When they woke Lou Piniella up from his long winter's nap last year, somebody handed him a sheet of the 2009 stats, or something. I reckon he came across the line for the pitcher who struck out 7 batters while walking only one, and I can imagine Lou mumbled "I like him, the kid shows me somethin'. Throws strikes, keeps it over the plate, number sixty-forrrr.....ZZZZZZZZ"
Join in after the jump to find out what happened when Sweet Lou woke up...
Whereupon the kid was inserted into 41 games last year, and managed to
walk 20 batters while fanning only 14. The kid of course is Justin
Berg, and really, he isn't much of a kid, since he will turn 27 this
season. I do recall at his point last year noting that while Berg
really did nothing whatsoever to stand out in any way, shape or form the
previous season, it did appear in his small sample size that he at
least kept the ball over the plate. I also observed that this was a
trait the manager treasured, because men who throw strikes and not balls
do not need to be taken out of games in the middle of innings, and thus
preventing his manager from having to be woken up unnecessarily in
order to walk to the mound to execute said removal of pitcher.
when I was younger, I was fully alert from the second my eyes opened in
the morning. As I grew older, though, it has taken me longer and
longer to "kick in" once I stop sleeping. I figure this is what
happened to ol' Uncle Lou, because he kept running Berg into games even
though he could have not sucked worse last year. Lou, in his post-nap
state of grogginess, kept harkening back to the winter, when he learned
that Number 64 threw strikes and not balls.
So, seriously, in a
7-man pen that will most likely consist of: Marmol, Wood, Grabow,
Marshall, Cashner, and the 14 million dollar sunken cost that is Silva
the Hutt, what chance does Berg have to take that final spot? Marcos
Mateo, like Cashner, has blistering speed. Jeff Russell was not great
for us last year, but better than Berg, and he's a lefty to boot.
Smiley Caridad was hurt last year, but his 2009 was far superior to
Berg's, with a larger sample size. In fact, he was supposed to be the
7th/8th inning guy last year at this time, remember? And, of course,
there is Angel Guzman, he of the Perpetual Potential and the twitchy
There is a chance Silva the Hutt decides to take his popcorn ball and go home (please? please please puh-leeeze)
which would open up another spot to the benefit of all. But honestly,
unless Berg regains his stellar garbage-time-2009 control, he finishes
no better than third for the last bullpen spot, and if Smiley and Angel
are actually healthy, then he has NO shot.
My main point of
today's post, and it is nothing personal against Berg (who for all I
know may give all of his earnings to nuns and orphans), but why do the
Cubs insist on carrying guys like him on the 40 man roster? There are
several pitchers that never have a chance in hell of contributing to the
Cubs or any other major league team in the near future, including the
mopes we got back for DeRosa.
When it comes to bullpen
pitching, if you have NEVER demonstrated a) the blistering heat, b)
sick, twisted stuff like Marmol, or c) the know-how to get guys out like
Marshall on the big-league level, then move the hell out of the
way and make room for some other guys who do. There are those who feel
that 50 appearances is too small of a sample to judge a guy in whom the
big club has invested so much in. I do not.
I am not asking for a guy to post a sub-two ERA or a sub-one WHIP. Take Cashner, for instance. He got his dick
handed to him last year. But it was clear to all of us that his
fastball is obscene, and once he learns to place his pitches and manages
situations, he will annihilate fools in this league, and he may do it
as a starter. Berg has no chance to ever start, and honestly, what
exactly does he have that singles him out from any of the dozens of guys
in our system who stand on mounds for a living?
Once again, I
have nothing personal against him, just against what he represents.
Namely, Jim Hendry's attachment to "his guys". Hendry is too
sentimental for the job: that's why I could never be a GM. It's time
for a Theo Epstein-esque ween to be in charge. Yes, listen to your
scouts, but when it is time to cut bait, just effin' do it and don't look back.