Will they ever learn?

I guess I am not surprised the Cubs traded for Rich Harden. He can be as dominant as any pitcher today. He is also among the most fragile.

Given the Cubs very recent history with Mark Prior, though, I was surprised that they were willing to take this sort of risk. How many heartaches did that team suffer through with Prior, waiting for him to be healthy enough to recapture the brilliance he showed in 2003? Every year, every Spring, the mantra was “if healthy, the Cubs rotation…” but since 2003, there’s been nothing to show for it. Heck, there’s nothing to show for the Cubs for 100 years, so what’s a little bit of injury history, I guess.

Amazingly, Kerry Wood has been healthy this year, finally. Prior remains out all year.

I hope Harden remains healthy and as effective as he’s been thus far. He’s amazing to watch. But if Vegas posts odds, I’ll take the under.

UPDATE: I just found Jayson Stark’s article, toeing a similar line:

But the bigger news was over in a different column on Harden’s stat sheet — the all-important Games Started column.

That’s because he has made it through 11 starts in a row over the past two months without missing a single turn. And that, unfortunately, has been a phenomenon no one has seen much. Kind of like Comet Kohoutek.

It was the first time Harden had made that many starts in succession since 2005. And it’s that injury history that already is making those ever-edgy North Siders nervous, after way too many injury-rehab updates on their previous saviors, Mark
and Kerry Wood, the past few years.

In fact, one baseball man called Oakland’s decision to trade Harden now — while he’s pitching great and the A’s are still in a race — a “serious red flag.” Meanwhile, in a potentially related development, a scout we surveyed reported that Harden’s velocity hasn’t been quite the same in his most recent couple of starts, since his eight-inning, 11-strikeout two-hitter against the Phillies on June 26.

Consider yourselves warned, Cubbies fans.

But the Cubs understood that, too. Understood exactly what they were dealing for in Harden. He might miss a turn or two. Or 10. But at this point in the life of their quasi-tragic franchise, they weren’t interested in playing it safe. Not anymore.

Continue reading Will they ever learn?

OK, Sawx fans: Defend THIS

See, I can’t get more than 15 minutes past complimenting the Sox organization before I stumble upon this:

Police said Robert Correia of Falmouth and several others attacked a driver with a baseball bat Friday night after spotting New York license plates on the man’s vehicle and believing he was a Yankees fan.

The victim, whose name was not released yesterday, was stuck in traffic with children in his car as he left the Falmouth fireworks at 153 Worcester Court.

Correia and others approached the vehicle at about 10 p.m., police said. According to police, members of the group accused the driver of supporting the New York baseball team and proceeded to attack him and vandalize his car.

The victim was transported to Falmouth Hospital with injuries that were not considered life threatening, police said.

He sustained injuries to his head and his body, police said.

Nice work, Sox Nation. Beat a guy with his kids in the car. Good job. You should be proud.

SOSH, I know this is not representative of the ‘Nation, but boy oh boy, this doesn’t help the image, does it? And yes, I know there are equally lunkheaded Yanks fans, but this is today’s news. When our crap-for-brains guys do something similarly pathetic and dangerous, I’ll call them out in the same way! Continue reading OK, Sawx fans: Defend THIS

How to handle high-ceiling pitching prospects

Yesterday, I enjoyed a laugh at the expense of the zealous Sawx fans. Today, I give major props to the Sox front office for their smart handling of their high-ceiling pitching talent. Namely, Clay Buchholz. The same kid who tossed a no-hitter in his 2nd start ever, last season.

On May 15th this season, Buchholz was put on the DL for what was called a “cracked fingernail”. He was sent to AAA once his DL stint expired.

Now, Buchholz was only mediocre in his brief 2008 before the DL, going just 2-3 with a 5.53 ERA and 1.63 WHIP. He finished an abbreviated 2007 with a 3-1 record but a sparkling 1.54 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. Even more importantly, the Sox held this phenom OFF their post-season roster to manage his innings.

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Continue reading How to handle high-ceiling pitching prospects

All-Star game mess

I don’t care about the snubs or those selected who have no business being there. I don’t get overly upset or happy. The reason is pretty simple: the All-Star game selections are a joke. It’s not solely the managers’ faults; it’s the silly rules that continue to operate in obvious conflict that make it impossible to select a team of the best players.

I noted this not that long ago, saying, in essence:

If I were Commish for a day, I’d do the following about the All Star Game (note the OR between the 2nd and 3rd points):

  • Eliminate the World Series home field advantage gimmick. PERIOD. Let the overall records decide who EARNED the home field advantage.
  • Eliminate mandatory representation by every club. It was one thing when there just twenty-something teams, but with 32, too many inferior players are being named at the expense of more qualified players. OR:
  • Expand the roster sizes to accomodate the expansion in the number of teams. If you do this, you can keep mandatory representation. Open the rosters to 35 and eliminate the handwringing.

ESPN’s Keith Law has a great take on the game, the snub and the selection of SIX relief pitchers to the AL team. Thanks to ESPN for making it a free preview of what’s usually Insider-only content. What I really enjoyed seeing:

This reliever fetish is getting completely out of control.

The American League has six relievers among the 12 pitchers on its staff, which seems to imply that a top-quality reliever is as valuable as a top-quality starter, when nothing could be further from the truth. With relievers typically throwing 70-80 innings — often fewer for capital-C closers who are sequestered in a ninth-inning role and only called upon when Jerome Holtzman approves — it is almost impossible for a reliever to equal the value of a top-10, 200-inning starter.

(H/T to Shysterball)

Continue reading All-Star game mess

As if Ponson wasn't bad enough

I’ll continue to yell to anyone within earshot: Sidney Ponson has no business being on the Yanks, much less any major league team. But that’s not as bad as this: Yanks to check out Victor Zambrano.

Zambrano, who went 10-14 over three seasons with the Mets, pitched for Toronto and Baltimore last season, but hasn’t pitched in the majors this year. After being designated for assignment by Colorado at the end of spring training, Zambrano went 0-6 with a 9.45 ERA for the Rockies’ Triple-A club.

Please tell me this is a joke, but if it isn’t, we might as well wave the white flag and trade off any FA-to-be for any help we can get.

Continue reading As if Ponson wasn't bad enough

Much ado about nothing

It’s an exhibition, friends. Nothing more, nothing less.

Would it be nice if A-Rod wanted to compete in the HR Derby during the All-Star break? Yeah. But the fact that he doesn’t is totally fine with me. He wants to stay focused on the real task at hand: helping lift the team to the playoffs, which seems a real stretch at this point. He doesn’t want to mess with his swing.

I try to stay away from that,” Rodriguez said, according to the New York Daily News. “My responsibility is to the New York Yankees. I need my swing to be at its best.”

Remember who won the Derby last year (try it without cheating*)? Remember how badly the Derby affected Abreu and David Wright. Each suffered the 2nd half of the year after participating. Besides, if there’s a player on the Yanks with a HR Derby-tailored swing, it’s Giambi, not ARod. Let Giambi see if he can hack a few into the short porch. What, like he can screw up that swing? It’s ugly but it’s perfect for a HR Derby, since that’s how he swings normally!

ARod’s going to be the starting 3B in the actual game, a quasi-exhibition. We can celebrate him then, during the game. The Yanks need him at his sharpest if he is going to hoist them on his back and lead them back into the fray.

Besides, he can spend the night with Madonna. Ewwww. Man arms and old-lady claws. Canseco. Rodman. gaaak!

Continue reading Much ado about nothing

Kids say the darnedest things

A quick story from last night…

I’m watching the Rangers/Yanks game last night with my boys, ages 8 and 5. They pan in closely to the back of Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s jersey. I said “Look how his name wraps around the top of the jersey. He’s got the longest name in the game with 14 letters” just before Michael Kay does the same thing. Naturally, the boys looked at me like I am some wizard. (I love that!)

A minute or so goes by and my older son turns to me and says “what about Doug Mientkiewicz*? Or Mark Grudzielanek*?” Smart ass. I spelled ’em both wrong to him, naturally, though I was close. Who knew he even knew who these guys were? He’s eight! If he pulled out John Van Benschoten, I would have passed out.

*Yes, I had to check the spelling to make sure I had it right here.

Continue reading Kids say the darnedest things