Archive for January, 2010

GirlieView (01/22/2010)

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Big long 2 week break for Lizzie. Here’s the story, for those of you who missed me. :-) It’s long.

Four+ years ago when we built our house in a brand new subdivision everyone was friendly because we were all new to the area, around the same age and place in life, etc. Everyone was on their best behavior as we all met our new neighbors! One night over a few beers our next-door neighbors told another couple that when they got peeved at their neighbors in their old subdivision, they got back at them by putting in a work order to have their cable disconnected, then sent them 20 pizzas from the local delivery place. They got a big kick out of themselves. The others just shrugged. Who are we to say that we stopped doing that kind of stuff back when we were 12. We were on our best behavior!!!

Shoot forward four years. We’re no longer on our best behavior. We’re not all friends anymore. True colors have shown through the initial niceties. We yelled at our next door neighbor’s 14-year old for kicking their epileptic dog in the head, after which the mother told us to mind our own business since “he’s ONLY 14!!!” Huh? I can teach a 3 year old not to kick a dog. Needless to say we don’t speak to our next-door neighbors any longer. We are on their sh*t list. But anyway enough of that, that’s all just background.

Shoot forward again to last Thursday night. We spot a Comcast truck between our house and theirs. Didn’t think much of it, figured they were having internet problems. Lo and behold, Friday morning we have no internet. Comcast can’t come back out til late Saturday. Whatddya know, ours was disconnected! Fix-it guy couldn’t explain how that “accidentally” happened.

Things that make you go hmmmmmmmm …….

Does this relate at all to Cubs baseball? Nope. Not a whit. I took a week off from the GirlieView while I waited for it to be fixed. Which just gives me more commentary to report on this week! Let’s get to it!

Lizzies

  • The cubs are probably a second place club right now.
  • i guess it’s like a tallest midget contest daver. not much to choose from in this town.
  • did Barry or Sammy ever ask you for advice on how to get rid of that pesky acne?
  • Apparently, Jim Hendry didn’t offer Spears a contract, which is odd because Nate is, y’know, a second baseman.
  • there is nothing better than an afternoon of baseball
  • Oh, let me go check my mailbox……..my invitation must be held up at the post office.
  • Matt “Ol’ Something Eyes” Sinatro
  • Doesn’t he at least merit a few boy scouts and maybe a brownie or two?
  • mmmmm, brownies….in a non-pedophile way of course….strictly food.
  • Pat is great, a true professional.
  • I think it would take even more Zen-like wisdom to deal with Judd “I CAN’T CONTROL THE VOLUME OF MY VOICE” Sirott.
  • Maybe if we go in expecting nothing more than a decent, slightly-above-.500 team, we’ll be pleasantly surprised.
  • Alllllllllllrighty then.
  • the Cubs have hired a full-time nutritionist to help prepare the team’s meals.
  • That nutritionist has his work cut out for him… Silva is listed as 250lbs, but I’d wager he is closer to 350.
  • On the other hand, Theriot and Fontenot can fill up on half-portions, so he’s got that goin’ for him.
  • 2 McNuggets a piece…wonder who gets the Happy Meal toy?
  • I think the Mariners get the happy meal toys.

Lizard

  • I expect Sosa will admit to it five days from now, but will say he used four fewer steroids…

Have a great week!

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Stat of the Week: Going First to Third

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

The Angels in 2009 advanced from first to third on a single 128 times — twenty more than any other major league team. The only three major league players who have gone from first to third on a single more than 50% of the time in their careers (50 or more opportunities) are Torii Hunter, Chone Figgins and Erick Aybar — all Angels in 2009.

Angels 2009- Advancing 1st to 3rd
Advances Opportunities Pct
128 367 35%

This is an example of over 300 nuggets from the Bill James Gold Mine 2010, coming out in March. Here’s another nugget:

Why Does This Always Happen to Cleveland?

The Indians lost their last 15 road games of the season, the most consecutive road losses by any major league team to end a season since the infamous 1899 Cleveland Spiders.

“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week™, www.statoftheweek.com.”

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

In the News: Happy ARB-or Day

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

 

Greetings, Cubs fans. As of yesterday, I thought this might be a slow news day. But I’ve actually come across a number of items, so let’s get right to today’s top stories*:

Jim Hendry busy trying to avoid arbitration hearings with Ryan Theriot and Carlos Marmol. As you may or may not have heard, the Cubs came to terms with five arbitration-eligible players on Tuesday: Jeff Baker (who will earn $975,000 in ’10), Tom Gorzelanny ($800,000 in ’10), Angel Guzman ($825,000 in ’10), Mike Fontenot ($1,000,000 in ’10) and Koyie Hill ($700,000 in ’10).

The latest blogpost by Bruce Miles details the challenge now faced by the team’s GM: Staying out of awkward arbitration hearings with shortstop Ryan Theriot, who’s asking for $3.4 million (Cubs’ counteroffer: $2.6 million), closer Carlos Marmol, who’s asking for $2.5 million (Cubs’ counteroffer: $1.75 million), and swingman Sean Marshall, who’s asking for $1.175 million (Cub’s counteroffer: $800,000). Bruce thinks Theriot could be the first player since Mark Grace to go to a hearing.

Kickin’ it with Kiko Calero. Jim Hendry made it fairly clear during the Cubs Convention that he’s looking for a right-handed, veteran arm to add to the bullpen. That arm could be attached to Kiko Calero, who made 67 appearances with a sparkling 1.95 ERA for the Florida Marlins last season. Jeff Morosi reports negotiations are under way.

Update: Bruce Levine reports the Cubs have had talks with Calero’s agent but, and I quote, “have no interest in [Calero].” Bruce precedes this remark by letting us know that Calero’s agent also represents Jose Contreras. Hm, call me crazy, Bruce, but isn’t it more likely that the Cubs are talking to said agent about Calero, not Contreras? Levine also says the Cubs are looking at trades with the Padres (for RHP Luke Gregorson or possibly even Heath Bell) and Blue Jays (for RHP Jason Frasor) to bulk up the bullpen.

Jake Peavy wanted to be a Cub. No, really. Maybe we shouldn’t dwell on this, but Barry Rozner has some choice quotes from the, ahem, Chicago White Sox No. 1 starter that make it clear he was quite amenable to accepting a first-class ticket to the Friendly Confines. Jake says the Cubs ownership uncertainties caused the deal to fall through. Interestingly, at the Cubs Convention, Jim Hendry seemed to scoff at the idea that he let Peavy “slip through his fingers.” Ah, well. C’est la vie.

Jimmy Ballgame wants back in the game. As Mark mentioned in his post yesterday, former Cubs centerfielder Jim Edmonds is looking to get back onto a major league roster in 2010. (I think Jim used to be a Cardinal, too. Let me check Baseball-Reference on that and get back to you.) I don’t think Edmonds really fits the Cubs needs, as he’s not an ideal candidate to play right field and face left-handed pitching in place of Kosuke. But perhaps Lou could put Jeff Baker out there in those instances and sign Edmonds to back up first base and left field as well as pinch hit. It doesn’t hurt to take a look, I guess.

Eric Byrnes released by the Diamondbacks. Another name to scribble at the bottom of the fourth outfielder list is now former D’Back Eric Byrnes, who the AZ snakes released from his rather sizeable contract yesterday. Byrnes has been injured and otherwise awful for the last couple of years. But he’s now quite cheap (could be signed for league minimum) and can, theoretically at least, play all three outfield spots and slug a little. Hendry could sign him to a minor league deal to see what he’s got.

Bad news out of Milwaukee. That’s right, the Brew Crew have signed slow-tossing southpaw Doug Davis to a one-year deal. Ugh! Davis doesn’t strike many batters out and he gives up a ton of hits. But he always seems to own the Cubs, who quickly succumb to his sleep-inducing pitching style. And his ERA+ has been above league average for three years running. With Gallardo, Wolf and Davis atop their rotation, the Brewers now look at least a little more intimidating.

Free-swingin’ Randall Simon is back! No, not with the Cubs – with the rip-roarin’ Rockford Riverhawks. (Or at least he’ll probably be playing there. The deal isn’t finalized yet). Do the Riverhawks have a mascot that Simon could put the smack down on?

Are you ready to rock? Then stay away from Wrigley again this summer. Sorry, folks, don’t mean to editorialize with my own musical tastes. But it looks like the Cubs are in talks with the usual assortment of yawn-inducing artists/bands to tear up the outfield and annoy the neighbors. I know, I know…I shouldn’t complain. This is another good revenue source for the team, and a lot of people seem to like the shows. (I have a friend who saw The Police at Wrigley a couple years back.) But I’d just as soon see the ballpark stick to baseball in the summertime.

*As always, the bolded phrases at the beginning of each paragraph are hyperlinks to news stories.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

More outfield speculation

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Having announced that Sam Fuld is penciled in as the clubs fifth outfielder, the Cubs are still in search of a corner outfielder, preferably one that can play a little first. Today it was announced that the Diamondbacks have released Eric Byrnes; this means that the hard-hitting but frequently injured Byrnes could be had for the major league minimum.

I like this possibility – the Cubs are looking for a bat off the bench and someone who can spell Soriano and Fukudome occasionally in the corners. I certainly like it better than the possibility of getting Baldelli, there was some speculation about that reported on Rotoworld. Byrnes has one year remaining on his contract and would be a free agent after 2010. In other words, no strings attached.

Also in the news it is being reported that former Cubs outfielder Jim Edmonds is staging a comeback. Edmonds will be 40 in June and might be worth a look – he didn’t play at all in 2009 but had a very respectable year in 2008. I felt that Jim was a good Cub after coming over from the arch enemy Cards; it took a while for the fans to warm to him but he was humble and had some clutch hits. Given budget constraints it might be worth an invite to spring training and an incentive-based contract should he make the team.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Trivia Time: See Ball…Hit HR

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Q: Since 1900, seven players have had a season in which at least 35% of their hits have resulted in home runs. Can you name them?

Note: One player did it four times.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

In the News: Xavier Nady, come on down!

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

 

Hello, Cubs fans. I hope you all enjoyed (or were at least entertained by) this past weekend’s Cubs Convention, either as a participant or as a distant observer like me. If you missed any of the sessions, or would like to hear them again, WGN Radio has posted audio and video clips, as well as a bunch of pictures, here.

The Cubs Convention usually doesn’t bring much surprising news – it tends to just confirm stuff we already suspected. And, sure enough, Jim Hendry is busy looking for a fourth outfielder and, apparently, another right-handed bullpen guy. This may or may not mean the Cubs are giving up on Ben Sheets. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s get to the news*:

Professor X off the bench?  As mentioned, the Cubs are in hot pursuit of a fourth outfielder to play some right field and take some ABs vs. left-handed pitchers; maybe play some left field and first base to rest Soriano and Derrek Lee, respectively; and pinch hit. In my last post, we discussed the idea of Jermaine Dye filling this role. (And, reportedly, the Cubs are in preliminary talks with Dye on a one-year deal.) Now another name has appeared on the list: Xavier Nady. On paper, he may be a better choice than Dye – he’s younger and has much more experience backing up first base. The big question is how well he’s recovered from recent Tommy John surgery. (Fan favorite Reed Johnson is still in the mix, too.)

Yet another Ben Sheets update. Recent indications seem to, uh, indicate that Sheets is out of the Cubs’ price range. Plus, at the Cubs Convention, Jim Hendry revealingly grumbled about the constant worry of Rich Harden’s injury status, implying that perhaps he’s done taking flyers on oft-hurt hurlers. So Sheets is out, right? NOT SO FAST. This Canadian newspaper published a tantalizingly certain remark that the Cubs have “all but signed” Sheets. So maybe Jimbo was just being coy. Stay tuned.

Build it and they will come. Rehab it and…well, it’ll look pretty cool. Tom Ricketts and the rest of the Cubs new ownership group revealed this past weekend that a massive Wrigley Field rehab project, dubbed “Wrigley 20-14,” will begin in (you guessed it) 2014. Here’s a cool illustration of what the expanded ballpark and brand-spankin’-new Triangle Building will look like.

Nutritionist joins Cubs clubhouse staff. I found this news item, buried in a Southtown Star article, quite interesting and important. That is, the Cubs have hired a full-time nutritionist to help prepare the team’s meals. This could be key to helping the newly svelte Geovany Soto and fitter Carlos Zambrano stay in shape.

Spring training decision next week. Or so tweets Carrie Muskat.

Remember So Taguchi? Yeah, I don’t either. Just kidding. He was a footnote that appeared at the end of the disappointing 2009 season but, just in case you were wondering, it looks like So (released by the Cubs last year) will be heading back to Japan to finish out his baseball career.

The new USA Today Team Report is out! The new USA Today Team Report is out! As usual, use this to tie up most of the loose ends of what’s up with the Cubs right now.

Big Z has a charity. Hey, that rhymes. And, hey, this is news to me. Carlos Zambrano has joined Ryan Dempster and Derrek Lee in establishing a charitable organization. Carlos’s Big Z Foundation will seek to help underserved families in Chicago and developing countries. He really wants Jim Carrey to appear at his next charity event. Alllllllllllrighty then.

Speaking of Ryan Dempster’s charitable organization… Here’s the lovely Sarah Spain’s account of The Ryan & Jenny Dempster Family Foundation’s event at Hub 51 this past Sunday. (Pictures included!)

Boycott Paul Sullivan. On a parting note, I’d just like to thank the brilliant Chicago Tribune scribe Paul Sullivan for blocking me and several other Cubs fans from following his Twitter stream. As if I couldn’t lose any more respect for the guy whose bias against – and obsession with – Milton Bradley has been an embarrassment to him, his employer (which, thankfully, no longer owns the team) and Cubs fans everywhere. And who recently reminded us all that, y’know, Carlos Zambrano isn’t really from Chicago, he’s from Venezuela. (Gee, thanks, Paul.) Suffice to say, I won’t be linking any of my news items to Paul’s stories, and I urge you all to ignore him as well. It’s not like Gordon Wittenmyer doesn’t write basically the same crap anyway.

*As always, the bolded phrases leading off each paragraph are hyperlinks.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Minor League Ball on Junior Lake

Monday, January 18th, 2010

John Sickles of Minor League Ball posted a profile on one of the many SS prospects in our system:

Junior Lake, SS, Chicago Cubs
I rated Lake as a sleeper entering 2009 because of his outstanding physical tools. Unfortunately for him, it was Starlin Castro who figured out how to use his tools last year, not Lake.  Lake’s physical tools are, if anything, slightly better than Castro’s. He has more power potential and an even stronger arm. However, his plate discipline is terrible, which helped result in a -8 percent OPS last year in the Midwest League. He’s also very raw defensively, where he made 40 errors combined between shortstop and second base for Peoria. Lake is young enough to figure things out, but he has a lot of work to do. If Castro looks like another Edgar Renteria, Lake looks like a future Angel Berroa right now. Grade C.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Renovating the Game: The Playoff System

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Today we look at item # 2 on my list of ways I would improve the game. If you missed the first suggestion, I called for increased usage of the DH and presented a plan for how I feel it would work. Today’s topic is reforming the playoff system to present a more enjoyable experience while truly valuing what teams do in the regular season.

What I Believe is Broken: There is one problem I see with the current format and two improvements I’d make to better the system. Currently, we see a best of five series in the first round in which the team with the best record in the regular season plays the wild card team in a best of five series (unless said team is in their division). The problem with this system is two-fold. First, it in no way gives the team with the best record a significant advantage over the rest of the teams. When you battle and claw your way to the best record in the league, you should be rewarded for that hard work with at least an advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Because a short series in baseball is so unpredictable, we’ve often seen the wild card team advance over a much better top team. Take for example the 2003 Florida Marlins or the 2007 Colorado Rockies. Both teams were less than impressiv e and came into the playoffs as wild card teams. In fact, the Marlins had even fired their manager early in the season before going on a run to get to the playoffs under Jack McKeon. Neither team really had any business being in the World Series, let alone winning it. Since it’s inception in 1995, the wild card has provided MLB with four World Series winners, including three straight champions from 2002 – 2004. Maybe I’m just a fan of chalk, but I don’t think this should be the case. I wanna see the best teams duking it out in the end, not the hottest teams. My plan is a simple, yet radical way to change the way the format works that should make for more of the cream rising to the top in October.

What I Propose: As I said, my proposal is three-fold and can be taken apart and implemented separately or together.

Item # 1 – League Champions for the regular season choose their opponent

Item # 2 – League Champions for the regular season get four of the five LDS games at home with the opponent team getting one.

Item # 3 – Add a 2nd wild card team

How it would work: As I said, all three of these suggestions can be put into place together or separately. Here is how each would work

Obviously the first two are fairly self explanatory. When the season ends, the league champs will choose who they best matchup against and alert the league accordingly. By doing this, it makes that first seed meaningful because you’re able to elect to avoid a particularly hot team and in turn select a team that might be struggling, injured, not well rested, etc. You could also choose to simply play a team that your squad best matches up against. Regardless of the criteria, it awards the team with the best record with a perk that should be there for being the best over 162 games. Those six months should not be irrelevant.

Once the matchups are set, the league champ also receives a sizable advantage in the first round. If we’re all in agreement that the playoffs tend to get too long, then it’s important that the first round stays a best of five series. Because a short series tends to lessen the dispairity between a good team and an average team, the top team in the league is rewarded with four of the five games being at home. The format would be 2-1-2, which would garuntee that the opponent would get a home game for their fans in the first round. Once the LCS round came into place, the home field format would return to normal with the better team getting four of the seven.

Item # 3 is a little more interesting. When Bud Selig proposed the idea of three divisions in a league and the addition of the wild card, many purists scoffed at the idea and didn’t want to give it a chance. As time has passed it has become clear that the wild card has been a quality improvement to the game as we see it because of the fact that it keeps more teams in the hunt longer into the season. Because of this, we see better quality baseball deeper into the season from more teams. Adding a team to that mix would only help that even more.

Under my plan, the three division champions would be given a spot in the playoffs. From there, the next two top records would then be awarded a playoff spot in a special “play in game”. Simply put, a one game playoff the day after the regular season, similar to the ones we see in the event of a tie for the wild card or division. The winner of the play in game would then be awarded the trip to the LDS.

By implementing this concept, it keeps more teams in the hunt as well as lessens the idea that a weak division winner would be taking the spot of a team with a better record in the regular season.

How it would have looked in 2009:

New York
Los Angeles
Minnesota

Play in game between: Boston & Texas

Los Angeles
Philadelphia
St. Louis

Play in game between: Colorado & San Francisco

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us:

Carlos Zambrano and other musings

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

One of the reasons I love January is that hope springs eternal for Cubs fans. You look at the list of non-roster invitees and wonder if there will be a diamond in the rough, Lord knows we’ve had plenty of ‘em in Chicago. Today Carlos Zambrano was quoted on ESPN radio as saying that he wants to be a Cub forever – I liked this for a couple of reasons. First it indicates a positive attitude and that sure means something coming out of last year. Secondly, Z admitted that a lot of his subpar performance was due to conditioning issues (if only we could get Geo Soto to do a mea culpa on this issue as well!)

If the Cubs are to do well in 2010 it’s imperative that we get at least 15 wins out of him – an 18 to 20 win season could make the difference between a playoff team and an also-ran. The Central is going to be a tough division this year and, if the Cubs and Cards are both to go to the playoffs somebody is going to have to win the division and somebody else is going to have to be the best of the rest. I’m hoping for rebound years out of Zambrano and Dempster and am pessimistic about what we’ll get out of Lilly – only time will tell what he’ll be coming off the injury.

In other news the Cubs are reportedly interested in Contreras; despite the fact that he had limited time with the Rockies in 2009 (where he put up decent numbers) this move makes more intuitive sense to me than Sheets. When sharp Contreras can be a very effective pitcher and his downside isn’t as serious as is Sheets’ – perhaps a deal can be struck where we give Contreras a shot at doing what he wants to do most (i.e. start) during the first month when Lilly is unavailable. His price tag shouldn’t be that high and that in and of itself is reason for more consideration.

Like what you see here? Never miss new content. Follow Us: