Archive for January, 2009

A Transactional Summary of the Offseason

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

On this lazy Saturday I wanted to summarize for you what we’ve done this off-season to date. On Monday, look for a post about who I feel will be on the 25 man roster come opening day. Tuesday we’ll take some time to compare the playoff roster from 2008 with my projected 2009 roster to see if we truly are better and more equipped to win the World Series in 2009. I hope so.

Trades

  • 11/13 – Acquired Kevin Gregg from Florida in exchange for Jose Ceda
  • 12/11 – Acquired David Patton from Cincinnati for Cash
  • 12/31 – Acquired Jeff Stevens, Chris Archer and John Gaub from Cleveland in exchange to Mark DeRosa
    Little Black Book movie

  • 1/6 – Acquired Luis Vizcaino from Colorado in exchange for Jason Marquis

    Kill Bill: Vol. 1 full

  • 1/18 – Acquired Garrett Olson and Henry Williamson from Baltimore in exchange for Felix Pie and his twisted testicles.
  • 1/28 – Acquired Aaron Heilman from Seattle in exchange for Garrett Olson and Ronny Cedeno

Signings

  • 11/18 – Signed Ryan Dempster to a four year contract worth $52M (2009 – $8M, 2010 – $12.5M, 2011 – $13.5M, 2012 – $14M with a player option to opt out)
  • 12/3 – Signed Chad Fox to a minor league contract with an invitation to try to blow his arm out in Spring Training. Maybe then he’ll finally go away.
  • 12/12 – Signed Chad Gaudin ($2M), Reed Johnson ($3M), and Neal Cotts ($1.1M) to one year contracts to avoid going to arbitration for salary negotiation.
  • 12/16 – Signed Joey Gathright ($0.8M) to a one year contract
  • 12/31 – Signed Aaron Miles to a two year contract worth $4.9M (2009 – $2.2M, 2010 – $2.7M)
  • 1/5 – Signed Bill White to a minor league contract and invited him to spend his spring in Mesa with the big boys
  • 1/8 – Signed Milton Bradley to a three year contract worth $30M with a $4M signing bonus (2009 – $5M, 2010 – $9M, 2011 – $12M with a possible club buyout of $2M based on how healthy he can remain)
  • 1/14 – Signed Matt Smith and So Taguchi to minor league contracts and invited them to bask in the sun and check out the Arizona hotties at Ho Ho Kam Park

Miscellaneous

  • 10/13 – Carmen Pignatiello sent outright to Triple-A
  • 10/29 – Billy Petrick sent outright to Triple-A
  • 10/29 – Waived Casey McGehee and lost him to Milwaukee
  • 11/19 – Added Mitch Atkins, Justin Berg, and Marcos Mateo to the 40-Man Roster
  • 1/20 – Sent cordial invitations with RSVP requested for Spring Training to Steve Clevenger, Wellington Castillo, Ed Campusano, J.R. Mathes, Doug Deeds, Andrew Cashner, Esmailin Caridad, Rocky Roquet, Darwin Barney, Bobby Scales, Jason DuBois, Luis Rivas, Mike Stanton, and new Japanese import Ken Kadokura.
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Paul Bako Returns To Chicago

Friday, January 30th, 2009

From the Chicago Cubs Media Department:

CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs and catcher Paul Bako have agreed to terms on a 2009 contract. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Bako, 36, last season set career highs with 30 runs scored, 35 RBI and six home runs in 99 games with the Cincinnati Reds. He batted .217 (65-for-299) with 11 doubles and two triples. He owns a career .231 batting average (482-for-2086) with 94 doubles, 21 home runs and 186 RBI in 745 big league games. Bako’s .305 career on-base percentage is 74 points higher than his career batting average.

Flight of Fury on dvd

The left-handed hitter rejoins the Cubs organization after spending his first 11 major league seasons with 10 different clubs, including two years with the Cubs from 2003-04. He broke into the big leagues with the Tigers in 1998 and has also played for the Astros (1999-2000), Marlins (2000), Braves (2000-01), Brewers (2002), Cubs (2003-04), Dodgers (2005), Royals (2006), Orioles (2007) and Reds (2008).

Bako has thrown out 28.2 percent of attempted basestealers in his career, including a 26.7-percent success rate last season with the Reds. He has a .990 career fielding percentage behind the plate.

The six-foot-two, 215-pound Bako was a member of the 2003 National League Central Division winning Cubs club that advanced to the National League Championship Series. He also was a member of the Atlanta Braves post-seasons teams in 2000 and 2001.

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Headlines: Soriano, Seeing Dead People, & Disco Night

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

So the Cubs made the move for a starting pitcher, no not that one, and Ronny Cedeno is gone as a result. Perhaps now the Theriot vs. Cedeno debate will finally be put to rest. That being said, here are some interesting headlines I’ve run across over the last few days. Enjoy, and feel free to actually read the story that goes with them.

Starters Should Be Strength For Cubs

Mirror Mirror move

– Carrie Muskat (Story)

No kidding Carrie. Thanks for stating the obvious. They really pay you for that? Here I was thinking that adding Paul Bako to the mix would make Catcher the strength of the team. Thanks for setting me straight.

Potential New Cubs Owner Similar to Bill Veeck – Paul Sullivan (Story)

Rock on!!! Disco demolition night here we come.

Soriano Fine With Hitting Down In The Order Tomorrow Never Dies the movie – Dave van Dyck (Story)

It’s taken this long to get to this point? Also in that article was the quote from Soriano “I want to work on my legs and see what happens. I want to work hard and play 162 games this year” Good luck with that. I’ll set the over/under at 140 for games played. I’ll take the under but hope for the over.

The Governor is Here to Save the Cubs – Steve Rosenbloom (Story)

Seriously….this guy really must have something wrong upstairs. I don’t live in lllinois, and can’t for the life of me figure out why you guys would elect this goof.

No Need to Make Peavy Commitment At This Point – Neil Hayes (Story

Joe’s Apartment psp

)

It’s roughly two weeks till spring training and the new owner, technically, hasn’t been made final. When exactly is the time to make that commitment?

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Cubs Aquire Aaron Heilman from Seattle

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

From the Chicago Cubs Media Relations Dept. comes this release:

CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs today acquired right-handed pitcher Aaron Heilman from the Seattle Mariners for infielder Ronny Cedeno and left-handed pitcher Garrett Olson.

Heilman, 30, has gone 22-33 with nine saves and a 4.24 ERA (212 ER/450.1 IP) in 305 appearances (25 starts) in all or part of the last six seasons with the New York Mets.  He has limited opponents to a .245 batting average (413-for-1687) during this time, including a .241 mark (227-for-940) by righthanders and a .249 average (186-for-747) by lefthanders.  Heilman has struck out 395 batters in 450.1 innings, an average of 7.9 strikeouts per nine innings, while his 69 holds since the start of the 2005 season rank third in the National League.

The righthander recorded three consecutive seasons with a 3.62 ERA or lower starting with his first full major league campaign in 2005 when he went 5-3 with five saves and a 3.17 ERA (38 ER/108.0 IP) in 53 appearances, including seven starts.  Starting in 2006 when he went 4-5 with a 3.62 ERA (35 ER/87.0 IP) in 74 appearances, Heilman has pitched exclusively in relief and averaged 78 appearances in each campaign.

Heilman turned in his strongest season in 2007 when he went 7-7 with one save and a 3.03 ERA (29 ER/86.0 IP) in 81 outings, setting career bests in wins, ERA and appearances.  He ranked third in the National League in relief wins, fifth in appearances and tied for eighth with 22 holds.  Heilman stranded 21 of his 29 inherited runners, including his first 16 of the season, and finished strong by posting a 1.85 ERA (8 ER/39.0 IP) in his final 36 outings starting July 22.

In 2008, Heilman went 3-8 with three saves and a 5.21 ERA (44 ER/76.0 IP) in 78 appearances.  He averaged better than one strikeout per inning pitched (80 K/76.0 IP) and limited right-handed foes to a .222 batting average (38-for-171).  Following the season, Heilman was acquired by the Mariners as part of a three-team, 12-player deal on December 10.

Heilman enjoyed a standout four-year career at the University of Notre Dame and was selected by the Mets in the first round of the 2001 Draft (18th overall).  He compiled a 43-7 record with a 2.49 ERA in four years with the Irish, including a senior season in which he went 15-0 with a 1.74 ERA in 15 starts to earn first-team All-American honors from Collegiate Baseball Magazine

Sam Kinison: Breaking the Rules divx

Macbeth release

for the fourth year in a row.  Heilman graduated from Logansport (Ind.) High School and currently resides in the Chicago area.

Cedeno, who turns 26 on February 2, has played all or part of the last four seasons with the Cubs, batting .252 (228-for-904) with 13 home runs and 88 RBI in 329 career major league contests.  He batted .269 (58-for-216) with 12 doubles, two home runs and 28 RBI in 99 games for the Cubs in 2008.

Olson, 25, was acquired by the Cubs from the Orioles on January 18 for outfielder Felix Pie.  The southpaw made his big league debut with seven starts for Baltimore in 2007 at the age of 23 and followed up with 26 starts in 2008.  Olson went 9-10 with a 6.65 ERA (98 ER/132.2 IP) last year, ranking fourth among American League rookies in starts, fifth in wins and innings pitched and sixth with 83 strikeouts.

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Randy Bush Named Pitch & Hit Club Executive of the Year

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

From the Chicago Cubs Media Relations Dept comes this Release:

CHICAGO – Chicago Cubs Assistant General Manager Randy Bush tonight was named the Executive of the Year by the Pitch and Hit Club of Chicago at their 63rd annual awards dinner.

“I’d like to thank the Pitch and Hit Club for this tremendous honor,” said Bush. “I’m humbled to be part of an incredible baseball operations staff with the Cubs, led by our General Manager Jim Hendry, and humbled to accept this award on behalf of the Chicago Cubs organization.”

“Randy Bush is a rising star in the industry,” said Hendry. “His knowledge of the game is second to none and his contribution to our scouting and development efforts brings our operation to a higher level. I join the Pitch and Hit Club and the Chicago Cubs organization in saluting Randy on this deserved honor.”

I Know You Know ipod

A two-time World Series Champion as a player with the Minnesota Twins, Bush has spent more than 25 years in the professional and collegiate ranks as a player, manager, coach, scout and executive. He won his championship rings in 1987 and 1991 as part of a 12-year major league career.

In helping the Twins to the 1991 title, Bush batted .303 (50-for-165) with a .401 on-base percentage in 93 games. He is one of only six players to be part of both Twins championships, joining Dan Gladden, Kent Hrbek, Al Newman, Gene Larkin and Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett.

A left-handed batter and thrower, Bush was selected by the Twins in the second round (37th overall) of the 1979 Draft out of the University of New Orleans. He batted .369 with 18 home runs in 1979 to help the Privateers to their second-best record in school history with a 49-14 mark. Following his playing career, Bush returned to his alma mater as head baseball coach for five seasons from 2000-04.

Bush joined the Chicago Cubs front office as a special assistant to the General Manager on January 26, 2005 and was charged with evaluating the club’s minor league system, working with the major and minor league clubs on field during spring training and assisting in professional scouting. He was promoted to his current position on December 20, 2006.

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Crane Kenney on Waddle & Silvy

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Cubs chairman, Crane Kenney, appeared on the Waddle & Silvy show yesterday to talk Cubs. Here were the highlights from the show:

A Haunting in Connecticut move
  • The next step in the ownership process is to negotiate final terms with the Ricketts family to finish a deal for the sale of the team. The other bidders are in waiting and if a deal can’t be done with the Ricketts, they’ll move down the list.
  • The number of bidders and the bankruptcy of the Tribune Company slowed the process down significantly.
  • The Ricketts family comes to the table with no agenda other than to own the team for a long time and build a winner. They look at the stadium as a cathedral and want to make sure it stays special.
  • If a Peavy deal were to happen, it would have to have the stamp of approval, from a payroll standpoint, from the new owner.
  • None of the front office has discussed with the new owner if they’ll be staying around. My guess is that they will be staying. Damien: Omen II move
  • The Cubs would love to get on with Wrigley 2014, which is a plan to continue to improve the ballpark and the area surrounding it.
  • The move to bring in the priest was a dumb decision by Kenny. He takes the heat for that one.
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Steve Stone on 670 the Score

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Steve Stone made an appearance yesterday on 670 AM with Zach Zaidman to talk Cubs. Here were the highlights:

  • Ricketts is best thing for the Cubs because of the fact that the family is the biggest Cub fans of the three final bidders. They understand the Cubs and their history as well as their brand.
  • He believes the first order of business will be to go after Peavy now that the new owner will be able to give an OK on the cost.
  • Should win the division by double digits and should have more balance than last year.
  • Thought they should save some money for mid-season acquisitions.
  • The only time a Corporation has won the World Series was when the Angels won it and they were in the process of selling the team from Disney to Arte Moreno
  • Pitfalls for the new owner – Inheriting lots of back loaded contracts and the fans can’t be asked to pay the freight for that. New owners have to be creative in generating revenue outside the walls to keep costs down for fans.
  • Wrigley Field is going to be renovated in stages instead of one larger renovation. Doing it all at once would put the Cubs away for more than an year and that would be a tough loss of revenue.
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Friday Funnies

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

This has nothing to do with baseball, but it’s darn funny.
Big Fish trailer

Damien: Omen II download

The Code Conspiracy video

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Hennry Blanco gone, Rich Harden out, So now who's Closing?

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

It’s day 2 of the return for VFTB. Not much on the plate tonight, just a few notes to report.

San Diego loves the Cubs – Buster Olney reported that the San Diego Padres have agreed to a one-year deal for $750,000 with Henry Blanco. He should serve as a mentor for their young catcher and seems to leave the Cubs looking at Koyie Hill as the backup catcher coming into spring training this year. You know what? I’m fine with that. Hill did enough with the staff in his time up two years ago to trust him as the backup this year. Having Blanco last year was key for Soto, but that role isn’t as needed at this point. Now, the question becomes whether or not this is Blanco’s last year and if so, where does he begin his coaching career once he retires?

In other news, the Padres have also claimed former Cub, Jae Kuk Ryu off waivers from the Rays. The coolest part about the story though is that it led me to find out that the GM, Paul DePodesta, has his own blog

. How cool is that? I’d love it if all GM’s did this. It would be a great avenue for the fans to get inside the mind of a GM.

Baseball America’s Minor League Transactions - The Prospects blog updates these on a regular basis. Here was the latest entry for the Cubs.

Signed: RHP Ken Kadokura, LHP Matt Smith, 3B Erick Almonte, SS Joseph Colon, OF So Taguchi

The Cubs certainly won’t be lacking in Japanese veteran presence in spring training. Taguchi, 39, has emerged as something of a household name (in ways that Tsuyoshi Shinjo never did in this country) for his presence on three World Series teams, with the ‘06 Cardinals and ‘08 Phillies emerging as winners. And if you want to make a Mets fan wince, remind him of the ninth-inning home run Taguchi hit off Billy Wagner in Game Two of the ‘06 NLCS. But back to our regularly scheduled program . . . Kadokura, a 35-year-old reliever who was released by the Yomiuri Giants, logged just 12 2/3 innings in the Central League in 2008, posting a 3.55 ERA and a 16-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

So, Rich Harden was hurt….that’s not good – I say that sarchastically, of course. The shoulder will keep him out of competing for Team Canada in the upcoming World Baseball Classic…Not that Canada had a chance anyway.

Who’s in the 9th? – According to Lou, Carlos Marmol & Kevin Gregg will both compete this spring for the closer role coming into the season. My guess is that it’s only to not take a shot at Gregg. Unless he totally blows Marmol out of the water, I look for Gregg to be pitching in the 7th and 8th.

“Let them compete…I feel comfortable with Marmol, there’s no question. But we traded for this other young man, and he was a closer over there with success. Give him a chance, too.” ~ Lou Piniella

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