|SP Sergio Mitre||SP Roger Clemens|
|CF Willy Taveras||CF Jerry Hairston|
|RF *Todd Self||SS #Neifi Perez|
|2B Craig Biggio||1B Derrek Lee|
|LF #Lance Berkman||RF *Jeromy Burnitz|
|1B *Mike Lamb||3B Aramis Ramirez|
|3B Morgan Ensberg||C Michael Barrett|
|SS Adam Everett||LF Jason Dubois|
|C Brad Ausmus||2B #Enrique Wilson|
|Pitcher's spot||Pitcher's spot|
Does Every Post Need A Witty Name?
GAME 43 PREVIEW HOUSTON ASTROS (15-29) at CHICAGO CUBS (20-22) Wrigley Field, 7.05pm CT, TV: WGN, Fox Sports SW
Compared to Brandon McCarthy and Wandy Rodriguez, Sergio Mitre is pretty much a proven veteran - he has a whopping 60.1 major league innings under his belt. On the whole they were relatively useless innings, carrying a 6.86 ERA, but Mitre can at least fall back upon a couple of good starts and the excuses that his peripheral numbers deserved better and that he genuinely wasn't ready for the opportunity that fell to him with Mark Prior's injury. A year on though and he's refined his changeup to go with a decent slider and a plus sinker that he throws in the low-nineties and with which he induces a multitude of groundballs, groundballs which have the useful habit of never leaving the park for home runs. That, combined with good control and a decent strikeout rate has made him an extremely effective starter in the minors. The changeup though represents the key to translating that to the big leagues - if he can figure out how to get left-handers out, though he'll never be an ace, he'll find himself a job chewing away innings somewhere in the majors. Somewhat sadly, since I'm a big "Meat-tray" fan, that job probably won't be with the Cubs, since this is his final option year and no long term pitching vacancy seems, well, vacant. In the short term though, these upcoming weeks until Wood returns and tonight in particular, going against Roger Clemens, the most proven veteran in all of baseball, Mitre has a chance to help himself, and the Cubs, by showcasing his talent to any prospective buyers. Ben Grieve has been sent down to make room for him, which is sheer idiocy given we're currently carrying an eight-man bullpen (and that Grieve has over his career really hit Clemens).
If he didn't come across as such an, er, disagreeable person, shall we say, I could almost find it in my heart to feel sorry for old Roger, who right now probably is wishing he hadn't settled for just $18m this year. Clemens has started 9 times this year and thrown 63 innings of 1.29 ERA ball. The Astros' record in those 9 games? 3-6. Clemens' own record reads just 3-2. He's not going to vulture another Cy from anyone with just three wins to his name, particularly not when his ERA rises a few points, as it inevitably will, starting tonight we hope. Actually, the Cubs have historically hit Clemens better than most (they have a 3.89 ERA against him), and they beat him in the matchup of the 300-game winners in late April, so perhaps that hope's not entirely unfounded. Then again, Enrique Wilson's starting tonight (Corey rides the pine, a scratch because of a sore left wrist from his collision with Burnitz yesterday). Is there a rule that says all terrible infielders have to switch hit?
As for Bruce Levine, he's been terribly and suspiciously quiet all day. He did though get around to explaining that, while he didn't have the names, the big trade involved another National League club, with four players leaving the Windy City (an outfielder, a reliever and two prospects) and two new Cubs (a power-hitting left-handed corner outfielder and a middle reliever). The departing outfielder, he clarified, was not Corey Patterson, which is strange given that he says he doesn't have the names. Anyway, this has me wistfully day-dreaming about Adam Dunn or Bobby Abreu manning our pinstripes (do we still play in them?), so if you could just leave me in peace...
Oh, and go Cubs!
[Update] Bruce Levine has just rudely interrupted my day-dreaming. How inconsiderate. The team involved in this supposed trade, he says, is the Mets, which fits with a New York Post speculation that they're interested in LaTroy Hawkins. By my estimation that makes the power-hitting left-hander outfielder reportedly heading our way Cliff Floyd. The prospects they're scouting are, apparently, from Peoria. Hands off Eric Patterson! In fact, hands of LaTroy if all you're offering is Cliff Floyd, whose second home is the disabled list. We're not so short of outfielders that we need to sacrifice the pitcher that remains our best reliever plus a whole plentitude of other talent for Cliffy and a Mets reliever. Or maybe Levine has sources no better than, er, mine.