Paul Sullivan's answers

Paul Sullivan is back to answer his first batch of Cubs questions, and he also has some questions of his own for curious Cubs fans.

Has Kerry Wood lost any velocity since his major surgery a few years back? If I remember right, he was consistently clocked at 97-98 mph in his rookie year. What's his fastball clocking at nowadays? --Vinson Lew, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Here's what Wood had to say when I asked him your question on Monday: "It's there, if not a little bit better. It's more consistent (now). I topped out about the same, but I consistently throw harder than I did before the surgery. I vary. One start I'll be (averaging) 96-97, and the next I'd be 92-94. It's been consistent since last year. My rookie year, I was touching on 98, 98, but I had no idea where it was going."

Hi, Paul, who's going away when Antonio Alfonseca returns? Seems like the whole pen is going aces at the moment. Hate to upset the chemistry. Quite a riddle, no? --Dave Snyder, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Alfonseca is expected back soon after the Cubs begin a nine-game homestand on May 2, meaning one of the relievers must be demoted or traded. The most likely choice would appear to be Juan Cruz, whose hot start in New York is quickly fading from view. Whether the Cubs would deal someone with his potential is the obvious question, but they could send him to Iowa and get him back in a starting mode.

Paul, I was wondering if there has ever been a better combined pitching performance in MLB history in terms of strikeouts versus walks than Wednesday's duel between Mark Prior and Javier Vasquez. Is the combined K versus BB ratio of the game (27-0 including Expos relievers) the highest ever? --Todd Feurer, Chicago

According to Elias Sports Bureau, it was the highest in any major league game since at least 1900, when the modern era began.

I've always wondered why the Cubs broadcast several games every year locally on WCIU. Aren't they losing revenue by not broadcasting them on FSN or WGN? And why does it seem that the games on WCIU are almost always night games at Wrigley? And does this anger the fans of the quality programming at Ch. 26, like elimidate, Judge Mathis or Fresh Prince of Bel Air? --Rob Zeis, Des Moines, Iowa

The Cubs like having games on WCIU because of Ch. 26's rich history of broadcasting. I fondly recall coming home from school and watching "Soul Train" every day at 4:30 on Ch. 26, so I will not have you disparage this fine Chicago institution.

Paul, can you compare Kerry Wood now to the Kerry Wood-pre elbow surgery? Does he have as much velocity as before? Thanks. --Mike Phipps, Greenwood, Ind.

Looks like the same old Kerry Wood to me, especially since he just shaved. Why are Cubs fans so obsessed with Kerry Wood's velocity?

What happened to Clement's goatee? Seems Wood has lost his also. -- Joe Landry, Cary, N.C.

Sources tell me they both shaved. Why are Cubs fans so obsessed with their pitchers' facial hair?

What's the story with Luis Montanez? I see he's back in Class A. Is he still a prospect? --Wade Nelson, River Forest

Montanez's defense- 38 errors at short last year at Class A Daytona- did not merit a promotion. As the third player selected in the 2000 draft, Montanez needs to show vast improvement before he goes down alongside the likes of Ty Griffin, Earl Cunningham and Brooks Kieschnick, wasted first-round draft picks of the recent Cubs past.

Why hasn't Gil Thorp been printed in the past week or so? --Frank Dziedzic, Lindenhurst, Ill.

Gil has been put on waivers after a long and distinguished career in the Tribune sports section. I believe the evil Marty Moon finally did him in. He can still be read online however.

Alou is starting off good and hopefully (remains good) the rest of the season. I know he has one more year on his contract, but if Vladimir Guerrero is available do you think the Cubs will give him the cash to play for the Cubs? --Stephanie Fleming, Chicago

Uh, no.

When it comes time for Cubs' pitching prospects like Angel Guzman and company, who is going to be the odd man out of the rotation? The Cubs are going to have an overabundance of good, young, starting pitching, what will they do with the surplus of talent? --Danny Kroll, Lincolnwood, Ill.

This is a problem the Cubs haven't experienced in my lifetime, so it will be interesting to see what happens when Guzman, Beltran and Brownlie are all ready. Prior, Zambrano and Cruz figure to be in the rotation for years, and if the Cubs can find enough money to keep Kerry Wood from bolting after 2004, that's four mainstays. Guzman looked in spring training like he's already ready. Quite a dilemma, but a good one for once.

Paul, first off, it's great to have you back on the Cubs beat! My question is, who is the white-haired woman behind the visitor's dugout at every game? She's been there forever, and they always show her during the seventh inning stretch. She's always waving to the camera and singing along. --Mike Paradoski, St. Louis

First off, it's great to be back at Wrigley Field. My answer is, how in the world am I supposed to know the name of the white-haired woman sitting behind the visitor's dugout? And why are you obsessed with finding out about this white-haired woman? Shouldn't you be obsessing about the strikeouts like the rest of Cubs fans?

So, is Sammy just off to a typical slow April start, or have the other guys finally found a way to stop him? --Rick Hauptmann, Portales, N.M.

As I write this, Sammy is hitting .300, taking his walks, going to the opposite field and becoming more of a team leader than he has in the past. If you're talking about the fact that he has only one home run, consider the fact that only two of the first 12 games have been played in decent weather conditions. I wouldn't worry about Sammy at this stage.

Why don't the Cubs put a minor-league team in Wrigley Field, build a new stadium, sign Vladimir Guerrero and re-sign Sammy? --John Olson, Bloomington, Ill.

Sounds like a plan. But let's run it past Mayor Daley first.

Why does the Tribune discourage us from asking you and other reporters/columnists for your opinion? Aren't we entitled to your insights, and aren't those insights part opinion? Further, aren't columnists, by definition, supposed to be writing their opinions? Doesn't make sense. --Ken Dove, Hamden, Conn.

I'd answer your question, but it might involve giving my opinion, so I'll have to pass. By the way, I'm not a Tribune columnist. I just play one on TV.

How does Dusty Baker keep the clubhouse so vibrant, as opposed to Baylor and Kimm? What's his secret? --Dave Eichenstein, Denver

Calgon. It's an ancient Chinese secret.

What is the post-game process for the Cubs (or any baseball team, for that matter)? Does Dusty Baker address the team as a whole or does he talk to the guys one on one? And after every game or just the tough wins or loses? Do players add their two cents on a regular basis or does it all depend on the game or how the team is playing? --Matt Kruse, Chicago

I'm not in the clubhouse to see what Baker does or says, but few managers speak to the team after every game, and some never talk to the team as a whole during the entire season. The rah-rah stuff is very retro. Modern day players get paid too much to pay attention to a post-game pep talk that's longer than the traditional: "Let's get 'em tomorrow."

Glad to see you've switched back over to covering the Cubs. I like Bellhorn and would love his bat to come around, but, at best, he will probably still be vulnerable to the strikeout and remain a liability in the field. What are the chances of the Cubs upgrading third through a trade for someone like a Shea Hillenbrand? --Duke Barlow, Breckenridge, Col.

Mr. Sullivan, from my perspective, the Cubs have the flexibility with both players and cash to make a trade and help the team. Do you anticipate Jim Hendry pulling off a trade to help the club? --Jim Devors, Aroma Park, Ill.

Duke and Jim, I do anticipate Hendry pulling off a trade, but not two weeks into the season. If Bellhorn doesn't establish himself as an everyday player at third, Hendry will likely look into his options elsewhere, using the Cubs young pitching talent as his bait. But he's not going to give up on Bellhorn or anyone else this early in the season.

You guys rule. GO CUBS. We've been Cubs fans all our lives and always wanted to see a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. But we're both poor and we're just wondering if you could send us two tickets to any home game? It would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. --Matt Marchinowski and Tom Baumgardt, Ripon, Wis.

I don't know how this wound up in my e-mail box, but if anyone wants to purchase two tickets for these two poor cheeseheads, let me know and I will forward them to them.

It appears as if the Sox are loaded with outstanding pitchers in the minors-you know their names as well as I do. Yet, we signed a number of pitching vets (White, Gordon, Loaiza). Is there a feeling among Sox pitchers in the minors that there will be no spot for them on the Sox, even if they do well? --Jim Foster, Denver

Yo, Jim, thanks for the question, which I will forward to Ask Teddy. Please be advised that I no longer cover the White Sox, though they are still in my thoughts and I do miss hearing from bitter, ticked off Sox fans.