Archive for November, 2005

Rule 5 day and my prediction for the 2006 Cubs Opening Day lineup

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

Just a reminder, December 8th is when the Rule 5 draft occurs. Some of the Cubs that will be exposed to Rule 5 include Richard Lewis, Mike Fontenot, Russ Rohlichek and Brandon Sing. Don’t be surprised to see Fontenot or Sing going somewhere in a trade because they will likely be claimed in Rule 5.

That having been said, here’s my prediction of who Dusty will start on Opening Day: Furcal SS, Perez 2B, Lee 1B, Ramirez 3B, Mench RF, Murton LF, Patterson CF and Barrett C. Starting pitchers will be Prior, Zambrano, Maddux, Byrd and Rusch. Kerry Wood will be on the DL for the first week or two getting his arm strength up. Walker will go to Texas in a trade for Mench.

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The latest on Furcal

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

This one just came in fresh off the wire from Rotoworld.com:

Rafael Furcal’s agent, Paul Kinzer, met with both the Braves on Tuesday and a associate met with the Dodgers. Kinzer said Furcal would likely decide between those two teams and the Cubs by Monday.

Kinzer’s meeting with Atlanta didn’t seem to go very well. He said the Braves have bettered their original offer, now offering at least a guaranteed fourth year. Still, it’s unlikely they’ve come all that close to the offers from the Cubs and Dodgers. Fortunately for Atlanta, Furcal still may choose comfort. “It has never been about the money,” Kinzer said. “If it had been, the Braves and Cubs would have been [out of the running] already. There were at least three teams from major markets that would have gone higher than the Braves and Cubs.” For what it’s worth, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution believes he’s leaning toward joining the Cubs. Nov. 30 – 1:01 am et
Source: braves.mlb.com

So I guess I’d better get used to the idea of Furcal at short and Neifi at second…

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Hendry visits Furcal (not vice versa)

Tuesday, November 29th, 2005

Hat in hand, Jim Hendry went to Georgia today to speak with Rafael Furcal and his agent. This from the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan:

The Cubs made one last push for free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal over the weekend and expect a final decision before the end of next week’s winter meetings in Dallas.

General manager Jim Hendry met with Furcal at his Georgia home on Sunday, hoping to convince him Chicago would be a perfect destination.

Both Hendry and Furcal’s agent, Paul Kinzer, declined to comment on the meeting. The Cubs and Atlanta are considered the two main suitors for Furcal…Since the final offers may be similar in valueóaround $10 million per season for four or five yearsóFurcal’s future may ultimately come down to where he feels most comfortable playing.

Furcal’s affinity for Braves manager Bobby Cox could be a deciding factor, though he’s also close friends with Cubs shortstop Neifi Perez and third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who have been lobbying on the Cubs’ behalf for the last month.

So I guess it comes down to whether or not Furcal wants to take yet another run at a championship with a manager he likes and a teamful of burgeoning prospects or take a chance at a team with a $100 million payroll and a feel-good clubhouse atmosphere and management that doesn’t “push too hard.” What makes you feel better, Raffy?

Sullivan also insinuated that the Cubs are close to signing utilityman (corner outfield, third and first) John Mabry to a Cub contract. Sullivan envisions Mabry as playing a role similar to Todd Hollandsworth in 2004 – I envision Mabry as being Jose Macias’ replacement. Let’s hope my vision is more accurate than Sullivan’s!

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Belated Welcome

Monday, November 28th, 2005

Back in the saddle after a harrowing week at my brotherís hospital bedside. He suffered a massive heart attack last week but is doing better now. Details can be found on Blessings & Other Stuff.

Thatís why it has taken me so long to welcome our newest VFTB colleague, Mark (aka ìMastrickî). No longer am I the newbie of the group and gone is the status of being the elder statesman of the brotherhood.

For some reason, I thought you were European, Mark. Have you ever used the word ìarse?î

Now, regarding the Cubs.

eyrebhowry

I think Hendry is doing a good job so far. Both Eyre and Howry will solidify a bullpen that needed some work. We now have a bridge between starter and closer that should hold the weight of a major league season.

As for Chrisí comments on Corey and our outfield. I have come around to the consensus that Patterson is a lost cause. But two things bother me a bit. Chris, you said Corey was ìThe worst overall outfielder on a team that played the likes of Jeromy Burnitz and Todd Hollandsworth in 2005.î I think you could have made your point without trashing Jeromy and Todd. And although Hollyís production was not to his standards, Jeromy did fine. Why trash these guys?

My other thought while reading the Corey pieces from all you guys is that while Patterson is justifiably berated for not listening to his coaches and an unwillingness to adjust his approach to hitting, I rarely find any mention of the same as it relates to Kerry Wood and his unwillingness to adjust his mechanics. He seems to get a pass whereas Corey does not.

What say you?

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Brian Giles

Monday, November 28th, 2005

From Rotoworld.com:

The Blue Jays made what were described as “significant inroads” over the weekend in their pursuit of Brian Giles, a person familiar with negotiations told The Globe and Mail.
The Jays will announce the signing of B.J. Ryan today and they still hope to add either A.J. Burnett or Giles. “We’ve had a number of conversations with the Blue Jays and all of them have been positive,” agent Joe Bick said. “But the truth is we just found out last Wednesday that there was no chance of getting anything done with the San Diego Padres and now we’re moving forward and looking at our other options. Toronto’s one of them.” Nov. 28 – 3:50 am et
Source: Toronto Globe and Mail

Why aren’t the Cubs interested in this guy? He’s available for the same money Furcal is and he has a propensity to crush balls in Wrigley. Last year his OPS was over .900 and it’s rumored that he just wants a three year contract. Furcal on the other hand is a shortstop (we don’t really need one) and it will be harder to find a bopper like Giles than a leadoff hitter. I don’t know what Hendry’s smokin’ but I want some.

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More on Corey

Sunday, November 27th, 2005

Well, since nobody asked me, I guess I’ll throw in my opinion on the Corey Patterson situation. I’m sure it will shock no one that Corey Patterson can’t get out of Chicago fast enough for me. Corey’s problems are obvious: he has terrible strike zone judgement, he thinks he can hit any pitch out of the park(and he does), he is a terrible bunter and he has a very long swing, which negates his tremendous speed. On defense, he is capable of making terrific plays, but also makes more than his share of brutal ones. He doesn’t judge flyballs well in the outfield, relying on his speed and athletic ability to make up for the bad routes he often takes. However, he does possess that wonderful speed, and good power for his position, which is what has kept him with the team this long. Patterson teases us so much with what he could be, we overlook what he is. The worst overall outfielder on a team that played the likes of Jeromy Burnitz and Todd Hollandsworth in 2005.

Is it too soon to give up on Corey? Not for this team. Everyone on the Cubs coaching staff from Garry Mathews to Gene Clines to Dusty Baker himself have expressed puzzlement over Patterson’s struggles, and they’ve all implied, at various points, that Corey’s problems are in part due to his refusal to listen to any instruction. And while there might be a coach out there who could get through to Corey, the Cubs decision to retain Dusty Baker and all his coaches would indicate that Patterson likely won’t be unlocking his potential in 2006. Combine that with the fact that the fans will be calling for his head the first time he swings at a pitch in the dirt, and Chicago just doesn’t seem like a good fit for Corey.

So the question is, what do we do with him? As Mastrick pointed out, Patterson made $2.8 million last year, and will likely get a raise this year (the 25% cut is a nice thought, but it never happens). Corey simply can’t be in the plans as the opening day centerfielder, not if Jim Hendry doesn’t want to burned in effigy. He could be used off the bench, but most of the better bench players and pinch hitters are guys who know how to mentally prepare, and can do what the situation calls for, namely lay down a bunt, make contact with runners on, or draw a walk to start a rally. Patterson isn’t capable of such things, and $3 million-plus is a lot of money to spend on a guy who would be a far worse pinch hitter than Jose Macias. So I think the Cubs need to cut the cord here. Corey won’t command much in a trade (as evidenced by the fact that he wasn’t claimed off waivers before being sent to AAA last year) but sometimes you’ve got to simply cut your losses. Joe compared dumping Corey to building a dream house and giving it away, but I think a better analogy might be this. You’ve begun building your dream house, only to discover that the land lies on an abandoned coal mine, and the entire thing is sinking into the ground. Should you continue to build, or sell the land and try and recoup your losses? Neither decision is particularly lucrative for you, but it’s pretty obvious which course you should take.

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Rumor Mill

Sunday, November 27th, 2005

Rumors are swirling everywhere around Juan Pierre and it’s making my head spin.

Pierre to Chicago Cubs?

Pierre to White Sox?

Pierre to Dodgers?

AND NOW?

Pierre to Rangers??

It’s all getting a little crazy and just needs to end. I really think we WILL get Juan Pierre, even though a lot of reports have him going to the Sox. I’m confident on this one.

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The Patterson problem

Saturday, November 26th, 2005

Okay, it’s time to beat a dead horse again. Jteezy and I got into another discussion about what to do with the Cubs enigmatic centerfielder. My concern at this time is that the Marlins have cut enough salary to where they are under the $40M ceiling they wanted to get to – I suspect that they are really turning the screws now on Hendry to get Pie for Pierre. I’m also suspicious that Hendry is using Pierre as a foil in his discussions with Furcal’s agent – why else is this deal not done?

In either case it’s time to send Mr. Patterson on his merry way. Every day on Rotoworld I see where this major leaguer or that is playing in Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico or the DR. They aren’t doing it because they have to, they’re doing it to hone their skills. And where is Corey? Sipping Cuba Libras on a beach in Copacabana? Eating hotdogs at the Varsity in Atlanta? He sure ain’t working on his ability to hit, in fact he hasn’t done that since he donned a major league uniform.

Corey is the same player he was when he came up – he is flat-out resistant to change. His attitude is “stay the course.”

Jeez Louise, haven’t I heard that somewhere before?

Accordingly I call on the Cubs to set a firm timetable, a commitment to when and in what steps they will deal with the “Patterson problem.” I wish to go on the record now as favoring a “cut and run” solution. Let’s let this loser go – if anything it will send a message to the team about bucking the management. I go on record now for releasing Patterson no later than December 8th (if he cannot be traded) and signing Kenny Lofton to a two year contract by the same date if Juan Pierre cannot be obtained.

Joe’s Opinion:
My thoughts on this “issue” is a more optimistic one. I have not given up on Corey Patterson. We all acknowledge that the talent is there. Everyone is mad at him for not going to winter ball to work on his skills. However, let me present some arguments for you to consider.

1. Winter baseball in a foreign country can be just as frustrating, if not more, than playing in the U.S. – When you are in a place where you don’t have any friends and sometimes do not speak the language, it makes it even tougher to focus. All Corey would be doing there is growing more and more frustrated.

2. Sometimes you need to step back. – We all have jobs that sometimes get us down. We go through a spell where nothing we can do is going well. I have it happen in teaching. I go through times where no matter how easy the math concept is that we’re working on, the kids look at me with dumb looks on their face. I grow frustrated and need to take a step back and rest. It is usually God’s timing that those are the times where things like Thanksgiving break and Spring Break come along. The same goes for Corey. After last year’s complete failure in which nothing was going right for him, maybe the answer is not more baseball, but less baseball.

3. Corey is coming to the prime age of his career. – At this point of careers, players begin to figure things out and put up their best numbers. Should this scare the Cubs into keeping Corey? Certainly not, but it does deserve consideration. We know that the numbers can be put up, because he did it in 2003 before he got hurt. At this point in his career, he could be primed to breakout.

4. Stubbornness? – I read in the Pete Rose book that he was not stubborn or selfish when refusing to change positions to help the team. It was the way he was told and not asked to change positions. Now, obviously I am not in the dugout or on the practice field when the coaching staff is working with Corey, but perhaps this is the issue. Maybe the coaches are not asking him for his opinion, but rather, just telling him what he needs to do. I’d like to know if this is the case, because perhaps this is the issue for Corey.

5. We have so much invested in Patterson – We’ve come this far, so why trade him or, God forbid, release him as is talked about above? It would be like investing tons of money in building your dream house and then giving it away to whoever gets there first. That would be stupid. At this point, we need to circle the wagon and give Corey one that try. Until we have someone better to fill his shoes (Pie – perhaps) then why not hold tight. Last time I checked, we were a little short on good outfielders. So, unless you want Jose Macias getting the start as the fourth OF, it would be wise to hold on to Corey and see this investment through.

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After Thanksgiving Housekeeping

Friday, November 25th, 2005

As you slowly recover from a case of massive over eating, let me inform you of some subtle changes I have made to the site in the last 48 hours. First, I updated the poll on the right. I left the last one up for a long time on purpose to really get a good feel for the five starters that people most wanted to see on this team next year. I’ll put the results into a post sometime this weekend.

The second thing that I did was update some of the team blog links. I went through all of them and got rid of some dead blogs that were not being updated on a regular basis anymore. What you see down there should be fresh and entertaining blogs for each team in the league. Give them a look. Also, if you find that I have missed a great blog that covers a certain team, please let me know so I can add them to the list. My goal is to always have a fresh set of links that can be resources for the readers when they want to know what the other teams are doing or thinking.

The third thing I did was update the Cubs Blog Army links on the right. With the CBA site not really doing much these days, I took it upon myself to make sure the blogs on the right are the ones in the army that are consistently bringing consistent content just in case you get bored with us. Make sure you check all of them out.

The fourth thing I did was update the meet the staff page to reflect our new welcomed addition of Mastrick aka: Mark Strickler to the staff. We’re excited about having him so make sure you check that page out and take a look at his bio.

The fifth thing I did was to update the recommended reading section of the site. I added a bunch of books to the list, with links to the Amazon.com page where you can purchase the book. These are all books I have read, with the exception of the Banks to Sandburg to Grace book that Tommy used all summer. All of them are excellent reads and I highly recommend them for you to pick up and read.

That’s about it for now. I’d like to close by saying a big THANK YOU to all the readers out. This site is just over two years old now and I am loving every minute of it. I look forward to being here for a long long time. Please, if there is any way we can improve the site, please let me know by shooting me an e-mail or catching me on AIM for a quick chat. I’m online all the time. Enjoy your leftovers, and don’t worry about the mess. Our sexy little maid will clean it up.

Also, if you want to, Bet On Football

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