Friday, December 30, 2005

Love That Splitter

Tim Kurkjian lobbies today for the election of Bruce Sutter to the Hall of Fame. He properly notes:

Sutter was a workhorse closer who wasn't used only in the ninth inning with a lead; he occasionally entered a game in the seventh inning. He pitched 100 or more innings in a season five times, and in his 10 full seasons, never pitched fewer than 80 innings. Dennis Eckersley cruised into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot -- as he should have; he first was an accomplished starting pitcher, unlike Sutter -- but he never pitched more than 80 innings in his 10 full seasons as a closer.

In 1977, Sutter posted what may have been the most dominating performance by a closer, ever. In 107 innings, he only gave up 92 baserunners. He had a K/BB ratio of 5.60 and a K/9 innings of 10.81.

He belongs in the Hall. Kudos to Kurkjian for reminding everyone.

And shame on Kurkjian for slighting Dave Owen.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

That's One

Glenbrook North Basketball had a rough fourth night of Hannukah last night. At the Proviso West Tournament, the Spartans fell to the host Proviso West team 85 to 79. This ended a 35 game winning streak that dated back to last year's Proviso West tournament.

The Spartans didn't go down without a fight. Jon Scheyer showed his future coach (Mike Krywzewski was in attendance) what Duke will get next year. Down by 13 with 84 seconds left in the game, Scheyer went berserk.

He started with two free throws. Ten seconds later, a three pointer and a foul shot. Four seconds after that, a steal and another three. Another six seconds, another two foul shots.

That's 11 points in 20 seconds.

He followed on with another three treys and a foul shot in the last 39 seconds of the game.

This team had only 2 losses last year. The picture below shows how many they have this year.

And where they are still ranked.
We use another finger for Brian.

Real Competition

"The defeatist attitude that we always will be Chicago's second team just doesn't fly with me. And we all accept the challenge that we must win again and probably again after that to change the culture. More winning will result in the changing of that culture." - Ken Williams, White Sox General Manager

The above quote is going to get a lot of play today. What it also shows is something more subtle. Ken Williams understands the real competition isn't on the field, it's for the public's dollars.

Sports is entertainment and competes with everything from movies to restaurants to bowling alleys for everyone's limited budget for leisure.

Williams understands that the real reason to win is so that the White Sox will be a more viable business. They have to compete for revenue with, among other things, a business that provides a nearly identical form of entertainment with a much lower hurdle rate for success.

See, when fans blindly throw their money at a team, they remove the incentive to win from the ownership of the team. It's when a team has to compete financially that the incentive to improve the level of entertainment is enhanced.

Some people will tell you that they like going to Cubs games and watching baseball at Wrigley Field. Some of these people buy 81 games worth of tickets per year for multiple seats. Great. Enjoy yourself.

But when these same people say that they also want the Cubs to win, they are fooling themselves. If they have no plans of changing their viewing habits, why should the team change what the ticket buyers are viewing?

Kenny Williams understands this. It's why he has his job in the first place -- the guys before him didn't put butts in the seats.

Williams is trying to keep winning in an attempt to make the White Sox franchise more valuable. He knows that failure for his franchise reduces revenues.

Too bad the Cubs don't have the same incentive. If they had, 13 years of Andy MacPhail would have ended about 5 or 6 years ago.

The reason Andy and his long list of failing subordinates are still allowed to have keys to 1060 West Addison is our fault. We don't demand change.

My diaper is full of Millen.White Sox fans stayed away because the team wasn't interesting enough. Jerry Reinsdorf kept changing things until he found the right mix. Detroit Lions fans are, correctly, directing their ire at Matt Millen by wearing bags on their heads and wearing t-shirts that say "FIRE MILLEN." The Toronto Blue Jays, one of the most successful franchises of the early 90's, are now spending like there's no tomorrow. Why? In large part in an attempt to attract customers.

Businesses that need to attract customers tend to be more innovative and accommodating. Ones that take the customers for granted tend to be rather unsuccessful.

It's all in the motivation. If the Cubs aren't motivated properly, it's our fault. Both sides of town get this. It's fascinating how each responds.

And pretty obvious.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Thinking It Through

More and more talk about Mark Prior and Miguel Tejada fills the papers and the airwaves and the bandwidth. The current particulars seem to be Mark Prior, Korey Patterson and Rich Hill (or Brian Dopriak) from the Cubs to Baltimore for Tejada and Erik Bedard.

My favorite talk was this morning's report on WSCR that the Cubs and Orioles haven't talked in 5 days. The implication is that the negotiations are stalled. Um... Isn't it more likely that Mike Flanigan and Jim Hendry, the people negotiating the trade, were CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS and WERE NOT WORKING?!?!?!? Sheesh!

Pay no attention to my injury history.But, the more interesting talk was that Baltimore doesn't want to give up on their young pitcher, Erik Bedard. Bedard looks like a good pitcher. He strikes out just under 1 batter per inning. Has a K/BB ratio in the mid twos. With only 2+ years of major league experience, I believe he has four more seasons before he can file for free agency.

On the downside, he's rarely been healthy and will reach 26 years old by Opening Day having never thrown over 150 innings in the majors.

You can see why Baltimore would be hesitant to trade him. He's good and cheap, but unreliable.

Should I stay or should I go?Mark Prior, on the other hand, was about as brilliant as a pitcher could be in the fall of 2003. But since Alex Gonzalez's "little whoopsie" that October, Prior has been a shadow of what he was.

His elbow is questionable and there are rumors that he just doesn't have the mental makeup to play through the nagging injuries that all major league pitchers have to deal with. Additionally, there is talk that he wants to go back to the West Coast when he becomes a free agent after the 2008 season.

With all this, Prior is due a huge raise and could make upwards of $6 million this year and more in 2007.

You can see why the Cubs would be willing to trade him. He's expensive and unreliable, but shows flashes of brilliance.

But let's break the trade down.

Baltimore doesn't want to trade Tejada and the promising but unreliable Bedard if the promising but unreliable Prior is in the deal. Fine. Here's the solution:

Take Bedard out of the deal and the Cubs take Prior out of the deal! That was easy, right? Patterson and Hill for Tejada, straight up should do it.

Sometime Last Night

You are all diseased.
What the hell is wrong with people to be spending their time here?

Seriously, thanks.

Monday, December 26, 2005

So Long Mr. Vargas

Actually married to Alice Beasley -- a perfect match.
Vincent Schiavelli

He just switched off Sanka and is running a little slow, so have a heart.

Bearing Down on History

The Bears clinched Bret Favre's irrelevance yesterday. While the game was nervewracking (what is final outcome if the Packers don't miss two sub-40 yard field goals?), there was virtually no chance that these Bears would pull and "2004 Cubs" on us.

The only question that remain is: "Can the Bears get to/win the Superbowl?"

I think the answer is pretty simple: Yes, so long as they don't tackle the way they did yesterday and the way they did against Pittsburgh. I think having a healthy Mike Brown, the best football player on the team, will help tremendously with that issue.

Let's see Rex Grossman get another 20 passes in next week. He's doing just fine, but could only benefit from some extra work. I've seen people complaining about his 11-23 166 yesterday. Well, many will tell you the key QB stat is yards per attempt. And that 7.0 YPA is the minimum acceptable level for success in the NFL. Well, Rexie posted a 7.22 yesterday. Good enough in my book.

And if you happen on the Pollyanna site, you'll see they not only falsely accuse this page of being bearish on the Bears from the get-go (a false accusation), they also make some incorrect statements about Bear history.

Years ago, in another job, I had the pleasure of calling on the A.E. Staley Company of Decatur, Illinois. As part of my call prep, I read portions of the now out-of-print book, "The Kernel and the Bean : the 75-year story of the Staley Company." I've posted a text copy of chapter 3 here.

Fascinating read. What you'll be surprised to learn is that the McCaskey family sits on a near-billion dollar investment that they inherited from their grandfather, George Halas. And Halas was PAID to take the team off of Col. Staley's hands.

Note: Yes, I'm probably in violation of copywrite law here. If contacted, I'll delete the file. All you nitpickers happy now?

Friday, December 23, 2005

Tis The Season

From the Murtons
My best to everyone this weekend. May your individual holiday be filled with friends and family.

And maybe some red hair dye from Clairol.

Tax Time

The speculation is running rampant on the possible trade of Mark Prior for Miguel Tejada. I don't know if this is a good idea or not. At the end of last year, Prior was a shadow of what we saw in 2003. He's had two problems with his elbow. He's about to get a huge bump in salary. And he can leave after 2008.

Tejada is about as lock solid of a guy that there is out there, performance wise. And he's locked into his contract through 2009.

On the surface, it doesn't seem too unequal. It might even be a no-brainer if an Angel Guzman didn't book the MRI suite for road trips.

But here's what you really need to remember.

A few weeks back, when the Cubs acquired Juan Pierre, it was noted that he price the Cubs paid for Pierre (2 prospects and a AAAA player) was higher than it might have been due to the Furcal Fiasco. There's always a higher cost, a tax if you will, for screwing up.

Well, the Tejada Tax looks like it's going to be Mark Prior or Carlos Zambrano. Instead of eating Alex Gonzalez's $5 million salary in 2004, the Cubs went cheap and passed on Tejada.

If they trade Prior now, what did being cheap in 2004 get them? It might get them another hole in the rotation.

Waste some, want not. Words to live by.

Aside: Anyone else think that the Jacque Jones signing has all the markings of another Alex Gonzalez? Just like A Gonz, Jones is $5 million per year for an average-at-best player whose high salary will be used as an excuse to avoid getting a better replacement in the near future.

Stocking Stuffers

Mike Kiley writes that the Red Sox could look at Korey Patterson. He specifically notes:

Sending him to the American League would be the best of all worlds. Then Patterson couldn't come back to haunt the Cubs in the National League.

I guess Kiley means that having Korey in the AL means he won't be making outs against teams the Cubs need to beat.

In Kiley's follow on article about the Prior-Tejada talks, Kiley says:

With the possibility that Kerry Wood won't be ready to open the 2006 season on time as he recovers from surgery on his right shoulder, the Cubs might not be able to trade Prior without getting a solid starting pitcher in return.

Why aren't more people up in arms about this? By keeping Kerry pitching in relief last JulyAugust in meaningless games (we all know the Cubs were done in early May), Jim Hendry effectively blew a shot to have Wood ready by opening day.

Isn't that gross negligence? Yes, we throw that term "negligence" around a lot here, but isn't that exactly what this is?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hardball Dollars

So, how has Jim Hendry spent the money freed up with the exit of Sammy Sosa's and Nomar Garciaparra's contracts? Let's take a look. With the addition of Jacque Jones, here's what's locked in for salaries in 2006:

Player               2006 Salary ($millions)
Kerry Wood 12.00
Aramis Ramirez 10.50
Derrek Lee 9.40
Greg Maddux 9.00
Jacque Jones 5.33
Ryan Dempster 5.00
Michael Barrett 4.33
Bob Howry 4.00
Scott Eyre 3.70
Mark Prior 3.55
Glendon Rusch 2.75
Neifi Perez 2.50
Todd Walker 2.50
Scott Williamson 2.00
Henry Blanco 1.50
John Mabry 1.05
Total 79.11

Now, those totals are for the 16 players with guaranteed contracts for 2006. They also have potential bonuses of another $3.3 million.

Let's look at the guys slated for arbitration and the automatic renewals. The follwoing are estimated salaries and will not be finalized for a few months:

Player                Est. 2006 Salary ($millions)
Carlos Zambrano 6.00
Juan Pierre 5.00
Corey Patterson 2.75
Jerry Hairston, Jr. 2.50
Will Ohman 0.75
Ronny Cedeno 0.50
Matt Murton 0.50
Roberto Novoa 0.50
Jerome Williams 0.50
Michael Wuertz 0.50
Total: 19.50

All in, that looks to be $101.91 million for 2006. Clearly, some salaries could go. Patterson (one hopes) could be traded, as could Todd Walker. Then again, if Mark Prior gets a large arbitration settlement, he could go up to $6 million. That would eat up any Korey/Walker savings.

So, how has Jim done? Here's what he spent:
Jacque Jones 5.33
Ryan Dempster 5.00
Bob Howry 4.00
Scott Eyre 3.70
Neifi Perez 2.50
John Mabry 1.05

That's your Sosa/Nomar Dividend.

Remember when we discussed adding multiple good guys versus single difference makers? Would anyone here trade Jones, Howry, Eyre, Perez and Mabry for Rafael Furcal and BJ Ryan?

I would.

Blast from the Past

Caught in the News and Notes section of the paper today:

MIAMI (AP) - The Florida Marlins hired five new coaches to work with new manager Joe Girardi. Gary Tuck will serve as Girardi's bench coach, Rick Kranitz as pitching coach, Jim Presley as hitting coach, Bobby Meacham as third base coach and Mike Harkey as bullpen coach.

The all-time great Mike Harkey moment was on August 25, 1992. Harkey made the boxscore of that day's game against the Padres without throwing a pitch. See, while he was warming up, he strained a groin muscle and had to be replaced by Jeff Robinson.

And you all thought Kerry Wood was the first can't miss guy who gets injured all the time.

Panic Alert

While my shinny new Mark Prior autographed baseball sits here staring me in the face, Fox Sports keepns fanning the Tejada flames. Now they suggest a package of Mark Prior and others is being considered for the trade.

Those of you who said that Furcal was too expensive at $13 million per year, is $13 million a heavier cost for a Furcal than would a Prior-Cedeno-Pie for Tejada would be?

The first one only costs money. The second, while landing you a better player, also opens holes that need to be refilled. The trade isn't just evaluated as Prior for Tejada. It's Prior for Tejada and whoever fills Prior's spot in the rotation.

Kevin Millwood? Angel Guzman and his Mike Harkey impersonation? That's the question.

It's not the dollars. It's the real cost.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Prediction of the Year

The day after the Cubs blew the Rafael Furcal signing, our friends over at Desipio made this bold predicition:

They'll make at least one panicked free-agent signing. Think Scott Eyre plus Bob Howry times the square root of Neifi Perez plus a billion. This one will be epic and lousy. I'd tell you who it's going to be, but even I can't conjure up a notion absurd enough to be accurate.

Three years and $16 million of Jacque Jones qualifies as epic and lousy in my book.

After The Rental

We're intoducing a new feature here at Ivy Chat. Due to my nanny responsibilities for the Cubs left fielder's children, The Wife and I don't get to the movies much anymore. With those constraints, our movie lives revolve around our DVD player, Netflix queues, and Happy Meals (Spielberg's next flick, "Munich", may be an exception).

So, what's first up in queue? Since the Cubs have gone from Compelling Drama to Ignorable Comedy in only 26 months, a Watchable Comedy seems to be in order:

Coupling from the UK -- Screw the NBC version.Coupling from the UK -- Screw the NBC version.
I originally found "Coupling" on PBS here in Chicago on Sunday evenings. It's a cross between Friends, Sex in the City and Seinfeld. Like Friends, there's three single guys and three single girls on the show who all spend an inordinate amount of time in a bar (no coffee for British TV). Like Sex in the City, the topics range from sex to sex. No work, family, financial or social issues are discussed. And, like Seinfeld, there is a constant attempt to work catch phrases into the thread of the show. These phrases include:

The Sock Gap
The Giggle Loop
The Nudity Buffer
Porn Pudding (aka Jelly sold after a jelly wrestling match)
Shadayim (yes, they worked Hebrew into an episode)

The stars are generally decent actors. Only Jack Davenport seems to have gone on to any outside fame (he had a sizable part in Pirates of the Caribbean).

Richard Coyle plays Jeff as a Kramer-lite. He's the one who comes up with the bulk of the catch phrases and has the world's worst hair.

The rest of the cast is a combination of the other "Friends." Patick is Joey without the rank stupidity. Susan and Sally are each a combo of Rachel and Monica. Jane is a more interesting blend - Phoebe and Samantha from Sex in the City.

As all four seasons of the show are available on DVD for rental, I've been working my way through the show. The first two seasons are excellent. Recommended eps include "The Girl With Two Breasts" and "Inferno." Season three is tailing off a little bit, but is still a solid show.

As an added plus, each season is only 6 to 10 episodes. Unlike domestic TV, the BBC realizes less can be more.

I already find myself disappointed that there are only four seasons to watch.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Here's the Punch Line

Mrs. Wormwood would be a better GM!By now you've probably heard the news. Jacque Jones is now a Cubs.

Crap, you think. This means no Bobby Abreu. There goes a chance at a solid offense. But at least we only have to watch his 120 strikeouts for one year, right?

Well, it's not one year.

Crap. Hendry had to outbid the Royals and give two years? I know they were offering three years. Jones took two years to avoid the KC Deathtrap and come to Chicago.

Er.... Jones is your outfielder until 2008.

THREE YEARS!?!?!?!?! What did he have to do? Give him $3 million per year?

Er.... $5.3 million per year.

At this point, the paste eating, crayon holding lemming jumps off a cliff screaming.

The Cubs announced Tuesday they have signed free agent Jacque Jones to a three-year, $16 million deal.

From five outs to the World Series to a mess of galactic proportions. There is only one possible plus. When this team races to 74 wins, the Trib, or whoever owns the team in October, will clean house. Dusty, Hendry, MacPhail, everyone.

But watch. In a move of self preservation, Hendry will get a contract extension in May. Just watch.

Up next, the declining of a new contract by Derrek Lee as he wants to "test the waters" (aka find a team that knows how to win). After that, Aramis Ramirez activates his free agency option at the end of 2006. Juan Pierre also decides to test the market as the Yanks will need a new CF for 2007.

January 2007: An unhappy Mark Prior and Carlos Zambrano skip the Cubs convention due to "scheduling conflicts."

Meanwhile, some dopes tell us it's still early and good things are coming.

Early? If it's early, you don't sign Jacque Jones.

Riddle me this: If $13 million is too much for Rafael Furcal, what is $5 million for Jacque Jones.

I'd be violently ill right now if this weren't so damn predictable and funny.

This move only makes sense if he bats 7th. That means it's now Tejada or 4th place.

Must Watch TV

Just in case anyone thinks yesterday's "Cool it" on Rex Grossman was, in any way, suggesting that the Bears are not a compelling story, far from it. In fact, the Bears next two games may be the most interesting football to watch in this town since the 1984 Bears playoff games.

The Bears have a legit shot at a Superbowl berth. All that they need is an offense capable of scoring 24 points. With Kyle Orton, they had no shot at that level of performance.

With Rex, it's possible.

And that's worth watching.

With the Packers as useless right now as a diving board is in Sturgeon Bay, Rex has a chance this week to not only get back in practice, but to send a message to the NFL.

"You don't want to play us."

Send the message. We'll be watching.

Much Ado About Dollars

Today is not only the non-tender date (aka the Day Jim Hendry Throws Money Away By Giving It To Korey Patterson), but it also seems to be a decision date for one Mark Prior. According to today's Chicago Tribune, Mark Prior has the option to void his contract and file for arbitration if he chooses.

He'd be smart to exercise that option.

With the Cubs and Jim Hendry throwing money around and lousy ballplayers (Korey and this waste of space), Prior is a fool to take what his contract calls for -- around $3.5 million.

He's much better off taking his wounded flipper and trying to see if an arbitrator might just give him a raise to $6 million or so. Hell, maybe the Cubs would be scared of such a result and settle early for $4mm or more.

And, perhaps this is the hangup in any trade for Miguel Tejada. Perhaps Baltimore just wants to know what a Mark Prior is going to cost before they take him. More likely, the Cubs want to know what Prior is going to cost before they take his probable DL time into account.

If Prior ends up in the $6mm range, perhaps a swap for Tejada isn't so unlikely.

Typical Cubs. Two years ago they could have had both players. Now, they probably have to swap the one for the other.

Oh, I'm sorry. I'm living in the past. Forgive me for showing how past incompetence has a great effect on today's decisions. Forgive me for suggesting that reminding people of past mistakes might just help them avoid those mistakes in the future.

I'm done here. Off to do an art project.


Someone ate my paste.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Dino Excitement

What if the Bears get another quaterback? A healthy one? I don't think I can take that kind of rejection.All is right with the world according to many Bear fans. Now the Kyle Orton can shave his wierd beard, the Bears supposedly have an offense that actually gives them a shot for post-season success.

What low standards Bear fans have.

Sure, Rex actually kept the Bears defense off the field. Look at the drive charts. Under Kyle Orton, the Bear drives were 4, 3, 4, 3, 7, 5, 5 plays each drive. Under Rex Grossman, the drives were 11, 11, 6, 6, 3. And the 3 was to kill the clock.

If you can keep the defense off the field, they might just stay rested. That means you won't have the collapses like Pittsburgh last week and the near-miss collapse against the Bucs a few weeks back.

On the other hand, Rex made a key mistake in the red zone -- something Kyle has mostly avoided. He also had some passes that were as bad as anything Kyle threw. To think that this guy is a savior is as premature as Moses. Bear fans thinking they are now a lock to lose to Peyton Manning in Detroit are very early in their prediction.


Where will Rex be in three weeks? Once he starts two more games and actually finds a rhythm, Bear fans may actually be right.

Celebrating the return of Rex is the same as the stupidity that was the advance celebrating Rafael Furcal's signing. Wait a few weeks and see if there is anything to get excited about. There just might be. After all, under Kyle, it was only impending doom that anyone saw.

With Rex, let's hope what we see isn't flashing red lights.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Looks Like I Picked The Wrong Day To Read The Paper

If you haven't read today's sports pages, and you are a Cubs fan, don't. Please don't. Every Cubs fan who reads the article will become violently ill in the next half hour.

It starts with a slight fever and dryness of the throat. When the information penetrates the red blood cells, the victim becomes dizzy begins to experience an itchy rash, then the poison goes to work on the central nervous system, severe muscle spasms followed by the inevitable drooling. At this point, the entire digestive system collapses accompanied by uncontrollable flatulence. Until finally, the poor bastard is reduced to a quivering wasted piece of jelly.

On the day Jim Hendry presented Juan Pierre to the media, Jim had the gall to also announce that Korey Patterson will be offered arbitation next week. If that only induces your gag reflex, Hendry also announced that Korey will have a shot at right field for next year.

Patterson's potential, despite a .215 season and a demotion to Triple A, gives Hendry pause when considering a trade. A handful of teams, including Texas and Arizona, briefly showed interest in Patterson, but the Cubs would rather give him another chance than deal him for low-level prospects. As Exhibit A they can point to Derrek Lee, who hit .233 and .206 for Florida in 1998 and '99, when he was about Patterson's age, before blossoming in his late 20s.

A shrink calls this rationalization. Sports fans have seen this before when, 10 years ago in an interview, Mike McCaskey suggested that there was an equivalence between Brett Favre and Rick Mirer because the Bears had given up a first round pick for Mirer just as the Pack had done for Farve.

It is highly unlikely this is just posturing for a trade. Historically, the Cubs have told the press of their intentions, either through blind quotes or interviews such as this.

Be clear. One of the reasons Hendry has to consider Patterson for right is because the best options are either gone (Giles, Bradley), unavailable (Floyd), or to expensive for the Cubs (Abreu) with the limited number of high ceiling prospects in the farm system.

If Korey Patterson starts for the Cubs on Opening Day at any position other than grounds crew, it would only be due to Jim Hendry's compounded negligence. And it would be an insult to any fan who pays money for a ticket.

Oh, but that's not all. The article also has this gem:

While the Cubs are concentrating on finding a right fielder, questions remain on whether Matt Murton is ready to handle left field full time. Murton hit an impressive .321 in 140 at-bats after being called up in July with only 78 games of experience at Double A. But Baker played him primarily against left-handers in the early going, and his average slipped after being given the job in September. He wound up hitting .261 against right-handers.

They're backtracking on Murton and pushing Korey. So, if they are posturing on Korey, why wouldn't they posture on Murton? He has a ton of trade value right now.

The answer is, of course, they aren't posturing. They are preparing Cubs fans for the inevitable. If they tell us now that it's Korey in right and Murton on the bench, they think we'll be less pissed in April. And, given historical ticket sales, they would be right.

Today was going to be a good day, then I read all this. I haven't felt this bad since I saw that Ronald Reagan film at the Anita Bryant concert.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Welcome! What's Next, Jimbo?

Aw!  Jelly stains on my new uniform!That's a picture this page has longed to see for a number of years. So, why is this page underwhelmed? Isn't Juan Pierre the answer to the 2 year old gap in leadoff? Didn't Jim Hendry just unload multiple high ceiling prospects to get him -- something Jim has never done before?

Yes, but this page realizes that patching a hole in the Titanic wouldn't have made that ship reach New York. This page is afraid that Juan is all the good news we Cubs fans are going to get this offseason.

Call me Al..."Oh! Stop whining!" we hear from the Crayola Crowd. "It's still 158,289 minutes until Opening Day. Spring Training hasn't even started yet. Why are you doomsaying now? There's still plenty of time for this team to make moves. Patience!"

Oh, to be so naive.

What moves are there left to make? Who is available? More imporantly, what's the plan?

"A plan?" they ask? Yes. What is Jim's plan. Right field was a hole starting October 2, 2004 when Sammy Sosa walked out early on the last game of the 2004 season. Shortstop has been a hole since Nomar Garciaparra's soft tissues separated from his groin.

The Rafael Furcal plan was blown spectacularly. Right field could have been Brian Giles, but that wasn't even attempted. Milton Bradley was monopolized by the A's of Oakland. Bobby Abreu is available if you give up Mark Prior (aside: I just received an autographed Mark Prior Baseball and Stand today compliments of my cousin - Chanukkah arrived early). Miguel Tejada *might* be available, but most likely isn't. Edgar Renteria has already moved.

In short, there's not much left to be had. So much for being patient.

If we Cubs fans are patient with year 13 of the Andy MacPhail regime, what will we see? Austin Kearns and his 150 strikeouts? Adam Dunn and his 200 strikeouts? Korey Patterson and his 250 strikeouts? Neifi Perez for 400 at bats? Julio Lugo is up for his cage match with his wife on pay-per-view at halftime of the Superbowl and isn't very good, anyway.

Patience? Please. We want to know what the PLAN is. If there needs to be patience in simply developing a PLAN, then it's time to move on.

Either that, or someone doesn't know that the time to pull the rip cord has passed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

How Timely

Bill O'Reilly was talking up Christmas tonight on a clip on the Daily Show. He said that people were stupid to be insulted by the saying "Merry Christmas" if they weren't Christian.

Jon Stewart agreed that there's no way those two words could be offensive.

Stewart followed with a clip showing O'Reilly taking with a guest. The guest said that Christians can't be offended by the saying "Happy Holidays."

"Oh yes they are," said O'Rielly.

What a maroon. I shouldn't be offended by "Merry Christmas" but he is by "Happy Holidays"?

Jon Stewart - The most trusted name in fake news for a good reason.

Happy Holidays

Yes, there's a war on. On Christmas. It seems there are lots of Bill O'Reilly's out there who feel that everytime some store clerk says "Happy Holidays" after you drop $50 on the latest Furby incarnation, it is an attempt to remove Jesus from all of our lives.

Let's be very clear on something. Christmas is a great holiday. It's not my holiday, but it's a great holiday. I get to take the day off, go to a museum or the movies with the family, have some Chinese food and do all that with minimal crowds.

What's not to like?

But here's the funny thing about Christmas that makes store owners suggest to their clerks to use the term "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." Let's look at the calendar for 2005:

November 24th - Thanksgiving
December 25th - Christmas
December 25th - Hanukkah
December 26th - Kwanzaa
January 1st - New Years Day

I count five holidays in that period where store clerks are saying the outrageous phrase. Is it possible that, just perhaps, store clerks are being told by their profit driven employers to not alienate any of their customer base?

Perhaps in Westminster, VA, where there's only one synagogue, retailers might have little conflict in saying "Merry Christmas." I mean, how many of their customers could possibly not be celebrating that holiday?

But in, say, Manhattan, what's the percentage that don't celebrate Christmas? 40%? 50%? Higher?

It's the height of arrogance to suggest that a private business must say some specific, seasonal phrase that might offend a portion of their client base because of some cajoling by a few Scrooges who are themselves offended.

Since when does anyone have a right not to be offended?

What's next? I know. Let's eliminate Santa because it takes away from recognizing the birth of Jesus and places an inordinate amount of attention on the materialism of gifts. It makes sense with what some are whinning about.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled "dead horse beating" of Miguel Tejada.

Seasons Greetings.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Taken to Task

Bruce Miles is generally the best of the Cubs beat writers. His Daily Herald pieces are generally first reads. That said, his Saturday piece had a glaring inaccuracy that must be pointed out:
Of course, the Orioles are going to want something good in return for Tejada. The Cubs still have young pitching to deal, and to have this once-in-a-lifetime shot to get a player the caliber of Tejada, Hendry also might be willing to part with some of the emerging position-player talent in the Cubs' minor-league system.

Sloppy, sloppy, Bruce. This is a "second chance," not a once-in-a-lifetime shot. As many are aware, this is a move that could have been made two years ago for far less cost, and much greater upside, than what is now being considered.

Another Rerun

Now that Cub Nation has finally come around on Miguel Tejada, you had to wonder when they were going to come around on other suggestions made by this page over the years.

Well, Barry Rozner jumps on the Jose Vidro bandwagon today. He makes a good case:

Vidro ... is a switch hitter who has spent much of his career in the No. 2 hole, where he'd look good behind leadoff man Juan Pierre and in front of Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez.

Tejada has been more of a power hitter than Vidro, but Vidro reportedly will be healthy next spring and might be poised for a 20-homer, 100-RBI season, which is about where he was before injuries slowed him down.

At 31, Vidro is two years older than Tejada but surprisingly has a higher career batting average than Tejada (.302-.280) and a higher career on-base plus slugging percentage (.831-.815).

Vidro also is an excellent bunter, is terrific when behind in the count and does something the Cubs rarely do: he works the count in every at-bat.

With the Nats having just acquired Alfonso Soriano, they may not have a choice but to deal the $8mm contract that Vidro has.

Once again, this is not an either/or position for the Cubs. If Tejada is available, and there are doubts that he really is, you get him AND take a flier on Vidro. Vidro could be had for castoffs like Korey, if for no other reason than Korey is about $5mm per year cheaper than Vidro.

What's really too bad is that all these names that are being thrown around for 2006 should have been considered back in 2003 and 2004. I guess, instead of showing the anger and disgust by lobbying for change or removing your dollars from the equation, many fans take their cue from the Kindergarten school of fandom. That's the group of fans that are just happy to whip out their crayons and draw pictures.

Yeah, that's a great way to channel frustration.

You gotta love the Blogger spellchecker. The suggested replacement for "Tejada" is "teased."

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Miggy Cometh?

By now, the entire Cubs fan base has come to wanting Miguel Tejada in a Cub uniform more than they want a free beer at the Bernie's post-game drinkfest. I can only ask you all one question:

What the hell took you so long?

Some will ask if I'm now in a good mood because the Cubs are trying to obtain a player I've lusted after for years, especially given the recent addition of another lust that goes by the name of Juan Pierre.

In a word, no.

Why? Because he's not here and he should be already. For the past two years.

It does give me a certain feeling of smugness to know that Cub Nation, and seemingly Jim Hendry, now wants this guy with all abandon. Too bad they didn't feel this way two years ago and put pressure on the team. Now, all that has to happen is the entire farm system will need to be emptied along with the probable departure of some combination of Pie, Cedeno and Murton. Or maybe even all three.

I'm guessing that it takes no less than Pie, Cedeno and Jerome Williams. What stinks is that this trade only works depending on the mentality of the Orioles.

Do they think they can compete with Boston, New York and now Toronto for the division and the Wild Card?

If they think "yes," Tejada will be headed for some place like Houston who can fill holes that Baltimore has with players they can use this season with a Brandon Backe and a Chad Qualls. And with Clemens now retired, Houston has the money. If Baltimore decides that 2007 is their next best shot, Hendry should have no problem making a proposal that Baltimore would accept.

Be excited, but cautious, Cub Nation. Remember. Just 11 days ago, we were told "certainly later this week, that Rafael Furcal will become a Cub," and that even I would have to give Hendry his props.

How did that work out, hmm?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Reality Based Community

When the news broke yesterday that Miguel Tejada announced he wanted out of Baltimore, a tone of hope was generated that he could land with the Cubs. There are two scenarios being played out by Cubs fans as to what has to happen for the Cubs to get Tejada.

Option A is to trade the bulk of the high ceiling prospects in their farm system. Basically, the O's might give up Miggy in exchange for Ronny Cedeno, Jerome Williams, Felix Pie and one other high ceiling prospect. What's amusing about this scenario is that it correctly diagnoses Jim Hendry's failing to sign Tejada in 2003 as now resulting in the complete mortgage of the team's future.

Didn't someone just recently say something similar? That the cost of not signing Tejada actually exceeded the cost of signing him?

Then, there is the other side of Cubdumb. They seem to think that by trading all their no-longer-favorite players who have well known names you can land Tejada. I mean, Kerry Wood, Rich Hill and Korey Patterson would get the deal done, right? Wood's a stud (well, he was for a day in 1998 and for two months in 2003). Korey is salvageable. And Hill, albeit nearly 26 and with only 1 good pitch is a hot-in-demand prospect (we know this because Jim Hendry said he's nearly untouchable).

Let's say the people throwing these ideas around have as much reality in them as the Flat Earth Society members.

Landing Tejada could right the foundering Cubs. He'd probably like it here with Domincan buddies A Ram and Neifi. He'd also give the Cubs a huge top of the lineup. Think about:

A Ram
RF (to be determined)
Neifi/Jerry Jr. (Neifi is survivable in the 8-hole)

All that's needed here is a huge gamble with the top 4 or 5 names on the Cubs high prospect list. The payoff would be an offensive team worthy of playoff talk.

The problem is, why would Baltimore do this? The only possible way they would is if they concede the AL East and the Wild Card to the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays for 2 years and start planning for 2008. Are they really in Marlin Mode?

I don't think so. I think Miggy stays put or goes to Boston somehow.

What funny is a lambasting this page has received for bringing up Tejada's name recently in a reminder of the Cubs incompetence and short sightedness. "Let it go," was the response.

Looks like it boomeranged on its own.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Most. Grammys. Ever

You remember me for THIS?With the announcement of the Grammy nominations today, it's only fair to recall the winner of the most Grammys ever. Sir Georg Solti, leader of the Chicago Symphony, left us with hours of tremendous music to enjoy. He died in 1997.

Perhaps his best work, and least known, was this tribute to what President Coolidge once said he enjoyed because he,"always did like animal acts."

Hat tip to Jay for the music. If only you can get The Source to convince Hendry to stay away from Dave Roberts.

Korey Watch

Many people are expecting a trade for Korey Patterson at any moment. Well, people better be prepared for this shock. The Cubs may not trade Korey.

"WHAAAAT?!?!?!" people will scream. "They just got the Ivory Ivy Chat long time drool inducing Juan Pierre here. How could they NOT trade him? He can't be on the team in 2006!"

Well, people would be partially correct. Korey won't be on the Cubs in 2006 and they may not trade him.

They may non-tender him and give him his outright release.

See, on December 20th, teams have to make final decisions on if they plan to "tender" (or offer) arbitration to their players with more than 3 years but less than 6 years of accrued major league service time. Anyone offered arbitration is guaranteed not to have his salary cut by more than 20%. A player offered arbitration could also find gold in an arbitrator who rules in his favor and grants him a huge raise, deserved or not.

Back to Korey, he made $2.8 million last year just for being useless. That means, that anyone who trades for him will have to pay him $2.24 million at a MINIMUM.

It's very possible no team will want to pay that, regardless of Korey's upside, even if all the Cubs ask for in exchange is the phone number of a good take out pizza joint.

If that happens, look for the Cubs to let Korey walk on December 20th. Yes, the once #3 pick in the draft, the can't miss player most fans adored before they even saw him, may be let go for nothing.

I've got no problem with that.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Being Rational

Now that the amusing has been posted, here's the analysis. This was a good, expensive trade. The Cubs got a guy on the right side of 30 with more +200 hit seasons than sub-200 hit seasons. He steals 50+ bases. And he eliminated Korey from the mix. If Juan Pierre performs like he has in 2002, 2003, and 2004, the Cubs could be set in one outfield position for the next 5 years.

Jim Hendry also stepped up and finally parted with high ceiling prospects. This is the first time he's done so in his career and he should be applauded for taking a bold step. It's even more of a bold move when you realize that the Cubs are now at the point when they will start to need minor league starters to fill rotation slots. After 2006, only 2 spots are locks: Prior and Zambrano. Jerome Williams, Glendon Rusch, and Kerry Wood could all be gone for various reasons. Pinto and Nolasco would have been 2007 candidates for those slots.

What's also huge is that Sean Marshall and Felix Pie are still part of the Cubs organization. Could they be packaged for a Bobby Abreu? It's now still possible.

That said, the reason the deal was so expensive was because of Jim's past screwups. Had he signed Furcal, the deal becomes Sergio Mitre and ONE of Renyl Pinto and Ricky Nolasco.

You just have to call this deal the "Furcal/Tejada" tax. If either one of those guys had been signed by Hendry, there would be an extra bullet to go get Abreu. At least today, Jim paid the price.

Scenes From A Hotel Bar

Overheard in Dallas last night:
Larry Beinfest: Hey, Jim! How are you! Looks like you are walking kind of funny?
Jim Hendry: I'm okay, Lar. I'm just getting over some lower back pain that Furcal gave me.
That has to be the screwdriver.LB: Yeah, I heard about that. So, what's on the agenda today? I'm guessing you want Dontrelle back.
JH: Actually, I was hoping that the goodwill I’ve built with you over the years, Dontrelle included, might give me an edge in talking to you about Juan Pierre.
LB: Sure. What are you thinking?
JH: Well, we have this kid Sergio Mitre who's been very desirable the last few years...
LB: Easy there, Jim. That Mitre "kid" has been up and down on your team more than Anna Benson has on the Mets' bullpen. I'm going to need something more.
JH: What about Bobby Brownlie?
LB: I'm going to need something with an elbow not made out of spare parts.
JH: Oh, come on Larry. You need to dump Pierre. While he's a very good player, your team isn't going anywhere this year. Pierre's going to get north of $5 million in arbitration and he's going to be a free agent after this year. You don't want him anymore. You NEED to move this guy. You're in over a barrel.
LB: Me?!?!? Let's turn this around. Since you came on in mid-2002, you’ve replaced 21 men on your 25 man roster. The only position player left from then is Corey, I mean, Korey Patterson. Kerry Wood is a bullpen guy at best and an insurance claim at worst. Mark Prior can't get out of the first inning with a pitch count under 40. Your best player is a guy I gave you. And your other cornerstone, that Ramirez guy, has hamstrings even Oscar Meyer couldn't make sauages out of. Beyond that, your manager is blaming you for bringing him players who don't know how to play and is already making noises about not playing those Murton and Cedeno kids. Your boss may or may not give YOU a contract extension. AND... The company that owns you may sell you to shore up their balance sheet. Let's not even mention what happened last October at 35th and Shields. I need to move Pierre? You need to make a deal for a good player. Fast.
JH (cringing): What were you thinking?
LB: Well! (rubs hands in anticipation) I was thinking Felix Pie, Carlos Zambrano and Ricky Nolasco.
JH: WHAT?!?!? I just got finished telling the Phillies that they couldn't have Pie and Rich Hill for Bobby Abreu. I'm not giving Pie, much less Zambrano, to you for Pierre.
Call me Fes.LB: Ok. Well, I'm stockpiling young pitchers. We plan on winning another title in three or four years. We could have more titles in 15 years than you have in 110! Back to young pitchers. You don't use them anyway, so give them to me. How about Nolasco, that horse kid, Pinto is it? And throw in that guy you mentioned who sleeps with Lindsay Lohan. That's always a plus near South Beach.
JH: BOTH of them? They were GREAT at West Tenn last year. 24 wins, 6 losses and sub-3 ERAs. I can't give you BOTH for a guy who may be a one-year rental!
LB: One sec, Jim. (Waives to two guys in the lounge) Hey Omar, hey Brian. How's things in the Big Apple? You want to talk rosters? Cool. Gimme a minute I'm just finishing up here. Sorry, Jimbo. What was that?
JH (sadly): OK. Pinto, Nolasco, and Mitre.
LB: Outstanding! Sorry to run, but I've got to go talk to these guys. I've got to get Cashman off his Pierre kick and warm him back on Cabrerra. You got these drinks?
JH: I guess... I'm not sure I can reach my wallet. My lower back is hurting again.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Remains of the Day

So, what to make of the names being bandied about? Let's run them down.

Austin Kearns - OPS has crashed since his rookie year. Strikeouts climbing. Injuries also a problem. Only trade a very low cieling prospect for this guy. Mitre or Patterson signly would also be okay. Regardless, Kearns is not a guy to get excited about.

Julio Lugo - In 7 seasons, only 2 seasons with an OBP over .340. That ssaid, his most recent season was a career best .362. Histoically, also a 100+ strikout guy. Would seem to be a decent candidate, but is he really better than Ronny Cedeno? And is he really a leadoff guy?

Aubrey Huff - Long time "Wish Lister"er may be falling off due to his falling off. Last three years: Homers, doubles, walks, OPS steadily decling. Strikeouts rising. Perhaps a Wrigley Resurgance would be possible, but he seems to be a more expensive Kearns now. Not a guy I'd give a lot up for anymore.

Dave Pinto over at suggests that the Cubs might be willing to part with Prior for Bobby Abreu. No bleeping way. Abreu has too many years pilled up on him relative to Prior to make that deal. Or, if they want to include some salary relief and some additional players back for Prior, I might listen. But straight up? No way.

That said, if there's any hope for 2006, it may be sitting in right field in Philidelphia right now. And Oakland's starting rotation (Zito) and Florida's outfield (Pierre).

Perhaps Barry Rozner is correct and it is time to blow this thing up and start over once again. I don't really ahve a problem with that if one thing is taken care of: Jim Hendry is either extended or fired.

You never want to have executives make decisions about the long-term future resources of your company when they know that their ass is on the line based on the next two quarterly reports.

Andy McPhail needs to extend Hendry now, or fire him before Hendry does something really stupid in a vain attempt to save his job.

Shoutout or Ripoff?

If you haven't read Jay Mariotti in a while, today is a day that you just might want to do so. HE echoes the thoughts of many of the Cubs blogs. In fact, he even seems to quote give a shout out to some of them:

Hendry painted himself into a corner when he put all his offseason eggs in the Furcal basket.

Jay closes on a shockingly clear and sane note:

Don't be surprised, though, if the Cubs are a hodgepodge wrapped around the hope of Lee, Aramis Ramirez and pitching. Don't be surprised if Ronny Cedeno is your shortstop and Matt Murton is your left fielder. Don't be surprised if Juan Pierre, another leadoff man on the Hendry wish list, ends up elsewhere. Don't be surprised if the Kerry Wood trade talk is nothing but nonsense. And don't be surprised when the Cubs win 85 games.

But, hey, at least the profit margin will be higher. That's the important thing, you know.

OK. Not so sane. 85 games? Right now, it's 75 games. Even with Lugo, Huff, Kearns and Pierre.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Now What?

No pictures of me showing below my waist, please.With the start of the Baseball Winter-Even-Thought-It's-Still-Fall-Meetings today, Jim Hendry finds himself, quite possibly at a career crossroads. It's possible that failure by Jim this week could also go so far as to sink three other ships. Dusty Baker, Andy McPhail, and the Tribune Corporation as owners, may all founder if Hendry doesn't pull that screw out of his butt and right the listing Cubs.

Phil Rogers echoes many thoughts that this page has held for a long time. Namely, that one of the primary reasons Dusty Baker was brought here, and a reason I advocated his hiring at the time, was his ability to recruit free agents.

When Rafael Furcal took a job away from Dusty Baker with a team that HAS NO MANAGER, what does that say about Dusty? And what does it say if Bruce Miles is accurate and that the Cubs may have actually offered Furcal more dollars over the first three years of the contract than the Dodgers did?

A source close to the negotiations said the Cubs had a three-tiered proposal in place: one that would have guaranteed Furcal $47.5 million over three years to leave the Atlanta Braves; another worth potentially $50 million over five years; and yet another that included a sixth-year option that would have made the deal worth $57.5 million.

Rogers goes on and says that the Cubs may have to trade Prior or Zambrano to get Bobby Abreu. That's nuts. Sure, the COULD trade those guys and get Abreu. But, they won't need to. They may need to trade Pie and a Ricky Nolasco and a Sergio Mitre to get the deal done, but it will all be a factor of how much salary the Cubs are willing to take on.

They better be willing to take on a lot. Failure by Hendry will lead to his firing, which would lead to the dismissal of Dusty Baker. Andy McPhail, having blown through three GMs (Ed Lynch, himself, and Jim Hendry), might finally get the axe he so richly deserves. And lastly, the Tribune, facing profitability issues and the death spiral of the newspaper industry, may have its board question why it owns a baseball team. A team with a $100 million payroll. A team that provides the negative image of losing. A team that provides fewer and fewer nightly broadcast opportunities for WGN as the WB Network takes up the bulk of the evening timeslots.

Anyone who things that 2006 isn't a pivotal year for the Cubs as an organization completely misses the overall.

Be patient? Way too late for that.

Offense? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Offense!

How's our sack smell, Brett?
While the Pollyanna's over at that other site have gone from sobbing that the overrated Rafael Furcal is a Dodger, to wondering who Jim Hendry will go for next, to blaming me (aren't there seven stages of grief?), the Bears continue to do the impossible.

They keep winning with one half an NFL team. Considering that one half, the defense, is about as good as has been seen in 10 years, it's not surprising they are in games. But how many times in a row can the coin flip heads for a victory?

Let's be clear on a few things:

1) Kyle Orton has no business quarterbacking an NFL team right now. I dunno if it's because he's bad, because he's a rookie, because he's still drunk from his night at the Sports Column, or some combination thereof, but he belongs holding a clipboard right now.

2) For all that, if Brett Favre is the Bears' QB yesterday, the Bears lose. Brett Favre may be one of the worst QBs in all of football right now. When, on fourth down, he passed up running for a first down and threw an incomplete instead, you knew the game was over and Brett would rally the Bears to a win.

The Chicago Bears are two players from winning a Superbowl. Unfortunately, those players are Roger Staubach and Jerry Rice. If this team finds a QB in the next month and one more receiver to go with him, the stand a chance against Indianapolis.

Not a good one, but a chance.

Right now, it'll be one and done in the playoffs for this team. And, don't look now, but those Vikings just don't want to lose...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Good News Ain't Coming

Found sticking out of Jim Hendry's ass.WGN TV just announced the Rafael Furcal has signed a 3 year, $40 million deal with the LA Dodgers. Baring a trade that Jim Hendry has never shown the stones to have (one that unloads high ceiling minor league talent) 2006 is already over. Hendry blew this one two years ago. That he didn't step up to beat the ex-Cub front office man Ned Coletti when Hendry really had no other choice speaks volumes about Hendry as a GM.

What's the theme for 2007? "Come See Prior and Zambrano One Last Time!"?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Breaking News

ESPN is reporting that Luis Castillo has been traded to the Twins in exchange for Travis Bowyer and Scott Tyler.

They're playing chess. Our guy plays checkers.

Spot The B.S.

Here's a partial transcript from the Dusty Baker WSCR interview yesterday. This was posted in a discussion thread over at and I've shamelessly posted it here to make it easier to find (that assumes that this site is easy to find).

Spotting the falsehoods and doubletalk is a full time job.

WSCR: If you don't get Furcal, would you lead off with Corey Patterson again?

Dusty: That depends how he looks. He has the ability and skill, but not the knowledge. You have to lead off with the best guy you have. How much speed do we have? How many guys can steal a base? Sometimes it's a matter of supply and demand with who you have.

WSCR: Do you think he gives all his effort?

Dusty: I think so. I've talked to his parents about it and they say he keeps all his pressure internally, so it looks externally that he's not making an effort.

WSCR: I saw him drop an easy fly ball -- is he getting gun shy?

Dusty: Yeah, somewhat. Gene Clines, myself, and Gary Matthews have spent a number of hours trying to figure how to get the most out of him, but sometimes you're stuck with who you have. He is the fastest on the team -- Derrek Lee thinks he's the fastest in the league.

WSCR: Should the Cubs quit touting their prospects to lower the expectations?

Dusty: It's hard not to. You didn't hear much about Murton because he came over from the Red Sox. Regarding touting, it's not only the Cubs -- all teams do it. It's hard not to do with BA and other publications out there.

WSCR: Will you play the young players?

Dusty: I think that's an unfair rap because I haven't had any young players to play. When I was with the Giants, I only had 2 or 3 the whole time. One was Calvin Murray, who I played but he had a hard time hitting. Another was Pedro Feliz, who I was ready to play, but then we got David Bell. Another was Rich Aurelia, who I was ready to play but then we went out and got Shawon Dunston, Rey Sanchez, and Jose Vizcaino before he could get an opportunity.

WSCR: Well, last year you marched Hollandsworth out there over Murton.

Dusty: Hollandsworth had a track record. We knew what we thought he could do based on the half a season he had the year before. We're not here for a tryout camp -- we're here to win ball games. We didn't know what Murton could do. I had only seen Murton a game or two in training camp.

As far as Cedeno, this guy was a guy I touted and liked the whole time, but what are you gonna do -- just bench Neifi Perez, who's doing an outstanding job? You got to have players who are ready to play at the MLB level, especially with the pressure there is to win.

In Spring Training, I play every guy there is coming over there, because I remember what it was like when I was coming up and only getting maybe 1 at bats behind Hank Aaron and Rico Carty and I went in for defense. I was in the big leagues at 19 and it would be hypocritical not to like young players.

WSCR: As it stands now, would you be prepared to play Murton in LF, Patterson in CF, and Mabry in RF --with the hope of other names?

Dusty: That's not my every day lineup. We're working on some things, especially in the outfield, which was one of the lowest producing outfields in baseball. I can't mention names because that would be tampering.

WSCR: You need to improve your fundamentals. Even guys like Konerko and Thome can bunt, but not Aramis.

Dusty: I try to stress fundamentals every year, but some guys come over from other teams who don't. A lot of these things should be known even before you get to MLB, but it's something that's going around. My teams in the past, especially before I got to Chicago, we're very strong and we didn't beat ourselves.

WSCR: I've said that Dusty needs to show that he can win without a big time slugger. Unfair rap?

Dusty: Where would the White Sox be without Konerko's 40 HRs? People focus on things I can't do. Where would Phil Jackson be without Shaq and Kobe? I can only manage to the guys I have.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Backups being Eliminated?

If the Cubs blow their chance to get Rafael Furcal, an obvious choice would be to play Ronny Cedeno at short stop and find a new second baseman. A second baseman who is an offensive threat that has a better glove than Todd Walker.

Perhaps a guy like Luis Castillo who is available?

Alas, this backup option, and probably a better option than the nightlife enticed Furcal, seems to be headed elsewhere:

The Marlins, continuing their efforts to trade high-salaried players, are in serious discussions with the Twins about second baseman Luis Castillo, has learned.

Two other clubs also are pursuing Castillo, but the Twins stand the best chance of making a deal, according to a major-league executive who has spoken with the Marlins.

Jim Hendry is being outflanked once again. He's position himself to waste the entire season unless he gets Furcal - a player more likely to be good than great, and disappoint those of us expecting great.

Were it me, I'd take Castillo AND Furcal (and Pierre and Abreu). But hey. Thinking big is not very Cub-like.

97 years and ticking...

Dusty Speaks

WSCR just replayed an interview with Dusty Baker. It left me speechless. Speechless.

How could I have ever thought that this snake oil salesman could be a good fit for the Cubs?

His latest doublespeak is this:

Dusty has no problem playing young players, he says. After all, he was 19 years old when he hit the majors (and played with Hank Aaron in case you forget). Not playing young players would be hypocritical.

Then again, says Dusty, it's hard to play young players every day because you don't really know what they are capable of when they come up from the minors.

See the paradox? Dusty plays young players. Dusty plays the ones that he knows what they can do. If Dusty doesn't know what they can do, he doesn't play them. And since the only way to find out what they can do is to play them...

Dear Ned Colletti. Stare deep into my eyes. You really want to have Dusty back working with you. Not Rafael Furcal or Grady Little. It's Dusty Baker you want.

Dusty Baker....

Duuuuuusty Baaaaaaker....

House Cleaning

Updates made to the Wish List. BJ Ryan and Billy Wagner have been removed due to shortsightedness at 1060 West Addison. A few new names have been added to the list. I'm confident that no more than one or two will actually ever be Cubs.

Also, head on over to Desipio for their bi-annual, irregularly scheduled Len Kasper interview. Len answers with his usual flair. And, on occasion, actually says more than he probably intended.

Looks Like I Picked The Wrong Week To Work In Finance

This morning when I arrived at work, my boss was in my office using his cell phone so as to not disturb the meeting going on inside his office.

Off all the things to find in one's office. I should have taken that job offer from the University of California, Irvine.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]