...today spat out, well, this... GAME 112 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CINCINNATI REDS (49-62) @ CHICAGO CUBS (54-57) WRIGLEY FIELD, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: WGN, Fox Sports Ohio, ESPN
Jerome Williams, RHP
3-4, 4.60 ERA
37/21 K/BB, 8 HR in 44.0 IP
Brandon Claussen, RHP
6-8, 4.85 ERA
70/29 K/BB, 20 HR in 98.1 IP
SS #Felipe Lopez RF *Matt Lawton
2B Ryan Freel 2B *Todd Walker
CF *Ken Griffey Jr. 1B Derrek Lee
LF *Adam Dunn 3B Aramis Ramirez
1B *Sean Casey SS Nomar Garciaparra
3B Rich Aurilia C Michael Barrett
RF Austin Kearns CF *Jeromy Burnitz
C #Javier Valentin LF Matt Murton
P Brandon Claussen P Jerome Williams
A quite serious malfunction has occured. Technicians will be working through the night to try to rectify the problem such that normal service can be resumed tomorrow. Apologies for the obvious inconvenience. Rob G: I suppose we all know the season is over by this point. Sure, we'll all be keeping an eye on the games, looking for just the slightest sign of hope. If the team manages to string a few victories together, we'll once again glance at the standings, then start figuring out what-if scenarios in our head. But the reality is that the ship is dead in the water and I just hope that Hendry isn't passing on any waiver wire deals that may make the team better for next year. We rocked Claussen something silly last time out in Cincy and maybe he's the cure for what ails this offense. All I want for the rest of this season is some FREAKIN effort, cause those games in New York were some of the most pathetic baseball I've ever seen. And I wouldn't mind Derrek catching fire one last time and making a run at the triple crown. Trans: The season is over. "Spat out" is a good way to describe how this lineup was concocted. I was thinking it came out from a different direction, however... Ruz: Over? Did somebody day over? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Oh, wait, I guess we just did decide. Yeah, I think it's time to shut Kerry down and figure out what the team needs to figure out for next year. Like: is Murton an everyday player? Who's going to play centerfield next year (yes, I think that means recal Corey)? Does Sergio deserve a spot in the rotation? Wait 'til next year, take 97...
Team Records updated through 8/8/05; Individual Stats updated through 8/8/05
Organizational Records
TeamW-LGB/Pos.Last 10
Chicago Cubs54-57(Div)16.0/4th
(WC)6.0/7th
2-8
Iowa Cubs52-609.5/4th5-5
West Tenn Diamond Jaxx*25-172.0/2nd5-5
Daytona Cubs18-239.5/5th7-3
Peoria Chiefs20-246.0/7th5-5
Boise Hawks20-260.0/1st3-7
AZL Cubs2-75.5/9th2-7
Cubs Ex W/L: 55-56; (2003) 57-54; (2004) 61-50 * West Tennessee clinched the first half North Division title of the Southern League
For the first time in a long time, I'm glad that I haven't seen a Cubs game in a while. I spent the weekend back at the old homestead, cleaning things up (literally and figuratively), and the only contact I had with the Cubs was reading TCR, yesterday's New York Times, and a little bit of ESPNews this morning. It looks like I didn't miss much. Or, rather, it looks like I missed a lot -- defensive lapses, poor judgment, anemic bats, a cranky back, etc etc etc blah blah blah. The net result is that the Cubs are now losers of five straight, three games under .500 in fourth place, a game and a half behind the frickin' Brewers, and six back in the wildcard, behind six teams. Is this the low point of the season? Probably. At a time like this, decisive action (or at least action that looks decisive) must be taken. That's why I'm predicting that Dusty Baker will be fired this week. All the signs are there, and in fact what's been hapening over the last few weeks closely resembles what happened during the endgame in San Francisco. You have the rumors of his interest in another job, the denial by Dusty of said rumors (with typical Bakerian anti-media comments thrown in), the dreaded vote of confidence from the GM, allegations of racism, and attention from the media outside Chicago. The only things missing are a feud between Dusty and ownership and team-leaked rumors of unsavory financial doings, and I wouldn't put it past TribCo to be looking for them. Oh, and I almost forgot about the bizarre spectacle of Dusty asking the team to extend his coaches' contracts. Is this really the right time for that, do you think, Dusty? Plus, you know, you've got the team playing badly, and not only badly but lacklusterly, which isn't a word, I know, but it fits. From the outside, this looks like a team that's quit on its leader. That's why I think it's going to happen, because something has to. I'm not saying it's the right thing to do (though it might be), mind you -- I'm just saying that all signs point to yes. All an antsy GM needs to do is look back at Florida in 2003 and Houston in 2004, and he might think that a managerial change might be just the thing a team needs to light a fire and get it back into contention. Again, I'm not saying that's going to happen; I'm simply saying one could see how one might think that could happen if one were to change managers. If it were to happen, who would replace him? I chatted briefly with Will Carroll about this very subject this afternoon, and here's what he and I had to say: christianruzich: I'm predicting Dusty gets fired this week Will Carroll: No chance christianruzich: No, huh? Will Carroll: As much as I'd like it, it's just not in Hendry's character to do it. He was a coach Will Carroll: I don't think Dusty will be back, but doing it now doesn't make much sense christianruzich: I think it does, it at least gives the perception of trying to get things done Will Carroll: The move now would be Little and I think they want a shot at Girardi vchristianruzich: Grady Little, eew Will Carroll: Exactly christianruzich: Girardi wouldn't be a bad choice christianruzich: What about Speier? Will Carroll: Possible Will Carroll: He'd probably get an interview. Who's the token interview choice? christianruzich: Do you need a token if the guy you're firing is black? Will Carroll: I think so. Sad that we refer to it that way christianruzich: Yeah. How about Terry Pendleton, then Will Carroll: Hmm. OK Will Carroll: Maybe Pat Listach Will Carroll: I just hope Rothschild is gone christianruzich: Where is Listach right now? Will Carroll: Iowa, isn't he? christianruzich: Really? I had no idea christianruzich: I'll be damned, he's the hitting coach there Will Carroll: He was interim mgr last year christianruzich: One thing i worry about: Lou Piniella Will Carroll: Not a Hendry guy Will Carroll: Esp if they're going young christianruzich: True christianruzich: Where the hell is Davey Johnson? Still in Holland? Will Carroll: Heart probs according to Ray Knight on BPR christianruzich: Did he say it means Johnson won't manage again? Will Carroll: No, just that he wasnt available right now christianruzich: I think Speier is the guy Will Carroll: Speier's got the quals...maybe Brenly christianruzich: God I hope not Will Carroll: I still think Girardi's the right guy Will Carroll: Maybe Sandberg? christianruzich: No experience christianruzich: That's the type of thing a team like the Reds or Orioles does, not the Cubs Will Carroll: Think Alan Trammell. If you're going to rebuild, you can distract and instill the "right way" christianruzich: Cubs don't need to rebuild, they have the talent, they're just not getting the most out of it christianruzich: Plus he doesn't strike me as a good communicator. Too quiet. And coming on the heels of his "today's players are whiny brats" HOF speech, I don't know if this is the right time to make him a mgr Will Carroll: I agree, but its the kind of thing Hendry would like. He's old school christianruzich: True. Which is why Girardi would be perfect, plus you have the Cubs connection Will Carroll: Right Will Carroll: And a bit more experience christianruzich: Hendry wouldn't be so "old school" as to bring in Larry F'ing Bowa, would he? Will Carroll: Yeah, but again, wouldnt be the right fit if he's going young Will Carroll: Bobby Dickerson! Will Carroll: With the season West Tenn is having, maybe he'd get it christianruzich: Maybe, but the last time the Cubs promoted from within it didn't work out so well Will Carroll: Exactly christianruzich: How much juice does Brenly have w/the Cubs front office? It might be tough to hire Speier over him if he (Brenly) wants the job Will Carroll: I just don't see it. He's too close to Dusty and this next phase is about player development. Oneri's the golden boy right now christianruzich: That's good at least, i don't think Brenly is who the Cubs need right now christianruzich: Another token possibility: Von Joshua, currently hitting coach at West Tenn Will Carroll: Tough to go that deep christianruzich: I guess i'd rank the guys I'd want to see Johnson, Girardi & then Speier. Even if he's not available, I still put Johnson at the top of my wish list Will Carroll: I'd go Girardi, Speier, Sandberg
GAME 111 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (54-56) @ NEW YORK METS (56-54) SHEA STADIUM, 7:05 pm CDT, TV: ESPN
Victor Zambrano, RHP
5-9, 4.19 ERA
76/57 K/BB, 10 HR in 118.0 IP
Carlos Zambrano, RHP
8-4, 3.24 ERA
132/64 K/BB, 12 HR in 147.0 IP
LF *Matt Lawton SS #Jose Reyes
2B #Neifi Perez 2B Miguel Cairo
1B Derrek Lee CF #Carlos Beltran
3B Aramis Ramirez LF *Cliff Floyd
SS Nomar Garciaparra 3B David Wright
RF *Todd Hollandsworth RF Mike Cameron
C Michael Barrett C Mike Piazza
CF #Jose Macias 1B *Marlon Anderson
P #Carlos Zambrano P #Victor Zambrano
Both Zambranos are switch hitters. That's pretty cool. Enjoy the Joe Morgan broadcast...
GAME 110 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (54-55) @ NEW YORK METS (55-54) SHEA STADIUM, 12:20 pm CDT, TV: FOX
Jae Seo, RHP
2-1, 2.00 ERA
14/3 K/BB, 3 HR in 18.0 IP
Greg Maddux, RHP
8-8, 4.67 ERA
86/24 K/BB, 20 HR in 140.2 IP
LF *Matt Lawton SS #Jose Reyes
2B *Todd Walker 2B Miguel Cairo
1B Derrek Lee CF #Carlos Beltran
3B Aramis Ramirez LF *Cliff Floyd
RF *Jeromy Burnitz 3B David Wright
SS #Neifi Perez RF Mike Cameron
CF #Jose Macias 1B *Marlon Anderson
C Henry Blanco C Ramon Castro
P Greg Maddux P *Tom Glavine
Perez, Macias and Blanco that is. When you include the pitcher in things, it really is almost laughable that there are so many days when we're fielding just five proper hitters. Still, that'd probably have been enough had the Mets sent out Kaz Ishii as scheduled. He's not a proper pitcher - he could probably walk the three blind mice to load the bases and give up a Greg Maddux grand slam. Sadly, the Mets came to their senses and so they sent him to the minors, and now the Cubs will have to face Jae Seo today...
GAME 109 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (54-54) @ NEW YORK METS (54-54) SHEA STADIUM, 6:10 pm CDT, TV: WGN, WPIX
Tom Glavine, LHP
7-9, 4.50 ERA
56/47 K/BB, 8 HR in 128.0 IP
Rich Hill, LHP
0-0, 3.78 ERA
18/7 K/BB, 2 HR in 16.2 IP
LF *Matt Lawton SS #Jose Reyes
2B *Todd Walker RF Mike Cameron
1B Derrek Lee CF #Carlos Beltran
3B Aramis Ramirez LF *Cliff Floyd
SS Nomar Garciaparra 3B David Wright
RF *Jeromy Burnitz C Mike Piazza
CF #Jose Macias 1B Chris Woodward
C Michael Barrett 2B Miguel Cairo
P *Rich Hill P *Tom Glavine
In an attempt to salvage the season, the Cubs are going to attempt a final, desperate treatment, both experimental and controversial. If successful, it could breathe life into a lifeless team, although the chances of success are remote. On offense, the Cubs will take an injection of Nomar-oxolin, something that certainly should improve run production but has the nasty side effect of allowing balls to travel safely into left and centerfield while the Cubs pitchers look upon in bewilderment. Of course with 2 backup shortstops now on the roster, Dusty can start making switches for defensive purposes as early as the 5th inning. Maybe we can petition the league to allow us to play a 10th man as a permanent short centerfield. For the bullpen, it will be alternating doses of Woodfil-citrate and Scott-exin. The pills are considered too volatile to be used on an everday basis and the side effects can be nasty. Woodfil-citrate was once considered a powerful drug to be used every 5th day and expected to provide positive results. The FDA has soured on it since and only considers it a last ditch attempt when all else has failed. It should now be used in only smaller, less potent doses until further modifications are made in the offseason. It could provide a boost, but it's more likely to result in chronic shoulder pain. Scott-exin has been effective in the past, but recent worries over it's stability and unstable structure have led it to be shelved for almost a year. Although there are hopes that it can be useful in the immediate future, chances are it won't reach it's full effectiveness until next season. The Cubs hopes now lie with the infusion of this merry band of three, can they resurrect our season? That's an awful lot of weight to put on a bad groin, an achey shoulder and a patchwork elbow. SBUC OG!! (Rally Cry)
Because this season terminates here? Well, the last few days might suggest as much, because you don't need me to tell you that 4-6 against the Giants, Diamondbacks and Phillies just doesn't cut it. Then again, there's still some reason for hope: today the Cubs activated Nomar Garciaparra, Kerry Wood and Scott Williamson from the disabled list, disabled Jerry Hairston, demoted Sergio Mitre to Triple-A Iowa, and designated Mike Remlinger for assignment. Is it enough to save this team? Not in my opinion.
On Wednesday night, with the bases loaded and the game tied, one out in the bottom of the ninth, Mike Wuertz struck out Pat Burrell swinging. Michael Barrett though allowed the ball to get away, and though he recovered in time to catch Jimmy Rollins in no man's land, marooned between third and home, Barrett then literally threw the game away. What ought to have been a simple inning-ending rundown turned into a catastrophic game-ending score. And that led me to think, just how bad is Barrett's defence? And to what extent does it undermine his rather more quantifiable offensive value? The common consensus, which is based based largely on just watching the two behind the plate and with which I agree, is that Barrett is at best a mediocre defensive catcher, but that Henry Blanco is a fine defender, one of the best in the game. Perhaps it would be interesting to monitor just how the two have fared so far this year. There are plenty of complex defensive metrics around that aim to measure defence, but I generally find them just too obscenely obscure, abstract, incalculable, contradictory etcetera. But Catcher ERA, a very simple yet alarmingly crude and therefore flawed statistic, gave me an idea - calculate each pitcher's line throwing to Barrett, and then their line throwing to Blanco, and see what that throws up. And so I did...
GAME 108 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (54-53) @ PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (56-52) CITIZENS BANK PARK, 12:10 pm CDT, TV: WGN, CSN
Brett Myers, RHP
9-5, 3.21 ERA
135/41K/BB, 18 HR in 140.0 IP
Mark Prior, RHP
7-3, 3.26 ERA
105/20 K/BB, 14 HR in 102.0 IP
LF *Matt Lawton SS #Jimmy Rollins
2B *Todd Walker CF Jason Michaels
1B Derrek Lee 2b *Chase Utley
3B Aramis Ramirez RF *Bobby Abreu
RF *Jeromy Burnitz LF Pat Burrell
SS #Neifi Perez 1B *Ryan Howard
CF #Jose Macias 3B David Bell
C Henry Blanco C Todd Pratt
P Mark Prior P Brett Myers
The paramedics are coming tomorrow in the form of Nomar, Wood and Williamson, although I'm not sure if you can resuscitate a smoldering corpse. Today's game was a fantasy conflict for me, as I have both Myers and Prior on my team. Normally I root for a 1-0 victory by the Cubs in these cases, with the winning run scored against the opposing teams bullpen. But, more first inning shenanigans by Prior and now I'm just rooting for us to save our season. I do my best not to label anything a must-win game before September but this is about as close as you can get. Go Cubs!!!!
GAME 107 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (54-52) @ PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (55-52) CITIZENS BANK PARK, 6:05 pm CDT, TV: CLTV, CSN
Robinson Tejeda, RHP
2-2, 2.95 ERA
42/39 K/BB, 2 HR in 55.0 IP
Jerome Williams, RHP
3-4, 4.61 ERA
36/20 K/BB, 8 HR in 56.2 IP
LF *Matt Lawton SS #Jimmy Rollins
CF Jerry Hairston CF *Kenny Lofton
1B Derrek Lee 2b *Chase Utley
RF *Jeromy Burnitz RF *Bobby Abreu
3B Aramis Ramirez LF Pat Burrell
2B *Todd Walker 1B *Ryan Howard
SS #Neifi Perez 3B David Bell
C Michael Barrett C Mike Lieberthal
P Jerome Williams P Robinson Tejeda
How nice of the managers to put out the same lineups as last night, makes putting together these previews much simpler. Unfortunately for the Cubs, Jerome Williams doesn't handle the lefties as well as Big Z normally does. Something to watch for in tonights game. I wasn't witness to the cardiac moments of last nights game, but by all accounts it seems the Cubs staved off flatlining the season for at least another day. Today they face what appears to be a rookie having quite a nice little season when you look at that ERA. Then you look at his K/BB ratio and the fact that he's walking 6.4 per 9 innings and you realize he's ripe for a drubbin'. Sure he seems to keep the ball in the park (no small feat at Citizens Bank) as well as probably being the benefactor of some outstanding defense. But if there was ever a night for the Cubs offense to remain patient at the plate, tonight would be the night. Go Cubs!
Faced with a glut of outfielders, the Giants designated Marquis Grissom for assignment yesterday. Normally, I'm all against signing aging players who are showing a considerable decline in their skills. BUT, over the last 3 years there is one thing that Grissom has done well and it's something we are in the need of. The boy's been mashing lefties... against lefties from 2002-2004: .325/.369/.616 against righties from 2002-2004: .272/.303/.414 It could very well be just a statistical anomaly as his career splits look like this... vs. lefites .285/.336/.467 vs. righties .266/.310/.393 Still, quite a measured difference in slugging. He has been rather horrible this season against all pitchers, but he's been injured as well, so his at-bats have been limited. The only reason to do this would be to get a respectable right handed bat to be used off the bench as we're very much lacking that. Right now the options for Baker are, Murton (on the days he doesn't start), Macias, Blanco or Barrett depending on who's starting that day, and soon to be Neifi/Garciaparra, once again, depending on who's starting. Since I can't tell you how much I dislike carrying 12 pitchers, all the more reason to find a guy who can fill a more needed and useful role. Of course, the more I think about it, the more I realize what a dangerous situation it would be. Dusty could very well fall in love with Marquis's veteran moxie and end up using him over Murton and Hairston, including a number of unnecessary starts. His defense is just about as bad, if not worse then Hairston's, so there's another knock against him. And what we really need is bullpen help (unless Wood/Williamson are the saviors.....to say the least I have my doubts) and preferably a more dependable starter to insert behind Prior/Zambrano. Anyway, just something I saw today and thought Hendry could look into.
GAME 106 IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (53-52) @ PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (55-51) CITIZENS BANK PARK, 6:05 pm CDT, TV: CSN
Vicente Padilla, RHP
5-9, 5.45 ERA
54/42 K/BB, 16 HR in 79.1 IP
Carlos Zambrano, RHP
7-4, 3.43 ERA
128/61 K/BB, 12 HR in 139.0 IP
LF *Matt Lawton SS #Jimmy Rollins
CF Jerry Hairston CF *Kenny Lofton
1B Derrek Lee 2b *Chase Utley
RF *Jeromy Burnitz RF *Bobby Abreu
3B Aramis Ramirez LF Pat Burrell
2B *Todd Walker 1B *Ryan Howard
SS #Neifi Perez 3B David Bell
C Michael Barrett C Mike Lieberthal
P #Carlos Zambrano P #Vicente Padilla
Wow, that's a lot of lefties in the Phillies lineup. Luckily Big Z handles them almost as effortlessly as he does the righties. I suppose we found the answer to the "Where Will Matt Lawton Play" sweepstakes? Sorry, Murton. Let's hope that he still gets to play against lefties as Lawton doesn't hit those southpaws all so well. As anyone could have predicted, Dusty pretty much went with alternating righties and lefties down the order, so let's hope we have a few more Felipe Alou's out there. I made my point last week that we needed to do a lot better in our homestand if the playoffs were to be reached this year. So we've now moved onto having to roll over the competition rather then just beating them soundly. And since the teams we face this week are some of our direct competition, 5 out of 6 is just about mandatory. And with three-fifths of our rotation nothing more than average, that will be a tough task to accomplish, unless Lawton can inspire our offense to another nice stretch of healthy run scoring. Go Cubs!
When the Cubs acquired Jody Gerut just a fortnight ago, I wrote that...
With so many similar hitters to Gerut, it's difficult to see just exactly where he fits in right now. I suspect though that Gerut will replace Ben Grieve on the major league roster with immediate effect, thereby effectively ending his Cub career, and that we won't see Adam Greenberg again this season either. Dusty will probably use Gerut in a straight platoon with Jerry Hairston as the centre fielder and leadoff hitter, which, despite Hairston's reverse splits, is probably the right way to go. It would not surprise me if, having become an irrelevance, Hairy were then traded before the deadline... And, finally, if Gerut performs, particularly with regard to his power returning, this could mean the end for Corey Patterson in Chicago. For such a seemingly minor move, this trade could end up having some pretty major long-term ramifications. We will see.
That all fell down from the "Dusty will probably..." bit onwards, perhaps because the great man's allergic to "the right way to go". Gerut made just two starts for the Cubs in his shortest of tenures, neither in centre field, where he didn't play an inning for the Cubs. And the second of those starts was cut short by the trade. Otherwise, he was limited to occasional pinch-hitting and late-inning defensive work in left field. In all, he went 1-for-14 as a Cub, with a double, two walks and three strikeouts, and a single run scored. It was Gerut himself that became the irrelevance, not Hairston, and Gerut that quickly found himself traded. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for that is that it's not been hard to see where Gerut's power has gone. His swing right now consists of a real downward chop on the ball, and groundballs have a nasty habit of not going over the fences. Without power, and with an enormous platoon split, in the long-term Gerut is highly unlikely to amount to anything as a starting major league outfielder. It may be that the Cubs have seen enough to think that Gerut's power may not be coming back any time soon, and that it's time to move him now before other teams come to the same conclusion. Whether or not the Cubs would be right in such an assessment of course remains to be seen. Whatever, it turns out the trade of Dubois for Gerut will have no long-term ramifications at all. Instead, it's this new trade, for Matt Lawton, that holds potentially interesting implications...
Team Records updated through 7/31/05; Individual Stats updated through 7/31/05
Organizational Records
TeamW-LGB/Pos.Last 10
Chicago Cubs53-52(Div)13.5/3rd
(WC)4.0/5th
5-5
Iowa Cubs48-5810.5/3rd2-8
West Tenn Diamond Jaxx*22-140.0/1st6-4
Daytona Cubs14-229.0/5th5-5
Peoria Chiefs17-206.0/5th6-4
Boise Hawks19-210.0/1st6-4
AZL Cubs0-33.0/9th0-3
Cubs Ex W/L: 53-52; (2003) 53-52; (2004) 57-48 * West Tennessee clinched the first half North Division title of the Southern League
The Cubs acquired OF Matt Lawton from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for OF Jody Gerut. I also stumbled across this tidbit which hasn't been widely reported.
The Pirates also sent the Cubs cash in the deal.
Goodness, what else did Hendry get in the deal, a free car wash, Littlefield's first 2 children, a tropical cruise, use of the company jet, free cellular minutes? Lawton's stats: 2005: .273/.380/.433 16/25 SB opportunities Career: .269/.370/.422 163/229 SB opportunities He hasn't played centerfield since 2000 for the Twins and not regularly since 1998, so I assume he'll either take over full-time left field duties or platoon with Matt Murton. Either way, the days of Todd Hollandsworth starting should be over. Dusty's ideas for a lineup are quite different then mine, but Lawton should immediately be put in the leadoff role. I'd try something like this. LF Lawton 2b Walker 1B Lee 3B Ramirez RF Burnitz C Barrett CF Hairston SS Perez P Pitcher Spot and when Garciaparra returns... LF Lawton SS Garciaparra 1b Lee 3b Ramirez RF Burnitz 2b Walker C Barrett CF Hairston P Pitcher Spot and if Lawton cares to play center or Burnitz in center, I mean, either can't be much worse then Hairston out there... CF/RF Lawton SS Garciaparra 1b Lee 3b Ramirez RF/CF Burnitz 2b Walker C Barrett LF Murton P Pitcher spot If you believe in the whole Righty-Lefty matchup thing you can even try this... CF/RF Lawton SS Garciaparra 1B Lee RF/CF Burnitz 3b Ramirez 2b Walker C Barrett LF Murton P Pitcher spot Overall I like the deal and it certainly addresses one of our biggest offensive issues. Of course, our starting pitching is mediocre, the bullpen still sucks, and we just lost 3 out of 4 to a sub .500 team at home, but whatever. It's a nice move, although I feel bad for Jody Gerut, who Cubs management told was going to be around for awhile. Kind of a bush league move to make towards a kid from Chicago. But I guess you can't pass up a good opportunity. Lawton is making 7.5 million this year and is a free agent after the season. He may lead to Burnitz's option not getting picked up this off-season and moving into the right field spot for next year as well. Time will tell. [ruz]: Well done again, Mr. Hendry, and why does Dave Littlefield keep taking your calls? Lawton provides an immediate upgrade in the outfield -- he's hitting 276/382/438 and has stolen 16 of 25 attempted bases -- and will look good at the top of the batting order. He's also a plus defender and a guy the Cubs might want to consider bringing back next year.

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