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Browsing posts from February, 2009

Cubs Need Orlando Hudson At 2B

By bullpenbrian - February 16, 2009 - 12:34 am Leave a comment.

Orlando Hudson is the answer for the Cubs at second base.

He’s still in the prime of his career, hits from both sides of the plate and plays exceptionally well defensively. Plus, he’s also very available as an unsigned free agent.

Shy away from O-Dog and the Cubs are left with an unproven Mike Fontenot and the veteran Aaron Miles to man the second sack.

And while Fontenot appears to be the favorite heading into Spring Training, I’m betting on Miles to win the job.

Miles certainly has more experience than Fontenot with five seasons of 300+ at-bats, including two seasons of 400+ ABs and one of 522. Fontenot, however, has never surpassed more than 243 at-bats in a season.

Yet, what’s being overlooked in the Fontenot vs. Miles competition is defense and both players combined can’t match Hudson’s fielding abilities.

Think how strong the Cubs would be up the middle with Soto behind the plate, Fukudome in center and Theriot and Hudson turning two.

As I like to say DEFENSE MATTERS!!!

Not to mention, I think Hudson would be a superb addition to the leadoff spot, assuming Soriano stays committed to moving down in the order.


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Face 2 Face At Wrigley

By bullpenbrian - February 14, 2009 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

One sunny July afternoon during 2007 I was sitting at Murphy’s Bleachers’ beer garden with a good friend of mine rehashing old memories and pouring down cold Old Styles.

My buddy was visiting from out of town for the Sting concert to be held that evening at Wrigley Field.

While taking in the sun we noticed a white van pull up and stop just past Murphy’s on Sheffield Avenue.

To our surprise, out stepped Sting himself, who politely posed long enough for my pal to snap a picture.

From there Sting meandered into the park and we stumbled back to the beer garden.

And the next thing we know we’re listening to the band practice on stage in center field! Cool memory for both of us.

Although, the Sting moment made me realized I was missing out by not having purchased a ticket to the show…thus, I’d make sure to be at the next Wrigley Field concert.

Of course, last year came and went with no concert held at Wrigley.

This year, however, Elton John’s and Billy Joel’s Face 2 Face Tour plays the Friendly Confines July 21st: yesterday I bought my tickets.

Section 240, seats 101 & 102 (third base side, middle deck)…it wasn’t cheap, but it had to be done.

Seats are again for sale today on-line at Ticket Master.com.

  • Lou Piniella says he’s “saddened” with the news of A-Rod’s PED use.

I’d like to ask Lou if he ever suspected Rodriguez was using while playing in Seattle.

  • Speaking of PEDs, Jim Hendry offers up an interesting angle about the actual number of MLB players on steroids (courtesy MLB.com).

There was some speculation that as many as 50 to 70 percent of the players were “cheating,” Hendry said. However, if you have 40-man rosters on 30 teams, that’s 1,200 players. Half of that is 600. The report was that 104 tested positive in 2003 [It doesn't add up].

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Revised MLB HR List (*)

By bullpenbrian - February 13, 2009 - 12:30 am Leave a comment.

Everyone understands Hank is still No. 1

Everyone understands Hank is still No. 1

There’s no sense in rewriting baseball’s record book because of the Steroids Era.

What happened during this period was real, some of it artificially enhanced for sure, but it was all real.

Begin changing box scores for the steroids era and you’re climbing a slippery slope with the rest of baseball’s unique and imperfect history.

Bud Selig has made it public he’ll consider tweaking the record books: convicted PED users being removed from lists as if they never existed.

It’s a bad idea, it won’t work and it doesn’t change in any way what actually happened on the field.

If Selig wanted to protect baseball’s most cherished records he should have done so a decade ago by taking swift action against PED use and not waiting until A-Rod’s admission to steroid use Monday.

Besides, Selig doesn’t need to remove Bonds from the all-time HR list for baseball fans to know Aaron is still king.

All we can do moving forward is keep working to further understand exactly what happened during the late 1990s.

Then, take what’s learned and put it into perspective for that period of time.

In the meantime, here’s the all-time HR list with guilty steroid users removed…in parenthesis is where the player actually stands on the current list.

1. Aaron (2) 755

2. Ruth (3) 714

3. Mays (4) 660

4. Griffey (5) 611

5. Robinson (7) 586

6. Killebrew (9) 573

7. R. Jackson (11) 563

8. Schmidt (13) 548

9. Thome (14) 541

10. Mantle (15) 536

11. Foxx (16) 534

12. M. Ramirez (17) 527

13. McCovey, Thomas, Williams (18) 521

14. Banks, Mathews (19) 512

15. Ott (20) 511

16. Murray (21) 504

17. Gehrig, McGriff (23) 493

18. Musial, Stargell (24) 475

19. C. Delgado (25) 469

20. D. Winfield (26) 465

  • Removed

1. Bonds 762

6. Sosa 609

8. McGwire 583

10. Palmeiro 569

12. Rodriguez 553

25. Sheffield 499

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Dunn’s Passion For Baseball

By bullpenbrian - February 12, 2009 - 12:01 am Leave a comment.

Adam Dunn’s passion for the game of baseball has been in question for many years.

He’s often viewed as out of shape and underdeveloped for a player who entered the league in 2001.

Yet, he’s also been voted an All Star, has averaged 40 home runs the past five seasons and most importantly, he’s averaged more than 152 games played per year through seven full seasons.

So, is Dunn passionate about his profession or not?

I think Dunn understands that he’s got it good earning a paycheck to play baseball, but his true passion for the game is still in hiding.

This better explains why the Big Donkey joined the god-awful Washington Nationals (59-102)?

Specifically, they’re two reasons: first off, the Nats paid top-dollar to get him and secondly, D.C. is a perfect sleepy market for Dunn to play his game without coming under fire to lose weight or improve defensively: comments that slowly ate away at Adam’s ego during his final months with Cincinnati.

Considering Dunn’s biggest supporter is GM Jim Bowden and that he’ll be reunited with good buddy Austin Kearns, and you find yourself one – fat, content and underdeveloped -  happy ballplayer.


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Marmol Not Closer Material

By bullpenbrian - February 11, 2009 - 12:20 am 1 comment.

Tribune

Carlos Marmol speaks clearly when mentioning he wants to be the Cubs closer.

And I’ll speak clearly to say I like Marmol as a set-up man vs. closer.

Why keep the most dynamic slider in baseball waiting in the bullpen for save opportunities?

Use the guy’s rubber-arm to shut down the opposition during the seventh and eighth innings presenting save opportunities for Kevin Gregg.

Closing games is more about mentality than stuff; look no further than Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera.

Carlos pitches with intense emotion, too intense for closing ballgames on a regular basis.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Marmol’s flair on the mound and I love the way he sparks the Cubs lineup whether they’re leading or trailing on the scoreboard.

But, I’m afraid that emotional charge is lost if Lou only trots him out to the mound in the ninth inning.

What I’m saying is, I like Marmol for who he is as a pitcher: durable, emotional and effective.

And it’s not like the club is without a closer: Gregg saved 61 games for Florida during the past two seasons.

Plus, if Marmol’s post season numbers are an indication of how he’ll produce on the hot-seat, well, he’s in for a tough transition – 5.2 IP, 6H, 5ER and a 7.94 ERA.

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D-Ro Misses Cubs

By bullpenbrian - February 10, 2009 - 12:10 am 1 comment.

As a guest Monday morning on ESPN 1000′s Waddle & Silvy Show Mark DeRosa says he still has moments when he gets ticked about being traded by the Cubs.

The former North Sider went on to say that despite his arrival in Chicago as a virtual unknown player (to Cubs fans) the Chicago faithful welcomed him with open arms even to the point of making him a fan favorite, and that affection continues to resonate with him.

Plus, on top of his popularity in Chicago is the fact he’ll miss out on a chance to be part of the first Cubs team to win a World Series in more than 100 years.

Of course, listening to the interview made me wish for sentimental reasons that DeRosa was still a Cub, but I stand by my earlier opinion that dealing Mark was in the best interest of the team.

However, because D-Ro is a class act I have no doubt he’ll be shown the same love in Cleveland.

And according to Forbes.com DeRosa has plenty of company leaving town.

In this article Chicago is listed as one of America’s most miserable cities: terrible winter weather, high sales tax and plenty of corrupt public officials – to name a few – has steadily pushed Chicagoans to seek better living elsewhere during the past seven years.

Heck, even Obama left for Washington.

On the bright side, with the Indians playing in the AL Central Cubs fans still have an opportunity to get some more D-Ro when the Tribe visits US Cellular (June 4-7).

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Roidriguez

By bullpenbrian - February 9, 2009 - 12:45 am Leave a comment.

Photo: NYP

Here’s what’s laughable about the recent A-Roid news.

ESPN’s Outside the Lines ran an interview Sunday with a former Rangers trainer who says during Spring Training 2003 he warned then Rangers GM John Hart that Roidriguez was showing signs of PED use.

Hart says he has no recollection of this conversation. Remarkable isn’t it!

So, let’s get this straight: team trainer tells GM that his star player – and one of the game’s brightest stars – is using PEDS…and the GM can’t remember such a conversation.

For me it’s beyond comprehension just how stupid some of baseball’s players and front office personnel believe the fans are.

There’s no better example of this than Roger Clemens continuous denial of using HGH and steroids.

Apparently we’re all jock-sniffing clowns with no grasp of the outside world.

Seriously, who do these guys think they’re fooling!!!

And what is it the guilty parties believe they gain from hiding the truth?

Plus, I have to believe the A-Rod news put a smile on Joe Torre’s face wider than the Brooklyn bridge.

New York ran Torre over the coals after his book release saying the former Yankee skipper broke the locker room code of keeping personal matters in house.

The thing is, Torre won’t lose any respect for telling the truth in his book, which, was only strengthened with the discovery of A-Roid.

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Big Red: Once A Cub Now A Rocky

By bullpenbrian - February 6, 2009 - 12:03 am Leave a comment.

The A’s recently traded former Cub Matt Murton to Colorado.

I think it’s a big-break for the big red-head.

With Matt Holiday sent packing to Oakland earlier this off season, the Rockies’ LF position is wide open for the 27-year-old Murton.

If given a chance to play everyday, I believe Murton can put up strong numbers, especially slugging in Denver’s thin air.

Plus, heading into his prime years Murton already brings to the table a respectable career average of .288 and a .354 OBP in just 900 at-bats.

I envision more power from Murton, more RBIs and perhaps a season so strong Cubs fans will want to know “why’d we get rid of this guy?”

  • Dusty Baker is a better manager than most Cubs fans give him credit for.

And despite his label as a veteran’s first guy, Baker has gone with youth in Cincinnati – that is, until he went good-buddy system with Jacque Jones and Daryle Ward.

Didn’t Dusty learn anything from bringing Corey Patterson to the Reds???

The man is passionate about baseball, and still is after 29-years of broadcasting nearly every single major sporting even.

When you get paid for fulfilling your passion, it’s not work.

The best part is MLB promising Costas that he’ll have free range in criticizing his new employer…but, we’ll see how long before Costas has the opportunity to do so.

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Soriano Says Move Me

By bullpenbrian - February 5, 2009 - 12:15 am Leave a comment.

The Cubs have Soriano right where they want him: healthy and willing to move down in the order.

I think the two dreadful Octobers in Chicago finally convinced Soriano that his ‘clean-up style’ approach would better serve the team batting, well, clean-up.

And look, I was never against Soriano batting leadoff, he’s most comfortable there, his get plenty of at-bats and you can’t argue with the numbers he puts up.

At the same time I understand why it makes more sense to move him down in the order: his legs are getting older, he strikes out too much and his power is better served with men on base.

With Washington it took some prodding to get Fonsi to move defensively from 2B to LF, but eventually he saw the light, pushed through the fielding errors and succeeded.

The same will hold true with a move out of the No. 1 hole, might be an early struggle, but eventually the talented Soriano will settle in at clean-up…right where the Cubs need him.

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Albert Almighty

By bullpenbrian - February 4, 2009 - 12:08 am 1 comment.

As long as Albert Pujols is in the lineup – healthy or not – the Cardinals have a chance to win the NL Central.

That said, it’s not been much of an off season for St. Louis, a team that finished 10 games above .500 last season, but also 11.5 games behind Chicago.

Then again, maybe the winter doesn’t need to be a huge splash for St. Louis to win the NL Central?

Despite an injury plagued 2008 and an overall young roster, the Cards battled for more runs scored than allowed, found a hidden gem in OF Ryan Ludwick (37 HR, 113 RBIs) and managed to stay in the post season race until late in the season.

Besides, outside the Cubs, no team in the division has made a dramatic move this winter to merit itself contenders against mighty Chicago, which, leaves the door open again for St. Louis in 2009.

To this point the Cards’ big addition was trading for Kahlil Greene, a needed defensive hand at SS and above average hitter. Other than that, all’s quite on the Mid-Western front.

Yet, as with so many other clubs, the main question mark in St. Louis is its pitching.

Mark Mulder appears all but done and who knows what might happen with Chris Carpenter: return as a starter, return as a closer or return retired???

While the starting rotation is sufficient with Lohse, Looper and Wellemeyer, the bullpen is largely a group of unknowns: Chirs Perez, Royce Ring, Kyle McClellan, Jason Motte, Charlie Manning, Matt Scherer and Ian Ostlund…who???

And not surprisingly, no team blew more save opportunities than the Cardinals last season, not a good sign in this day-and-age of baseball where a strong bullpen is essential to winning.

With Albert all things are possible, but more realistically, if the Cards are thinking about catching the Cubs they’d better find a way to turn a schoty bunch of unknown hurlers into a group of house hold names.

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