Grass Is Always Greener On The Other Side

GAME 46 PREVIEW COLORADO ROCKIES (14-31) at CHICAGO CUBS (21-24) Wrigley Field, 1.20pm CT, TV: CSN, Fox Sports RM
SP Mark Prior SP *Joe Kennedy
SS #Desi Relaford CF Jerry Hairston
2B Luis Gonzalez SS #Neifi Perez
1B *Todd Helton 1B Derrek Lee
CF Preston Wilson 3B Aramis Ramirez
RF *Brad Hawpe LF Jason Dubois
LF Matt Holliday RF *Jeromy Burnitz
3B Garrett Atkins CF *Corey Patterson
C #JD Closser C Henry Blanco
Pitcher's spot Pitcher's spot
Todd Walker, freshly back from the disabled list, is never one to shy away from giving his opinion. At the start of the year, for instance, he pronounced that the 16 runs the Cubs scored against the Diamondbacks in the season opener was reliable evidence that the offence wasn't as bad as everyone had feared. Er, okay. He's changed his tune a bit. From today's Tribune...
Even if you're a Tony Gwynn, he's not going to hit here what he hit in San Diego because of the tall grass. You hit balls in the gaps that land in front of the outfielders, and it's a single not a double. It doesn't kick and keep going. If you stand at home plate here, and you stand at home plate at Coors Field, there's a major difference in the outfield as a whole. I'm sure there's a purpose for [the Cubs keeping the grass long]. But here's my point: You either need home-run guys or speed guys. If you're a great hitter--like Nomar [Garciaparra]--he hit .290 [in 2004] instead of .320. A lot of balls Nomar hits for base hits go through third and short. And from what I noticed, those were being caught. Maybe 40 years ago they were hitting the ball around [Wrigley was a hitter's park]. But over the last few years, and especially the last two years, if you don't hit home runs, you have to have guys who bunt and steal and do the small ball thing--not two [players], but more like six or seven of those guys.
Todd Walker is off-base. There's little evidence to suggest that the grass is any tougher on hits (or doubles in particular) than other ballparks, at least according to ESPN's park factors. Perhaps part of the reason for that is that, though when the ball rolls it quickly slows, on the bounce the ball can really scoot. It'll come as news to nobody that Wrigley doesn't quite play like Coors, but I think that's the first time anyone's made the point that the grass is the difference between the two. Thin air at altitude, anyone? As for his comment regarding Nomar, he should be aware that Nomar hadn't hit .320 in Boston for a good few years until the first half of last year, and that even then the words small sample size are somewhat fitting. A more plausible excuse for "only" hitting .290 might also be found in Nomar's Achilles injury. Walker's unlying tone throughout (or at least the tone suggested by the way the piece is written by, er, Paul Sullivan) is that the grass is responsible for all our offensive woes. He's wrong. He's also wrong to come to the conclusion that, the grass supposedly being the problem, the Cubs have to have players up and down the lineup capable of bunting and stealing a base. If the grass really is causing so many extra outs on balls in play and as a result so many fewer baserunners, is the solution really to give up more outs (or risk more outs) whenever you have a rare baserunner on? I somewhat doubt it. It'd strike me as more fitting to instead find ways onto the bases that don't involve subjecting the ball to the grass. Take a wild swing at what I'm talking about. And then, with bases clogged, hit your homers if you will. That is, of course, if the problem is the grass. And it isn't. It's our offence.

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  • K Dub 1 hour 37 min ago (view)

    PHIL: Sad to hear about Danis Correa. Do you know what his injury is? Any word on Yovanny Cruz's health/availability? As always, thank you for answering our questions.

     

  • Arizona Phil 6 hours 17 min ago (view)

    AZL Cubs #2 RHSP Willy Cabrera, RHSP Danis Correa, LHRP Riger Fernandez, and LHRP Josh Sawyer to the 60-day Injured List, so they are likely out for year (they won't be eligible to be reinstated until the final week of the AZL season). 

     

  • crunch 6 hours 23 min ago (view)

    sigh strop...

    ...and of course it's eloy that gives the WSox the 9th inning lead.

     

  • Charlie 7 hours 37 min ago (view)

    Speaking from experience, those can nag.

     

  • crunch 8 hours 14 min ago (view)

    ham gets 2500 Ks in the top 3rd.

     

  • crunch 8 hours 21 min ago (view)

    Jordan Bastian‏ @MLBastian

    GM Jed Hoyer said Hendricks is dealing with an impingement in his throwing shoulder: "I feel like we got ahead of it. We're not sure how much time he'll miss, but we'll try to take it slow and take the length of the season into account."

     

  • crunch 9 hours 44 min ago (view)

    schwarber / bryant / rizzo / baez / heyward(CF) / caratini / cargo(RF) / ham / descalso(2nd)

     

  • Eric S 11 hours 18 min ago (view)

    Kimbrel pitched the 7th inning for the Iowa Cubs today - he threw 8 pitches (6 strikes) to three batters getting a fly out to center, a groundout to third and swinging K. Nice start!

     

  • Karl Pagel Blues 12 hours 47 min ago (view)

    Thank you, Phil. Have you ever considered doing your own podcast? Your grasp on baseball history is fantastic. 

     

  • Karl Pagel Blues 12 hours 55 min ago (view)

    Thank you, Mike. 

     

  • Mike Wellman 21 hours 53 min ago (view)

    And 71 games in, the C-Cubs & I-Cubs are in a dead heat @ 39-32...

     

  • Craig A. 1 day 28 min ago (view)

    Thanks very much, Phil.

     

  • Arizona Phil 1 day 2 hours ago (view)

    CRAIG A: SS Ernie Banks and 2B Gene Baker arrived on the same day in September 1953, although Banks made his MLB game debut three days before Baker.

     

  • crunch 1 day 4 hours ago (view)

    i think gene baker was technically the first signed, but ernie banks was the first to suit up and play.  baker was injured when ernie made his debut.

     

  • JoePepitone 1 day 4 hours ago (view)

    He only mentioned his second wife in his autobiography, Mr. Cub.  I was surprised to find out from his Wikipedia page that he had been married before Eloyce (wife #2), having read Mr. Cub back in 1971 right after it came out.  I guess when you write your autobiography, you get to put in only the parts you want to talk about.

     

  • Craig A. 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    Banks was the first African- American Cub wasn’t he?  Was there a lot of drama with that?