Friday, April 25, 2008

Scouting The Opposition

I traded questions with Byron from Goat Riders of the Apocalypse, who's already relishing the prospect of a sweep. (Apparently he's seen Matt Chico pitch!)

My answers to his questions are at that link up there ^^^

His answers to my questions are down here vvvv

The Nationals are cursed with a terrible TV play-by-play guy. What I've heard of Len Kasper, I've loved. But familiarity usually breeds contempt. Like him? Love him? Hate him?
I think Len Kasper is great. When they got rid of Chip Caray, I was in favor of them hiring Dave O'Brien, but ESPN wouldn't let him go. This turned out great for us as we snapped Len away from the Marlins and he's well on his way to establishing himself as a Chicago legend. His best quality is that he doesn't take himself too seriously. He's open to new fangled things like discussing the relative importance of OBP to AVG (a huge step for the Cubs organization), and he has good chemistry with Bob Brenly. Len's also a fan of the blogosphere and periodically grants interviews to us lowly Cubs blogs.

Assuming he ever makes it back on the field, is Soriano the answer at lead-off? Nats fans learned to appreciate what he did in that spot, even if it isn't ideal. Although with the way he goes fishing when men are on base, maybe it is! Any other thoughts on your big acquisition?
As I'm sure you know, Soriano isn't the ideal leadoff hitter, but he's certainly one of the best eight hitters we have, and if he's comfortable at lead-off, I'm fine with him hitting there. Other Cubs fans find this to be a bigger stumbling block than I do, but I'm in favor of more offense, so I'll take it. Unfortunately, the leg injuries have reduced the stolen base threat, so he's a little less suited for it than when he put up the huge 40/40 numbers. As for other thoughts, like most fans we'd like to see him be a little more 'team oriented,' which I think would involve things like taking a few pitches and succeeding when Lou moves him down in the order. There's also the matter of his ginormous contract that goes until he's 52... but in the short term, I think most Cubs fans are pretty happy with him. (I like him a lot.)

Sweet Lou doesn't seem to trust Rich Hill all that much. Is it just tough love, or is Rich really having issues?
Rich had a good year last year. We (and Lou) know he's got promise, but Spring time came around and Rich was abducted by his evil twin Mitch. Mitch, as we all know, sucks. Mitch hangs curveballs with great frequency and is generally ineffective. Since it's been Mitch who's been doing most of the pitching this year, Lou's got a good reason to question his spot in the rotation... but if Rich ever escapes his brother's evil clutches for an extended period of time, just watch out - we might be going somewhere.

Do you think you have a legit World Series contender? What's the one piece or role you think you need to improve the chances? (And while I'm at it, why does Bartman get all the blame when it's Alex Gonzalez who should be hanged from the flagpole in center?)
No, this team is not a legitimate WS contender. We lack the front-line starting pitching necessary to get outs against good teams. The offense appears to be much improved from last year, the bullpen is solid(er), but if anything, the rotation took a step back over the winter. We have lots of depth in terms of fifth starters, but Zambrano is our only legitimate playoff quality starter. Ted Lilly would normally be qualified as such, but his early performance has been uninspiring. Ryan Dempster is pitching great so far, but considering his last good season as a starter was in 2000, I'll believe it when I see it. The rest of the rotation is Rich/Mitch Hill and Jason 'the Marquis de Suck.'

On Bartman, he should have known better. But, if we're passing out blame, poor Steve is so far down on the list, it's sort of ridiculous. My list starts with Alex Gonzalez and includes Mark Prior, Dusty Baker, Moises Alou, and the rest of the Cubs roster before we even start considering ESPN, the Sun-Times, and poor ole Steve Bartman. The way I like to think of Steve is that he's me, but only luckier and not luckier at the same time. Bartman was a true-blue Cubs fan who was lucky enough to get great seats to game 6 of the NLCS, and unlucky enough to be dressed for the weather and listening to the radio rather than paying proper attention to his surroundings.

Which is a better name? Carmen Pignatiello or Kosuke Fukudome?
Fukudome. First, he's on the roster and sees significant playing time, so the opportunities to use his many nicknames are plentiful. (My favorite is the rather tame 'Fooky'.) Piggy on the other hand isn't that great, so when he is up at the big club, he's in mop-up duty. Other great Cubs names of the last few years? Angel Pagan, Rocky Cherry, and Buck Coats.

Enjoy your sweep, boys!


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