Goatriders of the Apocalypse

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It has been a while since I have had the audacity to post a blog entry.  I apologize to my loyal blog followers for the absence(... I don't actually think I had any, but it makes me feel special).

To be honest, this Cubs season has been the type of vanilla that doesn't really inspire a worthwhile entry.  Sure, I could write an entry about any and every issue plaguing the Cubs over the season, but that is basically what every blog/sportswriter/analyst has been doing since the third week of the season.  However, something happened today during the course of the 6-5 victory over the White Sox that compelled me to jump online and write about it.

Over the course of this season the Cubs seemed to be stuck with a 2008 postseason hangover.  Instead of coming out of the gate inspired and with fire/revenge, they came out defeated, slumping and uninspired.  Something was just lacking; perhaps the "cubby swagger" that Lou always talks about.  Back in 2008, you felt like the Cubs could come back from any deficit at any time (see, e.g. Colorado comeback game, the ATL Edmonds/Reed HBP walkoff game, etc.).  I have never been labeled "cynical" when it comes to Cubs baseball: I'm always the guy in June that has to bring people down from the edge, I've never booed a Cubs player (that is another rant altogether), but at the same time I'm not a blind "kool aid" drinker.  Regardless, it just felt like that belief and swagger was lost somewhere along the way by the current Cubs roster.

Today felt like a page had been turned.  The Cubs were once again down by a reasonably large deficit late in the game.  However, something strange happened when the 8th inning came around: the guys that were supposed to step up did. 

I know that this game is just one of 162.  But I came away from this game with the hope that perhaps this team may have found a bit of that swagger that seemed to be lacking earlier.  Let's hope it continues. 

Fixing the F***ing Roster?

I don't really believe in trades just to shake up a team, but. Here is a thought


Trade Lilly @ 13 million, Heilmann @ 1.6 million, Miles @ 2.2 milliuon and David Patton for Ian Stewart @ 400,000  (plays 2nd, 3rd, LF&RF), Ryan Spillboughs @ 400.000 (plays all 3 OF ppostions), Manuel Corpas @ 750,000 (had 19 saves 2 years ago) and Seth Smith @ 400,000 (plays all 3 OF positions and left handed). May have to pick up some of the money.


Trade for Yunel Escobar @ 400,000 (can play 2nd, SS, 3rd) the Braves are suppose to have a hot shot SS at 3A, for Fukudone @ 12.5 million and Jake Fox (my guess it that it would have to be Spillboughs and not Fox). The selling point on this may-be that the Braves have Kenshin Kawakami who was Fukudome's team mate in Japan and all Fukudome needs is a fellow country man to hang out with to get his game together.


This would hurt our starting pitching and bullpen since we would have to move Marshall (Marshall is no Lilly yet) into the rotation. Depending on how much of the contracts we had to pick up we could save 5 million to use to make an addition to the bullpen.


I know the Braves have been looking to improve their outfield and the Rockies are on a hot streak and not out of the wildcard race at worst. Bottom line is how much would it hurt?

on geo and other ruminations

Another day, another post on the sophmore slump that Geo is experiencing.  Kurt just posted several interesting concepts on why Geo is not the player that he was last year.  If Geo is in fact injured, then lets blow this season up and shelve him get him healthy, have Aramas get his shoulder repaired, move Harden to the closer role, and teach Fox to play a position (any position, maybe right field).  As for the Board Game (Milton Bradley) piss or get off the pot.  If he needs surgery then get it, if he's healthy then get on the field.  Micah Hoffpauir is proving that he is a capable player at this level, though I don't think he's a long term answer.  I think if we can consider trading Big Z, then we have to seriously consider what we can get for D-Lee.  The stud of the past doesn't look like he will ever return.  Be it his wrist injury or age or whatever, he isn't the long-term answer at 1st base either.  We had a window two years ago and it apears to be closing.  I'm a long suffering cubs fan as much as the rest of you, but I believe in building for long term success.  We have several pieces to the puzzle and more in the pipeline, but some of our aging heros may need to be aging in someone elses uniform.  Take a lesson from the Boston Red Socks.  They are much less attached to their heros, Damon, Manny, and soon to be Big Poppy (if they stay true to form).  What all the answers are I don't know, but it seems this season is dragging on and we are just hanging around.  I don't see us going anywhere at this rate, so why don't we just make plans for the future and not hold out "silly" hope for every season.?   then again, maybe what we should do is shoot for the wild card, catch fire in September, and then win a completely unexpected world series.  Go Cubs Go. 

my appoligies

hi all,  clearly someone has userpped my account name and used it for clearly awful shouts.  i'm sorry if anyone thought that was me, i don't use that sort of language.  i think i'll change my user name.  sorry all, the real ChrisL

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.

Is Harden actually hurt?

Today Rich Harden was placed on the 15 day DL retroactive to Monday due to back spasms.  Given Harden's injury history some would cringe and others would start complaining about curses, but honestly, who's to say that he is actually hurt? 

Hear me out on this...                                                                                          

I think that he probably isn't actually hurt, but instead is getting a little bit of rest as we reach the end of the first quarter of the season.  It's a good time for the team to give him a start or two off with Marshall and Wells pitching pretty well.  Even though the Cubs have recently lost a few games in a row, it was because of their offense not their pitching. 

Putting Harden on the DL also delays any major roster move that may need to be made and gives Hendry an opportunity to try to move Cotts or Heilman.  This was probably about the best move the Cubs could have made at this time and I think that it is going to end up being good for them in the long run.

What this may end up doing also is aiding the team in potentially resigning Harden to a one or two year deal at the end of the year for much cheaper than if he stayed healthy all year long.  If Harden was able to prove that he was at 100% for an entire season, especially in a career year, he would probably have a ton of potential suitors, but now a lot of teams may stay away.  So good move Cubbies! This is probably going to benefit you more than you know!

Ricketts and Cub's sale

There has not been anything of late about the sale of the Cub's being completed. Here is what I know. About 3 weeks ago there was a story in Chicago Crains Business that Ricketts looking for 10 investors to put in another 25 million each. Today the reports are that Ricketts has had meetings with "hollywood" types that have Chicago roots looking for money. I don't take any of this as good news that the sale will being going thru any time soon. My take on the situation is that this may hold back the Cub's as much as the bullpen. With the ownership in such a state of flux, Hendry's hands may-be tied as the deals he can make. Does anyone have any more information? 

The Bullpen

UPDATE: I was really busy today with school, so this is the first time I looked at the site today. Chief gave us this post today, so with all the other Goats out today it seems, except AJ. I'm going to move this to front for discussion. There will be more content tomorrow as the series gets started with the Cardinals.
    
I'd like to preface this post by saying that while I've been a longtime GoatReader, this is my first article.

Let's face it, the Offense is finally into 2009, and the Starting Rotation has always been here. However, the 2009 Cubs lack one major detail: their bullpen. I'd like to take the time to examine each arm currently there first.

  • Carlos Marmol has been excellent, as has Angel Guzman. Neither has been brought into question this year, and rightfully so. They've done their job.
  • Kevin Gregg has been shaky at times, but we need to face the fact: Lou trusts him, and he's not going anywhere. Many think he's done and was a waste of a high level prospect, but he's only had a handful of bad outings, but they've been terrible when he's had them.
  • Aaron Heilman was spot on for a while, and lately he's been dreadful, but I think the real Heilman falls somewhere in between. He's a keep, and much better than his 4.86 ERA shows.
  • Jose Ascanio was acquired a few years ago in the Will Ohman Trade, and so far, he's been a pleasant surprise, but two innings can only say so much about a guy.
  • The Elephant in the room is obviously the Dreadful Duet of David Patton and Neal Cotts. Neither is particularly useful, and I personally think Patton is NOT one of those recent Rule V Draft picks that will revolutionize basebal(Josh Hamilton, Joakim Soria).

So that begs the question, for those two spots, Cotts and Patton, What do we do? We have a few options in our Minor League System.

  • Greg Reinhard is a righty in AAA who has been off the charts against lefties, who holds lefties to a .69 BA (Righties hit 3.11)
  • Jeff Steven has also been fantastic, who, before tonight, has let up only one run. He currently holds all batters to a .143 BA, with only a marginal advantage against lefties.
  • There are, of course, other options such as Mitch Atkins or Jeff Samardzija, but in my opinion, neither has performed well enough at the level they're at to be called up to the big leagues.

Or we could trade for relievers. John Grabow has been rumored to be available, and although he's not exactly a LOOGY, Lou has never really seemed impressed with LOOGY's(Stevie Eyre). Danys Baez has also been great this year, and he's also rumored to be available.

Whatever happens, the Cubs should win upwards of ninety games this year, especially if they acquire a guy like Jake Peavy.

Whoops

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.

The Root of the Problem Isn't just Mr. Cotts

After a delirious afternoon babbling about how adding Freel gives us another intangible towards the quest for a title, I wake up to a bullpen implosion, the return to the DL of Fox, and D-Lee with neck spasms.  All before the coffee pot is done brewing.

It'd be easy to toss this mess on the bullpen, known with little affection around our house as the "Gas Can Gang", and demand that they all be shipped to whatever small market team that would accept them.  Shockingly, it's not all their fault.  Yes, I will give you the fact that Neal Cotts sucks.  He does.  I know.  Believe me, I know. 

We don't score enough runs.  Bottom line.  We leave to many guys on base.  Being out of market, I will "watch" a lot of games on Gameday.  It is really obvious when you graphically watch how many little, red, block shaped base runners we strand out there. 

I am really glad to see how selective the team has become at the plate.  I appreciate the ability to work the count and draw a walk.  Who among us though wouldn't love to see Roosevelt Brown knock the horse-piss out of a ball and damage some brick on buildings unfortunate enough to get in the way?  Just give me one free swinging, bad pitch chasing, masher.  Just one. 

If we score more runs, you stretch the 'pen.  Guys you would never bring into a close game....COTTS!!...cough, cough, cough.......could get the chance to work a little longer if you're up five instead of two.  I know Lou is not keen to keep a pitcher out there who is missing his spots, but some of those guys have got to learn to get themselves out of trouble and they need more run support to have that chance.

Score in bunches, play small ball, steal bases,  sacrifice (Neal Cotts to the Goat-God of Borneo), whatever it takes to put as many tallies on the board as you can.  If you can rest the "closers" in the pen and let the other guys take up some slack this thing will right itself. 

Even with all the drama of the morning I look to find us only 2.5 back.  Hold off on the worst team ever compairisons.  Looking at our division I'm not sure that any other team is deep enough to take the losses we have and be 2.5 back.  It's a long season.  GO CUBS!

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