The Elusive Double-Yew

GAME 50 RECAP
CUBS 7, REDS 3
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart | Photos
W: Kerry Wood (1-) L: Elizardo Ramirez (2-4) S: Ryan Dempster (9)
It had been so long since we'd seen the W flag that I was afraid we'd lost the rights to it. But there it is, in all its glory. I didn't see the game -- I was at a barbecue watching The No Longer Tiny Baby splash around in a wading pool in the 90-degree heat -- but apparently Kerry Wood looked good, and the best thing about the box score was seeing that Todd Walker went 3-for-4 with 3 RBI. Also nice: the Murton-Cedeno tandem going 4-for-8. Not so nice: Tony Womack going 2-for-5. I mean, I'm glad he's not a giant sucking chest wound in the #2 hole, but I cringe every time he gets a hit because that means he's going to play even more. On Sunday I was bemoaning the Cubs to The Lovely Wife, as I am wont to do, and she said she thought this same thing had happened last May, or maybe the May before. So I went and looked, and sure enough, the Cubs started last May with a seven-game losing streak, which led to the TCR authors banning the use of the letter L. Not only that, but in the middle of last May I reached back into the TCR archives of May 2002, when the Cubs had a nine-game slide. Three out of the last five Mays have been painful for Cubs fans. Of course, in both '02 and '05 the Cubs would go on to have even worse months later in the year, and they finished 21 and 30 games out of first in those two years. So it's not like it's a cloud with a silver lining; it's more like a cloud filled with grapefruit-sized hail. Man, I can't even make a column about a win come out sounding happy. As Bushwick Bill once famously said, "times is hard."
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Comments

"giant sucking chest wound in the #2 hole"

Good lord, man. That image just erased all the relaxation of my 4-day weekend.

Guess I have to take another.

Hey Old Timer - although you did not see Wood pitch, for those that did can anyone else confirm what I noticed - a different Wood pitching. The papers touched upon it today but Kerry Wood looked as if he was showing a great deal more slider and curve than heat. His control looked nimbel not the typical high heat strikeout pitcher of the past.

Did anyone else notice or was this a mirage induced by the dearth of Cubs wins or positive news????

I saw the game...Wood threw lots of fastballs through the first three innings, then switched to mostly changeups and breaking stuff for the rest of the game. The velocity on his fastball dropped precipitously from around 96mph in the first couple of innings to barely 90mph by the time he came out.

It's possible that the "high heat strikeout pitcher" version of Kerry Wood may now be a thing of the past...also possible (likely) that he's still not all the way back from injury...time will tell.

A national radio talk show recently compared the Cubs to the NBA Knicks. The similarities were amazing. Both feature competent field coaches and managers but general management that is completely lost.

Competent field coaches and managers? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Just to make a random bitch about Hendry:

Bear Bay (given up for THE Jody Gerut)

AA Akron Aeros (CLE)
Record: 3-3
ERA: 3.65
K:51
BB:16
He is only in AA ball, and looks only decent to solid, but this is the type of bullshit trade I'm sick of the Cubs making. Let's give away a decent minor-leaguer for nothing.

Also saw Jermaine Van Buren threw 2 1/3 scoreless for Boston last night. What'd we get for him? A PTBNL? great....love those kind of trades.

Gerut? He went 1 for 14 before we realized he was injured garbage, and shipped him to the Pirates.

Steve, you make changeups sound easy. They're tougher to pitch than a fastball and it could be argued that changeups and sliders are more strenuous than fastballs.

DUSTY B: Bear Bay was traded to CLE for LOOGY Cliff Bartosh at the end of Spring Training last season, and the PTBNL in the Jermaine Van Buren deal with BOS was OF Matt Ciaramella (who is having a poor season at Peoria).

Jody Gerut was acquired from CLE for Jason Dubois, then Gerut was traded to PIT for Matt Lawton, and then Lawton was subsequently traded to NYY for RHP Justin Berg (who is currently in the starting rotation at Daytona).

Sorry, I didn't finish my thought on Wood...

The key to his strikeouts are batters biting on the slider and his slider so far has not looked that sharp or "crisp" (as Michael Barrett likes to say). I'm not worried about his stuff, the slider will be back, I just worry the shoulder soreness is not "normal rehab pain".

"Both feature competent field coaches and managers but general management that is completely lost."

Hendry is no where as bad as Isiah Thomas. Atleast Hendry doesnt collect every over paid jackass in the sport (Francis, Rose, Marbury). Atleast Hendry doesnt trade talented young commidities (the #2 draft pick {Please Pax take Roy with the pick}, a potential lottery pick in 07, Sweetney, Trevor Ariza {in the Francis trade} for overpaid has beens and guys with a potentially fatal heart condition.

"a potential lottery pick in 07"

If a Isiah is the coach it will be a guaranteed lottery pick.

Speaking of Cliff Bartosch- where is he? I don't see him on the roster for any of the Cubs affiliates. Extended Spring Training? Injury?

Speaking of give-away pitchers, the last time I looked Renyel Pinto was unscored upon in 4 relief appearances.

And what's the deal with Mark Prior projecting to return to the big club before Wade Miller?? Miller has been throwing MORE PITCHES than Prior for weeks now. The other day he threw a four inning 65 pitch "game" versus rookie leaguers. Does he lack MLB velocity? That's certainly what we hear about Prior as well.

Hendry and Isaiah do have one thing in common, they both pile up useless players at one position (second base and guard).

One surprising thing about Wood at yesterday's game...he wore a warm up jacket on base! It was 90 degrees! Amazed he didn't pull something putting the jacket on...

My favorite part of yesterday's game was Aardsma -- consistently hitting 97mph, mixing in some change-ups, and throwing strikes. It would be great to see some more of that.

I wouldn't lump Hendry in with Isiah just yet -- last time I checked, Hendry hadn't bankrupted an entire league.

I believe Bartosh was released before the season started, actually it may have been sooner than that.

As for Wood, he seems to be throwing a 2-seamer a lot more. Are we sure that's not the fastball he was throwing later in the game? It's generally 4-5 mph slower than a 4-seamer. As for throwing heat the first few innings and then going to the breaking stuff, that's called good pitching. You shouldn't be showing all your stuff the first time through a lineup.

Don't most folks say that high schoolers and little leaguers should just use a fastball and change. I never heard that a change was nearly as strenous to the arm as a breaking ball. It's certainly very hard to master though.

I try to religiously avoid reading Jay Mariotti, but his Cuban/Cubs column today is must-reading for y'all.

I know I posted this before, but with yesterday's win, perhaps this could be the beginning of a new season? Ahh, probably not.......may we take unto our breasts the game won today. nurture it, attach to it, so it becomes 110 games one day. as it sucks from our teets colustrum at first, assure it to latch on for that is the worst. next will come milk brewed from my loins, and from this it can earn championship coins. drink it all down, down to the last drop, licking my nipple unitl i beg it to stop.

I hope and pray Kerry Wood pitches exceptionally well his next several starts. That way Jim Hendry can move him to a contender and get a quality package of talent in return. Wood absolutely MUST go. For too long this organization has pinned too much hope on the right arm of Wood, only for Wood to greatly disappoint either because of injury or his frustratingly enigmatic ways.

This just into the WGN newsroom....add Rich Hill and the Korean Ryu to the list of once highly touted pitching prospects who suck. Angel Guzman is THIS close to joining the list.

Nice work---again---Jim Hendry.

Az Phil...that's right..duh!!
Thanks for the clarification....ok, so Bay for Bartosh....still a stinker trade, getting a marginal loogy for a prospect, although not great, who won 11 games in A ball the previous year with a 139-30 K-BB split .The JVB trade looks little better, what with the flammable 2006 versions of Novoa and Weurtz.

The whole Cub "patch it up with a broken-down or agiing veteran" policy is getting old. I'm glad Womack had 2 good games, but he is:
a)36 years old
b)not good at getting on base
c)not a long term solution

The Cubs season is buried in a pile of losses. There is little reason to audition guys like this for spots on this roster. What's next...Jeff Conine? Ugh...

Dallas Mavericks Owner Says He'd Make A Pitch For Team If It Went On The Market

http://cbs2chicago.com/topstories/local_story...

Cubs go 6-21 for the month of May and about 160,000 people show up at that beautiful park for forlorn hopes called Wrigley Field. I guess that is why, at least in the short term, nothing will ever get better: the owners thought the weekend was great, at roughl $50.00 a head from ticket revenues and concessions. Like Hell, above the gates of Wrigley they should hang the sign: "Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here!" At least this team is starting to lose in funny ways which will keep me amuse to football season.

Making sure I kill all hope, I know I am a mere @##$$lawyer, a mere a baseball fan who has seen phenom pitchers break down for forty years. But these stats, from Class A, to me show that Prior is not healthy, that he is pitching in pain, much like Wood's torn labrum last year. I particularly note that he threw only 28 strikes out of 44 pitches and loss of velocity.

"Mark Prior said his strained right shoulder is starting to feel closer to normal after a rehab start Monday for the Class A Peoria Chiefs.
The 25-year-old right-hander threw 44 pitches, 28 for strikes, topping out at 90 mph in two innings against the Oakland Athletics' Midwest League affiliate, Kane County, on a 95-degree day at O'Brien Field.

"Prior, who thought he could've thrown one more inning but was limited to 45 pitches, threw mostly in the 86-88 mph range, but speed wasn't a concern of his."

This is not the guy we saw pitching in 2003 and the last half of 2004.

I see the same folks who got excited about Nefi! are getting excited about Tony Womack's 6 for 11 streak. Let's talk after he has 200 plate appearances. Faster than Nefi!, but with no power and no other way to get on base but the base hit on the 1st or 2d pitch. But Hendry values speed apparently much more than getting on base or slugging, see his apparent urge to send Murton and Walker down the road in Kiley's article.

Apparently Kiley is awful good at sucking up to Hendry and McPhail, so good that Paul Sullivan gets called on the carpet for being unfair. Frankly, I don't see the Trib shilling for the Cubs, or anymore conflict of interest for the Sports section then the Trib's business section covering the Tribune Company's performance (or lack thereof). Speaking of the business pages, rumors are that the Tribune Company, with its underperforming stock may be a takeover target.

Laugh of the day-

Deadspin.com found this. I can think of a dozen better names but maybe some one from Cincy can explain this-

http://bengals.com/community/palmer_cornhole0...

"bring the kids out"

This event's name also sounds like what might happen to the Cubs this week-end in St Louis.

"Let's talk after he has 200 plate appearances"

Hopefully he won't have to make 200 plate appearances with Lee back and Walker moving to second.

If Womack has 200 AB's this year, its going to get even uglier around here.....hell, lets put Fast Freddy Bynum in LF, and put Neifi at SS!!!!

Crap...

Rob G.: Don't most folks say that high schoolers and little leaguers should just use a fastball and change. I never heard that a change was nearly as strenous to the arm as a breaking ball. It's certainly very hard to master though.

Good point, I guess it depends what kind of change you're talking about. A circle change, like the one Maddux throws, is thrown with the arm slightly cocked and thrown with a slight flick toward the pitcher's opposite arm side. That gives the changeup a "fading" action towards the pitchers pitching arm-side of the plate. This is the type of changeup that could possibly put additional strain on the arm due to the arm being cocked.

The changeup Wood throws is more of a straight-change (I think), cuffed deep in the palm, but otherwise thrown just as hard and across all four seems just like a 4 seamer. The idea is to use the same arm angle and velocity and let the deep grip do the work, but I guess if he was having trouble with velocity late in the game, it's true he might find that pitch more effective because it would be "more" offspeed than if he was throwing 100%.

I just saw on the Iowa stats page, Augie Ojeda has 1.0 IP. Wild!

The season is a lost cause. If I were Dusty, the following is the lineup I trot out, at least until Hendry goes and trades away things.

1. T. Walker - 2nd
2. M. Murton - LF
3. M. Barrett (when he comes back from) - Cat
4. A. Ramirez - 3rd
5. J. Jones - RF
6. J. Mabry - 1st
7. R. Cedeno - SS
8. J. Pierre - CF

I didn't say it was pretty. But it is what I would go with considering the circumstances. Lets stop pretending about Pierre by the way.

The Cubs have 120 team BB's, and 64 of them are from 4 players, Walker, Murton, A-Ram and D.Lee who of course hasn't played in a month. While the usual leadoff hitter, Pierre, and 2 hole hitter, Cedeno have a combined 15. Wonder why the Cubs are struggling to score runs. Why is Clines still drawing a paycheck?

By the way, the Red Sox have exactly 100 more walks than the Cubs with 220.

An mlb.com scribe (not Muskrat) has noted that Prior has struggled to hit 90 on the gun so if he's ahead of Miller on the depth chart that doesn't look too promising.

If the season is a lost cause, then find a way to get Micah Hoffpauir to fill in for DLee.

"Rob G.: Don't most folks say that high schoolers and little leaguers should just use a fastball and change. I never heard that a change was nearly as strenous to the arm as a breaking ball. It's certainly very hard to master though."

well according to my old pitching coach (who pitched in the Cubs and Tigers system up to AAA back in the late 70's/early 80's) the change is the least stenuous pitch to throw and he wouldn't allow his son (who was drafted last year by the Pirates)to throw a curve or slider until he was 16 years old. It's pretty easy to back that up considering the dinosaurs like Moyer, Glavine, Maddux who are predominantly changeup pitchers have never had any real arm troubles. The fork/splitter is considered the most strenous by the way.

#32 I agree. Hoffpauir may not be a long term solution for 1B, as D-Lee is coming back soon, but playing him at the postion and seeing what you have there is a good idea. If he plays weell at all, keep him on the bench,as he can play OF too. If he doesn't, I'd still rather see Walker at @b and offpauir at 1B than any combo of Neifi, Hairston, Walker, and Womack.
2 meaningless good games for Womack, a guy who shouldn't even have been considered to be on the team!!!

"Why is Clines still drawing a paycheck?"

Clines is not the reason the Cubs have poor plate discipline. They have poor plate discipline because as an organization it is not valued.

Re: Laugh of the day-

Cornhole is a very popular game around here. Similar to horseshoes except played with plywood boards with small holes in them and bean bags filled with dry corn. Do an e-bay search for cornhole sets and you'll be able to visualize exactly what I'm talking about.

Cornhole is so common a term around here that I didn't know what you were talking about when you laughed.

BTW - Kerry Wood was the driving force behind both of the Cubs' recent playoff runs (98 and 03) how quickly we forget. I'd rather hold on to hope for someone who lays it on the line every time up than give up on that for unproven jamokes. Especially knowing this club's record for dealing with promising farm players.

I probably wasn't clear with my intended meaning in my earlier post -- Ryno & Rob.G made good points about going to changeups & breaking stuff later being good pitching, and obviously I agree. My only concern is that Wood typically has not been that smart of a pitcher, and historically has gone to 4-seamers & hard sliders to get his outs (strikeouts or otherwise).

The one thing I'm not sure of is if he's actually, finally matured as a pitcher (that would be great), or if he's moved away from his hard 4-seamer because he just can't throw it like he used to yet (owing to injury).

With regards to (I think) Rob G.'s question about whether or not he was throwing 2-seamers later in the game, I'm not sure...they weren't moving much, but they could've been 2-seamers, as they did have some tailing action -- I didn't get a good look at his grip.

"Cornhole is so common a term around here that I didn't know what you were talking about when you laughed."

...around where?

I am in Dayton, went to school at Miami U in Oxford. Sooo in short Greater SW Ohio.

Okay.

We call it "bean bags" or "bags" in Chicago.

Good luck with all that.

Cornhole, Bags, Frat Toss...all are acceptable.

Cornhole.... one hell of a drinking game.

Hey Dusty Baylor,

You are assuming (in calling Womack's games "meaningless") that the Cubs have any kind of a view beyond this year. They still belileve that somehow they can win something this year, so they sign stopgap veterans rather than attempting to actually evaluate the talent they have in-house and think toward 2007 and beyond. Thus, the signing of Tony Womack, who may have a great year (or maybe not... let's see how well he's doing after 100 PA) but is probably a net loss for the team in the long term, because his presence coupled with the presence of Dusty Baker prevents the Cubs from seriously evaluating a Theriot or a Fontenot. Neither of these guys "projects" to be a "starter" but hey, at this point... why not see if either of them can make the leap? What's the point of having Tony Womack as your 2nd baseman when it's quite clear he isn't in the long-term plan?

Then again, it's not like they didn't have the chance to evaluate Theriot. That would've entailed him getting a start, heck even more than a few ABs. To seriously attempt to play youth, you have to have a manager who will do so. One more reason Dusty needs to go.

www.cornholeassociation.com

In Iowa we call it "Here Dummy"...or in certain high classes "Joe Dummy", but you have to be in the circle of trust to get away with it.

No cracks about Iowa and Dummy....or cornhole for that matter.

Cornhole tourney at my house June 24 if anyone is interested......6 sets of boards going at once.

Joe Dummy

Morpheus-You ignorant slut!!!

That is my point exactly!!!
Putting faith in the Womack/Karros/Gaetti type player is ludicrous.
This is a team headed somewhere south of mediocrity, and the stopgap approach is gettting old, and retarding the growth of any young players that may produce.

Oh, I know we agree, Dusty... irritatin', ain't it?

As usual, Mariotti's column was a whole lot of nothing. Cuban said that IF the Cubs were for sale, he MIGHT take a look at them numbers. This is standard business-speak for "I never say never, but.." and indicates absolutely nothing.

On walks, I believe Hendry (and Dusty?) have been quoted as liking hitters who are "aggressive early in the count". Thus, an organization that produces hitters who never walk, thus allowing pitchers to throw fewer pitches, which is why some clown pitches his first major league complete game against the Cubs on a weekly basis.

From Will Carroll's column in Baseball Prospectus, more sad news about Mark Prior:

"Kerry Wood struck out everyone--including the peanut vendor and the visiting radio announcer--when he was in Peoria. ìUnhittable,î one scout told me. That same scout saw Mark Prior pitch on Monday night and struggled to find words. He sighed and groaned before finally saying something I canít print here. ìThere was nothing right with him. No velocity (a max of 90). No command. No movement. No missed bats. No consistency--his stride was never the same and his arm was slow. If he wasnít Mark Prior, Iíd say he was at the right level. I have no idea what happened to him.î Prior only went two innings before hitting his pitch count and now weíll have to wait to see how he recovers. Not only did he show only a bit more velocity, but the absent control might be even more worrisome. Prior will have one more rehab start at Peoria, but at this stage, it might be time to think about slowing this down. One observer reminded me of another pitcher who lost it--Roy Halladay. It will be interesting to see if the Cubs can be as forward-looking as the Blue Jays once were."

The Cubs?? Forward-looking??? Talk about oxymorons.

Reference the Cubs offensive problems, I am afraid post number 35 has hit the nail on the head. Blaming a single hitting coach for a problem that really has persisted for two decades won't solve this issue. From the Club President down to the lowest scout, they simply don't value patience at the plate. They prefer guys who look good in jeans.

Perhaps as individuals, it would best for Wood, Prior, etc. to move on and escape the curse of working for incompetents. Patterson appears to be flourishing in Baltimore (a place not known for enlightenment since Dave Johnson left), but I will wait until his second time around the league to proclaim him then next Lou Brock. The last good trade that Hendry pulled off was the Garciparra trade. Since then the stupidity pills that management of the Cubs are required to take have kicked in.

I can't help but read that Will Carroll post and think of somewhere that said a few weeks ago there are rumblings in the Cubs organization that Prior needs shoulder surgery.

I can't remember where I read that, maybe someone posted it on here one day?

It must be a complete fluke that Billy Beane's approach to obp, etc. has resulted in no fewer than 87 wins since 1999 (only 2 fewer than Hendry's best year in 04) and an average 95 win season each of the last 7 years- yet with a payroll that is 30-40 million dollars less. Old story I know, but come on!!!

The biggest problem for the Cubs is a minor league system that continues in its failure to produce major league quality positional talent. You have to go all the way back to Mark Grace to identify the last quality everyday starter produced by this organization. Perhaps Ronny Cedeno breaks this nasty streak, but I will reserve judgment for now. Two, three years ago everybody was gushing over all the "can't miss" talent within the Cub system. Well folks, a lot of that talent has missed. David Kelton, Nic Jackson, Luis Montanez, Brian Dopirak to go along with Chadd Blasko, Rich Hill, Luke Hagerty, Bobby Brownlie, Ben Christensen, Angel Guzman.

According to reports, Mark Prior displayed the same flawed mechanics in his rehab start yesterday. Apparently he was leading with his elbow on over 75% of his pitches, which is NOT a good thing. Meanwhile he topped out on the radar gun at 91 MPH.

Seems like a brilliant start to a career might just go poof in the night. Can you say Mark "The Bird" Fidryich.

cubs management said that Mark Prior is OK. I am going to trust that they would not mislead us.

cubs management said that Mark Prior is OK. I am going to trust that they would not mislead us.

====

Whew, now that's a good one!!! My spleen hasn't hurt so hard from laughing in years!!!

Cubs to Baltimore Orioles: "Any chance that Tejada still is available for Mark Prior?"

Orioles' response: Click. Followed by dial tone.

Heck, could we at least get Corey Patterson back for Prior?

It's difficult to get a random steroid test if the world doesn't have a clue where you are.

Coming off steroids leads one to develop pretty rare type of injuries and often lead to "something doesn't quite feel right" with my elbow, achilles tendon, etc....

Blowing a Bartman game and losing substantial testicle size due to side effects of "milkshakes" has a tendency of punching a serious blow to ones ego and psyche...

It's no wonder no one has any idea where a certain once proclaimed future Cy Young pitcher has been lately or what things he's done during winter to get so out of shape.

Yep, I hate to say it but I think it is pretty clear that Prior will never be Prior again. We won't see the 2003 Prior again anyway. It really is a mystery. Possibly a tragedy. All that promise and where has it all gone? We may never know the full story but it is too bad in any event. There was a time that I thought this guy had a chance to be up there with the Tom Seavers of the baseball world. Instead, we may be close to witnessing the end of his career.

screw it, lets just blame the damn park. tear down that house of woes and build something new in its place. we can play in rockford during the rebuilding year of 2007.

i got great memories of going to games there with my dad when i was a kid, and my most prized photo is of me and him under the marqee, but i think at the 100 year anniversary they should fill it with TNT and start the fuck over for real.

anyone? anyone?

damn...he's rehabbing...what's coming out of his arm could/should be totally different 2 weeks from now.

if not, he's not healthy or his shoulder issue never healed properly.

you cant take the guy's career away from him yet.

we can play in rockford during the rebuilding year of 2007.

If you're going to move the Cubs for a season, it shouldn't be Rockford, it should be O'Brien Field in Peoria.

I mean what better way to keep a home field advantage than by using the park where half the rotation is used to pitching.

Is it possible that the Cubs don't think that Theriot or Fontenot of Hoffpauir can play? I'm assuming that they got Womack because he's better than Theriot or Fontenot.

A lot of people say, "Let's see if the kids can play." You really shouldn't have to see though. With MLEs the way they are, we should know if Theriot or Fontenot or Hoffpauir can play or not. They don't need some trial run.

Look at some of the kids the Marlins are throwing out there. Hanley Ramirez is ready. Hermida is ready. Jacobs is ready. Uggla is ready and a way better player than Theriot or Fontenot. Willingham is ready. Their minor league numbers say they're ready.

If those guys weren't playing for the Marlins, they probably would be playing for somebody. But because they play for the Marlins, it's assumed they're kids who are only playing because of their fire sale and that they don't know what they're doing.

Actually, you could argue that Hermida's injury, Jacobs' inexplicable slump and a surprisingly subpar year from Dontrelle Willis have hurt the Marlins more than anything.

(I'm also fairly certain that Girardi will make a terrible manager that will dog his youngsters Dallas Green-style and that five years from now Girardi will be back to being somebody's bench coach and will be doing interviews in the Tribune talking about how "disillusioned" he is by the game.)

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