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Category: Broadcasters & Journalists (page 4 of 24)

That Thar Muskbox Swaps Lies Over Fifth-Inning Shit on a Shingle

Yes, Googling “shit on a shingle” was pretty nerve-wracking.

This week’s Muskbox straight-facedly asks whether Alfonso Soriano should “sit a spell.” When I was in college, my dorm’s rector was from Virginia, and he was full of hilarious old Southern colloquialisms like that one. The ones in my headline are all the ones my brain remembers. God dammit, brain, REALLY? Anyhow, this Muskbox is a doozy. Because it’s somehow ALWAYS a doozy.

It seems like every game I hear Len Kasper and Bob Brenly mention how Soriano is “hobbling on that bad left leg” after every time he grounds out or any time he makes a play in left.

Bob usually follows it up with, “And isn’t it just like that selfish layabout to hurt his team by continuing to play left field? And computers are better than umpires! And don’t you hate when guys wear their sunglasses on top of their hats? We never did that in MY day! And I won a World Series because of strategy, not because of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling! Now, here’s an obscure modern music reference that makes me seem like I’m NOT 100 years old!” God dammit, Bob Brenly, just shut the fuck up.

Why wouldn’t the Cubs put him on the DL, move LaHair to left and bring up Anthony Rizzo for a few weeks? Is it because Soriano is finally starting to hit home runs?
— Steve G., Irving, Texas

Yeah, it’s about time he FINALLY started hitting home runs! Those 340 he hit before entering this season were all DO-OVERS!

CARRIE: Soriano does have a sore left knee, but it obviously hasn’t affected his hitting, considering his 6-for-13, three-homer series this past weekend against the Twins.

It’s affected his groupie-banging!

CARRIE: He was joking with Cubs officials after Sunday’s game to move this week’s Interleague series against the Tigers to Detroit, so he could be the designated hitter.

SELFISH JOKE!

CARRIE: The knee hinders Soriano when he’s running, and it’s tough for him to stop.

So the crack Cubs coaching staff introduced him to this new technique called SLIDING.

CARRIE: But since last Tuesday in Milwaukee, he no longer wears a knee brace, and the Cubs’ medical staff has put together enough strengthening and stretching exercises to keep him in the game. Soriano has been the team’s only source of offense since May 15, with 12 homers in 25 games — more than any other Major Leaguer in that stretch. Chicago needs him in the lineup.

Yes. YES. For the stretch run.

What pace is Rizzo on compared to LaHair’s 38 homers last year at Triple-A Iowa?
— John P., Swifton, Ark.

God, I really hope your parents didn’t intentionally name you after Jonathan Swift and then forget to teach you anything about the English language.

CARRIE: Through 58 games at Iowa this year, Rizzo is batting .363 (78-for-215) with 20 home runs. Through 58 games last season at Iowa, LaHair was hitting .356 (73-for-205) with 16 home runs. Rizzo notched his fifth multihomer game Sunday, hitting a pair.

That’s amazing that she just listed the stats instead of actually trying to predict Rizzo’s pace. You know. Like the question asked.

Please explain why manager Dale Sveum is not playing LaHair.

Have you seen his head? Dale Sveum hates la hair! PUNNNNNNN!!!

We are putting Jeff Baker out two or three days a week instead of LaHair.

I am doing no such thing.

Also, 2-3 days of Jeff Baker means 4-5 days of LaHair. Meaning he IS playing. Aren’t Chinese people supposed to be good at math?

Let’s see — LaHair is batting over .300 and Baker is south of .250. Fielding, LaHair has the edge. So explain to me if we are in a development year, why we are not developing LaHair. If he has problems against left-handed pitching, he’s not going to get better watching from the bench.
— John F., Wanning, Hainan, China

Eh. His English is still better than the dude’s from Arkansas.

CARRIE: Sveum is trying to find an edge against left-handers.

It’s pointless. The lefties of the world will rise up and destroy the foolish red-scissor-using aristocracy! Rise up with me, my brothers! Rise up, southpaws! Rise up and cast away the bonds of right-handed can openers and those stupid credit card signature pads with the pen tethered to the right side! United, we will prevail! Might makes left!

CARRIE: Baker is struggling this year, hitting .214 (9-for-42), but he has a career .302 average against lefties.

Plus, he has the jowels of a young Matt Holliday!

CARRIE: LaHair is 3-for-27 against left-handers this season, and he is batting .131 (8-for-61) in his career against them. The Cubs have scuffled overall vs. left-handers — batting .223, the second-lowest mark in the NL — and are 3-13 so far against southpaw starters. They’re looking for any kind of edge.

Maybe they should try to arrange it so the only left-hander they face is Travis Wood.

I am much more impressed with Tony Campana in the outfield than David DeJesus.

And I am impressed that your brain keeps reminding your lungs to breathe. Because you, sir, are a fucking idiot.

I would rather see an outfield with LaHair in right and Campana in center. DeJesus just doesn’t hit enough to pay regularly in the outfield.

DeJesus is not having a great year. He is, however, having a MUCH better year than Tony Campana. God dammit, I KNEW this was going to happen once that little shit started getting regular playing time. He sucks at hitting. He sucks in the outfield. He has exactly one skill and, frankly, it’s probably the LEAST useful skill for a baseball player to have. Just because he’s better at it than basically everyone else in the MLB doesn’t mean he’s a good baseball player. Fuck. YOU’RE GOING TO EMBARRASS US IN FRONT OF THEO EPSTEIN!

Campana would be an ideal leadoff man.
— Harold H., Culloden, W. Va.

You know who would be a better leadoff man, due to his ability to actually get on base? David DeJesus.

CARRIE: We’ll have to agree to disagree.

YOU MADE ME AGREE WITH CARRIE, YOU MISERABLE SON OF A BITCH!

CARRIE: Campana does rank among the National League stolen-base leaders with 18, but his on-base percentage is .226, while DeJesus has a .378 OBP when leading off (DeJesus’ numbers are down in the No. 3 spot, where he’s 4-for-23).

I know this Muskbox is a few days old, but .226? That can’t have been right. Had to have been .326, right?

CARRIE: Sveum will start Campana in center in larger ballparks, because he does cover a lot of ground.

Which is totally useful, so he can take a SUPER-SPEEDY crow-hop before throwing an eight-hopper to home plate.

CARRIE: His speed is a tremendous asset off the bench.

And even more tremendous ON the bench!

CARRIE: DeJesus also had a solid May, hitting .317, and you don’t see many teams running on him when he’s in right. They can run on Campana.

Soriano is a better outfielder than Campana. I HOPE YOUR HEAD JUST EXPLODED, BOB BRENLY.

What are the chances Ryan Dempster is traded to a playoff contender before the Trade Deadline? As much as I love Demp, I think it would be a win-win scenario.
— Jacob C., Chicago

If you could see my face right now, you would be reminded of the scene from A Christmas Story when Ralphie bets his dad that he’ll never guess what Ralphie got him for Christmas, and his dad looks away dreamily and says, “A new furnace?” Oh, here’s the audio.

CARRIE: Considering where the Cubs are in the standings and this being the last year of Dempster’s contract, it could happen.

Also considering Theo Epstein’s low tolerance on a roster for bullshit clown mascots (see Millar, Kevin).

CARRIE: What team wouldn’t want a starter with a 2.31 ERA who is holding opponents to a .206 batting average?

The Cubs, apparently.

CARRIE: Imagine what his record would be if the Cubs scored some runs in his starts.

/imagines
//”A new furnace…”

CARRIE: It’s a similar scenario to 2010, when the Cubs dealt Ted Lilly to the Dodgers. Matt Garza also has drawn interest from teams. An American League scout told me Sunday he’d love to have Soriano in his lineup.

Wait, a scout said that? He wants him in which lineup? His bowling league?

CARRIE: The countdown until the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline is on.

I never seem to hear Josh Vitters discussed as a possible callup to solve our third-base issues. Is that possible, plausible this season, or do the decision makers prefer Vitters spend a full season at Triple-A?
— Joseph H., Lake Ariel, Pa.

It’s possible, plausible, persuasive, and presumptive!
-Jackie Chiles

CARRIE: Sveum was asked about Vitters this weekend, and he said the third baseman was doing better.

“I was actually asking about delicious VITNER’S potato chips, locally owned since 1926!”
-David Haugh

CARRIE: “He’s been swinging the bat really well lately,” Sveum said. “He [doesn’t have] great command of the strike zone. He puts the ball in play, doesn’t strike out a lot for that kind of hitter. He still has to develop defensively. He’s got to get better defensively before we think of [promoting him].”

Did Sveum really say he DOESN’T have good command of the strike zone, or is this another Muskbox typo?

CLASSIC CARRIE!

Now that Marlon Byrd is gone…

From baseball ENTIRELY, it would appear.

…is there any chance Reed Johnson could take over as the Cubs’ player blog writer? I really enjoyed his blogs when he did it a couple years ago.
— Melissa J., Plover, Wis.

I really thought this was going to suggest that Reed be the starting center fielder, but Melissa threw me a huge bender. Sly minx.

CARRIE: Reed and I have talked about it, and yes, we will likely revive “Reed Between the Lines.”

REJECTED BLOG NAMES:
Smacked with a Johnson!
I Never Learned to Reed: The Reed Johnson Diaries
Reed Johnson Presents: The Byrd’s Nest
Reed Johnson’s Family Muskbag

When will MLB Commissioner Bud Selig reveal which stadiums will host the 2013 and ’14 All-Star Games? I know Wrigley Field is competing for ’14 in order to honor the stadium’s centennial.
— Felipe A., Chicago

Hey, Bud has a busy schedule. When he’s not lecturing Hawk Harrelson or ignoring the rapidly-steady decline of the quality of umpiring around the MLB, he’s-

Holy shit, what DOES Bud Selig do?

CARRIE: Citi Field in New York will host the 2013 All-Star Game…

Ronnie died just in time.

CARRIE: …which would mean 2014 would be an AL year (Major League Baseball usually alternates). The Cubs may try to twist Selig’s arm and host the game in 2016, which is 100 years after the team moved into Weeghman Park, now known as Wrigley Field. Plus, the renovations may be done then.

Wait, if they could twist his arm to host it in 2016, why the hell wouldn’t they twist his arm to host it in 2014?

When will the rained-out game against the Reds be played? Have they rescheduled it yet?
— Beth G., St. Louis

This question is so hilariously simplistic. This must be what tech support guys go through all the time. “Hey, um, my computer has, like, a box on the screen, within another box, with an ‘X’ in the corner. What does that mean?”

CARRIE: The Cubs and Reds will play a day-night doubleheader Aug. 18. Tickets from the May 1 game that was postponed by rain will be honored for the day game.

Dammit, I already threw mine out recycled mine. GOING GREEN!

Why does Cubs radio announcer Pat Hughes always take the fifth inning off every game?
— Gary S., Davis, Ill.

FINALLY! Someone asks the tough questions!

CARRIE: Nature.

Oh, wow. Long have I made light of the Pat Hughes Fifth-Inning Steamer, but it’s actually true! Pat Hughes takes a full inning to take a dump. He’s a man of many poetic words, and one of those words is “UNNGGGH!”

You Gotta Be Raping Me!

I GONNA GET RAPED.

Do we need any more evidence that Hawk Harrelson is the worst broadcaster in the history of the game of baseball? If you haven’t already heard Hawk losing his mind yesterday at Mark Wegner, here’s the video.

So, I’m pretty sure one of the first things Hawk yells is, “You gotta be raping me!” Am I wrong?

I’d say Hawk should be fired, but White Sox fans deserve exactly Hark Harrelson.

Anti-Social Media Night

I'm also not lazy, Bob.

Tonight, the Cubs are holding their inaugural Social Media Night beginning at 5:45 at the Captain Morgan Club at Wrigley Field. Because it’s called a SOCIAL Media Night, our good friends PAUL SULLIVAN and BRUCE MILES were not invited to participate. So, they decided to host Anti-Social Media Night just outside of the Captain Morgan Club. There are few Cubs bloggers as anti-social as I am, so I will be joining them to tweet bitter things about the Cubs’ “cool” clique of Carrie Muskat and…Kevin Saghy.

Hell, I might even try to get tickets and go to the game afterward, if anyone is interested.

If you’re not following us Twidiots, see below:

@hirejimessian
@pwsullivan
@brucemiles2112

Also, follow #AntiSocialMediaNight for the play-by-play.

The Muskbox Is an Equal-Hand Opportunity Employer

Please tell me that's your LEFT hand.

Growing up as a pure left-handed baseball player, my options on the field were limited. I was primarily a first baseman, though I did have my fair share of opportunities in the outfield and one ill-advised stint behind home plate (Why do they even SELL left-handed catcher’s mitts?). I’ve come to accept the fact that there are really only five positions on a baseball diamond for left-handers. The latest Muskbox has not yet accepted the same fact. Even more amazingly, someone finally asks a good question, and it’s followed up with NO ANSWER. Muskbox, away!

With Ian Stewart off to a bad start…

In LIFE. I want to like you, Ian Stewart. I really, really do.

…could Rizzo be called up to play third base? They could leave Bryan LaHair at first against lefties and use Jeff Baker at third.
— Stanley B., Gulf Breeze, Fla.

Maybe this idea isn’t as stupid as I first assumed. Sure, Anthony Rizzo wears his glove on the wrong hand for third base, which might be a liability. But “they” could significantly lessen that liability by playing Jeff Baker there at the same time!

CARRIE: I wouldn’t bump Stewart now.

Please. You’d bump Stewart whenever he wanted to.

CARRIE: He’s 8-for-28 in his last nine games. Rizzo joked that he would catch or even pitch just to get to the big leagues, but his best, and only, position is first base. One reason he won’t be moved to third is that he throws left-handed.

The other reason is- Wait, that’s all of the reasons.

CARRIE: If anyone moves, it would be LaHair to one of the outfield corners.

Or to the Indians.

It was nice to see LaHair and Stewart go back to back with home runs on Monday. I feel it’s been a while since the Cubs had two power-hitting lefties. When was the last time two Cubs left-handed hitters went back to back?
— Henry F., Urbana, Ill.

SOMEONE UNLOCK HARTIG’S CAGE!

CARRIE: I don’t know if you’d call Mike Fontenot a power-hitting lefty…

Don’t you? Don’t you, REALLY?

CARRIE: …but the last time the Cubs had two left-handed hitters belt back-to-back homers was April 30, 2009, when Milton Bradley led off the fifth inning against the Marlins with a blast and Fontenot followed with a home run on the next pitch.

Two of my favorite Cubs ever!

On Monday against the Braves, the Cubs almost hit three consecutive home runs in a game. When is the last time they actually did hit back-to-back-to-back homers?
— Nick E., Champaign, Ill.

Man, they REALLY love back-to-back homers down in Champaign-Urbana. Also, agricultural engineering.

CARRIE: Derrek Lee, Sammy Sosa and Michael Barrett did so Sept. 15, 2004, against the Pirates.

FUN FACT: Those were the last three home runs the Cubs hit during the 2004 season. MOTHER FUCKERS.

Since the Cubs traded Marlon Byrd, it has opened a spot in the outfield.

I was wondering why all those routine base hits to center field were rolling all the way to the ivy.

Is it possible that David DeJesus could play center?

IS HE LEFT-HANDED?

This would allow LaHair to play right field and Rizzo could be called up to play first. Is this possible to get Rizzo in the lineup?
— Cole V., Long Island, N.Y.

Season SAVED!

CARRIE: DeJesus has played more games in center than anywhere else in his career, so, yes, he could move over.

And, as to the second part of your question…

CARRIE:

Carrie?

CARRIE:

Carrie???

I saw Jamie Moyer pitch in Wrigley Field in 1986, his rookie season.

I saw Mark Prior pitch in Wrigley Field in 2002, his rookie season. So, we’re both retarded.

I wondered if that could have been his debut, but then read somewhere that Steve Carlton was the opposing pitcher when Moyer debuted.

“Then, I forgot about the existence of baseball-reference.com, mlb.com, espn.com, si.com, fangraphs.com, foxsports.com, cbssports.com, sports.yahoo.com, and pretty much every sports website in existence which would have allowed me to easily determine the date and opponent of Jamie Moyer’s Major League debut.”

I’m certain Carlton did not oppose Moyer in the game I witnessed. Do you know if Moyer’s maiden game was on the road in Philadelphia?
— Joseph H., Lake Ariel, Pa.

It was so long ago, HOW COULD ANYONE POSSIBLY KNOW???

CARRIE: Moyer made his Major League debut on June 6, 1986…

…at the age of 38…

CARRIE: …at Wrigley Field against the Phillies and Carlton. Moyer gave up five runs (four earned) on eight hits and three walks over 6 1/3 innings, striking out two. I don’t have data on the speed of his pitches then. Carlton took the loss, giving up four runs on six hits over 3 2/3 innings. The Cubs won, 7-5, and Moyer got his first “W.”

It’s neat that Jamie Moyer is old, I guess, but am I alone in not giving a flying fuck about anything relating to Jamie Moyer?

Do we know who will be giving the Hall of Fame induction speech for Ron Santo?
— Bob B., Frankfort, Ill.

/sets DVR

CARRIE: Santo’s wife, Vicki, will do the honors on July 22 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

/cancels scheduled recording

Everyone is wondering when Rizzo and Jackson will get called up to the big leagues.

I’m actually too busy wondering when Tony Campana is going to get called down to Iowa.

One guy I’m excited about but haven’t heard much about is Trey McNutt. Any word on how close he is to getting the call?
— Devin P., Zion, Ill.

You might say waiting for Trey McNutt is driving him…CRAZY!

CARRIE: McNutt has been bothered by blisters and just came off the disabled list. Injuries set him back last season as well. This year, in six starts with Double-A Tennessee, he’s 0-3 with a 2.66 ERA, giving up six earned runs on 16 hits and 10 walks over 20 1/3 innings.

What this franchise wants–nay, NEEDS–are more injury-prone pitchers.

Where is Junior Lake?

It’s just off 41 in Wisconsin between Lake Winnebago and Rush Lake.

I couldn’t find him on any of the Minor League rosters.
— Steve S., Florissant, Mo.

Oh.

CARRIE: Lake is now with Tennessee. The infielder had some back problems, and didn’t open the season with the Smokies, but spent time in the Cubs’ extended spring camp in Mesa, Ariz. Through Wednesday, he was 3-for-12 in three games.

I’ve seen enough. GET HIM UP HERE.

How many bunts have been attempted this season by the 2012 Cubs Spring Training bunt tournament champion, DeJesus? I don’t think it’s been that many. Why hasn’t he laid down more?
— Mike C., Peoria, Ill.

The Muskbox wants DeJesus to move to center field and bunt more. Then why do they have Tony Campana? No, seriously, WHY DO THEY HAVE TONY CAMPANA?

CARRIE: Good question.

Good answer. No, wait.

The Muskbox is Not Quite Dead Yet

I long for the days when the Muskbox was timely.

Despite appearances, I’m not letting HJE die a slow death. In fact, I’m working on another facelift for the old girl, which will probably take longer than the T79. Also, there may be a return of a beloved feature on the horizon. No, not the Shoutbox. I haven’t gotten around to that yet. In this latest episode of Muskbox, the fans lament Bryan LaHair’s lack of at-bats (DAFUQ?) and wonder what might have been for the Peoria Chiefs if Albert Pujols were still playing there. Yup. It’s gonna be THAT kind of Muskbox.

Why isn’t Bryan LaHair starting every day?

Because he basically…is? He’s started 75% of their games to this point.

He has a .300 average…

.381, but it’s pretty refreshing to see a Cubs fan UNDERvalue a player.

…he’s hitting home runs, and this is supposed to be his opportunity to show his abilities.

The True Value Cubs Caravan Circus Freak Show is finally in town!

It doesn’t make sense.
— Dean S., Goshen, Ind.

Agreed.

CARRIE: This spring, LaHair was 3-for-18 against left-handed pitchers, while hitting .349 against right-handers.

“He sucked against lefties.”
“That’s bad.”
“But that was in the spring, so the stats didn’t count.”
“That’s good!”
“But he only has one hit against lefties so far this year.”
“That’s bad.”
“But the hit was a home run.”
“That’s good!”
“The home run was cursed.”

CARRIE: If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because a lefty is starting and the Cubs want to get Jeff Baker in the mix.

Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? I mean, nothing against him personally, but Jeff Baker sucks and has absolutely no future with this team nor any trade value, no?

CARRIE: Baker has a career .309 average against left-handers, while LaHair is 1-for-7 this year, and 6-for-41 in his career against lefties. He’d like more chances against them.

He’ll show you lefties. He’ll show ALL of you lefties!

CARRIE: “I’m not afraid of left-handers,” LaHair said.

“Just spiders, dying alone, and Blake DeWitt.”

CARRIE: “I feel any time I come to the plate, I can do something, whether it’s a lefty or righty.

“I can either strike out or hit a home run, respectively!”

CARRIE: I’m on board [with sharing first], and I have a role, and I’ve accepted it.”

“I didn’t ask.”
-Dale Sveum

CARRIE: Cubs manager Dale Sveum isn’t using a strict platoon. Sveum did not lift LaHair for a pinch-hitter on Tuesday against Cardinals lefty Marc Rzepczynski…

That’s bad.

CARRIE: …and LaHair delivered a home run.

That’s good!

CARRIE: That was his first hit this season off a left-hander.

Can I go now?

“You do want to give him at-bats against lefties, you don’t want to straight platoon,” Sveum said of LaHair. “The bottom line is, Baker swings the heck out of the bat against left-handed pitching, and you have to give him at-bats, and sometimes without jeopardizing our defense in other areas, that’s the one spot Baker is going to play.”

Baker is .250/.364/.375 against lefties this year. Jeff Baker’s “swings the heck out of” is everyone else’s “tolerable.”

I was wondering if Bryan LaHair or Anthony Rizzo are serviceable at any position but first base. It seems to me that Rizzo is just wasting his time Triple-A Iowa and needs more big league at-bats. Any way to get both of them in the lineup?
— John B., Ketchikan, Alaska

Do you have any idea how many closer options you have for cheering on a baseball team than the Chicago Cubs? You are over 2,600 miles from Wrigley Field. You should just root for Russian bandy instead.

CARRIE: LaHair can play the outfield corners if necessary, but he did not play any outfield this spring.

No success against lefties, no outfield in the spring. What a sad turn of events for Bryan LaHair.

CARRIE: And to those who have suggested LaHair move to third base, that’s not going to happen.

Although there’s a way better chance of that move happening than putting Rizzo there, as previous Muskboxers suggested.

With all the talk about LaHair and Rizzo at first base, it got me thinking: How many first basemen have played for the Cubs since Mark Grace went to Arizona?
— Kevin M., Racine, Wis.

Oh, God. Oh, God, WHY WOULD YOU ASK THIS QUESTION???

CARRIE: Grace’s last season with the Cubs was in 2000. Since then, there have been 36 players who have taken a turn at first base. The list includes: Matt Stairs, Fred McGriff, Julio Zuleta, Ron Coomer, Delino DeShields, Michael Tucker, Mark Bellhorn, Hee-Seop Choi, Angel Echevarria, Robert Machado, Lenny Harris, Eric Karros, Ramon Martinez, Randall Simon, Jason Dubois, Todd Hollandsworth, Derrek Lee, Todd Walker, Scott McClain, Enrique Wilson, Henry Blanco, Jerry Hairston Jr., John Mabry, Scott Moore, Mark DeRosa, Jake Fox, Daryle Ward, Micah Hoffpauir, Baker, Xavier Nady, Tyler Colvin, LaHair, DJ LeMahieu, Carlos Pena, Steve Clevenger and Joe Mather.

And not a one of them could measure up to the cool confidence and slick fielding of Lenny Harris. Except the ACTUAL Lenny Harris, I suppose.

I saw in Parade magazine…

Though I appreciate a submitter providing more detail than, “I read somewhere,” this is probably the best example of when “I read somewhere,” would be the safest way to avoid getting your ass kicked.

…that Albert Pujols was listed as playing for the Peoria Chiefs. Is there another Peoria team not affiliated with the Cubs, or was he in the Cubs’ Minor League system? If so, how did he get there (it seems the Cubs would’ve drafted him) and why did he leave?
— John R., Pinckneyville, Ill.

So, so much is wrong here. I’ll start.

  1. assumes that minor league teams never change affiliation with the Major League club
  2. supposes if there were two minor league baseball teams in Peoria that they’d BOTH be named the Chiefs
  3. ignores the fact that if Albert Pujols had ever been in the Cubs’ minor league system, Phil Rogers would be bitching about it EVERY SINGLE DAY
  4. doesn’t understand the amateur draft
  5. can’t fathom a minor league player having basically no control over his career path

Did I miss anything?

CARRIE: The Peoria Chiefs were a Cardinals Minor League team from 1996-2004, which is when Pujols played for them. The Chiefs were affiliated with the Cubs from 1985-95, and again from 2005 to the present.

I feel like this transfer is the result of Jim Hendry having no idea how a trade for Pujols would actually work.

With Kerry Wood going down on the disabled list again this year, I feel he may not be around in the Major Leagues much longer.

Impossible. His career path trends toward him pitching well into his 40s.

Can you see Kerry staying with the Cubs as a coach after his career? I would love to see him stay in Cubbie blue.
— Nick A., Valparaiso, Ind.

Then get Ryne Sandberg to manage, bring Greg Maddux and Rick Sutcliffe back as co-pitching coaches, bring Andre Dawson and Mark Grace back as co-hitting coaches, and bring Bob Brenly in as bench coach, just to shut him the fuck up about sunglasses!

CARRIE: Wood, 34, has three young children who may want him to be their coach once his playing days are over. Right now, the focus is on this season.

Is she suggesting that Theo Epstein draft Kerry Wood’s three young children? Because, if so, BRILLIANT.

I was watching one of the Cubs-Brewers games, and the announcers were talking about a Cardinals pitcher (I’m not sure when this happened)…

“Or, really, IF it happened. Or where I am. Or why we’re all here.”

…but he left the game at Wrigley, found a trench coat and they spotted him in his uniform across the street on a rooftop cheering with fans. Can you tell me who this was?
— Jeannine W., Ashland, Wis.

But if he was wearing a trench coat, HOW DID THEY SPOT THE UNIFORM? No, no. Nothing about this story adds up at all.

CARRIE: The only pitcher I know who did that was Tom Browning, who was with the Reds. In July 1993, he snuck out of Wrigley Field and was spotted on one of the rooftops on Sheffield Avenue in uniform. He was fined $500 by Cincinnati manager Davey Johnson for the prank.

Browning had access to one of the best seats in Wrigley Field, yet he chose to go sit 450 feet from home plate instead. Only a total idiot would ever choose to do that.

What’s become of Derrek Lee? Is he still a free agent and not signed?
— Dan M., Hillside, Ill.

He’ll never work in this town again!

CARRIE: He is still a free agent and not signed — that’s correct.

Also, “Yes.”

Do the Cubs have a good shortstop at Triple-A? They have to move Starlin Castro to center field. He is not a shortstop at all, and enough is enough with the errors.
— Rick V., Woodridge, Ill.

God dammit, you suck. There is absolutely no reason not to give Starlin plenty of time right now to prove whether or not he can handle shortstop at the Major League level. If he can, awesome. If he can’t, he’s almost certainly not going to end up in center field. Incidentally, Starlin Castro can RAKE. No, that’s not a typo. That is all.

CARRIE: The Cubs’ best shortstop prospect is Junior Lake, but I think you’re writing Castro off too soon. When he was called up in May 2010, he was 20 years old and had less than 1,000 at-bats in the Minor Leagues. He may be ready offensively, but he is still learning on defense. I’m not saying Castro is a Hall of Famer…

“…because I never say anything of substance or make any real predictions in this column.”

CARRIE: …but Robin Yount made 44 errors at shortstop in his second season in 1975, and 31 more in ’76. Sveum is working with him, but there will be growing pains.

“I’m not saying Starlin Castro is A Hall of Famer, I’m saying he’s THE Hall of Famer, Robin Yount!”

The Chicago Cubs are OFF the air

Thanks DirecTV and Tribune!
If you have DirecTV, you might have already noticed: a pissing match between the CEOs of DirecTV and Tribune Broadcasting has escalated so that all Tribune Broadcasting stations, including WGN-TV and WGN America, have been pulled from DirecTV. For suckers like me, all it meant was a trip to Best Buy to purchase an HD antenna. For many others, it will just mean not being able to watch the Cubs when they open at home Thursday against Washington.

I take no side in this negotiation-gone-bad. But, DirecTV’s “bug” of not carrying WGN might be more of a feature. Let me propose this ad to fit into DirecTV’s “Get Rid of Cable” campaign:

If you have cable, you could watch WGN-TV.

Ol' Number 9.

When you can watch WGN-TV, you watch the home opener.

When you watch the home opener, you watch Ryan Dempster pitch in the home opener.

When you watch Ryan Dempster pitch in the home opener, you start having homicidal thoughts.

When you start having homicidal thoughts, you say them out loud.

D'oh

When you say homicidal thoughts out loud, your co-workers avoid you.

stay away

When your co-workers avoid you, you wind up getting fired.

shit-canned

When you wind up getting fired, you do what the other 15 percent who aren’t working do.

you oughta get a fuckin' job and learn what it is to earn a fuckin' livin'.

When you do what the other 15 percent do, you go to Wrigley Field and sit in the left field bleachers.

When you sit in the left field bleachers, you meet Al Yellon.

Uhm, isn't it the tomato inning yet?

When you meet Al Yellon, you decide to become a White Sox fan.

When you decide to become a White Sox fan, you watch the White Sox on TV.

When you watch the White Sox on TV at home, you have to listen to Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone.

When you have to listen to Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone, you decide you need to watch White Sox games at a bar with other White Sox fans so you do not have to listen to Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone.

When you watch White Sox games at a bar with other White Sox fans, you become friends with White Sox fans from Alsip.

When you become friends with White Sox fans from Alsip, you learn how to use and cook cystal methamphetamine.

When you learn how to use and cook crystal methamphetamine, you become a meth head.

Don’t become a meth head. Get rid of Cable and upgrade to DirecTV.

Call 1-800-DirecTV today.

World Series Team Can’t ID Minor League Guy

Minor League Guy plays for my favorite squadron!

Eagle-eyed reader betterorworse originally pointed me to the captioned picture. And then ‘Duk gave us some more information about it. “Minor League Guy” is one of the Cardinals’ best prospects. Can you imagine the nerve if Comcast Sports Net had DARED called Felix Pie, “Fast Guy Who Grabs His Crotch a Lot”?

I switched the comments back to Disqus, which will certainly piss the lot of you off. One happy result, however, is that you can now confidently add your own images and links to comments. So, what else has Obvious Cardinals Caption Writer been up to?





The Muskbox is on a Diet

You can run, but you can't hide.

The Muskbox has this thing about changing days, changing locations, and changing formats. The only thing that remains consistent with the Muskbox is the awful content. I don’t know if Carrie is trying to shake me off her scent or if her webhost is rejecting her insane content. Whatever the issue may be, this week’s Muskbox is tucked away in Carrie’s Muskblog. BUT I FOUND IT. Also, Carrie, thanks for adding “Q” and “A” before every new segment. It actually saves me time in Muskboxing. Seriously.

Q: Who is going to fill out the rotation this year? Is it Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Travis Wood, Chris Volstad and Paul Maholm? Can Randy Wells be optioned to Triple-A? — Matthew W., St. Peters, MO

Would that he could, Matthew. Would that he could. But I’m going to go ahead and look on the bright side for the first time in my life. If Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells are both in the rotation this year, I won’t have to watch two out of every five Cubs games!

A: Dempster, Garza and Maholm are set. That leaves Wood, Volstad, Wells, Rodrigo Lopez, Jeff Samardzija and Casey Coleman among those fighting for the final two spots. As Dale Sveum said Sunday:

“This bunting tournament is fucking METAL!!!”

“I think everybody is in the mix for those last couple spots. … It’s going to be an interesting month.”

I can’t wait to see Castro pitch his way out of a first-and-third, one-out jam!

As far as options, the only players who have less than five years of service time and are out of Minor League options are Samardzija, Marcos Mateo, Geovany Soto and Bryan LaHair. That means they would have to clear waivers before they can be sent to the Minors. Wells does have an option left.

Or there’s always other option. The one that ends in a hotel room littered with empty bottles of (1) pills and (2) Draino.

Q: It looks like we’re loaded with first basemen in the farm system with Bryan LaHair, Rebel Ridling, Justin Bour and Richard Jones and trading for Anthony Rizzo adds another great bat.

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Rewind. When one discusses the depth that the Cubs have at first base, Anthony Rizzo usually isn’t a fucking afterthought. And generally Rebel Ridling, Justin Bour, and Richard Jones aren’t mentioned before Dan Vogelbach.

What do you think the Cubs plan to do with all that talent in one position? — Mike M., Mt. Pleasant, SC

Trade it for a bag of magic beans!

A: Hopefully, they’ll find someone in that group who can be a superstar for years to come. There’s a baseball cliche that these things have a way of taking care of themselves.

That wasn’t a baseball cliche. That was the sign over the door of Jim Hendry’s office.

“Derrek Lee is hurt and the only backup first baseman on the roster is John Mabry? Don’t worry. These things have a way of taking care of themselves.”

“Greg Maddux’s career is winding up and he really wishes I’d trade him to a contender? Don’t worry. These things have a way of taking care of themselves.”

“Cholesterol is through the roof and you’re going to have to hook me up to a machine just to give me energy to sign Ted Lilly? Don’t worry. These things have a way of taking care of themselves.”

Q: In the recent compensation agreement with the Red Sox for Theo Epstein, how does the player to be named later provision work? Does the receiving team get to choose? Did they negotiate a list to choose from? Is there a deadline? Is this a way to even up the trade because Chris Carpenter for Epstein is not an even trade? Could this be part of a quiet three-way trade? — Charlie K., Valparaiso, IN

Slow down there, Charlie. Even the Muskbox can only handle so many stupid questions which are easily answered through a small amount of Google research.

A: First, there is no three-way deal, quiet or noisy.

Second, the two teams have agreed on a list of lower level prospects and they’re expected to pick those players by mid April. As far as Carpenter is concerned, he was on the Red Sox’s wish list early in the process.

Well, of COURSE the Red Sox have to say that. They don’t want to be the first team in the history of baseball to get outsmarted by the Cub front office.

Q: With Anthony Rizzo being the first baseman of the future for the Cubs, when he eventually comes up, do you think there is any possibility the Cubs move Bryan LaHair to third base?

Ha ha ha ha ha! But, hey, at least this retard didn’t suggest putting a lefty at third base.

I’d love to get his big left-handed bat at the hot corner.

And so on this day, I discovered the easiest way to accidentally get buttfucked.

Could he be like a Troy Glaus perhaps? — Eric L., Glen Burnie, MD

Not even Troy Glaus wants to be like Troy Glaus.

A: LaHair is quicker this spring, he’s stronger, he can crush a baseball, but he’s not a third baseman.

No reason. No explanation. Just pure Carrie.

Q: There was a report that the Cubs chef does not prepare red meat meals. Without further knowledge of the players’ nutrition guidelines, I think…

…I have every right to comment on the players’ nutrition!

…the lack of red meat in a male athlete’s diet is a major mistake. Red meat is a staple to an athletes’ diet.

Like cigarettes, eggs, whole milk, and loose women! Because it’s 1953 where I am!

Are all meals prepared by the team chef? Can you please provide more details about the athletes’ diet? — Patrick G., Washington, DC

I’d just like to dispel the rumor that red meat is even remotely necessary for a professional athlete with the following video, featuring a vegan who could kick the unholy shit out of anyone on the Cubs’ roster.

A: The Cubs have hired a company called “Cookin’ on Wood,” which…

…was named by a bunch of seventh graders.

…provides breakfast and lunch each day in Spring Training. They handle about nine Major League teams in the Phoenix area. The players eat chicken, fish, and turkey, and lots of vegetables.

Wholesome, delicious chicken and turkey.

Said chef John Droghetti: “Everyone has open minds and open mouths.” The team also has a nutritionist on staff. I don’t know what the players eat for dinner but I’m guessing they can get their red meat at that time if they want.

WINK.

Phil Rogers Would Take Five Sam Fulds Over One Matt Garza, THANKYOUVERYMUCH

He can't even write a convincing smile.

The headline writers at the Chicago Tribune generally do a pretty good job coming up with descriptions of Phil Rogers’ nonsense that actually make the nonsense seem readable. But there are times when no amount of creative juice can hide the fact that Phil Rogers is a terrible writer during the full swing of the baseball season, so during the offseason he has to write dreck like, “A year later, what was point of Garza trade?

With a strong breeze blowing through the pine trees and palmetto bushes, the Tampa Bay Rays walked out of their clubhouse and down a stone path, headed toward back diamonds for practice. They walked alone or in groups of twos and threes, and, to be fair, they weren’t all former Cubs.

Phil truly makes F. Scott Fitzgerald look like Stephanie Meyer.

Only half of them.

Half of the guys on the Rays’ roster have connections to the Cubs? Really?

OK, not really.

JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY.

But the five guys who Jim Hendry sent to Tampa Bay for Matt Garza are conspicuously on display for a team that is successfully mixing a small budget with big expectations.

Oh, shit. Did everyone forget to invite Phil to the press conferences announcing the firing of Jim Hendry and the subsequent hiring of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer? Because that would be AWESOME.

Outfielders Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer and catcher Robinson Chirinos all made the Rays’ 2011 team picture…

Guyer had 41 at-bats in 2012. Chirinos had 55. ALL OF THEM CRUCIAL.

…with Fuld turning into a cult hero during the unlikely ride from a 1-8 start to a wild card appearance in the 2011 playoffs.

The Legend of Sam Fuld: .240/.313/.360

It is truly a tale that Rays fans will be telling their grandchildren for years to come.

Shortstop Hak-Ju Lee and right-hander Chris Archer profile as significant pieces for the organization’s future.

I’m not saying that Lee and Archer aren’t going to be decent players. I’m just saying that I wouldn’t trust Phil Rogers to evaluate the quality of my Netflix Instant Watch streaming video.

“I don’t think any of those guys have done things we didn’t expect them to,” Rays general manager Andrew Friedman said. “It’s not like any of them had a year where they just blew the doors down. They’re all good players, they play the game fundamentally well and that fits with our organization. They’re part of the depth that we believe in, and that’s why we made that trade.”

“Also, we couldn’t afford to keep paying Matt Garza. Did I mention that part? That it was a decision motivated quite a bit by the salaries of the respective players involved? I don’t want to call it a salary ‘dump’ per se, but we certainly would have loved to still have had Matt Garza last year during the playoffs.”

So much for the wisdom of trying to patch things together on a year-to-year basis, as Hendry worked to do in three different periods of the Cubs’ ownership.

Maybe that’s why he got fired. For performing terribly at his job. I understand why this might be a completely foreign concept to Phil, but most of the American workforce has to worry about it.

The Rays have gone to the playoffs three of the last four seasons by building from the ground up, in the style that the Ricketts family is attempting to emulate.

Wait. Let’s get something straight. The Ricketts family still has no fucking clue how to manage or build a baseball team. I’m very excited that the Ricketts family is, apparently, self-aware enough to realize that they have no fucking clue how to manage or build a baseball team. They finally hired some people who know what the hell they’re doing and will hopefully fix the mess that they’ve made. But until the Rickettses fire Crane Kenney…out of a cannon…into a wall made of razor blades…covered in hantavirus…they have no idea how to run a front office.

With Tom Ricketts giving Theo Epstein a five-year window to succeed after identifying him as Hendry’s replacement, the Cubs no longer seem to have the fear of failure that was behind the Garza trade.

Wait, why? That sentence means absolutely nothing. The Cubs hired the best baseball executive on the market and probably HAD to give him five years to convince him to leave Boston. How does that even remotely connect to their “fear of failure”? If anything, paying a lot of money to get the best executive in baseball makes me think they’re MORE afraid of being unsuccessful. But I guess that’s probably because I think about words before I type them.

It gave the Cubs one starting pitcher who is better than any of their holdovers but, like the Edwin Jackson trade that cost the White Sox a long-term starter in Daniel Hudson, it always begged a question: What was the point?

To improve the team with a pitcher still in his prime for a price cheaper than the bloated contracts of Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano.

Also, I feel like a professional journalist should understand what the phrase “begging the question” actually means. Because Phil used it completely incorrectly.

Hendry said he wouldn’t have done it if he didn’t have Garza under control for three years, but multiple players are more valuable than one arm for a rebuilding team.

Ah, we’re back to Phil’s brilliant plus-one system of evaluating trades. To sum it up, if you traded Jeff Samardzija and Darwin Barney for Justin Verlander, you lost the trade because you gave up TWO Major League players for only ONE. Idiot.

That’s why Epstein and his staff are having a hard time figuring out what to do with Garza, who is two years away from free agency.

They’re not trying to figure out what to do with Garza. If they get a good offer for Garza, they’re going to trade him. If they don’t, they’re going to keep him and watch him continue to be the best pitcher on the team.

The Cubs don’t seem to know whether they want to sign the 28-year-old to a five-year deal that would cost them at least $75 million, trade him when someone makes an offer they deem strong enough or let the situation percolate until the answer becomes clear. It’s fair to say the Rays haven’t missed Garza.

Especially not in the playoffs, when two of their starters combined for a total of 9 innings and a 10.00 ERA.

Friedman, who has morphed from an unknown…

Unknown only by people who don’t do their research and- Oh, never mind.

…into one of the game’s most respected thinkers in seven years, knows he made a great trade when he dealt Garza to create room in the rotation for Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson…

I don’t want to speak for this mysterious Friedman character, but I’m pretty sure he would have rather moved Wade Davis or Jeff Niemann out of the rotation and kept Garza.

…just as he knows he made a good deal when he sent Delmon Young, the first overall pick in the 2003 draft, to Minnesota for Garza after the ’07 season.

Since Phil Rogers can’t be bothered to do his job properly, please don’t misread that to say that the Twins traded Garza straight up for Delmon Young. The Twins gave up Eduardo Morlan and Jason Bartlett for Brendan Harris, Jason Pridie, and Young. Still an overall win for the Rays, but Young did drive in 112 runs for the Twins in 2010. What I’m saying is Phil Rogers is incompetent.

For everything the Rays got in the five seasons they had Young and Garza…

Please note that the Rays had Garza for exactly two seasons, in 2006 and 2007. At no point in the existence of MLB baseball in Tampa Bay did the Rays have Delmon Young and Matt Garza. I understand what that sentence is SUPPOSED to say. I’m just saying that sentence doesn’t say that at all.

…including Garza’s ALCS Game 7 victory over the Red Sox to send Tampa Bay to the World Series in 2008, they never paid more than $3.7 million a year to either of them (that was Young’s signing bonus). The Cubs will pay Garza $9.5 million this year, and more in 2013 if they keep him.

The Cubs will pay Ryan Dempster $14M this year to wear fish ties and put Icy Hot in Starlin Castro’s jock. Direct your pointless outrage toward his useless ass.

Fuld, who was considered a minor part in the deal, got 308 at-bats and made the catch of the year for the Rays.

I’D TRADE MATT GARZA RIGHT BACK TO THE RAYS IN EXCHANGE FOR ONE SINGLE OUT!!!

Chirinos, who was traded on the heels of a breakout 2010 season…

Huh. I always thought a “breakout season” meant a player’s stats unexpectedly showed incredible improvement. Not that a player steadily improved in the minor leagues at a incredibly consistent pace. My mistake.

…is battling Jose Lobaton for the backup catcher’s job behind Jose Molina. Guyer, who hit .312 with 14 homers in Triple A, is battling for a bench job.

“Sure wish we had him 5 years ago.”
“We did.”
“Ten years, then.”

But it was Lee and Archer who were the headliners in the trade, and their stock has increased.

SELL! SELL! SELL!

Lee, 21, won a batting title in the Florida State League and is ranked as the Rays’ No. 2 prospect by Baseball America. Both he and Archer, who is penciled into the rotation for Triple-A Durham, could force their way into the picture later this season.

“Penciled into the rotation,” “force their way into the picture,” “shitty, hacky sports cliches.”

Handling any of these five guys should be relatively easy. The Cubs, however, will have to double down on Garza or cash out in a big way if they’re going to make this trade work for them.

There you go, Theo Epstein. Phil Rogers has ruined another 1,000 words of English just to point out what you’ve been trying to do all offseason. FIX HENDRY’S MISTAKES, THEO!

The Muskbox is High on Tony Campana’s Speed

And if she's obsessed with three things...

If there’s one thing Carrie Muskat is obsessed with, it’s bobby pins. If there are two things she is obsessed with, those things are bobby pins and tiny, bad baseball players. That’s probably why her last two articles have had more Tony Campana in them than his baseball hat does. Yes, this week’s Muskbox is seriously discussing a guy who really shouldn’t be on the roster by the end of February. Love the Muskbox or hate it. At least it’s consistent.

Yoenis Cespedes is getting all the attention, but I like the idea of the Cubs signing Jorge Soler. He’s younger, which seems to be the direction things are going. Are the Cubs seriously pursuing Soler?
— Andy S., Iowa City, Iowa

I sure hope so. If they sign him and he’s terrible, I have some sweet Soler Plexus jokes ready for the B126.

CARRIE: The Cubs have been reported as the front-runner to sign 19-year-old Cuban outfielder Soler, but team officials are keeping quiet.

That’s because Jed Hoyer doesn’t actually exist. HOYER DURDIN.

CARRIE: Considering how the “mystery team” has been the winner in the bidding for Cespedes, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder this offseason, I wouldn’t order a uniform for Soler just yet.

I’m guessing Cubs.com isn’t too happy that you’re poo-pooing their jersey sales.

CARRIE: There also are reports the Cubs signed 19-year-old Cuban pitcher Gerardo Concepcion, although the team has yet to officially confirm that.

“The first rule of Gerardo Concepcion is that you do not talk about Gerardo Concepcion.”
-Hoyer Durdin

CARRIE: Soler is waiting for clearance from Major League Baseball before he can be declared a free agent.

I’m sure Bud Selig will get around to it just as soon as he completes the Theo Epstein compensation talks. Seriously, Bud. You are a penis.

Aren’t the Cubs older in the outfield this year than last? Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, Reed Johnson and David DeJesus are all past their prime. When do we see youth out there?
— Lee B., Idaho Falls, Idaho

I wouldn’t worry too much. I don’t suspect Soriano or Byrd will be Cubs come August.

CARRIE: The youth is coming in Brett Jackson and Matt Szczur. When? That’s up to them and their development.

There’s your starting outfield for 2013 in U.S. Cellular Field!

CARRIE: The projected starting outfield will be slightly younger than one year ago because DeJesus, 32, is two years younger than Kosuke Fukudome, 34. You’ll see a new Byrd, 34, this year after he changed his diet and dropped about 40 pounds.

He cut off 1/3 of one of his legs?

CARRIE: Soriano just turned 36 and will likely get more days off to stay fresh. That’s why players like Campana and Dave Sappelt are important because they’ll be needed to sub.

“I hate useless players like Tony Campana.”
-Theo Epstein

CARRIE: Johnson provides energy, too. What’s held him back are back issues.

How long has he had a weak back?

I loved Campana last season…

You are an imbecile.

…his energy and the speed he brings is great.

If you’re starting a track team.

Do you see the Cubs trying to develop him more in the Minors or use his speed on the basepaths off the bench in the Majors this year?
— Devin P., Zion, Ill.

He’s going to be 26 years old this season. I think he’s done developing. If he doesn’t fit into that hat now, he’s never going to.

CARRIE: Manager Dale Sveum has said he’d consider inserting Campana into the leadoff spot.

Subsequently, Theo Epstein said he’d consider firing the shit out of Dale Sveum.

CARRIE: That said, Campana has to show he can get on base consistently to use his speed.

Or at all!