Archive for February, 2008

Fascinating Minor League Article

Friday, February 15th, 2008

Over at InsideTheIvy.com, they just posted a great Q & A that has some good information on the following players…

  1. Geovany Soto
  2. Ryan Harvey
  3. Josh Donaldson
  4. Sean Gallagher
  5. Jose Ceda
  6. “Uncle” Jesse Estrada
  7. Josh Vitters
  8. Jeff Samardzija
  9. Darin Downs
  10. Tony Thomas

One of things that was mentioned was that the Cubs planned on moving Jose Ceda back to the starting rotation (which is the first I’ve heard of this). I’m curious what others think. Ceda has an absolutely golden arm, but has had shoulder problems and has never really pitched extended innings. Why move him back to the starting rotation?

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The Melting Pot: More Cock Fighting

Friday, February 15th, 2008

Aramis Ramirez admitted to raising roosters for fighting in an interview with a Dominican cockfighting magazine.
We read that magazine, but only for the articles. It’s not much of an admission, considering cockfighting is a legal and accepted part of Dominican culture. Ramirez, like Pedro Martinez, will probably face backlash from animal rights groups, but the fact is that most Dominican players probably have at least a tenuous connection to the pastime.

Manager Lou Piniella said Wednesday that the Cubs “will have one guy” at closer and will decide between Kerry Wood, Carlos Marmol and Ryan Dempster “probably three-quarters of the way through spring training.”
Wood is likely the early front runner, but Marmol certainly pitched well enough last year to earn the gig and Dempster has by far the most closing experience. Dempster may end up in the rotation, but no decision has been made yet regarding his role.

~ For more player news, visit Rotoworld.com

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Clemens’ Displays His Rafael Palmeiro Finger-Wag of Denial

Friday, February 15th, 2008

It is good to be back. By now, you have probably analyzed Roger Clemens congressional hearing a million different ways. Since this column’s vision is to cover the week in baseball, there is no way around it. Here’s what I think. I don’t think Roger Clemens is the loser, (even though I really do). I don’t think Brian McNamee is the loser. I think Bud Selig may be the loser, but that has nothing to do with Wednesday’s hearing. The real losers are you and me, your grandma and my grandma and the paperboy down the street.

Ladies and gentleman, Wednesday’s hearing gave you a look at Congress at its finest. No wonder they have such a low approval rating. First of all, this much attention is not even paid to real drug problems that lay waste to millions of American lives. Instead of investing a days worth of energy on I don’t know, a faltering economy, the war or even illegal immigration, Congress decided to utilize their time by trying to crack the great mystery (or lack thereof) that is Roger Clemens and performance-enhancing drugs.

If this hearing was to be used for a big government PR move, they couldn’t even do that right. The questioning was divided along party lines. Really, the two sides can’t even agree about steroids in baseball, really? See what happens when MLB won’t police itself, you end up with a circus.

One politician wanted to know what uniform Clemens would wear into the Hall of Fame. Are you kidding me? Then you had the dazzling display of hero worship. “Roger Clemens is a titan of baseball!” Yes, I am talking about you Rep. Dan Burton (Rep). If I had to hear him call McNamee a liar one more time, I may have gouged my eyes out. Of course McNamee is a liar, dofus, he freely admits that he lied and/or lied by omission. At some point though don’t you have to tell the truth to explain the lies?

Or how about when Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (Dem) attacked McNamee and then proclaimed: “Mr. Clemens, all I cay say is, I’m sure you’re going to heaven.” What? That is the most laughable thing I have ever heard. Last time I checked people who throw others under the bus, lie under oath and build themselves up to be the best thing since sliced bread – do not go to heaven. Maybe I’m wrong.

Here is what we know; circumstantial of course: McNamee said he actually injected Clemens with steroids and HGH more than the 16 to 21 times that he previously estimated in the Mitchell Report. Andy Pettite admitted to using HGH and said in sworn testimony that Clemens talked in 1999 or 2000 about his HGH use. Clemens’ wife, Debbie used HGH supplied by McNamee. Clemens’ insistence that he didn’t use performance-enhancing drugs is ridiculous. Even if you don’t believe a word McNamee says, I am sure you don’t really think Pettite “misremembered” their conversation. I guess you can’t fault Clemens for trying to defend himself but you can fault him for coming off as an arrogant member of the good ‘ole boys’ club. Not to mention, someone lied under oath on Wednesday, and last time I checked lying under oath is illegal.

At least the hearing did not lack from entertainment value. Here are some of the best one liners from the day. “Mr. Clemens, according to your account, Mr. McNamee injected your wife in your bedroom without your knowledge.” Or how about, “That was a hurried instance when we were in the closet.” Finally we can’t forget about, “Those little band-aids for his butt, if it bled.”

Oh Roger, sometimes the story just writes itself.

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Jim Hendry vs. Dusty Baker – Round 1

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

Jim Hendry had the following to say about the Cubs success last year:

“A big key to us getting back on track last year was we had a manager who played the people who came up right away, which is very important. … Lou [Piniella] plugged them right in the first two or three days and got the most out of them. So you don’t have to have all these high-profile, superstar prospects. The guys who filled in the cracks last year really helped us win the division as much as the star players.”

Ouch, we’ll have to see if Dusty responds. That being said, I wonder how he’ll use the Reds top prospects (i.e. Joey Votto and Homer Bailey)

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The Melting Pot: Shut Up Ryan

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

In case you missed it, we started a new feature called the Melting Pot. It’s a smörgåsbord of various news and notes rounded up from all over the internet.

I found some interesting things to comment about today.

  • Ryan Dempster predicted that “I think we’re going to win the World Series” Dude, shut up. Don’t say that crap. Just go out and play with that attitude, but don’t come out and say it. All that does is put a target on your back and hope in our hearts. I don’t want my hopes raised any higher. It hurts too bad when they’re burst. I can’t describe how much it hurt after the team went so far in 2003 only to lose the way they did. I want to be excited about this team, I really do, but I don’t need Dempster saying things to make me giddy like a school girl. (Source)
  • If you’re starting up a fantasy baseball team, and we have one more opening in our Rays of Light vs. VFTB league, Brock for Broglio takes a look at 101 great fantasy team names. One of my favorites has to be “Brokebat Mountain”. This is good for me because I have to be one of the least creative team namers in the history of all team namers. Wait, is namers a word? (Source)
  • Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus broke down the NL Central recently and had something to say that I wholeheartedly agree with.

One move to make: Slapping Lou Piniella with a clue stick. Piniella, who has a lot of good qualities as a manager, indicated last week that his lineup would feature Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Theriot in the top two spots, with Fukudome fifth. The Cubs’ biggest problems on offense have been not having enough runners on base for Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. Hitting Fukudome behind those two is a waste of his talents. If Soriano has to bat leadoff because he’s fast, fine; at least bat Fukudome second and Theriot down in the lineup where he belongs.

I couldn’t have said it any better myself, Joe. Well done. Now let’s hope that Uncle Lou reads their site and agrees to change his thinking.

  • Rumors have been going around lately that the Cubs are after not only Brian Roberts, but also Joe Nathan. We shall see. If you’re wondering what that would do to the payroll, don’t forget that we have a Cubs payroll spreadsheet now linked in the right sidebar. It’s updated as things change, so check it often.
  • Don’t forget to sign up for diaries, which enable you to post your thoughts for others to read all season long. All posts show up in the sidebar and may be moved to the front page (especially on weekends). It’s a good way to get noticed.
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The Melting Pot

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

One of the things I’d like to do more of now that we have instituted the idea of diaries is post more often with more minor league coverage as well as random notes I find. I’m an internet and e-mail junkie. If you’ve ever sent me an e-mail, odds are I replied with lightning speed as Rob can attest to. I’ve came up with a new title for the random notes and things of that nature. The Melting Pot. It’s a collection of some of the best things I found. Will it be daily? Who knows. I guess it just depends what’s going on out there.

That being said, let’s get started with the first edition of the Melting Pot.

  • Over at Dugout Central, they are running a three part series on “What’s Really Wrong With The Cubs: Why it could be another 100 years. I gotta tell you, the 100 years thing doesn’t bother me all that much. What does it matter to me if the Cubs won it all in 1970? I wasn’t around till 1978 and didn’t really care about baseball until about 3rd or 4th grade. For me, it’s been almost 20 years without a championship. That’s a lot easier to stomach.
  • John Rocker mentioned the other day that he failed a drug test when he was playing and that Major League Baseball knew he was on steroids. I have no doubt that it’s a fact that MLB knew of a lot of players. What made me laugh about his comments was what he said about Bud Selig.

Rocker trashed Selig earlier yesterday in an interview on Atlanta-based Rock 100.5 FM. “Bud Selig is a clown,” Rocker ranted. “He should do the entire world a favor and kill himself. He is a certifiable idiot.”

  • Baseball America posted an update to the upcoming draft order. Here is how it looks:

BASIC DRAFT ORDER
1. Rays
2. Pirates
3. Royals
4. Orioles
5. Giants
6. Marlins
7. Reds
8. White Sox
9. Nationals
10. Astros
11. Rangers
12. Athletics
13. Cardinals
14. Twins
15. Dodgers
16. Brewers
17. Blue Jays
18. Braves
19. Cubs
20. Mariners
21. Tigers
22. Mets
23. Padres
24. Phillies
25. Rockies
26. Diamondbacks
27. Angels
28. Yankees
29. Indians
30. Red Sox

FIRST-ROUND CHANGES
18. Mets (from Braves for Type A free agent Tom Glavine)
27. Twins (from Angels for Type A free agent Torii Hunter)

SUPPLEMENTAL FIRST-ROUND PICKS
31. Twins (for Hunter)
32. Brewers (for Type A free agent Franciso Cordero to Reds)
33. Mets (for Glavine)
34. Phillies (for Type A free agent Aaron Rowand to Giants)
35. Brewers (for Type A free agent Scott Linebrink to White Sox)
36. Royals (for Type B free agent David Riske to Royals)
37. Giants (for Type B free agent Pedro Feliz to Phillies)
38. Astros (for Type B free agent Trever Miller to Rays)
— Athletics (if Type B free agents Mike Piazza or Shannon Stewart sign elsewhere)
39. Cardinals (for Type B free agent Troy Percival to Rays)
40. Braves (for Type B free agent Ron Mahay to Royals)
41. Cubs (for Type B free agent Jason Kendall to Brewers)
42. Padres (for Type B free agent Mike Cameron to Brewers)
— Diamondbacks (if Type B free agent Livan Hernandez signs elsewhere)
43. Yankees (for Type B free agent Luis Vizcaino to Rockies)
44. Red Sox (for Type B free agent Eric Gagne to Brewers)
— Athletics (if both Piazza and Stewart sign elsewhere)
45. Padres (for Type B free agent Doug Brocail to Astros)

SECOND-ROUND CHANGES
50. Phillies (for Rowand)
52. Brewers (for Cordero)
53. Brewers (for Linebrink)
69a. Braves (for failure to sign 2007 second-rounder Joshua Fields)

THIRD-ROUND CHANGES
84a. Red Sox (for failure to sign 2007 second-rounder Hunter Morris)

SUPPLEMENTAL THIRD-ROUND PICKS
108. Phillies (for failure to sign 2007 third-rounder Brandon Workman)
109. Astros (for failure to sign 2007 third-rounder Derek Dietrich)
110. Padres (for failure to sign 2007 third-rounder Tommy Toledo)
111. Angels (for failure to sign 2007 third-rounder Matt Harvey)

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I humbly disagree

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

So I was inspired by Joe’s post today to write a humble disagreement to the premise of his post about expected wins by starting rotation. (Joe knows more than me. Joe runs the site. Joe is a Cub baseball guru and I don’t like Wrigley Field. Now that I have those confessions out of the way…) Some years ago, prior to joining a fantasy baseball league, I would not have thought that a chart like that held much water. For example, I still have major concerns that Ted Lilly could greatly under perform this year since he had just entered a new league last year and gained the benefits of having hitter who were mostly unfamiliar with him. I would have thought that the numbers of one year do not really mean much guarantee for the numbers for the coming year. Now that I have read Moneyball and been in a fantasy league I have begun to appreciate that statistics and averages are extremely powerful and consistent, barring injury and age regression and steroid pops and on and on. So I accept the premise that on paper the numbers look good for how the Cubs rotation will compete.

But here is my major qualm. I don’t know about you but I would like to win the World Series. And quite frankly, I would be pretty content with going stones out and trying to win one…not worrying about how set we will be for the future. Does anybody have any doubt (barring what happens with this whole sale of the team thing) that if the Cubs did what they could to win now, and maybe emptying some of our farm system to do it, that the Cubs have the money to quickly rebuild the team. Think about this, the Cubs have enough money that if they were wise they could replace parts every year. This does not mean breaking the bank on everybody. But the Cubs do have the money to go out and get a Soriano when you need a Soriano and a DeRosa when you need a DeRosa. They can get a big name when they need one and a role player when they need one.

Think about how quickly a system can be rebuilt when a team sets its’ mind to doing it. The Marlins won a World Series in the 90′s broke apart their team, rebuilt their team and won a World Series in 2003. They even were surprisingly close a few years ago. Then they had good players that they traded away and are using to rebuild their team now. And they are playing with little money, an atrocious ballpark situation, and a nonexistent fan base. Think about what the A’s have gone through over the years. They have lost star after star and they continued to compete. The Indians were one of the dominant teams in the 90′s and now they are back there again. You can rebuild a team and the system of a team if you are smart.

The contention that the Cubs would be foolish to trade a bunch of prospects for Bedard confuses me. First, at what point did the Cubs develop this illustrious farm system that does a real good job of developing can’t miss prospects. Think year after year about the prospect that we just couldn’t part with because they were going to become a star. Name the last one that did. Every time you pass on the chance to win this year because you are preparing to win for many years you are trusting that those guys will be who you think they are. That just hasn’t happened…almost ever- and now Felix Pie teeters on the edge of breakout or bust. Another guy who no one could have. How often does this need to happen?

While I agree that the Cubs have a better staff than most, and that we have a good one, two, and three in the rotation when did it become wrong or illogical to have two number ones on a staff? Bring in a second number one and your old number one now becomes better than everyone’s two. Then your two becomes better than everyone’s three. Think about it this way: How much more confident would you be in a rotation of Carlos Zambrano, Bedard, Lilly, (Name your guys Marquis, Marshall, Dempster) than the rotation of Zamrabano, Lilly, Hill, (Name your guys Marquis, Gallagher, Marshall on and on). I could be crazy but one of those competes for the division, the other competes for the World Series. The rumor was that the trade was proposed as a two (Roberts and Bedard) for seven (Include Cedeno, Murton, Hill, Gallagher and a few others) which seven guys that would have been included would have diminished the team’s chances to win the World Series this year. I don’t that is what would happen. Maybe a few years down the road, but hasn’t a few years down the road always had the same result for a century now?

Now think about the team and think about who you will need to replace soon. Soto will be here for years- if he does well- and you’re not trading a catching prospect anyway. Lee, Ramirez, and Soriano for three to five more years each (Soriano for more). You were trying to get Roberts for some years. You might need a new shortstop anyway, but you’re not trading Theriot who everyone expects to start this year and if he does well would start for many years. Fukudome for years. So the only position players you would need to replace would be a centerfielder which we have little confidence in right now anyway. You could have Zambrano, Lilly, and Bedard for at least three years together now, and I don’t think you would trade all of the pitching prospects anyway. All stories say that Peter Angelos would not have approved the deal anyway, but I just get tired of protecting prospects that are not guaranteed to try to get guys to win this year.

Think about the teams that are trading away their prospects in the off season or at the trading deadline; what is true about all of them? They are in the position to try to win now. They deal to try to win this year. That is all I am asking for the team. Do I wish we could be the Braves that build from the ground up and went to the playoffs for a decade? Yes. Have we ever been close? Maybe and then two guys had their arms fall off and one guy become too combustible. There are no guarantees.

So I understand the chart (and that is a surprise because I usually don’t get any of this chart stuff) I just don’t get the philosophy.

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Pat Hughes Named Illinois Sportscaster of the Year

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

From the Cubs Media Department:

CHICAGO – Chicago Cubs/WGN Radio play-by-play announcer Pat Hughes has been named the 2007 Illinois Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

“I’d like to dedicate this award to Chicago Cubs fans, the greatest fans in the world,” said Hughes.

This is Hughes’ seventh Sportscaster of the Year honor – and his fourth in Illinois, having previously won the award in 1996, 1999 and 2006. Pat was honored as Wisconsin’s Sportscaster of the Year in 1990, 1991 and 1992.

Hughes is entering his 13th season with the Cubs and WGN, teaming with Ron Santo on the Cubs Radio Network. The 2008 season will be Pat’s 26th season of broadcasting in Major League Baseball.

The award will be presented the first weekend of May in Salisbury, N.C.

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Expected Wins By Starting Rotation Spot

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

A few weeks ago, a reader asked for a breakdown of exactly what kind of wins we could expect out of each slot in the rotation. To answer this question, I took the top starters from each team in terms of number of starts and then added the highest win total as the number one starter and so on down the line through the fifth spot in the rotation. What I found confirmed, yet again, that the Cubs are well above average in the starting pitching department. Here is a breakdown of the wins by rotation spot for every team in 2007 along with the average by team and rotation spot.

Can we finally put away the debate about whether or not the Cubs needed to go out and get Bedard? I’m perfectly content with what we have in house going into this season.

Don’t forget that if you’re interested in competing in the 2008 VFTB vs. Rays of Light fantasy baseball challenge on MLB Fantasy Open, shoot me an e-mail:

We’ve got 3 spots left for our team. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here was the post about it.

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