Thursday, November 27, 2008

Film Right Now

I was going to post 2008 Cobs playoff highlights, but "turkey" and "bomb" reminded me of this more.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ball Busting

Now this is a fun read. Much more interesting than PECOTA.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dempster Back For Obama's First Term

The Sun Times is reporting that the Cubs have retained the services of Ryan Dempster for four more years at a cost of $52 million.

Dempster, a 17-game winner and Game 1 playoff starter this year, has been the Cubs' top off-season priority. Indications are that general manager Jim Hendry might still seek another starting pitcher - possibly free agent Randy Johnson - despite additional pursuits of left-handed hitting.

Dempster, who made a successful conversion from the closer role in 2008, initially sought a five-year, $70 million deal, according to sources.

The Cubs' initial offer was believed to be four years for about $50 million. While it was widely reported a major sticking point was his desire for a fifth year, club insiders say the money was the bigger obstacle.

Jim Hendry, like he did with Derrek Lee a few years ago, did a good job nixing a fifth year.

A guy like Ryan Dempster is not a guy to take a long term bet on if you can help it. He only has one really good year since being injured and that year just happened to be the year his contract ended.

The issue with long term contracts really is not about the dollars. All long term contracts are going to be 8 figures per year. The issue is: How difficult is it to get out of the contract if you want/need to get rid of a guy? The answer to that is tied to the length of the contract and how backloaded it is.

The Alfonso Soriano contract is terrible not just because of the length, but because the dollars per year escallates. That makes dumping it on another team nearly impossible. A Derrek Lee contract is much more tradable because the burden on a new team / the amount the Cubs might have to eat in trading him is much lower.

Is the Ryan Dempster contract another ball-and-chain on the Cubs? Probably not.

That is, unless you wanted to see Jake Peavy here. The only way that happens now is if someone else takes all $10 million of Jason Marquis' contract. There's no way the Cubs can have a roster, much less a rotation consisting of Dempster ($13mm), Marquis ($10mm), Ted Lilly ($12mm), Carlos Zambrano ($17.75mm), Rich Harden ($7mm) and Jake Peavy ($11mm).

Speaking of Peavy, want to know why the Padres want to be rid of him?

2009 salary: $11 million
2010 salary: $15 million
2011 salary: $16 million
2012 salary: $17 million
2013 salary: $22 million or $4 million buyout.

Peavy only ends up a Cub if Marquis goes now and Harden does not return in 2010.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Smart, Very Smart.

You had me at "It's not tax cuts we need, it's spending cuts."

A Farewell To A Once Good Arm

Kerry Wood is an ex-Cub:

Hendry met this week with Wood and his agent, Pat Rooney, and told him the Cubs were going in a different direction.

"I think we all feel that Kerry is certainly deserving of a three- or four-year contract," Hendry said. "He’s done everything this organization has asked for the last 14 years, been a warrior the last couple of years. He's come back and health-wise stood the test of time, taken the ball every day we needed, and had no hang-ups, except for (missing one month with a blister injury).

"We’re just in a situation, as Kerry fully understands, that that length of deal, for the kind of salary he’d command right now, is not our first priority. We certainly have to finish our rotation, we have offensive situations to address, and by having the prominence that (Carlos) Marmol now brings to the table, it certainly doesn’t come before the other needs we have. We felt it was time Kerry goes out and does what’s best for him and his family, and gets a huge multi-year deal if possible."

This was not only an obvious and predictable move based on baseball economics, Cubs salary structure, Tribune economics, and the general economic situation, but it's also smart baseball.

Kerry Wood is a good pitcher. But he's not $35 million over 4 years good. Jim Hendry made the right call on several levels.

Thanks for the memories, Kerry. See ya'.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Ellipses

...Shysterball, a blog having nothing to do with Tony LaRussa, chimes in on the Cub sale:

I have no idea if Mark Cuban still even wants to buy the Cubs, but if he does, he is basically being told that he's going to have to sue to do it. Or, more to the point, he and Sam Zell are going to have to team up to do it. Given that the only court to ever consider the matter has ruled that the anti-trust exemption does not apply to the sale of teams, such a suit stands a good chance of success in my view.

Is it good business to launch a messy lawsuit that, even if successful, only gives you the right to pay a billion bucks for a low-liquidity asset in the middle of an economic downturn? Oh, hell no.

But it would be a load of fun for the rest of us, wouldn't it?

Yes, it would be a great deal of fun.

...and Jake Peavy to the Cubs seems to be a real possibility. Such a move might preclude the Cubs from signing Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood to long term contracts. The only downside to this trade is... what again?

...while leaving in such a trade would be Felix Pie and Ryan Theriot. Again, is there a downside to this? Other than Kosuke Fukudome moving to center? the Trib slides closer to bankruptcy, this means that the Cubs are likely going to see their budget trimmed. And, when you subtract the Cubs losing Washington Mutual as a in-stadium advertiser, revenues will be down sharply this year. Maybe we can do a fundraiser for the Tribune? Suggestions are welcome. Perhaps a "draw your favorite Cubs blogger" contest?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Cuban to Selig: "Ha!"

Despite being told he has "zero chance" of buying the Cubs, Mark Cuban knows that this is a game that won't be complete for many more moves:

"There's no reason to comment on anonymous comments from unsolicited sources. I mean it's ridiculous," Cuban said.

Cuban is in the running to purchase the team from the Tribune Co. after reportedly bidding more than $1 billion.

Others believed to be interested are a group headed by John Canning, chairman of private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners LLC; and the family of online brokerage Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts.

"Nothing’s changed," Cuban said. "I mean it's a great opportunity."

Just remember that Bud Selig, and Jerry Reinsdorf, want John Canning to buy the Cubs because Canning has no interest in winning at all costs. And any owner that does not bid up salaries keeps salaries low for everyone. And that means higher profits.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Almost As Good As Jewish Guilt

Friday, November 07, 2008

Playing Games

By now, nearly everyone has heard that Mark Cuban won't be buying the Cubs:

Global financial crisis or not, baseball's old guard plans to stand firm against letting Cuban into the club. "There's no way Bud and the owners are going to let that happen," a Major League Baseball source said this week. "Zero chance."

So, is this it for Cuban? Game over?

Not by a long shot.

This is just the latest salvo in the war between Sam Zell and Bud Selig (proxy for Jerry Reinsdorf and John Canning). The first shot was fired back when Tribune suits hosted Cuban in their box seats at Wrigley. The message then was, "We'll sell to who we want to."

Today's news is simply a response of, "Oh, no you won't!"

Where does this end up? Where it always ended up, with the Cubs going to the highest bidder. If that's Cuban, so long as he's the highest bidder by a significant amount, then he's still going to get the team. Sam Zell has debt to pay off. He cannot allow Bud Selig to cause the Trib to default on bonds because Selig and Reinsdorf don't like Cuban.

Perhaps this is why the Cubs are now saying they may only sell 50% of the team.

Tribune is selling assets to help pay down debt, which stood at $12.5 billion at the end of the second quarter. Declines in readership and advertising dollars at such newspapers as the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times have added to the pressure on the company to secure funds to avoid default.

They need cash.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Family Outing and The Soap Box

Two adults were led by three red headed kids into the fieldhouse at the local park. Inside they ran into a few friends as the one of the adults was handed two ballots, one the size of a sheet of legal paper and the other the size of a bath towel (retention judges). The other waited for a touch screen.

The whole process took about 20 minutes. It would have taken 19, but the Nine Year Old lobbied his dad against the Illinois Constitutional Amendment referrendum. The ballots were submitted as #127 in the precinct at 7:45 AM. Now armed with "I VOTED" stickers, the parents parted ways. One headed across the park with the kids to school, the other to work.


Once again, there is something apalling about our voting process. That people have to stand in line and cast ballots on paper during work hours is so 19th century. Once again, Ivy Chat proposes it's Federal Election Modernization Program:

1) All voting should be electronic. Billions of dollars in credit card transactions are handled daily from nearly any point on the planet. How hard could it be to walk into any designated polling place in the US, swipe your drivers license, and have your ballot pop up on a screen? A business man from Seattle could vote while travelling in Denver. A woman from Charlotte visiting a sick parent in Atlanta could vote. As to fraud, if Visa and Mastercard can handle all their transactions with an acceptable level of fraud risk, so could the voting system.

2) All polls should open and close nationwide at the same time. Yes, the news organizations would hate this, but it would prevent some voters from skipping voting in national races because they hear that their candidate has already lost. This would further benefit participation on down-ballot races.

3) Voting should last for 24 hours. 6 AM to 7 PM voting imposes a penalty on people working third shift jobs with dependents. Polling places should allow everyone an equal opportunity to vote.

4) Election Day should be a National Holiday. Why not move Veteran's Day to the first Tuesday after the first day of November? How better to honor the people who served than by using the very freedoms they secured to demonstrate just that freedom?

Turnout does not look to be a problem this year. Isn't it time that our government does what it can to keep participation that way?

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