View From The Bleachers

November 14, 2007

Monroe takes a hike; Carl Crawford a Cub?

Filed under: General — Joe Aiello @ 5:00 am

The Cubs pulled off another trade to clear the outfield yesterday, this one sending Craig Monroe to the Twins for a PTBNL. This is a deal that doesn’t seem that significant, and in a big picture sort of way, it isn’t. However, it’s a deal that merits a golf clap for Jim Hendry. He recognized a need in Minnesota and filled it with a player that would have been non-tendered anyway. Essentially, this was Jim Hendry getting something, albeit a small something, for essentially nothing. My guess is that the player coming over will be either a prospect that used to have a high ceiling, but has never lived up to the hype. Perhaps a player similar to a guy like Brian Dopirak from our system. Or, we would get a marginal guy that Minnesota has excess of. Again, it’s not something to get thrilled about, but it’s nice to get something for a player we were ready to let go for nothing.

In addition, rumors were flying yesterday that the Cubs were in the process of putting together a package for Carl Crawford of the Rays. My cell was chirping around 4pm as I headed home. I answered it and was immediately asked by Jason if the rumor was true. While I don’t know how solid the rumors are, I have to say that it would make sense for both teams. The proposed talk I’ve been hearing goes something like this:

Cubs Send:
– Rich Hill
– Carlos Marmol
– Ronny Cedeno

Rays Send:
– Carl Crawford

With the Rays set to owe Crawford big in the next year or so and a somewhat crowded OF with Rocco Baldelli, Delmon Young, and B.J. Upton, they can afford to move Crawford in an effort to fill some major needs. The Rays need bullpen help like no one else except maybe the White Sox, and Marmol would fit right in there as the lead guy in that pen. Rich Hill would be a great compliment to a rotation that is young, but up and coming with James Shields and Scott Kazmir. Ronny Cedeno fills a need for a temporary shortstop while they wait on Reid Brignac and Evan Longonria to make the move to the big leagues, and according to Rays fans would give them a good defender up the middle. Apparently they never bothered to watch poor Ronny play the field, because fielding is not his strong point.

For the Cubs, this deal would give the Cubs a legit basestealing threat, which they sorely want this off-season. It would give them a player who is probably best in CF, but doesn’t want to play there. It would also give them a leadoff or number two hitter. It would cause them to seriously need to dip into free agency to make a serious run at Kuroda out of Japan to replace Hill. It would also force them to look seriously at bringing Kerry Wood back to close, or giving the job to Bob Howry. That being said, someone would need to step up out of the bullpen to replace Marmol.

So I come to you. Would you make the deal, if it was exactly as I have it laid out?

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November 13, 2007

Fukudome awaits and reliving some misery

Filed under: General — Rob Bukowski @ 12:00 pm

It is with tremendous trepidation that I await the eventual run after Kosuke Fukudome to fill the outfield spot vacated by the three-headed Jacque Jones-Matt Murton-Cliff Floyd nightmare. As I mentioned at the end of the year Jacque Jones showed me a lot with the way he responded in the second half of the year. He played hard, got clutch hits, and smiled a lot. I appreciated him more and more as the year went on. I am glad he was traded, don’t get me wrong, but I think I will always have a fond feeling for Jacque Jones if his name ever comes up in the future. Which I would not have thought possible last June.

There have been some questions about Fukudome, and now that his pursuit seems imminent you might want to bone up on some Fukudome knowledge. (Which points out some of my fear. As I have mentioned before the blowhard known as Jay Mariotti thinks that it is somewhat creative and journalistic to take the names of Chicago sports figures and morph them into non-creative and non-funny monikers…such as “The Blizzard of Oz” for Ozzie Guillen and “Kid DL” for Kerry Wood; how does he come up with these things??? brilliant!!!…What will he come up with for Fukudome if he is a bust?) So a good place to start would be to take a peek at the entry about him on wikipedia…which at this moment was just updated and says nickname is “Ching Chang Chong.” I am pretty sure that this was a racist addition to the entry and might not be on the entry when you check it out. But if you are looking for some stats about Fukudome, scroll down and click on the link to the “Armchair GM’s” site where you will find a write up about him and a list of his yearly stats.

So I was thinking in light of Jacque Jones’ place in my heart about some of the Cubs over the years that have made my heart happy and made me sick. It amazes me that some of these guys are symptomatic of the things that are wrong or right with the franchise. You might want to add some of your own.

Ryne Sandberg
This is starting somewhat easy but for me Sandberg brings up warm and cold feelings at the same time. I remember as a kid the amazing plays Ryno made at second base. He had clutch hits, clutch home runs and was a continual delight to watch. Not to mention that we share a birthday.
So why the cold feelings? Remember his comeback? Do you remember that the Cubs were about to pursue Craig Biggio, until Sandberg announced that he was returning? His return was OK but the thing that continued to happen over and ever that I still remember was many, many strikeouts. Which was bad enough? Let alone the icing on the miserable cake. After almost every swinging strike out, Ryne would do this cutesy little strike out hop and look at his bat, seemingly trying to find the hole that the pitch just went through.

This would be the museum of the broken star. See: a broken boom box, corked bat, videotaped early exit. See: a great hitting first baseman, who hit for little power and replaced a guy who hit over 500 juiced home runs. See: a slugging, cannon armed right fielder whose body was deteriorating in front of us. See: fragile pitching studs.

This is the probable future home of our current left fielder.

Manny Trillo
This name could be Manny Trillo, or Luis Salazar, or Cesar Izturis, or Augie Ojeda, or Steve Buechelle, or Gary Scott, or Vance Law, or whatever light hitting infielder the Cubs have run out for us over the years. I have two vivid memories of these guys (Aside from the Augie Ojeda beat down during the playoffs this year.) One year I was at a game and Manny Trillo made an error. A fan yelled out “Manny go get on the bus.” Later in the game Trillo made a second error to which the fan responded “Trillo, forget getting on the bus. Get under the bus!!!”
I also remember a game where Luis Salazar got a clutch hit and Harry Caray began to yell about how the managers were not playing him enough…”And now Lefebvre isn’t playing him!!!”

Jim Essian
Speaking of which, how many mediocre to bad managers have we had over they years. Wrigley Field seems to be a place where managers go to die. Think about these names Lefebvre, Trebelhorn, Essian, Kimm, Riggleman, Baylor…I know I am missing many.
I work at a job where I interact with many people from many walks of life. When the Cubs hired Dusty Baker, a pretty old and disoriented woman wanted to complain to me about the hiring. She yelled out “Why would they hire him again?” This confused me, until I realized that this dear, confused woman thought that the Cubs had rehired Don Baylor (Similar names, same initials, and probably some other similarities that confused a woman in her eighties).

I must say that I loved Don Zimmer. He made me laugh. A guy who was nicknamed Popeye who actually looked like Popeye. And who had the guts to charge and fight Pedro Martinez even thought he was like 150 years old.

Anthony Young
This is the category of head scratching moves. Named after the pitcher Anthony Young who lost 27 games in a row and was signed by the Cubs after three seasons in which he went 5-35. This would be a place to put many Cubs over the years. This year’s outfield plan would be an example. Also included the Danny Jackson experiment, maybe even the Burnitz ride.

Hector Villenueva
This is the category for the young guy who had a pretty good year and became a cornerstone to build on that crumbled. Jerome Walton, Dwight Smith, Ronny Cedeno…one after another.
By the way, do you remember that Hector Villanueva wrote an autobiography after that one season.

Kevin Tapani
This is the category for guys you love to love. I have Tapani here, I also include Mickey Morandini and Brian MacRae. These guys are OK. They come through for you. But they are certainly not stars. But, you love them anyway.

Urban Legends
There are some Cubs of legend who might have been more respected or tougher if they had been on other teams. I include here Lee Smith and Ron Santo. Both might be in the Hall of Fame if they had played somewhere else.

Shawon Dunston
This is a category for the guy who resembles everything that is good and bad about Cubness. Dunston had a gun for an arm, played strong shortstop, got hits, was responsible for the Shawon O Meter. Extremely entertaining. But never…ever…walked…ever. Typical for the Cubs.

Give input. This is only my opinion from my memory which is probably wrong and tainted. What do you remember?

On a final note, why did the Cubs ever hire Joe Carter to replace Steve Stone? How did he get through the try outs? What could they have seen in him that made them think he could do it?

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Tuesday Morning Coffee: Webtopia

Filed under: General — Joe Aiello @ 5:00 am
  • Steve Henson of Yahoo! Sports offers the Cubs edition of Hot Stove Daily, their offseason series. He mentions that the Cubs have interest in Hitoki Iwase of Japan, but he has decided not to come to the states to play. – (Source)
  • Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports produces the Top 10 A-Rod destinations this offseason. In case you’re wondering, the Cubs come in at # 4. Personally, I see him going to LA, but which team, I’m not sure. My heart says the Angels, but money says the Dodgers. – (Source)
  • Jim Malony of MLB.com offers a quick two sentence summary of each team’s needs this off-season. – (Source)
  • Tom Singer of MLB.com presents the Top 25 free agents this offseason. It’s a sad state of afairs when guys like LaTroy Hawkins, Carlos Silva and Josh Fogg make the list. – (Source)
  • The Hardball Times ranks the top ten World Series game one’s of all time. The Cubs even make the list – (Source)
  • Some sorry fool spent $402,500 to buy a Lou Gerhig jersey. Seriously, isn’t there a better way to spend that money, especially around Thanksgiving? – (Source)
  • Sarah Schorno addresses the idea that there is “No Absolution In An Asterisk”, and I wholeheartedly agree with her. I can’t stand it when people feel like everything is fixed by simply adding a little symbol to all the records. The fact remains that sports have always been and will always be a flawed system. There will always be people who cheat and will always been people who don’t. There will never be a way to fix that because of the flawed world we live in, so enough with the asterisks already. – (Source)
  • Dennis Rodman has his eye on a head coaching position with the new WNBA Atlanta franchise. – (Source)
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    November 12, 2007

    Cubs Acquire Omar Infante for Jacque Jones & Cash

    Filed under: Media Releases — Joe Aiello @ 1:03 pm

    From the Cubs Media Dept:

    CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs today acquired right-handed hitting infielder Omar Infante from the Detroit Tigers for outfielder Jacque Jones and a cash consideration.

    Infante, 25, batted .271 (45-for-166) with two home runs and 17 RBI in 66 games with Detroit last season. Versatile in the field, Infante played six positions last season, most often at second base (20 games). He also appeared at shortstop (14 games), third base (nine), center field (12), right field (six) and left field (one).

    The Venezuela native hit .281 (18-for-64) off left-handed pitching and posted a .413 batting average (19-for-46) with runners in scoring position in 2007. Infante batted .309 (25-for-81) with a .341 on-base percentage in 32 games in May and June.

    A member of the 2006 American League pennant winners, Infante has spent part of the last six seasons with the Tigers after the club signed him as a non-drafted free agent in April of 1999. He owns a .253 career batting average (403-for-1,592) with 81 doubles, 17 triples, 32 home runs and 154 RBI in 494 contests with Detroit.

    In 2004, his first full season with the Tigers, Infante set career marks with 142 games played, 69 runs, 133 hits and 16 home runs while his career-best nine triples ranked fourth in the American League. That marked the second of three seasons in which Infante was managed by current Cubs bench coach Alan Trammell (2003-2005).

    Jones, 32, batted .285 (281-for-986) with 32 home runs and 147 RBI in 284 games for the Cubs after he signed with the team as a major league free agent in January of 2006. Last season, Jones batted .285 (129-for-453) with five home runs and 66 RBI in 135 contests.

    TSN Scouting on Infante:

  • A very intense and driven player, with superb defensive skills up the middle. At the plate, he’ll poke the ball the other way and has occasional power. He’s got quick feet on the base paths.
  • Can’t catch up to tight heat, resulting in too many strikeouts. Has some trouble against southpaws.
  • Strong utility infielder.Tigerblog Weighs In – (Source)

    I’ve always been a big fan of Omar Infante but it just didn’t seem like it was going to work in Detroit. He had a breakout season in 2004 when Fernando Vina went down with an injury and he earned the starting second base job in 2005 but he struggled early. He then lost his job when the Tigers traded for Placido Polanco and since then, he’s spent time both in the minors and as a utility player (he can play outfield and infield). He fell out of favor last year and the Tigers eventually went with Ramon Santiago down the stretch and after they signed Santiago yesterday, it was probably just a matter of time before Infante was gone.

    Still, Infante is only 25 and while that breakout season is three years removed, it’s there. I don’t know what the Cubs have planned for Infante but you wonder if Alan Trammell’s presence on the team had anything to do with this deal.

    While this deal does make room in terms of salary, as Jones was set to earn $5 million in 2008 and Infante figures to make roughly $1.5 based on his previous contract, it doesn’t make a lot of sense in filling needs for the Cubs. Infante can’t possibly give us an upgrade anywhere. Rotoworld speculates that he could be the platoon partner in CF with Pie against the lefties. Great, except for the fact that he has a career average against lefties of under .250. Am I wrong, or do we not already have that hitter in Felix Pie? I’m just speculating here, but I have a feeling that Infante is either part of another deal that Hendry has in the works or that he will not be offered arbitration and will be non-tendered. My guess is the latter, as it simply works similar to the deal that the Cubs had in place with the Marlins earlier in the year that fell through. However, if I had to pick a team to deal for Infante, it would be the Devil Rays.

    Other Blogs

  • Cub Town is waiting for the other shoe to drop – (source)
  • Goat Riders of the Apocalypse is praising Jeebus over the move – (source)
  • The Cub Reporter was sceptical of the deal being finalized but is less than impressed. – (source)
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    From Right Field – Hats, hats, hats

    Filed under: General — Matt @ 5:00 am

    I was going through my hat collection a few weeks ago, while cleaning out part of one of our closets. Man, I forgot how many baseball hats I have. Next to my shoe fetish (I know I’m slightly girly), baseball hats are my next vice. I think I pulled out more than thirty ball caps relating to all sorts of baseball teams, and all of the major local sports franchises here in Chicago. The Blackhawks not included as I’m not sure they’re still in existence. Ha ha.

    I’ve got two Cubs hats (1969, and the present home cap), three for the Louisville Bats (one for each visit I made), an Indians hat, a Schaumburg Flyers cap, some odds and ends minor league caps…..good grief. If I wore a different hat a day, you would not see the same hat in over a month. I’d also had permanent hat head, a very sexy look.

    It got me to thinking on why I bought so many hats. As a kid, I fell in love with the Montreal Expos. I somehow decided that the hat looked really cool, and managed to get my parents to buy one for me. I’d spend hours in the front yard throwing the ball up in the air and catching “deep drives” to the outfield in that hat. I guess I figured Montreal was the most realistic way to make it to the Bigs. Not a bad thought process for a eight or nine year old. I think it was that hat that started the whole mess. How many kids in your neighborhood has an Expos’ hat? Exactly. I had something no one else did. Which is where this train ran itself right off the tracks. Most of my hats are for that exact reason. I must have a hat I’ve never seen anyone in.

     

     
      Chunichi Dragons outfielder Kosuke Fukudome declared for free agency Monday, opening the way for a possible move to the Major Leagues. (source) The Minnesota Twins plan to ask the Yankees for Robinson Cano in the event that they were to move Johan Santana to New York. My guess is that Phillip Hughes would also be part of the deal to help fill the pitching void. (source)  

    In high school, I bought a Dolphins hat (which I still have), in Indianapolis of all places. It’s turquois with a Miami player actually riding on top of the dolphin. I can see wildlife people freaking out at that very visual. I’d never seen anything like it, and I never have since. I’ve actually been offered money for that hat one or two times. I could care less about the Dolphins….what was I thinking?

    It was about six or seven years ago when I visited a friend in Louisville, where the hat frenzy caught on again. He took me to a Bats game, or River Bats as they were called that year, and I just had to have a hat. It’s really quite atrocious. It’s bright green with a purple bill, and this silly little purplish cartoony bat holding a baseball ball. Of course, they changed names the next year to the Bats, and the whole process started over again. Need new hat….must have new Bats hat. At least that one is pretty cool and mimics the Batman logo a bit. I won’t get into the reasons of why I decided to buy a jersey as well that year.

    So here I sit, with a slightly silly collection of baseball hats. I typically wear the same two or three, while the others sit nicely packed in this box, but I take a gander at them occasionally. Once again wondering why I have all of them, and then I remember. Each of them has some sort of memory. Whether it was sitting in the third deck of Jacobs Field waiting for the rain delay with local family, or sitting in the bleachers at Slugger Stadium with a good friend, or that Sox hat I bought so I could go to a game on the southside without fear of being beaten up. It’s all in the memories, or as my wife likes to point out now, it all about covering up that thinning hair.

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