Yo yo yo, what is up in your house? I mean, seriously, what is up in your house – the place is a mess! Time runneth short for me today, Cubs fans. I’ve got to wrap things up here at the _____________ Global Headquarters before I head up to scenic Door County, Wisconsin with my family tomorrow. Don’t worry, I’ll make a gesture of some sort at Miller Park as we pass through Milwaukee. And now, on with the news:

Ricketts hire a stat guy; Hendry gets jealous.  In a somewhat surprising story yesterday, the Cubs announced the hiring of Ari Kaplan as Statistical Analyst Manager. Kaplan has worked with many other major league teams to create computer programs that integrate traditional scouting data with sabermetrics. You can check out his Web site ariball.com here.

The hiring is great news for those us who have been wishing/hoping/screaming for the Cubs to get a little more up with (and, preferable, ahead of) the times when it comes to incorporating statistical analyses into their player development and acquisitions. And I wonder whether we’re finally seeing Tom Ricketts put his financial analyst hat over his Cubs cap and start workin’ the numbers when it comes to the team. With so many big contracts coming to a close, now would be a great time to start thinking about how to leverage the team’s financial resources going forward – and that means getting max value players without overpaying. Has the Ricketts Era finally, truly begun? We’ll see.

Oh, and in a strange twist, GM Jim Hendry made some apparently negative remarks regarding Kaplan’s hiring today. He told the sage Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald, “You just don’t draw people up on computers and plug them in and that means they can perform at Wrigley Field in a pennant race.” Yeah, we know, Jimbo. But this is the same strawman argument that often appears when advanced statistical research in baseball is brought up. No one is saying the Cubs should eliminate traditional scouting – especially when it comes to player development – but sabermetrics can more effectively analyze the numbers that players put up. In other words, scouting should focus on the process of playing baseball while stats-based analyses should focuse on the results. And, I might add, sabermetrics can prevent the signing of overvalued players such as Aaron Miles and John Grabow to unnecessarily expensive deals.

Fukudome follow-up: Red Sox say no-go.  Following up on my lead story from Tuesday, this article surfaced on the Comcast New England Web site yesterday. It reveals that, according to those mysterious sources, the Cubs and Red Sox did informally discuss the outside chance of a trade that would send Kosuke to Boston. But, as you might expect, Dome’s hefty $13.5 million salary next year made Red Sox management unwilling to get serious about the deal. The Cubs might have a better chance of pushing something through if Boston’s farm system wasn’t so dang good.

The only other team I’ve heard to have shown some interest in Kosuke is the Nationals. But their left-handed hitting right fielder, Roger Bernadina, is doing well (.812 OPS, including a .353 OBP, in 124 ABs). His right-handed platoon partner, Willie Harris, isn’t doing so hot, however – having put up a mere .587 OPS in 101 ABs. Again, as much as it pains me to say, it appears they could use Marlon Byrd more than Kosuke Fukudome.

Angels writer puts together dubious Wrigley slideshow.  Yes, the Cubs face the Anaheim-based Los Angeles Angels of the State of California, Fourth District, 22nd Quadrant this weekend. And I happened to come across this article/slideshow written by one Ellen Bell.

It’s all fine and dandy, but I gotta get a couple things off my chest: 1) Slide No. 5’s obligatory and unavoidable mention of the Billy Goat Curse is INACCURATE. Sianis was NOT denied entrance to Wrigley Field that day. He got in – with his goat – but was eventually asked to leave. 2) The YouTube clip cited in the caption to Slide No. 6, which depicts a “urinal trough dive,”  is NOT – I repeat, NOT – from Wrigley Field. Anyone who’s ever been to Wrigley Field can tell you this. Nice effort, Ms. Bell, but you fail – and, we hope, so will your precious Angels.

Jonesing for some Sam Fuld action?  Well then, just click on that link and check out one of lil’ Sam’s patented diving catches, which occurred in yesterday’s Iowa Cubs game. Also shown in that clip: SS/2B Darwin Barney ripping a ball into centerfield. Y’know…cough, cough…he could be called up if Ryan Theriot is traded…cough, cough.

The Cubs like Kefir.  And, no, I’m not talking about the guy on “24.” Perhaps this digestive aid can help the Cubs loosen up their constipated run production. Oh, and if you’re going to the game on Sunday, get their early to pick up a “ProBugs” toy courtesy of Lifeway Foods. Riiiiiiiiiight. Stay healthy, Cubs fans!


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