Monday, October 31, 2005
One Down, Ones that Matter to Come
Glendon Rusch signed a 2-year contract extension worth a reported $3 million per year. Wow. $6 million for a guy that Dusty misused and who was released by the Brewers not long ago.
Excuse me for a lack of excitement.
From the Arizona Fall League:
TM PLAYERS AB R H BI BB SO AVG
CHC M.Murton, LF 4 1 2 0 0 0 .381 - 2 SB
TM PITCHER IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
CHC A.Guzman 5.0 0 0 0 3 3 0 3.92
In Case You Missed This
Last Friday, whilst your humble author was learning about real estate lending and getting bits of newspaper out of his hair, Andy Dolan typed the best look-forward piece on the Cubs you'll find anywhere.
And that's not only because he shilled for this page's hatred of all things Korey.
What you get is actual thought and projection about what the Cubs have and should do (and should have done last year). Go in search of that from any 6-figure salaried columnist published in the daily papers and you might as well be Leonard Nimoy.
Check the sections on Nomar and where to use him. Check on Matt "Daddy" Murton and how Dusty screwed the pooch by not playing him in center or right last year when it didn't matter. Check his thoughts on Mark Prior and be scared that he's dead on.
To be sure, they are far from perfect over there. While it took Desipio two years to figure out that Korey sucked, they are getting better. This year, it only took about 6 weeks to get them off the idea that Mark Prior was the best pitcher anyone had ever seen and realize that, while still very good, he's not been lights out for 2 seasons now.
You don't find this type of cogent thought in the MSM anymore. Perhaps that's part of the reason that the MSM is dying. Maybe someone over on North Michigan Avenue might think about giving some column inches to someone other that the guys on payroll (*cough* Downey *cough*) (*cough* Morrissey *cough*)
I've got a suggestion for them if they ever decide to make a change.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Hooray For Hollywood
Now that Paul DePodesta is about to be fired as general manager of the LA Dodgers, the Dusty Baker-to-LA talk can heat up again.
This blog speculated that the only way Dusty heads to LA was if DePo was deposed. Now that he has, and Dodger owner Frank McCourt seems set on hiring an ex-Dodger (hence the interviews with Orel Hershieser), Dusty fits in Chevez Ravine.
Let's make this happen. Start the off-season right, Mr. Hendry!
Friday, October 28, 2005
According to my source with ties inside Tribune Tower, here are the early rumors for Jim Hendry's offseason plans:
1) Felix Pie will be given every chance to win the CF job in spring training. That means, no Juan Pierre, no Torii Hunter, no Kenny Lofton. No nothing.
2) Brian Giles is not a target as a free agent, nor is anyone else who is a thumper for RF. Where the offense will come from without such a move remains a mystery to me.
3) Rafael Furcal is a target.
We'll see what happens. If this pans out, the Cubs will be a fourth place team once again, maybe fifth if Pittsburgh improves. At this point, only the Reds are a lock to be worse than the Cubs in 2006.
Just Before Noon Today
Generally, I find myself tied to a desk in the north suburbs of Chicago. Today, I happened to find myself at the Chicago Bar Association for some training. At 11:50 AM, we were let out for lunch. Having missed the 1986 Chicago Bear post-Superbowl XX celebration, I walked over to LaSalle Street to see what a tickertape parade looks like.
Well, at 7 minutes to 12, I managed to get about 7 feet from the street. I was in front of the WGN minicam on the street between the Bank of America building and the Rookery. It was crowded, but not overly so.
The parade started about 25 minutes late. The buses went by and everyone screamed. Seeing Mayor Daley smiling ear-to-ear in his Sox hat was interesting. Jerry Reisndorf, sitting with a little girl on his lap mostly emotionless even more so. I watched in silence and headed back to training.
The confetti in the air was amazing. The rest brought no emotion from me. What I WAS struck by was the lack of street vendors hawking White Sox chazarai. I saw two vendors all day. Perhaps the bulk of them were up closer to the rally. But the absence of 5,000 t-shirts for sale surprised me.
If this is the last time in my life that we get to see a tickertape parade in Chicago (the one before the Bears was 1970 for the crew- of Apollo 13, I believe), at least I saw it.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Almost Everyone Loves a Parade
The Associated Press is reporting the the Chicago White Sox World Series Victory Parade has been rescheduled from Monday, October 31st to Friday, October 28th.
Why the rush?
(Chicago Mayor Richard) Daley says the city moved up its plans for the celebration to tomorrow instead of Monday because many players wanted to leave town.
Can you imagine the speeches?
"I love this city! I love the fans! Ok, gotta bolt!"
It seems Hot Dog Boy has run into more trouble at WSCR. It seems he's had a sidekick for 10 years named Fritzy. That I've never heard of him until today only speaks well of me as it means I've avoided Hot Dog Boy's show all these years.
Anyway, back to the story at hand. On October 13th, Fritzy decided to make fun of Jews and how they observe Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. He said that Jews, "go to temple for two hours, atone for their sins and then go right out flim-flamming again."
According to Robert Feder's column today, Fritzy was fired. Hot Dog Boy appealed to his bosses to try to save Fritzy and his ongoing ethnic bashing, but they replied with a solid, "No."
Perhaps having a boss named Mitch Rosen was a big part of the reason Frtizy's comments were taken so seriously.
Good for WSCR. Now, all you need to do is lose the guy that gave Fritzy the airtime.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Game On! Anyone Watching?
World Series May Attract Smallest Audience Ever
This year's World Series matchup between the Chicago White Sox and the Houston Astros was nowhere near the television draw of last year's. Game 1 on Saturday averaged 15 million viewers, down from 21 million a year ago while Game 2 averaged 17.2 million, down from 25.5 million. If the trend continues, this year's Series is likely to wind up as the least-watched in history, while last year's produced the biggest audience since 1995. (Tuesday's ratings for the Series were up considerably but still far behind last year's.)
The top ten shows of the week according to Nielsen Research:
1. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 17.7/27.0;
2. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 15.9/23.0;
3. Without a Trace, CBS, 13.4/22.0;
4. Lost, ABC, 12.7/19.0;
5. CSI: Miami, CBS, 12.1/19.0;
6. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 11.9/18.0;
7. NCIS, CBS, 11.6/18.0;
8. MLB World Series Game 2 -- Houston vs. Chicago, Fox, 11.1/17.0;
9. Commander in Chief, ABC, 10.7/16.0;
10. 60 Minutes, CBS, 10.6/17.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
The Green Zone
Sure, the Bears are in first place. And, with the way the NFC North is shaping up, they can probably secure a playoff spot by beating the Lions this weekend in Detroit.
But, here at Ivy Chat, we are obsessed with all things finance. Crains' Chicago Business has a profile of the Bears' ownership that is very interesting. And, it seems according to some analysts, winning is all that stands in the way of a sale of the Bears:
The Bears franchise is worth an estimated $871 million, according to Forbes, which ranked it 10th in its annual survey of NFL franchise values. But as Forbes Senior Editor Michael Ozanian put it, "There's no way the Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers should be worth more than the Bears."
Stephen Zucker, president of Chicago-based Zucker Sports Management, agrees, but says all the pieces are in place to boost the team's revenues and catapult it into the billion-dollar club alongside the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots.
"They have a real good lease deal with the new Soldier Field stadium, and a new revenue stream from seat licensing," says Mr. Zucker. "All they have to do is start winning."
Virginia McCaskey and her 11 children control 80% of the club and have always insisted they would never cash out their inheritance.
But Virginia is the glue. She votes the stock of her children as well as her own, even though the franchise is already in the hands of the children thanks to a generation-skipping mechanism that was designed to avoid estate taxes.
Some reports have suggested that some of the 11 Halas grandchildren might break ranks eventually. But the family has prepared for such an eventuality by structuring different classes of stock in such a way as to allow the family to retain voting control even if some of the clan opt out.
What's more, the McCaskey family has first right of refusal on the sale of any minority stock. Second refusal goes to the Bears' minority owners, Patrick Ryan, executive chairman of Aon Corp., and Aon director Andrew McKenna. They own 19.7% of the Bears — the portion that once belonged to Mugs Halas.
Sometimes, the most interesting sports news is no where near a box score.
Who Is It?
More courtesy the LA Times:
There is little chance the Dodgers would announce their (new manager) before Thursday. The World Series must conclude and DePodesta has said that Frank McCourt will meet with more than one finalist.
Besides (Orel Hershiser and Terry) Collins, the other candidates interviewed were Dodger triple-A manager Jerry Royster, San Francisco bench coach Ron Wotus, fired Detroit manager Alan Trammell and Cleveland minor league manager Torey Lovullo.
The article is silent on who are finalists. It simply names these names as interviewees.
I don't think Dusty is going anywhere, but this story is still fun to watch. And hope.
Monday, October 24, 2005
The Big One
Yes, this could really happen. The Cubs could be sold says Crains' Chicago Business.
Tribune Co. CEO Dennis J. FitzSimons is considering selling assets to prop up his company's shares, and that's got some wondering if the Chicago Cubs could go on the block.
Investors expect Mr. FitzSimons' search for salable assets to focus on holdings not fundamental to the company's primary businesses of publishing and broadcasting.
Selling the Cubs "makes more sense now than it has in a while," says John Miller, a vice-president at Chicago-based Ariel Capital Management LLC, Tribune's fifth-largest shareholder. "They're trying to get the stock turned around, so they tried buying back their shares, and that didn't work. Now, they move on to non-core assets, like the Cubs."
Asset: Chicago Cubs (100% Tribune-owned)
Estimated sale value: $400 million to $550 million
Why sell? With Wrigley Field expansion set to begin and attendance at all-time highs, the team would fetch a premium. Tribune could demand long-term broadcast rights in any deal.
Why not? Tribune bought the team for $20.5 million in 1981, so the tax hit could be large. "They'd also be very wary of ever being in a position to bid for the Cubs' broadcast rights, no matter how far in the future it is," says Barrington Research Associates Inc. Analyst James Goss.
Now, before anyone leaps up and screams how wonderful this would be, remember that it also takes a good buyer to make everything work out. For all their foibles, the Trib has done a great job keeping Wrigley up to date and they have spent dollars on the team in recent years.
Bring in a Mark Cuban? I'm all for it. But just look at what's happening with the Dodgers to see the risks in a change in ownership. All we need is some gasbag come in here and start screaming that Wrigley is too small with too few skyboxes. Next thing you know and the Cubs are playing in Barrington at ReMax Field.
Get your hopes up, but have them tempered by reality.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
And The Saga Continues
Cubs' fans are still being held hostage by what happens in LA with the Dodgers. Well, it gets more and more interesting
The theory coursing through baseball circles is (Dodger owner Frank) McCourt will have final say on the manager, then make a decision on his general manager, perhaps making a change if what he perceives as a more attractive candidate — Brian Cashman, Theo Epstein, Mark Newman, Jim Bowden, Kevin Towers — is still available.
If DePodesta leaves, Dusty to LA becomes more plausible. A DePodesta exist may also explian the delay in hiring a new maanger -- it was supposed to be over already.
But check this buried line in the article.
But little in the McCourt occupancy of the Dodgers suggests rationality, particularly in the realm of the public relations department, where employee turnover has reached a Steinbrenner-like pace and attracted the attention of the highest offices in baseball. People in the commissioner's office are starting to ask questions.
What the hell is grabbing Selig's attention?
It's hurry up and wait in Dodger town.
It has been eight days since General Manager Paul DePodesta said he would include former Dodger players in expanding the list of candidates from the original five interviewed, who also include San Francisco bench coach Ron Wotus, fired Detroit manager Alan Trammell and Cleveland minor league manager Torey Lovullo.
Turns out only former Dodger pitching great Orel Hershiser was given an interview, although DePodesta said several other candidates were "talked to or about." Hershiser flew home to Dallas on Sunday after attending a college football game Saturday and does not expect to be interviewed until at least Tuesday.
Friday, October 21, 2005
In My Life
In 38 mostly wonderful years on this planet, I, along with the bulk of the world, have been able to witness one world championship by the Boston Red Sox and one American League Pennant by the Chicago White Sox.
My daughter accomplished the same thing in her first 363 days of life.
"I don't look at it like we'd do anything differently," said Cubs general manager Jim Henry, whose team finished fourth in the National League Central with a record of 79-83. "We're going to have some personnel changes on the field. And we're going to try to fix some of the things that did not go well for us this year."
"Really, you can't look at it as any additional philosophical changes or pressure. It's good for them (the Sox). They certainly earned where they're at. They had a great year from start to finish, and they deserve to be where they're at. I have a lot of respect for the way they did it. My hat's off to them. We would have liked for it to have happened to us first, but there's nothing but respect for the way they did it."
Yes. Seeing a winner on the other side of town should not put additional pressure on you.
What should is seeing groups of 8-year olds screaming "Go Sox!" as they wait to enter their schools. That's your revenue stream being trained to ignore your product, Jim. Maybe the suits at Trib Tower need to take notice. Lose a game? Pshaw. Lose revenue? Urp!
Thursday, October 20, 2005
And The Winner of the World Series Is....
The Houston Astros.
2002 World Champion - California Angels (AL Wild Card representative)
2003 World Champion - Florida Marlins (NL Wild Card representative)
2004 World Champion - Boston Red Sox (AL Wild Card representative)
Wild Cards just seem to keep winning in the 21st Century.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Time To Die...
Good f'n riddance to Busch Stadium, one of the last truly awful baseball stadiums. I was there once. Decent seats if you sat downstairs. Upstairs, and you were so far from the action you might as well have been in Branson.
Architecture: Bland (yes, it mimics the Arch -- how tough was that to conceive?)
Fans: Unbranched family tree... uh... Overrated
I just hope they let Vince Coleman destroy the tarp machine.
I'm One Today
What a difference a year makes.
There is a free agent that I wouldn't mind seeing the Cubs get for next year. He's not a name that's been bandied about in any media sources for the Cubs. He's a third baseman by trade, but can and has played second at some point in each of the past three seasons.
Getting this guy would allow the Cubs to trade Todd Walker for whatever they can get for him. He could be a safety net for the tenuous hamstring of Aramis Ramirez. He's a low strikeout, solid batting average/OBP guy. He'd come fairly cheap.
Oh, and he used to be a Cub.
Even if the Cubs get Furcal, a move of which I'm not a huge fan, getting this guy at second wouldn't be too bad.
Bring me Bill Mueller.
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
"Did You See That?"
The amazing thing about the game last night was not the way it ended. Rather, the unique way in major sports that it did end. Let's set the stage at the Superbowl. Fourth Quarter. Houston leads by two. St. Louis has a last chance to score... The ball is in field goal range. Time expiring...
Houston snaps the ball and kneels down!
An official blows his whistle. "Time has expired! The game is over! Houston wins!" he announces.
The same scenario holds for basketball and even hockey. If there's a clock in the game last night, Albert Pujoles never even comes to the plate.
And, with a clock, 44,000 faces never look like this.
Baseball is, by far, bar none, the greatest sport game played on this planet today. Last night was just the latest proof.
Friday, October 14, 2005
It looks like Dusty Baker is not the fifth candidate for the Dodgers' managerial job.
Ron Wotus, the San Francisco Giant bench coach, was announced Monday as the fifth candidate, joining Dodger minor league staffers Terry Collins and Jerry Royster, recently fired Detroit Tiger manager Alan Trammell and Cleveland Indian minor league manager Torey Lovullo.
Then again, when you read the whole article, these five names may not be the only five considered.
DePodesta has a secondary list that he said is deep and strong. It is unknown whether that list contains candidates with more major league managerial experience than the initial five.
I wonder if any of these men
Just In Case
If you don't remember Mickey Owen (his name is referenced a few posts below), Bill Jauss reminds us of his story and how it affected the Dodgers and the Yankees in the 1941 World Series.
Dodgers catcher Mickey Owen clearly missed Tommy Henrich's swinging third strike to trigger a four-run rally as the Yankees won 7-4 to a 3-1 lead in the 1941 Series.
Henrich had run the count to 3-2 against Dodgers reliever Hugh Casey with Brooklyn leading 4-3 at Ebbets Field.
Dodgers fans shrieked in delight as Henrich swung and missed a low pitch by a foot, apparently tying the series at two games apiece.
But the cheers suddenly stopped when they saw the ball elude Owen and travel back to the screen. Henrich reached first base.
Joe DiMaggio, the on-deck hitter, described the scene in his 1946 autobiography "Lucky To Be a Yankee":
"The pitch broke sharply downward. Some insisted that Casey sneaked in a spitball, and it broke more sharply than Mickey expected. My own theory is that it was a curveball on which Casey put everything he had, and it was a sharper curve than Mickey expected."
In the comments, Kasey (a long time participant in the Eskimo.com Cubs' listserve) links to this article which suggests that Peoria native, Northwestern graduate, and two time Chicago Cub Joe Girardi may not be moving to Florida so fast:
The Yankees' bench coach told New York's WFAN Radio on Thursday that even if both the Marlins and Devil Rays offer him a chance to manage, he might stay put.
"I think I have a very good chance of getting one of these jobs, but to me the situation has to be right," Girardi said. "I'm not sure exactly what that means, but it has to be right for me to leave."
Asked if he needed assurances his next employer was committed to winning, Girardi answered cryptically.
"That's part of it," he said. "But you know there's other opportunities that I'm thinking about that could possibly open up later on. I'm not sure."
Girardi, who lives in Chicago, could have his eye on the Cubs managing job, where Dusty Baker might be on shaky ground. Girardi also is considered the top in-house candidate to replace Yankees manager Joe Torre should he leave.
Clearly, there is something up here. Between the fifth Dodger candidate, the clear disagreements between Dusty Baker and Jim Hendry, the timing of Dusty's extension (after all managerial openings are filled), and these statements from Girardi all combine to suggest that Dusty Baker is currently free to take an offer from another team.
Now, it's entirely possible that Dusty won't go anywhere and, a month from now, we'll get a few rounds of denials from Baker and Hendry.
But something is up. Cubs fans who want success in 2006 need to hope this comes to fruition.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Arnold Rothstein's great-grandson was seen leaving US Cellular Field holding a scrap of paper with Doug Eddings' phone number on it.
Mickey Owen's grandaughter is rumored to be dating Josh Paul.
Spleen To Get Emergency Start
Ailing Colon left off ALCS roster by Angels
He's a Machine
From yesterdays Arizona Fall League games:
TM PLAYERS AB R H BI BB SO AVG
CHC M.Murton, LF 4 2 3 0 1 1 .636 - 3 2B
Go, Big Red, go.
The Internet is Endless
You just knew it had to exist.
From Barry Rozner's column today (empahsis added):
ESPN broadcaster Joe Morgan was walking along the concourse, presumably to be recognized, when a few fans started yelling, "Hey, Joe, we hate Ryne Sandberg, too!"
Some other fans followed and were clapping, but Morgan said, "Everybody thinks I don’t like him, but that’s not true."
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
A Head Scratcher
Let's figure this out. Larry Rothschild turns down three years guaranteed to go to Detroit and work in a park built to help pitchers. Instead, he stays in Chicago with a broken down pitching staff working for a manager who is on the civic hotseat, if not the corporate hot seat.
Why would he do that? One possible answer is that Rothschild has a huge upside to stay. What could that be? A possible upside would be if Dusty were the fifth name in the Dodgers' managerial search. Were Dusty to leave, Rothschild and Grady Little would be the obvious front runners to replace Dusty. Becoming manager of the Cubs is clearly better than three years in Detroit. Nothing else makes any sense, other than the possibility that Rothschild is a candidate for a pre-frontal lobotomy.
I still don't see Dusty leaving. But there is enough goofiness surrounding this team, this story included, that nothing would surprise me.
Monday, October 10, 2005
That's as clutch a rookie post-season performance that I can recall going back to the Kansas City Royals' Bret Saberhagen in Game 7 of the 1985 World Series.
One of my groomsmen, his dad was CFO for the Angels for 20 years. I'm cheering for his team. Regardless who the opponent is.
Quote of the Day
"You can't have different philosophies in these positions. You can't have the GM think one thing and the manager thinking another. That's a recipe for disaster." - Brian Cashman, General Manager of the New York Yankees
This was from a column by the LA Times' TJ Simmers.
This is old news. What becomes more and more clear is that the failure of the 2005 Cubs shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. What do you think it means when the GM (Jim Hendry) wants a Ryan Dempster to close, but the manager (Dusty Baker) wants a LaTroy Hawkins?
It means that Hendry and Dusty aren't on the same page.
If both these men are back in their current positions for 2006, the Cubs will have a losing record. Mark it down.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Two days, two times I wish I had a hammer to pound my brains out from listening to Joe Morgan. First, Angels vs. Yankees on Friday. Alex Rodriguez makes a delayed throw to second that clearly pulls Robinson Cano off the bag. Morgan's verdict? "I don't agree with that."
What Morgan means (and never explains) is that he feels a second sacker should get credit for a phantom tag in that case. Well, phantom tags are OK in my book on the odd double play. But not when it's BLATANT as a result of a BAD PLAY.
Then, earlier tonight. Larry Walker leans into a pitch and gets awarded first base. "It's not like he leaned into it," says Morgan, RIGHT AS THE REPLAY SHOWS WALKER LEANING!!!
How ESPN continues to allow this man on the air is beyond belief.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Another War Coming to a Close
The next wave of high definition DVD players cannot get here soon enough. Due to the Six Year Old, the Three Year Old, and the Almost One Year Old, very few movies are attended and little TV is watched in our house. Therefore, plunking down 2 grand for a 50 inch LCD screen doesn't make much sense.
We do, however, rent a boatload of movies and TV shows once they are released on DVD (note: do NOT waste your time on "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" - what a pathetic use of excellent source material). An investment in a 1080i capable TV would make sense if there were 1080i (or even 720p) DVDs available.
Looks like the availability is about six months away.
There are two competing technologies for high def DVD. The first is Toshiba's HD DVD, the second is Sony and Blu-Ray. HD DVD is, supposedly, easier to manufacture as existing DVD pressing lines can be easily converted to the HD pressin process. Blu-Ray offers a better copy protection AND up to twice the storage capacity (up to 100 GB on a single disc).
Toshiba had an early lead, but Sony is putting a Blu-Ray into Playstation 3 which is due in the early Spring. The studios, which were in line with Toshiba, are now starting to fall in with Sony.
Business Week has two fascinating articles on the whole thing. The first is about Time Warner's decision to endorse Blu-Ray. The second goes over the history of the format war.
Check them out and be sure to note the Bill Gates stuff. Bill Gates may have a huge point on distribution. If the future is going to be "discless", then Blu-Ray may, ultimately, be a transitory technology unless they adopt some of what Microsoft is proposing.
I just want whatever's gonna give me the best picture.
Please! Please! Please!
From the LA Times and Steve Henson:
Four of the five managerial candidates to be interviewed by the Dodgers next week will be Terry Collins, Jerry Royster, Alan Trammell and Torey Lovullo, General Manager Paul DePodesta said Wednesday.
DePodesta would not divulge the fifth candidate because he has been unable to reach him. The person is employed by another team not in the playoffs.
The fifth name can't be Dusty, can it? He *has* been stuck in organizational meetings all week and that might make it tough for him to talk to DePodesta.
Then again, Dusty won't come cheap (and the Dodger's owner is cheap), and Dusty's 1-2 punch of Korey-Neifi doesn't exactly scream "MONEYBALL-OBP" does it?
Then again, if Dusty wants out of Chicago bad enough... And the Cubs have signaled that they are offering only 2 more years and it won't be offered until February...
A few weeks back, The Wife and I burned through the DVDs of season one of Lost. It was like crack. An ep would end and we'd just start the next one. We probably watched the whole season in about 7 days. It was great. The show was a lot of fun. It had twisted plot lines, multiple plot lines, whacky characters, monsters and polar bears, mysteries. The show was one of the most original things I'd ever seen.
What was going on on this island? Were they dead and in purgatory? Some good vs. evil fight? Where is the radio transmitter? Why were "the numbers" transmitted from the island as far back as World War II? Was Claire's baby a "Christ" character?
We couldn't wait for the second season to start.
Well, some things just aren't worth waiting for. So far, we've seen the same scene three times. About two-thirds of the cast has been basically ignored. We're given gobbledygook about Dharma that seems more red herring than actual plot development (and makes me long for the Geordi LaForge days of "phase inducer" tech speak). The raft gets blown up and the stand Great White shark attacks. Didn't see that coming.
It seems that the writers got so interested in "the vault" that they forgot about everything else. Well, maybe Locke will stay at the computer and we'll never see him again. Too bad if it means losing Locke as a character, but good if it means the end of the Vault.
Not much of a payoff so far. What a let down.
And so little Evangeline Lilly.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
As has become the norm, Christian Ruzich over at The Cub Reporter does his year-end roundup of the thoughts of the Cubs bloggers on the
* Let's start off with the biggest positive in an otherwise disappointing season: Does Derrek Lee deserve the MVP? Will he get it?
Deserve? Perhaps. He had as good of an all around season as anyone. Perhaps that's the problem. He wasn't far and away better than the other MVP candidates to make up for the Cubs' poor record. Because of that, there's no way he wins the MVP award.
* If you had a disposable time machine that could only travel back as far as October 4th, 2004 and was good for only one trip, plus the superhero power to change people's minds and actions - what one move, moment, play or decision from this past season would you alter?
There are so many. I don't think any one decision hurt the Cubs. But, if there was ONE move *I* would have made (obvious drumroll please), it would have been to trade Korey Patterson. To go into this season counting on this man to provide any kind of offense given his history was ludicrous.
* At what point did you give up on the Cubs this year?
May 4th. The night Roberto Novoa walked Damian Miller with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to give the Brewers their 6th consecutive win.
* All signs point to Dusty Baker returning for the final year of his contract in 2006. But what lies ahead for Dusty? Is an extension on the way this off-season? Is he in any danger of losing his job in 2006? Should he be? Any other coaching changes on the horizon?
Dusty Baker should be in danger. The new opening in LA and the curious announcement of when and the terms of the extension of Dusty's contract (not until February and for 2 years) makes it clear what someone has to offer to get Dusty out. He might just take the lifeline.
We can only hope.
* What about Jim Hendry -- should McPhail and the Trib re-up him or is his fate tied with Dusty's?
Dusty Baker has done nothing to warrant an extension. If he is re-upped, it's a purely face saving move for Hendry and MacPhail ("We made the right move in hiring him! Firing him only shows we screwed up!"). Jim Hendry has gone into the last three seasons lacking a leadoff hitter. He's gone into the last two seasons without a bullpen. He's made excuse after excuse that the delay in trading Sosa was a detriment to this year's roster. He's yet to make the minor leagues produce. He's allowed high ceiling prospects to wither on the vine and not trade them for veterans while other teams have done so (nicely done for Derrek Lee - what about Mulder, Beltran, Hudson). He's only shown solid ability to pull of deadline deals.
By all means, re-hire him.
The focus needs to move to Andy MacPhail. That he is allowed to stay with the lack of on-field performance means that team profitability is so high as to make the Trib not care about the on-field record. Until the fans start making the Trib care, why should the Trib make any changes?
* What are the top three that went wrong for the Cubs this year, foreseeable or not?
1) Lack of leadoff hitter - Forseeable
2) Lack of effective closer - Forseeable
3) Reliance on the starting pitching (Wood, Prior) to stay healthy - Forseeable
Honorable mention - Baker's refusal to bat players where they would have maximum effectiveness (I.e. Patterson / Neifi 1-2 while Hairston rode the bench).
* How about three that went right, besides Lee's breakout?
1) Ryan Dempster, after being misused by Baker for 6 weeks, emerging as a quality closer.
2) Matt Murton showing that Theo Epstein knows what he's doing.
3) The season only having 162 games
* The free agent market is one of the weakest in years, but the Cubs look to have plenty of cash to spend on it. Should they spend, spend, spend, and if so what should their targets be? Or should they hold on to it until next year or use it to take some garbage contracts off other teams? Should they spend it on extensions for any current players?
* What are 3 moves the Cubs MUST DO this off-season?
1) Find a leadoff hitter.
2) Add a quality veteran to the starting rotation
3) Add a thumper in the outfield.
* What are 3 moves the Cubs MUST NOT DO this off-season?
1) Give Dusty control over the lineup.
2) Count on Felix Pie as a starter in Wrigley in April
3) Resign Jeromy Burnitz.
* Let's talk specific players. Should Baker and Hendry give the keys to left-field to Matt Murton or do they look for other options?
I love Matt Murton. I may let him father another child for me (inside joke if you've seen my site lately). That said, he may have a peak value in acquiring a veteran pitcher. Say you could get a Brandon Webb for him? I might make that trade.
* Is Ryan Dempster the closer next year or should the Cubs look elsewhere?
Sure. Why not. But with $50 million in payroll clearing over the next 2 seasons, adding a lefty a la BJ Ryan is required. It's actually inexcusable not to add BJ.
* Nomar Garciaparra: try to resign to another incentive-laden deal OR say thanks for the memories and the groin jokes? If he comes back, where should he play?
Back in the corner outfield and as emergency shortstop. He is not a long-term solution in the infield.
* Neifi Perez: uber-backup, starter, or agent's phone calls immediately transferred to voice mail?
Backup, only if Dusty isn't managing. If Dusty stays, then backup only if Raphael Furcal is signed.
* Can Corey Patterson's brain and/or bat be salvaged?
Do *I* have to answer this?
* Kerry Wood: bullpen or rotation?
I'd use him in the pen. Hendry's gonna have him as a starter. That means at least 1 trip to the DL and 2 rookies to fill in for him.
* Jeromy Burnitz: pick up his $7 mil option or buy him out for $500K?
Hasta la vista.
* Todd Walker: good facial hair, gimpy leg, Cubs beat writers' best friend. Pick up his option or look elsewhere?
I look elsewhere. He's just not good enough and he drives in too few runs.
* Which lil' Cubs would you like to see get a shot at a roster spot in spring training?
Angel Guzman. Before he's AARP eligible.
* Is 2006 the Year of the Cub? Why or why not?
No. Dusty managing. Hendry leaving too many holes for too many years. Too many holes (two OFs, SS, 2B) and bad too many others (C, relief).
Two year project, minimum.
Monday, October 03, 2005
Timing Is Everything
So, Dusty Baker won't have his contract extended until next February. Curious. If the Cubs wanted to extend Baker so badly, why wait until after all the managerial job openings have been filled? There are clearly several jobs going to be open this winter. The Tampa and Florida jobs are already open, and the Dodgers job seemingly opens as soon as the World Series is over.
Why would the Cubs wait and not tie up Baker now? Why would they want another team to possibly entice Baker with a longer term deal than the Cubs might offer? The Cubs have already telegraphed their intentions: 2006 plus 2 more years.
Doesn't this mean that if some enterprising team wanted Dusty they have until February to negotiate a 4 year deal with him?
It serves the Cubs right that they got to witness two division rivals celebrate right in front of them. For the inspired effort this team put up this year, having opponents dance on your ashes is rather appropriate.
I just want to know what Matt "Surrogate Father" Murton was thinking yesterday as he sat alone in the visitor's dugout at Minute Maid Park. Was he thinking, "Next year, for sure." Or, was it more like, "Crap. I was this close to being on the Red Sox."
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