Archive for November, 2006

Notes From Out West – AFL Update

Thursday, November 9th, 2006

Here is a quick update on how our Cubs are doing in the Arizona Fall League as of Wednesday night.

Eric Patterson – 2b (Pictured Right)
The Cubs could have themselves a very nice player to man second base in the next year or two. Eric Patterson, Corey’s little brother, hit very well in AAA Iowa in 17 games. He’s raw with his fielding at times, as evidenced by his 3 error performance this summer against Carolina. However, he stole 46 bases and was caught just 12 times. That works out to about 82% success rate, which is above the 70% rate needed to be statistically worthwhile.

In Arizona, Eric is hitting .354 and has already stole 10 bases. He’s been caught just twice. His OBP is at .420 which is a very nice stat. Keep this up and he could be at Wrigley sooner than later. On a side note, he’s a very nice kid to interview as well. I was encouraged after talking with him this summer.

Lincoln Holdzkom – MR
Spent the majority of the season with West Tenn and pitched very well this season in the minors. In 25 appearances he had an ERA of 1.76 in 46 innings of work.

He has pitched in 15 innings to date in the AFL with an ERA of 4.20 and an opponent batting average of .245

Carmen Pignatiello – MR (Pictured Left)
Spent most of his season with West Tenn out of the bullpen. In 67 IP, Carmen had a 2.69 ERA with an opponent average of .234 and 78 k’s.

Out in Arizona he has pitched in 5 games for a total of 4.2 innings. He has given up 2 hits and struck out 6. Opponents are hitting just .118 against him and he has an ERA of 0.00

Jake Fox – C
Fox split his season between Daytona and West Tenn. He struggled a bit at West Tenn, but overall, hit .294 on the season with 21 HR and 86 RBI in just 121 games. His OBP of just .350, including a paltry .304 at West Tenn leads me to believe he’ll need a full season there before moving to AAA.

Out in Arizona, things are not going well for him, despite the 3-for-6 performance from Tuesday in which he had 6 RBI. Overall in Arizona, Fox is hitting just .245 with and OBP of .275.

Scott Moore – 3b
Some say he is the heir apparent to Aramis Ramirez. I’m not crossing my fingers on that one. Fox is a low average type of hitter that has some pop in his bat. He spilt time between AAA and AA and hit 22 homeruns with 75 RBI.

In Arizona, he’s had 3 HR, but is hitting .253. He has come on of late, so that may be a good sign of things to come.

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E-Mail From Len Kasper

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Got an E-mail from Len yesterday asking me to promote his Len and Bob Base this January. I’m a big fan of Len and Bob and I’m always glad to help. Here are the details, per Len’s E-mail.

Chicago Cubs television announcers Len Kasper and Bob Brenly announced plans today for their inaugural “Len & Bob Bash” concert that will be held Thursday night, January 18, 2007, at the House of Blues. Ryan Adams will be the concert headliner and all proceeds will be donated to Chicago Cubs Charities.

“Bob and I have both been treated so wonderfully by everyone in Chicago and we have been looking to find a way to give something back,” said Kasper. “We both love music and with the Cubs Convention set to start the next day, we hope this will be a fun and rewarding way to kick off the baseball season in Chicago.”

“When Len came to me with this, I thought it was a great idea,” said Brenly. “This is going to be a very fun show for a great cause. Chicago Cubs Charities does great work in town and we’re excited to be able to add our support with this event.”

Tickets go on sale to the public on Saturday, November 11 at 10am and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets, by calling 312-559-1212, or at www.ticketmaster.com. There will be an exclusive internet pre-sale of tickets beginning Wednesday morning November 8 through the House of Blues at www.hob.com/venues/clubvenues/chicago/

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Cubs in the News

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Here are some highlights from around the newspapers:

Pat Gillick said yesterday the Phillies won’t bid for the right to negotiate with Japanese all-star third baseman Akinori Iwamura, or any other Japanese player, for that matter.

The Phils might seek third-base insurance from a part-time player such as Mark DeRosa or Wes Helms but, unless they are in the Aramis Ramirez sweepstakes late in free agency, Manuel expects Abraham Nuñez to be the man on the corner.

Sources say the Cubs are among the bidders for the 26-year-old Seibu Lions star, whom many scouts believe is a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. Teams have until 4 p.m. today to submit bids for negotiating rights to Matsuzaka, who is being represented by agent Scott Boras.

The New York Yankees are expected to make the highest bid, with the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and Cubs also expected to make rich offers. Some estimates have the top bid reaching $30 million — just for the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka, who is expected to seek at least $10 million annually in a multi-year package.

I want to pose three questions for the readers of this post today.

1) How much will it take to win the bidding sweepstakes? I think it will be 26 million from the Mets

2) Should the Cubs be going after Matsuzaka given the history of Japan’s starters who have come over?

3) How many games will Matsuzaka win in his first season and what will his ERA be?

The bidding wars end at 4pm EST. As far as I know, then the Japanese team has 14 days to decide if they will accept the bid or not. They are supposedly not told who the bid belongs to, only the amount. I’m not sure that I trust that, but I’ll take MLB at their word. If the bid is NOT accepted, the money is returned to the winning team. So with that being said, don’t expect this to end today.

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Revisiting the 1990 Draft – Part 2 of 2

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006

Baseball America ran a nice little interview about a week ago on Donald Veal. If you’re not really sure who that is, he was a 2nd round pick in 2005 by the Cubs. He is a left handed starting pitcher that had a great season down in the minor leagues and has Mastrick and I pretty excited. I hope to catch up with Veal this summer when they face the Carolina Mudcats.

2006 Numbers
11-5 with a 2.16 ERA and .175 BAA

11. Shane Andrews (Montreal / BR Page) Andrews was drafted out of Carlsbad High School in New Mexico. He had a lot of raw power and was moved from SS to 3B. Unfortunately, that power would never translate to huge numbers in the big leagues. In his best season, Andrews played in 150 games, hitting 25 homeruns. Unfortunately, he was strictly a power or nothing type of hitter that struck out 137 times that season. He was released by the Expos and signed as a free agent by the Cubs, who were desperate for warm bodies to occupy the hot corner. Andrews was not the answer. He would be out of baseball after 7 mediocre seasons, hitting a career .220.

12. Todd Ritchie (Minnesota / BR Page) Drafted out of Duncanville HS in Texas, Ritchie was a one good season and done type of pitcher. After being released by the Twins in 1998, Ritchie was signed by the Pirates for a low risk deal. That deal paid dividends as Ritchie went on to win 15 games, and posting a career best, 3.49 ERA. In 2002, the White Sox would take a chance on him by dealing Kip Wells, Sean Lowe, and Josh Fogg to the Pirates in return for Ritchie’s services. Todd would win 5 games and lose 15 for the Sox and would leave via FA that off-season.

13. Donovan Osborne (Cardinals / BR Page) Drafted out of the University of Nevada, Osborne would go on to pitch for the Cardinals and Cubs before leaving baseball in 2004.

14. Todd Van Poppel (Oakland / BR Page) This was one of the most hyped player of the 1990 draft. He was dubbed a future star and baseball card collecters all around we psyched to get their hands on the rookie card for this kid. His best two years would come out of the bullpen for the Cubs in 2000 and 2001.

15. Adam Hyzdu (Giants / BR Page) High Schooler out of Ohio who was a free agent compensation pick from the Astros.

16. Dan Smith (Texas / BR Page) Starting pitcher out of Creighton, the school that produced Bob Gibson, made just two starts in his major league career and pitched a total of 29 innings. But hey, can you beat that haircut?

17. Jeromy Burnitz (NY Mets / BR Page) I have always like Burnitz and was very excited to see him come to Chicago to replace Sammy Sosa. He did a good job for the Cubs in RF, hitting 24 homeruns and driving in 84 RBI while playing in 160 games. He’s been very durable in his career and has hit over 300 career homeruns. Baseball Reference has him similar to players like Eric Davis, Jay Buhner, and Darryl Strawberry. Those are very good comparisons.

18. Aaron Holbert (Cardinals / BR Page) This poor kid, drafter out of high school as a shortstop with a pick via the Red Sox thanks to FA compensation. He made his debut in 1996 at the age of 23 and played in 1 game, going 0-3. He would not see an major league field for 9 years when he finally got another shot from the Reds. He hit .222 and retired. Talk about patience though. To wait that long to get another shot at your dream has to be commended.

19. Eric Christopherson (Oakland) Christopherson was originally drafted by the A’s as a catcher late in the 1987 draft but opted for College to refine his skills. He bounced around the minors but never made it to the big leagues, reaching the AAA level at best.

20. Mike Mussina – (Baltimore / BR Page) We got our first potential hall of fame player to come out of this draft at number one. Here, at number 20, we get our 2nd, this one out of Stanford University. Mike Mussina has been one of the best pitchers in the league since making his debut for the Orioles in 1991. To date, Moose has 239 wins and just 134 losses. What are your thoughts? Is he a future hall of fame member?

21. Thomas Nevers – (Houston) Shortstop out of Edina High School in Edina, MN. Nevers would “never” reach the big leagues. Pardon the pun.

22. Steve Karsay – (Toronto / BR Page) – Karsay had a fairly effective career as a MR. He was also born on my birthday. Can’t beat that. He finished his career with 347 appearances and a 4.01 ERA in 11 years.

23. Lance Dickson – (Cubs / BR Page) Highly touted Cubs prospect with a great curve ball. He pitched 3 games in the majors, each one a little worse than the one before. In the off-season he had surgery on his arm and he was never heard from again. What a bummer that we didn’t pick next instead and get the guy who came at 24.

24. Rondell White – (Expos / BR Page)

25. Robbie Beckett – (Padres / BR Page) Left handed pitcher who pitched 7 innings in the majors with an ERA of 11.57. Ouch!!!!

26. Donald Peters – (Oakland) – Righy out of the College of St. Francis in Colorado. He never made it to the majors.


Other Draft Notables not picked in Round 1

  • Ray Durham (Round 5 / Chicago White Sox / BR Page)
  • Mike Hampton (Round 6 / Seattle / BR Page)
  • Troy Percival (Round 6 / Angels / BR Page)
  • Andy Pettitte (Round 22 / Yankees / BR Page) – Perhaps the 3rd potential hall of fame player to come out of the class of 1990.

    Jorge Posada (Round 24 / Yankees / BR Page) – Man, the Yankees had a good draft, getting Carl Everett, Andy Pettite, and Jorge Posada.


    Players from other Sports

    Greg McMurtry (WR drafted by the NE Patriots in 1990)

    Rodney Peete (QB drafted by the Detroit Lions)

    Bimbo Coles (14 year NBA veteran who averaged 7.8 points per game)

    Check back next Monday when we break down the 1991 draft
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  • Revisiting the Amateur Draft – 1990 (Part 1 of 2)

    Monday, November 6th, 2006

    This is the first of what I hope to be a fun series where we look back at the draft and see what has come of it. If you know anything about sports, you know that the baseball draft is the biggest crapshoot out of all drafts in pro sports. Because of that, it’s fun to take a look back with hindsight and see who did well and who dropped the ball. I plan on looking at the first round, with a seasoning of important notes from other rounds. With that being said, let’s start by taking a gander at 1990.

    1. Chipper Jones (Atlanta / BR Page) – Chipper was a high school player, which usually, I shy away from when it comes to scouting the draft. Generally, research shows that a college player has more chance of success, despite the huge temptation of a high school player. Chipper has defied the odds and has turned into a potential hall of fame third baseman / Outfielder. He’ll pass the 2000 hit mark in 2007 and has a shot at 400 homeruns with two average seasons. Notable notes: 5 time All-Star, World Series with Atlanta in 1995, NL MVP in 1999. Good pick for the Braves. Not only do they get a great player, but they have groomed him through their system and have kept him on the team for his entire career.

    2. Tony Clark (Detroit / BR Page) – 2nd high school hitter and this one again turns into a major league starter. While Clark has not had the same level of success of Chipper Jones in the big leagues, he has been an average major league hitter. Playing with Detroit for the first seven years of his career before moving on to Boston, both NY teams, and finally Arizona, Clark has over 1000 hits, 227 homeruns, and a career OBP of .341, which is respectable. He finished 3rd in the 1996 Rookie of the Year balloting. Notable Notes: 2001 All Star

    3. Mike Lieberthal (Philadelphia / BR Page) Once again, another team goes high school and once again, it turns out a winner. Mike Lieberthal has been a staple behind the plate for the Phillies since making his debut. He’s not a hall of fame catcher, but he has been a winner with the fans and the pitching staffs. The knock on his career is the injuries. Five different trips to the disabled list has cut his career a lot shorter than it should have been.

    4. Alex Fernandez (Chicago / BR Page) This is the first college pick of the 1990 draft and some may look at Fernandez as a bust. I disagree. He had double digit wins for the White Sox on four separate occasions, winning as many as 18 in 1993 as the White Sox won the division. Signed as a Free Agent by the Florida Marlins in 1996 for 7 million dollars per year, Fernandez pitched well before retiring a few years later. He finished his career with a record of 107-87 and an ERA of 3.74. Respectable numbers if you consider how many picks bust.

    5. Kurt Miller (Pittsburgh / BR Page) Here we get our first bust of the draft. I don’t find it to be a coincidence that it is a high school player who fits the build. Miller was drafted and then traded a year later to the Texas Rangers for one of my favorite Cubs, Steve Buechele. Later he would be moved to the Marlins, where he would make his MLB debut in a deal for Chris Carpenter. The deal saw Texas sending Rob Nen and Miller for Carpenter. Miller would make nine starts in his career and pitch the majority of his short career out of the pen. He would finish with just a shade over 80 IP in the majors.

    6. Marc Newfield (Seattle / BR Page) Another high school pick, and another bust. Newfield played in 355 games. He finished with .249 batting average.

    7. Dan Wilson (Cincinnati / BR Page) Dan Wilson, in my mind was one of the most underrated catchers in the majors for a good portion of his career. He was a reliable backstop for Seattle. He spent the majority of his career with Seattle after being traded by the Reds for Erik Hanson and Bret Boone.

    At this point, we get two bad picks as the Indians select shortstop Tim Costo out of the University of Iowa who would not produce in the big leagues very well. The Dodgers picked next and selected Ronnie Walden, a left-hander out of Blanchard High School in Oklahoma. Walden would fail to reach the big leagues.

    10. Carl Everett (Yankees / BR Page) I don’t know how you feel about Carl Everett. Maybe you feel like he’s a loser because of what he says and maybe you don’t. He’s often been controversial in his comments, saying such things like: “God created the sun, the stars, the heavens and the earth, and then made Adam and Eve. The Bible never says anything about dinosaurs. You can’t say there were dinosaurs when you never saw them. Someone actually saw Adam and Eve. No one ever saw a Tyrannosaurus rex.” and “Gays being gay is wrong. Two women can’t produce a baby, two men can’t produce a baby, so it’s not how it’s supposed to be. … I don’t believe in gay marriages. I don’t believe in being gay.” Regardless of his opinions, you can’t deny that Carl Everett had a serviceable Major League career, hitting .271 with a .341 on base percentage. He was an All Star in 2000 and 2003 and finished 17th in the 1999 MVP balloting.

    That’s a wrap on part 1 of the 1990 draft in review. Please let me know your thoughts. Positive feedback is always encouraging and makes the research worth it. Tomorrow, i’ll bring out part two of the series, which include the rest of the first round and other notable picks from other rounds and even other sports.

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    Unchained fury

    Sunday, November 5th, 2006

    This week I noticed that the Cleveland Indians’ website had posted an update on my childhood baseball hero “Sudden” Sam McDowell. Sudden Sam terrorized the American League during the mid to late 60s; at times he was clocked by both laser and radar at 103 mph. His control was at best erratic, but boy could he bring it! He had a career ERA of 3.17 and had two seasons where he struck out over 300 batters.

    McDowell was a hard-drinking man and he could also be a mean drunk, he participated in several barfights. After being effectively banned from baseball and having lost his wife and children, Sam entered a 12 Step program and began selling insurance for Colonial Life and Accident. After that he became a certified addictions counselor and sports psychologist; he worked for both the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays as a team therapist. Since choosing a life of sobriety McDowell also became involved in helping former athletes transition into life after superstardom; as a counselor for the Baseball Assistance Team he continued to help former players who hit hard times. Said Sam: “Whether it’s financial, emotional, psychological, physical or addiction problems, I know the serious needs for medical help athletes need as they get older.”

    Sam has also been active in creating the City of Legends, a retirement community in Florida that caters to the needs of retired professional athletes. Cleveland fans have wondered for years just what might have happened had McDowell not been susceptible to the disease of alcoholism. When questioned recently about this McDowell responded: “How many fewer people would I have helped?”

    That’s when I realized that the fireballing lefthander of my childhood wasn’t the hero, it was the 64 year-old retired baseballer bearing the same name.

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    Sunday Morning Speedinking

    Sunday, November 5th, 2006

    Happy Sunday morning. As we get ready for some football, here is morning reading for you.

  • Sammy Sosa coming back? – (ESPN)Honestly, does anyone even want this guy? Didn’t he learn his lesson when all he could get was a crappy deal from the Nationals?
  • Does this blog really exist? This is sad that he is getting this much hype. – (Matsuzaka Watch)My question is, what will happen if this guy gets tons of money and then stinks up the joint. If i’m a GM, i’m not touching this guy. If he busts, your head will roll. At least if you don’t get him and he dominates, you can blame it on the bidding system.
  • Is the Best of Five Series Good? – (BP Subscription Required)
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    Gold Flub

    Saturday, November 4th, 2006

    The Gold Glove award has long been a topic of debate, and often a fun one. However, it seems that it has become increasingly common for the award to be given to players in part due to oversimplified statistics, or career defense, or even offensive prowess. I don’t mind that it is voted on by the managers and coaches of their respective leagues, but perhaps their assessments should take a different approach. It feels like the managers and coaches are voting for the players that they personally have the most respect for on the field, as opposed to who actually played the best defense of the regular season.

    As you may know, there is now a healthy amount of progressive statistics and methods being created and amassed around the internet with the objective of more accurately gauging the quality of player and team performances. Below are the recepients of the official 2006 MLB Rawlings Gold Glove award compared with the results of the statistically replete Baseball Think Factory (based predominately on Zone Rating). This may beg the question, is MLB or BBTF more correct? BBTF does admit that their methodolgy needs some adjusting. However, I doubt that MLB would concede that their system is in need of modification.

    In parentheses next to the Gold Glove winner is their defensive rank according to BBTF. Some of the disparities are alarming.

    Catcher
    MLB: Ivan Rodriguez, DET (1st of 14)
    BBTF: Ivan Rodriguez, DET

    First Base
    MLB: Mark Teixeira, TEX (6th of 15)
    BBTF: Chris Shelton, DET

    Second Base
    MLB: Mark Grudzielanek, KC (3rd of 14)
    BBTF: Aaron Hill, TOR

    Third Base
    MLB: Eric Chavez, OAK (7th of 13)
    BBTF: Brandon Inge, DET

    Shortstop
    MLB: Derek Jeter, NYY (12th of 14)
    BBTF: Juan Uribe, CWS

    Outfield
    MLB: Torii Hunter, MIN (9th of 13 CF)
    MLB: Ichiro Suzuki, SEA (3rd of 16 RF)
    MLB: Vernon Wells, TOR (2nd of 13 CF)


    Left Field

    BBTF: Emil Brown, KC

    Center Field
    BBTF: Corey Patterson, BAL

    Right Field
    BBTF: Alex Rios, TOR

    Pitcher
    MLB: Kenny Rogers, DET
    BBTF: N/A


    Catcher
    MLB: Brad Ausmus, HOU (14th of 20)
    BBTF: Yadier Molina, STL

    First Base
    MLB: Albert Pujols, STL (6th of 13)
    BBTF: Scott Hatteburg

    Second Base
    MLB: Orlando Hudson, ARI (9th of 15)
    BBTF: Jose Valentin, NYM

    Third Base

    MLB: Scott Rolen, STL (3rd of 13)
    BBTF: Pedro Feliz, SF

    Shortstop
    MLB: Omar Vizquel, SF (2nd of 16)
    BBTF: Adam Everett, HOU

    Outfield

    MLB: Carlos Beltran, NYM (2nd among 14 CF)
    MLB: Mike Cameron, SD (4th among 14 CF)
    MLB: Andruw Jones, ATL (13th among 14 CF)

    Left Field

    BBTF: Dave Roberts, SD

    Center Field
    BBTF: Juan Pierre, CHC

    Right Field
    BBTF: Brian Giles, SD

    Pitcher
    MLB: Greg Maddux, LAD
    BBTF: N/A

    Justin Wolfson is a writer for Rays of Light

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