05/04/09 4:01 PM ET
Inbox: No place in field to call up Fox
Hot prospect plays first, so would not get at-bats with Cubs
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
How are the Cubs justifying not calling up Jake Fox, who is currently tearing up Triple-A pitching?
-- Mike M., Morristown, N.J.
Fox is a hitter without a position. If he played shortstop or third, he would've been up. Fox was batting .420 for Triple-A Iowa with 12 homers, eight doubles and 31 RBIs in just 21 games, and is primarily playing first base. It's been tough enough for Micah Hoffpauir to get at-bats.
I don't understand why Lou Piniella would have Rich Harden run for Big Z after he just left with an injury. I know we have a limited bench right now, but why risk injury to Harden, too?
-- Chris L., Woodridge, Ill.
The bench was limited, and Harden is a good runner. He's already beaten a throw for an infield hit this year. Carlos Zambrano's injury was a freak thing -- watch the video and you can see him stretch with his left leg to reach first base. Plus, Zambrano was upset at what happened in the Marlins' fifth when Geovany Soto threw to first rather than get the runner at third. Who knows if Zambrano was trying to make up for that? I understand the concern, but I also think pitchers are good enough athletes to handle the occasional pinch-running duties.
"When you're too cautious at times, you're going to get hurt," Piniella said. "When you play the game and throw a little bit of caution to the wind, usually nothing happens. You're always taking chances."
Fergie Jenkins totaled more than 300 innings per year. How many pitchers did the Cubs carry on the 25-man roster then? I don't believe they needed 12 pitchers.
-- Ara W., Alpharetta, Ga.
They typically had 10 pitchers on the roster. The 1969 numbers are impressive. When Fergie totaled 311 1/3 innings over 43 games, there were four primary starters (Jenkins, Bill Hands, Ken Holtzman and Dick Selma) who started all but 16 games that year. The number of starts for the quartet is impressive: Jenkins 42 starts, Hands 41, Holtzman 39, Selma 25. The Cubs used 17 pitchers that season.
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-- Pete V., Xenia, Ohio
Yes re: Soriano, but Hill has been taking grounders at third for more than a week and was better prepared for the move. I haven't seen Soriano take grounders at second this year.
How many of the last 10-20 World Series winners were in first place on April 30 of that year? Just wondering, because there seems to be a lot of downers about the Cubs, and I still believe they can win this year.
-- Jamie G., Naperville, Ill.
I checked back to Piniella's 1990 Cincinnati Reds, and since then, 11 of the last 18 World Series champions have been in first (including one tie -- the 2006 Cardinals). The biggest deficit was 6 1/2 games, which the 2002 Angels overcame. Piniella's Reds had the largest lead at 4 1/2 games.
World Series Champions' records on April 30
2008 Philadelphia Phillies: 15-13, half-game back
2007 Boston Red Sox: 16-8, 3 1/2-game lead.
2006 St. Louis Cardinals: 17-8, tied for first.
2005 Chicago White Sox: 17-7, 1 1/2-game lead.
2004 Boston Red Sox: 15-6, three-game lead.
2003 Florida Marlins: 14-15, four games back.
2002 Anaheim Angels: 11-14, 6 1/2 games back.
2001: Arizona Diamondbacks: 13-12, two games back.
2000 New York Yankees: 15-8, 1 1/2-game lead.
1999 New York Yankees: 14-7, 2 1/2-game lead.
1998 New York Yankees: 17-6, half-game lead.
1997 Florida Marlins: 15-10, four games back.
1996 New York Yankees: 13-10, half-game lead.
1995 Atlanta Braves: 4-1, one-game lead.
1993 Toronto Blue Jays: 13-10, 2 1/2 games back.
1992 Toronto Blue Jays: 16-7, two-game lead.
1991 Minnesota Twins: 9-11, four games back.
1990 Cincinnati Reds: 13-3, 4 1/2 game lead.
CORRECTION: Last week, Scott J., of San Antonio, Texas, asked what the lowest number was worn by a Cubs pitcher. I said Charley Root, who wore No. 12. But according to a new book, "Cubs by the Numbers," co-written by Kasey Ignarski, Al Yellon and Matt Silverman, it seems the answer is No. 2.
Walt Lanfranconi wore No. 3 when he pitched in relief against the Phillies on Sept. 12, 1941. Seven years later, Tony Jacobs took the mound wearing No. 2, and gave up one run on three hits over two innings in an 8-1 loss at Ebbets Field. He pitched once more, two innings in one game in 1955 for St. Louis, and that was it. The lowest numbered Cubs pitcher to record a win was Johnny "Bear Tracks" Schmitz, who wore No. 7 on Sept. 10, 1941, just prior to Lanfranconi's game. Schmitz switched to No. 31 the following year. Thanks for the help.