Is there anything the Cubs could have done differently to prevent the injury problems that have plagued the pitching staff the last few years? Bad luck can't explain all of it, especially when some clubs (the Braves come to mind) had top pitching every year. Who's responsible for keeping tabs on our pitchers' arms and ensuring their health? Thanks in advance. --Clark Hoover, Tel Aviv, Israel
The Cubs strength and conditioning coach is responsible for making sure the players are in good shape for the season. But I don't think he has the time to personally monitor all of them in the off-season, and they have to be professional enough to make sure they're ready and in shape by spring.
Kerry Wood said he tried Pilates last season, and he seemed to be in good physical shape coming to camp, so I don't know what he could've done to prevent his shoulder problem. It amazes me that ordinary fans are so knowledgeable about biomechanics and can blame it all on Wood's mechanics.
As for Prior, he told me last month he may have to throw during the entire off-season to keep his elbow ready for the season. Chad Fox is a great guy, but he was a considerable risk because of his past elbow problems. Borowski had a freak broken bone on a comebacker.
I covered the 2001 Sox when almost the entire pitching staff went down by midseason. Most of those guys are now out of baseball. It's a strange game, and it invites speculation. I think this was the longest answer in the history of Ask Paul.
Carlos Zambrano's emotional outbursts are getting out of hand! His reputation is costing the Cubs a lot of calls. I know he's been talked to, but obviously he doesn't care. Don't you think more drastic measures like a hefty fine or even a suspension need to be taken? He needs to grow up. --John Fitzmaurice, Laguna Hills, Calif.
Please tell me that someone has explained to Carlos Zambrano that his ejections hurt the team and are not only confined to him. He has to learn to place the team before his selfish emotions. If no one has, I will be more than happy to discuss this matter with him. --Ron Rymut, Alpharetta, Ga.
John, I don't think you can stop Carlos. You can only hope to contain him.
Ron, I'm sure he'll be glad to listen to you, and I look forward to watching you tell him.
You showed some guts for writing in the of questions: "Hawkins has to take responsibility for his own actions, something he doesn't seem to understand." When you offer candid criticism like this, what is the effect for you as a beat writer? --Thom Yorke, Baton Rouge La.
I'm pretty sure LaTroy Hawkins does not read Ask Paul, so theoretically, it would have absolutely no effect on our professional relationship. Hawkins did admit he should've held onto the ball after the rocket that ricocheted off Offerman's helmet, so to be fair, he has taken responsibility for his own actions.
I hear a lot of griping about Hawkins, but when is anybody going to ask ...where is Aramis? Has anybody seen him on base? He is playing like Sosa. --Mike Tyra, Camp Stanley, Korea
True, Aramis has gotten off lightly, just as Barrett and Hollandsworth and several other veterans have. They have to perform to expectations or the team won't have a chance to succeed. Now Ramirez has back spasms, like Sosa last year. Let's just hope he doesn't sneeze wrong.
Will the Tribune Company open up the checkbook if Jim Hendry can make a trade or two? --Scott Rosenberg, Charlotte, N.C.
That remains to be seen, though Hendry insisted that before the season they would be able to add players by July 31. Stay tuned.
We hear so much about "getaway" day in baseball. Just how long does it take between the final pitch of a game and the team airplane taking off? --Carlton Martin, St. Louis, Mo.
That's hard for me to say. Even though I am allowed to fly on the Cubs charter if my company pays for the ticket, I do not fly on the Cubs charter. But thanks for your interest in the Cubs charter.
I am going to the Friday game of the Cubs-Red Sox series. Who is singing in the seventh inning stretch? Just wondering. --Jeff Koscik, Geneseo, Ill.
Sorry, Jeff, I don't answer these types of questions. And in case you e-mailers haven't noticed, I also do not choose e-mails that fail to give the writer's entire name, or that are typed in all capital letters, or that include multiple misspellings. The ones with vulgar comments are also quickly deleted, and I also don't choose the 400- 500-word commentaries on the Cubs that end with a question for me. I thought this was obvious, but I was sadly mistaken. Please refrain from sending me these types of e-mails.
I must say was a bit dismayed with your last edition. What happened to the "wit and charm?" I could always picture you answering each e-mail and letting out a maniacal laugh. Please don't ruin that image for me! --Jason Neubauer, Appleton, Wis.
Too late. Thanks for all the very relevant e-mails, and for respecting the moratorium on Dusty Baker questions. Talk to you again in a couple weeks.