Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Kurt's blog

So crazy it just might work

One of the most tiring fan activities we come across from time to time is that, whenever a former superstar/future Hall of Famer is available, regardless the position he plays and his current level of ability, people will clamor for him.  I tend to respond to that by rolling my eyes, gnashing my teeth, and shooting it down with the fury of a thousand suns.

Still ... a former star closer is now available.  He's clearly done as a starter, going 2-5 with an 8.32 ERA, but I wonder if John Smoltz would be the right kind of low-risk high-reward move that Jim Hendry used to make from time to time.  Maybe he'd do a better job than Gregg, or maybe he'd flame out after two weeks, but at this point I doubt many people are expecting a whole lot from the Cubs and it would be an interesting move.

Just a thought.  I know it's crazy, but it's so crazy that ... well, you know. 

Edit: Adding to the debate
lostinthevines says
since the whole "the players we have need to play better" thing isn't happening - why not add a new piece? Our payroll sucks as it is - why not completely explode it?

An interesting reader comment that appears riddled with mistakes and assumptions.  In regards to the first comment "why not add a new piece" - I get that it's supposed to be sarcastic, but in regards to what?

As for "why not completely explode it" ... lostin appears to think that the Cubs are going to give Smoltz $5 million to finish out the year with a second year for even more money.  That's not the case.  Smoltz is already getting what the Red Sox owed him, and if teams are interested he's likely to sign on for the league minimum with the organization that fits his needs the best.  Also he is very unlikely to ask for -- or receive, or even want to play through -- a second year. 

Again, this is a low-cost high-reward opportunity.  Smoltz will not get big bucks or a long contract.  Also, considering that many of you agree that the team is already not playoff bound, the worst case scenario is you get exactly what you're expecting, while the best case scenario is that the Cubs gain a sudden advantage with 1.5 months left in the season.

Let's make it immortal

In case you've missed it, I've been engaged in a heated debate with a Cubs "fan" in the Shout Box who has made repeated statements the past few days about:

1. how the Cubs "SUCK ASS" - direct quote
2. how Jim Hendry dismantled a winning team this off season
3. how this team will "break your heart"

And so on.

You know me.  I have a problem with this.  My problem isn't that he's worried -- can't blame him, the Cubs have lost 8 straight, are under .500, and look absolutely horrible right now.

No, my problem is that this Cubs "fan" is so short sighted that he can't see things clearly.  He's quit on the team.  IN MAY.  Anyway, since the Shout Box has locked up for 30 more minutes, I'm creating this thread to invite the anonymous guest to Man Up and talk with me about it in a place where he has to wear a handle ... the actual content section of the site.

So.  Guest.  Let's recap... first, you have given no indication to having "temporary" concerns about the Cubs.  You think they're done for.  You believe they have no chance of reaching the playoffs. 

Second, you got hot with me when I directly said the following...

if at the end of May you're taking THAT stance about the Cubs... what's the point?  why - or how - are you a fan?  if you give up on a team - any team - at the first sign of mediocrity
(and every team looks mediocre for long stretches in a 6 month season) then why follow the team to begin with?

Notice the first part of the question is "if."  The short answer would be "oh, well I don't think the season is lost, I just think they need to do something right now."

Instead you took the "you feel the same way as I do, you are a trite hack, how can you attack people for feeling differently than you do" and eventually hours later "I never said anything about giving up on the season," once you realized how horribly stupid your words looked.

So.  Here's another chance to clarify. I can't wait for your response.


By the way, I was supposed to announce yesterday that Goat Reader AJ Walsh has been elevated to Probie Status at GROTA.  Welcome to the fold, AJ!

I would have announced it earlier today but I was busy.  I was up at 3:30AM and drove damn near 17 hours from Toronto to Savannah, GA to kick off a long week of good eating and sight seeing.  That means I won't be driving the content here which is surely a happy relief for y'all.

Also I forgot to update the Zambran-0-Meter before I left.  Whoops.

This is what happens when I deprive myself of sleep for two nights, take a Tylenol PM on Friday afternoon, and go to bed at 8PM.  Sorry about all that.

Shocking news

Chris Carpenter is headed to the DL for the first time in '09, although it's because of a bum rib cage rather than a bum shoulder.

I'll probably mention it some more when I write up the game recap tonight before bed.

What would a Cubs 7-man rotation look like?

please no more "process of thinking aloud" colums. They are stupid.

coming in July --> The Cubs 7 man Rotation

A friendly note to all readers of this blog
(pan in on Kurt Evans, sitting in a stage built to look like an office.  Behind the hastily constructed faux window is a poorly painted landscape done either in expressionist style, or by a 7 year old.  Kurt is wearing a plaid suit jacket with navy dress pants and red suede pumas on his feet)

Hi there.  My name is Kurt Evans.  You may have seen me in such idiot op-ed pieces like "How to Blog" parts 1 through 5, and "The Spring Training Championship Series."

(stands up, walks around desk and sits down on it)

Today, I'd like to talk to you about my attitude toward readers like you.

(turns left to camera set up at stage right)

Hi, Goat Reader.  You know I love ya.  Without you guys, I'd be shoutin' into an empty room.  I'd be a tree fallin' down in an empty woodland area in the heartland of America.  I'd be nothin', Goat Reader.  Nothin' at all.

(turns right to camera set up at stage left)

But let me tell ya somethin'.  Between bouts of alcoholism and dementia, my daddy was a wise man.  And he told me somethin' once that I never forgot.  He said "never give them what they think they want."  Or maybe that was Stan Lee.  Either way, he was right.

(stands up, walks stage left to face a map of the United States of America that appears to have been made before 1948)

We got a lotta readers out there, all over this country and its ...48 States.  We got readers who sleep with a King James under their pillow and we got readers who enjoy having sword fights with dirty dildos.  We got readers who've lost body parts due to money owed to the mafia and we've got readers whose strongest cuss word is "gosh, heck, and tarnation."  In other words, we're servin' a lot of people with many different loves, hates, and standards of decency.

(rips map off the wall, crumples it, and throws it to the ground)

And they can all cower beneath a shower - nay, a shellfire - of righteous hellfire if they think they can tell me what to write about!   By gawd, I ain't exactly doin' this for the money!  Lemme tell ya, Goat Reader, bloggin' is a time wastin', money suckin' occupation and all those rumors of hot groupies gone wild and week-long coke benders are flat out mostly untrue!

Content ain't easy to create, my friends, but if you come here daily only to discover that we're posting weekly, by gawd you won't be comin' here much longer!

(wags finger disparagingly)

No, we gotta feed the beast!  We gotta sing the song!  We gotta tap the dance!  So sometimes, in those long, cold months where the only story to report on is whether or not Paul Bako's gonna be a Cub again, sometimes we gotta come up with stuff!  So we grab on an idea, a concept, a horrible, depressing, embarrassing viewpoint and sweet Jesus we write about it!

(starts jumping up and down emphatically)

We write the crap out of it!  We turn it into a five part series!   We invite reader discorse on it!  And maybe it's somethin' as stupid as whether or not Mark Grace should be a Hall of Famer, or on creatin' your own blog, or -- Sweet Hallelujah!  -- sometimes we hypothesize over a really bad idea like using 10 starters to pitch through all your games instead of relying on a solid, dependable crew of relief pitchers!  And I'll tell ya somethin', Goat Readers, I'll shoot ya

(points finger at camera)

If you don't appreciate it and start to complain, by gawd we'll just do it again in order to spite ya!  Because nobody is sitting behind you right now with a gun pointed to your head forcing you to read this, unless you happen to be that reader who has already lost body parts to the mafia.  If you're that guy anything can be happening right now!

(returns to desk, sits down behind it)

But please, don't take it personal, Goat Reader.  If my own mother, gawd rest her soul (she's still alive) were to say somethin' like "I don't like all those pictures of boobies you have," even though she woulda accidentally have gone to goatriders dot com and we don't post pictures of boobies here, I'd probably post pictures of boobies just to teach her a lesson!

After all, if we don't usually do the things you don't like, then chances are we won't do them again too soon if you just ignore it when it happens!  (And, on the other hand, if you more-often-than-not hate what we do, then you shouldn't be reading this blog anyway.)  But if you say at random "another (insert thing you hate here)?  I HATE that!  Please stop doing that!"  Then I can promise you a minimum of one grudge post on that very topic within 24 hours.  That's just the way we roll, buddy.

Thanks, Goat Reader, for takin' the time to hear me out.  Oh, and if the Cubs decided to go with a 7-man rotation, I think it'd look like this:

Carlos Zambrano
Ryan Dempster
Ted Lilly
Rich Harden
Sean Marshall
Aaron Heilman
Jeff Samardzija

With a 6 man bullpen of ...

Aaron Miles (he's pitched before)
Neal Cotts
Kevin Gregg
Chad Gaudin
Luis Vizcaino
Carlos Marmol

I bet the'd do AWESOME!

The craziest idea I've had in a while

It will never happen.  I don't even think it should happen.  I'm not saying I want it to happen.  I'm prefacing this post with that, and it will also be how I finish the post for one reason: there will be somebody who reads this idea of mine and thinks I'm serious, and will take time from his/her otherwise extremely busy day to scold me because it's so ridiculous. 

Over in the GROTA shout box, we've been talking about pitching decisions.  One reader made the point that if the Cubs traded for Peavy, then Sean Marshall would have to be demoted back to the bullpen - eliciting a series of "duhs" from the listening audience.  But this got me thinking ...

What if a team essentially went with a 10 man pitching staff, comprised entirely of starters?  They would all be pitchers relegated to entering games on certain days, regardless of match-ups, and they would throw a certain number of innings regardless of consequences.  Think about it.

There would be 5 pitchers responsible for starting regularly.  They would throw a maximum of 5 innings per start.  Never more, never less (unless they were just getting rocked). 

After 5 innings pitched, no matter what the score, the "relief pitcher" would come in and throw the remaining 4 innings of the game. 

In other words, the 5 starters, if healthy, would average about 160 innings a year.  No arm strain there.  The 5 relievers would average about 128 innings pitched a year. 

For example, if it were to happen this year, it would probably resemble something like this:

Innings 1-5 Carlos Zambrano; Innings 6-9 Sean Marshall
Innings 1-5 Ryan Dempster; Innings 6-9 Neal Cotts
Innings 1-5 Ted Lilly; Innings 6-9 Chad Gaudin
Innings 1-5 Rich Harden; Innings 6-9 Jeff Samardzija
Innings 1-5 Aaron Heilman; Innings 6-9 Kevin Hart

A few factors to note with this ridiculous concept:

  • If the starter is a righty, if possible the reliever should be a lefty
  • If the game goes to extra innings, the reliever should be capable of throwing into the 12th inning.  After that point, it might be necessary to have an 11th spot reliever/starter to step in and go the rest of the distance, however long it might take.

The basic premise of this concept is that starting pitchers are, on a whole, supposed to be better than relievers.  Obviously there are relievers who are outstanding at their roles - Carlos Marmol - but it would be a way to 1. save the arms of your starters and 2. get you as many as 3 or 4 saves leaders per season, because any time those relievers inherited a game with a lead, they'd likely be up for the save.

Of course, it would never work.  No pitcher would want to be a part of that program.  Even if it was a sound concept - and it's not - and your team won, say, 100 games with this kind of pitching staff, the wins would be very evenly distributed between the 10 pitchers on the staff.  Your "ace" might have 12 wins, 15 at the most, but since wins mean money he wouldn't want to pitch in such a regulated manner. 

Meanwhile, your relievers would all want to be starters themselves and even if they averaged between 10-20 saves each, they'd be pretty unhappy with their situations.

Besides, it will never happen.  I don't even think it should happen.  I'm not even saying I want it to happen.  This is just a process of thinking aloud about a very strange and stupid concept. 

The previously promised post 'em if you've got 'em thread

Or: What's in YOUR bookmark page?
As promised late last week, I've decided to open a thread to invite those of you with blogs to share them here.  A few conditions:

  • No pr0n
  • Nothing that goes to a website offering paid services of some kind
  • White Sox suck

Basically if you have a blog, post it.   If you've got a fantasy league team you want us to know about, share.  Similarly, if you know of a Cubs blog that gets far less traffic than it deserves, I have no objections to you posting about it here. 

So, have at it!

Maestri in the news

Quick Links: Cubs Top Prospects #20 Alex Maestri
Hardball - Keep an Eye on Maestri

Alex Maestri is in the news, and while I normally wouldn't give too much consideration to something written by Phil Rogers (who I am convinced will say stupid things rather than say nothing at all), I thought I'd mention it here too.

Maestri was our #20 Prospect back in December.  I'm more convinced that he's rated that highly by us - and 29th overall in the Cubs organization by Baseball America - not because he's a bullet headed toward the big leagues, but instead because the Cubs farm system is extremely thin right now.

Anyway, Maestri pitched again for Italy against Venezuela recently, where he did extremely well, sitting down big leaguers like Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, Jose Guillen, Cesar Izturis, and Endy Chavez between issuing a couple of walks.  Chances remain against him that Maestri will ever pitch completely enough to reach Chicago, especially since the Cubs appear intent on using him in relief this year (and we all know how hard it is for relievers to make the Major Leagues), but Rogers speculates that one great season might get Alex Maestri on Jim Hendry's promotional short list.  Maybe it's improbable, but it's not impossible. 

Oh, and one other thought

I can't help but feel warm and fuzzy by our reader base.  Even though it's December - aka the slowest damned month of the off season so far - and in spite of the numerous days off that cut into peoples' work-time browsing of this website, we have surpassed November's numbers in terms of unique visits and page views.

The likely final tally of unique visits we'll have by midnight of Dec 31st will surpass all but 2 months of 2008, August and October.  We are also at more than double the total number of hits we had last December and we have the 2nd most total page views in the history of this blog.

So ... thanks guys.  Thank you for reading the blog.  Thanks to Colin, Rob, and all the rest for keeping us fresh with daily content.  Sometimes we argue, sometimes we debate, and sometimes it is a vomit-inducing love-fest, but we'd be nothing without the loyal readers.  I anticipate we'll continue to grow into 2009, and I hope you all stick with us throughout the coming months.

/ego tickling

Things I am thankful for ... of the Apocalypse

I'm probably not going to make "of the Apocalypse" a part of every post, but I'm amused to do so at this moment.

South of where I live right now, millions of families are digging into large turkeys covered in gravy, with gratuitous quantities of stuffing piled nearby, buried under heaping spoon fulls of mashed potatoes and corn, while a shelf full of pies await to be eaten.  Unfortunately, I won't get to join in the festivities until Saturday.

But while I sit here, I thought I'd share with you some of the many things that I am thankful for.

  • I'm thankful that the Cubs are headed in the right direction for once and aren't painful to follow
  • I am thankful that our readers are intelligent, mostly cordial people happy to get involved in a debate regardless of how illogical I make the premise
  • I am thankful for the GROTA staff.  If the internets was a real place, the act of them "coming to work" would be seen as five beaten, broken men shuffling into a dank, dark room, where they then hunch over to slave on stories while I crack the whip and promise to pay them with pain.  Well, maybe it's not that bad
  • I'm thankful for the opportunities we've had in the past year.  As I've already mentioned, we've grown massively in readership, we've been covered repeatedly by the national media, I got inducted into a society of 700 Cub fans including Dick Cheney, John McCain, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, and our website got a kick-ass design that has apparently inspired many other Cubs blogs to follow suite.  Yep, that's us, leading the way ... ya followers!  Hah!
  • On a personal level, I'm thankful for my fiancee, known in some circles by the name She's Canadian I Met Her At Niagara Falls You Wouldn't Know Her, or C. for short.  Hey, anybody worth immigrating to a new country for is special, right?
  • Most importantly of all, I am thankful of my immense talent to write.  Someday I'm gonna be famous and you'll all be choking on my dust trails, motherf***ers!  That's right!  I said it!  Because although the turkey's not here in Canada, the Wild Turkey is and I'm right where I wanna be ... at the top of the heap!  What'reya gonna do about it?  Huh?  Huh?  You wanna fight me?  You wanna fight me?!  Bring it on!

...ahem.  Sorry about that.  Got a little out of control with that last one.  But in all seriousness, we've all stumbled across those blogs precociously written by people with 5 readers in total, and there's nothing quite as depressing as those... which isn't to say that I don't have other blogs with 5 readers in total.  A blog is no better than the company it keeps, and you guys are awesome.  I give thanks for that.  So ... who wants to trade DeRosa and Lilly?  C'mon, don't be shy, step up!

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