Archive for December, 2009

Off topic post

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Periodically we stray off topic here at VTFB and I’m certainly no exception. I try to make my posts specific to Chicago sports and it’s likely that most of us are very disappointed in terms of this year’s Bears team. We came into the season hoping for a chance to contend for a Super Bowl; during the offseason the team went out and got a bonafide quarterback and it also appeared that the team had acquired a decent left tackle. Later on in the season Angelo struck again when he traded a second round pick for a defensive lineman with unfulfilled promise.

Now we are looking at a team with a 5-9 team whose quarterback leads the league in interceptions. The erstwhile left tackle looks to be headed toward retirement and there are still a lot of questions regarding Adams and his future with the Bears. Many of us are calling for a clean sweep of the Bears management – Angelo, Lovie Smith and Ron Turner are probably all cooking at home lest they show their faces in Chicago’s restaurants. Jay Cutler sometimes gets his hair cut at the Oxford Barber Shop which is also where I get mine buzzed; I hope I don’t run into him this offseason because I don’t want to say something rude (let it suffice to say that I don’t get mine cut the same way.)

Jay and four other Bears are former Vanderbilt Commodores, as a graduate of that fine university I wish them all well. But I’m truly ashamed of Jay’s lack of maturity and horrible 2009 season. Right now there are 28 reasons why I regret the trade for Cutler – Knowshon Moreno, Kyle Orton, the Bears’ 2010 first round draft pick and the rest are interceptions. I see Vince Young every week and he has acquired some touch – instead of throwing bullets to the Titans’ receivers his passes have a little arc and they are soft balls to catch. Cutler throws fastballs that often bounce off of his receivers and result in interceptions. This year he’s shown all the promise that Bobby Douglas showed when he first came up with the Bears; the fundamental difference being that Bobby didn’t throw 25 interceptions in 14 games and at least he could run the ball. Can Cutler improve? I seriously hope so, he has the talent but the rest is up to him.

The Bears have plenty o’ fish to fry in the offseason; they have glaring needs on the offensive line and they will likely part ways with Brian Urlacher. Their defense also has some areas for improvement and they are going to have to make things happen without a first or second round draft pick. I would like to see Angelo, Smith and Turner gone after the 16th game is completed; this way the Bears will hopefully have a management team in place prior to the 2010 entry draft. While management changes in and of themselves won’t fix the Bears’ maladies they will send a clear and unmistakable message to the team and to the fans. The time for change has come and the trajectory for the team is presently pointing in the wrong direction.

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Here’s a guy to keep on the radar

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Many of you probably remember a little controversy back in 2006 when the Cubs spent late first round draft money on their eleventh round draft pick Christopher Huseby. Chris was projected as a first round high school prospect until he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery, consequently he was available in the later rounds and the Cubs made him an eleven million dollar offer he couldn’t refuse.

Huseby kicked around the lower level Arizona instructional league and short season Boise his first two years; in 2008 the light appeared to be dimming when Huseby played but 9 games in rookie ball. Last year he was promoted to low A Peoria and he put up very impressive numbers. He’s now a 6-7 220# right hander who throws in the low to mid-90s; in 2009 Huseby posted a 1.83 ERA with 18 saves in 54 innings pitched. He gave up 43 hits and 10 walks while holding opposing hitters to a .213 batting average. I’ll be interested to see how Chris progresses in 2010, he should start out at high A Daytona or perhaps even AA Tennessee if he has an impressive spring camp.

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Breathe Deeply, Exhale Slowly

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

I can honestly say that when the Cubs signed Milton Bradley (I believe it was during January of 2009), I had never heard of him. I knew nothing about the history of personal problems which have been rehashed ubiquitously since then. Problems with umpires? I knew nothing. Problems with announcers? Ditto. Problems with anger management? Not on my radar.

I didn’t know Milton Bradley from the man in the moon.

I do not think that mental illness is a laughing matter. I don’t think mental illness is something to make fun of, or to joke about. I also don’t think mental illness is something to be overlooked in structuring a long term, multimillion dollar contract.

I was recently reminded of the time when the Cubs traded Lou Brock to the Cardinals for Ernie Broglio. Ernie Broglio, a former multiyear 20 game winner with St. Louis, won less than 20 games total for the Cubs over the next 3 years.

Current reports are that Broglio, prior to the trade, had incurred an injury, a physical infirmity, which might have been identified during a physical exam, had such an exam occurred in conjunction with the trade.

Did the Cardinals know about the preexisting condition? I don’t know. Were they required to disclose the existence of any such condition? I don’t know. Did Ernie Broglio take it upon himself to mention it? I don’t know. Was he required to? I don’t know.

Back then, successful completion of a routine physical exam as a condition of the trade was not commonly required. Now, of course, I cannot imagine a player trade or a free agent signing NOT being contingent upon obtaining a clean bill of physical health.

So, maybe, in the aftermath of Mr. Bradley’s recent situation with the Chicago Cubs, ball clubs will require psychiatric/psychological testing prior to entering into agreements with free agents or with other teams. I expect the player’s union to oppose such a development on the grounds of player confidentiality or some such consideration. But the Cubs/Milton Bradley train wreck demonstrates that the time for universal psychological/psychiatric testing of major league ballplayers has arrived. For the good of the game.

At the very least, the industry standard might evolve to include a clause mandating that player contracts will be voided should a mental illness develop or should a mental disorder become evident during the life of the agreement.

Clearly, there is no upside to the Cubs/Bradley situation. It’s not good for the player. It’s not good for the team. It’s not good for Major League Baseball. It’s not good for the fans. It’s a bad situation. I hope the Chicago Cubs have learned their lesson.

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GirlieView (12/18/2009)

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Today, my Blackberry (which came back to life about 2:16 this morning, thanks RIM) is all a-Twitter with the latest Milton Bradley news. In case you haven’t heard (how is that possible?) he’s headed to Seattle for a guy named Carlos Silva. Who the hell is Carlos Silva? I don’t really care. He’s the guy who allowed us to get rid of Bradley. So he’s good enough for me. Which I know will not sit well with some of my esteemed colleagues, but that’s what makes this so much fun! (Disclaimer: I did not and still do not think Bradley was anywhere near the Cubs’ biggest problem in 2009. And I surely don’t think his departure insures a positive 2010. But I also don’t think there was any way for him to turn successful in Chicago and for that reason, he needed to go.)

Incidentally from what I’ve read our new acquisition is no prize, so don’t get excited. But the Cubs need a fresh start and so does Silva. So maybe it will be good if only for that reason. Also we have a few other Carlos’ that will no doubt garner much more attention. As the third Carlos (behind a head case and a potential head case) he may be able to fade to the background a bit. And we got some cash. That was a shocker! So, I look upon all of this positively. Then again I look at everything positively. So there you go. Merry Christmas!

Speaking of Christmas I’m sure Joe will allow me the holiday off next Friday, so we’ll catch y’all in 2010 with a full two-weeks-worth of Lizzies for your New Year’s Day entertainment. Hope everyone has a fantastic holiday! :-)

Lizzies

  • We’re talking about Ryan Garko and Garrett Atkins. This off-season is a big fat turd.
  • Warning: Whether male or female, you may also sprout a reddish goatee.
  • I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m really frustrated watching the moves the Brewers are making, and even the White Sox.
  • On an entirely unrelated note, pigs were noted to be flying in the sky over Chicago today……
  • Swine flew?
  • The air temp is too cold for a pig to gain lift today. Those reports are unfounded.
  • going from having “Milton Bradley” in the outfield to “Coco Crisp” is just too rich for my blood. Maybe they could pick up a guy named “Matchbox” or “Lego.”
  • I’ve heard Hendry is in discussions to sign Lincoln Logs.
  • Maybe Soriano could try hitting with one of those next season.

Lizard

  • When you get dealt an unexpected lemon, you make lemonade.
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Speak Out: Fire Jim Hendry

Friday, December 18th, 2009

From the Cubs Media Department comes Exhibit A in the case for firing Jim Hendry:

CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs today acquired right-handed pitcher Carlos Silva and cash from the Seattle Mariners for outfielder Milton Bradley.

Silva, 30, is 60-64 with two saves and a 4.72 ERA (592 ER/1128.2 IP) in 295 major league appearances (159 starts) with Philadelphia (2002-03), Minnesota (2004-07) and Seattle (2008-09).  He has walked only 214 batters in 1128.2 innings pitched, an average of only 1.7 walks per nine innings.  Silva is 15-7 with two saves and a 4.18 ERA (116 ER/250.0 IP) in 135 games (17 starts) in his career against the National League, including a 5-1 mark and a 3.71 ERA (26 ER/63.0 IP) in 33 games (four starts) against the National League Central.

The righthander won nine or more games in four consecutive seasons with the Twins from 2004-07, including three double digit win campaigns in 2004 (career-high 14 wins), 2006 (11 wins) and 2007 (13 wins).  He made 27 or more starts in five-straight seasons from 2004-08.

Silva broke into the majors in 2002 and went 8-1 with a 3.83 ERA (73 ER/171.1 IP) in 130 appearances, all but one in relief, in his only two seasons in the National League with the Phillies.  Acquired in a trade by the Twins prior to the 2004 campaign, Silva went 47-45 with a 4.42 ERA (380 ER/773.2 IP) in 129 appearances (124 starts) in Minnesota, compiling more than 180.0 innings in all four campaigns.  In 2005, Silva walked only nine batters in 188.1 innings pitched, an average of one walk every 21.0 frames.

In 2009 with the Mariners, Silva was limited to eight appearances (six starts) due to a right shoulder impingement that landed him on the disabled list from May 9-September 15.  He went 1-3 with an 8.60 ERA (29 ER/30.1 IP) in the eight outings.  A native of Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela, Silva is currently pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Bradley, 31, batted .257 (101-for-393) with 12 home runs and 40 RBI in 124 games with the Cubs last season.

Now that you know how I feel, let’s hear your thoughts on this trade.

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