With my first column of the baseball season, I like to caution that it's easier to jump to conclusions than it is to draw them after six games.
Naturally, there's the angst that goes with the Cubs posting a disappointing 3-3 record against the Pirates and Diamondbacks.
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But there's the same angst in Boston, where the Red Sox are 0-6, and in St. Louis, where the Cards are 2-4, prompting a media-session walkout by manager Tony La Russa. We'll get to that in bit.
This is what we've got so far:
Quade is no Lou:
One of the biggest differences between former manager Lou Piniella and current boss Mike Quade is the length of the postgame news conference, particularly after losses.
With digital recorders in use nowadays, it was always fun to time Piniella after tough losses. Sometimes, Lou would go 1 minute, 44 seconds. Sometimes, it would be 1 minute, 16 seconds. Now and then, especially after a late-night loss, Lou wouldn't show at all.
With Quade, it's altogether different. Late in spring training, he admitted that his own mom will call with questions and second-guesses, so why not take them from the media?
Quade grew up in the suburbs, so he gets the fascination with the Cubs and the passion of the fans. As a sports fan himself, he finds himself asking questions when he watches a game on TV. So maybe that's why he sits in the interview room after the game and talks for 10-15 minutes, allowing us to dissect strategy sessions without getting testy or defensive.
In fairness to Piniella, he never went off on the beat reporters, but if he perceived a journalist to be a gadfly or somebody repeatedly asking if he were "frustrated," look out.
Quade reminds me a little of Jim Riggleman in that respect. Like Riggleman, Quade is extremely well prepared for games. He has an answer for every question, and he delivers it without belittling the person asking.
Not sure how he reacts to his mom's second-guessing, though.
That ends that:
In winning just two of their first six games, the Cardinals have scored a grand total of 15 runs. After Wednesday's 3-1 loss to the Pirates, Tony La Russa took exception to a line of questioning that wouldn't let up on the offense.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported it this way:
"For everybody listening out there, you think I'm being unreasonable?" La Russa said, apparently addressing the television audience. "It's the first week of the season! I don't understand this. Are you going to tell me Yadier (Molina) doesn't drive in big runs? Are you going to tell me Albert (Pujols) can't hit? Are you going to tell me the second baseman (Skip Schumaker) and shortstop (Ryan Theriot) haven't hit? David Freese? You don't think he's going to hit? You think Matt's (Holliday) going to hit? You think Colby's (Rasmus) going to hit? You think (Lance) Berkman's going to hit?"
It's an old La Russa tactic of trying to intimidate a small-market media corps. It doesn't work there, either.
Nobody with the Cubs was expressing any regrets about the release of Carlos Silva in the wake of Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells coming down with injuries.
If Silva would have played his cards right and kept his mouth shut instead of using the media to criticize pitching coach Mark Riggins, he could have been working in Arizona with the Cubs' Class AAA Iowa club. He might have gotten a start Sunday in Milwaukee or Tuesday in Houston instead of sitting home waiting for calls that might never come.
That said, the Cubs will be hard pressed to replace 40 percent of their rotation. Casey Coleman deserves the chance he's getting. He pitched well for the Cubs last year. Whether it's James Russell or Thomas Diamond or someone else in the fifth spot, there's an opportunity for someone to grab.
Where's the speed?
We'll end by wishing the Cubs Godspeed, or any kind of speed. They head into Milwaukee being the only team in major-league baseball without a stolen base.
They've attempted only 1, with Darwin Barney thrown out at second on Opening Day. I'm not a big advocate of the stolen base, especially when the Cubs were only 7-for-15 in spring training (you want to be around 70-75 percent).
But a little something to put into the opponent's mind can be a useful weapon. The problem will be finding a basestealer. Kosuke Fukudome is off to a good start with a .526 on-base percentage, but he's not a stolen-base threat. Neither is Jeff Baker.
But with Starlin Castro making contact with everything he swings at in the No. 2 spot, maybe a hit-and-run now and then is in order. Otherwise, we may be looking at a team that doesn't steal 20 bases all year.
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