Friday, February 29, 2008

Brannon Braga In Heaven

Thursday, February 28, 2008

In The News

If Sam Kinneson were at Wrigley...
With the return of spring training baseball, the Chicago Tribune turns to highlighting the voice that brings the Cubs to us over our TV sets.

It's kind of funny. Len Kasper has been with us in Chicago now for going on three years and he still kind of just blends into the scene. He's not larger than life like Harry Caray was, nor is he an icon of Chicago Sports the way Jack Brickhouse was.

Kasper's approach to broadcasting seems to be one of bringing the story of the game to the viewer, but not getting in the way of the visuals. In effect, he blends into the broadcast. That's a tremendous plus over the last guy to have the Cub job.

Kind of explains how he fits in at the Double Door.

Oh, and if Len is bothered by what a high school drop out who used to run a hot dog stand thinks of Len's broadcasting skills, Len needs a much thicker skin.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It Keeps Getting Worse

Remember when the politicians told us that a state purchase of Wrigley Field would cost the taxpayers nothing? Well, you know the old saying about how to tell when a politician is lying:

(Former Gov. Jim Thompson, chairman of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority) described the arrangement as a sales tax version of tax-increment-financing (TIF). But, instead of freezing property taxes at existing levels and using the growth for business subsidies and infrastructure improvements within the district, the sales tax increment generated by the stadium renovation would be used to modernize Wrigley.

"The city would have to give up their share of sales tax increment for the next 30 years," Thompson said.

Rumors are that a tear down/rebuild would cost $300 million. No one has yet made the case of how this is beneficial to the taxpayers of Chicago and Illinois.

No one will.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Line 'Em Up

Lou Piniella decided think out loud down in Arizona yesterday with this mental exercise:

"I've been thinking about our lineup and what makes sense and what we can try," Piniella said after the Cubs finished working out on a cool, dreary day. "But let me warn: It's only Feb. 22 or 23, so there's plenty of time to adjust this thing.

"But I've been thinking of bunching up some speed at the top part of the lineup with Soriano, Theriot and Fukudome, and then move Derrek to the fourth spot, Ramirez to the fifth spot. We'd hit (Mark) DeRosa sixth, (Geovany) Soto seventh and our center fielder eighth. It's just food for thought."

This is actually a lineup that makes a lot of sense, especially if one viewed this:

1. Soriano
2. Theriot
3. Fukudome
4. Lee
5. Ramirez
6. DeRosa
7. Soto
8. CF
9. Pitcher

like this:

1. Theriot
2. Fukudome
3. Lee
4. Ramirez
5. DeRosa
6. Soto
7. CF
8. Pitcher
9. Soriano

After the first at bat of the game, that's how the lineup plays out. And that's pretty close to a lineup that's been suggested by many people. Well, they don't have Soriano ninth, but the smart ones don't have Soriano leading off, either.

What Lou has basically put together in his scenario is a very logical lineup that makes an exception for the mental weakness that is Alfonso Soriano's inability to hit effectively anywhere else in the lineup other than leadoff.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Random Jottings

Milo Hamilton made one of his bi-annual appearences in Fred Mitchell's column. It seems Milo has decided that 20 years is long enough to stop talking about how much he hated Harry Caray.

"That's behind me, and I settled that in my book. I felt it was something I had to say, but I haven't said anything about it since," Hamilton said Tuesday from Houston. "I've had too good of a career to let that all keep going. … I don't even think about it anymore."

Sure. Now that you've published it in a book for all time, why talk about it anymore?

Milo concludes his talk with Mitchell with a hilarious annecdote that is so telling of just how clueless Milo really is:

The revelation that former Astros pitcher Andy Pettitte admitted using HGH and that Roger Clemens has been accused of using the banned substance caught Hamilton by surprise.

"My first reaction is that I can't believe they did it—why in the world did they do it?" Hamilton said. "Pettitte would not have been a guy you would have thought would do it. And Clemens, if you know anything about his background with Nolan Ryan … Nolan was a workout-aholic. That's how his career lasted so long. Clemens grabbed onto everything that Nolan was doing. I have seen Clemens work out. It's unbelievable, the punishment that he put himself through all these years."

Wow. Clemens had an unbelievable work out regimine? How was he EVER able to handle it?
I'm more attractive than Sam FuldWGN willl be showing fewer and fewer games. Basically it's because Gossip Girl is far more profitable than the Cubs are to WGN. No wonder the Cubs are being sold. Blake Lively agrees.
Sam Fuld continues to challenge Felix Pie for the starting job in center field. Lou Piniella is certainly giving the guy some props:

"He's the type of kid who can catch your eye in one day," Piniella said. "But the more you watch him, the more you look at his particular skills, he impresses you. He's an athlete and has really good actions in the outfield, and then he plays a small man's game with the bat, which is what he should do -- hits the ball all over, puts it in play, keeps it on the ground."

What this sounds like is a prod at Felix. Clearly, Pie is the more talented player. But his problems last year with Lou appeared to mostly be off the field.

Perhaps Lou is telling Felix to keep his eye on the prize and not on the off field distractions or you will be back in Des Moines.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The New Mantra

"I was ready to swing at a strike. I didn't see too many of them. That's why I just watched." - Kosuke Fukudome

It seems that taking pitches is something a Chicago Cub has finally discovered. Too bad it took crossing the International Date Line to find someone who understands this.

They call it batting, not hitting, dude.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bad Metaphor

So, Hillary Clinton accuses Barack of plagiarism.

Clinton is a candidate that has already annexed Barack's "I'm Fired Up and Ready To Go!" line as we as riffed his "Yes We Can" line into "Yes We Will."

Shrillery is really trying to suggest that this is plagiarism?

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Oh... Was that insensitive?

It's Quiet -- Perfectly, Wonderfully Quiet

Spring Training in Mesa, Arizona is underway and there's basically no news coming out of camp.

Well, there is the story of Kosuke Fukudome and how the Cubs plan to make more money off of him (shockingly, this blog will skip this finance story). Also, it seems Matt Murton has been surfing the blogs trying to find out where he could be traded and how his Glenview-based kids will feel about that. And one supposes that the question of who will close for the Cubs is a story (the guess here is that, but July, it's not going to be someone currently in the organization).

But other than that, there's not much more than crickets.

How refreshing.

Since 2002, all there's been is managerial turmoil, President and GM turmoil, Kerry Wood and Mark Prior turmoil.... The list is seemingly endless.

Now, with Lou Piniella in command of the organization, there's nothing but peace. Wood relegated to an inconsequential reserve role, no Prior, no Michael Barrett, no Sammy Sosa, no Dusty Baker, no Andy MacPhail, no Jacque Jones.

All the questions are on the field.

The professional media is going to have to have a lot of puff pieces on player profiles to fill their column inches because the main story with this team is baseball.

Again, how refreshing.

Lou Piniella has made this organization professional. Not a bad gift for the 100th year anniversary of the high point for this franchise.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

If Clemens Had Any Guts

Clemens: You want answers?

Congressman: I think I'm entitled to them.

Clemens: You want answers?

You can't handle Photoshop!Congressman: I want the truth!

Clemens: You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has baseballs. And those balls have to be hit by men with bats. Who's gonna do it? You? You,Congressman? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for steroids and you curse HGH. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that HGH, while illegal, probably sells tickets. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, sells tickets...You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that mound. You need me on that mound. We use words like fastall, slider, splitfinger...we use these words as the backbone to a life spent playing a sport. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and falls asleep to the Sportscenter clips I provide,! then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a bat and dig in. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to!

Congressman: Did you order the HGH?

Clemens: (quietly) I did the job you sent me to do.

Congressman: Did you order the HGH?

Clemens: You're goddamn right I did!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Forced To Choose

Barry Rozner chat's up an intriguing idea:

If the Twins are still willing to deal closer Joe Nathan, as has been the talk since last July, the Cubs ought to be just as aggressive in pursuing the established short man as they are in their chase for Brian Roberts.

It'd be nice to have both, and the way the Cubs throw around money, why not?

Agreed. Having both would probably make the Cubs the favorite in the National League and have close to, if not the best bullpen in all of baseball. Bob Howry, Carlos Marmol and Nathan would be sick. And if Scott Eyre and Kerry Wood show up? Disgusting.

But having Brian Roberts would be a huge plus as well. As our cohort Andy Dolan wrote just yesterday, Roberts would be an improvement over Mark DeRosa and DeRosa would still have plenty of opportunities to play.

With Sam "FU" Zell having the potential to throw a few billion around, anything is possible. Right?

Not really.

Frankly, the Cubs probably just don't have enough stock in young talent to acquire both Nathan and Roberts. Roberts can likely be had for some combination of Matt Murton, Eric Patterson (if the Orioles are stupid enough to try another Patterson), Ronny Cedeno, Sean Marshall and Sean Gallagher. That's probably a fair price.

But to get Nathan? A king's ransom is more likely. Nathan is one of the top closers in all of baseball and a prime commodity. That's going to require the inclusion of Rich Hill. And, while this page carries no brief for Professor Poopy Pants, the Cubs cannot afford to lose Hill and one of the Seans this year. They just don't have enough depth in potential starters, Jon Lieber included, to make that deal.

Now, you want to try to expand the trade and get back a Carlos Silva another starter in addition to Nathan, now you're talking. But unless you want a Boof Bonser, the Twins probably don't have anyone to take back. The current Cubs just can't afford to give up a quality starter for a guy like Nathan no matter how good he is.

But do the Cubs have enough to trade for those two guys? If there's been areaa where Jim Hendry has failed consistently, it's been bullpen and leadoff. Roberts and Nathan solve both those problems. Unfortunately, Jim has also done a poor job at developing their minor leagues. And that means it's only possible to get one of them.

Nathan is the better get, but both are needed and either would be welcome.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


I've got plenty of time to test my sanity now.
Roy Scheider 1932-2008

In this case, the "C" stands for "Coffin."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Time To Make The Move

With Erik Bedard now a Seattle Mariner, it's time for Jim Hendry to poop or get off the pot.

Brian Roberts would be a marked improvement at the top of the order over Alfonso Soriano and a at second base over Mark DeRosa. He'd enable center field to be maned by Felix Pie's proficient defense and let Pie bat eighth where there would be minimal offensive pressure.

If Jim Hendry wants him, go get him. Now. Either that, or go to the press and say that you are not interested.

Don't let the Orioles dictate the process. You've got five days until pitchers get a chance to use Mark Prior's old towel for warm-ups. You are going to want to give Lou as complete of a roster as possible from day one. This would be a nice change from a year ago when the roster wasn't settled until August.

Get it done of get it over. Either one. Time's nearly up.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Some Lite Reader-ing

Via our old friends at The Cub Reporter, a story from the Chicago Reader on the scam taht is the sale of Wrigley Field.

A huge point that was not considered here was the issue of property taxes. Currently, the Tribune pays property tax on Wrigley Field. By selling the stadium and adjacent land to the state, over $1 million per year (increasing annually) could be saved in property taxes.

Why is this a big deal? Well, when the school down the street has a budget shortfall and taxes are increased, why should John Canning (who just made $1 billion today) or Mark Cuban not have to pay their fair share of the increase?

The more you read, the more the bile rises.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

You've heard and seen the idea that Sam Zell has floated to sell Wrigley Field to the state? Well, more than one potential buyer of the Cubs ain't interested.

"The Cubs and Wrigley Field are so intertwined. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts," says a member of one bidding group who requested anonymity because of Major League Baseball's sensitivity about the sale process. "Splitting them absolutely diminishes the value of the team and my interest level."
That lease arrangement is the rub, prospective bidders say. Would-be owners fear being saddled with decades of rent payments to compensate Tribune for a ballpark they'll never own. That would crimp cash flow that otherwise could be spent on signing All-Stars in pursuit of a long-elusive World Series championship, they say.

The second paragraph denotes a huge point against leasing for the owners. As the transaction would likely be structured as an operating lease, the new owners, at the end of the lease, would have nothing to show for all their payments.

The Trib has a tremendous operating advantage with Wrigley right now -- it's paid for. Sure, they have to pay maintenance (not a small penny) for the park, but there's no mortgage. There's no monthly cash flow requirement that is an obligation to pay.

Doing a state-backed sale-leaseback transaction would obligate the new owners to a payment in perpetuity for the use of the park. That's not-so-hot if you want to eventually use that cash to pay for a leadoff hitter / second baseman.

The more you learn about this, the more you realize that there is not a single positive reason to be in favor of the sale of Wrigley to the state.

Well, unless preservation of the park is more important than a quality 25-man roster, there isn't.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Wrigley and Wrigley Field - Not So Much

Crain's Chicago Business has posted a video discussing the naming rights for Wrigley Field, specifically if Wrigely Company would start to pay for naming rights.

The biggest news seems to be that William Wrigley, Jr. has very little interest in owning the Cubs or even the team itself. Polo over baseball? Not exactly the sport of the common man. I guess that's one fewer wish lister.

While Playboy isn't mentioned, keep your eye open for one Christie Heffner.

And what's with the monstrous snow flakes?

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