Friday, August 28, 2009

Bradley: "All I'm saying is I pray the game is nine innings, so I can go out there the least amount of time possible and go home."

You have got to be kidding, Milton.

If I was Jim Hendry, Milton wouldn't sniff another Cubs uniform. He would be banned from the clubhouse, never to be seen from again. How can you be supportive of a player who doesn't even enjoy playing a game and being paid $10 million a year for it? Lou Piniella put it best, saying to Milton:

"You're not a ballplayer!"

Spot on, Lou. Let's take a look at the facts. Jake Fox is hitting .295/.345/.532/.877 with 9 home runs in 156 at bats. Milton? .255/.387/.401/.788 with 11 home runs in 326 at bats. Yet Fox rides the pine. Cutting Milton Bradley is the only scenario that makes any sense. Yes, he is owed $20 million, but when Fox is making just $401,500 and completely out-producing Milton, Hendry can just "pretend" the money he has thrown away on Bradley is actually paying to keep Jake Fox's bat in the lineup everyday.

In this morning's Chicago Tribune, Phil Rogers writes a convincing article on why releasing Bradley is the best option, suggesting the Cubs move Fukudome to right and allow Sam Fuld to play center everyday. While I agree Fuld deserves a shot, it is Fox who at 27-years-old is in his prime and has proven he can produce consistently this year at the Major League level.

Milton said that he's "never" been comfortable playing in Wrigley. "It's hard to be comfortable when you don't get a hit and get booed every time." Give me a break buddy. First of all, every player gets booed, it comes with the territory. Second of all, taking a look at his split stats the difference is night and day--in favor of the home stats:

Home: .304/.421/.509/.930

Away: .208/.354/.652

Yet Milton claims he is not looking for attention. Riiight, "America doesn't believe in racism," Bradley said Tuesday night. Not looking for attention, are you Milton? put it best in a blurb yesterday:

Milton Bradley – HR yesterday. Before the game, he talked about how much he hates Chicago, “I’m talking about hatred, period. I’m talking about when I go to eat at a restaurant. I’ve got to listen to the waiters badmouthing me at another table, sitting in a restaurant.” Milton needs to stop eating at Dick’s Last Resort.

The worst part about the whole "Milton Bradley Saga" is that bringing Milton to Chicago had a domino effect on the rest of the moves in constructing the 2009 Chicago Cubs. In order to create enough cash-flow to pay Milton, Mark DeRosa had to be traded away. Kerry Wood was then subsequently deemed "too expensive" at $10 million and Hendry decided to trade promising young hurler Jose Ceda for the infamous Kevin Gregg. The rest is history. Aramis Ramirez goes down and the Cubs have no backup third baseman. Second base has been a joke all year (though I do like "mini DeRo" Jeff Baker) and everyone knows what happened with Gregg.

The one silver lining in all of this is that looking towards 2010, the Cubs had nowhere to play Jake Fox or Sam Fuld with Bradley, Fukudome and Soriano all signed to long term contracts. Milton has now given Hendry a great excuse to dump his ass to the curb. If Hendry doesn't do so, the Rickett's family will hopefully show Jim the door as well.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


After repeatedly bashing Len Kasper, I feel obligated to post this comment which made me laugh out loud during game one of the recently completed series against the Dodgers. Referring to the writing on the left field wall in Dodger's Stadium that dubs the area "Mannywood" here is Len and Bob:

Bob: The Cubs need to try to take some liberties when they can on Manny Ramirez in left field, he's a disinterested defender at best. Spends a lot of time out there talking to the fans, working on his "do," thinking about his next at bat.

Len: It's Mannywood, Bob.

Bob: I guess so.

Len: Lot to live up to out there in left. Can't just play left. You're the King of Mannywood!

Kasper then proceeded to kill any positive momentum he had created by doing about three or four painful John Lovitz impersonations after the camera spotted him, but have to give him credit for "King of Mannywood," that was pretty good.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lou's drinking the Marmolade

ESPN Chicago is reporting that Lou has named Carlos Marmol the Cubs new closer. Boo ya. Now I did say just a couple of weeks ago that Kevin Gregg's HR/FB was flukily high--looks like it was me who was high after watching 6' 6" 285 lb rookie Kyle Blanks (rumored to be half man, half gorilla) deposit a Kevin Gregg fastball deep into the seats at spacious Petco Park for the game winner last night.

Take this job and run with it Marmol. Run with it like an angry Kyle Blanks is chasing after you with blood in his eyes and a caveman's club waving above his head. The truth is, Marmol doesn't exactly deserve this role. Angel Guzman has been the most consistently reliable reliever in the Cubs bullpen this year and it's not close. Marmol, however, looks like a closer. The 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings doesn't hurt either.

This is the role Marmol has been groomed for, hopefully he begins to pitch as though he deserves it.

Big Z: "My problem is I've been lazy"

This is just plain ridiculous. Out with a bad back, apparently due to poor abdominal strength, Zambrano is admitting something I'm guilty of on a daily basis, however, when a grown man signs a $91.5 million contract, one would hope he could do some leg lifts before bed a few times a week to keep up at minimum a non slob-like appearance. If you show up early to Wrigley Field next week for batting practice though, chances are you won't see Carlos Zambrano doing bicycle crunches anywhere near the field. Zambrano has been blessed with incredible God-given talent, because of this he seemingly believes can simply breeze on by throughout his career without ever stopping to think, "this is a gift, I should appreciate and take care of it." Amazing.

"I don't like, but I have to. There's things in life you don't like, but you have to do it."

You think?

"I don't like to do abs but I will have to start doing my abs everyday and be serious."

My gosh Z, you think it's time to "be serious?" Uh, yeah I'd agree. I think it was time to "be serious" back in January, preparing for the season. Fifty crunches at night in the offseason is not too much to ask for a guy making $600,000 a start.

Carlos, to his credit, has been a thoroughbred throughout his career; failing to reach 200 innings only once in his first six full seasons in the majors. However, with that one year coming last year, it appears that Carlos may have to do more than just eat his Wheaties in the morning to keep himself in playing shape these days.

At 28, Zambrano is no longer the 22-year-old who took a rotation spot and ran with it in the doomed season of 2003. The flip side though, is that Carlos is yet to reach his "prime ages" as a pitcher; typically pitchers truly blossom at ages 28 to 32. If Carlos doesn't start to "be serious" as he suggests though, his career could continue it's downward trend. I'll state for the record my faith in the Big Z.

Zambrano will pitch for Peoria on Thursday to prepare for his next scheduled start August 25 against the Nationals. Let's hope his abs don't cramp up now that they're actually being used.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lollapalooza 2009: What I learned

I completely missed the Cubs weekend games dancing in the rain and heat of Grant Park for three days and judging by the highlights, I'm glad I did. In no particular order, this is what I learned during 2009's edition of Lollapalooza:

-Never underestimate the power of Of Montreal. I've seen them once at Pitchfork '07, once at Metro about a year ago and this show blew those enjoyable concerts away. One word can describe the dance fest this show became: euphoric.

-Animal Collective can have a disappointing set. Granted I missed "What Would I Want Sky" while my buddy Craig was in the bathroom and Tool began their poor act early by drowning out the climactic ending of "Brothersport," but this was nothing compared to the amazing set at Union Park for Pitchfork '08.

-Silversun Pickups have established themselves as a must-see live act. Two years ago at a small stage they were one of the best shows at Lollapalooza and somehow topped that this year with the help of new material, putting on the show of the festival in my opinion. The energy and intensity dripping from each song was unmatched. Highlights included opener "Growing Old Is Getting Old" which sent shivers down my spine for the last three minutes while closer "Lazy Eye" was predictably unreal. Bassist Nikki Monniger also was a major highlight.

-Dan Deacon was exactly as advertised: out of his mind and unbelievably entertaining.

-Vampire Weekend: good, but underwhelming.

-Kaiser Chiefs, when did I stop listening to you? The endless energy of this show was a perfect beginning to a pleasing Sunday of music.

Now if only the Cubs can put a satisfying ending to a lethargic Monday. A split in the four game series would be acceptable, but why do I have a bad feeling about Tom Gorzelanny at Coors Field? There are many correct answers to that question. Please prove me wrong.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Len and Bob - 8/5/09

Bob Brenly: Willy Taveras 21 out of 27 on the season stealing bases.

Len Kasper: Remember when uh, earlier in the year he said he wanted to steal a hundred this year?...might come up a little short. Unless he's including batting practice!?

Bob: To the best of my knowledge, nobody's ever been thrown out trying to steal in batting practice.

Thanks Bob, that may be because no one has ever tried to steal during batting practice. Honestly Len, batting practice? Stealing bases during batting practice? Who in their right mind would stand on first and pretend to steal second as a batter is hitting batting practice balls all over the field? Len Kasper's relentless pursuit of stupidity knows no bounds.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How to chat with Warren Sapp

So Twitter is everywhere, it's a little ridiculous. I'm watching a game the other night on MLB Gameday and I see this option to Twitter back and forth while you're watching the game. I'm afraid to's actually kind of cool. Not that I actually took part in the Tweet-fest but seeing random opinions of the game is interesting. I was anti-Twitter when I first heard about it. It just seemed like one tiny fraction of what Facebook has to offer, looked like the "Smack Talk" bar Yahoo! has on its fantasy sports team pages. It's basically just an "away message," so how could it possibly be that cool? I said I would never join. "Not I, never!" I said to anyone who asked. Well a week ago I signed up for an account. Peer pressure I guess it was, my buddy Lips said, "dude you have to join." That was enough to convince me. Bringing me to the actual "how to" part of this post.

This buddy of mine, Lips follows Chad Ochocinco. One day Lips thinks it would be a good idea to respond to one of Chad's tweets. Now I'm not sure what was was said, but whatever message Lips conveyed to Mr. Ochocinco, it prompted former Pro Bowl defensive tackle "QB Killa" Warren Sapp to respond. So naturally Lips also starts following the QB Killa. Well last night, Sapp decided to start up a Twitter chat, and who's bright idea was it to join? Well none other than the Lipster.


This is so classic.

First I got on twitter at like midnight and it says that warren sapp was in a chat room so I clicked the link. Clinking this link brought me into a chat room with about sixty people. The chat room is pretty cool because it allowed you to run your icamera. It asked if I wanted to so I said yes. You can also talk but you have to push a button.

I turned the video camera on a started listening and reading this chat conversation. I would say there were about 10 ivideos going and warren sapp had his going to. I was the only white guy with a camera on. I just sat there and watched and listened. Well then they start talking about big ben [Roethlisberger] so I was like well time for me to chime in. I took my computer up to the big ben jersey that I got and was like big ben is the sh*t and showed them my signed jersey. Warren sapp was loving it. He was like I gotta get something for you lipster and pulls out his phone. He then proceeds to say "yo rhinna," I think some girl in the room, the organizer, "is lipster your boy?" She was like who the f is lipster? Warren was like the little white kid on the video, and she said she thought I was there with him to which I got promptly booted.

I love it. So if you feel like chatting with Warren, just go follow him on Twitter and wait for that chat to start up!

Len Strikes Again

While Derrek Lee stayed hot last night with a moonshot to left off of Nick Masset for his 22nd home run of the season, Len Kasper also kept his hot streak alive with a bomb of his own,

(after 15 second of dead air...the strikes always seems to be filling that dead air...)

"If you were wondering, I was too and I think I answered my own question. Gorzelanny, it's a 10-letter last name, I thought maybe it could be one of the longest in Cubs history, then I remembered, Mark Grudzielanek was a Cub. I believe that's 14 letters, in Grudzielanek.........(10 seconds go by) 12 yeah 12 for Grudzielanek, then you have Todd Hollandsworth, which is uh 13!"

Wake me up when the inning's over my gosh. Why Len, why are you boring us with the number of letters in the last names of old Cubs? Then you go and guess at how many letters in Grudzielanek. Seriously, a blind guess at Grudzielanek. I would have been forced to hit the mute button if Gorzelanny hadn't grounded out to end the inning. It's like Len get's all anxious when that dead air slowly ticks by and he knows he has nothing to fill it, something in his brain triggers and says, "hey I better say something stupid here quick!"

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Gorzelanny shines as Cubs coast

Tom Gorzelanny threw seven and a third innings giving up just one earned run against the Reds Tuesday night in his Cubs debut earning the win as the Cubs rolled 6-3. Gorzelanny piled up six strikeouts against just one walk, making me look like a fool in the process for my "Gorzelanny is garbage" comment shortly after he was traded to the Cubs.

Hey, I'll be the first one to admit I was wrong if Gorzelanny can keep this up, especially the K/BB. Facing a punchless Reds lineup, it's not as if he mowed down the '27 Yankees, though Gorzelanny did handle the Reds super star in the making Joey Votto with ease, striking him out twice; once on a fastball in the first and fooling him with good change in the next at bat as Votto went 0-3 against him. Gorzelanny's fastball sat comfortably at 88 mph, ranging anywhere between 85-90 during the course of the night. He also mixed in a lot of sliders at around 82 along with the change-up.

Kosuke Fukudome got things started with his first career lead-off home run, his eighth jack of the year. He has quietly had a bounce-back season, raising his overall line to .273/.388/.451/.839 after posting a line of .257/.359/.379/.738 in 2008. Improvement across the board but especially in the slugging department, raising his slugging percentage by 72 points, a trend consistent with other Japanese players (Hideki Matsui went from slugging .435 in his first major league season up to .522 the following year and settling in comfortably in the upper .400's ever since). Dome's 101 point raise in OPS is simply pure boo ya. Keep it up Kosuke.

The game was 6-0 to begin the eighth and looked to be in cruise control until the bullpen took over. My defense of the bullpen looks "shaky" as Marshall allowed a stranded runner score on a hit to Votto, the run charged to Gorzelanny. Then after Guzman finishined off the eighth with a strikeout, he was hit around in the ninth giving up a double and a homer, making the game look closer than it was. Just blips on the radar, nothing to worry about here, move along now. Yeah, yeah "shaky" bullpen. They'll have their justice.

Well, the Cardinals just rallied to win in extras, so it's still a tie for first place. Only a matter of time though. Until then, sing it with me now, "Go Cubs gooo, Go Cubs goooo..."

Len Strikes Again

Tasty quote of the day, here's a small dosage of Len Kasper at his best. From the broadcast this past Sunday afternoon against the Marlins,

"So I was out there doing the game, uh Billy the Marlin wanted me to say hi to his friends in uh, the Bloomington-Normal, Illinois area.........(7 seconds pass)..........he has some friends who are crappies, ...bass (obligatory laugh by Bob...followed by more dead air)."

Can you make sense of this? I didn't think so. Just par for the course. Len will be sure to strike again so stay tuned.

Monday, August 3, 2009

On Cubs bullpen shakeup says Lou, "Why should I?"

Over at ESPN Chicago, Nick Friedell blogs about Kevin Gregg's weekend long meltdown in Miami in which he was awarded the win (I could not hate the wins stat any more) after blowing the save on Saturday, and then getting a well deserved loss yesterday giving up back-to-back jacks to Dan Uggla and Cody Ross.

Now, believe me, I hated the Jose Ceda for Kevin Gregg trade, in fact Hendry's trades in general have made less and less sense lately. I've recently given Hendry the benefit of the doubt for some of his more questionable moves after he brought us Aramis Ramirez for a used jock strap and landed Derrek Lee for Hee Sop Choi. But what's up with trading away DeRosa for peanuts and giving up a valuable trade chip in Jose Ceda for Kevin Gregg? Dime-a-dozen Kevin Gregg? Guys like Gregg grow on trees down in the minors; this season though Gregg has actually looked like the closer he was advertised as.

Up until this past weekend.

A closer look at the numbers, however, suggests that Gregg has had his share of bad luck leading to overall "blah" numbers. Preventing home runs is one stat a pitcher is said to have some sort of control over, along with walks and strikeouts. With a career HR/9 innings a solid 0.9, Kevin Gregg's current HR/9 of 1.8 seems way out of line. For the past five years, here are what his numbers look like:

HR/9 Innings
2005: 1.1
2006: 1.1
2007: 0.8
2008: 0.4
2009: 1.8

It's not exactly "Where's Waldo?" trying to spot the outlier. Digging deeper, one finds that part of the reason for the 1.8 HR/9 is an abnormal home runs given up per fly ball of 15.7% this season. Roughly one out of every seven fly balls given up by Gregg has gone for a home run. Compare that number to a HR/FB of 4.9% in 2008 and 7% in 2007 and the evidence suggests at least part of Gregg's struggles have been a little dose of bad luck. In other words, we should expect a less rocky road ahead.

Nick Friedell disagrees,

"Kevin Gregg's back-to-back blown saves haven't just put a damper on the Cubs' recent hot streak. They've also proved that the team's biggest weakness continues to be its shaky bullpen."

Hold up here, shaky bullpen? Granted, it's not the league's best pen, but every pitcher sitting on those lawn chairs down the left field line knows his role and that's not something a bullpen can take for granted. In the ninth, Gregg still has a respectable, albeit not good, ERA of 4.17 and a very solid 9.2 K/9. As the setup man, Marmol, despite his struggles has been dominant with an opponent's batting average of .159 and has a more than healthy 10.6 K/9. In the seventh, Guzman has arguably been the best reliever of them all, with a 2.36 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 45 innings.

Friedell though, loves to dismiss him immediately from the closer discussion,

"Angel Guzman is another possibility, but he has yet to show that he can stay healthy for an entire season, not to mention that he came into this season with a career ERA above 4.00."

Um...ok, but he's healthy now and his 4.83 career ERA obviously doesn't reflect the level he is currently pitching at. Guzman's stuff is lights out and his 2.36 ERA is legitimate. If the conversation is whether or not Angel Guzman should be a starter, then concerns over staying healthy could be brought up. What is clear is that Guzman could step right into the closer's role if necessary. Carlos Marmol sure would be a bit perturbed, to put it lightly, but that's another story.

Add into the bullpen mix an invaluable Sean Marshall (1.23 ERA out of the pen) and a surprisingly effective Jeff Stevens (2.84 ERA in 6.1 innings, yes tiny sample size), along with The Shark and Aaron Heilman as 6th inning/mop-up duty guys and what you get is a bullpen that has been and will continue to be much more reliable than they've received credit for lately.