Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Jacque Tease

Earlier today, it looked like Jacque Jones was about to be traded from the Cubs to the Florida Marlins.

The Marlins? Why the hell would they want a player like Jacque? This writer speculated that there would only be one way in which the Marlins would take Jones:

Base salary for a raw rookie is $380,000. There's 87 games left this season. I'm betting the Cubs get $380,000 for 2008 and $204,074 (from the Marlins) for this year (pro rata rookie salary due for 2007).

(Jones has) $7,120,000 left (on his contract)? Cubs send $6,535,926 to the Marlins.

Nailed it:

The Marlins, who would have given up a low-level minor leaguer for Jones, would have been on the hook for the pro-rated portion of the major league minimum salary ($380,000) this season and the full minimum next year.

So, Jim Hendry, who panicked last year after losing out on Rafael Furcal and signed Jones, was willing to trade Jones now for a smidgen above nothing. His value to the Cubs was just above zero.

Clearly, Lou Piniella is pulling the strings now. Michael Barrett was sent away for nothing. Now, Jacque goes away for nothing.

Not so fast:

The deal collapsed, however, when incoming Cubs owner Sam Zell – who is in the process of purchasing a controlling interest in the Tribune Co., which publishes the Sun-Sentinel – vetoed the hefty cash exchange.

This is wrong on two levels.

First, Zell must know that, unless Hendry finds a taker for Jones, Jones gets his money from the Cubs. Period. Not taking $585,000 for Jones simply costs the Cubs that the full $7.12 million and there is no $585,000 savings.

But, there's a second, bigger issue here. No, it's not Zell sticking a middle finger to the fans. It's that Zell has ownership in the White Sox. There is a massive conflict of interest in Zell rejecting a baseball operational move while having an equity stake in a second team. What if a minority stake owner in one club could reject moves on other clubs?

I look forward to Bud Selig answering questions on why this should be allowed. I also look forward to the professional media asking Jim Hendry, Lou Piniella, John McDonough and Sam Zell the same question.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Turf Chat

If you thought that improving the team was something in the cards for the 2007 Cubs, think again. While the sale of the team will be a net positive for fans in future years, the delay in the sale is a huge negative for this year. The stories are all over on how the team will not be able to add players that increase payroll in future years. Now comes this story:

The Cubs are looking to tear up the playing field at Wrigley Field and start all over again, team sources said, but the project has been put on hold until the team is sold. The Sox have already granted groundskeeper Roger Bossard permission to oversee the project, if it ever gets off the ground. ... Wrigley is considered one of the worst playing fields in the majors, as evidenced by the number of bad-hop ground balls on the infield. If the project gets the green light in '08, the Cubs would likely have to lower the field by at least a foot to ensure an even surface all the way around.

So, the Trib was so concerned with a winner that, in 20 years, they never considered fixing a sub-par surface. Instead, having corporate outings and filming movies like "A League of Their Own" and "Rookie Of The Year" were allowed to be held on the field.

In case anyone is unclear, these events only made the field worse.

On the more interesting side, would lowering the field a foot change things? Probably not. One supposes guys like Kyle Farnsworth who would trip over the new steps in their stupor.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

Sweep.  Tag.  Ball.  In that order, right?So, this is goodbye.

And good riddance.

Michael Barrett is now the backup catcher for the San Diego Padres. This is a wonderful thing. Clearly, this man had no business being a catcher. His instincts for the game were insufficient for the position. His skills were no better.

Yes, he was one of the better hitting players at his position, but his negatives were so high in other facets of his game, were he a hockey player, Barrett would be at the bottom of the plus/minus chart.

The Cubs (read: Lou Piniella) were desperate to get rid of him. So desperate that they not only replaced their #1 catcher with a #2 (Rob Bowen), but the Cubs paid the Padres the full difference in salary between Barrett and Bowen.

You know the joke. You have something no one wants so you say, "I'll pay you to take it"?

That's Michael Barrett. The Cubs paid $1.5 million to make Michael simply leave.

What will we miss about the Barrett years? Think. How many fond memories are there from the last three years? A grand slam against the Cardinals. And... That's about it.

Like my smirk?  You put it there.The annoyances are far more memorable. The dustup with Roy Oswalt that re-awakened that team in 2004. The senseless, but satisfying, decking of AJ Pierzynski. Rich Hill and Carlos Zambrano calling him out for being stupid. Greg Maddux and Mark Prior refusing to pitch to him. The base running gaffes. The throwing errors. The throwing a guy out who was already out. The tears are just streaming down my cheeks.

Guh-bye, Mike. Don't let the team kick you in the ass on the way out.

With Corey Patterson, Sammy Sosa, Kent Mercker, Moises Alou, and now Michael Barrett all gone, there really is only 1 or 2 guys left to detest on this team. Scott Eyre and his Dusty "no running" love would be one. Jacque "I wanna play more" Jones would be the obvious other.

Tsva Hahagana LeYisrael - Oy vey!

Oh, to be a raw recruit.
Is that hot dog kosher?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

How to Even The Score

Yes, Alfonso Soriano was showboating on a meaningless home run (the Cubs already had a, for them, sizable lead). Yes, throwing at Derrek Lee was stupid on the part of Chris Young and the Padres. If you are PO'ed at one guy at throw at another makes as much sense as Padre fans at Wrigley hoping to see Carlos Zambrano complete the no-hitter yesterday.

But, the reason that the Padres threw at Lee was simple: They thought they could get away with it. The reputation of this team is that they are soft, lazy, and stupid. The Padres tried to goad them and it worked.

Now, the question is: How do the Cubs respond? The answer is simple, but very untastefull.

Clearly, the Cubs need to hit one of the Padres. The question is who? Chris Young won't be playing, so he's out. Marcus Giles? Nah. Khalil Greene? Perhaps.

Really, there is one guy the Cubs can throw at today and, by doing so, say that we aren't taking crap from anyone. Who is that guy?

Greg Maddux.

Now, this page is not endorsing such a move. Greg Maddux is one of the top 5 favorite Cubs of all time. He's also one of the classiest players in the game.

It's because of all this that plunking Maddux would make sense. It would be the right gy to go after and send a message to the rest of the league that the 2007 Cubs won't take crap from anyone, regardless who you are.

Does this team have the gut to do this? We'll see in about 30 minutes.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Triumph at the Tony's

Triumph returns. How we've missed you.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Much To Do About A Nothing

Thaks for getting me the ball, Jacque.  Now, where did I put it?You knew the game was over when Jacque Jones and Michael Barrett had to tag team to save the day. Jones dribbled the ball to the plate from medium right field. Barrett, as shocked as anyone that the ball got there, did what he normally does when Jacque makes a throw: Tagged the runner without the ball.

Jim Hendry has really bought himself a pickle. His hand picked catcher, the apple of his eyes for years, has now regressed so far as a player that the Trib is hinting that Barrett may be traded sooner rather than later. That could happen beacuse, whoever takes Barrett, can be rid of him in 4 months when his cotrnact ends.

Jacque is another problem, altogether. Hendry panicked last year and signed Jacque to a three year deal after losing out on Rafael Furcal. That means, the Cubs owe Jacque for 2008, even if they outright release him.

Clearly, this team is pretty bad with those two in the lineup at their positions. There is a solution.

1) Bench Jacque Jones.
2) Send Matt Murton to the minors (This guy is Oceanic 815-quality Lost).
3) Trade for another catcher of Henry Blanco level capabilities.
4) Play Michael Barrett in right field, platooned with Cliff Floyd.

Yes. Right field.

Barrett does have a better bat than Jones. He's got a decent arm. Sure, he sucks as a throwing catcher, but his arm is decent enough for right. He'd be no worse than Jacque or Floyd. And, by moving him to right, the pitchers never have to see him again. How bad is he? Let's put it this way: When Rich Hill calls you out, you might be a shitty catcher.

Can Barrett really play right? I dunno. But he can't be allowed to catch and Jacque can't be allowed to play right.

Aw, prarie shit. DFA both them losers.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Calling Them Out

It's all over the papers and professional blogs now. Players are pissed at Lou Piniella:

(The talk) concerned various national reports that manager Lou Piniella had "lost" his clubhouse.

Piniella, who was serving the second of his four-game suspension during Monday night’s 7-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, seemed perplexed.

First baseman and team leader Derrek Lee flatly denied the talk.

"That is, like, funny to me," Lee said. "No, that's false. I don't even know how you lose a team. I don't know. I don't know where those reports are coming from. As far as I'm concerned, that's not a true statement."

There does not appear to me a lie in Derrek's quote. Let's break it down.

1) It's false. Yes, it's false. Lou hasn't lost the team. Now, about part of the team....

2) Knowing where the reports are coming from. Derrek is doing is "La! La! La! La! I can't hear you!"

What's pretty clear is that SOME of the Cubs are unhappy with Lou. It's also pretty obvious who they are.

One is clearly Michael Barrett. How much respect for Lou does Barrett have if Lou tells Barrett to sit on the bench but Barrett goes down to polish Carlos Zambrano's rings with his face?

The second candidate would be Scott Eyre. We all recall that Eyre was looking forward to playing for Dusty Baker because Dusty wasn't going to make him run. How do you think this lazy ass feels about Lou?

The third is Jacque Jones. When Lou says that players need to "start playng like major leaguers," it's clearly Jones among those that Lou is calling out. Jones has used the "fans hate me" excuse in the past. Blaming the maanger for his own ineptness is a logical next step.

Despite these three losers foisted upon Cub fans by Jim "Short Time" Hendry, it's clear Lou has had a positive effect on some players. Aramis Ramirez is playing the best ball of his career. Jason Marquis and Ted Lilly have no complaints. Even Ryan Dempster only crapped his pants once since the time Lou told him to throw bleeping strikes.

Lost the team? Hardly. Lost the players that are already losers? Yup. But so what?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Bleeding Black and Blue

The fight yesterday was the result of actions earlier in the week. If you recall, the Cubs held a closed door meeting back on May 31st. Why did they have it? A source tells me that it was due to this quote:

Barrett said he didn't bear down, and it cost him dearly.

"I feel like, starting with me, I have to play smarter," he said. "It's one thing to play harder, but it's not an excuse to play dumber. The all-out rule for me right now is we have to play smarter baseball."

It seems that a lot of the players in the Cubs clubhouse were miffed that Barrett said that the team was playing dumb.

That's actually the only smart thing Barrett has done in his tenure as a Cub.

What you say from Zambrano was the reaction of an immature hot head to the first brain fart from Barrett after Barrett called out the whole team. You know a lot of guys in that dugout were pissed that Barrett had another mental collapse after calling them out. Z just got to him first.

Why didn't Z go after Matt Murton for his boner earlier? Why not go after himself for his bad ptiching? Easy. They didn't discuss the team's stupid play publicly. Shades of Kent Mercker, no?

There's a lot of stench on this team left from Dusty Baker. It's going to take years to clean up. While 2007 is lost already, at least there is hope on the horizon. The brain trust of this franchise will be dismissed as soon as the sale is complete.

The thing we fans have to hope for the rest of this year is that Jim Hendry doesn't screw things up going forward more than he has screwed up the present.

If You Call 'Em Out, Call 'Em Out!

Phil Rogers goes gutless today:

As Lou Piniella continues his ongoing auditions, trying to discern what can be salvaged from the overpriced, slapped together mess, Carlos Zambrano and Michael Barrett did their part Friday afternoon at the Wrigley Field Fights. They made two of the decisions easy.

Now, Phil is correct that the 2007 Cubs are an "overpriced, slapped together mess." But, who is responsible for the mess?

Jim Hendry, that's who.

Does Phil mention that? No. A scan of the column mentions Piniella, Carlos Zambrano, Michael Barrett, Henry Blanco, Alfonso Soruano, A.J. Pierzynski, Miguel Olivo, Mark Prior, Koyie Hill and Geovany Soto.

But no Hendry.

Come on, Phil. Call a spade a spade. What are you afraid of? Hendry's gone at the end of the season. Are you worried about 4 months of access?

Friday, June 01, 2007

After 99 Years, It's Still New

''Hoo joo calling stoopid, stoopid''-Michael BarrettThis page's disdain for Michael Barrett is not new. Today, Carlos Zambrano chimed in. His chime was one of agreement.

After watching Michael Barrett have a passed ball and a throwing error on the same play, Zambrano had seen enough. As soon as the inning was over (after Z's composure and focus led to two more runs), Z and Barrett approached each other in the dugout. Z motioned to Barrett to use your head. That's like a tree of cicadas telling some kids to keep the noise level down.

Clearly, Barrett's time with this team is near an end. He has played so awful that even the "Everything Is Cub-Wonderful Blog" has noticed. The Cubs had announced earlier this week that Henry Blanco was going to get more playing time. Barrett is a free agent at the end of the year. The only question is, when does that tenure end.

The bet here is that Barrett is gone before the All Star Break.

And that, to be very, very, clear, will be a very good thing.

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