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   1. LSR Posted: August 15, 2006 at 11:38 AM (#2141405)
I don’t understand why Juan Mateo was called on ahead of Ryu but, at this point, Ryu should definitely be in the mix for 2007.

IIRC, at the time of the Maddux trade, Ryu had just started a game a day or two earlier - since he wasn't available to start in Maddux's spot, they brought up Mateo. I don't know for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if the same dynamic was at work when they brought up Guzman to take Mateo's spot (because he had to relieve Prior) - Ryu probably had just pitched and couldn't take the start ...
   2. Andere Richtingen Posted: August 15, 2006 at 02:05 PM (#2141441)
Apparently Walker's defense was a consistent bone of contention for the pitching staff. While no analysis I've seen has shown Walker to be anything better than mediocre defensively, I think this criticism was pretty misguided. If anything, Cubs starters should be complaining about a lack of run support, and Walker was not one of the contributors to that problem. Cedeno and Izturis, on the other hand...
   3. Clute Posted: August 15, 2006 at 02:24 PM (#2141458)
Another gem of a deal, trading Walker by our clueless GM. If the Cubs didn't play merry-go-round at second base this year and left Walker as the everyday starter batting out of the two hole we would have had a better lineup and Walker's trade value at the trading deadline would've been much higher, therefore returning more than we got when we traded him to San Diego. A Phil Nevin, Sean Casey or Craig Wilson should've and could've been picked up when D. Lee first went down and Walker could've stayed at 2nd. and batted 2nd. in the lineup all year. The Cubs were 4 games above .500 when Lee went down and Hendry did nothing. Send this bum to wherever the sent the other lame, Ed Lynch when they ate the remainder of his contract to bring in Andy McPhail.
   4. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: August 15, 2006 at 02:39 PM (#2141466)
Ryu got absolutely bombed in his one start for the Cubs. He looked completely clueless and overmatched, forcing Dusty to go to the pen in the 2nd inning. I think that was all the evidence the Cubs needed to determine that Ryu is not ready.
   5. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: August 15, 2006 at 02:51 PM (#2141470)
I liked Luke's essay, but other than observing that I believe that Williams will be out of options next season, I really don't have any thoughts to add. Instead, let me go to the Muskat Q&A (linked above):

I am really disappointed by the Maddux trade. Can you help me make sense of it?
-- Robert R., Orange County, Calif.

Maddux is a Hall of Famer. But today's Maddux -- while a great asset in the clubhouse and a wonderful example for young pitchers -- is a six-inning pitcher whose results have been mixed and whose future is limited.

. . .

I'll set aside my thoughts on why the Cubs aren't improved because of the deal (I've said that in other threads), but here are my questions:

When has Muskat or anyone affiliated with the Cubs ever complained before that someone was "a six-inning pitcher"?

Is it really beneficial to deal a guy who can pitch six innings in favor of promoting still more kids from the minors who have trouble escaping the 4th?

Since the deal, we've seen Hill pitch 8 IP, 7 IP, and 4.7 IP in his three starts, but . . .

Marmol pitch 5 IP, 5.3 IP, and 5 IP in his three starts;
Mateo pitch 5 IP in his only start;
Guzman pitch 2.7 IP in his only start; and
Marshall not pitch at all -- he was already hurt at the time of the deal.

I'm all for giving kids a chance, but at a certain point the team needs to be concerned about not bringing up kids who clearly are not yet ready, and instead finding guys who can actually stay in ballgames and take innings away from an already overtaxed bullpen. Even if Maddux is only a "six inning pitcher," it's still useful.

As for Walker, Muskat writes:
What's the reason behind trading Todd Walker?
-- Joe G., Chicago

The Cubs had been trying to trade Walker since the end of the 2005 season. They knew they weren't going to re-sign him for 2007. . . .

I realize this has already long since been decided, but why?

I can understand the Cubs making this move if they knew their 2007 player would be better than what they can get from Walker -- for instance, if they had a deal in place for Tejada or if Chase Utley hit the FA market, but because neither of these are true, why was it necessary to commit to a "no-Walker" situation now?

Put another way, suppose they held onto Walker through the end of the season and made the decision on which way to go at that point (rather than in July). If at that point they decided they needed another no-hit glove, do they really think they couldn't have gotten Izturis in the offseason?

I'm all for planning for next season, but if the plan is to make a commitment in July 2006 that locks the team into Izturis/Cedeno/Perez for 2007 (and likely beyond), isn't this something they could've taken a bit more time to think over?

Another thing:
I think the Cubs either need to do away with last names on jerseys completely or bring back the last names for home jerseys. It's weird having last names for road games and nothing for home games.
-- Andy M., Warsaw, Ind.

They will change next year, and return to putting names on the back of home jerseys.

Frankly, I would wish they went the opposite direction -- removing the names from both home and road -- but that's just my opinion.
   6. Kiko Sakata Posted: August 15, 2006 at 03:24 PM (#2141500)
But today's Maddux a six-inning pitcher

I agree with all of dJf's comments above. I was curious, so I looked it up. Maddux, as a Cub, averaged 6.2 innings per start. This places him second on the team in innings per game started, and even with last night's 8 innings, Zambrano's only at 6.6 innings per start. Being a "six-inning pitcher" is a compliment in today's game, especially if you're talking about the Cubs.

The interesting thing, though, is ESPN shows pitches per start and there Maddux is 8th on the Cubs, behind Marshall, Marmol, Prior, Hill, Mateo, and Guzman (in addition to Big Z, of course). It's a shame that efficient pitching apparently isn't a skill that Maddux was able to teach to some of these young guys.
   7. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: August 15, 2006 at 03:46 PM (#2141523)
Marmol, Ryu, Hill, Guzman and Mateo are all at a point in their career where a major league audition makes sense. They were all born between 1980 and 1982, so they're getting old for prospects. They've all had success in AA or higher. in my opinion, Ryu, Hill, Guzman and Mateo should be given clear shots at the ML rotation this season, since as we've learned earlier this season, it's hard to sort out mid rotation starting prospects while trying to be competitive. Unless the Cubs do something drastic in the off-season, at least one or two of these guys will be in the rotation next season, so the Cubs are doing the right thing in trying to figure out who will give them the best chance to win long term. As painful as it may be right now, two or three decent $330K starting pitchers are a huge asset and one worth cultivating.

As frustrating as it is tuning out a Cubs' game after they fall behind 6 runs in the 4th, I'm not sure what the harm is in having the bullpen toss a few extra innings due to short starts. The Cubs have a 7 man staff of relievers all capable of going at least an inning. While I'd be more comfortable if Rusch were around to soak up some of those innings without harming an actual asset, the Cubs' lack of a long reliever is more of a problem of roster construction. Even if there's an issue with taxing the bullpen, it will cease to be a problem when rosters expand in two weeks.

I'm biased though. I never particularly liked Maddux. After the Cubs fell out of the race, I viewed Maddux' starts as a waste of an opportunity to start one of our younger pitchers.
   8. Sweet Posted: August 15, 2006 at 04:17 PM (#2141562)
I never particularly liked Maddux.

Wow. Never? Really? I think you're the first Cubs fan I've ever heard say that. (I think your point about giving his starts to prospects is understandable, though I don't share it.)

There's one more name to throw into the mix: Wade Miller. He's now made 6 rehab starts -- 5 at Peoria, 1 at West Tenn -- with pretty decent results for a guy coming off major shoulder sugery:

24 IP, 20 H, 6 R, 6 BB, 19 K, 2.25 ERA

Now, he's only lasted 4 innings per start, and it is the mid-minors, and he's a free agent at the end of the season, so it's no sure thing that he should or will be in the mix for a starting job next season, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was.

Finally, Izturis as a Cub:

48 PAs, .233/.313/.279

Next year's offense could be *really* ugly.
   9. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: August 15, 2006 at 04:26 PM (#2141567)
I'll admit that I'm biased and always liked Maddux. That said, while I agree that it'd be nice to see all these kids, I'm just a bit concerned about just throwing all of them (except Ryu) in the rotation for the next two months.

Hill clearly deserves an extended chance. As for the others, Guzman has not impressed in Iowa, Marmol is clearly not ready for MLB just yet (his inability to find a consistent arm slot proves that), and I don't believe the Cubs ever intended to bring Mateo up so soon. I should also add that most of these guys have already exceeded the highest workloads they've ever pitched or will do so in the near future.

I guess my point is that while I think it's fine to give a couple of kids a chance, injuries and trades have forced the Cubs to not just give kids a well-deserved chance, but it has forced them to rush up other kids that are not ready . . . and this was true *before* they dealt Maddux. With the Maddux deal, they stretched themselves even thinner.

There are a few other costs to this as well. One is financial -- keeping up service time and advancing their arbitration eligibility. Another, however, is the taxing of the bullpen. Yes, "[t]he Cubs have a 7 man staff of relievers all capable of going at least an inning," but the fact is that the bullpen is being asked to go 4-5 innings at a time in at least 3 out of every 5 days. That doesn't just wear out the bullpen; it causes Dusty to make decisions like we saw last night -- allowing Zambrano to throw 120 pitches.

I'm just wondering if having Maddux around wouldn't take off some of this pressure.
   10. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: August 15, 2006 at 04:33 PM (#2141578)
Yeah, I was forgetting (or at least discounting) Wade Miller. Having him available may help alleviate this as well.
   11. KB JBAR (trhn) Posted: August 15, 2006 at 07:40 PM (#2141849)
Guzman has not impressed in Iowa

Ryu: 3.54 ERA (10th in the PCL), 112 IP, 93 Ks, 40 BBs and 10 HR.
Guzman: 4.04 ERA (14th in PCL if he qualified), 75 IP, 77 Ks, 24 BBs and 5 HRs.

Both Ryu and Guzman look ready to contribute in the big leagues to me. Not everyone should have to pitch like Rich Hill in AAA to get a shot at a big league roatation.

Mateo was seen as ready for a ML bullpen job by the Cardinals when he was drafted in the Rule Five draft. Considering how well he's pitched in AA, I think he's shown that he's capable of pitching at the ML level.

I agree that Marmol doesn't look ready. I'm glad the Cubs gave him a shot, but he belongs in AAA or the bullpen.

Ultimately my point is, what does it matter if they are stretched thin? It seems to me that Zambrano's gonna throw 120 pitches regardless of what the other starters do. And 24 innings a week for a seven man pen (6 five inning starts a week) means an average of 3.4 IP per week per reliever. If the Cubs need to, they could minor league shuttle another reliever or send down Theriot and call up a 13th pitcher.

But really the situation's not all that dire. Here are the innings pitched totals for all of the Cubs' relievers so far in August:

Aardsma: 7.2
Novoa: 7.1
Howry: 6.1
Howry: 6.1
Wuertz: 5.2
Ohman: 4.2
Eyre: 3.1

Only Novoa and Aardsma are on pace for their highest IP/month total of the season. And even they are only on pace for a reasonable 14.2 innings. Even if that's too many innings, I'm not going to shed any tears if Aardsma or Novoa blows out his arm so that I can learn that Angel Guzman can't hack it in the major leagues. Dusty's actually backed off on the throttle on Howry and Eyre.
   12. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: August 15, 2006 at 08:19 PM (#2141897)
Interesting post. I don't exactly agree with many of these points, but frankly, they dovetail a great deal with another essay I've been meaning to write in the next day or so -- I'll take it there.
   13. Jerry Mumphrey Posted: August 15, 2006 at 08:20 PM (#2141900)
“As good of a hitter as Walker is, the Cubs wanted to improve defensively up the middle. With Izturis and Ronny Cedeno at short and second now, the Cubs feel they’re much stronger.”

Yes, Muskat. And just wait until we get Tony Womack and Freddy Bynum back from injury. That will really make the Cubs feel strong. Can you not wait for spring training next year? Dusty will get to choose from Ronny, Neifi, Theriot, Fontenot, Bynum, and Womack all at second base. THAT'S SIX SECOND BASEMEN! And Hendry already traded away two others during the season! We really did have enough ML-ready 2b on the squad to fill out an entire lineup at one point in the season! (plus pitcher) Do you prefer the four-man or five-man rotation? Because we've got a SIX-man rotation...just for second base! And the irony of it all is that is doesn't really matter because they're all virtually the same player (with the exception of the Caucasians who don't play because they'll suffer in the heat and clog the bases) so Dusty will just hand the reigns over to Neifi at the end of spring training! What happened to that group of protesters picketing outside Wrigley? The Cubs need more of that and it needs to be directed squarely at long-time Twins fan and Cub president Andy McPhail.
   14. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: August 17, 2006 at 07:49 PM (#2144935)
Interesting post. I don't exactly agree with many of these points, but frankly, they dovetail a great deal with another essay I've been meaning to write in the next day or so -- I'll take it there.

My comments were partially contained in the recent Murton/1911 thread, but let me fill in the rest here:

1. I'm not disagreeing that Guzman or Ryu aren't capable of pitching in MLB. Ryan O'Malley demonstrated on Wednesday that "capability of pitching in MLB" isn't all that great a threshold. Still, as I wrote in the Something to Smile About thread, simply because someone is capable of pitching in MLB doesn't mean they *should* be. There would be no injustice in keeping Guzman in Iowa.

2. As for Mateo, being picked in the Rule 5 draft doesn't mean one is even ready to pitch in MLB. Players are quite often taken in Rule 5 by teams who have very little intention of using them and it's not infrequent that Rule 5 draftees mysteriously find their way to the DL. The reason: Teams believe these players need a bit more development before truly belonging in MLB, but take them in Rule 5 because like their tools and feel that they can project well into MLB players.

3. I'm sure Aardsma and Novoa would appreciate your willingness to chuck them aside if necessary. If that does happen, who do you intend to bring in to replace them?

4. As I observed in the Murton/1911 thread, this season is historic in that the Cubs aren't just giving time to the kids, but that they have debuted no fewer than seven rookie starters this year (and counting) -- all of whom have needed some additional instructions from time to time.

Larry Rothschild has only so much time available to teach these kids, and considering the fine work he's done with Kerry Wood and Mark Prior over the last few years, I'm not convinced he's all that great as a pitching coach anyway.

5. More importantly, there is the concern about just how many innings these kids should get:

* Angel Guzman has once thrown more innings than he has this season . . . and that season (2002) led to all sorts of injury problems than has plagued his career ever since.

* Sean Marshall has thrown more innings this season than in any other season he's had as a professional.

* After his next 2-3 starts, Rich Hill will have done the same.

* Ditto Juan Mateo

* Ditto Carlos Marmol

I have no problem with pushing a kid's IP threshold -- it has to happen eventually. (The Rays are doing a nice job of this with Scott Kazmir, btw.) Still, it's one thing to push a 26 year old like Rich Hill; it's another thing to do it with four other youngsters as well, all at the same time. Perhaps keeping Maddux would've prevented this to some extent.

I guess all I'm really saying is that I'm all for playing the kids, but the trade of Maddux has tied the Cubs hands somewhat, forcing the team to rely on kids that I don't believe even the team thinks truly belong in MLB, and stretching both them and the bullpen quite thin. Having Maddux would at least give the Cubs a bit of flexibility that they now don't have.
   15. Clute Posted: August 18, 2006 at 02:42 PM (#2145470)
Dusty and Rothschild, if anyone has been paying attention these last 4 years, are like oil and vinegar. It's not a duo like LaRusso and Duncan. Those two have a long history of respect and success together.

I doubt if Dusty ever paid the time of day to Rothschild. When you look back over their term together you never see to two sitting next to one other and discussing anything. Dusty had a horrible track record of mismanaging his pitching staff where Rothschild had an excellent record in Florida. Dusty was the one that pushed his starters not Rothschild. Just look at another fine pitching coach, Leo Mazzone, and see how well he's doing with that Orioles pitching staff. Not to impressive is it. I don't think Mazzone has forgotten how to be a good pitching coach in one year, do you? He just don't have the same level of talent.

There was a study revealing when a pitching increases the amount of innings pitched from year to year how it more often than not leads to arm problems. Why do you think most successful organizations bring the rookie studs up and have them pitching in long relief at first.

Of course using successful and organization in the same sentence with the Cubs is like saying Kerry Wood never has arm problems.

Trying to make sense of how the addition of certain players could ever fix the mess on the northside is futile. The focus should be on obtaining a GM with a proven track record of developing an organization, ala Dombrowski. Of course with the Tribune Co. as owners, that is only the remotest of possiblities. They have shown a didain for ever eating a contract and never willing to spend top dollar for a free agent.

Cub fans have had tickets prices go up over 80% in the last 3 years with a payroll that's some 15% less in the same time frame. That's not to mention all the other revenue producing improvements done to Wrigley. Profits not quality personnel is what the Tribune Co. is all about. If only the Cubs were owned by a person that cared about baseball, they would hire the type of GM that wouldn't have to spend like a drunken sailor to put a consistent winner on the field, ala Billy Beane, and still turn an admitable profit for himself in the process.

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