Baseball Diamond News

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Good-Bye Latroy

Well the Cubs have traded Latroy Hawkins and cash considerations to the San Francisco Giants today. This trade makes me happy because Latroy needed to get out of Chicago and I like to two players we have acquired for him, David Aardsma and Jerome Williams. This season Jerome struggled with the Giants and was sent down to the minors to correct his problems, but they seem to have stayed with him in Fresno. If the Cubs keep him in Iowa I hope that he can start to find himself as he is only 23 years old and very good in 2003 and in 2004 was pretty good after struggling at first. If he can get 2 quality starts in a row in Iowa, I would expect the Cubs to call him up instantly, but I expect them allow him time to get back into his groove. David Aardsma was the 22nd pick in the 2003 draft. He was a reliever for his first few years, but the Giants have been trying him as a SP this year in AA and he has looked pretty solid. I think Aardsma will be a late season call-up and he will compete for a spot on the roster in 2006.

Note: The cash compensation the Cubs gave up was 2 million to the Giants to help pay the 3 million owed to him the rest of season.

More Injures

Mark Prior was hit by a sizzling liner yesterday of the bat of Brad Hawpe and it looked painful. The first reports were that the X-ray's were negative and you could hear Cub fans let out a sigh of relief. Then about 3 hours later we got a report that the MRI taken revealed a hairline fracture and you could hear us Cub fans moan in pain. Then this morning I read a report that it was just a compression fracture and not a hairline fracture. According to the Cub's trainer there is no specific timetable for Prior's return, but when he gets a full range of motion without pain the Cubs can go from there. Now I wish it was only a bruise, but I feel that Prior was very lucky not to have shattered his elbow. If Prior had shattered his elbow, the chances of Prior ever coming back from that might have been nil. The rumor I hear now is that Todd Wellymeyer will take Prior's spot in the rotation. I know that Todd can't replace Prior's ability, but the way he has been pitching since his last call-up I think this is the smart move. Hopefully Todd can keep it up and give the Cubs some quality starts and keep them in contention until the starters can come back.
It is also being reported that Kerry Wood has been throwing pain free and might be able to come back in a month. If Wood can pitch more effectively after coming back this would be a big boost for the team, but Dusty needs to keep him on a short leash for a while. The Cubs need to baby Kerry for a while since he has a history of arm problems and the last thing they need after Prior's injury is to completely blow out Woods arm/shoulder.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Happy Birthday

I just want to make a quick post saying happy birthday to my wife today. She never reads this, but maybe one day she will :-). So Happy Birthday Kelly.

Crazy idea

After watching the last few games, I have seen teams put a shift on verse Jeromy Burnitz leaving the 3rd base line wide open. Here is my crazy idea, Jeromy Burnitz should lay down a bunt every once in a while. What you say? Well Jeromy is not the fastest guy on the team, but he also is not the slowest either. Lately the 3rd baseman is playing where the SS usually plays and if Jeromy can practice his bunting (as I am sure he has not done it in a while) maybe he can catch them off guard and get a hit by bunting once in a while. Also this might lead teams to reduce their shift verse him and when he swings away he can get the ball through the gaps that would have been covered with the shift. Now I am not saying that this should become a big part of Jeromy’s arsenal, but every once in a while could be a benefit for him and the Cubs.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

3 in a row

I went to the game again tonight thanks to my buddy John again. I am very excited that I got to see Clemens pitch tonight as this might be the last time I get to see him live and he was as masterful as ever. Unfortunately for him and for me (but not the Cubs) Clemens had to leave after the 5th inning with a tightness in his right groin. I hope he is ok because even though he is not getting wins, he is having one of the best seasons ever for a starting pitcher minus the run support. Clemens has pitched 68 innings this year, given up 41 hits, 19 walks, has 69 k’s and now an 1.19 ERA, but is only 3-2 to show for it.

When I saw the starting lineup I didn't understand why Corey wasn't starting after getting a hit in his last 5 at-bats until I heard that his hand was sore from the collision. The result of this was that both Enrique Wilson and Nefi Perez both had to start and the offense struggled to get going until the 8th inning.
The Cubs got lucky to overcome 2 bad defensive plays in the 4th inning. First Jason Dubois looked awful on the fly ball hit by Biggio that ended up a double. Jason is not known for his defense, but he needs to learn where the wall is and be less afraid, that is a ball that should have been caught. To defend him though, Moises Alou would have most likely missed that ball also. Then 2 batters later with 1 out and Biggio on second and Todd Self on third, Mike Lamb hit a grounder to Derek Lee and instead of taking the sure out at 1st, Lee threw home and Self was safe by a mile. If Lee had taken the sure out the inning would have been over with the next better, but instead Biggio scored on Ensberg's ground out.
I have to give props again to Jeromy Burnitz as he came through in the clutch again getting a base hit to give the Cubs the lead for the 2nd night in a row. He is another player that has exceeded my expectations and in the next few days, I am going to finish my article I have been writing on him vs. Sammy this year.

David Crouthers hangs them up

The pitcher the Cubs received in the Sammy Sosa deal David Crouthers has decided to retire. To me this is actually good news. Why you ask? I was always down on Crouthers and now the Cubs will get compensation in a different player from the Orioles. Now I am sure the guy they get won't be much more than a low tier prospect, but maybe the Cubs can try and get a younger pitcher that they can work with who has a little more potential than Crouthers ever had.

Added Note:
I have been out of town and did not read this until just now from InsideTheIvy. Steve Holley wrote an article with the story of David retiring at the end.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Go Cubs!!

I was out of town the last few days in LA for my cousin Annette's wedding. I didn't have much time to write while I was gone. I went to the Dodgers-Angels game on Saturday, but I will write about that in a different column.
I also went to the Cubs game tonight and sat in section 202 thanks to my friend John Scarano who called me up this afternoon and offered me his tickets. Thanks John, great game.
Dubois came through big for the Cubs Sunday verse the White Sox by hitting that 3-run homer in the 6th inning to help them win. Then today he made a nice throw from LF to throw out Ensberg at 2b. Maybe Dusty has been reading people's blogs, as Jason has started 9 of the last 11 games and has started to play much better the last couple. Also tonight Glendon was superb, and he has exceeded my expectations so far this year and has been a bright spot in what so far has been a disappointing season.
Cub fans during the game got a scare today when Jeromy Burnitz and Corey Patterson ran into each other. Corey stayed down on the ground for a moment, but then hopped back up and ran off the field. He then got a single the next inning only to be picked off first base with Glendon at bat. Corey did his best to make up for it with a homer later.
Dempster came in tonight and looked very sharp. He faced 3 batters (Biggio, Berkman, Ensberg) and retired them all on 3 pitches. Hopefully he can keep it up and Borowski and Wuertz can be the setup men. This might help bring some stability to the pen, while letting Ohman, Bartosh, Remlinger, Hawkins fight it out for the other innings.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Enrique Wilson??

I stated in an earlier column that if Ronny Cedeno was not going to play that I thought it best he would be sent down. Well the Cubs sent him down today, but in doing so they went out and signed Enrique Wilson. Enrique has not shown any ability with the bat since 2000 and even that year it was less than 275 pa's. I hope that the Cubs do not put Wilson and Perez on the field at the same time because it would be an instant formula to kill the Cubs offense. Also off the bench Wilson does not provide much support defensively either.
The Cubs need to trade for a veteran player to help at SS or even come of the bench. This signing seems the Cbus are grasping at straws and I have a feeling they are going to get as much from Wilson as they did from Rey Ordonez last year. Assuming Baker inserts Hollandsworth back into starting lineup (very likely), the Cubs bench looks like this: Blanco, Macias, Dubois, Fontenot, Wilson and Grieve. This is a very pathetic bench, let's review them: Dubois is not much of a bench player and needs to play everyday to be more consistent, Blanco is ok for a backup catcher with his expertise is on defense, Macias should not even be on the roster, Fontenot needs more time to mature or needs to be on a bench that would not depend on him, Grieve who over the last couple years has become exclusively a pinch-hitter and well I already talked about Wilson above.
In a minor note Chad Fox was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear room on the 40 man roster so that the Cubs could sign Wilson.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Prospect Report III: Richard Lewis

Richard Lewis was the 40th pick overall by the Atlanta Braves in the June 2001 draft. In his 3 years in the Atlanta Braves system, Lewis underachieved with the only thing that he did was steal bases and even that was under 80% successful. He was traded to the Cubs last off-season along with Andy Pratt for Juan Cruz and Steve Smyth. At the time of the trade Pratt was the more valuable of the 2 and some just considered Lewis a throw in with not much hope of making Cubs in the future. Well Pratt flopped and Lewis excelled enough to be considered the Cubs 12th best prospect by Baseball America. In his second year in AA (first with the Cubs) Lewis finally showed the hitting ability he showed at Georgia Tech. In 99 games, Lewis batted .327.391/.532 with West Tennessee and then was called up to Iowa. Lewis played 31 games at Iowa and batted .239/.274/.402 before he broke his ankle sliding into 2nd base. His major problem all season offensively is that he struck out too much, in both AA and AAA combined he drew 41 walks while striking out 115 times.
This season though his star has dimmed again. Lewis is in Iowa (AAA) and in 112 pa's is batting .205/.294/.229 with 10 walks and 23 strikeouts. He is also not stealing as much, but that is probably a result of his recovering speed from his broken ankle. If Lewis does not turn it around soon, he can expect his future with the Cubs to end very soon as they have a clone of him Mike Fontenot who is actually now on the Cubs bench.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Carlos Zambrano

If Carlos Zambrano's MRI comes up with a blown arm, I am calling for all CUB Fans to call for Dusty's head (he should be fired for many other reasons also). Over the last 3 years Dusty has abused the Zambrano's arm (and all the other sp's for that matter) and has not listened to anyone about reducing his starting pitchers pitch counts. The other day Dusty was afraid to go to the pen with a 2-1 lead, so he kept Zambrano in the game to finish up with a total of 136 pitches being thrown to bring his average up to 111.4 pitches per game. Then in Zambrano's next start what happens, well after cruising through the first 3 innings in the 4th Zambrano started to struggle and then left with what the Cubs team as an alignment similar to "tennis elbow". I am hoping that it is nothing more than that, but knowing the Cubs history of lying and hurting their SP's arms I don't have much faith in it.
If Zambrano is out for an extended period of time the Cubs will be lucky to finish above .500 this season because of the other injuries, some of their below talent players on the team and the horrible manager on the team.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Time to replace Nefi.

I have to say April was an amazing month by Nefi Perez and the Cubs couldn't have asked for anything more. In April he hit .368/.403/.559 which earned him his starting spot during the month of April, but just for April. Nefi has never been known for his batting and one great month shouldn't make people forget that Nefi Perez is well Nefi Perez. This month Nefi is batting .175/.233/.300 which is bad even for Nefi and to make matters worse Dusty has him batting 2nd in the order. This is when GM Hendry needs to acquire a SS (maybe Polanco or Cintron) or Dusty should bench Nefi and put in Ronny Cedeno for a few games and see how he does. There is no reason for Cedeno to be on the major league roster if all he is doing is sitting on the bench and collecting dust. If the Cubs are going to stay with Nefi Perez as there SS, hopefully Dusty Baker will get smart and decide to bat him 8th or even 9th in the order.

Friday, May 13, 2005

IBL:Report 4 Weeks

Well I have just finished playing in the 4th week of our simulation league IBL (which we currently have 2 good teams open if interested send me an email) and my team is 13-10 with one game snowed out. My team is underperforming in hitting and both Oswalt and TEX Cordero struggling to get outs. I am positive that both my pitchers will start to turn around as they both have pretty decent cards and it is only a matter of time that they get better. The hitting well I am not too sure about. My buddy Chris gave me some advice, make all combinations of 3 in order and see how which ones look to compliment each other best, so I am going to try this weekend. I have tried many different combinations and different strategies, but things just haven't clicked.

A major blow to my team happened in the 1st week; I lost Mark Grudzielanek for the season. He has a major injury rating and was on deck and was hit by a broken bat, and unfortunately I rolled over 900 on the injury roll and now he out for the year. He was a key piece to my offense and had a very decent range D and to lose him for 158 games, plus playoffs (if I make it) is going to be tough to replace.

Please no Remlinger

First let me say happy birthday to my good buddy Mike Marron who turns 32 today. Happy Birthday.

Today I opened to page 3 of the sports section in the Tribune and saw that the Cubs are considering putting Remlinger in at closer if Dempster is not ready. I can't express how bad of an idea this is. When has Remlinger looked good in a Cubs uniform? I know he was very effective in Atlanta, but since coming to the Cubs he has been hurt and very ineffective, so why put him in at closer? I'd rather see him throw Bartosh in that situation and I am not very high on Bartosh. Hopefully Dempster's arm will be fine (I can't believe I am saying that) and we won't have to go through the experience of Remlinger as closer.

On another note, Joe Borowski activation might have taken a small setback due to rain. He was suppose to pitch back-back to games, but the was only able to get one out in the second game before it was rained out. In the first game Borowski also struggled for the first time since being activated. He is scheduled to pitch back-back again this weekend and then hopefully he will be activated (again can't believe I am saying this) and help out our struggling pen.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Dempster- What are the Cubs thinking?

Well I still don't understand putting Dempster in the pen. My philosophy is that if your starters can't keep you in the game why do you need a closer? What really gets me is that Dempster was suppose to start on Monday and it wasn't until Sunday that the Cubs decided to drop him from the start and put him in pen. This would be ok, but they had no one to start for them and in the minors the only guy ready to start was Leceister. Wouldn't it have been smarter to let Dempster start Monday and then with the day off on Wednesday he might have been ready on Thursday as long as Baker kept the pitch count down on Monday (but that would make too much sense). Well we know the results of what happened in that game, he gave up some early runs and the Cubs never got back into it. Then in mop-up duty Dempster got hid hard. Then the next day Dempster goes in for the save opportunity and blows it. I have a feeling we will see a lot more of that from Dempster also. I know teams would love to find the next Eckersley or Gagne, but Ryan Dempster will become neither of them.
Now I don't know who to blame for this decision, Dusty Baker or the wonderful (sarcastic) GM Hendry. I am thinking that Hendry had some say in the matter, but I also have the feeling Dusty had no objections.

Prospect Report: II: Bobby Brownlie

I know I promised this Sunday, but I was out of town for a wedding and then ended up staying in Cincinnati for a night to watch the Dodgers beat the Reds.

The Cubs Drafted Brownlie in 2002 in the 1st round with the 21st pick of the draft. At the time he was considered the top pitching prospect in draft and fell that far due to signability issues. When drafted he had a 12-6 curve ball and a fastball that was consistently in the low 90's and sometimes could reach 96-97 mph. He did well his first season in the minors while being on a limited inning count due to arm problems in past. Last year his fast ball lost velocity and was in the 87-90 mph. In Baseball America he fell out of the top 10 Cubs prospects this year and hasn't done much this season to prove them wrong. This season the Cubs decided that Brownlie should be in Iowa and he has been getting hit hard when he is not walking people. In 6 starts this season he has gone 34.1 innings this year he has given up 33 hits, 15 walks, 20 k's, 3 wp and has an ERA of 5.77. His latest start did produce a little better results: 6 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks and 5 k's. While not by any means a dominating start, it is better compared to overall stats for season. Hopefully the Cubs can get him back on track because despite all the raving of their minor league pitching the Cubs sure do seem to be losing a lot to injury or to just disappointments.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Pen Management?

Time for more complaining about Dusty Baker. I figured I'd start a new article.

Someone on the bench needs to teach Dusty how to manage pitching. He has no idea what a pitch count is. Then he loves to ride a guy in the pen until his arm is tired and sucks it up. Currently that relief pitcher is Michael Wuertz. In 27 games, Michael Wuertz has appeared in 16 of them. That probably means he has warmed up in 4 more games that he did not come in. Even if you average 1 inning a game, that is way too much to pitch a guy. The fatigue is starting to show on Wuertz as in his last couple of appearances he has been a little more erratic and his pitches just not as sharp. At this pace Wuertz will appear in about 95 games and knowing Dusty Baker he just might make it. I understand the Cubs pen is in shambles, with Fox getting hurt, Remlinger sucking up the place, Bartosh who is nothing more than a mop-up guy, Leceister was sent back down, Novoa is a waste of space and then Latroy Hawkins well who has not lived up to expectations, but you need to find a way to manage it better than just keep throwing the same guy from the pen out there or even worse letting your starters throw 115+ pitches a game. Some of the blame does need to go to the GM for not being prepared and foreseeing that the pen needed an overhaul. The one thing that might help is that Joe Borowski is coming back soon, though I know he will most likely not be on par of 2003, hopefully he can come back and be serviceable.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Lots of news

Well it has been a while since my last update. I have been swamped at home and other things in life. Every time I have wanted to sit down and write something another thing has come up. So where to begin. I owe everyone a prospect update, so on Sunday, Monday and Thursday I will do one for the weeks I am behind and be caught up.

Kerry Wood shoulder is injured again and they say he is going to be out up to 5 weeks. Call me a cynic, but I don't think they are telling us the truth. I have a feeling it is worse than they are letting on, but we will see. I was telling my buddy the other night before he got hurt it looked like something was wrong. Not with the way he was throwing it, but the way everyone was just connecting with his pitches, had speed just no movement. In the absence of Wood the Cubs will bring up Wellemeyer to go to the pen and bring Glendon Rusch to the rotation. While I am very happy with the work that Glendon did last year I am very pestimistic of him even coming remotely close to doing that again. I am sure he will have a few good outings followed by a lot of bad outings. I hope he proves me wrong, but I understand at the moment they don't really have many other options. Boy, Matt Clement would be nice to have right about now.

Also when is Dusty Baker going to manage? He is awful and never looks to have a plan or know what he is doing. I understand the Cubs have a lot of money tied up in his contract and don't want to fire him, but he has been awful. Yesterday with the game tied in the 9th, he let Robert Novoa (who has been awful since being brought up) go out there and walk in the winning run (which is inexcusable as a pitcher) because he is afraid to put in Latroy. So what happens the very next day, same situation going into 9th, but now he put in Latroy and we still lose on a bloop single that Hairston almost caught (and maybe should have). I am very glad he didn't put Novoa out there in today's game, but why do it in the previous game? Decisions like those kill the Cubs.

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