Archive for October, 2008

Fool me once…

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

I will be writing a longer post about off season plans for next year in about an hour. However, I want to throw out a few questions  to get things started this morning. Is this team still, even with the potential losses of Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood and others, the best team by far in the National League Central? Which of the other teams can compete? As you look at things are the Astros, Brewers, Cardinals, and Reds on the way up, down, or stagnant? And what are we?

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Let It Roll or Matt's Crazy Off Season Plan

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

The Chicago Tribune had a poll up Sunday asking which Cubs collapse broke your heart the most. Honestly, I’d have to rank it, and this is only in my lifetime, the 2003 team, the 1984 team, and then this 2008 team. After the 2003 meltdown, I was literally numb for about two weeks. Mountain Dew wasn’t as sweet, Snickers bars weren’t as nougaty, and Old Style still tasted like crap. I believe when, or should I say if, the Cubs win the whole shabang, Old Style will be as fine as a vintage champagne. Yeah, who am I kidding. I didn’t even watch Game 3 on Saturday evening. I was done, the Cubs were done, and to listen to Dick Stockton one more evening would of driven me to the heights of insanity. I had lost my heart in Cubs baseball, all in a matter of four days.

 When Joe asked about each of us doing a “what do they do for next year” post, I actually had no ideas. On paper, and for most of the season, I saw nothing glaringly wrong with the team as it was. They needed a centerfielder, Jim Hendry grabbed Reed Johnson, and later Jim Edmonds. A starter to help fend off the Brewers, he traded for Rich Harden. What else could you ask for? Maybe a little bullpen help, but most of the time they were fine. Do you really make a major change with a team that just won back to back NL Central titles? I don’t think so, much to the chagrin of all some of you that want major changes. My bigger gripe about the team’s failure in the post season. Management. Why in god’s name did Lou reinsert Kosuke Fukudome into the lineup? Better yet, why did he bat him second? Why would you mess with a lineup that you’ve stuck with almost the whole year, and change it for the biggest series of the year? Blame the offense all you want, I blame Lou just as much. He tinkered when it wasn’t necessary.

Here’s my realistic ideas:

  • Re-sign Reed Johnson. Platoon him with Pie in centerfield.
  • Make Mark DeRosa your everyday right fielder. Put Mike Fontenot in as your second baseman. You’ll get two good bats in the lineup, and a lefty which is sorely needed in the right handed heavy Cubs lineup. You lose some defense in right, but after this year, they need to reward Mark with an everyday position, not as a super sub. If necessary, go sign a Felipe Lopez, utility type player to fill the super sub role.
  • Kosuke Fukudome heads to Iowa to learn American styled hitting and pitching. The Mets did it with Kaz Matsui, maybe it’s Kosuke’s time. He’s in Lou’s doghouse as it is, I don’t see this ending well, any way you slice it.
  • Micah Hoffpauir becomes the pinch hitter. He’s no worse defensively than Ward. And cheaper.
  • Re-sign Dempster and Wood. With the NLDS loss, they may take a hit in salary to see if they can get the job done, like they should have this year.
  • Sign Jeremy Affledt to strenghten up the middle relief, and give Lou another lefty in the pen. 
  • Resign Hank White. He’s a great mentor to Geo, and is one of the few people that can probably keep Zambrano under control.

And of course, some pie in the sky ideas:

  • Don’t resign Dempster. Make a serious run at CC Sabathia. Heck, sign Dempster, then go get Sabathia. Get us a dominating scary #1 pitcher.
  • Go balls out, and sign Manny Ramirez. Move Soriano to right field. Again, Fukudome gets to check out the cornfields of Iowa for awhile.

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  • Trade for Robinson Cano.  The Yankees are looking for pitching and a centerfielder. We seem to have both of those. If you trade Pie, you resign Edmonds. I think a full Spring Training will benefit him. He became a clubhouse leader, from what I’ve been told, the day he arrived.

I’ll be honest. I’d be very happy to see the same team next year, with a tweak or two. Hendry’s close, and I think this team is going to be hungry next year. Really hungry. Not to mention, the free agent crop is below average, and most of them are past their twilight years. I’m not sure it’d be worth the risk. Of course, I see a nice young power pitching right hander is available. Mark Prior anyone?

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Morning Cuppa Joe: Carlos Marmol Injured

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Carlos Marmol was injured in a car accident in the Dominican Republic (Source) – “Out of precaution they did different studies on my body, and I don’t have any kind of serious injury” Do you think that involved any kind of test on his shoulder after Lou pitched his arm off? I’m curious to see what route the Cubs are going to go this off-season with the Marmol and Wood situation. Marmol will be here and if Wood returns, you have to think the roles will remain the same. If Wood moves on, Marmol would step into the closer’s role, but is he ready?

The Reds have paved the way for the Cubs to bring back Corey Patterson (Source Six Reasons Why move ) – Obviously you know I’m kidding when I say that, but I found it funny that amid all the rumors that Patterson was getting his freak on with Dusty’s daughter, the Reds have decided not to bring back the one time prized prospect in the Cubs system. Question of the day then becomes. Would you rather rely on Corey Patterson or Felix Pie for your centerfield future? In other news, Shawn Estes also became a free agent. Anyone interested? Anyone?

Could Jim Hendry leave the team? Anything is possible. (Source) – “In recent days, the Cubs’ brass have taken the first steps toward convincing general manager Jim Hendry to stay with the team.” Wow, that’s something I hadn’t heard before today. I thought Hendry was happy here, and maybe he is. The fact that he can opt out never even came to my mind. Awhile back some might have been in favor of this, but I like Jim Hendry and the job he has done with this team in his tenure. It would be a disaster if he were to leave this off-season, especially if it happened in December.

Rich Harden decision not made yet. (Source) – Carrie Muskat mentions that Jim Hendry is still weighing his options on this one. I’m not worried about it one bit. I fully expect him to be back and ready to go for this team in 2009. That’s not to say that I see him making 32+ starts.

I genuinely feel bad for Fukudome. – So many people have hated on the guy and trashed him. “My record as an individual wasn’t good at all, and I’m sorry that I disappointed some of the fans who had really high regards for me.” That was what Fukudome had to say and I would imagine it was a hit to the pride to say it. Call me a softy, but I’ve forgiven him for the bad season and I’m ready to embrace him come next year.

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The 2009 Free Agent List

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Since we keep talking about blowing up the Cubs roster, or at least tweaking it, here’s your list of possible players. It’s not good this year.

Updated 10-7-08

Brad Ausmus (40)
Paul Bako (37)
Rod Barajas (33) – $2.5MM club option for ’09 with a $0.5MM buyout
Josh Bard (31)
Michael Barrett (32)
Henry Blanco (37) – $3MM mutual option for ’09 with a $0.3MM buyout
Johnny Estrada (33)
Toby Hall (33) – $2.25MM club option for ’09 with a $0.15MM buyout
Jason LaRue (35)
Paul Lo Duca (37)
Miguel Olivo (30) – $2.7MM mutual option for ’09 with a $0.1MM buyout
Mike Redmond (38) – $0.95MM club option for ’09 with a $0.1MM buyout
Ivan Rodriguez (37)
David Ross (32)
Javier Valentin (33)
Jason Varitek (37)
Gregg Zaun (38)

First basemen
Rich Aurilia (37)
Hank Blalock (28) – $6.2MM club option for ’09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Sean Casey (34)
Tony Clark (37)
Carlos Delgado (37) – $12MM club option for ’09 with a $4MM buyout
Nomar Garciaparra (35)
Jason Giambi (38) – $22MM club option for ’09 with a $5MM buyout
Eric Hinske (31)
Doug Mientkiewicz (35)
Kevin Millar (37)
Richie Sexson (34)
Mark Teixeira (29)
Daryle Ward (34)

Second basemen
Willie Bloomquist (31)
Jamey Carroll (35) – $2.5MM club option for ’09 with a $0.15MM buyout
Craig Counsell (38)
Ray Durham (37)
Damion Easley (39)
David Eckstein (34)
Mark Ellis (32)
Mark Grudzielanek (39)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (33)
Orlando Hudson (31)
Tadahito Iguchi (34)
Jeff Kent (41)
Felipe Lopez (29)
Mark Loretta (37)
Nick Punto (31)

Willie Bloomquist (31)
Orlando Cabrera (34)
Alex Cintron (30)
Alex Cora (33)
Craig Counsell (38)
David Eckstein (34)
Adam Everett (32)
Rafael Furcal (31)
Nomar Garciaparra (35)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (33)
Cesar Izturis (29)
Felipe Lopez (29)
Edgar Renteria (33)
Juan Uribe (30)
Ramon Vazquez (32)
Omar Vizquel (42) – $5.2MM club option for ’09 with a $0.3MM buyout

Third basemen
Rich Aurilia (37)
Casey Blake (35)
Hank Blalock (28) – $6.2MM club option for ’09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Willie Bloomquist (31)
Aaron Boone (36)
Russell Branyan (33)
Craig Counsell (38)
Joe Crede (31)
Nomar Garciaparra (35)
Mark Loretta (37)
Fernando Tatis (34)
Ramon Vazquez (32)

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Moises Alou (42)
Garret Anderson (37) – $14MM club option for ’09 with a $3MM buyout
Milton Bradley (31)
Emil Brown (34)
Pat Burrell (32)
Carl Crawford (27) – $8.25MM club option for ’09 with a $2.5MM buyout
Adam Dunn (29)
Cliff Floyd (36) – $2.75MM club option for ’09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Luis Gonzalez (41)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (33)
Raul Ibanez (37)
Gabe Kapler (33)
Kevin Mench (31)
Jason Michaels (33) – $2.6MM club option for ’09
Craig Monroe (32)
Greg Norton (36)
Jay Payton (36)
Wily Mo Pena (27) – $5MM club option or $2MM player option for ’09
Manny Ramirez (37)
Juan Rivera (30)
Fernando Tatis (34)

Center fielders
Rocco Baldelli (27)
Willie Bloomquist (31)
Mike Cameron (36) – $10MM club option for ’09 with a $750K buyout
Jim Edmonds (39)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (33)
Gabe Kapler (33)
Mark Kotsay (33)
Corey Patterson (29)
Scott Podsednik (33)

Right fielders
Bobby Abreu (35)
Casey Blake (35)
Cliff Floyd (36) – $2.75MM club option for ’09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Brian Giles (38) – $9MM club option for ’09 with a $3MM buyout
Ken Griffey Jr. (39) – $16.5MM club option for ’09 with a $4MM buyout
Vladimir Guerrero (33) – $15MM club option for ’09 with a $3MM buyout
Gabe Kapler (33)
Jason Michaels (33) – $2.6MM club option for ’09
Fernando Tatis (34)
Brad Wilkerson (32)

Milton Bradley (31)
Pat Burrell (32)
Adam Dunn (29)
Cliff Floyd (36) – $2.75MM club option for ’09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Jason Giambi (38) – $22MM club option for ’09 with $5MM buyout
Vladimir Guerrero (33) – $15MM club option for ’09 with a $3MM buyout
Raul Ibanez (37)
Manny Ramirez (37)
Juan Rivera (30)
Mike Sweeney (35)
Frank Thomas (41)
Jose Vidro (34)

Starting pitchers
Kris Benson (33)
A.J. Burnett (32) – can opt out after ’08 season
Paul Byrd (38)
Roger Clemens (46)
Matt Clement (33)
Bartolo Colon (36)
Ryan Dempster (32)
Shawn Estes (36)
Josh Fogg (32)
Freddy Garcia (33)
Jon Garland (29)
Tom Glavine (43)
Mike Hampton (36)
Mark Hendrickson (35)
Livan Hernandez (34)
Orlando Hernandez (43)
Jason Jennings (30)
Randy Johnson (45)
John Lackey (30) – $9MM club option for ’09 with a $0.5MM buyout
Jon Lieber (39)
Braden Looper (34)
Rodrigo Lopez (33) – club option for ’09
Derek Lowe (36)
Greg Maddux (43)
Pedro Martinez (37)
Sergio Mitre (28)
Jamie Moyer (46)
Mark Mulder (31) – $11MM club option for ’09 with a $1.5MM buyout
Mike Mussina (40)
Carl Pavano (33) – $13MM club option for ’09 with a $1.95MM buyout
Brad Penny (31) – $8.75MM club option for ’09 with a $2MM buyout
Odalis Perez (32)
Oliver Perez (27)
Andy Pettitte (37)
Sidney Ponson (32)
Mark Prior (27)
Kenny Rogers (44)
Glendon Rusch (34)
C.C. Sabathia (28)
Curt Schilling (42)
Ben Sheets (30)
John Smoltz (42)
Tim Wakefield (42) – perpetual $4MM club option
Kip Wells (32)
Randy Wolf (32)


Brian Fuentes (33)
Eric Gagne (33)
Eddie Guardado (38)
Trevor Hoffman (41)
Jason Isringhausen (36)
Brandon Lyon (29)
Francisco Rodriguez (27)
Salomon Torres (37) – $3.75MM club option for ’09 with a $0.3MM buyout
Kerry Wood (32)

Middle relievers
Jeremy Affeldt (30)
Luis Ayala (31)
Joe Beimel (32)
Joe Borowski (38)
Doug Brocail (42)
Shawn Chacon (31)
Juan Cruz (30)
Alan Embree (39) – $3MM club option for ’09
Scott Eyre (37)
Kyle Farnsworth (33)
Casey Fossum (31)
Keith Foulke (35)
Tom Gordon (41) – $4.5MM club option for ’09 with a $1MM buyout
LaTroy Hawkins (36)
Mark Hendrickson (35)
Matt Herges (39) – club option for ’09
Bob Howry (35)
Jon Lieber (39)
Jason Johnson (35)
Damaso Marte (34) – $6MM club option for ’09 with a $0.25MM buyout
Trever Miller (36) – $2MM club option for ’09 with a $0.4MM buyout
Guillermo Mota (35)
Will Ohman (31)
Darren Oliver (38)
Chan Ho Park (36)
Horacio Ramirez (29)
Al Reyes (38)
Dennys Reyes (32)
Arthur Rhodes (39)
Juan Rincon (30)
Glendon Rusch (34)
Rudy Seanez (40)
Brian Shouse (40)
Russ Springer (40)
Mike Timlin (43)
Ron Villone (39)
David Weathers (39)
Kip Wells (32)
Matt Wise (33)
Jamey Wright (34)

MLB4U and Cot’s Baseball Contracts were used in the creation of this list.

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If I Were King

Monday, October 6th, 2008

As will soon become obvious, there are plenty of reasons why I’m neither the Manager nor the General Manager of the Chicago Cubs. But Joe Aiello asked me to play “King For A Day”, so here goes.

For the purposes of this Off-Season drill, I will assume that the Cubs Organization, under its new ownership, has beaucoup bucks; enough $$ to do all the things I suggest without blinking an eye.

Since we have two totally different performances (2008 Regular Season and 2008 Post Season) upon which to base our decisions, there will be a degree of cognitive dissonance inherent to the process. Fasten your seatbelts.

Lou says we need good pitching, good defense and timely hitting. I agree, and we’ll address each of those requirements in that order.

I have confidence in the starting rotation of Ryan Dempster, Rich Harden, Ted Lilly and Carlos Zambrano. From what I’ve seen recently Angel Guzman, Sean Marshall or Jason Marquis could be the #5 starter in 2009.

Now we get into the intangibles. Guzman looked good during his two innings in Milwaukee. I could go with him as the #5 starter based upon that. Marshall looked good in LA against the first 3 batters he faced, but then he gave up a double to DeWitt and was gone in a flash. Maybe there are some historical negatives in his resume that I’m missing. Marquis was superb against the Mets, but since then not so good.

For now I call Guzman our #5 starter and bump Marquis and Marshall to the bullpen in the hope that one or both will become the middle reliever we desperately need.

Carlos Marmol was lights out Saturday night mowing down five in a row. Neal Cotts fired three Ks in the LA’s eighth inning Saturday, but walked the only man he faced on Thursday. Decision time for King Cubbie Dude. OK, Marmol and Kerry Wood will alternate the Closer role. Cotts and Samardzija stay in the bullpen and may serve as set-up men. Gaudin, Hart, Howry, Wells and Wuertz become expendable. I keep Wells and Wuertz if I can.

Just for insurance, and to help in the eventual 2009 postseason, I sign CC Sabathia and Jonathon Broxton.


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Geovany Soto remains my catcher with Henry Blanco as his backup.

Aramis Ramirez remains at 3B, Ryan Theriot at SS, Mark DeRosa at 2B, and Derrek Lee stays at 1B. Cedeno, Fontenot, Hoffpauir and McGehee stay in supporting roles. Daryle Ward is gone.

Since I have lawyers, guns and money at my disposal, Rafael Furcal may be joining our infield. Albert Pujols, too.

I really like Alfonso Soriano’s arm in left field. Did you see his throw to 3B Saturday night? That was surgically precise, if there is such a thing. Unfortunately, Alfonso’s arm is attached to the rest of him, and I’m just not that fond of the rest of him at the moment. So the Fonz is gone and Manny Ramirez joins us in left field. That was easy. Kosuke Fukudome is our new center fielder. Jim Edmonds is retiring. Reed Johnson and Felix Pie will platoon right field. Unless Manny can’t make it, in which case either Reed or Felix moves to left.

The lack of offense killed us in the postseason. Of this there is no doubt. As King, I have tried to fix that problem by hiring Manny Ramirez, Albert Pujols and Rafael Furcal. In addition to those acquisitions, however, I’m gonna bust a move in a different direction.

Rather than hire guys with a history of hitting and then cross my fingers hoping they continue to hit here (I’m not mentioning any names), I’m going to invest big time and create a cabinet level hitting department. I can’t get Ted Williams to head it up, but dammit, somebody is out there who can coach and instruct and motivate and get our guys to provide the offense we need. I’m gonna find that person and build around him. And it’s gonna work. The 2009 Cubs will be a hitting machine: pre, regular and post season.

As you can see, I don’t believe in the “Fire Everybody, Start Over” method of team building. We have a good team. I want to keep the good parts and improve where there’s room for improvement.

I may travel to Arizona in February to personally oversee the implementation of my plan to dominate the world of professional baseball. I’m considering it.

So, for now, that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it!

P.S. I also plan to petition MLB and insist that, henceforth, all Wrigley Field Postseason Games will be day games starting at 1:20 pm CST. Who the hell ever heard of starting an October game at Wrigley at 9:00 pm? Bad Karma. Screw the Extremely Annoying BiCoastal Media Jackals.Ring of Death download

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