Archive for March, 2008

Fourth Round of Roster Cuts

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Mesa, ARIZ. – The Chicago Cubs today announced their fourth round of roster cuts, reducing the roster from 38 to 36 players.

Left-handed pitcher Neal Cotts has been optioned to Triple-A Iowa. In addition, catcher Koyie Hill has been re-assigned to minor league camp.

Chicago’s spring roster of 36 players consists of 18 pitchers (two non-roster invitees), two catchers, 10 infielders (three non-roster invitees) and six outfielders.

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Baby It’s Cold Outside

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Spring is finally here, baseball is 10 days away and there is just one small problem, it is still cold outside, really cold. Not only is it still cold, the Chicago Cubs do not get a break from it in the first month of the season.  

 They play in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Colorado and Washington. Not exactly Arizona weather. Last April, the weather forced postponements across the league and featured fans making miniature snowmen in their seats. That kind of cold, below 40 degrees in my opinion, is not fun for anyone involved. Players can’t wait to get off the field and fans don’t show up or sit there too cold to move. Injuries happen because of hazardous or slippery conditions.  

So what could Major League Baseball do? How about if we review the scheduling issue here gentleman. Option A could be to schedule road trips for cold weather teams at the beginning of the year. Imagine this, (and stay with me here) the Chicago Cubs start off the season playing the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers have a dome. Common sense says maybe the Cubs should play in said dome, where even if it snowed three feet, it would not matter.

I know Bud Selig thinks this type of solution would give cold-weather teams a competitive advantage since they would then get two home series later in the season. That seems kind of silly to me since half of all major league teams open their season on the road anyway. Every team has stretches of 10 or more consecutive days on the road each season, if cold-weather teams happen to have their road trip at the beginning for the convenience and comfort of their fans and players, so what?Option B may be to shorten the season so baseball would begin mid-April. Yes, as soon as I typed that I know what you are going to say. There is no way in a million years our good friend Mr. Selig would shorten the season and lose money…no way.  Although I think he would consider it if MLB could make MORE money doing it, you can bet on that. 

So what does cold weather in April mean for the Cubs?

It may mean trouble. Consider this team is struggling with the bats in late spring training, what is going to happen when they are playing in 32 degree weather with wind off the lake?  It means Soriano should definitely NOT be in the number one spot. It means fans are going to jump on Fukodome’s back when he has a slow April, which may lead to frustration. What cold weather in April really means is the Cubs will have to (gasp) manufacture runs and play fundamental, error free baseball. By the way, manufacturing runs is a whole lot easier to do with a legitimate leadoff hitter.

What do you think? What are the keys to success for the Chicago Cubs in April?

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Did You Know?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Did you know that in the history of the Cubs, only three times has there been a season in which a player hits at least 30 HR and yet walks no more than 30 times? Usually when a guy hits for power, he tends to draw walks as well due to the power threat. So who were the three?

  1. Ernie Banks (1962) – 37 HR / 30 BB / .306 OBP
  2. Ernie Banks (1968) – 32 HR / 27 BB / .287 OBP
  3. Andre Dawson (1991) – 31 HR / 22 BB / .302 OBP
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Paging Mr. Lofton

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

With all this talk about how Lou isn’t enamored with his centerfield options, and the Brian Roberts trade seemingly in perpetual limbo, I’ve been thinking about a certain someone. Obviously I’m not the only one, because in yesterday’s Tribune, VanDyke mentioned that very same person. Kenny Lofton.

I don’t know, maybe I’m still drunk from drinking too much Goose Island Kilgubbin’s Red Ale, but wouldn’t it make sense to pick up a guy that’s known for high base percentage, speed, defense, and a club house leader, for what I would think would be minimal money at this point. In the grand scheme of things, what’s another $2-3 million for a year? You get another left handed bat, and a bonafide leadoff hitter. And you give up nothing. Let me say that again, give up nothing. Not to mention this would clear the way to move Soriano from batting first, and get him into a run producing spot, and letting him rest his fragile legs in the colder months.

Someone tell me, what am I missing here? Is this too easy? Or am I General Manager of the year? And remember, when Matt thinks, it hurts. It hurts alot.

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March Madness Bracket Could Get You a Prize

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

It’s that time of the year again! MARCH MADNESS!!

As we did last year, Rays of Light and View from the Bleachers are teaming up to put together an NCAA tournament pick ’em so that you can prove that you’re the best and the brightest among our group.

And, oh yeah, there’s a prize, too. The winner of the pick ’em gets – are you ready? – a copy of MLB 08: The Show for PlayStation 3! Even if you don’t have a PS3, this ends up being a nifty little cash prize for someone who didn’t have to pay any money to join the competition. If we get a lot of people, we just might add a second and third prize, too.

Navigate to the following link: Tournament Pick’em to join the fun! Remember, you’ve gotta be signed up with a complete bracket by the opening tip of the first game on Thursday in order to be eligible.

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Spotlight on the Diaries

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Did you know we now had diaries? Sure you did, because you’re a wonderfully intelligent reader that is up on all things VFTB. Ah, who am I kidding? I’m not always up on all things VFTB, so how can you possibly be? That being said, I thought I would take the time to remind you that we’ve integrated the idea of diaries (reader created posts) for your increased enjoyment. Everyone on this site, staff and readers, have a an opinion on this baseball team. Now you have an outlet for all to read those opinions.

If you have not already done so, click the icon in the right sidebar that says contribute. This will allow you to register for the site and then be able to post your thoughts for people to read. If you’re not quite ready for that yet, you can still read what everyone else has to say. However, I think sometimes the posts in the diaries go missed by some. Here are two tips to never miss a diary again.

Tip # 1 – Get yourself an RSS reader and subscribe to our feed. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can always enter your e-mail address into the subscribe box at the top left of the site and receive all the content, including the diaries, in your e-mail each morning.

Tip # 2 – Come to the site frequently and look in the right sidebar in the Recent Diaries section and watch for new titles. This box shows the 10 most recent diary entries by users and staff. Just because it’s not on the front page doesn’t mean it’s not good. Remember that.

With all that being said, let’s shine the light on some of the more recent diaries posted to the site.

  • Boomer wrote a note that talked about possibly moving Fukudome to CF – (View Diary)
  • Jon Pence asked readers what their favorite time of year is in regards to sports – (View Diary)
  • Joe Aiello (aka, me) – posted a note about a finding regarding why Dontrelle Willis may have sucked so bad last year. (View Diary)
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Noting A Trend for Dontrelle

Monday, March 17th, 2008

This is non-Cub related, but since he’s a former Cub farmhand, I thought it might interest you.

Most people know how bad Dontrelle Willis was last year and I found something I thought was interesting. It’s not groundbreaking stuff, but it made me say, hmmm.

In 2006, Willis used his fastball 63% of the time and finished with an ERA of 3.87. Last year, that fastball usage increased to 78% of the time and the velocity on it declined from 90.5 mph to 89.3 mph. Not only did he use it more often, but it was slower as well.

Why the sudden change in fastball usage? Throw in a case of wildness and Dontrelle was forced into more fastball counts in his starts. In 2006 he averaged a shade over 16 pitches per inning. In 2007, that number increased to 17. While it may not sound like much, it magnifies over the course of the season.

If Willis is going to be successful again, he has to regain his command and decrease the wildness.

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Roster Projection – Week 3

Monday, March 17th, 2008

We have some changes this week in the rotation and the bench.

 Miscellaneous Notes

Remaining Non-Roster Players in Camp:

  • Les Walrond (P) – Why is he on the team again?
  • Chad Fox (P) – Cubs are just waiting for his arm to fall off before they release him.
  • Koyie Hill (C) – No chance to make the team out of camp
  • Alex Cintron (IF) – The Cubs are going to need to find room for him on the 40 man
  • Micah Hoffpauir (IF) – Making a strong case to make this team out of camp
  • Casey McGehee (IF) – It’s pronounced McGee. Get it right already!!!
  • Josh Kroeger (OF) – Has had a nice spring, but is there room for him? Doubtful.
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Roo Woo in Regular Season Form

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

This was sent to me by a reader yesterday:


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