Archive for December, 2004

The solution to the Alou dilemma

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2004

The revelation that Moises Alou urinates on his hands to help build callouses was, I thought, worthy of a nickname. However, I grappled with varieties of “Pee-hands” for the whole year last year without settling on anything right.

I think I finally found it:

Wherever Alou ends up, I hope fans of that team will embrace the nickname as warmly as a Michael Jackson embrace to an eleven year old boy.

When I am ninety-six years old I intend to mature, but not one day earlier.

Update: Alou signed with SF today for 2 years

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Monday, December 20th, 2004

WHY, oh WHY, oh WHY WHY WHY does Sosa have to be such an ass? His declining production would be easier to live with if he weren’t such a bad teammate and didn’t get hit SO MUCH in the press for all the boneheaded things he did over the last two years.
We could still win a pennant (or at least a wild card) with Sammy and his bloated contract if he had the sort of personality that the other guys in the clubhouse could get along with, and if it were the kind of personality that he projected while things were all going his way back in ’98.

We could also live with him if Mr. Mystical Player’s Manager himself would suck it up and take one for the team by flying down to la Republica Dominica, giving Sosa some big speech about going out with a bang and how much we need him and how he loves him and needs his best and blah blah blah until Sosa’s steroid-and-ego-inflated head grows like the Grinch’s heart while the Whos down in Whoville are singing. Then it would require Sammy responding with an olive branch of his own by reversing his recent attitude and just playing ball.

Instead, Baker, who got the best out of surly Mr. Bonds all those years, can’t seem to coexist with Sosa, and Sosa can’t seem to coexist with anyone or anything except his wife, to whom he renewed his vows (aww…how romantic) recently. The glimmer of hope is that he was slummin’ with Mets GM Omar Minaya, who was invited to the re-wedding.

And about that production. In win shares, Sosa’s 14 was below the following outfielders:
Moises Alou (26; a big year)
Jason Bay (18; a rookie who makes about 1/27th of Sosa’s salary)
Corey Patterson (19)
Milton Bradley (17, and a man whose personality is as sunny as Sosa’s is sincere)
Reggie Sanders 16
Jay Payton 16
Marquis Grissom 16
Michael Tucker 15
Scott Podsednik 15
(Thanks to the Hardball Times for the data)

VORP? Sosa compiled a 27.9, below Juan Rivera (30.2), but because this has less to do with plate appearances, Sosa does much better. He’s slightly above Matt Stairs (25.1) and Reggie Sanders (23). The guys at the top of right fielders all kick his butt: Guerrero 88.5, Abreu 83.8, Berkman 83.7, Drew 83.7, Suzuki 80.9, Sheffield 63.4. He’s 13th overall.
(Thanks to Baseball Prospectus)

Sosa’s .277 Equivalent Average puts him 14th among right fielders with more than 400 plate appearances. Only the greats, such as Jeromy Burnitz and Juan Rivera, can beat that, and he was almost edged out by Jose Cruz, Jr. (.272), Jermaine Dye (.274), Brady Clark (.276), and B.J. Surhoff (.279 but 22 plate appearances short). (thanks to Baseball Prospectus again)

In other words, for 16 million a year the Cubs got Juan Rivera’s career year. They got a middle-of-the-pack right fielder. Now, if you had an excellent pitching staff, offensive production from some traditionally low-offense spots like SS (Garciaparra), 2B (Walker) and C (Barrett), good hitters at the other high offense spots like 1B (Lee), 3B (Ramirez), and LF (???????), a decent bullpen, and a couple of hitters off the bench, you could make the playoffs despite that handicap. If, that is, that handicap wasn’t such an ass that he manages to irritate his manager, the guys he shares the clubhouse with, and the fans.

The guy just broke the team record for homers — he oughta be riding out his declining years in a lovefest! The only reason he’s not is because of his defective personality.

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Graduation Present

Saturday, December 18th, 2004

Nothing would make me happier than a trade of Sammy Sosa. What a perfect graduation present that would be. I noticed this article this morning that gave me a little hope. The Mets seem to be the only serious contender in this thing. Maybe, just maybe, Minaya has one more dumb move left in his bag of tricks.

New York Mets general manager Omar Minaya met with Sammy Sosa’s agent in the Dominican Republic on Friday, and sources said the possibility of Sosa restructuring his contract to facilitate a deal was broached.

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Stupid Jerks, Stupid Teams, and the Right Thing to Do

Thursday, December 16th, 2004

Stupid Jerks

The stupid Atlanta Braves made a huge move today, acquiring Tim Frickin’ Hudson for Charles Thomas, Juan Cruz, and Dan Meyer.


Hudson, Smoltz and Ramirez — who missed the final four months of the 2004 season with shoulder soreness — will fill the voids created by the departures of Paul Byrd, Jaret Wright and Russ Ortiz. Those three hurlers exited Atlanta via free agency this year.

The Braves have shown interest in acquiring Hudson for over a month, but the talks really didn’t come to life until the A’s said that Marcus Giles didn’t have to be part of the deal. Braves manager Bobby Cox made it known that he was unwilling to trade Giles.

With this deal, the A’s are acquiring some of Atlanta’s top young talent. Oakland has been very high on Meyer, a promising 24-year-old southpaw. Thomas was one of the Majors’ biggest surprises last year, going from a non-roster player to a defensive gem in left field.

Cruz will likely get his long-anticipated shot at being a starter in the A’s rotation. The lanky right-hander has an outstanding fastball and has been compared by some observers as a raw Pedro Martinez.

Thomas was a rookie for the Braves last year; a left-handed hitter who turns 26 in ten days. You can see his stats here. Interestingly enough, Thomas was a former Western Carolina Catamount, which my colleague Joe attends.

Juan Cruz we’re familiar with. 6-2, 2.75, 30 BB to 70K in 72 innings, 50 relief appearances last year. He’s now 26 years old and thinks the A’s might use him as a starter. This is his golden opportunity to become a star.

Dan Meyer had 2 appearances last year in the majors. He’s a 23 year old lefty reliever who’s put up nice numbers in the minor leagues.

Charles Thomas is the kind of guy the Cubs should be going after to back up in the outfield and play occasionally. He’s cheap, motivated to prove himself, and a decent hitter, judging by his minor league stats and his debut last year.

I wish the best for Cruz, and he’s in a great organization to achieve his potential now. Dan Meyer seems like a good choice. So the A’s got a good pitcher (Cruz) who poses significant upside as well as risk — he’ll probably end up back in the bullpen if he does start; a lefty starter who’s maybe half a year to one year away (Meyer), and a backup outfielder. The prize is Meyer; Beane got good value for Hudson.

The Braves get a giant shot in the arm and suddenly the disappearance of the improbably effective trio of Wright, Ortiz, and Hampton is not as big a deal, ‘cuz we know Hudson can outpitch all of those scrubs even in their best years.

Stupid Teams
So far the Cubs have avoided any major blunders, so I’m pleased to say they’re not on the stupid team list.
However, the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners are earning giant, overpriced cone-shaped caps with the word “DUNCE” upon them.

The Mets have done this:
-Signed mediocre Kris Benson to pretty big money.
-Signed Pedro Martinez, a great pitcher, to big money. Okay, tried to, pending the physical. Ideally, what would be best is that Pedro’s physical results scare the crap out of the Mets and they panic and trade for Sosa. Minaya will act as chemotherapist to the Cubs’ cancer, Sosa can have a fresh start and I can wish him the best.

The Mariners have done this:
-signed First Baseman Richie Sexson to big money. He’ll play LF (if they can sign Delgado and maybe even if not) during the beginning of his declining years, and hit a lot of long fly balls in Seattle.
-Re-signed Dan Wilson. WHY? Even for free he’s a rip-off at this point.
-Signed Adrian Beltre. I actually give them credit for this deal. They didn’t go too long — he’ll be turning 32 just after opening day the year after the 5 year deal expires, and they are paying him an average of 13 mil per year. They’re ASSUMING he’s going to be at least 90 percent of the player he was in 2004, but I think it’s a good gamble.
-However, they have SO MANY problems all around the diamond that throwing money at free agents is not going to move them to the top of the standings. They ought to have saved the money and kept working to build their team from within.

Across town, the White Sox submitted themselves to a completely unnecessary anal probing by getting Podsednik and Luis Vizcaino for Carlos Lee. Lee’s 28 and coming off of a big year. Podsednik is 28 and coming off of an absolute crap year which represents 50 percent of his major league career. Lee’s been pretty steadily around .825 to an .850 OPS, which doesn’t make him a star, but it doesn’t make him Scott Podsednik, either. Oh, and they got a 30 year old relief pitcher who’s one year from a 6.39 ERA.

But the granddaddy dunces are the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose special olympics-style decision making led to Big Benjamins for Glaus, whose arm is likely shot, and Russ Ortiz, whose 112:143 walks:strikeouts ratio speaks ill of his chance for continued success. These two are solid ballplayers, but they’re overpaying by a LOT. Last year’s worst team also added offensive zero, Craig Counsell, who hits like Rey Ordonez, Royce Clayton, who has hit worse than Ordonez a couple of years, and hired and fired a manager within a week. Baseball season will end in Spring Training for the length of the Ortiz & Glaus contracts in Arizona. Oh, wait a minute; I take it all back. They also signed, to a minor league deal, legendary catcher Kelly Stinnett. Now THAT’s progress.

The Right Thing To Do
The City Council of Washington, D.C. may have doomed baseball in Washington, but they saved the taxpayers of said district from bearing the burden of constructing a stadium by requiring that 50 percent of the money be put up from the private sector. JESUS BLESS THEM! I don’t care what kind of deal they made with MLB. Any time the owner of the team — the ones who stand to profit from the team — is required to pay for the team’s facility, it is a victory for the taxpayer. As big a baseball fan that I am, funding sports stadiums is NOT what tax money is for. Let the owners of the team be the financiers. I guess they don’t have an ownership group finalized yet (do they?), but that’s irrelevant. That’s my opinion and I’m stickin’ to it!

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A Parable

Wednesday, December 15th, 2004

There once was a man who lived long ago in the United States. One of two boys in the family, he lived his life in the shadow of his older brother. Everything he did was always compared to his brother. No matter what he did, he brother always seemed to do it better and get all the praise. His brother had nicer clothes, nicer toys, and everything the brother wanted, he received. The younger brother worked very hard for everything he had, yet it never felt like it was enough.

One day, the man was browsing the local newspaper when he came upon an ad for a used car, a red Dodge Viper. Reading the ad, it seemed too good to be true. It was a beautiful car, based on the picture in the paper, and the details also seemed spectacular. He quickly called the number listed, hands shaking as he dialed. He thought to himself as the phone rang, “Could this finally be my chance to outshine my brother?” When the owner picked up, the man quickly expressed his interest in the car. After hearing the owner drone on about the vast amount of other people who had contacted him about the car, the man quickly requested a meeting to discuss price.

On his way to the meeting, the man’s thoughts continued to wander back to the fact that he could finally get the praise he deserved and drastically craved. Pulling up the house, he saw his dream car. After some small talk, the owner and the man decided on a price for the automobile, $50,000 to be paid in monthly increments to the owner over a period of four years. The man was weary about the steep price but hesitently agreed. He asked the man if he would be willing to let him take the car to the mechanic before signing the contract. Immeadiately the owner became very defensive and short with the man. “Why do you need to do that? Don’t you see how much of a steal you are getting with this deal?” said the owner. The man was hesitant but again asked for the opportunity to bring the car to the mechanic. Again the owner declined, this time more angry and defensive than before, bringing up the fact that a vast number of other people have already contacted him about the car. He told the man to quit wasting his time if he wasn’t serious about the car. He offered the man the opportunity to take the car for a quick test drive. In the end, the man decided to sign on the dotted line and the deal was done. He was finally going to outdo the older brother and be the benefactor of enourmous praise and envy.

In case you hadn’t heard, Omar Minaya of the New York Mets signed Pedro Martinez yesterday to a huge deal, despite the pitcher’s history of injury and rumors speculating that he has a tear in his labrum. When Minaya asked Pedro to have an MRI as part of the physical, Pedro and his agent essentially acted as the owner of the automobile and laughed in the man’s face, instead offering to take a simple strength test to demonstrate health. Minaya, like the clueless pansy he is, wanting only to outdo his older brother organization the Yankees, reluctantly agreed to this request.

Minaya, you’re clueless, which makes me happy. Maybe, just maybe, you REALLY ARE dumb enough to take Sammy Sosa. Thank you for uplifting my hope once again.

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Poor soul

Monday, December 13th, 2004

Ah, another poor soul falls victim to the rumors. This time the person is Mike Comar over at Cubs Pundit, which happens to be one of my daily reads.

At least Baker knows the closer is important. It is a very sensible approach I believe. It will take some balls to actually name Wood as a closer though.

I believe a rotation can get by with 2-3 excellent starters and the rest average to mediocre at best. You don’t need good starters 1-5 in your rotation to win 90-100 games a year. Mark Prior, Carlos Zambrano, and Greg Maddux make a nice 1-3 combination.

And if you really want to get whacky the Cubs could make Wood a closer and pursue the idea of maybe swapping Johnson and Sosa or somehow prying away Tim Hudson from the A’s.

Not only is Wood as a closer completely made up, but the very thought that he considers Maddux an excellent starter is absurd. He is average. He is one of my favorite players but I do not consider him an excellent starter at this point in his career. If that weren’t enough, the last sentence about Hudson is just way out of left field. With all the pitching the Cubs have in the minors, there is no way we would spend the money on Tim Hudson. For what? To make him a starter? We have Kerry Wood for a starter. Cub fans, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but the closer for 2005 is none other than your average Joe…Borowski that is.

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Sunday Morning News

Sunday, December 12th, 2004

The morning news on Sunday is quick becoming one of my favorite things to post. It seems there was a lot of news happening yesterday, so lets get to it.

Matt Clement close to deal with Anaheim & Cubs possibly looking at Sexson for LF

I know this doesn’t sound like Cubs news but it is. Clement was recently offered arbitration by the Cubs to ensure draft pick compensation if he were to be signed. Apparently Cleveland and Arizona are also interested, but as of this time, the Angels seem to be the serious contenders.

I’m happy with this, because I have recently become a casual fan of the Anaheim Angels. I’ve been reading The Pearly Gates this offseason and am the proud owner of the Angels in an online sim baseball league. Check em out. Because of all these factors, I am very excited about seeing one of my favorite Cubs on a team that I can root for. Good Luck to ya Matt.

As far as Sexson goes, I have mixed reactions. He has not played enough games to really show me he can do the job consistently. Just because you have no errors, it doesn’t mean you can play the position well. How is his range? Does he get a good jump on the ball? He’s a big, lanky guy so I can’t possibly see him being a good OF. There has to be a reason why he was moved to first base, and that scares me.

Red Sox sign grandpa Wells.

This signing made me laugh. About 2 weeks ago, I was talking to Dave about who the Cubs should sign. He mentioned David Wells. At the time, it didn’t sound like that bad of an idea. Well, then I picked up a copy of David Wells book, Perfect I’m Not. In this book, he chronicles his life through baseball as a rebel. Personally, it has made me despise David Wells. He talks about how Albert Belle and Barry Bonds aren’t bad guys, just misunderstood. Misunderstood my butt. This guy is an idiot. In addition to that content, Wells also chronicles his extensive history of injuries. Year after year, this guy has undergone surgery, DL time, etc. He’s taken so many cortisone shots that they no longer give their desired effectiveness. His body has grown immune to them. He says it himself. To me, this seems like a stupid move for the Red Sox, which makes me smile a great big smile. Make room on the DL guys, Wells will be there shortly.

Pavano tells agent he wants to be a Yankee

It seems to me that I had this one correct. Pavano was the obvious Steinbrenner signing if he couldn’t get Pedro, and no one actually thought he’d get Martinez did they? Going back to my sim baseball league again for a minute, I would like to share an experience I had with Mr. Carl Pavano. Following the 2004 season, my Angels were in dire need of a solid # 1 to anchor my very young staff of kids. Who was on the market you ask? Millwood and Pavano. Since Millwood did not like my organization, I decided to go for Pavano. In the end, I signed him to 3 years at 11.5 million per. That was a hefty signing and one I was nervous about. I figured that in 2004, Pavano put up good numbers, so why not take the chance.

2004 Numbers: 10-3 with a 3.23 ERA and a 1.13 whip in 26 starts for Florida
2005 Numbers: 11-7 with a 5.33 ERA and a 1.47 whip in 33 starts for Anaheim.

Fed up with him and his high salary, I ship him to St. Louis for Scott Rolen, who was struggling immensely and a 1st rd pick. What does he do for the Cards?

2006 numbers as of May 31: 4-4 with a 2.17 ERA and a 1.25 whip for St. Louis.

What a bunch of crap. Anyways, back to real baseball. I think Steinbrenner made a mistake with Pavano. I don’t see him having the kind of year he had in Florida in 2004. Look for him to put up numbers similar to 2005 in my league.

Illinois wins again.

An easy win over an Oregon Ducks team that will make the tournament come March. They are young and had only played 3 games to this point due to their final exam schedule. They really were not able to hang with Illinois. Luther Head, who has been the uncredited star of this team, along with Roger Powell, led all scorers with 23 points. The Illini take a little break now from games due to the holidays and exams, but don’t look for them to relinquish their # 1 ranking anytime soon. Look at the upcoming schedule:

Dec 19 Valparaiso
Dec 22 Missouri
Dec 27 Longwood
Dec 30 Northwestern State
Dec 31 Cincinnati

Looks like Illinois will be ringing in the new year as # 1 in the nation. I wonder where Wisconsin will be.

ND continuing to screw up their program.

At this point, I think I may as well refrain from talking about the Irish. All they do is embarrass themselves, their fans, and their reputation as the University of College Football. They fire Willingham to get Urban Meyer. Only problem was that they didn’t get Meyer. So now they have egg on their face and decide to rely on reputation alone and pursue big names like Gruden, Wannie, etc, all of which turn them down. Now, it looks like it will be Charlie Weis. Weis is the Patriots offensive coordinator, which doesn’t impress me one bit. Everyone knows that the main reason the Pats are so good is their defense. What I don’t understand is this. When you saw that Meyer wasn’t coming, why not admit your mistake publicly and then beg Willingham to come back. He did not even get his 5 years to see a full recruiting class go through. Notre Dame, you embarrass me.

That’s it for today. Let me know what you think. I always love hearing from the readers. E-mail Me or drop me a comment. Either way, expect to get a reply.

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Hats off to Hendry

Friday, December 10th, 2004

Allow me a moment to give praise to Mr. Jim Hendry.

Here is his legacy:
-He was the head of drafting while the Cubs drafted Wood, Prior, and Zambrano.
-He was the brain behind the Hundley trade.
-He netted Lofton and Aramis Ramirez, the third baseman of the future who’s already had a great present, for a guy who put up a roughly .710 OPS and some other turds.
-He threw some bones –like Macias, Ramon Martinez, and Henry Blanco-to his manager without sacrificing the majority of at-bats. These are players whose statistics, offensive and defensive, may not justify their inclusion on the major league roster, but make Dusty Baker, who is a habitual winner, VERY happy without sabotaging the starting eight. He’s keeping the manager happy at a cost of 450 at-bats a year.
-He’s keeping alive the possibility of trading Sammy Sosa long beyond the time when Sosa’s value justifies any other team picking him up. Look, the fact of the matter is that Sammy produced some runs for the Cubs. But his value to the Cubs — a .330 OBP and .500 SLG for 18 million — is more than what he could fetch in a trade. He’d help the club the most in the #6 hole, but there are enough statistical studies to say that the position a guy bats in the lineup over the 162 game season is not relevant enough to demoralize 12.5 percent of the team’s offense that Sosa batting 3rd for 2005 and being motivated is much better than pouty Sosa batting 6th. Take the hit and let Walker, Garciaparra, and cheap Dopirak/Kelton talent in LF offset the overpriced albatross in RF.
The fact is that we have above average hitters at C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B and average hitters in RF and CF, and average-to-below-average hitters in LF. We have way, way, way, way above average starting pitching and adequate relievers. One more free agent signing, either in LF or closer — and we’re the realistic favorites in the NL Central. Without them, we’re favorites for the wild card. Either way, the credit must be given to Jim Hendry.
So if we end up with Sosa, we’re looking at this kind of lineup:

2B Walker
SS Garciaparra
1B Lee
RF Sosa (he’s only 4th because he’s a jerk and Dusty’ll probably “respect” that)
3B Ramirez
CF Patterson
C Barrett
LF Dopirak/Hollandsworth/Kelton/any other turd who steps in
P pitcher slot

That lineup, plus the rotation of:
Zambrano (the real ace)

and the bullpen of
??? (closer)
The Professor and
Mary Ann

make for a team that will be able to battle for the division crown. I like the idea of throwing money at Robb Nen to see if he can still close. I can’t think of a guy, outside of a games-played JD-Drew-incentive contract, that would put the playoffs in the bank; at this point all we can do is hope.
All I know is that, since Jimbo played the Nomar, Walker, and Clement situations JUST RIGHT, I’m more hopeful coming into this year than any other year. And 3 weeks ago I was more upset and pessimistic than a Washington Nationals fan.
Go Cubs! In Hendry we trust!

Oh yeah, one more thing. NO team, apart from a certain New York pinstripeed team with a 168 million dollar per year local TV contract is capable of swallowing a silly Sosa-esque contract than the Cubs. So if the Cubs WANTED to sign Magglio Ordonez to a 2 year, 19.5 million dollar deal to push them over the top, they could do it. But I’ll put good money on the fact that they won’t.

Which means, once again, that we’ll be watching a team that needs a few breaks to get deep into the playoffs rather than watching a team that ought to be the FAVORITE for the NL championship. Assuming that all goes well with Barrett, Nomar’s health, and the rest of the loose ends, that’s exactly how close the Cubs are.

By the way, the Nomar signing instantly puts us at #1 in the wives’ pool. Some might say that Jennie Finch gives the D’backs the edge, but I’ll take Mia’s scowl any day of the week over Finch’s overly-made-up face. Plus, Jennie never wore a “Daigle” uniform in a game…

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File this one under “Stupid Parents”

Thursday, December 9th, 2004

What is wrong with the world today?

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) — An 8-year-old girl was suspended for nine days for bringing to school what appeared to be about 30 “Jell-O shots” — though it was unclear whether they contained alcohol.

The incident occurred November 29, as the girl stood after classes outside Geraldine Boudreaux Elementary School in Terrytown, a New Orleans suburb. A teacher spotted liquid dripping out of the student’s bookbag and found what looked like the small cups of alcohol-laced gelatin that are sold in bars, schools spokesman Jeff Nowakowski said.

The girl told the principal that her mother, who works in a bar, makes alcoholic shots at home and sells them at work. The fourth-grader said her mother had instructed her to take the shots to school and sell them, three for $1, to make some money for Christmas, Nowakowski said.

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