NL Central Is Going to Be Awesome
Not much going on in Cubsland, but the Reds are done putting the finishing touches on their 2009 World Series team. Today, they added Cubs scraps Jacque Jones and Daryle Ward on minor league deals. They'll join Arthur Rhodes's neck, Willy Taveras at the top of the lineup (snicker) and Ramon Hernandez. This was the plan to overcome a 280 run difference and 23 games.
As for the Brewers, Ben Sheets is going to have surgery on a partially torn flexor tendon that will keep him out 4-6 months. Why don't we just just go ahead and count out 2009 in its entirety? The Brewers were counting on two draft picks from a team signing Sheets and already got screwed on a first round pick when the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira, which forced the Brewers to take the Yanks second round pick for signing Sabathia. I'm not sure of the rules on free agent compensation if Sheets doesn't sign until mid-season or possibly next offseason (but I'm sure Arizona Phil does). They also recently announced they were done for the offseason and perfectly content with a rotation of Yovani Gallardo, Dave Bush, Jeff Suppan and whomever else they can pull out of line from a brewery tour.
The Astros big moves were to add Jason Michaels, Aaron Boone and Mike Hampton and cut ties with one of their better hitters from last year - Ty Wigginton. Ed Wade, you're a sly one.
The Pirates added...fuck, who cares....
The Cardinals added some relievers and Khalil Greene. Troy Glaus is likely to miss some part of the beginning of the season after shoulder surgery in January. If Chris Carpenter is healthy and back to form, well they could be interesting. They were a pretty good offense last year, added Greene to it and tried to address some bullpen woes. Carpenter would only make them better, but his health is one helluva of an if.
So while many lament about the Cubs taking a few steps back this offseason or just treading water; (I'm in the treading water camp and when you won 97 games, that's perfectly acceptable. Also, after all these years of online chatting, I often find myself wanting to invoke parenthesis in the middle of an actual conversation with a live human being. But I fear they don't share my same addiction to chatting with anonymous online people...plus drawing parenthesis with my hands in the air looks weird) the rest of the NL Central seems to have accepted the Cubs as their dark overlords.
Also, our twitter page that I mentioned yesterday should now get automatically updated with the title of the post and a link back to the story. I also moved and added some things to the menu bar up top, should hopefully make things a little easier to find. TCR Junk Drawer is gone and has been replaced by Wiklifield and Arizona Phil's Corner. If anyone has a better name than "TCR Social" for links to our RSS info, facebook and twitter pages, I'm all ears. Finally, with the addition of an RSS feed to comments, you can now read comments from our mobile site. I'm hoping for a more functional mobile site by the end of the year, but at least it's something.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.
Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.
Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.
Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.
Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.
that game sounds fun as hell.