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   1. Neil M Posted: April 09, 2007 at 01:48 AM (#2329508)
Piniella: I think his strange visit was to stall for time for Guzman - the plan being to bring him to get Hardy in after Eyre disposed of Counsell. After the triple I guess he decided not to use Guzman for the third time in four games.

Agreed with your broad picture. I'm not amused that the Theriot experiment seems to be to the particular detriment of Murton. He needs the ABs.

Ramirez does indeed look healthy so far and I'll add that it's very pleasing to see Lee apparently feeling no lingering effects of his injury.

Miller went all Glendon today and if he does that again I expect Lou to take a look at Guzman.

A decent first week. A .500 road trip to start. Can't complain.
   2. Neil M Posted: April 09, 2007 at 01:51 AM (#2329510)
Off-topic, I'm watching the Boston/Texas game. Noteworthy that Sosa is standing up in the box again. Haven't seen him that close to the plate since his beaning. Maybe his eyesight is failing.
   3. Meatwad Posted: April 09, 2007 at 01:59 AM (#2329518)
neil, sosa had a home run yesterday, and crushed the ball in spring play, im hoping he has a great year.

as to the cubs, well so far i like pinella, he seems to know how to use his bullpen and get his guys work, and trys to get everyone not just his little favorites. as for the bench, apart from the riot, today he made pretty good use of it, brining in guys when it called for it.
the starters execpt for miller have been good, hill looked down right nasty in his first start, in z's second one he also looked good, an thats with out getting his pitches on the corner called as strikes. from what i heard about lilly and looking at his stats he was great, and marquis even had a solid outing.
aram and lee are both mashing right now, derosa looks like it might have been a decent signing after all

oh and its nice to see aggressive but also smart plays on the basepaths, the third base coach is agressive when it calls for it, that i like, but he isnt bad like waivin wendell.

overall i think the rotation will be soild and could be a huge asset for the team this year
   4. Walt Davis Posted: April 09, 2007 at 04:34 AM (#2329660)
Geez, it was one bad start. Even after 2 bad starts you shouldn't be looking to change your 5th starter. He's a 5th starter. If half his starts are quality, you jump for joy.

I can only imagine how much you guys must have been panicking after Z's first start. :-)

While I question Theriot on the roster (or both Theriot & Cedeno), his usage has been perfectly appropriate so far. He started today in place of Jones (good idea!) and he didn't take any ABs away from Murton, Murton just got caught in a double-switch. He pinch-ran for Murton (and stole a base) in what was a 2-1 game at the time. He was a pinch-runner for Floyd late in the blowout ... OK, that could be one PA taken from Murton. His other PA came when he was used in a double-switch for DeRosa.

Piniella clearly thinks he's better defensively (and on the bases) than Floyd and Murton. Piniella hopefully seems to understand that Jones against lefties is a disaster. Assuming his defense is better, then Theriot's usage has been perfectly fine and he has at most taken 1 PA which should have gone to Murton. Now whether he can hit well enough to justify getting any ML PAs is a good question. I don't think he's the right guy for the role, but Piniella has properly identified the needed role -- RH batter, defensive replacement, pinch-runner, platoon partner for Jones. You don't have to hit much to hit better than Jones against lefties. Heck, So Taguchi would be perfectly fine for the Cubs.

Granted, Piniella does seem enamored of the little guy. It's a situation worth monitoring and I'm always a fan of worry early, worry often when it comes to the Cubs. But so far, I can't get too worked up.

If I'm going to wildly extrapolate based on 1 week -- so far, OK. But worry points would be the bullpen's performance in the 2nd loss to Cincy and today -- which was mainly Eyre in both cases -- and that the Cubs offense has displayed the characteristics we'd be concerned about -- nothing or a bunch. But it's just a week!

I agree that Piniella seems different. He's certainly not gonna be hanging out in the dugout while his team implodes. As Andere notes, I'm not sure his approach is really much better but it might be a little less frustrating and more entertaining for me. :-)
   5. Andere Richtingen Posted: April 09, 2007 at 02:45 PM (#2329792)
Geez, it was one bad start. Even after 2 bad starts you shouldn't be looking to change your 5th starter. He's a 5th starter. If half his starts are quality, you jump for joy.

There are bad starts, and then there are starts where the pitcher has a labrum problem and no velocity. I essentially agree with you about not concluding anything at this point, but I think there's significant cause for concern here, and I'd be really concerned if I saw it again in his next start.
   6. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: April 09, 2007 at 05:50 PM (#2330031)
If there's one thing I see in Piniella that I haven't seen in recent Cub managers, it's that he seems much more proactive -- a welcome change. When a pitcher is struggling on the mound, Piniella isn't just going to sit on the bench and hope things work out, or even send Rothschild out; he's willing to visit the mound himself. For now, I think that's a good thing -- more than one Cubs pitcher (Dempster and Zambrano) has figured his day was done when Lou came out of the dugout, only to learn he's staying in the game. I would think that would be some morale boost.

Regarding Theriot, I'm not jumping to any conclusions just yet. Lou likes him as a utility player, like a poor man's Ryan Freel, and Theriot may be decent in that role. The key will be to see if he ends up out there just a few days/week or if he's starting on a regular basis. For now, though, I think that Lou wants to give a start to everyone just to keep them fresh -- at this point, Ward is the only position player not to get a start.
   7. dcsmyth1 Posted: April 09, 2007 at 11:16 PM (#2330592)
Soriano--I know he will probably post his usual numbers (which have earned him a 120 mill contract), but from what I've seen, he is not getting the most from his natural talent. The *heaviest bat in baseball*, the swinging at bad pitches--he is a player who could learn a lot from Gary Sheffield. And I have heard that Soriano is reputed to be perhaps the smartest player in baseball (Maddux is laughing).

DeRosa--he's doing OK statistically so far, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. But I don't like his plate approach very much so far.

Theriot--he needs to relax and focus on what he can do to get on base (not swing at balls, avoid striking out, hit good pitches where they're pitched). If he is intimidated by major league pitching and cannot do that, he will be soon soaking up splinters.

D Lee--appears to be all the way back, and should be one of the best players in the league.

Ramirez--looks to me to be primed for his career offensive year, and has seemingly improved in the field to the point where he may actually be above-avg with the glove.

Izturis--a mystery man, who has left no impression so far. No game saving plays in the field, no game winning bloop singles. No impression at all.

Barrett, Murton, Jones--same as it ever was.

Floyd--exactly as advertised; a respectable hitter and a DH in the field. I hope he is subject to a very strict platoon, to limit his exposure to injury, and to best leverage his offensive skills.

The starters--the Cubs seem to prefer pitchers with good *stuff* but mediocre to poor *command*. I guess they think they can improve the command, but I have not seen much evidence that this is the case. Zambrano's command has been decreasing each season (although this has been canceled out by improvement in raw stuff). IMO, if Lilly or Marquis improves their command, it will be due to these pitchers themselves, rather than due to anything done by the Cubs.

R Hill--all indicators point to a pitcher who is making a huge step forward, and who may wind up as a CY candidate. He always had good stuff, but now he is also not walking anyone, and looking very smooth out there. He is 27, but as a tall leftie, that is not an unusual age to finally put it together. I am going to ignore his baby face, and project a big season.

Dempster--I'm not sure what in his profile led the team to put him at closer vs being a fifth starter type.
He has pretty good stuff, but poor command. That's not what I want from my closer.
   8. McCoy Posted: April 11, 2007 at 04:26 AM (#2331936)
I might be in the minority on this one but I like Theriot on the roster. The guy can fly. Now granted one could argue that a pinch runner is wasted on a team that is projected to win at a .500 clip but for me I would rather give a roster spot to Theriot then to someone like Neifi or Womack or Goodwin.

The guy can run and he wants to run and so far it looks like Lou is giving him the green light. Sure he got thrown out trying to steal third but I also saw him score from second on a grounder through the right side in Milwaukee.

Other things of note:

There is no way in hell that Cliff Floyd is going to make it through this season healthy and off the DL. The guy looks like he hurts himself at the plate or on the basepaths in practically every at bat. The guy has to be held together by floss.

The bullpen looks like it is going to be a concern (yes it is only a week), and I wouldn't trust the rotation just because of a couple of good starts. This is Ted Lilly, Jason Marquis, Wade Miller, and Rich Hill we are talking about. Not Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, and Millwood.
   9. H. Vaughn Posted: April 11, 2007 at 11:36 PM (#2332825)
I second the concern on Miller. He's got nothing. That wasn't a just a bad day at the office. Should be nice opportunity for Guzman.

The hit or miss offense is going to be a little frustrating. We might be watching a few strings of 4-2, 5-3 losses when two of the three big bats aren't going, alternating with stretches of DLee and Soriano carrying the team on their back.
   10. McCoy Posted: April 11, 2007 at 11:42 PM (#2332840)
The same could be said for almost every single offense in the history of the game.

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