Archive for October, 2006

Gary Sheffield – Open Discussion

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

New York Yankees slugger Gary Sheffield, informed Wednesday that the Yankees will pick up his $13 million option in 2007, was angry by the decision, hoping instead the Yankees would let him go.

“”This will not work, this will not work at all,” Sheffield told USA TODAY. “I don’t want to play first base a year for them. I will not do that.”

Sheffield, who heard that the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Angels were interested him, said he was hoping to test the free-agent market and receive another three-year contract.

USA Today

Suggested areas to discus:
– Is he a solution the Cubs should pursue?
– Is three years reasonable?
– If he is a solution, flesh out how the OF might look
– Is he a future hall-of-famer based on his numbers? (View Career Numbers)

Have at it. Let’s fill the comment section. The goal is 100 comments.

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Um….No, but thanks for playing

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

I was cruising Pro Sports Daily and I noticed a curious headline that read “Screw Aramis”. The link was to the forum where a person who uses the handle “Cubswoo” had posted the following:

I am getting so tired of this Aramis situation.
How greedy do you have to be to want more money than the 2 years 22 million dollars left on his contract?
If he wants to opt out let him opt out and get more money elsewhere, he’s a good player but he’s no Albert Pujols, the Cubs would have finished in last place with or without him last year and most of his home runs were garbage home runs when the games were way out of hand. We can get a serviceable 3rd baseman for a quarter of what Ramirez wants for 1 year until Moore is ready and use the money saved by signing some good players that actually want to be here.

I’m interested in who this serviceable third-baseman he speaks of is. Perhaps it’s the great Vinny Castilla. Or maybe he wants youth and desires the wiffmaster, Russell Branyan. He doesn’t get into specifics. He does go on to say:

basic principle of business? It’s called GREED
How can a guy who never hustles and tries to catch balls with his head possibly ask for more money?
There is no doubt that he is a good player but he is not an elite player that can command a big raise just because he almost had 40 home runs in a year.
If he really wanted to win he would be happy with the 12 million the Cubs are paying him and not ask for 3 million more a year because that 3 million dollars can sign a pretty good free agent or at least help pay for an even better free agent that can help the Cubs win.

What made me laugh the most though was this:

I like the guys who go to management and are willing to take a pay cut and restructure their deals to help free up money to help the team get better.

I wonder what he would do if HIS boss called him into the office and asked him to take pay cut so they could hire another marketing person in the company. People need to remember, that baseball is a business. Cry all you want about greed, but if you were in the situation, you would do the exact same thing. You’d be a bad businessman not to.

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Time out for Prayer

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

Sometimes in the business of life, we forget to slow down and actually remember that life is fragile. Recently it was Cory Lidle who was taken way too young. Now, word is that it could be Erik Walker. Walker was boating in the New River near the Virginia/NC state line. Word is that Walker and his female companion flipped. She made it to shore to call rescue. As of now, he has not been found. These situations never seem to turn out right. Hopefully this is the exception. ~ FULL STORY

If you have no clue who Erik Walker is, he is a relief pitcher drafted in the 20th round in the most recent draft by the Rays. He was a Senior out of UNC Charlotte. In limited time in the big leagues because of when he was drafted, Walker managed twenty appearances. In that time, his numbers were: 3-1 with an ERA of 0.41 and a WHIP of 0.64. Granted, he was in low A ball. He’s not a guy that would probably be very valuable in a baseball sense, but all people are valuable in a human sense.

I said a prayer for Walker today. You ought to do the same.

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Another Japanese pitcher worth consideration

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

A few days ago I posted an article about one of the true prizes available in this year’s meager offseason crapshoot – a highly-touted Japanese pitcher that Seibu is “posting” by the name of Daisuke Matsuzaka. He is probably the best pitcher to ever come out of the Orient and he will be very expensive. He is also young and will likely be an impact pitcher for years to come. Estimates are that Matsuzaka will cost somebody a $20-30 million posting fee PLUS the multi-million dollar salary that agent Scott Boras will negotiate.

There is another quality Japanese pitcher that will be available this year and reportedly the Cubs are interested. That pitcher is the Hiroshima Carp’s Hiroki Kuroda, who has reached free agent eligibility and thusly will be much cheaper than his Seibu counterpart. Kuroda is known by the nickname of “Mr. Complete Game” and his career Japanese stats are posted to the right. Kuroda throws a mid-nineties fastball, a split finger (pictured above) and a “shuuto,” which is basically that crazy pitch that Maddux throws that tails in and down to right handed batters.

Reportedly Kuroda is a hardcore competitor but allegedly he throws too many fastballs. Given the lack of quality free agent pitchers in this year’s market he deserves close consideration by the Cubs; our usual assortment of Wounded Wing pitchers will not get us a .500 record let alone a division championship.

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Here we go again

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

Today’s Rotoworld reports that the Cubs are likely to re-sign Wade Miller for the 2007 campaign; it is also likely that Hendry will work out a deal that will bring back Kerry Wood as well. So here we are going forward after a disastrous season that was marred by injuries and guess what – our solution is to again rely on players who have consistent year after year injury records. When will we ever learn? The only good news is that another poor year will likely rid us of Jim Hendry and his failed policies.

In other Cubs news, former Piniella associate John McLaren chose to accept Seattle’s offer over the one that was made by the Cubs; it appears as though the favorite now for bench coach will be Alex Trammel. I do not view this as a pivotal role; no one has yet to satisfactorily explain to me what a bench coach does, other than being a crony of the manager. Lincoln Holdzkom continues to be lights out in the Arizona Fall League and former Michigan catcher and Cubs AA prospect Jake Fox has been putting up impressive offensive numbers.

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New Podcast Available

Saturday, October 21st, 2006

In this episode, Phil and I break down our opinions on the upcoming World Series. We share some historical tidbits and make our predictions for the winner and MVP. Head on over to to listen. We’re now part of the 360 the Pitch network.

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Finally, we’re getting somewhere

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

In the Tribune today, Larry Rothschild has something positive to say about the Cubs plan for Mark Prior.

“Going in we need to look at it like we can’t count on him, and if he’s back it’s a big plus,” Rothschild said. “We can’t get caught short. … You hope if he does everything he can, and if everything happens the right way, you have a pitcher who’s obviously going to help.”

This is what I like to hear. It’s the mindset the Cubs should have had last year. Instead, we counted on not only Prior, but Wood, and Wade Miller as well. Those three assumptions came back to bite us.

The Cubs need to go into this season as if they have never even heard of Mark Prior before. We need to treat him like he was when he first burst onto the scene, an added bonus. If we get 10 starts out of him, great. If not, oh well, we’re prepared anyway.

That being said, in my mind right now, I see the rotation looking like this:

1. Carlos Zambrano
2. Rich Hill ~ I hope he’s as good as we saw
3. Sean Marshall ~ I’m giving him a shot
4. ?
5. ?

That leaves us with 1 lock and 4 question marks. I’d fill the rotation from # 2 to 5 with two players from our system (i.e. Marshall and Hill) and then I would go out and get two arms.

Obviously, it would be very unrealistic to assume the Cubs would make a run at Barry Zito AND Jason Schmidt, but I think one of them is reasonable. Barry Zito would be my first choice. That would leave another spot to fill. I’d take a good look at the following and make my play:

  • Jason Marquis
  • Adam Eaton
  • Vicente Padilla
  • Gil Meche

There isn’t a lot on the market this year. We need to get what we can and hope that the losing last year gave our pitchers the big league experience they may not have gotten otherwise. Hopefully that will help in the long run.

Ryan Dempster gets the vote of confidence

He also endorsed the return of Ryan Dempster as the Cubs closer, saying one bad stretch should not erase the job he did in 2005.

“He just let things get to him a little more than the year before,” Rothschild said. “He knows what went wrong, and there was nothing wrong arm-wise or velocity-wise.”

I’m fine with this move. I’ll be honest with you. I never put much stock in closers. One minute, Brad Lidge is the best in the game, one Pujols blast later and he’s terrible. Guys are up and down and I think Ryan will be back next year in full force.

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Some idle Cubs musings

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

Well it’s the best time of the year for us Cubs fans, the offseason. A time when we all have hope, some of our young ballplayers are already playing fall baseball and pitchers and catchers report in just four short months.

Speaking of pitchers, Mark Prior is in the news again. The new word/excuse is that he has “loose joints;” Prior is still months away from pitching and both orthopaedic specialists said that he needs to strengthen his shoulder. STOP THE PRESSES! Mark Prior needs to condition himself! My perspective is, the sooner we get rid of this guy, the better. He has to be one of the biggest busts in Cubs history when you consider what he could have been; he’s Kevin Brown without the good years.

Also, the Cubs are going to bid on the rights to negotiate with the Seibu Lions’ star pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. Daisuke was 17-5 this year with a 2.13 ERA. He is a power pitcher and he will cost some team $20 million just for negotiating rights – that money will go to his erstwhile Japanese team and you can bet agent Scott Boras will get top money from the Cubs, Mets, Yankees or Red Sox. Adding this guy, Jason Schmidt and Carlos Lee would put the Cubs right back in contention in one year.

Kerry Wood is throwing the ball from 50 feet and is working out with the Cubs in Arizona. I suspect he will be given an incentive-laden deal but we’ll have to see what Uncle Lou (pictured above) thinks about that. Cubs prospects appear to be playing well in the Arizona Fall League, with relief pitcher Lincoln Holdzkom leading the way.

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I’m in love with my Uncle

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

As I made perfectly clear, my first choice for manager was Bob Brenly. My reasoning was that he would come in with a plan after seeing the team for the last two seasons. Since then, I have changed my stance. After watching yesterday’s press conference, I have come to realize that I am beginning to acquire a healthy man crush on my Uncle Lou. Obviously, this is wrong on many levels, but I just can’t help myself. Lou is everything I need and more in a manager.

One of my biggest pet peeves about a team is lack of hustle. I can deal with losing if I know they did everything they could to prevent it. Dusty didn’t take care of this issue in his tenure here. One of the main things Lou said yesterday was that his teams “always hustle”. Preach on, brother. You’re speaking my language.

Piniella also talks about his view that with the right pieces, this team can win right away. Again, my eyelashes are beginning to bat in your direction Uncle Lou. Keep whispering those sweet nothings in my ear. I’m liking how they sound.

What’s that you say, Uncle Lou? Look at your what? Yeah, that ring you have does sparkle nicely. It sure would be nice to see the Cubs sport them too. Piniella brings a World Series to the table. That alone speaks volumes to players. When you’ve got a guy that brings winning to the table, guys are going to listen. Piniella took a Pete Rose coached Reds team from 5th place under Rose to a World Series the next year. I seem to remember the Cubs playing pretty poorly this year. Perhaps Piniella can do the same in Chicago.

I know that I could be setting myself up for failure and heartbreak by falling in love, but it just feels so right. Why don’t you join us?

On a side note, the latest podcast is posted. We’re now a part of 360 the Pitch network, so we’re excited about that. Visit our site to listen via the player right on the website. It’s very convenient. ~

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