Friday, October 21

The 2005 Cubs: Part II

3 Players who should find the exit before 2006

1. Corey Patterson
I’m done with this jackoff. His terrible batting was not saved by intermittent moments of brilliant defense, and if he turns his back on Winter League to keep partying on the Northside, he should see the door. Let it be noted that he played more games than ANYONE with similar batting stats (.215 BA, ), and had the 2nd worst BB-to-K ratio of ANYONE IN THE LEAGUE with 0.19 (Wily Mo Pena had a BB-to-K of 0.17, but played in 23 less games). It’s awful, it’s unacceptable, and it’s sure as shit not worth a spot in any MLB starting lineup; how on earth he managed the 5th MOST AT-BATS ON THE CUBS ROSTER is just too much to even think about. Off with his head!

2. Cliff Bartosh, RP
Sure, everyone needs a LOOGY, but if Remlinger is not safe from the chop, then this chump shouldn’t be either. Bad numbers across the board despite being used as a garbage pitcher (if you can’t throw strikes when the other team is up by 7 in the 8th and have pinch-hit for half their starting lineup, then you have issues), and somehow managing to remain on the active roster for most of the year and only appearing 19 times – why bother with him on the team? Flush him out as he didn’t do much, didn’t get many opportunities as a result, and is taking up valuable room for *gasp* a AAA, Major League-ready reliever (*cough coughJermaine Van Burencough cough*). So long, enjoy the free sweatpants.

3. Jeromy Burnitz, OF
Man, am I going to cop some shit for this one. If we’re looking at our lineup objectively and without emotional bias and/or preference (you know, how it’s sometimes supposed to be done), then Burnitz wouldn’t make the grade. There are homes for guys like him, and unfortunately they’re far from competitive ones, but his mediocre “small” numbers (.254 BA, worst in the regular lineup, 262 with RISP) could be shadowed sufficiently by solid power (24 HR, 87 RBI) and honorable defense just long enough for us to get something good in return.

I don’t know what his contract situation is like, but he’s one bird that’s worth flying the coop earlier in terms of his relative league value. Our OF needs a complete overhaul, hopefully with Murton getting the lion’s share of LF time, and with Pie on the way, Burnitz has trade potential and the all-important trade value, something fellow punk Patterson certainly does not. Heck, package them to Boston for Damon, I don’t care. They just can’t stay here.


2 things we need most in the Off-Season

1. A #3 starter
Who knows what Maddux is thinking about 2006, but one thing is certain: we need another solid starter to give us a (hopefully) healthy 4-man rotation that would look good on paper. Our days of waiting around for Wood to leave the hospital should be over, and with a 4-man set of Prior, Zambrano, Maddux and someone else would give us more competitiveness and put less strain on the over-worked bullpen.

I’m not sure who is coming up, but if AJ Burnett were attainable (I’m not sure what we’d need to give up to get him), or a guy like Kyle Lohse in Minnesota (9-13, 4.18 ERA, 1.43 WHIP in 2005), someone durable and decidedly non-flashy/economical, it might be worth the jump.

2. Outfield, outfield, outfield
This is obvious. With potentially 3 guys I could think of who shouldn’t see Wrigley’s outfield again, a solid CF/RF who can leadoff is the big prize on the horizon. I remember hoping that we could get a Damon-type scratch-hitter, and he was quoted as saying he wouldn’t mind moving to the Cubs, should the situation ever arise.

I need to quit the hope and put whatever shred of trust I have in the front office to put their priorities right: a lot of problems will be solved with a solid lead-off man. Heck, you guys know that given how you covet that pest Eckstein. If he lays down a suicide squeeze one more time in this postseason, I might puke up a kidney.


1 man who can lead us in 2005

1. Carlos Zambrano, SP
Again, shoot me down from the rafters for this one. His fiery temperament has steered him through matchups against some of the best in the NL: Chris Carpenter x 2, Josh Beckett (ouch, maybe not), Ben Sheets (should have been), and Dontrelle Willis to name but a few. His batting was no slouch (24-80, .300 BA, HR, 6 RBI, 8 R and 7 XBHs), and sometimes anomalies like that can mean the difference between the W and the L.

Despite all of his innate talent, those 33 or so starts that El Toro gets are vital. Not only did he find 13 NDs in 2005, some of which were truly ridiculous (7 IP, H, 0 ER, ND vs. White Sox, CG, ER, ND vs. Cardinals, 8 IP, 2 ER, ND vs. Braves, 7 IP, ER, ND vs, Astros to name but 4), but the mere fact that his cojones glisten brightest in the summer sun against the biggest fish in the league is no coincidence.

He brings 110 percent to the big matchups, and it’s about time the team thanked him for it. Another solid year in 2006 should see him a lot closer to 20 wins than 10, and should bring the Cubs closer to the chance of a postseason.

7 Comments:

At 9:35 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

JT-
Package Burnitz and Patterson for Damon? Are you kidding?
First off, my understanding is that both Burnitz and Damon will be free agents, and second, you really think those two have the trade value Damon does?

I'm not all that enchanted with Damon anyway. Something just doesn't seem right about him in Chicago. Maybe Cubs fandom would like us just to swap lineups with Boston. We've already got Nomar and Walker, and Murton came from their minor league system.

Why get rid of Corey at this point? He has no trade value whatsoever. Keep him in the minors until he gets his mechanics right, let him build his numbers up a bit, and then decide whether it makes more sense to trade him or keep him. If his numbers don't come up, you've basically got to keep him until his contract runs out, because his trade value is 0, and he's got as much potential as anyone we could get for him.

As far as letting Burnitz go- I'm sad to say I agree, but only if it looks like we can replace him. I'd like to see Nomar, Pie, and Murton patrolling the outfield next year if possible. And mix Patterson in there if he gets his mechanics fixed. Bunitz worked harder than anyone on the team as far as I can tell, but he's just another K to opposing pitchers, and his mechanics lend to that. Sorry Burny. Thanks for your effort in '05. If you do come back in '06, no hard feelings. I loved watching you play, most of the time.

 
At 11:41 PM, Blogger JT said...

Lazlo --

Hey, I have no idea about contracts and who's a FA and who's not, etc... I'm just making all sorts of crazy speculations. I would like to see Burnitz and Patterson out, and hey, we need something for them... yeah, I know I'm crazy about that, and I think Damon has all the leverage in his situation. He gets to choose (I think he's a 10-and-5 guy now? or 10-and-4?), and I honestly haven't been paying much attention to the relative value. Maybe once the World Series is over and baseball beat writers have something to talk about besides the postseason, we can figure out who is worth what, etc.

I want rid of Corey because his problem is not his mechanics; it's his overall attitude. He is convinced that he will get things better. Did you read the rest of that article on cubs.com? His hitting coach was rambling about how the "first thing he did was go back to his old ways", something about the pressure he was under meant he immediately went back to his bad habits.

Said AA Hitting Coach Dave Keller:
“There were drills I wanted to do with him just to figure out where his balance was, just to figure out where he was with all his movement,” Keller said. “There were some drills he didn’t like, and some he liked. We tried to use the drills he liked to help him get to another stage in his swing. It’s hard — you can’t just go tell somebody, ‘You need to change, and I want you to make this move with your body.’ It’s very, very hard physically to get guys in the right position. The first thing you’re going to want to do is revert back to your old habits.”

Look up his stats: he was actually doing better BEFORE HE WENT TO IOWA.

Pre-Iowa
AB 314
BA .232
OBP .270
SLG .379
OPS .649
K 83
BB 16

Post-Iowa
AB 137
BA .175
OBP .219
SLG .277
OPS .496
K 25
BB 7

There isn't anything anyone can say or do, except for some steady
and solid productivity from CP himself, to convince me that he's worth all the time and effort that this organization has put into him. How he gets worse after a month of "practicing" and "training" on his "technique" is a mystery. Sorry, but this is one thing I don't think I'll back down on.

 
At 12:24 PM, Blogger Jim said...

Damon will probably get a three-year contract with some team, likely Boston, for around $10 million per year, maybe more.

If he goes to another team, he'll probably be something of an offensive flop the first year, maybe the second. The third year he'll have stellar numbers again. Although he'll probably never do for another team what he can do for Boston, unless he goes to San Francisco and Bonds really is able to come back from his injuries.

Will Pie fulfill his potential in the majors? Probably not. Most players are never able to achieve what their best scenarios look like early in their careers. Counting on a player to do well when he's never seen a major league, regular season game pitch is extremely risky. I'm hoping he comes up and makes us all say, "Sammy who?" But if the Cubs are going to make a run at it out of spring training, I believe they'll be very leery of banking on untried help.

 
At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

JT-
I know what you mean. I too think Corey should have to prove himself through productivity. But I don't think Corey has any worse an attitude than other players.
As far as reverting to old habits- this isn' just Corey by any means. Ever work with a several different coaches on something? I've been in music for years, worked with multiple teachers- these teachers often contradict each other and ask you to change how you are doing things, habits you've probably formed based on the advise of past teachers. Changing these habits is really hard. The best teachers say that the practice room is the place for perfect technique, because once you get in group rehearsal or in a performance you go back to what feels comfortable, which usually means some of the bad habits come back. It's not all that strange that Corey's performance was worse after coming back. If he really was trying to make changes it would take a long time for those changes to pay off. Instant gratification doesn't happen at that level of sports, art, performance- anything. He looked like he was trying harder to go the other way, to hit singles, to take a walk, but the situation was not the best for him to make those changes. He should've stayed in the minors until the new technique became his new habits.

Jim-
Stop being a reality check! It's a real downer. Yeah, I think the cubs will be wary with there new guys if they still think we have a shot next year. But I do think that Cedeno (if he's healthy) and Murton will get their shot. Murton has got fantastic chances of being in the starting lineup, and Cedeno's situation will depend on Nomar and Walker and whether Cedeno's hand is fully healed and his mechanics haven't been alterred. Pie may be brought up as a bench guy, or he may be given a shot if we've got no other choice. I think spending a year in AAA would be good for him. He's still really young.

 
At 7:47 PM, Blogger JT said...

Jim -

when you say "if the Cubs are going to make a run at it come Spring Training", and I've been talking about playing a lot more young guys etc., I don't think those two perspectives are mutually exclusive.

While all youth is definitely not the answer (e.g. look at the Illinois football team - all freshmen, all terrible and PSU is currently shellacking them), there needs to be more forward-thinking in our approach. Guys like Pie, sure, the majority of them don't fulfill their minor league potential, but come on, is he the worst we could do? Every position needs to be analyzed instead of just throwing some journeyman utility guy into the lineup at the expense of someone's development. After all, the only way to find out is by trying.

I'm not counting on anyone to make our season special, because that's not how it works. I'd much rather have a team hitting .285-.290 than a team hitting .255 with one guy way ahead batting .350.

I do agree that they'll be leery about relying on untried help, but honestly, that approach (if it continues) just shows that we're not committed to winning. Give them a couple of weeks in the lineup, let them learn the hard way. Heck, JoePa used to piss me off at PSU for letting all those highly-touted freshmen recruits linger on the bench while the likes of Matt Senneca reigned supreme. This year, he's given his freshmen (Williams, Norwood, King, Butler) every chance to show their talents, and it's been our best season in 6 or 7 years.

I'll be seriously disappointed if we come back next season and find a front office with the same attitude and the same jaded lineup. They'll never win without taking a goddamn chance.

 
At 12:06 AM, Blogger Jim said...

I'd love to have a team that hit .285 over the course of a full season. That'd be fantastic. As a team, the Cubs batted .270 this year, the same as the Cards. Boston only batted .281 for the season, and they had a designated hitter for the full season and the Green Monster to help them out for 81 games.

If the Cubs come out in April with two or three rookies (or near rookies) in the line up, you can be fairly sure that they have decided to rebuild. The team might still make a run at the division title. That can always happen, but the attitude will be "we're rebuilding for two or three years down the road."

I don't think that's going to happen. The signed Dusty for four years to make a run at the series. They haven't fired him. They've rehired his coaching staff. I think they're going to give it one more shot.

I just don't know where Nomar fits into those plans. He may be the best hitter on the team. Lee had a career year this season, and I hope it's a sign of things to come, but I don't think you can count on it.

 
At 12:34 AM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

JT-
Stop watching PSU football. It's not the same thing. Yes, playing the youngsters will help, but you've got to pick your spots. Murton should be in the starting lineup next year, provided he continues to put up big numbers until opening day. Cedeno should get another shot if he's healthy. Pie should probably spend another year in the minors, unless we have no other less risky options.

Jim-
Nomar's place on next years team will depend primarily on other players. When we find out whether Walker will be re-signed, whether we've got an outfield, whether Aramis will be healthy, and whether Cedeno will be healthy, then we can figure where Nomar fits. If walker isn't re-signed, it's likeley Cedeno will play second and Nomar short. If we have an opening in left field Nomar might play there, though everyone seems opposed to this idea but Nomar for some reason. If Aramis will not be healthy (though I think he will be since it was only a minor injury, but who knows) Nomar might actually be asked to play third. If Cedeno get's healthy and continues to look good, and walker is kept, then Nomar may be out of the picture. If the Cubs switch to the AL, Nomar may be the DH.

 

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