Archive for March, 2010

In the News: Theriot Strikes a Deal (Update)

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Good morning, good afternoon, good night, Cubs fans. You’re out! Actually, you’re in – In the News. And you’re in deep. A couple of notable individuals in the Cubs organization, on the other hand, are in the money. Let’s get to today’s top stories*:

Ryan Theriot may have lost in arbitration, but he’s won an endorsement deal.  Our scrappy, controversial and outspoken starting shortstop is now the official spokesperson for the RCN data/voice/TV network. He signed a two-year deal that will put him in advertisements and at several community events. Congrats to Ryan, though this could get kind of awkward next year if Starlin Castro is made starting shortstop and Theriot is dealt. But I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Ricketts looking to accelerate some dollars to the Cubs bottom line with “lighted billboard.”  Odds are, you may have caught wind of this story already, but it’s one to keep an eye on. The Cubs, having ended their relationship with Chevy,  are now looking to Toyota for a revenue stream. The, of late, greatly beleagured Japanese automaker would sponsor a lighted billboard to be perched over the left field bleachers. (The sign would also conveniently and partially block the Horseshoe Casino ad on the building across the street, from which the Cubs draw no revenue.)

So far, the plan has seen initial resistance from Alderman Tom Tunney regarding the sign’s effect on Wrigley’s historical landmark status. And some, more traditionalist Cubs fans are crying foul at the idea of putting a “jumbotron” (or “minitron”) at the Friendly Confines. I don’t really have a problem with the idea if it allows the team to add to its financial dominance over the NL Central.

Jim Hendry quietly goes about his charitable activities.  I know a lot of Cubs fans like to rip on Ol’ Jimbo, but he deserves some credit for his under-the-radar charity work. Case in point: Hendry made an appearance at a Omaha, Nebraska school this week to promote the Children’s Scholarship Fund, which helps low-income families pay school – even private ones. Oh, and for the sabermetrically inclined, Jimbo even tied baseball to algebra, saying, “It’s a combination of statistical analysis and great scouting.”

Coming soon to Lakeview: The Steve Goodman Memorial Post Office.  (Or something to that effect.) Sounds like a great idea to me. In other music news, and for purely selfish purposes, I’d like to recognize the passing of another brilliant singer-songwriter, Alex Chilton, who died yesterday at age 59. Click here to listen to one of the greatest pop songs ever recorded.

Andres Blanco to return this weekend.  Oh, right – the baseball team. Look for defensive specialist Blanco to be back in the lineup over the weekend. Y’know who else will be playing shortstop this weekend? Mike Fontenot. Hey, I’m happy Mike is doing well so far this spring but considering him as a backup shortstop makes less sense than ever if he’s the front runner for the starting second baseman position. Does Lou seriously think Fontenot can play 160-odd games? The roster remains as confusing as ever.

Tuesday’s game results – Cubs win 4-1.  In case you hadn’t heard, Carlos Silva – yes, Carlos Silva – pitched virtually lights-out on Tuesday as the Cubs dominated the Rangers for a solid victory. ESPN’s Rob Neyer thinks Silva could be an acceptable No. 5 starter for the Cubs if he (Silva, that is) gets his fastball up above 90 MPH. I’m keeping my expectations low, but ground balls do win baseball games – and if Carlos can get them, he could provide some value after all. He does seem genuinely happy and excited to be a Cub.

Today’s (Thursday’s) game: Cubs vs. Dodgers at 3:05 CDT.The baseball contest will be broadcast via mlb.tv if you have it. Here’s the Cubs lineup via Carrie Muskat:

Theriot SS

Kosuke RF

DLee 1B

Aramis Tracy 3B (←Aramis was a late scratch from the lineup but Muskat assures us it’s nothing to worry about)

Colvin CF

Soriano LF

Fontenot 2B

Geo C

Demp RHP

*Reddish text = hyperlinks to my sources. Check back for updates!

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Breaking news update: Angel Guzman has decided to have shoulder surgery. Carrie Muskat quotes Angel as saying Dr. James Andrew gave him “hope.” I assume this means Guzman is out for the season and his hopes of ever returning to the mound in a major league game remain quite precarious.

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Wordless Wednesday…(well maybe a few words about the DH)

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

I kind of like doing the whole wordless thing, but I’ve been wanting to comment on a post I found a few days ago, so I’m breaking the silence.

I can’t post the article in full because it’s subscription based on ESPN Insider, but the topic itself is an interesting one. We’ve long debated the idea of baseball doing away with the DH. Everyone has mixed feelings on the topic. Personally, it doesn’t bother me a whole lot that it’s still around. I love scoring a game with the DH because it makes for a cleaner sheet. At the same time, I can also see the argument that it’s not how baseball was created.

Tom Tango proposed a couple changes to how the DH is run in the AL which made me think a little.

1. House Rules

His concept here is that it’s the home manager’s decision whether or not to use the DH. It’s the way it’s done in spring training and may add an element of strategy for teams without a great offense when a team like the Yankees come to town.

2. One-and-Done

The concept here is that when it’s the pitcher’s turn to bat, regardless of where in the order that may be, the DH is essentially a pinch hitter that is given one at bat and then must be removed. The manager has the choice when the situation arrives whether or not to use a pinch hitter or simply let the pitcher hit. This concept is the one that most appeals to me because it’s most like the NL game.

3. My Bodyguard

I hate this idea, but it’s definitely interesting. The DH is tied to the pitcher. When the starter comes out, so does the DH that was attached to him.

4. Relay

Either the DH or the Pitcher must be removed each time. It’s basically the opposite of # 3.

What are your thoughts?

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In the News: The Shape of Things (UPDATED)

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

 Shapes of things before my eyes,
Just teach me to despise.
Will time make men more wise?

~ The Yardbirds

That song is running through my head as I write this – even though the shape of the Cubs 2010 roster, which is evolving as we speak, isn’t necessarily teaching me to despise. In fact, with one relatively minor annoyance, I’m mostly happy with what’s gone down thus far in spring training. And I’d like to use today’s “In the News” to build on Joe’s great post from yesterday about projecting the roster. So let’s get to the news*:

Now leading off for the Chicago Cubs…Ryan Theriot!  Well, er, probably. Most of the reports I’ve read about this indicate it’s a done deal, though the linked-to ESPN article indicates Lou is “80% certain” about the decision. This is my minor annoyance. I just feel like, in Kosuke Fukudome, you have a guy with strong splits against right-handed pitchers in terms of OBP and P/PA (pitches seen per plate appearance) and who’s, therefore, perfectly suited to this role. I know, I know…he’s not fast, but he’s a smart baserunner with (based on my wholly subjective take) better instincts on the basepaths than Theriot. That said, I have no problem with Theriot batting leadoff against left-handed pitchers, where his splits are very strong. (Ryan has a career .360 wOBA [.813 OPS] vs. LHP.) Why not just platoon them, Lou? Anyway, I’m not going to freak out too much about this decision. It could change. (In a related story, Kosuke’s hitting coach from Japan is back on the scene.)

Mike Fontenot, scrappy as ever, has a leg up.  (See the fourth paragraph of this linked-to Bruce Miles blogpost.) I’m referring to the second base position, of course. As Bruce mentions, this would free up Jeff Baker to be that oft-mentioned “super sub,” playing second, third and first base. I also read somewhere yesterday (can’t remember just where at the moment) that Baker will play some left field in spring training so Lou can get a look at him in the outfield. I know some Cubs fans will see this as bad news, but I’ve never completely given up on Mike Fontenot. He’s got a good skill set (compact swing, some power, good defense at second base), so he could rebound. I’m a little concerned about using him as a full-time player, but I’m guessing we’ll still see Baker at second base vs. left-handed pitchers and perhaps Andres Blanco (assuming he makes the team) there as well.

Ted Lilly is a father…oh, and he’s feeling better.  Ted and his wife welcomed a son (his first child), Theodore Roosevelt Lilly IV, to the world on Sunday. Congratulations to the happy couple. From a health perspective, Ted seems to be doing well and getting close to making a spring training appearance. As Carrie Muskat mentions in the linked-to article, we still shouldn’t expect Ted to make his first start until mid-April or very early May.

Update: Bruce Levine posted the following on his live chat page today (Tuesday) regarding Ted Lilly – “According to Piniella, Lilly will throw against live hitters on Thursday when he returns to camp then do that again a few days later. That will be followed by a simulated game and then, according to Piniella, he will get what he assumes will be one start in a Cactus League game before spring training ends. After that, Piniella said he will probably need only three minor-league starts before making his way back to the 25-man roster.”

Turning to the bullpen…  How is that shaping up? Well, nothing particularly earth-shaking to report. As Bruce Levine reveals in the linked-to article, Jeff Samardzija will throw a minor league intrasquad game tomorrow (Wednesday) to try and hold ground in the rotation battle. (Were I a betting man, I’d put money on the Shark winding up in the bullpen. But we’ll see.) And Jeff Gray, the right-hander acquired in the Aaron Miles/Jake Fox trade is finally expected to make an appearance later this week.

As I mentioned in the comments section of Joe’s post yesterday, I’m keeping an eye on RHP Thomas Diamond, who I saw pitch (on TV) in Vegas on Friday night. He’s a mountain of man who, if he can throw strikes, could be a intimidating presence in middle relief. And, of course, there’s still hot prospect Andrew Cashner, who seems to have trouble throwing strikes whenever I see him pitching. But he’s got tons o’ talent. Oh, and Ken Rosenthal reports a Cubs scout was on hand to watch potential trade-target Jason Frasor of the Toronto Blue Jays pitch (not very well) this week.

Update: There was some speculation about the Cubs going after veteran RHP John Smoltz for the bullpen or even a starting role. Ain’t gonna happen. Smoltz just accepted a job as an analyst on the TBS network. There’s some confusion on this, however, as baseball biz expert Maury Brown is insisting Smoltz is heading to MLB Network, not TBS.

Another, Smoltz-specific update: Maury Brown was nice enough to personally contact me and clarify that Smoltz will be working at both MLB Network (as an analyst) and TBS (commenting on Braves games). Thanks, Maury!

The first round of roster cuts hath occurred.  And more could be on the way, according to a reported, uh, Sun-Times report. I, for one, am glad I got a chance to catch a fleeting glimpse of Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson, both of whom could play starring roles on the Cubs someday. As expected, last year’s Rule 5 guy, David Patton, was sent to Double A to work on his consistency and try to erase the memory of Albert Pujols hitting that massive grand slam off of him last season. (Sadly, if Patton never pitches in a major league game again, this is probably what I’ll always remember about him. Twas like a lamb led to slaughter, I tell you.)

Major League Baseball has formed a platonic relationship with Victoria’s Secret.  That’s right, guys. You now have a valid reason to wander into a Victoria’s Secret location at the mall. (Lizzie, I await your commentary.) They’re selling baseball-themed women’s wear under the “PINK” label. In all seriousness, for some cutting remarks on the matter, check out this post by Twitter favorite Ari Bo Bari.

Previous day’s (Monday’s) game results: Cubs lose 5-2 to Rockies.  And, in case you haven’t heard, their bus broke down on the way to the game and Kevin Millar was HILARIOUS. Big Z gave up a bunch of hits but only one run and claimed he felt great.

Current day’s (Tuesday’s) game preview: Cubs vs. Rangers, 3:05 CDT. Gave coverage will be broadcast on WGN radio (and, presumably, via mlb.com’s Gameday audio). Word is, we’ll get yet another dose of Carlos Silva. He’ll quite ironically square off against a young, mega-fireballer by the name of Neftali Feliz. Here’s the lineup via Carrie Muskat:

Theriot SS

Kosuke RF

Nady DH

Byrd CF

Hoffpauir 1B

Soriano LF

Fontenot 2B

Soto C

Tracy 3B

And here’s the Rangers lineup via Rangers beat reporter Jeff Wilson:

Julio Borbon CF

Elvis Andrus SS

David Murphy LF

Nelson Cruz RF

Chris Davis 1B

Matt Brown 3B

Taylor Teagarden C

Joaquin Arias 2B

Neftali Feliz RHP

C.J. Wilson and Pedro Strop will follow Feliz. 

*Reddish text = hyperlinks. Check back for updates!

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Projecting the Roster: Week 2

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Another week means another edition of the weekly projecting the roster series. Before we get to that, I’d like to ramble mindlessly again in a shameless attempt at breaking my record for most lizzie awards in one post. Last week I managed to score four in one post. It was like a flashback to when Titanic was at the Oscars. Perhaps this week will be the same.

I don’t think I mentioned it the other day, but I purchased my ticket to see the Cubs at an away stadium for this year. Living in North Carolina, I usually make the trip up to D.C. each year when they come to play the Nats. This year, the series is during the week, so I had to come up with a new plan. Plan B this year is to catch the Cubs in Cincy in late August. The best part of the experience is the ticket I purchased. It was a $30 ticket in the….wait for it……ALL YOU CAN EAT section. I’m psyched. I will be arriving at the opening of the park and eating the first portion while waiting in line for seconds. That makes me wonder why every team doesn’t have a few sections with the all you can eat concept, escpecially teams that don’t sell out every game. I’ll be sure to give you the breakdown on the park and the food. I’ve heard good things about Great American Ballpark, so I’m excited.

Projecting the Roster – Week 2

Ryan Theriot
Kosuke Fukudome
Derrek Lee
Aramis Ramirez
Marlon Byrd
Alfonso Soriano
Geo Soto
Mike Fontenot

Carlos Zambrano
Ryan Dempster
Randy Wells
Sean Marshall
Tom Gorzelany

Xavier Nady
Sam Fuld
Jeff Baker
Koyie Hill
Andres Blanco

Carlos Marmol
John Grabow
Jeff Samardzija
Esmailin Caridad
John Gaub
Andrew Cashner
Mike Parisi

Comments:

  • I don’t want to admit it, but I think Tyler Colvin probably deserves the 5th outfield spot at this point for two reasons. 1. He can actually throw, which Nady cannot do. 2. He’s outplayed Sam Fuld tremendously and can play all three outfield spots. I’m just torn on the concept of him sitting on the bench. The only way I’ll go into the season being OK with him on the roster is if he’s going to get a start or two each week. If he’s not going to get that playing time, I’d rather her see him get regular at bats down in Iowa.
  • I think the bullpen is actually starting to take shape. Guab has shown early success and deserves a spot in the pen based on that and the fact that he was very good all last year. Samardzija is not going to make this rotation. I just don’t see him as a starter, but he’s good enough to be a member of the pen, especially since he’s has any type of major league experience. It’s something this group will be lacking so the more veterans the better.

Thoughts?

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GirlieView (03/12/2010)

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Happy Friday!

First things first, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (VFTB and/or GirlieView) and Facebook (VFTB and/or GirlieView)

Second things second, in the spirit of Funtastic Friday that Joe always starts off with a bang, let’s continue the fun by introducing a GirlieView Friday Quiz. Or maybe it’s a survey. Or maybe a contest. No prizes. Here’s the first installment.

Yes or no, will these players be on the Cubs Opening Day roster?

1. Carlos Silva
2. Mike Fontenot
3. Andres Blanco
4. Kevin Millar
5. Jeff Samardzija
6. Micah Hoffpauir

You vote, I’ll tally, and on Opening Day we’ll see who did the best!

Third things third, this week’s best!

Lizzies

  • Yeah, Silva sucked the chrome off of the proverbial trailer hitch.
  • It’s better to see bullpen competition amongst youngsters that see guys like Heilman taking up space.
  • The Casey McGehee thing still kinda hurts.
  • I do have a Dell Mini 9 that I want to hackintosh for shits.
  • As with most things Cubs, I urge against panic.
  • John “Ol’ Man River” Grabow, Mike “Rule 5″ Parisi, Andrew “Cash Money” Cashner, Thomas “Needs No Nickname ‘Cuz His Last Name Is So Cool” Diamond, John “LOOGY of the Future” Gaub and Justin “Case We Need Another Reliever” Berg
  • The most telling thing about the Milty issue is that you can’t find a former Cub team mate who will defend him.
  • It sucks getting old.
  • I used to wonder why my grandparents had no issue with going to be at 9p and waking up at half past the butt crack of dawn to eat breakfast. Now I know.
  • Let’s start making them the focus instead of a racially paranoid idiot in Seattle.
  • Meredith has selected the wrong Stacy from the address book and sent her dirty admission to her boss instead of her boyfriend.
  • 10 PM is late.
  • Joe, I’m with you on all sorts of levels today. Sort of creepy.
  • If you already have enough dough to do what ever you want for the rest of your life,you don’t need to profit from every business endeavor, some can be just for fun.

Lizard

  • I’m happy with the low expectations of the Media.
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