Tuesday, November 30, 2004

No More Closers

Looks like Armando Benitez will be signing with the San Fransico Giants.

The San Francisco Giants have reached a tentative agreement with closer Armando Benitez on a three-year contract worth $21 million, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

I am not in agreement with The Cub Reporter and some of the comments that it is a bad deal. What do you expect a guy coming off a 1.29 ERA season to get? Less than 5 million per year? If you do your crazy.

This is just another lesson in Cubs economics. Every star player is not worth the money to the Cubs or for that matter fans. "We want Percival, but $6 million is not worth it. " "I would like Benitez but not for $7 million." "I want Beltran, but he isnt worth $15 million per season." "I want Nomar back but he isnt worth $9-10 million." "I would love to get Renteria but I wont pay him more than $7 million a season."

Guess what? Other teams are more than willing to pay those prices. If the Cubs are unwilling to pay then they will end up with nothing. Cubs fans want all this talent but they don't want to pay them what they are worth and then they turn around and ask why they were shut out again on the free agent market.

We can sit and chuckle at San Fran or Detroit for signing these guys but it doesn't improve our chances to win. It may be fun to ridicule those franchises for their moves but they dont have to worry about who will be the closer next year. Who is it with the Cubs? Borowski? Hawkins? Farnsworth? Your guess is as good as mine. Either way Percival or Benitez would of helped the Cubs. Now we get neither. Now we don't improve the team. And that is all that happened with those two closers going off the market. Those teams improved, the Cubs so far have not.

Don't expect a trade for a closer either, it just will not happen.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Good or Bad

View from the Bleachers has a post about good off season signs. I kind of take one quote as a bad sign.

"I still love to play. I feel like I can play every day and hit over 30 homers and 100 RBI, so I'd like to sign a two or three-year deal with someone," said Alou, whose father, Felipe, is manager of the San Francisco Giants. "I wanted to return to Chicago, but there's a bunch of other places I'd like to go. I want to finish my career on a high."
The good sign: Not even Moises thinks he'll be a Cub next year.

To me that is Alou saying the Cubs are headed in the wrong direction of trying to deliver a World Series to Chicago. Other people will read it another way and that is fine. But if Alou thought the Cubs were a step away from being a World Series caliber team he would not say what he did.

Random Thought: I was reading about Daisuke Matsuzaka and at the end of the article they mentioned some possible Japanese free agents. Now I am a big supporter of the Cubs atleast attempting to tap the Japanese market but for some strange reason the Cubs over-seas scouting is stuck in South Korea. So why not take a flyer on this guy?

Tadahito Iguchi (Daiei Hawks): A second baseman with tremendous speed. He stole 42 bases in 2003 and it was his second stolen base title. His fielding would also be above average. However, he has been playing on artificial turf. He could struggle on natural grass, just like Kaz Matsui did wth the Mets.

He has some power, but he will mainly be the type of player who hits between the gaps. He cares about on-base percentage (his OBP for 2003 season was .438) more than hits and home runs, so he could transfer from the middle of the lineup to the leadoff spot.

His career batting average is .271 with 149 home runs and 507 RBI. He's played for the Daiei Hawks for eight seasons.

Or if he costs too much how about...

Toshihisa Nishi (Yomiuri Giants): A second baseman with great range, and a four-time golden glove winner. Although he had a career high 28 home runs this season, he is recognized as one of the smartest leadoff hitters in Japan. He played in the Japan-U.S. All-Star exhibition games, but he batted just .118 (2-for-17).

He said before the series, "I would like to show my ability at this series." But he also said, "If no major teams offer more than $1 million, I will stay here, in Japan." It is hard to guess how many teams could make an offer of more than $1 million for Nishi, who is 33 years old, and a career .274 hitter. However, if a team signs Nishi for $1 million, he could be a bargain deal.

His career average is .274 with 121 home runs and 389 RBI. He's played for the Yomiuri Giants for nine seasons.

They would both be a better pickup than Neifi Perez. Especially Nishi who is probably looking for something around $1.0-1.5 million. For the penny pinching Cubs you think they would be tripping over themselves to get a possible 2nd. I pleaded with the Cubs to get Hideki Matsui and Kaz Matsui, so I highly doubt they would even look at these lower profile guys as answers. Much better to go with Neifi and Macias atleast you know what to expect.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Please No!

Just one simple sentence of dread in the opening of Ken Rosenthals latest article...

The Cubs are getting closer on a deal with free-agent second baseman Tony Womack, a move that would deprive the Cardinals of not only their second baseman, but also their leadoff hitter.

I am sure the Cardinals will be all broken up inside in not getting Tony Womack back. If the Cubs are getting closer on a deal with Womack then we could hear this deal annouced as early as tomorrow. And when that is announced Cubs fans can kiss the 2005 season off, and begin the ball rolling for Dusty Baker, Jim Hendry, and Andy McPhail to all be fired. Because if that goes down instead if signing Walker they don't deserve to have a job anymore.

Atleast the Cardinals are smart. They got more than they ever expected out of Womack and are happy as hell to not tempt fate and bring him back. I really wish the Cubs would learn that lesson. But it appears heading into the 2005 season, the Cubs have learned nothing from the past.

But hey just when you thought things can't get any worse...

Four teams remain interested in acquiring Rockies catcher Charles Johnson — the A's, Devil Rays, Cubs and Brewers. The Rockies would pick up most of Johnson's $9 million salary for next season, but only if they received a quality young player in return. ...

Ohh Yeah, Charles Johnson! Now there is a winner! He has only hit .230 while playing with Colorado. I can't imagine why the Cubs would even be interested in garbage like that.

No Kolb For You!

Good to hear Milwaukee telling the Cubs we are not interested in trading Kolb. The whole premise that Milwaukee could not afford Kolb hence why the Cubs should trade for him was ridiculous. The man is only making $1.5 million and might make $2-3 million next year. The Brewers can easily afford it. It was fantasy the day the rumor started and laughable when the Cubs approached Milwaukee about it...

The Chicago Cubs, among others, have asked about the availability of closer Dan Kolb, a Boras client who is arbitration-eligible.

"His contract is manageable," said Melvin, who paid Kolb $1.5 million last season. (The "Cubs) asked about him but I said I don’t have to move him."

"The only trade you’d do is if it helped your ballclub. He’s still part of what we’re trying to do. Unless I get bowled over, I’m not motivated to move him."

If the Cubs seriously want Kolb they better be willing to overpay by throwing in Guzman, and Brownlie. And I don't think the Cubs are that dumb.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Be Warned: Rusch Signed

I am not happy about Glendon Rusch being sign for around $2 million a season. Far too much money being handed to him for being decent for a half season as a starter.

This is what I hate about Cubs fans and the Cubs franchise. The Cubs bring in lousy players like Rusch. Then get lucky that he does something good for a small amount of time and totally disregard his past. To reward him the franchise turns around and lobs a ton of money at him.

Don't come crying to me when Rusch is sporting a 5.00+ ERA and giving up hits by the bucket loads. This very rarely works out. The Cubs should be happy with what they got out of him and send him on his merry way. Whatever magic Rusch used in 2004, wont be around in 2005 and beyond.

Add Todd Hollandsworth into that as well. A few games of big hits and people are ready to hand him a starting job. Get attached to lousy players, expect to be let down. Look at the Cubs history over the last 10 years of signing questionable talent who had a good part of a season. How often did that player remain productive? How many times did the Cubs have to suffer watching that player stink up the joint?

Friday, November 19, 2004

The Brawl

The big news in sports is the Pacers/Pistons game brawl involving the fans. One of the ugliest incidents in sports history.

Long story short: Ron Artest fouled Ben Wallace hard. Wallace took exception and shoved Artest and both benches cleared. While things were starting to calm down a fan hit Artest (who was lying down on the scorer's table) square with a beer. Artest, predictably, went bananas and jumped into the stands and all hell broke loose. Artest was swinging, Stephen Jackson ran in to help him and was throwing with a fan.

As people were pulling Artest away, a fan started punching Ron from behind, which led to more madness. As they pulled Artest and the rest of the Pacers into the locker room, fans were blasting all of the players with sodas, beers and whatever else they could find to throw. A folding chair was even launched into the melee.

The incident was calming down but the fans would not let it go. I think Artest had every right to go after that fan for his stupid actions, just like Todd Hundley went into the crowd after someone stole his hat. The respect issue runs both ways. Treat people the way you want to be treated. If throwing beer on someone gets you your kicks, expect a violent reaction.

At one point Artest had his arms restrained by some people in the crowd and if not for Stephen Jackson, Artest would of been a sitting duck. More Pacers players tried to come in to help but were greated with cheap shots to the back of the head by some of the Pistons fans. I give alot of props to the Pacers players, they were going toe-to-toe against a hostile crowd while the best shots the fans could get in was when the Pacers players had their backs to them. You Piston fans are real brave.

Finally they get Artest out of the crowd and some fat dumbass wants to challenge Artest to a fight on the court! Artest greeted him with his fist, and they both fell down. Some other people seperated the two and Jermaine O'Neal made sure that fan would never step foot on a court to challenge an NBA player again. He nailed the fan square to the jaw with a right fist dropping him like it was a boxing match.

If you ever watch Maximum Exposure on WGN, they could fill a whole hour show with all the drama that went on. The fans crossed the line, and sports commentators and experts are correctly defending Artest for his actions. There is only so much a man can take. I don't like Artest's attitude, but I agree with his decision in this case. Artest didn't escalate the situation when he went after the guy who threw the beer on him. It was escalated the moment that fan decided to throw the beer on Artest.

Just an amazing and ugly night in Detroit.

Various Quotes

The Cubs appear to be in no hurry to sign either Cabrera or Renteria. They're still expressing interest in re-signing incumbent Nomar Garciaparra.
-- Daily Herald

Cabrera and Renteria are being targeted in Boston in case one or the other falls through. The Cubs better hope they get Garciaparra signed or else they may end up with nothing. The Cubs should be having negotiations with Renteria and Cabrera, to let Nomar know other options do exist. This is just a bad free agent tactic if this is what the Cubs are doing.

The Devil Rays continue to pursue their offseason goals of acquiring two starting pitchers and at least one proven run producer. Among the starters being considered are right-handers Esteban Loaiza (Yankees) and Jaret Wright (Braves) and left-hander Shawn Estes (Rockies). Among the position players on the Rays' radar are third baseman Tony Batista (Montreal/Washington), second baseman Todd Walker (Cubs), outfielder Jeromy Burnitz (Rockies) and infielder/outfielder Danny Bautista (Diamondbacks).
-- Tampa Tribune

I told you I have that funny feeling Walker will not be back with the Cubs. Tony Womack rumors are floating around, Cubs have shown no interest in retaining Walker, Tampa is interested in Walker, those are not good signs.

If you take a look at all the negotiations going on, Boston is talking to alot of free agents. So are the Yankees. Yet virtually no news on the Cubs front about any high profile free agents. Same thing happened the last two years as well.

Goodies Galore

All sorts of interesting little bits in Jayson Stark's Rumblings and Grumblings.

An executive of one team said that after examining the medical reports on Percival's shoulder, "we were scared to death."

Two other teams said they weren't prepared to offer more than one year, with an option -- not because Percival can't still be effective, but because he has to be used so carefully.

Already stated those concerns myself. Though if you read some of the posters on the Cub Reporter they would rather have Percival over Benitez. Kind of glad Percival never got that meeting.

True, Percival had a 1.67 ERA after the All-Star break, and opponents hit just .230 against him. But "he hasn't pitched more than 50 innings in two years," said one assistant GM. "He can't pitch three days in a row. And he's a good bet to go on the DL."

Beyond that, he wasn't that much better, with the game on the line, than last year's Detroit closer, Ugueth Urbina, whose ERA in his 21 saves last year was 0.89.

The Cubs are unlikely to deal for Urbina. They didn't want him when he was a free agent and never traded for him last season. I think Detroit would be wise to hold onto Urbina for the, "in case **** happens" bug hits Percival.

Moving on down the list, some teams have expressed interest in Corey Patterson. The Cubs however are not biting.

One center fielder who won't hit the market, even if the Cubs sign Carlos Beltran, is Corey Patterson. The Cubs would only be able to sign Beltran if they move Sammy Sosa. But even if they do both, they have no plans to shop Patterson, according to teams that have asked about him.

"Too much invested in him, in more way than one," said one NL front-office man, of Patterson.

I still think Patterson will continue to improve. Other people will disagree and say if teams are interested in Patterson, TRADE HIM! I would be interested in seeing what teams would be willing to give up in exchange for Patterson. The mere fact that teams are asking about him, comforts me a little. I would be a little worried if no one was asking about him.

RANT: Is anyone getting fed up with ESPN.com and all their pop up ads, audio banners, and extended advertisements you have to click on to minimize? My DSL goes nuts every time it visits ESPN.com trying to download all that crap. I have been going to Foxsports.com more for sports news and easier access.

Experimentation: I have been going around looking at different blogger services. One that perked my interest was Modblog.com. I have been experimenting with it the last couple days and it is a hell of a lot more complicated than blogger.com is. But I like some of their template designs. If I figure out how most of the crap works I might move there.

I don't like that it has basic post entry controls. No spell checker, no integrated html linking to make things go fast. You have to type out the HTML to put links in your posts. Yuck! Maybe there Version 1.0 will add those features, which looks like it will be coming out soon.

If you want to take a look and explore for yourself the site I am messing around with is Cubspundit.modblog.com.

Into the Void

View from the Bleachers mirrors some of the concerns I have about this free agency period.

Referring to positions needed filling thru free agency...
What's scariest is that, apart from a little bit of a risk at 5th starter, they have NOTHING in the system to fill these positions...

I like Hendry, but it appears that he has painted himself into a corner this year. He's GOT to fill these needs through free agency; he has no other choice. He has left himself with very little leverage, and I would expect some questionable signings.

This is what I was alluding to when I ranted on how I would not be happy with a Floyd, Green outfield in exchange for Sosa. This is like the 2nd or 3rd straight year this lineup has been massively overhauled. If your having to find replacements for half your lineup each year you will never build a consistent offense. Then on top of that if anyone fails in the starting lineup we don't have the prospects to plug in to try and correct the situation.

Percival, Vizquel, and Guzman have been signed to some pretty high amounts for mid-level talent. If the Cubs are going to knock themselves out of the running for players as soon as the price goes to high then they could very well end up with nothing. Right now I am happy that we didn't sign those guys to those expensive contracts. But if we miss out on Renteria, Garciaparra, Benitez or one of the top 3 OFers in free agency those mid-level options that the Cubs passed on will look like major blunders.

2005 could very well end up being a disaster if the Cubs have to settle with the scraps of the free agent market. Becuase I have not heard the Cubs express any interest in bringing in Ordonez, Drew, or Beltran to talk about a contract.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Three Way Action

This is probably more a Barry Rozner fantasy than actually reality But hey he is entitled to it.

• The Cubs trade Sosa to the Mets.

• The Mets send Mike Piazza to the Dodgers and Cliff Floyd to the Cubs.

• The Dodgers move Shawn Green to the Cubs.

And all but wraps up the Cubs free agency period, because now they dont need to go after Ordonez, Beltran, or Drew if that deal went down.

Rozner goes through the math of the deals and comes out with this....

• The Cubs spend $5.5 million more in 2005 than they would have before the deal, but they rid themselves of Sosa and fill two outfield spots in the process. Overall, it costs them only $4 million extra over two years.

If that's where it ended, it would look good for the Cubs. They get a solid "baseball player" in the Des Plaines-born Green and a potentially lethal threat in the Chicago-born Floyd - if he can somehow stay healthy.

So we spend an extra $5.5 million so we can have an outfield of Green, Floyd and Patterson. I am completly underwhelmed by that deal and I am trying to find something bad to say. But I can't ignore that they are decent hitters with around .270-.280 averages and a .350 OBP. Both are also left handed which is what this lineup needs. Its not fancy like landing a Drew, Beltran or Ordonez either. The main thing running through my head is that in 1-2 years these guys will not be Chicago Cubs. Meanwhile the team that signs Drew, Ordonez, or Beltran will be enjoying the success of those players for an extened period of time.

Much like our teams failure to seriously go after Rolen or Thome. The players that were in the way of aquiring that talent are no longer with the Cubs while Rolen and Thome are enjoying monster seasons with their current teams. I think the Cubs should just pony up the cash and bring in players who will be with this team longer than 1-2 years. I think a deal like that would just give Hendry an excuse not to pursue a long term replacement in the OF. It would be a classic Cubs delay tactic. Keep bringing in semi-useful but barely average talent and keep pumping the myth that the Cubs are this giant player on the free agent market and they are going after all the big names. Thome, Rolen, Pudge, Tejada, Vlad, and Foulke have danced through Cubs fans dreams over the years. Will three more names be added to that list?

Show Me The Money

It appears the Cubs did exactly what I thought they would do.

Talk about being surprised. The Indians, scheduled for a visit on Thursday, and the Cubs, scheduled for a Wrigley Field date on Friday, were left in the cold without making official contract offers, or even buying dinner at Harry Caray's.

Were the Cubs upset? Probably more disappointed than angry. General manager Jim Hendry had no comment, but sources say neither the Cubs nor Indians would have offered Percival more than a one-year deal, perhaps with an option, given his age (35) and history of elbow tenderness.

Its is a perfectly reasonable approach the Indians and Cubs took due to his age and health. With the Cubs or Indians unwilling to give atleast 2 years I can see why Percival didn't waste his time. But if Percival is the only closer on the market you would consider signing then it is a major blunder to not even consider giving him what he wants if you want to improve the bullpen. Again money gets in the way of winning in this case. Not signing Percival is only good if the Cubs get Benitez.

However, in classic Cub fashion other options pop up.

Shortly after hearing the news on Percival, who was scheduled to meet Friday with the Cubs, Hendry got an unexpected overture from free agent Matt Mantei, who made a sales pitch for a one-year deal.

That's just perfect. Mantei was once a gifted pitcher. He even had a cool nickname, "The Iceman." Those days are long gone. Injuries have taken it's toll on him physically and mentally. In other words he is the Cubs perfect candidate for closer. Another chance to try the lightning in the bottle trick.

All hope isn't lost, Cubs may have some interest in Benitez...

The Cubs have interest in free-agent closer Armando Benitez only if he lowers his price. They haven't seriously investigated yet but hear Benitez is asking for $6 million to $7 million annually for three years.

The Cubs would be interested in a one- to two-year commitment.

I am sure there are a couple teams that will give Benitez atleast a 3 year deal. If the Cubs are going to play the same game with him as they did with Percival, they will not sign him either and Matt Mantei will be our closer.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Deja Vu

Troy Percivals signing with the Tigers mirrors what happened with Pudge Rodriguez. Chicagosports.com had this article.

Percival, who has saved more than 30 games in each of the last seven seasons for Anaheim, will visit Wrigley Field to meet with Cubs management, then return to California to make a choice by Thanksgiving weekend.

Less than 24hrs later Percival is signing with the Tigers before even sitting down with the Cubs.

Free agent Troy Percival and Detroit agreed Wednesday on a $12 million, two-year contract, giving the Tigers two closers for their bullpen.

Percival was scheduled to meet with Cubs management later this week.

All that tells me is that the Cubs were never serious about signing Percival and Percival got that message loud and clear. I am sure an initial low ball offer was sent out to Percivals agent like the Cubs did with Pudge. And like Pudge it would be a waste of his time to meet with the Cubs to discuss anything serious. The Cubs were probably hoping on getting Percival on the cheap due to his age and injury risk.

Is that alot of reading between the lines? Sure. Am I glad we didn't get Percival? Sure. I would like to see the Cubs get high profile free agents into the building to atleast discuss the possibility of coming to the team before totally rejecting us and signing with another team. I understand the Cubs are extremly poor when it comes to signing free agents, but atleast get one meeting with them. Percival also was supposedly high on the Cubs wish list and they let him go without a fight. That does not look very good if they want to have a shot at Beltran, Drew, or Ordonez where the Cubs interest has been luke warm at best.

Benitez is the only reliable closer left on the market and the Cubs have concerns about his psyche. Which I dont think exist. The man pitched in NY and put up some good numbers. And if the Cubs don't sign Benitez the bullpen is in deep trouble. If Hendry thinks Ryan Dempster is the answer, maybe he needs to resign now. All we can do now is watch and see if Detroit will remain a bigger player in the free agent market than the Cubs.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


I was reading through Foxsports.com hot stove updates for the Cubs and came across this...

Despite posturing to the contrary, trade talks involving Sammy Sosa are ongoing. The Cubs have discussed a Sosa-for-Joey Gathright deal with the D-Rays. The A's have also expressed interest, and there's still the Mets.

Who is Joey Gathright?

Drafted by the Rays in the 2001 draft (32nd round) and signed in August after playing that summer in a Louisiana Sugar Cane League in Sorrento, Louisiana.

Runs a 34 in the 60-yard dash.

Gathright played in three different stretches for the Rays. The speedster from Mississippi hit .250 and stole six bases in seven attempts. But he struggled a bit in the field and showed that he needed more experience learning how to get on base regularly. He is expected to compete for a job as the Rays' fourth outfielder in 2005.

32nd round doesn't sound to good but I went and looked at his minor league stats. He has not hit below .324 since A ball, very impressive.

The more that I look at Gathright the more I like. He is a lefthanded batter, who has hit at every level in the minors and gifted with Corey Patterson speed. Though he has shown a better eye by striking out less. He will not be an RBI or HR threat, but he could be the leadoff man this team is looking for.

His negatives are that he is only 22, and has virtually no MLB experience. With an impatient Dusty Baker towards rookies, the first sign of struggle and Jose Macias will be your everyday replacement. I don't think the Cubs would be serious about a Gathright-Sosa type deal because they would much rather get the expensive veterans because they know what to expect out of him, even if he has no value to the present lineup. Sosa for Cliff Floyd solves none of the offensive problems of this team. A Gathright-Sosa type deal has the ability to solve RF, lead-off, and free up money for 1-2 potential big time free agents.

Other factors are involved...would Sosa waive his no-trade clause to Tampa? I doubt it. Would Tampa be willing to take on most of that contract? I doubt it. Would other players be involved from Tampa? Probably. The name I have heard thrown around is Aubrey Huff. Who would fit in nicely in LF, RF, and be an emergency back up 3rd baseman, but not because of his fielding. I would ship Kyle Farnsworth and Patterson off as well in order to open up another OF spot for far shots such as Beltran, Magglio Ordonez or J.D. Drew.

A deal like that could change the whole face of the lineup, and this is pure fantasy on my part but something I would not mind seeing at all...

Gathright - RF - LH
Walker - 2nd - LH
Beltran - CF - SW
Ramirez - 3rd RH
Huff - LF - LH
Lee - 1b - RH
Barrett - C - RH
Perez - SW

The lineup would be more balanced with left handed hitters who don't strike out a ton and is about the only lineup that I would not mind Neifi Perez playing 162 games in. You can run down various combos of the lineup with Ordonez and Drew as well, but Beltran is the one we want the most. The chances of this becoming reality are about 1%, but it is nice to look at what could happen if certain things are set in motion.

Sunday, November 14, 2004


I have some time on my hands and decided to do some link maintenance.

Added A Cub Fan Rants. I like how he has incorporated images into his posts. His writing and site design are very clean. Time will tell how long he will be around, but go ahead and give him a read.

Updated link for View from the Bleachers. Changed name of 94 years and Counting to 96 Years and Counting. You will have to check out his site to see why.

And the blogs that just never stuck around, Cubbie Hole and Bad Century, head towards the blog graveyard. May they rest in peace.

Final thought...I apologize to people coming to this site looking for exclusive Cubs content. I understand baseball is escapism from the blabbering of politicians who are pandering and you don't want to come to a baseball site to read that. I don't write for profit or expect anything in return. I just write about stuff that gets my attention, and during the election cycle that is what concerned me. If you want Cubs baseball 24/7 then your mecca is The Cub Reporter. Now that the election garbage is over with my priority returns to baseball with much less comment on those issues. Thought it doesn't mean I will stay 100% baseball all the time.

The Cubs are my passion, always have been and always will be. Sometimes other things are just more important. Thats life and this is my blog. So now can we all donate a dollar to the Tribune Company so they can maintain their profit margin and us fans can get Beltran?

Vizquel signed

No not by the Cubs, but by the Giants for 3 years $12.25 million.

Vizquel was supposedly high on the Cubs radar, his signing means one less option on the market and forces the Cubs to look at Renteria or Nomar for a serious option at SS. Aurilla and Guzman are still out there but neither are productive enough to be considered starters.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Trade Talk Heats Up

The Cubs and Mets met for a second time over the GM meetings to discuss a possible Sosa trade.

The fact that the teams met again demonstrates an increased level of seriousness, because the first confab between teams here at the general managers' meetings usually involves tossing out trial balloons. The second meeting indicates a player match and a mutual willingness to pursue a deal.

Again the talks are supposedly centered around Cliff Floyd. The only way I would be happy with Sosa for Floyd trade is if this player was involved...

As for Soriano, the Mets are hoping they can acquire him without giving up Jose Reyes. The hope is that Texas would be willing to take Floyd in a rehash of a trade first discussed last July before the trade deadline.

But the Mets would still be willing to consider trading Reyes, picking up Soriano to play right field, and then signing free agent Orlando Cabrera, who is a favorite of Minaya's. However, Texas is also interested in Cabrera because it wants to move Michael Young back to second base, sign Cabrera and let Soriano go.

I doubt the Mets will even consider trading Reyes. He is 21 and raw but has speed to burn. If the Cubs were to get him I could forgive them for not going after a Renteria or Garciaparra. But hey if some of you are upset that Sosa has been injured to much the last couple of years you wont be happy with Cliff Floyd. Every single season the man misses a month or more for various injuries. Only 3 out of 12 seasons has he even come remotely close to playing 162 games. Floyd is an extremly old 31 year old player.

And I wish I would see the Cubs expressing interest in the free agent class beyond Nomar.

Another outfield possibility is Magglio Ordonez, who is represented by Boras. Minaya and Duquette met with Boras yesterday and discussed Ordonez, Carlos Beltran, J.D. Drew, Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe. The Mets came away with three books compiled by Boras on his players, and are expecting one more.

Thats nice, I havent seen the Cubs express interest in a free agent in 2-3 years. I tell ya Beltran, Ordonez, Drew are so far off the Cubs radar its not even funny.


I was reading Phil Rogers column and he had this at the end...

Among the free agents who are believed to interest the Cubs:

Troy Percival: The 35-year-old right-hander saved 313 games over the last nine years with Anaheim, including 33 this year, but the Angels are turning his spot over to Francisco Rodriguez. He is the only proven closer on the market known to interest Hendry. Armando Benitez is viewed as too emotionally fragile to handle Wrigley Field fans and expectations.

I think that is just an excuse to say, "We would much rather have a broken down closer on the DL for half the season than dish out the required money to bring in a healthy, younger, and more expensive closer."

Tony Womack: Briefly a member of the Cubs in 2003, he was a valuable player for St. Louis and is under consideration as a replacement for the tandem of Todd Walker and Mark Grudzielanek. Hendry also is exploring the re-signing of Walker but seems prepared to go elsewhere if Walker takes long to explore his options.

And that is it for the free agents, lol. I said awhile back that I have this funny feeling Walker will not return to the Cubs next season. But please god don't make that funny feeling turn into Tony Womack. It would be a major blunder if this team signed Womack and expected what he did in St. Louis. Even if Womack repeated what he did in St. Louis it still would be a stupid move. Compare what Walker did in half the AB's at the leadoff spot to what Womack did in a full season and it becomes a joke.

The entire front office and Baker deserve to be fired if Womack is signed. Because that sends the message that the Cubs still are not interested in seeking out the best available players on the market, but more interested in signing the cheap gambles and extending their profit margin. On top of that it means the Cubs have no ability to judge good talent and bad talent.

Friday, November 12, 2004

My Free Agent List

I was in the middle of this post yesterday and my MSN crashed so I lost all of my work. I have a little free time on campus so I will try it again.

I can't really name off the big time free agents that I would want to be a Cub this off-season because we will be lucky to get one out of the crop that is available. And besides those players have been speculated to death already. So I will name off some role players and lesser names to fill out the roster.

Orlando Palmerio - OF - I wanted him last year and I want him this year. He is a veteran which is a bonus for Baker. His obvious draw backs are his .356 career OBP and .277 batting average as a part time player. His other significant downside is that he is a contact hitter who doesn't strike out a lot.

Scott Williamson - RP - I am not too sure about his health at this time but he is only 28 and could become a bargain as a closer. He has a lot of movement on his pitches and can be unhitable at times. He does walk his share of batters however.

Todd Pratt - C - Paul Bako is a black hole offensively. Pratt is another wiley veteran who again suffers from the disease of getting on base. A career .352 OBP. He would be a much better option as the back up catcher than Bako.


Jon Lieber - SP - If the Cubs are looking for a cheap SP to replace Matt Clement they could bring back Jon Lieber. Don't be fooled by his 14-8 record with the Yankees. Opponents were hitting .300 for the year off of Lieber. But then again Lieber never really held opponents to low batting averages anyways because he had a .274 OBAA for his career. This is offset by the fact Lieber doesn't walk anyone. If Kerry Wood was allowing hitters that kind of average his ERA would be above 6.00 for the year.

Craig Counsell - INF - The wheels could be falling off this guy. He is 34 and his batting stance is the wierdest thing I have ever seen, but some how makes it work. Well not in the last couple of years atleast. He plays pretty good defense at any position he plays, which means he is a jack of all trades but a better option than Macias or Harris. Since Dusty needs this type of player Counsell is the best available option on the market. Even if Counsell comes in and hits .230-.240 like his previous 2 seasons he will still have an OBP 30-40 points higher than the previous jokers who filled this role on the team. The one area I am concerned with was that last season Counsell's strike out rate went way up, he will still take the occasional walk however which puts him leaps and bounds above Macias.

Lieber and Williamson should be the most expensive options around the 2-3 million dollar range if that. All the other players should fit comfortably under the $1 million dollar price range. So worst case scenario would be the Cubs spending about $7-8 million on these 5 players.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

No Tears

Today is veterans day, most people probably don't know that because the media is gushing over Yasser Arrafats death. That man deserves not one moment of mourning in his sad existence. He is a terrorist nothing more. He is in fact the father of modern terrorism. Plane hi-jackings, passenger ship hi-jackings, killing of Isreali athletes at the Olympics, suicide bombers and machine gunners targeting children and people on the way home from work, are but a small glimpse of what Arrafat did with his life.

But what really got my ire was that in Iowa and Nebraska the television stations chose not to air Saving Private Ryan because of the backlash over the Janet Jackson nipple incident.

Or so they say. To some how put Janet Jackon's super bowl stunt on par with Saving Private Ryan is nothing more than a cop out.

"We're just coming off an election where moral issues were cited as a reason by people voting one way or another and, in my opinion, the commissioners are fearful of the new Congress," Cole (president of Citadel Communications) said.

What makes the whole thing a joke is that the movie ran the 2 previous years on the network with no problems. But apparently by those last comments patriotism, self sacrifice, and clarity of vision are now bad. In other words, you silly people who voted for Bush can't have your patriotic movie that celebrates the sacrifice of our veterans on veterans day even though it ran the previous years with zero problems. Instead you get Andy Griffith, ENJOY!

If any are looking for detailed analysis of the Fallujaha Battle go to Belmont Club. Today is the day to remember what they are fighting for.

AL Manager of the Year

The manager who should of been the one to take over the Chicago Cubs, Buck Showalter, won AL manager of the year for getting a bad Texas squad to win 89 games. How bad was it?

Coming off four straight last-place finishes in the AL West, Texas cut its payroll in half and wasn't predicted to do well. But the Rangers rebounded and remained in contention until the final week of the season.

Knowing Showalters track record he will have Texas in the playoffs next year and a World Series in 2 years. The question is will he finally get to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

I Am Just To Busy

You cant make this stuff up.

Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest said Wednesday that he asked coach Rick Carlisle for time off because of a busy schedule that included promoting a soon-to-be released rap album, which led to his two-game benching.

I guess being a pro-athlete and making millions isn't good enough anymore.

Artest said that he asked Carlisle for as much as a month off to heal his aching body and recover from a particularly busy schedule.

A month? Are you kidding me? I am a little sore, I got a rap album coming out, come on coach it is only the regular season. Unbelievable.

Instant Replay?

Instant Replay is on the agenda at the GM meetings.

Now, after a pennant race and postseason dotted with reversed rulings, baseball will get another chance to see who else wants to give replay a look.

I think it is a bad idea. Umpires add character to the game of baseball. 99% of the time umpires do an outstanding job of calling the game correctly. What is next, letting Qwest Tech replace the umpire behind the plate to get a consistent strike zone? That is part of the fun with baseball because it is a judgement call by the umpire. Instant replay works fine for football will bodies flying all over the place but really has no use in the game of baseball.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Brenly Hired

Cool, very cool that Bob Brenly was hired to replace Steve Stone today.

When told Monday that Brenly was getting the job, Baker said, "I've known B.B. for a long time—we were together in San Francisco. He's a good broadcaster, a good baseball guy, and he's honest. He'll do a great job."

Gee, wasn't Steve Stone a good broadcaster, good baseball guy, and was honest? Hilarious Baker is saying the same thing about Brenly when he and his team threw a hissy fit over Stone being honest.

Hiring Bob Brenly automatically makes the Cubs games for WGN enjoyable to listen to regardless of who else they put next to him.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Hold Your Horses

It looks like the Chicago media is leading the charge to trade Sosa. I guess making up news stories to hurt the President didn't work out so well they should try for smaller fish.

The report said the Cubs were "among the first teams to contact the Dodgers about acquiring Green," and that Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta and Cubs GM Jim Hendry "planned to pursue talks" during the general managers' meetings that begin Tuesday in Key Biscayne, Fla.

Hendry told the Chicago Tribune on Saturday that he has "not talked to Paul DePodesta about any trade since the July trading deadline."

A high-ranking Dodgers official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, also said no such trade had been discussed. A Cubs official, also on the condition of anonymity, reiterated that his club, contrary to several published reports in recent weeks, are not actively looking to trade Sosa despite the star player's volatile relationship with manager Dusty Baker.

First Kerry's dreams were dashed, now a potential hot trade doesn't even appear to have been discussed at all. Not a good month for some in the Cubs blogger army.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Sosa Rumors Abound

About possibly being dealt to the Marlins...

The Cubs would need to pay the bulk of the $43 million that Sosa would earn through 2006 if he were dealt; they could start by taking back Marlins right fielder Juan Encarnacion and his $4.45 million salary for '05. The Marlins, though, can offer prospects in exchange for cash. Adding a slugging outfielder would enable them to move right fielder Miguel Cabrera to third and third baseman Mike Lowell to first. ...

Hmmm pay a large portion of Sosa's contract and get Juan Encarnacion and some prospects. No thanks. I don't like the way Sosa has acted recently, but I understand his frustration over Dusty Baker. I may be the only person in the Cubs Blog Army that will say that. But hey if your a Sosa hater this deal looks pretty good, I think it stinks.

Ofcourse the other rumor running around is the Cubs going after Shawn Green in exchange for Sosa. Again, no thanks. Green makes as much as Sosa but Sosa is more productive in 400-500 AB's than Green is in 600 AB's.

If Sosa is traded it will be someone who is far worse than him. Be careful what you wish for, you could end up with a worse situation in RF than what your started with. Shawn Green? Juan Encarnacion? Please allow me to barf if those deals ever go down.

UPDATE: Oh yeah forgot about the three way deal which I believe could bring Preston Wilson to Chicago. That one has to be a joke. Most Cubs fans are pissed that Sosa strikes out to much, what they going to make of Preston Wilson? His only positive is that he makes about $9 million other than that he is a Sosa clone except with less power. If I was Sosa and that deal was going down I would want to play in Colorado instead of New York. Playing in Colorado will boost his overall numbers and extend his career.

BTW Colorado is probably looking to deal Todd Helton. I say ship Sosa and Derek Lee in exchange for Wilson and Helton.


Jay Mariotti has a good article on why neither the Cubs nor the Whiteseox will get Carlos Beltran.

You are about to hear extraordinary layers of b.s. about the Cubs and Sox entering the high-stakes craps game for Beltran, who emerged with sweet timing in October as baseball's finest all-around player. Sox general manager Ken Williams, armed with a Minnesota payroll in a major metropolis, has gone so far this week to express great optimism that he'll be squarely in the hunt. Do yourself a favor and don't believe any of it. All you need to know about Beltran -- who has the power of Barry Bonds, the defensive ability of Jim Edmonds, the clutch tendencies of Reggie Jackson and has overtaken a shamed A-Fraud as the reigning five-tool god -- is that he's repped by superagent Scott Boras, who is to owners what Bigfoot is to a camping expedition. The asking price will start at $20 million a season over 10 years, and even if Beltran settles in the likelier range of seven years, that's still $140 million. It's safe to say the amount will wrinkle every starched white collar in Tribune Tower and evoke dry heaves of disgust from the chairman's office at U.S. Cellular Field.

Remember, above all other priorities, the Cubs and Sox insist on trying to win with payrolls that reflect some form of fiscal responsibility. Never mind that the Cubs rake in stinkingly high profits and squeeze every possible cent from revenue streams that include the adjoining rooftops, their own ticket-scalping operation, premium seats behind home plate and, if they get their wish, a bleachers expansion project and a revolving ad board on the fabled backstop bricks.

As long as the Cubs think business and profits first, winning second, this organization will never win a World Series. He makes an excellent point about the Cubs being the one humilating franchise left in baseball. I was happy for the Redsox but it disgusted me that a team with just as long in futility has now won 2 World Series to our one in the last 96 years.

To me the Cubs act like achieving the 100 year mark is going to be a badge of glory. Let me tell you this right now. If the Cubs make it to the 100th anniversary of never winning a World Series they will never ever live it down. From that point on in history the Cubs will be known as the only franchise to hit the magical mark of 100 years and no World Series.

It may sound stupid to some, but the Cubs should be doing everything in their power to avoid that little piece of humilating history.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Diamond Backs Fire Manager

No not Bob Brenly but Wally Backman 4 days after they hired him.

Arizona's management had been unaware of Backman's problems until they were reported in Tuesday's editions of The New York Times. Diamondbacks officials said they failed to do a criminal or financial background check on Backman.

"It's obviously a mistake on our part to have made a decision without having done the proper background work that could have been done, should have been done," managing partner Ken Kendrick said. "I take full responsibility for that, and I'm very sorry."

And what was the problem?

Backman was arrested in 2001 after a fight at his home involving his wife and one of her friends in Prineville, Ore. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment and was sentenced to 12 months' probation, ordered to undergo an anger management evaluation and donate $1,000 to the local Boys and Girls Club.

He was arrested, and later convicted, on a driving under the influence charge in Kennewick, Wash., in 2000.

A judge in Benton County, Wash., has ordered a hearing next month to determine if he violated his probation on the drunk driving charge. He served a day in jail and the rest of the one-year sentence was suspended on condition that he commit no new crimes.

The DUI is serious because it involves public safety, but apparently the decision to fire him was because when the Diamondbacks asked him if there was anything in his past that the organization should know about he said no.

The Phoenix Suns and the Diamondbacks I believe have strict moral values clauses in their contracts. There is a certain level of behavior that is tolerated that includes off-field activities. This was one of the main reasons Jason Kidd was traded for Stephon Marbury.

I don't know if it is lousy reporting, a mix up in facts, or I can't read but the harassment incident happened in 2001 according to this article. The DUI occurred in 2000. But then a Judge is having a hearing for him next month to decide if a DUI that occurred in 2000 is a violation of his probation of an incident that happened in 2001? -shakes head- Huh?

Or is it that the judge is having a hearing next month to decide if his harassment incident was a violation of his 2000 agreement? If that is the case it means if he commits as much as a parking ticket from that point until his death he could be in violation of this agreement and sent to jail? -shakes head- Huh?

Neither scenario makes sense but I tend to lean towards the second conclusion. My next question would be how long does he need to remain crime free in order to not be in violation of this agreement? There has to be a certain time limit, I can't imagine an infinite date applying to this. I just find it weird.

Mind Erase

With so many Cubs fans pinning their hopes on signing Carlos Beltran don't read any further...

Houston Astros free agent center fielder Carlos Beltran is seeking a 10-year contract, his agent told a television station on Thursday.

Yeah, that puts him at the top of the Cubs wish list I am sure. The article leaves a glimmer of hope.

Only a handful of teams will be able to afford the 27-year-old All-Star's soaring price tag -- the New York Yankees likely chief among his suitors. The Chicago Cubs were also said to be interested.

"Were" is the key word in that case. That likely has scared off the Cubs already and the organization is now applying the ignore and wait strategy which never works. While the Cubs ignore hoping the demands come down, other teams will bargain and haggle. By time the Cubs figure out his demands aren't coming down fast enough, it will be too late and he will be a Yankee or whatever.

A Sign of the apocalypse?

The Cubs did the smart thing today and signed Neifi Perez...

The Cubs agreed to a $1 million, one-year deal with Neifi Perez, who could earn an additional $1.5 million in performance bonuses.

Ok I was being sarcastic. 1 million dollars? And a chance at an extra 1.5 million? Talk about throwing money into a black hole. I am a pretty good fielder who can't hit his way out of a paper sack. Can I get a job on Dusty Bakers team for a cool $1 million?

Time for the money quote...

"He's a great fit in a lot of ways for us," general manager Jim Hendry said. "He can play an extended period of time for us. We could play him at second or short. He's ideal for a swing role, and he's a great defender off the bench and a runner when he's on base."

That is awesome. An extended period of time! He is a great swing player in the mold of Jose Macias and Lenny Harris! But the last line is hilarious, "...and a runner when he's on base." I am getting excited already.

Oh but Hendry made it clear after his glowing appraisal of this fine one of a kind SS that he was going to be signed anyways...

"Our intention was to sign Neifi no matter who is at shortstop," Hendry said. "At worst, you have a real talented guy coming off the bench filling in at second or short. That has really nothing to do with who else we pursue at shortstop."

We might need a definition of talented in this case. The Cubs again make a tragic case of spending too much on too little. No hit defensive SS's are a dime a dozen. Ask Augie Ojeda. And those guys come in at $300,000 a year. Every organization has more talented players than Neifi Perez in their minors. That is why guys like Perez, Macias, Harris, etc. bounce around teams.

You want to know who is the worst player on the 25 man roster? Your looking at him now. Welcome aboard Neifi, I am sure us Cubs fans will grow to enjoy you hitting #2 and maintaining the fine traditions of Lenny Harris and Jose Macias in hitting .250 with a sub .300 OBP from that spot.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Holy Trinity

I find this silly, but I thought A-rod to NYY was silly also....

As for Garciaparra, a report in the New York Daily News quoted a "friend" as saying he would be willing to sign with the Yankees and move to second base so he could play with the other two major shortstops, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.

Ummmm how bout the Cubs sign Renteria and Nomar then? Any other team and I would just dismiss it. But I don't put it out of the realm of possibility when the Yankees are involved.

The article also mentions the Cubs showing interest in Troy Percival. I have mixed feelings about Percival as he is 35, and has experienced arm troubles the last few years. My feeling is the Cubs will throw a ton of money at him and then watch him spend half the year on the DL. There is only one closer on the Market that can be counted on to be reasonably reliable, and that is Armando Benetiz.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

4 More Years

Being one of the few Bush supporters in the sea of blue Kerry supporters from the Cubs blogger Army I am happy to see George Bush re-elected as President. And re-elected by a wide margin in the popular vote as well.

Kerry has conceded the election, and my one wish from him is that he pursues terrorism issues just as hard when he returns to the Senate as he said he would do as President. He has 20 years of doing nothing, lets see if what he was talking about was the truth or was it just more pandering?

There also can be no more crying over spilt milk by the left. For four years the rally cry was, "selected, not elected." People liked to inform us that Gore was the real winner because he won the popular vote. Today these issues are dead. Today it vindicates the Republican party and Bush. Will conspiracy theories exist? Sure. But they wont be given nearly as much attention as they have been given over the last four years.

Right now the left has some serious soul searching to do. Their message did not resonate with the voters. Painting our terrorism/Afghanistan/Iraq effort as a failure clearly won over no one. The American public was not as stupid as the Democrats thought they were and saw through most of the pathetic attempts to bring down Bush.

On a side note...I found it amusing the two heavily pro-Kerry networks (CNN, CBS) refused to give Ohio to Bush. While FoxNews and NBC gave it to him. Flipping between the channels the Fox and NBC guys were saying that it would be impossible for Kerry to make up 130,000 vote margin in that state. While CBS and CNN were entertaining possibilities that Ohio was still in play. I can understand the fear over calling a state wrong like many did with Florida in 2000. But nothing like keeping hope alive until all hope is gone on those networks. They really did go down with the ship.
Not to mention that CNN and CBS were quick to award Wisconsin I believe to Kerry when only like 12,000 votes separated the two.

UPDATE: This notion about America being divided and needing to come together is true. I am sorry but Bush and the Republican party are not the ones creating the divide. It is up to the Democratic Party if they want to come back to the center and be taken seriously as a political party again. The American people sent the message loud and clear by re-electing Bush and for the 2nd straight term the Republican party gaining seats in the House and the Senate. The more the Democratic party's voice is hi-jacked by the Michael Moore's, Whoopi Goldberg's, and Moveon.org's the more elections they will lose. That includes believing in the stupid conspiracy theories that the left loves to come up with.

The reality is the center spoke and elected Bush. I am coming off as a huge Bush supporter and I am, but I realize he has flaws as well. If the Democratic Party stuck closer to the center and made Joe Lieberman the candidate, I probably would of voted for him. The Democrats pissed away an election to pander to the extremists. Because we could of had a change in this country if a guy like Lieberman was nominated. Kerry and Dean's message turned me off every time they tried to paint what was going on with the War on Terrorism as a failure and not worth it. In the end people voted their moral values. And providing freedom and opportunity to people in the middle east was a top priority for the American public. I am very happy about that.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Cubs Announcer

Haven't seen many blogs comment on Bob Brenly possibly being hired..

The Cubs know they need a proven, high-profile TV analyst to replace highly popular Steve Stone, and Bob Brenly appears to be at the top of their wish list.

The former Arizona manager confirmed Friday that he has been contacted about filling the analyst vacancy in the WGN-Ch. 9 booth. Brenly has ties to the Cubs, having worked their games for WGN-AM in 1990 and 1991.

I lived in Arizona for awhile and Bob Brenly is extremely good in the both and a worthy replacement for Steve Stone. In my opinion the Cubs can't go wrong with him and well the Cubs owe it to us fans not to be stuck with the Joe Carter fiasco again.

I have confidence that most fans will be happy with Brenly if he is hired.

Did you know?

That the Cubs had a very good leadoff man this season? No it wasn't Corey Patterson or even Mark Grudz. It was the player that the Cubs refused to play when Grudz returned from injury. It was Todd Walker.

Remember when I said that if you want to lose you play Grudz and if you want to win you play Walker? So it is no surprise to me when Grudz returned that the Cubs offense went into the tank. It was because the Cubs were losing this production from the lead off spot.

.294 BA - .370 OBP - .905 OPS - 45 Runs - 12 HR - 30 RBI - 28 BB - 32 SO's - 288 AB's

The Cubs were getting OBP, Batting Average, HR's, RBI, Runs, and a hitter who walked as much as he struck out. Yet he was benched when Grudz returned and Patterson was inserted into the leadoff spot. While Patterson showed flashes of what he can do it was up and down where as Walker was consistent. Patterson's line was...

.261 BA - .317 OBP - .803 OPS - 36 Runs - 13 HR - 30 RBI - 17 BB - 77 SO's - 245 AB's

Patterson only provided power and SB's from the leadoff spot. His numbers were better suited to the lower part of the order until he can get his OBP up. And those strike outs were killer also.

I hate to beat the same point over and over. But this is nothing more than pure incompetence by our manager. Why would any sane manager replace that kind of production from the leadoff spot to insert and hand back a starting position to guys who barely could get their OBP above .320? The return of Grudz removed the Cubs only legit leadoff man, so Baker was compelled to insert Patterson in that spot. That is the only reason Patterson became the leadoff man.

I can see why so many players on this team are mouthing off and why Steve Stone quit. It is decisions like this that drive people crazy and make them ask, "WTF are you thinking Dusty?"

The question now is will Todd Walker be back? He says he wants to return but he mentioned a kiss of death in my opinion. He said the ball was in the Cubs court. I just have this strange feeling that Walker will not be back next year. Alot of people (including myself) have him automatically penciled in for next year. We could be in for a rude surprise because I can honestly see an INF of Neifi Perez and Pokey Reese/take your pick of no hit all defensive 2b. Thats my nightmare, I can't imagine much worse.