Archive for October, 2008

Cubs Extend Jim Hendry

Monday, October 20th, 2008


– The Chicago Cubs and General Manager Jim Hendry have agreed to a four-year contract extension through the 2012 season.  Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

“Jim Hendry has helped build a sense of urgency and create a winning environment throughout our organization,” said Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney.  “Jim’s aggressive nature and tireless dedication to improving our club are well known but equally important is his assembly of one of the most-talented baseball operations departments in the industry.

“Jim’s leadership and the continuity of our baseball operations department are critical to finishing the job we began six years ago.  We fell well short of our goal this year and that will fuel our work this offseason.”

“It’s an honor to receive this long-term commitment from the Chicago Cubs,” said Hendry.  “We know there is work to be done in reaching our goal and I thank my staff for their commitment to this organization.  We’ll continue to do everything it takes to reward our great fans for their dedication to this team.”

Hendry, who enters his 15th season with the organization, has been the club’s general manager since July 5, 2002.  With more than six years in the position, he already is the third-longest tenured general manager in franchise history, trailing only John Holland (1957-1975) and James Gallagher (1940-49).  The club is 537-513 (.511) with Hendry as general manager, including four winning records in his six full seasons.

In 2008, Hendry, 53, became the first general manager in franchise history to assemble a Cubs team that made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, as the club in 2007 and 2008 qualified for post-season play in consecutive campaigns for the first time in 100 years (1906-08).  Overall, he has seen three of his six clubs make the playoffs (2003, 2007 and 2008), the lone general manager in club history to take three teams to the postseason.

Following a last-place, 66-96 finish in 2006, Hendry has helped orchestrate a 31-win turnaround the last two years as the club won 85 games in 2007 and recorded an N.L.-best 97 wins in 2008 to earn consecutive National League Central Division titles.  In addition to resigning Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano to long-term deals, Hendry has landed notable free agents in the last two offseasons such as Alfonso Soriano, Ted Lilly, Mark DeRosa and Kosuke Fukudome while making key in-season acquisitions last season such as Reed Johnson (in March), Jim Edmonds (in May) and Rich Harden (in July).

Hendry joined the Cubs organization in November of 1994 and spent his first seven seasons with the Cubs as director of player development (1995), scouting director (1996-2000) and assistant general manager (2000-02), overseeing a minor league system that signed and developed current Cubs stars such as Geovany Soto, Ryan Theriot, Carlos Marmol and Zambrano.

Prior to working for the Cubs, Hendry spent three years in the Florida Marlins chain in various roles, including a minor league manager, a scout and a special assistant to General Manager Dave Dombrowski.  He was the head baseball coach at Creighton from 1984-1991, leading the Blue Jays to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances and earning National Coach of the Year honors in 1991 after Creighton finished third in the College World Series.A Good Man Is Hard to Find divx

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Reviewing the Season: Top 13 Predictions

Monday, October 20th, 2008

At the beginning of the year, I made some bold predictions that I felt would happen throughout the course of the 2008 season. I didn’t do all that bad after all was said and done. Here are the results:

southchiKosuke Fukudome will shorten the name on the back of his jersey to just the first four letters to give the finger to RF fans after they begin to boo him for his poor start to the season.

While this one was obviously done in jest, it is interesting to note that I felt Fukudome would struggle. I felt it would be early and would slowly work itself out. Instead, it was the opposite, which couldn’t have been worse for us. Imagine what we might have looked like offensively with Fukudome’s left handed bat down the stretch. There is no question the lineup was too right handed and has been for the past two seasons. It’s something we very much need to improve this offseason if we’re going to have any amount of success in the 2009 season.

The Cubs will win the NL Central by at least 10 games.

I actually just missed on this one. I know they won by only 7.5, but when you factor in how poorly they played in September (12-12), it was totally reasonable to say that they should’ve won this division by double digits when all was said and done.

Lou Piniella will be ejected from four game throughout the course of the season, but will not be issued a suspension. The Contractor release

Maybe someone can help me on this one, but I can’t remember any ejections for Lou this year. I’m sure I have to be wrong on that one, but none come to mind. One thing I’m certain of is that he wasn’t ejected. I guess I missed on this one. Lou has tamed himself down drastically as he gets older.

Rich Hill will, once again, lead the staff in strikeouts.

OK, I completely missed on this one, as did everyone that made any predictions regarding Rich Hill this year. I wanted to make myself feel a little better so I decided to look at what Ron Shandler had to say about Rich coming into the season. His predictions were generous as well. 13-8, 201 IP, 205 K’s, 3.63 ERA, 1.21 WHIP. Let’s just say we all missed on Hill this year. The big question then becomes what to make of him for 2009. The key, in my opinion, is to not count on him as a valid asset to the rotation. Essentially, treat him the way we as fans treated Mark Prior and Kerry Wood once we figured out the injuries were bad. If we can get something out of him, it’s gravy. Personally, I think Hill will come back and make a difference for this team next year. It could be my cautious optimism coming into play, but he can’t possibly be as bad as he was last year, right? Anyone? (insert crickets chirping here)

Jon Lieber will replace Jason Marquis in the starting rotation after Marquis is traded to the Red Sox. Lieber will promptly get injured and open the door for Sean Marshall to step in.

I felt like Boston would make a deal for a starting pitcher after the loss of Curt Schilling was announced. Instead they made due with Clay Buchholz, Paul Byrd and Bartolo Colon and received a huge year from Jon Lester. Lieber ended up being a reliever and essentially a non-factor for this team. Marquis, on the other hand, was league average according to his ERA+ (100) and that’s all you can ask for from your 4th and 5th starters. He did the job he needed to do.

Derrek Lee will fail to drive in 100 runs or hit 30 home runs, but will win the gold glove.

This was easy to call. If you know anything about Derrek Lee, you know he’s not a run producer. I am somewhat of a Lee hater, but when you look at the numbers and see a player that will be 33 years old next year that has only driven in 100 runs once in his career in spite of batting in the center of the order, it’s hard not to shout “Overrated”. Lee is not the problem on this team, don’t get me wrong. The problem is that too many people feel he’s more than he truly is after that breakout year in 2005.

Kerry Wood will make one trip to the DL this season, and will finish the year with 22 saves.

I was right on with the DL prediction, though it looked like I might be wrong for the majority of the first half of the season. What I missed on, and I think many did as well, was Woody’s effectiveness as the closer. He improved his first strike % to a career high 61% as well as his overall strike % to another career high 67%. The key? Woody threw strikes and went back to trusting his stuff. He didn’t overpower guys all the time, but pitched like a veteran. There is no question in my mind that he needs to return to this team as the closer again in 2009 and gradually turn over the reigns to Carlos Marmol when he’s ready.

Alfonso Soriano will have one of his legs fall off during the season and be forced to play the rest of the year on one leg. This injury will finally cause him to go to Lou and ask to be put in the fifth spot to avoid the pressure of stealing bases on one leg.

Obviously what I was going for here was that Soriano would have leg issues. Two straight years tells me that it’s going to be a recurring issue for the remainder of his career. What didn’t happen was the move of Soriano to leadoff. Can you really blame Lou? Has he really been provided with a viable option to replace him? Think about it for a second before you go flinging poo at Piniella. Don’t you think he wants a better option to lead off? Of course he does, but until Hendry provides him with someone that will do a better job in that spot he’s forced to stick with Soriano. Perhaps the answer to that dilemma is a move for Rafael Furcal in the off-season.

Aramis Ramirez will be thrown out at first by a right fielder one time during the regular season.

This one didn’t happen, but boy would it have been fun.

Fukudome and Geovany Soto will finish second and third in the Rookie of the Year voting behind Joey Votto of the Reds.

I missed badly on this one for Fukudome, but I think you can make a valid case for Joey Votto over Geo for the rookie of the year award. Look at the numbers and tell me how you don’t have a valid argument:

Geovany Soto – .285 / .364 / .504, 23 HR, 86 RBI, 122 OPS+
Joey Votto – .297 / .368 / .506, 24 HR, 84 RBI, 124 OPS+

The argument, in my mind, that separates the two is position. Geo did all that he did while managing a pitching staff, battling the physical demands of the catcher position and preparing for not only his at bats by watching game film of pitchers, but also film of hitters to prepare for calling a game. That puts him ahead in my book.

The sale of the team will not take place during the season.

Wanna hear another bold prediction? The sale of the team will not even take place before next season is over.

Ryan Theriot will cement his spot at the top of the order will a breakout season at the plate.

This one will drive Dave crazy, but Theriot really did have a breakout season at the plate. At the same time, and hear me close, Theriot was a below average player when you look beyond just the batting average and on base percentage. He simply didn’t have the secondary numbers to justify a lock to start next season status that I would love for him to have. I like Theriot. I’d even be so bold to wear a Theriot jersey if given one as a gift (hint, hint). What I won’t be so bold, or should I say foolish, enough to say is that Theriot is an all-star shortstop. Take these arguments. Among 17 qualified ML shortstops (a player must average at least 3.1 plate appearances for every game his team has played)

  • Ranked 15 of 17 in slugging %
  • Ranked 17 of 17 in doubles
  • Ranked 17 of 17 in homeruns
  • Ranked 17 of 17 in RBI (13 RBI behind the 16th ranked player.)

The St. Louis Cardinals will finish last in the division and the Pittsburgh Pirates will finish fourth.

Dang Tony LaRussa. Why does he have to be such a good manager that gets something out of nothing? He did a great job managing with the team he had. He’s one of the best in the game and doing that and you’ve got to tip your cap to his efforts time and time again.

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Cubs Announce Deal for Jake Peavy

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

The Great Raid the movie It came over the wire early this morning and hit my iPhone like a tidal wave. We all thought that the most recent news that Jim Hendry and the Cubs were close to signing on for an extension was the biggest story in town. Now the news that Hendry pulled off a deal for Jake Peavy sparks new life into a team still seathing from the playoff sweep at the hands of Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers.

The deal reportedly went down last night late and was announced to the media in the morning. If you’re keeping score at home, it went something like this:

Cubs Receive: Jake Peavy – SP

Padres Receive: Felix Pie – CF, Sean Marshall – SP, and Jeff Samardzija

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney:

Multiple sources consider it likely the Padres will deal Peavy in the weeks ahead, and that it is a virtual certainty he will be traded before the July 31 deadline next season. The Padres are seeking at least two young pitchers in return, along with someone who can become the team’s everyday center fielder sometime in the immediate to near future. – Source

Hendry felt he could make that happen and jumped on the opportunity in a similar way to when he signed Ted Lilly from the hospital bed. That’s just how he rolls. With rumors that an extension for Ryan Dempster are in the works, the Cubs become the clear cut favorite for the World Series title in 2009.


Man how I want to right that story, and why can’t we? Peavy, himself, recently mentioned that if he was to be traded, he wanted it to be to Atlanta, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Houston or CHICAGO. If the Padres really are looking for the two starting pitchers and a near ready Major League centerfielder, why can’t we provide that? Heck, I’d even give them Fukudome or Tyler Colvin if they wanted one of them instead of Pie. Imagine a rotation of Zambrano, Peavy, Harden, Dempster, Lilly in no particular order. Yikes!!!


I know it’s not going to happen, but wouldn’t it be nice?

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Manny Ramirez or Alfonso Soriano

Friday, October 17th, 2008

If you were given the option right now to take Alfonso Soriano and his contract for the next 6 years or Manny Ramirez at his price for the next 6 years, which would you want? Why?

For me, it’s got to be Soriano for the simple reason that Manny is too much of a head case. I can’t deal with a player like that. I can’t stand his antics and I am not so sure he has all that much left, given his age. I know he takes great care in how hard he works preparing for at bats, but I’ll take the upside of Soriano and the hot streaks he brings and ride out his age. It’s a no-brainer for me.

On a side note, the new design of the site has been delayed due to some issues with the content management system MVN is going to be using. No word on when it will be resolved, so we’ll keep on plugging away on our end. That was the reason for the lack of posting this week.

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Cup of Joe: RIP Kevin Foster

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

We’re rolling out some new features and a new design sometime today. In the meantime, I wanted to throw some interesting notes from around the web. Feel free to send us things you find for feature on the site.

Kevin Foster passed away yesterday after a battle with Cancer. He was one of my favorites when I was growing up. I fell for him similar to the way I fell for guys like Rey Sanchez, Steve Trachsel, and Brant Brown. Baseball Reference took some time to pull up a list of Foster’s best games in terms of game score. Take a look. It’s time to find a cure for Cancer. It has taken far too many people at far to young of an age.

Statistically Speaking asks the question “Was Manny Tanking it in Boston?” I don’t even have to read the article to know the answer to this question. YES!!! That being said, Pizza Cutter makes the case that the power numbers increased as well as a number of other statistical indicators. I get frustrated with a guy like Manny, not only because he just kicked our booty, but because he’s always wasted his talent. Imagine his numbers if he wasn’t such a headcase. He’s going to make the hall of fame, but he’s not one I’ll be happy for. (View Story)

Detroit Tigers Thoughts posted his version of the free agent rankings for some of the positions. This is something that, according to the collective bargaining agreement, determines compensation for a team that lose a free agent. Type A players net the losing team the signing team’s 1st round draft pick. Type B players turn into, essentially, picks between the 1st and 2nd rounds. Here are the links for his series so far: MR (AL / NL), SP (AL / NL) C (AL)

The Hardball Times, one of my favorite blogs out there, released their season awards this week for the hitters and the pitchers. Before you dismiss it as just another award post, give it a try. They come up with interesting names for the awards. (Part I / Part II) I was amazed at how good Jake Peavy was and yet you’d never know it by his record. Imagine if he actually played for a good team with any kind of offense. According to a tip on the SD Tribune, Peavy has garnered some interest via trade rumors.

The Cub Reporter posted some nice photoshop images that made me laugh about our team. My favorite was the children’s book about failure. (View Site)

Finally, you gotta watch this YouTube video of a 9 year old Linebacker / Running Back. Some of the hits this kid lays down are monsterous. He’s a beast.

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