Archive for January, 2008

Still A day late, and a dollar short

Monday, January 21st, 2008

Yesterday, Rick Morrissey had a decent article in the Chicago Tribune, about how 2008 is not going to be the year for the Chicago Cubs to get to the World Series, much less win it. He does believe that they improved, and that they have a good chance of getting to the World Series, but just because we’ve hit 100 years of futility, doesn’t mean this is a foregone conclusion. Unfortunately, I have to agree with him. Even with the signing of Fukudome and Jon Lieber, the Cubs are still well short of being a true force in the NL. Although, is any team in the NL a force to be reckoned with? I’m still in shock that the NL was represented by the Rockies, and look where that got them.

As we’ve discussed many times here, the pitching rotation, although strong (Joe has shown the numbers prove it) still has a scary back half. With Hendry’s signing of Lieber this past week, it’s obvious upper management doesn’t feel to strongly about it either. Seriously, Lieber? I liked him during his past stint, but is he really what’s going to help us now? I get the mentality of thinking more arms in camp are going to create better competition. It’s a good thought. No offense guys, but if these guys want to be Major League pitchers, shouldn’t they be ready to show us our best stuff anyway?

As I’ve said before, I still cringe when I look at the holes we still have at shortstop and centerfield. You should be the strongest up the middle for defense, and I just don’t think the Cubs are. At all. When Mark DeRosa is your strongest defensive player up the middle, and I like Mark, you’re in trouble. As much as you guys love Theriot, he’s just not a good Shortstop, let alone one I’d want to anchor my infield around. The whole thought of Felix Pie in Centerfield, scares me as well. Yeah, he got some reps in ’07, but it wasn’t that impressive of a stint for a player that was supposed to be the #1 product out of the farm system. In all honesty, if Hendry is looking to make more deals, which he said he was, I’m hoping it’s for a serviceable shortstop and/or centerfielder.

This isn’t to take away the possibility that the Cubs can get to the World Series, because I believe they can, and most probably will. There just isn’t a team in the NL that gives me the willies, with the exception of Arizona, and perhaps the Astros. Of course, the Astros are going to rely heavily on Miguel Tejada, and who knows if he’ll even be allowed to play. The Cardinals are now in rebuilding mode, and the Brewers short purse strings have hampered them this off season. Mike Cameron? That’s the best you can do? Oy. Don’t be surprised if the Cubs have to battle the Reds for NL Central supremacy. I’ve got a feeling the powers that be, would revel in a Dusty vs. Lou battle. The old Cubs skipper trying to beat out the new Cubs skipper. It would just be fitting wouldn’t it? The Cubs lose out on another chance by a team led by the last man that almost got them there.

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Cubs Exchange Figures with Michael Wuertz

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

Michael Wuertz and the Cubs are going to an arbitrator to determine what the righties salary for the 2008 season will be. Both have submitted their figures to the arbitrator and will have their hearing heard. The arbitrator will examine both side’s case and determine which figure is most warranted. Here are the figures:

Wuertz – $975,000
Cubs – $750,000

I tend to side with Wuertz. He’s pitched well for the Cubs, and it’s not asking much to pay a guy slightly under a million for that.

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Sunday, January 20th, 2008
  • ESPN is taking over the word! – (Source)
  • Kiefer Sutherland has been a good boy in prison. – (Source)
  • John Donovan of presents the MLB All Clean Team – (Source)
  • Packer fans are just plane nuts…and scary lookin’ too. – (Source)
  • Geoff Young presents 10 Pitching Seasons to Forget. – (Source)
  • The Biz of Baseball takes a look at effective Minor League promotions. – (Source)
  • Should MLB do away with team scouts? Jason Wolf thinks so, and I tend to agree with his arguments. – (Source)
  • Mike Fast of MVN takes a look at what exactly Pitchf/x is and why it’s valuable. – (Source)
  • John Beamer takes a look at the MLB rulebook for some quirky rules you may not know. – (Source)



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Saturday Morning Trivia & Did You Know

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

Trivia Question

I think this one will be an easy one. Extra points if you can nail the number of games as well.

Q: Who was the last Cub player to post a hitting streak of at least 30 games?

A: Click Here

Did You Know?

According to John Dewan’s Stat of the Week:

Chicago Cubs pitchers have led the National League in strikeouts for the last seven consecutive years. But they’ve never led the league in ERA during that strech. Striking out batters suggests more dominance on the part of pitchers, but it also leads to higher pitch counts because a strikeout simply requires more pitches. Also, strikeout pitchers are more prone to control problems.

Is it a good thing for a pitching staff to strike out a lot of batters?

Here is some evidence that suggests yes, it is a good thing.

Based on the 2007 season, pitching staffs that strike out more batters collectively have better ERAs:

  Avg. Team
Top 10 1,159 4.39
Middle 10 1,071 4.42
Bottom 10 989 4.6

“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week™,”

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The 2008 Chicago Cubs Convention and Other Marketing Miracles

Friday, January 18th, 2008

On a Saturday afternoon twenty-three years ago, former team President John McDonough and Cubs Vice President of Marketing and Broadcasting Jay Bunk sat down to talk about ideas away from the office. Bunk was skeptical about a Cubs Convention because as Chicago baseball fans know there is nothing pleasant about downtown Chicago in the middle of winter with the first pitch being months away. McDonough thought differently, and the rest as they say, is history. The 23rd Annual Cubs Convention will be held this weekend at the Hilton Chicago.According to, proceeds from the Convention benefit Cubs Care. The 2007 Cubs Convention raised more than $300,000. To date, the Cubs Convention has raised nearly $4 million for Cubs Care. The convention is not the only McDonough marketing miracle, there are more. Let’s take a closer look.

Cubs Convention
Obviously this event provides fans an opportunity to mingle with current and former Cubs players, broadcasters and front office executives, although who really wants to mingle with front office executives? As big as the event has gotten, it is still a good time, and here is why. The Cubs record at the time of the convention is 0-0, and with that record comes hope. Could this year be it? Watching Jim and Lou under the microscope. There are NO questions off limits and usually the best and most honest questions are asked by the kids.

How about shaking D. Lee’s hand and looking up and up and up and up. Sitting next to Andre Dawson and being too scared to say a word, looking over at him and see him smiling at you. Having a beer with Jody Davis and Keith Moreland. Seeing the ’89 team, those rock stars. Don’t worry there is also useful Cub information too, the coach’s panel is always informative. Watching Kathy and Judy from WGN make the players blush, except of course, Mark Grace. Sitting in the same room with Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and Billy Williams and listening to their stories. I could go on and on, but you get the drift.

Attending a Cubs convention, simply put, is an experience.

Beanie Babies
This may be more than you ever wanted to know about beanie babies, but bear with me for a second. The first giveaway, Cubbie, was on May 18, 1997. The first 10,000 children at these games received Cubbie accompanied by a commemorative card noting the special event. Today, these first Cubs giveaways sell for $100+ on the auctions today.

The whole beanie baby idea from a business standpoint is smart. One or two games a year, the team will draw thousands of young fans they otherwise might not attract. Who knows, maybe the young boy or girl will fall in love with the game that day.

Oh, and did I mention “retired” beanie babies draw extra security at the ballpark? I think it is odd that baseball teams have had to hire extra security on beanie baby day, but I have seen the lines at the mall the day after Thanksgiving and the stories about body slams over Elmo dolls. It is serious business. I find it funny that dads want their beanie babies just as much as their children do and players have their own collection.

Here comes abhorrence from baseball purists. I know, I know, baseball should be about the game and that is it. Well, the Hall of Fame shouldn’t allow cheaters in either, but it is not a perfect world.

Guest Conductors
According to Vineline, the Cubs monthly publication, some of the most famous people in the world contact the Cubs to ask about being a “guest conductor” for the seventh-inning stretch. OK, I understand no one messes with tradition at Wrigley Field unless you are a) ready to spend big bucks or b) content with the fact you may be lynched by a mob of angry, drunk fans. Let’s be honest and take the guest conductor role for what it is – product selling and celebrity worship – which has what to do with baseball?

The official message is it is a way to honor the memory of Harry Caray. Yeah, I am sure Ozzie Osborne knows exactly who Harry Caray is. How about Jeff Gordon? He didn’t even know where he was, it is Wrigley Field, not Wrigley Stadium. Here is some advise Jeff, prepare a little. In my opinion, if you want to honor Harry Caray drink a Budweiser, now that he would respect. I know I have touched on this before, but I say let Ron do it. He would love to and is giddy with Cub love anyway. At the very least get people who care about the Cubs or baseball or at least Chicago. That way we can still poke fun at the Ditkas of the world.

Three very different marketing tactics, yet they are all tied to John McDonough and the Cubs tradition. Of course he had a little luck on his side too, namely Haray Caray, Wrigley Field and Wrigleyville. As successful he was for the Cubs, McDonough has said, “winning is the greatest marketing idea of all time.” I agree maybe the Cubs should try it.

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