A Random Walk before Cubs Pitchers and Catchers Report
Some interesting storylines developing this weekend.
Alex Rodriguez, Donald Fehr and Bud Selig are going to have some splainin' to do with Sports Illustrated breaking a blockbuster HERE regarding ARod testing positive for two anabolic steroids in 2003 while with Texas. In fact, it's not just ARod but 104 players in total are on this list, which led to MLB adopting a random testing program for steroids in 2004. More than 5% of players tested were showing positive results in what was hoped to be proof that steroid use was nothing more than a rare situation. When the games biggest stars get pantsed as cheaters, in this case as defined by ARod turning his talents into $25-30 million/year contracts, the steroid era stain just keeps on spreading. Kind of like that pink spot in "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back".
When approached by an SI reporter on Thursday at a gym in Miami, Rodriguez declined to discuss his 2003 test results. "You'll have to talk to the union," said Rodriguez, the Yankees' third baseman since his trade to New York in February 2004. When asked if there was an explanation for his positive test, he said, "I'm not saying anything."
Primobolan, which is also known by the chemical name methenolone, is an injected or orally administered drug that is more expensive than most steroids. According to a search of FDA records, Primobolan is not an approved prescription drug in the United States, nor was it in 2003.
Rodriguez finished the 2003 season by winning his third straight league home run title (with 47) and the first of his three MVP awards.
Because more than 5% of big leaguers had tested positive in 2003, baseball instituted a mandatory random-testing program, with penalties, in '04.
Truth or Consequences? This is the Katie Couric Interview with ARod after the Mitchell Report was released last year where he flat out denies using PED's. Here are three blunt questions he was asked in that interview:
Q: For the record, have you ever done steroids, Human Growth Hormone or any other PED's?
Q: Have you ever been tempted to use any of those things?
Q: Who do you think has the real HR record, Hank Aaron or Barry Bonds?
was on vacation (at the Dunes in Vegas) for his regular ESPN radio
"Talkin' Baseball" show. Jonathan Hood substituted and Len Kasper was
interviewed. Len did say they will have 9 Cub games on TV this spring starting with two from Las Vegas begining March 4th. ESPN-1000's website now has downloadable archives
to Levine's weekly show for those who need a "BRUUCE" fix.
The Waddle and
Silvy show, daytimes (locally in Chicago) on ESPN-1000 radio has a similar site that has archives.
Their show from Feb 4th has an interview with Steve Stone who typically
is critical of the Cubs (this time for trading DeRosa and not signing
In a separate interview (same show) they talk to Todd Hollandsworth who will
now be doing the pre/post game duties for the Cubs on Comcast Sports
Network. Hollandsworth should be a nice addition, replacing Dan Plesac who has moved on to the new MLB network. Hollandsworth had been a weekly feature on David Kaplan's WGN radio Sports Central show, which essentially turned into a test run for him getting the CSN job. Color me a big fan of Plesac's work and the new MLB network which just added Bob Costas to their talent pool this week.
Rock on Len. Roll on Bruce.
In this MASN interview with Rich Hill by Roch Kubatko, Hill says his loss of control was due to a bad back, not the YIPS. His problems in Venezuela winter ball were due to shoulder tendonitis which is supposedly now resolved. Hill refers to a small joint in his low back, probably referencing to problems with what is called lumbar facet syndrome.
Towel drills this spring would not be a good sign for Hill.
Phil "Wrongway" Rogers in his weekend Whispers column makes up the rumor that the Astros are planning a sneak attack on the Cubs by signing Adam Dunn which would bench CF Michael Bourne. The notion that he's proposing an outfield of Dunn-Pence-CLee would be essentially like making a death threat against Hunter Pence.
ESPN's Jerry Crasnik writes HERE that Ray Durham is considering retirement because he's not getting any job offers. It's just my opinion but Durham might be a better righty bench option (than Rich Aurelia) for the Cubs if he could fill in as a backup at 3B. That might be a big IF, but Durham did hit .289 .380 .432 in 2008. Aurelia can backup at 3B but his line in 2008 was .283 .332 .413, so Durham gets on base significantly better.
There are some cool looking advertisements (here) coming from the Cubs using the Wrigley Marquee and paired Cub players. Some of the titles include:
The Blueprint for Heaven's Ballpark, with Lou Piniella and Ryan Theriot
Home of the Mysterious 24 hour Flu, with Ryan Dempster and Geo Soto
The Reason You Put Up With the Winters, with Z and DLee
What Happens in Wrigleyville Stays in Wrigley, with Ted Lillyhammer and Aramis Ramirez
On Sunday, February 8 at 10:30 PM (Chicago time), Comcast SportsNet will air SportsNite: A Perspective on Cubs Pitching, a half-hour special breaking down this season’s Cubs starting rotation, relief corps and potential closers. The special will be hosted by Chicago Tribune Live host David Kaplan and CSN Cubs play-by-play announcer Len Kasper. The Cubs special will feature one-on-one interviews with Cubs pitchers Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall, Kevin Gregg and Neal Cotts, along with additional comments from Cubs manager Lou Piniella and Cubs vice president/general manager Jim Hendry.
I don't think his issue(s) will have anything to do with it. He hasn't hit since he's been back. Coghlan has the hot hand.
I'm not a denier but definitely a skeptic on Strop and Grimm, who struggle with fastball control. Strop doesn't go near the ninth inning, and note how Grimm couldn't close the deal even with a 5-run lead. So Felix Pena comes in and gets the 3-pitch game-ending strikeout like it was nothing.
And how about Almora missing that very catchable ball? That was unexpected after all the hype about his glove.
When Trea Turner misses balls like that--which he does--I draw conclusions from it. It seems to be the one chink in his armor. But I'll give Almora another chance.
Assuming Soler is good to go, I think it comes down to 3 of the following 4: Coghlan, TLS, Sczcur, Almora. Of the 4, TLS seems to be the hardest to justify, particularly given his behavioral issues.
I'm wondering if both Coghlan and LaStella make it. With Javy being able to play all the infield spots and Joe maybe wanting late-inning D when Soler plays (assuming he plays), hence either Szczur or Almora, I think LaStella might be the odd guy out.
Hendricks needs the win, anyway, plus a couple more.
My hunch is that Hendricks wins the Cy Young . . . for Lester. That is, without Hendricks tipping the scale toward the Cubs, Scherzer tops Lester.
Old Cub fans remember when Ken Hubbs died at 22 in the crash of a small plane he was piloting in a storm in Utah in 1964. But Hubbs was not an elite power pitcher like Score and Fernandez. Score lived a long time after the accident but it was (effectively) career-ending.
HAGSAG: Since I've only seen them throw in one game and in one "live" BP session, all I can do is provide initial first impressions.
Brailyn Marquez is listed at 6'4 but is probably more like 6'5 or 6'6. I would describe him as a younger version of Bryan Hudson, throwing a ton of ground balls but not getting a lot of swings & misses (yet). Because of his size he could eventually grow into more velocity, but right now he's mostly a pitch-to-contact guy. He generally throws strikes.
Phil, do Marquez and Ocampo look like prospects?
It helps when your defense has declared war against the H in WHIP.
Lackey finishes with a 3.35 ERA. Currently good for 13th in the NL. Not bad for a guy signed to be a #3 starter in a 15-team league.
He is also 6th in WHIP. Pretty amazing: Cubs have the #2, #3, #5 and #6 starters in WHIP.
Completely meaningless game, but Pena striking out Sean the Turd to with the bases loaded was very fun.
Other than one bad game in SD, Pena has been very good. Even with that game, 9.0 IP, 13 K, 0.89 WHIP.
101 wins...most since 1910 (104).
neat. ...or sad. pick one. pick both. 'murica.
Just looked up Grimm's stats -- after a great run, he gave up 2 runs vs. MIL then didn't pitch for 10 days. Don't remember why?
Sean Rodriguez's helmet looks like it's taking a dump
Grimm not doing himself any favors lately re: making the playoff squad. Seems to have lost the feel for his curveball.
j.grimm is literally worse than hitler.
felix pena, your turn.