Goatriders of the Apocalypse

In the News: Pitchers, Books and We Need Spring to Get Here.

Welcome to the slowest few weeks for a baseball fan. For the most part, teams are getting pretty close to setting rosters and it causes a delay in any type of news to report. Hence the lack of news when it comes to our beloved Chicago Cubs. I mean if I were a Bears fan, we could have a discussion on Jay Culter, but that is best left to Rob's rantings.


Headline: MLB Whispers: Twins Lucky to Retain Pavano

Quote from story:


Tom Gorzelanny grew while with the Cubs, thanks largely to time spend with Greg Maddux, and could have a long run with the Nationals. He will be missed if Carlos Zambrano goes back into the tank but GM Jim Hendry made a good deal to get three prospects (especially Double-A outfielder Michael Burgess) for a pitcher who was acquired from the Pirates alongside lefty reliever John Grabow. One of the benefits of the deal was opening a spot to evaluate pitching prospects Casey Coleman, Andrew Cashner, Jeff Samardzija and maybe even Trey McNutt. …


Reaction:

Hendry is taking a bit of risk, because I'm sure that Gorzelanny could have been dealt during the Spring as insurance. I guess he thought he could get more right now. Of course, my real feeling is that I'm tired of media members taking another shot at Zambrano. Yes, I get it that he can be a little unstable. He makes too much money, but I still think his upside is better than Gorzelanny. Other than that, there is little new news on the Cubs. On side note, I never thought that any team would be lucky to sign Carl Pavano after reading this book by John Fienstein: 


Living on the black


If you haven't read this book, you might want to pick it up. It follows Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina around for a season. There is some gold from "The Moose" about Pavano. By clicking on the link and buying the book, you will help support us here at GROTA. Please leave all questions and comments below.

My Least Favorite Cub - #3 - Joe Pepitone

Well, how the hell else should a little kid feel about the man who replaced Mr. Cub?  You grow up knowing that Ernie Banks was the Bestest Cub Ever (these days, this can be debated) and one day, you turn on your teevee, and Good Old Ern isn't at first base.

good lord, just LOOK at this goomba!THIS assclown is out there, instead!!  My gawd, look at those sideburns??

Here's a nice synopsis of Pepi's Cub career.  Just a riduculous, monumental pain in the keester, this one was. 

Let's take a step back, though, on how we lucky Cub fans were so honored to be connected to one Joe Pepitone.  Perhaps you are familiar with the story of Jim Bouton, former Yankee pitcher and author of "Ball Four", the first true "tell-all" book about major league sports.  Well, soon after that, for a quick buck, Pepi went out and wrote his own, but in his own manner, mostly all he told was himself.

Several years after his stint with us, I had the "pleasure" of reading "Joe, You Coulda Made Us Proud", and I daresay, much of the sexual education I have received in my entire lifetime came from Pepi.  If this makes you queasy, it should.

In it, he tells the tale of his upbringing, his breaking into the majors with his hometown Yankees, and how he managed to piss away most of his God-given talent with drink, drugs, and mostly every floozy who couldn't run away from him fast enough.  By the time he got to Wrigley Field in 1970, he was running on fumes, and even to the most naive 6 year old boy watching on TV, it was clear that this guy was a loser.

Hell, you could have gotten the second coming of Lou Gehrig to replace Ernie Banks at first base, and I wouldn't have cared for him very much.  But to replace Mr. Cub with this dizzy Sinatra wanna-be?  It was just too much. 

He was always out of the lineup, and because he made his life an open book and antagonized everyone around him, whatever media there was in the early 70s Chicago beat the hell out of him.  At that time, there were 3 or 4 major Chicago papers, so they competed for the best Pepi scoop.  So it was that here I am, a little boy who just lost his favorite idol, and I'm figuring: well, if they got rid of Ernie Banks, then this new guy must be even BETTER, right? 

Not only was this new guy not better, he was way way not better, because the guys in the newspapers said so.  Pepi was out all night; Pepi is fighting with Leo Durocher; Pepi is spending too much time opening his new nightclub, or at the Playboy Club.  I read newspapers in those days, and certainly my old man did, and even though he got me hooked on the Cubs during the happy days of 1969, by the time Pepi was killing us with his miserable attitude and inconsistency, the old man had jumped off the bandwagon and got his jollies teasing me about the "new guy" who came to work drunk and struck out with the bases loaded again...

Forty years later, I'm still bitter.  Yeah, I now know Joe Pepitone didn't drive Ernie Banks away from baseball: it was his knees.  I realize there probably wasn't anyone better out there, and not unlike Jim Hendry last year with Milton Bradley, a talented guy can come in, pledge his total commitment to the team, and in the end leave behind more damage than he was worth.  Yeah, his lurid book where he graphically described every sexual encounter he ever had was profoundly creepy, but should not really have any effect on how we perceived his play.  The only difference between him and 2/3rds of major leaguers today is that he had the chutzpah to actually write about it, as if we'd care.

It's just that all the parts of the Joe Pepitone story just all congealed and splashed down on me (and all Cub fans of the time) at my most impressionable moment.  It wasn't fair, it wasn't right, and I don't HAVE to feel good about it.

Why ARE you still alive, Joe Pepitone?  Shouldn't you have been killed by a jealous husband by now?

My Least Favorite Cubs - #4 - Felix Horridia and George Frazier (tie)

Well, tied with hundreds of other lousy, pitiful bullpen arms over the past forty years, including and not limited to: Tom Detorre; Oscar Zamora; Donnie Moore; Bob Locker; Eddie Solomon; Joe Coleman; Mike Garman; Pete Broberg; Lynn McGlothen; Bill Caudill; Doug Capilla; Ken Kravec; Bill Campbell; Warren Brusstar; Dave Gumpert' Ray Fontenot; Jay Baller; Frank DiPino; Ed Lynch (yep!); Drew Hall; (the corpse of) Goose Gossage; Dave Smith; Chuck McElroy; Heathcliff Slocumb...

...and since we're only getting to around 1990 at this point, you get the gist.

But, why do these two solitary men stick out like a swollen goiter from a roster of such swirling, festering shittiness?

George Frazier came to us along with Rick Sutcliffe, and as it goes with the fate of the Cubs, if we somehow stumble upon something good, it has to be accompanied with something bad.

Frazier was the worst pitcher we had during the thrilling dash for the first title we had won in (pretty much) all of our lifetimes.  Of course, in that wonderful season of miracles and unicorns and rainbows and such, 'worst' was an ERA around 4.50.  Nothing harsh could ever, ever sink us, at least not until the Gatorade Glove.

No, the next year, the karmic payback for blowing it, for being given the finest of all gifts (three chances to clinch the NLCS) and somehow pissing it all away, was having our entire five-man rotation on the DL SIMULTANEOUSLY at one point.  Sooo...it stands to figure that our bullpen was heavily relied on, and perhaps there was occasion to overuse it.

Rarely in the history of big league baseball have there been bullpen arsonists quite like the 1985 George Frazier.  In 51 appearances, his ERA was 6.39.  More walks than strikeouts.  A WHIP close to 2.  His partner in crime was the aforementioned Brusstar, who was nearly as bad, in all aspects including the bad porn mustaches both had.

It was after one game in mid-June, with the Cubs in first place, after Frazier had blown his second save in a row, that Harry Caray proclaimed "the way the Cubs look, they might now win another game".  The Cubs did not win for another two entire weeks, and by the time they posted another W, they were knocking on the door of fifth place.

Incredibly, they kept handing him the ball, another 35 times in 1986, until Minnesota took him off our hands.  And he sucked for them, too.

Felix Heredia (I had to look up exactly what his surname actually was, since I have simply known him as HORRIDIA since day one) threw left handed.  Otherwise, I am not sure how in God's name he would have caught anyone's attention as it pertains to pitching baseballs. 

Thing is, he wasn't even the worst reliever we picked up during the 1998 Wild Card run - that would have been Matt Karchner.  And actually, pitch for pitch, Krotchner was better, but we didn't give up Jon Garland for Horridia, like we did for the Krotch. 

The problem I had with Horridia was that they kept sending him out there, and outside of the fact that he throws with a hand most of us only wipe with, the only other possible reason I could come up with was his won-loss record.  Yeah, for those of us who remember his tired act, but never looked it up: Horridia had a 15 - 6 record as a Chicago Cub!?!?! 

This could very well be the single most hollow stat in the history of stats.

For those of you who don't remember this particular bum: you put him in when we were down 8 runs (which was often), and he'd hold down the fort for 2 or 3 innings.  I suppose while other teams are up big, the hitters stop concentrating, which made his level fastball and useless breaking crap effective.

On the other hand, with the game on the line, he was totally caustic.  He was a major vulture: giving up leads, and getting "wins" when the Cubs came back in games.  These were the Sosa days - the "live" Wrigley, the Friendly Confines.  I figure out of Horridia's 15 wins, 14 of them are because Sosa bailed his miserable ass out of jail.

High walks, high ERA, high WHIP, but young, left-handed and cheap.  Everything came to a head during the 2001 season.  Recall the Cubs rode Sammy's big swoled-up bat to a surprisingly successful 2/3rds of a season after 2 miserable years of near-historic ineptitude.  That year featured the implausible but nearly automatic convoy of Kyle "Tightpants" Farnsworth in the 7th, Jeff "Last Legs" Fassero in the 8th, and Tom Gordon in the 9th.  This doesn't sound like something that should work at all, but it did, up to the point where Fassero and Gordon both broke down.

Enter Horridia.  With the offense we had that year, we were never out of games, and because of that, as bad as he had been, he became even more urgently worse.  How can you be worse than worst?  When you already suck, how can you give up even MORE walks, hits, runs and homers?    Some guys thrive under pressure, and others simply do not. 

Horridia made LaTroy Hawkins look like Mariano Rivera.  Horridia also made my ass ache.  When he left, you could follow his progress.  When another team had a double-digit inning posted on them, I always checked to see if a) Horridia was taking up one of their roster spots, and b) if he was part of the debacle.

More than once, it was so.  Just an utter piece of southpaw shit.

In the News

It's been quite some time when I didn't have graduate school  to worry about all the time. Hopefully, I will be able to provide more commentary on things going on in the Cub world. One segment that I wanted to start was, In the News. Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far way (Arkansas), I was a sports writer for four years. I'm drawn to the media, because I was so heavily involved with writing and newspapers. Well, now that I'm just a teacher, and somewhat of a career student, it will be easier to produce a little more regular content other than the Gameday stuff, which gets boring somewhat.



Today in the News:
Headline: Milton Bradley arrested in L.A.
Quote from story:

Police in Los Angeles have arrested Seattle Mariners outfielder Milton Bradley for allegedly making threats against a woman, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Bradley, 32, was taken into custody at 10 a.m. local time Tuesday and was taken to the Van Nuys, Calif., jail, where he was booked for suspicion of making criminal threats, a Los Angeles Police Department officer told the Times.

Reaction:

Sadly this comes with little surprise with many of the Cubs fans here at this site and probably Ranger, A's, Indians, Dodgers and Padre fans either. Bradley is troubled, and probably should have stayed in Texas where he played well a couple years ago. Crazy just looks better in Texas. Come on, their Manager kept his job after getting busted for cocaine. Bradley's antics, until now, were never close to that. Well, other than that TV announcer thing, but that guy had it coming. In all seriousness, I hope Bradley can find peace one day, because that's just no way to go through life.

Headline: Cubs Sign Marshall to two-year deal, while agreeing to terms with Tom Gorzelanny.

Quote from story:

Gorzelanny, who will take a physical exam Wednesday in Washington, received $2.1 million, a raise from the $800,000 he made with the Cubs last year.If Gorzelanny passes the physical, the two teams will make official a deal that will send the left-hander to the Nationals for three minor-league prospects. Washington would then pay the pitcher's salary.

Garza, whom the Cubs obtained in a trade with Tampa Bay earlier this month, agreed to a one-year deal worth $5.95 million, up from the $$3.35 million he made last year.Marshall, who has a home in the north suburbs, gets a two-year contract worth $4.7 million. He'll earn $1.6 million this year and $3.1 million in 2012.

Reaction:

Wait a minute here. Didn't the Cubs trade Gorzellany yesterday or the day before? I guess that trade is not quite done. One or two things are holding it up. First, it is possible that the Nationals forgot they were trading for the lefty and found a way to back out of the deal once they realized the Cubs would have to release him before the start of the season. So, why give up three guys. Bruce Miles did have a nugget saying that Tom would take his physical today.

One last thing:

Does anybody have any good references to help the understanding of advanced metrics for baseball? I dabble in some of them, but I didn't know if there was a good site that really breaks each one of them down. I would like to to start using more of those figures in my analysis on this site, and I wanted a good starting off point. Please leave any comments about this in the comments section.

Marmol is the only arb-eligible not signed, and he made $2,125,000 last year. How much does he make this year?

under $4 million
17% (1 vote)
$4 to 6 million
50% (3 votes)
$6 to 8 million
0% (0 votes)
over $8 million
33% (2 votes)
Trade Him!! We can't afford him!!
0% (0 votes)
Marmol is already rich...the Sox already suck!
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 6

Cashner to Cubs rotation?

Only three of the five spots in the Cubs' starting rotation are accounted for at present. So now that Tom Gorzelanny is gone, what should the Cubs do about the other two? And what do you suppose they actually will do?

Let's start with what they should do. Randy Wells, who pitched 194 innings in 32 starts last year, should get the fourth job. He did claim to have some mental issues at times last year, but maybe working with Mike Quade will chill him out. Wells lacks ace stuff, but is durable, and has shown that he is able to pitch with above-average control, which is valuable.

As for the fifth spot, I think the job should go to the most talented candidate, which almost without question has to be Andrew Cashner. Cashner was great at all levels of the Cubs' minor league system last year, and has front-end stuff to go with his stats. The only question with him is whether he can manage to get through a major league lineup three times in one game. I say give him a shot. I think there's a good chance this is what the Cubs will do, in addition to being what they should do.

The only other option I could see them going with at this point would be slotting in Carlos Silva as the fifth starter and moving Cashner to the bullpen. And really, that would be fine too, so long as they kept Cash in the 'pen all year. It's the moving young arms between bullpen and rotation that really grinds my gears. Isn't this just begging for an injury? Plus, isn't it way tougher for a developing arm to improve when his role is constantly being juggled?

What do you think the Cubs should do? What do you expect they will do?

My Least Favorite Cubs #5 - Moises Alou

Could you have looked like more of a pussy in Game 6?Let's see now, there were so many other and better outfielders we could have gotten to play LF in 2002.  Moises Alou was one of Hendry's first free agent signings.

So, in his first year at Wrigley, Alou substantially underperformed compared to his previous seasons and to his contract.  Sometime during the next year, he admitted he showed up out of shape, and had a hard time 'adjusting to the unique schedule'.  Meaning, like so many others we've brought here in my lifetime, Moises Alou liked his nightlife.

Admitting he liked to pee on his own hands to toughen his skin was also pretty gross.

His last year with us, in 2004, he put up big, if hollow, stats.  During the last dismal month of the year, time after time, Alou killed rallies in the cleanup spot, and along with his manager and several of his teammates, he decided that all the Cubs' troubles were created in the TV announcers' booth.  Which did lead to the break-up of Chip-n-Stoney, a positive development, but, still.

By the time Moises Alou had his hissy fit with the booth, it only served to remind us of his most infamous moment; naturally, the extremely unprofessional and dubious tantrum he threw in the 8th inning of Game 6. 

IF Alou was in fact able to reach that foul, it was quite unlikely he would have been able to catch it.  It would have been a great catch if he had, and there were not a lot of 'great' Alou defensive moments during his career here.  Now, Bartman should have let it go, instead of being a snivelling moron.  Fact is, he didn't, and Alou should have just given him a glance and just walked away, as a 12 year veteran should.

Instead he jumped up and down, sputtering and spitting, like an inmate who just got his cable TV privileges revoked.  Who knows what affect THAT had on the tender, gentle psyche of Mark Prior?  Who knows how that affected his entire team, to see one of its so-called elder statesmen throwing a pre-school hissy?

Moises Alou was never a favorite of mine, but showing his utter lack of composure in the most important moment of Cubs history of the past 75 years, he managed to wedge his whiny ass on my List.

The next year, he ran off to his daddy's team, and extorted another 30 million from them for two years, in which he underperformed. I guess he managed to spread his unpleasantness elsewhere. 

Just a lo-fat dickstick.  Moises Alou, one of my five Least Favorite Cubs ever.

Tommy Go-Go gone

ESPN's Bruce Levine is reporting that the Cubs have traded left-handed pitcher Tom Gorzelanny to the Nationals.

The articles says the Cubs are receiving three prospects (two pitchers and an outfielder) in return. No word on whether any of them have a sweet Tumblr blog.

As Levine points out, this now leaves James Russell as the only lefty on the roster with the potential to be a starter. Happy Monday.

Three perhaps surprising Cubs who are NOT on my Least Favorite List

I forgot to mention yesterday that this particular idea owes something to Bad Kermit's Bottom 126 Cubs list-o-shame, but I think his aim was to journal the Cubs that he thought sucked the worst.  My Least Favorite Cubs all sucked, sure, but there have been many, many Cubs who sucked worse than my Five.  The five are just the ones I hated the worst.

Now, here are three guys that many of you hate, but for one reason or another, I didn't:

- Todd (Turd) Hundley:

Sweaty, drug addled?  Check.  Entitlement based on his daddy's stellar career?  Check.  Remarkably piss-poor performance?  Check.  Whining, finger pointing, excuse-laden, never-my-fault, pouty, unlikable, useless waste of money, oxygen, and carbon footprint?  Oh yes.

My lack of hate for good old #9 and 99 comes from the fact that I expected nothing less out of him the minute they signed him.  This was not a new thing: he did not become a sweaty druggie once he became a Cub.  He came that way: he was as-is.  If you want to blame, and I blame as much as all of you, blame the suckwad that brought him in. 

He was a MacFail deal, right?  Hendry might have had a hand in it, but I think Andy McSweatervest was the guy who brought in the Turd, who paid $7MM * 4 for damaged goods.  That money could have been spent on ANYONE else in the entire league, and we'd been better off.

- LaTroy Hawkins

Only one Cub has ever caused me to steer my car off the road and into a barricade.  This was because he tried to throw to first for the last out of a game, and managed to bounce it off a runner's helmet.  Amongst pathetic closers such as Dave Smith, Rick gAguliera, sMel Rojas, Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams, and Six Fingers Alfonseca, Hawkins was the worst.

One problem: the three years before we signed him, he was the best set-up man in the AL.  The day we signed him, he stated publicly he was NOT here to close games, and was not interested in doing so.

This did not convince Dusty Baker, who kept running his ass out there day after day to close games.  Maybe in Dustbag's world, people don't say what they mean and mean what they say.  Sometimes, Dusty, they do.  I don't care that he was being paid a king's ransom.  Sometimes, when a guy makes the effort to point out that he is a mental midget who lacks the guts to close games, it might be a good idea to take him at his word.

For this, I cannot hate LaTroy Hawkins.  He warned us right up front.

- Milton Bradley

Out of 7 billion people on the face of the earth, 6,999,999,999 of us knew that Don't Wake Daddy was batshit crazy.  Even he, he himself, finally admitted (last year) that he is damaged. 

Only one person alive thought Bradley was OK, and that was the guy who signed him to a $30MM deal. 

That,in and of itself, is a terminable offense. Hendry should have been fired a year ago, no questions asked, do not pass Go, do not collect $200, good bye, good riddance, don't let the door hitcha where the good Lord splitcha, adios, bonjour, auf wiedersein, sayonara.

He was a square peg in a round hole, who if he had any decency or honor whatsoever would have realized he could not possibly hack it in Chicago, but would I turn down 30 million smackeroos? 

No, I wouldn't, so that's why I don't hate the guy.  He is what he is.

Least Favorite Cub

I have five, count 'em, five Least Favorite Cubs to write about.  Well, actually, there have been many, many, oh so many Cubs I have disliked, but I figured I would keep it down to five.

But before I throw my L.F. Five at you (and SURPRISE!  Sammy Sosa is NOT #1) I'd like it if you chimed in with yours.  Either comment, use the Shout Box, post, do whatever you'd like. 

I feel that 2011 is something of a fresh, new start for us, 

Well, that may be a bit much.  There isn't as much "fresh" and "new" as I'd like, but I am trying my damndest to get into a fresh, new mindset, and a big part of that is letting go of some of the negative energy.

Let's hear about the Cubs in history that you really couldn't stand, the ones you hated to see, you went to take a whiz whenever they came up to hit, or you switched off the tv when they took the mound.  Guys that left you less than proud that you were a Cub fan.

Get it out of our systems, and plow into the season coming up.  This weekend is the big Kubs Kool-Aid Konvention, which means Pitchers-and-Catchers is coming up in a few weeks. 

GARZA!  NOLASCO!  RAMIREZ!  RAMIREZ!  It's the 2011 NLDS Playoffs, Cubs vs. Marlins, on TBS!!

Huh?  How do you like that?

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award