Ask Paul returns to answer your questions about the playoff rotation, whether the Cubs have the best football team in the majors, and whether he really was sleeping during one of Lou Piniella's press conference, as Lou claimed:
Are the Cubs serious when they say (or you speculate) that Ted Lilly will be one of their top three starters in a playoff series? Instead of Rich Harden? Really? -- L. Biitner, San Francisco
Lou Piniella told the media the other day: "I wish you all would put the uniform for a day and have the life of a manager for a day." I'm willing to do it for one day if I can also get Lou's salary. Since that's not going to happen, as least I can speculate on how it should be. And though it's all just speculation now, Lilly and Ryan Dempster have been their most consistent starters of late, and by that I mean guys you can count on to go seven or more innings if necessary. Harden has been great, but he's a five or six inning pitcher, until proven otherwise. Carlos Zambrano should be the ace, and when his head is in the game, he's shown he can be. But right now he's a question mark. If I had to pick the rotation today, I'd go with Dempster and Lilly in Games 1 and 2, Zambrano in Game 3 and Harden in Game 4. You don't want to overuse your bullpen early, so Harden is a good fit for Game 4. Zambrano should be smart enough to realize the other two deserve to start before him, based on their recent performances. If not, then just deal with it.
A couple of friends and I were eating sandwiches the other day when someone accidentally referred to the Bears as the Cubs. It got us thinking: would the Cubs have the best football team in the MLB? Also, aside from Mark DeRosa at quarterback and Jeff Samardzija at receiver, who would your starting 11 be for both offense and defense? (Players can play both sides of the ball.) --Matt Silver, Riverwoods, Ill.
Good question. Not sure, but here's my Cubs football team: Daryle Ward and Henry Blanco as defensive tackles, Zambrano and Wood as defensive ends. Carlos Marmol and Ronny Cedeno as cornerbacks, Reed Johnson and Lilly as safeties (think Plank and Fencik). Bob Howry and Micah Hoffpauir as outside linebackers, with Soto as middle linebacker.
Offensive would consist of DeRosa as QB, Samardzija and Alfonso Soriano as wideouts, Jim Edmonds as tight end, Mike Fontenot at fullback and Ryan Theriot and Felix Pie platooning as running backs. Derrek Lee and Kevin Hart are the guards, and Ward (the only two-way player) and Sean Marshall are the offensive tackles. Randy Wells just looks like a center, so I'd stick him there based on that. Lou would be the head coach/kicker, based on his dirt-kicking performance from last year, and Matt Sinatro would be defensive coordinator, because he's Matt Sinatro. Zambrano punts (like he punts waters coolers) and Pie is the kick and punt returner.
I was glad you did a story on players' thoughts concerning a new ballpark. I for a couple of years believed Wrigley needed to be updated. I agree with Edmonds that you can maintain Wrigley without having to start all over again. I think you can keep the outfield the way it is but tear out the grandstand area and modernize that part. Having been to Miller Park it is very nice and with the retractable roof it fits Midwest conditions very nicely. I love Wrigley Field but I think redoing the Grandstand area is long overdue. --Duane Willhite, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Everyone has a different idea about Wrigley, and I'm sure you could re-do the grandstands and make it more modernized. The bathrooms could definitely use some updating, as well. But if it involves moving out of Wrigley for any significant length of time, I'd be against it. Now that Yankees Stadium is cooked, Wrigley and Fenway are the only two baseball Meccas remaining, and they should be able to flourish a long time without any major tinkering to the look and feel. The rooftops are already out of control and spoiling the backdrop.
Paul, were you really dozing off during the interview with Lou Piniella the other day? Thanks for the laugh! --Doug newman, Frankfort, Ill.
No, I wasn't dozing off, as Piniella claimed during his postgame press conference. But I was taking a mental nap while he was discussing Rich Harden's pitch count, and he called me on it. Like Dusty Baker said when Sammy Sosa was caught with a corked bat in 2003: "What can you say but, 'Busted!'"
Hi, Paul, do you have any interest in doing an article about me for your column? I am the creator of the Miracle On Addison St shirts and posters you have seen around Wrigley Field. I sent you a shirt and poster about a month ago. Hope you got it! Please let me know! This is the Year! MIRACLE ON ADDISON ST! --Mike Piscitelli, Glendale Heights, Ill.
I sent your T-shirt to a homeless shelter, and no, I have no interest in doing an article on your T-shirt. And as long as I'm on the subject, to everyone else who has asked me to mention their songs, T-shirts, signs, Web sites, books and even drink specials named after the Cubs, like the Sori Surprise (Red Bull, rum and a splash of Mountain Dew) thanks, but no thanks.
Disclaimer: there "may be" a lineup question inferred within. Is Micah Hoffpauir really THAT bad a right fielder? It seems to me he earned a better look than he's gotten so far in September. --Shohn, Granger, Ind.
Not a very mobile outfielder, and Lou wants defense in right, so Hoffpauir is working an uphill battle to get playing time. He still may be valuable off the bench in the postseason if he makes the roster, but that's still to be determined.
Can we stop talking about CC Sabathia as a possible Cy Young now? His team failed to win both of the games he started against the team he was acquired to overtake. A truly remarkable season, but not a Cy Young. --Jeremy M., Lawrence, Kan.
I don't know who you're referring to, but I never spoke of Sabathia as a Cy Young, and if I had a vote, I'd probably give it to Tim Lincecum.
Paul, what is Kosuke Fukudome like? For all the press and hype with him coming into this season, I'm surprised I know so little about him. What kind of a personality does he have, what kind of teammate on a day-to-day basis? Does he keep to himself a lot, or does he have a lot of friends on the team? How has he taken his demotion, and how has he dealt with his general struggles this season? --Ethan, Chicago
He's very low key and reads a lot. I don't think he was prepared for the hype, and it worked against him after his average started coming down. I can't say I honestly know Fukudome enough to describe him, but he treats the Japanese media well, usually, so I'll take their word for it that he's just a quiet guy.
Hi, Paul, where does Pat Hughes go when he takes his inning break in the middle of the game? I'm guessing he hits up the concession stands and loads up on sugary treats that he would otherwise feel guilty eating in front of Ron Santo. Food such as cotton candy, funnel cakes and soda. --Anthony, Palatine, Ill.
I happen to see Pat in line at Burritoville near the Addison Street L during a recent break in the middle of the Cubs-Cards game on Friday. We both tried to pretend we didn't see each other, but I'm pretty sure it was him.
Hey Paul, I was watching some non-game coverage on Comcast of the Cubs the other day (specifically an interview of GM Jim Hendry discussing the impact of Hurricane Ike on the team) and I saw you in the background, and you looked awesome! Just like a completely scruffy, generally disheveled sportswriter! It was awesome. --Kaveh, Chicago
I invented the generally disheveled sportswriter look, but was too dumb to get the patent. Now everyone looks disheveled, especially now that Mariotti is gone from the pressbox. As you know, he's completely sheveled. Thanks for all the relevant questions. We'll do one more of these before the playoffs start, and hopefully more as they advance to the well ... you know.