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Browsing posts from October, 2010

Should Cubs Bring Back Wood?

By bullpenbrian - October 29, 2010 - 12:01 am Leave a comment.

The Yankees have declined its $11M option on Kerry Wood, and the Cubs’ bullpen is thin and in need of quality arms.

For the right price, which is nowhere near $11M, I’d consider bringing Wood back. Put him in a set-up role and let the young guys do the heavy lifting.

Chicago fell out of the race early last year when Esmailin Caridad failed to get the ball to Marmol. Wood, who was an All Star during his last season with the Cubs, could be that stop gap.

Although Andrew Cashner finished strong down the stretch, it’s impossible to have a too many good arms in relief. Wood to Cashner to Marmol sounds good to me. How about you?

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DVR Reveals Lee’s Woes

By bullpenbrian - October 28, 2010 - 12:01 am Leave a comment.

My Wednesday night package for the Blackhawks had me scoreboard watching Game 1 from the 300-level seats at the United Center. Hawks vs. L.A. isn’t quite Lincecum vs. Lee, but that’s the beauty of a DVR.

Couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw SF leading 8-2 in the fifth. The Giants are far from an offensive juggernaut, and this was against Cliff Lee?

The DVR, however, revealed two things we haven’t seen from Lee this postseason. One, he regularly worked deep in the count. Two, he left the ball up in the zone.

The Giants’ patience paid off by forcing Lee to throw more than 100-pitches through 4.2 innings. This was key because not all their hits were hard, but had just enough wood to knock him out early.

The long layoff in between starts didn’t appear to be in Lee’s favor, either. Which was also the case with Roy Halladay after his no-hitter.

But I’d say the chances of Lee repeating his performance from Wednesday night are slim. He’ll be back to his regular routine, and he’s simply too good not to rebound.

Winning Game 1 is always a huge victory. (Game 1 winners have won the series 61-percent of the time). But it goes without saying what kind of confidence builder this is for San Fran–defeating a once unbeatable force in Lee.

The pressure, obviously, is squarely on Texas for Game 2. The offense was there having scored seven runs, but it’s all about the pitching. No question the biggest hurdle will be recovering from Lee’s hangover.

PS – Blackhawks won 3-1!

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Adding Wild Cards Solves Nothing

By bullpenbrian - October 27, 2010 - 1:00 pm 4 comments.

Expanding the playoffs is no way to solve MLB’s problems. Fixing a competitive imbalance league-wide is.

Baseball is best served shortening its regular season to 150 games, starting sooner, ending earlier and getting out of the NFL’s way.

If anything needs expanding it’s the opening divisional round. Either make it a seven-game series, or grant home field advantage to the higher seed throughout the entire first round.

Presently, there’s little advantage to gunning for the division title if a team is already in position to make the playoffs. Playing all five games at home would change that.

Adding two more wild cards only cheapens the regular season. The problem isn’t too few teams in postseason play, but that they’re not enough teams that can actually compete for October.

Creating a salary cap of some sort has a better chance of improving the game in all markets, where as adding more Wild Cards improves the chance of more big markets playing in the postseason.

That’s good for television, of course, but bad for fans–a formula baseball’s had down for a long time.

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Kerry Wood’s Clean Upper Lip

By bullpenbrian - October 26, 2010 - 12:01 am 6 comments.

SI.com

It hit me Friday when I saw Kerry Wood pitching for the Yankees just how close he had come to making the World Series again. But for the second time, Wood was on the wrong side of the upset.

It’s been seven long years since the 2003 NLCS. Wood was then, 26, and coming off his best season to date–(14-11), 3.20 ERA and 266 strikeouts.

Now he’s a well-worn 33-year-old, clean shaven and pitching in a set-up role.
But to make it this far, despite all the setbacks, is a credit to Wood’s character.

He’s handled the highs and lows like a pro, and by reinventing himself from dominate starter to a reliable setup man, he’s carved out a niche to stay in the game.

Wood’s calm demeanor and experience make him a perfect fit in New York. His long road back from arm recoveries has hardened him for the league’s toughest market.

What criticism hasn’t Wood heard about his game, his toughness, his durability that the New York media could say to rattle him? Nothing.

I know not all Cubs fans share my soft spot for Kerry, that the names Wood and Prior are haunting terms in Wrigleyville, names better left unsaid, names to be forgotten. But I still root for Wood, even despite his pindtripes and clean upper lip.

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Rangers Giants Picture Perfect

By bullpenbrian - October 25, 2010 - 12:01 am Leave a comment.

SI.com

Watching the Rangers win the ALCS was beautiful.
Literally, the weather, the crowd shots, the fireworks–picture perfect.

It’s been a while since a baseball game had me jumping off the couch in celebration. But Vlady’s two-out two-run double in the fifth had me leaping for joy, as did Nelson Cruz’s monstrous two-run homer that landed in the deepest part of the ballpark!

For me personally, it goes a step further. I say the Ranger’s monumental victory saves the 2010 season. Witnessing New York win another World Series with a $200-million payroll couldn’t be any more anti-climatic.

Meanwhile, whoever thought Philadelphia’s three-headed monster of Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt would fall short against San Fran?

Lots of attention is being given to the band of misfits headlined by Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, and Cody Ross. And without question, it’s well deserved. But Lincecum, Cain and Sanchez isn’t a bad threesome, either. Downing H2O in six games was no fluke.

This matchup makes for a terrific World Series. There are plenty of good storylines, good pitching and good defense, and I’m happy no matter who wins.

If I must choose a winner, however, I like Texas. Cliff Lee is likely to get two starts and the Rangers lineup is dominate compared to a Giants offense that’s scored four or more runs in just two of its 10 postseason games.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qk5wXdKVemM&fs=1&hl=en_US&color1=0x006699&color2=0x54abd6]

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Are Cubs Fans Backing Quade?

By bullpenbrian - October 22, 2010 - 10:55 pm 2 comments.
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Bye Bye Barry

By bullpenbrian - October 22, 2010 - 12:01 am 2 comments.

Ann Killion of Sports Illustrated wrote an interesting article about how the Giants have moved on from Barry Bonds, who tossed out the ceremonial first pitch of Game 3 of the NLCS.

Bonds was in attendace at AT&T Park as part of the honoring of the club’s 2002 World Series team, which lost the series in seven games to Anaheim.

Even today I remember that Giants team well. I loved guys like Reggie Sanders, Benito Santiago, Kenny Loften and Robb Nen. I oohed & ahed over the brand new ballpark, and more than anything, I remember the Giants adopted theme song.

A song for which, I must apologize in advance for sharing before what could’ve been a wonderful weekend for you. But the memories, I tell you, are all worth it!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=He82NBjJqf8&fs=1&hl=en_US&color1=0x006699&color2=0x54abd6]

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Losing Lilly A Mistake For Cubs

By bullpenbrian - October 21, 2010 - 12:01 am 2 comments.

My biggest concern with trading Ted Lilly was the thought Jim Hendry wouldn’t have the chance to resign him this offseason.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened as the Dodgers inked Lilly to a new 3-yr, $30M deal this week.

I never fully understood why Hendry dangled Lilly so freely this July instead of working out an extension. Lilly was, unquestionably, Chicago’s ace hurler for the past three years.

If you win with pitching, and Lilly’s your best arm, why take the risk of losing him? Just never made sense to me.

It also worries me for the Cubs that Lilly resigned with L.A. so quickly. If Teddy truly thought the Cubs had the chance to win, wouldn’t he at least give Hendry a chance to make an offer?

If the Cubs are back to believing Carlos Zambrano is a No.1, they’re in big trouble. Ryan Dempster is solid, but not a true ace, either.

Which means, it’s up to Carlos Silva, Tom Gorzelanny and Randy Wells to fill Lilly’s shoes. And that’s a tall order for a threesome who each posted an ERA above 4.00.

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Quade Spells End To Sandberg Era

By bullpenbrian - October 20, 2010 - 12:01 am 4 comments.

I gave Mike Quade a zero percent chance of managing the Cubs full time. But I’m ready to give the man his due. He made his own break, made the decision not to hire him a tough one and in the end won the job fair and square.

The speculation, however, that Quade’s hire was purely a financial decision is bogus. Jim Hendry’s job security is tied directly to his new manager.

If Quade fails, Hendry goes out the door with him, and probably much quicker than had he hired Ryno. That alone makes me believe even more in Hendry’s decision to pass on Sandberg.

Unfortunately, this decision officially slams the door on Ryno’s tour of duty with Chicago–possible for good. Despite doing all that was asked of him by Cubs management, doing it with success, and waiting his turn, Sandberg was shunned in the end.

He too deserves an opportunity to skipper in the bigs and I have little doubt Ryno earns one by winter’s end. In fact, I’d be greatly disappointed if he doesn’t.

Although Quade was never my choice–I would have gone with Sandberg–I couldn’t be happier for the man. I think his passion will carry over into 2011, which is super encouraging for Cubs fans.

On the other hand, Sandberg represented a clean break from the old regime. And while the Cubs owed him nothing, there’s a fair argument Ryno is a better fit than Quade for the position.

Lord help us if Quade turns into the next Bill Russell and Sandberg the next Mike Scioscia. Any Dodgers fans will tell you how that decision turned out!

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Cliff Lee Yankees’ Daddy

By bullpenbrian - October 19, 2010 - 12:01 am 4 comments.

I picked the winner of Game 3 to win the ALCS. Texas in the World Series…who would have thunk it?

The series, of course, is far from over, but the Rangers have been in control since the first inning of Game 1. And with Cliff Lee, Ron Washington’s bunch knows anything is possible– including toppling the mighty Yankees.

Lee just makes it look so easy out there. Poised, in control and hardly a sweat to wipe off his brow. The man’s not only dominated this postseason, but holds a career 7-0 record and 1.26 ERA in October. Unreal!

How many pitchers in baseball can do what Lee did Monday night at Yankee Stadium? Eight innings, two hits, 13 strikeouts…against NY…in October. I know this much–not many.

Lee’s been so ridiculous he’s become the first pitcher to achieve double digits in strikeouts three times in one postseason. Which means what?

It means we’re watching one of the best postseason pitchers ever. And for those who are wondering, that is possible for players not wearing a Yankees or Red Sox uniform.

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