Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

NL Central Watch: July 25

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Here's a quick glance at what's happening around the National League Central.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin shot down rumors he is near a deal for Orioles closer George Sherrill. Sources have told the Sun-Times the O's are not expected to move Sherrill to ANY team before the July 31 non-waivers trade deadline. After their sweep of the Cardinals, the Brewers are 28-26 on the road, a major turnaround for a club that went 32-49 away from Miller Park last season, a key reason they couldn't hold off the Cubs in the division race, notes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who adds the Brewers haven't had a winning season on the road since 1999 (42-39), the last year they won at least six away games in a row until now.

Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols, who went 0-for-2 in a loss to the Brewers on Thursday night, hasn't homered since a July 4 game against the Cubs. ''Other people can worry about it. You can worry about it. But I don't worry about it,'' Pujols said. It's a safe bet manager Tony La Russa is a little worried. If you haven't noticed, the Cardinals have a terrible bullpen. If they don't make a deal this week, there is no way they can stay in the hunt with their current group of relievers. Meanwhile, La Russa will stick with his current setup of 13 pitchers and four bench players.

Meanwhile, Jack Curry of the New York Times examines the broken-bat trend. Since July 2, all 30 teams have been instructed to save their broken bats, a span of 260 games that has produced 257 broken bats, or nearly one per game, Curry writes.

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I don't understand the love affair that Lou Pinella has with Bob Howry. Opponents are hitting .329 against him - .329! His ERA is over 5.20 (and climbing). He's given up at least one earned run in 18 of his 50 appearances including 4 of his last 5. He's allowed 63 hits in 50 innings! How can a pitcher like this be allowed to work the 8th and 9th innings? Even when Wood returns, this is the guy you want working the 7th and possibly 8th? Why not give newly acquired Chad Gaudin a chance? Why not let Scott Eyre be given this role? According to Lou, Bob Howry "has the experience". So what? He can't get the job done. He's always been a slow starter, but I think he's gone from slow to done. He throws almost all fastballs that come in at 90-91 without much movement. Opponents are having fights at the bat rack to get up against this. If Lou continues to parade this guy out and Jim Hendry doesn't make a move to get another reliver, look for the Cubs to be battling for the Wild Card because the Brewers will win this division by 5 games.

Bobby Howry may be the biggest enigma on this team... I feel like it is almost a scientific fact...Howry can only pitch in the 7th/8th inning with a 2 run lead (no more, no less) If he comes in when the Cubs are losing he never fails to add to the deficit...when the Cubs are winning by 5 or more runs, he gives up at least two...and now he cant hold a tie game, however he seems to always shut the opponents down in a hold/save situation.

Howry needs to go back to throwing to the outside corner at the knees. I don't know why he keeps trying to sneak pitches above the waist past hitters. He does not have the zip on his fastball to do it. What is the problem with Howry....does he not have the control to go low and outside, does he have delusions he can throw it by hitters, or is Soto confused and calling for the wrong location?

Pinella knows how to handle a bullpen. It is a long season and you just can't give up on players that go through bad times. A players confidence needs to be handled carefully. Howry is a vet who has been through it before. Pinella is not stupid. If Howry doesn't turn things around soon Lou will get someone else in there that can do the job. He has a knack for doing it. The Cubs have depth in pitching so he has his options.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris De Luca published on July 25, 2008 10:17 AM.

NL Central Watch: July 23 was the previous entry in this blog.

NL Central Watch: July 30 is the next entry in this blog.

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