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.