After a third straight ‘non-Z like’ performance, I got to thinking, “what gives?” What is with the Cubs’ never-ending pitching potential problem? In my humble opinion, Carlos is easily good enough to be 3-0 at this point, but he is 0-1. Wood is on the mend and so is Prior, meanwhile John Koronka ain’t looking all that bad. I am not talking about just today or this season, but what is wrong with the Cubs development program? For years I have heard that the Cubs’ Minor League system was continuously ranked #1 or #2 by Baseball Prospectus, and that this ranking was in large part due to the pitching. Pardon me a minute….what pitching….whose pitching? It is important to note that this was never really based on Prior or Wood either. Outside of Big Z, who did this reference, Andy Sisco? Sean Marshall was never brought into this equation, so who? Please do not tell me that ranking solely existed because of a crafty young lefty with a 12′ to 6′ curve ball, Rich Hill, or an injury riddled right hander in Angel Guzman. There has to be more, right?
So where did they go? Who were they in the first place? What did we get back? I know, I cannot answer these questions either. Is this part of the overall curse, or is there a true problem with getting this talent to the top level? Bobby Brownlie’s Minor League ERA this year looks more like the price of two beverages at Wrigley. Now I know every club has prospects, or as some say suspects, and I know I pay much more attention to the Cubs, but this ineptness has become normal with the Cubs, worse yet, it is expected.
One can point to Dontrelle Willis, and I will give in to that, but not to Prior. He was pitching in Wrigley before June of his first year of professional baseball. All our system did was put a towel in his hand instead of an actual baseball. (Editors note: Mr. Rothschild knows a gazillion times more about pitching than I.) I am being serious, I do not know who the players are or were, but I know they are not here now. I know we gave up Mitre and Nolasco, and Jae-Kuk Ryu is in AAA, but these are not the kids referenced four or five years ago.
After Kerry Wood had ‘Tommy John Surgery’ early in his career, I recall Curt Schilling ripping the Cubs for over-pitching him. Okay, fine, whatever, Steve Stone would say it had a lot more to do with his mechanics. Maybe that was not the systems’ fault, but what about everyone else. Dusty keeps saying Prior’s injuries are freak accidents. The line drive and the Marcus Giles collision were, but the Achilles, elbow and shoulder were not.
For the past three seasons it has been obvious that Zambrano loses his focus when his emotions run wild and every year I hear that he has learned how to harness them. I believe it was the second or third inning on Opening Day in Cincy that he began banging his glove on close calls. In all three starts this year, one can point to his emotional uproar causing walks and a loss of focus.
Many fans say that the players are adults and they need to learn these things themselves. They are not adults, they are kids, older kids albeit, but they are kids playing a kids’ game. They need to be taught, they need to be guided, they need help. I challenge anyone to tell me they knew how to do everything their first few years on a job, without any mentoring. Everyone has issues and faults that take away from their performance, however, none are publicly magnified like a professional athlete’s.
I am not a trainer or a coach, and I am only a fan of baseball, but I do know that one way does not work for all. Each person/player needs to be catered to, coached and developed individually. I am sure that this is happening in some way, shape or form, but it does not appear to be working very well. Maybe the Cubs do too much of this, maybe they do too little, I do not know. I do not that the effort is there, but unfortunately in life, effort doesn’t really matter, only results do, and right now, the results are not there.
After my daily dose of Cubbie Kool-Aid, I have all the faith that Wood and Prior will be back and that Wade Miller will help us move beyond the Glendon Rusch era, but in the meantime, I would like to see what I have been hearing about for years. Bring on Guzman, bring on Hill, we must have already lost something, so what do we have to lose now?
Thanks for reading, feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com and until next time….
Stay Classy Cub Fans