Hairy Predicaments

For someone that crossed him earlier in the season with some unappreciated comments about playing time, Dusty Baker of late has been showing an awful lot of loyalty to Jerry Hairston Jr, and it's somewhat hard to work out just why. Hairston has become a regular in the outfield, and while that was slightly desirable earlier in the year for a lack of better options, things have since changed with the emergence of Matt Murton. Dusty, who was far too slow moving Hairston into the lineup at the expense of the ill-fated Jason Dubois and Todd Hollandsworth arrangement, is now too slow getting him back out. Jerry Hairston is a very fine utility player. He's also a very decent second baseman, though Walker is comfortably better. But there is one thing that Hairston's not, and that's an outfielder. The biggest problem really is that he plays the outfield like an infielder. As a result of spending a lifetime dealing with grounders and popups, his handling of flyballs off the bat, in terms of reads and jumps, is poor. To try and compensate for that, or perhaps because it's what he's done all his life in the infield, his initial reaction is invariably to step in. On occasions, that can help him get to shallower flies, and he's even not too bad going from side to side, for certainly Hairston can run when he stretches his legs. But anything over his head, and Hairston's original forward motion, combined with the sideways then back routes that he then takes, promises either Hairston getting his body into shapes you never knew were possible or, more often, the ball landing untouched and rolling to the wall for extra bases. Hairston also has very much a second baseman's arm, leading to players as unrenowned for their speed as Albert Pujols tagging up from first to take second on flyball outs that don't even come close to making the warning track. It's just not pretty and it's costing the Cubs a lot of runs. Then there's the issue of his bat. Hairston over the last three years has managed a .278/.355/.381 line, which is exactly bang in line with what his peripherals suggest is his natural level. That uncanny ability to get on-base should not be underestimated. That said, his complete lack of power, while not as much of a factor as long as he's stationed at second base, becomes a significant problem if he's going to play the outfield. While the average NL second baseman this year has hit .278/.340/.414, relative to which Hairston's numbers don't come out at all unfavourably (and Walker's come out extremely well), the average NL left fielder this year has hit .272/.346/.460. Those eighty points of slugging mean that Hairston's bat simply doesn't stack up in the outfield, and it never will. That and his glove ought to have the Cubs very much on the lookout for a better option in left field (and his glove ought to preclude any ideas of him playing centre field, where Burnitz would be a far better option if push came to shove). It quickly became obvious that Jason Dubois wasn't such a better option in left field, and that's why Hairston first got a job out there. Matt Murton though is a different ballplayer to Dubois, and one that Dusty needs to now be giving the playing time. We know that Hairston can do out there, and we know that it's not good enough. Murton's not a top prospect, but he has the tools - the ability to hit for average, and very advanced strike zone judgement - to fashion a solid Major League career. He's done with the minors, and he deserves his shot. Speaking of the minors, Corey really should have remained put there. Since his return from Iowa, Patterson has essentially picked up where heíd left off before his demotionÖ
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Itís all very well criticising Corey for such lamentable performance, and he deserves it since heís so oblivious to whatís best for him, but the Cubs apparently donít know any better, and thatís the greater crime. It was essential that Corey stayed at Iowa until heíd learnt the necessary new hitting processes - recognising balls and strikes, being more selective, laying off the high fastball, going the other way and not pulling everything, and so on ñ and not only learnt them, but had them stick so tight that he wouldnít ever be able to shake them off again if he tried. The new processes needed to become second-nature. They also needed to yield results, the kind of results thatíd make even Corey sit up, take notice and once again have confidence in his own ability, a real and unflappable self-belief. Only then would he once again be ready for the big time. When Corey was recalled he was nowhere near that point. As a result, the Corey we see now is no different to the one that was dispatched to Iowa in July with his tail between his legs. He can still run, he can still field and he can still throw, but at the plate heís a man convinced of his swing and miss fate before the pitcherís even come set. Baseball is a game of failure, but Corey has become enveloped and overwhelmed by his failings. For Corey then, the best thing now would be to not play another game all year, to not see another game all year, to not think about another game all year, to become as removed from the game of baseball as possible. Extradition to England for five months at the Cubsí expense with immediate effect could do the trick. Then, come January, say, let the overhaul of his game begin once again, and let it not be interrupted until itís complete. Thereís no guarantee itíll ever be completed, that itíll ever work, but itís increasingly looking like the only chance he has right now of a worthwhile Major League career. Heck, right now, Iíd almost rather have Hairston in centre field. Better yet, let Adam Greenberg build on his 1.000 career OBP in the big leagues. Or, if you want him to enjoy the Southern League playoffs, call up Calvin Murray. Or Ben Grieve to play right, and shift Burnitz to centre. I don't care, just do something.
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"I've got to play him enough because he's not going to get any better sitting on the bench," Baker said. "I'm trying to spot-play him. I want to play [Matt Murton] against certain guys that I know he's got a chance against hitting. We're just trying to get something to build on."

cubs.com

So, some people get better on the bench (rookies) while others can't learn a things on the bench (KKKPat, Neifi, MaciASS) It reminds me of that song..."i can see clearly now the rain is gone"

Dusty's got a career in politics waiting for him. He is the absolute master of "double-talk".

I openly loathe this team.

Well hariston can hit inside pitching, thats one up on Murton.

"He is the absolute master of "double-talk"."

The fact that so many people have (finally) figured him out leads me to believe that he wouldn't have such a great career in politics. The folks in SF took a long time to figure him out. We only took 2.5 years as a whole. I hope the Dodgers fans take a long time as well.

other than that, how was the theatre, mrs. lincoln? this place is pretty boring/depressing, it's the same complaints every day. let's look at the water still in the glass.

GOOD THINGS to take from 2005:

- sosa is gone

- wood has finally reached his crossroads

- got jerome williams fer nuthin

- matt murton could be the next dave magadan

- barrett proves to be a good MLB catcher, at least with the bat

- blanco proves to be a good MLB backup catcher

- the 1B and 3B are awesome, and locked up contractually

- burnitz's demeanor has been very refreshing in the alou/sosa aftermath

- a lot of young bullpen arms got their feet wet

- baker used up a lot of excuses this year and exhausted his 2003 capital, which bodes well for the future

- pie was promoted and continued to hit well

I'm sure there are some others, we can think of them if we try.

"I'm sure there are some others, we can think of them if we try."

We are still better than the Pirates.

I find absolutely NO NOBILITY in thinking of good things about the 2004 - 2005 Cubs. If a friend had a knife in his eye, and continuously complained to the doctor of his pain, would you scold him and list off how his other limbs and organs are functioning okay?

This organization is total horseshit and the majority of the fanbase can see it pretty clearly. Talk of extensions to Baker and Hendry are incredibly ludicrous. Baker is an undiagnosed Borderline/Narcissist in constant dialogue with the press in a manner that any other manager in history would be ashamed of . . . the team has floundered . . . we are ending another season of disappointment and we have players (Walker) attacking TV announcers again (at least this time it isn't our own!).

No more apologies anyone who supports the current Cubby management/front office is a masochist.

This organization sucks and it is heartbreaking for anyone who cares about the cubs, recognizes the window of opportunity has been squandered by a freak imbecile of a maner, and has any insight at all into human nature.

Talk of extensions are beyond insane.

This team sucks.

I have more fun in my divorce proceedings than watching a Baker-run ball club. ANd I am not kidding at all.

off-season pickups NOT made would be another good topic...thank goodness Hendry didn't give a bad contract to:

- dan kolb

- troy percival

- todd helton (sending them d.lee for him, no less!)

- armando benitez

- jd drew (on pace for his usual 300-400 ABs)

- carlos beltran

- ivan rodriguez

"I'm sure there are some others, we can think of them if we try."

No upper deck concrete fell on fans.

reposted and updated...from previous thread.

(to John Hill, I loved your writeup on this topic)

So Cedeno might have missed a sign. Is this as criminal as playing CPat for a two weeks without a hit? Now we'll see Neifi 6 days out of 7.

So Hairston missed a sign...well in this case we will see if that's a crime enough to get Dustbuster to play a rookie more than 1-2 days out of 7.
---
Maybe they missed a sign.

Of course if Hairston is back in the dog house, Dustbuster will be forced to play Murton.

or is Dusty's sign to the fans a raised middle finger?

Baker seethes over more sign miscues
Hairston, Cedeno, Walker singled out for basepath blunders

"We keep going over them and over them and over them," Baker fumed. "It seems like the same guys are missing signs. You keep going over them, but you ought to have the signs by Sept. 5."

Great, here's the new plan: all Macias all the time. He doesn't miss signs, he's just mediocre all the time.

gosh superjimmer, I can't imagine why you'd be involved in a divorce. you seem like a real treat, with the all-or-nothing viewpoint and complete lack of objectivity. oh well. there are a lot of other organizations (red sox, yankees, cardinals and uh...that's it?) who do not have a "knife in their eye".

The only good thing I see coming out of this season is that it, like all others before it, has an end.

I would love to not be a fan of this idiotic team but it's far too late for that. I have been very blessed in all aspects of my life save my favorite baseball team. The Cubs keep me humble. Plus, suffering through these thousands of losses over the past forty years has prepared me for my own end. Can death really be any worse than paying money to see Bill Bonham and Ken Frailing start the two games of a doubleheader? I think not.

Tough year... again.

Cubs in '06!!!!!!!!!

As asinine as Dusty's arguments have been in favor of playing Neifi! at the expense of Cedeno, at least Neifi! is actually a shortstop. You'd think Dusty would get the message after Hendry had traded every other left fielder on the roster, but you'd be wrong. There is simply no rational reason for playing Jerry the Lesser out of position when there is a perfectly good left fielder sitting on the bench. Dusty isn't merely clueless, he's actively resistant to clues. He has no business managing a little league team, let alone a major league ballclub.

As for the glass being half-full, this is not the Milwaukee F. Brewers. This is a major market team with a $100 million payroll. It should be much, much better than it is. Hendry has done some good things, so I'm willing to cut him a little slack. Dusty however, is simply incompetent, and needs to go.

anyone care to decipher this one?

from http://chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/sport...

"Should the Cubs evaluate kids at the expense of trying to win?

"I'm trying to do both," Baker said. "It's a situation where you have to find something to play for. I learned that from Steve Garvey. On days he had a migraine and didn't feel like playing, he played for a sick child or an older person in the hospital or something."

Sheesh, sounds like the team may be watching film of Ronald Reagan in the clubhouse- "Win one for the Gipper!"

http://imdb.com/title/tt0032676/

It's nice to know that Mark Prior has another "injury" excuse.

Why, why, why did Patterson come back and take playing time from Murton? Patterson lives to leave runners on base.

"I learned that from Steve Garvey. On days he had a migraine and didn't feel like playing, he played for a sick child"

Given that there were dozens of little Garveys spread out all across the country, it probably wasn't hard for him.

How many Paternity Suits did Garvey have slapped on him?

So, I've got some tickets to the game tonight...any guesses on who will be starting for us? I would love to see Murton and Cedeno, but after the whole "missing signs" thing, I might just see Murton

>>> "Should the Cubs evaluate kids at the expense of trying to win?"

Chris said:

gosh superjimmer, I can't imagine why you'd be involved in a divorce. you seem like a real treat, with the all-or-nothing viewpoint and complete lack of objectivity. oh well. there are a lot of other organizations (red sox, yankees, cardinals and uh...that's it?) who do not have a "knife in their eye".

Superjimmer:

I had almost no doubt that you would take a cheap shot non-baseball related personal attack and regretted mentioning that as soon as I sent it.

You are all class buddy.

Enjoy your karma mr positive.

"I learned that from Steve Garvey. On days he had a migraine and didn't feel like playing, he played for a sick child or an older person in the hospital or something."

maybe the Cubs can play tonights game in Barnes Hospital

My favorite bumper sticker in late 80's in SoCal-

"Steve Garvey is not my Padre."


(1)"Mark (Prior) got a little tired," Baker said. "His leg was bothering him some, so we thought it was best to get him out of there."

(2)Prior denied his leg was bothering him, then was asked if it had anything to do with him coming out.

"I don't know," he replied."

__________________________________________________

(1)This is the same Dusty Baker who left Carlos Zambrano on the mound last start way past his bedtime in order to "rest the bullpen."??!! But then Dusty has been abusing Z's willingness to pitch all season.

Carlos Zambrano's injuries this year:

April-- blister on index finger after pitching 8.2
May---- tightness in forearm, tennis elbow
June--- sprained left big toe
July--- fields ground ball with pitching hand
August- back stiffness

Most of these injuries led to deterioration of his effectiveness when he made his next start on schedule.

For example,

April 22-Carlos Zambrano left Wednesday's contest one out from a complete game due to a blister on his right index finger, but Cubs manager Dusty Baker said the pitcher should make his scheduled start on Monday, according to the Daily Southtown.

April 26Carlos Zambrano was ejected from Tuesday's game in the fifth inning after hitting Austin Kearns with a pitch immediately following an Adam Dunn homer.

April 27Carlos Zambrano blamed his blistered finger for the pitch last night that hit Austin Kearns and resulted in Zambrano's ejection from the game, according to the Daily Southtown. "I have to throw the ball inside and the ball went out of my hand (wrong) because the blister is still bothering me," he said.

(2)Dusty Baker has been giving reasons for removing starters all year that later were denied by the pitchers themselves (e.g. Zambrano earlier this year). Very strange.

CWTP,

Baker has no clue of what he is doing so he just makes shit up.

John Hill,

On Hairston he is the best thing we have for the 3rd OF spot. Murray can't hit and Grieve is worse in RF then Hairston in CF. Anyways I think Hairston has the only OF assist on a play to the plate this year.

jonatwork,

The lineups I got this morning show Barrett catching. Nomar, Neifi, Walker and Lee are the infield third to first. And the outfield is Hairston, KKKorey, and 'Nitz. Matt Murton will be clearing bats from the ondeck circle. Ronny Cedeno is in charge of keeping the watermelon and pumpkin seed bins full.

Starting Pitchers: Rusch vs. Morris looks like a massive mismatch.

When was Rusch's last win, June?

I didn't want to think Cubs fans loved bad news, but everyone is afraid to admit anything good happened...?

I hope we don't turn into the ugly Red Sox 'nation' pre-WS, with all its self-obsessed moaning and crying. That's not fandom, that's a cry for help.

Superjimmer: if anyone needs a lesson in karma, it's you. The Cubs (and the world) are not out to make you miserable. Relax.

John Hill, your points on Mr. Hairston and Cpat are valid. I like Hairston for his versatility, speed and ob%. A good manager would know how to best use his assets. Going into next year, I'd like the Cubs to keep Hairston as a super sub but given his relationship with Dusty and his own thinking that he's not a utility guy, that probably won't happen. He's very valuable if you bring back Nomar and Cedeno, providing insurance...
I've read alot lately on this board about what should be done for next year. All I can say is when you develop a lineup around what you have, its easy to see what you don't have. That was are problem this year (underachieving offense) and will be next unless we address it. Here's an example:

1. ?-cf?
2. several options-2b?
3. lee
4. ramirez
5. ?rf?
6. several options-Barrett?
7. several options-Murton?
8. several options-cedeno?

The primary reason our offense sputterred was leadoff and #5. Burnitz had a nice year for #6 hitter, just not the productivity you need from a 4 or 5. Same reason DuBois, Hollandsworth, Walker, Barrett, etc...none were not overly productive when hitting in those slots. I'm a little surprised we never tried Walker in the leadoff spot but thats Dusty for you. So, going into next season you have to focus on a 1 and a 5. The 2, 6,7, 8 spots are typically not as hard to find. Murton for example, could probably hit any of those spots. Based on these conclusions, Jaque Jones, Burnitz, Nomar, do provide enough production for the 5 spot in the order. Got a get a big time power guy (adam dunn) and a legit leadoff speed man.

Dusty--- back in August:

When Baker moved Zambrano to the fourth spot in the rotation after the All-Star break, he said Zambrano was puzzled and asked him why he was being moved back. Baker explained that he wanted Zambrano in a spot between Greg Maddux and Jerome Williams, who were less likely to throw seven or eight innings than Mark Prior or, at the time, Kerry Wood.

"That way, if [Zambrano] throws his normal game, he saves my bullpen," Baker said before the game.

How about saving your Ace, Mr. Faker??

John Hill-

You've stolen the words out of my mouth - Patterson really needs to take a very long vacation and then come back with a "clean slate".
Many times in baseball - the harder you work mentally - the more complicated you make things.

I can't believe this organization hasn't realized this. Maybe they did and corey is refusing to abide by the advise -.

by the way, i meant to say that jacque jones, burnitz, nomar do NOT provide enough pop for the 5 hole. they're fine hitters if put in the right spot. maybe there is a risk worth taking on nomar if we have him slated for say the 6th or 7th hole? he was actually supposed to be our 3 this year if you remember.

Carmen,

A healthy Nomar can provide enough pop to hit in the 5 hole. It is the unrealiabilty of his health that is why he should be counted on as a 6th hitter.

MCclendon was fired today.

GOOD THINGS to take from 2005:

- a lot of young bullpen arms got their feet wet

Mayor Daley, is that you? And they said you were a Sox fan.....

- a lot of young bullpen arms got their feet wet

Now there's a cure for our bullpen woes: TINACTIN, Boom! (quoting John Madden)

...now if their noses run and their feet smell, we just have to turn them upside down.

oy veh!

McClendon was fired? That was one of the few teams in baseball where it might have made sense to fire the 25 players instead of the manager. McClendon seemed a little out of control but he must have felt like Custer every day trying to win with the talent he was given.

What are the odds on Dusty making some stupid comment about racism or the lack of black managers...?

Less than the odds of every comment he makes being scrutizined to the nth degree, no matter the subject.

"Less than the odds of every comment he makes being scrutizined to the nth degree, no matter the subject."

Is there anything wrong with a Major League Baseball manager behind held responsible for "every comment he makes"?

Hey bob,

Is Carlos Zambrano's job to "save the bullpen" or win ball games?

IMHO, Under almost any other manager he'd have 15 wins by now and an ERA of 2.50

even with this team.

So Dusty is caught up in another he said the player said situation, now with Prior. And this a player's manager? He who continually plays people out of position, bats them out of their "best" lineup position? Tosses the kids under the bus by telling the press " I did't bunt" or he no "gold glover". Way to go dumba$$. We just can't make this stuff up. Why didn't San Fran uncover this crap? Oh Wait they did. Just late.

scooterÆ

Chris you are all class my man. Go Cubs. I hope the fan base is you and Manny Trillo and that Dusty Baker wins it all for you. Sleep well loser.

ChiFan--"On Hairston he is the best thing we have for the 3rd OF spot. Murray can't hit and Grieve is worse in RF then Hairston in CF. Anyways I think Hairston has the only OF assist on a play to the plate this year."

I disagree both that Grieve's that bad defensively (even if he was, there's a world of difference between being bad defensively in CF and being bad defensively in RF), and he still has considerably more power than Hairston (he hit 19 doubles, a triple and 14 home runs at Iowa this year in 293 at-bats, thereby putting up a slugging percentage 215 points higher than his .266 average. Of course, that's against Triple-A pitching, and the Pacific Coast League is very hitter friendly, so don't expect him to slug .481 in the majors...). I would honestly prefer an outfield of Murton, Burnitz and Grieve to one of Murton, Hairston and Burnitz. And even if you don't want to do that, I don't see why Grieve shouldn't be up in Chicago as at least a pinch-hitting option. Heck, I don't see why Grieve shouldn't have spent the entire year in Chicago as at least a pinch-hitting option.

The biggest reason though that I'd rather have either Calvin Murray (who can't hit for power, sure, but at least he can field his position) or Grieve in the outfield than Hairston at this point, regardless of the fact that if they're better they're not much better, is just because it will represent the end of this stupid Hairston in the outfield experiment, which I don't want to see run into next year. And the Cubs are in a position to bring Hairston back next year, because he's sixth year arbitration eligible. Grieve and Murray meanwhile will most definately not be back, so there's almost no chance that Dusty will be able to stick by them, crusty veterans or not. With Hairston off the table out there, and the likes of Grieve and Murray not around, the Cubs might then have to, God forbid!, pursue actual proper outfielders.

Uh, not sure why the Zambrano thing was addressed to me, so I have nothing to say about that.

No, the manager of any big league team is accountable for what he says/does, that goes with the job. My point is that even the innocuous comments Dusty makes -- and there are plenty of them -- are ripped and dissected to the nth degree by the haters. And I find that ridiculous. Of course, that's my opinion, not one that's shared by the majority of the people here.

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