Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Pitch

The world didn't end this past Saturday so the Cubs 2011 season continues. After closing a historic weekend in Bean-town the Cubs are back in Chicago, a little worse for the wear after dropping 2 of 3 and sustaining numerous injuries. Here's hoping that Marlon Byrd has a full recovery and comes back strong after taking a fastball to the face. This season has been up and down for the Cubs and now the injuries are piling up, which doesn't help the cause. Randy Wells still on the mend, Cashner a set-back last week, Garza scratched before his last outing, Soto and now Byrd hitting the DL, Jeff Baker out with a strained groin, the Cubs may be running out of healthy players. Like any helpful Cubs fan would, I'd like to suggest a roster solution.

One of many grips 
Adding a player who can pitch as well as play a position, you'd have a nice luxury with only one roster spot for dual positions. And so, I offer up my services to the Cubs. I've been polishing my wide array of junk ball pitches, which includes my new revolutionary slumball (a slider, predominantly using my thumb), and a split-spit-knuckle (split finger, knuckle hybrid with saliva). The latter pitch was taught to me by the grandson of a North Dakota farmer who's grandfather learned it from the great Satchel Paige when Paige played for Bismark in the spring of 1935. Learning the split-spit-knuckle included a special technique to apply saliva without detection. Now before you say my plan is impossible, remember that the Cubs just lost to Boston's 44 year old knuckleballer Tim Wakefield on Sunday. And he only throws the knuckleball.

Besides pitching, I can play the outfield when I'm not on the mound. Since my 2 for 2 hitting performance in the Fergie and Friends baseball game two springs ago, I've been running, lifting, and spending time at the batting cage...just waiting for the call. The fact that I haven't played in a year and a half is a good thing, keeping me fresh and ready. As a bonus, I can be mic'd and do the public address announcing while playing in the actual game. After I let loose of a slumball, at the perfect moment, I yell - "SWING!......on over to Harry Caray's Tavern for an ice cold Budweiser". This is a win-win-win as my new triple role saves the Cubs money. Money they can put into other areas, such as a new player development camp in Tahiti. At no extra cost, I'd be happy to transition into a part-time coaching role after the season at the newly established camp.

So there you have it, just another Cubs fan trying to figure a way to help out the ol' ballclub.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hurling Really is a Sport

The Cubs have sunk to a win-loss record of 17-22 with yesterday's 7-4 loss to the Reds. Last night's game was so bad it prompted a closed door team meeting and this blog from the talented Tim Souers over at Cubby-Blue.com . Tim's artwork (today's example to left) is humorous and really adds to his Cub blogs, in this case I think it sum's up the current feeling of many Cubs fans.

I was planning on heading over to Fitch Park today and watch Andrew Cashner throw a couple innings of extended spring training but Cash was scratched after experiencing tightness in his shoulder yesterday. Cashner is instead getting an MRI, and so it goes.

In the continuing bad news department, Tyler Colvin was optioned down to AAA after batting .113 on the year, that hurts just to write it. On the bright side we have rookie Darwin Barney currently batting a .345, who would have guessed. Back during pre-spring training workouts (known as Camp Colvin) I blogged about hearing one of the players yell out "Camp Barney".  I guess the title of this camp needs to be changed every spring with the emergence of the most productive attending player. While Camp Colvin gives us nice alliteration, Camp Barney fuels some very evocative images. I'm already thinking ahead to next winter and liking the sound of - Camp McNutt.

Randy Wells is progressing from his extended spring game last week here in Mesa (photos in previous blog) to pitching today for the Cubs Single A Peoria club, if all goes well his next effort will be with the AAA Iowa Cubs and then back with the big league Cubs.

We'll see if the Cubs team meeting produces immediate results as Matt Garza takes to the mound tonight.            

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wells/Cashner Pitch at Fitch

In the last three days the Cubs sandwiched two 11-4 victories around a 9-1 loss, and so goes it for the up and down Cubs in 2011. Love to see the Cubs starting to score some runs and the big three starting pitchers Dempster, Z, and Garza seem to be settling down and getting quality starts. However in the 9-1 loss Casey Coleman started and allowed 6 runs on 9 hits with 4 walks, which underscores the inconsistency of the Cubs number 4 and 5 starting pitchers since Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner went to the DL.

The following part of this blog was ready to post yesterday but unfortunately “Blogger” the site that hosts my BOS blog - wasn’t. Not only was the site down but my post from the day prior had also disappeared…ah the joys of technology. At any rate Blogger is now back on line after a 20 hour technical “read only” glitch, and finally my previous post has returned.

So here is yesterday’s news – today. I was at Fitch Park yesterday for extended spring training and was able to watch both Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner throw. Even though it’s yesterday’s news I shot these photos of Wells and Cashner and they are BOS world wide exclusives. I know seeing photos of Cubs pitchers throwing during rehab stints is hardly riveting stuff but it brings back memories (not good ones) of the days I used to stop at Fitch and take photos of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior rehabbing in extended spring. Now if I could have got Wells and Cash to use the Mark Prior “tossing towel”, it would really be déjà vu all over again.

Randy is now working into game conditions and tossed two innings in an extended spring game and Cash pitched some controlled BP. Wells is slightly ahead of Cash in his rehab and in talking with Randy he is really itching to return to action, and it looks like he will get a minor league start on Tuesday. Arizona Phil who delivers in depth coverage of extended spring training and the Arizona Rookie League for The Cub Reporter gives a full rundown on both Wells and Cashner’s outings yesterday.

I noticed watching Cashner’s BP session that only one or two of his pitches were decently hit (could have been a base hit in game). It’s one step at a time with the rehab progress and both Cubs pitchers are moving forward. Perhaps the hardest part of the process for these two is the slow pace…they are both young competitors who want to be back pitching in the bigs yesterday. There is no guarantee that the eventual return of Wells and Cashner into the starting rotation will solve the inconsistency issues of the Cubs 4 and 5 rotation spots, but it can’t be any worse than what the team’s been getting without them.

Hey Man, Can I Get a Hug?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The last time I wrote here three weeks ago the Cubs were in first place (tied) with a .500 record, right now they are, well, less than that. Of course the Cubs can cut into the Cardinals 5 game lead with a couple victories in the remaining two games of the current series, but that would likely mean coming up with a clutch hit here and there. This season the Cubs seem to be able to get hits with RISP about as often as Carlos Silva hits the weight room after eating a salad for dinner.

The Cubs are 15-19, it's not even mid-May and perhaps it's because the Cardinals are in town but the talk around the Cubs blogosphere seems to be about next year and the Cubs potentially acquiring free agent Albert Pujols. As if this chatter needed any fuel to the fire, Cubs GM Jim Hendry and Pujols hugged during BP yesterday. The Hendry/Pujols hug brings to mind the words of blues legend John Lee Hooker: "Like you and your woman ain't gettin' along and you're in love. You can't sleep at nights. Your mind is on her - on whatever. You know, that's the blues. You can't hug that money at night. You can't kiss it."

The Hug
Of course it would take a lot of jack and probably more hugs to bring Pujols to the Northside next year but with attendance lower at Wrigley this season, acquiring Pujols could be a wise business decision. As former Cub and current Cardinal Ryan Theriot said, "it's a business. Things happen. You see guys go and play for rival teams". Theriot going from the Cubs to the Cardinals is kinda, well...meh, but Pujols going to the Cubs...that would be a seismic event. I'm not giving up on this season and I'm certainly not going to pine over Pujols but it's clear that the Cubs need improvement in several areas. Can the current roster make the needed improvements over the course of this season to contend? Maybe, because the division overall seems down but it's going to be an uphill battle. On the bright side, the Cubs current first baseman has his average up to .213 and the White Sox are 10.5 games out.

Part of the reason it had been a while since I last blogged is that I've been working hard on a project, it's pretty exciting and I'll tell you about it next week. Tomorrow Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner will get some work over at Fitch Park, I'll be there and let you know how it goes. Just a reminder to check out our Boys of Spring - Wrigleyville West facebook page, be sure to go there and chat with me and other Cubs fans and give it a "like". Check back here tomorrow afternoon for the Wells/Cashner report.