Archive for October, 2010

Stat of the Week: Scary Stats for Halloween

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

With Halloween coming up on Sunday, we offer you a top ten list of the “scariest” stats from this past baseball season.  If you have a fear of such things, we suggest you stop reading now!

10) The worst hitter in baseball playing as a regular last year was Baltimore’s Cesar Izturis with an MLB-low on-base plus slugging (OPS) of .545.

9) The worst pitcher in baseball was Jeremy Bonderman with an ERA of 5.53.

8) The worst fielder was Yuniesky Betancourt. He cost the Royals 21 runs with his poor defense at shortstop.

7) Chad Tracy went 1-for-24 (.042) with 11 strikeouts as a pinch hitter for Florida.

6) Angels’ outfielder Torii Hunter was caught stealing 12 times in 21 attempts, for an MLB-worst 42.9% stolen base percentage.

5) The Ranger’s Vlad Guerrero was thrown out attempting to advance on the bases in non-stolen base situations (for example, trying to go first to third on a single) an MLB-worst 12 times.

4) Ricky Romero, Toronto, threw 18 wild pitches, the highest total in the last five years.

3) Yankee A.J. Burnett hit 19 batters this season, the highest total (tied with two others) in the last six years.

2) Mark Reynolds’ 211 strikeouts was the second highest total ever.  Only he himself ever had more, with 223 in 2009.

1) The Royals’ Billy Butler grounded into 32 double plays. No one has hit into more in the past twenty-five years (Jim Rice, 35 in 1985)

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

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Don’t Vote!!

Friday, October 29th, 2010

The complete title of this book is “Don’t Vote – It Just Encourages The Bastards”. The author is P.J. O’Rourke. It was published in 2010.

I have read a number of previous books by P.J. O’Rourke, and I’ve enjoyed them. So when I saw this one, picking it up off the “New Books” shelf was a “no brainer”.

Here is P.J.’s bio, from the inside back jacket cover: “P.J. O’Rourke is the author of thirteen books, including ‘Parliament of Whores’ and ‘Give War A Chance’, both of which were #1 New York Times best sellers. His most recent book is ‘Driving Like Crazy’.”

Mr. O’Rourke is a conservative with a sense of humor. I enjoy his writing and his sensibilities. Some of his references are very deep, very dry, very obscure, and very over my head. But overall, I enjoyed reading this book.

There is vulgar language in this book. The author apologizes, saying that politics is a vulgar subject.

Some of the topics the author delves into include: Happiness (and the pursuit thereof), Economic Freedom, Political Systems, More Freedom, Morality (in Politics), Taxes, The Bailout, Health Care Reform, Climate Change, The End of the Automobile Industry, The Trade Imbalance, Campaign Finance Reform, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, Piracy, and others. P. J. O’Rourke actually makes those topics interesting and fun.

I was very disappointed to read that P.J. O’Rourke was once one of those troublemakers who ride around in cars and bash mailboxes with baseball bats. He’s lucky to have survived.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

– “We don’t vote to elect great persons to office. They’re not that great. We vote to throw the bastards out.”

– “‘Fat Cat’ would be the wrong epithet for Trump. If someone other than paroled former Enron accountants were keeping his books, he’d probably be shown to have a net worth less than that of your twenty-pound tabby who just shredded the drapes.”

– “At the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 America conducted an economic intervention that kept businesses that were staggering around, intoxicated by overtrading, and blinded by MBA moonshine from falling down the manhole of liquidation.”

– “It’s over. The social class known as assholes won.”

– “And when does life begin, legally? Right-to-life activists claim they know. But what if the soul is in the egg and we have to arrest every ovulating woman who failed to get laid? What if it’s in the sperm, and every adolescent boy has to be tried on a hundred million counts of manslaughter?”

– “Much of what happens in the American health care industry would – in any other business – be called shoplifting.”

– “’…a third of Medicare spending goes to patients with chronic illness in their last two years of life.’ Of course it does, that’s when they’re sick.”

– “Four things greater than all things are, —
Women and Horses and Power and War.”

– “A hundred years ago when foreign aid was unthought of (except as tribute or bribe) we were a respected and admired country. After a century of philanthropy everyone hates our guts.”

– “In a moment of childish innocence I once asked her what the difference was between Republicans and Democrats. She said, ‘Democrats rent’.”

– “And truthfully, all causes are boring.”

– “The aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War still makes me sick. Fine to save the fat, greedy Kuwaitis and the arrogant, grasping House of Saud, but to hell with the Shi’ites and Kurds of Iraq until they get some oil.”

I enjoyed reading “Don’t Vote, It Just Encourages The Bastards”, as I have enjoyed reading all of P.J.’s books. I recommend it, particularly to those who are willing to read about politics.

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Offseason Outlook: Starting Pitcher

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

What We Have

Ryan Dempster – Demp made $12.5 mil in 2010 and is scheduled for a little bump in 2011 to $13.5 mil. He has the option in 2012 as to whether or not he’d like to return to the Cubs at $14 mil. My guess is that he will, and I don’t mind one bit.

Carlos Zambrano – There are a lot of questions as to Zambrano’s future with this team. He did exactly what you’d want to see if you’re going to shop him in the offseason, and that’s win. In his final 11 starts, he put up crazy numbers: 8-0, 1.41 ERA, .183 batting average against. Now the question becomes “Is that the real Zambrano or is it the childish kid that under performs?” It’s been well documented here on this site that I dislike him, but I’m going to take the chance that maybe he really has turned the corner. I know I’ll probably get burned again by him, but those numbers are too good to ignore, especially when he’s not really taking the place of anyone better on the roster. Obviously if someone comes sniffing around and will blow you away with a package that doesn’t force you to pay any of his salary then you have to listen, but I actually willing to go one more year with Big Z.

Randy Wells – He’s cheap. Let’s start there. What we have is a different story. I think 2010 was a wake up year for him. He pitched really well in 2009 when no one had seen him. 2010 was a different story and now the ball is in his court to make the adjustments needed to be successful. His ERA in the second half was almost a full point better, so perhaps that’s a glimmer of hope. I still believe, but not as strongly as I did at the end of 2009.

Carlos Silva – It’s no secret that this guy is my boy. He’s my favorite pitcher on the staff, and I have no idea why. I love the fact that he doesn’t walk people, but really I think it’s just because I really like watching portly pitchers throw. I have no idea why, but I look at them and see durable guys that can throw it 100 mph. Obviously neither is really true, but it’s fun to think it anyway. He’s scheduled to make $11.5 mil in 2011. Ugh!!! However, $5.5 mil of that is being paid by the Mariners this year, which means Silva comes in at a very affordable $6 mil, which is a bargain if he continues to do his best Batman impersonation.

Tom Gorzelanny – He’s eligible for arbitration again this year so we’ll probably see another one year deal to avoid that mess. I have to wonder if he gets angry at the lack of respect he’s received from both the Pirates and the Cubs in terms of his ability as a starter.

What is on the Horizon

Casey Coleman He came on nicely down the stretch for the Cubs, so you’d have to think he at least deserves a look in spring training. I look at him as a guy that can get a few spot starts, but I don’t know that I’ve got him penciled in there as a legit starter until I see more from him.

Jeff Samardzija – His best role is going to be a starter. It seems like the Cubs have finally realized that. I really want to see him get a legit shot at winning a starting job this spring. I think he can win it and be successful.

Jay Jackson – 2010 was the first time Jackson saw any difficulty in his development. Prior to that, he’d been rocketing through the system. He’ll return to AAA and I think he’ll work things out to get back to top prospect status before the end of the season. I like this kid a lot.

Chris Carpenter – He’s not ready at this point, but he’s got good potential. Like Jackson, I need to see more from him, but I like him.

What is Available via Free Agency

Cliff Lee – He’s the prize pitcher on the market this year and I’m not touching him. Yes, I’ve seen how dominant he’s been this post-season and I know he can be a legit ace for this team. I’m not going to get into a bidding war with the Yankees for his services. I’ll take my money somewhere else.

Jon Garland – He was originally drafted by the Cubs, spent some time with the White Sox and most recently with the Padres. He’s as consistent as consistent comes.

Brandon Webb – He’s coming off an injury, but you have to look at what he’s done in the past and at least be intrigued.

Dontrelle Willis – He makes this list because I’m curious. He was once in the system for the Cubs before being traded to Florida.

Aaron Harang – The Reds have a $12.75 mil option on him for 2011 with a $2 mil buyout. I’m guessing they’ll let him go. He could be a bargain this off-season.

Joe’s Best Course of Action

There are the majority of people out there that want to spend the money on Lee. I’m not one of them. My plan is to address the starting rotation with a ML signing and a few minor league rolls of the dice. I start by making a quick offer to Jon Garland, if he doesn’t return to San Diego, before Lee has a chance to really drive up the market. He’ll get you 200+ IP and will win 12-14 games. That’s all we need at this point for a position that can be considered a strength for this team. If Garland decides to stay in San Diego then I make a smaller push for Harang. I think both Garland and Harang can fill a need on this team and can be had for little money and number of year committment.

At the minor league level, I roll the dice and offer minor league deals, with incentives should they make various benchmarks in the Majors, to Brandon Webb and/or Dontrelle Willis. Both have high upside and, if they’d sign a deal like this, could be a huge find.

Three Questions for Discussion (Now with a bonus 4th question)

1. Go on record right now and answer this question. Are you a Carlos Zambrano believer or not? Will we see the return to glory in 2011 or was the end of 2010 a mirage?

2. Which Randy Wells will we see this year, the 2009 Randy or the 2010?

3. Do you believe in Carlos Silva?

4. What is your plan for the 2011 starting rotation this offseason?

Joe’s Roster So Far

C – Geovany Soto /  Robinson Chirinos

1b – Adam Dunn / Micah Hoffpauir

2b – Blake DeWitt / Jeff Baker / Darwin Barney / Akinori Iwamura

SS – Starlin Castro

3b – Aramis Ramirez

OF – Alfonso Soriano / Marlon Byrd / Tyler Colvin / Kosuke Fukudome

SP – Ryan Dempster / Carlos Zambrano / Jon Garland / Randy Wells / Carlos Silva
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Chet’s Corner : Five Burning Questions (World Series Edition)

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Welcome to the first edition of Chet’s Corner!

Yup, that’s right, we now have a name for my Wednesday column here at View From the Bleachers.  Nobody is really sure how we feel about the name, but it’s a name and that’s better then no name….right?

Anyhow, on with the important stuff……..or not important depending on your point of view.

I decided today would be a good day for Five Questions.  It has been a while and with the World Series starting tonight, I found it apropos.

Question 1: What memory sticks out the most from past World Series?

This one is easy for me; Kirk Gibson, 1984 World Series, Game 5 @ Tiger Stadium.  It was the eighth inning and Goose Gossage was on the mound.  He insisted pitching to Gibby, and why not, he had owned Gibson up to that point.  Gibson knocked a three run homer into the right field upper deck and the Tigers went on to win the World Series.  It just goes to show, a pitcher or hitter can have the upper hand historically, but all it takes is that one time when the odds are wrong.

Question 2:  Have you ever attended a World Series game?

Not yet

Question 3:  When the Cubs make it to the World Series who would you most like to see them play?

Notice I said “when” and not “if”…….My pick would be the Boston Red Sox.  I love teams with history and I think this series would be chalk full of it.  Not too mention can you think of two better stadiums and fan bases for a World Series?

Question 4: Which 2010 World Series starting pitcher would you most like to see the Cubs pursue through free agency or trade?

I have been saying Cliff Lee since May……I still say Cliff Lee.  I know it’s a pipe dream but I think he would fit well with our squad.  Then again, who wouldn’t he fit with?


Question 5: Would you like to see more teams added to the Post-Season?

This has been a hot topic over the past few days and it sounds like it has legs.  I would not mind seeing 12 teams.  I think when you have 162 games for the regular season giving a few more teams something to play for is not a  bad idea.  I hate cheering through 140 games only to see my team wither over a tough two week stretch and fall out of the race. 

Well, that’s that.  Enjoy the World Series and here’s a little tip…..if you drink enough while watching and you squint your eyes real tight, the Rangers uniforms will look a lot like Cubs uniforms.  My little tip for the week……I’m givin’ you pearls here people!


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Offseason Outlook: Outfield

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

What We Have

Alfonso Soriano – Good news!!! His contract is nearing the end. Oh wait, that’s Fukudome. Sorry Cub fans, Alfonso is going to be with us through 2014 at a bargain basement price of $18 mil per year. Look on the bright side. Economically, when you factor in inflation, his contract gets cheaper each year.

Tyler Colvin – He got his chance to play on an everyday basis and ran with it. Or did he? I don’t like to think of Colvin as a masher that isn’t going to hit for average. To prove me right, he needs to work on drawing more walks and becoming a more dangerous hitter other than just with his home runs. Ideally, I’d like to see him be a guy who hits 25 HR, but also hits somewhere in the neighborhood of .290 with an OBP in the .370’s. He’s scheduled for auto-renewal on his contract because he’s not accumulated at least three years of service time.

Marlon Byrd – For all the crap that Jim Hendry gets, he doesn’t get enough praise on some of the good signings he makes. Sure, the Soriano one sucks, but what about the Marlon Byrd signing. In 2010, he made the All Star team (though it’s not a hard thing when someone from every team goes), and was paid only $3 million for the year. That’s crazy low. He’s signed for two more years at a rate of $5.5 mil for 2011 and $6.5 mil for 2012. Those are good prices for a guy that plays hard everyday and gets the job done with the bat and his glove. Good signing by Jimbo.

Kosuke Fukudome – Byrd good, Fukudome bad. It’s not that Fukudome is a bad player. In fact, he had the highest adjusted OPS of all the OF last year on the Cubs. The problem comes in the way of his contract. We spent too much for what we’ve received. I don’t know many people that were saying that when we signed him, considering the scouting reports on his said he was a cross between Ichiro and Hideki Matsui. Perhaps they didn’t tell us what parts of those players he was made up of. I don’t like to give Hendry too much grief for this one because we had to take a chance. It’s not like we were the only one in the market for him.

As for his future moving forward, it’s a tough call. He’s one of the more available pieces that Jim has to work with this offseason when it comes to the trade market and it’s my guess we’ll see some interest. Whether or not it’s enough to warrant pulling the trigger on a deal is a different story. I don’t look and Fukudome as a salary dump and I don’t see 2011 as a rebuilding year. Those two factors in play, if you’re going to move him, the deal has to either make you better this year or be too good to pass up for the future of the organization. I tend to believe we won’t see Fukudome traded, which is why I’ve included him on my 2011 roster. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m wrong.

What is on the Horizon

Sam Fuld – One of my favorite terms, though I never use them, are variations on the phrase “paint or get off the ladder”. There are a ton of them, and it seems like they apply to Fuld. Never before have I seen someone so hyped over nothing. He’s 28 years old and has never accomplished anything other than running into the wall at Wrigley and making a fantastic throw for a double play and then winning the AFL MVP award. Those two things seem to make him into a super prospect that just doesn’t get a chance. The fact is, Fuld is no more than a crappy fill in that can draw a walk and plays defense. Case closed.

Brad Snyder – I don’t know what to make of Snyder. Like Fuld, he’s an older prospect that just hasn’t been able to do enough to warrant consistent playing time in the Majors. He did get a brief look in September and struggled at the plate. Down on the farm, he was terrific at the plate in Iowa.

543   97 37  6 25 106 19  4 56 125 .308 .381 .568 .949

Baring any new additions in the OF, he’d probably be the first call from the farm should we need a corner OF. He’s a former 1st round pick of the Indians, so at some point people saw legit talent potential there.

Brandon Guyer – He was the Cubs minor league player of the year, playing for Tennessee and hitting really well. He’s a good base stealer and plays the outfield well. He’s ranked high on Arizona Phil’s list in my opinion, but he’s another prospect out of the 2007 class that has the potential to make a difference with the Major League team in the near future.

Brett Jackson -We’ve talked about him before. He’s the CF of the future. It’s up to Marlon Byrd to hold the fort down and then pass the torch. In my opinion, he’s the # 1 prospect in the system.

Jae-Hoon Ha – I don’t know much about this one, so we’ll defer to Arizona Phil, who recently posted his Top 15 prospect list that included him:

Ha was a catcher in HS, but was moved to the outfield after he signed with the Cubs in 2008 ($225K bonus). Then the Cubs moved him back to catcher at Instructs post-2009 and the experiment continued at Minor League Camp and Extended Spring Training (EXST) 2010, but it just didn’t work. Ha was moved back to OF and was promoted to Peoria at mid-season 2010 after hitting 350/376/575 at EXST. Moving from behind the plate to the outfield was like getting out of jail for Ha, as the Korean teenager hit 317/334/468 for the Chiefs while playing a stellar RF. He has a plus-arm and plus-bat speed with HR power, he has above-average speed and is a good base stealer, and (like Brett Jackson and Brandon Guyer) he plays an athletic outfield with absolutely no fear. He was moved to CF at Instructs post-2010 and made several outstanding catches as he displayed the range and defensive skills necessary to man the position. One area of concern with Ha is a tendency to double-clutch throws from the outfield (he had the same problem as a catcher), and the other is that he is a “hacker“ (a hyper-aggressive hitter who rarely walks). Ha will probably play CF at Daytona in 2011 and hit somewhere in the middle of the D-Cubs order.

Reggie Golden -Like Ha, the same applies to Golden, Arizona Phil says:

Golden gave up a chance to play college ball at the University of Alabama when he signed with the Cubs in July ($720K bonus), and then he missed most of the AZL season rehabbing a hamstring pull and a sore hand. He attended Instructs post-2010 where he finally got a chance at some regular playing time (hitting 263/364/500 with two HR and three doubles in 14 games), at least up until the last week when he suffered what appeared to be a right oblique strain. The stocky Golden is as strong as a bull and has as much power as any player in the organization (and he has HR power to all fields), he is a patient/choosy hitter who isn’t afraid to take a walk, and he has a plus-arm that plays in RF. However, he is a poor defensive outfielder, he has (at best) average speed, and he is an erratic base-runner who relies too much on instinct. Golden oozes self-confidence that borders on cockiness, and I’m not sure how coachable he is or will be, but if he can somehow smooth out the rough edges (outfield play and base-running), he should develop into a big-time middle-of-the-order run producer with 30+ HR power potential. If he can stay healthy through Minor League Camp, he has a reasonable chance of starting the 2011 season at Peoria.

Notable Names Available via Free Agency

Carl Crawford – The cream of the OF crop this year. He’d be a great fit if we didn’t have Soriano in LF

Jim Edmonds – I think 2010 for him was his last horrah, then again, I though his time with the Cubs was the end of the line as well.

Hideki Matsui – He would give Fukudome a playmate, but I’ll pass

Magglio Ordonez – For as much grief as he gets, he can hit.

Manny Ramirez – In a word: NO

Joe’s Best Course of Action

Do I think that bringing back the current crop of OF for another year is the best course of action? Probably not, but sometimes you’re not really given much of a choice. I’d love to see the Cubs look to move Fukudome and get a little cheaper in that 4th outfield spot. I don’t think it will happen, but it’s worth looking at it. Aside from them, you’re not moving Colvin and Byrd is too cheap to discard. That leaves Soriano, and he’s not going anywhere. What else can Hendry do? Best course of action is to play it close the belt on this one again see if there are any takers for Fukudome.

Three Questions for Discussion

1. 2010 saw Soriano play 147 games, virtually injury free. How many games will Soriano play in 2011?

2. Will Fukudome get traded this off-season? Should he?

3. What is your plan for the OF this offseason?

Joe’s Roster So Far

C – Geovany Soto /  Robinson Chirinos

1b – Adam Dunn / Micah Hoffpauir

2b – Blake DeWitt / Jeff Baker / Darwin Barney / Akinori Iwamura

SS – Starlin Castro

3b – Aramis Ramirez

OF – Alfonso Soriano / Marlon Byrd / Tyler Colvin / Kosuke Fukudome

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