Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Midseason Report: NL Central

This is the House of Georges, and this is the HoG’s Midseason Baseball Report. In it we’ll examine each of baseball’s six divisions with a fan of a team in that division.

Today’s selection is the National League Central, and our divisional expert is The Catfish. He's a native of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, which is Brewer/Packer country (as well as the home of the Johnsonville Sausage Company), but The Catfish has always been a Cub fan and a Bud man.

You can find the Midseason Reports on the American League here: East, Central and West, as well as the National League East.

Old No. 7: The Cubs are coming on like mad right now, winning a ton of games. When a team is clicking like this, you almost don't want the All-Star Break to come. A lot of folks are attributing the run to Manager Lou Piniella's tirade and/or the Carlos Zambrano/Michael Barrett fight. What's your take?

Catfish: There is no doubt in my mind that Piniella's tirade sparked the Cubs. In his postgame press conference, he called out the entire team, wondering who the big time ball players were on his team. All I know is that since Barrett left, Carlos is pitching like a man on fire and the rest of the team has responded also. This just in, catchers hitting in the .250's are replaceable when they can't seem to get along with anybody on the team. Good bye Michael, hello Mr. Kendall.

Old No. 7: How do you feel about the trade for Jason Kendall? Were you bummed to see Barrett go, or did that have to happen? Do you think this lineup needs any offensive production out of the catcher position or is it more important to just have a steady hand for the pitching staff?

Catfish: Overall, Barrett was a great guy for the community. There were stories about Michael in Chicago picking up everyone's dinner tabs in a restaurant after someone recognized who he was. He was a guy I would love to have a beer with and just talk baseball (Editor's Note: That's not gay at all). He loves the game. So yes I am a bit bummed because, (Koyie) Hill, (Geovany) Soto, (Rob) Bowen and Kendall do not have nearly the bat Michael had. All and all, however, with such an emotional pitching staff (Big Z especially) Kendall's veteran demeanor should be calming.

Old No. 7: As far as defense in general, how much do you care about how good a defensive player someone is? Cesar Izturis and Felix Pie are great glovemen, but Piniella has given their spots to better hitters. Is this a good or a bad thing?

Catfish: It's a good thing. How many times can you watch a batter swing and miss or pop out to the pitcher? In the NL, where your team is already giving two outs with the catcher and the pitcher, you have to have some production out of the bottom of the order. Pie and Izturis are inning-killers.

Old No. 7: Overall, what grade do you give Piniella so far?

Catfish: I'd give Piniella a B so far. I'm most impressed with how he has not been afraid to move guys from position to position and in and out of the lineup. The guys have really responded to it. Look and (Ryan) Theriot and (Mark) DeRosa. Both have been all over the infield with DeRosa even playing right field. Soriano bats leadoff one day and fifth the next to get production against lefties. I love it, watching this team as much as I do, each day there is a new twist. More lemon wedges to come with Derrek Lee soon leaving for suspension.

Old No. 7: Would you like to see Mark Cuban buy the Cubs or no? Do you think he would overshadow the team?

Catfish: Buy the Cubs. Buy the Cubs. The only thing overshadowing this team is their inability to get to the big game. Cuban would spend Sox- and Yanks-type money to ensure we don't have to wait much longer. Keep (Jim) Hendry, I do like our team president.

Old No. 7: Do you think the Brewers can hang on? For such a young team they seem remarkably consistent. Would you be surprised if Ben Sheets held up all season, and if he does how hard will it be to catch Milwaukee (Editor's Note: Shortly after this sentence was typed, Sheets landed on the disabled list)?

Catfish: Welcome to the DL Mr. Sheets. Welcome to second place, Brewers if he is out for more than 2 weeks. The Brewers are a funny team in that they are pretty talented but in no way will they hold off the Cubs. The Brew Crew, in August, will be clipping the Cubs' toenails (Editor's Note: We don't know what this means either).

Old No. 7: I know you like the Brewers, as you're from Wisconsin, but not as much as your Cubbies. How come you don't hate them like you do the Packers?

Catfish: I grew up in Sheboygan without a stable dad, the Brewers were at the time in the AL. I liked both teams. But now that the Brewers are in the Cubs' division I wish the same harm to Sheets and (Prince) Fielder that I do to Favre. Sorry but broken legs for Fielder and favre equal lovely day for myself.

Old No. 7: Why does everyone hate the Cardinals? If they get Carpenter back are they dangerous?

Catfish: No, Cardinals eat my flowers. Cubs win the division. No danger.

Old No. 7: How good is Albert Pujols? At this stage of his career who would you compare him to? Do you think, barring injury, he'll end up as one of the all-time greats?

Catfish: Someone talked to me the other Day about Pujols and steroids. Pujols just doesn't scare me as much this year. Maybe it's because the Cards suck, but you just don't hear about him. I look at him as a good to great player but not one of the all-time greats.

Old No. 7: How nice is it to play in this division and get to beat up on teams like the Pirates and Reds? What's your feeling about these small Midwestern markets?

Catfish: Shitty owners, feel sorry for the fans, love crushing them.

Old No. 7: The Astros...they've quietly been one of the best teams of this decade. They have a good nucleus, but it's just not happening this year. What's your long-term read on Houston?

Catfish: Bye bye 'stros, better luck on Mars. I hate Lance Berkman. He runs Like a Neanderthal.

Old No. 7: How many games out do the Cubs have to be to get you to bail on the season and focus on the Bears? It seems as though, when it comes to the national media, everyone's quitting on the Bears as a Super Bowl contender. Do you think that they could actually be better than last year, or is that ludicrous?

Catfish: I think Bears first always. However, the Cubs are playing extremely entertaining baseball right now. The Bears rule Chicago, but come September, when the Cubs lead the division by four games, watch out. The city will be going crazy. I personally will be at the Bears' season opener and a Cubs game in September despite my living in Colorado. Go Cubs, Go Bears.

Old No. 7: What teams in the National League, outside the Central, are the scariest in terms of a postseason series right now? Who do you think will represent the NL in the World Series (other than the Cubs, of course)?

Catfish: The Cubs, of course!!!

Old No. 7: Who, other that Zambrano, you fucking homer, is the best pitcher in the NL right now?

Catfish: The Big Z, come on. No really, probably Jake Peavy. Tough to just get a run on that guy.


Unknown said...

Nice work Catfish. I would like an antipasto salad from Mama's Boy please. I miss that shit.