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Ask Paul returns to address the glut of outfielders, the Theriot dilemma, Lou's press conferences and other extremely relevant issues:
Against the Nationals, I noticed whenever a Cub got a hit they would look toward the dugout and do a pointing/wagging celebratory thing and after the game when they were walking through the high-five line they had their index finger and pinky up as they gave their congrats. Is that "Cubbie Swagger"? Either way I liked it! --Josh Burgland, Macomb, Ill.
Didn't notice the finger-pointing/wagging celebratory thing. I assume it's a spin-off on Zambrano's finer-pointing/wagging celebratory thing, but I could be wrong. Not sure if that's what Lou was talking about when he mentioned Cubbie Swagger in spring training, but I'll monitor the situation and get back to you.
Who are the fastest Cubs? I pick Soriano, Marquis and Theriot. Also, are there any other teams that use a pitcher as their primary pinch-runner? --Mike Lojkovic, Monterey, Calif.
Felix Pie was the fastest Cub until he was sent down. Soriano has been plagued by the hamstring, leaving Theriot as the new fastest Cub. He certainly looks comfortable in that leadoff spot, and it looks like Lou is planning on keeping him there and moving Soriano to second when D-Lee returns. That would seem to be a good move, since Soriano strikes out a lot for a leadoff guy.
With Pie sent down, the Cubs lack a single outfielder who can throw and catch to play either right or center field. Shouldn't you write that the Cubs combine a surplus of left-fielders with a shortage of right- and center-fielders, rather than a glut of outfielders? --Bob Smart, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Too wordy. I don't get that much space.
About which topic do people like to complain to you more: the Cubs not playing Matt Murton regularly or the two-headed monster of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood? It should be noted that I complain regularly to anyone who will listen about the lack of playing time for Murton. --Robert Schroeder, Ithaca, N.Y.
People writing into this column complain mostly about the fact that I don't take it seriously, which in their minds indicates I don't like doing it. In fact, I do enjoy listening to Cubs fans complain. It's a rite of spring ... and summer ... and winter.
A couple of times you have made a point of noting that Lou didn't talk to the media after a loss or only spoke briefly. You seen to think he owes it to you to speak with the media after every game. I must say that I am enjoying a manager who is taking the losses hard. His priority is to win, not to make your job easier, Paul. -- "George Mitterwald", San Francisco
I usually don't answer questions from people who pretend they are former Cubs catchers, but I do want you to know I have no problem with Lou taking the losses hard and not speaking to the media after games. I only point it out because it's so unusual in this business, where the managers are typically the spokesmen for the team. It doesn't make my job easier if he speaks, but I'm always curious about his thoughts on the game, and I think most Cubs fans want to know as well.
The glut of outfielders has been well documented with the Cubs. That would lead me to believe a trade might be in order. Which outfielder would the Cubs most likely deal if they have to go out and get some bullpen help? --Mike Condon, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
I believe you're referring to the "surplus of left-fielders with a shortage of right and center-fielders." Now that Pie is in Iowa, a trade doesn't appear too likely, though obviously Jacque Jones would be the one to go since they just signed Cliff Floyd, Matt Murton is still feeling his way and Angel Pagan is a back-up. But Jones should increase his power numbers with the warmer weather, so perhaps keeping him is the best option, platooning Murton and Floyd in right.
With all the concern about the Cubs' over-crowded outfield, why isn't anybody pointing out that Jim Hendry created this mess by signing Floyd? That was completely unnecessary. --Russell Pelton, Chicago
You also must be talking about the "surplus of left-fielders with a shortage of right and center-fielders." I was all for the signing of Cliff, whom I covered at Thornwood High, and I still think he's a valuable asset. It's not really a mess, as long as everyone understands they're not going to play everyday and don't whine about it. Cliff is not a whiner, and neither is Murton. People complained in the past when the bench was full of spare outfielders like Macias, Hollandsworth and Dubois. Isn't it better to have a few dependable hitters coming off the bench?
Paul, thanks for the entertaining, sarcastic, and occasionally informative articles! It seems to me that TheRiot should be starting at second base. Let's trade DeRosa and Jones for a decent left-handed reliever and a backup shortstop. I happen to like both DeRosa and Jones but they seem to be extra pieces. Your thoughts? --John, Lakewood, Calif.
How dare you accuse me of being occasionally informative. The Cubs are not going to trade DeRosa, who signed a three-year deal. And we've already gone over Jones ad nauseum. In other words, on this occasion, no information is forthcoming.
Paul, I know a lot has been made about Zambrano's arm angle, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see he is throwing sidearm most of the time now. His velocity is maybe 89 to 91 tops. Do you think there is any possibility Big-Z has some "secret" arm ailment, and will soon follow in the footsteps of those other two guys we don't like to mention anymore? --Daryl Patterson, Chandler, Ariz.
Not true. His velocity is not 89-91 tops, except at the outset of games, as it's been in the past. Zambrano throws in the mid-90s, and appeared to be back in form on Tuesday night at Shea Stadium, and that bodes well for the future. I think as soon as Carlos gets in a groove he'll get on a roll, just like last year. Too bad he can't figure out how to start out the season on a roll.
Ryan Theriot is the kind of player who will make the Cubs a winner. He does all the right things at the plate and seems to thrive in pressure situations, like Sunday when he tied the game with a hit. He works walks, hits to right field, gets on base a lot, steals bases and seldom strikes out. He's a near perfect player yet gets little attention from the media. Why is that? Can't anyone in the pressbox realize his importance to the success of the Cubs? --Joe Melosi, Edwardsville, Ill.
Few Cubs players have received as much widespread praise as Theriot, so I don't know what you're talking about. Near perfect? Not sure about that, but he's got a lot of energy and a great attitude and is a good player. Everyone in the pressbox likes Theriot, so your assumption is incorrect.
If the new owners of the Cubs decide to build a new ballpark, where do you think would be a logical site to build it? --Chris C., Crest Hill, Ill.
The former Meigs Field. Actually, I don't think they will build a new ballpark. I think they'll make significant structural improvements to Wrigley and play at the Cell for a year, with the permission of Jerry Reinsdorf, of course.
Hi, Paul, I have followed the Cubs since 1945 when I would go to Wrigley Field early and get into the pressbox by offering to carry in a camera-- which was about as big as my 10-year-old body. I thought I understood the role of coaches, but I seem to be wrong. Why isn't it the responsibility of the third base coach to decide whether a runner tries to score? We keep hearing about the bad decisions made by the players going from third base and while it seems clear that very bad decisions are being made, I would have thought it is the third base coach's responsibility. Oh, bring back waving Wendell! --Harold Swartz, Lyme, N.H.
Lou says he wants his third base coach to be aggressive, which is one reason why three runners were thrown out at the plate over the weekend in Philly. It's way too early to compare Mike Quade to Waving Wendell Kim, but after Chris Speier did such a great job there the last couple of years, it's a tough act for Quade to follow.
Paul, as I am away at college, I watch every Cubs game on MLBTV. Can you explain to me why on some days they extend the broadcast to show the seventh inning stretch, while other times they deny us the right to view this glorious event? --Phil "The Thrill" Golding, Chicago
I don't get MLBTV, so I have no idea. I'd contact Bud Selig at mlb.com. I'm sure he has an e-mail address so he can keep in touch with his constituents.
Paul, what do you see happening to the Cubs' catching situation? It seems that Michael Barrett wants to come back, but the Cubs have a few young catchers (Soto, Fox) who might be ready next year. And they just gave Blanco a few years. Will Barrett be traded before the year is over? I'd hate to see someone so passionate about being a Cub leave, even if they have been terrible since he was handed the job. --Marc, Champaign, Ill.
I think the Cubs will find a way to keep Barrett. There's no player on the team who enjoys being a Cub as much as Barrett. But it is a business, and Barrett's price tag will obviously go up if he has a typical offensive year. At this point, he's not having a typical offensive year, so if he wants to make it an easy decision, he'll have to step it up.
Thanks for all the relevant questions, and please stop asking me about the "surplus of left-fielders with a shortage of right and center-fielders."