Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Mark Prior To Start Today! Cubs Need Him After First Week Of Season.

Alright, we are a week into the 2005 Chicago Cubs season. The Cubs are 3-4 and not looking that impressive. We have Mark Prior, Joe Borowski, and now Todd Walker all on the DL.

Todd Walker went down after former White Sox player Carlos Lee, aggressively took him out to break up a double play. The sprained MCL has placed him on the 15-day DL. So it will be a while before we get him back. I guess now we can see if picking up Jerry Hairston Jr. was worth the move. It's to early to tell with only 8 AB without a hit so far this season for Jerry. Todd Walker was on a tear so far this season. Batting .435 in the six games he did play.

Zambrano looks like the only starting pitcher performing well at this time. Z man is 1-0 in two starts. He was pulled in his first start and didn't receive the win. He did pitch well though. His pitched 12 innings and has 14 strike outs. He has walked six and has a 2.25 ERA. Kerry Wood continues to struggle with the walks. He is averaging a walk per inning pitched. Wood continues to average more than 1 strike out per inning, but those walks continue to hurt him. Kerry Wood has a respectable ERA of 3.17 so far. Greg Maddux continues to struggle in the early part of the season. This has been the norm for Maddux over the past 3 or more years. I expect Maddux to improve his 7.20 ERA over the month or so. The really strang thing about Maddux in the first two games has been the Homerun ball. He has allowed 4 homeruns this year in two games. Ryan Dempster's first outing was a disaster, but his second was a gem. The first game he pitched 3.2 innings and allowed 7 Earned Runs (ER). The second game he pitched 6 innings and allowed no ER. Both outings he had 7 strike outs and 3 walks. The second game lowered his ERA from 17.18 to 6.52.

It looks like Mark Prior will make his 2005 debut starting for the Cubs today. I'm very curious as to how long he will be allowed to stay in the game. He had a start in the minors that was forgettable. What is amazing about great pitchers that make these rehab starts in the minors is they usually look bad in those starts and then come up to the majors and pitch incredibly well. Let's hope that this is the way it will be for Mark today.

I continue to be disappointed with the modern way of managing a bullpen and the insistence on using the "Closer" no matter how well the current pitcher is doing. Baker has made a couple switches like that this season that have been horrible. We have lost two games playing these games. Come on already, Bruce Sutter was a real relief pitcher. He didn't just come in with the team ahead by one or two runs and get the final three outs. He would come into the game in the last part of the seventh or the beginning of the eighth and shut teams down. No easy Saves for Bruce. The modern closer can not even hold a candle to Sutter. I still can't figure out why he isn't in the HOF!

Who's hot on the Cubs?
Todd Walker was before he went down. I like to look at slugging pct. to tell me who is hot. The average can tell you if a player is hitting the ball, but it doesn't tell you if the player is putting himself into scoring position. You can have a guy who has four singles out of 10 AB's, for a slugging and batting average of .400 or you could have a player who has four doubles out of 10 AB's for a .800 slugging pct. I would take the second player over the first because he is getting into scoring position on his own more often than the singles hitter. Burnitz has a .563 SLG Pct, Lee has a .519, Ramirez has a .517, and Walker has a .476. So Walker may have been batting .381, but doesn't put himself in scoring position very well. Who are the top three scorers on the Cubs: Burnitz, Ramirez, and Lee.

The Cubs really need to have Mark Prior come off the disable list today and pitch well. If Mark is able to do that, the Cubs will improve greatly in just his first outing. If Mark struggles, the Cubs could be in serious trouble.

I shouldn't be happy about this and it is early in the season and he is in a new league, but Sammy Sosa has a whopping .240 Slugging Pct. He has no RBI yet this season. And the other thing, Sosa is talking about retiring before he is 40. Saying he might not make it to 700 hr. Sounds like a defeated player, somehow he doesn't believe in himself any more.