Archive for February, 2009

Spring Training Battles: Centerfield

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

This one is simple for me, though many may disagree. If I was starting the season right now, Kosuke Fukudome is my everyday centerfielder. I like Reed Johnson a lot. I know he did great things for us last year in that platoon role, but the fact is that he’s not an everyday, 150 start kind of guy. I truly believe he can be the kind of guy we need in a platoon role, but not as an everyday starter.

Fukudome, on the other hand, was a bit of a disappointment last year and very much needs to rebound. I feel like a lot of the failures were due to being in a new country, with the longer schedule, more travel, and day/night games. That’s a lot of transition for a guy to get used to in addition to being away from a newborn baby and wife while trying to learn what to expect from all the pitchers. You’re going to see a much better Fukudome at the plate this year, but the only way to see it is to give him the starts he needs to put up the numbers we paid for.

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Spring Training Battles: Second Base

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

I don’t know that I’ve weighed in on who I’m pulling for this spring for the three spots that are up for grabs this spring. The way I see it, the three spots are CF, 2B, and 5th Starter. All are intriguing to me and I wanted to take a minute to let you know my thoughts over the next couple of days. I’m curious if you agree.

Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties trailer

Aaron Miles vs. Mike Fontenot

The Last Unicorn download This is probably the battle I’m most looking forward to watching because each of the different things these guys bring to the table. Miles brings the experience of batting leadoff, which would allow Lou to move Soriano down in the order. On the other hand, his bat is less than impressive and he could end up being a part time type player. Fontenot brings some extra power to the mix, but has never had an everyday job and could show his true colors when given the mix. At the same time, he could also put the kind of numbers he has put up over part time seasons over the past two years. It’s a tough call either way. In the end, I tend to lean toward the Fontenot camp simply because he’s earned his shot at the starting job by paying his dues as a bench guy and playing well in that role. He deserves the shot to play everyday and I’m pulling for him over Miles.

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We Want You

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

With spring training games set to kick off this week, we’re looking to add a few more friends into the mix of regular contributors. Here is what we’d like to see from you, if possible.

    The Devil’s Brigade divx

  • Past blogging history (sports or non-sports related)
  • General statistical knowledge (saber stats not needed)
  • Interest in contributing 2-4 post per week
  • Knowledge of the farm system a plus
  • Knowledge of WordPress CMS (Blogging CMS we use) a plus

    A Good Man Is Hard to Find

If you’re interested, please contact me at: to discuss any possible openings we may still have.

I’ll be back later today with something more Cub related.

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Play Index Stat of the Week: Worst Season Ever

Friday, February 20th, 2009

I have decided to run a regular feature this season each week in which we take a look at various stats using the wonderful tool provided (at minimal cost) by Baseball Reference. If you haven’t seen it yet, go check out Play Index and see all of the great tools it provides.

Today we take a look at the worst season offensively in Cub history by a player who played enough to qualify for the batting title. I’ve highlighted the top 25 results and pointed out two of the more recent examples for you to ponder. I ran the search using the criteria of OPS+ as the deciding factor. If you’re unfamiliar with that stat, it measures that an average player has an OPS+ of 100.

To view the entire list, head over to the results I searched for on Play Index

A Good Man Is Hard to Find film

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The Annual Ticket Scrum

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Originally posted by Tim McGinnis on Tales from Aisle 424 Bolt buy

Sometimes They Come Back hd

After maxing out on season ticket sales, providing advanced sales of a 13-game package to people on the season ticket waiting list, and pre-selling seats to their own ticket scalping service, the scores of remaining single-game tickets will go on sale to the public at 8:00 AM on Friday morning.

The Cubs instituted a wristband policy a few years ago to prevent people from camping out in front of the ticket offices overnight. This has proved to be one of the wisest moves the Cubs have ever made, since the demand has risen so high that there would be people living in a makeshift shanty town established at the corner of Clark and Addison moments after the final out of the previous season.

I love the Cubs. I think I’ve established that, even among those who only know me through this blog. Nevertheless, the annual feeding frenzy for the single-game tickets amazes me every year. There will be people standing in line in the frigid cold, or waiting hours in the online virtual waiting rooms hoping to get the right to buy an obstructed view seat for a game againt the White Sox or Cardinals.

Let me tell anyone who may be considering purchasing an obstructed view seat at Wrigley Field on the rationale that it gets you into the park: That is all it does. It gets you in the park. When you get an obstructed view seat that actually says so on the ticket, they are not kidding around. The only thing you will be able to see is whatever graffiti may have been written on the pole by the person who sat there for the game before.

If the pole is only partially or mostly in your sight lines, the ticket will not indicate it as obstructed view. You have been warned.

Also, be prepared to not get anything you want. As many rules and regulations as the Cubs dream up to prevent the non-Cub sanctioned scalpers from buying up all the tickets to the good games, those same scalpers always manage to find a way around those rules to suck up whatever remaining scraps of tickets are left.

Anybody hoping to get tickets online will have a two hour disadvantage to the live braceleted ticket buyers because the tickets start selling at the box office at 8:00 AM, but the online sales begin at 10:00 AM. If you’re looking for Opening Day (and I am, by the way, if anyone has an extra), or Crosstown tickets online – I wish you luck and hope that you like scattered single seats in the 500 sections.

Those three people who get the tickets they want will dance around like Charlie Bucket after finding the Willy Wonka Golden Ticket. I only ask that you not wave them around in front of those who are not so lucky. People have been known to get shot for lesser things in this city.

Good luck to everyone. I will be trying to get that extra Opening Day ticket, so I’ll see you around the virtual waiting room.

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Quick Hits: The Three Hole

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

A lot was made last year about how Derrek Lee was not the right man for the job because he hits into too many double plays. People have already said they want to see a change in that spot this year and have brought up Alfonso Soriano, Milton Bradley, and Aramis Ramirez as possible replacements in that spot.

Shadow Puppets film

Vipers move

The fact remains, Lee grounded into 27 double plays last year, more than 2006 and 2007 combined. I can’t explain how that happened, but what I know is that before last year, he had never hit into more than 15 over the last 9 out of 10 seasons he’s played in. You might argue that perhaps those teams were not very good and as a result, he didn’t have enough runners on base, but I would point out that some of those have been playoff teams and one was a World Series winning team.

WALL-E rip

I don’t know what the answer is for who to hit third. In the end, I’m not sure that it make that big of a difference if you hit Lee or Ramirez or Soriano or Bradley there. Is the offense really going to be that different either way? I really don’t think so. Maybe I’m wrong on that and you have a huge reason why you’re right. I’d love to hear it, but as for me, I’m fine with Lee hitting in the three hole again in 2009.

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Quick Hits: The Leadoff Man

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Lou Piniella mentioned that his leadoff man might be different this year and some names have surfaced since. Ryan Theriot, Kosuke Fukudome, Aaron Miles and Joey Gathright have all been mentioned. Pardon me for sharing, but don’t you have to actually be a starter to be a leadoff man? It seems to me that the only starter in that mix right now is Theriot. I’m not sure who will be leading off this year, but I know one thing: If Gathright and his career .328 OBP is the answer, I don’t wanna know the question.

The Last Unicorn film

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My Predictions for the 2009 Season

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

I wanted to throw these out there early so we’d have something to watch throughout the spring training games. Without further delay, here are some fearless predictions for the season. Feel free to voice your agreement / disagreement accordingly, as well as post your own.

  • Carlos Zambrano will fail to reach the 15 win mark after missing 5+ starts due to injury.
  • Kosuke Fukudome will have the polar opposite season from last year, having a good spring, poor start to the season, and then finishing strong.
  • Carlos Marmol will win the closer role out of spring training, but we will see Kevin Gregg finish close to 10 saves.
  • Jeff Samardzija will begin the season in Iowa’s rotation
  • Micah Hoffpauir will fail to make the team out of spring, not because of a poor showing, but because of lack of versatility.
  • Mike Fontenot will receive 400+ at bats at second base and will make at least 5 appearances at SS.
  • Paul Bako will not finish the season as the backup catcher
  • Jake Peavy will not throw a pitch for the Cubs
  • Rich Harden will make 26 starts
  • The Cubs will win the NL Central division by 11 games over the St. Louis Cardinals.
  • Alfonso Soriano will play more games in the leadoff spot than he will outside of that spot.
  • Derrek Lee will finish the season with 21 homeruns.
  • Milton Bradley will finish the season virtually injury and incident free

There ya go. What says you?

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Talkin Baseball on ESPN 1000

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Here were some notes to start off spring training on Friday.

Jeff Samardzija on Waddle & Silvy on Friday

  • He cut a couple inches off his hair heading into spring training
  • Expects to have a shot at competing for the rotation
  • Has had to talk to veterans like Scott Eyre to adjust to the move from being a starter to a reliever
  • Has trained as if he was a starter for this season
  • The biggest thing he took away from last season was the incredible atmosphere around being on a winning team.
  • Had high praise for the great coaching Larry Rothschild gives him.
  • Was very high on the team chemistry that this ball club has going into the season.
  • Insists that he has four pitches that he can throw, despite the fact that we never really saw much of the change from him last year.

Bruce Levine on Waddle & Silvy on Friday

  • Marmol expects to win the closer role out of spring training.
  • Said Samardzija needs a third pitch (Fastball & Splitter), despite the fact that Jeff mentioned he throws FOUR pitches. Later in the day he mentioned that endurance and experience are needed for him as well.
  • Mentioned that Kerry Wood pitched the last few years with the same type of tear in his rotator cuff that Rich Harden has.
  • Jake Peavy situation is still not being pursued.
  • In response to Waddle’s worry that players are injury risks (Bradley, Harden and Soriano) and may derail the team, Bruce said he didn’t feel worried and that sometimes you have to roll the dice.
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