Thursday, March 31, 2005

Season Preview Coming

The Yarbage Cub Review has grown over the years. We have a very good crop of writers here right now. Each with thier own style and voice.
I was very happy to add Mark to the team to help bridge some gaps as most of my time is spent at the newspaper now. Also we have Joe Rhodes the non-Cub fan, but that is what I like. An objective view and then we have my brother, who only posts every now and then, but when he does it is always of from the heart.

While I am a big fan of the numbers, sometimes we need the human element in our observations. I almost read too much on the moneyball. Because what it all boils down to is that we still play the game. We are not computers and granted some players are better than others, but I can do without Brian Kenny spouting out, "But he has a .961 OPS," on ESPN as he talks to Rob Neyer.

Hopefully we will have the preview up Sunday or Monday. I hope to have some light hearted discussion and some fun with our predictions.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Deja Vu

Deja Vu Again? Wood, Prior, and now Borowski. Before we ask the next question, we will throw out Borowski's injury because it was a fluke. So now the million dollar question... Why?

Is it off-season conditioning? Statements were made that both pitchers showed up for camp in tip top shape. OK, so what? I could name several lard butt pitchers who can string together several winning seasons without ever going on the DL, or on a diet. What about their actual pitching preparation? I want to know who oversees that? Something is wrong if players come into Spring Training and take it ever so lightly and have a season threatening injury.

Maybe it could be the pitching coach? Hmmmm, I know my opinion, and I will share it. I have never been impressed with Larry Rothschild. Sure the Cubs have had a great pitching staff the last couple of years, but have you seen the raw talent we have had? It has been unbelievable. But have they ever lived up to their potential? The Cubs pitching staff has been been at or near the top of the league in strikeouts and even pretty close in ERA for the past several seasons. This shows they have talent, but how good are they mentally? One example might be Kyle Farnsworth. He had all of the makings of one of the game's premier closers, but he did more damage to himself then he did to opposing hitters. I had hoped that getting Greg Maddux would help some of the team's other pitchers. Maddux is probably the smartest pitcher in the game right now, and maybe ever. Why didn't more of that rub off on the other guys. Maybe this year? I will give you one thing to ponder and then move on... Pitching Coach... Steve Stone.

OK, so what's different then last year? Oh No, No Sammy! Yep, but life goes on. Over the past couple years the Cubs have shifted more towards playing as a team and not just a super hero and his support staff. Last season, they were getting pretty close but didn't quite make it. So remove the one thing stopping that progress (Sosa) and see what happens.

I cannot tell you how sick I am of hearing, "with Sammy and Alou gone, someone has to pick up the power slack". Well if the Cubs did not live and die by the home run last year they would have easily been there in the end. This season they need to concentrate on playing small ball and scoring their runs without waiting for Sammy to blast a solo home run in the late innings to hopefully just tie the game. Does anyone remember the 2002 World Series winner? The Anaheim Angels. They had one or two power hitters, but their game was a lot different. It was a complete team effort on their part. Even their pitching staff was more of a group effort. They only had three pitchers with over 10 wins and the team leader had 18. The Cubs have four potential 20 game winners, but here is a big difference, the Angels had 40 saves from Troy Percival. Where will we get ours? Small ball and good pitching can get you ahead on the score board, but if you cannot close the door.... Well you know the outcome.

So where will the Cubs learn to play small ball? Hopefully with Sammy gone, Dusty will be more vocal and some of the other players will have a chance to shine. The Cubs did swap hitting coaches this season, Gene Clines for Gary Matthews. Maybe some good things will come out of that. I am still waiting for spring training coach Ryne Sandberg to step up and make a run for that position myself. I think Ryno would make a great Hitting Coach. My only beef with Sandberg is that he was quoted in his Yahoo NL Predictions saying this about the Cardinals, "This team will meet the Yankees in the World Series." Say it ain't so Ryno! Wait, that's fine, don't pick the Cubbies, please, no one pick us! We always have this strange way of disappointing when we are picked as the favorite. So let's stay the underdog and shock everyone when we take the division.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Hits Just Keep On Coming

The hits are coming, but not in the form of basehits. The Cubs pitching staff is taking knock after knock right now. Just when we thought Joe Borowski was back to form a line drive hits his arm. One fracture later and it is back to the DL for Joe Bo.
Of course the Management says Kerry Wood and Mark Prior will be fine and we saw how that worked out last year.
I go into the last couple days of Spring Training with a heavy heart, because I feel the playoffs slipping further and further away.
I will be the first guy to get rid of this curse non-sense, but somebody sure does not like us.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Tournament Picks

Very soon, I will have my own college basketball blog, but until then I wanted to give my selections.

These are in no order until the late. With starting around number
60-66 those are in order of how I think they are in the tournament.

1. Vermont
2. C. Florida
3. G. Washington
4. Syracuse
5. Montana
6. Winthrop
7. Utah State
8. ODU
9. Louisville
10. UW-Milwaukee
11. PENN
12. Niagara
13. Ohio
14. New Mexico
15. Oakland
16. Delaware St.
17. Creighton
18. F. Dickinson
19. E. Kentucky
20. Washington
21. Bucknell
22. UL-Lafayette
23. Chattanooga
24. Gonzaga
25. UTEP
26. Kentucky
27. Illinois
28. Duke
29. Oklahoma St.
30. Northwestern St. (Southland)
31. Alabama A &M (SWAC)
Let me interrupt real fast. With number 30 and 31, they have yet to
play the conference final and they are both a one bid conference. So,
as I write this it could change depending on who wins those games. Now
back to the predictions.
32. Georgia Tech
33. North Carolina
34. Wake Forest
35. N.C. State
36. West Virgina
37. Villanova
39. Pittsburgh
40. Boston College
41. Wisconsin
42. Michigan State
43. Minnesota
44. Texas Tech
45. Kansas
46. Charlotte
47. Cincinnati
48. Utah
49. Arizona
50. Stanford
51. UCLA
52. Florida
53. LSU
54. Alabama
55. Mississippi St.
56. Oklahoma
57. Nevada
58. Pacific
59. Saint Mary's
60. Southern Illinois
There is the easy part of the tournament. Now for the last five spots.
Some are tougher than others, but you never really know that the
selection committee is looking at. The first three I feel pretty good
about, but the last two were tough
61. Iowa State
62. Iowa
63. Texas
64. UAB
65. Buffalo

I really feel Iowa State did enough to guarantee a bid, but the first
round loss to Texas Tech will make them worry about tonight's show.
Iowa lost a heart breaker last night, but the two wins in the Big Ten
Tournament were enough to show they can win without their star player.
If there is one team I that made me think of taking them was Texas.
They played bad in the end of the year. They lost two players
throughout the season, but that win at Oklahoma State to end their
regular season was probably enough to get them in. Still, I would not
be shocked if they were left out. UAB was a hard choice. They were
10-6 in a good conference. They played Louisville to single digits
twice in the past three weeks on the road and now in the tournament.
Their second win over Depaul in two weeks is just enough to get them
over Depaul. The hardest choice is Buffalo. They MAC deserves two bids
and their profile is just a big better than Miami (Ohio). Buffalo lost
a close game overtime to Ohio in the MAC finals and their RPI is 27.

Left Out
1. Notre Dame
2. Maryland
3. Depaul
4. St. Josephs
5. Miami (Ohio)
6. Wichita State

I had Wichita State in the tournament a couple days ago, but as more
bubble teams played their way in, it was too hard to keep the Shockers
in the Dance. Notre Dame and Maryland have only to blame themselves.
They both laid eggs in their conference tournaments against Rutgers
and Clemson. If Depaul would have beaten UAB they would have been in,
but the head-to-head loss is too big to overlook. One team that may
sneak in is St. Joe's. They have been real hot since the start of the
New Year, but their profile is a little weak.
The problem with this year is so many teams just did not want to play
well to end the year. I could see some changes, but I feel good about
my bracket.

Leave some comments if you agree or disagree.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Back in the Saddle Again

After a year off from writing articles for I am back to sharing my opinions and insights with other true "Die Hard" Cub fans. After reading some of the posts from Chris in the Yarbage Cub Review I recently responded to his request for another writer. And here I am.

Born in the the Chicago suburbs, I broke ties with the area at a young age but grew up glued to WGN and hanging on every slurred word that flowed from Harry Caray's mouth. Through the good times and the bad, I remained loyal to the Cubs. There is just something about being a true Cub fan.

While writing this post I am listening to Jamie Moyer strike out the side in the first inning of today's Cubs preseason game, and while I am dissapointed that the Cubs did not get a hit, I am a little happy for Moyer. Once a Cub, always a Cub. I pull for all the former Cubbies. I know that I am one of the first people to admit the Cubs are better off without "Slamming Sammy", but I still wish him well. I want to see him knock another 60 homers for the O's. I want to see him break 600 home runs and keep going on to 700+. I want to see him get his batting average back up over .300 and prove people wrong. I just don't want to see him strike out in the ninth inning, down by a run, with the bases loaded while wearing a Cub uniform. Enough on that subject... Dubois takes Moyer yard, Blanco drives in Barrett, Cubs 2, Mariners 0, and I have to smile. Sorry Jamie!

Look for posts from me in the near future and feel free to agree, add to my thoughts, or even disagree. I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

New Look, Same Old Me

First off I would like to thank Kurt over at Cub Fan Nation for the new banner. I was going to get to it at some point, but he asked could he do it and I have to say I really like. Make sure you check out his site or to see his views on the Cubs.

As from my own views so far:
1) I thought Greg Maddux was plain old Maddux on Monday. He did not show much out there.
2) It was good to see Joe Borowski out and throwing, but I still have my doubts.
3) Jason Dubois should get a shot, but if I were a gambling man I would say there are many Hollandsworth sightings in the future.

On a total different subject:
This may be my favorite time of year. Baseball is starting, but the greatest sporting event in the world is about to start. I have two dreams in my life. Either to be a baseball writer or college basketball writer would be just great. I guess it does not hurt when your traditional football school has become quite good in basketball. In case you don't know whom I am talking about, it is the Alabama Crimson Tide. They just had all five starting five named to the All-SEC team, only the third time in league history that has happened.

Even though it pains me to say this because Joe from the The View From the Bleachers gives me such hell about it, but Illinois looks like the team to beat. I know they just lost to Ohio State, but the thing I like about them is the tough defense they play for 40 minutes.

This will be the first year I will not be able to follow the Crimson Tide around, but I will watching every chance I get. Of course if Alabama makes it to Nashville I might make a trip, or for Austin for the regionals, but we will not know that until Sunday night.

Also in the coming weeks, look for the season preview by Joe Rhodes and myself. Joe is sure to give his opinion of the team he hates. In case you didn't know Joe is an A's fan. I brought him on board to be the voice of reason at this site, as our views sometimes get out of whack.

Last thing, I am looking to add one more writer. If you are interested and want somewhere to voice your opinion, but don't want to run your own site please email me at