Thursday, June 9

Injury Update and the "New Whipping Boy"

The cubs have a much needed day off today (need to be at 100% to sweep Boston to redeem ourselves from the 1918 series) so I'm going to talk a little about our pitching situation. There's a blurb ESPN's cubs page about the status of our two injured pitching superstars. Both Wood and Prior seem to be making progress. Wood has pitched a "simulation" game and will probably head to the minors soon for some rehab work. Prior is able to play catch and recently threw about ten pitches. Neither has a return date yet. Here's a quote from the ESPN piece:

"He [Wood] threw 45 pitches, facing hitters Jose Macias and Enrique Wilson. Wood was unsure if he was going to throw another simulated game before going to the minor leagues on a rehab assignment. He reported no pain throwing any of his pitches."

Not only does it sound like Wood is making progress but it seems as if someone is trying to build up his confidence having him pitch to Macias.

So, our "big guns" are making progress but with the way our young guys are stepping up, I don't think we need to rush them back (by the way, I have to agree that Mitre is the guy to keep up when Wood gets back). Give Wood and Prior as much time as they need and make sure that when they do return, they can have a decent outing. The last thing I want to see is Wood start a game then have to leave in the third because he's not fully rehabilitated.

Corey Patterson. Some fellow Cubs bloggers have really been hard on CP as of late. Granted Corey has partially brought this on himself while talking big (saying he should be the number three hitter) and sporting a huge ego while not producing. More than a few are declaring calling CP the "new whipping boy" since LaTroy is gone. Well, until Patterson single-handedly blows multiple games for us, I'm not going to promote him to whipping boy status. Like so many other cubbies, CP has had some "WTF!" moments but also some streaks of brilliance (of course, I'm referring to his errant throw in the fifth on Tuesday and then gunning down Toronto's Wells in the eighth). He's also been sporadic at the plate (slumping actually). In the past week he' batting a meager .174 but his season average is still hovering around .260. I can't help but bring up Ramirez here. A couple of weeks ago Aramis was really struggling at the plate but he's found his swing again and has been hot in the past ten days. What am I getting at? Corey will shape up (maybe add to his ridiculous solo HR count of ten) and we'll have a new "whipping boy" in a couple of weeks (Macias perhaps?).

That's all I have...thoughts?


At 11:55 AM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

I really don't think there should be any whipping boy in the organization, including Macias. Macias is what he is, and we don't really expect him to bat .300 or hit home runs. We expect him to be sporadic at the plate and to be able to play just about any position on the field with moderate ability.

I've been a big Corey fan since he was brought up. I love to see the Cubs actually have some speed on the team. The frustrating thing about Corey is his potential. He's a great center fielder, has good speed, has power, has a great arm, and has shown at times that he can hit for average. Yet somehow, he's an average base stealer, can't seem to regularly be able to lay down a good bunt, and has shown at other times that he can't hit for average! He strikes out too much, and that's key to all of this. I've watched him for years, and I feel that his swing is too big and looping for a guy who is 5'9" with good speed. He needs to shorten the swing to reduce strike outs. Granted, this will probably reduce his home run numbers too, but that's not the type of player we need him to be anyway. He could become a good top of the order guy if he found a way to get on base more, and then he'd have more stealing opportunities.

At 2:50 PM, Blogger Jim said...

I'm afraid Corey will never reach his potential. There's been too much made of him being a young Barry Bonds. He's never going to be that. He doesn't have the eyes to be a great hitter, unfortunately. And he doesn't seem to understand what it means to "make adjustments" at the plate. You can say the same for Burnitz (who, nevertheless, seems to handle the ego thing in a more mature manner).

The Cubs haven't understood the value of a base stealer since the end of the dead ball era. If they did, they never would have traded off Lou Brock.

A good base stealer, someone who steals on every opportunity, will make the rest of the team better hitters. Opposing teams hate having to face a base stealer. They think about him constantly, even when he's not on deck. They're always calculating where he is in the order and how many outs they have until he comes to the plate.

This means the pitcher and catcher are never giving their full attention to whoever is at the plate.

You can pitch around a home run hitter, but you can't do that with a base stealer. You just have to battle him constantly.

Guys like Lou Brock and Ricky Henderson struck more terror in the hearts of opposing teams than Barry Bonds ever did.

At 6:07 PM, Blogger DS said...

lazlo -- I'm not advocating having a whipping boy but if we're gonna pick on someone, I'll probably pick Macias. He's an easy target being that he fits the old adage "jack of all trades, master of none." He's always doing something...just never well.

jim -- I always learn something when you post, I love it(I didn't know Lou Brock was ever a cub...). On the whole, I agree with your assessment of Patterson. He needs to know his role and fill it -- the sad part is this will probably never happen.

At 11:54 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

I think it's easier to say things will never happen, than to try to figure how to make things happen. I hope that the coaching and management is not saying, "We'd like Corey to strike out less and steal more bases, but that will never happen." Come on guys. "... but that will never happen," was the old Cubs' slogan. This year we're working with "Believe", and I believe in Corey. But I also believe he needs the coaches and management to stay on his back about doing what he is supposed to be doing, and not thinking much about home runs.

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Jim said...

For "theHawk": Lou Brock came up through the Cubs organization in the early sixties. He appeared in a couple of games in 1961, became a regular in 1962. He was stealing bases for the Cubs, but he seemed to be trying to hit the ball out of the park too often and suffered a lot of strike outs, hitting around 260 from '62 through the first 52 games of '64 when the Cubs traded him to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio, a one-time twenty-game winner, who was injured.

The trade ranks as perhaps the most infamous trade in baseball history. (Babe Ruth was sold outright, not traded.) In those days, teams did not have to be forth coming about the physical health of the players they traded. Broglio was severally damaged goods. He had injured his back in the off season, delivering beer for the Budweiser company in St. Louis. The Busch family owned the Cardinals. Players in those days didn't earn enough to support their families playing baseball, except for a few. Most had "day jobs" in the off season, and the Busch family was known for being tight fisted with contracts.


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