Ask Paul returns to answer your relevant questions about Lou's future, D-Ward's numbers, day games vs. night games, who decides which games are posted on the Wrigley Field scoreboard, and his favorite Lil' Wayne song:
Hey, Sully, what's your take on Lou Piniella's future with the Cubs if they win it all or at least get to the Series. Would he hang it up and call it a career? Does Ryne Sandberg have a realistic chance for the job? --Eric Kinsman, Elkhart, Ind.
Originally I thought that Piniella would hang it up if the Cubs won this year because he'd have nothing left to conquer and he deserves a nice, little nap. But this season has been so interesting and gone by so fast that I think he'd stay for the final year of the contract to see if they could repeat. Of course, if they don't win, he has to return for one last try. But, as Lou would say, you're getting ahead of yourself. As for Sandberg, I don't think he's in line for the job if Lou left. My guess is that Alan Trammell tops the list, with Triple-A Iowa manager Pat Listach a distant second. Sandberg can't jump over Listach considering their disparate records and current positions.
Having just seen the Cub beat the Marlins and the Brewers lose to the Dodgers, the Cubs are now 5 1/2 games up on the Brewers. How frustrated must the Brewers be after winning eight in a row and only gaining a game and a half, then losing on back to back nights and losing two games in the standings? Does that play with their collective head a bit? --Rick Kopp, Bradenton, Fla.
I can't imagine the Brewers' heads being messed with. They know all they have to do is continue to play well and they'll make the postseason as a wild-card team, which is just as good as a division title because to the unfair system that doesn't penalize a wild-card team for finishing second. If I were commissioner for a day, the team with the best record would play the wild-card team, even if it's in its own division, and the wild-card team would get only one home game, right in the middle of the 5-game schedule. The other two teams playing in the ALDS and NLDS would play by the current 2-2-1 schedule. There should be some sort of penalty for finishing second.
Paul, I hope Bob Howry can regain his form in time for the stretch run and into possible postseason play. If for some reason he does not, do the Cubs have a contingency plan? --Mikey T., Scottsdale, Ariz.
The contingency plan is already in place -- its name is "Samardzija." Until Howry proves he's back to form, Jeff Samardzija will continue to join Carlos Marmol as primary set-up men for Kerry Wood. Howry should be able to regain his form, and he actually leads the league in inherited runners stranded, just ahead of Marmol. But the long ball is killing him.
Hey Paul, in your opinion, who is the smartest Cubs player on the current roster? --Lynn, Elgin, Ill.
Mark DeRosa went to Penn and is the only Ivy Leaguer, so I'd have to say he got the best education, but Zambrano got a $91.5 million deal without having to take a physical, so he may ultimately be the smartest Cub.
With Lou pegging Sean Marshall for a likely spot start this week, I was reminded that once upon a time, we had another left-handed starter with a world of potential. What's the latest news on Rich Hill and, if I may be allowed a follow up, could we see him in camp next year? --Rhett, Indianapolis
Rich Hill developed biceps tendinitis during his rehab, and is back in Arizona after being shut down. I can't say whether he'll be in camp next year because I don't know why he's in the position he's currently in. He was supposedly healthy when he left the Cubs, but has since had back and biceps injuries while out of sight. It's a mystery, and hopefully it will have a happy ending some day, somewhere.
How long is Lou going to keep going to Ward as a pinch hitter? I know he has a track record, but he has been terrible this season (4 for 40) with many of his outs coming on the first pitch. Shouldn't Micah Hoffpauir at least get a shot? I'm sure he could hit .100 as a pinch hitter. --John, Coralville, Iowa
Ward came up with a big hit on Friday after you sent this e-mail, winning the game with a three-run pinch homer. Yes, Hoffpauir deserves a spot after hitting the way he has at Iowa, and I'm sure he'll be a September call-up. The Cubs aren't going to let go of Ward, who admittedly has struggled this season. When Cubs fans resort to complaining about a guy who pinch-hits for a living, it means they are having a pretty good year.
Paul, this question is either too late since interleague play is over, or I am getting ahead of myself because it won't happen until the World Series? Regardless, when it comes to the DH, can any position player have a DH? With the recent debate regarding Fukudome, glove vs. bat, and if Big-Z were pitching could the Cubs DH for Fukudome and have Zambrano bat for himself? Game 1 of the WS, American League park, don't you think Z would be jacked-up to show the country he can hit? Cubs could retain their best defensive option in right field have a HR threat at the bottom of the order. --Steve Sergesketter, Wilmette, Ill.
That's not allowable, Steve, but I like the way you think. How about just using Zambrano as the DH in American League ballpark, and then use him as a starter in either Game 3, 4 or 5 at Wrigley? A rotation of Dempster, Harden, Zambrano and Lilly, and then you can come back with Zambrano for a Game 7 and still use him as DH in a Game 6.
Paul, why do people call Mark DeRosa "the Mayor"? I've heard it a bunch but don't understand how he got it. Comparing him to Fred Hoiberg perhaps? --Calvin, Chicag
Never heard that, but if that's true, my guess is they are comparing DeRosa to DaMare -- the honorable Richard M. Daley -- because they are the two most interviewed people in Chicago.
Paul, here is a question to which I cannot find the answer: the Wrigley Field scoreboard does not have room for all the games when there is a full schedule. Who decides which games to leave off the scoreboard? --John Wilheim, Wichita, Kan.
Actually, that's now my responsibility in the slimmed-down Tribune Co. I usually leave off the teams from cities where the airport security lines are the most congested -- Atlanta, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and stadiums with the worst ballpark food -- Atlanta, Cincinnati, St. Louis ... you think there's a correlation?
Paul, any thoughts on replacing Ward with Barry Bonds? Ward usually gets one ugly looking at-bat per game. Bonds' at-bat would probably produce positive results. If any team has an excuse for signing Bonds, it would be the Cubs with the whole 100-year thing. --Brian, Palatine, Ill.
Actually, if any team has an excuse for not signing Bonds, it would be the Cubs with the whole 100-year thing. Why risk ruining the great chemistry that exists for a me-first guy who would sap the life out of the clubhouse, not to mention every last inch of space due to the inevitable media horde that would follow?
We all know that one theory for the Cubs World Series drought is that they whither under the heat of so many day games. With only 30 night games allowed per year, why does the organization waste them by scheduling some on chilly April nights? Why don't they save them for the hot months or the stretch drive? --J. Hawkins, St. John, Ind.
Good question. There's no good answer, but they believe more night games when school is still in will keep attendance high in April and May. I agree they should backload the night games for July, August and September, and I also think they should be able to schedule a handful of Friday and Saturday night games.
Hey Paul, so so I must ask, What's your favorite Lil' Wayne song? --Bobbo, Chicago
I'd never heard of Lil' Wayne until recently, and I'm not really up on my gangsta rap. But I read an article in USA Today that said Michael Phelps also listens to Lil' Wayne before he swims, so between him and Theriot, he's got a fan club brewing. Maybe I'm going to have to start paying more attention to Lil' Wayne. Hopefully he can come do the seventh inning stretch during the playoffs, like the late, great Bernie Mac during Game 6 in 2003.
Thanks for all the relevant questions, and thanks to Ryan Theriot for doing such a great job filling in last week.
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