Archive for February, 2007

And the first injury of the year goes to…

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

Kerry Wood, with the torso, in the hot tub.


Read about it.

Note from Mastrick:The Cubs have announced their second injury of the season; minor league prospect Adam Harben (obtained from the Twins for Phil Nevin) apparently had Tommy John surgery in November and is out until the 2008 season. It perplexes me why the Cubs gave up Jae-kuk Ryu’s spot on the 40 man when they kept Brian Dopirak, a guy who plays first base and who has been hurt two years in a row. What is Hendry thinking? And why are they announcing Harben’s TJ three months after the fact? Getting information out of the Cubs is somewhat like trying to get information out of the Chinese.

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He gone (?)

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

As most of you know, the newest commotion in Chicago now appears to be whether or not Carlos Zambrano means what he says. Said Zambrano: “I want to sign with the Cubs before the season starts. If they don’t sign me, sorry, but I must go. That’s what Carlos Zambrano thinks.”

Jim Hendry, on the other hand thinks Carlos is bluffing. He so much as said so when he was quoted as saying:

“Basically, that statement has never been conveyed to me…Carlos and his representatives have always made it clear that the Cubs are where he wants to be. I certainly have no problem with a player with five-plus years wanting to have a deal by Opening Day, but if you don’t have one, it doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a parting of ways.”

My question to Jim Hendry is very simple: What part of “I must go” don’t you understand? Does he think that Zambrano is fibbing? Is Hendry daring Z-Man to leave, is he throwing down the gauntlet? Hendry’s public response to Zambrano does not bring the two sides closer together – rather it increases the distance between the two negotiating sides. It’s tantamount to saying ‘oh well, that was just Carlos running his mouth.’ What exactly does that accomplish?

I am hopeful that Hendry and Zambrano’s agents come to a five year agreement prior to Zambrano’s arbitration hearing on Tuesday; the Cubs will surely win their arbitration and that will only further alienate Z-Man from the Cubs. After watching the Cubs spend gobs of money on Soriano, DeRosa Lilly and Marquis, Cubs fans know that Zambrano will now cost a lot more than he would have cost just five months ago. Had Hendry only prioritized better we would not be where we are today. Let’s get ‘er done Hendry! If anything, Zambrano’s worth more money than what Schmidt got.

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Looking at the new Cubs as if they were in KISS

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

What can we expect from the new players? I’ll tell you what I think and what his nickname would be if he were a member of Kiss. Keep Paul (Starchild), Gene (the Demon), Ace (isn’t that a nickname already?) and Peter (the Effeminate Cat) in your thoughts. Is it up to you to imagine what each player’s face makeup would look like.

Ted Lilly
I’d guess a 14-11 type, 4.40 ERA season in which he keeps us in games, pitches into the 7th, and provides a left-handed arm for strategic games which could matter once or twice per season. Underwhelming for 10 million a year, but we’ve all been saying that the Cubs have lots of money to spend.
KISS nickname: “Flower Child.” You know, because of the “Lilly” part. Not because of Ted. Ted has nothing to do with flowers, or children. Unless your child is named Ted, in which case that’s what I meant.

<img src=”” align=”left” title=”” border=”0″ height = “60”Jason MarquisRothschild thinks he can fix the mechanical flaw that caused Marquis’ awful 2006 line. Seems to me that if you’ve got a guy who had a flaw that needs correcting, you can sign him for less and dump him if it doesn’t work out. Now the team will likely feel obligated to trot him out every 5th day. I see 10-14, 5.00, lots of HR allowed and some really, really ugly innings. Every fourth start will be a 7 IP-2 ER outing, which will keep him from the chopping block all year. Not like that hippopotamic contract would allow any chopping. (Note: After the Marquis Grissom Experience last spring, perhaps we’ll get lucky and this Marquis will get cut…)
KISS nickname: “The Whip” (as in “my career WHIP is 1.43”)

<img src=”” align=”left” title=”” border=”0″ height = “75”Alfonso SorianoThis year and next year will be the golden years of the Alfonso contract. I actually don’t have any worries that he’ll be able to play defense in CF TOO poorly; he’ll cost us 1 or 2 wins all year, but more than make up for it with his bat. He’ll put up great counting stats, poor rate stats, and contribute slightly less than his 45 HR/40 SB season would have you believe. All in all, though, he’ll be a strength.
KISS Nickname: “Lightning Bolt”

Cesar Izturis (still pretty new)
345 at bats of Neifi.
KISS nickname: “Neifi!

Mark DeRosa
We’ll get 2 decent years and one crummy year out of him. He’ll be anything from Mickey Morandini to Jeff Blauser. No matter what he ends up doing, an average Theriot season would have saved us money. He’s not the smelliest turd in the porta-potty, but he’s adding to the overall stench.
KISS nickname “Roadblock”

Daryle Ward
This is the signing that, apart from Soriano, I think will help us the most. The beefiest player since Randall “Beef” Simon could give us a truly fearful bat off the bench. 250 at bats spelling Lee, Murton, and Jones and being a bat in the 9th inning will give us the advantage we thought we were getting last year with John “Maybe Not” Mabry.
“KISS Nickname: “Lipid

Cliff Floyd
The theory, as I understand it, is to sign guys that are ridiculously injury-prone. That way our key guys will stay healthy as guys like Floyd absorb all of the injuries. Right? I mean, it couldn’t be to take away AB from the only guy on the team not named Derrek Lee who can take a pitch and put up an OBP over .340, right?
KISS nickname: “Mr. Glass

What are your KISS nicknames for the rest of the Cubs?

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Cubs Trade Ryu

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

Well, just as my previews of the Cub farm system get underway with Donald Veal, the Cubs go and trade one of my nine prospects to watch this year. If you haven’t heard by now, the deal with the Devil Rays, my second favorite bunch of losers, went down like this:

Cubs Send: Jae Kuk Ryu

Devil Rays Send: Andrew Lopez (OF) & Gregory Reinhard (RHP)

Here is a little info on the two new Cubs:

Andrew Lopez
Lopez was drafted in 2005 in the 8th round for the Devil Rays. He has played the last two partial seasons in the Appalachian League which is the Rays rookie league. In 2005, he looked really good, hitting .325 / .403 / .542 with 4 HR and 21 RBI in just 34 games. Unfortunately, they put him back in rookie ball last year and he took a step backward hitting .256 / .356 / .402 with 4 HR and 27 RBI in 56 games. An across the board drop doesn’t seem encouraging. I would imagine the Cubs will have to send him to Peoria. Can you really send him back to rookie ball for the third straight year? He’ll probably start the year with the Chiefs under Ryne Sandberg and his staff. I expect somewhere in the middle of those numbers over the past two years if he gets enough at bats.

Greg Reinhard
Reinhard went to the University of Wisconsin Whitewater, which is a school I’ve never heard of. Does that make him a turd? No, but it doesn’t make me love him any more. He spent his year in Class-A ball, which for a college pitcher who is 23 years old, is not very encouraging. Hopefully he’ll be pitching for the Tennessee Smokies this year in Class-AA ball.

This looks like a deal that was intended to increase future depth at the expense of a pitcher that is probably major league ready now. With our rotation spaces limited, Ryu was severely log jammed and being wasted. The Cubs seemed to want to get younger guys for the next few years. We’ll see how it goes. That being said, Ryu may have an outside chance at making the Rays rotation sometime this season.

Note from Mastrick:

This is yet another bad Jim Hendry trade, reminiscent of the Todd Walker trade. That is, we gave up something for nothing. As far as I’m concerned, same with the Maddux and Nevin trades. Hendry can sure spend some money but he’s no shrewd judge of talent. Da Coach said it best Hendry, who you crappin’?

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Baby Cubs to Watch in 2007 – Donald Veal

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

When I think about Donald Veal, I think about the one that got away in Dontrelle Willis. Dontrelle is one of my favorite players in the game because of his flair for the game as well as the likeability factor that he brings to the table.

Drafted – 2nd round 2005
DOB – Sept. 18th, 1984
Throws – Left
Position – Starting Pitcher

2006 Season
Veal spent time in Peoria (A) and Daytona (High A) last season, pitching well in both places. His numbers were as follows.

Team         W    L    ERA    WHIP    K/9    H/9    BB/9
Peoria       5    3    2.69   1.15   10.5    5.5    4.8
Daytona      6    2    1.67   1.09    9.8    5.1    4.7

After 2006, Veal has become a player to watch in the Cubs farm system and should add to the list of young wave of arms that should be making an impact at the big league level real soon.

Here is what others are saying about Donald Veal

Scouting Report From John Sickels of Minor League Ball
A second round pick from an Arizona junior college in 2005, Veal had an excellent 2006 season, emerging as one of the top southpaw prospects in the game. This is mostly on the basis of his fastball, a 92-96 MPH power heater. He also has a nasty changeup. His curveball is mediocre, but his other pitches have so much movement that the lack of a consistent breaking ball hasn’t hurt him. Note his ratios: an excellent K/IP rate, an excellent H/IP mark, but a poor walk rate. His command is obviously an issue, but his stuff is so good that A-ball hitters couldn’t handle him even when he didn’t throw strikes. Yes, that might be different at Double-A. Veal needs to improve his control, but his ceiling is very high, and I am optimistic about him. Grade B+. (For more scouting reports like this one, be sure to pick up The Prospect Handbook 2007)

Scouting Report From Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus
Big, imposing lefty with an big, imposing fastball that sits at 92-94 mph and touches 96; his changeup is already a plus offering that he can use as an out pitch; opposing hitters went 91-for-521 (.175) against him with 174 whiffs; he has a durable body with repeatable mechanics. Still looking for a consistent breaking ball, as his present offering is slurvy; his control is below average. Veal finished the season with 16 consecutive starts in which he had more innings pitched than hits allowed. Veal is the perfect combination of a very good player right now who still has much room for improvement. Double-A will be a significant test for him, because he either needs to substantially improve his control or continue to allow hits at the miniscule rate he has been. The former is an easier task than the latter.

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