Archive for July, 2006

Who else?

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

Well if you’re the Cubs and you’re looking to a starter for a win then look no farther than Carlos Zambrano. This guy continues to amaze me from start to start; every time you look around he’s flirting with a no-hitter. Regardless of how things are going you can count on Z Man to deliver the goods; I would suggest, however that the Cubs ask him to pass on the World Baseball Championships the next time they come around. Z started slow but has been a rocket ever since; today’s victory came replete with 10 strikeouts and improved his record to 10-3. His ERA is now at 3.11 so he’s in the thick of the race for the NL Cy Young.

Tomorrow Prior takes the hill against the Nats and I’m not feeling so confident. I’d like to see Prior finish strong so that he has some trade value. Now I know that the Cubs have two years of club control left but how can we continue to count on this guy? He’s been to the DL seven times in less than five years fer cryin’ out loud. Trade him while he has some value left and keep Maddux – at least Greg wins more than 8 games a year. Sure, that sounds preposterous but if it’s wins and quality starts you’re after I’d much rather have Maddux back.

In unrelated news most of you know that Chris Speier has taken a leave of absence after his DUI. I’m not going to be pious and sanctimonious about that – I had one in 1992. But I don’t put myself in those situations anymore and I learned some awful hard lessons as a consequence of my actions – including the loss of a high-paying job. I just thank my lucky stars that no one except myself got hurt – hopefully Chris will come out of this a better person, unfortunately some people never do.

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Hello Nomar?

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

This snip comes from Barry Rozner today in the Daily Herald. Apparently there is a rumor of Maddux going to the Dodgers in a trade before the trade deadline along with Aramis Ramirez.

Not only is Dodger Stadium the best ballpark for Maddux, it might be the right destination for several other Cubs.

The Dodgers are the perfect trading partner because they need Maddux, third baseman Aramis Ramirez and any of the veteran arms at the end of the bullpen.

They’re also loaded with young players, and if the Cubs want to improve quickly, that’s one place they’ll look.

I can’t decide what I think about dealing a guy like Ramirez. On the one hand, he appears to have topped out valuewise and now would be the time to trade him. On the other hand, that would once again leave us with the infamous Ron Santo hole at third again for who knows how many years. The Dodgers do have an intriguing farm though. Here are some names for you to chew on:

Chad Billingsley (SP) – He’s been in the bigs this season and would give a great young arm. The chances of him moving are slim.

Andy LaRoche (3b) – Now this guy has the makings of a great replacement for us at 3b. He’s close to major league ready and will be a player very similar to Ryan Zimmerman.

Scott Elbert (SP) – This is a young lefty who has the potential to hit the mid 90’s with his fastball. He has made two starts for Double A Jacksonville and has an ERA of 0.82. He was promoted after pitching 88 and 2/3 inning of 2.37 ERA ball while striking out 97

One thing is for sure. If the Cubs do decide to work with LA, Jim Hendry better scrape for all he can get. It could be his last run at glory.

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Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

Here we go again.

Greg Maddux was asked whether his former Atlanta Braves teammate Tom Glavine had given him a private sales pitch, while Glavine was in Chicago with the Mets, about Maddux approving a trade to New York before the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

Maddux got a big grin on his face before trying to dummy up.

“Huh?” he said, dragging out the word for comic effect.

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Media Microscope: Phil Rogers

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

I will admit upfront to not being the biggest Phil Rogers fan. But I usually read his columns, because he’s the Tribune’s baseball writer, and I often get the feeling that his column is used by the TribCo as a trial balloon for various moves the Cubs might make. For instance, in my mind, it isn’t out of the question that Andy McPhail called Phil up the other day and asked him to write about what a good idea it would be to extend Dusty Baker’s contract.. While I’m sure in reality Phil thought of this by himself, a Cubs mandate might explain Phil’s feeble reasons for supporting an extension for Dusty. For one thing Phil says:

Baker offers you one thing you’re not going to get anywhere else stability. The greatest failing of the Cubs in the Tribune Co. era is the tendency to make knee-jerk decisions, never sticking to a course. Jim Riggleman is the only Cubs manager since Leo Durocher to last even five years. Why not give Baker six and see what happens?

Yeah! Stability! That seems like a good reason for keeping a manager. I mean, a stable organization is a winning one, right? Well, it turns out that stability argument is one of those that sounds right, but it doesn’t really hold up against things like facts. Let’s look at the managers of the World Series Champions for each of the last 10 years, and the number of years they had been with their team when they won:

2005: Ozzie Guillen, 2nd year
2004: Terry Francona, 1st year
2003: Jack McKeon, hired midseason
2002: Mike Scoscia, 3rd year
2001: Bob Brenly, 1st year
1998-2000: Joe Torre, 3rd through 5th years
1997: Jim Leyland, 1st year
1996: Joe Torre, 1st year

So much for stability. Joe Torre is the only manager in the last 10 years to have been with a team for more than 3 years and won the World Series, and that was while managing a baseball dynasty. We can also use this list to address Phil’s other reason for keeping Dusty:

Try as I might to come up with a better alternative to Baker, I’ve failed. You could grow with a Joe Girardi, but the Florida Marlins aren’t letting him go without Carlos Zambrano or Mark Prior as compensation. Lou Piniella would buy you good press and might catch some lightning in a bottle, but he’s not a long-haul guy. An unsung choice like Razor Shines, the White Sox’s Triple-A manager, could work wonders or be eaten alive.

He can’t think of anyone better than Dusty to manage the Cubs? Really? All the other good managers are taken? Or is it possible that there’s somebody out there who deserves another chance, or maybe their first shot? Looking at our list of managers, only Jim Leyland was hailed as an important hire at the time. Torre was coming off a sub-par stretch with the Cardinals, Mike Scoscia was considered solid, but he’d never managed in the big leagues before taking over the Angels. Brenly was yanked out of the broadcast booth and given the helm, McKeon was considered an over-the-hill baseball lifer, who was going to be a placeholder until 2004. Terry Francona was welcomed by Boston simply because he wasn’t Grady Little, and Sox fans widely believed that Ozzie Guillen had been forced on GM Kenny Williams by Jerry Reinsdorf as a way to keep costs down. So a manager can come from just about anywhere, and if the Cubs can’t sift through the minor league ranks, major league coaches and ex-mangers looking to get back in the game, then maybe they’re in the wrong business.

We’re not done with Phil Rogers yet though, because next he turns his pen to the next order of business: rebuilding the team for 2007. First the budget:

Hendry should have $30 million to reshape his roster for 2007.

Fine, so what should we do with that money? First, left field:

The likely free agents include Carlos Lee, Alfonso Soriano and Cliff Floyd, a left-handed hitter who would offer balance and come cheaper than Lee or Soriano.

Probably a good idea, the Cubs should definitely pass up two younger, healthier (more expensive) players and sign Floyd, a guy on the wrong side of 30 with a history of injury problems. Hendry can spend he money he saves on a front line starter, right?

Get Prior healthy. Invest most of the remaining flexibility in a top-of-the-line starter maybe not Barry Zito, but someone very solid, and then sign one or two bargain arms to round out a rotation that includes Carlos Zambrano and Sean Marshall.

Yeah, I guess it’s not such a bad idea to keep depending on bargain bin pitchers, I mean we got a good year out of Glendon Rusch back in 2004, and that Wade Miller signing sure paid dividends. Plus, we’ll need to replace Todd Walker. We’ll need an impact guy too, since Ronny Cedeno’s offense is so bad.

Mark Loretta tops the free-agent wish list, followed by Adam Kennedy and Ronnie Belliard

Signing Loretta at this point seems like a gamble, since he’ll be 35 next year. Belliard is a good hitter, but still doesn’t have a high enough OBP and Kennedy isn’t good enough. Oh, and none of these guys can hit leadoff, which we’ll need with Felix Pie in CF next year, right?

Offer Juan Pierre a low, one-year deal to stay and re-establish his maximum value as a free agent. If Pierre leaves, find a one-year Plan B. Felix Pie is going to be a force but might not be ready until next July.

I’m sensing a theme here. And it’s the same old song from the Tribune. Stay the course with the manager. Ignore all the impact(expensive) free agents, sign some middle of the road veterans, hope that Mark Prior is healthy and bingo! Instant contender!

Just like the last two years.

Update from Mastrick: I don’t know what Phil’s been smokin’ but I want some. I’ll betcha I know what Harry Caray would have said if he’d read this article!

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Do I have your trust?

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

In response to Dave’s recent post, I am reminded of a game show that I’m sure a lot of you remember. In the show, you were offered a prize with the idea that you would be able to trade it for what was behind a closed door or under a box. It was a high risk, high reward kind of thing.

Felix Pie went 1 for 5 last night to lower his average even further. His AAA struggles have many believing that he’s not the highly touted prospect many thought in the middle of last year.

On the season in AAA, Pie’s numbers are nowhere near his numbers last year. His batting average is down 48 points from last year’s .304 mark. His instincts on the base paths continue to neutralize his speed as he has 9 SB but has been caught 9 times as well. 50% success rate is way below the recommended to be effective 70%.

Jim Hendry has to make a decision very soon about if Pie is the future CF and leadoff hitter of this team. If he’s not, then Juan Pierre has to be looked at very closely at being the guy.

There was a chance that you could trade a decent prize with the hopes of getting something better and end up far worse off. That’s the way I feel with this team right now.

When you look at what we have, it’s easy to say that we should trade as many of them as possible and stock the farm like the Marlins. It’s easy to say we should dump Dusty Baker and bring in a guy like Lou Pinella. It’s easy to SAY all of these things, and they sound nice in your head. We’re trading in what we have in the hope that what’s behind door number three will be the answer to all our problems. There is a flaw in that hope though. That flaw lies in the person running the gameshow. In order for the Let’s Make a Deal show to work, there had to be good prizes available behind some of the doors and under some of the boxes to entice players to want to go for it. They knew that the people running the games knew how to run a game. The problem we have, is that the person running THIS game doesn’t appear to have a plan.

We can all admit that there have been times when he has been creative and made trades that make you ask yourself “what were those other GM’s thinking?” There are also times when you have seen him totally drop the ball in the free agent market. It all comes down to how much you trust the man running the game. If you trust him like the A’s trust their guy, then you sit back and let him do the worrying and know that it will all be OK. If you don’t trust him, then you question just about every move he makes and wonder what direction he has the team headed in. It’s all about your perception and feelings.

Jim Hendry has a decision to make about what to do with every member of this team, including the men that run the every day operations on the field. If you trust him, then his move will be the wise one. If you don’t, then his move, regardless of what it is, will be the wrong one.

As the deadline approaches, rather than evaluating who should stay and who should go, evaluate your trust in the man running the game. Before me make a deal, we have to know the game is in good hands.

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July must now have purpose

Monday, July 17th, 2006

Mastrick is dead on — this team must be ripped apart. The smartest thing to do would be to smear the roster in ground beef and throw it to the wolves, so that its shredded remains would have nary a recognizable name on it when they tire of playing with it.
These next 2 odd weeks should be treated as auditions for all tradeable players. Put Neifi, Mabry, Blanco, and all the other turds in the lineup every day. Let the rest of the league see them. On second thought, hide Neifi and put him in a plain brown wrapper when you ship him off. A good GM would be as embarrassed about receiving Neifi in a trade as he would be about getting porn in the mail.
So here’s my starting 8 for the rest of the season, featuring all moveable players:

C Blanco
1B Nevin
2B Walker
SS Perez
3B Ramirez (Yeah, I’d trade him)
LF Mabry
CF Pierre
RF Jones

The only players with any measurable value are Ramirez and Jones; the rest I’d take what I could get. Seems like someone would be willing to get fleeced for Pierre, and Todd, Neifi, Hank White, and Mabry are in the Larry Andersen category; perhaps we can get lucky and score a Jeff Bagwell. Take the heavy contracts, like Eyre, Howry, and Jones — and assume a heavy share of the burden. Money ain’t the problem; you want to get something in return.

Starting Rotation:
Maddux Rusch, (The rest are untouchable–Z–or available only in ripoff trades– Marshall, Marmol)

Dempster, Eyre, Howry, Novoa, Ohman, Williamson

The list of teams in contention is as follows:
Boston, New York Yanks, Toronto, Detroit, Chicago, Minnesota, Oakland, LA Angels, Texas, Seattle, NY Mets, St. Louis, Houston, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, San Diego, LA Dodgers, Arizona, Colorado, Atlanta

If I’m Hendry, I’m calling each of these teams 3 times a day each to ask if they need spare parts.
Their objective should be to have these fartbags unloaded by 7/31. at 35-56, Ryan Theriot and company can man the big league club with no worse chance to win. I’d rather play with this:

C Barrett, Geovany Soto
1B Lee, somebody to rest Lee
2B Theriot, Mike Fontenot
SS Cedeno, some other turd
3B Scott Moore, Casey Mcgehee
LF Murton, Restovich
RF Pagan, Buck Coats
SP Z, Marshall, Marmol, Guzman, Hill, Williams
RP Aardsma, Wuertz, Ligtenberg, Walrond, Emanuel, and just because of the name, Rocky Cherry.
And have the farm system filled with a few fresh faces.

That’s a crap ball club. But at this point all we have to do is go win 8 more games to avoid being the worst team in MLB history. Lee, Barrett, and Z alone could do that. Tell the rest of these floaters that they’ll have to play their hearts out for the rest of the year if they want to see the major leagues ever again; maybe their enthusiasm and energy will make the team more watchable.

The core of your championship run 3-5 years down the road is who I would keep: Barrett, Lee, and Z. Lee will be at the end of his productive cycle, Barrett will still be able to hit, and Z will be dominant. Sell them — and pay them accordingly– on their importance in that plan, and show your commitment to this plan by dumping everyone else and getting guys who will be helpful 3-5 years down the road.

The time to act is now, Jim Hendry! Do it, or we shall float, rudderless, beyond the 100 year anniversary of our last world series victory with no end to the misery in sight! If you act now, the of winning by year 101 or 102 goes from NONE to VERY SMALL. And that’s a change that’s very big, in my eyes.

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To 7734 with these Cubs

Sunday, July 16th, 2006

I’ve had it with ’em, they have no spirit, from top to bottom. Collectively they are losers. If the players on this team had pride they would perform better – they don’t. Hopefully they will turn this roster over from top to bottom. A losing attitude is contagious, just like a winning attitude.

Jokers like MacFail, Hendry and Baker certainly need to go , but the guys on the field don’t get the job done either. I’m ready for a fire sale. This team as presently constituted sucks and guess what – there’s little help coming from the minors. Most of our top draft picks appear headed toward obscurity or are already there. Ever hear of Jayson Peterson or Todd Noel?

It’s time for a total rebuild, Florida-style – the cancer must be eliminated. When you have a team that’s this bad you have to do what Detroit did – purge and rebuild. But first we need to get a top-notch GM and field manager.

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Is that the ol’ “V for victory” sign?

Sunday, July 16th, 2006

Just havin’ some fun, Cubs game is looking great so far, especially Marshall. I’ll write a recap after I finish watching the game.

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A Cub Fan’s Obsession

Sunday, July 16th, 2006

Checking out the links over to the right there might be one you are not familiar with. A Cub Fan’s Obsession is relatively new and the author is none less than our good friend and regular commenter Phil Zuber. Welcome to the blogosphere, Phil and may your readership flourish.

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