Archive for February, 2010

USA on Track (and on Snow)

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

With six days left, Canada has fallen too far behind. Before the Olympics started it looked like they had a good shot at winning the medal race. But the United States has risen to the occasion and is in the lead, with Germany coming on strong the last couple of days. Vancouver’s proximity to the United States gives the US an element of the home field advantage as well. Here is the medal situation as of this morning:

2010 Winter Olympics Medal Count
Country Golds Total Medals
United States 7 25
Germany 7 21
Norway 6 14
Russia 2 11
Canada 5 10

Nevertheless, based on the remaining events, we still predict that Canada will come on strong. In fact, we predict them to win the most medals in the remaining six days (15, compared to 9 for USA and 7 for Germany). Our projected final totals at this point are:

2010 Winter Olympics Medal Projected Totals
Country Golds Total Medals
United States 10 34
Germany 9 28
Canada 10 25
Norway 8 20
Austria 5 16
Russia 4 16

While we fell short on our original projection for Canada, our original United States projection (10 golds and 33 total medals) is still right on the button.

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

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In the News: Soriano knees fans in “worry groin”

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Good day, Cubs fans. With spring training revving up to full speed, there’s plenty of goings on in the baseball world. Sure, some of it amounts to little more than, “Kosuke Fukudome just walked into the locker room!” But there’s other news afoot as well.

For starters, I’m going to assume most of you know by now that Ryan Theriot lost his arbitration hearing over the weekend. That means he’ll make $2.6 million dollars in 2010, not $3.4 million – still a decent raise. Naturally, Ryan said there are no hard feelings after the “Showdown in St. Petersburg  Tampa,” and he’s issued an open challenge to rock star prospect Starlin Castro to, “…come get it” (referring to his job as starting shortstop, of course). So life goes on. Here are the rest of today’s top stories*:

Oh, my aching worry groin!  What’s a “worry groin,” you ask? Why it’s that very vulnerable part of every Cubs fan that aches involuntarily whenever we hear about an injury or potential injury to a star player. Case in point: Alfonso Soriano reported to spring training camp yesterday and said that his surgically repaired left knee feels “80, 85%.” Immediately after making this statement, Cubs fans nationwide fell to the ground and assumed the fetal position, crying out, “Ice! Get me some ice!” Fortunately, there’s plenty of ice here in the Chicago area. Well, actually it’s more like slush. Alfonso did add, “Maybe when I test it, it’s 100%.” So, please, stand up and try not to look funny when you walk.

UPDATE: Aramis Ramirez keeps his hands off of Cubs fans’ collective worry groin by telling Carrie Muskat that he feels “100%.” I like that number!

CHoP cuts Cubs out of his plans.  One of the hot stories I was following after Theriot got picked off first in arbitration was the possibility that the Cubs might use the money saved to sign former Phillies starter/reliever Chan Ho Park. And it appears our guys were very high on Park’s list of preferred destinations but, alas, he chose a team with a “history [of] championship contention.” That would be the New York Yankees. Ouch. Ah well – it’s money that stays in the bank and CHoP is hardly a lock to be an ace reliever, though he did have excellent numbers in that role last season. Bruce Levine is still mentioning a couple of Toronto Blue Jays relievers as potential trade targets.

Ricketts add to front office staff.  The new Cubs ownership group isn’t kidding around when it comes to marketing the team and, thereby, presumably bolstering every possible revenue stream. Yesterday, the organization announced that it’s added two marketing-related staffers: Jahaan Blake is the Cubs’ newly created Director of Fan Experiences, and Kevin Saghy is the team’s new Public Relations and Marketing Specialist. Think of these as “human capital upgrades” to Wrigley Field, I guess.

Update: The Ricketts addressed the team this morning in a closed-door meeting.

Another update: According to Bruce Miles, the Ricketts’ freelance PR guy really aggravated the press corp – including Gordon Wittenmyer, who sent out this angry tweet. And this one, too.

Angel Guzman tells heartbreaking tale of his brother’s death.  In one of my first “In the News” segments, I reported on the tragic story of the murder of Cubs’ reliever Angel Guzman’s brother. Angel himself commented on these very difficult events to Carrie Muskat recently. Tough stuff.

Who is Michael Parisi?  This nice profile answers that question, giving us some background on the dark horse candidate for the Cubs’ bullpen (or even starting rotation). I know many fans frowned on the David Patton Experiment last season but, c’mon, Parisi is a Cards prospect. How sweet would it be to steal an arm from St. Louis and turn him into something productive? He’s got a cutter, too!

Who is Jeff Stevens?  Yet another bullpen arm, of course. (Seriously, we’ve got a ton of ’em.) If you watched carefully toward the end of last season, you may have caught Stevens throwing a few innings. The Cubs picked him up in the DeRosa deal, and he’s another guy who could “come out of nowhere” to solidify a decidedly unsettled bullpen. Plus, he’s working with Greg Maddux for God’s sake!

Who is Jose Ceda?  Damnit, Daver, stop! OK, OK – Ceda is not another Cubs’ bullpen arm. But he was until the team traded him  to the Florida Marlins for Kevin Gregg during the ’08-’09 off-season. Many of us (well, me, anyway) wondered whatever happened to Ceda. He was, after all, a pretty high-ceiling arm with closer stuff. Well, as this rather nightmarish story explains, Jose Ceda accidentally shot one of his friends in 2008. He’s now attempting a comeback.

Did you buy Cubs tickets last Friday?  If so, or if you’re still thinking about buying them, check out this Web site. It allows you to zero in on exactly where your purchased or prospective seats are situated. Pretty cool.

*Bolded phrases leading off each paragraph are hyperlinks. Check back for updates!


Update: All Cubs players are now in camp, per Carrie Muskat.

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GirlieView (02/19/2010)

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Couple of exciting things in GirlieView land this week!

First, I’m now on Twitter ( Actually I’ve been on Twitter for a long time, but all I’ve done is listen in on what everyone else has had to say. I thought in honor of Spring Training starting I’d actually get in the game! So if you’re inclined to follow along please do so, especially since you folks already know what GirlieView is. I’ve already disappointed a handful of followers who thought GirlieView = View of Girlies.

Second, I’ve compiled the Lizzie and Lizard stats for YTD 2010. I’ll post them today then maybe every month or two thereafter, particularly when conversations pick up. Here are the current stats! (This includes today’s.) They’re in alphabetical order by screen name.

  • cap’n obvious – 1 Lizzie
  • CubbieDude – 1 Lizzie,  1 Lizard
  • dat_cubfan_daver – 17 Lizzies, 2 Lizards
  • Doc Raker – 7 Lizzies
  • Joe Aiello – 4 Lizzies, 1 Lizard
  • jswanson – 6 Lizzies
  • kris – 1 Lizzie
  • MJ – 1 Lizzie
  • MoondogKP – 1 Lizzie
  • Mr. David M. Beyer – 1 Lizzie, 2 Lizards
  • Seymour Butts – 9 Lizzies
  • wpbc – 2 Lizzies

Now, without further ado …


  • Does anyone realize the dichotomy of wanting your team to sign high priced free agents at every chance and then complaining of higher ticket prices.
  • I’d hope visitors would be so intrigued by the witticisms being exchanged here that they’d make an effort to explore the blog further and come back for more.
  • a certain prospect, who’s name we will not speak of for fear of a Corey Pattersonesque jinx
  • If a rhyme ‘s what i takes,
    then a rhyme I will make.
    For a shot at a Lizzie
    makes my blood run all fizzy.
    So I’ll send this retort
    to the above fine report,
    thus begins a new chapter in our favorite sport.
  • Not too shabby
    And it’s good you’re not crabby
    For with your butt showing willy-nilly
    I’d think you’d be chilly
  • cigars, Courvoisier and corn chips
  • Chan Ho Park: good fastball, great beard
  • They can be prayed about, hexes, curses and pincushion dolls can be formulated, but we all just have to wait and see.


  • I’ve got Cubs tickets – I’m feelin’ good.
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Funtastic Friday: Spring Training Questions

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Originally we had planned on Great Moments in work idiocy, but I’ve decided to issue a challenge to you, the reader, on that topic. E-mail me some good stories you’ve encountered via work. Perhaps they’re related to customers, or that annoying / weird co-worker or boss. Whatever the story, make it good and keep it PG-13. We’ll run some of the better ones next week.

In the meantime, here is a list of questions I received from one of my favorite readers, Tom C, courtesy of his dad. Tom’s an owner of Pepicelli’s Pizza in Ashland, VA. They make a mean pie, I have to admit. I’ve had a chance to get to know Tom and can vouch for his ability. If you’re in the Ashland, VA area, take some time to order from Pepicelli’s.

1.  Geovany Soto lost 40 pounds.  Is he back?

2.  How good is Starlin Castro?

3.  Will Aramis play a full year?

4.  Will Lou play Koske through May, then send him back to Japan?

5.  Can Derrek equal last year?

6.  Is there any reason to give Silva more than mop-up innings?  He was terrible even when he was good.  Why did we get him?

7.  Will somebody point out to Carlos Marmol where the plate is?

8.  Can Mike Fontenot regain some of his 2008?

9.  Jeff Baker’s babip was .374 with the Cubs last year.  Will he fall into Mendoza territory?

10.  Can Jeff Samardzija pitch?

11.  Will we miss Rich Harden?

12.  How much further will Alfonso sink?

Let’s get some discussion going on today.

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In the News: Cubs DL in “best shape ever”

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Well, I was going to throw a huge, PCR Day gala here on VFTB, complete with cigars, Courvoisier and corn chips. But because the whole event has been so confusing and anticlimactic this year, I’m just going to skip it. Most people seem to agree with my original assessment – that PCR Day was, in fact, yesterday. But the countdown clock on indicates that it starts today (in three hours, as of this writing). Plus, it appears about 95% of Cubs players are already in camp anyway, so screw it. Let’s get right to the news*:

“I worked hard this off-season and want to make my presence known right away.”  No, this quote didn’t come from an aging slugger hoping to make the Cubs bench or a young fireballer aiming for the bullpen. It comes from the Cubs disabled list (DL), which showed up to camp in “the best shape of my career – hell, the best shape ever,” and looking to make an immediate contribution to  subtraction from the team. And so it did, as it was revealed that RHP Angel Guzman had arthroscopic knee surgery two weeks ago to repair a torn meniscus. Taking the extra base, the DL mentioned off-handedly that RHP Jeff Gray, acquired from Oakland in the Foxy Miles trade, has a strained groin as well. Both players are projected to be about two weeks behind schedule, but neither is expected to start the season on the DL – so, clearly, you’re not in midseason form after all, my man.

Ted Lilly mocks Phil Rogers.  At the risk of burying the lede here, the big news for me yesterday was that Ted Lilly threw a verbal fastball into the ribcage of the Tribune’s Phil Rogers. Good Ol’ Phil, who recently discovered Bill James – and Fangraphs! – speculated in a recent column that Ted could be out until June. (If you really want to know which column, let me know, and I’ll look it up. I think it was Sunday’s.) Yet, the word all along has been that Ted should be ready by late April/early May. Naturally, Ted is aiming for Opening Day. But the Cubs don’t really need a fifth starter until roughly April 19th, so I see no reason to rush the Lillyhammer back into service. Let’s just say May 1st and get on with our lives.

Update (and not a good one):  Gordon Wittenmyer tweets that Ted Lilly has a bad knee and will be visiting a doctor for an MRI.

Theriot arbritration update.  On the off-chance you haven’t heard, it looks like tomorrow (Friday, February 18) is D-Day for the team’s salary conflict with its starting shortstop. An interesting sidenote on “The Showdown in St. Petersburg” is that Bruce Levine speculated in a recent live chat  that the Cubs may be adamant about sticking to their salary figure because they’re trying to reserve some cash to sign former Phillies reliever Chan Ho Park. Veddy inte-des-ting.

Sweet Lou wants to get back on top. Ewwwwwww.  He’s talking about baseball, of course. Expect a continuing onslaught of similar cliches, punctuated by plenty of “Looks.” Here’s a more in-depth look at Lou’s future from ESPN writer Melissa Isaacson.

Bud Selig is a pain in the ass.  Or that’s what I’m guessing Tom Ricketts and Crane Kenney are saying right about now. The commish has gone on record stating that he opposes the Cubs plan to finance their new spring training facility in Mesa, Ariz. Again, I’m begging off on this story – if anyone out there has a strong, informed opinion, please do share. I just love the fact that Bud himself didn’t, in fact, speak for himself but had his lackey Bob DuPuy do so. “The commissioner is opposed to the proposed legislation,” DuPuy said. He then added, “The commissioner is also opposed to snuggies because they don’t fit right as well as nuts on his hot fudge sundae.”

Cubs sign young Korean pitcher.  The team continues its impressive and expansive reach into the Pacific Rim with this signing. When I first read that Kim Jin-Yeong throws 92 MPH, I wasn’t immediately impressed. Lots of guys can do that, right? Well, considering he’s only 18 years old and I don’t believe Korean pitchers are generally known for their velocity to begin with, it’s actually pretty damn cool. Good luck to him.

Thomas Diamond is in the house!  One of the dark horse candidates for the Cubs bullpen is RHP Thomas Diamond – a former No. 1 draft pick who the team snagged off waivers from the Rangers last year. Like Jeff Samardzija, Diamond had some excellent results in winter ball and is a name to watch out for – and an excellent name at that. I mean, come on, the guy is called “Diamond.”

*As always, bolded phrases leading off each paragraph are hyperlinks. Check back for updates!


Update:  Big Z would’ve vetoed any trade and he’s dropping his cutter!  Bruce Miles has the latest on his blog. The trade veto thing  doesn’t surprise me – the cutter thing does. Well, to clarify, I’m surprised and a little upset that Carlos would announce something like that to the press, where other teams can catch wind of it. If it improves his control and lowers his walk rate, great. But let other clubs do their own scouting.

Update: Going to Wrigley Field to buy Cubs tickets tomorrow? Look for the Ricketts family who will be there greeting fans and passing out hot coffee and donuts.

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