Paul Sullivan on the Cubs

The Cubs are getting ready for the Red Sox, and Ask Paul is ready to answer your questions about Matt Clement, Yosh Kawano and whether most Tribsters are Cubs or White Sox fans.

This team is absolutely dead. It's almost June and they are getting worse, not better. Even if they get all of their injured players back, it still would not energize this team. Please tell me that Jim Hendry will soon start dealing players, either for prospects or for some new blood. I cannot believe how useless several of the players are. --Scott Rosenberg, Charlotte, N.C.

Imagine waking up every morning and having about two dozen e-mails like this waiting in your inbox? Welcome to Ask Paul's world.

The Cubs seem to designate a pitcher each year, usually one of their best, who is given no run support. Last year it was Matt Clement. Lately, Carlos Zambrano seems to be on the receiving end of this unfortunate honor. Is this a psychological thing? Maybe the Tribune will pay for some group counseling. --Greg Haab, Urbana, Ill.

This happens to just about every team in every season. Cubs fans seem to take it more personally than others, perhaps as part of their persecution complex.

Remind me again why the Cubs didn't re-sign Clement. I wasn't quite sure what they planned to do with the money they saved. --Dan Marx, Fairport, N.Y.

As you recall, Clement was removed from the rotation at the end of 2004, which coincided with the Cubs collapse, even though his replacement, Glendon Rusch, pitched well. The idea was that Rusch was a cheaper and better alternative to Clement, and that Angel Guzman would be ready by June or July. Guzman is at Double-A and remains out until July (at least) with a forearm strain. Rusch is one of the Cubs' most valuable players both in the pen and in the rotation, where he should remain for the rest of the season. Clement seems happy, so be happy for him.

How would you explain the ascension of Glendon Rusch? Two years ago this guy was a doormat, now he is probably the team's best pitcher. He seemed to become great overnight. There must be some explanation. --Shane Heilman, Sioux Falls, S.D.

I can't answer it. He was always considered to be a guy with a good arm with no results. I think last year's success helped him gain confidence, and now he realizes he's one of the best left-handers around, and it's reflected in his numbers.

Do any Cubs players ever smile while being interviewed or do they save that for their personal time away from the ballpark. Whether they win or lose, they all seem to have the same expression. Who do you think smiles the most in the clubhouse? --Ken Loredo, Franklin Park, Ill.

Definitely the writers.

Yo, Paul. How is the support of the Cubbies at the Tribune? I don't mean from a corporate standpoint, I'm talking fan support from the folks working there. Do you guys have Cubs mousepads and mugs? Can they put the game on in the office and root for the team? Is there any static with the Sox fans? Fill me in, buddy. --William Burke, Tokyo

Yo, William. Believe it or not, the Tribune is infiltrated with Sox fans, including many of the higher-ups who sit in offices with a great view. Most of the Cubs supporters keep it to themselves, for fear of getting jumped by the Sox fans. One former Tribune Co. chairman who ran the Cubs for years, grew up as a Sox fan. I'll leave him nameless so we can have another special edition of Ask Paul in two weeks.

You Chicago sportswriters are too good at your jobs. You have to post a column almost every day during the season and you're forced to find juicy stories. This year has been mostly free of that muckraking, but I can think of a couple instances where Dusty accused somebody of fishing for a story that wasn't there by framing questions to a particular Cub who wants to play second base every day. This type of thing adds stress to the poor, pathetic players and seems to happen only in the largest markets. Does feeding the monster hurt the Cubs? --Joe Alberts, Chicago

Feeding the goat is the proper term, and it has nothing to do with the famous tavern goat that allegedly cursed the Cubs in 1945. It's true that some players do not perform well in big-market cities with lots of media, but just as many don't perform in one-paper cities with hardly any media. I don't believe in the concept of media-related stress, but I always like to hear a wacky theory or two.

Cub fans here in Houston have taken the LaTroy Hawkins trade hard. Do you think when LaTroy goes into the Hall of Fame he will wear a Twins, Cubs or Giants hat? --Bob Butler, Houston

Sorry, no more LaTroy bashing here from bitter Cubs fans. Try "Ask Ray Ratto" at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Maybe I've missed this, but my husband and I have been wondering about Yosh Kawano. Any info? --Jan Burton, Norman, Okla.

He's still working in the visitor's clubhouse at Wrigley and penning his tell-all book, "Yoshed!"

Can I get the that you cut off? I want to see how much I can get on eBay. --Allan Johnson, Chicago

Sorry, it's on loan to the Pasadena Baseball Reliquary. If you've never heard of it, check out this story in our sister paper, the Los Angeles Times (registration required).

If Dusty is running out of ideas to find runs, why not explore (as ridiculous as it may sound) the possibility of having 46-year-old Rickey Henderson leadoff for the team? Rickey is playing minor league ball in Southern California with the intent of getting back to the major-league level. I haven't seen him play and don't know if he could be an adequate addition to the team, but hey, we are getting deeper into the season and there doesn't appear to be an end in sight for the Cubs offensive (sorry for the pun) woes. --Jim Laitner, Santa Rosa, Calif.

Yes, that really is as ridiculous as it sounds.

In a previous column, you said that, "Even though I am allowed to fly on the Cubs charter if my company pays for the ticket, I do not fly on the Cubs charter." Doesn't your "company" pay for the whole cost of the Cubs' charter anyway? Isn't it bad for shareholders to pay extra for a commercial airline ticket? Couldn't that money be used for some relief pitching? --Christian Lane, Chicago

Sorry, but I need my guaranteed, premier executive aisle seat, not getting sandwiched in between Ryan Dempster and Cliff Bartosh on a 4-hour flight. Some things are more important than saving money.

What's with Todd Wellemeyer the song "Jump"? What does he consider a more modern song, something by Britney Spears? Paul, maybe you should conduct a survey of the best on-field song? For me, it might be, "Hey Hey, Holy Mackerel," though the part about the Cubs "hitting today" might not be so relevant to this year's squad. --Kelli Stebel, Chicago

I already did that last year in Ask Paul, and I still regret it to this day. Here's a novel idea: How about the players running out to their positions to start the game with no music, and just the fans cheering, like the prehistoric days?

The correct pronunciation of "Dubois" is "dew-boys" as opposed to "dew-girls." I'm used to the question since I came from a small town in Wyoming by the same name. This is the official Chamber of Commerce response. I enjoy your interviews during rain delays. --Dave Martin, Dubois, Wy.

Thanks for the information, and please, no mentions of rain delays.

Does the volume of letters or questions you receive vary depending on certain events, like the Cubs winning so many games in a row or Nomar getting injured? Or do Cub fans just never let up? --Claire Huber, Chicago

As you can tell by my frequent snarkiness, they never let up until the off-season, when they can no longer reach me. Cubs fan have a lot of questions, and unfortunately for them, I have no good answers.

I'm always curious about the dirt that goes down between the Cubs when the cameras aren't rolling, and I was wondering if you knew about any players that don't get along? --Ashley Werner, Long Grove, Ill.

As far as I know, they are one happy family, just like the Osbournes. But you'll have to read my tell-all book to get the real dirt.

Thanks for all the relevant e-mails. If I'm not back in two weeks, please notify the authorities.

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