... about this game that you don't already know, or that doesn't sound depressingly familiar:
- Glendon Rusch sucks.
- Matt Murton's in a horrendous slump.
- The Cubs can't hit with RISP.
Hey, this is exciting: Henry Blanco had a good offensive day, raising his average to .173, hitting a home run and taking the lead in the torrid race between he and Juan Pierre for who has the most major suckage in RBI's. 8 for Henry now, 7 for Pierre.
Of course, Pierre has 276 AB, Blanco 52.
I can say ONE good thing about today: the bullpen did a good job, throwing 7.1 innings, four hits, one run, nine strikeouts, and Angel Guzman was particularly impressive. If Kerry Wood or Mark Prior don't take over Rusch's rotation slot, maybe Guzman could.
A few days ago, the Diamondbacks DFA'd Russ Ortiz (and I still think the Cubs not only should but will pick him up, for the price of a Triple-A contract, and Dave agrees with me), eating $22 million in salary.
The Cubs ought to do the same with Rusch. Seriously. What's the big deal here? $5 million or so in salary? There have to be ten pitchers in the Cub farm system who could put up a 7.80 ERA or less, and not look so horrendous doing it.
My sources say that things are getting to the point in the Cub front office that players WILL be moved, now that it's getting to late June and the races are sorting themselves out, and Dave and I discussed this at length.
Juan Pierre will likely be first out the door -- that is, if the Cubs can even get anything for him, given his poor performance so far. More likely, they'll wait till he has a couple of good weeks -- if that is even possible -- to maximize his value. There may be some team that will suffer an injury to an outfielder between now and July 31 that might be able to use him.
Todd Walker is also likely to be dealt. That's too bad, in a way -- I like Walker, but his future value to the Cubs is minimal. He could bring real value from a contending team.
And so could Wood. Sad as it is to say, it appears that there's absolutely no chance that he will stay with the Cubs past this year. We simply can't romanticize what could have been any more.
Wood is eligible to come off the DL next Thursday, which is an off day, and he very well might be ready for that. That'd be a good day to DFA Rusch. If Wood throws well enough for a couple of starts, do NOT be surprised if he is traded. There are rumors to that effect on our favorite site.
If the Cubs could get John Danks or Thomas Diamond in a Wood deal, that'd be a deal well made. The above linked post also mentions using Wood in the bullpen, something I've long been in favor of. Maybe they'll try this, if they can get it through Wood's hard head that he can actually make a lot of money as a successful closer.
Meanwhile, today was Wood's 29th birthday. He "celebrated" it by throwing in the bullpen before the game. Check out in particular the middle one of these photos:
photos by Al - not bad with a camera phone!
What pearls of wisdom do you think Larry Rothschild was imparting to Kerry there?
Mark Prior and Wade Miller also threw in the bullpen before the game. Prior did the towel drill first, then threw with an actual baseball.
I swear, the Cubs should petition to be in the Towel League. Prior would win the Cy Young in that league every year.
5th-round draft pick Jeff Samardzija (and I can't wait to see how Phil butchers the pronunciation of THAT name, considering he has trouble with "Bynum") also threw, though before the gates opened. He is expected to sign this weekend, report to camp in Mesa Monday, and be pitching for Boise in a week or so.
Prior might be ready to go on Sunday; an announcement was expected this evening.
That article also says that Michael Barrett's back stiffened up on him and that's why he didn't play today, and it goes on to say that he's out "indefinitely".
Then why not drop the appeal and start serving the suspension tomorrow? I heard that the appeal hearing lasted about 90 minutes, but no announcement was expected to be made today. Scott Nelson of the Cub front office and Bob Watson were spotted in the bleachers by Phil a little bit after the game started. I was trying to ignore Phil today, because he kept telling me how wonderful Ricky Nolasco has been throwing for the Marlins.
That's true -- and Nolasco might well become a great pitcher. But it's too early to tell that. Everyone here was all up in arms when John Koronka had a good first month, but he's come crashing down of late; the 5.11 ERA he now sports is closer to his real level.
In any case, maybe Jim Hendry can make up for the loss of Nolasco by swapping Juan Pierre somewhere for some pitching prospects.
It was hot today -- 84 degrees reported at game time, though when I got back in the car with Mark (who got NO baseballs thrown to him today) my car thermometer said 93 -- and the park was filled with Tigers fans, who got several "Let's Go Tigers" chants going at various times. That'd be nice, wouldn't it? To have your team have the best record in baseball, and go on a 5-hour-drive roadtrip to see them?
We've been there before. Perhaps someday we will be there again.
There was a guy sitting in the front row in front of us who, about 1/2 hour before game time, tried to get everyone's attention while he proposed to his girlfriend.
She took the ring, but I dunno. She didn't look all that happy about it.
There was more talk about Dusty Baker's future, and whether you agree with this or not, it still seems likely that he WILL get his extension, probably after the Cubs make a run somewhere close to .500. Maybe I should say IF they do. But the consensus among us is, that a condition of any extension should and will be a total revamp of the coaching staff, getting rid of Baker's "old boy network" and getting some real coaches who can lead.
In fact, they could start that today as far as I'm concerned.