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.