be a wash in the power department and strikeouts. Soriano has tons of speed but Dunn is a plow horse. However, Soriano has an OBP of 301 and Dunn has a OBP of 363.

Now you certainly wouldn't put Dunn in the leadoff spot just because he has an excellent OBP and the Cubs shouldn't put Soriano in the leadoff spot just because he has speed.

Question Time!

Piniella's starting to really shake things up, which is a good thing. Gone are the days of complacency under Baker and it looks as though Piniella has served notice to most everybody. Perform or ride the pine.

Of course I said most everybody, and I'm specifically referring to The Fonz, as being the exception.

So I have a few questions for you.

Does anyone think Soriano is an effective leadoff man?

A leadoff man's primary responsibility is to get on base, correct? Steal bases second, correct? Hitting home runs, is kind of down the list on requirements, correct?

Do you think that the primary reason Soriano was obtained this offseason was because of his speed or power?

If it was his speed, he's not using it much as his 301 OBP is lower than any other regular other than Izturis.

Soriano's career numbers shows he will steal bases and hit for power to be sure, but they also show his OBP is around 320.

So again I ask you, did the Cubs acquire Soriano primarily for his speed or power?

Piniella has to evaluate Soriano just like everybody else. The Riot has shown he can do the job at leadoff and we have Murton, DeRosa and even Barrett for goodness sake that have solid OBP and can do a credible job in the two hole. Who knows, a move of Soriano to a run producing spot in the order might even take a little pressure off him and get his bat going.

The Cubs would then have a devasting 3,4 5 punch with Soriano following Lee and Ramirez.

Monday, April 23, 2007

It's About Time For...

Piniella to start making some moves that are in the long term interest of the Cubs. The club is 7-11 and that's not a winner anywhere but at the craps tables.

I've been saying this forever, but Piniella has to start looking at the long term ramifications of his lineup, even if Hendry didn't. It's early in the season, but it is becoming more apparent day in and day out, that the vaunted offensive Juggernaut is not all it's cracked up to be. The best offensive performers so far are Lee and Ramirez, and they were here last year. The problem, as it's always been, is having anybody on base in front of them.

Piniella has to forget this fantasy that Soriano is a lead off man and put him down in the order where he can do some real damage. Soriano's speed is just an extra asset to his game, not the key part of it.

The Riot has more than enough speed to lead off, not to mention a decent OBP and keen eye at the plate.

What the Cubs need in their lineup is more speed and better defense. Why? Because speed and defense never go in a slump.

With Soriano in the 5 hole in the lineup, imagine the fear the Cubs would strike in opposing pitchers hearts. The Riot and Murton at the top of the order puts the two highest OBP hitters in the lineup where they belong, in front of the Mashers.

The three kids, Murton, Pie and The Riot, have to be given an opportunity to play most everyday, regardless who's kicking and screaming for playing time. It's not like the team is going gangbusters with the veterans anyway.

Let the kids play their way out of a starting job. They just have to much potential to sit around and platoon. You already know what kind of player Jones, Floyd and DeRosa are. They all have some power it's true, but have horrible OBP's and are suspect at best defensively. An MO like that screams bench player, bench player, bench player.

Murton can play defensively on a par with Jones, Floyd and DeRosa. The Riot plays as good as defense as DeRosa and more importantly, because of his speed and OBP is more suited as a lead off man and allows for Soriano to move down in the order. Pie's defense alone, no matter what he hits, anchors a stinko of an outfield without him. I for the life of me can't figure out why it's ok to not worry about Izturis hitting but Cubs management gets their underwear all bunched up about Pie's. Who has a future with this team, Izturis or Pie. Case closed.

Piniella has to find out what these kids can do on an everyday basis as it's become quite apparent, the status quo isn't getting the job done.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hendry Tied Piniella's Hands!

It seems more clear to me that Hendry will lose his job because of this year. Not that any but the best of GM's would have much of a chance with a new owner coming in, but Hendry this off season, in his kid in the candy store approach to spend the twenty dollar bill he found, has brought in players with no thought to how they help the team.

Piniella is now faced with this absurd surplus of outfielder's of which none can actually field their position. If we look at this team objectively, you understand how Piniella's hands are tied.

Backup player's are the type player who brings something to the table the starter doesn't. Like Blanco for instance. When we look at the Cubs outfield personnel, that's not the case.

I'm sure Piniella would have felt comfortable going to war after spring training with Pie in CF, but how many damn outfielder's was he going to carry?

Hendry dropped the ball by not trading Jones and eating some salary if need be. Pie is the LH bat that replaces Jones and his superior defense, as evidenced in yesterday's game where at least Ohman wasn't brought in until Piniella had no one left, demonstrated that superior defense can help the offense just like a HR or RBI.

As Cubs fans we just don't see great defensive play very often. When was the last time you saw a Cubs outfielder defensively intimidate the opposition's base runners?

Pie's defensive play yesterday demonstrates how numb we've become and how clueless Hendry is realizing how great defensive play can help the team. When Soriano comes back are you going to tell me he belongs in CF after seeing Pie play there? Why should Pie be sent back down? Is it money? My answer is yes and I'll tell you why. Outside of Soriano, Jones is the biggest contract in the outfield. If it wasn't a matter of money, why wasn't Jones traded when Floyd was acquired? You guessed it, the Cubs would rather eat their children than eat part of a contract. Unless of course they are trading away a HOF pitcher. Don't you think the Cubs would've received a player like Izturis for Jones? Of course they could have.

Hendry's dumb moves go even further with the signing of DeRosa. Now don't get me wrong, I like the way DeRosa has performed, but why would you pay a career utility man starters money when you had The Riot on the team? The organizational scouting department is clueless.

There was a study done by one of these Baseball America type organizations that showed a player's stats on what percentage of the time he scored per plate appearance. This list included Pujols, Seizmore, Utley, Beltran and players of that stature as scoring with the greatest frequency per plate appearance. Do you know who was #1 on that list last year? Ryan Theriot aka The Riot.

The Riot has speed and more importantly knows how to steal bases, doesn't strike out much, good OBP, seems to play at least average defense, and cost what, $600,000?

Want more great Hendry moves? Ok let me ask you this. How does Guzman get sent down to bring up Pie and not Ohman? I'm waiting? Cat got your tongue? Let me share with you this little nugget. Do you know San Diego has zero LHRP's and they are leading the league in ERA? What good is a LHRP if he sucks? Guzman was sent down because he has options but Ohman should be released. It's to bad because we could've made a deal with the Indians this off season as their bullpen was and is still a mess. Come on, the Indians have 42 year old Roberto Hernandez as a setup man and 38 year old Borowski closing. But once again, Hendry's failure to make a trade and move Ohman in the off season means that after his showing during the regular season, the only option is to release him. Will Hendry do that? Ohman makes only a couple of million a year but that's still no guarantee they'll eat even that paltry sum. Enough said as I could go on and on.

So now what? Well if I had Hendry's ear, the first thing I'd tell him is that his only chance of keeping his job is to Win or at least be in the World Series. Then for him to make these moves.

Pie's defense has to be in the starting lineup even if he hits 240.

Jones needs to be traded immediately, even if it means eating some of the contract which they may not have to do anyway.

Option Ohman to the minors, he probably won't clear waivers but who gives a shit. His contract is peanuts.

If Miller struggles after a couple of more starts, option him as well and slide Guzman into the fifth spot and bring up Rocky Cherry.

This team is definitely a work in progress but Pinella seems more than willing to play his best people. If Hendry would clear some of the dead weight that ties Piniella's hands, the team will be in much better shape.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Quade Is Qlueless!

Is Mike Quade the next Wendell Kim? You bet your ass he is!

You started to wonder in spring training when Quade held up runners but I tended to give him the benefit of the doubt as he might not be that familiar with his players.

Unfortunately it was a precursor of thing to come.

After the gaff in the Cubs 1-0 loss to Cincinnati, when he didn't send Soriano from 2B on a single to CF late in the game, I started to realize my previous doubts were confirmed. Soriano is our $138 million dollar speedster that is batting leadoff and single handedly creating at least a 5 degree wind chill drop in the temperature every time he whiffs. Now we finally have Soriano on base and he's held up at 3B? I don't want to here all this bullshit that you never make the first or third out taking the extra base. The Cubs are struggling mightily at the plate against Lohse that day and Soriano is after all, our $138 million dollar stud.

Now again today Quade shows how inept he is when in extra innings he calls time out in a critical stage of the game when The Riot was at the plate with a 3-1 count. When the camera panned around, after The Riot was called back into the batters box, it showed Quade raising his palms upward and shrugging his shoulders as if to say, sorry Ryan, I was trying to get the umpires attention as I just remembered the punch line to the joke I was telling him between innings.

Quade, you're the joke. You and that meathead Ohman. How the both of you are on this team and not riding a bus in Iowa is beyond me.

Well I'm pretty sure the Ohman situation will handled quickly, as the most likely reason he was retained when Pie was called up and Guzman was sent down, was because of Guzman's long relief appearance last night.

Monday, April 16, 2007

5 Games & Counting!

It Looks as though Piniella is going to shake things up with the Cubs lineup. The lack of production can be directly linked to the lack of base cloggers in front of the middle of the lineup.

It's true they've faced some credible pitching, but when you give up a 5 run lead in the 5th inning and can't scratch across one run to take the game into extra innings, there is something wrong.

Hopefully The Riot is showing what a gamer he is and Piniella will move the kid into the lineup regularly. The Riot belongs in the leadoff spot followed by Murton. When Murton sits Piniella should insert Barrett into the 2 hole. Those three hitters, Murton, Barrett and The Riot, have the best OBP on the team without sacrificing much power in RBI situations.

Don't get me wrong, I like on how DeRosa is playing but not at the expense of sitting The Riot. The point is DeRosa doesn't have enough speed to move Soriano out of the leadoff spot, The Riot does. DeRosa can get plenty of AB's in RF platooning with Jones. If Murton and Floyd can platoon, so can DeRosa and Jones. DeRosa also can pick up AB's at 3B and 2B. It might be worth it to experiment with Soriano in the 2 hole where he would have the protection of Lee following him. Otherwise, whiff machines like Soriano and Jones belong down in the order where their lack of OBP won't hurt the middle of the lineup's production.

Uncle Lou says he breaks the season down into 10-16 game intervals, then he evaluates his players based on that 16 game stretch. Well the Cubs are 4-7 and the clock is ticking. 5 games to go for Piniella's shakeup if he doesn't get into a fist fight first.

You the man Lou, you the man!
Lou Piniella's 1st Cubs tirade on

Saturday, April 14, 2007

You Saw The Damn Game!

What the Hell do you think isn't working?

I bring in a relief pitcher that's throwing 40' Curve balls!

I can start to see why this team has been Losing games they way they have!

Well I don't know about the rest of you Dear Cub Fans, but Piniella is showing his real pedigree here. He doesn't like losing, he doesn't accept excuses, and if things don't change, his shoe is going to find it's way up some players ass!

You see Piniella believes if you can't give him 100%, then you don't play, period! It doesn't matter if you're hurt or you're a Lollygagger. Piniella only wants players on the field that can give 100%.

Now Zambrano's act of getting in the umpire's face and his lack of maturity in picking up his teammates when there is a defensive miscue on the field behind him, is starting to wear thin on me. I don't know about you but Zambrano, although still young, is by no means a rookie. He is a great talent and been in the league long enough to understand he has to make adjustments. IMO, Zambrano's got zero chance of winning a Cy Young and being a true stopper in a rotation if he doesn't stop blaming everyone but himself for letting a game get out of hand.

Piniella hasn't seen these explosions by Zambrano as often as we have but I have no doubt, he's going to rip Carlos a new one, if Piniella hasn't already, if Zambrano doesn't grow up.

We've been watching this same thing over the years time and time again with Zambrano and everyone explains it away, myself included, with phrases like he just gets to amped up or he's just a hot blooded Latin but look how good his stuff is. Well let's face it Cub fans, for a pitcher it's not all about the stuff, it's about how you manage the game.

If you care to remember, about the same time Zambrano came up to the Cubs, there was another pitcher that was trying to break into the rotation that was initially thought more highly of than Zambrano and had just as filthy as stuff. His name was Juan Cruz.

Now the comparison I'm trying to make is not that Cruz is as good as Zambrano, but the reasons really don't matter. Cruz had such movement on his pitches that he just couldn't stay consistently in the strike zone. Zambrano on the other hand, let's his lack of maturity get in his way when things don't go his way.

Zambrano has to take a long hard look in the mirror and start realizing that he is his own worst enemy. Otherwise...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Cubs Most Offensive Stat? Defense!

Well folks, our beloved men in blue have me scratching my head. The Cubs have played three series and already have a three game losing streak. The weather seems to be the only thing colder than the Cubs offense as snow postponed the series finale against Houston. Your three and four hitters are doing their job, but once again the lack of players on base in front of them has put the offense in the deep freeze.

It also hasn't taken long for the team's defense to show it's shortcomings. The Cubs have opted to roll the dice on two of the more important defensive positions catcher and CF, in hopes those players offensive production will make up for their defensive lapses. Throw in a 3 error game by the other critical defensive position SS, and WTF! If this team doesn't hit, they'll have as much a chance of holding any lead as you would of eating soup with a fork.

Fortunately for the Cubs, the skipper won't stand long for this. He's has already shown the willingness to rotate players around and it hopefully won't take long for him to bench the whole starting lineup if things don't improve. Over/Under on base throwing or fisticuffs in the dugout, is dropping faster than the temperature.

The rotation is doing enough for the Cubs to win but as I've said over and over again, baseball is a zero sum game. Score more runs than the opposition, you win. I'm sure the offense will perform better as the season progresses, but as this early season has shown us, hitters go in slumps. If the Cubs want the best chance to be in every game, they need to place a higher importance on the defense. Blanco can hep prevent runs, he needs to start at least 25% of the games. Felix Pie needs to be called up to anchor that outfield defense, regardless of how much screaming you get from Murton, Jones and Floyd for playing time.

Unlike the offense, the defense never goes into a slump and when the team is struggling to score runs, could very well make the difference in a win or loss.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Cubs/Brewers Series Recap!

Well another series in the book and this one has our Cubs on top 2 & 1. That's two series the Cubs have played against teams that no one could confuse with the Yankees and our buys in blue are 3 & 3.

Like the series in Cincinnati, the Cubs seres against the Brewers got two nice pitching performances from their starters and one stinko. We can only surmise that if the rotation holds on that course the Cubs will have a successful year ending with an appearance in the postseason.
A couple of observations from the Brewers series however seem to indicate some areas of concern.

One, although the teams approach at the plate seems to be much more patient than the free swinging clubs under Dusty, it still is quite apparent that this is a fastball hitting team and that crafty off speed pitchers just give them fits. Now don't get me wrong, Capuano would've been tough on anyone yesterday, still I can't recall many more ugly swings by Cub hitters this young season. Which means they didn't read those damn scouting reports or Chris Capuano is already having his Bust bronzed for Cooperstown.

Second, it seems that with all the talk about the Cubs having two many right handed bats in their lineup, that someone other than Ronny Cedeneo with his mighty stroke, could be coming off the bench late in the game. Now Cedeneo didn't pinch hit yesterday and has actually been doing better than I thought he would this young season. However, when the Cubs had the bases loaded late in the game Uncle Lou, had no choice but to trot out Daryle Ward, who struggles mightily against lefties.

Piniella in his excitement to load up the starting lineup with RH bats against Capuano, neglected to leave himself any viable RH power off the bench. The Cubs are very light hitting from the right side on the bench and it would've behooved them to have considered that when choosing the 25th. man for their roster.

All in all though the team is only going as far as the starters can take them, and I'm pleasantly surprised with them so far. As far as the lineup, hopefully things will become clearer to Piniella and some adjustments will be made as to how it's configured and who stays on the 25 man roster.

Up next, Home Opener vs: Astros. It's a wonderful day in the neighborhood, Go Cubs Go!!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Cubs/Reds Series Recap!

Well one three games series surely isn't a season, but we can definitely make a few observations from the recent series in Cincinnati. Of course, the Reds performances are of little interest to me and I'll focus just on our Beloved Men In Blue.

First, the starting pitching performed well enough to at least win 2 of 3 instead of the other way around. Since most in the baseball world will concede a teams rotation is the biggest component to it's success, we should be pleased with the starters performances so far. The bullpen, reportedly the strength of the Cubs pitching this year, evidently thought the memo from Uncle Lou, to throw strikes and not walk anyone was meant just for the starters. Let's face it, walks are never a good thing but for a bullpen pitcher they are sure death. That needs to change.

Second, the defense performed average at best. Michael Barrett can't throw and is average at best fielding behind the plate. I know he's an above average hitter, especially for his position, but the truth of the matter is that your catcher is one of the most important defensive positions on the team. There is no reason Blanco shouldn't get 50 or so starts behind the plate regardless of his offense. Jacque Jones can't throw but is the best defensive outfielder on the team. Can anyone tell me why he's not in CF where his arm wouldn't be anywhere near the liability it is in RF? There is a reason most teams are willing to sacrifice offense for defense behind the plate and place their best oufielder in CF, they want to win! Defense never goes into a slump and hopefully Piniella will make these adjustments.

Lastly, the offense has been less than spectacular. This probably is the hardest aspect of the Cubs performance to effectively asses after just three games, but when men are in scoring position and consistently not being driven in, there is always cause for concern.

The Cubs have spent a lot of money on new players and a new manager. It is imperative Piniella continually evaluate this team and make changes accordingly.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Winning Baseball!

The two games played by the Cubs in Cincinnati have shown what most of all fans already know. Winning baseball is primarily controlled by the pitcher.

In game one, it didn't matter that Zambrano was the Cubs ace when he's not in command of his emotions. To get fired up for the season opener is fine, everyone likes to see that. To lose your cool is not good. Yes he was squeezed by Home Plate umpire Randy Marsh, but Marsh's strike zone wasn't any different for Aaron Heurang. Big Z's loss of control had more to do with his temper than his arm not being in the right slot.

The Cub hitters further compounded the teams demise by failing to understand that Marsh was calling a tight strike zone and not demonstrating the patience needed at the plate. When Heurang had near 90 pitches thrown thru 5 innings and is able to go through 7 innings, you know the Cub hitters were clueless.

In game two, we saw the #2 pitchers for both teams that had great control. This again is where we see the positive effects of a pitcher staying cool and keeping his emotions in check. I'm sure that every pitcher wants to perform well, and maybe we'd see a different outcome in game #2 if Randy Marsh was behind the plate for that game instead of the opener. Still when your Ace's emotions get in the way of him adjusting his game plan and the hitters being clueless as to the advantage they have with a guy like Marsh calling balls and strikes, you have a recipe for disaster.

Thankfully Uncle Lou seems to understand this an will not put up with it. Last night's game illustrated this in spades. First Murton wasn't in the lineup. Yes I know Arroyo is tough on righties but Murton's performance on Monday made Piniella's decision automatic. Secondly, when Dempster went into his Farnsworth impersonation, Piniella didn't send Rothschild out to the mound, Uncle Lou went out there himself. I sure the only word spoken by Piniella that wasn't X rated was the word ball.

Baseball is more than any other sport, a game played between your ears. Let's hope Sweet Lou, can get this point through these hard heads or we'll be in store for some fireworks.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Bright Spotlight!

Cubs lose 5-1 against the Redlegs. Well, no one thought the revamped Cubs would go 162-0 right?

Big Z still shows his propensity to get over excited on a big stage, but he'll have a Zambrano type of season and perform well. The playoffs of course will present another test for our hot blooded Latin hurler, as big stage will then be spelled with capital letters. We can only hope Randy Marsh, has a month long family vacation planned in October.

When Thunder Matt, has 3 pathetic AB's resulting in strikeouts, you know the pressure and spotlight got to him as well. Still, he'll perform well over the course of the season as his approach at the plate is one of the more fundamentally sound in the lineup.

In both instances however, patience was absent in either players approach yesterday, and this was one of last year's Cubs most inexcusable traits.

Last year's impatience was primarily the result of a lack of discipline, which this year appears will not be tolerated. Piniella is not going to have any Lollygagging on his ball club. But it is interesting to note, that controlling one's emotions with the spotlight on, is not easily mastered.

One game is just that, one game. Still the players will have to overcome the spotlight that is shining more brightly on the team than ever. Sweet Lou, has been there and seems impervious to the attention, but he doesn't hit, play defense or pitch. Can that "cool under pressure" mindset be taught? I don't know the answer, but it's definitely a trait that separates the pretenders from the contenders.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

100 Years!

As the 2007 MLB season gets underway tonight on ESPN, Lollygagger Girl Kerry, suggested we put her pic front and center to show her unwavering loyalty to the Cubs and her belief that the 2007 Cubs will not go 100 years between World Series Titles.

Girl's gotta a lot of heart, don't you think?

Play Ball!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Stats, Statistics, And More Damn Lies!

I've finally decided to do a number crunching thing, not my forte mind you, to answer the pin heads out there that point to Soriano performing so much better out of the leadoff spot than further down in the order.

Since Soriano's career numbers are heavily skewed by the preponderance of stats accumulated batting leadoff, his numbers vary only slightly batting in a different part of the order. What I'd like to point out however, is his effectiveness to the teams total offensive production, or the total runs the team scores when Soriano hits in different spots in the lineup.

Soriano's greatest number of plate appearances other than leadoff come from the 5 hole in the order.

2227PA, 138DB, 9TP, 121HR, 281RBI, 117SB, 38CS

5 Hole
618PA, 37DB, 3TP, 34HR, 107RBI, 31SB, 3CS

When we look at Soriano's effectiveness hitting from these two positions in the lineup, we see some alarming variables.

As a leadoff man Soriano gets an extra base hit 12% of the time.
Out of the 5 hole he gets an extra base hit 11.9% of the time.

As a leadoff man Soriano attempts a stolen base 6.9% of the time and is caught stealing 24.5% of the time.
Out of the 5 hole he attempts a stolen base 5.5% of the time and is caught stealing a base 8.8% of the time.

As a leadoff man Soriano hits a HR 5.4% of the time.
Out of the 5 hole he hits a HR 5.5% of the time.

As a leadoff man Soriano has an RBI 12.6% of the time.
Out of the 5 hole he has an RBI 17.3% of the time.

There are two interesting facts to point out when looking over these numbers.

One, Soriano creates an out at a rate of almost 3 times the frequency attempting a steal when batting leadoff compared to hitting in the 5 hole. Negatively effecting the heart of the order's ability to score runs.

Two, Soriano drives in a run 37% more frequently out of the 5 hole in the order than he does hitting leadoff. Positively effecting the heart of the order's ability to score runs.

Throw in 150+ strikeouts and suspect defense in CF, and the team suffers mightily from the misuse of this wonderfully gifted athlete.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I would just like to pose to your dear fans the game of "Russian Roulette" Piniella is playing with his lineup. Now don't get me wrong, Piniella is saying all the right things, but his roster and projected starting lineup looks to fly in the face of some of them.

You all understand the game of "Russian Roulette', where you gamble your life that the squeeze of the trigger has only a one in six chance of making it a bad day.

Well when Piniella dictates that his pitchers throw more strikes, the usual outcome is that more balls are put in play. Now with an outfield that should be wearing hard hats, it's like adding another round into one of the empty chambers.

We've often witnessed that come crunch time, the ball always seems to find the weak link in the field. The Cubs can help themselves out in this situation by fielding the best defensive team possible. After all, didn't Piniella proclaim that if you can't catch the ball you won't play?

There are two things that never go in a slump during the season and they are speed and defense. The Cubs are presently configured to be suspect in both of these areas. The question is why? Speed and defensive help were in camp this spring training and it's not like the players that exhibited these traits underperformed.

The game of baseball is a zero sum game. The team with the most runs wins. The fewer runs you give up, (pitching and defense) the fewer runs you need to score.

It is certainly a legitimate question to ask, just how stellar the Cubs rotation will be this year. So it seems more imperative the Cubs field their best defensive team.

Pie did nothing but have an excellent spring at the plate, the one concern of Cubs management, and would solidify the suspect outfield defense.

The Riot also piggy backed this springs numbers on an excellent last month or so from last year, showing he understands the importance of knowing how to get on base.

Both Pie and The Riot bring an element of speed to the team that's only real base stealing threat is Soriano.

How many HR's are the Cubs going to half to hit to make up for a suspect defense and turtles running the bases?

The issue that has seemed to force Piniella's hand with his lineup was the offseason signing of Floyd. That isn't what the Cubs needed for another LH hitter, an American League DH. Instead they could've got Lofton or even Finely for goodness sake. That way you'd have a little defense, speed and plate discipline from your backup outfielder.

The Cubs roster has plenty of mashers already on it with Soriano, Lee, A-Ram, Jones and Barrett. They could easily afford to play Pie and The Riot everyday to help the team with it's speed and defense.

My suggestion would be to option Ward and have Floyd take his spot as the number one hitter off the bench. Bring up Pie to play CF. Platoon Jones and Murton in LF, all you Murton fans relax please and have The Riot as your leadoff man at 2B. Murton and Jones could alternate in the 2 hole in the lineup and slide Soriano down to at least 4th in the order. DeRosa looks to bring more defensive versatility than The Riot and has demonstrated he can perform well in the super sub role.

A fact that is often overlooked on last year's Cardinals team success in the playoffs was, they were the best defensive team of the eight that were in the playoffs.

Lollygagger Girl Kerry's, 2007 Chicago Cubs Starting Lineup!

The Riot 2B
Murton/Jones LF
Lee 1B
A-Ram 3B
Soriano RF
Barrett C
Pie CF
Izturis SS

A lineup with plenty of power, above average OBP and speed in the leadoff spot, with better overall team speed and defense.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Final Countdown!

I've said it before and I'll keep saying it until "Sweet Lou", makes the change. The Riot belongs in the leadoff spot, not Soriano.

Through Sunday, and with just a week 'till opening day, the numbers are becoming more and more evident that what's in the best interest of the team is to have Soriano moved down in the order. I've detailed numerous times apart from this spring performances, why it's in the Cubs best interests so I'll just give you the facts on their performances this spring and let you make up your own mind.

57AB, 16H, 2DB, 1TR, 3HR, 4RBI, 15K, 3BB, 3SB, 1CS, 281BA, 328OBP

The Riot
56AB, 21H, 5DB, 3TR, 0HR, 5RBI, 5K, 5BB, 5SB, 0CS, 375BA, 435OBP

Pretty amazing? Well considering Soriano's career OBP is below 330, it's not a big shocker.

With all the pontificating about the importance of being selective at the plate going on with the new hitting coach Perry, and the big man Piniella, you have to ask yourself WTF?

If all this talk about how glorious it would be to see all these fastballs hitting in the 2 hole between Soriano and Lee makes any sense. How much would our swing happy Soriano benefit from having one of the better OBP hitters with speed on in front of him, with Lee immediately following?

We're not splitting the atom here kids, this is as obvious as the Cubs 99 year drought since a World Championship.

Is this really what we want to see 150 times from our leadoff man?

Friday, March 23, 2007

85 to 93

Well it looks as though the kid is alright, health wise that is. No pitcher goes from throwing 85 mph in one start, then follows it up with 93 mph in the next one if he's hurt. It seems that Mark Prior yesterday finally has had enough. Like the kid in grade school that just is teased unmercifully, Prior has finally remembered he's got a "Y" chromosome and, isn't going to take it anymore.

Actually I believe Prior hasn't been as motivated by words in the press as by his own dissatisfaction of what's transpired this spring. Sometimes life's changes good or bad, can come at you pretty damn fast and when your career path had done nothing but go in a straight line UP, most people have trouble adjusting. It's certainly true that many of Prior's injuries, although not of the magnitude of his teammate's Kerry Wood, have been legitimate. The collision with Marcus Giles in 2003 probably separated or came close to separating Prior's shoulder. The line drive off the bat of Brad Hawpe that hit Prior flush in the elbow was no make believe injury either.

The point is, Prior may very well be a little bit of a head case, he does hail from California not Texas after all, but he also was definitely abused like Wood, by "In Dusty We Trusty," makes you just want to hurl doesn't it. Prior's had every doctor from Dr Frank Jobe to Dr Joyce Brothers, give him a clean bill of health and it just looks like Prior has had a hard time believing it.

Prior's performance yesterday showed us and him two very important things. One, is that potential when unrealized can be spelled with FOUR letters and they're not STUD. Two, is that the shoulder is really healthy.

Prior may never be a damn the torpedo's and full steam ahead type of guy, but there is no doubt that healthy, he can DOMINATE!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Cold Hard Facts!

It's becoming apparent that Piniella is finally starting to see the true MO of his band of merry men this spring.

First, the offense is powerful, but the ugly scenario of having men in scoring position with less than two outs and not putting any runs on the board, is still a concern.

Second, the pitching staff has been mandated to throw strikes and so far the Cubs have actually taken more walks than they've given up.

Third, the defense with the reported projected lineup, is starting to show it's true colors. When the best defensive outfielder Jones, appears to be the one most likely traded, you know their is a problem.

Piniella has made it known that spring training isn't band camp. It's the time for a team that is overcrowded with talent for a number of positions, to step up and show you belong here. At this stage of spring training Piniella has to do more than just talk the talk, he has to walk the walk and field the best 25 man team possible.

Piniella has, much to my delight, been holding players feet to the fire and letting it be known in the press what he expects and demands from his team. His most recent comments illustrate just what a departure his tenure as manager will be from his predecessor's. Yesterday when he was asked what he saw in Neal Cotts? Piniella said, "I see he gives up runs every time he pitches." Priceless stuff I tell you.

Now Piniella has to actually back up his statements and walk the walk. If Prior can be shipped down to the minors to work out whatever it is he has to work out. Then Piniella has to do the same with the everyday roster. If defense is a problem then fix it. If we need more situational hitting, then fix it. There are players in camp that can do the job, if Piniella will back up his statements.

Say what you want about trading for Neal Cotts and signing Mark DeRosa. But it is becoming abundantly clear that they are not living up to expectations. Neither of them has a bigger contract than Mark Prior. If Prior can be sent to the minors, so can Cotts. The Riot is continuing to show that his speed and plate discipline will serve the Cubs best as an everyday player. DeRosa needs to assume his super-sub role, damn the contract. It won't be as bad a misuse of payroll as the $9 million three headed 2B of the past. That team wasn't close to being a contender, this one is.

The same goes for the porous outfield. If Piniella is willing to toy with the idea of Jones in the 2 hole when Floyd is in the lineup, why not Pie. Felix has already shown he has made strides in being more disciplined at the plate. If fastballs would be good for Jones in front of Lee and following Soriano, just think what the speedster Pie could do batting out of the 2 hole. Not to mention the defense he'll provide to make the outfield at least respectable.

If the Cubs have to trade Jones, then trade him. If DeRosa has to play super-sub, so be it. The speed and defense of Pie and The Riot, not to mention what appears to be superior plate discipline, just can't be ignored.

It's time to walk the walk Piniella. That's the cold hard fact of the matter.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Point Further Illustrated!

To carry forward the previous posts position, let me try and explain it with the help of some visual aides.

Would you think this is the best use of Elisha Cuthbert aka Kim Bauer, incredibly gifted physical talents,

or this?

Case closed!

Updated Mission From God!

As the Cubs move to make their first cuts of spring training, I'd like to show a couple of stat lines at this midway point.

Ryan Theriot aka The Riot
29AB 2DBL 1TRP 0HR 15TB 5RS 1RBI 3BB 2K 1SB 0CS 455OBP 379BA

Alfonso Soriano aka The Fonz
27AB 2DBL 0TRP 1HR 12TB 3RS 2RBI 1BB 6K 2SB 1CS 286OBP 259BA

It's a small sample I understand, but if The Riot continues with a stat line anywhere near this when camp breaks, how does he not when piggybacking these numbers on last year's, make the most sense to start at 2B and bat leadoff?

DeRosa is slow and has demonstrated the versatility to play multiple positions, a key to being an effective utility player.

Soriano has a career OBP under 330, a big negative out of the leadoff spot.

Soriano has already gone on record that he is willing to play and hit anywhere Piniella thinks he'll be the most effective. The jury is still out on his ability to handle CF, but it doesn't look like he'd have any chance to win the CF job if the Cubs didn't have a surplus of outfielders that would be beating down Piniella's door for playing time.

Yes it's a valuable asset to have a strong bench with quality players, but not at the risk of undermining the effectiveness of the lineup and weakening the defense.

Soriano batting leadoff and playing CF does both! If it means playing Jones, a proven CF'er until he's traded, and pissing off Floyd because he won't get enough AB's, who gives a shit? How in the hell can't Soriano be more productive hitting fourth than leadoff? Speed for a power hitter is just a bonus, not a criteria for hitting leadoff. Soriano's power and strikeouts dictate he hit in the middle of the order, where he would see better pitches to hit with A-Ram protecting him in the 5th. spot, than he would with a 2 hitter following him batting leadoff.

The leadoff spot belongs to a player like The Riot. He's showing he has enough speed and discipline at the plate to be a better option at leadoff than anyone else on the team, and it's not like he's replacing a gold glove, stud hitter with a huge contract at 2B.

It's a "NO BRAINER," Piniella! Get over your man crush on Soriano and do the right thing already, will ya?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Performance Evaluations!

We've all had them. That wonderful time at work where our employer now has to pony up with a raise for job well done. Of course in the world of MLB, we're sometimes left scratching our head, wondering he makes WHAT? For HOW many years?

In the everyday world of us mere mortals, most of our ceilings don't even rise above the basement, let alone reach the floor of the pay scale as professional ball players. Not to mention, they actually get to play a game for a living. Damn, if my father had only been 6'5" instead of 5'6", I'd have been of Hall Of Famer! lol

However, in the brave new world of Uncle Lou Piniella, it seems that many of the players in spring training will be faced with the ramifications of some ugly performance evaluations. This has all been made possible by changes in the Cubs front office that have resulted in a plethora of talent brought in to try and fix the 20+ years of neglect by the Cubs absentee owner, The Tribune Co.

So when March 20 rolls around, the Boss will call each player into his office. It is imperative that Piniella, regardless of a player's pedigree or contract, to not only swing the axe to cut the dead weight, but possibly more important, reward those that have shown they are deserving of a starting spot in the rotation or as an everyday player.

The youth on the ball club is starting to strut it's stuff. Piniella has to demonstrate his baseball pedigree, by damning the torpedo's and full steam ahead. He has no reason at age 63, to care about appearances or what anyone else thinks. All of the planets are properly aligned, as Piniella has zero history with his players and the front office's proclamation to "Just Win Baby", has given Piniella the opportunity send the message, "without exceptions, your playing time will be dictated by how you perform between the white lines."

It would be as refreshing a sign for all of us Cub fans, as the first sun kissed day of spring, to see our team actually have the best 25 men they could possibly have in the clubhouse come opening day. Who can say if the Cubs have enough talent to win it all, but to see the best players we have, used by a manager that actually understands how to manage a game, would be good enough for me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

I'm On A Mission From God!

I've decided to get out front on the issue of our new leadoff man, The Fonz! I don't support him batting leadoff, not now, not ever.

We have a little history on Soriano, so let's look into it.

Soriano in 2006 had 46HR, 41DB, 41SB, 17CS, 160K and 95 RBI. Can you tell me why a player with 87 extra base hits should bat leadoff? How is that using his ability to best serve the team? It's not, pure and simple. When you have 87 extra base hits and only 95 RBI's, you start to see the fallacy in this scenario.

Oh but you say, he stole 41 bases and we don't have a proven leadoff hitter. Well when you're CS 17 times, you've taken yourself off the base paths 41% of the time when you attempt a steal. Do you think those 17 outs cost the team more runs than the 41 extra bases contributed to scoring runs? There is no doubt that the outs were more damaging.

Since baseball is a zero sum game where runs scored and runs allowed both have equal weight when you want to chalk up a game in the win column, let me put it to you this way.

If Soriano had the top of the order up in front of each of his AB's, do you think the team would score more runs than if he has the bottom of the order up in front of each of his AB's.

If Soriano is caught stealing with the heart of the order following him, do you think the team would score as many runs if he didn't steal a base at all?

The answer is quite clear. Soriano can generate more runs for the team batting in the middle of the order than his legs would provide at the top of the order.

If Soriano hit between Lee and A-Ram for example, he'd have protection following him in the order to make sure opposing pitchers have to pitch to him. Soriano doesn't have that protection with the 2 hitter following him in the order.

Any two hitters the Cubs have that have a high OBP, it doesn't matter if it's Murton and Barrett, they will give the Cubs their best opportunity to score the most runs. They both have the two best and above average OBP's with excellent bat control, who cares if they can steal a base. You can't steal first base and the team isn't sacrificing a monster run producer in the leadoff spot. It's a no brainer, the Cubs would have significantly more run scoring opportunities with those two at the top and Soriano's big bat following them then the other way around.

Let me give you another one of the most common occurrences in the NL. Punch and Judy are usually bringing up the rear of the lineup with the pitcher to follow. When either of those hitters get on base in front of the pitcher, what happens? The pitcher bunts that man to second base, that's what. Now we have Soriano coming to the plate with first base open and the 2 hitter on deck. Do you think the opposing pitcher is going to pitch to Soriano or walk him?

Baseball is the same today as it was when I played. At Oklahoma State, the emphasis was always put on being patient at the plate and learning how to hit defensively if you got behind early in the count early. That's the way I was taught and the way I coached in HS as well, and it is a key fundamental of any high run scoring team. The players that were the most disciplined at the plate, unless they had prodigious power, hit at the top of the order, period. It's no different today in the majors. Sure you need some power hitters but many teams have power hitters and don't have a good runs scored total. When you look at teams like the Yankees and Red Sox, who lead the league or are in the top 5 in OBP year after year, you see the value of giving your team the best opportunity to score as many runs as possible when the run producers are at the plate.

This is a leadoff man.

This is not.

Monday, March 5, 2007

The Upside Down Show!

Overheard from a White Sox fan at yesterday's Cubs/Sox game at HoHoKam Park, "Maybe if you spend another $100M the Cubs might be 500."

Unfortunately I wasn't there to deliver a right cross to this lame's jaw but what he said was just what I would've said if the shoe was on the other foot.

Piniella sees the same thing that all of us do, with few exceptions the Cubs are just Lollygagging their way around in these games.

Thankfully we seem to have a manager that isn't going to stand for it and heads will start to roll, maybe even before Piniella's foot finds a players ass.

The White Sox bring three starters to the game, against the Cubs mighty revamped lineup that has a starter at every position but catcher, and pound out 5 HR's and score 13 runs? WTF!

The Cubs exhibited in true Dusty fashion yet again, the lack of ability to understand the game situation. The first inning says it all.

Soriano swings at first pitch and hits a double, Juan Pierre with power but clueless with a glove so far in CF. Mind my words, he won't go 3/3 everyday and his lack of OBP is going to hurt this team, just like Pierre did. Any idiot can see the his offensive skills are wasted in the leadoff spot. No matter how many bases Soriano steals, and if memory serves me correctly, Soriano didn't have as many steals as Pierre last year, did Pierre help the team in the leadoff spot?

Murton does his job at the top of the order and should be a poster boy for every hitter on the team. However Murton, will most likely suffer the most by being the number one guy asked to sit so Floyd can get his AB's. Insane I tell you, INSANE!

D. Lee gives a valiant effort after getting behind early in the count to eventually work it full before striking out. Like Murton, Lee seems to have understood the game situation where the Cubs had a terrific opportunity to rough up a stud starter from the White Sox and put a big crooked number up.

A-Ram, the next object of our desire or is it Ire, swings at the first pitch, then almost falls flat on his face doing his best "Charlie Hustle" imitation 358' to early, and hits into a double play.

I know it's only spring training and many of these players are going to be on the bus tour soon, but Piniella needs to take a long hard look at his lineup and understand that having two hitters at the top of the order that are tough outs and can extend the opposition's pitcher, are vital components of having an effective offense. You have to look back no further than 2003 with Lofton and Grudzelianek at the top of the order, to see how successful two tough outs can be in the 1 and 2 hole.

The Riot should be given a chance to not only earn the 2B job, but the leadoff spot as well. If spring training is the time to find out who can do what and help the team the best, why isn't that happening?

PS Has DeRosa even been on base yet?

Friday, March 2, 2007

Medical Concerns!

Well the bloom is certainly off the rose now. It seems that this is definitely going to be an entertaining year with Pinella at the helm. If that translates into a significant increase in the win column is the burning question.

The Good: Marquis threw 14 out of 20 pitches for strikes and didn't walk anybody.

The Bad: He's not fooling anybody either.

The Good: The Cubs staff yielded only one walk.

The Bad: They only had one strikeout.

The Good: The regulars played credible defense.

The Bad: Ronny Cedeneo and Scott Moore should be bagging groceries instead of playing baseball.

The Good: Piniella is calling a spade a spade and doesn't mind saying so publicly.

The Bad: At age 63, he will most likely need to start or increase his blood pressure medication.

All in all a very forgettable day between the white lines in Mesa except for Piniella asking if the Cubs have a PPO or HMO plan.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Wood's New Approach!

Kerry Wood has gone through quite a metamorphosis since his decision to move into the bullpen. He has undertaken an extensive off season training program and worked tirelessly on rehabbing his shoulder to make sure he's in the best physical condition possible. However, Wood insists it's his new mental approach that what will make him a dominant force again.

Wood states that using the positive visual imagery of firing each pitch in the ear hole of Albert Pujols, has been the key.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Daily Reviews!

Since I've purchased the MLB Internet spring training package, I'll receive 150 games. Of course I probably won't get all of the Cubs games, but I can assure you that I'll give you the skinny on those I do.

By the way, the lovely eye candy from 24 Kim Bauer, wants to let you all know she's a Cub fan, but if she sees any lollygagging from coaches or players this season, she's going to tell her daddy and Big Jack will come down to the park and shoot them right in the eye. Hugs and kisses, Kim.

Now that's the type of hard hitting, crack reporting you can expect here at Lollygaggers!

Hard Nipples!

Lollygagger Girl, Kerry can't wait to see her first spring training game tomorrow and is suiting up already. So her headlights are on and I for one, as I'm sure most of you all are as well, ready to get down for some action, on the field of course.

Hence I'm publishing her pic a day early to get you all up for the game. Enjoy!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Piniella vs: Kornheiser!

Piniella's stare was more than enought to render the Kornheiser interview on today's PTI show to one in which Kornheiser shuddered like a deer in your headlights.

Be Prepared!

Besides the bevy of new faces on the 2007 Chicago Cubs, the club is also reported to be sporting a little swagger.

Now swagger is usually the by-product of accomplishment, and if the Cubs do have or plan to have it, it has to be more than lip service.

A good sign that the Cubs are doing more than flapping their gums are reports from the desert of the work ethic being exhibited. It seems that Piniella and his charges are of the attitude that if 50 ground balls is good, then 100 ground balls are better and he seems to have chosen just those type of taskmasters for his coaching staff. Piniella has also gone on record that hitters with notoriously slows starts at the plate will get extra ABs this spring in the minors. It won't matter if your name is D. Lee or Joe Smow, the theme of this training camp seems to be, whatever it takes to get you prepared to start the season in full stride. Sweet Lou has already sent the message loud and clear about playing time once the season starts as well, stating if you're not 100% expect your ass to be riding the pine until you are.

This work ethic is a welcome surprise and greatly appreciated by the fans from the city of big shoulders. Piniella's tongue and cheek humor is also an indication that although he's serious about winning, he knows you have to keep your guys loose and have some fun. His pedigree was evidently forged not only from his success as a player but from his time spent and observations with successful organizations like the Yankees.

It is certainly a legitimate question if the Cubs have the necessary talent for playoff success, but the success or failure of the team won't be determined because they were not prepared.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Piniella Makes Plea!

IZTURIS: "Really Roberto, I was an All Star in 2004 and almost hit 300." "You can look it up."

NOVOA: Trying to show some compassion while fighting back tears of laughter places his arm around Izturis and says, "Sure you were little buddy."

Piniella makes plea to the troops after watching Izturis for the third straight day take his cuts in the cage without hitting the ball out of the infield. "WTF, can anyone else play SS?"

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Hank White & The Law!

It seems Blanco is assuming a bigger leadership role now that his new fiery, fellow Latino manager has his back.

The grizzled veteran catcher Blanco is laying down the law. Walking the opposition's hitters will no longer be acceptable, and if any of the Cubs pitchers doubt it, Barrett's right to the jaw of Pierzynski last year will feel like a love tap compared to Blanco doing a Farnsworth, and pile driving their ass to the ground for a real woopin'.

Friday, February 23, 2007


There are so many changes happening with the Cubs this spring training that you'd think the dysfunctional tag may finally be cast off.

For the first time in many moons, the team is not forced to bring up kids from their system due to gaping holes in the lineup and rotation.

When you look at a successful organization like the Braves, you see that unless their is are serious mid-season injury, the rookies are allowed the time needed to fully develop in the minors before being called up. That is why so many of their prospects, as well as good scouting of course, perform exceptionally well when they arrive to the Bigs.

The Cubs, with the exception of SS, seem to be pretty well covered on their big league roster with above average quality in the starting lineup and their rotation. Their bench also, which is no place for a rookie, see The Riot, is also pretty deep with some quality veterans.

The Cubs may have spent a shitload to accomplish this, but at least they didn't have to trade from an already thin minor league system. This will serve them well in the future and hopefully they can, with the direction of Tim Wilken, start the laborious process of rebuilding the farm system.

It seems even Pinella is showing that although he doesn't need Pie on the roster just yet, that he's not stubborn enough to sabotage the outfield defense even further by insisting Soriano, play CF. Brian McRae states in an article today by the Tribune's Paul Sullivan, that it's hard to learn the position in Arizona and thinks Soriano will wind up in RF.

This would strengthen the outfield defense for a number of reasons. One, Jones came to the Bigs as a CF and two, Soriano's arm would help the team stop the merry-go-round we witnessed last year with the opposition's base runners.

It also paves the way for the ascension of Pie if he has lights out numbers in AAA, therefore making Jones, whose stock will only rise if he demonstrates he can play CF well, a desirable trading chip for the Cubs that could actually land them some real value in return before the trading deadline.

It's certainly a demonstrable change in the way the Cubs have operated in the past, and I for one, see the benefits for not only Pie, but also any of the young starters that where worth a damn last year, to fully develop before being called up.

And no, I haven't been put on the Cubs media payroll, just drinking a little Blue Kool Aid. :)

Go Cubs Go!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mesa Musings!

Pinella tells Hendry he's happy for him that he can finally wear horizontal stripes but says he could still lose a few more pounds, and if he can find time between his workouts at the gym, how about making a deal for a real SS like A-Rod. Sweet Lou points out that the team is really weak at that position and there is no way that goofy SOB Cedeneo, is getting anywhere near the 25 man roster.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Overheard In Mesa!

Barrett refuses to go behind the plate when he discovers plan of pitchers Kerry Wood and Wade Miller. Apparently Wood and Miller had planned on crossing up Barrett when he called for a curve by short hopping fastballs.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Jonesin' For Some Love!

I'm sure most that read here know that I've often bashed Jacque Jones unmercifully. I've never tried to put myself really in his shoes, or even cared to for that matter. His struggles last year were for all to see and with an under performing team, and a contract that a the time seemed excessive, Jones became an easy target for my ire.

I know that I've been in a situation in the workplace when I felt my performance wasn't appreciated and you know what? I was bitter about it. I can just imagine if the media was inflaming the issue and putting their usual spin on it to enhance readership how I would have reacted. There would've been shit smashed and broken all over the place.

Jones performance last year had good and bad, but if the Cubs crack scouting department had done their homework, see Mike Remlinger, his troublesome shoulder would've never made it across the Illinois border except when Minnesota played the White Sox.

We all must keep in mind that Jones is a 2007 Chicago Cub. Are some of his problems fixable? Well much will depend on how much the reported off season therapy on his shoulder has strengthened his arm. If Jones arm is pain free, his throwing should be respectable.

Does Jones still have some issues? Of course he does, but so does Michael Barrett. It's Jones mindset that will lead to him performing well if healthy, and in lieu of the verbal and printed abuse he took last year, it seems that he's mentally tough enough to not have it effect his offense.

After listening to Jones on Comcast this morning, he didn't impress me as the type of player that is full of himself. He is soft spoken and I for one was quite shocked. My impression of him before the interview was one that was 180 degrees different. So I'm willing to give the man a second chance. It's quite possible much of his attitude has been overblown and misrepresented in the press. I'm not going to ask all of you to join hands with me and sing, Cum By Yah, but Jones seems to be a respectful man and deserves IMO the same in return.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Will Youth Be Served?

I must admit that I am as big as optimist as any concerning the Cubs chances every year. However this year the Cubs management has actually tried to support my optimism. I can't say that we have the best man in the GM position, as I probably would've spent $300M a little differently, but hey, they at least started spending.

I know that wild spending in and of itself is not a recipe for success, but contrasted to the vanilla approach towards acquiring talent in the past, I'll take the Donald Trump approach embraced by the new Cubs Prez.

So the Cubs have now assembled a cast that will compete for the 2007 campaign and hopefully the overall needs of the club will be evaluated, not just a players raw stats.

As I look at teams that have succeeded in past post seasons, I have a few observations as to what approach Pinella should take on assembling the 25 man roster to break camp with.

The pitching may not be spectacular but should be deep enough to produce a healthy rotation that will at least be on par with any other NL Central foe and the bullpen regardless of Dempster, should be one of the best in the entire NL.

The offense becomes light years more productive, with just the Soriano addition and the healthy return of Lee.

Even with the lighter than light hitting Izturis at SS, it's hard to imagine that he won't produce better at the plate than Cedeneo.

What concerns me most is the defense.

Their is no question in my mind that Hank White has proved he can be more than just a no hit, all glove backup, and with the number of day games the Cubs play, Pinella would be wise to start him about a third of the time. I'm as big a fan of Barrett as the next guy, but in probably the most defensive demanding position on the field, I think it's a mistake not to make better use of Blanco's superior defensive skills, especially against above average running teams. The Cubs offense can surely afford Barrett not starting say 50 games a year and that would keep Barrett fresh as well.

The outfield is the next concern as hard hats may be required if the early prognostications of who plays there holds to be factual.

I could care less if a 20 man platoon needs to be implemented in the outfield. If Pie can hit 250, he'll more than make up for the loss of Jones HR's with his superior defense. Pie's a natural CF'er and has a strong enough arm to play RF, but with Soriano attempting a new position, why put Soriano in CF?

2B is the next weak link in the defense I'd address. It doesn't matter that DeRosa was brought in to be the everyday 2B, he's played there a little over 40 games his entire career. The insertion of The Riot, assuming he doesn't pull a Cedeneo on us, will give us at least as strong a glove as DeRosa, not to mention some speed.

Outside of Soriano, the Cubs have some real plow horses clogging the bases and the addition of Pie and The Riot would address the issue.

Can you tell me that the Cubs can't afford the loss of Jones and DeRosa offensive production when the team defense and speed, two of the team's bigger weaknesses are upgraded significantly?

It's time for youth to be served!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Also From Our Cubs Fans On 24!

And in the words of Rusty from Vegas Vacation, "Who would've thought my sister would have the lungs, or was that the legs, of a thoroughbred". Little Audry is all grown up.

To Get You In The Mood!


I've decided to solicit Lollygagger Girl, Kerry, to offer a prize to the commentator who pegs the opening day lineup in Cincinnati this year. So bring it on kids and let us know your opening day batting order with their respective position in the field.

I hope we can accomplish, with the slew of talent we've acquired and the rookies invited to camp, a more fundamentally sound and productive team at the plate and in the field.

We all understand that the baseball world revolves around pitching, so I'd like for you to include your projected starting 5 man rotation as well as who and how many relief pitchers the Cubs break camp with.

I also have a couple of prop bets in case a tie breaker is needed.

1) Will Soriano hit a home run?

2) Will the starter go at least 6 complete innings?

3) If Super Jock is in your lineup, how many hops will his first throw back to the infield have? Opening line is 4.

Level Playing Field!

We can only hope as pitchers and catchers report to spring training today, that Uncle Lou will give everyone in camp a fair shot at making the club and earning a spot in the starting lineup. By all of Pinella's previous pronouncements, it seems there will be a level playing field for all invitees.

This of course is an 180 degree departure from Dusty's method of employing his pets, ie; Macias, Perez and their ilk.

This fresh attitude, along with a size 13 in the ass for not playing heads up ball, will finally bring a level of accountability to the clubhouse that has been so sorely missing in the past.

The tag of Lovable Losers can be finally jettisoned and with that, a degree of respect from all of the Cub haters. I for one am sick and tired of hearing and reading from the so-called baseball experts, about the fundamentally weak Cubs organization. Pinella must use his Yankee and world champion pedigree wisely and make it clear to everyone in the clubhouse, that performance is what dictates playing time, not off season moves about who was acquired to play what position or size of contract.

So my advice to Sweet Lou is this, throw a base or two or twenty and change your hair color as often as Dennis Rodman if you like, just make sure you send the message loud and clear, if you play team first, heads up ball, you'll get in the game.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Home Runs & Stolen Bases!

A number of articles have begun to surface concerning the effectiveness of the Fonz, as a lead off man. Although I've expressed my concern before about the new gun hired this past off season batting lead off, I'd just like to present the relationship of his Home Runs and Stolen Bases on the teams ability to score runs.

As recently as 2003, the Cubs had a legitimate lead off man in Kenny Lofton. Lofton in the mold of every excellent lead off man, exhibited patience at the plate with the ability to steal bases.

We saw last season with J. Pierre, how ineffective the Stolen Base was when the OBP suffered. Not only did Pierre's lack of willingness to work the count for a walk hurt the meager scoring opportunities for the Cubs but Pierre compounded it by being thrown out attempting a stolen base at an alarming rate.

In 2004, the Cubs had a Home Run mashing team that still barely cracked the top 10 in runs scored. We all know that the lack of scoring runs was widely attributed to the lack of runners on in front of the middle of that potent order.

We are now days from the 2007 Cubs opening of Spring Training, and are prized free agent acquisition is purportedly penciled in as our new lead off man. Is this the most effective use of this multi-talented offensive weapon?

Let's look at some historic numbers for a moment and see what we can glean from them about filling the lead off spot with Soriano.

In 2006, The Fonz was a 40/40/40 man with the Nationals hitting in the lead off spot, impressive to say the least when you consider he carried an OBP of 351. However, Soriano has never had an OBP over 332 in his career. His career OBP is 325 and his 2005 OBP was 309, Yikes! Soriano does have some pretty impressive numbers hitting out of the 5 hole however with Texas. In 497AB he hit 270 with 30HR and was 24 for 26 in SB.

The question Pinella has to ask himself, is the 351OBP from 2006 the real thing? I say no way.

Pinella would be wise to take a page out of T. LaRussa's book and bat the offensive Juggernaut Soriano, in the 2 hole like LaRussa did with L. Walker.

The opportunity to have opposing pitchers intentionally walk Soriano after a pitcher advances a runner to 2B is to easy a decision for an opposing manager to make when the next hitter will be a considerably less potent RBI threat. If the Fonz were hitting out of the 2 hole, he would be immediately followed by Lee and Ramirez. This would force opposing pitchers to not pitch around him and in the above sacrifice scenario with first base open, pitchers would now face the best OBP hitter in the Cubs lineup. This allows for a possible walk of the lead off man or scoring the runner from 2B without an extra base hit.

I understand Pinella's desire to give Soriano as many AB's as possible and use his prolific speed at the top of the order, but let's be real here, aren't both of those options still available with the Fonz hitting from the 2 hole?

Pinella should realize that he loses very little with Soriano hitting second. Soriano will see better pitches to hit and increase his RBI opportunities.

Let's face it, when all is said and done, baseball is a zero sum game. The team with the most runs wins, period. Not maximizing the the Cubs run potential, just makes our already questionable rotation all the more susceptible.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Dirty Word!

The mindset of most professional ball players requires them to think of themselves in such terms as, 5 Tool, Starter and Everyday Player. It is a humbling experience and one many ball players have trouble adjusting to when the dirty word, Platoon Player, is used in conjunction with their name. However many ball players are just that, or if not are just unfortunate or fortunate enough depending on your perspective, on a team that has other more considerable talent at their position.

The 2007 Cubs are a team that has a considerable number of players that possibly could find themselves in this position. How these players accept this situation will determine to a large extent the success of the Cubs this season.

Of course players like Lee, Ramirez, Soriano and Barrett, will only be subbed for in order to get a days rest here and there. Izturis, if healthy will also most likely be an everyday player if only because of his purported skill in the field. The Cubs could live with a 250BA out of the 8 hole if he can really pick it.

That leaves LF, RF and 2B, as positions that could benefit from a regular platoon.

Unless Jones is traded, he should ride the pine against all LHSP with DeRosa, who actually has more time playing in RF than any other position, filling in for Jones with a southpaw on the mound. Jones struggles against lefties and DeRosa murders them, so it should be a no-brainer for Pinella to use them accordingly.

Murton and Floyd both believe the LF job should be theirs, but their willingness to accept a platoon role needs to be embraced by them both. When the dust settles, if either one is truly dominant over the other, we can expect Pinella to reward the deserving player with more and more playing time.

DeRosa is projected as the starter at 2B, but a strong spring by The Riot could change that scenario. Especially since DeRosa will find extra AB's because of his versatility at a number of IF and OF positions.

The key to this platoon working will be Pinella's ability to convince the players it's in the best interests of the club as a whole. This new attitude will go a long way in changing the role of a platoon player, from a dirty word to a description of a key player that puts the success of his team first.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Spring Training!

I don't know about any of you, but I've got a major chubby now we're less than a week before spring training starts. I've purchased my MLB off season package on the Internet and hope to overdose on every pitch. Any of you other psychopath's planning on a trip out to Mesa, for an up close glimpse of our beloved 2007 men in blue, leave a comment or email me with the particulars and maybe we can hook up for a cold one at a game. You never know, maybe Lollygagger Girl, Kerry will make an appearance.

It's nice for the Cubs and us fans to see some real competition at a number of positions and in the rotation. Hopefully Uncle Lou, will be a fair talent evaluator during camp and break for the regular season with the most deserving in the the best positions for the club to compete. If he does, the Cubs will have a respectable season and the playoffs should be a realistic possibility.

To go far in the playoffs though, it would seem to rest on the enigmatic Prior. His resurgence as a solid force in the rotation would be a welcome surprise and equate to as big an off season acquisition as any.

I look forward to tipping a few cold ones with you in Mesa, Go Cubs Go!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Back In Black!

Ok, I've finally sobered up from the painful death of the 2006 season.

What a disgusting performance by the pint sized, disco dancing, little girl handed, unathletic, Lovie embraced QB, Grossman. If the midget Grossman, is given anymore of a chance to make the 2007 Bears than Ronny Cedeneo is this spring with the Cubs, I'll be breaking shit all winter long.

Oh yeah, and F$@& you too Ron Rivera, for that shameless prevent defense played for the entire game. If that was an audition for the Cowboys, guess what, you blew it.

If I had heard any more cooing coming from the Colts and Bears before and after the game, I'm sure I would've vomited from a sugar overdose. Where was all the swagger and cracking of skulls from this make believe, were about to take our own place in Chicago defensive lore team, that was so indicative of the real Monsters of the Midway, the '85 Bears.

The Bears exhibited the same vanilla approach and stubbornness to adjust their game plan that spelled doom for them in 2005 against the Panthers.

Re-up Lovie Smith? Are you kidding? I'm beginning to think he resembles Baker, more and more.

Had Da Not Coach Lovie, showed a little flexibility, the game could've been had by the Bears.

So I offer this little bit of advice for the head bean counter Ted Phillips, save the dough on re-upping Lovie and successfully lock up a real bone crusher in the mold of a true Bear linebacker, Lance Briggs.

Thank God there is only 8 days until spring training, as wearing black out here in California just makes my blood boil more than it is already after the debacle in Miami.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Lock Down Mode!

I'll be traveling to Chicago tomorrow, so I'll be in lock down mode. Bears Victory means drunk 'til at least Wednesday. I don't even want to think about what will happen if they lose.


Thursday, February 1, 2007

Speed & Defense!

There are two things in baseball that never take a day off, they are speed and defense.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, speed and defense are two of the their more glaring weaknesses. However there are two positions in the lineup, one in the infield and one in the outfield, that the Cubs can address to help with both of these deficiencies.

Felix Pie and The Riot can bring the speed and defense necessary to overcome whatever if any, offensive shortcomings they may have. Defense, can and should be considered an offensive category as it helps prevent the opposition from scoring runs. Speed, more recognizably helps the offense as runners can create more disruption of an opponents pitchers and defenses, therefore helping the Cubs manufacture more runs without the big extra base hit.

The Riot playing 2B, could hopefully come close to duplicating last year's performance, at least in steals and plate discipline. This could eventually allow Pinella to move Soriano out of the lead off spot and down to a more run producing spot in the lineup.

Felix Pie playing CF or RF, could transform a suspect outfield defense into a superior one. Pie's inexperience at the plate would be offset by the superior speed and defense he'd bring to the team.

Remember Lou, speed and defense never go into a slump and with a respectable bench to provide some added pop if needed late in the game, The Riot and Pie help balance the team where they are weakest.

6,7,8 Open Thread!

Why would your two highest OBP hitters bat at the back of the order? Well one reason is that you had the first 5 Yankee hitters in the lineup. Of course the Cubs don't have those players and having Barrett and Murton hitting 6 and 7 respectively just doesn't make much sense.

Uncle Lou said in his introductory press conference, that having 8 midgets taking walks wasn't a bad way to increase the Cubs woeful OBP, and while his comments were tongue and cheek, the statement speaks volumes for the hopefully fresh approach that will be implemented with the Cubs.

Barrett or Murton both have what you look for in a 2 hole hitter and barring any revisions to the media's projected starting lineup, it would appear either could produce in that role. The nod of course should go to the player that would bring some speed as well and this would most likely rule out Barrett.

That's what so puzzling about the insertion of DeRosa in the 2 hole as he is hardly fleet of foot.

It seems Izturis is destined and rightfully so for the 8 hole. We can only hope Pinella isn't confused by Cesar's switch hitting, which normally is a valuable commodity in the 2 hole. As like N. Perez before him, switch hitting doesn't mean jack, when your career OBP is below 300.

We have all seen how the lack of OBP from the 1 and 2 hole have crippled the Cubs chances of significant run production, even in the years when they've had a healthy middle of the order.

The projected lineup of,

Soriano RF
DeRosa 2B
Lee 1B
A-Ram 3B
Jones CF
Barrett C
Murton LF
Izturis SS

emphasizes speed in the leadoff role and a plodder in the 2 hole, while sacrificing production in the middle of the order.

Do you think this lineup is making the most of it's players? Does it even have the best players in their respective positions?

Let's hear your take on it.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Change Found Between Cushions!

Prior and Cubs avoid arbitration and agree to a one year deal for $3,575,000. Tribune reports that there still is plenty of money left to extend Zambrano as the resources used for the Prior deal was funded solely by change found between the cushions in the couch of Andy McPhail's office.

3,4,5 Open Thread!

If Pinella decides to use Soriano as the lead off hitter next season, does it have a negative impact on the middle of the order?

If Jones is traded, Floyd definitely couldn't play CF and do we want to count on Floyd to be an everyday player?

If Pie can make the team out of spring training, doesn't the middle of the lineups production suffer?

The decision where Soriano bats in the lineup could very well make or break the lineups production, so does his speed at lead off justify the the loss of production in the middle of the order?

I'd love to hear your take on this.