John Takes A Halladay

GAME 58 PREVIEW TORONTO BLUE JAYS (31-28) at CHICAGO CUBS (30-27) Wrigley Field, 1:15pm CT, TV: ESPN, WGN
SP Sergio Mitre SP Roy Halladay
RF Reed Johnson SS #Neifi Perez
LF *Frank Catalanotto CF *Corey Patterson
CF Vernon Wells 1B Derrek Lee
1B Eric Hinske 3B Aramis Ramirez
3B Aaron Hill 2B *Todd Walker
2B #Orlando Hudson LF Jason Dubois
SS *Russ Adams LF *Todd Hollandsworth
C Ken Huckaby C Michael Barrett
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
John got a bit tied up with other matters, I assume of vast importance, for how else could he dare shun his TCR duties? A demerit for him.... It was another disappointing loss last night, thanks in part to a mental lapse by Will Ohman (not covering first extended the eighth and the next hitter singled home a run) and then an unfortunate throwing error by NEIFI! (the ball squirted away from the outstretched Derrek Lee, resulting in another Blue Jay score). Two runs on two very makeable plays. The difference in last night's game? You guessed it: two runs. So today, although the game hasn't quite reached "must-win" status, more like "good idea to win" status, the Cubs trot out Sergio Mitre versus former Cy Younger Roy Halladay. Halladay has regained his 2003 form, it appears - he's 9-2 with a 2.56 ERA and 4.53 K/BB ratio. On paper it looks like the Cubs are set up to be swept, but, as the saying goes, that's why they play the games. Sergio has shutdown the Blue Jays for six innings so far and the first four and one-thirds of those innings were of the perfect variety before Aaron Hill reached on an infield single. Not impressed by the Cubs' offense, Sergio has contributed with the bat as well, doubling in a run and then scoring on a single by Corey. It's 2-0 Cubs entering the top of the 7th and Mitre is back on the mound with Ohman up in the pen. Keep it up....
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Comments

Check out the picture Yahoo has for Serg: http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/players/7186.

Is that Capt. Jack from Pirates of the Carribean? Looks like someone drew that mustache and goat on.

Haha, I thought the same thing.

Can we crown this guy our acclaimed ace now before he gets back to earth?

for those with the benefit of viewing the game, who is warming up?

Hah! I had just mailed a note to Dan Patrick's show regarding Mitre's mug shot. :-)

BTW, Mitre's outs for today:

Strikeouts: 6
Ground outs: 15
Fly outs: ZERO

I'm at work at can't watch the game, but that particular stat is telling, especially with the wind blowing out to left.

hey. long time reader. new poster. haven't actually seen mitre pitch this season until this game, but he seems a little heavier than last year, and i don't remember him hitting 94 on the gun. impressive performance. watching this on espn makes me realize just how good steve stone is. brenly is just awful.

Unfortunately, our only audio option on television is to mute Brenly and Kasper.

Well, 25 pitches for a save is probably a tad excessive, but he got the job done. And I'm sure Dempster's exceeded many of TCR members expectations.

Kasper sounds like a bad video game announcer. Totally generic and uninspired.

Kasper is a clown!

At least Kasper passes along real information occasionally. Brenly brings nothing.

For you "thirty-somethings" out there, Sergio Mitre's pic in Yahoo reminds me of the fake ID shot in "Weird Science". He looks like he's twelve.

Nice game though, I guess Sergio would rather have Koronka sent back down to Iowa than himself ... it was a close call up to this point.

Sergio! Two hits, six K's in 7 innings! And he drives in one run and scores the other! And Dempster strikes out the side in the 9th!

I feel better about last night already...

Although I was surprised to see Lee playing and Corey batting second.

What was truly awful was that segment last night with Mike the claw vendor. It lasted a whole inning, bottom and top. Then right afterwards they had an extended interview with Prior and Wood's wives. Between those two segments they seemed to go an eternity without mentioning two words about the game. It was truly awful programming that makes me wish MLB extra innings will start broadcasting the opposing teamís coverage.

I donít mind Brenly and Kasper when they talk about the game, but last night it was like they were purposely distracting us from it.

don't get your hopes up - as soon as you do - this team will let us down, just think pessimistically for every game and they'll keep winning!

That was a big win...even with 2 ugly losses, we have won 13 of the last 18. Now we must start to estabilish some home field dominance.

A couple random notes:
- We have now gone 59 Straight home series of 3 games or more without getting swept. I'd venture to guess that the Cards and Yanks have been swept at home at least a half dozen times each over that same period. This dates back to the 2nd to last series of 2002 when the Cubs were swept at wrigley by the Reds.

It's an impressive stat in my mind as it shows we have been able to keep out of extended losing streaks...but less so because the Cubs haven't done a great job at sweeping the other team at Wrigley either so it balnces out.

- Mitre's ground ball to flyball ratio = 15-0. That's fantastic.

- 3 shut outs by the Cubs in the last 7 games, 2 started by fill-ins (Rusch and Z).

Eh, Z a fill in? Try MitrÈ.

anyone see this trade:

http://sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb...

Ugueth Urbina, Ramon Martinez to the Phillies
Placido Polanco to the Tigers

Let's go see Sergio!

Boy do I feel like an ass. Just when I say Mitre has been unimpressive and ask for somebody new, he goes and impresses the hell out of me.

Forgive me for my knee-jerk reaction. However, I still stand by the fact that I would rather see Jerome starting than Sergio.

In any case, I'm glad we could salvage the series. A day off and then the other Sox.

I saw that trade, Rob, and I'm somewhat puzzled by it from the Tigers's perspective. They are giving up on Omar Infante a bit early, I think, and they trade away the biggest chit they have (Urbina) for a rather overpriced but somewhat-effective Polanco. Looks like there is no cash involved (both Polanco and Ugie have similar salaries, about $4M or so). Great trade for the Phils, I just gotta wonder what Detroit was thinking.

"Kasper sounds like a bad video game announcer. Totally generic and uninspired."

You can substitute the name Chip Caray for Kasper and the statement remains true. In fact, Hughes sounds pretty cheesy at times as well. They all, at times. sound like someone doing a parody of an announcer.

I take it Ramon Martinez went to the Phillies, seeing as he was already a Tiger?

mmm...meat tray

Yes, John...otherwise that'd be some trade! It looks like an arms race might be starting in the NL East -- every team is close enough to taste it. The next move is the Mets, then the Braves...too bad the Nats will be handcuffed, just like the last two years.

For those who didn't get to actually see any of it, Sergio was working a pitch that I guess was a cutter. It was coming in at 90-92mph, but had a ton of movements on it. Not only did it often start on the outside corner and make it all the way to the inside corner, but it had maybe a foot of drop in it as well. I say I *guess* it was a cutter, because I didn't think cutters had that much vertical movement. I almost want to call it a slider, but at 90-92 that is hard to believe.

It was a nasty pitch, and induced many a groundball. Sergio was good in his 1st appearance home against the Astros. Then he was bad home against the Rockies, and at San Diego for the Cubs only West Coast loss (my 1st game @ PetCo, thanks a lot Serg!). Now with his good game today, he has perhaps demonstrated that his first outting wasnt a total fluke. Outting 2 he was flat out bad and g ave up 3 dingers to Colorado. Outting 3, the defense was awful. And in both of these outtings, Novoa was called on with runner on base to take over for Mitre, and of course gave up runs.

Check out these GB/FB numbers: 15/4, 14/6, 12/4, 15/0. Nice. His walks were 1, 1, 3, 1. So no control issues. These are both continuations of what he did in the first 2 months of last year. Has Mitre finally arrived? Not a star, because I doubt he will be able to avoid the occassional bad outting, but a real positive for the team.

Just give Novoa the day off when he pitches. Well, I'd give Novoa the year off at this point.

I don't know what you folks are talking about, I clearly wrote

Ugueth Urbina, Ramon Martinez to the Phillies
Placido Polanco to the Tigers

Go ahead, check it....

(Waving hands in front of face)...You've seen nothing

too bad the Nats will be handcuffed, just like the last two years.

I wouldn't count on that. The Nats GM has said he expects to have some money to spend, come trade deadline time.

For those who didn't get to actually see any of it, Sergio was working a pitch that I guess was a cutter. It was coming in at 90-92mph, but had a ton of movements on it. Not only did it often start on the outside corner and make it all the way to the inside corner, but it had maybe a foot of drop in it as well. I say I *guess* it was a cutter, because I didn't think cutters had that much vertical movement. I almost want to call it a slider, but at 90-92 that is hard to believe.

I can't say I was paying all that close attention to what Mitre was throwing but he appeared to be throwing his two seamer most effectively and that may be the pitch your describing. If you're talking about a pitch that starts on the left side of the plate and then moves to the right (starts in on the lefty hitter and moves away or starts away from a righty hitter and moves in), then I think it's his two-seamer. Maybe he got some tips from Z or Maddux who throw it quite effectively. As far as I know he throws a two seam fastball, four seam fastball and a slider.

A cutter is what Mariano Rivera throws and that's a pitch that will dive in on a lefties hands, going from right to left and generally up as well. A two seam fastball has more of a sink to it and moves from left to right.

CUBS WIN!!!!!! In Dusty WE Trusty!!!

Wood threw 3 innings in a simulated game. Looks like one more in 4-5 days and tehn he will go to minors for rehab assignment. As long as there are no more setbacks. End of the month it looks like.

Also, sports talk radio here in Chicago keeps talking about thinking the Cubs need to trade for starting pitching...WHAT?? That is the least of their problems right now. Try OF and bullpen. Also any starting pitcher is going to demand much more in trade value. Also, we will already have 4 starting pitchers under contract next year assuming Maddux hits his IP total (Maddux, Prior, Z, and Wood). IF we trade for a starter it would only be to rent him and that is a waste of minor league talent.

There is also a mutual option with Rusch who I sure hope stays next year

Jessica

Jessica-
Actually, it is a players option for Rusch @ $2.0 million. That is why I did not include him. There is a chance he might continue to pitch good and turn down the option. But in all likely hood, the Cubs would just renegotiate with him and resign him again at a little more. But for right now there is 4 signed starters and one other with a players option.

Just and FYI, Maddux's 2006 year vests if he has 400 IP total in 2004 and 2005. He had 212.2 IP last year and is at 74.1 IP through this year (on pace for 223 IP), so he is more than going to make it unless something major happens.

Again, the point being we have no need for another starting pitcher. We need an OF bat.

Not a star, because I doubt he will be able to avoid the occassional bad outting

Stars have occasional bad outings also. Derek Lee and his 0 for 5 in game 2 in SD, Prior has bad starts here and there.

Trust me...if Mitre pitched like this every other game, and pitched like he did in SD the other games, with the occasional real bad outing, he would be a star.

There's no reason to be terribly surprised that Mitre pitched well, as he's had very good numbers in the minors at every level. True, he was promoted to the bigs a bit early last year, but there's no reason to think he can't be an effective major league starter at this point.

He's actually good. If he was a bigger name with the same minor league track record, everyone would think he's a future star.

I agree that starting pitching is at the bottom of the our
list of needs but my top one is a REAL lead off man
Someone with SPEED and CONTACT as oppossed to
power.

FYI trust me I count EVERY Maddux inning towards
the 400. Not too worried on that one.

Jessica

I'm I the only one who does not want Maddux to be back next year?

I'm also not on the Mitre bandwagon yet. Brilliant outing at an important time, but I want to see consistancy from him especially after the first time through the order.

Regarding #24 and #27, Rob is correct on this. The pitch in question is a two-seam fastball, and it's Mitre's bread and butter pitch. The two-seamer isn't that rare - Carlos Zambrano throws one, but better examples are Brandon Webb, Jeff Weaver, Carl Pavano, Danny Kolb. Mitre also throws a slider and an occasional changeup and curveball. I'm not sure if he throws a four-seam fastball. He definately doesn't throw a cutter.

Cutters, I think, are the hardest pitch to recognise from their motion - the movement on them is pretty slight (tails in right to left, Rob said upwards, but I'd say not quite so much downwards as you'd expect rather than upwards) and if I'm not paying attention I often mistake it just for a normal fastball. It's mostly effective when thrown to opposed hitters, as it's a couple of mph slower than a fastball and it tails in on the hands at the last moment and jams. Hitters then tend to be able to only make weak contact or they'll hit it hard but a long way foul.

Does that mean that Billy Wagner is available?

I was speaking more specifically of Rivera's cutter in regards to upwards movement, should have been more specific. As you said, the cutter in general doesn't really sail up.

Every pitcher throws a four seam fastball, it's a fastball with a fancy name. I guess I should say every pitcher is capable of throwing a four seam fastball as it requires almost no training. Throw the ball as hard as you can, that's a four seam fastball. It gets it's name because the batter sees four parallel seams spinning at him. Generally straight as an arrow, maybe a bit of a rise on it, you get the most velocity out of it. Every pitcher who's ever played organized ball has probably been shown how to properly grip a fastball. A matter of fact, one of my high school coaches taught every player on the team to throw the ball like that as it maximizes velocity and decreases movement and it's the easiest way to locate a ball. Good for infielders and outfielders as well when they throw the ball, since you don't want to chuck a ball across the diamond that's moving all over the place.

Mitre threw one to Vernon Wells in the 1st that almost nailed him.

And do you really think Z and Maddux's two seamers aren't some of the best in the game? The names you mentioned are good as well but I don't know if there significantly better then Z's or Maddux (particularly the 90's version of Maddux when it had a lot more velocity).

Wagner isn't available, the Phils are just shoring up their pen.

I'm also not in favor of a Maddux return next year.

I was a big proponent of Mitre a couple of years ago, but quickly gave up on him when he was indisputably brought up too early and really struggled. A few more like todays start could quickly restore my full faith in him. Rusch and Mitre as our 4th and 5th starters respectively sounds alright to me assuming Rusch continues to dominate or at least doesn't drop off too much (its kind of inevitable he will drop off a little)

Rob G.
"Wagner isn't available, the Phils are just shoring up their pen."

At least for now, yes. Still 7 weeks till trade deadline.

well yes I suppose if they collapse in the next 7 weeks, but seems highly unlikely the way the East is going.

Well, obviously I didn't get to see the 90's version of Maddux, sadly. His two-seamer now is still a good pitch, but it's in the mid-eighties. And he throws so much other stuff too. It's not as though he relies on the pitch.

That's what I should have said really, that's what I meant. Webb, Pavano, Weaver etc, they all really rely on the two-seamer as their bread and butter pitch and they work off it, getting hitters to just pound it into the ground time and time again. And that's almost all there really is to their pitching. If their two-seamer isn't working, they get smoked. I don't think the same quite applies to Z. His two-seamer is phenomenal, mid-90s with ridiculous movement (particularly horizontally). But he throws a whole repetoire of other excellent pitches, including four-seamers, changeups, sliders, and he's just a whole different beast, he strikes a load of guys out. He's a dominating pitcher first, then a groundball machine.

I'd say Zambrano's got the best two-seamer, followed by Webb's and then Kolb's. Pavano's and Weaver's are pretty ordinary.

Who was the first guy (I dunno 100 years ago) that said, "Damn! When I hold the ball this way when I throw it, it goes straight but when I hold it this way...."

A two-seamer is also often called a sinker. Should mention that.

Oh, have I ever mentioned before I like Mitre!

Plus sinker. Good velocity and movement. Allows him to generate multitudes of groundballs, and type don't go out of the ballpark. Of course, it means he relies on his defence a lot, and that's not always a good thing.
Much improved changeup. In 2004 his changeup was a work in progress, below average, and Mitre understandably wasn't confident throwing it. As a result he got hammered by lefties, though he did very nicely against righties. This year he's actually had reserve splits (both at AAA and in the bigs).
Also throws a slider and occasional four-seamer and curveball. All are at least average offerings. As a result he strikes out a decent if unspectacular number of hitters.
Reasonable control of all those pitches. His location of that sinker could be better, but it's not an insurmountable problem for him: he's always had a low walk rate. Tends to groove pitches a bit too much I think though, which, combined with him being a groundball hitter, leads to a few more hits than you'd like.
No real stamina problems. Observations about him not being able to go six or seven are frankly a bit stupid
Young and cheap

He's out of options next year though. I'd like the Cubs to trade him, because Greg Maddux, Jerome Williams, Angel Guzman and Glendon Rusch should have the last two spots in the rotation covered between them. Ideally, I'd like it to be Williams and Guzman, but we'll see.

Chad, it was probably during pre-historic wars, where early man was throwing rocks at each during a war.

"Nice toss Hairy, you nailed him right between the eyes, was that a curve?"

I always wondered what happened to the sinker, I figured it was just a name change. Maddux though seems to do something different when he throws his two-seamer.

When he's trying to strike out a lefty on the inside corner (we've seen hundreds of baffled lefties stare at strike three on the inside corner, frozen for fear they were about to get hit), the ball seems to have a horizontal movement to it exclusively. But he also has the two-seamer which a lot of announcers call his sinker that has quite a bit of dive to it as well.

I wonder what it is that he does differently between the two pitcher?

I'm guessing he adjusts the grip slightly, Rob. That's the kind of sneaky thing Maddux would do. But really, I don't know, and that's just a guess. I don't know anything about how exactly to throw a baseball. I just call the pitches. "Yup, nice change there!"

try this link, good illustrations and descriptions on a number of pitches:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/baseball/pdf/pi...

That link is useless without Al Leiter to show me.

I prefer scooter or whatever that talking fox baseball is called....

A two-seamer is also often called a sinker. Should mention that.

A 2sm is a sinker are different pitches in theory. The only difference in grip is thumb placement 90% of the time.

"When he's trying to strike out a lefty on the inside corner (we've seen hundreds of baffled lefties stare at strike three on the inside corner, frozen for fear they were about to get hit), the ball seems to have a horizontal movement to it exclusively. But he also has the two-seamer which a lot of announcers call his sinker that has quite a bit of dive to it as well."

I would probably describe the former pitch simply as a slight cutter. And yes, the amount of pressure you induce on the grip plays a role in the pitches movement.

I'll keep taking Maddux back year after year if he keeps putting up 15 win seasons. Why on earth would you not want that back??

Because if next year is the year he doesn't, now you have a declined hall of famer with an era approaching 6 that you can't exactly send to the bullpen or trade for prospects or an outfield bat.

lotta pitcher call their stuff things that arent textbook definitions...like the "circle change" is called a change by some, a sinker by others, and just a 'breaking pitch' by others...blah blah blah

most of the time its right on, but sinkers/sliders are getting harder to spot these days cuz so many people throw their sinkers/sliders with a combo of arm action+grip...similar to that "slurve" were're familiar with only without the instense elbow/wrist twisting...

btw..scooter is tom kinney, aka spongebob. =p

Oh good grief... we're talking futures or trade value for a guy in the twilight of his career?

Milk him until he's done. If he puts up 10 wins a year, he's still better than most #5 starters.

Don't expect to ever trade him. When he's done in Chicago, he's done with MLB.

about maddux, that pitch he throws to the outside corner...not only is it a "backdoor slider" but IT DOESNT SPIN LIKE ONE.

he's made a career outta that pitch cuz it dont move like it should. to a batter its almost like a changeup with sudden strikezone movement...its something that's maddux him a millionaire.

Well you asked why somebody wouldn't want him next year. That would be the epitome of talking futures.

If maddux stinks up the joint for 35 starts next year you're stuck with him. Personally I think he'll be fine next year - but I can definitely see the argument of cutting bait a year too soon rather than a year too late.

Someone else posed the question earlier. I was just answering it.

His present is the Cubs. His future is the HoF. There won't be anything in between. :-)

Shame he'll almost certainly go in as a Brave...

there won't be anything in between

except for five years of fishing...

tom kinney- mr show alum, good guy.

Almost certainly go in as a Brave? MORTAL LOCK.

Bonds: Giants
Sosa: Cubs
McGuire?
Randy Johnson?
Clemens?

I don't necessarily want to see Maddux back, although next year's market looks like slim pickings, so who knows what they'd do with the money. Five people to cover two rotation spots is more than enough. If he is back, that's okay, but like some other posters, I'm just afraid the Cubs will hold the bag on that one.

The Urbina trade is okay for the Phils, they lose a decent amount of depth, since they'll have to play either David Bell or Tomas Perez more than is desirable. Their bench is starting to resemble some other disgusting benches between Offerman, Endy Chavez, and Ramon. They'll hang in there, that'll be a fun division.

For the Tigers, does this makes Farnsworth next in line to be the closer after Percival? Might Polanco still be available, since the Tigers aren't in a good position to make noise this year?

No rain this weekend!!!

Team finally gets a day off (a Halladay, if you please) after an awesome performance by Mitre.

Btw, great title for the post, Rob. Of course, I was reminded of that awful movie "Death Takes a Holiday" which was thankfully remade into "Meet Joe Black" which remains one of my favorite films today.

Hard to know where to begin on the Maddux
thread given that he is my favorite baseball
player of all time. Starting on the practical
level, if you don't want him back then you must
want or think he will be injured because that is the only way he does not get to his 400 inning kick in for a third year clause. It is not an OPTION wether he comes back it is AUTOMATIC if he pitches 188 inning this year. He of course has a no trade clause.

The idea that Maddux was rapidly declining and would block all our great young pitchers
was widely discussed before his signing last year. Needless to say he was one of the key reasons we managed to stay into to the end while our various young studs went down or
imploded on the mound.He was the only pitcher who did not miss a start last year.Of course he did block Juan Cruz from being the 5th starter, Mitre from pitching most of last season etc.

He is no longer a dominant pitcher but he is
amazingly consistant in nearly always keeping
his team in the game. He also knows more
and can help more than any coach or manager you could get. I used to think the stuff about his helping out fellow pitchers was more of a PR sping by Boras to get a better deal but it isn't. I am not going to bore you all with details. Feel free to e mail for links to lots
of nice articles ( many supplied by Marty of
the Braves NG) re his help to other pitchers
( among other things).
Maddux survives on his wits while his physical
skills continue to decline but somehow he is
able to compensate. I see no rational reason
to think he will suddenly hit a wall and be a washed up loser next year. I honestly don't man to be insulting but I find it sad that a Cub
fan or just a baseball fan would not be looking
forward to having Maddux on their team next year,

Jessica
PS small side note for #59. I don't think
Maddux would be caught dead fishing. If he is
not at a baseball game , he is on a golf course

Jessica

McGwire - Cardinal; his legacy is associated with the 70 homer season, although he may have trouble getting in the Hall after the steroidgate.

Clemens has to be a Red Sox whether he likes it or not

Johnson - Has to be Arizona's first HOF'er, 4 Cy Young's and 5 of 7 of his best seasons.

if i had to pic three pitchers to go vs the bosox, itd be the ones we have going.

maddux pitching in 06 isnt what stings...its he's gonna get 9m im 06 to do it. granted it was a risk claused contract that only guarenteed maddux 2 years at 7m each with it up to him to stay healthy...and it looks like he will.

im not upset he's gonna be back, but if the past year and 1/2 are any indication...marketability and merchandice value aside...he's a 5-7m pitcher about to make 9m cuz he stayed iron-man enough to cash in a gamble.

last year he was working around 88mph...in his late 30s he worked 88-90...this year he's working around 86mph.

as long he can keep effective with his velocity dips and keep the ball in the park every once in a while he doesnt seem like he'd be someone who will make/break the club.

Will Maddux even win his 15 this year let alone next year? He has 4 wins through 12 starts so far. Obviously that pace isn't good enough, though there's obviously still plenty of time for him to pick things up (and he usually goes after the All-Star Break these days). That of course is assuming he stays healthy and makes all his starts. We'll see, I guess.

I did actually have these same reservations at the start of the year as to whether the streak was stopping at 17. Naturally I got a huge amount of flak for saying that.

With Bonds on the shelf, I would like to offer my congrats to the best player in baseball Alex Rodriguez for hitting his 400th HR last night faster than any player ever.

At 29 (and besides Bonds), he has the best and most legit chance of catching Aaron. Of course everyone thought Griffey was going to catch him too, but he fell off because of injuries. But at least it is nice to see Griffey and ARod do it in the natural way, WITH clean talent and no questions of steroids around them.

I tip my hat....

And I would like to add my hope that Bonds and Sosa never sully the hall of fame with their juiced up corked bat inflatabodies.

I would like to say that if McGwire, Bonds and Sosa don't make the HOF, it is a shame and a travesty. Unless they get proven to have taken illegal steroids knowingly, which most likely ain't happening, they should go in. If there is a penalty, they should not get in on 1st ballot by the writers, but anything more than that and the HOF will start becoming a JOKE (if it ain't already).

Oh yeah, remember Babe Ruth used a corked bat.

The 15 wins per season streak is a great stat but more for what it proves about his utter consistency than anything to worry about ending.His numbers this year are remarkably similar to this point last year with no indication of significant decline. The contract was back loaded so that he made 6 million last year and will make 9 this year and next for an average of 8 per season. I admit to extreme prejudice on this but I think 8 million a year is a bargain for a pitcher who never misses a start and keeps you in virtually every game. It's great that we have lots of highly touted pitching prospects in our system but for those of us want to win NOW and next year I'll take Maddux. Just like last year Maddux and Zambrano are the only two starters who will ( we hope) be there from start to finish (apologies to Rusch who has been available but not always used as a starter). So while you wait for Hill, Guzman, Mitre et al to develop into guys who will make 30 plus solid starts and Wood & Prior to have complete injury free seasons I will thank the baseball God's ( the only ones I believe in) for bringing Maddux back to the Cubs.

For those interested the best article on Maddux
( from 2001) and one of the best player profiles
I have read.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/bbw/2001-08-15...

Jessica

Jessica,
As a Cubs and baseball fan, I absolutely agree with you. I want Maddux next year, even if it means $9 mil. I think seeing Maddux pitch a game is magical. I went to see him on Memorial Day weekend last year, and he dominated the Astros. Aren't guys like Maddux the reason why most of us are baseball fans?

"But at least it is nice to see Griffey and ARod do it in the natural way, WITH clean talent and no questions of steroids around them.

I tip my hat....

I would like to say that if McGwire, Bonds and Sosa don't make the HOF, it is a shame and a travesty.
Posted by: mannytrillo

You should run for office.

Thanks for the link, Jessica. What a great article.

CUBSWINPENNANT-
There is a big differnce between my points in those posts, sorry you can't pick up on them...

From the Maddux article:

"When you think about it," Astros general manager Gerry Hunsicker says, "he is the greatest free-agent signing in baseball history. He has to be. With what he has accomplished every year, and the impact he has made on his team, how can you argue?"

People are mean.....

I did like the part where he wanted to play a position for at least one inning....anyone know if Cox gave him the chance? If not, I certainly hope Dusty does within the next 2 years, I think he's deserved the honor.

I don't dislike Maddux by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm not one who feels like giving a break to a pitcher because he is a future hall of famer. My biggest beef with him is the homeruns that he gives up, and the fact that a too large percentage of walks and hits become automatic doubles. I also am not thrilled that we can't count on him going past 6 innings...although that is balanced out by the fact that he will virtually always go 6 innings, so his average start is as long as anyone elses.

He is absolutely better than an average 5th starter, and I would count on him more than I would count on a rookie. But if we could use that $9MM to fill another gaping hole somewhere, or to get another established but younger arm that will take us passed '06, I wouldn't be terribly displeased (at least at this point).

Of course, my opinion may change as the year goes on, and more starts like his last will help push me in the other direction pretty quick...but as of now, I don't think our team will be worse without him in '06.

Before you bury Maddux and his career after 12 starts last year he was 5-4 with a 4.13 ERA. Not to mention that he has pitched in 4 games where he has given up 3 runs or less and gotten a loss or no decision. Lets just say he should have won two of those, he'd be AHEAD of last year. (for the record he is 4-3 with a 4.12 era) He can totally win 15 this year and if next year he goes 12 - 14 as our fifth starter, that's FINE. Remember when looking at starting pitching overall for a team, the importance of wins is much higher. lets just say that Prior, Wood, Z all average 17 wins next year. (Just for arguments sake Prior 20 Z 17 Wood 14) Thats fifty one wins. Now throw in twelve for Maddux and thats 63. Lets just say we get ten from our last guy and thats 73 wins from the starting pitchers. Now we only need @22 wins from the bull pen to put us in the playoffs. (the 2003 team had 21. I used the 2003 team cause the 2004 stats were skewed, in favor acutally, due to the high amount of games missed by Wood and Prior.) Maddux will be fine. He will finish his career in Cubbie blue, the way it should have always been and hopefully he'll have one more ring to wear to Cooperstown, five years later.

Has anyone seen the pictures of Kerry Wood's simulated game on Chicagosports.com? I am very disappointed to see that the "minor mechanics adjustments" did not include a very basic change. Kerry is obviously still throwing accross his body upon delivery to home plate. Doing so forces the pitcher to try to speed up his arm and often creates a problem with their release point as well. Basically, it increases torque on the elbow and limits your ability to consistently replicate delivery (ie control). Am I the only one that notices this?

A few years ago I was at Busch stadium watching a pitcher by the name of Rick Ankiel. Electric Left hander, with great stuff. However, his mechanics were terrible and he severely threw across his body. This was never more evident than in the playoffs when he threw several wild pitches. Ankiel could not release his hips to home plate because his fromt striding foot pointed halfway up the first baseline as opposed to towards the catcher. This type of movement is what is referred to as throwing across your body and forces a pitcher to speed up his arm to hit a release point that might allow a chance to hit the strike zone. Rick's arm could not speed up enough to the release point thus leaving several pitches high. Later Rick experienced several pressure related mental problems and ultimately gave up pitching. I realize this is a dangerous and extreme comparison however Rick's main problem was not his head, but rather that the Cardinal's rushed him and did not correct a very basic mechanical flaw until it was too late.

Some pitchers have the same problem to smaller extents. But this is basic pitching mechanics and I feel is a major reason that Wood has incosnistent INNINGS and frequent arm related issues.

Any Thoughts?

Out-friggin'-standing performance by Sergio Mitre yesterday. Nothing flukey about it, either. Just a confident & focused mound presence, great command, good movement on the fastball, a biting breaking ball, and a nice change-up. Truly a Greg Maddux-like performance.

I don't know if Woody, Prior, or Z have studied Greg Maddux very much, but it looks like Mitre has. One more outing like yesterday and I'll stop calling Mitre a "4-A" pitcher and I'll stop asking for him to be replaced by Jerome Williams.

With Mitre and Koronka pitching in the rotation on on what is basically a start-to-start basis, yesterday's performance should have bought Mitre at least two more starts. But I still say John Koronka is strictly a AAA pitcher and needs to be replaced ASAP. That's the spot for Jerome Williams, at least until Prior or Wood are back in the rotation.

John Hill mentioned that Sergio Mitre will be out of options next Spring Training. In fact, the Cubs at present have a number of young pitchers on the 40-man roster who will be out of options come next Spring Training:

Cliff Bartosh
Angel Guzman
Jon Leicester
Sergio Mitre
Will Ohman
Todd Wellemeyer

Also, Glendon Rusch has a player option for 2006 that essentisally pays him $2 mil if he is used as a relief pitcher, but $3.2 mil if he is a starter. Same goes for this season.

If Rusch wins around 15 games as a starter in 2005 (and he is on a pace to do that), he would command considerably more than $3.2 mil as a free-agent. (And he is only 30 years old!). So it's quite possible that if he continues to pitch as well as he has, that Rusch will not be back with the Cubs next season.

If Maddux returns in 2006 (which seems very likely at this point, since he is on a pace to far exceed the vesting option requirement of 187.1 IP in 2005), and presuming Prior and Wood are healthy, the departure of Glendon Rusch would open up one spot in the 2006 starting rotation for (probably) Williams, Mitre, Guzman, Hill, or Pinto. Since they can't be sent to the minors without clearing waivers, Mitre and Guzman would have to either make the Cubs starting rotation next Spring Training, or move to the bullpen, or be used in a trade. There won't be room for both of them in the rotation, and even less room if Glendon Rusch chooses to return to the Cubs in 2006, and it is unknown how they would fare as relievers.

Given the situation with pending free-agency for Ryan Dempster and Mike Remlinger, the likelihood that Joe Borowski will be non-tendered, and with six pitchers out of options next Spring Training, here is a potential Cubs pitching staff for 2006:

STARTING ROTATION:
1. Carlos Zambrano
2. Mark Prior
3. kerry Wood
4. Greg Maddux (likely will be back, but not for sure)
5. Glendon Rusch (50/50 chance at this point--Rusch's choice)

OTHER POSSIBLE STARTERS (both wiil be out of options in 2006):
6a: Sergio Mitre
6b: Angel Guzman

OTHER POSSIBLE STARTERS (all will have minor league options left in 2006):
7a: Jerome Williams
7b: Rich Hill
7c: Renyel Pinto
7d: Ricky Nolasco (probably AAA in '06)
7e: Bobby Brownlie (probably AAA in '06)
7f: Jae-kuk Ryu (probably AAA in '06)
7g: Sean Marshall (probably AAA in '06)
7h: Raul Valdez (probably AAA in '06)
7i: John Koronka (probable minor league free-agent)
7j: Carmen Pignatiello (probabnly AAA in '06)

BULLPEN:
1. Michael Wuertz
2. Todd Wellemeyer
3. Will Ohman
4. Jon Leicester
5. Cliff Bartosh
6. Mitre or Guzman

OTHER POSSIBLE RELIEVERS (RHP) - all will have minor league options left in 2006:
Jerome Williams (if he doesn't start)
Roberto Novoa
Jermaine Van Buren
David Aardsma (probably AAA in '06)

OTHER POSSIBLE RELIEVERS (LHP) - all will have minor league options left in 2006:
Rich Hill (if he doesn't start in AAA
Renyel Pinto (if he doesn't start in AAA)
Russ Rohlicek (probably AAA in '06)

When will people stop talking about Angel Guzman and the playing with the big league club anytime soon. This guy is VERY injury prone and hasn't had a full season in 3 years. This guy can't be counted on for anything, not even good trade bait anymore. Possibly the BIGGEST disappointment in the Cubs organization.

If Rusch wins around 15 games as a starter in 2005 (and he is on a pace to do that), he would command considerably more than $3.2 mil as a free-agent.

Just look what Clement got from Boston ($6.5 mil) with a 9-13 record, a 3.68 ERA (lifetime 4.30) and a late season benching last year.

Possibly the BIGGEST disappointment in the Cubs organization.

That would have to be Dusty Baker.

(honorable mentions: Kerry Wood, Nomar Garciaparra)

Clement's peripherals are a lot better then Rusch's though and he was always considered a pitcher with great "stuff" that just couldn't harness it, so I don't think you can really compare the two. But Rusch will get a nice raise (at most 3 yrs/ 18 mil in my opinion) if he ends up with a nice record, and an ERA in the low to mid 3.00's

Btw, isn't Bartosh already out of options?

Speaking of Bartosh, the guy we traded away, Ronald "Bear" Bay is doing rather well for Cleveland. He's at Kinston (High A) with a 5-3 record, 3.32 ERA, 14 BB/ 63 K in 59.2 IP and will turn 22 in August this year.

Since I don't believe Bartosh is of much use to us, rarely used and moderately effective, not to mention Ohman and I believe Russ Rohlicek have been and could be doing his job just as well, I still don't like the trade.

Nothing like a juicy AZ Phil post to fill an off-day!

AZ Phil's post shows why keeping Maddux around for another season is a good idea.

If Rusch completes the season with an ERA below 3.00, he would no doubt command a $7-9 million multi-year contract with another team. He's still youngish and a lefty -- the Yankees and Mets would drool (and he'll end up in Anaheim or Texas.) I would hate to see him go, but I think the Cubs would probably let him go.

I would like to see Angel Guzman assume a long-relief role for the club next season, to give him big-league innings yet not the pressure of a startering job. Essentially treat him as you would a Rule V draftee for '06 -- Guzman has to be on your roster, but be careful with him. He could spot start during the inevitable Prior/Wood injuries. His stuff is absolutely electric, but the labrum cost him nearly two years.

That leaves Mitre and Williams competing for the 5th starter slot next Spring -- a good problem to have. Although I still think that Mitre is our best potential trade bait right now, in addition to Leicester, Pinto and Novoa ("best" from our perspective...e.g., guys I would not mind trading.)

I'd be a little surprised if they non-tender Borowski and do not sign Dempster, unless there are plans to sign a "proven closer." But both JoBo and Dempster will not be on the team next year. That makes a 12-man pitching staff look like:

ROTATION
Prior
Wood
Zambrano
Maddux
Mitre or Williams

CLOSER
Dempster, JoBo or "Proven Closer"

BULLPEN
Weurtz -- set-up
Ohman -- LOOGY
Bartosh -- LOOGY
Wellemeyer -- R-MOGY
Guzman -- long-relief, spot starter
Leicester or Mitre (if Mitre does not make rotation)

That is a nice pitching staff and relatively inexpensive, depending on what they do for closer. (Personally, if I were Hendry, I'd be trying to lock in Dempster to a two-year deal right now -- they are still likely to get a decent price, as his payday is not assured as of yet.)

Having Maddux in the rotation allows the Cubs to let Rusch have his well-deserved payday somewhere else without forcing Guzman into the rotation right away. Guzman can ease into a role, and if he sinks instead of swims, Maddux helps us bide time for Rich Hill or Pinto.

Does anyone know what the Cubs are doing with Aardsma? The Giants were trying to turn him into a starter in advanced AA -- what are we doing with him? Hopefully

Aardsma is starting in AA (is there such a thing as advanced AA?) for West Tenn but only to help him work on his pitches and get regular work. The plan is to move him back to the bullpen once he perfects his offspeed and breaking ball pitches. I do believe that Hendry thinks of him as a potential closer in the very near future (all-time saves leader at Rice University). Of course he'd probably be used in a set-up role first (like K-Rod) and then hopefully put into the closer's role.

Way back when Wood was hot stuff (20 K's), I saw a side-by-side comparison of his delivery and that of Roger Clemens. They were similar in a lot of respects, but the most telling difference was that when Clemens followed through, he came down on the ball of his foot, and when Wood followed through, he came down on his heel.

I've always attributed that particular flaw in his mechanics to be the cause of his durability problems.

Thanks for the info on Aardsma, Rob. (and I'm not sure what I was thinking when I wrote "advanced AA").

Is Pawelek headed to Boise this summer (which might make sense -- keep him relatively close to home)? Or do we think his first stop will be Arizona?

#85 of 89: By Rob G. (June 9, 2005 12:00 PM)
Btw, isn't Bartosh already out of options?

ROB G: Yes. Cliff Bartosh is already out of options, but I included him with the others because even though he has been with the Cubs all year, he is (like the other five) by no means assured of a job in 2006. And if he doesn't make the Cubs staff coming out of Spring Training 2006, he cannot be sent to AAA without first clearing waivers.

The problem with having six pitchers out of options in Spring Training next year means either:

1. You find a way to keep all of them even if there might be better arms (perhaps Jerome Williams, Rich Hill, Jermaine Van Buren, or Roberto Novoa) sent down to the minors to make room for all six (and that's just plain stupid),

or

2. You make a point to include one or two of the six in a stretch-drive trade as the Cubs did with Francis Beltran (who would have been out of options this year) in the Nomar deal last July 31st (and that only works if you can find the right trading partner),

or

3. You take a chance and try to send one or two of them back to Iowa coming out of Spring Training next year, with the possibility that they get claimed off waivers and you lose them for the waiver price (which is a waste, since even a run-of-the-mill LOOGY like Cliff Bartosh was worth Bear Bay),

or

4. You try and make a deal at the very end of Spring Training 2006, and hope that the guy you trade will (like Cliff Bartosh did for Cleveland this past March) provide a decent lower-level pitching prospect back in return (except the guy you trade will probably have had a bad Spring, so you are not going to get the quality of return you might get right now or at the trading deadline).

Both Bartosh and Ohman will likely come to Spring Training 2006 competing with Russ Rohlicek and the usual LOOGY suspects (TBA) for perhaps two jobs, although the problem with Ohman is that if he accumulates 120 days of MLB service time this season (which seems likely at this point), he will be eligible for salary arbitration, and the Cubs might non-tender him. (Ohman accumulated two full seasons of MLB service time while on the 60-day disabled list rehabbing from TJ surgery in 2002 and 2003). But Ohman is also the best LOOGY the Cubs have right now.

DC TOM's comparing Angel Guzman coming into Spring Training next year as like a "Rule 5" draftee is perfect. It's likely that Guzman will come into Spring Training 2006 with little or no AAA experience, but with a golden arm (if healthy). So if he's finally able to pitch next Spring, the best way to break him in would be to use him as the 12th man on the staff (long-relief and mop-up) for maybe a year, then send him to Winter Ball after the season tom get more work, and then hope he can compete for a spot in the rotation in 2007 after Greg Maddux departs.

As for Glendon Rusch, I think he is gone after this season. Look around the majors. Right now, Glendon Rusch is one of the best lefty starters in baseball. And he is only 30 years old. He WILL get a multi-year multi-million dollar deal as a free-agent after this season if he declines to accept his player option for 2006.

As was the case with Matt Clement last off-season, the Cubs have too many promising young arms to give Rusch a multi-year deal (like with Clement, one year would be OK--but that won't happen) and have him block the way for Jerome Williams, Angel Guzman, Rich Hill, Renyel Pinto, Ricky Nolasco, Sean marshall, et al, long-term. The only way Jim Hendry signs Rusch to a contract extension (past 2005) is if he does not have confidence in his young arms, and I believe Hendry DOES have confidence in them (even if Dusty Baker does not).

Would it be nice to have Matt Clement right now? Yes! But do you want Matt Clement occupying a spot in the rotation GUARANTEED (and for a lot of money) through 2008? No.

Same goes for Glendon Rusch vis-a-vis 2006. If he would come back for one year (by accepting his player option for 2006), fine. But not if it means tying up a spot in the rotation through 2008 or 2009 by giving him a lengthy contract extension and a lot more money. It is just not a good baseball decision, not to mention not being a good business decision.

I believe Jim Hendry has faith in his young arms, and is probably thrilled that Dusty has had to rely on Wurtz, Wellemeyer, Ohman, and now Mitre to the extent that he has this season. Hendry knows the Cubs system is pitching-rich, both in terms of quality AND quanity. If one or two go down, there are a bunch more quality arms waiting in line right behind them. You can't block their path by signing older pitchers to multi-year contracts. For that reason, I expect Kerry Wood (if he proves himself to be close to 100% healthy when he comes off the DL) to be traded prior to the 2006 season, perhaps to his hometown team for a multi-tool shortstop (Michael Young?), or to a team that is absolutely desperate for a drop & drive power starter, where the Cubs would get a power-hitting corner outfielder back (Bobby Abreu?).

Yes, I'm sure we could get Abreu for Wood if we just sweetened the pot a little with Zambrano or Prior.

CUBSWINTHEPENNANT: We can disagree on which position players a 100% healthy Kerry Wood would command in a trade, but my point was that I believe the Cubs will be shopping Kerry Wood this off season IF he comes back 100% healthy later this season and pitches the way he is capable of pitching when healthy. If he continues to have health issues and does not return to action later this season or comes back but is obviously not 100%, that's the scenario where the Cubs WON'T trade him. That's because if he continues to suffer from bursitis and tendinitis, he will have little value in a trade, and the Cubs will simply exercise their option to buy-out his contract after next season.

In either case, I believe Kerry Wood (like Matt Clement after last season and Glendon Rusch probably after this season) will be an ex-Cub by 2007. I see a starting rotation in 2007 as something like this:

1. Carlos Zambrano
2. Mark Prior
3. Jerome Williams
4-5. Two others from among Rich Hill, Angel Guzman, Sergio Mitre, Renyel Pinto, Ricky Nolasco, Sean Marshall, Jae-kuk Ryu, and/or Carlos Marmol. But no Kerry Wood.

CUBS FREE-AGENTS AFTER 2005:

OF Jeromy Burnitz (club option with buy-out, otherwise FA after 2006)
RHP Ryan Dempster
RHP Chad Fox
SS Nomar Garciaparra
OF Ben Grieve
OF Todd Hollandsworth
RHP Greg Maddux (if vesting option not met, otherwise FA after 2006)
SS Neifi Perez
LHP Mike Remlinger
LHP Glendon Rusch (player option, otherwise FA after 2006)
2B Todd Walker (club option, otherwise FA after 2006)
RHP Scott Williamson (club option, otherwise FA after 2006)
INF Enrique Wilson

CUBS SIGNED PAST 2005:

C Michael Barrett (through 2007)
C Henry Blanco (through 2006)
OF Jeromy Burnitz (see 2005 FREE-AGENTS above)
1B Derrek Lee (through 2006)
RHP Greg Maddux (see 2005 FREE-AGENTS above)
3B Aramis Ramirez (through 2006, or player option through 2008, or mutual option through 2009)
LHP Glendon Rusch (see 2005 FREE-AGENTS above)
2B Todd Walker (see 2005 FREE-AGENTS above)
RHP Scott Williamson (see 2005 FREE-AGENTS above)
RHP Kerry Wood (through 2006, or mutual-option through 2007)

CUBS WHO ARE ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE AFTER 2005:

RHP Joe Borowski (FA after 2006)
2B Jerry Hairston, Jr (FA after 2006)
INF Jose Macias (FA after 2006)
LHP Will Ohman (if 120 days MLB service time in 2005)
CF Corey Patterson (FA after 2007)
RHP Mark Prior (FA after 2008)
RHP Carlos Zambrano (FA after 2007)

CUBS 40-MAN ROSTER AUTO-RENEWALS (PRE-ARBITRATION) AFTER 2005:

RHP David Aardsma
LHP Cliff Bartosh
SS Ronny Cedeno
RHP David Crouthers
OF Jason Dubois
INF Mike Fontenot
RHP Angel Guzman
LHP John Koronka
2B Richard Lewis
RHP Jon Leicester
RHP Sergio Mitre
RHP Roberto Novoa
LHP Will Ohman (if less than 120 days MLB service time in 2005, otherwise eligible for arbitratrion)
LHP Renyel Pinto
LHP Russ Rohlicek
C Geovany Soto
RHP Todd Wellemeyer (arbitration eligible after 2006)
RHP Jerome Williams
RHP Michael Wuertz

NOTABLE CUBS MINOR LEAGUERS ELIGIBLE TO BE SIX-YEAR MINOR LEAGUE FREE-AGENTS AFTER 2005 IF NOT PLACED ON 40-MAN ROSTER WITHIN 10 DAYS AFTER END OF MLB REGULAR SEASON:

OF David Kelton
1B Brandon Sing
RHP Jermaine Van Burenn

NOTABLE CUBS PROSPECTS ELIGIBLE FOR RULE 5 DRAFT AFTER 2005 IF NOT PLACED ON 40-MAN ROSTER BY NOVEMBER 20:

RHP Bobby Brownlie
INF Buck Coats
3B Matt Craig
1B Brian Dopirak
OF Adam Greenberg
LHP Luke Hagerty
LHP Rich Hill
1B Micah Hoffpauir
RHP Carlos Marmol
LHP Sean Marshall
RHP Juan Mateo
3B Scott Moore
OF Matt Murton
RHP Ricky Nolasco
LHP Ryan O'Malley
RHP Billy Petrick
OF Felix Pie
LHP Carmen Pignatiello
RHP Jae-kuk Ryu
INF Ryan Theriot

Wow. That's way more than 40...

In the bottom section (Rule 5ers) I would hate to lose:
Doparik
Hagerty
Hill
Hoffpauir
Marmol
Marshall
Murton
Nolasco
Petrick
Pie
Ryu

That's all just based on what little I know/think i know. I'm sure it depends on how many guys we resign, etc. Any thoughts on special protection?

Arizona--
"I don't know if Woody, Prior, or Z have studied Greg Maddux very much, but it looks like Mitre has. One more outing like yesterday and I'll stop calling Mitre a "4-A" pitcher and I'll stop asking for him to be replaced by Jerome Williams."

Er, why were you ever asking that Mitre be removed from the rotation for Jerome Williams in the first place? I think you'll find that a) we have a much bigger problem in the rotation right now called John Koronka (you say he's a 3-A pitcher, I wouldn't even go that far!) and b) Jerome Williams is at Iowa for a reason. He's got to get himself back into better physical condition, work on his location and getting the ball down in the zone, and really, if he's down there for a while doing that anyway, he could do with refining his breaking stuff too and developing a truly effective third pitch while he's at it.

But as far as I'm concerned, the moment that Williams has everything figured out, he goes into the major league rotation, and for good. He's young, he's extremely talented, and he's already shown that he can perform superbly at the big league level.

If Maddux is still around next year, and it's a safe bet, that means the rotation for 2006 is pretty much set for me. That makes Sergio Mitre a virtual lock to be traded between now and next year, I think. I don't see the point of trading Guzman now, so I agree with DC Tom, use him in a Rule 5 capacity in 2006 with a view to him either becoming the closer or moving back to the rotation when Maddux leaves after 2006. Prior, Zambrano, Wood, Guzman, Williams. Forgive my drooling.

Arizona--
"OTHER POSSIBLE STARTERS (all will have minor league options left in 2006):
7a: Jerome Williams"

Thanks for this. I was under the impression Williams was out of options. But no, I've double checked, and you're right on this. He was added to the 40-man roster in November 2002, and has only been optioned in 2003 and 2005.

Arizona--
"OTHER POSSIBLE STARTERS (all will have minor league options left in 2006):
7b: Rich Hill
7c: Renyel Pinto
7d: Ricky Nolasco (probably AAA in '06)
7e: Bobby Brownlie (probably AAA in '06)
7f: Jae-kuk Ryu (probably AAA in '06)
7g: Sean Marshall (probably AAA in '06)
7h: Raul Valdez (probably AAA in '06)
7i: John Koronka (probable minor league free-agent)
7j: Carmen Pignatiello (probabnly AAA in '06)"

Hill and Pinto I think project better in relief. Nolasco is an inferior version of Mitre. Brownlie will never be a regular starter in the major leagues. Ryu and Marshall won't be ready. Valdez, Koronka and Pignatiello really don't belong, as far as I'm concerned they're not options at all.

Manny--
"When will people stop talking about Angel Guzman and the playing with the big league club anytime soon. This guy is VERY injury prone and hasn't had a full season in 3 years. This guy can't be counted on for anything, not even good trade bait anymore. Possibly the BIGGEST disappointment in the Cubs organization."

Oh get a clue.

Guzman has now been injured twice, once in 2003 (shoulder), and once this year (strained forearm). Two injuries doesn't make someone injury prone. He wasn't injured in 2004 - they shut him down last year because they didn't want him throwing any more innings too soon coming off the shoulder surgery.

The injury this year isn't particularly serious - it's apparently similar to a hamstring injury, nagging, taking its time to heal (longer than the Cubs expected), but in the long term not much of a concern. The Cubs also don't believe that it's pitching related, but rather the result of a childhood injury that wasn't fixed, and they think it's correctable.

Angel Guzman has superb stuff, a mid-90s fastball with plenty of movement, an excellent changeup (both the FB and change are the best in the system), and a refined and curveball too. Three plus pitches, and excellent control of each. And when he pitches, he uses that stuff and his control of it to get results. He's all but major-league ready, or at least he was.

How on earth then is not even good trade bait? How on earth then is he the biggest disappointment in the organisation? What, you haven't heard of Bobby Brownlie and Luis Montanez?

Rob--
"Speaking of Bartosh, the guy we traded away, Ronald "Bear" Bay is doing rather well for Cleveland. He's at Kinston (High A) with a 5-3 record, 3.32 ERA, 14 BB/ 63 K in 59.2 IP and will turn 22 in August this year.

"Since I don't believe Bartosh is of much use to us, rarely used and moderately effective, not to mention Ohman and I believe Russ Rohlicek have been and could be doing his job just as well, I still don't like the trade."

Bleh. That completely sucks. He has given up eight home runs, a few more than you'd like, but he's actually gone up a level and improved his strikeout rate (139 in 168.1 IP last year at Low-A), and that control is still stellar. Regarding the fact that he's just 160 pounds, does anyone know if he has the frame to fill out and add more velocity as a result? He throws what right now, 93?

DC Tom--
"If Rusch completes the season with an ERA below 3.00"

If I win the lottery...

Rob--
"Aardsma is starting in AA (is there such a thing as advanced AA?) for West Tenn but only to help him work on his pitches and get regular work. The plan is to move him back to the bullpen once he perfects his offspeed and breaking ball pitches."

Actually, he's already been moved back to the bullpen. He made his first appearance in relief last night for West Tenn. Two hitless and scoreless, a walk and a strikeout.

Arizona--
"For that reason, I expect Kerry Wood (if he proves himself to be close to 100% healthy when he comes off the DL) to be traded prior to the 2006 season"

Can't see it myself. And I hope it doesn't happen.

Hill:
"I don't see the point of trading Guzman now, so I agree with DC Tom, use him in a Rule 5 capacity in 2006"

Why should the Cubs use an unproven injury prone pitcher in their bullpen like a Rule 5 guy when they are tring to compete for the playoffs? Teams like KC do that when they are tring to save money and have no chance of winning. Teams that are going for titles don't play with 24 guys and waste a spot on guy there just to not trade him (look at FL with Hagerty).

Cubs should cut their losses, try and get Guzman healthy and showcase him for a few starts and unload him ASAP. He might be good down the line, but in 2 years he might also be out of baseball due to injuries.

You uguys are talking about putting him on the big league roster next year and over the past 3 years here is what he has done:
2003- (AA-W. Tenn) 15 starts and 90 IP
2004- (A-Daytona & AA-W. Tenn) 11 starts and 48 IP
2005- NOTHING...injured

So since the start of 2003 (3 years now), Guzman has had a grand total of 26 starts and 138 IP. You guys think this is a guy to count on on the big league club?? Not me....

Manny--"Why should the Cubs use an unproven injury prone pitcher in their bullpen like a Rule 5 guy when they are tring to compete for the playoffs? Teams like KC do that when they are tring to save money and have no chance of winning."

In case you hadn't noticed, the Cubs are using half their bullpen so far this year like Rule 5 guys - Bartosh and Remlinger in particular. All I'm saying is that the Cubs could use Guzman next year as they're using Bartosh this year, at least at first. And then, if Guzman shows he can handle things, and I fully expect he will, involve him more and more. Guzman, unlike most Rule 5 picks, is actually major-league ready.

This isn't so much a Rule 5 strategy as an Earl Weaver strategy - break pitchers in via the bullpen. The Cubs aren't likely to have room in the rotation, so normally the best option would be to trade (as it is with Mitre). But no other team is going to pay retail for Guzman. Given his upside and age, it doesn't make sense to trade him for anything less than retail. But Guzman needs to stick on the roster if he stays. But there's no room in the rotation. The bullpen makes sense. It's not as though he'd be blocking that many better players there.

Manny--"in 2 years he might also be out of baseball due to injuries."

Or he might not. And if he doesn't, he has a good shot at being a stud.

You equate someone getting injured twice to them being "injury-prone". You did it with Nomar, you're now doing it with Guzman. It's ridiculous. You don't even seem to care about the nature and circumstance of the injury. No, for you it's just injured = injury-prone, and therefore always going to be injured. Whatever.

John Hill-
"Guzman, unlike most Rule 5 picks, is actually major-league ready."

Well, I guess this is we are seeing things totally different. I don't see him being MLB ready. He needs to prove he can be healthy for more than a month straight.

Well, duh. I obviously mean a healthy Guzman is major-league ready. I'm not opposed to him spending some more time in the minors proving he's healthy and throwing normally, as well as he was before the injury. But if he is throwing that well, then there are no questions for me as to whether or not he's major-league ready in terms of his stuff and its velocity, movement and control, his pitching.

If Jim Hendry approaches this off season as he did last off season, he will want three or four open spots on the 40-man roster in December and January for free-agents and "wiggle-room."

At present the Cubs have a full 40-man roster, plus three more players on the 60-day DL. So the Cubs actually have 43 players on their 40-man roster at the moment.

At the end of the season, the first thing Jim Hendry will need to do is make a decision on three players who will be six-year minor league free-agents if they are not added to the 40-man roster within ten days after the end of the MLB regular season:

David Kelton
Brandon Sing
Jermaine Van Buren

Last year, the Cubs added Will Ohman and John Koronka to the 40-man roster for this reason.

Players who can be six-year minor league free-agents who are added to the 40-man roster within ten days after the close of the MLB regular season can be dropped from the 40-man roster (and become free-agents) later during the off-season if the spot is subsequently needed for a free-agent or trade.

It seems likely that Kelton and Van Buren will already be on the 40-man roster at this point, however, as I believe both Kelton and Van Buren will be added to the Cubs roster as "minor league call-ups" after Iowa has completed its seasaon (sometime after September 1st). To make room for Kelton and Van Buren on the 40-man roster, Richard Lewis and David Crouthers (if he hasn't alrady been returned to Baltimore) will probably be DFA'd at that time.

Besides adding Kelton and Van Buren to the 40-man roster, players now on the Cubs 40-man roster likely to be called up after September 1st would include RHPs Jon Leicester, Roberto Novoa, and Jerome Williams, LHP Russ Rohlicek, C Geovany Soto, IFs Ronny Cedeno and Mike Fontenot, and OF Ben Grieve (also John Koronka and Sergio Mitre, since they will be the odd men out when Prior and Wood return from the DL). Players on the 40-man roster who will probably not get a September call-up would be David Aardsma, Angel Guzman, and Renyel Pinto, plus Lewis and Crouthers (see above).

So with Kelton and Van Buren probably already on the 40-man roster, within ten days after the close of the regular season Hendry will need to make a decision on Brandon Sing (the third player of significance who will be a six-year minor league free-agent if not added to the 40-man roster within 10 days after the end of the season). Last year, the Cubs added Will Ohman and John Koronka to the 40-man roster at this point. I think it's likely Hendry will want to keep Sing in the organization, so to make room for Sing, another player will need to be DFA'd from the 40-man roster. Likely candidates to be DFA'd to make room for Sing at this point would be John Koronka, Cliff Bartosh, Russ Rohlicek, or David Kelton (presuming that he was added to the 40-man roster after September 1st). My guess would be Koronka, but it could be Kelton. But let's say it's Koronka.

If everyone who can be a free-agent (Dempster, Fox, Garciaparra, Grieve, Hollandsworth, Perez, Remlinger, and Wilson, plus Burnitz, Walker, and Rusch, but NOT including Maddux or Scott Williamson) files for free-agency when they can, that would leave Hendry with a 32 man roster. (Remember, it's 43 minus 11, not 40 minus 11). Note that I believe the Cubs WILL exercise their option and retain Scott Williamson for 2006 for $2 mil. (he might be the only veteran arm in the bullpen in 2006!).

Hendry would then have to decide which prospects he wants to protect from the Rule 5 Draft. He has until November 20th to make this decision. Hendry could add as many as eight players (completely filling the 40-man roster) at this point if he wants to, because two spots will open once arbitration eligible players like Borowski and Macias are non-tendered in December, but if he does that and then wants to sign a free-agent before players are non-tendered in December, he would have to DFA another player (probably from amongst Bartosh, Rohlicek, Kelton, and Sing--with Koronka already gone). So I expect Hendry to add eight prospects to the 40-man roster, with two spots to become available for free-agents after Borowski and Macias are non-tendered in December. And remember, the Cubs could DFA Kelton, Bartosh, Rohlicek, or Sing at any time if they really need additional roster spots for free-agents.

The eight prospects I would expect Hendry to add to the 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 Draft (listed in order of priority) are:

1. Felix Pie
2. Rich Hill
3. Matt Murton
4. Ricky Nolasco
5. Sean Marshall
6. Jae-kuk Ryu
7. Bobby Brownlie
8. Brian Dopirak or Carlos Marmol (see below)

I'm not absolutely positive that Brian Dopirak will be added to the 40-man roster after the 2005 sesaon, and not just because he has struggled at Daytona. Just as happended with Jason Dubois (selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the Rule 5 Draft after the 2002 season), it's almost impossible for a one-dimensional position player coming out of A-ball to make a 25-man roster. If the player can be usesd as a pinch-runner or defensive replacement, that's different. But Dopirak is another Jason Dubois. I don't think he could make a 25-man roster coming out of Spring Training. Plus do you want Dopirak's "option clock" to start ticking in 2006? What if he's more than three years away fromm the big leagues? What if you want to give Derrek Lee a contract extension through 2009? So Dopirak could be replaced on the 40-man roster this time around by Carlos Marmol, and then Dopirak could be added to the 40-man roster after next season.

OIn fact, it's not inconceivable to me that (given Jim Hendry's seeming indifference toward losing prospects in the Rule 5 Draft) Dopirak, Marmol, Brownlie, and Ryu will all be left off the 40-man roster after this season.

Some notable prospects who wil probably be left off the Cubs 40-man roster and who will probably be available in the next Rule 5 Draft and who might be of interest to another team would be:

Chadd Blasko
Buck Coats
Matt Craig
Adam Greenberg
Luke Hagerty
Micah Hoffpauir
Carlos Marmol (or Brian Dopirak)
Casey McGehee
Scott Moore
Ryan O'Malley
Billy Petrick
Tony Richie
Carmen Pignatiello
Chris Walker

Then after the Rule 5 Draft, Hendry will have to decide which free-agents will be offered arbitration (so even if the player signs elsewhere, the Cubs will get draft choice compensation), and which players eligible for arbitration will be offered contracts.

My guess for free-agents to be offered arbitration (one-year contracts) would be:

Ryan Dempster
Neifi Perez
Glendon Rusch

I beileve these free-agents who will NOT be offered arbitration:

Jeromy Burnitz
Chad Fox
Nomar Garciaparra
Ben Grieve
Todd Hollandswoth
Mike Remlinger
Todd Walker
Enrique Wilson

Players eligible for arbitration who will be tendered contracts would be:

Jerry Hairston, Jr
Will Ohman (if 120 days MLB service time in 2005)
Corey Patterson
Mark Prior
Carlos Zambrano

Players eligible for arbitration who would not be tendered contracts and who would thus become free-agents on December 20th would be:

Joe Borowski
Jose Macias

At this point (December 20th), the Cubs would have 38 players left on their 40-man roster, with arbitration offered to three free-agents (*):

PITCHERS (23 + 2 FA):
David Aardsma
Cliff Bartosh
Bobbt Brownlie
* Ryan Dempster (free-agent offered arbitration)
Angel Guzman
Rich Hill
Jon Leicester
Greg Maddux
Sean Marshall
Sergio Mitre
Ricky Nolasco
Roberto Novoa
Will Ohman
Renyel Pinto
Mark Prior
Russ Rohlicek
* Glendon Rusch (free-agent offered arbitration)
Jae-kuk Ryu
Jermaine Van Buren
Todd Wellemeyer
Jerome Williams
Scott Williamson
Kerry Wood
Michael Wuertz
Carlos Zambrano

CATCHERS (3):
Michael Barrett
Henry Blanco
Geovany Soto

INFIELDERS (7 + 1 FA):
Ronny Cedeno
Brian Dopirak
Mike Fontenot
Jerry Hairston, Jr
Derrek Lee
* Neifi Perez (free-agent offered arbitration)
Aramis Ramirez
Brandon Sing
NOTE: Dopirak could be replaced on 40-man roster by RHP Carlos Marmol

OUTFIELDERS (5):
Jason Dubois
David Kelton
Matt Murton
Corey Patterson
Felix Pie

Again, if the Cubs need more roster slots during the off-season for free-agents, Kelton, Bartosh, Rohlicek, or Sing could be DFA'd as necessary.

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