Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Of Bombs And Blunders
2005-06-22 07:38
by Derek Smart

Congratulations to Jerome Williams on a very nice outing, one marred only by the inability to understand in consecutive turns at bat that Bill Hall isn't a guy you throw a straight fastball to down and in (by the way, when looking at Hall, does anyone else see Shawon Dunston without the Howitzer?).

It would be going too far to say that one turn on its own makes the Hawkins trade a win for the Cubs, but considering that poor LaTroy is now on the DL and was pummelled spectacularly while in a Giant uniform, it's sure a step in the right direction. Here's to seeing some more big steps down that same road.


  • A quick quote from yesterday's game post:

    I like being on the right side of blowouts as much as the next guy, but I've reached the point where a run of good, solid pitching, and good, timely hitting, with games that end 4-2 or thereabouts would be an extremely welcome sight.

    Wow. Ask and ye shall receive, indeed.

  • With Mark Prior looking like he could go on Sunday (Hooray!), and Kerry Wood on the verge of returning himself, the Cubs are looking at a very interesting set of decisions, especially considering the fine work they got out of Williams last night.

    I suppose a separate post will have to be dedicated to this subject soon, but if one is inclined to count Sergio Mitre among a group of "legitimate starters" (I'm still a bit reluctant myself, but I'm not sure the club shares my trepidation), within the space of about a week and a half, the Cubs are going to have seven of them to choose from.

    That's a hell of a good problem to have, so I'm not complaining - just curious to see who stays, who goes, and who, if anyone, shifts to the pen. Let the speculation begin!

  • One of my best friends is a lifelong A's fan, and in discussing the Oakland teams of the early Billy Beane era - the ones with high-OBP and power numbers - we started referring to the offensive strategy they employed as the "Walk and Sock" method.

    Which begs the question: what do you call what the Cubs did last night? In the seventh inning there was an error, then a homer, then another error, then another homer, so I think there has to be a good name for that "strategy" somewhere. Is it the "Flub and Club?" The "Drop and Pop?" Perhaps even the "Clank and Crank?"

    Whatever the term, it worked like a charm last night, as the Crew made mistakes in front of the exact wrong guys, assuming, of course, that their intent was to win. Santos seemed genuinely flustered by the miscues behind him, and as a result, missed badly with two pitches to two men you'd best not miss badly to.

  • I came to the conclusion last night that I'm not entirely unbiased (Shock! Surprise!). When Derrek Lee tried to tag up and move from first to second on the Jeromy Burnitz flyout to center in the fourth, my initial reaction was, "Gee, that's too bad. It was a good idea, though."

    The truth is, I think it was a good idea - Brady Clark doesn't throw particularly well, the ball was deep, he was back on his heels, and there were two out in the inning, so trying to go to second isn't a terrible risk when all those things are considered.

    The problem is, I realized that if I saw someone I think less of - say, oh, I don't know...Jose Macias - try the same thing and get thrown out, I'd immediately start spouting off about how he was an idiot and a jackass, and doesn't he know any better than to try a stunt like that. I'd like to think I could see the play for what it was - a good idea that simply didn't work - but I'm far too human to not be influenced by the number on the uniform.

  • Jeff Cirillo's going to be happy when Ryan Dempster's out of town. Nothing like being the last out in a tight game to the same pitcher two nights in a row to make you wish a fella would just get gone.

It's another guy who seems to own the Cubs going for Milwaukee tonight, as Doug Davis takes the bump against the recently control-challenged Carlos Zambrano. The Fuzzy Bears really need another strong start tonight, as Davis is exactly the type of junk-baller who gives Cub hitters fits. Besides, it would clinch a series victory heading into tomorrow afternoon, and I'm all for that sort of thing.

2005-06-22 08:30:29
1.   The Boar
Derek, you were right to think it was a good idea for DLee to run on Clark because it was a good idea, and he was SAFE. I was surprised WGN didn't show a closer replay, but it looked like he was clearly safe. It was merely one of several bad calls last night, and one of many bad calls around the majors this past week.

As for who gets sent down, both Sergio and Jerome clearly have more experience at the major league level and have proven that they can at least do an adequate job. Hill on the other hand has pitched 1 inning of work and doesn't seem like a safe bullpen bet especially for those advocating bullpen improvement.

The problem seems to be that the Cubs now have too much good right-handed bullpen help (Wuertz, Wellemeyer, Mitre, Williams) and not enough from the left side (Rusch, Ohman, maybe Remlinger). Still, rather than send down Mitre/Williams along with JoBo, I would keep one of them in the rotation and put the other in the bullpen. I would send down Hill to get more regular work (in case he is needed again in Aug/Sept), and use Ohman as a LOOGY/1-inning guy, Rusch as a long-relief/short-relief guy, and use Remlinger as a 1-inning/mop-up guy. As we've seen from Remlinger, Bartosh, etc., it seems that the arm orientation of bullpen pitchers is less important than the quality and reliability of the pitchers themselves. I think that, once Prior and Wood return, keeping Hill in the majors over Mitre or Williams will only 1) hurt Hill's own development as he will be used infrequently and 2) raise questions about the solidity and dependability of our bullpen strength.

I think the bullpen is not nearly as problematic as is the offensive help needed in LF and CF, and I suppose SS as well. If we can obtain some more firepower, and rely on those pitchers that have proven themselves (lefty, righty be damned), the bullpen problems should work themselves out.

2005-06-22 08:30:41
2.   chicagoburke
Congrats to Bob (awful) Brenley for actually making a witty comment after the Ramirez BOMB...the fans are showing better defensive ablility than the Brewers...

I'm still not sold on Todd H. hitting second...why oh why not use the other Todd?

2005-06-22 09:21:15
3.   Sandus
I may be in the minority here (and in all fairness I didn't think this way until recently so I probably am crazy) so I may get some bemused looks in return, but I think the problem of the pitching staff is pretty easily solvable, in a few simple steps:

1) Trade Kerry Wood for a young slugger. Okay, you can pick up your jaw now. I'm serious, he's still young so his value is still high despite significant injury history. Who knows when he might hurt himself again and his unwillingness to change his delivery could be a liability. Your only other choice, at least for this season, is to slot him in at closer where he wouldn't be throwing more than 20-25 pitches a night but that to me seems like a waste of talent and an ego-crusher.

2) Send Mitre down, but keep him close by just in case Rusch or Williams falters. He's shown an awful lot of progress lately and I'd hate to see him sent to say, Cincinnati or Pittsburgh and see him continue to progress in the next few years. Plus, he's been up and down enough in the last few years that he's not going to have any problems mentally if he gets sent back.

3) Fire Dusty Baker. Okay, that one is just wishful thinking so I'll leave it alone.

4) Give Rich Koufax, er Hill, more reps. Dusty hung him out to dry the other night, but that kid has phenomenal stuff and great poise out there, something the Cub bullpen hasn't had in a long time. Give him some experience and he could be dangerous.

2005-06-22 10:07:21
4.   onetimer
1) Interestingly, they reversed the error call on Hollandsworth's "tripple" last night. The ball was scorched, but Jenkins should have had it.

2) Wood has no trade value now. Not until he pitches without incident for a half-season. No one is dopey enough for such a trade.

3) Mitre is the best candidate for a trade, especially if he has one more good outing. Rusch will be the swing man--like last season.

4) Rich Hill is great against lefties, but righties hit the snot out of him in his limited duties so far. Not sure where he will fit in unless you send Ohman packing.

2005-06-22 10:24:29
5.   The Boar
Sandus, your "simple steps" are hardly simple:

1) Onetimer is right -- Kerry Wood has next to zero trade value right now. The best hope would be to get a stupid organization like the Rockies to take him and his large salary for somebody mediocre like Preston Wilson. But that would be a salary wash, and I don't think even O'Dowd would do that. Kid K is going nowhere.

2) Sending down Mitre will not benefit him or the Cubs. Either stick him in the bullpen, where his groundball-inducing ways will be quite effective, or trade him and try to improve the offense. Mitre has publicly acknowledged that he's sick of being in the minors, and I think his recent improvement is proof that he doesn't deserve being sent down at this point.

3) Right.

4) Calling Hill Koufax is clearly unwarranted. Though he "could be dangerous," he could also be the next John Koronka (okay, maybe not Koronka, but you know, a bust). True, Hill has a killer curve but his numbers and his appearance the other night suggests he still has a long, long way left to go. Hell, the guy started the year in Single A, and last I checked, we aren't the Royals. Calling Hill up gave him a chance to see a big-time series in the big leagues; now, with Prior, Wood, and Williams coming along so well, send him back down to AAA in case we need him in the late summer.

2005-06-22 10:44:23
6.   Todd S
While I understand what is being said in #4 and #5, I agree that it makes sense to trade Wood. If he gets in a few good starts after returning, work the phones and see if there is interest. His K/9 rates have declined the last 3 years.

Is he impossible to trade? He may well be; however, I think it makes sense if they can get value. (Mulder brought back good value this off-season despite some injury concerns.)

2005-06-22 11:19:33
7.   onetimer
Mulder had some injury concerns. Wood is an injury fact until proven otherwise.
2005-06-22 13:17:28
8.   The Boar
Just as a side note, Mulder is hardly what I would call "good value" for the Cardinals. While Calero might not have been that big a loss (even despite his injuries), Danny Haren has been a bright spot for the A's whose numbers look surprisingly similar to Mulder's. Considering the Cardinals thought they were getting a solid #1 ace, Mulder's 8-5 record, 4.75 ERA, and 1.41 WHIP (!) are nowhere near that after today's loss to the Reds. Mulder's ERA since last year's All-Star break is now well over 5, and there should be serious concerns about his middling performance this year. The only reason he isn't more of a bust is the Cardinals offense is just that good.
2005-06-22 13:21:15
9.   rynox
You guys are silly to want Mitre traded.

There's a good reason why his capital is high right now. Because he has a huge future and has vastly improved his pitching this year. Yeah, his sinkerball is great, but how about his pinpoint control all of a sudden? That's good stuff.

Wood... depends on if he has the big sweeper working when he gets back from rehab. It hasn't been working too good this year, but some nagging voice in my head is telling me this injury has carried over from all the way back to spring training.

We will see.

2005-06-22 13:43:55
10.   scareduck
"Walk and sock" is effective only so long as there's actual home runs being hit. Dayn Perry recently commented that Giambi is now so slow he's actually hurting the Yankees on the basepaths just by getting on:

It's almost as though his best use would be as a pinch hitter in front of a genuine power hitter.

2005-06-22 13:46:57
11.   onetimer
Foolish to want to trade Mitre? Depends on if you want to make a run at the playoffs this year. The Cubs have seven starting pitchers. They have little production from two of their starting outfielders. If you can create a package that gets Dunn from Cincinnati or other comparable outfield talent, you give up Sergio in a heartbeat.

This is Mitre's third season and his most productive by far. He's had six starts--3 woeful, 1 very good, and 2 outstanding. His trade value is relatively high, and the Cubs have a lot of pitching in the system (especially AA).

2005-06-22 14:16:40
12.   Derek Smart
I'm going to need to do a full-on post about this soon, but a couple of quick points:

Mitre has done a good job thus far, particularly in those two shutouts, but if the games before and after those prove anything, it's that his margin for error is extremely slim.

When he's on, it's great, but pitchers don't have their best stuff all the time, and when he gets the ball up he's positively flammable.

He shouldn't be dealt for the sake of dealing him, but if there's a trade out there that makes the team better offensively, and he's a part of what the other party wants, by all means, send him away.

Mitre could have a solid Major League career, but I honestly don't see anything that makes him special or anything beyond a fourth or fifth starter, and that kind of material - hell, better than that in many cases - is scattered throughout the Cubs' minor league system, and they have a better candidate for that sort of work in Jerome Williams anyway.

Rich Hill needs more time in the minors. Period.

If one were interested in trading Kerry Wood, doing so when he's fresh off the DL, having had one of his worst stretches of his career before going on the list, could possibly be the worst time to think about it.

Besides, even if Wood's perceived value wasn't at a nearly all-time low, I don't think the club would realistically consider such a move unless they were knocked on their collective asses by an offer, and I can't see anyone willing or able to swing that kind of a deal.

2005-06-22 21:16:57
13.   onetimer
Trading Wood also has the disadvantage of his price tag and his no-trade clause. He's going nowhere.

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