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Paul Sullivan's Cubs mailbag
Ask Paul returns to answer your question about Felix's future, Marmol as closer, Geo and Fu's rookie of the year race and other relevant issues:
Paul, you recently wrote that Pie doesn't look like the type of hitter the Cubs envisioned. How exactly would anyone know since he's barely played? Edmonds, in case no one has noticed, has been WORSE than Pie. Pie destroyed Triple A. Does anyone actually think he has something to learn in the minors? --Chris Cowger, San Diego
It doesn't matter at this point, that Felix doesn't have anything more to learn in the minors. What matters is he could not hit enough to stay in the majors. I'm talking about making contact, not his batting average. The strikeout ratio was way too high, especially with two strikes. Whether Edmonds really is the answer, I'm not sure. Maybe Iowa's Andres Torres could've provided a quick fix until the trading deadline, where Coco Crisp might've been available. But Lou doesn't have enough patience to wait until Felix figures it out, and anyone who has paid attention to Lou's moves over the last two years with struggling players ( Michael Barrett, Cesar Izturis, Rich Hill, etc.) knows they will soon be cast off the island.
Dear Paul, when Daryl Ward gets on base, he points back into the dugout. Who is he pointing at, and do you think he's showing up the other team? It seems to me that he is. --B. Clarke, Chicago
I'm not sure, but I assume he's pointing to Lou for a pinch-runner, since that's usually what happens.
I believe the Cubs are very close to being a World Series contender. To get there I think Marmol and Wood need to switch roles and Soriano needs to be replaced. We need a left fielder who can play defense and a leadoff hitter who gets on base and doesn't K all the time. Do you agree and do you think it will happen? --Tom Prusator, Ochelata, Okla.
Soriano does not need to be replaced, and all the angst over him is really getting tired. He starts out very slow and finishes strong, just like Ryne Sandberg did on an annual basis during his Hall of Fame career. Don't remember anyone saying 'Ryno should be replaced.' As for switching Marmol and Wood, I don't think Lou will do it because Wood hasn't done anything to lose the job. Marmol is obviously more unhittable than Wood and doesn't make Cubs fans jittery, as Wood often does. Marmol could become the best Cubs closer since Bruce Sutter. His day will come. It's just a matter of when.
There are so many reasons to look forward to the rest of this season. One of the brightest is the potential of the Cubs rookies. Have two rookies from the same team ever finished first and second in the rookie of the year vote? --Andrew L., Carbondale, Ill.
Geo Soto and Kosuke Fukudome both should be contenders, and for the record, I picked Soto in our preseason special section. I believe Fred Lynn and Jim Rice finished 1-2 as teammates with Boston in 1975, when Lynn also won MVP honors. There are probably a few others, but I don't have the list in front of me, so feel free to google away while I answer some more relevant questions.
Beyond the stellar Carlos Zambrano and the pleasantly surprising Ryan Dempster, our rotation drops off the cliff in effectiveness, and the preseason confidence in the bullpen has so far proven unjustified. Everyone knows pitching wins titles. Does it seem that a major overhaul in the staff (including pitching coach Larry Rothschild) may be necessary soon? If so, what are their options? --John L., Tulsa, Okla.
Cubs starters ranked third in the NL on Friday with a 3.82 ERA, behind Atlanta (3.64) and Arizona (3.80), so I'm guessing there will not be an overhaul in the offing. Lilly has performed well his last five starts, and Gallagher deserves a shot. The only question right now is whether Sean Marshall will pitch well in Iowa and eventually replace Jason Marquis in the second half.
In the last few years I have noticed a number of players, mostly pitchers, wearing some sort of rigid plastic looking ring around their neck. I think I first saw these things on the necks of the Boston pitchers during the 2004 season. Now it seems like every team has a couple of pitchers wearing them and I've noticed some position players starting to wear these things. What are they? Do they have any purpose? They certainly can't be worn for pure adornment, for they are about as attractive as having a mini hula hoop around your neck. --Tom K., Albuquerque, N.M.
They are indeed mini hula-hoops, worn by players, mostly pitchers, to increase the blood flow to their brains. As you can see, it doesn't work with some of them. (Ed. note: They're actually these things.)
Should the Cubs feel a sense of urgency to win this year since many of their everyday players are 30 or older? --Lee Barton, Idaho Falls, Idaho
The Cubs should feel a sense of urgency to win this year because many of their fans are senior citizens and want to one day rest in peace with the knowledge that they actually witnessed a championship season in their lifetimes, just like their friends who root for the Sox
. And because they have a $120 million payroll and no excuse not to win.
I noticed that readers took it kind of easy on you last time, so here goes: How come it's OK for you to fend off questions you're tired of getting over and over (e.g. Soriano leading off), but it's not OK for Lou Piniella (or Dusty Baker before him) to do the same? --Mike S., Kirkland, Wash.
It's perfectly OK for Piniella (and Baker) to fend off questions they're tired of hearing, and both of them do it quite well. Sure, the Soriano question is just as redundant to Lou as it is to me, but he has to try to be civil when answering it or else he'll get YouTubed again. I can just delete them from my e-mail box, which is actually my favorite part of Ask Paul.
Steve Stone, Mark Prior, Billy Goat, Alou/Bartman, Alou/Urine
which past popular topic do you miss the most? Will anything this season come close, except for a title? --Tom McNally, Richmond, Va.
I really miss the past popular topic of whether or not Soriano should lead off, which seems to have disappeared now that he's hitting .500 on the homestand. Who knows what popular topic will come close to the ones you mentioned, but the addition of Jim Edmonds certainly hold great possibilities.
Hey, Paul, just another Adam Greenberg update. It appears that on May 9 he was signed by LA Angels and will report to Arkansas Travelers in AA Texas League. -- Jeff Johnson, Gaffney, S.c.
Thanks, and as much as I appreciate the Adam Greenberg updates and liked the kids personally, it's time for Cubs fans to let go. The expiration date on this story was 2007.
Hey, Paul, if the Cubs win the World Series what's the protocol with the ring distribution? Will Ronnie and Ryno get one for their roles as broadcaster and minor league manager, respectively? --J.B. Brown, Nashville, Tenn.
Absolutely. The Cubs are definitely going to give World Series rings to Ryne Sandberg and Ronnie Woo.
What are the chances of Lou moving Soriano back to his natural position of second base? --Randall Stojan, Platteville, Wis.
The same as Soriano hugging it out with the ivy-covered wall.
We don't get much news on the Cubs out here but it seems that Zambrano is pitching every time I check the Cub scores. Are they over using him and will he end up like Wood and Prior? --Frank Johnson, Watertown, N.Y.
Maybe you should see if your newspaper is being delivered every fifth day instead of every day, because Zambrano is not being used more than usual. Wood and Prior should no longer be associated with each other as though they're forever linked in history. One is a pretty effective closer, and the other is still in limbo.
Paul, there have been varying reports of a hitting contraption being used in the Cubs clubhouse during games by some late-inning replacements to stay warm. What exactly is the current situation with this and have any TV's or other equipment been damaged because of it? --Phil "The Thrill," Chicago, Ill.
I don't remember anything being damaged by a contraption in the Cubs clubhouse, except for Mike Remlinger's pinkie finger. But I'll do some research and get back to you. Thanks for all the relevant questions. Come again.