Let's get Stuck in Again -- Oh, and this is a real rambler
If a relaxing moment turns into the right moment, will you be ready? You can be with 36-hour KERRY WOOD. That's because KERRY WOOD works up to 36 hours, and in some men works as fast as 30 minutes. So with 36-hour KERRY WOOD you don't have to plan, you don't have to rush, and you don't have to worry about time.* You can just let that special moment happen like you want to.
The question of the day.
So, an 15-day suspension for kicking Dusty in the shins has been served (with 3 days cut for good behavior), and we're ready to tuck in again with all the passion, fire and style of another Rolling Stones tour.
In the last 11 days of darkness, the Cubs have been surprisingly bright, posting a 7-4 spurt, scoring 62 and allowing 44. With Nomar on the mend in Peoria and reliever Scott Williamson turning up in rehab after Tommy John surgery (20 pounds lighter! Now with added guile!), this team might not be scrubbed after all. If only we could figure out how to let Kerry Wood pitch without hurting himself. Does it say anything in baseball by-laws about the illegality of replacement shoulders?
The Wood situation really is frustrating. Dogged in the early part of his career, he'll end up as one of those guys with all the wasted talent in the world. Like Mr. Holland's Opus II: The Rock-Opera Years. Like KC and the Sunshine Band. Like Eric Crouch, Harry Potter and Jeremy Roenick's career in public speaking.
It always amused me how K-Err-y Wood has been followed around (albeit slowly) by expectations of greatness. He always looked like (and still does) a great power pitcher, but his stats (like stats do) fail to justify the love. Never a winner of more than 14 games, his best years were 1998 (his first) and 2003:
13-6, 3.40 ERA
26 GS, 167 2/3 IP, 85 BB, 233 K
14-11, 3.20 ERA
32 GS, 211 IP, 100 BB, 266 K
70-53, 3.68 ERA
174 GS, 1097 IP, 533 BB, 1269 K
(roughly 6 1/3 IP per start)
I'd be interested to see how many pitches he's thrown in the Major Leagues, just to get an idea of how he's held up to the workload.
Not only is he on the 15-day DL, but he might require off-season surgery (again), and, when he comes back, he might move to the bullpen. Clearly Dusty loves Francona in that awkward, band-camp sort of way, but this might be a situation where Wood is better off, just to get through the end of the season with him being useful to the team. Rusch is dropping big time (despite some solid work vs. the Cardinals this weekend), so a guy like Wood threatening to take away pitching appearances might prove inspirational in the long run.
The upside to Wood's pains is the re-re-reemergence of Rich Hill. After an excellent relief outing against the Brewers in June, Hill was always the favourite to come back up and slide into the rotation (where he should be). It's no coincidence that every trade offer the Cubs have heard involve a package of prospects where Rich Hill is the diamond. Maybe other GMs think that by mentioning him in a list surrounded by other players, we won't notice, but honestly, Hill is one of the franchise's future all-stars.
His fastball needs a little better location, but that Zito-esque curveball is nastier than Alice Cooper. So far this season, Hill's seen big-league action in 4 games. His ERA will eventually calm down, but 14 Ks in 10 2/3 IP is evidence enough that he will be superb at the Major League level. Barrett is a good fit for him, and last night, Hill made it through 5 2/3 of tense baseball, allowing 2 ER on 5 hits. Dusty, don't screw this one up.
Tonight sees Maddux take the stage, needing only 2 strikeouts to join the 300 wins/3000 Ks club. It's an elite club, population: 8.
Phil Niekro (318 W, 3342 K)
Nolan Ryan (324 W, 5714 K)
Steve Carlton (329 W, 4136 K)
Roger Clemens (328 W, 4317 K)
Tom Seaver (311 W, 3640 K)
Gaylord Perry (314 W, 3534 K)
Don Sutton (324 W, 3574 K)
Walter Johnson (417 W, 3508 K)
I think he'll get there tonight against the Giants, although the Bay Area Bonds-less ballclub are ranked 29th in the league (that's second-to-last) in strikeouts as a team, whiffing 507 times this season. The interesting thing about this: their neighbours, the Oakland A's, are 30th. What these footloose and fancy-free teams don't realise is a team that swings together, stays together.
SF: LHP Noah Lowry • 6-10, 4.69 ERA in 2005 • 1-0, 2.45 ERA vs. CHC in 2004
CHC: RHP Greg Maddux • 8-7, 4.55 ERA in 2005 • 1-0, 5.25 ERA vs. SF in 2004
Aramis Ramirez is batting .444 over the last 11 games, slamming 8 home runs and pocketing 16 RBIs. Look for him to barbeque Lowry's repertoire this evening. If he doesn't, pretend that he did so I continue to be correct.
More later -- some headlines, some bottled-up anger, and some more idle conjecture from the same beer-soaked staff.