Paul Sullivan has finally come out of hiding in time for another installment of Ask Paul. This week he addresses fundamentals, booing and the possibility of Johnny Damon wearing a Cub uniform in 2006.
I would never trade for Manny Ramirez and give away two outstanding prospects like Felix Pie and Rich Hill. The Cubs do not need a millionaire troublemaker on the team. I would rather suffer through this year and wait for Pie and Hill because I doubt if they will make the playoffs this year even with Ramirez. There are just too many teams ahead of them for the wild card. -- Bruce Anderson, Greenville, S.C.
What's this love affair with Jerome Williams? Why isn't Dusty going with a proven starter like Glendon Rusch? I don't get it. Rusch is consistent, Williams just average. -- Mike Lojkovic, Pacific Grove, Calif.
I believe the Cubs are thinking they need Rusch in the pen because the only other left-hander with success against lefties is Will Ohman. Williams has the stuff to be a fine pitcher, but he obviously has to condition himself better and learn to field his position.
We all know that LaTroy Hawkins didn't pitch well with the Cubs. But I think that the fans were too harsh on him in the game on July 26. Agree or disagree? -- Cynthia Lee, Chicago
I wasn't too upset about Hawkins being booed since he no longer pitches for the Cubs and it's part of baseball tradition to boo the least liked player on the opposing team. The chanting of "Hawkins (stinks)" was overboard, but he brought it on himself with his cavalier attitude towards the fans and his many blown saves.
The Cubs failed last year due to Chip Caray and Steve Stone, so appropriately, Chip and Steve were run out of town. This year Dusty thinks the fans booing is the problem. The fans are causing players to swing at the first pitch with the bases loaded, not take pitches, leave runners on third with less than two out, etc. Can't we get rid of the fans before this season is lost? -- Rog Palmer, Phoenix
I believe it would be against major-league policy to get rid of the fans since they've paid money for their tickets. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.
I've watched almost every Cubs game this year. They rarely hustle and they never do the little things to win ball games, i.e. cover first or steal a base. Is this, or should this be a direct reflection on the manager? I like Dusty Baker, but to me it seems that some of these guys should listen to Ryne Sandberg's Hall of Fame speech. -- Matt Koby, La Crosse, Wis.
I agree it is not a good reflection on Dusty or the pitching coach when three pitchers don't cover first in a single game, as happened on Aug. 3 in Philly. I don't agree that they "rarely hustle," but on the occasions they don't hustle, they should have to pay the price. Sandberg's speech was great, though he should've said those things when Sammy Sosa was his teammate.
Is it just me or are the Cubs a fundamentally bad team. They can't move runners along. They can't run the bases and they can't run players back to the bases. All of these are basic fundamentals, and for the last few seasons they have been just terrible when it comes to the fundamentals. John Maser, Plainfield, Ill.
No, it's not just you. The Cubs cannot do the fundamental things that a winning club should do, at least not on a consistent basis. Can't blame Moises Alou for this year's problems.
I agree with the comment made by closer Ryan Dempster that the high expectations of Cubs fans since the team's close call in the 2003 postseason have changed the atmosphere at Wrigley. The question is, how does the Cubs organization go about restoring their label as "the best fans in baseball?" I also agree with Dusty on the fans having an impact on a player's decision to play in Chicago. Nomar made it clear why he came back the second year.. "the fans". -- M. Siverly, Glasgow, Mont.
Believe it or not, the Cubs don't have a monopoly on the idea that they have "the best fans in baseball." This is just something that people say all the time to make the fans feel better. There is no such thing as the "best fans in baseball," because everyone has a different definition of what constitutes the term "best fans." There is no way that players won't come to Chicago because fans booed some of their players, or an ex-player like LaTroy Hawkins. If you pay them, they will come.
Do you think the Nomar will re-sign with the Cubs for a lower price? -- Gus Stisevic, Forest Park, Ill.
Nope. Someone will give him the money because he's Nomar.
Do you think Johnny Damon could be in a Cubs uniform next year? -- Brent Hinshaw, Mercer, Mo.
In theory, it's a great move, but it sounds like Damon is going to be asking for the sun, the moon and the stars. Also, his agent is Scott Boras, who wants the sun, moon, stars and a private jet to take the player and his family there 15 times a year. Damon would be a perfect fit in Chicago, but he wants to cash in big-time, and who can blame him?
What can you do to address the vulgar behavior recently displayed by Cubs fans against Hawkins? I'm still embarrassed about it. It's starting to get us a nationwide reputation, and not a good one. People have started to get on my case when I catch Cub games across the country at opposing ballparks. It's becoming a little much. We used to be known as the good guys. What happened? -- Joshua Schatzle, Bakersfield, Calif.
I find it hard to believe that this has become such a huge topic of discussion. Do people realize that back in the 1960s, the bleacher bums at Wrigley would harass outfielders with unbelievably abusive language, even bringing up their mistresses and personal problems? No one worried about how it affected the reputation of Cubs fans, or whether it was too harsh. Please!
Why bother sending a question when all we get are sarcastic answers? I'm inclined to quit reading the column as these jerks don't offer any real insight. -- Andy Hartman, Algonquin, Ill.
Why bother? So you can see your name on the Internet, of course. I thought Jeff Garlin did a great job pinch-hitting, and he can return any time he wants. (Not that he'd want to).
Well, thanks for all the relevant questions, and let's allow this booing topic to die a slow, natural death. Insert your own Cubs punchline here.