Lou Can Be Funny

Amusing comment from Lou Piniella in Monday morning’s Tribune story about Mark Prior being scheduled for a start in the minor league camp this coming Thursday.
“Get him to go down there and relax, and just pitch. He doesn't have to answer to the media. Hopefully you guys will all be over [at HoHoKam Park] at the 'A' game. Leave him alone, and let him pitch."
Obviously, this will be the most well attended minor league game in Cubs camp in some time. (Here’s hoping AZ Phil’s schedule will allow him to be among those defying Lou on Thursday afternoon.) One man’s relatively uninformed opinion of Mark Prior’s mechanics over the weekend: He didn’t look like a guy pitching through pain or an injury; he looked like a guy who was terrified of getting injured and was throwing accordingly. I say this primarily because of his low arm angle, a fact even commented upon by Ron Santo during the WGN Radio broadcast. It looked like the pitching version of walking with a limp.
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Comments

[...] Cubnut over at Cub Reporter sums up Prior’s problem perfectly. [...]

If Prior pitches like crap for the next two starts, someone from the organization better sit him down with a doctor and ask him "Where does it hurt?"

Otherwise they are just fooling themselves or they are going to make the juiced rumors look more true.

"juice" just doesnt give you the tallent prior showed...its not a cure all...its not an automatic fix.

barry bonds doesnt need it either, i guess.

still...the things that made prior the prior everyone was WOAH about was his makeup and control of his pitches, not that one of them was 94mph or he has big calves. its wasnt that fastball/curve as much as it was the control he had over it and the mental makeup to mix it up in the zone on command.

roids or no roids the things that made prior most attractive to the game wasnt his "power".

kinda odd the mental maturity and makeup he showed is in constant question, too. he's gotta shake this "baby" thing even if he didnt/did deserve or earn it.

"barry bonds doesnt need it either, i guess."

Then why do they take it? It does something.

the things that made prior the prior everyone was WOAH about was his makeup and control of his pitches, not that one of them was 94mph or he has big calves.

The thing that made me "WOAH" was the exploding fastball.

This might sound wierd, but he had the fastest 94MPH fastball in the league with his 4-seamer. Hitters always talked about how it jumped. Take away that pitch, and the rest starts to look a whole lot more pedestrian IMO.

"Then why do they take it? It does something."

money. longevity. cuz "everyone else" is doing it.

we got people getting blood transfusions and other doping just for a chance to win an amateur sports event or keep/gain sponsors that "only" amount to 5-figures in the sports world for minor sports.

common sense vs. the will to win weighed vs. the risk involved.

dont think too many people would say bonds wouldnt be a HOF candidate even if you knock his stats down a few notched from his alleged roid days. he didnt need a few extra million. he didnt need to struggle to 500 or battle strings of injuries. he did anyway...the motivation for why he wants to be better than great i have no idea.

umm...cough...allegedly...

heh.

"money. longevity. cuz “everyone else” is doing it"

It turns a 500 career homerun hitter into 750 career homerun hitter.

It turns barely in the league middle relievers into lights out closers.

I'm hoping that's not the case with Prior, but something has turned him into Greg Maddux without the control and movement on the ball. And that 7-8 mph off his fastball is the difference between a Porsche with an engine and one without an engine.

Why do you say "something" changed him like it's some big mystery? Do you really expect a pitcher with a shoulder injury and three years of minimal/inconsistent playing time to be 100%?

My cousin tried to convince me Wood will end up with the 5th starting spot before it's all said and done. Personally, I don't think so, but it's an interesting thought.

I agree I don't think that it's anything with Prior having any kind of tenderness or soreness, cuz he's still on schedule to pitch and we know the Cubs theory on Prior so much getting an earache or if he even throws up, he's shut down for a month.

I say its alot more likely that Wood ends up with the closer spot. Not in april per se. Mid May is my prediction.

He was shut down August/September 2006?

He was rehabbing we were told by the Cubs all off season.

I would like the Cubs to be honest about him once, if he's hurt tell us. The crap almost started two weeks ago when they said his bullpen sessions were great, and then they come out and said well know we are going to hold him off a few ST starts.

The only that stopped it was Lou saying he was going to pitch.

I didn't watch yesterday's game, but if Cubnut says that some guy says that Prior was throwing with an unusually low arm angle, it could be for two reasons.

The first is exactly what Cubnut's guy said, which is there is something about his normal release point that is causing him pain, or something about his normal release point that he's afraid of. Guys start fooling around with it when they either are trying to hide an injury or have lost all of their confidence. Kinda wished I woulda watched it now.

The second reason, which I find more likely, is that he's trying to get out and around his breaking pitches a little bit more since his fastball is a little lackluster. You get a little bit more movement away from righties if you lower your arm angle a bit and get outside the ball. Problem is, it gets way harder to control and you lose a lot of velocity.

I personally, like Lou, am not worried about the velocity. It will come back. That's part of not pitching for a while. When you first come back, you don't have the same zip on the ball. That's why guys throw a simulated innings for a week or two before they even make a minor league start.

Everybody thinks the sky is falling when they can't throw 95 the first three times they've pitched after an injury. Give him another couple of starts. If he throws five times, and he still can't hit 90, then it's time to sound the alarm.

Also note that rehabbing your shoulder and throwing are not the same thing. As far as I know, the first time he seriously tried to throw was when he reported.

Enough weeping and gnashing of teeth over Mark Prior. The guy is doubtful to be of productive service to the Cubs in 2007. Focus should really be on Angel Guzman right now.

Did you see Prior pitch in 2003, Crunch? Even sitting in the Dodgers' centerfield Pavilion seats you could hear his fastball explode into the catcher's mitt. It was a "hard" fastball that always waited to move until the last instant. It sounded like it hurt.

And of course he located it like a master.

But, that Mark Prior is long gone.

RIP

Vorare:
"Do you really expect a pitcher with a shoulder injury and three years of minimal/inconsistent playing time to be 100%?"

No, because I trust my eyes more than what Cubs management tells us.

But I can see why people would expect it as the GM, manager and trainer all off season have kept saying how good he is doing, how far along he is, etc.

ST has the right idea - waiting for Prior right now is a waste of time, when we should be looking forward to the possibilities of the Gooz. If he comes back this year, then it's gravy at this point.

How fast was Prior's fastball last year?

Note to all Season Ticket Holders...

I got an email from the Cubs on Friday saying the tickets are in the mail and should start arriving early this week.

But I can see why people would expect it as the GM, manager and trainer all off season have kept saying how good he is doing, how far along he is, etc.

Huh? I don't recall Hendry, Lou, or anyone else claiming his velocity was back 100% or that he was back to 2003 form. Compared to where he was, though, he does look pretty good. The fact that he's on the mound at all in spring training is a good sign.

He's making his starts and showing some signs of improvement between them. That's enough to justify some patience, in my opinion. If we hit April and he's still throwing in the mid-80s with piss-poor control, fine -- crank up your doom and gloom machines.

"Sound the alarm??" That alarm sounded a LOOONG time ago. Prior is done. Or should we wait another year, two years, TEN years -- just to make absolute sure?

Sheesh

From Cubs.com 1/19/2007-

"Prior, who spent the offseason rehabbing his right shoulder, has been playing catch since the first week of November, and he has been throwing off a mound for the last couple of weeks"

Throwing off the mound, I would think, involves a wind up and pushing off the rubber and trying to throw the ball hard. So he has been pitching for a couple of months now. Unless he was throwing the towel off the mound.

I was watching the game on CSN while Prior was pitching, and the radar had him at 94 (at least once that I saw). I think that's a great sign. His control isn't where it needs to be yet, but that's why it's Spring Training.

There are a million and one reasons to be skeptical, but damn, let's give the guy a chance to put it all together before we start calling him the second coming of Todd Van Poppel.

Vorare:
"I don’t recall Hendry, Lou, or anyone else claiming his velocity was back 100% or that he was back to 2003 form."

Nor did I say they did...

But when they have mentioned how well he is doing and stuff like that, i can see why people get raised expectations.

They also said he wasn't guaranteed a spot in the rotation, that he had a lot of work to do, and that nobody was sure how he would look in spring training. It isn't Hendry, Lou, or Mark's fault that there's a cadre of imbecilic fans that want to place unrealistic expectations on the kid and then declare him "done" or "finished" when he fails to meet those expectations.

There's a lot of misinformation on Mark Prior out there. Could we all get on the same page?

First of all, it's been claimed on TCR that Prior hasn't pitched since June of 2006. Nope, he pitched his last game in August when he gave up something like 6 runs in 3 innings. The Cubs said THEY shut him down. Prior said he wanted to keep pitching. And he did, on September 12th. He threw side sessions the rest of the season. Then they sent him to a specialist who had him stop throwing for six weeks, which wasn't hard to do since it was October.

Then in January of this year Prior told the SunTimes that he had already thrown five or six bullpen sessions, was feeling great and was ready for spring training.

And in February I get a press release where the Cubs claim that Prior is healthy, ready, and has been throwing pain free for weeks.

Rather than shut down, nursing a sore arm. Prior had been pitching all winter.

That radar gun also had him at 112 and 103

Sometimes a pitcher loses it and there is no answer. See Rick Ankiel.

Ankiel had a major control problem. His velocity was still good but his pitches were hitting the backstop.

The radar gun was a joke on Saturday, I even question the 88 Prior hit on it.

Here's a guy asking our questions about Prior in today's bright one-

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/...

All that is wrong with Prior is "things."

Ugh.

"lets give the guy a chance..."

How many chances should we give him? He's already had 3 seasons of chances. And these are mighty expensive chances, both in terms of money and opportunity cost. Why does ANYONE think the chances are good that Prior will contribute this year? It may happen. And I could win the lottery, too. SOMEONE has to win it, right?

Lou Piniella has moved on from Mark Prior. Cub fans should too.

The deal on Prior is pretty simple - He can't command his fastball and can't throw his curve for strikes. That's what I saw on Saturday. In 2003/2004, he had a plus fastball, plus curve, and plus command. In addition, he worked consistently around 93/94 mph. To be a 5th starter you need two average pitches, average command and Prior isn't even there yet. He's got 3 weeks to get there or he gets to work this out at Iowa or in Extended Spring Training. Either way, ST is right -- Hello, Guzman.

Prior isn't being guaranteed anything. There's nothing riding on his performance. He's one of three pitchers competing for one rotation slot, and there's plenty of reason to believe he's not the frontrunner at this point. In that context, I don't see why there's any reason for anything but patience -- what is there to lose??

Worst case scenario, he really is done and Guzman or Miller gets the 5th slot. Best case scenario, he's healthy and capable of (gradually) returning to form, and the Cubs rotation gets a HUGE upgrade.

Jacos-
Thanks for the link...

I can't help but be really disappointed that Prior is not even close to being ready after basically not pitching last year, getting shut down early, meeting with top doctors, doing a winter long rehab/strengthening and him or management saying how well he was doing.

I really thought he should of been farther along than he is. Of course we shouldn't expect anything from him, but I can understand why people got a little excited again about him, as I did.

And when you couple Prior with Miller and Marshall, the "depth" of this starting pitching staff is drying up real quick.

You can't compare Rick Ankiel to Mark Prior. It just doesn't work.

Mark Prior hasn't gone completely batshit insane. Yet.

First of all, it’s been claimed on TCR that Prior hasn’t pitched since June of 2006.

No one claimed that, someone asked me in the chat when's the last time Prior pitched and I threw that off the top of my head without checking and all kinds of disclaimers. Dave then reiterated that in the comments with the same disclaimers.

I was watching the game on CSN while Prior was pitching, and the radar had him at 94

As mentioned, that was in the midst of some 112 and 103 readings, I think that one was off too. I think 88 was his max that day which he hit a few times. Here's his pitch chart from that day:
http://mvn.com/mlb-cubs/2007/03/10/gameday-op...

By the way, didn't we have these velocity questions with Prior at the beginning of 2005 and last year? Actually I distinctly remember this happening last year when he was doing his minor league rehab work and by his 4th start he struck out 10 and was back in the 90's, so there's some precedance.

What's wrong with Miller and Marshall? Miller's doing exactly what everyone should have been expecting from him, throwing junk and hoping to get by. Marshall two weeks behind at this point which should still have him ready by the beginning of the season if he's needed. And this whole mess leads to Guzman getting the gig, the Cubs probably lucked into the best situation anyway.

Rob G-
Agreed on Guzman getting the fifth starter.

I was thinking the same exact thing about Prior being alot like Rick Ankiel. I remember when Prior first came up they talked about how is control was like Maddux. He would keep his pitch counts real low and hardly ever walked anybody. Prior then started to try striking everybody out and his pitch counts started to rise. I don't think he is done, but he has to go back to the original Mark Prior who could locate his fastball on any corner of the strike zone. Between that and his breaking ball, he was almost unhittable. Maybe he should realize that all pitchers not named Nolan Ryan eventually lose some speed off the fastball. Maybe he should work on a real strong changeup or knuckleball.

Would you rather have Wade Miller and his blistering 87 MPH slop as your 5th starter, or a 25 year old Angel Guzman, who once upon a time was THE best prospect on the Cubs and is now chocking it 97 MPH?

To me, the answer is easy. Guzman, Guzman a thousand times Guzman. I'm even willing to bear through inevitable growing pains and up and down performance on the mound. Give the kid a chance.

Jacos:
"Agreed on Guzman getting the fifth starter."

While he very well might end up being one of the 5 best starting pitchers by default come Opening Day, there will be HUGE question marks as to if he can stay healthy and how many innings he can throw this year without tiring out. Remember, Guzman has not throw more than 132 IP in 5 years and has never thrown more than 156 IP in a season. IMO, it will be tough to count on him to be even a 5th starter the whole season. But this is truly a make or break year for him and for this team to really want to win this division, it will need players like him to step up or get players to play better than their career numbers.

That Wittenmyer guy sucks.

If Guzman tires mid to late season, you've always got Sean Marshall and Juan Mateo toiling in Iowa. Marshall at least has shown he's capable of pitching 6 strong big league innings in a single outing.

Prior, gah. Who cares at this point? I'm just pissed the Cubs didn't trade him for Tejada two years ago, wow, would that have been great. Now, he's our version of Mark Fidrych. Washed up.

BTW, if he'll take it like a man, I like Wade Miller for the Glendon Rusch role, I think he'd do fine there.

"Prior isn’t being guaranteed anything."

Yes, Vorare, he is. Time and experience that someone with a snowball's chance in hell of contributing to the season could be getting. Coaching staff attention as well. In effect, we do NOT have 3 pitchers competing for the 5th starter -- just two. Not all costs come with dollar signs attached.

Wade Miller isn't an option for the bullpen. Either he makes this team as the # 5 starter, or the Cubs whack him. Miller himself said he won't pitch out of the bullpen. Lots of balls for a guy who throws blistering 87 MPH slop. IMO, the Cubs are going to give the benefit of the doubt to Miller unless Angel Guzman absolutely blows their doors off. It's unfortunate, but I think this will be the reaction of Jim Hendry.

guzman is all tallent and a scant ability to put it all together in a cohesive order.

dude probably has about 6-7 pitches he could throw if he wanted to go through them all. he gets injured, he learns something new...he's done that a lot. he's got a hell of a sidearm fastball he drops down occasionally he learned while rehabing his elbow. cant say he's not tallented and not able to learn new stuff...he just seems to be like a guy with a top-of-the-line garage full of tools that still needs a book to build a spice rack.

i like guz a lot, btw...hope his health keeps up.

mannytrillo:

While he very well might end up being one of the 5 best starting pitchers by default come Opening Day, there will be HUGE question marks as to if he can stay healthy and how many innings he can throw this year

You're right. The guy the Cub's pick should be the guy who will give them the most number of innings of the bunch. My heart says Guzman, but my brain says Miller.

The guy the Cub’s pick should be the guy who will give them the most number of innings of the bunch.

How about we go with the best pitcher who gives us the best shot to win? Guzman may or may not get injured again, pretty silly to pick over him just because he's had previous health issues. And like Miller is some poster child for staying healthy or something.

There aren't many rotations in baseball that don't have question marks, get use to it.

There's green crispy stuff in my bratwurst. It may be beans, but I am not really sure. Actually, I am not sure it actually is bratwurst.

nothing will make anything about prior having little control and a 88mph fastball right now, but it is kinda nice knowing he's fighting for that #5 slot insted of the #2/3 slot.

neal...fennel seeds? sharp taste, skinny/oblong.

In Guzman's defense, he most likely would have pitched more innings last year had he not languished for a month as the Cubs' 12 pitcher, doing side sessions or whatever Dusty and Rothschild had him doing.

no, really green like bright green. hmm it says Landpolse m/ pistacienodder. Guess it's pistaccios. Who the hell would think to put that in bratwurst?

You know, I was looking at Guzman's numbers on the baseball cube:

http://www.thebaseballcube.com/players/G/Ange...

And two things really jumped out at me. First of all, there was the 25 Home Runs allowed in about 500 minor league innings. That's um, really good. The second and more important thing, is his middle name. It's Moises. I thought that was a one off, but Angel Moises is almost as good as Angel Pagan.

btw, theyve arrested a 40-something year old homeless woman in the wrigleyville arsons.

Real Neal-

Does Guzman stand on top of the Wrigley scoreboard and throw score cards down onto Pagan after Pagan makes a golden Mark Prior idol?

Prior probably wont be there at the beginning of the season, but there are signs that he will be pitching ok by the end of the season. His velocity was better than in his first outing and that is a good thing. As far as the mechanics, he mentioned it and that is probably the first step to corecting it.

Why the worry on how many IP Guzman might have. Quick, name the #5 SP's who threw more than 165 IP last year? If Guzman earns the job and hits the wall at 135 IP, the Cubs still have options -- Marshall, Gallagher, Veal, et al. They have options that don't have to include Miller or Prior. There's almost 4,000,000 reasons why Prior is even a consideration for Cubs management and probably will be throughout the season.

JVB got hacked from the Nats roster, still no Cubs cuts yet

Speaking of comparisons between Rick Ankiel and Mark Prior, does anyone know if Prior can play outfield?

If Miller continues to be reasonably effective this ST, and Neil Cotts doesn't emerge from the personal blackhole he's in (same goes for MP), then we have to go with Miller as our #5 in April, not Guzman. GUZMAN goes to the pen.

The reasons?

(1) Let's assume Guzman does well and averages 6 innings per start. He hasn't pitched enough the last several years to push him past about 130 innings without risking health problems. That means he's limited to about 20 starts. Even if our first four SP's give us 30+ starts each, that still leaves us with 12-20 starts for a sixth starter to fill.
Why not let Miller do that for us at the start of the season?

(2) As has been pointed out, if Miller doesn't make the starting five, he wants to move on to another organization.
It's not likely he would be kept as a bullpen pitcher.

(3)Guzman's impressive fastball and command of the strikezone make him a good candidate for relief.

So, if we go with Miller as #5 we give ourselves more flexibility and chances for success. If we go with Guzman at the start we lose Miller.

Better to start the season with Miller if possible and finish with Guzman.

cwtp -

just playing devils advocate, why not trade miller now when you would proably get more for him? If you start the season with him and he is less than impressive, you would just have to give him away and probalby eat a lot of his salary.

I'll take 150 decent and improving innings out of Angel Guzman as my # 5 starter a lot sooner than I'll take 180 erractic and non-inspiring innings out of Wade Miller. If all Miller is capable of doing is chalking in with a 5.00 ERA and burning up the bullpen, then why on blazes go with that option. It's not like the Cubs are some powerhouse team aiming for the brass ring. Rather, this is a team that is trying to right the ship after losing 99 games in 2006.

Rob G.:
"There aren’t many rotations in baseball that don’t have question marks, get use to it."

We are talking about the Cubs with Jim Hendry as their GM, I think we all should be use to it unfortunately.

Soriano, CF
Theriot, 2B
Lee, 1B
Ramirez, 3B
Jones, RF
Floyd, LF
Blanco, C
Izturis, SS

btw, bonds is starting for SF.

'It’s not like the Cubs are some powerhouse team aiming for the brass ring. '

Umm, the Cubs management, and most of the prognosticators expect them to contend for the division title in 2007.

Cliff Lee from Cleveland is hurt, maybe they would like Miller as a temporary fill in? I think he won't be traded until just before the season when the Cubs can be confident that Prior, Cotts, Guzman or Marshall can handle the 5th starter spot, and the other teams realize they don't have anyone to handle theirs (or thier 4th).

Someguy, I think it's a case of all we could get for Miller right now is a few dozen balls and a broken bat. Maybe a few bucks thrown in to pay for his ticket out of town.

Indians have a Miller already, one of their top prospects Adam Miller. And chances are whoever Fausto Carmona is will take his spot in the meantime.

evenutally something will open up in the rotations, problem for the Cubs and Wade Miller is there are some teams with a bit better talent waiting to get dealt in Lieber and Penny.

Silent,

How do you figure Wade Miller will "burn up the bullpen" IF (YOUR NUMBERS) he pitches 180 innings?!!!

Javy Lopez got axed by the Rockies....

Sing and Montanez got reassigned for the O's.

Don't know if any of you noticed, or still care, but DONTRELLE WILLIS got knocked around today. 9 hits in 3 innings. The TWINS had 17 hits off the Marlins thru seven. Florida managed only 2.

Good point. Let me amend my statement to say that Wade Miller won't provide 180 innings. Not even close.

Look, the Cubs aren't going from a 63 win season to a 90 win season. It's just not likely. That being the case, then "invest" in Angel Guzman. If he gets hurt (again) or sucks, then go with Sean Marshall. If he does same, then go with Sean Gallagher. But for crying out loud, don't go with a Wade Miller who is a shadow of his former self.

The Mets have screaming need for starting pitching. I've got to believe Brad Penny is a good bet to wind up there within a matter of weeks.

"Look, the Cubs aren’t going from a 63 win season to a 90 win season. It’s just not likely."

3/4 of a year of dlee and soriano added...last year's starters compared to this year.

yeah, it could happen. its not impossible...its not even improbable. the team basically added everywhere but bullpen and that wasnt "broke" to begin with. even with the potential loss of wuertz to AAA there's still 2-4 good arms there depending on how positive/negative you wanna be about the pen.

“invest” in Angel Guzman. If he gets hurt (again) or sucks, then go with Sean Marshall. If he does same, then go with Sean Gallagher.

You must have really enjoyed last season, ST.

;>)

cubswinthepennant says:

March 12th, 2007 at 1:02 pm

If Miller continues to be reasonably effective this ST, and Neil Cotts doesn’t emerge from the personal blackhole he’s in (same goes for MP), then we have to go with Miller as our #5 in April, not Guzman. GUZMAN goes to the pen.

.................................................................................

The problem with this line of thinking is two-fold. First, is that there is generally 2 modes of stretching out a pitcher. As a starter and as reliever. If you put Guzman in the pen. One would assume that it would be hard on his arm to stretch back out. Especially with all of the physical ailments he has dealt with the past 3 seasons. Secondly, with that in mind. Guzman would be better served in Iowa stretching his arm out to start when the inevitable injury occurs. Putting Guzman in the pen puts the Cubs at risk of being a Starter short. Its not like we are relying on durable track record guys as it is. Other than Z, who has had minor back and forearm injuries in the past, and Rich Hill who may very well implode. Every other starter on the team has had a major arm surgery in the past 3 years.

'problem for the Cubs and Wade Miller is there are some teams with a bit better talent waiting to get dealt in Lieber and Penny.'

But not a lot of teams like to pay their 5th starter or an injury fill in $8 million.

If Miller throws together a few more good starts (his ERA is 3.60 in ST through 5 innings), there will undoubtedly be two scouts in the same organization who will use words like 'pitchability' and 'gamer' and convince their GM's to give up a A baller with bad plate discipline or control for him.

'Every other starter on the team has had a major arm surgery in the past 3 years.'

Well 'every other starter on the team' must exlcude Prior, Marquis, Marshall and Lilly then?

yeah true Real Neal about the money, but most teams don't even need a 5th starter though for the first few weeks so it'll be interesting what ends up going down and which scouts start showing up to games. Nothing will start happening though until the last week I assume.

I wonder if Wade Miller will accept a minor league assignment to keep stretched out as a starter if there isn't a role here for him immediately?

Going from 63 wins to 81 wins will be a monumental task. Yes, the acquisition of Soriano, Lilly, Floyd and DeRosa will surely help the Cubs. But don't ever, ever underestimate how hard it is to achieve an 18 game swing in victories. All you need to do is be a student of baseball history to understand the practical challenge. Dreaming of a .500 record is reasonable, but dreaming of 90 is ridiculous. I'd love for history and me to be proven wrong.

You've got to walk before you can run.

I was going to go to bed, but since the game is on MLB TV I guess I have to watch at least one Z vs BB at bat. I wonder if Bonds has taught Z respect yet...
Well, 0 for 4 last year, I guess not.

So...I think the conclusion everybody is drawing is correct. In the end, Wade Miller is going to be the # 5 starter on this team. Angel Guzman would have to pitch like Juan Marichal and Miller like Glendon Rusch after a donut binge for this equation to change in three weeks. It's really too bad. Oh well.

"But don’t ever, ever underestimate how hard it is to achieve an 18 game swing in victories. All you need to do is be a student of baseball history to understand the practical challenge."

here's some history...

2006 cubs roster.

here's what matters.

2006 cubs roster vs. 2007 cubs.

here's what doesnt matter...what everyone else in any other era did. its not even bucking the odds as much as it would take an UNKNOWN future failure to be as bad as the 06 club in any department but the pen.

this is a 115+m club. it does not play by the rules of baseball history. the amount of improvement via the dollar bill isnt something with a 100 year precidence or even a 30 year one in the amount of clubs you see these days.

Silent Towl: To me, the answer is easy. Guzman, Guzman a thousand times Guzman. Give the kid a chance.

Does anyone else remember last week when ST said Cotts could, should, and would be the 5th starter?

Which way is the wind blowing today?

and Miller like Glendon Rusch after a donut binge
---------
Homerism:

Mmmmm...donuts, is there anything they can't do?

'Dreaming of a .500 record is reasonable, but dreaming of 90 is ridiculous.'

The Tigers added Rodgers and Jones and turned that into 24 extra wins and a AL Pennant in 2006.

In 2005 the White Nothings turned Carlos Lee into Posednik and a middle reliever and turned that into 16 exta regular season wins and a WS title.

In 2004 the Cardinals added Jeff Suppan and gained 20 regular season wins and a NL pennant.

In 2003 the Cubs added Sean Estes and went from 67 wins to 88 wins and game 7 of the NLCS.

In addition to Crunch's comment (and the fact that we're essentially adding Lee as well) I am going to go ahead and say, that history does not support your opinion. Some team will add 20 wins this year, and the Cubs are the one best positioned to do it.

(3)Guzman’s impressive fastball and command of the strikezone make him a good candidate for relief.

Huh? Heaven forbid we should give rotation slots to guys who can hit the strike zone.

aaronb,

It was none other than Lou Piniella who said that Guzman may make the team either as an SP or reliever.

And, since we still have options on Guzman this year, he can be sent down to Iowa for a few starts to stretch him out should the Cubs decide to use him as their regular #5.

What's wrong with Brenly? More Dan P.

vs. Matt Morris:
Soriano infield single (bobbled by 2nd baseman), Theriot double lost in the sun by Bonds...looks like we're going to see alot of Quade holding men at third. DLee on from booted ball at SS by Viszuel. Cubs1-0. ARam single to CF, Quade holding up Theriot...I don't like this having to hate our 3B coach, in fact I want the 3B coach to be invisible. Floyd up with a pop fly to LF, Bonds another ball lost in the sun...Cubs 2-0. Love seeing Bonds lying on his butt.

Umm, the Cubs won 66 games last year, not 63. Not like that makes a world of difference, but still.

This roster (on paper) looks about a million percent better than last year's. The Cubs are taking a vastly improved team into a division that otherwise didn't really improve. 85-90 wins seems entirely plausible, and I'll eat a Wrigley Field paver with Silent Towel's name engraved on it if they're not at least .500.

JJones two run single with the bags loaded. cubs 4-0

this is fun watching the Cubs on slingbox from Auckland, New Zealand at 9 in the morning

# 1:

Nobody said Neal Cotts would and shoud be the # 5 starter. Rather, what I said, is that Neal Cotts would be strong candidate for the role. Reading is fundamental.

#2:

An 18 win swing in the standings WILL be a big deal. Think .500 before you think even grander ambition. Especially with a starting rotation that carries plenty of question marks and a bullpen that still has Ryan Dempster listed as closer. And don't underestimate the chances of a porous defense and lousy defensive catcher undermining efforts.

"Quade holding up Theriot…I don’t like this having to hate our 3B coach, in fact I want the 3B coach to be invisible."

Why would you unnecessarily risk injury from a collision at the plate, twisted ankle, or a tweaked hamstring during meaningless games? Keep holding guys at third until a win actually means something.

there's a gameday thread if you guys wish to chat about today's game...

I agree with Doug Dascenzo

The last thing I want is for Mike Quade to send the runner in a bloody spring training game. Error on the side of caution.

Towel forgets that Dustbag alone cost the Cubs 10 wins a season. I think the Cubs are a mid-80s winning team in 07, and that will put them right there for either the Central title or the Wild Card the last week of September. And that's all the more we can ask for. From there, recent history suggests it's as much luck as anything else to get from playoff spot to WS title.

Lilly missed half a season with shoulder surgery. Jason Marquis had TJS. Marshall and Prior you have me on. But I dont consider either guy to be the model of health.

silent, its not much of overestimating as much as it is fairly estimating.

yes, adding soriano, 3/4 of a year of dlee, and almost any starting pitching compared to last year has an impact and its not really minor. that's before we even come to talking about the roles of guys like murton/floyd/etc.

and i have no idea where this "leaky d" thing comes from unless you think the OF is a bumbling crew of ineptitude cuz its not going on in the IF.

Question--are Les Walrond and Buck Coats still on the 40-man roster?

'Lilly missed half a season with shoulder surgery. Jason Marquis had TJS. Marshall and Prior you have me on. But I dont consider either guy to be the model of health. '

You said, 'in the last three years'. And you don't miss half a season with major surgery, you miss a whole season.

walrond- no
coats-yes

Crunch, I don't disagree with a thing you state. Fact is the Cubs should be a distinctly better ballclub. Climbing 18 games in the standings to get to .500 is reasonable. But to think even beyond that point is premature, and I will argue a bit ridiculous. This team still has major question marks and fundamental weaknesses. Can they overcome these flaws? Sure, at one level or another. But lets see it first before we make the proposition that this is an 87 or 90 win team.

I think people are guilty of underestimating the NL Central too. Adam Wainwright has pitched supremely for the Cardinals this spring. Kip Wells is also making a believer of Dave Duncan. The Cardinals might be weakened and have big question marks of their own, but I don't see them fading into oblivion. Not with Carpenter, Pujols and Rolen hanging around. And the Brewers and Pirates are both, in my opinion, poised to make some real noise in the division. Yes, he said the Pittsburgh Pirates. Look at some of those starters, then look at that bullpen, then look at Jim Tracy sittin in the dugout.

TEAM DER the last 5 seasons via BP.com

(which of course is our team's ability to turn balls in play into outs, team in parenthesis is the ML leader that year)

2006 - 6 of 30 (Padres, Tigers were 2nd)
2005 - 13 of 30 (Oakland, Wsox were 2nd)
2004 - 13 of 30 (St. Louis)
2003 - 16 of 30 (Seattle)
2002 - 26 of 30 (Anaheim)

I don't see how Soriano instead of Pierre and Floyd's time is going to make us go from good to crap. The upgrades of Izturis over Cedeno, Lee over whomever will likely negate any of that anyway. (Derosa's an upgrade over Walker as well although Walker didn't end up playing all that much at 2b last year)

Silent Towel,

66 + 18 = 84
182/2 = 81
84 >

84 is not equal to 81 - friggin pseudo html

A lot of negative things have been said about the Cubs starting rotation, but how many NL teams have a significantly better starting five than the Cubs. I know there are a few, but are there really that many?

Phillies, Dodgers, Padres and Brewers are the ones people are looking at. Cubs are in the 2nd tier there somewhere. A few good or bad breaks and the Cubs move up and the others go down.

No argument on my end that the Cub rotation is better. But when Jason Marquis is being counted on as the # 3 starter, Rich Hill is still an unproven commodity (although the positives outshine the concerns) and there is big fat question mark who will be the # 5 starter, then your rotation is far from a certainty.

Crunch:
"yeah, it could happen. its not impossible…its not even improbable."

Man, if you think it is not improbable, the over/under is 82.5 in Vegas I think for the Cubs wins this year. Load up on it!!!

if i gambled, i'd take that one and flip it. vegas doesnt even think a 110-120m team cant get to .500? wow.

can barely break .500...oops =p

Rob -- Would you add Arizona to your list of teams with a better starting rotation than the Cubs?

yeah, probably should have mentioned Arizona too in that top tier, folks seem to like them. Seems though if Big Unit falls, their rotation falls like a house of cards and he certainly doesn't have age or a clean injury history going for him.

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