Thursday, March 30

2B and Dumb Nicknames...

It looks like the next big decision for DB is second base. This is a tough one and I don't know if I have an opinion yet. We've got Hairston, Perez and Hot Rod Todd. According to Paul Sullivan at the Trib, Hairston has the edge. As the article mentions, Hairston leads the pack in BA but that seems like a horrible metric to pick a second basemen. Especially since we all know the bats don't really warm up until after opening day. Feel free to chime in if you've got thoughts on this...

One other thing I recently came across is Dusty's nicknames for a couple of the players. I know he's not a Cub anymore but apparently Wellemeyer is known to Dusty as Welly. Also, I guess he likes to call Angel Guzman Goozie.

DB: "Goozie! Get your ass to Iowa! And quit calling Zambrano Dad, what the hell's wrong with you?"

Anyone else come across any of Dusty's other retarded nicknames?

Wednesday, March 29

Goodbye Wellemeyer

Here's somebody we won't be seeing much of this year: is running a story on our recent trade of Wellemeyer to the Marlins. There's also some good stuff in there about our rotation. Looks like Dusty is going to take his time (as he should) "ironing out" the four and five spots.

I'm a little late on this one but here's another article to fuel hatred of the White Sox. It makes Dusty look like Ozzie's bitch. Enjoy...

Monday, March 27

Writers Love the Cubs...

Not much time for this but I just wanted to throw up a couple of links:

Here's one from that's a nice wrap of the team's status with some good Dusty quotes: Story

Another from that has more rhetorical questions than Donald Rumsfeld at a press conference: Story

Oh...and it's exactly one week until opening day!!

Saturday, March 25

No-no for the Cub-Cubs!! ... sort of

I was fortunate to catch the majority of the Cubs/A's game this afternoon and it was a good one. While it is still only spring training and it was a split squad game with mostly minor leaguers on the scorecards, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The game flew by (10 innings in under three hours) and Cubs pitching retired 29 before allowing a hit. You read that correctly, 9+ hitless innings for the A's. Who accomplished this amazing, never before seen cactus league feat? It was a combined effort with Sean Marshall (who?) and Angel Guzman each working 4. Aardsma took care of the ninth before Koronka took over in the 10th and blew it (the no hitter that is). The Cubs did manage to pull this one out in the bottom of the 10th. Brandon Taylor (again, who?) got the RBI with a broken bat hit that made it to the left field wall. Final score was 1-0 in case you didn't infer that already.

This one really should have been over in the ninth. Jamal Strong started things off with a standing double. He advanced to 3rd on a sac bunt (nice!). Next, the A's decided to juice the bases w/2 intentional walks. The A's were able to prolong the inevitable two ground ball outs... Hopefully, once the season kicks off, we'll see less runners LOB. I'm not holding my breath though...the Cubs seem to do this REALLY well.

Some random good stuff from the game: 3 double plays (thanks to a few walks and Cedeno's glove), 2 sac bunts (Dusty is taking a page out of the south-siders playbook apparently...hopefully we see more of this once the season starts) and 1 shrouded Dusty. Let me clarify that last item: being in Mesa, I guess Dusty is trying to stay as cool (literally and figuratively? sure, why not) as possible. Throughout the game he was sporting a Cubbie blue shroud out of the back of his cap. Pretty sweet look but I think he'll retire it before opening day.

Friday, March 24

10 Days...

"Ain't nothing on hold[!]"

So who am I quoting? Sure, it sounds like something from BA Baracus but it's Dusty (it's OK, I frequently confuse the two too). In a recent article Dusty confirms that time will in fact continue to pass without Prior and Wood in the rotation. Here's some more commentary on our current pitching situation.

As for the title of this post, I'm sure most of you realize but I wanted to make it abundantly clear to all 16 of our readers that we're just TEN days away from our home opener with Cincy! Unfortunately I won't be able to watch the game but maybe some of you who are lucky enough to work from home (read: JT) will be able to catch it. With any luck, I'll be listening at work.

Friday, March 17

Viva Mexico!


Seriously, Mexico beat America. Little tiny Mexico, with their little antique ways and disappearing natural resources, home of Sammy Hagar's tequila factory and the hottest Spring Break spot this side of Tucson, kicked those high-paid, hair salon-frequenting gringo asses!

Mexico won the old-fashioned way, using their technical brilliance: by figuring out how to make Vernon Wells ground into double-plays. El Rocket was bien, and he sure made California Jr. work hard for their runs [the umps made them work even harder - that shot by Valenzuela down the right field line was a goddamn home run, end of story], but when he reached that pitch count.... dios mio, man. USA South took advantage -- Jorge Cantu bringing home the puerco with those RBIs. And now, Mexico get nothing in reward, except a fresh dose of national pride, and the ability to enjoy sweet revenge. This one's for San Jacinto, motherfuckers!


What's that Bud? That's the sound of a successful tournament. After I harped on that last week, some bigshot Anderson at the New York Times [I'd post the article if it wasn't sequestered behind "Times Select", aka "Pay a monthly fee to read op-ed pieces"] echoed those sentiments in his erudite fashion on Thursday. And now, the two Asian powers get to battle for the rights to face either the Dominican Republic or Cuba in the championship game.

Already, irony is knocking at the door, as we might well see two countries with which the US has less-than-stellar relations square off on American soil to win an American-created trophy in a sport devised and popularized by the United States. While it's not entirely crazy [given that England can't win the World Cup more than once when we made that fucken game], it's still funny.

[Note: How much do you wanna bet that A-Rod is wishing he decided to play for the Dominican Republic instead? I bet my friend 5 fake dollars that A-Rod would hit into that game-ending, WBC-ending double play. Because come on, let's face it, A-Rod going 0-3 in a game that counts, wouldn't that have been THE perfect ending?]

Dado, USA...


I cannot believe the audacity of the rest of the world, and neither can Chipper Jones. Who do they think they are anyway? So what, they beat the mighty USA in some stupid baseball tournament. They act like it was a worldwide event and now they should be heralded for their accolades. Well news flash, Rest-of-the-World: Our baseball players are still better than yours.

Just because you decided to have your idiotic tournament at the end of our players' offseason means nothing. Of course they couldn't do well against you, they haven't been training and preparing and getting in shape yet. It would be like if you took me out there and dressed me up in an ugly grey uniform with "USA" imprinted on the front and asked me to hit a baseball. Of course I wouldn't be able to do it. I'm not in shape or ready for baseball. But if I had ample time to prepare for such a tournament, even I would be able to hit your pitchers, Rest-of-the-World, because your pitchers suck. And so do your hitters. And your uniforms were even uglier than USA's.


How could they have the intestinal fortitude to make us feel sad before heading into our grueling 162 game MLB season? Don't they know what we have ahead of us? Sending our players to such a low when they should be getting excited for the upcoming season just does not make sense. It's stupidity. Leave it to the Rest-of-the-World to exercise supreme stupidity. Now Derrek Lee has a somewhat injured shoulder, and we have the Rest-of-the-World to thank. Thanks, Rest-of-the-World. USA should have won that tournament, and would have if they had actually cared.

So, Rest-of-the-World, it just goes to show you that the MLB season really is more important that some "WBC". Otherwise the USA players would have actually tried harder to beat you. And they would have. Because they are better than you.

Man-Boy has the scoop


Being one of the privileged New York elite, I have full access to's mind-numbing assortment of "Insider" material. It's awesome. If you ever wished to read some guy talk about why Missouri State is a great college hoops team, you should check it out. There's other stuff too, like ESPN's venerable baseball holy triumvirate: Buster "The Never-Aging Man-Boy" Olney, Peter "Leather Jowls" Gammons, and Jayson "I'm just here to make up the numbers" Stark.

Regardless, Olney's golden gaze has briefly hit the Cubs, and in his latest blog, he admonishes Prior and the Cubs organization for playing all these secretive games and disguising or downplaying any injuries.

It's actually not a bad read:

It is amusing that the Cubs kept Prior's throwing sessions out of sight and now say there was never any previous indication of a problem. I have no idea whose idea the clandestine sessions were, but the cloak-and-dagger stuff is ridiculous in a sport like baseball. If this was the idea of anybody in the organization, it was silly -- there's no point in hiding something that is destined to become apparent at the start of the season.

I'd have to agree with that, on some levels. I mean, Wood and Prior's injury history is not the stuff of legend or myth, like, say, the Da Vinci code, or Bigfoot, or Maurice Clarett's future in professional football outside of Canada. All the media juggling is just infuriating for guys who have to cover the Cubs [think what Barry Bonds does to Pedro Gomez, and multiply that by a thousand], but not only that, do they think we're stupid?

He goes on to mention that no matter whose idea it is/was, the team's or Prior's, it's just moronic and should stop. He also gets in another dig at Prior, regarding his slightly diva-ish ways since making it to the show:

"I don't know Prior personally, and folks who do say good things about him, but I recall that in his first year in the major leagues -- his first year -- Prior declined to do interviews the day before his starts. The only pitcher I've covered who did that was Roger Clemens, and he didn't start that until after he had won a few Cy Young awards."

Point well made. We know Prior is far from Clemens, and Olney's suggestion that he should take himself less seriously might be a good one.

There's another article out there by Freddie Mitchell from the mighty Trib, and his interview with Ferguson Jenkins predicts mediocre things in both Wood and Prior's baseball future. Worth checking out.

Carlos & Neifi : The Odd Couple


[From the New York Times, March 16:

"Michael Barrett, the Chicago Cubs catcher, said the team did not want to leave the Classic "not having won." He mentioned the looks on the faces of the Venezuelans after the Dominican Republic knocked them out of the tournament Tuesday.

"I think their reaction speaks volumes about how we all feel about playing in this thing and how disappointing it will be for all of us not to advance," he said. "I know Carlos Zambrano doesn't want to go back to the Cubs and listen to Neifi Perez talk about how awesome the Dominican team is over the Venezuelan team, but that gives them bragging rights."]

CarlosZ38 signed on.

CarlosZ38: hola neifi!!!!! como estas????

Auto Response from N3ifi_the_E_Machine: dominicana!!!1!1!!! dominicana!!1!!!!!1! hey, venezuela: mama mi guebo, pendejos!!!!!!1!11!!!1!

CarlosZ38: shut the eff up
N3ifi_the_E_Machine: don't be jealous! Dooooomiiiinnniiiicaaaaannnnaaaaa!!!!!
CarlosZ38: i hate u
CarlosZ38: i will bean u in bp muchacho
N3ifi_the_E_Machine: lol
N3ifi_the_E_Machine: just cuz we kicked ur ass
N3ifi_the_E_Machine: pwn3d!!!!! adios venezuela and ur gay jerseys
CarlosZ38: eff u
N3ifi_the_E_Machine: just think
N3ifi_the_E_Machine: when ur on the mound against the Reds split squad, mi dominicana will be playing for da trophee biatch
CarlosZ38: hey, but i hit better than u last season
CarlosZ38: and i played for my country, while you sit at home and cheer at the tv
N3ifi_the_E_Machine: lol jerk
CarlosZ38: lolololololo!!!! no response for that do you?????
CarlosZ38: plus you don't even start, t-dub plays second and the rookie take ur spot at short lmao rofl lololol!!!!!
N3ifi_the_E_Machine: fuck u

N3ifi_the_E_Machine signed off.

Thursday, March 16

Assumptions, Predictions


So WSCR released a report a little while ago that Mark Prior has a posterior shoulder strain. The new release was an "incomplete report", but Prior will not throw at least for a few days. An MRI has probably by now already been taken (this morning) and he then will be reevaluated this Saturday, which will yield a "complete diagnosis".

So here is my proposed timeline, with facts mixed in, but mostly just my opinions and bleak predictions.
1) Prior has taken too kindly to the hobby of golf, much like Zambino and his incessant emailing of family members last year, which was luckily caught before it got to serious. I hear a golf swing can contribute to shoulder injuries, hmm?
2) Cubs attempt to cover-up or not release information regarding Prior's naggingly sore shoulder thus far this spring. In turn, they put him on a strictly monitored agenda to get him to 100%... all behind closed doors of course, so no one can see he is throwing much less than he should be.
3) The injury continues to nag, and the trainers realize it is time to get it checked out. The team releases the report that Prior is going to San Diego to see Dr. Yocum, although it's most likely nothing serious, because this is the first time Prior has complained of any soreness all year. They would just like to take every precaution. [hack!]Sorry, I just puked a little in my mouth.
4) The team releases the preliminary report that he has a shoulder strain and will be thoroughly evaluated a few days later.
5) Well, it looks like the injury is not exactly what was originally diagnosed, as the MRI showed a slight tear of Prior's rotator cuff. He will need a very minor surgery, but should be able to participate in an abbreviated individual spring training by April, and should be back pitching by the second week in May.
6) Prior has surgery. After the surgery, it is determined that the injury was slightly more serious that previously thought, and Prior will have to spend substantial time in rehab, possibly bringing him back around the time of the All-Star Break.

So I guess it's pretty clear that I am not giving many people associated with the team the benefit of the doubt right now, but let's face it. They have led the fans on with every single one of our pitcher's injuries in the past. It always turns out to be "a little more serious than previously thought" and "injuries to the shoulder are so complicated that it is impossible to predict exactly when [a pitcher] will be back from one. He'll just have to start getting loose and throwing when able and we'll see how it goes." Ugh, I feel history repeating itself...

Please, feel free to comment.

Spring Trip to the DL, Anyone?


Life ain't as bad as it may seem hanging out on the DL.**

So the results of yesterday's exam are going to be announced today at Ho-Ho-Kam Park. I will keep my ear to the ground to see if any horses are coming. Then I'll metaphorically keep my ear to the ground and let you know what they announce when I find something about it.

The Tribune has a decent version of the story, including a pseudo time-line. They also address/analyze the question about whether or not any stock should be placed in the 'rumors' that had been flying around up until Prior was flown out west for an exam. All in all, the evidence (if you can call it that) that the article uses does all seem to point to the fact that no one knew about the injury 'prior' (pun intended, ber her) to right now.

However (and it's a big whopping huge however, in my mind), I've also learned that the 'rumors' started due to a report by a man named Will Carroll who first reported that Prior's shoulder was in rough shape weeks ago. He had it from a source who knows Prior well, and here is an excerpt from their supposed conversation (Oh, and Prior may even know exactly who the anonymous source was):

"I told him, `Please tell me you're right,'" Carroll recalled. "He just said, `Trust me.'"

Anyway, here is that story, minus the Carroll report, at the Tribune (which owns the Cubs, etc, etc)

If you need to register, try

**OK, so that picture is from 2004, so what??

Prior Hits First 'Snag' of the Year

So it's happened, in case you didn't already hear. Mark Prior is going to be setback at least a few days on his pitching regimen after reporting soreness in his throwing shoulder during a workout earlier this week. He is being flown to his hometown in San Diego to be checked out by a specialist. Basically, from what I'm reading, it could be nothing, or it could be something. No one knows yet.

There had been rumors flying around that he had already sustained an elbow or shoulder injury a couple weeks ago that the Cubs weren't telling us about, so this new development has the people supporting that rumor all up in arms in typical "We told you so" fashion. The Cubs' standpoint is that there was nothing behind those rumors, that Prior hasn't complained once this spring until now. I tend to believe them in this case, as Hendry pointed out that the team would have nothing to gain by hiding a problem that they knew existed, only to divulge this information now, 3 weeks after the fact. Who knows though, I could be feeling particularly naive today.

Here is the story on the Cubs homepage, and expect another related link or two as I find them.

Tuesday, March 14

What the ----???


... is what you might be saying to yourself regarding the WBC action lately. US has lost to both Canada and.... and KOREA??? Japan has a meek 2-2 record??? Puerto Rico, sure, we knew they had a pretty solid team offensively, but a 4-1 record? And once again... KOREA? 5-0 with wins over both Japan and the US???

Well rest your wee heads, lads and lasses, I have the reasons and answers, so you can hopefully stop your brain from chasing its tail. My theory is pretty simple in principle, and I definitely think it holds some water. Every player on every team in the WBC has strengths and weaknesses, right? And the key to any matchup is going to be taking advantage of your opponents weaknesses while making use of your own strengths. The problem is: what if you don't know anything about half of your opponents because you have never seen, heard of, or played against them before? What if, in the meantime, your name is Alex Rodriguez or [Insert other famous MLB player here], and everyone you are playing against knows all of your strengths and weaknesses?

I say that it sure gives a relatively unknown pitcher a heck of an advantage over his opponents when he knows everything about them while they know nothing of him. The same goes for the unknown hitter facing a guy like Johan Santana or Freddy Garcia, although, perhaps to a lesser degree.

Anyway, regardless of the reason for some of the unexpected upsets, US sucks. I guess it is fence hopping in some ways, but I've decided I'm not pulling for our beloved home country representatives. My new favorite team is Venezuela, baby. I'm a fan of enough of their players (Abreu, Cabrera (yes, despite the Marlins/Cubs playoff series), Santana, Vizquel, Martinez, and most of all.... Zambrano) that I figured I could jump on their bandwagon. I watched the Puerto Rico game last night and was pretty impressed with the Zambino's effort. It wasn't an October-worthy effort, but it would have been fine for April, June, or even July (if he was able to throw more than 80 pitches), and this is only March!

So, I don't know about you, but I will be positioned comfortably on my couch tonight, silently (probably not) pulling for Venezuela to beat Albert Pujols and his fellow Dominicans to advance to the next round.

Monday, March 13



I'm not sure how you all feel, but I'm loving the WBC so far, and I hope it catches on. We've seen upsets, impressive hitting, lights-out pitching, and generally the high calibre of play that you expect from rosters stuffed with major league personality and minor league potential. That being said, I really hope Team USA does not win this tournament.

Contrary to what a lot of people have been saying, I think the Team USA defeat at the hands of Canada was the best thing to happen to this tournament, and definitely Selig's strongest argument in favour of making this the marquee world-wide event that he hopes it will become.

Team USA has been in the spotlight since the rosters were announced, from the hubbub surrounding Alex Rodriguez' allegiance to the heavy favourites tag placed on them by the media. Sure, they were willing to give credence to the power lineup of the Dominican Republic and the speed of Japan, but that was the end of the line.

Now, having witnessed the giants of the US slain at the hands of Canada [and their slew of minor leaguers], the tournament gained new life.

People were watching to see if the USA could still qualify for the next round, and once there, they sweated through a controversial 4-3 victory over Japan. Cuba opened many eyes en route to a 7-2 win over Venezuela. Puerto Rico shook off the Dominican Republic. South Korea battled to a late-night 2-1 victory over Mexico. Dutch pitcher Shairon Martis, currently in the SF Giants farm system, pitched a 7-inning no-hitter against Panama.

Aside from the exciting baseball and eye-opening performances so far, the upset of Team USA gave the tournament the final thing this tournament needed: the giant upset. It’s the hallmark of other major world competitions, and if the WBC is to succeed, it should be no different.

The World Cup in football [I’m sorry, “soccer”] has been around since 1930, and every tournament brings the monumental upsets and defeats that keep defying the odds [and the bookmakers] and that keep the tournament in the spotlight as arguably the world’s biggest sporting event:

1950: USA defeats tournament favourites England 1-0.

1990: Relative unknowns Cameroon defeat the defending World Champions Argentina 1-0 in the tournament’s opening game. Costa Rica defeats Scotland 1-0.

1994: Bulgaria defeat Germany 2-1. Romania shock Argentina 3-2.

1998: Nigeria shock Spain 3-2.

2002: Senegal defeat defending champions France 1-0 in the opening game. USA beats heavily-favoured Portugal 3-2 in Group D. Home country Korea Republic beats Italy and Spain en route to the semi-finals.

There are many more examples to be found, but they all demonstrate the biggest criteria for a tournament to be successful: you need the realistic potential for the big upset. March Madness, the World Cup, the Rugby World Cup, the Olympics; these tournaments succeed not only for their popularity but for their frequent giant-killing headlines.

Canada proved it can be done, and Japan nearly grabbed an upset of its own [denied thanks to a dubious overturned play] against Team USA. While national pride might cause anger and disgust if the US does lose again, it will be momentary compared to what such a defeat means: the future success of the WBC.

Training Spring

The name Patterson still gives me nightmares

Spring Training is kicking along, but I have to admit it's all rather boring. I can't get any games on the radio, and most of the guys we want to see [or at least measure] are either off at the WBC [shame on Team USA for not letting Barrett and Lee come back and train with the Cubs on off-days, considering that the two teams are in the same goddamn state right now], or are being treated with kid gloves to avoid them entering the season with fatigue or wear and tear.

Lee is hitting HRs in the WBC, which is promising, but looking firmly at the Cubs for a second, there are a couple of intriguing stat lines after 10 days of action.

Coming off a good winter, where he was named Rookie of the Year in the Venezuela Winter League [60-for-169, hitting .355, 2 HR, 9 2B, 4 3B, 28 RBI in 45 games], Cedeno has visibly struggled so far in Spring Training, and noticeably so. He's currently 26th in team batting, posting a .188 mark [3-for-16], with 1 RBI and no extra-base hits. Perhaps it's of little consequence given the commonality of players performing at one extreme [good or bad] during Spring Training, only to perform to the other extreme when the regular season begins, but for a rookie with so much pressure already on his shoulders, and the added strain of being the expected starting SS on Opening Day, it's worth reading into a little more.

Bottom line: we need a solid performance this year from Cedeno. He's proven himself in the minor leagues:

AA-West Tenn: .279 BA/.328 OBP/.401 SLG, 6 HR, 48 RBI [116 games]
AAA-Iowa: .355/.403/.518, 8 HR, 36 RBI [65 games]

and has given us little reason to not give him a full season with the Cubs as an everyday player. However, it's definitely a talking point as we reach the midway point in March.

I always worry about Dusty Baker. Despite his "charisma" and fondness for bizarre quotes and soundbites, his fierce allegiance and attitude towards older players has always been a problem for the Cubs. Last year, it was Todd Hollandsworth, Jose Macias and Mike Remlinger. In 2004, it was Tom Goodwin. In 2003, it was Troy O'Leary, Tony Womack and Shaun Estes.

This year could potentially be no different, considering the [possible, pending his contract and current status as a non-roster invitee] arrival of Marquis Grissom and the signing of John Mabry. Both are players who have logged many years trolling around the major leagues, and while still capable of helping the team, they're far from their everyday player days.

The person most likely to suffer as a result of this "veteran favouritism" that Dusty has clung to for many years [there are quotes all over the place to back that up] would be Matt Murton. He's young, he's compiled only 140 at-bats at the major league level [although impressive: 45-for-140, .321 BA/.386 OBP/.521 SLG], and his defense is slowly improving to where it needs to be. All of this evidence makes him a prime candidate for Baker's veteran shuffling and tinkering, and it would be a shame.

Murton, to this point in Spring Training, has done just about everything he could do to prove his worth as the everyday player we all want him to be. He's seeing the ball well [.471 BA/.526 OBP/.765 SLG], is fielding well, and generally showing the spark that should give him the seniority in left field, not the other guys. Let's hope it continues so Dusty's lineup choice is an easy one come Opening Day and beyond.

Thursday, March 2

Dr. Dusty, the man with the plan


The Cubs took their first action of the year yesterday, holding a little intrasquad scrimmage in which the A team beat the B, 9-2. Lee hit a 2-run double and Jacque Jones clubbed two hits off left-handed pitching (note: he's a career .227 against them southpaws), a HR off Rich "Going Down" Hill and a single off Koronka.

Apart from that, the day's media releases were full of medical-esque quotes and insight from the man himself, Dusty B.

On Aramis Ramirez and his aching knees:
"He's fine, but we still have to watch him... most of the time you get hurt when you're tired. We have to build him up to nine innings so he'll be ready when the season starts."

On Todd Walker and his everyday status:
"I've got a game plan.... some of it depends on how healthy Todd feels, how his legs feel. He's still recuperating from last year at the end of the year. With the hard ground down here, it puts pressure on your legs."

On Kerry Wood and Wade Miller, who are both apparently close to throwing to hitters off the mound, and who could be ready for SP duty in May:
"They're looking good -- they're looking real good.... Who knows what you may need [by then]? Before it's over with, who knows? We may need all of them. I've been on teams who look like we have too many, and it's barely enough."