The Muskbox Puts the “Blah” in Blog


I can’t really run. Nor can I hide.

When the Muskbox pops up on my feed reader, if I don’t have time to get to it right then, I generally just head to the electronic graffiti that is Cubs.com to find it. If it’s not still on the front page, it’s generally buried in the “News” section behind the ten stories a day that Carrie writes about how, as a fanbase, we undervalue Tony Campana. This week, I couldn’t find the Muskbox. Despite my emphatic CTRL-F’ing. Despite the fact that I was only one day behind its publishing. It was a mystery. So, I went back to my feed reader to search for Old Musky’s gold, and found it hidden within her blog. Mind you, this is not the first time that Carrie has tried to pull the old switcheroo on me, and it certainly won’t be the last. But it makes me wonder. Is she moving the Muskbox around intentionally, or does she just forget where she posts it from week to week? The formatting is different when she does it on Cubs.com versus her own blog, so I suspect she switches it intentionally. But why? AND WHY THE HELL AM I ACTUALLY THINKING ABOUT THIS?

No matter. Wherever it’s posted, questions about Bryan LaHair winning NL ROY will be asked and answered. Read on!

Q: With the Cubs showing they can win games and doing it well…

Forty-one percent of them, to be precise!

…what kind of record would the team have to put together over the second half to get a Wild Card?

The Guinness World kind.

Not that I think by any means this will happen but I am curious. — Jeremy B., Denver, CO

“HYPOTHETICALLY SPEAKING, what do you suppose would happen if, HYPOTHETICALLY SPEAKING, my…FRIEND…were to have bet his mortgage with a bookie that the Cubs would win the Wild Card? IN THEORY???”

A: You can dream. The Cubs are 36-52 as of today, and would have to go 45-29 just to get to .500 (81-81).

That’s only a .600 winning percentage, which is totally achievable because RIZZO!

They are on a good pace, with a 12-4 record since June 25. If the season ended today, the Braves and Pirates would be Wild Card winners. The Cubs are currently 13 games back.

But the Braves, Pirates, and everyone else in front of the Cubs have to take a LOT of plane rides between now and the end of September. I’M JUST SAYING.

Q: What are the team batting/OBP numbers/slugging percentage before and after Rudy Jaramillo was dismissed? — James B., Fredonia, NY

Rudy Jaramillo was a waste of money, no doubt. But hitting coaches in general are nearly as useless as Mike Quade. Bet you never thought you’d hear that name again, did you? Mike Quade. Less than a year ago. Was the Cubs’ manager. Weird.

A: From April 5-June 10, the numbers were .247 batting average/.304 on-base percentage/.385 slugging percentage. From June 12-July 15, the numbers are almost the same, .249/.293/.388.

Vindication for Cara Naranja!

What’s different are the pitching numbers. In the first 60 games, the Cubs were 20-40, the pitchers had a 4.39 ERA and converted seven of 18 save opportunities.

Holy crap, it was THAT bad? If they’d just saved those 11 games, they’d be…still only in third place in the NL Central.

In the last 28 games, the pitchers have a 3.93 ERA and have converted 10 of 11 save opportunities.

If you take Ryan Dempster out of that equation, they have a 93.41 ERA.

Q: Is Tony Campana in the Cubs’ plans after the All-Star break…

Christ, I hope he’s not in their plans NOW.

…or is he on the trading block? In the 15 days prior to the break, he only got into 10 games, during which he came to the plate in five of them. — Pete V., Xenia, OH

I’m really starting to like Dale Sveum.

A: In 21 games in June, Campana hit .237 (14-for-59) and had an on-base percentage of .250. That’s why he’s not getting more starts. He can’t steal bases if he can’t get on base. He’s the perfect 25th man, used as a pinch-runner, defensive sub.

Actually, the perfect 25th man is Andrew McCutchen. He can do all of that, plus hit home runs, and can you imagine if you had, like, 11 dudes on your team who were BETTER than Andrew McCutchen?

Q: Can Bryan LaHair win Rookie of the Year? — Jeffrey B., Zion, IL

“No.”
-Bryce Harper
-Wade Miley
-Zack Cozart
-Kirk Nieuwenhuis
-Hell, Anthony Rizzo

A: No. A player is considered a rookie unless during the previous season he has, No. 1, exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the big leagues, or, No. 2, accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League team during the 25-man limit in effect from Opening Day until Aug. 31. LaHair started this year with 195 Major League at-bats and 100 days service time.

Q: With Ian Stewart looking like he could miss the rest of the season, is there any chance that Theo and Co. will call up surging slugging, Josh Vitters?

…throbbing, engorged, penetrating…

He hasn’t played 162 games in Triple-A but he has a lot of Minor League experience and with Javier Baez hot on his trail, this may be his only opportunity. — Dean S., Northbrook, IL

“Man whose only opportunity in Majors is due to Josh Vitters getting injured is not destined for success.”
-Ancient Chinese Proverb

A: Baez is a shortstop, so he’s not a threat to Vitters. The Cubs are watching Vitters and Brett Jackson just as closely as they monitored Anthony Rizzo.

BUT WHO IS WATCHING THE CUBS? Oh, wait. No one.

On Saturday, GM Jed Hoyer said Vitters and Jackson need to show they deserve a promotion.

Or, they could try the Crane Kenney route to success and just be awful at their jobs until someone promotes them anyhow.

“Those guys need to force the issue, I would say,” Hoyer said. “Like we talked about with Rizzo, when they sort of prove to us that they’re ready and make it clear, then I think that’s something we’ll see.”

Man, Jed is succinct.

Through Sunday, Vitters was batting .301 with 13 home runs, 28 doubles and 51 RBIs, and had a great June, when he hit .324. His defense is a little suspect. Jackson was batting .256 through Sunday, and coming off a .282 June, but he struck out 50 times in 29 games that month. As for Stewart, he is done for the season.

Speaking of Stewart, a PR person desperately needs to take over his Twitter feed. Just look at this disaster.

Q: The extraordinary number of strikeouts by Brett Jackson makes me wonder the obvious. Have they tested his vision? — Eric H., Brandon, FL

Yeah, seeing’s the most important thing. I can’t find the clip, but you get the gist.

Incidentally, while looking for the correct clip, I stumbled upon this, perhaps the funniest goddamn baseball movie moment I’ve ever seen.

A. Yes.

They pulled out Lou Brown’s rotting corpse and asked Jackson to look at a picture of Nolan Ryan. At least in the movie theater in my brain they did.

Q: When is Jorge Soler expected to join the Major League team? — Christopher T., Chicago

8:33 p.m.

A: Soler is 20 years old, and has yet to play in a game in the Mesa Rookie League. Sorry, my crystal ball is a little fuzzy and won’t give me an exact date.

Also fuzzy: her chin.

Q: Sitting here watching the final three innings of Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game.

Shit, I thought I was behind on my DVR.

This game is seldom mentioned as one of the all-time greatest games ever pitched.

Or it always is. In fact, Mark Grace just said it over the weekend when he and Bob switched broadcast booths. Incidentally, Grace was significantly better than Brenly, and I want him to have Brenly’s job.

A 20-year-old ties a MLB record and the only hit was an infield single. A 1-0 game to boot. Any thoughts? — Jim R., Indio, CA

Likely, no.

A: Wood’s 20 K game is my favorite of all time.

As awesome as that game was, this was the most enjoyable Wood start I’ve ever seen. You magnificent bastard, Kerry Wood, I hope you’re enjoying your retirement.

Q: Other than Wayne Terwilliger and Eddie Miksis, who else wore No. 21? — Sheldon D., Key West, FL

You absolutely made both of those names up. Also, this is the biggest goddamn Yellon plant question I’ve ever seen. You pull those two bullshit names out of nowhere and forget one of the best and most controversial Cubs players of all time? I call shenanigans.

A: Jason Marquis, Tyler Colvin, Sammy Sosa, and now, Joe Mather.

And you can read all about them in Yellon’s stupid book about numbers, which would be better served as an online database and/or spreadsheet. Seriously, who in the name of Don Zimmer would ever go to a book to look up a baseball player’s number?

Q: Please evaluate the Colvin and Marshall trades. The new front office shows they are not what they’re cracked up to be. They both stink. I’m holding my breath as we get down to the trading deadline. — Dwight A., Findlay, OH

Man, I wish we still had Tyler Colvin.

A: The Cubs knew Stewart had a questionable wrist when they acquired him for Tyler Colvin (yes, Stewart did take a physical), but the team was ready to move on regarding Colvin. You have to admit his .150 average last season wasn’t very impressive.

I admit nothing! Unlike this guy. (HT: Pre)

The Rockies did well in that deal as Stewart is done for the year. But I’d say the Reds and Cubs both got what they wanted in their deal which sent Sean Marshall to Cincinnati for Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt and Roni Torreyes. James Russell has taken over the left-handed set-up role for the Cubs, Wood has won his last four starts, and Torreyes got off to a rough start but batted .330 in June and was hitting .304 in 12 games this month.

In case you haven’t noticed, Wood has been pretty fucking awesome for the Cubs this year. And as much as I love Sean Marshall, his WHIP, H/9, and HR/9 are all higher than they were in his last 2 years with the Cubs, and his ERA+ is lower. Also, holy shit, Marshall only gave up ONE home run last year. That’s amazing.

A perfect trade benefits both teams. How would you grade the deal for Rizzo? How about the pickup of Luis Valbuena? What about moving Marlon Byrd?

Wait, did she just un-ironically point to the acquisition of Luis Valbuena as a big success? Ha!

  • Brick

    “The Guinness World kind.” Awesome.

  • Mccarthy

    99 percent funny. The chin shot was a low blow.