Archive for March, 2008

Cubs Option Adam Harben to AA

Monday, March 10th, 2008

Mesa, ARIZ. – The Chicago Cubs today optioned right-handed pitcher Adam Harben to Double-A Tennessee, reducing their major league spring training roster to 49.

Chicago’s spring roster of 49 players now consists of 25 pitchers (four non-roster invitees), four catchers (two non-roster invitees), 12 infielders (five non-roster invitees) and eight outfielders (one non-roster invitee).

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Roster Projection – Week 2

Monday, March 10th, 2008

We learned some things this week, and saw a couple of spots locked up. Here are the projections as they stand as of Sunday night.

As you can see, the entire starting eight are locked in now, with Sam Fuld dropping down and Felix Pie continuing to take the job to himself. Daryle Ward locked up his spot as the RF / 1B backup and pinch hitter specialist. He’s been outstanding this spring. His swing is so hard, it reminds me a lot of Randall Simon, who’s swing looked so scary when he was with the Cubs. Kerry Wood seems to have taken the inside track for the closer spot away from Bobby Howry for the time being with his electric stuff and return to the velocity of old.

As for Jason Marquis and Ronny Cedeno, they are fading fast. The business side of the game is what’s keeping both on the roster as of right now, but that could change.

Others In Contention
With seemingly just two spots really left in the pen (one righty and one foreseeably lefty) it appears that Carmen Pignatiello is in the forefront for one of the spots. If he can continue to get lefties out and pitch decent, he should make this opening day roster. As for the other spot, right now it belongs to Marquis, but both Tim Lahey and Kevin Hart are making their case for it. I give the nod to Hart at this point because of his ability to function as the long man, which is needed. Lahey, you might remember, was picked in the Rule 5 draft by Tampa and then traded to the Cubs. If he does not make the team he must be offered back to Minnesota for $25,000 after clearing waivers. If Minnesota does not want him, he can be optioned back to the minor leagues and remain with the Cubs. My guess is that Minnesota would take him back and then send him to us as the player to be named later in the trade for Craig Monroe. We’ll have to see on that.

As for the bench, right now Mike Fontenot and Ronny Cedeno are in there, but the good play and versatility of Alex Cintron may be closing the gap. Because Cintron is not currently on the 40 man roster, a spot would need to be opened for him. That spot could be opened if Lahey is brought back as the PTBNL or sent to another team. Cedeno needs to start hitting the ball or he could be gone. He’s out of options, and would certainly not clear waivers which would mean he would need to be traded before opening day.

Lastly, Patrick DiCaprio asked me to point your attention to a post he did about the Cubs on his site. Head over there and check it out.

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Kevin Hart Making the Cut?

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

From the Daily Herald:

Piniella still is looking for another right-handed arm to add to the mix that already includes the three closer candidates and Michael Wuertz. That arm could belong to Kevin Hart.

“Of all the guys that we have here, Hart is emerging as that guy right now,” Piniella said. “He looks confident out there. He’s got some poise, and he’s throwing strikes. We’ll see how camp proceeds, but it’s starting to look more and more that way.” – (Source)

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Did You Know?

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

The Chicago Cubs record for most games with at least one hit to start a player’s career is 7, done by Jerome Walton (1989) and Ivan DeJesus (1977). Kosuke Fukudome will have a chance to break that record this season.

On a side note, the hit streak record for the Cubs to start a season, regardless of where they were at in their career is held by Vance Law (1988) with 16. Aramis Ramirez put up close to that last year with a streak of 12 to start the year.

Finally, the record for most consecutive games with at least a hit at Wrigley Field is 27, held by Mark Grudzielanek (2003)

All info found using Play Index, part of Baseball Reference. Be sure to click the years for a breakdown of the games.

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Saturday Melting Pot

Saturday, March 8th, 2008
  • It’s now possible to make your stomach explode at baseball games – According to the USA Today, a good many ballparks have initiated an all you can eat section at the park. Wrigley is not one of the parks, thankfully. What made me laugh was the cheapskates in San Diego.

San Diego Padres (PETCO Park): 180-250 seats for all home games. Location: Rooftop bleachers on top of Western Metal Supply Co. building in left field corner. What’s included: All-You-Can-Eat buffet including burgers, hot dogs and soft drinks. Starts one hour before the game and ends one hour into game. Price: $39. Mostly groups, some individual sales. Previous price: $10. (Source)

What’s up with that garbage? Ends one hour into the game? That’s a crock!!

  • Cubs Minor League Spring Training Breakdown – Arizona Phil, one of my favorites, has a good breakdown of the players in the system and where they’re placed for minor league camp. (Source)
  • Tyler Colvin talks about his On Base % – Baseball America talked with Colvin about it and he had this to say:

“This year, I’m working on a little more discipline, trying to get a little more patient up there,” he said. “Fifteen walks is pretty bad. I don’t think I’m going to be the big on-base guy. I like knocking the guys in.

“I know 15 walks aren’t good, but I know I’ll improve on that this year. Walking 50 times a year is not me. I’m an aggressive hitter, and I like to get the big hits in situations, not the walks.” (Source)

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Roster Cuts – Round 1

Friday, March 7th, 2008

Mesa, ARIZ. – The Chicago Cubs today announced their first round of roster cuts, reducing the roster from 59 to 50 players.

Eight non-roster invitees have been returned to minor league camp, including right-handed pitchers Esmailin Caridad and Jose Ceda and left-handed pitcher Geoff Jones. Outfielders Tyler Colvin and Andres Torres, infielder Bobby Scales and catchers Welington Castillo and Josh Donaldson have also been returned to minor league camp.

In addition to those moves, right-handed pitcher Billy Petrick has been optioned to Triple-A Iowa.

Chicago’s spring roster of 50 players consists of 26 pitchers (four non-roster invitees), four catchers (two non-roster invitees), 12 infielders (five non-roster invitees) and eight outfielders (one non-roster invitee).

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Friday Random Discussion

Friday, March 7th, 2008

I’m stealing a topic from Rays of Light when I post this one. The question I’d like to hear from you on is this:

What are some of your favorite baseball video games of all time?

For me, there are a couple. Little League Championship Series on Nintendo and Baseball Stars on Nintendo.

Help me remember more.

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A Sneak Peak at The Bill James Gold Mine

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

In November, I wrote a post entitled “Mining For Gold in the Bill James Handbook“. In case you weren’t aware, Bill James has a new website as well as a new book called the Bill James Gold Mine. It showed up in my mailbox about a week or so ago and I wanted to present some nuggets to you before we delve into what I mine out of it. Enjoy!!! These come straight from the media notes that came with the book.

  • Last year, Alfonso Soriano swung at 467 pitches that were outside the strike zone, third-most in the majors. It was only the second time since we began compiling the data in 2002 that he’d failed to lead the majors. Back in 2004, Vladimir Guerrero topped him by 33.
  • In 2006, Soriano had 15 baserunner kills (a direct throw to a base to “kill” a baserunner – no relay involved) in left field. The next best fielder that year had 10 (Craig Monroe). Soriano got even better in 2007. He had 19 baserunner kills, while the next-best left fielder had 7 (Jason Bay).
  • The Cubs’ most effective baserunner last year was not Soriano (+11) or Ryan Theriot (+9), but rookie center fielder Felix Pie (+18), who made only 36 starts and batted less than 200 times. Pie aggressively took extra bases without ever being caught trying; he stole eight bases in nine attempts; and he didn’t ground into a single double play at the major league level.
  • The worst-supported starting pitcher in the majors was Matt Cain of San Fancisco, at 3.16 runs per start, but the worst supported relative to his team was Rich Hill, 40 runs short of expected support. Kelvin Escobar in 2004 was the only pitcher since 2002 to be shorted by his team worse than Hill was last year.
  • The Cubs last year had a better record with Jason Marquis on the mound than with Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly or any other starting pitcher.

So there you go. That’s just a small taste of what is in the book. You’ll either have to go buy the book or wait for more when I get a chance to put it together. I’d recommend the former.

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Five Things I Learned on March 4th

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

Jim Valvano once said in his ESPY acceptance speech that everyone should do three things each day.

“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

I would venture out on a limb and even add one more to his list. I would add that we should all try to learn something new every day. It fits in nicely with the thinking aspect of his advice. That being said, I kind of like learning new things and letting you know what I’ve learned each day. Yesterday I did some more learning and I’d like to share what new information I’ve come across.

  1. Kosuke Fukudome wants anyone who may have doubted him so far to know that he’s capable of giving them the finger. - In case you missed it yesterday, Lou put Fukudome in the second spot in the lineup and he silenced doubters (all six of them) by going 3 for 3 with a home run and a couple of RBI. I mentioned yesterday that I hope people curb their critique of this guy until we really have a chance to see what he’s capable of. Let’s amend that and just say we want him to just be successful out of the gate so there is no worry about heckling.
  2. Carmen Pignatiello is becoming my choice for the second lefty out of the pen. – I’ve been a fan of Piggy since I had a chance to talk with him when he was in AA. He likened himself to a player in the mold of Jamie Moyer, which he credited as the reason why it would be harder for him to get a job in the Majors. No one wants a soft-tossing lefty out of the pen. People want flame throwers. If you take a look at the career numbers in the minors, you see an ERA of 3.67 and a WHIP of 1.27. He does soft toss it, but he does create a good amount of strikeouts and limits his walks. He gets lefties out, which is what we’re looking for. If he can continue to do what he’s done so far, I want him as my second lefty out of the pen on opening day.
  3. Kevin Hart deserves a spot in this bullpen, regardless of what it means for roster shuffling. – Hart came up last year and did extremely well in limited action. He’s come back out this year and done very well so far. When you look at what we’re currently projecting for the roster, we lack a long man. Hart can fill that role, but it probably means a guy like Jason Marquis or Sean Marshall, both of which would be better served as starters, are not in the pen to start the season. For Marshall that would mean pitching in Iowa’s rotation. For Marquis that means a trip to the waiver wire or a trade (most likely).
  4. Sam Zell cares about the team…even if only for the purpose of maximizing the money generated from a sale – Tom Waddle and Mark Silverman had Crane Kenney on the show today and asked him questions about the possible sale of the team by Zell. They asked questions about if Zell would simply pocket the money that would be generated by the sale of the naming rights to the stadium. Kenney defended his boss, as any good employee would. However, what he said I actually believe. He mentioned how he had talked with the Tribune in the past about making improvements to the field and was always shot down. He talked about how when he brought the proposal to Zell with the preface that it wouldn’t add anything to the revenue generated, Zell said that if it was good for the business, it needed to be done. I know a lot of fans are souring on Zell in the early going for the ghastly thought of renaming a stadium, but when you look at the bigger picture, he’s not going to ultimately do anything that will bring down the overall value of the franchise. He’s still planning to sell this team, which means he has every intent to make that sale as profitable as possible. That being said, decisions will be made with all factors being considered.
  5. Brett Farve retired. - It’s about freakin’ time!!!

On a side note, the concept of Five Things I Learned should probably be credited to Dave over at The Hardball Times, who probably stole it from someone else.

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