Archive for November, 2009

State of the System: Second Base

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

We continue our state of the system series with a look at the second base position. Don’t forget to follow us on

In case you missed the first two editions of the series you can go back and review: Catcher / First Base

Age PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
*Fontenot, Mike 29 MAJ 419 38 89 22 2 9 43 4 1 35 83 .236 .301 .377 .677
Baker, Jeff 28 MAJ,AAA,H-A 281 31 72 18 2 5 26 1 0 23 57 .283 .345 .429 .774
#Miles, Aaron 32 MAJ,AAA 261 25 51 11 1 0 13 4 2 10 35 .209 .239 .262 .502
Rivas, Luis 29 AAA,win 224 24 50 17 2 1 20 3 0 21 19 .253 .324 .374 .698
Thomas, Tony 22 AA 497 66 107 24 1 11 41 13 13 50 106 .251 .341 .389 .730
Samson, Nate 21 H-A,AA 441 59 102 8 2 2 47 5 5 34 29 .261 .322 .307 .629
Made, Jose 23 H-A,L-A 72 6 13 0 1 0 6 0 2 3 20 .194 .239 .224 .463
*Flaherty, Ryan 22 L-A 543 81 134 24 5 20 81 7 6 50 98 .276 .344 .470 .814
*Watkins, Logan 19 SS 318 48 91 14 2 0 29 14 7 27 31 .326 .389 .391 .780
*Henry, Carlos 17 ROK 228 22 32 5 4 1 16 8 6 21 45 .162 .254 .242 .497
#Montecino, Jose 18 ROK 210 26 46 3 0 0 15 16 7 31 28 .272 .393 .290 .683
#Rodriguez, Jesus 17 ROK 197 28 35 2 1 0 9 16 6 28 53 .213 .326 .238 .564
#Kemp, Dwayne 21 ROK 109 13 25 2 6 1 12 2 1 6 25 .248 .303 .416 .719
Gonzalez, Gregori 19 ROK 107 8 19 3 0 0 8 9 6 6 22 .190 .234 .220 .454
Springfield, Blair 18 ROK 106 12 18 1 1 0 5 4 1 14 28 .202 .314 .236 .550
*Perez, Melido 18 ROK 25 2 7 0 2 0 1 1 1 2 6 .318 .400 .500 .900

Contract Info for 2010

Mike Fontenot – Eligible for arbitration due to Super Two Status (1 option year remaining)

Jeff Baker – Eligible for salary arbitration should the Cubs choose to offer. If he’s offered arbitration, the Cubs and his agent will submit a figure to the arbiter along with their case and it’s up to the arbiter to decide. The Cubs can also release him or choose to come to a salary agreement and avoid arbitration. Baker made $414K in 2009.

Aaron Miles – Signed at $2.7 mil for 2010. Will be a free agent at season’s end.

Eligible to become Rule 55 Minor League Free Agent: Luis Rivas & Nate Spears

Positional Summary

This is an interesting position, in my opinion. We have a bad contract that was supposed to be a good addition in Aaron Miles that will essentially waste a spot on the 40-man roster unless Hendry can somehow package him in a deal to someone to save the money. We have a guy in Mike Fontenot that appears to be a bench player with above average power that can’t handle a starting job (despite being a 1st round pick). And we have a guy in Jeff Baker, who came mid-season and actually played surprisingly well. Aside from those three, do you really see anyone in the minors who could forseeably make an impact in 2010? You could make a case that with a good start, Tony Thomas might merit a call up, but I’m not really buying.

An intriguing name for the future is Ryan Flaherty, who we had the priviledge of talking to early in the season last year. He comes in at # 11 in Arizona Phil’s top 15 list and had the following said about him:

Selected with the compensation draft pick the Cubs got for losing FA catcher Jason Kendall to MIL after the 2007 season, Flaherty played SS at Vanderbilt, 2B with Team USA, SS at Boise in 2008, SS, 2B, and 3B at Peoria in 2009, and then mostly 3B in the AZ Instructional League post-2009. His future is probably as an offensive-first multi-positional IF-OF. He hit 276/344/470 with 20 HR in 131 games at Peoria in 2009 (309/372/498 post-ASB), and then he had an impressive month at the plate in the AZ Instructional League. He has plus-power, and if he can learn to play a passable corner-OF, he could morph into a left-handed hitting version of Mark DeRosa. While he mashes right-handed pitching, he struggles against lefties (hitting just .219 vs LHP in 2009), and so he could end-up as a LH platoon guy at the higher levels. Son of a college baseball coach, Flaherty is a savvy and mature player who understands how to play the game the right way. I would expect Flaherty to begin the 2010 season at Daytona and play all over the place, although a jump over Daytona to AA Tennessee wouldn’t be a big surprise. – (Source)

Overall Grade: C + (I like Flaherty a lot and I think we’ve got a lot of under achievers so far in guys like Fontenot, Miles and Thomas)

Potential Free Agents at 2B
(Scott Boras Clients in Bold)

Ronnie Belliard (35) – Type B
Jamey Carroll (36)
Alex Cora (34)
Craig Counsell (39)
Mark DeRosa (35) – Type B
Nick Green (31)
Jerry Hairston Jr. (34)
Orlando Hudson (32) – Type A
Adam Kennedy (34)
Felipe Lopez (30) – Type B
Mark Loretta (38)
Pablo Ozuna (35)
Placido Polanco (34) – Type A
Luis Rodriguez (30)
Juan Uribe (31)

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State of the System: First Base

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Before we continue the State of the System series with the first base position, I wanted to take a minute to remind you that we’re on Twitter. I would highly recommend following us, as I’m getting in the habit of posting things there a lot more often than here for the small things. It’s a great way to know when things break (including new posts) right as they go live. Just click the twitter icon to be taken to our page.

Now that that’s out of the way, here are the results for the qualifying 1B from this year, including the level(s) they played at.

Age PA ▾ R 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Lee, Derrek 33 MAJ 615 91 36 2 35 111 76 109 .306 .393 .579 .972
Ridling, Rebel 23 L-A 586 74 34 1 16 97 40 95 .310 .357 .466 .823
Fox, Jake 26 MAJ,AAA 435 67 26 3 28 97 35 78 .324 .393 .629 1.022
Rosa, Jovan 21 H-A,L-A 429 33 32 2 6 65 20 92 .251 .287 .387 .674
*Lalli, Blake 26 AA 412 49 25 0 5 52 32 50 .314 .372 .421 .793
#Craig, Matt 28 AAA,AA 412 48 24 1 11 46 33 71 .272 .333 .430 .763
*Opitz, Jake 22 H-A 405 45 21 5 2 36 39 56 .272 .347 .376 .724
Canzler, Russ 23 AA,H-A 375 41 23 1 8 49 38 65 .261 .337 .408 .745
*Hoffpauir, Micah 29 MAJ,AAA 347 40 16 1 13 48 26 58 .233 .291 .413 .704
*Bour, Justin 21 SS,ROK 269 24 17 0 4 40 25 45 .262 .335 .384 .719

Contract Info for 2010

Derrek Lee – Signed for $13 mil that includes no trade clause. He’ll be a free agent after 2010 season.

Jake Fox – Eligible for auto-renewal at league minimum due to less than 3 years of service time (out of minor league options)

Micah Hoffpauir – Eligible for auto-renewal at league minimum due to less than 3 years of service time (1 option year remaining)

Rule 5 Draft Eligible (Need to be added to 40 man roster to be protected) – Blake Lalli & Russ Canzler

Eligible to become Rule 55 Minor League Free Agent – Matt Craig

Positional Summary

This team has a choice coming up after this year and Lee’s return to glory in 2009 didn’t make that decision any easier. It doesn’t appear that there are any rising stars in the system at this position to take over for Lee right now, so you would have to imagine that either Lee will be re-signed short term (please don’t give him another no-trade) and a focus be put on bringing in talent at the position to the system, or Lee will be let go after the season and we’ll address the position via trade or free agency. As much as I like Jake Fox, he’s not the answer at the position, despite the fact that it’s his natural spot on the field.

Ryan Flaherty spoke very highly of a guy like Rebel Ridling, but with him being 23 years old and only playing his season in Low-A, I need to see a lot more this year for me to consider him a viable option to replace Lee in 2011. He came in at # 16 on Arizona Phil’s top 15 prospect list, so there is potential there. I really just need to see a big jump this year for me to take him serious enough to not worry we’ll be shallow at that position if we let Lee leave.

A name to watch, in my book, is Blake Lalli. He’s a contact hitter that plays good defense and doesn’t hit for much power. He’s not a starter, but probably someone worth a look if he doesn’t get picked in the Rule 5 draft. I don’t know that I’d protect him, but I’d be fine with looking at him for the roster in 2010 as a backup if someone like Fox or Hoffpauir under impress.

Overall Grade: C + (only because we have guys like Fox and Hoffpauir that are capable of playing at the ML level.

Potential Free Agents at 1B

Rich Aurilia (38)
Jeff Bailey (31)
Wilson Betemit (28)
Hank Blalock (29)
Russell Branyan (34)
Miguel Cairo (36)
Frank Catalanotto (36)
Tony Clark (38)
Carlos Delgado (38) – Type B
Nomar Garciaparra (36)
Ross Gload (34)
Eric Hinske (32)
Nick Johnson (31) – Type B
Adam LaRoche (30) – Type B
Doug Mientkiewicz (36)
Kevin Millar (38)
Fernando Tatis (35) – Type B
Chad Tracy (30)
Daryle Ward (35)
Dmitri Young (36)

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State of the System: Catcher

Monday, November 9th, 2009

We ran this series earlier in the year and it seems fitting to run it again as we head into the free agency period. This is designed to let you know what we’ve got in the system at each position to help give us a big picture when evaluating potential moves. For example, you might look at a position a little differently if you knew we had a stud in AAA or even AA that could be ready to contribute at some point next year. We’ll start our series with the catcher position, where I highlighted the stats from nine guys in the system that had a decent amount of plate appearances. Here were the results, sorted by plate appearances.

Rk Age PA ▾ R 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Soto, Geovany 26 403 29 20 1 13 53 52 82 .222 .325 .399 .724
2 Brenly, Michael 22 374 36 18 0 5 38 20 56 .265 .306 .362 .668
3 Chirinos, Robinson 25 360 53 20 5 14 63 47 52 .309 .407 .548 .955
4 Castillo, Welington 22 355 28 16 0 12 41 17 76 .237 .282 .393 .676
5 *Clevenger, Steve 23 340 33 16 4 1 36 25 39 .290 .344 .378 .722
6 Robinson, Chris 25 331 37 22 3 2 48 13 44 .326 .345 .435 .781
7 #Hill, Koyie 30 284 26 12 2 2 24 27 78 .237 .312 .324 .636
8 *Reed, Mark 23 266 18 7 2 0 22 13 70 .181 .230 .226 .456
9 Flores, Luis 22 230 16 11 0 2 16 28 42 .179 .293 .268 .562

System Summary

Looking at the system, we see Geo and Hill as the major players for the big league team. Neither impressed with the bat, and you gotta wonder if perhaps the Cubs will decline the arbitration offer on Hill in an effort to see what they have with a guy like Steven Clevenger. He’s played well at each level he’s been at since being drafted in the 7th round in 2006 and could probably do as well if not better than Hill did offensively last year.

Robinson Chirinos is eligible to become a minor league free agent, so there is a chance he might leave for a chance to get a shot in the Majors after his good year with the bat. Chris Robinson, who is rule 5 draft eligible, would mean the Cubs would need to add him to the 40-man roster to protect him from being exposed. Either would be average options as a backup plan to Geo for 2010, assuming the Cubs would want to cut costs slightly at the position. Neither excite me all that much, but I’d rather roll the dice on one of them than give Hill a raise, which is mandatory if a player goes to arbitration if the Cubs feel Clevenger needs more time in AAA.

I was a dissappointed this year in what we saw from Wellington Castillo. The 22 year old was very good in AA last year and completely bombed at that level in 2009. Here are the numbers from 2008 over three levels and 2009 at AA.

Year Lev G PA R H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2008 AA-A_adv-AAA 91 352 40 93 19 4 37 18 74 .287 .337 .383 .720
2009 AA 95 339 27 74 16 11 39 15 71 .232 .275 .386 .661

Comparing the two years we still see the low walk and high strikeout numbers, but the drop in BA, OBP and OPS as a whole concern me. We did see a slight increase in SLG, but only due to the surge of power we saw from in this year. Take that away or tone it down a little and we’d see a decrease across the board in those last stats. Arizona Phil over at the Cub Reporter had this to say about Castillo as he ranked him the # 5 prospect in the system (too high in my opinion, despite his hot finish to the year.)

Castillo’s defense has mostly been more projection than performance so far. He has a strong arm and is fairly athletic behind the plate, but too often he is careless and foolish with his throws and inconsistent with his receiving, resulting in a ton of errors and passed balls in 2008. However, he cut his passed balls in half and improved his fielding % this past season (both still need further upgrade, however), while leading all catchers in the Cubs organization with a 44% CS rate (he threw out 36% opposing base-stealers in ’08). Concentrating on improving his defense apparently affected his hitting in 2009, as he struggled at the plate pre-All-Star Break after hitting 287/337/383 at Daytona and Tennessee (combined) in 2008. But he caught-fire post-ASB at Tennessee, hitting 319/357/519 while clubbing 11 HR. He was assigned to the Mesa Solar Sox (AFL) post-2009 (he’s currently hitting 357/438/571 in the AFL), and will almost certainly get added to the Cubs 40-man roster later this month. Since he is only 22 years old and still somewhat raw, he could start the 2010 season back at AA Tennessee, especially if that’s where he would get the most playing-time. If Geovany Soto has another year in 2010 like he did in 2009, and if Castillo can build on his 2009 second-half at the plate and continue to improve his defense, he could be the Cubs #1 catcher by 2011. – (Source)

Overall System Grade: C -


Daily Webtopia

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Puresim Baseball 2

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

If you’re into sim baseball games, and you know I am from all my mention of OOTP, then you will be interested to know that a new game enters the arena to battle OOTP and Baseball Mogul for sim supremacy.

The new game has some core features that include use of the Lahman database that allows you to recreate season as current as the dismal 2009.

Other core features include:

  • Browsable, automatically generated reference almanac containing thousands of pages of detail and stats for every player and team in league history
  • Full career and aging model with no limit on the number of seasons that can be played out in your universe
  • Tons of reports with almost every stat imaginable, including a full range of sabermetric reports for true Baseball stats geeks!
  • Replay history starting in any season since 1900 with the included and fully licensed Lahman Database. Relive or change history!
  • Edit everything! Ratings, stats, association settings and much more. A modders dream!
  • New UI Overhaul – New look front end UI.  More screen real estate, reduced and more consistent color palette
  • New Season Browser – a web-like navigation experience for copious amounts of stats for the current season

If you’ve not ever played a sim baseball game, this one has quick and easy setup as well as ease of learning curve. It’s worth giving it a try, though I have my biases coming in. I tried to put them aside as I played and came away fairly impressed. There are things I would change about the game, but overall, a solid product nonetheless. Head over to the webstore over at Wolverine Studios and at the very least, pick up the demo to see if it’s a product you’re interested in investing in.

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A Day In The Bleachers

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

This is a really good book. Notwithstanding the obvious name similarity to that of THIS website (the book is titled “A Day in the Bleachers”), I recommend it most highly to fans of baseball as it once was. “A Day in the Bleachers” was written by Arnold Hano in 1954, although I read the 50th Anniversary Edition.

Ostensibly, the book is about one ball game, the first game of the 1954 World Series, with the Cleveland Indians visiting the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds in Harlem, New York City. But there’s a lot more to it.

Roger Kahn wrote the Introduction to the current edition in 1981, 25 years after the book itself was originally written. I want to quote a few passages from his Introduction, because they describe what is so unique about this book.

- “The first and, I believe, the best of all the baseball books written from the point of view of the man in the stands.”

- “The writing is what amateurs call effortless.”

- “Reading ‘A Day in the Bleachers’, you concentrate on the day, the game, the ball players, the fans…”

- “…this is how it was to go to a ball game once.”

- “Without knowing it, Hano was catching a team at the peak moment of its existence.”

- “Mr. Hano, something of a purist, even expresses quiet contempt for those who brought portable radios into the Polo Grounds.”

- “…television works against the old magic of the World Series. You no longer have to struggle to find a ticket, part with cash, worry about the location of your seat, and hope passionately that it does not rain. Pull a knob and a replica of the game appears in your living room. Children now grow up on electronic baseball.”

- “…it is important to recognize that technological innovation creates not only progress but a kind of loss.”

I’ve read books which break baseball down into one season at a time. Or one game at a time. Even one play at a time. Occasionally one pitch at a time. But this book chronicles one thought at a time. Stream of consciousness. A shared consciousness.

Here are some observations from the book:

- “Keep the curve low and the fast ball high.”

- “I cannot abide stupid Giant fans. Thank goodness there are so few.”

And here are a few quotes from the “Afterword To The 2004 Edition – Extra Innings”:

- “On May 8, 1973, nineteen years after the first game of the 1954 World Series, Chicago Cubs manager Whitey Lockman argued with the plate umpire, who thumbed him from the game. Lockman told coach Ernie Banks to manage the rest of the game. Thus Lockman appointed the first black to manage a major league baseball team.”

- “I can’t field and I’ve got a lousy arm, but I sure love to whack at that ball.”

- “Westrum’s career batting average was .217. Some pitchers hit higher than that.”

- “…a glove once described as ‘the place where triples go to die’.”

And one last quote, this one from the back cover: “I loved this book…anyone who likes baseball will like this one.” -Groucho Marx

For me personally, “A Day in the Bleachers” recreates Cubs baseball with my dad at Wrigley Field. Day games. Bleachers. The community of like minded Cubs fans.

What a great book.

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GirlieView (11/06/2009)

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Typically I’m not one to toot my own horn, but might I direct your attention to this comment, posted when Joe asked us to step up to the mic about the World Series:

So there you go. Yankees in 6. For all the right reasons.

Who said that? Hmmmm … think about it ….. got a guess? I’ll wait … go look …  yes indeedy it was ME!!! Thank you, thank you very much. I’m going to toot Seymour’s horn too because even though his guess was a hypothetical-sort-of “If the Yankees win in six it might seem to mean I’m rooting for them which I’m not” (poetic license taken there) he still called it!! Way to go us!

Lizzies

  • And this ownership makes me think we have a chance.
  • And the days of the outfielder who’s a good hitter but a poor fielder are gone, probably forever.
  • The pile of baseball books is getting a little smaller, but there are still plenty on the shelf for me to read
  • K. Gregg = $4.20, $-1.3, $-5.50
  • It’s absolutely astounding to see the drop in production we saw from Soriano and coupled with the crazy salary we paid for that, it’s no wonder his net value is negative almost $20 mil. Imagine what could have happened with that money.
  • Not much of note going on right now.
  • the fact remains that this team was out of contention in September and at that point he should have gotten evaluated and had the surgery.

Lizard

  • Due to the dearth of comments I fear this weeks Lizard will be a Newt.

Have a great week everyone!!

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Twitter, Pot Smoking, and You

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Happy Friday morning to you. Lizzie will be along with the annual Lizzie awards later this afternoon. Until then, let’s talk about some things I’ve read over the last few days. Before we do, though, I wanted to take a minute to remind you of a few things you might have otherwise not known about or forgotten about.

Did You Know?

  • We’re on Twitter. I’ve been trying to be better about doing the re-tweet thing in an effort to be more twitteresque. If you’re on Twitter and you’ve not yet set yourself up to follow us, please do so. At the very least, it’s a way to know right away as soon as a new post goes live on the site.
  • You can subscribe to have the site delivered to you in multiple ways, including in your e-mail inbox each morning. If you’re interested in learning about the ways we have for you, please head over to our Subscribe for Free page
  • I love when people tip me off to things that would be good for posting. If you run across a great tidbit or picture, please let me know.
  • We’re always looking for guest posts about topics of your choice. As long as your piece is well thought out and spell / grammar checked, we’ll take a look and possibly run it on the site. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you’re interested in that.

Ted Lilly’s Injury / Surgery

Maybe it’s because I didn’t watch a game all September or maybe because I didn’t see it when it was mentioned, but I can’t remember reading or hearing anything about Lilly’s shoulder hurting let alone that surgery was going to be needed in the off-season. Shoulder surgery is not something we’re particularly fond of when it comes to pitchers in Chicago. I have terrible memories of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood and the towel drill reports we would hear year in and year out coming from spring training. We’re told Lilly will be back in April, but to me that means if all goes well. What if there are complications, does that mean May or even June? Will he come back as effective as he has been since he signed with the Cubs? Did you know that since 2006, Lilly has the third most wins (59) among lefty starters behind only CC Sabathia (67) and Johan Santana (63). That’s more than Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte. Lilly is the best pitcher from a consistency standpoint that this team has and his health is vital to our chances next year. I really wish this surgery would have taken place a month earlier. Lilly addressed that by saying:

“If I would have known I’d be in this situation a month earlier and it wouldn’t have gotten better, then I would have preferred to do it a month ago,” he said. “If you’re going to go out there and pitch, you’re going to have to battle through discomfort and soreness. Sometimes they get better.” (Source)

Obviously he can play the hindsight card, but the fact remains that this team was out of contention in September and at that point he should have gotten evaluated and had the surgery.

Should Jim Hendry Be A Little More Worried?

A bad off-season last year, but a relatively good one the year before. I’m curious to see where people stand on Jim Hendry. I think he does good things, but like any GM, has his weak points. Trading appears to be one of his stronger skills, while his free agent signings leave some scratching their heads. What bothers me most, though, is his contract negotiating. Look at the long term, back loaded contracts that come with no-trade clauses and I’ve got to think that the Ricketts family can’t possibly be on board with moves like that going forward. In the Tribune, Hendry was quoted as saying:

“I’m certainly capable of leading the baseball organization to where everyone wants it to go, and if there comes a day when I’m not the right guy, then I don’t think I should be here anyhow.” (Source)

Do you agree with that initial statement that he is someone capable of leading a team to the championship? We’ve not seen it yet.

Promise at Third Base

Josh Vitters, who many regard as one of the top 50 prospects in the game came in 7th in Project Prospect’s ranking of the third base position. Vitters was a high school kid when he was picked, but he’s developing nicely and should be ready just about the time we’re looking for another third basemen to replace Ramirez. The note attached to Vitters on Project Prospect was:

Elite contact hitter w/ pop; Can he hit for power in AA with virtually no patience? (Source)

Vitters should start the year in AA, especially after a stint this year at the Arizona Fall League.

Maybe We Should Stop Telling People To “Keep Your Eye on the Ball”

An Idaho man is suing the Cubs Class A affiliate Boise Hawks for $2 million, claiming he lost his right eye when he was struck by a foul ball, according to a complaint posted on courthousenews.com.

Bud Roundtree, who was at the game with his wife and two grandsons, says the mesh netting around an elevated dining area at the stadium gives fans a false sense of security. (Source)

I’m not trying to poke fun, but at the same time aren’t there signs posted everywhere in stadiums to watch for foul balls? If you don’t want to get hurt, pay attention and don’t sit in places that put you at risk. I have an issue with $2 million that he’s suing for. I’m curious to see what you all think. Maybe it’s just me demonstrating a lack of empathy. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Potential Free Agents

Got this in my e-mail and I figured I’d share it with you as it’s that time again:

Random Linkage

Minor League Averages by League – (Source)

The Onion’s take on Mark McGwire – (Source)

No Best of 7 for 1st Round according to Selig - (Source)

Cubs.com’s pathetic attempt at a headline – (Source)

Tim Lincecum is a pot head that needs a crack whore for a girlfriend – (Source)

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Say it ain’t so!

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Today Ted Lilly underwent debridement surgery on his pitching shoulder. It appears as though he will not be ready in time for Opening Day and I’m wondering what (if anything) we will get out of Lilly next year. Shoulder injuries are a different breed of cat compared to elbow issues – some guys never really come back afterwards (e.g. Mark Prior) and others come back missing 5 mph on their fastball (e.g. Bobby Brownlie.) If all goes well Lilly will come back 100% in May but what if he doesn’t?

This adds a new dynamic insofar as the negotiations with Rich Harden are concerned. Offering him arbitration is a no-brainer but will he accept? If not should the Cubs give him a multi-year offer?

If the Cubs part ways with Harden it means that both Marshall and Gorzellany will be pencilled in as starters, this means that Jeff Samardzija would almost certainly be the clubs sixth starter, a role that I don’t feel he would excel at. So my question is this – should the Cubs play the hand they hold or enter the trade or free agent market looking for a pitcher?

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I Remember Harry Caray

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

This is the last in my current series of books about Harry Caray. It’s titled “I Remember Harry Caray”. It was published in 1998 (shortly after Harry’s death), and was written by Rich Wolfe and George Castle, with a Foreword by Jack Brickhouse.

By and large, the most interesting observations came not from family and friends, not from baseball people, not from players and not from broadcast partners and coworkers, but rather from other media members, entertainers and sports figures, and fans.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

- “What was the secret to Harry’s unbelievable appeal? He was a guaranteed audience builder. He was his own man. Harry never copied anybody. He was fearless when it came to criticism, when he felt it was required.”

- “Amazingly, through the entire generation-plus of his popularity on both sides of town in Chicago, Caray kept his home phone number listed. He and Bill Veeck were the top baseball people to remain so accessible at a time when celebrities spent untold thousands of bucks on security aids to maintain their privacy.”

- Tony LaRussa is quoted, almost comically, saying nothing for two pages.

- “When you’re hitting .198, you start beginning to think of your next career. And when Bob Uecker, little-used backup catcher of the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals, had show-business thoughts, he started out as a mimic – of Harry Caray.”

- “He loved baseball to the point where he thought fans sometimes might be cheated by lackadaisical play…”

- “I think Harry made a lot of people better people, by either coming out to the ballpark or listening to a broadcast.”

- “Harry Caray was a spellbinder, a dream-weaver. There won’t be another Harry Caray.”

- “He said players come and go, but people come to see the game.”

- “He drew more fans than the players during his two segments here.”

- “Harry entertained people by his rigid belief in how the game of baseball should be played.”

- “Harry was very competitive and almost cunning. He was critical of almost everybody except his boss.”

- “He could make any game better than it was…”

- “I don’t remember a day when he came out to Wrigley Field when he wasn’t in a good mood. That’s what I liked about him.”

- “Harry going to the Cubs made Wrigley Field an event rather than just a game. He made it a happening.”

- “…with Caray, it was, ‘Don’t listen to what I say. Listen to what I mean’.”

I enjoyed reading “I Remember Harry Caray”. In the eleven years since his death, perhaps some of the remembrances have lost a bit of their “Wow” factor, but I enjoyed reading about the guy who was the face of the Chicago Cubs franchise for so many years.

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