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Will someone please explain to me why the Cubs even bothered to acquire Jerry Hairston?

Because our manager doesn't seem to feel that we need to use him when the guy he's supposed to back up is out for four to six weeks with a bad meniscus sprain. I suppose it could have been worse -- Todd Walker's lucky it wasn't a tear, which could have ended his season.

It's very bad luck for Walker -- and the consensus in the bleachers today was that it was just a bad break, that Carlos Lee wasn't being malicious, it was a clean attempt to break up a double play -- but hey, we're supposed to have a competent backup in Hairston.

There was absolutely no reason to start Neifi Perez today. Platoon differential? Does this mean Perez starts against all right-handed pitching? This makes even less sense. Allegedly it's because Perez was 6-for-21 lifetime against today's SD starter Adam Eaton, while Hairston had never faced him, but so what?

Neifi did have one of the Cubs' six hits today in a frustrating 1-0 loss to the Padres, made even worse by the fact that yesterday's hero, Jeromy Burnitz, pretty much took care of this one by himself, dropping a fly ball after turning the wrong way on it twice, leading to the only run of the game, an unearned run off Ryan Dempster, and then he struck out three times, including with the tying run in scoring position in the bottom of the 8th.

Today, I shared the bleacher bench with David (known as Dr. Crawdad in the Cubs newsgroup), and his 84-year-old friend Willard, who was spending his very first day in the Wrigley Field bleachers. Nice guy, bounded up and down the ramp like us youngsters, and seemed to really enjoy himself, all except for the result.

Back to Perez and the handling of the bench and the roster for a moment. Let's examine what happened today. With Perez starting, Hairston is on the bench. But did he pinch-hit? No, that went to Jose Macias. Why? Because he's a switch-hitter, I suppose. That's a good reason, Dusty. Macias had a rotten at-bat, flying meekly to right on the first pitch he saw.

Meanwhile, Hairston was on the bench, as was Jason Dubois. And why the Cubs felt that Mike Fontenot, acquired in the Sammy Sosa deal, was the best callup, is also inexplicable. Is this simply a way to justify the trade? Because if Perez is starting, the Cubs still have Hairston and Macias, who can play infield positions. There's no need for another middle infielder -- if you want a bat, perhaps Ben Grieve could have been called up.

Maybe this is temporary -- maybe Jim Hendry is scouring the waiver wire for some help.

And if you see pigs flying by your window, let me know.

Pardon my cynicism, because there were some good things that came out of today's game.

  • Ryan Dempster redeemed his horrid outing of last week by throwing six solid innings, 62 strikes out of 105 pitches, and striking out seven.
  • The bullpen was outstanding today -- giving up absolutely nothing over three innings, and keeping the ballclub in the game. Even Chad Fox got through without walking anyone today, and Mike Wuertz had another excellent outing (CLOSER!! CLOSER!! CLOSER!!).
  • Dempster also laid down a sweet-looking bunt for the Cubs' first hit. But other than that, four Padres pitchers gave up only five other singles and a walk, and constantly had the Cubs hacking. Sure, Dusty likes those hacks, but today, it didn't work at all.
The Cubs' last 1-0 loss was last July 5, a similarly frustrating game at Milwaukee.

Good news: Mark Prior will be activated from the DL and start tomorrow. It's not yet known who will be sent down, but my guess would be Todd Wellemeyer.

And here's what Chuck from Ivy Chat e-mailed me today on our bet about when Prior would pitch:

Here were the terms I posted:

"If Mr. Prior takes the mound at Wrigley on April 12th, the cost for lubricants is mine. And any single kin of yours."

In your scenario, you win.

The flip: Prior is activated, but the game is rained out, I win.

Unfortunately, there's a 70% chance of rain tomorrow.

Root for me. I hope he takes the mound. You know the Cubs play through monsoons trying not to postpone games, especially with the crowds being the way they are (a crowd of approximately 37,000, at the per-ticket average of over $30, gives you a gross revenue of about $1.11 million).

Bring rain gear, and let's score some runs.