Archive for October, 2010

In The News: Theriot Makes a List

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

This just in, Ryan Theriot is Bad – Baseball Reference released a list of the worst offensive players in 2010 that qualified for the batting title using adjusted OPS. The worst? Cesar Izturis. Number 3 on the list? None other than Ryan Theriot. (View the List)

Fox tags Ozzie to analyze stuff – For some reason, Fox feels like the World Series is not big enough. They’ve got to make it bigger and more worth watching. How do you do that? Hire Ozzie Guillen, of course. What makes me laugh is how television stations freak out now since the Janet Jackson thing, yet they continue to push the envelope with moves like this. Either go all in and not worry about what you’re going to hear and/or see, or don’t hire guys like Guillen. Me, I don’t want to hear him on there for no other reason than I can’t understand a single thing the guy says.

Mike Quade is a BP God – Rick Morrissey had a piece about Quade’s travel’s coming through the minors. What stood out to me was this snippet.

And it wasn’t just that Quade threw perfect pitches where other batting-practice pitchers couldn’t find the strike zone with a guide dog. It was that he was an iron man.

”We had a stretch of maybe 40-plus days where it was 90 degrees in the South Atlantic League, and Mike was out there throwing BP to the entire team,” Cheek said. ”He wasn’t doing it in shifts. He was doing it every day to everybody.” (Source)

Girardi is Going Back to NY? – If you believe what you read, then that’s exactly the case. Three years at a total of $10 mil. (Source)

Ricketts is gonna be on TV – Not Tom, but Todd. If you watch Undercover Boss, you probably already know this. If not, tune in on November 7 to watch the episode.

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Offseason Outlook: Third Base

Monday, October 25th, 2010

What We Have

Aramis Ramirez – We got confirmation from Ramirez late in the year that he would be back with the Cubs for 2011. He has a player option for 2011 for $14.6 mil, which he’s expected to exercise and then the Cubs hold an option for 2012 for $16 mil with a $2 mil. buyout. Before you get upset about the fact that Ramirez is coming back after a disappointing 2010 campaign, think about the fact that since he’s come to the Cubs he’s always been a legit bat in the heart of the order. He’s been one of the best clutch contact hitters in the lineup and has been the one guy you want up in those situations before last year. Let’s not dismiss that because of one season that included injuries. Ramirez has said that the hand injury was not the cause of his slump at the beginning of year, but I truly believe that he did not want to make an excuse. Once he came back healthy, we saw a July and August that were reminiscent of old, and lead me to believe that he can be a great hitter again in 2011. Beyond that, I’m not sure, but for 2011 I’m putting my chips all in on Rammy.

What is on the Horizon

Josh Vitters – Taken with the 3rd overall pick in the 2007 draft out of high school, the time table worked out perfectly for him to develop through the system for four or five years while Ramirez finished out his time in Chicago and then take over as the heir apparent at third base. The only problem is that Vitters hasn’t held up his end of the bargain and is dangerously close from being completely off the radar as a potential major league candidate after a pretty disappointing 2010 that ended with a broken hand. There is talk that the Cubs may give him a serious look at first base given the lack of depth at the position in the system. He’s been playing third base in the Arizona Fall League to make up for lost time due to the injury and he’s still struggling. As of this writing, he’s hitting .242 / .278 / .394 in eight games. He’s got to improve his plate discipline dramatically to make an impact and launch himself into prospect relevance again. 2011 is a big big year for him.

Marquez Smith – He had a big year in 2010 that got him noticed as a name that can potentially pass Vitters as the top third base prospect in the system. At the AAA level in 2010, Smith hit .314 / .384 / .574 with 17 HR and 53 RBI in 91 games. The knock on him at this point is the fact that he’s not broken out like that before and he’s going to be 26 next year. Still, more production like that should get him a legit look and Major League playing time, especially considering Ramirez and his injury history.

Russ Canzler – I don’t know that Canzler really has a chance to be considered a top prospect, but he had a good year in AA so I felt like I should at least mention him. He was selected out of high school back in 2004 in the 30th round. That right there tells you he probably wasn’t highly recruited to major colleges. He’s worked his way through the system slowly. His 2010 Double-A numbers appear to indicate that he’s ready for the next challenge, so we’ll see where the Cubs go with him, especially with the concept of moving Vitters to 1st. He can hit for power and draws a fair amount of walks, so that’s always a positive when you’re developing.

Honorable Mention:

Matthew Cerda – He makes the list as an honorable mention for the simple fact that he struck out 68 times, but also drew 68 walks in 120+ games. That translates to a guy that can draw just about 90 walks over the course of 162 games.

Notable Names Available via Free Agency

Garrett Atkins – If ever there was a guy you could call a product of Coors Field, it’s Atkins. Look at these splits in his career:

Split     G   PA 2B 3B HR RBI   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
Home    400 1586 89  6 49 268 .321 .380 .495 .875
Away    417 1687 80  1 50 220 .252 .322 .406 .728

Adrian Beltre – This is an interesting one. He signed a two year deal with the second year being optional for him at his discretion. In 2010, the Red Sox paid him $9 million. Where it gets interesting is his 2011 scheduled salary. The contract called for him to have a player option at $5 million. After the year he had, that doesn’t seem very good for him to return under. However, in his contract were two incentives that allowed him to make a little more. Both incentives were based on plate appearances, given Beltre’s injury history. The key incentive was if he at 640+ plate appearances in 2010. If that happened, his salary schedule would double to $10 million. Total number of plate appearances for Beltre in 2010? 641. My guess is he’ll return at that rate for 2011.

Jorge Cantu – I feel like I remember someone suggesting his name in the comment section so I put him on the list. I watched him play in Tampa and didn’t like him.

Brandon Inge – Another guy that someone loved watching. He was mentioned in the comments so he makes this list. I love his versatility, but not his skill.

Joe’s Best Course of Action

With Ramirez deciding that he’s going to be returning, it’s clear that there is not a major need at the third base position, that is as long as you subscribe to the same theory I do that Rammy will be back to full strength in 2011. That being said, I think we’ve got enough in house to hold down the fort from a backup role standpoint to where the money can be better used to address other areas of this team. I look to Darwin Barney, Jeff Baker and Aki Iwamura to be available to fill the role behind Ramirez on days he needs a rest.

Three Questions for Discussion

1. Will we see the return to form of Aramis Ramirez in 2011? What will his numbers look like?

2. If you had to gamble on a current member of the system to be the next third baseman for the Cubs, who is your horse for that race?

3. What is your plan for the 3B position as a whole moving forward?

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

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GirlieView (10/25/2010)

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Good Monday morning! We’ve got some ground to cover here today so let’s get to it!

Last Week’s Discussion Question

In last week’s column I asked you to guess who will make up the World Series this year. Well, now we know! Congrats to the following folks who correctly picked Texas vs. San Francisco!

  • CubbieDude
  • Doc Raker
  • Joe Aiello

Survey Results

Last week I also promised some further results from our VFTB Annual Reader Survey. This week I’ll cover the question “Which of the following types of posts would you enjoy reading?” Respondents (64 total) were able to pick more than one type. Here’s how it went:

With these results in mind, you should all be pleased to know that Joe picked up the duty of news reporter and his “In the News” column debuted this week.

We received many suggestions in the free-form comment areas of the survey and Joe is analyzing these as we speak to determine what we can implement here based on your opinions and suggestions. I can cover some things we WON’T be implementing:

  • Cash prizes – tell ya what, you guys send the cash and we’ll be more than happy to find ways to award it. :-)
  • Gratuitous nudity – we wouldn’t want to try to compete with the many, many web based resources which are already fluent in this type of content.
  • More Illinois-based commenters – we can’t really control where our audience lives.
  • Make the Cubs a better team – oh how I wish we could produce this!

We’ll be back another time to talk about some things that we will be doing moving forward, and perhaps solicit some further discussion based on your ideas. Thanks again for all the great suggestions!

Now onto our weekly recap!


  • Cubs v Royals
  • I’d like to see Jim Hendry work out a deal with Geo to buy out his three arbitration years
  • Now, I’m on the let-the-kids-play bandwagon, as far as backup catchers are concerned.
  • [Guzman] was just coming into his own and was a guy the bullpen really could have used this past season.
  • I don’t want to see Ryno run this team in 2011 because (a) they’ll suck and he’ll take the blame, and (b) it’s not like he has magic powers.
  • 2 year deal for Quade. Cannot say that I hate this.
  • It’s all about getting this craptastic roster to perform, and he did show that he could do that… least for a few months.
  • 24-13 = 96-52 (very unsabermetric math).
  • Like kissing your sister, they say.
  • Is your sister cute?
  • no more no trade clauses.
  • On the upside, the beer lines at Wrigley should once again be manageable next year!
  • There is no correct answer, just degrees of wrongness.
  • I would rather see a fan pulled out of the stands to play 1B over LaHair, Hoffpauir, or Nady.
  • I mean, I knew he was our Third Base coach but outside of that……nothing.
  • Managing is different then playing folks!
  • The orchestration of egos, checkbooks, attitudes and desire actually mean more then teaching the subtle nuances of fielding or hitting.
  • This is your garden variety Cub fan at it’s finest, screw what is good for the team it will just be cool to have Ryno out there.
  • Changes need to be made to players mentalities where these fundemental deficiencies are concerned.
  • The way the roster looks, he’ll need a LOT of luck.
  • I think that if this ballclub, as currently constructed, is a .500 team next year Q could be nominated for sainthood.
  • I believe the table will be set for [Sandberg] in 2-3 yrs, with the difference between now and then being, the cards in the deck won’t be stacked against him.
  • Can’t hit a lick, but it’d be fun watching that funky stance all year.
  • My plan is to pray that Castro does not regress or get seriously injured.
  • I thought being a Yankee was being overpaid by definition.


  • The disappointment never ended but we never stopped watching.

Monday Morning Discussion Question

So, now that we know who’s playing in the World Series, who will win it and in how many games?

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (VFTB and/or GirlieView and Facebook (VFTB and/or GirlieView)

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Good Call: Lloyd McClendon

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Conventional wisdom says the best trades are even for both teams. Personally, I’ve always preferred deals that are lopsided in the Cubs favor. On December 8, 1988, the Northsiders fleeced the Cincinnati Reds. We just didn’t know it at the time.

During that offseason, GM Jim Frey sent outfielder Rolando Roomes to Cincy for 29-year-old utility player Lloyd McClendon. At first it seemed like a meaningless transaction. McClendon was too old to be a prospect, and he had shown little prowess at the plate in two Major League seasons. His potential value for the upcoming 1989 campaign appeared to be his versatility. McClendon had experience at multiple positions.

It didn’t take long for his right-handed bat to come around. As a platoon player vs. LHP, McClendon was hugely valuable to a team that would end up in the postseason:

.339/.432/.554, 6 homers in 121 at bats

Paired with rookie Dwight Smith, McClendon helped turn LF into a productive offensive position for the 1989 Cubs. In addition, he filled in all over the diamond, playing 28 games at 1B, six games at 3B, and five games at catcher.

Unfortunately, McClendon was only a one-year solution, as he moved on to Pittsburgh the following year. And what about our friend Rolando Roomes? Well, Mr. Roomes enjoyed an uneventful career, hitting .254 with no power or plate discipline in his three seasons. He was out of baseball by the age of 28.

OK, so the Cubs didn’t pull a “Jeff Bagwell for Larry Andersen” deal, but it certainly was a swindle. Nice work by the late 1980s front office. If only the current bunch could pull off a similar fleecing or two.

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Offseason Outlook: Shortstop

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

What We Have

Starlin Castro -I think it’s clear we have a star in the making, right? I’ll be the first to apologize for saying the Cubs should not have rushed him. I was wrong. Castro is the clear cut starter at SS for this team for next year and years to come. His fielding improved once he got his confidence that he belonged in the league and he made a strong case for rookie of the year, though I think his late season slump may have taken that award away from him.

The only things I need to see from him going forward in terms of improvement are better base running instincts, better plate discipline (which comes with age), and the power that will come as he matures. Once those skills develop, I could see him make a strong case for being one of the elite SS in the game. He’s that good.

What is on the Horizon

Hak-Ju Lee – It’s important not to be discouraged by the regression from Lee in 2010. He dominated Low-A Boise in 2009, his first season in pro ball coming over from Korea, but struggled in comparison to those numbers this year at Peoria. When all was said and done, two things need to be remembered. First, he still hit very well, especially considering the language barrier and his age (19). He finished the season with a line of .282 / .354 / .351 with 1 HR and 32 SB in 122 games.

Lee is a guy who, if he can continue to progress into the player the Cubs think he is, can supplant Castro at SS because of his glove. That would give us a middle infield loaded with talent and even more exciting: speed. Be patient Cub fans, but keep an eye on this kid in the next few years. He’s a good one.

Junior Lake – He’s another foreign born youngster, hailing from San Pedro, DO. He’s not a high praised prospect, but he did show some improvements in a few areas he needed to work on. In 2009 he put up a putrid strike out rate of 28.2%. To put that in perspective, that’s Adam Dunn range without the walks to go with it. He basically doubled his walk output and cut down a respectable amount of his K’s. He’s going to need to continue to work on that if he is going to have any shot at making it to the Majors. I don’t have high hopes.

Notable Names Available via Free Agency

Craig Counsell – Can’t hit a lick, but it’d be fun watching that funky stance all year.

Cesar Izturis – He makes this list because as long as Jim Hendry is the GM and Izturis is still playing, there is always the danger he’ll wind up on our team.

Derek Jeter – There is no way he leaves the Yankees and no where to really put him with Starlin locked in as the starter of the future, but it would be cool to have his bat as the leadoff man, wouldn’t it?

Jose Reyes – The Mets have a club option on him for 2011 so there is a chance he’d come back with them. I’ve heard rumblings that they would exercise his option and look to trade him.

Jimmy Rollins – He’s signed with a club option for 2011 at a very cheap $8.5 mil. He’s going back to Philly, but he makes this list because there is always the chance he goes to free agency if Philly goes in a different direction.

Joe’s Best Course of Action

I think it’s pretty clear that Starlin is the SS of the future for this team. There is the potential there for him to be a bonafide star in this game. That being said, the only real decision that needs to be made from there is who will fill in for him in the event of a day off. I don’t anticipate there being too many days off, so I don’t see the position being one that warrants addressing via free agency. At this point, there really isn’t anyone in the system with the exception of Darwin Barney that can fill that role with any competence. Barring a minor league contract signed by a veteran, Barney has that spot. I save my money go in house for the SS position.

Three Questions for Discussion

1. Starlin had some slumps and streaks where he was on fire. What do you expect from him for 2011 for the following numbers: Avg / OBP / Slug / HR / SB

2. How important is the backup SS role on this team, given Starlin will play just about every day? Is it a position that should be addressed via trade / free agency or filled from within?

3. What is your plan for the SS position as a whole moving forward?

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

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