Cubs fans are full of wacky theories. E-mail them to Paul Sullivan so he can pass them on to other Cub fans. It's Paul's great pleasure to do so in the latest edition of Ask Paul:
Paul, I think George Krogstie is on to something with the goatee thing. I've said all year that Matt Clement's struggles were because he shaved his goatee, as ugly as it was. Now he's growing it back and pitching well. Sammy was doing well clean-shaven, and now is struggling with the goatee. Granted, the shot to the head may have had more to do with his struggles, but I still think shaving the goatee is worth 15 points in BA and an extra HR per week. --Adam Silca, Chicago
Half the team has had a goatee at one point in the first half, as has manager Dusty Baker, and the Cubs are exactly .500 at the break. So maybe George Krogstie's wacky goatee theory isn't as half-baked as it sounds.
The Cubs seem to have a real problem recognizing talent. With 11 pitchers on the staff that all throw 95 m.ph. the opposition will learn to hit 95 m.p.h. They needed Rod Beck to throw at a slower pace and add some variety but they let him go. Maybe getting Dave Veres back will help. What do you think about all the pitchers throwing at about the same speed? --Willard Zoerner, Sarasota, Fla.
Veres has been a big plus since his return, and Beck might have been a good set-up guy for Borowski, but the Cubs love those power arms and most other teams would kill to have so many guys throwing in the mid-90s. The problem in the bullpen is the lack of execution by some of the relievers, not the actual speed of the pitches.
In comparing 1998 to 2003, what is the percentage of balls hit to the right side, including outs, in comparison to the left side by Sammy Sosa? It appears he is not going to right as much as he used to. --Jack Hoehnle, Iowa City, Iowa
No, Sammy is not going to the right side as much as in the past, though I don't have those stats to prove it. Still, he seemed to be getting into a groove on the last homestand before the break, and he's capable of putting up big numbers in August. Going to the opposite field would help him stay hot, but it all depends on how they pitch him and what the situation is in each at-bat.
Hi, Paul! I asked this previously but being the persistent sort I am, I'll try again. Damian Miller was recently taken out of a game because of an injury. If Paul Bako would have gotten hurt who would come in as the emergency back-up catcher? Thanks in advance for your reply and also for the great column! --Randall Stojan, Platteville, Wis.
I have been trying to ignore this controversial subject since you first e-mailed me, but now you have forced me into confessing that I have never asked Dusty Baker this question. But e-mail me it again and I'll try to remember to ask him by the next time I answer my mail.
Paul, with Patterson done for the year there's been talk of trading for a center fielder to replace him. I personally think they should hand the job over to David Kelton because the boy can hit. He probably won't make amazing plays like Corey, but he'll hit as good if not better. Would this be the best option and use players they would have traded for a center fielder to get a third baseman and/or a better lefty than Estes? I think so. --Ryan J. Sparks, Lewistown, Mt.
Kelton might be able to handle CF, but considering he's never played there before and spent half the season at third, it's a gamble the Cubs can't really afford to take right now. If he messed up one play, he'd be dubbed the next Don Young, and Hendry and Baker would be ripped for trying him there in the first place. I'd rather have Kelton up as a reserve outfielder and pinch-hitter so Alou and Sosa don't wear out with all the day games in August.
Paul, with Eric Karros playing so well at first base, and Corey Patterson now out for the year, is it possible for Hee Seop Choi to play CF? I know it sounds crazy, but Choi seems to be a good athlete, and if Lance Berkman can play center...well, why not? --Caprice Perez, Aurora, Ill.
You're right. It sounds crazy ... Why? Well, because. It just does. Trust me on this one.
I am a big supporter of Eric Karros. I know he is not hitting the home runs he used to but to be leading the team in batting average really makes me happy for him. What is your reaction to his great first half? --Dave Potter, Upland, Calif.
Sorry, I have no immediate reaction to his great first half.
Paul, thanks for the time you take in answering the e-mail questions. Unlike some, I miss your smart-aleck comments. My question is: Have the Cubs talked to Zambrano about hitting right-handed? I'm concerned with his right arm being exposed while at the plate. --Carlton Martin, St. Louis
Zambrano is a switch-hitter and he's only one behind Kerry Wood in the Cubs Pitchers Home Run Derby and he had a good first half, so let's just leave him alone, OK? As you can see, I'm having some separation anxiety since the no smart-aleck rule went into affect.
Hi, Paul. I was just reading this column for the first time and realized how sorry I felt for you. How much of this mindless drivel do you have to sort through every week? Well, add another one to the pile. --Dan Nicholson, Madison, Wis.
I get an average of about 30-40 of these e-mails a day, and I automatically delete any that don't provide a surname, and the ones that rip Alfonseca, and the ones with inane trade suggestions, and the ones that rip Tribune Co. and then add "I know you won't use this." So the mindless drivel I actually read only amounts to about 3-4 e-mails per day.
Paul Sullivan's answers
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