Monday, January 31, 2005

More Clear

Baltimore would pay just $5 million of Sosa’s $17 million salary this year, with the Cubs paying $12 million. The Orioles would assume responsibility for the 2006 option, which Baltimore would be able to buy out for $4.5 million.

In addition, Chicago would remain responsible for the $3.5 million severance pay called for in Sosa’s contract, which must be given to the seven-time All-Star within 30 days after the trade is finalized.

The Cub Reporter does the math...

Well, they are. They’re saving a whopping total of… $1.5M. Sosa’s $17M salary, minus the $12M they’re giving Baltimore, minus the $3.5M severance pay. $1.5M! The only real financial advantage for the Cubs is that they owe Sosa absolutely zippo for 2006 (as opposed to $4.5M), but feel free to snicker whenever you hear that this deal allows the Cubs any meaningful financial flexibility. $1.5M!

Factor in Hairston's $1.8 to $2.0 million, and poof their goes the $1.5 million savings. Sure the Cubs are off the hook for 2006, but was a savings of $4.5 million in 2006 really worth it? This team still has to sign an OFer for this year. Whether it be Burnitz or Magglio or some mystery guy in a trade, it would still be a hell of a lot better to pair that guy along Sosa than what we are currently stuck with. Either way this team will still pay the same amount of cash this season. No financial flexibility what so ever to free up money to sign players this season. Wasn't that supposed to be the whole point of moving Sosa?

The Sosa deal is much like what the Pirates did with Am-ram, and the Marlins did with Lee. Salary dumps in exchange for questionable, low grade talent. Except in those cases, those teams actually cleared off payroll. The Cubs didn't. I thought super genius GM's like Hendry was better than the Pirates and Marlins GM. Maybe Hendry needs to take a trip to Milwaukee or Pittsburgh and have a class in how to perform a salary dump properly. Just goes to show, Hendry still has his training wheels on when it comes to the off-season.

Hey maybe Sosa will fail the physical to prevent this deal from going down. Now that would an interesting week in the blog world.

Huff Madness

I get tired of arguing with the we must have Aubrey Huff lovers. What most people miss is Huff isn't a very good OFer. He is better suited to 3b or 1b.

Tampa tried it for about 100 games in 2003 and it really went badly. He was showing no signs of picking up the position so the Ray's finally scrapped that idea.

In reality Huff isn't very good at any position. His more natural position is 3rd base, but for some reason I don't think a fielding % of around .920 is going to cut it. The only position he has shown signs of actually being decent at is first base. Which is why he is scheduled to be the Ray's opening day first base man.

I can see the attraction of Huff, but he doesn't really play the position we need. Just because he played 100 games and failed miserably at it, doesn't mean he is an OFer. We already have Derrek Lee, and Aramis Ramirez.

The Cubs are already setting up Hairston for an everyday job, they just don't know where...

The Cubs have relayed to Jerry Hairston that he will be their leadoff man, if the Sammy Sosa trade is completed. Hairston's position in the field, however, remains undecided. He could end up in left field, or the Cubs might decide to move Todd Walker to left. Hairston is superior to Walker at second base....

If Jeremy Burnitz is signed, then that pretty much ends the Huff rumors. So if your a never say die Aubrey Huff lover get down on your knees and pray Burnitz isn't our next pick up. I still don't think Huff is even remotely on the Cubs radar, he doesn't even play the position we need.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

How Bad?

How bad is this deal for the Cubs? And how good of a deal is this for the Orioles? Flying Orioles breaks it down...

The Cubs are handing the O’s $10 million, or more than half of Sammy Sosa’s $17 million salary for 2005. The minor leaguers given up are Dave Crouthers and Mike Fontenot, two players that would never have cracked the Orioles’ starting lineup anytime in the near future. Oh, and Jerry Hairston Jr. had just avoided arbitration by signing a one-year, $2.5 million deal. So in reality, Sosa won’t cost the O’s $7 million this year. He’ll cost them $4.5 million. And the players association has already indicated to Sosa’s agent that they will agree to allow Sosa to void a clause in his contract that stated that if Sosa was traded, his $18 million option for 2006 would automatically kick in. And the Cubs have apparently agreed to pay the $4.5 million buy out to the Orioles if they decide to part ways with Sosa after the season.

Can you see why the Orioles jumped all over this deal? $4.5 million for Sammy Sosa, where do we freaking sign!

So it looks like the Cubs payed $10 million, plus pay the $2.5 million salary of Hairston, and will probably pay the $4.5 million buy out for a grand total of $17 million to get rid of Sosa one season early. Wait a minute weren't we going to pay Sosa about $17 million anyways this season? The Cubs are saving very little in this trade, about $4-5 million, which is not even enough for a down payment on a half way decent hitter.

Food for Thought - If the Cubs did happen to get Magglio for $8-10 million, the Cubs will have payed $25-$27 million to fill 1 roster spot and get about the same production than if the team just kept Sosa and bought him out at the end of the year for around a total of $22 million.

When instead the team could of signed Magglio to a $8-10 million deal, kept Sosa and only spent about $3 million more. An OF of Magglio, Patterson, and Sosa looks nice. An OF of Hairston, Magglio, Patterson is decent but nothing to stand up and cheer about. And an OF of Hairston, Holly, and Patterson is down right nightmarish.

Right now the Cubs are paying Jerry Hairston $17 million to patrol the OF.


Congrats to the Iraqi people on giving the finger to the anti-democracy people. Voter turnout is being reported at way over the expected levels. Only mild violence at voter areas with some 25 Iraqi's killed. Not nearly the death and blood shed expected by many on the left. Another step forward for Iraq while the doom and gloomers wanted this election delayed. This is why we are fighting, look at that pictures.

Look at the pride of free people, look at the pride of a people who have their future in their hands. It is worth it every single day.

But if the insurgents wanted to stop people in Baghdad from voting, they failed. If they wanted to cause chaos, they failed. The voters were completely defiant, and there was a feeling that the people of Baghdad, showing a new, positive attitude, had turned a corner.

They failed big time.

Check out Friends of Democracy for all kinds of information on the election in Iraq.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Oh Boy!

If the Sosa deal is making you happy or sad this is sure to make any Cub fan jump off a cliff...

He's still a free agent, but a source indicated the Cubs passed on having outfielder Jay Gibbons included in the pending deal with Baltimore because they are close to signing a free-agent outfielder.

Oh so that means the Cubs are hot on the heals of Magglio Ordonez? Umm no not exactly.

When the Cubs play their home opener at Wrigley Field, the guy running out to greet the fans in right field is likely to be Jeromy Burnitz. He might want to make sure he's wearing the proper uniform, as this would be his fifth team in the last five seasons.

We might have passed up Jay Gibbons, and traded Sammy Sosa, to only wind up with Jeremy Burnitz? Get me a rope someone.

"If that is true, and it probably is, it might be the craziest signing in years," one baseball executive said.

Could you ever conceive of the Cubs paying a team to take Sosa off their hands and then signing a drifter like Burnitz to replace him? In a year when they are shooting for the World Series, no less?

Stranger things have happened.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Finally Traded

Well it looks like the Cubs finally did it...

Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa will be traded to the Baltimore Orioles for infielder Jerry Hairston and at least two minor-leaguers, pending physicals and approval from commissioner Bud Selig and the players' association.

The kicker...

The Cubs would pay a substantial part of Sosa's $17 million salary this season, major-league executives told the AP. Sosa would agree to void his salary in 2006, they also said.

Yep we get to pay Sosa to play for someone else, and in return we get Hairston. To the "Sosa must be gone at any cost people," you got your wish. You got your wish in making the team weaker that's for sure. I guess Hairston can lead off, that's if he isn't injured like he is every year missing nearly half the season or more the last 2 years.

I am sure people will be jumping for joy, but it just puts an exclamation point on a terrible off-season. Sosa was never the problem, he was made the problem because everyone else on the team didn't have the balls to step up and accept responsibility for their actions on the field. The good thing is, I hope the excuses will stop that Sosa was the teams problem for everything. Now the Cubs have no one to blame but themselves if they fail.

But the vicious cycle never ends. Moving now into public enemy #1 slot will be Kerry Wood. Now that all the Sosa haters no longer can bitch and moan about him, they can focus on Wood. 1) Never lived up to the hype yet. SO's are cool, but winning games would be nice as well. 2) Making a large chunk or change. The perfect recipe for the new most hated Cub.

Wood does deserve some pressure now. For a guy that has never won more than 15 games in season and walks around 100 guys a year, that just isn't going to cut it anymore. While a careful critique is warranted for Wood, get ready for some of the most hateful, mean-spirited, nasty, outrageous, and off the wall comments that were reserved for Sosa, now being directed at Wood this next season. I look forward to reading the posts of Wood should be released, Wood sucks, Wood is the worst player ever, Wood is a cancer in the clubhouse, Wood plays his heavy metal music too loud, Wood isn't mentally tough, blah blah blah. It's coming, be warned.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Out of Touch

If you want any more proof of the self destruction of the Democratic Party, you need look no further than the point man Robert Byrd in the opposition to Condolezza Rice being appointed Seceratary of State.

"I have stood on this Senate floor more times than I can count to defend the prerogatives of this institution and the separate but equal – with emphasis on the word "equal" – powers of the three branches of government.


John Dickinson, the chief author of the Articles of Confederation, said in 1787, "Experience must be our only guide; reason may mislead us."

In case you don't know, Robert Byrd is a former KKK member speaking out against the first African-American woman nominated for Seceratary of State while qouting from the guy who wrote the Articles of Confederation of the Slave States. You think the Democrats could of picked anyone but him? Rice won confirmation easily 85-13.

Old news, but I could not believe the Dem's allowed the KKK guy to even open his mouth. Simply amazing.

Better Words

I was looking through some old articles on the Cub Reporter and came across a Patterson post from Feb 11th 2004 written by Neil that sums up what I was trying to explain in my earlier post about Patterson being a good option at the top of the order...

2 points:

1. Does 'working the count' only apply to lead-off hitters in Dusty's book? If so then it's too bad Hee Seop Choi was so tall.

2. Reading the comments about Patterson reminded me that I read a couple of months ago that he had been 2nd best in the majors at getting into scoring position of his own volition, i.e. through extra base hits and stolen bases.

This prompted some quick and dirty crunching. Here's what I got.

Grudz OBA .366
Patterson OBA .329

Difference in times on base over 600 PA, Grudz +22.

Counting extra base hits, difference in SB to CS, and subtracting sacrifices from PAs: percentage of times in scoring positon unaided:

Grudz .090
Patterson .139

Difference over 600 PAs, Patterson +29.

So it could be argued that while Grudz is more likely to get on base, Patterson is more likely to score a run.

I know it's small samples etc., but Patterson represents a better option at lead-off than might first meet the eye. FWIW, I'd bat him down the order but purely because of his LHB.

Like I said, even if Patterson has a .320 OBP from the lead-off spot he will be a much better option to have at the top of the order to take advantage of his speed so the team can score more runs.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Line-up Run Down

#1 Corey Patterson - Not the popular place people want to see him, but I am not as upset as most people. I hate the freaking strikeouts and I am a bigger stickler for OBP at the top of the order, but I do like the other aspects that Patterson's skills bring to the lineup. Even if he get's on at a .320 clip Patterson will score 100+ runs easy.

I hated Grudz leading off, the man was slower than a brick and was a double play in waiting on the base paths. Forget about hitting and running, if the batter struck out (which was a very good chance) Grudz would of been gunned down easily at 2nd for a double play. Patterson brings the ability to turn a single into a double each time he gets on base. Plus it annoys the hell out of the pitchers worried about him stealing bases. Pitchers will often move to the fastball to give their catcher a chance at throwing out runners. And if the Cubs are hitting and running, Patterson would be scoring from first where as before Grudz or Walker would be held up at 3rd base. This is a much better use of his skills with RBI men behind him than buring him at the bottom of the order.

#2 Todd Walker - I guess I will probably be getting my wish if Walker bat's #2. The top 2 in the order I wanted last year was Walker and Patterson to take advantage of their lefty bat because of our right handed dominated lineup. I still don't have a problem with Walker leading off but I think he is better suited to the #2 hole and being the contact/hit and run hitter to protect Patterson. Plus he has some extra base/gap power that a Cubs team has lacked in the #2 slot for awhile now. Please god, no more Rey Ordonez's, Jose Macias, or Lenny Harris type hitters in the #2 slot ever again.

#3 Nomar Garciaparra - The Cubs offense will either be good or bad depending on Nomar's health. I am in the camp that Nomar hits .300/25-30 Hr's/110+ RBI. Again, another contact hitter who has the ability to protect runners on a hit and run and can get key singles when needed.

#4 Aramis Ramirez - If his SO/BB ratio holds he will form the final piece in 3 straight Cubs hitters who are contact oriented hitters not SO prone hitters.

#5 Sammy Sosa - If Sosa can remain healthy for a full season you will see the dominate Sosa for a full season. Many people forget that before his injuries the last 2 season's he was having banner years. Then missed a month and completly lost any momentum he had. You might not see the average but if Sosa plays around 162 games he will hit around .270/40-45 HR's/100+ RBI.

#6 Derrek Lee - The supposed major upgrade at 1b. His defense is unmatched. But his offense? Mark Grace was much better than him. Hitting 30 HR's doesn't mean your better when your other numbers are .278 BA, 98 RBI, 128 SO's. Grace got punked alot because he didn't hit HR's but he matched Lee's RBI and hit .300+ with about half the SO's with a .400 OBP.

Lee would have much better overall numbers if he didn't mail in his first two months of every season. If he decides to get hot from game #1 on he could be a force, but expect more of the same which isn't too shabby for a #6 hitter.

#7 Michael Barrett - If he can keep up what he did last year and produce a .280ish BA with 65 RBI from this slot again the Cubs will be looking good for the bottom part of the order.

#8 Todd Hollandsworth - Might as well pencil him in as the every day left fielder next year. Dusty has said so. And even if Dubois hits .400 in spring training Dusty will do everything in his power to completly screw up the kids timing so he will have his "opportunity to fail." Holly is a bum, has has been for much of his career. I am not fooled by his heroics last season. If your expecting it again, get prepared for a major let down. This would be the ideal spot to work in a prospect with no pressure, but I guess I wont be too pissed with Holly hitting .250 in the #8 spot, I watched A-gonz hit .230 in the #7 spot most of the time. So Holly is an upgrade in that regard for the lower part of the order.

Overall - Overall I think the Cubs have a good shot at having a productive lineup. Lot's of if's and praying they don't get injured but it is a lineup that can cause trouble for other teams.

Realistically my only sure bets in this lineup are Am-ram, Walker, and Lee. Those are the players I have a good sense of what to expect out of them. I don't expect them to be worse next season.

Question marks are Patterson, Sosa, Nomar, Barrett, Holly. These players can range from either really good to god-awful or injured too much to contribute. You really can't peg down what the expect out of them until they actually start playing and putting up the numbers.

I give Hendry alot of crap for a lousy off-season but I can see, where he might see, that the Cubs have a pretty good lineup right now. Best case scenerio we have a good lineup. Though adding a Drew or Beltran would of added extra insurance to a lineup that is filled mostly with question marks.

I am still going to hang in the Corey camp. He gets bashed alot for not being Miguel Cabrera or Albert Pujols from day one. Cubs fans are ready to stick a fork in him. I am not saying Patterson will be a super-star one day, but hey some players require time to develop, give it time. The up's and down of Patterson I can live with, for now.

And some interesting math - Patterson months hitting from best to worst .336, .327, .277, .250, .225, .198

Lee's - .385, .280, .275, .270, .233, .226.

Throw out Patterson and Lee's best and worst months as aberrations and you get 386 AB's by each Lee and Patterson in all the other months. Lee got 103 hits and Patterson 104 hits for a .269 average and .267 average for Lee.

For Lee and Patterson it is also damn close to their career averages. Patterson is young and still in development. What the hell is Derrek Lee's excuse for being no better than Patterson in 4 out of the 6 months? If your going to blast Corey Patterson make sure you blast Derrek Lee in the same sentence.

This example is good for judging streak/bunch hitters. What are they doing in the months when they aren't on fire or in a major slump.

Oh, and for those complaining about Patterson's .198 to finish the season. Miguel Cabrera hit .229 with a .315 OBP in the last month. That was down considerably from his .300ish BA, .370ish OBP average in previous months. Jason Bay in the final month dipped also but he had less playing time over all, Aaron Rowand of the White Sox struggled in the last month also, his OBP went way down. It is a long season and most young players have a hard time finishing out the season because they have never played a 162 game schedule. Patterson was hitting .285 with a .360 OBP before that last month. I see no reason why Patterson can not put up those kind of averages again next season if he avoids the drop off at the end. These things are only taken care of by playing through it and building up your endurance. You can't learn how to adjust to playing a full-season in the majors by sitting on the bench.

Would anyone be upset if Patterson posted those kind of numbers next season for the whole year? Don't be surprised if he does.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Q and A

Some interesting questions answered in this article...

Question: How might you treat the Sammy Sosa situation differently this year and not keep him high in the batting order if he doesn't deserve it?

Baker: No. 1, I've got to talk to Sammy first in person. As far as where Sammy hits in the order, I think he does deserve a certain amount of respect. I'm going to give him an opportunity to fail. If you don't succeed and you do fail for a period of time, then it's on you.

I am in the un-popular camp that it is Dusty Baker creating the team problems not Sammy Sosa. Baker is really talking out his ass regarding Sosa. He say's he will work with Sosa, he has respect for him and then in the next sentence he goes about tearing down Sosa.

If I was Sosa and saw that line about giving me an opportunity to fail, I would be livid. This automatically suggests that Sosa will fail. Normally you hear that a GM or manager will give a player every opportunity to succeed. This is just Baker's little way of taking shots at Sosa.

To the Sosa haters it is all Sosa's fault. And Baker is speaking the truth. This organization has had so much turmoil and controversy in the last 2 years, that it is hard to imagine Dusty Baker does not sit at the center of most of it. How does a manager coming off a World Series trip not even get a contract offer to return to the Giants? I think we as Cubs fans are understanding why.

Oh and to further prove a disaster in the making...

Who's in left? If the season started today, the Cubs would field a left-field platoon of veteran Todd Hollandsworth and rookie Jason Dubois. Dusty Baker made it clear Friday whom he prefers.

"It's Holly first," Baker said. "Even if I have a platoon situation, Holly is probably going to play 135-140 games. Holly gets the first shot."

This is the year Dusty Baker gets fired. Been saying it for three years. This team needs a real manager.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Told Ya

I told you I don't trust Dusty Baker one bit...

Baker said, barring a "blockbuster" deal, Hollandsworth "will get most of the playing time" in left, with 25-year-old Jason Dubois seeing some action. Baker took a less definitive stance on the closer situation.

A recipe for disaster. But I am not surprised.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Rush of Cubs News

Well the Cubs have come to terms with Barrett, Patterson, and Farnsworth to avoid arbitration.

The Cubs signed catcher Michael Barrett to a three-year, $12 million contract on Tuesday, avoiding arbitration and preventing Barrett from becoming a free agent next winter.

Hmmm, I guess I am fine with that. Barrett held up, and hit better than I ever expected last season. I am still not entirely convinced he can do it consistently year after year. I am afraid he will revert to his .250, sub .300 OBP days, which then makes $4 million a year look like a big waste. Hopefully he is the type of player that thrives on playing everyday.

Patterson signed for $2.8 million, a $2.36 million raise from 2004, while Farnsworth signed for $1.975 million, a $575,000 raise.

I am still in the belief that at Patterson's rate of drawing more walks, by the time he reaches the age of 27 he will be in a respectable area of about 70-80 walks a season. One thing I don't see changing is his strikeout rate. It is really tough for a guy who strikes out 160 times a year to be anything less than a 140 strikeout a year guy for the rest of his career.

Patterson is still very young at age 25, the good thing is he is showing signs of improving from the start of the year till the end. I would be more worried if I saw no improvement. I know alot of Cubs fans are impatient that he hasn't developed into a superstar yet, and are willing to pull the plug on him now. But I am willing to continue living with the growing pains of Patterson.

As for Farnsworth. I loath him. Anything more than a basket of used baseball's for him is too much. Everyone says he can throw 100 MPH, he has trade value. If he had a brain to go along with that talent he would have trade value. He falls into the category of talented/never able to put it all together.

In arbitration figures filed Tuesday, Zambrano asked for a $3.52 million raise to $4 million, while the Cubs offered $3.3 million. Ramirez, who made $6 million in '04, asked for $10.25 million, while the Cubs offered $8 million.

No problems with any of that. But notice where Alou's salary is now going. Hence why the Cubs have no interest in any OF free agents. They won't go above the magical $100 million dollar barrier.

And in a pick up I actually like the Cubs signed Scott Williamson to a minor league deal.

Hendry also took a minor gamble Tuesday on reliever Scott Williamson, signing the 28-year-old right-hander to a minor-league deal for the minimum salary of $316,000, or $500,000 if he's called up.

The reason I like this is because Williamson has actually been good in several season's and is age 28. Unlike Dempster and Rusch who had 1 questionable good season at best and never really repeated it since. I have wanted Williamson before he was traded to Boston in 2003. Whether he has the mental makeup to be a closer, I guess that jury is still out, because he has had his chances and never really locked it down as his own job.

He is coming off his second major surgery, at the very best he will probably pitch sometime after the all-star break. But you really need an additional year of further training to even resemble what you once were. The way I see it, a deal for the 2006 season at best.

On the flip side this deal stinks of classic Cubs. Another rehab project with no idea if he will ever be good. I still don't understand the Cubs fetish with rehab projects. Since when did we become the "ER" for MLB? Sure it is no risk, but is signing players who had major injuries your idea of a franchise looking for the best option? Or does it look like a junk dealer trying to fix up an old gremlin in the hopes of getting him to and from work till another broken down option springs up that looks like it might be salvageable?

It is the type of deal Hendry is famous for that makes him look like a super GM. If the player fails, it wasn't ment to be, it's not Jim Hendry's fault. If the player turns into something useful then Hendry gets all the praise of being a great GM. If 90% of your deals are like this then it is really easy to come off looking like a great GM. The problem is these type of signings rarely solve the problem and hardly ever solve the problem for any length of time. They are simply stop gap measures to get the team through the year. Which is typical losing Cubs baseball style.

I still like the Williamson pick-up regardless, so I guess I should stop bitching.

Don't Believe It

Lot's of interesting nuggets of information in the latest article from the Sun-Times...

Who's the closer if one doesn't come in a trade?

"We feel a lot of times the most successful closers are people converted from other roles," Hendry said. '"We are going to give Ryan Dempster an opportunity to do that in spring training, if nothing else changes."

Shake that magic bottle! Same tired old Cubs policy.

As for free-agent outfielder Magglio Ordonez, the Cubs will consider him only if Sosa is traded and they don't get an outfielder in exchange. They haven't even investigated Ordonez's physical status with his troublesome knee. That will only happen if the time comes that Sosa is gone and Ordonez makes sense. For now, Hendry is happy with a left-field combo of Todd Hollandsworth and Jason Dubois.

Did I read that correctly? The Cubs have no interest in Ordonez if they can't move Sosa? Well they are staying consistent, because they are not even bothing to check out his physical status much like the Cubs never even bothered to talk to Beltran once. And talk about shooting yourself in the foot by not getting Drew, Beltran or Ordonez, next year's free agent class is going to be mightly thin on talent. Which means second tier talent will probably be getting 1st tier salaries. Nothing like over-paying for garbage when the market will be thin on talent. Way to go Hendry!

But don't forget about Dubois...

"And Dubois is a guy that people are forgetting about because he is not a big-name free agent. But he is a guy that we are asked about weekly in any trade, and a year and a half ago no one heard of [Pittsburgh's] Jason Bay or [San Diego's] Khalil Greene, young guys that really made their mark last season. Rookies break in every year and people say, 'Where did they come from?' Dubois can be that kind of guy."

While that is true those teams and the teams they came from were willing to work with minor league talent. Give them full playing time and never look back. I would love Dubois to get the chance to be the every day LFer, but I honestly think it is a crock.

I heard the same bullshit when Hendry and Baker were pumping Choi. How much they will stick with him through his slumps and help him along. As soon as Choi slumped, that was it, time to pull the plug. Baker has his "stud" Hollandsworth to replace Dubois when he fails. And much like the excuse with Choi, "we are in the middle of a pennant race we can't afford to break in a prospect" speech I heard from many Cubs fans. If we were Minnesota or Oakland I might believe the Cubs if they say they are going to let Dubois be the man in the OF, but we are not Minnesota or Oakland so I don't believe it for a second.

And much like any young player that Baker has on his team he will jerk them around so much just to try and make them look bad. I don't know if any one recalls Dubois last game before the September call-ups in June. Dubois had a fantastic AB and really showed some great bat control. His reward was to be demoted to the minors. And he wasn't demoted right away if I recall correctly. He sat at the end of the Cubs bench for a week or two while Baker ignored him. And of course we know how Baker rewards guys who have hot streaks, they get benched for the guys on cold streaks. Which in turn puts everyone on a cold streak.

Bottom-line Dubois needs to hit .300 from day 1 till the end of the season to even dream about getting over 300 AB's. If his average dips to .250 at any time, stick a fork in him Baker will not allow some punk kid to hit .250 when he can have a veteran do it just as well.

Oh and how much better would the organization and fans be about Dubois getting the starting gig in 2005 if he was the starter in RF when Sosa was out? We don't know how well Dubois will do this coming year but we could of learned a little last season. Playing during Sosa's injury would of been valuable development time for Dubois if the organization was serious about him being the LFer next year.

The Cubs believe Dubois will be the everyday LFer as much as they believed they were in the running for Carlos Beltran.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Dropping the Ball

Have to agree with this article.

Henry Blanco.

That's all general manager Jim Hendry has been able to add to the Cubs' roster this off-season.

A reserve catcher.

Sad, but true.

Whatever plan Hendry had after the disastrous end that resulted in a third-place finish last season, it isn't working.

Remember all that talk about how players would be breaking down the Wrigley Field doors to play for Dusty Baker?

Well, Baker likely destroyed that trust on the last day of the season when he snitched on Sosa leaving early. Who wants to play for a manager who will tattle-tale on his biggest star when the heat gets turned up?

Players have broken down the door to play for Dusty. Rey Ordonez, Lenny Harris, Jose Macias, Shawn Estes, Kent Mercker, Tom Goodwin to name a few. It just that the ones that want to play for Baker just plain suck. Because they know they will get playing time with Baker and the Cubs.

And the tattle-tale part is so true. Why would any self-respecting free agent want to sign to play for Baker and when things get tough your manager starts outing everyone and what they do. That free agent is thinking, what if I have a bad year? Will Baker start ripping me apart in the media like he did with the franchise player Sosa? I don't need that kind of back stabbing.

But the deafening silence on players wanting to play for the Cubs since Baker was hired can't be ignored. We all remember those reports of how so and so was dying to play for Baker. Well where are they? But you know what I can't fault Baker and the free agent thing. The Cubs hardly ever sign good free agents. But combining Baker's poor handling of the team and the Cubs stigma of being cheap and it is double whammy in making the Cubs an attractive team to play for.

The Cubs, who didn't hesitate to raise ticket prices yet again, feel they can contend in the National League Central without changes to a team that sank like stone in last September's pressure cooker.

But hey I guess we can all agree with Tony Larussa's take on not getting Beltan...

I think [the Cubs and Astros] are strong enough. They don't need an impact player like Beltran," La Russa said Tuesday.

You know Larussa is tickled to death the Cubs didn't get Beltran. Nice to see our enemy saying we don't need Beltran. Ofcourse we don't it makes the division easier to win for the Cardinals next season! Who needs an impact player on offense? Certainly not the Cubs!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Missing the Point

Cubs Chronicle responds to a article from Rick Morissey about the Cubs not pushing hard enough for Beltran. While Cubs Chronicle says he is glad the Cubs did not go as far as the Mets, the whole point Morissey tries to make is that the Cubs were delusional into thinking a top flight free agent would actually want to come to Chicago.

They kept waiting for him to demonstrate interest in them. They wanted him to say he yearned to play in Wrigley Field, to play day baseball, to be part of something special. They wanted him to show emotional commitment. They wanted him to say he longed to be part of the 2005 team that won a World Series and washed away all that unpleasant history. They hoped he wanted to be a Cub so much he would be willing to work relatively cheaply.

The problem in this whole thing is the Cubs never went out and showed Carlos Beltran the love. Jim Hendry never bothered to get off his fat ass and meet Carlos Beltran and sell him on the Chicago Cubs. That is part of Jim Hendry's job isn't? Sell the franchise to other players to get them on board? Or did that part of the job elude Hendry?

Meanwhile the Mets were doing this...

When general manager Omar Minaya decided the Mets had a shot at Beltran, the team went after him aggressively.

"Starting at Thanksgiving, they called me 31 straight days," agent Scott Boras said. "They checked in every day, asking where Carlos was at [in his thinking], saying they wanted Carlos. I would tell Carlos every day, 'The Mets called again.' And again. And again."

Beltran was impressed. Then came the visit.

Beltran was wowed by the visit, especially the sincerity of Mets owner Fred Wilpon.

"He told me, 'If you're happy in Houston, stay in Houston,' " Beltran said. " 'If you want the big stage, come to New York. Sign with the Yankees or sign with us.' He gave me options. He showed me the kind of person he is."

Where was Jim Hendry? Where were the Cubs calls? I am not an idiot but when a franchise is checking in with you everyday their owner wants to meet you, their General Manager wants to you, hmmmm the Mets start looking good.

Then you see a 5 year $75 million dollar offer from the Cubs and no phone calls, no one in the Cubs organization setting up meetings. On top of that you see how the Cubs organization treats its players and the way the team acted. Oh and the Mets have actually won and been to a World Series in recent history.

I am not saying Beltran would of taken that deal, but I bet he would of seriously considered it if Jim Hendry and the Cubs actually made an effort to make him feel wanted.

And what Rick Morissey says is the straight up truth about the way the Cubs are run and the way they think. The Cubs think everyone wants to play for them, play in Wrigley. They expect everyone to take below market offers and then expect that player to be honored to don a Cubs uniform.

Another alternative, a very unpleasant alternative, is that the Cubs never really wanted Beltran but were concerned they would take a huge public-relations hit for not trying.

Plan B, if there is a Plan B, would have the Cubs signing Magglio Ordonez. Expect the Cubs to look for the Chicago discount with Ordonez, the former White Sox star. Expect it not to work. The agent of darkness also represents Ordonez.

Like I said before the Cubs never wanted Beltran. If you want a player you atleast meet with him. The Cubs never even bothered to schedule a meeting. And I have said this for years, the Cubs love to low ball players. That is why this franchise over the last 20 years, probably the last 90 years, has a pathetic record in getting the top players in the league.

If you think winning 88 and 89 games in back to back years suddenly erases the Cubs image as losers you might want to re-think that. For most of the last 96 years the Cubs have been the place to go with no hope of ever winning a World Series. And if Beltran wants to win a World Series then he made the correct choice of going to the New York Mets.

It may be a bitter pill to swallow but if I had equal offers on the table from the Brewers or the Cubs I would probably choose the Brewers. Some how, some way, the Cubs always seem to punk out or screw it up. They have only been doing it for the last 96 years. I am sure in most professional baseball players minds going to the Cubs is just like going to Detroit or Tampa. All have the same amount of odds of winning a World Series as the Cubs do.

Make no mistake this franchise is still a joke in most peoples minds. Last year didn't help that image much. The image needs to change through out the organization. They need to convince not only their fans but all of baseball that the Cubs are serious about winning. And the Carlos Beltran offer shows the Cubs are still jokes. Still a franchise you can't put your faith into. Still a franchise not serious about winning.

I am just looking for any sign the Cubs are serious about getting to a World Series. But all I see are the same moves they made when they were in last place. Sign tons of crappy middle infielders like Cody Ransom, get questionable bullpen arms and take on all the rehab and reclamation projects in hopes of finding something useful from the garbage pile. Unless that has changed recently it looks like the same SOP from the last 20 years. Take no risk as GM, then no one can say I made a bad deal. And if one of my crappy players has 1 good season I look like the greatest GM! Never mind the fact they rarely have a good 2nd, 3rd or 4th years.

Call me bitter, but this off-season is coming out almost exactly how I predicted. Another failure by the organization to fix the offense. I am not surprised, just wishing the Cubs would prove me wrong about their free agent philosophy.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Stand Up and Cheer

The Cubs made their blockbuster move of the free agent period and picked up Stephen Randolph from the Diamondbacks for a PTBNL.

Randolph is basically horrible. He walks as many guys as he strikes out and looks like he will be the token left-handed just so the team can have a left handed.

I dont agree with And Another Things! take...
But hey, the guy throws lefthanded. Unless the PTBNL is a top prospect, and I doubt he will be, this is a zero-risk trade.

It is a risk. Randolph will likely bump Leicaster or Wellemyer from the bullpen in exchange for this garbage. And in typical Dusty fashion you know Randolph will be getting those key innings so he can walk guys. It is a risk because of the chances of him pitching alot for the Cubs. If he does it will be a disaster. No control = bad bullpen pitcher.

The sad part is the Cubs have so many better prospects left and right handed that will be of much more use than this guy. Just another garbage move by the Cubs. This guy is totally un-needed.

Hard to Express

Sometimes it is hard to express and write down what your thinking.

I guess my whole take on Beltran going to the Mets kind of reminds me of the TV show "Survivor." At some point during the season the game players usually get some money and sit around bidding on food items. Usually their is one person hoarding his money for the really big food item. Problem is the other players are willing to give alot more money for this item so this person lets that item pass hoping to get something else. This usually means the mystery item where you could be bidding for cow tongue or whatever. And that is basically how I feel about the Cubs off-season.

We sat back and watched as all of the big time free agents signed for more money than we would want to give them. Always hoping something or someone else would pop-up. But we are left bidding on the mystery item of Magglio Ordonez. Is he a dud in waiting? Or is he fully healed? Much like the contestant on the TV show going home with a little more money in his pocket but no food in his stomach the Cubs are dangerously close to that reality. I am sure that contestant wished he just gave all his cash for the donut platter or whatever instead of going home hungry. And I am sure Cubs fans will wish they just ponyed up the money for a Benitez or a Beltran. It is much better than going home empty handed.

Anyways the list expands. Thome, Rolen, Pudge, Tejada, Drew, Vlad and now Beltran. The biggest offensive free agents of the last 3 years. And the most interest the Cubs had in any of them was when Thome just begged to have a meet and greet with the Cubs before the Cubs said, "Ummm no." Will Mags be added to the list by the end of the year?

Sunday, January 09, 2005

And Then There Was One

Another disappointing off-season is about to occur in Cubs land. With Beltran reportedly going to sign with the Mets that leaves Magglio Ordonez as the only option left on the market to dramatically improve the Cubs offense. And gosh golly gee, Scott Boras gets to focus all his attention now on getting Ordonez the most money he can. The Cubs couldn't of just tried to negotiate with Ordonez while Boras was distracted with Beltran, of course that is just silly talk. Let's just wait till Ordonez is the last good player left on the market and try and outbid 10 other desperate teams looking for an offensive upgrade.

So far my little prediction of Beltran and Drew not even coming close to signing with the Cubs has come true. Ordonez I predicted also in that group, is now the sole survivor. I know it is sick, but when I said the Cubs would come up empty handed again in the off-season I certainly never hoped it would come true. But it is just the grim reality of the way Hendry runs the team and how serious the Cubs as an organization are about winning a World Series.

I wan't the Cubs to sign Ordonez now, because who else is left? Don't have much choice now. But I kind of know the Cubs are not even serious about getting him either. Hendry didn't even bother to say one word to Beltran and he has not even said one word to Ordonez yet. And I doubt Hendry will ever meet Ordonez face to face much like Hendry never meets most of big time free agents. Hendry will offer Ordonez a classic low ball offer just like he did with Beltran and that will be the first, last and final offer from the Cubs. Boras will laugh that off and get Magglio signed in LA or NYY. Hendry will shrug like he always does and say, "We offered a good contract, he just wanted more money, oh well." "But look on the bright side Cubs fans we will have more flexibility to deal with free agents next year and beyond."

I don't know Hendry, how bout you get a free agent in the door. Sit down, have some dinner, discuss the history of the franchise, how you have a great chance in the future with the pitching staff. Pump the legend factor of winning a World Series for Cubs fans. Use Curt Schilling as an example. You never know a player might take a little cut in his contract. But I know damn well you will never ever get a free agent to sign if you do not even want to meet them and send out empty offers. If this is Jim Hendry's idea of running a team I can only hope he is fired very soon. Meet and greet, stop sitting on your fat behind thinking free agents will come flooding to the Cubs. Because, last I checked, they havent flowed to this franchise in the last 20-30 years. You might want to do something to fix that. Just a thought.

Hendry will do his best to distract Cubs fans with his shiny pitching staff in one hand while quickly hiding behind his back in the other hand the anemic Cubs offense. Just to put it in perspective the Cubs have added no one to last years offense. And lost Alou's production. The offense has actually become worse since last year which is frightening. I can't wait to watch the Cubs again destroy teams in 1 game 12-2 and then lose 1-0, 2-1, 2-0 in the next 3 games. I have watched this misery for the last 3 years. What is another year of it. We always have till next year to upgrade the offense, what is the god damn rush!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Cubs Make Offer

Well it seems the rumor of the Cubs actually sending out an offer to Beltran is true. But it looks more like a public relations move to say they tried, when they fail to sign him.

The main reason I believe this is because the Cubs don't even want to meet with Beltran himself.

But the Cubs and Boras have discussed only broad parameters, and Cubs general manager Jim Hendry has not spoken with Boras since last week. Hendry also hasn't met with Beltran personally and so far has no plans to do so.

You have to get Beltran and his agent atleast in the door if your serious about signing him. Like it or not, but Beltran want's to feel wanted. The Met's, Yankee's and Astro's all at some point have sat down with Beltran to express their interest. The Cubs? Well when your not serious about signing someone, you really don't need to meet that person face to face.

When Hendry actually gets off his fat ass and personally meets with Beltran, maybe I will actually believe the Cubs are serious about signing him. Until then, the Cubs are still the pretenders of the free agent market.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

No Diving = No HOF

And Another Thing! finds out who the idiot is writing an article on why Ryne Sandberg should not be a Hall of Famer. Basically the staff writer keeps repeating over and over because Sandberg's uniform isn't dirty he can't be a great fielder.

Yeahhhhhhhhh, ohhhhhhh kkkkkkkkkkkk.

Great fielders, Hall of Fame fielders, get to balls. For Sandberg fans, let me translate: That means diving for balls.

If Sandberg had dirtied his uniform, he would have Hall of Fame fielding stats.

And finally the ultimate judge of who should be a Hall of Famer.

The most damning stat for me? Sandberg led the Cubs to zero World Series. That's why the game is played, why Morgan belongs.

You hear that Ted Williams? YOU STINK! You shouldn't be a Hall of Famer because you never won a WS title! Cal Ripken? No Hall of Fame for you either buddy. If your ace in the hole for a reason why a person should not be in the Hall of Fame is he never won a WS title, your really a pathetic, petty, bitter man who can't find anything else negative to say about the man.

But what gets me is this...

And Sandberg had several advantages. He played behind great ground-ball pitchers, including one, Greg Maddux, who will be in the Hall of Fame. He played with one of the greatest fielding first basemen of his time in Mark Grace and a shortstop with excellent range and one of the greatest arms ever in Shawon Dunston.

Can anyone else remember the Cubs great ground ball pitchers that pitched along side Maddux? I don't even think the author knows of any either. But it looks good to talk about it 10+ years later like you knew all about them.

The author mentions Joe Morgan but never takes away from his accomplishments like he so half handedly does to Sandberg. I guess he forgot about Dave Concepcion that Morgan played along side with in Cincinnati who won 5 gold gloves to Dunston's zero. And let's not forget Tony Perez, who was on that team as well, he was a fine fielding 1B in his day. .992 career fielding % at 1B to Grace's .993. And then on top of that to talk down about Sandberg's offensive achievements. Sandberg didn't have the benefit of Pete Rose, and Johnny Bench either.

Wow, 3 Hall of Famer's (Pete is one, I dont care) , and a 9 time all-star (Concepcion) who had just as much to do with Cincy winning WS titles than Morgan ever did. Let us not forget that Morgan only hit .183 in 50 career post season games. So who was really leading the Reds to World Championships? Pete Rose was the guy, and Johnny Bench and Tony Perez did a hell of alot more than Morgan ever did to help those teams win a WS.

Morgan had those guys to fall back on to pick up the slack. WHO IN THE HELL DID SANDBERG HAVE TO CARRY THE DEAD WEIGHT? Certainly wasn't 3 Hall of Famers and a 9 time all-star. Sandberg was the Cubs offense. Morgan was NEVER the main offensive force of his team EVER. I am sure Sandberg could of put up much better career numbers offensively and defensively if he had that level of talent around him. If anything Sandberg's accomplishments should stand out even more with the low amount of talent they put around him for so many years and still year after year he produced.

A word of advice for the Sun Times, don't get a White Sox fan to weigh in on why Sandberg should not be a Hall Of Famer. That is like asking Redsox fans should Derek Jeter be a Hall of Famer? It always ends badly. This opinion might be more respected from a Cubs beat writer, but then again no Cubs beat writer would be dumb enough to come up with an article this stupid.