Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Neal Cotts

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/managed/grota/drupal/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 33.

Guess who's back..back again

NO, NO, NO, no, no!!  You're all doing it all wrong!!!

So, how are you all enjoying your Memorial Day weekend so far?  (For Canucks such as Kurt, the fourth weekend in May here in America is set aside for...)  Ok, Kurt is actually here somewhere in the lower 48, and of course he grew up in New York, and that's probably the last attempt at humor from me for the rest of this post, because this shit just ain't working.  I came out here after the first 20 games, I think we were 11-9, and I pointed out that Geo Soto was fat and sassy, that Milton Bradley completely had his head stuck up his ass, and that Derrek Lee's best days are absolutely behind him, and you all flamed me up one side and down the other, leaving me with a nice charred crust with very little pink in the middle, because by gawd, it's only TWENTY games, give guys a chance, for cripes sake!!

Now, it's forty games in, we're 21-19, which means we've played .500 ball since that last post.  I did what you said, I gave them a chance to work things out, and what's happened since? 

  • Geo Soto still ain't hit dick
  • Milton Bradley is still pressing
  • Derrek Lee is not only still struggling, but he's now doing it in the cleanup spot
  • and, now, we've exposed Mike Fontenot for what HE is, useful as a backup, but not capable of hitting on an everyday basis
  • and, as an added bonus, Ryan Theriot has gotten away from what HE does best (go to right field) and he's swinging for the fences, with the predictable result of a plummeting batting average, on-base percentage, and overall usefulness
  • and, of course, Aramis Ramirez' shoulder is still fusing itself back into one piece
  • and, we now have not one, but two useless utility men burning at-bats and butchering plays in the field.  Sometimes, the Orioles aren't stupid, and I know pretty much the Cardinals aren't.

    But what worries me the most is looking at Lou Piniella night after night.  There is a noticeable cognitive difference in him from 2007 to today.  His job is stressful - particularly when he has come so close twice, and have it all slip away so suddenly and completely.  This job turns people.  When Dusty Baker hit town, he was all California Cool.  By his last year, he spoke and acted like someone was spiking him in the groin.  When Don Baylor hit town, he was all New Age Enthusiasm.  By his last year, he spoke and acted like someone was spiking him in the groin.  When Jim Riggleman hit town, he acted like the slimy horndog he was.  By his last year, he spoke and acted like someone was spiking him in the groin, which was probably somewhat based in reality, considering his typical nighttime activities.  (When he and Mark Grace left town, it left a lot of dental hygenists and flight attendants in their mid-30s unfulfilled)

    Now, Lou don't talk like he's in pain, but I have talked to people trained in diagnosing dementia, and they notice how he can't seem to put a coherent sentence together when he is asked a question.  He is probably the most confused man in Chicago presently, and not only does that explain why Neal Cotts still has a job, it doesn't bode well for the immediate future of the Cubs.  I have backed this man since day one, but I can no longer. 

    Hendry ain't gonna fire him, no way.  But I don't believe Lou has an answer for 2009, and in the meantime, we are wasting some decent-to-good starting pitching.   Man, I still think getting Jake Peavy would send a message, but Adrian Gonzalez would look a HELL of a lot better in pinstripes.  Too bad he ain't available...

Who would I rather see in the pen?

I anxiously await everyone's theories on the Fixing of the Bullpen.  I myself do not have any fancy plans.  Sure, the pen currently boasts some truly deplorable stats, but much of this can be explained by the couple of bad outings turned in by each and every one of its participants.  We all agree that, currently, Guzman, Gregg and Marmol are our "good" guys, and Guzman and Gregg started verrrrry slowly and Marmol had a few miserable outings after his injury.  Therefore, their ERAs are, respectively, 3.63, 3.86, and 3.94.  And these are our "good" guys who have had a couple of bad outings that have skewed their stats - and thus, the pen's as a whole.

My personal theory is to replace Neal Cotts and David Patton with virtually anybody.  Here is a partial list of who I would rather see in those two slots, RIGHT NOW, in the pen:

  • Jose Ass-can-ino
  • Kevin Hart
  • Jeff Stevens
  • Luis Vizcaino
  • Sean Marshall (provided we can get Jake Peavy first)
  • the Marquis du Suck
  • LaTroy Hawkins
  • Matt Herges
  • Cla (invisible y) Meredith
  • Octavio (0.00 ERA) Dotel
  • Frank (also 0.00 ERA) Francisco
  • Damaso (14 ERA) Marte
  • Radhames (67 ERA) Liz
  • Jim Morris
  • Dennis Quaid aka Jim Morris
  • Tim Robbins aka Nuke LaLoosh
  • Kevin Costner aka Billy Chapel
  • Chad Fox and his shattered elbow
  • Dave Dravecky, his Christian faith, and his missing upper limbs
  • Jim Abbott and his neat-o glove trick
  • sMel Rojas
  • Dave Smith
  • Rod Beck
  • Donnie Moore
  • Bird Fidrych
  • Hoyt Wilhelm

In other words, neither man has been effective whatsoever this year, and are not trusted by Sweet Lou.  So we have a five-man pen.  The release of Cotts shouldn't come back to bite us, and I am pretty confident at this point that the Giants will not want Patton back, so if the organization believes he shows promise, we ought to be able to demote him to Tennessee or Iowa without much difficulty.

Anyone with the least bit of relieving experience would be an improvement at this point, alive, dead, crippled, or even imaginary.  It is time to pull the plug.

The continuing story of Neal Cotts

By now you know that, no matter what happens this season, OCD Hendry is going to go out and grab four lefty relievers this coming winter.  That's always been his M.O. -- he doesn't fill a roster spot, he fills it three times. 

But unfortunately our GM failed to pursue a lefty reliever this winter.  He didn't get one, he got none.  Consequently, the Cubs are between a rock and a hammer*.  Either keep Cotts on the team and watch him slowly kill Lou Piniella or cut him and have no lefty relievers on the roster.  Thing is, Option #2 actually looks real good right now.

(*I'm not the hammer.**)
(**The hammer is my penis.***)
(***-Dr. Horrible quote)

Consider the facts.  Cotts has made 12 appearances in 2009, for which he's thrown a mere 6 innings.  In those 12 appearances, he has only once faced the minimum possible.  That was on April 25th against St. Louis in which Cotts faced Cory Rasmus, aka the Dumbest Hitter Evar, who flew out to center field on the first pitch Cotts threw.  (How you swing at anything thrown by Cotts - especially a first pitch - is just baffling to me.)  Realizing that he'd struck the equivilent of baseball gold, Lou Piniella did the wise thing and immediately pulled Cotts before the start of the next inning.  After all, to have left Neal in there to face another hitter would've been a serious tempting of fate.

At this point in time, lefty hitters are batting a sleek .308 against Cotts.  So much for the LOOGY factor.  Meanwhile, among all active relievers, the following are actually effective:

Dave Patton - 3 for 15 against (.200 AVG) but 6 BB
Angel Guzman - 5 for 23 against (.217 AVG, .280 OBP)
Carlos Marmol - 3 for 13 against (.231 AVG) but 7 BB

In fact let's stop it there and focus on Guzman.  23 at bats is a very small sample size, but it's a good trend.  Among all Cub relievers, Guz is hands-down the best against lefties.  So shouldn't he be the defacto LOOGY with the additional capability of staying in to face the next guy in the lineup after that?

Having a right handed reliever who can effectively get out left handed hitters is a huge advantage in a baseball game.  Managers like Dusty Baker who are locked into the 70's will send lefty hitter after lefty hitter against pitchers like Angel Guzman because "lefties hit righties better, dude." 

Therefore, I would like to advocate for the release of Neal Cotts, the secret reassignment of Angel Guzman into the Cotts role against lefties, and the promotion of another player - maybe the Incredible Mr. Fox - onto the roster.  And then we can destroy the hammer once and for all!*

(*...wait, destroy the "hammer?"  Whoa, bad idea!  BAD IDEA!**)
(**Penis jokes at GROTA.  It was only a matter of time... but at least they're tasteful***)
(***the jokes, I mean, not ... well, nevermind)

Family Reunions = Missing Games and Neal Cotts must go.

Sorry for the lack of posts during the last two weeks, but Spring
Break and a trip with Mrs. Yarbs to her family reunion will do cause
these things to happen.

As for the Cubs, I haven't seen a game
since Monday, which before I was married was unheard of. To top it off,
I haven't listened to a game since Thursday thanks to reunion the last
two days. However, I did make it back to the car just in time to hear
Aramis crank his shot yesterday.

I will get a chance to sit
down and watch tonight, even though it starts about 8:05 p.m. on the
East Coast. Is too hard to start a Sunday night game at 7 p.m.?
Hopefully, I will be able to stay up and provide some comments on the
shout box.

Finally, it is just a matter of time before Neal
Cotts is released, placed on the DL, or ends up selling hot dogs at
Wrigley. He is just about as bad as anybody I've seen in sometime (or
watched on iPhone updates while at a reunion).

In 2 2/3
innings, Cotts has given up four hits, walked four and hit one guy.
Somehow, he's managed only a 3.38 ERA. I was really hoping that I would
get back from the 6.5 hour drive today to see our only lefty on the
side of the road with a "Will walk for food" sign. As of 4 p.m., no
such sighting or transaction has been made.

Well, I hope
everybody has had a great weekend, and please join me tonight for a
little fun in the shout box. Everybody is welcome. Well, except Neal

2009 Player Previews - Neal Cotts

Neal CottsQuick Links
2008 Season Recap: Neal Cotts

I tried for quite some time to come up with something flashy to say about Neal Cotts, but I just couldn’t come up with anything. He’s just not flashy and not really good either. Somehow, he has continued to have a job as the LOOGY in the Cubs pen, and it once again he is the only lefty in the pen with Sean Marshal in the starting rotation. 

Cotts has been unremarkable for the Cubs the past two seasons, and was downright awful for the Sox three years ago. Before that, he turned in a pretty nice season for the Southsiders on their way to Championship. The one saving grace is that he just turned 29, and might have a few more decent seasons in him.

Last season, Cotts had a 4.29 ERA in 35.7 innings. He did strikeout 43 which helped the 1.430 WHIP he supported. In 07, he spent most of the year in AAA as he only threw 16 2/3 innings. While Cotts hasn’t been great, there really hasn’t been any other person to throw either. Lou didn’t like Scott Eyre for whatever reason, and he was sent packing. With very few lefties on the market (Will Ohman not withstanding), the Cubs decided to bring in a guy who hasn’t pitched in two years (Mike Stanton). Well, that experiment was doomed from the start, and he was sent packing yesterday long with Paul Bako.

What does that mean for Cotts? For one, he should feel pretty safe about a job, because the Cubs don’t have another option.  This spring, Cotts has a 3.12 ERA in 8 2/3 innings. He’s fanned six, while walking two. The problem is that spring stats don’t count, and he feels no pressure about a job. We can only hope that Cotts turns into the guy that who had a 1.94 ERA in 60 innings back in 2005.

I really blame the Cubs for not going out and spending the money on a lockdown LOOGY. We need somebody that can come in and get an out against lefties, and I don’t really have that warm feeling when I see Cotts stroll to the mound.

Update: I forgot to point out (as the comment pointed out) that Cotts really isn't really a LOOGY. I pulled up his splits, and just forgot to put them in the story. So, there is more proof that we don't have anybody to get lefties out.

Season Recap: Chad Gaudin/Neal Cotts

Cotts Gaudin

We're still waiting on Byron to provide us with a season recap for Kerry Wood, but I thought I'd just keep the train moving and write up about legendary relievers Chad Gaudin and Neal Cotts.

Actually, while neither is about to become a Hero of the Revolution or anything, the Cubs have certainly had worse relievers in the past.  (Talk about your lukewarm endorsement, eh?)  Let's break it down lefty-righty:

Lefty: Neal Cotts

Take a look at these lines - 13.1 IP 8.10 ERA, 65.1 IP 5.65 ERA, 60.1 IP 1.94 ERA, 54 IP 5.17 ERA, 16.2 IP 4.86 ERA, 35.2 IP 4.29 ERA.

I emboldened the proverbial red-headed step child of Neal's career - That One Year What He Was Good.  It was also the year that the White Sox won the Series, coincidentally or not.  One thing is for certain - that year coupled with the hand he picks his nose with are the only two reasons why he has a job.  Cotts admittedly strikes out a lot of guys, but he isn't particularly effective, and while Lou tried to use him as the Lefty Specialist this past season, Cotts actually did worse against his bretheren than he did against righties.  In fact, they batted .269 against him with an .851 OPS.  Ugly.

Unfortunately, Cotts is the defacto lefty specialist for '09, unless Jim Hendry grabs one of the free agents out there or pulls off a great trade.  But on the bright side, just how much damage can one player do in 35-50 innings of work?

Righty: Chad Gaudin

When Gaudin was the throw-in player of the Rich Harden trade, Cub fans rejoiced.  After all, at the age of 25 and with a track record as a starting pitcher, Gaudin is the insurance policy for Harden's explosive shoulder and elbow.  We also believed - and perhaps still believe - that Gaudin made Jason Marquis minimally the 7th best starting pitcher on the team.

Then, Gaudin lost effectiveness.  No, I mean he seriously started to suck.  But up until August 22nd, Gaudin's ERA as a Cub was 2.75 in about 20 innings of work.  Then, he gave up a very, very ugly 6 earned runs to the Nationals, pitched twice, and spent a long amount of time on the bench waiting for his back to get healthy enough to allow him to pitch again.  He managed to make 5 appearances in September, 4 of which were during Chicago losses, and he accumulated an ERA of 15.75 for the month.

In other words, he's a bit of a dark horse.  Gaudin just might be a talented middle reliever who will eat innings and get outs, he may even be a starter next season, or he might be little more than an insurance policy that never delivers, even when called upon.

Later today, in theory, will be Kerry Wood.  Tomorrow will be Bob Howry.

Chicago Tribune's Chicago's Best Blogs award