Monday, January 31, 2005
There's come confusing information regarding how much salary the Cubs are going to save from trading Sammy Sosa. But it's not as surprising as what Sosa's agreed to do.
The Cubs will reportedly send the Orioles $12.5 million to offset some of Sammy's 2005 salary of $17 million. Additionally, Sosa's contract calls for a $3.5 million severance payment when his contract ends and a $4.5 million buyout if his 2006 option is not picked up.
Here's the whopper.
Sosa has agreed to waive the clause of his contract that causes the 2006 option year, at $18 million, to automatically vest in the event of a trade. He gave up $13.5 million to leave Chicago. As it stands right now, Sosa is a free agent at the end of 2005.
What is unclear is what who pays for the two buyouts. Phil Rogers reports that the Cubs are paying $12.5 million and the Orioles are paying $12.5 million. That would free the Cubs from $12.5 million in expenses. Bruce Levine is reporting that the Cubs will only save $7 million. While the gap is fairly large, here's what you need to know.
The Cubs have plenty of money, even within their budget, to afford any of Jeromy Burnitz, Magglio Ordonez and Aubrey Huff. Hell. They can afford any two of the three.
Jim Hendry, if he wants Sloth beatification, needs to finish this deal and get one ore two more outfielders. He can now afford it.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Taking the Pulse
Surfing the Cubs Blog ring, you get a taste of how Cub Nation is feeling about the trade (all links available on the right).
The Cubs Reporter takes the news road. They round up the articles and agree with the opinion that more work is needed to be done.
The Sloth reports from St. Peters on the beatification of Jim Hendry. This page take the opinion that Jim Hendry, while doing an above average job, has yet to earn a home in the Rabbi Hall of Fame until he pulls off a risky move. Now, dumping Sosa for an oft-injured leadoff hitter could be risky, but Sammy’s exiting act made it easy. Hendry will be due the Saint title if he fills in the outfield. But it’s not earned yet.
Al Yellon goes very personal and gives us a fond farewell to a player whom deserved the thoughts a few years back. He also acknowledges that Sosa needed to go and that an Aubrey Huff would be an upgrade.
Mike "Cubs Pundit" Comar goes off on Phil Rodgers column. Chill, Mike. Hendry may not have performed three miracles yet, but Burnitz wouldn’t be a final move.
Most places seem to have a very reasonable take. But The Cubdom is living up to it’s name. Byron’s all worried that Jason DuBois won’t get a fair shake. And Corey, too.
"I just want to be assured that C-Pat and Dubois are penciled into the starting lineup on a regular basis."
Pardon me, but HUH?!?!?!?
If reports are accurate, the Cubs will save close to $12 million in salary with Sosa gone. They have financial resources that make any one they desire affordable. They have a rotation that represents a once in a generation opportunity to win a title. But, don’t get Huff and don’t lead off Hairston because Jason DuBois deserves a shot and Korey needs to improve?
Pardon me, Byron, but the Cubs’ Fans deserve to see a winner. Yeah, and you want to avoid what the Marlins do. Well, the Marlins have won two titles in 10 years while the Cubs have won two in the last 100.
By all means, don’t be the Marlins and play DuBois. Just brilliant.
Friday, January 28, 2005
Stats and Stats
Stats on the minor leaguers acquired:
Dave Crouthers - P
Year Team Lg. Ag Org Lvl W L ERA G GS CG SH GF SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WP BK H9 W9 K9 whip
2002 Delmarva SAL 22 Bal A 8 6 3.34 25 25 1 1 0 0 129 117 66 48 4 58 108 9 2 8.1 4.0 7.5 1.35
2003 Frederick Caro 23 Bal A 7 5 3.59 18 18 0 0 0 0 93 83 47 37 1 43 82 12 0 8.1 4.2 8.0 1.36
2003 Bowie East 23 Bal AA 4 2 3.80 9 9 0 0 0 0 45 37 20 19 4 18 29 1 0 7.4 3.6 5.8 1.22
2004 Bowie East 24 Bal AA 9 9 5.03 27 27 0 0 0 0 140 134 81 78 23 68 138 8 0 8.6 4.4 8.9 1.45
Min Lg Totals: (3 Seasons) 28 22 4.03 79 79 1 1 0 0 407 371 214 182 32 187 357 30 2 8.2 4.1 7.9 1.37
Mike Fontenot - 2B
Year Team Lg. Ag Org Lvl G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO HBP SH SF GDP Avg OBP SLG OPS
2002 Frederick Caro 22 Bal A 122 481 61 127 16 4 8 53 13 9 42 117 10 9 5 3 .264 .333 .364 697
2003 Bowie East 23 Bal AA 126 449 63 146 24 5 12 66 16 5 50 89 8 4 4 6 .325 .399 .481 880
2004 Ottawa IL 24 Bal AAA 136 524 73 146 30 10 8 49 14 7 48 111 9 4 5 9 .279 .346 .420 766
Min Lg Totals: (3 Seasons) 384 1454 197 419 70 19 28 168 43 21 140 317 27 17 14 18 .288 .358 .420 778
All indications are that Sammy Sosa is an ex-Cub. Multiple sources including the AP, WGN TV, WSCR, ESPN Radio and ESPN.com are all reporting that Sosa and cash are headed to Baltimore for Jerry Hairston, Jr. and other prospects. Tim Kurkjian reports that the deal is done so long as all physicals are passed.
First things first. Thanks for 12 great years Sammy. Now, get lost.
Hairston is an interesting acquisition. He would play left and bat leadoff. Let me be the first to say, THANK GOD! PATTERSON WILL BAT 7TH!!! Click on the link and look at Hairston. Look at the ABs with a count of 0-0. He only had 9 at bats that ended with that count. That means, this guy works the count. What about Korey? 104 ABs ended after 1 pitch. Hairston's OBP rose each of the last three years. He's been injured, but they were broken bones, not chronic injuries like muscle pulls.
I like the move.
Thsi deal leaves a big gap in right. The hot rumor is that some of the acquired prospects, plus some others, will be moved to the Devil Rays for Aubrey Huff. That, or something similar, needs to happen.
Now, just like last summer with Nomar, I have something to say to Jim Hendry.
Excellent, sir. Balls out.
You are probably pretty tired, right? Well, you should be. Go on home, get a nice hot bath. Rest up... 15 minutes. Then get your ass back in gear. The Cubs are under a lot of pressure to win, you know, and you put them there. Nothing's riding on this except the last 100 years of failure, your reputation, the Tribune Corporation share price, and maybe the future of the country. Not that any of that matters, but if you don’t find a right fielder, I'm going to get mad.
The Washington Post now has the story and they include the names of the minor leaguers.
Hairston is the only player with major league experience who would be sent to Chicago. The others are prospects, including second baseman Mike Fontenot and pitcher David Crouthers. The Cubs are also going to add a substantial amount of money to deal to cover Sosa's contract.
John Brattain, over at The Hardball Times (link to sight at right, artcile link here) has a very nice piece on how MLB owners make their money and cry poor at the same time. He gets a little confusing when he starts talking about the collective bargaining agreement, but nails it when he talks about how stadiums are "corporate welfare."
Oh, and when you read it, be sure to replace "Red Sox" and "NESN" with "Cubs" and "WGN/Trib."
We all complain about politicians. Time to do something about it. Elections are April 5th.
You're going to see a lot of play on this quote from Sammy Sosa's agent:
"I think he will be traded, and I think Sammy will be one of the best pickups of the off-season." - Tom Riech
There hasn't been worse spin than this since, "I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it." Sosa is damaged goods in MLB right now, and it's the fault of the Tribune, Dusty Baker and Sammy Sosa. If Sammy runs out to right in April to a resounding boo, you will be able to blame these people in that order.
Sosa bears some responsibility for publicly ripping his manager. By showing the public his disgruntlement (can you be arrested for that?), he lowered his value to other teams.
Baker gets the #2 position for his response to Sosa's rip. The comment about how Baker is "always covering" for Sammy makes it clear that Sammy leaving early is not a one time transgression. Sammy's clearly been a problem for a long time. Anyone following his since Don Baylor challenged Sosa to be a better player knows this is true.
But, the Trib gets the #1 spot for releasing the security tape of Sammy leaving early. While that gambit succeeded in making a trade of Sammy palitable, even requested by sycophantic Cubs' fans, it diminished the diminished slugger in the eyes of 29 MLB GMs.
If the Trib gets stuck with Sosa's $25 million for 2005 it's their own fault.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
"WHO Argues Over Bird Blue Drug Rules"--headline, Associated Press, Jan. 24
The subheadline was:
WHAT in favor of legalizing steroids for baseball. I DON'T KNOW still undecided.
On A Slow News Day...
A mohel in a poor European town was getting ready to retire after 50 years. The town in which he lived was so poor that no one could afford to pay him for the circumcisions he performed. In lieu of payment, the people of the town let the mohel keep the foreskin from every bris he performed.
On the day of his retirement, he is sitting in his house with his friend, the tailor. "I can't believe I've worked 50 years and all I have to show for my life's work is this pile of foreskins," says the mohel.
The tailor looks at the pile and says, "Let me take them from youy and see if I can make something nice from them."
A week later, the tailor comes back to the mohel's house. "I made you a wallet!" the tailor says.
The mohel is stunned. "What is this? Fifty years of brises and this is all I get, a wallet?"
The tailor looks at him and says, "Yeah, but this is a special wallet. When you rub it, it turns into a suitcase."
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
And Then There Were Two
The MLB Offseason Moves is down to only two big names, and both are Chicago based (how typical that even Chicago players are as slow to move as frozen molasses). So, now what happens to Sammy Sosa and Magglio Ordonez?
With Carlos Delgado signing a 2005 friendly contract in Florida, it's obvious Florida thinks they can win this year. Sosa won't be headed there, no matter what Jim Hendry might be able to do with the $11 million that the Marlins still owe Mike Hampton. This signing made goad the Mets into making a move for Sosa as they now face stiffer divisional competition from the Fish. Moreover, the Delgado contract should be a road map to how much the Mets should take on of Sosa's salary. Delgado is going to average $13 million for 4 years. How about the Mets take $13 million of Sosa's 2005 cost? That leaves the Cubs on the hook for $12 million (excess salary plus the severance payments). They can pay that in cash or take it back in player contracts. I don't see the Orioles being a player in this.
Maggs is a whole 'nuther story. I see him going to the AL where he can DH for a few months if need be. Expect him to sign with the Tigers, Orioles or Blue Jays. Also, expect him to star in a remake of "The Fugitive."
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Reported in many areas was a meeting between the Tigers and Magglio Ordonez. It seems Magglio met with Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, Tigers president Dave Dombrowski and manager Alan Trammell. Of course, Scott Boras was there as well.
It seems Maggs didn't work out for the Tigers, just talked. Yeah, this guy is sooooo healthy. I'd love for him to be healthy and play right or left. Until he swings a bat, he's better off slated for Pirates of the Caribbean II.
Lotsa places to get a recap of the Cubs convention. Desipio has the alcoholic version. The Cubdom includes pictures of how the convention looked, albeit from the Desipio-3-beers-too-many perspective. Barry Rozner reminds us of why we loved the 1989 team and loathed the 2004 team. Blog-of-the-year And Another Thing... uses the Boul Mich perspective and prices the wares for sale.
No one seems to have asked the questions I posed. My own fault, I guess, for wanting answers and not being willing to go and ask the questions.
And I turned down free passes for Sunday.
Jack Bower Power Hour
I make time to watch 24, but yesterday was just a little over the top. Did the kid Bahrooz really need to channel Cleavon Little? All that was missing was Slim Pickens saying, "Tell them that I said... OW!!!!"
Everyone Has Opinions -- Many Are Stupid
What is this world coming to? One Rabbi Daniel Lapin suggests Jews are self-loathing, self-defaming bunch? That the biggest threat to Jews in America comes from Woody Allen, Barbara Streisand, Ron Jeremy (yeah, I didn’t know he was Jewish either), Ruth Westheimer, Howard Stern, and Jerry Springer? These people are a threat because they entertain and use that medium to debase their religion. And that these people are engaged in "the coarsening of our culture."
The Rabbi then goes on to quote Mein Kampf where Adolf Hitler talks about how Jews were involved in "press, art, literature, and the theater." The suggestion is that Woody Allen et al are making Hitler right. That these actors/entertainers are the worst type of anti-Semitics because of their self-depricating humor enacted for the masses to witness.
Maybe the problem is that the Rabbi has just gone so far off the right wingnut deep end that can’t he can no longer bring himself to say "Meet the Fockers" and is looking for a way to hide his discomfort.
Quoting Hitler ain’t the way to do it.
Jon Rowe has an excellent deconstruction of the piece.
Saturday, January 22, 2005
Some actual news has made it out of the Cubs convention. Two are obvious. One is troubling.
#1: Ryne Sandberg's jersey No. 23 will be retired. Well deserved honor and well timed.
#2: Kerry Wood will be the Opening Day starter. Fine, I guess. Win 15 or more and I'll be impressed by Kerry Wood.
#3: Corey Patterson will return as leadoff man.
I see this and I can only think:
Just brilliant to put a guy who hit close to Mendoza for the last quarter of the season, who struck out 73 times and walked 17 from the leadoff spot, who was on pace to break Adam Dunn's strikeout record, and who has never mastered the strike zone at any level above Low A, in your leadoff spot. Mark this: Korey gets 300 ABs in the leadoff spot, and the Cubs don't finish above 3rd.
Todd Walker was on WSCR this evening. He basically said that Sosa must come clean with the whole team. He went further to state that Walker knows taht Jim Hendry is trying to "sccomodate" Sosa into making a trade happen. This sounds like a man who is supremely PO'ed at a teammate. Usually, teammates stick up for each other. Not this time.
I'll bet ten bucks that it was Walker who smashed the boom box.
Friday, January 21, 2005
Two in Right
Jayson Stark's latest is posted over at ESPN.com. He devotes a sidebar to Sammy Sosa. The summary:
- The Cubs won't outright release him.
- The Mets aren't really very interested.
- Sosa has engaged shoulda-been-a-Cub Miguel Tejada to lobby on Sosa's behalf in Baltimore
- Magglio won't sign with the Cubs with Sosa still here as Mags wants to play right, just like Sosa.
Notably, the column has no notes on the Cardinals. The World Series Loser gets no press? Perhaps it's because no one projects them to be any good.
I missed the Inuaguration Speech yesterday. I did see this quote that gave me pause:
By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well as a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.
Is anyone else troubled by "fire of freedom"? Shouldn't it be, "Let Freedom Ring" not, "Let Freedom Burn"? Probably not the best metaphor he could have used.
Thus begins Dorkfest 2005. I've never gone to a Cubs convention. I've never gone to a Star Trek convention (seeing "Trekkies" convinced me that this is the right decision). I don't plan on ever going to either type of event.
That said, I'd love to have an opportunity to ask some frank questions of Jim Hendry.
"Who decided to release the video of Sammy Sosa leaving early? Cubs staff or Trib corporate?"
"What are you going to do with your overload of minor league starting pitchers?"
"How much input does Dusty Baker get in determining who gets how much playing time. Can you tell him to play rookies ahead of veterans or does he get free reign?"
"With Felix Pie looming and Corey Patterson's struggles in getting on base consistently, what is the future of both of these players within the Cubs?"
"Why did you get involved in the Steve Stone / Players issues from last year? Isn't that outside of your area of oversight?"
"Why hasn't anyone from your organization called Sammy Sosa? Are you prevented by the Trib from making overseas long-distance calls?"
"How much pressure is on Dusty Baker to win in 2005? How much in on you? What would you expect will happen to you and Dusty given a non-playoff finish in 2005?"
"What does Andy McPhail do? Really."
"Who made the decision to fire Wendell Kim and the training staff?"
I'm sure there are more. That's all I can come up with this morning.
Gee. Dick Mell has retracted his charges of job peddling in the Governor's office. It was a "heat of the moment" calculation. Now his son-in-law, Rod Blagojevich, gets to look all high and mighty and above machine politics. Rod gets to look independent and be a crusader for the people, not tied to clout heavy politicians.
It almost makes Rod more "presidential." Ya' think?
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Read All About It
The two big stories in all the papers are Nomar's health and Sammy's psyche. Greg Couch has the best summary of the Sosa situation. Couch is dead on when he says that you don't go out of your way to show Sosa to be a liar and a quitter, then welcome him back. It's clear that the Tribune, in trying to get the fans acceptance of a trade of Sosa, overplayed their hand. Smart fans would have bought into trading Sosa, regardless of what security cameras showed.
The better part of the article is the part on Dusty Baker. I'm sure a psychologist could tell me what to call this, but it's clearly some sort of defense mechanism:
If Sosa didn't take the initiative to call the Cubs, shouldn't they have been big enough to call him?
"What for?" Baker said.
To work out your problems.
"I didn't know we had a problem."
You didn't know you had a problem with Sosa?
"What did I just say? I'm not a liar. Didn't you ever ask your wife what was wrong, and she said, 'Nothing.' And then you find out weeks later that she was upset because you didn't give her a spoon or something?"
Later, Baker brought up my conversation with him to a group of reporters, saying he meant he didn't know there was a problem with Sosa the day he walked out.
On to Nomar. All you need to know from all the reports is that he says his wrist, achillies and groin are all healthy. I'll buy that when I see him play every game during the first two weeks in April. Oh, and he won't be at the Cubs Convention.
That makes two of us.
The Daily Herald reports that Jimmy Anderson will be a non-roster invitee to spring training. Uno's pizza stands at the ready.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Deals, Deals, Deals
So, I lost a deal. Big whup. You don't give a crap about that. But almost all the Cubs players who were up for arbitration got deals. And that’s what you care about. The rundown:
Michael Barrett signed a three-year contract worth $12 million.
Korey Patterson got a bump up to $2.8 million from $480,000 last year.
Kyle Farnsworth got a one year raise from $1.4 million to $1.975 million.
The Cubs exchanged salary-arbitration figures with Aramis Ramirez Carlos Zambrano. The Cubs offered Ramirez $8 million while he countered with $10.25 million. Zambrano is seeking $4 million while the Cubs are offering $3.3 million.
Relief pitcher Scott Williamson, he of the offseason reconstructive elbow surgery, signed a minor-league contract with a club option for 2006. Williamson gets $316,000 while in the minors and $500,000 if elevated to Wrigley. The 2006 option is for $2 million.
Barrett's deal is risky because he only has one solid season under his belt. Oh, and he didn't catch both Maddux and Prior down the stretch leading some to question whether or not pitchers like the game Barrett calls.
Farnsworth's deal makes his eminently tradable. Fine.
Patterson’s deal? That’s money for the August Corey, not the July/September Korey. It’s about $1 million too much in my book. But, hey, I woulda paid 6 x $17 mildo for Beltran and traded Korey’s ass.
Williamson? Typical cheap, try to get lucky move. Ryan Dempster 2005 version. Call me when he can pitch in the majors.
Just Spewing Nonsense
Barry Rozner prints this letter in his column today.
From Libertyville e-mailer Scott Phillips: "Can you explain how wagering a few dollars on your team to win is worthy of a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball, but being caught destroying the integrity of the game by using steroids three times nets you a 60-day vacation?"
Yeah, Scott. There’s no loss in integrity when gambling enters professional sport. There’s no concern that outside elements might, say, convince a manager-gambler who is deep in debt to NOT BET a specific game as a tip off on how a specific game might turn out? The only integrity lost when performance-enhancing substances are introduced into sport is the record book.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
They Took Me Seriously?
Back on November 24th, I suggested that Jon Stewart become the new anchor for CBS News. Today, Les Moonves, chairman of Viacom (which owns CBS and Stewart's Comedy Central) refused to rule out that idea.
Asked twice, Moonves wouldn't rule out a role on the evening news for Comedy Central's Jon Stewart, whose "The Daily Show" skewers politicians and the news media each night.
It's still the right move. They don't have the guts to try it.
WENN Promises To Learn Roman Numerals
It seems that Sylvester Stallone is in talks to do another Rocky movie. Well, I only saw the first two and can't imagine a need for antoher. World Entertainment News Network, reporting through the Internet Movie Database has the scoop (last item).
Check that headline. Hmmm.... This is a new film? Sure looks like Sly wants to remake "Rocky Goes To Russia". Maybe remake it with Rick Yune as a North Korean Drago?
Or maybe they meant "VI".
Either IMDB has corrected "Rocky" to read "Rambo" or I read it worng. Given I just lost a nice deal today, I was probably at fault. Still, it started a nice thread. I'd vote for Rambo III: Fourth Blood.
What's Your Number?
So the big Cub news is that the players will no logner have names on the backs of their uniforms. I wonder how this decision was made as the names were likely put on in the first place to assist with player marketing via TV recognition.
Someone in marketing must have decided that there was more money to be made without the names than with the names. The knee-jerk reaction will be to say that scorecard sales are down. Perhaps it was jersey sales that were down as people looking to acquire jerseys with the numbers of ex-players could only get the jersey with the name of the current player.
I mean, there must be a Barry Foote fan out there who wants a number 8 jersey, but wants it without Michael Barrett's name on it, right?
Friday, January 14, 2005
Pump Up Or Shut Up
I've been asked to provide evidence to my claim that Tara Reid has artifical assistance in her bra size. Well, if you believe these pics, I guess you have to believe that steroids are still in use in the NFL.
Tara Reid in her cute, waify, American Pie days:
Tara Reid in her boozy, no longer A-list, Paris Hilton wanna-be surgically enhanced present:
Believe It... Or Not!
If you listen to sports talk radio in Chicago and haven’t seen Ed Sherman’s column today, click right now, right here. ESPN 1000 just kicked The Score’s ass in the last ratings quarter. They didn’t just eek out a win, or improve margins. WMVP demolished The Score from top to bottom.
ESPN gained in total listeners, in new listeners, in key demographics, and against non-sports competitors. And if the target is post-college aged men, the Afternoon Show ranks #2 in the entire market, lagging only Steve Dahl.
What was more interesting is how Jay Mariotti and Dan Patrick combined to smack down Boers and Bernstein. Those two shows beat Dan & Terry by 1.5 rating points. My guess is that Dan & Terry are being hurt by a poor lead in show which doesn’t hand them a solid audience.
So, how’s Hot Dog Boy doing? Up from the summer, but not as well as Murph and Fred did in the comparable fall 2003 ratings book. Now, part of that is due to the format change (high school dropouts talking politics takes time to build an audience) and part is due to the lack of the Cubs in the playoffs in the fall of 2004. But the fact is that two syndicated guys from New York are trampling the local, home grown, in-touch-with-the-Chicagoan guy.
WSCR needs radical change. Hot Dog Boy’s act is over. Rick Tellander? Nice guy, smart guy, bad broadcaster.
Last thing. Given how strong Mariotti’s numbers were, it sure looks like Jerry Reinsdorf got him fired. There’s no financial explanation.
The spin on the street is that MLB now has a steroid policy as tough as the NFL’s and that the sport will now be clean. Let’s see. In 1985, the Bears offensive line weighed about 270 to 275 pounds per player on average. Today, the lightest starter in the Bears’ unit weighs 292 (Olin Kreutz) and the other 4 weigh in excess of 315. In 20 years we humans have improved our conditioning and muscle building programs so much that we see such dramatic gains?
Or is it something else?
None of this is clean. Believe it’s clean as much as you believe Tara Reid’s chest is real.
"We’re acting today to restore the confidence of our fans." – Bud Selig.
Gotcha, Bud. Good to know that you aren’t acting to restore the integrity of the league.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Have you followed the fight between Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and his father-in-law, Richard "Hack Alderman" Mell? It seems that "Papa" Mell is none to pleased that his daughter's spouse stopped a Mell-cousin from dumping trash in a quarry. This will cost the cousin, Frank Schmidt, a lot of money. He won't be able to dump environmentally unfriendly trash in this landfill anymore. Dumping elsewhere costs more money, see.
Governor Blago is standing his ground despite the feud it's created with his father-in-law, a man "who raised funds and twisted political arms for Blagojevich in successive races for the Illinois General Assembly, the U.S. House and the governor's office."
Now, let's take a step back. What do we know about Blago? He wants to be president (he has the hair for it). Blago is the most powerful politician in Illinois (Mayor Daley is a special case all to himself), so the next step for him is the White House.
What? You say Barack Obama is the most powerful politician in Illinois? By jove, you're right! With the 2008 election already underway, Blago needs a way to take the spotlight back from Obama. Hmm....
Hey! Here's an idea! How about Blago takes a position that is anti-clout, anti-corruption, pro-environment and anti-nepotism. That's great stuff if you want to show the public that you aren't just "Papa's" nice little tuft of electable hair. Hell! He can even go so far in this one stroke to separate himself from "Papa" and stand before you as "his own man."
Don't believe this feud crap for a minute. This more scripted than the WWF. What's even better is that the political establishment in Illinois is gearing up to knock this bum off. Lisa Madigan, our attorney general, will likely challenge him in the primary. There could be others. If Blago doesn't survive that, we'll never hear his name again.
One can only hope.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Be Still, My Beating Heart
ESPN.com launches its annual Hot Stove Heaters, a focus on, "the best players in the game in some of the little things that make a big difference." Today's piece is on the Best Bunter. They choose Juan Pierre.
The article, penned by local boy Phil Rogers, uses some quotes to back up Pierre's selection:
"I can't imagine anybody working harder at anything than Juan Pierre. ... He might be my favorite player in baseball. All I know is his work ethic is unbelievable. Our minor-league staff (in Colorado) got tired of trying to beat him to the ballpark. He's just unbelievable."
Whom is Phil quoting? Cubs special assistant Gary Hughes, who used to work with Pierre when both were part of the Rockies.
So, the Cubs are intimately familiar with this guy, and in a loving way. Hendry has been able to work out trades with the Marlins before. Pierre is a free agent in two years and due a payday the Marlins cannot afford. The Cubs have an overload of pitching talent, all of which they cannot possibly use. And the Cubs are in dire straits in terms of need for a leadoff hitter.
Patterson or Pie and a top pitching prospect for this guy. And throw in some cash. You know, some of the $11 million the Marlins have to pay Mike Hampton.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
A Good Cause
Cut and pasted from Rozner's column today. I'm not a poker player, but if any of you are and are interested, this is a fabulous cause.
Steve Olken has organized a Texas Hold'em poker tournament for March 17 at Brunswick Home and Billiards in Edens Plaza (Wilmette), with all proceeds benefiting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
For the $150 tax-deductible entry fee, you get $2,000 in chips, dinner from "Forty One North," an open bar, and the chance to win prizes, including a pool table.
Only 150 slots are available, so contact Olken soon at (847) 922-9223, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may recall that Olken left his job at the Score a few years ago to take care of his sons when they were diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.
The Crumbling Confines (if has Mariotti used this line, please disregard) are still in lousy shape, at least structurally. The Cubs submitted their latest fix-it plan for the stadium to the city, so reports the Trib. Well, with Mayor Daley's friend Jim Duff pleading guilty to RICO charges that arose due to a Trib investigative story, yeah, I'm sure those plans will be approved. It seems that the concrete's integrity is still unstable to the point that the netting will be left in place. The concrete can be replaced in spots, but not everywhere. And that would make the stadium workable for a while.
But the bigger issue is, "How long can Wrigley go without a true renovation?"
Pretty soon, the stadium is going to need to be shut down and all but gutted, much like Yankee Stadium was back in the 70's. How long can Trib Corp. let one of their most valuable assets deteriorate (don't kid yourselves - Wrigley is by far the most valuable piece of the Cubs' franchise)? Do they wait unti some 8 year old is injured by falling concrete?
Would the Cubs actually play in Comiskey for a year? This may be a big story before the year is out.
Monday, January 10, 2005
By Your Command
I watched the Battlestar Galactica mini series last year. I liked the way it was shot with the quick zooming camera, and the music during the battle scenes added a lot of tension without being obtrusive. I may even give the full series a shot when it premiers this week.
But one of the real appeals to the show was one Tricia Helfer (I’m sure you can see why). Tricia, better known for her Victoria Secret shoots, plays a Cylon named Number 6. What’s really cool about her character is that when she has sex, a red light goes up and down her bare back, just like the one that used to go back and forth where the Old Cylon’s eyes were.
I remain curious about her name. Number 6. Considering how often her character was involved in the seduction of Dr. Baltar, I wonder if this is a sneaky reference to a famous (and rather uncouth) line from Blazing Saddles?
I wonder if Ron Moore would do something like that?
Not much time today, but here’s the 411 you need:
Carlos Beltran helped the Cubs tremendously simply by leaving the Astos. Without Beltran and Jeff Kent, with Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell aging faster than could be stopped by Dorian Gray's portrait, the Astros will likely be a much worse offensive club than last year. Given that they depleted their bullpen as part of acquiring Beltran in 2004, it’s reasonable to think that the Astros, as currently constructed, will fall apart in July or August. That would lead to a trade of Roger Clemens (who will be back in 2005) and bring the NL Central down to a battle between the Cubs and Cardinals.
The Cubs still need to upgrade their outfield and they need a leadoff hitter. Anyone have any ideas on a person who can fit both bills? Jim Hendry made the mistake last year of not getting a true leadoff hitter and Dusty Baker made the mistake of not playing his best option (Todd Walker) in the leadoff role. Hendry needs to make a move that doesn’t give Baker much choice about whom to play where.
Magglio Ordonez is supposedly ready to work out for interested parties. I’ll believe the guy can function when I see it on Mark Giangrecco’s 10:20 sports report. Until then, I believe he looks like this:
Sammy Sosa’s fate now hangs on Carlos Delgado. Should Delgado sign with Baltimore, Sammy’s back in 2005.
End of line.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Hooray, Hooray, 3rd Place Is Not Preordained for 2005
ESPN is reporting that Carlos Beltran is not going to return to the Astros. This all but locks the Cubs into second place in the division. More, later today, on the Cubs' chance of signing this must-have player.
Friday, January 07, 2005
A fight over ownership rites. You just know this will end up in court. I suggest they blow the thing up at the Bull & Finch Pub (Cheers) and share the shards.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
Talk About Vanity!
IMDB has picked up the story behind the Star Wars reunion pic I posted a few days ago. The link goes to an interesting quote from George Lucas. He says, "I'm going to make movies nobody wants to see."
Well, George. For the last 9 years, you've done that. I mean, Radioland Murders, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, Willow, Howard the Duck, Labyrinth. Those were all movies nobody wanted to see.
Then, there's The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. I can't speak for the fanboys out there who take drivel and like it (not unlike some Cubs' fans), but those were movies that I wanted to see, but, after seeing them, never wanted to see AGAIN.
I predict Lucas will be highly successful in this endeavor.
The Sun Times' Robert Feder gives us a rundown of whom is likely to take over ESPN 1000's Nine-to-Noon shift. The candidates are:
Steve Rosenbloom, and...
The Dyspeptic Duo of Dave Kaplan and Tom Waddle
Of the names on this list, I'd go with names I've mentioned before: Bruce Wolf, but I'd pair him with Garry Meier to try to create the sports version of Roe and Garry. If Garry wouldn't take the job, Wolf and either Malone or Salisbury would work.
Please, I know they try hard, but no more DeFalco and Silverman. These guys are less capable of leading a top market radio show than I am capable of appearing in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
I don't even know Tom Keegan, so I can't comment there.
Dan Jiggets? Puh-lease. Recycled, rehashed and just plain bad. He's Leno-esque in that he laughs at everything he says. That way, you are sure to know that he's being funny. Then again, hiring him saves on the cost to program a computerized laugh track. I understand he has a show on Comcast Sports Net. Nice place to be burried. Don't disturb the dead.
I can't see Kaplan leaving the coziness of WGN. He'd lose his inside access to the Cubs.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
A year ago, I pondered if the delay in signing Greg Maddux was due to the tax law changes that took effect on January 1, 2004. Well, this year, it seems that the Carlos Beltran signing may be affected by tax law changes that take effect on January 12, 2005.
ESPN.com has a piece by Darren Rovell on changes in how taxes are calculated off signing bonuses. At present, and since 1958, baseball players have had their signing bonuses exempt from FICA taxes because it was ruled that this money was paid to the player absent services rendered for the income. Therefore, it was not classified as salary and no FICA taxes are paid.
This changes on January 12th. If Beltran signs before the 12th, he can save literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes.
Additionally, were Carlos to sign with either New York team, 50% of his annual income would be taxed at the New York state rate of 8.75% (you only pay state taxes for the hours you work in a given state -- as 50% of the games are home games, he only pays state taxes on 50% of his income). Illinois' rate is only 3%. While this isn't as advantageous for the Cubs as Texas' rate of 0%, it does make the Cubs able to offer less total dollars to Beltran yet have the offered viewed equally as anything the New York team offer.
Interesting article. Accountant types are well advised to read this.
Bottom of the Sith
I don't read Vanity Fair. Hell, I never even notice it in the grocery store. But I grew up on Star Wars. My five year old can't stop talking about it. And I am looking forward to the last movie (despite the suckiness of the last two prequels).
For your viewing pleasure, the upcoming cover of Vanity Fair.
From left: Hayden Christensen, Ewan McGregor, George Lucas, Natalie Portman, Yoda, Darth Vader, R2-D2, C-3PO, Samuel Jackson (I wonder if he has "B.A.M.F." on his lightsaber?), Jar-Jar Binks, Jimmy Smits, Christopher Lee, Liam Neeson, Pernilla August, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, General Grevious, Billy Dee Williams, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Chewbacca (probably Peter Mayhew inside), and Mark Hamill.
Too cool for words to see all these people in one shot.
May 19th. Dread the day.
Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Ryne Sandberg - Baseball Hall of Fame, Class of 2005
Congratulations to Ryne Sandberg, my favorite player once I became old enough to understand how ERA was calculated.
One other "Mazel Tov" to Wade Boggs. Margo Adams aside, I always had a soft spot for Wade because his sister had multiple sclerosis. My father suffered from that affliction as well.
Bruce Sutter picked up votes and looks to be a good bet for 2006 induction. Andre Dawson remains in a holding pattern.
In other good news, Darryl Strawberry received only 6 votes. That means he will no longer remain on the ballot in future years. THAT means we don't have to hear stupid East Coast Media Bias stories about how Stawberry should or shouldn't be consiered. He won't.
Also, some sick pleasure in seeing Jack McDowell eliminated as well.
Bye Bye Shea
Hot rumor is that Terry Shea is out as the Bears' offensive coordinator. That's a big move for the Jerry Angelo regime. Not many assistant coaches have been fired before (John Shoop, for example). At least this GM forces his head coach to make changes when the assistants aren't meeting expectations.
Refreshing for this franchise. It's only taken them 17 years to begin to recover from the firing of Jerry Vainisi.
Just Wearing My CFO Hat
Two Carlos Beltran updates today. One is courtesy of the Chicago Tribune, the other, via the Houston Chronicle.
The Chronicle simply says that the Mets brain trust met with Beltran in Puerto Rico. It also carries a piece of negotiation from Houston owner Drayton McLane, who says he hasn’t spoken to Scott Boras since last week. The implication is that they aren’t talking and the offer the Astros have on the table is final. The reality is that Boras could very easily be talking to other members of the Astros front office.
The Trib article is much more interesting. Dave van Dyck opines that the Yankees may not bid on Beltran at all. Van Dyck suggests that the Yankees payroll is making the team pay too much of a luxury tax and that Beltran may not be affordable. The reality is that the Yankees may be approaching their debt ceiling. MLB clubs are prevented from having more than 40% of their balance sheet book value in liabilities. The big change for 2005 is that the present value of long term contracts are now counted as liabilities.
Therefore, a $120 million, 7-year contract for a player could count as $84 million in debt (at a 5% discount rate). The Yankees, with Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Carlos Pavano may have too much in liabilities to be able to take on Beltran.
I’m beginning to think that the Yankees are really out of this. That’s good and bad for the Cubs. The extreme outcomes for the Cubs are this: Good – Cubs get Beltran; Bad – Houtson gets Beltran. Medium bad would be the Mets getting Beltran because the Mets would no longer want Sammy Sosa.
With the Yanks out, the Cubs may yet be a player. I still have my doubts, but not as many as I had yesterday.
The New York Times has more on the Yankees and Beltran. And the word is, "No." Fun graph:
To have the Yankees yank their interest, just when the Mets are heating up theirs, would be a cruel trick to play on Boras. But then some clubs say Boras has been a cruel trick that has been played on them for years.
Monday, January 03, 2005
I meant to get to this last week. Johnny Oates, one time Cubs coach and manager of the Texas Rangers, died of cancer last week. I mention it here because I used to work with Johnny. After being fired by the Cubs (when Jim Frey was let go as manager), Oates went to work at Ha-Lo Advertising Specialties in Lincolnwood, Illinois. Oates was one of the salesmen there, trying to rescue the world from a lack of key chains and pens with corporate logos on them. I worked there as a summer clerk along with my mother who was also a salesman. Oates had his desk right next to my mother’s.
On occasion, I used to sit in the lunchroom with Johnny and listen to him tell stories about players on the team (it seems Sutcliffe was a very good clubhouse tipper) and I used to play Pop-a-shot with him in the product showroom. He was soft spoken and always had a smile on his face. I’m not sure if he even knew my name, but he always talked to me.
Oates was also a classic baseball prankster. Sometimes, when she needed a sample product in the showroom, my mother would take her shoes off and leave them at her desk. One time, she went back to her desk and her shoes were gone. She searched for them for over an hour and couldn’t find them. When she went back to her desk, they were on her seat.
A week later, she was in the showroom again, sans-shoes, when Oates walked by. "Lost your shoes again?" he quipped with a smile? The danger of officing next to an ex-ballplayer.
One year for Oates' birthday, the president of Ha-Lo, Lou Weisbach, had a Lucite plaque made with all of Johnny's Topps baseball cards embedded inside. It was a classy gift for a classy man.
I never saw Johnny again after he went to manage the Orioles, but I did follow his career. And I always hoped he succeeded wherever he worked. I guess I'm writing this only because I wanted it recorded somewhere that I remembered him. I saw that 750 people were at his funeral. I wish I could have made it 751.
There are only 5 days left for Carlos Beltran to resign with Houston. Interestingly, the Houston Chronicle (via their web site) has very little information on the status of the negotiations. That means either Houston has made their best offer (5 years, between $70 million and $96 million), of the Chronicle’s web site (www.chron.com) doesn’t have all of the articles that appear in the print version of the paper.
It’s hard to see Scott Boras allowing a team to drop from the bidding. Fewer teams bidding, less money for Carlos. The Mets are making a big play this week, but I don’t see that being a very likely destination for any major free agent.
Something should break by this weekend. And so may the Cubs playoff hopes for 2005.
Sunday, January 02, 2005
It's Not Rosey, But Still Nice
You can have your Rose Bowl as the instant classic. Sorry, but the best bowl game of New Year's Day was the Capital One Bowl of Iowa vs. LSU. Warren Holloway now gets to join names like Rob Houtlin on the "Never Has To Pay For Lunch Or A Drink In The Whole State of Iowa Ever Again" list. Iowa won their last 8 games in a row, sometimes absurdly (6-4 over Penn State?) How good would Iowa have been this year had they had not gone 5 deep on their tailback depth chart?
Oh, and the picture of the week from Orlando.
Caption: "Hey! You guys aren't Nick Saban's guys!"
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