Saturday, September 30, 2006

Maddux Wins 15th; Clinches Playoff Berth For Los Angeles

From awkwardly titled All-everything Maddux leads Dodgers back into playoffs (article)

It was fitting that Maddux (15-14) had much to do with the Dodgers' return to the playoffs. They acquired the 40-year-old from the Chicago Cubs on July 31 to give them a veteran arm for the stretch run -- and he won six games in Dodger Blue.

"It feels great," Maddux said. "I had a great time in Chicago. I'm glad I got traded to Los Angeles, so it's been a very good year for me personally. Hopefully it'll get better. I wasn't expecting to be in the playoffs until I got traded."

Congratulations, Greg.

Friday, September 29, 2006

I Wish I Could Complain About Len and Bob, But I Have Not Watched A Game Since Stone Left.

From article, "Baker May Enjoy Last Laugh"

Former Cubs broadcaster Steve Stone was seen dining recently with John McDonough, the Cubs senior vice president of marketing and broadcasting. Sources insist it was just a social meeting between old friends, but if Brenly gets a managerial job, the door may be open for Stone's return to the Cubs' TV booth.


It would be nice to finally be able to watch a WGN/CSN game again.

On leaving:


"God told me to come here," he said. "And I just can't believe—my dying mother-in-law told me this, and I pray on it—that I was supposed to come here to leave under these circumstances.

Dusty Baker = Doesn't cut and run, supported by God.

And to give Joe Morgan some competition:

If Baker doesn't get a managerial job, he figures to draw interest from ESPN as a baseball analyst.

Michael Barrett Will Take His Future Children To The Museum.

When Barrett does come back, he'll be wearing a cup that offers bullet-proof protection. They are on the market.

"Once I get that thing, it's game on," he said.

Muskat/Barrett manage to get Super Troopers and Wayne's World into the same story.

And the original cup? It's now on display at a youth baseball complex Barrett is involved with in the Atlanta area.

What?

-----

Juan Pierre notched his 200th hit in the first inning on Friday, and the Cubs center fielder will likely set a record for lowest batting average for a player with 200 hits. Pierre entered Friday's game batting .291. The current low is .295 by Jo-Jo Moore of the 1935 New York Giants.

Juan Pierre's OBP ranks 17th out of 20 among qualified leadoff hitters, ahead of Scott Podsednik, Randy Winn, and Chone Figgins. Pierre is second to last in walks, just two ahead of David Eckstein.

WHO HAS 200 FEWER AT-BATS.

Juan Pierre: One step below David Eckstein.

You're fat and you can't pitch.

Buster Olney earlier today on Pedro Martinez:

Pedro has nothing.

Actually he has a tear in his left calf.

It reminds me of when Doug Buffone interviewed Jerome Williams after he was traded to the Cubs, and criticized him for arriving at spring training twenty pounds overweight. When he asked Williams how he could justify himself, Williams replied that his mother had died in the winter and his father had spent most of the off-season in the hospital, and as a result Williams had no time to exercize.

Ah, repentance.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Cubs: Not Rebuilding

Sep 27 The Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan reports Chicago Cubs SP Rich Hill and SP Sean Marshall won't be in the rotation at the same time if manager Dusty Baker can help it, because Baker believes it would signal the club is in rebuilding mode. "Right now Hill has pitched better," he said. "It depends on whether you want to develop, or do you want to win the pennant? That's the first thing you have to make up your mind on, or who's out there that's going to help you get over the hump, or who's here that you were counting to come back who wasn't here."

What sort of mode should you be in after a season in which you have lost 95+ games?

First of all, he's under the impression that he has any sort of control over what will happen with next year's starting rotation, which is either stupid of him or betrays some sort of secret pact that he has with Hendry (which scares the hell out of me). Secondly, this is classic Dusty Baker.

The reason the Cubs are so bad now is that their manager refuses to allow his younger talent to develop, so that when an Alou or a Grudzielanek leaves or is traded, the only thing the Cubs can do is find another veteran like Neifi Perez, because Baker has not prepared the replacements to play.

Here is a look at what might be the Cubs' starting rotation next year:

Carlos Zambrano - There's nothing anyone needs to say about this one.
Rich Hill - I still feel that if Dusty's around, this guy doesn't have a sure shot to make the rotation in 2007. Maybe he'll have a bad spring training and Dusty will send him to the minors. This guy has led baseball in strikeouts two years in a row.
Mark Prior - For about 23 starts. Prior has stated that in the event that he doesn't make a start for the Cubs this year, he'll consider pitching in the Cubs developmental league in Mesa or the Arizona Fall League, which is encouraging, I guess. Please don't do this again, Mark, it's been three years.
Wade Miller - He's been decent and will only get better. The Cubs had better offer him a contract now. He's healthy, undervalued, and so overlooked that MLB Trade Rumors missed him in suggesting a fourth or fifth starter for the Cubs' 2007 rotation. (Nor did they mention Eric Patterson as a replacement for Theriot/Cedeno)
Anyone - I wanted to suggest somebody here but the Cubs gave him away. More on that later.

As much as I'd love to see a Barry Zito-type starter added to the Cubs rotation, this team has so many holes right now. Either they'll focus on getting a real shortstop and second baseman and think about who is going to play center field next year, or overspend on another starter. Either way, the Cubs will not go into spring training as any real threat to contend for the division.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Pitchers Who Drove Me To Alcoholism, Not Quite Anonymous

Remember the Worst Batters Of My Life spectacle? Here comes its pitching equivalent. Rules: Again, only time spent with the Cubs and during my lifetime (8/5/82-present) count. Pitchers must have 162 IP to qualify.

We'll go ten deep here, as a) it is a fairly arbitrary number, and b) it will allow me to start the list with this man, a true lousy Cub pitcher if ever there was one...

10) Glendon Rusch (341.1 IP, 18-18, 4.69 ERA, 1.49 WHIP)

The Cubs have had many mediocre fat pitchers during my lifetime (Mel Rojas, Rod Beck, Rich Garces), but Glendon was and is more left-handed than any of them...which is one of the few nice things you can say about this guy. (I said the other a couple weeks ago, in which I expressed the sentiment that I hoped he didn't die.) Glendon only pitched well when he was fighting for a job, which was always amusing, because when he'd get the rotation spot (or whatever), he'd promptly go back to sucking. This is a metaphor for the world at large, if you're a Cub fan.

9) Jeremi Gonzalez (254 IP, 18-16, 4.71 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)

Jeremi has made a career out of questionable decisions, such as changing his already stupidly-spelled name to "Geremi", and signing with the Brewers. However, when he came up, he looked like he was going to be the Cub Of Tomorrow!!!. He was 11-9 his rookie season, with a reasonable ERA...then, 1998 came, and he was the one Cub pitcher who wasn't really all that good. Mercifully, he blew out his arm against the Mets, threw 35.2 more innings over the next two years in the Cub minor league system, got released, missed all of 2001, and finally came back in 2003 with Tampa. I know that losing a promising young pitcher to an arm injury is a shock to us Cub fans, but really, with a K-rate of 5.78/9, this gackass didn't deserve a gob in the first place.

8) Jason Bere (273.2 IP, 12-21, 4.74 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)

Unlike the Cub Of Tomorrow!!! wannabe listed above, this idiot surprised absolutely nobody by sucking. True, he had a fairly decent season in 2001...but that was apparently caused by Chicago River fumes or something, because he came back in '02 with one of the most atrocious seasons ever (1-10, 5.67). His services were not retained, and he went on to pitch nearly seven more innings with Cleveland before admitting to himself that he was washed up, and a disgrace to his family.

7) Jim Bullinger (481 IP, 27-28, 4.77 ERA, 1.46 WHIP)

Jim was actually halfway decent for a couple of years, but dubious control along with a total inability to strike people out spelled an end to his career. (That 6.54 ERA in his final season with the team also might have had something to do with it.) He was a pretty fair hitter, though, including an OPS of 899 his final year with the team. I remember rooting for this guy to do well when I was growing up, so I don't want to be too hard on him...unfortunately, I also remember him being behind just about everybody in the rotation. At least he was better than his brother Kirk, who posted a 6.53 ERA in his major league career (although his minor league career was both long and dominant, but even Pandrew is long and dominant where minors are concerned).

6) Kyle Farnsworth (478.2 IP, 22-37, 4.78 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)

I have nothing negative to say about this man. He seems to have Bret Saberhagen Syndrome, where he only suck(s/ed) in even-numbered years. 1999 doesn't count, because some genius got the idea in their head that he was a starter. He wasn't.

5) Jose Guzman (210.2 IP, 14-12, 4.78 ERA, 1.41 WHIP)

Jose came to the Cubs after two successful season with Texas. He proceeded to have one decent season, and then the next year, four terrible starts and a career-ending injury. If I ever learn to use auto-text, I am going to have an abbreviation that inserts "career-ending injury" into every article I ever write about Cub pitchers. Fun fact: Jose attended high school in Puerto Rico. John F. Kennedy High School, to be exact.

4) Felix Heredia (163.1 IP, 15-6, 5.01 ERA, 1.51 WHIP)

No, that's not a typo...I have no idea how this waste of organs (namely: left arm) had a 15-6 record with the Cubs. I seem to remember him blowing every game in which he pitched, actually. Hernia (as my oh-so-mature friends and I called him) was a lefty specialist who wasn't used as one...thank you, Don Baylor. His four seasons with the team ranged from "lousy" to "inexcusable", and somehow he's in baseball today - and only 30! The Indians didn't even call him up during their closer crisis earlier this year, despite his whopping six major league saves.

3) Danny Jackson (183.2 IP, 5-14, 5.19 ERA, 1.65 WHIP)

In 1991, the Cubs signed Jackson for 10.5 million over 4 years despite being three years removed from his one great season. Jackson managed to get hurt after three starts, miss two months, and win ONE of his fourteen starts. He walked more men than he struck out, and let more men score than he walked. We'll always have June 14, 1991, though...his solitary victory (five innings of shutout ball over the Padres). 1992 was not much better, as he went 4-9 before being traded straight up for Steve Buechele. Jackson barely struck out four batters per nine innings as a Cub - to put that in perspective, of all of the Cubs who qualified for this list, none struck out fewer than Jackson. His worst quality, though, was the fear he instilled in the Cubs of giving promising young pitchers with low strikeout rates long-term contracts...thereby causing us to lose out on Greg Maddux.

2) Amaury Telemaco (163 IP, 6-11, 5.36 ERA, 1.43 WHIP)

"When the ball goes real high and hits Waveland on the fly, that's Amaury!" Telemaco won his first two major league starts for the Cubs in grand fashion, and it was all downhill from there. He hung on for two more seasons before being waived, and went on to be thoroughly mediocre for other teams. In both of the full seasons he pitched with the Cubs, he cracked the rotation only to be demoted to the bullpen midseason - and oddly enough, when they started him in the pen in 1998, he was fairly serviceable, which is probably why he was released.

1) George Frazier (191.1 IP, 15-15, 5.36 ERA, 1.65 WHIP)

Frazier pitched for the Cubs from the time I was a year old until a week past my fourth birthday, so I don't have any personal recollections of him doing anything. He does sound like the mutant offspring of George Foreman and Joe Frazier, but I doubt he could fight as well as Farnsworth. What he could do was make crappy relief appearances for the Cubs, and that he did well, if such a thing can be done "well". Also, he was the pitcher who finished the Pine Tar game for the Yankees, so there's that.

I didn't have as much fun with this list as I did with the lousy hitters. With a couple exceptions (Rusch, Jackson, Heredia), these guys were mostly silently crappy and not flat-out awful. Most of the enjoyably crappy guys didn't qualify (Estes and Alfonseca both just missed), and some of these guys just weren't fun to pick on. Next, I'll try something a little more uplifting...because really, there are reasons that we stick with the Cubs year in and year out.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A quote

Dusty Baker, describing another disastrous outing by Ryan Dempster, which resulted in his ninth blown save--and ninth loss--of the year:

"You don't want to beat a dead horse to death," Baker said.

Sometimes, Dusty, you really want to.

Let's cut the guy a break for once.

Watching the Bears earlier today, I found myself thinking of 2001...you know, the last time they looked really good? This got me thinking about past times that certain other teams have looked good, and my mind flashed back to a Sunday much like this one, eight years ago.

In 1998, you all remember Trachsel taking a no-hitter into the seventh in the playoff game with the Giants. What you may not remember is the Cubs and Giants BOTH losing on the previous day to force a tiebreaker game. The Cubs went first, inexplicably leaving Rod Beck in to face the Astros for a THIRD inning, where he ran out of gas (and presumably cake), allowing a leadoff triple to Carl "Nature will find a way" Everett, who scored two batters later on a sac fly. However, what came next warmed all our hearts...with the Giants and Rockies tied at 8 in Colorado, who came through with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth, sending the Giants into a tie with our Cubbies?

That's right, it was former Cub and current THS/the rest of the Internet punching bag Neifi Neftali Diaz y Perez. So thank you, Neifi...and go Tigers? I guess? (Wasn't there some other team that was supposed to win that division this year, by the way? I seem to remember a lot of their "fans" whining about it at the beginning of the year, it wasn't the Twins...if they hadn't all shut up, I'm sure I could figure it out.)

Anyhow, I'm back and able to sit at a computer for a continuous hour again...so between that and Pandrew's (prorated) 7.571 words per day over the past week, looks like things are back to normal around here. (I am very proud of him, however...he told me the other day that he's now interested in a girl who's old enough to vote, putting aside my views on women's suffrage for a moment.)

Congrats as well to Pope Carlos on his SIXTH home run of the season, tying Fergie Jenkins' Cub record, and along with his awesome pitching and attitude...well, there's three reasons right there why he's one of the two Cubs worth giving a shit about. (The other is Aramis Ramirez. Derrek Lee apologists can say what they want, but outside of one [completely fluky] season, he's Mark Grace with a touch more pop.) Let's review the other pitchers who have hit five or more homers in the years between Fergie and Carlos:

Brooks Kieschnick, 2003, 7 HR in 70 AB.

BULLSHIT. I CALL BULLSHIT. Most of these homers weren't even as a pitcher. How can he even call himself a relief pitcher, unless one of the criteria was "totally sucking with the Cubs"? I protest this one.

Mike Hampton, 2001, 7 HR in 79 AB.

I don't even understand this one. Home run hitters are usually big guys, right? Guys like Carlos, that you'd want backing you up in a bar fight. Guys like Hampton in a bar fight? Maybe if you're in the 1890s, stuck in an O. Henry story or something, and he's got a jaunty cap and a devilish look...I just don't get the impression that this guy is really up for too many physical feats of strength. (Also, this happened in pre-humidor Colorado...and THAT is why I do not think that Todd Helton is on steroids.)

Bob Gibson, 1972, 5 HR in 103 AB.

No pitcher hit as many as five homers in a season between Gibson and Hampton, 29 years later. There's not really much I can say about Gibson at 3 AM that hasn't been said better elsewhere...recently...probably by someone that you know...so I'll just remind you of the great similarity between Bob and Carlos. These two are both great competitors and deserve respect, even from opposing fans...not only for their heart on the field, but also because they would probably kill you if you booed them.

That's the lot of them right there...an ex-Cub, a Cubs' rival, and a guy who spends so much time on the DL that he may as well pitch for the Cubs. (In all fairness, though, that would describe most randomly selected sets of three pitchers from the past 35 years.)

That's enough for one night, I think. Tune in next time, when I'll review the worst Cub pitchers of my lifetime, Pandrew will hopefully start on this magnum opus draft analysis piece he keeps talking about (it really does sound pretty good), and we'll try to find pictures from the movie Equilibrium in which William Fichtner looks like Will Leitch, but with AIDS.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Importance of Leadoff Men

Dusty Baker, on what helped the Cubs score 22 runs in two games, September 17-18:

"No. 1, we're getting our leadoff man on early," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.

Number 1: The Cubs hit ten home runs in two games, hitting .392 (33/84). They were also aided by two Phillies errors.

Special Thanks

To Pandrew: While I was in the hospital for a night and on bed rest for two more days, I'm glad that you kept things active. Much love, amigo.

To ESPN's Bottom Line: For the funniest thing I've seen all day -- "Colts DE Dwight Freeney (buttocks) and K Adam Vinatieri (groin) questionable for Sunday's game with Jaguars." Questionable, indeed!

To Chris Young: Here's to one of THS' favorite non-Cubs, who nearly no-hit the Pirates tonight. This was the third time this year that Young has taken a no-hitter past the five innings needed for a win, and the TENTH time that he's gone five or more without allowing more than three hits. That's in thirty starts, people. If you send CY (see what I did there) to the hill, there's a one in three shot he's giving up three hits, tops. Kerry Wood's 1998: 6 out of 26. Nolan Ryan's 1972, where he allowed the best hit/inning ratio of all time? 10 out of 39. However, Ryan blew Chris away in 2001, at age 44...with 12 <3 H performances in only 27 starts. (Using "<3" on a baseball blog: priceless.)

To Mariano Rivera: For being A-Rod's friend. I mean, the last thing we need is another whiny brat on MySpace.

To Pandrew, again: JESUS CHRIST MAN WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO FOR SIX DAYS.

To Carlos Zambrano: You're Carlos Zambrano. In the words of a signature in Lizzie McGuire's yearbook, "You rock! Don't ever change!"

To rain: Thank you for saving us from four extra innings of Cub "baseball" tonight. Rich Hill, please learn to keep the ball down. You will be basically the best pitcher in the history of the world if you learn to keep the fucking ball down. I have an idea for a Rich Hill-related promotion for 2006, but I have to check with THS Legal first. (If he learns to keep the ball down, it's not.)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Worst Day Games Of Our Lives

Here's a concept: An all-star team, except the opposite. Thanks to the searchable database at BaseballMusings.com, you can search for all sorts of things...including the answer to my question: "Who are the worst Cub hitters of my lifetime?"

The rules: Only statistics compiled with the Cubs are eligible. The date range is 8/5/1982 until today, 9/16/2006. That's a bit over 24 years of general crap. Additionally, players must have had 502 plate appearances - the cutoff to be eligible for a single-season batting title. Players are ranked in order of batting average - these ARE the bottom nine. And now, without further ado - the shameful nine known heretofore as the All-Subpar Team.

#9 - 3B, Kevin Orie. (600 AB, .243/.315/.377, 10 HR)

Kevin followed in the footsteps of the immortal Gary Scott as "The Third Base Prospect Who Wasn't." Orie was a player whose all-around game only had three weaknesses - hitting, fielding, and baserunning. I cannot remember a single happy memory of this guy, and for a Cub fan to say that means a lot. I'd like to finish his bio here with a quote from another Chicago sports legend.

"What a piece of shit he is, fucking fag."

#8 - LF, Chico Walker. (618 AB, .241/.303/.312, 7 HR)

Unlike Orie, I didn't hate Chico Walker. Not only was he a fairly competent basestealer (41/54), his main competitors (during 1991-92 - I don't personally remember his first Cub stint due to being less than five years old) were Jerome Walton (post-decline), Dwight Smith (post-decline), and Ced Landrum (never good). In addition to that, his name suggests that like Pandrew, he's some sort of bizarre Puerto Rican/cracker blend.

#7 - CF, Doug Dascenzo. (1070 AB, .240/.301/.300, 3 HR)

I refuse to disparage the good name of Doug Dascenzo. Once, I attended the pregame Cubs Youth Clinic, where Cub stars would teach their young fans the fundamentals of the game. He taught me that to catch a fly ball, you should hold your glove out directly in front of your face and use both hands...which led to a shiner when I tried it in Little League. So, on second thought, up yours, Dascenzo. Way to have a worse slugging percentage than Carlos fucking Zambrano, you worthless goddamn midget.

#6 - RF, Damon Buford. (580 AB, .240/.309/.378, 18 HR)

Remember Darren Lewis? The Giants center fielder who couldn't hit his weight, despite looking like the mulatto Lindsay Lohan? Well, Buford was once the defensive specialist in a platoon with Lewis. The only thing he did for the Cubs was fill the gap between Oh Henry! and Sosa, which admittedly is no easy task. He also isn't even the crappiest Damon on this team, thanks to...

#5 - 1B, Damon Berryhill (883 AB, .239/.281/.352, 18 HR)

Damon deserved better, he really did. I once had his Starting Lineup figure, made after his "breakthrough" rookie season where he hit a robust .257. (You must remember, this is back when Barry Bonds was able to buy hats off the rack.) His competition was the good-field, no-hit, but apparently uber-cool Joe Girardi, and the no-field, some-hit, all-eat Hector Villanueva (picture may be stand-in outsized Puerto Rican). So, while Berryhill may have sucked, there wasn't anyone who sucked less to take his place. Once Girardi grew hair on his special parts and was able to hit over .250, the job was his. (Berryhill never played first with the Cubs, but he did play two games there later in his career.)

#4 - SS, Alex S. Gonzalez (1178 AB, .235/.297/.411, 41 HR)

FUCK YOU YOU COST US THE PLAYOFFS YOU ERROR-MAKING BASTARD I HOPE YOU ROT IN HELL. ESPN has not featured Gonzalez in their "You Can't Blame..." series, because they would have 29:43 to fill after Stephen A. Smith screaming "YES YOU CAN! YOU ABSOLUTELY CAN!". He does have the highest slugging percentage of this group, which is kind of like being the oldest girl Pandrew's dated.

#3 - 2B, Jeff Blauser (561 AB, .226/.343/.342, 13 HR)

Equally terrible. Boy, he hit .226, which is pretty bad...I wonder who could be worse than him? They couldn't be MUCH worse, could they? I mean, there's still a position player left on this list. Maybe two or three points worse, five at most...certainly nothing like twenty-seven. Wait, what?

#2 - C, Todd Hundley (512 AB, .199/.285/.398, 28 HR)

What the fuck? Todd Hundley hit UNDER .200 as a Cub??? I run a website called Todd Hundley Sucks, and even I didn't realize that! For effect: Had Carlos Zambrano qualified for this list, he would be ahead of Hundley, as would Mark Prior. He struck out in 169 of his 512 at-bats - that's 33%, for those of you scoring at home. That's the worst on this list, including our next entry, who really has no right being higher than anyone in hitting. Despite all this, he had enough nerve to give the bird to the Cub fans, who are undoubtedly the most loyal fans in baseball. AND, he went to Fremd, which signifies douchebaggery at its finest. Todd, when you act like this, you make yourself look bad...but more importantly, you make us look bad.

#1 - P, Greg Maddux (678 AB, .174/.186/.204, 3 HR)

I think we can all find it in our hearts to forgive his poor hitting performance. Something about being one of the greatest pitchers ever has that effect on a guy's legend. Fun fact: with six steals, Maddux ranks FOURTH out of these nine players, behind only Dascenzo, Walker, and Orie. That compares nicely with a certain douchebag catcher who didn't even ATTEMPT a steal, mainly because his legs were as crippled as Kerry Wood's right arm.

Coming soon - the worst pitchers!

On a Serious Note.

Read here.

CHICAGO -- Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee could be out for the rest of the season because of his 3-year-old daughter's illness.

Lee had missed the last two games before he said Sunday he was taking a leave of absence to be with his wife and child.

"My daughter's lost some vision in one eye and we'll find out more at a later time; we have to go through some more tests," Lee said in a statement. "Right now we just ask for everyone's prayers. We need a miracle, we need your prayers. We need everyone to believe she's going to be OK."

The only thing worse than a player's freak injury is an injury to his family. Good luck, Derrek.

Is anyone else tired of these headlines?

Since I'm not a writer for MLB.com, I'm not sure what the requirement is for writing the headlines on any team's website, but I'm pretty sure they must involve a cheesy play on words. Case in point: the headline recapping the Cubs' victory yesterday over Cincy with Rich Hill having thrown a two-hit shutout reads, "King of the Hill: Rich throws dandy two-hitter."

Don't get me wrong, Hill had a good game (probably the best one of his career since it was also his first CG and shutout, but "King of the Hill?" I know that "hill" is a synonym for "mound," and "king of the hill" is synonymous for victory, which makes Rich Hill the ultimate convenience in the world of bad sports journalism, but what if his name weren't so convenient? I pondered this for awhile and came up with some possible alternate headlines for yesterday's game if Rich Hill had a different last name.

Rich Field: "King of the Field: Rich pitches gem, negates fielding necessity"

Rich Walker: "King of the Walk: Rich walks 1, but low numbers are good"

Rich Hitter: "King of the Hit: Rich goes 0 for 4, but at least he can throw"

Rich Groundskeeper: "King of the Grounds: Rich dominates on the mound, then waters it"

Rich Hotdogvendor: "King of the Hot Dogs: Rich pitches goose egg, then orders wiener"

Rich Drunkfaninleftfieldbleachers: "Cubs Pitcher Does Good Job"

Former Cubs Watch! - The Cure for JDRF Walkathon Edition

bananawithmilk: With my luck, I'll be visited by Andy Pratt, who will try to kill me.
bananawithmilk: And miss.

--------

March 26, 2004:

PHOENIX -- The Chicago Cubs traded pitchers Juan Cruz and Steve Smyth to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday for minor league left-hander Andy Pratt and infielder Richard Lewis.

I have always, always liked Juan Cruz, because he throws in the mid 90s despite weighing 35 lbs less than I do (30 in shape, 40 when I'm drinking), and because his almost-magical 2001 rookie season bought him quite a bit of time, in my opinion, to turn things around. He had a K/9 over 9, and although his walk totals were high, the Cubs chose to trade him at the worst point of his career, sending him to Atlanta the spring after he posted a 6.09 ERA with an 81/59 K/BB rate. Sure, he had no stamina, and his control was lacking, and getting rid of Smyth was a great move, but this is what the Cubs received for him:

Andy Pratt, 2004: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 7 BB.

That's right. In Andy's mercifully short stint with the Cubs ("Hendry said there's a good chance Pratt will start the season in the majors.") he walked two batters more than he retired. And what's worse, in 2002 HE DID BASICALLY THE SAME THING WITH THE BRAVES.

Andy Pratt, 2002: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB.
Andy Pratt, career: 3 IP, 11 BB.

Since 1990, only the following pitchers walked as many men as they retired:

Dave Martinez, 1990, 1995, 1.1 IP, 4 BB.
Greg Litton, 1991. 1 IP, 3 BB.
Jose Canseco, 1993. 1 IP, 3 BB.
Dennis Konuszewski, 1995. .1 IP, 1 BB.
Manny Alexander, 1996. .2 IP, 4 BB.
Rafael Quirico, 1996. 1.2 IP, 5 BB.
Ricky Pickett, 1998. .2 IP, 4 BB.
Derek Bell, 2000. 1 IP, 3 BB.
John Mabry, 2000-2001. 1 IP, 4 BB.
Kris Keller, 2002. 1 IP, 3 BB.
Jeff Fulchino, 2006 (pending). .1 IP, 1 BB.

The following did not make it but deserve honorable mention:

Jared Fernandez, 2004. He pitched one inning, walked five and gave up six hits for a WHIP of 11.00.

Mike Bynum, 2004. Bynumetrics.

The best thing about this list is that five never made it back to the majors and that six were position players. And all of these players managed to pitch better than Andy Pratt.

Pratt somehow managed to go three innings before somebody realized that the only true outcomes to any at-bats against him were "walk" and "not walk" (ratio of 11 walks to 22 batters faced).

"I started with a cutter," he said. "I went down to Puerto Rico and worked with Guy Hansen, who is the (Braves') Triple-A pitching coach in Richmond. I just started messing around with it because you can't do anything wrong down there. It's not a real season. I just started messing around with it and seeing what different hitters did with it. That was the big thing."

Games against Montreal in Puerto Rico, then, would better explain Pratt's colossal failiure of a career, rather than relief appearances against the Mets (2002) and Reds (2004).

What bothers me the most about Pratt is that if you look at his minor league stats, he was actually a good pitcher. In 1999, he walked only 16 in 71.2 innings of A ball and struck out 100. Apparently, the closer he got to the bigs, the more he looked like Rick Ankiel.

So where did he go?

He spent 2004 falling back down to the rookie leagues, and on September 3 he was traded to the Brewers for Ben Grieve, another bum who did not help the Cubs win the World Series.


(On a personal note, despite actually watching the game in which Pratt pitched, I missed his Cubs debut (and send off!) while sitting on the toilet. But I assume that they are more or less the same thing.)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

How fitting!

Though witnessing any more Cub games for the remainder of the 2006 season is an exercise in self-mutilation, I had Friday's game on the radio while I was at work and during a commercial break, I heard their new angle for pushing that near-undrinkable swill better known as "Old Style Beer." One could argue that removing the word "Style" from their label would save them money on printing costs while not losing any ground in marketing for this sorry excuse for a beverage, but I digress.

Anyway, the new series of radio commercials for Old Style has a stand-up comedian telling a few quick jokes to a small audience about the absurd obsession with the Cubs some fans possess (e.g. (not verbatim) "Cub fans will do anything to catch a 1:20 game. They'll even leave the office early during a presentation.... that they're giving!" [laughter]). Then comes the voice over pitching the same line in every commercial: It takes two things to be a true Chicago Cubs fan. A sense of humor and an Old Style.

For once I completely agreed with a commercial making such a lofty claim. A true Chicago Cubs fan does indeed require a sense of humor in order to laugh at the joke of a team that's currently polluting the otherwise beautiful Wrigley Field, and if you're going to consider yourself a fan to such a lousy team, you may as well be drinking a beer that's equally lousy. Drinking a Sam Adams or a Beck's while watching the Cubs is just as unfitting as wearing a tuxedo to a game.

Congratulations to Old Style for marketing a product perfectly!

Taking a Dump.

That's about the only way to describe what he's done this year, particularly in his last ten appearances (8/22-9/12). Let's have a look.

10 IP, 17 H, 6 BB, 2.30 WHIP, 12 R, 10 ER, 8 K

Let us put this into perspective. Here are Jon Papelbon's numbers on the year next to Dumpster's on the ten-game stretch.

Dumpster: 10 IP, 17 H, 6 BB, 12 R, 10 ER
Papelbon : 68.1 IP, 40 H, 13 BB, 8 R, 7 ER.

Here's Dempster on the year:

Dumpster: 68.2 IP, 42 R, 35 ER, 35 BB
Papelbon: 68.1 IP, 8 R, 7 ER, 13 BB
Liriano: 121 IP, 31 R, 29 ER, 32 BB
Weaver: 108.2 IP, 27 R, 26 ER, 30 BB

Papelbon would need to pitch 341.2 innings to give up as many earned runs as Dempster. As for the comparison between Dumpy and the starters, I don't even know where to begin. Combine either starter with Pap and Dumpy's still given up more runs.

He's given up more runs than a guy who looks like this (image courtesy of Can't Stop The Bleeding). In forty fewer innings.

On the positive, there is no way Dempster could keep his job after this, right?

"Manager Dusty Baker still claims to regard Dempster as his closer, the Chicago Sun-Times reports."


Friday, September 15, 2006

A Rusch Of Blood To The Lung

So Glendon Rusch has a blood clot in his lung. There are only two ways I hope this ends, one outcome acceptable, one outcome more favorable.

1) Headline: "Rusch fully recovered from blood clot surgery" (acceptable)

2) Headline: "Rusch fully recovered from blood clot surgery, but will never pitch again."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The sports world never seems to run out of material.

Backup punter accused of stabbing starter in leg

THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is some hardcore shit. Let's break it down.

1) While this is not the first time a special teamer has been stabbed by a teammate in Colorado collegiate athletics, it is the first known time that the assailant used a knife.

2) The backup punter taped over his car's license plates, attacked the starter, and then went to a liquor store, where he removed the tape. Nothing strange about that. In addition to this guy being a backup Division I-AA punter, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that he wasn't an Academic All-American.

3) The third-string punter, who now has the job (due to the stabber being expelled from school and the stabbee being, well, stabbed), the one person who benefits, is from...Littleton, Colorado. Yes, home of Columbine High School. I smell a conspiracy!

4) Can somebody please get Ryan Theriot a knife?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Michael Barrett would beg to differ.

Dusty, on the Cubs' six errors in Tuesday's 9-8 win:

"You guys ever make typos? You've got spell check. There ain't no ball check out there."

-Pandrew

Newsworthy

Player News from ROTOWIRE
Sep. 12


News: Dempster pitched a scoreless seventh inning Monday, allowing one hit and striking out one, the Cubs' Web Site reports.

Why is this news, you ask? Well, before that scoreless seventh, Dempster had allowed earned runs in SEVEN straight appearances. That led me to a question: Who was the last Cub to allow earned runs in SEVEN straight appearances? With the help of Retrosheet.org and rampant insomnia, I found the answer. Donnie Moore, May 30-June 30, 1979. However, there is a caveat: During that streak, Moore had inning totals of 1, 5 1/3, 1, 4 2/3, 2, 2 1/3, 2/3...a combined 17 innings pitched. Dumpster, meanwhile, threw only seven innings during his streak.

I'll be honest with you - I cheered for the Dodgers to tie it in the 9th today. Dempster is a destructive force of shit, and must be stopped at all costs. (The same goes for Dusty.) The more saves he blows, the quicker the front office will (hopefully) realize that he's not worth the dirt he throws from.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Apparently it is 1988.

Seriously, look at this headline:

"Royals' Gordon Named Top Minor Leaguer"

Prior and Wood both received votes for their incredible rehab starts.

I am very jealous that Billy Beane has a better job than I do.

The Campaign for A-Train to Topple Hendry (or At Least Oneri) (CATTHALO for short) continues.

"Since we're talking about Brown anyway," says Paul, which wasn't exactly true, since the scouts were now distinctly not talking about Brown, "there's a list of hitters I want to talk about. All of these guys share certain qualities. They are the eight guys we definitely want. And we want all eight of these guys." He reads a list:

Jeremy Brown
Stephen Stanley
John Baker

Mark Kiger
Shaun Larkin
John McCurdy
Brant Colamarino
Brian Stavisky

--Moneyball. Naturally.

Of this group, the A's drafted seven. (Larkin went to the Indians.) 68 players from the 2002 draft have reached the major leagues. None of those 68 are on this list. All were born between 1979 and January of 1981, making them (at the very least) 26 at the beginning of next season.

Let's analyze this fun little group, along with another, related group.

Jeremy Brown: The "bad body" catcher that barely made the list of Baseball America's top prospects may have outperformed BA's projection, but has fallen short of Billy's. He spent THREE YEARS in the Texas League (AA), and his ballyhooed plate discipline has fallen off, as his (OBP-BA) has declined every year. Even a move to the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League didn't help this year, as he's hitting .255 with only ten homers. Cub Comparison: Hector Villanueva.

MYSTERY PLAYER A: Posted a 6.22 ERA in AA this year, inexplicably promoted to AAA, where he was somehow even worse.

Steve Stanley: "Scrappy" Notre Dame CF apparently had an extra S welded to the front of his descriptor, as he had worlds of trouble at AAA in '04, couldn't get out of AA in '05, and either got injured or retired after 4 hits in 30 ABs this year in AA. Cub comparison: Doug Dascenzo.

MYSTERY PLAYER B: 80 1/3 innings since minor league debut in 2002. Amazingly, last name neither "Prior" nor "Wood".

John Baker: One of the better of the Beane Bunch, Baker seems pretty solid - provided power isn't a concern. Also, hitting better than .270 in the minors shouldn't be one, either, because he's not really so good at that. He's a catcher, though, and the A's have a thing for catchers who are kind of useless and annoying. (Full disclosure: I think John Lackey is the shit.) Cub comparison: Rick Wrona.

MYSTERY PLAYER C: Unseen since 2004, save for the pages of THS.

Mark Kiger: Adequate in '04-05 at AA, somewhat less so in the (still) hitter-friendly PCL in '06. (Felix freakin' Pie hit 15 homers at Iowa, which poses two questions: one, who pitches in this league? Two, how are Iowa, Omaha, and New Orleans in the Pacific Coast League? Is it THAT much of a catchy name?) His OBP is solid, but that's it. Cub comparison: A somehow even crappier Ronny Cedeno.

MYSTERY PLAYER D: Out of baseball.

Shaun Larkin: Beane missed out on him, but he didn't miss too much. Let's put it this way: Hector Luna has nothing to worry about, which says a lot. Cub comparison: A paraplegic Todd Walker.

MYSTERY PLAYER E: Midwest League #1 Prospect at 20 in 2004. Downhill ever since.

John McCurdy: Had his first passable minor league season this year, but it came in A ball and he's 25. This guy will spend more time in minors than a Pandrew wet dream. Cub comparison: Neifi Perez, but worse.

MYSTERY PLAYER F: How interesting that MR F actually was involved in a fairly retarded move! He was traded for a cripple and a productive major league outfielder* after earning a reputation as a 19-year-old future star, and his career immediately imploded.

(*1 1/2 female baseball writers agree that said outfielder is not actually productive. They are wrong.)

Brant Colamarino: He's progressed better than many of Beane's other picks, but he's still in AA at 25 (although, in all fairness, he did have a pretty solid season this year.) Cub comparison: Hee Seop Choi.

MYSTERY PLAYER G: Pitching not particularly badly in A ball at age 22, but his strikeout rates have declined as the competition has gotten tougher.

Brian Stavisky: The Bible was right - the last SHALL be first! He's clearly mastered AA ball, and while he struggled a bit at AAA this year, he's hit .300 with high walk totals at every level. Cub comparison: Derrick May.

MYSTERY PLAYER H: Hit pretty damn well (and at shortstop, no less) in '04-05 at AA...so, naturally, he was dropped back to A ball this year.

Conclusion: I was really hoping to prove that Billy Beane is nothing special. So, I compared this wish list of eight hitters to the Cubs' first eight picks of that same 2002 draft. The mystery players are, in order: Bobby Brownlie, Luke Hagerty, Chadd Blasko, Matt Clanton, Brian Dopirak, Justin Jones, Billy Petrick, and Matt Craig. None of the guys in this article seem to be anything special, at least not so far - but the fact that not a one of them has reached the majors yet is kinda disappointing. (Technicality: The Cubs' NINTH pick that year was Rich Hill [who, along with Adam Greenberg, are the only picks to reach the majors], and their most intriguing in my mind is 38th-round selection, catcher-turned-pitcher Randy Wells.) Oakland, meanwhile, selected Nick Swisher, Joe Blanton, and Mark Teahen...but the one that got away was 40th-rounder Jon Papelbon, who did not sign. The final conclusion, then, would seem to be this: Billy Beane is not a genius. He's a hell of a lot better than the train wreck we've got, though. (Yes, I know this was MacPhail's draft. Hendry is even worse.)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Pandrew, on our future readers: "Hopefully, it won't be a legion of idiots."

banana with milk (Pandrew): i couldn't find a pic of wil wheaton in his underwear covered in leeches, which was disappointing.
MidnightGambler5 (A-Train): well, there's something to add to my next blog post.

The funny thing is, we weren't even talking about blogging, just people whom we find attractive.

So, while recovering from this disastrous week of football/a severe Guinness hangover, I wanted to touch on a subject that pleased me greatly. Cubs closer/resident shitbucket Ryan Dempster has been coming into games in mop-up roles lately (and by "lately", I mean "Saturday"), which means that he might not be our first choice as closer? While I don't think he's quite ready to consider a new career as a bartender, he is more than ready to lose his job to David Aardsma. (Not Roberto Novoa, though. I have a deep-seated hate for that guy ever since I saw him allow a walk-off walk.) Aardsma's young, he throws hard, he's not Ryan Dempster, and if he could learn to keep the ball down, he'd be an excellent closer prospect. (I could suggest Bobby Howry, but that might actually be, you know, logical. Hate to see Dusty violate his principles.)

INJURED CUB MINOR LEAGUE PITCHER REPORT: Whatever happened to Chadd Blasko? He was the Cubs' Minor League Pitcher Of the Year in 2003, then got hurt in 2004 and hasn't been seen since. In a move that sounded somewhat familiar, farm director Oneri Fleita held a press conference before the season stating that Blasko would be ready in '06. A couple of weeks later, he mentioned a "setback". What kind of setback, Oneri? Was he injured while playing checkers with Mark Prior? Was there a mishap involving the second D in his name? (Related: If any intrepid and lovely readers out there would like to cause an, er, "mishap" with double-Ds, you might want to stay away from a certain non-A-Train staffer who resembles one of our favorite Illini. Then again, if you have sprouted breasts, you're probably too old for him anyways.)

At least there's always Lee Gwaltney, who has already adopted his new club's ways. (I like having a guy who gets in bar fights. They remind me of Brien Taylor.)

“He’s ahead of schedule,” Fleita said. “He’s working very hard.”

Well. That's a relief! That quote was in April. He's pitched eleven innings this year, none in the paast two months. OneriFleitaSucks.com? This is depressing. At least the Bears won!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Now That Barrett's Fate Has Been Altered, He Must Punch Someone In The Face To Reclaim His Girl and His Manhood

From "Notes: Barrett Considers Himself Blessed." (article)

I'll bet he's not talking about the foul tip he took to the groin.

ATLANTA -- Michael Barrett considers himself lucky and says he hopes he can play again this season.

Barrett had to undergo surgery on his groin last Saturday, and is on the disabled list with an intrascrotal hematoma. He had some trouble recovering from the anesthetic and is trying to wean himself off the pain medication, but was enjoying a weekend at home in Atlanta. He'll probably stop for a good-luck meal at the local Cracker Barrel restaurant.

Cracker Barrel may not be part of the doctor's orders, though a doctor rarely factors variables like luck into a prognosis.

"Being home, getting some home cooking is good," Barrett said. "It's always good to see people and get that extra support."

Wait, does Michael Barrett consider Cracker Barrel "home cooking"? Or does Muskat think that all southerners are idiots?

"This isn't an injury I'd wish on anybody."

Not even A.J. Pierzynski, Michael?

"I went in to check on things, and it didn't look good," he added.

Oh shit, guys. Oh shit.

"I thought with a little more time it would get better, and it never got better. I probably shouldn't have hit in that situation. I thought it would eventually go away."

I had this crazy premonition that the Cubs would be thirty games under .500, but I kept the faith, hoping the pain would get better with a little more time, and it never got better.

I thought it would eventually go away.

That was a freebie.

How could we do this without you, Carrie? (article)

Cubs starters have gone at least five innings in 57 starts this season heading into Saturday's game. They've gone fewer than five innings in 40 of those games.

1) Cubs starters have gone at least five innings in 57 of their 142 starts
2) Hm. Either a) they have gone fewer than five innings of 40 of the 57 games in which they went at least five innings, or b) they have gone fewer than five innings in 40 of the 85 starts in which they did not go at least five innings, leaving 45 starts in which the starter did not pitch fewer than, as many as, or more than five innings.

Update: Wade Miller went three innings today, which is fewer than five. Too bad I am too confused by Muskat's statistic to understand what this means: Wade Miller was not good today. Speaking of which:

Miller's debut spoiled by Braves' bats (article)

You'd get the impression from the title of this article that Miller had a good start while the Braves' offense simultaneously had a good day. Not that that would be possible. But Miller threw a lousy game. Here is his line:

Wade Miller, 9/9 - 3 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 3 K, 2 HR

Though to be fair, his K-to-HR ratio stayed above 1, which is something.

Miller couldn't keep the Atlanta Braves in check. Adam LaRoche and Brian McCann each hit two-run homers and Andruw Jones added a solo shot to lead the Braves to a 7-3 victory and spoil Miller's debut, handing the Cubs their 17th loss in the last 20 games. It's the 25th time the Braves have hit at least three homers in a game.

Again, using the verb "spoil" as if Miller earned something that was then unjustly taken from him. Yes, Carrie, he was injured. He also took over a year to return from surgery when he was supposed to be back in May. Perhaps you should have run one of these stories instead:

"Mediocrity Spoils Feel-Good Story"
"Injury Spoils Attempt to Come Back from Injury"
"Fifteen Hit, Ten Run Shellacking Spoils Pitcher's No-Hit Bid"
"A Week on Table Spoils Loaf of Bread's Quest for Immortality; Bread Unavailable for Comment"
"Blogger's Chance with Girl Spoiled by Lack of Real Chance."
"Spoiled Brat's Desire to Have Everything Spoils with Cubs' Playoff Chances"

I assume she means that this is the twenty-fifth time this year that the Braves have hit at least three home runs in a game.

Baker had only seen Miller do side sessions this year. The manager did remember Miller from his successful run in Houston, when he posted double-digit wins from 2001-03.

"He was nasty," Baker said. "He had dynamite stuff. He had a good breaking ball, and was a little on the mean side, which is always a plus for a pitcher. I remember sitting in the dugout with [bench coach] Dick Pole watching him pitch. Dick said then if he doesn't change his mechanics, he'll end up hurting his shoulder. Hopefully, that's been corrected."

Apparently, bench coach Dick and Dusty called it. Time to update that scoreboard!

Pandrew: 1
THS Blogger: 0
Dusty-Dick: 1

But what did Miller have to say to that?

"I've heard that before," Miller said about his mechanics. "When I hurt my shoulder, I felt myself do it on one pitch [two years ago]. It wasn't my mechanics. It was just a matter of where my arm slot was on that particular pitch. People talk about me trying to follow through better as far as bending over, but that's not the way I pitch. My arm's been feeling fine the way I'm pitching."

Ooo. Sounds like someone's wrong. Headline:

"Pitcher Claims that Dick Baker Did Not Call It"

Another Baker:

"Both of the two-run homers were proceeded by a walk."

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Rodriguez Feeling A Little Bit Under the Brady Anderson


Third baseman Alex Rodriguez didn't start Saturday because he felt ill. Torre thought Rodriguez might be available to pinch hit, but he didn't play.


"It's weird. The last time we were here, it was the same exact thing," Torre said. "I don't know if he's eating at the same place or what. Whatever the heck it is, it certainly hasn't worked very well."

Do you want to know what Alex has been eating, and where he's been eating it? I do not.

Isringhausen Falls Victim to Blogger's Prognosis Despite Blogger Not Having Seen Him Throw All Year.

from a comment left on entry, "Your Mild Cold Has Been Updated To Forever", 9/7

"Isringhausen is probably injured. His career GB/FB ratio is 1.44, but this year's is 1.18, the lowest it's been since 1999. Either he's changed his mechanics and begun leaving balls out over the plate (ten homers allowed is a career high as a reliever), or he's injured and leaving balls out over the plate."

Whoever said that was a genius. How wonderful it is to analyze such precise and relevant...analysis.

From ESPN, 9/8:

"According to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jason Isringhausen will not pitch this weekend and could be done for the year due to pain and inflammation in his arthritic left hip. "

A certain THS staffer may claim to have a jaw up on things, but he is in fact sticking his neck out a bit beyond its reach.

The "I Called It" scoreboard:

Pandrew 1.
A-Tr...THS Staffer 0.

Maybe Dusty has a Flux Capacitor-shaped Scar beneath that hat.

First off, something rather pleasant, taken from the ESPN Cubs' "Player Card":

3B Aramis Ramirez came into the game with a .971 fielding percentage, the highest among NL third basemen and fourth in the majors.

He doesn't look it, but I'll be damned. Maybe he's just letting more balls through for hits, or maybe more balls are reaching the outfield. Actually, last year the Cubs had a groundball/flyball ratio of 1.31, which was fifth in the majors. This year's is 1.07 (24th), which means that the hard-hit balls are in the outfield, extra base hit percentage is up (5%), and Aramis is getting fewer difficult chances.

A headline, as well: Cubs drop finale despite Moore's mojo.

I suppose it would have been funnier if Muskat had made the mistake of attributing Freddie Bynum's successes to black magic, but then again Bynum has not had any non-musical successes.

Every time I see the name Xavier Nady, I think someone might have broken a bone during the game and was taken to Northwest Memorial.

A quote from Scott Eyre, who gave up the go-ahead run in the ninth after a solid eighth:

"I have to figure out a way to go out with the same intensity that I had when I first came into the game," Eyre said. "I sit down in the dugout and I sat there and I was looking around."

Apparently Scott Eyre needs to wear blinders during the games to keep from being distracted. Possible distractions:

1. Drunken Ryan Dempster.
2. Catcher Henry Blanco had fallen asleep.
3. A really good movie was playing on the clubhouse TV.
4. The image of Michael Barrett rehabilitating from his current injury.
5. This plate of spaghetti and meatballs.
6. He was on AIM with the rest of the MLB.
7. A certain THS staffer threatened to "break his fucking jaw" over a girl who had herpes.
8. Fear that, being the president and only member of the Scott Eyre fan club, his wife might get jealous and try to kill him.


In Baker's first season in 2003, the Cubs won the NL Central Division. This is the last year of his contract, and the team is in last place. Maybe he could flip the years? "It's too late now," Baker said. "You can't flip 'em. You can't time it. If I could do that, I'd have a time machine.

You can't time it? What does that mean? And when he says, "It's too late now," does this imply that there was a point at which this sort of sci-fi Muskat time-flip was possible? "If I could do that, I'd have a time machine." What are you talking about? I wonder if Carrie gets angry enough to torch a school dance when Dusty avoids her questions like this. Maybe the only reason Dusty still has a job is that he does have a time machine, and he uses it how I use the save state option on Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball: after every pitch.

Just kidding, I'm actually good at that game. But if I could go back and move the beginning of this post to the end of this post, I'd have a time machine.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Trixies, take cover!

Boyfriend Kills Founder Of Grady's Ladies

Police said the national attention of the fan club could be the reason Mielecki's boyfriend shot and killed her Saturday before taking his own life.

"You know we were just doing interviews and at the game and everything, had our pictures taken and now it's just kind of come to a stop, what do you do now?" said Amanda Bonnell. "It's hard."

Other fan club members said Mielecki's boyfriend was the jealous type and they are rethinking continuing the club.


Whoa. THIS IS SOME SERIOUS SHIT. Seriously, those pink-hatted Trixies you see at every game? We now have a legitimate precedent for subtly threatening them! However, just in case there are any other enterprising young ladies reading this who'd like to fill this void, here are some pointers.

1) Pick a good player, and a catchy name - preferably something rhyming.

Bad: Walrond's Walruses. (However, should he ever find himself on the White Sox, this might not only be apropos, but relatively clever given the organization.)
Acceptable: Ronny's Honeys
Best: Aram's Harem. (When all else fails, infer that you are sluts. Trust me on this one.)

2) Avoid a jealous boyfriend.

Bad: Ike Turner, or the late Andy Brown.
Acceptable: A certain THS staffer who once told Pandrew "Touch her, and I'll break your fucking jaw."
Best: OUT Magazine editor Brendan Lemon. Ask Brady Anderson "a pro baseball player from a major-league East Coast franchise, not his team’s biggest star but a very recognizable media figure all the same".

3) If all else fails, make sure your friends will say nice things after you die.

I'm not surprised that the girl in this story had nice things said about her by her friends. I mean, she got shot by her boyfriend who felt threatened by her FAN CLUB. What surprised me was what their friends said about the guy. From this story:

Hans Schlegel described Andy, a long-time friend, as “sharp” and “a true friend who sincerely cared about people.”

“When I think about him (Andy), the first thing that comes to mind is how warm and welcoming and how energetic he was,” Schlegel said.

During the summer, Brown worked for Haehn’s Florist.

“He was a great young man, and he was a good friend while he worked for me,” said Mick Haehn, owner of Haehn’s Florist.. “He had great common sense, he knew what he wanted, and where he wanted to go.”

Schlegel and Haehn said they were in disbelief when they heard of what had transpired.

“This is not Andy,” Schlegel said. “He was never really angry or anything like that. He’s just fun to be around, and easy-going.”

Fun to be around, and easy going...UNTIL HE KILLS YOU.

Well, there you have it...your guide to forming a successful fan club! As Keanu Reeves was advised in the cinematic classic Speed: "Don't get dead."

Cubs Review - Rookie Pitchers

David Aardsma

From powerhouse Rice
To power outage north side
Culture shock much, Dave?

Angel Guzman

He throws seventy
innings per year - as starter?
Fucking made of glass.

Rich Hill

Lots of vicious curves.
Lots of swinging strikeouts, too.
Lots of hangers bombed.

Carlos Marmol

Seven walks per nine
Unacceptable! Really,
SEVEN WALKS PER NINE?

Sean Marshall

Actually not too
bad - hard to be derisive.
Also hurt, no shocker.

Juan Mateo

Inexplicably,
I hate you more than the rest.
Please get traded soon.

Ryan O'Malley

Your curve doesn't break
and I throw harder than you.
Hendry's really drunk.

Jae Kuk Ryu

Hurricane Kicks and
Dragon Punches won't save you
from Henry Blanka.

Les Walrond

I am the eggman
They are the eggmen (wah-wah)
Please cut Les Walrond

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Dumpster Diving

I think the title speaks for itself.

Rob Neyer: Dick? Or Total Dick?

Mike (St. Louis): Travis Hafner is the best hitter in baseball every season???? I think Albert Pujols might disagree with you.

Rob Neyer: If Pujols played in a real league he'd be lucky to bat .260 with 20 home runs.

--ESPN chat log, 8/25

I heard about this while I was on vacation in St. Louis. The message board which my Cardinal fan friend got this tidbit from also reported that John Mabry had been traded to the Phillies, so my natural first reaction was to think that there was a message board out there which was committed to preserving the fantasy world in my head. (Sadly, untrue.)

B-Diddy (Chicago): .260 and 20 HRs for Pujols in the AL!! So you're saying a guy like Torii Hunter is a better hitter? Care to recant?

Rob Neyer: That's exactly what I'm saying. And if Neifie Perez played in the National League he'd bat .320 and draw 75 walks.

SAME CHAT LOG. Let's look at some facts.

1) Clearly, the AL is FAR tougher to play in than the NL. And Neifi could, in fact, walk 75 times in a season in the NL. (He would only need 1,940 plate appearances in the season to do so.)

2) Neifi's been bad everywhere he's played. It's not like he's never been in the NL before. This comment is basically inexplicable.

3) Was Rob Neyer drunk when he wrote this? Or hanging out with Darren Daulton?

Brett (Denver): What's your favorite planet? Mine's the sun.

Rob Neyer: Mine's the other Earth that we can't see because it's on the other side of the sun.

I have no idea why Rob Neyer's favorite planet is the subject of an ESPN chat log question. But, it sure does clear up a whole hell of a lot.

Your mild cold has been upgraded to forever.

From article, Notes: Dempster in Cubs' future plans (link)

Here it comes.

CHICAGO -- Ryan Dempster is the Cubs closer for the rest of this season and most likely next year, manager Dusty Baker said Wednesday.

How can you know what your players are going to do next year when you probably won't be the manager next year? It's not like you're the president and can do some quick midnight appointments before leaving office.

Dempster has some ugly numbers in his last five games: he's given up nine runs (eight earned) on 13 hits and six walks over five innings, and is 0-3 with one blown save. Baker backed the right-hander.

"That's Demp's job," Baker said.

Dempster, apparently, is being paid to have a 16.20 ERA and lose close games. That's his job.

Baker didn't talk to Dempster after Tuesday's game, in which he threw a wild pitch to allow the winning run to score for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the ninth inning. The two had talked a couple of days ago.

Why not? That seemed like a good time to have a discussion. Or to bench him for a few days. When we traded Farnsworth to Detroit, didn't we hear the hype about Novoa being the next young closer? Or when Hawkins went to San Francisco, the same for Aardsma? Give one of them a chance.

I worked in a comic book store when I was twelve. I was paid under the table with baseball cards and comic books. My job was to put things in order, and if I made a mistake, my boss told me right away, so that I could fix it immediately, because people finding the comic or card they were looking for was contingent upon me doing my job properly. She never let me continue making a mistake for two days without talking to me. What if everyone did this?

NSA Director Lt. Gen Keith B. Alexander: Yeah, we've had a few guys down in records who can't seem to put paperwork in its right place. Some of it is just floating around, free for anyone to see. I'm even advertising it right now by talking about it, though you probably already knew something was wrong based on the terrorist attack that took place yesterday. Well, any questions?

Reporter: What have you done to prevent this from happening again?

NSA Director: Well, I have faith that the problem is something that will fix itself. A guy can't just keep making the same mistake forever, even if nobody corrects it, right?

Reporter: Somehow I doubt that's true. But have you spoken with the person who misfiled the information that led to the terrorist attack yesterday?

NSA Director: I spoke with him two days ago.

Reporter: You mean, you haven't spoken to him about the problem of potentially dangerous misfilings that allow terrorists access to extremely sensitive information since his incompetence led directly to a terrorist attack on U.S. soil?

NSA Director: Oh, no. We spoke about that two days ago. But I figure, you know, that you can only give a guy the same speech a few times, and then the rest is up to him.


"What do you say to somebody every day?" Baker said.

Reporter: Stop screwing up!

Pandrew: Stop screwing up!

Cubs Fans: Stop screwing up!

Shaquille O'Neal: Don't be rapin'!

The Brain: The same thing I say every day, Pinky.

Robert Novak: Valerie Plame.

You are a manager. You manage things. It is your job.

As far as Baker is concerned, Dempster will be the Cubs closer in 2007.

"I don't see why not," Baker said. "You've got to figure out a way to get him back in sync and to the quality that he spoiled us with."

Old woman:
These dusty storms have dried up all the land in the midwest, Johnny. Our well is completely dry. We need to leave. There has to be someplace else where we could find water.

Johnny:
Well, if the well doesn't want to give us water, we just need to wait around until it starts again. We need it to get back up the level at which it had spoiled us.

Old Woman:
But wells can go dry, and usually when wells go try they trade them to San Diego, and San Diego accepts, even if the wells are ridiculously overweight.

Johnny:
What?

Old Woman:
I heard, a while back, that there might be a job opening in Los Angeles at the end of the season.

Johnny:
What sort of job?

Old Woman:
I don't know. Picking oranges, or dodging them.

Johnny: Do you think we'd be able to manage?

Old Woman: You would, but I don't know if Keith Hernandez would stand for me being near the game.

Johnny: You mean my job?

Old Woman: Yes. Sorry. I don't know why I said game.

Darren: Hey mom hey dad.

Old Woman: Oh god Darren it's so cold out there! Don't let the snow fall on you

J.T. Snow: -runs-

Darren: Dad I think you should give up on the dumpster.

Johnny: Dumpster?

Darren: I meant well. Did I say dumpster? We need to use something else, like an aardsma, or a novoa.

Johnny: What are you talking about?

Darren: Dad I think you're gonna lose your job.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Former Cubs Watch! - Oh no! edition

Sept 23, 1998. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Cubs leading 7-5, and the bases loaded, an error by defensive replacement/left fielder Brant Brown allows three runs to score, giving the Brewers an 8-7 victory. The Cubs had the opportunity to clinch the Wild Card with a win but would have to wait until Sept. 26th to do so.

What became of Brant Brown? On December 14, 1998 he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jon Lieber. I suppose he stopped existing until June 9, 2000, when he was traded from the Texas Rangers back to the Cubs for Dave Martinez.

He hit .157 in his last season with the Cubs, which, understandably, was his last season in the Majors (unless he played in the AL during June of 2003, which was temporarily downgraded to a "moderately sized league" to allow the call-up of former career minor leaguer and current Cubs pitcher Les Walrond).

He was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers to a minor league contract on January 11, 2001. It made no headlines. While the Brewers had luck with former Cubs prospect Brooks Kieschnick, Brant Ohno never made it back to the Majors.

He resurfaced near Chicago for the 2003 season, when at 32 he gave up, signing a contract with the Schaumburg Flyers, the hometown of whom was the only Illinois city for which the White Sox did not win the 2005 World Series. Although fielding statistics for his stint with the Flyers are unavailable, the Flyers lost in the playoffs, which may very well have been the result of a dropped fly ball.

Brown earned roughly $1,049,000 by the end of his MLB career, a dollar amount which will be easily surpassed by the money he will earn touring card shows and AM radio stations across the country and in Japan, based on star recognition alone.

His career was survived by Amaury Telemaco, Kevin Foster, Kevin Orie, Robin Jennings, Jose Molina (who was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 14th round of the 1993 amateur draft), and Ron Santo, whose heartbreak will forever surpass the peaks of Brown's brief stay beneath the Wrigley lights, whose face keeps dropping like a routine fly ball. Geoff Jenkins celebrates with this teammates.

An extra notch in the "Argument Belt"

As of now, September 6th, 2006, with less than 25 games remaining on the schedule, the Cubs now have the worst record in the NL central, the worst record in the entire NL, and the third-worst record in all of baseball (barely ahead of Tampa and Kansas City).

Their pitchers are 27th in team ERA (4.79) and 1st in the league in walks (576). Sure, they're also leading in K's, but when you're almost 30 games below .500, it's like being proud of finding a roll of quarters right after you file for bankruptcy.

As for hitting, they are 29th in OBP, 29th in walks, and dead last in runs scored.

Even if they were to go 23-0 in their remaining games, they would still finish off the season 2 games under .500.

With all of that having been said, if I see Dusty Baker don a Cubs uniform in 2007, I'm committing seppuku.

Michael Barrett's Unborn Children Death Watch, Day 3

To show solidarity with our fallen hero, I would like to present this very special Sausage-Free Saturday. (In order to preserve continuity, we've reverted to the Julian calendar. Don't worry about it. Besides, it's only fair - dates in the Julian calendar are referred to as Old Style.)

Tonight, while watching the Nationals/Misappropriated State Birds on a slow night at work, I came across Washington's alternative to the (processed and spiced pork offal) Race. After checking to make sure I hadn't gotten a contact high from the local crackhead (who was reading race results into a tape recorder), I realized that this was somewhere between capitalism at its finest and a cross between Mt. Rushmore and an Arrested Development-style "Living Classics" pageant. Neither George Bush nor Bluth, sadly, was represented.

In other news, the Cubs played tonight. They were horrible. Let's bullet-list this bitch.

- Giving up five runs in the first three innings? Unacceptability level: 4/10. Face it, Jason Bay is really, really good. Besides, it's the Cubs. We expect these things.

- Juan Mateo's continued existence? Unacceptability level: 5.5/10. I had the privilege honor misfortune of personally attending his start in St. Louis a couple of weeks back, and I must say, anyone who calls him a prospect around me is getting facepunched. His stuff is pedestrian at best (although his 7/0 K/BB ratio tonight is a good sign), he's uber-hittable, and I keep getting him confused with Julio (the slightly more effective) Mateo.

- Ryan Dempster in close games? Unacceptability level: 9/10. The Dumpster salvages a non-10 rating only by virtue of not being named "LaTroy Hawkins". I realize that sending him to AAA doesn't make any sense with the expanded rosters, but can't we just cut him? Or, at the very least, stick him in a mop-up role?

I go cry now.

When The Referee Begins Counting To Ten.

Only the percentages can get worse, folks:

When the Cubs wake up Wednesday, they'll be at the bottom of the standings. (article)

CHICAGO -- There have been a lot of low points this season for the Cubs, but on Tuesday they reached another one, falling into last place in the National League Central.

No argument there.

"I'm sure there are people who don't want to see me out there when the game's on the line," [Dempster] said.

Couldn't agree with you more, Ryan.

(regarding Aramis Ramirez' ejection) "He wasn't throwing [the helmet] in his direction; he was just throwing it down," Baker said of Ramirez. "He was more upset at himself. I don't understand that ejection, really. The ball's not bouncing our way. That was big."

He was ejected because he threw his helmet, which is rather easily understood. This is not a "ball's not bouncing our way" thing. Juan Mateo being struck on the arm by a line drive is a ball not bouncing (or line-driving) your way.

This is actually one of the more honest articles written by Muskat all year. No hero-worship, no dramatization, no apologies. It was actually quite nice.

Except for the content.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Remember when everybody called them the Lovable Losers?

With a win Tuesday, the Pirates would pass the Cubs, who would drop into last place in the Central.

Even more futile than Carrie Muskat's "most historically futile" team in baseball.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Walking Dead, or Those Who Clog Up the Bases

Found this one in the archive:

Bob Howry allowed a game-winning grand slam to St. Louis' Gary Bennett, who stung the Cubs with a walk-off in their previous game. Jacque Jones homered and drove in two, but Les Walrond allowed five earned runs in 2 2/3 innings in his big-league debut.

Apparently, the AL was not a "big-league" in July of 2003.

Also, injury report!

8/30 - Juan Mateo leaves with forearm injury, despite Michael Barrett's preparation.
9/2 - Michael Barrett leaves with groin injury.
9/3 - Angel Guzman leaves with cramps in right arm, Jacque Jones sits out with infected tear duct.
9/4 - Carlos Zambrano leaves with strained lower back.

Let's not try to do too much, guys.

News and Notes

- It is only a matter of time until the Devil Rays are protested, for naming themselves after a ferocious murdering animal.

- Congratulations to Scott Moore, winner of the Adam Greenberg Award for getting hit in his first major league appearance and possibly never being heard from again. (Intoxicated Ryan Dempster, by the way, claims that Adam Greenberg entered the Witness Protection Program as "Josh Willingham".) Over the last two seasons, Moore has one more strikeout than he does hits. Somehow, I don't feel that Aramis is quaking.

- ESPN's Keith Law recently wrote an article on the top 10 intriguing September call-ups. That team who plays on the other side of town got two mentions (although in all fairness, they were for a knuckleballer and a centerfielder - to join SABR, I think you have to declare jihad on Scott Podsednik), whereas the Cubs lived up to our own proprietary ZULETA (Zambrano's Underachieving, Less Entertaining Teammate Analysis) projections with a robust zero.

- Shameless self-promotion: Congratulations to my very own Montreal Sex Pros on capturing their fantasy baseball regular-season title. Hendry's job, I'm comin' for ya.

- Also on the Cub 40-man roster is former slugging prospect Brian Dopirak. I would just like to point out that he is former slugging prospect Brian Dopirak because of his how run totals over the past three years: 39 at Lansing in '04, 16 at Daytona in '05, and ONE in 179 ABs at West Tenn this year. Not to say that any funny business was involved, but I think he might be better off with Ryan Theriot's nutritionist.

- I understand the concept of not wanting the pitcher to bat, I do. But bringing in Novoa to throw TWO pitches in the second today was Dusty's weirdest move since, oh...using Zambrano as the first man off the bench last week? Not that there's any tangible difference between one lousy reliever and the rest...this house is cursed by the ghost of Melquiades Rojas. What, we couldn't burn mercury in the dugout for three days after cutting him?

- Scott Boras client and Cubs first-rounder Mark Pawelek has thrown only 56 innings in twelve starts this year, despite pitching fairly well for the Boise Hawks. (Not as well, however, as official Great White Hope J. Papelbon III.) 4 2/3 IP per start? Apparently the Boise manager is even man-bitchier than Dusty Baker's most vocal critics. By 2014, he might be able to pitch 120 innings without getting hurt.

- And finally, Baseball Prospectus is apparently written by Dusty's cronies:

bctowns (Chicago, IL): So you think Matt Murton can be the answer in left? No more power than he and Jones in the corner outfield spots? Again, thanks for chatting.
Christina Kahrl: I don't think he has the up-side as a hitter to be an offensive asset on a team that needs as much as the Cubs do. If they landed a top center fielder to upgrade on Pierre, and they got a real offensive force at second, sure, they could live with Murton. But that's a lot of predicates, and they might instead decide to leave him alone, and go into 2007 with appropriately low expectations.



I give up. What the hell has Matt Murton ever done wrong, besides hitting for less power than Sammy Sosa? In 553 career PA, he's hitting 299/363/452...that's good! His lefty/righty splits are solid, as are all of his other situationals. (If you factor out his awful June, he's arguably been our BEST outfielder this year. Clearly, his complexion makes him unable to hit during those hot summer months - 925 OPS in August be damned.) It's absolutely criminal that this guy doesn't have a job locked down.

- Welcome back to the majors, former Cub Randall Simon! I can't wait to hear your thoughts on chorizo.

- Finally, I would like to wish a swift recovery to Carlos Zambrano, as I've had lower back stiffness for ten years, and would love to see it just go away. (I would also like to wish a quick recovery to Michael Barrett, and offer my best wishes as he works towards regaining lower front stiffness.)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Not funny.

This is a legitimate injury, Mark Prior.

CHICAGO -- The Cubs' injuries continued to mount as catcher Michael Barrett was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with an intrascrotal hematoma.

Barrett was injured in the fifth inning on Saturday when he was hit in the groin by a ball during San Francisco pitcher Matt Cain's at-bat. Barrett stayed in the game, and even hit in the Cubs' fifth, but had to leave because of the pain.

Maybe Dusty forgot to do cup-check before the game.

Former Cubs Watch! Second Base Edition

This is our first installment of "Former Cubs Watch!", a series in which we will compare the performances of current Cubs to those of their still active predecessors.

The first in our series is "Awesome" Todd Walker, who despite never keeping his mouth shut always managed to be a decent hitter. "Cubs Replacements" are gauged only by their performances while playing second base. Todd Walker's statistics are for the entire season, as, theoretically, he could have been putting these numbers up all year as the Cubs 2b.

2B: "Awesome" Todd Walker. Replacements: Tony Womack, Neifi Perez, Ronnie Cedeno, Freddie Bynum, Jerry Hairston.
At Bats: Walker - 388, Replacements - 368.
Hits: Walker - 110, Replacements - 97
XBH: Walker - 29, Replacements - 26
BB: Walker - 50, Replacements - 14
K: Walker - 30, Replacements - 43
HR: Walker - 7, Replacements - 5
RBI: Walker - 47, Replacements - 34
A/O/S: Walker - .284/.363/.399, Replacements - .263/.290/.361


FPCT: Walker - .977, Replacements .978

1) Even in San Diego, Walker has been platooned and thus his numbers are below what they would be.
2) The biggest gap is OBP. Walker has been on base 49 times more than his replacements.
3) The replacements do no better a defensive job than Walker did, eliminating any argument that defense makes up for Walker's bat. Walker has a fair edge here in every category.

Also, Replacements have grounded into 18 double plays (while playing for the Cubs); Walker, 8.

Shirk has hope.

From article, Notes: Cubs bolster battery

The Cubs have one more month to play, and general manager Jim Hendry already was looking ahead to next year.

For some reason, Jim has stopped looking ahead.

"It'll be a busy offseason for us, an important offseason for us," Hendry said Friday. "I haven't been hanging my head -- we've been focusing on what we have to do."

It is always important--and busying--to clean your desk out after you are fired for reckless incompetence. But apparently nothing to "hang your head" about.

"Hopefully, the young pitchers will help me sort out things better by the end of the month," Hendry said. "Hopefully, guys who are having good years can finish up that way. You hope to win as many games as you can and not blow games like we did in Pittsburgh."

That's a lot of hope you're hoping for, Jim. And which rookies are having the good years? The right fielder who Dusty won't play even if he hits .400? The worst overall shortstop in the majors? The idiot parade of starting pitchers?

Also, "you hope to win as many games as you can"? Your team has won as many games as it can, Jim: 55. I'd hope that you'd hope for a few more.

Hendry said it's better to judge the players when they're facing a contending team rather than a team that's out of the race. The Cubs will be facing some Wild Card contenders, including the Giants this weekend, the Cincinnati Reds, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies.

So you need to watch them play the AL, then, because nobody in the NL is seriously contending to win the World Series.

I don't quite understand this comment by Hendry. Theoretically, the teams with better talent would be the contending teams, and so he is saying that you have to judge players based on how they do against the best players in the game. There are only five teams with winning records in the NL, so you can only judge a player by how he performs against these teams? There are sixteen teams in the National League, eleven of which have sub-.500 records. Apparently this chunk of 68.75% of the league is unimportant, because only 31.25% of the league matters.

"When you're playing people trying to get in, you should have pride about beating somebody in the race," Hendry said.

Maybe you should stick to trying to beat the other 68.75%, Jim Shirk.

Minor matters: Jerome Williams gave up five runs on nine hits over 6 1/3 innings in Iowa's 7-4 loss to Oklahoma.

Oh god he's still bad. But you can never hate a guy who replaced Latroy Hawkins on your roster.