I'm worried that our best hitter and best pitcher are two of the most injury-prone players in the game
I'm worried that we signed Dempster back before the economy completely tanked, and wound up over-paying.
I'm worried that the Dempster overpay caused us to trade away DeRosa, which, I worry, has greatly weakened our bench.
And, I worry, has greatly weakened our chemistry, whatever the hell that is.
I'm worried that Carlos Marmol will tire of his experiment living
amongst humans, and decide to return to his normal, alien form, go back
to the mothership, and report to the Martians that no, the earthlings
do not offer any worthy baseball competition. Marmol the Martian will
then leave us as he explores other worlds in search of competition.
I'm worried that Carlos Zambrano is on the Livan Hernandez Career Arc.
I'm worried that you, gentle reader, won't follow me below the fold...
Time for that Player A, Player B, Player C contrivance, using the average of the five different 2009 projection systems available at FanGraphs.
Player A also has 13 Gold Gloves, 12 All-star Game appearances, an MVP award and a World Series ring.
Player B also has... well... uh... A Funny Middle Name. He's 7 months younger than player A, too.
Player C also has... well... uh... A Funny First Name. And middle name. He's hurt just a bit in this comparsion because he's so incredibly anonymous that he didn't get included in Bill James' projection system, which usually has a tick or two higher offensive projections than the other four projection systems.
If you haven't figured it out yet...
Perhaps you have run into "word clouds," a visual device that represents how frequently different words appear in a text. As a historian I love it, as I can do fun things like compare Obama's 2008 Democratic National Convention nomination acceptance speech with McCain's from the Republican National Convention.
That's useful stuff. I can show word clouds like those to my students, and ask them what the clouds do (and do not) reveal.
But who cares about utility. Let's use some word clouds to navel-gaze, and check out our favorite baseball-related websites.
W - Wood (3-2), History. Fastballs over the outside corner. Generous outside corners.
L - Reynolds (2-3), any losers who didn't see this game live because they were out in the rain and cold shooting a bad round of golf. Trying to come up with an adequate term for that freaky breaking pitch of Wood's.
Things to Take from This Game
1. Wood Strikes Out 20, Two Batters Reach in Complete Game Shutout
From the first few pitches of the game it was clear that Wood had a potentially history-making fastball and breaking stuff working today. Wood K'd his first five,and gave up his only hit on a grounder by Gutierrez off of Orie's glove. This won't make me the most popular guy around here, but yeah, it was a hit. It also was a play that Orie probably makes more often than not. Tough luck for everyone involved. The only other runner came on a curveball that got away from Wood and beaned Biggio. The performance is every bit as dominating as the box score will indicate. Almost without exception, the Astros looked completely helpless.
2. Cubs scratch out 2 runs against Reynolds
Reynolds threw a complete game gem, himself, with 10 Ks and 1 ER in 8 innings. The Cubs' scores came on a Grace "double" in the second, on an incredibly generous ruling where third-baseman Howell got completely devoured by a bouncer. Grace then advanced to third as left-fielder Dave Clark throws away the potential play at second base. Oh Henry! drove him in with a sac fly to Alou in deep center field. They added another for good measure in the eighth; Morandini and Grace singled, with Morandini scoring on an attempted 5-4-3 double play that was too slowly turned and resulted in a fielder's choice.
3. Greatest Game Ever?
A traditional recap can not adequatly contextualize this game. The central question at this moment, just minutes after witnessing this gem, is not "what do we take from this game?" but "where will this game place among the all-time great games ever pitched?" Larson's perfect game came in a far more important context. Haddix's perfect game through 12 innings kept more hitters off base for longer. Clemens has two 20-K games to his record, but as I thumb through the pages of my favorite baseball encyclopedia, I see that Clemens gave up five hits in his 1996 gem, and a run on three hits in 1986. The 1996 Tigers and 1986 Mariners, furthermore, were no 1998 Astros. IS this the greatest game ever? If only we had some sort of pitcher's in-game dominance statistic, and a place that compiled every statistic from every game ever played. Then we might have a more objective idea of where this game ranks on the list of all-time great pitching performances. In the meantime, here's hoping that Wood's career is as successful and distinguished as the Rocket's.
4. Looking to the Future... All the way to the Year... 2000...
This has to portend well for the Cubs. If Wood can stay healthy and anchor a rotation with Trachsel, and another talented young arm like Geremi Gonzalez or Terry Adams or Telemaco emerges as a compliment, we could have a dominant rotation for a decade to come. We just need Wood's health to hold, and though we know he was worked hard in high school, he seems to be a very well built young man, and hopefully can keep his strength up. The Cubs winning a world series may be about as likely as a black president or a second Great Depression, but Wood may have the arm to get us there.
The if-this-is-his-rookie-year, just-imagine-the-things-to-come details, below.
I was meaning to write a nice update of spring training storylines like Rob has done in the post below, but I'm too busy
reading rejection letters from Universities being chased by spurned Valentines to scour the globe for the informative content that you, the reader deserve.
Then I remembered that it's spring training, and the stories write themselves.
So here are your Mad Libs that need filling in. The story itself is below the fold. (No peeking until you've entered your words!)
1. A Cubs Player
2. A number
3. A celebrity
4. A food
5. A gerund (a verb + ing)
6. A noun
7. A Cubs Player
8. A body part
9. A medical procedure
10. A number
11. A roster position
12. A Cubs Player
13. An adjective
14. A Cubs Player
15. An Adjective
16. A player from another baseball team
17. A sports reporter
18. A retired player
19. An adjective
20. A roster position
21. A feature of Wrigley Field
22. + 23. Two corporations
24. An occupation
25 + 26. Two Celebrities
27. A tragedy
28. A Cubs Player
29. A noun.
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich has been arrested on corruption charges. The most prominent charges involve allegations that he essentially tried to sell his pending appointment of a successor to the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Obama.
However, the indictments also include a charge that Blagojevich threatened to make assistance in the Tribune's efforts to sell Wrigley Field conditional on the Tribune firing members of its editorial board who had criticized his administration and even called for his impeachment.
Not wanting to pre-empt the winter meeting updates too much, the details are after the break.
Some of this has already been reported in the previous thread, but rumor has it that there are a few jerks out there who don't read every comment of every thread. I can't imagine who would be such a loser, it's just something I heard...
For those ignorant non-message board reading unwashed masses, I sadly report that Henry Blanco's brother has been murdured in Venezuela. Carlos Blanco had been kidnapped two weeks earlier and held for ransom. For several years now, Venezuelan players in MLB have had cause to worry about their families' safety back home. Before making news for his attempt to use a machette to, uh, creatively beat out the fire he had started by dousing five employees with gasoline, Ugueth Urbina had to cope with his mother's kidnapping. The personal security measures that Venezuelan players have felt compelled to take since then are eye-opening. Our sympathies are with the Blanco family.
Our sympathies are also with Dusty Baker, if he thinks Kerry Wood will sign with Cincinatti in order to serve as set-up guy to Francisco Cordero.
The latest rah-rah piece from Muskat informs us that the Cubs like their current roster as they enter the winter meetings. As well they should.
Finally, there's some phony-baloney corporate-sponsored baseball awards that the fans can vote on, and that carry about as much weight and meaning as your vote on ratemypoo.com (I didn't link to it, on the grounds that no good could possibly come of it.)
W - Billingsley (1-0)
L - Zambrano (0-1)
Things to Take from This Game
1. Alex Gonzalez Redux
Second inning with Ethier on first, the dodgers put on a hit and run. Loney hits the ball to shortstop. But with Theriot covering the bag, he's out of position, can't make the barehand stop of the chopper. Ruled a hit. Correctly. Two batters later, DeWitt hits a potential inning-ending double-play ball right at DeRosa, but it pops out of his glove, and everyone's safe with a run scoring on the play. Lee makes an error on the next play, a chopper right at him hit by Blake, loading the bases. A Furcal bunt and a Martin bases-clearing double to the left-center Gap, and the Cubs found themselves down 5-0 going into the bottom of the second. A particular shame as Z had looked really focused, sharp, pitching quickly, with an awesome fastball, only to have his defense betray him and then give up a legit double.
- Ramirez also made a lame error a couple innings later. No damage was done, save to our pride.
- And Theriot gives the Cubs infield the Defensive Anti-Cycle, an error by each infielder, when he throws one away in the ninth.
2. Manny Ramirez Redux
Manny hit a gargantuan home run. He's good.
3. Ah, screwit.
Cotts and Marmol struggled, the Cubs got through 2/9ths of a 9-run comeback in the bottom of the ninth, other things probably happened to.
The "we have not yet begun to fight!" "No, really... we haven't yet begun to fight...." details, below.