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Today's piece was written by Don Nelson (twinscubsfandon) and he has been a practicing Cubs fan since 1969. He lives in suburban Chicago and frequently talks about starting his own blog, which, he notes, requires a lot less energy and commitment than actually doing it. He works in advertising and carries a 1970 Don Kessinger baseball card in his briefcase. The beauty of having your favorite baseball teamís season reach a virtual end before its actual end is that you can get a head start on your season retrospective. (ì2005: A Kansas City Royals Year In Reviewî could have been penned in mid-May.) When I look back on the Cubs season, one of the more noteworthy events, I think, was the Red Soxí visit to Wrigley back in June. Youíll recall that series offered a satisfying result (two Cub wins out of three), the proverbial ìplayoff atmosphere,î and a lot of media blather about how the two franchises simply belonged on the same field.
Well, let me introduce myself before you read my dull words, that somehow made it into this very-appreciated site. I'm Carlos Rubi, an eighteen year old high school senior from Merida, Mexico; I've been a Cubs fanatic since 1994, and will be one until... well, until I stop caring. Or until I get married. Some of you may know me from the Parachat; I'm usually there to spend every other game, classes-permitting I also run a weblog Dusty Says, along with two other people. Well, then, I shall leave you with the article. Thanks to TCR for giving me this opportunity... He has the stuff to be the Cubs' closer of the future! How many times have we heard that in the past ten years? Try to remember the number. Three, four? Wrong. The closer role is as vital as a bag of carrots; though, in the modern way of playing baseball, it must be a role well defined and set to an individual. Through the minor leagues, and even in the major leagues, several lethal pitchers with arrow fastballs and knee-buckling breaking stuff have joined the spinning wheel that is the Cubs bullpen. Guys like Myers, Gordon, Alfonseca, Veres, Remlinger all have closed games for the Cubs, but all of those were acquired by trades or free agency. This story, though, will focus on the guys scouts have labeled as the perennial closers of the future (COTF); none of them, at the time of this article, have been able to succeed at that role.
GAME 133 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] LOS ANGELES DODGERS (60-72) @ CHICAGO CUBS (63-69) WRIGLEY FIELD, 1:20 pm CDT, TV: WGN, Fox Sports West 2
GAME 132 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] LOS ANGELES DODGERS (60-71) @ CHICAGO CUBS (62-69) WRIGLEY FIELD, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: WGN, Fox Sports West 2
Mark Prior, RHP
9-5, 3.68 ERA
147/45 K/BB, 21 HR in 132.0 IP
Brad Penny, RHP
6-8, 3.75 ERA
102/33 K/BB, 14 HR in 151.0 IP
CF Jayson Werth CF Jerry Hairston Jr.
SS *Oscar Robles SS Ronny Cedeno
2B Jeff Kent 1B Derrek Lee
LF * Ricky Ledee RF *Jeromy Burnitz
1B Jason Phillips 3B Nomar Garciaparra
3B Mike Edwards 2B *Todd Walker
C #Dionar Navarro LF Matt Murton
RF #Jose Cruz Jr. C Henry Blanco
P Brad Penny P Mark Prior
It would be nice, if over the last month, Prior could regain some of that confidence and swagger that he once possessed. He's been quite ordinary since coming off the DL, giving up at least 3 runs in seven of his last eight starts, seeing his ERA rise from 3.07 when he shutout the Pirates for eight innings on July 14th to it's current state of 3.68. Not bad, just not great and Prior needs to be great. His problem is easy enough to diagnose, his propensity to give up the big fly. His HR/9 rate is 1.43 this year, compared to 1.06 last year and a miniscule 0.63 in 2003. Keep it in the park, my friend! Looks like Dusty got the message that the kids should play, at least for a day. Let's hope it goes that way for the bulk of the season. Go Cubs!
You'll be seeing a few guest pieces over the next week or so as most of the TCR staff is cruising around the world from all the money we make from Paypal donations and you guys clicking on the ads. You guys do click on the ads, right? Hope you enjoy and we'll be back at full strength in a few weeks to bring you up to date coverage of everyone of Neifi's at-bats in September. Many of you may know me already, but the guys here at The Cub Reporter have asked me to write something. If you don't know me, then let me introduce my self. I am Chris Yarbrough formally from the state of Alabama. I now reside in "The Natural State," which is Arkansas for you guys who are keeping score. I am a sports writer in El Dorado, Ark., which is right above the Louisiana border. I mainly cover high school sports, but I do get to cover the occasional Louisiana Tech football game. This was supposed to run on Monday, but a short staff and a hurricane caused me to forget as I got out of work around 1 a.m. Also you can check out my site, The Yarbage Cub Review. We try to keep things going over there. Now onto our show:
The dismantlement of the 2005 Chicago Cubs continues. Todd Hollandsworth, like Matt Lawton and Mike Remlinger before him, possesses no value to the Cubs beyond this year, since his contract expires over the winter and promises no compensatory draft picks. Furthermore, any value he holds this year has been rendered an irrelevance by the Cubs' 62-69 circumstance. Moving him, and others in the same boat, to teams that still harbour dreams of October baseball is an inarguably sensible strategy, for, even if the typical return in players is similarly valueless and irrelevant, the transaction at least saves dollars that can ideally be spent more effectively at a later point. And, in some instances, the faceless names acquired in such deals do end up possessing long-term value. If possible then, the Cubs should perhaps also be considering moving Ben Grieve and Neifi Perez over the next day or two, while monitoring the markets for Ryan Dempster, Greg Maddux, Glendon Rusch and Jeromy Burnitz, although the need to clear waivers makes deals there unlikely. Moving Todd Walker would be far less wise. In the Cubs' particular instance as regards these small trades, there's also the Dusty Baker factor. It has to be at least wondered if putting such tantalising options such as Lawton, Hollandsworth and Reverse-split Remlinger just out of Dusty's otherwise inescapable reach plays any part in these moves, even if it's just a secondary motivation. From this vantage point a good few thousand miles away, Dusty Baker's misuse of the roster he's been afforded is as clear as day, even if the extent of the impact of that misuse, both absolute and relative, is far more debatable. Just what the view looks like from Hendry's much more privileged viewpoint, and just what difference, if any, that view is responsible for when it comes to his roster construction - those are the predominant thoughts on my mind when it comes to the Cubs these days. Are these moves, or any moves, what he believes to be best for the team, or best for the team as long as it's managed by Dusty Baker, on whom Hendry has all but staked his own position too? If the latter, I think it's entirely possible that Hendry's self-compromise is having just as great a detrimental effect as the much more obvious (and therefore much more maligned) mis-management of Dusty Baker. I spoke yesterday about Hendry's courage with regards to the Matt Lawton mistake, but if he sees Dusty Baker as a mistake, one that's compromising him and the team as a whole, the greater act of courage would be to send Dusty Baker packing, even if by doing so he runs the risk of going the same way himself. On the other hand, if he doesn't see Dusty Baker as a mistake, and this year's team is his own way of constructing a team capable of winning the World Series, I personally don't think he's got a good enough grasp of the big picture to be a general manager anyway. Discuss.
Todd Hollandsworth was traded to the Atlanta Braves tonight for minor league (wait for it)....pitchers Todd Blackford and Angelo Burrows. If you're too lazy to click the link, here's what the Cubs PR department has to say about the 2 "prospects":
Blackford, 20, is in his second professional season, having been selected by Atlanta in the 13th round of the 2004 draft. In 27 career games, the right-handed pitcher has gone 6-5 with a 4.60 ERA. This season, Blackford has gone 5-3 with a 3.17 ERA in 12 games for the Class A Danville Braves. He has held opponents to a .219 average and issued just two homers in 59 2/3 innings of work. Burrows, 25, was selected by the Braves in the ninth round of the 1999 draft. The right-handed pitcher has split the 2005 season between Class A Rome and Myrtle Beach, combining to go 4-3 with three saves and a 3.32 ERA in 30 relief appearances. Burrows, who began his career as an outfielder, batted .250 in 334 career games before being converted to a pitcher in 2004. In his first season on the mound, he was 2-5 with a 4.10 ERA in 22 relief appearances. He struck out 30 batters and allowed five homers in his 37 1/3 innings of work.
Matt Murton will be called up tomorrow to take Holly's spot and it looks like Jermaine Van Buren will be called up and placed on the 40 man roster to take Kerry Wood's spot, who will be placed on the DL tomorrow. Trans: To quote Bob Dylan,
Goodbye's too good a word, babe So I'll just say, "fare thee well." I ain't saying you treated me unkind. You could have done better but I don't mind. You just kinda wasted my precious time. But don't think twice, it's all right.
GAME 131 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] LOS ANGELES DODGERS (59-71) @ CHICAGO CUBS (62-68) WRIGLEY FIELD, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: ESPN, CSN, Fox Sports West 2
Jerome Williams, RHP
4-6, 4.74 ERA
51/31 K/BB, 12 HR in 79.2 IP
D.J. Houlton, RHP
4-7, 4.83 ERA
72/33 K/BB, 11 HR in 96.1 IP
3B Antonio Perez CF Jerry Hairston Jr.
SS *Oscar Robles 2B *Todd Walker
2B Jeff Kent 1B Derrek Lee
LF *Ricky Ledee RF *Jeromy Burnitz
1B Jason Phillips 3B Nomar Garciaparra
CF Jayson Werth LF *Todd Hollandsworth
C #Dionar Navarro SS #Neifi Perez
RF #Jose Cruz Jr. C Michael Barrett
P D.J. Houlton P Jerome Williams
You think we have problems, the Dodgers have Ricky Ledee batting cleanup and Jason Phillips starting at first base over Hee-Seop Choi even though a righty is on the mound. And every time I point out the deficiencies of another team's lineup, they pound us. Not to mention they have a relatively bad pitcher on the mound, who's certain to throw a gem tonight. You know when you look at Jerome Williams' numbers, he's not that good. Doesn't strike out a lot of guys, way too many walks for a guy who doesn't strike out all that many hitters and for a guy who's suppose to keep the ball on the ground, he's given up way too many dingers. He does have youth and "upside" going for him though. Why is Todd Hollandsworth in the lineup? That is really going to be the worst part of the rest of the season. Cause everyone including the Cubs brass has declared the season over, but Dusty just can't live with being below .500. So he's going to trot out marginal vets (Perez, Holly, etc) in an attempt to say he's a winning manager, thus not only is this season ruined, he's going to screw us up for next year too. Awesome!!! And how the hell is this game on ESPN by the way? Go Cubs!!
The white flags are upon us and here's another one. Kerry Wood will go under the knife on Wednesday for arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. When they first discussed surgery, I recall reading something about a 3 month recovery period and that is was very similar to the procedure that Matt Morris underwent for the Cardinals last year. That means he could start throwing once again in December, plenty of time to start addressing the issues with his mechanics that are probably the source of his problems. Whether that will happen is another story of course. I wonder if the Cubs will DL him and call someone up or just wait until Septemeber 1st when rosters expand. Could this finally be a way to get Jermaine Van Buren up? My limited roster knowledge tells me they could put Wood on the 60 day DL and get Van Buren on the 40 man roster. Speaking of the 40 man roster and September call-ups, any guesses? Here's mine for what they're worth. Adam Greenberg (once AA playoffs are over) Jermaine Van Buren (see above) Mike Fontentot (only if Todd Walker gets traded) Matt Murton Rich Hill Sergio Mitre Geovany Soto (almost always call up a 3rd catcher) I think John Koronka is a small possibility and Ronny Cedeno will stick around once Aramis comes back off the DL. I don't see any point in wasting money to bring up Ben Grieve.
Thanks to Steve Holley of Inside the Ivy for helping to fill in the blanks on some of the injuries to our minor leaguers. If you care what is going on with our lil' Cubs, you'll certainly want to check out the site. Some of the best inside info you'll get. MVN also has new minor league site devoted entirely to the Chicago Cubs. Check out Road to Wrigley. Team Records updated through 8/28/05; Individual Stats updated through 8/28/05
Organizational Records
TeamW-LGB/Pos.Last 10
Chicago Cubs62-68(Div)20.5/4th
(WC)7.5/7th
4-6
Iowa Cubs62-696.5/4th5-5
West Tenn Diamond Jaxx*34-281.5/2nd5-5
Daytona Cubs30-316.0/5th6-4
Peoria Chiefs29-335.0/6th5-5
Boise Hawks29-373.0/3rd6-4
AZL Cubs8-179.0/9th4-6
Cubs Ex W/L: 65-65; (2003) 68-62; (2004) 71-59 * West Tennessee clinched the first half North Division title of the Southern League

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