Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Return of THS.

The Cubs stopped sawing at the umbilical cord that had kept them attached to Mark Prior long enough to realize that they were fraying instead his rotator cuff, labrum, and ..."shoulder capsule." This comes as no surprise to anyone that saw the 80-87 mph fastball he brought to spring training. It does, however, mean that I have won a gentleman's wager with the A-Train, who was convinced that Prior's inability to pitch after being overloaded by Baker in 2003 had more to do with a "low tolerance for pain" and "being a girl," and while the A-Train was not the only sports blogger who felt that it was a matter of genitalia, it must be noted that however married public opinion might be to the belief that women are less tolerant of pain, there is no empirical evidence to support this, and plenty to the contrary.

Anyway, it's April and the Cubs are off to an 8-13 start. Soriano has been an essentially ineffective addition to this team, and while he's sure to heat up...with the weather...I guess -- is anyone else tired of hearing this--he's not going to just start driving in anyone other than himself when he does, because the Cubs, like an unbelievable majority of disillusioned baseball fans, feel that he belongs at the top of the order, batting after Cesar Izturis and pitchers not named Carlos Zambrano (who should bat before Izturis).

On top of that, and this is important, if you take out last year, his AVG and OBP are essentially identical to his career averages. He'll slug more, but he's only on pace to play 140 games and score 70 runs--a lot less than you'd like out of your leadoff hitter, even if you give him twenty extra runs for the homers he might have over every other leadoff hitter. Not very reassuring.

At least, in wake of Soriano's hamstring injury last week, the Cubs had the good sense to call up Real Center Fielder, Felix Pie. He had absolutely torn up AAA so far at .444/.543/.583, with nine walks and only five Ks in 39 AB. However, the Cubs outfield is already crowded, with Floyd, Murtron, Jones, and now Pie fighting for two positions and only Soriano guaranteed to play every day. Trading Jones would make the most sense, as he has a small enough contract that even a small market team could afford him, but veteran outfielders like Floyd and Jones tend to go more toward the trading deadline and at this pace the Cubs won't need to worry about competing this year.

We'll try to get back into the swing of things this week, as I'll be taking a non-baseball-related trip to Philadelphia that will give me the time to provide a few updates and dust off a few of the things we've been working on, including pieces on Carlos Marmol, Jerome Williams, Matt Murton, the Weak Sisters, and my first trip to Wrigley Field this year (Wednesday vs. Milwaukee), as well as A-Train and I arguing about Soriano's effectiveness leading off.

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