Archive for December, 2006

Rotation Set with Addition of Marquis

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

Jim Hendry, despite having health issues, has wasted no time in assembling our 2007 starting Rotation.

Here are your starters.

Carlos Zambrano

Rich Hill

Ted Lilly

Jason Marquis ~ News Story

Wade Miller

What I like about this is that we don’t even mention Mark Prior or Kerry Wood. If those guys come back healthy, all the better. In the meantime, we also do not mention Marmol, Marshall, or Guzman. That should allow us to have some nice depth this season if we have injury issues.

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Rule 5 results

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

The Cubs lost five players and took two in this year’s Rule 5 draft. Gone are the following:

  • Lincoln Holdzkom – he’s the most likely to make an immediate impact with the team (Houston) that drafted him. Holdzkom was a highly-touted Marlins prospect that was acquired last year for Todd Wellemeyer. He pitched well for West Tenn but he does have some baggage – he had TJ surgery the previous year and he’s had some issues getting along with managers – he was kicked off his Arizona Western college baseball team for insubordination. That notwithstanding, I’m surprised that Hendry protected Adam Harben and not Holdzkom;
  • Richard Lewis – We got Lewis as part of the Juan Cruz trade with Atlanta; Richard was a dud for two straight years at West Tenn, after having posted decent numbers at Iowa. I’m surprised that anybody wanted him in Rule 5 but apparently the Royals couldn’t do without him;
  • Ed Campusano – this is the loss that bothers me; Campusano has been a serviceable lefthander who has been quietly working his way through the Cubs’ minor league system. Campusano was immediately traded by the Brewers to the Tigers, where he has decent chances of making it. Ed had a 1.75 ERA in 25 IP for the Diamond Jaxx this year; he struck out 34 while walking 8. Quite frankly, I’m at a loss as to why Hendry protected C Jose Reyes and let this guy go;
  • Jason Smith – I didn’t even know we had this guy, evidently he is the Jason Smith that Colorado had at the Sky Sox. Apparently Smith was drafted in the 23rd round by the Cubs in the 1996 draft. Somehow we musta gotten him back, and
  • Andy Shipman – Andy put together excellent numbers at West Tenn and respectable numbers at Iowa and was selected by the A’s. This was a situation where you can’t protect everybody.
  • Here are the guys the Cubs drafted:

  • Josh Hamilton – selected #1 overall by the Devil Rays in 1999, Josh was expected to be a premier lefthanded hitter in the Bigs. Injuries sustained in an auto wreck and issues with cocaine have really hampered his rise to the majors. Hamilton was doing some work as a tree pruner when he got the call informing him that the Cubs had drafted him and then passed him along to Cincinnati in a prearranged deal, and
  • James Henderson – this guy must be a real sleeper because he was drafted in the AAA phase of the draft, having only pitched in 28 games for the Nats’ farm system. He has a career 2-3 record and a 4.40 ERA, it’s likely he’ll be traded as well.

The net/net: We took some losses but it could have been worse. I’m surprised that nobody took a chance on Mike Fontenot or Chris Robinson…Washington lost seven players from their AA roster. Campusano and Shipman must be retained on their new major league rosters all year or they must be returned to the Cubs.


In other news, Baltimore sent pitcher Kevin Hart to the Cubs as the PTBNL in the Freddie Bynum trade. Although Rotoworld does not project Hart to be a potential major leaguer, it makes sense because it got “Brick Hands” Bynum off our 25 man roster and who knows how the young pitcher might pan out?

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Lilly a Cub; will Hendry smell like a rose?

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

According to the Trib, Ted Lilly is a Cub.
Lilly’s ERAs the past 5 years have been 4.31, 5.56, 4.06, and 4.34. He has had exactly 1 year of a sub-4.00, back in ’02 when he started just 11 games.
So that’s what 40 mil buys you.
The last time he posted a 2:1 K:BB ratio was 2003.
The last time he pitched 200 innings was never ever ever.
Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA casts a slightly more favorable light on him.

This offseason is a weird one. Our Cubs have been mentioned in many of the big free agent deals. The team seems bent on building a team through free agency. What the hell, I say. Let’s see what happens. They’ve spent waaaaay too much money on these players, but if we end up with a team that looks like this:

CF Lofton
LF Murton
RF Soriano
1B Lee
3B Ramirez
C Barrett
2B DeRosa
SS anyone but Izturis

bench: Blanco C, Izturis ss/2b, Moore 1b/3b, 2b Theriot, OF Pagan, OF Ryan Church, if rumors are to be believed.

That’s a team that should score a bit above league average, given normal health. I’ll take Soriano/Lee/Ramirez/Barrett as all righties in the meat of the lineup rather than any available lefty.

WIth a pitching staff of:
Z
Lilly
Hill
Wade Miller
Marmol/Marshall/Prior

Eyre
Howry
Cotts
Novoa (?)
Wood
Ohman

Then that’s a pitching staff that goes 4 deep and some days, 5 deep, and it’ll keep the offense in the game.
So you could expect a team like that to win 85-90 games. That could be enough in the NL Central, and as the Cards showed, regular season record don’t mean diddly.

So maybe this haphazard check-writin’ spree will end up making us all happy.
Maybe.

Who can we get to fill the gaps? What’s your suggestion at SS? Theriot’s not going to hit like he did last year. The spending spree has at least stuffed many of the gaps in the team with large sacks of money. The offseason dealing ain’t over yet. I don’t know what kind of contraption we’ll end up with, but at least it’s new!

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Rule 5 Draft is on Friday

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

As many of you know, players have to be on a club’s 40 man roster or have played less than three years or they are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft (an exception is made for players who were drafted below the age of eighteen – they get an extra year.) Forty man rosters have to be set on or before November 20th.

My understanding is that the new collective bargaining agreement extends those years to four and five years respectively, but I am unclear as to whether or not the new agreement is in place now (before the Rule 5 draft) or will take effect after the draft takes place. Players who will certainly be exposed to the draft are Mike Fontenot, Thomas Atlee, Miguel Negron, Chris Robinson, Ryan O’Malley, Les Walrond, Nic Jackson and Kerry Ligtenberg. Lincoln Holdzkom apparently is no longer in the Cubs minor league system.

Depending upon whether or not the new contract is in effect, Ryan Harvey, Carmen Pigniatello, Casey McGehee and Jake Fox could also be vulnerable. My guess is that the new agreement *is* in effect because I just can’t see Hendry exposing Harvey and Pigniatello in favor of guys such as Jose Reyes and Adam Harben (who pitched poorly in the AFL.) Now would be a good time to trade Fontenot, as he is surely going to be taken by somebody!

Update 12/06/08, 7:47 PM CDT:

It is rumored that Freddie Bynum has been traded to Baltimore for a PTBNL; this frees up a spot on the 40 man for Lilly. It is also rumored that Cubs GM has entered a hospital suffering from dehydration and the flu.

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Time to play hardball with Lilly and O’Brien

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Rotoworld just ran two interesting stories. One said that Andy Pettitte will be coming back to play in 2007 for either the Astros or the Yankees. The other said that Lilly’s agent Larry O’Brien has told the Bronx Bombers that Lilly would sign with them if they offered 4 years/$40 million.

I can easily see the Yanks using Lilly as a fallback option now as they enter negotiations with Pettitte. Now would be a good time for the Cubs to play hardball, even if it means playin’ a little game of ‘chicken’ too. Hendry should tell Lilly’s agent that the Cubs are very close to signing Meche and it’s going to be either Meche OR Lilly. Give him a deadline for tomorrow night and say “sorry but we’re going to have to make other plans if you aren’t interested in our offer.”

Truthfully I’m not real excited about spending over $10M/year on EITHER Lilly or Meche. I’d much rather see the Cubs trade some prospects over to the White Sox for Brandon McCarthy. Perhaps we could interest them in a package involving any two of the following: Brian Dopirak, Ryan Harvey, Carlos Marmol, Adam Harben, Roberto Novoa, Jose Reyes, Will Ohman or Freddie Bynum. Maybe even throw in a third if Marmol wasn’t included.

What do you all think? Are the Cubs going to have decent enough pitching if they sign Lilly, or Meche or both?

Update, 12/06/06, 7:17 CDT

According to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs and Ted Lilly have reached a preliminary agreement.

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Patterson in CF part Deux?

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Apparently the Cubs have offered Ted Lilly $40 million. Ho Hum.

The big nugget I noticed in the Paul Rogers article was the last few paragraphs relating to our last remaining Patterson. Corey’s little brother Eric is reportedly learning to play CF.

Patterson, who turns 24 in April, was an All-Star at Double-A West Tenn last season before being promoted to Triple-A Iowa, where he hit .358 in 17 games. The Cubs are asking Patterson to learn to play center because Mark DeRosa signed a three-year deal to play second.

“Eric is starting to get on a path of doing things he needs to do,” said Oneiri Fleita, the Cubs director of player development. “He has learned how to bunt, he’s running a lot more. He’s a very good base-runner. And we’ve asked him to explore the opportunity to go take balls off the bat so it isn’t foreign to him if he’s asked to go out and play center field.

“Right now he’s a second baseman, but he’s a left-handed hitter who can do a lot of little things. We’re going to try to make sure that if he’s ready, if there is a spot that’s maybe blocking him, he can go play another spot.”

~ Chicago Tribune

I’ve seen Eric Patterson play 2B. He’s not terrible, but he’s not a gold glove winner either. Maybe CF might play to his speed. One thing I know is that he likes hitting in the leadoff spot, unlike Corey Patterson. What are your thoughts?

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Your Chance to win Free Stuff

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006

Over on the podcast network, we’re running a contest where all you have to do is answer a question and talk baseball.

The winners receive a DVD/Book combo called “Reel Baseball: Baseball’s Golden Era, The Way America Witnessed It in the newsreels”

It’s an awesome book and well worth the effort. We’re giving away 25 copies. In addition, one of those 25 people will win a gift package of MLB apparel on a leading website.

If you would like more information, Here is the LINK to our podcast where we give out the questions.

In addition, here is a LINK all about the promo of the contest. It’s about 90 seconds.

I’d love to see some of our readers winning this thing. Good Luck.

News Update:

Ryne Sandberg will manage the Cubs team at Class A Peoria this year.

Read about it.

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Cubs talking to Lofton

Sunday, December 3rd, 2006

Rotoworld reports that Jim Hendry and the Cubs are talking to Kenny Lofton; they speculate that this means that talks aren’t going well with Julio Lugo.

I like this option – Lugo is not a centerfielder, he’s a middle infielder. Why do the Cubs seem to like playing guys outside their natural positions? Are they interested in more errors? Lofton is a centerfielder, that’s what he does; he would certainly firm up an outfield defense that is suspect at best. Is he going to miss some games? You bet, that’s why you have Felix Pie and Angel Pagan ready to step in.

Last year Kenny hit .305 and had an on base percentage of .360. He stole 32 bases while being caught 5 times. If the Cubs get 120 games out of Lofton it will be a smart move.

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The Great Hall of Fame Debate

Friday, December 1st, 2006

With the ballot coming out the other day, ESPN posted a hand ballot for the fans to cast their vote.

Of course Phil and I had to debate this topic on the podcast. If you’d like to listen, go to our podcast website, which is now part of the 360 the Pitch podcast network and give it a listen. Here is the link.

In the meantime, take a look at the ballot provided by ESPN and let’s get some discussion in the comment section for who is and isn’t hall of fame worthy.

ESPN Ballot

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