Monthly Archives: May 2007

How do we end the drought?

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As I Cub fan I wonder why I watch the games?  Why do I sit in the stands, order a $7 hot dog and watch sub-standard baseball?  I was asking myself this very question as the Marlins, on a warm night at Wrigley with the wind blowing out, slaughtered the Cubs 9-0.  I mean it is not like the players suck.  Soriano, Lee and Ramirez have many all-star games and MVP type numbers between them.  They have one of the better offensive catchers in baseball.  They have two very good up and coming players in Theriot and Murton.  They have solid role players fill out the roster in Jones, Izturis, Blanco, Ward, DeRosa and Floyd.  It is not like it is a roster of has-beens and rookies.  They have a Cy Young candidate in Carlos Zambrano and three other solid starters in Hill, Marquis and Lily.  And finally the relief was supposed to be the back bone of the team.  Wuertz, Ohman and Cotts locking it down in the middle innings and Eyre, Howry and Dempster were supposed to lock it down on the back end.

Now I must admit, I had this team finishing behind Milwaukee anyway because they appeared to be a more complete team.  A team that has been in the works for several years.  However, with the Brewers hitting a skid you would think you would saddle up the horses and get serious.  If the Cubs make a run over the last two weeks they are a mere game or two out of first place.  However they won 2 games in there last 10 and are now having super secret meetings behind closed doors to fix the problem.  Even the players are closing doors too to talk about why they can’t catch the mighty Brewers and how much they suck.

What’s the problem? Where’s the problem? Who’s the problem? How do we fix it? tend to be the weekly questions from saviour #4 (Frey, Zimmer, Baker and now LOU P.).  Judging by the piss poor performance last night they should have closed the doors at Addison and Clark so people couldn’t get in to witness the horror.  WIND BLOWING OUT!!!  SERGIO MITRE ON THE MOUND!!!  Any baseball fan is thinking at least 6 or 7 runs minimum for the Cubs.  However it was a bloodbath as Sergio “Leatherface” Mitre cut down batter after batter.  I had to close my eyes.

Seeing as Hendry, Lou and the players are having a difficult time finding solutions to the horror film called “Cubs 2007 Season”, let me offer a few up for them.  At this point it can’t hurt.  Maybe they should have a few old school fans come into the clubhouse and unleash hell. 

What’s the problem?  This question has multiple answers and none of them are really wrong but let’s narrow it down to a few.  #1 LINE UP.  It helps to have a set line up every night.  All the great teams do.  I could set my watch by the Cubs line up in 1989 and 1984.  Guys go through slumps and need to work through them.  Other guys just need to heat up and can’t do that from the bench.  PLAY YOUR BEST PLAYERS and keep them in the line up.  #2 MIDDLE RELIEF SUCKS.  I am not sure I have much of a solution as much as this is just an observation.  Our starts go 6 or 7 innings and turn it over to the bullpen who has been delivering pitches to opposing batters on a silver platter for two months.  They have lost 11 ONE RUN GAMES and 6 more TWO RUN GAMES.  If the bullpen does the job in most of those games we are running away with the division Boston style with a 36-17 record.  #3 THE ORGANIZATION.  Fans need to understand we have a lame duck organization right now.  Lou is pretty much the only guy with any sort of job security.  Zambrano can’t get a deal.  McDonough and Hendry have enough of a budget to keep the team in business and will not be adding to the already 7th largest payroll in baseball.  If anything you are looking at fire sale for the team sale. 

Where’s the problem?  I kind of addressed that above.  The relief staff, organization and hitters.  They don’t know how to run the bases.  The defense is near the bottom of the league and they don’t know how to steal a base.  These are facts and Lou is the only man in the Windy City that can turn these things around.  However these are the same problems we had under Baylor and Baker.  Maybe these players are just freaking stupid.  In that case Lou should baby them and teach them the fundamentals all over again.  He should be good at that.  He was a babysitter for several years in Tampa Bay. 

Who’s the problem?  That is a tough question too but I have some ideas.  #1 Zambrano.  With every start he looks less like Cy Young and more like Irv Young.  #2 Soriano.  Alfonso is supposed to be this 40-40 guy.  Well he at the current pace he might hit 20 homers and get 80 RBI.  Not exactly worth his massive contract which is equal to 15% of the franchises overall value.  #3 Hendry.  You pay $4 million for DeRosa to play 2nd base when you already had Ryan Theriot.  You had needs in the bullpen and truck everyone back from last year’s shit team except for Neal Cotts who has already been sent to the minors.  You need a lead off man to replace Pierre and we get NOTHING.  Lead off by committee?  Yes, that will win a division.  Felix Pie is rotting in the minors because they give him 49 at-bats and tell him he’s not ready.  Instead we will watch balls bounce all over the outfield while he gets “experience.”  #4 Lou P.  Yes Lou, you deserve part of the blame.  First of all you said that spring training was going to be old school and you were going to focus on fundamentals.  Yet, I see basing running errors, mis-played balls, wild pitches and undisciplined hitters and think that you must have meant to say FUN FOR MENTALS!  You also need a consistent line up.  I have mentioned this already.  You also need to lose it.  Granted it isn’t going to necessarily make anyone hit or pitch better but managers have done it over time and it works more than it doesn’t as a motivation tactic.  It is a theory more than a fact.  So Lou, run out on the field, bump an ump, kick some dirt, toss a base and go into a curse filled tirade that would make Lee Elia proud.  #5 Ownership.  Sam Zell, I think, is the owner of the Cubs.  You wouldn’t know it though.  All other owners in this town are pretty vocal and out there.  Even Bill Wirtz who is the worst EVER can be seen waddling here and there, convinced keeping the Hawks home games off of TV is the solution to everything.  Zell has been invisible since the purchase.  And why not!  If I had a shit ass team with a HUGE payroll I don’t think I would want to be to visible either.  Besides he is a Sox fan and he bought the Tribune to sell it off in chunks.  This means the season is lost no matter what else happens.

How do we fix it?  Well, I hate to say sell all used parts on Ebay for a Big Bird sprinkler and can of Turtle Wax but you may need to subtract to add.  Since day one I have been advocating the trade of Carlos “Hot Head” Zambrano.  He would easily bring a veteran starter and one or two young prospects in return.  Let’s face it, the minor league system needs an infusion of talent.  I would also consider dealing J. Jones and Floyd.  The Cubs have two young studs (Pie and Tyler Colvin) chomping at the bit to come up to the big club and they can’t because the old, overrated guys are still there.  Jones and Floyd won’t be able to get much but you might get a decent prospect or two for them.  Deal Howry and Eyre.  We are paying SOOOO much for these two clowns.  They had one good season each and we are paying them each $3 million per year.  You can get a decent 4th or 5th starter for that kind of money.  After subtracting you add FAs in 2008 like Minnesota 2nd baseman Luis Castillo who always hits .300, gets on base and steals.  You also add a couple of quality starters for the back end of the rotation like Minnesota’s Carlos Silva, Philadelphia’s Freddy Garcia and/or Cardinals Kip Wells.  Finally I would spend BIG MONEY for Minnesota Closer Joe Nathan who is a free agent this season.  He is lights out and, no offense to Dempster, but he is nothing more than a set up guy.  Nathan is the best closer in baseball.  So, my solution is…WHITE FLAG IT. 

 That’s right.  Unload a few big salaries and headaches and concentrate on having a great team in 2008 with a combination of young talent and stud vets.  By next season new ownership should be in place so you can secure key free agents (Michael Barrett) and sign some new ones (Castillo and Nathan).  Besides, wouldn’t it be fun to finally win it all on the 100th anniversary since our last.  Ahhh, the memories.

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Review of the CHICAGO BEARS Draft and more

By request I have been asked to review the Bears picks. I thought they did really well.  An over grade of B and #8 out of the 32 NFL teams. TE Greg Olsen – Great pick.  I liked a TE at this pick and who knew Olsen would be there.  Thanks New Orleans.  He should be a 60 catch, 700 yard and 10 TD receiver.  He will become Grossman’s favorite target by mid-season. DE Dan Bazuin – This was an OK pick.  OT Ryan Harris from ND and LB Quincy Morgan were on the board.  I was hoping they would have gone that direction.  Even so, Bazuin is a nice role player.  He will be a pass down rushing specialist off the edge or at tackle if he adds 10 pounds. RB Garrett Wolfe – Once again just an OK kind of pick.  He will be 3rd string behind Bensen and A.P. I think his value comes on special teams.  On kickoffs you can put him back there with Hester and on punts play him up a bit in case teams squib the punt.  He is a decent receiver too.  They could run some screen sets with him.  He is 5’8″ tall, can you imagine how hard it is going to be for teams to pick him up. LB Michael Okwo – I wasn’t sure about this pick at first.  Then, after some research I decided he is pretty much a clone of Lance Briggs.  Same kind of linebacker, same college conference and same physical make up.  Even if Lance plays in 2007, this guy is your weakside backer in 2008. G Josh Beekman – How the hell was he still available in this draft.  He was ranked 3rd overall as a center and 5th overall as a guard.  His arms are a bit short and the footwork needs improvement but he should make the team.  He will start at G in 2008 and may succeed Olin in 2009. S Kevin Payne – Another guy that fell and I am not sure why.  He is from a smaller program but he flies around the field and whacks on receivers.  He is kind of like a Mike Brown Jr. and may start for the Bears in 2008.  He will also contribute on special teams. CB Corey Graham – I like this pick.  He is a little small but he has top end speed.  He may challenge Wesley for his job this season.  He will also contribute on special teams. CB Trumaine McBride – He has no chance to make the team.  He is small and has average speed.  He will be cut.    OT Aaron Brandt – He is a development squad player.  He is massive 6’6″, 330 pounds and fast.  He will need work on his technique and they might consider moving him inside. FREE AGENTS QB Chris Leak – I have heard draft specialist after draft specialist bag on this kid.  He performed and won a national title.  To me that is worth a look.  If Grossman continues his incosistent play they will need a new leader and that is what Chris is, a positive leader on and off the field. RB Darius Walker – I was saying 3 months ago they needed to get Darius Walker.  Well, now they have him and they should be happy about it.  I think he came out of school a little early and good have been a 2nd or 3rd round pick in next year’s draft.  He is a development squad player and becomes a factor in 2008 if Bensen can’t stay healthy or if Wolfe doesn’t work out.  WR David Ball – He wiped out almost all of Jerry Rice’s records for a reason, he is good.  The only issue is level of competition.  We will have to see if he can make the big leap to the next level.  He has the potential to unseat Bradley and Davis. WR Jayson Swain – I thought he was a great competitior at U of T.  I am not sure there were too many receivers in college ball last year that were a bigger threat after the catch than Swain.  He is a very exciting player that I had as a 5th round value.  He should make the team with Ball.  This means a current Bears receiver is on the outs. 

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