Archive for February, 2008

Cubs Sign Alex Cintron to MLC

Monday, February 18th, 2008

From the Cubs Media Relations Department:

MESA, Ariz. – The Chicago Cubs and infielder Alex Cintron have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training. Cintron is expected to report to camp on Tuesday.

Cintron, 29, has a career .277 batting average (525-for-1897) in all or part of seven major league seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks (2001-05) and the Chicago White Sox (2006-07). The versatile infielder has played 338 big league games at shortstop, 109 games at second base and 88 games at third base.

The switch-hitter is a career .305 hitter with a .347 on-base percentage vs. left-handed pitching and a .267 hitter vs. right-handed pitching. Cintron batted .243 with seven doubles, two home runs and 19 RBI in a 2007 season in which he was limited to 68 games following offseason right elbow surgery, three stints on the bereavement list and one stint on the restricted list. In 2006, Cintron batted .285 with 10 doubles, five home runs and 41 RBI in 91 games in his first season with the White Sox.

Cintron broke into the big leagues in 2001 with the Diamondbacks and enjoyed his most productive season in 2003, when he set career highs with a .317 batting average, 70 runs scored, 13 home runs and 51 RBI in 117 games. He played in a career-best 154 games a year later and saw action in 122 games in 2005, his final year in Arizona.

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The Clemens Mess

Monday, February 18th, 2008

From Right Field

As the Cubs set up shop in the Arizona sun this past week, things were heating up in Washington with Roger Clemens, and his former trainer Brian McNamee. As we saw from the daily coverage of the hearings, which sadly reminded me of the circus of a few years ago, there was a lot of finger pointing. Except this time it wasn’t Rafael Palmeiro definitely pointing to members of Congress. Oh where have you gone, Mr. Palmeiro? Hiding south of the border? Like Raffy, I’m afraid we’ll all have the same memories of The Rocket years down the road, as he made a mockery of his career by thinking the general public, and the baseball fan base is really that unintelligent. Then again, we’ve seen Giants’ fans stand by Barry Bonds for years, so maybe we are somewhat mindless sheep.

For those of you that have been living under a rock, here’s the gist. Roger Clemens’ former personal trainer has stated under oath, that he had injected Roger at least sixteen times with HGH and/or anabolic steroids. With a probable Hall of Fame induction in jeopardy, Roger has obviously refuted the allegations. Stating continually that he’s doing this because it’s tarnishing his name, as well as not be true. He has, however, stated that McNamee injected him with vitamin B12 and lidocaine.

Over the past month, I’ve been quietly watching this unfold. I’ve never been a fan of Roger Clemens, but I have always admired any pitcher than can still bring it every fifth day as they reach their late 30’s and into their 40’s. The thought that Roger might have been on the juice never entered my mind, as I had always heard he was one of the hardest workers in the off season. I can barely catch my breath after two trips down the basketball court, and that is my off season regiment for baseball. Guys that work hard in the off season, should be better prepared for the long haul of the baseball season.

I started to lose my faith in Mr. Clemens when he repeatedly stated he only had lidocaine and B12 injections. I just found that too odd. Wouldn’t it be easier to just take a Flintstones vitamin to get your daily dose of B12? As far as I knew B12 didn’t do anything for you anyway, to which it really doesn’t (Source). Lidocaine is strictly used to dull joint pain, and B12 is typically treated for anemia or diet deficiencies. Sounds like a Flintstones chewable would do the trick, Mr. Clemens. Then again, a subsequent article (Source) states HGH doesn’t help athletes much either. It typically increases muslce mass without showing much improvement. It’s when the addition on anabolic steroids is combined with HGH, it provides a punch.

Clemens agents issued a 49 page report comparing him to other pitchers that had late career success (Source). They argue that his success was in fact from the way he adjusted his pitching style, and developed a split-finger. Obviously, as we age we all come up with ways to compensate for abilities we’ve lost along the way. How would the addition of one split-finger fastball suddenly give Clemens a 141-66 record after training with McNamee? Sounds fishy to me. The same report offered up names of Curt Shilling, Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan, to compare Clemens’ numbers too. While Ryan and Johnson are fine pitchers to compare one self too, I’d keep Mr. Schilling out of this. The rumors of his use of enhancers have been around for years. One positive in the report? Clemens numbers are hardly as good as Ryan’s. His average of inning pitched was below that of Johnson’s 7 1/3, and his strikeouts-per-nine-innings was almost two belong Ryan’s numbers during the same ages.

Of course, by early February, everyone wanted in on this action, and a small group of professors offered insight into the previous report issued by Clemens’ camp (Source). They stated that comparing Clemens’ career with only those pitchers that were successful in the second half of their careers minimized the chance that Clemens numbers would seem out of the ordinary. This group took a much larger control group for their statistical analysis and found Clemens’ numbers to actually be quite out of the ordinary. Clemens career is a basic reversal of a pitcher’s typical career. Whereas most pitchers become better during their mid to late 20’s, and peak around 30, Clemens declines during his twenties and oddly peaks towards his late 30’s and early 40’s. They do, however, point out that there is no proof that any substances played a part in the number crunching.

Whether or not Clemens’ did or did not take anything to further his career, or give him a boost in his performance, is really more a case of he said, he said now. I’ll agree with Clemens on one point. His name is certainly tarnished either way this goes. Unfortunately, I think the case against him is greater now, with Chuck Knoblauch, Andy Petitte and Roger’s own wife confirming McNamee’s allegations, he needs to come clean. It’s over Roger, your image is tarnished either way. Play fair now, because it certainly doesn’t look like you did during your career.

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I Know It’s Wrong, but Who Cares?

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

Yovani Gallardo has been diagnosed with torn cartilage in his knee and is expected to miss four weeks following surgery.He’s set to go under the knife Tuesday and is likely to begin the season on the disabled list after suffering the injury during a throwing session earlier this week. This could leave the Brewers with a three-four-five of David Bush, Carlos Villanueva and Chris Capuano to begin the season, though Gallardo could bump a member of the group by the middle of April. Manny Parra and Claudio Vargas will also be in the mix. (Rotoworld – 2/17/2008)

Is it wrong to be happy about this? The Brewers are the main team that could pose a threat to us this year and now they’ll have one of their best young arms starting his second year recovering from a knee injury. That’s some nice news for Cub fans.

Jason Marquis responded to the fact that he isn’t guaranteed a spot in the rotation out of spring training this season with the following, “I’m competing against myself, and every time I touch the baseball, I’m working on things to get me better,” Marquis said. “My ability will speak for itself the way it has in the past.”

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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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