Well, I've done some more thinking about Bellhorn-Hernandez since my original post this morning on that topic. I had planned on doing a little stat comparison between the two players, but Scott at the Northside Lounge has done a good job of that already. Actually, Cub bloggers the world over have admirably tackled the subject. Christian at The Cub Reporter is out of the country and probably doesn't even know about the trade yet, but there's still tons of discussion there. Just hit those Cub blog links at the left side of the page and you'll get every possible perspective there is.
Anyway, I know the conventional wisdom is that Bellhorn wasn't given much of an opportunity this year. And I certainly agree that no matter how badly Bellhorn was playing, he was the better option every day Dusty pencilled Lenny F. Harris into the lineup. But while this is obviously not the big trade everyone's been waiting for, I don't feel as negatively about it as most others seem to.
OK, here are the career numbers, which I imagine you've seen before:
Pretty similar, right? Horn's got a slightly better eye, Jose's got a bit more power, and given their relative ages (Bellhorn 28, Hernandez 33) maybe you give the nod to Bellhorn. Let's try this year's numbers, which I'm sure you've also seen before:
Again, not so different. Similar trends, maybe Jose's numbers are Coors-inflated but given the low SLG perhaps not. Obviously both players are slumping this year.
But wait. Is Bellhorn really slumping? He had a good year last season, there's no denying that. But he also had more plate appearances last season than he had in his entire career before that (367 from '97-'01, 521 in '02). The temptation is to look at this from the perspective that he took advantage of the increased opportunities last year and came into his own. In reality, though, his career numbers are heavily skewed by last year's performance. Is it possible that last year was his career year and this year we're seeing the real Bellhorn?
Now you tell me, which of these years just doesn't belong here - is it 2002 or 2003? In particular, note that the SLGs for pre- and post- 2002 are virtually identical. Is it possible that Bellhorn just put on his 1996 Brady Anderson costume last year?
Maybe this move is part of something larger, as many have hopefully suggested. If it is, then maybe none of this matters. But as I replied in a comment earlier today, that isn't the sort of nuanced approach I have come to associate with Cubs management.
Maybe Hernandez is near the end of his career, and his current "slump" isn't a slump either. We'll know soon enough.
The fact is, both Bellhorn and Hernandez are stopgaps. We all know Hernandez is not the answer long-term, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't Bellhorn, either.
Derek at 12:00 AM MST [link] --
wFriday, June 20, 2003
I hit my head this evening - all I remember about this afternoon's game is that the Cubs were outhit 11-10 and Borowski pitched a scoreless 9th. I'll just have to assume we won.
I'll be back later once I've had a chance to take a look at this, I'm sure I won't be the only one. What does seem certain is that if you're in the "trade for Mike Lowell" camp, you're probably feeling pretty awful right now. In any case, this looks like a typical Cubs move where they move players around to make it look like they're doing something when they really haven't done anything.
My final reaction is, well, I was hoping that Bellhorn would get some playing time if he was traded, but that apparently won't be the case. You can be sure I'll be cheering loudly for Mark next time I see him at Coors.
Derek at 7:57 AM MST [link] --
wWednesday, June 18, 2003
Here's a tip for next time you attend a rainout.
Two weeks ago, I attended a Rockies-Royals game at Coors Field with my wife Katrin, my friend Bryan the Royals fan and his wife Kirsten. We had left field bleacher seats, $17 tickets. The rain began to fall in the 4th inning and play was halted one pitch into the 5th. It was pretty damn cold.
An hour into the rain delay we wandered up to the club level, which has a large enclosed area complete with a bar and warmth. Of course, the doorman wouldn't let us in, which was reasonable seeing as how we didn't have club level tickets. So we waited for people to give up and exit the club level, and then we sent Katrin after them to ask for their tickets. Katrin can be very persuasive and she managed to relieve a group of 3 people of their tickets. Of course, the doorman again refused us entry since he knew we didn't buy the tickets. This seems unreasonable to me but whatever.
Let me take this moment to say that other than that doorman, every Rockies employee we talked to was absolutely wonderful, and they reminded me about what makes baseball special. Many of them are retired people who just love baseball. One older woman, an usher, was a Cubs fan who doesn't even like the Rockies but just loves being at the ballpark. Another usher told us her husband works as an usher too, and they commute to and from Coors Field together for every home game. And of course there's the world-famous Captain Earthman, the beer man who works the left-field bleachers. He has a business card with a cell phone number, so you can actually call him up when you're thirsty and he'll come right over. We called him during the rain delay and he sprinted a hundred yards in about 5 seconds with a bunch of beer - Coors, naturally.
Anyway, an hour after being rebuffed by the club level doorman a second time, they finally called the game. As we tried to figure out whether we would try to attend the makeup game the next day, I suddenly realized - we had club level rainchecks! So we walked outside, went to the ticket booth and exchanged them for three $41 infield club level tickets. Of course, then we realized we needed one more, since there were four of us.
So Katrin tells the ticket guy, we have all these $17 tickets - can we trade three of them in for one more $41 club seat? The guy says Sure! But I won't be able to refund the difference.
Yeah, I think I can live with that.
Derek at 1:11 PM MST [link] --
wTuesday, June 17, 2003
+1 reached by error
Welcome to math in Cubland. Baserunners in 8 out of 10 innings. What a waste of a great effort by Zambrano.
"Meanwhile, Chicago is looking for a stopgap infielder like Neifi Perez."
Thank God I read that on an empty stomach.
Here is a list of people I would prefer to see playing in the Cubs infield over Neifi Perez:
1) All other players currently on a major league roster. This group includes Lenny F. Harris. It includes Juan Acevedo (just signed by Toronto).
2) All other players who have ever been on a major league roster. This group includes Augie Ojeda. It includes Jeff Blauser. It includes dead people.
3) All other people who exist. This group includes my Mom. She's not great at catching things, but she's really nice and would try hard. It includes Stevie Wonder.
4) And finally, I would suit up only 8 players before I allowed Neifi Perez on my team. That's right, I would employ a gaping hole at 3rd, short or 2nd before allowing the cancer that is Neifi Perez to put on my team's uniform.
Are my feelings clear on this?
Derek at 1:17 PM MST [link] --
82 visitors yesterday, an all-time high for Let's Play Two. Thanks for stopping by.
Part of this large number can be attributed to my having been "googled," "yahooed," "dogpiled" and "aolsearched" by a bunch of people over the last couple of days. All of the search strings involved the words "trade" and "lowell," as well as some other words such as "cubs," "rumors," "june," "chicago," and "mike." Thanks for visiting, folks, but I don't know anything more than you do about when or where Mike Lowell will be traded.
If you have a website and you're looking for traffic, I suggest that you insert the following sentence into one of your pages:
"There are rumors that the Chicago Cubs may trade for Mike Lowell by the end of June." Next, submit your resume to the Chicago Sun-Times - you've just written one of Mike Kiley's columns.
Derek at 12:57 PM MST [link] --
wMonday, June 16, 2003
OK, I just realized why I don't like interleague play.
As you know, interleague play sucks for a number of reasons, most of which don't really matter too much. Here are the non-mattering reasons, all of which you have heard before:
(1) I'm a purist when it comes to baseball. The NL and AL always have been separate and in a perfect world always would be separate. The exception is the World Series, in which the intermingling of the leagues takes on special meaning. "The Cubs and Yankees meet for the first time since 1938" is cool if they're playing for a championship. Not as cool if they're meeting as a result of an artificial, ratings- and revenue-generating scheduling gimmick.
(2) American League baseball is boring and stupid. What if it's contagious?
(3) Uneven schedules - Teams from the same NL division play different AL teams. Baseball's the only sport left where the regular season is supposed to mean something, and this opponent variation can mean the difference between playing and watching in October. On the other hand, I guess we already decided the regular season didn't mean much when we implemented the wild card.
(4) Meaningless matchups made more meaningless (MMMMM). Say that one 10 times fast. The MMMMM du jour is San Diego-Detroit, but they occur every year and serve no useful purpose.
There are more such reasons, of course, but like I said before, none of these reasons matter. They either relate to my own eccentric preferences or are just part of a trade-off we all seem to be willing to accept in the name of generating more revenue for Major League owners.
No, the real reason interleague play bites is that I went camping this weekend. I was out in the woods and had no way of knowing how the Cubs did Friday and Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays. I wasn't even tempted to bore my camping companions with my Cubs obsession. I arrived at home yesterday just as Troy O'Leary unloaded a grand slam to put the Cubs up 4-2, followed immediately by Estes coughing up the lead. I may have been tempted to react to these developments in some way, but I just took a swig of my beer instead. I watched without emotion as Guthrie lobbed a fat pitch to Reed Johnson in the 10th to lose the game. Yes, I checked the box score just now, as I sure as hell couldn't remember the guy's name. I may have uttered an obscenity under my breath as the ball landed in the stands, but then I just took a shower. I wished the Cubs would have won, after all that game will count in the standings. But I get no real satisfaction when the Cubs beat Toronto. Or Tampa Bay. Or Baltimore. Conversely, I can't get too upset when the Cubs lose to these teams.
It's not that these teams are bad. Toronto is near the top of their division. Besides, if opponent quality was all that mattered, why do I get so mad when the Cubs lose to the Brewers?
I hate interleague play because it makes me care less about baseball. And what the hell good is baseball if it doesn't turn me into an irrational, obsessive, opinionated lunatic who scares the hell out of everyone who knows me?
Derek at 1:35 PM MST [link] --
wReigning NL Central Division Choke Artists
wOfficial Let's Play Two Favorite Cub (TM)
3-3, 3.22, 68 K
5/31: ND,8 IP,0 ER,1 H,9 K
Next start: 6/05 @ SD